kelly wahlquist

Catholic Evangelist & Speaker

Kelly Wahlquist is a dynamic and inspiring Catholic speaker whose gift of weaving personal stories and Scripture together with practical advice allows her audience to enter more fully into what Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict have called us into - to be witnesses of our faith and part of the New Evangelization.

Agony in the Garden

Lately, I have found great graces praying Sacred Scripture while meditating on some of the beautiful artwork of the Vatican. In essence, every Saturday these past few months, we have combined Lectio Divina and Visio Divina as we walked "The Way of Beauty" with Fr. Mark Haydu. This coming Saturday is Holy Saturday and as such, I will not be posting a Visio Divina, but rather leave the day to meditating at the Lord's tomb on his death and suffering. With that in mind, on this Holy Thursday, I added one more aspect to our Lectio and Visio Divina... music.

Below is a beautiful combination that has helped me prepare to enter into the Triduum and I invite you to join me. The song is one of my favorites and is written and performed by my good friend, Danielle Rose. The artwork is by a young man I do not know personally, but who I thank for using his gift to draw me deeper into prayer. His name is Adam Abram.

Have a very blessed Triduum friends.

In Christ,

Kelly

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The Way of Beauty

ANNUNCIATION

THEME: The Incarnation

FOCUS OF THE MEDITATION: God's love for us is infinite. Jesus became human, a newborn babe, in order to open the path to heaven for us. The Word became flesh and dwells among us. May we come to appreciate the humble love of Jesus, who took on flesh to carry us to God. 

 

Federico Fiori (known as Barocci)

Vatican Museums’ Pinacoteca

1582-1584

"Now we begin to focus our meditation on the concrete events in the life of Christ and the Holy Family. Learn to contemplate these events as if you are physically present in the Gospel narrative.”

"The Annunciation is one of the richest and most decisive moments of God's action in salvation history, for this is the moment we are first told of the Incarnation—the Word became flesh."

"Barocci portrays the angel kneeling before the Virgin, signifying God's humility. Gabriel is one of the most powerful angels in heaven. This is the messenger whom God selected to deliver the most critical word to God's people through Mary of Nazareth."

"Notice the angel's pose—as a lover proposing to his beloved, or a knight before a maiden. The divine emissary genuflects in an imploring and respectful gesture."

"See how Mary steps back in uncertainty, with her two hands held up, steadying her as she prepares to respond to the will of God. She takes a moment before responding, with her hands opened as if to form a window into her heart."

"In the silence of Mary's heart, God's plan took shape. For no one knew God's plan when it was revealed to Mary. Yet her response sealed our common destinies: Fiat mini secundum verbum tumum. Be it done unto me according to thy word."

 

SCRIPTURE MEDITATION

Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

And he came to her and said, "Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!"

But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.

And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end."

And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?"

And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible."

And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

 

PRAYER AND REFLECTION

"Spend time with the Scripture reading that began this meditation. Enter the scene in Nazareth, exploring your senses as you watch the annunciation unfold. Tune in to the voice of God as you meditate upon this Momentous event in salvation history."

The comments above are taken from Meditations on Vatican Art by Fr. Mark Haydu. To truly enter into this Visio Divina, I suggest purchasing the book as each masterpiece comes with a complete description, prayer and reflection, and spiritual exercise.

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The Way of Beauty

CHRIST THE REDEEMER

THEME: Christ the Redeemer

FOCUS OF THE MEDITATION: We will become aware that the invitation to follow Christ is both an honor and a privilege. We begin by attempting to understand our Lord and king in relationship to us, but soon realize the life Jesus offers is filled with joy in abundance.


Antonio Allegrri (known as Correggio)

Vatican Museums’ Pinacoteca

1523-1524

"This painting is entirely Christ-centered, and so our meditation and Scripture passage will likewise direct our attention to focus solely on Jesus Seated on a throne of clouds, Jesus dominates the artwork, placed dramatically in the center of Correggio's composition.”

"Notice the aura around Christ with angelic faces dreamily mixed together in the surrounding cloud."

"See in our image how Jesus is set apart in solar yellows and gold that fade into fleshy pinks as if to trick our eyes to regard these cherubs as roses crowning the Lord of heavenly hosts."

