From Prayer by Hans Urs von Balthasar:

“Since Christ is perfectly human, the following of Christ is possible to man. It is possibly in the human community set up between the Lord and those who encounter him, those who, like Mary and Joseph, formed a human community with him from the beginning, or those who, like the apostles, come to him so as to be formed in the fashion of his humanity. It is here that contemplation exerts a powerful effect on living, here that is serious pursuit is seen to be indispensable. It is my life that is meant, not my speculations, imaginations, religious and theological phantasies, but my actual way of living. The life in question is life in faith, and so in obscurity rather than vision. Whoever contemplates the gospel, or the history of salvation in general, is constantly surprised by this obscurity. It seems as if God care little, in his revelation, about any sort of well-rounded system….

There is much in Christianity susceptible of exact analysis, but is is ultimately shrouded in the silence of the divine mysteries. What is ultimate in Jesus is turned, not to men, but to the Father; it is itself comtemplation, and, through contemplation, action.” [p. 141].


  1. Anonymous says: Reply

    Thank you for this and for cutting through all the marketing of faith to its core, which often bears little resemblance to the hype. I especially liked what you had to say about public repentance as a form of branding.

  2. Potent post Heather!

    On wonder and bougainvillea: I checked out that desert book you mentioned in a recent post and came across this: “The immensity of nature makes us feel smaller than we are, inspiring awe. We are drawn to the natural beauty of the west out of alienation from the human, our desire for a landscape without human contradiction.”

    Humility, then, leads to awe. A feedback loop. No wonder God asks us for humility, that we might have wonder.

  3. And I always get a kick out of my own inability to say exactly what it is I do and who I am and what I write about–which I sincerely believe is exactly as it should be.

    That's a relief, because I'm writing a book and I dread it when people ask me what it's about. My answer always sounds so bumbling and stupid. I want my writing to speak for itself, but I don't want to speak about my writing. This reticence is not going to be a good quality for promotion purposes!

    Sometimes I get frustrated with some of the Catholic converts online who start out with these great stories of how they met God, but then it's all about selfies with other Catholic celebrities and conferences with clever names and hey,buy my book, and ooh, great chapel veil, where can we buy that one?

    Not that there is anything wrong with these things in and of themselves, but there are several Catholic bloggers where I skip over their feeds now because it all seems so marketed and slick. Then again–thank God they were there when I was reverting and looking for information. But sometimes things seem to change, and I ask myself, when does prostrating ourselves turn into promoting?

    I am guilty of it too–I don't have a blog, but with a past career in advertising, it is very easy to fall into my own little brand of myself!

    On the other hand, for so many years it was the Evangelical Protestants in my life who spoke up more about their faith, and the Catholics were so shy and silent, that I assumed the Evangelicals had a better relationship with God, which isn't necessarily the case.

    These are hard things to figure out but I think you get the balance right.

  4. How grateful am I and so many others that you found your vocation in writing. Your words speak to me in the depths of my soul. I am amazed by how the simple can become profound through your words. God Bless!

  5. I am glad that you are not selling yourself at the pro-life conferences. God chooses when and where to use your story. Maybe for the stuffed shirt crowd…you could mention your articles in Magnificat, they would probably recognize that.

  6. God bless you, Heather, this is why I love your writing. I am so looking forward to meeting you at the Seattle retreat in March. Thank you for sharing your self and the wonder of salvation.

  7. Praise God for all who revel in the Lord's mercy and love! It is a blessing to have people who have been through the fire and rejoice knowing it is the Lord's grace that they have made it to the other side. I'm also glad that you have been true to your vocation of writing, whether you can explain what it is you do or not. God gets it, and in the end, His view of us is the only one that matters. Blessings to you!

  8. Sora Gina de Roma says: Reply

    The description of you in the Magnificant is perfect, no? That's how I came to know of you and your writing . I love your conversion story, and any others I'm fortunate to hear.

  9. thanks so much for bearing with me on one of my occasional "rants," people! I'm on a one-day retreat at Mater Dolorosa in Sierra Madre, just outside LA, contemplating my own hypocrisy and Phariseeism (or is it Pharisiasm?). Also very grateful. Rainy. Deer outside window. Was thinking on the drive over that the great thing about not having a brand is that the people who ask me to speak tend to value…just my presence. I get to meet people where they are and they get to meet me where I am. The thing about branding is that it deprives the person who's reduced him- or herself to a brand, an issue, an advertising slogan (and of course deprives everyone else). It artificially insulates us, all the way around, from everything that's truly life-giving, interesting, surprising…

  10. Really fantastic, Heather. "Branding" at a retreat, a situation I've experienced so very many times. And I've been branded before I sat down to lunch across from them. Keep going!

  11. inevitably some Catholic high-school principal or buttoned-down deacon type will train her or his gaze on me

    Well, you're way ahead of me. I get furtive looks . . . and no questions. Worst of all, I like it that way, Lord help me.



  13. Anonymous says: Reply

    I'm not sure whether you've really seen those wheels turning in their heads all that clearly. Isn't it just as likely that the (rather unkindly characterized?) high school principal or deacon types simply have no clue about you or your writing and so wonder what your talk will be like? And maybe they "freeze" when they hear of your past simply because they're embarrassed, feeling that's way too much information you're giving them, especially during a first encounter?

    1. You could be right, Anonymous! I'm not embarrassed by my past but maybe they are. And since they asked, I describe my books. That's not too much information; it's simply the information at hand. Merry Christmas to you!

  14. Anonymous says: Reply

    I am slow. But yes, I guess you could market yourself on the pro-life circuit. And, I mean, we all have to turn a buck. But you don't. Can you realize how much it is worth – that you don't? Thanx. E.L. Refugio


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