St. Francis de Sales on prayer

We must never allow our shame to be attended with sadness and disquietude. That kind of shame proceeds from self-love, because we are troubled at not being perfect, not so much for the love of God, as for love of ourselves.

And even if you do not feel such confidence, you must still not fail to make acts of confidence . . .

It is always in our power to make these acts; although there may be difficulty, there is never impossibility. It is on these occasions and amid these difficulties that we ought to show fidelity to our Lord. For although we may make these acts without fervor and without satisfaction to ourselves, we must not distress ourselves about that; the Lord loves them better thus.

And do not say that you repeat them indeed but only with your lips; for if the heart did not will it, the lips would not utter a word. Having done this, be at peace, and without dwelling at all upon your trouble, speak to the Lord of other things.

– from The Art of Loving God

On becoming united to the Host in the Mass by doing the will of God

maryimmaculate altar.JPG

From Dom Eugene Boylan, O.C.R. in “This Tremendous Lover”, chapter 14: The Will of God as the Food of Christ.

By doing the will of God then we are formed into Christ, we are “digested” by Him, we are received into the roots and transformed into the vine. When we do the will of God, Christ, our High Priest, takes us into His hands, and blesses us, and says: “This is My Body,” and offers us up to His Father in Himself, and receives us into communion with Himself. The perfect union with Christ is to do the will of God for the love of God. There is nothing higher than that. Therein lies all holiness and all happiness; therein lies all that we may ever become, all that we ever dreamed of being; for it renews us in Christ and unites us to Him who is our God and our all!

And further:

The very words our Lord used show us His intention of handing over to us all His riches. This chalice is the new testament in my blood. And a ‘testament’ is a pact or agreement, for the disposal of our inheritance to be received. The Blessed Eucharist contains ‘those things which carry with them Christ’s relation to God the Father’ and all those things are at our disposal in the Mass.


And we are never more completely part of Himself than when we are doing the will of God.

The Real Presence and the Present Moment

therese relic

If you have time for one article today, read this instead.

In front of the tabernacle (what a blessing!) today:

I’ve been told time and time again that a way to improve in sanctity hidden in plain sight is to do the small things of life with great love. St Thérèse, whose feast it is today, was the first to communicate this to me as such; I recall reading the first half of Story of a Soul those first few months of becoming Catholic that I spent largely in bookstores. Though I don’t think I understood it at all. “It seems a bit remote. Where’s my broom to quietly sweep the convent with? What’s my convent?” I asked, and not stopping to ponder the obvious answers to my questions, I moved on – though thankfully St Therese didn’t move on from me. Since then, other saints added their little nudges of grace. St Benedict’s Holy Rule did seem to complement St Therese’s Little Way quite well. I had an attraction to both, but in my present circumstances where was my monastery? I read some time last year Father Willie Doyle’s saying, “Do everything for His sweet love alone.” It was posted again on the website dedicated to him, in context:

Don’t dwell on what you have not done, for I think that want of confidence in His willingness to forgive our shortcomings pains Him very much, but rather lift up your heart and think what you are going to do for Him now. You know the secret of making a short life very long in His eyes, and a life of few opportunities crammed full of precious things. Do everything for His sweet love alone.

And of course there is always Our Lady, who says “Ecce, fiat, magnificat.” Perhaps it was the graces of the preparation for consecration (almost there!) but all of these things started to make sense, practically, in my thick skull. It took me long enough – years – to realise at least partially what this little way might entail. If what I want is the perfection of my actions, doing them well will become part of it, but since I am seeking the perfection of love, it is enough, as a beginning, to simply make an act of love and offering before every action. Prayer precedes action and makes it fruitful. There are so many things I do each day: sleeping, waking, getting ready for the day, walking up and down stairs, eating, my daily work, my daily prayer, my conversations, my breaks. They are all there available to be offered. Would it not be helpful for me to offer them all, each discrete action, to keep up a continuous chorus of offerings, small as they might be, in imitation of the angels who live for the continuous praise of God? Those moments are all I have; they are my life, strung together. Why not make them into all love? Wouldn’t that be delightful?

Another term came to my attention, “the sacrament of the present moment”, in a chapter talk on the Rule of St Benedict (I now find that it is the title of a book I have not yet read). The impression I got was that the Will of God is, for us, accessible in our now, in our present. There is no point worrying about the future or dwelling on failures of the past. We are called to love God in our present, whatever that present might be.

