Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The First Call

Boris Kustodiev, US public domain due to age
I fell in love for the first time when I was six years old.  Coming from an "unchurched but Catholic-on-the-books" family, I did not learn of Jesus until I entered first grade.  I'm forever grateful to my parents for sending me to Catholic school, for there I learned of this wonderful Person Who truly loved me.  I could not help but love Him in return, and in fact I was so taken with Him that as soon as I could more or less spell, I scribbled His Name all over my schoolbooks (I had a teenaged sister who wrote names of boyfriends on her books, so I knew how that was done).

Jesus lived in a golden box way up in the front of Church.  I didn't understand how they fit Him in there, but that didn't really matter to me.  Sister said that's where He was and - even better than that!  In spring, when school was almost out for the year, I'd be receiving my First Communion and somehow Jesus would come to my heart in a special way.  Oh my.  I didn't know how such a thing could be, but at times I was breathless thinking about it.

Sometimes I would sneak into the empty Church during recess.   I'd slip away from the other kids and run along the alley between my school and Church, and I'd tug open the gigantic wooden door and tiptoe into quiet.  It was perfect.  Just me, all by myself; and way up front, there He was.  Sometimes a lady or two might be in there, kneeling in a pew with a prayerbook, a felt or straw hat covering her head.  I would hide lest I be discovered.  If there weren't any grownups, I sometimes got brave enough to go as far as to a back pew.  I don't remember praying, exactly.  I just looked at the gold box in the distance, and breathed in whiffs of beeswax candles and lingering incense, and listened to muted sounds of traffic from the streets around.

And what about this young love - was it lasting?  I am happy to say that, through most of my grade school years, yes it was.  Oh, I got distracted, certainly.  Childhood games and pettiness, selfishness and materialism and fashion and crushes and pre-teen drama:  all took their toll.  The fact that I was the only one in my family who went to Sunday Mass (my dad drove me to church and came back to get me) wasn't easy.  I felt like the oddball in my family, so learned to hide any interest I had in God. And my interest in Him was far from constant; sometimes it disappeared for months on end.

"Jesus Looking Through a Lattice" by James Tissot
But always He was waiting.  Always He was watching, even when I lost sight of Him.  He began calling early, and I thank Him for His persistence. 

I am glad to be able to say:  Jesus Christ was my first love. 


"Here He stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattices."  (Song of Songs 2:9)

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Monday, November 26, 2012


Through the early 1980s, the Sisters I referred to in the last two posts held prayer meetings in their monastery.  Because these nuns were semi-cloistered and once ran a girls' school, they had a number of  "uncloistered" areas in their buildings.  One of these was a parlor, where the meetings were held.

This parlor was painted in pastels.  Its chairs and sofas were overstuffed, the lighting was soft, there was an old (unlighted) fireplace.  Everything contributed to a gentle feeling of home.  Sisters and laypeople gathered to pray in low voices; the singing was heartfelt and serene.  There was often a bit of conversation about our efforts (in and out of cloister) to bring glory to God.

After one of these meetings, I tiptoed out with a friend to begin the hour's drive back to our city (we always seemed to tiptoe, as if not to disturb the hush).  We decided to stop for pizza on our way home, at a little place not far from the monastery's grounds.

Stepping into the pizzeria, I was startled by the stark, sudden contrast.  My senses were assaulted by the twangy blare of a jukebox, by shouts and insults and bawdy jokes yelled across the room.  I wanted to flee, rush out, race back to the quiet of the monastery.  The "wanting" was a literal ache inside me.  I yearned to be back in the quiet, gentle, holy presence of ones who had given their lives utterly to God.

I began to think of the step it takes to walk into the cloister once and for all, to leave everything on one side of the grille and take up residence on the other.  It was a "break" I suddenly found enviable for its totality.

I don't know when the phrase "the cloistered heart" actually came to me.  But I look back at that night, and that visit to the noisy pizzeria, as the time when the cloistered heart was truly birthed in my soul.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

That Romantic Phrase

As I wrote here a week ago, I have answered the call.  Since the amazing day when I knew that Christ Himself was real and very Present, I have - by His sheer grace - been striving to live for Him.

In the mid 1980s, a new way of looking at my personal call 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," and the clash was one I felt for the first time in a noisy restaurant.  Tomorrow, God willing, I will share more about that clash.

