Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Evening

Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;
And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?

~G. K. Chesterton

Monday, December 30, 2013

Put on the Humility of God

"See, we are headed toward great things. Let us take advantage of the little things and we will become great. Do you want to reach the heights of God? Take hold first of the humility of God.

Put on the humility of God. Put on the humility of Christ. Learn to be humble; do not grow proud (Sermon 117, 17)."

"...If you should ask me what are the ways of God, I would tell you that the first is humility, the second is humility , and the third is still humility. Not that there are no other precepts to give, but if humility does not precede all that we do, our efforts are fruitless..."

"Mere human being that you are, why are you proud? God became humble for your sake! Perhaps you would be ashamed to imitate a humble man; then at least imitate a humble God. The Son of God came as a man and became humble.

Your whole humility consists in knowing yourself. Pride does its own will; humility does the will of God (Sermon on John 25, 16)."

"Alas for me, O Lord, how high You are in the heights, and how deep in the depths! Nowhere do You withdraw, yet we scarcely return to You! (Confessions 8, 3)."
~St. Augustine

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Once In Royal David’s City

Once in royal David’s city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her Baby
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little Child.

He came down to earth from Heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall;
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Savior holy.

And, through all His wondrous childhood,
He would honor and obey,
Love and watch the lowly maiden,
In whose gentle arms He lay:
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as He.

For He is our childhood’s pattern;
Day by day, like us He grew;
He was little, weak and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us He knew;
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness.

And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love,
For that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in Heav’n above,
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone.

~Words: Ce­cil Al­ex­an­der & Music: Hen­ry Gaunt­lett

Friday, December 27, 2013

Cardinals

Rubies in the snow,
berry beaks.
Twelve cardinals in my snowy backyard.
Six pairs!

You are friends now, companions.
But when the snow melts,
when your colors fade a little,
when it’s nesting time?

I remember two red enemies last spring,
chasing, chasing each other through
my obstacle-course backyard.
Over the fence. Under the maple.
Around the house. Into the alley.
A two-week-long tournament to win this territory.

But when the nesting is done, the babies grown,
when leaves turn the colors of cardinals?
You are friends again,
companions for the lonely winter.

~Sallie Wolf

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Fear Not

“Fear not, then,” said the angel, “Let nothing you afright
This day is born a Savior of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him from Satan’s power and might.”

O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.

~Words & Music: Unknown – Traditional English

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day!

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

~Words: John Wade & Music: John Wade, John Reading, or Simao Portogallo

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

“This is the night,
The immense night of origins,
And nothing exists except love,
Except love which now begins.
By separating sand from water,
God has prepared the earth
Like a cradle
For His coming from above.

This is the night,
The happy night of Palestine,
And nothing exists except the Child,
Except the Child of life divine.
By taking flesh of our flesh,
God our desert did refresh
And made a land
Of boundless spring.”

~From Ancient Christmas Eve Liturgy

Monday, December 23, 2013

And Glory Shone Around...

“All glory be to God on high,
And to the Earth be peace;
Good will henceforth from Heaven to men
Begin and never cease,
Begin and never cease!”

~Words: Nahum Tate & Music: George F. Handel

Sunday, December 22, 2013

O Come, Divine Messiah

O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

Dear Savior haste;
Come, come to earth,
Dispel the night and show Your face,
And bid us hail the dawn of grace.

~Words: Simon Pellegrin & Music: 16th Century French Carol

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Come Down

“Drop down dew from above, you heavens, and let the clouds rain down the Just One; let the earth be opened and bring forth a Savior.”
(based on Isaiah 45:8)

“When You were born ineffably of the Virgin, the Scriptures were fulfilled. As dew upon the fleece, You came down to save mankind: we praise You, O our God.”
~from an old prayer

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Ancient of Days

A child sits in a sunny place,
Too happy for a smile,
And plays through one long holiday
With balls to roll and pile;
A painted wind-mill by his side,
Runs like a merry tune,
But the sails are the four great winds of heaven,
And the balls are the sun and moon.

A staring doll's-house shows to him
Green floors and starry rafter,
And many-coloured graven dolls
Live for his lonely laughter.
The dolls have crowns and aureoles,
Helmets and horns and wings,
For they are the saints and seraphim,
The prophets and the kings.

~G. K. Chesterton

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Star Carol

Long years ago on a deep winter night,
High in the heav'ns a star shone bright,
While in a manger a wee baby lay,
Sweetly asleep on a bed of hay.

Jesus the Lord was that baby so small,
Laid down to sleep in a humble stall;
Then came the star and it stood overhead,
shedding its light 'round His little bed.

Dear baby Jesus, how tiny Thou art,
I'll make a place for Thee in my heart,
And when the stars in the heavens I see,
Ever and always I think of Thee.

~Wihla Hutson & Alfred Burt

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Advent

‘Come,’ Thou dost say to Angels,
To blessed Spirits, ‘Come’:
‘Come,’ to the lambs of Thine own flock,
Thy little ones, ‘Come home.’

‘Come,’ from the many-mansioned house
The gracious word is sent;
‘Come,’ from the ivory palaces
Unto the Penitent.

O Lord, restore us deaf and blind,
Unclose our lips though dumb:
Then say to us, ‘I will come with speed,’
And we will answer, ‘Come.’

~Christina Rossetti

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Winter Is Cold, Is Cold

The winter is cold, is cold.
All’s spent in keeping warm.
Has joy been frozen, too?
I blow upon my hands
Stiff from the biting wind.
My heart beats slow, beats slow.
What has become of joy?

If joy’s gone from my heart
Then it is closed to You
Who made it, gave it life.
If I protect myself
I’m hiding, Lord, from you.
How we defend ourselves
In ancient suits of mail!

Protected from the sword,
Shrinking from the wound,
We look for happiness,
Small, safety-seeking, dulled,
Selfish, exclusive, in-turned.
Elusive, evasive, peace comes
Only when it’s not sought.

Help me forget the cold
That grips the grasping world.
Let me stretch out my hands
To purifying fire,
Clutching fingers uncurled.
Look! Here is the melting joy.
My heart beats once again.

~Madeleine L’Engle

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christ, Whose Glory Fills The Skies

Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
Christ, the true, the only Light,
Sun of Righteousness, arise,
Triumph o’er the shades of night;
Dayspring from on high, be near;
Day-star, in my heart appear.

Dark and cheerless is the morn
Unaccompanied by Thee;
Joyless is the day’s return
Till Thy mercy’s beams I see;
Till they inward light impart,
Glad my eyes, and warm my heart.

