Monday, April 24, 2017

This Unchosen Cloister

You may have noticed that lately I've been absent from behind these cloister walls. I wish I could say I've been away on a long vacation, but the truth is far less glamorous. I've spent the last few weeks in a cloister not of my own choosing... within the little "cell" of a hospital room.

I hope to tell you, soon, more about this adventure. (I know you won't be able to wait). In the meantime, this is just to say "Hi! I'm back!" And I hope you're having a blessed Easter season.

'Thank God, there still remains one sanctuary, the sacredness of which no earthly power may violate…  It is the sanctuary of the human heart.  It needs no fixed place for its confines, no stated time for the opening of its gates, no particular hour of silence for its prayer.  A thought, a word, a moment of reflection, and by faith and by love, the soul is within the blessed refuge, and the gates are closed on the confusion of life with all its noise and tumult. It is secure against the bitterness and the pain of persecution, or hardship or trial, or hurt of body, or wound of earthly pride, or failure of worldly ambition, for there she is inviolable, sacred, impregnable in the fortress of her own spirit.' (From The Living Pyx of Jesus, Pelligrini and Co, 1941, p.101) 

'We cannot go to Jesus in the Tabernacle at every moment of the day, but we can turn inward to the Triune God at any moment, even in the midst of our day's worst difficulties.' (The Living Pyx of Jesus, Pelligrini, 1941, p. 27)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Revisiting Bethany

I was seven years old when I learned I had a soul.  This was where Jesus would come when I received Holy Communion, and I was to prepare the place carefully.  Sweep it clean and tidy, Sister instructed; no sin allowed.  

I pictured this item of my personhood quite vividly.  I saw it as oval shaped, pearly white, and resting in the center of my chest.  A venial sin would spot it, a mortal sin (heaven forbid) would turn it black as a lump of coal.  It was like a little house inside me, where Jesus could come and rest.

I’m now many years past seven.  I no longer envision a white oval, shining like a pearl.  I do, however, marvel at the truth embedded in this simple childhood picture. “Here I stand, knocking at the door.  If anyone hears Me calling and opens the door, I will enter his house and have supper with Him, and he with Me.”  (Revelation 3:20)

What an astonishing reality.  There really IS a dwelling place inside me, set aside for God Himself.  A cloister of the heart, a sanctuary.  And it’s not a refuge for me alone. 

In the days when He walked the earth, Jesus found places of refuge.  Certainly He was in need of them, as He was hunted down, mocked, misunderstood, beaten, spat upon, and finally killed.  He found refuge in a womb, a manger, the arms of Mary and Joseph, with friends, and in a little house in Bethany. In such places Jesus was cared about and loved.

As we know, misunderstanding of Jesus did not cease with His crucifixion. The world has never, as a whole, reached out to embrace Christ and His teachings.  He is still “spat upon.” He’s discounted, laughed at, shunned in various ways – often before our eyes.  I may hear Him mocked this very day..  or dismissed as unimportant.  I might hear His Name used as a swear word. 

If that happens, can I remember to take a moment to offer a prayer of praise and love to Him in the solitude of my heart? 

“A cloistered heart accepts God’s grace to love Jesus Christ in the midst of a world that does not love Him; to embrace His will in a world which does not embrace it.  Thus the cloistered heart becomes a place of refuge not only for us, but for Christ Himself.  To create such a refuge is a primary part of the cloistered heart’s apostolate.” ( The Cloistered Heart)

"Make my soul…Your cherished dwelling place, Your home of rest.  Let me never leave You there alone, but keep me there all absorbed in You, in living faith, adoring You.”  (Elizabeth of the Trinity)

"I want to repose in your heart, because many souls have thrown Me out of their hearts today." (Jesus to St. Faustina)

"I try always to be a Bethany for Jesus, so that He may rest here." (St. Faustina) 

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.'  

Painting: Semiradsky, Christ, Martha, Maria


Monday, April 3, 2017

Buried in His Will

'There are no disappointments
 to those whose wills 
are buried in the will of God.'

Father Frederick Faber

Painting: Frank Dicksee, 1909

Friday, March 31, 2017

Beyond Whims and Fancies

'We must have a real living determination to reach holiness. 
I will be a saint means I will despoil myself of all that is not God; 
I will strip my heart of all created things; 
I will live in poverty and detachment; 
I will renounce my will, my inclinations, my whims and fancies, 
and make myself a willing slave to the will of God.'

St. Teresa of Calcutta

Painting: Ferdinand du Puigaudeau, The Wayside Cross at Rochefort-en-Terre

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Revisiting Rose

The following from our friend Rose remains our most popular post of all time:

'I had this idea that prayer, holiness, and the spiritual life were for the religious vocation and hidden behind high, thick brick walls. I longed to find a crack in that wall so I could have just a tiny taste of the spiritual life I once knew.  

'Then the Holy Spirit brought the Cloistered Heart to me.  The Cloistered Heart allowed me to squeeze through a tiny crack in that big brick wall. 

'I long for the fullness of all of God's promises for those who love Him to the heights. And if that sounds presumptive, then so be it, because I know that it is meant for us all. Not just the Religious or the saints, but for all......"(Rose)

Rose was once a novice in a religious order and discerned that such was not her vocation. She went on to marry and have a large family.  

