Thursday, February 26, 2015

Joyful Persons

“Joyful persons do not necessarily make jokes, laugh, or even smile. They are not people with an optimistic outlook on life who always revitalize the seriousness of a moment or event. No, joyful persons see with open eyes the hard reality of human existence and at the same time are not imprisoned by it. They have no illusion about the evil powers that roam around, ‘looking for someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8), but they also know that death has no final power. They suffer with those who suffer, yet they do not hold on to suffering; they point beyond it to an everlasting peace.”
~Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

February Evening in New York


(Picture found here)
As the stores close, a winter light
opens air to iris blue,
glint of frost through the smoke
grains of mica, salt of the sidewalk.

As the buildings close, released autonomous
feet pattern the streets
in hurry and stroll; balloon heads
drift and dive above them; the bodies
aren't really there.

As the lights brighten, as the sky darkens,
a woman with crooked heels says to another woman
while they step along at a fair pace,
"You know, I'm telling you, what I love best
is life. I love life! Even if I ever get
to be old and wheezy--or limp! You know?
Limping along?--I'd still..." Out of hearing.

To the multiple disordered tones
of gears changing, a dance
to the compass points, out, four-way river.
Prospect of sky
wedged into avenues, left at the ends of streets,
west sky, east sky: more life tonight! A range
of open time at winter's outskirts.

~Denise Levertov
 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

His Word Will Do Whatever He Wills

Thus says the LORD:
Just as from the heavens
   the rain and snow come down
And do not return there
   till they have watered the earth,
   making it fertile and fruitful,
Giving seed to the one who sows
   and bread to the one who eats,
So shall My word be
   that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
   but shall do My will,
   achieving the end for which I sent it.
~Isaiah 55:10-11

Monday, February 23, 2015

Turning

Turn my heart to Your decrees,
    and not to selfish gain.
Turn my eyes from looking at vanities;
    give me life in Your ways.
Confirm to Your servant Your promise,
    which is for those who fear You.
Turn away the disgrace that I dread,
    for Your ordinances are good.
See, I have longed for Your precepts;
    in Your righteousness give me life.
~Psalm 119:36-40 (partial re-post)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

His Example

Christ suffered for you,
and left you an example
to have you follow in His footsteps.

He did no wrong;
no deceit was found in His mouth.
When He was insulted,
He returned no insult.

When He was made to suffer,
He did not counter with threats.
Instead He delivered Himself up
to the One who judges justly.

In His own body
He brought your sins to the cross,
so that all of us, dead to sin,
could live in accord with God’s will.

By His wounds you were healed.

For you had gone astray like sheep,
but you have now returned to the
Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
~1 Peter 2:21-25

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday


(Picture found here)
“Let us fix our attention on the blood of Christ and recognise how precious it is to God his Father, since it was shed for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to all the world.

If we review the various ages of history, we will see that in every generation the Lord has offered the opportunity of repentance to any who were willing to turn to him. When Noah preached God’s message of repentance, all who listened to him were saved. Jonah told the Ninevites they were going to be destroyed, but when they repented, their prayers gained God’s forgiveness for their sins, and they were saved, even though they were not of God’s people.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the ministers of God’s grace have spoken of repentance; indeed, the Master of the whole universe himself spoke of repentance with an oath: As I live, says the Lord, I do not wish the death of the sinner but his repentance. He added this evidence of his goodness: House of Israel, repent of your wickedness. Tell the sons of my people: If their sins should reach from earth to heaven, if they are brighter than scarlet and blacker than sackcloth, you need only turn to me with your whole heart and say, ‘Father,’ and I will listen to you as a holy people.

In other words, God wanted all his beloved ones to have the opportunity to repent and he confirmed this desire by his own almighty will. That is why we should obey his sovereign and glorious will and prayerfully entreat his mercy and kindness...”
~St. Clement
 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sayings of Church Fathers On Fasting

“There was a man who was leading an ascetic life and not eating bread. He went to visit an old man. It happened that pilgrims also dropped by, and the old man fixed a modest meal for them. When they sat together to eat, the brother who was fasting picked up a single soaked pea and chewed it. When they arose from the table, the old man took the brother aside and said: ‘Brother, when you go to visit somewhere, do not display your way of life, but if you want to keep to it, stay in your cell and never come out.’ He accepted what the old man said, and after that behaved like the others whenever he met with them. We are reminded here that fasting must be done in secret, not before others, as the Lord has said: ‘But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.’ --St. Matthew 6:17-18”

“A brother said to an old man: ‘There are two brothers. One of them stays in his cell quietly, fasting for six days at a time, and imposing on himself a good deal of discipline, and the other serves the sick. Which one of them is more acceptable to God?’ The old man replied: ‘Even if the brother who fasts six days were to hang himself up by the nose, he could not equal the one who serves the sick.’ Here we learn that love is above fasting, that we must not presume to put our fasting above ‘the more excellent way,’ the ‘new commandment’ to love one another.”

“It was said about an old man that he endured seventy weeks of fasting, eating only once a week. He asked God about certain words in the Holy Scripture, but God did not answer him. Then he said to himself: ‘Look, I have put in this much effort, but I haven't made any progress. So now I will go to see my brother and ask him.’ And when he had gone out, closed the door and started off, an angel of the Lord was sent to him, and said: ‘Seventy weeks of fasting have not brought you near to God. But now that you are humbled enough to go to your brother, I have been sent to you to reveal the meaning of the words.’ Then the angel explained the meaning which the old man was seeking, and went away. Along with fasting there must be humility! Fasting opens the way; it is a means to an end; it is not the end itself.”

