Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What Gifts Did I Miss Today?

'At some point during the day, I try to set aside a block of time to spend with God.  I spend time in prayer with Scripture....'

As I continue to concentrate on times in my 'inner choir stall,' I realize that the 'block of time' prayer can be a life-changer.  Yet this is the part of prayer that's most difficult for me.  I sometimes put it off until I'm ready to fall into bed, and then find myself omitting it entirely.

Sometimes I wonder what I might have missed on such days.  What inspiration, guidance and insights did God have waiting for me?  Were there special gifts?  Was there a precious jewel I left, ignored and unwrapped, while I ooohed and aaahed over the world's offerings of glitter and plastic?

We have talked before, here, about prayer with Scripture.  We've also used numerous quotes by the writer known as "A Religious."  Today we will combine the two, as we sit at the feet at this anonymous Religious and listen.....

"1.  Take your New Testament..... Forget everything around you and be, for the time, alone with Him whose life is described here by the Spirit of Love.  He Himself addresses you from these pages with words of profound wisdom and divine compassion; words that have illuminated the centuries of human history with heavenly truth, and melted millions of human hearts to tears of compunction and love, nay more, words that have bound souls to Him with the strongest bonds that could be forged on earth, and thus bound, enabled them to suffer torments for His love....

"2.  Read some words or a few lines very slowly, read them again, and then wait for a moment and ask Jesus what He wants here to reveal to you about His love.  Read them once more, and talk them over quietly with yourself and with Jesus... Keep on doing this until the words begin to live. Be like the lover of music who plays a short, beautiful melody, and repeats it, again and again, until his soul is transformed by the harmony.  

"3.  Meditation from the New Testament will make us know Our Lord as scarcely anything else can do, for the original Author is God Himself, and it contains the history of the Word make flesh, Jesus Christ... The innermost reason for the fruitfulness of God's Word is that Christ is ever living; He is ever the God Who saves and quickens... Love, become great and burning by contact with God, takes possession of the powers of the soul, renders it strong and generous to do perfectly all the Father's will, to give itself up wholly to the divine good pleasure.  What better or more fruitful prayer than this?  What treasures await the searchers of the Gospels!  Oh, if only we knew the gift of God!" (from Fervorinos From Galilee's Hills, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1936, pp. 26-29)

If only we knew, indeed.  I can imagine a giant pile of gifts just stacked up, waiting, gifts of joy and strength and wisdom that I've shoved into a corner; gifts in packages gathering dust.  

Even now, a new one for today is being wrapped and labeled and offered.  Will I toss it aside, ignore it, say I have a lot to do but thank You anyway?  Or will I open it?

I choose.   

Painting:  John William Waterhouse, Saint Cecilia, 1895, detail 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It's a Start

'Upon awakening in the morning, I can enter my choir stall by beginning my day with a prayer.  This is the framework upon which the rest of the day will be woven'. 

This doesn't have to be hard.  For me, it consists of remembering God as soon as I awaken; and, quite simply, of greeting Him.

I used to fret about this.  I wondered if I was doing it "right."  I wanted to be reverent, but "warm and loving and real."  What I have come to realize is that the actual words I say are not as important as the fact that I say something, or think something.  After all, God knows my thoughts and He knows my heart.

I enjoyed a recent Post by Msgr. Charles Pope, wherein he said (here) that one of the nicest descriptions he has heard of prayer comes from Ralph Martin, in the book The Fulfillment of All Desire.  Writes Dr. Martin: "Prayer is, at root, simply paying attention to God."  (p. 121).

Oh, I do love this.  

So:  I begin my day by paying attention to God.  For me, personally, this is not usually my time of lengthy mental prayer.  More accurately, I could say that my morning prayer is divided into two basic sections.  The first is when I wake up, uttering a brief spontaneous sentence or two as I begin the day.  The second part of morning prayer is a bit more formal, when I sit down with Scripture or perhaps some holy reading - maybe when I tuck into my pocket a little book of prayer to refer to and live "a section at a time."  Depending upon the duties of the day, however, the more "formal part" might come in the afternoon or evening. 

Because I don't live in a physical monastery, I cannot expect to adhere to the regular by-the-bell prayer times of those who do.  God does not expect this of me, either.  He expects me to live the vocation He has given me.  In that vocation, however, He does ask that I "pay attention to Him."  If I do so first thing in the morning, I am on track for the day ahead.

