The Cloister of the Heart

Jesus, Art by Amy Mc Cutcheon

Everything leads us to the love of Our Lord.
All things nourish and feed this love;
All things cherish and make it our joy;
It lives on our desires and satisfies them;
It lives on our sorrows and consoles them;
It lives on our sufferings and rewards them;
It lives on our sacrifices and makes them infinitely precious;
It lives on our pleasures and adds to them;
It lives on our hopes and fulfils them:
And in a word it will create our happiness
Now and for ever.

To LOVE, nothing will seem impossible, nay more, nothing will be impossible. You cannot restrain love; it is irresistible, mounts every barrier, triumphs over ever difficulty, laughs at every obstacle. This supernatural love-life is the only real life. Yes, this Interior Life lived with Jesus, our attachment to and union with Him, and through Him with the Father and the Holy Ghost, this IS life, OUR life, the only things to live for, without which all else is dead, and worthless and meaningless.

The one sure cloister is the cloister of the heart, where Jesus and the soul live their love-life together, untroubled and undisturbed by all the riot and tumult of the world without; with every movement of memory, mind, and imagination stilled, every desire quelled, there in that silent cloister of the heart the soul is flooded with the calm tranquil peace of perfect love and lies in glad content in the embrace of her Divine Lover. The outward cloister matters little; the inward cloister matters much.

It is to little purpose to shut out the vision of the exterior world, if imagination and memory rove over it as they will, for then the soul is more without than she was before; once enter the cloister of the heart and then, even if she live in the midst of the restless tossing of this world’s troubled throng, there will be perfect peace within. It is for lovers that the Divine Lover is calling. He comes, this Lover, Jesus, with the Great Red Wounds so cruelly gashed in Hands and Feet and Side. He comes, this Lover, Jesus, with His Body all rent, all torn, all bleeding. He comes, this Lover, Jesus, with His Head crowned with cruel thorns, with His Sacred Face disfigured with wounds and blows, with His Eyes filled with Blood. He comes to seek for lovers. His Arms are stretched out wide ready to embrace the soul that will make her response to His appeal, and say to Him: “Oh, my darling Jesus, I take You for my Lover and my All. My Love, I want to be everything to You, and You shall be everything to me!” He will embrace her with those blood-stained Arms of His and the thrill of love will surge through her at His touch.

Victims of Love, those who would love to love’s extreme limit, love without reserve; love with such love that they sacrifice themselves as living Victims to His All-Merciful Love; it is for such our Jesus is calling. It is for souls like these that He asks.


I hold Him, and nor time nor place
My soul from Him shall part—
The Heart of my most loving God,
The God of my poor heart.


~ Listening to the Indwelling Presence, compiled by a Religious

Love’s Choice

 

“O God, O Creator, O Spirit of life overwhelming Your creatures with ever new graces!
You grant to Your chosen ones the gift which is ever renewed:
The Body and Blood of Jesus Christ!”
~ St. Angela of Foligno

 

The Body and Blood of Christ by Theophilia
The Eucharistic Heart of Jesus
Art by Cecilia Lawrence ~ 2018

 

This sonnet is about the experience of receiving Holy Communion:

This bread is light, dissolving, almost air,

A little visitation on my tongue,

A wafer-thin sensation, hardly there.

This taste of wine is brief in flavour, flung

A moment to the palate’s roof and fled,

Even its aftertaste a memory.

Yet this is how He comes. Through wine and bread

Love chooses to be emptied into me.

He does not come in unimagined light

Too bright to be denied, too absolute

For consciousness, too strong for sight,

Leaving the seer blind, the poet mute;

Chooses instead to seep into each sense,

To dye himself into experience.

 

~ A Sonnet for Corpus Christi, by Malcolm Guite. It was published in ‘Sounding the Seasons’ a cycle of seventy sonnets for the Church Year.

