“Why are you weeping?” the angels ask her as she leans into the tomb. Mary Magdalene is not ashamed of her emotion; she is not hesitant in her answer. She is missing her Lord. No, she does not fully grasp the great theological mysteries of the passion and the resurrection that she is about to encounter. She cannot explain that she leans in to look because everything about Jesus indicated there was something greater coming on the other side of his hideous death. All she knows is that she is there because she is looking for her Lord. And that is enough to lead her straight to the Resurrected One.
The secret of Saint Francis’ joyful spirit was his vibrant belief in a God of overflowing goodness and love. Francis was so in love with God that at times he would pick up two sticks from the ground, tuck one under his chin like a violin and move the other over it like a bow. Then, in an ecstasy of joy, he would sing in French songs of love and praise to God.
Francis used to say that he wanted his followers to go about the world like strolling minstrels, “to inspire the hearts of people and stir them to spiritual joy.” They give us an example to follow in our own day!
–from the blog “The Peace Prayer of Saint Francis”
There has always been a diverse group of personalities at table with the Lord. At this time in history, you and I now are present. We, like the apostles, are unreliable and weak and afraid. We are inconstant in our devotion to our Lord. We deny him, we betray him.
But Jesus is I Am. He is constant.
The One who sits with arms outstretched in the Da Vinci depiction, who sat in the center of the table in that Upper Room, sits now in the center of our hearts with arms outstretched. He died on the cross out of love for us. He is continually with us, welcoming us, and looking at us with his loving, tender gaze, just as he looked at Peter. What he did at table, he continues to do with all our varied and challenged humanity, a variety of personalities that is forever and continually represented in every church, in every upper room, throughout our entire world, where “two or three are gathered together in his name” (Matthew 18:20).
There is a life force flowing through the universe, and everything exists in a single moment, forever unfolding. I open myself to the stream. I want to be emptied and purified so that the past is no longer my lens—so that it no longer colors what I see. What will it be like to look without fear or expectation, to see things with nothing in the way? Who will I be if I am not afraid, but alive? There is everything to experience, and the portal beyond the darkness to know.
—from the book Stars at Night: When Darkness Unfolds as Light
We long to be in touch with life, to touch and to be touched. Yet, we are also afraid of letting anything “get at us.” Afraid of letting life come too close, we keep it at arm’s length and don’t even realize what fools we are making of ourselves. We are going through life like someone stepping into the shower, carefully keeping the umbrella up. We are holding on to our hats, our tokens of social identity and respectability.
Far be it from us to make fools of ourselves! It takes a bit of life experience to realize that our choice is merely between making fools of ourselves either intentionally or unintentionally.
—from the book The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life
Unless I am connected to God, who invented the happiness I’m seeking, I come up frustrated, angry, and disappointed by life—empty instead of full. When I feel disconnected from God, I feel restless—not at peace with myself, with my God, or with others.
—from the book Born to Soar: Unleashing God's Word in Your Life
My God, Lord, how long? I thought. How much longer? Will this suffering that I had already endured for years never end? And I had a very short but very decisive moment of clarity. I thought, Christ never lied. He never said that following him was going to be easy. He said, “For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it,” (Matthew 7:14), and that’s because to go through the narrow gate hurts. It hurts like hell. It hurt for him. And he never lied.
—from the book Stumble: Virtue, Vice, and the Space Between
I believe the joy that is at the heart of the Franciscan alleluia proceeds from this inner realization, which descends upon us at ever deeper levels as we walk our faith journey. This deepening is the only real goal of Christian contemplation, and is the heart of the Perennial Tradition of wisdom. This is how Francis and Clare, and all contemplatives, “know” things: “The soul itself is an image of God, to which God is so present that the soul can actually grasp God, and ‘is capable of possessing God and of being a partaker in God” (Saint Bonaventure). With that we can move forward. In fact, we can move far and wide and confidently forward.
–from the book Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi
In the host of saints of the Catholic Church, there has never been one so connected to the earth, yet so joined to the Spirit. The rhythm of the seasons, the cycles of the moon, the bounty of the harvests, and the elements of wind and fire surrounded her each day. And from this organic simplicity, a huge capacity for spiritual communion with Christ was nurtured and matured like a mighty tree, the symbol of the Iroquois. Yet Saint Kateri Tekakwitha remained a gentle lily.
–from the book Lily of the Mohawks
That is very simply what a pilgrim does: walk. And it is the way the pilgrim prays, with his or her feet. And the feet walk through dark clouds to illumination to the light that is holy action. Through dark, cloud-filled days to a hint of subtle lightening to the sun breaking through, the feet taking us where we least thought we’d go, where before we had thought darkness dwelt, and finding there instead, in bright sunlight, the broken, the poor, the marginal, those made ugly or disfigured by abuse and oppression and woundedness. We are changed simply by walking, rain or shine, toward and back from whatever shrine we had thought contained our hope and longing. We walk back toward what was there all along that we could not see.
–from the book Enter Assisi: An Invitation to Franciscan Spirituality