Monthly Archives: August 2015

Consumed in Grace

I first saw God when I was a child, six years of age.
the cheeks of the sun were pale before Him,
and the earth acted as a shy
girl, like me.

Divine light entered my heart from His love
that did never fully wane,

though indeed, dear, I can understand how a person’s
faith can at time flicker,

for what is the mind to do
with something that becomes the mind’s ruin:
a God that consumes us
in His grace.

I have seen what you want;
it is there,

a Beloved of infinite

St Catherine of Siena

St Catherine of Siena


A life of providence

“…everything is made by divine providence, from the first beginning of the world until the end.  My (God’s)providence gives you and permits everything to happen to you, both tribulations and consolations, whether temporal and spiritual.

“Divine providence grants every circumstance of your life for your good, in order that you may be sanctified in me, and that my truth may be fulfilled in you.  That truth is that I created you in order to possess eternal life, and manifested this with the blood of my only-begotten Son, the Word

“…You, eternal Trinity, are a deep Sea, into which the deeper I plunge the more I find, and the more I find the more I seek.  The soul cannot be filled to excess in your abyss, for it continually hungers after you...  –Catherine of Siena ‘Little Talks With God’.

Falling into the abandoned abyss of being, the existence of solitary yearning,
Plunging into cold waters practicing prayer, breathing viscous hunger, more and more appeasing, flourishing within believing,
Subsisting upon the screams of vocal chords sounding, echoing, chanting, vibrating things not their own, a chorus resounding, a singular high pitched fifing remaining alighting, unifying delighting,
Providence provides the masking of desperate disguises, the knowing of matters confined to refinement,
Pleasing oh Lord the misery of worldly advancement, the deconstructing of plans set upon material amassing, the imploding demands of sensual sidetracking, the fickle unfocused frolicking of fiendish free will all apart of Divine planning,
A blessing, a river crossing, a wrestling match concluded, the journey gradually sauntering beyond the guilt of sin, settling upon the purview within an emptied vessel,
The magnificent depravity of virtue attaining colorful tones fading into the background of a finely detailed dying to a life forgotten, a void,
Out of reach, anew, washed in the blood of One who always knew the predestination of a fate lacking choices amidst a multitude of moments within the overwhelming obliteration, God stands alone, Divine symmetry,
Memory assuaged, more and more the message of the spoken Word becomes lost within the sounds of silence, espousing still trying, letting go, opening awareness, squelching the senses individuality declining, finely tuning the center of creation: faith, hope, and charity,
Synchronized to a song as it was, as it will be, and as it is to come, a funeral party dancing into the grave, life is short while eternity long,



Why is it that you ask my name?

Standing on the shoulders of giants, oh my heart, oh my heart,
Breaking thunder storms eclipsing the lapsing wrathful recriminations,
Accusations festering amidst the allegations rendered within complaints.
Wrestling God, wrestling angels, wrestling man, wrestling myself,
Tussling on a riverbank, announcing a name, demanding a name in return.
No name blesses within an assumed defeat of knowing.
The story within a mystery, within generations, within the Word.

“Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Tell me, I pray, your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. –Genesis chapter 32




Pay Attention

During the diocese’s concentration upon the consecrated life open house Sunday at the Center for Pastoral Leadership seminary in Wickliffe, Ohio, I decided to videotape this sister’s lecture, testing for the first time my new camera’s video capabilities. I spoke with the sister, impressed with her disposition and words. Unfortunately, the battery for my camera ran out, and like a dummy I forgot to pack the second one still charging at home. The entire lecture was as good as this clip. I love the sister’s focus upon attention. Paying attention to the details of life, aware within the moment, is a powerful prayer discipline.  The effort the nun puts forth is a spiritual exercise able to strengthen one’s prayer life.  Observing with an open heart and mind, the process eliminates imagination, fantasy, manipulating, plotting and scheming as a way of life. Thoughts are corralled and kept in line with the Creator by lovingly tending to the environment surrounding.  Wandering thoughts, memorized words, self-centered petitions, prideful ambitions, distracting sloth, negative dispositions are all usurped by attentive perception.  The senses are acute and utilized to perceive the beauty and wonder of creation, the splendor of God displayed.

