Friday, November 24, 2017

A River

"What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn't have any doubt - it is sure to get where it is going, and it doesn't want to go anywhere else."
~Hal Boyle

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Sometimes It’s Easy to Know What I Want

On a road that cuts through the richest, non-irrigated land
in the nation, according to some Lancaster, PA, natives,

a minivan slowed, and a woman with a good haircut yelled,
Do you want a ride, or are you walking because you want to?

I didn’t reply because my life felt so wrecked—
no matter the reason, either you get this or you don’t—

wrecked in the way that makes gestures of tenderness
devastating, like the time I showed up in Minnesota, brittle

with sorrow, and the professor sent to fetch me
asked if I wanted heat in the seat of his sports car

or the local apple he’d brought in case I arrived hungry.
I didn’t know people make seats to hold a body in radiance

like the merciful hand of God. The apple was crisp and cold
and sweet. Maybe I looked in his eyes and shook his hand

in both of mine when I left, I don’t remember. Months later,
he sent an empty seed packet, torn open, lithographed

with a fat, yellow annual no one grows any more, flamboyant
as Depression-era glassware. That was all, thank you.

Thank you, oh thanks so much, I finally told the woman
framed by a minivan window, but yes, I do want to walk.

~Julia Spicher Kasdorf

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Creator Obeys A Carpenter

“The creator of the heavens obeys a carpenter; the God of eternal glory listens to a poor virgin. Has anyone ever witnessed anything comparable to this? Let the philosopher no longer disdain from listening to the common laborer; the wise, to the simple; the educated, to the illiterate; a child of a prince, to a peasant.”
~St. Anthony of Padua

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

El Train Magnificat

Just when I think I’ve entered my rest
the dull glare of the office two blocks behind me,
a woman under the Wells Street tracks
opens her arms and shouts, Lord, I thank you!
Her massive breasts quake in a gray T-shirt;
a sprig of hair trembles in a rubber band.
You made me! I’m here! I’m here!
The metallic rumble of the Green Line
can’t drown her voice. She swings her hips,
clapping to the rhythm. I cross through a line of taxis
to avoid her. Now she is turning in grand circles,
her face lifted toward the tracks.
Thank you, thank you, Lord of mine.
I hum to myself, count sidewalk squares, anything
to escape the eye of her swirl. I quicken my stride
around the corner of Madison, until her voice is nothing
but a drift in the storm of buses and horns.
Yet at night, in the cool hour of unrest,
I feel her words rumbling through me
in a constant loop—I thank you, Lord;
I thank you, Lord— sparks flickering along my bones,
singeing the edges of my silent life.

~Tania Runyan

Monday, November 20, 2017


In his prison letters, Bonhoeffer is thankful
for a hairbrush, for a pipe and tobacco,
for cigarettes and Schelling’s Morals Vol. II.
Thankful for stain remover, laxatives,
collar studs, bottled fruit and cooling salts.
For his Bible and hymns praising what is
fearful, which he sings, pacing in circles
for exercise, to his cell walls where he’s hung
a reproduction of Durer’s Apocalypse.
He’s thankful for letters from his parents
and friends that lead him back home,
and for the pain of memory’s arrival,
his orderly room of books and prints too far
from the nightly sobs of a prisoner
in the next cell whom Bonhoeffer does not know
how to comfort, though he believes religion
begins with a neighbor who is within reach.
He’s thankful for the few hours outside
in the prison yard, and for the half-strangled
laughter between inmates as they sit together
under a chestnut tree.  He’s thankful even
for a small ant hill, and for the ants that are
all purpose and clear decision.  For the two
lime trees that mumble audibly with the workings
of bees in June and especially for the warm
laying on of sun that tells him he’s a man
created of earth and not of air and thoughts.
He’s thankful for minutes when his reading
and writing fill up the emptiness of time,
and for those moments when he sees himself
as a small figure in a vast, unrolling scroll,
though mostly he looks out over the plains
of ignorance inside himself.  And for that,
too, he’s thankful: for the self who asks,
Who am I?—the man who steps cheerfully
from this cell and speaks easily to his jailers,
or the man who is restless and trembling
with anger and despair as cities burn and Jews
are herded into railroad cars—can
without an answer, say finally, I am thine,
to a God who lives each day,
as Bonhoeffer must, in the knowledge
of what has been done, is still being done,
his gift a refusal to leave his suffering, for which,
even as the rope is placed around his neck
and pulled tight, Bonhoeffer is utterly grateful.

~Robert Cording

Sunday, November 19, 2017


I praise you because
you are artist and scientist
in one. When I am somewhat
fearful of your power,
your ability to work miracles
with a set-square. I hear
you murmuring to yourself
in a notation Beethoven
dreamed of but never achieved.
You run off your scales of
rain water and sea water, play
the chords of the morning
and evening light, sculpture
with shadow, join together leaf
by leaf, when spring
comes, the stanzas of
an immense poem. You speak
all languages and none,
answering our most complex
prayers with the simplicity
of a flower, confronting
us, when we would domesticate you
to our uses, with the rioting
viruses under our lens.

~R. S. Thomas

Saturday, November 18, 2017

O Lord Our God, Who Made The Day

O Lord our God, who made the day
To gladden us with its fair light,
We praise your name, imploring aid,
For day will soon give place to night.

The evening shadows grow apace,
Advancing, they will hide the sun,
As darkness creeps upon the earth
When daylight hours their course have run.

We beg you, Lord and God Most High,
Protect us with your presence blessed,
Though weary, keep our souls in peace
And not by gloom of night oppressed.

Let not the setting sun go down
On hearts distressed with sin, and sore,
But sheltered by your gentle grace,
May we behold the day once more.

To you, O Christ, most kindly King,
And to the Father, glory be,
Praise to the Spirit Paraclete,
In ev’ry age, eternally. Amen.

Text: Deus, qui claro humine, Anonymous from the seventh or eighth century
Translation: the Benedictines of Saint Cecilia’s Abbey

Friday, November 17, 2017

How did they not more quickly find its Lord?

All men were by nature foolish who were in ignorance of God,
   and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing him who is,
   and from studying the works did not discern the artisan;
But either fire, or wind, or the swift air,
   or the circuit of the stars, or the mighty water,
   or the luminaries of heaven, the governors of the world, they considered gods.
Now if out of joy in their beauty they thought them gods,
   let them know how far more excellent is the Lord than these;
   for the original source of beauty fashioned them.
Or if they were struck by their might and energy,
   let them from these things realize how much more powerful is he who made them.
For from the greatness and the beauty of created things
   their original author, by analogy, is seen.
But yet, for these the blame is less;
For they indeed have gone astray perhaps,
   though they seek God and wish to find him.
For they search busily among his works,
   but are distracted by what they see, because the things seen are fair.
But again, not even these are pardonable.
For if they so far succeeded in knowledge
   that they could speculate about the world,
   how did they not more quickly find its Lord?
~Wisdom 13:1-9

Thursday, November 16, 2017


“This, in short, is the difference between us and others who know not God, that in misfortune they complain and murmur, while the adversity does not call us away from the truth of virtue and faith, but strengthens us by its suffering.”
~St. Cyprian

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


“I would like to know what actually goes on in a book as long as it’s closed.
. . . One has to read it to experience it, that’s clear. But it’s already there beforehand. I would like to know, how?”
~Michael Ende

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Jesus Was A Healer

Jesus was a healer
never turned a patient down

never charged coin or conversion
started off with dust and spittle

then re-tuned lives to pattern
simply by his attention

often surprised himself a little
by his unbounded ability

Jesus was a healer
reattached his captor’s ear

opened senses, unjammed cripples
sent pigs to drown delirium

cured a shy tug at his hem
learned to transmit resurrection

could have stood more Thank You
for God’s sake, which was his own

Jesus was a healer
keep this quiet, he would mutter

to his learners. Copy me
and they did to a degree

still depicted on church walls
cure without treatment or rehearsals.

