Monday, July 25, 2016

Fiery Conversations


'If you wish to advance in the love of God, speak of it; 
for pious conversations are to charity what the wind is to the flame.'

St. Ignatius of Loyola


Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Secret Closet


'We must always reserve in our hearts amidst all affairs,
as it were, a secret closet, where we are to keep retired 
within ourselves and where no business of the world can ever enter.'

St. Antonino Peirozzi



Painting: Charles Courtney Curran, Dans le Jardin du Luxembourg 1889

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Fount Overflowing

 

 'My Heart overflows with great mercy for souls, and especially for poor sinners... It is for them that the Blood and Water flowed from My Heart as from a fount overflowing with mercy.' Jesus to St. Faustina
 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Greatest Romance the World Has Ever Known


In the mid 1980s, a new way of looking at my personal call from God began to form.  At first it was a wispy, vaporous, vague idea - no more than a phrase, really, that sent thoughts of incense scented hermitages fluttering through my mind.  I told no one about it, because I thought the very phrase sounded like the title of a romantic novel.  I said this once to the nun who'd had the "little dream" about me years before (by the 1980s we'd become good friends).  Sister looked at me solemnly and said "that's not off the mark."  God's call to us, and our response, she explained, is the greatest romance the world has ever known.  

While it took me several years to speak of the "romantic phrase" to anyone, I did refer to it in personal writings for my eyes alone.  "Most people do not title their journals," I wrote on February 26, 1985, "yet I want to name the record of my life from this moment forward.  May the Lord grant that I might live up to the name - therefore titling my life, as this book, 'The Cloistered Heart.'"

I thank God for that "romantic phrase," which grew into a monastic analogy complete with grillwork and enclosure and boundaries and all the facets with which we've now become familiar.  It is a phrase that grew from a longing, and the longing grew from a clash of "cultures."   Now, decades after that first vague idea, I'm more thankful than I could ever express.

I am forever grateful to be part of the greatest romance the world has ever known.









Sunday, July 17, 2016

Anyone Else Ever Feel Like This?



'I have never gone out to mingle with the world without losing something of myself.'

Blessed Albert the Great


Painting: GrĂ¼n, in US public domain due to age, PD-1923



Saturday, July 16, 2016

Any Honest Task, Well Done


'No amount of piety in leisure hours can compensate for slipshod labor on the job. But any honest task, well done, can be turned into a prayer.' 

Fulton J. Sheen



Friday, July 15, 2016

The Richest Quarry


'The richest quarry of prayer-material is obviously revelation itself; nothing can teach us more about the presence of God than the inspiration of God… 

'The arrested progress of certain souls may well be accounted for by their lack of interest in the scriptures… or perhaps such souls have studied, but studied in the wrong way. If we study academically we can hardly hope to profit spiritually…. 

'Study, even of divine things, must be kept in its place; it is a means, not an end.'

Dom Hubert Van Zeller, The Yoke of Divine Love, Templegate, Springfield IL, 1957, p. 139



Painting: Rembrandt

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sisters and Postulants and Nuns - O My!

click here for photo attribution


'The grating in a Carmelite monastery is not 
to keep the Sisters in, but to keep the world out.'
Fulton J Sheen

Did you ever wonder if there were differences between Sisters and Nuns, or between postulants and novices and aspirants? Wonder no more! Click here for a glossary of terms.  

Ever wonder about differences between monks and friars? Click here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Revisiting The Hidden Staircase

You and I have the same basic, fundamental, always-and-forever root vocation. We are called to be saints.

To be with God in Heaven is sainthood, and we are called to nothing less. The world will not put the designation 'Saint' before our names, but that's of no importance. God will know. God knows now. He sees every little step we take, every hidden hint of progress toward holiness. 'By holiness we mean the absence of whatever sullies, dims and degrades a rational nature; all that is most opposite to sin and guilt.' (Blessed John Henry Newman).

Did I accept God's grace today to conquer some temptation, perhaps in a tiny, hidden moment?  Did I stop myself from lashing out at someone in anger? Have I accepted what came my way without grumbling? Did I go graciously to a crying baby, or a spouse who wanted attention, or a neighbor in need?

If I haven't made any recent steps upward, I can be sure there are plenty of opportunities ahead. I don't have to look up the staircase and around the bends of it; there will be grace for those steps when I'm there. 


In the meantime, I have this next little step in front of me. And now this next.....

'Little by little we must acquire that dominion over ourselves which cost the saints many decades of years.' (St. Francis de Sales)

What hope this quote from St. Francis gives me!  

'Little by little.' 


Step by step.

'...which cost the saints many decades of years.'
 
Through the profound grace of God, there is much hope. 







Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A First Class Motive

'Examine the daily Rule of Life of the Religious Orders. In every one of them you will find a special time set side for Mental Prayer. Why is that? Because they must lead a Supernatural Life, to go against the dictates of their own lower nature. It is an arduous undertaking, and weak men and women could not continue on bravely at the bitter work of self conquest without some very strong motive. The daily thinking supplies the motive.

'In her Convent Chapel, the nun thinks, in the early morning, of all that our Divine Lord has done, and is doing, and will do for her. The thought awakens love in her heart, and that leads her to brave resolve to love and to suffer for Him. That resolve carries her through the trials of the day. She feels the pain, but through all the suffering, there is running a deep supernatural joy that she has a chance of bearing something for Him.

'Very ordinary, second-rate motives may bring people along the road to salvation, but for one aiming at close union with her Divine Spouse, a first-class motive of love is needed. That motive will not be in our hearts unless we strive to know Our Lord intimately by constant meditation.

