Wednesday, December 31, 2014

At The End Of The Year


(Picture found here)
   The particular mind of the ocean
   Filling the coastline's longing
   With such brief harvest
   Of elegant, vanishing waves
   Is like the mind of time
   Opening us shapes of days.

   As this year draws to its end,
   We give thanks for the gifts it brought
   And how they became inlaid within
   Where neither time nor tide can touch them.

   The days when the veil lifted
   And the soul could see delight;
   When a quiver caressed the heart
   In the sheer exuberance of being here.

   Surprises that came awake
   In forgotten corners of old fields
   Where expectation seemed to have quenched.

   The slow, brooding times
   When all was awkward
   And the wave in the mind
   Pierced every sore with salt.

   The darkened days that stopped
   The confidence of the dawn.

   Days when beloved faces shone brighter
   With light from beyond themselves;
   And from the granite of some secret sorrow
   A stream of buried tears loosened.

   We bless this year for all we learned,
   For all we loved and lost
   And for the quiet way it brought us
   Nearer to our invisible destination.

   ~John O’Donohue
 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Night


(Picture by Remo Savisaar)
“The day with its cares and perplexities is ended and the night is now upon us. The night should be a time of peace and tranquility, a time to relax and be calm. We have need of a soothing story to banish the disturbing thoughts of the day, to set at rest our troubled minds, and put at ease our ruffled spirits.”
~Samuel Johnson
 

Monday, December 29, 2014

1 John 1:1-3

This is what we proclaim to you:
what was from the beginning,
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we have looked upon
and our hands have touched—
we speak of the word of life.
(This life became visible;
we have seen and bear witness to it,
and we proclaim to you the eternal life
that was present to the Father
and became visible to us.)
What we have seen and heard
we proclaim in turn to you
so that you may share life with us.
This fellowship of ours is with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 26, 2014

What Child Is This?

What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

~Words: William Dix & Music: Green­sleeves, 16th Cen­tu­ry Eng­lish mel­o­dy

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!


(Picture found here)
A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
   and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him:
   a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
A spirit of counsel and of strength,
   a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord,
   and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.

~Isaiah 11:1-3a
 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

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 (re-post)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Meditation

“He who by a mother's love
Made the wandering world his own,
Every year comes from above,
Comes the parted to atone,
Binding Earth to the Father's throne.

Nay, thou comest every day!
No, thou never didst depart!
Never hour hast been away!
Always with us, Lord, thou art,
Binding, binding heart to heart!”

~George MacDonald

Monday, December 22, 2014

Wake, Awake, For Night Is Flying

Wake, awake, for night is flying;
The watchmen on the heights are crying:
Awake, Jerusalem, at last!
Midnight hears the welcome voices
And at the thrilling cry rejoices;
Come forth, ye virgins, night is past;
The Bridegroom comes, awake;
Your lamps with gladness take;
Alleluia!
And for His marriage feast prepare
For you must go and meet Him there.

Zion hears the watchmen singing,
And all her heart with joy is springing;
She wakes, she rises from her gloom;
For her Lord comes down all glorious,
The strong in grace, in truth victorious.
Her Star is risen, her Light is come.
Ah come, Thou blessed One,
God’s own beloved Son:
Alleluia!
We follow till the halls we see
Where Thou hast bid us sup with Thee.

Now let all the heavens adore Thee,
And saints and angels sing before Thee,
With harp and cymbal’s clearest tone;
Of one pearl each shining portal,
Where we are with the choir immortal
Of angels round Thy dazzling throne;
Nor eye hath seen, nor ear
hath yet attained to hear
What there is ours,
But we rejoice and sing to Thee
Our hymn of joy eternally.

Tune: Wachet Auf 898.898.664.88
Music: Philipp Nicolai, 1556-1608
Text: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, Philipp Nicolai
Translation: Catherine Winkworth, 1858

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming
As seers of old have sung.
It came a blossom bright,
Amid the cold of winter
When half-spent was the night.

Isaiah ‘twas foretold it,
The Rose I have in mind.
With Mary we behold it,
The Virgin Mother kind.
To show God’s love aright,
She bore to us a Savior,
When half spent was the night.

O Flower, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispel in glorious splendor
The darkness everywhere;
True man, yet very God,
From sin and death now save us;
And share our every load.

Tune: Es ist ein Ros Entsprungen 76.76.676
Music: Michael Praetorius, Speier Gesangbuch, 1599
Text: In the public domain

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Mystery

“The lack of mystery in our modern life is our downfall and our poverty. A human life is worth as much as the respect it holds for the mystery. We retain the child in us to the extent that we honor the mystery. Therefore, children have open, wide-awake eyes, because they know that they are surrounded by the mystery. They are not yet finished with this world; they still don’t know how to struggle along and avoid the mystery, as we do. We destroy the mystery because we sense that here we reach the boundary of our being, because we want to be lord over everything and have it at our disposal, and that’s just what we cannot do with the mystery…. Living without mystery means knowing nothing of the mystery of our own life, nothing of the mystery of another person, nothing of the mystery of the world; it means passing over our own hidden qualities and those of others and the world. It means remaining on the surface, taking the world seriously only to the extent that it can be calculated and exploited, and not going beyond the world of calculation and exploitation. Living without mystery means not seeing the crucial processes of life at all and even denying them.”
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

Friday, December 19, 2014

What Good?


(Picture found here)
“What good does it do us to sense and feel our misery unless a bridge is thrown over to the other shore?
What help is it to be terrified at our lostness and confusion unless a light flashes up that is a match for darkness and always is its master?
What good does it do to shiver in the coldness and hardness in which the world freezes as it goes deeper astray in itself and kills itself, unless we also come to know of the grace that is mightier than the peril of oblivion?”
~Alfred Delp
 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Manger


(Artwork by Charles Emile Jacque - found here)
“The young clergyman and his wife do all the things you do on Christmas Eve. They string the lights and hang the ornaments. They supervise the hanging of the stockings. They tuck in the children. They lug the presents down out of hiding and pile them under the tree. Just as they’re about to fall exhausted into bed, the husband remembers his neighbor’s sheep. The man asked him to feed them for him while he was away, and in the press of other matters that night he forgot all about them. So down the hill he goes through knee-deep snow. He gets two bales of hay from the barn and carries them out to the shed. There’s a forty-watt bulb hanging by its cord from the low roof, and he lights it. The sheep huddle in a corner watching as he snaps the baling twine, shakes the squares of hay apart and starts scattering it. Then they come bumbling and shoving to get at it with their foolish, mild faces, the puffs of their breath showing in the air. He is reaching to turn off the bulb and leave when suddenly he realizes where he is. The winter darkness. The glimmer of light. The smell of the hay and the sound of the animals eating. Where he is, of course, is the manger.

He only just saw it. He whose business it is above everything else to have an eye for such things is all but blind in that eye. He who on his best days believes that everything that is most precious anywhere comes from that manger might easily have gone home to bed never knowing that he had himself just been in the manger. The world is the manger. It is only by grace that he happens to see this other part of the miracle.

