Monday, March 31, 2014

A prayer of acceptance

...The new musics berry into red fruit;
taste a lot like the old musics.
You ripen into what you didn’t know...

~Richard Osler

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days

Lord, who throughout these forty days
For us didst fast and pray,
Teach us with Thee to mourn our sins
And close by Thee to stay.

As Thou with Satan didst contend,
And didst the victory win,
O give us strength in Thee to fight,
In Thee to conquer sin.

As Thou didst hunger bear, and thirst,
So teach us, gracious Lord,
To die to self, and chiefly live
By Thy most holy Word.

And through these days of penitence,
And through Thy passiontide,
Yea, evermore in life and death,
Jesus, with us abide.

Abide with us, that so, this life
Of suffering over past,
An Easter of unending joy
We may attain at last.

~Words: Clau­dia Her­na­man & Tune: St. Flavian

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Blindness

“Having given up God so as to be self-sufficient, man has lost track of his soul. He looks in vain for himself. He finds masks, and behind masks, death.”
~Jacques Maritain

Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when He found him, He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered, “And who is He, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in Him.”
Jesus said to him, “You have seen Him, and the one speaking with you is He.”
He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him.
Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.”
~John 9:35-39

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Story That Could Be True

If you were exchanged in the cradle and
your real mother died
without ever telling the story
then no one knows your name,
and somewhere in the world
your father is lost and needs you
but you are far away.

He can never find
how true you are, how ready.
When the great wind comes
and the robberies of the rain
you stand on the corner shivering.
The people who go by–
you wonder at their calm.

They miss the whisper that runs
any day in your mind,
“Who are you really, wanderer?”–
and the answer you have to give
no matter how dark and cold
the world around you is:
“Maybe I’m a king.”

~William Stafford

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Beyond Anything We Can Imagine

In my anguish I called to the Lord;
I cried to God for help.
From His temple He heard my voice;
my cry came to His ears.

Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the mountains were shaken to their base:
they reeled at His terrible anger.
Smoke came forth from His nostrils
and scorching fire from His mouth:
coals were set ablaze by its heat.

He lowered the heavens and came down,
a black cloud under His feet.
He came enthroned on the cherubim,
He flew on the wings of the wind.

He made the darkness His covering,
the dark waters of the clouds, His tent.
A brightness shone out before Him
with hailstones and flashes of fire.

The Lord thundered in the heavens;
The Most High let His voice be heard.
~Psalm 18:6-13

“So shalt thou reach by contemplation the innermost darkness”
~St. Andrew of Crete

“...in following Him [Christ, the Light] we must gradually let go of all our preconceived notions about Him. Any positive statement we make—for example, ‘God is Light’—pops images into our heads that are based on what we have experienced on earth. But no sunlight or lamplight or starlight that we have ever seen can convey what God is truly like. Every statement we make about Him is, in the end, an analogy to fleeting, earthly things. So, every statement we make about Him, in the end, fails. If we cling to them insistently, we will be clutching nothing but a shadow.

We must give up the comprehensible God, the one lit by matchsticks of feeble human understanding. The God who knows us is beyond anything we can imagine. As far as our minds go, He is robed in incomprehensible darkness.”
~Frederica Mathewes-Green

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Paul

“The story of Paul's conversion is so fantastic that it would be easy to dismiss save for this: According to the Book of Acts, Paul was present at the stoning, by a mob, of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr. He knew the penalty—indeed by his own confession he had often enforced it—for professing faith in Jesus. Yet it was in the effort of spreading such faith that Paul—the educated, comfortable, middle-class, Jewish Pharisee—devoted his life, becoming the ‘envoy extraordinary’ of Christ. In that cause, he endured hardship, imprisonment, and martyrdom and fought, even amongst the other Apostles, for the validity of his vision, what he had seen, and the commission that Jesus had given him. For ‘these causes,’ Paul says, ‘the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.’ But they did not succeed—yet.”
~H. W. Crocker III

“Five times I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked. And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I am not indignant?

