Friday, February 25, 2011

Love for Love

“Modern man seeks mainly for ‘experience’—putting himself at the centre of things he wishes to make them subservient to this aim; too often, even God becomes the source from which the highest experience flows, instead of being Him Whom we adore, worship, and are prepared to serve, whatever the cost to us.

…the experiential knowledge which God in His infinite Love and condescension gives to those who seek Him with their whole heart is always a gift; its essential, abiding quality is its gratuity: it is an act of Divine Love and cannot therefore be deserved.

…‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God’—blessed are those who have understood that they are nothing in themselves, possess nothing which they dare call ‘their own’. If they are ‘something’ it is because they are loved of God and because they know for certain that their worth in God’s eyes can be measured by the humiliation of the Son of God, His life, the Agony of the Garden, the dereliction of the Cross—the Blood of Christ. To be, to be possessed of the gift of life and to be granted all that makes its richness means to be loved by God; and those who know this, free from any delusion that they can exist or possess apart from this mystery of love have entered into the Kingdom of God which is the Kingdom of Love. What then shall be their response to this generous, self-effacing, sacrificial Love? An endeavour to respond to love for love, as there is no other way of acknowledging love.”
~Andrei Bloom

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Humility

Abba Anthony said, ‘I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, “What can get through from such snares?” Then I heard a voice saying to me, “Humility.”’
~3rd Century A.D. from The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Psalm 93

The Lord is king, with majesty enrobed;
The Lord has robed Himself with might,
He has girded Himself with power.

The world You made firm, not to be moved;
Your throne has stood firm from of old.
From all eternity, O Lord, You are.

The waters have lifted up, O Lord,
The waters have lifted up their voice,
The waters have lifted up their thunder.

Greater than the roar of mighty waters,
More glorious than the surgings of the sea,
The Lord is glorious on high.

Truly Your decrees are to be trusted.
Holiness is fitting to Your house,
O Lord, until the end of time.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Praying the Psalms

“The Church indeed likes what is old, not because it is old but rather because it is ‘young.’ In the Psalms, we drink divine praise at its pure and stainless source, in all its primitive sincerity and perfection. We return to the youthful strength and directness with which the ancient psalmists voiced their adoration of the God of Israel. Their adoration was intensified by the ineffable accents of new discovery: for the Psalms are the songs of men who knew who God was. If we are to pray well, we too must discover the Lord to whom we speak, and if we use the Psalms in our prayer we will stand a better chance of sharing in the discovery which lies hidden in their words for all generations. For God has willed to make Himself known to us in the mystery of the Psalms.”
~Thomas Merton

Sunday, February 20, 2011

On This Day, the First of Days

On this day, the first of days,
God the Father’s name we praise;
Who, creation’s Lord and spring
Did the world from darkness bring.

On this day the eternal Son
Over death His triumph won;
On this day the Spirit came
With His gifts of living flame.

Father, who didst fashion man
God-like in Thy loving plan,
Fill us with that love divine,
And conform our wills to Thine.

Word made flesh all hail to Thee!
Thou from sin hast set us free;
And with Thee we die and rise
Unto God in sacrifice.

Holy Spirit, You impart
Gifts of love to every heart;
Give us light and grace, we pray,
Fill our hearts this holy day.

God, the blessed Three in One,
May Thy holy will be done;
In Thy word our souls are free.
And we rest this day with Thee.

~Words: Le Mans Breviary (translator: Henry Baker) & Music: Johann Freylinghausen

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Chance or the Dance?

Is it chance
or dance moves
the world?

Is the world
blind and dumb
or bloom, festal?
A vain jest,
or holy feast?

~Eugene Warren

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Psalm

When psalms surprise me with their music
And antiphons turn to rum
The Spirit sings: the bottom drops out of my soul.

And from the center of my cellar, Love, louder than thunder
Opens a heaven of naked air.

New eyes awaken.
I send Love's name into the world with wings
And songs grow up around me like a jungle.
Choirs of all creatures sing the tunes
Your Spirit played in Eden.
Zebras and antelopes and birds of paradise
Shine on the face of the abyss
And I am drunk with the great wilderness
Of the sixth day in Genesis.

But sound is never half so fair
As when that music turns to air
And the universe dies of excellence.

Sun, moon and stars
Fall from their heavenly towers.
Joys walk no longer down the blue world's shore.

Though fires loiter, lights still fly on the air of the gulf,
All fear another wind, another thunder:
Then one more voice
Snuffs all their flares in one gust.

And I go forth with no more wine and no more stars
And no more buds and no more Eden
And no more animals and no more sea:

While God sings by Himself in acres of night
And walls fall down, that guarded Paradise.
~Thomas Merton

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Luckiest

For my wife on St. Valentine’s Day...

I don't get many things right the first time
In fact, I am told that a lot
Now I know all the wrong turns, the stumbles and falls
Brought me here

And where was I before the day
That I first saw your lovely face?
Now I see it everyday
And I know

That I am
I am
I am
The luckiest

~Lyrics by Ben Folds

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Great Saints & Great Sinners

“All Christians are persecuted, but some more than others for two reasons. Either they live in an unusually evil environment or they are unusually good Christians.

Most of us aren’t good enough to be persecuted much by the paganism of one of the most Christian nations in the world. Since most of us are lukewarm, we are therefore safe, for the world persecutes mainly great saints and great sinners. Both threaten its comfortable compromises.

