From St. Augustine’s “Confessions” (The Love Project, Day 43)

j0438992For the past 43 days, I’ve been reading and blogging on the subject of human love as an expression of the divine. Last week I focused on love as expressed through the priesthood, and this week, love as expressed by the saints.

Starting tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, I’d like to invite you to participate in a different kind of daily challenge. I created “The 40 Day Challenge” last year as a way to build up my own marriage, and posted it for others who would like a similar Lenten project. Won’t you join me in renewing your own “Love Project” as we prepare to celebrate the world’s greatest love story, the atoning death and resurrection of Christ?

For now, I’d like to conclude “The Love Project” with one of my favorite excerpts from St. Augustine’s Confessions (p.320).

“It is for Christ that the friend of the Bridegroom longs. Already he has laid his spiritual harvest in Christ’s keeping, but still, he groans in his heart, waiting for that adoption which is the ransoming of our bodies from their slavery. He longs for Christ, for he is a member of the Church, the Bride of Christ. His love for Christ is great, for he is the Bridegroom’s friend, and his great love is for Christ, not for himself; for it is not in his own voice but amid the roar of the floods you send that he calls upon those who are sunk deeper than himself in the abyss, and this is because, in his great love of Christ, he fears for them. He knows that the serpent beguiled Eve with his cunning and he fears that, in the same way, their minds may be corrupted and lose that innocence which is theirs in Christ, our Bridegroom, your only-begotten Son. How bright a light of beauty will shine before our eyes when we see Christ as he is and gone are those tears, which are still my diet, morning and evening, as I listen to the taunt: “Where is your God now?” …

“Early in the morning I shall present myself before him. I shall see my champion and my God, who will give life to our perishable bodies too, for the sake of his Spirit who dwells in us, because in his mercy he moved over the dark waters of our souls. This is the pledge which has been given to us in our pilgrimage on earth, so that we may now be light.”

Today’s Love in Action: You know what to do … Tomorrow morning, click on “The 40 Day Challenge Link,” and rejuvenate your own love story! God bless you!”

“Give Me Your Heart” — St. Faustina Kowalska (The Love Project, Day 42)

divine mercy

To stay at Your feet, O hidden God,
is the delight and paradise of my soul.
Here, You give me to know You, O incomprehensible One,
And You speak to me sweetly: Give Me, give Me your heart.
Silent conversation, alone with You
Is to experience what heavenly beings enjoy,
And to say to God, “I will, I will give You my heart, O Lord,”
While You, O great and incomprehensible One, accept it graciously.
Sweet and sweetness are my soul’s life,
And Your unceasing presence in my soul.
I live on earth in constant rapture,
And like a Seraph I repeat, “Hosanna!”
O You Who are hidden, body, soul and divinity,
Under the fragile form of bread,
You are my life from Whom springs in abundance of graces;
And, for me, You surpass the delights of heaven.
When You unite Yourself with me in Communion, O God,
I then feel my unspeakable greatness,
A greatness which flows from You, O Lord, I humbly confess,
And despite my misery, with Your help, I can become a saint.

From the Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska (Par 1718).

Today’s Love in Action: When was the last time you spent time alone with the One who loves you best? He’s waiting for you . . .

“Stanzas of the Soul” by St. John of the Cross (The Love Project, Day 41)

John of the Cross

On a dark night, kindled in love with yearnings — oh, happy chance!
I went forth without being observed, My house being now at rest.
In darkness and secure, by the secret ladder, disguised — oh, happy chance!
In darkness and in concealment, My house being now at rest.

In the happy night, in secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught, without light or guide,
save that which burned in my heart.

This light guided me more surely than the light of noonday
to the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me —
A place where none appeared.

Oh, night that guided me, Oh night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover, Lover transformed in the Beloved! …

St. John of the Cross, Prologue to Dark Night of the Soul

Today’s Love in Action: The theme of “dark nights” recurs frequently among the saints. This divine silence, some say, is actually God’s way of protecting us — without the darkness to shield us, we could not bear his divine light! If this captures your imagination, why not add this spiritual classic to your Lenten reading list?

“I Will Remain with You” (The Love Project, Day 40)

edith stein

The innermost chamber of the human soul
Is the Trinity’s favorite place to be,
His heavenly throne on earth.

To deliver this heavenly kingdom from the hand of the enemy,
The Son of God has come as Son of Man,
He gave his blood as the price of deliverance.

In the heart of Jesus, which was pierced,
The kingdom of heaven and the land of earth are bound together.
Here is for us the source of life.

This heart is the heart of the triune Divinity,
And the center of all human hearts
That bestows on us the life of God.

It draws us to itself with secret power,
It conceals us in itself in the Father’s bosom
And floods us with the Holy Spirit.

This Heart, it beats for us in a small tabernacle
Where it remains mysteriously hidden
In that still, white host.

That is your royal throne on earth, O Lord,
Which visibly you have erected for us,
And you are pleased when I approach it.

Full of love, you sink your gaze into mine
And bend your ear to my quiet words
And deeply fill my heart with peace.

Yet your love is not satisfied
With this exchange that could still lead to separation:
Your heart requires more.

You come to me as early morning’s meal each daybreak.
Your flesh and blood become food and drink for me
And something wonderful happens.

Your body mysteriously permeates mine
And your soul unites with mine:
I am no longer what once I was.

You come and go, but the seed
That you sowed for future glory, remains behind
Buried in this body of dust.

A luster of heaven remains in the soul,
A deep glow remains in the eyes,
A soaring in the tone of voice.

There remains the bond that binds heart to heart,
The stream of life that springs from yours
And animates each limb.

