Tag Archives: spirituality

Apart from God is nothingness

Thinking about prayer, my desire to pray and the priest’s duty to be man of prayer, I found this reflection on prayer, dependence on God helpful. I think Dom Augustin’s essay is quite good at getting the heart of reality. Perhaps it be helpful for you, too.

The reasons for
praying are as numerous as they are imperative. They correspond to all our
needs without exception, and to all occasions. They are also in accord with the
favors we receive in answer to our prayers and to God’s rights over His

Our divine
Master’s word has explored and lighted up everything, our human world and God’s
world. He revealed the powerlessness of the first when He said: “Without Me,
you can do nothing” (John 15:5).


We have read
these words often enough, but without penetrating them. We no more understand
the “nothing” than we do the “all.” The nature of our being does not allow us
to understand it. We do not look at our tiny being as it actually is in the light
of the “all.” We do not compare the hours of our life, so short and transient,
with God’s changeless eternity. We do not see the place we occupy in the
universe as compared to His immensity, which infinitely overflows our tiny
universe, and could embrace numberless others, far greater than ours. Above
all, we forget that our being is not ours. 

Moment by moment we receive the tiny
drop of being that God designs to give us. The only reason we have it is
because He gives it to us; and having received it, immediately it begins to
dissolve; it slips through our fingers and is replaced by another which escapes
us with the same rapidity. All this being comes from God and returns to Him; it
depends upon Him alone. We are like vessels into which He pours that being drop
by drop, so as to create a bond of dependence upon Him, whereby His Being is
manifested and made known and, when lovingly welcomed, is glorified.

Prayer is this
intelligent vessel, which knows, loves, thanks and glorifies
. It says, in
effect: My God, the present moment and the light by which I am aware of it,
comes from You. My mind, which appreciates it; the upward leaping of my heart
which responds to that recognition and thanks You for it; the living bond
created by this moment — all is from You. Everything comes from You. All that
is within me, all that is not You; all created beings and their movements; my
whole being and its activities all is from You. Without You nothing exists;
apart from You is just nothingness; apart from Your Being there is merely non-

How this
complete dependence, upon which I have so often and so deeply meditated, ought
to impress me! I feel that it plunges me into the depths of reality, into
. Nevertheless, it does not completely express that reality. There was a
time when this nothingness rose up in opposition to “Him Who is”. It wanted to
be independent of Him; it put itself forward, refused to obey Him and cut
itself off from Him. It made war on Him and became His enemy. It destroyed His
Image in the heart’s citadel where hitherto He had reigned, and usurped His
Throne. These are only metaphors, and they do not do justice to the real horror
of the plight created by sin; but we must be content with them, as they are all
we have. We must remember, however, that they are completely inadequate.

And every day we
add to this predicament, already so grave. Every personal sin of ours is an
acceptance of this state: we choose it, we love it and prefer it to union with
. We lap up, as it were, these sins like water. We take pleasure in plunging
into them as into a stream, the waters of which rise persistently, and in time
overwhelm us and carry us away. They toss us about like a straw, and submerge
us. Thoughts, feelings, words, really bad acts and innumerable omissions fill
our days and nights, and intermingle, more or less consciously, with our every
movement, and at all hours. They spoil the purity of our ordinary actions such
as eating and drinking; they introduce themselves into our sleep and mix with our
waking movements, and with our external acts as with our most intimate
thoughts. Because of our fallen state, everything becomes matter and occasion
to drag us down further into evil.

Dom Augustin Guillerand, O. Cart. (1877-1945), The Prayer of the Presence of God

9 stages of the spiritual life according to Jean-Baptiste Chautard

I recommend to your consideration the stages of the spiritual life outlined by Jean-Baptiste Chautard in his book The Soul of the Apostolate. The 9 stages are listed by Capuchin Friar Charles on his blog, a minor friar.

What do we owe others?

The renowned German Lutheran theologian Dietrich
Bonhoeffer once remarked, “it is very easy to over-estimate the importance of
our own achievements in comparison with what we owe others.”

Indeed. Beginning right now let’s take an honest look at ourselves and our work.

Living in the Eucharistic Heart of the Lord

Jesus, gentle and humble of Heart,

You are the Bread of Life;

help me to live my life hidden in Your Eucharistic Heart

in the Presence of our Father

united in the love and power of Your Holy Spirit.

Give me a listening heart,

a heart to love You for Your own Sake, to love You in myself,

and to love You in my brothers and sisters as You have

Consume me in the fire of Your love.

Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word and my Mother,

you are the first “house of bread.”

Help me to live in perfect love by being:

the bread of Humility and Abandonment to the Father’s will;

the bread of Sincerity and Truth,

the bread of Purity of Heart;

the bread of Word and Eucharist;

the bread of Simplicity, Poverty and Littleness;

the bread of Silence and Solitude;

the bread of Prayer and Contemplation;

the bread of Reconciliation and Peace;

the bread of Interior and Joyful Suffering;

the bread of Charity and Desert Hospitality,

broken and offered with Jesus to the merciful Father

and shared for the salvation of the world.

Holy Mary, Lady of Bethlehem, Queen of the Desert,

guide me in the journey of the Spirit that, together with you,

I may participate in the wedding feast of the Risen Lamb

until at last I may sing an eternal Magnificat of Love and

face to Face, before our All-Holy Triune God. Amen.

A Way of Desert Spirituality: The Plan of Life of the
Hermits of Bethlehem

Father Eugene L. Romano, Founder of the Hermits of
Bethlehem, Chester, New Jersey

God understands our weakness

Of all the parables this [one on the prodigal son,
Matthew15:11-32] is the most popular, appealing more universally to the heart
of man than any other. In fact, it contains the whole scope of the theology of
God and the salvation of men. And to some extent it applies to all of us to
some degree. Unless we have lived perfect lives, it is true we are called

As Catholics, if we have done wrong, we go back to our Father.
Christ is represented by a priest. We say, “Father, bless me for I have
sinned.” The priest gives a blessing. The penitent then says, “Father, it is so
long since my last confession and I have sinned as follows.” He expresses his
sorrow and contrition for his sins. Then the words of absolution are pronounced
over him. God sees in him one that has been redeemed by the blood of Christ.

Then he is led to the glorious Lamb of God, slain for us on
Calvary, residing in the tabernacle, to be our food. The tabernacle door is
opened. It contains these hosts, every one of which is the body, blood, soul
and divinity of the Lamb of God, giving peace to you, and there is rejoicing
among the angels.

There is told the story of an old French curate when a
prodigal came to him. As he was making his confession in the sacristy, the
priest smiled and the young man stopped and said, “Father, if you are going to
laugh at me I won’t go on with my confession.” “My son,’ said the priest, “You
misunderstand. I was only thinking of what the Lord said, ‘There is more
rejoicing among the angels of heaven over one sinner that repents than over
ninety-nine just persons which need no repentance.'” That is the spirit of the
mercy and love of God. God understands our weaknesses, our waywardness,
infirmities, like sheep going astray. His love goes out, seeks us, so glad to
have us come to Him. The very angels of God sing with God the Father, that we
are back home again.

I hope that everybody, in the degree in which you are a
prodigal, will take home the message of the love of Christ, the Sacred Heart of
Jesus, and won’t keep away from it. Repent of your sins, feel his embrace, that
joy of conscience after a good confession, after you have been forgiven. The
Father’s says, “I am well pleased with you now. You were lost and you are
found.” [See Luke 15:32]

(Father Paul Wattson, SA, Retreat at Hereford, Texas,
June 1922)

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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