Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year

“The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year, but rather that we should have a new soul.”
~G. K. Chesterton

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

O, Great Wonder

“And the Word became flesh!…in order to make us earthly beings into heavenly ones, in order to make sinners into saints; in order to raise us up from corruption into incorruption, from earth to heaven; from enslavement to sin and the devil – into the glorious freedom of children of God; from death – into immortality, in order to make us sons of God and to seat us together with Him upon the Throne as His royal children. O, boundless compassion of God! O, inexpressible wisdom of God! O, great wonder, astounding not only the human mind, but the angelic [mind] as well!”
~St. John of Kronstadt

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Little Way

“O humankind, you need not sail across the seas or pierce the clouds or cross the Alps! No grand way is being shown to you. Run to your own self to meet your God! ‘The Word is near you, on your lips and in your heart!’ Run to compunction of heart and confession of lips to escape at least the dunghill of a wretched conscience, for there the author of purity cannot appropriately enter.”
~St. Bernard of Clairvaux

“To call it a little way and a little distance is not to say it is easy. Nothing is nearer and more constantly with us than our conscience and our true self: and yet how inaccessible they can seem. This is part of the Christmas paradox. The infant Savior inhabits our frail, vulnerable and dependent state humbly and purely. Our only way to meet him there is through the door of compunction and sorrow for our wrongs, the one door we most avoid, and the short little journey we most resist taking.

This Christmas and in this Year of Mercy may we each receive the grace to travel this little way and to go this little distance, both to receive mercy and to become merciful.”

~Fr. Elias, Christmas Homily 2015 (Abbey of Gethsemani)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Numen


(Picture found here)
Two ducks
fly over the lagoon,
neat and clean,
an ordinary happening
above these waters
but one that almost never fails
to make one’s soul tilt.
The word that might come to mind
is marvelous if that word
had meaning anymore. Two ducks
fly over the lagoon, neat and clean,
creatures who have no trouble
annunciating their livingness.
They fly so well over these waters.
They fly straight and fast and clearly strange.

~Teddy Macker
   

Sunday, December 27, 2015

St. Joseph

“Joseph is the man on the outskirts, standing in the shadows, silently waiting, there when wanted and always ready to help. He is the man in whose life God is constantly intervening with warnings and visions. Without complaint he allows his own plans to be set aside. . . .

Willing, unquestioning service is the secret of his life. It is his message for us and his judgment of us. We have crabbed and confined God within the pitiable limits of our obstinacy, our complacency, our mania for ‘self expression.’ We have given God only the minimum of recognition.”
~Alfred Delp

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Joy To The World

...And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

~Excerpt - Words: Isaac Watts & Music: Low­ell Ma­son

Friday, December 25, 2015

Descent

Down he came from up,
and in from out,
and here from there.
A long leap,
an incandescent fall
from magnificent
to naked, frail, small,
through space,
between stars,
into our chill night air,
shrunk, in infant grace,
to our damp, cramped
earthy place
among all
the shivering sheep.

And now, after all,
there he lies,
fast asleep.

~Luci Shaw

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Carol for the Last Christmas Eve

The first night, the first night,
The night that Christ was born,
His mother looked in his eyes and saw
Her maker in her son.

The twelfth night, the twelfth night,
After Christ was born,
The Wise Men found the child and knew
Their search has just begun.

Eleven thousand, two fifty nights,
After Christ was born,
A dead man hung in the child's light
And the sun went down at noon.

Six hundred thousand or thereabout nights,
After Christ was born,
I look at you and you look at me
But the sky is too dark for us to see
And the world waits for the sun.

But the last night, the last night,
Since ever Christ was born,
What his mother knew will be known again,
And what was found by the Three Wise Men,
And the sun will rise and so may we,
On the last morn, on Christmas morn,
Umpteen hundred and eternity.

~Norman Nicholson

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

James 5:7-8, 9b

Be patient, my brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer awaits the precious yield of the soil. He looks forward to it patiently while the soil receives the winter and the spring rains. You, too, must be patient. Steady your hearts, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. See! The judge stands at the gate.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Solstice


(Picture found here)
These are dark times. Rumors of war
rise like smoke in the east. Drought
widens its misery. In the west, glittering towers
collapse in a pillar of ash and dust. Peace,
a small white bird, flies off in the clouds.

