Monthly Archives: October 2017

Morning Thoughts: Rip Tide

by Howard Hain


Matisse Bather 1909 MoMA

Henri Matisse, “Bather”, Cavalière, summer 1909 (MoMA)


What are we to do when the mighty ocean sucks us out to sea?

We are told that we shouldn’t resist, that we should let it take us into the deep—trusting in the bigger force at hand—trusting that the immutable current will win the day, that the overarching tide will eventually send us back to shore.

And in the meantime?

Tread water. Conserve energy. Keep eyes on heaven above.


Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, becoming an email subscriber (drop-down menu at top of page), or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.

Web Link: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Henri Matisse, “Bather”, Cavalière, summer 1909


About Suffering

“In America, there is education for success but no education for suffering.” Ross Douthat wrote in the New York Times today. There’s no education to bear the suffering we have or deal with the suffering of others.

We’re told we can achieve anything we set our minds to and surmount any hardship that comes our way. We filter out the misery around us, Douhat says, with the filters of political party, race, social status.

Douthat confessed that while reading a book by one of his political adversaries, a book in which the man described his experience of sickness and other hardships, he realized he never saw that dimension in him. He was only someone to argue with.

Tragic moments like the shootings in Las Vegas and the storms in Puerto Rico are temporary reminders of suffering, but we quickly forget and turn to something else.

St. Paul of the Cross saw the Passion of Jesus as a book to learn about life and how to live. It seems the Passionists have a mission today, as a recent letter of Father Joachim Rego reminded us, to offer a remedy to society today with “no education for suffering.”

Hummingbird and Passionflowers

by Howard Hain



Martin Johnson Heade, “Hummingbird and Passionflowers” (ca. 1875-85) (The Met)


The delicate little bird that resides within each of us.

It hops to and fro. It stands startlingly still.

Very often we are the very ones who chase it away.

But it doesn’t fly far.

Just to the closest branch, that’s just beyond our reach.

And it looks back at us, as if to ask, “Why are you afraid?”

The tiny head of a tiny bird, slightly cocked to the side—a question mark floats from its beak.

It longs to return, to live within us, to build a nest, to raise its young.

But it doesn’t rush back.

No, it waits.

It waits for us to ask for it to return.

It’s a patient creature, that tiny bird.

One may be tempted to say it’s not very smart, but that’s not it at all.

It’s simple. It’s holy. It knows who it is. It’s not afraid of the fall.


Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at 

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, becoming an email subscriber (drop-down menu at top of page), or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.

Web Link: The Met Museum. Martin Johnson Heade, “Hummingbird and Passionflowers” (ca. 1875-85)


An Unpeaceable Kingdom

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” Luke 12,49-53

Most of us don’t want to live in the house our Lord describes in today’s gospel, where fathers fight with their sons, sons with their fathers; where mothers fight with their daughters, daughters with their mothers.”

Not a nice house to live in.

Same way with a world on fire. A little fire is all right, but a world on fire? Too much.

We’d rather live in a world Isaiah describes: a holy mountain where the lion and the lamb lie down together and a child can put his hand into a snake hole and not get bit. A peaceable kingdom.

But maybe the situation Jesus describes is a form of the cross he endured. Maybe it’s the cross he asks us to endure today: a world on fire with strife, confusion and misunderstanding. Can the cross take the form of confusion and misunderstanding? It’s hard to live in a world where things are not clear and hard to understand.

Maybe that’s the cross we have to carry today.

Servant and Guest Knocking at the Door

by Orlando Hernandez

The 12th chapter of Luke, which is cited in this week’s masses, has so many harsh, challenging sayings of Jesus. I accept them humbly, but this week I’m so filled with His Holy Spirit that I must focus on all the blessings that He promises us. In this Tuesday’s Gospel our Lord says:

“ Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like the servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.” (LK 12: 35-37)

In this Wednesday’s Gospel Jesus’s promise continues:

“ Who then is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.” (Lk 12: 42-43)

These words by our Lord illuminate my wonderful memory of so many of His servants that I met last weekend at the Life in the Spirit Seminar, lovingly presented by the Immaculate Conception Charismatic Prayer Group in Astoria, Queens, NY. These folks were a shining example of what ministry should be. About forty or more people were involved in the scheduling of activities, the hauling and setting up of tables, posters, audio visual equipment, musical instruments, prayer materials, and food, lots of delicious food. Then there were the many presentations leading up to the Baptism of the Spirit and the triumphant celebration of the Eucharist. It was a monumental job, but so rewarding!

