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Monday 6 July 2015

Complete Text of Pope's Talk Today in Guayaquil

Pray for the Pope and pray for the Synod.

Good article I missed the other day...

Framing Prayer 5 Brother Lawrence

The advantage of starting with Brother Lawrence is that his manner of approaching God in prayer remains one of the clearest and simplest for lay people to adopt.

He had set hours of prayer, but he learned from the Holy Spirit to live in the Presence of God constantly, humbling recognizing that without grace he was not capable of doing this.

Brother Lawrence provides real guidelines for the layperson who lives in a busy times.

Remember that Brother Lawrence lived the life of a busy lay brother, taking care of the business of the monastery, meeting people in the world daily, working with his hands, and so on.

Here is a selection from his Second Letter:

My most usual method is this simple attention, and such a general passionate regard to GOD; to whom I find myself often attached with greater sweetness and delight than that of an infant at the mother’s breast: so that if I dare use the expression, I should choose to call this state the bosom of GOD, for the inexpressible sweetness which I taste and experience there. If sometimes my thoughts wander from it by necessity or infirmity, I am presently recalled by inward motions, so charming and delicious that I am ashamed to mention them. I desire your reverence to reflect rather upon my great wretchedness, of which you are fully informed, than upon the great favours which GOD does me, all unworthy and ungrateful as I am. As for my set hours of prayer, they are only a continuation of the same exercise. Sometimes I consider myself there, as a stone before a carver, whereof he is to make a statue: presenting myself thus before GOD, I desire Him to make His perfect image in my soul, and render me entirely like Himself.

 At other times, when I apply myself to prayer, I feel all my spirit and all my soul lift itself up without any care or effort of mine; and it continues as it were suspended and firmly fixed in GOD, as in its centre and place of rest. I know that some charge this state with inactivity, delusion, and self-love: I confess that it is a holy inactivity, and would be a happy self-love, if the soul in that state were capable of it; because in effect, while she is in this repose, she cannot be disturbed by such acts as she was formerly accustomed to, and which were then her support, but would now rather hinder than assist her. Yet I cannot bear that this should be called delusion; because the soul which thus enjoys GOD desires herein nothing but Him. If this be delusion in me, it belongs to GOD to remedy it. Let Him do what He pleases with me: I desire only Him, and to be wholly devoted to Him. You will, however, oblige me in sending me your opinion, to which I always pay a great deference, for I have a singular esteem for your reverence, and am yours in our Lord.  

And from his Sixth Letter:

I cannot imagine how religious persons can live satisfied without the practice of the presence of GOD. For my part I keep myself retired with Him in the depth of centre of my soul as much as I can; and while I am so with Him I fear nothing; but the least turning from Him is insupportable. This exercise does not much fatigue the body: it is, however, proper to deprive it sometimes, nay often, of many little pleasures which are innocent and lawful: for GOD will not permit that a soul which desires to be devoted entirely to Him should take other pleasures than with Him; that is more than reasonable. I do not say that therefore we must put any violent constraint upon ourselves. No, we must serve GOD in a holy freedom, we must do our business faithfully, without trouble or disquiet; recalling our mind to GOD mildly and with tranquillity, as often as we find it wandering from Him. It is, however, necessary to put our whole trust in GOD, laying aside all other cares, and even some particular forms of devotion, though very good in themselves, yet such as one often engages in unreasonably: because those devotions are only means to attain to the end; so when by this exercise of the presence of GOD we are with Him who is our end, it is then useless to return to the means; but we may continue with Him our commerce of love, persevering in His holy presence: one while by an act of praise, of adoration, or of desire; one while by an act of resignation, or thanksgiving; and in all the manner which our spirit can invent. Be not discouraged by the repugnance which you may find in it from nature; you must do yourself violence. At the first, one often thinks it lost time; but you must go on, and resolve to persevere in it to death, notwithstanding all the difficulties that may occur.

Obviously, the bent towards self-denial provides one of the underlying means of concentration in Brother Lawrence. This need for mortification remains a missing part of so many Tertiaries' lives. The problem in America is that too many orders have adopted middle-class values, values which demean mortification as a good. The practicing of the Presence of God must be seen in context. The other great asset to practicing God's Presence would be the virtue of humility. clearly seen in the life of this humble lay brother.

