Friday: from the archives

Friday: from the archives

Witnesses to Hope

One of our sisters is currently going into Detroit one day a week to work with the homeless.  As you can imagine, she can easily experience being overwhelmed by the greatness of the needs she encounters.  Any of us can have that same experience: e.g. what difference are we making in the fight against abortion or trying to amend the pending health care package so it will exclude provisions for assisted suicide . . . or “just” trying to instill the truth in a teenager’s mind.

A saying from Mother Teresa comes to mind: “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.” 

Don’t cease to put your drops in, drop by drop.  Each one counts.

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Friday: from the archives

I’m leaving tomorrow for a week long personal retreat at Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey in Dubuque, Iowa.  (See pictures below.)  So, I decided to leave you four suggestions from the archives to read at your leisure this coming week:  Don’t be afraid of being afraid,  Parable of the Talents (1), Parable of the Talents (2), and Parable of the Talents (3).

You’ll be in my prayers.

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Friday: from the archives

The Pharisee becomes the publican

One thing that can cause me discouragement is dealing with besetting sin–you know that thing you keep taking back to confession over and over.  One of mine is critical thinking.  A few years ago I read Sr. Ruth Burrow’s autobiography, and in it she spoke about this being one of her ongoing faults as well.  However, she found what I think is a very clever way to deal with it:

Perceptive, quick to see the flaws in another, I was prone to criticism, finding a certain satisfaction in seeing another at fault as though this, in some way, raised me up.  I knew that no fault would so displease our Lord or stop his grace as this harsh judgment on his children.  I realized I had the mentality of a pharisee but, I thought to myself, if a pharisee had turned to our Lord and admitted his hardness of heart, his crabbed, mean spirit and asked for help, our Lord would have helped him.  So I did the same.  The pharisee became the publican.  I came to realize that temptations to pride, the sin of the pharisee, could make one a publican.  The stone which the builders rejected could become head of the corner.  I tried to use these bad tendencies to grow in humility.

And the Angels danced, don’t you think?

Friday: from the archives

What God Can See

One of my favorite screensavers is a collection of photos from outer space taken by the Hubble Telescope. What is out there, that we can’t see with our naked eye, is utterly beautiful.  Besides those I’ve posted here, there are countless others at their website.  Now let me tell you the reason I really like looking at these photos: because each one is a reminder of what God can see and I can’t.  What that reminds me of is that there is so much going on in my soul, so much that the Spirit of God is doing deep in my soul, that is of great beauty, even though I can’t see it.  Think about that, will you?  And your soul (and mine) is infinitely more beautiful than any of these pictures . . .

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Friday: from the archives


Be prepared for a “punch to the solar plexus” as you read the quote below.  At least, that’s what I experienced when I read it.  A good punch, though.

You would be very ashamed if you knew what the experiences you call setbacks, upheavals, pointless disturbances, and tedious annoyances really are.  You would realize that your complaints about them are nothing more nor less than blasphemies–thought that never occurs to you.  Nothing happens to you except by the will of God, and yet [God’s] beloved children curse it because they do not know it for what it is.   ~Jeanne-Pierre de Caussade

This quote implies the need to grow in the ability to see through what is going on to the hand of God at work, which of course is something only the Holy Spirit can do in us.  Let’s beg Him again to help us to see with His eyes rather than our own, which are blinded so much of the time.


Friday: from the archives

(First posted February 24, 2010)


I have been reading quite a bit of the writings of Isobel Kuhn, a protestant missionary to China right before Communism took over.  The excerpt below is from a book about a married couple and child who were trapped in China at the onset of Communism and not allowed to leave for quite awhile.  Isobel focuses in on the question that can tempt us all at various times in our lives: “If only . . .”  The woman she is writing about is the wife and mother in the family.

“If only that letter had not come, inviting us here.”  What about the “if”?  She got them [a tract she had on “If”] and read:

Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” [Jn 11.32b]”  And He could have been there; He was not far away.  He knew all about it, and He let him die.  I think it was very hard for that woman . . . It is something God could  have made different, if He had chosen, because He has all power; and He has allowed that “if” to be there.

I do not discount the “if” in your life.  No matter what it is . . . Come to the Lord with your “if” and let Him say to you what He said to Martha.  He met her “if” with His “if”!  “Did I not tell you that IF you would believe you would see the glory of God” [Jn 11.40]” The glory of God is to come out of the “if” in your life. . .

Do not be thinking of your “if.”  Make a power out of your “if” for God. . .

Do you know that  light is to fall on your “if” some day?  Then take in the possibilities and say, “Nothing has ever come to me, nothing has ever gone from me, that I shall be better for God by it . . .”

Face the “if” in your life and say, For this I have Jesus.

But there is nothing to be ashamed of if you experience those “ifs” plaguing you, as Isobel Kuhn goes on to write:

[O]ur Lord never scolded Martha for her “if”; nor Mary (who accompanied the same “if” with mute worship, prostrating herself at His feet), but with her, He wept.  Wept at the sorrow which must accompany spiritual growth in our lives: for by suffering He also learned obedience.  (Green Leaf in Drought, p. 36)