"As we meditate here on Christ the Redeemer, St. Ignatius invites us to ask ourselves some fundamental questions about this person who looks back at us as we gaze upon him. The Lord spoke to Pilate about his reign, challenging him to see beyond his limited scope."

"Have you turned your anxious questions over to Jesus, the Redeemer? What hinders you from fully trusting in the Lord?"

"Jesus' teaching has affect the world like no other, yet he wants to speak to you. Spend time in prayer enraptured by Jesus' beauty and moral integrity."

 

SCRIPTURE MEDITATION

John 18:33-37

Pilate entered the praetorium again and called Jesus, and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?”

Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?”

Jesus answered, “My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.”

Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.”

 

PRAYER AND REFLECTION

"Look upon the image of Christ the Redeemer. How will you lean upon the Lord today, entrusting him to work for your good? What pieces of your life need Christ the Redeemer?"

The comments above are taken from Meditations on Vatican Art by Fr. Mark Haydu. To truly enter into this Visio Divina, I suggest purchasing the book as each masterpiece comes with a complete description, prayer and reflection, and spiritual exercise.

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The Way of Beauty

THE TRANSFIGURATION

THEME: Being instruments of divine mercy

FOCUS OF THE MEDITATION: After meditating on the last things and our response to God, we shall now consider how God continues to deepen our lives in him. This prayer will help us grow in faith by trusting in God’s power as we attempt to live it with greater love throughout our days.

 

 

Raphael Sanzio

Vatican Museums’ Pinacoteca

Circa 1518

"Raphael’s unique The Transfiguration depicts two stories from the Gospel of Matthew: (1) (above) the Transfiguration, with Christ glorified between the prophets Moses and Elijah, (2) (below) the apostle encountering the possess youth in the foreground.”

"The spiritual life is rich in contrasts—human and divine, grace and nature, sin and mercy."

"Two registers compose the artwork. Atop we have the heavenly glory of Christ enveloped in a magnificent aura of divine light, symbolizing Jesus' full Sonship. Transcendent experience leaves the disciples prostrate while two Old Testament figures, Moses and Elijah, are seen floating in suspended adoration. The remaining apostles are seen below, ineffectively dealing with a possessed boy."

"As we tune into our spiritual lives, we will also notice a contrast. We feel a call to the beauty of God's life, desiring wholeheartedly to follow the Lord day by day. But we also know that when we come down from the mountain into our daily lives, we struggle with confusion, temptation, and earthly concerns."

"Moments of glory or enlightenment elevate our spirits, but frequently we are called to enter the struggle of our daily lives. So faith and love, strengthened through prayer, are most needed in our everyday moments, experiences that can sometime be wrought with darkness. Yet our Lord lets us glimpse his glory so we might know how to follow him to the cross."

 

SCRIPTURE MEDITATION

Luke 9:28-43

"Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.  

And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white. And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Eli'jah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem.

Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.

And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli'jah" --not knowing what he said.

As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!"

And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him.  And behold, a man from the crowd cried, "Teacher, I beg you to look upon my son, for he is my only child; and behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; it convulses him till he foams, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him.

And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not." Jesus answered, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here."

While he was coming, the demon tore him and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father.

 And all were astonished at the majesty of God."

 

PRAYER AND REFLECTION

"It is possible that the disciples tried many times to heal the boy, yet their faith was lacking. Faith is a gift from God, but we must nourish it so it will grow. What act of faith will you enact through prayer today?"

The comments above are taken from Meditations on Vatican Art by Fr. Mark Haydu. To truly enter into this Visio Divina, I suggest purchasing the book as each masterpiece comes with a complete description, prayer and reflection, and spiritual exercise.

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Our Lady of Sorrows

The novena to Our Lady of Sorrows is a beautiful prayer in which we ask, through Our Lady, to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit and to grow in virtue.

I was honored to speak this morning at the Church of the Epiphany for the Women's Lenten Retreat, and was blessed to meet many beautiful and inspiring women. As promised ladies, here is a little summary of  the conclusion of our time together and the handout.

How do we maintain the courage to live our “unexpected” lives as faithful women?

