Tuesday, July 30, 2013

He Loves Me!

God loves me.  The Creator of the universe loves ME.  He tenderly, genuinely cares about ME! 

Do I ever doubt this?  Then maybe it's time for me to have another look through the grille.

"I am the Lord, your God, who grasps your right hand.  It is I who say to you 'fear not, I will help you.'" (Isaiah 41:13)

"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)

"Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you."  (1 Peter 5:7)

"The Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from the snare."  (Psalm 3:26)

"My sheep hear My voice.  I know them, and they follow Me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.  No one shall snatch them out of My hand."  (John10:27-28)

"He who obeys the commandments he has from Me is the one who loves Me, and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father.  I will love him, and reveal Myself to him,''  (John 14:21)

"It is precisely in this that God proves His love for us: that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

"I am sure of this much:  that He who began the good work in you will carry it through to completion, right up to the day of Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 1:6)

"By His wounds, you were healed."  (1 Peter 2:24)

"God is love."  (1 John 4:16)

"Arise, My beloved, and come!  For see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone...." (Song of Songs 2:10-11)

"Ah, you are beautiful, My beloved, ah, you are beautiful!"  (Song of Songs 4:1)

Painting:  Cima da Conegliano, God the Father

You are invited to click here to leave comments in the Parlor   

Monday, July 29, 2013

Jesus is....

Among so many other wondrous "things," Jesus is:

"The Reflection of the Father’s glory, the exact Representation of the Father’s being." (Hebrews 1:3).  

"The Resurrection and the Life." (John 11:25)
"The Bread of Life."  (John 6:35)

"The Word.."(John 1:1)

"The Way, and the Truth, and the Life.."  (John 14:6)

"The True Vine.."  (John 15:1)

"The Good Shepherd." (John 10:7)

“Lord!” (Philippians 2:11)

"The Light of the world." (John 8:12)

"The Messiah."  (Luke 9:20)

"The Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29)

"The Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End."  (Revelation 21:6)

"I AM."  (John 8:58)

Sunday, July 28, 2013


"Who can free me from this body under the power of death?  All praise to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!"  (Romans 7:24-25)

"You can depend on this as worthy of full acceptance:  that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."  (1 Timothy 1:15)

"In His own body He brought your sins to the cross, so that all of us, dead to sin, could live in accord with God's will.  By His wounds, you were healed."  (1 Peter 2:24-25)

"It is in Christ and through His blood that we have been redeemed and our sins forgiven, so immeasurably generous is God's favor to us."  (Ephesians 1:6-7)

"I will forgive their evildoing, and their sins I will remember no more."  (Hebrews 8:12)

"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)

"All of us, gazing on the Lord's glory with unveiled faces, are being transformed from glory to glory into His very image by the Lord Who is the Spirit."  (2 Corinthians 3:18)

James Tissot painting

You are invited to click here to leave comments in the Parlor  

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day by Day, the Choice is Ours

As we view life according to Scripture and Church teaching, we often find ourselves facing choices.  Shall we conduct our lives as the world around us says and does and counsels....  or will we live "through the grille?"  God has given us free will; He doesn't treat us like puppets. 

In essence, two ways of life lie before us.  The world's way or God's way?  Day by day, we are given opportunities to repent, to grow, to change direction.  Day by day, the choice is ours.   

"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.  These are the sins which provoke God's wrath.  Your own conduct was once of this sort, when these sins were your very life.  You must put that aside now:  all the anger and quick temper, the malice, the insults, the foul language.  Stop lying to one another.  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)

Painting: Gustav Jagerspacher Der Zweifler 1921

Friday, July 26, 2013

Your Light Must Shine So That...

"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)

Painting: Martin Ferdinand Quadal

With this post, I am beginning a week-long series of scripture quotes, trusting God to use these to "strengthen our grillwork."  You are invited to click here to join us for comments in the Parlor, and to share (if you wish) scriptures that are particularly meaningful to you.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Repetition Repetition Repetition

I am keeping up with the seven day blogging challenge, even though I'm no longer linked to it.  Yes, it was the link from there that caused the onscreen woes I had here for two days.  Since no one else seems to have had a problem with that link-up (some of the linked blogs are ones I read regularly, and they're all obviously fine), I assume I just had some kind of glitch in my own linkalong!

