Pause

Someone sent me this photo and it’s now the new image held in my mind as I pray one of my favorite psalms, Psalm 19:

The heavens proclaim the glory of God,
and the firmament shows forth the work of his hands. — Psalm 19:1

I will be briefly pausing this weekend from writing as I am involved in leading a retreat. I ask your kind prayers for its fruits to be abundant for the participants.

I will resume on January 20 or 21.

Let me leave you with some bite-sized food for the soul in the form of some of my favorite quotes. Yes, I collect quotes all the time and, as I do with gum, chew on them until all the flavor is gone. I hope you also derive some good from them. And while I’m at it, in the spirit of yesterday’s post, and with paternal pride, let me share my daughter’s newest sketch from last night as well. Thanks for indulging me…

“…we can never attain a maximum love of God with only a minimum knowledge of God” ― Frank J. Sheed

“When the labors of virtue leave you weary and tempt you to return to your life of ease, seek for divine aid to persevere…Let yourself die while striving, rather than living in laziness. For those who die while trying to keep the commandments are just as much martyrs as those who died for Christ’s sake.” – St. Maximos the Confessor

“Examine yourself to see whether you have within you a strong sense of your own self importance, or negatively, whether you have failed to realize that you are nothing. This feeling of self-importance is deeply hidden, but it controls the whole of our life. Its first demand is that everything should be as we wish it, and as soon as this is not so we complain to God and are annoyed with people.” — Saint Theophan the Recluse

“In this Kingdom which is to come and has already begun, ‘being oneself’ is to understand oneself as ‘the other’; and in the ultimate transcendence, it means to tilt the entire material plane toward the Divine Other. The Virgin and St John the Baptist witness to this. They effect such transcendence, the one through the other, and together they integrate the human fullness in Christ. The Office of St John the Baptist makes this explicit: ‘Through the bonds of the communion of prayer you are one; O Mother of the King of all and divine Forerunner, pray together!’” — Paul Evdokimov

“The Church is intolerant in principle because she believes; she is tolerant in practice because she loves. The enemies of the Church are tolerant in principle because they do not believe; they are intolerant in practice because they do not love.” -Rev. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P

“It takes three to make love, not two: you, your spouse, and God. Without God people only succeed in bringing out the worst in one another. Lovers who have nothing else to do but love each other soon find there is nothing else. Without a central loyalty life is unfinished.” ― Fulton J. Sheen

“Evil is conquered by prayer, not by complaining and ranting.” ― Fulton J. Sheen

“Protestants believe that the sacraments are like ladders that God gave to us by which we can climb up to Him. Catholics believe that they are like ladders that God gave to Himself by which He climbs down to us.” ― Peter Kreeft

“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” ― G.K. Chesterton

“Instead of being just a church that welcomes and receives by keeping the doors open, let us try also to be a church that finds new roads, that is able to step outside itself and go to those who do not attend Mass, to those who have quit or are indifferent. The ones who quit sometimes do it for reasons that, if properly understood and assessed, can lead to a return. But that takes audacity and courage.” — Pope Francis

“The Holy Father told me at the beginning: ‘You can sell your desk. You don’t need it. You need to get out of the Vatican. Don’t wait for people to come ringing. You need to go out and look for the poor,'” — Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the Vatican Almoner whose job is handing out alms to needy.

“The artist has a special relationship to beauty. In a very true sense it can be said that beauty is the vocation bestowed on him by the Creator in the gift of ‘artistic talent.’ Artists of the world, may your many different paths all lead to that infinite Ocean of beauty where wonder becomes awe, exhilaration, unspeakable joy.” — Bl. John Paul II

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4 comments on “Pause

  1. Dismas Dancing says:

    Your daughter is quite talented. Please keep sharing. Prayers for you and the retreatants. Also preparing myaelf for one I wil help lead in March.

    The quotations are great. Please keep them coming as well. I’m a huge fan of Venerable Sheen, Peter Kreeft, JPII, Chesterton, and Pope Francis. Haven’t read the others, but will look them up.

    Subsequent to our exchanges a week or so ago re the deaths of a couple of God’s beautiful creatures, I read a couple of pieces on the differences between love and sentimentality (from the CERC info post) that raised an eyebrow. Several weeks ago, I began reading “The Collected works of Saint John of the Cross”. Therein, I found a couple of passages from his work, “The Ascent of Mount Carmel,” that raised both eyebrows. Perhaps I interpreted the great saint’s words in a manner far outside the point he intended to make. But, having shared my thoughts with you earlier about “coincidence, karma, etc.” it occurred to me to ask your opinion. I understand you don’t have the time now–retreat, class, blog prep, et.al. In the future, however, and only if you have the time, I would be interested in sharing the specific passages (four short paragraphs) with a view toward clarifying any misunderstanding of what John of the Cross is saying relative to attaining our salvation in view of “attachment to creatures”. I fully understand that you have a large number of followers and cannot possibly take on all of our questions on an individual basis. So, if you are able, please advise as to how you would want me to provide the info for comment.

