Tuesday, December 1

Returning to America - leaving France

Well, my time in France is now drawing to a close ... it is sad to leave such a charming, quaint country full of so much tradition and history. A part of my heart will stay here (I am sure) and I will take back with me many beautiful memories and stories that I will keep with me forever. Au revoir France!

Tuesday, November 24

St. Therese and the Requiem Mass for Father de Feydeau

November 18th : Preached this morning from the requiem by the Prior, Father Anderson - who on Saturday buried his own mother.

+ Requiem Mass
The Reverend Father Dom Francois de Feydeau de Saint-Christophe November 17, 2009

For unto thy faithful, O Lord, life is changed, not taken away: and the abode of this earthly sojourn being dissolved, an eternal dwelling is prepared in heaven (Preface of the Dead)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ;
My very dear Brother Monks,

The words just quoted from the Preface for the Requiem Mass express the Faith of the Church that shines in the face of the darkest trial that assails the human heart—that is to say the sad reality of death.
Rooted in the Most Precious Blood and water that poured forth from the side of the Savior on Calvary, the Faith comes to our aid in this moment of sorrow, reminding us of Christ’s eternal victory over sin, the world and the “enemy death that shall be destroyed last, until he hath put all his enemies under his feet”. (I Cor. 15:26)

Sharing in this same Faith and making it “earn interest” like the good servant of the parable, that great Theologian of the Little Way, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus of Lisieux gives us her particular insight into the reality of bodily death. As she neared her own end at the age of twenty-four this young Doctor of the Church made the boldest of
affirmations: “I die not; I enter into life.” When a man or a woman--in particular a religious--comes to that crucial moment of the great passage to the other side of things, the truth comes forth without pretention. Saint Therese affirms her belief in eternal life, not in order simply to comfort us, but rather because it is the truth.

Of course, the Saint of Lisieux did not mean to dismiss the possibility of Hell or Purgatory, but having made her great discovery concerning the Merciful Love of God, to which she consecrated herself as a victim of Divine Mercy, she simply was beyond doubting that the Judge of Heaven and Earth would forgive her every fault if she only remained small--very small--with the trust of a little child. And lest we be tempted to think that it was on her merits as a Carmelite nun that she felt so bold in presenting herself to the just Judge, she affirms categorically that she will appear before Him with “empty hands”, that is to say without the merits any good works to speak of--save her childlike confidence itself.

Saint Therese liked to quote the line from that other great doctor of Carmel, Saint John of the Cross, who said that “on the evening of this life it is on love that we will be judged”. Although she felt quite incapable of performing the feats of asceticism that we so admire in the great Saints, she knew for a fact that there was immense love in her heart—better yet, she knew that her vocation was to be the love in the heart of her mother the Church.

As we prepare to commit the mortal remains of a beloved monk to the earth, to that very earth from which the first man was taken, we do well not to forget the luminous path traced by so many saints—from Our Blessed Father Saint Benedict to Saint Therese of Lisieux--that have illumined the world and transfigured the experience of death. Above all we must not forget what Our Lord said about the need for the grain of wheat to die, in order that it not remain sterile but produce much fruit. If we cannot help feeling the bitter grief of seeing a father and brother stolen away from the visible plane of our existence, we must not act like the pagans of yesterday and today, who live without real love in this world and without hope for the next.

May Our Lady of a Happy Dying, Notre-Dame du Bien Mourir, so venerated at Fontgombault Abbey, our mother-house in France, who manifestly helped our brother through the narrow passage of his last days, obtain for us all to die so well. Thus having followed the path of our monastic spirituality, in imitation of the Ecce, Fiat of the Virgin of Nazareth, may we all come to take our places in the eternal liturgical celebrations of Heaven in the presence of God and of the Lamb. Amen.

Article by Father Prior

There have been some interesting finds about Clear Creek lately during some of my searches on the internet --- Like this:

Article here
From June 2009 issue of Eastern Oklahoma Catholic -- see article on page 14.

Pope Benedict to Artists



Sistine Chapel
Saturday, 21 November 2009l

Here are some of my favorite lines from the speech:

“This world in which we live needs beauty in order not to sink into despair. Beauty, like truth, brings joy to the human heart, and is that precious fruit which resists the erosion of time, which unites generations and enables them to be one in admiration. And all this through the work of your hands . . . Remember that you are the custodians of beauty in the world.”

"The experience of beauty does not remove us from reality, on the contrary, it leads to a direct encounter with the daily reality of our lives, liberating it from darkness, transfiguring it, making it radiant and beautiful."

"Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence”

Simone Weil wrote in this regard: “In all that awakens within us the pure and authentic sentiment of beauty, there, truly, is the presence of God. There is a kind of incarnation of God in the world, of which beauty is the sign."

*Hat-tip to Genevieve at http://www.goldenbooklist.blogspot.com/

Friday, November 20

Talk about the prayer of petition

This was a talk that one of the monks gave awhile ago to a group of young people who made a pilgrimage to Clear Creek Monastery on behalf of Father de Feydeau before his passing. The words are beautiful and even though it was not God's will that Fr. de Feydeau stay in this world with us I think the talk below put everything in perspective and gave all of us who love Fr. de Feydeau the right frame of mind during his illness. Thank you God for Father de Feydeau!


you can view the talk here

Thursday, November 19

From the EOC : Article on Fr. de Feydeau

From Eastern Oklahoma Catholic website: http://www.dioceseoftulsa.org/article.asp?nID=1266
Clear Creek’s Subprior, Father de Feydeau, Dies at 57
Diocese of Tulsa News
11/16/2009 - EOC Staff

The Requiem Mass and Funeral for the Rev. Father Dom Francois de Feydeau, subprior of Clear Creek Monastery, was held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17 at the Benedictine monastery located near Hulbert.

Father de Feydeau was a priest and monk of Our Lady of Fontgombault Abbey, France, of the Congregation of Solesmes, of the Order of St. Benedict. He was among the founding members of the Clear Creek Monastery. He died Nov. 15 at 57 and was in his 33rd year of monastic profession and 27th year of his priesthood. For some months, Father de Feydeau had suffered a brain tumor.

“May his soul and those of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God and the intersession of Our Lady, rest in peace, Father Philip Anderson, Clear Creek’s prior said in an email notifying Bishop Edward J. Slattery and the Diocese of Father de Feydeau’s death. Bishop Slattery was in Baltimore for the annual fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Father Fran├žois de Feydeau was born on March 16, 1953 to French parents of noble extraction living in Bizerte, Tunisia, where Mr. de Feydeau worked for a time as an engineer. The family later returned to France, where Fran├žois grew up near the town of Versailles.

Always interested in sailing, he joined the French Sea Scouts and after preparatory school was admitted to the French Naval Academy, from which he graduated at the top of his class. Shortly after being commissioned an officer and sailing around the world in the Naval Academy ship the Jeanne d’Arc, he found himself free to pursue the vocation he had felt from a very early age and entered the novitiate of the Benedictine Abbey, Notre-Dame de Fontgombault.

He pronounced his perpetual vows as a monk in 1980 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1983. After having several important jobs at the abbey, including that of assistant novice-master, he was chosen to be among the founders of Our Lady of Clear Creek Monastery, arriving in Oklahoma in August 1999.

At Clear Creek Father de Feydeau was named sub-prior, cellarer (in charge of the daily work of the monks and all business matters) and master of ceremonies. He later became master of the students and taught moral theology.

He also served as spiritual director for many of the monks. His capacity for work and exquisite charity amazed all who knew him, both inside and outside the monastery.

On May 21st Father de Feydeau was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer. After many weeks of suffering during which he displayed the utmost patience and abandonment to God’s will, he rendered his soul to God early in the morning of Nov. 15th and was buried at the monastery on Nov. 17th.

Tuesday, November 17

High Mass in Clear Creek

Here is a high mass from awhile ago at Clear Creek Monastery with Dom Antione Forgeot, Abbot of Fontgombault. Note: Father de Feydeau is serving as Master of ceremonies in black and white.
*hat tip to gitlancee

Monday, November 16

Father de Feydeau R.I.P.

Fr. de Feydeau in foreground in black and white


On November 15, 2009, strengthened by the sacraments of our Holy Mother Church,


a priest and monk of Our Lady of Fontgombault Abbey, of the Congregation of Solesmes, of the Order of Saint Benedict, rendered his soul to God in Our Lady of Clear Creek Priory.

He was in the 57th year of his age, the 33rd of his monastic profession, and the 27th of his priesthood.

May his soul and those of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God and the intercession of Our Lady, rest in peace.


Thursday, November 12

Father Benedict Groeschel

This is a beautiful video about the founder of an absolutely beautiful order. I encountered some of Fr. Benedict's monks during the Crossroad's Prolife walk last year and they were so full of life and love.
Hat tip to American Papist

Saturday, October 31

a blue treasure

During my explorations of nearby small French villages I came across this proud little door which proclaimed it's originality with bright blue accents --- I was fascinated and thought you all might enjoy this little French jewel as well.

