Saturday, August 29, 2009

John the Baptist, Precursor of Christ in birth and death

I have added the reading from the office of readings for the feast of St. John the Baptist because of his great importance in Christianity as Martyr, Prophet and precursor of Jesus.
From a homily by St. Bede the Venerable, priest

As forerunner of our Lord’s birth, preaching and death, the blessed John showed in his struggle a goodness worthy of the sight of heaven. In the words of Scripture: Though in the sight of men he suffered torments, his hope is full of immortality. We justly commemorate the day of his birth with a joyful celebration, a day which he himself made festive for us through his suffering and which he adorned with the crimson splendour of his own blood. We do rightly revere his memory with joyful hearts, for he stamped with the seal of martyrdom the testimony which he delivered on behalf of our Lord.
There is no doubt that blessed John suffered imprisonment and chains as a witness to our Redeemer, whose forerunner he was, and gave his life for him. His persecutor had demanded not that he should deny Christ, but only that he should keep silent about the truth. Nevertheless, he died for Christ. Does Christ not say: I am the truth? Therefore, because John shed his blood for the truth, he surely died for Christ.
Through his birth, preaching and baptising, he bore witness to the coming birth, preaching and baptism of Christ, and by his own suffering he showed that Christ also would suffer.
Such was the quality and strength of the man who accepted the end of this present life by shedding his blood after the long imprisonment. He preached the freedom of heavenly peace, yet was thrown into irons by ungodly men; he was locked away in the darkness of prison, though he came bearing witness to the Light of life and deserved to be called a bright and shining lamp by that Light itself, which is Christ. John was baptised in his own blood, though he had been privileged to baptise the Redeemer of the world, to hear the voice of the Father above him, and to see the grace of the Holy Spirit descending upon him. But to endure temporal agonies for the sake of the truth was not a heavy burden for such men as John; rather it was easily borne and even desirable, for he knew eternal joy would be his reward.
Since death was ever near at hand through the inescapable necessity of nature, such men considered it a blessing to embrace it and thus gain the reward of eternal life by acknowledging Christ’s name. Hence the apostle Paul rightly says: You have been granted the privilege not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for his sake. He tells us why it is Christ’s gift that his chosen ones should suffer for him: The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.
Shortly after he had baptized Jesus, John the Baptist began to denounce Herod Antipas, the tetarch of Galilee. Herod had divorced his own wife and taken Herodias, the wife of his half- brother Philip and also his own niece. John the Baptist declared, "I is not lawful for you to have her," so Herod threw him into prison.
Not only did Herod fear John and his disciples, he also knew him to be a righteous man, so he did not kill him. Herodias determined to bring about John's death. From prison John followed Jesus's ministry, and sent messengers to question him (Luke 7:19-29). One day Herod gave a fine banquet to celebrate his birthday. His entire court was present as well as other powerful and influential Palestinians. Herodias's daughter Salome so pleased Herod when she danced to entertain the company that he promised her whatever she would ask--even half of his kingdom. Salome asked her mother for counsel and was told to request the head of the Baptist (Matthew 14:1-12).
Because of his pride Herod, though deeply sorry, could not decline the request; thus, as Saint Augustine says, "an oath rashly taken was criminally kept." He sent a soldier of the guard to behead John in prison. Thus, the "voice crying in the wilderness" was silenced. The head was placed on a platter and taken to Salome, who gave it to her mother.
When John's disciples heard what had happened, they took away his body and laid it in a tomb, probably at Sebaste in Samaria, where he was venerated in the 4th century. His tomb was desecrated by Julian the Apostate. John's relics are claimed by many places, but it is unlikely that they are authentic. His cultus is ancient in both the East and West, because intercession to Saint John was believed to the coming of Christ in the soul, just as it was in history. There are a vast number of medieval churches in England dedicated to Saint John. He is the patron of the Knights Hospitallers, whose principal work was to guard the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem and protect pilgrims