Visit then this soul of mine,
Pierce the gloom of sin and grief;
Fill me, Radiancy divine,
Scatter all my unbelief;
More and more Thyself display,
Shining to the perfect day.
~Words: Charles Wesley & Music: Jo­hann Wer­ner

Saturday, December 14, 2013

12/14 - Remembering Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT

“The priest accompanied the dead girl to her grave. He wanted to wear a white chasuble, but according to church law, white robes are only for children under six. Snow suddenly began to fall during the burial, and the priest walked all in white.”
~Anna Kamienska

Friday, December 13, 2013

Delighted and astonished every morning

“As a child I was faced with a phenomenon requiring explanation. I hung up at the end of my bed an empty stocking, which in the morning became a full stocking. I had done nothing to produce the things that filled it. I had not worked for them, or made them or helped to make them. I had not even been good – far from it.

And the explanation was that a certain being whom people called Santa Claus was benevolently disposed toward me. . . . What we believed was that a certain benevolent agency did give us those toys for nothing. And, as I say, I believe it still. I have merely extended the idea.

...[As a child] I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void.

...Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking. Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself...”
~G. K. Chesterton

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Expected Guest

Come, O Lord, and do not delay. Let us make straight His path...The Lord is soon to arrive. If we are aware that our sight is clouded and that we don’t see clearly the radiance emanating from Bethlehem, from the infant Jesus, it is time to rid ourselves of whatever impairs our vision. Now is the time for a specially good examination of conscience and for a thorough interior purification which will befit us to receive and to welcome that expected guest who is God. It is the moment to take note of the things that separate us from Him, to loosen their hold and cast them from us. Our examination, then, must penetrate to the very roots of our actions and scrutinize deep down in our hearts the motives which inspire our actions.”
~Francis Fernandez

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

That Holy Thing


(Picture found here)

They all were looking for a king
   To slay their foes and lift them high;
Thou cam’st, a little baby thing
   That made a woman cry.

O Son of Man, to right my lot
   Naught but Thy presence can avail;
Yet on the road Thy wheels are not,
   Nor on the sea Thy sail!

My how or when Thou wilt not heed,
   But come down Thine own secret stair,
That Thou may’st answer all my need-
   Yea, every bygone prayer.
~George MacDonald

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

This Advent

“We are God’s creative works in process. God alone knows what we shall become. What might He have in store in the fullness of our time? In the beginning, God created Light. In Mary, God became flesh. What will God become in us this Advent?”
~Thomas Hoffman

Monday, December 9, 2013

Do not keep from Him

“Seek His face who ever dwells in real and bodily presence in His Church. Do at least as much as what the disciples did. They had but little faith, they feared, they had not any great confidence and peace, but at least they did not keep away from Christ. They did not sit still sullenly, but they came to Him. Alas, our very best state is not higher than the Apostles' worst state. Our Lord blamed them as having little faith, because they cried out to Him. I wish we Christians of this day did as much as this. I wish we went as far as to cry out to Him in alarm. I wish we had only as much faith and hope as that which Christ thought so little in His first disciples. At least imitate the apostles in their weakness, if you can't imitate them in their strength. If you can't act as saints, at least act as Christians. Do not keep from Him, but, when you are in trouble, come to Him day by day asking Him earnestly and perseveringly for those favours which He alone can give. And as He on this occasion spoken of in the Gospel, blamed indeed the disciples, but did for them what they asked, so, (we will trust in His great mercy), though He discerns much infirmity in you which ought not to be there, yet He will deign to rebuke the winds and the sea, and say ‘Peace, be still,’ and there will be a great calm.”
~John Henry Newman

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns

The King shall come when morning dawns,
And light triumphant breaks;
When beauty gilds the eastern hills,
And life to joy awakes.

Not as of old a little child
To bear, and fight, and die,
But crowned with glory like the sun
That lights the morning sky.

The King shall come when morning dawns,
And earth’s dark night is past;
O haste the rising of that morn,
The day that aye shall last.

And let the endless bliss begin,
By weary saints foretold,
When right shall triumph over wrong,
And truth shall be extolled.

The King shall come when morning dawns,
And light and beauty brings:
Hail, Christ the Lord! Thy people pray,
Come quickly, King of kings.

~Words: Unknown Author (translated from Greek to English by John Brownlie) & Music: William Jones

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Seeking a Homeland


Abraham Journeying Into the Land of Canaan by Gustave Doré - found here

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city.
~Hebrews 11:8-16

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I Wonder As I Wander

I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die.
For poor on'ry people like you and like I...
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

When Mary birthed Jesus 'twas in a cow's stall,
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all.
But high from God's heaven a star's light did fall,
And the promise of ages it then did recall.

If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing,
A star in the sky, or a bird on the wing,
Or all of God's angels in heav'n for to sing,
He surely could have it, 'cause he was the King.

~Written by folklorist and singer John Jacob Niles. The hymn has its origins in a song fragment collected by Niles on July 16, 1933.

Story behind the song:
While in the town of Murphy in Appalachian North Carolina, Niles attended a fundraising meeting held by traveling evangelicals who had been ordered out of town by the police. In his unpublished autobiography, he wrote of hearing the song:

    “A girl had stepped out to the edge of the little platform attached to the automobile. She began to sing. Her clothes were unbelievable dirty and ragged, and she, too, was unwashed. Her ash-blond hair hung down in long skeins.... But, best of all, she was beautiful, and in her untutored way, she could sing. She smiled as she sang, smiled rather sadly, and sang only a single line of a song.”

The girl, named Annie Morgan, repeated the fragment seven times in exchange for a quarter per performance, and Niles left with “three lines of verse, a garbled fragment of melodic material—and a magnificent idea”. (In various accounts of this story, Niles hears between one and three lines of the song.) Based on this fragment, Niles composed the version of “I Wonder as I Wander” that is known today, extending the melody to four lines and the lyrics to three stanzas. His composition was completed on October 4, 1933. It was originally published in Songs of the Hill Folk in 1934.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Wonder_as_I_Wander)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fire of Advent

“Advent, like its cousin Lent, is a season for prayer and reformation of our hearts. Since it comes at winter time, fire is a fitting sign to help us celebrate Advent...If Christ is to come more fully into our lives this Christmas, if God is to become really incarnate for us, then fire will have to be present in our prayer. Our worship and devotion will have to stoke the kind of fire in our souls that can truly change our hearts. Ours is a great responsibility not to waste this Advent time.”
~Edward Hays

