Humility is true knowledge.
Isn't that the truth?
January 24 was/is the feast day of St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622), one of my favorite saints. We're talking top ten and, excluding Biblical saints, right up there with St. Francis of Assisi. His many letters and teachings are so very beautiful, inspiring, encouraging. Moreover, he's the patron saint of writers. I wasn't able to post the 24th, but I do want to share a bit about this kind and loving teacher.
Born into an aristocratic family in Swiss Savoy and eldest of 13 children, St. Francis had every worldly opportunity. As eldest son, he was expected to make an excellent marriage and accept a seat in the senate (offered to him by the Prince of Savoy). He received the highest education, first in Paris and then Padua, where he obtained a doctorate in law. During all of his university years, his only wish was to become a priest and serve God.
A clear calling. I find it wonderful and extraordinary that a young man in Paris -- Paris, people -- and Padua would be absorbed in his faith and devotion to God. His father wasn't entirely pleased at first, but when he saw how truly sincere his son was, he gave his blessing. And isn't that a refreshing departure from the many stories of familial opposition?
He was meant to be a priest, had wanted to be one since around the age of nine. He loved God and ardently desired the best for us.
Peace is better than a fortune. You must do what you see can be done with love.
Never be hurried in anything. Do all things calmly and in a spirit of repose. Do not lose your inward peace even if everything seems to be going wrong. What is anything in life compared to peace of soul?
With the single exception of sin, anxiety is the greatest evil that can happen to a soul.
He became the spiritual director of Jane de Chantal, who became St. Jane de Chantal, who with him cofounded Order of the Visitation, which ministered to widows and ill, abandoned women. He guided her primarily through written epistles filled with rich, spiritual lessons. Many of the letters were preserved and have come down to us. They are encouraging, inspiring, and filled with kindness.
He wrote a lot. His most famous book, Introduction to the Devout Life, was a bestseller in his lifetime and beloved all over Europe. The same goes for his book Treatise on the Love of God.
Everything he wrote, he wrote with great love and compassion. But he was faithful in his teachings, guiding us with love, redirecting us with patience and confidence.
A man loses nothing by living generously, nobly, courteously, and with a royal, just, and reasonable heart.
A little courtesy, a small virtue -- but the mark of a true greatness.
You tell me you do not have the time to give two or three hours to prayer. Who asks you to do so? ...Who can prevent you from speaking to Him in the depth of your heart, since it makes no difference whether you speak to him mentally or vocally? Make short but fervent aspirations.
A dear and favorite teacher...
Look up to heaven, and do not forfeit it for earth.
Wishing you a wonderful weekend ahead!
Let us go in the safekeeping of God.
Happy Sunday, Dear Ones!
This is the Day the Lord has Made! Let us rejoice and celebrate!
How about yesterday? Yes, He made it, too! But I was blaaaah. I felt uncomfortable, frustrated, and grumpy. I was so busy feeling sorry for myself that I hardly prayed. The few times I did try to say a few words, I found myself wincing at how gripey I sounded -- not in words so much, but in tone! That's how very grumpy I was!
Which is thoroughly ridiculous when I have so much to smile about.
But there are days... You know?
We might not know how or we might not have the right words or we might lack a prayerful attitude. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed and as if we cannot bear to talk to anyone.
But prayer, even just a few words of thanks or complaint or anywhere in between, comforts. It can even provide surprising, instant relief. God is a great and patient listener and a wholly trustworthy confidante.
Let us pray.
Wishing you a blessed and beautiful day!
Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Lately, I've noticed that lots of people prefer the term “goals”. A great many others get flustered or wave the notion away dismissively, even aggressively.
I always write down resolutions. But I don’t count my list as a challenge. For me, January is a time of
reflection, renewal, and peace. In the northern hemisphere, it’s deep winter. Even animals are hibernating. It’s calm and quiet, not frenetic. Even my fitness resolutions don’t set off alarm bells.
Borrowing from Merriam-Webster:
Resolve: - to deal with successfully, to clear up
- to find an answer to
- to make clear or understandable
- to reach a firm decision about
- to declare or decide by a formal resolution
- to (make something) progress from dissonance to consonance
I especially like that last definition -- from dissonance to consonance.
