Sunday, August 31, 2014

Keep That Altar in Your Hearts

I have an old book, a paperback whose crispy yellowed pages are held together by rubber bands. As far as I can tell, the title is now out of print. I found the story (a true one) riveting when I read it some years ago, so I typed out fragments of it.  I ran across one of these pages today, and immediately wanted to share something from it here.

The story is of a Sister Cecilia, who helped other Christians flee persecution in the second world war. 
Sister's convent had been torn apart, and these words were spoken by the priest during the last Mass in the chapel... 

'Don't lose faith in God... 
build your own altar in your heart,
an altar which no human hands can tear down as they have torn these paintings down, 
which nobody can destroy as this altar has been destroyed.  
Keep that altar in your hearts.'   
(from The Deliverance of Sister Cecilia as told to William Brinkley, Signet/New American Library, 1954)

This link tells more about the title.  And, thanks to a kind commenter, this link might help anyone interested in doing so to find a copy of the book.

In the meantime, I hope to carry that last sentence with me. No matter where we are, ever; or what happens around us, ever: 

We can keep that altar in our hearts. 

Photo on this post by Connie Wells


  1. Amen, Nancy! And even if they tear out the heart...the altar remains untouched in the true 'heart' of the spirit! xx

  2. It's so awful to hear about this sort of persecution, Nancy, but in a strange way, it seems more encouraging than complacency. Maybe, there's more hope in overcoming evil than in stirring hearts that are indifferent. For me, I think that sufferings force me into the inner altar more as, without them, I'm easily distracted and complacent, too.

    1. Vicky, thank you so much. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Indifference is a major enemy (it has been for me, at least), and distractions - oh, how they abound!

  3. Excellent post Nancy! I look forward to reading more!

    God bless you,

    John Paul Bender

  4. What a beautiful image, building an altar in my heart.

    The book is available used, from Amazon.

    1. Thank you, and thanks so much for providing this link!

  5. 60 years ago, my 4th grade teacher read "Deliverance of Sister Cecelia"
    to our class, a few pages every day. It remains ever in my heart.
    Kathleen Sexton

    1. Kathleen, the book obviously did make an impression on you! Your teacher did the class a great favor reading such an inspiring book to all of you. It make an impression on me also, but I was an adult when I read it (I found it in a used books store). Mine is a mass market paperback, and every few pages I turned fell right out of the binding as I read them. But I was riveted, which is why I copied typed parts of it so I would be able to keep them.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing this!


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