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

...for he shall enjoy everything

“It is commonly in a somewhat cynical sense that men have said, ‘Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall not be disappointed.’ It was in a wholly happy and enthusiastic sense that St. Francis [of Assisi] said, ‘Blessed is he who expecteth nothing, for he shall enjoy everything.’ It was by this deliberate idea of starting from zero, from the dark nothingness of his own deserts, that he did come to enjoy even earthly things as few people have enjoyed them; and they are in themselves the best working example of the idea. For there is no way in which a man can earn a star or deserve a sunset. But there is more than this involved, and more indeed than is easily to be expressed in words. It is not only true that the less a man thinks of himself, the more he thinks of his good luck and of all the gifts of God. It is also true that he sees more of the things themselves when he sees more of their origin; for their origin is a part of them and indeed the most important part of them. Thus they become more extraordinary by being explained.”
~G. K. Chesterton

Monday, November 25, 2013

Retirement of the Heart

“Be sure then, my child, that while externally occupied with business and social duties, you frequently retire within the solitude of your own heart. That solitude need not be in any way hindered by the crowds which surround you—they surround your body, not your soul, and your heart remains alone in the Sole Presence of God. This is what David sought after amid his manifold labours;—the Psalms are full of such expressions as ‘Lord, I am ever with Thee. The Lord is always at my right hand. I lift up mine eyes to Thee, O Thou Who dwellest in the heavens. Mine eyes look unto God.’

There are few social duties of sufficient importance to prevent an occasional retirement of the heart into this sacred solitude...”
~St. Francis de Sales

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Supremacy of the Son of God

Brothers and sisters:
Let us give thanks to the Father,
who has made you fit to share
in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.
He delivered us from the power of darkness
and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation.
For in Him were created all things in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;
all things were created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things,
and in Him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in all things He Himself might be preeminent.
For in Him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,
and through Him to reconcile all things for Him,
making peace by the blood of His cross
through Him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.
~Colossians 1:12-20

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Beauty of Creation Bears Witness to God

Question the beauty of the earth,
the beauty of the sea,
the beauty of the wide air around you,
the beauty of the sky;

question the order of the stars,
the sun whose brightness lights the day,
the moon whose splendor softens the gloom of night;

question the living creatures that move in the waters,
that roam upon the earth,
that fly through the air;
the spirit that lies hidden,
the matter that is manifest;
the visible things that are ruled,
the invisible things that rule them;
question all these.

They will answer you:
“Behold and see, we are beautiful.”

Their beauty is their confession of God.

These beauties are subject to change.
Who made them if not the Beautiful One
who changeth not?
~St. Augustine

Friday, November 22, 2013

C. S. Lewis

Clive Staples Lewis
November 29, 1898 - November 22, 1963

Mere Christianity put the nail in the coffin of my adolescent atheism. The common-sensical clarity with which [C. S. Lewis] expounded classical Christian orthodoxy, and particularly the Natural Law tradition, convinced me of the credibility of Theistic belief, and the essential complementarity between faith and reason. The luminous lucidity of Lewis's logic, is the perennial power of his prose. His ability to write simply yet profoundly and un-condescendingly, continues to give a wide audience access to intelligent and compelling arguments for Christianity, and in a way that remains as relevant and exemplary to contemporary apologetics as ever. The writings of C. S. Lewis remain what they have long been: the best introduction to Christian thought for those who honestly and rationally seek after truth.”
~Peter Williams

Excerpts from Mere Christianity:
“Remember that, as I said, the right direction leads not only to peace but to knowledge. When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right. This is common sense, really. You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them. You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk. Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.”
~C. S. Lewis (re-posted)

“[Christ] told us to be not only ‘as harmless as doves,’ but also ‘as wise as serpents.’ He wants a child's heart, but a grown-up's head. He wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate, and teachable, as good as children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim.”
~C. S. Lewis

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Consider Him

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

3 Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
~Hebrews 12:1-4

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Starvation of Wonder

“Our culture has filled our heads but emptied our hearts, stuffed our wallets but starved our wonder. It has fed our thirst for facts but not for meaning or mystery. It produces ‘nice’ people, not heroes. Beauty, and the love and wonder and fascination it elicits, is an essential human need. It is not an ornament.”
~Peter Kreeft

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Like the Fall

How like the fall
To be gone in a day
Just as the leaves had turned gold
I was drawn to the sound
That the wind carried down
From an open window pane
And oh, how like a song
Or a sad melody
To linger long after the end
And the harmony rings
With the promise of spring
On a Brooklyn street

~Gordon Sumner & Kenny Kirkland

Monday, November 18, 2013

Chains of Fire

Each dawn, kneeling before my hearth,
Placing stick, crossing stick
On dry eucalyptus bark
Now the larger boughs, the log
(With thanks to the tree for its life)
Touching the match, waiting for creeping flame.
I know myself linked by chains of fire
To every person who has kept a hearth
In the resinous smoke
I smell hut and castle and cave,
Mansion and hovel.
See in the shifting flame my sisters and brothers out over the world
~Elsa Gidlow

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Unreasonable Virtues

“...charity means pardoning what is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all. Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all. And faith means believing the incredible, or it is no virtue at all.”
~G. K. Chesterton

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Autumn Lessons

Fall is in the air.
And as I witness its signs,
as I touch it and smell it,
feel it and breathe it in,
I think about dying and rising,
shedding and new births,
letting go,
and trusting in fertile seeds,
submitting to the flow of the cosmos
with hope in the promise
of future life renewed.

I can see truth,
all that is real,
all that is constant,
in the depths of our existence.
You see,
nature is a dynamic teacher,
`tho I seldom give her
my listening ear.

Even now,
I look out at the leaves,
playfully scattered
across our grounds.
I look at the trees,
not quite so elaborately dressed
as they were last April.

And I know that I too must do my
homework,
and learn my lesson well.
I, too, must shed some
and die some.
I, too, must let go
and submit to the grace
of God’s mysterious ways.

Jesus, call me to see
the dawning of a new day
in the deep recesses of my heart.

~Barbara DeStefano

Friday, November 15, 2013

Photographs



“Photographs don’t discriminate between the living and the dead. In the fragments of time and shards of light that compose them, everyone is equal. Now you see us; now you don’t. It doesn’t matter whether you look through a camera lens and press the shutter. It doesn’t even matter whether you open your eyes or close them. The pictures are always there. And so are the people in them.”
~Robert Goddard
  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Soul

“The spirit shall return unto God, who gave it.” Eccles. xii. 7

“Here we are told that upon death the spirit of man returns to God. The sacred writer is not speaking of good men only, or of God's chosen people, but of men generally. In the case of all men, the soul, when severed from the body, returns to God. God gave it: He made it, He sent it into the body, and He upholds it there; He upholds it in distinct existence, wherever it is. It animates the body while life lasts; it returns again, it relapses into the unseen state upon death.

