Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Go Through the Motions, Again

Today I'm doing something a little different. Assuming it's fine to "just link up" to this beautiful gathering, I'm offering an older post and sharing it again here - and with everyone at It's Worth Revisiting Wednesday. Click this line to see what others have to offer!

This was first posted on July 29, 2013.... 

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.  

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

I pray for grace to go through the motions.

Painting above: Sir Samuel Luke fildes 1882

With thanks to It's Worth Revisiting Wednesday for the link-up!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

One of the Glories

'One of the glories 
of Scripture 
is that it can embrace many
meanings in a single passage.'

St. Thomas Aquinas

Painting: Georges de la tour

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Perfect Saint for Bloggers

St. Francis de Sales is patron of Catholic writers.  As a blogger, therefore, I happily claim him as patron of me. 

As the Church celebrates his feast today, I can easily imagine him sitting with a laptop, clicking out the good news that indeed Jesus lives. 

Francis wrote voluminously.  Not only is he known for his books, but for his (numerous) letters. 

He also composed short papers and pamphlets for wide distribution, to help clarify the faith in a time when confusion abounded.  

I like to imagine him patting today's Catholic bloggers on the back, encouraging us to 'keep it up' as we distribute our witness to the Truth in THIS age of the Church and in the turbulence of our world. 

Francis de Sales was a bishop and founder of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary.  He was definitely a busy man in France in the early 1600s. Still, he found time to take up his quill pen and spread the good news of Christ.

As we clack away at our keyboards, often in wee hours of the morning or while a baby naps, I'd like to think our patron is praying for us.  

I have a feeling he is doing just that.  

(this is an edited re-post from our earliest archives)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Lest Through Weariness, I Should Not Wish to Seek You

                      'O Lord, my God, my only hope, hear me,
                        lest through weariness I should not wish to seek You... 

                        Give me the strength to seek, You Who have caused me to find You,
                        and have given me the hope of finding You more and more.'
                                                                             St. Augustine

                               Painting: John Singer Sargent, Repose, in US public domain due to age

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Can You Ask for a Louder Voice Than That?

"Creation is a great book. Look above you; look below you! Note it! Read it! ... 
God did not write that book with ink. Instead, He set before your eyes 
the things that He had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that? 
Why, heaven and earth cry out to you: 'God made me!'"

St. Augustine

Painting: Peder Mørk Mønsted, Wood in Snow, in US public domain due to age {{PD-1923}}

Monday, January 19, 2015

My Little Omelet

'I flip 
my little omelet 
in the frying pan 
for the love of God.'

Brother Lawrence

Painting: Anker Die kleine Kartoffelschälerin 1886

Sunday, January 18, 2015

When to Pray?


'The Christian prays in every situation; 
in his walks for recreation, in his dealings with others, 
in silence, in reading, in all rational pursuits.'

St. Clement of Alexandria

Painting: Charles Courtney Curran, Breakfast for Three, 1909, in US public domain due to age

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Where Have all the Stories Gone?

I have been asked, on several occasions, where this blog's "stories" have gone. I used to write them frequently, oh yes I did. True and Amazing accounts of mailing letters in my mother's breadbox, of blatantly disobeying on my first day of school, of blue velvet ribbons on purple cake. I even wrote about my earliest romantic adventures (...what? You say you missed that one...?) and I've shared a number of serious, prayerful reflections along the way. 

I still "write,"and much of that can be found at my other blog, The Cloistered Heart. And I hope to continue rambling over here also, from time to time. However, nothing matches what the saints have said over the centuries. And certainly no words come close to those of Sacred Scripture. What incredible treasures we have in these!

As for me, I'm a personal fan of not-too-lengthy blog posts. I like finding a nugget, a thought, a few words of inspiration to send me on my way.  From what some of you have told me, you do as well. It is my hope that Breadbox Letters can continue sharing little bits of saints' wisdom as we go through our (often hectic) days.

