Sunday, August 31, 2014

Marks of the Christian

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
~Romans 12: 9-21

Friday, August 29, 2014

Bilbo's Last Song (At the Grey Havens)

Day is ended, dim my eyes,
but journey long before me lies.
Farewell, friends! I hear the call.
The ship's beside the stony wall.
Foam is white and waves are grey;
beyond the sunset leads my way.
Foam is salt, the wind is free;
I hear the rising of the Sea.

Farewell, friends! The sails are set,
the wind is east, the moorings fret.
Shadows long before me lie,
beneath the ever-bending sky,
but islands lie behind the Sun
that I shall raise ere all is done;
lands there are to west of West,
where night is quiet and sleep is rest.

Guided by the Lonely Star,
beyond the utmost harbour-bar,
I'll find the heavens fair and free,
and beaches of the Starlit Sea.
Ship, my ship! I seek the West,
and fields and mountains ever blest.
Farewell to Middle-earth at last.
I see the Star above my mast!

~J. R. R. Tolkien

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Heaven-shaped Heart

“The big, blazing, terrible truth about man is that he has a heaven-sized hole in his heart, and nothing else can fill it. We pass our lives trying to fill the Grand Canyon with marbles. As Augustine said: ‘Thou hast made us for thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.’ That’s the greatest sentence ever written outside Scripture because it tells us the secret of our destiny, our happiness—and our unhappiness, It is, however, not only unfashionable but terribly threatening. It tears the band-aid off our wound. It shows up our false gods for the tiny things they are compared with our own hearts. People do not take kindly to idol smashing. Look what they did to the prophets.

But we should be encouraged. Even the sceptic who does not believe in heaven has a heaven-shaped heart. The deck is stacked and the dice are loaded, loaded with the love of heaven. Amor meus, pondus meum, said Augustine: ‘My love is my weight.’ The gravity of his own heart pulls the sceptic in heaven’s direction, even while the antigravity of sin pulls him away.”
~Peter Kreeft

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Open Door

O Mystery of life,
That, after all our strife,
Defeats, mistakes,
Just as, at last, we see
The road to victory,
The tired heart breaks.

Just as the long years give
Knowledge of how to live,
Life’s end draws near;
As if, that gift being ours,
God needed our new powers
In worlds elsewhere.

There, if the soul whose wings
Were won in suffering, springs
To life anew,
Justice would have some room
For hope beyond the tomb,
And mercy, too.

And since, without this dream
No light, no faintest gleam
Answers our ‘why’;
But earth and all its race
Must pass and leave no trace
On that blind sky;

Shall reason close that door
On all we struggled for,
Seal the soul’s doom;
Make of this universe
One wild answering curse,
One lampless tomb?

Mine be the dream, the creed
That leaves for God, indeed,
For God, and man,
One open door whereby
To prove His world no lie
And crown His plan.

~Alfred Noyes

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Being "True To Yourself"

“When calling for authenticity, we need to take seriously the brokenness and sinfulness of the human heart. If to be authentic means to be who we really are or to express what we really feel, then in most cases I’m going to vote for hypocrisy. Our prisons are filled with men and women who acted on their feelings and impulses. If authenticity is about being true to yourself, these individuals should be our models of inspiration.”
~Erwin McManus

Monday, August 25, 2014

Greatness of Soul

“There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.”
~Herman Melville

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Praise, My Soul, The King Of Heaven

Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Evermore His praises sing:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.

Praise Him for His grace and favor
To our fathers in distress.
Praise Him still the same as ever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Glorious in His faithfulness.

Fatherlike He tends and spares us;
Well our feeble frame He knows.
In His hands He gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Widely yet His mercy flows.

Frail as summer’s flower we flourish,
Blows the wind and it is gone;
But while mortals rise and perish
Our God lives unchanging on,
Praise Him, Praise Him, Hallelujah
Praise the High Eternal One!

Angels, help us to adore Him;
Ye behold Him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before Him,
Dwellers all in time and space.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise with us the God of grace.