Christmas itself is by grace. It could never have survived our own blindness and depredations otherwise. It could never have happened otherwise. Perhaps it is the very wildness and strangeness of the grace that has led us to try to tame it. We have tried to make it habitable. We have roofed it in and furnished it. We have reduced it to an occasion we feel at home with, at best a touching and beautiful occasion, at worst a trite and cloying one. But if the Christmas event in itself is indeed—as a matter of cold, hard fact—all it’s cracked up to be, then even at best our efforts are misleading.

The Word become flesh. Ultimate Mystery born with a skull you could crush one-handed. Incarnation. It is not tame. It is not touching. It is not beautiful. It is uninhabitable terror. It is unthinkable darkness riven with unbearable light. Agonized laboring led to it, vast upheavals of intergalactic space, time split apart, a wrenching and tearing of the very sinews of reality itself. You can only cover your eyes and shudder before it, before this: ‘God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God…who for us and for our salvation,’ as the Nicene Creed puts it, ‘came down from heaven.’ 

Came down. Only then do we dare uncover our eyes and see what we can see. It is the Resurrection and the Life she holds in her arms. It is the bitterness of death he takes at her breast.”
~Frederick Buechner
 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Contentment


Harlan Hubbard Woodcut
“Probably no moon has furnished me with as much light as this
one, in this clear weather. Now it is past full, and I can arise before
daybreak and see my way about, sawing firewood. One feels alone
on the earth, no sounds, no lights, anywhere, unless a boat passes.
In a light fog, as this morning, the isolation is even more strongly
felt. It brings peace, contentment and a sure faith that all is well.
~Harlan Hubbard
  

Monday, December 15, 2014

In The Dark

“The authentically hopeful Christmas spirit has not looked away from the darkness, but straight into it. The true and victorious Christmas spirit does not look away from death, but directly at it. Otherwise, the message is cheap and false. Instead of pointing to someone else’s sin, we confess our own. ‘In our sins we have been a long time’ [Isaiah 64]. Advent begins in the dark.”
~Fleming Rutledge

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.

Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.

By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

~Words: Charles Wesley & Music: Rowland Prichard

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Compensation

“...If you are wise, you will dread a prosperity which only loads you with more. ...In the order of nature we cannot render benefits to those from whom we receive them, or only seldom. But the benefit we receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody. Beware of too much good staying in your hand. It will fast corrupt and worm worms. Pay it away quickly in some sort.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, December 12, 2014

Lux Aurumque (Light and Gold)

Lux,
Calida gravisque pura velut aurum
Et canunt angeli molliter
modo natum.

Light,
warm and heavy as pure gold
and angels sing softly
to the new-born babe.

~Edward Esch

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Advent

 
“Charm with your stainlessness these winter nights,
Skies, and be perfect! Fly, vivider in the fiery dark, you quiet meteors,
And disappear.
You moon, be slow to go down,
This is your full!

The four white roads make off in silence
Towards the four parts of the starry universe.
Time falls like manna at the corners of the wintry earth.
We have become more humble than the rocks,
More wakeful than the patient hills.

Charm with your stainlessness these nights in Advent,
holy spheres,
While minds, as meek as beasts,
Stay close at home in the sweet hay;
And intellects are quieter than the flocks that feed by starlight.

Oh pour your darkness and your brightness over all our
solemn valleys,
You skies: and travel like the gentle Virgin,
Toward the planets' stately setting,

Oh white full moon as quiet as Bethlehem!”

~Thomas Merton
  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Advent: when the ladder climbing stops we are ready to gather around the manger


(Artwork by Alexandra Bircken)
“This is how Advent always begins. In the place where everything seems lost; where the human condition is experienced at its most starkly bleak. It is only within this manger of dread, desolation and despair that Christmas makes sense. Only there can we feel its new born warmth for ourselves and cradle its living truth in our arms. Nowhere else. God invites us to journey into our darkness on the strength of a promise, daring to believe that the incarnation of love will become real in the wombspace of our fragile faith.

This is always a collective endeavour. In Advent we travel for ourselves and we travel for the sake of others, always these two held together as one redefining purpose. The dread, desolation and despair may not be our own this time around, but it will be somebody’s truth, somewhere very close and somewhere far away. Advent is the great collectiviser of God’s economy: our imagined separation from the desperate plight of others is destroyed by the inclusive ardour of the divine will which places the manger where we would be least inclined to welcome it as gift.”
~David Perry
 

Monday, December 8, 2014

His Name Was Called Wonder!

    “This is the day that gladdened them, the Prophets, Kings, and Priests, for in it were their words fulfilled, and thus were the whole of them indeed performed! For the Virgin this day brought forth Immanuel in Bethlehem. The voice that of old Isaiah spake, to-day became reality. He was born thee who in writing should tell the Gentiles’ number! The Psalm that David once sang, by its fulfillment came to-day! The word that Micah once spake, to-day was come indeed to pass! For there came from Ephrata a Shepherd, and His staff swayed over souls. Lo! from Jacob shone the Star, and from Israel rose the Head. The prophecy that Balaam spake had its interpreting to-day! Down also came the hidden Light, and from the Body rose His beauty! The light that spake in Zachary, to-day shined in Bethlehem!
    Risen is the Light of the kingdom, in Ephratathe city of the King. The blessing where with Jacob blessed, to its fulfillment came to-day! That tree likewise, [the tree] of life, brings hope to mortal men! Solomon’s hidden proverb had to-day its explanation! To-day was born the Child, and His name was called Wonder! For a wonder it is that God as a Babe should show Himself.”
~St. Ephrem the Syrian c.306-373

Sunday, December 7, 2014

On Jordan's Bank

On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry
announces that the Lord is nigh;
awake and hearken, for he brings
glad tidings of the King of kings.

Then cleansed be every breast from sin;
make straight the way for God within,
prepare we in our hearts a home
where such a mighty Guest may come.

For thou art our salvation, Lord,
our refuge and our great reward;
without thy grace we waste away
like flowers that wither and decay.

To heal the sick stretch out thine hand,
and bid the fallen sinner stand;
shine forth and let thy light restore
earth's own true loveliness once more.

All praise, eternal Son, to thee,
whose advent doth thy people free;
whom with the Father we adore
and Holy Ghost for evermore.

~Words: Charles Coffin (Trans. John Chandler) & Music: Winchester New

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Silent Night

Lo, in the silent night
A child to God is born
And all is brought again
That ere was lost or lorn.

Could but thy soul, O man,
Become a silent night!
God would be born in thee
And set all things aright.

~15th Century

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Angel Gabriel From Heaven Came


(Artwork "The Annunciation" by Henry Ossawa Tanner - found here)
The angel Gabriel from heaven came,
his wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame;
“All hail,” said he, “thou lowly maiden Mary,
most highly favored lady,” Gloria!

“For know a blessed Mother thou shalt be,
all generations laud and honor thee,
thy Son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold,
most highly favored lady,” Gloria!

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head,
“To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said,
“my soul shall laud and magnify his holy Name.”
Most highly favored lady, Gloria!

Of her, Emmanuel, the Christ, was born
in Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn,
and Christian folk throughout the world will ever say--
“Most highly favored lady,” Gloria!

~Words: Basque carol, Trans. Sabine Baring-Gould & Music: Gabriel's Message
 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

First Coming

He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.

He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine.

He did not wait till hearts were pure.
In joy he came to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.

