Friday, December 31, 2010

Keep Going!

“Keep going! Don’t look back! Look ahead and trust God, but don’t trust the next year will be wonderful. Rather, be convinced that God will go with you. Christ will walk with anyone who invites Him along. The Lord is my shepherd. Why should I be afraid? I don’t expect everything to be wonderful next year; in fact, one of these years will be my last one on earth. I don’t expect blue skies every day; that would mean a drought. But I do know that I will not be alone, because the lips of the Man who was born in Bethlehem would say as He left this world thirty years later: ‘I will be with you always even to the end of the world’ (Mt 28:20).

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, as I end another year and prepare for the next one, make me ever more aware of Your presence. Help me to rest in Your presence even more than I have in the past. Help me spread the knowledge, the fragrance of Your presence wherever I go. Let more and more people know that You are with them, even in these anxious times. May this year, more than any previous one, be spent in Your presence. Amen.”
~Benedict Groeschel

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Filled with the Love of God

“You must not love this passing world
or anything that is in the world.
The love of the Father cannot be
in any man who loves the world,
because nothing the world has to offer
– the sensual body,
the lustful eye,
pride in possessions –
could ever come from the Father
but only from the world;
and the world, with all it craves for,
is coming to an end;
but anyone who does the will of God
remains forever.”
~I John 2:15-17

“And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of Him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.”
~Luke 2:36-38

May our hearts be so filled with the love of God that there is no room left for the world…

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

“O Key of David and Scepter of the house of Israel…
O Rising Dawn, Radiance of the Light eternal and Sun of Justice…
O King of the Gentiles and the Desired of all…
O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of nations and their Savior…
Come, and save us, O Lord our God!

Tonight will be a night of mysterious gifts, much more mysterious than the toys found under the Christmas tree in the early morning. Tonight He comes to remind us that every day, every hour He is here for us, saying, ‘Come to Me.’”
~Benedict Groeschel

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Proclaim the Greatness of the Lord

“Blessed are you who have believed, because what has been promised to you by the Lord will be fulfilled.” And Mary said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.”
Luke 1:45-46

“You too, my people, are blessed, you who have heard and who believe. Every soul that believes — that soul both conceives and gives birth to the Word of God and recognises His works.

Let the soul of Mary be in each one of you, to proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Let the spirit of Mary be in each one of you, to rejoice in God. According to the flesh only one woman can be the mother of Christ but in the world of faith Christ is the fruit of all of us. For every soul can receive the Word of God if only it is pure and preserves itself in chastity and modesty.”
~St. Ambrose

Sunday, December 19, 2010

All Are Made New

“Advent pulls us back from the emptiness that haunts this world. During these final days before Christmas, the stories of our ancestors in the faith are retold. Their words bring hope like light in the darkness; absence gives way to comforting presence. Guardians are watching over us. No one is driven out. All are called to become part of the Kingdom of God. In Jesus, all are made new.”
~Jerome Machar

“He does not just care for us, but loves us with no limits, a flaring unquenchable holy love, and a truly unbreakable strong love.”
~St. John Chrysostom

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Prince of Peace

“The Lord is coming… to bring peace and eternal life”
~Anthem for 3rd week of Advent

“And this righteousness will bring peace.
Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever.”
~Isaiah 32:17

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.”
~John 14:27

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Welcome Him

"In Advent, Christ says: 'Follow me.' But He also says: 'I am rescuing you.' We respond: 'When will You come, Lord?' and He answers: 'I am here if you welcome Me.'"
~Benedict Groeschel

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In the Bleak Mid-Winter

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him,
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign;
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty
Jesus Christ.

~Christina Rossetti
(excerpt from: In the Bleak Mid-Winter)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Lowly Stable

"Lord Jesus, open my eyes that I may see You hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, and imprisoned, that I may come to You with a generous helping hand. Let me know the joy of giving that I may become always more generous and escape from my own selfishness. Help me to find You, as the shepherds did, in the lowly stable. Amen."
~Benedict Groeschel

As Henri Nouwen said concerning compassion, "to not reach down from our high position to pull up those less fortunate but to go and make our home with them. For we have a God who did not pull us up but came and made His home with us."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

From the Canticle of Zechariah

“In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
~Luke 1:78-79

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Story

“And we find that we cannot read very far in the Story [Scripture] without admitting that it is indeed the story of our life. On page after page we find that we are deprived of the luxury of thinking, ‘Aha! Look at the trouble Adam and Eve, or Cain, got themselves into. I would never do that.’

Alack. It is not a matter of whether or not I would: I have. A thousand times I have murdered my brother. Perhaps not with a rock in a field. But by a small remark in someone’s ear, or the lift of an eyebrow, that has for its effect some diminishing of my brother in someone’s estimation. Or by a snide or cutting or discourteous remark to my brother himself.

Somehow, oddly, the Story seems to be piercing right to the marrow; and then I remember a memory verse from my childhood… ‘For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder… of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart’ (Heb 4:12).”
~Thomas Howard

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Image of Christ

“Nothing can make you such an imitator of Christ as your concern for others. Although you fast, although you sleep on the floor, even though, I dare to say, you kill yourself, if you are not attentive to your neighbor, you have done very little; you are very far from being an image of Christ.”
~St. John Chrysostom

Monday, December 6, 2010

Come, Lord Jesus!

“Any serious person looking back thoughtfully on a few decades of life will realize that even with the best of teachers and guides we have been blind to many truths, or at least to their meaning. This is why we read the Scriptures and especially the Gospels over and over again. As our eyes open to the truth, we learn more and more each time we read them.

…This is because the eyes of the mind and the ears of the heart are being opened and cleared in the process of growing in the grace of Christ. His light and word never change, but we change and grow in our ability to see and hear Him.

This is why the Christian life, when properly understood, can never be boring. Boredom is a clear symptom that we are not growing, that we have lost the meaning of these words: ‘Behold, I make all things new’ (Rv 21:5). The reasons for our blindness, deafness, and boredom are not difficult to discern. We are entranced by the sight of what is vain and passing, and captured by sounds that mean little or nothing.

Even in the most passing things we can find God’s words, but only if we look and listen. Our desires and our hearts are impure: we want God, but we want many other things besides. It could be so easy to escape this emptiness, to find God in all that we see, hear, and experience. The Imitation of Christ tells us that if our hearts are pure, every creature will be for us a mirror of God and a book of holy teaching.

Why, then, don’t we change? Because we cannot change, we cannot escape our blindness and deafness until we are healed by Jesus Christ. ‘Lord, that I may see,’ said the blind beggar of Jericho. Advent is a time to begin again, to appreciate, to value above all other things the coming of Him who is the light of the world for blind eyes and the Word of God for deaf ears. Come, Lord Jesus!”
~Benedict Groeschel

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Who Shall Come

Who shall come in the fullness of time to
gladden the hearts of men?
Who shall bring new joy to the world
and the poor and lonely defend?
Who shall come on a cold winter’s night,
when the world is hushed and still?
Only the silent stars keep watch as a
promise is fulfilled.
Just as a Child newly born He shall come
to a stable rough with sod.
‘Tis gentle Jesus, Prince of Peace, the
blessed Son of God!

We await Him with reverent hearts,
O come Lord Jesus, come!
~Mary Caldwell

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Eternally Grateful

“Without His [Christ] coming, the only greatness of our race would have been the magnitude of its catastrophe.”
~Benedict Groeschel

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Strangers & Sojourners

"He was empty, and he was full. He was alone. Yes, he was alone among men. He was an alien, a stranger and sojourner like all is fathers before him. He knew now the anguish of exiles, the depth of their loneliness. And he saw that this was a gift, for it was the state of pilgrims journeying toward their own true home."
~Michael O’Brien

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Of The Father’s Love Begotten

Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see, evermore and evermore!

O that birth forever blessèd, when the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving, bare the Savior of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face, evermore and evermore!

This is He Whom seers in old time chanted of with one accord;
Whom the voices of the prophets promised in their faithful word;
Now He shines, the long expected,
Let creation praise its Lord, evermore and evermore!

