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