Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Lord is in this year (Part 2 of 2)

“...We can enter this year creatively, but only on condition that we enter with hope, that is with the certainty that the Lord is in this year, that He is the master and will lead us to the right place, and with the faith that nothing in this year will happen without the will or acquiescence of God. If this is our attitude we shall see that nothing is chance, (whoever believes in chance does not believe in God) that there are no pointless meetings and every person is sent us by the Lord. And if we enter this year with the knowledge that everything — light and dark, good and terrifying — is a gift of God and is sent us so that through us faith, hope, love, joy and the strength of the Lord should enter the world, if we firmly believe that every person who crosses our path is sent in order that we may bring him the word or action of the Lord or receive it from him, life will be meaningful and rich. Otherwise it will remain a matter of chance, an endless string of fortuitous events. Let us enter upon the new year with this faith and hope and this burning of the spirit, let us receive each other and anyone whom God may send us as the Lord receives us on our way, and let us accept anything that befalls us as coming from the hand of God, and in all circumstances let us be Christ’s; then all will be well.”
~Anthony Bloom

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Lord is in this year (Part 1 of 2)

“Once again a new year is approaching. When we are young we greet the new year with open hearts and it seems to us that everything is possible in it. It stretches before us like an endless plain of virgin snow; no footprint has yet marked the whiteness. Everything is possible, everything is pure and shining. In declining years we await the new year with a kind of inner patience, we feel that it will be a repetition of the past. There may be new events in plenty but they will be familiar, earthly happenings which we know how to live with. In both cases we are mistaken. Yes, the new year lies before us like a path that no one has yet trodden, a clear, virgin plain that must flower with a wealth of human good deeds. Whatever our age a path lies ahead of us and it is up to us to make it the way of the Lord, or not. It depends on us whether for those around us and for future generations we make a track to Heaven or to Hell, either eternal Hell, or simply the cruel human hell on earth. And at the same time what lies before us is, as old age sees it, the usual and familiar, only that it has never happened to us before. Life may be as ordinary as ever, but we may be different, the same events may occur again but be quite new because we have changed...”
~Anthony Bloom

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Good News

“The good news comes knocking on doors that we didn’t even know we had; it flings open the curtains on windows we didn’t know existed to reveal the rising sun flooding the room with glory when we had imagined that all light came from candles; it woos our cold hearts and awakens them, like someone falling in love for the first time, to a joy and fulfillment never before imagined.”
~N. T. Wright (re-post)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Te Deum

You are God: we praise You;
You are the Lord; we acclaim You;
You are the eternal Father:
All creation worships You.

To You all angels, all the powers of heaven,
Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise:
     Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
     heaven and earth are full of Your glory.

The glorious company of apostles praise You.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise You.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise You.

Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims You;
     Father, of majesty unbounded,
     Your true and only Son, worthy of all worship,
     and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.

You, Christ, are the king of glory,
the eternal Son of the Father.
When You became man to set us free
You did not shun the Virgin's womb.

You overcame the sting of death
and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
You are seated at God's right hand in glory.
We believe that You will come and be our judge.

Come then, Lord, and help Your people,
bought with the price of Your own blood,
and bring us with Your saints
to glory everlasting.

V.  Save Your people, Lord, and bless Your inheritance.
R.  Govern and uphold them now and always.

V.  Day by day we bless You.
R.  We praise Your name for ever.

V.  Keep us today, Lord, from all sin.
R.  Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.

V.  Lord, show us Your love and mercy,
R.  For we have put our trust in You.

V.  In You, Lord, is our hope:
R.  Let us never be put to shame.

(Early Christian hymn of praise – Authorship is traditionally ascribed to Saints Ambrose and Augustine, on the occasion of the latter's baptism by the former in AD 387 – re-post)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Monet's Snow Scene


(Road to Giverny in Winter - found here)
“The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the source of my inspiration.”
~Claude Monet
 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmastide

I may not go to-night to Bethlehem,
Nor follow star-directed ways, nor tread
The paths wherein the shepherds walked, that led
To Christ, and peace, and God’s good will to men.

I may not hear the Herald Angels’ song
Peal through the oriental skies, nor see
The wonder of that Heavenly company
Announce the King the world had waited long.

The manger throne I may not kneel before,
Or see how man to God is reconciled,
Through pure St. Mary’s purer, holier child;
The human Christ these eyes may not adore.

I may not carry frankincense and myrrh
With adoration to the Holy One;
Nor gold have I to give the Perfect Son,
To be with those wise kings a worshipper.

Not mine the joy that Heaven sent to them,
For ages since Time swung and locked his gates,
But I may kneel without—the star still waits,
To guide me on to holy Bethlehem.

~Pauline Johnson

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Magi

Now as at all times I can see in the mind's eye,
In their stiff, painted clothes, the pale unsatisfied ones
Appear and disappear in the blue depths of the sky
With all their ancient faces like rain-beaten stones,
And all their helms of silver hovering side by side,
And all their eyes still fixed, hoping to find once more,
Being by Calvary's turbulence unsatisfied,
The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor.

~William Butler Yeats

Saturday, December 24, 2016

O Little Town Of Bethlehem

Brooks wrote about his horseback journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, where he assisted with the midnight service on Christmas Eve, 1865:

“I remember standing in the old church in Bethlehem, close to the spot where Jesus was born, when the whole church was ringing hour after hour with splendid hymns of praise to God, how again and again it seemed as if I could hear voices I knew well, telling each other of the Wonderful Night of the Savior’s birth.”

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth!

How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.

Where children pure and happy pray to the blessèd Child,
Where misery cries out to Thee, Son of the mother mild;
Where charity stands watching and faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks, and Christmas comes once more.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!

~Words: Phillips Brooks & Music: Lewis Redner

Friday, December 23, 2016

He came to His own...

“Then, as the afternoon shadows lengthened into evening, Joseph began his search for a proper place for Mary, whose hour had come. Some scholars have suggested reading ‘the inn was no place for them,’ rather than ‘there was no place for them in the inn.’(Luke 2:7) The need was admittedly not just for any shelter, but for privacy and propriety. Yet the traditional meditation is forever valid: The heartsick Joseph on the first Christmas Eve knocking on doors and hearts was repeatedly rejected; Mary waiting prayerfully, quietly abandoned to God’s providence, astride that blessed noble donkey; the Child within her about to be born. ‘He came to His own, and His own received Him not.’ (John 1:11) People closed their doors in the face of the Creator, Savior, and Judge of the universe. It was a prophetic forecast of so many rejections in all the generations yet to come.