Why does the world feel threatened by great sinners? The answer is that not only do they hurt people, but also they expose the world’s own evil. Shameless sinners implicitly throw an unanswerable challenge at the world: ‘Why not be a great sinner, a selfish opportunist, a shameless criminal, if only you can get away with it?’

The world has no answer to that simple question except that it finds such an attitude ‘unacceptable’. That is perhaps an interesting fact about the feelings of the speaker, but it is in no sense an answer to the question asked. With no transcendent source of moral authority, no ‘thou shalt’ or ‘thou shalt not’, the world must persecute its criminals not because that is an absolutely right thing to do but because force and threat are its only possible answers to crime and to the fundamental challenge to the world’s empty ethics that the criminal poses. ‘Why not be a criminal if I can get away with it?’ The world’s only possible answer is: ‘Because we shall see to it that you don’t get away with it.’ So sinners as well as saints are persecuted by the world. It was fitting that Christ was crucified between two thieves.”
~Peter Kreeft

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

“Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
~Robert Frost

Thursday, February 10, 2011

One Side and the Other

“On the one side, it is true that the soul must always be seeking, always gazing up through the darkness to a God who hides Himself, always remembering that the Infinite transcends the finite and that an immense agnosticism must be an element to every creed; the lines of this world, as it were, run up into gloom; the light that glimmers through carved tracery and heavy stains is enough to walk by, but little more. It is in silence that God is known, and through mysteries that He declares Himself. ‘God is spirit,’ formless, infinite, invisible, and eternal, and ‘they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.’ Here, then, is mysticism and the darkness of spiritual experience.

Then, on the other side, God became man – ‘the Word was made flesh.’ The divine, unknowable Nature struck itself into flesh and ‘tabernacled amongst us, and we beheld His glory.’ What was hidden was made known. It is not only we who thirst and knock: it is God Who, thirsting for our love, died upon the cross that He might open the kingdom of heaven to all believers, Who rent the veil of the Temple by His death-groan, and Who still stands knocking at every human heart, that He may come in and sup with man. The round dome of heaven is brought down to earth; the walls of the world are plain to the sight; its limitations are seen in the light of God; the broad sunshine of Revelation streams on all sides through clear windows upon a gorgeous pavement…”
~Robert Hugh Benson

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sin and Sorrow

"...We know that we do not weep for our sins as we should. The more we weep for our sins, the more we can rejoice in our forgiveness."
~Paul Scalia

Monday, February 7, 2011

Their Makers Will Come To Be Like Them

It is interesting to read the following and to think about the idols many have in our world/culture today. Christians can even struggle with idols. These verses really emphasize the need for God’s commands at the beginning of the Ten Commandments. May He help us so that we avoid having and becoming like false idols and instead become like our God.

“Our God is in the heavens;
He does whatever He wills.
Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.

They have mouths but they cannot speak;
they have eyes but they cannot see;
They have ears but they cannot hear;
they have nostrils but they cannot smell.

With their hands they cannot feel;
with their feet they cannot walk.
No sound comes from their throats.
Their makers will come to be like them,
and so will all who trust in them.”

~Psalm 115:3-8

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A New Heart

"I will give you a new heart
and place a new spirit within you,
taking from your bodies your stony hearts
and giving you natural hearts."
~Ezekiel 36:26

Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.
~Words: Frances Havergal & Music: Louis Herold

Thursday, February 3, 2011

As the Ruin Falls

All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through:
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.

Peace, re-assurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin:
I talk of love –a scholar's parrot may talk Greek–
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.

Only that now you have taught me (but how late) my lack.
I see the chasm. And everything you are was making
My heart into a bridge by which I might get back
From exile, and grow man. And now the bridge is breaking.

For this I bless you as the ruin falls. The pains
You give me are more precious than all other gains.

~C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Aslan

“But. But. In this figure [Aslan] it seems to me that Lewis has scored perhaps the most important point he ever scored. For he did the thing that is nearly impossible, namely, restored to the imagination of whole generations, entire categories that had vanished from the moral and metaphysical map. Ask yourself how you would even begin to suggest to a generation brought up on MTV, rock music, lewd cinema, pornography, and the omnipotent conspiracy of the whole of academia, political power, and the media to expunge what T. S. Eliot called ‘the permanent things’ from human imagination, and to replace them with relativism, egocentrism, cynicism, ostentatious squalor, and a sensuality that makes Gomorrah itself look like Mr. McGregor’s garden—ask yourself how you would flag down that generation with such notions as majesty, valor, purity, nobility, courtesy, magnanimity, magnificence, glory, and holiness.

We stagger at the very suggestion. I walk down a certain street in Boston where the skinheads gather in their black clothes and black lipstick (on both the females and the males—I can’t call them girls and boys, alas), with their safety pins through their eyebrows, cheeks, and lips, and I ask myself: How shall we speak of glory? Is there any common footing upon which an approach to sanctity might be mounted here?

In the figure of Aslan, we are regaled with all that has been expunged from our unhappy century. You need only to see the quivering nostrils and pricked-forward ears of the animals at the creation of Narnia, or sail with the Dawn Treader toward the utter East, or go with Digory to the garden where he will pick the apple, or with Susan and Lucy on the night of Aslan’s Passion, to see that it can be done.

It is a weight of glory that marks Aslan’s presence and Aslan’s country.”
~Thomas Howard