Monday, January 31, 2011

A Glimpse of Heaven

“What yet lies beyond I do not know: the towers of this City of God rise immediately into the clouds that are about His Throne; the City is too vast, its streets too glorious, its houses too stupendous for any soul to dream that she knows them all or understands their secret. In this world, at least, not even the saint or the theologian, or the old man who has lived all his days within her walls, can dare to think that he has advanced more than a few steps within her heavenly gates. He stands within her, and, thank God, I stand there with him, as does every soul to whom God has shown this great mercy. But all of us together are but a party of children wandering in from the country, travel-stained, tired, and bewildered with glory. About us are the great palaces, where the princes dwell; behind us that gate of pearl which, somehow, we have passed; the streets before us are crowded with heavenly forms too bright to look upon; and supremely high above us rises that great curtained stairway that leads to the King.

It is there that we must go presently, after a few more steps across the market square. Yet there is nothing to fear for those who stand where we stand; there are no precipices to be climbed any more and no torrents to be crossed; God has made all easy for those He has admitted through the Gate of Heaven that He has built upon the earth; the very River of Death itself is no more than a dwindled stream, bridged and protected on every side; the shadow of death is little more than twilight for those who look on it in the light of the Lamb.

‘Behold, the tabernacle of God with men; and He will dwell with them…and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and death shall be no more…And the City needeth not sun or moon to shine in it; for the glory of God hath enlightened it, and the Lamb is the lamp thereof.’”
~Robert Hugh Benson

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I Sing the Mighty Power of God

I sing the mighty power of God, that made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad, and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at God’s command, and all the stars obey.

I sing the goodness of the Lord, who filled the earth with food,
Who formed the creatures through the Word, and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed, where’er I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tread, or gaze upon the sky.

There’s not a plant or flower below, but makes Thy glories known,
And clouds arise, and tempests blow, by order from Thy throne;
While all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care;
And everywhere that we can be, Thou, God art present there.

~Words: Isaac Watts & Music: Forest Green, traditional English melody, arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Cross Exemplifies Every Virtue

“Why did the Son of God have to suffer for us? There was a great need, and it can be considered in a twofold way: in the first place, as a remedy for sin, and secondly, as an example of how to act.

It is a remedy, for, in the face of all the evils which we incur on account of our sins, we have found relief through the passion of Christ. Yet, it is no less an example, for the passion of Christ completely suffices to fashion our lives. Whoever wishes to live perfectly should do nothing but disdain what Christ disdained on the cross and desire what He desired, for the cross exemplifies every virtue.

If you seek the example of love: Greater love than this no man has, than to lay down his life for his friends. Such a man was Christ on the cross. And if He gave His life for us, then it should not be difficult to bear whatever hardships arise for His sake.

If you seek patience, you will find no better example than the cross. Great patience occurs in two ways: either when one patiently suffers much, or when one suffers things which one is able to avoid and yet does not avoid. Christ endured much on the cross, and did so patiently, because when He suffered He did not threaten; He was led like a sheep to the slaughter and He did not open His mouth. Therefore Christ’s patience on the cross was great. In patience let us run for the prize set before us, looking upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who, for the joy set before Him, bore His cross and despised the shame.

If you seek an example of humility, look upon the crucified one, for God wished to be judged by Pontius Pilate and to die.

If you seek an example of obedience, follow Him who became obedient to the Father even unto death. For just as by the disobedience of one man, namely, Adam, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one man, many were made righteous.

If you seek an example of despising earthly things, follow Him who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Upon the cross He was stripped, mocked, spat upon, struck, crowned with thorns, and given only vinegar and gall to drink.

Do not be attached, therefore, to clothing and riches, because they divided my garments among themselves. Nor to honours, for He experienced harsh words and scourgings. Nor to greatness of rank, for weaving a crown of thorns they placed it on my head. Nor to anything delightful, for in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
~St. Thomas Aquinas

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ritual

“Those who dislike ritual in general—ritual in any or every department of life—may be asked most earnestly to reconsider the question. [Ritual] is a pattern imposed on the mere flux of our feelings by reason and will, which renders pleasures less fugitive and griefs more endurable, and which hands over to the power of wise custom the task (to which the individual and his moods are so inadequate) of being festive or sober, gay or reverent, when we choose to be, and not at the bidding of chance.”
~C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Religion/God

1. Virtue is necessary for the survival of civilization.
2. And religion is necessary for the survival of virtue.
3. Therefore, religion is necessary for the survival of civilization.
~Peter Kreeft

“If I did not believe in God, I should still want my doctor, my lawyer, and my banker to do so.”
~G. K. Chesterton

“He who practices virtue and speaks honestly,
who spurns what is gained by oppression,
brushing his hands
free of contact with a bribe,
stopping his ears lest he hear of bloodshed,
closing his eyes lest he look on evil.

