Sunday, February 18, 2018

Where Shall My Wondering Soul Begin?

Where shall my wondering soul begin?
How shall I all to heaven aspire?
A slave redeemed from death and sin,
A brand plucked from eternal fire,
How shall I equal triumphs raise,
Or sing my great Deliverer’s praise?

O how shall I the goodness tell,
Father, which Thou to me hast showed?
That I, a child of wrath and hell,
I should be called a child of God,
Should know, should feel my sins forgiven,
Blessed with this antepast of Heaven!

And shall I slight my Father’s love?
Or basely fear His gifts to own?
Unmindful of His favors prove?
Shall I, the hallowed cross to shun,
Refuse His righteousness to impart,
By hiding it within my heart?

Come, O my guilty brethren, come,
Groaning beneath your load of sin,
His bleeding heart shall make you room,
His open side shall take you in;
He calls you now, invites you home;
Come, O my guilty brethren, come!

~Words: Charles Wesley & Music: Dmitri Bortniansky, Alternate tune: Henry Carey

Saturday, February 17, 2018

but for sorrow

I might never have asked
     what could be

     but for sorrow.

I might never have opened
to the terrible
vulnerability of love

     but for tears.

I might never have begun
this treacherous path to
God

     but for emptiness.

~Rob Suarez

Friday, February 16, 2018

A True Lent

Is this a fast,—to keep
    The larder lean,     
        And clean
From fat of veals and sheep? 

Is it to quit the dish
    Of flesh, yet still 
        To fill 
The platter high with fish? 

Is it to fast an hour, 
    Or ragg’d to go,
        Or show 
A downcast look, and sour? 

No! ’t is a fast to dole  
    Thy sheaf of wheat, 
        And meat,
Unto the hungry soul. 

It is to fast from strife, 
    From old debate  
        And hate,—  
To circumcise thy life.

To show a heart grief-rent; 
    To starve thy sin, 
        Not bin,— 
And that ’s to keep thy Lent.

~Robert Herrick (1591–1674)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Wound/Medicine

“Be ashamed when you sin, don’t be ashamed when you repent. Sin is the wound, repentance is the medicine. Sin is followed by shame; repentance is followed by boldness. Satan has overturned this order and given boldness to sin and shame to repentance.”
~St. John Chrysostom

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Ash Wednesday

View Me, Lord, a Work of Thine

View me, Lord, a work of thine!
Shall I then lie downed in night?
Might thy grace in me but shine,
I should seem made all of light.

Cleanse me, Lord, that I may kneel
At thine altar pure and white;
They at once thy mercies feel,
Gaze no more on earth's delight.

Worldly joys like shadows fade
When the heavenly light appears;
But the covenants Thou hast made,
Endless, know not days nor years.

In thy word, Lord, is my trust,
To thy mercies fast I fly;
Though I am but clay and dust,
Yet thy grace can lift me high.

~Thomas Campion

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Breakable

You,
the sand dollar I have found,
are marked with little holes
in your nature,
powdered and breakable.
I feel your beauty
as I trace the patterns of your face,
and hold you from the salty grip of beachcombers.

You have been picked up many times
but never kept.
There is a void in your center,
where you carry the memory of your source,
where you vaguely remember the water
running through your body.
You wait for me to drop you where I found you
I smooth away the gritty sediment
and see the strength in you
who have emerged from the ocean
and carry the journey on your face.

~Annabelle Moseley

Monday, February 12, 2018

James 1:2-8

2 Consider yourselves happy indeed, my brethren, when you encounter trials of every sort,
3 as men who know well enough that the testing of their faith breeds endurance.
4 Endurance must do its work thoroughly, if you are to be men full-grown in every part, nothing lacking in you.
5 Is there one of you who still lacks wisdom? God gives to all, freely and ungrudgingly; so let him ask God for it, and the gift will come.
6 (Only it must be in faith that he asks, he must not hesitate; one who hesitates is like a wave out at sea, driven to and fro by the wind;
7 such a man must not hope to win any gift from the Lord.
8 No, a man who is in two minds will find no rest wherever he goes.)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

God Of All Power, And Truth, And Grace

God of all power, and truth, and grace,
Which shall from age to age endure,
Whose Word, when Heaven and earth shall pass,
Remains and stands for ever sure;

That I Thy mercy may proclaim,
That all mankind Thy truth may see,
Hallow Thy great and glorious Name,
And perfect holiness in me.

