Thursday, December 31, 2015

52 Saints ~ Introduction and a Few Suggestions

Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, Van Eyck
The 52 Saints series begins this Sunday with Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity. If you did not know about this series before now, a group of friends and I are going to write posts about a different Saint each Sunday in 2016. All the weeks are not taken, so if you are interested in joining us, please let me know.

When you read the post about Bl. Elizabeth, you will see that the entire first section is about how I came to choose this saint--well, about how I didn't exactly choose her. The reason I wrote about this at such length is so that you might see that there are more possibilities to this series than perhaps you have imagined. It's fine to write about a saint with whom you are already familiar, and whose story you want to share--especially if your experience with the saint is part of the story--but you might also consider praying about who you ought to choose and keep your eyes open for someone new. So, while I will need to know about a month, or so in advance who is writing about whom and when, I'm not asking anyone to commit to every saint now. Of course, if you know whom you want to write about, let me know so someone else won't get there first.

There are two pages on the sidebar, one with a list of the people who have said they will write and the saints they have chosen, and the one with the definite schedule. You will see that the first four weeks are covered. You can't leave comments there because I have found that it is when people comment on the pages (as opposed to posts) that the comments quit working right. If you want to tell me something you can leave a comment here, or email me.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

52 Authors Complete

As many of you know, for the the past 52 weeks, a group of those who frequent Maclin Horton's blog, Light on Dark Water, have been writing about a different author every week. Here is the complete index.

Week 1: Flannery O'Connor

Week 2: Thomas Howard

Week 3: Salman Rushdie

Week 4: Mark Helprin

Week 5: Henri de Lubac

Week 6: Robert Scheckley

Week 7: P. G. Wodehouse

Week 8: Hans Urs von Balthasar

Week 9: Ronald Blythe

Week 10: Larry McMurtry

Week 11: Imre Madach

Week 12: J. R. R. Tolkien

Week 13: Dean Koontz

Week 14: Rosemary Sutcliff

Week 15: Hilaire Belloc

Week 16: Madeleine L'Engle

Week 17: Christopher Derrick

Week 18: T. S. Eliot

Week 19: Etienne Gilson

Week 20: Penelope Fitzgerald

Week 21: Elizabeth Goudge

Week 22: Laura Ingalls Wilder

Week 23: Gillian Allnut

Week 24: Anne Pellowski

Week 25: Josef Skvorecky

Week 26: E. B. White

Week 27: Ross MacDonald

Week 28: W. S. Merwin

Week 29: Josephine Tey

Week 30: William Butler Yeats

Week 31: John Henry Cardinal Newman

Week 32: Thomas Mann

Week 33: Marion Montgomery

Week 34: G. K. Chesterton

Week 35: Sydney Taylor

Week 36: Charles Dickens

Week 37: Alexander McCall Smith

Week 38: Chaim Potok

Week 39: Graham Greene

Week 40: Mary Douglas

Week 41: Louise Fitzhugh

Week 42: Gerard Manley Hopkins, S. J.

Week 43: Madison Jones

Week 44: Rumer Godden

Week 45: Jane Austen

Week 46: Leo Tolstoy

Week 47: Walker Percy

Week 48: Mary Renault

Week 49: Thomas Merton

Week 50: George Orwell

Week 51: David Hume

Week 52: Jean Daniélou


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Reed of God ~ The Lost Child

The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple, stained glass by Mary Lowndes,
after William Holman Hunt
When my youngest daughter was a child, she used to ask me why The Finding in the Temple was a mystery. I never had a very good answer to that question. Then the first page of this chapter made it clear to me. Why was it that Jesus let his mother think that He was lost?
Why did Christ treat Our Lady in this way?
Well, that is a mystery indeed.