The Advent application good Christians have always drawn was to listen for Joseph’s knocking and his plea to open the doors of our homes and hearts for Mary and her Child. ‘To those who did receive Him, He gave them power to become children of God.’(John 1:12)”
~Richard Gilsdorf

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Infinite Dignity

"I cannot describe what the heart feels when it accepts in the divine will in such humble, poor and mean disguises. Ah! how the sight of God, poor and humble, lodged in a stable, lying on straw, weeping and trembling, pierced the loving heart of Mary! Ask the inhabitants of Bethlehem what they thought of the Child. You know what answer they gave, and how they would have paid court to him had he been lodged in a palace surrounded by the state due to princes.

"Then ask Mary and Joseph, the magi and the shepherds. They will tell you that they found in this extreme poverty an indescribable tenderness, and an infinite dignity worthy of the majesty of God. Faith is strengthened, increased and enriched by those things that escape the senses; the less there is to see, the more there is to believe."
~Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Trees



“The best Christmas trees come very close to exceeding nature. If some of our great decorated trees had been grown in a remote forest area with lights that came on every evening as it grew dark, the whole world would come to look at them and marvel at the mystery of their great beauty.”
~Andy Rooney
   

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Creative Buds of New Life

“[Christians] in general need to ‘un-plug’ from the nearly universal dominance of commercial entertainment culture, by which I mean electronic culture. If we were to do so, we would no longer fear silence, and we would experience a new richness of life as we move away from the psychological cosmos of frantic consumerism. We would also grow in gratitude, reverence, and attentiveness to the holy, which is all around us. But we first have to recognize that we’ve been drugged—yes we believers, no less than unbelievers. If we hope for a true new renaissance, we will have to first of all deal with our addiction to mediocrity, and at the same time keep our eyes open for those creative buds of new life that rise up, against all odds, in the midst of the soul-killing tsunami of contemporary culture. We must encourage this new life wherever it appears. We must give the coming generation the courage to believe in the impossible.”
~Michael O’Brien

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Come Lord Jesus

"Lord Jesus, master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas. We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day. We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us. We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom. We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence. We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light. To you we say, 'Come Lord Jesus!' Amen."
~Henri Nouwen

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Isaiah 45:1-13

Thus says the Lord to his anointed, Cyrus,
   whose right hand I grasp,
Subduing nations before him,
   and making kings run in his service,
Opening doors before him
   and leaving the gates unbarred:

I will go before you
   and level the mountains;
Bronze doors I will shatter,
   and iron bars I will snap.
I will give you treasures out of the darkness,
   and riches that have been hidden away,
That you may know that I am the Lord,
   the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.

For the sake of Jacob, my servant,
   of Israel my chosen one,
I have called you by your name,
   giving you a title, though you knew me not.
I am the Lord and there is no other,
   there is no God besides me.
It is I who arm you, though you know me not,
   so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun
   men may know that there is none besides me.
I am the Lord, there is no other;
   I form the light, and create the darkness,
I make well-being and create woe;
   I, the Lord, do all these things. 

Let justice descend, O heavens, like dew from above,
   like gentle rain let the skies drop it down.
Let the earth open and salvation bud forth;
   let justice also spring up!
   I, the Lord, have created this.

Woe to him who contends with his Maker;
   a potsherd among potsherds of the earth!
Dare the clay say to its modeler, “What are you doing?”
   or, “What you are making has no hands?
Woe to him who asks a father, “What are you begetting?”
   or a woman, “What are you giving birth to?”

Thus says the Lord,
   the Holy One of Israel, his maker:
You question me about my children,
   or prescribe the work of my hands for me!
It was I who made the earth
   and created mankind upon it;
It was my hands that stretched out the heavens;
   I gave the order to all their host.
It was I who stirred up one for the triumph of justice;
   all his ways I make level.
He shall rebuild my city
   and let my exiles go free
Without price or ransom,
   says the Lord of hosts.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Relativism

“Morality especially has come to seem to [Hamlet] completely dependent on his own opinions. ‘There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so,’ he declares.

How wild was this? Shakespeare had predicted post-modernism and moral relativism hundreds of years before they came into being! ...

But there was one big difference. Hamlet said these things when he was pretending to be mad. My professors said them and pretended to be sane. Shakespeare was telling us, it seemed to me, that relativism was not just crazy, it was make-believe crazy, because even the people who proclaimed it did not believe it deep down. If, after all, there is no truth, how could it be true that there is no truth? If there is no absolute morality, how can you condemn the morality of considering my culture better than another? Relativism made no sense, as Shakespeare clearly saw.”
~Andrew Klavan (excerpt from: The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Star of Hope

“Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope. The purpose of the Church’s year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart’s memory so that it can discern the star of hope...”
~Pope Benedict XVI

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Journal Entry – December 9, 1962

“Hurt my hand falling on a sharp stone in the garden (in the dark) on the way to Prime. Moral: don’t be looking at the stars on the way to Prime.

It is beautiful Advent weather, grayish and cold, with clouds of light snow howling across the valley, and I see it is really winter. I put some bread out for the birds.

Twenty-one years tomorrow since I landed here! I feel closer to my beginning than ever, yet perhaps I am near my end. The Advent hymns sound as they first did, as if they were the nearest things to me that ever were, as if they had been decisive in shaping my heart and my life, as if I had received their form, as if there could never be any other melodies so deeply connatural to me. They are myself, words and melody and everything...”
~Thomas Merton

Monday, December 12, 2016

Night sky at Deep Bay

Midnight, and the sky above the lake
ablaze with a zillion fires lit while I slept.
Each flame a declaration, each solemn planet bright.
I tilt my head way back, and there's The Milky Way,
there's Cassiopeia, Orion, Ursa Major the Pleiades,
a whole bright host.

Years ago while snow fell quietly on Latvia,
I entered the majestic Riga Dom.
From the balcony a choir sang, a capella,
from Schubert's Deutsche Messe,
the Sanctus.

The Baltic Sea slept
while the sanctuary's hushed, cold corners
overflowed with: Holy, Holy, Holy
and our eyes with tears.

On the beach tonight I shiver, not with cold,
but overcome—unwitting witness
to the firmament's explosion—with astonishment.
As if the host of Bethlehem's angels
and the celestial Latvian voices joined
to wake the midnight world
with radiant, resounding Glorias.

(When I am old or ill
will all the stars be there, still
burning, still untarnished,
declaring truth and beauty
are not dead, not even dormant?
And will that choir sing?)

