The Brimming Thimble

The Martin Family

I’ve been reading Story of a Soul ~ the Autobiography of Saint Thérése of Lisieux and I came across an excellent explanation of something I have often wondered about.

It was Pauline*, too, who received all my intimate confidences and cleared up all my doubts.  Once I was surprised that God didn’t give equal Glory to all the Elect in heaven, and I was afraid all would not be perfectly happy.  Then Pauline told me to fetch Papa’s large tumbler and set it alongside my thimble and filler both to the brim with water.  She asked me which one was fuller.  I told her each was as full as the other and that it was impossible to put in more water than they could contain.  My dear Mother helped me understand that in heaven God will grant His Elect as much glory as they can take, the last having nothing to envy in the first.

I remember hearing or reading about God not giving equal Glory to all those in heaven, but wherever I read it, it was just mentioned in passing.  It has been something I have often wondered about though as it surprised me.  When I think about it, I wonder about it much in the same way as Thérése did.  Wouldn’t those  given less Glory be somehow unhappy or jealous of those given more?  What of those above? What more would they receive?  I would usually not allow myself to think on this for very long, because I knew these thoughts were simply wrong, but I still couldn’t stop thinking them from time to time.  This little demonstration, given to Thérese by her big sister and Mother, explains so much.  I sit here and marvel at the folly of these human thoughts of mine that should have nothing to do with heaven, but come unbidden just the same.



*Thérése’s older sister, her second Mother two times over as she “adopted” Thérése when their mother died and she was also Mother Agnes of Jesus at the Carmelite Monastery.


Let Naught Disturb Thee

St Teresa of Jesus Bride

Nada te turbe;

nada te espante;

todo se pasa;

Dios no se muda,

la paciencia todo lo alcanza.

Quien a Dios tiene,

nada le falta.

Solo Dios basta.

Let naught disturb thee ; 

Naught fright thee ever ; 

All things are passing ; 

God changeth never. 

Patience e’er conquers ; 

With God for thine own 

Thou nothing dost lack

He sufficeth alone !


Saint Tereas of Jesus ~ This poem was a bookmark in her Breviary

H/T Rorate Caeli

The Householder and the Prodigal Son

Return of the Prodigal Son ~ Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn ~1668

Yesterday’s Gospel (Matthew 20:1-16)

20 The kingdom of heaven is like to an householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the market place idle.

And he said to them: Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just.

And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner.

But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: Why stand you here all the day idle?

They say to him: Because no man hath hired us. He saith to them: Go you also into my vineyard.

And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: Call the labourers and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first.

When therefore they were come, that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

10 But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more: and they also received every man a penny.

11 And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house,

12 Saying: These last have worked but one hour, and thou hast made them equal to us, that have borne the burden of the day and the heats.

13 But he answering said to one of them: Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny?

14 Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee.

15 Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? is thy eye evil, because I am good?

16 So shall the last be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.

Today’s Gospel (Luke 15:11-24)

11 And he said: A certain man had two sons:

12 And the younger of them said to his father: Father, give me the portion of substance that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his substance.

13 And not many days after, the younger son, gathering all together, went abroad into a far country: and there wasted his substance, living riotously.

14 And after he had spent all, there came a mighty famine in that country; and he began to be in want.

15 And he went and cleaved to one of the citizens of that country. And he sent him into his farm to feed swine.

16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks the swine did eat; and no man gave unto him.

17 And returning to himself, he said: How many hired servants in my father’s house abound with bread, and I here perish with hunger?

18 I will arise, and will go to my father, and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee:

19 I am not worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

20 And rising up he came to his father. And when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and running to him fell upon his neck, and kissed him.

21 And the son said to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, I am not now worthy to be called thy son.

22 And the father said to his servants: Bring forth quickly the first robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat and make merry:

24 Because this my son was dead, and is come to life again: was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

I’ve always been fascinating by these readings, and not a little bit uncomfortable.  Whenever I would hear these readings, I knew they were correct, but I often had a hard time wrapping my head around them (for one I didn’t fully understand them) and then I believe it was last year during a sermon, the priest stated that most people think this way about these readings.  People become upset because they seem so unfair.  What he said next changed these readings for me forever.  He said, most people find these to be unfair because they identify with the Prodigal Son’s brother and they identify with those workers who were hired early in the morning.  Only, most people, most of us, are not the brother or those hired early.  Rather, we are the late hire and much like the son.

This was like a slap right upside the head.  After a few moments a welcome slap, but a slap nonetheless.

Now, when I read these passages, and I feel that same unfairness, that uncomfortableness I remind myself just who I truly am and to be utterly grateful for Our Lord’s mercy.

I think there is a whole lot more in these passages that can be fleshed out.  There is so much in such short parables.  What are your thoughts?


