A Mere Passing: on living life for death

Photos“…Don’t be afraid, Ruby.”

“I can’t help it,” said Ruby pitifully. “Even if what you say about heaven is true – and you can’t be sure – it may be only that imagination of yours – it won’t be just the same. It can’t be. I want to go on living here. I’m so young, Anne. I haven’t had my life. I’ve fought so hard to live – and it isn’t any use – I have to go – and leave everything I care for.”

“Anne sat in a pain that was almost intolerable. She could not tell comforting falsehoods; and all that Ruby said was so horribly true. She was leaving everything she cared for. She had laid up her treasures on earth only; she had lived solely for the little things of life – the things that pass – forgetting the great things that go onward into eternity, bridging the gulf between the two lives and making of death a mere passing from one dwelling to the other – from twilight to unclouded day. God would take care of her there – Anne believes – she would learn – but now it was no wonder her soul clung, in blind helplessness, to the only things she knew and loved.”

– on the death of Ruby, Chapter 14, Anne of the Island, by L.M. Montgomery

We all certainly have our own vision and idea of heaven, no doubt to be put to shame upon arriving there. But those imaginings are something we really all should have, in helping us to make heaven more real and kept at the forefront of our mind and heart through this life. If we don’t live for the higher things, what is there when we die? Ruby “laid up her treasures on earth only”, she never gave a thought to what lies ahead after death, or put effort into cultivating prayer and virtue in the hope of moving closer to heaven while still on earth. Naturally she was terrified to leave the only thing she knew. By striving to put our hearts, minds, intentions and acts a little bit closer to Our Lord everyday, we bring ourselves a little bit closer to heaven, so when the time does come to die, it doesn’t seem like such a far off, unfamiliar place. If we pray, ponder, and live for what comes after death, surely death will come as a welcomed friend – like waking from a dream to finally enter the reality we were made for: heaven.



‘Heartfelt sincerity and candor’ in Speech

“I would truly like our words always to be suited as closely as possible to what we feel, so that in all things and through all things we may maintain heartfelt sincerity and candor.”

– St. Francis de Sales, on deeper interior humility

Why go through life trying to get a meaning across without wanting to come right out and say it? Why confuse others because of not being straightforward, open and honest? Why play guessing games and cause miscommunications, rifts between friendships and confusion? It is all a lot of added mental exhaustion and emotional frustrations – not to mention this more often then not this leads us into false humility, as I was reading in Francis de Sales the other day.

Perhaps it’s my personality that finds it easier to be straightforward then to beat around the bush or simply ignore an issue, but I detest any sort of passive aggression. What I’ve often found, when passive aggression is called out on the carpet, said PA Person is forced to truly vocalize their feelings and sort out their emotional irritation. This often makes one realize it’s not as big a deal as one may have made it out to be in ones head. When we have to vocalize something, it somehow makes any petty or selfish behaviour seem just that – petty and selfish. We are able to more quickly move past it, forgive another person for the injury we felt done towards us.

St. Francis de Sales also speaks about false humility. When we don’t speak according to how we feel or think, when we say things to have others think what we wish them to think, instead of giving them the respect they deserve and allowing them to know just what it is that we feel about a particular situation or event, we are being falsely humble. (Excepting the times we know we can swallow something without bringing it to anyones attention, and it won’t later cause a problem). If one falls into being hurt or offended by the doings or sayings of another friend, instead of perhaps getting over a feeling of hurt (making excuses for your friends behaviour, and acknowledging that they probably did not intentionally offend you), one “attempts” to hide the hurt. But in fact, one says they are not offended, while clearly showing signs of hurt in behaviour. One says there is no need for an apology, while intentionally avoiding the friend “at fault” – very often all under the guise of “humility”. This is NOT humility, it is False Humility. By saying there is no need to apologize, you are drawing more attention to your hurt self. By avoiding the friend out of either hurt or anger, you are keeping healing, charity, and love, from taking hold of you.

St. Francis would not have been referring to “feelings” in the emotionally selfish way, he would have been speaking simply of every day living and inter-personal communications. To say what we feel or what we mean is necessary to our charity towards others, our happiness, and ultimately our salvation. Of course charity in speech is a given, and there are of course things we need not vocalize. But in everyday speech, his encouragement of being candid and sincere is of utmost importance to charity, the salvation of our souls, and others souls in that our speech and actions affect them.



Happy Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving is a type of prayer not to be overlooked!