~Sarah Klassen

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Word and the voice

“John is the voice, but the Lord is the Word who was in the beginning. John is the voice that lasts for a time; from the beginning Christ is the Word who lives for ever.

Take away the word, the meaning, and what is the voice? Where there is no understanding, there is only a meaningless sound. The voice without the word strikes the ear but does not build up the heart. 

However, let us observe what happens when we first seek to build up our hearts. When I think about what I am going to say, the word or message is already in my heart. When I want to speak to you, I look for a way to share with your heart what is already in mine.

In my search for a way to let this message reach you, so that the word already in my heart may find a place also in yours, I use my voice to speak to you. The sound of my voice brings the meaning of the word to you and then passes away. The word which the sound has brought to you is now in your heart, and yet it is still also in mine.

When the word has been conveyed to you, does not the sound seem to say: The word ought to grow, and I should diminish? The sound of the voice has made itself heard in the service of the word, and has gone away, as though it were saying: My joy is complete. Let us hold on to the word; we must not lose the word conceived inwardly in our hearts.”
~St. Augustine

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Army-Navy Game

I missed the game this year but remembered the prayer from last year. It was worth re-posting...

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 9, 2016

On the Mystery of the Incarnation

It's when we face for a moment
the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
the taint in our own selves, that awe
cracks the mind's shell and enters the heart:
not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
to no innocent form
but to this creature vainly sure
it and no other is god-like, God
(out of compassion for our ugly
failure to evolve) entrusts,
as guest, as brother,
the Word.

~Denise Levertov

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Mosaic of the Nativity: Serbia, Winter, 1993

On the domed ceiling God
is thinking:
I made them my joy,
and everything else I created
I made to bless them.
But see what they do!
I know their hearts
and arguments:

“We’re descended from
Cain. Evil is nothing new,
so what does it matter now
if we shell the infirmary,
and the well where the fearful
and rash alike must
come for water?”

God thinks Mary into being.
Suspended at the apogee
of the golden dome,
she curls in a brown pod,
and inside her the mind
of Christ, cloaked in blood,
lodges and begins to grow.

~Jane Kenyon

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

“Adoro te supplex, lateens deitas”

(beginning stanzas)

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived;
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for true I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.

On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men;
Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.

~Thomas Aquinas 
(Gerard Manley Hopkins translated this Aquinas poem)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Advent

(On A Theme by Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Look how long
the weary world waited,
locked in its lonely cell,
guilty as a prisoner.

As you can imagine,
it sang and whistled in the dark.
It hoped. It paced and puttered about,
tidying its little piles of inconsequence.

It wept from the weight of ennui,
draped like shackles on its wrists.
It raged and wailed against the walls
of its own plight.

But there was nothing
the world could do
to find its own freedom.
The door was shut tight.

It could only be opened
from the outside.

Who could believe the latch
would be turned by a pink flower —
the tiny hand
of a newborn baby?

~Pamela Cranston

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Journey To Christmas

“The scriptures tell us that there is a time and season for everything, for each particular event. There is a time of preparing for Christmas, and that is Advent, and then there is a time for Christmas itself. There is no doubt in my mind that the more serious we are about our personal Advent journey, the greater the joy we shall reap during our Christmas celebration.

It is a good practice to make concrete plans on how best to keep our Advent observance. Often, if no plans are made in advance, much of Advent goes unnoticed and wasted. Since Advent is basically a quiet time of waiting for the arrival of the Light at Christmas, it is good to start by trying to become more internally quiet during this rather brief season.

Above all, we must make the most of these moments of stillness by remaining calm, silent, and spending quality time with the Lord. The words from one of the psalms counsel us: Be still, and know that I am God. Monks always strive to preserve a more quiet recollected spirit during these lovely Advent days and thus enjoy the Lord’s intimate company.

There is no reason why others, in a monastery or elsewhere, could not do the same wherever they are. It is a question of resolving to do so and making the effort. The Holy Spirit will do the rest. Come, Holy Spirit.
~Victor-Antoine D’Avila-Latourrette

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Enters Into Our Lives

“The Christian notion of incarnation is holistic and integrative. Jesus Christ came into the world as a whole, integrated person -- not as a ‘pretend’ person... Moreover, he was involved in all of life, not just its so-called ‘sacred’ aspects. The primary theological significance of this holistic and integrative involvement is not just to qualify him as the Second Adam and make retribution for our fragmented relationship to God. Rather, it is in and by such involvement that God enters into our lives and we into God’s.”
~Jerry Gill

Friday, December 2, 2016

Desire for the Vision of God


("Hope" by Lois Andersen - oil on canvas - found here)
“Insignificant man, escape from your everyday business for a short while, hide for a moment from your restless thoughts. Break off from your cares and troubles and be less concerned about your tasks and labors. Make a little time for God and rest a while in Him.

Enter into your mind’s inner chamber. Shut out everything but God and whatever helps you to seek Him; and when you have shut the door, look for Him. Speak now to God and say with your whole heart: I seek Your face; Your face, Lord, I desire.

Lord, my God, teach my heart where and how to seek You, where and how to find You. Lord, if You are not here where shall I look for You in Your absence? Yet if You are everywhere, why do I not see You when You are present? ...

...Look upon us, Lord, hear us and enlighten us, show us Your very self. Restore Yourself to us that it may go well with us whose life is so evil without You. Take pity on our efforts and our striving toward You, for we have no strength apart from You.

Teach me to seek You, and when I seek You show Yourself to me, for I cannot seek You unless You teach me, nor can I find You unless You show Yourself to me. Let me seek You in desiring You and desire You in seeking You, find You in loving You.”
~St. Anselm
 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Make Haste

“The shepherds made haste, partly no doubt from human curiosity, in order to see this great thing that had been announced to them. But surely, too, they were driven by their joy on hearing that now, truly, the Saviour, the Messiah, the Lord had been born, the one so long awaited—and they would be the first to see him. How many Christians make haste today, where the things of God are concerned? Surely if anything merits haste—so the evangelist is discreetly telling us—then it is the things of God.”
~Benedict XVI

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Marvel of the Incarnation

“The very Son of God, older than the ages, the invisible, the incomprehensible, the incorporeal, the beginning of beginning, the light of light, the fountain of life and immortality, the image of the archetype, the immovable seal, the perfect likeness, the definition and word of the Father: He it is who comes to His own image and takes our nature for the good of our nature, and unites Himself to an intelligent soul for the good of my soul, to purify like by like. He takes to Himself all that is human, except for sin. He was conceived by the Virgin Mary, who had been first prepared in soul and body by the Spirit; His coming to birth had to be treated with honor, virginity had to receive new honor. He comes forth as God, in the human nature He has taken, one being, made of two contrary elements, flesh and spirit. Spirit gave divinity, flesh received it.

