The self-gift of God

None of us are excluded from God’s gift of Himself.

Creation is shot through with the self-gift of God . . . Grace is the initiative of God, his self-offer that is prior to any kind of movement towards him by the creature.  It is sheer gift, bestowed wherever human beings do not finally close themselves against him and refuse his love.

The gift of God is for the poor, the needy, the empty.  It is for those who are too poor to recognize or identify their need.  It is for those who do know their need, and hunger and thirst for him.  It is for those who do not even suspect the depth of tenderness with which they are loved, yet are potentially open.  God is most known as God when he gives to the undeserving, when he fills the hungry with good things, lifts up the downtrodden, transforms hopeless situations and brings life out of death.  His gift is most typically not the crowning of our achievements, but wealth for the bankrupt and power at the service of the weak. (Maria Boulding)

Love found me needing Him

Originally posted on Witnesses to Hope:

Today’s poem comes from Amy Carmichael:

Love, travelling in the greatness of His strength,
   Found me alone,
Footsore and tired by the journey's length,
   Though I had known
All the long way many a kindly air,
And flowers had blossomed for me everywhere.

And yet Love found me needing Him.  He stayed;
   Love stayed by me.
"Let not your heart be troubled or dismayed,
   My child," said He.
Slipped from me then, all troubles, all alarms,
For Love had gathered me into His arms.

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Christ knows the depths of the human heart


Christ knows the depths of the human heart, and despite all the wretchedness it can harbor, he always sees its capacity for good. ‘Jesus’ look penetrates the veils of human passions and reaches the depths of the human heart, where one is alone, poor, and naked’ (Karl Adam).  He understands and encourages us to continue struggling.  His loving look sees our immense possibilities for good and also the weaknesses that are so often a reality in our lives.  Christ knows what is within man. ‘He alone knows it!’ (St. John Paul II) And nevertheless he asks us to follow him: ‘Come, follow me’ (Mt 4.19). . . .

The spiritual life of any saint is the story of God’s love.  This love impels forward every effort towards sanctity and lies at the very heart of all spiritual accompaniment.  At times some people, if they have not been fully faithful to our God, may think he is upset and angry with them, and the devil makes use of this falsehood to distance them from God when their need is greatest to draw close to him.  It is then that they need to recall with special force the parables of divine mercy: the prodigal son, the lost sheep, and the lost coin that brings joy when found.

We often need to remind souls that every moment is appropriate for beginning again with trust.  Our Lord does not want anyone to be cast down by the negative experience of past weaknesses and sins.  (Francis Fernandez-Carvajal)


“Do Thou For Me”

Originally posted on Witnesses to Hope:

Amy Carmichael’s note on this poem of hers: “Ps 109.21.  A prayer that may be unfathomable comfort to the ill and tired: ‘Do Thou for them, for him, for her, O God the Lord.’  When one cannot pray minutely or powerfully, this prayer suffices.  We need not tell Love what to do; Love knows.”  God knows better than we what is best for those we love.  Here Amy is simply encouraging us to trust Him who knows how to love best.

Do Thou For Me

Do Thou for me, O God the Lord,
Do Thou for me.
I need not toil to find the word
That carefully
Unfolds my prayer and offers it,
My God, to Thee.

It is enough that Thou wilt do,
And wilt not tire,
Wilt lead by cloud, all the night through
By light of fire,
Till Thou has perfected in me
Thy heart’s desire.


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Tender words

Spoken by Pope Francis in his address to the U.S. Bishops on September 23, 2015:

Whenever a hand reaches out to do good or to show the love of Christ, to dry a tear or bring comfort to the lonely, to show the way to one who is lost or to console a broken heart, to help the fallen or to teach those thirsting for the truth, to forgive or to offer a new start in God . . . know that the Pope is at your side and supports you.   He puts his hand on your own, a hand wrinkled with age, but by God’s grace still able to support you.

To ‘be perfect’

“The good news about the word ‘perfect’ as used in the New Testament is that it is not a scary word, so much as a scary translation.  The word that has been translated as ‘perfect’ does not mean to set forth an impossible goal, or the perfectionism that would have me strive for it at any cost.  It is taken from a Latin word meaning complete, entire, full-grown.  To those who originally heard it, the word would convey ‘mature’ rather than what we mean today by perfect.