It's a start.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Portable Choir Stall

Coming across the following post from nearly two years ago, I realized anew that I truly DO want to live each day in the "choir stall of my heart."  Thinking of things in this way is a help to me.  It forms a kind of "template" with which I can pattern my life of prayer. 

So I've decided.  I'd like to look at each of the following "times in the choir stall" individually, keeping track of how I live (or don't live) each one of them.  I can share my findings here - thus providing some accountability (always a motivation!).  Will anything happen as a result of this?

I promise to let you know.  

It is morning in the monastery.  Sister silently enters the chapel and takes her place in a choir stall, a chair made exclusively to be a place of prayer. 

As the hours move on, Sister will come back and back to the choir stall.  Mid-morning, afternoon, evening, just before bedtime… here she returns to chant praise, participate in Mass, pray with Scripture, meet hour after hour with God.  Sister begins and continues and ends her day here.  She answers the bell’s call to prayer when she feels great and when she has a headache.  She comes to the choir stall when she feels close to God, when she's distracted, and when her spiritual life seems barren and dry. 

I have learned that, in the cloister of my heart, I, too, have a "choir stall."  Mine is a portable place of prayer, traveling with me to supermarket, airplane, mall.   I can "sit down" in this prayer-chair regardless of surroundings, seeking God's touch upon my life and on the lives of those around me.

There are no bells to call me to the choir stall.  I must build reminders into my own life.  For me, discipline is quite difficult; therefore, I find the following practices helpful.  Actually, I find them personally necessary if I hope to keep my life focused and on track:

Upon awakening in the morning, I can enter my choir stall by beginning my day with a prayer.  This is the framework upon which the rest of the day will be woven. 

At some point during the day, I try to set aside a block of time to spend with God.  I spend time in prayer with Scripture. It may also be possible for me to go to Mass or Adoration. "Even if your daily life in the service of mankind is overburdened with work, it has to include time devoted to silence and to prayer…. Learn to pray! "  (Pope John Paul II) 

Throughout the morning, afternoon, and evening, I use brief prayers to return me to my choir stall.  I turn my heart to God with inward phrases of prayer, no matter what I am doing or where I happen to be.  "Jesus, I trust in You…"  "Holy Spirit, be my guide…."

As I begin various activities, I can enter the choir stall by offering my actions to God and imploring His aid.  "O you who fear the Lord, praise Him in the places where you are now.  Change of place does not affect any drawing nearer to God, but wherever you may be, God will come to you." (Gregory of Nyssa).

As I retire, I close the day in my choir stall.  "Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in His peace."  (From Liturgy of the Hours, Night Prayer).

Lord Jesus Christ, I ask You to form in me - anew - a habit of prayer.  Draw me to meet with You day after day, no matter what my circumstances, in the choir stall of my heart.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Just a Heart Determined

                        'Neither skill nor knowledge is required to enable us to go to God,
                        but just a heart determined to turn to Him only,
                        to beat for Him only,
                        and to love Him only.'

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Living Tabernacle


                                                 'I am God's temple,
                                                 my heart is a living Tabernacle,
                                                 and there at each moment I can live
                                                 and act continually
                                                 under His eyes
                                                 and under the vivifying impulse of His love.'

 (from Fervorinos From Galilee's Hills, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1936, p. 72)

 Frederic Leighton painting

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Sound of Eternity

'Song is the leap of mind in the eternal breaking out into sound.'
St. Thomas Aquinas

Painting:  Czigány, The Singing Monk

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What a Joyous Mystery

'What a joyous mystery is your presence within me, in that intimate sanctuary of my soul where I can always find you, even when I do not feel your presence.  Of what importance is feeling?  Perhaps you are all the closer when I feel you less.'

Thursday, October 24, 2013

See That the Lamps are Alight

'Faith tells us that our heart is a Sanctuary, because it is the Temple of God, the dwelling-place of the Holy Trinity.  Let us often visit this Sanctuary, and see that the lamps are alight - that is to say, Faith, Hope and Charity - and frequently stir up our faith when we are studying, working, or eating, when we go to bed, and when we rise, and make aspirations to God.'

St. Paul of the Cross

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

As in a Fortress

"O Jesus, I am locking myself in Your most merciful heart as in a fortress, impregnable against the missiles of my enemies.” (St. Faustina Kowalska, Diary, #1535)

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Planed and Polished

'A monastery is an academy of strict correction, where each one should allow himself to be treated, planed and polished, so that, all the angles being effaced, he may be joined, united, and fastened to the will of God.'

