SATURDAY READING: Listening by Esther de Waal

June 11, 2016

From Seeking God: The Way of Saint Benedict How great is the freedom to which you are called. Right at the start of the Rule of Saint Benedict had the vivid image of the crowded marketplace and the Lord calling out very loudly, trying to arrest the attention of passers-by in the crowd to what is on offer.  This is an open invitation, a general offer to anyone who cares to stop and listen.  It is not highly selective at all; in fact it is addressed to each of us personally.  The Bible of course presents us with some spectacular calls: Moses was alone in the desert, Samuel was dragged out of sleep, Paul was blinded.  But then Simon and Andrew, James and John were merely at their usual daily jobs, fishing and mending the nets, and Amos [...]

POETRY: In The Hands Of God by Teresa of Ávila

November 25, 2015

Majestic Sovereign, Unending wisdom, Kindness pleasing to my soul; God sublime, one Being Good, Behold this one so vile. Singing of her love to you: What is your order for me to do? Give me, if You will, prayer; Or let me know dryness, And abundance of devotion, Or if not, then barrenness. In you alone, Sovereign Majesty, I find my peace. What is your order for me to do? Yours, you made me, Yours, you saved me, Yours, you endured me, Yours, you called me, Yours, you awaited me, Yours, I did not stray. What is your order for me to do? Give me then wisdom. Or for love, ignorance, Years of abundance, Or hunger and famine. Darkness or sunlight, Move me here or there: What is your order for me to do? Good Lord, what is your order for me to do, [...]

EVELYN UNDERHILL THROUGH LENT: The Three Counsels Considered by Evelyn Underhill

February 21, 2015

From The Fruits of the Spirit First, think of Poverty.  Even outward Poverty, a hard and simple life, the dropping for love’s sake of the many things we feel we “must have” is a great help in the way of the Spirit.  Far more precious is that inward Poverty of which it is the sacrament; which frees us from possessions and possessiveness and does away with the clutch of “the I, the Me, and the Mine” upon our souls.  We can all strive for this internal grace, this attitude of soul, and it is a very important part of the life of prayer.  The Holy Spirit is called the Giver of Gifts and the Father of the Poor; but His cherishing action is only really felt by those who acknowledge their own deep poverty – [...]

EVELYN UNDERHILL THROUGH LENT: The Three Counsels by Evelyn Underhill

February 20, 2015

From The Fruits of the Spirit Each person’s discipline, of course, will be different because what God wants from each of us is different.  Some are called to an active and some to a passive life, some to very homely and some to hard and sacrificial careers, some to quiet suffering.  Only the broad lines will be alike.  But no discipline will be any use to us unless we keep in mind the reason why we are doing this – for the glory of God, and not just for the sake of our own self-improvement or other self-regarding purpose.  Our object is to be what God wants of us, not what we want of Him.  So all that we do must be grounded in worship.  First lift up our eyes to the hills, then turn to our own potato field and lightly fork [...]

ACCEPTANCE: Jesus of Los Angeles, by James Martin

June 12, 2014

From The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything Recently, I made my second thirty-day retreat at a Jesuit house in Los Angeles.  It would be only the second (and maybe the final) time that I would make the full Spiritual Exercises.  Even though I was guarding against too many expectations, I was still worried about “performing” and producing amazing results in prayer, placing upon myself expectations about what I needed to “do” in prayer, rather than leaving it up to [...]

PRAYER: Three Methods Of Attention And Prayer by Saint Simeon, The New Theologian

June 10, 2013

From The Spiritual Instructions of Saint Seraphim of Sarov There are three methods of attention and prayer, by which the soul is uplifted and moves forward, or is cast down and destroyed.  Whoever employs these methods at the right time and in the right way, moves forward; but whoever employs them unwisely and at the wrong time is cast down. Attention should be linked to prayer as inseparably as body is linked to soul.  Attention should go on ahead, spying out the enemy, like a scout.  It should be the first to engage sin in combat, and to oppose evil thoughts entering the soul.  Prayer should follow in its wake, instantly exterminating and destroying all the evil thoughts with which attention has been battling beforehand; for [...]

