If we look at God without knowing that God always sees us first, and if we don’t encounter a love-filled gaze, then it is not God we meet. “Videntem videre,” says Augustine: We see the one who sees us. His gaze is prior and encompasses all. We are already known by God before we know him. We do not get to know God by looking at him, but by letting him look at us, and by enduring in his sight. One does not get to know the sun by staring right into its light, but rather by covering one’s eyes and exposing oneself to its rays. It is God’s gaze that makes us what we are. God is always first.
Every human being has a deep longing to be looked upon with love, to be known by another. Is it not part of love to hide nothing from the beloved? Everyone desires to be lovingly affirmed for being just what one is.
It is a singular joy to let oneself be beheld by God, to consciously give up all resistance against his merciful light, and thus become completely transparent. One could say that holiness is nothing but living every moment in the presence of God’s loving glance. Nothing impure can resist it. If you dare to give yourself over to it, and let God see into your innermost recesses, then you are purified without even knowing how. But it all depends on whether you truly let him see everything.
~ A meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.
Before The Beauty Of God
Oh, what Beauty, you exceed every other beauty’s features! Wounding not, you pained indeed, without pain destroyed and freed my love from all worldly creatures.
Oh, knot that so joins forever two things as unlike as we, unknown why our bond you sever, since when tied you strengthen ever and draw good from injury.
Bind that without being to Being of eternity; without finishing, now do, not having to love, love too, exalt our nonentity.
“God is humanity’s universal teacher and guardian, but his teaching to humanity is mediated by angels.” ~ St. Thomas Aquinas
On Behalf of Love
Every truth without exception—no matter who makes it—is from God. If a bird got accused of singing too early in the morning, if a lute began to magically play on its own in the square and the enchanting sounds it made drove a pair of young lovers into a wild, public display of passion, if this lute and bird then got called before the inquisition and their lives were literally at stake, could not God walk up and say before the court, “All acts of beauty are mine, all happen on the behalf of love”? And while God was there, testifying for our heart’s desires, hopefully the judge would be astute enough to brave a question, that could go, “Dear God, you say all acts of beauty are yours, surely we can believe that. But what of all actions we see in this world, for is there any force in existence greater than the power of your omnipresent hand?” And God might have responded, “I like that question,” adding, “May I ask you one as well?” And then God would say, “Have you ever been in a conversation when children entered the room, and you then ceased speaking because your wisdom knew they were not old enough to benefit—to understand? As exquisite is your world, most everyone in it is spiritually young. Spirituality is love, and love never wars with the minute, the day, one’s self and others. Love would rather die than maim a limb, a wing. Dear, anything that divides man from man, earth from sky, light and dark, one religion from another. . . O, I best keep silent, I see a child just entered the room.”
O Lord, grant that I may seek You, not only at certain moments during the day, but also at every instant of my life.
~ Divine Intimacy
A soul who longs for a life of intimacy with God is not satisfied to limit its relations with Him to the time of prayer, but tries to extend them throughout the whole day. This is a rightful desire, for one who loves tries to prolong continuously his relations with the beloved. This is true, therefore, of a soul who loves God; and its desire is the more easily realized, since God Himself is always with us; He is always present and working in us. We are treating, it is true, of a presence which is spiritual and invisible; it is, however, real and not merely affective and moral, as is the presence of a loved one in the heart and mind of a lover.
If God is always with us, why can we not be always in continual contact with him? This contact is realized by thought and love, but much more by the latter than by the former. In fact, it is impossible to be always thinking of God, partly because the mind becomes tired and partly because our many occupations demand all the application of our intellect, which cannot pay attention to two different things at the same time. The heart, on the other hand, can always love, even when the mind is busy elsewhere; and it never grows weary of tending toward the object of its love. Since supernatural love does not consist in sentiment, but in an intimate orientation of the will toward God, we know that this turning is possible, even during the performance of duties which absorb all our attention. The will can strengthen this orientation of itself toward God precisely by the desire to fulfill each duty for love of Him, to please Him and give glory to Him. St. Thomas says that the heart can always tend Godward by “the desire of charity,” that is, by the desire to love Him, to serve Him, and to be united to Him in every action. “Prayer is nothing but a desire of the heart; if your desire is continuous, your prayer is continuous. Do you wish never to cease praying? Then never cease desiring” (St. Augustine).
~ A Meditation by Father Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.
The traffic goes on and on. Talk about rush hour!
Lord, I don’t want it to be this way, I long for stillness for both of us, for us to meet and embrace in a holy emptiness filled with your Spirit. I don’t want these endless, trivial interruptions, these mundane comments, this sheer nonsense— like confetti thrown all over us as we walk away from the consecration of our nuptials, into the world and our work there.
