Monthly Archives: November 2015

Advent: a time of acquiring gifts

The natural life of Christ
Unadulterated, radiating pure
On in to transcendence
A solitary life lived, a solitary death endured
Beyond the sublime image and likeness
Through a simple birth mystical
Unknown secrets whispered into the soul
Angels appearing, prophecy portending, never hearing
The gifts of wonder blessed upon the earth
No need any more to consummate follies
Emptiness illuminating, lacking prevailing, longing eternal
A presence expands, shining forth,
Unafraid of death, loving life, fearing the Lord

The necessity of the gifts of the Holy Ghost…springs from the imperfect mode of even lofty Christian virtues in our souls. Consequently the more the soul advances toward perfection, the more the gifts must intervene; so much so indeed that their superhuman mode must end by prevailing, in an order superior not only to the processes of casuistry, but also to those of asceticism and to methods of prayer. This is the very foundation of our doctrine.

St Thomas teaches that the gifts of the Holy Ghost are necessary to salvation. “Of all the gifts,” he says, “wisdom seems to be the highest, and fear the lowest. Each of these is necessary to salvation: since of wisdom it is written: ‘God loveth none but him that dwelleth with wisdom’ (Wisdom 7:28): and of fear: ‘He that is without fear cannot be justified’ (Eccles 1:28). Because our Lord knew the profound needs of our souls, He promised us to the Holy Ghost, from whom we have received the sevenfold gift. –Father Reginald Garrigou Lagrange ‘Christian Perfection and Contemplation According to St Thomas Aquinas and St John of the Cross’



Start of Advent

The start of Advent, a time of preparation for the birth of Jesus, a new year for the Church. An interesting moment occurred after mass today, actually after adoration, quiet prayerful time before the Eucharist. First words about the social gathering after mass, the drinking of coffee amidst others. Carrie is centered in my focus. I can feel she is chaotic, spent, energy dissipated in dealing with her husband’s critical cancer, the accepting of the fact he will not get better. She is dealing with a massive overload of emotion as well as worldly demands. I sense extreme anger within her, channeling rage upon medical authorities and personnel caring for her husband. Today fixated upon the fact ‘they’ over hydrated him, causing extreme swelling in his arms and legs. I say nothing, keeping my distance, being fully present for her when she turns her attention to me. I know every move she is making when she is near. I want to bring comfort, yet I trust in God. During the coffee drinking, Ramona and her dignified son joined myself and a character I would like to comment upon. Ramona is another I am focused upon, still defining, allowing the fact I perceive something of worth in her spiritually. I am intrigued that in searching she is absolutely convinced St Paul Shrine is her spiritual home. I am hoping she will comprehend the presence of the Eucharist more, sitting before it in stillness and quiet, allowing her solitary life to be gazed upon by the Lord. God has called her to St Paul Shrine and she heard the call. It is immense. The character completing the coffee drinking assembly, a retired school teacher overwhelmed me with knowledge, supplying acute understanding of history, linguistics, anthropology, and most pleasing to myself stories of Cleveland history, millionaires row the wonders of Cleveland during the turn of the century. Awe-inspiring, highly-intelligent, insistent upon making an impression with his worldly acumen, I found him a bit tiresome after mass, desperate in his need to impress others.  He concretely allowed me to identify what my spiritual life is not. I am a simple man of prayer, nothing more and nothing less.  I cannot dazzle the world.  The poem from my sister-in-law became relevant. Walking into adoration, silence before the Eucharist, I passed the man amazing Father Roger with his knowledge of African languages, barraging the priest with his brilliant personality. I cherished the presence of the man, marveling at his generation, his taking me through the nineteenth century and his personal history including starting college in 1958 at Kent State University in Akron, Ohio. The incident I found most insightful occurred after mass. I exited the church, placing my hat upon my head, discovering Carrie decorating the Giving Tree, a Christmas tree St Paul Shrine sets up for gathering gifts for needy children. It is a project Carrie and her husband Roger take charge of.  Instantly, I knew God blessed me with alone time with Carrie. I knew what I wanted to stress to her. She began rambling, talking all over the place, telling me how spread out she felt, unable to find time to pay her bills, time for nothing. She was unable to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. She felt guilty for not being with her husband. She expressed anger when I mentioned a friend’s name who visited with her husband, explaining to me Roger does not want visitors. He is in good spirits, yet not desiring company. She was upset this man conducted the effort to find out what hospital Roger is in and took it upon himself to visit. She stressed she would let people know when he wanted to receive visitors. She is a woman prone to anger. I felt great anxiety within her. My words flowed, stressing she needed to tend to herself, being a caregiver was difficult. She had to establish daily alone time, quiet and prayer, gathering and strengthening herself. If she was chaotic around her husband, he would sense it, trying to comfort her. I told her passionately that she must pray, open herself to God, to strengthen herself so she can bring strength to her husband. There was so much more I wanted to say. She cut my words short, agreeing with them, authentically acknowledging she must concentrate upon her prayer life.  I wanted to leave her to quietness, with the potential for revealing God, so I commented how beautiful the Giving Tree looked.