I think of a commanding story I read once. An artist friend, a spiritual free thinker, an intellectual centered within what I consider sixties hippie thought insisted I read the book ‘The Wind is My Mother’. The man is an incredibly kind and loving individual, always a pleasure to encounter. He is quite an expert at playing penny whistles, fifes, and wooden flutes he carves himself. He would not stop praising the book, challenging me to read it. I could not let him down, and once I finished the book I admitted it was one of the most incredible books I ever read. The author of the book, Bear Heart, is a Native American Shaman, an amazing man who embraced not only the traditional spiritual and healing arts of his ancestors, yet he expanded to excel as a university student, earning honors as he graduated with a doctorate in psychology.

Within his autobiography, Bear Heart told a story from his days in the United States military. He was being interviewed for a prestigious officer position. Many candidates were interviewed. When Bear Heart sat down before the interviewing officer, the officer surprised him. He proclaimed he was going to ask him one question. The same question he asked all of those being interviewed. The officer said: “You just waited over an hour in the lobby to be interviewed. I want you to describe to me the details of the lobby. Tell me what you saw out there while you were waiting”. Bear Heart preceded to describe the lobby down to the minutest detail. Wide eyed, the officer was stunned, proclaiming that the other candidates at best could only come up with vague descriptions, futile efforts to describe detail they were not clear about. The other candidates were so consumed with the interview; possibilities, projections, speculation, their imagination dominating their state of being. They were so consumed with the future they paid no attention to the moment. Bear Heart, through his extensive spiritual training, allowed the interview to wait until its proper time, trusting and confident, absorbed within the moment of waiting in the lobby, noticing and aware of all that surrounded him. It is a wonderful lesson.

Before the Eucharist, our mind should be so disciplined. Focused, centered within the moment.  We give all of our attention to the Lord, pleading with the Lord to gaze upon us, supplying wisdom, intoning the Holy Spirit to shower gifts, acknowledging Our Holy Mother as the dispenser of grace to be bountiful in her efforts, loving in her placement. Our attention is absorbed singularly in adoration.

Of course the mind will wander. My mind just wandered. I am going to follow it, allowing it to explore. I thought of the ending of the first movie in the Apu trilogy, ‘Pather Pancali’. I posted a video clip from the movie the other day. Consider the ending, I found it splendid, evoking spiritual charm.  Young Apu admiringly loved his older sister Darju, his only sibling.  Darju, impoverished, reduced to meager clothing and accessories, still dreamed of beauty, fascinated in one scene by the fanciful wedding gown of a young Indian bride. The scene I posted Darju is applying eyeliner before dotting her brow with a cosmetic third eye, captivated by the possibility of being an alluring beauty. There is a neighbor girl whose family is antagonistic toward Darju, always claiming she is stealing fruit from the orchard, branding her a thief to the community. The orchard once belonged to her family, however the irresponsible deeds of an uncle cost the entire family ownership. One afternoon, the neighboring family appears enraged with accusations that the thief Darju had gone too far by stealing a beaded bracelet. Crying, the neighbor girl insisted she knew it was Darju because Darju could not put the necklace down, hypnotized when she held it. The girl’s mother roared with threats and incriminations. Confronted, Darju vehemently denied the theft, going to great lengths to proclaim her innocence. The event passed, time transpired. In the end of the movie, Darju becomes critically ill with a fever. During a dramatic storm scene, all nature in an uproar, the young girl passes away. Apu is shattered by the loss of his sister. Rummaging through her room, lost in melancholy, Apu finds buried in her things the beaded bracelet. Tears fall. Within the tremendous love of his sister he confronts the reality she was a thief and a liar. Crying, he runs outdoors, throwing the bracelet into the swamp water. In an amazing scene, the bracelet sinks below the surface of the water, the plant growth covering the water is burst open as the bracelet splashes into the water. The films holds the striking moment in a fascinating cinematic effort as the plant growth reforms into an unbroken covering. The splash of the bracelet is made nonexistent. Within the consuming love for his sister, Apu accepts her imperfections and weaknesses. He protects her.  No one else will know of her misdeed.  Love is the only thing he will allow to embrace the remembrance of his sister.

The short lecture clip Pay Attention.