Th simplicity of Brother Lawrence's approach is that he totally realizes that without God's grace, he would not grow in holiness. Trust in God forms the pillar of his practicing the Presence of God. He noted a bare tree trunk with one small leaf. This image represented his life-a life totally reliant on grace.

This habit of mind can be acquired by lay people easily. One turns to God during the day at all times, and puts one's trust in Divine Providence, relying on God's Presence.

If you feel an attraction to Brother Lawrence's words, please purchase the little book The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. I still have a 1963 edition.

Persecution Watch Again and Again and Again

Another Reason I Am Working...

....on the House of Prayer. Please join me in trying to set this up.

One bit...

In a surviving Dutch document from 1691, the Regents of the City of Amsterdam, specified the terms under which a Roman Catholic church, called the Glabais, could be built by the Franciscans "to avoid giving any offense." The entrance must not be on the Jodenbreestraat, but "behind" on a lesser thoroughfare, the Burgwal. There would be no parking of sleds on the Jodenbreestraat. There was to be no "waiting for another person" on the street after services. The priest was responsible for seeing that no beggars came to ask the worshipers for alms. Services were timed so that there would be no chance of Roman Catholics offending Protestants by meeting them in the streets on their way to Dutch Reformed churches. And, finally, the Catholics must not walk to church in groups, nor carry prayer books, rosaries, or "other offensive objects" in a manner that made them visible to Protestant eyes. Benjamin J. Kaplan regards these requirements as typical of those in effect across Europe wherever clandestine churches were permitted.[1]

from the Amsterdam Municipal Department for the Preservation and Restoration of Historical Buildings and Sites (bMa)

I am still looking for two first class relics and two small altar stones, please. Contact me through comments and leave an email, which will not be published, if you can help with this request.

Framing Prayer 4

When we think of the prayer of Carmel, we think of the great Carmelite saints, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, whose birthday in 1515 we celebrate this year, and Therese, the Little Flower. But, as members of a religious order, they speak to the laity within a context of the order of perfection-communal life, scheduled prayer and work, obedience.

However, the Carmelite way of framing prayer can be accessible to the lay person, and not only to the fortunate enough to be third order Carmelites (Tertiaries) living near an orthodox Carmel.

Sadly, the Tertiaries I have known in my life did not have a clue about the difference between meditation and contemplation, and were influenced by modern commentaries which completely ignored the rigors of repentance and daily mortification. Speaking with Tertiaries in the past, I was surprised at the lack of understanding regarding the core of the way of Carmel-silence and solitude.

The Carmelite does not have the same communal or individual ideal as to the Benedictines or the Jesuits. Carmelites who are in truly contemplative orders have cells, where they pray and come together for Mass or chores (done in silence) only. The cell provides the silence and solitude of the reformed order. The active orders, such as those which have reached out to the aged and to education, must balance meditation and contemplation with great activity, losing the contemplative focus of Teresa's renewal.

The lay person, however, can learn much from the framework of the prayer of Carmel. Follow the tags for other posts on Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, John of Avila.

Here, I want to concentrate on the manner of prayer, so as to aid those lay people who are inclined to the daily framework of a Carmelite.

In doing so, I highlight four aspects of the prayer of Carmelites in this mini-series--the devotion to Mary, the devotion to the Holy Face, the central need for study, and the role of contemplation in action.

Before I begin, I would ask readers to turn to three great modern Carmelite saints for their example of holiness in action as well as contemplation. These four Carmelites will be my examples for this section of the mini-series: Brother Lawrence, Titus Brandsma, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross,  and Elizabeth of the Trinity.

I have several posts on these saints already on this blog, but I want to emphasize how their lives and manner of praying can directly inform the lay person attracted to the spirit of Carmel. Just follow the tags, and for Elizabeth of the Trinity, look under "Indwelling of the Trinity:

Besides silence, mortification looms large in the life of a real Carmelite. One only needs to look at the lives of those four I have chosen to see the great importance in their lives of humility, which flows from self-denial.

We have the great examples of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross regarding self-denial, but in Part Five, I shall concentrate on the lives and prayer of the four to be used for this mini-series.

to be continued...

