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"Be faithful in little things. . ."


I don't know that Blessed Dom Columba was particularly influenced by St. Therese, although he did write a notice supporting the cause of her beatification; however, their messages converge at several points. And I must conclude from this convergence that God chose that particular time in history to clarify the path to Him. For what reason, I cannot say, but it appears that these two great directors of souls really found one very simple way which we still have not come to terms with.

from Union with God
Blessed Dom Columba Marmion

Be faithful in little things, not out of meticulousness, but out of love. Do this to prove to Our Lord that you have the love of a spouse for HIm.


It is a question of giving the first moments of the day to Our Lord or to His enemy, and the whole day bears the reflection of this first choice.


Let us labor to give ourselves to Jesus in the person of others. That admits of much interior renunciation.

Although St. Therese remarked very little on the enemy of God, she certainly taught a lot about doing little things with great faithfulness. Extraordinary measures need not be taken--the ordinary round of life provides ample opportunity for holiness and sanctity. And one of our chief services may be a smile at someone who receives very few.

What these two great spiritual guides did was strip away prolixity, method, and the encrustation of routine. They demanded of themselves and of those who would accept the path they showed an authenticity and a presence that some prior spiritualities tended to obscure. These two stand as great servants of God in the present moment under the present circumstances in present company.

This is nothing new. Brother Lawrence taught sanctity among the pots and pans. St. Benedict's rule emphasizes the "ordinariness" of sanctifying the day.

But these two Saints expressed this simple truth in words for the time. Straightforward, direct, uncompromising--the two tell us in no uncertain terms that the path to holiness is not turning our steps a different direction as we go to market, but turning our hearts a different direction whichever way we go. A transformation of the heart and attentiveness to God in the details of the day is all the fuel we need to accept the Grace of God's omnipresence. We need do nothing extraordinary, we just need to be aware of how extraordinary every moment in His presence is; how every opportunity of the day is an opportunity for grace, peace, love, and security in His presence. He is in every second, every moment of every day. And every moment of every day is His special gift to us.

Generations of teachers have taught this, and still we go looking for the extraordinary. While it is exemplary practice to wake early and spend time in Eucharistic adoration, it is just as extraordinary to recognize Jesus in the presence of our coworkers and to greet Him.

Faithfulness in the small things--in preparing lunch for a hungry child, in taking time out to comfort a sorrowing friend, in smiling at a neighbor, in giving way in traffic although you have every right to continue, in letting God be present through you and in you in every encounter and interaction. Surrender, abandonment of self. And in this season, the abandonment of self to the hope of the Incarnation. We have the face of the baby Jesus to look upon and to delight in. We can join the chorus of the angels in His acclaim. We can sing,

"For unto us a son is given
and his name shall be called
wonderful, counselor, prince of peace, mighty god, holy one,

And it is on that last that we should spend a moment in mediation as we practice the direction of Blessed Columba and St. Therese. Emmanuel--"god with us." For indeed He is, in every moment, in every breath, in every person, in every event, in all that comes to us in the course of the day. Jesus, our Emmanuel, ever present, comforter, King and Brother. Come, Lord Jesus, do not delay, we await you moment by moment, let us see your face in each person who greets us, and more importantly let each person see your light shining out from us. Come, Lord Jesus.

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I can't help it. Two more words from Dom Columba, words that reflect the wisdom of all the Saints through the ages.

from Union with God
Blessed Dom Columba Marmion

Do all things solely for love of Our Lord and, for love of HIm, accept all that He permits; give yourself up to love without looking either to the right or the left. Accept, without troubling yourself about them, the annoyances and difficulties through which you are passing at present. What you have to do by obedience, do as well as ever you can, but without being anxious whether others are pleased with you or blame you, whether they love you or don't love you. It ought to be enough for you to be loved by Our Lord.


Try to smile lovingly at every manifestation of God's will.