    Again, may God’s peace be with you during your retreat. Even if I’m NOT a retreatant, I seem to get as much, or more, from a retreat as those who come to be nearer to God for a few days. I’m sure you do as well. Look forward to your posts when you return.

    Thanks again for your words of wisdom. Always appreciate your point of view.

    • Dismas,
      Happy to reply!
      As I wrote my dissertation on St John of the Cross, I can say a few things. No need to end the passages.
      A few basic points:
      1. St. John is writing an ascetical itinerary for contemplative Carmelites of the Teresian reform whose unique vocation is to renounce the world via poverty-chastity-obedience as a radical sign of the coming Kingdom. Were he to write to laity living in the world, and not the quasi-Religious Beguines and Beghards that were his disciples, his manner of expression would no doubt have been different.
      2. St. John’s approach to detachment from created things is to be understood in terms of rightly ordered relationships and in terms of freedom. St. John calls for radical renunciation of attachment to all created things as a remedial means of re-establishing rightly ordered relationships, i.e. so that things don’t take the place of God or serve as obstacles to living out your vocation’s demands. He also wants to make certain that we don’t become overly attached to anything in a manner that hinders our freedom to do God’s will, to love and to obey God’s will.
      3. Sentimentality, which has been variously treated in our Tradition, usually refers to a disordered emotional attachment to a person, place or thing that stunts our moral and spiritual growth. It does not mean that we should not have emotionally rich and complex relationships with persons, places and things; just that emotion must always be in service to freedom and a well ordered life. As we are sinners, emotions are easily made captive to our sinful habits and can blind us or enslave us or make us recoil from sufferings that must be endured for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Sentimentality can also refer to reducing the spiritual life and Christian faith to Hallmark sentiments, a soft view of religion as the kingdom of niceness.
      4. As much as St. John advises detachment and surrender of all things back to God, he also shares the profound conviction that everything we give back to God we get back in the Age to Come. You need only read his magnificent prayer to “get” that point. He says,
      “Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me. What do you ask, then, and seek, my soul? Yours is all of this, and all is for you. Do not engage yourself in something less, nor pay heed to the crumbs which fall from your Father’s table. Go forth and exult in your Glory! Hide yourself in It and rejoice, and you will obtain the deepest desires of your heart”
      5. Love, which is willing the authentic good of another (or the glory of God), must be served our emotions, and not the other way around. When we are redeemed, and our souls are reconciled and healed within, there is profound harmony between how one feels and how one loves. We don’t look for redemption to make us without feeling. The key is always examining whether or not our feelings about something or someone are serving our Christian vocation or hindering it. So your emotional and your willing love for your dog, Bogey, is an expression of God’s love for creation and of the human desire for the companionship of creation; your aching longing in his death is an expression of the immortal destiny of the whole of the good-creation in Christ; and inasmuch as Bogey served you (and others) in becoming a better human being and disciple of Christ, and gave you authentic joy in the beauty of this world, your sentiments were redeemed and redemptive, worthy of your vocation and need not be renounced in any way.
      6. Here’s a somewhat related article on “the passions” by Orthodox Bishop Kallistos Ware. It has some helpful points: http://www.incommunion.org/2004/10/18/the-passions-enemy-or-friend/
      7. I recommend not reading St John straight out. In fact, in the early-mid 20th century, seminaries for diocesan seminarians forbade reading St. John’s works as they understood he wrote a spiritual way for contemplative friars and nuns, and not for secular priests whose active life would not allow them to live St. John’s vision without harm.
      Hope that helps, Jerry! I love your comments, as I have said. Sorry if this was filled with mistakes, as I had no time to look it over. Blessings, Dr. Tom

  2. Dismas Dancing says:

    Fantastic explanation! And thanks, sincerely, for your detailed analysis: far more than I would have expected, and greatly appreciated.

    Interestingly, before seeing your response, I delved further into some of St John’s writings in the same book (“Collected Works…”) and found them to encompass some of the very things you describe in your beautiful answer. That said, I shall be able to continue with not only his works, but also those of Terese’ of Lisieux (sp?), and St Theresa of Avila (“Interior Castles”) with your words in mind and get far, far more out of them than I might have absent your explanations. So, again, sincere thanks for your taking time to provide such a detailed answer.

    BTW, when I get on a roll with writing here in my home office, my fingers often get twisted such that, when I’m done and go back to edit, I wonder what happened to the typing skills Sr. Mary Jone exacted as the price of being in her Junior typing class. When asked, I always tell folks that the most valuable high school class for me was “Typing 101”, although one might honestly question whether I got anything out of it at all. So whatever your feelings re mistakes, not to worry. I make plenty of my own.

    God’s blessings be with you always.

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