Archive for March, 2013

The Story and The Legend of St. Patrick… and the Snakes!

March 16, 2013 - 5:02 pm 30 Comments

Recalling St. Patrick: Saints and Snakes

The Reverend Peter Edward Lanzillotta, Ph.D.

When we think of someone as a saint, a variety of images can come to mind. Commonly, these images are associated with a person’s “goodness” or as an example of shining morality: ” He is a real saint or She is a sainted woman.” These expressions declare someone’s virtues or strengths and usually suggests that this person is unusually loving, patient and kind. Somehow, their particular closeness to God could intervene to solve a human problem or affect a healing solution to some chronic or acute difficulty.

Often, a saint will be created or be known for some outstanding or wondrous deed that was accomplished against daunting odds such as St. Joan of Arc. Saints will also be associated with certain social causes or professions and then will act as their protective agent that watches over that career, trade, that city or place. Lastly, there has been established a connection between saints and particular plants and animals…A few brief examples:

St. Francis of Assisi and birds, Italy, and the city of San Francisco; St. Nicholas with gift giving, reindeer, and the country of Sweden; and the saint of the day, St. Patrick with shamrocks, Ireland, and snakes! SNAAKES! Why not dogs, like St. Bernard? I will answer that connection a little later…

Each official saint (how someone becomes a saint is a lengthy and detailed process of witness and attribution… detailed in another sermon!)  Is given his or her special, commemorative day… Considered to be their “birthday” it is celebrated by all those who identify with that saint, or who have a particular affiliation with his causes, countries, mission or purpose.

Actually, it is not their birthday that is celebrated as we have few birth records that could state when ancient saints were born, but it is their death day: Which according to historical Catholic teachings, is the day when they begin their eternal life, or life with God. It is the day when your spiritual goal is accomplished- when you win your heavenly release from ego, pain, suffering, that was so much a part of life on Earth. You might recall the now famous Irish toast:

“May your soul get to Heaven a half hour before the Devil knows you are dead!”

On this day, March 17th, I will offer a brief recounting of the storied life of St. Patrick and then focus on his legendary feat of driving all the snakes out of Ireland. This story, has been passed down to us in true Irish form: As Myth, legend, and yes, a story that has some “blarney” attached to it!

Remember, whenever you encounter the story of the life of one of these ancient saints, you need to keep your mythological and idealistic perspective. These stories are not necessarily factual, but they can be true… True to the heart that hears them; for they often arrive at our hearts without paying full homage to either science or common sense. It has been said that the fastest way to God is through a story, and that a story provides us with a doorway that opens us to holy mysteries.

Not much is actually known about St. Patrick.  Even though it might be the most widely celebrated saint around the globe… And maybe that is just as it should be. Possibly only trailing St. Francis or St. Nicholas in the hearts of the faithful, he has earned his own special niche in the Catholic Christian world. This claim, of course, is hard to dispute- even if you are not Irish ( although I do expect that everyone is, at least a even a wee bit on the 17th, and as for all those who protest such goings on, then just content yourself with some Guinness or a draught of green beer, and enjoy the party!

St. Patrick was born in approximately 387 AD or ACE in a small, southwestern English village that was still a part of the  Roman Empire. His real name, by the way, was Patrius Calpunrnius, which made him a Roman citizen, because his father was Italian! (I always knew that I liked him!) He spent his uneventful boyhood in this remote part of England and so the details are largely unknown. One event, when he was 16, was recorded for us. Something drastic happened to him!

One evening, as he was wandering outside the protective confines of his village walls, he was captured by a band of Celtic rogues who were also known as slave pirates. He was taken away from England , to Ireland, and there he was sold as a slave. He lived in bondage for six years and as could be expected, this ordeal changed his life.

Much like a cocoon is for a butterfly, this time of suffering and trial became his place for transformation or soulful metamorphosis. During his servitude, he develop a deep, sincere inward calling and fervent spiritual purpose. Through his adversity, he learned how to pray without ceasing( I Thess. 5) As his biographer notes it, even in the midst of a gale or a blizzard, he never forgot his daily prayers, or to give thanks to God for whatever might come his way!

Eventually, a way did open… And he escaped Ireland and returned home to England. Yet, he did not stay very long because his experiences set a new agenda and larger mission for his life. He left England for France, and entered a seminary to study to become a priest. After he completed his studies, his example was noticed by his bishops and it is said that he even came to be known by the Pope for his religious zeal, and all that fervor directed him back to Ireland as a missionary to the Celts!