Framing Prayer 3

I repost articles which need to be the foundation for any manner of prayer--silence and schedules.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Perfection Part Eleven -Silence

On Perfection continued...

These posts seem to be popular, so I shall do two today. It is Lent, and such meditations may be helpful for some, including myself.

The overlap of the Carmelite, Benedictine and Dominican spiritual ways can be clearly seen in the the call to some silence during the day. Now, as busy lay people, we must create these little shells of silence so that we can hear the Voice of God, the small, still Voice. Without silence, one is not in touch with one's own soul or with God.

I have known extremely busy people. Not only are these people busy during the day, but when they come home at night, they have the television on until they go to bed. From the minute they wake up in the morning, when they turn on the radio, read the paper, run about doing necessary or unnecessary activities, these Catholics are never silent. I would be exhausted without silence.

If I do not have time in the morning and in the evening, at the very least, for reading Scripture, one of the Hours, such as Vespers, I cannot act as a serene, human being. Silence gives me grounding for the entire day, and if I practice silence, it can remain within me for the entire day. This is the beauty of silence, it becomes a wellspring of life within us, overcoming other noises and confrontations.

Silence breaks down anxiety and fear. The most fearful people I know cannot bear silence. They must keep moving, keep doing, even if they are retired. The rhythm of life which includes silence gives a richness to one's existence and keeps one from falling into superficiality.

Why some people are afraid of silence is that they are afraid of suffering. In silence, I see my sins, my failings, my failures. In silence, I face the need for conversion daily. In silence, I meet God, who is All Goodness, All Innocence, All Perfection.

Only in Faith can one approach silence, as in silence one meets the God of Mercy and Forgiveness.

I have talked with friends as to how to create more silence in their day. Some want to do so and some want to keep running away from God, which to me, is running away from Love.

Silence is never boring, as some may believe, unless one thinks God is boring. The Infinite is so beyond me, that only is silence can I meet God.

We are fast approaching Holy Week, when in the Passion of Christ, we see Him keeping silent before both the Sanhedrin and Herod. Christ said little in front of Pilate, but He was calling Pilate to Himself, and was trying to make the Roman see. Christ remained silent because He did not need to defend Himself. He is God. He is Man. He stood in silence, in Perfection, and those who judged Him unfairly could not see the Silence which stood before them, as they had never met Him in silence. Those who meet God, know Him when they see Him.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Sanctity and Schedules

Now, a disclaimer. As an INTJ, I am scheduled. I get up at the same time everyday and I have regular habits of eating, praying, writing.

I do most of my work in the morning.

When I was in Ireland, living alone for months and months, I could pray four to six hours a day, as I was living in silence and solitude.

I love this.

But, even though it was just me, I was scheduled.

Daily Mass same time, prayers, writing, etc. only interrupted by parties at night in the flats next door, or personal illness.

Same in Malta, even though for most of the time I was sharing a flat with one other person. Daily morning Mass, prayers, breakfast, and so on....Dinner was always about the same time as well.

Recently, living with other people without schedules, people who are not INTJs but ESFPs or variations of unscheduled types, I am observing something which the ancient fathers understood. One good thing about living in community is that those who naturally gravitate towards schedules can help those who do not.

Those who are more easy-going can help with the obsession some may have with schedules.

It is much harder for those without schedules to become holy. Going from one activity to another as these present themselves to the mind does not allow for prayer or reflection. Merely reacting to things rather than planning or reacting to situations on impulse are methods of living which impair the way of holiness.

Holiness demands scheduling.


Prayers, the reading of Scripture, the reading of holy books, daily Mass, or Adoration demand planning.

Those who have never had schedules, or who have avoided scheduling do not plan formation into their days.

Every semester when I was teaching college, the first thing I did was introduce my students to Time Management Skills.

I would, in some extreme cases, find up to 40 wasted hours in one week of 168 hours. I would mostly find between 17-27 wasted hours, enough time for my students to really study. They all had too much "down time" or just wasted time.

Waste is a sin.

Wasting time can create a habit of avoiding God and holiness.

Wasting time can lead one to hell.

