Tuesday, September 30, 2014

As in a Beautiful Garden

'Jesus, behold my heart 
which is for You a dwelling place 
to which no one else has entry. 
You alone repose in it, 
as in a beautiful garden.'

St. Faustina, Diary no. 1385

Painting: Mccubbin, Autumn Memories, in US public domain due to age {{PD-1923}}

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Little World Apart

'If He be there within my heart
we form a little world apart,
Just He and I. I rest in Him.
And in His light all else grows dim
that once was beautiful. No art
can charm with Christ within.
When burning pains their arrows dart,
or fevered hours my pulses start,
it is not then as it hath been,
if He be here.

'My quivering soul may feel the smart
of thoughtless word, and my lone heart
drop weakly, but God's strength I win
to nerve myself; and I begin
to play in life the valiant part
of one upraised by sacred power.
Oh! Precious living is the hour,
if He be here.' 

(from Fervorinos From Galilee's Hills, 
by a Religious, Pelligrini, 1936, p.180)
Painting: Victor-Gabriel Gilbert, in US public domain due to age

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Way Through the Walls

Of all the 'series' done on this blog, I've probably gotten the most (personally) from the one on 'walls,' done in Lent of 2013.

I would like the opportunity to go through those reflections again, asking God to lead me, to free me of sin, to heal me of distractions and 'what ifs' - and of anything that may have put a wall between me and Him.

In order to go back through this, I am again linking these posts in chronological order.  If you would like to join in re-visiting these, click this line (or the link below) to open the first post. There will be a line at the bottom of that post, linking it to the next one in the sequence.  And on and on. The links are all to posts within this one blog.

In case anyone might like to re-visit any one particular 'wall,' I am also including the list of posts here, individually.  Clicking any line below will take you directly to that post.

I pray that our Lord, Jesus Christ, will open our hearts wide to His love!

The Door in the Wall

Let's Go In

Lord, Free Me of Sin

The Other Side of That Wall

The Wall of What Ifs

The Wall of Distractions

Sometimes We Need a Little Help

With God's Help, I Can Scale Any Wall

Grabbing the Ropes

I Ask You

The Shattered Wall

To begin the entire series on walls, click here

Photo on this post by C Wells 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

On the Ruins of Self Love

"Sanctity is built on the ruins of self-love, and whenever we go against the natural bent, it is indeed the most noble self-sacrifice....

Are you in a bad humour? Laugh, if possible...

Are you tempted to anger? For the love of Jesus, be very meek and gentle.

Do you wish to avenge yourself? Render good for evil.

Are you disposed to show ill-will to anyone? Manifest great kindness.

Perhaps you are tempted to detract your neighbour? Say only what is good, or keep silence...

Should you feel inclined to speak harshly, let your words be mild and cordial.

Is there an opportunity for a slight revenge, or to inflict a sharp retaliation? Show yourself polite and obliging...

Everything tries and irritates you. Preserve your equanimity....

Indeed, is not our heart an altar whence the incense of sacrifice and our submission to His adorable will unceasingly rises up to God?  What heart could be more pleasing to Him than a heart full of love, constantly offered to Him! For we can always sacrifice upon this altar and offer ourselves with the Son of His Love for His glory and the welfare of souls!

Oh my God, make a saint of me whatever the cost to self may be."

(from Fervorinos from the Lips of the Master, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1940, pp. 139-144)

Painting at top of post: Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Among the Ruins
Heart painting: Philippe de champaigne, detail

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

So Shall This My Matins Be


'A song of praise I offer,
from morn till sunset time,
and so shall this my Matins be
Vespers, Terce, and Prime...

The clatter of startled blackbird,
Trill of birds in trees,
Because I loved them dearly,
My Lord, I offer these...

The rhythm of sharpening sickle
Hum of the mowing machine,
The whirring of the thresher
when the harvest cart comes in...

The cheerful talk of my loved ones,
the sound of men at prayer,
the noise of children calling
in the still summer air.

From sunrise until dusk, O Lord,
accept my praise of Thee.'

(from Fervorinos from the Lips of the Master, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1940, pp. 437-438)

Paintings by Winslow Homer (top), Bruck Vásárra (middle) and Walter Moras (bottom)   

Monday, September 22, 2014

Prayer That Meets the Road

I can't seem to keep my mind off traffic. Which isn't surprising, I suppose, as many of us spend lots of time in the midst of it. It only follows that if we're 'cloistered' at all, we must be cloistered there.

Right there. Right where the rubber truly does meet the road, where drivers lose patience and horns blare and lines of cars come to standstills and roads get slippery and we must remain alert.  And where, all the while, no one around us suspects that our vehicle is a traveling chapel, a monastery on wheels.

Can we maintain a prayerful attitude throughout our day?  Can we, ourselves, be traveling 'monasteries' - places where God is loved and served in the very midst of the world?

I have a feeling that if we can manage this in our rolling sanctuaries, we have a pretty good start.

'It is written of St. Vincent Ferrer: Whether in the streets or in the choir, or his own cell, or preaching,
or on a journey, or whatever he did, he was always tranquil, because he had made an Oratory in his heart, and there conversed uninterruptedly with God, without any outward thing disturbing him." (from Sheltering the Divine Outcast, compiled by A Religious, The Peter Reilly Co, Philadelphia, 1952, p. 90)

'We are, each of us, a Living Cathedral. Each is his own chapel. And provided we are in a state of grace, God lives and dwells within us… we must live and act as if we were dwelling in a church in the presence of the Tabernacle.” (The Living Pyx of Jesus, Pellegrini & Co., Australia,  1941)

Painting: Camille Pissarro, The Boulevard Montmartre at Night, 1897

Friday, September 19, 2014

Where is My Sanctuary?

'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...' (St. Paul of the Cross)  

'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; perhaps He is waiting for a single generous resolution.'  (Brother Lawrence) 

'No other traffic will He allow to be carried on within the temple of your soul but the traffic for eternal wealth... ' (from Sheltering the Divine Outcast, compiled by A Religious, Peter Reilly Co., 1952, pp. 81-82) 

 'A cloistered heart accepts God’s grace to love Jesus Christ in the midst of a world that does not love Him; to embrace His will in a world which does not embrace it. Thus the cloistered heart becomes a place of refuge not only for us, but for Christ Himself. To create such a refuge is a primary part of the cloistered heart’s apostolate. (from book The Cloistered Heart, Nancy Shuman)

'"When you use the analogy of the grille of God’s will and imagine yourself protected by it," wrote our friend Jane some time ago, "you really do see things in a new light. I think a perfect example of this was when I placed myself there on my 40 minute drives back and forth to work, battling very unpleasant traffic."  Jane's car became a monastery on wheels.  It was as if grillwork had been stretched across her windshield. Through the noise and the bustle and the rush and the traffic, her gaze was set firmly on God....' (from Cloistered Heart blog archives, April 2012)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Bumper to Bumper Retreat

I was pretty thrilled to run into a truly practical link today. I thought of how often we've talked, here, of carrying the atmosphere of a retreat into our daily lives. "When you use the analogy of the grille of God’s will and imagine yourself protected by it," wrote our friend Jane some time ago, "you really do see things in a new light. I think a perfect example of this was when I placed myself there on my 40 minute drives back and forth to work, battling very unpleasant traffic."

We've quoted Catherine de Hueck Doherty, who reminded readers of Poustinia that God "can say to someone driving that car bumper to bumper, ‘I will lead you into solitude and there I will speak to your heart.'"

Now I've found something that tells us not only that we can spend time with God even when we're bumper to bumper. It tells us how.

"Many of us uncloistered folk yearn for the silence and spiritual depth which seem to elude our hyper-active world," writes Brandon Vogt; "riches we think are only attainable within a priory......"

Click this link to discover Vogt's Six Ways to Turn Your Commute Into a Daily Retreat 

Photo on this post by L. Maran

Monday, September 15, 2014

Me? Or Jesus?

Such a simple thought. Such a simple question. Such a tough choice sometimes.

Moment by moment throughout each day, I find myself at a crossroads. It's always the same one, when you come right down to it. The crossroads is not in every choice before me... I'm pretty sure I can pick which blouse to wear or what to have for dinner without having to face it.  But in matters like how to spend a certain block of time or what to say about a person or how to treat someone, I often come face to face with it. Although I seldom recognize the question for what it is.

Will I pick me - or Jesus?

Very basic. Do I give time to Our Lord in prayer, or yield to a temptation to check blog stats first? (which almost always proves to be sidetracking).  Shall I offer comfort to someone who's hurting, or tell myself I'm tired and in need of a bit of pampering. Do I tell a story that builds up my own ego, or direct attention to the gifts of another. Are the majority of my thoughts directed to God and His will and His people, or to me and me and me?

Will I pick me - or Jesus?

I prepare to publish this post. I've found three public domain images to use, and I pasted parts of them together into one image and the results don't live up to my expectations. I am a little embarrassed by it, to tell the truth. Yet actually, I think this smooshed together scene conveys the basic idea pretty well. So - do I never let you know of this 'semi-fail' and replace the image with something else?  Or do I go ahead and offer the result to God and let Him use it as He wishes?

Is this post even making sense?  I'm beginning to wonder.  But could it help someone; could it give glory to God, just the way it is?  I suspect it's only my own pride that makes me reluctant to click 'publish.'

The question rises before me. In all kinds of circumstances, large and tiny, the question (if I let myself hear it) is there.

Will I pick me - or Jesus?

In more situations than I'd realized, in ways I hadn't imagined, I keep having the chance to choose.  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Monastic Adventure in Sequence

We all know that blogs 'read backwards.' This is handy when we want to catch up on the latest news from someone. It's a bit tougher to work with if we're trying follow a particular thread of thought. In that case, we probably prefer to read posts in the order in which they were written.

This summer, we've looked into various monastic topics. As you may recall, we tried a basic 'format' for each subject.  The sequence went something like this: 

1.  Physically Cloistered  
2.  Spiritually Cloistered 
3.  Scripture and/or Saints Speak
4.  How We are Living This

Something like this does not become 'dated.' Therefore, I've linked these topics in chronological order, just as I did for the 'monastic days' we recently re-visited. We can click on any topic below, then read from post to post (approximately two to five posts on each topic).

I invite anyone who cares to do so to click on any subject that might be of interest.  At the bottom of that post, there will be another link, and on and on. 

Monasticism, Physical and Spiritual

The Monastery


Inside the Walls

The View Through The Grille

The Chapel

The Choir Stall

A Brief Retreat

The Garden               

In the Habit

Total Commitment

In The Cell

Prayer: Staying on Track

The Lighter Side (recreation)

Our Refuge 

Pictures on this post in public domain

This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Linkup Blitz

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

No Other Foundation

               'Jesus, our Savior, true God and true Man, must be the ultimate end of all our devotions.
               Otherwise they would be false and misleading.
               He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End of everything...
               He is the only Teacher from whom we must learn,
               the only Lord on whom we should depend,
               the only Head to whom we should be united,
               and the only Model we should imitate.
               He's the only Physician who can heal us;
               the only Shepherd who can feed us;
               the only Way that can lead us;
               the only Truth we can believe;
               the only Life that can animate us.
               He alone is everything to us, and He alone can satisfy all our desires.
               We are given no other name under heaven by which we can be saved.
               God has laid no other foundation than Jesus for our salvation, perfection and glory.
               Every edifice that is not built on that firm Rock
               is built upon shifting sands and will certainly fall.' 

                    St. Louis de Montfort

                    Painting by Heinrich Hofmann

Monday, September 8, 2014

Right Before My Eyes

Studying Art history in college, I wondered why we spent a good chunk of the semester concentrating on Catholic church architecture. This was especially puzzling because I was in a State University, and the teacher was outspoken about her own atheism.

In time, I understood. Churches are built to "speak." They are meant (or they were once upon a time) to proclaim the Word of God to all who enter their spaces. They are intended to offer, along with the printed or spoken words uttered within them, a special language of their own. Even the youngest and least educated among us should be able to in some way "get" this language, for in large part it is visual. It communicates to us the Truth that we have entered a sacred space, where we're invited to participate in the life of the world to come. Stained glass windows block distractions from the world outside. Statues help us realize the fact that we live, day to day, surrounded by saints and angels.  Paintings remind us of truth we cannot perceive with eyes of flesh.

Heaven knows, we need reminders. In this distracting, hurried, confusing world, we need reminders.

I think of these reminders as "visual lectio."

Not being in a geographical situation where I "see" this visual lectio often anymore, I miss it.  But I like knowing that someday, somewhere, I might just walk into a church building and look up at a magnificent window and - lo and behold! - find a subject for meditation.  Right before my very eyes.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

What is Lectio Divina?

Painting:  Friedrich Adolf Hornemann Lesender, Mönch, in US public domain due to age  {{PD-1923}

Just what IS Lectio Divina?  Is it something I can practice in my ordinary daily life?

The answer to the second question is "yes." The answer to the first can be found in this series of archived posts, now arranged in chronological order. These were originally compiled as our third and last "monastic day." I find it helpful to re-visit them, and for that reason am glad they're now linked together so I can easily get to them in sequence. 

To begin the sequence, click on the following link, which will lead to another post within this blog.  At the end of that post, click on the link provided.... and on and on.

I pray that we will each encounter, more deeply, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

To begin "A Day of Lectio," click this line

Painting: František Dvořák, in US public domain due to age {{PD-1923}}

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Our Second Monastic Day: in Sequence

Because it is handy to have our "first monastic day" sequenced, I've done this with the second one we used.   

We've gone through several such "days" in the past. So while anyone who cares to do so is browsing through the first two, I will continue working behind the scenes to put the others in sequential order as well.

To begin our "next" monastic day, click on the link just below.  At the end of that post, there will be another link.... and on and on as each post appears.

As before, we will look at how we can live as cloistered hearts in the midst of our everyday lives.

To begin our 
second monastic day, click this line

Photo on this post by Connie Wells

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Our Monastic Day: in Sequence

Several years ago, we offered a series of posts that I called 'Our Monastic Day.'  It was our own little cloistered-in-the-midst-of-the-world-horarium, looking into how we can offer our own days to God morning through night. 

Reading another blog recently, I discovered a story that I was able to read in actual chronological order. The blogger simply gave a link to one post, and then linked from there to the next part of the story, and on and on.  No jumping back and forth, no reading in backwards-sequence (as blogs do)... just beginning and then continuing on if one wanted to do so. I loved it. I would like to try it.

I'd like to go back over our monastic day (a kind of cloistered-heart-refresher), and why re-invent the cloister wheel?

So I invite anyone who cares to go through a day in-the-cloister-in-the-world, little by little, to begin at the link below.  At the bottom of that link, there will be another link, and on and on.  When we get to Compline and the singing of the Salve Regina, we'll know that 'day' is done.

And for those who weren't around for our 'Parlor' comments-blog, I apologize for any confusion.  Comments are now open right here, but we've left the Parlor open in case anyone ever wants to go back and see what was discussed there.

Let's try this, shall we?   

To begin reading "Our Monastic Day," click this line