He who makes rich is made poor; He takes on the poverty of my flesh, that I may gain the riches of His divinity. He who is full is made empty; He is emptied for a brief space of His glory, that I may share in His fullness. What is this wealth of goodness? What is this mystery that surrounds me? I received the likeness of God, but failed to keep it. He takes on my flesh, to bring salvation to the image, immortality to the flesh...”
~St. Gregory Nazianzen

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

from “A Ritual to Read to Each Other”

...I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something
         shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should
         consider—
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the
dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to
          sleep;
the signals we give — yes or no, or maybe —
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

~William Stafford 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Old to New

“When the smith plunges the iron into the fire, he is not just trying to make it hot and glowing; he wants to make it malleable. So too, the only reason why mental prayer is to give light to my mind and warmth to my heart is to make my soul pliant so that it can be hammered into a new shape, so that the faults and form of the old man may be hammered out, and the form and virtues of Jesus Christ imparted to it.”
~Jean-Baptiste Chautard

Sunday, November 27, 2016

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Refrain

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

Refrain

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

Refrain

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Refrain

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

Refrain

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

Refrain

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.

Refrain

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Refrain

~Words: Com­bined from var­i­ous an­ti­phons by an un­known au­thor, pos­si­bly in the 12th Cen­tu­ry (Ve­ni, ve­ni Eman­u­el); trans­lat­ed from La­tin to Eng­lish by John M. Neale & Music: Veni Em­man­u­el, from a 15th Cen­tu­ry pro­cess­ion­al of French Fran­cis­can nuns; ar­ranged by Thom­as Hel­more

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankful For Lives/Examples Of Saints

“We can speak of conversion not only as avoiding sins, mortal and venial, but also positively, as changes, improvements from evil to good: from lying to honesty . . . vanity to humility . . . gluttony to temperance . . . foolishness to prudence . . . timidity to courage . . . rage to patience . . . laziness to zeal . . . lust to love . . . cheating to justice . . . pettiness (small mindedness) to magnanimity (large mindedness) . . . egoism to altruism . . . mediocrity to totality . . . personal ugliness to personal beauty. Heroism in holiness occurs, wrote Benedict XIV, when these and the other virtues attain that peak of perfection by which a person vastly surpasses the goodness of ordinarily faithful people who aspire to holiness but at a slower pace and with less effort.

Heroic virtues are also interconnected. A person does not simply have one or a few virtues to a splendid degree. All the perfect virtues are found together. If an individual grows only in one or a few virtues, but lacks others, he is either a beginner or is becoming lax...

...As I have pointed out elsewhere, ‘heroically holy people unite in themselves virtues that seem to many people to exclude one another: magnanimity (aspiring to do great things for God and our neighbor) and humility, warm love and chastity, contemplation and action. Chinese intellectual John Wu was struck especially with this trait in Saint Therese of Lisieux, and he was moved to enter the Catholic Church because he saw that these highly desirable qualities cannot result from mere human ingenuity and strength. Wu concluded that the Church that could produce a Therese has to be his home of the divine on earth, for he found in this young woman ‘a living synthesis of such opposite extremes as humility and boldness, freedom and discipline, joy and suffering, duty and love, strength and tenderness, grace and nature, wisdom and folly, wealth and poverty, community and individualism.’’

Since each of the divine commandments spells out what is good for the individual and for all of us in our various states in life, a person who carries them out is bound to be a beautiful human being. And since each precept also indicates what love requires in a given set of circumstances, the individual with heroic virtues is doing exactly what Scripture indicates: ‘living a life of love’ (2 Jn 6).”
~Thomas Dubay

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Woe to the soul...

“...Woe to the soul if the Lord does not walk within it to banish with his voice the spiritual beasts of sin. Woe to the house where no master dwells, to the field where no farmer works, to the pilotless ship, storm-tossed and sinking. Woe to the soul without Christ as its true pilot; drifting in the darkness, buffeted by the waves of passion, storm-tossed at the mercy of evil spirits, its end is destruction. Woe to the soul that does not have Christ to cultivate it with care to produce the good fruit of the Holy Spirit. Left to itself, it is choked with thorns and thistles; instead of fruit it produces only what is fit for burning. Woe to the soul that does not have Christ dwelling in it; deserted and foul with the filth of the passions, it becomes a haven for all the vices.

When a farmer prepares to till the soil he must put on clothing and use tools that are suitable. So Christ, our heavenly king, came to till the soil of mankind devastated by sin. He assumed a body and, using the cross as his ploughshare, cultivated the barren soul of man. He removed the thorns and thistles which are the evil spirits and pulled up the weeds of sin. Into the fire he cast the straw of wickedness. And when he had ploughed the soul with the wood of the cross, he planted in it a most lovely garden of the Spirit, that could produce for its Lord and God the sweetest and most pleasant fruit of every kind.”
~St. Macarius

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

God Placed A Veil

God placed a veil
over our hearts,
a veil that conceals an abyss
that only He can see.

When I consider what would be revealed
about the one I adore —
humble and on my knees
as one worships the Lord —

if this veil were to drop
suddenly between the two of us,
I tremble...and bowing my head,
I say, “How wise is God!”

~Rosalia de Castro

Monday, November 21, 2016

Snow


(Picture taken by Elsa)
“One afternoon I was reading in the living room, and around four o’clock [...] I looked up from my book; something in the room had changed. I glanced around, but everything seemed the same. Then I looked up, and the ceiling was brighter; the light from outside had altered. Something else had changed too. The walls of this building were thick. From the outside I never heard any but the loudest sounds and they were muted. But now I couldn’t hear even these—no horns, air brakes, tire squeals. The silence was absolute. Then, far away, a child shouted for joy.

Carrying my book, I walked to a window and whatever it is that leaps in your chest with excitement sprang up now. There were six inches of new snow, unmarked and sparkling on every horizontal surface outside; ten billion more fat flakes rushing past my window. Nothing moved on the street below me [...] the traffic lights uselessly clicking from green to red; red to green; and across the street, Central Park was a delight. There things moved. Little kids in red, blue, brown, green were running, tottling, and falling down in the snow. They were rolling in it, scooping it up, throwing and eating it. A few had sleds and one struggling cluster was rolling a ball of snow already taller than they were [...] and I stood at the window for what must have been half of an hour watching the big flakes whirl past the glass, watching Central Park turn into an etching as the black branches loaded up with white, watching the humps and depressions that marked paths and streets level off and disappear.”

