Saturday, August 19, 2017

Order

“Whoever exalts . . . the people, or the State, or a particular form of State, or the depositories of power, or any other fundamental value of the human community – however necessary and honorable be their function in worldly things – whoever raises these notions above their standard value and divinizes them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God; he is far from the true faith in God and from the concept of life which that faith upholds.”
~Pope Pius XI

Friday, August 18, 2017

False Choices

“The fracture lines in the mind run in every direction, but they have their roots in the heart. Do you see what Satan has done to all of us? Whenever he cannot entice us into direct evil, he will try to allure us into passive evil. No, that is not the exact word—I should say that he always seeks to deceive men of good will by offering them what appears to be a lesser evil.”

“You mean he offers them a terrible evil on one hand and an apparently small evil on the other?”

“Yes. This is his great subtlety with us. He has observed us for millennia. The devil is an outstanding psychologist.”

“So we choose the lesser evil, thinking we have been saved from the great evil, when all the while his real purpose was to bring about the evil we have chosen.”

. . .“He wishes to infect everything, every particle of creation, with compromise. If he cannot entice a man into participating directly in his Great Revolt, he will work to infect him with its lesser attributes.”

“And does so by presenting us with false choices.”

~Michael O'Brien (from The Father's Tale)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Thought

“There is something at the bottom of every new human thought, every thought of genius, or even every earnest thought that springs up in any brain, which can never be communicated to others, even if one were to write volumes about it and were explaining one's idea for thirty-five years; there's something left which cannot be induced to emerge from your brain, and remains with you forever; and with it you will die, without communicating to anyone perhaps the most important of your ideas.”
~Fyodor Dostoyevsky (from The Idiot)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Psalm 126

When the Lord delivered Zion from bondage,
it seemed like a dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
on our lips there were songs.

The heathens themselves said: “What marvels
the Lord worked for them!”
What marvels the Lord worked for us!
Indeed we were glad.

Deliver us, O Lord, from our bondage
as streams in dry land.
Those who are sowing in tears
will sing when they reap.

They go out, they go out, full of tears,
carrying seed for the sowing:
they come back, they come back, full of song,
carrying their sheaves.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Word from His Song

The sparrow on my rooftop shouts,
“All roads be blessed.” His voice a ring
for the finger of the beloved.

And he wouldn’t work harder at his song
if all the world prized it,
nor temper what sounds like ardor
if a public thought him wrong.

He says singing redeems the body’s loneliness.
All praise is homage to an older praising,
a drastic sum and ruling mean,
earth’s urging the grapes to a clearer fate,
sun’s pressing them to a more potent praise.

Flying fixes the heart to the sky’s wheel, he says.
Salt cures the script.
Light is a fractal script.
Imagination is branched, flowering,
and each fans the buds himself.

He says every atom burns.
Hunger rends the kingdom by mending,
marrying voices and wings.

Singing builds a throne
for hearing, sets up a swing
between our one night and our day.

It’s all song, all singing, the body’s seat
and number, the mind’s pleats, time’s hem.

The voice is a sighted brink.
Its mission is to sort the world.
The tongue is a mortal flower.
The dew at last. The guests arrive.
The child learns his name,
a virgin bell. And even that
iron note is God awake in two worlds.

God seeks a destiny in all things fired
in the kiln of the sun or the mind.

That’s the word from his song.

~Li-Young Lee

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Sick

“Each person must bear the weaknesses of others. Who is perfect? Who can boast that he has kept his heart undefiled? Hence, we are all sick, and whoever condemns his brother does not perceive that he himself is sick, because a sick person does not condemn another sick person.”
~Elder Ephraim

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Thankfulness

“I am thankful for my heritage, both family and the church. They have left me with no excuse for not being all that I should be . . .

Most of all I am thankful to God, our Father and Jesus, our Savior and the Spirit, our helper for the providence’s He has shown us all our lives. ‘The lines have fallen to us in pleasant places.’

I sometimes have apprehensions about my standing before the Great Judge of the Universe when I read that, ‘to whom much is given, much shall be required.’

