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Private Vows in The Laity/Spirituality


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Reflection - St Rose of Viterbo

"The list of Franciscan saints seems to have quite a few men and women who accomplished nothing very extraordinary. Rose is one of them. She did not influence popes and kings, did not multiply bread for the hungry, and never established the religious order of her dreams. But she made a place in her life for God’s grace, and like Saint Francis before her, saw death as the gateway to new life."

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The above is an audio reading of the renowned spiritual classic by Fr Jean-Pierre de Caussade.   It is available in text form: https://ccel.org/d/decaussade/abandonment/cache/abandonment.pdf



Waiting for God's Best




We live in an “on-demand” culture.  Lattes at lightning speed; 24/7 package delivery; and digital meetings any time, any place.  What we want, we can get, and in a hurry.

Except with God.

Our God is not an “on-demand” God.  Our God is a demanding God.  He desires to bless us, and His compassionate Heart knows the best way.  He has certain prerequisites to releasing His blessings, and a main one, I have found, is surrender to His will and His timing.

I call this surrender “being on the Abandonment Bus.”  Now, there is no one on this bus except you and the driver, God.  The bus is not a popular vehicle, and you cannot be forced to climb aboard.  Most people avoid it because with riding this bus comes a loss of control.  We sit in the middle row, staring out the window at all the wonderful things we wanted, watching God drive right past them.

But our understanding is often too limited, our expectations too low, in comparison with what God has planned.  When we allow Our Lord to take the driver’s seat in our lives, in complete submission to His Will, His destination is not the end of the line.  It is the beginning of the journey.  He often delays, and even detours, only to manifest His sovereign wisdom and bestow His best.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and rely not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He shall direct your paths.”  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

I used to think that idols and strongholds were Old Testament artifacts. We don’t worship idols in 2021, right? Wrong.  We often make an idol of our own understanding. We know the way. We have the plan. If only the Lord would be a better listener, if only He delivered as efficiently as Amazon, we would be getting somewhere.

But Our God is more amesome than that. And He wants us to know it.

He led the Israelites on a circuitous route through the desert which ended at an impasse. Sound like your life story?

“God did not lead them along the main road. . .even though it was the shortest route to the Promised Land. . . .God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.”  (Exodus 13:17-18)

Lord, we cry out, You took a wrong turn!  Now the way forward is blocked!  I was supposed to get that blessing over there. My path was set. The healing was supposed to be a long time ago.  I have prayed and believed for years. My deliverance from bondage is overdue. But, instead, we wait.

So, what are we waiting to receive? God’s best.

God does not want us to settle for a secondary good that will ultimately disappoint us. Like the Israelites, we are often satisfied with second best. This is fine, Lord.  We can handle this amount of pain. The slavery isn’t so bad. But He wants to part our Red Sea. He wants to move our mountain, precisely because we cannot.

If I finagle my own blessings, and micro-manage the mergers, and buy my own Christmas presents, then I may have what I want. But it may not be what God wants. And, at times, these are two completely different things.

We often avoid abandonment because we do not know where God is leading.  It can take a long time to reach the destination Our Lord has chosen.  Delays terrify us. So, we drive ourselves.

But our faith’s patrimony is filled with astounding individuals who waited for God’s best:

St. Anne – a lifetime of waiting, so she could be given not just a little girl, but the Mother of God for her daughter.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux – a closed door every time she knocked at Carmel, and a “just wait” from the Holy Father, so she could become Love itself in the heart of the Church.

St. Joseph – a humiliating rejection of no room after no room for his expectant family, so he could shelter the Incarnation in the quiet sanctity of the Holy Grotto.

God delights in a faithfulness beyond anything we could fathom: “So that all who see this miracle will understand what it means – that it is the Lord who has done this.” (Isaiah 41:20)

As we celebrate the Feasts of August, including such spiritual giants as St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe and St. Monica, watch the Lord’s Hand on their lives.  Kolbe lost everything, printing press, apostolate, life, to consecrate his Militia Immaculata through blood.  Monica wept and prayed and clung to the hope that God would fulfill her desire for a holy son, and birthed Augustine twice into life, physically and spiritually.

When God drives the Abandonment Bus, He is directing you to a better outcome. Just hold on. The Lord will take our idols, our understanding, our timing, our control, and He will make a way in the wilderness. “You shall know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruins and replanted that which was desolate.” (Ezekiel 36:36)

We look not at the size of our problem, our cross, our crisis, but at the greatness of God.  He does what we cannot – if we let Him.  When we let go, we allow Him, “who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20)

Infinitely more.  He is God.  His best is yet to come.




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Godolphin Horne,

Who was Cursed with the Sin of Pride,

and Became a Boot-Black





Godolphin Horne was Nobly Born;   

He held the Human Race in Scorn,   

And lived with all his Sisters where   

His Father lived, in Berkeley Square.   

And oh! the Lad was Deathly Proud!   

He never shook your Hand or Bowed,   

But merely smirked and nodded thus:   

How perfectly ridiculous!

Alas! That such Affected Tricks   

Should flourish in a Child of Six!

(For such was Young Godolphin's age).   

Just then, the Court required a Page,   

Whereat the Lord High Chamberlain   

(The Kindest and the Best of Men),   

He went good-naturedly and took   

A Perfectly Enormous Book

Called People Qualified to Be

Attendant on His Majesty,

And murmured, as he scanned the list   

(To see that no one should be missed),   

'There's William Coutts has got the Flu,   

And Billy Higgs would never do,   

And Guy de Vere is far too young,

And. . . wasn't D'Alton's Father hung?   

And as for Alexander Byng!—. . .   

I think I know the kind of thing,   

A Churchman, cleanly, nobly born,   

Come let us say Godolphin Horne?'   

