The Price of Our Ransom

What does God think of humanity?  What does God think of us?  There is plenty of evidence to suggest that what we think He thinks, and what He actually thinks, are often two very different things.

The bloodshed in the last century alone causes devout people sometimes to feel God should intervene, and perhaps, just as in the time of Noah, start over with a remnant.  After all, wars and ideological struggles, the persecution of Christians in various parts of the world, genocide, tyranny and intentional famines, homicide and  the holocaust that is abortion have been responsible for the deaths of 1.5 – 2 billion people in only one century of time.   There is not a place on earth that has been unaffected by senseless bloodshed, a situation which at times seems almost hopeless, even to people of strong faith.

Yet, If one could look from some distant point in the universe, at all the suns birthing worlds, all the planets spinning through space, at nebulae and quasars, pulsars, comets, moons and asteroids, the prodigious wonders of galaxies coming to life and others passing away, there would be one spot in creation more beautiful, more blessed, more full of light than all the rest!  And it would be our own earth.

This is not because of those who inhabit this world.  In fact the inhabitants of our particular world are often so caught in quagmires of darkness that they cannot be said to be responsible in anyway for this beauty.  Yet exceptional beauty there is because of God’s personal presence among us.

God’s interventions in human history are respectful, astounding and full of a wisdom we do not readily comprehend.  Most of the things we attribute to God, war chief among them, are really just the consequences of our own sins catching up with us. But from the beginning of time, God’s response to our sin, after pointing out the consequences which logically flowed from them, was to promise a Redeemer.  The first sin led all of us into captivity.  But God was immediately prepared to pay the ransom.

Historically the amount of ransom demanded is determined by the value placed on the person held.  The largest ransom ever paid was by the Incas in  1532, to Francisco Pizarro for the release of their leader.  The amount of gold given him  would be worth about $2 billion in today’s markets.  Pizarro took the ransom but did not honor the agreement.  He executed the Incan leader anyway.

The ransom paid by God for us is infinitely beyond any sum, no matter how great.  That in itself tells us something of the value God places on each one of us.  St. Peter says:

“You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”  (1Peter 1:18-19). Jesus gives His very life, down to His last drop of blood, in order to redeem us.

July is a month which the Church dedicates to honoring the Precious Blood of Jesus in a special way.  Why the Precious Blood?  Because the Precious Blood of Jesus is the price of our salvation.  It is God’s answer to our sin.  It is the ransom He freely and willingly gives as an expression of His unfathomable love for us.

And this ransom, which is of infinite worth, has been paid once and for all.  It may be claimed for anything and anyone, for salvation, conversions, protection, liberation from bondages, reconciliation, purification, healing, restoration of relationships with the Trinity, the saints, each other, for the souls in Purgatory, for advancement of the work of the Kingdom.

How do we access this ransom that is ours?  Most easily through the sacraments, through the Mass, through prayer.  St. Paul says that where sin abounds grace superabounds.  (Romans 5:20). He can say this because of the ransom which Christ has paid!  We are entitled to all the good things of God because of this ransom.  And we are left all of the channels in the Church by which we may acquire them.

Who doesn’t want to be saved?  Saved from despair, saved from meaninglessness, saved from a life without love, saved from our own narrow, selfish desires and compulsions, and from all the captivities the world so easily lures us into?  Is there anyone who does not want to be saved from illusion?  Saved from sin?  Is there anyone who does not want to be saved from death?  Really?

St. Pope John XXIII stated, “The world can still set itself right and always will be able to, because the voice and Blood of Christ cry out for pity and mercy… Devotion to the Precious Blood is the devotion of our time…It is devotion for all souls, for the whole world.”

If you really want to know what God thinks of humanity, what He thinks of you, ponder well the astounding price Christ has paid for you and for all of mankind, and let your heart respond unceasingly with awe and overflowing gratitude!

June 2, 2014

The Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Urgency of Divine Love

In 1673, Jesus began appearing  to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a humble nun of the Visitation Order, in Paray Le Monial, France.  He revealed to her the tender wonders of His love for her, desiring through her to share these same wonders with the whole world.

In the course of His revelations to St. Margaret Mary, Jesus complained of our ingratitude.  But His complaint was weighted with the sorrow of a lover who knows not what else He can do to gain the attention of his beloved, a beloved who is totally distracted and uncomprehending.  In the great apparition which occurred sometime during the octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi, 1675, He said, in what must have been an imploring spirit, “Behold the Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming itself, in order to testify its love.”