All I can do at this point in my life is trust that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ will take up the slack, make up the lack, and that God the Righteous Judge will be as merciful as we have believed Him to be.

This I do. Amen.”

~Walter Orr (a family friend – from his autobiography toward the end of his life)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

On The Mountain


(Picture found here)
At the mountain of God, Horeb,
   Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter.
Then the LORD said to him,
   “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD;
   the LORD will be passing by.”
A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains
   and crushing rocks before the LORD—
   but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake—
   but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake there was fire—
   but the LORD was not in the fire.
After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.
When he heard this,
   Elijah hid his face in his cloak
   and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.

~1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a

Friday, August 11, 2017

A Quiet Place to Pray

Simon Stylites left his shepherd’s manse behind,
but even the hut he built seemed just too lush.
With nowhere left to go away, he went up.
Still they came, the lovelorn, sick, and poor,
the curious and the kings. Thirty-seven years
on that pillar, and the pilgrims kept on coming.

Good Saint Henry built a cabin, quaint little place
facing the water, tidy pine desk, and the best—
a sunny step for meditations. Maybe a little close
to town for his taste, but it gave him space to write
about his sweet dead brother John, and of course
the other book. Disciples came, still come.

The blessed bhikku Kerouac bought himself a pack
and thought he’d hitchhike his way to the holy.
He found he had to keep moving his brakeman’s boots.
Fast cars and freights. I hope he found the silence
he was looking for before he found the bottom
of the last bottle. The hipsters trace his exodus.

Our local Brother Martin, Trappist raconteur,
follows his ascetic way on Oregon’s fairest farm,
prays hard among the gardens and wine vats,
sleeps behind the stone wall, comes out each day
to guide the spiritual way of professional wives:
the celibate guru of the lovely and young.

The hermit’s burden? It’s a trick to be alone.
Once people figure out you’ve pulled it off,
they can’t seem to stay away. What’s to say?
Isolation is one hot topic for conversation—
but it’s more than nearly anyone can understand.
Most people want to learn about it second-hand.

~William Jolliff

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Deer

“A few weeks ago I was visiting at the home of a family which lives on a farm down the road from where we live. They had recently moved there from the city, and it was their first experience of living in the countryside. The father of the family and I were engaged in a heated theological debate, when the door flew open and his twelve year old son burst in, I should say floated in. The boy’s eyes were full of tears and his mouth was open wide, unable to speak for a few moments. We stared at him. His face was full of wonder and his arms raised in a gesture that bore a remarkable resemblance to the ancient orans position of prayer, a gesture that is a timeless one, a mute reaching for transcendence.

‘Oh papa,’ he whispered, ‘I have seen the most beautiful thing. I have seen a deer.’

It is impossible to convey the sense of awe with which he breathed this word. We stared at him, wondering what he meant. A deer? We have all seen deer. Then my neighbour and I looked at each other and understood that perhaps after all we had not ever really seen a deer. At least not in the way this child had just seen one. And later there came the revelation to both of us that we, with our prodigious intellects and our fiercely defended positions, often talk about things we have not really seen, or known, or loved well. We have pictures in our mind which form concepts and ideologies. We are clever, articulate impressionists, but we have not gazed into the liquid galaxies of a wild creature’s eyes as it gazed back equally uncomprehending upon us. We have not stroked the red velvet hide. We have not touched the bone antlers and felt them toss. We have not seen it leap as it bolted for the sanctuary of the trees.”
~Michael O’Brien (re-post)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Truth and Love

“Do not accept anything as truth that lacks love and do not accept anything as love which lacks truth. One without the other is a destructive lie.”
~St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Good and Evil Acts

“Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.”
~C. S. Lewis (from Mere Christianity)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Numbers 11:4b-15

The children of Israel lamented,
   “Would that we had meat for food!
We remember the fish we used to eat without cost in Egypt,
   and the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks,
   the onions, and the garlic.
But now we are famished;
   we see nothing before us but this manna.”

