Friday, September 12, 2014

Reflections on silence



"Persevere, work at reducing your faculties to a unity, to the simplicity of silence. In the silence, it will not be long before you are visited by God. He came to Elisha on Horeb at a moment of such silence that the murmuring of the slightest breeze could be heard. When the Lord wants to raise a soul to contemplation, he obliges all its faculties to be silent, so as to commit itself to him alone. Stop bothering with yourself. When you no longer listen to nature's complaints, when you refuse to give a hearing to all anxiety, to all desire but that of love, when you become indifferent to your earthly lot, when you hardly think about yourself either for good or ill and no longer care about the approval of others; when, in a word, you have habitually lost sight of self, you will have penetrated the silent Holy of Holies, the inviolable sanctuary of your soul where God resides and whither he invites you. Of you, as of Moses, he will say:

"'He is in charge of my whole household.
I speak to him face to face, plainly and not in riddles, 
and he sees Yahweh's glory'"
~ Numbers 12:8

~ A Monk
The Hermitage Within

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A measure of grace

     
                      
God is always ready to sustain us...with His Grace.

He understands our weaknesses and trials, our temptations and our struggles.  In every one of these situations, God gives us the exact measure of grace needed to conquer...to overcome.

When we are *in the storm* so to speak...in the chaos and mess of it all, it is hard to be aware of this grace.  It's almost as if hidden from us.  Nevertheless, we can be certain the grace is there.

A measure of grace is given...to complete errands after a night of insomnia.

A measure of grace is given...to restrain my temper when I want to scream at the dogs.

A measure of grace is given...to stop to chat with elderly neighbor when I am in a rush.

A measure of grace is given...to forgive my son when he has hurt me in anger.

A measure of grace is given...to spend time with daughter when I just want to be left alone.


A measure of grace is given...to give some attention to my husband when I am self-absorbed.

A measure of grace is given...to listen to oldest daughter while laying in bed even though my body is screaming for sleep.

A measure of grace is given...to be kind and compassionate to my patients when I am called into work at 2 am groggy with sleep.


"Do you know how to recognize in which Our Lord visits your soul?  A word read or heard, perhaps even by chance, an edifying example, an interior inspiration, a new light which makes you see your faults more clearly and opens new horizons of virtue and of good--all are visits from Jesus.  And you? How do you correspond?  Is your soul sensitive to these lights, to these admonitions?  Do you not sometimes turn your gaze away, fearing that the light you have glimpsed may ask you for sacrifices which are too painful for your self-love?

"Oh! If you has always recognized the moment in which the Lord visited you!  If you had always been open to his action!  Try then to begin again today, resolve to commence anew each time that you happen to give into nature...your good, your sanctification, are precisely here, in this continual adherence to the impulses of grace."

(Excerpt from Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene OCD)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Reflections on silence



"The rain ceases, and a bird's clear song suddenly announces the difference between Heaven and hell.

"God our Creator and Savior has given us a language in which He can be talked about, since faith cometh by hearing and our tongues are the keys that open Heaven to others.

"But when the Lord comes as a Bridegroom there remains nothing to be said except that He is coming, and that we must go out to meet Him.

"After that we go forth to find Him in solitude. There we communicate to Him alone, without words, without discursive thoughts, in the silence of our whole being.

"When what we say is meant for no one else but Him, it can hardly be said in language. What is not meant to be related is not even experienced on a level that can be clearly analyzed. We know that is must not be told, because it cannot."

~ Thomas Merton
No Man is an Island

Monday, September 1, 2014

Mustard seed cures



{photo courtesy of Wikipedia commons}

My brother sent me an interesting post by a woman suffering from depression who shared an old Buddhist folktale.  In so many words, a woman's infant died on his first birthday and she went to Buddha to find a cure that he may come to life.  He told her to bring back a handful of mustard seeds from a village home where no one has ever died.

In vain did she search and eventually came back to Buddha with empty hands to learn that there is no life without death...death is imminent and it is something we cannot evade or escape from...it is something we need to accept...with faith.

This woman was frantically seeking the *cure* for her son's death as the woman in the post was frantically seeking a cure for her own depression.

Many of us are suffering from ailments and look for the perfect cure that will heal them completely.  As one who has dealt with depression for 14 years, I can tell you all about the *search for the mustard seeds*...going from cure to cure hoping that this is the one thing that will help me get better.

I have been there...still there in fact.  Psychiatrists, spiritual direction, books, prayer, frequent reception of the Sacraments, and I don't know how many meds, supplements, healthy smoothies, journaling, aromatics, herbal teas, walking in nature, and most recently...a naturopathic doctor.

Yes...it is good to seek the best for one's health for we are temples of the Holy Spirit but where do we draw the line?  When do we come to a point of acceptance that this is being permitted by God for a greater purpose unbeknownst to us?

Of course, we can never draw the line with prayer and the Sacraments...they are health for the soul and bring us closer to God along with reading scripture and good spiritual writers and spiritual direction.  They are the foundation of any cure especially those involving psychological illnesses.

