Archives for March 2015
A Fifteen Second Invitation: take some Sabbath time to practice the presence of God throughout your day.
— Al Gustafson
“It is useless to try to make peace with ourselves by being pleased with everything we have done. In order to settle down in the quiet of our own being we must learn to be detached from the results of our own activity. We must withdraw ourselves, to some extent, from effects that are beyond our control and be content with the good will and the work that are the quiet expression of our inner life. We must be content to live without watching ourselves live, to work without expecting an immediate reward, to love without an instantaneous satisfaction, and to exist without any special recognition. “ – from No Man is an Island by Thomas Merton
In the relentless busyiness of modern life, we have lost the rhythm between work and rest. All life requires a rhythm of rest. There’s a rhythm in our waking activity and the body’s need for sleep. There is a rhythm in the way day dissolves into night and night in the morning. There’s a rhythm in the active growth of spring and summer as it is quieted by the necessary dormancy of fall and winter.
There’s a tidal rhythm, a deep eternal conversation between the land and the great sea. In our bodies, the heart perceptibly rests after each life-giving beat; the lungs rest between the exhale and the inhale. We’ve lost this essential rhythm.
Our culture invariably presupposes that action and accomplishment are better than rest … that doing something, doing anything, is better than doing nothing. Because of our desire to succeed to meet these ever-growing expectations, we do not rest. Because we don’t rest, we lose our way. We miss the compass points that would show us where to go. We miss the quiet that would give us wisdom. We miss the joy and love and ease born of effortless delight. Poisoned by the belief that good things come only through determination and tireless effort, we can never truly rest, and for want of rest, our lives are in danger. Thomas Merton, a beloved Cistercian monk writing in the late 1960’s said, ‘there is a pervasive form of contemporary violence, and that is activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of this innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. The frenzy… kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.
— Wayne Muller
Peace is not the product of terror or fear.
Peace is not the silence of cemeteries.
Peace is not the silent result of violent repression.
Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all.
Peace is dynamism.
Peace is generosity.
It is right and it is duty.
— Oscar Romero
Trust in the slow work of God.
— Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Nobody sees a flower — really — it is so small it takes time — we haven’t time — and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.
— Georgia O’Keefe
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”
In your own life, what would it look like to live deliberately? To live deep? To not live so fast?
Close to the Brokenhearted
In today’s readings, Psalm 34 repeats this response: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.” As we continue to rest in periods of sabbath time this Lent, I struggle again and again to feel God in the broken places of my heart. I struggle to feel embraced and held together by the power of the Spirit, a power that knows the human heart and all its wonderings and wanderings and longings. I struggle to trust God is close to the brokenhearted when I witness so much pain and injustice in our city and in our world. It is heavy pain. It continues to weigh me down and break my heart. And so I try again today to trust in God. I try again today to believe the God of beauty and grace and courage surrounds me. I try again today to breathe in this Holy Spirit…and breathe out…and in…and out. I try again today.
“The Scriptures seldom speak of St. Joseph, but when they do, we often find him resting, as an angel reveals God’s will to him in his dreams.”
– Pope Francis
Through the years, the little adage: “Fear not, you are inadequate!” has come back to me, off and on, mostly at times when I have been a bit overwhelmed. There is a certain consolation in it. Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a minister, a priest, an advocate for justice, or simply a friend to someone in need, there are countless times when you come face to face with your own inadequacy. It is healthy, humbling, and uplifting to accept the fact that we are not God and that we are not asked to try to be. ~ From “Daybreaks, Daily Reflections for Lent and Easter Week” by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
A powerful image from St. Patrick’s life and ministry: While Celtic pagan festival fires were burning on the Hill of Tara in Ireland, the High Kings forbid other fires in the area. But Patrick, who had returned to Ireland to bring Christianity to its people, defied convention, lighting a paschal (Easter) fire on the Hill of Slane, located about 16km northeast of Tara. From the Hill of Tara, you can see the Hill of Slane across the valley on a clear day. High King Laoghaire and his attendants went to confront the interloper. According to legend, Patrick plucked a shamrock from the ground, using its three leaves (and his Irish language skills) to explain the Church’s paradox of the Holy Trinity: the union of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in one. Convinced by the stranger, Laoghaire agreed to let Patrick continue his missionary work and let the Paschal fire continue to burn.
