Tuesday, February 5, 2013


I admit to feeling a bit gloomy of late. Sitting in the clinic last week waiting for my flu shot, I looked up from  Eichmann in Jerusalemthought of the books back home on my bedside table--Jean-Francois Steiner's Treblinka, Elinor Lipper's Eleven Years in Soviet Prison Camps,  Cries Unheard: Why Children Kill  by Gitta Sereny--and realized You have got to start getting out more.

So I switched over to some light reading: Ruth Burrows on mystical prayer

Now I am a huge Ruth Burrows fan but I did feel she was a teeny bit hectoring here (driven to distraction, perhaps, by having been cloistered for decades with her fellow nuns), a little Just because you go to Mass, and pray and try to be humble, don’t think for one quick second that means ANYTHING, don't for a moment think that means you are making one iota of "progress," which is no doubt true but has the unfortunate effect of making me feel like more of a fake than I am already, doubting myself and my motives even more than I already doubt them. I know that's not what she's saying, but I do feel that praying, going to Mass, staying sober, and stumbling forward no matter how mixed my motives is better than not doing any of those things at all.
Here's something I heard recently vis-a-vis difficult relationships: We become "addicted to the drama of the resentment." I don't want any part of that.

I want....morning!



  1. I totally agree with you, Heather, on the whole "that's not good enough" school of spiritual exhortation. It's why I can't watch EWTN anymore. The posture seems to be "Only we know how to be Catholic! The rest of you are lousy at it." Even Fr Groeschel (whom I admire) was getting tiresome toward the end of his run, perpetually carping about the New York Times.

    Good heavens, we need apostles of encouragement! Not people who confirm us in our complacency, but people who make sanctity seem both inviting and POSSIBLE! Caryll Houselander epitomizes what is needed, I would say. (And Ruth Burrows is generally quite good.) But you're right -- doing what one should do is a very good start, and much better than doing what one shouldn't do!

    And oh yes, the memoirs of totalitarianism. You're probably feeling about as gloomy as I felt after reading (recommended!) Robert Royal's book The Catholic Martyrs of the 20th Century. Communists mocking Christians by "baptizing" them in buckets of urine. When they weren't killing the Christians. Yes, it does make the heart quite heavy -- and the stomach quite sick.

  2. It requires a heart of gratitude to walk from one's bed to the kitchen and pick up on the glory of the sunlight shining in, to take note of the beauty surrounding them (and, might I add?, that's even before the first cup of coffee!). And to then share that snippet of heaven with us!! - thank you! What a wonderful reminder that my list of things I am grateful for can always be expanded, if only I am willing to slow my routine in favor of taking it all in. Mmmm! It's a beautiful post.

  3. I appreciate the "addicted to the drama of the resentment" line. Something to ponder, something to own for the day.

  4. What does that mean, addicted to the drama of the resentment? Or what do you think the author (or whoever sent it) meant by it?

    Is it like, wallowing in sorrow, self-pity?

  5. yeah, wallowing in self-pity and also wallowing in self-righteous anger and outrage--then often putting ourselves in a position to be hurt again, almost because we secretly WANT to be outraged, WANT to feel wronged, WANT to despise and feel superior to the person...I mean let it go...direct your time, energy, attention and love elsewhere...move on...

  6. Thank you.

    I'm not following the connection between that and what Ruth Burrows said/wrote, however. Can you elaborate?

  7. Reminds me of something Joseph Ratzinger said: "Man needs, not schoolmasters in indignation (he can learn that by himself), but, rather, teachers of transformation..."

    You have a beautiful home, by the way!

  8. Thanks, I do love Ruth Burrows! The home is my roommate's: I occupy a "wing," aka my cell--and yes, it is beautiful!

  9. Thanks, Heather, for this reflection today. Yes, we wondered if we are ever making any progress, and that quote, "addicted...of the resentment", that caught my attention. Have been reading your book "Shirt of Flame"...that quote says alot how I can hold unto my little "idols". I want to be healed yet I belittled. Do I want to magnify the Lord or belittle Him in the way I treat others? In my little way I am trying to magnify God so others will be transformed in Him.

  10. I am intrigued by what you wrote because I have learned so much from Ruth Burrows and can't imagine that she meant to discourage you in any way. Particularly her injunction to "just be available" and sit with God, allowing Him to love us, was helpful when I first began my prayer life and serious love affair with God.

    Having read all your books, Heather, of all folks you need never be discouraged. You are an inspiration, and someone I feel is a friend. Your books and blogs are letters that I read again and again.

  11. I read the post and looked at the pictures a second time, they worked really well to convey your message, nice.

  12. Have been thinking about the bronze serpent raised in the wilderness as a symbol for Jesus becoming sin for us. Thinking about turning my face toward the healing which requires a look at the sin. So, I imagined looking into the face of my own shame and being met with the face of Love. A friend of mine said today as we pondered this that love in response to goodness is not love but reward. That love can only manifest itself in the face of that which is not loveable. All this to say "Whew" we don't have to be good enough. Enjoying your books...

  13. Cynthia, thanks, I, too, am immensely grateful to and immensely look to Ruth B. I'm sure the only reason she struck me as remotely "hectoring" was because I've been feeling extra unsettled and uncertain as of late.

    And Dale, this is key: "A friend of mine said today as we pondered this that love in response to goodness is not love but reward. That love can only manifest itself in the face of that which is not loveable." I have a chapter in the book I'm working on called Our Inner Leper...

    You all continually amaze me...


I WELCOME your comments!!!