Monday, December 30, 2013

Time for Transformation


          'So this year has disappeared into the abyss where all the others have gone.
          How desirable is eternity when we consider these miserable and fleeting changes!
          Let the time pass by as we, little by little, run with it to be transformed
          into the glory of the children of God.'

St. Francis de Sales

Painting of Mary Magdalene, in public domain

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Pattern for my Pebbles

In the third century, Tertullian wrote that the blood of the martyrs is seed for the Church.  It was seed that God planted from the beginning.  St. Paul endured imprisonments, beatings, stoning; St. John was exiled on the island of Patmos; St. Peter was allegedly crucified upside down.

It all began with Stephen.

"Those who listened to (Stephen's) words were stung to the heart; they ground their teeth in anger at him.  Stephen meanwhile, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked to the sky above and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God's right hand.  'Look!' he exclaimed, 'I see an opening in the sky, and the Son of Man standing at God's right hand.' The onlookers were shouting aloud, holding their hands over their ears as they did so.  Then they rushed at him as one man, dragged him out of the city, and began to stone him.  The witnesses meanwhile were piling their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.  As Stephen was being stoned he could be heard saying, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.'  He fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.'  And with that he died."  (Acts 7:54-60)

Surely his acute view of reality buffered Stephen's agony as stones were hurled at him.  He was given grace appropriate to the situation, just at the moment he needed it.

I like to remember this.  When I face a trial, God is there.  He gives me just the glimpse of Him that I need, exactly when I need it.  I know this through faith, and I know it from experience.  God stands ready with what I need.

I have never been pelted with physical stones, but I've endured a few pebbles.  Smirks and snubs for living and speaking the truth of God.  I like to remember that Jesus told us to expect nothing less.  "You will be hated by all on account of Me."  (Matthew 10:22).

I pray to remember the example of Stephen.  What a grace that the words of this first Christian martyr were written down:  leaving, in effect, a pattern for all who would come after him.  He looked at God, not at the situation.  He prayed.  He forgave.  And his actions were witnessed by one who would turn, in time, to God.

Stephen's pattern for dealing with stones is just as much a pattern for the pebbles.

Look to God.



And God stands ready with what we need.

Painting:  Giorgio Vasari, Martyrdom of St Stephen

In honor of today's feast, this was a re-post from our archives

Thursday, December 19, 2013

If Christmas Finds You Hurting

It's a bad time of year to be hurting.  Not that there is a good time for pain, of course, but the weeks around Christmas and New Year's can be particularly poignant for some.

I know of what I speak.  While sparing you my life story (for now at least; consider such sparing a temporary gift), I will say that I've had a couple of Christmases in which I just wanted to hide away to wait out that year's crop of holly-jolly songs and plastic bows and ho-ho-hos. 

I suspect many of us have had such seasons.  Times when we can't be with loved ones, or a parent or sibling or close friend or spouse has died, or we've suffered a miscarriage, or we're sick, or we've lost our job, or there is illness in the family.  Even the time of year can make us feel blue.  Here in the northern hemisphere, night falls early in these months of bleak midwinter (I personally never adjust well to the long long long long dark).

I am thankful to be celebrating comfortably this year.  But for anyone reading this who is sad, in pain, or maybe just wishing the holidays would be over and gone - know that you're not alone.

In fact, you are so "not alone" that I'm going to ask a favor of everyone reading this.

Could we each take just a minute and offer a little prayer for anyone coming across these words who might be hurting?  If this gets to a number of people, that could amount to quite a few prayers.

May God lift burdens, heal pains, comfort loneliness, and soothe hearts.  In the Name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, I pray... 

'We beseech You, Lord and Master, be our help and succor, save those among us who are in tribulations, have mercy on the lowly, lift up the fallen, show Yourself to the needy, heal the ungodly; convert the wanderers of Your people, feed the hungry, release our prisoners, raise up the weak, comfort the fainthearted, let all nations know You are God.'  (St. Clement of Rome)

'Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for You.' (1 Peter 5:7)

Painting:  Karl Ferdinand Sohn

This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Monthly Linkup

Monday, December 16, 2013

On the Morning of Confession

'When our Lord is with us, 
light is poured abroad
on life's path, 
light is shed around
in the house of our soul,
His own living Tabernacle.... 