~Les Murray

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sacred History

“The mystery of Christ is at work in all human events, and our comprehension of secular events works itself out and expresses itself in that sacred history, the history of salvation, which the Holy Spirit teaches us to perceive in events that appear to be purely secular.”
~Thomas Merton

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Jesu, My Lord, My God, My All

Jesu, my Lord, my God, my all,
hear me, blest Saviour, when I call;
hear me, and from thy dwelling-place
pour down the riches of thy grace:

Jesu, my Lord, I thee adore,
O make me love thee more and more.

Jesu, too late I thee have sought,
how can I love thee as I ought?
And how extol thy matchless fame,
the glorious beauty of thy name? [Refrain]

Jesu, what didst thou find in me,
that thou hast dealt so lovingly?
How great the joy that thou hast brought,
so far exceeding hope or thought! [Refrain]

Jesu, of thee shall be my song,
to thee my heart and soul belong;
all that I am or have is thine,
and thou, sweet Saviour, thou art mine. [Refrain]

Author: Henry Collins (1854)
Tune: ST. CHRYSOSTOM (Barnby)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Windy Autumn

(Picture by Remo Savisaar - found here)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Increase our Faith

“The intellect in its contemplation of the mysteries of divine life of the Blessed Trinity in Heaven or of the Incarnate Son of God on earth, even when elevated by the gift of faith, is prone to vitiate its considerations by the introduction into them of reasonings, judgments and appreciations, which are the fruit of its human spirit. In this sense faith must undergo a purification and its operations must have these corrupting elements eliminated from them if man is to know God as a friend knows his friend. The whole process of sanctity ... depends on this progressive elimination of the purely human elements from the operations of the virtue of Faith. In the case of Christians who take but little interest in the supernatural life, the faith contains a large alloy of the natural. They see God it is true, but they see Him badly. Their spiritual vision is defective. They suffer from a supernatural myopia. They resemble persons who, because of their defective eyesight, cannot see objects clearly in distinct outline and in all their detail—but only dimly, obscurely and in a confused and uncertain manner. As their misunderstanding of God depends on their spiritual sight of Him, they know Him very imperfectly and easily hold false notions concerning Him. That is the reason why so many who are said ‘to have the faith’ are so frequently without virtue. Their faith is very superficial; it takes but the feeblest share in the soul’s activity, which is dominated by human impulse, passions, and affections. In such souls the knowledge of God is darkened and dragged down to earth by the human considerations and views that mingle with and tarnish the purity of the knowledge of faith. As long as these conditions prevail, the soul’s activity will be largely human, unsupernatural and, to a great extent, uninfluenced by grace and withdrawn from the direction of the Holy Ghost. It is lamentable that so many baptized souls are thus neglectful of the gift of Faith which they possess and allow to remain latent—almost atrophied—for want of exercise. The claims of the visible world clamor powerfully in a too successful rivalry with the claims of ‘things unseen’; and yet, we know that the hidden world of the supernatural life is the world of Reality; and each baptized soul bears responsibility for the development of that supernatural life within. The Divine Virtue of Faith is exercised in prayer. Thus it is that prayer is an ideal means of developing faith and an ideal preparation of the soul for the reception, and increase, of that Divine gift.