But for those who wondered where all the stories went, I've gathered links on a stand-alone page, with little snippets and thumbnails of each, so we can find what's what. I will continue linking things I run across in our archives.

Thanks for being here (do I thank you enough? Nope - I couldn't possibly!). It's SO GOOD to know we're on this Homeward journey together! I thank God for you daily - I absolutely do. 

Along the way, if you should want to find longer reflections - or occasional touches of silliness - our new Stories page can be found just under the blog header.  Or, of course, by clicking here.

May God bless us, every one.    

Sebastian Stoskopff painting, digitally altered

Monday, January 12, 2015

Treasure in the Old Bookshop, Revisited

The shop was long and narrow, dimly lit by naked bulbs dangling from the ceiling. It was a shadowed, solemn, wondrous place, tucked away in a dusty corner of the city where shops didn't sparkle like the department stores over on Main. Mysterious and musty it was, filled with rows and racks and piles of volumes. Used hardbacks, yellowing paperbacks, comics... all stacked haphazardly and ready for a rummager's quest.

I'd step out of the light of day and onto the squeaky wood floor in search of buried treasure.
It was my own personal library, but the best part was: I could read the books and then I could keep them!  No stamps inside warning that this was a "14 day book," no falling in love with a whole fictional family only to have to dump them on a library counter at the end of the month.

I was allowed to buy all of the books I could carry, pretty much.. and this because of the kind man who took me to the bookstore. My father, who (okay, I'll admit it) spoiled me.  Rather than leaving me home on a Saturday so he could go rummage for his own treasures at "our bookshop," he patiently took his bubbly little buddy and shelled out who-knows-how-much for mystery stories I would stay up much too late reading.  I think back now and imagine the one sided "conversations" he had to endure on the drives home, as I cradled newfound treasures in my arms (no putting them in a bag for me, no sir) and rattled on about this being the EXACT Nancy Drew I've been wanting and oh LOOK at the green cover on this book it's JUST like leather and omigosh I once got this one from the library and then couldn't find it ever again and oh Daddy isn't this just the best BEST day?

Today I live surrounded with shadows of our bookshop.  Shadows of a good kind, as I savor the comfort of books lining walls of my home.  Shadows of a better kind, as I thank God for a father who was generous with
his attention and his time.  These shadows of the better kind are ones I hope I've passed along to my own children, and now to my grandchildren as we share games and books and make-believe. I pray to be generous with my attention and my time, helping them make memory-shadows of their own.

And I live with shadows of the best kind, because the generosity and attention of my earthly father was, itself, a dim shadow of the attention of my Heavenly Father.  

I can only imagine how HE looks upon me when I accept with joy His outpouring of gifts.  Think of how it must please Him when we bubble over with thanks and praise.

There are treasures all around, if I just look for them.  It is again time for some counting, and some thanking. And who knows?  I might even bubble just a bit....

(this is a slightly edited version of a post from our archives) 

Photo on this post © 2015 N Shuman


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Only be Careful

'Laugh and play and dash about 
as much as you like, only be careful 
not to say or do anything that would be displeasing to God.'

St. Mary Mazzarello

Painting: William James Glackens, Central Park

Thursday, January 8, 2015

What to Do With Suffering

'To endure your sufferings in union with the sufferings of Jesus, is to do much.'

Dom Marmion

Painting: Aby Altson, Flood Sufferings, 1890 Australia, from collection of National Gallery of Victoria

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Toward Holy Thoughts and Good Desires

'As the reading of bad books fills the mind with worldly and poisonous sentiments; 
so, on the other hand, 
the reading of pious works fills the soul with holy thoughts and good desires.'

St. Alphonsus Liguori

Painting: Marie Bashkirtseff

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Daily Sainthood

'Jacob did not cease to be a saint because he had to attend to his flocks.'

St. Teresa of Avila

Painting: Joseph Farquharson, in US public domain due to age