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