Saturday, August 31, 2013

Now the Evening Lights

'Night is falling and day's allotted span draws to a close.  
The daylight that You created for Your pleasure has fully satisfied us;
and yet, of Your own free gift, 
now the evening lights do not fail us.'

St. Hippolytus

Painting: Johan Christian Claussen Dahl

Friday, August 30, 2013

Whatever Your Stage of Life

"Whether married, religious, single, consecrated, or widowed," says today's post at The Feminine Gift, "we all have a primary vocation to holiness.  Nancy Shuman, of The Cloistered Heart book and blog, writes about how we can fulfill that vocation by making our lives a cloister - a total consecration - where 'God is loved and lived for and served.'  We feel greatly blessed that Nancy will be sharing this way of living for Christ with us once a month..."

I am deeply honored to be guest writing for The Feminine Gift, a blog that speaks to women in all ages and stages of life.  And if you've ever wondered what "the cloistered heart" was all about, the post there will hopefully provide a brief initial overview.  You can click here to visit The Feminine Gift.... whatever your stage of life!   

Painting by Aaron Draper Shattuck

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

That We May Bring Our Vessel Safe to Shore

'My God and King... cast a gracious eye
upon those of us who are in our dangerous voyage still.
Remember, succour us in our distress;
think of those who lie exposed to the rough storms of troubles and temptations!
Strengthen our weakness in Your strength,
that valiantly we may do Your will in this spiritual battle.
Help us against our own negligence, our cowardice;
defend us from the treachery of our unfaithful hearts.
We are exceedingly frail,
and indisposed to every virtuous and gallant undertaking.
Grant, O Lord, that we may bring our vessel safe to shore,
into our desired haven.'      St. Augustine

St. Augustine, pray for us!

Marin-Marie illustration in public domain due to age

Monday, August 26, 2013

As Raindrops to the Ocean

'Our merits compared with Our Lord's 
are what raindrops are to the ocean, only infinitely less.
And yet, as there is a way of making
the raindrops share in the immensity of the ocean,
 so there is a way of communicating to our actions the infinity, 
so to speak, of the actions of Jesus Christ. 
The raindrops, as they hover over the ocean for an instant
are only tiny specks.  But the moment they fall into the ocean 
they commingle with it and become the ocean. 
So with our tiny actions - looked at in themselves 
they are only a tiny particle, a mote, 
but let us plunge them moment after moment
into the ocean of the Merits of our Divine Lord,
thus steeping them in the Infinite.'

(from Sheltering the Divine Outcast, compiled by A Religious, The Peter Reilly Co, Philadelphia, 1952, p. 147)

Painting:  Sunset at Sea, Thomas Moran

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Have The Blues?

"It is surprising how strong we become 
under the pressure of 'the blues' 
when we cling to God more tightly than ever, 
and love Him in spite of the dark clouds that encircle us."  

(from In Love With The Divine Outcast, compiled by A Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1934, pp. 170-171)

Painting:  Gustave LĂ©onard de Jonghe, Changeable Weather 

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Window on the Infinite

'The function of all art 
lies in breaking through 
the narrow and torturous enclosure of the finite,
in which man is immersed while living here below,
and in providing a window on the infinite
for his hungry soul.' 

 Pope Pius XII

Painting: Orazio Gentileschi, St Francis Supported by an Angel

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

You Shall Reap in Joy the Harvest

                                               Sow with a generous hand;
                                               pause not for toil or pain;
                                               weary not through the heat of summer,
                                               weary not through the cold spring rain;
                                               But wait till the autumn comes
                                               for the sheaves of golden grain.

                                               Sow, while the seeds are lying
                                               in the warm earth's bosom deep;
                                               and your warm tears fall upon it,
                                               they will stir in their quiet sleep;
                                               And the green blades rise the quicker,
                                               perchance for the tears you weep.

                                              Then sow, for the hours are fleeting
                                              and the seed must fall today;
                                              And care not what hands shall reap it
                                              or if you have passed away
                                              before the wavering cornfields
                                              shall gladden the sunny day.

                                              Sow, and look onward, upward,
                                              while the starry light appears,
                                              Where in spite of the coward's doubting
                                              or your own heart's trembling fears,
                                              you shall reap in joy the harvest
                                              you have sown today in tears.

(from In Love With The Divine Outcast, compiled by A Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1934, pp. 170-171)

Painting:  Fendi der saemann

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Different Quality

'Music rouses the emotions,
it calls the senses to a different quality...
Music comforts the mind in the enduring of labors, 
and singing lightens weariness in solitary tasks.'
St. Isidore 

Painting: Poul Friis Nybo Girl at Piano

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Once I Had a Secret Blog

This has been a most unusual day..  

First:  with no prior warning, late yesterday I felt drawn to start a new blog.  Probably a secret one, where I could store videos of sacred music and maybe a few holy pictures.  Hopefully things that could inspire me if I clicked in from time to time during the course of a day.  In effect, a secret little "chapel."  I didn't have to tell another soul about it (shhhh...).

Second:  I gave the blog a simple and obvious title, chose a template, and set it up within the space of an hour, perhaps less.  I began to put on a few videos and pages.

Third:  After thinking I'd let others know about this after all, I had a sense (almost a question) of "why not right now?"  Why not, indeed.  I posted about it, and before long I was hearing from a few visitors.  One of whom mentioned a link to an online 24 hour webcam broadcast of exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.  My heavens, thought I!  I was astonished that such a thing exists.

I had just been thinking that a "chapel" is no such thing without the Blessed Sacrament.  So I put a link to the webcam feed, and then I realized.  