After only a short time, he success spread and he was appointed bishop of Armagh. From that city, he traveled throughout the land, founding many churches and establishing monasteries all over the Emerald Isle. His greatest goal was to convert the native Celts from their Pagan and passionate ways and mold and make them over into Christians. It has been ascribed to his efforts, that Ireland, in time, became a bastion of monastic Roman Catholicism, and that the Irish are among the most devout Catholics in the world, even today.

Now there are many legends and stories associated with St. Patrick- none, however, any more famous that his miraculous feat of driving all the serpents or snakes out of Ireland. With all the Irish jokes aside, such as still being able to see the snakes floating in your fourth glass of Jameison’s whiskey, let’s see if we can make out the significance of this remarkable tale that goes far beyond biological facts. Q: is there a connection between Catholic saints and snakes???

Snakes show up frequently in world mythology, and they occupy an active role in many cross cultural teaching stories… From the most remote parts of the globe, even among the Eskimo lore and legends, there are snake stories! (Climatic shifts!) One example: Among the African tribes, as the famous mythologist and story teller Joseph Campbell teaches it, there is a story of how the great God Umbate created man, then antelope, and then snake, and then woman. Later, when the antelope and the man, and the woman disobey one of God’s commands, and then asked who told you that you could eat the forbidden fruit that grows in my garden? The woman answered saying, “The snake, the snake did!” Does that sound familiar? Snakes, over the centuries and across the cultures and continents, have been given very little respect in the Mythologies of our world. (Rodney Dangerfield of animals?)

This highly prejudicial and paradoxical attitude towards snakes contradicts what many other world faiths teach- that the snakes, even the dragons, are all bearers of wisdom, healing, and fertility. However, in Judeo-Christian theology, such related reptiles were considered to be evil creatures and villains- the Devil’s accomplices- painful sources of egotistical pride and slithering disobedience.

In the New Testament or The Christian Scriptures, we are also given another interpretation. Snake symbolism in the Gospels have both meanings; we recall Jesus in the Gospel of Luke accusing the Pharisees of being a “brood of vipers” but we are also given in the Gospel of John the passage where we hear Jesus’ heartfelt recommendation that his disciples are to walk among the people “as wise as serpents but as harmless as doves.” In the later editions/editorials added to the Gospel of Mark, we are given snake handlers, and then in the Acts, we are given the story of how Paul shook off a snake’s bite with no harmful effects.

So, back to Patrick… It seems as if Patrick feat refers to the malefic snake of Genesis, and to the virtuous elimination of the snake as a symbol of Celtic stories of rebirth and wisdom. His legendary act of casting all the snakes into the sea, was ridding the people of all the Celtics teachings about holy eroticism and female fertility- to be replaced by the images of the ever Virgin Mary! By doing so, as the legends tell it, he made the people ready for God’s truth that faith is more important than wisdom, and furthermore, the real God is male! He was the original snake buster! However, more closely to the point, Catholic teachings were the literary prototype for Irish writers and playwrights for centuries such as in G. B Shaw’s writings, and as the antagonist for writers such as Joyce. Saints, after all, were always considered to be God’s champions against all rival religions, against the forces of evil, against the wiles of women, and the ravages of sin.

But what can we make of saints and snakes today?

In my heretical way, I believe that the metaphors for chasing out the snakes can be an instructive one- but only as long as you are willing to keep or accept that snakes function to convey positive virtues and values, too. In that ancient Western context, I believe that everyone is capable of ridding their personal world of lurking snakes: known symbolically as those lies, deceptions, and deceits that will come back to bite us or that will poison us against ourselves and other people.

If we are in charge of our own beliefs, values and behaviors then our sense of truth and faith can prevail. If we are willing to chase evil thoughts out of our reactions and behaviors, then we can more fully pursue the answers and the inspiration that we might need to live more harmoniously and more compassionately. If the origin of evil and pain is an original lie, then we need to assert the understanding of our original blessings. Original Blessings is the title of the text book in Creation Spirituality written by Matthew Fox)

Just as Patrick had to handle his fears about losing his comfortable life, becoming an economic slave, and then be willing to go away from his comfort zone to seek out his deepest answers that led him to live by his deeply rooted new convictions, then we can also learn how to overcome… Or at least work though whatever lies and deceits or sources of false reasoning that bite and poison us. Whatever serpentine maze of false beliefs we might have nesting inside us, we can root them out! We can release them or chase them away so they occupy harmless distances. We do this best by following the saintly example of persistent truth seeking, and by opening our hearts to God.

