See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Saturday, March 06, 2010

And for my next project...

Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.
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Actually, I think I'm going to try my hand at allegories - and maybe a rabbit or two.  Painting that is.  I couldn't sleep last night so I was painting in my mind - I think I will attempt a couple of panels on Teresa's Interior Castle.
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Thought for the day:
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We are all going to die.
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You may quote me on that.

The Abdication of King Juan Carlos of Spain.

The King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, has signed a bill into law legalizing abortion on demand for the first fourteen weeks of pregnancy.  The law, which was recently passed by the Spanish Congress and Senate, also declares abortion as a "right," allows minors as young as 16 to obtain abortions without their parents' consent, and requires abortionist and homosexualist education in the nation's schools. - Source
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The blood of the martyrs of the Spanish Civil War cries out for justice.
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Photo source.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Waiting for Guffman- Chinese Restaurant Scene

I love this scene - adult content.

Single people...


I must say...
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Every so often I come across blog posts discussing vocation discernment issues.  On occasion I note that some people seem to have an almost old fashioned protestant ideal of either/or when it comes to state in life - either marriage or priesthood (or religious life).  I've also noted their insistence that single life is not a vocation.  I suppose that is true on some level, despite the fact it is a state in life.  But what if single people are single because they can't get married, or can't enter religious life, not to mention can't become a priest?  And what if they don't want to?  See - I don't like that type of authoritarian judgement call.  To the ordinary old maid or bachelor loser, it can sometimes sound as if there is no universal call to holiness - as if single people have no place at doughnuts and coffee table in the church basement.
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That said, I often think of a mentally challenged woman from a downtown Minneapolis parish.  (I don't know what to call people with mental disabilities now days - I don't want Sarah Palin people suing me for using the "R" word.)  Anyway, let's call the lady Mary Kate.  No matter which Mass I attended, morning, noon or evening, Mary Kate was usually there.  I've written about her before, I'm sure.  Mary Kate had physical problems as well, and I have no doubt she was abused during her lifetime.  She lived in a group home or nursing home near downtown.
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Mary Kate seemed to me to be a sort of fool for Christ.  She would regularly shout out corrections to fellow worshippers as they came into Mass - especially late-comers.  I usually got yelled at for wearing shorts - otherwise she was nice to me - I think.  Oh wait, once she yelled at me to get away from her when I knelt in her row - I think she knew I had to get to confession.  She also had a habit of crying out, "I want to be a nun in Rochester!  I want to be a nun in Rochester!"  (I sort of enjoyed that.)  She prayed all of the time and sometimes she would pray out loud, begging the Lord for mercy, while it wasn't unusual for her to weep.  When sympathizers moved in to console her she hissed them away.  (Fools for Christ are not always nice.)
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Anyway - I no longer go downtown for Mass, so I don't know if Mary Kate is still there or if she may have died.  She was obviously older than me, and of course single, and I'm assuming she had no family.
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Obviously, the poor thing never even had a vocation either.

Terry Nelson's day off.

I rarely take a day off.
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What?  You don't even work anymore.
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Yes I do - I paint, clean cat boxes, feed rabbits - I also clean the house on occasion and remove snow when it does that... snow I mean.
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Well, what of it?
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Well I took yesterday off - I rarely take a day off.  I went to mail a package and visited a new art store afterwards, and then I stopped by a junk shop looking for frames and other weird stuff I might use in my art.
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Oh?  How was it?
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The thrift store?  I felt as if I was in the Twilight Zone while there - such strange people - and it was crowded.  Really weird people however, like those one would expect to see in a George Tooker waiting room.  Very spooky, very odd.  While browsing the picture bins I came across original art by unknown artists...  nicely framed...  expensively framed...  The highest priced piece was $16.00.
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I came home quite depressed.
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Art: "The Waiting Room" - George Tooker

Thursday, March 04, 2010

More on the Devil in the Vatican.

