Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Staying

There was once a brother in a monastery who had a rather turbulent temperament; he often became angry. So he said to himself, “I will go and live on my own. If I have nothing to do with anyone else, I will live in peace and my passions will be soothed.” Off he went to live in solitude in a cave. One day when he had filled his jug with water, he put it on the ground and it tipped over. So he picked it up and filled it again—and again it tipped over. He filled it a third time, put it down, and over it went again. He was furious: he grabbed the jug and smashed it. And then came to his senses and realized that he had been tricked by the devil. He said, “Since I have been defeated, even in solitude, I’d better go back to the monastery. Conflict is to be met everywhere, but so is patience and so is the help of God.” So he got up and went back where he came from.

“If you find relationships difficult, what will you do about your relationship with yourself, your own body, the cussedness of ordinary things? Sin and struggle are not just about what you do to others. Conflict is to be met everywhere, not least in facing ourselves. So to stay in the cell is most fundamentally to stay in touch with the reality of who I am as a limited creature, as someone who is not in control of everything, whether inner or outer, as an unfinished being in the hands of the maker.”
~Rowan Williams (from Where God Happens: Discovering Christ in One Another)

Monday, May 30, 2016

This Is My Song, O God Of All The Nations

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my sacred shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating,
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
O hear my song, O God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.

This is my prayer, O Lord of all earth's kingdoms:
Thy kingdom come; on earth thy will be done.
Let Christ be lifted up till all shall serve him,
And hearts united learn to live as one.
O hear my prayer, thou God of all the nations;
Myself I give thee, let thy will be done.

Text: vv. 1-2 Lloyd Stone, v.3 Georgia Harkness
Tune: FINLANDIA Jean Sibelius

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Prayer before Holy Communion

“O loving Lord Jesus Christ, I a sinner, presuming not on my own merits, but trusting in Thy mercy and goodness, with fear and trembling approach the table of Thy most sacred banquet. For I have defiled both my heart and body with many sins, and have not kept a strict guard over my mind and my tongue. Wherefore, O gracious God, O awful Majesty, I, a wretched creature, entangled in difficulties, have recourse to Thee, the font of mercy; to Thee do I fly that I may be healed, and take refuge under Thy protection. And I ardently desire to have Him as my Savior, whom I am unable to withstand as my Judge.

To Thee, O Lord, I show my wounds, to Thee I lay bare my shame. I know that my sins are many and great, on account of which I am filled with fear. But I trust in Thy mercy, of which there is no end. Look down upon me, therefore, with the eyes of Thy mercy, O Lord Jesus Christ, eternal King, God and Man, crucified for men. Hearken unto me, for my hope is in Thee; have mercy on me, who am full of misery and sin, Thou who wilt never cease to let flow the fountain of mercy.

Hail, Victim of salvation, offered for me and for all mankind on the tree of the Cross. Hail, noble and precious Blood, flowing from the wounds of my crucified Lord Jesus Christ and washing away the sins of the whole world. Remember, O Lord, Thy creature, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Blood. I am grieved because I have sinned, I desire to make amends for what I have done.

Take away from me, therefore, O most merciful Father, all my iniquities and sins, that, being purified both in soul, and body, I may worthily partake of the Holy of Holies. And grant that this holy oblation of Thy Body and Blood, of which, though unworthy, I purpose to partake, may be to me the remission of my sins, the perfect cleansing of my offenses, the means of driving away all evil thoughts and of renewing all holy desires, the accomplishment of works pleasing to Thee, as well as the strongest defense for soul and body against the snares of my enemies. Amen.”

~St. Ambrose

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Clouds


(Picture found here)
“Life would be pretty monotonous if the sky was always blue.”
~Robin Graham
 

Friday, May 27, 2016

His Love

“Glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on earth, because the grain of wheat has fallen into the earth and has died. Christ has died in order to reign in heaven. Not only that: by His death we live; by His weakness we are strengthened; by His passion we are freed from suffering; [we are] impelled by His love...”
~St. Gregory the Great

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

If you...

