A Tiny Thing in the Arms of God

“It seems to me that I am no more than a very tiny thing in the arms of God, and that I will remain so until I die. I do not know what He wants to do with me, but I desire it all.”

—Venerable Marthe Robin, as quoted in Robert Ellsberg’s The Franciscan Saints

The Community of Faith

When you read and study Scripture, you are not alone. You are part of an ancient and global community (Acts 2:42–47). It’s more than an individual expression, because it also happens in and with the universal Church. Reading and studying Scripture is both an individual expression of love and trust for God, as well as a communal expression of our faith.

—from the book Ignite: Read the Bible Like Never Before

Fallen Humans, Infinite Desires

We as human persons are made with infinite desires that only God can fulfill. But because we’re fallen, we tend to live at the level of our superficial desires—desires for comfort, fun, fame, wealth, pleasure, success. These desires are not bad, but the rosary helps us be more aware of the soul’s deepest desires, which are for God. As Saint Catherine of Siena taught, the greatest gift we can give to God in prayer is not the finite work of saying the words but our “infinitely desirous love” for God that is expressed in those words and that is being drawn out of our souls in prayer.

—from the book Praying the Rosary Like Never Before: Encounter the Wonder of Heaven and Earth

Doing the Lord’s Work

Tom Harkin, senator from Iowa, entered into the Congressional Record these words from an article in the Des Moines Register: “Sister [Dorothy] Hennessey taught many things, including courage, compassion, and the importance of independent thought and creative action. She taught that aging gracefully can be consistent with living meaningfully and even dangerously. But most important, she taught that we don’t have to stand by in frustration when wrongs are perpetrated, even by our government; that the world is best served when we stand up for what is right. And that you do whatever you can, from wherever you are. In her case it was the Lord’s work.”

—from Robert Ellsberg’s book The Franciscan Saints

Work Done Well Brings Us into Wholeness

It is in work that we find the test of our relationship to the creation because work is the question of how we will use the creation. For Berry, work done well brings us into a wholeness and cooperation with the creation in which we can find health. Bad work destroys the connections that make life possible. For Berry, good work is like a prayer—it is an act of both gratitude and return. Good work accepts the gifts of creation and uses those gifts to further their givenness. There are seeds that lie for decades in the soil, waiting for the right conditions before springing to life. Good work is that which creates the conditions for such life to burst forth from the whole of the creation.

–from the book Wendell Berry and the Given Life

Standing with Our Lady of Sorrows

Sometimes darkness has its hour and there is nothing we can do to stop it. Sometimes the blind, wounded forces of jealousy, bitterness, violence, and sin cannot, for that moment, be stopped.

But, like Mary under the cross, we are asked to “stand” under them, not in passivity and weakness, but in strength, knowing that we can’t stop the crucifixion but we can help stop some of the hatred, anger, and bitterness that surround it.

And, in this way, we help take away the sins of the world and continue to bring Jesus’s saving death to the world.

–from Ronald Rolheiser, author of the book The Passion and the Cross

The Cross: Ultimate Symbol of Fidelity

Among all the religious symbols in the world, none is more universal than the cross. You see crosses everywhere: on walls, on hillsides, in churches, in houses, in bedrooms, on chains around peoples’ necks, on rings, on earrings, on old people, on young people, on believers, and on people who aren’t sure what they believe.

Not everyone can explain what the cross means or why they choose to wear one, but most everyone has an inchoate sense that it is a symbol—perhaps the ultimate symbol—of depth, love, fidelity, and faith.

–from Ronald Rolheiser, author of the book The Passion and the Cross

Finding Fulfillment by Embracing Our Limits

To be humble, to accept our limits, is to find the grounding for our becoming fulfilled. It is a striving against those limits that has led to much misery and a great deal of destruction, including the wide-scale erosion of the very soil we are supposed to move toward in our lowliness.

What if we could stop, breathe in our God-given breath, live our given lives in the forms through which we can find our fullness?

–from the book Wendell Berry and the Given Life

A Prayer in the Last Hour

When I am in my last hour, when I am very near death, when I am so soon to change form and travel in unaccountable ways and places, I hope I will be of sound enough mind to murmur this, to our three children, and perhaps, if the Mercy has been especially ridiculously generous, our grandchildren: It was for you that I was here, and for you I prayed every day of your life, and for you I will pray in whatever form I am next to take. Lift the rock, and I am there; cleave the wood, and I am there; call for me, and I will listen; for I hope to be a prayer for you and yours long after I am dust and ash. Amen.

—from the book Eight Whopping Lies and Other Stories of Bruised Grace

Mychal Judge: Saying Yes and Accepting God's Grace

Fr. Mychal simply wished to go where God needed him. And he could never refuse God anything. “The wonderful thing is saying yes and accepting God’s grace. We could say no and walk away. But when we say yes and go forward, great and wonderful things will happen,” Fr. Mychal reportedly said.

“It takes courage in the midst of fear, but you do it with the grace of God.” Great courage is what Fr. Mychal showed the world throughout his life and on the day when the world needed courage. On the darkest day, when the world needed to be reminded of Christ’s love, Fr. Mychal Judge showed us that light.

–from the book Faith Under Fire: Dramatic Stories of Christian Courage

Meeting God in the Upper Room