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"When you feel invited. . ."


from Union with God
Dom Columba Marmion

When you feel invited to remain in silence at Our Lord's feet like Magdalen just looking at Him with your heart without saying anything, don't cast about for any thoughts or reasonings, but just remain in loving adoration. Follow the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. If He invites you to beg, beg; if to be silent, remain silent; if to show you misery to God, just do so. Let Him play on the fibers of your heart like a harpist, and draw forth the melody He wishes for the Divine Spouse.

Souls like your, called to interior prayer, are often greatly tempted in all ways, by the sense; to blasphemy, pride, etc. Don't be afraid. You can't do anything more glorious to God or more useful to souls than to give yourself to Him. . .

In prayer, don't cast about for useful things to do, or things to occupy the mind while the prayer time continues. Do as God invites you to do; heed the Holy Spirit and you cannot go awry.

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Union with God


Before another moment passes, race over to Disputations and put your name in the lottery for this magnificent book.

This brief notice will not do it justice. I write in the fever of a quick review and hope to draw out from the book over the coming days and weeks some evidence of my enthusiasm.

Dom Columba Marmion's book, a publication of the really superlative Zaccheus Press, is a magnificent companion to and continuation of Jean Pierre de Caussade's Abandonment to Divine Providence. In saying that, I don't wish to diminish its unique qualities--they are many--the gentleness of the voice of Dom Columba, his erudition, and his careful tailoring of his teaching to the individual student, while never compromising the truth. Truly, this is an inspiring, hope-giving work. For those of us in the trenches, who seem like we never move forward, Dom Columba raises the battle cry that will jolt us out of complacency and send us forward.

A couple of examples at random:

from Union with God
Dom Columba Marmion

For you, it is not good to scrutinize the lowest depths of your soul. If during prayer, God throws His light into your soul and in this light reveals to you, your misery and baseness, it is a signal grace. But your are not in a state to examine and analyze your soul in a natural light.

You must be persuaded that your sinful past is in no way an obstacle to very close union with God. God forgives, and His forgiveness is Divine. With the Angels, God was not merciful because they had no miseries. With us, who are full of miseries, God is infinitely merciful. "The earth is full of the mercy of the Lord."

And what might appear astonishing, but is however very true, is that our miseries entitle us to God's mercy.

The little Infant Who is in our heart is gazing on the Face of His FAther. "In the presence of God for us." He sees in His Father's Eternal love the place you occupy, God's plan for you, a plan so minute that "not a hair of your head falls without Him." Give yourself up to Jesus, the Eternal Wisdom in order that He may lead you and guide you to the fulfillment of that ideal.

Each small section provides food for long and fruitful meditation. Magnificent and beautiful.

This year give the Christmas, New Year's, or Lenten gift of hope, love, and Eternal mercy. If you know someone who needs a good source of spiritual reading, this is the book for them. And while you're at it, drop a line to Mr. O'Leary to thank him for bringing these wonderful works back into print. We are truly blessed with our small Catholic Publishers. Let's support them.

Also, look here to see Vultus Christi's much more coherent, cogent review of the same work.

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What We Owe God, and Why

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From Fr. Luis of Granada:

from The Sinner's Guide
Fr. Luis of Granada

The design of this book being to win men to virtue, we shall begin by showing our obligation to practice virtue because of the duty we owe to God. God being essentially goodness and beauty, there is nothing more pleasing to Him than virtue, nothing He more earnestly requires. Let us first seriously consider upon what grounds God demands this tribute from us.

But as these are innumerable, we shall only treat of the six principal motives which claim for God all that man is or all that man can do. The first; the greatest, and the most inexplicable is the very essence of God, embracing His infinite majesty, goodness, mercy, justice, wisdom, omnipotence, excellence, beauty, fidelity, immutability, sweetness, truth, beatitude, and all the inexhaustible riches and perfections which are contained in the Divine Being.

This quotation came to me today in a time of struggling to focus, and it made sense for the day, this being Christ the King.

