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THE CHRISTIAN PIERCES THROUGH THE VEIL OF THIS WORLD AND SEES THE NEXT

THE CHRISTIAN PIERCES THROUGH THE VEIL OF THIS WORLD AND SEES THE NEXT

Thus the Christian pierces through the veil of this world and sees the next. He holds intercourse with it; he addresses God as a child might address his parent, with as clear a view of him, and with as unmixed a confidence in him; with deep reverence indeed, and godly fear and awe, but still with certainty and exactness: as St Paul says, ‘I know whom I have believed’, with the prospect of judgment to come to sober him, and the assurance of present grace to cheer him.

– St John Henry Newman; Realisation of the Unseen World. (P. S. VII, 211)

 
 

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BEWARE OF THIS TRAP THAT COSTS YOU YOUR INNER JOY!

BEWARE OF THIS TRAP THAT COSTS YOU YOUR INNER JOY!

Our dead

Our dead are not all in the churchyards, entombed under the shadow of the cross, beneath mounds upon which roses bloom.

There are others whom no visible monument reminds us of; they have existed only in the heart, where, alas! they have found a tomb.

Calm reigns about me to-day, and in my solitary room, face to face with my crucifix, I wish to summon you forth. Arise then from the tomb, my beloved dead!

The first to present themselves…

The first to present themselves to me are the sweet years of my childhood, so fresh, so joyous, so innocent.

There were composed of caresses received, of recompenses lavished, of confidence without fear; words of trouble, of danger, or of worry were unknown. They brought me calm joys, pleasures without remorse… and asked in return only a little obedience.

Alas! they are dead… and with them they have borne away many things. What voids have they not left!

Frankness, gaiety, simplicity; I no longer find you in my soul.

Family joys, so true, so expansive, so easy; I find you no more.

Happiness of the fireside, recompense so well earned by days of application, maternal reprimands, so frankly asked and so generously granted, sincere promises to be good so joyously received… are all these for ever at an end, and shall I find them no more?

Shall I find them no more?

And the shade which follows is my simple, confiding faith.

It appeared to me under the form of an angel, covering me with his white wings, pointing God out to me everywhere and in everything.

God who, each morning, prepared for me my daily bread.

God, who prevented my mother from falling ill, and healed her when she suffered.

God, who kept me from harm when I was very good.

God, who saw all, who knew all, who could do all things, and whom I loved with all my heart.

Alas! this simple and confiding faith is dead; it could not live without innocence.

True friendship

And this other phantom is the friendship of my early years.

Friendship of my childhood, friendship of my youth, which afforded me such pious, frank enjoyment, which initiated me to the joys of devotion, which accustomed me to deny myself in order to give pleasure [Mk 8:34; Mt 7:13-14; Mt 5:44-48; Mt 6:19-34; etc.], which destroyed selfishness in my heart by making me feel the desire of living for others.

Friendship of my childhood, friendship of my youth, upon which I relied when I was told of the troubles of life, of the isolation of the heart, of the sinking of the soul… you too are among the dead. An involuntary coolness, an unfounded suspicion which we had not the courage to clear up, an evil report to which we listened… killed this daughter of heaven. I knew that she was delicate, I watched over her, but I did not believe that she was so feeble.

Oh! how very long is the list of the dead who have found a tomb in my heart.

The remedy

You who are still young, upon whom God has lavished all these gifts which I have lost – candour, simplicity, innocence, friendship, devotion… guard these treasures well; and, lest they die, place them under the protection of prayer.

– From: Golden Grains, Eighth Edition, H. M. Gill and Son, Dublin, 1889

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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TWELVE STEPS OF SILENCE – SILENCE OF JUDGEMENT

TWELVE STEPS OF SILENCE – SILENCE OF JUDGEMENT

Step 1: Speak seldom with creatures and often with God

Previous: Silence of the mind

THE TWELVE DEGREES OF SILENCE

Step 9: Silence of judgment [Thy will be done]

Silence with regard to persons, silence with regard to things.

Do not judge, do not allow your own opinion to be perceived. Do not have them, that is, yield with simplicity, if these opinions are not opposed to prudence or charity.

It is the silence of the blessed and holy infancy, it is the silence of the perfect, it is the silence of the Angels and of the Archangels when they carry out the orders of God.

It is the silence of the Incarnate Word!

– From: The Twelve Degrees of Silence, Supplemento am.n. 2/2008 di “De Vita Contemplativa”

 

 

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LIVING THE GOSPEL: LITTLE GOOD WORKS OF LOVE FOR CHILDREN, TEENAGERS AND ADULTS (I)

LIVING THE GOSPEL: LITTLE GOOD WORKS OF LOVE FOR CHILDREN, TEENAGERS AND ADULTS (I)

LITTLE OCCUPATIONS

The Repairer of Neglects

Even persons of most generous dispositions and quick perceptions, in the midst of the unceasing occupations of a family, will often forget a number of those minute details, insignificant in themselves, but the deprivation of which is a real trial to certain temperaments. The details of family life are like the small screws which bind together the different parts of a piece of furniture: withdraw one or two of them, and the piece of furniture loses its shape; it becomes disjointed.