Thy sanctifying Spirit pour,
To quench my thirst, and make me clean;
Now, Father, let the gracious shower
Descend, and make me pure from sin.

Purge me from every sinful blot;
My idols all be cast aside;
Cleanse me from every sinful thought,
From all the filth of self and pride.

Give me a new, a perfect heart,
From doubt, and fear, and sorrow free;
The mind which was in Christ impart,
And let my spirit cleave to Thee.

O take this heart of stone away!
Thy sway it doth not, cannot own;
In me no longer let it stay,
O take away this heart of stone!

O that I now, from sin released,
Thy Word may to the utmost prove,
Enter into the promised rest,
The Canaan of Thy perfect love!

~Words: Charles Wesley & Music: Valentin Schumann; harmony by Johann S. Bach

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Marriage

“The love of husband and wife is the force that welds society together.”
~St. John Chrysostom

Friday, February 9, 2018

Beloved of God

“That a man is beloved of God, should melt him all into esteem and holy veneration. It should make him so courageous as an angel of God. It should make him delight in calamities and distresses for God's sake. By giving me all things else, He hath made even afflictions themselves my treasures. The sharpest trials, are the finest furbishing. The most tempestuous weather is the best seed-time. A Christian is an oak flourishing in winter. God hath so magnified and glorified His servant, and exalted him so highly in His eternal bosom, that no other joy should be able to move us but that alone. All sorrows should appear but shadows, beside that of His absence, and all the greatness of riches and estates swallowed up in the light of His favour. Incredible Goodness lies in His Love. And it should be joy enough to us to contemplate and possess it. He is poor whom God hates: ’tis a true proverb. And besides that, we should so love Him, that the joy alone of approving ourselves to Him, and making ourselves amiable and beautiful before Him should be a continual feast, were we starving. A beloved cannot feel hunger in the presence of his beloved. Where martyrdom is pleasant, what can be distasteful. To fight, to famish, to die for one's beloved, especially with one's beloved, and in his excellent company, unless it be for his trouble, is truly delightful. God is always present, and always seeth us.”
~Thomas Traherne

Thursday, February 8, 2018

A Little Beggar

“There were many beggars on the plaza, and I recall especially a little boy who came up to me. He must have been five or six years old. He held out his hand to me in the classic begging gesture, the open palm imploring a peso from what he thought was a wealthy tourista. I felt badly because my pockets were rather empty and I had nothing to give him. It was a moment of some kind of illumination. As I looked at this child ... I saw that here was a human soul. St. Thomas Aquinas says that the entire weight of the material universe does not equal the value of one human soul...

I put out my hand, placed it on his forehead, and said in English, though he understood nothing of my words, ‘Gold and silver have I none, little boy, but I give you what I have.’ I made the sign of the cross on his forehead and ruffled up his hair. It was probably a bad gesture, culturally speaking, but in my country ruffling up a child’s hair means you feel great affection for him. The child realized that there was no money forthcoming, yet he just stood there anyway, beaming up at me, and his eyes were full of, for lack of a better word, a kind of delight. I felt the same for this little stranger, and there was a bond of love lasting only a few seconds, a moment of a little heart speaking to an old, tired heart—and the old, tired heart speaking back. And then the plaza guards came and scooted him away.

...What that little so-called beggar was to me, that is what I am before God. We are all beggars before God, but we are also—and this is the part which is so often forgotten—we are beloved beggars. We are so beloved, in fact, that even those who are very close to God only begin to grasp the reality of His great love. If we are beggars, we must also understand that the King has come out of his palace, and lived on the streets as one of us, and now to our shock and disbelief he embraces us in his arms, lifts us up and takes us home to the palace, adopting us as his sons and daughters.”
~Michael O’Brien

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Doubts

“I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe. I know what torment this is, but I can only see it, in myself anyway, as the process by which faith is deepened. A faith that just accepts is a child's faith and all right for children, but eventually you have to grow religiously as every other way, though some never do.

