Monthly Archives: November 2020

Retreat with St. Paul of the Cross- Day 8

On November 30th,1720 Paul Daneo writes: “St. Andrew Apostle. During prayer I was dry and distracted; at holy Communion I was recollected and afterwards I shed many tears. I remember that I kept praying to my Jesus to grant me the greatest degree of humility. I wanted to be the least of mankind, the very scum of the earth, and I kept praying to the Blessed Virgin with many tears to obtain this grace for me. I remember that I asked my Jesus to teach me what degree of humility is most pleasing to Him, and I heard this answer in my heart: When you cast yourself in spirit under the feet of all creatures, even beneath the feet of devils, that is what pleases me most. I had already understood that when one goes lower than hell, beneath the feet of devils, then God raises one to paradise. Because, just as the devil desires the highest place in paradise and for his pride was cast into the very depths of hell so, on the contrary, the soul which humbles itself below hell makes the devil tremble and overcomes him and the Sovereign Good exults it to paradise. I know that all this is from God: to Him be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.   

 Berta’s entry:  Dear Jesus, on that particular day Paul Daneo was praying to You, my Lord Jesus, to grant him the greatest degree of humility. He asked You to teach him what degree of humility was most pleasing to You, and this is what he heard as an answer from You: “When you cast yourself in spirit under the feet of all creatures, even beneath the feet of devils, that is what pleases me the most.”      Wow, Lord Jesus, I would say that that would be a form of dying to self. To be humbled to that magnitude would be just like what You faced during Your Passion– no concern for self, no attention to pain and mistreatment, no concern about what others see or say to You, only love, Your eyes on the Supreme Good, Your Father, to whom You chose to be obedient, Who loves You and has asked this of You. And of course there is Your compassion, which leads You to think of the good of others rather than for Yourself.     I have to admit that right now I’m not quite ready for that, but I’ll try, my God, to get as close as I can to the example of humility You taught us with Your Passion. Help me! I do love You and want to prove it!    

 Orlando’s entry: Disturbing day, pulling me away from prayer. The new cable installations came (with the danger of catching COVID) and took a big chunk of the day. There were so many complications. The day was dark and dreary, but Berta my love and I forced ourselves into our readings and sharing-prayer for the 40-day retreat… today’s theme.. humility. Paolo wants to feel like he is the least of creation, even below devils. Upon looking at myself I realize that the once glorious angels turned into devils were certainly above little-old me, who is potentially as wicked as them! But HE the Beloved put Himself even lower than that in His Passion, so, like a Divine Atlas, He could lift up the whole mess into the arms of the all-loving God! Thank You, thank You, thank You Beloved Savior… Prince of Peace!  

Retreat with St. Paul of the Cross- Day 7

     On November 29,1720 Pau Daneo wrote: “….. I engaged in prayer and went to holy Communion with dryness, and during prayer I was distracted. I want to explain what happens to me in distractions….. the soul remains more or less in peace with God, despite the fact that it is disturbed by the thoughts which trouble me. ….. However, through the knowledge that God gives me, and I am aware of it, I know that the soul always remains fixed in God in His peace but it rests there more unmoved and withdrawn. …..    “In my opinion, it is like an infant with its mouth at its mother’s breast as it takes its milk. Although it struggles with its hands and feet, fidgets, turns its head and so forth, it continues all the time to draw nourishment because it never takes its mouth away from its mother’s breast. Certainly it would do much better for itself if it stayed quiet instead of acting as I have just described; nevertheless that milk goes down its throat because it never takes its mouth away from its mother’s breast. So it is with the soul. The will is the mouth which never fails to imbibe the milk of holy Love although the faculties, memory and understanding, wander away from it. Certainly it [the soul] gains more assistance if they [the faculties] remain quiet and united with it.”  

   Orlando’s entry: The gift of constant prayer. I tried the same prayer of elevation as yesterday without anywhere near the same luminous result. But, thanks to St Paolo,  I reveled I’m my distractions, I even laughed. I imagined My Heavenly Papa holding me in His arms feeding me with His grace and love no matter how clumsy my attempts were at prayer. I had a happy day, in spite of all its complications, knowing that my God was with me, feeding me with that holy joy.      

Berta’s entry: Dear Jesus, it’s great to realize that I’m not the only one that gets distracted in prayer. St. Paul of the Cross wrote, at 26 years of age in his diary, that he would become distracted in prayer, but even through these distractions he knew his soul was at peace with God. That is something I have learned to understand about myself. No matter how distracted I am  or how busy I am with chores or worries I seem to know that God is not far away from me. Sometimes in the middle of something I will stop and ask for God’s blessing and advice. Other times I ask for Him to take over and lead me where He thinks I should go. I believe that all this is the work of my soul connecting to the Divine. A touch of the Divine (my soul) is connecting or reaching out to my Creator, my Father, my Teacher, my Love. It’s a Love affair! It is hard work! It’s sacrifice! It’s salvation! It’s eternity!      Lord Jesus, without You I can no longer feel alive! Thank You for feeding me like a baby. Your grace is what keeps me going. Your mercy, compassion, and love strengthen  and change my soul’s understanding. May I continue to grow in You and through You, my Lord God! My Triune God, I love You !!!