We look to the one who is the perfect example of courage from the moment she is told that God has a plan for her and it will radically change her life... and the lives of all humanity, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

From the moment of the Annunciation on she lived with the greatest courage, because she lived with the greatest love. I believe we learn from and are nurtured in our virtue of courage by entering with her into that which embodies the greatest courage ever exhibited in one of God creatures—Mary's Seven Sorrows.

"One cannot love without suffering or suffer without loving." St. Gianna

The key to understanding Mary’s courage is to understand her seven sorrows. Through the seven sorrows comes the realization that God does not spare us from pain. Our pain, however, can co-exist with God's peace and God can use our pain to draw us closer to him. To succeed in this, we must learn from Our Lady of Sorrows how to have the courage to open our hearts to God's will. If we close our hearts to His will and cling to our own understanding, we carry not only the original pain, but we also lack the peace of surrender. This tends to lead to live in the valley of vice: anger, self-pity, and despair.

Whatever pain or trials enter your life, look to Our Lady. She has experienced all and through every experience, she constantly believed in and lived the will of God.

Click here for the handout -> Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Novena

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The Way of Beauty

The Last Judgment

THEME: The final judgment

FOCUS OF THE MEDITATION: Our judgment has yet to come. With realism and faith, this meditation will help us consider our thoughts, words, and actions through our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord will assist us, if we will him to do so, to align our will to that of our heavenly Father and to choose Christ with greater dedication and love.

Michelangelo Buonarroti

Sistine Chapel altar wall

1536-1541

"The fresco The Last Judgment is an artistic rendering of the end times located on the altar wall in the Sistine Chapel. Jesus Christ is the centerfold of this composition, the whole vortex of movement toward whom some 400 figures are connected."

"It stands as a reminder to all of the dramatic moment when Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead, for the Father has given all authority to the Son (John 5:22)."

"Notice the upper register of the fresco where Michelangelo has placed the symbol of Christ's passion to emphasize Jesus' victory, to be shared with Christians of all times. His loving sacrifice earned him the authority to judge the living and the dead, for Christ is the Just Judge."

"Acting with love by imaging Christ is the best preparation for a blessed final judgment. It is also the way to know true joy in this life. Jesus tells the faithful, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world'" (Matthew 25:34).

"Our Lord will also search our hearts for faith. Do we believe that Christ can and will heal us from our afflictions, our sins?"

 

SCRIPTURE MEDITATION

Matthew 25:31-46

"When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.  Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.

Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;  for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'

Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?

And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee?

And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?'

And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'

Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,  I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 44 Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?'

Then he will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.'

 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

 

PRAYER AND REFLECTION

"Christ has come that we might all have eternal life in God. Say a prayer of thanksgiving for the life that God offers you, asking the Lord to enlighten your heart and mind, opening you to eternal things."

The comments above are taken from Meditations on Vatican Art by Fr. Mark Haydu. To truly enter into this Visio Divina, I suggest purchasing the book as each masterpiece comes with a complete description, prayer and reflection, and spiritual exercise.

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The Way of Beauty

Lament Over the Dead Christ

THEME: Death

FOCUS OF THE MEDITATION: As we consider the end of our earthly journey in the light of faith, we come recognizing that death is not the end but our passage to God—our eternal reward. This moment of truth awaits every person at death. And death ought to be a welcome guest for those who have been faithful to God.

Giovanni Bellini

Vatican Museum's Pinacoteca

Circa 1473-1476

"Bellini gathers his figures around the body of the dead Christ. Viewers look up to regard the mournful faces of Mary Magdalene, Nicodemus, and Joseph of Arimathea, whose presences fill this solemn composition. The action of this high piece highlights the sorrowful tone of Jesus' death while at the same time magnifying the intimate relationships that exist between each character and Jesus."

"In Mary Magdalene we can view ourselves in God. She was set free from her old life through the words of Jesus, and she did not turn back but stayed faithful to the end. 

"Next we encounter Joseph of Arimathea, a good and just man and secret believer in Christ. Jesus' death challenged Joseph, inspiring him to profess his faith openly. Do you follow Jesus in secret? How might you allow Christ's light to shine through you for others?"

"Finally, we encounter Nicodemus, dressed in red. The Pharisee who came by night to visit Jesus (John 3:1-21) is now bathed in light as he supports the corpse of Christ. Jesus invited him him to become like a little child, born again by water and the Spirit in order to enter the kingdom of heaven (John 3:1-13)."