Two weeks ago, just like the unemployed men standing around at the square in Jesus’s parable of the workers for the vineyard, I was just relaxing outside of the chapel at the Passionist Monastery, when Grace Bernardo, the tireless leader of the prayer group, invited me to participate in the Life in the Spirit event. I was to give a talk, and to be part of the prayer team during the Baptism of the Spirit, two jobs requiring a lot of commitment and preparation. I worked for weeks on my presentation, and prayed just as much. During that blessed weekend I did the best I could. I had not felt that I was good enough and had to put it in the hands of God. But I was not afraid as I was swept by such a powerful flow of goodness and love coming from everyone around me. Wow, how much can I learn from these holy people, humble and strong in their faith, blessing me merely by their presence and example!

The Master of the House was there from the beginning. He came with His Holy Spirit and lovingly waited on us in such a splendid way. His joy was in the music and in the smiles of His workers. He was there, feeding us with His grace and love, empowering us with so many of the gifts and fruits of His Spirit. I would find that in the very middle of an activity, a presentation, or a job, I would be suddenly flooded with sensations of peace, of understanding, of awe, strength, hope, generosity, the need to give, give, give, and so much joy! I saw this in everyone else. I saw the smiling Jesus in their faces of love. The Master was giving us a glimpse of His heavenly feast.

Serving the Lord like this is not easy. It can be exhausting, even scary, especially when you pray for the Spirit in all His power to come and fill the person before you. But boy, can He be the Life of the party, abundant Life! We celebrated in His Love all weekend. Healing, hope, and unity flowered all around us.
I am resting and recovering today (maybe I’m too old for this?) with a smile on my face as my aches and pains subside. Relaxing….. until the next job!

Orlando Hernández

Young Mother Sewing

by Howard Hain


Mary Cassatte, “Young Mother Sewing” 1900, (The Met)


A living faith works. It is always active, especially when we are docile to the Spirit.

When we walk by faith we see, we hear, we speak what God intends, especially when we are blind to the cares and anxieties of the world.

Small children are wonderfully active, superbly passive, and at times they seem completely blind, fantastically blind. They are alive. They see. They hear. They speak. They watch. They feel.

Mother Church calls all of us home, even when she is silent. She is always at work. She watches us even when her eyes are busy with the business of the day.

She sews. We just need to obey. To trust. To allow ourselves the freedom to lay across her lap.

In the short description upon the little museum card hanging beneath the painting shown above, God has planted great instruction. The work is by American impressionist Mary Cassatt.

According to the card, about the year 1890 “Cassatt redirected her art toward women caring for children and children alone—themes that reflected her affection for her nieces and nephews and the prevailing cultural interest in child rearing.” And then, after informing us that for this particular painting Cassatt “enlisted two unrelated models to enact the roles of mother and child”, the card completes its little catechesis by blessing us with a precious little anecdote and quote:

Louisine Havemeyer, who purchased it in 1901, remarked on its truthfulness: “Look at that little child that has just thrown herself against her mother’s knee, regardless of the result and oblivious to the fact that she could disturb ‘her mamma.’ And she is quite right, she does not disturb her mother. Mamma simply draws back a bit and continues to sew.”

God are we blessed. So blessed to have such a mother. All of us. Maybe give her a call today. Better yet, perhaps even stop by. She’d love that. She’d love to see your face. You’re always on her mind and in her heart. She lives in the closest church you can find, any building that truly houses her Son.

If she seems a little occupied with the “cooking and cleaning”, with all “the business of life”, don’t let that stop you or cut your visit short. No, throw yourself against your “mother’s knee regardless of the result and oblivious to the fact” that you could disturb your “mamma.”

It most certainly does not.

“Mamma simply draws back a bit and continues to sew.”


Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, becoming an email subscriber, or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.

Web Link: The Met Museum. Mary Cassatt, “Young Mother Sewing”, 1900