Retreat with St. Paul of the Cross- Day 6

     On November 28,1720 Paolo Daneo writes: “At prayer I was dry and a little distracted. At holy Communion I was recollected. Afterwards, that is during thanksgiving and prayer, I was very tenderly affected even to tears, especially in praying to the Sovereign Good for the happy issue of the holy inspiration which, by His infinite goodness He has given me and continues to give me.      “ ‘I remember that I kept praying to the Blessed Virgin, and to all the angels and saints, especially the holy founders. Suddenly I seemed in spirit to see them prostrate before the most holy Majesty of God praying for this. That happened to me in a second, like a flash of lightning, in sweetness mingled with tears. The way in which I saw them was not in bodily form; it was therefore in the mind, with understanding in the soul which I do not know how to explain, and almost at once it vanished.’ “

     Orlando’s entry: Had to begin our prayers late. A dear friend simply HAD to visit us and bring us our Christmas gift: a lovely, battery-operated lantern with a nativity scene inside. Unfortunately it was wrongly packaged; it turned out to be a group of Christmas carolers in the snow. Perfect, people praying together! My friend, her lovely twenty-something daughter, Berta and I sat in front of our house social-distancing and so happy to be with each other. YOU, LOVE, were in our midsts.     Later in the day it was rather difficult to get back to our retreat discipline. But, at prayer, what a surprise! I experienced, thanks to Your Loving Kindness, the ineffable (beyond understanding or description) sense, joy, wonder, mystery of Your Presence, Your Spirit possessing me: lights, shapes, elevating sensations, powerful emotions, mystery, comfort, care, peace, — Your Love, Your Love, Your Love!

     Berta”s entry: Dear Jesus , as we read St. Paul of the Cross’ entry in his diary this day, he talked about seeing for just a second all the angels and saints joining him in prayer. They were all in front of the most holy Majesty of God praying for Paul’s intentions.      Sometimes, Jesus, I have “seen” a similar vision while at prayer with The Cloud of Glory Prayer Group in the Passionist Monastery Chapel. It almost looks like a stadium full of people, all joining us in praise and worship to You, my Lord Jesus and Your Holy Spirit and Our Father— all in One, sitting in Majestic Splendor!     Even the other day I felt it in my parish, American Martyrs, as they sang the Litany of the Saints. As their names were called they would all join us! What joy it brought, my God! I love You!It’s because of You and through You that I experience eternity for a few seconds, like St. Paul of the Cross did. Thank You! 

Retreat with St. Paul of the Cross Day 5

     On November 27,1720 Paul Daneo writes: “ I prayed by night. At first I was very recollected and that lasted for some little while. Then I felt some disturbance of thought and some temptations which lasted for a short time. Holy Communion was received with great sweeties and elevation in God, mingled with tears. Then I remembered hearing that people had said I would never endure this utter deprivation. At that very moment, so great was my joy and my desire to suffer that the cold, the snow and ice seemed sweet to me and I longed for them with great fervor, saying to my beloved Jesus: ‘Your pains, dear God, are pledges of Your love!’  Then I remained thus rejoicing in my Beloved Jesus in the greatest joy and peace without any movement of the faculties but thus in silence.     

“There was no lack of fervor in praying for the above-mentioned needs. I know that I had a particular urge to go to Rome for this great and wonderful work of God. I also asked my Sovereign Good if it were His Will that I should write the Rule for the Poor of Jesus, and I felt a strong urge to do so, with great sweetness. I rejoiced that our great God should wish to make use of so great a sinner, and on the other hand, I knew not where to cast myself, knowing myself to be so wretched. Enough! I know that I tell my Beloved Jesus that all creatures shall sing His mercies.”   

Orlando’s entry:     In a lesser way, my day with God goes through changes like those of Paolo on his 5th day of retreat. He goes from desolation to fervent prayer, to sweet consolation, to frustration and distraction, to acceptance of the sufferings and doubts that will plague his 40-day retreat. Finally, he surrenders to the Will of God, as he looks at his sufferings mingled with the sufferings of Jesus and sees a direct message of God’s love in each one of them. Paul wants to share in those pains, embraces them lovingly, and the Lord places him in the joy, peace, and silence of the Contemplative State, about which there was nothing to say. He emerges from this fountain of grace full of inspiration, motivation, and energy for the accomplishment of his mission— the establishment of the order of the Poor of Christ— the Passionists!    Lord, take me deeper into Your Light. Move me into Your service!!!   