The legend of St. Patrick teaches us about the spirituality that requires us to clear our conscience and to allow new thoughts and behaviors to grow within us. Spirituality is a deliberate clearing away process, and it is the process of living in a way that we are making ourselves ready for new growth in both faith and wisdom.

What the stories such as the one that revolve around St. Patrick can teach or remind us is that we can live beyond our childhood fears and any thoughts or feeling we have that poison us. Your experiences in life act as your repository of wisdom, and when uncoiled become pathways to understanding, healing, and peace. We can shed our old skins, and be renewed; we can leave our old skins for a new coat of blessings.

On this St. Patrick’s day, celebrate your trials, affirm your personal progress, and make a toast toward living your lives more openly, spiritually, and lovingly towards yourself and others… Who knows? Maybe sainthood awaits you, too!

Saints and Mystics- A Short Review/Reflection by John White

March 13, 2013 - 7:46 pm 3 Comments

On Mystics and Saints

By John White

Our knowledge of higher consciousness comes from two classes of people:

saints and mystics. These two types of explorers in the spiritual stratosphere often aren’t distinguished from one another, but mystics are not necessarily saints, and vice versa. Mystics know primarily through the head and saints know primarily through the heart. (note: I am, of course, speaking figuratively- about the different hemispheres of the brain/mind.) The truly enlightened, however, have always functioned as integrated people- saintly mystics, and mystical saints- knowing fully through both modes.

Mystics bring us new knowledge of higher consciousness; saints demonstrate it in their lives. Mystics do not necessarily have the loving, selfless qualities of saints, but saints don’t necessarily have the intellectual capacity or the theoretical understanding needed to translate their awareness into terms that verbally communicate their experiences with depth and precision.

What mystics and saints do have in common is the experience of the higher self, experience of a state in which the bonds of ego are dissolved or demolished or perceived as an illusion. In this state, the narrow view of self and world that ego creates is transcended for a moment and a larger , more fundamental sense of self-as-cosmos emerges into awareness accompanied by an experience of peace, deep understanding of the nature of existence, and oftentimes, a perception of light. As the Indian holy man Sai Baba succinctly puts it, ” First you go towards the light, next you are in the light, and then you are the light.”

Incidentally, there is an important difference between mystical and mystifying.

The latter kind of people- the mystifying ones- try to dazzle you with their verbal footwork. They cultivate an air of inscrutability and perhaps throw in some psychic phenomena to doubly impress you! But these are all ego games, and those who puzzle and those who amaze might be anything but enlightened!

Jesus’ test of consciousness still stands: “By their fruits, ye shall know them.” All the person’s claims and verbiage and speculator displays don’t mean much unless his or her manner of living gives evidence of an enlightened mind working for the liberation of mentally enslaved, suffering people.

Purpose, meaning, direction in life, understanding- that is what people need and are searching for most of all, however blindly and ignorantly they may be doing it.

And that is what the enlightened help others to find. For some, the proper helping act may be to offer mystical knowledge; for others, it may be saintly acts. Both are necessary for wholeness and growth.

Saintly Wisdom I: Benedict and some quotes from other saints

March 9, 2013 - 3:37 pm 34 Comments

Reflections on The Rule of St. Benedict

As it could apply to Christians today

Invocation:

Religion does not consist of the many things we doubt or what we are trying to believe. Our religion consists of what we are willing to live and willing to work for, and what we willingly do for and share with others.

Pastoral Reflection: Prayer And Work

St. Benedict in his advice to his monks would often encapulate all of his teachings in the simple phrase, “Ores et Labores” pray and work…

What could that mean to us?

How to we learn to work prayerfully and to pray as if prayer was our life’s work? From a spiritually centered perspective, work is the expression of how we honor and respect the fact that we are co-creators of our world. Since we believe that God is present and can be available to us as we live and work daily, and if we believe that Spirit is omnipresent, then whatever efforts we put forth are accompanied by the spiritual dimension of life that is in us, with us, and around us.

