I have now got me a whole stack of Fr. Walter Ciszek prayer cards which I obtained by filling out a form and sending it through the mail with a check, old-school, to the Father Walter Ciszek Prayer League.

There were a few to choose from. I went from the image on the front which kind of doesn’t even look like the one in the photo but no matter. The surrender prayer on the back, especially considering what he went through, both broke and spoke deeply to my own heart. Even after they let him come home from Russia, Father wrote about how he felt a stranger.


Lord, Jesus Christ, I ask the grace to accept the sadness in my heart, as your will for me, in this moment. I offer it up, in union with your sufferings, for those who are in deepest need of your redeeming grace. I surrender myself to your Father’s will and I ask you to help me to move on to the next task that you have set for me.

Spirit of Christ, help me to enter into a deeper union with you. Lead me away from dwelling on the hurt I feel:

to thoughts of charity for those who need my love,
to thoughts of compassion for those who need my care,
and to thoughts of giving to those who need my help.

As I give myself to you, help me to provide for the salvation of those who come to me in need. May I find my healing in this giving. May I always accept God’s will.

May I find my true self by living for others in a spirit of sacrifice and suffering. May I die more fully to myself, and live more fully in you. As I seek to surrender to the Father’s will, may I come to trust that he will do everything for me.

Reading the Rule of St. Benedict this morning, I came across a job that (with the exception of “sensible”), might be perfect for me: The Porter of the Monastery:

“At the door of the monastery, place a sensible old man who knows how to take a message and deliver a reply, and whose age keeps him from roaming about…Let the porter be given one of the younger brothers if he needs help.”

Actually, maybe not, as I’m also prone to roam…still, something to look forward to.

Speaking of old, later in the morning, I received a request for a photo and short bio from a retirement community outside Washington DC. They want to include me in their newsletter, as one of the residents appreciates my work!

I immediately wrote back and asked if they could take care of me when and if I get Alzheimer’s.

They said sure, and way apart from that…yesterday on my walk I was asking myself why on God’s green earth I even maintain this blog and my other stuff. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it’s a ton of work–whether to make myself feel useful or to plant a random give-glory-to-God seed or for my own bloated ego, I have never been able to figure out.

Every time I think of simply giving up and withdrawing to the secluded hermitage where I would not be intruded upon, feel embarassed or exposed or uncertain, and not be exhausted most of the time, a tiny letter from the world that never wrote to me (see the Emily Dickinson poem) floats in.

I think of my own mother, for whom I forever wish I had been more present, who was also in an assisted living facility, and died of Alzheimer’s.

And just for today I figure if one elderly-type person anywhere in the world is consoled by my words, I will keep going, and writing, as long as there is breath in my own increasingly decrepit body.

Check out Fr. Donald Haggerty’s series on contemplative prayer and St. John of the Cross on the podcast Discerning Hearts. I think it’s in this one, but just listen to them all, where he talks about how an abbot completely transformed his monastery by putting his monks under obedience to stop seven times during the day for one minute, and turn their hearts and minds to God.

A Holy Hour, of some kind, is even better–but if we can’t for whatever reason, swing that–anyone can stop for a minute every couple of hours. I think Fr. Haggerty is right that such a simple action would prove transformative.

Finally, God help me, I will be in Guatemala the First Week of Lent. Pray for me.


  1. Valorie Shue says: Reply

    I’m always excited when I see an email from you. Your seeds of wisdom and insight sustain me. I’m praying that your trip to Guatemala will be fruitful and safe.

  2. Beautiful! thank you! judy

  3. Please keep writing

  4. colleensoll says: Reply

    Oh, that’s a good surrender prayer! I need that one right now!

  5. And what will you be doing in Guatemala, Heather? If you don’t mind sharing. Certainly will pray for you on your travels, and that you be given the grace and strength to continue offering your gifts to the world. I need to buy some more of your books. Thank you for answering your vocation as an artist. God bless you.

    1. I am an elderly type person who looks forward to seeing an email from you .
      May God keep you safe & bless your upcoming trip to Guatemala.
      God speed.

  6. Cynthia Merrill says: Reply

    Dear Heather: thank you so much for making the effort to write and record your video for us! It is consoling and encouraging to hear your observations and introspections as we all bumble along in this hurried and confusing world that both needs our silences and our participation. Father Cizek’s Surrender Prayer was just what needed today. I hope you have a wonderful stretching time in Guatemala and look forward to hearing about how you made a difference there as well. I will keep you in my prayers.

