Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Moved in Spirit

“...Perhaps what we modern people need most is to be genuinely shaken, so that where life is grounded, we would feel its stability; and where life is unstable and uncertain, immoral and unprincipled, we would know that, also, and endure it. Perhaps that is the ultimate answer to the question of why God has sent us into this time, why He permits this whirlwind to go over the earth, and why He holds us in such a state of chaos and in hopelessness and in darkness—and why there is no end in sight. It is because we have stood here on the earth with a totally false and inauthentic sense of security. So now, God lets the earth resound, and now He shudders it, and then He shakes it, not to call forth a false anxiety—I will speak of that later. He does it to teach us one thing again: how to be moved in spirit. Much of what is happening today would not be happening if people were in the state of inner movement and restlessness of heart in which man comes into the presence of God the Lord and gains a clear view of things as they really are. Then man would have let go of much that has thrown all our lives into disorder one way or another and has thrashed and smashed our lives. He would have seen the inner appeals, would have seen the boundaries, and could have coordinated the areas of responsibility. Instead, man stood on this earth in a false pathos and a false security, under a deep delusion in which he really believed he could single-handedly fetch stars from heaven; could enkindle eternal lights in the world and avert all danger from himself; that he could banish the night, and intercept and interrupt the internal quaking of the cosmos, and maneuver and manipulate the whole thing into the conditions standing before us now.

That is the first Advent message: before the end, the world will be set quaking. And only where man does not cling inwardly to false security will his eyes be capable of seeing the Ultimate...

...it is time for each individual to use every opportunity to guide life into this order now—and to do it with the same ‘unshakeability’ with which the Lord will come. Where life heeds your word, you must not misrepresent the message. Where life rebels before your very eyes, you must set it right. These days life lacks people who can come through the final shakings—as well as through these present shakings—with the knowledge and the consciousness: those who are watching for the Lord will not be affected, in the eternal sense, even if they are hunted off the face of the earth.”

~Alfred Delp
(From his homily for the First Sunday of Advent – preached in Munich – November 30, 1941 – He was a German priest/philosopher who was imprisoned, tortured, and executed in Berlin by the Nazis in 1945)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Isaiah 40:1-11

Comfort, give comfort to my people,
   says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
   that her service is at an end,
   her guilt is expiated;
Indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD
   double for all her sins.

   A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
   Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
   every mountain and hill shall be made low;
The rugged land shall be made a plain,
   the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
   and all people shall see it together;
   for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

A voice says, “Cry out!”
   I answer, “What shall I cry out?”
“All flesh is grass,
   and all their glory like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower wilts,
   when the breath of the LORD blows upon it.
   So then, the people is the grass.
Though the grass withers and the flower wilts,
   the word of our God stands forever.”

Go up onto a high mountain,
   Zion, herald of glad tidings;
Cry out at the top of your voice,
   Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out
   and say to the cities of Judah:
   Here is your God!
Here comes with power
   the LORD God,
   who rules by his strong arm;
Here is his reward with him,
   his recompense before him.
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
   in his arms he gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in his bosom,
   and leading the ewes with care.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Shepherd


(Picture found here)
On clear cold nights when far stars speckle skies
& woodsmoke goes straight up & disappears
a dozen constellations to my eyes
are dull blurs when I think back through the years
to when the angel spoke to us that night
joined by the brilliant vast angelic choir
which overcame our senses with such light
& planted in each man the same desire
that prodded us till we reached Bethlehem
& led us to an unmarked cattle shed
We stumbled in and startled both of them
those parents by the baby’s manger bed
The townsfolk were astounded by our story
of uncouth shepherds blessed to see God’s glory

~D. S. Martin
  

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Jerusalem, Lift Up Your Voice!

Jerusalem, lift up your voice!
Daughter of Zion, now rejoice!
Your King is come, whose mighty hand
Henceforth shall reign o’er every land.

He comes to every tribe and race,
A messenger of truth and grace:
With peace he comes from heaven above
On earth to found his realm of love.

In God’s eternal covenant,
He comes for our salvation sent.
The star of hope moves on before,
And hosts assemble to adore.

Let all the world with one accord
Now hail the coming of the Lord:
Praise to the Prince of heavenly birth
Who brings God’s peace to all the earth.

Tune: Von Himmel Hoch L.M.
Music: Geistliche Lieder, Leipzig, 1539
Text: Johan O. Wallin, 1814
Translation: Ernst W. Olsen, 1870-1958, alt.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Living the Wondrous Adventure


(Picture found here)
“An adventure is just an inconvenience rightly considered.”
~G. K. Chesterton

“...The way to see these little adventures in the right light is to recognize the great adventure of which they are all but a small part. All of these little details fit in the great adventure of our life like panes of glass in a great baroque window. Coming to know God, to discover the plan that He has laid before our feet, is this great life-long adventure. To learn how God is calling us to Himself puts each of the little events of life in perspective and makes it sparkle with wonder. 

Keeping in sight the wonders of this great adventure, the soul avoids getting lost in this project at work, this business deal, or even this long-awaited vacation. Its eyes fixed on the final prize, the soul finds that every moment becomes more of a delight and every little thing becomes more wondrous, as the pane of emerald glass is even more wondrous when seen in its place in the window.

If we can see each day and each hour and our whole life in expectation of some great adventure, each sunrise trembles with anticipation as each hour ripens with the question ‘what adventure does the Lord have in store for me today?’ In a life lived thus, if we can learn to see life as the adventure of coming to know the Lord and learning to walk in His way, death itself ceases to be a mere inconvenience or welcome rest, but rather the last and greatest adventure for which we prepare our whole life long.”
~Joseph Graziano
 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Shrinking from Christ's Coming

“...We too are looking out for Christ's coming,—we are bid look out,—we are bid pray for it; and yet it is to be a time of judgment. It is to be the deliverance of all Saints from sin and sorrow for ever; yet they, every one of them, must undergo an awful trial. How then can any look forward to it with joy, not knowing (for no one knows) the certainty of his own salvation? And the difficulty is increased when we come to pray for it,—to pray for its coming soon: how can we pray that Christ would come, that the day of judgment would hasten, that His kingdom would come, that His kingdom may be at once,—may come on us this day or tomorrow,—when by so coming He would be shortening the time of our present life, and cut off those precious years given us for conversion, amendment, repentance and sanctification? Is there not an inconsistency in professing to wish our Judge already come, when we do not feel ourselves ready for Him? In what sense can we really and heartily pray that He would cut short the time, when our conscience tells us that, even were our life longest, we should have much to do in a few years?