In the meantime, I'm thankful that I am - and you are - called to be part of the greatest romance the world has ever known.


Sunday Snippets

This weekend I'm linking up with "Sunday Snippets, a Catholic Carnival," sharing my account of how God drew me to faith in Him. I have this one post to link:   The Call

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Call

It was as insistent, sometimes, as a telephone ringing.  A persistent "come… come… come" that I couldn’t quite ignore.  Walking by the stairs leading up to the chapel of my high school, I almost always sensed that pull.  I imagined I felt the way steel might in the presence of a strong magnet.  Only, steel would not try to pull away as I often did.

I was eighteen.  The year before, rather quietly, God had begun to make Himself real to me, and I found I wanted to grow closer to Him.  So I had left public high school for a Catholic girls’ academy taught by semi-cloistered nuns.  In this place of peace and stillness a path was cleared for the Lord’s gentle voice to get through to me.  At first I stopped long enough to listen.  But as the school year progressed, I became more and more afraid of what the Lord was actually calling me to do.

This concern was particularly striking one day when my Speech teacher stopped me after class.

"I had a little dream about you last night," Sister said with a gentle smile.  "I dreamed you joined our Order here…" 

I was suddenly aware of a hammering in my chest and ears, and of heat rising in my cheeks.  I think I managed to murmur something halfway coherent as I hurried away, wondering "what is God trying to tell me?  Was that merely an idle dream that Sister thought I’d find amusing?"  Or was it something else.  Everyone I’d known who appeared to really love the Lord seemed to be in a convent or serving as a priest.  Surely God didn’t call anyone as I’d felt Him calling me unless it was to be a Religious.

I had something different in mind for my life.  A husband, children, and perhaps a career in the Arts - these were my goals.  Becoming a nun wasn’t exactly on my itinerary.  I wanted to serve God, but what if He asked for what I then considered the ultimate sacrifice?

I dealt with this the only way I thought possible.  I began to ignore the "nudges."  This was not hard to do, for there were so many things to interest an active eighteen year old girl.  It didn’t take long at all before it seemed any sense of a "call" was gone.

Perhaps I felt relief when seeds of unbelief were planted during my college years.  After all, if God wasn't there, I wouldn't have to concern myself with what He did or did not ask of me.  I didn’t believe or dis-believe at that point; I merely developed a rather convenient "God doesn’t bother me and I don’t bother Him" philosophy.  The only trouble was that God did bother me, more than I dared admit to myself.  My attendance at Sunday Mass drifted from "regular" to "occasional," and I stopped praying altogether.  Yet God still had a way of popping into my mind at unexpected times. 

At twenty one, I began to feel a renewed interest in faith and went back to attending Mass on a weekly basis.  I even made attempts at prayer.  I became involved in the activities of the Catholic student center at my University, and it was there that I met the young man I married.  For years after our wedding I considered myself a good Catholic.  I never missed Mass on Sunday, I was free of mortal sin, so I figured I was pretty well off.

God was totally unreal to me, however.  I prayed only rarely, and spent much of my spare time reading books on secular philosophy and pop psychology and "the meaning of life" (those basically making a case for life having no meaning whatsoever).  Seeds of unbelief sown years earlier thus found a medium for growth. 

I don’t know when it first dawned on me that I no longer believed in God at all, but in order to keep from shaking my husband, I kept quiet about it.  My family had no idea that I sat at Mass Sunday after Sunday wondering "how educated people could believe all this." 

And then something happened.  Now, many years later, I can only look upon this sudden occurrence as a breakthrough of the grace of God.

To my surprise, I prayed my first prayer in years.  I was somehow nudged to say, aloud, "God, I don’t believe in you, but if you’re real, and if you can hear me, I’m asking you to show me once and for all who or what you are."  And I told him that if he did this, I would follow him - whatever he was.

I felt utterly absurd, as if I'd just spoken to the air.  But I did have a sense that something had begun.

It was a sporadic beginning.  I started reading everything I could find about great religions of the world.  Christianity?  Yes, that too - but only in an encyclopedia.  After all, I’d been raised in Catholic schools - I figured I knew all there was to know about that one.  As far as what I was finding in my many other books... it seemed I just kept hitting brick walls. 