St. Francis deSales

Revisiting the Monastery

                                                                                      (click this line for photo attribution)

I need to be reminded of the fact that, in the midst of this world, I am a "walking monastery."  It is so easy to forget this.  I need help.

Perhaps you're like me, and appreciate a reminder now and then.  If so (and even if not), I hope you'll drop by every day or so during the next (week? week and a half?) for a visual "refresher course."  I expect this little adventure to be practically wordless, although at present I'm not sure.

Some posts may have more than one image.  Some days might offer more than one post.  There could be a video ... a song.... a few words.... a photo.... who knows?

Let's re-visit the cloistered heart monastery.  What do you say?

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Monday, October 21, 2013


Today I returned to Brother Lawrence's liveable wisdom.  Again I'm thankful for my compact, portable edition of The Practice of the Presence of God, one I can tuck away easily in a pocket as I go about my daily activities.  Not only is the content a perfect aid to living (not just reading about, but living) prayer and virtue; but every time I become aware of the booklet's physical presence, I am provided with a silent reminder to practice what I'm reading.

These are the words that jumped out at me today:

"He will come in His own time and when you least expect Him."  (Brother Lawrence)

It is a simple statement.  And it is magnificent.  It gives me hope.

The truth of God is that He will come in His own time, and often when I least expect Him.  The truth is that everything revolves around Him, not around me.  The truth is that no matter how much I may strive, worry, fret, plan, study, doubt, or try to make things happen, He will come in His own time.  AND HE WILL ACT. 

That is the truth.

Painting:  Caravaggio, The Conversion on the Way to Damascus, 1601

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Touch Thou the Lock

'The book' I was heavily quoting is now back with its rightful owner.  We have no cause to be distressed, however, for my generous friend loaned me two more titles by the same author.

I will share, of course!  After all:

'God's grace flows mightily upon us
through the channel of good books....
How shall I find (Your message),
Lord, within the folds?
Unless Thou give the light,
how shall I know
the precious lessons
Thou would have me learn?...
Touch Thou the lock!
Sweet gems of thought shall stream
to flood my soul and waken it to love.
Hear Thou my prayer,
O Lord, that I may see!
I seek but Thee in true simplicity.'

(from Fervorinos from the Lips of the Master, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1940, p. 158)
Painting: Girl Reading, 1909, Edmund Tarbell 
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Thursday, October 17, 2013

For the Divine Outcast, a Home

I have set aside yesterday's reading in favor of a book that will be returning, tomorrow, to its owner.  Today I've tried to live, "several hours at at time," holy snippets of truth from Sheltering the Divine Outcast.  Again, the focus is on LIVING these words of wisdom as the day goes along. 

"Prayer!  The love of the soul for God!  The friendship of God with the soul!  Prayer is the greatest activity of the soul.  There is no occupation that can hinder this activity, unless the soul permits it.  It is a hidden power."  (p. 13)

I have had several things to do and schedule today.  I've managed some housework, done a bit of writing, dealt with a seasonal allergy attack.  In it all, I have reminded myself that no occupation can hinder prayer - unless I permit it.  I've asked myself, over and again:  am I giving my soul permission to abandon its "greatest activity?"  

Interestingly, giving up prayer is more of a temptation when I'm feeling sick and lazy than when I am outwardly busy.  Allergy attacks really throw me.  They can sometimes hit me like 'flu (that sounds dramatic, but it's not an exaggeration).  Do I expect myself to concentrate on prayer while my head pounds and my whole system feels drastically "unwell?"  No, of course not.  At least, not in the same way I might do otherwise.  But I can remind myself that no occupation - even that of lying back with a hammering skull - can keep me from having the intention of prayer.  I can "think" a mental aspiration no matter what my circumstances.   I can remember, even with a pounding head, that the thudding is outside the cloister of my heart. 

Prayer is a hidden power.  I think its power may be most hidden, at times, from the pray-er herself.    

Sheltering the Divine Outcast will go back to its owner tomorrow.  We have had a fruitful visit, this little book and I.  Like a squirrel storing up food for the winter, I expect to spend the rest of this evening just packing away more of its truth .... to be, one nugget at a time, LIVED.  

The book is leaving, but my sheltering is not over.  I pray to provide, for the Divine Outcast, a home. 

