Saturday, April 28, 2012

No Harmony of Trebles

'There is in this world a continual interchange of pleasing and afflicting accidents, still keeping their succession of times, and overtaking each other in their several courses. 

No picture can be all drawn of the brightest colors, nor a harmony consorted only of trebles; shadows are needful in expressing of proportions, and the bass is a principal part in perfect music:  the condition of our exile here allows no unmingled joy. 

Our whole life is tempered between sweet and sour, and we must all look for a mixture of both.'

St. Robert Southwell, Letter, 1591

"We know that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him.." (Romans 8:28)

Painting:  Martin Johnson Heade, Jungle Orchids and Hummingbirds, 1872

Thursday, April 26, 2012

May we not fear the Climb

Carmel 1893

Dear Leonie,

"We just listened to a beautiful retreat... the good Father spoke especially about union with Jesus... 'Look at the oaks in our countryside... they spread out their branches to the right and left, nothing hinders them, so they never reach a great height.

"On the contrary, look at the oaks of the forest, hemmed in on all sides; they do not see the light except from on high, so their trunks are without all these deformed branches that draw away the sap necessary to go upward.  The oaks see nothing but the sky above, and all their strength is turned in that direction, so soon they attain a prodigious height....

"The soul has light when it looks upon Heaven, there alone it can rest its gaze, never must it fear climbing too much in this direction.'"  (St. Therese of Lisieux)

The priest quoted here was speaking to the Sisters of their Rule, which hemmed them in and, in effect, pressed them "upward."  God obviously considers all people in need of a Rule, for He has given us Scripture and Church teaching to train us in our growth toward Him. 

Oh, but how often are we cautioned not to "climb too much in that direction?"  Told that religion is okay in its place, fine for nuns and priests (and for us too - on Sundays).  Just don't be a fanatic.  Don't be a goody two-shoes, a spoilsport, a prude. 

"All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.  All are called to holiness: 'Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.' (Matthew 5:48)"  (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2013)

"Christian perfection has but one limit, that of having none."  (St. Gregory of Nyssa, quoted in Catholicism of the Catholic Church #2028)  

Saints, it can be said, have been those without limits.  No limits to their love, no limits to their quest for holiness, no limits as they've allowed God's will and the various circumstances of their lives to press them upward to perfection.

"Follow the saints, because those who follow them will become saints."  (Pope Clement I).  

May we not fear the climb.

Monday, April 23, 2012

To Seal His Oath

"An arch of God's great temple fair thou art,
wrought by some airy builder of the skies;
The sunbeam's secret, wrested from its heart,
and blazed abroad in hues of paradise.
A flaming screed across the heavens flung,
the jeweled autograph of the Most High,
Writ on the sky's wide scroll when earth was young, to seal His oath to centuries gone by."
Sister M. Angeline, "To the Rainbow" 
Albert Beirstadt painting in US public doman                            

Friday, April 20, 2012

Whose Reign is This?

"France 1897; Dear Brother,

I am not at all worried about the future; I am sure God will do His will, it is the only grace I desire.  One must not be more kingly than the King... Jesus has no need of anyone to do His work." (letter from St. Therese of Lisieux)

These words have stopped me in my tracks. They've caused me to take a look around and wonder.  Yes, I've made a choice to let Jesus take His proper position as Lord and King of my life - that is certain.  But in my minute by minute actions, who's really sitting on the throne?

Exactly who is running this life?

I know what I want my answer to be.  But as I sit planning and fretting and occasionally grumbling, I can feel the velvet seat of Command Central beneath me.  It's a position I inherited by birth, being of the line of Adam and Eve.  But King Jesus has offered a better option.

THIS day, THIS moment, in THIS decision - who is on the throne?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dear Little Lyre of Jesus,

1893 - Dear Celine,
    "There is a passage in the Canticle of Canticles which suits perfectly poor little exiled Celine.  Here it is:  'what do you see in the spouse except choirs of music in an army camp?'  Oh yes, my Celine's life is really a field of battle.... and nevertheless, she must sing.  Her life must be a melody, a choir of music....
    Celine is the little lyre of Jesus.  Is a concert complete when no one sings?  Since Jesus is playing, must not Celine sing?  When the tune is sad, then she will sing the song of the exile, and when the tune is joyful, her voice will make the strains of the homeland heard.  
    All that takes place, all the events of life, will be only distant sounds that will not make the little lyre of Jesus vibrate.  Jesus alone has the right to place His divine fingers on it; creatures are means, instruments, but it is the hand of Jesus that conducts everything.  We must see Him alone in everything...
    Oh, dear Celine, what pleasure Jesus has with His little lyre!  He has so few of them in the world; allow Him to rest near you; do not grow tired of singing since Jesus never grows tired of playing.  One day, up above in the homeland, you will see the fruits of your works...
    After having smiled at Jesus in the midst of tears, you will enjoy the rays of His divine Face, and He will still play on His little lyre..."                
                                                                          St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Thursday, April 12, 2012

They Call Across all Boundaries

As I went in search of letters and collections to put "inside the envelopes" on this blog's sidebars, I discovered a particularly interesting book of letters.  A few paragraphs from the Introduction help me remember why I'm so enamored of letters by saints....

