Monday, February 29, 2016

Hold Fast To God, The One True Good

Where a man’s heart is, there is his treasure also. God is not accustomed to refusing a good gift to those who ask for one. Since He is good, and especially to those who are faithful to Him, let us hold fast to Him with all our soul, our heart, our strength, and so enjoy His light and see His glory and possess the grace of supernatural joy. Let us reach out with our hearts to possess that good, let us exist in it and live in it, let us hold fast to it, that good which is beyond all we can know or see and is marked by perpetual peace and tranquillity, a peace which is beyond all we can know or understand.

This is the good that permeates creation. In it we all live, on it we all depend. It has nothing above it; it is divine. No one is good but God alone. What is good is therefore divine, what is divine is therefore good. Scripture says: When you open your hand all things will be filled with goodness. It is through God’s goodness that all that is truly good is given us, and in it there is no admixture of evil.

These good things are promised by Scripture to those who are faithful: The good things of the land will be your food.

We have died with Christ. We carry about in our bodies the sign of His death, so that the living Christ may also be revealed in us. The life we live is not now our ordinary life but the life of Christ: a life of sinlessness, of chastity, of simplicity and every other virtue. We have risen with Christ. Let us live in Christ, let us ascend in Christ, so that the serpent may not have the power here below to wound us in the heel.

Let us take refuge from this world. You can do this in spirit, even if you are kept here in the body. You can at the same time be here and present to the Lord. Your soul must hold fast to Him, you must follow after Him in your thoughts, you must tread His ways by faith, not in outward show. You must take refuge in Him. He is your refuge and your strength. David addresses Him in these words: I fled to You for refuge, and I was not disappointed.

Since God is our refuge, God who is in heaven and above the heavens, we must take refuge from this world in that place where there is peace, where there is rest from toil, where we can celebrate the great sabbath, as Moses said: The sabbaths of the land will provide you with food. To rest in the Lord and to see His joy is like a banquet, and full of gladness and tranquility.

Let us take refuge like deer beside the fountain of waters. Let our soul thirst, as David thirsted, for the fountain. What is that fountain? Listen to David: With you is the fountain of life. Let my soul say to this fountain: When shall I come and see You face to face? For the fountain is God Himself.
~St. Ambrose

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Excerpt from The Sacred Year (Part 3 and Final)

“What Father Solomon suggested that day was a season of life marked by intentionality, by dedication to what he called ‘spiritual practices.’ At first I had little idea what he meant. As a Protestant, all that really came to mind when I heard ‘spiritual practice’ was quasi-erratic Bible reading and occasional, desperate prayers. I’d never really fasted before, had never spent more than five minutes in silence if I could help it. Beyond that, the realm of spiritual practice was a vast and uncharted wilderness.

I asked a lot of questions over my additional meetings with Father Solomon that week at the monastery. He patiently answered all of my questions and suggested several ways that I could learn more. Turns out there are more spiritual practices than I had ever imagined. Father Solomon and I discussed confession and pilgrimage and creativity, along with silence, simplicity, service, and even the intentional embrace of our own human finitude and mortality.

‘Just about anything can become a spiritual practice,’ Father Solomon suggested on my last day at the monastery. ‘If you approach it in the right way—with intentionality, humility, receptivity, hope. And of course with an attentive eye on the lookout for the activity of the divine.’

I was surprised by this claim, and Father Solomon chuckled at my raised eyebrows but then told me about another monk who lived a long time ago—named Brother Lawrence—who had extraordinary encounters with God while washing dishes in a monastery in France. And Saint Francis of Assisi, who believed that learning from the animals and birds was an avenue to God that most human beings couldn’t even begin to fathom. And the modern writer Kathleen Norris, who reportedly found God permeating the everyday, quotidian aspects of her life, like cooking meals and hanging laundry.

Though I found all of this exciting and hopeful, a worry was growing inside of me during our conversations, a question that I knew touched on complicated theological ground and which I myself didn’t have any clear thoughts on.

‘But aren’t spiritual practices kind of like trying to work our way to God?’ I blurted out at last, struggling to find the right words. ‘You know, trying to make ourselves holy, or earning our own salvation, that sort of thing? Most days I have a hard enough time just keeping my head above water, and, to be honest, I don’t have the strength to try and make God love me or even like me.’