Thursday, October 15


Originally uploaded by mystical_rose84

I spent last weekend in Fontgombaultwhich is the mother house of Clear Creek Monastery. Not only was it amazingly beautiful but it was like being home again for me. I have some more pictures posted on flickr.

I went to the vespers of Saturday and then the low mass and the high mass on Sunday. I bought two small plates in their pottery shop and some good monk beer and chocolate at the small monastery shop. We stayed in one of the little guest cottages (st Pierre I think).

My trip back to Paris was not the most pleasant experience - I missed the train in tours and ended up not getting to Paris till around 10pm. I made it home safe but very exhausted.

Here is a video about Fontgombault. The video footage is great but if you want to understand the narration I hope you understand french (lol)

Wednesday, October 14

What I will be doing this summer ...

When I return from France my sister and I will begin construction of an earthbag building which will be used as a temporary living quarters and my art studio. It is called the 'Honey house' because the shape is similar to the old fashioned bee hives. I thought you might enjoy seeing what is going on with my plans for the near future.

Also I am very interested in survival and bushcraft. My siblings and I have all been studying it together through a series of youtube videos from 'Wilderness Outfitters'. If you find this interesting you can follow this link : http://www.youtube.com/user/wildernessoutfitters

I am writing more on this subject (and related ones) on the group blog 'Notes of a Country Girl' http://www.youtube.com/user/wildernessoutfitters

The text below is copy and pasted from :http://www.networkearth.org/naturalbuilding/honey.html

The Honey House

After a hands-on workshop taught by architect Nader Khalili, we returned home inspired to build our first earthbag project. We started with simple, linear, buttressed exterior walls, graduated to serpentine garden walls, progressed to a small dome and are now finishing a larger dome with a vaulted entry way and big sunny arched windows. This last project turned into a casual workshop inviting people to learn "Flexible Form Rammed Earth," A term we now use that we feel best describes this construction method.

"Flexible Form Rammed Earth (F.F.R.E.)" is a free-form version of rammed earth construction. Since the bags act as a flexible form, it allows the architectural design of curvaceous, sensual structures. We have the ability to mold, bend, writhe and swoop sculptural forms inspired by nature's artistic freedom, while providing structural integrity. Hence, a whole house from foundation to walls to roof can be built using the "Flexible Form Rammed Earth" technique.

Our personal education began when we adopted the FQSS stamp of approval – Fun, Quick, Simple and Solid! By following this criteria, we made the ease of the construction process our priority. As long as the work was Fun and Simple, it went Quickly and the results were Solid. When the work became in any way awkward, FQSS deteriorated into Frustrating, Quarrelsome, Slow and Stupid, prompting us to stop, change tactics or blow the whole thing off and have lunch. (Returning refreshed often spontaneously resolved the problem, resuming FQSS approval.)

THE BASIC PROCEDURE is simple. The bags or tubes are filled with a suitable pre-moistened dirt right on the foundation, laid in a mason-style "running bond." We use #10 coffee cans for scooping and filling. This eliminates any heavy lifting. After a row of bags has been laid, the row is compacted with hand tampers. We lay two strands of long-barbed 4-point barbed wire between every course which acts as a "Velcro mortar" cinching the bags in place. This also provides tensile strength while allowing for the rows to be stepped in to create self-supporting corbelled domes [there is realistic concern about saturation and collapse of unstabilized materials in wet climates –ed] and other unusual shapes. Round structures are guided by the use of a revolving compass. Arched openings are incorporated with the use of removable plywood forms until the "keystone" bags are tamped into place.

An average of four people working 5-6 hours per day moved 40 tons of earth with coffee cans to complete the "bag work" of the Honey House, a 16-ft corbelled dome, in 19 days. In another 7 days, we moved 7 tons more in the form of cob onto the roof.

The material we used in our bags is called "reject sand," obtainable from most gravel yards. Reject sand is the by-product of the process that separates sand and "clay fines" from the gravel being produced at these facilities. This reject material often has the best ratio of clay to sand (approximately 25% clay to 75% sand) for rammed earth construction. And... it is dirt cheap! We paid $1.00 per ton plus delivery.

The bags we used for our construction are woven polypropylene "misprints." The companies that manufacture these bags sometimes have imperfections or mistakes in the printing process that render them unsuitable to their clients. Rather than throw these bags away, the manufacturers will sell them at a reduced cost. A comprehensive list of bag manufacturers can be found in the Thomas Register at your local library. Our favorite manufacturer has been Cady Industries in East Memphis, TN.

