Monday, March 31, 2014

It's Only Write

I like the fact that this blog is a mixture.  Here, I can share antics of my amazing (you know I'm not biased) grandchildren, Bunny, Linus and Doodlebug.  Here, I've told you about my first day of school, and my first date, and that day when I went swimming and the dog died.  Snippets of my spiritual journey are here to be seen.  I enjoy matching artwork with prayers; my soul soars as I do so.

After two and a half years of doing it, I can honestly say:  I love to blog.  

Now some of my friends are entering a month-long exercise of "blogging the alphabet."  What a fun way to get into a daily habit of writing!  I actually considered taking this up myself.  But then, reality hit.

You know, Reality.  That 'thing' that slaps us square in the face and wakes us up to, well - to Itself.  The fact is, I never know what's going on from one day to the next (just like everyone).  But (and this is the kicker), if something were to slide while my life got busier, that thing just might be - prayer.

Oh, I hate to admit that.

So, I'm not doing the official challenge (whatever it's called) of signing on to blog the alphabet in a month.  After all, how silly would that be for a person who already has two ongoing, very active blogs?!

I have, instead, done something utterly Logical.

I've begun another blog.

Will that one last more than a few weeks?  I don't know.  For now, it will be a place to plop a bit of writing, where I can try blogging the alphabet at a ponderous pace.  Where I won't care if I'm still talking about bananas while everyone else is sharing stories of ladybugs and lunch.  I just might tell about the first thing I remember writing ('Heaven, Hell and Prigatory'), or that handsome boy called Eiknarf who rode the city bus.

In the meantime, this blog will continue with pictures and quotes and the occasional story - as always.  'The Cloistered Heart' will keep looking into what its analogies mean to us who live for God in the midst of the world.

And 'It's Only Write' will become...... whatever it's meant to be.

God willing, I'll be back here tomorrow with something for us all to ponder.  And if you have a minute, stop in at itsonlywrite.blogspot.com .

I am much more curious than you are to see what might happen over there. 

Painting:  Albert Anker Junge Frau einen Brief schreibend 1903

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What is the Nothing?


                      'Let me ask myself to whom my thoughts turn oftenest - God or self?
                      As I go about my daily tasks, passing from one place to another,
                      thinking, so to say, of nothing -
                      What is the nothing?
                      What is the subject of my daydreaming and castle-building?
                      Is it how I might help Christ to save souls and defeat satan, or
                      how I shall add to my personal comfort and happiness?' 
  
                             (from Fervorinos from the Lips of the Master, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1940, p. 57)

                             Painting:  Ethel Porter Bailey, Reflections


Monday, March 24, 2014

Have I Seen Errors in the World's Propaganda?

'We... afraid of being left behind in contemporary thought, assent too readily to the conclusions of a humanist and materialist society...

'The movement of the world slides over our preference for spiritual things, and we wake up to find that we have accepted earthly things at the world's valuation.  

'It is only the wisdom of the Spirit that can show up the more hidden errors contained in the world's propaganda, and to possess our share of this wisdom, we have to pray. 

'Prayer alone assures both the light to see and the strength to resist.'

(Dom Hubert Van Zeller, the Yoke of Divine Love, Templegate, 1957, p.  36)







Painting:  Edward Burne-Jones, 
Study for the Garden Court

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Morning Exercise


Today I re-read the following advice from one of my favorite saints.  It is so practical, so concise, that I might just print it out and tape it to my mirror.  And to the bedroom door.  And to the window.  And to the computer screen (in case I forget to look everywhere else).

In his "Spiritual Directory," St. Francis de Sales proposes a simple morning exercise.  He counsels us to keep this prayer "brief and fervent..."

A.  Think.  Thank God and adore Him...

B.  Consider:  The gift of the present day is a preparation for eternity.  Make a firm resolution to use the day well for this intention.

C.  Look Ahead:  Foresee opportunities in which to serve God.  Anticipate whatever temptations might occur.  Prepare yourself by a good resolution to avoid carefully whatever might be against God's glory and your salvation.  Then consider how you plan to carry out this resolution. 

