Thursday, June 22, 2017

An Abyss of Love

'This divine heart is an abyss filled with all blessings, and into it the poor should submerge all their needs. It is an abyss of joy in which all of us can immerse our sorrows. It is an abyss of lowliness to counteract our foolishness, an abyss of mercy for the wretched, an abyss of love to meet our every need.'  St. Margaret Mary

'Since there is in the Sacred Heart a symbol and sensible image of the infinite love of Jesus Christ which moves us to love one another, therefore it is fit and proper that we should consecrate ourselves to His most Sacred Heart - an act which is nothing else than an offering and a binding of oneself to Jesus Christ, seeing that whatever honor, veneration and love is given to this divine Heart is really and truly given to Christ Himself.' Pope Leo XIII

'O Sacred Heart of Jesus, fountain of eternal life, Your Heart is a glowing furnace of Love. You are my refuge and my sanctuary. O my adorable and Loving Savior, consume my heart with the burning fire with which Yours is aflame. Pour down on my soul those graces which flow from Your love. Let my heart be united with Yours. Let my will be conformed to Yours in all things. May Your will be the rule of all my desires and actions.'   St. Gertrude the Great

'Every time I hear anyone speak of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or of the Blessed Sacrament, I feel an indescribable joy. It is as if a wave of precious memories, sweet affections and joyful hopes swept over my poor person, making me tremble with happiness and filling my soul with tenderness. These are loving appeals from Jesus Who wants me wholeheartedly there, at the source of all goodness, His Sacred Heart throbbing mysteriously behind the Eucharistic veils. I love to repeat today 'Sweet Heart of Jesus, make me love You more and more.''  Pope St. John XXIII

'Do not let the past disturb you, just leave everything in the Sacred Heart and begin again with joy.' St. Teresa of Calcutta

Monday, June 19, 2017

Of Jesus Concealed


'In a world where there is so much noise, so much bewilderment, there is a need for silent adoration of Jesus concealed in the Host. Be assiduous in the prayer of adoration and teach it to the faithful. It is a source of comfort and light, particularly to those who are suffering.'

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI


Painting: Henri Alphonse Louis Laurent-Desrousseaux


Sunday, June 18, 2017

There Are Certain Things


'There are certain things which lose their fragrance in the open air, 
certain thoughts so intimate that they cannot be translated into earthly 
language without losing at once their deep and heavenly meaning. 
How lovely it was, that first kiss of Jesus in my heart - 
it was truly a kiss of love. I knew that I was loved 
and said 'I love You, and I give myself to You forever.' 

St Therese of Lisieux






Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Breath of Home


My goal is to go through the world carrying Jesus in my heart.  To remain cloaked in an atmosphere of prayer wherever I may be, whatever I happen to be doing.

Not unlike an astronaut, I carry the oxygen of my Homeland with me, breathing it in and out with every silent prayer.

And I wonder: can it change a family, a workplace, a city, if a person is praying in the midst of it?
 
Of course it can; of course it inevitably does.  Such is an apostolate of a cloistered heart, carried to a family, into rush hour traffic, onto a bus.

It is “living Jesus” no matter where one happens to be. 


"Always remember… to retire at various times into the solitude of your own heart even while outwardly engaged in discussions or transactions with others. This mental solitude cannot be violated by the many people who surround you since they are not standing around your heart but only around your body. Your heart remains alone in the presence of God.” (St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life).

This is a repost from our archives. It is linked to Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for 'It's Worth Revisiting Wednesday.'   
  

Monday, June 12, 2017

A New Life of Friendship

'A change comes in the soul when it begins to really recognize Who it is that dwells in her. A new life of affection begins a new life of intimate friendship.

Intimate friends are characterized by mutual benevolence: each one makes the interest of the other the subject of his thoughts and of his plans...

In such manner should we live in the intimacy of our Divine Guest. We should turn to him frequently, to speak of ourselves, our sorrows, our joys. We should, in all simplicity, as between friends, tell Him of our anxieties, our needs, our plans, our projects.

But we should speak to Him also of His own interests and especially of the salvation of souls, which is God's great desire. We should beg His grace, the grace of the Faith, for those outside the Church, and the grace of Hope and Charity for those inside the Church. By so doing, we are making the interests of our Divine Guest our own.

Some may think that such a life of Union with God is only for saints, that a life of intimacy in which the soul constantly turns to God, as to a loving and beloved guest, is not for the ordinary faithful. This view is incorrect.

Intimacy with God is not for the saints only, it is for all of us.

God dwells in each soul which is in the state of grace and calls each of us to be united to Him in intimate friendship.'