Exterior and interior finishes of these structures are open to many options suitable to the climate and design of the building. Wall plasters range from a variety of natural adobe to stabilized earth to lime/cement stucco. Since a corbelled F.F.R.E. roof is exceptionally strong they can easily be bermed into a hillside, or carry the weight of a 9-inch-thick living roof, or a hefty layer of sculpted adobe. Terra cotta tiles, mortared slab stone or slate shingles as well as wood or asphalt shingles are also suitable roofing materials. In warm, frost- free climates, lime/cement stucco can be appropriate.

Thermal performance of earthen structures offer a level of comfort expressed by a long history of world-wide experience. 50% of the current world population live in earthen dwellings from climates as diverse as China, Australia, Africa, Europe, and throughout the US. Dense materials such as adobe, and rammed earth have R- values roughly equivalent to 0.25 per inch... yet despite this low R-value, earthen walls function as an absorbent mass that is able to store warmth and return it to the living spaces as it is needed. This has been documented as the thermal flywheel effect and is referred to as the K-value. This substantiates the common experience people feel that an adobe house is "warm in the winter and cool in the summer." [The "effective R-value" discussion depends enormously on climate and the thickness of the mass. –ed.]

The merits of "Flexible Form Rammed Earth" are in its use of cost-effective materials, simple construction methods and the durable resistance to the ravages of fires, hurricanes, flooding, termites and, as Nader Khalili has proven in Southern California, earthquakes. This makes this type of architecture capable of surviving as long as its 500-1000 year old rammed earth relatives around the world.

Costs for do-it-ourselves construction of the Honey House before windows and doors:

Home made tools (compass, stands, pounders, etc.) $175
Plywood arch forms (reusable)$150
Chicken wire$120
Professional backhoe excavation
(2ft. deep x 16ft. diam.)
Straw for plaster/cob (20 bales)$135
4-point barbed wire (2 rolls)$190
40 tons reject sand (delivered)$150
1000 bags (delivered)$250

* Tools of the the "dirt bag" trade. To comply with the FQSS theory, we adopted techniques and developed a few specialized tools that enhanced the precision and quality of the construction, Equipped with the latest tools of the "dirt bag trade" a new jargon of bag talk has been born: bag stands, sliders, diddling, tube chutes, full pounders, quarter pounders, sliding compass, fans, halos, chicken-wire cradles, can tossing, contouring, hard-ass bags, and a huge breakthrough in bag technology, "scooching." These simple additions to the repertoire of FFRE construction have turned an awesome job into a friendly task.

We are currently involved in documenting material for a "How to" manual and inspirational video on F.F.R.E construction (go ahead, pronounce it free construction!). We offer workshops in design and hands-on construction techniques utilizing Flexible Form Rammed Earth architecture as an aid to creating affordable and earth-friendly housing. For more information, consultation or workshop schedules contact: Kaki Hunter & Doni Kiffmeyer, OK OK OK Productions, 256 East 100 South, Moab UT 84532;okokok@lasal.net.

Thursday, October 8

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

From today's readings : "If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?" --- Luke 11:13

Here is a beautiful prayer to the Holy Spirit that was on the back of a prayer card that was given to me by a sweet fellow pilgrim I met in Lisieux during my pilgrimage last Thursday.

Breathe in me O Holy Spirit
That my thoughts may all be holy,

Act in me, O Holy Spirit,
That my work too, may be holy,

Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit,
That I love but what is holy,

Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit,
To defend all that is holy,

Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit,
That I always may be Holy.
-St Augustine

Tuesday, October 6

Some pictures from my visit to Lisieux

I had a wonderful visit to Lisieux! I would love to dedicate more time to do a long post on the trip but since I am short of time I will at least post a few pictures. The top pic is the basilica of St. Therese which is at the top of a hill overlooking Lisieux (you can see it very well from the train station). The next picture is the inside of the basilica and the bottom pic is the sanctuary of the cript of the basilica. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 1

Happy Feast of St Therese

Happy Feast day (according to the new saints calender)! I am going to Lisieux today! Yah! Please keep me in your prayers as I will be praying for all you too! I feel so honored to be able to visit Therese's home place on her feast day.

Tuesday, September 29

Happy Feast of St. Michael

Happy Feast of St. Michael!! What a wonderful saint to have as my patron and protector. And Happy feast day to the best dad in the world - I love you!

Here is the St. Michael Chaplet which is a wonderful prayer. The above picture is an icon from the Louvre.

Sunday, September 27


I just back from a day in Paris and a night spent at Sacre Coeur. The sisters who care for the basilica offer a place to sleep for 5 euro so you can participate in the night adoration. I was so amazed that the Basilica has had perpetual adoration for over 150 years! - and I felt so blessed to be a part of that.

