Sunday, October 30, 2016

Let Me Realize What This Means

'Let me recall that God within me is ever awaiting a whispered word, a loving glance, an act of service or of adoration. Let me realize what this means.
It means that:
I need not take a single step in order to put myself in His Presence.
I need not even speak aloud in order to be heard by Him.
The very movement of my will is plain to Him.
His one desire is for my worship never to cease.
From my heart, as from the Tabernacle Lamp, a steady little flame of love should always be ascending.
This love should burn by day and night in storm and calm, while I work or while I rest.
It is the uninterrupted adoration of my soul for the God Who dwells within.
It shows that I am looking at Him and loving Him as He wishes to be looked upon and loved by His children.
So be it!'

(from Listening to the Indwelling Presence, compiled by a Religious, Pellegrini, 1940, p. 39)

Friday, October 28, 2016

A Constant Conversation

'I would like us, in our meditation today, to make up our minds
 once and for all that we need to aspire to become 
contemplative souls, in the street, 
in the midst of our work, 
by maintaining a constant conversation with our God 
and not breaking it off at any time of the day.'

St. Josemaria Escriva

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Dazzling Simplicity of Lectio

What a gift God has given us in Scripture.  What a blessing He continues to give as He opens our hearts to His Word, shedding light into all our dark corners, giving us personal love and peace and truth.  
Yesterday I had a touch of "lectio" without a Bible in front of me.  Having spent a fair amount of time with Scripture over the years, I'm privileged to now have some key chapters committed to memory.  Memorization is something I'm glad to have in my "box of prayer tools" when I find myself with time to pray but no access to a Bible - like once when I was lying in an MRI tube.
With a bit of time to myself (yesterday) but no Bible at hand, I began praying with lines I'd memorized from John's Gospel.  When I came to John 1:5, where it speaks of the Light shining on in darkness, a darkness that has not overcome it, I felt a touch of peace.  No matter what darkness may seem to be around - in the world, the media, my nation or my life - the Light of Christ is shining in the very midst of it.  I was struck by the words "in darkness."  Darkness may indeed be lurking, but His Light is there.

It was a simple exchange, a conversation between my Lord and me... but lectio does not have to be complicated.  Day to day interactions between loved ones are generally not complicated either; sometimes it's wonderful to just bask in each other's presence.

"Today I sat quiet and just opened up to some scripture," wrote one of you, "staying with words from a commentary on the scripture that I was reading.... to 'bask in His Love.'  I reflected on these I  basked in His a cat basking in the Sun of a Winter Day!" - Anita 

"I found myself with a few quiet moments this afternoon," wrote our friend Rose, "so I decided to try a little lectio.  I found a nice sunny spot on the front porch where I could soak up the sunshine.  I closed my eyes, placing myself in the presence of God, feeling His presence in the warmth of the sun.  I picked up my missal and read the readings for today's Mass.  Nothing in the Epistle struck me; but, oh the Responsorial and the Gospel.  The  Responsorial was the Psalm about 'Lord, you know me.  You know when I sit and when I stand.  You knit me in my mother's womb.'  That was followed by the Gospel story of Mary and Martha.  WOW!  Did all of this ever speak to me right now, right where I stand spiritually.  I felt like God was saying, 'I know all about you.  I know how busy you are. I know all that you do. I know it is good to cook and clean and do all that you do but can't you give me a
little Mary time?'  So, I gave God a little Mary time.  And it was wonderful.  I ended my prayer time by taking a nice long walk back to the woods, praying a rosary along the way, singing hymns on my way back.  I arrived back home totally refreshed and ready for two little granddaughters to come play with me for a couple of hours.  What a blessed afternoon." - Rose 

"With these beautiful experiences in mind, I will quote something written on this blog awhile ago, when I spoke of "the dazzling simplicity of Lectio... 

"It does not have to be complicated.  It is God meeting man, God speaking to man. It is the written word of God becoming a fresh, vital, personal, breathed-forth-for-me-at-this-moment word of God.  It is loving, intimate, real.  It is when inspired words of God ring from the page or out of the mouth of a reader and are spoken to ME, here and now. It is my response to the Voice of God as I thank, talk with, love, adore."

May He continue granting us graces to thank, talk with, love, adore.

This is a repost from our archives. It is linked to Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for 'It's Worth Revisiting Wednesday.'


Monday, October 24, 2016

And To The Next Generation

'What we have heard and know, things our ancestors have recounted to us. 
We do not keep them from our children; we recount them to the next generation, 
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord and His strength...'
Psalm 78:3-4

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Without Forcing Your Mind

Do not be distressed if sometimes, or very often,
 you are not consoled by your meditations.
Persevere gently, humbly, patiently,
without forcing your mind.
Read a book when fatigued; 
read a little, then meditate, 
then read a little again, and again meditate... 

