Sunday, April 26, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Jean François Millet (1814-1875):

From A Year With Blessed James Alberione,
Compiled by J. Maurus
Prayer of Simplicity

     The prayer of simplicity, Bossuet says, is a simple gaze, a glance, or a loving attention to the Lord or to some thing regarding the Lord, any of his perfections, for example.
     In the life of St. John Vianney we read:  in his early years as a parish priest at Ars, while he was in the church, he used to see almost daily a peasant who, keeping his tools near the church, would enter and sit on the last pew and spend a long time before the Blessed Sacrament.  He used to keep his eyes fixed always on the tabernacle, without ever moving his lips.  One day John Vianney asked him:  "What are you doing?  What do you tell the Lord?"  "I don't say anything, I just look at him and he looks at me, I know I love him and I know he loves me and I am happy to be with him.  Then I go home peacefully."

From Saint and Thought For Every Day, 
by Blessed James Alberione
The Leaven of Human Society

     It seems to me that in the thought, life, and aspirations of humanity there has always been a sense of Christianity, a Christianity that often bears different names.  The Gospel is in the world like a leaven which a woman buries in a mass of flour until all of it will be leavened.  Insensibly, either for good or for ill, humanity accepts or endures the Gospel of Jesus Christ; even when man fights against it, he works for it.  It is something like this:  when the enemies of Christ put Him to death, the prophecies were accomplished, mankind was redeemed; the glorified Savior began to draw all men to Himself.  Unity will mature in Christ.

What Strikes Me Most Today

Blessed Alberione's writing about prayer of simplicity reminded me of the painting above - I admit I didn't remember the artist, but I googled until I found it for you.  We know many canonized saints, but I can't begin to imagine how many humble, holy people have lived on this earth, and do now, whose name and story we'll never know, but whom God looks at the way He looked at the peasant in John Vianney's parish.

What strikes you most today?  
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Why a blog? Why St. Paul? Why do I think I have any business doing this?
We are all on a spiritual journey. We all want that journey to lead us to heaven, to eternity with God. For this journey, we need one another.
The journey so far has led me to read and learn about so many forms of authentic Catholic spirituality - Ignatian, Benedictine, Carmelite, Dominican, Franciscan, etc. My biggest problem was that I came to love each one tremendously. I began reading more and more, spending more and more time at the Daughters of St. Paul bookstore on Watson Road here in St. Louis. Who would have thought my greatest conversion story would take place in a bookstore? Mine was not quite as sudden or dramatic as St. Paul on the road to Damascus, but getting to know the Daughters of St. Paul affected me no less significantly.
The sisters are Eucharistic by nature. The first time I entered the chapel in their bookstore, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed and one of the sisters was on her knees, gazing at Christ, with an indescribably beautiful smile on her face. I had a glimpse of heaven. I knelt at one of the other kneelers and noticed on the wall behind the monstrance the words: "Fear not, I am with you. From here I want to enlighten. Atone for sin." I had that brief moment of absolute certainty that I was on the right path.
Over the last several years I have worked my way through as many books, CD's, DVD's and conversations with the Daughters of St. Paul that time has allowed. Time is at such a premium for all of us. Years ago we were told that with advances in technology we would have much more free time on our hands. We all know this has not been the case. Our lives are busier and more hectic than ever. Even if we are unable to find time to read good books, see enlightening movies or attend lectures and discussions, maybe we could all spend a little time on the internet supporting one another on our faith journeys. Many of you know more about many aspects of Catholic spirituality than I do.
Pope John Paul the Great called us all to a New Evangelization, to share the Gospel with the world. I am hoping we can all be St. Paul in this blog space by sharing Christ with one another and with others. St. Paul travelled to many foreign and often hostile regions to evangelize the world; we are fortunate to be able to use the internet to reach even farther and more quickly.
The idea of using today's means of social communication to spread the Gospel was given to Blessed James Alberione on the night between the centuries (December 31, 1900 - January 1, 1901). He was a 16 year-old seminary student adoring Christ in the Blessed Sacrament when a special light came to him from the Host. Following this, Blessed James Alberione became the founder of the Society of St. Paul priests, the Daughters of St. Paul, the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master, Sisters of Jesus the Good Shepherd, Sisters of the Queen of Apostles, and numerous institutes that are also part of the Pauline family.
So what is Pauline spirituality? In my experience, Pauline spirituality encompasses all the teachings of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and love of all the other spiritualities and Saints of the Church. It is the members of the Pauline family who are the happiest people I know! It is loving God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit with all our hearts and souls, through the intercession of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, and St. Paul.
So why St. Paul? I can relate to St. Paul. We first meet him in the New Testament as a sinner. He has a thorn in his side that God decides is best not to take away. I sometimes wish I knew what that thorn was, but it's probably better I don't know. I like to pretend it is one of my many weaknesses or faults. If St. Paul could go from persecuting Christ and His Church to becoming the person responsible for spreading the Gospel and establishing the Church in foreign lands, the least I can do is start a blog. I have been especially inspired by my two favorite bloggers, Sr. Margaret Charles Kerry, fsp, and a Pauline Cooperator named Rae Stabosz. I believe Sr. Margaret and Rae are doing just what St. Paul and Blessed James Alberione would be doing with the internet.
In future blogs (which will be shorter than this first post!), I would like to share writings of St. Paul, Blessed James Alberione, and many others. I look forward to others sharing writings from other Catholic spiritualities and writers. An especially Pauline way of sharing is to point out to one another what aspects particularly speak to each of us.
Another Pauline trait is to pray for one another. My prayer is that we support one another on our path to holiness. Our goal is to glorify God in all that we do - so let's do it!