Wednesday, September 23

Ember Wednesday in September - Memory of Padre Pio

I was surprised at 7am mass this morning (as St. Germain's in Le Chesnay) to see the collect, secret, and post-communion in honor of St. Padre Pio. As soon as I got home I jumped online to see the Clear Creek monastery liturgy for the day -- and saw that they also were celebrating Ember Wednesday with a memory of Padre Pio. Did a little more looking around and found this letter from Padre Pio to the Holy Father where he expresses his whole-hearted devotion to Holy Church and her vicar - I thought is was very beautiful and should be an inspiration for all children of Holy Mother Church. Blessed feast day!

San Giovanni Rotondo
September 12, 1968

Your Holiness,

I unite myself with my brothers and present at your feet my affectionate respect, all my devotion to your august person in an act of faith, love and obedience to the dignity of him whom you are representing on this earth. The Capuchin Order has always been in the first line in love, fidelity, obedience and devotion to the Holy See; I pray to God that it may remain thus and continue in its tradition of religious seriousness and austerity, evangelical poverty and faithful observance of the Rule and Constitution, certainly renewing itself in the vitality and in the inner spirit, according to the guides of the Second Vatican Council, in order to be always ready to attend to the necessities of Mother Church under the rule of your Holiness.
 Pope Paul VI
I know that your heart is suffering much these days in the interest of the Church, for the peace of the world, for the innumerable necessities of the people of the world, but above all, for the lack of obedience of some, even Catholics, to the high teaching that you, assisted by the Holy Spirit and in the name of God, are giving us. I offer you my prayers and daily sufferings as a small but sincere contribution on the part of the least of your sons in order that God may give you comfort with his Grace to follow the straight and painful way in the defense of eternal truth, which never changes with the passing of the years. Also, in the name of my spiritual children and the Prayer Groups, I thank you for your clear and decisive words that you especially pronounced in the last encyclical "Humanae Vitae"; and I reaffirm my faith, my unconditional obedience to your illuminated directions.

May God grant victory to the truth, peace to his Church, tranquility to the world, health and prosperity to your Holiness so that, once these fleeting doubts are dissipated, the Kingdom of God may triumph in all hearts, guided by your apostolic work as Supreme Pastor of all Christianity.

Prostrate at your feet, I beg you to bless me in the company of my brothers in religion, my spiritual children, the Prayer Groups, my sick ones and also to bless all our good endeavours which we are trying to fulfill under your protection in the name of Jesus.

Humbly yours,

P. Pio, Capuchin

Padre Pio letter to the Holy Father

Saturday, September 19

New video on Clear Creek Monastery

I was delighted to find this new video of the progress of Clear Creek Monastery. Please keep all the monks in your prayers especially Fr. Subprior who is seriously ill with cancer. more ...

Tuesday, September 15

Blessed Feast of Our Lady of Sorrow - Notre-Dame des Douleurs

A blessed feast to you all. Here is a video clip of the Boys choir in Warsaw singing the Stabat Mater Dolorosa by Pergolesi

Tuesday, September 8

1st Day at the Louvre!

Originally uploaded by mystical_rose84

I spent most of Sunday gazing at the vast collections of art in the Louvre. The had an audio tour that was really helpful (though I wish it had more info on it). Here is a picture of me in front of the pyramid. You take stairs down into the pyramid and then you have three different directions you can go - and each one is bigger than any of the museums back at home! I enjoyed the old religious statues the most ... I took a lot of pictures. The roman marble statues were totally amazing. I want very much to go back with my sketch book and spend more time in one particular area. This time was just getting myself comfortable with the place and checking out what there was to see - and there was alot! Enjoy the pictures.

Friday, September 4

A safe return to Versailles

Thank you for all the prayers being said for my safe travels. I made it back to Versailles without much incident - which was a suprise compared with my other recent travel experiences. My brother drove me to the Dallas airport with plenty of time to get through security. I flew with Lufthansa since my past experience with United was very difficult. I arrived in Frankfurt and had a 2 hour wait for my plane to Paris. I landed in Paris safetly and then began the long process of getting from the airport to versailles ... nothing went wrong but everything took as long it seems as was possible. I waited at the baggage claim for nearly 30 min. Then after crossing to the other side of the airport I had to wait another 30 min in a line to buy a train ticket (I could have bought it at the machine if I'd have had some pocket change). Then the train had a 30 min delay at one of the stops - I can't say why because I could not understand what was being said over the speakers. In those sort of situations I just observe the other people and usually go along with the flow. I transfered from the train to the RER C at the San Michelle metro and from there until Versailles I just relaxed and watched out the window at the familiar Paris landscape. It brought back memories of my first train ride when everything had seemed so strange and foreign - this time it was all so familiar and much easier. I heaved my luggage out of the train at Versailles Rive Gouche and walked out of the station just as the bus was arriving. I already had several tickets with me so I could just step in. The drive along main street was wonderful and I was reminded of just how much I had grown fond of Versailles. The market, the pattiseries, the people on bikes, the flowers in pots on the windows, the little cars and little streets. I had a short walk from the bus stop to the house where I was warmly greeted by the family I am staying with. I had missed them all very much during my month home and it is wonderful now to be back for a time. Now I just am catching up on sleep and getting back into a routine.