But hardly had he said the word   

When Murmurs of Dissent were heard.   

The King of Iceland's Eldest Son

Said, 'Thank you! I am taking none!'   

The Aged Duchess of Athlone   

Remarked, in her sub-acid tone,   

'I doubt if He is what we need!'   

With which the Bishops all agreed;   

And even Lady Mary Flood

(So Kind, and oh! so really good)   

Said, 'No! He wouldn't do at all,   

He'd make us feel a lot too small.'

The Chamberlain said, ' . . . Well, well, well!   

No doubt you're right . . . One cannot tell!'

He took his Gold and Diamond Pen   

And Scratched Godolphin out again.   

So now Godolphin is the Boy   

Who blacks the Boots at the Savoy.




Sir Smasham Uppe (1933)

E.V. Rieu


Good afternoon, Sir Smasham Uppe !
We’re having tea : do take a cup !
Sugar and milk ? – Now let me see –
Two lumps, I think? . . . Good gracious me !
The silly thing slipped off your knee !
Pray don’t apologize, old chap :
A very trivial mishap!
So clumsy of you ? How absurd !
My dear Sir Smasham, not a word !
Now do sit down and have another,
And tell us all about your brother –
You know, the one who broke his head.
Is the poor fellow still in bed ? –
A chair – allow me, sir ! . . . Great Scott !
That was a nasty smash ! Eh, what ?
Oh, not at all : the chair was old –
Queen Anne, or so we have been told.
We’ve got at least a dozen more :
Just leave the pieces on the floor.
I want you to admire our view :
Come nearer to the window, do ;
And look how beautiful . . . Tut, tut !
You didn’t see that it was shut ?
I hope you are not badly cut !
Not hurt ? A fortunate escape !
Amazing ! Not a single scrape !
And now, if you have finished tea,
I fancy you might like to see
A little thing or two I’ve got.
That china plate ? Yes, worth a lot :
A beauty too . . . Ah, there it goes !
I trust it didn’t hurt your toes ?
Your elbow brushed it off the shelf ?
Of course : I’ve done the same myself.
And now, my dear Sir Smasham – Oh,
You surely don’t intend to go ?
You must be off ? Well, come again
So glad you’re fond of porcelain !


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"Nobody escapes being wounded. We are all wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not, 'How can we hide our wounds?' so we don't have to be embarrassed, but 'How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?' When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers."

- Henri Nouwen



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Back in my mid twenties (now 75 years of age) and prior to the onset of bipolar disorder (at 28 years), we started in our parish a lay organization titled (I think) Teams of Martha and Mary, or something like that.   We would go into homes where the family was struggling for some reason and do whatever was needed where we could.  I do know that it eventually lapsed, but I hope that there is by now perhaps a religious way of life or even a secular institute given to the same ministry.

The charism would be a heartfelt embrace of Jesus Suffering expressed also in the Lives of people in difficult circumstances.  Martha and Mary, with their brother, Lazarus, were of course close friends of Jesus living in Bethany not far from Jerusalem.  Bethany, in the times of Jesus, has  quite a story.


Edited by BarbaraTherese
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"Common sense is the guide of all the virtues" St Albert of Jerusalem (Founder: Carmel)

"Humility is the foundation of all virtue"  St Augustine

St Teresa of Avila: "Humility, my daughters!  Oh my daughters, humility!"


A world gone bonkers.............



Turn the mind OFF................

I think the problem can be is attempting to give these "switched off" sort of times a name - to elevate the time to something it may or may not be.  And sorting out that is when ye olde mind REALLY starts to tick over.  'Switched off time' is enough........... 

It reminds me of what Thomas Merton wrote as coming from one of the Fathers: "Sit in your cell and your cell will tell you what to do". 

It works!


Out today to the Optician and today (12.58am just now), I am out to see my psychiatrist.  Friday, I have a shopping expedition to buy item to rid of carpet beetle.  12.58am and I am wide awake !!!  

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St Mary of The Cross MacKillop

First Australian Saint

Mary also demonstrates her humanity and sense of humour on various occasions which are doubly endearing for her followers. No doubt these occasions of merriment enabled the sisters to quell their doubts about a life of absolute seriousness, and a realisation that laughter, joy and happiness are essential for a balanced spirituality.

In 1926, Sr M Helena recalled two incidents that showed the hilarity experienced by the sisters Read on HERE

"As Sr Therese Carroll put it, “We want our saints to be inspiring but to understand the pathways we walk. [Mary] is a model of human possibility and she worked with what she had available to her and made things happen in a practical, humanly sensitive way.”

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(Treading safely into The Unknown)

                                                                                                      (By Minnie Louise Haskins)



And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

So heart be still:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.

God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.

Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.



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On this terrible and historic date, I have been watching all day "Turning Point. 9/11 and the War on Terror".   The horror of it is that the Twin Towers was not a military target - rather terrorism deliberately targeted for death innocent non military unsuspecting people.

I have found the five episode series of  the Netflix documentary, "Turning Point", really balanced, comprehensive and approaching 9/11 from various aspects: politics, military, investigative reporting and ordinary people.  If anything, it is critical of the USA.  That is the bias.

I am just about to watch episode 5, the final episode in the series.  The critical commentary on the (largely criminal)  'reconstruction' of Iraq was particularly enlightening.  

Many years ago now, I recall reading an article on Iraq.  It concluded more or less with a statement I will never forget.  Paraphrasing:  The reason the USA did not target Saddam Hussein and his regime in Iraq was because they feared it would destabilize the whole of the Middle East.    The nun who taught me: "Always keep your eyes on the Middle East".


Jesus, meek and humble of heart, please have Mercy and make all our hearts like unto Thine.

Our Lady Queen of Peace, pray for us.


Edited by BarbaraTherese
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