O ye heights of heaven adore Him; angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him, and extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing, evermore and evermore!

Thee let old men, thee let young men, thee let boys in chorus sing;
Matrons, virgins, little maidens, with glad voices answering:
Let their guileless songs re-echo,
And the heart its music bring, evermore and evermore!

Christ, to Thee with God the Father, and, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving, and unwearied praises be:
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory, evermore and evermore!

~Words: Aurelius Prudentius & Music: C. Winfred Douglas

Friday, November 26, 2010

The First Morning

"The most wonderful moment of the day is that when creation in its innocence asks permission to 'be' once again, as it did on the frist morning that ever was."
~Thomas Merton

Thursday, November 25, 2010

His Mercy, Our Thanks

"We live and move and have our being in God, as indeed the whole Creation does. The whole universe depends on His mercy, and we humans appear to have been assigned the special task of articulating in behalf of all mortal creatures what the rest of them cannot put into words: supplication, thanks, adoration."
~Thomas Howard

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Poem: Thanksgiving Day

Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of Harvest - come!
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin;
God, our Maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied;
Come to God's own temple, come;
Raise the song of Harvest-home!

What is earth but God's own field,
Fruit unto his praise to yield?
Wheat and tares therein are sown,
Unto joy or sorrow grown;
Ripening with a wondrous power,
Till the final Harvest-hour;
Grant, O Lord of life, that we
Holy grain and pure may be.

Come, then, Lord of Mercy, come,
Bid us sing the Harvest-home!
Let thy saints be gathered in!
Free from sorrow, free from sin;
All upon the golden floor
Praising thee forevermore;
Come, with thousand angels, come;
Bid us sing thy Harvest-home.

~Text by Henry Alford, 1810-1871

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Eyes on Christ

O dying souls behold your living spring;
O dazzled eyes, behold your sun of grace;
Dull ears, attend what word this Word doth bring;
Up, heavy hearts, with joy your Joy embrace.
From death, from dark, from deafness, from despairs,
This life, this light, this Word, this joy repairs.
~Robert Southwell

Monday, November 22, 2010

Spirit and Flesh

“Other religions have their ways of coping with the division [division between spirit and flesh]. Most of them, one way or another, set the unseen realm over against the seen and end up denigrating the latter. For them, release, or salvation, comes when we are set free from the prison of this flesh and fly away into the Aether, or the Oversoul, or the All.

Christianity, on the other hand, throws up roadblocks to any such itinerary. It is heavy with physical, and even clinical, details. For thousands of years of human history, according to Christianity, the way was prepared for our salvation, not by the Lord God’s weaning men away from their physical life and teaching them to be spiritual, as the Buddha and Plato and other sages have urged. Rather, the way He laid out was crowded with altars of stone, and bloody pelts, and entrails and great haunches of lamb and beef, and gold and incense and fine-twined linen, and immense gold bulls holding up the brazen sea in the Temple. Doves, heifers, bullocks, rams—it was very crowded.

But that was all primitive. Surely something spiritual would emerge from those elementary lessons. Surely thoughtful men might anticipate the day when all of this would be put behind and be replaced with elevated thoughts and spirituality.

Indeed it was all put behind. There came an end to those gory altars and all that slaughter. But it was not a tissue of elevated thoughts that replaced them. Rather, an angel appeared to a woman and said, ‘Hail!’ What we now had, far from the summons away from the physical realm that highminded men might have wished, was gynecology, obstetrics, and a birth. Whatever we may imagine about the spiritual rhapsody that might have attended this angelic visitation to the Virgin, the one thing we know to have occurred was a conception. The Virgins womb teemed.

It was embarrassing to the religious mind. It proved a scandal. The whole ensuing story bothered and even enraged religious men, and it has continued to do so. Christian history is littered not only with the bones of martyrs who have died at the hands of enemies who hated this story but also with the confused and heretical attempts of Christians themselves to skirt it. Seizing on Saint Paul’s vocabulary and wrenching it about, they have tried to pit the spiritual against the physical and have tried to make Christianity like Buddhism, a religion that summons us away from earthly, earthy life.”
~Thomas Howard

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Early Christian Hymn

O God, we praise Thee, and acknowledge Thee to be the supreme Lord.
Everlasting Father, all the earth worships Thee.
All the Angels, the heavens and all angelic powers,
All the Cherubim and Seraphim, continuously cry to Thee:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy glory.
The glorious choir of the Apostles,
The wonderful company of Prophets,
The white-robed army of Martyrs, praise Thee.
Holy Church throughout the world acknowledges Thee:
The Father of infinite Majesty;
Thy adorable, true and only Son;
Also the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
O Christ, Thou art the King of glory!
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When Thou tookest it upon Thyself to deliver man,
Thou didst not disdain the Virgin's womb.
Having overcome the sting of death, Thou opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all
believers.
Thou sitest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
We believe that Thou willst come to be our Judge.
We, therefore, beg Thee to help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy
Precious Blood.
Let them be numbered with Thy Saints in everlasting glory.

Save Thy people, O Lord, and bless Thy inheritance!
Govern them, and raise them up forever.

Every day we thank Thee.
And we praise Thy Name forever, yes, forever and ever.

O Lord, deign to keep us from sin this day.
Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.

Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in Thee.
O Lord, in Thee I have put my trust; let me never be put to shame.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Creation

“The Creation rushes from His superabundant freedom and love and cries out in exultation to Him. No least thing is silent. The timid and beady eye of the fieldmouse, the fife of the winter wren, the bubbling of water falling over rocks or boiling in a kettle, roars of laughter from a room full of friends, the murmur of a loved one’s voice: what does it all say but ‘Hosanna!’”
~Thomas Howard

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Travelling

“A much travelled man knows many things,
and a man of great experience will talk sound sense.
Someone who has never had his trials knows little;
but the travelled man is master of every situation.
I have seen many things on my travels,
I have understood more than I can put into words.
I have often been in danger of death,
but I have been spared, and this is why:
the spirit of those who fear the Lord can survive,
for their hope is in someone with power to save them.
The man who fears the Lord will not be faint-hearted,
will not be daunted since the Lord is his hope.
Happy the soul of the man who fears the Lord.
On whom does he rely? Who supports him?
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who love Him,
He is their powerful protection and their strong support,
their screen from the desert wind, their shelter from the midday sun,
a guard against stumbling, an assurance against a fall.
He revives the spirit and brightens the eyes,
He gives healing, life and blessing.”
~Ben Sira

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Behold, Your King

Behold, your king is coming to you, the Holy One, the Savior

“Let us say to Christ: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel. Let us hold before him like palm branches those final words inscribed above the cross. Let us show him honour, not with olive branches but with the splendour of merciful deeds to one another. Let us spread the thoughts and desires of our hearts under his feet like garments, so that entering us with the whole of his being, he may draw the whole of our being into himself and place the whole of his in us. Let us say to Zion in the words of the prophet: Have courage, daughter of Zion, do not be afraid. Behold, your king comes to you, humble and mounted on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.
~St. Andrew of Crete

Monday, November 15, 2010

Always Endless

Augustine tells of a vision of seeing a little boy at a beach scooping up the ocean thimbleful by thimbleful and emptying it out on the sand. Then he sees an angel who tells him that this boy will have emptied out the entire ocean long before Augustine has exhausted what can be said about God.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Come, Thou Almighty King

Come, Thou almighty King,
Help us Thy Name to sing, help us to praise!
Father all glorious, o’er all victorious,
Come and reign over us, Ancient of Days!

Come, Thou incarnate Word,
Gird on Thy mighty sword, our prayer attend!
Come, and Thy people bless, and give Thy Word success,
Spirit of holiness, on us descend!

Come, holy Comforter,
Thy sacred witness bear in this glad hour.
Thou who almighty art, now rule in every heart,
And ne’er from us depart, Spirit of power!

To Thee, great One in Three,
Eternal praises be, hence, evermore.
Thy sovereign majesty may we in glory see,
And to eternity love and adore!