What people don't realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe. If you feel you can't believe, you must at least do this: keep an open mind. Keep it open toward faith, keep wanting it, keep asking for it, and leave the rest to God.”
~Flannery O’Connor

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Noise

“...Silence not a virtue, noise not a sin. True. But the turmoil and confusion and constant noise of modern society are the expression of the ambiance of its greatest sins—its godlessness, its despair. A world of propaganda, of endless argument, vituperation, criticism, or simply of chatter, is a world without anything to live for...”
~Thomas Merton

Monday, February 5, 2018

In a Winter Orchard

In the orchard white with snow
like sprinkled salt,
a plum tree raises thick black branches
in a victory sign,
outlined with flowers in full bloom,
like an Easter garland.

“Behold, whoever puts his life in me,
even though he dies, will never die;
do not be doubtful
of invisible realities.”

Playfully, a single magpie
hops from branch to branch.

Beside a hole gaping
like a cavity in a lung,
stiff as a corpse
an apple tree lies, a full arm's girth.

A man comes by, dark as shade,
with a frame bound upon his back;
he lops the dead branches with an axe,
splits the trunk, and bears it all away.

“Behold, a figure of the dead
who will tomorrow be cast
into perdition's flames;
beware, then, lest the roots of your existence
become infected!”

A crow flies cawing
across the frozen sky.

~Ku Sang (English translation by Brother Anthony)

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Living God My Shepherd Is

The living God, my Shepherd is,
I know no care or need:
He guides me where rich pastures grow,
Along the verdant mead,
Where everyday, by pleasant way,
My hungering soul may feed.

He leads me where cool waters flow,
By rippling stream and rill,
Where I may taste the springs of life,
My thirsting spirit fill;
He near me bides and homeward guides
My vagrant heart and will.

I nothing fear; thou art, O Lord,
With me through night and day,
Intent, with shepherd’s staff and rod,
To guide me when I stray,
And in the fold thou dost uphold
My fainting heart always.

And so through all the length of days,
Thy mercy waits on me,
At last within my Father’s house,
Thy glory I shall see;
Thee ever more will I adore
Through all eternity.

~Words: Translation of the 23rd Psalm by English Jesuit priest John Driscoll & Music: BROTHER JAMES AIR by J. L. Macbeth Bain

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Hebrews 4:15-16

We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet never sinned. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and favor and to find help in time of need.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Abraham’s Child

Towards afternoon the train pulled in to the station.
The light came grey and cold through the dirty glass of the terminal roof,
and passengers waiting on the platform blew upon their hands and stamped their feet
and their breath came out like smoke.
In the comfortable compartment I leaned back against the red plush of the seat
and looked out the window. All the signs were in a language I could not read.
I got out my passport and held it, waiting in readiness.
My papers were in order and the train was warm.
The conductor slid open the door to the compartment and said to me,
“This is your last stop on this train. You will have to get out.”
I held out my passport, “No, no, my journeys barely half over,”
and I told him the cities through which the train was going to pass.
He handed me back my passport and said again, “You will have to get out,”
and he took me by the arms and led me from the coach.
His hands were so strong
my arms cried out in pain. On the platform it was cold. “But I don't know where I am!” I cried, “or where I am going.”
“Follow me,” he said. “I have been sent to show you.” Through the glass of the station roof I could see the sun was going down
and a horror of great darkness fell upon me.
“Come,” the conductor said. “This is the way you are to go,”
and he led me past the passengers waiting on the platform
and past the foreign signs and a burning lamp in this land
where I was a stranger. He led me to a train with no lights and broken windows
and a pale wisp of smoke lifting from a rusty engine, and said,
“Get in. This is your train.”
I fell upon my face and laughed and said, “But this train isn't going anywhere,”
and he said, “You may sit down,” and I sat on a wooden bench
and he put my satchel on the rack over my head.
“Are you ready for the journey?” he asked me. “I must have your passport.”
I gave it to him. “Where are we going?” I asked. The train was cold.
“The way will be shown,” he said, and closed the compartment door.
I heard a puff of steam. The old engine began to pull the dark car
and we ventured out into the night.