~Words: Henry Lyte & Music: John Goss

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Most and Least

“Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.”
~Goethe

Friday, August 22, 2014

It Is Fire

“Christianity is not a code of ethics for improving the behavior of humanity. Our faith is much more than that. It is light breaking into darkness. It is salvation. It is fire.”
~Michael O’Brien (from the novel Eclipse of the Sun - re-post)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Love and Marriage

“It seems like people make the mistake of thinking love is about the bedroom. It's not. It's about the emergency room. Love and marriage are about who will sit there and wait.”
~Stephen Tobolowsky

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Prayer Seeking God

O Lord,
teach me to seek You,
and reveal Yourself to me
when I seek You.

For I cannot seek You unless
You first teach me,
nor find you unless
You first reveal Yourself to me.

Let me seek You in longing,
and long for You in seeking.

Let me find You in love,
and love You in finding.

~St. Ambrose

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Water of Life


Stephen Broadbent's sculpture "Water of Life"
“A sculptural water feature that presents the life changing encounter between Jesus and the woman of Samaria, as told in John’s gospel, celebrating the literal and spiritual, life-giving properties of water. The circular shape brings the two figures face to face, lending intensity and tenderness to the encounter. Water flows continually from the shared cup, over the hands and into the pool in the dish below, from where the sculpture is illuminated, through the water. Around this dish are the words, “Jesus said, ‘the water that I shall give will be an inner spring always welling up for eternal life’ (John 4:14).”
~Stephen Broadbent

Monday, August 18, 2014

Renew the Face of the Earth

“There is a saying: ‘Send forth your Spirit and all things will be created and you shall renew the face of the earth.’ Do you realize that that is true—that he can come like a gentle breath ‘blowing where it listens and you hear the sound thereof but cannot tell whence it comes, and where it goes,’ and that he can touch your soul and make everything different? What was real before still remains, yet everything has been renewed. Then you become aware that you have a heart and that you, too, have received the ability to love, and things are filled with a gentle and holy meaning, and you know that everything is good and that it is worthwhile—divinely worthwhile—to be alive and to persevere.”
~Romano Guardini

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Peace

“Calm the waves of this heart, O God; calm its tempests. Calm yourself, O my soul, so that God is able to rest in you, so that God’s peace may cover you. Yes, You give us peace, O God, peace that the whole world can never take away.”
Amen
~Søren Kierkegaard

Friday, August 15, 2014

Sad

“Every disordered soul is its own punishment.”
~St. Augustine

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I snatch a morning’s moment

“I snatch a minute before going to work. This comfortably cool morning. A wavy pattern on the rug, sunlight through the half-cocked Venetian blinds, and, before that, through the leafy branches of the trees.  The cobalt blue of the rug scintillates like the sea.

That image, built in a snatched moment, but not out of nothing. The image moves dialectically through the causes. An image builds up, complex but in the end, double, and asymmetrically so, the sun image coupled with the image of the sea. A hierarchy of sorts.

A meditation of sorts. And now I’m late for work.”

~Tom D'Evelyn

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Setting Sun

The setting sun now dies away,
And darkness comes at close of day;
Your brightest beams, dear Lord, impart,
And let them shine within our heart.

We praise Your name with joy this night:
Please watch and guide us till the light;
Joining the music of the blest,
O Lord, we sing ourselves to rest.

To God the Father, God the Son,
And Holy Spirit, Three in One,
Trinity blest, whom we adore,
Be praise and glory evermore.

~Text: based upon the hymn ascribed to St. Ambrose (340-397), modified by Pope Urban VIII, Translation: Geoffrey Laycock & Music: Georg Joseph

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Victory Over Self

“Here we discover a great error, and one so much the more injurious as it is the less guarded against. Many who aspire to the spiritual life, being rather lovers of themselves than of that which is needful (although indeed they know it not), select for the most part those practices which accord with their own taste, and neglect others which touch to the quick their natural inclinations and sensual appetites, to overcome which all reason demands that they should put forth their full strength. Therefore, beloved, I advise and entreat you to cherish a love for that which is painful and difficult, for such things will bring you victory over self—on this all depends.”
~Dom Lorenzo Scupoli

Monday, August 11, 2014

Fight

“‘Where were You God?’ Antony asked, ‘Why didn’t You ease my temptations and pains?’ And a voice came to him: ‘Antony, I was here, but I waited to see you fight.’”
~St. Athanasius (from The Life of St. Antony)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing

O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.

Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
’Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
’Tis life, and health, and peace.

He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.

He speaks, and, listening to His voice,
New life the dead receive,
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
The humble poor believe.

Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come,
And leap, ye lame, for joy.

Glory to God, and praise and love
Be ever, ever given,
By saints below and saints above,
The Church in earth and heaven.

~Words: Charles Wesley & Music: Carl Gläser

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Way of It

When I discovered this poem it reminded me of my wife (especially our early years). She is so amazingly creative. She is also incredibly sacrificial to our children and me. Since her birthday is today and our anniversary is right around the corner, I thought I would post it. I pray God will help me to grow more and more in the sacrificing way for her and our children...

With her fingers she turns paint
into flowers, with her body
flowers into a remembrance
of herself. She is at work
always, mending the garment
of our marriage, foraging
like a bird for something
for us to eat. If there are thorns
in my life, it is she who
will press her breast to them and sing.

Her words, when she would scold,
are too sharp. She is busy
after for hours rubbing smiles
into the wounds. I saw her,
when young, and spread the panoply
of my feathers instinctively
to engage her. She was not deceived,
but accepted me
...as someone
she could build a home with
for her imagined child.

~R. S. Thomas

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Different Form of Sight

“Rose tore her eyes from her drawing to see two gasping little girls running hand in hand. They went past at a tremendous clip, leaving in their wake a whirr of whipped air, spiraling leaves, and a stream of sound like a long pure note, as if they were humming together.

One child was blind. Her eyes were gouged and scarred, her head nodding in a sightless headlong plunge, her face intent on nothing save the grip of her companion’s hand, the unsuspected thickness of air, and the taste of utter exhilaration. On the face of her seeing friend were other ecstasies—large, open, racehorse eyes, the panting thoroughbred power of giving the impossible thing. The seeing girl had bestowed upon her blind friend a different form of sight, the feeling of wind on skin, of small unused muscles pumping at catastrophic speed, the awesome pitch through treacherous air that always contained within it the threat of collision, and the promise of soaring.

There is my soul, thought Rose. O, O, ay, ay, that I might trust what you are doing with me in this rushing darkness!

~Michael O’Brien (from the novel A Cry of Stone)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Transfiguration


(Picture found here)
"Our Lord, after foretelling His Passion to His disciples, had exhorted them to follow the path of His sufferings (Mt. 16:21,24). Now in order that anyone go straight along a road, he must have some knowledge of the end: thus an archer will not shoot the arrow straight unless he first see the target. Hence Thomas said (Jn. 14:5): 'Lord, we know not whither Thou goest; and how can we know the way?' Above all is this necessary when hard and rough is the road, heavy the going, but delightful the end. Now by His Passion Christ achieved glory, not only of His soul, not only of His soul, which He had from the first moment of His conception, but also of His body; according to Luke (24:26): 'Christ ought [Vulg.: 'ought not Christ'] to have suffered these things, and so to enter into His glory (?).' To which glory He brings those who follow the footsteps of His Passion, according to Acts 14:21: 'Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.' Therefore it was fitting that He should show His disciples the glory of His clarity (which is to be transfigured), to which He will configure those who are His; according to Phil. 3:21: '(Who) will reform the body of our lowness configured [Douay: 'made like'] to the body of His glory.' Hence Bede says on Mk. 8:39: 'By His loving foresight He allowed them to taste for a short time the contemplation of eternal joy, so that they might bear persecution bravely.'"
~St. Thomas Aquinas