Manna was like coriander seed and had the color of resin.
When they had gone about and gathered it up,
   the people would grind it between millstones or pound it in a mortar,
   then cook it in a pot and make it into loaves,
   which tasted like cakes made with oil.
At night, when the dew fell upon the camp, the manna also fell.

When Moses heard the people, family after family,
   crying at the entrance of their tents,
   so that the LORD became very angry, he was grieved.
“Why do you treat your servant so badly?” Moses asked the Lord.
“Why are you so displeased with me
   that you burden me with all this people?
Was it I who conceived all this people?
Or was it I who gave them birth,
   that you tell me to carry them at my bosom,
   like a foster father carrying an infant,
   to the land you have promised under oath to their fathers?
Where can I get meat to give to all this people?
For they are crying to me,
   ‘Give us meat for our food.’
I cannot carry all this people by myself,
   for they are too heavy for me.
If this is the way you will deal with me,
   then please do me the favor of killing me at once,
   so that I need no longer face this distress.”

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Transfiguration

“In the gloom of fallen creation the Logos blazes celestial light. But the dark asserts itself; ‘. . . grasped it not . . .’ as John says in the opening of his Gospel. Thus Christ’s truth and love, which long for nothing but the freedom to spend themselves, are forced back into his heart—sorrow God alone can measure and comprehend. Here on the mountain though, for one moment, they break through in all their radiant clarity. This was the Light which had come into the world and was powerful enough to illuminate it completely. On the way to death the glory of what may be revealed only after death breaks out like a jet of flame, burning illustration of Christ’s own words on death and resurrection.

What is revealed here is not only the glory of pure, angelic spirit, but of the spirit through the body, glory of the spiritualized body of man. Not the glory of God alone, not a piece of disclosed heaven, not only the sheen of the Lord as it hovered over the ark of the covenant, but the glory of the God-Logos in the Son of Man. Life above life and death; life of the body, but issue of the spirit; life of the spirit, but issue of the Logos; life of the man Jesus, but issue of the Son of God.

The Transfiguration is the summer lightning of the coming Resurrection. Also of our own resurrection, for we too are to partake of that transfigured life. To be saved means to share in the life of Christ. We too shall rise again, and our bodies will be transformed by the spirit, which itself is transformed by God. In us mortals blissful immortality will once awaken; read the magnificent fifteenth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians.”
~Romano Guardini

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Children/Family

“When young people ask me how to change the world, I tell them to love each other, get married, stay faithful to one another, have lots of children, and raise those children to be men and women of Christian character. Faith is a seed. It doesn’t flower overnight. It takes time and love and effort.... The future belongs to people with children, not with things. Things rust and break. But every child is a universe of possibility that reaches into eternity, connecting our memories and our hopes in a sign of God’s love across the generations. That’s what matters.”
~Charles Chaput

Friday, August 4, 2017

See the Light

“I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up in the morning and see the light. Then I’m grateful.”
~Miles Davis

“All a musician can do is to get closer to the source.”
~John Coltrane

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Two Persons

“There are only two persons you can never, ever escape, not for one moment, either in time or in eternity: God and yourself.”
~Peter Kreeft

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Excerpt from A Grief Observed

Something quite unexpected has happened. It came this morning early. For various reasons, not in themselves at all mysterious, my heart was lighter than it had been for many weeks. For one thing, I suppose I am recovering physically from a good deal of mere exhaustion. And I’d had a very tiring but very healthy twelve hours the day before, and a sounder night’s sleep; and after ten days of low-hung grey skies and motionless warm dampness, the sun was shining and there was a light breeze. And suddenly at the very moment when, so far, I mourned H. least, I remembered her best. Indeed it was something (almost) better than memory; an instantaneous, unanswerable impression. To say it was like a meeting would be going too far. Yet there was that in it which tempts one to use those words. It was as if the lifting of the sorrow removed a barrier.

Why has no one told me these things? How easily I might have misjudged another man in the same situation? I might have said, ‘He’s got over it. He’s forgotten his wife,’ when the truth was, ‘He remembers her better because he has partly got over it.’