Thanksgiving is a good time to reflect on exactly what you’ve been given in life by God. Often times we can become caught up in what we don’t have, in our desires for something not yet come, in how we are going to achieve our long term goals, or even in the small things we should put more into perspective on a daily basis. But to take the time to truly appreciate and be thankful for what we do have, here and now, is an important life ability

And an “ability” it really is. Not everyone has the ability to easily see the view outside their own routine perspective. If this is the case, it is something to be tried at and worked at. God gives us so much, yet there is always something more we want – whether physical or spiritual. It is human nature to look to the future – and indeed it should be, for as Catholics we strive towards the future of heaven. But on top of looking towards the future things we hope God grants us, we also need to see and be thankful for everything we currently have. The only reason we have it is because of God’s goodness to us. We rely solely on Him, our very breath is dependent on His Love for us. And so we should acknowledge and thank Him for everything we have right here and now. The future will bring whatever He wills – but the present is what He wills at this moment, and we must thank Him for it.

The Beauty of the Requiem Mass

“…The life of those who are faithful to Thee, O Lord, is but changed, not ended; and when their earthly dwelling-place decays, an everlasting mansion stands prepared for them in heaven…” – words from the Preface of the Requiem Mass.

The Requiem mass is one of my favourites masses. The reason having everything to do with it being one of the most beautiful masses of the Catholic Church. As Catholics, we are called to pray for the dead. It is both a corporal as well as spiritual work of mercy to do so. At the funeral of a practising Catholic, I am always more sad for the living, for the family members and friends left behind, who are now to carry on their lives without the love and being of the one they’ve lost. There is nothing to be sad about for the one we are burying if they died a holy death. They are facing what we will all one day face: judgement. And if they strived to live their life in accordance with God’s laws, they will, through God’s mercy, attain heaven. How beautiful a way to die after having seen a priest and received the Last Rights.

As my parish priest said yesterday in his sermon at the requiem mass of a beloved elder of the parish: there isn’t a more perfect way to be buried than with the same prayers used to bury so many saints of the Church. How could one want to be buried any different!? Personally, the thought of being buried in any way that is not the Tridentine Requiem Mass makes me feel nauseous. There are more prayers, more graces, more benefit to the departed soul through the Requiem Latin Mass than in a Norvus Ordo funeral mass. Research it.

The priest’s vestments are black, symbolizing deepest mourning. A frequent comment from non-Latin lovers is that the Latin Requiem mass is too “full of doom” or “depressing & sad”. This couldn’t be more untrue. Here are some translations of various parts and prayers of the Requiem mass:

The Responsory prayer upon entering the Church: invokes intercession of the angles & saints

R. Come to his assistance, Ye Saints of God, come forth to meet him, ye Angels of the Lord, Receiving his soul, Offering it in the sight of the Most High.

V. May Christ receive the Who has called thee, and may the Angels lead thee into Abraham’s bosom.

R. Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord,

V. And let perpetual light shine upon him.

The Introit: Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine: et lux perpetua luceat eis. Te decet hymnus, Deus, in Sio, et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem: exaudi orationem meam, ad te omnis caro veniet.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and et perpetual light shine upon them. A hymn, O God, becometh Thee in Sion; and a vow shall be paid to Thee in Jerusalem: hear my prayer; all flesh shall come to Thee.

The Collect: Deus, cui proprium est misereri semper et parcere…

O God, Whose property is ever to have mercy and to spare, we humbly entreat Thee on behalf of the soul of thy servant N., whom Thou hast bidden this day to pass out of this world: that Though wouldst not deliver him into the hands of the enemy nor forget him for ever, but command him to be take up by the holy Angels, and to be borne to our home in paradise, that as he had put his faith and hope in Thee he may not undergo the pains of hell but may possess everlasting joys. Through our Lord. Amen.

The Sequence: is a beautiful chant from Mozart’s Requiem – irae, dies illa

Not only does the simple chant help with prayer, but the prayer itself is powerful. Translation below:

Day of wrath, day of anger
will dissolve the world in ashes,
as foretold by David and the Sibyl.
Great trembling there will be
when the Judge descends from heaven
to examine all things closely.

The trumpet will send its wondrous sound
throughout earth’s sepulchres
and gather all before the throne.

Death and nature will be astounded,
when all creation rises again,
to answer the judgement.
A book will be brought forth,
in which all will be written,
by which the world will be judged.

When the judge takes his place,
what is hidden will be revealed,
nothing will remain unavenged.