 

 

“The eternal tide flows hid in Living Bread. That with its heavenly life too be fed…”
~ St. John of the Cross, O.C.D
 

 

 

Wishing you all a very Blessed Feast of Corpus Christi!

 

Our Secret Garden

 

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My Photo, taken in Bayfield, Ontario ~ June 2020

 

Beloved,

Here we are,
in our meeting place.
Our secret garden,
in a beautiful day of June
late afternoon.

I find You in the flowers.
I find You in the birds,
the trees, the ducks, the butterflies.
All rejoice and praise You.
Your presence is here with me among the lilies.
Your fragrance is everywhere.
Your love and tenderness follows me
wherever I go.

Beloved,

Nature is Your playground.
The sky is Your canvas.
I stop and let all these precious moments
stay with me forever.

They console my heart.
You know my heart is aching
from the losses of three dear friends.
Three beautiful souls that recently departed
To Your loving arms.
May You welcome them in your Kingdom,
where there are no more tears and pain.
Blessed them with Your everlasting love and peace.

Beloved,

Your Heart I seek.
I want my heart to become a shrine for
Your Sacred Heart.
A place where You can rest and I can rest
in You.
My Jesus,
my All
and my God. 

~ My short poem to Jesus

 

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Photo taken by me at Gairloch Gardens ~ June 2020


Nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Romans 8:39

 

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Photo taken by me at Gairloch Gardens ~ June 2020


If God gave the soul his whole creation she would not be filled thereby but only with himself.
Meister Eckhart

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Photo taken by me at Gairloch Gardens ~ June 2020


From the creation, learn to admire the Lord! Indeed the magnitude and beauty of creation display a God who is the artificer of the universe. He has made the mode of creation to be our best teacher.

~ St. John Chrysostom

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Photo taken by me at Gairloch Gardens ~ June 2020

The whole earth is a living icon of the face of God.
~ St. John Damascus

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Photo taken by me at Gairloch Gardens ~ June 2020


God passes through the thicket of the world, and wherever His glance falls He turns all things to beauty.

~ St. John of the Cross

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Photo taken by me at Gairloch Gardens ~ June 2020


I asked the whole frame of the world about my God; and he answered, I am not He, but He made me.
St. Augustine of Hippo

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Photo taken by me at Gairloch Gardens ~ June 2020


Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!
~ Pope Francis

 

The Spirit, the Hidden Treasure in Your Field

 

Holy Spirit within ones soul by rebecca brogan
The Holy Spirit within ones soul, art by Rebecca Brogan

 

The goal of the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Resurrection is Pentecost. If God has become man, if he has suffered and died for us and risen from the dead, it is in order finally to fill us with the Holy Spirit. Jesus says it with crystal clear words: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” (Lk 12:49).

In one of the manuscripts of Luke’s Gospel, it says “May your Holy Spirit come”, instead of may “Your kingdom come” (Lk 11:2). God’s kingdom is identified with the Holy Spirit. When we are filled with him, God is truly Lord in us.

The theology of the West is sometimes criticized for its “mono-Christ-ism”. It seems that theologians have devoted themselves in a biased, almost exclusive way toward Christ. But we cannot understand Christ, the truth, if we are not led by the Spirit of truth, who leads us into all truth (Jn 16:13). Perhaps this is also the reason why the theology of the West is so cold, dry, and abstract. The flame is missing. We have needed the Charismatic Renewal to become aware that the Church is not only the Church of Christ but also the Church of the Holy Spirit.

There are three Persons in God. We may not omit or pass over any one of them. Each one of the three Persons has his own function and his own role. We miss out on something essential if we limit ourselves to one or two Persons.

In the beginning, God’s Spirit hovered over the waters (Gen 1:2). We could speak of a cosmic Pentecost, which prepared, and in some way even anticipated, the actual and definitive Pentecost. The Spirit is present from the beginning, and he sighs in creation and makes it sigh with him. “We know”, writes Saint Paul, “that the whole creation has been groaning with labor pains” (Rom 8:22). It begins already on the first day of creation, and this groaning is the work of the Spirit.