It's an odd thing but the through and through American Baptist Church always seemed to me to have a better sense of what this feast is about than does most of the Catholic Church. Baptists seem to understand the concept of absolute sovereignty with noblesse oblige. Protestants in general tend, if anything, to overemphasize the concept of sovereignty, neglecting the fact that we always have the right to reject His rule, possibly for eternity. Nevertheless, if there's anything a Calvinist knows and responds to it is the sovereignty of God. Catholics, oddly considering all their ritual, seem to be a more casual people God may be sovereign, but that doesn't really mean much of anything. We are more on the terms of the importunate widow--and as a general thing, that's probably a good thing because it is a closer and more reasonable approach to the God who loves us. But it is also good to have a day to remind us of His Kingship and what that means for us.

So I'm grateful today for Luis of Granada and his reminder that we should not sin firstly because it offends justice, the justice of the God he goes on to describe. Now, why in the world would we even consider such an offense?

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Another Evelyn Underhill Classic


The Life of the Spirit and the Life of To-Day


This book has been called “The Life of the Spirit and the Life of To-day” in order to emphasize as much as possible the practical, here-and-now nature of its subject; and specially to combat the idea that the spiritual life—or the mystic life, as its more intense manifestations are sometimes called—is to be regarded as primarily a matter of history. It is not. It is a matter of biology. Though we cannot disregard history in our study of it, that history will only be valuable to us in so far as we keep tight hold on its direct connection with the present, its immediate bearing on our own lives: and this we shall do only in so far as we realize the unity of all the higher experiences of the race. In fact, were I called upon to choose a motto which should express the central notion of these chapters, that motto would be—“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.” This declaration I would interpret in the widest possible sense; as suggesting the underlying harmony and single inspiration of all man's various and apparently conflicting expressions of his instinct for fullness of life. For we shall not be able to make order, in any hopeful sense, of the tangle of material which is before us, until we have subdued it to this ruling thought: seen one transcendent Object towards which all our twisting pathways run, and one impulsion pressing us towards it.

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For the Feast Day of La Madre


From The Autobiography (XXV: 22)

O my Lord, how true a friend art Thou! how powerful! Thou showest Thy power when Thou wilt; and Thou dost will it always, if only we will it also. Let the whole creation praise Thee, O Thou Lord of the world! Oh, that a voice might go forth over all the earth, proclaiming Thy faithfulness to those who love Thee! All things fail; but Thou, Lord of all, never failest! They who love Thee, oh, how little they have to suffer! oh, how gently, how tenderly, how sweetly Thou, O my Lord, dealest with them! Oh, that no one had ever been occupied with any other love than Thine! It seems as if Thou didst subject those who love Thee to a severe trial: but it is in order that they may learn, in the depths of that trial, the depths of Thy love. O my God, oh, that I had understanding and learning, and a new language, in order to magnify Thy works, according to the knowledge of them which my soul possesses! Everything fails me, O my Lord; but if Thou wilt not abandon me, I will never fail Thee. Let all the learned rise up against me,--let the whole creation persecute me,--let the evil spirits torment me,--but do Thou, O Lord, fail me not; for I know by experience now the blessedness of that deliverance which Thou dost effect for those who trust only in Thee. In this distress,--for then I had never had a single vision,--these Thy words alone were enough to remove it, and give me perfect peace: "Be not afraid, my daughter: it is I; and I will not abandon thee. Fear not."

And in a sense, this may be another response to Mr. O'Rama (see below)--that perhaps the ennui that sets in is a trial of sorts--bear up under it, offer it as a small sacrifice to God and make progress in the Little Way. All of our choices have echoes in eternity.

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Ms. Knapp is really on a roll, but then I haven't known her to stop except for a brief, unavoidable spell away from the computer.

She reports this interview with father Thomas Dubay from one of the CIN Listservs. Well worth your time, as always.

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