We all lose our children in some way. As they grow up we lose those lovely, cuddly babies who teach us things about love and fear that we never understood before. We lose those hysterically funny three year olds, masters of comedy and philosophy both. We lose those wonder-filled early school aged children. We lose them for a time, or maybe for the rest of our lives, when some tragedy, physical or emotional, separates us. And, Miss Houselander explains, Mary suffers the loss of her son so that she can share this with us. She, the perfect model of her Son, undergoes a purification she does not need.
But during her whole life she accepted everything which in our case is a necessary purification but in her case was the proof that she loved us with Christ's love.
And she did not suffer only the loss of a child, she suffered the loss of God, and as Miss Houselander says:
Everyone experiences this loss of the Divine Child. Everyone knows it in different ways, and in different degrees.
Mary experienced this not only when Jesus was lost at the age of twelve, but at times throughout her life when He was traveling and preaching and she did not know where He was. She suffered His loss at the foot of the cross, and yet again when He ascended into Heaven. And so, when He seems so very far away from us, we know that she has been there before us. As she trusted Him completely in this darkness, she can teach us to trust Him likewise.

This is going to be the last post in this series this year. I may finish up the book at some other time, maybe in Lent. I'm sure next week will be too busy for me to write much and probably too busy for anyone else to read.

All of the posts in this series can be found by clicking HERE.
Unfortunately they are in reverse order, so you have to scroll down to get to the beginning.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Dwell on These Things ~ Third Saturday of Advent

A few more pictures from last weekend. Taken on the Second Saturday of Advent. You can click on a picture once (not twice) and see a slideshow of all of them.

I'm pretty sure this is St. Francis, since it's in an area dedicated to him, but he is holding a dove, which, since the name of the retreat center is St. Columba, is quite appropriate.

Twelth station. 

I really love all these gray and brown shades of winter with just an occasional touch of color.

Lonely little berry

If you want to see all of the posts in this series, click HERE.


Novena to St. Martin de Porres

Prayer to St Martin de Porres (Begin with this prayer every day.)

Most humble Martin de Porres, your burning charity embraced not only the poor and needy but even the animals of the field. For your splendid example of charity, we honour you and invoke your help. From your place in heaven, hear the requests of your needy brethren, so that, by imitating your virtues we may live contentedly in that state in which God has placed us. And carrying our cross with strength and courage, may we follow in the footsteps of our blessed Redeemer and his most sorrowful mother, so that at last we may reach the kingdom of heaven through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

First Day
St Martin’s Humility
St Martin imitated our Lord Who was meek and humble of heart. There was no pride or vanity in Martin, who realized that God is our Creator and that we are His creatures. Martin understood that God loves us as children and only wants us to be happy. So he had the wisdom to surrender entirely to the holy will of God. Let us imitate St Martin by humbly doing the will of God in all things.

Prayer: St Martin, ask our Lord and his Blessed Mother to give us the grace of true humility that we may not become proud, but may be contented with the gifts that God gives us. Obtain for us the light of the Holy Spirit that we may understand, as you did that pride is an obstacle to union with God, and that true happiness comes only from doing the will of God. Amen.

Recite one Our Father, ten Hail Marys, one Glory Be.
St Martin de Porres, pray for us.

Second Day
St Martin’s Love of God
St Martin was entirely filled with the fire of God’s love. He knew that God sent His Son into the world to suffer and die on the cross for our sins. This thought stirred Martin’s heart with deep affection for so loving a Redeemer, and his whole life gave evidence of his sincere gratitude. May we, too, learn to love our Saviour more and more and show our love by our good works.

Prayer: St Martin, why are our hearts so cold and lacking in love for the Son of God, who became a little child for our salvation? Why are we so slow to love Jesus, who loved us so much that he gave his life for us? Ask God and Our Lady of Sorrows to make us realize that the only way to happiness is by loving and serving God with our whole heart and soul. Amen.

Recite one Our Father, ten Hail Marys, one Glory Be.
St Martin de Porres, pray for us.

Third Day
St Martin’s Love for the Poor
St Martin was called “The Father of the Poor.” He saw the poor, the sick, and the dying as children of God, and he helped them in a thousand practical ways. He studied medicine that he might know how to cure the sick. Every day he distributed alms to the poor. He built an orphanage for children. Let us imitate the charity of St Martin, that God may bless us as He blessed him.

