Monday, January 30, 2012

My Bed...

"...All night across the dark we steer:
But when the day returns at last,
Safe in my room, beside the pier,
I find my vessel fast."
~Robert Louis Stevenson

Sunday, January 29, 2012

O God Beyond All Praising

O God beyond all praising,
we worship you today
and sing the love amazing
that songs cannot repay;
for we can only wonder
at every gift you send,
at blessings without number
and mercies without end:
we lift our hearts before you
and wait upon your word,
we honor and adore you,
our great and mighty Lord.

Then hear, O gracious Savior,
accept the love we bring,
that we who know your favor
may serve you as our king;
and whether our tomorrows
be filled with good or ill,
we'II triumph through our sorrows
and rise to bless you still:
to marvel at your beauty
and glory in your ways,
and make a joyful duty
our sacrifice of praise.

~Words: Michael Perry & Music: Gustav Holst

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Several from Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that one human soul, any human soul, is worth more than the entire value of the material universe.

“To love God is something greater than to know Him.”

“Human salvation demands the divine disclosure of truths surpassing reason.”

“Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder.”

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary.
To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”

“Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know You, a heart to seek You, wisdom to find You, conduct pleasing to You, faithful perseverance in waiting for You, and a hope of finally embracing You.”

~St. Thomas Aquinas

Thursday, January 26, 2012

True Consciousness

“A person who is ...conscious, who has emancipated himself from his nature and no longer agrees automatically to its suggestions, who is awakened to a sense of his free personal center and of the essential, express, and lasting response which God demands of him, has also cast off his illusions concerning himself. His own being, too, is illuminated by the light of God and he allows that light to penetrate into all corners of his soul. He spreads out his whole life before the face of Christ and suffers no hidden currents of life which have escaped a clear recognition by him and a confrontation with Christ, to be active in him. The spiritual vision, illuminated by Christ, of his central personality clears up all recesses of his being and sees through all illusions. Hence, he leads a unified life—in contrast to unconscious man in whom disparate currents of life can exist side by side without his seeing their essential inconsistency with one another.”
~Dietrich von Hildebrand

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I Know Whom I Have Believed

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.
~2 Timothy 1:8-14

I Know Whom I Have Believed
I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.

Refrain:
But I know Whom I have believèd,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.

I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word
Wrought peace within my heart.

Refrain

I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing us of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word,
Creating faith in Him.

Refrain

I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days,
Before His face I see.

Refrain

I know not when my Lord may come,
At night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
Or meet Him in the air.

Refrain
~Words: Daniel Whittle & Music: James McGranahan

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Without Any Reserve

“There are many who say to the Lord, ‘I give myself wholly to Thee, without any reserve,’ but there are few who embrace the practice of this abandonment, which consists in receiving with a certain indifference every sort of event, as it happens in conformity with Divine Providence, as well afflictions as consolations, contempt and reproaches as honor and glory.”
~St. Francis de Sales

Monday, January 23, 2012

...And Slow to Speak

“Nature itself teaches that this is so, because it has enclosed the tongue by a kind of double door, so that it may not wander freely. Nature has put two sets of doors in front of the tongue, the teeth and the lips, to indicate that no word should go forth without great care.
The man who said:

I have set a watch on my mouth, and a door round about my lips, [Ps 141.3]

closed those two doors discreetly.”
~St. Anthony of Padua

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Desire

“Desire is often talked about as something we ought to overcome. Still, being is desiring: our bodies, our minds, our hearts, and our souls are full of desires. Some are unruly, turbulent, and very distracting; some make us think deep thoughts and see great visions; some teach us how to love; and some keep us searching for God. Our desire for God is the desire that should guide all other desires. Otherwise our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls become one another’s enemies and our inner lives become chaotic, leading us to despair and self-destruction.

Spiritual disciplines are not ways to eradicate all our desires but ways to order them so that they can serve one another and together serve God.”
~Henri Nouwen

Thursday, January 19, 2012

from Diary of an Old Soul (again)

Not, Lord, because I have done well or ill;
Not that my mind looks up to thee clear-eyed;
Not that it struggles in fast cerements tied;
Not that I need thee daily sorer still;
Not that I wretched, wander from thy will;
Not now for any cause to thee I cry,
But this, that thou art thou, and here am I.
~George MacDonald

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

from Diary of an Old Soul

Thy fishes breathe but where thy waters roll;
Thy birds fly but within thy airy sea;
My soul breathes only in thy infinite soul;
I breathe, I think, I love, I live but thee.
Oh breathe, oh think,—O Love, live into me;
Unworthy is my life till all divine,
Till thou see in me only what is thine.
~George MacDonald

