Find the Silence

 

poustinik2
Photo source unknown

 

We are besieged with endless babbling, and we become too weary to listen; we need to set aside a time to encounter the Lord. He can be encountered in many places, but one way is to find him in the poustinia (the Russian word for “desert”).

A poustinia can be a room or a small cabin—simple, even stark, so that nothing takes away from meeting God there. It has plain walls, a crucifix without a corpus, a table, a chair, a Bible, paper and pen, a loaf of bread and a thermos of coffee or tea, or simply water. The bed will be hard, for anyone who wants to follow Christ into the desert needs to do some penance; prayer and penance are two arms one simultaneously lifts up to Christ.

The poustinia is a place of solitude and peace, exterior and also interior. Everything needs to “quiet down”: the wings of the intellect are folded so that speculation and intellectual evaluation are quiescent. The head enters the heart, and both are silent.

The Bible is the only book found in the poustinia. The Scriptures become a million love letters from God, to be savored and meditated upon, absorbed so that you almost become one with those eternal, fiery, yet gentle words. Reading Scripture is a conversation with God.

When you enter the poustinia, you take humanity with you. You lift everyone before God, with their pain, sorrows, joy. The poustinik walks immersed in the silence of God. Our life of service and love to our fellow men is simply the echo of this silence, this solitude.

Then your own heart becomes a poustinia. You are there when you are travelling the subway and hanging onto a strap with your arms full. You go to a dance and you are in a poustinia. You play cards, wash dishes, you talk to people. That does not interfere with your poustinia, because the poustinia is the secret place where the Lover meets his beloved. God meets man!

~ A Reflection by Catherine de Hueck Doherty

 

 

Counsel for Silence

Go without ceremony of departure
and shade no subtlest word with your farewell.
Let the air speak the mystery of your absence,
and the discerning have their minor feast
on savory possible or probable.
Seeing the body present, they will wonder
where went the secret soul, by then secure
out past your grief beside some torrent’s pure
refreshment. Do not wait to copy down
the name, much less the address, of who might need you.
Here you are pilgrim with no ties of earth.
Walk out alone and make the never-told
your healing distance and your anchorhold.
And let the ravens feed you.

~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D.

 

 

 

 

The Madness of Love

 
loved forever

 

The madness of love
Is a blessed fate;
And if we understood this
We would seek no other:
It brings into unity
What was divided,

And this is the truth:
Bitterness it makes sweet,
It makes the stranger a neighbor,
And what was lowly it raises on high.

~ A poem by Hadewijch of Brabant, 13th century

 

Always Celebrate Love!

I saw The Lord

 

woman begging unlimited reality by novica
‘Realidad sin fin’ Art by Carolina Cabrera

 

I saw the Lord hungry and cold and shelterless. I could not rest, I had to take him into my arms and give him comfort. But lo, when I did, it was not God but just a child, hungry and cold.

I saw the Lord bleeding and sick. I could not rest. So I arose to assuage his pain. But lo, when I did, it was not God but just a wasted man, in pain.

I saw the Lord weeping and alone in a new Gethsemane I had not seen before. I could not rest. I had to go and share his tears and woes. But lo, when I did, it was not God but just a beggar-woman by the road.

~ A Meditation by Catherine de Hueck Doherty

 

 

 

Healing

 

Our Lady of Lourdes4
Our Lady of Lourdes (photo taken by me at Sanctuaire Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes in France, July 2017)

 

Heal me, O Sweet Mother of Lourdes,
from the pains of love.

Heal me, I pray,
from the aches of my heart 
and the memories of old.

The heart have many depths,
that the soul sees. . .
There are many places of sorrow,
places of pain.

Heal my heart, Blessed Lady
from the memories of old.

Touch my heart with yours
and I shall be made anew and healed.

At times my heart
is consumed by tears.
Tears of sadness,
and tears of love.

What shall I do with all those tears?
They swell up my eyes
from time to time
while memories comes and goes.

O Most Sweet Blessed Lady,
the memory of you
bring pure joy and love
to my weary heart.

Your presence is so calming.
You bring your Beloved Son’s peace
and all is good.

All is good.
All is new.

All is transformed and healed.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us! 

~ My personal Reflection

 

Our Lady of Lourdes 4
Notre Dame de Lourdes (photo taken by me in July 2017)

 

 

Praying for all the sick and suffering especially today. . .

