Saturday, July 31, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
~"Messenger" by Mary Oliver
Thursday, July 29, 2010
I will live the present moment to the fullest.
I will discern between God and God’s works.
I will hold firmly to one secret: prayer.
I will see in the Holy Eucharist my only power.
I will have only one wisdom: the science of the Cross.
I will remain faithful to my mission in the Church and for the Church as a witness of Jesus Christ.
I will seek the peace the world cannot give.
I will carry out a revolution by renewal in the Holy Spirit.
I will speak one language and wear one uniform: Charity.
I will have one very special love: The Blessed Virgin Mary.
~"Ten Rules of Life" by Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyeãn Vaên Thuaän
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
~Pope John Paul II, Meeting With Youth in New Orleans, Louisiana
Dear Jesus, thank You for giving me the ability and the desire to pray. Thank you, too, for transforming me through prayer, that I may live no longer for myself but for You, and with You, for the Father. Amen.
Friday, July 23, 2010
So what exactly is necessary, we ask? Naturally, we all come up with different answers, depending on our life situations, our duties of state, our personalities and temperament, and so on. Thinking back to this past Sunday's gospel (Lk 10:38-42) about our Lord in the home of Martha and Mary, we see what is specifically necessary for us who follow Christ. "There is need of only one thing," Jesus tells Martha as she frets about Mary's choice to visit with Him rather than to help her in the kitchen. "Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her," Christ explains. This "better part" is what is absolutely necessary for us on a daily basis -- to do as Mary did, to gladly and humbly assume our proper position at the feet of our Master and listen to Him. "Learn from me," our Lord instructs us, and He alone possesses all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. But we can never fully learn until we stop all our hustle and bustle, both exterior and interior, and sit quietly at His feet with empty hands and hearts. Only then, as Mother Marie says, will everything else fall into place and we become "disentangled from the thousand obsessions which harass us by our own fault." Only then will we find the deep and lasting rest for which our weary hearts long.
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:
By waiting and by calm you shall be saved,
in quiet and in trust your strength lies.
But this you did not wish.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
“Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself.” -Isaiah xlv. 15
God, though to Thee our psalm we raise
No answering voice comes from the skies;
To Thee the trembling sinner prays
But no forgiving voice replies;
Our prayer seems lost in desert ways,
Our hymn in the vast silence dies.
We see the glories of the earth
But not the hand that wrought them all:
Night to a myriad worlds gives birth,
Yet like a lighted empty hall
Where stands no host at door or hearth
Vacant creation’s lamps appal.
We guess; we clothe Thee, unseen King,
With attributes we deem are meet;
Each in in his own imagining
Sets up a shadow in Thy seat;
Yet know not how our gifts to bring,
Where seek Thee with unsandalled feet.
And still th’unbroken silence broods
While ages and while aeons run,
As erst upon chaotic floods
The Spirit hovered ere the sun
Had called the seasons’ changeful moods
And life’s first germs from death had won.
And still th’abysses infinite
Surround the peak from which we gaze.
Deep calls to deep, and blackest night
Giddies the soul with blinding daze
That dares to cast its searching sight
On being’s dread and vacant maze.
And Thou art silent, whilst Thy world
Contends about its many creeds
And hosts confront with flags unfurled
And zeal is flushed and pity bleeds
And truth is heard, with tears impearled,
A moaning voice among the reeds.
My hand upon my lips I lay;
The breast’s desponding sob I quell;
I move along life’s tomb-decked way
And listen to the passing bell
Summoning men from speechless day
To death’s more silent, darker spell.
Oh! till Thou givest that sense beyond,
To shew Thee that Thou art, and near,
Let patience with her chastening wand
And lead me child-like by the hand
If still in darkness not in fear.
Speak! whisper to my watching heart
One word-as when a mother speaks
Soft, when she sees her infant start,
Till dimpled joy steals o’er its cheeks.
Then, to behold Thee as Thou art,
I’ll wait till morn eternal breaks.
~Gerard Manley Hopkins
Reading and pondering "Nondum" by Gerard Manley Hopkins reminds me once again that my real life is interior. It does not depend on the exterior. The true life of my soul has very little, if anything, to do with externals, though my heart exults when they give me a glimpse of the hidden God. Nature and art -- God's creation and man's -- are beautiful and glorious. They are, as Hopkins writes in another poem, "charged with the grandeur of God." But I seek God alone. The invisible pales in comparison to the invisible. "That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him" (1 Cor 2:9). This world is lovely, but heaven is my home. Now, I "see through a glass, darkly" (1 Cor 13:11), longing for that endless day when I will finally see my Lord face-to-face. "If still in darkness not in fear...I’ll wait till morn eternal breaks."
