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