I do not deny that there is some difficulty in the question, but surely not more so than there is on every side of us in religious matters. Religion has (as it were) its very life in what are paradoxes and contradictions in the eye of reason. It is a seeming inconsistency how we can pray for Christ's coming, yet wish time to ‘work out our salvation,’ and ‘make our calling and election sure.’ It was a seeming contradiction, how good men were to desire His first coming, yet be unable to abide it; how the Apostles feared, yet rejoiced after His resurrection. And so it is a paradox how the Christian should in all things be sorrowful yet always rejoicing, and dying yet living, and having nothing yet possessing all things. Such seeming contradictions arise from the want of depth in our minds to master the whole truth. We have not eyes keen enough to follow out the lines of God's providence and will, which meet at length, though at first sight they seem parallel.”
~John Henry Newman

Thursday, December 7, 2017

A Child of the Snows

There is heard a hymn when the panes are dim,
And never before or again,
When the nights are strong with a darkness long,
And the dark is alive with rain.

Never we know but in sleet and in snow,
The place where the great fires are,
That the midst of the earth is a raging mirth
And the heart of the earth a star.

And at night we win to the ancient inn
Where the child in the frost is furled,
We follow the feet where all souls meet
At the inn at the end of the world.

The gods lie dead where the leaves lie red,
For the flame of the sun is flown,
The gods lie cold where the leaves lie gold,
And a Child comes forth alone.

~G. K. Chesterton

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Levers

“Our interests and affections naturally govern our life and its activities. To succeed in the spiritual life, it is necessary for us to labor to place our affections at the service of our faith. Attachments are our great obstacle. The readiest means to overcome them is, not to turn in on ourselves to combat them directly, for sooner or later we would lose in the struggle, but to turn outward and upward and combat them indirectly by creating counter attachments, in the spiritual order. Progress will necessarily be slow for us as long as our emotions are at variance with the dictates of our faith. To make our course easier, it will be necessary to effect a union between the two. The purely spiritual, because it is such, makes little or no appeal to our sensibility. Something must be sought out between God and our soul, which may serve as a lever to lift us above the earth and bring us as it were into God’s reach. This lever must contain elements that, whilst giving free exercise to our senses, our feelings, and our imagination, still tend to carry us on to God and to bring us into relations with Him.”

The writer then shows how Church Liturgy is one such lever. Here is an excerpt: “The soul that is in sympathy with, and which enters into this liturgical life, gradually assimilates that enthusiastic love of Jesus Christ, with which the Church palpitates. In this pure and spiritual love the soul goes outside of itself, relinquishes itself, and espouses the interests of its Beloved. It makes its own the interests of Jesus Christ and those of His Church, which are identical. These interests are simply one absorbing interest, the salvation of [souls]. . . . The soul that is possessed by it finds therein the great lever by which it is lifted up above that preoccupation about self which is the chief obstacle to progress. In this selflessness it will find that quality of simplicity which Jesus so admired in children, and which He postulated as the condition of entrance into the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is realized for us here on earth, in close and intimate union with God.” . . . “Lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven . . . for where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.”
~Edward Leen

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Excerpt from: The Practice of the Presence of God

“Brother Lawrence told me he had always been governed by love without selfish views. Since he resolved to make the love of God the end of all his actions, he had found reasons to be well satisfied with his method. He was pleased when he could take up a straw from the ground for the love of God, seeking Him only, and nothing else, not even His gifts.

He said he had been long troubled in mind from a certain belief that he should be damned. All the men in the world could not have persuaded him to the contrary. This trouble of mind had lasted four years during which time he had suffered much. Finally he reasoned: I did not engage in a religious life but for the love of God. I have endeavored to act only for Him. Whatever becomes of me, whether I be lost or saved, I will always continue to act purely for the love of God. I shall have this good at least that till death I shall have done all that is in me to love Him. From that time on Brother Lawrence lived his life in perfect liberty and continual joy. He placed his sins between himself and God to tell Him that he did not deserve His favors yet God still continued to bestow them in abundance.

Brother Lawrence said that in order to form a habit of conversing with God continually and referring all we do to Him, we must at first apply to Him with some diligence. Then, after a little care, we would find His love inwardly excite us to it without any difficulty.

He expected after the pleasant days God had given him, he would have his turn of pain and suffering. Yet he was not uneasy about it. Knowing that, since he could do nothing of himself, God would not fail to give him the strength to bear them.

When an occasion of practicing some virtue was offered, he addressed himself to God saying, ‘Lord, I cannot do this unless Thou enablest me.’ And then he received strength more than sufficient. When he had failed in his duty, he only confessed his fault saying to God, ‘I shall never do otherwise, if You leave me to myself. It is You who must hinder my falling and mend what is amiss.’ Then, after this, he gave himself no further uneasiness about it.”
~Joseph de Beaufort & Brother Lawrence

Monday, December 4, 2017

Advent, 1971

       When will he come
and how will he come
and will there be warnings
and will there be thunders
and rumbles of armies
coming before him
and banners and trumpets
When will he come
and how will he come
and will we be ready
       O woe to you people
you sleep through the thunder
you heed not the warnings
the fires and the drownings
the earthquakes and stormings
and ignorant armies
and dark closing on you
the song birds are falling
the sea birds are dying
no fish now are leaping
the children are choking
in air not for breathing
the aged are gasping
with no one to tend them
       a bright star has blazed forth
and no one has seen it
and no one has wakened

~Madeleine L’Engle

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Hark, The Glad Sound!

Hark, the glad sound! The Savior comes,
the Savior promised long!
Let ev'ry heart prepare a throne,
and ev'ry voice a song.

