Friday, October 30, 2015

On Humility as a Foil against the Devil

“The devil appeared to a certain brother, transformed into an angel of light, and said to him, ‘I am the angel Gabriel and I am sent unto thee.’ But the brother said, ‘Consider well if you were not in fact sent to some other: for I am not worthy that an angel should be sent to me.’ And the devil was no more seen.”

~A story from the Desert Fathers

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Tongue

“Your tongue longs to jump into argument, but restrain it. It is a tyrant, and you must fight it daily seventy times seven.”
~St. John Climacus

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

On Humility and the Problem of Evil

“The Abbot Antony, being at a loss in his meditation on the depth of the judgments of God, prayed, saying, ‘Lord, how comes it that some die in so short a space of life, and some live to the further side of decrepit old age: and wherefore are some in want, and others rich with various means of wealth, and how are the unrighteous rich and the righteous oppressed by poverty?’ And a voice came to him saying, ‘Antony, turn thine eyes upon thyself: for these are the judgments of God, and the knowledge of them is not for thee.’”

~A story from the Desert Fathers

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hebrews 11:5-6

By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and “he was not found, because God had taken him.” For it was attested before he was taken away that “he had pleased God.” And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.

Monday, October 26, 2015

On the need of the learned to respect the wisdom of ordinary people

“At one time the Abbot Arsenius was taking counsel with an old man of Egypt about his thoughts. And another, seeing him said, ‘Abbot Arsenius, how is it that thou, who art so great a scholar of Latin and Greek, dost take counsel of this common countryman?’ And he answered, ‘I have indeed apprehended the learning of the Greeks and the Latins as this world goes: but the alphabet of this countryman I have not yet been able to learn.’”

~A story from the Desert Fathers

Sunday, October 25, 2015

An Invitation to Abundant Life

Ho, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
    and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
    listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
    my steadfast, sure love for David.
See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
    a leader and commander for the peoples.
See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
    and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has glorified you.

Seek the Lord while he may be found,
    call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way,
    and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
    and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

For you shall go out in joy,
    and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
    shall burst into song,
    and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
    instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
    for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

~Isaiah 55

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Grace and Glory

"Grace and glory differ, but as the bud and the blossom. What is grace but glory begun? What is glory but grace perfected."
~Jerome Whittemore

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Little Sack Stuffed with Divinity

“Behold peace, not promised but present, not deferred but conferred, not prophesied but presented. Behold, God the Father has sent to the earth, as it were, a sack filled with his mercy, a sack that must be cut to pieces in the passion so that it can pour out what is concealed in it for our ransom; a small sack, indeed, but stuffed full. A child has been given us, but in him dwells the whole fullness of divinity. He came in the flesh so that in this way he might be shown to those made of flesh, and in the likeness of humanity so that his graciousness might be recognized. When God’s humanity becomes known, his graciousness can no longer be concealed.”
~St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Thursday, October 22, 2015

You Do Not Need Many Things

My house is buried in the deepest recess of the forest.
Every year, ivy vines grow longer than the year before.
Undisturbed by the affairs of the world I live at ease,
Woodmen’s singing rarely reaching me through the trees.
While the sun stays in the sky, I mend my torn clothes
And facing the moon, I read holy texts aloud to myself.
Let me drop a word of advice my friends.
To enjoy life’s immensity, you do not need many things.

~Taigu Ryokan

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Life

“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”
~Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

from Novena

Let me know the distance
from your ghost to my bones.

Let these knees singe the ground
under coal-brushed clouds.

Let my voice grow into prayer
with my face against the soil.

Let the seed begin the tree,
the taproot kiss through stone.

Let hands grow to branches,
divide and rise to green.

Let fingers flower into leaves
and wander to the sky.

Let churning be an icon,
the beginning to your reach.

Let rain create the heat,
and batter every leaf.

Let lines of lightning chalk the sky,
fierce flare to flash and rush.

Let my pieces smolder
in the absence of your touch.