  7. smaierhauser says: Reply

    Dear Heather, I have read and re-read Fr. Ciszek’s books and they are imprinted on my soul. His prayer of surrender is stunning. Thanks for posting.
    And what ever your motives may be for this blog, I am sure I speak for many, that there is no where I’d rather go for real life Catholic musings than here.

  8. Anonymous says: Reply

    hi heather!
    believe me – i am the elderly lady in a senior citizen home who cares deeply about what you are writing!
    you should not stop. because what i see in your future is the breakthrough. its long plodding, i know, but i see the breakthrough coming. as gertrude ederly( a swimmer; i dont know if i spelled the name right) says – if it can be done it has to be done by someone and that is me!
    the breakthrough will integrate all your work for you leaving you with a thing thats perfect and good. i know that now you dont want to continue because its all bits and pieces. you can not see any coherence in it.
    but go for the coherence. collect, connect.
    i am sure everything will fall beautifully in place .
    and why do i know that? because otherwise there would be no you. this is the work you are offering, this is what you are called to give, i know its all bits and pieces but the breakthrough will come.
    hang on and i love you!

  9. I am the elderly-type person who never misses any of your writing and who reads the things you recommend. And I’m better for it. Thank you for letting the Spirit be your guide.

  10. I read your articles and am so grateful for what you write. Keep it up and don’t stop. God Bless You!

  11. Yes to every beautiful and grateful comment below. Me, too. And I’ve said this before but I’ll repeat: your self-revealing and honesty never fails to make me feel less alone.

  12. Keep fighting the good fight, from a male perspective l need your honesty on how to get through our daily life whether it be for the good or l just survived it. I feel Christ through your words and that helps me push on as well.

  13. Please don’t stop sharing your thoughts and inspirations with us. Besides the beauty and honesty of your own journey I look forward to the people, places and works you’ve introduced me too. You’ve opened up so many stories and rabbit holes I’ve joyfully followed down: all the Father Ciszak books, the nun who went from movie star to sharing life in a Mexican prison, your brother’s story and music, to mention just a few. I am 73 and have trouble sometimes remembering specifics like names of people and books and such. But even though I can’t retell stories in detail I understand and enjoy them while I’m reading them and immerse myself fully in the experience and spiritual growth they bring me. You make things I would not have known or considered accessible to me in ways I would otherwise miss. Even though we have never met you feel like a friend and I would miss you.

  14. HEATHER KING says: Reply

    Oh wow, people, I can’t thank you enough for these beautiful comments that have sustained me for the last couple of days, and will continue to…The Guatemala trip is explained in the video for those who may have missed it….And I hope you all know I say “elderly type” tongue-in-cheek as I am 71 years of age myself and thus hardly a spring chicken…

    I love the spectrum of what people find and respond to, from the interview with my brother the punk band guy to Mother Antonia Brenner, the Beverly Hills socialite who chucked it all to go live with the inmates in a hard-core Tijuana prison, to my little travels, to the great Fr. Ciszek who, along with so many others, now watches over my desk…

    Does it, will it. “come together?”….As Thérèse of Lisieux said, “Our Vocation is Love!” So if we are driven by love, or at least the desire to love, I suppose it has already come together, even if not in a neat package to be presented to the world and more or less marketed…

    More and more, I see my real vocation is prayer, not even writing….But I’m extraordinarily graced for the opportunity and capacity to share some of my wonder, joy, bewilderment, burdens, astonishments, sufferings, discoveries…And even more extraordinarily graced for the gift of all of you.

    Update: In preparation for Guatemala trip, I made a two-hour trip to the Walmart Superstore yesterday, after which I had to lie down and take a long nap. Then Adoration.

    See you all soon! Eternal thanks and wishing you a blessed weekend.

  15. Anonymous says: Reply

    You got me through this day, dearest Heather… kindly passing along’ stopping for one minute, 7 times through the/each day to think only of God! THANK YOU!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Isn’t that great? Instead of telling ourselves Oh I should have an entire holy hour and if I can’t, or won’t, forget it…

    2. Your works always inspire me to carry on. I am an 85 year old female. My mother liked St. Michael.
      Keep up the good work and have a wonderful trip to Guatemala.
      Prayers for a safe journey

      1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

        Oh wonderful, I pray to the good St. Michael the Archangel every morning. Thank you for your own prayers.


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