"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

30-Day Lockdown Retreat Journey: A deepening of my faith and trust in God's promise of eternal love (DAY 9)

La Tour.jpg
By Georges de La Tour - Web Gallery of Art: Image  Info about artwork http://www.magnificat.com/lifeteen/ image,
Public Domain, 

Today is Day 9 of the 30-day whole community retreat journey in light of the lockdown. 

Point Of Departure: Universalis March 2020 Newsletter from Martin Kochanski, founder of Universalis Publishing

For our take off point today, I am re-sending Martin Kochanski's letter. I recommend this site that I have been using even during my seminary days. Universalis.com is my library (I mean it!) when I pray the Office. At the command of my fingertips, I read a lot from resources offered by our Church's Tradition. My favourite is the Spiritual Reading section about the writings of early Church Fathers.

In many parts of the world this is a strange and disturbing time. Everyone’s situation is different, everyone’s needs are different. It is impossible to say the right thing to everyone (or even to anyone) in a newsletter that is sent out to thousands of anonymous addresses. But let me say two things.

First, at a time when populations are being epidemiologically added, multiplied, counted, almost (it seems) weighed, remember that you are not “1.0 units of population”. You are a person called into being uniquely by God because without you, the masterwork of Creation in all its splendour would have had something missing.

Second, you have been anointed a priest, and anointed a prophet, and anointed a king. It took place a long time ago at your baptism and you were probably not paying attention, but it did happen and now is the time to live those anointings.

As priest, you can open yourself to those you come across, and bear witness to the infinite value of their being and to the love of God for them. You can be there for them and with them, you can be quiet together, or even listen. There is nothing like an open heart and a safe pair of ears.

As prophet, your voice must not be embarrassed to tell of the wonders of the Lord. Do not keep the truth of your faith secret for fear of derision. As long as people do not feel they are being preached at, you will find them remarkably tolerant. Do not expect the seed to grow before your eyes – that is God’s job done in God’s time – but, at least, do sow and scatter it.

As king – to see how to live your anointing, see first what a king is. Think of a gardener who is at the service of his plants and his crops, which he feeds and weeds and waters; then think of a king who at the service of everybody, keeping them safe and orderly free from want. The gardener serves whoever owns the garden; the king serves whoever owns the universe. Whoever and wherever you are, you are in some sense king of something. And we are all of us servants of each other. The more we do it, the easier it becomes. (Continued at the bottom of page)

Martin Kochanski

Grace To Beg For: To ask for what I desire... a deepening of my faith in God's promise of eternal love.

Word Of God: (See full texts below from universalis.com)

1. John 4:43-54 (Jesus promises to heal the son of a royal official... and Jesus fulfils it. The royal official believed when Jesus told him "You may go; your son will live." Strengthened by the miracle, the official brought his entire household to believe in his newfound faith.)

2. Isaiah 65:17-21 (The Gospel talks about Jesus' promise to the royal official. In Isaiah, we have a picture of that promise of our God.)

Guided Meditation: (Allot 15 minutes for this exercise. It is important to enlarge the painting above to full screen on your device. Imagine you are at an art gallery and a painting catches your attention and speaks to you. "Stop. Look. Listen.")

Introduction: If Lectio Divina is listening with heart's ears Visio Divina is seeing with heart's eyes. I suggest the image of Joseph The Carpenter with child Jesus by Georges de La Tour, created in 1642. In my experience of La Tour's paintings, it is always a moving experience to behold a La Tour. The experience is like looking at the sunset; your eyes are glued to the dimming sun. Take a seat and quietly gaze and marvel at this masterpiece by someone who went through what we are experiencing now. Ten years after the creation of Joseph The Carpenter, Georges de La Tour and his family died in an epidemic in Lunéville.

Guided Meditation Proper:

Imagine the darkness around the light. Does it evoke any feeling about the darkness that currently surrounds our common home? Focus as well on your breathing and the quiet. Feel in your body the reverential silence entering into your eyes which this image evokes. You are a spectator of this moment happening now before your eyes. Give thanks to God briefly.