It is thus, also, in a family; its harmony is oftentimes only to be ascribed to the care taken not to neglect one of those trifling nothings of politeness, punctuality, or habit, to all of which we should pay almost as much attention as we give to greater duties.

Doing one’s bit for love: happiness, harmony and emotional security in the family 

Each member of a family, especially if he is advanced in years, has his little peculiarities, which render him happy in some way or other.

Perhaps it is a garment made to a special pattern.

Or a newspaper brought at a particular hour.

Or a game played in such a place.

Or a visit expected at some precise moment.

Or the expression of congratulations at a particular hour.

Or a desire scarcely manifested, but often experienced…

Watch all these little things. Take it upon yourself to visit every morning the corners where the members of the family like to find everything that may be useful during the day. Go first to the apartment where they all assemble; remove everything that might displease them; perfect all the arrangements which have been carelessly made.

But do it all without noise, and unostentatiously. Enjoy only the happiness which it affords you. Oh! how God will repay you in heaven.

– From: Golden Grains, Eighth Edition, H.M. Gill and Son, Dublin, 1889

 

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TWELVE STEPS OF SILENCE – SILENCE OF THE MIND

Previous: Silence of self love

THE TWELVE DEGREES OF SILENCE

Step 8: Silence of the mind

Silence useless thoughts, pleasing and natural thoughts; truly these only damage the silence of the mind and not the thought in itself which cannot cease to exist. Our mind wants the truth and we give it falsehood! Now the essential Truth is God. God is sufficient for His Divine Intelligence and is not sufficient for poor human intelligence!

A contemplation of God which is sustained and immediate, is impossible in the infirmity of the flesh, without a particular gift of the Divine Goodness; but silence in one’s own exercises of the mind is, with respect to the Faith, to content oneself with its obscure light.

Silence to the subtle reasoning which weakens the will and makes love become arid. Silence in one’s intention: purity, simplicity; silence to self-seeking; in meditations, silence to curiosity; in prayer, silence in one’s own dealings, they do nothing but hinder the work of God. Silence to pride which seeks itself in everything, everywhere and always, that wants that which is beautiful, good and sublime; it is the silence of holy simplicity, of total dispossession, of rectitude. A mind that fights against such enemies is similar to those Angels who see the face of God without interruption. The Lord raises up this intelligence to Himself, always in silence.

Next chapter

– From: The Twelve Degrees of Silence, Supplemento am.n. 2/2008 di “De Vita Contemplativa”

 

 

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HOW TO OVERCOME LONELINESS

LONELINESS

The feeling of loneliness may be considered one of the afflictions of this present life. There are some who try to escape it by mixing with the world’s crowds among whom they hope to find recreation and distraction and to get away from themselves.

“GETTING AWAY FROM ONESELF”

No one can always get away from himself however much he may try to do so. There are times when he will realise that even amid a crowd he is in some respects a solitary and sees himself isolated and alone in a world, which in most cases is not very aware of his presence and entirely forgets him when he is absent or dead. As men and women get older and lose by death one after another of their close relations and intimate friends, this sense of loneliness is apt to be felt more and may give rise to a certain sadness and a disposition to repine that there is no one left on whose sympathy and understanding they can depend.

FEELING ALONE IN SPITE OF BEING SURROUNDED BY PEOPLE

But at all times of life loneliness is a feeling to which all are liable, irrespective of age and the circumstances and conditions of life. True and lasting, for instance, as may be the love that exists between husband and wife, creating close companionship and a certain intimacy of thought and feeling, yet there will always remain in each of them secret recesses unknown and unexplainable to the other, which produces at times a feeling of loneliness. Owing to the complex nature of the human heart and mind and to the varying moods to which men are subject, the fact is that nobody can be thoroughly and perfectly understood by another, even by his closest companion and most intimate friend.

LONELINESS IS A FEELING TO WHICH ALL OF US ARE LIABLE

And it is in God’s design that this should be so. He has created us for Himself, to find in Him the only complete happiness and satisfaction. All men consciously or – more commonly – unconsciously are ever seeking and striving after this Supreme Good. If they think to find it in creatures, they are sooner or later disillusioned and disappointed. It is then they feel most lonely. The Catholic poet, Aubrey de Vere, has expressed this in the following poem which he entitled Reality:

Love thy God and love Him only

And thy breast will ne’er be lonely.

In that one great Spirit meet

All things mighty, grave, and sweet.

Vainly strives the soul to mingle

With a being of our kind:

Vainly hearts with hearts are twined,

For the deepest still is single.

An impalpable resistance

Holds like natures still at distance.