"The heart of a true servant of God is a Tabernacle where an unseen God constantly dwells." (p. 51)

"God reads our hearts and that is all He cares about.  He sees in a glance if there is room for Him there, and how much room we will give Him."  (p. 52)

"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?'"  (p. 81)

"Do I retire from time to time, if only for a few seconds, into the inner sanctuary of my heart?  
What would Our Lord do now?
What answer would He give to this question?
How would He behave in my place?
What does He ask of me at this moment?
Such are the questions which will arise of their own accord in a soul eager for the interior life."  (p. 123)

(All quotes above are from Sheltering the Divine Outcast, compiled by A Religious, The Peter Reilly Co, Philadelphia, 1952)

Painting: František Dvořák, Thoughtful Reader

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It's working!  Having a prayerful book to go back to every few hours is beginning to bear fruit! 

Today I was too busy to carry my most recent booklet in a pocket (or at least, I would not have been able to refer to it throughout the day had I done so).  But just remembering this half-formed habit was enough to keep me going.  I particularly recalled words of Brother Lawrence that I'd read two days ago:  " may be sure that soon you will see some results." 

Really, how could I not?

Taking a thought that strikes me, and then making a conscious effort to keep ACTING on that for the following hour or so (this being absolutely key) can be life-changing.  It is a way of moving toward prayer and virtue in manageable baby steps.  For one with a flighty, distractable mind, the constant coming back and refocusing is proving to be a tremendous boost.  

"Soon you will see some results."  These few words gave me such hope during this busy day.  They kept me focused.  They made me remember that this journey toward a life of virtue and prayer is not just up to me.  If I am moving toward God, He's meeting me more than halfway.

This, in itself, is exciting.  It makes my baby steps stronger, my stride more confident, my anticipation more keen.  And who knows?  At any moment, I might just break into a run.

"Draw me after You, and we will run together!"  (Song of Songs 1:4)

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Practice! Practice! Practice!

Today's report: I've had a bit more success.  Maybe I'm not yet turning to God "ten times the more," but I at least have a better sense of where I'm headed, a stronger determination, and a clearer sense of how to use the roadmap I was given to grow in prayer and virtue.  

One thing I'm finding helpful is the use of a booklet small enough to fit in a pocket.  I received this little edition of The Practice of the Presence of God (by Brother Lawrence) as a gift when placing a recent book order.  Perfect timing!  It's compact, slim, and I can take it out at random times to find a word of holy wisdom.  Of course, I want to do more than read the words.  What I'd felt drawn to do (ten days ago) was to read something, and then spend the next hour or two specifically putting that something into practice.

"There is no life in the world happier or more full of delight than one of continual communion with God," I read a little while ago.  "They can only realize it who have practiced and experienced it.  But I do not urge you to seek it for that reason.  We ought not to seek consolations from this practice, but to undertake it from love and because God wills it." 

Reading this, I am determined to pursue this continual communion.  I don't want to settle for now-and-then interaction, nor for prayer-done-so-I-can-get-on-to-other-things.  I want nothing less than continual communion.  I'm tired of halfway measures.

So what have I done in response to reading these sentences today?  How does this work?

I have been speaking to God, in the quiet of my heart, every time I think of Him.  Just doing this has been enlightening, for I realize I think of Him more than I'd known. 

This, however, was not all I read today.  "If I were a preacher," continues Brother Lawrence, "I would preach nothing else but the presence of God.  If I were a director, I would recommend it to everybody: so necessary, and even so easy do I believe it to be."

I haven't reached "easy."  But it strikes me - for the very first time, it strikes me - that easy could be an attainable goal.  I mean:  what would happen if I practiced the presence of God, moment by moment, day by day, every time the thought of doing so occurred to me?

What if I practiced with the diligence of a piano student?  I could do this in several ways.  I might practice God's presence like a half-interested child does while learning music: rushing to get the session over with so she could go out with her friends.  Or perhaps being content to learn a song or two.

I could also take the route of devoting all my energy to it, becoming accomplished, and growing into someone who does more than play a stray melody (or utters a quick prayer) now and then.

I could, with talent and diligence, become Holy in much the same way A Pianist reaches her goal.

God wants me to be holy.  He has already given me (and you) all of the "talent" we need to become so.  But He does ask that we cooperate with His graces; He asks us to do our part.

I don't want God's presence to be an occasional melody heard now and then in my life.  I want it to be the constant, the soundtrack, the recurrent theme, the "always there." 

"Set about this work..." writes Brother Lawrence. "You may be sure that you will soon see some results."  

I'm taking him at his word.

Painting:  George A. Reid, Adagio

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Chapel of Our Heart

'To be with God 
it is not necessary
to be always in church.  
We may make
a chapel of our heart,
whereto to escape 
from time to time
to talk with Him 
quietly, humbly
and lovingly....