Thursday, August 20

Clear Creek Pilgrimage

The young people of Clear Creek did a three mile pilgrimage a few days ago for the intentions of one of the monks who is ill with cancer. Please keep him in your prayers.

Friday, August 14

Video from Chartres Pilgrimage 2009

Here is a video from this years pilgrimage. It was wonderful to watch and remember the good friends and the sore feet (lol). And interestingly enough - I am the girl to the far left in the picture above (before you press the play button).

Saturday, July 25


If you would like to see my latest art project you can jump over to smallpax to see my Maria Goretti illustrations Post (I just removed the images for the present time since the book is about to be published)

Saturday, July 11

Me and Mont San Michel

Originally uploaded by mystical_rose84


We stopped by Mont San Michel for a few minutes on the way from Normandy to Britany. I certainly want to return and climb the mountain to the church - it looked so beautiful!

Monday, June 22

Collection of resources that I use daily

Here is a collection of websites that I use daily - especially when I am going over the daily readings for the mass in French. I have the french 'Magnificat' with me at mass, but first I spend some time in the morning with the readings online in French and English:

English for mass readings : catholic calender
French Bible online : La Bible en ligne

Meanwhile I have two translation pages open (one for whole phrases and one for individual words). Translation website : http://translation2.paralink.com/

Here is a good site that I reference for grammer topics : http://www.orbilat.com/Languages/French/Grammar/index.html

And last but not least is the google webpage translation tool : http://www.google.ca/language_tools?hl=en
You copy and paste the url into the box under 'translate a webpage' and then select the language. This comes in very handy when I am trying to find information from a French site and I have a difficult time navigating around.

I don't imagine that many of you will find this very relevent for your lives but it has been very helpful for me and hopefully it will interest at least some of you.

Saturday, June 20

Prayer of Petition

Thank you for coming to pray with us for Fr. Subprior. Thank you for helping him and all of us with your prayer.

I thought it would be fitting to speak to you of the prayer of petition. We divide prayer into various types, but they all very linked in fact. When I ask for something I am glorifying God. When I adore Him, I am opening up to His graces. The Our Father is a list of petitions, but the first one is "May Thy Name be sanctified."

It was normal, with this personal God Who revealed Himself to them and acted in their lives, that the Israelites prayed a lot. The Old Testament is indeed full of prayer. There are some big scenes, such as Abraham intervening for the sinning cities that the Lord planned to destroy.

Moses is a major intercessory figure. We see him praying on the hill while the Israelites battle on the plain. He prays for the healing of his sister. And especially when he was up on Mt. Sinai, and the people began worshipping false gods, and God decided to destroy them, promising to raise up a new people, Moses "turned away His wrath."

David considered it part of his mission as king to represent and pray for His people. The prophets also officially prayed for the people. Elijah prayed to bring a child back to life etc. Of course the psalms are the main prayers, and they are largely made up of petitions. They are wonderful—simple, direct, spontaneous earnest ["help me! hear me! turn towards me! I'm afraid! simple.

Let me read you a little of Ps 24/1-7,16-22

Since you are on a pilgrimage, I might mention the series of psalms around 121 that were sung on pilgrimages to Jerusalem, for example 124/1-2; let me quote 131 also.

Our Lord gave a fair amount of teaching about the prayer of petition. There are especially the two rather amazing parables: the importunate widow whom the iniquitous judge did not want to help, but to get her off his back, he did what she wanted. Then the importunate friend in St Luke 11/5-8 Christ really insists on this certitude of help (verses 9-13),

He is not saying that God does not care for us, but that we must insist and persevere. He encourages us greatly. He wants us to storm Heaven and trust in our Father.

So the Christians went forward in this line. Paul always promises his prayers and asks his faithful to help him in his ministry by their prayer. And he says not to be anxious but put all our requests before the Lord: Phil 4/5.

Likewise all through the centuries. There are the famous intercessors— St Monica's years of praying for her wayward son, then
being heard beyond her wildest dreams. St Catherine of Siena's prayers to save her sons going to the execution. The rosary and Lepanto. And St Therese of the Child Jesus' "first child" who converted at the guillotine. And then all the miracles of healing from prayer.