This year, I've neatly sectioned off my resolutions/goals/intentions. Without going into detail or getting too personal, here’s the outline:
1. Soul Health
3. Mind Health
4. Physical Health
5. Writing Life
6. Social Media
7. Love – as much as I possibly can.
Each section or category has a short description plus a few “specifics”. Those are more personal -- more for your sake than mine. I’m pretty much an open book. But I will say that publishing the sequel to Tremors Through Time is one of the specifics. 😊
I don’t compose my list feverishly or with aggravation, irritation, shame, or any other negative emotion. This is me looking back over a year’s time, thinking, praying, and seriously considering what I need to do… Here’s the important part – I consider what I need to do to better be able to answer my calling, to share and to love and to serve. In other words, how can I harmonize my hopes, thoughts, actions, and purpose?
My New Year’s Resolutions are between me and myself, but they’re not just about me. They’re also not massive promises to God or to anyone. They are not Reconciliation/Confession, although some might lead to that.
It's simply a thoughtfully composed list of hopes, intentions, aspirations. I’ll even need help with them – from God and the angels He has placed in my life.
They are nothing to be feared or irritated about. I don't necessarily need to "attack" them. They are good because even though they might seem to be about me – and so they are -- there’s much more to them than that.
Wishing you joy and peace this year and always.
The frost looked like snow this morning, which is usually as close as we get to the real stuff.
I love this time of year. I enjoy the gorgeous weather, yes, but that’s only a small part of it. We’ll hopefully have nice for months now.
I love the holidays. I like to think that the goodwill shared during the holiday season makes a dent in the hate and counters commercialism.
From All Saints, All Souls, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Bodhi to Christmas and New Year’s with many Saints’ Feast Days in between…
Happy Holidays. Happy Holy Days to All.
For me, it is Christmastime. Even more specifically, Advent has begun. The Church’s prayers, the reminders to be still amidst everything, and the hopes in our hearts are consistent, persistent, and beautiful.
Can a little goodwill and quiet time really make a difference in this world? The answer is YES. ABSOLUTELY. If you experience a lifting of your spirits or a sense of peace, that’s already a difference in the world because you are in the world. If you share that joy with those around you and their spirits are lifted, it becomes an even bigger difference. And if, when they leave you, they share that joy with a word of kindness, a prayer, a smile, well, you can see how it goes.
Politics – what a blight on creation. Most of us cannot do much about situations happening across the world. We can speak out. We can donate. We can pray.
Do not dismiss prayer. It is a positive action. They add up.
As for me, as I wait in prayer to celebrate the birth of Christ, I am glad to be reminded of peace, hope, and love.
I wish them all to you and yours.
The little things...
There I was, first Saturday of the holiday season, "resting". Normally, I would be decorating with glee. When my sweetheart suggested that we pick up some hamburgers and eat at a nearby park, I was thrilled.
For one thing, I love hamburgers. Well, more precisely, I love the french fries that often accompany hamburgers. Of course, my favorite are hand-cut fries of the fresh, not frozen variety. But as a connoisseur (wink, wink), I also find most fast-food establishments' fries perfectly acceptable.
But more than burgers and even more than fries, I love parks. The one where we took our lunch is ordinary in the extreme. There's a stocked pond that succeeds in attracting waterfowl and a little hill that was probably created from the soil excavated for the pond. A gazebo sits on the top of the hill, overlooking the pond and water fountain. A path/exercise trail follows along the perimeter, passing playground equipment and open areas to play ball.
And I love it. A little bit of nature is certainly better than none at all. I like the grasses at the water's edge; they surely provide habitat. I love the trees -- both the few, deliberately planted ones and the scrubby brush beyond. And I appreciate the community feel of the space.
We sat in our car, windows down, laps covered in napkins, and enjoyed our fast-food lunch while watching people and birds. The weather was cool and breezy and a bit overcast. But the sun kept peeking out, breaking the grey. What more could I ask for? But when an egret landed at the water's edge, I did ask for something more. Please, a photo? And so Joseph walked stealthily down towards the water's edge and snapped a few for me.
"You'll be surprised," he said when he handed my phone back to me.
And I was.
I'm back! It turned out to be a rather long break, but my writing is better for it. In fact, reading over a passage I recently composed for All Shook Up, I was surprised at how much better, deeper, and stronger the writing was. It occurred to me that it might be because I, myself, have grown a little better and stronger.
