Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Living by Love

“...When we lose sight of God's divine will for the whole of creation we cease to live in wisdom and have no grasp of eternal truth. We need to be attuned to the promptings of grace whereby we can experience the communion of love. Wisdom allows us to let go of our subjective opinions and come together in unity and peace. The source of this unity and peace is the love of the Father for the Son in the Holy Spirit. This love comes down to us from the Son. It is creative love, through which we have our being. It is redemptive love, through which we have the forgiveness of our sins. As objects of God's love we become instruments of grace for a world grown old in sin.

Wisdom allows us to bring God's love to men and women whose hearts have grown hard and insensitive. While heaven and earth may pass away, God's love is everlasting and will never pass away. Those who are wise know the ways of love. Those who are wise know that living by love is a life-long task. It takes wisdom to know how to respond with love to all the circumstance of life. It takes vigilance. We must always be prepared to respond to love's call. There are risks involved. Our Christian vocation demands that we be willing to become child-like of heart. While watching the rain come down in buckets last week, I remembered how, as a child, I used to dance and play in the rain. Those rain-soaked memories filled my heart with joy and delight. This child-like delight allows us to cling to the hope that the Kingdom of God is erupting in our midst. Are we willing to abandon ourselves to the outpourings of God's love?”
~Jerome Machar

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tomorrow at Breakfast

“Plato has told you a truth; but Plato is dead. Shakespeare has startled you with an image; but Shakespeare will not startle you with any more. But imagine what it would be to live with such men still living, to know that Plato might break out with an original lecture tomorrow, or that at any moment Shakespeare might shatter everything with a single song. The man who lives in contact with what he believes to be a living Church is a man always expecting to meet Plato and Shakespeare tomorrow at breakfast.”
~G. K. Chesterton

Monday, August 29, 2011

Holy Week

“I would be better if every Monday, instead of being Black Monday, were always Bright Monday, to commemorate the creation of the Light. It would be better if Tuesday, at present a word of colourless connotation, represented a great feast of fountains, and rivers and rolling streams; because it was the Day of the Division of the Waters. It would be better if every Wednesday were an occasion for hanging the house with green boughs or blossoms; because these things were brought forth on the third day of Creation; or that Thursday were sacred to the sun and the moon, and Friday sacred to fish and fowl; and so on. Then you might begin to have some notion of the importance of the week; and what a high and imaginative civilisation might really do with the week. If it had the creative power to produce such a pageant of creation, it would not bother with cinemas.”
~G. K. Chesterton

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Paradoxical Commandments

“People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.”
~Kent Keith

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The First Fountains of Life

“Now a child is the very sign and sacrament of personal freedom. He is a fresh free will added to the wills of the world; he is something that his parents have freely chosen to produce and which they freely agree to protect. They can feel that any amusement he gives (which is often considerable) really comes from him and from them, and from nobody else. He has been born without the intervention of any master or lord. He is a creation and a contribution; he is their own creative contribution to creation. He is also a much more beautiful, wonderful, amusing and astonishing thing than any of the stale stories or jingling jazz tunes turned out by the machines. When men no longer feel that he is so, they have lost the appreciation of primary things, and therefore all sense of proportion about the world. People who prefer the mechanical pleasures, to such a miracle, are jaded and enslaved. They are preferring the very dregs of life to the first fountains of life. They are preferring the last, crooked, indirect, borrowed, repeated and exhausted things of our dying Capitalist civilisation, to the reality which is the only rejuvenation of all civilisation. It is they who are hugging the chains of their old slavery; it is the child who is ready for the new world.”
~G. K. Chesterton

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bravo the Humdrum – Part 3

“And in his own experience he may observe that his greatest liberty occurs (he can only see this in retrospect, since it vanishes the moment it is looked at) when he is least conscious of himself—when he is hard at work on some piece of research, focusing on the data, or when he is carried away upon hearing an aria sung by Birgit Nilsson, or when he is loving his wife, either passionately or in some simple act like bringing breakfast to her in bed. It will occur to him that one of the oddities of love (erotic, paternal, filial, social) is that its motion is outward and away from itself, and that it experiences this motion as joy: and, conversely, he may discover if he visits his psychiatrist often enough that there is an unsettling ratio between a person’s unhappiness and his concentration on himself.

And so on: on and on, until he shuffles, through debility and hebetude, toward that final horror that seems to settle it once and forever that there is discrepancy at work in things—this time the discrepancy between our dreams of destiny and our actual experience of dissolution—and that the Conqueror Worm has the last word.