Looking in the mirror and seeing Christ

“Now knowledge of self must be seasoned with knowledge of Me (God), lest it bring the soul to confusion.  For self-knowledge would cause the soul to hate its own sensitive pleasure and the delight of its own consolations. But from this hatred, founded in humility, it will draw patience.  With patience it will become strong against the attacks of the devil, against the persecutions of man, and towards me, when, for its good, I withdraw delight from its mind.  –Catherine of Siena ‘Little Talks With God’

I admire the distinguishing of the two levels of self-knowledge detailed in ‘The Book of Privy Counseling’.  The utilitarian salvific level is the recognition of one’s sinful nature.  I am a creature drawn toward pleasures and tendencies that will destroy eternally.  Original sin is a fact of my birth.  Compounding original sin is my upbringing in a world immersed within sin and worldly delights.  Many things I want and desire I must reject.  My thoughts must be kept holy, disciplined and focused through the sacraments, prayer, and the living of a healthy joyful life.  Grace builds upon nature.  I must seek that which is good for the devil is a roaring lion seeking to devour souls.  Daily, moment by moment, a conscious effort must be made through the awareness of my sinful nature to live a holy life.  I know and accept my limitations. I am at peace with my imperfections and weaknesses.  Delusion, imagination, fantasies, false aspirations are acknowledged as childish, a lesser way.  I live in a world of Christian reality.  Yet the contemplative level of self-knowledge magnifies the awareness of myself, transcends myself, when my heart and being goes out to the Lord in silence and stillness.  Strengthening myself daily through Eucharistic adoration, simply being with Christ, asking him day to day who are You?  And who am I?–As Pope Francis says when I allow the gaze of Christ to rest upon me daily, a greater self-knowledge is nurtured.  My self-knowledge is now founded NOT upon my frailties, misdeeds, and failures.  It is not founded upon reason and rationalizing.  Mentally and vocally, I do not identify myself as nothing more than a sinner, or an alcoholic.  That is the yearning of Satan.  The passionate evil one relishes in sin to the highest and most destructive degree.  Satan lustfully desires that I become so absorbed in sin, so miserable in self-hate, that all I can focus upon is myself.  The Divine Mercy of God is the ultimate disgust and affront to the hater of man.  The compassionate tender heart of Jesus to sacrifice himself for man is beyond Satan’s reality.  Advancing upon the contemplative path, my self-knowledge humbly builds upon the magnificence of a loving and merciful God, an unknowable omnipotent creator effusing a love so intense I can only quiet and glorify with, through, and in His mercy and love.  In the process, as St Francis de Sales so strongly urges, I develop the virtue of patience–patience with myself, learning to love and accept myself  I am not a mistake.  God loves me.




Lachrymose refrain, the counting of teardrops within the rain.
No reason, no method, the abandoning of madness.
Wrestling angels, thwarting myself, forgiving others,
Isolating alone with God, predestination, understanding.
Nothing at all, nothing, empty, eyes staring, heart blaring.
The Eucharist remains, standing aright, lofty and intense.
Above, through storytelling colorful stained glass,
Beaming, passing prayers of a cloistered chapel,
The sun penetrates within.


The Fortifying of those called to a deeper way

Whoever seeks to approach the eternal truth and fountain of all light must know himself thoroughly. He must not imitate the pride (self-consciousness and insecurity) of those who obtain no other knowledge than what their sins (brokenness and imperfection, passed through generations, not just immorality) provide, and who begin to open their eyes only when they are plunged into some disgraceful and unforeseen debacle (free will usurping Divine Will). This happens through God’s permission that they may know their own weakness, and, by sad experience, learn not to rely on their own strength. God seldom applies so severe a remedy against their presumption unless more proper means have failed.

Briefly, He permits persons to sin more or less grievously in proportion to their pride, and, if there were any as free from pride as the Blessed Virgin (able to propitiously transcend personal desires and identity—aware and knowing herself, she remained hidden within her life, glorying in God as a contemplative), I dare say they would never fall. As often as you commit a fault, therefore, immediately strive to probe your inner consciousness; earnestly beg Our Lord to enlighten you, that you may see yourself as you are in His sight, and presume no more on your strength. Otherwise you will fall again into the same faults, or perhaps much greater ones to the eternal ruin of your soul. –‘The Spiritual Combat’ Dom Lorenzo Scupoli

Spiritual Combat