Sustain us O Lord!

A blessed Lent to all!  May the good God aid you in every way as you take up battle against spiritual evil.

I wish to take this holy time to make known something I feel deep in my heart – everything to JESUS, through Mary, with Peter!

This is a refrain, an invocation, that was given by St. Josemaria Escriva.  It is one I have always used but since I have come to Rome I have understood it better than ever.  These are hard times in the life of the Church.  Many waves crash against the barque of Peter and the Faith wains in many parts of the world.  When we hear the words of Jesus from the Gospel, “But, when the Son of Man comes, will He find Faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) it is easy to tempted to dark thoughts and worries as trends hostile to the Faith spring up every where.

Of course, we are filled ever with hope, always with the joy of the Gospel that “fills the hearts of all those who encounter Jesus.”  (Evangelii Gaudium 1)

How did the world come to encounter Jesus?  Through Mary.  Not because of Mary – it was because God so love the world.  The Blessed Trinity is the reason, the cause and the end of all of this joy.  But the Blessed Trinity came to us through Mary.  When the world saw the face of Jesus Christ it saw the Face of God.

Lo sguardo pasquale Kopie

Jesus is the image of the invisible God.  He was seen with eyes and touched with hands and heard with ears and so forth.  Thus does He leave the Sacraments and thus did He leave His image.  He also left her image.

L'Avvocata

St. Josemaria has another saying, “Love for our Mother will be the breath that kindles into a living flame the embers of virtue hidden in the ashes of your indifference.”  (The Way 492)

The image of Jesus at Manopello is a miracle.  The image of the Virgin Mary at Monte Mario is not.  Jesus is God.  Mary is not.  But Jesus and Mary are inseparably linked – His humanity comes from her humanity.  Her desire is His desire, “Do whatever He tells you.”  Devotion to her will lead you only to love Him more and more and more.

The image of our Lady, which I have posted above, is the mother of all icons, of all images of Mary throughout history (except Guadalupe, which I will write about another time.)  This image was lost to the world for many years.  And that was ok – the world didn’t need it in order to live and love Faith.

In these days the image, through amazing workings of Providence, is known again.  As Pope Benedict XVI went to see the Face of Jesus at Manopello, he also went to see the face of Mary on Monte Mario (to Jesus, though Mary, with Peter.)  I have no doubt that these images will be at the center of the New Evangelization.  To contemplate them is to contemplate the divine – Jesus is Divine and Mary does nothing but point to the Divine.

Today I was able to live the unity of Jesus and Mary in a particular way.

Elevation of the Chalice

I celebrated the Mass of Ash Wednesday at the altar of the chapel in the Monster of the Holy Rosary, which houses the icon L’Advocata of Mary.  To raise the Sacred Host and Chalice is the greatest of act of glory that can be given to God.

Before L'Advocata 3

To look into the eyes of the Virgin Mary does nothing but nourish and magnify that glory in one’s heart.  Look at her and she will have you look at Him.  Do you have trouble with your resolutions?  She will help.  Is the fire of your faith cold, she will breathe on it – wherever she is the HOLY SPIRIT is right there too (Annunciation & Pentecost anyone?)!

Before L'Advocata 2

I am going to work to make these images (Jesus’ image at Manopello and Mary’s on Monte Mario) better known and better love because God used them once in history to renew Faith on the earth and He is going to do it again!

ALL FOR JESUS, ALWAYS AND EVERYWHERE!  All through Mary – look to her and soon you will be looking with her and glorifying God with all you have and are.

A blessed Lent to all.

I will be back in Madison in one week – a sad but joyful reality – I kindly ask for your prayers for safe travel and resolution to my health situation.

A Personal Update

On Wednesday, March 12th I will be returning to Madison to seek treatment for my recurring cellulitis infection (from this summer) as it seems to be progressing to a dangerous stage.
The decision has been made with a lot of consultation and all is well here in Rome regarding what has to happen.  I will return to Rome in September and continue my course of study in the normal cycle.
I will be living at a local parish rectory with one of my best friends, for which I am very grateful.  As of this moment I am doing well – the short-term prognosis is good but the long-term is quite negative.  I will be pretty normal until I begin treatment and, at this time, I can’t quite know when that will be.
Last July was the first time this infection sprang up.  It was (and always preceded) by about twenty-four hours of fever & chills and intense pain my lower joints as well as tremendous fatigue.  Roughly at the end of this twenty-four hour period the infection appears – in the middle toe of my left foot.  The infection re-occurred again in late September and again in late December.
Cellulitis is a bacterial infection that occurs underneath the skin – there is none of the usual manifestations associated with infection, i.e. no pus or open wound.  The infected area becomes bright red, swollen, hot and very painful to touch or pressure.  Untreated, the infection will spread quickly and the immediate danger is if it should enter the blood-stream and cause blood-infection = sepsis.
Last week I was struck with the same symptoms only this time the redness and swelling were not after the fever & chills, but at the same time and the redness was not only in the middle toe of my left foot but also there was a red-line in the middle of my foot.  This was a bad sign.
Since that day I have been in a great deal of contact with doctors and nurses both in Italy and in the U.S.  There is general agreement on the following points:
  1. Recurring cellulitis in the same area of the body is extremely rare in someone who is not elderly, is not diabetic and has never had a surgery.
  2. The infection is obviously not weakening but spreading.
  3. There is a danger that the infection is/will become resistant to oral antibiotics
  4. There is a greater danger of osteomyelitis= bone infection, which can lead to a number of bad things.
  5. I should seek special treatment as soon as I can and especially before another flare-up of the infection.

Because of all of this I will return to the United States to seek extended treatment.  In the U.S. I can obtain treatment in out-patient care, which I cannot do in Italy.  Therefore, to return home is also a greater aid to my course of study.

When I get home the first object will be to see if there is bone-infection or not and go from there.
Your prayers are appreciated and know that I will pray for you.