"So often we feel we are doing the bulk of the work, when in fact it is always Jesus who is lifting us up, gracing us with new life."

 

SCRIPTURE MEDITATION

2 Corinthians 5:1-9

Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the offering for the saints, for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedo'nia, saying that Acha'ia has been ready since last year; and your zeal has stirred up most of them.

But I am sending the brethren so that our boasting about you may not prove vain in this case, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be; lest if some Macedo'nians come with me and find that you are not ready, we be humiliated--to say nothing of you--for being so confident.  

So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren to go on to you before me, and arrange in advance for this gift you have promised, so that it may be ready not as an exaction but as a willing gift.

The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work.

As it is written, "He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever."

 

PRAYER AND REFLECTION

"Read a passage from the Gospel that recalls the death of Jesus. How does Jesus' death and the events that surround it help you understand your own pending death?"

 

The comments above are taken from Meditations on Vatican Art by Fr. Mark Haydu. To truly enter into this Visio Divina, I suggest purchasing the book as each masterpiece comes with a complete description, prayer and reflection, and spiritual exercise.

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The Way of Beauty

THE EMBRACE

THEME: Love is born of repentance

FOCUS OF THE MEDITATION: God does not look for our condemnation but our salvation. The Lord seeks to be eternally united to us. May we seek to feel this love and resolve to avoid the near occasion of sin.

the_embrace_pedro_cano.jpg

Pedro Cano

Pope John Paul II is depicted embracing Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski

Contemporary Art Collections

1980

"The Embrace is a powerful image that accentuates paternal love and union. The painting recollects the moment when Pope John Paul II, at the Mass of installation to the papacy, embraced his mentor and lifelong friend, Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski."

"Previous meditations have focused on our sin and the effects it has on our relationship with God. Like the prodigal son, we often spend the good gifts that we have received on our selfish desires."

"Since we have had our own way and used our freedom as we wished, we are left with our own brokenness. These moments are graced by God as well, for in these moments of heartache and pain, we begin to long for the healing embrace."

"We all search for love, forgiveness, and strength that cannot be found in our own wills. It is our longing to be more faithful rather than constantly needing to turn to God for mercy. Yet God takes pleasure in being the rock we grasp for strength."

"The Lord is happy to lift us up and save us from the trials of this life, a Father who desires and rejoices when we call on him for assistance."

 

SCRIPTURE MEDITATION

Luke 15:11-24

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons.

The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.

After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.

So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.

He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!

I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.

I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.

For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

 

PRAYER AND REFLECTION

"Jesus, you do not look to condemn any of your children but desire to blot out their offenses and be in full communion with each of us. Help us not to dwell on our weakness but on your infinite love for us. Amen."

"What moments have blocked you from God's love? List ways that will rekindle your relationship with the Lord."

 

The comments above are taken from Meditations on Vatican Art by Fr. Mark Haydu. To truly enter into this Visio Divina, I suggest purchasing the book as each masterpiece comes with a complete description, prayer and reflection, and spiritual exercise.

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Soup & Stories

My friend Lisa Schmidt over at ThePracticing Catholic.com had a brilliant idea! For Lent she is having different bloggers post various soup recipes with a little story to accompany the recipe. I was blessed to be the first Soup & Stories feature. Be sure to check out her site and follow along this Lent. It's a great way to build your recipe box!

Here's my post on ThePracticing Catholic, titled by Lisa as The Joy of Gazpacho

KellyWahlquistJPII-695x1024.jpeg

Barefoot Confession up front. I am neither Italian nor a countess, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking I can cook like the Barefoot Contessa. (At least I got the barefoot part down. Well, in the summer anyway!)

I really do love to cook. In fact, it is one of the ways I relax after a long day of working in the vineyard of the Lord. There’s something I just love about creating a dish that will bring a smile to the faces, and tummies, of my family. And truth be told, for me, there is something extremely peaceful about cooking with wine. (Couldn’t pass up a vino comment after talking about working in the vineyard! For, as Hilaire Belloc says, “Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, there’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!”)

