Tag Archives: religion

Book of Hours


St Ambrose, Book of Hours

Book of Hours of Catherine of Cleves: St Ambrose. 1434-40

I love these little miniature books and can only imagine the life’s blood that went into them by the artists.  Look at the mussels or clams rendered in this picture.  Gorgeous!

Why mussels?  “The peaceful coexistence of the crab and mussels surrounding St. Ambrose, for example, are a commentary on his preaching abilities, for it was said he could reconcile the most bitter of enemies. (In the natural world mussels clamp down in the presence of crabs, which crave their delicate flesh.)”

Check this link.  You can see all of the Book of Hours in all its glory.  The internet is a blessing for me today!


Another Meditation Time


I read copiously and find little secrets everywhere.  Especially the mysticism of the Catholic Church.  Although a Southern Baptist, I have always been drawn to the beauty and ritual of Catholicism.  See Thomas Merton below – I think we share many of the same feelings.

I ran across this one today at  thinkJesuit.org.  It’s called Rummaging for God – Praying Backwards.  I’m going to add this meditation to the end of my day, along with my one in the morning before work, to see what else I can learn and apply to my spiritual life.  (This is just the meditation part.  Read the whole article for a beautiful explanation of the purpose of this meditation and why Father Hamm’s called it Rummaging.)

A Method: Five Steps

Pray for light. Since we are not simply daydreaming or reminiscing but rather looking for some sense of how the Spirit of God is leading us, it only makes sense to pray for some illumination. The goal is not simply memory but graced understanding. That’s a gift from God devoutly to be begged. “Lord, help me understand this blooming, buzzing confusion.”

Review the day in thanksgiving. Note how different this is from looking immediately for your sins. Nobody likes to poke around in the memory bank to uncover smallness, weakness, lack of generosity. But everybody likes to fondle beautiful gifts, and that is precisely what the past 24 hours contain — gifts of existence, work-relationships, food, challenges. Gratitude is the foundation of our whole relationship with God. So use whatever cues help you to walk through the day from the moment of awakening — even the dreams you recall upon awakening. Walk through the past 24 hours, from hour to hour, from place to place, task to task, person to person, thanking the Lord for every gift you encounter.

Review the feelings that surface in the replay of the day. Our feelings, positive and negative, the painful and the pleasing, are clear signals of where the action was during the day. Simply pay attention to any and all of those feelings as they surface, the whole range: delight, boredom, fear, anticipation, resentment, anger, peace, contentment, impatience, desire, hope, regret, shame, uncertainty, compassion, disgust, gratitude, pride, rage, doubt, confidence, admiration, shyness — whatever was there. Some of us may be hesitant to focus on feelings in this over-psychologized age, but I believe that these feelings are the liveliest index to what is happening in our lives. This leads us to the fourth moment:

Choose one of those feelings (positive or negative) and pray from it. That is, choose the remembered feeling that most caught your attention. The feeling is a sign that something important was going on. Now simply express spontaneously the prayer that surfaces as you attend to the source of the feeling — praise, petition, contrition, cry for help or healing, whatever.

Look toward tomorrow. Using your appointment calendar if that helps, face your immediate future. What feelings surface as you look at the tasks, meetings and appointments that face you? Fear? Delighted anticipation? Self-doubt? Temptation to procrastination? Zestful planning? Regret? Weakness? Whatever it is, turn it into prayer — for help, for healing, whatever comes spontaneously. To round off the examen, say the Lord’s Prayer.

A mnemonic for recalling the five points:
LTJF (light, thanks, feelings, focus, future).
Do it.

Take a few minutes each day to pray through the past 24 hours, and toward the next 24 hours, with that five-point format.

Michelangelo – Genius Painter, Brilliant Poet


From another one of my favorite blogs, A-Mused.  If you need an uplifting read, highly recommended!  Before you start, or when you finish, you can see a beautiful 360 degree panorama with heavenly music here.

THE SISTINE CHAPEL – “Without having seen the Sistine Chapel, 
it’s not possible to have an idea of what one man is capable of doing” | Goethe

On November 1, All Saint’s Day, Pope Julius II celebrated a mass in the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City for the first time in at least four years. Those who attended were the first people to see one of the most celebrated works of Western art—the magnificent frescoes painted by Michelangelo Buonarroti on the chapel’s ceiling.The earliest witnesses marvelled at the ceiling as much as people today do. Giorgio Vasari, artist and biographer of artists, wrote nearly forty years later that “When the work was thrown open, the whole world could be heard running up to see it, and, indeed, it was such as to make everyone astonished and dumb.”Below, is Michelangelo’s own poem about the awkward parturition of the Sistine Chapel. He provides a refreshing dose of reality. He writes energetically about despair, detailing with relish the unpleasant side of his work on the famous ceiling.

Michelangelo: To Giovanni da Pistoia 
When the Author Was Painting the Vault of the Sistine Chapel” —1509

I’ve already grown a goiter from this torture,
hunched up here like a cat in Lombardy
(or anywhere else where the stagnant water’s poison). https://i1.wp.com/25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mcrk57VSuK1qfvq9bo1_1280.jpg
My stomach’s squashed under my chin, my beard’s
pointing at heaven, my brain’s crushed in a casket,
my breast twists like a harpy’s. My brush,
above me all the time, dribbles paint
so my face makes a fine floor for droppings!