...But what is the truth? why, that every being in that great concourse is his own centre and all things about him are but shades, but a ‘vain shadow,’ in which he ‘walketh and disquieteth himself in vain.’ He has his own hopes and fears, desires, judgments, and aims; he is everything to himself, and no one else is really any thing. No one outside of him can really touch him, can touch his soul, his immortality; he must live with himself for ever. He has a depth within him unfathomable, an infinite abyss of existence; and the scene in which he bears part for the moment is but like a gleam of sunshine upon its surface.

...I say immortal souls: each of those multitudes, not only had while he was upon earth, but has a soul, which did in its own time but return to God who gave it, and not perish, and which now lives unto Him. All those millions upon millions of human beings who ever trod the earth and saw the sun successively, are at this very moment in existence...

...it is difficult, as I have said it is, to realize that all who ever lived still live...

...How blessed would it be, if we really understood this! What a change it would produce in our thoughts, unless we were utterly reprobate, to understand what and where we are,—accountable beings on their trial, with God for their friend and the devil for their enemy, and advanced a certain way on their road either to heaven or to hell.

...Endeavour then, my brethren, to realize that you have souls, and pray God to enable you to do so. Endeavour to disengage your thoughts and opinions from the things that are seen; look at things as God looks at them...”
~John Henry Newman (Excerpts from: Parochial and Plain Sermons, Volume 4, Sermon 6, “The Individuality of the Soul”)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Love

Deep waters cannot quench love,
    nor floods sweep it away.
Were one to offer all he owns to purchase love,
    he would be roundly mocked.
~Song of Songs 8:7

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Divine Arm

“It is seldom we have the heart to throw ourselves, if I may so speak, on the Divine Arm; we dare not trust ourselves on the waters, though Christ bids us. We have not St. Peter's love to ask leave to come to Him upon the sea. When we once are filled with that heavenly charity, we can do all things, because we attempt all things - for to attempt is to do.”
~John Henry Newman

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran’s Day - Be Humble


D-Day - Normandy

“Typical of the ‘Greatest Generation’ is the story of a son or daughter who finds a war medal stashed in the attic after their father passes, he having never told them about it. Even if their exploits had been brave and heroic, the ‘Greatest Generation’ rarely talked about the war, both because of the difficulty in remembering such carnage, but also from the sense that they had simply been fulfilling their duty, and thus had no reason to brag.

[Tom] Brokaw observes: ‘The World War II generation did what was expected of them. But they never talked about it. It was part of the Code. There’s no more telling metaphor than a guy in a football game who does what’s expected of him-makes an open-field tackle-then gets up and dances around. When Jerry Kramer threw the block that won the Ice Bowl in ’67, he just got up and walked off the field.’”
~Brett and Kate McKay
 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Church’s One Foundation

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

She is from every nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.

The Church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish,
Is with her to the end:
Though there be those who hate her,
And false sons in her pale,
Against both foe or traitor
She ever shall prevail.

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed:
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song!

’Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Till, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won,
With all her sons and daughters
Who, by the Master’s hand
Led through the deathly waters,
Repose in Eden land.

O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with Thee:
There, past the border mountains,
Where in sweet vales the Bride
With Thee by living fountains
Forever shall abide!

~Words: Samuel Stone & Music: Samuel Wesley

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Forgiving

“The more a man knows, the more he forgives.”
~Catherine the Great

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Holy Spirit

“The Spirit comes gently and makes Himself known by His fragrance. He is not felt as a burden, for He is light, very light. Rays of light and knowledge stream before Him as He approaches. The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend and protector to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console.”
~St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Enthusiasms

“Hang on to your youthful enthusiasms -- you will be able to use them better when you are older.”
~Seneca the Younger

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hymn



Lord, God, Your light which dims the stars
Awakes all things,
And all that springs to life in You
Your glory sings.

Your peaceful presence, giving strength,
Is everywhere,
And fallen men may rise again
On wings of prayer.

You are the God whose mercy rests
On all You made;
You gave us Christ, whose love through death
Our ransom paid.

We praise You, Father, with Your Son
And Spirit blest,
In whom creation lives and moves,
And finds its rest.
~Stanbrook Abbey Hymnal
 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Power of Prayer

“I strongly suspect that if we saw all the difference even the tiniest of our prayers to God make, and all the people those little prayers were destined to affect, and all the consequences of those effects down through the centuries, we would be so paralyzed with awe at the power of prayer that we would be unable to get up off our knees for the rest of our lives.”
~Peter Kreeft

Monday, November 4, 2013

Do something, do it well

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.
~Oscar Romero

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Saints

“There are no real personalities apart from God. Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self. Sameness is to be found most among the most 'natural' men, not among those who surrender to Christ. How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerers have been; how gloriously different are the saints.

But there must be a real giving up of the self. You must throw it away 'blindly' so to speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality; but you must not go to Him for the sake of that. As long as your own personality is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all. The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether. Your real, new self (which is Christ's and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him...Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ, and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”
~C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

He came to heal . . .

“The Lord did not come to make a display. He came to heal and to teach suffering men. For one who wanted to make a display the thing would have been just to appear and dazzle the beholders. But for Him Who came to heal and to teach the way was not merely to dwell here, but to put Himself at the disposal of those who needed Him, and to be manifested according as they could bear it, not vitiating the value of the Divine appearing by exceeding their capacity to receive it.”
~St. Athanasius

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

In the Stormy Seas

“You must not abandon the ship in a storm because you cannot control the winds... What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can.”

“Nothing can come except what God wills. And I make me very sure that whatsoever that be, even if nothing has ever appeared so bad, it shall indeed be the best... I never intend, God being my good Lord, to pin my soul to another man's back, not even the best man that I know this day living; for I know not where he may hap to carry it.”
(To his daughter, in prison 1534)

“I will not mistrust [God], though I shall feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear... I trust He shall place His holy hand on me and in the stormy seas hold me up from drowning.”
~St. Thomas More

Monday, October 28, 2013

Psalm 32

Happy the man whose offense is forgiven,
whose sin is remitted.
O happy the man to whom the Lord
imputes no guilt, in whose spirit is no guile.

I kept it secret and my frame was wasted.
I groaned all day long,
for night and day your hand was heavy upon me.
Indeed my strength was dried up
as by the summer's heat.

But now I have acknowledged my sins;
my guilt I did not hide.
I said: "I will confess
my offense to the Lord."
And you, Lord, have forgiven
the guilt of my sin.

So let every good man pray to you
in the time of need.
The floods of water may reach high
but him they shall not reach.
You are my hiding place, O Lord;
you save me from distress.
You surround me with cries of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you
the way you should go;
I will give you counsel
with my eye upon you.

Be not like horse and mule, unintelligent,
needing bridle and bit else they will not approach you.
Many sorrows has the wicked
but he who trusts in the Lord,
loving mercy surrounds him.

Rejoice, rejoice in the Lord,
exult, you just!
O come, ring out your joy,
all you upright of heart.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sing with All the Saints in Glory

Sing with all the saints in glory,
sing the resurrection song!
Death and sorrow, earth's dark story,
to the former days belong.
All around the clouds are breaking,
soon the storms of time shall cease;
in God's likeness we, awaking,
know the everlasting peace.

O what glory, far exceeding
all that eye has yet perceived!
Holiest hearts, for ages pleading,
never that full joy conceived.
God has promised, Christ prepares it,
there on high our welcome waits.
Every humble spirit shares it;
Christ has passed th'eternal gates.

Life eternal! heaven rejoices;
Jesus lives, who once was dead.
Join we now the deathless voices;
child of God, lift up your head!
Patriarchs from the distant ages,
saints all longing for their heaven,
prophets, psalmists, seers, and sages,
all await the glory given.

Life eternal! O what wonders
crowd on faith; what joy unknown,
when, amidst earth's closing thunders,
saints shall stand before the throne!
O to enter that bright portal,
see that glowing firmament;
know, with thee, O God Immortal,
"Jesus Christ whom thou has sent!"

~Words: William Irons  & Music: Ludwig von Beethoven

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Unknown

“If you wish to learn and appreciate something worth while, then love to be unknown and considered as nothing. . . . To think of oneself as nothing, and always to think well and highly of others is the best and most perfect wisdom. Wherefore, if you see another sin openly or commit a serious crime, do not consider yourself better, for you do not know how long you can remain in good estate. All men are frail, but you must admit that none is more frail than yourself.”
~Thomas à Kempis

Friday, October 25, 2013

a poem


(Photo by Remo Savisaar)

I woke up the Pharisee today.

Looking out my kitchen window I breathe, the autumn leaves comfort my soul as they fall the old and incubate the new. I wash my hands clean in the bowl of my righteousness: my hidden closet prayers, my undisclosed alms towards the fatherless, the soft spoken words of condolences I speak to the needy. Those hypocrites out there sure need a savior. If only...they'd be closer to finding the Real. They'd rest their shallow serving and be truly sacrificial by Christ's example. So glad I'm not like them...what a weight to shed. They act like Spring...all. the. time.

Oh, that beautiful crescendo of leaf color outside my driver's window amazes my knowledge of God's glory. Can they even see it? Awe... Ah! A winged beauty takes flight before my eyes and smashes. The highway speed takes no regard for bird's error and I am shaken. Heart races, pounds. You halt my sermon, Oh God! The beauty of earth and sky still stretch before me unchanged, yet all has changed. I return the rented carpet cleaner, then return home, afraid of my own destructiveness. That open windshield before me guiding my view while protecting me from harm's way feels like an ally in the unknown demise of my impartial thoughts and judgments. I arrive home and sit in the driveway, still breathing hard. Adjusting the rear view mirror, a reflection of self appears. I am a windshield? Am I the bird? No, I am the reflection and the reflection was a Pharisee this morning but is a broken wing just now, a part of the whole. A falling leaf gracefully lands against the glass where previously an innocent life ended and I embrace Spring a little more carefully.

Some days I am a Pharisee and nothing measures up. Even today, I am asked to cast the first stone and I rake a pile of leaves and jump in because I can't see that Grace is for all.

~Elsa (my wife)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Be Patient

“On every level of life, from housework to heights of prayer, in all judgment and efforts to get things done, hurry and impatience are sure marks of the amateur.”
~Evelyn Underhill

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Peace and Joy

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on Thee:
because he trusts in Thee.
~Isaiah 26:3

Our soul is waiting for the Lord.
    The Lord is our help and our shield.
In Him do our hearts find joy.
    We trust in His holy name.
May Your love be upon us, O Lord,
    as we place all our hope in You.
~Psalm 33:20-22

Monday, October 21, 2013

Thinking

“This morning I suddenly catch myself: I’m not there, I’m so lost in thought, I don’t know what’s going on around me. Can you think yourself to death?”
~Anna Kamienska

Sunday, October 20, 2013

2 Timothy 4:6-11a

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Alleluia! Sing to Jesus!

Alleluia! sing to Jesus! His the scepter, His the throne.
Alleluia! His the triumph, His the victory alone.
Hark! the songs of peaceful Zion thunder like a mighty flood.
Jesus out of every nation has redeemed us by His blood.

Alleluia! not as orphans are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia! He is near us, faith believes, nor questions how;
Though the cloud from sight received Him when the forty days were o’er
Shall our hearts forget His promise, “I am with you evermore”?

Alleluia! bread of angels, Thou on earth our food, our stay;
Alleluia! here the sinful flee to Thee from day to day:
Intercessor, Friend of sinners, Earth’s Redeemer, plead for me,
Where the songs of all the sinless sweep across the crystal sea.

Alleluia! King eternal, Thee the Lord of lords we own;
Alleluia! born of Mary, Earth Thy footstool, Heav’n Thy throne:
Thou within the veil hast entered, robed in flesh our great High Priest;
Thou on earth both priest and victim in the Eucharistic feast.

~Words: William Dix & Music: Rowland Prichard

Friday, October 18, 2013

On Experience

“The old when they are wise, can do for men younger than they what history does for the reader; but they can do it far more poignantly, having expression in their eyes and the living tones of a voice. It is their business to console the world.”
~Hilaire Belloc

Thursday, October 17, 2013

From Diary of an Old Soul

O Lord, I have been talking to the people;
Thought's wheels have round me whirled a fiery zone,
And the recoil of my words' airy ripple
My heart unheedful has puffed up and blown.
Therefore I cast myself before thee prone:
Lay cool hands on my burning brain, and press
From my weak heart the swelling emptiness.
~George MacDonald

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October





(Photos taken by my wife)

“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
~L. M. Montgomery
 

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Kingdom of God

“The kingdom of God isn’t just another utopia, it’s a scattered reality. Wherever Truth and Goodness appear, the space of the heavenly kingdom opens too. Thy kingdom come.”
~Anna Kamienska

Before the Throne of God Above

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!