At any rate, I find it a good discipline to try blogging daily.  Even if I sometimes feel I'm saying the same thing over and over.  I personally learn a lot through repetition repetition repetition.  And the main thing I want to repeat until I have it woven into me is scripture.  Not surprising, is it?  After all, it is my grillwork.   

One of my favorite parts of the Bible shows Jesus Himself relating to trials and temptations through Scripture.  In Matthew 4:1-11, we find Our Lord in the desert.  He is hungry, isolated from human companionship, and surely tired. As we know, various comforts and possibilities are presented to Him.  As we also know, He cites Scripture in response to every temptation placed before his eyes. 

I consider this today and think:  what scriptures are particularly meaningful to me at this moment in time?  What "bars of the grille" do I need right here, today, right now...?

“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)

Repetition.  Repetition.  Repetition.  I pray for grace to stay, stay, stay at "the grille." 

Painting: Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness by James Tissot 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

That Country

'The country 
in which I live
is not my
native country.
lies elsewhere,
and it must 
always be
the center 
of my longings.'

St. Therese of Lisieux

Carl Spitzweg painting

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

His Chosen Sanctuary

'Great acts of love may be accomplished in the small cell of the heart...
  the heart of the true servant of God is His chosen Sanctuary, where He constantly dwells.
  We cannot always be kneeling before the Altar, so He makes His Tabernacle in our hearts.'

from Sheltering the Divine Outcast, compiled by A Religious, Peter Reilly Co., Philadelphia, 1952, pp.154-155

Painting: Charles West Cope


Swaddled in the Grille

"I'll go," I wrote here several days ago, "snatch up my oldest, most bedraggled, well-loved Bible and hold onto it for dear life....."

Well, I did it.  I picked up that Bible, just after posting those words, and began to read.  Knowing I was indeed being called back to Basics, I went straight to my favorite epistle.  I wanted to read not just snatches, but a chunk - a whole book over a matter of days.  So I began Philippians.  But before sharing what happened, I will let you in on something that has been (secretly) troubling me.

Over the years, I've watched some once-prayerful friends make dreadful decisions.  Many of us can relate to this, I'm sure.  We have probably all known someone, maybe a number of someones, who've seemed to love God with all their hearts - and then have made serious choices to walk away from Him.  I don't have to list ways in which this happens, but these all boil down to choosing one's own will over God's.

I have found this worrisome not only for the persons themselves, as has indeed been the case, but also for myself.  After all, if it happened to them..... well, you can complete the rest of that thought...

During times of distraction and spiritual aridity, concerns about my own vulnerability can plague me.  I find myself praying for my own eternal salvation.  Never a bad thing to do, of course, but the troubling part is when I start to actually worry about it.  It is a good thing to realize I can fall, for then I watch out for stumbling blocks and I avoid occasions of sin.  It is not productive, however, to fret and feel gloomy and hopeless and doomed.

So ... with this in the back of my mind, I began to read Philippians.  And there it was.  In chapter 1, verse 6, there it was.  It was as if a bar of my grillwork suddenly reached out and cradled me, enfolding me in the safety of a warm embrace.

"I am sure of this much:  that He who has begun the good work in you will carry it through to completion, right up to the day of Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 1:6)

I can sometimes forget, as I strive to relate to the world "through grillwork," that my grille does more than remind me not to judge nor envy nor slander.  It is also an amazing, tender, loving comforter.

Being made primarily of Scripture, my grille swaddles me firmly in the healing love of God.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Life of the Party

With this post, I'm taking on a one week blogging challenge.  The goal?  To post something here every day... for seven days straight.  But will there be anything to say, every day, for one full week?  

The answer has suddenly come (surprising me as I write this) in the form of a question:

Is there something 'new' in my 'cloister' every day?  Or is the cloistered heart a static idea, set down in stone and unmovable, never changing and thus not affecting my real, nitty-gritty, day-to-day life?

If it is static and unchanging, then I might as well close up shop here, stop blogging, stop all my 'cloistered heart' yammering, and just get on with other things. 