'On the morning of Confession, 
show Him round the house; 
show Him what needs repair;
show Him where thieves 
break in and steal; 
be busy telling Him all, 
and beg of Him the grace 
of perfect contrition.'

(from Fervorinos From Galilee's Hills, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1936, p. 223)

This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Monthly Linkup

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Is There Room?

Sometimes, at this time of year, a question drifts into my mind.  It's always the same. 

"Is there room in Your heart for Me?" 

I immediately think of innkeepers.  I think of a house in Bethlehem where travelers once lodged, where no room was found when the time came for Jesus to be born.

Christ is in my heart; this I know.  But sometimes I wonder.  Am I providing a place of welcome and adoration?  Or could it be that I've allowed my heart to become cluttered with so many other things that I have little room in my life for Christ Himself.

The inn in Bethlehem was not filled with "bad" people on the night Mary and Joseph arrived seeking shelter.  It had no room for the holy family only because others had gotten there first.

Does Jesus find little space in some of my days simply because the hours fill up with everything else first?

Do I get up in the morning and put off prayer until I get one thing accomplished, and then one more thing - and do I ever find that the day has sped by without my spending any time at all in communication with God?  I am deeply ashamed to admit that more often than I care to mention, this has been the case.

My heart seems, today, like a manger filled with clutter.  Sometimes it's as if there's no room in it for the most important Person in the universe.   Just imagine the "logic" of that.  And so I come today to Jesus, asking HIM to clear out all the distractions.   I ask our Blessed Mother, who so tenderly prepared a place for Jesus, to help prepare my heart to be a fitting refuge for my Lord.  May she re-arrange my priorities as one might arrange pieces of straw in a manger.

As my Christmas gift this year, I ask that the same be done for you.  I ask that all our hearts be prepared as places of loving refuge for the King and Messiah Whose birth we are about to celebrate.

The world did not welcome Him when He came to earth as an infant; it does not welcome Him still.  You and I have the opportunity of welcoming Him in a world that does not do so.

May our hearts prepare Him room.

This post is a slightly edited version of one first published on The Cloistered Heart blog in December, 2011.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Perfect Temple

'Blessed is He 
Who dwelt in the womb,
and wrought within it 
a perfect Temple
so that He might dwell in it,
a Throne 
so that He might be seated in it, 
a Garment 
so that He might be arrayed in it, 
and a Weapon 
so that He might conquer through it!'

St. Ephraem the Syrian

A hat tip to Melanie at the Association of Catholic Women Bloggers, where I found this painting.  Original source unknown.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Though I Do Not Understand

                         'In pastures green?
                         Not always; sometimes He
                         Who knoweth best, in kindness leadeth me
                         in weary ways, where heavy shadows be;
                         out of the sunshine, warm and soft and bright,
                         out of the sunshine into darkest night.
                         I oft would faint with sorrow and affright,
                         only for this:  I know He holds my hand.
                         So whether in green or desert land
                         I trust Him, though I do not understand.'

                  (from Fervorinos From Galilee's Hills, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1936, p. 227)

Painting:  Vasnetsov Snegurochka; in US public domain due to age

This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Monthly Linkup

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Letter to St. Nicholas

Re-blogged from The Cloistered Heart, 2011: 

Dear Saint Nicholas,

My wish this year is not like what I’ve asked for before.  I'm not writing to ask for candy or trinkets.  This year I have but one wish:  I want to be a candle.