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Without prayer, your faith and your love will die. If you are constant in daily prayer and in attendance at Sunday Mass, your love for Jesus will grow. And your heart will know such joy and deep peace as the world could never give you….
Nourish your day with as much prayer as you can and allowing for moments of particular intimacy with the Lord, whether individually or in a group. Only prolonged contact with him can transform each of us inwardly into a disciple of his.
Only by being nourished by long hours of prayer, meditation, concentration, and silent listening to God, will a believer be able to speak to other people about the Divine Mystery, to hand it on, and to bear witness to it in the presence of others….The Gospel reminds us of the need to pray continually and never lose heart (Lk 18:1). So every day, devote a little while to conversing with God, as proof of the fact that you sincerely love him; for love always seeks to be close to the beloved.
This is why prayer must come before everything else. People who do not take this view, who do not put this into practice, cannot plead the excuse of being short of time. What they are is short of love….
~Pope John Paul II
I found the above quote on the Web site for Madonna House. It is a combination of three short excerpts from talks given by Pope John Paul II, two of them to young people and one a homily given in Argentina in 1987. These words speak to today's Gospel (Lk 10:38-42) about Jesus visiting Martha and Mary in their home. Martha was doing what was expected of her -- serving their guest. Mary chose the better part -- being with their guest. Service and presence are not incompatible, but service with anxiety and worry makes presence impossible. As Pope John Paul the Great reminds us, "This is is why prayer must come before everything else." When I make prayer my first priority, being present with my beloved Lord and continually seeking his face and His strength (1 Chron 16:11), only then does my service become a true sacrifice of praise and a gift of God's presence to all. Dear Jesus, may I always seek to be close to You, my Beloved!
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Dear Mary, Virgin of silence and listening, help me to live as you did, in simplicity and humility, listening carefully for the Word of the Lord and doing whatever He tells me, exulting always in His goodness and mercy, and sharing freely of His gifts to me so that others, too, may come to know the wonders of His love. Amen.
Friday, July 16, 2010
"Empty yourself, and see that I am God" (Ps 46:10).
~Archbishop William Bernard Ulathorne
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Who loves the rain
~"Who Loves the Rain" by Frances Shaw
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
The beauty of self-conquest is well worth the arduous climb up and over the mountain of my ego. It's an ongoing adventure with unexpected twists and turns, various pitfalls, and inevitable delays. Only when I reach the top can I see on the other side the green pastures and still waters for which I ardently long -- and the descent to reach them is no easy slide, either. Yet this is a happy journey I gladly continue anew each day as I strive to grow in self-conquest so that Christ may be magnified in me. "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil 1:19). When I remember St. Catherine of Siena's declaration that "All the way to Heaven is Heaven, for He said, 'I am the Way,'" my heart exults and my steps quicken. "The lot marked out for me is my delight" (Ps 16:6). It is enough that I know where I am going, and for whom and with whom I travel. My Lord has prepared for me a lovely dwelling place, where I shall live with Him forever. Goodness and mercy follow me even now as I go from strength to strength. Yes, today and always, "my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God!" (Ps 84:2) Amen! Alleluia!
Monday, July 12, 2010
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. ~Matthew 10:37-39
One of my annual summer activities is to re-read Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. This slim but packed volume is full of beauty so ancient and yet so new. Today's gospel (Mt 10:34-11:1), especially the above lines, reminds me of the chapter on the double-sunrise shell . For Anne, this shell is a symbol of the pure relationship. The first part of every relationship is pure, she says, whether it be with friend or lover, husband or child -- "pure, simple and unencumbered ... a self-enclosed world ... perfect unity." We find this very beautiful for "Its self-enclosed perfection wears the freshness of a spring morning." Naturally we want to "prolong the spring of early love" and thus we resent any change, "even though one knows that transformation is natural and part of the process of life and its evolution."
Anne questions the validity of the pure relationship, and so do I. Or perhaps I should say we question whether such a relationship can be maintained over time. Like Anne, I think not. The pure relationship is lovely while it lasts, but life and love are much larger and infinitely grander. Anne acknowledges the universal truth that we all wish to be loved alone. "Is it such a sin?" she asks, then quotes the Indian philosopher who gave her this wise answer: "It is all right to wish to be loved alone, mutuality is the essence of love. There cannot be others in mutuality. It is only in the time-sense that it is wrong. It is when we desire continuity of being loved alone that we go wrong." Anne adds a further thought from a friend: "There is no one-and only, there are just one-and-only moments."