St. Francis de Sales

Painting: Friedrich von Amerling, 1835 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

1,000 Darts

'As soon as worldly people see that you wish to follow a devout life, they aim a thousand darts of mockery and even detraction at you. The most malicious of them will slander your conversion as hypocrisy, bigotry, and trickery. They will say that the world has turned against you and being rebuffed by it you have turned to God. Your friends will raise a host of objections which they consider very prudent and charitable. They will tell you that you will become depressed, lose your reputation in the world, be unbearable, and grow old before your time, and that your affairs at home will suffer and you must live in the world like one in the world. They will say that you can save your soul without going to such extremes, and a thousand similar trivialities.' 

St. Francis de Sales

Painting: Stefano Novo, The Gossips

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Which Sweetens All Pains

Painting: Joseph Noel Paton, Christian at the Foot of the Cross, Pilgrim's Progress

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Revisiting The Step

I have tried all day to write this post, and I'm kind of stuck.

Could that be (I wonder) because I, myself, am kind of stuck? We've often said that a person entering physically cloistered life is either in or out. She does not stick her head in and leave her arms and legs dangling outside the enclosure door, perhaps to be brought in at a later date. I find it a helpful image, for I can so easily bring part of my life into the will of God while leaving some of me outside. I might find myself clutching this little worry, that tiny vice, that long held attachment...

Could it be that I've set up camp right on the edge of the doorway? Am I parked on the threshold of living for God - not totally out, but not totally in?

I'm helped by remembering that, in deciding to live "in God's will," I am not simply stepping away from something. I'm not just saying farewell to complacency and sin and compromise so I can become "a better person." No.

I am moving toward something. Or I should say, toward SomeONE. It is for Him that I step through the door into surrender to His will. And all the steps after - all of those stairs and turns and inner doorways that frighten me now with whispers of "but what if this happens," and "what if you lose that" - I will not have to take those steps alone. I will not be by myself as I live within His will.

As I tell God that I want to say a deeper yes to Him, something happens. Christ is the Bridegroom of the soul - and what traditionally happens when the bride arrives at the threshold?

All I have to do is let Him carry me over it in His arms.
"My Jesus, please accept the offering and the sacrifice that I make to You this day, as I once more sincerely offer to You my entire will. Tell me what You want me to do. Your holy grace will help me to do it." (St. Alphonsus Liguori) 

Painting: Vilhelm Hammershoi; 
bottom copy digitally altered using a painting by James Tissot


This is a repost from our archives. It is linked to Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for 'It's Worth Revisiting Wednesday.'

Monday, October 17, 2016

I Want to Find Jesus

'From things visible, I no longer desire anything; I want to find Jesus. Fire and cross, wild beasts, broken bones, lacerated members, a body wholly crushed, and satan's every torment, let them all overwhelm me, if only I reach Christ.' (St Ignatius of Antioch, while being led to martyrdom)

Painting:  Neapolitan School of Painting, Ignatius of Antiochie, 1600s

Sunday, October 16, 2016

I Confide to You a Secret

Someone once wondered why my earliest writings on The Cloistered Heart did not mention saints who'd had ideas somewhat similar to my own. Actually, I'd had no clue that anyone else ever thought such things... at least things with specifically 'cloistered' imagery.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I first read this from Elizabeth of the Trinity: 

'May the God Who is all love be your unchanging dwelling place, your cell, and your cloister in the midst of the world.'

Oh my goodness.  

She also had these things to say

'May nothing distract me from You, neither noise nor diversions. Oh my Master, I would so love to live with You in silence. But what I love above all is to do Your will, and since You want me still to remain in the world, I submit with all my heart for love of You. I offer You the cell of my heart; may it be Your little Bethany. Come rest there.' (St. Elizabeth of the Trinity)
'I confide to you a secret which has made my life on earth an anticipated Heaven: the belief that a Being Whose name is Love is dwelling within us at every moment of the day and night, and that He asks us to live in his company.' (St. Elizabeth of the Trinity)

'Make my soul... Your cherished dwelling place, Your home of rest. Let me never leave You there alone, but keep me there all absorbed in You, in living faith, adoring You.' (St. Elizabeth of the Trinity)

'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.' (St. Elizabeth of the Trinity)

'It seems to me that I have found my heaven on earth, because my heaven is You, my God, and You are in my soul. You in me, and I in You - may this be my motto.' (St. Elizabeth of the Trinity)

'I think that in heaven my mission will be to draw souls by helping them to go out of themselves in order to cling to God by a wholly simple and loving movement, and to keep them in this great silence within.' (St. Elizabeth of the Trinity)

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, on this day of your canonization, please pray for us. May we each be given grace to love and adore the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. May we provide a refuge of love for God always, in the Bethanys of our hearts.

For more information about our new saint, click here

Saturday, October 15, 2016

So Entirely Employed

'There is a self-forgetfulness which is so complete that it really seems as though the soul no longer existed, because it is such that she has neither knowledge nor remembrance that there is either heaven or life or honor for her, so entirely is she employed in seeking the honor of God. It appears that the words which His Majesty addressed to her have produced their effect - namely, that she must take care of His business and He will take care of hers. And thus, happen what may, she does not mind in the least, but lives in so strange a state of forgetfulness that, as I say, she seems no longer to exist, and has no desire to exist - no, absolutely none save when she realizes that she can do something to advance the glory and honor of God, for which she would gladly lay down her life.'

St. Teresa of Avila

Painting: Jose Alcazar Tejedor, Santa Teresa de Jesús, 1884

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Nourishing the Marketplace

"If we don't spend time with God in prayer, then we go empty-handed into the marketplace." 

Hearing these words from a friend, I was reminded of times when I've dashed out without taking time to be with God.  Times when I've decided I was "too busy" to spend even a few minutes with Scripture, too busy to let God feed me with His Word.  Too often I have rushed, malnourished and empty, into the marketplace - bringing nothing to share with others but my own flawed, weak human nature.

If I spend time with God, however, I'm giving the fruit of His Spirit an opportunity to grow.  I am allowing God to strengthen me, causing my life to overflow with goodness that will eventually nourish not just me, but also those around. 

It takes time for fruit to grow.  It takes patience to sit through those dark silent moments of prayer when it seems nothing is happening.  

"The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness, and chastity."  (Galatians 6:22)  We don't have to look far to see that these very things are in scarce supply in our workplaces and schools and governments and towns.  

There is a fruit shortage right before us, right here today.  And it's severe.

I can do something about it, about the shortage, but I can't do it alone.  I cannot manufacture fruit.  I can only come to God in prayer, reading His Word and letting it become living and active in me (Hebrews 4:12), causing the fruit to grow.

Then I can go nourished to the marketplace, carrying Light into the shadows, sharing what God has planted in the secret of my prayer.

This is a slightly edited repost from our archives. It is linked to Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for 'It's Worth Revisiting Wednesday.' 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

So Your Whole Day Will Turn into Worship

'Keep struggling so that the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar 
really becomes the center and root of your interior life, 
and so your whole day will turn into an act of worship - 
an extension of the Mass you have attended 
and a preparation for the next. 
This will then overflow in aspirations, 
visits to the Blessed Sacrament, 
and the offering up of 
your professional work 
and your family life.'

St. Josemaria Escriva

Sunday, October 9, 2016

In the Secrecy of the Soul

I would like to share with you a video I just came across. It's a look inside a Carmelite monastery... in 1959! Even though it was a bit hard for me (with my 'older ears') to hear, I found it a delight. How about you? Click here to see.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

How to Possess Our Share

'Afraid of being left behind in contemporary thought, (we) assent too readily to the conclusions of a humanist and materialist society... 

'The movement of the world slides over our preference for spiritual things, and we wake up to find that we have accepted earthly things at the world's valuation.  It is only the wisdom of the Spirit that can show up the more hidden errors contained in the world's propaganda, and to possess our share of this wisdom, we have to pray.  Prayer alone assures both the light to see and the strength to resist.'

Dom Hubert Van Zeller, the Yoke of Divine Love, Templegate, 1957, p. 36

Friday, October 7, 2016

What Miracles of Grace?

'How do we know what miracles of grace 
we may be the instruments of 
when, full of the love of Christ, 
we strive to foster His life in the 
souls of those committed to our care?'

(from The Living Pyx of Jesus by A Religious, Pelligrini, 1941, p. 305)

Painting: Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, The Grandmother's Birthday

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Revisiting St. Faustina

Several years ago, we looked briefly at a few saints who had a lot to say to 'cloistered hearts.' While these holy ones may never have thought of their hearts as 'cloistered,' indeed that was the reality.

One of these was St. Faustina Kowalska, whose feast we celebrate today.

'I find pleasure, not in large buildings and magnificent structures,' said Jesus to St. Faustina, 'but in a pure and humble heart.'  (Diary #532)

'In the dwelling of my heart is that wilderness to which no creature has access.  There, You alone are King.'  (St. Faustina, Diary #725)

'My heart is a permanent dwelling place for Jesus.  No one but Jesus has access to it.' (St. Faustina, Diary #193)

'Nothing terrifies me, even if the whole world should turn against me.  All adversaries touch only the surface, but they have no entry to the depths, because God, who strengthens me, who fills me, dwells there.'  (St. Faustina, Diary #480)

'Nothing disturbs my union with the Lord, neither conversation with others nor any duties; even if I am to go about settling very important matters, this does not disturb me.  My spirit is with God, and my interior being is filled with God, so I do not look for Him outside myself.  He, the Lord, penetrates my soul just as a ray from the sun penetrates clear glass.  When I was enclosed in my mother's womb, I was not so closely united with her as I am with my God.  There, it was an unawareness; but here it is the fullness of reality and the consciousness of union.'  (St. Faustina, Diary #883)

'My daughter, I want to repose in your heart, because many souls have thrown Me out of their hearts today.'  (Jesus to St. Faustina, #866 )

All quotes above are from Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul by St. Faustina Kowalska, Marians of the Immaculate Conception, Stockbridge, 1996.

This is a slightly edited repost from our archives. It is linked to Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for 'It's Worth Revisiting Wednesday.'

Monday, October 3, 2016

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Ever This Day, Be At My Side

In honor of the feast of the Guardian Angels on October 2nd, I thank God for the holy angels He has given to all of us.