Gustave Dore ~ Adam and Eve Cast Out

I find the sin of Pride to be rather  . . . confounding.  On the surface it’s easy to see.  But when one goes deeper, it gets more and more difficult as is it’s nature, I think.  I struggle with it as everyone does (which is why the Litany of Humility bothered me), but I find myself wondering about the supposedly good things it can do and how to reconcile that.  Our children need us to have some pride in them to grow.  When we complete a difficult task, we are often proud of ourselves and will use that again in the future to continue to complete difficult tasks.  We might find humility rewarding (one of my personal vices) and strive to continue to look for the Truth in humility.

I want to find a new word for these things, such as dignity, but I’m not sure that is the best way to figure this out.  Even one of the definitions of dignity in the Oxford Dictionary uses the word pride within it.

The state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.

1.1 A composed or serious manner or style.

1.2 A sense of pride in oneself; self-respect.

1.3 A high or honorable rank or position.

Though I wonder if this second definition of of dignity would be more accurate for what I am talking about.  Worthy seems to make more sense.

1. bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect or appreciation ofthe formality or gravity of an occasion or situation.
2. nobility or elevation of character; worthiness:
3. elevated rank, office, station, etc.
4. relative standing; rank.
5. a sign or token of respect:
Dignity comes from the Latin dignitas (dignus) which means worthiness (worthy).  When we break down worthy, is basically means deserving.   In this sense, pride in ones’ children, or pride in ones’ accomplishments makes more sense.  But where does pride here become a sin?  Where does is cross the line from being accurate to prideful?  One of the more memorable definitions of humility that I read in passing (somewhere I can’t remember) was that humility is simply accepting reality; seeing and accepting the truth.
To keep in this vein of thinking, I have been taught, and find truth to it, that all Pride is sin.  Which is why I’m searching for other words to describe these actions or situations.  I have been also been told by a priest that not all pride is bad, that some is warranted.  I flinched at this because I find the thought to be potentially dangerous.
So, to keep in the rather meandering vibe of this post, is all pride sin?  Or can it be said that having that sense of accomplishment or that sense of joy in ones’ children is humility as long as it’s reality?  Where does it cross the line from being a good thing to to being the root of all sin?
For a short post, this was rather difficult to write.  It’s written down as a thought process and as much as I would like to clean it up, I’ll leave it.  I’ll leave something out if I try and I don’t want to forget anything.

Litany of Humility

Madonna of Humility ~ 1415-1416 ~ Gentile da Fabriano

I’ve been reading this blog by Father Peter Carota a lot this Lenten Season.  This morning he has a good post up on humility and in it is the Litany of Humility (from Rafael Cardinal Merry del Va (1865-1930), Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X).

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

While reading this, I found that as each verb changed from desire, to fear, to grant this litany became more and more difficult to read.  It was rather easy to pray for the changed desire, but as counter intuitive as it may seem, it was more difficult to ask to be delivered from fear.  Then the last section, to ask that I desire others to receive more esteem, higher opinion, etc, was even more difficult. I wanted to check out, to not finish the prayer.

I find pride and humility to be awesome things (awe inspiring).  Pride, being the root of all sin, can be so incredibly difficult to see.  Couple that with the wont to see humility as weakness and it becomes even worse.

I’ve been thinking a lot on this, Matthew7:13-14:

13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

I picture this path in the middle of a huge expanse, down the middle is this tiny path that leads to the gates of heaven, humility. On one side of this path is Pride and on the other, Despair.  Finding that path, finding that tiny path to humility is a life long process that we must face head-on and without fear.  Doing this without God, without his grace, would be impossible.

The Syrophoenician Woman

Today’s Gospel Matthew 15:21-28 Douay Rheims version:

21 And Jesus went from thence, and retired into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

22 And behold a woman of Canaan who came out of those coasts, crying out, said to him: Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David: my daughter is grieviously troubled by the devil.

23 Who answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying: Send her away, for she crieth after us:

24 And he answering, said: I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel.

25 But she came and adored him, saying: Lord, help me.

26 Who answering, said: It is not good to take the bread of the children, and to cast it to the dogs.

27 But she said: Yea, Lord; for the whelps also eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters.

28 Then Jesus answering, said to her: O woman, great is thy faith: be it done to thee as thou wilt: and her daughter was cured from that hour.

New American Stansard Bible (thank you, Hearthie)

The Syrophoenician Woman

21 Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” 23 But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting [j]at us.” 24 But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and began [k]to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 26 And He answered and said, “It is not [l]good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 But she said, “Yes, Lord; [m]but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed [n]at once.

I’m trying to understand this: But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and began [k]to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 26 And He answered and said, “It is not [l]good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 But she said, “Yes, Lord; [m]but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

Is Jesus saying to the woman, I should not be taking my time and works and giving them to those who are not children of the house of Israel and referring to her as a dog?  Is she in turn saying, even as a dog, I am taking in the scraps that I can from you, my master?

