Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday - Holy Week

 
Here on Earth

The old man living
In his rented room
Grows lonely as the night comes on
Especially in winter

And the boy shooting drugs
On the tenement roof
Is lonely whether or not
He has companions

Lovers lie sleeping
Side by side
A wilderness between them

And their unborn infant
Is already alone
So soon to be discarded
Even as he begins
Unfolding in the womb
Of his lonely mother

Because the scatterer
Has overtaken us
Betraying promises
Estranging lovers

Tearing us inwardly
And tearing us apart
One from another

And this is why
Those of us who are sated
Find it so easy to ignore
Those of us who are starving

And why we have been known
To torture one another
Why there are times
When we are far more cruel
Than the animals.

Nevertheless
Taken all together
Or taken one by one
We are the holiest
Of all earth’s creatures

For he who kindled
The fire of the sun
He who draws out the tender leaves
From the dark twigs of winter

He who has whittled
A cabin for the snail
Has also carved our names
In the palm of his hand

And he became a child
The better to be near us
Born in the wintertime
Born on a journey

He grew to be a man
And lived among us
To be our healing
When we were sick
Our bread
When we were hungry
To be the wine
At all our weddings

He suffered at our hands
And he forgave us
He sweat from head to foot
With human anguish
And shedding every drop of blood
To give us each other

He gave himself to us
That we might live forever

He gave us even more
Than he has given the angels.

~Anne Porter
  

Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday - Holy Week

“It is a great thing that we are promised by the Lord, but far greater is what has already been done for us, and which we now commemorate. Where were the sinners, what were they, when Christ died for them? When Christ has already given us the gift of his death, who is to doubt that he will give the saints the gift of his own life? Why does our human frailty hesitate to believe that mankind will one day live with God?”
~St. Augustine

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday

Open to me the gates of holiness:
I will enter and give thanks.
This is the Lord's own gate
where the just may enter.
I will thank You for You have answered
and You are my savior.

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes.
This day was made by the Lord;
we rejoice and are glad.

O Lord, grant us salvation;
O Lord, grant success.
Blessed in the name of the Lord
is he who comes.
We bless You from the house of the Lord;
the Lord God is our light.

Go forward in procession with branches
even to the altar.
You are my God, I thank You.
My God, I praise You.
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good;
for His love endures for ever.
~Psalm 118:19-29

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
~Zechariah 9:9

In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the
shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
~Luke 1:78-79
(re-posted)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Christ Offered Himself For Us

“The sacrifices of animal victims which our forefathers were commanded to offer to God by the holy Trinity itself, the one God of the old and the new testaments, foreshadowed the most acceptable gift of all. This was the offering which in his compassion the only Son of God would make of himself in his human nature for our sake.

The Apostle teaches that Christ offered himself for us to God as a fragrant offering and sacrifice. He is the true God and the true high priest who for our sake entered once for all into the holy of holies, taking with him not the blood of bulls and goats but his own blood. This was foreshadowed by the high priest of old when each year he took blood and entered the holy of holies.

Christ is therefore the one who in himself alone embodied all that he knew to be necessary to achieve our redemption. He is at once priest and sacrifice, God and temple. He is the priest through whom we have been reconciled, the sacrifice by which we have been reconciled, the temple in which we have been reconciled, the God with whom we have been reconciled. He alone is priest, sacrifice and temple because he is all these things as God in the form of a servant; but he is not alone as God, for he is this with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the form of God.

Hold fast to this and never doubt it: the only-begotten Son, God the Word, becoming man offered himself for us to God as a fragrant offering and sacrifice...”
~St. Fulgentius

Friday, March 27, 2015

One Thing...

“The ‘one thing’ each of us finds hardest to give up may be the single most significant sign to lead us to an entry door to our communion with God, if we could only recognize the importance of that choice.”
~Luci Shaw

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Living More For Others

(Preaching to myself a little during Lent):

“The first question we should always ask inwardly is the: what does the Lord wish me to do with or for this person?”

“The first demand of self-importance is that everything should be as we wish it, and as soon as this is not so we complain to God and are annoyed with people.”