He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.

We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!

~Madeleine L'Engle

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Wonder of the Incarnation

 
Star of his morning; that unfallen star
In the strange starry overturn of space
When earth and sky changed places for an hour
And heaven looked upwards in a human face.

~G. K. Chesterton
 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Longing

“...I do not now feel either ashamed or dubious on the Eden myth. It has not, of course historicity of the same kind as the NT, which are virtually contemporary documents, while Genesis is separated by we do not know how many sad exiled generations from the Fall, but certainly there was an Eden on this very unhappy earth. We all long for it, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its very best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of ‘exile.’”
~J. R. R. Tolkien

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Savior Of The Nations, Come

Savior of the nations, come;
Virgin’s Son, here make Thy home!
Marvel now, O heaven and earth,
That the Lord chose such a birth.

Not by human flesh and blood;
By the Spirit of our God
Was the Word of God made flesh,
Woman’s offspring, pure and fresh.

Wondrous birth! O wondrous Child
Of the virgin undefiled!
Though by all the world disowned,
Still to be in heaven enthroned.

From the Father forth He came
And returneth to the same,
Captive leading death and hell
High the song of triumph swell!

Thou, the Father’s only Son,
Hast over sin the victory won.
Boundless shall Thy kingdom be;
When shall we its glories see?

Brightly doth Thy manger shine,
Glorious is its light divine.
Let not sin o’ercloud this light;
Ever be our faith thus bright.

Praise to God the Father sing,
Praise to God the Son, our King,
Praise to God the Spirit be
Ever and eternally.

~Words: St. Am­brose of Mi­lan, cir­ca 397 (Trans­lat­ed from La­tin to Ger­man by Mar­tin Lu­ther, 1523; trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to En­glish by Will­iam Rey­nolds, 1851) & Music: Jo­hann Wal­ther, har­mo­ny by Jo­hann S. Bach

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Hands


(Picture by Ivan Pastoukhov)
“Behold the hands, how they promise, conjure, appeal, menace, pray, supplicate, refuse, beckon, interrogate, admire, confess, cringe, instruct, command, mock…: and what not besides, with a variation and multiplication of variation which makes the tongue envious.”
~Michel de Montaigne
 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Until The Morning


(Artwork by Michael O'Brien - found here)
“To suffer and to be happy although suffering, to have one’s feet on the earth, to walk on the dirty and rough paths of this earth and yet to be enthroned with Christ at the Father’s right hand, to laugh and cry with the children of this world and ceaselessly to sing the praises of God with the choirs of angels this is the life of the Christian until the morning of eternity breaks forth.”
~Teresa Benedicta
  

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Tale (Part 3 of 3)

    “Do you know how many of those I see every night?”
    He shook his head.
    “On a good night, three or four. On a bad night, ten or twenty. Most of them die within a few hours. Most of them crawl here or are dumped at the door by the police. The morgue is full of them, and most are either very old, or young like this one. Never has a tourist brought me one. Why did you do it?”
    “He is my son.”
    “He is Russian. He is not your son.”
    “He is my father.”
    “Are you insane, or are you a poet?”
    “Neither.”
    “Religious, then. The Good Samaritan?”
    “Are you religious, Doctor?”
    “Not in the least. Answer my question.”
    “I am a father who has lost his child, and he is a son who has lost his parents.”
    “Perhaps he has no parents. These street people often don’t. He might have killed you.”
    “Well, the risk was mine.”
    Scrutinizing him with an expression of disapproval, she said, much to Alex’s surprise, “Would you like a cup of tea?”
    “No thank you. I will return to my hotel. But first may I leave a message for Alyosha?”
    “Alyosha, is it?”
    “Alexei Andreivich is his name.”
    “All right, you can leave it with me. I’ll see that he gets it, if he survives the night.”
    While she went to get an envelope, Alex wrote the following on a page in his pocket notebook:

    Alexei Andreivich,
       You do not know me, and I do not know you. You have a
    name that is beautiful in the sight of God, who is your Father.
    You have a Father, Alyosha. You are not alone. Though you
    say you are dead, you are alive. Though you think you are
    destined to fall down into the drain hole of the universe, it is
    not true. Do not believe that lie. You are more than you think
    you are.
       Life demands that we part, but I will not forget you. We are
    united in a bond that nothing can break. Take this gift, and
    when you have recovered your health, begin again.
                                                                Aleksandr Graham

    He tore the page from the notebook and folded it around two five-hundred-ruble notes. Examining the rumpled bills that remained in his pocket, he saw that he now had less than a thousand. He kept enough for a taxi ride back to the Rossiya and added the balance to the gift. When the doctor returned, he put the note and money into the envelope she gave him, sealed it, and wrote Alyosha’s name on it.
    “You are mad”, she said, shaking her head. “Why do you throw away your money?”
    “Will you give it to him?”
    “If he lives”, she said without emotion. “But what if he dies?”
    “If he dies, give it to someone like him, someone who survives.”
    “What about your hat, your coat, and your jacket?” He hesitated only a moment, then bid farewell to his grandfather’s overcoat.
    “They are now his.”
    “And if he dies?”
    “Give them to someone like him.”
    Her frown intensified, as if she was deeply offended by all that had occurred.
   “Wait here”, she commanded, turning on her heel. A few minutes later she returned bearing a huge old greatcoat of dark blue felt, and a leather cap lined with dirty sheepskin.
    “Take this”, she said, thrusting them upon him. “No one needs it.”
    “Who does it belong to?”
    “I took it off a dead man earlier this evening. A man with no name. He was not diseased. He died of heart failure.”
    Alex put on the coat, which fit well and smelled of dried sweat. He wrapped his beloved tartan scarf around his neck.
    “Thank you”, he said.
    And so he left wearing the garb of the nameless, aware only that he was moving ever closer to the loss of everything, unaware that the doctor stood motionless in the center of the ward watching him go.

~Michael O’Brien (from The Father’s Tale)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Tale (Part 2 of 3)

