The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

Another treasure I bought lately from Thriftbooks.com. I was surprised it came with a dustcover! This was another book recommended by Thomas Merton. This and the Confessions of St. Augustine were both recommended to him by a Hindu Monk, which, as I’ve mentioned before, led in part to his conversion to Catholicism. This copy translated by Ronald Knox is considered the best translation and recommended by scholars and priests alike.

The book of Philemon

What do you miss?? These are my own contemplative thoughts. You might disagree and that’s ok! .

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The book of Philemon is a brief letter from Paul to Philemon begging for the freedom of Philemon’s runaway slave, Onesimus. He asks Philemon to think of Onesimus instead as a brother in Christ. Onesimus knows he must return to his owner because it is the honest thing to do, but this time he comes with a letter, an appeal for his freedom, to be seen and treated as a brother and friend. .

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For a moment we are still. Ask yourself, what do you really miss? It is the question I’ve been asking myself lately as I remember old projects and ambitions I had my heart set on before quarantine. As this time allows for stillness I can self-examine without the usual distractions asking myself—What was holding me captive? Or do I now feel like a prisoner?

I can tell you with all honesty that I don’t miss anything except the freedom to hang out and be close to my family and friends. Host little bbqs, make food for them, talk at a short distance, and even though I’m not much of a hugger, I even miss those. That’s it. My old projects took me to Detroit a lot, but when I think of it, I’ve never been a city girl and lately all I can think about is owning a sheep farm (for milk) and possibly making it a spiritual retreat. I wanted to work with animals when I was a child, where did that inclination go? I have found that I don’t think my purpose is protesting injustice and speaking out aggressively against anything, that is not my nature. God made me for a reason, so what is the honest thing for myself & God’s call for me? It is instead feeding people, whether spiritually or with actual food, beauty, color, light—probably why I loved working the soup kitchen so much. I think if we all asked this question (what do I really miss?) and went back to the places from which we began, I think we would find new things of ourselves.

The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross

I like to follow the breadcrumbs of authors I admire. If an author quotes another or happens to really like a certain book or person then I investigate whomever they suggest. St. John of the Cross is one of those breadcrumbs. I’m so excited to read his work. This book is 800 pages, not exactly something I can take to bed with me, however the task of reading it at my desk will feel very much like a joyful study. His writing is often quoted by some of the most inspiring theologians of all time including Thomas Merton and Saint Therese of Lisieux, so I’ve been looking forward to reading his work for a while now. Can’t wait to dive in!

Tears Today

For months I did my own personal study on tears, because I was crying everyday for various reasons, mostly for other people. Not really knowing what would come of it, I began journaling my experience and realized that my tears for others and tears for my family were a form of contemplative prayer for them. I confided in a priest, telling her that I was crying a lot and, for example, I wept over the story of Jesus learning that his beloved friend, John the Baptist, was beheaded. I wept for John and I wept for Jesus. The priest just blinked at me and she said, “but weeping for someone is not doing anything to help them.” I said “surely my weeping is felt in heaven and my tears are cast upwards as a prayer and shed back down to earth as a blessing of love for whom I am weeping.” I said this in so many words, and as I spoke I realized for the first time that my weeping was prayer. These days when all we CAN do is pray and weep, surely our tears are blessed. It is OK to cry. Tears heal us in so many ways. They are a prayer for your people and a blessing for you. .

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Memoir & Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne

Said to be the calming pastoral voice for Robert Louis Stevenson, The Rev. Robert Murray M’Cheyne was a Presbyterian minister in Edinburgh, Scotland in the early 1800s. Although very passionate in his vocation to ‘Save’ individuals and bring them to Christ, almost obnoxiously so, M’Cheyne’s writing is beautiful and his love & passion for his “flock” is felt throughout his work. One thing he writes that stuck out to me was that we should not just read scripture but try to FEEL the words we are reading. I thought this was very good advice. This work is edited by his good friend Andrew Bonar.

The entire work is a compilation of letters, full sermons, his memoir and his ‘Daily Bread’ calendar, which gives a bit of scripture to read everyday. Some quotes of his I have collected are below…

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“One gem from that ocean [the gospel] is worth all the pebbles of earthly streams.”

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“You know that a lighted lamp is a very small thing, and it burns calmly and without noise; yet “it giveth light to all that are within the house.”

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“Pray that you may pray to God, and not for the ears of man. Feel His presence more than man’s.”