LENT: Thursday of the Third Week in Lent, by Henri J. M. Nouwen

March 7, 2013

From Show Me The Way Anyone who is not with me is against me; and anyone who does not gather in with me throws away. (Luke 11:23) The spiritual life is a gift.  It is the gift of the Holy Spirit, who lifts us up into the kingdom of God’s love.  But to say that being lifted up into the kingdom of love is a divine gift does not mean that we wait passively until the gift is offered to us.  Jesus tells us to set our hearts on the kingdom.  Setting our hearts on something involves not only serious aspiration but also strong determination.  A spiritual life requires human effort.  The forces that keep pulling us back into a worry-filled life are far from easy to overcome. “How hard it is,” Jesus exclaims, “to enter [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Monday Of The Second Week Of Lent

February 26, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Deaf and dumb Strive to render your mind deaf and dumb at the time or prayer and then you will be able to pray. Invisible Nubians Now Abba Aaron and I rose and came out from the desert, and he took me to a priest to clothe me in the monastic habit.  And when we called inside the priest’s house he came outside and greeted us and took us inside his place.  Right away my father told him about me and immediately the priest shaved the hair from my head and clothed me in the monastic habit.  We rose and went home.  Now my holy father, Aaron, spent a week in helping me lay the foundations for doing work in the service of God.  After a week he said to me, [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Saturday Of The First Week Of Lent

February 24, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  The Holy Cross and the wounds of Christ Our all-holy father and Spirit-bearing Abba John, dead to sin but alive in Christ Jesus our Lord, (Romans 6:11), boldly confessed pride in the Holy Cross and the wounds of Christ, walking in that which was pleasing to Christ’s good will, purifying a temple for the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19) The rock is your father A brother asked Abba Macarius, “tell me what it is to live in obedience, my father.” Abba Macarius said to him, “It is like rock: if you use the rock to crush the wheat and extract all the filth from it, the wheat becomes pure bread.  It is the same with you, my child: the rock is [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Fifth Station — Simon Of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry His Cross, by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin

February 23, 2013

From The Journey to Peace As they led him away, they laid hold of one Simon the Cyrenean who was coming in from the fields.  They put a crossbeam on Simon’s shoulder for him to carry along with Jesus. (Luke 23:26) Jesus Shows Us How to Be Instruments of God’s Love When faced with adversity, some people question God’s fairness.  When faced with a serious problem, others blame their forebears or their peers.  When confronted with social problems associated with great poverty, some people withdraw into the comfort and security of their own homes, overwhelmed by their perceived powerlessness.  When asked to contribute to a charity or to volunteer their time and talents, still others, enslaved by selfishness, complain that they do not [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Fourth Station — Jesus Meets His Mother, by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin

February 23, 2013

From The Journey to Peace Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “this child is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed – and you yourself shall be pierced with a sword – so that the thoughts of many hearts may be laid bare. (Luke 2:34-35) Mary is a Woman of Strength and Courage One cannot really understand our Christian faith unless one accepts and appreciates the Incarnation.  The pivotal point of our faith is the fact that God redeemed us by becoming one of us.  God’s son, Jesus, took his flesh from the Virgin Mary, and he redeemed us through his humanity: It was through his Passion, death, and resurrection that he reconciled us with his father.  As Paul told the [...]

LENT: Thursday of the First Week in Lent, by Henri J. M. Nouwen

February 21, 2013

From Show Me The Way Do not lose your fearlessness now, then, since the reward is so great.  You will need perseverance if you are to do God’s will and gain what he has promised. (Hebrews 10:35-36) Everything we know about Jesus indicates that he was concerned with only one thing: to do the will of his father.  Nothing in the Gospels is as impressive as Jesus’s single-minded obedience to his father.  From his first recorded words in the Temple, “Did you not know that I must be busy with my father’s affairs?” (Luke 2:49), to his last words on the cross, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” (Luke 23:46), Jesus’s only concern was to do the will of his father.  He says, “The [...]