(from 'Listening to the Indwelling Presence' by a Religious, Pelligrini, 1940, pp. 62-63)

Painting: Gaspar de Crayer, The Vision of St Theresa of Avila

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Choosing the Grille

I've just rediscovered the following, written several years ago by a friend who also seeks to see and respond to life "through the grillwork of the will of God".....

"Some sections of my grille seem to be growing stronger.  These sections are those that deal with world issues, politics, even criticisms and crises in the Church.  It used to be that such issues as these reached through my grille and almost strangled me.  I do not ignore these situations but now I seem to be better able to turn them over to God.  If there is an action to take, I take that action with prayer.  Otherwise, I pray for Gods mercy and then I surrender it to God's will... 

"The area of my grille that seems weakest is the section dealing with the world closest to me, that is, my family.  There is always someone or some situation reaching through my grille.  My grille is worn thin.  Some bars are splintered.  My grille often seems to be stretched and misshapen so that I no longer recognize those little crosses that are supposed to be holding my grille together.  It feels like hands, arms and legs are reaching through the grille tangling with each other while trying to entrap me... 

"The point is: it is easier for me to surrender to God the earth-shaking issues of the world than it is for me to surrender the simple, everyday issues of my family life..."

I say to my friend, and to anyone reading this: oh, how I identify. Especially in recent weeks, as I've been dealing with a bit of physical illness, I find myself scrambling to focus on God's truth about circumstances in which I find myself.  Am I in discomfort today? My initial reaction (my family can tell you) is to panic and fret. It then takes prayer and a concentrated effort for me to settle down and even begin to look for "the grille." I am happy to report, however, that years of practice have paid off, that memorized bits of Scripture do come to mind when needed, and that I can make the choice to react to situations as God asks me to.

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no fruit, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights." (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

"We know that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his decree." (Romans 8:28)
 
"I consider the sufferings of the present to be as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18)



Painting at top: Henri Lebasque, 1937

Friday, June 9, 2017

Grounded on the Word of God


I heard someone speak recently about the importance of Scripture, and I decided that now might be a good time to check on my "grillwork.'

In our analogy, a "cloistered heart" is a person who wants to live totally for God with no ifs, no ands, no buts. Our life is our monastery. Our cloister, or "enclosure," is the will of God in which we choose to dwell.

Our "grille" is also the will of God, through which we seek to view and respond to all of life. Just as some who live in physical enclosures interact with the world outside through panels of grillwork, we can view and respond to each situation and every person through the "grillwork of the will of God"  as revealed in Scripture and Church teaching.

It is all very basic. It's all very simple. It is an analogy which has been developing for more than thirty years now, and I strive to live it. Yet how quickly my eyes can drift away from looking at everything through Scripture. It takes just one roll of the spiritual eyeballs, and my focus has changed.

Someone once told me of reading Scripture to a man who was in panic as he faced a dangerous surgical procedure. The man's countenance was seen to change as he was presented with the word of God. He was given grillwork!

I must have my grillwork. How do I make sure I have it, and that it's set firmly in place before my spiritual eyes?

I find and strengthen my grillwork by prayerfully reading Scripture. "Speaking of the importance of the word of God as nourishment for the spiritual life, Vatican C II says: 'Prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that God and man may talk together, for we speak to Him when we pray; we hear Him when we read the divine sayings. The reading serves as a beginning, a point of departure for the interior dialogue: the written word then becomes a living word with which God Himself lights up the depths of the recollected soul, making it understand its meaning and its  practical application for daily life. Thus, the soul advances from reading to the attitude of Mary of Bethany, who, seated at the Lord's feet, listened to His teaching. This is the precious listening which Jesus calls the 'one thing needful... the good portion..,' meaning that an hour spent listening to the words of eternal life is worth more than a thousand worldly accomplishments. Then spontaneously, the listening opens into prayer, which is the response of the soul to the Lord's word and light: adherence, acceptance, renunciation, and an impulse of love for God, renewed fervor in serving Him, resolution to do good, and thanksgiving. Sacred Scripture, particularly the Gospel, texts of the missal and breviary offer most beautiful and useful themes for meditation precisely because they are the word of God and the word of the Church.'" (Divine Intimacy Vol II by Father Gabriel OCD, Ignatius Press 1987, p. 147)

I pray that God will provide His grillwork for all of us, that we may see and respond to every situation and every person through His will. I pray that we each shall know, love, embrace, hunger for, live His holy word.  

"The Christian faith is grounded on the Word of God. This is what places it in the sovereign degree of certainty, as having the warrant of that eternal and infallible Truth. Faith which rests on anything else is not Christian." (St. Francis de Sales, The Catholic Controversy, TAN, 1989, p 83)





Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Pause a Minute...



