Thursday, May 31, 2018

Revisiting Visitations

The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth is one of my favorite feasts.  On so many levels, it speaks to my life as a cloistered heart.
Mary visited Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56) because she had BEEN Visited by God.  She didn't go to Elizabeth alone - she went with the Presence of Christ inside her.  As one living "cloistered for Jesus" in the midst of the world, I carry Christ inside me as well.  Not in the same unique way, certainly.  But according to Scripture and Church teaching, I indeed carry Him within. 

Mary went on a simple visit to Elizabeth.  It was an occasion that I'm sure went unnoticed by many.  A woman went to visit her kinswoman; something that happened all the time.  No one would have cried out: "look, there goes Mary on mission!" or "how about that!  This visit will be written of in the Bible!"  From the merely human perspective, it was simply a time of normal interaction between two women, two relatives.  

And so it is with us.  You and I have opportunities every single day to visit people with the presence of Christ.  In the everyday activities of life, we visit family members, neighbors, store clerks, callers on the phone. 

I find it extremely helpful when I make a conscious effort to visit these persons with the love of Our Lord.  That is - with an awareness of Christ within me.  I have found that it makes quite a difference in my attitude when I think of things this way.

I ask myself: What might happen if I make a conscious effort to go through today "on visitation?"  

What if I first visit the Lord in prayer, and then specifically visit every person I encounter with the love of Christ?  This does not mean I have to say or do anything that will draw attention.  It can mean that I pray a silent aspiration for the mailman, smile at a harried store clerk, relate to family members with patience.  I might write a note to a friend, send an e-mail of encouragement, call a lonely relative.  

My visitations can be simple and unnoticed.  But as I carry the love of Christ to those around me, it just might be that Heaven will rejoice.

This is a repost from the archives of 5/31/17.  

Sunday, May 20, 2018


'Veni Creator Spiritus!
Breathe on me, life giving Spirit of God,
come as a Wind.
I am dead, quicken Thou me.
I am listless, inoperative, lukewarm, indolent,
revive Thou me.
Sweep from my soul all its torpor,
all its indifference, all its decay.

'Veni Creator Spiritus!
Come as a Fire.
I need the fire that destroyeth all things rank and gross.
Many such elements are in my soul.
I need the fire that purifyeth imperfect motive, inconsistent life.
I need the fire that infuseth new warmth and glow.

'Veni Creator Spiritus!
Come as a Speech.
O, give me utterance that I may tell
the wonderful works of God.
Give me boldness that none may make me afraid.
Give me the grace of witness-bearing,
that my lips may testify gladly
to Christ, my King.
Give me demonstration of spirit,
wide horizons, great prospect, immortality.
Yea, give me a Feast of Pentecost in my soul.
Veni Creator Spiritus!'

     (from Fervorinos from the Lips of the Master, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1940, p. 184) 

Drafted by NS 3/27/14

Sunday, May 6, 2018

What IS a Cloistered Heart?

We ask ourselves the question now and then, in different ways. 

Is 'The Cloistered Heart' an analogy? (yes).  Is it a way of life? (yes).  Is The Cloistered Heart an article, a book, a blog?  Is it Catholic?  Is it people who pray for the Church and the world and one another?  

The Cloistered Heart is basically an analogy in which our lives can be seen as "monasteries," places where God is loved and lived for and served.  

In the world but not of the world.  This is not a new or different idea; rather, it is an emphasizing, a kind of "underlining," of every Christian's call.  The uniqueness of this emphasis is in its monastic imagery. 

The word "cloister" speaks of total consecration.  Those who enter a traditional physical cloister make a tangible break from the world.  Compromise does not fit well in a cloister, nor does lukewarmness, nor does complacency.  The cloistered life is absolute. 

Christians living in the midst of the world are also called to live for God.  But for us, the break is not so clean.  The world is persistent in its tugs on the heart trying to live for God.  We need support in our struggles to surrender our lives to God and to resist the world's allurements.  This is where the imagery of the cloistered heart can be of help.  "If the cloister is in a man's heart, it is immaterial whether the building is actually there.  The cloister in a man's heart means only this: God and the soul."  (from Warriors of God by Walter Nigg, NY, Alfred A. Knopf, 1959, p. 13)

Drafted by NS 8/3/17