And this is the shortest day of the year.
Still, in almost every window,
a single candle burns,
there are tiny white lights
on evergreens and pines,
and the darkness is not complete.

~Barbara Crooker
     

Monday, December 21, 2015

Hope and Trust

“What a strength and spring of life, what hope and trust, what glad, unresting energy, is in this one thought: to serve Him who is ‘my Lord,’ ever near me, ever looking on; seeing my intentions before He beholds my failures; knowing my desires before He sees my faults; cheering me to endeavor greater things, and yet accepting the least; inviting my poor service, and yet, above all, content with my poorer love.

Let us try to realize this, whatsoever, wheresoever we be. The humblest and the simplest, the weakest and the most encumbered, may love Him not less than the busiest and strongest, the most gifted and laborious. If our heart be clear before Him; if He be to us our chief and sovereign choice, dear above all, and beyond all desired; then all else matters little. That which concerneth us He will perfect in stillness and in power.”
~Howard Manning

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Creator Of The Stars Of Night

Creator of the stars of night,
thy people's everlasting light,
Jesus, Redeemer, save us all,
hear thou thy servants when they call.

Thou, sorrowing at the helpless cry
of all creation doomed to die,
didst save our lost and guilty race
by healing gifts of heavenly grace.

Thou cam'st, the Bridegroom of the bride,
as drew the world to eventide;
proceeding from a virgin shrine,
the spotless Victim all divine.

At thy great Name, exalted now,
all knees in lowly homage bow;
all things in heaven and earth adore,
and own thee King for evermore.

To thee, O Holy One, we pray,
our Judge in that tremendous day,
ward off, while yet we dwell below,
the weapons of our crafty foe.

To God the Father, God the Son,
and God the Spirit, Three in One,
laud, honor, might and glory be
from age to age eternally.

Words: Latin, sixth century
Translation: John Neale
Music: Conditor Sarum melody

Saturday, December 19, 2015

From God Christ's Deity Came Forth

From God Christ's deity came forth,
his manhood from humanity;
his priesthood from Melchizedek,
his royalty from David's tree:
praised be his Oneness.

He joined with guests at wedding feast,
yet in the wilderness did fast;
he taught within the temple's gates;
his people saw him die at last:
praised be his teaching.

The dissolute he did not scorn,
nor turn from those who were in sin;
he for the righteous did rejoice
but bade the fallen to come in:
praised be his mercy.

He did not disregard the sick;
to simple ones his word was given;
and he descended to the earth
and, his work done, went up to heaven:
praised be his coming.

Who then, my Lord, compares to you?
The Watcher slept, the Great was small,
the Pure baptized, the Life who died,
the King abased to honor all:
praised be your glory.

~St. Ephrem the Syrian, translated by John Rhys, adapted and altered by F. Bland Tucker for a hymn

Friday, December 18, 2015

Advent Calendar


(Picture found here)
He will come like last leaf's fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud's folding.

He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.

He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.

He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.

~Rowan Williams
   

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Christmas Child

“Little one, who straight hast come
Down the heavenly stair,
Tell us all about your home,
And the father there.”

“He is such a one as I,
Like as like can be.
Do his will, and, by and by,
Home and him you’ll see.”

~George MacDonald

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

From a Commentary on Ps. 99

“If you want some idea who He is, you must draw nearer to Him. To look from a distance is to risk being deceived. It is the spirit that perceives Him and the heart that sees Him. What sort of heart? “Blessed are the pure in heart: they shall see God” (Mt. 5:8).

You must draw nearer to Him by becoming like Him. You will feel His presence to the extent that love grows in you, because God is Love.

Then you will not be able to do anything but praise Him. And if you make a joyful noise to the Lord, you will understand the joyful noise that all the lands make to Him.”
~St. Augustine

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Giving

“Many a man when he was poor had a heart that was open to every call of pity, but as riches increased he set his heart more upon them. The massing of wealth has a peculiar effect on the soul; it intensifies the desire of getting. What is often lust in youth is avarice in old age. Could they but expose themselves to the great joy of giving and respond to pity’s claim, they would sense the great thrill in benevolence. Great as the pleasure is in receiving, greater is the pleasure in benevolence.”
~Fulton Sheen

Monday, December 14, 2015

Lake Erie




(Pictures found here)
Dave Sandford has always been drawn to the water. He recently spent time on Lake Erie shooting the Great Lake’s turbulent fall season. His goal was to capture the exact moment when lake waves driven by gusting winds collide with a rebound wave that’s created when the water hits a pier and collection of boulders on the shore.