~Dave Harrity

Monday, October 19, 2015

Two Types

“The whole world, it seems, is divided into two types of people. On one side are the vast majority: normal, decent people who seek goodness, truth, and beauty in life. They find these delights in family, friendship, work, leisure, sports, art, nature, and other healthy human interests. On the other side are the minority: those who single-mindedly grasp after power. They devote themselves to imposing their will by bullying or manipulating others. They value people only for their usefulness; they treat words as weapons; they break promises when it suits them; they lust for gossip and traffic in it; they promote their interests above anyone else’s rights; they’re preoccupied, even obsessed, with the architectonics of control. Avoid these people. Try not to work under them. Above all, if possible, don’t vote them into public office.”
~James Stenson

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Encounter

“Man never stops seeking: both when he is marked by the drama of violence, loneliness, and insignificance, and when he lives in serenity and joy, he continues to seek. The only answer which can satisfy him and appease this search of his comes from the encounter with the One who is at the source of his being and his action. ...The road is Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, who reaches the person in his day-to-day existence. The discovery of this road normally comes about through the mediation of other human beings. ...Christianity, even before being a sum of doctrines or a rule for salvation, is thus the ‘event’ of an encounter.”
~Pope John Paul II

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Autumn


(Middle Falls - Letchworth State Park, NY - picture found here)
“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.”
~William Cullen Bryant

On fields o’er which the reaper’s hand has pass’d
Lit by the harvest moon and autumn sun,
My thoughts like stubble floating in the wind
And of such fineness as October airs,
There after harvest could I glean my life
A richer harvest reaping without toil,
And weaving gorgeous fancies at my will
In subtler webs than finest summer haze.
~Henry David Thoreau
   

Friday, October 16, 2015

Simply Seeks What Is Good

“...the Christian is the one who simply seeks what is good, without any calculation. A merely righteous man, the one who is only concerned with doing what is correct, is a Pharisee; only he who is not merely righteous is beginning to be a Christian. Of course, that does not, by a long way, mean that a Christian is a person who does nothing wrong and has no failings. On the contrary, he is the person who knows that he does have failings and who is generous with God and with other people because he knows how much he depends on the generosity of God and of his fellowmen. The generosity of someone who knows he is in debt to everyone else, who is quite unable to attempt to maintain a correctness that would allow him to make strict demands in return: that is the true guiding light of the ethical code that Jesus is proclaiming (cf. Matthew 18:13-35). This is the mystery, at once incredibly demanding and liberating, to be found behind the word ‘superabundance’, without which there can be no Christian righteousness.”
~Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Let Nothing Trouble You

“Let nothing trouble you, let nothing make you afraid. All things pass away. God never changes. Patience obtains everything. God alone is enough.”

“Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.”
~St. Teresa of Avila

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

In Relation To God

“Who I am I can grasp only in relation to what is beyond me. No; it is better to say that I can understand myself only in relation to the One who has given me me. I cannot understand myself only in relation to myself. Questions about human life which use the word 'why' and the word 'I' cannot be answered by an individual alone. These questions include: Why am I as I am? Why can I have only what I have? Why do I exist? These questions can be answered only in relation to God.”
~Romano Guardini

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Heavens


(Picture found here)
My heart is ready, O God,
    my heart is ready.
    I will sing, I will sing your praise.
Awake, my soul;
    awake, lyre and harp,
    I will awake the dawn.

I will thank you, Lord, among the peoples,
    among the nations I will praise you
for your love reaches to the heavens
    and your truth to the skies.

O God, arise above the heavens;
    may your glory shine on earth.

~Psalm 57:8-12
     

Monday, October 12, 2015

For Fun...

“Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t go to yours.”

“Little League baseball is a good thing `cause it keeps the parents off the streets and the kids out of the house!”

“I wish I had an answer to that, because I’m tired of answering that question.”

“I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.”

“When Max Nicholas, then head of Yankee public relations, called, I sleepily answered the phone. ‘Sorry, Yogi,’ he said. ‘I hope I didn’t wake you.’ I replied: ‘Nah, I had to get up to answer the phone anyway.’”

“I really didn’t say everything I said!”

~Yogi Berra

Sunday, October 11, 2015

All People That On Earth Do Dwell

All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.

The Lord, ye know, is God indeed;
Without our aid He did us make;
We are His folk, He doth us feed,
And for His sheep He doth us take.

O enter then His gates with praise;
Approach with joy His courts unto;
Praise, laud, and bless His name always,
For it is seemly so to do.

For why? the Lord our God is good;
His mercy is for ever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure.

To Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
The God whom Heaven and earth adore,
From men and from the angel host
Be praise and glory evermore.

~Words: attributed to William Kethe & Music: attributed to Louis Bourgeois

Friday, October 9, 2015

True...

