To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all our lives–the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections–that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment.
~ Henri Nouwen
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Yesterday for the feast of the Lebanese monk St. Sharbel Makhluf, the homilist at Mass referred to this saint as a fountain of living water in the dry desert where he engaged in spiritual combat with evil. That image sent my imagination back to another memory…
My spiritual director from years ago, whom I quote often, once said to me after I complained of a vapid dryness in my prayer that made me want to cut my prayer time short as it felt like a total ‘waste’:
Don’t quit! That can be your best prayer time if you sit still. Tom, I’ve eaten dust in prayer for 20 years. But for One you love, you’ll do anything for as long as is asked of you. Here’s a secret — the gift of dry prayer is that it’s more selfless, more abandoned than sweet prayer. But it’s whatever God wants. Let…
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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
1. Are you going to love or be loved today?
2. In finding your happiness, how can you make sure you don’t exclude the lives of other people?
3. Be yourself in every interaction, however small or large.
4. Gratitude isn’t a theory. It’s a way of life that changes how you see the world and yourself.
5. The sharks in our life aren’t in water; they’re the fears we allow to control what we do tomorrow.
“Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny….To work out our identity in God.”
― Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
Some would think a bit old fashioned to think of our lives as a vocational calling, but Merton hits this issue head on. We are all called to go far beyond mere existence, or simply to plod along in our weakness. Our God, and creator wants us to find our identity in Him. When that is accomplished our lives are transformed, and we soar to heights that only he can take us. You are a creation of a loving God, and He want you to claim that identity.
A great desert story.
Three old men, of whom one had a bad reputation, came one day to Abba Achilles.
The first asked him, “Father, make me a fishing-net.”
“I will not make you one,” he replied.
Then the second said, “Of your charity make one, so that we may have a souvenir of you in the monastery.”
But he said, “I do not have time.”
Then the third one, who had a bad reputation, said, “Make me a fishing-net, so that I may have something from your hands, Father.”
Abba Achilles answered him at once, “For you, I will make one.”
Then the two other old men asked him privately, “Why did you not want to do what we asked you, but you promised to do what he asked?”
The old man gave them this answer, “I told you I would not make one, and you…
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Sociologist Robert Wuthnow of Princeton University has explored how it is that people make everyday ethical decisions. Many people, he found, perform deeds of compassion, service, and mercy because at some point in their past someone acted with compassion toward them. He wrote, “The caring we receive may touch us so deeply that we feel especially gratified when we are able to pass it on to someone else.”
He tells the story of Jack Casey, who was employed as an emergency worker on an ambulance rescue squad. When Jack was a child, he had oral surgery. Five teeth were to be pulled under general anesthetic, and Jack was fearful. What he remembers most, though, was the operating room nurse who, sensing the boy’s terror, said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be right here beside you no matter what happens.” When Jack woke up after the surgery, she was true to her word, standing right there with him.
Nearly 20 years later, Jack’s ambulance team is called to the scene of a highway accident. A truck has overturned, the driver is pinned in the cab and power tools are necessary to get him out. However, gasoline is dripping onto the driver’s clothes, and one spark from the tools could have spelled disaster. The driver is terrified, crying out that he is scared of dying. So, Jack crawls into the cab next to him and says, “Look, don’t worry, I’m right here with you; I’m not going anywhere.” And Jack was true to his word; he stayed with the man until he was safely removed from the wreckage.
Later the truck driver told Jack, “You were an idiot; you know that the whole thing could have exploded, and we’d have both been burned up!” Jack told him that he felt that he just couldn’t leave him.
Many years before, Jack had been treated compassionately by the nurse, and because of that experience, he could now show that same compassion to another. Receiving grace enabled him to give grace. Jesus said, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you should wash one another’s feet.“
I arise to day
Through God’s strength to pilot me :
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils.
From temptations of vices,
From every one who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear.
Alone and in a multitude.
(from Selections from Ancient Irish Poetry, Meyer, Kuno)