I want to stand tall and firm, carrying the Light of Christ even when winds and storms lash about me.  You see, good St. Nicholas, the world has grown terribly dark.  We talk of peace and sing of peace, yet rumors of wars swirl all around.  We’re busy and distracted, we have no time left over to pray.  We get confused about what is truth and what is not; we redefine sin and call it “choice” and “entertainment,” and there is more darkness around than I could tell you about.  In fact, there’s more darkness than I can even see.  It can be hard to peer into darkness, and I feel sometimes like a child at night who wants to cover her head with blankets and wait for morning light.  I need the light; the world needs the light.  So I want to be a candle.

Like a pillar of flame standing beside the Tabernacle in a monastery, lifting firelight fingers high in adoration, I want to offer praise to God.  Like a sanctuary light gently calling attention to the fact that Jesus is with us, I want to keep vigil by His side and call attention to Him.  I would like to flicker softly, as a gentle reminder of His presence, no matter where I may be.  So I want to be a candle.

I know I am asking a lot.  I know that in order for the Flame to increase, a candle must decrease.  A candle gives itself for the Fire; it gives its all.  That’s okay.  You see, I want to live my life for God.  I am not so good at the doing of this, but with the grace of God I’m getting better at the wanting. 

And I want to be a candle….

“The light came into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were wicked.  Everyone who practices evil hates the light; he does not come near it, for fear his deeds will be exposed.  But he who acts in truth comes into the light, to make clear that his deeds are done in God.” (John 3:19-21)

reblogged at

This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Monthly Linkup

public domain photo 

Monday, December 2, 2013

What To Do When Envy Bites

                           'In this land of exile, when our path is often steep and rugged,
                           a word of encouragement... is an untold treasure.
                           Let us then be quick to see the good done
                           by those with whom we live,
                           especially in the case of those whose talents and attractions
                           are superior to our own.
                           Maybe we have basked in the sunshine of approval and appreciation
                           till another comes along and puts us in the shade.
                           Let us beware, then, of envy with its killing power,
                           its positive fury, the sharpness of its tooth, the depth of its bite....
                           When we feel we are put on one side,
                           and another who takes our place is much more loved and appreciated,
                           let us not only love and thank God for it all,
                           but pray fervently that God will bless that other,
                           and make her work a great success for His glory.'

(from Fervorinos From Galilee's Hills, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1936, pp. 110-111)

Painting: Degas, danseuses

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Behold, He is Coming

'Like a secret told by angels,
 getting known upon the earth,  
is the Mother's expectation
of Messiah's speedy birth.'
(F. Faber, "Our Lady's Expectations")  

Painting:  Arthur Joseph Gaskin, Annnciation

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Worship Alone

'Worship alone 
sets us
truly free.'

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Caravaggio painting (detail)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

In All Things Give Him Thanks

'In all created things discern 
the providence and wisdom of God, 
and in all things give Him thanks.'

St. Teresa of Avila

Monet painting

Friday, November 22, 2013


'Each of our impulses,
when it takes control,
becomes the master
and we the slave.
Like a tyrant it seizes
the citadel of the soul,
and by means of its underlings
plays havoc with its subjects,
using our own thoughts
as the servants
of its good pleasure.'

St. Gregory of Nyssa

'And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.  Amen.'

Painting:  Rippl, Sorrow; in US public domain due to age

Thursday, November 21, 2013

And There Are Books

It's a time of year when minds of young men and old women lightly turn to thoughts of books. 

Yes, I made that sentence up all by myself.

Perhaps I could put it this way.  The air outside is chilling.  Darkness falls early.  There's frost on the punkin, snow in the forecast, a crackling fire beneath the mantel, and a cup of warm tea by my side. 

And of course, a book.

This is also a time when we're thinking about Christmas gifts. Dolls and scooters and toy airplanes (I bought one of each this morning; shhhh, don't tell..). And what better gift than a book?

But there are books, and there are books.  Some transport us to worlds of wonder, and we soar through their pages on words spun together like threads in fine tapestries.  Others read more like a string of sentences akin to the first one in this post.  Not likely to be on any bestseller lists, they. 