How wonderful are your gracious wonders!
All we can do is be amazed and stammer and fall silent
Because intellect and words fail.

And I Remain With You

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

Today’s Love in Action: As Lent approaches, what will you do to remain?

“The Touch of the Musician” (The Love Project, Day 39)


The marvels of God are not brought forth from one’s self.
Rather, it is more like a chord, a sound that is played.
The tone does not come out of the chord itself, but rather,
through the touch of the Musician.
I am, of course, the lyre and harp of God’s kindness.

HILDEGARD OF BINGEN, attributed, Soul Weavings

“Peace Within” (The Love Project, Day 38)


May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received,
And pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones
And allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

Teresa of Avila

Today’s Love in Action: What gift has God given you to use today?

“Diary of an Old Soul” (The Love Project, Day 37)

Were there but some deep, holy spell, whereby
Always I should remember thee . . . .
Lord, see thou to it, take thou remembrance’s load;
Only when I bethink me I can cry;
Remember thou, and prick me with love’s goad.
When I can no more stir my soul to move,
And life is but the ashes of a fire;
When I can but remember that my heart
Once used to live and love, long and aspire —
Oh, be thou then the first, the one thou art;
Be thou the calling, before all answering love,
And in me wake hope, fear, boundless desire.

George Macdonald

“Batter My Heart, God” (The Love Project, Day 36)

Batter my heart, three personed God; for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine and seek to mend.
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labor to admit you, but, oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend;
But is captive and proves weak or untrue.

Yet dearly I love you and would be loved fain;
But am betrothed unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again.
take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you entrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

John Donne

Today’s Love in Action: when was the last time you opened your heart, without reserve, to God?

The Good Shepherd (The Love Project – Guest Post by Elizabeth Schmeidler)

After posting “The Priest Who Loved Me” series in The Love Project, a new reader contacted me and asked if she could share her confession story. Enjoy!

Just last year, during Advent, I was determined to make a good confession—I wanted to have my heart completely ready for the coming of baby Jesus. I called up to the friary and asked to speak to a priest who would hear my confession by appointment. Father Canice, a 90-something year old priest agreed to meet with me.

To be honest, after I had made the appointment, I wondered if I should cancel. My goodness…how unfair it would be to unload my hormonally-challenged self on a priest who was long past the age of retirement! Still, Father Canice seemed quite sincere when he said he’d be happy to hear my confession. In fact, I felt a connection to him through the phone line, much like I imagined I would feel if my own beloved father, now gone from me for almost 27 years, would have spoken to me.

I am so glad that I kept my appointment! It was like having my own father back—he even kind of looked like him. His smile was warm and his advice and comfort, soothing. I felt that I had found a friend…an advocate. When I got home that night, I wanted to give back to Father Canice an offering of encouragement for all he had done through his vocation; so I used the best way I know how…through my writing:

The Good Shepherd

On a cold wintry eve
Amidst the blustering wind,
You answered the door,
And let my sorrowed heart in.

With patience and kindness
You listened with care,
And in that space and time,
I knew Jesus was there.

A man of the cloth,
a heart filled with loving grace–
Your faithful service and calling
Make the world a gentler place.

One voice with a kind word,
One loving soul who truly cares,
Can ignite a smoldering fire of faith,
To consume sorrow and despair.

You may never quite know
Of the hearts you have reached
Through the Sacraments, Mass,
And countless homilies you’ve preached.

But each hurting soul you calmed,
Every single tear you dried,
Is known by the One Who called you,
The One Who walks at your side.

One day when you’ve finished
Your appointed race here on earth,
You’ll come into His kingdom–
See through God’s eyes, your worth.

You’ll be welcomed by saints and angels,
Rest in the embrace of the Holy One,
Amidst repentant souls whose sins you forgave
In the Name of the Spirit, the Father, and Son.

Thank you, faithful Priest, for answering the call,
For giving me comfort and peace.
And know that I will never forget
The loving kindness of Father Canice.

Elizabeth Schmeidler

Elizabeth Schmeidler is the author of The Good Sinner
schmeidler bk

The Confession (The Love Project, Day 34)

confessionalToday I was editing an essay by Father Mike Schmitz about what it’s like to hear confession. He observed that hearing confessions is one of his favorite parts of being a priest because he gets to witness people returning to God, to receive and respond to his love for them.

He has a point. Not long before I was married, I remember driving out to an old country parish. The church had seen better days. The floorboards were noticeably lighter than the pews, from so much foot traffic. A wisened old priest slowly made his way into the middle compartment of the ancient old confessional.

There was no one else in the sanctuary, which was just fine with me. I figured I was going to in there for a while. I was fairly inexperienced as confessions went, and I figured that — since I was getting married — this would be the time when I “cleared the slate” on some old business. A good deal of it wasn’t, technically speaking, sinful. More like “baggage” – the accumulated baggage of close to two decades of single adulthood. Heartache. Brokenness. Regret. Anxiety. I’m not sure how long I was there, getting it all off my chest. But when i stopped speaking . . . there was silence on the other side of the screen. Nervously I waited. Had I shocked the elderly priest? Or had he falled asleep?

As it turns out, neither. “Oh, my daughter,” he began. With a voice full of gentle compassion, he reminded me of the Father who had never left me alone, who had seen my struggle and wept with me in my pain.

Then he blessed me, and sent me off to begin my new life with Craig. There were still plenty of bags to unpack, but the messiest ones were in the hands of God.

Today’s Love in Action: Do you have any relational regrets that you cannot seem to let go of? A clean slate is only a confession away!