I am short on time, ending now with a poem that sprang to life during mass.

Three arrivals,
Physical presence,
Complete in perfection,
A circling in formation,
As it was in the beginning,
It is now,
And will be forever,

A baby is born,
A solitary life,
Into poverty,
The little town of Bethlehem,
New life,

The Eucharist,
Quiet and still,
Hidden amidst the turmoil,
Desperate and loud,
Standing proud,

An ending,
A wound mending,
The end of the world,
Cessation in coming,
The completion of all that is good,
Not knowing,
Finality on into eternity,


Beyond the natural through the natural

I read this poem, or writing, whatever it is, hung upon the wall of my brother’s home. His wife, a lifelong Catholic, now devout, told me she purchased the poem during her twenties, during a difficult time of her life. She was a young lady exploring life in the eighties, drinking and drugging a lot, living the fast life with her first husband, a wealthy man consumed with the boating life upon Lake Erie, partying at Put-in-Bay and other hotspots on the waters of the Great Lakes. The man would divorce her after two daughters, leaving her for a younger woman. She continued drinking, yet raised two stellar daughters alone. She has been sober now, I believe, going on ten years. The poem remained with her, always seeming important. During the time of the purchase it proved antagonistic, a retort to her self-consumed egotistical husband. Now, she adores the simplicity, as she says, the realistic impression that in a world of free will, the life of Christ was truly the only way for God to make a lasting impression. The natural life of Jesus established the supernatural reality of salvation. The supernatural clings to the natural life of Jesus. A mystic at heart must absorb himself in the simplicity, humility, and detachment within the life loving example of Jesus. I like the apophatic nature of the poem, the defining of Jesus through what he is not: ‘He never…’ On the natural level, there are so many things Jesus never did.  Within the supernatural, he did everything.

A Solitary Life

James A. Francis

Let us turn now to the story.
A child is born in an obscure village.
He is born to a peasant woman.
He is brought up in another obscure village.
He works in a carpenter shop until he is thirty,
And then for three brief years is an itinerant preacher,
Proclaiming a message and living a life.

He never writes a book.
He never holds an office.
He never raises an army.
He never has a family of his own.
He never owns a home.
He never goes to college.
He never travels two hundred miles from the place where he was born.

He gathers a little group of friends about him and teaches them his way of life.

While still a young man, the tide of popular feeling turns against him.
One denies him;
Another betrays him.
He is turned over to his enemies.
He goes through the mockery of a trial;
He is nailed to a cross between two thieves,
And when dead is laid in a borrowed grave by the kindness of a friend.
Those are the facts of His human life.

He rises from the dead.

Today we look back across nineteen hundred years and ask,
What kind of trail has he left across the centuries?
When we try to sum up his influence,
All the armies that ever marched,
All the parliaments that ever sat,
All the kings that ever reigned
All are absolutely picayune in their influence on mankind
Compared with that of this one solitary life….


Living Flame of Love

It is very important to know that St John of the Cross had brought together his Collected Works in their written form after he, by the grace and love of God, had attained to the highest spiritual state of perfection possible here on earth, referred to variously as “The Spiritual Union of Love”, or the spiritual state of Mystical Theology (Secret Wisdom, Secret Understanding, or Secret Knowledge of God).  It is termed “Secret” because it is experienced without knowing it.  St John of the Cross affirmed that if anyone were to go through the experience, and were asked to describe it, such a person would be compelled to say as he did, “I don’t know what it is.”  –‘Spiritual Direction Spiritual Directors: St Francis de Sales, St Teresa of Avila, Thomas Kempis, and St John of the Cross’.  Joseph Paul Kozlowski

The Living Flame Of Love

St John of the Cross

O living flame of love
that tenderly wounds my soul
in its deepest center! Since
now you are not oppressive,
now consummate! if it be your will:
tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!

O sweet cautery,
O delightful wound!
O gentle hand! O delicate touch
that tastes of eternal life
and pays every debt!
In killing you changed death to life.

O lamps of fire!
in whose splendors
the deep caverns of feeling,
once obscure and blind,
now give forth, so rarely, so exquisitely,
both warmth and light to their Beloved.

How gently and lovingly
you wake in my heart,
where in secret you dwell alone;
and in your sweet breathing,
filled with good and glory,
how tenderly you swell my heart with love.

Something coalesces within everything happening to me right now demanding absolute acquiescing to mystery, vulnerability, and the presence of God actively working upon me.  I am awestruck by the look of dementia patients when they stare deeply into my eyes.  Their bewilderment with their surroundings, their helplessness, their lack of understanding, all within in a sense of peace, a grace, an awareness beyond understanding.  Last night after observing the woman peacefully asleep, being told she is hours away from passing, at the most days, knowing she was consumed with cancer, suffering from severe dementia, I found her beautiful, a veil of splendor adorning her space.  Her white hair, thinned, sparsely populating her skull appeared refined, immaculately clean.  I wanted to brush her hair, to more than bring comfort to her, to be with her and experience the grace she was receiving.  Her life had culminated into a helpless, indescribable, and unsharable state of receiving.  She was a broken vessel being filled.  There was no sign of pain.  Within a horrible physical condition, she seemed absolutely absorbed within grace.  It reminds me of when I was younger my fascination with the eyes of babies, staring into their eyes every chance I could, just holding their gaze, wondering the state of their thoughts and mind.  I remember a Marvel comic book I read when younger, I think it was the X-men or something similar.  A superhero woman possessed the power to read minds, transposing herself into the minds of others.  A fellow superhero playfully asked her to enter the mind of her infant child, to experience the mind of the baby and tell everyone what it was like. The superhero woman transferred her consciousness to the baby’s and after bringing herself back to her adult superhero body she broke into tears.  Those gathered around her demanded to know what happen.  Amidst tears the woman stammered, ‘Don’t make me talk.  Please do not make me talk.  Everyone go away, leave me alone.  I cannot do that again.  It was too wonderful.  It hurt.’  Last night, when I awoke from my Rosary, finding the woman who I assumed would never open her eyes, staring at me I felt dumbfounded, only able to apologize to her for falling asleep while praying for her, self-consciously worried about snoring for I knew I fell deeply into sleep.  She simply stared, observing a stranger sitting next to her bed.  I have no idea or speculation what her thoughts were, or whether I could even comprehend her state of consciousness.  Grace appeared to hold her captive, spellbound, and beyond understanding.  I love the St John of the Cross poem, a poem from his final years, the fruition and completion of his vocation as a Carmelite priest.  It seems accurately descriptive, poetically embracing the unknown.  I think it is important to keep in mind that beyond the superhero reputation he now possesses as a mystical saint the huge pesona does an injustice to his reality as a natural man.  He was a diminutive man, small in stature, a man of unremarkable appearance, one who went unnoticed.  His life was a hidden life for the most part.  He drew as little attention to himself as he could.  St Teresa of Avila and others placed him in prominent positions amidst monasteries and the Carmelite order, going against his tendency to disappear into anonymity, seeking the companionship of those who abhorred him.  His final years may have been his most favorable for they were spent with a religious authority who did not like him, perceiving him as arrogant.  It was the years of the inquisition, an intense time of spiritual scrutiny, heresy, or better still others determining you spiritual ways were heretical, brought torture and death.  St John of the Cross welcomed the scrutiny over praise.