Father Solomon’s face went grave, and he closed his eyes for several long moments. I wondered if I’d offended him somehow. When at last his response came, they were words of comfort, though the gravity of his tone shook the room like an earthquake, echoing in my soul like a song. ‘That’s not the way this works, Michael,’ he said. ‘You needn’t put that much faith in your own strength, for your strength is a mere atom beside an ocean of God’s unending love. God is the Source. The Origin. The Ground of All Being. The One from whom and through whom and to whom are all things. You can’t ‘make God love you,’ any more than you can make a star or a planet or even a human being. Any more than you can make yourself.’

I didn’t respond but sat there in the silence, listening.

Father Solomon spoke again, and the shaking of my foundations continued. ‘The God who called you into existence ex nihilo—out of nothing—is the same God who holds you in existence this moment and every moment. Were he to withdraw his hand, you would vanish without memory. All things would. No, you can’t make God love you. You can’t make God like you. But nor do you need to; he already does. Never forget that that is why he made you—because he wants you to exist. And not just exist. He wants you to live life in all its fullness.

When Father Solomon at last opened his eyes they were moist with tears, tears that coursed down into the deep wrinkles of his face, irrigating deserts as they went. But somehow these tears weren’t embarrassing; I didn’t look away but instead took in the monk’s weathered old face and hoped—just for a moment—that what he was saying might actually be true. And in that moment, a warmth wrapped itself around me like a Caribbean breeze, so quick and fleeting that I wondered if I’d imagined it, but so evident that it left me breathless.

Father Solomon was talking again. ‘Spiritual practices are a way of mapping your own personal soulscape. Helping you become more acquainted with who you are, who God is, and the people he’s placed you into this life alongside of.

‘It’s rather like sailing,’ he said. I thrilled at the thought of this monk out there on the open ocean, white hair billowing in the wind, drops of sea spray clinging to his whiskers. A veritable Old Man and the Sea.

‘When you’re sailing, you learn to be constantly attentive to the wind—how it is blowing over your sails, what direction it is coming from, how fast it is moving, that sort of thing. Does that make sense?’

I nodded.

‘This attentiveness to the wind becomes the main task—no, that’s not the right word—the main art of sailing. We must both attend to the wind and then respond to whatever it is that the wind is doing. We trim our sails, adjust our course, sometimes we even exchange one sail for another—whatever it takes so as to be in the most receptive place given what the wind is doing. Our attentiveness to the wind allows the wind to move us.’

‘And spiritual practices are like that?’ I asked. ‘Like adjusting our sails and making sure we’re in a receptive place given what God is doing?’

‘Exactly.’ Father Solomon was smiling as he spoke. ‘And—if you’ll indulge me for a moment—this metaphor becomes all the more fascinating given that in Jesus’ time there was only a single word for ‘breath,’ ‘wind,’ and ‘spirit.’ ‘The Spirit of God,’ ‘The Breath of God,’ and ‘The Wind of God’ are all accurate translations of a common New Testament phrase, a phrase that basically means GET READY: God is up to something!

I fell silent, wondering what shape the sail of my soul might be, where it might take me if I allowed my Maker to set the course. Then I remembered something Father Solomon had said during our first meeting. ‘Interesting that you knew a ‘storm’ had brought me here to the monastery.’

‘Very interesting indeed,’ Father Solomon said with a smile. ‘Now the question is: How will you respond to what the Wind is doing in your life?’”

(Part 3 and Final – Excerpt from The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski)

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Excerpt from The Sacred Year (Part 2)

“Part of the package deal offered by the monastery to retreatants was the opportunity to meet daily with a spiritual director. Part Gandalf, part psychoanalyst, part drill sergeant, spiritual directors exist in a class of their own. Perhaps the most unique aspect is that the relationship is largely one-way, and thus free from the mutualities and shared niceties of almost every other category of human interaction.

After a luxurious eleven hours of sleep, I signed myself up to meet with a monk named Father Solomon the next afternoon. At exactly three o’clock I knocked on his office door, and a rotund man of a wrinkled and grandfatherly age pulled open the door with such force that the breeze blew the white hair off his shoulders. He adjusted his glasses, smiled broadly, and welcomed me into the small office, crowded from floor to ceiling with books: philosophy and theology, poetry and literature.

We each settled down into a comfortable blue chair, and Father Solomon asked how I was finding my first day of retreat.

