Wonder & Whimsy: our identity, mission, and merciful Love

A weekly curation of quotations I come across in my reading life (or on random condiment jars) — from the inspirational to the miscellaneous. Perhaps one inspires you or catches your fancy too…

Our identity…

“We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures. We are the sum of the Father’s love for us.” – St. John Paul II

Our mission…

“We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those that have lost their way.” St. Francis of Assisi

Our merciful Love…

“Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,

     Guilty of dust and sin.

But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack

From my first entrance in,

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,

If I lack’d anything.

 

A guest, I answer’d, worthy to be here:

Love said, You shall be he.

I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,

I cannot look on thee.

Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,

Who made the eyes by I?

 

Truth Lord, but I have marr’d them: let my shame

Go where it doth deserve.

And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?

My dear, then I will serve.

You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:

So I did sit and eat.”

(“Love” by George Herbert)

 

Wonder & Whimsy: redeemed desires and a healthy tension

A weekly curation of quotations I come across in my reading life (or on random condiment jars) — from the inspirational to the miscellaneous. Perhaps one inspires you or catches your fancy too…

Redeemed desires…

“Living the Christian life is not a matter of repressing our desires, but of redeeming them.” – Christopher West

What are you working with?

“He who works with his hands is a laborer.

He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.

He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”

– attributed to Louis Nizer

A tension that should be present…

“Wanderlust and my longing for home are birthed from the same place: a desire to find the ultimate spot this side of heaven…My equal pull between both are fueled by my hardwired desire for heaven on earth. And I know I’ll never find it.” – Tsh Oxenreider, At Home in the World

I love because I love…

“Love is sufficient of itself. It gives pleasure by itself and because of itself. It is its own merit, its own reward. Love looks for no cause outside itself, no effect beyond itself. Its profit lies in its practice. I love because I love, I love that I may love. Love is a great thing so long as it continually returns to its fountainhead, flows back to its source, always drawing from the water which constantly replenishes it.” – St. Bernard (OOR, “I Love Because I Love…”)

 

My Reading Challenge Pick for…”a book recommended by a priest or spiritual director”

Summer is speeding by! So is the time left to get through some picks for the 2018 Catholic Reading Challenge. I am continuing to share what I am reading for the challenge with you. Do you love conversion stories? Me too!

Category: “A book recommended by a priest or spiritual director”

My Pick: An Immoveable Feast: How I Gave Up Spirituality for a Life of Religious Abundance by Tyler Blanski

Our dear friend (and godfather to our son Sam), Fr. Matt, is often sending us books or records in the mail. I know, awesome, right? When this one arrived on our doorstep a couple of months, I was really excited. Not only had I heard good things about it already, but I also LOVE conversion stories of how people discovered God’s call to come into the Catholic Church. I can’t put them down once I start. This was the case with both Scott and Kimberly Hahn’s Rome Sweet Home and Jennifer Fulwiler’s Something Other Than God.

Every conversion story is unique and quite shaped by the author’s own personal narrative and spiritual journey. What is particularly compelling about Blanski’s story is that he was in seminary to become an Anglican priest when he came into the Catholic Church. In fact, he was only a few months away from ordination when he finally conceded that Catholicism was the truth, and must therefore be his and his family’s home. It was not at all a convenient conclusion or easy decision. He and his wife were about to welcome their first child and in the process of planting an Anglican Church, for which they had been fundraising. They had major skin in the game. His livelihood was literally on the line. Obeying the Holy Spirit and walking out what he had come to realize was true meant surrendering the life he had planned to live.

But his account demonstrates how, despite the difficulties, he really had no other choice. He found himself at a critical crossroad, after living a type of faith that he ultimately found to be short of the fullness of the Gospel. As a millennial, growing up in a baptist church and youth group, he had an emotive early faith experience that developed into a fairly consumeristic, personal spirituality. As he describes it, he had Jesus — he didn’t think he needed religion or the church to facilitate that relationship. He was actually drawn mostly to the aesthetic of Anglicanism originally, finding it comfortable to take the tradition and liturgy and still rely mostly on his own personal interpretations of all but the most basic theological tenets. He puts it this way:

“Growing up, I thought the good news was that I could have a personal relationship with Jesus–without religion. I wanted the King but not the Kingdom, the head but not the body, the vine but not the branches, a culture but not the cult. But like the Incarnation of Christ himself, the Church is a historic fact. She is the social continuity of the Incarnation” (p. 262).

This is a conversion story with a lot of theological meat on it’s bones, as Blanski shares Scripture passages and insights from  his personal study to illustrate the progression of his spiritual journey. I think that he also gives an poignantly accurate description of the spiritual experience common to most millennials in general, and those who were raised in the Evangelical tradition in particular. From that perspective, the book contributes to the greater body literature on a particular religious landscape.

Why do I love reading these conversion stories? They super-charge my faith in the work of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives. It’s a shot in the spiritual arm. It is so easy for us to forget that God speaks to everyone. We tend to want to be His voice or take control — whether it be with a family member, a friend, or our children. But the Father calls to us all; he is radically chasing after each one of us. In every story like this, that is what comes through (in such beautifully unique ways) — He’s chasing after each one of us with his merciful, endless love.


What did you read for “a book recommended by a priest or spiritual director”?

 

Copyright 2018 Jessica Ptomey