Henry Karlson has an excellent post on the latest claims of Fr. Amorth concerning Satanists in the Vatican - I should always go with my gut on this stuff - Henry's conclusions agree with my own intial opinion on the story...
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"When Fr. Amorth starts relying upon the evidence of demons to construct a Satanic conspiracy in the Vatican, I think we have evidence that Fr. Amorth has forgotten how dangerous it is to interact with demons and to believe whatever it is they have to say. Indeed, the more one talks with them to get knowledge from them, the more warped one is likely to become, and the more likely one is oneself going to be demon possessed. And even if one is not, one is at least playing around with demonic-magic." - Henry Karlson (Don't skip the comments either.)
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 I'm leaving the subject alone after this.
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Photo:  Vanessa Redgrave in Ken Russell's film, "The Devils".  Film based upon the book, "Devils of Loudun" by Aldous Huxley.

Claims of anti-clericalism.


Not so fast...
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Thomas Peters posted on the ongoing revelation of crimes committed by Marciel Macial, founder of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi.  Commenters in turn accused him of anti-clericalism.  I do not get that at all.  I believe the story of Macial's double life is a very important one for Catholics to be aware of.
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Since my last post, I soon became aware of the fact that disclosures by Fr. Gabriel Amorth of the possibility of Satanists in the Vatican might well be credible in light of the Macial affair.  Macial, a prominent priest, founder of a major religious congregation, close to the Pope, respected and revered by his followers, discovered to have been a pedophile, father of illegitimate children, as well as a same-sex abuser - that is big stuff.  The faithful are scandalized and want to see that something is done about it.  That said - such behavior is certainly not of God.
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Consider as well our recent history of the Bishops in the U.S. and Canada, Ireland, and elsewhere who covered up cases of sexual abuse, pederasty, and homosexuality throughout the Western world - what is more demonic than that?  To bring such things to light is not at all anti-clericalism.  Not to do so is being in collusion with those who wish to cover these things up, including the perpetrators and their protectors.
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I'm not a follower of clairvoyants and seers, but this morning on Spirit Daily I noticed a story of one such mystic I had read about in my early days back in the Church, Marie-Julie Jahenny.  Many very traditional folks point to her and Catherine Emmerich as prophesying about our times and the 'New Mass'.  Perhaps they did, I don't know.  (I know some 'followers' of her who tend to see Masons in even the best of parishes.)  However, the following point resonated with me this morning, regarding fallen away Catholics and 'pastors'.   
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"Because of the little respect it has for the apostles of God, the flock grows careless and ceases to observe the laws. The priest himself is responsible for the lack of respect because he does not respect enough his holy ministry, and the place which he occupies in his sacred functions. The flock follows in the footsteps of its pastors; this is a great tragedy." - Marie-Julie Jahenny (June 1881)
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Indeed:  "The flock follows in the footsteps of its pastors."  Nevertheless, today we have 'The Year of the Priest' since the Holy Father knows the Church's desperate need for good, holy priests.  Without good priests, the flock is dispersed and lost - as we've witnessed in the last 50 years or more.

The Exorcist Tells His Story.


Satanists in the Vatican?
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Maybe amongst the cleaning staff - but Cardinals, Bishops, and Monsignors?  C'mon on Tammy Faye.
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I'm not going to get into this much except to say I have troubles with what Fr. Gabriel Amorth claims - after all, he's pretty much basing his claims upon what supposed mystics and demons tell him.  The devil is real of course, but he and his minions lie - lies are of the devil - the devil tries his damnedest to destroy the Church and confidence in Her ministers.
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"Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea Cucurull, a Spanish priest and theologian who specializes in demonology and is now studying for his doctorate of theology in Rome, responded to Fr. Amorth's assertions on March 1.
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After reading reports of Fr. Amorth's accusations pointing a finger at members of the clergy, including cardinals, Fr. Fortea declared that it is a "duty of justice" to speak out in their defense.

