the whispers

Prayer is less a work of mental exercise than it is a rest in God’s love. In his book ‘Creative Prayer,’ Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh relates the following story: “I remember one of the first people who came to me for advice when I was ordained was an old lady who said: “Father, I have been praying almost unceasingly for fourteen years, and I have never had any sense of God’s presence.” “So” I said, “Did you give him a chance to put in a word?” “Oh well,” she said, “No, I have been talking to him all the time, because is not that prayer?” I said; “No, I do not think it is, and what I suggest is that you should set apart fifteen minutes a day, sit and just knit before the face of God.” And so she did. What was the result? Quite soon she came again and said: “It is extraordinary, when I pray to God, in other words, when I talk to him, I feel nothing, but when I sit quietly, face to face with him, then I feel wrapped in his presence.” You will never be able to pray to God really and from all your heart unless you learn to keep silent and rejoice in the miracle of his presence, or if you prefer, of your being face to face with him although you do not see him.”
God should be so much a part of our lives that silence with him is a refuge and spontaneous chats with him are commonplace. When we are tired, we ask God to be near us. We tell him about the little things that have happened during the day, especially our fears, doubts, and sorrows. We share what concerns us. Then we sit, quiet and still, and patiently wait for the whisperings of God. And as we wait, we realize, like the slow rising of the sun, that God cares for us more than we can ever imagine.
adapted from my book Everyday Holiness, A Guide to Living Here and Getting to Eternity

thanksgiving

Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” The terms sacrifice and praise seem to be opposites. We think of sacrifice as offering something at great cost to ourselves, something that is difficult and takes effort. Praise, on the other hand, sounds joyful as it flows from a grateful heart. In the spiritual realm, sacrifice and praise are intertwined. When we bring a “sacrifice of praise,” we choose to believe that, even though life is not going as we think it should, God is still good and can be trusted. The Celebration of the Eucharist is the greatest sacrifice of praise.
Folliott Pierpoint was twenty nine when he wrote For the Beauty of the Earth. He was mesmerized by the beauty of the countryside that surrounded him. This hymn first appeared in 1864 in a book of Eucharistic Hymns and Poems entitled “Lyra Eucharistica, Hymns and Verses on the Holy Communion, Ancient and Modern, with other Poems.” It was written as a Eucharistic hymn – hence the refrain “Christ, our God, to thee we raise, this, our sacrifice of praise.” This is seen throughout the original text. The text on the link is a bit different.
original lyrics:
For the beauty of the earth, For the beauty of the skies, For the Love which from our birth, Over and around us lies: Christ, our God, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise. For the beauty of each hour, Of the day and of the night, Hill and vale, and tree and flower, Sun and moon and stars of light: Christ, our God, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise. For the joy of ear and eye, For the heart and brain’s delight, For the mystic harmony, Linking sense to sound and sight: Christ, our God, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise. For the joy of human love, Brother, sister, parent, child, Friends on earth, and friends above; For all gentle thoughts and mild: Christ, our God, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise. For each perfect gift of thine, To our race so freely given, Graces human and Divine, Flowers of earth, and buds of heaven: Christ, our God, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise. For thy bride that evermore, Lifteth holy hands above, Offering up on every shore, This pure sacrifice of love: Christ, our God, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise. For thy martyrs’ crown of light, For thy prophets’ eagle eye, For thy bold confessors’ might, For the lips of infancy: Christ, our God, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise. For thy virgins’ robes of snow, For thy maiden mother mild, For thyself, with hearts aglow, Jesu, victim undefiled, Offer we at thine own shrine thyself, sweet sacrament divine.
Folliott S, Pierpoint
revised lyrics:
Listen
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbXvCZfiOVM&list=RDdGt4-KyFwe4&index=2

and the word is . . .

“What is real Good?” I asked in musing mood. Order, said the law court. Knowledge, said the school. Truth, said the wise man. Pleasure, said the fool. Love, said a maiden. Beauty, said the page. Freedom, said the dreamer. Home, said the sage. Fame, said the soldier. Equity, the seer. Spake my heart full sadly, “The answer is not here.” Then within my bosom softly this I heard: “Each heart holds the secret. Kindness is the word.”
John Boyle O‘Reilly

the shepherd

A special program was being presented. As a part of the program each speaker was to repeat from memory the words of the Twenty third psalm. The young man, trained in the best speech techniques and drama, gave, in the language of the ancient silver tongued orator, the words of the psalm. “The Lord is my shepherd . . .” When he had finished, the audience clapped and cheered, asking him for an encore so that they might hear again his wonderful voice. Then the old gentleman, leaning heavily on his cane, stepped to the front of the same platform, and in feeble, shaking voice, repeated the same words. “The Lord is my shepherd . . .” But when he was seated, no sound came from the listeners. Folks seemed to pray. In the silence, the young man stood to make the following statement: “Friends,” he said, “I wish to make an explanation. You asked me to come back and repeat the psalm, but you remained silent when my friend here was seated. The difference? I shall tell you. I know the psalm, but he knows the Shepherd,”
Charles Allen

