Monthly Archives: September 2015

Mature abandonment


Like magnanimity, this attitude of hope takes on a particular coloring in the contemplative life through the influence of the gift of the Holy Spirit: it turns into confidence. A contemplative does not hope for God’s help as if God were merely an omnipotent benefactor.  Our Lord has already shown himself to be a friend, he has given tokens of his friendship.  Hence, the contemplative’s hope is an attitude of confidence in a friend who has already proven himself. 

This sort of confidence develops into what is called abandonment.  Hope is not merely a strong desire; it must also include a firm trending toward a goal.  God is the goal of theological hope, which is the virtue of one who knows that what he wants is hard to attain, and who expects the help of one stronger than he in order to surmount the difficulty…The gifts of the Holy Spirit add to hope a delicate note of waiting on God.  Having put our trust in Him, we await his moment.  This form of hope, less active in character than the more ordinary form, is what is called abandonment.  –Father Thomas Philippe ‘The Contemplative Life’

The road narrows the further I go along the spiritual path.  Those are vital words.  Father Thomas Philippe‘s writing, revealed at Assumption Abbey, is important for me at this precise time.  St Teresa of Avila is fond of emphasizing in her writing that what is to follows is very important.  The mature idea of abandonment, complex yet truly a reduction to simplicity—a childlike approach to faith usurping the mind of an adult—must become a disposition, an imprint of the Holy Spirit.  It is important to surrender to abandonment within the virtue of profound hope.  Jesus I trust in You!  As an established contemplative, I am not manipulating the spiritual life, becoming more complex and bewildering to others.  I am not anxiety ridden, fearful, making pronouncements of grace received, pushing agendas, proclaiming truths, rallying around controversial issues, declaring war upon others, receding into depression and mental illness—all while identifying my hopes and desires as the will of God.  I learn to repose; sitting still and quiet, before the Lord, allowing His gaze to alight upon my life.  I do not utilize my devotion to the spiritual life as a means capable of clever rationalization and manipulation.  The contemplative life does not provide me with a method of subtly undermining reality, a way to see myself as a humble victim and unsung hero in situations and confrontations.  I recall Susan Muto stressing the absurdity of an obstinate approach to the spiritual life, active ways of overthinking and meddling producing stagnancy and melancholy, inevitably producing darkness within one’s life.  To declare that darkness as Divine Will is sheer foolishness.  To relate that darkness to the Dark Night of the Soul identified by St John of the Cross is a perversion.  The road truly narrows.

Sisters llamas 3


Courage to trust moment by moment

We would like to create unity in our lives, but if we attempt this too grossly and humanly, we expose ourselves to failure.  The only unity possible here on earth is the profound unity deriving from our effort to remain constantly under the movement of the Holy Spirit–that is, to live in the present moment, conformed to God’s good pleasure.

The more our contemplative life develops, the more we find ourselves passing from moments of light and intimacy with God to terrible moments in which there is nothing but faith to hang onto.  The farther we advance, the more the half-tones disappear, giving place to painful alterations between life and death, heat and cold.  It may be that we have never felt our hearts so cold since entering religious life.  Perhaps there will even be moments when we think that we scarcely have any faith left.  –Father Thomas Philippe ‘The Contemplative Life’