Move your attention towards the candle light which is partly covered by Jesus' left hand. Imagine a glowing fire behind the palm. Feel in your eyes the warm-white light emanating. Try to feel it too in your own palm. Did you notice the fingernails of Jesus? Jesus has dirty fingernails. Look closely... that is expected from an obedient son who was helping his foster father with the work.

Notice the straight flame from the candle light. Feel that it is evoking deep peace and serenity. It only means that even the breath of a busy carpenter is so gentle that the light is unperturbed.

At this point, imagine yourself coming close to the light source. Make a gesture of moving as if you would like to have a closer look; notice a movement away from the darkness and cast shadows that you find in your surroundings towards the glowing lighted face of Jesus. Just go back to the candle light any moment when you become distracted. The candle light leads you where to look. The nearest surface that absorbs most of the light is Jesus' face. Look at that face. Notice and relish the beautiful sight of a smile that he gives to his foster father eye to eye.

At this point, you make your prayer to Jesus by telling him quietly your heart's desires. Imagine Jesus turning his gaze towards you.

Listen to Jesus to what he might say to you. Use the Psalmist words as Jesus' message, "Be still and know that I am God." (Ps. 46:10) End your meditation with an Our Father.

(Bring with you this painting by using it as a wallpaper on your mobile or tablet.)

Questions Or Considerations To Ponder:

I found the following prayers e.g. O Lord, I Believe; Help Thou My Unbelief by Bernard, SSF; My God, I Love Thee by St. Francis Xavier; and Let Nothing Disturb You by St. Teresa of Avila, which you can use especially when moments come when you do not know exactly what to say in prayer. The Word of God serves always as the main spiritual nourishment. Treat the following prayers as additives to contemplating God's Living Word.

1. O Lord, I Believe; Help Thou My Unbelief

Lord, I want to love you, yet I'm not sure.
I want to trust you, yet I'm afraid of being taken in.
I know I need you, yet I'm ashamed of the need.
I want to pray, yet I'm afraid of being a hypocrite.
I need my independence, yet I fear to be alone.
I want to belong, yet I must be myself.
Take me, Lord, yet leave me alone.
Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief.
O Lord, if you are there, you do understand, don't you?
Give me what I need but leave me free to choose.
Help me work it out my own way, but don't let me go.
Let me understand myself, but don't let me despair.
Come unto me, O Lord--I want you there.
Lighten my darkness – but don't dazzle me.
Help me to see what I need to do and give me strength to do it.
O Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief.

Brother Bernard, SSF (Society of St. Francis), 1929-2007

2. My God, I Love Thee (From the Latin by Edward Caswall)

My God, I love thee! not because
I hope for heaven thereby;
Nor yet because who love Thee not
Must burn eternally.

Thou, O my Jesus, thou didst me
Upon the cross embrace!
For me, didst bear the nails and spear,
And manifold disgrace.

And griefs and torments numberless,
And sweat of agony,
Yea, death itself – and all for one
That was thine enemy.

Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ,
Should I not love thee well?
Not for the hope of winning heaven,
Nor of escaping hell;

Not with the hope of gaining aught,
Not seeking a reward;
But as thyself hast loved me,
O everlasting Lord!

E'en so I love thee, and will love,
And in thy praise will sing – 
Solely because thou art my God,
And my eternal King. Amen.

St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552) was one of the original companions of St. Ignatius of Loyola. He spent his life as a missionary in India and Japan.

3. Let Nothing Disturb You

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) wrote this beautiful poem that has been used as a prayer throughout the centuries. Many turn to it in times of distress. People who are feeling afraid or anxious right now, consider praying this prayer. You have the liberty to add your own words, invoking God’s help in your hour of need.

Prayer Requests:
You can email request for prayers for the dead (Name—RIPusing 8thworkermercy@bloggercom—there is a DOT between 8thworker and mercy. It is restricted so that only me as blog author can read it. Others will NOT be able to read any email; instead they will get a message stating that this is private. We will offer your intentions during our regular 6:30AM Masses in our community of Jesuit priests and novices.

P.S. Feel free also to include the names of all who are sick (Name—Get well soon).

Fr. JM Manzano, SJ

John 4:43-54

Go, your son will live.

At that time Jesus left [Samaria] for Galilee. For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his native place. When he came into Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, since they had seen all he had done in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves had gone to the feast.
  Then he returned to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. Now there was a royal official whose son was ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, who was near death. Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” The royal official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “You may go; your son will live.” The man believed what Jesus said to him and left. While the man was on his way back, his slaves met him and told him that his boy would live. He asked them when he began to recover. They told him, “The fever left him yesterday, about one in the afternoon.” The father realized that just at that time Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live,” and he and his whole household came to believe. Now this was the second sign Jesus did when he came to Galilee from Judea.

Isaiah 65:17-21 ·

No longer shall the sound of weeping or the sound of crying be heard.

Thus says the Lord:
Lo, I am about to create new heavens
  and a new earth;
The things of the past shall not be remembered
  or come to mind.
Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness
  in what I create;
For I create Jerusalem to be a joy
  and its people to be a delight;
I will rejoice in Jerusalem
  and exult in my people.
No longer shall the sound of weeping be heard there,
  or the sound of crying;
No longer shall there be in it
  an infant who lives but a few days,
  or an old man who does not round out his full lifetime;
He dies a mere youth who reaches but a hundred years,
  and he who fails of a hundred shall be thought accursed.
They shall live in the houses they build,
  and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant.

(From Universalis Newsletter March 2020)

When you can’t get to Mass

Someone told me today that she finds it oddly disquieting, when Sunday morning comes round and she is not planning to go to Mass because she never does, to find there is no Mass to go to! Of course if you are in the habit, it is more disquieting still. So please remember that the Mass readings are always there in Universalis – go to universalis.com to find them, and tell all your friends to do the same.

Prayer resources

The pattern of many people’s days has been turned upside down and inside out, with complete rearrangements in terms of both time and place. A structured prayer life help to give time back its shape; but don’t bite off more than you can chew. What about Lauds (Morning Prayer) in the morning and Compline (Night Prayer) last thing at night?

If you have the Universalis app, you can also pray the Rosary, and listen to it as well (the recording was made by the pupils and monastic community at Downside).

Sometimes, in times of stress, it is hard to “let go” enough to be able to pray. In that case, you will find that the Spiritual Reading page in the Universalis app is not liturgical at all: it is simply daily teachings and reflections of wise and holy people from every period in history. Try it.

Parish web sites

Some parishes have been in touch asking if they can use our pages to give Mass readings to their parishioners. Our page about this is here.

Lent in Isolation

The people who did the Newman Canonisation web site last year have come up with Lent in Isolation, a more active kind of spiritual resource for people who cannot go out to church. It is only just starting, but have a look at it.

News about Universalis

There are some more instructional videos on how to use the Universalis apps on Android and iPhone/iPad, and you will find them in the apps themselves: tap the screen, go to the Information menu, and you will see a command labelled “Video Instructions”.
Since more of you may be thinking of listening to the Hours or the Mass readings, we have adjusted the subscriptions so that they all give you an introductory free month for trying them out and getting into the habit. universalis.com has the details.

Just in time for this newsletter, one of our users, Adrienne Chalmers, has produced audio instructions for blind people who want to use Universalis with VoiceOver on the iPhone. In her first recording she concentrates on getting into the app and going to the Rosary page. The instructions can be found as part of the blog post at https://universalis.wordpress.com/2020/03/22/praying-the-rosary/

Thank you all for using Universalis. If you have trouble or questions, or suggestions, do write to us at universalis@universalis.com or use the Contact Us button in one of the apps. Don't reply directly to the email this newsletter came in unless you really want to stop getting the newsletter! Let us all keep one another in our prayers, as always.

Martin Kochanski
Founder of Universalis Publishing


  1. Thank you father in this guided meditation.. feeling blessed.

  2. Thank you very much for all materials you gave on this post. Vissio Divina is new to me and I’m happy to be guided by the following material. 😊


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