the circle

Among the Lakota and other northern plains Indians, circles of life within nature are found in abundance and deeply revered. The sun, moon, earth and planets are round, The circular flow of day and night and the four seasons ceaselessly come and go. Circles mark the age of trees and are the forms of seeds and fruits. Circular housing ranges from the small nests of birds to large tepees. Tepees were often placed in a circle when a tribe set up camp. To the Indian a circle imparted unity as symbolized in togetherness when sitting around a campfire and in each family circle. Just as the family is a part of the larger tribal circle, so each nation is a part of the world. Circles are a symbolic part of reality. They express harmony in life and nature. In a circle no one is first or last. Circles are within, over and under other circles, and also symbolize the eternity of God. They are timeless and even bring new life from death. Circles of grace find gain in loss, breakthrough in breakdown, stepping stones in stumbling blocks. The journey of life is an upward spiral if we stay on the spiritual path. Grace softens movements around the hard curves of life and appears when there is need of rising again to live. Each ending connects with a new beginning, just as dawn follows darkness. In the great circle of life, each individual comes from God, lives, dies and returns to God.
Adapted from the book: Carmel, Land of the Soul, Living Contemplatively in Today’s World
“Will the Circle Be Unbroken” is an old country hymn of hope and perseverance, a message that life continues in the face of adversity and after death.
I was standing by my window on one cold and cloudy day. When I saw that hearse come rolling for to carry my mother away. Will the circle be unbroken, by and by, Lord, by and by. There’s a better home a-waiting in the sky, Lord, in the sky. I said to that undertaker, undertaker please drive slow. For this lady you are carrying Lord, I hate to see her go, Will the circle be unbroken by and by, Lord, by and by. There’s a better home a-waiting in the sky, Lord, in the sky. Oh, I followed close behind her tried to hold up and be brave. But I could not hide my sorrow when they laid her in the grave. Will the circle be unbroken by and by, Lord, by and by. There’s a better home a-waiting in the sky, Lord, in the sky. I went back home Lord, my home was lonesome missed my mother, she was gone. All of my brothers, sisters crying what a home so sad and lone. Will the circle be unbroken by and by, Lord, by and by. There’s a better home a-waiting in the sky, Lord, in the sky.
Ada Haberson
Listen:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JX_rh5_4OC0

all souls: the bloom

“To weep is to make less the depths of grief.” (Shakespeare) Grief is as much a part of life as joy. Grief can overshadow us in many ways. The process of grieving over the loss of a loved one is unique to the person experiencing it. It can be lengthy, and it can be healing. We cannot avoid grief by distractions or busyness. We cannot continue to deny it through over work, addictions or diversions. If we do not face the pain of grief somewhere it will wait for us. As the certainty of grief settles in, we can grow in its pain and in time it will enrich our lives. Death takes away a loved one, but in time we may experience his or her presence in a deeper way. That presence can be nurturing, comforting, and free of human weaknesses.
No two persons grieve in the same way to a particular loss. We differ in the time it takes to integrate a loss and we must be gentle with ourselves when grief is intense. Minor losses can have a profound effect that we never expected. Major losses may be easier to bear than we imagined. We may seem the same to others on the outside, but on the inside we are changed. We grasp at straws when we try to explain how we are different. More often than not it is beyond what can be spoken in words or perceived in thoughts.
Grief changes us, and we strive to choose change for the better. If we choose the negative side of grief, we do not see beyond the consuming fact of loss and feel cheated, or become bitter or pessimistic because of what we no longer have. Such thoughts influence the way we do things, insulate us from today’s world and stop us from moving ahead. If we choose the positive side of grief, we feel a union with people who are grieving. We find alternatives to difficult situations and opportunities to grow in spite of our heartache. We move from thinking about what happened to us and concentrate on what to do with what happened to us. In the midst of sadness we know that steadfast love transforms, that change promotes growth, that the powers of the mind develop, that conversion of the heart continues and that time lessens and softens grief.
A four year old boy died quite unexpectedly during a routine operation. On the headstone of his grave is a side view of a little boy in overalls, kneeling as if planting flowers in the earth. By his picture are the words: “Budded on earth to bloom in heaven.” Aren’t we all budded on earth to bloom in heaven?
We seem to give them back to you, O God, who gave them to us. Yet, as you did not lose them in giving, so we do not lose them by their return. Life is eternal and love is immortal and death is only a horizon, and a horizon is nothing except the limit of our sight. Lift us up, strong Son of God, that we may see further; Cleanse our eyes that we may see more clearly; Draw us closer to yourself that we may know ourselves to be nearer to our loved ones who are with you. Bede Jarrett
Adapted from the book. Living through Cancer, A Practical Guide to Cancer Related Concerns
In Paradisum in English means ‘into paradise’ It is an antiphon, sung or said, used in Masses for Christian burial. It is sung by the choir, or soloist, as the casket is incensed or when the body is being taken out of the church.
English translation: May the angels lead you into paradise; may the martyrs receive you at your arrival and lead you to the holy city Jerusalem. May choirs of angels receive you and with Lazarus, who once was poor, may you have eternal rest.
Listen:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hg43i3Nsl9g

