Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Model of Nazareth

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family and in honor of this, I have pasted below an excerpt from Pope Paul VI's address in Nazareth (which can be found in today's Office of Readings), dated January 5, 1964.    His words still ring true.

May the blessings of the Christ child continue to fill your heart with joy.


Pope Paul VI, January 5, 1964 (Nazareth)

"Nazareth is a kind of school where we may begin to discover what Christ’s life was like and even to understand his Gospel. Here we can observe and ponder the simple appeal of the way God’s Son came to be known, profound yet full of hidden meaning. And gradually we may even learn to imitate him.

Here we can learn to realise who Christ really is. And here we can sense and take account of the conditions and circumstances that surrounded and affected his life on earth: the places, the tenor of the times, the culture, the language, religious customs, in brief, everything which Jesus used to make himself known to the world. Here everything speaks to us, everything has meaning. Here we can learn the importance of spiritual discipline for all who wish to follow Christ and to live by the teachings of his Gospel.

How I would like to return to my childhood and attend the simple yet profound school that is Nazareth! How wonderful to be close to Mary, learning again the lesson of the true meaning of life, learning again God’s truths. But here we are only on pilgrimage. Time presses and I must set aside my desire to stay and carry on my education in the Gospel, for that education is never finished. But I cannot leave without recalling, briefly and in passing; some thoughts I take with me from Nazareth.

First, we learn from its silence. If only we could once again appreciate its great value. We need this wonderful state of mind, beset as we are by the cacophony of strident protests and conflicting claims so characteristic of these turbulent times. The silence of Nazareth should teach us how to meditate in peace and quiet, to reflect on the deeply spiritual, and to be open to the voice of God’s inner wisdom and the counsel of his true teachers. Nazareth can teach us the value of study and preparation, of meditation, of a well-ordered personal spiritual life, and of silent prayer that is known only to God.

Second, we learn about family life. May Nazareth serve as a model of what the family should be. May it show us the family’s holy and enduring character and exemplify its basic function in society: a community of love and sharing, beautiful for the problems it poses and the rewards it brings, in sum, the perfect setting for rearing children – and for this there is no substitute. 

Finally, in Nazareth, the home of a craftsman’s son, we learn about work and the discipline it entails. I would especially like to recognise its value – demanding yet redeeming – and to give it proper respect. I would remind everyone that work has its own dignity. On the other hand, it is not an end in itself. Its value and free character, however, derive not only from its place in the economic system, as they say, but rather from the purpose it serves. 

In closing, may I express my deep regard for people everywhere who work for a living. To them I would point out their great model, Christ their brother, our Lord and God, who is their prophet in every cause that promotes their well being."

Monday, November 30, 2015


Advent is a time of waiting and preparing: part silence and anticipation, part activity and action.  This year, as we prepare to celebrate the coming of the Christ child, I would like to share with you some nuggets gleaned from Mother Mary Francis's book "Come, Lord Jesus, Meditations on the Art of Waiting".  Mother was the abbess of the Poor Clare Monastery in Roswell, New Mexico.  Her reflections sear the heart and stir one's mind to ask with great sincerity, am I preparing for Christ as I ought?  

May God bless each one of us with light, peace, and generosity as we journey to Bethlehem.

Monday, the First Week of Advent: What are the "dark corners" in my life that keep me from God?  What needs to be emptied?  What are the escapes or habits that hinder a generous response to God's will in my life?
Do I rush out to meet God, to serve Him with a generous heart?


Thursday, October 29, 2015

2015-2016 Reading Schedule

WAY 2015-16 Elisabeth Leseur Reading Schedule 


Book: The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur
Each month you will be asked to read a section of her diary, along with one of the monthly retreat topics.  For October we will start with “Silence” and “Resolutions”.  You are encouraged to read her “Daily Thoughts” (pages 147-187) on your own throughout the course of this year. 

October-In Memoriam (pages xiii-xliii), Spiritual Testament (141-145 a letter Elisabeth wrote to her husband titled “For Felix”, pages 287-290 (some copies do not have this letter), and the monthly retreat focused on “Silence” (pages 209-212, and 226). 

November-Journal Part 1 (pages 3-47) and the monthly spiritual retreat: on “Mortification” (pages 212-214). 

December –no regular meeting on Elisabeth, but please read and reflect on the monthly spiritual retreat on “Humility” pages 214-215.  As you read this, consider Mary, our model of humility, asking her to guide you on this “retreat”. 

January- Journal Part 1, continued and the beginning of “Resolutions” (pages 48-79).  Monthly spiritual retreat: “Renunciation” pages 215-216 

February- Resolutions, continued (pages 80-112) and monthly spiritual retreat “Love of Souls” pages 216-217.  

March – No Elisabeth Leseur meeting this month, but please read the monthly spiritual retreat “Serving the Crucified” pages 217-218. 

April – Journal Part 2 (pages 115-145), monthly spiritual retreat “Detachment of Soul” pages 218-220.  

May- Read the monthly spiritual retreat on “Obedience” pages 220-221. ** we may add the reading on Christian Womanhood to this month** 

June- Read “A Call to the Interior Life” and “Living the Spiritual Life” (pages 189-208) and monthly spiritual retreat on “Poverty of Spirit” pages 221-222.   