O living flame of love, that tenderly wounds my soul in its deepest center!  The line is powerful, apropos for several other things coalescing, coming together without my approval or effort.  One is my complete absorption in mass: that tenderly wounds my soul in its deepest center!  My experience in mass is best left alone, bonding with the Poor Clares apart, receiving the Eucharist within a spiritual home, has become all absorbing—nothing else matters during mass, I am consumed, yet within exists a serious negativity.  Mass makes everything else seem inconsequential, life appears as a joke, a hilarious illusion, unessential and to be toyed with.  Yet that is a dangerous and false interpretation, a serious error waiting to be inflicted upon my natural life, a source of drinking in years past.  Then the reappearance of Ann in my life comes into play.  It is the very thing she attacks, losing myself to the spiritual.  I am so overwhelmed by her I absolutely become rendered to frustration and helplessness; consumed with passion (positive/negative), emotion (love/hate), and an absolute conviction we belong together.  It is so hurtful, and it is not codependent as she insist upon defining it.  I just want to scream at her, to do something dramatic, to hold her…  It is awful and horrible.  I pray God would just make her disappear.  I would love to walk away from her, to abandon everything about her.  Nothing would make me happier than to spit in her face and tell her to fuck off, to hurt her deeply and be done with everything, yet I cannot do it. I know I should not, and that God wants me to continue to come at her, to continue to be frustrated and dumbfounded by her ways.  There is something deeply divine in my helplessness before her.  All she has to do is speak and I am made obedient.  I hate it.  I hoped with all my heart Ramona would save me from her, however our intelligent and insightful conversation on the state of both of our lives clearly demonstrates that an intimate relationship is not ethically feasible.  Ramona and I can share spiritual fellowship, yet respect and distance must be applied in regards to male/female properness.  She will not serve as an escape from Ann, and it was disrespectful to selfishly place her in such a position.  My overwhelming desire to be rid of Ann is not a proper start to a relationship with another woman.  Ramona has her own story, her own unique life with its private and precious wonders and woes.  She is a married woman of depth and must be prayed for, allowed to find her own peace, to be assisted in her struggle forward in pursuit of God without further complications from me.

St John of the Cross. Euclid, Ohio.

St John of the Cross. Euclid, Ohio.


Lesson in palliative care

An interesting bedside vigil appeared out of nowhere today.  A call after mass at St Paul Shrine prompted a visit to a home patient being cared for by her son, his wife, and a daughter.  Overall, it was a pleasant four hour visit with an engaging Italian family, socializing with quality people.  The son and daughter provided initial conversation, informing me of the life of their mother.  I perceived it to be a comfort to their unresponsive mother.  They are Catholics so the receiving of the Eucharist in conjunction with the anointing of the sick, Viaticum, was discussed.  The siblings complained how difficult it was to get a priest to perform the sacrament.  It made me realize I should stop by St Paschal Baylon and discuss matters with the Congregation of the Blessed Securement.  I must become familiar with priest I can call on and recommend to others.  I also need to discuss with them the process of becoming a Eucharistic minister.  It was edifying to encounter Catholics who were not the strongest in the pursuit of their faith.  Italian in descent, the Church is important to them, yet their practice is random.  It made me realize I should be better prepared for future volunteering encounters with Catholics.  Overall, I saw the vigil as a training session.  I prayed with the patient when left alone with her, witnessing her open her eyes within an odd moment.  I fell asleep during my Rosary, a thing that happens to me when praying with patients.  This does not happen when I pray alone before the Eucharist.  I get very tired and sleepy when praying with patients, struggling mightily to stay awake.  As I woke, my eyes were sighted upon the patient, realizing her eyes were open.  Immediately, I apologized to her for falling asleep. Silently, I hoped I wasn’t snoring for some people say I snore horribly.  I would hate to think my snoring caused her to wake.  The woman started rustling around in bed.  Her son came in remarking it was the most active she had been in sometime.  She pulled and tugged at her blankets, while staring at me.  I think a stranger in her room caught her off guard.  Her daughter-in-law, a nurse wearing her uniform, returning from work, arrived, providing proficient care.  I am convinced the daughter-in-law was presented for the witnessing of high quality nursing care.  Her soft voice, and gentle disposition, soothed immensely.  It was obvious her mother-in-law relaxed under her tender, confident, and compassionately skilled care.  She turned the woman, utilizing a blanket for the turning, checking her diapers, fixing everything about the positioning of the woman in order to bring maximum comfort.  The woman was a very good experienced nurse.  It was obvious.  She talked softly to her mother-in-law the whole time tending to her.  Then for over two hours husband and wife talked with me, mostly about palliative care.  They also cared for the woman’s husband when he passed in 2004.  The son told many entertaining stories about his father when he was sick.  His father, an Italian hulk, over six foot five and two hundred and fifty pounds, became a voracious eater when he came to live with them.  He was not supposed to move about, yet he continually discovered his father gorging in the kitchen.  His father was always trying to get in the kitchen.  His favorite story was the time he found him stuffing his face, only to be shocked by his mammoth father falling backwards out of control.  He managed to get behind and underneath his father, allowing his father to fall upon him.  Both ended up in a pile upon the floor.  He screamed at his father, ‘Now how the hell am I going to get you up’.  His father laughed uproariously, enjoying the whole affair.  The man complimented his father’s maintaining of a sense of humor throughout his passing.  I listened closely to the couples caretaking advice and experiences.  It was cute that their mother started snoring loudly during the end of my stay.  I am convinced the casual friendly conversation, centered around her—her bed between myself and her family—brought comfort to her.  Literally, she was in the middle of the conversation.  Speaking with the nurse, I determined I want to become a certified nursing aid, able to put my hands on the patients.  I want to bathe and clean them.  Change their diapers.  Fix their beds for them.  Assist them in moving about in bed.  I want to be able to put my hands on the patients.  My last patient, I would have been honored to cleanse and physically care for.  A final note on today’s vigil.  The family owned a dog and a cat.  The dog, a striking border collie and the cat, a thick furred black and white arrogant male, loitered about the patient’s room.  I found it interesting.  The Border Collie, possessing intelligent eyes, gently moved about the woman’s bed, while the cat would disappear underneath her bed.  Her son said both animals tended to watch over his mother.  Overall, I felt once again, I was the one being tendered to–the one being shown what it was to care for the dying.