A few weeks after that first prayer, however, I happened to spot a Bible on my bookshelf.  It occurred to me that this particular title had been a bestseller for quite a few years, and I had never even read it.  A major literary lapse!  I should at least pick it up and have a look.  After all, what could it hurt…?

I opened to the gospel of Matthew and began to read. 

Several days later, I had read through to the gospel of John.  I don’t know if my mind grasped a thing, but some part of me seemed to somehow be "absorbing."

I read in stolen moments.  And then the most surprising thing happened.  I found that rather than merely reading a nice historical account, I was in fact meeting someone.  It was as though He stepped right out of the pages, out through the thees and thous of the translation, and in some un-voiced way spoke to me.

The sense was of a voice I knew from sometime long ago, saying "come…  come… come…"

This time I said yes.

I told Him I didn’t really understand what was happening to me.  I had no idea how I could have come to believe it.  I only knew that Jesus Christ was right there, in the room with me.  I knew I believed in Him, I knew I loved Him.  I was willing to follow Him anywhere. 

Things changed after that, certainly.  I wanted to pray, I wanted to read the Bible, I wanted to love God and everyone around me.  I wanted to meet others who loved Jesus as I did, so I prayed to be led to them.... and I was.

In time, one of these new friends was asked to provide music for a meeting in a town not far away.  As it "happened," this was scheduled to take place at the convent/monastery where I’d gone to high school.  My friend asked me to go with her.   I considered this invitation for awhile before giving a response. 

I had never been one of those who went back to visit the Sisters after graduation.  By now, I felt nervous at the very thought of returning.  But with my chest and ears hammering, I told my friend yes.  

We walked in the door right beside the stairs leading up to the chapel.  I literally gasped at the still-familiar sight.  It was just as I’d remembered.  The banisters with their warm patina were just the same, as were the creaky wooden floors.  Even though the Sisters were not teaching school there anymore, I half expected a young girl in uniform blazer and regulation saddle shoes to tiptoe down the hall at any moment. 

We gathered in what had been the students’ refectory for the meeting.  Sisters filed in quietly, and I was busy searching their faces for one I could recognize.  Nope: not even one. 

Before long, the laypersons and nuns assembled into small groups.  In mine, there was one Sister who seemed too young to have been here when I was a student.  So why was I feeling a growing sense of recognition?  It was as though she reminded me of someone I’d once known. 

It was when this Sister came over to me after the meeting that I realized she had been one of my teachers;  a kind, encouraging soul who’d once told me I should consider a career in Speech.  My mind suddenly saw her standing before me, smiling, saying "I had a little dream about you last night.  I dreamed you joined our Order here..."

Had the Lord been calling me when I was eighteen?  Certainly.  And I am quite sure that if I’d stopped to listen, I would have been led to the exact vocation He had ready for me:  that of wife and mother.  The fruit of my marriage has been wonderful, and I do not doubt that it was my call.  I did err at eighteen, however, when I did not give God so much as a chance to "speak."

As it was, He kept trying to get through, year after year, while my line stayed busy.

Thank God I finally stopped to listen, and to realize that I could belong to Him even though I wasn't living in a convent.

I have answered the call. 

This post is an edited version of the article "The Call," originally published in a Catholic magazine no longer in print.  This edition is © 2012 Nancy Shuman.

A Preview

"My God, Jesus my love, uncreated Goodness, what would have become of me if You had not drawn me to Yourself?"  (St. Gertrude)

Later today (or tomorrow at the latest), I hope to put another post on here.  That one will be longer than normal, so I'm writing this introduction separately.  

Because scripture is our current ongoing topic, I feel it's time to share my basic "testimony," or at least the bare bones of such.  You see, it was through scripture that I came to faith in Christ. 

I am presently cutting down an article originally published in 1981.  Since the magazine is no longer in publication, and since I wrote the article, I figure no one will mind if I edit it, making it fit more into post-size..  and hopefully I will be freshening it up just a bit!

In retrospect, I find this article (the first I ever wrote) thoroughly "cloistered heart."

One way to "carry the fire" of God's truth into the world is to share how we, ourselves, have found it.  As for me, I was agnostic during most of my 20s, thinking that if there were any kind of "god" at all, "it" was nothing more than something akin to electricity.  In a little while, I will share what happened to change my mind.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

It's Time....

