DETACHMENT: The Path To Compassion

March 13, 2012

From John of the Cross: The soul must always be inclined not to the easiest thing, but to the hardest; not to the tastiest, but to the most insipid; not to the things that give the greatest pleasure, but to those that give the least; not to the restful things, but to the painful ones; not to consolation, but to desolation; not to more, but to less; not to the highest and dearest, but to the lowest and most despised; not to the desire for something, but to having no desires. No desires for ourselves, that is.  Just a desire to be open to God in all things. It is an impossibility, to be sure, to desire nothing for ourselves.  And certainly there are times in our lives when we think such an intention to be nothing short of insane.  How can [...]

LENT: Spiritual Exercises

February 28, 2012

I was awed when I read Thomas Merton describe how one day he decided to sit down on the floor of his room and do the spiritual exercises of Ignatius of Loyola on his own. He had also tackled getting through the Roman Catholic divine office on his own, too, around that same time.  But, for this latter effort, I think I remember that he ultimately turned to a priest for help. But where could he turn to get someone to help him get through the spiritual exercises on his own?  Good grief. I mean I feel sunk up to my nose just from perusing the general instructions.  Things like the following: Note: the first exercise will be made at midnight; the second, soon after arising in the morning; the third, before or after Mass, but always before [...]

MYSTICISM: Teresa of Ávila, or Love’s Madness

February 15, 2012

I have never been one to shake my fist at man and yell out, why don’t you believe in God, the almighty, the one who loves you absolutely?  To me it has always been fairly obvious – the causes of this near-to-complete divorce proceeding that our culture likes to keep in court, drawing out the litigation, airing the seemingly eternal complaints against God, the history, the agony. To me it’s simple: God is absolute; man is relative.  We are the ones, after all, who get to hear the ticking of the clock.  Who get to feel the streaking pain in our bodies.  Who get to know the shock of watching a loved one leave us. God, on the other hand, experiences nothing in terms of time.  Experiences nothing in terms of his own pain. [...]

LETTER: God Alone by John of the Cross

February 3, 2012

14 April 1589 To a religious, his penitent, The peace of Jesus Christ, son, be ever in your soul.  I received your reverence’s letter, in which you tell me of the great desires that our lord gives you to occupy your will with him alone, and to love him above all things, and in which you ask me to give you a few directions as to how you may achieve this. I rejoice that God has given you such holy desires and I shall rejoice much more at your putting them into execution.  To this end you should notice that all pleasures, joy, and affections are ever caused in the soul by the will and desire for things which appear to you good, fitting, and delectable, since the soul considers these to be pleasing and precious; and in this way the [...]

LETTER: Walk Humbly by John of the Cross

February 3, 2012

Segovia, 12 October 1589 To one living in the world: May Jesus be in your soul.  I have done anything but forget you; just think, how could I forget one who is in my soul, as you are?  While you are walking in that darkness and in those empty places of spiritual poverty, you think that everyone and everything are failing you; but that is not surprising, for at these times it seems to you that God is failing you too.  But nothing is failing you, nor have you any need to consult me about anything, nor have you any reason to do so, nor do you know one, nor will you find one: all that is merely suspicion without cause.  He that seeks naught but God walk not in darkness, in whatever darkness and poverty he may find himself; and he that [...]

MYSTICAL WOMEN: Faustina—Painting the Portrait of the Divine

January 18, 2012

A passage from the diary of Faustina: Jesus made known to me how very pleasing to him were prayers of atonement.  He said to me, The prayer of a humble and loving soul disarms the anger of my father and draws down an ocean of blessings.  After the adoration, half way to my cell, I was surrounded by a pack of huge black dogs who were jumping and howling and trying to tear me to pieces.  I realized that they were not dogs, but demons.  One of them spoke up in a rage, “Because you have snatched so many souls away from us this night, we will tear you to pieces.”  I answered, “If that is the will of the most merciful God, tear me to pieces, for I have justly deserved it, because I am the most miserable of all sinners, [...]