“If you become rich, consider whether or not you could worthily bear poverty. If you are happy, imagine how you could worthily meet unhappiness. When people praise you, think how you might worthily bear insult. And, all your life, think how you might worthily meet death.”
~St. Nicholas of Serbia (re-post)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Forgiveness

“‘If you say [to God], ‘Have mercy on me,’ God says to you, ‘If you want me to have mercy on you, do you also have mercy on your brother; if you want me to forgive you, do you also forgive your neighbor’ [Mt. 6:14]’

A basic question about forgiveness was whether one could be forgiven by God for one’s sins. A story is told of a soldier who came to Abba Mius and asked him ‘if God accepted repentance.’ The old man responded to the soldier with great tenderness by putting a question to him in the soldier’s own language: ‘Tell me, my dear, if your cloak is torn, do you throw it away? He replied, ‘No, I mend it and use it again.’ The old man said to him, ‘If you are so careful about your cloak, will not God be equally careful about his creature’ [John 4:10]’

On another occasion, a brother, probably a new convert to Christianity, asked Abba Poemen a very similar question, ‘If a brother is involved in a sin and is converted, will God forgive him’ Poeman responded with a question of his own, ‘Will not God, who has commanded men to act thus, do as much himself and even more? For God commanded Peter to forgive till seventy times seven [Mt. 18:22].’”

Monday, May 23, 2016

Magdalene


(Picture found here)
For days afterwards late Spring took its course.
A north wind came through the window-slats
and plovers returned to walk on water.
In the shorter shadows the city’s groves
filled out with leaves, promised black olives
as clouds wept and bowed over the temple.
We broke bread on the roof. Said fumbling prayers
to keep the hours, returned to usual squares,
gathered each evening in our knit circles.
It was all we could do to live, despite
the wanting the waiting or the altered light
of that once-opened sky, blue as a miracle.
In time we grew acquainted with the weight
of wonder, thought less of the mystery of things,
thought them more believable. Some went back
to Galilee. Others made for other seas,
nets and fresh tackle. I watched them leave,
then stood alone in the tug of wild hyssop
at the city’s sleeve, strong as love or the facts
of being known: brief night, the lightness of stone.

~Theophilus Kwek
  

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Show it with your deeds

Do not say: "I have sinned much, and therefore I am not bold enough to fall down before God." Do not despair. Simply do not increase your sins in despair and, with the help of the All-merciful One, you will not be put to shame. For He said, "he who comes to Me I will not cast out." (John. 6:37) And so, be bold and believe that He is pure and cleanses those who draw near to Him. If you want to accomplish true repentance, show it with your deeds. If you have fallen into pride, show humility; if into drunkenness, show sobriety; if into defilement, show purity of life. For it is said, "Turn away from evil and do good." (I Pet. 3:11)
~St. Gennadius of Constantinople

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Human Law

“Now human law is framed for a number of human beings, the majority of whom are not perfect in virtue. Wherefore human laws do not forbid all vices, from which the virtuous abstain, but only the more grievous vices, from which it is possible for the majority to abstain; and chiefly those that are to the hurt of others, without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained: thus human law prohibits murder, theft and suchlike.”
~St. Thomas Aquinas

Friday, May 20, 2016

Every Time I Feel the Spirit

Upon the mountain my Lord spoke
Out of His mouth came fire and smoke
Looked all around me, it looked so fine
Till I asked my Lord if all was mine.

Every time I feel the Spirit moving in my heart, I will pray
Every time I feel the Spirit moving in my heart, I will pray.

Jordan river, is chilly an' cold
It chills the body but not the soul
There ain't but one train, upon this track
It runs to heaven, an' right back.

Every time I feel the Spirit moving in my heart, I will pray
Every time I feel the Spirit moving in my heart, I will pray.

Down in the valley, when I feel weak
It's when the devil, usually speaks
Because he's crafty, and full of lies
I need the Spirit to keep me wise.

Every time I feel the Spirit moving in my heart, I will pray
Every time I feel the Spirit moving in my heart, I will pray.

~Traditional Spiritual

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Seek

“Seek then the highest wisdom, not by arguments in words but by the perfection of your life, not by speech but by the faith that comes from simplicity of heart, not from the learned speculations of the unrighteous. If you search by means of discussions for the God who cannot be defined in words, He will depart further from you than He was before. If you search for Him by faith, wisdom will stand where wisdom lives, at the gates. Where wisdom is, wisdom will be seen, at least in part. But wisdom is also to some extent truly attained when the invisible God is the object of faith, in a way beyond our understanding, for we must believe in God, invisible as He is, though He is partially seen by a heart that is pure.”
~St. Columban

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Patient Endurance

“Patient endurance kills the despair that kills the soul; it teaches the soul to take comfort and not to grow listless in the face of its many battles and afflictions.”
~St. Peter of Damascus

Monday, May 16, 2016

As He Wills

“...the Holy Spirit, whose nature is always the same, simple and indivisible, apportions grace to each man as He wills. Like a dry tree which puts forth shoots when watered, the soul bears the fruit of holiness when repentance has made it worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit. Although the Spirit never changes, the effects of this action, by the will of God and in the name of Christ, are both many and marvelous.