I am not writing a typical post today, yet I feel there is something to say.

I suggest that we re-visit To Carry the Fire (click this line)....

And that we take a few minutes to listen to these lyrics...

Then that we carry in our hearts and voices and actions the blazing, brilliant truth of Jesus Christ.  We don't have to look far to find those who are confused, those who've been told that lies are truth and truth is lies, those persons and nations and parts of the world who are in desperate need of prayer.  

There is no time to waste.  Let's go light our world. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

He Found the View

St. Stephen was a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit.   He was chosen to be a waiter of tables, thus freeing the apostles to spread the word of God.  I'm sure he felt deeply honored to be called into a servant's role.   

I, too, am called to be a servant.  Honored to be so?  I'm working on that part.  There have been times when I've felt like "waiting tables" has actually been my sole occupation, on those days when cleaning up from one meal merged right into preparing another.  I would have done well, when my children were small and it seemed I was always "feeding," to have thought about the service of Stephen.  As it was, I simply knew of him as a martyr.

Reading Acts 6 and 7 today, I found a number of things to love about Stephen.  He was deeply spiritual and prudent, he spoke with wisdom; and when he was falsely accused, his face "seemed like that of an angel."  He fearlessly spoke the truth of God, and those who listened were stung to the heart (Acts 7:54).  But did they repent?  It appears not, for they ground their teeth in anger.

And then, as we know, they stoned him.

What does this have to do with living as a cloistered heart?  I would say:  pretty much everything.

I am particularly struck by two main things about St. Stephen.  First:  he was willing to humbly serve by waiting on tables.  At the same time, he fed spiritually, freely sharing the truth of Christ.

Second:  If anyone ever "viewed and responded to circumstances 'through the grille,'" it was Stephen.  Even as his persecutors were grinding their teeth at him, he boldly exclaimed "'Look!... I see an opening in the sky, and the Son of Man standing at God's right hand."  I am sure this acute view of reality buffered the saint's agony as stones were hurled at him.  "As he was being stoned, he could be heard praying, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.'  He fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.'"  (Acts 7:54, 59, 60)

What a way to meet one's Maker. 

I have never had stones thrown at me - not physically, anyway.  But smirks and arguments and snubs for living and speaking the truth of God?  O course.  This has probably happened to all of us.  Even Jesus told us to expect nothing less.  "You will be hated by all on account of Me."  (Matthew 10:22)

When I feel the sting of tiny "she's a religious fanatic" pebbles... from neighbors or relatives or associates of any kind... I hope to remember Stephen.  I ask this great saint to pray for us.

I feel that in St. Stephen, we have another cloistered heart patron.  May he help each of us find the view through the grille. 

Painting:  St. Stephen the Martyr, Vincenzo Foppa, 1500s


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This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Monthly Roundup 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Those Other Days

We have hopefully been able to spend at least some part of our day with God.  Perhaps we've been fortunate enough to receive Him in the Eucharist.  We go forward, strengthened by His presence, inspired with His guidance, encouraged in His love.  On the best of these days, we feel that nothing could pull down our spirits.  Often, nothing can.

And then, there are those other days. 

The weather may not be so good.  There might be a traffic jam in the city as we make our way to work.  We're late getting children to school.   We have errands to run and a grocery stop to make and we realize money is really tight this weekThere's dissension among our co-workers.  The world we face is busy, rushing, bustling, loud, demanding, chaotic, crass, irreverent, and anything... absolutely ANYTHING... but Godly.

This is when we truly reap the benefits of time we've spent in prayer, ideally with Scripture.  This is when a phrase that stood out in prayer might just pop back into our minds, inspiring and strengthening us for the very situation we find ourselves in right now.  

"In Him who is the source of my strength I have strength for everything."  (Philippians 4:13)

"Do not... speak ill of one another."  (James 4:11)

“As for lewd conduct or promiscuousness or lust of any sort, let them not even be mentioned among you…. nor should there be any obscene, silly, or suggestive talk…” (Ephesians 5:3-4)

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

"Whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."  (Philippians 4:8)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Godly Sense

Recently I've been practicing lectio at Mass, praying with the readings before Mass begins.  If possible, I spend some time with these before leaving my house, and again when I get to Church. 