Prayer: St Martin, teach us to be generous with the gifts that God has given us. Make us sympathetic toward those who are suffering and afflicted. Pray to our Redeemer and to Our Lady of Mercy that we may always be kind and generous to our neighbours because they are the children of our heavenly Father. Amen.

Recite one Our Father, ten Hail Marys, one Glory Be.
St Martin de Porres, pray for us.

Fourth Day
St Martin’s Faith

St Martin had a lively faith in all the teachings of the Catholic Church. He knew the Church was founded by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who came to teach us the way to the Father. God rewarded St Martin’s humble faith by enlightening his mind so that he could understand the mysteries of our holy religion. May God give us the grace always to believe the truths which he has revealed.

Prayer: O St Martin, we need strong faith in God and His holy Church, especially in these days when religion is often considered unimportant. Bring all people to a knowledge and love of the true Church, that they may find the way of salvation and happiness. Ask Christ and Our Lady of Good Counsel to make us faithful disciples of Jesus Christ in life and in death. Amen.

Recite one Our Father, ten Hail Marys, one Glory Be.
St Martin de Porres, pray for us.

Fifth Day
St Martin’s Confidence in God

St Martin put all his trust in the goodness and promises of God. He hoped to obtain an eternal reward, through the grace of God and the merits of Jesus Christ. We know that St Martin’s trust in God was not in vain. We, too, are confident that God will forgive us our sins if we are truly sorry, and that he will give us everlasting life if we serve Him faithfully, by obeying His commandments.

Prayer: St Martin, help us to have a great confidence in almighty God. Make us understand that He is one friend Who will never desert us. Keep us from foolishly presuming that we will be saved without doing our part, but keep us also from despair, which forgets the mercy of God. Ask Jesus and His Mother to increase in our hearts faith, hope and charity. Amen.

Recite one Our Father, ten Hail Marys, one Glory Be.
St Martin de Porres, pray for us.

Sixth Day
St Martin’s Devotion to Prayer

St Martin kept his mind and heart always lifted up to the Creator of all things. His prayer came from the depths of his being, not just from his lips. He naturally turned to praise and thank God, and to ask Him for help. St Martin prayed with humility and perseverance, and God answered his prayers in miraculous ways. Martin will pray for us before the throne of God in heaven.

Prayer: St Martin, help us to have great faith in Christ’s promise: “Ask and it will be given you; search and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you” (Mt 7:7). Make us faithful in participating in Holy Mass and in devoting time to personal prayer every day, to obtain the blessings of God. Ask the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary to intercede for us too. Amen.

Recite one Our Father, ten Hail Marys, one Glory Be.
St Martin de Porres, pray for us.

Seventh Day
St Martin’s Spirit of Penance

St Martin was a hard worker who dedicated all his energies to his ministry. He did not seek an easy comfortable life. Even though he laboured so hard, he also imposed on himself severe penances for his sins and the salvation of others. If so holy a man did penances, how much more should we, who have seriously offended God by our sins!

Prayer: St Martin, from you we learn how to be dedicated and unselfish. You teach us to avoid idleness and self-seeking. Give us some of that spirit of penance which you had, so that we may be constant in the struggle with temptation. Ask Jesus crucified and Mary, the Queen of Martyrs, to give us the grace to fight the good fight. Amen.

Recite one Our Father, ten Hail Marys, one Glory Be.
St Martin de Porres, pray for us.

Eighth Day
St Martin’s Reward

St Martin died a holy and peaceful death. He had spent his life doing good as a humble brother of the Dominican Order. But whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. Soon his heroic life became known all over the world, and on 6 May 1962 Pope John XXIII solemnly proclaimed him St. Martin de Porres. Let us rejoice that we have such a powerful intercessor among the saints of God!

Prayer: St Martin, you have been raised up by God to show us the way to our true home. You have given us the good example and the encouragement that we need. We now realize from your life that all we have to do to win the reward of glory is to love and serve the best of Masters. May we ever be humble that we, too, may be exalted unto everlasting life. Amen.

