St. Paul talks about the Christian life as a race, and encourages us to run so as to win. So it’s not just OK, it’s commanded to be competitive, to strive to excel. But true greatness consists in sharing in the sacrificial love of Christ, who comes to serve rather than to be served. That means that this race St. Paul is talking about is a race to the bottom.

-from 40 Days, 40 Ways

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Being human means that I’m made in God’s image and likeness. Therefore I’m gifted; I have dignity and a great destiny. But being human also means that I’m a creature, not the Creator. I have limits that I need to recognize and respect.

-from 40 Days, 40 Ways

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To be afraid of change is to be afraid of growing up. Change and growth are finally the same thing. Unfortunately, the church has trained many people in not growing up.

-Richard Rohr

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“We must faithfully keep what we have promised. If through human weakness we fail, we must always without delay arise again by means of holy penance, and give our attention to leading a good life and to dying a holy death. May the Father of all mercy, the Son by his holy passion, and the Holy Spirit, source of peace, sweetness and love, fill us with their consolation. Amen.”

-St. Colette

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Dressed in Gentleness by Henri Nouwen

Once in a while we meet a gentle person. Gentleness is a virtue hard to find in a society that admires toughness and roughness. We are encouraged to get things done and to get them done fast, even when people get hurt in the process. Success, accomplishment, and productivity count. But the cost is high. There is no place for gentleness in such a milieu.

Gentle is the one who does “not break the crushed reed, or snuff the faltering wick” (Matthew 12:20). Gentle is the one who is attentive to the strengths and weaknesses of the other and enjoys being together more than accomplishing something. A gentle person treads lightly, listens carefully, looks tenderly, and touches with reverence. A gentle person knows that true growth requires nurture, not force. Let’s dress ourselves with gentleness. In our tough and often unbending world our gentleness can be a vivid reminder of the presence of God among us.

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  Meditation of the Day

“We do find, it is true, great battles to fight, and great hardships to master; but that good Mother makes herself so present and so near to her faithful servants, to enlighten them in their darknesses and their doubts, to strengthen them in their fears, and to sustain them in their struggles and their difficulties, that in truth this virginal path to find Jesus Christ is a path of roses and honey compared with other paths.”

— St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary

Christian Today's photo.

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By way of analogy, we are taught that we all have the same sun shining on us and we all have the same rain falling on us. It is how we deal with sun and rain, how we deal with the happy and the not-so-happy things of life that causes our interior weather. Basically, we do it to ourselves.

-from Sacred Silence

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We love to think how good we are when we pray for the opponent in war or in politics. That, of course, is the trap of pride, and it can deflect us from the real things we need to bring to God in prayer. It is a great deal more difficult to love the one who has hurt us. We do not need to excuse wrongs, or even to forget them, but we must always forgive.

-from Sacred Silence

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God’s Unconditional Love by Henri Nouwen

What can we say about God’s love? We can say that God’s love is unconditional. God does not say, “I love you, if …” There are no ifs in God’s heart. God’s love for us does not depend on what we do or say, on our looks or intelligence, on our success or popularity. God’s love for us existed before we were born and will exist after we have died. God’s love is from eternity to eternity and is not bound to any time-related events or circumstances. Does that mean that God does not care what we do or say? No, because God’s love wouldn’t be real if God didn’t care. To love without condition does not mean to love without concern. God desires to enter into relationship with us and wants us to love God in return.

Let’s dare to enter into an intimate relationship with God without fear, trusting that we will receive love and always more love.

“… What am I afraid of? Does it matter? Will it matter at the end or in the great scheme of things? Is it worth holding on to?” Grace will lead you into such fears and emptiness, and grace alone can fill them up, if we are willing to stay in the void. It is a kind of “negative capability” that God seems to make constant use of. We mustn’t engineer an answer too quickly. We mustn’t get settled too fast. We all want to manufacture an answer to take away our anxiety and settle the dust. To stay in God’s hands, to trust, means that we usually have to let go of our attachments to feelings–which are going to pass away anyway (which is the irony of it all). People of deep faith develop a high tolerance for ambiguity, and come to recognize that it is only the small self that needs certitude or perfect order all the time. The Godself is perfectly at home in the River of Mystery.”

–Richard Rohr

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“When one has nothing more to lose, the heart is inaccessible to fear.”

— St. Théodore Guérin

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“Jesus also teaches me to ‘give to everyone that asketh thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again’ (Luke 6:30) … I used to think I was detached from everything, but now that I understand these words of Jesus, I realize how imperfect I am. If, for example, I find my brushes all over the place when starting to paint, or if a ruler or penknife has disappeared, I have to take strong hold of myself to resist demanding them back with asperity. As I really need them, there is no harm in asking, and I am not going against what Jesus asks if I do so in all humility; on the contrary, I am only acting like the poor, who hold out their hands for alms and are not surprised if they are refused because nobody owes them anything. What peace floods a soul when it soars above natural feelings!”

— St. Therese of Lisieux,

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“Sometimes there is no way we can reconcile the wrongs we have suffered, but interior peace can come from praying for those who have wounded us.”

-from Sacred Silence

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It is often a good thing just to ask in the silent prayer of our hearts for what God wants for us, for how God will guide us through the blinding sandstorm of life, for God perhaps to suggest someone to help. No matter if there are no immediate answers. The important thing is to keep asking.

-from Sacred Silence

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Be Merciful With Ourselves by Henri Nouwen

We need silence in our lives. We even desire it. But when we enter into silence we encounter a lot of inner noises, often so disturbing that a busy and distracting life seems preferable to a time of silence. Two disturbing “noises” present themselves quickly in our silence: the noise of lust and the noise of anger. Lust reveals our many unsatisfied needs, anger or many unresolved relationships. But lust and anger are very hard to face.

What are we to do? Jesus says, “Go and learn the meaning of the words: Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13). Sacrifice here means “offering up,” “cutting out,” “burning away,” or “killing.” We shouldn’t do that with our lust and anger. It simply won’t work. But we can be merciful toward our own noisy selves and turn these enemies into friends.

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Befriending our Inner enemies by Henri Nouwen

How do we befriend our inner enemies lust and anger? By listening to what they are saying. They say, “I have some unfulfilled needs” and “Who really loves me?” Instead of pushing our lust and anger away as unwelcome guests, we can recognize that our anxious, driven hearts need some healing. Our restlessness calls us to look for the true inner rest where lust and anger can be converted into a deeper way of loving.

There is a lot of unruly energy in lust and anger! When that energy can be directed toward loving well, we can transform not only ourselves but even those who might otherwise become the victims of our anger and lust. This takes patience, but it is possible.

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“Humility is crucial to the Lenten journey, and it is truly difficult for anyone to be humble. Sometimes we really do know more than the next person. Sometimes we really do know what is correct or more life-giving. But unless it is our job to correct, we do not need to go about fixing everyone and everything.”

-from Sacred Silence

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“God does not love you because you are good; God loves you because God is good. And then you can be good because you draw upon such an Infinite Source. The older I get, the more I am sure that God does all the giving and we do all of the receiving. God is always and forever the initiator in my life, and I am, on occasion, the half-hearted respondent. That’s just true! My mustard seed of a response seems to be more than enough for a humble God, even though the mustard seed is “the tiniest of all the seeds” (Matthew 13:32).

from Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality

Eye contact is more than a polite gesture – it is a simple yet meaningful acknowledgement of Christ in the other.

-from Tweet Inspiration

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“By reason of His immensity, God is present everywhere; but there are two places where He dwells in a particular manner. One is in the highest heavens, where He is present by that glory which He communicates to the blessed; the other is on earth—within the humble soul that loves Him.”
— St Alphonsus Liguori

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  Meditation of the Day

“Furthermore, let us produce worthy fruits of penance. Let us also love our neighbors as ourselves. Let us have charity and humility. Let us give alms because these cleanse our souls from the stains of sin. Men lose all the material things they leave behind them in this world, but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give. For these they will receive from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve. We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh. Rather we must be simple, humble and pure. We should never desire to be over others. Instead, we ought to be servants who are submissive to every human being for God’s sake. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on all who live in this way and persevere in it to the end. He will permanently dwell in them. They will be the Father’s children who do his work. They are the spouses, brothers and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

— St. Francis of Assisi, p. 333

“If you become Christ’s you will stumble upon wonder upon wonder, and every one of them true.”

— St. Brendan of Birr

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Lord, you love people, not programs. Help us see people as you do. We seek your presence each day in prayer so that we may love you more deeply and honor your image in each person we meet throughout the day.
—Joel Schorn

-from Woman of Strength

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Dear Friends,

Main Street Rag Publishing Company has decided to publish my book Every Tender Reed. It’s due to be released in May and will sell for $14, but you can get it now for $8 by placing an advance discount order at the MSR Online Bookstore.

Here’s a link directly to my author’s page:

http://mainstreetragbookstore.com/?product=every-tender-reed

Those of you who don’t like buying online, Main Street Rag will take checks, but the price is a flat rate of $12.50/book regardless of quantity which includes shipping and sales tax.

Please remember, though. This is for advance orders. It doesn’t mean the book will be shipped early, only that you are receiving a discount for ordering before it goes to press, but the price will only last for a limited time, so order now!

Thank you,

Helen Losse

February 2016
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