Quenching Our Thirst from the Stream of God’s Delight

Jesus, my Lord my God my All
By George Henry Grenville Manton

They feast on the rich food of your house; from your delightful stream you give them drink. For with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light.

Psalm 36:9-10

There is a placid stream that flows from the right side of the Temple, from the side of Christ. Out of the ardor of His love, from the depths of His goodness, our Lord, our beloved Rock was struck and we can quench our thirst from the wellsprings of our Savior. Gazing into these life-giving waters, we now see our true image reflected, our very identity.

This identity is not found in people’s perception of us, or even in our own regard for ourselves. People are fickle, and we are inconstant. Our worth is indeed so much more than that.

Our value is found in God, in what He thinks of us.

Our value is found in the mind of God, in the Heart of God, our essence is found in the God who made us and redeemed us.

The reality is that we are loved, infinitely, completely, ardently, loyally. We are loved in the all-consuming flames of God’s love.

We may not feel this love, this value. Our self-esteem may lack the ability just now to perceive of our true identity. It may take time, it may require many visits to the Wellsprings of the Savior, when we will allow ourselves to peer deeply into His depths of love and begin to believe that we are so precious to God.

The mystical poet Caryll Houselander has written:

We go through life with dark forces within us and around us, haunted by the ghosts of repudiated terrors and embarrassments, assailed by devils, but we are also continually guided by invisible hands; our darkness is lit by many little flames, from night-lights to the stars. Those who are afraid to look into their own hearts know nothing of the light that shines in the darkness.

Quoted in The Spiritual Path of Caryll Houselander, p. 102

Do not be afraid to look into the heart! For too long we have believed the infernal lie that we are unloved, that our identity is found in the whims of ourselves and others. Can someone so precious be regarded in so intemperate a fashion!

No! Our identity is rooted in the very heart of God! Our identity is found in the eternal fidelity of his love!

By those ‘invisible hands’, those many ‘little flames’, those ‘night-lights’ along the way’ – those graces that God sends us through people and situations, we begin to have the faintest glimpse of God’s perception of us.

By faith, we can realize what we are worth in his eyes! We are valued at the very price of the Precious Blood of the Son of God! We are loved eternally, and our identity is found in the very Heart of God!

Beauty is in the Heart of God

Middletown, Pennsylvania

It has been said, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

According to this thinking, beauty is perceived as a superficial thing, determined by the taste of the onlooker.

Last evening, my Superior and I went to a nearby orchard, down the road, just past the horse farm.

Along the way we observed the most beautiful, breathtaking view. A magnificent sky and gorgeous creatures -majestic horses. I asked the superior to please stop the car, and I took the above picture on the phone.

I later posted the image on social media with the caption, “What a glorious view, this Pennsylvania, this America!”

Why did I perceive this sight as beautiful? Why did it stir my soul so deeply? Why was I profoundly moved to think of the Creator who made all this beauty? And why did I receive such an overwhelming response to this picture on social media, specifically about its beauty?

The answer is to be found in a much deeper reality – the fact that beauty is not defined by the eye of the beholder, but is rather painted and recognized in the very heart of God, the God in whose image we are created.

When beauty is seen as having its origin in God, it becomes something holy, something even eternal. It is not that which passes with age, or something purchased in a bottle; neither is beauty determined by a human being.

If beauty is the sign of God’s handiwork, seek beauty, treasure it, consider that you are truly beautiful, fashioned as you in in love by God, in His image, a reflection of God’s own perfect beauty and artistry.

Great is the LORD and worthy of much praise, whose grandeur is beyond understanding. One generation praises your deeds to the next and proclaims your mighty works. They speak of the splendor of your majestic glory.”

Ps 145:3-5a

St. Therese and the Rosary

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“Prayer is, for me, an outburst from the heart; it is a simple glance darted upwards to Heaven; it is a cry of gratitude and of love in the midst of trial as in the midst of joy! In a word, it is something exalted, supernatural, which dilates the soul and unites it to God”

St. Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul, Chapter 10

To read this definition of prayer by the great Doctor of the Church, St. Therese of Lisieux, it becomes tempting to think that her prayer was full of consolation and sweetness.  Nothing could be further from the truth. The young Carmelite actually experienced the most profound darkness until her death.  

Knowing her struggles became consoling for me, particularly that she experienced aridity in praying the rosary.

When I first entered religious life, I became discouraged that I myself had such aridity, especially when praying the rosary.  I could see that the other Sisters did not share my trial, and they often prayed extra rosaries in their devotion. 

I had always found the prayer of the rosary tedious. As a child, my favorite prayer during the family rosary had invariably been the Hail, Holy Queen signaling the approaching end of my ordeal of this prayer!  

Later in the convent, I hid my troubles about this prayer quite well, but it filled me with alarm.  How consoling to discover that St. Therese experienced this too.  St. Therese wrote in her Story of a Soul: 

“…(I am ashamed to admit it) the recitation of the rosary is more difficult for me than the wearing of an instrument of penance. I feel I have said this so poorly! I force myself in vain to meditate on the mysteries of the rosary; I don’t succeed in fixing my mind on them.