However, if the Cloistered Heart is a vital part OF my life, then my heart monastery is a daily place of residence.  A place of ongoing prayer and responses that change as situations shift around me. It's not just something I write about.  It isn't a spot I retreat to once in awhile so I can feel cozy and prayerful, and then shed like a cocoon so I can go out partying.  

If I am living in a genuine heart-cloister, I do not leave it.  It goes with me TO the party.  The grillwork is between me and every person, every situation, I encounter.  Oh, I will look the same to everyone around me, and I don't have to poke my nose up in the air and announce that Aunt Millie's gossip is offensive.  If I'm living in the cloister, however, I won't add my own juicy tidbits.  I can genuinely enjoy the company of others, and I will do so 'through the grille.'  

As we know, our grille is made of Scripture and the teachings of the Church.  If I am relating to those around me 'through the grille,' I will be joyful (James 1:2), unafraid (Isaiah 43:1-3), thankful
(Ephesians 5:20), not gossipy (James 4:11), charitable (Matthew 25:35), and genuinely loving.  

"Love is patient, love is kind.  Love is not jealous, it does not put on airs, it is not snobbish.  Love is never rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not prone to anger; neither does it brood over injuries.  Love does not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoices with the truth."  (1 Corinthians 13:4-6)

Imagine what our gatherings could be if we related to each other 'through the grille!'

"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life," said Jesus (John 14:4). 

In the world around me, things shift from day to day.  There are happy times and crises, celebrations  and traumas.  There are even parties.  

Into every bit of it, I am called to carry the One Who is Life.

Schikaneder painting
This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Linkup Blitz

Saturday, July 20, 2013

From the Parlor

I hope the most recent Parlor commenters won't mind that I've brought a few of their remarks to this space today (you can see the originals, plus who wrote these, at The Parlor).  After all:  just look at what we've been missing...

"I can so relate to your Back to Basics post. My own grille gets lost in the pile of distractions, especially the ones that come from fatigue. My grille seems to not so much come apart, but gets covered up by those distractions. My worst is TV. I need to go back to my Lenten practice of fasting from it!  As for beating myself up, I have done my share as well. While I certainly can pray more often, harder and better, the devil is the one who likes us to beat ourselves up over our weaknesses. He too is a distraction of sorts. I think too there is the danger of feeling like we are each alone in this battle of distractions. We forget that all of us, even the saints when they walked this earth, battled them. So thank you for this post that reminds us that we all share in this and that if we strive to do our best it is enough. And when we fall short of our best, we can always begin again. The grille is always able to be cleaned up and repaired if need be."

"I can't tell you how I much I struggle with every single thing you said in Back to Basics. Oh, how it helps to know I'm not alone in this battle of distractions ...Over and over I thank St Benedict who teaches we're always beginners. It's me that's not OK with it all when the balance comes undone. I so badly just want to stay focused. Is this where we embrace our humanity and offer our failings to the Lord ?"

"I'm struggling too. I have several apps on my iPad -- Rosary, Divine Office, Magnificat but I can never get around to using them. I don't know why. I have a Rosary CD in the car to listen to on the way to work, I start out good then I get distracted and never turn it back on. I can't seem to find and sustain a daily prayer routine. I'm so glad I'm not the only one."

"God has given us a gift in one another, I'm convinced. I will be praying for everyone here as I go now into the evening.  I, too, have so many things that I don't get around to using.  It seems that a key word with every one of us is distraction, distraction, distraction!!  Thanks be to God that we all know we're not alone. May He polish up our grilles."

"We all can wrap our hands around each and every word you have written, I think. Or maybe I should just speak for my self.  Day to day life is challenging, isn't it? And then add in the host of un-expecteds that come barreling at us (this is real life, right?!) and POOF! Before you know it carefully planned and scheduled prayer and devotion times are up in smoke. For they can be among the first to go, right? Again, speaking for myself."

"Very, very familiar.  But let me share what I have learned. By laying the foundation of strong prayer and devotion in the quieter times, I've been able to better handle the demands of the busier times, when even the best laid plans seem to fall to pieces! I'm able to slip behind that grille a little more easily, in the car, in the company of many, in line at the store, as demands of home and life collide, when I need to most."