'As we listen silently to Him Whose Will we desire to follow in detail, we, like the dear disciples, shall become enraptured with the beauty of His words, our cold hearts will be warmed with His Love, and like them, too, we shall begin to imitate His ways and reflect His divine goodness.'

(The Living Pyx of Jesus, Pelligrini, 1941, pp. 416-417)

Monday, July 11, 2016

But in Purity of Heart



'If we do not venture to approach men who are in power, except with humility and reverence, when we wish to ask a favor, how must we beseech the Lord God of all things with all humility and purity of devotion? And let us be assured that it is not in many words, but in the purity of heart and tears of compunction that we are heard.'

St. Benedict, founder of western monasticism.  Feast day July 11.
Painting: From Monte Olivieto Magiorre, St. Benedict

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Prayer Is




'Prayer is union with God and colloquy with him. 
Prayer maintains the equilibrium of the world, 
reconciles people to God, 
produces holy tears, 
forms a bridge over temptations, 
and acts as a buttress between us and affliction.   
Prayer drives away the struggles of the spirit.  
It is the blessedness to come.   
It is an action that will never come to an end. 
Prayer is a spring of the virtues, 
it is an illumination of the mind, 
it is a curtain to shut out despair, 
it is a sign of hope, 
it is a victory over depression.  
Prayer is a mirror in which we see our steps forward, 
it is a signpost of the route to follow, 
it is an unveiling of good things to come, 
it is a pledge of glory.” 

St. John Climacus

Friday, July 8, 2016

Throw Wide the Gate

'My Father and I will come and make Our home with him. Let your door stand open to receive Him, unlock your door to Him, offer Him a welcome in your mind, and then you will see the riches of simplicity, the treasures of peace, the joy of grace.

'Throw wide the gate of your heart, stand before the sun of the everlasting light that shines on every man. This true light shines on all, but if anyone closes his window he will deprive himself of eternal light. If you shut the door of your mind, you shut out Christ. Though he can enter, He does not want to force His way in rudely, or compel us to admit Him against our will....

'Our soul has a door; it has gates. Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, eternal gates, and the King of glory will enter. If you open the gates of your faith, the King of glory will enter your house in the triumphal procession in honor of His passion.

'Holiness too has its gates. We read in Scripture what the Lord Jesus said through His prophet: Open for Me the gates of holiness. It is the soul that has its door, its gates. Christ comes to this door and knocks; He knocks at these gates. Open to Him; He wants to enter, to find His bride waiting and watching.'

St. Ambrose, from an exposition of Psalm 118; from Office of Readings


Photo: public domain via Wikimedia
Painting: John William Waterhouse; original image reversed

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Again I Begin. Again.


While praying recently for a fresh wind of prayer, I ran across the following.  I've edited it slightly, for I first scribbled this in a journal over twenty years ago. Over twenty years!  Before iPads, Kindles, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, smart phones, texting, mobile apps.  Back then, people went to dinners disconnected, engaging in conversation with no concerns about a purse ringing just as salads arrived.  Yet even then, I was aware of how hard it was to tune in to the gentle presence of God.  

'We can hardly hear anything in this world of ceaseless distraction.  Our ancestors, even our recent ones, would be simply overwhelmed by the barrage of noises that surround us in this busy world, in this busy western world.  We are bombarded by entertainment, images, music, sounds, distractions we carry with us wherever we go. 

Perhaps we find our own thoughts too disturbing, so we drown them out with ceaseless chatter.  Maybe inactivity reminds us too clearly that we were created to fill our time with God, so we flee from the reminders by cramming our days full of mindless clutter
. I know this because I am so this way, busily fluttering amid distractions that keep me blissfully unaware.

If only we could see it!  If only we could see the drama in which we're engaged!  If only we could peer, eyes unveiled, into the truth for just a minute.  I can't believe that such acute awareness would not utterly change our lives...'


Over twenty years later, I am still struggling to quiet down and 'listen.'  Funny.  I thought I'd be settled into a real routine by now.  Not so.

Perhaps because routine has never been easy for me?  Possibly.  Maybe because distractions are becoming daily more present and ever more convenient for me and for all of us?  Surely.

And, if I'm honest, probably because some part of me would rather look at glitter than into scripture.  It's a tough thing to consider, an even tougher thing to admit.  But it is at least partially true.  After all, a bit of online glitz will not remind me that I need to take time to pray for situations on the world stage.  Or perhaps that I can even, if I give Him time and space, encounter the loving presence of God.

Encountering the Presence of God.  Imagine!  I can do this very thing in prayer, even in the silence of my heart.  I know how this works; I've done it for years:  I can sit down and pray, giving God time and space and attention.  I can take another look at Lectio Divina.

Why on earth am I waiting?  Am I afraid of something? Perhaps I'm more dependent than I realize on entertainment, on noise and commotion and bling. Could it be?

Maybe if I ask Him, and maybe if I sit long enough to hear His still, small Voice, Our Lord will answer this very question.

I pick up my Bible. I open it.

Again I begin.











Sunday, July 3, 2016

Turning the Eyes of My Soul



'How seldom do I remember that at any time, in any place, I can find You,
commune with You, by simply turning towards You the eyes of my soul.' 

By 'A Religious,' LISTENING TO THE INDWELLING PRESENCE, Pellegrini, Sydney, 1940,  p. 55




Painting: George Spencer Watson, A Picnic at Portofino,1911