He comes the pris'ners to release,
in Satan’s bondage held;
the gates of brass before Him burst,
the iron fetters yield.

He comes the broken heart to bind,
the bleeding soul to cure,
and with the treasures of His grace
t'enrich the humbled poor.

Our glad Hosannas, Prince of Peace,
Thy welcome shall proclaim;
and heav'n’s eternal arches ring
with Thy beloved Name.

Text: Philip Doddridge; based on Isaiah 61:1-2
Tune: Thomas Haweis; adapt. Samuel Webbe

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Advent Vigil

Almighty God,
give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and put on the armour of light
now in the time of this mortal life
in which your Son Jesus Christ
came to us in great humility;
so that, at the last day,
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty,
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,
world without end. Amen.
(Advent Vigil Liturgy)

Friday, December 1, 2017

Unseen

Air is the main thing. The selvage
of landscape and the glistens of water
are merely the floor, or some kind of hem,
an edge of what we can’t see.
Now and then clouds form a roof,
a soft ceiling. A cap for the gap.

Open space may rant and rave
invisibly. We feel it, so we are obliged
to name it: Wind.

Why equate visibility
with value? (You, solid in your
purple velvet jacket and heels
may attract attention.
But where would you be
without breath?)

So self-effacing, air, except
in dialogue with the visible,
a sigh among leaves,
a moan at the window,
a draft under the door,
a cough in the face.

A suspension of our
disbelief.

~Luci Shaw

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Peace and the Opposite

“Wherever God is — there is peace. And the opposite is self-evident: where there is envy, enmity, impatience, self-love — there is the devil. Wherever the devil is — there, everything is ruinous, proud and hostile.”
~St. Anatoly of Optina

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Collection, Recollection

Can the arrow forget the bow-string
and the bow, their pent-up passion
to let fly, the sudden snap and twang,
the relief of release?

The fledgling, having just
chipped herself free into the nest,
how does she practice
the wide threat of space?

A clear lens, the drop of rain
carries in its orb an image of the sky
from which it fell—a piece of cloud—and
with it a recollection of thunder.

And the predestined satchel
of tomorrow, how can it not be packed
with the finely-orchestrated
chaos of today?

~Luci Shaw

Monday, November 27, 2017

Tradition

“Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father.”
~G. K. Chesterton

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Two Truths

“The Christian religion, then, teaches men these two truths; that there is a God whom men can know, and that there is a corruption in their nature which renders them unworthy of Him. It is equally important to men to know both these points; and it is equally dangerous for man to know God without knowing his own wretchedness, and to know his own wretchedness without knowing the Redeemer who can free him from it. The knowledge of one of these points gives rise either to the pride of philosophers, who have known God, or to the despair of the atheists, who know their own wretchedness, but not the Redeemer…. We cannot know Jesus Christ without knowing at the same time both God and our own wretchedness.”
~Blaise Pascal (Pensées, Section VIII)

Saturday, November 25, 2017

A Grateful Heart

Thou that hast given so much to me
Give one thing more, a grateful heart.
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if thy blessings had spare days:
But such a heart whose pulse may be thy praise.

Thou that hast given so much to me
Give one thing more, a grateful heart.

~George Herbert

Friday, November 24, 2017

A River

"What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn't have any doubt - it is sure to get where it is going, and it doesn't want to go anywhere else."
~Hal Boyle

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Sometimes It’s Easy to Know What I Want

On a road that cuts through the richest, non-irrigated land
in the nation, according to some Lancaster, PA, natives,

a minivan slowed, and a woman with a good haircut yelled,
Do you want a ride, or are you walking because you want to?

I didn’t reply because my life felt so wrecked—
no matter the reason, either you get this or you don’t—

wrecked in the way that makes gestures of tenderness
devastating, like the time I showed up in Minnesota, brittle

with sorrow, and the professor sent to fetch me
asked if I wanted heat in the seat of his sports car

or the local apple he’d brought in case I arrived hungry.
I didn’t know people make seats to hold a body in radiance

like the merciful hand of God. The apple was crisp and cold
and sweet. Maybe I looked in his eyes and shook his hand

in both of mine when I left, I don’t remember. Months later,
he sent an empty seed packet, torn open, lithographed

with a fat, yellow annual no one grows any more, flamboyant
as Depression-era glassware. That was all, thank you.

Thank you, oh thanks so much, I finally told the woman
framed by a minivan window, but yes, I do want to walk.

~Julia Spicher Kasdorf

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Creator Obeys A Carpenter

“The creator of the heavens obeys a carpenter; the God of eternal glory listens to a poor virgin. Has anyone ever witnessed anything comparable to this? Let the philosopher no longer disdain from listening to the common laborer; the wise, to the simple; the educated, to the illiterate; a child of a prince, to a peasant.”
~St. Anthony of Padua

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

El Train Magnificat

Just when I think I’ve entered my rest
the dull glare of the office two blocks behind me,
a woman under the Wells Street tracks
opens her arms and shouts, Lord, I thank you!
Her massive breasts quake in a gray T-shirt;
a sprig of hair trembles in a rubber band.
You made me! I’m here! I’m here!
The metallic rumble of the Green Line
can’t drown her voice. She swings her hips,
clapping to the rhythm. I cross through a line of taxis
to avoid her. Now she is turning in grand circles,
her face lifted toward the tracks.
Thank you, thank you, Lord of mine.
I hum to myself, count sidewalk squares, anything
to escape the eye of her swirl. I quicken my stride
around the corner of Madison, until her voice is nothing
but a drift in the storm of buses and horns.
Yet at night, in the cool hour of unrest,
I feel her words rumbling through me
in a constant loop—I thank you, Lord;
I thank you, Lord— sparks flickering along my bones,
singeing the edges of my silent life.

