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