Thursday, May 25, 2017

On the Ascension

“Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. Listen to the words of the Apostle: If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth. For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.

Christ is now exalted above the heavens, but he still suffers on earth all the pain that we, the members of his body, have to bear. He showed this when he cried out from above: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? and when he said: I was hungry and you gave me food. Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with him in heaven even now, through the faith, hope and love that unites us to him?

While in heaven he is also with us; and we while on earth are with him. He is here with us by his divinity, his power and his love. We cannot be in heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity, but in him, we can be there by love.

He did not leave heaven when he came down to us; nor did he withdraw from us when he went up again into heaven. The fact that he was in heaven even while he was on earth is borne out by his own statement: No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven. These words are explained by our oneness with Christ, for he is our head and we are his body. No one ascended into heaven except Christ because we also are Christ: he is the Son of Man by his union with us, and we by our union with him are sons of God.

So the Apostle says: Just as the human body, which has many members, is a unity, because all the different members make one body, so is it also with Christ. He too has many members, but one body. Out of compassion for us he descended from heaven, and although he ascended alone, we also ascend, because we are in him by grace. Thus, no one but Christ descended and no one but Christ ascended; not because there is no distinction between the head and the body, but because the body as a unity cannot be separated from the head.”

~St. Augustine (From a sermon on the Ascension)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Barking

The moon comes up.
The moon goes down.
This is to inform you
that I didn’t die young.
Age swept past me
but I caught up.
Spring has begun here and each day
brings new birds up from Mexico.
Yesterday I got a call from the outside
world but I said no in thunder.
I was a dog on a short chain
and now there’s no chain.

~Jim Harrison

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Supernatural Basis

“Today we can see it on all sides as the active negation of all that Western culture has stood for. Civilization - and by this I do not mean talking cinemas and tinned food, nor even surgery and hygienic houses, but the whole moral and artistic organization of Europe - has not in itself the power of survival. It came into being through Christianity, and without it has no significance or power to command allegiance. The loss of faith in Christianity and the consequential lack of confidence in moral and social standards have become embodied in the ideal of a materialistic, mechanized state . . . It is no longer possible . . . to accept the benefits of civilization and at the same time deny the supernatural basis upon which it rests.”
~Evelyn Waugh

Monday, May 22, 2017

World Into Fragments

Small breaks first: cup on marble floor,
mirror on staircase, cracked watch-face,
hairlines in roof tiles. Then it escalates.

Plate windows shiver into diamonds,
smoked office towers smoke into tobacco heaps,
screens give way to white noise, then blow.

Reasons for this shattering include
too great a tension, too much shrill,
a world more fragile than we thought.

Yet still it goes, ear-splitting, as
great forests disassemble like mosaics,
sugar-glass trees turn shingle, then the sky,

sun and moon as vast burst bulbs,
hot torrential hail. And when it stops,
we see for real, as if through mud and spit.

~Michael Symmons Roberts

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Importance of Prayer

“Without prayer salvation is impossible. To neglect it is to neglect the only means given us to remain in touch with Almighty God; if we lose hold of Him we necessarily fall back upon ourselves, and in ourselves we can find nothing that can advance us towards eternal life.

...

The difficulty in prayer is not in prayer itself. It all comes from our want of decision in electing definitely to find our unique satisfaction of mind, will and imagination in the supernatural and in definitely renouncing the tendency to seek in the natural world any form of satisfaction that does not lead to God.

...

Many will plead that they find the spiritual life a difficulty, because they find prayer a difficulty. The truth is that men begin to find prayer a difficulty when they have begun to find God a difficulty. This comes when God has ceased to interest them because other things have begun to interest them more.”
~Edward Leen

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Happiness and Gratitude

“The very fury with which people go on seeking pleasure is a proof that they have not found it.”
~G. K. Chesterton

“No one can obtain felicity by pursuit. This explains why one of the elements of being happy is the feeling that a debt of gratitude is owed, a debt impossible to pay. Now, we do not owe gratitude to ourselves. To be conscious of gratitude is to acknowledge a gift.”