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Noting that some prelates "are more spiritual and others more earthly, some more virtuous and others more human," he wrote on his blog, "from there to affirm that some cardinals are members of Satanic sects is an unacceptable distance."
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The Spanish priest then explained the sources of information used by Fr. Amorth to say that Satanic sects are operating in the Vatican.
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In addition to the people that seek help for demonic possession, said Fr. Fortea, "innumerable persons come to us who claim to have visions, revelations and messages from Our Lord." Among these, "a certain number offer apocalyptic messages and revelations about the infiltration of Satanism and the Masons within the dome of the Church."
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The other source Fr. Amorth refers to, according to Fr. Fortea, is the demons who are being exorcised. Of this, the Spanish priest wrote that knowing whether or not the demon is telling the truth "is in many cases impossible."

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"We can know with great confidence when a demon tells the truth in the subject directly related with the exorcism. That is, the number of demons, their name and similar things. But we cannot be confident in what regards concrete news relating to people." - CNA
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Update:  Fr. Z has posted on this story as well, and he has permitted a rather good discussion in the com-box.  Click here.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Franciscans of the Immaculate

If I were younger I would want to enter this order. I hope someday soon they will be invited into the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis.

St. Joseph Refuge of Sinners


Protector of Carmel.
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I finished the retablo on Monday and finally photographed it today. The entire image and the narrative in on Up Your Street if anyone is interested.
Posted by Picasa

Fasting

I found a site with the Orthodox Rules for Fasting.
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I thought this rule was interesting:
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On The Marital Fast
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Married couples are expected to abstain from sexual relations throughout the Church's four fasting seasons, as well as on the weekly Wednesday and Friday fasts. (This aspect of the fasting rule is probably even more widely ignored, and more difficult for many, than those relating to food. In recognition of this, some sources advocate a more modest, minimal rule: couples should abstain from sexual relations before receiving Holy Communion and throughout Holy Week.)
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And this:
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Communion Fast
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So that the Body and Blood of our Lord may be the first thing to pass our lips on the day of communion, we abstain from all food and drink from the time that we retire (or midnight, whichever comes first) the night before. Married couples should abstain from sexual relations the night before communion.
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When communion is in the evening, as with Presanctified Liturgies during Lent, this fast should if possible be extended throughout the day until after communion. For those who cannot keep this discipline, a total fast beginning at noon is sometimes prescribed.
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"Married couples should abstain from sexual relations the night before communion."  What would Christopher West say about that?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Global warming...

Oh it's real all right!
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Get this!  It is over 40 dgrees and the snow is melting like crazy today - in Minnesota.  I was standing right outside in the sun and it was really warm!  So don't try to tell me Global warming is a myth.  No siree Bob!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Nothing to say.


I went your way ten years ago
and I've got nothing to say.
Nothing to say. - Jethro Tull
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I feel as if I'm just repeating myself - I keep posting the same things, falling into the same traps and then getting angry at myself because I really have nothing new to add to what I have said already.
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I'll keep posting, if only to get my art out there - perhaps my art will say what I can't.
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Art: "Above the Narrows" - Andrew Wyeth.  (The title says it all.)

March is the month of St. Joseph

What I'm up to.
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I'm working on my own version of a Cuzco-style retablo of St. Joseph and the Child Jesus - hopefully I will finish it tomorrow.  I'm not sure I like it, it is certainly not as nice as the one shown here - I will title it St. Joseph, Protector of Carmel, with the Infant Jesus
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Art:  San José con niño (Saint Joseph with the child) Anonymous Cuzco's School Oil on canvas 18th Century

