Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Days, Months and Years

'The days, 
months and years
succeed one another, 
and nothing remains 
but God 
and what we do 
for Him.'

Dom Marmion

Painting: George Hitchcock, The Christening

Monday, December 29, 2014

Let Yourself be Led

'Let yourself be led 
by God's hand 
without looking too much 
where He is leading you, 
provided that you remain 
quite submissive and 
in His hands.'

Dom Marmion

Painting: Alessandro Turch, 
detail of Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery

Saturday, December 27, 2014

So That By His Birth

'Christ is born, 
so that by His birth
He might restore your nature.'

St. Peter Chrysologus

Painting: Julian Alden Weir, The Christmas Tree, 1890

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Come, My Light

'Come, my Light,
and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life,
and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician,
and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of Divine Love,
and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of Your love.'

St. Dimitrii

Painting: 'Young Boy Singing,' in US public domain due to age

Thursday, December 18, 2014

For Our Sakes, He


                   'He so loved us that for our sakes, He
                   through Whom time was made, was made in time...
                   He Who made man, was made man.
                   He was given existence by a mother whom He had brought into existence.'

St. Augustine

Painting: Alice Havers, 'But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart'

Monday, December 15, 2014

All the Paths of the Lord

'Good and upright is the Lord.... 
He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches them His way. 
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness 
for those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.'

Psalm 25:8-10

Painting: Юлий Юльевич Клевер - Дорога домой через зимний лес, from Wikimedia

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Make Him Welcome in Your Heart

'Behold the most lovable Jesus, Who is about to be born in our commemoration of the 
forthcoming feast... 
caress Him, 
make Him welcome in your heart, 
adore Him frequently, 
imitate His humility, 
His poverty, 
His obedience 
and His gentleness.'

St. Francis de Sales

Painting: Décoration du sapin de Noël

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sanctify the Moment

'Do you really want to be a saint? 
Carry out the little duty 
of each moment. 
Do what you ought 
and concentrate 
on what you are doing.'

St. Josemaria Escriva

Painting: Edgar Degas

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Make Good Use of This Headache, That Cold

'Offer up 
these trifling injuries, 
those petty inconveniences, 
that daily befall you. 
This toothache,
this headache,
this cold, 
this contempt
or scorn.'

St. Francis de Sales

Painting: Frederick Childe Hassam 

Monday, December 8, 2014

In This Time of Preparation

'Silence is so lacking 
in this world 
which is often too noisy, 
which is not favorable 
to recollection and listening 
to the voice of God.  
In this time 
of preparation for Christmas, 
let us cultivate 
interior recollection, 
so as to receive and keep 
Jesus in our lives.'

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI


Painting: Samuel Halpert, Through the Window

Friday, December 5, 2014

Really Pretty Simple, Isn't It?

'Prayer is conversation with God.'

Clement of Alexandria

Painting: Walter Moras

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Advent's Intention

'Advent is concerned with 
that very connection 
between memory and hope 
which is so necessary to man. 
Advent's intention is to awaken 
the most profound and emotional 
memory within us; namely, 
the memory of the God Who became a child. 
This is a healing memory; 
it brings hope.... 
It is the beautiful task of Advent 
to awaken in all of us 
memories of goodness 
and thus to open doors of hope.'

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Painting: Carl Ernst von Stetten

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Song of Gratitude

I have shared and 'featured' an older story in several places this Advent, but that's because I'm increasingly grateful to have lived it. My gratitude is actually beyond description as I think back on that one life-altering season.

I hope you will forgive yet another repetition.

I hope this story being shared, on two blogs, under two slightly different titles, is not TOO confusing!

I hope you will join in thanking God for His wondrous mercy to us all.

Click this line to reopen 'The Christmas Window'..... 

Painting at top: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, A Christmas Carol
Painting at bottom: Franz Skarbina Berliner Junge vom Weihnachtsmarkt, digitally lettered

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

In Our Hour of Darkness

'The most beautiful Credo is the one we pronounce in our hour of darkness.'

St. Padre Pio

Painting: Arthur Hacker Seated Girl, in US  public domain due to age {{PD-1923}}

Monday, December 1, 2014

In all Our Delights

'In God alone 
is there 
and true
and in all our delights 
it is this delight 
that we are 

St. Bonaventure

Painting: Henry Sandham, Tobogganing, in US public domain due to age

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Like a Secret Told by Angels

"Like a secret  
told by angels, 
getting known 
upon the earth,  
is the 
Mother's expectation
of Messiah's 
speedy birth." 

F. Faber

Painting: Antonello da Messina


Monday, November 24, 2014

Remember with Thanksgiving

'When you lie down on your bed, remember with thanksgiving 
the blessings and 
the providence of God.'