I answered cordially enough, saying something about how much I was appreciating the change of setting and pace of life. Then I tried to return the formalities.

‘So, Father Solomon,’ I said, searching for words, ‘how long have you been here at the monastery?’

Father Solomon didn’t answer me at first, but instead measured me with a kind of gaze from beneath a twin tangle of white eyebrows. ‘Chitchat will not be necessary, no matter how well intentioned. After all, we’re not here to talk about me. You’re under no obligation to pretend.’

Though he wore a gentle smile as he spoke, I could tell he was watching me closely, gauging my every response.

‘Oh, okay,’ I said, shifting in my seat. ‘But I’m just making conversation. That’s what people do, right?’

‘If this were a standard friendship, then yes. I suppose you’d need to conjure up some interest in my life,’ Father Solomon said with shining eyes. ‘But this is no standard friendship. Think of me as an impartial sounding board, one who cares deeply for and about you, but who has no vested interest whatsoever in the course your life takes. I don’t need anything from you. I don’t want anything from you. You’re here for what—a week?’ I nodded. ‘Then that means we have a total of five hours together. Consider these hours a gift. Just receive and be thankful.’

‘Okay,’ I said slowly, trying to find my footing on very unfamiliar but surprisingly supportive ground.

‘Tell me about the storm that has brought you here.’

‘Is it that obvious it was a storm?’ I asked, shocked to learn that I was being so unintentionally transparent.

‘Well, not obvious, per se,’ Father Solomon said with a smile. ‘Sometimes I can just tell.’

So I told him about the storm, about my dissatisfaction with the masquerade of faith I’d encountered not only at the Change Our World conference but also deep in myself, about the externalized ‘show’ of religion I found myself caught up in that was largely devoid of any deep or abiding sense of truth or awe or wonder, of the religion that I’d once believed in but now found ironically and tragically devoid of the divine. I talked about the dislocation of being in a different city every night, of being told how great it was that I was ‘out making a difference in the world,’ and yet how strange and dishonest this felt given my own deep questions and inner turmoil. I even tried to put words to the gnawing hunger I sensed at the center of my life, the hunger that remained no matter how much I ate—a mirage that kept retreating into the distance.

At last I fell silent and waited for the sage to speak, but all I received at first was silence. Father Solomon pressed fingertip to fingertip in front of his face, occasionally stoking the coarse whiskers on his chin. When at last he spoke, it was with extraordinary grace and wisdom, though he aimed straight at the ache in the center of my life.

‘The thrill of a carnival only lasts for so long, doesn’t it?’

I frowned.

‘A carnival is a wonderful place to go every now and then,’ he continued, ‘but a terrible place to live.’

My mind spun for a few moments, trying to understand what he meant. At last my jaw dropped, and I saw in a single, crystallizing moment how perfectly the word carnival brought into focus the life I’d been living: the bright lights, the addictive cotton candy, the chipped-paint facades everyone was trying to maintain—a whole careening show haphazardly supported by a rusted-out interior that was threatening to crack.

Another image came at Father Solomon’s words: a barren-leafed, withering tree. I could see the tree’s roots in my mind, brittle and atrophied, no longer deep enough to support the life above ground. The meaning was clear: This was my life; and if I was to survive, what I needed was a kind of deeper sustenance, an abiding nourishment that would infuse my wearied, withered soul with new vitality, new life.

‘Yes,’ I said at last. ‘Yes. That’s it exactly.’

Father Solomon thought silently for another few moments, chewing on his lower lip. ‘Might I offer you a suggestion?’ he said at last.

‘Of course.’

And that’s when my Sacred Year began.”

To be continued...

(Part 2 – Excerpt from The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Excerpt from The Sacred Year (Part 1)

“It’s hard to say what I was hoping for as I fled east from Vancouver toward the rolling, green farmland of the Fraser Valley. I’d never stayed at the monastery before, but several friends had highly recommended it to me, describing the quieter, more intentional life within the cloister’s walls as a sort of healing balm on all their frenzy. After everything I’d been through in the past few days, I was looking for something—anything, really—by which to buoy and anchor myself amid the turbulence.

I parked my car outside the monastery and went through a sort of curved entryway. A young monk, dressed in a black habit and reminding me of someone I knew but couldn’t place, welcomed me and offered to show me the way to my room.