Courage within discernment

Interesting opportunities arise with new employment, the potential for a stellar career properly presenting itself. It will take two years, yet an hourly rate of thirty-three dollars is placed upon my plate. Humbly, through the eyes of a determined contemplative, I am impressed with the wonders of God. He delivers a mature discernment process. To pursue the path of a professional career as an engineering technician will demand a commitment on the level of a graduate student. My skills and experience are aligned, however further knowledge and precision detailing the specifics of the die casting world is demanded. The money will not be given to me. I will have to earn it. The new employer promotes a professional culture I am convinced I can thrive within. During this six month discernment process, I will apply myself full throttle forward in pursuit of the engineering tech position. The worldly position makes me long for a partner in life, not being emotional, yet convinced God is a creator of order. Man is at his best in the world when accompanied with the splendor of a woman. However in human application, the condition of husband and wife is complicated, and I am convinced rarely achieved to maximum efficiency. Still lesser efficiencies are vital to a man living in the world. Conditions at home, a wife and children, allow a man to prosper easier in the world. Simply through the fact of responsibility and accountability, it forces a man into maturity. He becomes a provider and protector, aspiring to the life St Joseph tendered for Mary and Jesus. That role in life, father and husband, itself is spiritually demanding, providing maturity. Through misadventures and adventures and absolutely centered in love, it is a path for a man to become whole in the eyes of God, even if that wholeness comes through humiliation, disappointments, pain, and unfulfilled dreams. Honestly is that not the reality of all spiritual paths for men. There is no path allowing a self-glorifying flowering parade of wonder toward God. It is toil and drudgery. And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Within that realization, I consider the prospect of a wife, reflecting and depressed through personal experience. I lack comprehension regarding the knowledge of a supportive woman, one able to nurture and expand my horizons. The thought of a wife, one able to bring out my strengths, allowing worldly and spiritual expansion seems impossible. I ponder my past, understanding, rejecting remorse, praying for fertile soil for a new beginning, that the women of my life never possessed the ability to nurture my manhood in a Godly manner, I think of it in terms of a Catholic intent. I have been subjected not to evil, yet broken women forced through personal failings to impose undermining and domination as a means of caring for men. It all started with my mother. With no sorrow, within love, I recognize the fact. Concretizing self-knowledge, I know a disposition was firmly entrenched. Through my own failings and upbringings, I was never able to be a man able to present myself as a strong protector and provider, thus a woman owning a nurturing disposition able to produce manhood and maturity never appeared within my scope of vision. Alone, discerning the religious life or a professional life, I open myself to God, pleading in prayer to reveal realities. Lord, the worldly life being what it is, I humbly ask you to provide a woman who will see my strengths, believe in me as a good man of God and nurture me. I cannot take hurtful women anymore, those undermining and constantly throwing punches at my head–no more discomfort and pain from the women in my life. I know I am man enough, good in heart, loving you All-Mighty Lord with mind, body, and soul. Please Lord teach me what is good through the pursuit of excellence within my manhood, open my life to a woman of maturity in spirit, one exercising temperance in control and will-power, trusting in Your will through the bolstering of my pride and manhood, acquiescing to dominating in order to caress and fortify through womanly love. Through weakness true strength emerges, Lord I am weak, teach me to be strong, provide a woman who knows how to be weak.

The following was taken from the Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish bulletin. Driving with Mary after mass, she handed it to me and said read this it is good. It is a reflection upon strength and courage.

Strength vs Courage

It takes strength to be firm.
It takes courage to be gentle.

It takes strength to stand guard.
It takes courage to let down your guard.

It takes strength to conquer.
It takes courage to surrender.

It takes strength to be certain.
It takes courage to have doubt.

It takes strength to fit in.
It takes courage to stand out.

It takes strength to feel a friend’s pain.
It takes courage to feel your own pain.

It takes strength to hid your own pains.
It takes courage to show them.

It takes strength to endure abuse.
It takes courage to stop it.

It takes strength to stand alone.
It takes courage to lean on another.

It takes strength to love.
It takes courage to be loved.

It takes strength to survive.
It takes courage to LIVE! “


Let the sunshine in

When God leaves us to our own poor efforts, we are obliged to have endless recourse to new considerations in order to keep up our prayer and quicken our love.  We feel constrained to vary the subjects of our meditation, to have recourse to new thoughts, to pass continually from knowledge to love and from love to knowledge, from considerations to affections, from words to fleeing moments of quiet and silence.  We cannot dwell in the sweet repose of the Beloved.  We cannot linger long in the heaven of infinite Love; we must always return to the land of faith.  It would even be more exact to say that, left to ourselves, all we can do is lift our eyes to the blessed kingdom of peace and of silence, and desire it ardently.  And even the desires, the first aspirations toward that divine prayer, the first calls coming from presentiments that are still very secret, are already fruits of the Holy Spirit who, from afar, puts souls on the way toward the mysterious dwellings.  Thence come these oscillations, those reflections, those crude supports that our characteristics of our poor prayer when the Holy Spirit leaves to our human way, so utterly disproportionate to an exercise so divine. 