St. Antony

Vintage ad in US public domain due to age

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Most Humiliating Mistakes

'God allows His greatest servants to make the most humiliating mistakes. 
This humbles them in their own eyes and in the eyes of their fellow men. 
It prevents them from seeing and taking pride in the graces God bestows on them.'

St. Louis de Montfort

Painting: Théodule-Augustin Ribot, Still Life with Pumpkin, Plums, Cherries, Figs and Jug

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Love in Heaven

'If love, even human love, 
gives so much consolation here, 
what will love not be like in heaven?'

St. Josemaria Escriva

Painting:William Adolphe Bouguereau, Maternal Admiration

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nothing is Small

'Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. 
Do all that you do with love.'

St. Therese of Lisieux

Painting: Jean-François Millet

Friday, November 14, 2014

When my Heart is Parched

when I read spiritual treatises.. 
my poor little mind 
soon grows weary, 
I close the learned book 
that leaves my head splitting 
and my heart parched, 
and I take up
the Holy Scriptures. 
Then all seems luminous. 
A single word 
opens up 
horizons to my soul.' 

St. Therese of Lisieux

Albert Anker painting, 1904

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pilgrims and Strangers

'We are pilgrims and strangers on earth. 
Pilgrims sleep in tents
and sometimes cross deserts, 
but the thought of their homeland 
makes them forget everything else.'

Charles de Foucauld

Painting: John Singer Sargent, A Tent in the Rockies

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Formed by Fire

'An iron is fashioned by fire..... 
so in the fire of suffering and under the weight of trials, 
our souls receive the form which Our Lord desires them to have.'

St. Madeleine Sophie Barat

Public domain photo from Wikimedia

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Producer's Cameo Appearances

Even though I grew up watching Alfred Hitchcock movies, I was an adult before I learned one of their most charming little secrets. Mr. Hitchcock not only produced and directed the films, he also made cameo appearances in his works. To those paying close attention, he could be found milling among crowds of extras, or hopping on a bus, or even interacting with a character.

I'd had no idea. No one ever told me the director might show up anywhere, at any time.  Those who cared to find him just had to keep eyes open and watch. A bit of a challenge, I'm sure, in those days before videotapes and rewind buttons, back when the only way to see a movie was to go to an actual theater at the times it was shown.

In my early days of movie viewing, I never saw Mr. Hitchcock in his films. For one thing, I didn't have a very clear idea of what he looked like. For another, I had not been told to look. No one said he'd be there. If I had known, perhaps I would have taken on the hunt as a challenge:  a kind of "Where's Waldo" for those of us in the Baby Boomer generation.

Thinking of this recently, I couldn't help but make comparisons.

The One responsible for the world around us, the One who not only produces and directs but is the actual Author of life Himself, does not remain at a distance.  He doesn't stay "off screen." He is there in the simplest as well as the most profound of all our moments. He is always there, and occasionally He even lets His presence be seen.

In order to find him, however, we have to know to look.  We must be told He is here.

We also have to know what He's like. We must have some idea of His nature. How do we learn this? We spend time with Him in prayer. We read Scripture. We learn His ways through the Catechism and in writings of saints known to be with Him. We see how He relates to mankind.

If we care to find Him, we just have to keep our eyes open. It can be a bit of a challenge to do so, especially when many around us seem not to be looking for Him or thinking of Him, or even giving Him credit for the world in which He has placed us.

If we pay attention, we just might catch a glimpse of Him. Possibly in something about which we find ourselves thinking "that just can't be a coincidence."  Maybe in the sound of rain outside our window. Maybe when we open a page of Scripture. Perhaps when we see an answer to prayer.

The Producer of all we see is never far from us.  We have only to look.  

"This Son is the reflection of the Father's glory, the exact representation of the Father's being, and He sustains all things by His powerful word." (Hebrews 1:3) 

public domain photos from Wikimedia's "Hitchcock's cameo Appearances" page

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Endurance of Darkness

'The endurance of darkness is preparation for great light.'

St. John of the Cross 

 Painting: John Atkinson Grimshaw

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Not for Anything in the World

                 'Beware of bad books, 
                 and not for anything in the world allow your mind to be carried away 
                 by certain books which captivate people of feeble brain power 
                 because of certain subtleties which they savor.... 
                 On the contrary, have about you books of solid doctrine, 
                 and especially Christian and spiritual books,
                 so as to find sound recreation in them from time to time.'

                  St. Francis de Sales

                       Painting: Edmund Charles Tarbell, in US public domain due to age

Saturday, October 25, 2014

In Need of Thread

'All that exterior activity 
is a waste of time if you lack love. 
It's like sewing with a needle and no thread.'