We should ask ourselves: What is it we behold, what is it we see, when we look at the Heart of Christ? What is Jesus trying so hard to show us?

It is interesting that Jesus says: “Behold the heart,” and not:  “Behold My heart.”  Jesus, in His Incarnation, comes to reveal the Father to us. Scripture says Jesus “is the image of the invisible God.” (Col 1:15) He tells the Apostles:  “If you see Me, you see the Father.”  (Jn 14:9)

So is He not really saying: “Behold the Heart…which is the Heart of the Father.  If you only knew the depths of His love!” ?

One of the most compelling revelations of the Heart of God in Scripture is found in the father of the prodigal son. The younger son, returning home after losing everything, though genuinely repentant, is in survival mode. He approaches the father completely broken by his own sinful choices. He has utterly spurned his father’s love and squandered every gift that has been given to him.

Yet the love in the heart of the father who has been anxiously watching and praying for his son’s return sees only that his son is back.  And though the son has no real expectations, other than to be treated as a slave, the father’s response instead is an explosion of love! He orders the best robe, a ring for his finger, sandals for his feet, and the commencement of a feast!  His heart has no other response.  Not anger, not judgment, not punishment.  Only rejoicing, tearful embraces, and celebration!  Perhaps we are sometimes held back from approaching or returning to our Father, because we have the same poor expectations as the prodigal son did.  Our defective appreciation of God’s love only harms us!

The sufferings of our lives, especially those that come from our sinful choices, wound our hearts and often plunge us into our own little hells on earth.  But the Wound in the Heart of Christ, which we caused, is different.  It is a gateway into the Father’s love.  Entering that Wound takes us on our first steps into Heaven.

Witness the promises of Jesus to those who recognize His love, the Father’s love, and seek to live in the Heart that is the source of that love.  These promises were given to St. Margaret Mary as part of the revelations of Divine Love and are made to those who are devoted to Jesus’ Sacred Heart:

1.  I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.

2.  I will establish peace in their families.

3.  I will console them in all their troubles.

4.  They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death.

5.  I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.

6.  Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy.

7.  Tepid souls shall become fervent.

8.  Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.

9.  I will bless the homes where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.

10. I will give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts.

11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced.

12. The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.

Does that not already sound like Heaven begun on earth?  Isn’t that what we’re seeking?

But there’s even more.  Poor as we really are, and we are all poor in the presence of God, just as stripped as the prodigal son, we have the possibility of being able to bring joy and consolation to the Heart of Jesus, to the Heart of the Father, by returning to Him, by remembering Him in the ways He asks above.  This helps repair, in some mysterious and superabundant way, the hurt Jesus feels, the hurt the Father feels, over the indifference and ingratitude of the vast majority of men.  When we behold the Heart that has loved us so, these are small requests.  But fulfilling them can transform our lives.  And at the end of our lives, these practices will safely lead us through the Wound of Divine Love into the glory of Eternity.

Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, SOLT
May 3, 2014

Year of Consecrated Life 2015

Pope Francis announced that the year 2015 will be dedicated to consecrated life, as he met with the Union of Superiors General.
Instead of a planned speech and short meeting, Pope Francis chose to have a three-hour question and answer session with the 120 leaders of the Catholic men’s religious congregations.
During the session, the superiors general and the Pope spoke about how religious congregations enrich diocesan life. He encouraged members to go out to “frontiers,” working first and foremost with people excluded from society.
But he stressed the importance of dialogue with local communities to better adapt the Church’s teachings into their ways of life.
When it came to formation of religious members, the Pope said to avoid hypocrisy and clericalism, to develop “a tender heart.”
During the three-hour session, the Pope took a break with hot sip of mate.
-You share it.
-With another.
-Of course.
-I’d like one.
Upon his return, he continues answering their questions, and near the end he announced 2015 would be dedicated to them. He also thanked them for their faith and service.
Please pray for me. I need it.”

Christmas Reflections

At the time of Jesus’ birth, the whole world is in movement.  Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem to be counted in the census, reminding us that the world today is also traveling toward its definitive encounter with God.  The journey of the Holy Family toward the moment in which God enters the world from the womb of Mary, in the Person of Jesus Christ, for all human eyes to see, reminds us that we too are moving on our own journey through this life, in company with millions of others, to our own definitive encounter with God.

Mary and Joseph found no comfort, no welcome, no shelter, no understanding from the world on this journey.  They followed and were supported by heavenly inspirations and light, the presence of angels, and their own profound faith in God’s never-changing goodness and His ever-present Providence.   This was their strength and consolation.

We also should not expect too much help from the world on this journey.  The world has no space for God.  No time.  No real interest.  It offers only distraction and a kind of movement which keeps the human heart in confusion, apprehension and vague unhappiness.  The world is full of activity which often has no ultimate meaning.  This activity spends the precious moments allotted to us to find our way home to Our Heavenly Father.

God enters our world in the fullness of time because He can no longer wait to be with us in Person.  But Christmas also comes because mankind, in the persons of Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and the wise men, seek God as well; because the intense, hidden longing of their souls has not been misinterpreted to them by the false prophets of the world.  Their interior has not been cluttered with distraction.  It is unfettered by illusion.  God is their inner life and moves them in a mutual, eager longing, in silence, in poverty, in simplicity, in penetrating light and redeeming love.

Mary and Joseph “walk the way of perfection” to Bethlehem because they know God and are the friends of God.  They call us to follow this way with them, a way which holds difficulty, discomfort, the contempt of the world, but which brings us to be the friends of God, as the psalmist says:  “He who walks the way of perfection shall be my friend.”  -Ps 101   Jesus silently stirs our hearts and beckons us to the embrace of true friendship with Himself, promising to make known to us all that He has heard from the Father. –Jn 15:15  This happens in God’s way, in His time and by His choosing.  And it brings us the most precious gift of all, God Himself as a tiny baby depending on us to love Him, to care for Him and nurture His life in ourselves and in others.

In Bethlehem, two longings meet:  the longing of God and the longing of man.  Two longings answer each other and fulfill each other.  May our poor and lowly souls this Christmas be still as the stable in Bethlehem at midnight, ever ready to receive our Lord in humble awe, in mutual longing.  May we be the ones to be wrapped tightly with the gifts of Christmas peace, light, love and joy.  And may that Divine love which becomes incarnate in Bethlehem, radiate outward to all mankind through our oneness with the Holy Family in this sublime mystery.  May this Christmas find us and those we love and hold dear, numbered in the heavenly census, as citizens traveling joyfully forward to our celestial Fatherland.

United with all of you in the joy and light of the greatest gift of the Most Holy Trinity this Christmas:  our Savior and Beloved.

Sr. Anne Marie, SOLT

Christmas Reflections

At this time when Mary and Joseph are following an inner vision, the three Kings are following an extraordinary star, and angels are appearing to shepherds near Bethlehem, we take time to see with the eyes of our souls the great Gift that comes to us in the Person of Jesus, our Savior.

We may think this is old news:  that Jesus comes to save us.  But it seems that in the world today, the same world that lay in darkness at the Advent of Christ’s birth, we have even less appreciation of our need to be saved.  And this primarily because we do not see things as they really are.

Man has tried over the ages to save himself.  And though often well-intentioned, he continues today in this fruitless endeavor.  It is easy for us to see this in great realities, examples from history that show us the simple truth:  that “if the Lord does not build the house, in vain do the builders labor.”

There are striking examples in recent history.  Prohibition came about because of the recognition of the great evils that come from the abuse of alcohol.  It was a human campaign against the destructive forces of alcohol.  It was motivated by a noble concern for the dignity of person.  And yet, it also spawned great evils, not the least of which was the entrance of organized crime into the procurement of liquor, probably resulting in more graft, corruption and death, than ever before.

“Women’s Liberation” is another obvious example.  It was a necessary challenge to the injustice present, and still present in the world in relationship to women.  And yet, at the same time, without Christ at it’s center, it too has spawned the great evils of abortion, promiscuity, rising rates of unmarried pregnancies, venereal disease and sexual abuse, to name only a few.   Ironically, perhaps the greatest evil to come from godless feminism, is the depersonalization of woman into an object, a commodity.

Today we also see man trying to break the ordered boundaries of creation and the barriers of physical health. And we see him as well trying to conquer death.  We are well aware of the ways in which this kind of activity opens doors to unprecedented kinds of evil, threatening the very existence of mankind.  Yet these victories over the flesh and death, are victories Christ has already won for us.  And they can only be had in Him.

The last century witnessed the rise and fall of more social, political and cultural ideologies than almost any other era in time.  Though some of these visions of man contain noble goals, the 20th century, overall, was marked by what one author called “mega death.”  Millions upon millions killed in war, genocides, persecutions, ethnic cleansing, etc.