~Tania Runyan

Monday, November 20, 2017

Gratitude

In his prison letters, Bonhoeffer is thankful
for a hairbrush, for a pipe and tobacco,
for cigarettes and Schelling’s Morals Vol. II.
Thankful for stain remover, laxatives,
collar studs, bottled fruit and cooling salts.
For his Bible and hymns praising what is
fearful, which he sings, pacing in circles
for exercise, to his cell walls where he’s hung
a reproduction of Durer’s Apocalypse.
He’s thankful for letters from his parents
and friends that lead him back home,
and for the pain of memory’s arrival,
his orderly room of books and prints too far
from the nightly sobs of a prisoner
in the next cell whom Bonhoeffer does not know
how to comfort, though he believes religion
begins with a neighbor who is within reach.
He’s thankful for the few hours outside
in the prison yard, and for the half-strangled
laughter between inmates as they sit together
under a chestnut tree.  He’s thankful even
for a small ant hill, and for the ants that are
all purpose and clear decision.  For the two
lime trees that mumble audibly with the workings
of bees in June and especially for the warm
laying on of sun that tells him he’s a man
created of earth and not of air and thoughts.
He’s thankful for minutes when his reading
and writing fill up the emptiness of time,
and for those moments when he sees himself
as a small figure in a vast, unrolling scroll,
though mostly he looks out over the plains
of ignorance inside himself.  And for that,
too, he’s thankful: for the self who asks,
Who am I?—the man who steps cheerfully
from this cell and speaks easily to his jailers,
or the man who is restless and trembling
with anger and despair as cities burn and Jews
are herded into railroad cars—can
without an answer, say finally, I am thine,
to a God who lives each day,
as Bonhoeffer must, in the knowledge
of what has been done, is still being done,
his gift a refusal to leave his suffering, for which,
even as the rope is placed around his neck
and pulled tight, Bonhoeffer is utterly grateful.

~Robert Cording

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Praise

I praise you because
you are artist and scientist
in one. When I am somewhat
fearful of your power,
your ability to work miracles
with a set-square. I hear
you murmuring to yourself
in a notation Beethoven
dreamed of but never achieved.
You run off your scales of
rain water and sea water, play
the chords of the morning
and evening light, sculpture
with shadow, join together leaf
by leaf, when spring
comes, the stanzas of
an immense poem. You speak
all languages and none,
answering our most complex
prayers with the simplicity
of a flower, confronting
us, when we would domesticate you
to our uses, with the rioting
viruses under our lens.

~R. S. Thomas

Saturday, November 18, 2017

O Lord Our God, Who Made The Day

O Lord our God, who made the day
To gladden us with its fair light,
We praise your name, imploring aid,
For day will soon give place to night.

The evening shadows grow apace,
Advancing, they will hide the sun,
As darkness creeps upon the earth
When daylight hours their course have run.

We beg you, Lord and God Most High,
Protect us with your presence blessed,
Though weary, keep our souls in peace
And not by gloom of night oppressed.

Let not the setting sun go down
On hearts distressed with sin, and sore,
But sheltered by your gentle grace,
May we behold the day once more.

To you, O Christ, most kindly King,
And to the Father, glory be,
Praise to the Spirit Paraclete,
In ev’ry age, eternally. Amen.

Tune: CREATOR ALMA SIDERUM – L.M.
Text: Deus, qui claro humine, Anonymous from the seventh or eighth century
Translation: the Benedictines of Saint Cecilia’s Abbey

Friday, November 17, 2017

How did they not more quickly find its Lord?

All men were by nature foolish who were in ignorance of God,
   and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing him who is,
   and from studying the works did not discern the artisan;
But either fire, or wind, or the swift air,
   or the circuit of the stars, or the mighty water,
   or the luminaries of heaven, the governors of the world, they considered gods.
Now if out of joy in their beauty they thought them gods,
   let them know how far more excellent is the Lord than these;
   for the original source of beauty fashioned them.
Or if they were struck by their might and energy,
   let them from these things realize how much more powerful is he who made them.
For from the greatness and the beauty of created things
   their original author, by analogy, is seen.
But yet, for these the blame is less;
For they indeed have gone astray perhaps,
   though they seek God and wish to find him.
For they search busily among his works,
   but are distracted by what they see, because the things seen are fair.
But again, not even these are pardonable.
For if they so far succeeded in knowledge
   that they could speculate about the world,
   how did they not more quickly find its Lord?
~Wisdom 13:1-9

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Adversity

“This, in short, is the difference between us and others who know not God, that in misfortune they complain and murmur, while the adversity does not call us away from the truth of virtue and faith, but strengthens us by its suffering.”
~St. Cyprian

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Books

“I would like to know what actually goes on in a book as long as it’s closed.
. . . One has to read it to experience it, that’s clear. But it’s already there beforehand. I would like to know, how?”
~Michael Ende

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Jesus Was A Healer

Jesus was a healer
never turned a patient down

never charged coin or conversion
started off with dust and spittle

then re-tuned lives to pattern
simply by his attention

often surprised himself a little
by his unbounded ability

Jesus was a healer
reattached his captor’s ear

opened senses, unjammed cripples
sent pigs to drown delirium

cured a shy tug at his hem
learned to transmit resurrection

could have stood more Thank You
for God’s sake, which was his own

Jesus was a healer
keep this quiet, he would mutter

to his learners. Copy me
and they did to a degree

still depicted on church walls
cure without treatment or rehearsals.

~Les Murray

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sacred History

“The mystery of Christ is at work in all human events, and our comprehension of secular events works itself out and expresses itself in that sacred history, the history of salvation, which the Holy Spirit teaches us to perceive in events that appear to be purely secular.”
~Thomas Merton

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Jesu, My Lord, My God, My All

Jesu, my Lord, my God, my all,
hear me, blest Saviour, when I call;
hear me, and from thy dwelling-place
pour down the riches of thy grace:

Refrain:
Jesu, my Lord, I thee adore,
O make me love thee more and more.