But he might not, because he has looked around him at a thousand images, that it is not unobserved that life issues from death—that spring rises from winter, and the oak from the dead acorn, and dawn from the night, and Phoenix from the ashes.

These are all old moral saws. Nothing new here. Bromides. But then there is nothing new anywhere. The business of the poet and prophet has always been to take the saws and astonish and delight us into a fresh awareness of what they mean by discovering them suddenly in this image, and in this, and this. And the rest of us may see it all either as a pointless jumble of phenomena, or as the diagram of glory—as grinding tediously toward entropy, or as dancing toward the Dance.”
~Thomas Howard

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bravo the Humdrum – Part 2

“Hence, when he observes in his own experience that a child issues from the union of the man and the woman, he might suspect that it is in the nature of union to produce fruit, or, conversely, that the fruit owes its life to a prior union. Further, he might observe that it is in the nature of that union to be ecstatic, and he might thus conclude that joy is somehow written into the sources of life. And he will undoubtedly see that there are pain and agony involved and will have to come to terms with what he can see only as an intrusion or an ambiguity—that pain is somehow bound up in the whole process of joy. And, seeing his infant suck its mother’s breasts, he will understand that growth and strength derive from nourishment, and that that nourishment issues from the self-giving of another life—milk from the mother, or meat from the calf, or flour from the wheat. And he might see that all these humdrum necessities—dishes and laundry and cooking—are the accouterments to the liturgies celebrated in this temple.

Moreover, watching that growth, he will see the paradox that authentic freedom is won not by child’s being granted every wish (an infinite number of chocolates, dancing on the windowsill, etc.), but rather by curbing and channeling and, alas, denying. And in the denial (and perhaps punishment) he will observe again that there is a lamentable discrepancy at work in things, tearing at the fabric of the diagram—in this case a discrepancy between inclination (more chocolates) and perfection (good teeth). He will see also that the truth of the matter is not necessarily known intuitively by the growing child, but that facts have to be learned, either by authority (thou shalt not put thy pinkie in that gas flame) or by experience (ouch). And he will see at work over a long, long span of time the difficult notion that reward or fulfillment commonly follows rigor and renunciation and austerity (the winning pole vault, the Ph.D.), and is not available on demand.”
~Thomas Howard

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bravo the Humdrum – Part 1

“…the business of life is not so much to observe experience (although that is close to the center) as to participate in experience. And presumably one is human to the extent that he participates authentically in those experiences that specially characterize human existence (as opposed to angelic or avian or simian existence). Whatever else a man (king or serf) may be doing, there are various things which mark his experience, and the viewpoint being put here is that it is those universals which lie at the center of significance, and that the variables (whether he gets to move in court circles, climb the Himalayas, write epic poetry, or mix sundaes) are just that—variables. They may color and shape his experience, but they do not determine its essence. The king and the serf must both be born in precisely the same way, and must learn to walk and talk, and must eat periodically, and sleep, and learn that one may do this and may not do that; and grow up, putting away the toys and taking up the scepter or plow; and marry (probably), with all the potential which that holds for exploring the nature of love; and must go on day after day and year after year, doing what is required; and must grow feeble and infirm and then die. And it is the supposition here that these commonplaces—these given rhythms of experience—constitute the imagery under which we may all participate in the way things are. And, corollary to this, that the failure to seize these humdrum commonplaces as vitally significant, or the effort to fly from them and seek fulfillment in various forms of substitution or diversion, represents a misapprehension of what it means to be authentically human.

This view, carried to the nth place, would go like this, then: things are not random; they are, finally, glorious, and the diagram of this glory appears everywhere and on all levels—in astronomy and in zoology and botany and anatomy and oceanography—and is enacted by man in his politics and institutions, and acknowledged and celebrated in his rituals and his art. And it is configured most immediately and obviously for him in the commonplaces of his life. So that, working from the bottom up, he might see those commonplaces as images of that ultimate glory, and find in them clues as to the nature of that glory.”
~Thomas Howard

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Jesus Shall Reign

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

To Him shall endless prayer be made,
And praises throng to crown His head;
His Name like sweet perfume shall rise
With every morning sacrifice.

People and realms of every tongue
Dwell on His love with sweetest song;
And infant voices shall proclaim
Their early blessings on His Name.

Blessings abound wherever He reigns;
The prisoner leaps to lose his chains;
The weary find eternal rest,
And all the sons of want are blessed.

Let every creature rise and bring
Peculiar honors to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud Amen!

~Words: Isaac Watts & Music: John Hatton

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Life...

“A life is a word. Its meaning and its shape are the answer you seek. It must be lived in order to be spoken.”
~Michael O’Brien

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hebrew Proverb

“God did not create woman from man’s head, that he should command her. Nor from his feet, that she should be his slave. But, rather from his side, that she should be near his heart.”
~Hebrew Proverb

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Remain Awake

“We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always easy to penetrate. The real labour is to remember to attend. In fact to come awake. Still more to remain awake.”
~C. S. Lewis

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Psalm 65

To You our praise is due
in Zion, O God.
To You we pay our vows,
You who hear our prayer.

To You all flesh will come
with its burden of sin.
Too heavy for us, our offenses,
but You wipe them away.

Blessed is he whom You choose and call
to dwell in Your courts.
We are filled with the blessings of Your house,
of Your holy temple.

You keep Your pledge with wonders,
O God our savior,
the hope of all the earth
and of far distant isles.

You uphold the mountains with Your strength,
You are girded with power.
You still the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves
and the tumult of the peoples.

The ends of the earth stand in awe
at the sight of Your wonders.
The lands of sunrise and sunset
You fill with Your joy.

You care for the earth, give it water,
You fill it with riches.
Your river in heaven brims over
to provide its grain.

And thus You provide for the earth;
You drench its furrows,
You level it, soften it with showers,
You bless its growth.

You crown the year with Your goodness.
Abundance flows in Your steps,
in the pastures of the wilderness it flows.

The hills are girded with joy,
the meadows covered with flocks,
the valleys are decked with wheat.
They shout for joy, yes, they sing.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Empty and Full

“God cannot fill what is full. He can only fill emptiness, deep poverty, and your ‘Yes’ is the beginning of being or becoming empty. It is not how much we really ‘have’ to give, but how empty we are, so that we can receive fully in our life and let Him live His life in us.”
~Mother Teresa

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Very True...

“Regarding Christianity: Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt.”
~John Henry Newman

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How to Convince/Explain?

“At the time I had not yet come across Saint Augustine's famous dictum, 'We do not first understand in order to believe; we must first believe in order to understand.' I was still laboring under the impression that the human mind could not fail to be convinced if matters were properly explained. I had not yet come to the realization that human beings, on the whole, are largely subjective creatures and that we make our judgments about practically everything on the basis of impressions—on our fundamental perception of how creation works.”
~Michael O’Brien

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Christian! Seek Not Yet Repose

Christian! seek not yet repose,
Hear thy guardian angel say;
Thou art in the midst of foes;
“Watch and pray.”

Principalities and powers,
Mustering their unseen array,
Wait for thy unguarded hours;
“Watch and pray.”

Gird thy heavenly armor on,
Wear it ever night and day;
Ambushed lies the evil one;
“Watch and pray.”

Hear the victors who o’ercame;
Still they mark each warrior’s way;
All with one clear voice exclaim,
“Watch and pray.”

Hear, above all, hear thy Lord,
Him thou lovest to obey;
Hide within thy heart His Word,
“Watch and pray.”

Watch, as if on that alone
Hung the issue of the day;
Pray that help may be sent down;
“Watch and pray.”

~Words: Charlotte Elliott & Music: William Monk

Monday, August 1, 2011

Thoughts re: The Christian Family

“The family, like the nation, can be offered to God, can be converted and redeemed, and will then become the channel of particular blessings and graces. But, like everything else that is human, it needs redemption. Unredeemed, it will produce only particular temptations, corruptions, and miseries. Charity begins at home: so does uncharity.

...How, then, are people to behave at home? If a man can't be comfortable and unguarded, can't take his ease and ‘be himself’ in his own house, where can he? That is, I confess, the trouble. The answer is an alarming one. There is nowhere this side of heaven where one can safely lay the reins on the horse's neck. It will never be lawful simply to ‘be ourselves’ until ‘ourselves’ have become sons of God. It is all there in the hymn – ‘Christian, Seek Not Yet Repose.’ This does not mean, of course, that there is no difference between home life and general society. It does mean that home life has its own rule of courtesy—a code more intimate, more subtle, more sensitive, and, therefore, in some ways more difficult, than that of the outer world.

Finally, must we not teach that if the home is to be a means of grace it must be a place of rules? There cannot be a common life without a regula. The alternative to rule is not freedom but the unconstitutional (and often unconscious) tyranny of the most selfish member.

In a word, must we not either cease to preach domesticity or else begin to preach it seriously? Must we not abandon sentimental eulogies and begin to give practical advice on the high, hard, lovely, and adventurous art of really creating the Christian family?”
~C. S. Lewis