Because we carry our awareness of God in our hearts and minds and bodies, God becomes an essential part of every activity we do, and cannot be divorced from our workday or our daily devotional practices. In the typtical work environment, there might be a rare possibility to take some time to sit in a nearby church or chapel, or more likely, to find a sunny window, or be able to get outside briefly and take a break from weary routines. Yet, even a few minutes of contemplation or prayer can “make or break” your day…

Which is proof that most approaches to prayer are attitudinal, and that prayer time acts as a gracious catalyst and as an effective form of protective assurance that allows us to accomplish our responsibilities, and still keep a sense of balance and peace in our minds and hearts. Everyone of us, to one extent or another prays…hopes, wishes, worries, and trusts their way through each day of our lives. Those many feelings act as our prayers- for they can decide our attitudes and frame our expectations.

Benedict taught about the sacred duty of daily life; to accept the responsibilities we have been given or elected to have, perform their roles simply and effectively, being mindful of the expectations we can place on ourselves to use our God given talents and gifts, along with our learned skills in service to humanity and our world. In this way, our prayers can offer us a path of self mastery and vocational guidance. Our prayers lead us whole heartedly towards insight and opportunity because our work in the world is also our gift to the world… It matters little to God if our highest mission that day is to make a meal, clean a room, rake a yard, go to school or start a business. In and through each job or task we are given, large or small, requires our prayers.

Prayer takes time and requires our intention- we prayer in many ways and styles, but each appraoch needs an attitude of mindfulness, inclusion, willingness, and openness. Work can easily become an excuse not to walk with God or not to take some time to pray or meditate. All too often when I was in parish life, instead of seeing myself in service to God and in relationship to the community, I fell into the ego centered trap that my success or my soltions and problem solving was mine alone to accomplish!

Only after a return  to a prayful intention, to a sense of belong to a larger interdependent whole that my sense of the sacred returned to me,a nd I could return to my tasks and responsibilities with a clear intention and with more gratitude and joy. Over the days and years, I have tried to include daily times for prayer and devotional reading, while I still do and recommend. However, in all humility, some days the best prayers I can manage is just sitting still for a moment , close my eyes, and open my heart and listen for some guidance.

( In writing this, I flashed on one of my earliest teachers, The Marareshi, who would often look with dismay at our Western pace of life and exclaim: ” If you are too busy to meditate, then you are too busy!”)

 

The Benedictine rule as it has been explained and demonstrated for me by my brothers and sisters recommend this rule fopr our progress:

Remember… (there is no more essential practice in world spirituality than the act of remembering…) Remember that it is in the how we do what is being asked of us that is the measure of our spiritual understanding. Do we do it with compliant, with resistance or do we do it with patience and perserverance? In the asking ourselves about our attitude, or the How we can come to understand the deeper reasons Why nad for that purpose we live and work throughout our lives. (Compare to Viktor Frankel and Logotherapy…)

If at first, your cannot carry your prayers and your affrmations with you into each task during your day, then try to set aside some time to reflect on the events and experience you have had or that you expect to have…

The Benedictines call this time of reflection, the Examen- that is, the time dedicated to reflection on your motives and thoughts, your attitudes and outlooks in a compassionate and discerning way. This spiritual exercise

Encourages you to take those new insights and awareness into your next day and allow them to keep you company in all your actions…

The Examen should be considered to be a way of keeping an unwritten diary or journal. St. Paul’s first Epistle contains these words that support these monastic rules. He wrote to the Thessolonians, ” Test your motives, pray without ceasing”

Through our willingness to have our prayers accompany our actions we retain the sacred as being a source of inspiration throughout our day… I would ask you to try this… And see if your daily life and your approach towards your work changes or improves…

A teaching story attributed to St.Benedict:

Once there was an monk who was asked by a businessman for advice concerning his work:

“As the fish perishes on dry land, so do you perish when you get entangled in the world. The fish must return to the water, and you must return to the Spirit.

Upset and aghast, the businessman responded: ” Are you saying that I must give up my business and go into a monastary?”

The the monk replied: ” Definitely not! I am telling you to hold on to your business, and go into your heart.” There you will find all the answers you seek.”

 

 

Reflection on The Rules of St. Benedict

Adapted for a liberal and inclusive approach

No matter how much we dislike the idea personally, ther are certain rules that each of us follows daily. Some of the one we commonly follow are obeyed “religiously” that is, literally or consistently. Other rules are applied on an ocassional basis, or during certain situations or temptations.

Unfortunately, we moderns hear the word, rule, and we quickly confuse it with law, and we can easily confuse them and then feel oppressed by both rules and laws.