~Jack Finney (I typed this from an audiobook – any typographical errors are mine) 
  

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Joy Of All

“...eternal life consists of the joyous community of all the blessed, a community of supreme delight, since everyone will share all that is good with all the blessed. Everyone will love everyone else as himself, and therefore will rejoice in another’s good as in his own. So it follows that the happiness and joy of each grows in proportion to the joy of all.”
~St. Thomas Aquinas

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Come, Christians, Join To Sing

Come, Christians, join to sing
Alleluia! Amen!
Loud praise to Christ our King;
Alleluia! Amen!
Let all, with heart and voice,
Before His throne rejoice;
Praise is His gracious choice.
Alleluia! Amen!

Come, lift your hearts on high,
Alleluia! Amen!
Let praises fill the sky;
Alleluia! Amen!
He is our Guide and Friend;
To us He’ll condescend;
His love shall never end.
Alleluia! Amen!

Praise yet our Christ again,
Alleluia! Amen!
Life shall not end the strain;
Alleluia! Amen!
On heaven’s blissful shore,
His goodness we’ll adore,
Singing forevermore,
“Alleluia! Amen!”

~Words: Christ­ian Bate­man & Music: tra­di­tion­al Span­ish mel­o­dy (ar­ranged by Da­vid Ev­ans)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Drink

“Let us consider ourselves an exhausted traveler, panting for breath and parched with thirst, looking for a cool spring. At last, I see one, but it is on a high, steep rock. I thirst. The more I look at that spring, which would so refresh me as to enable me to continue my journey, the more I yearn to quench my increasing thirst. I will, cost what it may, reach that spring; and I make every effort, but all in vain. But, there is someone near, who seems to be awaiting my request for help, in order to help me. He even carries me in the steepest places, and after a few minutes, I am able to quench my thirst. In like manner, we can drink of the living waters of grace flowing from the Heart of Jesus.”
~Jean-Baptiste Chautard

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Truth, Goodness, and Beauty

“...When honest men love objective reality, the way things actually are, and then go on to pursue the goodness of all the virtues and are sensitive to genuine beauty, they are like a starving man sitting before a banquet. He immediately sees the answers to his needs. When people who love truth, goodness and beauty hear the gospel, they spontaneously love it. This means of course that they immediately see its attractiveness and splendor, how it magnificently fulfills their human aspirations and needs. Because they are freed from I-centeredness, they are finely tuned to be receptive of reality, including divine Reality. An honest study of atheism and comparative religion makes it lucidly clear that no other worldview begins to compare with the truth-reality, the sheer beauty and holiness, the incomparable splendor of Jesus and his message throughout the Gospels. Indeed, beauty is evidence of truth.”
~Thomas Dubay

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Living Water

“I may, I suppose, regard myself, or pass for being, a relatively successful man. People occasionally stare at me in the streets – that's fame. I can fairly easily earn enough to qualify for admission to the higher slopes of the Inland Revenue – that's success. Furnished with money and a little fame, even the elderly, if they care to, may partake of trendy diversions – that's pleasure. It might happen once in a while that something I said or wrote was sufficiently heeded for me to persuade myself that it represented a serious impact on our time – that's fulfillment. Yet I say to you, and I beg you to believe me, multiply these tiny triumphs by a million, add them all together, and they are nothing – less than nothing, a positive impediment – measured against one draught of that living water Christ offers to the spiritually thirsty, irrespective of who or what they are.”
~Malcolm Muggeridge

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Unchangeable Evenness of Mind

“The order of God’s Providence maintains a perpetual vicissitude in the material being of this world; day is continually turning to night, spring to summer, summer to autumn, autumn to winter, winter to spring; no two days are ever exactly alike. Some are foggy, rainy, some dry or windy; and this endless variety greatly enhances the beauty of the universe. And even so precisely is it with man (who, as ancient writers have said, is a miniature of the world), for he is never long in any one condition, and his life on earth flows by like the mighty waters, heaving and tossing with an endless variety of motion; one while raising him on high with hope, another plunging him low in fear; now turning him to the right with rejoicing, then driving him to the left with sorrows; and no single day, no, not even one hour, is entirely the same as any other of his life.

All this is a very weighty warning, and teaches us to aim at an abiding and unchangeable evenness of mind amid so great an uncertainty of events; and, while all around is changing, we must seek to remain immoveable, ever looking to, reaching after and desiring our God. Let the ship take what tack you will, let her course be eastward or westward, northern or southern, let any wind whatsoever fill her sails, but meanwhile her compass will never cease to point to its one unchanging lodestar. Let all around us be overthrown, nay more, all within us; I mean let our soul be sad or glad, in bitterness or joy, at peace or troubled, dry and parched, or soft and fruitful, let the sun scorch, or the dew refresh it; but all the while the magnet of our heart and mind, our superior will, which is our moral compass, must continually point to the Love of God our Creator, our Saviour, our only Sovereign Good. ‘Whether we live, we live unto the Lord, or whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord’s. Who shall separate us from the Love of Christ?’ Nay, verily, nothing can ever separate us from that Love;—neither tribulation nor distress, neither death nor life, neither present suffering nor fear of ills to come; neither the deceits of evil spirits nor the heights of satisfaction, nor the depths of sorrow; neither tenderness nor desolation, shall be able to separate us from that Holy Love, whose foundation is in Christ Jesus. Such a fixed resolution never to forsake God, or let go of His Precious Love, serves as ballast to our souls, and will keep them stedfast amid the endless changes and chances of this our natural life...”
~St. Francis de Sales

Monday, November 14, 2016

Lightness in Autumn


(Picture taken by Elsa)
The rake is like a wand or fan,  
With bamboo springing in a span  
To catch the leaves that I amass  
In bushels on the evening grass.

I reckon how the wind behaves  
And rake them lightly into waves  
And rake the waves upon a pile,  
Then stop my raking for a while.

The sun is down, the air is blue,  
And soon the fingers will be, too,  
But there are children to appease  
With ducking in those leafy seas.

So loudly rummaging their bed
On the dry billows of the dead,
They are not warned at four and three  
Of natural mortality.

Before their supper they require  
A dragon field of yellow fire
To light and toast them in the gloom.  
So much for old earth’s ashen doom.