“The best way I can describe the water is it’s like a washing machine. It’s not like ocean waves, where you have a nice set that’s rolling in. They are really erratic, they go all over the place, and there is a strong undertow there so it can be a very dangerous place.”

“I’ve had a number of people contact me that used to live by the Great Lakes …. and they said the photos really stirred something inside them because they grew up there and know what the water can be like.”

“I’m hearing from other people that are blown away. They say, ‘This can’t be a lake, it’s got to be an ocean.’ They had no idea that a lake could generate waves of this size and force.”
 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Wonder of Wonders

“God travels wonderful ways with human beings, but he does not comply with the views and opinions of people. God does not go the way that people want to prescribe for him; rather, his way is beyond all comprehension, free and self-determined beyond all proof. Where reason is indignant, where our nature rebels, where our piety anxiously keeps us away: that is precisely where God loves to be. There he confounds the reason of the reasonable; there he aggravates our nature, our piety—that is where he wants to be, and no one can keep him from it. Only the humble believe him and rejoice that God is so free and so marvelous that he does wonders where people despair, that he takes what is little and lowly and makes it marvelous. And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly…. God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings. God marches right in. He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would least expect them. God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken.”
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Invocation from the Army-Navy Game 2015

“Gathered on this gridiron, we are grateful for such rough and rugged souls as these cadets and midshipmen—strong in spirit and in sinew. We are especially mindful of our first-class cadets and midshipmen bristling on the brink of becoming soldiers, sailors, marines ready today to happily visit violence on each other and if need be someday, sometime soon on the enemies of the world so that our citizens, our allies’ citizens, indeed the sane citizens of all countries can sleep safe and sound in peace. For those of us who have fought, who can fight, who will fight our country's wars, pray for peace more than those who have never served can ever know. For we willingly face the horrors from which others are thankfully spared. But, if peace on earth be not granted us in this season of our lives, then we pray, almighty God, that on these fields of friendly strife be sown the seeds that on other fields, on other days will bear the fruits of victory. Amen!”

~Chaplain Matthew Pawlikowski
(this was typed from the television – any grammatical errors are mine)

Friday, December 11, 2015

Reason

“Likewise, exalting reason and science as the only true things in the universe, while declaring them to be the epiphenomena of exactly the same mindless forces that also give us wind, weather, and driftwood does not seem to me to be a credible way of arguing that one’s thoughts are superior to those of a theist who roots human reason in the Divine Mind. But this is the method of countless atheists.”
~Mark Shea

Thursday, December 10, 2015

He Will Come

Strengthen the weak hands,
    and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
    “Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
    He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
    He will come and save you.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
    and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
    and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
    and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
    the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

~Isaiah 35:3-7

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Your Whole Being

“See that your praise comes from your whole being; in other words, see that you praise God not with your lips and voices alone, but with your minds, your lives and all your action. . . . You cease to praise God only when you swerve from justice and from what is pleasing to God. If you never turn aside from the good life, your tongue may be silent but your actions will cry aloud, and God will perceive your intentions; for as our ears hear each other’s voices, so do God’s ears hear our thoughts.”
~St. Augustine

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Simplicity

“It is when I possess least that I have the fewest worries, and the Lord knows that, as far as I can tell, I am more afflicted when there is excess of anything than when there is lack of it.”
~St. Teresa of Avila

“Property, wealth, diversions, amusements are often obstacles to the attainment of truth, beauty, celebration, delight, and love. They are not evil in themselves, of course, but the fact is that they allure us to fasten on them for themselves. They become finite crutches that distract and lead us away from our genuine quenching. Pulled to them, we cannot be pulled to God.”
~Thomas Dubay

“There are two wings that raise a man above earthy things—simplicity and purity. Simplicity must inspire his purpose, and purity his affection. Simplicity reaches out after God; purity discovers and enjoys Him.”
~Thomas à Kempis

Monday, December 7, 2015

Far Back

“Perhaps, indeed, the better the gift we pray for, the more time is necessary for its arrival. To give us the spiritual gift we desire, God may have to begin far back in our spirit, in regions unknown to us, and do much work that we can be aware of only in the results; for our consciousness is to the extent of our being but as the flame of the volcano to the world-gulf whence it issues; in the gulf of our unknown being God works behind our consciousness.