This past winter has been a tough one, even for us hardy Minnesotans. So, after weeks of freezing and trying to warm myself by eating stew, and chili, and yummy comforting pot roasts and soups, I decided to stick it to winter. Two can play this game old man! You want to throw ice and ridiculous sub-zero temps at me to make me cower? Well, you’ve met your match! Albeit, I may be a wee bit cold of a match, but I will fight fire with fire … or… um, in this case, I will fight freezing with …

Cold Soup.

While stew, chili, and pot roast are nice warming provisions for the moment, gazpacho eternally conjures up memories of lazy hot summer nights. And the way I see it, for Lent this is a win-win.

First, when eating this chilled soup we instantly look forward to those days of warmer weather — ah, we have hope — we can feel spring around the corner and we know the summer sun will soon shine upon us. So in my little analogy here, gazpacho is like a little fore-taste of the light and joy of the Resurrection during a cold dark winter. (Bet you never looked at this ancient Spanish, chilled, tomato-based soup as a symbol of the Resurrection before?)

During Lent our attention is on repenting of our sins and rekindling with Christ so we can rejoice in the Resurrection! Thus, as we go through Lent aware of our mortality, we do so with our eyes and hearts set on our eternal life. As you eat your gazpacho this Lenten season, may it conjure up memories of the springtime — the new life — that awaits us, both in our lives on earth and in the Resurrection.

And here’s the second “win” in the win-win scenario. It’s meatless! Add a nice rosemary olive oil bread and a parmesan arugula salad and you got a Friday night meal!

Barefoot Contessa Gazpacho (download printable copy here)

Serves 8-10

2 hothouse cucumbers, halved and seeded, but not peeled

3 red bell peppers, cored and seeded

8 plum tomatoes

2 red onions

6 garlic cloves

46 OUNCES tomato juice (6 cups)

1/2 CUP white wine vinegar

1/2 CUP good olive oil

1 TABLESPOON kosher salt

1 1/2 TEASPOONS freshly ground black pepper

Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and res onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not over process!

After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer the gazpacho sits, the more flavors it develops.

Serve chilled. And don’t be afraid to do so in sub-zero temps!

Read more Soup & Stories entries here.

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THE WAY OF BEAUTY

The Sinner

THEME: Individual sin

FOCUS OF THE MEDITATION: The following meditation will help us to own our role in the world's brokenness. We have inherited a broken world, yet sometimes we add to the repugnance that exists around and within us. Destructive behavior keeps us from knowing the full love of our heavenly Father. Here we will attempt to become more aware of ourselves in relation to the world's plan.

Michelangelo LJ Damned.jpg

Michelangelo Buonarroti

Sistine Chapel altar wall

Circa 1536

"It is never particularly enjoyable to meditate on the reality of sin, yet we reap bountiful fruit in our souls when we regard ourselves in the light of God."

"The only figure in The Last Judgement scene that breaks the visual plane and looks out at the viewer is the penseroso (contemplative man)."

"Still, this character remains a mystery, both removed and yet staring intimately at every individual viewer, inviting us to understand this important reality that will be for all. He is depicted in a moment of realization, with toned muscles clenched in fear. This is the moment of judgment, the moment when we become fully aware of ourselves as sinner's in Christ's light."

"No pay heed to the grayish figure who wraps his strong arms around the shins of the sinner, keeping him from walking freely. The action here can be likened to the temptations offered by the world. Recall the parable from the Gospel of Matthew that compares us to seeds sown in the ground. The seed of God is sown in the world, but often the world houses other plans that arise and choke our growth toward virtue."

"By choosing sin in our lives, we deviate from our true end—God."

"Though God always desires to move in our souls, our choices can deter God's action. We must repent, ask God's pardon, open ourselves to the Lord's aid, and freely receive from the fount of mercy that is being extended to us by our Lord Jesus Christ." 

 

SCRIPTURE MEDITATION

Matthew 13:24-30; 37-42

 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.

But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.

When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

“‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

“‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them.

Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.

The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.

They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

 

PRAYER AND REFLECTION

"A simple definition of sin is a refusal to love. Even in our weaknesses, our refusal to love is the root cause of our fall. Recall your struggles and weaknesses today, asking God to ignite your heart with love for others so you might stop separating yourself from the people of God."

 

The comments above are taken from Meditations on Vatican Art by Fr. Mark Haydu. To truly enter into this Visio Divina, I suggest purchasing the book as each masterpiece comes with a complete description, prayer and reflection, and spiritual exercise.