PRAYER: How To Pray The Chaplet Of Divine Mercy

January 18, 2012

(A chaplet is a prayer that is said with the aid of a rosary.  This chaplet can be used as a novena.  I include the daily prayers for the novena at the end of the list of prayers for the chaplet.  This chaplet is sometimes sung.  There are various tunes used for this purpose, and some can be heard on YouTube.) Optional Opening Prayer You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world.  O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty yourself out upon us.  O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the heart of Jesus as a fountain of mercy for us, I trust in you. Amen. On the cross The Our Father Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed [...]

ANGELS: The Angel Of Release, with a tale of my own

January 13, 2012

Acts 12:1 – 16: At that time King Herod caused terrible suffering for some members of the church.  He ordered soldiers to cut off the head of James, the brother of John.  When Herod saw that this pleased the Jewish people, he had Peter arrested during the Festival of Thin Bread.  He put Peter in jail and ordered four squads of soldiers to guard him.  Herod planned to put him on trial in public after the festival.  While Peter was being kept in jail, the church never stopped praying to God for him. The night before Peter was to be put on trial, he was asleep and bound by two chains. A soldier was guarding him on each side, and two other soldiers were guarding the entrance to the jail. Suddenly an angel from the Lord appeared, [...]

PRAYER: Prayer of Abandonment by Charles de Foucauld

January 11, 2012

Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will.  Whatever you may do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all.  Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.  I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into your hands I commend my soul; I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands, without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father. [...]

PRAYER: An Act of Abandonment by Francis de Sales

January 11, 2012

O my God, I thank you, and I praise you for accomplishing your holy and all-lovable will without any regard for mine.  With my whole heart, in spite of my heart, do I receive this cross I feared so much! It is the cross of your choice, the cross of your love.  I venerate it; not for anything in the world would I wish that it had not come, since you willed it. I keep it with gratitude and with joy, as I do everything that comes from your hand; and I shall strive to carry it without letting it drag, with all the respect and all the affection which your works deserve. [...]

PRAYER: Act of Abandonment by Jane Frances de Chantal

January 11, 2012

O sovereign goodness of the sovereign providence of my God, I abandon myself forever to your arms.  Whether gentle or severe, lead me henceforth whither you will.  I will not regard the way through which you will have me pass, but keep my eyes fixed upon you, my God, who guides me.  My soul finds no rest without the arms and the bosom of this heavenly providence, my true mother, my strength, and my rampart. Therefore I resolve with your divine assistance, O my savior, to follow your desires and your ordinances, without regarding or examining why you do this rather than that; but I will blindly follow you according to your divine will, without seeking my own inclinations. Hence, I am determined to leave all to you, taking no part therein [...]

MYSTICAL WOMEN: Joan of Arc—A Declaration of Faith

December 14, 2011

Were it not for God’s grace I could do nothing.  Had I not the assurance that God directs my work, I would rather tend sheep than expose myself to such great perils. If I am not in God’s grace, may God bring me there.  If I am in it, may he keep me there.  I should be of all creatures the most miserable if I knew myself not to be in God’s grace. When I am in any way opposed, because one will hardly believe that what I declare has come from God, I seek solitude and pray to God, lamenting to him that they to whom I speak will not readily believe me.  When my prayer to God is ended, I hear a voice that says to me, “Daughter of God, go, go, go.  I will be your helper.  Go!”  And when I hear this voice, I [...]

MYSTICAL WOMEN: Joan of Arc—Breaking the Mold

December 14, 2011

This is the story of Joan of Arc’s first trial. No, it’s not what you think.  In fact, before Joan had to stand before the judges arguing for her very life, she was on trial twice.  And as I wrote, above, this is the tale of her first encounter with the forces of justice.  But, first, for better understanding of this trial, a glimpse into her youth. When Joan was thirteen, she had her first vision.  At the second public examination of Joan (The Trial) on Thursday, February 22, 1431, she described to the judges assembled before her her first mystical experiences: Asked if she received the sacrament of the Eucharist at other feasts than Easter, she told the interrogator to move on.  Then she confessed that when she was aged [...]