I was doing this in the wee hours of the morning on the feast of St. Clare of Assisi.  

St. Clare is the patroness of television. 

St. Clare was named as such by St. Pius XII in 1958, after he realized that television is Greek for "vision from afar."  It seems that one Christmas Eve, St. Clare was too sick to leave her bed to attend Mass.  She prayed, "See, Lord, I am left here alone."  God granted Clare a miraculous vision in which she was able to see Mass from afar, as it were happening right in her own bedroom. From other accounts I've read this morning, this may have happened for St. Clare more than once.  It was as if she could see the events of Mass "projected" on her wall. 

Obviously our new blog has a patroness. 

I hope to stock the blog, over time, with videos and pictures and prayer-links that will help my frazzled, distracted mind turn to God.  Perhaps these will help someone else as well.  

Twenty-four hours ago I had a secret blog.   Now I invite you to click this line and come visit this new spot on the Internet..   

Looks like my secret blog's no secret anymore.  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Be Fragrant to Us

'Come, Lord, work upon us,
set us on fire and clasp us close.  
Be fragrant to us.
Draw us to Your loveliness.  
Let us love, let us run to You.'

St. Augustine

Painting:  John William Waterhouse, The Shrine

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Though all My Ships at Sea

I will not doubt;
though all my prayers return
unanswered from the still,
white realm above;
I shall believe it is an all-wise love
which has refused
those things for which I yearn;
And, though at times
I cannot keep from grieving,
yet the pure ardor
of my fixed believing 
undimmed, shall burn.  

I will not doubt,
though sorrows fall like rain,
and troubles swarm
like bees about a hive;
I shall believe
the heights for which I strive
are only reached by
anguish and by pain;
And though I groan and tremble
'neath my crosses,
I shall yet see
through my severest losses
the greater gain.

I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
come drifting home with broken masts and sails;
I shall believe the Hand that never fails,
from seeming evil worketh good for me;
And though I weep because those sails are battered,
still will I cry, while my best hopes be shattered:
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in Thee!

(from In Love With The Divine Outcast, compiled by A Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1934, pp. 538-539)

Carl Bille Painting

Friday, August 2, 2013

He Has Been Waiting All Along

Yesterday I again wrestled myself into prayer.  I'm ashamed to admit how long it took me to get there, but finally I struggled through the day's distractions to find myself in front of an open Bible.  I looked at the page only to see what seemed like a spattering of random words.   What, whenever, surpassing, things, count, that, for.

This was worse than usual.

Meanwhile, a charming collection of junk mail had stacked up on my table.  Brightly colored pizza coupons.  A sale flier for... what is that, candles?  A catalog of, oh my goodness:  books.   I tried to concentrate.  I tried to pray.  I batted away stray thoughts that buzzed around like flies.  I repented.  I expressed sorrow.  I thought of how many meaningless things persistently shout for my attention.  I felt sad.  I felt hopeless.  I felt defeated.  I felt


Right in the middle of my self-beating, even as I realized that I'm not a person of discipline and routine and likely never will be, I had a sudden sense of something I cannot describe.  A kind of warmth. Amazing warmth.  If I could paint a picture of it, I'd show Jesus looking over at me with a tender, loving smile.  As if He were actually.... pleased!

If I could put words in His mouth (and really, it was almost as if I "heard" these), they would be "you have no idea how much you love Me." 

No, that was not a typo.   It wasn't "you have no idea how much I love you" (although I'm totally sure that is the case), but "you have no idea how much YOU love ME." 

How astonishing.  Could that possibly be true?  In the midst of my distractions and laziness and aridity, when my prayers are dry as dust?!  Oh surely not!  And yet - at the moment I felt this, I also had a strong sense of peace.  It was as if a veil lifted, and in an instant I could see oh, so much at once.   

The "much" started with, of all things, blogs.  I thought of this one, specifically, and of how I'd originally considered this as the blog wherein I could ramble about any and every random thought that crossed my mind.  Yet rarely, in the nearly two years since I started writing here, can I recall a post that didn't lead toward or speak of or include God.  It's not that I set out from the beginning to do this (I realized); it's that I write (or quote) what is truly on my mind.

Even though I've felt dry, lazy, and unspeakably distracted, I have made up my mind to come to Jesus and wrestle my way to Him.  How tender of Him to let me know that He is smiling on my little efforts.  How generous of Him to give me a glimpse of how much I really do love Him.  It's good to know the truth of it (and yes, I believe it is truth) that I love Him more than I realize.  If I hadn't gone through the motions once again, I would never have been in a position to see this.

He loves me beyond all imagining.  And I, distracted as I am, love Him.  I want to please Him.  By His grace (and His grace alone) I am growing, at least a little, in virtue.

He has been waiting for me to go through the motions.  He has been waiting all along.  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Prayer in Aridity

'Dearest Jesus... I am now incapable
 of praying, of practicing virtue.
The fire of love seems almost extinguished.
Yet you know I long to love You,
to love You ardently and give You
a thousand proofs of tenderness
whilst I have the opportunity...
Give me special grace
not to give way now in these moments of
fatigue, desolation, sadness, and dejection,
nor to slack effort, but to keep close to You
at whatever sacrifice....
Into this darkness that is about me,
let a ray of light from
Your loving Sacred Heart shine....
I long to desire no sensible consolation in loving,
provided You feel my love.
That is enough for me.'
  prayer from THE LIVING PYX OF JESUS, Pelligrini, Australia, 1941, pp. 471-472

Painting:  Marcus Stone, Loves Daydream End
(I originally posted this at 'A Prayer Corner')