A kind twist

Friday: from the archives

Witnesses to Hope

It’s time for Amy Carmichael:

“Sir Robert Ball, the astronomer, began when he was old to write the story of his life.  He made this rule for himself: ‘Try to give everything narrated a kind twist.'”

How would our lives look to us if we practiced doing that?

She goes on to say:

“Isn’t that such a beautiful rule?  Let us ask the Spirit of God to search us about this matter of giving a ‘kind twist’ to what others say and do.”

Pray for me, and I’ll pray for you.

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On hope that doesn’t disappoint

Pope Francis gives us wonderful thoughts about hope today in his General Audience.  If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, at least read the last paragraph.

The Holy Father’s Catechesis

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

As children we are taught that it is not a good thing to boast. In my land, we call those who boast “peacocks.” And that is right, because to boast of what one is or of what one has, in addition to being a certain pride, also betrays a lack of respect in relations with others, especially towards those who are more unfortunate than us. In this passage of the Letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul surprises us, in as much as for a good two times he exhorts us to boast. Hence, of what is it right to boast? — because if he exhorts us to boast, it is right to boast of something. And how is it possible to do this without offending, others, without excluding anyone?

In the first case, we are invited to boast of the abundance of grace of which we are pervaded in Jesus Christ, through faith. Paul wants to make us understand that, if we learn to read everything in the light of the Holy Spirit, we realize that everything is grace! Everything is gift! In fact, if we pay attention, to act – in history as well as in our life – it is not only us but first of all God <who acts>. He is the absolute protagonist, who creates everything as a gift of love, who weaves the plot of his plan of salvation and who brings it to fulfilment for us in His Son Jesus. We are asked to acknowledge all this, to receive it with gratitude and to make it become a motive of praise, of blessing and of great joy. If we do this, we are in peace with God and we experience freedom. And this peace is then extended to all environments and to all relations of our life: we are in peace with ourselves, we are in peace with the family, with our community, at work and with the persons we meet every day on our path.

However, Paul exhorts us to boast also in tribulations. This is not easy to understand. This is more difficult for us and it might seem to have nothing to do with the condition of peace just described. Instead, it constitutes the most authentic, the truest presupposition. In fact, the peace that the Lord offers and guarantees to us is not understood as the absence of worries, disappointments, failings, of motives of suffering. If it were so, should we succeed in being in peace that moment would soon end and we would fall inevitably into dejection. Instead, the peace that flows from faith is a gift: it is the grace of experiencing that God loves us and is always beside us; He does not leave us alone not even for an instant of our life. And, as the Apostle states, this generates patience, because we know that, also in the harshest and most distressing moments, the mercy and goodness of the Lord are greater than anything and nothing will tear us from His hands and from communion with Him.

See then why Christian hope is solid, see that it does not disappoint. It never disappoints. Hope does not disappoint! It is not founded on what we can do or be, and even less so on what we can believe. Its foundation, that is, the foundation of Christian hope is what is most faithful and certain that can be, namely the love that God Himself has for each one of us. It is easy to say: God loves us. We all say it. But think a moment: is every one of us capable of saying: I am certain that God loves me? It is not so easy to say it, but it is true. It is a good exercise to say to oneself: God loves me. This is the root of our security, the root of hope. And the Lord has effused His Spirit abundantly in our hearts as maker and guarantor, precisely so that it can nourish faith within us and keep this hope alive. And this certainty: God loves me. “But in this awful moment?” – God loves me. “And <He loves> me who have done this bad and evil thing?” – God loves me. No one takes this certainty away. And we should repeat it as a prayer: God loves me. I am certain that God loves me. I am certain that God loves me. Now we understand why the Apostle Paul exhorts us to boast always of all this. I boast of the love of God because He loves me. The hope we have been given does not separate us from others, and even less so does it lead us to discredit and marginalize them. Instead, it is an extraordinary gift of which we are called to make ourselves “channels” for all, with humility and simplicity. And then our greatest boast will be that of having as Father a God who does not have preferences, who does not exclude anyone, but who opens His house to all human beings, beginning with the least and the estranged, so that as His children we learn to console and support one another. And do not forget: hope does not disappoint.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

On the top of my pile

I am known for surrounding myself with piles of books.  Some are old friends, but most are anticipated new friends.  I thought I would start regularly posting about what I’m reading right now–in case you want to make friends with any of these books.  Here’s what’s there at the moment . . .

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Far too many Catholics have had painful experiences in the Church, and many have simply opted to walk away.

Fr. Berg opens his book with the story of the painful and life-changing crisis he experienced in the Church that ultimately, against the odds, led him to love the Church more intensely notwithstanding the sinfulness of its members.

Along with his own story, Fr. Berg intertwines the stories of other Catholics who have themselves experienced life-changing hurts, but who, in Jesus, found healing.

Riding the momentum of the Year of Mercy, Fr. Berg offers these reflections as a necessary examination of conscience, and a clarion call to Catholics to become healers of an ailing inner culture of our Church, to heed Pope Francis s call to incite a revolution of tenderness in our faith communities.

Ultimately, this book is about hope for wounded believers: If you have been hurt in the Church, Jesus can take you on a journey through your wounds, a journey of healing that will make you an even better human being, a better Christian, and a better disciple.

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The first chapter alone is so worth reading.  An excellent description of how to love/accompany/witness to someone dealing with sexual orientation issues.

Rosaria, by the standards of many, was living a very good life. She had a tenured position at a large university in a field for which she cared deeply. She owned two homes with her partner, in which they provided hospitality to students and activists that were looking to make a difference in the world. In the community, Rosaria was involved in volunteer work. At the university, she was a respected advisor of students and her department’s curriculum. 

Then, in her late 30’s, Rosaria encountered something that turned her world upside down–the idea that Christianity, a religion she had regarded as problematic and sometimes downright damaging, might be right about who God was. That idea seemed to fly in the face of the people and causes that she most loved. What follows is a story of what she describes as a train wreck at the hand of the supernatural. These are her secret thoughts about those events, written as only a reflective English professor could.

And just for fun.  I LOVE these books.  Much to be learned from Mma Ramotswe!

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Let not your heart be troubled

Every once in awhile, I just have to pull out something by Amy Carmichael and share it with you again. Today was one of those days.

Witnesses to Hope

Is your heart troubled by some way that you have failed the Lord?  Amy Carmichael shows us the truth about how the Lord looks upon our failings:

John 13.38:  Jesus answered him, . . . The cock shall not crow until you have denied Me three times.

John 14.1: Let not your heart be troubled.

“After speaking of Peter’s fall, which He foresaw, our dear Lord immediately says, Let not your heart be troubled.  He saw across that day of grief to the restoration that would follow.  His eyes were not fixed on the sad interruption to fellowship and joy, but on the hour when Peter would be back in love again, never again to grieve his Lord like that.  And so to the surprised and surely greatly troubled little company He said, Let not your heart be troubled.

“Most of us have things which would naturally greatly trouble us…

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