What shall a wretch like me say?
Who shall intercede for me,
when the just ones need mercy?

Remember, kind Jesus,
my salvation caused your suffering;
do not forsake me on that day.

Faint and weary you have sought me,
redeemed me, suffering on the cross;
may such great effort not be in vain.

Righteous judge of vengeance,
grant me the gift of absolution
before the day of retribution.

I moan as one who is guilty:
owning my shame with a red face;
suppliant before you, Lord.

You, who absolved Mary,
and listened to the thief,
give me hope also.

My prayers are unworthy,
but, good Lord, have mercy,
and rescue me from eternal fire.

Provide me a place among the sheep,
and separate me from the goats,
guiding me to Your right hand.

When the accused are confounded,
and doomed to flames of woe,
call me among the blessed.
I kneel with submissive heart,
my contrition is like ashes,
help me in my final condition.

That day of tears and mourning,
when from the ashes shall arise,
all humanity to be judged.
Spare us by your mercy, Lord,
gentle Lord Jesus,
grant them eternal rest. Amen.

A prayer said at the blessing of the grave:

O God, by Whose mercy the sould of the faithful rest, vouchsafe to bless this grace, and appoint Thy holy Angel to keep it; and release the souls of all these whose bodies are buries here from every bond ofsin, that they may always rejoice in Thee with Thy Saints for ever. Through Christ our Lord.

In Paradisum: a traditional hymn sung at the end of the funeral mass. 

In paradisum, deducant te Angeli: in tuo adventus suscipiante Martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem. Chorus Angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere aeternam habeas requiem.

May the Angels lead thee into paradise: may the Martyrs receive thee into the holy city of Jerusalem. May the choir of Angels receive thee, and mayest thou have eternal rest with Lazarus, who once was poor.

And this is only part of the Requiem mass prayers.

“Get Thee to a Nunnery!!”


Oh the sighs that escape my being when I think of the blissful existence in a cloistered convent. Of course I’ve never experienced it, but there is something tantalizingly attractive to contemplate existence for the sole purpose of prayer and growing closer to Our Lord while we wait for the call to go home to Him.

As a younger teenager I used to fear the idea that God would call me to enter religious life. And I don’t think I am the only young women to have gone through that. It’s a scary thought – giving up all you know and love to devote your life in prayer for the Church, not to mention living with all women. ALL WOMEN. I used to think that was the scariest part. Generally getting along better with boys growing up than girls, I couldn’t imagine life where men weren’t an everyday interaction. I’ve never had time for unholy girlish dramatics, and the thought of spending all day everyday with only women was enough to make me turn the other way and run full speed!

But it might not be living with other women that is the hold back… it might be the idea of having to follow a mother mistress, always being “under someone’s thumb”… or following the same routine day in and day out, never doing anything “exciting”… or maybe it’s the boring meal menu because you love juicy buttery French cooking and can’t imagine eating beans everyday. Well my lassies, it’s time to move beyond such worries. I’ve come to realize over the past couple of years that living with all women in a convent certainly couldn’t be too bad. In fact, it would be incredibly lovely. Ultimately the whole group of women are striving for the same goal – to grow in holiness, humility, and charity – and, although they will have their disagreements and frustrations, would be far better off then the lot of us in “single land” where you have to deal with the general public at work or at school. In a convent, women are surrounded by women of the same faith, with the same desire to be close to Our Lord. In the world, women are surrounded by women not of the same faith, who are blindfolded to the True beauty of life. I, for one, am saddened by the lack of love shown to Our Lord and neighbour through the common everyday occurrence of blasphemy and unbecoming dress. Mention anything liturgical and receive rolling eyes, endure the jabs that you “need to get out of your shell”, turn the other cheek to the degrading comments made. It is difficult to live as a soldier of Christ in a world that is constantly at arms against us. We grow weary – for it’s simply exhausting at times.

For those of us blessed enough to be a part of a love-filled family, a thriving parish, a solid Young Adults Group, etc, it’s our tavern, where we can enjoy a hearty meal and a pint of beer after a long stretch of battling hard and strong. But imagine not having to face the foe directly on the battlefield. Instead you are in the castle towers sharpening swords, carving arrows, sewing bandages and packing supplies, sending out the tools needed by the soldiers to win their battles. Without you, the soldiers run short on weapons and supplies. They might turn and flee for fear, or be slaughtered on the battlefield. This is the job of nuns. They sharpen the weapons. They pray hard and fast for each and every one of us. They pray for our salvation. How beautiful a way to spend one’s life.