You are very patient. You take no notice of my repetitive slogans. My captive mind that reiterates so boringly these matters of no moment and dallies down side roads looking at silly signposts and place names, seeming to disregard you.
I say “seeming” for all the time I am so deeply and intricately intertwined with you, so absolutely yours, (as you are mine) that there’s no separation now for all eternity.
Silence will heal the wounds inflicted by the endless words that swarm around us, exhaust us, tire us beyond all tiredness. We need silence in our noisy, work–filled life, as a child needs its mother’s milk. We need to be alone with God.
We need to have a desert, be it only a corner of some apartment, some house, where we can go and rest with God. We need to follow him to some hill, to some garden where he himself was also wont to pray when he was tired and weary and distressed.
We need silence in order to be able to listen to our brothers, to listen with the heart. We need silence to open our souls to our brothers, making an inn for the thousands who may be living in palatial homes but have no place to lay their burdens of loneliness.
We need that silence to be able to speak a few words charged with our love, charged with Christ.
~ A Meditation by Catherine de Hueck Doherty
This is my prayer —
That, though I may not see,
I be aware
Of the Silent God
Who stands by me.
That, though I may not feel,
I be aware
Of the Mighty Love
Which doggedly follows me.
That, though I may not respond,
I be aware
That God—my Silent, Mighty God,
Waits each day.
Quietly, hopefully, persistently,
Waits each day and through each night
~ A poem by Edwina Gateley, ‘Psalms of a Laywoman’
O Jesus, I beg You to transform my soul as You once transformed the water for the bride and bridegroom at Cana.
~ Divine Intimacy
“And the third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the Mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited . . . to the marriage.” (John 2,I-II). For the first time, we see the Blessed Virgin in her maternal function as mediatrix of all graces. The Cana miracle, Jesus’ first, was worked precisely because of her intercession which was so powerful that it made Jesus anticipate His hour. “My hour is not yet come,” the Savior had answered His Mother, and Mary was neither dismayed by this apparent refusal nor did she insist on her request. Secure in the knowledge of her Son and full of loving confidence in Him, she says to the servants, “Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye.” Her humility, consideration for others, faith, and trustful abandonment win Jesus, and to show us the greatness of her power over His divine heart, He grants her wish; the miracle takes place.
Mary’s faith is admirable; and also worthy of admiration is the faith and prompt obedience of the servants who, following Mary’s advice, immediately carry out the orders of Jesus; they fill the waterpots with water and then pour from them. Not a moment of doubt, not a protest—they simply obey. May we not learn from them how to believe, how to obey? Shall we not have recourse to Mary’s powerful intercession?
How encouraging it is, O Lord, for me to find Your sweet Mother beside You today! Everything becomes simple and easy near Mary, beneath her maternal eye, under the protection of her powerful intercession. How good You, were, O Jesus, to give us Your dear Mother to be the Mother of our spiritual life! I will follow Mary’s precious advice and do everything You tell me, everything You wish me to do.
O Lord, with a like confidence and trust, I lay my needs before You today. Do You see them? My soul is like the waterpots at the feast: full of water, the cold, insipid water of my frailty and weakness, which I never seem to overcome completely. I can say with the Psalmist: “The waters have come even unto my soul” (Psalm 60,I), and they submerge me and I am as one drowned in incompetence and weakness. O Lord, I believe that, if You will, You can change all this water into the precious wine of Your love, Your grace, and Your life.
~ A Meditation by Father Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. ~ Divine Intimacy
Somewhere along the road of life, by the grace of God, my soul awoke. And it was hungry, hungry for God.
Its hunger became a fire, a fire that consumed me and ate me up with its intense, devouring heat. I could not rest anywhere except in motion, that long, endless journey that every soul must undertake if she is to meet her God.
It is a strange journey, across arid plains and verdant valleys, across dried parchment-like deserts. A journey of many crossroads and endless sharp turns that confuse and make one clamour for a rest.
But the hunger for God knows no rest. So I go on and on and on.
Yes, it is a strange journey, that slowly makes me shed all the baggage I took for it, baggage I took before I knew that it would be too heavy a load for this kind of journey.
I don’t know where I felt it—somewhere back there by some crossroad.
Now I am baggageless, but still too heavily burdened. My hunger drives me on. For speedy traveling. I must start to shed my clothing.
There on this stone I lay the cloak of selfishness that kept me warm. It is cold without it, but I can walk faster, as my hunger urges me to.
Here on this branch, I hang my dress of selflove and compromise with the world. I shiver now in earnest, but my feet have wings. Yet this sheltered rock begs for my underwear.
Slowly, reluctantly, I shed my undergarments, one by one. Here goes self-indulgence. Tidily, next to it, I lay greed for possessions and love of ease and comfort. Next, not so tidily, go helter-skelter all the things in me that are not God’s.