'Begin then;
He is waiting 
for a single

Brother Lawrence

Painting: The Haymaker, 
George Elgar Hicks

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

But I Digress

I haven't forgotten.  I know I promised to report back on seeking God ten times the more, and it has been a week now.  I wanted to wait until I felt I'd had some success.


This is where it would be handy to have an emoticon for the word "sigh." Or a way to write it in wistful script, implying a breath of drawn-out longing:  in this case, a sighing for something that seems unattainable.   

But I digress.  Which is appropriate, as digressing is my problem.  To digress, says the dictionary, is to turn aside or wander from the main subject temporarily.

The Main Subject:  God.

Digression:  my distractions even in the midst of trying to turn "ten times the more" to Him.  Do I turn aside from God?  No, not deliberately.  Do I wander from paying attention to Him?  Now that is a good question.  My will, in a time of prayer, may or may not stray.  My mind?  Now there's the great wanderer, the little nomad, the part that goes missing in action without so much as a fare-thee-well.  It can later be found in the most unlikely places, having chased every "wheeeeeeeeeeeee, let's follow this!" mental breeze.   

Temporarily:  the last word in the dictionary definition.  This is a word that gives me hope.  My distractions are not a permanent condition.  It is only when I will not hope in GOD that I become hopeless .... and that, itself, can be a temporary state.  The instant I turn and place my hope in Him - that's the instant when hope is restored.  That is when God has the last word. 

Even when I ask forgiveness of sin, my repented-of failings are rendered "temporary."  Everything in this life will one day fall into that category.

Imagine being able to concentrate fully on the Main Subject, the one thing necessary.

Imagine dwelling eternally where all digressions have ceased.

Painting:  Elizabeth Adela Forbes, The Open Book
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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Give Me Special Grace

                      'O my loving God!  Most Blessed Trinity!
                      Give me special grace to keep You
                      always in the sanctuary of my soul.
                      Wound the very core of my heart
                      with the dart of Your love.
                      Inebriate my spirit with a great personal love for You...
                      Unite me so intimately to Yourself
                      that I will not think or say or do anything
                      without first consulting You.'

                      (from Sheltering the Divine Outcast, compiled by A Religious, The Peter Reilly Co, Philadelphia, 1952, p. 217)

                             Painting:  Schurig Im Gebet, 1889 

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Flee to the Cove

"What heavier burden is there than that which makes the soul descend from its sublime dignity down to the underworld, where all holiness is held in contempt?  Then, my brother, flee all this agitation and misery, and go from the storm of this world to the cove where there is tranquil and certain rest." St. Bruno

These words rushed straight into my heart when I read them today.  Having accepted God's invitation to turn "ten times the more" to seek Him, here I find another "how to."  I could meditate on Bruno's words all day.  

With the grace of God, I WILL meditate on Bruno's words all day.  

The storms of the world swirl around me.  In this time, as in Bruno's, all holiness is held in contempt (I notice that the word used by Bruno is "all," not "some").  Faith is mocked and dismissed, Jesus is discounted, sin is normalized, the sanctity of life is compromised, perversion is used to sell books and music and TV and movies.  We know how it goes.  

I grow so weary at times.  I want to take Bruno's advice and go to a cove.  But of course I can't do that, not in a physical way.  As I ponder these words, however, I see anew the gift of heart-cloister, the gift of living in the haven of God's will.  I see, in the swirling storm surge, a path before me.  Jesus beckons us all to a safe refuge.

Even in the midst of agitation and misery, I can flee.  Surrounded by shadows, I can rush to place my heart in the bright, blazing Light of Jesus.  

In the Cove of His Heart, there is tranquil and certain rest.

Painting:  Jean-Bernard Restout, St. Bruno Praying in the Desert

Friday, October 4, 2013

Ten Times the More: How To

I was beginning to wonder.  Would anything from scripture ever "grab me" again?   Would I settle in for times of Lectio Divina day after day, trying to plug away in prayer, while my thoughts scattered to the winds like seeds from a dandelion?

By now you know that this (this tendency toward distraction) is a recurring theme for me here.  That's because it's a recurring theme for me HERE, in my life, in my mind, in (alas) my times of prayer.  "O Lord, open my lips, and did the mail come yet?  Oh, so sorry, Lord.  Open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim that I really should check e-mail, and I have to make that phone call, and I forgot to write bread on the grocery list....."

I may not be the only one who has ever experienced this.