~Words: Charitie Bancroft & Music: Will­iam Brad­bu­ry

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Religious Hitchens Brother

“No doubt I should be ashamed to confess that fear played a part in my return to religion, specifically a painting: Rogier van der Weyden’s 15th Century Last Judgement, which I saw in Burgundy while on holiday. I had scoffed at its mention in the guidebook, but now I gaped, my mouth actually hanging open, at the naked figures fleeing towards the pit of Hell. These people did not appear remote or from the ancient past; they were my own generation. Because they were naked, they were not imprisoned in their own age by time-bound fashions. On the contrary, their hair and the set of their faces were entirely in the style of my own time. They were me, and people I knew. I had a sudden strong sense of religion being a thing of the present day, not imprisoned under thick layers of time. My large catalogue of misdeeds replayed themselves rapidly in my head. I had absolutely no doubt that I was among the damned, if there were any damned. Van der Weyden was still earning his fee, nearly 500 years after his death.”
~Peter Hitchens (from “How I Found God and Peace With My Atheist Brother”)

Friday, October 11, 2013

On Your Shore


(Photo by Remo Savisaar)

Soft blue horizons
Reach far into my childhood days
As you are rising
To bring me my forgotten ways.

Strange how I falter
To find I'm standing in deep water
Strange how my heart beats
To find I'm standing on your shore.

~Enya Brennan

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Power

“My theory of dispersed power is confirmed daily. Power shatters like the mirror in Andersen’s fairy tale, and a splinter sticks in nearly every heart. Teacher—pupil, doctor—patient, sales clerk—customer: all these relations take shape on the plane of power and dependence. It’s a disease of the system. Even the cleaning woman in the courtyard screams at the tenants about throwing trash from their balconies. But those are just the petals dropped from the only tree in the yard.

‘Clean up after your dogs,’ she yells at me.
It doesn’t matter that I don’t have dogs. She’s got her shard of power, the right to yell.”
~Anna Kamienska

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

We Should Meditate on the Mysteries of Salvation

“In the beginning was the Word. The spring was gushing forth, yet still within Himself. Indeed, the Word was with God, truly dwelling in inaccessible light. And the Lord said from the beginning: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. Yet Your thought was locked within You, and whatever You thought, we did not know; for who knew the mind of the Lord, or who was His counsellor?

And so the idea of peace came down to do the work of peace: The Word was made flesh and even now dwells among us. It is by faith that He dwells in our hearts, in our memory, our intellect and penetrates even into our imagination. What concept could man have of God if He did not first fashion an image of Him in his heart? By nature incomprehensible and inaccessible, He was invisible and unthinkable, but now He wished to be understood, to be seen and thought of.

But how, you ask, was this done? He lay in a manger and rested on a virgin’s breast, preached on a mountain, and spent the night in prayer. He hung on a cross, grew pale in death, and roamed free among the dead and ruled over those in hell. He rose again on the third day, and showed the apostles the wounds of the nails, the signs of victory; and finally in their presence He ascended to the sanctuary of heaven.

How can we not contemplate this story in truth, piety and holiness? Whatever of all this I consider, it is God I am considering; in all this He is my God. I have said it is wise to meditate on these truths...”
~St. Bernard

Monday, October 7, 2013

Attitude

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”
~Viktor Frankl

Friday, October 4, 2013

Love is the Soul of the World


(Artwork by Michael O'Brien - found here)

“In this place where we first appeared, we did not doubt that love is the path of ascent. We did not think of it, as we did not think of the air we breathed. In time our flesh received instruction as we grew, and our hearts and our souls. We came to know that love is the soul of the world, though its body bleeds, and we must learn to bleed with it. Love is also the seed and milk and the fruit of the world, though we can partake of it in greed or reverence.

We are born, we eat, and learn, and die. We leave a tracery of messages in the lives of others, a little shifting of the soil, a stone moved from here to there, a word uttered, a song, a poem left behind. I was here, each of these declare. I was here.”

~Michael O’Brien (from Island of the World - partial re-post)
 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Door

My Father and I will come and make our home with him. Let your door stand open to receive him, unlock your soul to him, offer him a welcome in your mind, and then you will see the riches of simplicity, the treasures of peace, the joy of grace. Throw wide the gate of your heart, stand before the sun of the everlasting light that shines on every man. This true light shines on all, but if anyone closes his window he will deprive himself of eternal light. If you shut the door of your mind, you shut out Christ. Though he can enter, he does not want to force his way in rudely, or compel us to admit him against our will.

Born of a virgin, he came forth from the womb as the light of the whole world in order to shine on all men. His light is received by those who long for the splendor of perpetual light that night can never destroy. The sun of our daily experience is succeeded by the darkness of night, but the sun of holiness never sets, because wisdom cannot give place to evil.

Blessed then is the man at whose door Christ stands and knocks. Our door is faith; if it is strong enough, the whole house is safe. This is the door by which Christ enters. So the Church says in the Song of Songs: The voice of my brother is at the door. Hear his knock, listen to him asking to enter: Open to me, my sister, my betrothed, my dove, my perfect one, for my head is covered with dew, and my hair with the moisture of the night.
~St. Ambrose

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Hope Returned

“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tower high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
~J. R. R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sins of our Youth

“We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. I have heard others, and I have heard myself, recounting cruelties and falsehoods committed in boyhood as if they were no concern of the present speaker’s, and even with laughter. But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin. The guilt is washed out not by time but by repentance and the blood of Christ: if we have repented these early sins we should remember the price of our forgiveness and be humble.”
~C. S. Lewis (from The Problem of Pain)

Monday, September 30, 2013

This is my Father’s World

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.
I ope my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”
This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The Lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

This is my Father’s world. I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world, a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.

~Words: Malt­bie Bab­cock & Music: Frank­lin Shep­pard

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Morning


(Photo by Remo Savisaar)
 
“In the morning, fill us with Your love;
we shall exult and rejoice all our days.”
~Psalm 90:14
 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Rousing and Waking

“The best thing you can do for your fellow, next to rousing his conscience, is — not to give him things to think about, but to wake things up that are in him; or say, to make him think things for himself.”
~George MacDonald

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Few on Prayer

“Take care not to miss this wonderful opportunity. Say the ‘Our Father’ slowly without rushing. He is listening very closely to you. This is the best way to praise and honor His name.”

“He always gives us more than we ask Him for. Always.”

“There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers.”