 Berta’s entry:      Dear Lord Jesus, am I ready? When You come calling, will I recognize You and You me? Will we know each other? Am I totally open to knowing You? What does it take? Am I doing enough? All I seem to have are questions.     If You want me to tell what I really think : I believe You are the Great I AM. I believe that You love me and are ready to forgive all, especially my misunderstandings. But I have to admit that I doubt myself. Will I recognize You? I need to be more open to You. I need to listen more. Show me the way to You; I can’t do it alone. Jesus, I need You and Your Holy Spirit to be my guide. FEED ME!

Retreat with St. Paul of the Cross – Day 4

              On the 26 of November,1720 Paul Daneo writes:     “Although unworthy I prayed doing the night and was dry except at the beginning when I experienced a certain interior sweetness, very subtle and refined. Afterwards I received holy Communion and was particularly uplifted in God with a very high degree of tenderness and a certain warmth of heart, which I felt likewise in my stomach and which I held to be supernatural, a thing which brought me much consolation.     “I know that I also held colloquies on the sorrowful Passion of my Beloved Jesus. When I speak to Him of His sufferings, for example, I say: ‘Ah, my Supreme Good! What were the sentiments of your Sacred Heart when You were scourged? My Beloved Spouse how greatly did the sight of my grievous sins and my ingratitude afflict You! Ah, my only Love why did I not die for You? Why am I not overwhelmed with sorrow?’ And then I feel that sometime my spirit can say no more but remains thus in God with His sufferings infused into the soul—and sometimes it seems as if my heart would break.     “For the rest of the day, especially in the evening, I was greatly troubled and depressed in the way described above and although this depression does not take away peace of heart, there is a great dread that neither spiritual consolations nor anything else will ever come again— and it seems as if they were never present before either. I know that I told my Jesus that His crosses are the joys of my heart.”

Orlando’s entry:     I tried to approach my Lord in the manner of one of those “colloquies” of Paolo, a powerful type of mental prayer-meditation on the Passion of my Lord. I saw His face, battered, bruised, and disfigured, looking straight into me along with Caiphas, and saying “ I AM, and you will see the Son of Man descending on clouds of glory with the hosts of angels.”      Lord, you intimidate me and fill me with guilt. I am planning to go to confession today; please let me get there. Your battered face looks at me again the way You looked into Peter’s eyes after his third denial. You give me “the look of Love” and it breaks my heart. Jesus, my Lord, why do You love me like this? Why are You constantly forgiving and healing me, patiently waiting for my soul to seek your face once again in everyone I pass by? 

Berta’s entry:     Dear Jesus, thank You for what You did and are still doing for us through Your Passion. Sometimes I forget that time, “our time”, means nothing to You. You are living Your Passion constantly while life goes on for us. But as You receive all that suffering we have, I imagine You also receive all our joy, all our fear, all our excitement, and all our dread; You receive everything. I believe You are totally connected to each one of us physically and spiritually through our souls. I believe that we are tied to You, and that is why we can feel love, compassion, empathy! It we don’t feel those it is because we ourselves have built a wall to keep You out. Your Holy Spirit is also connected to us and so is Our Father, because You are all One. Oh, Jesus, to really understand.


We Give Thanks

David Leonhardt in The Times this morning had an inspired column on Thanksgiving. Can I pass some of it on to you here? He asked people to write in 6 words what they are thankful for. Here are some of them.

Sunny mornings, a window facing east.

The backyard haircuts are getting better

Ambulance took him. He came home.

Held my son as he died.

So grateful to live in Canada

Out of prison with a great job

Faith, family, friends, dedicated health professionals.

My parents live two blocks away

Dr. Fauci and all truth tellers

Volunteers who take experimental drugs

Windows have never been so important

Reached age 92, grandson reached 3

 I watched her learn to read

Thankful for learning, in my pajamas

Rediscovering myself by reading the Bible

Tried, failed, failed worse, kept going

God, family, freedom, Trump, USA

Trump is our best president ever

Biden won the election––thank God

Americans waited in line to vote

Democracy triumphed now pass the stuffing

Zoom Thanksgiving beats an ICU Christmas

The many people who deliver food

There’s really more kindness than hate

I proposed and she said yes.

He also quoted Pope Francis who recalled recently the nurses who saved his life after he was hospitalized at age 21. He said that to come out of the pandemic strong we need to let ourselves be touched by others’ pain.

I’ll add my own 6 word thanks, from the Bible.