So, the essential role of prayer of petition in our life is a fact. It remains mysterious. However one might ask two questions here to help us understand better:

1) we cannot change God, make Him change His mind. And when we pray Fiat voluntas tua--but of course His Will will be done. He is all powerful! And He loves this sinner more than I do, wants his good. He doesn't need our information as our Lord Himself told us: "don't speak a lot of your words, Your Father knows what you need before you ask." Mtt8/6

Certainly, God does not need our prayer but He wants it. He takes it into His providential designs. In His eternal plan He wants this or that good, but He also wants to work it out in time through this or that means, notably by prayer. Saints, so attuned to the Holy Ghost, know that when they want and pray for something intensely, it is because God wants to give it.

Prayer is thus one very fitting way for us to cooperate in His work. It is indeed fitting, for several reasons easy to see.

First it makes us turn to Him, take up contact with Him. Prayer helps us recognize that we are creatures, that we are not the masters of our life. It teaches us to be children, to rely on God. It helps us to desire more; it disposes us, it opens us up to His action.

It also links us to one another. We will see in Heaven all the little ties brought about by prayer, the graces we owe to one another. After WWII, Russia placed a puppet ruler over Poland. Cardinal Wyszynski hardly knew him but had always prayed for him. This man later lost favor and was called back to Moscow, and the Cardinal pretty much forgot about him. Then one night he had a dream and this man was calling out to him—"Cardinal Wyszynski, pray for me." The next day, the Cardinal read in the newspaper that the man had died during the night. That shows these mysterious and powerful ties woven by prayer.

2) Second question: why doesn't prayer seem to work as much as promised?

First, there is a certain hierarchy in prayer. Certain intentions are absolute—grace, salvation, conversion. Others are not absolutely necessary—I want to succeed in my exams, that is a good thing, but I can go to Heaven and be eternally happy without it. God might not hear me about my exams for some greater good.

Also, they say that we must distinguish between asking for self and another. When I ask I am already opening myself to God, but with another that person's free will intervenes. Nevertheless, no prayer is in vain. When I pray for someone God is going to help that person all the more. Then obviously it is not so simple. There are big intentions we must battle for—abortion, the conversion of our country, of the Jews, of the Muslims. Perhaps a St. Catherine of Siena could obtain that all alone, but for us it is a continual war.

Then there is the condition of perseverance— that was the very point of the parables of the importunate friend and widow. And we must indeed battle. When the disciples could not exorcise a demon, Christ told them such demons can't be expelled except through prayer and fasting. So it's not so easy.

There are also dispositions we must bring to prayer if we are to be heard. Faith, first of all. Our Lord pushed away the Canaanite woman harshly, yet she persevered and He praised her for her faith. The parable about the publican, a public sinner who was heard instead of the pharisee who obeyed the law, teaches about the necessary humility to address God. We also must do God's will. St. John tells us we are heard in our prayer, "because we do what pleases God." [Jn 3/22] James likewise: James 1/5-8. And he encourages us with the fact that Elijah was heard, but because he was a righteous man. We all realize we ask holy people to pray for us. It's not those who say Lord Lord who will be heard but those who do the Father's will.

Also we must be reconciled with our brethren. Our Lord tells us to leave our offering there and go be reconciled with a brother who has something against you; then you can make the offering. And in the Our Father, we ask to have our sins forgiven but our Lord tells us we must forgive others if we are going to be forgiven.

Finally, we have to work too, on our side. While Moses prayed the army really fought. If I want to succeed in the exams I have to study too.

Prayer is a trial of faith. Benedict XVI wrote in his first encyclical of the necessity of prayer in our charitable actions. Then
he came to the temptation of doubting prayer since there are so many miseries in this world.

"Often we cannot understand why God refrains from intervening. Yet he does not prevent us from crying out, like Jesus on the Cross: "My god, my god, why have you forsaken me?" We should continue asking this question in prayerful dialogue before His face: 'Lord, holy and true, how long will it be?' (Rev 6/10). … Our protest is not meant to challenge God, or to suggest that error, weakness or indifference can be found in Him .. Instead, our crying out is, as it was for Jesus on the Cross, the deepest and most radical way of affirming our faith in His sovereign power. Even in their bewilderment and failure to understand the world around them, Christians continue to believe in the goodness and loving kindness of God. Immersed like everyone else in the dramatic complexities of historical events, they remain unshakably certain that God is our Father and loves us, even when his silence remains incomprehensible. "

Now we can kind of put it all together in a little synthesis on our prayer of petition. First of all God takes the initiative in
Christian life. He calls on us. Prayer is part of our response, it is the reciprocal call. It is always first in our response, because we
rely on grace. "Without me you can do nothing." This is especially true in the order of grace, the supernatural order. So, we must come to God like children to their father, with faith, hope, trust. We can do so only in Christ. Grafted in Him by baptism, we can approach the Father as His sons. This also puts us in communion one with another. "When two of you ask anything together in My Name, you will be heard."