    “I have a sick man here”, Alex said. “Can you take him to a hospital?”
    “Yes, for two hundred rubles.”
    Alex rummaged in his pockets and hastily gave him the money.
    “Can you help me carry him?”
    The driver shrugged, got out, and walked with Alex to the street lamp. When he saw the bundle of groaning rags, he took a step back and said, “He’s filthy. He’s a hotel for lice.”
    “He will die if he stays here.”
    “So? What is he to you?”
    “He is . . .”, Alex said slowly. “He is my son.”
    “He’s your son? All right, let’s get him. You take his shoulders; I’ll take his feet.”
    The driver reached down to grab the ankles, then drew back.
    “Forget it”, he said. “He’ll make a mess in my car.”
    Alex unbuttoned his coat and threw it over Alyosha. He removed the wallet, passport, and papers from his tweed jacket and stuffed them into his pants pockets. The jacket went over Alyosha’s legs and feet.
    “There, we’ll wrap him in this. Now he won’t soil your upholstery.”
    “This is not your son”, the driver said. “You’re a foreigner.”
    “Yes, I am a foreigner. And you are right, he is not my son.” Alex shivered in the night wind. “He is my father.”
    The driver stared at him suspiciously. Alex handed him another hundred rubles. This finalized the deal, and without any further discussion they loaded the body into the back seat of the car. Ten minutes later they carried Alyosha into the emergency ward of a hospital.
    The driver took off immediately, leaving Alex on a hard wooden bench with Alyosha propped against his shoulder. For an hour he watched the frantic comings and goings in the ward, amazed that the city contained so many tragedies, even more amazed that he was sitting in the midst of it with a stranger’s body leaning against his. Wondering why.
    Wondering if he had fallen through the thin ice that separated all men from the suction of the void.
    With his eyes closed, Alyosha rolled his head back and breathed noisily through his open mouth. His teeth stopped chattering, he was no longer shaking, and a great heat now emanated from his body. When at last a doctor approached with a clipboard, Alex explained what had happened. Frowning, she jotted down pertinent details, then put her hand to Alyosha’s forehead.
    “He’s burning up”, she said in a monotone. “Does he have papers?”
    “I think he has been robbed of his documents.”
    “There’s not much we can do for him.”
    “Is there no place for a Russian citizen who has suffered this misfortune?”
    She shrugged. “We look after all our citizens.”
    “I can help with expenses”, he said.
    She put her clipboard under her arm and gave him a stern look.
    “Sir, though you speak Russian very well, it is obvious that you are not from this country. It is a foolish thing you have done. There are very dangerous people in Moscow, flooding in from all over, criminals who would not hesitate to cut your throat for a ruble. In the future you must remember that it is better to avoid trouble. Do not make eye contact with strangers. Do not answer them if they speak to you.”
    “This is most helpful advice, madam”, he replied politely. “Still, I do not think this man is dangerous. He is just a lost soul.”
    “I can see that you are a person of considerate nature. However, people from the West are naïve. It would be better for you to keep to the hotels and the tourist places. We do not want incidents.”
    “Of an international nature?”
    She flashed him a look and returned to writing on her clipboard.
    Calling two orderlies, she instructed them to take Alyosha away. “To DT wing. Shower and disinfect him there. I will call the chief of detox to register. If anyone makes problems, tell them I will take personal responsibility.”
    They carried Alyosha to a gurney and loaded him onto it. The doctor watched them go through a set of green double doors, and then she turned to Alex.

~Michael O’Brien (from The Father’s Tale)

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Tale (Part 1 of 3)

    As he entered one of the stalls, he heard a bestial wail, or a snort, or the gurgle of a cut throat. Leaping back into the center of the room, he turned in every direction but could see no other person. Then the sound came again from the farthest corner, this time followed by groans. Creeping warily along the row of cubicles, Alex stopped suddenly and remained motionless as he stared into the last stall. The scene was so completely beyond his experience and normal categories of thought that he was momentarily paralyzed.
    Lying on the wet floor was a young man in fetal position, reeking of alcohol, body fluids, and human befoulment. His shoes were soaked, torn, sockless, laced with string. His thin cloth coat was flung open, revealing a cotton undershirt stained with blood and vomit. But his face was the worst, for it was bruised and lacerated with cuts, scabbed with dried blood. His nose was broken, though this seemed to be an old break that had healed badly. His lips were swollen and cracked, opening and closing with shallow breathing that came from his mouth. His chin was dark with several days’ growth of beard. By what chain of follies he had come to this end, Alex could not begin to guess.
    He knelt down and reached out to shake the man’s shoulder, but there was little response, only a resuming of mute cries that seemed to come from the pit of the soul. His glazed eyes managed to swivel toward Alex but could not maintain their focus and returned to a sightless gaze at the floor. His arms were locked in an X across his chest, with large hands clenched tightly. His body convulsed and shook with chills. Alex put his hand on the man’s forehead. It was ice cold.
    He now realized that the man was lying across the drain hole and that spray from the water pipe was soaking the entire length of his back. Fighting overwhelming disgust, he grabbed the inert form and dragged it out of the cubicle into the dirty slush of the main section of the washroom. An empty vodka bottle skidded out with him and spun in circles. Alex closed the front of the coat over the man’s chest and bound it with strings that were knotted in the buttonholes. After a quick search, he found a weak heat source farther along the wall, the ventilation shaft out of which warm air was rising, accompanied by the faint roar of the subway many meters below. He dragged the man’s body over to it and propped it up in sitting position.
    Removing his own scarf, Alex soaked it in the water spurting from one of the nearby sinks, then used it to clean the man’s face and hands. The rest of his body was in a condition that was beyond any help he could offer.
    The man’s eyes opened and tried to focus again.
    “Little brother,” Alex said in a low voice, “what has happened to you?”
    The answering groan was an attempt at articulation, but it failed.
    “What is your name?” Alex said.
    “No name”, slurred the voice.
    “You have a name”, Alex said firmly.
    “No name”, the voice cried with sudden volume. The head lurched sideways, the eyes rolling.
    Alex removed his fur hat and put it onto the man’s head, pulling down the flaps about the ears.
    “Where do you live?” he asked.
    “No live, no place, no live, no place, no nothing, no . . .”
    The chorus of nyet, nyet went on for some time until the man’s eyes glazed over and his teeth began to chatter violently.
    “But you must live someplace. Tell me, where? I will take you there.”
    The eyes struggled to focus again. The blue lips parted to reveal an insane grin.
    “Live here. Die here. Live, die, live, die—”
    “You cannot stay here. You will die if you stay.”
    “I am dead. I live in the drain hole—”
    “You must try to get up!”
    “—the drain hole of the universe.”
    “That’s not true! You must get up!”
    “I die in the hole. I am the hole. I am the nyet, nyet, nyet, nyet. . .”
    Alex’s face went hot with shame and pity. He seized the man’s coat lapels tightly, pulling his loathsome body, trying to lift him. But it was no use. The man’s head flopped back and banged against the wall. Alex put his hand on the back of the man’s skull, sticky with blood and the detritus of the hole of the universe.
    “Fifty rubles for me”, the man babbled. The eyes wept and laughed. “Cheap.”
    “What is your name?”
    “A bottle. A needle.”
    “Your name?” Alex shook him.
    “One sip.”
    “You must remember. Try to remember.”
    “No name.”
    “Tell me your name!” Alex cried.
    “I . . . I . . .”
    Now the man’s mad mouth fell slack, and the laughing-weeping eyes turned to pure weeping.
    “I once was Alexei”, he sobbed.
    “Alexei? Your name is Alexei?”
    “Alexei Andreivich, who has become a hole.”
    Alex jerked back, holding the other’s body at arm’s length, staring into his eyes with uncertainty.
    “Get up”, he said.
    “Nyet.”
    “Get up, Alyosha, get up!”
    “Alyosha?” The eyes strained to focus, filled now with puzzlement. “You call me Alyosha?” he whispered.
    “Please, get up!”
    “I cannot. My legs.”
    Alex stood, dragging Alyosha’s body up with him, straining every muscle. Shifting the weight of the other to his right hip, he gripped the man’s chest under his arm and hobbled with him to the entry stairs. Climbing-dragging him up to street level took an eternity. When they finally emerged, Alex lowered him to the pavement and propped him against the post of a street lamp. A search through the man’s pockets produced no identification papers, nothing to indicate a home address.
    Alex dashed to the corner, hoping to spot a policeman. A few minutes later a taxi wheeled around the corner and barreled along the street in his direction. He flagged it to the curb.