~Robert Fitzgerald
  

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Good to Better

“There are more people converted from mortal sin to grace, then there are religious converted from good to better.”
~St. Bernard of Clairvaux

“Bernard was saying that there are more men who give up serious alienation from God, mortal sin, than there are people who give up small wrongs, willed venial sins. And there are even fewer who grow into heroic virtue and live as saints live. If we are saddened by this realization, we ought to be.”
~Thomas Dubay

Saturday, November 12, 2016

2 John 4-9

I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth
   just as we were commanded by the Father.
But now, Lady, I ask you,
   not as though I were writing a new commandment
   but the one we have had from the beginning:
   let us love one another.
For this is love, that we walk according to his commandments;
   this is the commandment, as you heard from the beginning,
   in which you should walk.

Many deceivers have gone out into the world,
   those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh;
   such is the deceitful one and the antichrist.
Look to yourselves that you do not lose what we worked for
   but may receive a full recompense.
Anyone who is so “progressive”
   as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God;
   whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Suddenly They Saw Him The Way He Was

       Suddenly they saw him the way he was,
the way he really was all the time,
although they had never seen it before,
the glory which blinds the everyday eye
and so becomes invisible. This is how
he was, radiant, brilliant, carrying joy
like a flaming sun in his hands.
This is the way he was—is—from the beginning,
and we cannot bear it. So he manned himself,
came manifest to us; and there on the mountain
they saw him, really saw him, saw his light.
We all know that if we really see him we die.
But isn't that what is required of us?
Then, perhaps, we will see each other, too.

~Madeleine L’Engle

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Kingdom

“The Apostles wavered in their faith in Jesus as the Messiah, because they anticipated and desired to see in Him an earthly king, in whose kingdom they could sit at the right and the left hand of the Lord.

The thief understood that the Kingdom of Jesus of Nazareth, despised and given over to a shameful death, was not of this world. And it was precisely this Kingdom that the thief now sought: the gates of earthly life were closing after him; opening before him was eternity. He had settled his accounts with life on earth, and now he thought of life eternal. And here, at the threshold of eternity, he began to understand the vanity of earthly glory and earthly kingdoms. He recognized that greatness consists in righteousness, and in the righteous, blamelessly tortured Jesus he saw the King of Righteousness. The thief did not ask Him for glory in an earthly kingdom but for the salvation of his soul.

The faith of the thief, born of his esteem for Christ’s moral greatness, proved stronger than the faith of the Apostles, who although captivated by the loftiness of Christ’s teaching, based their faith to a still greater extent on the signs and wonders He wrought.

Now there was no miraculous deliverance of Christ from His enemies — and the Apostles’ faith was shaken.

But the patience He exhibited, His absolute forgiveness, and the faith that His Heavenly Father heard Him so clearly, indicated Jesus’ righteousness, His moral superiority, that one seeking spiritual and moral rebirth could not be shaken.

And this is precisely what the thief, aware of the depth of his fall, craved. He did not ask to sit at the right or the left hand of Christ in His Kingdom, but, conscious of his unworthiness, he asked in humility simply that he be remembered in His Kingdom, that he be given even the lowest place.”
~St. John Maximovitch

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Politicians

“The men whom the people ought to choose to represent them are too busy to take the jobs. But the politician is waiting for it. He’s the pestilence of modern times. What we should try to do is make politics as local as possible. Keep the politicians near enough to kick them. The villagers who met under the village tree could also hang their politicians to the tree. It’s terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged today.”
~G. K. Chesterton

Monday, November 7, 2016

Death as a Blessing

“Death must be active within us if life also is to be active within us. Life is life after death, a life that is a blessing. This blessing of life comes after victory, when the contest is over, when the law of our fallen nature no longer rebels against the law of our reason, when we no longer need to struggle against the body that leads to death, for the body already shares in victory. It seems to me that this ‘death’ is more powerful than ‘life.’ I accept the authority of the Apostle when he says: Death is therefore active within us, but life also is active within you. Yet the ‘death’ of this one man was building up life for countless multitudes of peoples! He therefore teaches us to seek out this kind of death even in this life, so that the death of Christ may shine forth in our lives—that blessed death by which our outward self is destroyed and our inmost self renewed, and our earthly dwelling crumbles away and a home in heaven opens before us.

The person who cuts himself off from this fallen nature of ours and frees himself from its chains is imitating death. These are the bonds spoken of by the Lord through Isaiah: Loose the bonds of injustice, untie the thongs of the yoke, set free the oppressed and break every yoke of evil.

The Lord allowed death to enter this world so that sin might come to an end. But he gave us the resurrection of the dead so that our nature might not end once more in death; death was to bring guilt to an end, and the resurrection was to enable our nature to continue forever.

‘Death’ in this context is a Passover to be made by all mankind. You must keep facing it with perseverance. It is a Passover from corruption, from mortality to immortality, from rough seas to a calm harbor. The word ‘death’ must not trouble us; the blessings that come from a safe journey should bring us joy. What is death but the burial of sin and the resurrection of goodness? Scripture says: Let my soul die among the souls of the just; that is, let me be buried with the just, so that I may cast off my sins and put on the grace of the just, of those who bear the death of Christ with them, in their bodies and in their souls.”
~St. Ambrose

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven

Angels, help us to adore Him;
Ye behold Him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before Him,
Dwellers all in time and space.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise with us the God of grace.

~Words: Hen­ry Lyte & Music: John Goss (excerpt - final verse)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Preaching to myself (again)

“A brother asked Abba Poemen: ‘What does it mean to get angry at one’s brother without cause?’ And he replied: ‘When your brother attacks you, whatever the insults are, if you get angry at him, you are getting angry without cause. Even if he were to pull out your right eye, and to cut off your right hand, if you get angry at him, you are getting angry without cause. Yet if he were to try to take you away from God, then get angry!’”
~Desert Fathers

Friday, November 4, 2016

Deep in our Hearts

“Somewhere deep in our hearts we already know that success, fame, influence, power, and money do not give us the inner joy and peace we crave. Somewhere we can even sense a certain envy of those who have shed all false ambitions and found a deeper fulfillment in their relationship with God. Yes, somewhere we can even get a taste of that mysterious joy in the smile of those who have nothing to lose.”
~Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Dazzle Us

“O God, infinitely good and great, wonderful indeed are the truths that faith lays open to us, concerning the life which Thou leadest within Thyself: and these truths dazzle us.”
~Jean-Baptiste Chautard

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Saints

“God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners.”
~Søren Kierkegaard

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Visitation

His body ahead
Of him on the bed
He faces his feet
Sees himself dead,
A corpse complete
With legs and chest
And belly between
Swelling the scene
Of the crime you left,
Taking your time,
Angel of Death

~Samuel Menashe

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Blest Be The Tie That Binds

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father’s throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.

