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Joan Chittister

  • ... faith isn't faith until it's all we have to hold on to and knowledge fails us. When we pray for faith, we automatically pray for darkness. Think about it.

  • Hospitality is simply love on the loose.

  • Hospitality is the key to new ideas, new friends, new possibilities. What we take into our lives changes us. Without new people and new ideas, we are imprisoned inside ourselves.

  • A life of value is not a series of great things well done; it is a series of small things consciously done.

  • Life is the ability to start over again.

  • Indifference is the acid of life. It erodes all the spirit that's in us and makes us useless to anyone else. We all have to stand for something, or our souls cease to breathe.

  • Too many times we insist on loving people the way we want to love them instead of the way they need to be loved.

  • When souls really touch, it is forever. Then space and time disappear, and all that remains is the consciousness that we are not alone in life.

  • It is not our job to work miracles, but it is our task to try.

  • Everything we do seeds the future. No action is an empty one.

  • There is always new life trying to emerge in each of us. Too often we ignore the signs of resurrection and cling to parts of life that have died for us.

  • The Christmas season is a gift in itself. It releases us from the priorities of ordinary time and gives us the right to party more and pray more and love more.

  • Getting to know ourselves and learning to control ourselves are the two great tasks of life. Don't make up strange and exotic 'penances.' Simply say no to yourself once a day, and you will be on the road to sanctity for the rest of your life.

  • ... prayer can be an easy substitute for real spirituality. It would be impossible to have spirituality without prayer, of course, but it is certainly possible to pray without having a spirituality at all. How do you know? 'Am I becoming kinder?' is a good place to start.

  • Temptations are part of life, part of growing up. We grapple with them often — in some instances for our lifetime — before we come to realize that it is not so much the victory as it is the struggle that is holy.

  • If anything diminishes a person, it is the cancer of constant complaining.

  • Precisely because of the greatness of God, we don't have to be great at all. Just in awe.

  • Awareness of the sacred in life is what holds our world together, and the lack of awareness of the sacred is what is tearing it apart.

  • Two ideas militate against our consciously contributing to a better world. The idea that we can do everything or the conclusion that we can do nothing to make this globe a better place to live are both temptations of the most insidious form. One leads to arrogance; the other to despair.

  • Prophets are so dangerous because they cry in season and out of season, politely and impolitely, loud and long.

  • June is the time for being in the world in new ways, for throwing off the cold and dark spots of life.

  • Imagine how happy, how holy, life would be if we ever really learn to see beauty.

  • Try saying this silently to everyone and everything you see for thirty days and see what happens to your own soul: I wish you happiness now and whatever will bring happiness to you in the future.

  • A spirituality without a prayer life is no spirituality at all, and it will not last beyond the first defeat. Prayer is an opening of the self so that the Word of God can break in and make us new. Prayer unmasks. Prayer converts. Prayer impels. Prayer sustains us on the way.

  • Life is a thing of many stages and moving parts. What we do with ease at one time of life we can hardly manage at another. What we could not fathom doing when we were young, we find great joy in when we are old. Like the seasons through which we move, life itself is a never-ending series of harvests, a different fruit for every time.

  • The secret of life is to let every segment of it produce its own yield at its own pace. Every period has something new to teach us. The harvest of youth is achievement; the harvest of middle-age is perspective; the harvest of age is wisdom; the harvest of life is serenity.

  • It's possible to have too much in life. Too many clothes jade our appreciation for new ones; too much money can put us out of touch with life; too much free time can dull the edge of the soul. We need sometimes to come very near the bone so that we can taste the marrow of life rather than its superfluities.

  • Just when summer gets perfect — fresh nights, soft sun, casual breezes, crushingly full and quietly cooling trees, empty beaches, and free weekends — it ends. Life is like that too. Just when we get it right, it starts to change. The job gets easy and we know just how to do it, and they tell us we're retired. The children grow up and get reasonable and they leave home, just when it's nice to have them around. ... That's life on the edge of autumn. And that's beautiful — if we have the humility for it.

  • The purpose of leadership is not to make the present bearable. The purpose of leadership is to make the future possible.

    • Joan Chittister
  • I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.

    • Joan Chittister,
    • dailykos.com ()

Joan Chittister, U.S. Benedictine nun, social psychologist, communications theorist

(1936)