Noon visit

Driving up Leopard Street toward the courthouse Monday morning, I could see the cathedral in the distance.

You realize, don’t you, I told the Infant, that I won’t be able to go visit with you today.  Last time, I didn’t finish with jury duty till five; so there’s no way I’ll be making it to noon Mass if that happens. 

And I was fine with that.

Teresa of Avila kept me company as I occupied my assigned seat, but I started getting very sleepy at eleven.  Since I’d been anxious about exiting SPID at Crosstown, I hadn’t slept much during the night.  Only the dread of nodding off in public had been keeping me awake in my chair.

Thankfully, the next to the last group was called fifteen minutes later; and I was glad to be four of eighty on Panel J.  Just by walking from one end of the jury selection room to the other, I went from wilting, wilting, wilting to energized.  Then, within five minutes, we were out the door with our written instructions to call the following day.

By eleven-thirty-five, I was at the cathedral with half an hour to spare.  The church was dark except for the sunlit stained-glass windows.  Since I couldn’t very well read my book, I took photos as others arrived in time for twelve-o-five Mass.

And what a Mass! 

Beautiful music, wonderful homily.  Father Pete’s message was perfect.

“We have the gift of everlasting life.”

     

               

       

       

               

         

       

         

               

               

               

               

Prayers to the Holy Trinity

I praise you, Father all-powerful.  I praise you, Divine Son, our lord and savior.  I praise you, Spirit of love and consolation.  One God, three persons, triune unity, be near me in the temple of my soul.  Draw me to share in your life and love.  In your kindness grant to me and to my family the riches of your mercy, and a share in your blessing, that we may come to the glory of your kingdom and rejoice in loving you for all eternity.  Amen.

Reparation…  O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly.  I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He is offended.  By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary I beg the conversion of poor sinners (Fatima).

December 12, 2012

“The pure soul is a beautiful rose, and the three divine persons descend from heaven to inhale its fragrance” (St. John Vianney).

May 26, 2013

My God, Blessed Trinity!  Draw from my poor being what most contributes to your glory, and do with me what you wish both now and in eternity (Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity).

August 6, 2015

“The glory that shone around the disciples on the mount of the Transfiguration prefigures the contemplation of God in eternity” (Dionysius).

April 20, 2016

When it’s God who is speaking… the proper way to behave is to imitate someone who has an irresistible curiosity and who listens at keyholes.  You must listen to everything God says at the keyhole of your heart (St. John Vianney).

July 23, 2016

“Let everyone who has the grace of intelligence therefore fear that, because of it, he will be judged more heavily if he is negligent” (St. Brigid of Sweden).

May 26, 2017

Almighty, eternal, just, and merciful God, grant us in our misery that we may do for your sake alone what we know you want us to do and always what pleases you so that, cleansed and enlightened interiorly and fired with the ardor of the Holy Spirit, we may be able to follow in the footsteps of your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ (Pat McCloskey, OFM in Peace and Good: Through the Year with Francis of Assisi).

June 2, 2017

The only thing that matters in life is doing the will of God.  Once you are doing the will of God, then everything else matters (Hubert van Zeller in Holiness for Housewives).

June 3, 2017

Everything came into being through the life-giving dynamic of the one who is Love.  God is never-ending and unchanging.  As it was then, it is now.  This Trinity of Persons, the infinitude of love, seeks to share the life-giving dynamic of their loving union with others— to “go outward” to others who will love back in the same self-donative way.  This is gratuitous action on God’s part.  Being the infinitude of love, the Divine Persons have no need of more love, but they seek to share with others their divine pleasure.  And so God created the heavens and the earth and beings with whom he might share his very life (Johnnette S. Benkovic & Thomas K. Sullivan in The Rosary: Your Weapon for Spiritual Warfare).

June 11, 2017

“You, O eternal Trinity, are a deep ocean into which the more I penetrate, the more I discover; and the more I discover, the more I seek you” (St. Catherine of Sienna).

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Pdf file…  Corpus Christi Cathedral (guide, six pages)

Links of interest…  Catholic Communications Network…  Corpus Christi Cathedral: diocese (facebook) / home / landmark / marker / parishes online / TV Mass / TX State Historical Association / windows…  Finding God’s presence in prayer…  God-sized vision…  Pentecost: A new revelation of God…  Holy Trinity: devotions / prayers (four) / thanksgivingvideo…  Russian icon that reveals the mystery of the Trinity…  Seek God in your soul…  Transfiguration: meeting God face to faceof the Lord Jesus

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Heart of hearts…  Heart’s desire…  In the pink…  Letter to Santa…  Multicultural Mass…  Sacred Heart Church (CCTX)…  Saturday evening Mass…  Soulful

Picturing God

SistersWhat a conundrum I’ve faced collecting my thoughts for St. Anselm’s post!

For more than two years, I’ve had him in the ol’ pea brain’s draft folder, waiting, waiting, waiting until today. 

Namesake

Growing up, one of my classmates asked, “Who’s your birthday saint?”

“My what?”

“I was given the name of the saint on whose feast day I was born,” the girl said.  “Weren’t you?”

“No, I was named after mom’s mother.”

(Beautiful sisters.  Grandmother is pictured on the left with Elvira.  Just look at those hardworking hands!  What a beautiful, resilient spirit!)

St. Anselm

When I created our church website, May 2008, I included a page on saints that I quickly filled with lots of web links.  Then, April of the following year I came across St. Anselm for the first time and was especially taken with his intercessory prayer to St. Nicholas.

Your fame calls to me, your miracles send me to your intercession, your works draw me to seek your help.  But why do I speak about your miracles, when your power now is greater than them all?  Why do I recount what you have done, when before God you now have supreme grace? (St. Anselm,
c. 1090).

What a noble gesture to sing someone else’s high praises!  What confidence to call on St. Nicholas, our beloved Santa Claus!  I could certainly relate.  I received my special delivery from Santa within a year’s time after writing my first letter ever to him, Christmas Eve 2004, so I know firsthand of St. Nicholas’s intercessory power. 

St. Anselm turned out to be a fascinating read, but I stepped away to reflect on his writings for a while longer.  Then, rather conveniently, I forgot about the post I’d intended to write… until the proverbial rose leaf fell on this Chicken Little’s noggin.

Grandfather was born on April 21st, St. Anselm’s feast day!  So was he named for his birthday saint?

A rose

Late August of last year, Steven and I stopped by the old Esparza cemetery on Hwy 281 to visit dad’s and granddad’s gravesites.  Between 1970 and 2004, their headstones had been in the same place.  So I’d never expected to find their headstones moved from their original spots.

Overcome with grief and disappointment, I was angry.  Do their resting places mean nothing to anyone but me?  

               

Consoling myself by walking around the cemetery, I recalled previous visits alone and with the kids as I instinctively did what I’ve always done, leaning forward to touch each of the two headstones.  I spoke softly, first to granddad, then to dad, about their lives in the small rural community and their significance in my life.  Being there I’ve always felt connected to them, as if they’re alive in parallel universes from which they can hear and see me.

Trying hard to hold back the tears, I thought about so much more than I said.

I love you.  I love you more than you’ll ever know.  I never had the chance to tell you.  I miss you sooo much.  I don’t think that will ever change.  Coming here is the next best thing to having you close.  You walked these grounds during your lifetime just as I’m doing today.  I don’t know when I’ll be back this way again, but I know you’re always with me.  I feel your love whether I’m here or not.  We’re always together mind, heart, and soul.  I’m forever grateful that, through you, I’ve come to understand God’s love for me.

Dad left El Ranchito when he married mom, and his body returned for burial four months short of their seventh wedding anniversary.

My great-grandmother died the following year, so my grandfather moved in with his brother’s family.  Then he died a year later.  According to mom, Great-grandmother Paz and Grandfather Anselmo had vowed from the beginning— dad’s mom had died right after his birth— to be there for my father until he died.   And they kept their word!