Anne concludes: "One comes in the end to realize that there is no permanent pure-relationship and there should not be. It is not even something to be desired. The pure relationship is limited, in space and in time. In its essence it implies exclusion. It excludes the rest of life, other relationships, other sides of personality, other responsibilities, other possibilities in the future. It excludes growth." Without growth, there is no life. I do not want to be in a lifeless relationship, no matter how charming and beautiful it may seem at its beginning. Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting (Proverbs 31:30). That is not what I want. I desire the truth which endures unto life everlasting, the truth of life which is love.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
...let us try to give what little we can, to remember to respect the rights of others! Let us strive as much as we can for a charity that is both simple and cordial! When we are bored, let us try to conceal it...when we are pleased, let us openly show it! When our difficulties are even greater than usual, let us accept what the Lord sends with gratitude, and not withdraw into ourselves and cruelly upset and embarrass other people!
Instead of feeling that people lack consideration for us, let us try to feel gratitude every time a contact with our neighbor gives us the joy of a more abundant charity! Instead of always counting on receiving, and often discovering that people give badly and too little, let us try to give, to give ourselves!
~from Joy Out Of Sorrow, by Mother Marie des Douleurs
Today's gospel (Lk 10:25-37) recounts the encounter between our Lord and the scholar of law who wanted to test Jesus and justify himself. When he asks "who is my neighbor," Christ not only answers his question but gives him an imperative -- go and do likewise!
The whole world is my neighbor, every single person. God calls me to love and to serve each individual with truth and mercy. As Mother Marie des Douleurs points out, I must be "preoccupied with giving," so much so that I don't even wonder who my neighbor is. Rather, I simply let the love of Christ urge me on (2 Cor 5:14) to welcome one and all into the "divine bounty" of our Lord, from whose fullness I have received, grace upon grace (Jn 1:16).
Yes, I do have an obligation to love, to be kind and merciful, to give freely and to serve gladly. This is my duty. And, as I am assured in today's first reading from the Old Testament (Deut 30:10-14), it is not too mysterious or remote; indeed, it is very near to me, already in my mouth and heart, that I may do it.
Robert E. Lee said that "Duty is the sublimest word in the language." My duty is not a burden, it is a sacred charge, one of God's gifts to me, and I can and must fulfill it in the most ordinary things of my everyday life. It is enough to give what little I can in the present moment. My duty is not limited to the large and hard tasks, which rarely come my way. In fact, almost all of my life is made up of very small duties, and what a shame it would be to overlook or neglect even the most minute. I can't imagine that Jesus, Mary and Joseph ever did that in their simple, humble life at Nazareth, and I want to be like them in all things.
"Father, let the light of your truth guide us to your kingdom through a world filled with lights contrary to your own. Christian is the name and the Gospel we glory in. May your love make us what you have called us to be. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen." ~Alternate Opening Prayer, 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Saturday, July 10, 2010
like any other child – but unlike others,
wept only for pity, laughed
in joy not triumph.
Compassion and intelligence
fused in her, indivisible.
Called to a destiny more momentous
than any in all of Time,
she did not quail,
a simple, 'How can this be?'
and gravely, courteously,
took to heart the angel’s reply,
the astounding ministry she was offered:
to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power –
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.
Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love –
but who was God.
from "Annunciation" by Denise Levertov
Friday, July 9, 2010
I once sat with my mother for an hour there on a summer evening, waiting to see a moonflower bloom. The plant itself was set in a large ceramic pot on the table, and the flower when it eventually opened was white and headily fragrant, like a camellia. It uncurled in a slow spiral at its appointed time, not smoothly as in time-lapse photography, but with little jerks of motions that were more convincing to me than smoothness, even then. Nature's openings, and her closings, too, are not so easy, in my experience, and are usually anything but smooth. They are hesitant and awkward, and frequently unwilling, even if inevitable. I want to hold my breath at birth and death, each time I come close to them. I want to close my eyes and pray, without certainty of any kind, that everyone involved will somehow make it through.
Nature follows its own timetable and rhythm. So must my own soul. If I try to hurry it along, to assume a rhythm alien to it, nothing good happens. And when my soul is ready to give birth, I must allow for those "little jerks of motions" that may very well feel like upheavals, convulsions that I fear will totally shatter me. They will not, of course, any more than the unsmooth, messy and exhausting birth of the child shatters the weary but grateful mother. My soul will make it through, darkness will give way to light, life will open and blossom forth, and the glory of the Lord will be revealed.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
"At all these pontifical functions they have been playing some weird music on the organ. It reminds me of the stuff you used to hear at the movies before the silent movies went out and the talkies came in. Now I discover that it is the hymn that the faithful sing at Fatima. Mother of God, why do you let these things happen?"