As we walked the dark corridor, the silence of the place resonated all around us. We walked for quite a while, turning here and there down this hallway and that, passing the occasional black-robed monk who nodded and smiled at us but did not speak as we passed. There were no bright lights, no thudding speakers, no countdown timers, just the heartbeat of a life of work and prayer that was deeper, more substantial than words.

Suddenly I realized who the monk reminded me of. ‘Has anyone ever mentioned that you look like Luke Skywalker?’

The monk laughed and nodded. ‘It’s the habit,’ he said, pulling on the coarse material he wore. ‘You know that George Lucas modeled the Jedi Knights after real monks, don’t you?’

I thought for a moment, rearranging my mental chronology a little. ‘Of course he did,’ I said after a lengthy delay. ‘At least, I think I knew that.’

‘Here’s your room,’ the monk said, stopping beside a door. ‘Dinner will be served in the main dining hall this evening at six o’clock, but be advised that it is a silent meal. Breakfast begins every morning at six thirty, and you’re of course welcome to join us in the main chapel for any of our prayer services. But know that you are not obliged to do anything while you are here. Stay in your room the whole time, if you’d like, and rest. Or join in with the rhythms and life of this place. May I answer any questions?’

I shook my head, thankful to be welcomed as I came—unsure and overwhelmed, disoriented and confused. ‘No, I don’t have any questions at all. I’m just thankful to be here.’

‘Well,’ Luke Skywalker responded, ‘we’re glad that you’re here with us too. We welcome you in the name of Christ.’”

To be continued...

(Part 1 – Excerpt from The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski) 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Proverbs 2:3-5

  
If you cry out for wisdom and raise your voice for understanding, if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
  

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Spiritual Discipline

“Discipline in the spiritual life is the concentrated effort to create the space and time where God can become our master and where we can respond freely to God’s guidance. Thus, discipline is the creation of boundaries that keep time and space open for God—a time and a place where God’s gracious presence can be acknowledged and responded to.”
~Henri Nouwen

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Responsibility

“Many people seem to worry themselves a great deal more over the things they cannot help than over the things that they can... This want of proportion is doubtless observable in myself. Do I think more of the accidents of birth, fortune, and personal appearance than of the self that I have created? For I myself am responsible for myself. ‘To be born a gentleman is an accident; to die one is an achievement.’ Other things, then, I may not be able to help, but myself I can. As I am at this very moment, as my character is—truthful or untruthful, pure or impure, patient or impatient, slow to wrath or quick-tempered, eager, enthusiastic, energetic, or lazy and dull and wasteful of time—I have no one to thank but myself ... the fact remains that I myself alone am responsible for my own character; for character is an artificial thing that is not born, but made.”
~Bede Jarrett

Monday, February 22, 2016

All Crooks

we are all crooks
caught in the hand
of the Chief Shepherd
he uses us as hooks
to bring the strays back

~Anne Lee Tzu Pheng

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Reality

"Sooner or later Time brings the empty phrase and the false conclusion up against what is; the empty imaginary looks reality in the face and the truth at once conquers. In war a nation learns whether it is strong or no, and how it is strong and how weak; it learns it as well in defeat as in victory. In the long processes of human lives, in the succession of generations, the real necessities and nature of a human society destroy any false formula upon which it was attempted to conduct it. Time must always ultimately teach."
~Hilaire Belloc

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Philippians 3:17-4:1

Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers and sisters, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us. For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their “shame.” Their minds are occupied with earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself. 

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Christ, The Model Of Brotherly Love

“The perfection of brotherly love lies in the love of one’s enemies. We can find no greater inspiration for this than grateful remembrance of the wonderful patience of Christ. He who is more fair than all the sons of men offered his fair face to be spat upon by sinful men; he allowed those eyes that rule the universe to be blindfolded by wicked men; he bared his back to the scourges; he submitted that head which strikes terror in principalities and powers to the sharpness of the thorns; he gave himself up to be mocked and reviled, and at the end endured the cross, the nails, the lance, the gall, the vinegar, remaining always gentle, meek and full of peace.

In short, he was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb before the shearers he kept silent, and did not open his mouth.

Who could listen to that wonderful prayer, so full of warmth, of love, of unshakeable serenity—Father, forgive them—and hesitate to embrace his enemies with overflowing love? Father, he says, forgive them. Is any gentleness, any love, lacking in this prayer?

Yet he put into it something more. It was not enough to pray for them: he wanted also to make excuses for them. Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. They are great sinners, yes, but they have little judgment; therefore, Father, forgive them. They are nailing me to the cross, but they do not know who it is that they are nailing to the cross: if they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory; therefore, Father, forgive them...

If someone wishes to love himself he must not allow himself to be corrupted by indulging his sinful nature. If he wishes to resist the promptings of his sinful nature he must enlarge the whole horizon of his love to contemplate the loving gentleness of the humanity of the Lord. Further, if he wishes to savor the joy of brotherly love with greater perfection and delight, he must extend even to his enemies the embrace of true love.

But if he wishes to prevent this fire of divine love from growing cold because of injuries received, let him keep the eyes of his soul always fixed on the serene patience of his beloved Lord and Savior.”
~St. Aelred

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Be Shepherds Like The Lord

“Let us ...be shepherds like the Lord. We must meditate on the Gospel, and as we see in this mirror the example of zeal and loving kindness, we should become thoroughly schooled in these virtues.

For there, obscurely, in the form of a parable, we see a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. When one of them was separated from the flock and lost its way, that shepherd did not remain with the sheep who kept together at pasture. No, he went off to look for the stray. He crossed many valleys and thickets, he climbed great and towering mountains, he spent much time and labor in wandering through solitary places until at last he found his sheep.

When he found it, he did not chastise it; he did not use rough blows to drive it back, but gently placed it on his own shoulders and carried it back to the flock. He took greater joy in this one sheep, lost and found, than in all the others.

Let us look more closely at the hidden meaning of this parable. The sheep is more than a sheep, the shepherd more than a shepherd. They are examples enshrining holy truths. They teach us that we should not look on men as lost or beyond hope; we should not abandon them when they are in danger or be slow to come to their help. When they turn away from the right path and wander, we must lead them back, and rejoice at their return, welcoming them back into the company of those who lead good and holy lives.”
~St. Asterius of Amasea

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Psalm


(Picture found here)
So many cars have driven past me
without a head-on collision.
I started counting them today:
there were a hundred and nine
on the way to the grocery,
a hundred and two on the way back home.
I got my license
when I was seventeen.
I’ve driven across country
at least twelve times;
I even drive
late Saturday nights.
I shall not want.

~Marilyn Nelson
  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Humility

“As fire does not give birth to snow, so those who seek honor here will not enjoy it in heaven ... As those who climb a rotten ladder are in danger, so all honor, glory, and power are opposed to humility.”
~St. John Climacus

Monday, February 15, 2016

Let Us Show Each Other God’s Generosity

“Let us put into practice the supreme and primary law of God. He sends down rain on just and sinful alike, and causes the sun to rise on all without distinction. To all earth’s creatures He has given the broad earth, the springs, the rivers and the forests. He has given the air to the birds, and the waters to those who live in the water. He has given abundantly to all the basic needs of life, not as a private possession, not restricted by law, not divided by boundaries, but as common to all, amply and in rich measure. His gifts are not deficient in any way, because He wanted to give equality of blessing to equality of worth, and to show the abundance of His generosity.”
~St. Gregory of Nazianzen

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Walking Around Shining Like The Sun


(Picture found here)
“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world. . . .

This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . . I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.

Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed. . . . But this cannot be seen, only believed and ‘understood’ by a peculiar gift.”
~Thomas Merton
     

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Thirteenth Century

“There has never been an age in which Christianity attained so complete a cultural expression as in the thirteenth century. Europe has seen no greater Christian hero than St. Francis, no greater Christian philosopher than St. Thomas, no greater Christian poet than Dante, perhaps even no greater Christian ruler than St. Louis. I do not maintain that the general level of religious life was higher than at other times or that the state of the Church was healthier, still less that the scandals were rarer or moral evils less obvious. What one can assert is that in the Middle Ages more than at other periods in the life of our civilization the European culture and the Christian religion were in a state of communion: the highest expressions of medieval culture, whether in art, in literature or in philosophy, were religious, and the greatest representatives of medieval religion were also the leaders of medieval culture. This is not, of course, an inevitable state of things. It may even be argued that the dualism of religion and culture that existed under the Roman Empire, and more or less generally in modern times, is the normal condition of Christianity. Nevertheless, the other alternative, that of a cooperation and collaboration between religion and culture, is undoubtedly a more ideal system, and from this point of view the medieval achievement remains unsurpassed by any other age.”
~Christopher Dawson

