Monday, August 31, 2015

Discernment

Eomer: “It is hard to be sure of anything among so many marvels. The world is all grown strange. Elf and Dwarf in company walk in our daily fields; and folk speak with the Lady of the Wood and yet live; and the Sword comes back to war that was broken in the long ages ere the fathers of our fathers rode into the Mark! How shall a man judge what to do in such times?”

Aragorn: “As he has ever judged. Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.”

~J. R. R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Choosing to Accept

... “Unforgiveness locks us into unbelief, and unbelief deepens the unforgiveness. It revolves endlessly unless we make a stop. Unless we forgive.”
    “Forgiveness?” Pawel murmured coldly. “What is forgiveness?”
    “Forgiveness”, said the priest, “is a key.”
    “A key?” Pawel said tonelessly. “A key implies that a door exists.”
    [priest] “Or a narrow gate.” 
... “We wish to be worthy of being saved”, [the priest] continued. “Which is another way of saying that we, every one of us, whether we know it or not, wish to be our own god, that is, to save ourselves. We want paradise without his Cross, forgetting that the Cross is the only way to reenter the original harmony we lost in the Fall of Man. This is the narrow gate.”
    “I see no gate. I see only the walls of a prison.”
    “We do not like to be poor, Pawel. Yet it is this very poverty that opens one to the life of God. It is this that cracks open the prison wall.”
    “Why is it so complicated? Why does God not fix it all?”
    “It is not complicated. God has saved us, but he will not force salvation upon us. Love never forces. Love thrives only in freedom. We must choose to accept what he offers.”
~Michael OBrien (from Sophia House)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Morning Hymn

When breaks the day, and dawn grows bright,
Christ nearer seems, the Light of Light:
From us, like shades that nighttime brings,
Drive forth, O Lord, all darksome things.

Earth’s dusky veil is torn away,
Pierced by the sparkling beams of day;
Our life resumes its hues apace,
Soon as the Daystar shows His face.

So Thee, O Christ, alone we seek,
With conscience pure and temper meek:
With tears and chants we humbly pray
That Thou wouldst guide us through each day.

For many’a shade obscures each sense
Which needs Thy beams to purge it thence;
Light of the Morning Star, Thy grace
Shed on us from Thy cloudless face.

All laud to God the Father be,
All praise, eternal Son, to Thee;
All glory, as is ever meet,
To God the Holy Paraclete. Amen.

Tune: Emmanuel L.M.
Music: Carl C. N. Balle, 1806-1855
Text: Nox et tenebræ et nubila from the Cathemerinon of Prudentius, 384-413
Translation: Anonymous, in the public domain

Friday, August 28, 2015

Road to Emmaus


(Picture found here)
There have been crucifixions, too,
in our town—innocents
gunned down in their doorways
or in school halls; or radiation's
black outlines, three crosses
marked a sister's chest: no wonder
we walk in quiet rage, musing.

And who, on this road, will join us,
seeming unaware
of the worst news in the neighborhood,
but spelling out the history of the prophets
and a future:
    Ought not Christ to have suffered these things
    and to enter into his glory?
Could our hearts still burn within us?

Will we ask the stranger to stay?
Break bread? And how
will our well-hammered and nailed
kitchens and bedrooms appear to us
when we understand who he is
just as he steals away?

~Sandra Duguid
 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Change

 
“People don’t change because they decide to be better. If that happened, then New Year’s Resolutions would work.

People decide to change because they elevate their loves. And as St. Augustine said, ‘You become what you love.’

But if you can’t talk about the struggle of sin, if you can’t talk about why some loves are higher than other loves, and ordered versus disordered loves, you don’t have the moral vocabulary, the mental tool kit to think about how to be better.

And the Christian tradition gives us that”

~David Brooks
 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Two Books


(Picture found here)
“It was a medieval commonplace that ‘God wrote two books, nature and scripture.’ Both are beautiful, mysterious, and without errors, only puzzles. Nature reveals God’s mind and imagination, and scripture reveals God’s heart and will.”
~Peter Kreeft
   

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What to do with the sea?


(Picture found here)
“What could an atheist do with the sea? How could he place it? For him, no Mind designed it, no Artist loved it into existence. It is not art; it just is. It does not mean, only be. It has no place, no address, no home in the Mind of God. No Heavenly Father gave it to him as a gift. What a terrible moment that must be for an atheist - when he feels great gratitude for the gift of the sea and there is no one to thank for it. For most of us, the most terrible moments in life are the moments of grief, when hope is tested. For an atheist, I think the most terrible moments must be the moments of joy, when there arises from his heart the wisest and best feeling anyone can have - cosmic gratitude, praise for his very existence and that of the whole universe - and he has to believe that that feeling is false, stupid, wrong, pointless, and out of tune with reality, since reality is nothing but chance and gravity and molecules. That feeling of cosmic gratitude and praise was a temptation to be ‘religious’. Imagine how horrible it must be to feel that gratitude is a temptation! That’s almost like believing that goodness is evil. It’s like waking up one morning to see that the sun is a black hole.”
~Peter Kreeft
 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Art of God


(Picture of Mt. Rainer found here)
“Nature is the art of God eternal.”
~Dante
 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Revelation 7:9-12

9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels stood round the throne and round the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.”

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Faith and Will

"Faith is illuminative, not operative; it does not force obedience, though it increases responsibility; it heightens guilt, but it does not prevent sin. The will is the source of action."
~John Henry Newman

Friday, August 21, 2015

God Is A Fire

“God is a fire that warms and kindles the heart and inward parts. Hence, if we feel in our hearts the cold which comes from the devil - for the devil is cold - let us call on the Lord. He will come to warm our hearts with perfect love, not only for Him but also for our neighbor, and the cold of him who hates the good will flee before the heat of His countenance.”
~St. Seraphim of Sarov

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Two Cities

“St. Augustine wrote: “Two loves have built two cities: the love of self even to the despising of God, the city of the earth; the love of God even to the despising of self, the city of God. One glorifies itself in self, and the other in the Lord. One seeks its glory from men, the other places its dearest glory in God, the witness of its conscience. The one in the pride of its glory walks with head high; the other says to its God: ‘Thou art my glory, and it is Thou who dost lift up my head.’ The former in its victories lets itself be conquered by its passion to dominate; the latter shows us its citizens united in charity, mutual servants, tutelary governors, obedient subjects. The former loves its own strength in its princes; the latter says to God: ‘Lord, Thou art my only strength, I shall love Thee.’ “968”
~Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (The Three Ages of the Interior Life: Prelude of Eternal Life)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Love Of Neighbor

“Love of neighbour is thus shown to be possible in the way proclaimed by the Bible, by Jesus. It consists in the very fact that, in God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know. This can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an encounter which has become a communion of will, even affecting my feelings. Then I learn to look on this other person not simply with my eyes and my feelings, but from the perspective of Jesus Christ. His friend is my friend. Going beyond exterior appearances, I perceive in others an interior desire for a sign of love, of concern. This I can offer them not only through the organizations intended for such purposes, accepting it perhaps as a political necessity. Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave. Here we see the necessary interplay between love of God and love of neighbour which the First Letter of John speaks of with such insistence. If I have no contact whatsoever with God in my life, then I cannot see in the other anything more than the other, and I am incapable of seeing in him the image of God. But if in my life I fail completely to heed others, solely out of a desire to be ‘devout’ and to perform my ‘religious duties’, then my relationship with God will also grow arid. It becomes merely ‘proper’, but loveless. Only my readiness to encounter my neighbour and to show him love makes me sensitive to God as well. Only if I serve my neighbour can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much he loves me.”
~Pope Benedict XVI

Monday, August 17, 2015

O Fount Of Light


(Picture by Remo Savisaar - found here)
O fount of light, True Light itself,
Smile down on us as here we pray.
May your bright splendor shine on us,
When shades of sin are cast away.

We thank you for your loving care
While work and toil have been our lot,
And now the day is near its close,
Dear Lord, we pray, forsake us not.

Though sun declines and shadows fall,
Our souls draw light from those fair rays
The Sun of Justice n’er withholds,
On whom the hosts of angels gaze.

May all the faults which we deplore,
Be washed away by Christ our Light,
And may he purify our hearts
Throughout the hours of coming night.

All glory, Father, be to you,
Praise to the Spirit and the Son,
Who rule all things with pow’r supreme
Till all created time is done. Amen.

Tune: Simeon L.M.
Music: Samuel Stanley, 1767-1822
Text: Luminis fons, lux et origo lucis, Alcuin of York, d. 804
Translation: Benedictines of Saint Cecilia’s Abbey
      

Sunday, August 16, 2015

O Food To Pilgrims Given

O food to pilgrims given,
O bread of life from Heaven,
O manna from on high!
We hunger, Lord, supply us,
Nor Thy delights deny us,
Whose hearts to Thee draw nigh.

O stream of love past telling,
O purest fountain welling
From out the Savior’s side!
We faint with thirst; revive us,
Of Thine abundance give us,
And all we need provide.

O Jesus, by Thee bidden,
We here adore Thee,
Hidden in forms of bread and wine.
Grant when the veil is riven,
We may behold, in heaven,
Thy countenance divine.

~Words: Maintzich Gesangbuch, 1661 (O Esca viatorum); translated from Latin to English by J. Athelstan Riley, 1906 & Music: O Welt, Ich Muss Dich Lassen, 15th Century German melody; adapted by Heinrich Isaac, 1539; harmony by Johann S. Bach, 1729

Friday, August 14, 2015

Some Proverbs - Gossip

For lack of wood the fire goes out;
    and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
~Proverbs 26:20

The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
    they go down into the inner parts of the body.
~Proverbs 26:22

He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets,
    but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing hidden.
~Proverbs 11:13

“Gossip dies when it hits a wise person's ears.”
~Unknown

Thursday, August 13, 2015

By The Observance Of Which A Person Shall Live

16 “But they and our ancestors acted presumptuously and stiffened their necks and did not obey your commandments; 17 they refused to obey, and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them; but they stiffened their necks and determined to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and you did not forsake them. 18 Even when they had cast an image of a calf for themselves and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies, 19 you in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness; the pillar of cloud that led them in the way did not leave them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night that gave them light on the way by which they should go. 20 You gave your good spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and gave them water for their thirst. 21 Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness so that they lacked nothing; their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell. 22 And you gave them kingdoms and peoples, and allotted to them every corner, so they took possession of the land of King Sihon of Heshbon and the land of King Og of Bashan. 23 You multiplied their descendants like the stars of heaven, and brought them into the land that you had told their ancestors to enter and possess. 24 So the descendants went in and possessed the land, and you subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hands, with their kings and the peoples of the land, to do with them as they pleased. 25 And they captured fortress cities and a rich land, and took possession of houses filled with all sorts of goods, hewn cisterns, vineyards, olive orchards, and fruit trees in abundance; so they ate, and were filled and became fat, and delighted themselves in your great goodness.

26 Nevertheless they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their backs and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies. 27 Therefore you gave them into the hands of their enemies, who made them suffer. Then in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and you heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you gave them saviors who saved them from the hands of their enemies. 28 But after they had rest, they again did evil before you, and you abandoned them to the hands of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them; yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, and many times you rescued them according to your mercies. 29 And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your ordinances, by the observance of which a person shall live. They turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey. 30 Many years you were patient with them, and warned them by your spirit through your prophets; yet they would not listen. Therefore you handed them over to the peoples of the lands. 31 Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.”
~Nehemiah 9:16-31

I’m reading through the Bible in a year. When I came to this section of Nehemiah where Ezra speaks about Israel’s past, it struck me (as I am sure it has many others) that sin in our individual lives is so much like this corporate/historic example of Israel’s turning away and toward God (and away and toward, etc.). Our ancestors in the faith disobeyed, rebelled, worshipped false gods, turned their backs on His law, etc. Meanwhile, God was gracious, ready to forgive, merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. God did give them over into the hands of their enemies, who made them suffer and had dominion over them. However, when God’s people humbled themselves, cried out to Him, turned from their ways, and turned back to God’s laws, then He was gracious and merciful. How often does sin, addiction, unforgiveness, putting people/things above God, and so on, bring about our being turned over to our enemy and our being held under dominion? Why do Christians allow even small things to distract us and keep us in slavery—and, we knowingly and daily turn away? Yet, when we humbly turn toward God and follow His laws/ways, He is always there to graciously and mercifully lift us up. He is so worthy of our love and devotion. He has shown us the way to live. I pray that I will continue to do a better job, with God’s help, of staying completely in His will and fully live. – Kevin

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

There is a Lady Sweet and Kind

My wife and I have now been married 20 years. God has blessed us greatly through the ups and downs. I have no idea what I would have done if she had not said “I will” and “I do” all of those years ago. She was, is, and will be the one. Our love continues to grow. There’s no end to love. There’s so much mystery to life and love and marriage. One can get so lost in the beauty of it all.

