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Showing posts from August, 2017

On St. Augustine

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Things take the time they take. Don't
     worry.
How many roads did St. Augustine follow
     before he became St. Augustine?

I begin with this poem from Mary Oliver seeing as we celebrated the Memorial of St. Augustine on Monday. On Sunday I happened to open up and begin reading an incredible book, Jesus the Teacher Within, by Laurence Freeman, OSB. The book (not coincidentally, I'm sure) centers around the question Jesus asked in Sunday's Gospel: "Who do you say that I am?" The premise is that we must continually ask ourselves that question of God, Jesus, and ourselves as to grow in true Self-knowledge. I am enjoying it very much so far, and when I came to a few lines about Augustine, I figured it would be timely to share them with you.

"St Augustine was fascinated by the question of self-knowledge, aware no doubt of how hard he had worked to gain it himself:

'A person must first be restored to himself, that making of himself as it were a stepping stone, h…

Look at the Wildflowers

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From Matthew 6:26-34 (The Message translation):

Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to God than birds. Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion - do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers - most of which are never even seen - don't you think God'll attend to you, take pride in you, do the best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way God works fuss over …

From Teilhard de Chardin

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Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability— and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually—let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.
Let us walk in the holy presence.

The Graced Beauty of Surrender

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The past few days I have been struck by the flowers in our gardens. No longer at their peak, they have assumed an altogether different sort of beauty. I first saw it when I noticed the hydrangea bushes losing their familiar vibrant colors in favor of some new hues.


As I study the monastic vows, I am reading about this sort of surrender that nature demonstrates to us so well. For we humans it brings along some extra baggage though. The prioress of the Benedictine Sisters in Bristow, VA, Cecilia Dwyer, quoted Charles Cummings, OSCO in a piece of writing on obedience:

The mystical death-experience of total surrender issues in an experience of exhilarating freedom, a rebirth into a new place of life. But total surrender is frightening and arouses my anxiety and resistance. The anxious feeling I have is a sign that I am being invited to move beyond my present state of complacent existence into a new and closer relationship with the hidden God.

This feeling of fear is not foreign to me, nor …

Necessary Words

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I was going to post something different until this poem came into my inbox this morning.

Thanks for giving us words for this moment, Wendell Berry.

To my granddaughters who visited the Holocaust
Museum on the day of the burial of Yitzhak Rabin

Now you know the worst we humans have to know about ourselves, and I am sorry,

for I know that you will be afraid. To those of our bodies given without pity to be burned, I know

there is no answer but loving one another, even our enemies, and this is hard.

But remember: when a man of war becomes a man of peace, he gives a light, divine

though it is also human. When a man of peace is killed by a man of war, he gives a light.

You do not have to walk in darkness. If you will have the courage for love, you may walk in light. It will be

the light of those who have suffered for peace. It will be your light.
Let us pray for peace.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Catching Up and Moving Forward

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Two of the last books that I have read are books that the majority of people read 10+ years ago: Eat, Pray, Love and Harry Potter (Sorcerer's Stone).

While it has taken me a bit of time to get around to these books (I have to admit I have been stubborn about reading Harry), it does seem appropriate to be reading them now. Though I am only just beginning the Harry series, I know enough about it to know that it is about the struggle for good amidst evil, among other things. Eat, Pray, Love is all about learning to live from love, not fear.

These themes are important ones as I approach the making of my first vows in community. This is what the journey of the monastic is all about. Benedict tells us in the Prologue of the Rule about choosing a life of good:

"Seeking workers in a multitude of people, God calls out and says again: 'Is there anyone here who yearns for life and desires to see good days?' If you hear this and your answer is 'I do,' God then directs thes…

On Conversion

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From Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace:

In living out my conversion as a daily and lifelong process, I treasure most the example of my grandmother Totten, who dwelled in one marriage, one home, one church congregation for over sixty years. Her faith was alive for anyone to see; her life demonstrates that conversion is no more spectacular than learning to love the people we live with and work among. It does not mean seeking out the most exotic spiritual experience, or the ideal religion, the holiest teachers who will give us the greatest return on our investment. Conversion is seeing ourselves, and the ordinary people in our families, our classrooms, and on the job, in a new light. Can it be that these very people--even the difficult, unbearable ones--are the ones God has given us, so that together we might find salvation? Taking a good look at myself and the people I live and work with, I might assume that God is foolish indeed. I might also begin to have an awe-inspiring glimpse into the…

The Intergenerational Life

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It is a well known fact that one of our Sunday presiders, Father Jim, gives a great homily. Each week that he celebrates with us, he provides us with thought-provoking insights into not just the gospel reading, but each of the three Scripture readings for the week. (In fact, it is not only Jim who does this--we are quite blessed with our celebrants.)

Today though, really stuck out for me into terms of "homilies I needed to hear." (We all know what they feel like!) Jim reminded us that we already heard the gospel of the Transfiguration during this liturgical cycle, way back in our Lenten journey. But, this time, he explained, the context is different in light of the other gospels we've heard leading up to it.

The past few weeks have been about the Kingdom of God, but rather than focusing on the exterior reign, he reminded us of the utter importance of transforming our inner lives. It happens through all those tried and true ways: prayer, spiritual direction, and immersion…

Storytelling

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Since the last time that I wrote about Pax Christi's Peace Stories blog, a few new pieces have been published, including my second story. I am participating in a project called Young Peace Journalists for my novitiate corporate commitment project. Working with a group of other young writers worldwide, we interview local refugees and write their stories for Pax Christi.

If you click on the names below, they will link you to each story.

Me

Merveille

Innocent

Willeke

Let us walk in the holy presence.