It is especially in the official prayer of the Church that we pray in Christ and with one another. Especially at Mass where all our prayers are lifted up with Christ in His passage to the Father. And then we must persevere courageously in our prayer, and work to be faithful in our life.

All our life indeed should be a prayer. We can do nothing in the supernatural order, so our acts themselves are mainly a beseeching, an offering. So, one good way to pray, and do penance, is to go on pilgrimage. That activity puts the petition in our bones and muscles, makes it concrete, more real. It increases our desires. It's good to go to a holy place, a source of graces, where God likes to intensify His action. A monastery, a place of prayer, a sanctuary is a good place to go for graces. And Clear Creek is the house of Our Lady.

God likes us to pray to the saints. We thus knit ties with members of the Mystical Body on the other side. That too is in service of God's plan. This is especially true of Mary, our heavenly Mother.

Now we can turn to Fr. de Feydeau for a last word. "Tout est grace," all is grace - some harder than others. Often we have to be cornered to make us open up to big graces. This is a grace for Fr de Feydeau, a deepening of his spiritual life; perhaps a last purification if God takes him. It's a grace for us in many ways. This illness wakes us up to the fact that we cannot install ourselves here below. It wakes us up to reality. And Fr. de Feydeau is very edifying, a great example with his good humor, his realistic, natural attitude of someone who is probably about to pass from this life to the next, to the real life. He could say like St. Paul in Philippians 1/20-24.

He is a strong soul. He was a naval officer and likes challenges.

This is a chance for fraternal charity also. Fr. de Feydeau doesn't come on recreation. So, last Sunday he drew a cartoon. We see him sitting on a pillow with another one behind his head and one under each arm. He's on the phone and we see Fr Andrews on the other end [you have to know Fr. Andrews...] saying: "I'm on my way, I thought you might need a fifth pillow." We see Br. Michael cleaning up Fr. de Feydeau's cell, Br. Martin at the door with a snack, Br. Anthony perhaps with Fr. de Feydeau's shoes all polished, Br. Isidore next door carving a staff for him!

God may want to take a soul that is ready. But let's pray for his healing, we must want him to stay with us. Padre Pio of course was very high in grace, very advanced in holiness. Nevertheless when his parents died, he could hardly bear it - he couldn't celebrate mass for two or three days. We don't want to be without Fr. de Feydeau and we need him. Maybe God wants to work a miracle. maybe He wants to put us through this and then give him back. But all prayers must end, "Thy will be done." Father de Feydeau will help us in Heaven as well. Also, help Father along the way with your prayers. He deserves them. Pray also for Fr. Prior. Pray for Br. Martin [Markey, the infirmarian] who has consecrated himself to serving Fr. de Feydeau day and night.

So let's entrust Father to Mary. Let me close by quoting some stanzas of St Therese of the Child Jesus' poem on the Blessed Virgin. Her sister asked her to write out her thoughts on our heavenly Mother. This was the last poem she wrote, near her death. The theme is that she wants the Virgin Mary to be close to us, then she can imitate her, trust her. She expresses that in the first two stanzas:

Oh! I would like to sing, Mary, why I love you,
Why your sweet name thrills my heart,
And why the thought of your supreme greatness
Could not bring fear to my soul.
If I gazed on you in your sublime glory,
Surpassing the splendor of all the blessed,
I could not believe that I am your child.
O Mary! before you I would lower my eyes!

If a child is to cherish his mother,
She has to cry with him and share his sorrows.
O my dearest Mother, on this foreign shore
How many tears you shed to draw me to you!
In pondering your life in the holy Gospels,
I dare look at you and come near you.
It's not difficult for me to believe I'm your child,
For I see you human and suffering like me.

Then she grows through Mary's life. And comes to the moving, final stanza evoking the time when the statue of Mary smiled at the little Therese on her sickbed and healed her:

Soon I'll hear that sweet harmony.
Soon I'll go to beautiful Heaven to see you.
You who came to smile at me in the morning of my life,
Come smile at me again, Mother, it's evening now!
I no longer fear the splendor of your supreme glory.
With you I've suffered, and now I want
To sing on your lap, Mary, why I love you,
And go on saying that I am your child!