‘And the Apostles said to the Lord: Increase our Faith.’ Our prayer of petition will be very perfect when it attains their earnestness and is directed towards the same thing for which they prayed with such longing and such childlike simplicity, namely, an increase of Faith. Such a prayer of petition is eminently pleasing to the Savior...”
~Edward Leen

Thursday, November 9, 2017


“Faith—what does it mean? You don’t see Christ or even feel him very much, but you carry on anyway, you still go forward. Is that faith? Or you notice that something is terribly wrong with the world and with your own life. But you go on anyway, even though something is wrong. Is that faith? I like the clear and objective definition of faith from my theological training, which takes St. Paul’s expression ‘the obedience of faith’ (Rom. 16:26) and explains it then as a submission of the intellect and will to God who reveals himself. This is an elegant proposal if given half a chance. It proposes a risk in unpopular words, especially in the word submission. Yet it remains my choice to submit or not, and it is a choice to conform my mind and heart to something bigger. That’s not a bad risk, not a stupid one. But how do I know what it is that God is revealing? Well, I find it in the witnesses, those who tell the story; and I put my trust in this. I put my trust in what the Bible tells. I try it out to see if it fits the world I experience. The content of the revelation is amazing. It is too good, and I am too small. I cannot come up to it. So, in the end my faith is the uttering of a question that is also the invocation of a name. Under my mood—God? Beneath my heart—God? After the reach of my eyes—God? Before or after the stars—God?”
~Jeremy Driscoll

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

On Earth As It Is In Heaven

Your kingdom come
Your will be done on earth
As it is in heaven. (Mt. 6:10)

“Two things are immediately clear from the words of this petition: God has a will with and for us and it must become the measure of our willing and being; and the essence of ‘heaven’ is that it is where God’s will is unnervingly done.

Or, to put it in somewhat different terms, where God’s will is done is heaven. The essence of heaven is oneness with God’s will, the oneness of will and truth.

Earth becomes ‘heaven’ when and insofar as God’s will is done there; and it is merely ‘earth’, the opposite of heaven, when and insofar as it withdraws from the will of God. This is why we pray that it may be done on earth as it is in heaven-that earth may become ‘heaven’.”
~Benedict XVI

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A Capacity For The Unlimited

“...In the beginning our vision of the supernatural is almost totally, though not quite, obscured by the presence of the natural. Our soul is enveloped in a mist. The process of self-renouncement is the gradual removal of this curtain of darkness, and as this process proceeds our intuition of the things of God becomes clearer. These are revealed to us in the humanity of Jesus Christ. True self-revelation has always as it counterpart a growth in knowledge of God. For it is only in the light of God that we see ourselves for what we are. ... Accordingly as the soul ceases to be ‘self-regarding’ in its activities, it becomes ‘God-regarding.’ As the soul is being emptied of what is material, transient and perishable, it is being filled with what is spiritual, enduring and incorruptible. The soul in itself is, as it were, a void—but an infinite one. It is a capacity for the unlimited. Its characteristic actuality is a yearning and a longing for satisfaction that nothing finite can gratify. Having no resources of its own on which to draw, it cannot find in itself what will supply its native nothingness. It is, therefore, obliged to reach out, to seize something external to itself, in order to satisfy its needs. It is an infinite potentiality.
...The capacity of the soul cannot be filled up except by what can be received into it; and, by sensible satisfaction, we can reach only the surface of any created thing.
...Nothing can fill up the infinite capacity in the human soul except what can physically enter into it and take possession of it—and this privilege belongs to the Creator alone, and to that participation of His life which is given in grace and in glory.
...‘But he that shall drink of the water that I will give him,’ says Our Lord, ‘shall not thirst for ever.’ It is true that the soul shall always feel a longing to enter more and more into the possession of God—or rather to be more and more possessed by God—and this longing is a kind of thirst. But still it is thirst that is being ever satisfied, and as such, is a pleasure rather than a pain.”
~Edward Leen

Monday, November 6, 2017

from On The Anvil – LVII

Adam in Eden, You in a garden;
He in all honour, You in your agony;
He sleeps and his company ill-watches;
You pray wide awake as yours slumbers.

His act was the first of disharmonies;
You composed our primordial day;
You drink the cup your Father sends;
He eats defiance and lives as dead.

The sweat of his brow is his sustenance;
That of yours is our glory:
The guilt was his, the affront yours.