Such was the fact. And I believe I can make sense out of it. You can’t see anything properly while your eyes are blurred with tears. You can’t, in most things, get what you want if you want it too desperately: anyway, you can’t get the best out of it. ‘Now! Let’s have a real good talk’ reduces everyone to silence, ‘I must get a good sleep tonight’ ushers in hours of wakefulness. Delicious drinks are wasted on a really ravenous thirst. Is it similarly the very intensity of the longing that draws the iron curtain, that makes us feel we are staring into a vacuum when we think about our dead? ‘Them as asks’ (at any rate ‘as asks too importunately’) don’t get. Perhaps can’t.

And so, perhaps, with God. I have gradually been coming to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted. Was it my own frantic need that slammed it in my face? The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just the time when God can’t give it: you are like the drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear.
~C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Confidence in God, Not self

“Miserable the man who trusts to himself in the way of God. St. Peter experienced the sad effect of self-confidence. Jesus Christ said to him, ‘In this night, before cock-crow, thou wilt deny me thrice’ (Mat. 26: 34). Trusting in his own strength and in his good will, the Apostle replies: ‘Yea, though I should die with Thee, I will not deny Thee’ (26: 35). What was the result? On the night on which Jesus Christ had been taken, Peter was reproached in the court of Caiphas with being one of the disciples of the Savior. The reproach filled him with fear: he thrice denied his Master, and swore that he had never known Him. Humility and distrust in ourselves are so necessary for us, that God permits us sometimes to fall into sin, that, by our fall, we may acquire humility and a knowledge of our own weakness. Through want of humility, David also fell, hence, after his sin, he said, ‘Before I was humbled, I offended’ (Ps. 119:67).

Hence the Holy Ghost pronounces blessed the man who is always in fear: ‘Blessed is the man who is always fearful’ (Prov. 28:14). He who is afraid of falling, distrusts his own strength, avoids as much as possible all dangerous occasions, and recommends himself often to God, and thus preserves his soul from sin. But the man who is not fearful, but full of self-confidence, easily exposes himself to the danger of sin: he seldom recommends himself to God, and thus he falls. Let us imagine a person suspended over a great precipice by a cord held by another. Surely he would constantly cry out to the person who supports him: Hold fast, hold fast; for God's sake, do not let go.. We are all in danger of falling into the abyss of all crime, if God does not support us. Hence we should constantly beseech Him to keep His hands over us, and to help us in all dangers.

In rising from bed, St. Philip Neri used to say every morning, O Lord, keep Thy hand this day over Philip, if Thou do not, Philip will betray Thee. And one day, as he walked through the city, reflecting on his own misery, he frequently said, I despair, I despair. A certain religious who heard him, believing that the saint was really tempted to despair, corrected him, and encouraged him to hope in the divine mercy. But the saint replied, ‘I despair of myself, but I trust in God, hence, during this life which we are exposed to so many dangers of losing God, it is necessary for us to live always in great distrust in ourselves, and full of confidence in God.’”
~St. Alphonsus Liguori

Monday, July 31, 2017

from Sonnets for Michelangelo — 31

If this little music, stirring the frail air,
can gather up the spirit,
open it and melt it as it does —
If this mere breeze of sound, this mortal voice,
can lift the heart so,
heal it, startling thought and firing our resolve —
what will that heart do when,
before God in the first and ancient heaven,
it hears the music of all being?
When, struck by truth, it steps forth
in the great wind of that singing?

~Vittoria Colonna (translation by Jan Zwicky)

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Jesus, Lover Of My Soul

Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.

Wilt Thou not regard my call? Wilt Thou not accept my prayer?
Lo! I sink, I faint, I fall—Lo! on Thee I cast my care;
Reach me out Thy gracious hand! While I of Thy strength receive,
Hoping against hope I stand, dying, and behold, I live.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy Name, I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am; Thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart; rise to all eternity.

~Words: Charles Wesley & Music: Joseph Parry

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Given


(Picture found here)
We travelers, walking to the sun, can't see
Ahead, but looking back the very light
that blinded us shows us the way we came,
Along which blessings now appear, risen
As if from sightlessness to sight, and we,
By blessing brightly lit, keep going toward
That blessed light that yet to us is dark.

