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Book Review: Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journal

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For the past weeks I’ve read O’Connor’s prayer journal before falling asleep, then woke to make my morning meditation. It has been a very encouraging experience.

I love O’Connor’s stories, though I can’t always pick out the theme or meaning. O’Connor’s characters are the best. Some of the best elements of her stories are present in the journal. The brutal honesty that we get in her stories is clear in the journal. The attention to character is evident in the way her writing uncovers truths about herself.

However, reading the journal is completely different from reading her stories. There are very few metaphors or any other literary devices, though her genius at metaphor shines through on a couple of occasions like this paragraph from the first entry, “Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon.” (page 3).

Most of the time her writing is a straight forward list of her thoughts.  I don’t know why certain paragraphs struck me, but this one from page 29 got recorded into my prayer journal. “I do not want to be lonely all my life, but people only make us lonelier by reminding us of God.  Dear God, please help me to be an artist, please let it lead to You.”

The organization of the book and the individual entries is a bit muddled, but I think that an honest prayer life would have to be a winding, tumbling one.  The ending is abrupt, leaving me wanting more; but we can expect a satisfying ending on something Flannery never intended to publish.

This book was an enlightening peek into the mind of a very honest, very interesting woman. It encouraged me speak more honestly with God about my desires, failings and gratitude.

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Happy Feast Day, Saint Thomas

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Think of Thomas and you think of doubt, but there is so much more to him than that. This apostle showed his courage and loyalty when Jesus’ friend Lazarus died. Jesus wanted to return to Judea to resurrect Lazarus, but the apostles protested, “The Jews were trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?” (JN 11:8) After some discussion about whether Lazarus was dead or asleep, it became clear that Jesus would not change his mind. Thomas called to the others, “Let us also go to die with him.” (11:16) I’ve always imagined he said this with a certain amount of tongue-in-cheek, but the statement shows thatThomas was willing to follow Jesus even to death. Of course, he fled during the crucifixion, but so did every apostle except John.

And what if Thomas had not doubted the resurrection?  We would not have that touching scene in John 20 when the resurrected Jesus allows Thomas to touch his wounds.  We wouldn’t have Thomas’ loving cry, “My Lord and my God!” (20:28). I like to repeat this simple prayer, especially after receiving communion. Without Thomas’ doubts Jesus might not have said “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” This sentence is one of those beautiful phrases that Jesus speaks not for the apostles, but for us centuries later.


Thomas, sometimes I want to hide my thoughts from God. My thoughts and troubles don’t seem worthy to bring to prayer. Help me to realize that I don’t need to lie to God; in fact, I can’t lie to him. The gentle way Jesus responded to your doubts encourages me. Teach me to bring my little doubts and failings to Jesus so I can experience his tender mercy. Pray for me. Amen.

 

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Happy Feast Day, John the Baptist

 

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John can be a difficult guy to understand, and this can make him tough to befriend.  We know that John is an important patron. Jesus said, “There is no greater man born of woman than John.” Still, when we think of the baptist we picture a rough man covered in camel skins, living a wild existance sustianed by LOCUSTS and honey.

In spite of his unique way of life, John’s pretty simple. The only thing he ever really did was prepare people to encounter Jesus. He helped those around him, repent of their sins and he baptised them as a sign of repentance. John lived in the desert eating and wearing what was available, so he could devote all his energy to his important mission. He didn’t ask anyone to imitate him in his austere life. In fact, his advice to others was pretty doable. To soldiers he said, “Rob no one by violence or false accusation, and be content with your wages.” He told tax collectors to take only what was due. You can find his advice in Luke 3:12-15.


John, for all your wild ways you were pretty clear about how to serve God.  Help me to do my work well and to show justice and charity to my neighbor. Level my valleys of sin and mountains of pride so I am ready to meet Jesus every day and especially when he comes to take me home.

 

 

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Happy Feast Day, Anthony of Padua

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Born in Lisbon in 1195, Anthony grew up in a wealthy household.  When he was 15 he entered a local monastery.  Ten years later he saw the bodies of the first Franciscan martyrs venerated in church. A desire for martyrdom and the Franciscan habit overtook him. Though he missed out on being martyred, he did become a Franciscan.  Anthony was very smart and soon was asked to train novices in the Order of Friars Minor.

Many miracles took place around Anthony.  He blessed poisoned food, given to him by heretics, and made it safe to eat.  He bi-located and predicted future events. There are reports that the infant Jesus appeared to him as well as Anthony’s spiritual father, Saint Francis.  Anthony died of illness on June 13, 1231 at age 36. He is invoked for the recovery of lost items.


Saint Anthony, you are no stranger to me.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve begged you help finding my keys or phone or any number of things. Thank you for always being there. Right now I can’t think of anything that is lost, so I am going to ask your help keeping a few things. Help me to never lose my wonder at spiritual mysteries. Help me to never lose God’s life in my soul through serious sin – and to never lose my faith in God’s mercy when I do sin. Keep my in God’s love. In Christ’s name. Amen

 

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Happy Feast Day, Joan of Arc!

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Joan was born to a pesant family in 1416.  When she was 14 she heard voices from heaven.  Saint Michael, Saint Catherine of Alexandria, and Saint Margaret gave Joan the mission to save France.  She protested that she was a young girl who couldn’t ride or fight, but the saints told her that the mission was from God and she would have to trust him.  Against all expectations, Joan was given sholdiers and led an assult on the Brittish camped outside Orleans.  Her campaign was a success.  After spending some time at court, she took the army to Compiegne.  This attack was unsuccessful.  She was caught by the Brittish and burned as a witch. She died gazing at a cross with Jesus’ name on her lips.


Joan, you know better than anyone that sometimes what God asks of us is intimidating; not because He asks to much, but because we don’t trust enough.  Pray that saints and angels may surround us as we take up our crosses, just as they surrounded you as you took up your banner.  In Christ’s name, Amen.

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Happy Feast Day, Damien of Molokai!

 

damianFather Damien was ordained a priest in Hawaii.  His brother was supposed to go there as a missionary priest, but he became too sick, so Damien took his place.  The priests on the Hawaiian islands took turns ministering to the leper colony on Molokai.  However, soon after Damien arrived for his shift, he asked his bishop for permission to stay permanently.

Damien would not build himself a house until he repaired the church, so he spent his first nights under a large tree.  Father Damien said Mass, administered the sacrament of confession and the sacrament of the sick, built houses, dug gardens, obtained supplies from business owners on the islands and did anything else that needed done.

Eventually Damien contracted leprosy.  He died in 1886.

Father Damien’s good friend and coworker, Joseph Dutton, liked to say, “one’s Molokai can be anywhere.”


 Father Damien, pray for us. Help us to find our own Molokai – a place where we are needed, where we can bring Christ’s love to others.  Pray that we will never leave due to boredom, fatigue or feelings of inadequacy, but that we will stay and be you to the world.  Amen.

 

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Book Review: Fatima in Lucia’s own words

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Fatima in Lucia’s own words is a wonderful primary source about the Marian apparitions that occurred in Portugal in 1917.   Lucia is not a colorful writer, but this adds to the charm of the memoir.  Under obedience to her bishop, she records the lives of the shepherd children and the details of the apparitions with humility and candor.   Reading this book is like sitting down and picking Lucia’s brain, so much fun!

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Happy Feast Day Catherine of Siena! The Book is Ready for Purchase

Today is Catherine of Siena’s Feast Day!

You can order my cartooned biography of this fabulous saint today!

The Kindle version is a great choice because you can read it right away.   It is only $2.99 and you can borrow it for free from the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

  Catherine of Siena: A Simply Saints Book

 

The print version looks so cute!   It is just $6 and worth the wait.  This book should be ready in a week or so.

Besides reading the book there are many ways to celebrate Catherine’s feast day.  Here are some that come to mind:

  • visit the sick
  • pray for the pope
  • receive communion
  • read some of her letters

Have a great day.  God Bless!