He shall dwell on the heights,
his stronghold shall be the rocky fastness,
his food and drink
in steady supply.”
~Isaiah 33:15-16

Monday, January 24, 2011

Christian Devotion

“Moreover, just as every sort of gem, cast in honey, becomes brighter and more sparkling, each according to its colour, so each person becomes more acceptable and fitting in his own vocation when he sets his vocation in the context of devotion. Through devotion your family cares become more peaceful, mutual love between husband and wife becomes more sincere, the service we owe to the prince becomes more faithful, and our work, no matter what it is, becomes more pleasant and agreeable.”
~St. Francis De Sales

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Taking Sin Seriously

“...I have sinned, Lord, I have sinned against Thee;
O wretched man that I am,
I have sinned, Lord, against Thee
much and grievously,
in observing lying vanities.

I conceal nothing: I make no excuses.
I give Thee glory, O Lord, this day.
I denounce against myself my sins.
Indeed I have sinned against the Lord,
and thus and thus have I done.
I have sinned and perverted that which was right,
and it profited me not.

And what shall I now say?
or with what shall I open my mouth?
What shall I answer seeing I have done it?
Without plea, without excuse, self-condemned am I.
I have destroyed myself.
O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee,
but unto me confusion of face.
And Thou art just in all that is brought upon me
for Thou hast done right,
but I have done wickedly.
And now, Lord, what is my hope?
Art not Thou, Lord?
Truly my hope is even in Thee,
if hope of salvation remaineth to me,
if Thy lovingkindness vanquisheth
the multitude of my iniquities.

O remember what my substance is,
the work of Thy hands,
the likeness of Thy countenance,
the reward of Thy blood,
a name from Thy name,
a sheep of Thy pasture,
a son of Thy covenant.
Forsake not Thou the work of Thine own hands...

...Magnify Thy mercies towards the utter sinner;
and in season, Lord, say to me,
Be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee;
My grace is sufficient for thee.
Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.
Why are thou cast down, O my soul?
and why are thou disquieted in me?
Return unto thy rest, O my soul;
for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.

O Lord, rebuke me not in Thine anger,
neither chasten me in Thy hot displeasure.
I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord;
and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.
Lord, all my desire is before Thee;
and my groaning is not hid from Thee.
Have mercy upon me, O God,
according to Thy lovingkindness:
according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies
blot out my transgressions.
Thou shalt arise, and have mercy on me, O Lord,
for the time to favour me, yea, the set time, is come.
If Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities,
O Lord, who shall stand?
Enter not into judgment with Thy servant:
for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified.

~Excerpt from the private devotions of Lancelot Andrewes
(from the Confession of Sin section of the First Day)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Face of the Lord

“I shall know the fullness of joy, when I see Your face, O Lord.
― I shall know the fullness of joy, when I see Your face, O Lord.

Fulfillment and endless peace in Your presence,
― when I see Your face, O Lord.”

~Responsory from a Christian Prayer Book

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Saving Belief

“Every sparrow is an individual, unlike every other; and the special thing God makes in that sparrow is the product of all the special circumstances concurrent in her production. Most of us have little insight into the singularity of sparrows. We can do better with the human case. For you to be what you are involves a universe; and if your being what you are is the work of God, then an infinity of events was under His hand. It was His skill to draw you out of the genetic pattern of your ancestry, the culture of your time, and the complex of relationships surrounding you. This is not to deny that had your ancestors been more temperate, your parents wiser, your teachers more conscientious and your school-fellows not such little beasts, you would have been a better person than you are. Yet, such as you are, God made you; and the supreme prerogative of the divine art is to draw good even from evil. Not a greater good, no; we do not help God to produce better things by offering Him worse materials. But what He makes is always a unique good. You are you, and no one just like you. The defects, as well as the advantages, of your background have gone into the composition of the mixture.”
~Austin Farrer

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lesson from a Poet

“Thomas Carlyle (died 1881) was a great English poet. He loved his wife, she loved him, and helped him in his career. But she fell ill with cancer and was bedridden, and Thomas was so busy writing that he rarely made time to stay at her bedside. But she did not complain.

