Monday, September 15, 2014

How significant are you?

By Nancy Ward

Christ and Child by Bloch (Wikimedia Commons)

Disappointment crept into my heart when I failed to land a plum writing assignment. This came after I visualized my writing glorifying God and my work becoming significant. I thought that would help me become significant.  It got me thinking about how we become significant and how we judge the significance of others in our life.

I remember hearing someone say, “The more you love, the more significant you become.” God is Love, and he is huge compared to me. Not because he is bigger, stronger and more powerful, but because he gave his Son for love of me.

How significant is God in your life?

Measure that by how much he loves you. Can you measure God’s infinite love for humanity and specifically for you? The cross points out how much.

Don’t wait until you grow into that charming, loveable person that you visualize everyone can love. God created you the person you are right now, his beloved child. You are already that loveable person because he already loves you unconditionally. You can’t earn God’s love by trying to acquire more holiness.  You can only allow his holiness to come forth through all the clutter of your fears and self-expectations by embracing his love for you.

Continue reading at Nancy's blog JOY Alive.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Happy birthday, Mary, teach me to be lowly

By Heidi


I am re-posting a reflection I wrote a couple years ago, May the Mother of God bless us all today with her motherly love and guidance into the heart of her Son Jesus!

Today is the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Mary, whose immaculate conception was celebrated 9 months ago, was born on this September day.  And as is the way of the Lord, this monumental day, this wondrous birth went quietly by in time, and still goes quietly by in our lives, we could easily miss it. In fact, we often do miss it.  Yet, this feast day invites us to ponder the woman whose life modeled most fully how to allow the word of the Lord to be conceived in us and born through us, in our own words and deeds.  Insignificance and lowliness are not barriers to these wonders, they are requirements.

Which is good, because  I do not have much to offer. I am a Catholic who fails a lot in living my faith.  I am a wife who fails a lot at being a wife.  I am a mother, who fails a lot with her children (I have two crying, fighting and whining in my presence right now - thankfully they are only mildly annoying me, so I am ignoring them...).  And, in a culture that is pragmatic, cliquey and materialistic, I am a stay-at-home mother of 8 who writes for an insignificant blog because I perceived a call to do it from Him, no money in it, no huge following, no "career" to validate me - nothing.  I am nothing.  And oh, how I have caused myself and others around me much pain in fighting that truth for most of my life.

Continue reading at Journey to Wisdom.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Should we sit quietly during prayer? (Part 1 of 3)

By Connie Rossini 

A Hermit Praying in the Ruins of a Roman Temple by Hubert Robert

Last week I wrote about St. Teresa’s of Avila’s method of mental prayer. Today I want to discuss misunderstandings about prayer from a different angle. Since we desire contemplation, should we sit still in prayer and wait for it? Should we try to make it happen by quieting our minds? Like last Friday’s post, this series speaks to the differences between Carmelite teaching and Centering Prayer, yoga, and other types of meditation influenced by eastern religions.

Some people falsely equate silence with supernatural (infused) contemplation. They read about the need for interior silence in prayer, and they mistakenly think that if they sit quietly, God will necessarily bestow contemplation upon them. They equate the peace they find in silence to communion with God.

The Vatican has cautioned us about certain methods of prayer

In 1989, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation. Here is what the document says about silence:
Similar methods of meditation, on the other hand, including those which have their starting-point in the words and deeds of Jesus, try as far as possible to put aside everything that is worldly, sense perceptible or conceptually limited. It is thus an attempt to ascend to or immerse oneself in the sphere of the divine, which, as such, is neither terrestrial, sense-perceptible nor capable of conceptualization.” (11)

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Jesus, I trust in You

By Nancy Shuman

The rays of His Light have broken through.  Pierced aridity, shattered a hardening heart, put darkness to flight... and all with a single aspiration uttered again and again. 

"Jesus, I trust in You." 

It is, perhaps, my favorite aspiration; its every word is filled with power.  I said I would let you know how my distracted attempts at prayer were going, and I'm happy to report that I have, in some ways, been praying unaware.  This morning I realized how automatically my heart turns to Our Lord in the midst of everyday life, often without a conscious decision on my part.  I don't think it's a coincidence that this awareness broke through on Mercy Sunday.

Continue reading at Nancy' Blog The Cloistered Heart.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Did Teresa of Avila teach Centering Payer?

By Connie Rossini

St. Teresa's Transverberation by Joefa de Obidos (Wikimedia Commons)

Last winter on social media, I came across another Catholic author who was promoting yoga. Not as an exercise program, but for spiritual growth. I was shocked. I asked her why she wasn’t promoting prayer instead. She answered, “Meditation is prayer!”


Two months ago, my brother forwarded an email from a colleague, asking about Centering Prayer. A friend was pushing it relentlessly. I looked at the website of the Catholic group that promotes Centering Prayer and found this in the FAQs:
This form of prayer was first practiced and taught by the Desert Fathers of Egypt … the Carmelites St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and St. Therese of Lisieux…


The other day a new reader asked in the comments about meditating on Sacred Scripture. “Is this the same as the method of Fr. John Main, who has adapted an Eastern mantra method for Christian meditation?”


I have written a little on this topic before, but I think it’s time to revisit it. Let’s start with Teresa of Avila.

Continue reading at Connie's blog Contemplative Homeschool.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My own "Crown of Thorns"

By Theresa

{my favorite icon: Nymphios which means Bridegroom}

As I was reflecting on my Profession into the Secular Order of the Discalced Carmelites, I was thinking particularly about the name I took when I received the scapular many years ago. I felt inspired to take the name "Theresa of Jesus Crowned with Thorns" since I have a great devotion to this image of Jesus. This image, most of all, pierces my very soul.

I also reflected on how Christ has allowed me to share in this particular suffering during the last 14 years. Through my own depression, anxiety and the chronic insomnia that resulted...Jesus has blessed me with my very own "crown of thorns". This was compounded by the erratic sleep patterns of my youngest daughter and in the last several years, different hours at work that require me to be "on call" through several nights (so I can stay home during the day). Many, many times, it has felt like anything but a "blessing". But it is through this very suffering that God has taught me to rely completely on Him to help me make it through the take care of my family, my home, to work part-time, in other words, to remain faithful to my vocation as wife, mother, and Carmelite.

Please do not get the impression that I did not fail in accepting this suffering. I failed many times...miserably the point of despair. In the depths of severe sleep deprivation, it is not hard for one to lose all hope and feel as though something will snap inside. There must of been a thread...a thin thread...that kept my soul clinging to God with whatever strength was left. And each time, He pulled me out of the depths of despair. I have lost count...

Continue reading at Theresa's blog my desert heart.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Jesus was waiting for us

By Lora Goulet


 With tachycardic angst we found ourselves in a traffic jam. Meanwhile, a midsummer thunderstorm had left it's most beautiful remnant, a glorious rainbow. Then, a labyrinth of one way streets delivered us to the front steps of an old yet elegant Catholic Church. Three doors were locked. The Holy Spirit directed us to the fourth door, hidden behind a little porch's colorful flowers. There a kind Carmelite brother escorted us into the marvelous sanctuary of the Church...

where Jesus was waiting for us to visit Him.

Lora blogs at mommynovenas.