A few days ago, I was speaking with a person who use to read the Scriptures daily for at least a half-hour.

He no longer does this. He is "too busy", "too tired".

He works, and he works hard, but his home life is not scheduled and never has been. He goes out a lot.

I see many, many elderly people out and about here-and they have lively social lives. There is nothing wrong with that, but one must face preparation for death.

Sanctity must be a cooperation between work and grace. Without a schedule, it is hard, perhaps impossible to find out who one is and who God is.


13 Feb 2013
While in the monastery last year, I lived with the nuns in the silence of the day. I have tried to cooperate with grace and cultivate an interior silence outside the convent. Some of the great Benedictine writers have distilled ...
19 Feb 2012
To live in silence is a gift not to be taken for granted. Silence makes us face ourselves, our sins and failings, our lack of charity. On the positive side, silence enables us to have a relationship with God. Relationships take time ...

08 Jul 2012
“It was not until 1973, when we began our daily Holy Hour that our community started to grow and blossom... In our congregation, we used to have adoration once a week for one hour, and then in 1973, we decided to have ...
11 Aug 2013
In this state, prayer and times outside of prayer merge into one state of being; but one must either be in actual silence, or create silence in the mind and heart. The saying yes then becomes automatic, as one can hear God ...

17 Jun 2015
This is one reason why scheduling must be part of the growth in holiness. Without scheduling, one cannot be faithful, but merely act in spontaneous or knee-jerk reactions to events, things, and people. Scheduling allows ...

Framing Prayer 2

In order to chose a framework for your prayer, ask yourself a few pertinent questions.

Am I an introvert or an extrovert?

Do I tend to complicate my life, or do I try and simplify my life?

Do I need strict guidelines or merely a loose framework?

Do I want to use the Divine Office, or do I already?

Do I want to use the Monastic Diurnal?

Can I get to daily Mass or Adoration?

Am I confined to praying at home?

Am I a morning or evening person?

Have a honestly done a time management schedule to see how much time I waste in the day?

Do I have to be in a certain environment for prayer, or can I pray anywhere, like in the kitchen, or in an office?

Am I hyper-active or more sedentary?

Am I easily distracted, or am I able to concentrate well?

Am I a free spirit or am I naturally disciplined?

Do I want to pray all day, in the Benedictine fashion of carrying on prayer in silence while I work?

Do I have to strive to put more silence into my life?

Do I need mental discipline?

And so on.....

One may not know one's self well enough to "feel" Carmelite, or Cistercian, or Dominican, or Ignatian. However, trying one way is fine, and then trying another when one way does not suit one, is also fine.

The three approaches to prayer I shall highlight in the next fourteen days will be the Carmelite, the Ignatian, and the Benedictine. If you want to review the Dominican way, follow the Garrigou-Lagrange and perfection series tags. Much has been covered already.

I want you all to think of these times as a new Age of Chaos, like the time of the Fall of the Roman Empire, or the Dissolution of the Monasteries, or the Protestant Revolt.

What framework of prayer do you think will help you personally live in Christ and love in Christ in this time?

We all have real needs which dictate the form of our spiritual lives. Those who pray will see clearly the need for depth, not breadth.

Even priests need an approach to prayer, which is why some priests are found in religious orders which appeal to their individual spiritual character. But, even the laity can benefit from a certain approach.

Here is the outline for these two weeks:

Carmelite, first; Ignatian, second, Benedictine, third. Of course, each way is also Marian. We do not set Mary aside in any of our prayer methods, or ways.

May I remind all that one must learn two things immediately about nurturing a life of prayer.

One is becoming comfortable with silence. And, too, one must stick to a schedule.

to be continued...

Two Weeks Ahead-Framing Prayer

For the next two weeks, I shall be concentrating on three themes. Enough bloggers cover the political news. Therefore, I want to revisit some different approaches to God in the various spiritualities of the saints.

These themes were covered some what in the perfection series, but I want to highlight spiritualities which saints gave to the Church, to us, in particularly trying times.

Because we are beyond the great ages of Catholic education, we all must be trained in prayer techniques which can be learned on one's own, either with or without a spiritual director. Many of us do not have spiritual directors, as there are not many priests available in some areas to direct, or there is a lack of trained directors. Those who have them should pray for those who are without. Most of my life, from the age of 22, I have had a director. Not to have one now is a great cross for me. But, one carries on, listening ever more intently to God, who speaks to us directly and through others.

