A perspective.

Today I was remembering  a story that Fr. Timothy Gallagher tells.  He speaks about a man who was having a difficult time deciding to exercise.  He finally makes the decision.  The first day he drives to the exercise place, but doesn’t go in.  The second day, the same.  He’s having trouble deciding to continue with his decision.  As he tells this story, many people begin to laugh–probably because we all have been there.  However, Fr. Gallagher surprises us by his view of this situation.  He says, “This is holy ground.  Here is a man who is trying to do the right thing.  This is holy ground.”

A perspective that is well worth thinking about.

What really matters

Is Lent about reaching a greater level of perfection?  Read on.

It does not matter what level of perfection you reach.  What others think or don’t think of how much you does not matter, not does your judgment of yourself.  All that matters if that mercy has taken you for ever, for the very origin of your existence.  Mercy called you to love, because mercy loved you.

Holiness means always affirming–before everything else, in everything else–the embrace of the Father, the merciful, pitying movement of Christ, his gesture, that is he himself, independent of everything that stirs and has the appearance of life in us. . . .

We must become more and more aware of God’s covenant with us, of life as God’s involvement with us, and therefore of the absolute and unmistakable importance of the irrational influence of our outbursts, of our projects.

Nothingness, destruction, exile is the life proper to the world, especially our life, without this covenant, which remains in me even in the destruction and in the desolation caused by my wicked heart.  Grace holds fast because God leads me to discover what he is and to understand that from my destruction he makes something new bud forth–an identification with him and the Father.

(Servant of God Luigi Giussani)

The little everyday frustrations

Advice from St. Francis de Sales that is always timely–and contains one of his best jewels:

“Persevere in overcoming yourself in the little everyday frustrations that bother you; let your best efforts be directed there.  God wishes nothing else of you at present, so don’t waste time doing anything else.  Don’t sow your desires in someone else’s garden; just cultivate your own as best you can; don’t long to be other than what you are, but desire to be thoroughly what you are.  Direct your thoughts to being very good at that and to bearing the crosses, little or great, that you will find there.  Believe me, this is the most important and the least understood point in the spiritual life.  We all love what is according to our taste; few people like what is according to their duty or to God’s liking.  (Letters of Spiritual Direction)

My world is so small

A beautiful meditation for all of you mothers out there, from this month’s Magnificat:

“Set your stakes on great ideals, the ideals that enlarge the heart,” Pope Francis exhorted young people early in his pontificate.

This call to greatness sometimes seems out of place here in the trenches of raising two young children.  Still, his words resonate with me.  My world is so small, and my routines are predictable and contained, but I’ve never felt my heart to be so enlarged as now–through long nights and lonely days of painful stretching, yes, but also through the simple bliss of playing raucously with my children on the floor.

I’m likewise drawn to the image of high stakes, of facing life with boldness and conviction.

There are times I feel that having a child is a sheer act of hope, a statement that, yes, we do believe the world is good and worth redeeming, so much so that we will bring children into it–not to hide in our bunkers, but to teach them to bring Christ’s love to where it’s needed most.  And constantly I’m reminded how the sacrifices of parenthood and marriage fly in the face of a world so taken by self-centeredness, guardedness, and materialism.  Our yes at the altar is repeated every day: to each other, to the needy toddler, to the invitation to allow our hearts to be stretched and filled.

The call to greatness, to holiness, is for all of us, regardless of how limited our spheres may seem.  I can’t answer for others, but what I’m finding is that underlying my small world of home and family is something timeless, expansive, and beautiful.  And that’s something to set my stakes on.

~Elizabeth Hansen

The duty to be you

One of the goals of the Christian life is to become more and more you, your true self.  I just posted last week about our desire to be loved for ourselves.  Here is another piece by a wonderful writer, Dr. Edward Mulholland, touching on the same theme.

Tim Wu, a Columbia law professor, has written an interesting piece in The New Yorker about technology. Advances in technology, it appears, don’t automatically signal advances in humanity.  He concludes noting that “The technology industry, which does so much to define us, has a duty to cater to our more complete selves rather than just our narrow interests.”  I was struck by the expression “our more complete selves.”

This past weekend a few hundred high school seniors came to Benedictine College to compete for the Presidential Scholarship.  They are an impressive group. Faced with a tough day of essays and interviews, the advice that I often given is “just be yourself.” But it struck me, as I heard myself saying this, that “being ourselves” is one of the most monumental challenges imaginable. It is, in fact, the purpose of our lives, and how we give glory to God.

You can read the rest here.

In the shadows and the corners

I’m reading Fr. Donald Haggerty’s Contemplative Provocations and I keep getting stuck at each paragraph, like this one:

The inclination to hiddenness is a quiet mark of holiness.  It corresponds to the secrecy of relations between a soul and God.  For it seems to be God’s consistent habit with souls to conceal himself even when they are close to him.  We can surmise that the saints came to know well this divine preference for concealment.  It added intensity to their seeking after God in his many disguises.  Rather than frustrating them, the divine hiding provoked them with intense longings.  And it aroused in them a desire for their own concealment, not from God, but from the eyes of others, so that they might remain among the unknown and the recognized.  If we want to find holiness, the first place to search is in the shadows and corners.