Words: Either Anonymous or Charles Wesley & Music: Felice de Giardini

Friday, November 12, 2010

Autumn

“A few days ago I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves with each step I made. The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air.”
~Eric Sloane

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Proverb

Keep your heart with all vigilance; for from it flow the springs of life.
~Proverbs 4:23

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What Wondrous Love Is This?

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.

To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing.
To God and to the Lamb Who is the great “I Am”;
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing;
While millions join the theme, I will sing.

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on.
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on.

~Words: Alexander Means & Music: William Walker

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Give Me Grace

Jesus Christ said, When ye stand praying, forgive, if you have ought against any.
O God, give me grace now so to do.

Jesus Christ said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
O God, give me grace to-day to think, not of what I can get, but of what I can give.

Jesus Christ said, When thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.
O God, grant that what I give may be given without self-congratulation, and without thought of praise or reward.

Jesus Christ said, Enter ye in at the strait gate.
O God, give me grace this day to keep to the narrow path of duty and honourable dealing.

Jesus Christ said, Judge not.
O God, give me grace this day first to cast out the beam out of my own eye, before I regard the mote that is in my brother’s eye.

Jesus Christ said, What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
O God, give me grace so to live this day that, whatever else I lose, I may not lose my soul.
~John Baillie

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What the LORD Asks

What is good has been explained to you, man; this is what the LORD asks of you: only this, to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God.
~Micah 6:8

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Blessed Are They That Dwell In Thy House

“[Samuel’s] mother had ‘given him unto the Lord all the days of his life,’ [1 Sam. i. 11.] by a solemn vow before his birth; and in him, if in any one, were fulfilled the words of the Psalmist, "Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house, they will be always praising Thee." [Ps. lxxxiv. 4.]

Such a constant abode in God's house would make common minds only familiar with holy things, and irreverent; but where God's grace is present in the heart, the effect is the reverse; which we might be sure would happen in the case of Samuel. ‘The Lord was with him,’ we are told; and therefore the more the outward signs of that Lord met his eye, the more reverent he became, not the more presuming. The more he acquainted himself with God, the greater would be his awe and holy fear.”
~John Henry Newman

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thoughts on TV, Advertising, Worship...

“…Besides extensively depriving our culture of exposition, television’s nature also intensifies the appeal to emotions. Its images distort watchers’ ability to reason and justify choices. Earlier advertisements laid out facts so that buyers could make decisions on the basis of qualities in what was being sold, but by the turn of the century ‘advertising became one part depth psychology, one part aesthetic theory,’ and reason had to move elsewhere. Thus television ushered in a major revision in methods. Indeed, an ad:

‘is not at all about the character of products to be consumed. It is about the character of the consumers of products. Images of movie stars and famous athletes, of serene lakes and macho fishing trips, of elegant dinners and romantic interludes, of happy families packing their station wagons for picnic in the country—these tell nothing about the products being sold. But they tell everything about the fears, fancies and dreams of those who might buy them. What the advertiser needs to know is not what is right about the product but what is wrong about the buyer. And so, the balance of business expenditures shifts from product research to market research. The television commercial has oriented business away from making products of value and toward making consumers feel valuable, which means that the business of business has now become pseudo-therapy. The consumer is a patient assured by psycho-dramas.’

Church leaders must see how dangerous such a method is, lest we be tempted to let worship also be ‘market driven.’ We permit that to happen when we study what the consumers/worship participants fancy more than we study what is right with God! Then worship, too, becomes pseudo-therapy and not the healing revelation of God.”
~Marva Dawn & Neil Postman

Monday, November 1, 2010

Jesus, Plant And Root In Me

I found this hymn typed out in the back of one of my grandmother’s old Bibles.

Jesus, plant and root in me
All the mind that was in Thee;
Settled peace I then shall find;
Jesus’ is a quiet mind.

Anger I no more shall feel,
Always even, always still;
Meekly on my God reclined;
Jesus’ is a gentle mind.

I shall suffer and fulfill
All my Father’s gracious will;
Be in all alike resigned;
Jesus’ is a patient mind.

When ’tis deeply rooted here,
Perfect love shall cast out fear;
Fear doth servile spirits bind;
Jesus’ is a noble mind.

I shall nothing know beside
Jesus, and Him crucified:
Perfectly to Him be joined;
Jesus’ is a loving mind.

I shall triumph evermore;
Gratefully my God adore;
God so good, so true, so kind;
Jesus’ is a thankful mind.

Lowly, loving, meek, and pure,
I shall to the end endure;
Be no more to sin inclined;
Jesus’ is a constant mind.

I shall fully be restored
To the image of my Lord,
Witnessing to all mankind,
Jesus’ is a perfect mind.

~Charles Wesley

Friday, October 29, 2010

Morality

We cannot kindle when we will
The fire which in the heart resides;
The spirit bloweth and is still,
In mystery our soul abides.
But tasks in hours of insight will'd
Can be through hours of gloom fulfill'd.

With aching hands and bleeding feet
We dig and heap, lay stone on stone;
We bear the burden and the heat
Of the long day, and wish 'twere done.
Not till the hours of light return,
All we have built do we discern.

Then, when the clouds are off the soul,
When thou dost bask in Nature's eye,
Ask, how she view'd thy self-control,
Thy struggling, task'd morality--
Nature, whose free, light, cheerful air,
Oft made thee, in thy gloom, despair.

And she, whose censure thou dost dread,
Whose eye thou wast afraid to seek,
See, on her face a glow is spread,
A strong emotion on her cheek!
'Ah, child!' she cries, 'that strife divine,
Whence was it, for it is not mine?

'There is no effort on my brow--
I do not strive, I do not weep;
I rush with the swift spheres and glow
In joy, and when I will, I sleep.
Yet that severe, that earnest air,
I saw, I felt it once--but where?

'I knew not yet the gauge of time,
Nor wore the manacles of space;
I felt it in some other clime,
I saw it in some other place.
'Twas when the heavenly house I trod,
And lay upon the breast of God.'
~Matthew Arnold

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hunger and Thirst for God’s Righteousness

“Saint Augustine, in one of his sermons, invents a wonderful device, a kind of psychodrama, to test ourselves. Imagine God coming to you and offering you the following bargain: God offers to give you everything you can imagine in this world and the next as well. Nothing shall be impossible to you and nothing shall be forbidden. There will be no sin, no guilt. Anything you imagine can be yours. There is only one thing you will have to give up: you shall never see my face, says God.

Now if you do not love God above all things, why was there that terrible chill in your heart when you heard those last words? If you would not accept this bargain, look what you just did: you gave up the whole world for God.

But, you may object, this does not test whether my basic desire is to give or to get, just whether I want to get the world or to get God. Not so, for no one can get God. Union with the world can be by getting, by having, by possession. But union with God can be only by giving yourself to God, by God’s getting you. So if you want God, you want to give yourself to God. God has already given himself to you, by the unthinkable generosity of Creation, Incarnation, and Redemption. The only open question is whether you give yourself in return, whether you hunger to be possessed.