Jesu, too late I thee have sought,
how can I love thee as I ought?
And how extol thy matchless fame,
the glorious beauty of thy name? [Refrain]

Jesu, what didst thou find in me,
that thou hast dealt so lovingly?
How great the joy that thou hast brought,
so far exceeding hope or thought! [Refrain]

Jesu, of thee shall be my song,
to thee my heart and soul belong;
all that I am or have is thine,
and thou, sweet Saviour, thou art mine. [Refrain]

Author: Henry Collins (1854)
Tune: ST. CHRYSOSTOM (Barnby)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Windy Autumn


(Picture by Remo Savisaar - found here)
 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Increase our Faith

“The intellect in its contemplation of the mysteries of divine life of the Blessed Trinity in Heaven or of the Incarnate Son of God on earth, even when elevated by the gift of faith, is prone to vitiate its considerations by the introduction into them of reasonings, judgments and appreciations, which are the fruit of its human spirit. In this sense faith must undergo a purification and its operations must have these corrupting elements eliminated from them if man is to know God as a friend knows his friend. The whole process of sanctity ... depends on this progressive elimination of the purely human elements from the operations of the virtue of Faith. In the case of Christians who take but little interest in the supernatural life, the faith contains a large alloy of the natural. They see God it is true, but they see Him badly. Their spiritual vision is defective. They suffer from a supernatural myopia. They resemble persons who, because of their defective eyesight, cannot see objects clearly in distinct outline and in all their detail—but only dimly, obscurely and in a confused and uncertain manner. As their misunderstanding of God depends on their spiritual sight of Him, they know Him very imperfectly and easily hold false notions concerning Him. That is the reason why so many who are said ‘to have the faith’ are so frequently without virtue. Their faith is very superficial; it takes but the feeblest share in the soul’s activity, which is dominated by human impulse, passions, and affections. In such souls the knowledge of God is darkened and dragged down to earth by the human considerations and views that mingle with and tarnish the purity of the knowledge of faith. As long as these conditions prevail, the soul’s activity will be largely human, unsupernatural and, to a great extent, uninfluenced by grace and withdrawn from the direction of the Holy Ghost. It is lamentable that so many baptized souls are thus neglectful of the gift of Faith which they possess and allow to remain latent—almost atrophied—for want of exercise. The claims of the visible world clamor powerfully in a too successful rivalry with the claims of ‘things unseen’; and yet, we know that the hidden world of the supernatural life is the world of Reality; and each baptized soul bears responsibility for the development of that supernatural life within. The Divine Virtue of Faith is exercised in prayer. Thus it is that prayer is an ideal means of developing faith and an ideal preparation of the soul for the reception, and increase, of that Divine gift.

‘And the Apostles said to the Lord: Increase our Faith.’ Our prayer of petition will be very perfect when it attains their earnestness and is directed towards the same thing for which they prayed with such longing and such childlike simplicity, namely, an increase of Faith. Such a prayer of petition is eminently pleasing to the Savior...”
~Edward Leen

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Faith

“Faith—what does it mean? You don’t see Christ or even feel him very much, but you carry on anyway, you still go forward. Is that faith? Or you notice that something is terribly wrong with the world and with your own life. But you go on anyway, even though something is wrong. Is that faith? I like the clear and objective definition of faith from my theological training, which takes St. Paul’s expression ‘the obedience of faith’ (Rom. 16:26) and explains it then as a submission of the intellect and will to God who reveals himself. This is an elegant proposal if given half a chance. It proposes a risk in unpopular words, especially in the word submission. Yet it remains my choice to submit or not, and it is a choice to conform my mind and heart to something bigger. That’s not a bad risk, not a stupid one. But how do I know what it is that God is revealing? Well, I find it in the witnesses, those who tell the story; and I put my trust in this. I put my trust in what the Bible tells. I try it out to see if it fits the world I experience. The content of the revelation is amazing. It is too good, and I am too small. I cannot come up to it. So, in the end my faith is the uttering of a question that is also the invocation of a name. Under my mood—God? Beneath my heart—God? After the reach of my eyes—God? Before or after the stars—God?”
~Jeremy Driscoll

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

On Earth As It Is In Heaven

Your kingdom come
Your will be done on earth
As it is in heaven. (Mt. 6:10)

“Two things are immediately clear from the words of this petition: God has a will with and for us and it must become the measure of our willing and being; and the essence of ‘heaven’ is that it is where God’s will is unnervingly done.

Or, to put it in somewhat different terms, where God’s will is done is heaven. The essence of heaven is oneness with God’s will, the oneness of will and truth.

Earth becomes ‘heaven’ when and insofar as God’s will is done there; and it is merely ‘earth’, the opposite of heaven, when and insofar as it withdraws from the will of God. This is why we pray that it may be done on earth as it is in heaven-that earth may become ‘heaven’.”
~Benedict XVI

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A Capacity For The Unlimited

“...In the beginning our vision of the supernatural is almost totally, though not quite, obscured by the presence of the natural. Our soul is enveloped in a mist. The process of self-renouncement is the gradual removal of this curtain of darkness, and as this process proceeds our intuition of the things of God becomes clearer. These are revealed to us in the humanity of Jesus Christ. True self-revelation has always as it counterpart a growth in knowledge of God. For it is only in the light of God that we see ourselves for what we are. ... Accordingly as the soul ceases to be ‘self-regarding’ in its activities, it becomes ‘God-regarding.’ As the soul is being emptied of what is material, transient and perishable, it is being filled with what is spiritual, enduring and incorruptible. The soul in itself is, as it were, a void—but an infinite one. It is a capacity for the unlimited. Its characteristic actuality is a yearning and a longing for satisfaction that nothing finite can gratify. Having no resources of its own on which to draw, it cannot find in itself what will supply its native nothingness. It is, therefore, obliged to reach out, to seize something external to itself, in order to satisfy its needs. It is an infinite potentiality.
...The capacity of the soul cannot be filled up except by what can be received into it; and, by sensible satisfaction, we can reach only the surface of any created thing.
...Nothing can fill up the infinite capacity in the human soul except what can physically enter into it and take possession of it—and this privilege belongs to the Creator alone, and to that participation of His life which is given in grace and in glory.
...‘But he that shall drink of the water that I will give him,’ says Our Lord, ‘shall not thirst for ever.’ It is true that the soul shall always feel a longing to enter more and more into the possession of God—or rather to be more and more possessed by God—and this longing is a kind of thirst. But still it is thirst that is being ever satisfied, and as such, is a pleasure rather than a pain.”
~Edward Leen

Monday, November 6, 2017

from On The Anvil – LVII

Adam in Eden, You in a garden;
He in all honour, You in your agony;
He sleeps and his company ill-watches;
You pray wide awake as yours slumbers.