“...each gratification points to the ultimate one, and that all happiness has some connection with eternal beatitude. Some connection, if only this: that every fulfillment this side of Heaven instantly reveals its inadequacy. It is immediately evident that such satisfactions are not enough; they are not what we have really sought; they cannot really satisfy us...”
~Josef Pieper

Friday, May 19, 2017

Religion, Government, Society...

“There is now a false idealism of turning Government into God, by a vague notion that it gives everything to everybody; to the denial of the liberty given by God, which is called life...”

“Religious liberty might be supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion. In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it.”
~G. K. Chesterton

“Wherever politics tries to be redemptive, it is promising too much. Where it wishes to do the work of God, it becomes not divine, but demonic.”
~Benedict XVI

“A people may also lose its religion and become secularized. Without a religion, however, a culture cannot long survive. Secularization is inevitably a sign of ‘social decay;’ since religion provides the principle of inner cohesion for a society, a secular society will sooner or later disintegrate.”
~Christopher Dawson

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Burst Our Bubble

“...suffering and even crisis is our normal situation. The bubble of pain-free and ordered living that we modern Americans think of as our normal state is highly abnormal judged by historical standards. In most cultures throughout human history, people could expect to experience monthly about the same amount of physical pain most of us encounter in a lifetime. Remember, for instance, that anesthetics and pills were invented only about a century ago.

This is probably one of the reasons why people in scientifically advanced cultures tend to be more secular and people in scientifically primitive cultures tend to be more religious: not because religion is based on scientific ignorance or because any scientific discovery has ever disproved a single doctrine of the Christian faith; but because science’s child, technology, has conquered or mitigated so many of life’s pains and limitations that it has put us into this soundproofed bubble that God has to burst just to get our attention. As C. S. Lewis put it, ‘God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world’ (The Problem of Pain).”
~Peter Kreeft

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Inner Life

“The ‘whole good’ cannot be had, it would seem, without mustering all the strength of our inner life. Even in the sphere of external possessions there are goods which inherently demand, if they are to be truly ours, far more of us than mere acquisition. ‘My garden,’ the rich man said; his gardener smiled.”
~Josef Pieper

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Encouragement

“He is in no real danger. He merely suffers from a lethargy, a sickness that is common among the depressed. He has forgotten who he really is, but he will recover, for he used to know me, and all I have to do is cloud the mist that beclouds his vision.”
~Boethius

Monday, May 15, 2017

Peasants Versus Philosophers

“It wasn’t that they didn’t take an interest in the world around them. On the contrary, they had a deep, personal and passionate involvement in it, but instead of asking, ‘Why are we here?’ they asked, ‘Is it going to rain before the harvest?’

A philosopher might have deplored this lack of mental ambition, but only if he was really certain about where his next meal was coming from.”
~Terry Pratchett

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day 2017

I am a tree
     Strong limbed and deeply rooted
     My fruit is bittersweet
     I am your mother
~from “Trees” by Walter Dean Myers

Oh, if instead she’d left to me
     The thing she took into the grave!—
     That courage like a rock, which she
     Has no more need of, and I have.
~from “The courage that my mother had” by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I want my conscience to be
     true before you;
     want to describe myself like a picture I observed
     for a long time, one close up,
     like a new word I learned and embraced,
     like the everday jug,
     like my mother’s face,
     like a ship that carried me along
     through the deadliest storm.
~from “I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone” by Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, May 13, 2017

First and Second Adam

“The holy Apostle has told us that the human race takes its origin from two men, Adam and Christ; two men equal in body but unequal in merit, wholly alike in their physical structure but totally unlike in the very origin of their being. The first man, Adam, he says, became a living soul, the last Adam a life-giving spirit. The first Adam was made by the last Adam, from whom he also received his soul, to give him life. The last Adam was formed by his own action; he did not have to wait for life to be given him by someone else, but was the only one who could give life to all. The first Adam was formed from valueless clay; the second Adam came forth from the precious womb of the Virgin. In the case of the first Adam, earth was changed into flesh; in the case of the second Adam, flesh was raised up to be God.

What more need be said? The second Adam stamped his image on the first Adam when he created him. That is why he took on himself the role, and the name, of the first Adam, in order that he might not lose what he had made in his own image. The first Adam, the last Adam; the first had a beginning, the last knows no end. The last Adam is indeed the first; as he himself says: I am the first and the last.

