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