With His holy influence, with His own presence (the one thing for which we most earnestly cry) He may be approaching our consciousness from behind, coming forward through regions of our darkness into our light, long before we begin to be aware that He is answering our request—has answered it, and is visiting his child.”
~George MacDonald

Sunday, December 6, 2015

His Kingdom


(Found here)
“Herod, you are troubled with idle fear. Your kingdom would not contain Christ; nor is the Lord of the world to be confined within the narrow limits of the power of your scepter. He whom you wish not to reign in Judah, already reigns everywhere.”
~St. Leo the Great

“What shall the tribunal of the Judge be like, when the Nativity of an Infant, makes proud kings tremble? Let kings fear Him, now sitting at the Right Hand of the Father, Whom the impious king feared, while yet at His Mother’s breast.”
~St. Augustine
 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates

Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates;
Behold, the King of glory waits;
The King of kings is drawing near;
The Savior of the world is here!

Fling wide the portals of your heart;
Make it a temple, set apart
From earthly use for heaven’s employ,
Adorned with prayer and love and joy.

Redeemer, come, with us abide;
Our hearts to thee we open wide;
Let us thy inner presence feel;
Thy grace and love in us reveal.

Thy Holy Spirit lead us on
Until our glorious goal is won;
Eternal praise, eternal fame
Be offered, Savior, to thy name!

Tune: Truro L.M.
Music: Psalmodia Evangelica
Text: Georg Weissel
Translation: Catherine Winkworth

Friday, December 4, 2015

Advent


(Picture found here)
“Everybody knows, even those of us who have lived most unadventurously, what it is to plod on for miles, it seems, eagerly straining your eyes toward the lights that, somehow, mean home. How difficult it is, when you are doing that to judge distances! In pitch darkness, it might be a couple of miles to your destination, it might be a few hundred yards. So it was, I think, with the Hebrew prophets, as they looked forward to the redemption of their people. They could not have told you, within a hundred years, within five hundred years, when it was the deliverance would come. They only knew that, some time, the stock of David would burgeon anew; some time, a key would be found to fit the door of their prison house; some time, the light that only shows, now, like a will-o'-the-wisp on the horizon would broaden out, at last into the perfect day.

This attitude of expectation is one which the Church wants to encourage in us, her children, permanently. She sees it as an essential part of our Christian drill that we should still be looking forward; getting on for two thousand years, now, since the first Christmas Day came and went, and we must still be looking forward. So she encourages us, during advent, to take the shepherd-folk for our guides, and imagine ourselves traveling with them at dead of night, straining our eyes towards that chink of light which streams out, we know, from the cave at Bethlehem.”

~Ronald Knox
   

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Scars

“...Scars can be honourable tokens of battle and of life fully lived. Jesus kept His and allowed the apostles to see and touch them; tradition says the body of the exalted and glorified Lord bears them forever. Transfigured and glorious they are tokens of His love for us. The same is true of our own healed wounds; in heaven they will be glorious and the cause of more joy. It begins to be true now, for I too am marked for life; my scars are tokens of His re-creative love, and as ever I must pray from where I am. My forgive-ness and my healed-ness are a prayer if I have the wit to let them be.”
~Maria Boulding

“The virile Christ is He who unfurls before an evil world the pledge of victory in His own Body – the scar-spangled banner of Salvation.”
~Fulton Sheen

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wall Marks

Those scratchy marks there on the wall,
They show how short I used to be.
They rise until they get this tall,
And Mama keeps reminding me
The way dad would take his pen
And as I stood there, stiff and straight,
He’d put a ruler on my head
And mark the spot and write the date.
She says that it’s my history,
But I don’t understand at all
Just why she cries each time she sees
Those scratchy marks there on the wall.

~Shel Silverstein

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Interesting...

“I believe that man is, by nature, an exile and will never be self-sufficient or complete on this earth; that his chances of happiness and virtue, here, remain more or less constant through the centuries and, generally speaking, are not much affected by the political and economic conditions in which he lives; that the balance of good and ill tends to revert to a norm; that sudden changes of physical condition are usually ill, and are advocated by the wrong people for the wrong reasons...”
~Evelyn Waugh