Friday, February 12, 2016

“The Least of These”


(Sculpture title:"The Least of These" 1995-Picture used with permission by artist:Elsa Kettinger)
That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.
~Philippians 3:10

“If we only knew the precious treasure hidden in infirmities, we would receive them with the same joy with which we receive the greatest benefits, and we would bear them without ever complaining or showing signs of weariness.”
~St. Vincent de Paul
 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Out of the way...


(Picture found here)
“Dear God, I cannot love you the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon . . . what I am afraid of, dear God, is that my self shadow will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon, and that I will judge myself by the shadow that is nothing. I do not know you God because I am in the way.”
~Flannery O’Connor

Dear God, please re-orient me and remove my self-absorption. May this be a blessed Lenten journey... 
   

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday

“Can any praise be worthy of the Lord's majesty? How magnificent His strength! How inscrutable His wisdom! Man is one of Your creatures, Lord, and his instinct is to praise You. He bears about him the mark of death, the sign of his own sin, to remind him that You thwart the proud. But still, since he is a part of Your creation, he wishes to praise You. The thought of You stirs him so deeply that he cannot be content unless he praises You, because You made us for Yourself and our hearts find no peace until they rest in You.”
~St. Augustine

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Meaning Of Death

“...It is to [the fear of death] that the ‘good news’ of Christianity speaks. I found it especially among the simple people, the good people, for whom the desire or the expectation of an afterlife was not a fantasy or an illusion, as they so often heard it described by Communist propagandists. It was more than a belief; it was something real, something that all the assertions of the learned materialists, the proofs of science, and classroom demonstrations could not shake. Death to them was not an end, but a beginning, a passage into eternal life. They took joy in the fact that they would one day be together with their loved ones again, and sometimes longed to be free of the sorrows of this life and to be at peace at last with God forever.

Salvation, these simple people would say . . . depends ultimately on our belief in God and our abandonment in him. In failure or in success, in health or sickness, in sorrow or joy, man must turn to God, must trust in God, believing in him more each day, loving him more each day, in preparation for a future life with him. There was something beautiful in their simplicity, something that all the theologians and books of theology could not match in their approach to death. That I should find it in the Soviet Union startled me at first. It taught me much. And coupled with my own experience, it made me think, and think deeply, about the meaning of death for a Christian.”
~Walter Ciszek

Monday, February 8, 2016

Intolerance

“It is not just that secularists happen to reject and oppose religion; it's that there is nothing more to their creed than rejecting and opposing religion. . . . The fact is that secularists are 'for' reason and science only to the extent that they don't lead to religious conclusions; they celebrate free choice only insofar as one chooses against traditional or religiously oriented morality; and they are for democracy and toleration only to the extent that these might lead to a less religiously oriented social and political order.”
~Edward Feser

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Praise

“In the very act of giving right praise to God, we achieve an inner harmony.”
~Dietrich von Hildebrand

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Different Hymns for Different Folks

The Dentist's Hymn.............Crown Him With Many Crowns
The Weatherman's Hymn..........There Shall Be Showers of Blessing
The Contractor's Hymn..........The Church's One Foundation
The Tailor's Hymn..............Holy, Holy, Holy
The Golfer's Hymn..............There is A Green Hill Far Away

The Politician's Hymn..........Standing on the Promises
The Optometrist's Hymn.........Open My Eyes That I Might See
The IRS Agent's Hymn...........I Surrender All
The Gossip's Hymn..............Pass It On
The Electrician's Hymn.........Send the Light

The Shopper's Hymn.............Sweet By and By
The Realtor's Hymn.........I've Got A Mansion Just Over the Hilltop
The Pilot's Hymn...............I'll Fly Away
The Paramedic's Hymn...........Revive Us Again
The Judge's Hymn...............Almost Persuaded

The Psychiatrist's Hymn........Just a Little Talk With Jesus
The Architect's Hymn...........How Firm A Foundation
The Credit Card Telemarketer's Hymn.....A Charge To Keep I Have
The Zookeeper's Hymn...........All Creatures of Our God & King
The Postal Worker's Hymn.......So Send I You