At some point, and even at this very moment, I need to come to accept the emptiness and darkness that surround me frequently.  I need to accept my psychological weakness and the insomnia that are part of my life...with peace...with trust...that God is working a greater good deep within.

How ironic that in the Buddhist folktale, the mustard seed is what he asks the woman to seek for...the tiny mustard seed that has come to be a symbol of faith to Christians.

"...for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you." 
~ Matthew 17:20

It is faith that will guide us in the darkness, emptiness, and obscurity...faith in the work of God in us and peace in the abandonment to His Holy Will.  I don't need a whole handful of mustard seeds...only one. Jesus states above, we need only begin with faith the size of "a" mustard seed then even a very small act of genuine faith can produce surprising results.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Reflections on silence


"St. John Climacus further defines silence as, first, detachment from concern with regard to all things, necessary  and unnecessary; second, as assiduous prayer; and third, as the unremitting action of prayer in the heart. Silence does not come easily to us in our day and age. Living in our modern world, we cannot easily run away from the "world", the physical world where most of us live and work and play. But our inner desert of banality and boredom as we go about our daily tasks, the desert of loneliness that comes over all of us even when we are among our loved ones but do not feel that we are one with them, the desert of  meaningless or senselessness that confronts so much that happens to us or surrounds us in our world, all call us to a certain withdrawal. This is not an escape in a physical sense so much as it is an inner turning in solitude to meet God at our center.

"It is a true withdrawal from the senseless dissipation of our inner energies and a movement into our true self that is discovered only by a 'return' unto ourselves. It is an avoidance of the evasionary tactics which our false egos call for in order to avoid confrontation with our true self in Christ. What strength it takes at times to be honest with ourselves and come aside awhile to rest and  - in silence - hear God's Word!"

~ George Maloney SJ
"The Silence of Surrendering Love"


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Monday, August 25, 2014

Moments of Grace

Outside my window...

...the most glorious weather...a hint of autumn

Moments of listening...

...someone mowing their lawn...husband and daughter chatting in kitchen while they make breakfast

Moments of gratitude...

...the lullaby of Katydids and crickets at night
...frequent visits to the library
...healthy smoothies
...generosity of someone close to me
...surprise packages
...celebrating two birthdays: oldest son::25 and second oldest son::22
...oldest son finally got his first job in nursing
...second oldest son was accepted into one of the Physician's Assistant schools he interviewed at
...beautiful summer weather

Moments in the kitchen...

...still slacking on the dinner menus but we are eating lots of salad, flatbread, hummus, soup and whatever comes to mind when it's time to make dinner...ack!
...went to see a naturopathic doctor so now I am dairy free for three weeks and also now a huge fan of smoothies and I am having fun with the combinations...also started new supplements...I realize if the healthy food is there when you open the fridge or cabinet, you will go for it...so need to keep it stocked with healthy choices

Moments around the house...

...not much if you don't have the money to do the repairs...but we are doing what we can...I am itching to tackle our backyard which looks like a gardener's nightmare...need to figure out a *dog AND people friendly* yard...fireplace needs autumn prepping too

Moments of reading...

...back to one of Merton's earlier journals, "Entering the Silence" ...he is good for me since I share many of his interior struggles...he is honest, raw, deeply spiritual and sarcastic which gets me a good laugh here and there
...just finished my book review on "Sacred Fire: Practicing Devotion to the Heart of Jesus" by Phillip Bulman
...Lectio: Carmelite Asceticism by Fr. Anastatius of the Holy Rosary OCD and Ascent of Mt. Carmel by St. John of the Cross (my fave)
...The Hawk and the Dove by Penelope Wilcock

Moments of Pondering...

...well...what it's like to be a *one car family* presently since our car accident July 16th (yes...Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel)...the adjustment is not as hard as I quite anticipated...my husband is usually home by mid-afternoon so I can usually run to the store then although I miss our morning excursions...the greatest sacrifice is not being able to get to a weekday Mass...and although my mom is stable now, I worry I won't be able to get to her if something urgent comes up...this is where my trust in God really comes in...He will provide but for now I accept the graces and blessings of being home more...there is more peace internally and externally...more time for prayer and reading and hopefully...writing...I look at it as living the *hidden life* as Jesus and Mary and Joseph did in Nazareth

Moments of prayer...

...continued healing for my mother
...direction for oldest daughter...she is working full-time and attempting some college course but is not sure what direction she wants to head
...change in job situation 
...inner healing
...all persecuted Christians

All my dear children I pray for with all my soul...you fill my heart with love:


{oldest son and I celebrating a quarter of a century...he towers a whole foot a few inches over me}


{second oldest son on his visit to medical missions in Panama...lots of good things happening in his life}


{oldest daughter looking like an elven princess along with her sweet, sensitive heart}


{youngest daughter at art show...full of innocence and joy}
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