Those of us who do not, who are satisfied with ninety years of riches and comfort, are doomed, like Dives. How blessed is Lazarus by contrast! How blessed is poverty, suffering, and anything that destroys the most deadly thing in the world, the quiet drift to Hell! Dissatisfaction is the second best thing there is, because it dissolves the glue that entraps us to false satisfactions, and drives us to God, the only true satisfaction. The road home is the next best thing to home. God is home and dissatisfaction is the road, hunger and thirst for God is the road. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
~Peter Kreeft

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Number 500

The blog site is telling me that this is post number 500. I had no idea this would go on so long. It has been a great way to journal. It might even be the case that a few others are getting something out of it? I just hope that God has been honored…

Here is a nice, short, practical, and profound quote:

“A good upbringing means not that you won't spill sauce on the tablecloth, but that you won't notice it when someone else does.”
~Anton Chekhov

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Endurance of the World's Censure (Part 3 of 3)

“Lastly; I am quite sure that none of us, even the best, have resisted the world as we ought to have done. Our faces have not been like flints; we have been afraid of men's words, and dismayed at their looks, and we have yielded to them at times against our better judgment. We have fancied, forsooth, the world could do us some harm while we kept to the commandments of God. Let us search our consciences; let us look back on our past lives. Let us try to purify and cleanse our hearts in God's sight. Let us try to live more like Christians, more like children of God. Let us earnestly beg of God to teach us more simply and clearly what our duty is. Let us beg of Him to give us the heart to love Him, and true repentance for what is past. Let us beg Him to teach us how to confess Him before men; lest if we deny Him now, He may deny us before the Angels of God hereafter.”
~John Henry Newman

Monday, October 25, 2010

Endurance of the World's Censure (Part 2 of 3)

“Secondly, I would say, recollect you cannot do any one thing of all the duties I have been speaking of, without God's help. Any one who attempts to resist the world, or to do other good things by his own strength, will be sure to fall. We can do good things, but it is when God gives us power to do them. Therefore we must pray to Him for the power. When we are brought into temptation of any kind, we should lift up our hearts to God. We should say to Him, ‘Good Lord, deliver us.’ Our Lord, when He was going away, promised to His disciples a Comforter instead of Himself; that was God the Holy Ghost, who is still among us (though we see Him not), as Christ was with the Apostles. He has come in order to enlighten us, to guide us in the right way, and in the end to bring us to Christ in heaven. And He came down, as His name ‘Comforter’ shows, especially to stand by, and comfort, and strengthen those who are in any trouble, particularly trouble from irreligious men. The disciples, when Christ went, had to go through much trouble, and therefore He comforted them by the coming of the Holy and Eternal Spirit, the Third Person in the Blessed Trinity. ‘These things I have spoken unto you,’ He says, ‘that in Me ye might have peace; in the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ [John xvi. 33.] When, then, religious persons are in low spirits, or are any way grieved at the difficulties which the world puts in their way, when they earnestly desire to do their duty, yet feel how weak they are, let them recollect that they are ‘not their own,’ but ‘bought with a price,’ and the dwelling-places and temples of the All-gracious Spirit.”
~John Henry Newman

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Endurance of the World's Censure (Part 1 of 3)

Part one of three from the conclusion of a sermon:

“Do not be too eager to suppose you are ill-treated for your religion's sake. Make as light of matters as you can. And beware of being severe on those who lead careless lives, or whom you think or know to be ill-treating you. Do not dwell on such matters. Turn your mind away from them. Avoid all gloominess. Be kind and gentle to those who are perverse, and you will very often, please God, gain them over. You should pray for those who lead careless lives, and especially if they are unkind to you. Who knows but God may hear your prayers, and turn their hearts, and bring them over to you? Do every thing for them but imitate them and yield to them. This is the true Christian spirit, to be meek and gentle under ill-usage, cheerful under slander, forgiving towards enemies, and silent in the midst of angry tongues.”
~John Henry Newman

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Jesus, As Thou Wilt

My Jesus, as Thou wilt! Oh, may Thy will be mine!
Into Thy hand of love I would my all resign;
Through sorrow, or through joy, conduct me as Thine own,
And help me still to say, my Lord, Thy will be done!

My Jesus, as Thou wilt! If needy here and poor,
Give me Thy people’s bread, their portion rich and sure.
The manna of Thy Word Let my soul feed upon;
And if all else should fail, my Lord, Thy will be done.

My Jesus, as Thou wilt! Though seen through many a tear,
Let not my star of hope grow dim or disappear;
Since Thou on earth hast wept, and sorrowed oft alone,
If I must weep with Thee, my Lord, Thy will be done!

My Jesus, as Thou wilt! All shall be well for me;
Each changing future scene I gladly trust with Thee:
Straight to my home above I travel calmly on,
And sing, in life or death, my Lord, Thy will be done!

Words: Benjamin Schmolck & Music: Carl von Weber

Friday, October 22, 2010

Endless Life

“I thank Thee, O Lord, that Thou hast so set eternity within my heart that no earthly thing can ever satisfy me wholly. I thank Thee that every present joy is so mixed with sadness and unrest as to lead my mind upwards to the contemplation of a more perfect blessedness. And above all I thank Thee for the sure hope and promise of an endless life which Thou hast given me in the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.”
~John Baillie

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Reverential Worship

The following sermon excerpt was written sometime between 1843-1869. Is it too much to write that many (maybe even most?) churches in America today would have a hard time understanding the “norm” that used to be in place related to the necessity of reverential worship? I am very sad about this matter and pray for God’s mercy because I think we need it now more than ever.

“Indeed so natural is the connexion between a reverential spirit in worshipping God, and faith in God, that the wonder only is, how any one can for a moment imagine he has faith in God, and yet allow himself to be irreverent towards Him. To believe in God, is to believe the being and presence of One who is All-holy, and All-powerful, and All-gracious; how can a man really believe thus of Him, and yet make free with Him? It is almost a contradiction in terms. Hence even heathen religions have ever considered faith and reverence identical. To believe, and not to revere, to worship familiarly, and at one's ease, is an anomaly and a prodigy unknown even to false religions, to say nothing of the true one...

...Every one ought to come into Church as the Publican did, to say in his heart, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to enter this sacred place; my only plea for coming is the merits of Jesus Christ my Saviour.’ When, then, a man enters Church, as many do, carelessly and familiarly, thinking of himself, not of God, sits down coldly and at his ease, either does not say a prayer at all, or merely hides his face for form's sake, sitting all the while, not standing or kneeling; then looks about to see who is in the Church, and who is not, and makes himself easy and comfortable in his seat, and uses the kneeler for no other purpose than to put his feet upon; in short, comes to Church as a place, not of meeting God and His holy Angels, but of seeing what is to be seen with the bodily eyes, and hearing what is to be heard with the bodily ears, and then goes and gives his judgment about the sermon freely, and says, ‘I do not like this or that,’ or ‘This is a good argument, but that is a bad one,’ or ‘I do not like this person so much as that,’ and so on; I mean when a man acts in all respects as if he was at home, and not in God's House,—all I can say is, that he ventures to do in God's presence what neither Cherubim nor Seraphim venture to do, for they veil their faces, and, as if not daring to address God, praise Him to each other, in few words, and those continually repeated, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth.”
~John Henry Newman

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Receive & Possess All

“O my God, since Thou art with me, and I must now, in obedience to Thy commands, apply my mind to these outward things, grant me the grace to continue in Thy Presence; and prosper me with Thy assistance. Receive all my works, and possess all my affections.”
~Brother Lawrence

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Blessed Are They...

“Blessed are they who give the flower of their days, and their strength of soul and body to Him; blessed are they who ...turn to Him who gave His life for them, and would fain give it to them and implant it in them, that they may live for ever. Blessed are they who resolve—come good, come evil, come sunshine, come tempest, come honour, come dishonour—that He shall be their Lord and Master, their King and God! They will come to a perfect end, and to peace at the last. They will, with Jacob, confess Him, ere they die, as ‘the God that fed them all their life long unto that day, the Angel which redeemed them from all evil;’ [Gen. 48:15-16.] with Moses, that ‘as is their day, so shall their strength be;’ [Deut. 33:25.] and with David, that in ‘the valley of the shadow of death, they fear no evil, for He is with them, and that His rod and His staff comfort them;’ [Psalm 23:4.] for ‘when they pass through the waters He will be with them, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow them; when they walk through the fire, they shall not be burnt, neither shall the flame kindle upon them, for He is the Lord their God, the Holy One of Israel, their Saviour. [Isaiah 43:2-3.]’”
~John Henry Newman

Sunday, October 10, 2010

God of Grace and God of Glory

God of grace and God of glory,
On Thy people pour Thy power.
Crown Thine ancient church’s story,
Bring her bud to glorious flower.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the facing of this hour,
For the facing of this hour.

Lo! the hosts of evil ’round us,
Scorn Thy Christ, assail His ways.
From the fears that long have bound us,
Free our hearts to faith and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the living of these days,
For the living of these days.

