Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Fragments of My Spiritual Life

Arise — go! Sell all you possess. Give it directly, personally to the poor. Take up My cross (their cross) and follow Me, going to the poor, being poor, being one with them, one with Me.
Little — be always little! Be simple, poor, childlike.
Preach the Gospel with your life — without compromise! Listen to the Spirit. He will lead you.
Do little things exceedingly well for love of Me.
Love... love... love, never counting the cost.
Go into the marketplace and stay with Me. Pray, fast. Pray always, fast.
Be hidden. Be a light to your neighbour’s feet. Go without fear into the depth of men’s hearts. I shall be with you.

Pray always. I will be your rest.
The Little Mandate of Madonna House

One thing I have wanted to do with this new blog is to share more of MH spirituality and the wisdom of our foundress Catherine Doherty. At the heart of that spirit are the words quoted above, the 'Little Mandate' which is the guiding spirit of our community.

So, I'm going to start there. And I'm going to aim for Tuesdays with this series, which might take quite a while to complete--going through the Mandate, a phrase, a word, a little bit at a time, and reflecting on it, perhaps with some help from Catherine's own insights on it.

These words came to Catherine just that way, in little bits and pieces, in the early 1930s. She was feeling pursued by God to do 'something' for Him - she really didn't know what, and her life situation was not at all what would seem suitable for her to make a dramatic move into some radical way of life. She was a single mother, for one thing, and foreigner living in a strange country whose ways were continually a mystery to her.

But God was relentless. While she discerned, always seeking the counsel of priests and eventually the archbishop of Toronto, little phrases would come to her, little Gospel references, strange intimations of some vision of life that was still veiled. Piecemeal, fragmented, coming to her at the strangest times and in the oddest places, in quiet moments praying in a church, and in the midst of a city crowd, or on a train. She would write them down, on little slips of paper.

Finally she upended her purse one day and put all the pieces of paper together... and what she ended up with is what is written above. A mandate from God, a whole vision of spiritual life that has inspired thousands of people to make a radical choice for the Gospel.

So, starting next Tuesday with the first two words, I will begin to go through the mandate the way God gave it to her, in piecemeal fragments, these words that are the foundation of my own spiritual life and everything that means anything to me. We'll see how it goes.

1 comment:

  1. Great idea! I love the Little Mandate, and always happy to hear reflections on it.


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