Of course, bestseller lists are not the best places to find good reading material.  I know such news is not a shock to anyone reading this, and there are certainly exceptions, but many highly popular offerings are not worth our time (at best) and can (at worst) be harmful to our lives of faith.

I think St. John Bosco gave us perfect guidance on the matter when he wrote "Never read books you aren't sure about... even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view.  Let me ask you this: would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?" 

After my recent post on spiritual reading material, I’ve been thinking of writings that have struck me in some way.  Here are just a few, with links to more information about each. 

The Fulfillment of All Desire by Ralph Martin. An inspiring look at growth in holiness, using the works of seven Doctors of the Church.  One of my favorite books of all time.

Fire Within by Father Thomas Dubay SM. I love anything by Father Dubay, but this one is my favorite.  

Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal, Letters of Spiritual Direction helped me know (and love) both of these saints as human beings. 

And then there are the following three titles, which had me burning the proverbial midnight oil.  I found them (the first in particular) as riveting as novels -  probably because the stories are true.  

Unplanned by Abby Johnson

Mother Angelica... by Raymond Arroyo

A Right to be Merry by Mother Mary Francis PCC.  I love Mother's humor! This was written in the (1950s?), but the life has changed little, and hey: a smile is still a smile.....

I want to feed my mind with things that will lead me toward God, never away from Him.  One of the most comprehensive helps I've found, for when I'm considering various topics and even (a few) authors, is a list of links on the Women of Grace Blog.  Even though it does not list specific titles, it does deal with subject matter we might run into when we're considering spiritual books.  I once heard it said that "lies are more believable when they're built on a foundation of half truths."  So I am grateful for the help that can be found by clicking here.

I write this as winds begin to stir outside.  I have a hard time adjusting to this season of early darkness.  My old clock keeps up a steady tick; it chimes on the hour, but never correctly (we decided to call this idiosyncrasy "charming").  I have chamomile tea, a soft afghan, and of course - a book.  

Long Sigh.

Painting:  St Cecilia (detail), John William Waterhouse 

This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Monthly Linkup

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Looking for Something Good to Read?

Look no further!  To find a varied assortment of inspirational blog posts, we can click this line and hop over to Catholic Spirituality Blogs Network.  There, we'll find links to the twenty nominations for the first-ever Frankie Award.  "Frankie" refers, appropriately enough, to St. Francis de Sales - patron of Catholic writers.

We can even vote if we wish.  And there's an entry from right here on The Breadbox Letters... one entitled "Go Through the Motions."

Oh, but there is such marvelous variety among the entries!  I would suggest a few for your edification, but that would amount, pretty much, to suggesting all twenty. 

I'm sure St. Francis de Sales is praying for this adventure!

"Let us always belong to God, unreservedly and without interruption.  May He ever live and reign in our hearts.  Amen."  (St. Francis de Sales)

Painting attributed to Jacques Bizet

Monday, November 18, 2013

When all is Darkness

                         'O Jesus, when all is darkness
                         and we feel our weakness and helplessness,
                         give us the sense of Your presence, Your love, and Your strength.
                         Help us to have perfect trust in Your protecting love and strengthening power,

                         so that nothing may frighten or worry us, for, living close to You, we shall see 
                         Your hand, Your purpose, 
                         Your will through all things.'

St. Ignatius Loyola  

Painting: Jean-François Millet, The Sheepfold, Moonlight

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Little Peddler, Little Pack

'Let us go by land, since the high sea makes our head spin and makes us seasick.... let us practice those little virtues that are appropriate for our littleness.  Little peddler, little pack.  These are the virtues which are practiced more in going downhill than in going up, so they suit our legs better:  patience, bearing with our neighbor, submissiveness, humility, sweetness of temper, good-naturedness, tolerance of our imperfections, and other little virtues like these.  I do not say that we are not to climb by prayer, but that we should do so step by step.'