Hands full with all these fresh gatherings from the garden of Catholic spirituality, I was in front of the tabernacle. If God’s Will is present in our now, and if the face is an equivalent term for presence, then we can say that in our daily offerings of moments our object of love and the aspect (aha! aspice.) of God which we are closest to is the Face of God, which is in fact the Human Face of Christ. This little way of St Thérèse, which had been making quiet little nudges at me, now seems to be a profound meditation on the Incarnation.

But it goes further (so I gaze at the tabernacle door). The present moment may reveal, in its multifarious ways, the Face of Christ. But isn’t the Eucharist the sacrament of the Face of Christ par excellence – since it is Christ Himself? Don’t we talk about the Blessed Sacrament in terms of the Real Presence? Isn’t there some intrinsic connection, then, between all three: a devotion to loving God in every little act of the present moment, the Holy Face of Christ, and the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament? Why, of course! The Real Presence in the tabernacle may be confined locally, spatially, to the appearances of bread. (I…hopefully expressed that correctly.) But this sacrament is also, in some mysterious way, present to anyone, anywhere, who desires it and calls upon the Name of Christ, just as within it are present, folding up space and time, all of the mysteries of Christ’s life and Passion. So in the end, the Little Way is Eucharistic. My broom, my convent, my monastery, they are found in my waking, my working, my walking, my thinking; and what ought to be at the centre of this little monastery? Why, the Blessed Sacrament, of course. And in living life according to the Rule of the Host, always under the gaze of the Eucharistic Face of Christ, perhaps I can become, in time, a little Host, a little sacrifice. St Thérèse, pray for us!

Rosary thoughts

OL montmartre

The Annunciation. Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word. Every moment is an opportunity to say it – and relive this mystery in my present circumstances – again and again, and so to be taken deep into the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Presentation. How can it be that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? I take my heart and imagine leaving it shut in the tabernacle of the local church, right next to those consecrated hosts. That’s Jesus’ home, where He dwells with Mary. By leaving my heart all the way over there, inches from the Sacred Heart (how are we not annihilated in the intensity of its flame?), perhaps my heart can become a home for Jesus and Mary to dwell in.

The Nativity. And they came with haste: and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. Well, I’ll leave my heart where it was before. Since I’m so close it’s no great leap of the imagination to gaze at those consecrated Hosts in the ciborium. The Virgin Mary was the first adorer of the Face of Christ. By adoring the Eucharistic Face I can join in! What else is there to do? Heaven is here; I only have to look.

The Presentation. And after the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord. With a start I realise that dwelling there next to Jesus in the tabernacle I am on an altar, that is, an altar of sacrifice. Well, then, sacrifice must be made; and what do I have to offer? Myself, certainly – though I am not much. But close at hand are the Hosts. I can offer those. I offer them. It’s more than I can fathom, an unspeakable mystery.

The Finding of Jesus in the Temple. And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. Again, now that my heart is, in my mind, placed there next to the Eucharistic Jesus, locked inside the nearby church tabernacle, I realise it is an ideal place to think on the mysteries of the Rosary. And seeing him, they wondered. The seeking is met instantaneously with finding. Here He is.

So much of the sorrow in my life came from not seeking Jesus. With Him now there is only peace. God willing, I’ve still plenty of life left to live, and suffering and desolation will come in due course. But there’s no point worrying about that ahead of time. Right now I can only give thanks, and keep my heart where I left it. It’s a little scary – I mean, it is on an altar. If you linger around those you’re liable to get sacrificed the next time a priest walks up. Then again, doesn’t that happen at Mass?

Assumpta est Maria in caelum

Every now and then there is news that somehow makes it past my mental filter and gets stuck in my craw. There was one recently – unnecessary to say which – which felt like a tipping point for me. How long, O Lord? This must stop!

Then again, I could choose tipping points at my leisure. How long are we going to kill innocents in the womb? How long, O Lord? This must stop! Some day the list will change, but there will still be a list.

And then I could look at myself, and at the Cross. How long, O Lord, must I inflict more wounds on Thee? This must stop! And how many souls have I hurt through my sins of commission and omission? This must stop! Ah, here is something I can do. There is some mysterious necessity in the daily living and suffering that happens to me, but there is no necessity to speak of in my own sins of the present moment – only my use and misuse of the free will which is God’s gift. There is nothing left but to align my will with His, completely and without reserve, for the grace God pours out on a humble heart is infinitely more powerful than the evil that heart could ever do. My own life’s tipping point needs to be conversion, and that daily and hourly, to Jesus Christ.