This is a repost from our archives. It is linked to Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for 'It's Worth Revisiting Wednesday.'   
  



Friday, June 2, 2017

In the Depth of Center


'For my part I keep myself retired with Him
in the depth of centre of my soul as much as I can; 
and while I am so with Him I fear nothing; 
but the least turning from Him is insupportable.'

Brother Lawrence



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Revisiting Visitations


The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth is one of my favorite feasts.  On so many levels, it speaks to my life as a cloistered heart.
Mary visited Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56) because she had BEEN Visited by God.  She didn't go to Elizabeth alone - she went with the Presence of Christ inside her.  As one living "cloistered for Jesus" in the midst of the world, I carry Christ inside me as well.  Not in the same unique way, certainly.  But according to Scripture and Church teaching, I indeed carry Him within. 

Mary went on a simple visit to Elizabeth.  It was an occasion that I'm sure went unnoticed by many.  A woman went to visit her kinswoman; something that happened all the time.   No one would have cried out: "look, there goes Mary on mission!" or "how about that!  This visit will be written of in the Bible!"  From the merely human perspective, it was simply a time of normal interaction between two women, two relatives.  

And so it is with us. You and I have opportunities every single day to visit people with the presence of Christ.  In the everyday activities of life, we visit family members, neighbors, store clerks, callers on the phone. 

I find it extremely helpful when I make a conscious effort to visit these persons with the love of Our Lord.  That is - with an awareness of Christ within me.  I have found that it makes quite a difference in my attitude when I think of things this way.

I ask myself: What might happen if I make a conscious effort to go through today "on visitation?"  

What if I first visit the Lord in prayer, and then specifically visit every person I encounter with the love of Christ?  This does not mean I have to say or do anything that will draw attention.  It can mean that I pray a silent aspiration for the mailman, smile at a harried store clerk, relate to family members with patience.  I might write a note to a friend, send an e-mail of encouragement, call a lonely relative.  

My visitations can be simple and unnoticed.   But as I carry the love of Christ to those around me, it just might be that Heaven will rejoice.


This is a slightly edited repost from our archives. It is linked to Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for 'It's Worth Revisiting Wednesday.'   
 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Help Me Make Time


"Lord, help me to make time today to serve You 
in those who are most in need of encouragement or assistance."

St. Vincent de Paul


Painting: Rostislav Felitsin


Friday, May 26, 2017

A Mansion Reserved


"As far as I can understand, the gate by which
to enter this castle is payer and meditation." 

St. Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle





As far as I can understand, the gate by which to enter this castle is prayer and meditation

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Revisiting the Fence



A cloistered nun told me, some years ago, that my life for God in the midst of the world was more difficult than hers. At the time, I didn't think that was possible. I did not have to rise every morning at 5:30, show up in chapel when a bell rang, and spend most of each day in silence.

In the twenty-five years since Sister said this to me, I've gained a better idea of what she meant. I believe she was saying that the framework of my life was one in which it was difficult not merely to live, but to live for God. Which is, after all, the point of life... to live for God.

The life of a nun would be impossible for me, because I don't have grace for it. Sometimes, however, I long for the framework of such a life. I long for physical structure to securely fence me in and keep me from getting sidetracked by things that are unimportant, frivolous or even sinful.

In the midst of a society that finds the very thought of living "for God" repressive, fanatical, and politically incorrect, I find myself not securely fenced in, but camped out and living on the fence. I don't intend to embrace the world's standards, but in my attempts to blend in with the rest of society, sometimes I just might find myself compromising.

The fence is where I settle in to watch a PG-13 movie while trying to close my ears to the language and my eyes to "those scenes." It's where I enter a party determined not to gossip, but wind up laughing along with those who do. It is where I know I'm to stand up for Christ, for life, for morality, for biblical truth - yet I pull back for fear of what others might think. In a monastery, questionable movies would not be seen, and speaking ill of others would be frowned upon. Distressing news items wouldn't be matters for debate, but for prayer. God would be the center, there, of everyone's life.

I realize that religious life is not utopian; I do know this. But I would love to live within a structure where prayer times are scheduled, outward distractions are minimal, and God is never forgotten. The world is crazier than ever at this point in time (yes, I realize that's an understatement), and sometimes I would love to just hide away from the insanity. But my call is not to do that. My call is to live for God, love others for God, and pray for God's loving will to reign over all.