“To ‘be perfect,’ in the sense that Jesus means it, is to make room for growth, for the changes that bring us to maturity, to ripeness.  To mature is to lose adolescent self-consciousness so as to be able to make a gift of oneself…”

“Perfection, in a Christian sense, means becoming mature enough to give ourselves to others.  Whatever we have, no matter how little it seems, is something that can be shared with those who are poorer.  This sort of perfection demands that we become fully ourselves as God would have us: mature, ripe, full, ready for what befalls us, for whatever is to come.”

~Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace

When there are no windows


A repost from Kristen Strong over at Ann Voskamp’s blog:


I kissed my eight-year-old daughter Faith on the forehead as she drifted off to sleep, wishing like crazy we were in her cozy lavender bedroom rather than this sterile, mint-green operating room.

If only she were drifting off to sleep before a play date with friends instead of drifting off to sleep before a date with a surgeon who would operate on her spine to correct her broken neck.

I continued to whisper, “Jesus is here, Jesus is here,” long after she closed her eyes.

I said it for me as much as for her.

I carefully got off her gurney, thankful the children’s hospital in our town let me ride on it with Faith right through the swinging metal doors to the OR.

After the doctor and nurses gave gentle assurances about my girl’s care, I walked with heavy steps back through the oversized doors into the steady, open arms of my husband David.

We plodded along in a half hug down the hall toward the waiting room of the hospital.

After we arrived and David held the door open for me, I stepped in and quickly scanned the room.

And that’s when my knee-high brown boots stopped dead in their tracks. My eyes darted around the waiting room again, and I stood there slack-jawed while shaking my head back and forth.

David, noticing my frozen posture and expression, came up next to me. “What’s wrong?” he asked, following my eyes around to the room.

“What’s wrong?” I repeated, annoyed he was missing the obvious. “It’s . . . it’s this room, David!” I stammered, whirling in a circle and pointing.

“Just look! There are no windows in this room!”

Read the rest here.

Kintsugi: Gold Repair of Ceramic Faults

Sr. Dorcee:

This is absolutely fascinating and an excellent and true image of how God is with us.

Originally posted on dicklehman:




In 1999 I traveled to Japan to participate in several exhibitions hosted by my dear friend Mr. Shiho Kanzaki.  I arrived with gifts for all the many people that were required to make this amazing opportunity a reality for me.


After I arrived and was unpacking, I discovered that 4 of the side-fired cups that I’d brought as gifts had been broken by the baggage-handling process.  Without a thought I dumped them into the waste basket in my room.  Sometime later that week, someone came to my room and took out the trash.  


After a remarkable 6 weeks in Shigaraki, two exhibitions, travel,  fine food, new friends…my visit came to an end.


As often happens there were some “parting gifts” given by me to my hosts; and some gifts were given to me by my hosts.  Among the parting gifts I received, I discovered…

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Psalms and hymns we know by heart

Sr. Dorcee:

Friday: from the archives

Originally posted on Witnesses to Hope:

Amy Carmichael starts this piece by asking: “Do you ever find prayer difficult because of tiredness or dryness?”  If your answer is yes, read on.

Ps 31.5  Into Your hands I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.

Do you ever find prayer difficult because of tiredness or dryness?  When that is so, it is an immense help to let the Psalms and hymns we know by heart say themselves or sing themselves inside us.  This is possible anywhere and at any time.

We can’t be mistaken in using this easy, open way of prayer, for our Lord Jesus used it.  His very last prayer, when He was far too tired to pray as He usually did, was Psalm 31.5.  Every Jewish mother used to teach her child to say those words as a good-night prayer.

Hymns, little prayer-songs of our own, even the…

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The Potter’s Clay

Sr. Dorcee:

I’ve always been moved by the comparison of our God to a potter who takes such care to shape–and reshape–us. I think you’ll be moved by this post by Emily Gibson and by the beautiful and fascinating video. Spend some time with it.

Originally posted on Barnstorming:


Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
Isaiah 64:8

So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel.But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
Jeremiah 18:3-4

The best pottery is never perfect, becoming an original handmade and unique piece, infused with the potter’s eye and energy, the pressure of fingers and palm, a design coming from the heart of the potter.

I had the joy this morning of virtually revisiting a special place in Japan that is a potter’s paradise, Mashiko village, thanks to a website by artist and art teacher Bette Vander Haak. The Vander Haaks took us there in 2012, and I was too overwhelmed by…

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