And then, I have the most amazing opportunity.  I shudder to think of the times I've taken it for granted.  I can actually be in the physical presence of Christ Himself, and more than that:  I can receive Him.  I think I would faint were I to really grasp the fullness of this Truth.  I believe it is by the grace of God that He has gently veiled this unutterable Reality.  

Once in awhile, however, Our Lord gives us a glimmer of what's actually happening.  "Mass gave me such a joyful feeling," one of you wrote recently.  "I have not had that feeling at Mass in a very long time.  I felt an incredible sense of God's mercy flowing into me.  It made me feel such sorrow for my sins.  It was not a sad sorrow, like 'woe is me, I am so sinful.'  It was more like a sorrow wrapped in the joy of God's mercy.  If that makes sense."

I think what my friend said makes more than sense.  "Sorrow wrapped in the joy of God's mercy" is Godly sense, the kind of sense that He alone provides.   We find this kind of sense flowing throughout the Scriptures.  It is a knowledge of truth, I think, that reaches well beyond our mere five senses.  We can't come up with this on our own; it is part of our gift of faith.

In the world, we are constantly bombarded with nonsense and partial truths and horrid, unspeakable distortionsIn order to keep perspective in this upside down environment, we need the truth of God always before our eyes.  This, as we well know, takes effort.  It takes tremendous effort.  When so many around us are telling us that dark is in fact light, we can be tempted to question our own perceptions.  That is why I'm thankful for the Body and Blood of Christ that feeds us.  And I am thankful for scripture, nuggets of truth that we can carry in our hearts throughout the day, seeing the world through this, our "grillwork."  

Only God's sense is the sense that makes sense.  I strive to keep it before me.  It is the sensible thing to do.    

"The natural man does not accept what is taught by the Spirit of God.  For him, that is absurdity.  He cannot come to know such teaching because it must be appraised in a spiritual way." (1 Corinthians 2:14) 

"The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as it venerates the Body of the Lord, since from the table both of the Word of God and of the Body of Christ it unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the Bread of Life."  (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

An Act of God

As I've been praying, and writing about, and trying to live lectio divina over these last weeks, there is one part I'd almost forgotten.

Lectio is not a one sided activity.  I read, I talk to God, I commit to Him.  And then....

Something happens.

This is not always a "felt" something.  It may not be perceived by me at all.  But when I am speaking with Jesus and reading His Word and committing myself to live for Him, an amazing thing is going on.  Jesus is actually here.  Not just in my imagination, not by an act of wishful thinking, but He is genuinely here.

I can forget this breathtaking reality when my prayer has been dry or weighed down with distractions.  But Jesus is actually here, regardless of how I feel.  AND...

He is doing something.  Sometimes He brushes my spirit with His presence, sometimes He breathes a word of Scripture into my life, sometimes He lets me see a path I might be called to take.  But always He is here, and always He is acting.

In my lectio yesterday, I thought about doorways.  When I pray with Scripture, I must make a first step, pick up my Bible, and thus open the "door." As I read and pray, I open my heart to Christ more widely.  But it can be hard to keep a door open, especially if it's only slightly ajar.  Its natural tendency may be to swing closed.  I must make an effort to hold it open.  I compare this to the way my mind drifts as I try to hold it open to Christ in prayer.  Sometimes I have to find "props" to help me refocus and keep the door from slamming shut.

But there's one thing I've noticed about doors.  When they are partially open, they often close under their own weight.  Yet when they are opened beyond a certain point, most of them stay open on their own. 

Yesterday I began to feel God's help in keeping the "door" open.  It's almost as if I'd been holding it until my arm had grown tired, and then, quite unexpectedly, Someone took the weight of it from me.

Then, it's as if He walked in.  Somehow, it was as if He stepped more deeply into my life, into my awareness, into my prayer, and quietly led more of the "conversation."  And as impossible as this is to describe, I know I should not use the phrase "as if."  There's no "as if" about it.  Our Lord let me know, in some mysterious way, what I had believed by faith all along..... 

that He is here.  

"Experiences of God are far, far more than anything we can fabricate for ourselves.... when God gives someone the unspeakable experience of Himself in contemplative immersion, He leaves no stone unturned."  (Father Thomas Dubay SM, Fire Within, Ignatius, 1989,  p. 47)

Monday, November 5, 2012

O, Tiny One

As my lectio drew to a close this morning, something happened.