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Dad and my grandfather were buried at the Esparza cemetery because my uncle, a very thoughtful, generous man, was married to an Esparza and lived across the highway from the cemetery.  Tío Pancho loved his brother and his nephew so much that he wanted them nearby, if only in spirit.  Now he’s buried there, too, next to his wife.  So it’s only fitting that their collective final resting place should be the same cemetery.

As for Grandfather’s name?  There’s no one alive who could tell me stories about his growing up, much less about his name. I’d like to think that being born on St. Anselm’s feast day was reason enough for his parents to name him Anselmo.

April twenty-first

St. Anselm’s big day kept getting closer and closer, but I was so sure I’d get the post written in one day that I focused on other creative tasks until the day before.

Oh, my gosh!  Was I ever wrong, as in wr-r-rong!

StAnselm-OLEM-Cambridge-LOPReading the first online article, reality smacked me in the face.  I immediately knew two things: why I’d put St. Anselm on the back burner for two years and why writing the post was going to take time.  Time to calm down.  Time to analyze and evaluate.  Time to come to terms with St. Anselm’s illogical reasoning.

No resolution

I tried, but I just went round and round refuting points three and four of St. Anselm’s ontological argument (1087).

(1) God is the greatest being imaginable.  (2) In the mind and/or in reality, no one exists who’s greater than God.  (3) If God exists in the mind and in reality, that cinches the deal: God is real.  The same is true if God exists only in the mind.  On the other hand, if the mind thinks of the greatest being imaginable— and that being isn’t God— then that being isn’t real.
(4) Therefore, God is real because he exists in reality and in the mind.

“If St. Anselm had presented his proposal to Dr. Weber [my dissertation methodologist at the University of Houston], he never would’ve earned his doctorate,” I told Steven.  “His logic doesn’t make sense!  How ridiculous to try to prove that God is real!  Then to have others agree that his theory’s based on a legitimate premise?  Hogwash!  It doesn’t fly!  God is based on faith, and faith can’t be measured.  So God’s existence can’t be scientifically supported.  Besides, one either believes or doesn’t.”

On and on I jabbered to Steven who was partly listening and mostly enjoying his computer games on his side of the room.

“You know, darling, I would’ve been okay accepting St. Anselm’s theory to a point.  God’s real because I have faith, but to say that I have faith because God’s real?  No.  God’s an abstraction.  And, even though we acknowledge him as creator of all, he’s not real like us.  He’s in a category all by himself.  So how can we lesser beings prove anything about him?”

I continued with my online reading while reflecting out loud.

“Just this morning I came across a painting of the crucifixion of Jesus on the ‘Picturing God’ page of Ignatian Spirituality online and realized something.  I don’t picture God on the cross.  Jesus is on the cross.  God is totally different from Jesus, just as the Holy Spirit is different from both of them.  The three are related as the Holy Trinity, but they’re three distinct entities.  And another thing: If God were real, we’d know what he looks like.  How does one visualize God when no one’s seen him?  My perception of God is uniquely different from yours and everyone else’s because it’s based not only on my imagination, but also on my personal relationship with him.”

The dilemma kept growing like James’s peach instead of resolving itself somehow.

I very much would’ve welcomed a peaceful night’s rest with a fresh start in the morning, but it wasn’t going to happen.  God wanted me to experience discomforting disequilibrium a bit longer.  Nevertheless, I distanced myself from St. Anselm and went to bed.

Coming to terms

I’d hoped for clarity on waking, but I didn’t get it.  For most of the morning, I struggled with accepting St. Anselm’s ideas.  Yet the more I thought about his logic, the more I began to understand his perspective.

Over [nine-hundred] years have passed since Anselm described the ontological argument.  Many people have refuted it [while] some have fervently defended it.  Today, there are still those who think the reasoning of Anselm is, more or less, reasonable (Villa, n. d.).

While I disagree with St. Anselm’s calling me and others like me fools, I can certainly admire his passion for so zealously wanting to build community within God’s kingdom. 

Loyalty means not that I agree with everything you say or that I believe you are always right.  Loyalty means that I share a common ideal with you and, regardless of minor differences, we fight for it, shoulder to shoulder, confident in one another’s good faith, trust, constancy, and affection (Menninger, 2002).

St. Anselm loved God so much that he wanted others to believe unquestioningly.  Without struggling.  Yet even Thomas doubted, and God didn’t love him any less.

Then [Jesus] said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it in my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”  Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:27-29; Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, 1970).

Picturing God

Saturday morning I woke up knowing I’d replace the Crucifixion as the “picturing God” widget on the church blog, but the new photo had to meet my SJC criteria: a nature scene at our church.

But what qualifies as a true representation of God?

I’ve taken thousands of photos since rejoining St. Joseph’s late April 2008; so that’s quite a mental catalog to peruse, not to mention actual time looking through photo files. 

Thinking about St. Anselm while pondering the essence of God, I serendipitously recalled our standing with Fr. Frank outside the front entrance at church before nine o’clock Mass…

Quite unexpectedly the day’s brightness ominously darkened as the sun played peekaboo on a whim.  Coolpix ready I turned to look, capturing sun rays emanating from gray-blue clouds like luminous arms interjecting a heavenward hallelujah.

Awestruck, I surrendered my undivided attention to God’s glorious, dramatic presence.  Sans proof.

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Prayers

For fathers…  God our Father, we give you thanks and praise for fathers young and old.  We pray for young fathers, newly embracing their vocation; May they find the courage and perseverance to balance work, family, and faith in joy and sacrifice.  We pray for our own fathers who have supported and challenged us; May they continue to lead in strong and gentle ways.  We remember fathers around the world whose children are lost or suffering; May they know that the God of compassion walks with them in their sorrow.  We pray for men who are not fathers but still mentor and guide us with fatherly love and advice.  We remember fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers who are no longer with us but who live forever in our hearts and nourish us with their love.  Amen.

Seeking God…  O Lord, my God, teach my heart this day where and how to see you, where and how to find you.  You have made me and remade me; you have bestowed on me all the good things I possess and, still, I do not know you.  I have not yet done that for which I was made.  Teach me to seek you, for I cannot seek you unless you teach me or find you unless you show yourself to me.  Let me seek you in my desire; let me desire you in my seeking.  Let me find you by loving you; let me love you when I find you.  Amen (St. Anselm).

To the saint whose name I bear…  My holy patron saint, your name was given to me in Baptism, that I should often think of you and endeavor to please God as you did in your life on earth.  It is my sincere desire to imitate your virtues and… one day join you in heaven singing God’s praises forever and ever.

Often I have been called by your name, but seldom have I shown your constant zeal in striving for holiness of life.  Henceforth, I promise with God’s grace to reject all that is evil and to promote all that is good.  I petition you, my holy patron saint of God, to intercede for me that I, like you, may one day enjoy the bliss of being numbered among God’s saints for all eternity.  Amen (Favorite Patron Saints, The Leaflet Missal Company, n. d., p. 27).

April 26, 2011

Today I received Father Robert’s perfectly timed daily inspiration, “God is Love,” from the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus in Chicago.

“We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us.  God is love; the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16).

The most profound way in which we can understand the nature of God is to read the letter from the beloved apostle John.  The word “love” is repeated over and over again in describing what he knew about God.  He tells us “God is love.”  It is love that is the reason for all that God has done for us.  The creation of the world, the sending of his beloved Son, Jesus’s death on the cross, and his final glorification and our sanctification are all signs of God’s love spilling forth from the love contained in the Blessed Trinity.  When we hear that “God abides in us,” we are being told that the living presence of God permeates our entire being.  That is how close we are to God.  Therefore, we can trust God and savor his unfailing love for each one of us.  God loves us so much.

April 27, 2011

Nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced.  Even a proverb is no proverb until your life has illustrated it (John Keats, 1795-1821).

November 29, 2013

The Jewish view of God is not static or frozen in any time or place.  It is constantly growing, changing, expanding.  For even though God is constant, people are forever growing and developing.  So each person in each generation must discover, understand, describe, and relate to God in his or her own way out of his or her own life experiences (Dosick, 1995, p. 9).