After she died, it rained heavily on the day of her burial. After the ceremony at the graveside, Thomas went home, went up into his wife’s bedroom, and sat beside her bed. He found her diary, and read this entry: ‘Yesterday Thomas spent an hour with me and it was like being in Heaven. I love him so.’ His heart quaked. On the next page he read: ‘I have listened all day to hear his steps in the hall, but now it is late and I guess he won’t come today.’

Thomas threw the diary to the floor and ran back to the cemetery through pouring rain. Friends found him face down in the mud on the new grave, weeping, saying over and over again, ‘If only I had known!’

Woody Allen is right: ‘Ninety percent of life is just showing up.’”

“The most precious gift you give to someone you love is time. Where you choose to spend it when you are free is the surest indicator of what and whom you love.

Time is a precious commodity because no one can give you anymore of it; no one can give you a 25th hour in any day or replenish the past time you have spent.

Except God. For He lives in eternity, and He can multiply our little loaves and fishes of time. But only the ones we give away to Him.”
~Peter Kreeft

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Psalm 119: 145-152

XIX (Koph)

I call with all my heart; Lord, hear me,
I will keep Your commands.
I call upon You, save me
and I will do Your will.

I rise before dawn and cry for help,
I hope in Your word.
My eyes watch through the night
to ponder Your promise.

In Your love hear my voice, O Lord;
give me life by Your degrees.
Those who harm me unjustly draw near:
they are far from Your law.

But You, O Lord, are close:
Your commands are truth.
Long have I known that Your will
is established for ever.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lord, Whose Love In Humble Service

Lord, whose love in humble service
Bore the weight of human need,
Who did on the Cross, forsaken,
Show us mercy's perfect deed,
We, Your servants, bring the worship
Not of voice alone, but heart,
Consecrating to Your purpose
Every gift which You impart.

Still Your children wander homeless;
Still the hungry cry for bread;
Still the captives long for freedom;
Still in grief we mourn our dead.
As, O Lord, Your deep compassion
Healed the sick and freed the soul,
Use the love Your Spirit kindles
Still to save and make us whole.

As we worship, grant us vision,
Till Your love's revealing light,
Till the height and depth and greatness,
Dawns upon our human sight,
Making known the needs and burdens
Your compassion bids us bear,
Stirring us to faithful service,
Your abundant life to share.

Called from worship into service,
Forth in Your great name we go,
To the child, the youth, the aged,
Love in living deeds to show;
Hope and health, goodwill and comfort,
Counsel, aid, and peace we give,
That Your children, Lord, in freedom
May Your mercy know and live.

~Words: Albert Bayly & Music: Traditional Dutch Melody

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Imitate You (Morning Prayer)

"The Lord Jesus Christ has given us the light of another
day. In return we thank Him as we cry out:
Lord, bless us and bring us close to You.
You offered Yourself in sacrifice for our sins,
--accept our intentions and our work today.
You bring us joy by the light of another day,
--let the morning star rise in our hearts.
Give us strength to be patient with those we meet today,
--and so imitate You.
Make us aware of Your mercy this morning, Lord,
--and let Your strength be our delight."
Amen

~Unknown

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Guardian, Confidence

"Prayer is the guardian of the sleeping, the confidence of the waking."
~Lancelot Andrewes

Monday, January 10, 2011

Prayer for the New Year

“O Lord Jesus Christ, my Savior, who as eternal Son of God humbly came into this world, help my unbelief. May I grow in an ever richer and stronger faith in the mystery of Your Incarnation and the salvation that it brought. Free me from the skepticism and timidity of our times.

Send Your Holy Spirit on our world, on all those I know and care about. Give them a new and stronger faith. Ask Your heavenly Father, who has sent You, to draw them so that they may believe in You.

Accompany each one of us as the Good Shepherd and protect us from error, confusion, and unbelief. And help us to live our faith. If we indeed believe that You came as our brother into this world, then we must accept Your teachings and live according to them. We must love our neighbor as ourselves. We must reach out as You told us to in the parable of the Good Samaritan. We must teach more by what we do than by what we say. And may the example of a Christian life, even a moment of that life, be the cause of a growing faith in those who seem so lost in the darkness of unbelief.