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The Way of Beauty

ORIGINAL SIN AND BANISHMENT FROM THE GARDEN OF EDEN

THEME: ORIGINAL SIN

FOCUS OF THE MEDITATION: God wills the supreme good for our lives and always acts in our favor. Our resistance to God's will is due to sin, which stems from a lack of trust in him and breaks our communication with the Lord. This meditation will help us further understand sin so we might fully trust God to bring us to our eternal home.

michelangelo-the-fall-and-expulsion-of-adam-and-eve-sistine-chapel.jpg

Michelangelo Buonarroti

Sistine Chapel ceiling

Circa 1511

"God created all things for good, including the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. The prohibition of eating from that tree was a call for humanity to trust in God's love and goodness. By denying that fruit, he was not hiding good, but saving them from poison."

"Michelangelo depicts the effects of sin in this same fresco. Holding a rod of chastisement, God (or an angel) banishes Adam and Eve from the garden into the barren wasteland. Human beings are no longer the strong, robust creatures they were before sin corrupted them. Here they are hunched over, shamed, and saddened by their fall. And since the evil one promises only lies, he departs, leaving our first parents with nothing other than the knowledge they had indeed been duped and fallen."

 

SCRIPTURE MEDITATION

Genesis 3:1-13

Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?”

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

The man said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I ate.”

PRAYER AND REFLECTION

"Adam and Eve knew God's command, yet they doubted. Have you doubted God's love for you of late? Name a few faith exercises that will help you trust the Lord more fully. How might you use these exercises to develop a richer prayer life, that is, your lifeline to God?"

 

The comments above are taken from Meditations on Vatican Art by Fr. Mark Haydu. To truly enter into this Visio Divina, I suggest purchasing the book as each masterpiece comes with a complete description, prayer and reflection, and spiritual exercise.

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Time to Bombard the Heavens!

Help! I Need A Flying Novena to Fly to Memphis 

When Blessed Mother Teresa needed extra graces, and needed them fast, she would pray a Flying Novena. Turns out, I could use some extra graces to get me to the Women's Morning of Spirituality in Memphis.

Picture Title: Walking in Metuchen on a Snowy Day

Picture Title: Walking in Metuchen on a Snowy Day

Now, when I first heard of this notion of a Flying Novena, I was excited for two reasons. Number one, I love Blessed Mother Teresa. Two years ago she was my patron saint for the year and as I look back, it was one of the most spiritual years for me and oddly—though not to Mother Teresa—it was a year in which I spread the message of consecration to Jesus through Mary around the country. Number two, it's a perfect novena for busy person, because it is quick and simple!

Blessed Mother Teresa's Flying Novena consisted of nine Memorares in a row, and then get this—she'd add a tenth one in thanksgiving for the intention she KNEW the Blessed Mother would lay before her Son and her Son would answer. So cool!

On Friday, I am heading to Memphis for the Women's Morning of Spirituality, where they are expecting 1,200 women coming together to praise the Lord, rejoice in their gifts as women and grow in their faith. That means, I get to leave the frozen tundra of Minnesota for the balmy temps of Memphis, but there appears to be a little caveat—they just predicted 12 inches of snow would cover Minneapolis this afternoon. Therefore, I'm inviting you to join me in a Flying Novena.

So, as the skies begin to bombard us with snowflakes, let us bombard the heavens with prayer!

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Amen.

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THE WAY OF BEAUTY

THE SACRIFICE OF ISAAC

THEME: TIME AND OTHER CREATURES

FOCUS OF THE MEDITATION: All creatures form the least to the greatest belong to God, yet God is the only absolute. Reverence for creatures can lead us closer to the Lord

Isaac.JPG

Ludovico Carracci

Vatican Museums' Pinacoteca

Circa 1586

"All the drama and contradiction of the heroic event recorded in the book of Genesis on The Sacrifice of Isaac gets concentrated here into this painting by Ludovico Carracci. Both in the story and with this painting, Abraham is regarded as a strong figure."

"Notice how Abraham is looking upward, his gaze focused on God. Even though his grief must have been great as it reflected his love for his own son, Abraham did not turn toward creatures, but to the Lord. Like our father of faith, we need to look to the Lord in order to clearly see the things of the earth."