Recite one Our Father, ten Hail Marys, one Glory Be.
St Martin de Porres, pray for us.

Ninth Day
St Martin’s Miracles

St Martin performed many miracles during his life and after his holy death. We can go to him with confidence for he will obtain our petitions if they are for our true welfare. His great heart loves to help us in every way. We have only to tell him our troubles and to ask him to help us. If we do our part, we can be sure that our friend St Martin will do his part.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Who inflamed the heart of St Martin with an ardent love of the poor and who taught him the wisdom of always surrendering to God’s holy will, grant that, like him, we may be ever truly humble of heart and full of Christ-like charity for suffering humanity. Amen.

Recite one Our Father, ten Hail Marys, one Glory Be.
St Martin de Porres, pray for us.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Dwell on These Things ~ Third Tuesday of Advent

A few pictures from my weekend.

Where I was. I spent most of my time when I wasn't walking around on that screened-in porch. You can see a larger version of the pictures if you click on one. Just click once.

The view from inside the porch.

When I came back to the hermitage after walking Saturday afternoon, it was very noisy. Both the sky and this tree were filled with starlings. Miraculously, I managed to take five pictures in which there are no birds. I did get a few here.

I really like these. They were growing all around the Stations of the Cross. 

I'll post some more colorful stuff in a couple of days.

If you want to see all of the posts in this series, click HERE.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Reed of God ~ Et Verbum Caro Factum Est

Seven Sacraments, Rogier van der Weyden

In this chapter Ms. Houselander begins by talking about one of my favorite subjects, the unity of body and soul. She writes:
It seems very difficult for people to realize that the Word is made flesh. first of all, the flesh is a stumbling block. There are two schools of thought: one thinks (or feels) that the flesh is wholly bad' the other, that it is absolutely good.
After giving examples of the two schools, she writes:
The first reason why there is a flaw in all the several attitudes to "the flesh" which I have mentioned is that so many people think of soul and body as two separate things necessarily in conflict. 
And then after discussing how it is true that in the battle between good and evil, the flesh has a proclivity to side with evil, she says:
That the Word was made flesh does mean, however, that the word became human, and a human being is a unity of soul and body in which the Spirit abides and which He wants to change from the weak thing it is to the glorious thing which he intended it to be from the beginning of creation. 
After this there is a discussion of the culmination of this unity in the body of the Lord and in sacrament and Sacrament: in the Eucharist  and in Marriage in particular. As in the passage about the Fugue in the last chapter, it would be wonderful to listen to this as a meditation, especially the passage about marriage.

As I was thinking about writing this post, I began to realize something about Sacraments. We know from the catechism that a Sacrament is "an outward sign, instituted by Christ to give grace," but it is also, I think the perfect unity between the material and the spiritual--between body and soul. They are in some way a pledge of the day when we will no longer need, but in this way will be sacraments.

Thanks to my friend, Paul, for reminding me of the above picture.

All of the posts in this series can be found by clicking HERE.
Unfortunately they are in reverse order, so you have to scroll down to get to the beginning.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Dwell on These Things ~ Second Saturday of Advent

More here. I think the last picture is the best.

I love it when my gingko drops it's leaves and makes this beautiful yellow carpet. 

If you want to see all of the posts in this series, click HERE.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Reed of God ~ Fugue

I have been trying to write something for several days, but just have not been able to find the time, and in a little over an hour, I'm going to leave to spend the weekend in a hermitage, so I'm going to keep this brief. I'm also pretty sure that most of y'all don't have much time either.

 This section begins with a lovely meditation on the life of Christ imagined as a musical composition. It's much better just read or heard than talked about though, so I'm not going to talk about it, but just recommend that if you haven't read it, you find a quiet place and sit down and do so. Or better yet, I have been meaning to mention that Reed of God is available as an audio book and it's well worth listening to, especially for meditative sections like this one.