His act was the first of disharmonies;
You composed our primordial day;
You drink the cup your Father sends;
He eats defiance and lives as dead.

The sweat of his brow is his sustenance;
That of yours is our glory:
The guilt was his, the affront yours.

He bequeathed horror; You leave us a memory;
His, a blind deceit; yours, a prime bargain.
How different the story you leave us!

~Francisco de Quevedo (Translated by Michael Smith)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

O Christ Our King, Supreme In Power

O Christ our King, supreme in power,
The Father’s glory and delight,
Our fallen nature you restored,
By dying you defeated death.

You bore our sorrows and our griefs,
And sought a sterner conflict yet,
By death you crushed the serpent’s head
Who conquered us and caused our death.

In triumph risen from the tomb
You bring your people back to life
Through your great Paschal mystery,
We who were dead and lost by sin.

Increase in us the life of grace
That when as Bridegroom you return,
With lamps well trimmed we be prepared
To follow you at once with joy.

Receive us as a judge serene
Into the realms of peace and light,
Whom faith and love have bound to you,
Adoring your great Trinity.

Your servants who have left this world
With soul from body now set free,
Call swiftly to our Father’s home
To praise you for eternity. Amen.

Tune: CREATOR ALMA SIDERUM – L. M.
Text: Spes, Immensae Rex potentiae
Translation: the Benedictines of Saint Cecilia’s Abbey

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Real Literature

“Real literature is something much better than a harmless instrument for getting through idle hours. The purpose of great literature is to help us to develop into full human beings.”
~Russell Kirk

Friday, November 3, 2017

Bright Sadness


(found here)
“Eastern Orthodoxy has, almost from the beginning, had the clearest aesthetic of all of Christianity about religious art, whether the art be in stone or paint or music or words. The Orthodox Church teaches its artist/believers that holy art must always be informed by and saturated with a certain and ‘bright sadness.’ Divine art must always be pervaded by a sweet mixture—deep, compassionate sorrow for the sin and sorrows of this present life commingled with a luminous joy over the promised salvation and relief, which are promised by the one who can never promise in vain.”
~Phyllis Tickle
 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Human Condition

“The loss of the religious understanding of the human condition—that Man is a fallen creature for whom virtue is necessary but never fully attainable—is a loss, not a gain, in true sophistication. The secular substitute—the belief in the perfection of life on earth by the endless extension of a choice of pleasures—is not merely callow by comparison but much less realistic in its understanding of human nature.”
~Theodore Dalrymple

“Our body has this defect that, the more it is provided care and comforts, the more needs and desires it finds.”
~St. Teresa of Avila

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

How to Fly

Commenting on Christ’s words “My yoke is easy and my burden light,” St. Augustine said:
“Any other burden oppresses and crushes you, but Christ’s actually takes weight off you. Any other burden weighs you down, but Christ’s gives you wings.

If you take a bird’s wings away, you might seem to be taking weight off it. But the more weight you take off, the more you tie it down to the earth. There it is on the ground, and you wanted to relieve it of a weight.

Give it back the weight of its wings and you will see how it flies.”

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

J. B. Phillips and the ghost of Lewis

“...C. S. Lewis had some fascinating thoughts on this, and he himself appeared in one of the most celebrated and redemptive recorded ghost sightings ever: Moments after his death at Cambridge, he appeared in the bedroom of J. B. Phillips at Oxford [a dear friend of his, the one who translated the Bible in the Phillips translation...].

At the time, J. B. Phillips was in a deep depression that threatened his life. He refused to leave his chambers, refused proper food or exercise, and seriously questioned the love and election of God [in his life]. It was in this state of detachment and depression, leading to his early death…that suddenly, a ruddy and glowing Lewis stood before him, entering his room through closed doors -- a ‘healthy Lewis, hearty and glowing’ as Phillips was later to record.

In this vision, Lewis only spoke only one sentence to Phillips: ‘J.B., it’s not as hard as you think.’ One solitary sentence, the meaning of which is debated! But what is not debated is the effect of that sentence. It snapped Phillips out of his depression, and set him again following God. After Lewis spoke that cryptic sentence, he disappeared.

Phillips came out of his chambers only to find that Lewis had died moments before the appearance, miles away. He pondered this in his heart, with wonder, and never returned to his depression. Now, was this a case of God giving a detour of a soul on the way to heaven to a special friend, to save him? Who knows? But again, it is recorded evidence of the highest order, by persons of the highest order: Lewis and Phillips. It is a ghost story, a benevolent one, to all appearances – actually, not only benevolent, but redemptive...

Again, we must allow for the freedom of God. This is His world, after all. He set up the physical and moral laws, and yet rules over these sovereignly, in love. What is needed for His children, He spares no expense.”
~Loy Mershimer

Monday, October 30, 2017

Imagination, Beauty, Glory

“Christian church has often been bad at encouraging imagination. People have been worried, Christian teachers have been worried, about letting people imagine things, in case their imagination runs riot and they start imagining the wrong things, and so we’ve squelched it and squashed it and we’ve built buildings that are inherently ugly, lest anyone think that the buildings are somehow divine. And we’ve done all kinds of things, even in our worship, to prevent the glory getting out.”
~N. T. Wright

“Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do…Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion…To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain…The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”
~G. K. Chesterton

“Theology, therefore, must be concerned much less with showing man that Christ offers him what he wants and much more concerned with showing man that he cannot help but worship the splendor of what he sees.”
~Jeffrey Kay

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Romans 6:19-23

19 I am speaking in the language of common life, because nature is still strong in you. Just as you once made over your natural powers as slaves to impurity and wickedness, till all was wickedness, you must now make over your natural powers as slaves to right-doing, till all is sanctified.
20 At the time when you were the slaves of sin, right-doing had no claim upon you.
21 And what harvest were you then reaping, from acts which now make you blush? Their reward is death.
22 Now that you are free from the claims of sin, and have become God’s slaves instead, you have a harvest in your sanctification, and your reward is eternal life.
23 Sin offers death, for wages; God offers us eternal life as a free gift, through Christ Jesus our Lord. (KNOX)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Art of Disappearing


(Picture found here)
When they say Don’t I know you?
say no.