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Believing the Impossible

"In literal terms the Annunciation can only confound us. But the whole story of Jesus is confounding to the literal-minded. It might be a good idea if, like the White Queen, we practiced believing six impossible things every morning before breakfast, for we are called on to believe what to many people is impossible. Instead of rejoicing in this glorious 'impossible' which gives meaning and dignity to our lives, we try to domesticate God, to make His mighty actions comprehensible to our finite minds. It is not that the power to understand is not available to us; it is; He has promised it. But it is a power far greater than the power stations for our greatest cities, and we find it easier not to get too close to it because we know that this power can kill as well as illuminate."
~Madeleine L'Engle

Monday, January 16, 2012

General Virtues

"...There are some virtues of such general utility as not only to require an exercise of themselves apart but also to communicate their qualities to the practice of other virtues. Occasions are seldom presented for the exercise of fortitude, magnanimity, and magnificence, but meekness, temperance, modesty, and humility are virtues wherewith all the actions of our life should be tempered. It is true there are other virtues more agreeable, but the use of these is more necessary. Sugar is more agreeable than salt but the use of salt is more necessary and general. Therefore we must constantly have a good store of these general virtues in readiness, since we stand in need of them almost continually..."
~St. Francis de Sales

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Moral Dilemma (Part 2)

     “The commandant spots you in the crowd. He knows you are a Christian. He knows you do not sin. He despises your little code of ethics that he believes to be founded only on superstition, but he thinks those superstitions might be useful to him. He comes to you and asks if you know who took the bread.
     Now the temptation becomes immediate, personal, proposing new subtleties. Of course, you cannot say who the guilty one is, for that would kill him. Now the wrestling of conscience grows intense, and very confused. It is not a matter of careful thought; it is a struggle of spirits, forms, wordless meanings screaming in your confused mind. Only a little scrap of will holds firm.
     You wonder if you should give him the only thing you can give. Should you say, ‘Yes, I know who took the bread’? That would be the truth, would it not? Would there be a lie in it?
     Now all eyes are turned to you. The commandant bellows at you. He demands to know the thief’s identity. You are silent. They can break you—they can make you tell, if they decide to torture you—but for the moment you have the power of silence. ‘Speak!’ he shouts, and slaps you hard in the face. Now you are shaking in every limb; fear is a fire scorching you from within. You try to pray, but it is almost impossible to pray, for every element of your humanity is overwhelmed by fright.
     ‘If you will not speak,’ says the commandant, ‘then at least point out the thief to me.’
     Still you are silent. What to do? They could easily kill you for your silence. Why should you, you who are innocent, pay for the sin of the thief? You shake; you do not know what to do; you are about to open your mouth.
     Suddenly, a man steps forward from the crowd. Not the thief. Another man. He comes before the commandant. He points to his own heart.
     ‘So, you are the thief!’ screams the commandant.
     Once again the man points to his own heart.
     Everyone is stunned. Who would have believed it of him, for he is the best, the strongest, and the humblest of the zeks. It is unthinkable that such a man would steal. Even in the camps, where starving men have a moral right to steal bread without guilt, this is one who is scrupulously honest. Never would he let a fellow zek be shot for his crime! And yet one has just been shot. Only you and the real thief know he is innocent.
     Everyone is confounded. The zeks are perplexed. The commandant is uncertain. The guards are confused. You can see the doubt on every face: Not him? Surely not this one? The silence becomes unbearable. No one is able to break it. At this moment, which for prisoners and jailers alike is the very axis of history, anything said would have completely exposed their souls. All eyes drop to the ground.
     Finally, because he is a man of power and burdened with responsibility, the commandant looks up. He gestures to a guard; then he gives the word of command, and the guard drives the butt of his gun into the face of the prisoner. He collapses to the ground. He is struck again and again. Blows from the rifle, kicks, punches. Other guards join in the beating. When the man is a heap of pulp, they drag him away, leaving a bloody trail. This trail crosses the river of blood spilled by the first man. A cross is now written in the snow.”
~Michael O’Brien

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Moral Dilemma (Part 1)

     “...Let us say that you are a prisoner in a camp. It is the middle of Siberian winter. Each year many men in your barracks die of exposure to the weather or from brutality, sickness, and hunger. There is never enough food. Men are worked to death—death by physical exhaustion, death by exhaustion of the spirit, death by absolute demoralization. Despair kills as effectively as the bullet and the virus, and more dreadfully, for it corrupts the soul as well.
     Let us say that in your camp, the camp where Aleksandr Graham is a zek, there has been a theft of bread. One of the zeks steals a quarter kilo from the kitchen. You see him do it. You know who he is. You say nothing to him, but the knowledge is now lodged permanently in your memory. The guards measure everything to the smallest gram. They know that the bread is missing. Such theft is punishable by death. They conduct an investigation. Now comes the first level of temptation: they offer a double ration of bread to whoever informs on the thief. Although you are starving, this is not so difficult to resist. It is not even a question because you know you cannot kill a man unjustly, and certainly not for an extra bit of food in your stomach.
     Then comes the second level of temptation: the guards declare that unless the thief is turned over to them, one of the zeks will be chosen at random and executed. Ah, now the moral problem becomes more complex. Your silence will condemn a man to death, almost certainly an innocent man. You wrestle with this more than you did with the first temptation. You hear the arguments rage in your thoughts—remember that when you are hungry and exhausted, it is very difficult to think clearly. Even so, it does not take long for you to see that the authorities want to trick you into preserving life by taking life. They want you to participate in their evil. But you realize that you cannot let the system turn you into an extension of their apparatus.
     No one comes forward. Now they pull a man from the huddled group of prisoners and throw him to the ground. You know he is not the thief. You stand paralyzed as they shoot him in the head. Blood spills out onto the snow. A pool of it spreads toward you. The loud report of the gun, your own terror, your agony of mind—it all combines, and suddenly you are no longer sure of anything so finely tuned as a moral nuance. You say to yourself, Surely his blood is on my head. Did my silence kill him?
     Now they pull a second man from the crowd and throw him to his knees. A guard puts a gun to the man’s temple. The man’s eyes are open wide, staring at the ground, staring at the end of everything, at the annihilation of hope. He is an animal searching desperately inside himself for a scrap of manhood. His eyes—oh, his eyes are the most terrible thing you have ever seen.
     You know who the thief is. You know he is standing only a few paces away from you, hiding in anonymity. He too has become no more than an animal in a herd of frightened animals. You plead with him silently to be a man again, to give himself up. He does not move. He does not speak...”

To be continued...

~Michael O’Brien

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fruitful Self-Knowledge

“The only fruitful self-knowledge, and the only true one, is that which grows out of a man’s self-confrontation with God. We must first look at God and His immeasurable glory, and then put the question: ‘Who art Thou, and who am I?’ We must speak with St. Augustine: ‘Could I but know Thee, I should know myself.’ It is only in recognition of our metaphysical situation, only in awareness of our destiny and our vocation that we can become truly cognizant of ourselves. Only the light of God and His challenge to us can open our eyes to all our shortcomings and deficiencies, impressing upon us the discrepancy between what we ought to be and what we are. Contemplation of one’s own self in this light is animated by a profound earnestness; it is vastly different from all species of a neutral and purely psychological self-analysis.

...Self-knowledge in this sense presupposes the readiness to change. We take an interest in what we are because we are determined to become new men in Christ. Here is no place for idle curiosity, nor for the egoistic fixation on oneself as a paramount theme. It is for the sake of God that we would become better men; and because we would become so we inquire about our present state and condition.

...[The person seeking fruitful self-knowledge] knows that he can accomplish nothing through his own power but everything in Christ.

Not by his own force shall he span the abyss that yawns between him and God: Christ shall carry him over, if he is willing to follow Him without reserve. By His light, there is no darkness that cannot be dispelled, nay, even changed into radiating brightness. ‘Darkness shall not be dark to Thee, and night shall be light as the day’ (Ps. 139:12).”
~Dietrich von Hildebrand

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Baptism of the Lord

“The soldier baptizes the king, the slave his Lord, John baptizes his Saviour. The waters of the Jordan are astonished, the dove appears as a sign, the voice of the Father declares: ‘This is my Son.’”
~From an old book of prayers (author unknown)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Giving of one's life...

“People who suffer have something to offer God. When they succeed in enduring their suffering, that is a daily miracle.”

“Do not seek to have these trials lifted from you. Instead, ask for the grace to bear them well.”

“God chose the most ignorant one. If there was anyone more ignorant than I am, God would have chosen him instead of me.”
~St. André Bessette

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What Does Love Mean?

“Love is what’s with you in the living room on Christmas morning when you stop opening your presents all of a sudden and just listen to the air.”
~Robert (Age 7)

“Love is when my grandma got arthritis really bad and so she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandpa does it for her now even though he has had arthritis longer than she has.”
~Rebecca (Age 8)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Amen

"...any fool knows that you don't need money to get enjoyment out of life."
~Thomas Merton

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
~Alfred, Lord Tennyson