 

 

 

The Child Who Falls Asleep Saying His Prayers

 

guardianangelandchild
Art source unknown

 

The title of this reflection is taken from “The Mystery of the Holy Innocents” by Charles Péguy (1873-1914):

Nothing so beautiful as a child who falls asleep
while saying his prayers, God says.
I have seen the dark, deep sea, and the dark, deep forest,
and the dark, deep heart of man.
I have seen hearts devoured by love
throughout a lifetime.
And I have seen faces of prayer, faces of tenderness
Lost in charity.
Which will shine eternally through endless nights.
Yet, I tell you, God says, I know nothing so beautiful
in all the world 
As a little child who falls asleep while saying his prayers
Under the wing of his Guardian Angel
And who laughs to the angels as he goes to sleep.
And who is already confusing everything and
understanding nothing more
And who stuffs the words of the Our Father all awry,
pell-mell into the words of the Hail Mary
while a veil is already dropping on his eyelids
the veil of night on his face and his voice.

 

In this famous poem, in the form of a hymn rising from the child’s dreams, Péguy (“the theologian of hope”) effectively evokes the “prayer without words”. There is a distinction between active and non-active prayer. In a strange way, admittedly, the image of a child who falls asleep while saying his prayers is the epitome of the concept of non-active prayer.

There was a time, during traditional devotions in the Marian months of May and October, when families could often contemplate the charming sight of toddlers who, wishing to imitate their parents and older brothers and sisters, had fallen asleep clutching rosaries in their tiny hands. To Péguy, this child whose words at prayer fall away into a murmur, and who finally dozes off, is a perfect image of prayer.

Indeed, the value of prayer is not measured by the number of words we say (Mt 6:7). If praying means “remaining silent before God” or, better still, “remaining silent in God rather than conversing with God,” then the image of the innocent child who goes to sleep while praying corresponds, in a sense, to that fundamental attitude of prayer. And since “awake or sleep, we may live with him” (1 Thess 5:10), can’t we say that even sleep becomes prayer?

There is an old Japanese saying about “siesta in the capital.” “Capital” evidently referred to present-day Kyoto, the ancient capital. The expression points to the appreciation of a Kyoto siesta as different from a siesta enjoyed anywhere else. It’s the same with sleep: falling asleep during prayer, nestled in God’s arms, is very different from nodding off during class or in a train or some other place.

If prayer were merely a matter of sleeping, it would be easy for everybody. Sleep can come from fatigue, discouragement, or perhaps lack of fervor in prayer. Some people have even develop the marvelous habit of sleeping when it is time for mental prayer.
This is not the essence of the child who goes to sleep while praying, the sight that Péguy found so touching. The appearance of joy and security in being united to Christ, “whether awake or sleep,” is what makes the slumber beautiful when one is overcome by occasional bodily fatigue, drowsing in prayer, eventually falling asleep before the family altar.

There is a kind of prayer we could call “sleeping in God” because in its depths lies total abandonment to God with complete confidence and peace of heart. Moreover, if faith and love mean to close one’s eyes to the things of this world and to die to self, doesn’t this confident abandonment into God’s loving hands lead to self-forgetfulness? This is what is meant by “sleeping in God” or ” sleep as prayer.” Just as sleep, by nature of its inactivity, restores bodily strength for action, so does prayer generate the strength to wake in God and accomplish God’s will. Prayer is the mysterious union of the two poles, the sleeping and the waking in God. The words of the renowned Zen master Sawaki, that “zazen is to hibernate in order to perceive an entirely new world beyond earthly reality,” may perhaps be pertinent to the matter in question.

This type of prayer can be compared, on the one hand, to Jesus asleep in the boat during the storm (cf. Mk 4:38) and, on the other, to Jesus awake and attentive to others’ needs, even to the obligation to give a cup of water to a poor person, “one of these little ones” (Mt 10:42). If the former type of prayer is to be called non-active or passive prayer (mui-no-inori), the result becomes “prayer that accomplished everything through nonactivity.” Here, then, is a difference: If Zen practice involves “hibernating to perceive a new world,” Christian prayer, by hibernating, receives from God the power to continually re-create the world anew.

 
~ Excerpted and slightly adapted reflection by Augustine Ichiro Okumura, O.C.D.

 

You Are Seen

 

jesus and me art by ricardo colon
Art by Ricardo Colon

 

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.

~ A poem by Saint Teresa of Ávila, O.C.D.

 

 

 

On Behalf of Love

“God is humanity’s universal teacher and guardian, but his teaching to humanity is mediated by angels.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas

 

angel art by victor nizovtsev 3
Art by Victor Nizovtsev (1965)

 

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.”

~ Saint Thomas Aquinas

A Blessed Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas to You All!