My haunches are grinding into my guts,
my poor ass strains to work as a counterweight,
every gesture I make is blind and aimless.
My skin hangs loose below me, my spine’s
all knotted from folding over itself.
I’m bent taut as a Syrian bow.

Because I’m stuck like this, my thoughts
are crazy, perfidious tripe:
anyone shoots badly through a crooked blowpipe.

My painting is dead.
Defend it for me, Giovanni, protect my honor.
I am not in the right place—I am not a painter.

Translated by Gail Mazur

Thomas Merton


The Intimate MertonI have always loved the writings and struggles of Thomas Merton.  Today Kindle has the book The Intimate Merton on sale for $3.99.  I had to have it!  Looks like a long weekend of reading for me.  The book is 400 pages culled from 27 years of personal diaries.  Of course, those pages close to his fifitieth year really speak to me.  You do feel like you should have figured it out at this age, but I guess there is always room to change and grow.  Here’s hoping it’s in a GOOD direction.

Star Wars Characters as Religious Icons


When I was a twelve-year-old girl, Star Wars hit the big screen.  I LOVED IT!  I saw it fourteen or fifteen times,  most of those alone.  I bought a signed photo of Mark Hamill in his Storm Trooper uniform.  I sat on the front row a couple of times and endured having pre pubescent boys in the rows behind me throw popcorn in my hair and giggle throughout the first part of the movie.  Although too young to want to read the screen, once the Empire ship began to move over them, they became quiet.

There aren’t many movies that become almost a religious experience.  And now, if you so desire, you can have even MORE of a religious experience with some slightly sacrilegious (unless you’re a fanatic) iconic paintings.

Star Wars medieval art

St Francis of Assisi



bird took flight.
And a flower in a field whistled at me
as I passed.

I drank
from a stream of clear water.
And at night the sky untied her hair and I fell asleep
clutching a tress
of God’s.

When I returned from Rome, all said to me,
“Tell us the great news,”

and with great excitement, I did: “A flower in a field whistled,
and at night the sky untied her hair and
I fell asleep clutching a
sacred tress …”

Francis of Assisi as rendered by Daniel Ladinsky in Love Poems from God, Page 32

CELEBRATING FRANCIS<br /><br /><br /><br />
Today the Catholic church celebrates the feast of Francis of Assisi. To celebrate this day I prayed with this poem early this morning. Walk with these simple verses through this day and let the spirit of Francis wash over you.<br /><br /><br /><br />
WHEN I RETURNED FROM ROME<br /><br /><br /><br />
Abird took flight.And a flower in a field whistled at meas I passed.<br /><br /><br /><br />
I drankfrom a stream of clear water.And at night the sky untied her hair and I fell asleepclutching a tressof God’s.<br /><br /><br /><br />
When I returned from Rome, all said to me,“Tell us the great news,”<br /><br /><br /><br />
and with great excitement, I did: “A flower in a field whistled,and at night the sky untied her hair andI fell asleep clutching asacred tress …”<br /><br /><br /><br />
Francis of Assisi as rendered byDaniel Ladinsky in Love Poems from God, page 32<br /><br /><br /><br />
Photo | I am not aware of the original source of this sculpture of Francis but I know it is found in Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery in Naperville, Illinois. If anybody knows the name of the artist who sculpted this wonderful image of Francis  please let me know.


Have you had the vague discomfort, small anger that comes from feeling intuitively that you are missing something big and important, that there has to be more than the day to day existence of frustrating and boring moments?  Thomas Merton is one of my favorite writers.  He’s gone through the crucible and come out into the colors on the other side.

When we live superficially … we are always outside ourselves, never quite ‘with’ ourselves, always divided and pulled in many directions … we find ourselves doing many things that we do not really want to do, saying things we do not really mean, needing things we do not really need, exhausting ourselves for what we secretly realize to be worthless and without meaning in our lives.  —Thomas Merton

Thoughts in Solitude (Thomas Merton)

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
And the fact that I think
that I am following your will
Does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire
in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything
apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me
By the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
And in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
And you will never leave me to face my perils alone.


The still small voice

Meditation Success


What Are the Meanings of the Various Colors of Religious Votive Candles? thumbnail Well, I meditated in the Florence Baptistry in my head for about 8 minutes – then I heard my better half rooting around in the kitchen trying to make a sandwich.  But those 8 minutes were good – I had the smell going, that dusty lemon wood sunshine smell, and the cold of the marble floors underneath me, the flames of the candles and the inside echo keeping outside sounds at a minimum.  I can definitely see why meditation is so good for those in   pain or immobile.  You can create your own world!  Thanks be to G_d.


Today, I meditate in Florence – umm, in my head.


I came back to the U.S. three years ago after a total of 16 years abroad.  One of the things I miss most – the quiet, yet sonorous cathedrals and chapels.  I would duck into every one I came across while walking through Vienna, Berlin, Munich and Prague.  Why don’t the churches in the U.S. ever feel holy without people inside?  The buildings sometimes are beautiful, but they don’t stir my soul.  Standing in the center of this Baptistry and looking at the ceiling would calm me and the meditation/mindfulness would be off the charts!  Note to self – next meditation, picture myself in this room with candles.  Om.

Florence Baptistry