Love Is Never Abstract

Love can never be general or abstract—it is only concrete and particular. What we know of other loves we know by analogy because as a creature I must live in the limits of my love. I cannot love forests in general any more than I can love people in general. As the essayist Charles D’Ambrosio has put it, “If you can love abstractly, you’re only a bad day away from hating abstractly.” For love to work, it must be anchored in the particular or else it is likely to simply float along with the changing currents of emotion.

The deeper my love the more particular it becomes and the more limited in scope. It is only through such particulars that we can come to save the creation. God may love the world, but we live into God’s image by reflecting such love on a proper scale—among particular places and people. We live into our love when we love our neighbors and, thus necessarily, our neighborhood.

—from Ragan Sutterfield, author of the book Wendell Berry and the Given Life

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Peter's Denial Is Twofold

In John’s Gospel, before Jesus predicts Peter’s denial, Peter says to him, “I will lay down my life for you” (John 13:37). Peter has not yet come face-to-face with his own weakness, his own limitations. He is so sure that his faith will not fail that it never occurs to him to ask the Lord for strength. How often do we do the same?

—from the book Meeting God in the Upper Room: Three Moments to Change Your Life, by Monsignor Peter J. Vaghi

Meeting God in the Upper Room

The Mystery of the Trinity

One of the gifts in my life for which I am most grateful is the way I was taught about the Blessed Trinity. Others have told me that, early on, they got the message that God’s Trinity is a mystery we could never fathom, so they draw the conclusion, why bother? When I was told of this mystery, it was always in a tone that invited me to explore it—the task not of a lifetime only but of eternal life, life beyond time. My life of prayer has been just this exploration, and it continues to be so. In fact, now in my eighties, I feel I’ve barely begun.

—from the book The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life, by Brother David Steindl-Rast

Don't Panic by Maureen Pratt

Pope Francis Reflects on the Rosary

Here I would like to emphasize the beauty of a simple contemplative prayer, accessible to all, great and small, the educated and those with little education. It is the prayer of the Holy Rosary. In the Rosary we turn to the Virgin Mary so that she may guide us to an ever closer union with her Son Jesus to bring us into conformity with him, to have his sentiments and to behave like him. Indeed, in the Rosary while we repeat the Hail Mary we meditate on the Mysteries, on the events of Christ’s life, so as to know and love him ever better. The Rosary is an effective means for opening ourselves to God, for it helps us to overcome egotism and to bring peace to hearts, in the family, in society and in the world.

—from the book Mother Mary: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis


We Exist in a World of Gift

When we exist in a world of gift, in which we ourselves are given, then our own labors must be gifts to those around us. To refuse that possibility is to refuse the thanksgiving to which we are properly called. Or, to put it another way, if we are not willing to see our lives and the creation as gifts, then we are not able to properly acknowledge our debts. Being so free, we then feel as though it is in our right to say that others owe us. Thus we can easily sell our labors, without any sense of obligation that perhaps we really owe them. That some should give their labors freely is then, properly, the response of those who owe what cannot be repaid—which includes us all.

–from Ragan Sutterfield, author of the book: Wendell Berry and the Given Life

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God Always Waits for Us

Maybe someone among us here is thinking: my sin is so great, I am as far from God as the younger son in the parable, my unbelief is like that of Thomas; I don’t have the courage to go back, to believe that God can welcome me and that he is waiting for me, of all people. But God is indeed waiting for you; he asks of you only the courage to go to him. How many times in my pastoral ministry have I heard it said: “Father, I have many sins”; and I have always pleaded: “Don’t be afraid, go to him, he is waiting for you, he will take care of everything.” We hear many offers from the world around us; but let us take up God’s offer instead: his is a caress of love. For God, we are not numbers, we are important, indeed we are the most important thing to him; even if we are sinners, we are what is closest to his heart.

—from the book A Year of Mercy: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis


Saint Francis and the Crucified Christ

When you look at Saint Francis, you see the Crucified Christ whose presence within Francis was so real and so intense that the very wounds of Christ Crucified broke forth in his body, revealing to the whole world that here, indeed, was the ultimate disciple of Christ, who not only bore in his body the wounds of Christ, but whose heart was filled with the love that moved Christ to suffer for love of us. As St. Francis himself articulates so beautifully in one of the prayers attributed to him, “May the fiery and honey-sweet power of your love, O Lord, wean me from all things under heaven, so that I may die for love of your love, who deigned to die for love of my love.”

—from Murray Bodo, OFM, author of the book Francis and Jesus

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Praised be God through Sister Death

Saint Francis knew, it seems, the inner power God invested in the words that sprang up spontaneously from his gratitude for the assurance of God’s kingdom. Then when Father Francis came to die, he sang the final stanzas of his Canticle, knowing full well the words would give him hope and courage to make the passage into the kingdom that already dwelled within him, a mirror of the kingdom he was about to return to.

Praised be you, my Lord, through our Sister

Bodily Death from whom

no one living can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin!

Blessed are those whom Sister Death

will find in your most holy will,

for the second death

can do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord, thank him

and serve him humbly

but grandly! 

—from Murray Bodo, OFM, author of the book Francis and Jesus

Saint Francis of Assisi books and audiobooks from Franciscan Media

Call on Your Guardian Angel

The main thing is to be aware of the angels around you—and get in the habit of calling upon them for little favors. Invoke them silently as you begin each conversation, as you dial the phone, as you start to reply to an e-mail. Ask them to give you the right words. Ask them to help you avoid words that can damage your relationships and compromise your Christian witness. And don’t stop asking the angels to keep you safe and healthy! Go ahead and call upon your angel every time you start your car or cross a busy street. We can’t help but be self-interested; it’s our nature. But grace builds on nature. If our natural desire for safety brings heavenly assistance ever to our minds, that’s a very good thing. It builds a habit of drawing near to the angels, and that’s a habit that can only help us as we go through life and face other perils: temptations to immorality, temptations against faith, temptations to say hurtful things.Our angels are always there, always doing their best to keep us on the path to heaven. But there’s one place in particular where Christians meet the angels—and meet them as equals.

–from Mike Aquilina, author of the book: Angels of God: The Bible, the Church and the Heavenly Hosts

A Sabbath Reminder

Though a garden should be cultivated, its soil tended and sowed toward flourishing, weeded and protected from pests, its ultimate produce is based in the gift of the abundant creation. The Sabbath is a time when we are reminded of this; accepting the manna that cannot be hoarded, picking blackberries that provide delight without cultivation. It is in the same way that we are reminded of the truth of the creation—that our work, though called and needed, is not necessary. The world will continue without us and came long before us. Our work is to live from and with these gifts so that we can use what time we have, what little time we have, to tend their flourishing rather than exploit them for the gains that will soon fade with the rot.

–from Ragan Sutterfield, author of the book: Wendell Berry and the Given Life

Wendell Berry and the Given Life - Book

Meeting God in the Upper Room