The main passage that I wanted to write about was this one.
Experience has taught us that war simplifies life. Every individual would experience some equivalent of the Passion even if there were no war; but war makes it visible and even simple, and shows us how the Passion of Christ can be each one's individual secret and at the same time something shared by the whole world.
It is a moment in which the world needs great draughts of supernatural life, needs the Christ-life to be poured into it, as truly and as urgently as a wounded soldier drained of his blood needs a blood transfusion.
In many souls, for this very reason, Christ will say: "It was for this hour that I came into this world."
Although we are not living in the middle of the kind of war that Caryll Houselander was enduring in the 1940s in England, we are certainly surrounded by wars and the threat of violence. And, of course, there is a great ideological war being waged against our culture and our faith, and we, just as much as people in during WWII, need those "great draughts of supernatural life."

It is the last sentence that strikes me though. Just as Christ said that he came into the world for this hour, he would say to us that we--each one of us--came into the world for this hour--December of 2015.

Whether you are a young mother, a teacher, an electrician, a retired person--whoever and wherever you are--you are here to give birth to Christ in the world, and as Miss Houselander says, you can only do this by unity with the Holy Spirit. That is why it is so important to find some kind of space in our days to create that emptiness in our souls.

Yesterday's gospel was from Matthew 11, the chapter that says, "...the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force." That is such an enigmatic passage, but it is increasingly clear to me that unless we confront the busyness of our lives with violence, we will never be able to reclaim even a moment's silence. I know that it is much easier for me than for many of you, especially those of you who have small children. I'm pretty sure that if, when my children were young, someone who had just told me they were going to spend the next to last weekend before Christmas in a hermitage had told me I needed to find a quiet space in my day, I would have been either terribly amused or terribly angry, but unexpected quiet moments can open up even in the busiest lives, and even a small victory here can make a huge difference.

All of the posts in this series can be found by clicking HERE.
Unfortunately they are in reverse order, so you have to scroll down to get to the beginning.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dwell on These Things ~ Second Thursday of Advent

Just go some place quiet, close your eyes, and listen.

And after that you might just look at the close up of Yo Yo Ma's left hand that begin at 3:16. That's pretty beautiful, too--fearfully and wonderfully made.

If you want to see all of the posts in this series, click HERE.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Dwell on These Things ~ Second Wednesday of Advent

I did not have time to write anything about Reed of God and I've been singing this all evening, so I thought I'd post it here. It's about time for The Messiah.

I knew I had posted this on Facebook last year, and so I did a search for it and found that it was on December 10. I guess I'm a few hours early this year.

If you want to see all of the posts in this series, click HERE.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Dwell on These Things ~ Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This is the statue that stands outside the door that leads into the transept of my parish church. I stop and say a little prayer there almost every time I go into the church. I love that blue.

To see all of the posts in the this series, click HERE.


Monday, December 7, 2015

Dwell on These Things ~ Second Monday of Advent

This is a picture of my oldest and youngest (at the time) granddaughters about three years ago when the oldest was about 17. In Everlasting Man, G. K. Chesterton says that when a person has been raised as a Christian, even if he has lost his faith, "for him there will always be some savour of religion about the mere picture of a mother and a baby . . ." I think that holds true for this picture, too.

To see all of the posts in the this series, click HERE.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Reed of God ~ Et Homo Factus Est

Giotto: Nativity: Birth of Christ, Scrovegni Chapel
All things were made by him;and without him was made nothing that was made.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in the darkness,and the darkness did not comprehend it."  John 1, 3-5
This is a very short section, but it contains the most powerful concept of all, which is that Mary, in giving Jesus her humanity, gave Him death.
In giving life to Him she was giving Him death.
All other children born must inevitably die; death belongs to fallen nature; the mother's gift to the child is life.
But Christ is Life; death did not belong to Him.
In fact, unless Mary would give Him death, He could not die.
Unless she would give Him the capacity for suffering, He could not suffer. 
 I find this overwhelming. I really don't have anything to say about it. I suppose it's one of those things that Mary pondered in her heart.

