Wednesday, July 19, 2017

This Artistry

Painting: Gunnar Bach Pedersen, 'Admission of Holy Clare to the monastery in 1212'

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Flame, When Constantly Fed

'A flame increases when it is constantly fed.  

'So prayer, made often, with the mind dwelling ever more deeply in God, arouses divine love in the heart.  

'And the heart, set on fire, will warm all the inner man, will enlighten and teach him..
making him like a flaming seraph, always standing before God within his spirit, 
always looking at Him within His mind, 
and drawing from this vision the sweetness of spiritual joy.'

St. Dmitri 

Painting: Mönch, 1830s

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Revisiting Joy

God's will is always for my good. While I realize that enclosure in God's will is 'confining,' I must also recognize that it is for my ultimate good.

I cannot lose sight of this truth. God's will is not for my destruction. Yes, He wills that sin be destroyed in me, that evil be destroyed - but this is because sin harms me.  God's will shall bring me joy. This does not mean it will bring me pleasure at every moment, but ultimately it will lead me into the fullness of joy.  

No illness, financial collapse, or political circumstance can take Jesus from me. Nothing can remove Him, for He is in my heart. I possess the very satisfaction that all are seeking and that no one can really find without finding Him.

In cloistering my heart, I must remember that cloistered life is meant to be a life of joy as total as one can find on earth.  

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.'


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Strong Weakness

Emergency services were called to my home a few weeks ago, simply to get me up and out of a reclining chair. Since my latest physical challenges at Eastertime, my muscles have weakened and I'm relying on various aids to help me get around.

Not that I "get around" all that much. I now spend a lot of time in the new electric lift-chair that we bought to replace "the recliner-from-which-I-could-not-stand-up."

I recently talked with a friend about this, remarking that I sometimes feel frustrated at not being able to do anything. My friend swiftly reminded me that oh, I can do many things. I am blogging and writing more than ever, and I'm praying, and I'm gathering bits of saintly inspiration to share here, in this little corner of cyberspace. 

"You're touching people across the earth" said my friend, "and you're doing it from a lift chair!"

Indeed that is something to ponder. Especially in those moments when I feel as if I'm not contributing much to God's work, I find it helpful to recall what I can do ... even from what appears to be a position of helplessness. I sit back in the lift chair, my little computer on a lap desk stretched from arm to arm across it, and I type out words written centuries ago by a saint. Meanwhile, a woman half a world away needs some encouragement. I do not know this, but God does; He knows and loves this lady, and He can inspire me to pick something especially for her as I sit back in my lift chair and pray about what to share.

My new chair is a welcome gift and tool.  The muscle weakness that makes me need it, however, does not feel at all like a gift. I'd be more likely to label that a thorn in the flesh. 

"I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me" wrote St. Paul of his own thorn. "But He said to me, 'My grace is enough for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

I don't like to call attention to my weaknesses. I prefer to deny them, pretend they aren't there, ignore them altogether. St. Paul, however, reacted differently. He boasted about his weakness, so that the power of God might reside in him. He was content with trials for the sake of Christ. He accepted and embraced the Lord's truth that God's power is made perfect in weakness. 

Maybe it's time to shout from the housetops that when we are weak, God's power can reach perfection. Maybe I should proclaim the truth that God can keep us content in spite of muscle weakness, serene in physical discomfort, and able to evangelize from a lift chair. 

His grace is more than enough.

"I wanted to find an elevator which would raise me to Jesus, for I am too small to climb the rough stairway of perfection. I searched then in the Scriptures for some sign of this elevator, the object of my desires and I read these words coming from the mouth of Eternal Wisdom: 'Whoever is a little one let him come to me.' The elevator which must raise me to heaven is your arms, O Jesus, and for this I have no need to grow up, but rather I have to remain little and become this more and more," And so she abandoned herself to Jesus and her life became a continual acceptance of the will of the Lord." (St Therese of Lisieux's Life at Carmel, Society of the Little Flower)

Painting at top: Louis Comfort Tiffany, Louise Tiffany Reading

Monday, July 10, 2017

A Radiance

'Dear Jesus, help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Your Spirit and Light. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may be only a radiance of Yours. Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul with whom I come in contact may feel Your Presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me, but only You, dear Jesus.'

(from The Living Pyx of Jesus by A Religious, Pelligrini 1941, p. 421)

Painting: John Henry Frederick Bacon, Suscipe me Domine (detail)

Friday, July 7, 2017

In Search of Holiness?

Great holiness consists in carrying out the little duties of each moment

St Josemaria Escriva

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Revisiting My Call

God calls some people to give themselves fully to Him in Religious life. As for me, I've been called to the married vocation, to the blessings of children and grandchildren, and to serving in the midst of the world.

So as far as a making a total gift of myself to God, does this mean I'm off the hook?

Oh, I should certainly hope not.  A total gift of self of God is one 'hook' I want to be on; it's a source of unspeakable blessings, it is a 'brass ring' on the ride of life.  I would hate to miss out on it.  And God, in His goodness, would hate for me to miss out on it too. With great love, He calls you - and He calls me.

Those who embrace Religious life have felt tugs so strong they just couldn't ignore them. Have we not felt God's tugs as well?

Are we not called to a life of total (not just partial, but absolutely total) commitment to Him? I provide the following as a tiny bit of evidence of our own calls to live fully for God, right in the midst of the world...... 