~Madeleine L'Engle

Thursday, February 1, 2018

A Perilous Affair

“Why is it that the look of another person looking at you is different from everything else in the Cosmos? That is to say, looking at lions or tigers or Saturn or the Ring Nebula or at an owl or at another person from the side is one thing, but finding yourself looking in the eyes of another person looking at you is something else. And why is it that one can look at a lion or a planet or an owl or at someone's finger as long as one pleases, but looking into the eyes of another person is, if prolonged past a second, a perilous affair?”
~Walker Percy

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Help Each Other

“My dear sons, help each other to cultivate the lovely virtue of purity. Resolve among yourselves never to do, say, or look at the least thing which may taint this charming virtue. If you see a companion in danger of falling, hurry to his aid, protect him from certain companions, warn him, pray for him – in a word, save him. You will find merit with God ... More than that, if you notice that a companion tries to corrupt others, take action against him, snatch the victims from his talons, and sound the alarm. What would you do if a wolf, breaking into your sheepfold, were to begin to tear your lambs to pieces and you were not strong enough to fight and save them? You would cry for help; you would cry, ‘Wolf! Wolf!’ Do the same against those hellish wolves who seek to ruin your companions’ souls. Shout it out to your companions. If that is not enough, shout it out to your superiors. They will know how to handle the wolves.”
~St. John Bosco

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Sparrows


(Picture by Remo Savisaar)
Today, He is in the sparrows
in their ruffled ordinariness
on the back fence, picking
at leftover seeds and fruits
of the dead. In winter,
the sparrows bear the burden
of the cold, light as the cross
of their hollow bones, and
from the window, they are,
in the glare of holy every day,
framed and hallowed prayer.

~Sally Ito
 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Being Christ

“We could scrub the floor for a tired friend, or dress a wound for a patient in a hospital, or lay the table and wash up for the family; but we shall not do it in martyr spirit or with that worse spirit of self-congratulation, of feeling that we are making ourselves more perfect, more unselfish, more positively kind.

We shall do it just for one thing, that our hands make Christ’s hands in our life, that our service may let Christ serve through us, that our patience may bring Christ’s patience back to the world.”
~Caryll Houselander

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul's Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven's joys, O bright Heaven's Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

~Dallan Forgaill, Mary Byrne, & Eleanor Hull (re-post)

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Lord, Give Me Wisdom

God of my fathers, Lord of mercy,
you who have made all things by your word
and in your wisdom have established man
to rule the creatures produced by you,
to govern the world in holiness and justice,
and to render judgment in integrity of heart:

Give me Wisdom, the attendant at your throne,
and reject me not from among your children;
for I am your servant, the son of your handmaid,
a man weak and short-lived
and lacking in comprehension of judgment and of laws.

Indeed, though one be perfect among the sons of men,
if Wisdom, who comes from you, be not with him,
he shall be held in no esteem.

Now with you is Wisdom, who knows your works
and was present when you made the world;
who understands what is pleasing in your eyes
and what is conformable with your commands.

Send her forth from your holy heavens
and from your glorious throne dispatch her
that she may be with me and work with me,
that I may know what is your pleasure.

For she knows and understands all things,
and will guide me discreetly in my affairs
and safeguard me by her glory.

~Wisdom 9:1-6, 9-11

Friday, January 26, 2018

Where Reformation Begins

“To reform a world, to reform a nation, no wise man will undertake; and all but foolish men know, that the only solid, though a far slower reformation, is what each begins and perfects on himself.”
~Thomas Carlyle

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Inside/Outside

Inside the house, all
you can see are the streams of rain
down the windows. Outside,
even a minute exposes you to
the chill splash of truth as the singular drops
filter through your dark hair
and trickle down your scalp,
soaking the collar at your neckline.
Shivering, you intuit the needle of ice
that still lives like a seed
at the heart of each drop—it feels
that cold.