St. Francis de Sales

Painting:  Joaquin Sorolla, Paseo del faro (cropped)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I Have My Mission

'God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another.  I have my mission - I may never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.'   
John Henry Cardinal Newman

Painting:  William Strang, Cynthia, 1917

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I Learned to See, When Groping Through the Night

                     'Tonight I am remorseful, and I stand
                     a shame-faced mendicant before Your door,
                     humbly surrendering a world-scarred hand,
                     to pick the crumbs that fall upon the floor.
                     Forget the day I marched out proud and cold,
                     unmindful of the sacrifice You made;
                     and unabashed, I scorned the humble fold
                     and its mute harmony.  Still unafraid,
                     my spirit fled through dark that knew no dawn.
                     Oh, bid me stay where strife dare not intrude.
                     Dissolve the past into oblivion,
                     and let me rest once more in solitude.
                     No longer will I shun Your Guiding Light;
                     I learned to see, when groping through the night.'

           (from Fervorinos From the Lips of the Master, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1940, p. 244)

           Painting:  Leighton, The King and the Beggar-Maid 

           This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Monthly Linkup

Monday, November 11, 2013

Against These Feeble Assaults

'Little temptations to anger, suspicion, jealousy, envy, flirtation, vanity, frivolity, duplicity, affectation, deceit, unchaste thoughts - these are the trials that even the most devout and resolute must constantly face.  Therefore, Philothea, we have to prepare ourselves for this battle with great care and diligence.  Be sure that, for all our victories over these little enemies, as many precious stones will be set in the crown of glory which God prepares for us in heaven.  Because of this, I repeat, while being ready to fight against great temptations when they come, we must defend ourselves well and diligently against these little and feeble assaults.'  (St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life)

Painting:  Womanhood, 1925, Thomas Edwin Mostyn

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The House at the Back of My House

I'm beginning to see it.  As leaves fall and trees turn into tall bare sticks, I'm beginning to see.

All through the summer, the neighbors' house was there.  Even though I couldn't catch so much as a glimpse of it out my back windows, I knew it remained.  Our trees were full and lush, shielding the house from view; but I knew that once autumn winds blew and tossed leaves about, I would see it again.

It's not that I'm particularly attached to that house.  Oh, I do enjoy the look of its gray roof against a winter sky, and I find the sight of smoke billowing from its chimney downright neighborly.  But what caught my attention in a moment of prayer was the realization that, whether I see it or not, the building remains.  The presence of the house is an objective fact.

Whether or not I "see" Him, God remains.  Things may come along and block my view, but that makes no difference.  God's presence is an objective fact.  Nothing that obscures my view of Him changes that.  Always, no matter what, He is there. 

Sometimes things wedge themselves between me and God.  Often I plant these things myself.  But always God is there, and unlike the house at the back of my house, He is actively waiting.

He waits for me to turn to Him, push aside whatever blocks our union, and come to Him anew.

'In all our thoughts and actions we ought to remember the presence of God, and to count as lost any time in which we do not think of Him.'  (St. Bernard of Clairvaux)

Painting:  Vitus Staudacher Sommertag im blühenden Bauerngarten; in US public domain due to age

This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Monthly Linkup

Friday, November 8, 2013

No Heart to Fly

'I cannot sing and soar, my Lord and Love,
nor eagle's wings have I,
no power to rise and greet my King and Love,
no heart to fly.
Creative Lord Incarnate, let me lean
my heavy self on Thee:
nor let my utter weakness come between
Thy strength and me....

'I cannot love, my heart is turned within,
and locked within (ah, me!
How shivering in self-love I sit) for sin
has lost the key.
O Sacred Heart of Jesus!  Flame divine,
ardent with great desire,
my hope is set upon that love of Thine
deep well of Fire!'