~Michael O’Brien (from The Father's Tale)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

All Hail The Power Of Jesus’ Name

All hail the power of Jesus’ Name! Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.

Crown Him, ye martyrs of your God, who from His altar call;
Extol the Stem of Jesse’s Rod, and crown Him Lord of all.
Extol the Stem of Jesse’s Rod, and crown Him Lord of all.

Ye seed of Israel’s chosen race, ye ransomed from the fall,
Hail Him Who saves you by His grace, and crown Him Lord of all.
Hail Him Who saves you by His grace, and crown Him Lord of all.

O that, with yonder sacred throng, we at His feet may fall,
Join in the everlasting song, and crown Him Lord of all,
Join in the everlasting song, and crown Him Lord of all!

~Words: Edward Perronet & Music: James Ellor

Saturday, November 22, 2014

In A Picture


(Picture found here)
“And in a picture I wish to say something that would console as music does.”
~Vincent Van Gogh
  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Brilliant Sky



(Picture found here)
For a friend...

Never between the branches has the sky
burned with such brilliance, as if
it were offering all of its light to me,
to say – what? what urgent mystery
strains at that transparent mouth?
No leaf, no rustle . . . It's in winter,
in cold emptiness and silence, that the air
suddenly arches itself like this into infinity,
and glitters.

This evening, far from here,
a friend is entering his death,
he knows it, he walks
under bare trees alone,
perhaps for the last time. So much love,
so much struggle, spent and worn thin.
But when he looks up, suddenly the sky
is arrayed in this same vertiginous clarity.

~Jean Joubert (Translated by Denise Levertov)
 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Scripture

“The evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater than the evidence for many writings of classical authors, the authenticity of which no one dreams of questioning. And if the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt.”
~F. F. Bruce

“All I am in private life is a literary critic and historian, that's my job...And I'm prepared to say on that basis if anyone thinks the Gospels are either legends or novels, then that person is simply showing his incompetence as a literary critic. I've read a great many novels and I know a fair amount about the legends that grew up among early people, and I know perfectly well the Gospels are not that kind of stuff.”
~C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Notice What This Poem Is Not Doing

The light along the hills in the morning
comes down slowly, naming the trees
white, then coasting the ground for stones to nominate.

Notice what this poem is not doing.

A house, a house, a barn, the old
quarry, where the river shrugs--
how much of this place is yours?

Notice what this poem is not doing.

Every person gone has taken a stone
to hold, and catch the sun. The carving
says, “Not here, but called away.”

Notice what this poem is not doing.

The sun, the earth, the sky, all wait.
The crowns and redbirds talk. The light
along the hills has come, has found you.

Notice what this poem has not done.

~William Stafford

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Dwarfs Refused To Be Taken In

Lucy led the way and soon they could all see the Dwarfs. They had a very odd look. They weren't strolling about or enjoying themselves (although the cords with which they had been tied seemed to have vanished) nor were they lying down and having a rest. They were sitting very close together in a little circle facing one another. They never looked round or took any notice of the humans till Lucy and Tirian were almost near enough to touch them. Then the Dwarfs all cocked their heads as if they couldn't see anyone but were listening hard and trying to guess by the sound what was happening.

"Look out!" said one of them in a surly voice. "Mind where you're going. Don't walk into our faces!"

"All right!" said Eustace indignantly. "We're not blind. We've got eyes in our heads."

"They must be darn good ones if you can see in here," said the same Dwarf whose name was Diggle.

"In where?" asked Edmund.

"Why you bone-head, in here of course," said Diggle. "In this pitch-black, poky, smelly little hole of a stable."

"Are you blind?" said Tirian.

"Ain't we all blind in the dark!" said Diggle.

"But it isn't dark, you poor stupid Dwarfs," said Lucy. "Can't you see? Look up! Look round! Can't you see the sky and the trees and the flowers? Can't you see me?"

"How in the name of all Humbug can I see what ain't there? And how can I see you any more than you can see me in this pitch darkness?"

"But I can see you," said Lucy. "I'll prove I can see you. You've got a pipe in your mouth."

"Anyone that knows the smell of baccy could tell that," said Diggle.

"Oh the poor things! This is dreadful," said Lucy. Then she had an idea. She stopped and picked some wild violets. "Listen, Dwarf," she said. "Even if your eyes are wrong, perhaps your nose is all right: can you smell that?" She leaned across and held the fresh, damp flowers to Diggle's ugly nose. But she had to jump back quickly in order to avoid a blow from his hard little fist.

"None of that!" he shouted. "How dare you! What do you mean by shoving a lot of filthy stable-litter in my face? There was a thistle in it too. It's like your sauce! And who are you anyway?"

"Earth-man," said Tirian, "she is the Queen Lucy, sent hither by Aslan out of the deep past. And it is for her sake alone that I, Tirian your lawful King, do not cut all your heads from your shoulders, proved and twice-proved traitors that you are."

"Well if that doesn't beat everything!" exclaimed Diggle. "How can you go on talking all that rot? Your wonderful Lion didn't come and help you, did he? Thought not. And now - even now - when you've been beaten and shoved into this black hole, just the same as the rest of us, you're still at your old game. Starting a new lie! Trying to make us believe we're none of us shut up, and it ain't dark, and heaven knows what."

"There is no black hole, save in your own fancy, fool," cried Tirian. "Come out of it." And, leaning forward, he caught Diggle by the belt and the hood and swung him right out of the circle of Dwarfs. But the moment Tirian put him down, Diggle darted back to his place among the others, rubbing his nose and howling:

"Ow! Ow! What d'you do that for! Banging my face against the wall. You've nearly broken my nose."

"Oh dear!" said Lucy, "What are we to do for them?"

"Let 'em alone," said Eustace: but as he spoke the earth trembled. The sweet air grew suddenly sweeter. A brightness flashed behind them. All turned. Tirian turned last because he was afraid. There stood his heart's desire, huge and real, the golden Lion, Aslan himself, and already the others were kneeling in a circle round his forepaws and burying their hands and faces in his mane as he stooped his great head to touch them with his tongue. Then he fixed his eyes upon Tirian, and Tirian came near, trembling, and flung himself at the Lion's feet, and the Lion kissed him and said, "Well done, last of the Kings of Narnia who stood firm at the darkest hour."

"Aslan," said Lucy through her tears, "could you - will you - do something for these poor Dwarfs?"

"Dearest," said Aslan, "I will show you both what I can, and what I cannot, do." He came close to the Dwarfs and gave a low growl: low, but it set all the air shaking. But the Dwarfs said to one another, "Hear that? That's the gang at the other end of the stable. Trying to frighten us. They do it with a machine of some kind. Don't take any notice. They won't take us in again!"

Aslan raised his head and shook his mane. Instantly a glorious feast appeared on the Dwarfs' knees: pies and tongues and pigeons and trifles and ices, and each Dwarf had a goblet of good wine in his right hand. But it wasn't much use. They began eating and drinking greedily enough, but it was clear that they couldn't taste it properly. They thought they were eating and drinking only the sort of things you might find in a stable. One said he was trying to eat hay and another said he had a bit of an old turnip and a third said he'd found a raw cabbage leaf. And they raised golden goblets of rich red wine to their lips and said "Ugh! Fancy drinking dirty water out of a trough that a donkey's been at! Never thought we'd come to this." But very soon every Dwarf began suspecting that every other Dwarf had found something nicer than he had, and they started grabbing and snatching, and went on to quarrelling, till in a few minutes there was a free fight and all the good food was smeared on their faces and clothes or trodden under foot. But when at last they sat down to nurse their black eyes and their bleeding noses, they all said:

"Well, at any rate there's no Humbug here. We haven't let anyone take us in. The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs."

"You see, " said Aslan. "They will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out. But come, children. I have other work to do."
~C. S. Lewis (from The Last Battle)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Seeds and Fruit

“Let us believe the Gospel when it tells us that the kingdom of God is already present in this world and is growing, here and there, and in different ways: like the small seed which grows into a great tree (cf. Mt 13:31-32), like the measure of leaven that makes the dough rise (cf. Mt 13:33) and like the good seed that grows amid the weeds (cf. Mt 13, 24-30) and can always pleasantly surprise us.

...Because we do not always see these seeds growing, we need an interior certainty, a conviction that God is able to act in every situation, even amid apparent setbacks: ‘We have this treasure in earthen vessels’ (2 Cor 4:7). This certainty is often called ‘a sense of mystery’. It involves knowing with certitude that all those who entrust themselves to God in love will bear good fruit (cf. Jn 15:5). This fruitfulness is often invisible, elusive and unquantifiable. We can know quite well that our lives will be fruitful, without claiming to know how, or where, or when. We may be sure that none of our acts of love will be lost, nor any of our acts of sincere concern for others. No single act of love for God will be lost, no generous effort is meaningless, no painful endurance is wasted. All of these encircle our world like a vital force. Sometimes it seems that our work is fruitless, but mission is not like a business transaction or investment, or even a humanitarian activity. It is not a show where we count how many people come as a result of our publicity; it is something much deeper, which escapes all measurement. It may be that the Lord uses our sacrifices to shower blessings in another part of the world which we will never visit. The Holy Spirit works as he wills, when he wills and where he wills; we entrust ourselves without pretending to see striking results. We know only that our commitment is necessary. Let us learn to rest in the tenderness of the arms of the Father amid our creative and generous commitment. Let us keep marching forward; let us give him everything, allowing him to make our efforts bear fruit in his good time.”
~Pope Francis

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sin

"Before we commit a sin, Satan assures us that it is of no consequence; after we commit a sin, he persuades us that it is unforgivable."
~Fulton Sheen

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Poem


(Picture found here)
The poem wants to be an extra bone
in the body. Lonely,
it wants the day to come back for it:
a jacket left at the coat check,
the dance floor deserted.

There is no wisdom in the poem,
but it repeats its small life as many times
as we ask. The poem is everybody's
mother, remembering what can't be found,
remembering who you are, remembering
what hasn't even happened yet.

~Sue Sinclair
 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

People at Night


(Picture found here)
A night that cuts between you and you
and you and you and you
and me : jostles us apart, a man elbowing
through a crowd.          We won't
                  look for each other, either-
wander off, each alone, not looking
in the slow crowd. Among sideshows
                  under movie signs,
                  pictures made of a million lights,
                  giants that move and again move
                  again, above a cloud of thick smells,
                  franks, roasted nutmeats-

Or going up to some apartment, yours
                  or yours, finding
someone sitting in the dark:
who is it really? So you switch the
light on to see: you know the name but
who is it ?
         But you won't see.

The fluorescent light flickers sullenly, a
pause. But you command. It grabs
each face and holds it up
by the hair for you, mask after mask.
                  You and you and I repeat
                  gestures that make do when speech
                  has failed          and talk
                  and talk, laughing, saying
                  'I', and 'I',
meaning 'Anybody'.
                           No one.

~Denise Levertov
 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran’s Day


(Picture found here)
“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.”
~Harry Truman
 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Laughter

“Laughter has something in it in common with the ancient winds of faith and inspiration; it unfreezes pride and unwinds secrecy; it makes men forget themselves in the presence of something greater than themselves; something (as the common phrase goes about a joke) that they cannot resist.”
~G. K. Chesterton

“Alone among the animals, Man is shaken with the beautiful madness called laughter; as if he had caught sight of some secret in the very shape of the universe hidden from the universe itself.”
~G. K. Chesterton

A cheerful heart is a good medicine,
    but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.
~Proverbs 17:22

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Christ's Church Shall Glory in His Power

Christ's church shall glory in his power
and grow to his perfection;
he is our rock, our mighty tower,
our life, our resurrection:
so by his skillful hand
the church of Christ shall stand;
the master-builder's plan
he works, as he began,
and soon will crown with splendour.

Christ's people serve his wayward world
to whom he seems a stranger;
he knows its welcome from of old,
he shares our joy, our danger:
so strong, and yet so weak,
the church of Christ shall speak;
his cross our greatest need,
his word the vital seed
that brings a fruitful harvest.

Christ's living lamp shall brightly burn,
and to our earthly city
forgotten beauty shall return,
and purity and pity:
to give the oppressed their right
the church of Christ shall fight;
and though the years seem long
he is our strength and song,
and he is our salvation.

Christ's body triumphs in his name;
one Father, sovereign giver,
one Spirit, with his love aflame,
one Lord, the same for ever:
to you, O God our prize,
the church of Christ shall rise
beyond all measured height,
to that eternal light,
where Christ shall reign all-holy.

~Words: Christopher Idle & Music: Martin Luther

Friday, November 7, 2014

Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus


(Picture found here)
Lord, have mercy
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy
Lord, have mercy.

Christ, hear us
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us
Christ, graciously hear us. 

God the Father of Heaven,
have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Spirit,
have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mother,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, substantially united to the Word of God,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of Infinite Majesty,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Sacred Temple of God,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Tabernacle of the Most High,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, House of God and Gate of Heaven,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, burning furnace of charity,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, abode of justice and love,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, king and center of all hearts,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom are all treasures of wisdom and knowledge,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwells the fullness of divinity,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father was well pleased,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, patient and most merciful,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, enriching all who invoke Thee,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, fountain of life and holiness,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our sins,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, loaded down with opprobrium,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, bruised for our offenses,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, obedient to death,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our peace and our reconciliation,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who trust in Thee,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in Thee,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, delight of all the Saints,
have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world,
spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world,
graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us, O Lord.

V. Jesus, meek and humble of heart.
R. Make our hearts like to Thine.

Let us pray:
Almighty and eternal God, look upon the Heart of Thy most beloved Son and upon the praises and satisfaction which He offers Thee in the name of sinners; and to those who implore Thy mercy, in Thy great goodness, grant forgiveness in the name of the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who livest and reignest with Thee forever and ever. Amen.
 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

When Breaks The Day


Photo by Matt Champlin on Flickr
When breaks the day, and dawn grows bright,
Christ nearer seems, the Light of Light:
From us, like shades that nighttime brings,
Drive forth, O Lord, all darksome things.

Earth’s dusky veil is torn away,
Pierced by the sparkling beams of day;
Our life resumes its hues apace,
Soon as the Daystar shows his face.

