Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
— MARY OLIVER
Quotes that Challenge and Inspire
I know that a new and kinder day will come. I would so much like to live on, if only to express all the love I carry within me. And there is only one way of preparing the new age, by living it even now in our hearts.
— Etty Hillesum
Born in Amsterdam, 1914,
died in Auschwitz, 1943
I am calling an Ecumenical Council so that the human sojourn here on earth would be less sad.
— Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli,
Pope John XXIII 1881/1963
A Shem Center Hero
Before becoming the Pope, Archbishop Roncalli was especially popular with the diplomatic corps in France, of whom, by longstanding protocol, the Vatican nuncio was the head. Their respect may have been a tribute to his diplomatic skills, but their affection was a tribute to his personality, his warmth and, often, his wit. During a dinner party in Paris he was asked, "Aren't you embarrassed, Monseigneur, when there are women present who wear very low-cut dresses? It's often a scandal." "A scandal? Why no," the nuncio replied, "When there's a woman with a plunging neckline, they don't look at her. They look at the apostolic nuncio to see how he's taking it."
More Pope John XXIII Quotes
A Vatican official told the pope it would be "absolutely impossible to open the Second Vatican Council by 1963." "Fine, we'll open it in 1962," he answered. And he did.
In reply to a reporter who asked, "How many people work in the Vatican?", he reportedly said: "About half of them.”
Visiting a hospital, he asked a boy what he wanted to be when he grew up. The boy said either a policeman or a pope. "I would go in for the police if I were you," the pope said. "Anyone can become a pope, look at me!”
Men are like wine – some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age.
See everything, overlook a great deal, correct a little.
I have looked into your eyes with my eyes. I have put my heart near your heart.
Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.
Those who have lived as long as I have. . . were enabled to compare different cultures and traditions, and know that the moment has come to discern the signs of the times, to seize the opportunity and to look far ahead.
— Pope John XXIII on his deathbed,1963.
He once wrote: "There are three ways to face ruin: women, gambling and farming. My father chose the most boring one."
Pope John XXIII at the opening of the Vatican Council said: “The Bride of Christ prefers to use the medicine of mercy rather than arm herself with the weapons of rigor.”
Pope John XXIII died on June 3, 1963 and Pope Paul VI saw the Council to its conclusion on December 4, 1965. Pope Paul VI addressed the Roman Curia in 1966 saying: “Whatever were the opinions about the Council’s various doctrines before its conclusions were promulgated, today our adherence to the decisions of the Council must be wholehearted and without reserve; it must be willing and prepared to give them the service of our thought, action and conduct. The Council was something very new; not all were prepared to understand and accept it. But now the conciliar doctrine must be seen as belonging to the magisterium of the Church and, indeed, be attributed to the breath of the Holy Spirit.”
— Pope Paul VI
Our work is to let our love be large.
— Merchid Wali Ali, Sufi Spiritual Teacher, and one of the original students of Merchid Samuel Lewis, originator of The Dances of Universal Peace
This world demands the qualities of youth; not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease.
— Robert F. Kennedy
There is a kindness that dwells deep down in things; it presides everywhere, often in the places we least expect.
— John O'Donohue
I went to the woods with my two dogs yesterday. I had been feeling the weight of troubled times. I don’t think I’m alone in sensing the dark shadows of unkindness framing the world like an old style vignetted photo. I go to the woods to hear the woodthrush and song sparrow, the towhee and cardinals, the phoebes and warblers. I go to smell the thick living greenness all around and feel the stones in the creek bed beneath my boots. I go to remind myself that there is another reality, a world of wonder, and sense the intimate kindness that “dwells deep down in things”. I go to enjoy the sensual gifts of the visible world, and sense the ancient aquifer of goodness that makes up the invisible world. Despite all the shadows that edge the frame of our world today, there is still a deep instinct within us that hopes and leans toward, that even expects an abiding kindness at the heart of all things. There is a greater presence and deep down goodness that I can participate with, I can give and experience, if I am willing to be open and aware.
From, “A Gathering of Spirits,” a reader-supported publication.
We have a tendency to think in terms of doing and not in terms of being. We think that when we are not doing anything, we are wasting our time. But that is not true. Our time is first of all for us to be. To be what? To be alive, to be peaceful, to be joyful, to be loving. And that is what the world needs most.
— Thich Nhat Hanh (1926 - 2022)
Please do not build a stupa (shrine) for me. Please do not put my ashes in a vase, lock me inside and limit who I am. I know this will be difficult for some of you. If you must build a stupa though, please make sure that you put a sign on it that says, “I am not here.” In addition, you can also put another sign that says, “I am not out there either,” and a third sign that says, “If I am anywhere, it is in your mindful breathing and in your peaceful steps.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh (1926 - 2022)
Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
— Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963)
Join with the earth and each other, to bring new life to the land, to restore the waters, to refresh the air, to renew the forests, to care for the plants, to protect the creatures, to celebrate the seas, to rejoice in the sunlight, to sing the song of the stars, to recall our destiny, to renew our spirits, too reinvigorate our bodies, to recreate the human community, to promote justice and peace, to love our children and love one another, to join together as many and diverse expressions of one loving mystery, for the healing of the Earth and the renewal of all life.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
I would say to young people
a number of things.
I would say — let them remember
that there is a meaning beyond absurdity.
Let them be sure that every little deed counts,
that every word has power,
and that we do — everyone — our share
to redeem the world, in spite of all absurdities,
and all the frustrations, and all the disappointment.
And above all, remember that the meaning of life
is to live life as if it were a work of art.
— Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
There are only two days in the year in which nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly, live.
— H.H. The Dalai Lama
Always in big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into. You are undertaking the first experience, not of the place, but of yourself in that place. It is an experience of our essential loneliness, for nobody can discover the world for anybody else. It is only after we have discovered it for ourselves that it becomes a common ground and a common bond, and we cease to be alone.
And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our feet, and learn to be at home.
— Wendell Berry
I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof.
— John Adams upon arriving at the White House after being elected President in 1797. He served as President until 1801. This quote is inscribed on the fireplace mantle of the White House state dining room.
Anyone with courage to look at the stars, anyone who believes in God, has no enemies to fight. He or she has only one enemy to face, an enemy that stands at the door of the heart and knocks to enter. That enemy is hatred.
— Pope Francis in Iraq, March 5-8, 2021
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
(translation in common use.)
Let us not fall into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One.
(a more accurate translation from ancient Aramaic, Greek, and Latin texts approved by Pope Francis )
— The Lord’s Prayer
— Ernest Hemingway
You are loved. You are unique. You are free. You are on the way. You are going somewhere. Your life has meaning. That is all grounded in the experience and the knowledge and the reality of the unconditional love of God. This is what we mean by being “saved.”
— Richard Rohr, OSF
Shem Center for Interfaith Spirituality
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