September 9, 2014

“Seek God and endeavor to find him in all things” (St. Peter Claver).

January 8, 2015

We can believe what we choose.  We are answerable for what we choose to believe (Blessed John Henry Newman).

February 13, 2015

“Nothing is sweeter than love— nothing stronger, nothing higher, nothing more generous, nothing more pleasant, nothing fuller or better in heaven or earth— for love proceeds from God and cannot rest but in God above all things created” (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

February 24, 2015

“God must be loved first in order that one’s neighbor, too, may be loved in God”
(St. Bernard of Clairvaux).

April 1, 2015

“To treat human nature as simply separate from God, and thus to attempt to construct a civil society without reference to God, is to treat of a thing that does not exist and to attempt to build a society upon that fiction” (Anthony Esolen, 2014).

April 13, 2015

“Unless you believe you will not understand” (St. Augustine of Hippo).

April 21, 2015

O man, why do you roam about so far in search of good things for soul and body?  Love the one good, in whom all goods are contained, and that will satisfy you! (St. Anselm).

June 4, 2015

“But when you take the leap to look at the world through the eyes of faith, you start seeing God’s fingerprints everywhere, creating connections so subtle, so delicate, they might pass unseen” (Cari Donaldson in Pope Awesome & other stories).

December 16, 2015

“He who does that which is displeasing to himself has discovered the secret of pleasing God” (St. Anselm).

July 15, 2016

St. Thomas teaches that love is like fire.  It produces a flame, and the flame of love is zeal.  If the fire burns intensely, then the flame will also be intense and devouring.  True apostolic zeal is the spontaneous result, the normal fruit of the intimate contact of the soul with God through love.  The more a soul is united to God by love, the more it becomes enveloped in the flame of his charity, participating in his infinite love for men, in his eternal zeal for their salvation; thus it necessarily becomes apostolic (Father Gabriel in Divine Intimacy).

September 21, 2016

God doesn’t let himself get caught in titles, names and facts.  But he lets himself be suspected.  And therefore it is only the one who prays to God, quite possibly the one who searches for silence himself, who can recognize him in the many little ideas, meetings, and happenings on the way (Kevin Burns in Henri Nouwen: His Life and Spirit).

February 12, 2017

God is not an idea or a concept for you to grasp.  God is not something to be studied or something to define.  No definition would be wide enough.  God can never be fully contained by words or be understood by the human mind.  You cannot define God but you can be with God.  You can know God (Paula D’Arcy in The Divine Spark).

April 18, 2017

“What is faith, save to believe what you do not see?” (St. Augustine).

April 21, 2017

Make frequent spiritual aspirations to God by means of short but ardent movements of the heart.  Marvel at his beauty, implore his help, cast yourself in spirit at the foot of the cross, adore his goodness, and beg him that you may be saved eternally.  Give him your heart and offer your soul to him thousands and thousands of times.  Fix the eyes of your soul upon his gentle face and hold him by the hand, just as a small child does with his father
(St. Francis de Sales).

April 23, 2017

God did not abandon Thomas in his doubt, nor does he abandon us.  Our God, after all, is full of compassion and patience.  Doubt is a wound we all share.  It is a wound that God longs to heal with his divine mercy (Peter J. Vaghi in Meeting God in the Upper Room: Three Moments to Change Your Life).

May 26, 2017

One beat of your heart, properly directed, the slightest movement of your free will, can mean more to the triune God than all the gyrations of sun, moon, stars, and sea from time’s first moment until time’s final end.  In order that you might say, “I believe in God…,” the heavens were one time moved (Fr. M. Raymond, O.C.S.O. in Spiritual Secrets of a Trappist Monk).

June 9, 2017

One cannot understand God without first believing in God.  If you have any interest in knowing what’s true, you must first have faith.  It is by faith that God purifies your heart.  Unless you first abandon yourself to God, you will never know God.  The more you love God, the deeper your faith, and the more love and faith you possess, the more you know what’s true (Jon M. Sweeney in The Saint vs. The Scholar: The Fight Between Faith and Reason).

July 3, 2017

“Thomas [the apostle]… helps us learn from Jesus the true meaning of mature faith, encouraging us to persevere as disciples of Christ” (Pope Benedict XVI).

July 4, 2017

Traditionally, he is called “Doubting Thomas.”  Yet doubt is a wound that each of us shares.  It is not necessarily a fatal wound, nor is it a flat-out rejection of our faith.  I can picture myself that evening having a similar doubt.  Maybe you can as well.  We certainly have experienced doubt in our efforts to explain the faith to others.  Sometimes we are rejected.  More often, we have to unveil the beauty of our faith over time and with utmost patience.

God did not abandon Thomas in his doubt, nor does he abandon us.  Our God, after all, is full of compassion and patience.  Doubt is a wound we all share.  It is a wound that God longs to heal with his divine mercy (Peter J. Vaghi in Meeting God in the Upper Room).

July 10, 2017

So, the beauty of nature reflects the beauty of God.  For those who will not close their eyes and who harden not their hearts, beautiful things are seen as the fingerprints of God.  “A whirlwind and clouds are the dust of his feet.”  All things are his messengers, making known his goodness, his justice, and his power (Fr. Killian J. Healy, O. Carm in Awakening Your Soul to the Presence of God).

July 28, 2017

Lord, I long to see you.  With my own eyes, I want to see you myself, see you for who you really are.  Not through another’s eyes.

I’ve heard so much about you.  How much is opinion?  How much is hearsay?  How much is truth?  I want to know for myself.  I want to hear with my own ears.  Please come near, Lord, as you pass by today.

I am out on a limb, waiting for you, out of my comfort zone.  And as you come, overwhelm me with the wonder that it is not I who seek you, nearly so much as it is you who seeks me (Sonja Corbitt & Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers in Ignite: Read the Bible Like Never Before).

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Links of interest…  Be amazed…  Best description of God, ever…  Christian faith is not blind belief…  Doubting Thomas & faith in the resurrection…  El Ranchito cemeteries: Esparza / Zepeda…  Embrace the four eyes within you…  Father is a complex metaphor for God…  Genealogy: find a grave / online TX records…  God confirmationis an artist / or man…  God’s world & our place in it (book)…  Handing down the faith: Catholicism is caught, not taught…  How a little healthy self-doubt helped me stop doubting God…  How God is present in us / to prove that God doesn’t exist…  James & the giant peach…  Life of Jesus (crucifixion)…  On being human & the need to wonder…  Picturing God: finding God / Ignatian Spirituality / in all things…  Saints: birthdaydate / heroesname / patron / quote of the day…  See life through God’s eyes…  St. Anselm: ABC’s / about / archbishop / Benedictine monk / biography / bishop & doctor / desire for the vision of God / lessonson God’s existence / ontological argument & criticism / philosopher / prayer (to St. Nicholas) / seeking satisfaction & mercy / slave of religious liberty / theologian (more) / timeline…  St. Fidelis: about / biography / Capuchinfeast (Apr 24) / Mark Roymartyr / memorial / prayer (more / readings) / profile…  St. Frances of Rome: Finding God in the little things…  St. Nicholas: bishop / chaplet / feast / prayers / rosary / saint / society / who he is…  St. Thomas: questioning your faithseeing is not believing…  Waiting for God…  Wisdom of Wolves: book / how wolves change rivers / movie from Simple Truths

WP posts…  Concrete abstraction…  Dear God…  Faith and prayer…  For all time…  Gifts  Letter to Santa…  Lingering memory…  Little gifts…  Making meaning…  Mourning joy…  One prayer…  Soulful…  St. Anselm Church…  St. Jude novena…  Two takes…  Undeniable familiarity

Soulful

Up until the summer of my fifth year, my father was my teacher, caregiver, mentor, best friend, and protector.  His illness kept him homebound, so he babysat my six-month-old brother and me while mom worked to support our family.

Early trials

Dad died in July, and things changed.  Mom didn’t want me wasting my time at home, but the public school in our neighborhood wouldn’t take me.  I was too young for first grade, and there was no kindergarten; so Mom and her youngest sister enrolled me in Catholic school.

