Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Our Lady's Assumption, Maisie Ward, & the instructed heart




On this beautiful Feast of the Assumption, I am in Hickory, North Carolina as my extended summer vacation/road trip goes on and on. Ah, retirement! I am getting ready to return to Delaware with my good friend and fellow pious lady Diane Naylor, along with a trunk full of Catholic books for the business. Diane's mother died in January and her father has generously donated her extensive collection of books to the Pious Ladies Bookmobile. Debbie and I hope to bring Diane into the business in a more active capacity, and bring her into the 21st century with her first computer, which she will need to list books.

I plucked The Instructed Heart out of the wealth of books Diane's beloved mother left behind and read straight through most of it last night. It is one of Frank Sheed's last books, an explication of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The first chapter is devoted to his wife, Maisie Ward, as a modern-day example of "the instructed heart", or the place where intellect and will unite.

She was an amazing woman. I am heartened to learn that during her sixties and seventies she was as active as in her younger life, forming and growing The Catholic Housing Aid Society from age 66-75, an effort to restore some of the loss of the 4 million homes in England during the bombings. She continued to write prolifically and kept her hand in at the Catholic Evidence Guild.

From her book To and Fro on the Earth, her husband quotes:

"Creation is at work everywhere, on a large scale occasionally,
but more significantly in small scale achievements by the hundred, by the
thousand. All over the world I have found small groups who are building a new
world in the shell of the one crumbling around us."

And, from The Splendor of the Rosary:

"Living with ideas is a wonderful thing -- for most of us it is not as habitual
a thing as it was with Chesterton. But anyone of us can try it, and I have been
trying it lately with the help of Chesterton, Fra Angelico, and a string of
beads."

"Reality was her continual search," he writes, "its finding her contentment. In people, in ideas, in moral ideas especially, she had a faultless ear for unreality, an instant recoil. All the same she could gaze steadily at it. 'There is in diabolical wickedness,' she notes, 'an element of the farcical.' "

Happy feast of the Assumption, one and all!

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