When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering.
Someone is telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.

If they say We should get together
say why?

It’s not that you don’t love them anymore.
You’re trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven’t seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don’t start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.

~Naomi Shihab Nye
 

Friday, October 27, 2017

A Mind and Will to Understand

The Pharisees study the scriptures whose fulfillment is right before their eyes, but they cannot see in him the messiah. They “are those who in God’s presence still cling to their earthly point of view, their earthly knowledge, earthly conception of justice, naively attempting to measure even the divine by their own standards. When the Son of God himself stands before them, they see only a rebel and proceed against all who believe in him with the heavy indignation of the righteous. And when the long awaited Christ performs his miracles before their eyes, they either refuse to see them or brand them works of Satan! Because they do not wish to see, demonstrations of God’s power and love only seem to make them incapable of seeing. They become increasingly short-sighted and ultimately blind.”
~Romano Guardini

Come, Holy Spirit, Divine Creator,
true source of light and fountain of wisdom!
Pour forth your brilliance upon my dense intellect,
dissipate the darkness which covers me,
that of sin and of ignorance.
Grant me a penetrating mind to understand,
a retentive memory,
method and ease in learning,
the lucidity to comprehend,
and abundant grace in expressing myself.
Guide the beginning of my work,
direct its progress,
and bring it to successful completion.
This I ask through Jesus Christ,
true God and true man,
living and reigning with You
and the Father, forever and ever. Amen.
~St. Thomas Aquinas

Thursday, October 26, 2017

from Diary of an Old Soul

Thy great deliverance is a greater thing
Than purest imagination can foregrasp;
A thing beyond all conscious hungering,
Beyond all hope that makes the poet sing.
It takes the clinging world, undoes its clasp,
Floats it afar upon a mighty sea,
And leaves us quiet with love and liberty and thee.
~George MacDonald

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Pride

“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.”
~St. Augustine

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What I Want

The copper lake, blue-green,
where the cinnamon bear lopes up the scree
stopping once to look back before its final bound
into the trees. I want the trees and what they say
back to wind, to rain and thunder. I want thunder
and lightning’s crooked light. And I want the morning,
sloe-eyed, and night stuffed back inside its purse.
I want the boat, the storm and the man in the stern
who calms it; the water before it turns to wine.
I want the late-day light, the way it streams
across the bridge suspended over the narrows
and the look of the sun-struck woman crossing over.
I want her brown eyes looking into her lover’s blue.
I want to say to Galway Kinnell what is is not enough
when what is is war or famine, the bruised child
or the wife in pajamas, after breakfast, who tells
her husband of more than twenty years:
his love
             is not
                           enough.

~Richard Osler

Monday, October 23, 2017

Selections from Romans & Luke

Brothers and sisters:
Abraham did not doubt God’s promise in unbelief;
   rather, he was empowered by faith and gave glory to God
   and was fully convinced that what God had promised
   he was also able to do.
That is why it was credited to him as righteousness.
But it was not for him alone that it was written
   that it was credited to him;
   it was also for us, to whom it will be credited,
   who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,
   who was handed over for our transgressions
   and was raised for our justification.
~Romans 4:20-25


Someone in the crowd said to Jesus,
   “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”
He replied to him,
   “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”
Then he said to the crowd,
   “Take care to guard against all greed,
   for though one may be rich,
   one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

Then he told them a parable.
“There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.
He asked himself, ‘What shall I do,
   for I do not have space to store my harvest?’
And he said, ‘This is what I shall do:
   I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.
There I shall store all my grain and other goods
   and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you,
   you have so many good things stored up for many years,
   rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’
But God said to him,
   ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;
   and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself
   but is not rich in what matters to God.”
~Luke 12:13-21

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Ezekiel 36:24-28

24 I mean to set you free from the power of the Gentiles, bring you home again from every part of the earth.
25 And then I will pour cleansing streams over you, to purge you from every stain you bear, purge you from the taint of your idolatry.
26 I will give you a new heart, and breathe a new spirit into you; I will take away from your breasts those hearts that are hard as stone, and give you human hearts instead.
27 I will make my spirit penetrate you, so that you will follow in the path of my law, remember and carry out my decrees.
28 So shall you make your home in the land I promised to your fathers; you shall be my people, and I will be your God. (KNOX)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Psalm 126(125) In convertendo

(A song of ascents.)
1 When the Lord gave back Sion her banished sons, we walked like men in a dream;
2 in every mouth was laughter, joy was on every tongue. Among the heathen themselves it was said, What favour the Lord has shewn them!
3 Favour indeed the Lord has shewn us, and our hearts are rejoiced.
4 Deliver us, Lord, from our bondage; our withered hopes, Lord, like some desert water-course renew!
5 The men who are sowing in tears will reap, one day, with joy.
6 Mournful enough they go, but with seed to scatter; trust me, they will come back rejoicing, as they carry their sheaves with them. (KNOX)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Alone With None But Thee, My God,

Alone with none but thee, my God,
I journey on my way.
What need I fear, when thou art near,
O King of night and day?
More safe am I within thy hand,
Than if a host did round me stand.

My destined time is fixed by thee,
And death doth know his hour.
Did warriors strong around me throng,
They could not stay his power;
No walls of stone can man defend
When thou thy messenger dost send.

My life I yield to thy decree,
And bow to thy control
In peaceful calm, for from thine arm
No power can wrest my soul.
Could earthly omens e’er appal
A man that heeds the heavenly call!

The child of God can fear no ill,
His chosen dread no foe;
We leave our fate with thee, and wait
Thy bidding when to go.
‘Tis not from chance our comfort springs,
Thou art our trust, O King of kings.

~Saint Columba & Tune: SOWBY

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Island of the World



One of my very favorite works of fiction is The Island of the World by Michael O’Brien. You’ll see I have used quotes/excerpts from it and other quotes from the author quite a few times on this blog (see title of the book and author’s name under Labels). The following is from an interview with the author back in 2007 around the time it was first released. I highly recommend this book! – Kevin

Question: Tell us about your new novel, The Island of the World, to give readers a sense of it.