My call is to step off the fence and live fully, not just partly, for God.
"Faith is one foot on the ground, one foot in the air, and a queasy feeling in the stomach." (Mother Angelica)

"Great saints have often been made out of great sinners, but not one was ever made out of a wimp." (Peter Kreeft) 

"You cannot be half a saint. You must be a whole saint or no saint at all." (St. Therese of Lisieux)

"Do not be satisfied with mediocrity." (Pope St. John Paul II)


"You want to do something for the Lord.. do it. Whatever you feel needs to be done, even though you're shaking in your boots, you're scared to death... take the first step forward. The grace comes with that one step and you get the grace as you step." (Mother Angelica)

"Why don't you give yourself to God once and for all... really.... NOW!" (St. Josemaria Escriva)

This is a repost from our archives. It is linked to Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for 'It's Worth Revisiting Wednesday.'   
 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Prayer in the 'Seventh Mansion'



'There is self-forgetfulness which is so complete that it really seems as though the soul no longer existed, because it is such that she has neither knowledge nor remembrance that there is either death or life or honor for her, so entirely is she employed in seeking the honor of God. It appears that the words which His Majesty addressed to her have produced their effect - namely, that she must take care of His business and He will take care of hers. And thus, happen what may, she does not mind in the least, but lives in so strange a state of forgetfulness that, as I say, she seems no longer to exist, and has no desire to exist - no, absolutely none - save when she realizes that she can do something to advance the glory and honor of God, for which she would gladly lay down her life.'


St Teresa of Avila


For fuller descriptions of St. Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle and "Mansions," see the following:

Interior Castle, text from EWTN

Interior Castle by Teresa of Avila

Fire Within 


Painting: Arthur Hacker, The Cloister or the World? 1896

Sunday, May 21, 2017

O Name of Jesus



'Jesus, Name full of glory, grace, love and strength! 
You are the refuge of those who repent, 
our banner of warfare in this life, 
the medicine of souls, 
the comfort of those who mourn,
the delight of those who believe, 
the light of those who preach the true faith, 
the wages of those who toil, 
the healing of the sick. 
To You our devotion aspires; 
by You our prayers are received;
we delight in contemplating You. 
O Name of Jesus, You are the glory of all the saints for eternity.'

St Bernardine of Siena

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Back to the Edge of My Knowing



I once dreamed I was in an urban neighborhood at dusk, making my way across back yards crammed with people. The yards were narrow strips of land belonging to detached rowhouses standing side by side. Everyone appeared to be waiting for something; perhaps a baseball game, or fireworks on the fourth of July. Sounds of traffic surrounded us all.

My trek from yard to yard was halted when I reached a building extending farther back than the others. It looked like any other building, but I knew it was a church. There was an entrance facing me; a small, humble, very plain side door. I opened it and stepped inside.

The interior was larger than I expected. Dark, cool, with walls and floors of deep reds and browns.  Every surface gleamed with a warm patina, like stones worn smooth during years of prayer.

The overall sense was of a cavern, one lit only with candles. Small clusters of burning white tapers kept vigil along the long walls.

By now it was dark outside, and I knew the people were still out there, still packed in, still noisy, still waiting. From inside, however, I could no longer hear them. There were no more sounds of traffic. I knew only silence, and subtle scents of incense and beeswax, and a gently growing awareness of someone here, on the edge of my knowing.

I had thought I was alone, all by myself in this silent church. Yet now I knew an unseen sense of Presence.

He was in this place; of course He was.  I'd only needed to come away for a moment from the noise, so I could hear Him. I needed to be where His silence filled the air.

He had been waiting for me to stop and listen.

He had been waiting all along.

"I have a secret dwelling place, a sanctuary closed to the world and occupied by God alone, where I can always say 'O my God! I belong to You!' Neither afflictions, nor tempests, nor the clamour of the world, can tear me away from this secret abode, from this hidden Sanctuary where I can always converse with God, in a mysterious friendship which is the beginning of Heaven." (The Living Pyx of Jesus, Pelligrini, 1941, p. 95) 

'To be with God it is not necessary to be always in church. We may make a chapel of our heart, whereto to escape from time to time to talk with Him quietly, humbly and lovingly.... Begin then; perhaps He is waiting for a single generous resolution.' (Brother Lawrence)

'We are, each of us, a Living Cathedral. Each is his own chapel. And provided we are in a state of grace, God lives and dwells within us… we must live and act as if we were dwelling in a church in the presence of the Tabernacle.” (The Living Pyx of Jesus) 

This is a slightly edited repost from our archives. It is linked to Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for 'It's Worth Revisiting.'   
 

Photo: Kitaev Hermitage. Click here for full attribution.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Utterly for God




Sometimes
words are 
unnecessary ...























Hat tip to the Institute on Religious Life for passing along this beautiful video!