“As to praying to the Lord to guard your tongue when you have to visit someone and are on your way there, that is a good thing.”
~St. Theophan

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Annunciation

‘Hail, space for the uncontained God’
From the Agathistos Hymn, Greece, VIc

We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,
almost always a lectern, a book; always
the tall lily.
               Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,
the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,
whom she acknowledges, a guest.

But we are told of meek obedience. No one mentions
courage.
               The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent.
                              God waited.

She was free
to accept or to refuse, choice
integral to humanness.
____________________________

Aren’t there annunciations
of one sort or another
in most lives?
                    Some unwillingly
undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,
uncomprehending.
               More often
those moments
          when roads of light and storm
          open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from
in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.
                    God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.
 ______________________________

She had been a child who played, ate, slept
like any other child – but unlike others,
wept only for pity, laughed
in joy not triumph.
Compassion and intelligence
fused in her, indivisible.

Called to a destiny more momentous
than any in all of Time,
she did not quail,
                    only asked
a simple, How can this be?
and gravely, courteously,
took to heart the angel’s reply,
perceiving instantly
the astounding ministry she was offered:

to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power –
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.
               Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love –

but who was God.

This was the minute no one speaks of,
when she could still refuse.
A breath unbreathed,
               Spirit,
                         suspended,
                                   waiting.
____________________________

She did not cry, I cannot, I am not worthy, 
nor I have not the strength.
She did not submit with gritted teeth,
                                   raging, coerced.
Bravest of all humans,
                              consent illumined her.
The room filled with its light,
the lily glowed in it,
                         and the iridescent wings.
Consent,
               courage unparalleled,
opened her utterly. 

~Denise Levertov

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Zechariah 12:10-11a

“I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and petition; and they shall look on him whom they have thrust through, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a first-born. On that day the mourning in Jerusalem shall be great.”

Monday, March 23, 2015

Come, My Way, My Truth, My Life

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a way as gives us breath;
Such a truth as ends all strife,
Such a life as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a light as shows a feast,
Such a feast as mends in length,
Such a strength as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a joy as none can move,
Such a love as none can part,
Such a heart as joys in love.

~Words: George Her­bert & Music: Ralph Vaugh­an Will­iams

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Jeremiah 31:31-34

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Draw All People

“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
~John 12:27-32

“The Cross must also be inserted in the very heart of the world. Jesus wants to be raised on high, there: in the noise of the factories and workshops, in the silence of libraries, in the loud clamour of the streets, in the stillness of the fields, in the intimacy of the family, in crowded gatherings, in stadiums ... Wherever there is a Christian striving to lead an honourable life, he should, with his love, set up the Cross of Christ, who attracts all things to himself”
~St. Josemaría Escrivá

Friday, March 20, 2015

By the Babe Unborn

If trees were tall and grasses short,
   As in some crazy tale,
If here and there a sea were blue
   Beyond the breaking pale,

If a fixed fire hung in the air
   To warm me one day through,
If deep green hair grew on great hills,
   I know what I should do.

In dark I lie; dreaming that there
   Are great eyes cold or kind,
And twisted streets and silent doors,
   And living men behind.

Let storm clouds come: better an hour,
   And leave to weep and fight,
Than all the ages I have ruled
   The empires of the night.

I think that if they gave me leave
   Within the world to stand,
I would be good through all the day
   I spent in fairyland.

They should not hear a word from me
   Of selfishness or scorn,
If only I could find the door,
   If only I were born.

~G. K. Chesterton

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Light


(Picture found here)
“...So too, when he found wandering in the mountains and hills the one sheep that had strayed from God’s flock of a hundred, he brought it back to the fold, but he did not exhaust it by driving it ahead of him. Instead, he placed it on his own shoulders and so, compassionately, he restored it safely to the flock.

So also he cried out: ‘Come to me, all you that toil and are heavy of heart’. ‘Accept my yoke’, he said, by which he meant his commands, or rather, the whole way of life that he taught us in the Gospel. He then speaks of a burden, but that is only because repentance seems difficult. In fact, however, my yoke is easy, he assures us, and my burden is light.”
~St. Maximus the Confessor
 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Healing Grace

“Our weakness and instability sway us in all directions to experience the good and the bad we encounter. This fluctuation can bring us to the point of despair, even to anger at our own helplessness, yet not to the point of sin, though close to it, because in all this interior and mental turmoil and instability and fluctuation, there is something stable and unchanging in us bringing us always to the balance point and center after the swaying and fluctuation cease temporarily. That something stable and balanced in us is the peace of God's presence permeating our very being through and through, and constantly purifying us from all that stains our body and soul, to infuse in place of corruption a new life and love that changes us and lifts us above all that is sinful.