But it’s so difficult! Thankfully, I know of a humble Jewish maiden of Nazareth called Maryam who also happens to be the Queen of Heaven. She is even now mysteriously carrying us in her womb, so that at every little death to self until the final death of our body – which is the completion of our Mass – we would emerge newly born into eternal life if we persevere. She’s pictured above as the cherubs carry her body and soul into Heaven, and there are tassels dangling from her train – rosaries, really – that would carry us aloft with her if we took hold and didn’t let go.

I’m currently more than halfway through my first 33-day consecration to Jesus through Mary. The big day is coming soon. My resolve’s no good – I need hers. My virtue’s not worth mentioning – I need hers. There’s nothing else for it but to cling on to her coattails, so to speak.

May she keep her little ones safe for eternal life. May she remember the souls of the little ones snuffed out too soon. May she intercede for the salvation of us all. May Jesus come quickly through Mary. Rejoice! For Maria est assumpta. Immaculate Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Amen. Fiat.

What else is there to do but become a saint?

And how else to become a saint but through the Blessed Sacrament?

Our salvation is our union with Christ in the bosom of the Father. Christ become Sacrament is not the less Christ for His being Sacrament. So our unity with the Blessed Sacrament is, in every way, our salvation.

This Sacrament is the path, the means, the end. Down this path is a most sweet beckoning towards the victimhood of the Host.

Little Nennolina of Rome, Venerable Antonietta Meo, wrote this at six years of age not long before her death:

“Dear Jesus, I want to be always always on Calvary beneath Your cross and also want to be Your lamp that burns day and night before the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.”

She was a lamp indeed – and more than a lamp, for she became a little host, a little sacrament, united with Christ and His victimhood in the bosom of the Father.

Venerable Nennolina, pray for us!


There’s nothing to fear from a little baby. Especially not this one. Place your finger in His palm and He’ll wrap His hand around it without a thought for your faults. It’s what babies do, but this baby makes all things new. He’ll make you new. Kiss the child; He’ll kiss you back. Stay there and adore Him, in the company of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the farm animals. A newborn can’t see very far, so you’ll have to get very close. And up very close to this child, there is nothing but peace and innocence, the kind that restores whatever you lost. He brings nothing but healing in His tiny hands, and the radiance of infinite love in His sweet face.

There’s still time


Jesus is coming soon, but that means Mary and Joseph are looking in at the inn, knocking on the door. Is there room? Is there still time? Advent is not over. There’s still time! There was no room in the inn – but perhaps, one can imagine, what of the innkeeper’s own room? He had the chance to host the King, to gain the Kingdom of Heaven with his hospitality, but to do it he would have had to clear out his room, perhaps sleep outside the door or in the stable, and be a little uncomfortable for a short while.

Joseph is knocking. Mary is heavy with child. Christ wants to be born in your home. The salvation of your soul depends on it. The Kingdom of Heaven is yours to gain, but you just need to be a little hospitable. What sins are there to clear out? What hinders your welcoming?

“I don’t know how to start making room” – St. Joseph is practical, so ask for his help. “I want to regain the longing of Advent” – Holy Mary is burning with a longing beyond all telling, so soon to be fulfilled, so ask for her heart.

What will you see when you prepare properly for Christmas? A Face…



In addition to my previous post on Our Lady of Guadalupe:

Those eyes of Our Lady…they’re looking off, down, to the side, ever so maternally, and also contemplatively. Just imagine for a moment they turn to you. I don’t know what I’d do; I’d be just utterly struck dumb. She’s so lovely and full of love.

But of course she is looking at you, and at me. We never leave her gaze. Right now the Mother of God, crowned with twelve stars, clothed with incandescent light, is praying for you and beseeching her Son, by all the sufferings, sorrows, and joys of her life, to rescue you from whatever mire you might be in. And He has seen fit to give to her the disposition of all the graces He earned by the sufferings, sorrows, and joys of His own life. She is so near. Call on her and she will guide you ever so gently to Christ, who loves you.

United to Jesus Christ, we become, in Him, adopted children of His Father. United to Jesus Christ, we become, in Him, adopted children of His Mother. She loves you.