July- Read “Little Treatises” (233-265) and the monthly spiritual retreat on “Prayer” pages 222-223. 

August – Read “Christian Womanhood” (pages 267-283) and the monthly spiritual retreat on “The spirit of penance” pages 223-224. 

September- Read the monthly spiritual retreat on “Abandonment to God.” Pages 224-226.  

“There is nothing so great or ideally beautiful as the action of God in the human soul.  If we knew how to detect it in ourselves, our lives would be transformed.  If we could see it in others, we would love still more Him who is always in the midst of us, who works marvels in us and who effects these spiritual “rejuvenations” of the soul that we shall come to understand only in eternity.”  
My Spirit Rejoices, p 210

Sunday, August 9, 2015

To lead, to govern, to remain at peace...

"No one can be in the lead who is unwilling to remain in the background, and no one can govern with safety who does not know how to obey.  No one is truly happy who is aware of an unclean conscience."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Twenty

Friday, August 7, 2015

Cultivating interior solitude...

"It is also easier to stay at home alone than to watch what you say when you go out so as not to offend. Therefore, those who intend to lead the interior life and have the grace of devotion must, with our Lord, go away from the crowd.  Unless you like solitude, it is not safe for you to appear in public."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Twenty

Remain silent and avoid speaking too much

"One person has said: "As often as I have been among others, I have returned less a man."  We know this from experience when we talk too long.  It is easier to remain silent than not to say too much when we speak."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Twenty

Monday, August 3, 2015

Meditation versus gossip...

"If you will withdraw from unnecessary talk and useless running about and listening to the latest gossip, you will find the time to occupy yourself with devout meditation.  The greatest Saints avoided the company of worldly people as much as possible, for they preferred to be alone with God."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Twenty

Sunday, August 2, 2015

On the love of solitude and silence

"Seek a convenient time to search your own conscience, meditating on the benefits of God.  Restrain curiosity; read only those things that will move you to contrition rather than give you distraction."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Twenty

Saturday, August 1, 2015

On the reward of being prepared...

"In St. Luke's Gospel we read: "Blessed is that servant if his Master finds him (watching) when He arrives home.  Truly I tell you, He will put him in charge of all his property."  (Lk 12:43, 44)

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Thursday, July 30, 2015

"Let us prepare ourselves for the appointed time…"

"But if it be delayed, we can be sure that we were neither ready nor prepared for that glory, which will be revealed to us in God's time.  Let us then prepare ourselves better for the appointed time."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

...and times we need to live more devoutly

"In this way, we ought to prepare ourselves at holy seasons, living more devoutly and performing our duties more exactly as if we were soon to go before God to receive the reward of our labors."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Our practices have "seasons" too...

"As the principal feasts occur we must renew our pious practices according to the spirit of the feast, fervently asking the Saints to help us.  As the liturgical year unfolds, we should make our resolutions as if we were then to leave this world for the everlasting feast in heaven."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Our size does not fit all...

"The same pious practices are not practical for all; for one suits one person, while another suits someone else.  Different exercises are required for different times, some being more applicable for holy days, others for ordinary days.  Also, we need one kind in time of temptation and another in time of peace and quiet; one when we have devotion, another when devotion is absent."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Monday, July 27, 2015

On surrendering your will...

"Personal penitential practices are best done in private and not openly for others to see.  Do not be more inclined to the devotions of your own choosing than to those that are of religious obligation.  When you have faithfully fulfilled your obligation, then if there is time left, you may perform those devotions according to your inspiration."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Arm yourself with humility...

"Arm yourself with humility and charity so as to ward off attacks of the devil.  Refrain from gluttony and it will be easier for you to restrain carnal desires.  Never be idle: read, write, meditate, pray, or work for the good of the community.  As for bodily mortification, practice these with discretion; for what is profitable for one may harm another."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Saturday, July 25, 2015

On checking your progress...

"If you cannot recollect yourself all the time, you should do so at intervals; for instance, in the morning you should make your resolution for the day, and then in the evening check up on yourself to see what your conduct has been during the day--how you have kept your resolution, what have been your thoughts, words, and actions.  For in any of these ways you may have offended God and your neighbor more often than you think."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Friday, July 24, 2015

On making a firm resolution...

"Nevertheless, we must have a resolve about something definite, particularly concerning those things which are our greatest hindrances.   We should carefully search and put in order both our interior and exterior, for both are necessary to our spiritual progress."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The danger of laziness

"If for the sake of charity a pious practice is omitted, it may be recovered later; but if omitted through laziness or our own negligence, it is not a small fault and will prove harmful.  Although we try our best, some failures will be unavoidable."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Choose God's grace...

"The resolution of devout persons depends more on the grace of God than on their own wisdom. For human beings propose, but God disposes, nor is the course of their life as they would have it."(Jer 10:23)."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Make up your mind...

"Let us then make up our minds to do the best we can; even so our good intention may be hindered in various ways, such as the omission of a good exercise for a slight reason.  It is seldom that such willful omission can be recovered without spiritual loss."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen