Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Poetry; Subjective and Objective

“The province of the poet is representation. Representation becomes more perfect the more closely it vies with nature, when the pictures through the genius of the poet are so vivid that they work on mind with all the force of realities. Poetry is at its zenith when it seems altogether external; the more it deals with the personal feeling of the writer, the more it is on the downward path. That poetry which describes only the feelings of the writer, without giving them an outward body, and on the other hand that which gives the objective, without breathing a soul of sentiment through it, are both on the lowest step from which poetry goes down into the prose of common life.”
~Goethe

Monday, June 29, 2015

John 6:66-69

After this many of His disciples drew back and no longer went about with Him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Will you also go away?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God.”

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Decision

“Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable. Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.

The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female. ...Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.

Jesus Christ, with great love, taught unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. As Catholic bishops, we follow our Lord and will continue to teach and to act according to this truth.

I encourage Catholics to move forward with faith, hope, and love: faith in the unchanging truth about marriage, rooted in the immutable nature of the human person and confirmed by divine revelation; hope that these truths will once again prevail in our society, not only by their logic, but by their great beauty and manifest service to the common good; and love for all our neighbors, even those who hate us or would punish us for our faith and moral convictions.

Lastly, I call upon all people of good will to join us in proclaiming the goodness, truth, and beauty of marriage as rightly understood for millennia, and I ask all in positions of power and authority to respect the God-given freedom to seek, live by, and bear witness to the truth.”
~Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville (President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

God Worked

“...God worked, and on the seventh day he rested. For our Lord, though, it was not merely a symbolic action like that of the politician who sweeps one section of a sidewalk to launch a cleanup campaign or turns the first spadeful of earth at a groundbreaking ceremony. He worked day in and day out for some twenty years to set us an example, to show us that these routine chores, too, are not beneath man’s dignity or even God’s dignity, that simple household tasks and the repetitious work of the wage earner are not necessary evils but noble and redemptive works worthy of God himself. Work cannot be a curse if God himself undertook it; to eat one’s bread in the sweat of one’s brow is to do nothing more or less than Christ himself did. And he did it for a reason. He did it for years on end, he did it for more than three-quarters of his life on earth, to convince us that God has not asked of us anything more tedious, more tiring, more routine and humdrum, more unspectacular than God himself has done. He did it to make it plain that the plainest and dullest of jobs is—or at any rate can be, if viewed properly in respect to God and to eternity—a sharing in the divine work of creation and redemption, a daily opportunity to cooperate with God in the central acts of his covenant of salvation.”
~Walter Ciszek

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Value of Wisdom

My child, if you accept my words
    and treasure up my commandments within you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
    and inclining your heart to understanding;
if you indeed cry out for insight,
    and raise your voice for understanding;
if you seek it like silver,
    and search for it as for hidden treasures—
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
    he is a shield to those who walk blamelessly,
guarding the paths of justice
    and preserving the way of his faithful ones.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice
    and equity, every good path;
for wisdom will come into your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
prudence will watch over you;
    and understanding will guard you.
It will save you from the way of evil,
    from those who speak perversely,
who forsake the paths of uprightness
    to walk in the ways of darkness,
who rejoice in doing evil
    and delight in the perverseness of evil;
those whose paths are crooked,
    and who are devious in their ways.

You will be saved from the loose woman,
    from the adulteress with her smooth words,
who forsakes the partner of her youth
    and forgets her sacred covenant;
for her way leads down to death,
    and her paths to the shades;
those who go to her never come back,
    nor do they regain the paths of life.

Therefore walk in the way of the good,
    and keep to the paths of the just.
For the upright will abide in the land,
    and the innocent will remain in it;
but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
    and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.

~Proverbs 2

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Forever and ever and ever...

“One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever. One knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time and goes out and stands out and throws one's head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing and marvelous unknown things happening until the East almost makes one cry out and one's heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising of the sun--which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. One knows it then for a moment or so. And one knows it sometimes when one stands by oneself in a wood at sunset and the mysterious deep gold stillness slanting through and under the branches seems to be saying slowly again and again something one cannot quite hear, however much one tries. Then sometimes the immense quiet of the dark blue at night with the millions of stars waiting and watching makes one sure; and sometimes a sound of far-off music makes it true; and sometimes a look in someone's eyes.”
~Frances Hodgson Burnett

“...I say immortal souls: each of those multitudes, not only had while he was upon earth, but has a soul, which did in its own time but return to God who gave it, and not perish... All those millions upon millions of human beings who ever trod the earth and saw the sun successively, are at this very moment in existence...
...it is difficult, as I have said it is, to realize that all who ever lived still live...”
~John Henry Newman (partial re-post – see here for complete post)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

St. Lawrence, Martyr (d. 258)

“He is one of the seven deacons of Rome. According to tradition, he was born at Huesca, Spain and suffered Martyrdom under the persecution of Emperor Valerian. St. Ambrose says that he was a deacon of Pope Sixtus II and was overwhelmed when the Pontiff was condemned to death in 258, but he was overjoyed when Sixtus predicted that Lawrence would follow him in three days. He sold some of the Church's possessions and gave them to the poor.

When the prefect of Rome heard of his action, he had Lawrence brought before him and demanded all the Church's treasures for the Emperor. Lawrence said he would need three days to collect them and then presented the blind, the crippled, the poor, the orphans, and other unfortunates to the prefect and told him they were the Church's treasures. Furious, the prefect prepared a red-hot griddle and bound Lawrence to it; Lawrence bore the agony with unbelievable equanimity and in the midst of his torment instructed the executioner to turn him over, as he was broiled enough on the one side. His death and example led to the conversion of Rome and signaled the end of paganism in the city.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

Refrain 
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

Refrain

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

Refrain

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

Refrain

~Words: Ed­ward Mote & Music: Will­iam Brad­bu­ry

Monday, June 22, 2015

Hope

“Hope has two beautiful daughters: their names are anger and courage. Anger that things are the way they are. Courage to make them the way they ought to be.”
~St. Augustine

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Opening up to the Father

“Unless in the first waking moments of the day you learn to fling the door wide back and let God in, you will work on the wrong level all day; but swing the door wide open and pray to your Father in secret, and every public thing will be stamped with the presence of God.”
~Oswald Chambers

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Part of the Plan

“It is part of God's plan for us that Christ shall come to us in everyone; it is in their particular role that we must come to know him. He may come as a little child, making enormous demands, giving enormous consolation. He may come as a stranger, so that we must give the hospitality to a stranger that we should like to give to Christ...”
~Caryll Houselander

Friday, June 19, 2015

Eternal Maker Of The World

Eternal Maker of the world,
The sov’reign Lord of night and day:
You give the seasons of the year
To take time’s heaviness away.

In deepest night You never sleep,
A Lamp for trav’lers on the way;
A Light dividing night from night,
The rooster crows announcing day.

See, at the sound, the daystar wakes
And drives the darkness from the sky;
All those who strayed on deadly roads
Now take the path to life on high.

The ocean hears; the waves die down;
The sailor overcomes his fears.
Saint Peter hears; the Church’s Rock
Removes denial’s stain with tears.

O Jesus, save us, for we fall;
Look down and set us right, we pray,
For at Your glance our failings fail,
And sorrow washes sins away.

O Light, upon our senses shine,
Dispel the sleepiness within;
Let our first words be words of You;
With faithful praise our day begin.

To You, O Christ, most kindly King,
And to the Father, glory be;
Praise to the Spirit Paraclete,
In ev’ry age, eternally. Amen.

Tune: Ætérne rerum cónditor L.M.
Music: Mode I
Text: Ætérne rerum cónditor, Saint Ambose of Milan, 337?-397
Translation: W. J. Copeland, 1804-1885

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Left-wing

“So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don't even know that fire is hot.”
~George Orwell

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Vision

“Prayer does not blind us to the world, but it transforms our vision of the world, and makes us see it, all men, and all the history of mankind, in the light of God. To pray ‘in spirit and in truth’ enables us to enter into contact with that infinite love, that inscrutable freedom which is at work behind the complexities and the intricacies of human existence. This does not mean fabricating for ourselves pious rationalizations to explain everything that happens. It involves no surreptitious manipulation of the hard truths of life.”
~Thomas Merton

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Evening Alone At Bunyah


1

My father, widowed, fifty-six years old,
sits washing his feet.
The innocent sly charm
is back in his eye of late years, and tonight
he’s going dancing.

I wouldn’t go tonight, he says to me
by way of apology. You sure you won’t come?
What for? I ask. You know I only dance
on bits of paper. He nods and says, Well, if
any ghosts come calling, don’t let ‘em eat my cake.

I bring him a towel and study his feet afresh:
they make my own feel coarse. They are so small,
so delicate he can scarcely bear to walk
barefoot to his room to find his dancing shoes
and yet all day he works in hobnailed boots
out in the forest, clearing New South Wales.

No ghosts will come, Dad. I know you dote on cake.
I know how some women who bake it dote on you.
It gets them nowhere.
You are married still.

2

Home again from the cities of the world.
Cool night, and the valley relaxes after heat,
the earth contracts, the planks of the old house creak,
making one more adjustment, joist to nail,
nail to roof, roof to the touch of dew.

Smoke stains, rafters, whitewash rubbed off planks ...
yet this is one house that Jerry built to last:
when windstorms came, and other houses lost
roofs and verandahs, this gave just enough
and went unscathed, for all the little rain
that sifted through cracks, the lamps puffed out by wind
sucked over the wallplate, and the occasional bat
silly with fear at having misplaced the dark.

When I was a child, my father was ashamed
of this shabby house. It signified for him
hard work and unjust poverty. There would come
a day when he’d tear it down and build afresh.
The day never came. But that’s another poem.

No shame I felt in those days was my own.
It can be enough to read books and camp in a house.
Enough, at fourteen, to watch your father sit
at the breakfast table nursing his twelve-gauge
shotgun, awaiting the doubtful reappearance
of a snake’s head at a crack in the cement
of the skillion fireplace floor.

The blood’s been sluiced
away, and the long wrecked body of the snake
dug out and gone to ash these thirteen years,
but the crack’s still there,
and the scores the buckshot ripped beside the stove.

3

There is a glow in the kitchen window now
that was not there in the old days. They have set
three streetlights up along the Gloucester road
for cows to stray by, and night birds to shun,
for the road itself’s not paved, and there’s no town
in the valley yet at all.
It is hoped there will be.

Today, out walking, I considered stones.
It used to be said that I must know each one
on the road by its first name, I was such a dawdler,
such a head-down starer.
I picked up
a chunk of milk-seamed quartz, thumbed off the clay,
let the dry light pervade it and collect,
eliciting shifting gleams, revealing how
the specific strength of a stone fits utterly
into its form and yet reflects the grain
and tendency of the mother-lode, the mass
of a vanished rock-sill tipping one small stone
slightly askew as it weighs upon your palm,
and then I threw it back towards the sun
to thump down on a knoll
where it may move a foot in a thousand years.

Today, having come back, summer was all mirror
tormenting me. I fled down cattle tracks
chest-deep in the earth, and pushed in under twigs
to sit by cool water speeding over rims
of blackened basalt, the tall light reaching me.

Since those moth-grimed streetlamps came,
my dark is threatened.

4

I stand, and turn, and wander through the house,
avoiding those floorboards that I know would creak,
to the other verandah. Here is where I slept,
and here is where, one staring day, I felt
a presence at my back, and whirled in fright
to face my father’s suit, hung out to air.

This country is my mind. I lift my face
and count my hills, and linger over one:
Deer’s, steep, bare-topped, where eagles nest below
the summit in scrub oaks, and where I take
my city friends to tempt them with my past.

Across the creek and the paddocks of the moon
four perfect firs stand dark beside a field
lost long ago, which holds a map of rooms.
This was the plot from which we transplants sprang.
The trees grew straight. We burgeoned and spread far.
I think of doors and rooms beneath the ground,
deep rabbit rooms, thin candlelight of days ...
and, turning quickly, walk back through the house.

5

Night, and I watch the moonrise through the door.
Sitting alone’s a habit of mind with me ...
for which I’ll pay in full. That has begun.
But meanwhile I will sit and watch the moon.

My father will be there now, at a hall
in the dark of the country, shining at the waltz,
spry and stately, twirling at formal speeds
on a roaring waxed-plank floor.
The petrol lamps
sizzle and glare now the clapping has died down.
They announce some modern dance. He steps outside
to where cigarettes glow sparsely in the dark,
joins some old friends and yarns about his son.

Beneath this moon, an ancient radiance comes
back from far hillsides where the tall pale trunks
of ringbarked trees haphazardly define
the edge of dark country I could not afford
to walk in at night alone
lest I should hear
the barking of dogs from a clearing where no house
has ever stood, and, walking down a road
in the wilderness, meet a man who waited there
beside a creek to tell me what I sought.

Father, come home soon.
Come home alive.

~Les Murray
   

Monday, June 15, 2015

Unreasonable Weather

It rained and rained and rained –
the average fall was well maintained.
and when the tracks were simply bogs
it started raining Cats and Dogs.
After a drought of half an hour,
we had a most refreshing shower,
and then the most curious thing of all
a gentle rain began to fall.
Next day was also fairly dry,
save for a deluge from the sky,
which wetted the party to the skin,
and after that the rain set in.

~Unknown

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Psalm 16

Preserve me, God, I take refuge in You.
I say to the Lord: “You are my God.
My happiness lies in You alone.”

He has put into my heart a marvelous love
for the faithful ones who dwell in His land.
Those who choose other gods increase their sorrows.
Never will I offer their offerings of blood.
Never will I take their name upon my lips.

O Lord, it is You who are my portion and cup;
it is You Yourself who are my prize.
The lot marked out for me is my delight:
welcome indeed the heritage that falls to me!

I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel,
who even at night directs my heart.
I keep the Lord ever in my sight:
since He is at my right hand, I shall stand firm.

And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;
even my body shall rest in safety.
For You will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let Your beloved know decay.

You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in Your presence,
at Your right hand happiness for ever.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

America...

“The church once changed society. It was then a thermostat of society. But today . . . the church is merely a thermometer, which measures rather than molds popular opinion.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Worldliness is not, in the last analysis, love of possessions, or the habit of courting great personages. It is simply the weakness of fiber which makes us take our standards from the society around us.”
~Ronald Knox

“It is time that the Christian reacquire the consciousness of belonging to a minority and of often being in opposition to what is obvious, plausible and natural for that mentality which the New Testament calls . . . the ‘spirit of the world.’ It is time to find again the courage of nonconformism, the capacity to oppose many of the trends of the surrounding culture.”
~Joseph Ratzinger

Friday, June 12, 2015

Nearer, My God, To Thee

Thinking about my Aunt who just passed...

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.

Refrain:
Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee!

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone.
Yet in my dreams I’d be nearer, my God to Thee.

Refrain

There let the way appear, steps unto Heav’n;
All that Thou sendest me, in mercy given;
Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee.

Refrain

Then, with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise;
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee.

Refrain

Or, if on joyful wing cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upward I’ll fly,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.

Refrain

There in my Father’s home, safe and at rest,
There in my Savior’s love, perfectly blest;
Age after age to be, nearer my God to Thee.

Refrain

~Words: Sarah Adams (Verses 1-5), Edward Bickersteth Jr. (Verse 6) & Music: Bethany & Lowell Mason

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Mark Twain’s Mother

“All the negroes were friends of ours, and with those of our own age we were in effect comrades. I say in effect, using the phrase as a modification. We were comrades, and yet not comrades; color and condition interposed a subtle line which both parties were conscious of, and which rendered complete fusion impossible. We had a faithful and affectionate good friend, ally and adviser in ‘Uncle Dan’l,’ a middle-aged slave whose head was the best one in the negro-quarter, whose sympathies were wide and warm, and whose heart was honest and simple and knew no guile. He has served me well, these many, many years. I have not seen him for more than half a century, and yet spiritually I have had his welcome company a good part of that time, and have staged him in books under his own name and as ‘Jim,’ and carted him all around—to Hannibal, down the Mississippi on a raft, and even across the Desert of Sahara in a balloon—and he has endured it all with the patience and friendliness and loyalty which were his birthright. It was on the farm that I got my strong liking for his race and my appreciation of certain of its fine qualities. This feeling and this estimate have stood the test of sixty years and more and have suffered no impairment. The black face is as welcome to me now as it was then.

In my schoolboy days I had no aversion to slavery. I was not aware that there was anything wrong about it. No one arraigned it in my hearing; the local papers said nothing against it; the local pulpit taught us that God approved it, that it was a holy thing, and that the doubter need only look in the Bible if he wished to settle his mind—and then the texts were read aloud to us to make the matter sure; if the slaves themselves had an aversion to slavery they were wise and said nothing. In Hannibal we seldom saw a slave misused; on the farm, never.

There was, however, one small incident of my boyhood days which touched this matter, and it must have meant a good deal to me or it would not have stayed in my memory, clear and sharp, vivid and shadowless, all these slow-drifting years. We had a little slave boy whom we had hired from some one, there in Hannibal. He was from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and had been brought away from his family and his friends, half way across the American continent, and sold. He was a cheery spirit, innocent and gentle, and the noisiest creature that ever was, perhaps. All day long he was singing, whistling, yelling, whooping, laughing—it was maddening, devastating, unendurable. At last, one day, I lost all my temper, and went raging to my mother, and said Sandy had been singing for an hour without a single break, and I couldn’t stand it, and wouldn’t she please shut him up. The tears came into her eyes, and her lip trembled, and she said something like this—

     ‘Poor thing, when he sings, it shows that he is not remembering, and
     that comforts me; but when he is still, I am afraid he is thinking, and
     I cannot bear it. He will never see his mother again; if he can sing,
     I must not hinder it, but be thankful for it. If you were older, you
     would understand me; then that friendless child’s noise would make
     you glad.’

It was a simple speech, and made up of small words, but it went home, and Sandy’s noise was not a trouble to me any more. She never used large words, but she had a natural gift for making small ones do effective work. She lived to reach the neighborhood of ninety years, and was capable with her tongue to the last—especially when a meanness or an injustice roused her spirit. She has come handy to me several times in my books, where she figures as Tom Sawyer’s ‘Aunt Polly.’ I fitted her out with a dialect, and tried to think up other improvements for her, but did not find any. I used Sandy once, also; it was in ‘Tom Sawyer;’ I tried to get him to whitewash the fence, but it did not work. I do not remember what name I called him by in the book.”
~Mark Twain (from Autobiography of Mark Twain: Volume 1, Reader’s Edition)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Bored

“Bored by the void of interior noise,
We kill for the thrill of a wearier choice.
Moved up to lose on material joys,
Never knew enough the true love
We always avoid.

...Boredom is not sitting and doing nothing. That may really be enjoyable! Rather, boredom is the constant and exhaustive activity of throwing things inside the human heart without ever knowing what shape the heart has so as to fill it rightly. And we can spend our whole lives bored; trying to fill a heart we haven’t ever really seen; tired of things we have seen; bored by the void of interior noise. What, then, is the antidote to noisy boredom?

Love! Real love! Boredom affects the heart but everyone knows the heart is made to love. To attain love we need to let go of trying to fill our heart ourselves. We need to surrender to the crafter of the heart who knows its shape and chambers perfectly so as to fill it perfectly...

The lover is never bored. That’s because he’s infatuated with what he loves. And when God is the one you love, there is a lot of Love to keep your attention. In those places where worldly love yields only discordant noise, God’s love will make real music. That’s because God’s love is an eternal song called the Divine Word. And this Word eternally sung has taken on a lower harmony sung in a measure and time called the humanity of Jesus Christ. And we love to hear that harmony played in our heart. After hearing him in our heart, any other song seeking his place will sound, well, boring.”
~Athanasius Murphy

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Beginning of the Day

“The beginning of the sun’s passage through the sky marks the beginning of the working-day for us mortals: we ask You, Lord, to prepare in our minds a place where the day that knows no end may give its light. Grant that we may have within us this light, the life of the resurrection, and that nothing may take away our delight in You. Mark us with the sign of that day that does not begin with the movement and the course of the sun, by keeping our minds fixed on You.”
~St. Ephrem

Monday, June 8, 2015

Take Your Time

This is a brief story about when Paul Shaffer was trying to contact Sammy Davis Jr. to select a song and schedule rehearsal before he appeared on the David Letterman show:

“Every time I called [Sammy Davis Jr. to try and select a song or discuss rehearsal] he was either working or sleeping. He never did return my calls. The morning of the show I was feeling some panic. Sammy was flying in, and we still didn’t know what he wanted to sing. At 10 a.m., the floor manager said I had a backstage call. It was Sammy calling from the plane.

“‘Once in My Life' will be fine, Paul’ he said. ‘Key of E going into F.’

“‘Great!’ I was relieved. I was also eager to work out an arrangement. ... We whipped up a chart, nursed it, rehearsed it, and put it on tape. That way when Sammy arrived, he could hear it. Then another backstage call. Sammy’s plane had landed early, and he was on his way over. When I greeted him at the backstage door with a big ‘We’re thrilled you’re here’ I was a little taken aback. He looked extremely tired and frail. He walked with a cane.

“‘We have an arrangement, Sam. You can rehearse it with the band.’

“‘No need, baby. Gotta conserve my energy. I’m just gonna go to my room and shower.’

“‘I wanna make it easy for you. So I’ll just play you a tape of the arrangement on the boom box. That way you’ll hear what we’ve done and tell me if it’s okay.’

“‘Man, I know the song.’

“‘I know, Sam,’ I said, ‘but what if you don’t like the chart?’

“‘I’ll like it, I’ll like it.’

“‘But what if the key’s not right?’

“‘Okay, if you insist.’

“I slipped the cassette in the boom box and hit ‘play.’ To my ears the chart sounded great. Sammy closed his eyes and, in Sammy style, nodded his head up and down to the groove. He smiled.

“‘It’s swinging man,’ he said ‘but think of how much more fun we could have had if I hadn’t heard this tape.’

“His words still resonate in my ears; the notion still haunts me. Sammy swung that night but as he was performing I couldn’t help thinking that his carefree feeling about time—as opposed to my lifelong notion of the pressure of the time—was coming from a higher spiritual plane. As a musician, I’ve always thought I rushed. I still think I rush. The great players never rush. It reminds me of that moment when I watched Ray Charles turn to his guitarist, just as the young guy was about to solo, and say ‘Take your time son. Take your time.’”
~Paul Shaffer

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Bread of the Angels

Yet they sinned still more against Him,
   rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
They tested God in their heart
   by demanding the food they craved.
They spoke against God, saying,
   “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?
He smote the rock so that water gushed out
   and streams overflowed.
Can He also give bread,
   or provide meat for His people?”

Therefore, when the Lord heard, He was full of wrath;
   a fire was kindled against Jacob,
   His anger mounted against Israel;
because they had no faith in God,
   and did not trust His saving power.
Yet He commanded the skies above,
   and opened the doors of heaven;
and He rained down upon them manna to eat,
   and gave them the grain of heaven.
Man ate of the bread of the angels;
   He sent them food in abundance.
He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens,
   and by His power He led out the south wind;
He rained flesh upon them like dust,
   winged birds like the sand of the seas;
He let them fall in the midst of their camp,
   all around their habitations.
And they ate and were well filled,
   for He gave them what they craved.
~Psalm 78:17-29

Saturday, June 6, 2015

June


(Picture found here)
Rise up, and do begin the day's adorning;
The Summer dark is but the dawn of day.
The last of sunset fades into the morning,
The morning calls you from the dark away.
The holy mist, the white mist of the morning,
Was wreathing upward on my lonely way.
The way was waiting for your own adorning
That should complete the broad adorned day.

Rise up, and do begin the day's adorning;
The little eastern clouds are dapple grey:
There will be wind among the leaves to-day;
It is the very promise of the morning.
Lux Tua Via Mea: your light's my way ─
Then do rise up and make it perfect day.

~Hilaire Belloc
 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Great Observation

“The great strength of Christian sanctity has always been simply this – that the worst enemies of the saints could not say of the saints anything worse than [the saints] said of themselves...Suppose the village atheist had a sudden and splendid impulse to rush into the village church and denounce everybody there as miserable offenders. He might break in at the exact moment when they were saying the same thing themselves.”
~G. K. Chesterton

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Christ, In Whose Passion Once Was Sown

Christ, in whose passion once was sown
All virtue of all saints to be,
From the white field of these thy own
We praise the seed and sower, thee.

Thine was the first and holiest grain
To die and quicken and increase;
And then came these, and died again,
That spring and harvest should not cease.

From thee, the martyrs, we from those,
Each in thy grace’s measure, spring;
Their strength upon our weakness flows
And guides us to the goal we sing.

These were thy great ones: we, thy least,
One in desire and faith with them,
Called by the Lord to keep one feast,
Journey to one Jerusalem.

Tune: Mein’ Seel’, O Gott, muss Loben Dich L.M.
Music: Michael Praetorius, 1571-1621
Text: Walter Shewring

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

At The Center

“Countless times, a good friend of mine has ‘flipped pages’. What he means when he says this is that he has read the Gospel of Mark. Again. And again. And again. Consider doing this just one time. Read the entire book of Mark, only 16 chapters, and ask yourself if you can name anyone in history other than Jesus of Nazareth who has uttered truths about man’s fallibility and dignity, sinfulness and redemption, struggles with fear and anxiety, dependence on faith and hope, grappling with suffering and loss, hunger for calling and purpose, search for origin and destiny and need for justice and mercy. See if you can name a wise man more clear-sighted than Jesus Christ who can teach with clarity, comfort with warmth, heal with miraculous touch, correct with authority and die with selflessness. Christ is the central event of History, the central figure of Faith, the central Truth of existence...”
~Tod Worner

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Senses and Beyond

“...Sound is something I’m very conscious of. And maybe that’s part of the Northwest; there is a mossy, deadened sound here. So you listen more carefully—you’re an owl. You don’t have to put on earmuffs to keep from damaging your hearing. It’s nice and quiet, so you listen. But in a way that’s a metaphor too. It is an alertness of sense in a world where senses are never enough—any of the senses. I thought maybe you were going to say smell. I feel I’m really a good smeller, and I value that, although on the other hand, I look at a bloodhound and realize I’ve got a ways to go. So, whatever the senses in my poems, I am consciously aware of the limits of human beings and of the mistake we make if we assume what we are receiving is everything that’s there. I feel that we need to hear more, see more, smell more, feel more.”
~William Stafford

Monday, June 1, 2015

From the Acts of the martyrdom of Saint Justin and his companion saints

(Cap 1-5:cf PG 6, 1366-1371)

The saints were seized and brought before the prefect of Rome, whose name was Rusticus. As they stood before the judgement seat, Rusticus the prefect said to Justin: “Above all, have faith in the gods and obey the emperors.” Justin said: “We cannot be accused or condemned for obeying the commands of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Rusticus said: “What system of teaching do you profess?” Justin said: “I have tried to learn about every system, but I have accepted the true doctrines of the Christians, though these are not approved by those who are held fast by error.”

The prefect Rusticus said: “Are those doctrines approved by you, wretch that you are?” Justin said: “Yes, for I follow them with their correct teaching.”

The prefect Rusticus said: “What sort of teaching is that?” Justin said: “Worship the God of the Christians. We hold him to be from the beginning the one creator and maker of the whole creation, of things seen and things unseen. We worship also the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He was foretold by the prophets as the future herald of salvation for the human race and the teacher of distinguished disciples. For myself, since I am a human being, I consider that what I say is insignificant in comparison with his infinite godhead. I acknowledge the existence of a prophetic power, for the one I have just spoken of as the Son of God was the subject of prophecy. I know that the prophets were inspired from above when they spoke of his coming among men.”

Rusticus said: “You are a Christian, then?” Justin said: “Yes, I am a Christian.”

The prefect said to Justin: “You are called a learned man and think that you know what is true teaching. Listen: if you were scourged and beheaded, are you convinced that you would go up to heaven?” Justin said: “I hope that I shall enter God’s house if I suffer that way. For I know that God’s favor is stored up until the end of the whole world for all who have lived good lives.”

The prefect Rusticus said: “Do you have an idea that you will go up to heaven to receive some suitable rewards?” Justin said: “It is not an idea that I have; it is something I know well and hold to be most certain.”

The prefect Rusticus said: “Now let us come to the point at issue, which is necessary and urgent. Gather round then and with one accord offer sacrifice to the gods.” Justin said: “No one who is right thinking stoops from true worship to false worship.”

The prefect Rusticus said: “If you do not do as you are commanded you will be tortured without mercy.” Justin said: “We hope to suffer torment for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so be saved. For this will bring us salvation and confidence as we stand before the more terrible and universal judgment-seat of our Lord and Savior.”

In the same way the other martyrs also said: “Do what you will. We are Christians; we do not offer sacrifice to idols.”

The prefect Rusticus pronounced sentence, saying: “Let those who have refused to sacrifice to the gods and to obey the command of the emperor be scourged and led away to suffer capital punishment according to the ruling of the laws.” Glorifying God, the holy martyrs went out to the accustomed place. They were beheaded, and so fulfilled their witness of martyrdom in confessing their faith in their Savior.

Saint Justin, Martyr (- 165)