Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Blessed Easter to All

“Only yesterday was I in anguish with
Christ on the Cross;
today am I glorified with Him.
Yesterday I died with Him;
today I receive new life in Him.
Yesterday was I buried with Him;
today I arise together with Him.”
~St. Gregory Nazianzen

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Coming

And God held in His hand
A small globe. "Look", He said.
The Son looked. Far off,
As though through water, He saw
A scorched land of fierce
Color. The light burned
There, crusted buildings
Cast their shadows: a bright
Serpent, a river,
Uncoiled itself, radiant
With slime.
                      On a bare
Hill a bare tree saddened
The sky. And many people
Held out their thin arms
To it, as though waiting
For a vanished April
To return to its crossed
Boughs. The Son watched
Them.
"Let Me go there," He said."

~R. S. Thomas

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sing, My Tongue, The Song Of Triumph

Sing, my tongue, the song of triumph,
tell the story far and wide.
Tell of dread and final battle,
sing of Savior crucified,
how, upon the cross a victim
vanquishing in death He died.

He endured the nails, the spitting,
vinegar and spear and reed.
From that holy body broken
blood and water forth proceed.
Earth and stars and sky and ocean
by that flood from stain are freed.

Faithful Cross, above all other,
one and only noble tree,
none in foliage, none in blossom,
none in fruit your peer may be;
sweet the wood and sweet the iron,
and your load, most sweet is He.

Bend your boughs, O tree of glory!
All your rigid branches bend!
For awhile the ancient temper
that your birth bestowed, suspend;
and the King of earth and heaven
gently on your bosom tend!

Unto God be praise and glory:
to the Father and the Son,
to the eternal Spirit honor
now and evermore be done;
praise and glory in the highest,
while unending ages run. Amen.

~Words: Venantius Fortunatus (530–600/609), translated by John Neale and Percy Dearmer & Tune: Sarum plainsong (Anonymous)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Hart of Manhattan

I am walking by night from the mountains of my home
lordly beneath this crown, though no man knows its weight,
white-antlered as if I am a mountain crested with two oaks,
the foothills green and gold by the sea of blood
part to let me pass, and when I ask if I am ever to return
they bow in silence
—no eyes see my approach.

Pausing upon a bridge made by human hand,
spanning land and sea and river and sky, I ponder
what they have made,
then knowing my task I leap forward onto the island
—none see my arrival.

I have brought the mountains into the city;
it is my gift to you; and the sky which is my breath,
and the sea as well, for all oceans are in my eyes,
and this I bring to you,
for all has come from me
—none see me pass between the towers.

I lift my head and sound the bugle call
to rouse the city from its sleep, but the city awakens into deeper sleep
and dreams itself awake when I am among them.
Why is it so, this reversal of intent?
Why, though I do them no harm, do they fear me?
—none know who I am.

Who shot me, who made me fly on panicked feet?
Leaping, leaping, tossing my head before I fall to the pavement
and my crown rolls along the streets
as you gather round to see a marvel brought down.
Who has done this? Who?
Speak! The arrow quivering in my chest with the last pulse-beats
does not condemn you, nor do I condemn you, my slayer,
but you should know me, for I was born for this.

If my blood is needed to show you to yourself,
to refresh you or awake you now, I will give it.
Here it is, take it.
But understand as you drink that even the mighty
strain their eyes for a final glimpse of stars,
longing to rest like children in their mother’s embrace.
~Michael O'Brien (re-posted)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday of Holy Week

“I have done many good works for you,” says the Lord. “For which of these are you stoning me?”
~John 10:32

I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me;
    I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.
I said, “Here am I, here am I,”
    to a nation that did not call on my name.
I spread out my hands all the day
    to a rebellious people,
who walk in a way that is not good,
    following their own devices;
a people who provoke me
    to my face continually...
~Isaiah 65:1-3a

Monday, March 25, 2013

Holy Week

A few quotes at the beginning stages of Holy Week:

“Many promising reconciliations have broken down because while both parties come prepared to forgive, neither party came prepared to be forgiven.”
~Charles Williams

“Seven whole days, not one in seven, I will praise Thee”
~George Herbert

Oculi nostri (Our Eyes Are Turned):
Our eyes are turned to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our eyes are turned to the Lord God, our Savior.

“God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering.”
~St. Augustine

“...This is the attitude God brought with him to earth: “...learn from me, for I am meek, and humble of heart” (Matt. 11:29). Before the Last Supper he knelt before his disciples and washed their feet; not to debase himself, but to reveal to them the divine mystery of humility (John 13:4).
     There is no other possibility: God himself must be humble. In him, the eternal, omnipotent, all-glorious One, must lie a readiness to prostrate himself before the infinite scrap of existence that we are in his eyes. Something in him must make him willing to assume the existence of an unknown human being from the village of Nazareth.
      Is such a thing possible? Desirable? Isn’t it unseemly folly? God himself replies, no. Already in the Old Testament he has said: It is my delight to dwell among the children of men. In all reverence, it must be mysteriously blissful for him to refind himself in the flesh-and-blood heart of the Nazarene. Here is a bliss the sense of which outstrips all measure, this assuming the responsibility for, experiencing the fate of, such an abandoned and questioned human life.”
~Romano Guardini

Sunday, March 24, 2013

O the Depth of Love Divine

O the depth of love divine, th’unfathomable grace!
Who shall say how bread and wine God into us conveys!
How the bread His flesh imparts, how the wine transmits His blood,
Fills His faithful people’s hearts with all the life of God!

Let the wisest mortals show how we the grace receive;
Feeble elements bestow a power not theirs to give.
Who explains the wondrous way, how through these the virtue came?
These the virtue did convey, yet still remain the same.

How can spirits heavenward rise, by earthly matter fed,
Drink herewith divine supplies and eat immortal bread?
Ask the Father’s wisdom how: Christ Who did the means ordain;
Angels round our altars bow to search it out, in vain.

Sure and real is the grace, the manner be unknown;
Only meet us in thy ways and perfect us in one.
Let us taste the heavenly powers, Lord, we ask for nothing more.
Thine to bless,’ tis only ours to wonder and adore.

~Words: Charles Wesley (Hymns on the Lord’s Supper)
Music: Barnabas (adapted from the French Psalter)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Isaiah 52:13-15

See, My Servant will prosper,
He shall be lifted up, exalted, rise to great heights.
As the crowds were appalled on seeing him–
So disfigured did he look that he seemed no longer human–
So will the crowds be astonished at Him,
And kings stand speechless before Him;
For they shall see something never told
And witness something never heard before.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Outside of History

“What may seem trivial from the historical standpoint, may be particularly profound from the spiritual, for there is no such thing as a ‘history’ of the Son of God in the human sense of the word. Through birth he became part of human history; living in it, working and suffering; on the cross he fulfilled his human destiny, and in the Resurrection he crossed the border between time and eternity. Granted, within these prescribed events he was completely historical, yet always he remained God. Everything he did was done from the eternal; everything he experienced was caught up into the eternal. Living in time ‘under guardians and stewards’ (Gal. 4:2), by his act of complete surrender and obedience he remained Lord of time, Creator of the new creation. Though we cannot separate Jesus from the historical situation of his age, uncertainty of date in his life suggests more than a mere lack; it emphasizes here in time the ever active presence of eternity.”
~Romano Guardini

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Nature

“A fish cannot drown in water,
A bird does not fall in air.
In the fire of creation,
God doesn't vanish:
The fire brightens.
Each creature God made
must live in its own true nature;
How could I resist my nature,
That lives for oneness with God?”
~Mechthild of Magdeburg

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Faithful Husband, Foster Father, & Worker

“There is no doubt then that this Joseph, to whom the mother of the Savior was espoused, was a man good and preeminently faithful. A prudent and faithful servant he was, I say, whom the Lord placed beside Mary to be her protector, the nourisher of His human body, and the single and most trusty assistant on earth in His great design.”
~St. Bernard of Clairvaux

I look up at those heavens of Thine, the work of Thy hands, at the moon and the stars, which Thou hast set in their places...See how the skies proclaim God's glory, how the vault of heaven betrays His craftsmanship (Ps 8:3; 19:1)

“Yes, incredible though it may seem, the Craftsman whose handiwork is written all over the night-skies became a member of the human race, learnt His craft from the man he called ‘father,’ and prepared thereby to earn His own living. St. Joseph, for his part, would doubtless have cherished with special fondness his early memories of the Child Jesus learning His first elementary lessons in the workshop. Ronald Knox's poem on St. Joseph delicately captures those moments:

And surely 'twas a gracious thing
When, standing at his father's knee,
The world's great Craftsman and its King
Not king but craftsman learned to be.”

~Richard Foley

Monday, March 18, 2013

Six-Word-Long Story

I am not sure whether or not this is completely true. Regardless, it is interesting...

“Ernest Hemingway was lunching at the Algonquin, sitting at the famous ‘round table’ with several writers, claiming he could write a six-word-long short story. The other writers balked. [Hemingway] quickly wrote six words on a napkin and passed it around. The words were:

‘For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn.’

[Hemingway’s] short story was complete. It had a beginning, a middle, and an end...”

~www.snopes.com

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Extravagant Love

“Where there is no extravagance there is no love, and where there is no love there is no understanding.”
~Oscar Wilde

Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
~John 12:3

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
~1 John 4:9-10

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
~John 1:29

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
~Isaiah 53:5-6

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Salvation

“‘I just don’t understand how you can get so much comfort from a religion whose language does so much harm.’ ...I realized that what troubled me most was her use of the word ‘comfort,’ so in my reply I addressed that first. I said that I didn’t think it was comfort I was seeking, or comfort that I’d found. Look, I said to her, as a rush of words came to me. As far as I’m concerned, this religion has saved my life, my husband’s life, and our marriage. So it’s not comfort that I’m talking about but salvation.’”
~Kathleen Norris

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Crown

“...The man stands by the door
to guard from wolves and wolvish men,
the woman holding the nursing child
as if the star itself has ignited in her arms.
This boy, this boy gazes at her
and she at him, wordless they are, wordless he is.
She strokes the little feet, the hands, the brow
on which a fan of black hair as fine as thread
is spread.

Her heart is startled as the lamplight flickers
and she sees a spray of thorns—
the moment quickly passes and there is peace again
upon the uncut brow;
the child sleeps, sinking into her from whom he came,
mother and child drifting timeless while the interior angels
blow trumpets from the ramparts of the celestial city,
that no eyes can see,
chanting the songs of the many,
that no ear can hear...”

~Michael O’Brien 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Silent Prayer Retreat

I just returned from a 3-day silent prayer retreat. My wife was wonderful to let me go (we have a big family). This is my second such retreat. It isn’t easy to describe. The venue is a Trappist monastery. This group of contemplative monks live a rather simple life composed of communal and private prayer, sacred reading, study, manual labor, service to the brethren, and hospitality. Interspersed throughout each day/night, they gather seven times to pray, read Scripture, chant/pray the Psalms, and worship God. It is all open to the retreatants and the public (including the daily church service). The monks use the ancient practice (going all the way back to biblical times) of chanting the Psalms. The chapel is silent and still and God is palpable for those who see with loving attention. When singing and speaking does occur, everything is slow, with a very measured pace. A monk friend of mine said to pay attention to even the silence between the words. Their days are filled with a sacred rhythm and one is incredibly blessed to join in the quiet ecstasy.

We should all sit down, take a deep breath, pray, and spend time in the silence and stillness at the heart of the world. Kathleen Norris states that we need to recognize the poverty of our affluence in the face of God’s overflowing generosity and accept that so much of what we take for granted, even the ordinary rhythm of day and night, has something to say to us. It speaks in silence, not noise.

“...the greatest things are accomplished in silence—not in the clamor and display of superficial eventfulness, but in the deep clarity of inner vision; in the almost imperceptible start of decision, in quiet overcoming and hidden sacrifice.”
~Romano Guardini

“Silence is not merely the absence of noise but the spirit of loving attention.”
~Laurence Freeman (re-posted)

“Our awareness of God is a syntax of the silence in which our souls mingle with the divine, in which the ineffable in us communes with the ineffable beyond us.
     It is the afterglow of years in which soul and sky are silent together, the outgrowth of accumulated certainty of the abundant, never-ebbing presence of the divine.
     All we ought to do is to let the insight be and to listen to the soul’s recessed certainty of its being a parenthesis in the immense script of God’s eternal speech.”
~Abraham Heschel

Friday, March 8, 2013

Toward God

“Should we feel at times disheartened and discouraged, a simple movement of heart toward God will renew our powers. Whatever He may demand of us, He will give us at the moment the strength and courage that we need.”
~François Fénelon

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Truth

“Modesty is always beautiful.”
~G. K. Chesterton

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Wonder Of It All

“Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder. Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of Your universe. Delight me to see how Your Christ plays in ten thousand places. . .to the Father through the features of men's faces. Each day enrapture me with Your marvelous things without number. I do not ask to see the reason for it all; I ask only to share the wonder of it all.”
~Abraham Heschel

“The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”
~G. K. Chesterton

“When we really worship anything, we love not only its clearness but its obscurity. We exult in its very invisibility.”
~G. K. Chesterton

“...Lost in wonder, love, and praise.”
~Charles Wesley

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Our knowledge of God

“God can be known to us in the same way that a man can see an endless ocean while standing at the shore at night and holding only a dimly lit candle. Do you think he can see much? In fact very little, almost nothing. Even so, he can see the water very well. He knows there is a vast ocean before him, the limits of which he cannot perceive. The same is true of our knowledge of God.”
~St. Symeon

Monday, March 4, 2013

Reading Scripture

“Listen carefully to me. Procure books [of the Bible] that will be medicines for the soul. At least get a copy of the New Testament, the Apostle's epistles, the Acts, the Gospels, for your constant teachers. If you encounter grief, dive into them as into a chest of medicines; take from them comfort for your trouble, whether it be loss, or death, or bereavement over the loss of relations. Don't simply dive into them. Swim in them. Keep them constantly in your mind. The cause of all evils is the failure to know the Scriptures well.”
~St. John Chrysostom

“The Word of God is in your heart. The Word digs in this soil so that the spring may gush out.”
~Origen

“You are reading? No. Your betrothed is talking to you. It is your betrothed, that is, Christ, who is united with you. He tears you away from the solitude of the desert and brings you into His home, saying to you, ‘Enter into the joy of your Master.’”
~St. Jerome

Friday, March 1, 2013

Just for fun...

“Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness.”
~Lemony Snicket