“Living I thank you this day”

Retreat with St. Paul of the Cross- Day 3

Paul Daneo writes :     “ Monday 25 November, 1720. During prayer I was without feeling and also distracted. At Holy Communion I was at first recollected and then that stopped. I felt most fervent during the night and even shed some tears when praying to the Lord for holy Church and for sinners, that He would avert the imminent punishment that I deserve for my sins, and other prayers which I do not write down here. For the rest of the day I was full of misery and depression and likewise sorely tempted with compassion for my family. It irritated me even to see people or to hear them passing by, to hear the sound of the church bell; in fact it seemed to me that my heart was buried without any feeling of prayer. 

  However it never occurs to me to seek relief, and in my own mind I am quite happy to put up with such thoughts; but this happiness brings no relief because at such a time there is a certain disquiet of a peculiar kind. There is a kind of satisfaction that the most holy Will of our dear God is being fulfilled, but this remains, as it were, buried beneath the ashes in the most secret recess of the soul. I know it is hard to explain what I mean because one who has not experienced this will find it difficult to understand.”

Orlando’s entry:     “I shed some tears”….. fervent prayer…..I did not get to feel like that. But the quiet, the peace, the confidence in your Will and Presence is with me today, oh Lord. At 8:30 Mass at the Passionist Church, thank You Lord, I felt You in warm, reassuring ways. It was a shame that I felt uneasy in the company of my fellow Catholics. This pandemic forces us to be distant from each other, in more than one way. The outdoors Stations of the Cross (did it for Berta) were noisy with the sound of lawnmowers and leaf-blowers all around, but it was solemn and peaceful. In some way or another I could relate to the emotions of the characters beautifully depicted in sculpture at each Station: Mary, Veronica, the Weeping Women, John, even the executioners, and especially, my most sorrowful, patient Jesus.     Our prayer time at home, with the reading of the diary of the young St. Paul of the Cross was quiet and simple. Paolo writes about his depressions and feelings of “disquiet”, even annoyance, and yet with a deep inner assurance: “There is a kind of satisfaction that the most holy Will of our dear God is being fulfilled.” Yes, thank You God! Jesus I trust in You, even if right now I feel that this is not going to be a great day!

Berta’s entry:     Dear Jesus, thank You for putting people in my path today. It’s hard for me to deal with them, but I was pleasantly surprised. I started out this morning with a specific plan, but You came and changed it. After Mass I was seeking solitude and silence with my husband Orlando at the Stations of the Cross. But we were intercepted by people who wanted to talk. Speaking to them and listening to them seemed to help them and it also opened interesting paths for me. Thank You! Sometimes solitude is not the way to You, my Lord Jesus.     What I did not accomplish, which was part of my plan, was the Stations of the Cross by the Passionist Church. It was already too late for my brain. I couldn’t concentrate. But I knew You were with us! Thanks again! I do love You!  

Retreat with St. Paul of the Cross- Day 2


Paul Daneo writes on 11/24/1720 : “Unworthy though I am, I engaged in prayer. I had no special uplifting, but I remained at it in habitual interior peace, that is to say, with pure loving attentiveness to God in general, infused in the soul. After that, although unworthy, I received holy Communion and remained recollected for some time, and then that ended too.”

  Orlando’s reaction: 
“ Unworthy though I am”, I engaged in prayer with my loving wife (Wow, am I finding her so beautiful!), such a loving daughter of God. We share our faith and spiritual struggles, also our metaphors, trying to explain the mystery of God as we share our ideas and feelings regarding the diary entries by Paolo Daneo. It is wonderful. Thank You Prince of Peace, for helping us live our peace together. I feel like we’re family! The “Three” of us. Help us to see humanity, all of it, as part of that family. 
I did not get to do much more prayer that day. I had to send emails to different people regarding my duties in the Knights of Columbus and my Zoom prayer group. It took me forever. I don’t like doing stuff like this. Anything that deals with technology is hard for me, but I know it is for your glory, Lord.

  Berta’s reaction: 
I haven’t had the greatest prayer life lately. I either don’t get into it, do it fast, or complain about doing it and not getting much out of it. There’s no inner “consolation”. There’s no satisfaction. I’m dry and alone, even though I know You are with me and at my side. I don’t give You time and yet I expect You to protect me, love me, save me, be with me, heal me, comfort me, and never leave my side! How selfish is that? 
  I’m hoping that during these next few weeks I will develop some type of relationship with You, my Jesus, that is not so one-sided. Love is sacrifice! I see it when I look up on Your Cross! I see it when I do the Stations of the Cross. I see it when I think of Mary, a child of 16 or less who said “Yes”! I do love You, my God! May my time with You be a loving one from my side too. May one day joy come from this “love sacrifice” that we’re embarking on!