Friday, August 28, 2009

St. Moses The Black

One of the more exciting of the early monks in the period of desert Christian monasticism was a Black African (Nubian) now honored as St. Moses the Black. He had been a slave of a government official in Egypt who discharged him for theft and suspected murder. He became the leader of a gang of bandits who roamed the Nile Valley and had the reputation for being associated with terror and violence.
On one occasion, when he sought to hide from local authorities, he took shelter with some hermits in Skete in the western desert near Alexandria. The dedication of their lives and their peace and contentment seem to have influenced him deeply. Eventually, he gave up his old way of life and became a hermit/monk himself.
The conversion of Moses was not instantaneous, he had a rather difficult time adjusting to regular monastic discipline. He was zealous of everything he undertook, but became discouraged when he concluded he was not becoming a perfect monk advanced in all the degrees of spiritual perfection. Early one morning before dawn, St. Isadore, abbot of the monastery, took Brother Moses to the roof and together they watched the first rays of the dawn come over the horizon. They stayed there until the new day had begun. Then Isidore said, "Only slowly do the rays of the sun drive away the night and usher in a new day and, thus, only slowly does one become a perfect contemplative."
In another incident, one of the brothers committed a fault. A council met and Moses was invited, but refused to attend. Someone came to him to let him know the others were waiting, at which Moses went to the meeting. He took a leaking jug filled with water and carried it on his shoulder (another version has him carrying a basket of sand with a hole in it). When he arrived, the others came out to meet him asking, "What is this?" Moses replied, "My sins run out behind me and I do not see them, but today I am coming to judge the errors of another." Hearing that, they said no more to the erring brother, but forgave him.
Moses became the spiritual leader of a colony of hermits in the desert near Skete. At some time, he had been ordained a priest -- an uncommon phenomenon at that period for desert monks. When he was 75 years old, about the year 407, word came that a group of renegades planned to attack the colony. The brothers wished to defend themselves, but Moses forbade such action. He told them to retreat rather than take up the sword. He and seven others stayed on to greet the invaders with open arms, but all were martyred by the bandits. A modern interpretation honors St. Moses the Black as an apostle of nonviolence. Moses is honored by the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Catholic Church and the Coptic and Orthodox Church.