If the “convent concern” is apparent in your spiritual life, work to flush it out. To strive for God’s will in our lives means to be honestly open to any avenue He may desire us to take. And there is no reason to fear any certain path, since God will always take you down the most direct one to heaven for you personally.

* Recommendations of flushing out the Convent Concern:

1. Read “The Story of a Soul” (St.Therese’s autobiography).

2. Speak to someone who has spent time in a convent. Ask questions, listen to their stories.

3. Go on retreat to a convent.

Minute Meditations

This is a post to rave about minute meditation books, and insist that everyone have one. Minute meditation books are awesome – filled with short meditations for everyday of the year. I’m not neurotically committed to it, but I like it best for those exhausted nights when the only thing I want to do once I’m ready for bed is to crash and “zzzzzz!!!” On such nights, I find the best form of prayer is a simple prayer I can whole heartedly be absorbed in – even just for a few minutes. The book I have consists of a short bible quote, with some considerations to dwell on for a few minutes. Then there is an invocation typically directed to Our Lord (unless it is a special feast of a great saint, such as Our Lady or St.Joseph).

The other night, this particular minute meditation really jumped out at me as one that every twenty something (or teen) could benefit from. So here it is:

“If we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord. Both in life and in death we are the Lord’s.” – Romans 14:8

Reflection: We belong to the Lord both in life and in death! This gives every human life a particular meaning, a particular goal, and also a special dedication. It casts a comforting and victorious light on every suffering, every sadness. and every trial. 

Prayer: Good Father, let me never forget that I am always completely Yours. 

God Bless!

Happy Easter!

“O God, Who, on this day, through Thine only-begotten Son, hast conquered death, and thrown open to us the gate of everlasting life, give effect by Thine aid to our desires, which Thou dost anticipate and inspire. Through the same our Lord.”

– words from Easter Sunday’s Collect.

These words stuck out to me at Easter Sunday mass yesterday morning, I read them over and over. Sometimes it’s a fine line between seeking God’s will or our own, especially when you feel so strongly about one particular thing. For instance, getting married: many of us feel called to marriage, and yet there is no one around who appears to be “the one”. Maybe we missed something? Maybe God’s trying to show us that it isn’t marriage He wants from us, but a religious life instead? I can hear you from up in Canada girls… “But I don’t WANT to be a nun! I want to have a house and sew and cook and cuddle babies!” Alas, it isn’t always about what we want. In fact, it has nothing to do with what we want, but rather, what God wants for us. We will be the happiest in this world by fulfilling the path HE has for us, not what WE have for us. Of course we all know this, but it’s different to actually put it into practise. It’s a decision we have to make every single day, maybe even several times during the day. And we can do it, with His help.

But back to my point… I think often times we are given certain desires because, in the end, that is what God wants of us. On the rare occasion you hear of someone who dramatically entered a convent or became a priest. But more often than not, people end up doing what they have always desired to do. Most married men and women did want to get married, most nuns always desired to be a nun, most priests had it in at least the back of their mind for most of their lives. So my point is that God inspires certain desires in us. If you can’t shake that longing to get married deep in the back of your heart. chances are you will get married (preferably to the man or women God has set aside as a perfect fit for you). But in the mean time, why not enjoy where God has you right at this moment? He’s given you this time in your life to grow, to learn new things, to become the man or woman He wants you to be. And despite the longing to get married, He knows exactly when you will meet that right One. So for now, maybe He wants you to learn to cook for the sake of your future family, maybe He’s giving you the opportunity to travel and see more of His beautiful creation, or maybe He wants you to learn perseverance in a job you don’t like because He knows down the road you’ll need that same perseverance with a mother-in-law who nit picks at you constantly. We don’t know exactly the reason, but we do know that He has put us in this exact spot in life because He wants something of us during whatever time it is for you.

So don’t let go of those deep rooted desires, or bury them, but rather keep them on the top of your bookshelf in plain site, dusted and ready to by pulled down whenever God inspires you to reach for them. After all, that’s exactly what this past weekend was about. His passion and death were for us to reach heaven, and the particular path He has for each of us will get us there.

Side note: Easter liturgies are the most solemn and beautiful of the whole church year, anyone who doesn’t attend the Latin mass should really seek it out for next Easter! But maybe go a few times to a regular Sunday mass beforehand so you’re not completely over-whelmed by the length and sacredness of the Easter liturgies! 😉