(from Fervorinos From Galilee's Hills, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1936, pp. 252-253)

Painting: Pained at Heart, A Hughes

This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Monthly Linkup

Thursday, November 7, 2013

From the Depths of Vice to the Summit of Love

              'There are many examples of sinners who, having embraced a life of self-denial,
              became saints.....
              St. Augustine, St. Camillus, St. Mary Magdalen,
              St. Margaret of Cortona, St. Mary of Egypt and many others
              have raised themselves from the depths of vice to the summit of love.
              It is good for us to witness these sublime victories of grace.
              Nothing is more consoling nor illustrates more clearly
              the marvelous effects of correspondence with the grace of God.
              The Holy Spirit acts progressively.
              He gives first a glimmering
              and asks in return some small act of virtue.
              Fidelity to these first inspirations strengthens us to receive greater light
              and gives us a more powerful impetus.
              Grace then becomes not only more and more exacting,
              but also more powerful.'

(from Fervorinos From the Lips of the Master, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1940, pp.144-145)

                 Painting: Simon Vouet, Magdalene

Monday, November 4, 2013

When the Road Runs Through Rough Places

              'Often... the road of life runs through rough places,
              and trials fall crushingly upon us,
              our path becomes steep,
              and the music that was in our hearts is quite hushed.
              It is then that the tendency is strong to sink slowly back into
              the abandoned valley of half-hearted service,
              or at least to stand and make no effort to cling to Him
              and love Him more and more.
              Let us then pause upon the roadside of our daily lives
              to gain new strength and vigour from Him Who has weighed each load.
              Let us take our hearts, ragged and torn and bleeding,
              and place them close to His, that they may be transformed,
              that their every beat may be an act of adoration and of love.'

                   (from Fervorinos From Galilee's Hills, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1936, p. 252)

Painting:  Johan Edvard Bergh, Skogslandskap, 1853

Friday, November 1, 2013

Saints Anonymous

This is the day for celebrating saints most of us don't know, but ones in whose presence we will hopefully spend eternity.

Imagine the stories they could tell about their spans of time on earth!

I love that the Church sets aside today to honor these holy ones, these men and women who overcame all sorts of obstacles to give their hearts to Christ and to be forever with God.

May they pray for us today, and always. 

'Teach us, O Lord, and enable us to live the lives of saints...!'  (John Henry Cardinal Newman) 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ears Not Yet Attuned

'I am justified in saying that the whole of God's care and attention are concentrated upon me with the same singularity as if there were, in all the world, no one that concerned Him but me....

'I am to Him like a sick child in pain, fretful, unreasonable, unhappy, but comforted in spite of myself, better, and soon to be quite well again because of His silent, compassionate Presence.'

(Is He) 'Silent?  Perhaps.  But silent, as it seems to me, only because my ears are not yet attuned to the Gentle Voice of Him...

'Have I yet learned to read in His silence the answer that cannot be put into halting human words, but can be caught only in the language of love?'

 (from Fervorinos From Galilee's Hills, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1936, pp. 256-257)

Painting:  Gottfried Hofer Mädchen auf einer Blumenwiese 1911, cropped

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

In This Chilly Place

It is one thing to quote the saints.  To read about them, to marvel at their holiness, to celebrate their feasts and post their pictures and even to love them.  

And then there is this:

'The earth has become a chilly place.  It is up to us to rekindle the flame of human warmth which is going out.  It is up to us to recommence the great work of regeneration even if it means another era of martyrs.  Can we remain passive in the midst of a world that is suffering and groaning?

'As for us, my dear friend, are we going to make no attempt to be like those saints whom we love?'

Blessed Federic Ozanam

Painting:  Giovanni Battista Gauli, Blessed Ludovica Albertoni Distributing Alms

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Letting Go of Splinters

It was one of my grown children who helped me see the error of my ways.  Launching into a story about someone I'll call 'Millie'... relating a tale I'd been told by a friend who'd heard from a co-worker who knew for sure because someone had said ... I was stopped mid-sentence.  "Mom," said my son (kindly), "before you say any more, just know that whatever you tell me will make a difference in what I think about Millie from now on."


Feeling chagrined, I fell silent.  I was stung by the truth of these words.  I could pass along my little bit of gossip, feeling only slightly guilty about doing so, and I would most likely forget it (as it is, I don't remember it now).  But every time my son saw or spoke with 'Millie,' he would carry with him an impression left in the wake of my careless action.  Even though I cannot, today, recall what I was starting to say, I know it was not something positive.  