"I beg you, through the mercy of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, your spiritual worship.  'Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may judge what is God’s will, what is good, pleasing and perfect.' " Romans 12:2

"I have loved you with an everlasting love... I am constant in My affection for you."  (Jeremiah 31:3)
"I am the Good Shepherd.  I know My sheep and My sheep know Me, in the same way that the Father knows Me and I know the Father; for these sheep I will give my life."  (John 10:14-15)

"The grace of God has appeared, offering salvation to all men.  It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires, and live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age as we await our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Jesus Christ."  (Titus 2:11-13)

"Be intent on things above rather than on things of earth.  After all, you have died! Your life is hidden now with Christ in God.  When Christ our life appears, you shall appear with Him in glory.  Put to death whatever in your nature is rooted in earth:  fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desires, and that lust which is called idolatry....  What you have done is put aside your old self with its past deeds and put on a new man, one who grows in knowledge as he is formed anew in the image of his Creator."   (Colossians 3:2-10)

"You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Men do not light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket.  They set it on a stand where it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, your light must shine before men so that they may see goodness in your acts and give praise to your Heavenly Father."  (Matthew 5:14-16)

“Do not lay up for yourselves an earthly treasure.  Moths and rust corrode; thieves break in and steal. Make it your practice instead to store up heavenly treasure, which neither moths nor rust corrode nor thieves break in and steal.  Remember, wherever your treasure is, there your heart is also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

"Out of love, place yourselves at one another's service."  (Galatians 5:13)

"May I never boast of anything but the cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ!  Through it, the world has been crucified to me and I to the world."  (Galatians 6:14)

"I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk; I will counsel you, keeping My eye on you."  (Psalm 32:8)

For more about commitment to God, click this line

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.'

Sunday, July 2, 2017

My Faithful Superiors

A friend shared the following from Servant of God Madeleine Delbrel. It's 'very cloistered heart,' said she. 

I could not agree more!

'We, the ordinary people of the streets, know very well that as long as our own will is alive, we will not be able to love Christ definitively. We know that only obedience can root us into His death. We would envy our religious brothers and sisters if we too could not die to ourselves a little more each day. 

'However, for us the tiny circumstances of life are faithful 'superiors.' They do not leave us alone for a moment, and the yeses we have to say to them follow continuously, one after the other. When we surrender to them without resistance we find ourselves wonderfully liberated from ourselves. We float in Providence like a cork on the ocean waters. 

'From the moment we wake up these circumstances take hold of us. It is the telephone that rings; it is the key that won't work, the bus that doesn't arrive or arrives full, or doesn't wait for us. It is the person sitting next to us who takes up the whole seat, or the vibration of the loose window pane that drives us crazy. It's the daily routine, one chore that leads to another, some job we wouldn't have chosen... It's the people we meet and the conversations they choose to start...

'Life becomes a film in slow motion. It does not make our head spin. It does not take our breath away. Little by little, thread by thread, it eats away at the old man's frame, which cannot be mended and must be made new from the ground up.' 

Servant of God Madeleine Delbrel

Painting: Henri Lebasque

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What I Didn't Miss

One day, I scheduled a good sized block of minutes for uninterrupted concentration on God. I actually try to do this regularly, but on this day in particular I was ready and waiting. I had even dug through my bookshelves for an unused journal (I have several waiting in the wings) in order to make notes of What I Did Not Miss.

I sat with a list of suggestions on how to pray with Scripture and opened my Bible to a reading from the Gospel of Luke. I read a few lines slowly, and waited. I read the lines again, and waited. I asked Jesus what He wanted to reveal to me, and I waited. 'Keep on doing this until the words begin to live,' the anonymous Religious had suggested. So I did.

The words I read were good words, holy words, straight-from-the-written-Word-of-God-words, and I received them with gratitude. I thanked God for the words, and for His written word, and for gifts I was aware of and gifts I didn't know I was receiving.

But did the words live? From my perspective, that did not seem to be the case.

However, from the perspective of the way things really ARE, the words were alive indeed - and I knew that. 'For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any two-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.' (Matthew 4:12)

Did I feel any different because of the words I had read, or because of the prayers I prayed as a result of reading them? No, I cannot say that I did. Is the word of God living and active even when I do not feel it?  Yes, absolutely.

I didn't feel different because of this particular time of prayer, but the truth is: I had encountered God. I'd met and spoken with God. How could such a reality leave me unaffected?

God's word is alive, and that is an objective fact. Not everyone accepts it as fact, but that doesn't make it any less true. God has said it. 'The Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord's Body.... In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet His children, and talks with them.' (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 103-104)

I am happy to report that in many of my prayer times through the years, I've felt words of Scripture stirring and leaping in my heart and mind. I've had some sense of the Father coming to meet me, His child. But it's interesting. That is not the experience I've felt drawn to report on here.

I would rather share my intense gratitude for the gifts of that quieter day, when I knew in a deeper way that God's word IS living and active. I'm thankful for the gift of realizing that God has gifts for me, whether or not I see or hear or feel them.

How glad I am that, on that quieter day, I took time to be with God.

There were gifts, solid gifts. I would hate to have missed them.


Painting: Nicolae Vermont, 1919

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, June 26, 2017

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