salve regina

The Salve Regina, meaning “Hail Queen” and also known as the Hail Holy Queen, is a Marian hymn and one of four Marian antiphons sung at different seasons within the Christian liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church. The Salve Regina is traditionally chanted, or said, at the end of Compline, the night prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours, from the Saturday before Trinity Sunday to the Friday before the first Sunday of Advent. The hymn was composed during the Middle Ages and originally appeared in Latin, the prevalent language of Western Christianity until modern times. Though traditionally ascribed to the eleventh century German monk Hermann of Reichenau, it is regarded as anonymous by most musicologists. Traditionally it has been sung in Latin. The Hail Holy Queen is also the final prayer of the rosary. The month of October is dedicated to the holy rosary. The rosary helps us to meditate on the lives of Jesus and Mary, and asks Mary to pray for us and lead us to her son.. The rosary is more than a prayer. It symbolizes our destiny in and with God according to Mary’s example. To strive toward this destiny, we need faith in God and his marvelous deeds for us, hope to persevere in his ways, and love as a practical way of living our faith.
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
Listen:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0YWKLNhTvE&vl=en
If you are interested in learning how to say the rosary go to https://www.lourdescenter.org click online store, order booklet Our Gift from Mary. All the prayers and mysteries of the rosary are in this brown scapular booklet.

live Jesus

Christ has no body now on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ must look out on the world. Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which he is to bless his people.
Teresa of Avila

an intrepid master of spirituality

Saint Teresa of Avila was a master of the spiritual life who has attracted followers throughout the centuries. Who was this extraordinary woman? Her daughters, the Carmelite nuns in Terre Haute Indiana, share with us this brief, but poignant, account of her life.
“Teresa of Avila, a /Spanish Carmelite nun of the sixteenth century, brought to the Church a new lived expression of the ancient rule of Our Lady of Mount Carmel . Living in Spain, after the Council of Trent, in times very much like our own, she determined to restore the primitive rule of Carmel which had been relaxed and to infuse into it a deeper spirit of service to the Church through prayer. To accomplish this, she founded her first monastery of Saint Joseph in Avila, in 1562. The new community was a small group of cloistered nuns, dedicated to a life of prayer in solitude, to poverty, and to an intense sisterly charity. During her lifetime, Teresa founded seventeen monasteries of nuns, and, with John of the Cross as her associate, she restored the primitive rule in newly established houses of the Spanish Carmelite friars. Before she died in 1582, she had the consolation of seeing her foundations of nuns and friars established as a separate province of the Carmelite Order, having its own distinct spirit, laws and government.
“Characteristic of Teresa were her vivacity and charm, her determination, and her dauntless courage to carry out anything and everything God asked of her. She possessed eminent common sense, with a warm human personality that was enriched with a great intelligence, and God given experience of the highest ways of prayer. Her writings display the variety of both her human and supernatural gifts and, at the same time, provide authentic and lofty teachings about prayer and the spiritual life, unequalled in Christian literature. In 1970 Pope Paul VI declared her a Doctor of the Church, signifying the validity and universality of her doctrine.
“Teresa is an example and guide for men and women of this century in every situation and life style. All those who love life, whose hearts are filled with noble ambitions, who are called to great exploits or to the heroicity of daily duty, might well take her as their patroness. This saint, aflame with love of God and alive with friendship for all her associates, shows us that holiness and wholesomeness are inseparable companions of sublime sanctity. In action and in prayer she challenges us to follow her to the heights.
“Prayer was for Teresa of Avila an intimate and solitary conversation with our best friend, Jesus. She teaches us that there is no better road to God than the road of prayer, and she urges everyone to set out on this road with determination. Living in a time of upheaval, she warns us to believe only those persons who have patterned their lives on Christ. All her life, her prayers and her activities were directed to the upbuilding of the Church. Her last words are an echo of all Teresa of Avila believed. ’I am so happy,’ she said, ‘to die a daughter of the Church.’”
Her name in religion was Teresa of Jesus. Her feast day is October 15th
Adapted from blogger’s book From Ash to Fire, A Contemporary Journey through the Interior Castle of Teresa of Avila

oasis

When I am in this state of spiritual dryness, unable to pray, or to practice virtue, I look for little opportunities, for the smallest trifles, to give pleasure to Jesus; a smile or a kind word, for instance, when I would wish to be silent, or to show that I am bored. If no such occasion offer, I try at least to say over and over again that I love him. This is not heard, and it keeps alive the fire in my heart. Even should the fire of love seem dead, I would still throw my tiny straws on the ashes, and I am confident it would light up again.
Therese of Lisieux