It is man’s calling to be a conscious pneumatoforos (Spirit bearer). What is unconscious in creation becomes conscious in man. It is his function to interpret the language of creation, to be in harmony with it and articulate it, so that it becomes a song of praise that not only God but even his fellowmen can understand.

 
~ A Mediation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

Holy Virgin, I Beg You

 

Mary Mother of God The teotokos
Mary, Mother of God: The Teotokos, art by Bradi Barth

 

St. Ildephonsus of Toledo, Spain, was proclaiming the joy of being “a servant of Mary” already in the 7th century. In one of his prayers he brings to full light the idea of Mary’s virginal Motherhood as a model of spiritual life for the Christian.

Mary must obtain for us from the Holy Spirit the grace for Christ to be formed spiritually in us just as she, through the power of the same Spirit, fashioned Christ according to the flesh.

 

Holy Virgin, I beg you:
enable me to receive Jesus from the Spirit,
according to the same process by which you bore Jesus.

May my soul possess Jesus
thanks to the Spirit
through Whom you conceived Jesus.

May the grace to know Jesus
be granted to me through the Spirit
Who enabled you to know how to possess Jesus
and bring Him forth.

May my littleness show forth the greatness of Jesus
in virtue of the Spirit in Whom
you recognized yourself as the handmaid of the Lord,
desiring that it be done to you
according to the word of the Angel.

May I love Jesus in the Spirit
in Whom you adored Him as your Lord
and looked after Him as your Son.

~ St. Ildephonsus of Toledo

 

~ From the book “Prayers to Mary” by Most Rev. Virgilio Noe

 

 

May, a blessed month with Our Lady!

 

The Old Has Died

 

trusting in the Lord art by Elizabeth Wang
Trusting in the Lord, art by Elizabeth Wang

 

By the cross of Jesus Christ “the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal 6:14). Not the world as God created it, but the spirit of the world: the conceit, the greed, and the egoism that are within us.

All this has died to me, Paul testifies. Therefore, it can’t control me, it has no claim on me, it can’t be the starting point of my actions.

Nevertheless, the spirit of the world has made its mark on you. But this cannot hurt you if you merely see it as a trace of something that has died. Nobody can be afraid of what has already died. The new life in Christ is your genuine reality.

Many people who begin to spend time in interior prayer complain that they become so very absent-minded. Thoughts rush in like horses in a gallop. What am I to do about that? they wonder uneasily. What definitely not to do is fight these thoughts aggressively or be afraid of them. If you fight or become afraid, you show that you take these thoughts seriously.

The only thing to take seriously is the new creation within you, the new life which is the life of Christ in you. Everything else is completely uninteresting: it has died, and you don’t have to lose time and energy on it.

The Christian life is so much simpler than you think. You don’t have to walk around fighting all kinds of things, or desperately try to conquer God. A Christian begins in the victory. The old has irrevocably died and come to an end. You must rest in the new that you already been given.

 
~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

 

When we contemplate the sufferings of Jesus, He grants us, according to the measure of our faith, the grace to practice the virtues He revealed during those sacred hours.
~ Saint Angela Merici

 

 

God Is Not Angry!

 

Cross in a blizzard art by jozef chelmonski 1907
Art by Jozef Chelmonski (1907)

 

Our God is different than we think. We have all heard of a God who demands atonement, a God who is just and wants restitution for the injustice he has been suffering. But our God is not justice. Our God is love.

We don’t need to reconcile God to us. God is reconciliation itself. God has never turned his gaze from us. It is we who have turned away from him. God had been waiting for us all along. No, not only waited. . .God has run to meet us with such overwhelming proofs of his love that it ought not possible for us to close our eyes to them.