Feast of St. Augustine

Augustine (Aurelius Augustinus) was one of the greatest theologians of Western Christianity. (In his day the Mediterranean world consisted of an Eastern, Greek-speaking half and a Western, Latin-speaking half, with different ways of looking at things, and different habits of thought.) He was born 13 November 354 in North Africa, about 45 miles south of the Mediterranean, in the town of Tagaste (modern Souk-Ahras) in Numidia, in what is now Algeria, but near ancient Carthage (modern Tunis). His mother, Monica, was a Catholic, and his father for many years a pagan (although he became a Catholic before his death). His mother undertook to bring him up as a Catholic, and on one level he always found something attractive about Christ, but in the short run he was more interested in the attractions of sex, fame, and pride in his own cleverness. After a moderate amount of running around as a teen-ager, he took a mistress, who bore him a son when he was about eighteen. Theirs was a long-term relationship, apparently with faithfulness on both sides, and the modern reader is left wondering why he did not simply marry the girl. He never tells us this (and in fact never tells us her name), so that we can only guess. It seems likely that she was a freedwoman, and that the laws forbade marriage between a free-born Roman citizen and a slave, or an ex-slave.
When he was 19 and a student at Carthage, he read a treatise by Cicero that opened his eyes to the delights of philosophy.
He was from the beginning a brilliant student, with an eager intellectual curiousity, but he never mastered Greek -- he tells us that his first Greek teacher was a brutal man who constantly beat his students, and Augustine rebelled and refused to study. By the time he realized that he really needed to know Greek, it was too late; and although he acquired a smattering of the language, he was never really at home in it. However, his mastery of Latin was another matter. He became an expert both in the eloquent use of the language and in the use of clever arguments to make his points. He became a teacher of rhetoric in Carthage, but was dissatisfied. It was the custom for students to pay their fees to the professor on the last day of the term, and many students attended faithfully all term, and then did not pay. In his late twenties, Augustine decided to leave Africa and seek his fortune in Rome.
For a long time Augustine was attracted by the teachings of Manicheeism, named for Mani, a Persian who had preached an alternate form of Zoroastrianism, the dominant religion of Persia. Zoroaster had taught the existence of a power of light, God, the supreme Creator, and of a dark and evil power that opposed him. On the Zoroastrian (Parsi) view, the dark power was a rebel against his creator, and doomed to ultimate defeat. Mani, on the other hand, was a thoroughgoing dualist, who taught that there are two gods of equal power and eternity, and that the universe is the scene of an unending battle between light and darkness, good and evil, knowledge and ignorance, soul and body, etc. The Manichees as they moved west into the Roman Empire adopted many traits of what is generically called Gnosticism. In particular, they advertised themselves as being not an alternative to Catholocism but as the advanced version of it, as the faith for the spiritually mature, the intellectually gifted. They claimed that their beliefs were based on reason rather than authority, and that they had answers for everything, at least as soon as the learner was sufficiently advanced to comprehend them. They differed from the classical Gnostics by not contrasting spirit with matter. On their view, everything was composed of material particles, but these were either light or dark. Since the mind was composed of light particles, imprisoned in the body, a cage made of dark particles, something like the Gnostic contrast between spirit and matter was there. Members were divided into an inner circle, the "elect," who were expected to be celibate and vegetarian, so as to avoid all those dark particles, and the "learners," of whom considerably less was expected. Augustine signed up as a learner. He was at first completely captivated, but then met with a series of disappointments. The rank and file of the movement did not seem to be very clear thinkers. He met the leaders, who were advertised as the Towering Intellects of the Ages, and was not impressed.
Augustine prospered in Rome, and was eventually appointed chief professor of rhetoric for the city of Milan, at that time the capital city of the Empire in the West. It should be noted that this was an extremely prestigious appointment. In classical times, when laws were often made and issues voted on by huge public assemblies, when even juries typically had several hundred members, and when a man's public influence, or even on occasion his life, depended on his ability to sway large audiences, rhetoric -- the art of manipulating an audience -- was a skill that few men thought they could afford to neglect. (Socrates was one of the few, and we know what happened to him!) The art, at first intensely practical, had by Augustine's day become a display form admired for its own sake. However, the admiration was there. Every lawyer, arguing a case, was expected to give an eloquent speech, full of classical allusions and standard rhetorical flourishes. And Augustine was at the top of the field.
In Milan Augustine met the Saint Ambrose, and was startled to find in him a reasonableness of mind and belief, a keenness of thought, and an integrity of character far in excess of what he had found elsewhere. For the first time, Augustine saw Catholicism as a religion fit for a philosopher.
Soon after his arrival in Milan, Augustine was plunged into two crises.
First, his mother arrived from Africa, and persuaded him that he ought to give up his mistress and get married. He agreed to a betrothal to a suitable young lady; but his betrothed was too young for immediate marriage, and so the actual wedding was postponed for two years. Meanwhile the mistress had been sent back to Africa. Augustine, not ready for two years of sexual abstinence, lapsed back into promiscuity.
The second crisis was that Augustine became a neo-Platonist. Plato, as interpreted by his later spokesmen, in particular by Plotinus, taught that only God is fully real, and that all other things are degenerations in varying degrees from the One--things are progressively less good, less spiritual, and less real as one goes rung by rung down the cosmic ladder. By contemplating spiritual realities, directing one's attention first to one's own mind and then moving up the ladder rung by one to the contemplation of God, one acquires true wisdom, true self-fulfilment, true spirituality, and union with God, or the One. Augustine undertook this approach, and believed that he had in fact had an experience of the presence of God, but found that this only made him more aware of the gulf between what he was and what he realized that he ought to be.
Meanwhile, he continued to hear SaintAmbrose. And finally, partly because Ambrose had answers for his questions, partly because he admired Ambrose personally, and chiefly (or so he believed) because God touched his heart, he was converted to Catholicism in 386 and was baptised by Saint Ambrose at Easter of 387. About 12 years later he wrote an account of his life up to a time shortly after his conversion, a book called the Confessions, a highly readable work available in English. Ostensibly an autobiography, it is more an outpouring of penitence and thanksgiving.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine

The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism.
Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine, is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted.
When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan.
In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste.
She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death.
Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his Confessions.