Then Miss Houselander talks about the birth of Christ as a separation from Mary and says this:
The description of His birth in the Gospel does not say that she held Him in her arms but that she "wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger."
As if her first act was to lay Him on the Cross.
She knew that this little son of hers was God's Son and that God had not given Him to her for herself alone but for the whole world.
This is one of the greatest of all the things that we must learn from our contemplation of Our Lady.
All my life, pictures of the infant Jesus wrapped up in swaddling clothes and laying in the manger have bothered me because I couldn't stand the thought of those delicious little arms and legs being all bound up and hidden away. I have in the past five years had experience with my grandchildren being swaddled--only for sleeping--and I can see that it works and the babies seem to like it--although I seem to be incapable of the art of swaddling--still, it seems so stiff, and babies are so un-stiff.

And this image of laying the infant on the cross, while theologically correct and all, again is overwhelming. I know of course that Mary had to hold Jesus to feed Him and I'm sure that she did play with his little fingers and toes, and I hope that she was able to do this without always thinking of what was to come.

The real message that Caryll Houselander is trying to convey, though, is that Mary was aware that her son was given to her in order to be given to the world, and that she could not try to hold him too close, or protect him from all the horrors that were to come. She also writes about how this is true for all mothers. Our children are, "...part of a whole and that the whole is the family of God, to whom every child born owes all the love and service of a brother or sister."

I also wanted to mention the above quote from John which introduces this chapter. In Catholic churches today, the translation we read says, ". . . and the darkness has not overcome it," while many translations use some verson of, ". . . the darkness did not comprehend it." The latter has a much deeper meaning, I think, especially when we think about the definition which uses comprehend in the sense of containing or enclosing. The Light was too great to be held bound by the darkness.

And finally, there is this:
We need to say to ourselves a thousand times a day: "Christ wants to do this"; "Christ wants to suffer this."
And we shall thus come to realize that when we resent our circumstances or try to spare ourselves what we should undergo, we are being like Peter when he tried to dissuade Our Lord from the Passion.
There is one tremendous answer to the question which is reiterated to the point of utter weariness: "Why should I?"
It is another question: "Ought not Christ to suffer these things and so enter into His glory?"
All of the posts in this series can be found by clicking HERE.
Unfortunately they are in reverse order, so you have to scroll down to get to the beginning.


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Dwell on These Things ~ First Saturday of Advent

I must have listened to 15 or 20 different renditions of this song trying to find what I wanted. I resisted listening to this one that kept popping up in the sidebar, but well . . .

To see all of the posts in the this series, click HERE.


Friday, December 4, 2015

Reed of God ~ Advent

Advent is the season of the seed; Christ loved this symbol of the seed.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
The Advent, the seed of the world's life, was hidden in Our Lady.Like the wheat seed in the earth, the seed of the Bread of Life was in her.Like the golden harvest in the darkness of the earth, the Glory of God was shrined in her darkness.Advent is the season of the secret, the secret of the growth of Christ, of Divine Love growing in silence.It is the season of humility, silence, and growth.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
She had nothing to give Him but herself.He asked for nothing else.She gave Him Herself.

And so to Caryll Houselander it is all this simple. We surrender ourselves to Christ and He plants the seed of Himself within us. And our part is likewise simple. We go about doing the duties of our daily life and he grows silently within us.

Sometimes we are so impatient. We try to force His growth, but like that apple pie she mentions, if you take it out of the oven too soon, you don't have an apple pie.

I can remember that when I was in my 20s and 30s, and maybe even my 40s, I tried so hard. I wanted so much to be super-holy, but it wasn't working very well, and I doubt if my motives were very good anyway. People tried to tell me that it took time, that He slowly change me, but I couldn't really understand how this could be so.

And now in my 60s, I can see how all the time while nothing seemed to be happening, so many of the
prayers that I prayed--usually by rote and without much attention--were being answered. While I was working so hard trying to change A, and mostly failing, He was forming B, C, & D in my soul. I really didn't have much to do with it at all. I just realized once day, "Oh, I'm not scared of that any more," or "I've really gotten to love doing this." I think he must give us A to play with so we won't get in the way while He's working on B, C, & D like we give a small child a toy to distract him from the needle that the doctor is about to stick in his leg.