FURSA IN LENT: Day Seven by Paul Wallis

February 20, 2013

From Be Thou My Breastplate May the coming of the Holy Spirit be on this head.  (Fursa’s Breastplate) It is in my head that obedience to Christ must now begin.  To obey the Savior means to obey the words of his teaching in the Holy Scriptures.  It was part of Fursa’s daily life to hold these very words in his head.  It was to the Scriptures above all that the Celtic monk devoted the work of his memory. A portion of Fursa’s every day was spent reading the Scriptures aloud and copying them out.  It was also part of his daily worship to recite the Scriptures from memory.  This is a powerful exercise even today.  Every week pupils learned to read and write with Fursa and his brothers as their tutors and the Holy [...]

LENT: First Sunday in Lent, by Henri J. M. Nouwen

February 17, 2013

From Show Me The Way The Lord your God is the one to whom you must do homage, him alone you must serve. (Matthew 4:10) Jesus’s primary concern was to be obedient to his father, to live constantly in his presence. Only then did it become clear to him what his task was in his relationships with people.  This also is the way he proposes for his apostles: “It is to the glory of my father that you should bear much fruit and then you will be my disciples.” (John 15:8)  Perhaps we must continually remind ourselves that the first commandment requiring us to love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind is indeed the first.  I wonder if we really believe this.  It seems that in fact we live as if we should give [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Second Station — Jesus Bears His Cross, by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin

February 16, 2013

From The Journey to Peace Finally, when they had finished making a fool of him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucifixion. (Matthew 27:32) Suffering and the Cross are at the Heart of Christianity Suffering and the cross are at the very heart of the Christian faith.  In his letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:22-25), Saint Paul tells us about the paradox of the cross.  Suffering and death are signs of human weakness, defeat.  It is for many an obstacle, a scandal, a stumbling block.  But Jesus turned suffering and death into victory. If we are to share in that victory, we, too, must be willing to take up our cross and follow him.  There are, of course, many costs, and risks [...]

ADVENT MEDITATION: Yielding to God by Philip Britts

December 9, 2012

When the wise men, or the kings, came from the East, they went to Jerusalem, the capital, to inquire, “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews?”  And today those who are “wise” make the same mistake in looking to worldly power to solve the world’s problems.  Others go to magnificent cathedrals and follow spiritual paths that appear much more splendid and much more clever than anything which accompanied the birth of Christ. All this is misguided; it concentrates on the question of “how” instead of the question “why.”  We can easily get overwhelmed.  How are we to carry out all the tasks laid upon us; how are we to plan our next year; how shall we find the strength both for securing our economic needs and in [...]

GOD 101: On The Nature Of Obedience

January 23, 2012

To no small degree, it amazed me when, in my early twenties, I began to study God from five perspectives.  These were (1) obedience; (2) surrender; (3) discipline; (4) acceptance; and (5) grace. To illustrate how complex these subjects are, it took me the next forty years to get through the first three.  But, because of my proclivity toward this behavior, studying obedience was not as arduous for me as, say, discipline, for which I appeared to have no clue whatsoever.  (Remember, this is the concept of discipline from God’s point-of-view, not the world’s.  But that is a whole other subject.) Defining obedience is fairly strait forward: obedience is the act of doing what you are told.  One must never forget, however, that [...]

PRAYER: A Prayer To Saint Francis Of Assisi On The Virtue Of Obedience

January 23, 2012

Author unknown Heavenly Father, you have given us the saints to be our models, patrons, and friends.  Today we turn to Saint Francis of Assisi, and as you helped him reflect the image of Christ through his life of poverty and humility, grant us, through his intercession, the graces we so much need for soul and body.  Especially we ask for: (STATE REQUEST).  We also ask your blessings on all those whom we love. May the example of Saint Francis inspire us to grow in holiness as we imitate his joyful love.  We ask this in your merciful love, through the merits of Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. The words of Saint Francis: Holy obedience confounds all the desires of the [...]