The Waiter's Hymn..............Fill My Cup, Lord
The Gardener's Hymn............Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming
The Lifeguard's Hymn...........Rescue the Perishing
The Criminal's Hymn............Search Me, O God
The Baker's Hymn...............When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder

The Shoe Repairer's Hymn.......It Is Well With My Soul
The Travel Agent's Hymn........Anywhere With Jesus
The Geologist's Hymn...........Rock of Ages
The Hematologist's Hymn........Are You Washed in the Blood?
The Mens' Wear Clerk's Hymn....Blest Be the Tie

The Umpire's Hymn..............I Need No Other Argument
The Librarian's Hymn...........Whispering Hope

Now, for those who speed on the highway, a few hymns for you:
45 mph......................God Will Take Care of You
55 mph......................Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
65 mph......................Nearer My God to Thee
75 mph......................Nearer Still Nearer
85 mph......................This World Is Not My Home
95 mph......................Lord, I'm Coming Home
Over 100 mph................Precious Memories

(Found here)

Friday, February 5, 2016

God Intrudes

“Despite our efforts to keep him out, God intrudes. The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: a virgin's womb and an empty tomb. Jesus entered our world through a door marked ‘No Entrance’ and left through a door marked ‘No Exit.’”
~Peter Larson

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Now That The Daylight Fills The Sky


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Now that the daylight fills the sky,
We lift our hearts to God on high,
That He, in all we do or say,
Would keep us free from harm today.

Would guard our hearts and tongues from strife;
From anger’s din would hide our life;
From all ill sights would turn our eyes;
Would close our ears from vanities.

Would keep our inmost conscience pure;
Our souls from folly would secure;
Would bid us check the pride of sense
With due and holy abstinence.

So we, when this new day is gone,
And night in turn is drawing on,
With conscience by the world unstained
Shall praise His name for vict’ry gained.

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

Tune: Herrongate L.M.
Music: English traditional
Text: Iam lucis orto sidere, attributed to St. Ambrose of Milan, 337?-397
Translation: John M. Neale, 1818-1866
    

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

In The Deep Waters


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“For me, the ability to choose rightly is always dependent on prayer. Prayer and sacraments. This gives me the interior sense that I will be guided and helped by Christ, as long as I desire to do God’s Holy Will (even if I am sometimes confused about what that is in practical terms). At a deep level, it is about conformity to Christ, a constant patterning of one’s life on what Jesus teaches us, and shows us, about what it is to be a true man. This conformity will inevitably lead us to tests and troubles. It means we must pass through seasons of impossible barriers and temptations. It means we will suffer at times, even to the point of feeling the ‘dark night of the soul.’ But if we persevere, every temptation and every other kind of difficulty enables us to face the next ones with more confidence and hope. Gradually, over time, in the deep waters of the soul, we come to know that Jesus is with us. Always He is with us, especially when we are carrying a cross and feel nothing but desolation. We will know this, if we do not let ourselves lose heart, if we do not seek false consolations or lies to make the conscience silent. If we keep faithful, then slowly, quietly, Jesus begins to bring forth new life in us, and through us He gives new life for others. This is fruitfulness.

...[This path] is normal Christianity; it is for all of us...”

~Michael O’Brien
     

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple



Hail to the Lord who comes,
Comes to His temple gate;
Not with His angel host,
Not in His kingly state;
No shouts proclaim Him nigh,
No crowds His coming wait.

But, borne upon the throne
Of Mary’s gentle breast,
Watched by her duteous love,
In her fond arms at rest,
Thus to His Father’s house
He comes, the heav’nly Guest.

(Excerpt from Hail To The Lord Who Comes; Words: John Ellerton; Music: Francis Champneys)

Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;
your word has been fulfilled:
my own eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared in the sight of every people:
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.

~Luke 2:27-32
   

Monday, February 1, 2016

2 Peter 1:19-21


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We possess the prophetic message as something altogether reliable. Keep your attention closely fixed on it, as you would on a lamp shining in a dark place until the first streaks of dawn appear and the morning star rises in your hearts. First you must understand this: there is no prophecy contained in Scripture which is a personal interpretation. Prophecy has never been put forward by man’s willing it. It is rather that men impelled by the Holy Spirit have spoken under God’s influence.