I am the first, that is, I have no beginning. I am the last, that is, I have no end. But what was spiritual, says the Apostle, did not come first; what was living came first, then what is spiritual. The earth comes before its fruit, but the earth is not so valuable as its fruit. The earth exacts pain and toil; its fruit bestows subsistence and life. The prophet rightly boasted of this fruit: Our earth has yielded its fruit. What is this fruit? The fruit referred to in another place: I will place upon your throne one who is the fruit of your body. The first man, says the Apostle, was made from the earth and belongs to the earth; the second man is from heaven, and belongs to heaven.

The man made from the earth is the pattern of those who belong to the earth; the man from heaven is the pattern of those who belong to heaven. How is it that these last, though they do not belong to heaven by birth, will yet belong to heaven, men who do not remain what they were by birth but persevere in being what they have become by rebirth? The reason is, brethren, that the heavenly Spirit, by the mysterious infusion of his light, gives fertility to the womb of the virginal font. The Spirit brings forth as men belonging to heaven those whose earthly ancestry brought them forth as men belonging to the earth, and in a condition of wretchedness; he gives them the likeness of their Creator. Now that we are reborn, refashioned in the image of our Creator, we must fulfill what the Apostle commands: So, as we have worn the likeness of the man of earth, let us also wear the likeness of the man of heaven.

Now that we are reborn, as I have said, in the likeness of our Lord, and have indeed been adopted by God as his children, let us put on the complete image of our Creator so as to be wholly like him, not in the glory that he alone possesses, but in innocence, simplicity, gentleness, patience, humility, mercy, harmony, those qualities in which he chose to become, and to be, one with us.”
~St. Peter Chrysologus (380 – 450 AD)
(Sermon 117: PL 52, 520-521)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Pray for them...

“Love sinners, but hate their deeds, and do not disdain sinners for their failings, so that you yourself do not fall into the temptation in which they abide... Do not be angry at anyone and do not hate anyone, neither for their faith, nor for their shameful deeds... Do not foster hatred for the sinner, for we are all guilty... Hate his sins, and pray for him, so that you may be made like unto Christ, who had no dislike for sinners, but prayed for them.”
~St. Isaac the Syrian

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Ultimate Questions

“...a young, agnostic medical student named Walker Percy discovered—through debilitating illness and then deep reading of Christian philosophy—that science, which he once viewed as the final word on everything, could not answer the ultimate questions. Modern science, he later wrote (after becoming Catholic), ‘is itself radically incoherent, not when it seeks to understand things and subhuman organisms and the cosmos itself, but when it seeks to understand man, not man’s physiology or neurology or his bloodstream, but man qua man, man when he is peculiarly human. In short, the sciences of man are incoherent.’ And in a self-interview, ‘Questions They Never Asked Me,’ Percy put it this way:

This life is much too much trouble, far too strange, to arrive at the end of it and then be asked what you make of it and have to answer, ‘Scientific humanism.’ That won’t do. A poor show. Life is a mystery, love is a delight. Therefore, I take it as axiomatic that one should settle for nothing less than the infinite mystery and infinite delight; i.e., God.

We can either have an earth-bound and cramped system, or Truth Himself. The former offers trendy marches and Bill Nye rants; the latter offers infinite mystery and infinite delight.”
~Carl Olson

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Opposite Dangers

“There is for the Christian community, at a time like ours, two opposite dangers: the danger of seeking sanctity only in the desert, and the danger of forgetting the necessity of the desert for sanctity . . . Christian heroism has not the same sources as other heroisms; it proceeds from the heart of a God scourged and ridiculed, crucified outside the gates of the city.”
~Jacques Maritain

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Security

“Security in what comes last gives serenity in what comes before.”
~Romano Guardini

Monday, May 8, 2017

Eat You Alive

he said to me,
child, I’m afraid for your soul
these things that you’re after, they can’t be controlled
this beast that you’re after will eat you alive
and spit out your bones

she’ll string you along and she’ll sell you a lie
but there’s nothing but pain on the edge of a knife
there is no courage in flirting with fear
to prove you’re alive

I’ve seen the true face of the things you call Life
the voice of the siren that holds your desires
but Death, she is cunning, and clever as hell
and she’ll eat you alive

oh, she’ll eat you alive

~Tyler Heath and Maggie Heath

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Good Shepherd

My Savior the good Shepherd is,
He’ll never leave the flock.
The One Who truly loves the sheep,
Became the Lamb of God.
Despised, afflicted in my stead,
He spent His soul for me.
And to the slaughter He was led,
That I not thirsty be.

