Sunday, June 30, 2013

An Evening Prayer

“O Lord, support us all the day long, till the shades lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then, Lord, in Your mercy grant us safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at the last, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
~John Henry Newman

Friday, June 28, 2013

Living

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and who sacrificed Himself for my sake.
~Galatians 2:20

Live in Me and let Me live in you, says the Lord; those who live in Me, and I in them, will bear much fruit.
~Antiphon based on John 15:4-5

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bear One Another’s Burdens

“God hath thus ordered it, that we may learn to bear one another’s burdens; for no man is without fault, no man without his burden, no man sufficient of himself, no man wise enough of himself; but we ought to bear with one another, comfort one another, help, instruct, and admonish one another.”
~Thomas à Kempis

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What Lies Within

“What lies behind us
and what lies before us
are small matters compared
to what lies within us.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

He shows His face

“God doesn’t reveal His grand design (to Job), He reveals Himself. He doesn’t show why things are as they are. He shows His face.”
~Frederick Buechner

Monday, June 24, 2013

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever


Picture used with permission by photographer Elsa Kettinger.


Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
     for His steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
     for His steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
     for His steadfast love endures forever;

to Him who alone does great wonders,
     for His steadfast love endures forever;
to Him who by wisdom made the heavens,
     for His steadfast love endures forever;
to Him who spread out the earth above the waters,
     for His steadfast love endures forever;
to Him who made the great lights,
     for His steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
     for His steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
     for His steadfast love endures forever...

~ Psalm 136:1-9

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Marching to Zion

Come, we that love the Lord,
And let our joys be known;
Join in a song with sweet accord,
Join in a song with sweet accord,
And thus surround the throne,
And thus surround the throne.

Refrain:
We’re marching to Zion,
Beautiful, beautiful Zion;
We’re marching upward to Zion,
The beautiful city of God.

The sorrows of the mind
Be banished from the place;
Religion never was designed,
Religion never was designed,
To make our pleasures less,
To make our pleasures less.

Refrain

The God that rules on high,
And thunders when He please,
Who rides upon the stormy sky,
Who rides upon the stormy sky,
And manages the seas,
And manages the seas.

Refrain

Yea, and before we rise,
To that immortal state,
The thoughts of such amazing bliss,
The thoughts of such amazing bliss,
Should constant joys create,
Should constant joys create.

Refrain
The men of grace have found,
Glory begun below.
Celestial fruits on earthly ground,
Celestial fruits on earthly ground,
From faith and hope may grow,
From faith and hope may grow.

Refrain

Then let our songs abound,
And every tear be dry;
We’re marching through Immanuel’s ground,
We’re marching through Immanuel’s ground,
To fairer worlds on high,
To fairer worlds on high.

Refrain

~Words: Isaac Watts, Refrain & Music: Robert Lowry

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Serving for God’s Glory

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
~1 Peter 4:8-11

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bad People

A man told me once that all the bad people
Were needed. Maybe not all, but your fingernails
You need; they are really claws, and we know
Claws. The sharks—what about them?
They make other fish swim faster. The hard-faced men
In black coats who chase you for hours
In dreams—that’s the only way to get you
To the shore. Sometimes those hard women
Who abandon you get you to say, “You.”
A lazy part of us is like a tumbleweed.
It doesn’t move on its own. Sometimes it takes
A lot of Depression to get tumbleweeds moving.
Then they blow across three or four States...
~Robert Bly

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Perennial Way of Faith

“The Lord wanted trust, above all trust. And this trusting was the foundation of the personal holiness from which right action flowed. By seeking solutions before the foundation was firm, he had been wanting to bypass faith and to grasp at knowledge, as if knowledge alone could save. This was an old error, a subtle one, part of fallen human nature...

He understood that the divine economy affirmed man’s need to build secure dwellings in the midst of the instability of a damaged creation; knew that God willed man to use every reasonable and moral method to avoid evil and do good. But at some point every soul was put to some ultimate test, each must turn and face its eternal foe in a definitive struggle between radical terror and radical faith. And in such combat ordinary human strategies would always prove to be ineffective; moreover, by relying on them, one could easily be misled into a state of false security—and thus be doubly defeated.

...With each question the awareness grew in him that the time was close but was not yet; that the Lord would answer him when it was necessary for him to know, and then only as much as he needed to know. He supplied only enough manna for one day at a time. This was the perennial way of faith, the path of absolute abandonment to the will of God. This, and this alone, was the sure foundation.

Still, it was hard to feel so helpless.

...

‘Are you saying we shouldn’t prepare?’

‘I’m not saying that at all. We can and must take certain measures, whatever is prudent and reasonable. However, that is not the foundation.’

‘And the foundation is . . . ?’

‘To so love the will of God, to so believe in his mercy, that whether or not we live or die, we accept as a great gift whatever form our trials may take. This is the refuge.’”

~Michael O’Brien (partial re-post)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Father and His children

Thinking about fathers, sons, The Father, and The Son today...

“Great-hearted child, thy very being The Son!
   Thou know'st the hearts of all us prodigals;
For who is prodigal but him who has gone
   Far from the true to heart it with the false?
   And who but thee, that, from the animals’,
      Know'st all the hearts, up to the Father's own,
      Can tell what it would be to be alone!

Alone! No father!—At the very thought,
   Thou, the eternal light, wast once aghast;
A death in death for thee it almost wrought!
   How thou didst haste, about to breathe thy last,
   To call out Father ere thy spirit passed!
      Exhausted in fulfilling no hard vow,
      But doing his will who greater is than thou.

That we might know him, thou didst come and live;
   That we might find him, thou to him didst die;
The son-heart, brother, thy son-being give—
   We too would love the father perfectly,
   And to his bosom go back with the cry,
      Father, into thy hands I give the heart
      Which left thee but to learn how good thou art.

There are but two in all the universe—
   The father and his children—not a third;
Nor, all the weary time, fell any curse—
   Not once dropped from its nest a fledgling bird,
   Never old sorrow in young bosom stirred,
      But a love-pull it was upon the chain
      That draws the children to the father again.

O Jesus Christ, babe, man, eternal son!
   Take pity: we are poor where thou art rich
Our hearts are small, and yet there is not one
   In all the sad and noisy nursery, which,
   Merry or mourning in its narrow niche,
      Needs not the Father's heart this very now,
      With all his being's being, even as thou.”

~George MacDonald (Christmas, 1880)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Truth

“Most truth's are so naked that people feel sorry for them and cover them up, at least a little bit.”
~Edward R. Murrow

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Do not be too quick...

“Do not be too quick to condemn the man who no longer believes in God: for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice and mediocrity and materialism and selfishness that have chilled his faith.”
~Thomas Merton

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Awake

“The soul that has once been waked, or stung, or uplifted by the desire of God, will inevitably (I think) awake to the fear of losing Him.”
~C. S. Lewis

“O Jesus, let me frequently and attentively consider whatsoever I gain, if I lose Thee, all is lost; and whatsoever I lose, if I gain Thee, all is gained.”
~Richard Whitford (re-posted)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Ends of the Earth

 
(Photo by Remo Savisaar)

The ends of the earth stand in awe
    at the sight of Your wonders.
The lands of sunrise and sunset
    You fill with Your joy.
 
You care for the earth, give it water;
    You fill it with riches.
~Psalm 65:9-10a
 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Nowa Huta, Poland


A model of the ideal Soviet city and its proud planners
“…Nowa Huta (city in Poland) – Polish for ‘new steelworks’ — had been planned as a model socialist community (one of only two entirely pre-planned socialist realist cities ever built—the other being Magnitogorsk in Russia’s Ural Mountains). Poland’s rulers had wanted a socioeconomic laboratory where they could turn God-fearing Polish peasants into the new proletarian man described by Marx and Lenin…

The decision to build Nowa Huta was rubber stamped on May 17, 1947 and over the next few years construction of a model city for 100,000 people sprung up at breakneck speed. Built to impress, Nowa Huta featured wide, tree-lined avenues, parks, lakes and the officially sanctioned architectural style of the time - Socialist Realism. Nowa Huta’s architects strove to construct the ideal city, with ironic inspiration coming from the neighbourhood blocks built in 1920’s New York. Careful planning was key, and the suburb was designed with ‘efficient mutual control' in mind: wide streets would prevent the spread of fire and the profusion of trees would easily soak up a nuclear blast, while the layout was such that the city could easily be turned into a fortress if it came under attack.

The construction of Nowa Huta …was accompanied by a propaganda barrage about the incredible feats of ‘heroes of socialist labor’... To celebrate its completion, the giant Nowa Huta steelworks received the hallowed name of Lenin…

Nowa Huta differed from other model socialist towns in one very important respect. At the corner of Karl Marx Avenue and Great Proletarian Avenue stood a soaring concrete structure that had not been part of the original plan. Topped by a huge steel cross, the Church of Our Lady, Queen of Poland was known to everyone in town as the ‘The Lord’s Ark.’ The struggle to prove the planners wrong had infused the entire community with a sense of defiance.

The first cross appeared on this site in 1957, in the wake of the popular upheavals that swept Gormulka to power. Over the next decade the cross was repeatedly torn down by police and stubbornly put up again by the local inhabitants. Finally, in 1967, seventeen years after the building of Nowa Huta, the archibishop of Krakow had dug a spade into the earth to break the ground for the town’s first church. It took another decade of bureaucratic obstruction and arbitrary shortages of building materials to complete The Lord’s Ark. Much of the work, including carrying two million stones from mountain streams, was done by local inhabitants with their bare hands. ...[I]n 1977, the archbishop had declared: ‘Nowa Huta was built as a city without God, but the will of God and the people who worked here prevailed. Let this be a lesson.’

The archbishop [went] on to become Pope John Paul II, the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. …During [his] 1979 pilgrimage Pope John Paul …attacked the state for attempting to create an atheistic society. ‘Christ cannot be kept out of the history of man in any part of the globe,’ he had thundered. The crowd greeted his words with a ten-minute burst of applause, ending with rhythmic chants of ‘We want God, we want God!’

…In June, 1983, …on the last full day of his visit the pope said mass on the Blonie, the vast meadow in front of Wawel Castle …[to] the crowd of two million people. Alluding to Jaruzelski’s imposition of martial law, the pope urged his listeners never to give up. The nation had been ‘called to victory,’ he declared.

As he said these words, two million people raised their hands silently in the air in the V for victory sign. An underground Solidarity leader, Eugeniusz Szumiejko, who had managed to escape the police roundup, was standing at the back of the huge throng, on top of an embankment. All of a sudden he saw a sea of black heads submerged in a wave of white fists. It was an awe-inspiring sight, proof that Jaruzelski had been unable to crush the spirit that had given birth to solidarity. At the end of the mass a large chunk of the crowd set off on foot for Nowa Huta, beneath their solidarity banners, to see the pope consecrate a new church.

‘Khodz z namy,’ they chanted, the battle cry of 1970 and 1980. ‘Come with us. There will be no beatings today.’

When they reached the site of the new church, they joined a congregation of a quarter of a million people. The entire population of the ‘city without God’ had turned out to greet the pope. Here was proof that history could not be reversed by tanks, internment camps, and corrugated iron fences, that martial law too would pass, and that Nowa Huta’s two-story monument to the founder of world communism would one day come down.”

'The Lord's Ark' (source: wikimedia.org)

~Excerpts from Michael Dobbs (Down with Big Brother: The Fall of the Soviet Empire) & the site “In Your Pocket: Essential City Guides”

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I will make a way...

Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
     and rivers in the desert.
~Isaiah 43:18-19

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Be Still, My Soul

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

~Words: Katharina von Schlegel & Music: Jean Sibelius

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Nature of the Real

“If I never fled from His presence, then I should suspect those moments when I seemed to delight in it of being wish-fulfillment dreams. That, by the way, explains the feebleness of all those watered versions of Christianity which leave out all the darker elements and try to establish a religion of pure consolation. No real belief in the watered versions can last. Bemused and besotted as we are, we still dimly know at heart that nothing which is at all times and in every way agreeable to us can have objective reality. It is of the very nature of the real that it should have sharp corners and rough edges, that it should be resistant, should be itself. Dream-furniture is the only kind on which you never stub your toes or bang your knee. You and I have both known happy marriage. But how different our wives were from the imaginary mistresses of our adolescent dreams! So much less exquisitely adapted to all our wishes; and for that very reason (among others) so incomparably better.”
~C. S. Lewis (from Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

in dissent

“You are not big enough to accuse the whole age effectively, but let us say you are in dissent. You are in no position to issue commands, but you can speak words of hope. Shall this be the substance of your message? Be human in this most inhuman of ages; guard the image of man for it is the image of God.”
~Thomas Merton

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

His Sanctuary


La Chapelle Saint Blaise des Simples
outside the ancient village of Milly la Forêt is all that remains of an old leper colony
(The chapel dates back to the 12th century)
Photo by Terry Prest
Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary.
~Psalm 150:1a
 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Curiosity and Wonder

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery everyday. Never lose a holy curiosity.”
“He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”
~Albert Einstein

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Set a Guard

O Lord, set a guard before my mouth,
    a barrier to fence in my lips.
Do not let my heart turn towards thoughts of evil,
    to make excuses for sins.
~Psalm 141:3-4a

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Abide With Me

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word;
But as Thou dwell’st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

~Words: Henry Lyte & Music: William Monk