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus (blessed be He forever!) knows that I do not lie. In Damascus, the governor under King Aretas guarded the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.”
~2 Corinthians 11:24-33

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Children

My wife and I had a bit of a scare last night with our fourth daughter. Thankfully, she is doing much better after being treated. Children are such a blessing from God!

“I love these little people [children], and it is not a slight thing when those so fresh from God love us.”
~Charles Dickens

Monday, March 24, 2014

That Mysterious Simplicity

“For God must mean, among other things, that mystical and multitudinous balance of all things, by which they are at least able to stand up straight and endure; and any scientist who pretends to have exhausted this subject of ultimate sanity, I will call the lowest of religious fanatics. I will allow him to understand the madman, for the madman is an exception. But if he says he understands the sane man, then he says he has the secret of the Creator. For whenever you and I feel fully sane, we are quite incapable of naming the elements that make up that mysterious simplicity. We can no more analyse such peace in the soul than we can conceive in our heads the whole enormous and dizzy equilibrium by which, out of suns roaring like infernos and heavens toppling like precipices, He has hanged the world upon nothing.”
~From the essay: Eugenics and Other Evils, by G. K. Chesterton, 1922

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Take Up Thy Cross

“Take up thy cross,” the Savior said,
“If thou wouldst My disciple be;
Deny thyself, the world forsake,
And humbly follow after Me.”

Take up thy cross, let not its weight
Fill thy weak spirit with alarm;
His strength shall bear thy spirit up,
And brace thy heart and nerve thine arm.

Take up thy cross and follow Christ,
Nor think til death to lay it down;
For only those who bear the cross
May hope to wear the glorious crown.

To Thee, great Lord, the One in Three,
All praise forevermore ascend:
O grant us in our home to see
The heavenly life that knows no end.

~Words: Charles Ev­er­est & Music: Will­iam Gar­din­er

Friday, March 21, 2014

Anger and Mercy

“O Lord, I have heard Thy report, and I was afraid; O Lord, I considered Thy works, and I was amazed.

Between two living creatures shalt Thou be known; when the years draw nigh, Thou shalt be acknowledged; when the season cometh, Thou shalt be shown forth; when my soul is troubled, in Thine anger shalt Thou remember mercy.”
(see Habakkuk 3)

“God never changes. So how can He ‘remember’ mercy in the middle of being angry? We time-bound mortals can only imagine His experiencing a change in His emotions. But God’s anger is, in a mystery, the same thing as His mercy. His character is pure, harmonious holiness. Those who reject Him find that they still cannot escape Him: His unbearable presence then feels to them like a raging fire. Those who turn to Him in love find His presence to be all they have ever looked for; it is light and warmth and peace. Jesus said, ‘My yoke is easy,’ but an ox finds a yoke easy only if he goes in the same direction as the bigger ox yoked beside him.

If you fear God’s anger over something, it is because you are still clutching it close; you have not yet revealed it fully to His already-all-seeing sight and asked Him for His already-surrounding-you mercy. Offer to God the thing you most fear to reveal, and pray like the publican: ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’”
~Frederica Mathewes-Green

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Entrance

Whoever you are: step out of doors tonight,
Out of the room that lets you feel secure.
Infinity is open to your sight.
Whoever you are.
With eyes that have forgotten how to see
From viewing things already too well-known,
Lift up into the dark a huge, black tree
And put it in the heavens: tall, alone.
And you have made the world and all you see.
It ripens like the words still in your mouth.
And when at last you comprehend its truth,
Then close your eyes and gently set it free.

~Translated by Dana Gioia from the German of Rainer Maria Rilke

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

In His Days...


(Photo by Remo Savisaar)

“May they fear You as long as the sun
       and as long as the moon,
generations untold.
May He come down like rain
on new-mown grass,
       like showers that moisten the earth.
May the just man flourish in His days—
       and abundant peace till the moon is no more.
And may He hold sway from sea to sea,
       from the River to the ends of the earth.”