Lord, behold I stand naked before thee, with wings on my feet. Wings on my feet! Now my journey inward will be swift.
But it is not. For I still stumble and fall and walk haltingly, inches instead of miles, while the hunger for God flays me and urges me to make haste.
Oh, I had forgotten my shoes, the heavy, comfortable shoes that have shielded my feet. Shielded my feet from the cutting stones, from the sharp pebbles. I must unlace my shoes, my comfortable stout shoes, the last covering of my naked soul. The last stronghold of my non-surrender to God.
I hesitate. The narrow path upward is so hard. It has so many sharp stones. So many knife-edged pebbles. But the hunger for God flames in me, a furnace of fire unquenchable, the fire of love, of passionate, utter love of God. I must go on, on that journey inward that alone will bring me face to face with him for whom I hunger constantly, without ceasing.
Quickly, I bend and with hasty, clumsy fingers unlace one shoe, then the other. My eagerness expresses my hunger. Recklessly I throw one shoe this way, the other that, not caring where they fall.
Now I am free, I am free and naked, and my feet have wings, huge wings that carry me across sharp stones and knife-edged pebbles without harm. Now the brambles and thorns that edge the path turn and point the other way.
I am a naked soul, free and untrammelled, driven by the hunger of my love for God, driven by my love for God, on and on, on this journey inward.
I did not know it would be so easy, once I shed all my garments. But now I know, for my hunger is being assuaged, satiated, filled, even as I fly on winged feet along the steep path upward. It is being filled, that hunger of mine, so much, so well, that I can feed others with the surplus of the food given to me so abundantly.
God meets half way the soul that starts on its journey inward, provided that the soul, driven by hunger of love for him, strips itself naked.
That is the secret of his love and of his kingdom, which begins even on this earth. But the price, I repeat, is nakedness complete, even unto discarding shoes.
~ A Meditation by Catherine De Hueck Doherty
Listen to yourself so as to find the path to God within the frail walls of your humanness. Listen to yourself, for it is you alone who will lead yourself to him, or away from him. Listen to yourself, listen to God, when you have led yourself to him. Listen well, for if you hear his voice you will be wise with the wisdom of the Lord, and then you will be able to hear the voice of men, not as a surging sea, or as a mob. But each man’s speech is his own, a treasure given to you beyond all expectations, because you led yourself to him and listen to his voice.
Early on in my conversion the Lord placed in my heart the desire to learn about the Desert Fathers. I read about the life of Saint Anthony the Great, also called St. Anthony of Egypt, whose feast day we celebrate today. He became known as both the father and founder of desert monasticism. Along the way, I also learned about the Desert Mothers and the vast treasure of information they have left to us through their words and written instructions for our spiritual formation. I learned about them through books, films, and talking to spiritual mentors. That period of my life came before I joined my Lay Carmelite community. I had this deep intense desire to learn more about the lives of these champions of the faith—the Desert Fathers and Mothers . Their lives and wisdom were so inspiring to me. At one point I felt a deep calling to go to the desert, to live in solitude for awhile. I didn’t understand why I felt this intense calling in my heart. I did ask the Lord, how can this be possible? I’m married and have children. I live in the world but I felt I was not part of it, everything was a distraction to me. I had this constant desire of being alone with God. Little did I know that the Lord was calling me to be part of the spiritual family of Lay Carmelites. It wasn’t clear to me at that time, God was transforming me and preparing me for that. I began to attend spiritual retreats regularly, and found myself immerse in His presence all the time. My soul was being fed and my relationship with God grew stronger every day. Later on I found this treasure of infinite grace in Carmel. He was leading me by the hand to His own garden, to His solitude, to His heart. So then I can live in the world—in the ‘market place’ and by His grace reflect His light to others.
Praise the Lord forever! To Him be the glory for ever and ever!
Here I share a short documentary of Father Lazarus, a Coptic monk living in solitude inspired by the life of Saint Anthony The Great. The cave he lives is very close in proximity of St. Antony’s cave and Saint Anthony’s monastery in Egypt.
I hope you enjoy it!
“The truly intelligent man pursues one sole objective: to obey and to conform to the God of all. With this single aim in view, he disciplines his soul, and whatever he may encounter in the course of his life, he gives thanks to God for the compass and depth of His providential ordering of all things. For it is absurd to be grateful to doctors who give us bitter and unpleasant medicines to cure our bodies, and yet to be ungrateful to God for what appears to us to be harsh, not grasping that all we encounter is for our benefit and in accordance with His providence. For knowledge of God and faith in Him is the salvation and perfection of the soul.”