Today is the feast of St. Poemen (Pastor), Hermit

St. Poemen lived in the fourth/fifth century and is sometimes called by the Latin form of his name: Pastor. Together with a few of his brothers, he embraced the eremitical life in the Egyptian desert of Skete in the abandoned temple of Terenuth.
Under Poemen’s rule, during the night the hermits slept for four hours, worked for four hours and chanted the office for four hours. By day they worked until noon, read until three, and did chores for the rest of the time.
Poemen became one of the most famous of the desert fathers, noted for his sayings, such as: “Silence is not a virtue when charity calls for speech” and “A living faith consists in thinking little of self and showing consideration for others.” He died about the year 450.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The five paths of repentance

Good advice from a great Saint. Do you dare follow it????
St John Chrysostom on the temptations of the devil

Shall I list the paths of repentance? There are certainly many of them, many and various, and all of them lead to heaven.
The first path is the path of condemnation of sins. As Isaiah says, Tell your sins, and you will be acquitted. And the Psalmist adds: I said “I will bear witness against myself before the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. So you, too must condemn the sins you have committed. Condemn them, and that condemnation will excuse you in front of the Lord, since whoever condemns the sins he has committed will be slower to commit them next time. Stir up your own conscience to be your accuser – so that when you come before the judgement-seat of the Lord no-one will be rise up to accuse you.
This is the first path of repentance but the second is in no way inferior to it in excellence. It is to forget the harm done to us by our enemies, to master our anger, to forgive the sins of those who are slaves together with us. As much as we do this, so much will our own sins against the Lord be forgiven. So this is the second path to the expiation of our sins. As the Lord says, Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours.
Would you like to know the third path of repentance? It is prayer: fervent prayer, sincere and focused prayer, prayer coming from the depths of the heart.
If you want to know the fourth path, I will tell you it is the giving of alms. It has great power.
And finally, if someone acts with modesty and humility, that path is no less effective as a way to deprive sin of its substance. Look at the publican, who had no good deeds to speak of. In place of good deeds he offered humility, and the huge burden of his sins fell away.
So now I have shown you the five paths of repentance. First, condemnation of sins. Second, forgiving the sins of those near us. Third, prayer. Fourth, almsgiving. Fifth, humility.
So do not be idle, but every day advance along all these paths at once. They are not hard paths to follow. Poverty is no excuse for not setting out on the journey. Even if you are destitute you can do all these things: put aside anger, carry humility in front of you, pray hard, condemn your sins. Poverty is no obstacle – not even to that path of penitence that demands money: that is, almsgiving. Remember the story of the widow’s mite.
Now we have learnt the right way to heal our wounds, let us apply these remedies. Let us regain true health and confidently receive the blessings of Holy Communion. Thus we may come, filled with glory, to the glory of Christ’s kingdom, and receive its eternal joys through the grace, mercy and kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Todays second reading from the Liturgy of the hours is from a homily on the first letter to the Corinthians by St. John Chrysostom, bishop