Cure Thy children’s warring madness,
Bend our pride to Thy control.
Shame our wanton selfish gladness,
Rich in things and poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Lest we miss Thy kingdom’s goal,
Lest we miss Thy kingdom’s goal.

Set our feet on lofty places,
Gird our lives that they may be,
Armored with all Christ-like graces,
In the fight to set men free.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
That we fail not man nor Thee,
That we fail not man nor Thee.

Save us from weak resignation,
To the evils we deplore.
Let the search for Thy salvation,
Be our glory evermore.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Serving Thee Whom we adore,
Serving Thee Whom we adore.

Words: Harry Fosdick & Music: John Hughes

Friday, October 8, 2010

Have or Have Not

“He who has God has everything; he who has everything but God has nothing; he who has God plus everything else does not have any more than he who has God alone.”
~St. Augustine

“Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.”
See: http://apaththrough.blogspot.com/2010/08/like-river-glorious.html

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Christ's Peace

“Christ made peace. His methods were not military or even political, though many expected the Messiah to be a new Saul, David, or Solomon. Similarly, many today expect the gospel to be identified with some social gospel or some political system, with the Left or the Right, with some liberation from social structures of the opposite stripe, which is confused with liberation from sin. It is the same kind of confusion Jesus’ disciples continually made when they expected Jesus to fit into their expectations and their categories.

How did Christ make peace? He whipped the moneychangers, as a father would whip a thief who entered his house, for it was his Father’s house. But he did not allow his disciples to use the sword as a policy, publicly, even to defend the most worthy cause and the most innocent Person who ever existed. In the Garden of Gethsemane, he commanded Peter to put up his sword and reminded him that those who live by the sword perish by the sword. Thus the most just war ever fought, in defense of the most just, most worthy, most innocent Man and cause, was also the shortest. Jesus stopped it almost before it started, apparently allowing it to start only to give his disciples and us an object lesson about his methods for ending it. After stopping the war, he healed its lone casualty, Malchus, whose ear had been cut off. Then, having made peace in this local and physical war, he went on to make peace in the universal spiritual war, the war between man and God, on Calvary.

There too he did not use force but made peace in the most surprising way, by dying. He drained away war down himself, like a sinkhole, or a blotter. He made peace by making himself the universal victim, by suffering all the violence, war, aggression, hate, and harm that the father of lies and of violence could fling at him, by doing nothing in return, by being meek as the slaughtered sheep. He was ‘the meek’ who ‘shall inherit the earth’. By his meekness he won the world and the authority to give its rule over to his disciples when the time is ripe.”
~Peter Kreeft

Monday, October 4, 2010

Righteous Anger

“He who is not angry when he has cause to be, sins. For unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices.”
~St. John Chrysostom

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
~Edmund Burke

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rely On What No One Can Take Away

“What is the virtue of a horse? Is it to have a bridle studded with gold and straps to match, and a silk band to fasten the housing, and colorful clothes embroidered with gold thread, and headgear studded with jewels, and hair braided with gold cord? Or is it to be swift and strong in its legs, even in its paces, and to have hooves that fit a well-bred horse, and courage for long journeys and warfare, and to be calm on the battlefield, and to save its rider if there is a rout? Isn’t it obvious that these are the things that make the virtue of the horse, and not the others?

And what kind of vine should we admire? One that’s covered with leaves and branches, or one loaded down with fruit? Or what kind of virtue belongs to an olive tree? Is it to have big branches and lots of leaves, or is it to have an abundance of its own fruit all over the tree?

Well, let’s look at human beings the same way. What is the virtue of a man? Not riches, so that you fear poverty. Not bodily health, so that you are afraid to get sick. Not public opinion, so that you fear a bad reputation. Not life just for its own sake, so that death is terrible to you. Not freedom, so that you avoid servitude.

No, the virtue of a man is carefulness in holding true doctrine, and righteous living. Not even the devil himself can take these things away from you if you have them, as long as you take the necessary care to guard them.”
~St. John Chrysostom (347-407)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Morality

“Moral law is natural, says St. Basil (330-379). No one needs to teach it to us; we already know what’s right and wrong. When we violate the basic principles of morality, we not only go against God, we go against the nature He created in us.”
~Mike Aquilina


“We shall not be able to say in self-justification that we have learned useful knowledge in books, since the untaught law of nature makes us choose that which is advantageous to us.

Do you know what good you ought to do your neighbor? The good that you expect from him yourself. Do you know what is evil? That which you would not wish another to do to you. Neither botanical researches nor the experience of plants have made animals discover those which are useful to them; but each knows naturally what is healthy and marvelously takes for its own what suits its nature.

Virtues exist in us also by nature, and the soul has affinity with them not by education, but by nature herself. We do not need lessons to hate illness, but by ourselves we reject what afflicts us. The soul has no need of a teacher to teach us to avoid vice. Thus temperance is praised everywhere, justice is honored, courage admired, and prudence the object of all aims—virtues that concern the soul more than health concerns the body.

Children, love your parents, and you, parents, ‘do not provoke your children to anger’ (Ephesians 6:4). Does not nature say the same? Paul teaches us nothing new; he only tightens the links of nature. If the lioness loves her cubs, if the she-wolf fights to defend her little ones, what shall we humans say when we are unfaithful to the precept and violate nature herself; or the son who insults the old age of his father; or the father whose second marriage has made him forget his first children?”
~St. Basil

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

By the Waters of Luxury

By the waters of luxury
We sat and tried to sing again
Hung our harps on the traffic signs
Because the music would not come

In our capital captivity
Heated and cooled by central air
In an alien land that we made for ourselves
We tried to remember home

Did we really forget so soon
We were strangers in a foreign land
Sent as insurgents by the Prince of Peace
To work for Kingdom come

Were we seduced by the enemy
And taught to play in the oppressor’s band
And did the wrangling and the jangling drowned
The sound of the songs of home

Come you rich, now come and play
With a hallelujah, amen
Bellies full, now come and pray
With a hallelujah, amen

Wealth is yours to have and hold
With a hallelujah, amen
Bow before your cross of gold
With a hallelujah, amen

Jesus loves me this I know
With a hallelujah, amen
Middleclass bankbook tells me so
With a hallelujah, amen

Faith begets prosperity
With a hallelujah, amen
Have a little bit left for charity
With a hallelujah, amen

By the waters of luxury
We sat and tried to sing again
Hung our harps on the traffic signs
Because the music would not come

In our capital captivity
Heated and cooled by central air
In an alien land that we made for ourselves
We all but forgot our home…

~Ken Medema


'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.

~Joseph Brackett, Jr.

Monday, September 27, 2010

More on Suffering...

“Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint on broken glass.”
~Anton Chekhov

“The man who has not suffered—what can he know, anyway?”
~Abraham Heschel

“…though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”
~Hebrews 5:8

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Psalm 117

O praise the Lord, all you nations,
acclaim Him, all you peoples!

Strong is His love for us;
He is faithful forever.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Lord of Eternity

Blessed is the man
Who walks in Your favor
Who loves all Your words
And hides them like treasure
In the darkest place
Of his desperate heart,
They are a light
A strong, sure light.

Sometimes I call out Your name
But I cannot find You.
I look for Your face,
But You are not there.
By my sorrows, Lord,
Lift me to You,
Lift me up to Your side.

Chorus
Lord of Eternity,
Father of mercy,
Look on my fainting soul.
Keeper of all the stars,
Friend of the poorest heart
Touch me and make me whole.

If You are my defender,
Who is against me?
No one can trouble or harm me
If You are my strength.
All I ask, all I desire
Is to live in Your house all my days.

~Fernando Ortega

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Die to Self

“We are all required as a condition of our very salvation to die to our self-will and to grow into the pattern of Christ, who said he came ‘not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me’. To die to self-will and self-interest is to suffer. Old Adam screams in our ear, ‘Don’t let that One get too close; he wants to kill me!’ And Old Adam is right.