If we are going to make an apple pie, we have to know all the ingredients and perform every step of the preparation in the right way if we want the pie to turn out right. But even the most educated scientist in the world could not tell us all the tiny minutiae that go into forming a baby in the mother's womb. True, we try to eat right, and live healthily so that the baby will be well, but in truth, the process is a mystery. And the growth of Christ within us is an even greater mystery.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
There is much more in this section, but if I try to write about it, I won't be able to post tonight. If there's anything else you see there that you would like to mention, please do.

All of the posts in this series can be found by clicking HERE.
Unfortunately they are in reverse order, so you have to scroll down to get to the beginning.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Dwell on These Things ~ First Thursday of Advent

Image Source: Used by permission of the artist, Owen Swain,
all rights reserved 2014 (may not be reproduced for
personal or commercial use without written permission of the Artist)
Another beautiful image by my friend Owen Swain who painted my St. Martin de Porres icon. She has the most joyful expression on her face.

To see all of the posts in this series, click HERE.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Dwell on These Things ~ First Wednesday of Advent

Listening this time: Alison Krauss, Yo Yo Ma, and Stephen Foster

To see all the posts in this series, click HERE.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Reed of God ~ Fiat

Fra Filippo Lippi, Annunciation
The surrender that is asked of us includes complete and absolute trust; it must be like Our Lady's surrender, without condition and without reservation.
In this section Caryll Houselander refers repeatedly to Mary as a child, and says she could not have been more than 14. I have no idea whether or not that is an accurate statement, or whether or not she would have been thought a child in that time and place, but sinless as she was, she certainly had the mind and heart of a child. She was, indeed, as she was when she had, "...just come from God's hand." The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that only someone very young could have responded to Gabriel as she did. It had to be someone who had never been betrayed or seen real corruption who could be brave enough to offer that total surrender.
"Be it done unto me according to thy word" seems a very bold prayer indeed in view of the words we know God has uttered. It would be easier to sacrifice some big thing to God, to impose some hard rule upon ourselves, than to say, "Do what you like with me."
 At the heart of this surrender is trust, trust in the only One whom we have any reason to trust. And yet, in practice Our Lord is far down on the list of those or those things in which we place our trust. In our everyday lives we trust in a hundred different things: our car, elevators (ugh), our intellect, our friends, too many to enumerate, all of which may fail us without notice. And then, of course, Miss Houselander mentions money. Who of us does that think that just a bit more money could make us more secure?
Money means the safest, swiftest travelling, the speediest spoken or written word (Could she even have imagined how swifly our words travel now?), the warmest clothing, the best medical aid.
Small wonder is it that gradually, without know it, we have come to trust more in money than in God.
From his earliest childhood the modern man is brought up to value money above all else and even to value himself by his capacity for getting it.
It is hardly surprising, when we think of all that money has come to mean to men, that if the breadwinner suddenly changes his mind and sets some other thing higher, he is thought to be a traitor in his own home.
And yet, every day now we see images of people, who were formerly secure in comfortable lives and with enough money, trudging in long, exhausted lines of refugees, leaving behind all the things they trusted in and on their way to who knows where?

What does it take for us to make that great leap of faith into the heart of Him who is the only safe refuge? It's understandable, of course, when we look at the lives of those who have made that leap. From the outside it looks pretty terrifying.
"Be it done unto me according to thy word" surrenders yourself and all that is dear to you to God, and the trust which it implies does not mean trusting God to look after you and yours, to keep you and them in health and prosperity and honor.
It means much more, it means trusting that whatever God does with you and with yours is the act of an infinitely loving Father. 
It seems impossible to choose this kind of vulnerability, and yet, it is only on the other side of that leap that we can be really peaceful, that we can see that every loss is a gift and every pain is the coin of the realm, that we can look into the future without fear.

All of the posts in this series can be found by clicking HERE.
Unfortunately they are in reverse order, so you have to scroll down to get to the beginning.


P.S. I know you're out there. I would love to hear from you.