We share each other’s woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way;
While each in expectation lives,
And longs to see the day.

From sorrow, toil and pain,
And sin, we shall be free,
And perfect love and friendship reign
Through all eternity.

~Words: John Fawcett & Music: Hans Nägeli or Lowell Mason

Friday, October 28, 2016

Pray Fervently

“Every person that does any evil, that gratifies any passion, is sufficiently punished by the evil he has committed, by the passion he serves, but chiefly by the fact that he withdraws himself from God, and God withdraws Himself from him: it would therefore be insane and most inhuman to nourish anger against such a man; it would be the same as to drown a sinking man, or to push into the fire a person who is already being devoured by the flame. To such a man, as to one in danger of perishing, we must show double love, and pray fervently to God for him; not judging him, not rejoicing at his misfortune.”
~St. John of Kronstadt

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Regarding Conscience

“Left to itself, though it tells truly at first, it soon becomes wavering, ambiguous, and false; it needs good teachers and good examples to keep it up to the mark and the line of duty; and the misery is that these external helps, teachers, and examples are in many instances wanting.”
~John Henry Newman

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Hold It Cheap

“Accordingly this seems to me to be one principal reason why the good are chastised along with the wicked, when God is pleased to visit with temporal punishments the profligate manners of a community. They are punished together, not because they have spent an equally corrupt life, but because the good as well as the wicked, though not equally with them, love this present life; while they ought to hold it cheap, that the wicked, being admonished and reformed by their example, might lay hold of life eternal.”
~St. Augustine

Monday, October 24, 2016

Lament 18

My Lord, each of us is your wilful child:
By happiness beguiled,
Entranced by earthly joys,
He soon forgets you and heeds not your voice.

We fail to see how much your Grace attends
Our welfare; which soon ends
When your infinite Good
Is not repaid with infinite gratitude.

Rein us in, Lord, before vain pleasure blinds
Our supercilious minds!
Remind them of your cause
If not with blessings, then at least with blows!

Yet punish us as loving fathers do:
Your wrath would burn us through;
We'd vanish without trace
Like snow when warmed by the sun's piercing rays.

Oh, let your hand not crush those in discord
With you, Eternal Lord;
You hurt us to the core
With your mere frown: we could not withstand more.

Though fools claim you have never been man's friend,
Sooner the world may end
Than you shall ever scorn
A rebel soul, when broken and forlorn.

Great are my sins before you, Lord; yet still
Your mercy and goodwill
Would not let evil reign.
Have pity, Lord, on my despair and pain!

~Jan Kochanowski

Sunday, October 23, 2016

And Can It Be

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

~Words: Charles Wesley & Music: Thomas Campbell

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Loses His Bearings

“When one is not aware of the judgment of God, when one does not recognize the possibility of hell, of the radical and definitive failure of life; then one does not recognize the possibility and necessity of purification. Then man does not work well on behalf of the world, because in the end he loses his bearings; he no longer knows himself, not knowing God, and destroying the world. All of the great ideologies have promised: We will take things in hand; we will no longer overlook the world; we will create the new, just, correct fraternal world. Instead they destroyed the world.”
~Benedict XVI

Friday, October 21, 2016

If we are to survive...

“It is said that Christianity, if it is to survive, must face the modern world, must come to terms with the way things are in the sense of the current drift of things. It is just the other way around: If we are to survive, we must face Christianity. The strongest reactionary force impeding progress is the cult of progress itself, which, cutting us off from our roots, makes growth impossible and choice unnecessary. We expire in the lazy, utterly helpless drift, the spongy warmth of an absolute uncertainty. Where nothing is ever true, or right or wrong, there are no problems; where life is meaningless we are free from responsibility, the way a slave or scavenger is free. Futility breeds carelessness, against which stands the stark alternative: against the radical uncertainty by which modern man has lived – as in a game of Russian roulette, stifled in the careless ‘now’ between the click and the explosion, living by the dull grace of empty chambers – the risk of certainty.”
~John Senior

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fire by Fire


(Picture found here)
       My son goes down in the orchard to incinerate
Burning the days trash, the accumulation
Of old letters, empty toilet-paper rolls, a paper plate,
Marketing lists, discarded manuscript, on occasion
Used cartons of bird seed, dog biscuit. The fire
Rises and sinks; he stirs the ashes till the flames expire.
       Burn, too, old sins, bedraggled virtues, tarnished
Dreams, remembered unrealities, the gross
Should-haves, would-haves, the unvarnished
Errors of the day, burn, burn the loss
Of intentions, recurring failures, turn
Them all to ash. Incinerate the dross. Burn. Burn.

~Madeleine L'Engle
 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

St. Isaac Jogues


(Picture found here)
Isaac Jogues was a “missionary to New France (Canada), starting in Quebec and working among the Hurons and Petuns in the area of the Great Lakes. This was a rough assignment – not only were the living conditions hard, but the locals blamed the ‘Blackrobes’ for any disease, ill luck, or other problems that occurred where they were. Captured on 3 August 1642 by the Mohawks, enslaved, tortured and mutilated for thirteen months, he taught the Faith to any who would listen. With the help of local Dutch settlers he finally escaped and was sent back to France to recover.”

While recovering in France he decided to return to his mission work in New France (Canada). He declared, “My heart tells me that if I have the blessing of being used for this mission, I shall go and I shall not return; but I would be glad if our Lord should fulfill the sacrifice where he began it, and that the small amount of blood I shed in that land should turn out to be an advance payment for that which I would give from all the veins of my body and heart.”

In 1644 he returned to New France (Canada) to continue his work with the natives and negotiate peace with the Iroquois. He was tortured, decapitated, and martyred by the Iroquois tribe on October 18, 1646.

(Picture of the area where St. Isaac Jogues' body was thrown after his death in modern day Auriesville, NY)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Colossians 1:9b-11

May you attain full knowledge of God’s will through perfect wisdom and spiritual insight. Then you will lead a life worthy of the Lord and pleasing to Him in every way. You will multiply good works of every sort and grow in the knowledge of God. By the might of His glory you will be endowed with the strength needed to stand fast, even to endure joyfully whatever may come.

Monday, October 17, 2016

I see his blood upon the rose


(Picture found here)
I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.
I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice—and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.
All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.