But once God opens the flood-gates of heaven and kindles in us a burning fire, a great flame, we have only to let ourselves be submerged and inflamed, led on to ever new heights and depths.  At those summits where grace envelopes and pervades us totally, let us allow ourselves to be carried constantly along, even more and more profoundly, by the Spirit of Love.  Father Thomas Philippe ‘The Fire of Contemplation’DSC_0120 (2)


Sorrowful Mother daytrip

Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there is disorder and every foul practice.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure,
then peaceable, gentle, compliant,
full of mercy and good fruits,
without inconstancy or insincerity.
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace
for those who cultivate peace.
Where do the wars
and where do the conflicts among you come from?
Is it not from your passions
that make war within your members?
You covet but do not possess.
You kill and envy but you cannot obtain;
you fight and wage war.
You do not possess because you do not ask.
You ask but do not receive,
because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

Epistle of St James Chapter 3

The scriptural readings from mass today torched with relevancy, burning from the inside out. I experienced a horrible night of dreams, ridiculous in severity, troubling in despondency. Then mass came. I am alternating Sundays regarding the purchasing of donuts with lawyer Jim. This was my week. It felt wonderful, healing, to be able to give. Then before mass a strange encounter built upon a similar experience the previous day, both arising from activity at St Paschal Baylon. Today, Jim Nagle cornered me coming out of the gift shop at St Paul Shrine, penetrating with eye contact, determined I was to understand the conversation with him this morning was important, an opening. I knew I had to be fully present, maintaining eye contact, allowing him to enter my soul.  I am not fearful of others.  I have nothing to hide, nor am I competitive to the point of needing to shelter in order to preserve delusion.  I accept profoundly who I am.  Jim told me the gentleman I spoke to the previous day, a man I perceived as an extremely obese man, arrogant due to a group encounter through the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, was in truth a medical doctor, an obstetrician, now specializing as a medical school educator. Oddly yesterday, demonstrating my insecure and defensive nature, I entered Saturday mass, internally debating the doctor I only thought of as a presumptuous fat man, arguing several issues with the perceived enemy, thoughts lingering from our group encounter the other night. The man was stuck in my head. I am that way. It humbles. Leaving mass, there the large man was in the lobby with his mother. His mother is handicapped, struggling along with a walker. The two it seems are always together. His mother radiates holiness. I easily gravitate toward her warmth. The man called me over, cordial to a surprising degree, friendly beyond belief, wanting to no more about me, sincerely interested in me. The man’s demeanor, politeness, intelligence, honesty and openness disarmed me, making a large part of me embarrassed, actually desiring to cry. I had worked myself up in private internal argument with him earlier in the morning.  Now I was wondering how in the world I was now engaged in such an intimate conversation with him. He stressed a name Myron Shibley, a name Ann tossed about, speaking about so many things. Then today Jim absolutely confronted me, informing me he desired a friendship with me, wanting to spend time with me, speaking about book clubs, conducting musicals, Bishop Fulton Sheen, creative writing efforts, Catholic off-Broadway plays, again Myron Shibley, religious organizations, people wanting to know more about me. He apologized he could not go with me and Mary. I invited Mary to the Sorrowful Mother Shrine, telling her to invite whoever she pleased.  She invited Jimbo as she calls him. Jim stressed he wanted to do things with Mary and I, however he could not this day. I felt touched, authentically startled, promising him I also desired fellowship, mature Catholic companionship. The idea struck me, that soon God would provide artistic support, asking me to expose my writing. Everything humbled to an overwhelming degree. Enough, I need to read. Today was another blessed day with Mary. She is truly a holy woman, someone who is a profoundly a spiritual partner, a woman enduring upon a higher spiritual level. She makes me smile though she does not know it. Last night, I missed a call, picking up to listen to two strange voice mails from her, messages that left me laughing deeply, spiritually relieved. Somehow within the extended crazy Mary messages, she raised her voice, declaratively asserting herself, strongly making the point that she was fed up with the ATT woman putting her nose into her business, constantly interrupting her phone calls. She had enough and would no longer tolerate the ATT woman bothering her. Mary was almost screaming, convinced she was speaking to the ATT woman and not my voicemail.  She firmly stated that everything had to come to a conclusion. The telephone woman must stop with her intrusions. I am not sure what she is doing, however she gets confused with technology, no computer experience whatsoever, convinced a lady from ATT is resolved upon infringing upon her life, harassing her simply for the fun of it. I think she is waging war upon a recording. 🙂 Saints come in all shapes and sizes.