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, March 27, 2017

God Beneath the Surface

'Many a time, face to face with nature, I come upon the manifestations of His power, His wisdom, His beauty. 

Sunset, and flowers, and the sea, and moonlight, and morning star are so many reminders of God beneath the surface, the Great Reality sustaining all, holding the universe in the hollow of His hand.

Often alone, undistracted by men, untroubled by things, I look into my soul and find Him there, the Hidden God, ever good and patient towards me, ever gentle and loving and divinely merciful and infinitely generous...'

(from The Living Pyx of Jesus by A Religious, Pelligrini, 1941, pp.149-150)

Painting: Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, Italian Girl with Flowers

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Behold the Handmaid

"In Mary we don't find the slightest trace of the attitude of the foolish virgins, who obey, but thoughtlessly. 

"Our Lady listens attentively to what God wants, ponders what she doesn't fully understand, and asks about what she doesn't know.  

"Then she gives herself completely to doing God's will: 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your word.'"

St Josemaria Escriva

Painting: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Annunciation, 1861

Friday, March 24, 2017

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Go and Find Him

"Go and find Him when your patience and strength run out and you feel alone and helpless. Jesus is waiting for you in the chapel.

"Say to Him, 'Jesus, You know exactly what is going on. You are all I have, and You know all things. Come to my help.'

"And then go, and don't worry about how you are going to manage. That you have told God about it is enough. He has a good memory."

St. Jeanne Jugan

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Revisiting the Real Jesus

Recently I read something touting a "politically correct" (but unmistakably warned against in Scripture) lifestyle as being something Jesus would applaud. 

I immediately thought:  "Oh, really?"  

Just who, I asked, is this jesus of whom the writer is speaking?  It's definitely not the Jesus quoted and taught about in Scripture and 2,000 years of the Church.  The real Christ clearly taught against what the author was endorsing.

This is extremely important.  Nothing in our lives could be more important.  If we intend to respond to the world through the "grillwork" of God's will, a knowledge of the real Jesus is critical. 

If I am going to see the world through Scripture and the teachings of the Church, I must have a working knowledge of what these are. I cannot make them up for myself. And certainly I can't invent my own jesus, one who will approve of everything I do.. even sin. The real Jesus loves me; He genuinely loves me. He cares enough about me to correct my missteps.  

The real Jesus does not overlook the cliffs I'm blindly frolicking about on. He is not afraid of warning me about them lest He interrupt my fun. Because He loves me, He wants to protect me from the enemy of my soul

"We can make the mistake of trying to make hard truths so palatable," writes Dan Burke at Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction, "that we end up presenting half-truths or even worse, untruths (implied or actual).... Yes, we can and must say “come as you are”; but we must also proclaim that the God of Love who meets us where we are, loves us too much to leave us there.  He calls us to union with Him where we will find the Truth that sets us free to know and live an abundant life in Him."

How do I get to know the real Jesus? How do I get to know Truth?
We have a gift in the Official Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is clearly laid out and indexed.  In this treasured resource, I can find out what the Church actually teaches on a specific subject.  The Catechism is accessible, clear, and easy to understand.

Most importantly, I get to know the Real Jesus proclaimed in Scripture. For those who aren't accustomed to reading the Bible, I suggest beginning with the Gospel of John.... reading straight through, taking it slowly and prayerfully (definitely prayerfully).  Matthew, Mark and Luke reveal more and more of Him. And in the epistles, I learn what St. Paul and the other writers teach about living totally (not just partly) for Christ. 

"When someone comes preaching another Jesus than the One we preached, or when you receive a different spirit than the one you have received, or a gospel other than the one you accepted, you seem to endure it quite well."  (2 Corinthians 11:4)

May such a thing never be said of us.

Text not in quotes

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.'  

Painting: Palma il Vecchio, Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Our Lenten Habit

'Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.

Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Stand firm, then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel  of peace.
In addition to this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation
and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.'

Ephesians 6:10-17

Painting: Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Divine Guest of my Soul

"He is with us always, within the depths of our souls always, listening to us and asking us to speak to Him, at least at intervals. 

"Is this quite true? Yes, the Eternal God, my Loving God, is within me, He is the Divine Guest of my soul. I must live my life with Him as much as my weakness, my misery, my meanness, my lukewarmness, my cowardice will allow. 

"This will not deter me in my other occupations nor separate me from others; it will take only a moment of time; only instead of being alone, I will have a Companion in my work and in my duties. 

"Now and again I will lower my eyes to my heart and remain in recollection for a few seconds, thinking 'You are here, my God, and I love You.' Thus I will develop the habit, and I will end by always feeling the sweet Companionship of the God of my heart."

(from The Living Pyx of Jesus by A Religious, Pelligrini, 1941, pp. 208-209)

Painting at top: Henriette Browne
Painting at bottom: Gifford Beal; Elevated,Columbus Avenue, NY, 1916

Saturday, March 18, 2017

But a Great Gain

'To persist 
in prayer without returns, 
this is not time lost, but a great gain. 
It is endeavour without thought of self  
and only for the glory of the Lord.'

St. Teresa of Avila

Painting: Nicola Consoni