Mom couldn’t take time from work, so my aunt spoke to the nuns.  I was accepted only because I was the tallest kid in class.

Never mind that I was just five and had no idea what was going on.  Never mind that I had to learn to be responsible for getting up and dressing on my own.  Never mind that I had to ride the city bus to town by myself, though I did have Crucito, the neighborhood baker’s son, to sit with on the ride home from school.

Still, I learned early on that fending for myself didn’t come with guarantees.

I lost part of my bus fare, one of two nickels, the day I had tuna for lunch.  Vomiting, with a terrible fever, I had to walk home twenty-five blocks.

Thank God for Crucito’s third grade wisdom and his big brother thoughtfulness.  He chose to accompany me instead of riding the bus that afternoon.

Soulful encounter

My first and only year at Immaculate Conception School left indelible imprints for sure, but the memory of all memories occurred within the first hour of my first day at school.

ICS42011-3-soulsDuring our cursive writing lesson, I had a very personal encounter with the three souls adhered to the closet doors in the back of the classroom.

I raised my hand for the first time in my young life to politely ask a question. 

“Could you please tell me if I’m making the capital A correctly?”

ICS42011-cap-AObserving my first feat forming a large slanted oval with a little curved tail added to its right bottom side, the unsmiling nun led me by the hand to the poster with the totally blackened soul.

“Put out your hands,” she chided, and then whacked the knuckled sides hard with a little green ruler she’d pulled from her pocket. 

“Now, go back to your seat!”

Unexpected outcomes

I never asked another question in class, which is why I once had an accident during the big silence right before dismissal time.

For what seemed like an eternity, I’d contemplated the pros and cons of asking permission to go to the bathroom; but I wasn’t sure how the nun would respond.

Then, just like that, I didn’t have to ask.

My body lost control and flooded the floor space all around me as my classmates watched the growing puddle in horror and disbelief.

I’ll never forget Crucito’s wide-eyed shock as I crossed the street to where he stood waiting for me after school.  He was a mix of what-happened-to-you, what-do-I-say, and she-must-feel-terrible as he checked me out from waist to hemline and then back again.

Crucito didn’t laugh, much less ask about my dark wet, light dry teal uniform.  Instead, we walked in silence along the church sidewalk to the bus stop a block away.  Being a sensitive boy, Crucito understood my embarrassment.

And he never brought it up.  Ever.

Lasting impression

Almost a lifetime later when Segy was a high school freshman and we belonged to Sacred Heart Church in Brownsville, our celebrant at Sunday Mass was someone other than our parish priest.

“Man’s soul is an exquisite, multifaceted crystal,” the priest said, captivating us with his gentle knowing.

Segy and I wanted to hear more, but the visiting priest never returned.

If I knew where his church was, we could drive there for Sunday Mass, I thought.  But it never happened.

Sometime later we learned that the priest had died, but the news never kept me from wondering what else we could’ve learned from him.

Teresa of Avila

More than a decade since, I’ve discovered St. Teresa who similarly describes the soul as “a castle made entirely out of a diamond or of very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms, just as in heaven there are many dwelling places” (John 14:2; Avila, 1577; Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc., 1979, p. 6).

Reflecting on Teresa of Avila the last couple of months, I’ve wondered, Was the priest referring to St. Teresa’s book?  If so, how would my life have been impacted had I known about (and read) her book all those years ago?

On the other hand, how does one miss out on spiritual growth when one has no idea that anything’s missing?

Still, since reading St. Teresa’s book, I feel embraced, fortified somehow; so maybe earlier awareness would’ve made a difference after all.

St. Teresa

Now a daily companion, St. Teresa’s staying power is her genuineness.  She appeals to my intellect, but she’s also that special friend and mentor I needed as a child.  She cares so deeply about my relationship with God that her writing nurtures my spirit.

St. Teresa understands how easily human nature refutes and refuses truth to avoid making personal changes, so she shares her knowledge and experience without exerting pressure.  She also personalizes her narratives with descriptive analogies and anecdotes that complement her finely woven tapestry.

St. Teresa is quite an amazing teacher.

The interior castle

In her book, St. Teresa refers to the “sublime dignity and beauty” (p. 7) of the soul, which is infinitely more valuable than the body but which is easily overlooked since it can’t be seen.

My analogy is this: We’re obsessed with looking good, so we buy expensive hair care products.  From shampoos and conditioners to coloring kits and more, we ignore the facts.  Hair consists of dead cells, while internal organs and the skin through which hair grows, are malnourished and taken for granted.  We accentuate the exterior and forget (disregard) what’s within.

St. Teresa also writes that one’s innermost soul is the place where God delights in spending time with us, his creations.  To be near him “the soul is advised to enter within itself…” (p. 9).

The Lord manifests himself to those who pause while in peace and humility of heart….  God, in order to be able to speak to the soul and fill it with the knowledge of his love, leads it to the solitude, detaching it from preoccupations of earthly things.  He speaks to the ears of those who are silent and makes them hear his secrets (St. Anthony of Padua, 1195-1231).

Like the many facets of the diamond and the crystal, the interior castle has “many dwelling places: some up above, others down below, others to the sides; and in the center and middle is the main dwelling place where the very secret exchanges between God and the soul take place” (p. 7).

Yet The Interior Castle focuses on just seven dwelling places.

After all, St. Teresa’s purpose isn’t to overwhelm but to inform, clearly and concisely, so that we who choose to be enlightened can partake of the wonderful blessings God has in store for us.

Unintended consequences

Looking back on my first day at school, I don’t know what I did to upset the nun; but that one year of Catholic school is forever etched into my pea brain as the bookmark in my book of life.

Past personal experiences, though seemingly meaningless at the time, eventually have purpose (p. 98).

??????????Unintended consequences are when you had the intention of providing one service or message, and users interpret and practice it in ways you didn’t think of.  The unintended consequences often have more significance than one might think (Claude Bernard, French physiologist, 1813-1878).

Certainly, as a classroom teacher, I was keenly sensitive to my students’ needs.  But, beyond that, was the green ruler incident my personal introduction to the soul?

Soulful experience

While I do guilt well— Steven’s comical take on my being Catholic— I’m not altogether preoccupied with the three souls, just as I don’t give thought to ending up in heaven or hell.  Instead, I’m focused on personal growth and my evolving spirituality through my relationship with God who loves me unconditionally, the way Dad loved me.  And it’s God’s love for me, not the fear of hell or the desire for heaven, that fuels my existence.

Jesus-SondraLauneyMoreover, as I journey through life I’m very much aware that, in as much as God waits patiently for us to show him even a little of the love he feels for us, his desire to have us close is so strong “that from time to time he calls us to draw near him” (pp. 15-16).

And, when he can no longer wait, God takes the entire soul, closing all doors except the one leading to him (p. 99) and places us wherever he wants, just as he brought Steven and me to the seashore, to help us make good on the promises we’ve made him (p. 130).

Then Jesus, in turn, matches our good works so that even more is offered to God (p. 136) in thanksgiving and praise.

December 2, 2011

At mom’s funeral this morning, I learned from a mutual friend, Jerry, who still lives on Dan Street where I grew up, that “Crucito died about two and a half years ago.”

I was stunned!

More than a childhood friend, Crucito was my steadfast guardian, my big brother who took me to school dances.  Always sweet and joyful to see me the few times we bumped into each other as adults, Crucito loved me unconditionally.

I’ll treasure him until the end of time!

January 19, 2012

Who seeks for heaven alone to save his soul may keep the path but will not reach the goal.  While he who walks in love may wander far, yet God will bring him where the blessed are (Henry Van Dyke, 1852-1933).

February 4, 2012

Jesus, I want to come away with you for a while.  Refresh me, renew me, and strengthen me.  Then send me out to build your kingdom (the Word among us, February 1-21, 2012, p. 24).