Would you wish yourself innocent
of ice, shielded? This is a poem
you could never have written, a frost
you would never have let yourself feel.

~Luci Shaw

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Confidence in God

“We must indeed keep ourselves humble because of our imperfections, but this humility must be the foundation of a great generosity, for the one without the other degenerates into imperfection. Humility without generosity is only a deception and a cowardice of heart which makes us think that we are good for nothing and that others should never think of using us in anything great. On the other hand, generosity without humility is only presumption. We may indeed say: ‘It is true I have no virtue, still less the necessary gifts to be used in such a charge’; but after that humble acknowledgment we must so put our confidence in God as to believe that He will not fail to give them to us when it is necessary that we have them, and when He wants to make use of us, provided only that we forget ourselves and be occupied in faithfully praising His Divine Majesty and helping our neighbor to do the same, so as to increase His glory as much as lies in our power.

...

We say that we do not know whether the will to please Him that we now have will remain with us during our whole life. Alas! It is true, for there is nothing so weak and changeable as we are. But nevertheless, let us not be troubled. Let us, rather, frequently lay this good will before Our Lord; let us place it in His hands and He will renew it as often it is necessary that we may have enough for our whole mortal life. After this life there will be no cause for fear, nor for so many apprehensions, for with the help of God, we shall be in a safe place...”
~St. Francis de Sales

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Path to Happiness

“How mistaken are those people who seek happiness outside of themselves, in foreign lands and journeys, in riches and glory, in great possessions and pleasures, in diversions and vain things, which have a bitter end! It is the same thing to construct the tower of happiness outside of ourselves as it is to build a house in a place that is consistently shaken by earthquakes. Happiness is found within ourselves, and blessed is the man who has understood this. Happiness is a pure heart, for such a heart becomes the throne of God. Thus says Christ of those who have pure hearts: ‘I will visit them, and will walk in them, and I will be a God to them, and they will be my people.’ (II Cor. 6:16) What can be lacking to them? Nothing, nothing at all! For they have the greatest good in their hearts: God Himself!”
~St. Nektarios of Aegina

Monday, January 22, 2018

Great Books

“...Great books do the following: they initiate us into the founding texts and ideas of our civilization; they aid our self-knowledge and help us to cultivate our freedom by making us critically aware of alternatives to our accustomed opinions and prejudices. Great books put our adult, professional lives in the context of human life as a whole and invite reflection on the limits of our professional knowledge. The winged words of great books fly into our souls and inspire imagination as well as critical thought regarding the deepest, most important questions of human life; they educate our feelings and desires and therefore have a powerful role to play in our moral education. In particular, they help to cultivate a taste and admiration for nobility—an intelligent appreciation of all things great, beautiful, rich in detail, and intelligently composed. Reading and discussing great books also prompts and refines our inner discourse, the conversation we have with ourselves. It thus shapes our character and our lives. And finally, some great books, the ones we most admire and love, are like ever-reliable friends who always have wise and wonderful things to say, and with whom we wrestle gladly and profitably. Thanks to these books especially, for several hours we feel no boredom, we forget every pain, and we fear neither poverty nor death.”
~Peter Kalkavage

Sunday, January 21, 2018

O Saving Victim

O saving Victim opening wide
The gate of heaven to all below.
Our foes press on from every side;
Thine aid supply, Thy strength bestow.

To Thy great name be endless praise
Immortal Godhead, One in Three;
Oh, grant us endless length of days,
In our true native land with Thee.
Amen.

~St. Thomas Aquinas (tr. E. Caswall)

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Assent


(Picture found here)
If you build your house
next to the river of love
you will come to recognize
the divine, whether an angel or
an open parking space.
Even the dust motes that
make a chain of light settling
on the office chair arm are
a sign. Reckon with the truth
that the whole universe flares
with just-born light. And
that even in winter’s ink-black dark
every flame live enough
to burn will matter.

~Luci Shaw