Grace-filled monasticism

‘The monastic tradition we have been looking at more or less took it for granted that it is only gradually that we make progress in our christian lives, and that we may never get any further than oscillating between falling and getting up again. As likely as not, our whole life will be one long battle and, when all else fails, we may end up simply saying to God, ‘Lord, save me, whether I like it or not; dust and ashes that I am, I love sin.’

Simon Tugwell O.P., ‘Ways of Imperfection’ p. 37


A reminder that one can never achieve anything without help from above

I will exalt you, Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.

Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
Lord, when you favored me,
you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.

To you, Lord, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
Lord, be my help.”

Psalm 30

On brooding thoughts

‘Back home Sira Eiliv [the priest] admonished her because she brooded so much over her everyday sins – he said this was the temptation of pride. She should simply be diligent with her prayers and good deeds, and then she wouldn’t have time to dwell on such matters. “The Devil is no fool; he’ll realize that he will lose your soul in the end, and he won’t feel like tempting you as much.”‘

Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavransdatter II: The Wife


Lessons in humility

“You are the life of my life. You are the soul of my soul. Therefore, I leave my life and soul in your hands and cling to You completely with a humble heart. May Your eminence regard my lowliness. May Your highness regard my worthlessness (Psalm 113:4-7). Why do I desire to be praised by the world? Nothing in it is pure…In You [may] I rejoice and glory.”

Excerpt from Johann Gerhard, ‘Prayer for the Preservation and Increase in Humility’ in ‘ ‘Meditations on Divine Mercy’ (translated by Matthew Harrison).


Remember that smallness is beautiful too

“The holy person is a hidden person. It is true that God raises up some saints to be heroic, but beneath their heroic accomplishments lies a soul that is hidden in an ordinary life.”

Dwight Longenecker, ‘St Benedict and St Therese’.


When you feel like an utter failure

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12: 7 – 9


The true meaning of being ‘in the flow’

“The University of Chicago psychologist Mihaly Csiksgentmihalyi wrote a book entitled ‘Flow’ in which he presented the findings of years of intensive research into what makes people happy. What he found is that people are content when they are “in the flow,” that is to say, when they have forgotten about themselves and have become lost in an activity, a person, a game. And they are discontented when, either through under stimulation or through fear they lose the flow and fall back onto themselves. None of this should be surprising to us. We have been arguing throughout this book that our souls become sick when they fall out of similitude with God and that they are doctored precisely when they begin to resemble the divine. What Augustine and Thomas say, quite simply, is that God is always in the flow, that he is a constant rhythm of self-forgetting love. And what they imply is that we find our joy inasmuch as we imitate the divine dance.”

Robert Barron, ‘And Now I see: A Theology of Transformation’ (p 186)