"We must be willing to submit our plans to the Lord, even when we are asked to give up our most cherished creatures and loves in order to follow God's path."

SCRIPTURE MEDITATION

Genesis 22:1-19

After these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” 

He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Mori′ah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; and he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off.

Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the ass; I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.”

And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together.

And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here am I, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.

Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”

And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.

So Abraham called the name of that place The Lord will provide;[a] as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”

So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beer-sheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beer-sheba.

 

PRAYER AND REFLECTION

"Who or what do you treasure most in your life? Have there been moments when God has called you to loosen your grip pin earthly treasures in order to embrace divine goodness?"

 

The comments above are taken from Meditations on Vatican Art by Fr. Mark Haydu. To truly enter into this Visio Divina, I suggest purchasing the book as each masterpiece comes with a complete description, prayer and reflection, and spiritual exercise.

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The Way of Beauty

ADAM AND EVE IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN

THEME: We are stewards of creation

FOCUS OF THE MEDITATION: In the Garden, God named out firsts parents as stewards of creation. Though beings made in the image and likeness of our Creator, we are yet creatures among creatures. We are to love God above all creation, but we may do so likewise through our care for the animals and the earth in its proper order. A profound acceptance is necessary, as we are to love the earth and all it contains in relationship to God.

AdamandEve.jpeg

Peter Wenzel

Vatican Museums' Pinacoteca

Acquired by the Pope Gregory XVI in 1831

"In this idyllic landscape of Adam and Eve in the Garden, Peter Wenzel magnificently depicts the harmony and multiplicity of all God's creatures."

"Our senses find in this image a perfect habitat of protection, freedom, and communion with creation and Creator.. And at the center we see Adam and Eve. Traditional farm animals are nearby, with domesticated creatures including man's best friend at Adam's right hand, with a cat sitting at his feet."

"Like our first parents, we are not alone in our search for God. For God is gifting us at every moment with life, relationships, and the magnificence of creation. The beauty of the earth reflects the glory of God in order to lead us back to him."

SCRIPTURE MEDITATION

Genesis 1:26-31

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." 

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 

And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." 

And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 

And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. 

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.

 

PRAYER AND REFLECTION

"All humans are loved by God. Do you revere God in the face of others in yur life? Have you gossiped about or slandered others? How might you change behaviors that are self-centered or hurtful toward others or yourself?"

 

The comments above are taken from Meditations on Vatican Art by Fr. Mark Haydu. To truly enter into this Visio Divina, I suggest purchasing the book as each masterpiece comes with a complete description, prayer and reflection, and spiritual exercise.

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THE WAY OF BEAUTY

Vision of St. Francis

THEME: God created us for a mission

FOCUS OF THE MEDITATION: By fulfilling our unique role in God's plan, we hope to recognize and embrace our individual paths to heaven endowed with the theological virtues—faith, hope, and love.

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Vision of St. Francis

Pietro da Cortona

Circa 1641

"What is our purpose and what prompted God to create each of us? The answer is simple—God has created us for heaven. You have one goal, one dream, and one destiny: to be with God, who loves you for all eternity in heaven."

"In this gorgeous image by Pietro da Cortona, we view all the splendor of heavenly treasure, Jesus Christ, set amid a luminous cloud of glory."

"In the center of the painting, we see St. Francis reaching out to take the Child from Mary's hands... Francis is a mirror of our prayers. Like us, he has little to offer but everything to gain." This act of Jesus extending his plump little hand "represents how Christ longs to reach out to us in prayer by coming into our hearts and abiding there with light and love."

 

SCRIPTURE MEDITATION

Mark 10:17-22

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.  

You know the commandments: ‘Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’”

And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.”

And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.

 

PRAYER AND REFLECTION

"Is God calling you today for a special mission or purpose? Keep in mind that no job is too small in the sight of God."

"Make a ist of your gifts and thank God for giving them to you. Ask God to help nurture your creativity and light, that you might share generously with other the life that you have been given."

 

The comments above are taken from Meditations on Vatican Art by Fr. Mark Haydu. To truly enter into this Visio Divina, I suggest purchasing the book as each masterpiece comes with a complete description, prayer and reflection, and spiritual exercise.

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