“Some people will never understand anything, for this reason, because they understand everything too soon.”
~Alexander Pope

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Bells

                                 I.

               HEAR the sledges with the bells --
                     Silver bells !
What a world of merriment their melody foretells !
          How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
                In the icy air of night !
          While the stars that oversprinkle
          All the heavens, seem to twinkle
                With a crystalline delight ;
             Keeping time, time, time,
             In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
      From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
                     Bells, bells, bells --
   From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

                                 II.

               Hear the mellow wedding bells
                     Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells !
          Through the balmy air of night
          How they ring out their delight !
                From the molten-golden notes,
                     And all in tune,
                What a liquid ditty floats
      To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats
                     On the moon !
             Oh, from out the sounding cells,
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells !
                     How it swells !
                     How it dwells
                On the Future ! how it tells
                Of the rapture that impels
             To the swinging and the ringing
                Of the bells, bells, bells,
      Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
                     Bells, bells, bells --
   To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells !

                                 III.

               Hear the loud alarum bells --
                         Brazen bells !
What tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells !
          In the startled ear of night
          How they scream out their affright !
               Too much horrified to speak,
               They can only shriek, shriek,
                         Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
                  Leaping higher, higher, higher,
                  With a desperate desire,
               And a resolute endeavor
               Now -- now to sit or never,
          By the side of the pale-faced moon.
                  Oh, the bells, bells, bells !
                  What a tale their terror tells
                         Of Despair !
       How they clang, and clash, and roar !
       What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air !
          Yet the ear, it fully knows,
                By the twanging,
                And the clanging,
            How the danger ebbs and flows ;
       Yet, the ear distinctly tells,
             In the jangling,
             And the wrangling,
       How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells --
                  Of the bells --
      Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
             Bells, bells, bells --
   In the clamour and the clangour of the bells !

                                 IV.

               Hear the tolling of the bells --
                     Iron bells !
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels !
       In the silence of the night,
       How we shiver with affright
    At the melancholy meaning of their tone !
            For every sound that floats
            From the rust within their throats
                   Is a groan.
            And the people -- ah, the people --
            They that dwell up in the steeple,
                   All alone,
            And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,
                In that muffled monotone,
            Feel a glory in so rolling
                On the human heart a stone --
       They are neither man nor woman --
       They are neither brute nor human --
                   They are Ghouls: --
            And their king it is who tolls ;
            And he rolls, rolls, rolls, rolls,
                     Rolls
                A pæan from the bells !
            And his merry bosom swells
                With the pæan of the bells !
            And he dances, and he yells ;
       Keeping time, time, time,
       In a sort of Runic rhyme,
                To the pæan of the bells --
                     Of the bells :
       Keeping time, time, time,
       In a sort of Runic rhyme,
                To the throbbing of the bells --
            Of the bells, bells, bells --
                To the sobbing of the bells ;
       Keeping time, time, time,
            As he knells, knells, knells,
       In a happy Runic rhyme,
                To the rolling of the bells --
            Of the bells, bells, bells --
                To the tolling of the bells,
      Of the bells, bells, bells, bells --
                     Bells, bells, bells --
   To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

 ~Edgar Allan Poe (published 1849)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Why?

“As he observed the motions in the heavens, he pondered, as he had so often during his life, the question of why people had ceased to look upward. The people of his times had once again begun to think that there was no lebensraum—no room in the world, no room in the material universe, and no infinity in which to discover immortal room.

He had met so many like that in the camps, in universities, in seats of power, and even in the place where he now lived. All of them felt compelled to seek solutions, and in doing so they tried to force their will upon others. The worst would try to force it upon mankind. They would make space for humanity by destroying a portion of humanity. Like their forerunners, they would in the end make the world more bereft of space and time. They looked at the sky, but it was meaningless to them, empty and flat. They killed hope because they had no true hope.”
~Michael O’Brien (from Sophia House)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Servant of the Servants

A Journalist: “Holy Father, you have become a star in the United States. Is it good for the Church if the Pope is a star?”

Pope Francis: “The Pope must… Do you know what the title was of the Pope that ought to be used? Servant of the servants of God. It’s a little different from the stars. Stars are beautiful to look at. I like to look at them in the summer when the sky is clear. But the Pope must be, must be the servant of the servants of God. Yes, in the media this is happening but there’s another truth. How many stars have we seen that go out and fall? It is a fleeting thing. On the other hand, being servant of the servants of God is something that doesn’t pass.”