Edification through a son

This is also my counsel to you, strain not after tears, strive not for sentiments of devotion, do not force your heart.  Rest rather in interior solitude.  Dwell therein quietly, waiting until God’s will be accomplished in you.  When it shall please Him to send you tears, Oh how sweet will those tears be, for it is not your impatience that has secured them: they are the fruits of humility and of peace.  On your part, then you must receive them with deepest of self-effacement, allowing God to work within you.  Note well, that if ever you fancy this desire or the securing of these affections to be in any measure due to yourself, you will infallibly expose yourself to the losing of them.  –St Peter of Alcantara ‘Treatise on Prayer and Meditation’.

Reading, enjoying time to read assorted authors due to a lack of work, this paragraph immediately emboldened itself as vital, words to read over and over, meditating upon relevancy.  God provided tears of joy driving home from Toledo, returning from a visit with my family.  My son is precious, although we hardly see one another anymore.  We speak and text on the phone, communicating deeply, knowing one another well.  This Thanksgiving, amidst a celebration of gratefulness, I observed my son closely, marveling at the wonder God graced, deeply grateful for his presence.  Late into the day, my sister, a devout demanding Christian along with my brother-in-law and their children, including their two adopted preschoolers, plus members from their nondenominational church, met my son, myself, and my son’s first serious girlfriend for a round of evening glow bowling.  I have not bowled in decades, thoroughly enjoying myself, while bowling horribly.  The bowling came after a lively gathering at my older brothers.  I must point out the significance of my son’s girlfriend in regards to my recovery.  My struggles in life occurred during the raising of my son.  My twenty-five plus years of celibacy, chastity, complete inability to even attempt a romantic relationship amidst a life of severe alcoholism, I am convinced negatively affected my son.  His mother told me that he spoke to her, stressing he did not feel he could love another, never commit himself to an intimate relationship.  He told her he had no interest in sex.  I assumed guilt, convinced I never demonstrated, or taught, my son how to interact in an adult manner regarding intimacy, the expressing of proper love between adults, an adult relationship between a male and female I never showed him.  And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you riseMy life lacked love, so therefor I could not transfer such Godly maturity to my son.  One cannot give what one does not possess.  Committed to his career, making responsible, admirable, life choices, I venerated my son, yet watched his personal life closely; wondering–respectively granting him distance, never inquiring, allowing openness and the opportunity for him to present when he discerned appropriateness.  Others questioned his lack of dating.  Admiring his socially friendly and endearing responsible personality, yet noticing he never presented a romantic interest.  I know many questioned his sexuality, whispering about closet homosexuality.  He never gave reason for the idle gossiping speculation.  Now at thirty, he presents his first romantic interest, his first serious relationship.  God is good and all giving.  I am stunned by the young lady.  Physically beautiful, simple and humble, an unassuming devout Christian, she transfixes my entire family.  Bowling, I watched her and my son, spellbound by the maturity and absolute Christian love blossoming between them.  All glory to God, my son was and is authentic, sincere in his chastity, remarkable in his emotional maturity and patience in discerning a woman to present to the family.  She is absolutely perfect beyond a level I imagined.  My son the whole time desired mature and proper Christian affection in his life.  It had nothing to do with immature lust, nor emotional squandering, nor any other sign of internal brokenness, a psychological blockage suffering an inability to love on a mature Christian level.  She is quiet, easily blending in, comfortable and committed to being my son’s girlfriend.  My brother and his wife, all the gathered were focused on her, and she never noticed.  She is beautiful and doesn’t even know it. I plied her into conversation, offering her opinion regarding an incident I experienced earlier in the day with two young ladies, publicly cuddling, isolating themselves from group conversation, openly entertaining homosexual intimacy.  She came alive, vivid in her determination that if she were present a confrontation would have occurred.  No way would she sit at the table and not say something.  