“I myself once harshly judged a monk whom I saw drinking milk during the Great Fast. He did it so routinely that I thought, ‘Why, he must think nothing of the ascetic life.’ It was I who had forgotten the rule of the inner life -- that one judges himself and excuses others. I later learned that the monk was ill and had to have milk to ingest his medication. I learned something about hasty judgments...”

“Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said: ‘Abba, as much as I am able I practice a small rule, a little fasting, some prayer and meditation, and remain quiet, and as much as possible I keep my thought clean. What else should I do?’ Then the old man stood up and stretched out his hands toward heaven, and his fingers became like ten torches of flame. And he said: ‘If you wish, you can become all flame.’ We must never be shortsighted about the goal of our Christian life with all its efforts. It is nothing less than theosis, union with the Living God, becoming ‘all flame.’”

Monday, February 16, 2015

They could not tell me who should be my lord

They could not tell me who should be my lord, 
But I could read from every word they said
The common thought: Perhaps that lord was dead,
And only a story now and a wandering word.
How could I follow a word or serve a fable,
They asked me. ‘Here are lords a-plenty. Take
Service with one, if only for your sake,
Yet better be your own master if you’re able.’
I would rather scour the roads, a masterless dog,
Than take such service, be a public fool,
Obstreperous or tongue-tied, a good rogue,
Than be with those, the clever and the dull,
Who say that lord is dead; when I hear
Daily his dying whisper in my ear. 

~Edwin Muir

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Prayer

"Eternal God, the cloud of Your splendor and the fire of Your love revealed Your Son on the mountain heights. In the mundane predictability of our lives, grant us moments when sight gives way to insight and the paths of earth become the road to heaven. Amen."
~Church Liturgy

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Love's Philosophy


(Picture found here)
The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean;
The winds of heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In another's being mingle--
Why not I with thine?

See, the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister flower could be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea;--
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?

~Percy Bysshe Shelley
 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Hard-times


(Painting by William Wray - found here)
“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man's abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.”
~Henry David Thoreau
  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Abba! Father!

“All the thoughts inspired by the Holy Spirit may be distilled to their essence in the one cry: Abba! Father! . . . No one can enter this Kingdom who will not yield like a child at play and agree to be led by the Spirit of God in the roundelay of God’s children.

But in order to dance with such freedom we must first unlearn all those encumbering adult habits that fill us with slavish fear and chain us to the earth, all those corrupting tendencies that inhibit the heart from recognizing that God alone is great and that before him we are all children.

We must work at making ourselves very small, until the greatest joy of our hearts will be to exclaim to God with boundless trust: Abba! Father! (cf. Rom 8:14-15). Only this password, in the Child Jesus’ mother tongue, will gain us admittance to the Kingdom.”
~Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis

Monday, February 9, 2015

Answers

I kept my answers small and kept them near;
Big questions bruised my mind but still I let
Small answers be a bullwark to my fear.

The huge abstractions I kept from the light;
Small things I handled and caressed and loved.
I let the stars assume the whole of night.

But the big answers clamoured to be moved
Into my life. Their great audacity
Shouted to be acknowledged and believed.

Even when all small answers build up to
Protection of my spirit, still I hear
Big answers striving for their overthrow.

And all the great conclusions coming near.

~Elizabeth Jennings

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Psalm 26:8

O Lord, I love the house where You dwell,
    the place where Your glory abides.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Where I Start Each Day

“I have, by God’s grace, learned as a member of the Christian community what is the nature of God’s mercy, which does not leave me to overcome my sin by my own effort, so I have something to say to the fellow-sufferer who does not know where to look for hope. And what I have to say depends utterly on my willingness not to let go of that awareness of myself that reminds me where I start each day—not as a finished saint but as a needy person still struggling to grow.”
~Rowan Williams

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Not the loss alone

Not the loss alone,
But what comes after.
If it ended completely
At loss, the rest
Wouldn’t matter.

But you go on.
And the world also.

And words, words
In a poem or song:
Aren’t they a stream
On which your feelings float?

Aren’t they also
The banks of that stream
And you yourself the flowing?

~Gregory Orr

Monday, February 2, 2015

Canticle of Simeon


(Picture found here)
Lord, now You let Your servant go in peace;
Your word has been fulfilled:

my own eyes have seen the salvation
which You have prepared in the sight of every people:

a light to reveal You to the nations
and the glory of Your people Israel.

~Luke 2:29-32
 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Psalm 19

The heavens proclaim the glory of God,
    and the firmament shows forth the work of his hands.
Day unto day takes up the story
    and night unto night makes known the message.
No speech, no word, no voice is heard
    yet their span extends through all the earth,
their words to the utmost bounds of the world.

There he has placed a tent for the sun;
it comes forth like a bridegroom coming from his tent,
    rejoices like a champion to run its course.
At the end of the sky is the rising of the sun;
    to the furthest end of the sky is its course.
    There is nothing concealed from its burning heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    it revives the soul.
The rule of the Lord is to be trusted,
    it gives wisdom to the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
    they gladden the heart.
The command of the Lord is clear,
    it gives light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is holy,
    abiding for ever.
The decrees of the Lord are truth
    and all of them just.
They are more to be desired than gold,
    than the purest of gold
and sweeter are they than honey,
    than honey from the comb.

So in them your servant finds instruction;
    great reward is in their keeping.
But who can detect all his errors?
    From hidden faults acquit me.
From presumption restrain your servant
    and let it not rule me.
Then shall I be blameless,
    clean from grave sin.

May the words of my mouth,
    and the meditation of my heart,
be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord,
    my rock and my redeemer.