Such is the power of the love of God in us...”

~Walter Ciszek

Monday, March 16, 2015

Atonement


(Picture found here)
“John the apostle, knowing of the atonement that Christ makes to the Father for all men, says this: Little children, I say these things so that you may not sin. But if we have sinned we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the just one. He is the atonement for our sins. In the same way Paul refers to this atonement when he says of Christ: God appointed him to be the atonement for our sins in his blood, through faith. We have then a day of atonement that remains until the world comes to an end.

God’s word tells us: The high priest shall put incense on the fire in the sight of the Lord. The smoke of the incense shall cover the mercy-seat above the tokens of the covenant, so that he may not die. He shall take some of the blood of the bull-calf and sprinkle it with his finger over the mercy-seat toward the east.

God taught the people of the old covenant how to celebrate the ritual offered to him in atonement for the sins of men. But you have come to Christ, the true high priest. Through his blood he has made God turn to you in mercy and has reconciled you with the Father. You must not think simply of ordinary blood but you must learn to recognize instead the blood of the Word. Listen to him as he tells you: This is my blood, which will be shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.

There is a deeper meaning in the fact that the high priest sprinkles the blood toward the east. Atonement comes to you from the east. From the east comes the one whose name is Dayspring, he who is mediator between God and men. You are invited then to look always to the east: it is there that the sun of righteousness rises for you, it is there that the light is always being born for you. You are never to walk in darkness; the great and final day is not to enfold you in darkness. Do not let the night and mist of ignorance steal upon you. So that you may always enjoy the light of knowledge, keep always in the daylight of faith, hold fast always to the light of love and peace.”

~Origen
 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Tree of Life


("The Tree of Life" sculpture by John Collier
found here
“How precious the gift of the cross, how splendid to contemplate! In the cross there is no mingling of good and evil, as in the tree of paradise: it is wholly beautiful to behold and good to taste. The fruit of this tree is not death but life, not darkness but light. This tree does not cast us out of paradise, but opens the way for our return.

This was the tree on which Christ, like a king on a chariot, destroyed the devil, the lord of death, and freed the human race from his tyranny. This was the tree upon which the Lord like a brave warrior wounded in hands, feet and side, healed the wounds of sin that the evil serpent had inflicted on our nature. A tree once caused our death, but now a tree brings life. Once deceived by a tree, we have now repelled the cunning serpent by a tree. What an astonishing transformation! That death should become life, that decay should become immortality, that shame should become glory! Well might the holy Apostle exclaim: Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world! The supreme wisdom that flowered on the cross has shown the folly of worldly wisdom's pride. The knowledge of all good, which is the fruit of the cross, has cut away the shoots of wickedness.

The wonders accomplished through this tree were foreshadowed clearly even by the mere types and figures that existed in the past. Meditate on these, if you are eager to learn. Was it not the wood of a tree that enabled Noah, at God's command, to escape the destruction of the flood together with his sons, his wife, his sons' wives and every kind of animal? And surely the rod of Moses prefigured the cross when it changed water into blood, swallowed up the false serpents of Pharaoh's magicians, divided the sea at one stroke and then restored the waters to their normal course, drowning the enemy and saving God's own people? Aaron's rod, which blossomed in one day in proof of his true priesthood, was another figure of the cross, and did not Abraham foreshadow the cross when he bound his son Isaac and placed him on the pile of wood?

By the cross death was slain and Adam was restored to life. The cross is the glory of all the apostles, the crown of the martyrs, the sanctification of the saints. By the cross we put on Christ and cast aside our former self. By the cross we, the sheep of Christ, have been gathered into one flock, destined for the sheepfold of heaven.”