"This morning was the first time in weeks that I was able to sit quietly for morning devotions. With no one on my lap. Without nagging thoughts of that neglected blog, or the piles of unfinished projects. A shop needing to be restocked. Concerns about grands, an ailing spouse. Dishes needing to be done, laundry folded. Blogs unread. Even the pups slept in, granting me a bit of reprieve from their immediate needs. It wasn't the morning devotion I had thought it would be, burrowed in Scripture (which I love) but rather a quiet time of meditation and reflection. Right where I needed to be. Right where I believe He needed me to be. And in my heart, I know that sometimes 'the best I can do' is okay, too. The mental prayer throughout the day, the quick ducks behind the grille, regrouping, a chance to focus on God's will for me. At that moment. "

"I gather strength knowing others have the same struggles and that we are able to encourage each other on. Such strength in numbers and the power of prayer. Wishing each of you a grace-filled weekend and peace in your hearts."

Painting:  William Adolphe Bouguereau, The Nut Gatherers (1882)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Back to Basics, Again

I realized it last night.  I saw what had been happening, bit by bit, one distraction at a time, over a period of weeks and (if I'm honest) months.

There has been an erosion of my grillwork.  Oh, not the kind where I question scriptural truth - thank God it has not come to that.  But over time, a steady drip drip drip of distraction has worn down my personal emphasis on Scripture.  There are so many good and worthwhile activities and interests and legitimate amusements, all drawing my attention away from the 'grille.'  There has even been a gradual pileup of devotions - good ones, to be sure - that I feel I must get done and fit in before falling at night into bed.  Not that I've 'done' these all that well - in most cases, I've just wound up feeling guilty because I don't say the exact prayers every day that one or another friend may do.

As I've admitted here before, I can all too often 'beat myself up' about my prayer life.  I don't pray long enough, well enough, hard enough, often enough, with enough structure (or maybe with too much?).

It was as if a fresh breeze swept across me last night, in an instant, and if I could put my perception into a word, I think it just might be: 'ENOUGH!!!' 

Enough self-beating.  Enough saying I don't pray enough.  Enough self condemnation.  Enough getting mired down in distractions.  Just pick up the Bible, open it, and read.  Let God show me that the grillwork of Scripture is still in place.  It hasn't truly eroded (I realize as I write this); it's just that I've let myself get sidetracked.  Not only do I have Bibles in nearly every room of my house; I also have some favorite verses listed under 'Grille' in a stand-alone page on this blog.  I can find 'bars of the grille' without even having to leave this screen.

But leave it, I will.  I'll go snatch up my oldest, most bedraggled, well-loved Bible and hold onto it for dear life, for in it I FIND life.  I know this.  By the grace of God, I know this.

I am being called back to basics.  Again. 

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

Painting: San Luigi Gonzaga, Love for the Word


Monday, July 15, 2013

A House of Prayer

"God chooses a 'Home' within us.  What about your house, your temple, your soul?  Is it a den of thieves or a house of prayer?  Are you robbing God of anything?  Does everything in your castle belong to Him? ...

"Your house is meant to be a house of prayer...  No one holds reign in your heart but Christ.  He should be the great Power urging you on to sanctity.  No other traffic will He allow to be carried on within the temple of your soul but the traffic for eternal wealth...

"Mindful of the Precious Jewel you guard within yourself, you will return to it unceasingly in your thoughts and affections.  There is always present an indefinable loving remembrance of God, as well as a frequent communing with your Divine Guest.  Accustom yourself by your own activity helped by grace, to converse affectionately and very simply with your Beloved."

from Sheltering the Divine Outcast, compiled by A Religious, Peter Reilly Co., Philadelphia, 1952, pp. 81-82

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Spiritual Power

"Work for souls is accomplished, for the most part, in silence.  Its efficiency does not depend upon occupation, position or popularity.  From a humble cell, hidden away in some cloistered nunnery, there radiates spiritual power which influences thousands of souls scattered over the entire world."

from Sheltering the Divine Outcast, compiled by A Religious, Peter Reilly Co., Philadelphia, 1952, p. 56

Painting: Plamondon, Soeur Saint-Alphonse

Friday, July 12, 2013

What Matters Much

"The art of living with God entails more effort and more concentration of purpose in the midst of activity and external work than in surroundings of cloistral prayer and quiet.  Wheresoever God is our chief concern, environment is of little account.... 