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Dreamer

    “You know,” Hugo mused sitting back, the lines of his face easing, “you know, when I was a boy, I used to walk out in the hills beyond Birmingham. Out as far as Kingstanding.” He chuckled to himself. “I always thought someday I would meet a king standing out there. I was a romantic in those days; at fourteen years of age I was a romantic. ...Wilson was making speeches at Versailles, the war to end all wars was over, and the streets were full of lads with missing limbs. My father was out of work that year. There wasn’t enough money for coal. My mother was feeding us three times a day on porridge. Yet I was never happier. Spent too much time in the Museum, I suppose, looking at too many Pre-Raphaelites. One Saturday I walked and walked till the leather was falling off my boots, and the hobs began to dig into the soles of my feet. I didn’t care. I was looking for a king standing, and I knew I would find him that very day. As dusk came on, my heart began to sink. The day was ending and I had not found him. A black cloud descended on me. I’m a fool, I said to myself. I’m a dreamer, just like Dad says. I turned to walk back to the city, and suddenly I saw a sight that stopped me dead in my tracks. Beside the road, lights were coming on in an old brick manor house. In a great round window I saw the king. He was standing with one arm reaching for me, and the other touching his chest. Below him in the field three white horses were grazing.”
    Hugo shook his head. “When you’re a kid, everything’s bigger than life. The king was a stained-glass window, of course. Some kind of chapel. The horses weren’t bucking or galloping. They were as quiet as a boneyard, just lifted their heads and watched me pass. There weren’t any stars falling. But it was like a glorious sign, like happiness that comes out of nowhere at the very moment when everything seems most dark.”
    “So, did you go in and meet the king?” Esther asked.
    “Of course not. I went home. I drew the scene with a stub of pencil on lined paper. Biggest mistake I ever made.”
    “Why do you say that, Hugo?” Rose asked.
    “Because once I started drawing I couldn’t stop. It took over my life. It made me what I am.”
    “But that is a wonderful thing, Hugo!” Rose exclaimed. “You are a wonderful man!”
    Hugo and Esther chuckled simultaneously.
    “Thank you”, Hugo said. “I shall survive a few days longer on that gratuitous and entirely inaccurate observation.”

~Michael O’Brien (from the novel A Cry of Stone)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Transformed

“I remember what I felt during the moments immediately after he spoke to me. There was a final look from him, and then he disappeared. How can I record what I felt at that moment? How can the light of paradise be translated through the groping script of man? To say that it was both blessing and wound, loss and gain, emptiness and fullness, is an approximation that misleads. I remember it perfectly, but I cannot retell it in such a way that another would experience it as his own. In this library are more books than I care to count, containing the thoughts of intelligent minds published in several languages of man, and they too lack words for it. The eternal will not permit itself to be seized and rolled tightly into scrolls and stored away as artifact. We may ponder it and inscribe our thoughts about it, and learn from it, but we will never master it. The book of man’s life unrolls as he lives it, and we read it to the best of our limited ability. The book of eternal life unrolls with it, but is read by God alone.

On that day I was inebriated with joy, yet I felt sorrow too. In the radiance of the unexpected light, I saw exposed my secret despair, my lack of hope, my adoration of beauty, my hatred of men of power, my contempt for the morally fallen, and beneath it all, my subtle and most dangerously disguised pride—which is like a field of the dead. Then did I understand that throughout my life, my sins had been the only real waste. Yet everything had played its part in leading me to this moment, and even my evil choices might be transformed in the cleansing waters of repentance. Whatever was good in my past also would be transformed by this encounter and in time become like a tree of life planted beside a river, bearing fruit that others would eat. Moreover, I saw a multitude of rivers flowing along beside me as one great river, pouring into the ocean of God’s mercy. And from that ocean a cloud of witnesses would arise and pour forth its sweet rain.

All this I saw in an instant. Then I knelt and turned toward the cross and no longer feared it.”
~Michael O’Brien (from the novel Theophilos)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Fill My Cup, Lord

Like the woman at the well, I was seeking
For things that could not satisfy.
And then I heard my Savior speaking—
“Draw from My well that never shall run dry.”

Fill my cup, Lord; I lift it up Lord;
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul.
Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more.
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.

There are millions in this world who are seeking
For pleasures earthly goods afford.
But none can match the wondrous treasure
That I find in Jesus Christ my Lord.

So my brother if the things that this world gives you
Leave hungers that won’t pass away,
My blessed Lord will come and save you
If you kneel to Him and humbly pray—

~Words & Music: Richard Blanchard

Friday, August 1, 2014

Loving God

“The more a person loves God, the more reason he has to hope in Him. This hope produces in the Saints an unutterable peace, which they preserve even in adversity, because as they love God, and know how beautiful He is to those who love Him, they place all their confidence and find all their repose in Him alone.”
~St. Alphonsus Liguori