October 28, 2012

The human heart is made this way.  God himself does not enter it by force but knocks at the door: “Open your heart to me, my child” (St. Eugene de Mazenod in a letter to Fr. Boisrame, September 1858).

December 3, 2012

“I love you not because you have the power to give heaven or hell, but simply because you are— my king and my God” (St. Francis Xavier).

August 20, 2013

Lord, show me who I really am!  Fill me with confidence, courage, and the zeal to serve you with all my heart! (the Word among us, July/August 2013, p. 70).

October 22, 2013

“Lord Jesus, I want to be ready to welcome you however you choose to knock on my door today” (the Word among us, October 2013, p. 42).

October 31, 2013

“O God, I put myself into your hands with infinite confidence because you are my Father” (Blessed Charles de Foucauld).

November 12, 2013

Lord, thank you for filling me with your love!  Lord, I want to serve you with my whole life! (the Word among us, November 2013, p. 33).

November 29, 2013

The Jewish view of God is not static or frozen in any time or place.  It is constantly growing, changing, expanding.  For even though God is constant, people are forever growing and developing.  So each person, in each generation, must discover, understand, describe, and relate to God in his or her own way, out of his or her own life experiences (Dosick, 1995, p. 9).

May 1, 2014

“In the evening of our lives we shall be judged on love” (St. John of the Cross).

June 28, 2014

In everything we do God considers our disposition rather than our actions.  And so, whether we retire mentally to God in earnest contemplation and remain at rest or whether we are intent on being of service to those around us with good works and worthy undertakings, let our object be that we are motivated only by love of Christ.  So the really acceptable offering of purification of the spirit is that which is rendered not in a man-made temple, but in the temple of the heart where Christ the Lord is pleased to enter
(St. Laurence Justinian, 1381-1456).

August 13, 2014

“When you really give yourself to God, no difficulty will be able to shake your optimism” (St. Josemaría Escrivá).

August 19, 2014

He belongs to you; but more than that he longs to be in you, living and ruling in you as the head lives and rules in the body.  He wants his breath to be in your breath, his heart in your heart, and his soul in your soul (St. John Eudes).

October 17, 2014

“My desire is to belong to God” (St. Ignatius of Antioch).

November 7, 2014

Believe that he loves you.  He wants to help you himself in the struggles which you must undergo.  Believe in his love, his exceeding love (Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity).

November 11, 2014

God leaves us free, but when we do respond to grace and we do choose to use the gifts he has given us to work for his honor and glory, he blesses our efforts and makes them fruitful.  In the light of grace the work is transformed (Aquinas College, 2014).

February 1, 2015

“Cast yourself into the arms of God and be very sure that if he wants anything of you, he will fit you for the work and give you strength” (St. Philip Neri).

February 16, 2015

Perfection of life is the perfection of love.  For love is the life of the soul
(St. Francis de Sales).

March 2, 2015

“The soul who is in love with God is a gentle, humble, and patient soul” (St. John of the Cross).

April 3, 2015

“The body dies when the soul departs, but the soul dies when God departs”
(St. Augustine of Hippo).

May 20, 2015

Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going (John 14: 1-4).

December 3, 2015

“I love you not because you have the power to give heaven or hell, but simply because you are— my king and my God” (St. Francis Xavier, SJ).

March 21, 2016

Then [Benedict] adds: “All that we once performed with dread we will now begin to observe without effort, as though naturally, no longer out of fear of hell, but rather out of love for Christ, good habit and delight in virtue” (Rule of St. Benedict 7:67 – Humility).

We will never be perfect.  Humility is the realization that we are not perfect.  Can we be content with imperfection while knowing that we are doing the best we can to live a holy and loving life?  I pray we can! (Monday Message, Sister Kristine Anne Harpenau, OSB, March 21, 2016).

September 1, 2016

“Our perfection does not consist of doing extraordinary things but [of doing] the ordinary well” (St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows).

January 4, 2017

“The grace of even wishing to belong to God must come from himself” (St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton).

January 12, 2017

“The effort of the soul must be to fill the mind so full of healthy thoughts that there is no room for others— trying not so much not to think of what is evil as to think of what is good” (Fr. Basil W. Maturin in Christian Self-Mastery).

May 10, 2017

“Christians who sigh only for heaven… quite often look here below not because they seek the land, but in order to find the way to heaven” (St Francis de Sales in The Sign of the Cross).

June 20, 2017

The process of the purification of our souls is never finished, and will end only with our death.  We must not be upset by our imperfections; instead, we must recognize them and learn to combat them.  And it is in fighting against our imperfections without being discouraged by them that our very perfection consists (St. Francis de Sales).

June 22, 2017

Even if you have never felt loved or struggled to love, being loved is an ever-present reality and a never-to-be broken promise that flows directly from the heart of God.

You are loved, and as Saint Augustine said, “God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love.”  Think about that!  You are loved exclusively and completely by God.  You don’t have to compete for or earn God’s love or be anybody different from who you are, because God is in love with you (Anne Costa in Healing Promises: The Essential Guide to the Sacred Heart).

September 4, 2017

God is truly humble.  He comes down and uses instruments as weak and imperfect as we are.  He deigns to work through us… to use you and me for his great work (St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta in The Love that Made Mother Teresa).

October 5, 2017

“Love the children first, and then teach them” (St. Mother Theodore Guerin).

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Links of interest…  Appearances…  Carmelites…  Chaplin’s little tramp on the road to Emmaus…  Christ inescapable…  Dome blog (Benedictine Sisters)…  Dostoevsky & the glory of guilt…  Flicking bubbles & wrangling babies…  God desires your love…  Henry van Dyke: brainy quote / goodreads…  When saints choose us…  the Word among us…  Hope for eternal joy…  I can’t get the institutional church out of my system…  I had forgotten about St. Therese, but she hadn’t forgotten me…  Immaculate Conception Cathedral: about / Catholic directory (Mass times) / diocesan page (facebook) / historic site / new altarparishes online / website…  Interior castle: e-book / meditations (book review)…  Lord, when you came: composer (Cesário Gabaráin, 1979) / lyrics / pescador de hombres (YouTube) / seashore song & lyrics (Assumption College chapel choir)…  Living Judaism (Dosick)…  Predictor of a successful life…  Sacred Heart Church: parishes online…  Teresa of Avila: 1515-1582 / at 500 / profile / reformer / teacher of prayer…  When saints choose us…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Dear God…  Father’s guided tour…  Father now retired…  Gifts…  Gift of love…  Heart of hearts…  In good time…  Making meaning…  Marian devotions…  Memory lane…  One prayer…  Promise of hope…  A real church…  Seven dwelling places…  Sweet Jesus…  Teresa of Avila…  Two angels…  Two takes…  Venerable Margaret

Making meaning

Reading Teresa of Avila (Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc., 1979) was like eating that exploding candy popular some years ago.  Couldn’t get enough, couldn’t stop the ricocheting, couldn’t describe the experience.

Then I reread the book off and on: In the usual sequence, back to front, front to middle, middle to either end, skipping around, revisiting parts with relish, reviewing my notes in the margins, comparing and contrasting with what I know, figuratively adding the book to my friends list.

Clear message

With all the mental pingbacks I’ve received since reading the book, the ol’ pea brain’s been so full that sharing has been delayed for lack of knowing where to start.  Still, words and phrases from the book persist, and the message is clear.

Through prayer, humility, and perseverance one can embrace the cross, surrender to God’s will, and receive God’s favors.

Connections

Teresa of Avila reminds me of St. Dominic, whose prayerful ways centered on God— mind, body, heart, and soul— and St. Anthony, whose chaplet is based on the Miraculous Responsory.   On a more personal level, too, the book provides illumination for my evolving spirituality.

Awareness

Days prior to finding Teresa of Avila on the hallway shelf, I’d been praying St. Anthony’s chaplet when, quite unexpectedly, I was filled with great awe and understanding.

Oh, my, gosh!  I get it!  I finally get it!  I know what prayer is!