I came across this poem and these sections of it reminded me so much of how I first discovered my wife in college. Those memories are so wonderful and continue to live on in my soul. I am a very blessed husband... – Kevin

There is a lady sweet and kind,
Was never a face so pleased my mind;
I did but see her passing by,
And yet I'll love her till I die.

Her gesture, motion, and her smiles,
Her wit, her voice my heart beguiles,
Beguiles my heart, I know not why,
And yet I'll love her till I die.

~Thomas Ford

Monday, August 10, 2015

2 Corinthians 9: 6-10

Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
   and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion,
   for God loves a cheerful giver.
Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you,
   so that in all things, always having all you need,
   you may have an abundance for every good work.
As it is written:

   He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;
      his righteousness endures forever.

The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food
   will supply and multiply your seed
   and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Night Thoughts

Stars, you are unfortunate, I pity you,
Beautiful as you are, shining in your glory,
Who guide seafaring men through stress and peril
And have no recompense from gods or mortals,
Love you do not, nor do you know what love is.
Hours that are aeons urgently conducting
Your figures in a dance through the vast heaven,
What journey have you ended in this moment,
Since lingering in the arms of my beloved
I lost all memory of you and midnight.

~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Command or be Enslaved

“A man who governs his passions is master of his world. We must either command them or be enslaved by them. It is better to be a hammer than an anvil.”
~St. Dominic

Friday, August 7, 2015

Matthew 10:28-33

Jesus said to his Apostles: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father."

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Amen

“A few years ago there died a man of this parish, who, entering the church in the morning to pray before setting out for the fields, left his hoe at the door and then became wholly lost in God. A neighbor who worked not far from him, and thus used to see him in the fields, wondered at his absence. On his way home he decided to look into the church, thinking that the man might be there. As a matter of fact, he did find him in the church. ‘What are you doing here all this time?’ he asked. And the other replied: ‘I look at the good God and the good God looks at me.’”
~St. John Vianney

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Discipline of Disillusionment

Jesus did not commit Himself unto them for He knew what was in man.
~John 2:24-25

“Disillusionment means that there are no more false judgments in life. To be undeceived by disillusionment may leave us cynical and unkindly severe in our judgment of others, but the disillusionment which comes from God brings us to the place where we see men and women as they really are, and yet there is no cynicism, we have no stinging, bitter things to say. Many of the cruel things in life spring from the fact that we suffer from illusions. We are not true to one another as facts; we are true only to our ideas of one another. Everything is either delightful and fine, or mean and dastardly, according to our idea.

The refusal to be disillusioned is the cause of much of the suffering in human life. It works in this way – if we love a human being and do not love God, we demand of him every perfection and every rectitude, and when we do not get it we become cruel and vindictive; we are demanding of a human being that which he or she cannot give. There is only one Being Who can satisfy the last aching abyss of the human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Why Our Lord is apparently so severe regarding every human relationship is because He knows that every relationship not based on loyalty to Himself will end in disaster. Our Lord trusted no man, yet He was never suspicious, never bitter. Our Lord’s confidence in God and in what His grace could do for any man, was so perfect that He despaired of no one. If our trust is placed in human beings, we shall end in despairing of everyone.”
~Oswald Chambers

Monday, August 3, 2015

Hell Is Chrome

When the devil came
He was not red
He was chrome, and he said
Come with me
You must go
So I went
Where everything was clean
So precise and towering
I was welcomed
With open arms
I received so much help in every way
I felt no fear
The air was crisp
Like sunny late winter days
A springtime yawning high in the haze
And I felt like I belonged
Come with me

~Mike Jorgensen & Jeff Tweedy

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Vacation

"When we were not doing up jams and jellies, we were down in the brook, which is deep enough to swim in, and shallow enough, with a good sand bank, for the children to play on, so it was a vacation indeed. I do not know of a happier way to spend an afternoon than sitting in a shallow brook with babies paddling happily around. There were little crawfish on the bottom, little minnows darting between your fingers as you try to catch them, boat flies on the surface, and beautiful blue dragonflies flying just above the water. There were neither mosquitoes nor flies nor gnats. The sun-warmed waters of the brook made up for all the 'pail baths' we had been taking through the heat. We washed the children's clothes before we went back to the house, and we picked Indian pipes and pennyroyal as we went back through the field."
~Dorothy Day