So thee, O Christ, alone we seek,
With conscience pure and temper meek:
With tears and chants we humbly pray
That thou wouldst guide us through each day.

For many’a shade obscures each sense
Which needs thy beams to purge it thence;
Light of the Morning Star, thy grace
Shed on us from thy cloudless face.

All laud to God the Father be,
All praise, eternal Son, to thee;
All glory, as is ever meet,
To God the Holy Paraclete. Amen.

Music: Anonymous, Gregorian
Text: attributed to St. Gregory
Translation: John Neale
 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Shoulders



A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.

No car must splash him.
No car drive too near to his shadow.

This man carries the world’s most sensitive cargo
but he’s not marked.
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,
HANDLE WITH CARE.

His ear fills up with breathing.
He hears the hum of a boy’s dream
deep inside him.

We’re not going to be able
to live in this world
if we’re not willing to do what he’s doing
with one another.

The road will only be wide.
The rain will never stop falling.

~Naomi Shihab Nye
 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Unhappiness


(Picture found here)
“The sense of unhappiness is so much easier to convey than that of happiness. In misery we seem aware of our own existence, even though it may be in the form of a monstrous egotism: this pain of mine is individual, this nerve that winces belongs to me and to no other. But happiness annihilates us: we lose our identity.”
~Graham Greene
 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Ephesians 1:17-18

"May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, grant you a spirit of wisdom and insight to know Him clearly. May God enlighten your innermost vision that you may know the great hope to which He has called you, the wealth of His glorious heritage to be distributed among the members of the church." (re-post)

Friday, October 31, 2014

The humble

“The humble live surprised. The humble live by joy.”
~Ann Voskamp

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Intermittent Rain


(Picture found here)
Rain hitting the shovel
leaned against the house,
rain eating the edges
of the metal in tiny bites,
bloating the handle,
cracking it.
The rain quits and starts again.

There are people who go into that room in the house
where the piano is and close the door.
They play to get at that thing
on the tip of the tongue,
the thing they think of first and never say.
They would leave it out in the rain if they could.

The heart is a shovel leaning against a house somewhere
among the other forgotten tools.
The heart, it's always digging up old ground,
always wanting to give things a decent burial.

But so much stays fugitive,
inside,
where it can't be reached.

The piano is a way of practising
speech when you have no mouth.
When the heart is a shovel that would bury itself.
Still we can go up casually to a piano
and sit down and start playing
the way the rain felt in someone else's bones
a hundred years ago
before we were born,
before we were even one cell,
when the world was clean,
when there were no hearts or people,
the way it sounded
a billion years ago, pattering
into unknown ground. Rain

hitting the shovel leaned against the house,
eating the edges of the metal.
It quits,
             and starts again.

~Roo Borson
 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Become A Blessing

“Just as Christ is the one through whom the love of God is fully revealed and in whom that love is experienced, so also is he the one in whom that love becomes fruitful for the benefit of others. The love of God cannot remain inactive.

Even before the beginning, that love reached out in the eternal Word and, through that Word, produced the blessings of creation. Henceforth, anyone who participates in that love and understands its nature will wish to reach out in the same way and thus to become a blessing in the lives of others.”
~Demetrius Dumm

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Lost

“For everything, in time, gets lost: the lives of peoples now remote, the tantalizing yet ultimately vanished and largely unknowable lives of virtually all of the Greeks and Romans and Ottomans and Malays and Goths and Bengals and Sudanese who ever lived, the peoples of Ur and Kush, the lives of the Hittites and Philistines that will never be known, the lives of people more recent than that, the African slaves and the slave traders, the Boers and the Belgians, those who were slaughtered and those who died in bed, the Polish counts and the Jewish shopkeepers, the blond hair and eyebrows and small white teeth that someone once loved or desired of this or that boy or girl or man or woman who was one of the five million (or six or seven) Ukrainians starved to death by Stalin, and indeed the intangible things beyond the hair and teeth and brows, the smiles and frustrations and laughter and terror and loves and hunger of every one of those millions of Ukrainians, just as the hair of a Jewish girl or boy or man or woman that someone once loved, and the teeth and the brows , the smiles and frustrations and laughter and terror of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust are now lost, or will soon be lost, because no number of books, however great, could ever document them all, even if they were to be written, which they won’t and can’t be; all that will be lost, too, their pretty legs and their deafness and the vigorous way they strode off a train with a pile of schoolbooks once, the secret family rituals and the recipes for cakes and stews and golaki, the goodness and wickedness, the saviors and the betrayers, their saving and betraying: most everything will be lost, eventually, as surely as most of what made up the lives of the Egyptians and Incas and Hittites has been lost. But for a little while some of that can be rescued, if only, faced with the vastness of all that there is and all that there ever was, somebody makes the decision to look back, to have one last look, to search for a while in the debris of the past and to see not only what was lost but what there is still to be found.”
~Daniel Mendelsohn

Monday, October 27, 2014

Scraps of moon


Photo by Scott Christy on Flickr

Scraps of moon
bobbing discarded on broken water
but sky-moon
complete, transcending
all violation
Here she seems to be talking to herself about
the shape of a life:
Only Once

All which, because it was
flame and song and granted us
joy, we thought we'd do, be, revisit,
turns out to have been what it was
that once, only; every invitation
did not begin
a series, a build-up: the marvelous
did not happen in our lives, our stories
are not drab with its absence: but don't
expect to return for more. Whatever more
there will be will be
unique as those were unique. Try
to acknowledge the next
song in its body-halo of flames as utterly
present, as now or never.

~Denise Levertov
 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

John 14:23

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”

Saturday, October 25, 2014

They Always Fall

“...remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall – think of it – always.”
~Mahatma Gandhi

Friday, October 24, 2014

Remarkable Thought

“I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking.”
~George MacDonald

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Humility

“The humble man receives praise the way a clean window takes the light of the sun. The truer and more intense the light is, the less you see of the glass.”
~Thomas Merton

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Only Just Beginning

“This is the mark of Christianity—however much a man toils, and however many righteousnesses he performs, to feel that he has done nothing, and in fasting to say, ‘This is not fasting,’ and in praying, ‘This is not prayer,’ and in perseverance at prayer, ‘I have shown no perseverance; I am only just beginning to practice and to take pains’; and even if he is righteous before God, he should say, ‘I am not righteous, not I; I do not take pains, but only make a beginning every day.’”
~Abba Macarius

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Proverbs

Open rebuke is better
    Than love carefully concealed.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
    But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
~Proverbs 27:5-6

Monday, October 20, 2014

Salvation

“God has let us know a lot. He has lifted the curtain on the problem of evil with Christ. There, the greatest evil that ever happened, both the greatest spiritual evil and the greatest physical evil, both the greatest sin (deicide) and the greatest suffering (perfect love hated and crucified), is revealed as his wise and loving plan to bring about the greatest good, the salvation of the world from sin and suffering eternally. There, the greatest injustice of all time is integrated into the plan of salvation that Saint Paul calls ‘the righteousness (justice) of God’. Love finds a way. Love is very tricky. But love needs to be trusted.