Good grief, he was talking about the hymn "Immaculate Mary"!!! I love that hymn! It sure doesn't sound "weird" to me, especially the way we sing it so happily and enthusiastically at the end of daily Mass in my parish. Ah well, Fr. Louis and I are coming from two different places. Perhaps if I had been in a monastery singing Gregorian chant for seven years, as was his case at the writing of this book, "Immaculate Mary" wouldn't appeal much to me either.
Mother of God, we love you!
Sunday, July 4, 2010
But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which 10 the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. ~Galatians 6:14
If you want to know the power of God (that is, the resurrection life of Jesus) in your human flesh, you must dwell on the tragedy of God. Break away from your personal concern over your own spiritual condition, and with a completely open spirit consider the tragedy of God. Instantly the power of God will be in you. “Look to Me...” (Isaiah 45:22). Pay attention to the external Source and the internal power will be there. We lose power because we don’t focus on the right thing. The effect of the Cross is salvation, sanctification, healing, etc., but we are not to preach any of these. We are to preach “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” ( 1 Corinthians 2:2). The proclaiming of Jesus will do its own work. Concentrate on God’s focal point in your preaching, and even if your listeners seem to pay it no attention, they will never be the same again. If I share my own words, they are of no more importance than your words are to me. But if we share the truth of God with one another, we will encounter it again and again. We have to focus on the great point of spiritual power -- the Cross. If we stay in contact with that center of power, its energy is released in our lives. In holiness movements and spiritual experience meetings, the focus tends to be put not on the Cross of Christ but on the effects of the Cross.
The feebleness of the church is being criticized today, and the criticism is justified. One reason for the feebleness is that there has not been this focus on the true center of spiritual power. We have not dwelt enough on the tragedy of Calvary or on the meaning of redemption.
~from My Utmost for My Highest by Oswald Chambers
Father, in the rising of your Son death gives birth to new life. The sufferings he endured restored hope to a fallen world. Let sin never ensnare us with empty promises of passing joy. Make us one with you always, so that our joy may be holy, and our love may give life. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. ~Alternate Opening Prayer, 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Friday, July 2, 2010
Thus we ought to act towards our neighbor ; to bear his defects with sweet patience and tranquility, to support his coarse, wearisome manners, his spiritual and corporal imperfections, by viewing all in the order of God and in the sweetness of Christian charity. If natural love, when it is well enkindled in the heart, not only renders endurable the defects of the person beloved, but makes them agreeable to us, as we see in mothers with regard to their children, supernatural love, which is incomparably more powerful and nobler, ought to have at least as much power to enable us to support with sweetness the defects of our neighbor. If a mother, as St. Dorotheus very well says, brings forth a deformed child, she does not detest it on account of its deformity; on the contrary, she cherishes it with maternal affection, she strives the more earnestly to make up in various ways for the grace and beauty which nature refused it; so we ought never despise our neighbor, whatever may be his defects and imperfections; we ought to support him as he is, and even go farther, to adorn and embellish him in some manner by our good example, our prayers and our unvarying kindness. ~Father Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure, S.J., in A Treatise on the Knowledge and Love of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Enlarge my heart with love, that I may learn to see how sweet it is to love and to be consumed by love, and to revel in love. Let me be possessed by love, let me rise above myself in an ecstasy of love. Let me sing the song of love, "I will follow Thee, my beloved, upon high." Let my soul be lost in Thy praise, singing aloud to Thee for joy. Let me love Thee far more than myself, and myself only for Thee, and in Thee all that truly love Thee, as it is written in the law of love, which shines upon us through Thee. ~Thomas à Kempis in The Imitation of Christ
Thursday, July 1, 2010
When I read the above passage the other day, I laughed out loud! Why? Because it made me realize how silly it is to become annoyed over the weather. Perhaps this is easy for me to say because, living in Houston, TX as I do, I don't have to deal with the inconvenience of snow and ice come the winter months. Still, the weather here can cause inconveniences but, the fact is, "even if the weather is inconvenient for us, it may be convenient for someone else". It's not all about me.
And then there is the reminder that "the elements themselves are blessing and glorifying God by doing His holy will," which should be reason to rejoice rather than to grumble. Shouldn't I be happy that God's will is being accomplished? And if even the elements are blessing their Creator, shouldn't I, whom God has gifted with a heart and a mind and a will, being doing the same, not now and then but over and over again, every moment of my brief but wonderful life?
O my soul, bless the Lord! "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever! Praise him and give him thanks, because his mercy endures forever!" (Daniel 3:89-90)