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 M├Ądchen 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."

Well.

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

This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Monthly Linkup

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

Watchword


'Jesus longs
for generous souls
whose watchword is
self-sacrifice,
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 


This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Monthly Linkup

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

This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Linkup

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

This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Linkup

Monday, October 14, 2013

Awakening



'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

Shhhhh



                                          '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

                                    This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Linkup

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Why Were the Saints Saints?



          'Why were the saints saints?
          Because they loved Me much, hence they never complained.
          They were cheerful when it was hard to be cheerful,
          patient when it was hard to be patient.
          They pushed on when they wished to stand still,
          and kept silence when they wished to talk,
          and were agreeable when they wished to be disagreeable, 
          and all this because they loved Me much.' 

              (from Sheltering the Divine Outcast, compiled by A Religious, The Peter Reilly Co, Philadelphia, 1952, p. 75)

              Painting:  Childe Hassam; Rainy Day, Boston, detail

Friday, October 4, 2013

He will Clasp Me

                      
                         "I stay inside the stronghold:  that is, the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus."
 
                        "His goodness no one has fathomed, no one can measure,
                         His compassion is untold.  
                         Every soul that approaches Him experiences this.  
                         He will shield her and clasp her to His merciful bosom."  

(St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Marians of the Immaculate Conception, #s 1287 and 1652)

Painting: Our Lord Jesus Christ, James Tissot, detail 



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Oh, the Scrapes We Have Seen!

If my guardian angel were made of flesh instead of pure spirit, I'd be sending him an October feast day present right about now.  Ice packs, splints, ointment, maybe a tin of aspirin - those might be nice tied together with a bright blue bow.  After all, he deserves something appropriate to thank him for putting up with me all these years.

I should have presented him with a box of chocolates after I wasn't expelled on my first day of school.

At that time, I knew little about Religious Sisters.  Only that they wore long black dresses and starched white bonnets.  And I knew that when a student misbehaved, Sister would swoop toward the child "with her beads swinging!!!"  Or so my mother had warned me, using a tone of apocalyptic doom.

I realized, from Mother's words, that the beads  were something worn by Sisters.  Now this, to me, was thoroughly exciting.  I positively loved beads; I was enchanted by the gleaming white pearl ones Mother put on when she and Daddy went out for the evening.  I loved colorful glittery beads worn, usually with matching earrings, by my aunts and cousins.  Oh yes, beads were fine things!  Fine, fine things!  They signaled celebration and beauty and times when a lady wore her finest.

I must say, what Sister wore on the first day of school didn't strike me as her finest.  Today must not be particularly special to her, I decided, because she arrived unbeaded.  She stood tall and straight beside a cracked slate blackboard, dressed in a stiff white bonnet and a long plain dress of black.  Around her neck, I saw not one single bead.

I still have a sharp memory of my disappointment.  Not only had I expected beads, I'd anticipated lengthy strands of them (after all, they had to be long enough to "swing").  White, gleaming strings of pearls dancing around Sister's neck as she swooooooped.... which was a rather attractive image all on its own to my six year old mind.  I envisioned a large, dark, graceful bird, magically flying forward with its pearly circlet swinging.

But Ah! (I suddenly remembered).  Mother had said I must DO something in order to see the beads swing.  Ah HA!  I suddenly got it.  I had the magic!  I knew the secret. 

I must misbehave!

Sister presented me with the perfect opportunity.  It happened when she told us that whatever we did, no matter what, we MUST NOT WRITE ON OUR DESKS.

Ahhh, that was it.  My ticket to a vision of swinging, gleaming beauty.  I waited until Sister was looking directly at me, I made sure to catch her eye, and I took my big fat long wooden pencil and carved as hard as I could onto the top of my desk.

Here it was:  the moment of swooooooping!  Like a rushing hawk, Sister flew down the aisle between desks and swept toward me.  But oh dear.  She had forgotten her pearls.

And then I saw them.  A long strand of fat black beads had been concealed in the gathers of Sister's skirt all along, and now they were swinging.  Back and forth, with every swish of her dress, they were swinging.  I was so focused on the dark, unshiny beads that What Happened Next has always been a  blur.  It had to do with my being grabbed up from my chair, shaken back and forth a bit (remember that to Sister I must have seemed like the most defiant child in all the universe), and a red-haired classmate looking over at me with thumb in mouth and horror on face.  I don't remember what was said; the scene replays in my mind like a silent movie.  It's just as well.  I didn't know words like defiant and disobedient and disrespectful and wicked yet anyway.  It was probably better to learn those later, in some other way.

(I wonder if my guardian angel just read that last sentence and sighed).

Yes, this story of the swinging beads is true.  And the gratitude to my guardian angel:  that's true as well.  Oh, the scrapes we have seen!!  Oh, those sad times when he has watched me race headlong  into sin.  I've gone along my merry, self-appointed, disobedient, defiant path of potential doom so often.  And all the while, he has stayed busy wrestling and fighting and trying to lead me in right paths.  

This is a long overdue public thank you, guardian angel.

Thank you for battling for my soul.



thebreadboxletters.blogspot.com


Painting:  Domenichino, Guardian Angel


Flowers Before Your Throne


"My Beloved, this is how my life will be consumed.  I have no other means of proving my love for You other than that of strewing flowers, that is, not allowing one little sacrifice to escape, not one look, one word, profiting by all the smallest things and doing them through love; and in this way I shall strew flowers before Your throne.

"I shall not come upon a flower without unpetalling it for You.  While I am strewing my flowers, I shall sing, for could one cry while doing such a joyous action?  I shall sing even when I must gather my flowers in the midst of thorns, and my song will be all the more melodious in proportion to the length and the sharpness of the thorns.

"O Jesus, of what use will my flowers be to You?  Ah!  I know very well that this fragrant shower, these fragile, worthless petals, these songs of love from the littlest of hearts will charm You.  Yes, these nothings will please You.  They will bring a smile to the Church Triumphant.  She will gather up my flowers unpetalled through love and have them pass through Your own divine hands, O Jesus.

"And this Church of Heaven... will cast these flowers, which are infinitely valuable because of Your divine touch, upon the Church Suffering in order to extinguish its flames, and upon the Church Militant in order to gain the victory for it."  St. Therese of Lisieux 

Painting: Knaus, Ludwig; Girl in a Field, 1857