The weakness of God is stronger than men
It was clear through unlearned men that the cross was persuasive, in fact, it persuaded the whole world. Their discourse was not of unimportant matters but of God and true religion, of the Gospel way of life and future judgement, yet it turned plain, uneducated men into philosophers. How the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and his weakness stronger than men!
In what way is it stronger? It made its way throughout the world and overcame all men; countless men sought to eradicate the very name of the Crucified, but that name flourished and grew ever mightier. Its enemies lost out and perished; the living who waged a war on a dead man proved helpless. Therefore, when a Greek tells me I am dead, he shows only that he is foolish indeed, for I, whom he thinks a fool, turn out to be wiser than those reputed wise. So too, in calling me weak, he but shows that he is weaker still. For the good deeds which tax-collectors and fishermen were able to accomplish by God’s grace, the philosophers, the rulers, the countless multitudes cannot even imagine.
Paul had this in mind when he said: The weakness of God is stronger than men. That the preaching of these men was indeed divine is brought home to us in the same way. For how otherwise could twelve uneducated men, who lived on lakes and rivers and wastelands, get the idea for such an immense enterprise? How could men who perhaps had never been in a city or a public square think of setting out to do battle with the whole world? That they were fearful, timid men, the evangelist makes clear; he did not reject the fact or try to hide their weaknesses. Indeed he turned these into a proof of the truth. What did he say of them? That when Christ was arrested, the others fled, despite all the miracles they had seen, while he who was leader of the others denied him!
How then account for the fact that these men, who in Christ’s lifetime did not stand up to the attacks by the Jews, set forth to do battle with the whole world once Christ was dead – if, as you claim, Christ did not rise and speak to them and rouse their courage? Did they perhaps say to themselves: “What is this? He could not save himself but he will protect us? He did not help himself when he was alive, but now that he is dead he will extend a helping hand to us? In his lifetime he brought no nation under his banner, but by uttering his name we will win over the whole world?” Would it not be wholly irrational even to think such thoughts, much less to act upon them?
It is evident, then, that if they had not seen him risen and had proof of his power, they would not have risked so much.

(It is a good for us all to look back and see what the early church fathers had to say regarding the scriptural and theological areas of the church and which the church still maintains to this day. )

God bless your Monday and may you be filled with the peace of the Lord!


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

This is the second reading from the Liturgy of the hours for this morning and is from a homily by St. Amadeus of Lausanne, bishop
"Observe how fitting it was that even before her assumption the name of Mary shone forth wondrously throughout the world. Her fame spread everywhere even before she was raised above the heavens in her magnificence. Because of the honour due her Son, it was indeed fitting for the Virgin Mother to have first ruled upon earth and then be raised up to heaven in glory. It was fitting that her fame be spread in this world below, so that she might enter the heights of heaven on overwhelming blessedness. Just as she was borne from virtue to virtue by the Spirit of the Lord, she was transported from earthly renown to heavenly brightness.
So it was that she began to taste the fruits of her future reign while still in the flesh. At one moment she withdrew to God in ecstasy; at the next she would bend down to her neighbours with indescribable love. In heaven angels served her, while here on earth she was venerated by the service of men. Gabriel and the angels waited upon her in heaven. The virgin John, rejoicing that the Virgin Mother was entrusted to him at the cross, cared for her with the other apostles here below. The angels rejoiced to see their queen; the apostles rejoiced to see their lady, and both obeyed her with loving devotion.
Dwelling in the loftiest citadel of virtue, like a sea of divine grace or an unfathomable source of love that has everywhere overflowed its banks, she poured forth her bountiful waters on trusting and thirsting souls. Able to preserve both flesh and spirit from death she bestowed health-giving salve on bodies and souls. Has anyone ever come away from her troubled or saddened or ignorant of the heavenly mysteries? Who has not returned to everyday life gladdened and joyful because his request had been granted by the Mother of God?
She is a bride, so gentle and affectionate, and the mother of the only true bridegroom. In her abundant goodness she has channelled the spring of reason’s garden, the well of living and life-giving waters that pour forth in a rushing stream from divine Lebanon and flow down from Mount Zion until they surround the shores of every far-flung nation. With divine assistance she has redirected these waters and made them into streams of peace and pools of grace. Therefore, when the Virgin of virgins was led forth by God and her Son, the King of kings. amid the company of exulting angels and rejoicing archangels, with the heavens ringing with praise, the prophecy of the psalmist was fulfilled, in which he said to the Lord: At your right hand stands the queen, clothed in gold of Ophir"

Friday, August 21, 2009

Short post today. So here is St. Joseph

This picture was ouside my retreat room in the hallway. It was pretty faded and washed out . I tried my best to fix it up with a paint program. It was just so meaningful for me during the retreat. I was probably the only one to see the picture since I was in the end room where it was hanging. How special it is in capturing the real role of Saint Joseph with Jesus.

It is time to treat the sick so I am going to have to close this page today and will let you think about St. Joseph.

God bless you all


Thursday, August 20, 2009

The hermitage chapel

I thought you might like to see some pictures of the Chapel here at Nazareth Hermitage. Above is the Altar. Originally the only item in the chapel was the large wooden cross.