Glancing – only glancing – back at the last year and a half, it’s obvious that surgeries and other unavoidable life events delayed major rewrites. But I’m only just realizing that my writing was affected long before I realized it.
I write – and live my life – from a perspective of optimism and joy. I cannot claim credit for this internal, eternal hope. I thank God for it. Springing, as it does, from deep within, it’s not easily shaken by external circumstances. But certainly, stress and exhaustion – mental, emotional, and/or physical – can sap of us of energy and subdue good cheer. If you’re like me, you might feel guilty for your less than stellar mood or lack of energy and therefore feel even worse.
But then my hero made a getaway happen. We determinedly rested and relaxed and enjoyed every moment. And I feel refreshed.
Both foot surgeries failed, by the way. I’m having the first do-over next week. I’ll be off my feet throughout the holidays and effectively for much of the coming year.
At first, I was angry, frustrated, and in denial. But a calm has settled over me, along with a refreshed spirit and energy. It’s not that big a deal and, in any case, there isn't much I can do about it. I hope and pray it will all go well this time around. I believe it will.
And I can have a good attitude.
Grace in place of grace… (John 1:16)
Thank you, Lord, for your love and patience with me, and for my family and friends and their love and patience. And for your grace.
All glory and honor are yours forever. Amen.
God be with you.
These days, I'm speechless. That, you might consider, isn't so unusual for a writer. We have words, yes, but we like to write them down, not say them. So really, I should say I'm wordless.
Except that I'm not. I've been on a complaining/whining/griping jag for months! And then the world news, well... Sometimes, it seems I can't even control my own life much less the whole world. And there lies the rub.
There's only so much I can do, only so much I can control. When it comes right down to it, it's largely limited to my own behavior. I think. My own actions and reactions... And still, I make a mess of it at times.
We (all of us) can't always have what we want. We'd so hoped to visit our beloved Lebanon with our dear children this year. It didn't happen. We can't always get away. Sometimes, we have to stay and work and deal with things. And that, by the way, is if we're lucky.
Joseph and I were finally able to go away on vacation and I'm so grateful.
I love Türkiye. It's one of our favorite destinations, a magnificent land, rich with history, warm-hearted people, and stunningly beautiful scenery. That's to say nothing of the food...
We also visited Greece, a lifelong dream. It's gorgeous, too.
And all with my sweetheart.
If we hadn't traveled overseas, I would have opted for the mountains. If not the mountains, then a weekend at the coast. And if not a weekend, then a day. A little rest, getaway, change of scenery or change in routine can do wonders.
And if none of that is possible, a good book is a wonderful option! :)
Wishing you peace and hope.
I am religious. Did you know? If not, that is my fault and more's the pity. It's actually a big part of who I am. I am not loud about it. I don't think I need to be. I'm not a preacher. But sometimes I am a little too private.
The thing is -- the main thing -- is that I am so religious that I would wish anyone else the same right, the same privilege. Mutual respect requires -- yes -- mutual respect. That is, so long as the beliefs don't harm others.
I don't generally go around announcing, "I am religious." But when it has come up in conversation and I say just that, I've surprised an interesting variety of responses. More than once, someone has commented, more or less, "I hope you are referring to your faith and not just religion."
Well, yes and no. I happen to love my religion. There is no perfect religious institution on earth. My chosen one is Catholicism. I am a Catholic Christian. But that's not really addressing their concern. By that comment, they are expressing the worry that I might be more interested in rules/laws/traditions than about loving God and being a good person.
Of course, I am not. God is my foundation. I am Catholic. Christ is my light, my teacher, my hope.
So many have given up on faith. People struggle through their days and lives without giving God a passing thought. It is inconceivably sad.
In my faith tradition/religion/belief system, I find love, peace, guidance, and goodness. I find joy and hope.
I wish everyone as much.
Why am I telling you this? So that you know me better -- and just in case you need to consider it for yourself. Prayer, meditation...even just a thought to begin. The times are trying, and faith is a wonderful gift, a miraculous comfort.
Wishing you joy and peace.
A Little of This, a Little of That
Keep me away from the wisdom that does not cry, the philosophy that does not laugh, and the greatness which does not bow before children. – Gibran Khalil Gibran
From me to you with a smile.
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