It is not for us to appease God’s anger. God is not angry with us. Love is not resentful (1 Cor 13:5). It is, rather, God who tries to calm humanity’s anger. But he hasn’t been able to, since humanity is still angry at God. Has there ever been a time like our own in which humanity has been so cruel toward God? God is accused as never before: “What kind of God is it that allows for so much evil?”

Much of this human revolt against God is in reality directed toward a caricature of God—a God who seeks to judge, a God who looks for the first opportunity to punish. Such a God is only to be feared or despised.

But a God who hangs defenselessly on a cross, and who—with arms outstretched in a worldwide embrace—tries to unite all people with himself and one another, such a God is not hard to love.

 
~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

 

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone at this trying and unprecedented times with COVID-19 Global Pandemic. . .
May God’s strength, healing and peace be with us all and the whole world!

 

Tend to the Seed of Faith in Your Heart

 

mustard seed art by jane n
Art by Jen Norton

 

Doubt and despair have their deepest roots in a fundamental distrust of God. It is quite often a long journey before a human being is truly convinced that God really wants the very best for him or her.

As long as your heart remains unconvinced that the one who has created  and sustains you, loves you and leads you, through whatever happens, you will not find lasting peace.

You have several resources with which you can help yourself toward a firm belief in love. You can try to confront your doubt by emphasizing trust and confidence; you can open your heart to receive testimony and preaching about God; most importantly, you can listen to God’s own word.

God’s preeminent message is that he is love. This message is in itself effective and active. If you listen to it openly, it will reach your innermost recesses.

Emotions of love will not reach the core of your being; only faith does that. The capacity for faith is like a small seed laid down in you. To some extent, it is up to you to decide whether weeds and drought are to suffocate the faith when it begins to sprout. You have within you an ability to turn your gaze toward God and turn yourself over to him with trust. Then the seed will flourish.

 
~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

All Creation Is in God

 

hourglass 2
Hourglass, art by Akiane Kramarik

 

The world is fundamentally good. Everything is in God. The world is sacred, because it is created by God at every moment. You don’t have to go away from creation in order to find God—creation is God’s symphony.

God and the world are not opposites. God did not create the world at one time long ago and then leave it to its own destiny. Wherever there is a creature, there the Creator is present. As perfume spreads fragrance, so creation goes out as a fragrance from God.

You are, at all times, surrounded and swaddled in the love of Christ—you are created in him. All that you do, you do in Christ. This is why sin is so repugnant. When you sin, you abuse creation and force God to live in a soiled temple. When you dishonor a creature, it is the Creator you offend.

If you open your eyes and see that God is in everything and that everything is in him, you no longer need to seek him far away or ask yourself whether he is really near or not. If you have an authentically contemplative attitude, you no longer place yourself outside of life. Rather, you see right through everything and find God hidden in everything.

Every moment God creates all you need; all you have to do is to receive everything from his hand. If you learn to see the innermost meaning of creation, you will always find reasons for thankfulness.

 

~ A meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

 

 

 

 

Love Is Not an Ideology

 

roses and me
Art source unknown

 

Many people, believers and nonbelievers alike, are aware that love is the only transforming power in the world. But they believe in love the way they believe in democracy.

The love we Christians profess is not an ideology. Saint John writes in his first letter: “We have known and believe the love God has for us.” (4:16). This love is a personal relationship. We don’t believe the world is changed by ethical principles, however noble these may be. The Apostles’ Creed consists of twelve fundamental pronouncements about God’s love for humankind. All of the Scriptures, all of Christian theology, is nothing but an explanation of this love.

Through faith, you know you are loved by God with a creative, respectful, unique, and personal love. God calls you by name. God knows your joys and disappointments, your weakness and strengths, hopes and feelings. “You reach out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways… You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.” (Ps 139:3,5).

The hardest thing for a human being is to comprehend that he or she is loved by such a love. Your whole life, every hour of prayer, all your spiritual reading, ought to deal with making this truth come alive in you. If you know yourself to be loved, you will radiate this love to the world.

 

~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

 

Happy St. Valentine’s Day to All!