~Psalms 72: 5-8 (translation by Robert Alter)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Who Has Seen the Wind?

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

~Christina Rossetti


“The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
~John 3:8
 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

By Faith

By faith we see the hand of God
In the light of creation's grand design
In the lives of those who prove His faithfulness
Who walk by faith and not by sight

By faith our fathers roamed the earth
With the power of His promise in their hearts
Of a holy city built by God's own hand
A place where peace and justice reign

We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul's reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We'll walk by faith and not by sight

By faith the prophets saw a day
When the longed-for Messiah would appear
With the power to break the chains of sin and death
And rise triumphant from the grave

By faith the church was called to go
In the power of the Spirit to the lost
To deliver captives and to preach good news
In every corner of the earth

We will stand...

By faith this mountain shall be moved
And the power of the gospel shall prevail
For we know in Christ all things are possible
For all who call upon His name

We will stand...

~Words and Music by Keith & Kristyn Getty & Stuart Townend

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Natural Law

“Obeying the natural law does not mean submitting to an external law imposed from the outside, but rather ‘welcoming the law of one’s own being.’ It expresses what is best for us, if we wish to act in an authentically human way.”
~J. Michael Miller

Friday, March 14, 2014

Prison Meditations

“As a matter of fact we may ask ourselves whether it is worthwhile wasting time on an analysis of happiness. Is happiness not one of the luxuries of life for which no room can be found in the narrow strip of privacy which is all we have left when war occupies almost the whole of our attention? Certainly it would seem to be so in a prison cell, a space covered by three paces in each direction, one's hands fettered, one's heart filled with longings, one's head full of problems and worries.

Yet it does happen, even under these circumstances, that every now and then my whole being is flooded with pulsating life and my heart can scarcely contain the delirious joy there is in it. Suddenly, without any cause that I can perceive, without knowing why or by what right, my spirits soar again and there is not a doubt in my mind that all the promises hold good. This may sometimes be merely a reaction my defence mechanism sets up to counter depression. But not always. Sometimes it is due to a premonition of good tidings. It happened now and then in our community during a period of hardship and nearly always it was followed by an unexpected gift due to the resourcefulness of some kind soul at a time when such gifts were not customary.

But this happiness I am speaking of is something quite different. There are times when one is curiously uplifted by a sense of inner exaltation and comfort. Outwardly nothing is changed. The hopelessness of the situation remains only too obvious; yet one can face it undismayed. One is content to leave everything in God's hands. And that is the whole point. Happiness in this life is inextricably mixed with God. Fellow creatures can be the means of giving us much pleasure and of creating conditions which are comfortable and delightful, but the success of this depends upon the extent to which the recipient is capable of recognising the good and accepting it. And even this capacity is dependent on man's relationship with God.”
~Alfred Delp (died 1945) was a German priest and philosopher of the German Resistance to Nazism - He was condemned to death and executed in Germany during WWII.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Learning Lessons

“Have you learned lessons only of those who admired you, and were tender with you, and stood aside for you? Have you not learned great lessons from those who rejected you, and braced themselves against you, or disputed the passage with you?”
~Walt Whitman

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

We must not forget...

“Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’ Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’”
~Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Fruits of Faith

“...Let us take warning from St. Peter's fall. Let us not promise much; let us not talk much of ourselves; let us not be high-minded, nor encourage ourselves in impetuous bold language in religion. Let us take warning, too, from that fickle multitude who cried, first Hosanna, then Crucify. A miracle startled them into a sudden adoration of their Saviour;—its effect upon them soon died away. And thus the especial mercies of God sometimes excite us for a season. We feel Christ speaking to us through our consciences and hearts; and we fancy He is assuring us we are His true servants, when He is but calling on us to receive Him. Let us not be content with saying ‘Lord, Lord,’ without ‘doing the thing which He says.’ The husbandman's son who said, ‘I go, sir,’ yet went not to the vineyard, gained nothing by his fair words. One secret act of self-denial, one sacrifice of inclination to duty, is worth all the mere good thoughts, warm feelings, passionate prayers, in which idle people indulge themselves. It will give us more comfort on our deathbed to reflect on one deed of self-denying mercy, purity, or humility, than to recollect the shedding of many tears, and the recurrence of frequent transports, and much spiritual exultation. These latter feelings come and go; they may or may not accompany hearty obedience; they are never tests of it; but good actions are the fruits of faith, and assure us that we are Christ's; they comfort us as an evidence of the Spirit working in us...”
~John Henry Newman

