Whatever be my age, whatever the number of my years, I am ever narrowing the interval between time and eternity. I am ever changing in myself . . . I know O my God, I must change, if I am to see thy face. I must undergo the change of death. Body and soul must die to this world. My real self, my soul, must change by a true regeneration. Let me day by day be molded upon thee, and be changed from glory to glory, by ever looking toward thee, and ever leaning on thy arm . . . I know not what lies before me but I know as much as this. I know, too, that if thou art not with me, my change will be for the worse, not for the better. All will turn to good if I have Jesus with me, yesterday and today the same, and forever.
– Blessed John Henry Newman
The evening before Jacob (of the Old Testament) was to meet his brother and attempt a reconciliation, he fell asleep beside a river. Such perfect virtue makes a soul quiet, peaceful, unchanging. This is what our Lord meant by his words, “I leave you peace, my peace I give you.” . . Men who are striving for perfection do not allow themselves to be moved easily by events of the world. They are not afraid whatever trouble comes their way. They are not constantly paralyzed with worry; they meet pain with courage. With their feet firmly planted on the shore, they watch without fear as the waves of human storms arise. It is Christ who gives this steadfastness to Christian souls. . .It was in this way that Jacob, who had cleansed his heart of resentment and so was a man of peace, went ahead of his family to be alone; it was then that he wrestled with God. And the truth is that everyone who frees themselves from worldly things draws near to the likeness and image of God. And this struggle with God means nothing less than to strive for perfection; to encounter Him who is so much greater than ourselves is to gain a unique likeness to the Lord.
– St. Ambrose
When we lose touch with the eternal truths, we get submerged in the weeds that sprout all over the garden of our life. They are senseless trivialities that assume an air of real importance. Though they pretend to have a purpose, they are quite futile, and merely add obscurity and confusion to a life which is gradually engulfed in a sort of eternal twilight without light or direction . . . It is hard enough to meet the ordinary hazards incidental to every existence; but the Godless person has no defenses and is delivered up, bound and disarmed . . . There is only one remedy for such a state; each person must return to God, listen to his inner voice, and consciously make contact with him.
– Father Alfred Delp, S.J.
Knowing that God loves us is happiness . . . They, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, will come to us, and they will make their home with us. They will keep us company. This is Christ’s own definition of happiness – the awareness of God being at home in our souls. Yes, there are two homes in which the Trinity dwells, one in heaven with the angels and saints and the other on earth in the hearts of those who are doing God’s will . . . What then, does it mean to be truly happy? It means to experience the presence of God, whether by faith and imperfectly in this life, or by vision and without end in the life to come.
– Father John Hardon
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In all his dealings with us, the Lord teaches us how to live on this earth. There is not a person in this world who is not a voyager, even if not all are anxious to return to the Homeland. In the course of this voyage, the waves and the storms make us seasick. At least we are in the ship. Outside the ship, death would be inevitable. When one is swimming among the breakers, however energetic one’s arms are, sooner or later one is defeated by the size of the ocean and allows oneself to drown. To complete the crossing, therefore, it is essential to remain in the ship, to be supported by its planks. The plank that supports our weakness in the cross of Our Lord. He keeps us safe from the world that threatens to drown us. We suffer because we are tossed about by the waves, but the Lord himself supports us.
– St. Augustine
In the degrees of humility, there is always a question of the inner person, the heart. We progress to the interior, where I know myself and know that I am known by God . . . This knowledge is always an awareness of my “creatureliness” – that is, I have not brought myself into being, that another has caused me to be and that other is God himself . . . My purpose is to become a person who worships God through and through . . . It supposes the essence of humility – a constant contact with my nature, a constant mindfulness of the fact that I cannot be at the center of my universe, but it must be God who is the center.
– Father Simon O’Donnell, O.S.B.
Life without God is nothing but death, many times over.
– St. Teresa of Avila
Let us then see where we stand and what we must do. Heaven cannot change; God is without variableness or shadow of turning. His Word endures forever in heaven. His law is from everlasting to everlasting. We must change. We must go over to the side of heaven. Never has a soul true happiness but in conformity to God, in obedience to his will. We must become what we are not; we must learn to love what we do not love, and practice what is difficult. We must have the law of the Spirit of life written and set up in our hearts, that the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in us, and that we may learn to please and to love God.
– Blessed John Henry Newman
Solitude is not a solution but a direction. The echo of this direction is heard in the prophet Elijah, who did not find God in the mighty wind, or the earthquake, or the fire, but in the still, small voice . . . Every time we enter into solitude, we withdraw from our windy, tornado-like, fiery lives and we open ourselves for the great encounter, the meeting with Love. But first in our solitude is the discovery of our own restlessness, our drivenness, our compulsiveness, our urge to act quickly, to make an impact, and to have influence . . . But when we persevere with the help of a gentle discipline, we slowly come to hear the still, small voice and to feel the delicate breeze, and so come to know the presence of Love. This Love goes straight to the heart, making us see the truth of who we really are. We are God’s beloved children.
– Henri Nouwen
Dear Lord, help me to remove from my mind every thought or opinion which you would not sanction; every feeling from my heart which you would not approve. Grant that I may spend the hours of the day gladly working with you according to your will. Help me just for today and be with me in it:, in the long hours of work, that I many not grow weary or slack in serving you; in conversations, that they may not be to me occasions of uncharitableness; in the day’s worries and disappointments, that I may be patient with myself and with those around me; in the moments of fatigue and illness, that I may be mindful of others rather than of myself; in temptations, that I may be loyal; so that when the day is over I may lay it at your feet, with its successes which are all yours, and its failures which are all my own, and feel that life is real and peaceful and blessed when spent with you as the guest of my soul. Amen