Some of us are called to endure special sufferings for Christ, persecutions… All of us are required to be ready and willing to endure persecution for Christ; but even those who are not persecuted must suffer the death of self for Christ, or else Christ cannot be born in them. If Adam will not die in us, then Advent will have happened only once: in the world, long ago, and not in our souls. God will come and miraculously pitch his tent in our souls only if the soul is like Mary, ready to say, ‘Let it be done to me according to your word.’”
~Peter Kreeft

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sustaining Grace

Taught by our Lord, we will not pray
Out of the world to be removed,
But keep us, in our evil day,
Till patient faith is fully proved.

From sin, the world, and Satan’s snare
The members of thy Son defend,
Till all thy character we bear,
And grace matured in glory end.
~Charles Wesley

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Never Drift

“Persevere and stand firm on the solid base of the faith. Never let yourselves drift away from the hope promised by the Good News, which you have heard, which has been preached to every created thing under Heaven.”
~Colossians 1:23

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Buried Treasure

...What is the force that binds the stars
I wore this mask to hide my scars
What is the power that pulls the tide
I never could find a place to hide

What moves the earth around the sun
What could I do but run and run and run
Afraid to love, afraid to fail
A mast without a sail

The moon's a fingernail and slowly sinking
Another day begins and now I'm thinking
That this indifference was my invention
When everything I did sought your attention

You were my compass star
You were my measure
You were a pirate's map
A buried treasure

If this was all correct
The last thing I'd expect
The prosecution rests
It's time that I confess: I must have loved you

~Gordon Sumner

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wanting God

A hermit was meditating by a river when a young man interrupted him. "Master, I wish to become your disciple," said the man. "Why?" replied the hermit. The young man thought for a moment. "Because I want to find God."

The master jumped up, grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, dragged him into the river, and plunged his head under water. After holding him there for a minute, with him kicking and struggling to free himself, the master finally pulled him up out of the river. The young man coughed up water and gasped to get his breath. When he eventually quieted down, the master spoke. "Tell me, what did you want most of all when you were under water."

"Air!" answered the man.

"Very well," said the master. "Go home and come back to me when you want God as much as you just wanted air."
~Unknown

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lamb of God

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’”
~John 1:29

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Faith (cont.)

“Faith... is a divine operation wrought in the dark, even though it may seem to be embodied in intellectual arguments and historical facts; for it is necessary to remember that two equally sincere and intelligent souls may encounter the same external evidences and draw mutually exclusive conclusions from them. The real heart of the matter lies somewhere else...

...therefore, [we] must remember that while on the one side [we] must of course clear the ground by the action of the intellect, on the other side it is far more vital that [we] should pray, purify motives, and yield [ourselves] to God.”
~Robert Hugh Benson

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Faith

“Faith... is a divine operation wrought in the dark, even though it may seem to be embodied in intellectual arguments and historical facts; for it is necessary to remember that two equally sincere and intelligent souls may encounter the same external evidences and draw mutually exclusive conclusions from them. The real heart of the matter lies somewhere else...”
~Robert Hugh Benson

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

More on Sanctity

“...homage to sanctity is an unconscious avowal of our hearts, which are made, not for the half-hearted faith of an anaemic religion, but for a total, absolute self-surrender, an all-sacrificing love of God. Desire for perfection is instinctive in human souls. It is found in the hearts of those in whom hatred of suffering attempts to stifle that craving. The great obstacle to the extension of the reign of Christ is the want of energy among innumerable semi-Christians who, by their emasculated form of religion, give an incomplete idea of the religion of Christ. Christianity in all its beauty, its splendor, its sacrifices, is the only religion that conquers. We must judge it by its fruits, by the lives of those who conform to its Gospel. Many would be saved, when on the verge of apostasy, if they judged thus.”
~Henri-Paul Bergeron

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Rest In Your Soul

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
Yes, our God is merciful.
The LORD preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.

~Psalm 116:5-7

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Enter In

“The more lucidly we think, the more we are cut off: the more deeply we enter into reality, the less we can think.”
~C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

His Ways

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
~Isaiah 55:8-9

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
As a father pities his children,
So the LORD pities those who fear Him.
For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.
~Psalm 103:11-14

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sanctity

“...sanctity does not come all of a sudden...
...In the spiritual as in the natural order, beings grow by dint of self-denial, by the death of the seed that gave them birth, by assiduous care, by abundance of water and light; they never spring forth spontaneously.”
~Henri-Paul Bergeron

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Adversity

“Do with your adversities as the merchant does with his merchandise: Make a profit on ever item. Don't allow the loss of the tiniest fragment of the true cross. It may only be the sting of a horsefly or the prick of a pin that annoys you; it may be a neighbor's little eccentricities, some unintended slight, the insignificant loss of a penny, some small restlessness of a soul, a light pain in your limbs. Make a profit on every item as the grocer does, and you'll soon be wealthy in God.”
~St. Louis de Montfort

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Character

“Nothing shows a man's character more than what he laughs at.”
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

His Steadfast Love

This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I will hope in Him!”

~Lamentations 3:21-24

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bear No Malice

“Bear no malice or evil will to any man living. For either the man is good or wicked. If he is good and I hate him, then I am wicked. If he is wicked, either he will amend and die good and go to God, or live wickedly and die wicked and go to the devil. And then let me remember that if he be saved, he will not fail (if I am saved too as I trust to be) to love me very heartily, and I shall then in like manner love him. And why should I be now, then, an enemy to him with whom I shall in time be coupled in eternal friendship? And on the other side, if he will continue to be wicked and be damned, then there is such outrageous eternal sorrow before him that I may very well think myself a deadly cruel wretch if I would not now rather pity his pain than malign his person.”
~St. Thomas More

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Origins of the Spirituals

“...Most of the time they [Spirituals] had their start in the fervent heat of a backwoods religious meeting. Slaves gathered secretly to encourage one another and to cry out to God for freedom. This activity was against the law, and they knew that a severe beating or even death could face them if they were caught. But the joy and peace that they received from heaven in these meetings made it worth the risk they faced here on earth. The atmosphere in midst of the woods was always charged with emotion. As they mourned their wretched existence, songs would develop spontaneously -- psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. In time, these melodies were memorized and passed along from plantation to plantation.

...‘No, no, no!’ their black preachers told them, ’you are not slaves, you are the apple of God's eye, made in His very own image.’ They learned that it was through a good and benevolent God, who heard the cry of the Hebrew slaves, that freedom came. They realized that they were not inferior to the white man, just as the Hebrews were not inferior to the Egyptians.

The spirituals attested to this and proclaimed the goodness of this God and His ultimate triumph over evil. They would taste freedom, they believed, across the Jordan River of death - and some sweet day in the here and now. Looking forward to that day of freedom, the slaves sang of the ‘Deep River,’ with its mighty waters flowing into distant horizons. As the embers glowed in the fire, in the heart of the forest they would sing:

Deep river -- my home is over Jordan,
Deep river, Lord, I want to cross over into campground.
Oh, don't you want to go to that Gospel feast,
That promised land where all is peace?
Walk into heaven, and take a seat,
And cast my crown at Jesus feet.
Deep river, Lord, I want to cross over into campground.”

~Article by Craig von Buseck

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Litany of Resignation to the Will of God

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Jesus, hear us.
Jesus, graciously hear us.
God the Father, Who hath created me,
Hallowed be Thy will.
God the Son, Who hath redeemed me,
Not my will but Thine be done.
God the Holy Ghost, Who hath offered sanctification,
Blessed be the Most Sweet Will of God.

Thou Who dost know and foresee all things,
Have mercy on us.
Thou Who dost govern and rule all things,
Have mercy on us.
Thou Who, according to Thy inscrutable designs,
dost effect all things in a wonderful manner,
Have mercy on us.
Thou Who dost permit evil in order thence to derive
good for the salvation of the elect,
Have mercy on us.