The Spirit makes one man a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables another to interpret holy Scripture. The Spirit strengthens one man’s self-control, shows another how to help the poor, teaches another to fast and lead a life of asceticism, makes another oblivious to the needs of the body, trains another for martyrdom. His action is different in different people, but the Spirit Himself is always the same. In each person, Scripture says, the Spirit reveals His presence in a particular way for the common good.
~St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Come, Holy Spirit

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from Your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!

Come, Father of the poor!
Come, Source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.

You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;

In our labour, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
 
O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of Yours,
And our inmost being fill!

Where You are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour Your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful, who adore
And confess You, evermore
In Your sevenfold gift descend:

Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them Your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end.

~Traditional Church Prayer

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Something To Show Us

“We are here because God—the One who wants to be completely known—has something to show us . . . We do not always see that we should be moving about our days and lives and places with awe and reverence and wonder, with the same soft steps with which we enter the room of a sleeping child or the mysterious silence of a cathedral. There is no ground that is not holy ground. All of the places of our lives are sanctuaries; some of them just happen to have steeples.”
~Robert Benson

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Gift of the Spirit

“We receive the Spirit of truth so that we can know the things of God. In order to grasp this, consider how useless the faculties of the human body would become if they were denied their exercise. Our eyes cannot fulfill their task without light, either natural or artificial; our ears cannot react without sound vibrations, and in the absence of any odor our nostrils are ignorant of their function. Not that these senses would lose their own nature if they were not used; rather, they demand objects of experience in order to function. It is the same with the human soul. Unless it absorbs the gift of the Spirit through faith, the mind has the ability to know God but lacks the light necessary for that knowledge.

This unique gift which is in Christ is offered in its fullness to everyone. It is everywhere available, but it is given to each man in proportion to his readiness to receive it. Its presence is the fuller, the greater a man’s desire to be worthy of it. This gift will remain with us until the end of the world, and will be our comfort in the time of waiting. By the favors it bestows, it is the pledge of our hope for the future, the light of our minds, and the splendor that irradiates our understanding.”
~St. Hilary

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Smell


(Picture found here)
“Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains; another, a moonlit beach; a third, a family dinner of pot roast and sweet potatoes during a myrtle-mad August in a Midwestern town. Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years. Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once. A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth.”
~Diane Ackerman
 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Truth

“A man’s mind falls ill when he relinquishes his hold on truth—not by lying, though he lie often, for in that case the injury to the spirit can be repaired by contrition and the renewal of good will—but by an inward revolt from truth. True illness of the mind and spirit sets in when a man no longer cherishes truth but despises it, when he uses it as a means to his own ends, when in the depths of his soul truth ceases to be to him the primary, the most important concern.”
~Romano Guardini

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Happiness

“The restoration of man’s inner eyes can hardly be expected in this day and age — unless, first of all, one were willing and determined simply to exclude from one’s realm of life all those inane and contrived but titillating illusions incessantly generated by the entertainment industry.”

“Happiness is essentially a gift; we are not the forgers of our own felicity.”

~Josef Pieper

Monday, May 9, 2016

A Halt


(Picture found here)
Lie still, my soul, the Sun of Grace
Is warm within this garden space
Beneath tall kindly trees.
The quiet light is green and fair;
A fragrance fills the swooning air;
Lie still, and take thine ease.

This silent noon of Jesu's love
Is warm about thee and above --
A tender Lord is He.
Lie still an hour -- this place is His.
He has a thousand pleasaunces,
And each all fair and fragrant is,
And each is all for thee.

Then, Jesu, for a little space
I rest me in this garden place,
All sweet to scent and sight.
Here, from this high-road scarce withdrawn,
I thrust my hot hands in the lawn
Cool yet with dew of far-off dawn
And saturate with light.

But ah, dear Saviour, human-wise,
I yearn to pierce all mysteries,
To catch Thine Hands, and see Thine Eyes
When evening sounds begin.
There, in Thy white Robe, Thou wilt wait
At dusk beside some orchard gate,
And smile to see me come so late,
And, smiling, call me in.

~Robert Hugh Benson
   

Sunday, May 8, 2016

How Can I Keep from Singing?

My life flows on in endless song;
above earth’s lamentation,
I catch the sweet, though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.

Refrain:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
how can I keep from singing?

Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear that music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing? [Refrain]

What though my joys and comforts die?
I know my Savior liveth.
What though the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth. [Refrain]

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
a fountain ever springing!
All things are mine since I am his!
How can I keep from singing? [Refrain]

~Words & Music: Robert Lowry

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Come, Lord Jesus!

I, John, hear a voice saying to me:
   “Behold, I am coming soon.
I bring with me the recompense I will give to each
   according to his deeds.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last,
   the beginning and the end.”

Blessed are they who wash their robes
   so as to have the right to the tree of life
   and enter the city through its gates.

“I, Jesus, sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches.
I am the root and offspring of David,
   the bright morning star.”

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
Let the hearer say, “Come.”
Let the one who thirsts come forward,
   and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water.

The one who gives this testimony says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

~Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20

Friday, May 6, 2016

Adventures

“If our life is ever really as beautiful as a fairy-tale, we shall have to remember that all the beauty of a fairy-tale lies in this: that the prince has a wonder which just stops short of being fear. If he is afraid of the giant, there is an end of him; but also if he is not astonished at the giant, there is an end of the fairy-tale. The whole point depends upon his being at once humble enough to wonder, and haughty enough to defy. So our attitude to the giant of the world must not merely be increasing delicacy or increasing contempt: it must be one particular proportion of the two – which is exactly right. We must have in us enough reverence for all things outside us to make us tread fearfully on the grass. We must also have enough disdain for all things outside us, to make us, on due occasion, spit at the stars. Yet these two things (if we are to be good or happy) must be combined, not in any combination, but in one particular combination. The perfect happiness of men on the earth (if it ever comes) will not be a flat and solid thing, like the satisfaction of animals. It will be an exact and perilous balance; like that of a desperate romance. Man must have just enough faith in himself to have adventures, and just enough doubt of himself to enjoy them.”
~G. K. Chesterton (re-post)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Freedom

“As the prophet says, Ascending on high he led captivity captive; he gave gifts to men.. The undoubted meaning of these words is this: that since the devil led the human race captive, our Lord, by wresting it from him, took it captive himself, and as the prophet tells us, led that very captivity to the heights of heaven. Both captivities do indeed bear the same name, but they differ one from the other. The devil's captivity means enslavement; Christ's, on the contrary, means restoration to freedom.”
~St. Maximus of Turin

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Between the Resurrection and Ascension

“Throughout the whole period between the resurrection and ascension, God’s providence was at work to instill this one lesson into the hearts of the disciples, to set this one truth before their eyes, that our Lord Jesus Christ, who was truly born, truly suffered and truly died, should be recognized as truly risen from the dead. The blessed apostles together with all the others had been intimidated by the catastrophe of the cross, and their faith in the resurrection had been uncertain; but now they were so strengthened by the evident truth that when their Lord ascended into heaven, far from feeling any sadness, they were filled with great joy.”
~St. Leo the Great

Almighty God,
  fill us with a holy joy;
  teach us how to thank You with reverence and love
  on account of the ascension of Christ Your Son.
You have raised us up with Him:
  where He, the head, has preceded us in glory,
  there we, the body, are called in hope.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
  who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
  one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

(From Vespers - Wednesday of the 6th week of Eastertide)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

“Experts”

“Life is too complex for experts to master, the result being that, when they run the world, they end up deciding issues arbitrarily or avoiding them altogether.”
~James Kalb

Monday, May 2, 2016

Job

(Job 28:28)

Yes: wisdom begins with fear of the Lord,
which comprehends the power that made the seas,
the earth, the shimmering dawn, the unexplored
unfathomed skies, the moon, and the Pleiades.
Which also know Who comes to judge our shoddy
little failing lives, knowing full well,
we need not fear the one who kills the body,
but only He who condemns the soul to hell.
Which also knows it magnifies the Lord,
defying the demon, being the only release,
oddly enough, from fear, being its own reward,
which is also wise, is faith, is hope, is peace,
is tender mercy, over and over again,
until, at last, is love, is love. Amen.

~William Baer

Sunday, May 1, 2016

For The Beauty Of The Earth

For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

Chorus: Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower,
sun and moon, and stars of light;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of ear and eye,
for the heart and mind's delight,
for the mystic harmony,
linking sense to sound and sight;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

For thy church, that evermore
lifteth holy hands above,
offering up on every shore
her pure sacrifice of love;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

For thyself, best Gift Divine,
to the world so freely given,
for that great, great love of thine,
peace on earth, and joy in heaven:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

~Text: Folliot Pierpoint & Music: Conrad Kocher; Arr. by W. H. Monk