D.  Humble Yourself:  Acknowledge your dependence upon God.  Hold your heart in your hands and offer it to His love, together with your good intentions.  Ask His protection, His strength, that you be successful in His service.  (from In the Midst of the World by Sister Joanna Marie Wenzel VHM, Visitation Sisters, Brooklyn NY) 

St. Francis de Sales, ora pro nobis!

Painting:  Moritz von Schwind, Early Morning

Thursday, March 20, 2014

If Dark Clouds Hide You


'With bold surrender, I wish to remain gazing upon You, O Lord, my divine Sun.  Nothing will frighten me, neither wind nor rain, and if dark clouds come and hide You from my gaze, I will not change my place, because I know that beyond the clouds You still shine on and Your brightness is not eclipsed for a single instant....

St. Therese of Lisieux

Painting:  Nikolai N Dubowski, in US public domain due to age


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Do Not Forget Him in Prosperity


 'When you receive some pleasant news, do not act as certain unfaithful and ungrateful persons are wont to do.  They pray to God in adversity but forget and abandon Him in prosperity...

'Go at once to God and tell Him of your joy, praise and thank Him for it, and thus acknowledge that it is entirely a gift from His bounty.  And rejoice in this happiness, because it has been bestowed on you by His good pleasure.'

St. Alphonsus de Liguori

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

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Scars of My Sins

 
'O most excellent and all powerful Lord, 
I consider attentively the scars of my sins, 
with which I have been wounded since childhood.  
I weep because time has gone by uselessly.  
My strength is not enough to sustain my weariness, 
because it has been exhausted in vanity.  
Since You are the source of all goodness and mercy, 
I implore You to have pity on me.  
Touch my heart with the hand of Your love, 
because you are the best doctor, 
console my soul, 
because You are the good consoler.'

St. Bridget 

Painting:  Arthur Hacker, The Drone

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Oh My Lord, What a Day




                               'Oh my Lord, what a day
                               when I shall have done once and for all with all sins,
                               and shall stand perfect and acceptable in Your sight,
                               able to bear Your presence, nothing shrinking from Your eye,
                               not shrinking from the scrutiny of angels and archangels,
                               when I stand in the midst and they around me.

                               'Oh my God, though I am not fit to see or touch You yet,
                               still I will ever come within Your reach,
                               and desire that which is not yet given me in its fullness.' 

                               Blessed John Henry Newman

                                         Painting:  Thomas Cooper Gotch, The Awakening

Monday, March 10, 2014

I Changed This Blog, and Look What Happened!


I have been busy.  Changing this blog.  Freshening its appearance.  Making the background entirely white.  Smart.  2014.  Airy.  Fresh!  Fresh!  Fresh!

Not only that, I worked on mechanics.  Took things off the sidebar.  Tried to unclutter.  Made things clean.  Sleek.  Bright.  Trendy, but not ultra.  Youthful, but not childish.  Friendly, but not too. 

And all because I'd read an article, and realized I was doing everything wrong.  EVERY. THING.  Goodness, I don't even have a single sidebar ad.  Nothing shimmers, nothing flashes, nothing moves.  Anyway, I've been looking at some really smart blogs myself lately.  You know, the ones that look like magazines.  Sooo up to date.  And I say that with admiration - I think they look pretty cool (do people still use phrases like "pretty cool?").

(have you left yet?  left me talking to myself while you google "Catholic blogs" to find something much more pretty-cool on which to spend your time?)

At least I had one thing "right" (according to the article).   Whether I'm rambling (as right now) or sharing a quote, the posts here are brief ones.  We can blame that on my own short attention span.  You might be like me, I figure, and may appreciate just a thought, a prayer, a painting.  And I must admit that I love thoughts of saints, I love prayers, I love art.  Combining an appropriate painting with a great quote is downright thrilling to me, and in that I do not exaggerate.  I love this kind of blogging.  It's like digging for treasure, and then being able to share it.

Oh - and that new stark white background?  You might have noticed that you don't see it.  It took me about five minutes to realize that my improvements were no such things. 

Let's face it.  That's a great look for lots of blogs.  But it's not such a good match for one with paintings from the 1800s and quotes from people who wrote four centuries ago.

So here I sit, still comfortable in my same beige surroundings.

And oh, I'm so happy to keep digging for treasure.

