Sitting in the darkness

And my final excerpt from Fr. Marc Foley’s book, The Context of Holiness:

Acts of faith are expressed in two ways.  The first is our willingness to jump into the darkness, that is, choosing to trust in God’s guidance as we venture into the unknown.  The second is our willingness to sit in the darkness, which is continuing to do God’s will when our emotional resources are depleted and life seems hollow, meaningless and absurd.  . . .

These are the worst times in our life of faith when viewed from a psychological and emotional perspective.  But from a spiritual vantage point, they are potentially the best of times.  For when we continue to do God’s will without emotional support, our love for God and neighbor grows and is purified.

A great weight off

Another dose of Fr. Marc Foley:

Even though I believe that by the grace of God I am not the man I was thirty-five years ago, for I can honestly say that much emotional healing has taken place in my heart.  Nevertheless, during times of stress, when my old fears and neurotic compulsions well up within me in all their savage intensity, I feel that nothing has changed.  I say to myself, ‘When will I ever be rid of this fear?’

Once I could accept the answer ‘Never’ I felt a great weight taken off my shoulders.  For I was released from the impossible goal of trying to become someone other than myself. ‘Working on yourself’ can be an insidious mask of self-hate for it makes you feel that there is something wrong with you until you are ‘healed.’

I have often told people who come to me for spiritual direction to never make it a goal to conquer their faults.  Simply ask for the grace to resist the temptation at the moment.  Take it for granted that you will always have tendencies toward certain sins and self-destructive behaviors, which will always be opportunities to grow in virtue and rely upon the grace of God.

The battle of your emotions

More from Fr. Marc Foley:

What does it mean to leave childhood?  What does it mean to become an adult?  It means having the strength not to be ruled by one’s emotions or allowing one’s feelings to dictate one’s choices,and possessing the determination to stand upright in the face of an emotional storm. This was the grace given to Thérèse.

Thérèse was not healed of her hypersensitivity.  Rather, she was given the strength to deal with it.  . . .  God did not remove Thérèse from the battle of her emotions but gave her the fortitude to remain in the battle.

. . . . .

Reflect upon your own life . . . What do we suffer in doing God’s will?  Is it not some painful emotion that accompanies our choices?  Is it not fear that makes an act of faith harrowing?  Is it not the sadness of mourning that makes ‘letting go’ difficult?  Is not loneliness or emptiness the price of remaining faithful to one’s vows?  Is not tediousness and boredom the burden of being dutiful to the daily round?

Love and suffering are inseparable.  If we are unwilling to suffer, then we cannot love.”

A blessing

Sr. Dorcee:

Still my wish for you.

Originally posted on Witnesses to Hope:

May you take this poem as a personal blessing to you today:

Jesus’ arm beneath thy head,
Jesus’ love around thee shed,
Jesus’ light to cheer thy way,
Jesus’ ear to hear thee pray,
Jesus’ loving hand to bless
in this weary wilderness.
Jesus first and Jesus last
till earth’s storms are past.
And if aught forgotten be–
may he double it to thee.


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The context of holiness

Digging into my 600 page journal last night and I found some gems from Fr. Marc Foley’s book, The Context of Holiness.  I’ll share them over the next few posts.  Hope they encourage you as they do me.

Becoming an adult does not mean that the deep emotional wounds of childhood disappear. Rather, being an adult means  choosing to make courageous decisions in the face of powerful emotions.


When she [Thérèse] was assigned a job [as novice mistress] that she thought was too much for her to handle, she felt overwhelmed, incompetent, unqualified, and inadequate . . .

However, Thérèse does not apologize for her fears.  She does not berate herself for feeling like a child; rather her fears and insecurities are the context within which she places her trust in God.  It is as if Thérèse is saying to all of us: ‘There are many situations in life that trigger the deep-seated fears of childhood.  I have come to see that this is a normal part of daily life.  I have also come to see that our childhood wounds are not obstacles to our spiritual growth but are in some mysterious manner the path on which we find our way back to God.  The deep-seated fears of my life have forced me to abandon my self-sufficiency and to rely upon the grace of God.’

Is it time to sit down for lunch?

Each tiny act is an extraordinary event, in which heaven is given to us, in which we are able to give heaven to others.

It makes no difference what we do, whether we take in hand a broom or a pen.  Whether we speak or keep silent.  Whether we are sewing or holding a meeting, caring for a sick person or tapping away at a typewriter.

Whatever it is, it’s just the outer shell of an amazing inner reality: the soul’s encounter, renewed at each moment, in which, at each moment, the soul grows in grace and becomes ever more beautiful for her God.

Is the doorbell ringing?  Quick, open the door!  It’s God coming to love us.  Is someone asking us to do something?  Here you are!  . . . it’s God coming to love us.  Is it time to sit down for lunch?  Let’s go–it’s God coming to love us!

(Madeleine Delbrêl)

Praying for laughter

“I was close to giving up on prayer altogether. Instead, I started to pray for laughter.”   These words of Amy Julia Becker remind us that sometimes that is the perfect prayer to pray.  Read her guest post on Ann Voskamp’s blog here.  Good to read even if you don’t feel like giving up on prayer . . . ’cause some day you surely could.

This photo will make you laugh–if nothing else.  Me as a child. :-)

Dbig mouth

“You don’t see Him, but He is there.”

Sr. Dorcee:

Friday . . . from the archives

Originally posted on Witnesses to Hope:

You know, most of the time–as I freely admit in the sidebar–I am writing these posts mainly for myself.  This is a post I actually wrote quite awhile ago, but somehow never posted.  Again, we hear from Amy Carmichael.  This seems to be taken from a letter she wrote in response to someone else’s, someone who was experiencing dryness in prayer, and someone who had sent her some dried myrtle.

You are sitting on the well-side with your Lord who once was weary and sat thus on the well.  You don’t see Him, but He is there.  You are His honoured one: “Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.”

bog myrtle

The bog myrtle you gave me is in my Daily Light, and every day its sweetness is a special little joy to me.  It knows nothing of that.  It only knows it is dried up…

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