It may even be that I'm not the only one who feels guilty about it.  Or who, at least, wants help in overcoming it.  I know it's a normal part of the prayer journey, but that doesn't make it particularly comfortable.  For days now, I have read scripture and said a few prayers and then felt there was no particular "take away" to carry me through the rest of my time.

Until today.  Reading (distractedly) the Liturgy of the Hours, I came face to face with this:

"As your hearts have been disposed to stray from God, turn now ten times the more to seek him.."  (Baruch 4:28)

The words pierced right through me.  I felt as if I'd stumbled across a major "how to."  And it's hard to put this into language, for the fruits of Lectio are so often like that.  A scripture jumps right into the heart of one person, while another reads the same words and says "that's nice."  

Here, for me, was a genuine "take-away."  Something I felt God actually used to speak to me; a personal invitation to turn ten times the more to seek Him throughout my day.  Not just this day, but tomorrow as well.. and for who knows how long?

How was I to do that?  I initially had no plan.  But I knew it would involve aspirations at every moment I thought of them, putting a few more brief "prayer appointments" into my day, making sure I didn't say I was "too tired" for a nightime examination of conscience and prayer.

After this breath of fresh air, I caught up on a bit of blog reading.  I was surprised and delighted when today's post at Desert of My Heart led me into conversation with God.  I left the writer, Theresa, a comment, and got this as part of her reply:

"This book is perfect to pick up and to read a paragraph or two which will take you through the next hour or so of your day!" 

The book Theresa refers to is Listening to the Indwelling Presence by A Religious (we have quoted it several times here).  But my "take away" from this was:  I can select any book of prayerful meditations that inspires me, and do this very thing with it.  My heavens; why have I never thought of this before?!  It is simple, and oh, so do-able. 

I can pick up a volume of prayers or saintly thoughts, not just once during a day, but throughout the hours.  It occurs to me, on this eve of St. Faustina's feast day, that I can do that tomorrow with her Diary (a book that definitely lends itself to such use).  I can read a few paragraphs and surely USE them.. taking their inspiration and advice with me into the hour or two following.  

And if I forget or slack off with that, I can always continue with the same thought rather than opening the book again.
I hope this is making sense to someone besides me!  Some of these things are hard to squeeze into the confines of mere language. 

"Turn now ten times the more to seek Him.." 

Ten times the more today.  Ten times the more tomorrow. 

I will report back on how this has gone.   

Painting:  Charles Allston Collins, Convent Thoughts (detail)

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Who's Running This HeartBoat?

'It is only after Christ has been given full control of our heart-boat
that the winds cease.
This is the struggle of our life:  to let Christ rule. 
 So long as He must come over the water to us, there will be lonely struggles; 
but when, through great generosity on our part,
we have emptied our lives of everything that could raise a tempest in the heart,
then Christ will sit at the helm, 
and the waves may toss, 
and the winds blow about the boat,
but we are calm, for we have no cause to fear. 
Christ sits at the helm and rules.'

   (from Sheltering the Divine Outcast, compiled by A Religious, The Peter Reilly Co, Philadelphia, 1952, pp. 138-139)

Painting:  James Tissot, Jesus Stilling the Tempest

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My Guardian Dear

I learned about him in first grade, probably not long after my act of "innocent defiance" (told about today at The Breadbox Letters).  His prayer was the first I memorized from my little catechism.  I was pleased when Sister placed, IN my book, right beside the printed prayer, a shiny gold star!

Happy feast day, guardian angel.
After all you've seen me through,
it is you
who deserves the star. 

Angel of God my guardian dear,
to whom God's love 
commits me here. 
Ever this day be at my side
to light, to guard,
to rule, to guide.  Amen.

Click this line to comment in 'The Parlor'

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My Elevator

"God cannot inspire unrealizable desires.  I can, then, in spite of my littleness, aspire to holiness.

"It is impossible for me to grow up, and so I must bear with myself such as I am with all my imperfections.  But I wanted to seek out a means of going to heaven by a little way, a way that is very straight, very short, and totally new.  We are living now in an age of inventions, and we no longer have to take the trouble of climbing stairs, for an elevator has replaced these very successfully.  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.'

"And so I succeeded.  I felt I had found what I was looking for... the elevator which must raise me to heaven is Your arms, O Jesus!  And for this I had no need to grow up, but rather I had to remain little and become this more and more.

"O my God, You surpassed all my expectations."  

St. Therese of Lisieux

Hamilton Painting; Falling Apple Blossoms, detail; US public domain due to age.  Digitally altered.