Today, I will use the word rule, as St. Benedict first taught it- as a positve guideline used for the enrichment of our souls and for the deeper development of your spiritual life. Benedict sought earnestly to provide his monks with guidelines and instructions for ways in which they could improve their prayer lives and cultivate their spiritual and ethical awareness. He wanted to offer his monks a set of flexible standards and workable goals during the 13th Century- you remember, it was a time of a fragile economy, unstable social life, and a crumbling political structure that was stalemated by those wishing to perserve the Roman Empire…

Laws and principles, like Commandments and vows, are different from rules… Laws are more powerful and less tolerant of ambiguity. They are made to be obeyed, and not easily dismissed. Once in place, a law might be ignored , but rarely is it erased. It just waits until someone is looking for a legal or religious precedent, a rationale or suitable premise, and then it gets rediscovered, reapplied, and reinforced!

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Principles are constants. Theya re always in effect, and always operating whether its the principles of physics or medicine or the principles of consciousness- they cannot be denied or superceded.

Rules are gentler, more fluid and adaptible to various situations and conditions. Rules and guidelines are those recommendations that are given to us to assist us in our own decision-making. They are ethical compass points to help us to set our best direction, but if we decide not to heed them or forget them, nothing of great consequence will happen…

In our pursuit of greater religious understanding, rules point towards ethics and toward ways that encourage our growth,maintain our balance, and that foster our well being. These guidelines urge us to become more compassionate, more broadminded, humble, and accepting without throwing out our human need for limits and legal structures.

Rules are used as a part of the spiritual journey to keep us free from ego distortions and excesses. They are our guidelines for exploration, and provide us with a standard of comparison. Rules obviously can be broken  but rebellion is rarely justified until a more complete understanding of what the rule covers is known, and the consequences understood. That is where the primacy of conscience comes in… Wher we proceed because we feel the rightness of it in our hearts, as we step beyond the standard rules to follow a new level of inner guidance…

 

 

It has been said that the task and the goal of the spiritual life consists of this: To move from the “questions we cannot answer, to the answers we cannot evade.” This movement requires both rules and faith.

Consider these rules: Whenever we can, we are to speak up for our sisters and brothers; To speak up for equality and justice for all living beings. Whenever we can, we are to substitute silence for censure, the mirror for the megaphone, the smile for the mask. (aggregate of rules and advice…)

Q: If you were to devise some rules for living, especially as they impact or influence your religious identity and ethical concerns, what would they be?

In one way or another, when we take a historical look at our Western approaches to spiritual formation and community ethics, we will find a connection to the Rules of St. Benedict. Compiled by one man in order to provide a flexible and adaptible set of guidelines for his followers who aspire to the religious life, he penned a set of 12 rules as a guide to simple and compassionate living. He offered them to his followers and they became a monastic template that almost all devotional groups can use.

He sought to restore a sense of personal and social balance, to affirm humanity’s rightful place of stewardship for the earth,  while attesting to the value of any community sharing the work within a larger context of society.

While his formulation of these rules were original to him, his ideas can be traced and seen as having common threads in most Middle Eastern communities, such as the Rabbinical groups and the Sufis of Islam.

The Rule of St. Benedict

These are adapted and abridged from various Benedictine sources

 

Such as from Wisdom From The Well based on Benedict’s Rules by Sr. Joan Chisttler for consideration among Contemporary Catholics

 

1) Let God be God, and let yourself be an unfinished creature in process. Have compassion for yourself and for others, keeping in mind the everlasting respect we are to hold for God, and the consequences of disobedience to God’s holy laws. ( Ten Commandments, etc.)

 

2) Delight in service to your brothers and sisters. Choose servbice over self fulfillment or any willfulness. Try to discern the will of God for you in whatever situation you face, or in whatever circumstances you are given in life.

 

3) True obedience comes from respect, honor, and love, never from fear. Out of love for God and for the greater good, accept that here will always be people who will have power over you, and who can alter your outer life. Remember, that your life is not in your hands alone.

 

4) Bear your hardships without sever complaining. Be patient, even tempered, and persistent in your resolve. Seek balance, harmony, and offer no evil in return.

 

5) Confess your evil thoughts and secret sins to keep them from controlling you or taking over your life and heart. Confession and self disclosure gives us freedom.

 

6) Be content with simplicity. Seek to have or own only what is necessary to be happy. Use only what you need. Have enough, share the rest.

 

7) Choose to be humble and identify yourself with the rest of humanity, as spiritually poor, in need of change and growth. In truth, we are all equals- In God’s eyes, no one is better or worse.

 

8) Do nothing that contradicts the spiritual core of your life or the outcome of your community life. Listen and respect traditional wisdom.