“I know that many persons who say vocal prayers are raised by God to high contemplation without their knowing how.”

“There is no greater cause of straying from the path of faithful perseverance than letting up in prayer.”

~St. Teresa of Avila

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Different Sense

“Granting that we are always in the presence of God, yet it seems to me that those who pray are in His presence in a very different sense; for they, as it were, see that He is looking upon them, while others may go for days on end without even once recollecting that God sees them.”
~St. Teresa of Avila

Monday, September 23, 2013

Story and Knowing

“If you want to know me, then you must know my story, for my story defines who I am. And if I want to know myself, to gain insight into the meaning of my own life, then I, too, must come to know my own story.”
~Dan McAdams

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Truth

“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
~Winston Churchill

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The meek are getting ready...


Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.

~Matthew 5:5

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It Would Be Easier to Pray if I Were Clear

O Eternal One, it would be easier for me to pray
    if I were clear
        and of a single mind and a pure heart;
    if I could be done hiding from myself
        and from You, even in my prayers.
But, I am who I am,
    mixture of motives and excuses,
        blur of memories,
            quiver of hopes,
    knot of fear,
        tangle of confusion,
            and restless with love, for love.
I wander somewhere between
    gratitude and grievance,
        wonder and routine,
            high resolve and undone dreams,
                generous impulses and unpaid bills.
Come, find me, Lord.

~Ted Loder

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Love That Found Him

    Allan (not his real name) came to me at my previous church in Hamilton, wanting to be baptized. He was a child (or victim) of the “me decade” and felt compelled to leave home and family to find himself and, of course, lost himself, becoming a stranger to himself and the world, wandering the streets of Vancouver trapped in a world of drugs. One night he managed to get off the street for a night in one of the shelters. He crashed into the bunk, staring up at the ceiling, listening to the groans, and trying not to be overcome by the odors of the strangers in the bunks around him. He didn’t know where he was, he didn’t know who he was, but he wanted it to be over with and he considered how he might take his own life.
    He was shaken out of this thoughts when someone came in and called out a name from another world.
    “Is Allan Roberts here?”
    That had been his name once but he hadn’t heard it for some time. He hardly knew Allan Roberts anymore. It couldn’t be him being called.
    The caller persisted, “Is there anybody named Allan Roberts here?”
    No one else answered and so Allan took a risk. “I’m Allan Roberts (or used to be).”
    “Your mother’s on the phone.”
    My mother, no, you’ve made a mistake. I don’t know where I am, how could my mother know where I am?
    “If you’re Allan Roberts, your mother’s on the phone.”
    Unsure what to expect, he went to the desk in the hall and took the receiver. “Allan,” it was his mother, “It’s time for you to come home.”
    “Mom, I don’t know where I am, I have no money, you don’t know what I’m like anymore. I can’t go home.”
    “It’s time for you to come home. There’s a Salvation Army officer who’s coming to you with a plane ticket. He’s going to take you to the airport to get you home.”
    She hadn’t known where he was, she just called every shelter and hostel for months until she found him.
    He went home and, supported and loved by his mother, who had never ceased to know him even though he had forgotten himself, and influenced and inspired by the faith that had sustained his mother’s hope and love, he began attending church services and one day came to my office seeking to be baptized.
    He did not find his own way to my office . . . A path, not of his own making, [was] made by the love that found him, that knew him better than he knew himself, and invited him to “follow me.”
~From a sermon by Hugh Reed, as quoted in a book by Paul Wilson

Monday, September 16, 2013

I Sought the Lord

I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me.
It was not I that found, O Savior true;
no, I was found of Thee.

Thou didst reach forth Thy hand and mine enfold;
I walked and sank not on the storm-vexed sea.
'Twas not so much that I on Thee took hold,
as Thou, dear Lord, on me.

I find, I walk, I love, but oh, the whole
of love is but my answer, Lord, to Thee!
For Thou wert long beforehand with my soul;
always Thou lovedst me.

~Words: Anonymous & Music: George Chadwick

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The farmer and his three wishes

“A Jewish story tells of the good fortune of a hardworking farmer. The Lord appeared to this farmer and granted him three wishes, but with the condition that whatever the Lord did for the farmer would be given double to his neighbor. The farmer, scarcely believing his good fortune, wished for a hundred cattle. Immediately he received a hundred cattle, and his neighbor had two hundred. So he wished for a hundred acres of land, and again he was filled with joy until he saw that his neighbor had two hundred acres of land. Rather than celebrating God’s goodness, the farmer could not escape feeling envious and slighted because his neighbor had received more than he. Finally, he stated his third wish: that God would strike him blind in one eye.

And God wept.”

If we are unable to celebrate God’s grace to others, can we experience that mercy ourselves?

~Story found in the New Interpreter’s Bible

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Darest Thou Now, O Soul

Darest thou now, O Soul,
Walk out with me toward the Unknown Region,
Where neither ground is for the feet, nor any path to follow?

No map, there, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,
Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.

I know it not, O Soul;
Nor dost thou—all is a blank before us;
All waits, undream’d of, in that region—that inaccessible land.

Till, when the ties loosen,
All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,
Nor darkness, gravitation, sense, nor any bounds, bound us.

Then we burst forth—we float,
In Time and Space, O Soul—prepared for them;
Equal, equipt at last—(O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil, O Soul.

~Walt Whitman

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Joy of thy Lord

“If to any man the tumult of the flesh were silenced; and the images of earth and waters and air were silenced; and the poles were silent as well; indeed, if the very soul grew silent to herself, and went beyond herself by not thinking of herself; if fancies and imaginary revelations were silenced; if every tongue and every sign and every transient thing -- for actually if any man could hear them, all these would say, ‘We did not create ourselves, but were created by Him who abides forever’ -- and if, having uttered this, they too should be silent, having stirred our ears to hear Him who created them; and if then He alone spoke, not through them but by Himself, that we might hear His word, not in fleshly tongue or angelic voice, nor sound of thunder, nor the obscurity of a parable, but might hear Him -- Him for whose sake we love these things -- if we could hear Him without these, as we two now strained ourselves to do, we then with rapid thought might touch on that Eternal Wisdom which abides over all. And if this could be sustained, and other visions of a far different kind be taken away, and this one should so ravish and absorb and envelop its beholder in these inward joys that his life might be eternally like that one moment of knowledge which we now sighed after -- would not this be the reality of the saying, ‘Enter into the joy of thy Lord’?”
~St. Augustine (re-post—different English translation)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Stat Crux dum volvitur orbis


“The Cross stands firm while the world turns”
(picture from: here)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Talking to Grief

Ah, Grief, I should not treat you
like a homeless dog
who comes to the back door
for a crust, for a meatless bone.
I should trust you.

I should coax you
into the house and give you
your own corner,
a worn mat to lie on,
your own water dish.

You think I don’t know you’ve been living
under my porch.
You long for your real place to be readied
before winter comes. You need
your name,
your collar and tag. You need
the right to warn off intruders,
to consider
my house your own
and me your person
and yourself
my own dog.

~Denise Levertov

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Do you see?

“Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time. This is not just a nice story or a fable, it is true.”
~Thomas Merton

Monday, September 9, 2013

We need more good men/women to step up into this arena!

“Every time I hear a political speech or I read those of our leaders, I am horrified at having, for years, heard nothing which sounded human. It is always the same words telling the same lies. And the fact that men accept this, that the people’s anger has not destroyed these hollow clowns, strikes me as proof that men attribute no importance to the way they are governed; that they gamble – yes, gamble – with a whole part of their life and their so called ‘vital interests.’”
~Albert Camus

“The men whom the people ought to choose to represent them are too busy to take the jobs. But the politician is waiting for it. He’s the pestilence of modern times. What we should try to do is make politics as local as possible. Keep the politicians near enough to kick them.”
~G. K. Chesterton

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Psalm 139

O Lord, You search me and You know me,
You know my resting and my rising,
You discern my purpose from afar.
You mark when I walk or lie down,
all my ways lie open to You.

Before ever a word is on my tongue
You know it, O Lord, through and through.
Behind and before You besiege me,
Your hand ever laid upon me.
Too wonderful for me this knowledge,
too high, beyond my reach.

O where can I go from Your spirit,
or where can I flee from Your face?
If I climb the heavens, You are there.
If I lie in the grave, You are there.

If I take the wings of the dawn
and dwell at the sea's furthest end,
even there Your hand would lead me,
Your right hand would hold me fast.

If I say: “Let the darkness hide me
and the light around me be night,”
even darkness is not dark for You
and the night is as clear as the day.

For it was You who created my being,
knit me together in my mother's womb.
I thank You for the wonder of my being,
for the wonders of all Your creation.

Already You knew my soul
my body held no secret from You
when I was being fashioned in secret
and molded in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw all my actions,
they were all of them written in Your book;
every one of my days was decreed
before one of them came into being.

To me, how mysterious Your thoughts,
the sum of them not to be numbered!
If I count them, they are more than the sand;
to finish, I must be eternal, like You.

O God, that You would slay the wicked!
Men of blood, keep far away from me!
With deceit they rebel against You
and set Your designs at naught.

Do I not hate those who hate You,
abhor those who rise against You?
I hate them with a perfect hate
and they are foes to me.

O search me, God, and know my heart.
O test me and know my thoughts.
See that I follow not the wrong path
and lead me in the path of life eternal.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Materialist

“...The Christian is quite free to believe that there is a considerable amount of settled order and inevitable development in the universe. But the materialist is not allowed to admit into his spotless machine the slightest speck of spiritualism or miracle. ...The Christian admits that the universe is manifold and even miscellaneous, just as a sane man knows that he is complex. The sane man knows that he has a touch of the beast, a touch of the devil, a touch of the saint, a touch of the citizen. Nay, the really sane man knows that he has a touch of the madman. But the materialist's world is quite simple and solid, just as the madman is quite sure he is sane. The materialist is sure that history has been simply and solely a chain of causation... Materialists and madmen never have doubts.

Spiritual doctrines do not actually limit the mind as do materialistic denials...”
~G. K. Chesterton

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Do you know what I mean?

“Sometimes it’s not enough to know what things mean, sometimes you have to know what things don’t mean.”
~Bob Dylan

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Life

“Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and there is only one Glory, which is eternal. If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.”
~St. Teresa of Avila

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Thread

Something is very gently,
invisibly, silently,
pulling at me—a thread
or net of threads
finer than cobweb and as
elastic. I haven’t tried
the strength of it. No barbed hook
pierced and tore me. Was it
not long ago this thread
began to draw me? Or
way back? Was I
born with its knot about my
neck, a bridle? Not fear
but a stirring
of wonder makes me
catch my breath when I feel
the tug of it when I thought
it had loosened itself and gone.

~Denise Levertov

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Kinship

“You stand with the least likely to succeed until success is succeeded by something more valuable: kinship. You stand with the belligerent, the surly, and the badly behaved until bad behavior is recognized for the language it is: the vocabulary of the deeply wounded and of those whose burdens are more than they can bear.

Mary Oliver writes, ‘There are things you can’t reach. But you can reach out to them, and all day long.’

The wrong idea has taken root in the world. And the idea is this: there just might be lives out there that matter less than other lives. The prophet Jeremiah writes: ‘In this place of which you say it is a waste … there will be heard again the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness … the voices of those who sing.’

Mother Teresa diagnosed the world’s ills in this way: we’ve just ‘forgotten that we belong to each other.’

…Serving others is good. It’s a start. But it’s just the hallway that leads to the Grand Ballroom.

Kinship— not serving the other, but being one with the other. Jesus was not ‘a man for others’; he was one with them. There is a world of difference in that.”
~Gregory Boyle (from Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Thinking about being called simple by a critic

I wanted the plums, but I waited.
The sun went down. The fire
went out. With no lights on
I waited. From the night again—
those words: how stupid I was.
And I closed my eyes to listen.
The words all sank down, deep
and rich. I felt their truth
and began to live them. They were mine
to enjoy. Who but a friend
could give so sternly what the sky
feels for everyone but few learn to
cherish? In the dark with the truth
I began the sentence of my life
and found it so simple there was no way
back into qualifying my thoughts
with irony or anything like that.
I went to the fridge and opened it—
sure enough the light was on.
I reached in and got the plums.

~William Stafford

Monday, August 26, 2013

Phew...

“It’s all right if you grow your wings on the way down.”
~Robert Bly

Sunday, August 25, 2013

See with the other...

“Close both eyes; see with the other one. Then, we are no longer saddled by the burden of our persistent judgments, our ceaseless withholding, our constant exclusion. Our sphere has widened, and we find ourselves, quite unexpectedly, in a new, expansive location, in a place of endless acceptance and infinite love.
We’ve wandered into God’s own ‘jurisdiction.’”
~Gregory Boyle (from Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I Will Greatly Rejoice...

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
     my soul shall exult in my God,
for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
     He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
     and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
     and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
     to spring up before all the nations.

~Isaiah 61:10-11

Thursday, August 22, 2013