I felt a desire to hold a tiny, tiny newborn.  Being well beyond the age of giving birth myself, I attributed this longing to the fact that my youngest grandchild is now two.  And yes, I think that's part of it.

But it hit me:  this "call to hold" may well be a nudge from God.  I think it is a spiritual call, not a physical one.. and certainly it's in line with the call each of us has (to some degree or other) to pray for and help those in need.

So today I am saying yes, as an act of faith, and I'm "spiritually adopting."  There are so many little ones in imminent danger, ones so tiny that some dismiss them as not human.  There are tiny infants whose parents have been told "there might be something wrong with the fetus.  Our advice is to abort."  There are newborns lying on cold metal tables, their skin burned with saline, ignored because their mothers, after all, did not want to carry them to term.  Leave it alone, a nurse is told, forget it.  It's not a baby.

Not-A-Baby utters a pitiful cry, flails its little arms, reaches out with tiny fingers to grasp its gift of life.  It IS a baby - a tiny, helpless, wounded baby who needs someone to care, to love, to hold. 

Perhaps I am adopting all of them, perhaps there is someone(s) specific, but today I hold out my "arms." I pray for mothers, fathers, grandparents, doctors, government leaders, voters, nurses, abortionists.  I pray for the parents who have just been told their unborn child has an abnormality (see footnote below).  I pray for the unmarried teenager, and her boyfriend, and her frantic parents.  I pray for a change in laws, I pray for a change in hearts.

I swaddle in prayer.  I cuddle with intercession.  I hold a tiny one in my heart, and I say yes.  I will work for you, O tiny one, I'll be your advocate however I can.  And when they come for you to take your life, I will be at your side in prayer...

"The mere probability that a human person is involved would suffice to justify an absolutely clear prohibition of any intervention aimed at killing a human embryo."  Pope John Paul II (Evangelium Vitae)

This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Monthly Round Up

Footnote:  " it is no secret that there is a bias among medical professionals to recommend abortion when test results even hint (often mistakenly) of Down Syndrome" (Father Frank Pavone, emphasis mine)  

Saturday, November 3, 2012

To Sing This Day For God

Having begun my day in conversation with God, I remain in communion with Him wherever I go.  I can be a "portable monastery" - for what IS a monastery, after all, if not a place where God is loved and served and praised?

And so I go forward, into the swirl of life around me.  I go in gratitude, singing silent songs wherever the day may take me.  I carry along the fruits of lectio.

Within my heart, the hymn of praise goes on and on and on.

I am a walking monastery.  A dancing monastery.  A refuge of love for my Lord.

"David, girt with a linen apron, came dancing before the Lord with abandon, as he and all the Israelites were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and the sound of the horn." (2 Samuel 6:14-15)


Friday, November 2, 2012

To Live this Day for God

"To You I pray, O Lord; at dawn You hear my voice.."  (Psalm 5:3)

I know how to do this.  I have learned the basic steps of lectio, of back and forth conversation with God.

And so, if I haven't already:  today I begin.  I may feel dry as dust as I do so, but I make a start.  I take up a bit of scripture, and I read.  I ask God to help me hear what He's saying to my soul.  I read until something strikes me, then I let it sink in.  I realize that God Himself is with me, is really and truly with me.  This is not a game I'm playing, it isn't an empty exercise, it's not a task to be gotten out of the way.  I am in conversation with Almighty God.

I let the words touch me.  I let the Word Himself (John 1:1) speak to my heart.  I talk with Him about whatever I wish.  If I should feel a gentle "touch" from Him (a feeling of being loved, perhaps), I savor it.  I thank Him for it.  If I don't, I thank Him anyway.  I ask Him to help me become more pleasing to Him this day.  I ask to be directed in His paths. 

I shall now go forward, to live this day for God.    

"My soul waits for the Lord, more than sentinels wait for the dawn."  (Psalm 130:6) 



Thursday, November 1, 2012

Until the Day Dawns

"Learn to fix the eye of faith on the divine word of the Holy Scriptures as on 'a light shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the day-star arises in our hearts' " (St. Augustine)