Truth is timelss, real, a constant source. As it is said, ” Theories of astronomy and the heavens change, but the stars abide.”

 

9) Refrain from being boisterous oor meddlesome. Life is serious, not superficial. Resist the temptation to run anyone’s life for them.

 

10) Maintain silence over censure. Speak only when addressed or asked to speak.

 

11) When you do speak, speak gently, clearly, sparingly. Treat your listeners with respect.

 

12) Demonstrate your understanding of humility and self control by your outward conduct, your manners, and your appearance.

 

Benediction:

God is everywher that I am. And since everything could be said can speak to this supreme good, this God, maybe our greatest task and our best daily steps start when we listen… Asculta! (Latin word from Benedict… First listen… Listen with your hearts…)

 

Here is one of my favorites from the Desert Fathers:

“Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, “Abba, as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate. I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?” Then the old man stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, “If you will, you can become all flame.””

 

A short collection of the old stand-bys from St. Francis are also favorites of mine:

“Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”

“It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.”

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible!

Divine love is the rule to live and die for.”

“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow man”.

Pray, pray to the Lord with me, because the whole world needs prayer. And every day, when your heart especially feels the loneliness of life, pray. Pray to the Lord, because even God needs our prayers.”

 

Blessed Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina         Www.padrepiodevotions.org

“A great aid to going against your will is to bear in mind continually how all is vanity and how quickly everything comes to an end. This helps to remove our attachments to trivia and center it on what will never end. Even though this practice seems to be a weak means, it will strengthen the soul greatly and the soul will be most careful in very little things. When we begin to become attached to something, we should strive to turn our thoughts from it and bring them back to God- and His majesty helps.”

 

Saint Teresa of Avila:

Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you,

All things pass away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things.

He who has God Finds he lacks nothing; God alone suffices.

“Jesus is patient with us, for He doesn’t like pointing everything out at once to souls. He generally gives His light little by little.”

 

Saint Therese of Lisieux:

“At the beginning of my spiritual life when I was thirteen or fourteen, I used to ask myself what I would have to strive for later on because I believed it was quite impossible for me to understand perfection better. I learned very quickly since then that the more one advances, the more one sees the goal is still far off. And now I am simply resigned to see myself always imperfect and in this I find my joy.”

 

Saint Bernard of Cairvaux:

“When an offense is committed against you, a thing hard to avoid at times in communities like ours, do no immediately rush, as a worldly person may do, to retaliate dishonorably against your brother; nor, under the guise of administering correction, should you dare to pierce with sharp and searing words one for whom Christ was pleased to be crucified; nor make grunting, resentful noises at him, nor mutter and murmur complaints, nor adopt a sneering air, nor indulge the loud laugh of contempt, nor knit the brow in menacing anger. let your passion die within, where it was born; a carrier of death, it must be allowed no exit or it will cause destruction, and then you can say with the Prophet: “I was troubled and I spoke not.”

Conscience cannot come to us from the rulings of society; otherwise it would never reprove us when society approves us, nor console us when society condemns. When we listen to our conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking.”

 

Archbishop Fulton Sheen

“The best way of praying is when you don’t know what you will say…”

I don’t remember the exact quote and I think it was St Anthony of the Desert that said the quote above. I ran across it years ago when for various reasons I had stopped praying, or at least imploring God to do X and Y.

I loved his quote and way of praying because it opened me to prayer not as something that asks for an external change (e.g., change something in the world this or that way) but prayer can be for unknowable possibilities that can occurs within us.

“We may not trust too much to ourselves; for grace and understanding are often wanting in us; there is but little light and this we may soon lose by negligence. Oftentimes we are quite unconscious how blind we are. We often do amiss, and do worse in excusing ourselves. Sometimes we are moved by excusing ourselves. Sometimes we are moved by passion, and think it zeal. We blame little things in others and overlook great things in ourselves. We are quick enough in perceiving and weighing what we bear from others; but we think little of what others have to bear with us. He that should well and justly weigh his own doings would find little cause to judge harshly of another.”

“We must remember God more often than we draw breath.”

 

Saint Gregory Nazianzus

“I was bound to the many vices of my past life and I would never have believed it possible to be freed from them….However, the help of the water that regenerates overcame me.  The corruption of my preceding life was cancelled and from on high a light was effused into my soul making it pure and clean.  I received from heaven the Holy Spirit and by means of a second birth I became a new man…..”