~Wendell Berry (Sabbaths 1999: VI)
   

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Knockdown Question

Why does God not spare the innocent?

The answer to that is not in
the same world as the question
so you would shrink from me
in terror if I could answer it.

~Les Murray

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Country Clergy

I see them working in old rectories
By the sun’s light, by candlelight,
Venerable men, their black cloth
A little dusty, a little green
With holy mildew. And yet their skulls,
Ripening over so many prayers,
Toppled into the same grave
With oafs and yokels. They left no books,
Memorial to their lonely thought
In grey parishes; rather they wrote
On men’s hearts and in their minds
Of young children sublime words
Too soon forgotten. God in his time
Or out of time will correct this.

~R. S. Thomas

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

After Psalm 137

We’re still in Babylon but
We do not weep
Why should we weep?
We have forgotten
How to weep

We’ve sold our harps
And bought ourselves machines
That do our singing for us
And who remembers now
The songs we sang in Zion?

We have got used to exile
We hardly notice
Our captivity
For some of us
There are such comforts here
Such luxuries

Even a guard
To keep the beggars
From annoying us

Jerusalem
We have forgotten you.

~Anne Porter

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Path Through


(Picture found here)
There is a place
where a stream flows
down through the heart of the Abbey.
To walk along paths of solitude
and breathe the air of silent men
whose prayers have touched the sky and earth,
whose hands have labored in quiet reverence
and whose hearts have felt true love
is but a small glimpse of heaven on earth.

There is a bridge
that passes over this stream.
Many men and women have crossed over.
Lost and found.
Looking for something
that can only be seen
through the path of the cross...
A footpath,
a river,
a sojourn of a heart’s surrender.

~Elsa (my wife)
  

Monday, July 24, 2017

Monastic Wisdom

“John the Short said, ‘I will invent a man composed of all the virtues. He would rise at dawn every morning, take up the beginning of each virtue, and keep God’s commandments. He would live in great patience, in fear, in long-suffering, in love of God; with a firm purpose of soul and body; in deep humility, in patience, in trouble of heart and earnestness of practice. He would pray often, with sorrow of heart, keeping his speech pure, his eyes controlled. He would suffer injury without anger, remaining peaceful and not rendering evil for evil, not looking out for the faults of others, nor puffing himself up, meekly subject to every creature, renouncing material property and everything of the flesh. He would live as though crucified, in struggle, in lowliness of spirit, in goodwill and spiritual abstinence, in fasting, in penitence, in weeping. He would fight against evil, be wise and discreet in judgment and chaste of mind. He would receive good treatment with tranquillity, working with his own hands, watching at night, enduring hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness and labor. He would live as though buried in a tomb and already dead, every day feeling death to be near him.’”
~Rowan Williams (from Where God Happens: Discovering Christ in One Another)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Entrance Antiphon

Ecce Deus adiuvat me, et Dominus susceptor est animae meae. Voluntarie sacrificabo tibi, et confitebor nomini tuo, Domine, quoniam bonum est.

See, I have God for my help.
   The Lord sustains my soul.
I will sacrifice to you with willing heart,
   and praise your name, O Lord, for it is good.

~Psalm 54: 6, 8

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Word

“...the word of God is a light to the mind and a fire to the will. It enables man to know God and to love him. And for the interior man who lives by the Spirit of God, through grace, it is bread and water, but a bread sweeter than honey and the honeycomb, a water better than wine and milk. For the soul it is a spiritual treasure of merits yielding an abundance of gold and precious stones. Against the hardness of a heart that persists in wrongdoing, it acts as a hammer. Against the world, the flesh and the devil it serves as a sword that destroys all sin.”
~St. Lawrence of Brindisi

Friday, July 21, 2017

Mercy

“Let there always be a preponderance of mercy with you, even though you don’t feel such mercy in yourself, as God has for the world ... A cruel and merciless heart is never purified.”
~St. Isaac the Syrian