Oh, I might have tried to be 'nice.'  I probably intended to mention that Millie had a few good qualities, bless her heart.  But was there a good reason to casually mention her actions to my son?  No.  I had no reason to share whatever-it-was.

This happened several years ago, and will I sound dramatic when I say it was life changing?  Probably.  But it was.

Somehow my son's wise perspective had entirely escaped my notice before this time.  I'd more or less taken it for granted that if all the Millies of this world never heard the negatives people said about them, they couldn't be hurt.  Could they? 

I immediately started noticing how my own opinions of people are formed by what others say.  And by body language:  smirks and headshakes and rolled eyeballs.  Then I realized that while I cannot alter what others say about someone, I can definitely choose what I do or do not share, and with whom.

I can begin by checking my motives when I'm tempted in this area.  Do I like to seem 'in the know?'  Am I concerned that befriending someone others look down on will make me less appealing to those others?  Do I want to be in the loop of shared laughter?  Am I afraid a friend might like Millie more than she likes me, and thus I want to cast a shadow on Millie's character?  Am I feeling jealous?  Threatened?  Angry?  Inferior?  Afraid?  

Do I often find fault with others over inconsequential things?  If so, can I prayerfully get to the root of why this might be the case?

I have a great many planks in my own eyes (Matthew 7:3).  Now that I've begun in earnest to let God deal with these, my vision is growing clearer.  I can focus on Our Lord, and see more clearly what He wants to change in me. 

And one thing I know for sure.  It is time to let go of Millie's splinters.  
'We make ourselves judges of the minds of our fellow creatures, which are for God alone to judge.'  (St. Catherine of Siena)

'Do not judge, and you will not be judged.'  (Luke 6:37) 

Painting:  Mehclers, The Sermon, 1886; cropped

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Do You Mind?

'The mind is always at work.  If it is kept busy in good things, it won't have time for bad things;'

Blessed James Alberione

Painting: Girl with Pigtails, Samuel Henry William Llewellyn

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Hour of Our Deliverance

'God is so good that He never ceases to work in our hearts to draw us out of ourselves, out of vain and perishable things, so that we can receive His grace...  When we feel urged to depart from a sin, to leave an imperfection, to correct a negligence, to grow in virtue,  to make rapid strides to the perfection of divine love, then the hour has come for us.

'Let us arise in haste, let us run to the divine Spouse, accept His grace, benefit by His inspiration.

'It is the hour of our deliverance.  Let us not delay; let us run....'

          St. Jane de Chantal   

Painting: George Frederick Watts, 1864

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

But it is the Master's Way

'Instead of complaining, rather let us conceal the fatigue, give a kind answer instead of the quick retort that springs to our lips, and instead of half expecting someone to coddle us and smooth things out for our comfort, forget ourselves, and lend a willing hand.... No, it is not easy, but it is the Master's way.'

(from Fervorinos From the Lips of the Master, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1940, p. 123)

Painting:  William Adolphe Bouguereau, At the Fountain, 1897

Monday, October 21, 2013


'Jesus longs
for generous souls
whose watchword is
not self-comfort.'

(from Fervorinos From the Lips of the Master, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1940, p. 65)

Painting: Anker Die Andacht
des Grossvaters 1893

Saturday, October 19, 2013

But Strangely Unafraid

                      'I was unquiet, Lord, beneath Your hands,
                      and chafed because You chose to bend my will
                      to Yours.  I built upon uncertain sands,
                      but You are wise; and in the gloomy chill
                      of pain You razed my dream-house to the ground.
                      I was rebellious, Lord, but impotent
                      when You permitted agony to sound
                      my soul, and stripped my heart of earth's content.

                      Now like a wounded bird I lie within
                      Your hands, wings clipped, but strangely unafraid,
                      secure in Your embrace.  Great God, You win
                      my soul with all its yearnings unbetrayed,
                      and like a dove-gray dawn, peace comes to me,
                      since I have learned to suffer tranquilly.'