~Theodore the Studite (759-826) was a Byzantine Greek monk and abbot of the Stoudios monastery in Constantinople.
 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Come, Ye Sinners, Poor And Needy

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.

Refrain

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.

Refrain

Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.

Refrain

View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies.
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?

Refrain

Lo! th’incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude

~Words: Joseph Hart & Music: William Walker

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lent

“Lent is the autumn of the spiritual life during which we gather fruit to keep us going for the rest of the year. Enrich yourselves with these treasures, which nobody can take away from you and which cannot be destroyed. I am accustomed to say that we will not spend Lent well unless we are determined to make the most of it. Let us, therefore, spend this Lent as if it were our last, and we will make it well.”
~St. Francis de Sales

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Freedom

“I realized that true freedom meant nothing else than letting God operate within my soul without interference.”
~Walter Ciszek

Monday, March 9, 2015

Fisherman’s Dream

John 6: 1–21

A boy, eager for excitement, I chased
The crowd along the shore. Disaster surely
Awaited—shipwreck, bodies, bones, the waste
Of life. But not that. A man, lovely
Of voice netted me with stories. I stayed.
The sea was still and quiet. The sun spoke
On the hillside. We lingered. The voice played
The hours short. Then sudden hunger broke
The calm.
---------------------I love this hour of shadows flung
Shoreward by light behind my boat. I heed
Once more the work-rough hand on my arm, the one
Who took my fish and took my bread to feed
The host. Some nights I sail out on the lake
And dream he follows walking in the wake.

~John Leax

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Fountain

“He asks for a drink, and He promises a drink. He is in need, as one hoping to receive, yet He is rich, as one about to satisfy the thirst of others. He says: If you knew the gift of God. The gift of God is the Holy Spirit. But He is still using veiled language as He speaks to the woman and gradually enters into her heart. Or is He already teaching her? What could be more gentle and kind than the encouragement He gives? If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, Give Me a drink, perhaps you might ask and He would give you living water.

What is this water that He will give if not the water spoken of in Scripture: With You is the fountain of life? How can those feel thirst who will drink deeply from the abundance in Your house?

He was promising the Holy Spirit in satisfying abundance. She did not yet understand. In her failure to grasp His meaning, what was her reply? The woman says to Him, Master, give me this drink, so that I may feel no thirst or come here to draw water. Her need forced her to this labor, her weakness shrank from it. If only she could hear those words: Come to Me, all who labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Jesus was saying this to her, so that her labors might be at an end; but she was not yet able to understand.”
~St. Augustine

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Intended From The Beginning

“...Then he decided there was no reason why he should not go a bit farther up the ravine. Finding himself at the top, he turned east and ambled along a country road without any goal or intention, passing fields where farmers loaded bags of potatoes onto carts beneath honking arrows of southbound geese.
     There he recognized the view that had always meant so much to him—the high perspective where one could look out over the valley and see a beautiful recumbent woman in the contours of the land. He smiled and moved on, realizing that he had grown beyond this fixed point where his soul had sought to anchor itself in a spinning cosmos. Man, he saw, was intended for both permanence and transience. He lived in an incarnate world where each soul sprang from its appointed place, its roots in the earth. But the trunk and the branches must grow beyond the fundamental soil, must reach up into the light, if they were to flower and bear fruit. There would be many times in the days and years to come when he would return here to meditate, but now he understood that this could never be the final station of his journey.
     The hills rolled slowly onward, and the fields gave way to stands of swaying trees. He stopped and surveyed the surrounding hills with pleasure, wondering what the next stage would be, wondering how God would continue to shape him into what had been intended from the beginning...”

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

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The One Thing Necessary

“It is only necessary to seek one thing: to be with Jesus. The man who remains with Jesus is rich, even if he is poor with regard to material things. Whoever desires the earthly more than the heavenly loses both the earthly and the heavenly. But whoever seeks the heavenly is Lord of the whole world.”
~St. Ignatius Bryanchaninov

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Reverence for God and Perseverance in His Service

From the beginning God created man out of his own generosity. He chose the patriarchs to give them salvation. He took his people in hand, teaching them, unteachable as they were, to follow him. He gave them prophets, accustoming man to bear his Spirit and to have communion with God on earth. He who stands in need of no one gave communion with himself to those who need him. Like an architect he outlined the plan of salvation to those who sought to please him. By his own hand he gave food in Egypt to those who did not see him. To those who were restless in the desert he gave a law perfectly suited to them. To those who entered the land of prosperity he gave a worthy inheritance. He killed the fatted calf for those who turned to him as Father, and clothed them with the finest garment. In so many ways he was training the human race to take part in the harmonious song of salvation.