Mortal, love that Holy One

Or dwell for aye alone.

When we are told to love God only, the meaning, of course, is not that we should not love others who are, and should be, naturally dear to us, but that our love for them should be entirely subordinate to our love of God, so that we love them only in God and for God. If we make God our absolute and supreme love, merging and therefore ennobling in it all other love, we shall become increasingly aware of God’s constant presence and so effect such a close union with Him as to make us indifferent to the loneliness sometimes experienced on earth among our fellow beings.

THE PROCESS OF BECOMING ENTIRELY INDIFFERENT TO THE LONELINESS ONE “USUALLY” WOULD EXPERIENCE

But to arrive at such a love of God is not the work of a day. It may take a lifetime to reach it in its fullness and perfection. It means a life of daily self-sacrifice and mortification, the renunciation of all things to which we are inordinately attached. An inordinate affection for any person or thing, even when there is no sin, is enough to exclude that very close union which should subsist between the Creator and the creature. In short, we are not complying fully with the terms of God’s first and greatest commandment, which says: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind”; and until we do so love God, we must feel loneliness of heart.

THE NEED TO GET RID OF INORDINATE AFFECTION

So it becomes plain that to possess a perfect love of God, we must not only get rid of all sin but of all affection to sin or of anything that may lay open the way to sin, such as an inordinate affection. As we know, this can only be done by the grace of God, which is obtained by prayer and the sacraments. By the right use of the Sacrament of Penance we will gain a truer knowledge of ourselves and our weaknesses, a greater sorrow for, and an ever-increasing horror of, sin. What helps still more effectually to the love of God is the frequent, and if possible daily, reception of the Body and Blood of Our Lord in the great Sacrament of the Eucharist. As there, Christ, the God Man, out of His infinite Love gives Himself entirely to us, and that at the price of His death upon the Cross, so we should give ourselves entirely to Him, continually making sacrifices as a proof of the love we bear Him.

VIVIFYING AND PRACTICAL REALITIES

These are familiar truths which we have often heard or read, and the mere repetition of them, as with other spiritual truths, will have little or no effect upon us unless we pray earnestly to the Holy Spirit of God that they may sink very deeply into our mind and heart and become vivifying and practical realities.

THE NOBLE PURPOSE OF FEELINGS OF LONELINESS, DISILLUSIONMENT AND DISAPPOINTMENT WITH FELLOW HUMANS

That feeling of loneliness that sometimes comes to us is one of God’s ways of drawing us more closely to Himself, as every kind of suffering which falls upon us is permitted for a like reason. God is ever pursuing us with His love to gain ours, and so He wishes to disentangle us and free us from that love of creatures that apart from Him can never satisfy us but, so often, can only hurt. So that another Catholic poet, Francis Thompson, in his great religious lyric, The Hound of Heaven, has rightly attributed to God, the “tremendous Lover”, the words:

All which I took from thee I did but take,

Not for thy harms,

But just that thou might’st seek it in my arms.

All which thy child’s mistake

Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home.

Rise, clasp my hand and come.

During and since the days of war, of how much of those things we have been stripped in which once we found our pleasure, comfort, and consolation. But we may reflect that even when we had them, often enough we experienced that feeling of loneliness which nothing of this earth can always dispel. It is in God’s loving design that from all our losses and afflictions we should draw good, and thereby be led always to turn to Him, the Supreme Good, in the perfect love of whom all sense of loneliness disappears.

– From: Lift Up Your Hearts, Christopher J. Wilmot, S.J., The Catholic Book Club, London, 1949

 

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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GIVE FREELY WHAT THE HELPFUL ANGEL ASKS YOU TO GIVE

To be in this world but not of this world.

Therefore, let us not sleep as others do; but let us watch, and be sober (1Thess5:6)

My child, said a priest to a young girl whom he blessed as she was about to enter the world after years of pious convent education; my child, you will find all through life, at almost every step, an angel of God, who will present himself to you under a thousand forms, offering you true happiness, but always asking something from you in return.

He is called the angel of sacrifice.

Do not refuse him what he will ask from you.

God has put into his hands immense treasures of pure joy, from which he will return a hundredfold all that you give him.

From you, who are still young, he will demand but little: a glance which would only serve to gratify your curiosity; an object of no real value, to which you are too strongly attached; a reading [or viewing] which might have fostered your self-indulgence; some word, some arrangement of your appearance, the only object of which is to please.

My child, do not deny him what he asks of you.

If you refuse him once, you will lose your strength to grant him later what he will grant imperiously.

You will hardly believe me, perhaps, but my experience is this: When we accustom ourselves to give, we become so infatuated with giving that we can never cease.

And whilst we are always giving, he gives also, and his are godly gifts, if we but learn it.

O my child! the more sacrifices we make on earth, the happier we become.

– From: Golden Grains, Eighth Edition, H.M. Gill and Son, Dublin, 1889 (headings in bold added)

 

 

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