My Shepherd is the Lamb of God,
He calls to me each day,
To drink the waters flowing free,
From His pierced side of grace.
Yet when I stray or choose my way,
He still would search for me,
And bring me home on shoulders strong.
Do I not His love see?

My Shepherd’s face is how I live,
I love to look at Him.
Though He might lead through shearing trial,
But still I follow Him.
Just as the Father’s presence cheered
Him through each suffering day,
’Tis once I saw His tender care
That here I want to stay.

Oh, Father thank You for Your Son,
He shares Your heart for us.
That gladly He would bear us to
The bosom of Your love.
No greater Shepherd could there be,
That He would not lose one!
And lead us all to dwell with You.
Sweet Pasture, Living Stream.

~Found here: https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/ns/89

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Has That Break Come?

“The worst pains we experience are not those of the suffering itself but of our stubborn resistance to it, our resolute insistence on our independence. To be ‘crucified with Christ’ means what Oswald Chambers calls ‘breaking the husk’ of that independence. ‘Has that break come?’ he asks. ‘All the rest is pious fraud.’”
~Elisabeth Elliott (re-post)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Be in the Resistance

“I do not think any efforts of my own will can end once and for all this craving for limited liabilities, this fatal reservation. Only God can. I have good faith and hope He will. Of course, I don't mean I can therefore, as they say, ‘sit back.’ What God does for us, He does in us. The process of doing it will appear to me (and not falsely) to be the daily or hourly repeated exercises of my own will in renouncing this attitude, especially each morning, for it grows all over me like a new shell each night. Failures will be forgiven; it is acquiescence that is fatal, the permitted, regularised presence of an area in ourselves which we still claim for our own. We may never, this side of death, drive the invader out of our territory, but we must be in the Resistance, not the Vichy government. And this, so far as I can yet see, must be begun again every day. Our morning prayer should be that in the Imitation: Da hodie perfecte incipere - grant me to make an unflawed beginning today, for I have done nothing yet.”
~C. S. Lewis

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Communion with God

“God gives His communion to all who love Him. Communion with God is life and light and sweetness with all the good things that He has. But those who of their own will forsake him he rewards with separation from Him, which they themselves have chosen. As separation from light is darkness, so also alienation from God is deprivation of all good things which He has. But the good things of God are eternal and without end, so that the loss of them is eternal and without end. Thus sinners shall be the cause of their own torments, just as the blind do not see the light, although it is shining on them.”
~St. Irenaeus

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Shadowing the Medivac

He's already in the car, an hour's drive
he can't allow himself to think, just drive
in the helicopter's shadow peeling

silently over the hills, silently, like nothing
is happening inside, nothing going on,
can't think of anything newborn

zooming through the sky, an ounce of brain
racked by seizures, blue-skinned, underweight
and Swiss cheese for a heart.    

What's in the rearview, eh? Anything coming?
Cars? Trucks? Glare and a crab-red face deformed
with thoughts of beats and breathing tubes,

and ahead, old magazines on tables, waiting rooms
where doctors lead men and women into offices to sob
oh my god oh god oh jesus no...

And some of the most beautiful scenery in this country
can be found along our many well-maintained highways.
Shield rock, tamarack swamp and pine groves

line the winding thoroughfares between our cities. He is still
driving, he can see the city coming up. The helicopter
must have arrived already, in Toronto, where they fiddle

inside her rib cage with the sanitary version of a bicycle tire
repair kit....and he's on his way to the hospital, he'll get there,
he's coming, he's keeping his eye on the road.