It went beyond the homosexual issue, simply embracing proper social ethics, for even a straight couple conducting themselves in such a manner would force her disapproval and voicing of concerns of appropriateness.  The maturity, intelligence, and clear distinct purpose of being astounded.  The young lady knows who she is, while remaining humble, happy to go unnoticed.  While bowling, I contrasted her to the other young ladies bowling.  The other young ladies, self-conscious, possessed roaming eyes, always seeking attention, attempting to draw eyes upon themselves, needing to be a character and the center of attention.  Evening entertainment, many were drunk, making spectacles of themselves.  Leslie, thoroughly engaging, fully present for the group she came with, focused upon dignity and respect toward my son as a girlfriend.  She never sought undo attention, nor did her eyes explore for young men.  It was not an attempt rather a state of being.  Her eyes never immaturely dallied about the bowling alley.  My sister, an astute observer, snuck up behind me, whispering in my ear, acknowledging my enamored studying of the young lady.  My sister remarked:  “I am totally impressed.  Everyone is.  Do you see her social skills, her ability to interact with everyone as a young lady of Christian integrity?  My friends are all asking about her.  That young lady is remarkable.”  I confessed to my sister, “I am astounded.  God has blessed me.  I am so happy and proud of Zack”.  Driving home to Cleveland, on into midnight, I called my mother.  She cut the conversation short, telling me, “Zack and Leslie are here.  Zack has been fixing my computer while Leslie talks to me in the kitchen.  I have to go Jim.  Leslie is waiting for me”.  I could only laugh, telling her to go to her, admiring the fact the young couple remained with my mother so late into the night.  They still had a drive to Ann Arbor to complete.  I realized my son has established himself as a source of strength, integrity, and Christian value within my family.  It is a mature flowering coming into being after years of giving, proper behavior, loving and caring for everyone.  His aunts and uncles and all his cousins he treats with absolute interest and charity.  His grandmother he takes care of.  The memory of his grandfather he cherishes.  His mother’s side of the family receives the same respect, attention, and care.  He is a young man proving himself to be a caregiver of morals and values, a provider of goodness and maturity.  It is a grace I do not deserve.  It is a grace he deserves.  God furthers the humbling, demonstrating He is wiser and more capable than I ever imagined.  God is truly good and all giving.  My son offers as an example the maturity and Christian example I desire within my own life, the advanced level of male/female interaction I aspire to.  God works in a truly circular manner, progressing perfection from the younger generation upward.  My son presents what I know is right and proper.  He demonstrates the mature ways and order of God.  God is a God of order and commandments, bringing about such demands for the betterment of our lives, not as a difficult taskmaster.  To live within the commandments and order is the fullness of truth, the living of a full and enriching life, the means to mature into a complete person, family, Church, and society–a genuine path to eternal life.


A day of thanksgiving

“Love every one with a strenuous love of charity, but have no friendship, except for those that communicate with you the things of virtue; and the more exquisite the virtues are, which shall be the matter of your communications, the more perfect shall your friendship also be. If this communication be in the sciences, the friendship is certainly very commendable; but still more so if it be in the moral virtues in prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice. But should your reciprocal communication relate to charity, devotion, and Christian perfection, good God! How precious will this friendship be! It will be excellent, because it comes from God; excellent, because it tends to God; excellent, because it shall last eternally in God. Oh, how good it is to love on earth as they love in heaven; to learn to cherish each other in this world, as we shall do eternally in the next!” –St Francis de Sales

Thanksgiving arrives, two autumn days off work. Gratefulness, no stress, socializing and housework, a time of reflection upon the past and a prayer for the future. God is good and all pervading; allowing and permitting the wonders of life to absorb; shaping and forming us into creatures prepared for heaven, able to overcome the burdens we place upon our backs.

Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.
God is faithful,
and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength,
but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape,
that you may be able to endure it.