As those who have followed this blog for years, I concentrate on these three approaches to God-the Benedictine way, (the Cistercian being part of this), the Ignatian way, and the way of Carmel. I have also covered the Dominican way, of course, using the great Dominican Garrigou-Lagrange for most of my commentary.

But, what I want to do in the next two weeks is break down ways for singles, couples and families to choose a spirituality for their daily lives, incorporate such approaches into their prayer, and learn to discern from those "ways". I have down this with education, and one only has to follow the tags to see how I have shared the great approaches to home education of all the great and holy saint educators.

The impetus for this intense study is that we may face lives without the sacraments, without priests. As those of us without directors know only too well, God does not stop our spiritual growth because we cannot find a director, or cannot get to weekly Adoration or daily Mass. Some of the greatest times of growth for me personally have been in such deprived months.

Having said that, one hour before the Eucharist in the monstrance is worth weeks of struggling on one's own. But, less and less do people find it possible to be in areas of rich spiritual opportunities.

Let me remind readers that one cannot become holy without a schedule. It is impossible.

Daily routines form the framework for these approaches to pray.

Those who have read this blog know the basics: Scripture read daily, meditation daily from the lives of Christ, Mary and the saints, meditation on the daily Mass readings, intercessory prayer, quiet.

The absolute minimum would be a half-hour of reading Scripture. The rosary and the chaplet also fill out daily prayer.

But, my emphasis will be on personalities, schedules, various lay vocations, and temperaments. One should choose a spirituality which fits all these categories.

Are you a father, a mother, a grandparent, a wife, a husband, a widow, a widower, a single mom, a single person, a student? Your call in life will dictate to a certain extent the manner in which you approach God.

Are you working long hours? Are you a stay-at-home mum? Are you a single person with time after work to pray? And, so on....

Are you retired? Are you a student?

Some vocations lend themselves to certain spiritualities. These two weeks will hopefully inspire some to adopt a prayer-plan, instead of picking up ideas. I compare the three manners of spirituality I have chosen for these two weeks of posting as five course meals, compared with buffets.

The name of this mini-series is Framing Prayer.

to be continued.....

Why I Blog

One of the reasons I continue this blog has to do with the overwhelming silence of the clergy on many issues, such as abortion, contraception, ssm, and how to pray I blog because the hierarchy is not into adult education. How can bishops expect people to understand doctrine without education?

But, more than that, I blog in order to raise the level of education for the Catholic in the pew. Without knowledge of the Faith, and without encouragement to be holy, we would all fall into discouragement and even laxity.

The remnant is small, very small. Most Catholics have lost confidence in their bishops and even local priests. This lack of confidence has been caused by a variety of issues, some which can be "blamed" on the hierarchy and some which cannot be.

Those Catholics who are not in Church to hear sermons or homilies are also the same ones who do not read blogs. So, I write for a small minority of people who want to be Catholic and yearn for union with Christ through His Church.

Like children who have watched sinful parents, many Catholics just do not listen to the clergy. But, more to the point, these same people do not listen to their own brothers and sisters in the Church.

I question how I can reach out to those who are no longer hearing God's word or pursuing God's Word, the Son of God. How can we evangelize those in habits of sin, or those who no longer trust the Church? We have a generation of priests who are "de-skilled", and clerical careerists.

The leadership crisis has affected the Church in the West, which is one reason why the Pope called the Synod.

What we need are leader-saints. We need Bernard of Clairvauxs. Bonifaces, Dominics, Benedicts, Catherines, Teresas, Etheldredas.

The Church needs saints to speak to those who either are so far away they cannot hear, or who do not want to listen.

How does a saint "make" people listen. By a holy life......through the example of personal holiness.

By the conviction of those who love God first, others see the fruit of this love.

Love first, love God first, love the Church....

Pray, then act.....I blog to become a saint myself, and to share this way with others.

Without prayer, there is no way to get to God.

Teresa of Avila warned us: "Don't let anyone deceive you by showing you a road other than prayer."