I love my Franciscan Crown and the Child Jesus chaplet that Sister sent me from Australia, but St. Anthony’s chaplet is so powerful that I can’t get through the prayers without tearful emotion.

               

My Franciscan Crown and my Child Jesus chaplet are alike in that they commemorate special times in the lives of the Blessed Mother and the Holy Infant, and some of the mysteries are even the same.

St. Anthony’s chaplet is different, though.  Based on the thirteen favors of the Miraculous Responsory, the chaplet builds commitment to God with
St. Anthony’s help and requires not my passive recollection, but my proactive engagement.  Its purpose is to help me become a better person, centered on God as the ultimate prize, as St. Dominic would say.

What a revelation to be enlightened by the power of prayer!

Timely lesson

So, was this God’s perfect timing yet again?  Did he in his infinite wisdom as teacher extraordinaire prepare me for Teresa of Avila?

Based on prior knowledge and experience, God’s sense of humor is too weird and too timely for me to think otherwise.

What is prayer then?

St. Dominic planted the seed.  St. Anthony nurtured it.  And St. Teresa harvested the crop.

Prayer isn’t asking God for something.  Prayer is embracing the cross.  Prayer is loving God and doing for God without giving thought to what he can do for us in return.

God grants graces to ease the pain, manage the suffering, address the injustices.  He also grants favors to whomever he wants, whenever he wants, however he wants.  But not because we ask. 

This is why St. Dominic believed that we should center on God alone, not on petitioning for ourselves and others.

God knows what we need, and he provides accordingly.  In his own time.

Making meaning 

Think about it.  How many times have we asked for something and never received it?  Or we received it but not right away?  Or we received something totally different?  Or we received everything beyond our wildest imaginings along with heavily weighted crosses to bear?

I can think of one prayer I carried in my heart for more than two years.  And, oh, the agony I endured until I finally gave it up.  Completely.

Dear God, you know what’s in my heart.  You know the pain I feel.  But I love you more.  You know best.  I give it up to you.  You know what to do.

It took a lot to let go but, little by little, I was okay again.  Then, within less than a year, I received God’s wonderful surprise.  I was so happy that I couldn’t even remember the misery I’d inflicted on myself for worrying all that time before.

Sadly, I know that I can easily revert to wanting my way again.  Only now I understand better than I did before: Prayer is loving God unconditionally, entrusting our all to his care no matter what.

Prayer

I beg you, O Lord, give me the fidelity I need to persevere with humility and constancy in this path of continual adherence to your will.  With your help I will make this practice the center of my interior life.

O my God, shall I ever fall again?  Yes, for I am frailty itself; but I know that you will be even more eager to help me rise again than I shall be prone to fall.  My firm resolution and my perseverance will be to “begin again” every day, every instant, humbling myself profoundly for my weakness, but having utter confidence in your will to sanctify my soul (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD in Divine Intimacy, 2013, p. 19).

St. Dominic’s blessing

May God the Father who made us bless us.  May God the Son send his healing among us.  May God the Holy Spirit move within us and give us eyes to see with, ears to hear with, and hands that your work might be done.  May we walk and preach the word of God to all.  May the angel of peace watch over us and lead us at last by God’s grace to the kingdom.  Amen.

April 30, 2011

Father Robert, OP at the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus in Chicago shares his Daily Inspiration.

“My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me” (Psalm 63:8).

Jesus said over and over again: “Be not afraid.”  Ambivalence can make life difficult.  [Being] irresolute, uncertain, indecisive… can create… anxiety.  Knowing what to do, how to judge, when to decide are all questions that can be the source of much concern and doubt.  Fears can be immobilizing to needed action.  Often our hearts are ambivalent.  In examining and evaluating one’s lifestyle, we can easily perceive that changes are in order.  This certainly is true in our relationship with God.  Spiritual writers tell us that to grow in the spirit we must let go, abandon things with which we feel most in control.  We need to break free and simplify our lives.  We are advised not to cling to things and patterns of behavior but to “let go” and cling to God.  As we move freely forward in life, trust helps us venture out, holding on tightly to God’s hand.  Trust and confidence in God’s loving care and protection are the assurance we need to move ahead in the new and exciting adventure of loving him more.

June 25, 2011

Jesus, I surrender.  I give you all of my sickness, all of my wounds, all of my grief.  You are my only hope, Lord.  Stretch out your hand and touch me with your love (the Word among us, June 2011, p. 44).

July 5, 2011

Father Robert, OP adds this Daily Inspiration.

One of his disciples said; “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1-4).

Sometime when you want to find new meaning in saying the Lord’s Prayer consider the advice of St. Teresa of Avila by saying “The Our Father” backwards.  Start from the end verse.  Mediate on each line and thought as you move toward the beginning.  It starts simply by asking God to help us fight against evil, then proceeds to asking for the needs we have to sustain our lives each day— our daily bread— this is “all that keeps us going,” physically and spiritually and then ends with the grand praise of praise, seeking God’s kingdom on earth in our hearts and in all we do.  It closes with the loving title addressed to God the Father, Abba, calling God our loving, “darling” father.

July 10, 2011

Welcome, Master of the harvest!  Sow your word in every part of me.  Grow whatever crop you desire.  I want to know you and love you more each day (the Word among us, July/August 2011, p. 31).

August 3, 2012

“The value of persistent prayer is not that God will hear us, but that we will finally hear God” (William McGill).

August 17, 2012

“Pray for the grace” is an excerpt from The Ignatian Adventure (Kevin O’Brien, SJ;
E-Magis).

Ignatian spirituality taps into our deepest desires.  In them we can discern God’s noble desires for us.

Thus, at the beginning of each prayer period, Ignatius advises that we pray for a certain grace, or gift from God: “Ask God our Lord for what I want and desire” (SE 48).  Simply naming what we deeply desire opens us to receive the gift God wants to give us.  Moreover, praying for a grace helps us to notice when we actually receive that gift later on.  In this way, we realize that the grace is not of our own making but is the result of God’s generosity to us.  Finally, praying out of our desires grounds us in the present, keeping our prayer “real.”

August 12, 2014

“If we patiently accept through love all that God allows to happen, then we will begin to taste even here on earth something of the delights the saints experience in heaven”
(St. Jane Frances de Chantal).

October 16, 2014

“Prayer is ‘a conscious turning to the invisible friend who is always near'” (St. Teresa of Avila).

March 20, 2015

“It is essential to begin the practice of prayer with a firm resolution of persevering in it” (St. Teresa of Avila).

April 22, 2015

Faith believes, hope prays, and charity begs in order to give to others.  Humility of heart forms the prayer, confidence speaks it, and perseverance triumphs over God himself (St. Peter Julian Eymard).

May 19, 2015

“To speak heart to heart with God, you must love to be with him alone” (St. Peter Celestine).

May 22, 2015

Just as God, by the ministry of nature, gives to each animal instincts needed for its preservation and the exercise of its natural properties, so too, if we do not resist God’s grace, he gives to each of us the inspirations needed to live, work, and preserve ourselves in the spiritual life (St. Francis de Sales in Finding God’s will for you).

June 5, 2015

When praying to God, we can only ask for God since he is everything and, in giving himself, he gives us all.  In asking for him, we ask for all.  When we possess him, we can wish and ask for nothing more (Dom Augustin Guillerand in The Prayer of the Presence of God).

August 8, 2015

“We must sow the seed, not hoard it” (St. Dominic).

August 29, 2015

“No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven” (John 3:27).

August 30, 2015

Jesus is waiting for you in the chapel.  Go and find him when your strength and patience are giving out, when you feel lonely and helpless.  Say to him: “You know well what is happening, my dear Jesus.  I have only you.  Come to my aid….”  And then go your way.  And don’t worry about knowing how you are going to manage.  It is enough to have told our good Lord.  He has an excellent memory (St. Jeanne Jugan).

November 13, 2015

If God seems slow in responding, it is because he is preparing a better gift.  He will not deny us.  God withholds what you are not yet ready for.  He wants you to have a lively desire for his greatest gifts.  All of which is to say, pray always and do not lose heart (St. Augustine).