"As we read a collection of letters such as this, we make a discovery that opens up new horizons in the Communion of Saints and involves ourselves in a strange and intimate way.  It is that the members of Christ's family recognize and call to one another across all boundaries of space and time; whether they belong to the second century or the nineteenth matters little, for being united by the same love and bound by the same loyalties, they speak the same language.  The saints are not mere memories, over and done with; they are gloriously alive and present..."  (Felicitas Corrigan OSB, The Saints Humanly Speaking, Servant Publications, Ann Arbor, 2000, p.16)

"Follow the tracks of the flock, and pasture the young ones near the shepherds' camps."  (Song of Songs 1:8)

"Since we for our part are surrounded by this cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every encumbrance of sin which clings to us and persevere in running the race which lies ahead."  (Hebrews 12:1)

Monday, April 9, 2012

You've Got Mail!

As part of this blog's new look, I have changed a few pictures on the sidebar:  in particular, the envelopes (and stamps) that I've been using as "decorations." 

I realized, during my recent experiments in Minimal Makeover Blog Edition, that envelopes have a particular function.  They are used to carry messages.  They bring us greetings and surprises and bits of news.

What good is an envelope that will not open?  So now, ours do.  

To open your "mail," just click on any envelope or stamp in the sidebar.  Each will open to take you to an outside link (something other than this blog).  After you check it out, you should be able to get back TO this blog by clicking on the "back arrow" at the upper left of your screen. Each envelope or stamp will take you to a different letter or to a place where you can access writings that may be of interest to you.

But why am I sitting here yammering?  You have mail.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Yep, Same Blog....

There is nothing wrong with your screen.  If you haven't checked in lately, you missed my "let's try this one out shall we.. and then this.. and maybe a shade of that..?" burst of rearranging.  You are indeed one of the lucky ones, who didn't have to endure a seemingly endless string of experimentations with "wallpapers," colors, samplings of different sidebar pictures, furniture shuffling, painting and re-painting of "walls."

Trust me - some of the efforts were pretty not pretty.   

And guess what?  I think I might be done!  I'm back from a Lenten break that wasn't total (I posted a couple of things here after all, because... well.... they were appropriate...).

So here I am, sitting on the floor with splatters of blog-paint in my hair.   So to speak.  Hope you're okay with the new look, which I'll admit that I was personally in need of.  I'm ready to write and read in dark on light, ready for a "fresh new look." It's Spring, after all.  Time to shake off the dust and air out the rooms.  Oh, and the blog content?  That has stayed the same.

Hope you drop back in on Mondayish or Tuesdayish - promptly - when I'll tell you about a few additions (consider them little Easter surprises) you might want to check out. 

In the meantime, may you have a blessed, joyous celebration of Our Lord's Resurrection!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Nourishment of Prayer

"Prayer places our understanding in the divine brightness and exposes our will to the warmth of heavenly love. There is nothing that so effectually purges our understanding of its ignorance and our will of its depraved affections.

"It is the holy water that makes the plants of our good desires grow green and flourish, that cleanses our souls of their imperfections, and that quenches the thirst of passion in our hearts."  (St. Francis de Sales)

"Rejoice in the Lord always!... Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude.  Then God's Peace, which is beyond all understanding, will stand guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:4-7)

(painting in US public domain)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Stay tuned - I'm just rearranging the furniture

You've noticed.  If you have ever looked at this blog before, or if you happen to have checked in more than once today, how could you help but notice?  The background colors and design keep changing, and changing, and changing again.

"There is nothing wrong with your screen."
"There's no reason to adjust your picture."
We are simply experiencing technical operator difficulties quirkiness.

I think I'm having an attack of spring cleaning, that's all.  I am now going back to "square one" and starting all over, with a new template, which should not affect the blog's content at all.  But I do warn you - those who have become accustomed to a dark background may come back here in a day or so and find that this blog has a whole new look.

I repeat:  there will be no change in content, nor in content to come. And if we all hate any "new look" that comes from my dusting and sweeping and painting, no worries - the look may just change again!

"There is nothing wrong with your set."  Stay tuned - you might see several different "looks" that come and go!  Gosh - you'd hate to miss that.... !

The Ladder to Heaven

"The Cross is the ladder to Heaven." 
                             (St. John Vianney) 

"Since He died of love for us, we also should die of love for Him; or, if we cannot die of love, at least we should live for Him alone."   
                                    (St. Francis de Sales)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Our Souls Spread Before Him

"Let us spread before His feet, not garments or soulless palm branches, which delight the eyes for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in His grace, or rather, clothed completely in Him..... let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join today in the children's holy song:  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.  Blessed is the King of Israel."  (St. Andrew of Crete, from Liturgy of the Hours for Palm Sunday) 

This post is part of:
This That and the Other Thing: Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival


("Palm Sunday" painting by Alfred Stevens 1862.  In US public domain)