Control

With a "Z"!
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A friend sent me an article from The Atlantic on the Swiss euthanasiast, Ludwig Minelli.  "Over the past decade, Ludwig Minelli has helped more than 1,000 people kill themselves and has turned Zurich into the undisputed world capital of assisted suicide. Minelli sees himself as a crusader for what he calls “the last human right”—and he believes that helping more and more people to die advances his cause. Even if you believe in an absolute right to die on your own terms, how far is too far in the quest to secure that right?" 
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While reading the article, the following jumped out at me:
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"Minelli today is a committed atheist, but as a child he dreamt of becoming a priest, not so much to honor God as to place himself in a position to, as he later put it, 'teach people how to think.'" - Source
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Isn't that curious? I was thinking along the same lines recently - that some men may have gone for ordination for this very reason, and/or to be in control, and to exercise authority over others.  At least in the case of  priests caught up in abuse scandals and erroneous teachings.
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Just a theory however.
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Art:  Death and Life - Gustav Klimt
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Thanks to Paula for the Minelli piece.  Oh - and "With a 'Z'" is just a play on Liza with a Z - as in Minelli - it makes no sense - but for sure there is no connection to Fr. Z.  I have to explain everything now, don't I?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Comment moderation.

It's back.  Some people really have issues I guess.

What?

The Living Flame


Do not be discouraged.
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"As the sun was about to set, a trance fell upon Abram, and a deep terrifying darkness enveloped him.  When the sun had set and it was dark, there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch, which passed between those pieces..." - [Genesis 15: 12-18, Second Sunday of Lent]
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This passage from today's first reading at Mass always reminds me of John of the Cross - I can't remember exactly where but the Saint notes this passage from Genesis in terms of the dark night of the soul.  Contrary to what the casual listener/reader of this passage may think, or indeed what a student of John of the Cross may have been taught, the nights of the soul  can be "deep and terrifying" as these words from today's reading suggest.  Hence the soul cries out, "Your presence Lord I seek, hide not your face from me; do not in anger repel your servant, you are my helper; cast me not far off.  I believe that I shall see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living...  wait for the Lord with courage, be stouthearted and wait for the Lord." [Ps. 27]
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One contrary when close to the other makes it more manifest.
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I think one aspect of the purifying trials of an ordinary night some souls can experience is their own propensity for a particular sin.  Especially after the penitent reaches a new resolve in the spiritual life with the determination to live more generously and devoutly.  Frequently, depending upon the habit or inclination for certain sins, a person can on occasion fall back into sin when the going gets rough.  That is, when satisfaction in spiritual works or prayer is lacking and one feels distant from God.  The purification process, or purgation which is commonly understood as a night of the senses - may bring things to a head as it were, and the soul can sometimes fall into many faults - the temptation always being to give up the fight of course.  "Nothing more tortuous than the human heart" - as one prophet tells us.
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Struggling with dryness this Lent?
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I love reading John of the Cross.  Though he writes for contemplatives and souls advanced in the spiritual life, I too find encouragement in his counsels, since my conversion from a sinful life, which has progressed in fits and starts for the past several years, has involved some fairly intense purifying trials - with a great deal of backsliding and failures I might add.  Even the dogs can eat the leavings of his master's table.  I've had no lofty dark nights however.  That said, I do not presume to understand St. John or his doctrine, nor do I claim to be a contemplative.  I simply find his doctrine encouraging and edifying.
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It is interesting to note that when speaking of the suffering of souls in the "deep, terrifying darkness" of the actual dark night (the initial stages of contemplation or the purgative stage), the intensity of their suffering is likened to that of the soul in purgatory.  Keep in mind John of the Cross is speaking about contemplatives here.  Nevertheless there is something analogous to what every soul experiences sooner or later - later meaning purgatory if we are fortunate.  The following is an excerpt from The Living Flame of Love, by John of the Cross, just for your edification.
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All the soul's infirmities are brought to light; they are set before its eyes to be felt and healed.
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19. Before the divine fire is introduced into the substance of the soul and united with it through perfect and complete purgation and purity, its flame, which is the Holy Spirit, wounds the soul by destroying and consuming the imperfections of its bad habits. And this is the work of the Holy Spirit, in which he disposes it for divine union and transformation in God through love.
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The very fire of love that afterward is united with the soul, glorifying it, is what previously assailed it by purging it, just as the fire that penetrates a log of wood is the same that first makes an assault on the wood, wounding it with the flame, drying it out, and stripping it of its unsightly qualities until it is so disposed that it can be penetrated and transformed into the fire.
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Spiritual writers call this activity the purgative way. In it a person suffers great deprivation and feels heavy afflictions in the spirit that ordinarily overflow into the senses, for this flame is extremely oppressive.
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In this preparatory purgation the flame is not bright for a person but dark. If it does shed some light, the only reason is so the soul may see its miseries and defects. It is not gentle but afflictive. Even though it sometimes imparts the warmth of love, it does so with torment and pain. And it is not delightful, but dry. Although sometimes out of his goodness God accords some delight in order to strengthen and encourage it, the soul suffers for this before and afterward with another trial.