~From the press conference on the flight that departed from Philadelphia and landed in Rome

Monday, October 5, 2015

A Life is a Word Spoken


(Picture found here)
“...a life is a word spoken. It cannot be taken back once uttered. It is a seed launched upon the wind for a brief flight, then planted in the soil, where it sleeps for a time. Many are the elements that make the harvest: sun and rain, heat and cold, plowing and sowing, the season of bounty and the season when creation dies.

...Few would hear him, fewer would comprehend. Perhaps only the mother with her child, the father with his son, and the writer with his grief. They understood the end of words. Their lives had been spoken, and so shifted, a little, the balance of the world.”
~Michael O’Brien (from Sophia House)
    

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Psalm 93


(Picture from Jon Foreman's site)
The Lord is king, with majesty enrobed;
The Lord has robed Himself with might,
He has girded Himself with power.

The world You made firm, not to be moved;
Your throne has stood firm from of old.
From all eternity, O Lord, You are.

The waters have lifted up, O Lord,
The waters have lifted up their voice,
The waters have lifted up their thunder.

Greater than the roar of mighty waters,
More glorious than the surgings of the sea,
The Lord is glorious on high.

Truly Your decrees are to be trusted.
Holiness is fitting to Your house,
O Lord, until the end of time.
(re-post)
    

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Fight the Good Fight of Faith

Whoever is in Christ is a new creation; the old has passed away. Now by the “new creation” Paul means the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in a heart that is pure and blameless, free of all malice, wickedness or shamefulness. For when a soul has come to hate sin and has delivered itself as far as it can to the power of virtue, it undergoes a transformation by receiving the grace of the Spirit. Then it is healed, restored and made wholly new. Indeed the two texts: Purge out the old leaven that you may be a new one, and: Let us celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, support those passages which speak about the new creation.

Yet the tempter spreads many a snare to trap the soul, and of itself human nature is too weak to defeat him. This is why the Apostle bids us to arm ourselves with heavenly weapons, when he says: Put on the breastplate of righteousness and have your feet shod with the gospel of peace and have truth around your waist as a belt. Can you not see how many forms of salvation the Apostle indicates, all leading to the same path and the same goal? Following them to the heights of God’s commandments, we easily complete the race of life. For elsewhere the Apostle says: Let us run with fidelity the race that has been set before us, with our eyes on Jesus, the origin and the goal of our faith.

So a man who openly despises the accolades of this world and rejects all earthly glory must also practice self-denial. Such self-denial means that you never seek your own will but God’s, using God’s will as a sure guide...

...Our service of mankind must be given freely. One who is in such a position must be subject to everyone and serve his brothers as if he were paying off a debt. Moreover, those who are in charge should work harder than the others and conduct themselves with greater submission than their own subjects. Their lives should serve as a visible example of what service means, and they should remember that those who are committed to their trust are held in trust from God...

...For this is what the Lord wants when he says: Whoever wishes to be first and great among you must be the last of all and a servant to all...
~St. Gregory of Nyssa

Friday, October 2, 2015

Mistakes

“We must not be discouraged over our mistakes. Perfect Love does not secure perfect Knowledge. We know only in part. So we are often mistaken in our opinions and this leads to mistakes in conduct. We should do better, if we knew better how and what to do. But we must have patience with ourselves,—profit from our mistakes, and be more careful in the future. Because we cannot do as well as we would we must not cease to do as well as we can.

Francis de Sales wrote to one of high spiritual aspirations: ‘Those who would tread safely must set themselves steadfastly to travel along the road which is appointed for them, nor must they fix their minds on the end of the journey, in such wise as to make them neglect to make a good beginning.’”
~B. T. Roberts

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Even When He Remains Silent

“Our love for Jesus is truly great when we do not feel its sweetness. It then becomes a martyrdom... When, on the contrary, we begin to seek ourselves, true love dies away. Unfortunately, many serve Jesus when He consoles them, but few are willing to keep Him company when He is asleep.”

“...To live out of love, while Jesus is sleeping, / Is the rest on the stormy waves...”

“He does not want us to love Him for His gifts, but for Himself alone... He is so beautiful, so ravishing even when He remains silent, even when He hides Himself.”

“O my Jesus, You know well that it is not for the reward that I serve You, but solely because I love You and in order to save souls.”

~St. Therese of Lisieux