I offer this stretch of path

I would like to introduce you to a Professor of mine, Dr. Antony Lilles.  (“Catholic theologian, married father of three, living in Colorado since 1992.  Having completed doctoral studies in ’98, his research is dedicated to the wisdom of the saints and mystics of the Church.  He has recently published Hidden Mountain Secret Garden, Omaha: Discerning Hearts (2012).”   You can follow him on his blog: Beginning to Pray.

Dr. Lilles is currently walking the Way of St. James in Spain.  Here is one of his reflections, written yesterday.  In it he gives some excellent examples of how to intercede in the midst of daily life:

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Faith on the Way

What does a pilgrim find in Spain?
A land of paradox.   Extremely modern communist style apartments can rise above very ancient and warmer architectural forms on the same street.  Miles of the old primitive path are interrupted by brand new roads or in other places bordered by electric fences (a deterrent for livestock or pilgrims or both).   Beautiful silence is sometimes swallowed by the droning of “power generating” windmills.  The spirit of Don Quixote and the spirit of materialism, idealism and cynicism, faith and skepticism, ancient Catholicism and new religions of drug culture, simplicity of rural living and the complexity of over technologized souls, joy and sorrow; all of these movements one picks up on while treading the via primitiva.
Asturias was very beautiful but the chapels and sanctuaries were all locked or else in ruins.   This made finding a place for daily mass very difficult and, really, our greatest hardship.  Now in Galacia, chapels and masses are a little more available.
The other hardship which we are still contending with is the walk itself … About 18 miles a day.  The body adjusts to this.   And there are only two days to go.  Still, more than half way and drawing closer to Santiago, I still find the last three miles always a little more difficult, but because of that, the very best for prayer.
It is not a deep mental prayer of insight, or or delving introspection, but a prayer of intercession that comes easiest, “I offer this hundred yards  in reparation for the scandal I caused in the hearts of others…please let them know your love and draw them close to you even in the face of my failure to witness- because no matter how great my sin, your love is greater.”
Or else “remember my friend who died.  His life was filled with so much ambiguity and difficulty, but you were with him through it all. Now, as he stands before you, let this little act of love I offer with my feet open up the floodgates of your mercy on him.”
Or again, “I offer this stretch of path in thanksgiving for all the blessings you have lavished on meand my family.  I did nothing to deserve them.  But you blessed us anyway.  Let these steps be for your glory …”
The one phrase however that returns time and again is “Into your hands I commend my spirit.  With this step, I give myself to you completely, I abandon myself to you, with all the love of my heart, with total confidence, for you are my Father.”
As I wrote this reflection in the Albergue, in the room next to me, graduate student Lucy Ridsdale’s voice echoed over the 1970s pop song playing on the local radio. It was paradox: sachrine tunes suddenly overshadowed by something deeper and richer, and more fully human.  Everyone stopped.  The radio was turned off.  One young man broke down in tears.
I will post that recording in the future but here is a rendition of the chant dedicated to St James, sung in Santiago almost 800 years ago, when Saint Francis trod this path during another age of paradox and contradiction, penance and renewal: O adiutor omnium seculorum

Be as a child with God

An excellent description of our relationship with God:

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A child has no dissimulation, no concealment.  As soon as he is capable of deceit he is no longer a child.  In like manner, nothing can equal the openness and candor of the spiritual child. He does not compose his exterior; his recollection has nothing constrained about it; his actions, his conversation, his manners, everything in him is simple and natural; when he says anything, he really thinks it; when he offers anything he wishes to give it; when he promises anything, he will keep his promise.  He does not seek to appear different to what he really is, nor to hide his faults; he says what is good and what is evil of himself with the same simplicity, and he has no reserve whatever with those to whom he ought to disclose the state of his soul.

A child shows his love with artless innocence: everything in him expresses the feelings of his heart, and he is all the more touching and persuasive because there is nothing studied about him.  It is the same with the spiritual child, when he wishes to show his love for God and his charity for his neighbor.  He goes to God simply, without preparation; he says to God without set formulas or choice of words all that his loving heart suggests to him; he knows no other method of prayer than to keep himself in the presence of God, to look at God, to listen to him, to possess him, to tell him all the feelings with which grace inspires him, sometimes in words, but more often without speaking at all.

(Father Jean-Nicolas Grou)

My own heart

My own heart let me more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; not live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet.
I cast for comfort I can no more get
By groping round my comfortless, than blind
Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find
Thirst’s all-in-all in all a world of wet.

Soul, self; come, poor Jackself, I do advise
You, jaded, let be; call off thoughts awhile
Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; let joy size
At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile
‘s not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather — as skies
Betweenpie mountains — lights a lovely mile.

~Gerard Manley Hopkins

“The heart can fold upon it”

Sr. Dorcee:

Friday: from the archives

Originally posted on Wonder and Beauty:

To the eye that sees, littlness reveals infitnitely more than vastness.  God is known more truly by a little finite creature through the contemplation of a snowdrop than through the contemplation of the universe.  Very soon the intellect staggers before immensity, it is used up exhausted, only the rare heart responds to it all.  but the inward eye fills with light when it contemplates a little thing, the heart can fold upon it, and so the heart expands and the mind does not wither, but puts out petal upon lovely petal of thought. . . .

From the universe we learn that God is infinite, that we cannot compass him at all.  From such things as insects, flies, little frogs, mice and flowers we learn that to us he is something else.  He is Father, brother, child and friend!

If you ever had a little green tree frog and watched him puffing…

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Laying bricks

Sr. Dorcee:

Friday: from the archives

Originally posted on Witnesses to Hope:

We run two small homes for older adults who are no longer capable of living alone and who have limited support and no resources.  We are only able to house 6-7 residents at one time.  There are many more elderly who could use our help.  We also do foster care for children in need.  We have cared for 26 children since we began this endeavor in 1992.  But there are millions of children around the world who are in great need.

“People say, ‘What is the sense of our small effort?’  They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time.'” (Servant of God Dorothy Day)

“The whole work is only a drop in the ocean.  But if we don’t put the drop in, the ocean would be one drop less.” (Bl Teresa of Calcutta)

So we just lay our bricks, take…

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On Corpus Christi

On Corpus Christi, Before the Blessed Sacrament

You languish in the darkness like
a criminal imprisoned
a sick man quarantined
an eccentric, babbling uncle, hid away.

Are they so afraid of You?
Are we so ashamed of You?
This is Your pageant day!

Where are Your holy calvacades?
Your solemn ranks of soldiers
with their Captain at their head?
Your festal, fair procession
winding through the curious crowds
who marvel at the sacred spectacle?

In the quiet I hear echoes
from the stones of ancient streets
crying out with praise to shame us
for our silence.
In the blackness I see faces
of a multitude of children
looking down the ages, wondering
to see so plain a feast.

For the glory due Your name,
how long, O Lord,
must You wait?

 

~Paul Thigpen