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The book of Deuteronomy

I have no authority to teach you about the books in the Bible. You might disagree with me and that’s OK. 👇👇👇

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“Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordon to posses.” -Deuteronomy 11:8

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In Deuteronomy we hear from Moses himself about the journey into the promise land. But if we take this from a symbolic viewpoint, we see that he is telling that the journey is hard even for the ‘chosen’. Hardships and sacrifices will surely come when we decide to truly follow a holy path—not perfect, but living in the Holy Spirit, recognizing God’s presence in our own being. People will try to make ‘war’ against you when you live this way, because naturally you will become a more gentle and tender person. They might not think you’re fun anymore. They may try to make you feel like you’re lame or boring because you won’t join in with the gossip or masochistic recreation (whatever that may be; little acts of hate can damage the soul). We might have to kill many relationships that are damaging in order to truly follow a new clean path and live in the Spirit—“the land that we are trying to possess”. We may have to cut ties with relationships that may be unheathly and fight against what we’re trying to obtain in a clean mind, body, and spirit. We may have to cut ties with those who fight against a new ‘us’ even if it means cutting ties with parts of ourselves.

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Lamiel by Stendhal

Lamiel, which means devil’s daughter, was the unfinished last novel of Stendhal or Henri Beyle. Because it was unfinished I think Stendhal, if he would have lived, would have made it very different had he the time to edit it. Because it was so sparse regarding detail it is called his best work. I don’t know about that. Lamiel, the protagonist, is on a ‘journey’ to find out what love is. However she is what I would call someone without feeling(a sociopath?)she wants instead violence, she’s frustrated by men if they’re too gaga for her, she plays games with them for her own gain. She’s a hateful character. I really didn’t enjoy the book, plus it’s unfinished, the last half is quickly summarized in one chapter. Critics at the time it was published said it is very true to life, which it isn’t at all. But Stendhal was known for putting a microscope on the psychology of human characters, so as far as that is concerned the work is superb. .

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It’s a cute little copy: 1953. It is rare and in good condition. .

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Paul’s Letter to the Colossians

Let your conversation be always full of grace, ‘seasoned with salt’,
so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

‘Salt’ is one of the most significant words in the whole Bible. We usually hear it in reference to God’s people – ‘salt of the earth’. Because of salt’s preservative nature, Christians, generation after
generation, preserve His name. Also, salt was hard to come by and expensive; Christ’s followers are rare and priceless to Him as He is to us. The words of God give us balance and purify our life as does
salt, as it balances the taste of food, bringing out all the subtle elements which make a flavor more delicate, synchronized, and desirable. Salt is also a necessary nutritional element to life itself; God is also—if only to enjoy in full capacity your life here on earth. Paul is saying here that when we speak, we should have a
little of this good salt on our lips or at least peace, love, and understanding, a balance, a purity. It will make difficult things
easier to say, and it will give mundane conversations life. Because I think to ‘live’ is to recognize that every day is a significant opportunity to cultivate a greater understanding of life, and share
the conundrum of its complexities with one another using the salt on our lips to do so. And in that, even discussing the weather will have as much significance as giving birth to life itself.

The Book of Numbers

*I have no authority to teach you lessons from the Bible, I only hope you will find something useful. You might disagree with my interpretation and that’s OK!

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“When you cross the Jordan in to Canaan, drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places.” –Numbers 33:51

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OK verses such as the above are what gives God a bad rap. It sounds violent and scary and seems to advertise war. But I will tell you that you must not look at the surface for the meaning in scripture, people that do often miss the truth and can interpret wrongly. Go deeper and this verse takes on a different shape entirely: Before your spirit can settle in peace with God and with yourself, drive out all things that are holding you back from a true and pure existence—all that you consider an ‘idol’ should be destroyed. For me, for a long time, my ‘idol’ getting traditionally published. I prayed and prayed for this to happen. But it wasn’t until I read this verse and saw my own folly in holding that goal on a pedestal of importance over many other things, and asking myself exactly WHY I wanted my books out there (was it for selfish reasons, or was my goal to help people?), that I was able to give up the idea and decide instead to be happy no matter what happened to all my books, poems, essays and dedicate my writing to the purpose of GOOD. Once I did this I found a publisher. Call that whatever you like, but I know where this gift came from. Have faith and hope that God will show you the way, but we must be patient and trust Him with all our hearts. That’s what I think anyway.

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St. Teresa de Avila by Herself

Finished this over the weekend. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to entrench themselves in faith reading. At times it was frightening, especially when she talks about seeing visions of the devil. Those were times I wanted to put it down, because that does scare me, and I don’t even believe in such a thing but rather an evil presence in the ether around us. But she also saved me from ever being afraid if I did think otherwise. ‘It’ can’t harm us, she says, because ‘it’ can’t do anything without God’s permission and if we keep God near what can ‘it’ do? With this happy thought I carry on. .

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“Then I snap my fingers at all the devils; they shall be afraid of me. I do not understand these fears which make us cry, ‘The devil, the devil!’ When we might be saying, ‘God! God!’ and make all the devils tremble.” —St. Teresa de Avila

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