I thought it a bit odd when I discovered that St. Cecilia—the patron saint of musicians—didn't actually sing or play an instrument. She was one of those saints whom I was familiar with since childhood; I remember seeing illustrations of her in books, her eyes raised wistfully to heaven, her fingers resting on harp strings or ivory keys. You would think that she had written a famous hymn or... something.
It was a happy weekend. I had a table at the Family Life Conference for the second time and it was fun to see how my newest pieces were being received. But even more exciting—most of my family and friends were there and I was delighted to tell them all that I was expecting our second baby!
Then everything changed early Sunday morning.
When Thérese was a child, her older sister Leonie decided that she had outgrown some of her playthings. Before giving them away, she offered them to her younger sisters. Celine politely chose a single toy. When it came to Thérese’s turn, she grabbed the entire basket and proclaimed, “I choose all!”
This story illustrates well how this future saint approached the spiritual life. She understood that there are many degrees of holiness and she wanted the very highest degree. “My God,” she cried, “I choose all! … ‘I choose all’ that You will!”
"For in him we live and move and have our being."
— Acts 17:28
A rainbow is a curious thing... it is the light we take for granted fragmented into a spectrum of dazzling colours, a familiar yet ever enchanting display.
I was contemplating this during the long drive to my parents’ farm this Easter when it occurred to me that one could propose an intriguing analogy for God by looking at a prism.
It was Holy Thursday, nearing midnight—that's when all the best conversations happen. A friend and I were discussing a book we had both read recently, 33 Days to Merciful Love, and how in the time of St. Thérese of Lisieux, the Jansenism heresy was shaking the Church in its teeth.
"But if you look at the Church's history," she said, "it was in the times of greatest heresy and upheaval that God raised up the greatest saints."
These words landed on my heart like a kick to the chest and I suddenly found myself blinking back tears. I fought to regain my composure as I felt Jesus say, "I want you to be that saint."
The other month I came across this pithy animated video, titled Optimistic Nihilism. I have thought about it frequently ever since. Having been raised Catholic, with the prospect of a heavenly eternity a completely normal thing to think about and sainthood a driving force in my day-to-day decisions, it deeply disturbed me to realize that there are people who not only reject the idea of our immortal souls (I knew that already) but who willingly reject even the idea of a life with purpose.
The inspiration for this image first came to me a few months ago during mass...
The gospel reading was the parable of the brides waiting for the bridegroom. I pictured the warm glow of light from their lamps, the cool blue of the sleeping town below, their faces turned outward in anticipation for the return of their beloved. But that image, like so many that flit into my imagination at random moments, was lost in the the busyness of life. I did not think of it again until the feast of the Epiphany.
I'm slowly working my way through our VHS collection of the Disney classics. The other day my daughter and I snuggled on the couch with a bowl of frozen cherries (those were, in hindsight, a really bad idea) and watched The Great Mouse Detective. What I discovered was a surprisingly deep tale of morality.