Thank you, You, for sharing the discoveries with me.

George Goodwin Kilburne painting, in US public domain due to age

Friday, March 7, 2014

Why Wait?



'With what procrastination do you wait, since from this very moment you can love God in your heart?'

St. John of the Cross

Painting:  Czach√≥rski; Pensive

Thursday, March 6, 2014

40 Day Road


'O Jesus, Who were obedient unto death, You would not have one
that loves You well take any other road than that which You Yourself took.'  

St.  Teresa of Avila

Painting: David Friedrich Caspar

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Martyrdom of Me



Today I realized something about myself.  I don't mind suffering!  Physical distress, poverty, pain:  none of these bother me at all, as long as I'm not inconvenienced or uncomfortable. 

I've read gripping works about Christians in horrid circumstances.  St. Therese on her deathbed, Ignatius of Antioch on his way to martyrdom, John of the Cross imprisoned, Immaculee Ilibagiza huddled in a bathroom.  I usually read these things at night, under soft blankets in my cozy house.  From my comfort zone, I am inspired and challenged and ready to endure anything for God.

And then I wonder if someone might have misunderstood something I wrote about prayer.  Or if I might be getting a headache.  Or maybe I'm asked to go a teeeeeny bit out of my way to help someone else.  Alas and alack.  Such things can feel like the very martyrdom of me.  

(back of hand to forehead; long sigh........)

This is not my first blog post about this kind of thing.  Shouldn't I be getting 'better' by now?

I would say yes and no.  Yes, in that I should be growing in acceptance of God's will, whatever that may entail.  Hopefully that is happening.  

And no, in the sense that I will surely always dread suffering.  That is only human, only normal.  I would even say that the dread and misery makes the gut-wrenching acceptance of God's will (when it involves suffering) all the more valuable.  It is a matter of choice, and I can choose God's will regardless of how I may feel.  

I do not have the grace to endure facing lions or being imprisoned, because at this moment I don't need it.  If a lion ever comes for me, God will provide all the lion-grace I need.   

The grace to endure a headache?  Yes, that I am frequently given.  I'm sorry to say that all too often I've been too busy fretting or complaining to see and accept that grace as the gift it is.       

So I shall sit back against my fluffy pillows, maybe with a cup of tea, and let God inspire me with words like these.....

'Permit me to imitate my suffering God... I am God's wheat, and I shall be ground by the teeth of beasts, that I may become the pure bread of Christ.'  (St. Ignatius of Antioch, just before his martyrdom)

'In temporal crosses let God touch and strike whatever string on the lute He chooses.  Never will He make but a good harmony.'  (St. Francis de Sales) 

'Three times I was beaten with rods; I was stoned once, shipwrecked three times; I passed a day and night on the sea.  I traveled continually, endangered by floods, robbers, my own people, the Gentiles; imperiled in the city, in the desert, in the sea, by false brothers; enduring labor, hardship, many sleepless nights; in hunger and thirst and frequent fastings; in cold and nakedness.  Leaving other sufferings unmentioned, there is that daily tension pressing on me, my anxiety for all the churches.. if I must boast, I will make a point of my weaknesses.'  (2 Corinthians 11:25-30)

'If we only knew the precious treasure hidden in infirmities, we would receive them without complaining or showing signs of weariness.'  (St. Vincent de Paul)

'You are quite willing to have a cross, but you want to have the choice; you would have it common, physical, and of such or such a sort.  How is this, my well beloved daughter?  Ah no, I desire that your cross and mine be entirely of Jesus Christ.  As to the imposition of them and the choice, the good God knows what He does and why He does it, all for our good.'  (St. Francis de Sales)

Painting:  Ferdinand Max Bredt

This post is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Linkup Blitz

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Everyday Work


'The fullness of life that God rightly expects from His children 
means that they have to have a careful concern for the quality 
of their everyday work, because it is this work, 
even in its most minor aspects, 
that they must sanctify.'

St. Josemaria Escriva

Painting: Charles Courtney Curran, Shadows

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Don't Wait...


'Don't wait until tomorrow to begin becoming a saint.'  

St. Therese of Lisieux

Painting:  Schmaltz, Portrait of young girl with red umbrella