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Neither is the flame refreshing and peaceful, but it is consuming and contentious, making a person faint and suffer with self-knowledge. Thus it is not glorious for the soul, but rather makes it feel wretched and distressed in the spiritual light of self-knowledge that it bestows. As Jeremiah declares, God sends fire into its bones and instructs it [Lam. 1:13]; and as David also asserts, he tries it with fire [Ps. 17:3].
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20. At this stage persons suffer from sharp trials in the intellect, severe dryness and distress in the will, and from the burdensome knowledge of their own miseries in the memory, for their spiritual eye gives them a very clear picture of themselves. In the substance of the soul they suffer abandonment, supreme poverty, dryness, cold, and sometimes heat. They find relief in nothing, nor does any thought console them, nor can they even raise the heart to God, so oppressed are they by this flame. This purgation resembles what Job said God did to him: You have changed to being cruel toward me [Jb. 30:21]. For when the soul suffers all these things jointly, it truly seems that God has become displeased with it and cruel.
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21. A person's sufferings at this time cannot be exaggerated; they are but little less than the sufferings of purgatory. I do not know how to explain the severity of this oppression and the intensity of the suffering felt in it, save by what Jeremiah says of it in these words: I am the man that sees my poverty in the rod of his indignation. He has led me and brought me into darkness and not into light. Only against me he has turned and turned again his hand. He has made my skin and my flesh old, and he has broken my bones. He has surrounded me and compassed me with gall and labor. He has set me in dark places as those who are dead forever. He has built around me that I might not get out. He made my fetters heavy. And besides this when I have cried out and prayed, he has shut out my prayer. He shut up my ways with square rocks and turned my steps and paths upside down [Lam. 3:1-9].  - Living Flame of Love
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Reading John of the Cross.
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When I was in the Discalced Carmelite novitiate, we were told that the very best way to read St. John of the Cross was to begin with the Spiritual Canticle, and before that to read his life - the name of the biographer I can't recall just now.  I believe The Canticle more or less summarizes his doctrine and makes it attractive.  Later, I came to the conclusion a careful reading of St. Therese of Lisieux and her 'little way' also helps immensely in understanding St. John, since Therese makes it understandable for ordinary souls.  In effect, her doctrine is something of a synthesis of John of the Cross. 
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In studying any of the Carmelites, I think it is best to start by reading their lives, especially as regards St. Teresa of Avila - her Autobiography contains the most simple, straight-forward teaching on prayer.  I know The Interior Castle is often indicated as a good introduction to her writings, but I personally found her Autobiography more helpful, especially if one has led a sinful life. 
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I'm sure there are many good new books on Carmelite spirituality these days. Yet I have always found the classic two volume work by Father Marie-Eugene, OCD; I Want To See God and I Am A Daughter of the Church to be very useful to anyone interested in Carmelite Spirituality.  Today there are numerous Secular Carmelite groups around the country whose formation process guides the members in these studies, therefore my reflections here are strictly personal, while the books I've recommended would be beneficial to anyone, Carmelite or not.
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Art: Guercino: Adultress‎
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Remember we are never alone because God is always present at the deepest center of our souls, and we are united there in prayer.

The rest is silence.