He bequeathed horror; You leave us a memory;
His, a blind deceit; yours, a prime bargain.
How different the story you leave us!

~Francisco de Quevedo (Translated by Michael Smith)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

O Christ Our King, Supreme In Power

O Christ our King, supreme in power,
The Father’s glory and delight,
Our fallen nature you restored,
By dying you defeated death.

You bore our sorrows and our griefs,
And sought a sterner conflict yet,
By death you crushed the serpent’s head
Who conquered us and caused our death.

In triumph risen from the tomb
You bring your people back to life
Through your great Paschal mystery,
We who were dead and lost by sin.

Increase in us the life of grace
That when as Bridegroom you return,
With lamps well trimmed we be prepared
To follow you at once with joy.

Receive us as a judge serene
Into the realms of peace and light,
Whom faith and love have bound to you,
Adoring your great Trinity.

Your servants who have left this world
With soul from body now set free,
Call swiftly to our Father’s home
To praise you for eternity. Amen.

Text: Spes, Immensae Rex potentiae
Translation: the Benedictines of Saint Cecilia’s Abbey

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Real Literature

“Real literature is something much better than a harmless instrument for getting through idle hours. The purpose of great literature is to help us to develop into full human beings.”
~Russell Kirk

Friday, November 3, 2017

Bright Sadness

(found here)
“Eastern Orthodoxy has, almost from the beginning, had the clearest aesthetic of all of Christianity about religious art, whether the art be in stone or paint or music or words. The Orthodox Church teaches its artist/believers that holy art must always be informed by and saturated with a certain and ‘bright sadness.’ Divine art must always be pervaded by a sweet mixture—deep, compassionate sorrow for the sin and sorrows of this present life commingled with a luminous joy over the promised salvation and relief, which are promised by the one who can never promise in vain.”
~Phyllis Tickle

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Human Condition

“The loss of the religious understanding of the human condition—that Man is a fallen creature for whom virtue is necessary but never fully attainable—is a loss, not a gain, in true sophistication. The secular substitute—the belief in the perfection of life on earth by the endless extension of a choice of pleasures—is not merely callow by comparison but much less realistic in its understanding of human nature.”
~Theodore Dalrymple

“Our body has this defect that, the more it is provided care and comforts, the more needs and desires it finds.”
~St. Teresa of Avila

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

How to Fly

Commenting on Christ’s words “My yoke is easy and my burden light,” St. Augustine said:
“Any other burden oppresses and crushes you, but Christ’s actually takes weight off you. Any other burden weighs you down, but Christ’s gives you wings.

If you take a bird’s wings away, you might seem to be taking weight off it. But the more weight you take off, the more you tie it down to the earth. There it is on the ground, and you wanted to relieve it of a weight.

Give it back the weight of its wings and you will see how it flies.”

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

J. B. Phillips and the ghost of Lewis

“...C. S. Lewis had some fascinating thoughts on this, and he himself appeared in one of the most celebrated and redemptive recorded ghost sightings ever: Moments after his death at Cambridge, he appeared in the bedroom of J. B. Phillips at Oxford [a dear friend of his, the one who translated the Bible in the Phillips translation...].

At the time, J. B. Phillips was in a deep depression that threatened his life. He refused to leave his chambers, refused proper food or exercise, and seriously questioned the love and election of God [in his life]. It was in this state of detachment and depression, leading to his early death…that suddenly, a ruddy and glowing Lewis stood before him, entering his room through closed doors -- a ‘healthy Lewis, hearty and glowing’ as Phillips was later to record.

In this vision, Lewis only spoke only one sentence to Phillips: ‘J.B., it’s not as hard as you think.’ One solitary sentence, the meaning of which is debated! But what is not debated is the effect of that sentence. It snapped Phillips out of his depression, and set him again following God. After Lewis spoke that cryptic sentence, he disappeared.