This is a side view of the chapel.

Looking from the other side of the chapel. The painting of Divine Mercy is a gift from a beloved friend who had this painted while stationed in Haiti.

Looking at the rear of the chapel you can see the prayer bench and the Painting of Our Lady Of Guadalupe where I sing the Salve Regina each night. The carpets on the floor were donated by a Gambian friend.

A small shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary with a hanging oil lamp from Turkey, donated by another friend who had been working with USAID in Kosovo.

Small shrine to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Since this is Nazareth Hermitage, it is dedicated to the Holy family and St. Joseph is a wonderful part of the family. What a loving, consecrated, obedient, humble man. St. Joseph is the model for all Brothers and hermits.

Saint Martin de Poores is a special friend and a role model for me as I care of the sick. This small statue is in the rear of the chapel.

I hope you enjoyed these pictures of the chapel. There will be more pictures of the medical work tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Return from the retreat for the religious of the diocese of Banjul

I returned on Monday evening from a wonderful retreat and am still trying to put all my thoughts together and tell you what it was about. Allow me a few days to just savor the experience. I was the only hermit (and the only male) making the retreat. 27 Sisters from various communities were also there and it sure seemed like I was a thorn among the roses. All of the Sisters were so wonderful and we became real brothers and sisters.
The retreat master (I am sure there is another word for that role nowadays but I don't know it) was Father Daniel Kamara, who is also Vicar General for the Diocese of Makeni, Sierra Leone. He is a real scripture scholar and led us on the path of Moses and Paul and applied them to our lives today. It gave me a new way to read the scriptures and the one question we all had is how could we have read the scriptures so many times and missed all those 'nuggets' that Fr. Daniel kept referring to. I know my lectio Divina will begin to change as I pull all that I have learned together and I look forward to sitting at my desk and begin to rewrite my notes.
Our wonderful Bishop Ellison came to the retreat house and celebrated mass on Sunday, spoke to all of us and then left to go home and pack for his trip to Ireland for a well deserved vacation and then he is off to Rome for meetings and will return here in late September.
I brought a camera with me and became so involved in the retreat that it just seemed I couldn't get the time to even take pictures.
I will begin putting more pictures on the blog tomorrow.
I ask your prayers that I may make what I have learned during the retreat a real part of my life.
Pax et Bonum!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Today I will be going on a retreat

I will not be putting anything on the blog for the next ten days as I will be on retreat. This is a time when I can pull away from my normal life of prayer and work and take the full time to listen to the retrat leader speaking on how to come closer to Jesus and also time to read the scriptures and contemplate. Personal time with Jesus is the simplest way to put it. Not very long ago most catholics regardless of their professions or age would set aside a week or a weeked for a retreat at some monastery or retreat house. I don't hear of many folks doing this any more and it is sad because you really miss out on a chance to take stock of your own lives in Christ. Many retreats are just silent or some, maybe two talks a day by a guest speaker and then silent time. Some of my fondest memories are of of the retreats I made. Most often I went with my cousin Edith to a Carmelite (O.Carm) Monastery in Hamilton, MA and one with several of my Air Force mates at New Mellary trappist abbey in Dubuque, Iowa.
Do yourself a favor and plan to make a retreat for yourself. If you are busy, tired or neglecting prayer or if you are totally spiritual. You'll be happy you did this and will be blessed. Even the Lord and his disciples went aside to be alone so they could pray and learn.
God bless you all and I ask your good prayers that this retreat will be life giving.
I will remember all who read this blog in my prayers as well.
Your brother in Jesus, The Divine Mercy,


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Here are some views of Nazareth Hermitage. I thought you might enjoy a quick tour around the property.

There are lots of bananas throughout the property . These are just beginning to ripen.

The Middle hut is a guest hut. If you want to come and pray you will have to 'rough it' There is a bed and indoor plumbing but you have to flush by pouring buckets of well water down the hole. Your bath will be using a bucket of water and a large plastic cup. There is
no electricity at Nazareth thus there is no refrigerator. Breakfast is tea and bread and the main meal is simple rice with dried fish. Supper meal is whatever is left over from the main meal.

