A Moment of Grace

A story is told about Riorello LaGuardia, who, when he was mayor of New York City during the worst days of the Great Depression and all of World War II, was called by adoring New Yorkers ‘the Little Flower’ because he was only five foot four and always wore a carnation in his lapel.  He was a colorful character who used to ride the New York City fire trucks, raid speakeasies with the police department, take entire orphanages to baseball games, and whenever the New York newspapers were on strike, he would go on the radio and read the Sunday funnies to the kids.

One bitterly cold night in January of 1935, the mayor turned up at a night court that served the poorest ward of the city.  LaGuardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself.  Within a few minutes, a tattered old woman was brought before him, charged with stealing a loaf of bread.  She told LaGuardia that her daughter’s husband had deserted her, her daughter was sick, and her two grandchildren were starving.  But the shopkeeper, from whom the bread was stolen, refused to drop the charges.  “It’s a bad neighborhood, your Honor,” the man told the mayor. 
“She’s got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson.”

LaGuardia sighed.  He turned to the woman and said, “I’ve got to punish you.  The law makes no exceptions — ten dollars or ten days in jail.”  But even as he pronounced sentence, the mayor was already reaching into his pocket.  He extracted a bill and tossed it into his famous sombrero saying: “Here is the ten dollar fine which I now remit; and furthermore I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat.  Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant.”

So the following day the New York City newspapers reported that $47.50 was turned over to a bewildered old lady who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed her starving grandchildren, fifty cents
of that amount being contributed by the red-faced grocery store owner, while some seventy petty criminals, people with traffic violations, and New York City policemen, each of whom had just paid fifty cents for the privilege of doing so, gave the mayor a standing ovation.

What an extraordinary moment of grace for everyone present in that courtroom!
The grace of God operates at a profound level in the life of a loving person.
Oh, that we would recognize God's grace when it comes to us!

Quoted from
The Ragamuffin Gospel, p. 92-93
Brennan Manning

In the end everything will be all right, nothing can harm you permanently;
no loss is lasting, no defeat more than transitory, no disappointment is conclusive.
Suffering, failure, loneliness, sorrow, discouragement and death
will be part of your journey, but the kingdom of God will conquer all these horrors.
No evil can resist grace forever.

-Brennan Manning
(The Ragamuffin Gospel)

Our world is saturated with grace, and the lurking presence of God is revealed not only in spirit
but in matter - in a deer leaping across a meadow, in the flight of an eagle, in fire and water,
in a rainbow after a summer storm, in a gentle doe streaking through a forest,
in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony,
in a child licking a chocolate ice cream cone, in a woman with windblown hair.
God intended for us to discover His loving presence in the world around us.

-Brennan Manning
(The Ragamuffin Gospel)

God loves you
without condition
or reservation
and loves you
this moment
as you are and not
as you should be.

Brennan Manning

My deepest awareness
of myself is that I am
deeply loved by Jesus Christ
and I have done nothing
to earn it or deserve it.

Brennan Manning

We should be astonished at the goodness
of God, stunned that He should bother to
call us by name, our mouths wide open at
His love, bewildered that at this very
moment we are standing on holy ground.

Brennan Manning

The only kind of love
that helps anyone grow is
unconditional love.

Brennan Manning


Being Cherished

Several years ago, Edward Farrell, a priest from Detroit, went on a two-week
summer vacation to Ireland to visit relatives.
His one living uncle was about to celebrate his eightieth birthday.
On the great day, Ed and his uncle got up early. It was before dawn.
They took a walk along the shores of Lake Killarney and stopped to watch the sunrise.
They stood side by side for a full twenty minutes and then resumed walking.
Ed glanced at his uncle and saw that his face had broken into a broad smile.
Ed said, "Uncle Seamus, you look very happy."
"I am."
Ed asked, "How come?"
And his uncle replied,
"The Father of Jesus is very fond of me."

If the question were put to you,
"Do you honestly believe that God likes you?"
-not loves you because theologically he must - how would you answer?
God loves by necessity of his nature;
without the eternal, interior generation of love, he would cease to be God.
But if you could answer, "The Father is very fond of me,"
there would come a relaxedness, a serenity, and a compassionate attitude
toward yourself that is a reflection of God's own tenderness.

In Isaiah 49:15, God says:
"Does a woman forget her baby at the breast, or fail to cherish the son of her womb?
Yet even if these forget, I will never forget you" (JB).


"No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life.
As I was with Moses, so I will be with you;
I will never leave you nor forsake you."

taken from:
Reflections for Ragamuffins, p 4
Brennan Manning

My Belovedness

Who am I?" asked the Trappist monk Thomas Merton,
and he responded, "I am one loved by Christ."

Herein lies the foundation of the true self.
The indispensable condition for developing and maintaining
the awareness of our belovedness is time alone with God.
In solitude we tune out the nay-saying whispers of
our worthlessness and sink down into the mystery of our true self.
Our longing to know who we really are -
which is the source of most of our discontent -
will never be satisfied until we confront and accept
silent solitary moments with the Lord.
There we discover that the truth of our belovedness is really true.
Our primary identity rests in God's relentless tenderness
for us revealed in Jesus Christ.


I lift up my eyes to you,
to you whose throne is in heaven.
PSALM 123:1

taken from:
Reflections for Ragamuffins, p 158
Brennan Manning