With regret I need to take a break from posting, as commitments press on all sides. God willing, I hope to return on June 15. I invite you to please join me again then. Let us pray for one another.
And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. — The fox to the prince in Le Petit Prince
My mission in writing this Blog is to search with you for the heart of the world. What’s that heart? The Catechism (#25) says it eloquently:
The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love.
To that effect, let me offer you some food to chew on in your heart. I will leave you with 4 meaty quotes, and one parting smile.
I was speaking the other day to an elderly woman at [my parish,] who’s lived as a member of the parish since childhood. What a rare bird! And she’s a character. She’s a daily Mass goer, involved in a number of social outreach programs. She’s someone you want to talk to when you are looking for a long-viewed and unvarnished opinion. She said some remarkable things to me the other day, when I mentioned to her about how difficult it was to get people involved in parish life when they’re always coming and going. You gotta hear this. Feel free to use it. It went something like this: “The problem these days is that people have too much to do. But what are they doing? They don’t have time for a cup of tea. They can’t spend ten minutes with you without reaching for their phone to see the latest update. They’re so busy keeping up with everyone that they don’t have real time for anyone. They’ve lost their patience with staying too long with the same people. You see, when you stay ‘too’ long with the same people you find out they’re a petty bunch. They’re annoying. Get on your nerves, you see. And then you see your own pettiness that they bring out of you. Not pretty. But if you don’t stick with them long enough to squirm, I think, Father, you’ll never learn love. Not real love. Love with dirt under the nails. Love means staying a long time with the same annoying people. It’s easy to flit from person to person or parish to parish. You never have to dig deep. Keeping the time short enough each time lets you hide from the hard work of love. The longer you spend time with people, the more times you have to forgive them. Ask forgiveness. You have to be patient. Put up with a lot. Mable, she’s our gossip. Henry snorts and coughs in the pew behind me. Betty’s the complainer. Larry’s the talker. A motley crew, all of them! But I love them all. They’re family. Didn’t choose ’em! I always say if they’re good enough to be God’s family, they’re good enough for me. So, Father, guess I’m not much help. Don’t know if you can change things these days. Only the good Lord can. But maybe it’d do some good if you gave a sermon now and again about what’s real love. I mean, love with staying power. Love means sticking around with people you don’t like. And if you do it long enough you just may learn, even if you still don’t like them, you’ve learned to love them. And learning to love, isn’t that the whole idea?”— Letter from a priest friend
…it is more important than ever for us to bear witness to truth of Christ’s love. It’s not necessary for us to march or protest or organize boycotts. It’s not necessary for us to form Catholic ghettos and keep the world from polluting the purity of our truth. Christ’s love and truth do not need our protection. We need his protection, that is, we need the protection that divine love and truth afford us. Not protection from the world. But protection from our own inclinations to borrow trouble and beg for compromise. We need to be protected from our own base longings to be included, to be applauded, to be honored by the world. The temptation for us now – right here in 2015 America – is to avoid being seen as backward-looking, ignorant, knuckle-dragging rednecks who just won’t “get with the times.” The more colorful the names we’re called, the harder we must love as Christ loves us. The heavier the fines, the harder we must love as Christ loves us. The longer we spend in the jail, the harder we must love as Christ loves us. The bloodier the violence (if we ever come to that!), the harder we must love as Christ loves us. We don’t love God and one another as Christ loves us in order to win the fight. The fight is won. We love b/c Christ loves us. And by loving him – even imperfectly – we become more and more like him. — Fr. Philip Neri Powell, O.P.
The Scriptures remind us, “If any one says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” … “Which means we love God only as much as we love the person we like the least.” — Servant of God Dorothy Day
You cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other. Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of him who gives and kindles joy in the heart of him who receives. All condemnation is from the devil. Never condemn each other. We condemn others only because we shun knowing ourselves. When we gaze at our own failings, we see such a swamp that nothing in another can equal it. That is why we turn away, and make much of the faults of others. Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner peace. Keep silent, refrain from judgement. This will raise you above the deadly arrows of slander, insult and outrage and will shield your glowing hearts against all evil. Acquire the spirit of peace and a thousand souls around you will be saved. – St Seraphim of Sarov
The smile: a re-post of a music video my tech-genius son, Michael, made for me. Once I shared with him an idea I had about splicing a 23 second video clip I’d seen on the news with a song I like. He said, “sure,” and in a matter of minutes it was done. Here’s the result: