Saturday, December 31, 2011

Finding and Not Finding the Truth

“The devil is no fool. He can get people feeling about heaven the way they ought to feel about hell. He can make them fear the means of grace the way they do not fear sin. And he does so, not by light but by obscurity, not by realities but by shadows, not by clarity and substance but by dreams and the creatures of psychosis. And men are so poor in intellect that a few cold chills down their spine will be enough to keep them from ever finding out the truth about anything.”
~Thomas Merton

Friday, December 30, 2011

Prayer to the Infant Jesus

“Let Your goodness Lord appear to us, that we, made in Your image,
    conform ourselves to it.
In our own strength we cannot imitate Your majesty, power, and wonder
    nor is it fitting for us to try.
But Your mercy reaches from the heavens through the clouds to the earth
    below.
You have come to us as a small child, but You have brought us the
    greatest of all gifts, the gift of eternal love.
Caress us with Your tiny hands, embrace us with Your tiny arms, and
    pierce our hearts with Your soft, sweet cries.”
Amen
~St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The God in the Cave

“…no other story, no pagan legend or philosophical anecdote or historical event, does in fact affect any of us with that peculiar and even poignant impression produced on us by the word Bethlehem. No other birth of a god or childhood of a sage seems to us to be Christmas or anything like Christmas. It is either too cold or too frivolous, or too formal and classical, or too simple and savage, or too occult and complicated. Not one of us, whatever his opinions, would ever go to such a scene with the sense that he was going home. He might admire it because it was poetical, or because it was philosophical, or any number of other things in separation; but not because it was itself. The truth is that there is a quite peculiar and individual character about the hold of this story on human nature; it is not in its psychological substance at all like a mere legend or the life of a great man. It does not exactly in the ordinary sense turn our minds to greatness; to those extensions and exaggerations of humanity which are turned into gods and heroes, even by the healthiest sort of hero-worship. It does not exactly work outwards, adventurously, to the wonders to be found at the ends of the earth. It is rather something that surprises us from behind, from the hidden and personal part of our being; like that which can some times take us off our guard in the pathos of small objects or the blind pieties of the poor. It is rather as if a man had found an inner room in the very heart of his own house, which he had never suspected; and seen a light from within. It is as if he found something at the back of his own heart that betrayed him into good. It is not made of what the world would call strong materials; or rather it is made of materials whose strength is in that winged levity with which they brush us and pass. It is all that is in us but a brief tenderness that is there made eternal; all that means no more than a momentary softening that is in some strange fashion become a strengthening and a repose; it is the broken speech and the lost word that are made positive and suspended unbroken; as the strange kings fade into a far country and the mountains resound no more with the feet of the shepherds; and only the night and the cavern lie in fold upon fold over something more human than humanity.”
~G. K. Chesterton

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

An Unusual Romantic

"The believer is not a killjoy. He's in love with life, with all its comforts and all its troubles. The complete [Christian] is a kind of romantic--but a very unusual kind of romantic, because he is also a realist."
~Michael O'Brien

Monday, December 26, 2011

Gospel Canticle

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His Name.

He has mercy on those who fear Him
in every generation.

He has shown the strength of His arm,
He has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of His servant Israel
for He has remembered His promise of mercy,
the promise He made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.
~Luke 1:46-55

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas

"A little Child is born for us today; little and yet called the mighty God, alleluia."

Saturday, December 24, 2011

In the morning...

Today you will know that the Lord is coming,
and in the morning you will see His glory.
~Ex. 16:6-7

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Incarnation

“Just as our unaided eyes cannot look directly into the sun’s brilliant light without our having to close them immediately, being momentarily blinded, so, in a similar way, our understanding is blinded and darkened by the brilliant light and splendor of the mystery of the Incarnation. Our understanding, the eye of our soul, cannot consider this mystery for any length of time without becoming clouded, humbly confessing that it cannot penetrate it deeply enough to understand how God became incarnate in the virginal womb of the Blessed Virgin and how He became one like us to make us like God.”
~St. Frances de Sales

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Good Mess

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don't clean it up too quickly.”
~Andy Rooney

Monday, December 19, 2011

Thy Grandeur

“O my Lord and my God! How stupendous is Thy grandeur! We are like so many foolish peasant lads: we think we know something of Thee, yet it must be comparatively nothing, for there are profound secrets even in ourselves of which we know naught.”
~St. Teresa of Avila

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Setting Out

...What is it that you do here?
...We fall, and we get up again.

In time, even the slowest pilgrim might
articulate a turn. Given time enough,

the slowest pilgrim—even he—might
register some small measure of belated

progress. The road was, more or less, less
compelling than the hut, but as the benefit

of time allowed the hut’s distractions to attain
a vaguely musty scent, and all the novel

knickknacks to acquire a fine veneer of bone-white
dust, the road became then somewhat more

attractive, and as the weather made a timely
if quite brief concession, the pilgrim took this all

to be an open invitation to set out.

~Scott Cairns

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

There must be...

There must be a time of day when the man who
makes plans forgets his plans,
and acts as if he had no plans at all.

There must be a time of day when the man who has
to speak falls very silent.
And his mind forms no more propositions,
and he asks himself:
Did they have a meaning?

There must be a time
when the man of prayer goes to pray
as if it were the first time in his life
he ever prayed,
when the man of resolutions puts his
resolutions aside
as if they had all been broken,
and he learns a different wisdom:

distinguishing the sun from the moon,
the stars from the darkness,
the sea from the dry land,
and the night sky from the shoulder of a hill.
~Thomas Merton

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

His Shattering Presence

“My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of His presence? The Incarnation is the supreme example; it leaves all previous ideas of the Messiah in ruins. And most are ‘offended’ by the iconoclasm; and blessed are those who are not. But the same thing happens in our private prayers.”
~C. S. Lewis

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rejoice

We are preparing ourselves for the days when “the wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.” (Is. 35:1)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Truth made Flesh and the End...

“Perhaps the worst of the ‘demythologizing’ so endemic to our times is the message that the stories of the Christian Faith are merely our version of universal ‘myths’. It is suggested that many cultures have produced tales about a hero who is killed and then returns to life; many more have imagined a cataclysm that will occur at the end of history. G. K. Chesterton once wrote that the demythologizers’ position really adds up to this: since a truth has impressed itself deeply in the imagination of a vast number of ancient peoples, therefore it simply cannot be true. He pointed out that the demythologizer has failed to examine the most important consideration of all: that people of various times and places may have been informed at an intuitive level of actual events that would one day take place in history; that in their inner longings there was a glimmer of light, a presentiment, a yearning forward through the medium of art toward the fullness of Truth that would one day be made flesh in the Incarnation. Saint John’s Revelation is an apocalypse of a higher order. It is genuine prophecy in the sense that it is not merely a work of foretelling, but is a communication from the Lord of history Himself. It is an exhortation, an encouragement, a teaching vehicle, and a vision of actual events that will one day occur.”
~Michael O’Brien

Friday, December 9, 2011

Temptation

“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness — they have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means — the only complete realist.”
~C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Music

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
~Aldous Huxley

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Truth & Light

“...We all of us waste our inheritance of grace, not because we willfully choose to go out and plunge into corruption like the prodigal son (though some of us do). Much of our habit of wasting grace comes from not knowing who we are in the eyes of God. We do not really believe what he tells us about who we are and who he is. Of course, we accept the theological abstractions, we acknowledge on some level the truth of what Jesus tells us, but it does not burn in our hearts. It remains semi-dormant in our heads, and whenever it comes to mind we perhaps think to ourselves, yes, that’s a wonderful truth and isn’t it great to have a good God like this. But it rarely if ever brings us to the point of throwing ourselves into the arms of God. We work hard to prevent ourselves becoming that weak—as weak as a child in desperate need of his father’s mercy. We become that weak whenever life brings us to moments of encounter with physical, emotional, or material failure in the ordinary and extraordinary trials of existence.

...Weakness was forcing us to see our root fear, the root fear of abandonment, the root fear of insufficiency, and the most horrifying fear of all—that maybe God wasn’t really looking after us, maybe he wasn’t what he said he was—a Father. I make bold to say that at the core of every heart this fear is present. Until we faced that fundamental doubt, the light of Christ could not heal it. Human nature builds a wall of protection around the dark little corners of fear inside us. We have all kinds of devices for this, money being the most obvious one. We can pad and buffer our life, distract and entertain ourselves very successfully in this society, filling an entire lifetime with it.
...But all such defenses are only delaying mechanisms.”
~Michael O’Brien

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Day Draws Near

It is now the hour for you to wake from sleep, for our salvation is closer than when we first accepted the faith. The night is far spent; the day draws near. Let us cast off deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
~Romans 13:11-12