Weekly Series on the Soul, Part 46 – Gratitude

+JMJ+ Welcome to part 46 of our weekly series on the soul: a brief personal reflection on gratitude, or the lack thereof. I don’t know about you, but I feel like my soul is starving. I haven’t been able to see my friends or family. I mean, I haven’t been able to be with them. I’ve been busy with this and that and I haven’t had time for music. I don’t mean I haven’t had time to listen to music, I’ve done plenty of that. But I haven’t had time to sit down with a MIDI keyboard or guitar and play. Something always comes up that needs my attention and my time and I never get around to doing what I used to spend hours and hours doing every day: PLAY. You would think that a retired disabled person with no kids or job would have nothing but time on her hands and could play the guitar or anything she wants to, all day every day, but it hasn’t turned out that way.

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Stray Thoughts

+JMJ+ I’m late getting a post written for tonight and it’s nothing fancy shmancy. It’s been dramatic day around here. Started out nice and peaceful but just as I was clearing off the table so I could get out the laptop and write a post and work on the Rosary ebook project, there was a muffled thud kind of sound at the back door. Of all the things I did not expect, I did not expect Major Tom Cat (the semi-feral stray cat I’ve been caring for over the last several months) to knock on the door and ask to be let in. He’s darted in a few times before, but never to stay for long. Miss Lucy Diva Devil (Miniature Dachshund) Dawg usually sees to that. He’s usually content to sleep in the box on the deck, rub against my legs when I feed him, and tolerate it when I pet him, to a point, anyway. 

Stray but not quite feral yet very independent Major Tomcat Jones.
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Surrounded by the Libido dominandi

The Two Cities - St Augustine

+JMJ+ In 2017 an experiment came to a close. A professor at Catholic University of America taught a course on St. Augustine’s City of God. That may not sound very experimental until I tell you that he taught the course on Twitter. Yep, for a few brief months Twitter was a shining light, a surprising beacon of hope in an otherwise nasty, snarling mess of murky mental midgetry and not infrequent lewdness and lunacy. It was a crazy idea and an ingenious one and I loved it. 

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Quiet words in the night, March 20, 2020

Let us take refuge, quote by St Ambrose

“Let us take refuge from this world. You can do this in spirit, even if you are kept here in the body. You can at the same time be here and present to the Lord. Your soul must hold fast to him, you must follow after him in your thoughts, you must tread his ways by faith, not in outward show. You must take refuge in him. He is your refuge and your strength.”

From the treatise on Flight from the World by Saint Ambrose, bishop.
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It’s hard to meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries when your heart is full of joy

I’ve been a Catholic for nearly sixteen years now and I still remember that first Lenten season as a very special and wonderful time in my life. I was received into Holy Mother Church at the Easter Vigil of 1996 and I still get tears in my eyes when I remember it. I loved the Church then. I love her more now. And I love Christ. There was a time when I thought I’d never be able to say that, and that I would never want to say that. But I fell in love with the Church and the Church led me to the Lord. I can truly say now what I said wanting to mean it all those years ago: I want Christ to draw me closer, ever closer to Him. I want to sit at the foot of the Cross and gaze upon Him, upon His beauty, in the sanctuary.

My heart is full of joy and consolations tonight. Ever since I made the commitment to return to Daily Mass, God has been pouring such grace and so many graces into my soul that I can hardly bear it. Grace upon grace upon grace, many consolations. He has deepened my ongoing conversion, He has shown me so many things, taught me so much. At every turn He has shown me something new or has revealed a depth I had not suspected was there. He has led me to places, I’ve been there at exactly the right moment and I know His hand guided me. Oh, when I listen to Him, when I let Him lead me, it is truly marvelous what He will do. He is teaching me, showing me how to become, how to be, a true disciple.

I have so much to learn. Such a long way to go. So many obstacles to remove, barriers to loving Him the way He wants me to love. So far to go…

I know it’s Lent, a time of penance and entering into the sorrowful mysteries of Christ’s Passion. I know I’m supposed to be making a retreat with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, and we’re supposed to be meditating upon those sorrowful mysteries and focusing on them, trying to really enter into them and not feel too much joy right now so that we can feel that joy at Easter with all the more intensity. But at this moment my heart is so full of joy that I cannot keep it from welling up within me and overflowing and bubbling out all over the place.

"Were not our hearts burning within us while He spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?"

And yet at the same time I am aware of so much suffering around me. I’ve been praying at two different abortion mills during Lent (during the 40 Days for Life Spring campaign and at another mill in town that is a year-round vigil site) and so far I’ve only missed three days. I’ve talked with so many people and they’ve shared their stories with me. Stories of opportunities lost and lives lost and dreams turned into nightmares… My heart suffers and breaks along with theirs. And when I hear their stories of turning around, of changed hearts and minds, love wells up within me and I know this must sound sentimental or “emo” or silly to some, but it’s much more than that.

I feel this same love when people don’t agree with me and even look down on me for being religious, being Catholic, being any sort of Christian at all. For being pro-life. For leaving Buddhism to become Catholic. “How could you?!” They think I’ve taken a giant step backward. I know I’ve made a quantum leap forward. If Buddhism helped me grow more compassionate than I already was and gave me insight into myself and others, Catholicism has expanded my heart and mind to such a degree that the world now seems a completely different place than the one I knew before. And every day when I hear the readings at Mass it is as if the Lord were speaking directly to me and every word seems to come straight from the mouth of God. It has all come alive for me. The studying has become living, living has become studying, and I don’t even know if I’ll be able to sleep tonight because the Lord has shown me so much that I feel like I’m on fire.

I hope you’re having a good and fruitful Lent as you prepare for the celebration of Easter. May the Lord richly bless your Lenten efforts and pour out upon you the riches of His grace and give you peace. Amen.

And, Joe, if you’re out there, I haven’t forgotten our conversation or what I said I’d do. I will post what I can as soon as I can.  And even though you told me you don’t pray, know that I do and I’m asking for blessings and graces for you, too. Peace be with you.

Lenten Evening Thoughts – On Love

Christ Knocking at the Door of the HeartChrist is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The One and Only True Way, the Way and the Truth Who gives Life.

But people don’t see this Truth, don’t hear Him, don’t know Him, don’t want to know. And all He wants to do is love us and be loved by us. So simple.

And yet we would rather cause ourselves and others endless pain.

“Love is not loved.”

Saint Francis was right.