Monday, July 29, 2013

Go Through the Motions

I sometimes must wrestle myself into prayer.  It often seems that I'm waging an all-out battle against distractions, laziness, daydreams, aridity, and sudden inexplicable desires to latch onto any shiny bit of trivia that will keep me from praying.   

This makes no sense. 

God Himself, the Creator of the universe and the One Who loves me beyond all imagining, is waiting to comfort and heal and bless and listen to me.  He is, quite literally, waiting. 

And I, in effect, ignore Him so I can turn my attention to....... what?

Let's see.  In just the last few days, I've put off prayer in order to focus my attention on junk mail, crossword puzzles, television, a book just borrowed, idle chatter, tiredness, a fleeting headache,  various Internet links, and at least one catalog order that suddenly "had to" be placed right then and there and not half an hour later. 

Interesting.  I don't see anything at all there about my family or the work I've needed to do.  All I see is a list of totally inconsequential things that suddenly become of paramount importance when weighed against spending time with, well... with the Author of Life.

See what I mean?  It makes no sense. 

This morning I was graced with a glimpse of the senselessness.  Weakly, I asked God for help.  That's when the thought crossed my mind:  "at least go through the motions."  Don't feel like taking time for prayer?  Take a few minutes anyway.  Don't feel inspired?  Pick up a prayer book and mouth some words.  The Bible and Breviary seem to weigh a ton today? ("oh...hooow will I ever liiift them?!").  Pick one up anyway.  Make the effort.  Do something.  If your heart feels wired shut, at least open your mouth. 

Go through the motions.  

So I did.  With a heart that felt like dried, fissured, ancient rock, I tried to focus while my mind flitted .... somewhere.  With mind unengaged, heart uninvolved, attention scattered to dusty winds, I went through the motions. 

Then it happened.  Like a lamp in a house whose electricity had been out, suddenly I knew I was connected.  It felt as if chains were shattered, and indeed - I think that's true.  But that would not have happened if I hadn't begun by going through the motions. 

And does this post even make any sense?  Possibly not, but regardless - I'll hit "publish."  With a prayer for anyone else who might be having trouble making the decision to take a few minutes in prayer.. and with a prayer for myself as well. 

After all, tomorrow's another day. I know how this goes:  it is a daily battle. I will face it again, and again.  

I pray for grace to go through the motions.

Wyczolkowski Wiosna painting

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Worth a Thousand Thanks

'One act of thanksgiving when things go wrong 
is worth a thousand thanks 
when things are agreeable to our inclination.'  

St John of the Cross

Painting: Alfred Edward Emslie, The Stormy Crossing

Friday, July 26, 2013

His Image Better Revealed

'The goodness of God means that God gives us what we need for our perfection, not what we want for our pleasure and sometimes for our destruction.

'As a sculptor, He sometimes applies the chisel to the marble of our imperfect selves and knocks off huge chunks of selfishness, that His image may stand better revealed.'  

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Norman Macbeth painting

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Together in Brotherly Love

'When we are linked by the power of prayer, we, as it were, hold each other's hand as we walk side by side along a slippery path; and thus by the bounteous disposition of charity, it comes about that the harder one leans on the other, the more firmly we are riveted together in brotherly love.'

Pope Gregory the Great 

Caspar David Friedrich painting

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

When I am With Him

'It seems that a tranquil soul and a quiet spirit come to me even while I sleep.... 
I don't know what God has in store for me, but I feel so serene that it doesn't matter.  
What do I have to be afraid of when I am with Him?'

Brother Lawrence

Painting: Schlafender Knabe im Heu,1897
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Monday, July 22, 2013

Nothing Small

"There is nothing small in the service of God." 

St. Francis de Sales

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Unmannerly Distractions

'Ah, dearest Lord! 
I cannot pray,
my fancy is not free;
distractions come,
and force 
my thoughts from Thee. 

'The world 
that looks so dull all day
glows bright
on me at prayer,
and plans that 
ask no thought but then
wake up 
and meet me there.'

F. Faber, Distractions in Prayer

William Waterhouse painting
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Friday, July 19, 2013

I Grew up Wealthy. Did I Mention That?

I'll bet you didn't know I grew up rich.  It's not something I brag about here, and anyway - it's not as if my wealth had anything to do with my father's salary. 
My luxury-laden youth came as a result, mostly, of when I was born.  Which was long before computers were in homes, when TV was in black and white (for those who had it at all), and the family's one telephone was usually on a 'party-line.'  Oh, sorry - you're probably too young to know what that was (several neighborhood homes shared the line... sort of like having extension phones in various houses).  

Here is the truth of it:  I am a bona fide baby boomer.  One who spent my childhood fashioning cardboard dollhouses, taking my protesting puppy for rides in a doll carriage, and spending hours crafting my own paper dolls.  I knew the wealth of not having technology to think and play and create FOR me - and how thankful I am for the luxury of those times.  They helped, in ways known to God alone, to form me into someone with a spark of creativity in my bones.   When I did sit in front of the black and white TV, I found nothing to pollute my young mind.  Loretta Young twirled onscreen to present this week's half hour drama (always with a lesson).  Bishop Sheen taught things I didn't "get," but I liked it when an unseen angel seemed to clean his blackboard.  Bud learned again that Father Knew Best. 
I don't have to point out the fact that things have changed.  Even those much younger than I know this.  Some even realize that society as a whole has traded oh, so many riches for poverty.  I could go into this here, but I will spare us.  If we're at this blog, we almost certainly know what I mean.  

Still, I try to find wealth where I can. God is with us, and by His amazing grace we can find Him.  We who know Him have a wondrous inheritance to pass along to our families.  

We can even pass on the simple treasures of creativity.  Homeschoolers are, I think, particularly good at doing this.  Grandparents are in a good position to pass on some wealth as well, because we often have more time than mommies and daddies. 

With that in mind, I look around and realize that I'm wealthier now than when I was a child.  For one (main) thing, I know God better.   For another, earthly treasures are piled so high that people can barely walk around in my house.

You should see it!  The floors around here are littered with grandchildren's dolls and trucks and board games and papers.  And yes, money as well.  "Dollar bills" that we've colored and cut (more or less in rectangles) from printer-paper.  And such an abundance of food!  Roundish paper cookies my granddaughter Bunny made for her collection of dolls.

Oh, and you should see the art on our walls; it's a virtual gallery, not confined to walls alone, but taped to doors and windows ... and well, of course, the 'fridge. 

I do not want to see my grandchildren deprived of the treasures that have been my entitlement.  Not when they have a grandma wealthy enough to provide paper and crayons when they want tea-party cookies, a cardboard box when they'd like a playhouse, a round coaster to serve as the steering wheel for their (sofa) car.

I share less "simple" things with the grandchildren as well, of course, as do their parents and other relatives and friends.  But I would be remiss if I hoarded my stash of boomer-treasures and refused to hand them on. 

Most importantly (it goes without saying), I'm privileged to help pass along the incomparable treasure of shared prayer and casual discussions of Christ's love.

In a world that seems to be sliding ever further from the wealth of creativity, simplicity.... and most of all, truth and morality and integrity... I don't intend to be stingy.  

I intend to pay the Truth forward.  I intend to pass it on.

Painting: Mykola Pymonenko Vorozhinnia, in US public domain

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

But an Atom

'Eternal incomprehensible God,
 I believe, and confess, and adore Thee,
 as being infinitely more wonderful, resourceful,
and immense than this universe which I see.
I look into the depths of space
in which the stars are scattered about...   

But all, all that is in these worlds, high and low,
 are but an atom compared with the 
grandeur, the height and depth, the glory
 on which Thy saints are gazing
            in their contemplation of Thee.'          
John Henry Newman 

NASA Hubble photogaph

Monday, July 15, 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: Backhuysen, Ludolf; Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, 1695

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Let Them Cry Out Like Owls

"The worldly will be scandalized if we... laugh, play, or dance in their company; but if we refuse, they will call us melancholy hypocrites.  If we dress well, they will attribute it to a bad motive; if we dress simply, they will attribute it to meanness.  They will call our joy dissipation, our self-denial sadness; their jaundiced gaze never satisfied.  They will magnify our imperfections into sins of frailty as sins of malice... we must ignore such blindness; let them cry out like owls trying to disturb the birds of day as much as they like, while we go serenely on our way unwavering in our resolves.  Our very perseverance will convince them that we have dedicated ourselves to God and embraced a devout life." 

St. Francis de Sales

Painting: Dinner at the Casino by Gaston La Touche

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Prayer of St. Benedict

"Bestow on me, O gracious, O holy Father,
Intellect to understand You,
Perceptions to love You purely,
Reasoning to discern You,
Diligence to seek You,
Wisdom to find You,
A spirit to know You.

A heart to meditate upon You,
Ears to hear You,
Eyes to behold You,
A tongue to proclaim You,
Conversation pleasing to You,
Patience to wait for You,
Perseverance to look for You.

Grant me a perfect end:  Your holy Presence.

Grant me a blessed resurrection,
and Your recompense,
eternal life."

St. Benedict

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Evangelization 101

'Who has ever seen people persuaded to love God by harshness?'

St. John of the Cross

Painting of Elisabeth of Hungary 

Friday, July 5, 2013

According To...


"Mysteries in religion are measured
by the proud according to their own capacity;
by the humble, according to the power of God.

The humble glorify God for them.
The proud exalt themselves against them."

Cardinal John Henry Newman

Painting: JamesTossit, Il guérit les boiteux

Thursday, July 4, 2013

For God is Always Right!

"My concern is not 
whether God is on my side; 
my greatest concern 
is to be on God's side,
for God is always right."

Abraham Lincoln

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Rest of the Story

I love how God works.

Today I read back over yesterday's post here and thought "it's like there needs to be something else in this.  I feel like I'm missing something."

Lo and behold.  

I went to the comments screen and found the following, from Gloria Laudes.  I will copy it here just as she wrote it (its original Author being, of course, God Himself!). 

This provides, as Gloria recognized, the encouragement we need at this time.  

And here, my friends, is the rest of the story....  

"'If it were possible to live without God, it would not be worth living at all.' And so we must live in Christ: in peace, love, and hope - ' proper and real hope' which is expressed beautifully in Romans 5:1-10 (sorry for the long quote but it is the encouragement I think we need at this time):
[1] Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
[2] Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God.
[3] More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
[4] and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
[5] and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.
[6] While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
[7] Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man -- though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die.
[8] But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
[9] Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
[10] For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life."

Lo and behold.  Thank you, Gloria.

I love how God works.

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