In all things and in all possible events,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.
In all circumstances and disgraces,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.
In my state and employment,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.
In my affairs and occupations,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.
In all my actions,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.
In my health and strength,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.
In my body and soul,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.
In my life and death,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.
In myself and in those who belong to me,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.
In all men and angels,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.
In all creatures,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.
In all parts of the earth,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.
At all times,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.
For all eternity,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.
Although weak nature complains,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.
Although it costs much to self-love and sensuality,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.
Solely and only through love for Thee and Thy good pleasure,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.
Because Thou art my Creator ,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.
Because Thou art the Supreme Lord of all things,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.
Because Thou art infinite perfection, therefore do I say,
with all the Saints in Heaven,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.
With the Blessed Virgin Mary,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.
With Jesus in the Garden of Olives,
Thy Holy Will be done, O my God.

Pray the Lord’s Prayer.

May the just, most amiable will of God be done in all things.
May it be praised and magnified forever! Amen.

Grant me Thy grace, O Father, that perfect resignation to Thy Holy Will may be with me, and labor with me, and continue with me to the end. Grant me always to desire and will that which is most acceptable to Thee and which pleaseth Thee best. Let Thy will be mine, and let my will always follow Thine and agree perfectly with it. Let me always will and not will the same with Thee; let me not be able to will or not will anything except what Thou willest or willest not. Amen.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fun Quote & Joke

I sometimes get accused of being too serious. So, here is a fun quote and a joke...

“These are my principles; if you don’t like them, I have others.”
~Groucho Marx

Seamus was about to go on his first date, so he asked his brother, the ladies’ man, for advice. “Give me some tips on how to talk to them.”
“Here’s the secret,” said his brother. “Irish girls like to talk about three things: food, family, and philosophy. If you ask a girl what she likes to eat, it shows you’re interested in her. If you ask her about her family, it shows your intentions are honorable. If you discuss philosophy, it shows you respect her intelligence.”
“Gee, thanks,” said Seamus. “Food, family, philosophy. I can handle that.”
That night as he met the young lady, Seamus blurted out,
“Do you like cabbage?”
“Uh, no,” said the puzzled girl.
“Do you have a brother?” asked Seamus.
“No.”
“Well, if you had a brother, would he like cabbage?”
~Unknown

Well, you can’t say that I didn’t try... Back to the serious stuff tomorrow...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Daily Routine

“Ironically, it seems that it is by the means of seemingly perfunctory daily rituals and routines that we enhance the personal relationships that nourish and sustain us. I read recently, in Martin Marty’s newsletter, ‘Context,’ of a study that monitored the habits of married couples in order to determine what made for good marriages. The researchers found that only one activity seemed to make a consistent difference, in terms of the ability to maintain a stable, happy, long-lasting relationship, and that was simple affection, the embracing or kissing of one’s spouse at the beginning and the end of each workday.

Most significantly, as Paul Bosch, the author of the article reports, ‘it didn’t seem to matter whether or not in that moment the partners were fully ‘engaged’ or even sincere! Just a perfunctory peck on the cheek seemed to be enough—enough to make a difference in the quality of the relationship!’ Bosch comments, wisely, that this ‘should not surprise churchgoers. Whatever you do repeatedly,’ he writes, ‘has the power to shape you, has the power to make you over into a different person—even if you’re not totally ‘engaged’ in every minute!’

…I wonder if we might substitute that ‘peck on the cheek’ for some of the prayers that a religious community recites daily…
No human being can pay full attention to the words that he or she is praying every single day, and apparently this is how God would have it. Sometimes, particularly at crisis points in our lives, we feel these words with our whole heart. They seem to burn in our chests, and bring tears to our eyes. We find that we mean them in ways that remain unfathomable, and on rare occasions a new interpretation of a line or image will come to us…

…It is a paradox of human life that in worship, as in human love, it is in the routine and the everyday that we find the possibilities for the greatest transformation.”
~Kathleen Norris

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Silence

“When you feel the assaults of passion and anger, then is the time to be silent as Jesus was silent in the midst of His ignominies and sufferings.”
~St. Paul of the Cross

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Like A River Glorious

Like a river glorious, is God’s perfect peace,
Over all victorious, in its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth, fuller every day,
Perfect, yet it groweth, deeper all the way.

Refrain
Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,
Never foe can follow, never traitor stand;
Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.

Refrain

Every joy or trial falleth from above,
Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love;
We may trust Him fully all for us to do.
They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.

Refrain

~Words: Frances Havergal & Music: James Mountain

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fairy Tales

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
~Albert Einstein

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Peace

“Peace, says Augustine, is not merely the absence of war. Peace is positive. It is rest in our end. After the stone falls, it is at peace. After the acorn grows into the oak tree, it is at peace in its treehood and does not grow any further. After the animal’s hunger is sated with food, it is at peace. And the human heart? Because ‘Thou hast made us for Thyself’, therefore ‘our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.’ For man peace is another word for God.”
~Peter Kreeft

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Happy The Home When God Is There

Happy the home when God is there,
And love fills every breast;
When one their wish, and one their prayer,
And one their heav’nly rest.

Happy the home where Jesus’ Name
Is sweet to every ear;
Where children early speak His fame,
And parents hold Him dear.

Happy the home where prayer is heard,
And praise each day does rise;
Where parents love the sacred Word
And all its wisdom prize.

Lord, let us in our homes agree
This blessèd peace to gain;
Unite our hearts in love to Thee,
And love to all will reign.

~Words: Hen­ry Ware, Jr. & Music: John B. Dykes

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Justice vs. Mercy

“We need to stop complaining about bad things happening to good people, about injustice. There are no ‘good people’, and the best of us say so the most clearly. Saints agree they are sinners; only sinners think they are saints. Only fools demand justice; for where would we be if we got it? No, mercy is our only hope from God, and our neighbors’ only hope from us as well.”
~Peter Kreeft

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I Will Bless My God

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
~Psalm 63:1-4

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Remembrance of Past Mercies

“...Let us thankfully commemorate the many mercies He has vouchsafed to us in time past, the many sins He has not remembered, the many dangers He has averted, the many prayers He has answered, the many mistakes He has corrected, the many warnings, the many lessons, the much light, the abounding comfort which He has from time to time given. Let us dwell upon times and seasons, times of trouble, times of joy, times of trial, times of refreshment. How did He cherish us as children! How did He guide us in that dangerous time when the mind began to think for itself, and the heart to open to the world! How did He with his sweet discipline restrain our passions, mortify our hopes, calm our fears, enliven our heavinesses, sweeten our desolateness, and strengthen our infirmities! How did He gently guide us towards the strait gate! How did He allure us along His everlasting way, in spite of its strictness, in spite of its loneliness, in spite of the dim twilight in which it lay! He has been all things to us. He has been, as He was to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our God, our shield, and great reward, promising and performing, day by day. ‘Hitherto hath He helped us.’ ‘He hath been mindful of us, and He will bless us.’ He has not made us for nought; He has brought us thus far, in order to bring us further, in order to bring us on to the end. He will never leave us nor forsake us; so that we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my Helper; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.’ We may ‘cast all our care upon Him, who careth for us.’ What is it to us how our future path lies, if it be but His path? What is it to us whither it leads us, so that in the end it leads to Him?...”
~John Henry Newman

Friday, August 6, 2010

Living as in the Presence of God

“…Though He [Christ] had still submitted Himself by an incomprehensible condescension to the death on the cross at length, yet why did He from the first so spurn this world, when He was not atoning for its sins? He might at least have had the blessedness of brethren who believed in Him; He might have been happy and revered at home; He might have had honour in His own country; He might have submitted but at last to what He chose from the first; He might have delayed His voluntary sufferings till that hour when His Father's and His own will made Him the sacrifice for sin.

But He did otherwise; and thus He becomes a lesson to us who are His disciples. He, who was so separate from the world, so present with the Father even in the days of His flesh, calls upon us, His brethren, as we are in Him and He in the Father, to show that we really are what we have been made, by renouncing the world while in the world, and living as in the presence of God.”
~John Henry Newman

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hid In Him

“He [Christ] came into the world, and He speedily left the world; as if to teach us how little He Himself, how little we His followers, have to do with the world. He, the Eternal Ever-living Word of God, did not outlive Methuselah's years, nay, did not even exhaust the common age of man; but He came and He went, before men knew that He had come, like the lightning shining from one side of heaven unto the other, as being the beginning of a new and invisible creation, and having no part in the old Adam. He was in the world, but not of the world; and while He was here, He, the Son of man, was still in heaven: and as well might fire feed upon water, or the wind be subjected to man's bidding, as the Only-begotten Son really be portion and member of that perishable system in which He condescended to move. He could not rest or tarry upon earth; He did but do His work in it; He could but come and go.