St. Josemaria Escriva

Painting: Philip Wilson Steer

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Do We See This Happening?

'Sin becomes 
much more scandalous 
when the sinner is 
for his position.'

Pope St. Gregory the Great

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

And So I Choose......

'Life with Christ is an endless hope; 
without Him, a hopeless end.'


Painting:  Luis Astete y Concha, Woman in Wheat Field

Sunday, October 19, 2014

But Truth Will Prevail in the End

'Error may flourish for a time, 
but truth will prevail 
in the end. 
The only effect of error 
is to 
promote truth.'

Blessed John Henry Newman

Painting: Chełmoński, Cross in a blizzard

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Notice How They Preach

'Listen to the sermon preached to you by the flowers, the trees, the shrubs, the sky, and the whole world. Notice how they preach to you a sermon full of love, of praise of God, and how they invite you to glorify the sublimity of that sovereign Artist who has given them being.'

St. Paul of the Cross

Painting: H. A. Brendekilde, A Wooded Path in Autumn, 1902

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

But I Shall Call it Conversion

     'Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
     and sorry I could not travel both 
     and be one traveler, long I stood,
     and looked down one as far as I could
     to where it bent in the undergrowth;

     Then took the other, as just as fair,
     and having perhaps the better claim,
     because it was grassy and wanted wear,
     though as for that the passing there
     had worn them really about the same.

     And both that morning equally lay
     in leaves no step had trodden black.
     Oh, I kept the first for another day!
     Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
     I doubted if I should ever come back.

     I shall be telling this with a sigh
     somewhere ages and ages hence:
     Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - 
     I took the one less traveled by,
     and that has made all the difference.'

     The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

     (...but as for my own life, I shall just call it 'Conversion')

        Painting: Henry Ward Ranger, Autumn Woodlands

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Very Common Temptation

'We should never 
postpone a good work, 
no matter 
how small it may be, 
with the thought 
of doing something greater. 
It is a very common temptation 
of the enemy to be 
always placing before us
the perfection 
of things to come, 
causing us to 
make little of the present.'

St. Ignatius Loyola 

Painting: Charles Courtney Curran, in US public domain due to age


Friday, October 10, 2014

In Which I Bend Rules and Answer All the Questions

One thing I love about blog awards is being able to answer all the things. It's like settling back for a relaxing conversation with dear friends. In this case: you!

Laura at String of Pearls has generously nominated me for a Liebster award. Thank you, Laura, for such a great honor! And while I'm going to break bend the official Leibster rules a bit (more on that later), I will answer the questions Laura presented, and I'll have fun with them, and I solemnly promise to respond to the best of my ability so help me Aging Brain.

Laura's questions:

1. Do you have a favorite saint, and what drew you to him/her?
    I'd have to go with St. Francis de Sales. I was drawn to him by... I think by him! That's a long story, of post-length all on its own, and maybe I'll write it down one day. The main thing is that this saint and Doctor of the Church taught lay people about their call to live totally for Christ.
     Not so radical, you say? Actually, In the 1600s .... it kind of was.

 2. Do you have a best-loved book that you've read multiple times?  (And will you probably read it again?)  Or do you always just read a book once and pass it on to others?
     Admission: my books alone would qualify me for one of those programs about hoarders.
     Oh dear. Did I just write that out loud? The thing is: after (and before) they've been read, books become my wallpaper. I love living surrounded by them. I "blame" that, in large part, on cozy rainy afternoons in the used books store when I was a child. Which is all to say I'm rather selfish about passing them on. BUT!  I do actually re-read many of them, and pass portions on to you, right here.
     And best loved ones? Oh, so many! Treatise on the Love of God by St. Francis de Sales. St. Faustina's Diary. And from the strictly secular end: To Kill a Mockingbird (is that everyone's favorite?), and the poetry of Robert Frost. 

3. What is your family's Christmas Eve tradition?
    That changes year-to-year, now that the children are grown and cherished grandchildren are in the picture.

4. When you dress up in heels, do you wear panty hose/tights, or do you go bare-legged?
    I haven't worn heels in ages, but when I wear 'dress' shoes, I always wear hose.

