Some wisdom from St. Josemaria Escriva

msgr_josemaria_escriva200Today the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, founder of Opus Dei.  He has written several books. The only one I’ve read is Christ Passing by, and I highlighted about every line. I thought I might share a few of his wonderful words here.

  • “Have confidence. Return. Invoke Our Lady and you’ll be faithful.”
  • “You don’t know how to pray? Put yourself in God’s presence and as soon as you’ve said, ‘Lord, I don’t know how to pray,’ you can be sure that you’ve already begun.”
  • “To be happy, what you need is not an easy life but a heart that is in love.”
  • “Get rid of that ‘small-town’ outlook. Enlarge your heart till it becomes universal, ‘Catholic.’ Don’t flutter about like a hen when you can soar to the heights of an eagle.”
  • “He did not say you would not be troubled, you would not be tempted, you would not be distressed. But he did say you would not be overcome.”
  • “I am asked for very little compared to how much I am being given.”

St. Irenaeus: "To follow the light is to enjoy the light"

Yesterday’s Office of Readings had a nice line in the second reading, an excerpt from the writings of St. Irenaeus:

“To follow the Savior is to share in salvation; to follow the light is to enjoy the light.”

The other reading from that same Office (from Exodus) and the three psalms that went along with the readings shared the theme of God’s saving his people from the desert and into his holy land. One psalm recounted the plagues.

Irenaeus’ point is an encouraging one: even here on this side of heaven, even here in our own little worlds, even here in the plague-infested realities of pestilence or locust or something even worse, Light breaks in and summons us to something better.

“Following the light, we enjoy the light.”

Reminds me of the name of this blog. 

Ours is an always unfolding, always unfinished, always unplanned, always not fully understood, always divine yet human…journey into Light.

So long as we’ve started and take a step every day, we’ll come to enjoy the light-filled road to Light.

It’s like Catherine of Sienna’s quote, “All the way to heaven is heaven!”

Yesterday’s Gospel recounted the calling of Matthew.  I’m reminded of this piece by Caravaggio:

There he was, St. Matthew, lost in his dark and haunted counting house.

The Light then came.

And he followed.

So ought we.

Feast of St Teresa of Avila

Today is the feast day of St Teresa of Avila, doctor of the Church.

In her Life, she outlines in chapters 27-31 (and elsewhere, of course) the results of good contemplative prayer, which is of course a gift when it comes (though we can do certain things to better open ourselves to that gift.

Anyhow, she writes that during and/or after moments of great contemplative prayer:

  1. “there is nothing more to do than to enjoy” (L, 27.8);
  2. we come “to have some knowledge of what goes on in heaven” (L, 27.10);
  3. “God and the soul understand each other…[even] just by a glance” (L, 27.10);
  4. “the soul is completely dissolved” (L, 28.8); 
  5. “no distraction is enough to resist [the vision]” (L, 28.6); 
  6. Christ leaves in our hands”jewels,” that is, “tokens of great love” (L, 28.13); 
  7. one receives visions that are clearly “His Majesty’s work,” not the craft of our minds (L, 29.3);
  8. “an arrow is thrust into the deepest and most living recesses of the heart in such a way that the soul doesn’t know what has happened or what it wants” (L, 29.10);
  9. into those wounds from the arrows, “joy soon enters in” (L, 29.14);
  10. we can come to “pay no attention to the scarecrows the devils set up” (L, 31.10).

I write this list because I think this should give me great impetus to work on prayer, and all of us. St Teresa is really one of the great experts on this from our tradition and so it’s nice to look at her words here.

Her images—the jewels, the arrows, the married couple that understands each other just by a glace—these are powerful. 

What a wonderful thing good prayer is.

How do we get to this king of prayer?  Much of Teresa’s corpus is dedicated to answering that question, of course, but I wonder if it might all boil down to this:  we must surrender to God first. 

Her words are better: “Reflect that it is indeed certain that God gives Himself in this way to those who give up all for Him” (L, 27.12). 

Give all to Him, and He will give all to us.  Simple enough, but as Deuteronomy says, “we have only to live it out!”

St. Teresa of Avila: pray for us.

St. Teresa of Avila and the priesthood

St. Teresa of Avila wrote a few works, and for one of my classes we are reading all but her Foundations.  

The Church is in a particularly interesting place.  Historically, it has always been very much a part of society and culture.

Those who are in the Church then, or perhaps who are the Church, are in an interesting spot: we are in the world, as the saying goes, but we cannot be of the world.

Priests in particular, or “captains” as the terminology used to go.

This text comes from The Way of Perfection.

[Priests] are the persons who must strengthen people who are weak, and encourage the little ones. A fine state this would would be in—soldiers without captains! These persons must live among men, deal with men, live in palaces, and even sometimes outwardly behave as such men do. Do you think, my daughters, that little is required for them to deal with the world, live in the world, engage in its business, and, as I said, resemble it in its conversation, while interiorly remaining its strangers, its enemies; in sum, not being men but angels? … So, then, do not think that little help from God is necessary for this great battle these preachers and theologians are fighting… (P, 3.3).

I can think of no better example right now that Cardinal Dolan.

"Thrice happy they who can then look out to the never-ending future with calm and confidence"

Today the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Mother Theodore Guerin, first Indiana saint and patroness of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

She grew up in France and knew many trials there–for example, the death of her father, the trials of poor health…But she knew she had a vocation and so she followed it.

Once a nun, after a few years she was asked to leave all she knew and come to the US, to a place called Indiana.  There she founded the Saint Mary of the Woods community, which still remains active today.

Let’s keep those sisters in prayer today.

There aren’t too many of the SP’s in our schools anymore, but time was they were all over. Their legacy is an important one here.

St. Theodora taught by her life that Providence does not fail.  There’s a good lesson to remember.

Here’s this from her first journal of travel:

Nothing troubled the charm and silence of this solitude. Making the most serious reflections on what we behold, and on our present position, I said to myself: Thus does life also pass away, now calm, now agitated, but at last the end is attained. Happy, ah, thrice happy they who can then look out to the never-ending future with calm and confidence, who can cast themselves on the bosom of God, the Center of our felicity.

Because "there is nobody to make them Christians"

Today is the feast day of St. Francis Xavier, patron saint of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

St. Francis’ live is an inspiration to those who desire the salvation of souls, for his life deals a lot with evangelization.

These are his beautiful words recounted in today’s Office of Readings:

Many, many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians for one reason only: there is nobody to make them Christians. Again and again I have thought of going round the universities of Europe, especially Paris, and everywhere crying out like a madman, riveting the attention of those with more learning than charity: “What a tragedy: how many souls are being shut out of heaven and falling into hell, thanks to you!”

I wish they would work as hard at this as they do at their books, and so settle their account with God for their learning and the talents entrusted to them.

This thought would certainly stir most of them to meditate on spiritual realities, to listen actively to what God is saying to them. They would forget their own desires, their human affairs, and give themselves over entirely to God’s will and his choice. They would cry out with all their heart: Lord, I am here! What do you want me to do? Send me anywhere you like – even to India.

Indifference is one of the greatest evils. The world needs folks like St. Francis Xavier to shake people up a bit.

St. Francis Xavier went where God called him. He traveled all over, from India to Japan to China and a lot of other places. And wherever he went he carried the Gospel with him.

There were challenges, but done from love.