And while He was here, since He could not acquiesce or pleasure Himself in the earth, so He would none of its vaunted goods. When He humbled himself unto His own sinful creation, He would not let that creation minister to Him of its best, as if disdaining to receive offering or tribute from a fallen world. It is only nature regenerate which may venture to serve the Holy One. He would not accept lodging or entertainment, acknowledgment, or blandishment, from the kingdom of darkness. He would not be made a king; He would not be called, Good Master; He would not accept where He might lay His head. His life lay not in man's breath, or man's smile; it was hid in Him from whom He came and to whom He returned.

‘The Light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.’”
~John Henry Newman

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Lead Me To Calvary

King of my life, I crown Thee now,
Thine shall the glory be;
Lest I forget Thy thorn crowned brow,
Lead me to Calvary.

Refrain

Lest I forget Gethsemane,
Lest I forget Thine agony;
Lest I forget Thy love for me,
Lead me to Calvary.

Show me the tomb where Thou wast laid,
Tenderly mourned and wept;
Angels in robes of light arrayed
Guarded Thee whilst Thou slept.

Refrain

Let me like Mary, through the gloom,
Come with a gift to Thee;
Show to me now the empty tomb,
Lead me to Calvary.

Refrain

May I be willing, Lord, to bear
Daily my cross for Thee;
Even Thy cup of grief to share,
Thou hast borne all for me.

Refrain

~Words: Jennie Hussey & Music: William Kirkpatrick

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Envy

“…There is another distinctively modern form of envy, which is collective rather than individual. It is our secular society’s unconscious envy of Eden, of Paradise, of divine perfection. It is our attempt to sneak under the seraphim’s flaming sword back into Eden by making a Heaven on earth, by rebuilding the Tower of Babel, by finding salvation and happiness in the City of the World rather than in the City of God.

Nietzsche revealed the psychological origin of this demand when he wrote, ‘A man can endure almost any how if only he has a why.’ He meant that we can endure very imperfect circumstances, even great suffering, if only we have a meaning, a purpose for it all. The corollary of this truth is that if we do not have a why, a deeply felt and lived purpose—that is, if we are typically modern—then we will not endure any how, any world that is even mildly upsetting. We will demand a degree of comfort, security, and control undreamed of by any other society. And we will find the technological and political means to create it even if it kills us. And it will.

God has pulled the teeth of envy by the Incarnation. There is no longer any reason to envy a God who is crowned with thorns and suffers the pains of Hell itself on the Cross. And there is no reason to envy Adam and Eden when we are promised Christ and Heaven.”
~Peter Kreeft

Monday, August 2, 2010

Being Human

"O human race, born to fly upward,
Why at a little wind do you so fall?"
~Dante

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dawn Sprinkles All The East With Light

Dawn sprinkles all the east with light;
Day o’er the earth is gliding bright;
Morn’s glittering rays their course begin;
Farewell to darkness and to sin.

Each phantom of the night depart,
Each thought of guilt forsake the heart:
Let every ill that darkness brought
Beneath its shade, now come to nought.

So that last morning, dread and great,
Which we with trembling hope await,
With blessed light for us shall glow
Who chant the song we sang below.

All laud to God the Father be;
All praise, eternal Son, to thee;
All glory, as is ever meet,
To God the Holy Paraclete.

~St. Ambrose

Friday, July 30, 2010

Tell Him

“Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one’s heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you; tell Him your joys, that He may sober them; tell Him your longings, that He may purify them; tell Him your dislikes, that He may help you to conquer them; talk to Him of your temptations, that He may shield you from them; show Him the wounds of your heart, that He may heal them; lay bare your indifference to good, your depraved tastes for evil, your instability. Tell Him how self-love makes you unjust to others, how vanity tempts you to be insincere, how pride disguises you to yourself as to others. If you thus pour out all your weaknesses, needs, troubles, there will be no lack of what to say. You will never exhaust the subject. It is continually being renewed. People who have no secrets from each other never want for subjects of conversation. They do not weigh their words, for there is nothing to be held back; neither do they seek for something to say. They talk out of the abundance of the heart, without consideration, just what they think. Blessed are they who attain to such familiar, unreserved intercourse with God.”
~François Fénelon

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Couple of Thoughts

“If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain as he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.”

“No one would talk much in society if he knew how often he misunderstands others.”
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ivory Palaces

My Lord has garments so wondrous fine,
And myrrh their texture fills;
Its fragrance reached to this heart of mine
With joy my being thrills.

Refrain

Out of the ivory palaces,
Into a world of woe,
Only His great eternal love
Made my Savior go.

His life had also its sorrows sore,
For aloes had a part;
And when I think of the cross He bore,
My eyes with teardrops start.

Refrain

His garments too were in cassia dipped,
With healing in a touch;
Each time my feet in some sin have slipped,
He took me from its clutch.

Refrain

In garments glorious He will come,
To open wide the door;
And I shall enter my heav’nly home,
To dwell forevermore.

Refrain

~Words & Music: Henry Barraclough

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Grace Which Our Souls Seek

“For the highest form of prayer is to the goodness of God. It comes down to us to meet our humblest needs. It gives life to our souls and makes them live and grow in grace and virtue. It is near in nature and swift in grace, for it is the same grace which our souls seek and always will.”
~St. Julian of Norwich

Monday, July 26, 2010

Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners

Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.

Refrain

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Jesus! what a Strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in Him.
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,
He, my Strength, my victory wins.

Refrain

Jesus! what a Help in sorrow!
While the billows over me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my Comfort, helps my soul.

Refrain

Jesus! what a Guide and Keeper!
While the tempest still is high,
Storms about me, night overtakes me,
He, my Pilot, hears my cry.

Refrain

Jesus! I do now adore Him,
More than all in Him I find.
He hath granted me forgiveness,
I am His, and He is mine.

Refrain

~Words: J. Wilbur Chapman & Music: Rowland Prichard

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Morning Prayer

“To-day, O Lord—
let me put right before interest:
let me put others before self:
let me put the things of the spirit before the things of the body:
let me put the attainment of noble ends above the enjoyment of present pleasures:
let me put principle above reputation:
let me put Thee before all else.

O Thou the reflection of whose transcendent glory did once appear unbroken in the face of Jesus Christ, give me to-day a heart like His—a brave heart, a true heart, a tender heart, a heart with great room in it, a heart fixed on Thyself; for His name’s sake.
Amen.”
~John Baillie

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sheep

“The …shepherd watched them meander across the slopes as they fed on the grass. How small their lives, he thought. Perfect circles in time: birth, fruition, a brief life, then death. A whole giving of self: wool, lambs, meat. A sacrificial life.”
~Michael O’Brien

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ain’t Got Time To Die

Lord, I keep so busy praisin’ my Jesus
Keep so busy praisin’ my Jesus
Keep so busy praisin’ my Jesus
Ain’t got time to die

‘Cause when I’m healin’ de sick
When I’m healin’ de sick
When I’m healin’ de sick
‘Cause it takes all o’ ma time
All o’ ma time
To praise my Lord
If I don’t praise Him de rocks gonter cry out
Glory an’ honor

Lord, I keep so busy workin’ fer de Kingdom
Keep so busy workin’ fer de Kingdom…
Ain’t got time to die
‘Cause when I’m feedin de po’…
I’m workin’ fer de Kingdom…
Ain’t got time to die

Lord, I keep so busy servin’ my Master
Keep so busy servin’ my Master
Ain’t got time to die
‘Cause when I’m givin’ my all…
I’m servin’ my Master…
Ain’t got time to die

~Spiritual by Hall Johnson

Monday, July 12, 2010

God's Plans