Ember Days

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary ~ Diego Velázquez ~ 1618

Today, Friday and Saturday are Ember Days.  Until I started doing some research on Lent, I had never heard of them before.  Chad gave a good explanation here and Fish Eaters goes into great detail here (the following is just the basic information)

Four times a year, the Church sets aside three days to focus on God through His marvelous creation. These quarterly periods take place around the beginnings of the four natural seasons 1 that “like some virgins dancing in a circle, succeed one another with the happiest harmony,” as St. John Chrysostom wrote (see Readings below).

These four times are each kept on a successive Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday and are known as “Ember Days,” or Quatuor Tempora, in Latin. The first of these four times comes in Winter, after the the Feast of St. Lucy; the second comes in Spring, the week after Ash Wednesday; the third comes in Summer, after Pentecost Sunday; and the last comes in Autumn, after Holy Cross Day. Their dates can be remembered by this old mnemonic: 

Sant Crux, Lucia, Cineres, Charismata Dia 
Ut sit in angaria quarta sequens feria. Which means:

Holy Cross, Lucy, Ash Wednesday, Pentecost, 
are when the quarter holidays follow. For non-Latinists, it might be easier to just remember “Lucy, Ashes, Dove, and Cross.” 

These times are spent fasting and partially abstaining (voluntary since the new Code of Canon Law) in penance and with the intentions of thanking God for the gifts He gives us in nature and beseeching Him for the discipline to use them in moderation. The fasts, known as “Jejunia quatuor temporum,” or “the fast of the four seasons,” are rooted in Old Testament practices of fasting four times a year: 

Zacharias 8:19:
Thus saith the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth shall be to the house of Juda, joy, and gladness, and great solemnities: only love ye truth and peace.

So today, Friday, Saturday are days of fasting.  1 regular meal and 2 small meals that add up to less than one whole meal.  Friday is still a meatless day.


Charity vs Love

Roman Charity – 1612 – Peter Paul Rubens

Two Sundays ago the Epistle was Corinthians 13:1-13.  From Douay Rheims:

13 If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up;

Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child.

12 We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known.

13 And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.

I was surprised reading this as I had never seen the word charity used here.  I’ve always read love.  According to Bible Hub both charity and love in this verse is agape.  This is what I was hoping was the case when I was trying to figure this out because it makes a lot of sense.  “To will the good of another as other” fits both of these words very well.

What I find sad and frustrating is our misuse of these words today.  Charity very often means to give money to an organization that purports to help others and love means that wonderful feeling we have toward others.  While both of these can be very nice things, when compared to what God asks of us, they are incredibly shallow.  I do wonder, have we let these words lose so much of their meaning because it is easier for us?

I am far more familiar with 3-13 of this passage as, at least in my readings, it is far more prevalent.  But, the first part, 1-3, seems more relevant to me now.  Our actions mean little without agape.

Random Thoughts

1. My kids have been asking me a lot why fish is okay to eat on Fridays but not meat.  Why is fish not considered meat (or flesh)? Apparently, this comes from Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) who said the following:

Fasting was instituted by the Church in order to bridle the concupiscences of the flesh, which regard pleasures of touch in connection with food and sex. Wherefore the Church forbade those who fast to partake of those foods which both afford most pleasure to the palate, and besides are a very great incentive to lust.

Such are the flesh of animals that take their rest on the earth, and of those that breathe the air and their products, such as milk from those that walk on the earth, and eggs from birds. For, since such like animals are more like man in body, they afford greater pleasure as food, and greater nourishment to the human body, so that from their consumption there results a greater surplus available for seminal matter, which when abundant becomes a great incentive to lust. Hence the Church has bidden those who fast to abstain especially from these foods.

According to the linked article, Aquinas also believed  Christ offered his flesh for our us on the wood of the cross. Since Christ gave us his flesh, we also give up flesh meat.

While I won’t be sharing all of this with my kids yet, the fact that meat tends to offer greater pleasure than fish (especially to my kids) and more so that Christ offered his flesh for our sins, will make sense to them.

As to why fish is not considered meat, it is because fish are not warm blooded.  This seems to be the consensus outside of the Church as well.

2.  I recently finished reading an excellent book about Saint Thérése for girls.  It is called Saint Thérése and the Roses.  This books paints her and her families life as quite idyllic, which it wasn’t, but for young girls especially it is an excellent starting point in teaching her Little Way.

Vision Book Series

3.  While searching for an image of the St Thérése book, I discovered there is also a song by the same name.  By Jackie Wilson:

4. For those looking for meatless meals for Lent, here are some ideas.

5.  The same woman also writes Shower of Roses.  She has some wonderful ideas to do with your family during this season (really you should check out her whole site.  I’ll likely be linking it a lot).  While late, I plan on setting up her Lenten Sacrifice Beans today.

6. In the same vein and keeping with St. Thérése, in the book above I discovered that St Thérése carried a string of beads in her pocket everyday.  Her mother gave her these beads, called Sacrifice or Good Deed Beads, to help her keep track of the sacrifices she made for God each day.  I really like this idea (for me and my kids) and I found out how to make one of these here.