5. How did you and your husband meet?
    Through God's grace to help me make a good decision, and I'm absolutely certain that was the case. It was a Memorial Day, I was in college, and I was invited to a party. I'd been to a gathering with this basic group of people before, and it had gotten a bit wilder than I was comfortable with. But this was a holiday, after all, so I figured I'd probably just go.
    Then I got a phone call from the president of the Catholic student center at my University. Would I like to come over that night to do some typing for their Mass bulletin? I'd wanted to get to know some Catholic students, so I made a decision right there on the spot. I'd go for the typing.
    Boy, did I take flak for that one! Type instead of going to a cool party...? On Memorial Day?!?! ("what on EARTH has happened to Nancy?!"). The typing took about half an hour, and then - well, what do you know. There was a party right there, in the kitchen of a priest-chaplain! Into the gathering walked a tall, smiling young man and that, as they say, was that. He called me the next night and talked for over two hours (he told me later that he was trying to get up the nerve to ask me out). We dated for a year, became best friends as well as sweethearts, saw each other nearly every day, and he called me absolutely every day. We sent silly greeting cards to each other constantly, and we went to the Catholic student center chapel to make visits to the Blessed Sacrament as an end to many of our dates (his idea). We married thirteen months after that first meeting.
    Typing on Memorial Day? It turned out that decision was worth any amount of "flak" I had to endure.

6. What's your go-to prayer in times of distress?
    The Sign of the Cross, and the aspiration "'Jesus, I trust in You."

7. Where is the one place in the world you would visit if you could?
    Annecy, France, where Sts, Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal founded the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary. Anyway, Annecy is a charming little town.  See...............................................?

8. How many siblings do you have?
    I had one sister, thirteen years older than I. She's no longer living.

9. Are you a worrier?  (I'm worried you'll think that's a weird question.)
    I'm worried that if I say yes, you'll think I don't trust in God enough. And I'm worried that if I say no, I won't be entirely truthful. I'm worried that I'm worrying too much about what you'll think, either way. I'm worried that I should trust God with my feelings as much as with my decisions, but of course I can help my decisions but not my feelings. I'm worried that I might be over-thinking this. I'm worried that I might be, in fact, a worrier. I'm worried that I will never actually get around to answering this question.
    Am I a worrier? Hmm. Think I need some help answering that. What do you think......

10. What, if any, sport do you enjoy watching the most?
    Thank you for the "if any." In my case, it definitely applies.  In my high school and college days I did like basketball, but that was looooooong ago. Now I can ... sort of ... tolerate watching ice skating and surfing, but I get bored quickly even with those.

Now: here's the part where I break the rules. I do hope you will forgive me, but you see, I really wanted to answer Laura's fun questions, and this blog has been "'Liebstered" before, and I think I've passed the award on to a number of other bloggers and now I can't remember who they are (oooops), and there are many blogs I'd like to pass it along to but I'm WORRIED that I'll leave out a blog that I love, love, love simply because my memory is old and creaky, creaky, creaky.

So - instead of posing questions and officially nominating anyone, I am simply going to call your attention to a few blogs that probably don't take "blog questions" anyway.  If you have not found these yet, you just might thank me for telling you about them (and you're welcome!).

I encourage you to visit these ....

Ben O'Neill at Walk with Me.  Ben is a young man serving as a missionary with FOCUS, and his enthusiastic dedication to God is contagious.

Victoria's Art. I find Victoria's artwork stunning. It's a big word, 'stunning,' and I mean every bit of its bigness. Not only does Victoria share her finished work, she often takes us through her process of creating it. Check it out!

The Mad Eyed Monk.  I've mentioned this blog here before, but the writer has begun posting again after a little break. Hers is good poetry.  And I mean really good poetry.  Poetry shows, it does not tell, a writing teacher said years ago. Check out this blog and I think you'll see what that means.

Linda Maran's blogs, particularly It's Time for Pain Free, Prep Free Living and Linda Maran, Freelance Writer. Linda writes Christian fiction, Amish novels, and self-help nonfiction.

If any of these four bloggers would like to accept the Liebster Award, please consider this a nomination. You can add this (or any as I understand it) Liebster "badge" to your sidebar.

Thank you again, Laura. And may God bless us, every one!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Where You Are Meant to Be

'May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.'

St. Therese of Lisieux

Painting: William Bouguereau, Kiss

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Vanity of Beads

Has it been only a year since I admitted my blatant first grade disobedience, the act of defiance that for some (surely angelic) reason did not get me immediately expelled from school? I feel I told of it ages ago; probably because I've always clearly remembered taking pencil in hand and writing on my desk, bearing down reeeaally hard with the point, just when I was certain Sister would be watching.

Vanity of vanities, it was all because of the beads.

If you should care to, you can re-visit that story by clicking here. 

Angel of God, my Guardian Dear, thank you for always staying so near.....

This Delight

'In God alone 
is there primordial and true delight, 
and in all our delights it is this delight that we are seeking.'

St. Bonaventure

Painting: 'Portrait of the Artist's Son'