November 18, 2015

“We cultivate a very small field for Christ; but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements but a heart that holds back nothing for self” (St. Rose Philippine Duchesne).

June 16, 2016

“To love God is something greater than to know him” (St. Thomas Aquinas).

August 20, 2016

There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; that is curiosity.  There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; that is vanity.  There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is love (St. Bernard).

September 19, 2016

God answers every prayer, but sometimes the answer is no.  And, if it is no, we’re better off— if we love God.  That’s why Jesus wants us to say “thy will be done” in the Our Father.  That is the sure way to happiness— the will of God (Fr. T. G. Morrow in Overcoming Sinful Anger).

January 22, 2017

God is my longing.  In whatever way God comes.  In every form, through every experience and circumstance, painful or otherwise.  God.  Only God (Paula D’Arcy in The Divine Spark).

June 15, 2017

Jesus wants us to trust him to take care of all our yesterdays and tomorrows.  He looks for souls who are willing to see the Father in every happening, then give that circumstance to him to solve, justify, make right, or straighten out.  It is not easy but it is peaceful, for we are bearing good fruit.  God is bearing fruit within us (Mother Angelica on Suffering and Burnout).

June 30, 2017

I will attempt, day by day to break my will into pieces. I want to do God’s holy will, not my own (St. Gabriel Possenti).

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Links of interest…  Carmelites…  Dominican heart from the beginning…  Fight or flight & the wings of prayer…  Hidden grace of unanswered prayers…  Humble French priest is teaching me to find peace & growth in suffering…  Jesus asks a question…  Letting go…  Love is a call to action (homily)…  Meditations (book review)…  Prayer: petition / six things necessary…  Simple five-step strategy to figure out what you really want…  St. Dominic: about (more) / & the living word (seed) / contemplation / prayer: biographical documentsblessing (song) – feast day – for various virtues – for vocation – litany – nine ways (more) – novena…  St. Jeanne Jugan: 1792-1879 / about / beacon / blog / books / canonization (video; 2009) / contact / Little Sisters of the Poor / memorial (YouTube) / sayings…  Teresa of Avila: 1515-1582 / about / author / biography / bookmark / books / bread recipe / chaplet prayers / convent (Avila) / doctor (1970) / feast (Oct 15) / history / interior castle (1921 book online) / patron / poems / prayer / profile / reformer / quotes / saint / timeline / works…  Teresian Carmel…  Wisdom from a 93-year-old singing nun…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Dear God…  Gift of love…  Growing pains…  In good time…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  My Franciscan Crown…  One prayer…  Prayerful ways…  Seven dwelling places…  Si quaeris miracula…  Sweet Jesus…  Teresa of Avila…  Venerable Margaret

In good time

Late April, 2008, I accompanied Steven to a conference he was attending at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

Teresa of Avila

The beauty of staying across the street from campus meant that I had access to the bookstore, which I visited daily for hours on end.  And, much to my delight, Follett had a seemingly endless sale on books throughout the store.

Among the many I purchased were three copies of Teresa of Avila (Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc., 1979) based on selections from The Interior Castle (Avila, 1577), which I intended to give to Sam and Ning, Junebug and Gary, and Neli-Beli.  However, on inscribing the books at home, I noticed that one copy had an ever so slight irregularity; so I kept it instead.

Mind you, Teresa of Avila didn’t strike me as particularly interesting when I first noticed the books on sale.  The brown, black, white cover was so nondescript and the colors so sedate that I wasn’t the least bit intrigued.  Besides, I had no idea who Teresa of Avila was!  Yet, knowing how much our Why Catholic? group members had enjoyed discussing our read-alouds, I’d thought that the book might appeal to them enough that they’d want to share their perspectives with the rest of us.

Special time

For almost three years, the book remained unnoticed and pretty much hidden on the shelf with other books on spirituality.

Then, a couple of months ago, I awoke with a burning question prompted by The book on St. Anthony’s miracles.  More and more, my wanting to know escalated to my having to find out. 

But how?  Where?

Walking past the hallway shelves, I stopped without realizing what I was doing.  Running my fingers along the book spines, my eye caught sight of a little blue book, so I marked the spot and pulled out the book to read its back cover and its table of contents.

Anthony of Padua: Saint of the People (Wintz, 2005) was the answer to my question.  Only, another book beckoned from near the shelf’s end.

Within moments I had a second book, Teresa of Avila, in tow as I proceeded to my workspace here.

As with so much that happens in life, timing had everything to do with my finding
St. Teresa’s book that Saturday morning.  Over the years, I’ve come to realize that things happen in their own special time.  It’s my Train A / Train B theory, although it could also be called God’s good time.

Dendrite connections 

As Segy was growing up we had lots of really interesting conversations, but the one I revisit most stems from his middle school days.

Our brains are sponges, he said.  They’re forever collecting information left and right, trivial and meaningful, tidbits and tomes.  Our brains get so full that information can’t all be tagged and categorized right away.  It’s like standing in the checkout lane at the grocery store.  Information is processed only as the brain’s dendrites are able to make meaningful connections between the newly acquired and what’s already there.

Listening to Segy, I recalled my Kroger experience.  Since only one lane was open, I couldn’t check out right away.  Standing in line, I actively perused the books on display to make the most of my wait time.  So, yes.  I could easily visualize what Segy was talking about.

The brain’s always ON.  Even when we’re quiet, our senses and our thoughts are still at work.  Even when we forget, the brain remembers what’s etched in long-term memory.

Like a good battery gone dead, all the brain needs is a jumpstart, a sensory experience, that allows it to intuit and remember thoughts lost that had no real value when they were forgotten.

In my case I had a burning desire to quench my thirst, so… ta dah… my hands reached into the bookshelf and effortlessly located the books on St. Anthony and St. Teresa.  Just like that.

By finding what was lost, the old became new with meaningful implications.

In good time

Time and again, I serendipitously connect with people, places, things, and/or ideas that propel me to another level of understanding.  It’s all so bizarre yet so refreshingly awesome.

Like, oh, my, gosh!  So God’s actually paying attention?  Listening?  Helping me retrace my steps, so I can finally have a worthwhile encounter with something I’d previously overlooked?

It’s what I’ve come to call my Easter egg hunt in life. 

When the time’s right, I find the means to advance to that which awaits; that wonderful, glorious knowledge that I so eagerly seek; that awareness that I’ve been oblivious to; that special moment that fills me with wonder and makes me giggle with delight.  So why worry?  

In God’s good time I’ll have the answers to all of my questions.

St. Teresa’s book

And so it’s been with Teresa of Avila.

BW4511-91The book was within reach for almost three years, but I had much to learn and experience before I was ready to savor its richness.

If anyone had told me that Teresa of Avila had really been meant for me to read and subsequently share, I wouldn’t have believed it.  Yet, God has his ways of helping us discover what he wants us to enjoy when the time is right, the very same way he gifts us with the perfectly timed lily blossoms in our garden during the Lent and Easter season every single year.

Prayer

God of all time, you call us out of the ordinariness of our everyday lives to see the world anew in your time.  Help us to respond to your call to see in all things: both a completion and a new beginning; both an end and a renewed start; both sadness and joy….  Your time is a time of fulfillment that makes little sense to the world, for what is logical is replaced by what is kingdom-oriented….  Give us the strength to keep your time, where relationships take priority and we start over again and again to serve the least among us.  Amen (Daniel P. Horan, OFM in The Last Words of Jesus: A Meditation on Love and Suffering).

March 3, 2014

It is a lesson we all need— to let alone the things that do not concern us.  He has other ways for others to follow him; all do not go by the same path.  It is for each of us to learn the path by which he requires us to follow him, and to follow him in that path (St. Katharine Drexel).

August 12, 2014

“If we patiently accept through love all that God allows to happen, then we will begin to taste even here on earth something of the delights the saints experience in heaven”
(St. Jane Frances de Chantal).