Phillips came out of his chambers only to find that Lewis had died moments before the appearance, miles away. He pondered this in his heart, with wonder, and never returned to his depression. Now, was this a case of God giving a detour of a soul on the way to heaven to a special friend, to save him? Who knows? But again, it is recorded evidence of the highest order, by persons of the highest order: Lewis and Phillips. It is a ghost story, a benevolent one, to all appearances – actually, not only benevolent, but redemptive...

Again, we must allow for the freedom of God. This is His world, after all. He set up the physical and moral laws, and yet rules over these sovereignly, in love. What is needed for His children, He spares no expense.”
~Loy Mershimer

Monday, October 30, 2017

Imagination, Beauty, Glory

“Christian church has often been bad at encouraging imagination. People have been worried, Christian teachers have been worried, about letting people imagine things, in case their imagination runs riot and they start imagining the wrong things, and so we’ve squelched it and squashed it and we’ve built buildings that are inherently ugly, lest anyone think that the buildings are somehow divine. And we’ve done all kinds of things, even in our worship, to prevent the glory getting out.”
~N. T. Wright

“Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do…Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion…To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain…The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”
~G. K. Chesterton

“Theology, therefore, must be concerned much less with showing man that Christ offers him what he wants and much more concerned with showing man that he cannot help but worship the splendor of what he sees.”
~Jeffrey Kay

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Romans 6:19-23

19 I am speaking in the language of common life, because nature is still strong in you. Just as you once made over your natural powers as slaves to impurity and wickedness, till all was wickedness, you must now make over your natural powers as slaves to right-doing, till all is sanctified.
20 At the time when you were the slaves of sin, right-doing had no claim upon you.
21 And what harvest were you then reaping, from acts which now make you blush? Their reward is death.
22 Now that you are free from the claims of sin, and have become God’s slaves instead, you have a harvest in your sanctification, and your reward is eternal life.
23 Sin offers death, for wages; God offers us eternal life as a free gift, through Christ Jesus our Lord. (KNOX)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Art of Disappearing

(Picture found here)
When they say Don’t I know you?
say no.

When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering.
Someone is telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.

If they say We should get together
say why?

It’s not that you don’t love them anymore.
You’re trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven’t seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don’t start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.

~Naomi Shihab Nye

Friday, October 27, 2017

A Mind and Will to Understand

The Pharisees study the scriptures whose fulfillment is right before their eyes, but they cannot see in him the messiah. They “are those who in God’s presence still cling to their earthly point of view, their earthly knowledge, earthly conception of justice, naively attempting to measure even the divine by their own standards. When the Son of God himself stands before them, they see only a rebel and proceed against all who believe in him with the heavy indignation of the righteous. And when the long awaited Christ performs his miracles before their eyes, they either refuse to see them or brand them works of Satan! Because they do not wish to see, demonstrations of God’s power and love only seem to make them incapable of seeing. They become increasingly short-sighted and ultimately blind.”
~Romano Guardini

Come, Holy Spirit, Divine Creator,
true source of light and fountain of wisdom!
Pour forth your brilliance upon my dense intellect,
dissipate the darkness which covers me,
that of sin and of ignorance.
Grant me a penetrating mind to understand,
a retentive memory,
method and ease in learning,
the lucidity to comprehend,
and abundant grace in expressing myself.
Guide the beginning of my work,
direct its progress,
and bring it to successful completion.
This I ask through Jesus Christ,
true God and true man,
living and reigning with You
and the Father, forever and ever. Amen.
~St. Thomas Aquinas

Thursday, October 26, 2017

from Diary of an Old Soul

Thy great deliverance is a greater thing
Than purest imagination can foregrasp;
A thing beyond all conscious hungering,
Beyond all hope that makes the poet sing.
It takes the clinging world, undoes its clasp,
Floats it afar upon a mighty sea,
And leaves us quiet with love and liberty and thee.
~George MacDonald