"The outward cloister matters little, the inward cloister matters much."

from Sheltering the Divine Outcast, compiled by A Religious, Peter Reilly Co., Philadelphia, 1952, p. 171

Painting: Jean Béraud, Les Grands Boulevards Le Theatre Des Varietes, in US public domain
This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Linkup Blitz 

Light Always Wins

It seems, more and more, that the world around is falling into darkness.  No matter where I turn, I find confusion, godlessness, irreverence, wars, disasters, and a shocking celebration of sin.  

I am distressed that such things even exist.  In the midst of encroaching darkness, my little candle of faith can seem pitifully small.  I don't want to face into the shadows.  What I want to do is - flee....

But Jesus is in my soul.  And He IS the Light.

If I am in a physical cloister filled with light, what happens when I look out through the grille into a darkened foyer?  Does darkness flood in through the "grillwork," turning my light into dark?  No.  That never happens.  

When dark and light encounter one another, there is really no contest.

"There is One greater in you than there is in the world."  (1 John 4:4) 
"The Light shines on in darkness, a darkness that did not overcome it.”  (John 1:5)

Light always wins. 

This is an edited re-post from 2011 


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

In Such a Period

We have looked at God's need for 'fire carriers.'  We hope to stand for the genuine truth of God in the face of every shabby imitation marching boldly toward the limelight.

It is interesting that, decades ago, others saw this time approaching.  Even though he died in 1977, Dietrich von Hildebrand wrote the following:  

"Ours is, I believe, the period of the greatest crisis the world has ever faced, a period in which the anathema has become unpopular and is unfortunately considered as incompatible with charity...

"In such a period, every faithful Catholic who is fully devoted to Christ, to the teaching of the Church, to the deposit of the Catholic faith, to the dogmas, is called to raise his voice in defense of orthodoxy." 

I pray that we will all be given grace to learn, discern, cherish, witness to, reverence and proclaim the glorious fire of God's truth.  

Painting: A Procession in the Catacomb of Callistus
This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Linkup Blitz 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Light for Our Way

Those who remember our earlier discussions of Real vs. artificial light might understand why Pope Francis' first encyclical has given me a real jolt.  A holy jolt, that is: a heavenly flash, a bolt of Godly illumination.  

"In speaking of the light of faith," writes His Holiness, "we can almost hear the objections of many of our contemporaries. In modernity, that light might have been considered sufficient for societies of old, but was felt to be of no use for new times, for a humanity come of age, proud of its rationality and anxious to explore the future in novel ways....  Slowly but surely, however, it would become evident that the light of autonomous reason is not enough to illumine the future; ultimately the future remains shadowy and fraught with fear of the unknown. As a result, humanity renounced the search for a great light, Truth itself, in order to be content with smaller lights which illumine the fleeting moment yet prove incapable of showing the way. Yet in the absence of light everything becomes confused; it is impossible to tell good from evil, or the road to our destination from other roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere... (emphasis mine)"

"There is an urgent need, then, to see once again that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim. The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence. A light this powerful cannot come from ourselves but from a more primordial source: in a word, it must come from God. Faith is born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives. Transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realize that it contains a great promise of fulfilment, and that a vision of the future opens up before us. Faith, received from God as a supernatural gift, becomes a light for our way, guiding our journey through time...." (Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter Lumen Fidei, 2013)

I am practically breathless as I read this.  No, I'm not exaggerating.  For a glimpse into why this has so hit me, click here to check out our earlier post entitled 'To Carry the Fire.'

I hope we can all take a bit of time to read, ponder and pray with Pope Francis' encyclical (available in its entirety here).  
It is time.  Clouds are gathering.  

Let's go light the world. 

This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Linkup Blitz  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

This Mental Gloom Will Pass

"Let us not be turned from prayer because of dearth of feeling, or even because the mind is weighed down by discouragement and distressed by the thought of utter unworthiness.  This mental gloom will pass.  It is something over which we hold no control; the less attention we give it the better."

(from In Love with the Divine Outcast, by a Religious, Pellegrini, Australia, 1934, p. 123)

Painting: Winslow Homer, Woman at the Window, 1872 (detail)
This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Linkup Blitz