Living Flame of Love

Oh, living flame of love that tenderly woundest my soul in its deepest centre,
Since thou art no longer oppressive, perfect me now if it be thy will, break the web of this sweet encounter.

Oh, sweet burn! Oh, delectable wound! Oh, soft hand! Oh, delicate touch,
That savors of eternal life and pays every debt! In slaying, thou hast changed death into life.

Oh, lamps of fire, in whose splendours the deep caverns of sense which were dark and blind,
With strange brightness give heat and light together to their Beloved!

How gently and lovingly thou awakest in my bosom, where thou dwellest secretly and alone!
And in thy sweet breathing, full of blessing and glory, how delicate thou inspirest my love!

St John of the Cross ‘Living Flame of Love’

St John of the Cross. Euclid, Ohio.

St John of the Cross. Euclid, Ohio.


Reading time

My reading time is increasing, mounting to a point of purpose within direction and yet allowing a wandering in curious attention.  Tonight I spend the night reading, comfortable in relaxing.  Father Thomas Philippe is emerging as a profound influencing thinker, presenting a unique man in living.  I am impressed how he finely knits together the Eucharist, the source and summit of Catholic faith, with the contemplative life.  I spent the day with my Filipino friend Mary, becoming a fixture, profound in conversation, a spirituality and prayer life able to match in dedication and maturity.  We paid a visit to my friend Jan Marie and her lovely Catholic bookstore, coming across prizes in her used book section, her Holy bartering offering.  I picked up ‘Spiritual Direction and Spiritual Directors’ a book focusing upon St Francis de Sales, St Teresa of Avila, Thomas Kempis, and St John of the Cross, authored by Joseph Paul Kozlowski, focusing upon the saints guidance rendered for others.  Also a neat paperback published in 1962, St John of the Cross’ ‘Living Flame of Love’, one of his last poems—many feel his most developed writing, the finest of a veritable smorgasbord of fruit from his mature spirituality.  Thirdly, a brand new book from Sophia press, a spiritual meditation contribution from St Francis de Sales ‘Roses Among Thorns’.  And finally a book chosen upon instinct: ‘The Desert and the Rose: the Spirituality of Jeanne Jugan’.  St Jeanna Jugan founded the Little Sisters of the Poor, a community specialized in elderly care.  I choose the book based upon the cover and the title, relating maters to Charles de Foucauld’s desert excursions, while learning in reality it has nothing to do with desert wanderings, the title utilizing the idea of a desert aesthetically.  Speaking of Foucauld, I must post a detailing of his younger years.  I am convinced an obsessive personality is an admirable personality trait for an individual striving beyond mediocrity in the spiritual life.  The willingness and courage to be different is a useful trait for one possessing a higher calling.  I do love to laugh, and the stories of Charles de Foucauld in his youth I find hilarious.  Photographs of Foucauld bring such joy to my heart, as he reminds me precisely of a Lebanese gentleman friend from Toledo, one Mr. Jim Saad.  They could be brothers.  One it comes to being a quirky holy character few can reach the heights of Mr Saad.  I am convinced Charles de Foucauld was of the same nature.

Foucauld had by now become so corpulent that he was nicknamed ‘Piggy’….Legends grew up around Foucauld’s extravagance and disregard for authority…There was the time when, confined to quarters for various dismeanours, Foucauld escaped in disguise to attend a party but on stopping at a restaurant for a snack was arrested as a spy when his false beard came unglued over the soup.  He was placed under arrest for fifteen days.  While serving his sentence, he absconded yet again, this time wandering the countryside as a tramp, begging food from nearby farms.  He was caught several days later when he jumped from a bridge onto a passing train.  His gluttony was prodigious.  He was fond of saying, ‘he who discovers a new dish does more for humanity than he who discovers a new star.’  In pursuit of this philosophy, he became fatter and fatter.  He had his coaches lowered so that he did not have to climb their steps, and on visits home he impressed his relatives with his appetite.  One cousin remembered that ‘I was terrified if I saw Charles moving towards the children’s table, for in a few seconds he invariably gobbled up all the cakes which had been set aside for us.’  –Fergus Fleming ‘The Sword and the Cross’.

Charles de Foucauld

Charles de Foucauld