We know there is no philosophy or ideology that can make sense of the world, nor explain man’s innate desire to know goodness and exist forever, unless it sees everything as coming from God and going back to Him.   Even when our natures, oriented as they are to goodness, try to move to fulfillment, there is no hope outside of Christ.  Our world has too often been a tragic witness to this.

At a personal level we often also live our lives in this way.  We do not see things as they really are.  We do not see ourselves or others as they really are, because we do not live in Christ the way we should. And therefore we do not even really seek the saving power of Christ in our lives. Instead we try to save ourselves and others, in so many ways.

We use our words to try and save ourselves, instead of going to the Word to be saved by it.

We try to save ourselves and others by our work, our apostolates.  But we often forget that the work belongs to God, and will only be made fruitful in Him.

We use relationships to try and save ourselves from one difficulty or another, instead of striving to live in communion with the Triune God who gives us every real relationship.

We form human alliances that pit us against others, in order to save ourselves (and who can count the number of evils this  breeds), instead of living the Covenant God has given to us.

We seek to save ourselves by standing in judgment over others rather than loving them and escaping our own judgment by living God’s charity which He promises covers a multitude of sins.

We try to save ourselves from our addictions and only end up replacing one with another.  We do the same with our weaknesses.  We spiritualize them in an attempt to still our consciences rather than  seeking and depending upon God’s merciful grace.    Our real self, which we hide from ourselves, nevertheless dogs us into our life of prayer and charity toward our neighbor, especially those we live with.  So we try to heal our brokenness with all sorts of self-help programs instead of letting God help us.

Our blindness runs very deep.  We are not even aware of the many ways we stay outside of the whole salvation Jesus comes to bring us.  He not only wants to free us from sin, but from worry, from resentment, from wounds and hurts that keep us bound to the past, from loneliness, from narrowness, from boredom, from indifference, from blindness, from selfishness, from our suspicions, our doubts, our negativity and fears, from self-sufficiency, from everything that leads us to spiritual starvation.  He comes to give us life, and the more abundant life!

Jesus knows how hard it is for us to truly acknowledge our need to be saved.  He knows how our pride blinds us.  He knows how difficult it is for us to approach Him unguardedly.  So He comes to us as a tiny baby, and as babies are able to do, draws us to Himself and commands our attention and affection by His beauty and littleness.  There is no other human being we take as easily to ourselves as a little baby.  There is no other that disarms us and wins our heart and our affections so quickly.   There is no other creature that draws the good from within us, all that is human, the way a baby does, and most importantly, the way the Baby Jesus does.

May each of us this Christmas be given, and receive in all humility, the eyes of the Shepherds, the determination of the Wise Men to follow the vision of the Star, and the heart and soul of Mary and Joseph who so eagerly saw and so completely received the magnificent love come to us Incarnate in Christ Jesus our little Lord and mighty Savior.

Come Lord Jesus.   Come to save us!  Do not delay!

Sr. Anne Marie, SOLT

First Profession of Vows

On July 15, 2013 during SOLT’s Extraordinary Chapter four women professed first vows.  These new spouses of Christ have given themselves to Him through the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, according to the Constitutions of the Sisters of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT). SOLT is a Society of Apostolic Life of Diocesan Rite.

The newly professed are Sister Maria Laudem Gloriae, Sister Mary Anna of the Luminous Cross, Sister Marie Therese of the Holy Name of Jesus and Sister Mary of Bethany. They are pictured below with SOLT Founder, Father James Flanagan.

First Vows Group

Gray Robes Spring Semester 2013

Read the latest Gray Robes, highlighting our SOLT Seminarians at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. Please pray for the six men preparing for ordination to the transitional diaconate this JULY 16, 2013.

SOLT Gray Robes 2013 Spring Semester

God bless you and Our Lady keep you!

Grey Robes 2012 Fall Semester

It’s here!

The latest copy of Grey Robes, the newsletter for our brother seminarians up in Detroit. Find out all the latest, including stories about our seminarians, information about their education and formation, and a brief teaching on Marian Consecration.  Read it all and more, by clicking on the link below! Happy reading, and God bless you!

Grey Robes – 2012 Fall Semester

New Site Launched

We just launched our new website! Thanks to the folks at Hyperdo Media, and our in-house staff, we have a brand-new look! Please take some time to explore, and be sure to check back often for all the latest and greatest news and events of the Sisters of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity!