Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What I Didn't Miss

One day, I scheduled a good sized block of minutes for uninterrupted concentration on God. I actually try to do this regularly, but on this day in particular I was ready and waiting. I had even dug through my bookshelves for an unused journal (I have several waiting in the wings) in order to make notes of What I Did Not Miss.

I sat with a list of suggestions on how to pray with Scripture and opened my Bible to a reading from the Gospel of Luke. I read a few lines slowly, and waited. I read the lines again, and waited. I asked Jesus what He wanted to reveal to me, and I waited. 'Keep on doing this until the words begin to live,' the anonymous Religious had suggested. So I did.

The words I read were good words, holy words, straight-from-the-written-Word-of-God-words, and I received them with gratitude. I thanked God for the words, and for His written word, and for gifts I was aware of and gifts I didn't know I was receiving.

But did the words live? From my perspective, that did not seem to be the case.

However, from the perspective of the way things really ARE, the words were alive indeed - and I knew that. 'For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any two-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.' (Matthew 4:12)

Did I feel any different because of the words I had read, or because of the prayers I prayed as a result of reading them? No, I cannot say that I did. Is the word of God living and active even when I do not feel it?  Yes, absolutely.

I didn't feel different because of this particular time of prayer, but the truth is: I had encountered God. I'd met and spoken with God. How could such a reality leave me unaffected?

God's word is alive, and that is an objective fact. Not everyone accepts it as fact, but that doesn't make it any less true. God has said it. 'The Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord's Body.... In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet His children, and talks with them.' (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 103-104)

I am happy to report that in many of my prayer times through the years, I've felt words of Scripture stirring and leaping in my heart and mind. I've had some sense of the Father coming to meet me, His child. But it's interesting. That is not the experience I've felt drawn to report on here.

I would rather share my intense gratitude for the gifts of that quieter day, when I knew in a deeper way that God's word IS living and active. I'm thankful for the gift of realizing that God has gifts for me, whether or not I see or hear or feel them.

How glad I am that, on that quieter day, I took time to be with God.

There were gifts, solid gifts. I would hate to have missed them.


Painting: Nicolae Vermont, 1919

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, June 26, 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017

An Abyss of Love

'This divine heart is an abyss filled with all blessings, and into it the poor should submerge all their needs. It is an abyss of joy in which all of us can immerse our sorrows. It is an abyss of lowliness to counteract our foolishness, an abyss of mercy for the wretched, an abyss of love to meet our every need.'  St. Margaret Mary

'Since there is in the Sacred Heart a symbol and sensible image of the infinite love of Jesus Christ which moves us to love one another, therefore it is fit and proper that we should consecrate ourselves to His most Sacred Heart - an act which is nothing else than an offering and a binding of oneself to Jesus Christ, seeing that whatever honor, veneration and love is given to this divine Heart is really and truly given to Christ Himself.' Pope Leo XIII

'O Sacred Heart of Jesus, fountain of eternal life, Your Heart is a glowing furnace of Love. You are my refuge and my sanctuary. O my adorable and Loving Savior, consume my heart with the burning fire with which Yours is aflame. Pour down on my soul those graces which flow from Your love. Let my heart be united with Yours. Let my will be conformed to Yours in all things. May Your will be the rule of all my desires and actions.'   St. Gertrude the Great

'Every time I hear anyone speak of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or of the Blessed Sacrament, I feel an indescribable joy. It is as if a wave of precious memories, sweet affections and joyful hopes swept over my poor person, making me tremble with happiness and filling my soul with tenderness. These are loving appeals from Jesus Who wants me wholeheartedly there, at the source of all goodness, His Sacred Heart throbbing mysteriously behind the Eucharistic veils. I love to repeat today 'Sweet Heart of Jesus, make me love You more and more.''  Pope St. John XXIII

'Do not let the past disturb you, just leave everything in the Sacred Heart and begin again with joy.' St. Teresa of Calcutta

Monday, June 19, 2017

Of Jesus Concealed

'In a world where there is so much noise, so much bewilderment, there is a need for silent adoration of Jesus concealed in the Host. Be assiduous in the prayer of adoration and teach it to the faithful. It is a source of comfort and light, particularly to those who are suffering.'

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Painting: Henri Alphonse Louis Laurent-Desrousseaux

Sunday, June 18, 2017

There Are Certain Things

'There are certain things which lose their fragrance in the open air, 
certain thoughts so intimate that they cannot be translated into earthly 
language without losing at once their deep and heavenly meaning. 
How lovely it was, that first kiss of Jesus in my heart - 
it was truly a kiss of love. I knew that I was loved 
and said 'I love You, and I give myself to You forever.' 

St Therese of Lisieux

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Breath of Home

My goal is to go through the world carrying Jesus in my heart.  To remain cloaked in an atmosphere of prayer wherever I may be, whatever I happen to be doing.

Not unlike an astronaut, I carry the oxygen of my Homeland with me, breathing it in and out with every silent prayer.

And I wonder: can it change a family, a workplace, a city, if a person is praying in the midst of it?
Of course it can; of course it inevitably does.  Such is an apostolate of a cloistered heart, carried to a family, into rush hour traffic, onto a bus.

It is “living Jesus” no matter where one happens to be. 

"Always remember… to retire at various times into the solitude of your own heart even while outwardly engaged in discussions or transactions with others. This mental solitude cannot be violated by the many people who surround you since they are not standing around your heart but only around your body. Your heart remains alone in the presence of God.” (St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life).

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, June 12, 2017

A New Life of Friendship

'A change comes in the soul when it begins to really recognize Who it is that dwells in her. A new life of affection begins a new life of intimate friendship.

Intimate friends are characterized by mutual benevolence: each one makes the interest of the other the subject of his thoughts and of his plans...

In such manner should we live in the intimacy of our Divine Guest. We should turn to him frequently, to speak of ourselves, our sorrows, our joys. We should, in all simplicity, as between friends, tell Him of our anxieties, our needs, our plans, our projects.

But we should speak to Him also of His own interests and especially of the salvation of souls, which is God's great desire. We should beg His grace, the grace of the Faith, for those outside the Church, and the grace of Hope and Charity for those inside the Church. By so doing, we are making the interests of our Divine Guest our own.

Some may think that such a life of Union with God is only for saints, that a life of intimacy in which the soul constantly turns to God, as to a loving and beloved guest, is not for the ordinary faithful. This view is incorrect.

Intimacy with God is not for the saints only, it is for all of us.

God dwells in each soul which is in the state of grace and calls each of us to be united to Him in intimate friendship.'

(from 'Listening to the Indwelling Presence' by a Religious, Pelligrini, 1940, pp. 62-63)

Painting: Gaspar de Crayer, The Vision of St Theresa of Avila

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Choosing the Grille

I've just rediscovered the following, written several years ago by a friend who also seeks to see and respond to life "through the grillwork of the will of God".....

"Some sections of my grille seem to be growing stronger.  These sections are those that deal with world issues, politics, even criticisms and crises in the Church.  It used to be that such issues as these reached through my grille and almost strangled me.  I do not ignore these situations but now I seem to be better able to turn them over to God.  If there is an action to take, I take that action with prayer.  Otherwise, I pray for Gods mercy and then I surrender it to God's will... 

"The area of my grille that seems weakest is the section dealing with the world closest to me, that is, my family.  There is always someone or some situation reaching through my grille.  My grille is worn thin.  Some bars are splintered.  My grille often seems to be stretched and misshapen so that I no longer recognize those little crosses that are supposed to be holding my grille together.  It feels like hands, arms and legs are reaching through the grille tangling with each other while trying to entrap me... 

"The point is: it is easier for me to surrender to God the earth-shaking issues of the world than it is for me to surrender the simple, everyday issues of my family life..."

I say to my friend, and to anyone reading this: oh, how I identify. Especially in recent weeks, as I've been dealing with a bit of physical illness, I find myself scrambling to focus on God's truth about circumstances in which I find myself.  Am I in discomfort today? My initial reaction (my family can tell you) is to panic and fret. It then takes prayer and a concentrated effort for me to settle down and even begin to look for "the grille." I am happy to report, however, that years of practice have paid off, that memorized bits of Scripture do come to mind when needed, and that I can make the choice to react to situations as God asks me to.

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no fruit, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights." (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

"We know that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his decree." (Romans 8:28)
"I consider the sufferings of the present to be as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18)

Painting at top: Henri Lebasque, 1937

Friday, June 9, 2017

Grounded on the Word of God

I heard someone speak recently about the importance of Scripture, and I decided that now might be a good time to check on my "grillwork.'

In our analogy, a "cloistered heart" is a person who wants to live totally for God with no ifs, no ands, no buts. Our life is our monastery. Our cloister, or "enclosure," is the will of God in which we choose to dwell.

Our "grille" is also the will of God, through which we seek to view and respond to all of life. Just as some who live in physical enclosures interact with the world outside through panels of grillwork, we can view and respond to each situation and every person through the "grillwork of the will of God"  as revealed in Scripture and Church teaching.

It is all very basic. It's all very simple. It is an analogy which has been developing for more than thirty years now, and I strive to live it. Yet how quickly my eyes can drift away from looking at everything through Scripture. It takes just one roll of the spiritual eyeballs, and my focus has changed.

Someone once told me of reading Scripture to a man who was in panic as he faced a dangerous surgical procedure. The man's countenance was seen to change as he was presented with the word of God. He was given grillwork!

I must have my grillwork. How do I make sure I have it, and that it's set firmly in place before my spiritual eyes?

I find and strengthen my grillwork by prayerfully reading Scripture. "Speaking of the importance of the word of God as nourishment for the spiritual life, Vatican C II says: 'Prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that God and man may talk together, for we speak to Him when we pray; we hear Him when we read the divine sayings. The reading serves as a beginning, a point of departure for the interior dialogue: the written word then becomes a living word with which God Himself lights up the depths of the recollected soul, making it understand its meaning and its  practical application for daily life. Thus, the soul advances from reading to the attitude of Mary of Bethany, who, seated at the Lord's feet, listened to His teaching. This is the precious listening which Jesus calls the 'one thing needful... the good portion..,' meaning that an hour spent listening to the words of eternal life is worth more than a thousand worldly accomplishments. Then spontaneously, the listening opens into prayer, which is the response of the soul to the Lord's word and light: adherence, acceptance, renunciation, and an impulse of love for God, renewed fervor in serving Him, resolution to do good, and thanksgiving. Sacred Scripture, particularly the Gospel, texts of the missal and breviary offer most beautiful and useful themes for meditation precisely because they are the word of God and the word of the Church.'" (Divine Intimacy Vol II by Father Gabriel OCD, Ignatius Press 1987, p. 147)

I pray that God will provide His grillwork for all of us, that we may see and respond to every situation and every person through His will. I pray that we each shall know, love, embrace, hunger for, live His holy word.  

"The Christian faith is grounded on the Word of God. This is what places it in the sovereign degree of certainty, as having the warrant of that eternal and infallible Truth. Faith which rests on anything else is not Christian." (St. Francis de Sales, The Catholic Controversy, TAN, 1989, p 83)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Pause a Minute...

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.'   

Friday, June 2, 2017

In the Depth of Center

'For my part I keep myself retired with Him
in the depth of centre of my soul as much as I can; 
and while I am so with Him I fear nothing; 
but the least turning from Him is insupportable.'

Brother Lawrence