~Joseph Plunkett
 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Let Us Always Be Mindful Of Christ’s Love

“If Christ Jesus dwells in a man as his friend and noble leader, that man can endure all things, for Christ helps and strengthens us and never abandons us. He is a true friend. And I clearly see that if we expect to please him and receive an abundance of his graces, God desires that these graces must come to us from the hands of Christ, through his most sacred humanity, in which God takes delight. 

Many, many times I have perceived this through experience. The Lord has told it to me. I have definitely seen that we must enter by this gate if we wish his Sovereign Majesty to reveal to us great and hidden mysteries. A person should desire no other path, even if he is at the summit of contemplation; on this road he walks safely. All blessings come to us through our Lord. He will teach us, for in beholding his life we find that he is the best example.

What more do we desire from such a good friend at our side? Unlike our friends in the world, he will never abandon us when we are troubled or distressed. Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near. Let us consider the glorious Saint Paul: it seems that no other name fell from his lips than that of Jesus, because the name of Jesus was fixed and embedded in his heart. Once I had come to understand this truth, I carefully considered the lives of some of the saints, the great contemplatives, and found that they took no other path: Francis, Anthony of Padua, Bernard, Catherine of Siena. A person must walk along this path in freedom, placing himself in God’s hands. If God should desire to raise us to the position of one who is an intimate and shares his secrets, we ought to accept this gladly.

Whenever we think of Christ we should recall the love that led him to bestow on us so many graces and favors, and also the great love God showed in giving us in Christ a pledge of his love; for love calls for love in return. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to rouse ourselves to love him. For if at some time the Lord should grant us the grace of impressing his love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall accomplish great things quickly and without effort.”
~St. Teresa of Avila

Friday, October 14, 2016

Do Not Put Your Trust In Princes

Do not put your trust in princes,
    in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
    on that very day their plans perish.

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth,
    the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
~Psalm 146:3-6

“For at present we all tend to one mistake; we tend to make politics too important. We tend to forget how huge a part of a man's life is the same under a Sultan and a Senate, under Nero or St. Louis. Daybreak is a never-ending glory, getting out of bed is a never-ending nuisance; food and friends will be welcomed; work and strangers must be accepted and endured; birds will go bedwards and children won't, to the end of the last evening.”
~G. K. Chesterton

“How small, of all that human hearts endure,
That part which laws or kings can cause or cure.”
~Samuel Johnson

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Dead and Living

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”
~G. K. Chesterton

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

At The Center

“God’s first language is silence.” In commenting on this beautiful, rich insight of Saint John of the Cross, Thomas Keating, in his work Invitation to Love, writes: “Everything else is a poor translation. In order to understand this language, we must learn to be silent and to rest in God.”

It is time to rediscover the true order of priorities. It is time to put God back at the center of our concerns, at the center of our actions and of our life: the only place that He should occupy. Thus, our Christian journey will be able to gravitate around this Rock, take shape in the light of the faith and be nourished in prayer, which is a moment of silent, intimate encounter in which a human being stands face to face with God to adore Him and to express his filial love for Him.
~Robert Sarah

Monday, October 10, 2016

Confidence in Him

“The sermon on the mount is a summons to follow Jesus Christ in discipleship. He alone is (the demand reaching into the depths of one’s being in which the individual instructions of the sermon on the mount are condensed and united: Matt. 5:48). On our own we cannot be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect – but we must be to correspond to the task our nature lays upon us.

We cannot do this, but we can follow him, cling to him, become his. If we belong to him as his limbs or members, then through our participation we become what he is: his goodness becomes ours. What the father says in the parable of the prodigal son is realized in us: All that is mine is yours (Luke 15:31).

The moralism of the sermon on the mount that is all too stiff for us is brought together and transformed into communion with Jesus, into being a disciple of Jesus; in clinging fast to our relationship to him, in friendship with him and in confidence in him.”
~Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Ask Ye What Great Thing I Know

Ask ye what great thing I know,
That delights and stirs me so?
What the high reward I win?
Whose the Name I glory in?
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

What is faith’s foundation strong?
What awakes my heart to song?
He Who bore my sinful load,
Purchased for me peace with God,
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

Who is He that makes me wise
To discern where duty lies?
Who is He that makes me true
Duty, when discerned to do,
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

Who defeats my fiercest foes?
Who consoles my saddest woes?
Who revives my fainting heart,
Healing all its hidden smart?
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

Who is life in life to me?
Who the death of death will be?
Who will place me on His right,
With the countless hosts of light?
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

This is that great thing I know;
This delights and stirs me so;
Faith in Him Who died to save,
Him Who triumphed over the grave:
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

~Words: Johann Schwedler & Music: H. A. César Malan; harmony by Lowell Mason

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Everything I Am

“Everything that I am (insofar as I am anything more on this earth than a fugitive figure without hope, all of whose illusions are rendered worthless by death), I am solely by virtue of Christ’s death, which opens up to me the possibility of fulfillment in God. I blossom on the grave of God who died for me.”
~Hans Urs von Balthasar

Friday, October 7, 2016

We should meditate on the mysteries of salvation

“...In the beginning was the Word. The spring was gushing forth, yet still within himself. Indeed, the Word was with God, truly dwelling in inaccessible light. And the Lord said from the beginning: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. Yet your thought was locked within you, and whatever you thought, we did not know; for who knew the mind of the Lord, or who was his counsellor?

And so the idea of peace came down to do the work of peace: The Word was made flesh and even now dwells among us. It is by faith that he dwells in our hearts, in our memory, our intellect and penetrates even into our imagination. What concept could man have of God if he did not first fashion an image of him in his heart? By nature incomprehensible and inaccessible, he was invisible and unthinkable, but now he wished to be understood, to be seen and thought of.

But how, you ask, was this done? He lay in a manger and rested on a virgin’s breast, preached on a mountain, and spent the night in prayer. He hung on a cross, grew pale in death, and roamed free among the dead and ruled over those in hell. He rose again on the third day, and showed the apostles the wounds of the nails, the signs of victory; and finally in their presence he ascended to the sanctuary of heaven.

How can we not contemplate this story in truth, piety and holiness? Whatever of all this I consider, it is God I am considering; in all this he is my God...”
~St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Business of One Who is Sinless

“To judge sins is the business of one who is sinless, but who is sinless except God? Who ever thinks about the multitude of his own sins in his heart never wants to make the sins of others a topic of conversation. To judge a man who has gone astray is a sign of pride, and God resists the proud. On the other hand, one who every hour prepares himself to give answer for his own sins will not quickly lift up his head to examine the mistakes of others.”
~St. Gennadius of Constantinople