“I say yes, yes to everything, to that meal and that event and that trip and that person. It’s so delicious, and I don’t want to miss out on even one moment of it. And that’s the point: I miss all sorts of sacred and significant moments, because of my insistence that I can do it all.”
But is there something better than more? Is less more? What would it be like to notice each meal, each bite, each conversation? What would it be like to not be running after something all the time?
This Lent, I invite you to “breathe, rest, practice the idea of enough. Practice the idea of living well, and a little more slowly. Practice believing that it will all still be here, waiting to be devoured freshly, after a good night’s sleep.”
Excerpts taken from Bittersweet: Thoughts on change, grace, and learning the hard way by Shauna Niequist
Lord, help me to know my heart. Rid my heart of every sign of evil, especially hatred. Fill my heart with your grace to do what is right. (Pope Francis)
Jesus, help me to look upon others with compassion and to see other people in the best light possible. Expand my heart so that I may be a person of mercy. (Pope Francis)
“Free will leads me to the church each week. I could resist it, but I don’t. I like the routine, and walking into church is like walking into a second home, where I am not only my earthly father’s daughter, but I am also a child of the King.”
— Maeve Healy, FXW student
Four years ago I made a new year’s resolution to “Keep the Sabbath.” My Jewish neighbors had inspired me with an invitation to Shabbat (the Friday night meal that begins at sundown). Friends and family gathered at their kitchen table with candles, singing, wine, bread and a family meal. Since that evening, keeping the Sabbath has become more than squeezing in Mass on Sunday.
During that year of intentionally keeping the Sabbath, I prioritized time differently including homemade meals whenever possible on Saturdays and Sundays. On a drive from Long Island to Chicago, we listened to Wayne Muller’s reading his beautiful book called: Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest and Delight.
Every year since then, I’ve made the same resolution at the beginning of January and the learning goes deeper each year. Year two translated into no more work on Sundays (and included me gently telling clients). It also meant more time enjoying God’s gifts of nature.
Year three meant more rest, more often and without regret on Sundays and every day. And this, my fourth year of “Keeping the Sabbath,” has meant more intentional time with God in community with a group doing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.
Sabbath moments of pause reconnect me to the Divine where I rest in God. Staring at the stars and full moon delight my soul. Contemplating the place where the lake meets the horizon and imagining myself floating there in God and covered by God soothes my soul. These are some of my Sabbath moments.
Muller reminds us that Sabbath is an invitation to restore the sacred rhythm of rest and delight. What Sabbath moments do you treasure? What Sabbath moments do you want to invite into your life?
— Laura Fields
But I was
— Laura Field
I try to follow Jesus,
but sometimes I fail and fall.
May I know in my heart
that Jesus is always with me.”
— The Stations of the Cross for Children
No 7 a.m. or 12:10 p.m. Mass.
To strengthen them for coming strife,
Our Savior climbed the heights
With Peter, James, and John his friends,
And showed them heaven’s light.
With Moses and Elijah there
Who spoke of coming doom,
The Christ stood, radiant as the sun,
To point beyond the tomb.
May Tabor’s light and wondrous news
Shine on our Lenten days,
That seeking naught but Jesus Christ,
Our penance may be praise!
— James Michael Thompson
“Father, I long, I faint to see
The Place of thine abode;
I’d leave thine earthly courts, and flee
Up to thy seat, my God!
Here I behold they distant face,
And ‘tis a pleasing sight,
But to abide in thine embrace,
Is infinite delight”
— Early American Hymn
Let Your God Love You
Empty Before your God.
Let your God look upon you.
That is all.
God loves you
With an enormous love,
And only wants
To look upon you
With that love.
Let your God—
Slow Me Down, Lord!
Amidst the confusion of my day, give me the calmness of the everlasting hills. Teach me the art of taking minute vacations…of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to read from a good book. Remind me to look upward at the towering oak, and know that it grew slowly and well. Slow me down, Lord.