 (from Fervorinos From Galilee's Hills, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1936, p. 95)

Painting:  'The Stroller,' 1893 

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Friday, October 18, 2013

This Miracle

'Dearest Jesus!  How I long to love You and make You loved!

'During Your life on this poor earth, You made of a few loaves life and nourishment for a crowd.

'Let me be, in Your divine hands, the instrument for another such work.

'Give me Yourself, for souls, to uphold and revive them.

'I am only a weak and helpless child, but You know I am Your very own, Your home of love and rest.

'Just by one glance of love work this miracle - fill me with Your love, Your humility, Your patience, Your gentleness, Your kindness, Your holiness, Your strength... so that virtue may go out from me and bring souls to You.'

(from Fervorinos From Galilee's Hills, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1936, p. 237)

Painting: Evaristo Baschenis, Boy with a Basket of Bread, detail; digitally altered

This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Monthly Linkup

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Watcher on the Shore

"In the early morning, as the first streaks of light lit up the beautiful Sea of Galilee, Simon and Andrew were casting nets into the sea.  Jesus stood on the shore, watching them as they worked.
As the Divine Lord tarries on the seashore of my life, does He see me casting nets into the sea?
For what am I fishing?
For the pearl of great price?
Or for minnows?
Am I fishing for my own will, or for the will of the beautiful Watcher on the seashore?
Am I fishing for the appreciation of my companions, or for Christ's approval?
Am I fishing for the esteem of men, or for the applause of Christ?
I wonder what Our Lord thinks of me as He stands watching me while I cast my nets morning after morning......"

(from Sheltering the Divine Outcast, compiled by A Religious, The Peter Reilly Co, Philadelphia, 1952, p. 224)

Painting: James Tissot, The Calling of Saint Peter and Saint Andrew

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Be to Him a Field

'Go forward then, full of faith and loving confidence, and deliver yourself into the hands of His providence.  Be to Him a field that He may cultivate as He pleases, without any resistance on your part.  Remain humbly and peacefully clinging to His good pleasure.'

St. Margaret Mary

Painting:  Charles Courtney Curran, Betty Newell. In US public domain due to age

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Monday, October 14, 2013


'Often when a soul is distracted and forgetful of God, His Majesty will awaken it.'

St. Teresa of Avila

Painting:  The Sleeping Princess, Duncan, 1915; cropped

Thursday, October 10, 2013


                                          'Encourage quiet thoughts.
        Truth is eternal, and eternal things are low-keyed.
                                           Imitate God, Who is the most silent of all.
                                           He hides in nature.
                                           He lurks in the secret places of the heart. 
                                           He moves hidden behind history.'

(from Sheltering the Divine Outcast, compiled by A Religious, The Peter Reilly Co, Philadelphia, 1952, p. 54)

Painting:  James Sant, Woman Feeding the Chicks

Monday, October 7, 2013

That Thorns Remain

                            'I thank Thee (Lord) that all our joy
                            is touched with pain;
                            That shadows fall on brightest hours;
                            that thorns remain:
                            so that earth's bliss may be our guide,
                            and not our chain.

                            For Thou Who knowest, Lord, how soon
                            our weak heart clings,
                            hast given joys, tender and true,
                            yet all with wings.
                            So that we see, gleaming on high,
                            Diviner things.

                            I thank Thee, Lord, that Thou has kept
                            the best in store;
                            we have enough, yet not too much
                            to long for more:
                            A yearning for a deeper peace,
                            not known before.

                            I thank Thee, Lord, that here our souls,
                            though amply blest,
                            can never find, although they seek,
                            a perfect rest -
                            nor ever shall, until they lean
                            on Jesus' breast.'

(from Sheltering the Divine Outcast, compiled by A Religious, The Peter Reilly Co, Philadelphia, 1952, pp. 181-182)

                                     Painting: Swallow, John Everett Millais

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