Jesus, Good Shepherd of our souls, You came to save the world. We ask You to save it. You died for each individual soul. Implore Your heavenly Father so that He may draw each of us closer to You. Grant that as we live through the events of Your life each year, symbolically presented, we may experience more fully Your great love for us in becoming a human being. And may we return that love always with gratitude and awe. We pray to You, Christ our Lord. Amen.”
~Benedict Groeschel

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Go Forward

“Life can move from sheltered intimacy into open and perhaps threatening spaces. Not just at our birth, but perhaps often in life. Sometimes we try to draw back, thinking the earlier security is better. But, hopefully, we also know that to go forward and outwards is to be open to the wider world of new life, new people, where we can grow and fulfil the promise within us.

Much of the Christian world celebrates the Baptism of the Lord this Sunday. So soon after the intimacy of the new-born Child and its Mother at Christmas! Yet the Feast of Epiphany, 6 January, has been about light shining forth into all nations. And now the adult Jesus is baptised at the Jordan; he is being sent out. ‘This is my Son, the Beloved’ (Matthew 3:17). ‘He is my chosen one in whom my soul delights … I have made you a covenant of the people, and light to the nations’ (Isaiah 42:1, 6).

Chosen, delighted in, sent forth: this is the truth and meaning in each of our lives. Lord, that I may know this.”
~Irish Jesuits

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The True Light

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
~Matthew 2:10-11

Prayer:
“Jesus, true Light, shine in the darkness of my soul. Increase my faith, dispel doubt, guide my thoughts to keep faith alive in the darkest night. Your light will come again, and all will see the salvation from our God. Amen.”
~Benedict Groeschel

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Cure

I thought that this was a good word for those of us desiring to be healthier this year with our food consumption (it also provides help for other problems):

“…there is a deep unwisdom, a deep folly involved in gluttony, something more serious than an overfull stomach. It is the illusion that we can be made happy by cramming our inner emptiness, of body as of soul, full of the things of this world. It is a recipe for disappointment.

…But we must do more (not less). We must go to the root of the matter. The motivation for gluttony is the unconscious self-image of emptiness: I must fill myself because I am empty, ghostlike, worthless. Only a knowledge of God’s love for me can fill that emptiness, make me a solid self, give me ultimate worth. And that knowledge comes through Jesus Christ. Therefore Jesus is the ultimate answer to gluttony, as to every other one of our problems. ‘My God shall supply all your needs…by Christ Jesus’, Saint Paul assures us (Phil 4:19).

In this as with all sin, direct attack usually doesn’t work well. Concentrating on gluttony does not usually cure gluttony, especially in its serious stages, for it focuses attention on the very addiction or obsession that we want to escape. The same principle is true for lust. Though it sounds irresponsible and simplistic, we must ‘turn our back on our problem’ and look to God as our joy, our end, our fulfillment, our all, for the simple reason that He is. It is not a trick of thought control but a fact, the primary fact of our being. He is our life, and sin is our death. But the deadliest of deadly sins is never as strong as God’s burning fountain of joy. ‘Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more’ (Rom 5:20).”
~Peter Kreeft

Monday, January 3, 2011

Some Things to be Thankful for in 2011

Glory be to God for dappled things --
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced -- fold , fallow and plow
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise Him.
~Gerard Manley Hopkins

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The House of Christmas

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.

Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost—how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.

This world is wild as an old wife’s tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall all men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

~G. K. Chesterton

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Songs of Praise the Angels Sang

Songs of praise the angels sang,
Heav’n with alleluias rang,
When creation was begun,
When God spoke and it was done.

Songs of praise awoke the morn
When the Prince of Peace was born;
Songs of praise arose when He
Captive led captivity.

Heav’n and earth must pass away,
Songs of praise shall crown that day;
God will make new heav’ns and earth;
Songs of praise shall hail their birth.

And can man alone be dumb,
Till that glorious kingdom come?
No, the Church delights to raise
Psalms, and hymns, and songs of praise.

Saints below, with heart and voice,
Still in songs of praise rejoice,
Learning here, by faith and love,
Songs of praise to sing above.

Borne upon their final breath,
Songs of praise shall conquer death;
Then amidst eternal joy,
Songs of praise their powers employ.

Hymns of glory, songs of praise,
Father, unto Thee we raise;
Jesus, glory unto Thee,
With the Spirit, ever be.

~Words: James Montgomery & Music: John Wilson