~Paul Vermeersch

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Spirituality and Work

“It seems to me, though, that such corporate efforts are misguided. There is no need to add ‘spirituality’ to work; human work itself is already a spiritual act. It is a form of spirituality. It is only by confronting the daily demands of work that we deepen our interior dynamism. Upon impact with the world that is ‘other,’ our dynamism configures the demands or needs that define our human identity, such as the quest for justice, truth, beauty, and fulfillment. It is this that links us with the Infinite. This is the realm of an authentic human spirituality. Therefore, it is not that spirituality ‘adds’ something to work, or improves performance, or makes it barely tolerable. Instead, work itself is meant to become a spiritual act and this happens when it is experienced as being at the service of the quest for the Infinite.

We are often called upon to do ‘mindless’ work. But our spiritual task is to transform it. Emptying the trash can be considered mindless, but if I see it as a contribution to the well-being of my family, it can be immensely significant for me.”
~Lorenzo Albacete

Monday, May 1, 2017

Flower Head

Perched on the high end of its
spinal stalk the brain blooms
like a pink cabbage rose

Peel back the blunt bone like a bud—
it will be meaty to touch, the
corolla folding in, folding in to echo
within the sepal skull
a blink of light, logarithms, a view
of ships in harbor, a word just now
rescued by memory, clipped arbor vitae
how it smells—spiced

Here God lives, burrowing among
the petals, cross-
pollinating. Here is Christ's mind
juiced, joined, fleshed, celled.
Here is the clash,
the roil, an invasion, not gentle
as dew; the rose is unfurled
violently until the scent explodes
and detonates in the air

And oh, it trembles—
thousands of seeds ripen in it as
it reels in the wind

~Luci Shaw

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Jesus Is Risen! Let Us Sing!

Jesus is risen! Let us sing!
Praise to the ever-living King!
     Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise him in song, ye Seraphim!
Praise him with joy, ye Cherubim!
     Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

On this most holy day of days,
Let us together sing his praise!
     Alleluia! Alleluia!
Raise joyful voices to the sky!
Sing out, ye heavens, in reply:
     Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

To God the Father let us sing,
To God the Son, our risen King!
     Alleluia! Alleluia!
And equally let us adore
The Holy Spirit evermore!
     Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Tune: Laßt Uns Erfreuen L.M. with alleluias
Music: Auserlesene Catholische Geistliche Kirchgesänge, Köln, 1623
Text: Compilers, 1978

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Saint Francis and the Sow

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;  
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;  
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch  
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow  
began remembering all down her thick length,  
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,  
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine  
down through the great broken heart
to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering  
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

~Galway Kinnell

Friday, April 28, 2017

Acts 5:34-42

A Pharisee in the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel,
   a teacher of the law, respected by all the people,
   stood up, ordered the Apostles to be put outside for a short time,
   and said to the Sanhedrin, “Fellow children of Israel,
   be careful what you are about to do to these men.
Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be someone important,
   and about four hundred men joined him, but he was killed,
   and all those who were loyal to him
   were disbanded and came to nothing.
After him came Judas the Galilean at the time of the census.
He also drew people after him,
   but he too perished and all who were loyal to him were scattered.
So now I tell you,
   have nothing to do with these men, and let them go.
For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin,
   it will destroy itself.
But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them;
   you may even find yourselves fighting against God.”
They were persuaded by him.
After recalling the Apostles, they had them flogged,
   ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus,
   and dismissed them.
So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin,
   rejoicing that they had been found worthy
   to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.
And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes,
   they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Christ, Jesus.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bridge


(Picture found here)
Most of my life was spent
building a bridge out over the sea
though the sea was too wide.
I’m proud of the bridge
hanging in the pure sea air. Machado
came for a visit and we sat on the
end of the bridge, which was his idea.
Now that I’m old the work goes slowly.
Ever nearer death, I like it out here
high above the sea bundled
up for the arctic storms of late fall,
the resounding crash and moan of the sea,
the hundred-foot depth of the green troughs.
Sometimes the sea roars and howls like
the animal it is, a continent wide and alive.
What beauty in this the darkest music
over which you can hear the lightest music of human
behavior, the tender connection between men and galaxies.
So I sit on the edge, wagging my feet above
the abyss. Tonight the moon will be in my lap.
This is my job, to study the universe
from my bridge. I have the sky, the sea, the faint
green streak of Canadian forest on the far shore.

~Jim Harrison