Nazareth is pretty secluded but there are plenty of good trails to walk. And you can stop and visit with the wonderful folks in the different villages. You will need to wear 100 % cotton cloth or you will wilt in any synthetic material.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of Nazareth hermitage. This painting was donated by some wonderful friends and it was painted by a Muslim in Kosovo.

More pictures will follow but I am about to go on retreat tomorrow. I hope you enjoy this Blog site and will keep following it. I will be back in 10 day. In the meantime, please pray for me and I will for you.
Remember Jesus is LORD!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

More pictures from Nazareth hermitage and more to come

Some of the medicines and supplies that YOU have all donated. You may note that they are diminishing rather quickly so If you feel the Holy Spirit is prompting you to make any donation at all you can send them to:
Brother Dismas (Nazareth Hermitage)
Catholic Mission
PO Box 165
Banjul, The Gambia
West Africa

If you wish to donate cash, you can simply go on line to Western Union (or many of the shopping centers have Western Union booths) and send your Donation to Brother Dismas, Nazareth Hermitage, Banjul, The Gambia. They will ask you for a question the receiving office will ask me . Please let your question be " who was your favorite teacher. My answer is: Sr. Theresa Mary. Then you need to notify me at once via my e-mail that you have sent a donation via Western Union ( or Money Gram, another money sending company)) and include the code number on your receipt and the amount donated. The donation cannot be picked up without the code number or the amount or the question.
You can e-mail the question and code number to :

All cash donations will be used to purchase medicines and medical supplies that can only be bought locally such as anti malarials, antibiotics, worm medicines and other similar items.
If you are wondering what to send, it is easy to go on line to
and see my wish list which contains a list of some of the medicines and medical supplies that are in demand here. Please note that there are also Life of the saints DVD's and religious books listed . Those are used for teaching the catholics in this and the surrounding villages. There are also items listed for myself, for my personal spiritual growth. The important needs are the medical items but anything else will be gratefully appreciated. To see the wish list, please go to

Thank you for any help you might be able to give. Remember, I can only do the hands on care but I do not have the means to buy the medicines or supplies. This makes makes the caring of these folks your work, as well as mine. I depend on your gracious help......God will certainly bless you for it. Just remember, never donate unless the Holy Spirit leads you to do it. One other thing to remember; you also have to pray to be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Watering the garden the old fashioned way....from the well to the watering can.

Some of the villagers waiting to be treated.

Say Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

More pictures from Nazareth hermitage

This is one way to get the Nazareth hermitage from the village. Actually, this lad brought his donkey for treatment. Poor brother donkey wounded his foot.

As I said life is never dull here and it is full of surprises each day. I like to think that God sends these little surprised just to boost the spirits of this weak hermit.
Above is the blue hermit giving instructions for taking a medicine.

This next picture is the well for the Hermitage. I thank God daily for this convenience as we are able to use it to clean woulds, wash clothes, cook rice and water the gardens. This is our only source of water. I am praying daily for a solar pump along with some water storage tanks and towers to elevate the tanks . What a great garden could be had and woulf help in the goal toward self sufficiency. At the present time I am able to sell the lemons and limes from the hermitage trees as well as the herbs from the garden but it is does not provide enough but than God, it is enough to buy a few boxes of medicine. When I am able to buy many boxes, I am able get a good discount. The hut behind the well contains my cell and another larger room where the Chapel is located. The Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the Chapel which is such a great blessing. I am able to receive the Eucharist daily and have Eucharistic adoration several times a week. If you would like me to remember you in my prayers, send me a note and I will put your prayer request right by the tabernacle. It is a privilege to be able to serve the mystical body in ,y prayers. One thing I ask though; that you also pray for me....

Now I will start adding pictures of those who come here each day. All pictures have approval from the individual or from their parents.

Lots of folks come here with terrible toothache problems which can be temporarily relieved by using orajel (or its equivalent) and then a generic brand of motrin. This young woman came to the hermiage a few months ago.

More to come but I must ring the Angelus and say my prayers.
God grant you all peace!
br. dismas