June 2, 2015

“The will of God is not a fate which has to be endured, but a holy and meaningful act which ushers in a new creation” (Fr. Romano Guardini, 1885-1968).

November 13, 2015

If God seems slow in responding, it is because he is preparing a better gift.  He will not deny us.  God withholds what you are not yet ready for.  He wants you to have a lively desire for his greatest gifts.  All of which is to say, pray always and do not lose heart (St.  Augustine).

April 12, 2017

It can be difficult to tell the difference between beginnings and endings.  Perhaps one of the strongest lessons in Jesus’s words from the cross is that we must not be as concerned about our time as we are about God’s time.  In God’s time beginnings and endings are one in the same because God’s time is not so much a matter of minutes, hours, and days as it is about a way of living in the world.  The way we mark the passage of our life is not the same way that God marks our time.  It is when washing the feet of others, the giving of ourselves for the sake of our brothers and sisters, that we live according to God’s time (Daniel P. Horan, OFM).

July 14, 2017

“Since it is through Jesus that everything must be accomplished, the more I let him do, the more the work of grace will be beautiful and perfect” (Fr. D’Elbee in I Believe in Love).

September 7, 2017

In today’s world, we seek immediate gratification.  We want what we want, and we want it now.  If it doesn’t happen on our timetable, we become discouraged and give up, or impatient.  When we turn our lives over to God’s timing, we find peace, and we may be pleasantly surprised at what he has in store for us (Melanie Rigney in Sisterhood of Saints: Daily Guidance and Inspiration).

Links of interest…  Fr. Romano Guardini: about (more) / Art of praying (more)…  God’s perfect timing…  Old Dominion: bookstore / university…  St. Anthony: about (more) / biography / mail deliveries (S.A.G.) / miracles & traditions / shrine / wonder worker…  St. Teresa of Avila: 12 interesting factsabout (more) / biography (more) / book (more) / chaplet / doctor (more / first woman) / feast day / foundress / frases / friendship with Jesus / headacheshistory / holiness & works / interior castle (more / video) / litany / memorial / mystic / novena / poems / prayers / quotes (more) / saint (more) / tribute (movie) / unexpected humorvideos

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Christmas year ’round…  Connected tangents…  Gift of love…  Growing pains…  Holy relics…  Making meaning…  On being Christian…  Prayer…  Promise of hope…  Prayerful ways…  Santo Niño…  Seven dwelling places…  Soulful…  Sweet Jesus…  Teresa of Avila…  Two letters…  Two prompt replies…  Venerable Margaret

Teresa of Avila

All this week I’ve been ready to write my post on Teresa of Avila (Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc., 1979), a book based on selections from The Interior Castle (Avila, 1577); but I’ve dilly-dallied in octopus mode while mentally preparing.

Why can’t I just start writing?  Reading the book I had lots of ideas. so why am I at a loss for words?  Maybe the ol’ pea brain’s too full?  Maybe the dendrites need time to process all I want to write?  Maybe I need to familiarize myself with St. Teresa a bit more?  Something’s missing, but how can this be? 

So much of what I read and hear daily reminds me of her.  So much of what Teresa of Avila wrote resonates with meaning.

Oblivious devotion

Take Sunday afternoon, for instance.

As Steven was covering the garden area with newspapers I was totally absorbed hosing them down to keep them from blowing away.  Then— suddenly— I realized, OMG, I’m standing kissing close to the yaupon holly!  

“Darling, do these bees sting?”

“Oh, yes, they do!  But they’re too busy doing their own thing.  Do you know that some believe the yaupon holly’s honey is the best there is?  It fetches a pretty penny, too.”

I’m so close to the tree that I’m at eye level among these bees!!!  I’m standing here making noise with the water hose, and they’re totally oblivious of me.  They could very easily sting me, but they’re wholly engrossed in what they love.  OMG!  What a perfect metaphor for what St. Teresa wrote!

Recurring thoughts

From the moment I began reading her book St. Teresa has kept my mind engaged— wondering, visualizing, making meaning— through key words and phrases heard and/or read elsewhere in the media, too.  For instance, a yellow post-it with humility underlined and a reference to Sirach 3:17-30 has graced my computer desk for the past six weeks.  Similarly, surrendering oneself to God has cropped up in readings, homilies, conversations, and other communications during that time.

Funny— isn’t it— how these not so sublime messages avail themselves so readily just in case they’ve been disregarded as insignificant or misplaced in one’s long-term memory.

Timely response

Yesterday morning I searched for prayers to the Venerable Solanus Casey.  Someone had arrived at my “Solano, Solanus, Solani” post through the search term 2nd class relic of Fr. Solanus Casey so I conducted a search of my own, ended up on the Father Solanus Guild website, and found some great links.  And prayers.  

“Yet, knowing how way leads on to way” (Frost, 1915), the ol’ pea brain did what it does best, merrily short-circuiting onto another tangent.

Is there a special St. Teresa of Avila prayer?  I need to find it.

Then the afternoon mail brought a lovely booklet from Father Robert.  

Perfect nudge

I read through Simple Ways to Pray (Franciscan Mission Associates, B-34) and chuckled heartily when I got to the back cover.

God has a very weird sense of humor when it comes to me, so I took St. Teresa of Avila’s prayer as his perfectly timed nudge to—

Start writing already!!! 

July 12, 2013

Holy Spirit, watch over me today.  Remind me of all the reasons I have to trust God.  Nudge me when you want me to speak.  Open my heart, Lord, and widen my horizons (the Word among us, July/August 2013, p. 31).

June 2, 2014

Be attentive, O God, when I am neglecting my time with you, time for reflection on your Word and time to rest with you in silence.  Create in me a faithful spirit that is always open to your gentle nudges when I get distracted or too busy (Sister Maria Tasto, OSB).

March 3, 2015

Let nothing disturb you, nothing cause you fear.  All things pass; God is unchanging.  Patience obtains all.  Whomever has God needs nothing else; God alone suffices (St. Teresa of Avila).

October 5, 2015

“I suggest that you pray to Our Lord that he assist you and give you the direction you need” (Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher).

November 27, 2015

We need to look close and listen to hear the voice of God….  God speaks to us in gentle, simple, random ways.  Just as we notice nature signaling the change of seasons— first subtly, then obviously— we should be keenly attuned to the sure signs of God nudging us and challenging us to become signs of the kingdom.  Plant seeds of compassion within me, Lord (Patricia Russell).

September 3, 2016

Do not follow where the path may lead.  Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail (Muriel Strode).

September 28, 2016

“Humility is nothing but truth, and pride is nothing but lying” (St. Vincent de Paul).

“Humility is nothing other than the conviction that God is God and only God— and that man is man, and nothing but man” (Romano Guardini, The Rosary of Our Lady).

May 30, 2017

The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same.  [Our] lessons come from the journey, not the destination (Don Williams Jr.).

National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe – Libertyville, IL

Links of interest…  Celebration Publications: Free articles  / Today’s Daily Bread…  Father Solanus Guild…  Franciscan Mission Associates…  The road not taken (Frost, 1915)…  Interior castle: St. Teresa’s diamond…  Saintly sixsolutions to life’s common problems…  Sisters of St. Benedict (IN):  Monday messagesprayer requests / virtual tour / ways of praying / website…  Sit a spell & have a chat…  St.Teresa of Avila: about (more) / biography (more) / book (more) / chaplet / doctor (first woman) / feast day / foundress / frases / friendship with Jesus / headaches / heart of a warrior / history / holiness & works / interior castle (more / video) / litany / memorial / mystic / novena / poems / prayers / quotessaint (more) / tribute (movie) / videos…  What Robert Frost taught me about feeling alone…  Yaupon holly: honey / tree

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Christmas year ’round…  Connected tangents…  Gift of love…  Growing pains…  Holy relics…  In good time…  Making meaning…  On being Christian…  Prayer…  Promise of hope…  Prayerful ways…  Santo Niño…  Seven dwelling places…  Solano, Solanus, Solani…  Soulful…  Sweet Jesus…  Two letters…  Two prompt replies…  Venerable Margaret