Sunday, March 9, 2014

How Sweet The Name Of Jesus Sounds

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
’Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.

Dear Name, the Rock on which I build,
My Shield and Hiding Place,
My never failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace!

Jesus! my Shepherd, Guardian, Friend,
O Prophet, Priest and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
Accept the praise I bring.

~Words: John Newton & Music: Alex­an­der Rein­a­gle

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Unlocking

“But I believed - and I still do - that the way to unlock yourself, creatively and spiritually and pretty much every other way, is to be truthful. It’s the hardest thing to do, to be truthful with yourself. And if you’ve nothing to say, that’s the first line of the song: ‘I’ve nothing to say.’”
~Paul Hewson

Friday, March 7, 2014

Moments

“To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Weeping Over Sin

“...There is much in the [Desert] Fathers about weeping over sin, and it is meant literally. The ability to weep in repentance was regarded as a gift from God, something that stony, selfish hearts could not achieve. This is not a convulsive, emotional kind of weeping, however, which could be self-indulgent. It is a gentle flow of tears that is, paradoxically, freeing and consoling. This gift of tears was prized among the Desert Fathers. It was said of Abba Arsenius, who had once been a Roman senator, that, although he was still a noble and handsome figure, ‘Through much weeping his eyelashes had fallen out.’”
~Frederica Mathewes-Green

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ash Wednesday Comes and, Lord, We Hear

Ash Wednesday comes, and Lord, we hear
The word for which our spirits yearn;
Amid this world's distress and fear,
We hear Your loving call: "Return!"

"Return to Me with all your heart"
With fasting, weeping, mourning, too.
O God, we seek a brand new start,
A new beginning here with You.

You call to us — the old, the young;
You summon nations strong and weak.
When we have drifted toward the wrong,
You call us back, Your way to seek.

O God most merciful and kind,
Your love is not a prize we earn;
Yet in our life with You we find
The joy that comes when we return.

~Words: Carolyn Gillette & Tune: Thomas Tallis

Monday, March 3, 2014

Giving Meaning...

“Today words no longer arise out of silence, through a creative act of the spirit which gives meaning to language and to the silence, but from other words, from the noise of other words. Neither do they return to the silence but into the noise of other words, to become immersed therein.”
~Max Picard

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Jesus, Where'er Thy People Meet

Jesus, where’er Thy people meet,
There they behold Thy mercy seat;
Where’er they seek Thee Thou art found,
And every place is hallowed ground.

Great Shepherd of Thy chosen few,
Thy former mercies here renew;
Here, to our waiting hearts, proclaim
The sweetness of Thy saving Name.

Here may we prove the power of prayer
To strengthen faith and sweeten care;
To teach our faint desires to rise,
And bring all Heav’n before our eyes.

Lord, we are few, but Thou art near;
Nor short Thine arm, nor deaf Thine ear;
O rend the heavens, come quickly down,
And make all hearts, O Lord, Thine own!

~Words: William Cowper & Music: Lowell Mason

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Learn the Heart of God in the Words of God

"The Emperor of heaven, the Lord of men and of angels, has sent you His epistles for your life’s advantage—and yet you neglect to read them eagerly. Study them, I beg you, and meditate daily on the words of your Creator. Learn the heart of God in the words of God, that you may sigh more eagerly for things eternal, that your soul may be kindled with greater longings for heavenly joy."
~St. Gregory