~ Saint Anthony the Great
“When you close the doors to your dwelling and are alone you should know that there is present with you the angel whom God has appointed for each man…This angel, who is sleepless and cannot be deceived, is always present with you; he sees all things and is not hindered by darkness. You should know, too, that with him is God, who is in every place; for there is no place and nothing material in which God is not, since He is greater than all things and holds all men in His hand.”
~ Saint Anthony the Great
“One who knows oneself, knows God: and one who knows God is worthy to worship Him as is right. Therefore, my beloveds in the Lord, know yourselves.”
~ Saint Anthony the Great
Saint Anthony the Great, pray for us and the whole world!
“God has saved me many times. He was really merciful to me. He turned all my difficulties, illnesses, even my imprisonment into great spiritual values. He is able to turn human muck into spiritual treasure.” ~ Ladislav Záborský
A much-admired Catholic painter of religious themes, Ladislav Záborský arguably most famous canvas, that of Christ as a Worker, was first shown at an exhibition in Košice in March and April 1949. Before long, it became widely known throughout Slovakia. Záborský’s success also became the source of his difficulties with the State Security apparatus. His painting was declared corrupt and a ban was imposed on the further depiction of Christ as a worker. His situation steadily worsened, and in June 1954 he was accused of treason and sentenced to seven years imprisonment. On Christmas day in 1957 he was conditionally freed. Once in his own home he lost little time in transcribing from memory poems he has composed without pen or paper while in Valdice prison. A small collection of these was published in Zvolen, Slovakia, in 2003 under the title Združenie Jas (Association of Light). Since 1957 he has had a highly productive career as a religious artist and a designer of stained-glass windows for churches, primarily in eastern Slovakia.
~ An excerpt from the book ‘The walls behind the curtain’ by Harold B. Segel
“… such nice thoughts just like the Holy Spirit had inspired me and dictated those words to me, so I wanted to write them down. I borrowed some soap and soaped the outer side of my basin. I also borrowed a comb and broke one tooth of it. I was afraid that they could catch me. I wrote my poems on the outer side of basin, you know, since it was soaped it glinted in the light under the window and I had only a couple of hours to memorise it because days were short and some of my poems were almost two pages in length. In my opinion, it was a miracle that I managed to memorise it so quickly and word by word. Then I recited those poems every day because I didn’t want to forget even one word and to break their rhythms.”
~ Ladislav Záborský
Vo väzení (In Prison)
That I sit here alone and do not hear the voice of culture? It is not so entirely empty here. I am, after all, the hero in a great theater the director of which is God himself. I also have a film showing any time: I just have to turn on the living spring of my imagination, because I have in my head a projector of many films. The most beautiful books are human souls in which beneath the surface flows a strange life. I even have a radio in this empty cell of mine, when the voice of God reads in my soul and awakens feelings with open arms. Because heaven broadcasts continuously throughout the entire world, you merely have to listen and know how to understand.
~ A poem by Ladislav Záborský, translated from Slovak by Harold B. Segel
“Five months in the isolation cell were for me spiritual exercise. Board and accommodation were assured. Exercitation was led by the Holy Spirit. He dictated me those poems. I wrote them down as rapidly as possible and until night I learnt them by heart. Those poems helped me live in jail.”
~ Ladislav Záborský
We, who are small, have been shown the face of the Infant. This Infant, who is our Savior, was hidden in Nazareth for 30 years, then walked the roads to proclaim the Good News, died on the cross, and rose again. What does he tell us? Everything can be destroyed except love. That love is in you and no one can take it from you. Have confidence, have courage, and become true adorers through the power of Jesus Christ. ~ By Catherine De Hueck Doherty
The Infant Jesus of Prague
It is snowing. The huge world is perhaps death. This is December. But how warm it is in the small room! The fireplace filled with burning coals Colors the ceiling with a drowsy reflection, And all you can hear is some water softly boiling. Up above, on the shelf, over the two beds, Under his glass globe, a crown on his head, One of his hands holding the world, the other ready To protect those children who trust in it, Kindly in his long solemn dress And magnificent under that large yellow hat, The Infant Jesus of Prague reigns and rules.
He is all alone in front of the hearthside shining on him Like the host hidden within the sanctuary, The Child-God watches over his small brothers until The day comes.
Unheard like breath which is exhaled, Eternal existence fills the room, equal to all those innocent naïve poor tots! When he is with us, no harm can come. We can sleep, Jesus our brother, is here. He is ours, and all these good things as well: The marvellous doll, and the wooden horse, And the sheep, are there, all three of them in that corner.
And we sleep, but all those good things are ours! The curtains are pulled . . . Outside, somewhere In the snow and the night a kind of hour ring. The Child in his warm bed contentedly understands That he is sleeping and that someone who loves him is there, Moves a bit, murmurs indistinctly, puts his arm out, Tries to wake up and cannot.
~ A poem by Paul Claudel, from Corona Benignitatis Anni Dei