St. Therese was disturbed by her aridity during Rosary. She wrote in her Autobiography: 

For a long time I was desolate about this lack of devotion which astonished me, for I love the Blessed Virgin so much that it should be easy for me to recite in her honor prayers which are so pleasing to her.

She was able to resolve this by considering how the Blessed Mother would see things:

Now I am less desolate; I think that the Queen of heaven, since she is my MOTHER, must see my good will and she is satisfied with it.

In such aridity, St. Therese had recourse to vocal prayers prayed slowly: 

Sometimes when my mind is in such aridity that it is impossible to draw forth one single thought to unite me with God, I very slowly recite an “Our Father” and then the angelic salutation [“Hail Mary, full of grace, etc.]; then these prayers give me great delight; they nourish my soul much more than if I had recited them precipitately a hundred times.

The saint gave me hope that I too could find a way to offer this prayer well, despite how painful the prayer often became for me.

What is significant  to remember also is that St. Therese did not use her aridity as an excuse to omit the Rosary.  She struggled to make an offering of it. How efficacious would such a prayer be, made in darkness, without a shred of consolation! 

St. Therese, our model in prayer, pray for us! 

Striving for the greatest purity of soul.

“From today onwards, I am going to strive for the greatest purity of soul, that the rays of God’s grace may be reflected in all their brilliance.”

St. M. Faustina Kowalska, Diary, 805

Dear Reader, today is the Memorial of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, the Polish Sister of Our Lady of Mercy who in the 1930’s was given by God the task of telling the world about the message of God’s tender mercy. What a wonderful patron for girls, given that her Congregation was especially dedicated to working with girls. Entrust yourself to the example and intercession of this saint, and you will not be disappointed in the progress your soul will make.

In 1929, St. Faustina received a great grace for purity. She wrote:

“Once during Holy Mass, I felt in a very special way the closeness of God, although I tried to turn away and escape from Him. … During Holy Mass, before Communion, we had the renewal of vows. When we had left our kneelers and had started to recite the formula for the vows, Jesus appeared suddenly at my side clad in a white garment with a golden girdle around His waist, and He said to me, I give you eternal love that your purity may be untarnished and as a sign that you will never be subject to temptations against purity. Jesus took off His golden cincture and tied it around my waist. Since then I have never experienced any attacks against this virtue, either in my heart or in my mind. I later understood that this was one of the greatest graces which the Most Holy Virgin Mary had obtained for me, as for many years I had been asking this grace of Her. Since that time I have experienced an increasing devotion to the Mother of God. She has taught me how to love God interiorly and also how to carry out His holy will in all things, O Mary, You are joy, because through You God descended to earth [and] into my heart.”

St. M. Faustina Kowalska, Diary, 40

Why should we value purity? Because God does. Our Lord even said during his Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). St. Paul also pointed out that our purity follows from the fact that we are a dwelling place for God. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body” (1 Cor 6:19-20)

The Blessed Virgin, Mary Immaculate, will be our model, as she was for the Saints, for a perfect purity of mind, soul and body. By cooperating with this most pure Virgin, she will preserve our purity or, if it has been lost, obtain the grace of its restoration.

Dear Mary, help us to be pure as you are pure, holy as you are holy!

You are all air, O Mary: the original stain is not in you. You are the glory of Jerusalem. You are the joy of Israel. You are the great honor of our people. You are the advocate of sinners. O Mary, O Mary, Virgin most prudent, Mother most merciful, pray for us. Intercede for us with our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

To A Catholic Girl: Become a Saint!

Charles Bosseron Chambers, The models for men and women, c. 1930

When our Congregation was founded in Krakow, Poland in 1894, by St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar and Blessed Klara Szczesna, our religious family of Sisters was founded to work with girls. In those days in Poland, many girls were coming from rural districts to the cities to work in the homes of the wealthy. Our founders wanted to protect and preserve these girls from exploitation and loss of virtue. They knew that a holy girl can be a very powerful person indeed for the Church, for her family and for society at large.

“This is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thes. 4:3). God is inviting all of us to become saints, in every age and walk of life. I appeal to all girls who are reading this, “My young friend, be holy!” It is the key to your happiness, your character, your fulfillment of your mission in life!

In this blog, I hope to call you, dear reader, to the Wellsprings of the Savior, which is the Heart of Jesus. By reflection, stories, examples and prayers, may you be encouraged to become the saint God is calling you to be!

All you who thirst, come to the fountain of salvation

The founder of our Congregation of the Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar teaches us that “the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is the wellspring overflowing with graces from which all can draw; the source which is accessible to all.

The Lord Jesus invites everyone to this fountain: All you who thirst, come to the water. Come, arid hearts, and those consumed with the fever of worries and temptations; come, draw from this source the water of life. Hearts, wounded and weak, come to be healed and to find your strength in It. Hasten to the Divine Heart in all your spiritual and temporal needs. You need not look far, for this Heart lives always in the Most Blessed Sacrament. As many times as you receive Holy Communion, so often do you press your lips to the opened Heart of Jesus.”

Taken from Meditations on the Sacred Heart by St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar