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)