For this reason John in the book of Revelation says: His voice was as the voice of many waters. The Spirit of God is indeed a multitude of waters, for the Father is rich and great. As the Word passed among all these people he provided help in generous measure for those who were obedient to him, by drawing up a law that was suitable and fitting for every circumstance.

He established a law for the people governing the construction of the tabernacle and the building of the temple, the choice of Levites, the sacrifices, the offerings, the rites of purification and the rest of what belonged to worship.

He himself needs none of these things. He is always filled with all that is good. Even before Moses existed he had within himself every fragrance of all that is pleasing. Yet he sought to teach his people, always ready though they were to return to their idols. Through many acts of indulgence he tried to prepare them for perseverance in his service. He kept calling them to what was primary by means of what was secondary, that is, through foreshadowings to the reality, through things of time to the things of eternity, through things of the flesh to the things of the spirit, through earthly things to the heavenly things. As he said to Moses: You will fashion all things according to the pattern that you saw on the mountain.

For forty days Moses was engaged in remembering the words of God, the heavenly patterns, the spiritual images, the foreshadowings of what was to come. Saint Paul says: They drank from the rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. After speaking of the things that are in the law he continues: All these things happened to them as symbols: they were written to instruct us, on whom the end of the ages has come.

Through foreshadowings of the future they were learning reverence for God and perseverance in his service. The law was therefore a school of instruction for them, and a prophecy of what was to come.
~St. Irenaeus

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Variation on a Theme by Rilke

A certain day became a presence to me;
there it was, confronting me--a sky, air, light:
a being. And before it started to descend
from the height of noon, it leaned over
and struck my shoulder as if with
the flat of a sword, granting me
honor and a task. The day's blow
rang out, metallic--or it was I, a bell awakened,
and what I heard was my whole self
saying and singing what it knew: I can.

~Denise Levertov

Monday, March 2, 2015

Skipping Stones

Less substantial than mist
Time is too fleeting to be grasped;
Reach out your hand; the moment is already gone.

We live in the future or the past,
Where all is illusion,
And beyond our power to control or change.

Do we heed the power of our actions?
Or are we merely skipping stones across the pond of eternity;
Children playing at life as though summer will never end?

~Carol Chybowski

“Skipping Stones” comes out of Isaiah 55:6:

Seek the LORD while He may be found,
  call upon Him while He is near;

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The God Of Abraham Praise

The God of Abraham praise, who reigns enthroned above;
Ancient of everlasting days, and God of Love;
Jehovah, great I AM! by earth and Heav’n confessed;
I bow and bless the sacred Name forever blessed.

He by Himself has sworn; I on His oath depend,
I shall, on eagle wings upborne, to Heav’n ascend.
I shall behold His face; I shall His power adore,
And sing the wonders of His grace forevermore.

There dwells the Lord our King, the Lord our righteousness,
Triumphant o’er the world and sin, the Prince of peace;
On Zion’s sacred height His kingdom still maintains,
And glorious with His saints in light forever reigns.

The God Who reigns on high the great archangels sing,
And “Holy, holy, holy!” cry, “Almighty King!
Who was, and is, the same, and evermore shall be:
Jehovah—Father—great I AM, we worship Thee!”

Before the Savior’s face the ransomed nations bow;
O’erwhelmed at His almighty grace, forever new:
He shows His prints of love—they kindle to a flame!
And sound thro’ all the worlds above the slaughtered Lamb.

The whole triumphant host give thanks to God on high;
“Hail, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” they ever cry.
Hail, Abraham’s God, and mine! (I join the heav’nly lays,)
All might and majesty are Thine, and endless praise.

~Words: From The Yigdal of Daniel ben Judah, a Jewish judge in Rome, circa 1400 & Music: Leoni, Hebrew melody