...Reality has hard corners, surprises, and terrible dangers in it. We desperately need a true road map, not nice feelings, if we are to get home...”
~Peter Kreeft

Jesus answered [the Disciples], “Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave Me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with Me. I have said this to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”
~John 16:31-33

Sunday, October 19, 2014

God Is Working His Purpose Out

God is working his purpose out
as year succeeds to year:
God is working his purpose out,
and the time is drawing near;
nearer and nearer draws the time,
the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

From utmost east to utmost west,
wherever foot hath trod,
by the mouth of many messengers
goes forth the voice of God;
give ear to me, ye continents,
ye isles, give ear to me,
that the earth may be filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

March we forth in the strength of God,
with the banner of Christ unfurled,
that the light of the glorious gospel of truth
may shine throughout the world:
fight we the fight with sorrow and sin
to set their captives free,
that the earth may be filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

All we can do is nothing worth
unless God blesses the deed;
vainly we hope for the harvest-tide
till God gives life to the seed;
yet nearer and nearer draws the time,
the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

~Words: Arthur Ainger & Music: Martin Shaw

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Praise the Lord


Photo by jmphotography on Flickr

Praise the Lord for He is good;
sing to our God for He is loving:
to Him our praise is due.

...

He covers the heavens with clouds;
He prepares the rain for the earth,
making mountains sprout with grass
and with plants to serve man’s needs.
He provides the beasts with their food
and young ravens that call upon Him.

His delight is not in horses
nor His pleasure in warriors’ strength.
The Lord delights in those who revere Him,
in those who wait for His love.

~Psalm 147:1,8-11
 

Friday, October 17, 2014

October

“October's the month
When the smallest breeze
Gives us a shower
Of autumn leaves.
Bonfires and pumpkins,
Leaves sailing down -
October is red
And golden and brown.”

~Children’s Folk Song

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The New Trinity

“We can say that the family is the unit of the state; that it is the cell that makes up the formation. Round the family do indeed gather the sanctities that separate men from ants and bees. Decency is the curtain of that tent; liberty is the wall of that city; property is but the family farm; honour is but the family flag. In the practical proportions of human history, we come back to that fundamental of the father and the mother and the child. It has been said already that if this story cannot start with religious assumptions, it must none the less start with some moral or metaphysical assumptions, or no sense can be made of the story of man. And this is a very good instance of that alternative necessity. If we are not of those who begin by invoking a divine Trinity, we must none the less invoke a human Trinity; and see that triangle repeated everywhere in the pattern of the world. For the highest event in history, to which all history looks forward and leads up, is only something that is at once the reversal and the renewal of that triangle. Or rather it is the one triangle superimposed so as to intersect the other, making a sacred pentacle of which, in a mightier sense than that of the magicians, the fiends are afraid. The old Trinity was of father and mother and child and is called the human family. The new is of child and mother and father and has the name of the Holy Family. It is in no way altered except in being entirely reversed; just as the world which is transformed was not in the least different, except in being turned upside-down.”
~G. K. Chesterton

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Morning Hymn


Autumn photo by wistine on Flickr
Eternal Maker of the light,
True Light itself, surpassing day,
No gloom or darkness can You know,
In Your own light which has no end.

Pale shades of night are yielding fast,
Before the bold advance of day;
Resplendent shines the morning star
While other constellations fade.

We gladly rise to sing Your praise,
And thank You with renewed delight,
That rising sun brings back the day,
To conquer night’s obscurity.

Most Holy One, we beg of You
Let not our souls be led astray,
By nature’s pleasures and desires
Or by the world’s deceiving glare.

Let no contention raise disputes,
Nor greed disgrace a Christian’s name,
Nor greed for riches be a snare,
Nor evil thoughts corrupt our minds.

But let us show well-governed souls,
Within a body chaste and pure,
To spend this day in work and prayer,
For Christ our Leader and our Lord.

O Father, this we ask be done
Through Jesus Christ Your only Son,
Whom in the Spirit we adore:
One God who reigns for evermore.
Amen.

~Text: Anonymous from the fifth or sixth century (Translation: Benedictines of Saint Cecilia’s Abbey) & Music: Andernach Gesangbuch
 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Remain Faithful

“I shall promise You one thing, God, just one very small thing: I shall never burden my today with cares about my tomorrow, although that takes some practice. Each day is sufficient unto itself. I shall try to help You, God to stop my strength ebbing away, though I cannot vouch for it in advance...
...we must help You and defend Your dwelling place inside us to the last... You are sure to go through lean times with me now and then, when my faith weakens a little, but believe me, I shall always labor for You and remain faithful to You and I shall never drive You from my presence.”
~Etty Hillesum

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Caged Skylark

As a dare-gale skylark scanted in a dull cage
  Man’s mounting spirit in his bone-house, mean house, dwells—
  That bird beyond the remembering his free fells;
This in drudgery, day-labouring-out life’s age.

Though aloft on turf or perch or poor low stage,
  Both sing sometímes the sweetest, sweetest spells,
  Yet both droop deadly sómetimes in their cells
Or wring their barriers in bursts of fear or rage.

Not that the sweet-fowl, song-fowl, needs no rest—
Why, hear him, hear him babble and drop down to his nest,
  But his own nest, wild nest, no prison.

Man’s spirit will be flesh-bound when found at best,
But uncumbered: meadow-down is not distressed
  For a rainbow footing it nor he for his bónes rísen.

~Gerard Manley Hopkins

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Irreverence in Church


Saint Louis Church - Buffalo, NY
     “When the Patriarch Jacob saw in a dream the ladder reaching to Heaven, on the top of which God was seated, while numerous angels ascended and descended by it, he woke full of astonishment and reverence: ‘And trembling, he said: How terrible is this place! this is no other but the house of God, and the gate of Heaven. Indeed the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not.’ But, holy Patriarch, what are you saying? Do you not know that God is present in all places? Certainly, I do; but here I see in a special manner the effect of His presence, namely, the extraordinary blessing He confers; and I knew it not. See there, my dear brethren, as St. Gregory says, that is a figure of our Christian churches; there is not one of them which does not resemble a ladder leading to Heaven, by which our prayers ascend to God, and His blessings and mercies come down to us. But perhaps, if I were to inquire into the matter, I should find many Christians who do not know what kind of a place the Church is, nor what kind of a Lord dwells in it...

...Many Christians know not and think not of the Lord who dwells in our churches; or else they know not how to behave towards Him...”

~St. Robert Bellarmine
 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Opening Stanza from Choruses from "The Rock"

The Eagle soars in the summit of Heaven,
The Hunter with his dogs pursues his circuit.

O perpetual revolution of configured stars,

O perpetual recurrence of determined seasons,

O world of spring and autumn, birth and dying

The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to GOD.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Bring us farther from GOD and nearer to the Dust.
~T. S. Eliot

Friday, October 10, 2014

Concentrate Elsewhere

“Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself.”
~Thomas Merton

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Circus of Faith

A squirrel scampers through a circle of trees,
             chattering vociferously
             as branches give way.
Balancing precariously, she flies
             between earth and sky.

Does she catch a glimpse of the hawk
             circling majestically
             above her?
Does she long for the wonder
             of being held
             on the wings of the wind?

Or is she content
             with the daily challenge
                          in her trapeze
                          act of faith?

                          ~Lillian Englert