O'Brien: The Island of the World is the story of a child born in 1933 into the turbulent world of the Balkans and tracing his life into the third millennium. The central character is Josip Lasta, the son of an impoverished school teacher in a remote village high in the mountains of the Bosnian interior. As the novel begins, World War II is underway and the entire region of Yugoslavia is torn by conflicting factions: German and Italian occupying armies, and the rebel forces that resist them—the fascist Ustashe, Serb nationalist Chetniks, and Communist Partisans. As events gather momentum, hell breaks loose, and the young and the innocent are caught in the path of great evils. Their only remaining strength is their religious faith and their families.

Q: Is this primarily a historical novel, or perhaps a political one?

O'Brien: No, it is neither, though of course history and politics play important roles in the story. Its primary focus is on persons, dramatized through the life of a person, a soul. However, the history that is part of the plot recounts accurately what happened, and as such the book may be somewhat controversial. For more than a century, the confused and highly inflammatory history of former-Yugoslavia has been the subject of numerous books, many of them rife with revisionist history and propaganda. The peoples of the Balkans live on the border of three worlds: the Islamic, the Orthodox Slavic East, and Catholic Europe, and as such they stand in the path of major world conflicts that are not only geo-political but fundamentally spiritual. This novel cuts to the core question: how does a person retain his identity, indeed his humanity, in any absolutely dehumanizing situation?

Q: How does he retain his humanity?

O'Brien: In the life of the central character, I try to show that this will demand suffering and sacrifice, heroism and even holiness. When he is twelve years old, his entire world is destroyed, and so begins a lifelong journey to find again the faith which the blows of evil have shattered. The plot takes the reader through Josip's youth, his young manhood, life under the Communist regime, imprisonment, hope and loss and unexpected blessings, the growth of his creative powers as a poet, and the ultimate test of his life. This novel is about the crucifixion of a soul — and resurrection.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Nature of Prayer


(The Church at Auvers by Vincent Van Gogh - found here)

                 (a debt to Van Gogh’s “Crooked Church”)

Maybe a mad fit made you set it there
Askew, bent to the wind, the blue-print gone
Awry, or did it? Isn’t every prayer
We say oblique, unsure, seldom a simple one,
Shaken as your stone tightening in the air?

Decorum smiles a little. Columns, domes
Are sights, are aspirations. We can’t dwell
For long among such loftiness. Our homes
Of prayer are shaky and, yes, parts of Hell
Fragment the depths from which the great cry comes.

~Elizabeth Jennings
  

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

From: Leave It to Beaver

“Hey Wally, what’s this? I found it in the bushes.”

“It’s whiskey.”

“Smells awful.”

“All whiskey smells awful.”

“Then why do people drink it?”

“Well, it’s like when grownups have a party. They drink it to have a good time.”

“Gee, if it’s a party, don’t they have a good time anyway?”

“Well, grownups have a harder time having a good time than kids do.”
  

Monday, October 16, 2017

Between The Lines

“Of course, God cannot be just another of the things of this world, to be noticed also alongside all the rest. God’s very being requires more than that, not more in the sense of quantity but in the sense of quality. And so, if God is here at all—and God must be because all the rest is—then it would have to be in the quality of something like ‘between the lines’ of things and persons, of something like the desire that others awaken in us but never satisfy, of something like a hidden radiance that we are longing to see, whose presence we sometimes suspect, but never see.

So then, this is a fine mess: a concrete, marvelous, beautiful world of things and people, and yet no ultimate satisfaction in it, only an increasingly restless heart. I am longing for the divine glory hidden in everything to burst forth and present itself to our vision. How much longer must we wait for this? ... All this must be what inspired that poor and simple prayer, ‘Come, Lord, delay your coming no longer.’”
~Jeremy Driscoll

Psalm 8 Domine, Dominus noster

1 (To the choir-master. To the mood of the song, The Wine-presses. A psalm. Of David.)
2 O Lord, our Master, how the majesty of thy name fills all the earth! Thy greatness is high above heaven itself.
3 Thou hast made the lips of children, of infants at the breast, vocal with praise, to confound thy enemies; to silence malicious and revengeful tongues.
4 I look up at those heavens of thine, the work of thy hands, at the moon and the stars, which thou hast set in their places;
5 what is man that thou shouldst remember him? What is Adam’s breed, that it should claim thy care?
6 Thou hast placed him only a little below the angels, crowning him with glory and honour,
7 and bidding him rule over the works of thy hands.
8 Thou hast put them all under his dominion, the sheep and the cattle, and the wild beasts besides;
9 the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, that travel by the sea’s paths.
10 O Lord, our Master, how the majesty of thy name fills all the earth! (KNOX)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Be Still, For the Spirit of the Lord

Be still for the presence of the Lord
The Holy One is here
Come bow before Him now
With reverence and fear
In Him no sin is found
We stand on holy ground
Be still for the presence of the Lord
The Holy One is here

Be still for the glory of the Lord
Is shining all around
He burns with holy fire
With splendor He is crowned
How awesome is the sight
Our radiant King of light
Be still for the glory of the Lord
Is shining all around

Be still for the power of the Lord
Is moving in this place
He comes to cleanse and heal
To minister His grace
No work too hard for Him
In faith receive from Him
Be still for the power of the Lord
Is moving in this place

~Author: David Evans & Tune: BE STILL

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Glorious Monument

“He, the Life of all, our Lord and Saviour, did not arrange the manner of his own death lest He should seem to be afraid of some other kind. No. He accepted and bore upon the cross a death inflicted by others, and those other His special enemies, a death which to them was supremely terrible and by no means to be faced; and He did this in order that, by destroying even this death, He might Himself be believed to be the Life, and the power of death be recognised as finally annulled. A marvellous and mighty paradox has thus occurred, for the death which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonour and disgrace has become the glorious monument to death’s defeat.”
~St. Athanasius

Friday, October 13, 2017

Rescuing Our Maidens from the Culture of Death

“In The Hobbit, Thorin Oakenshield gives Bilbo Baggins a beginner’s lesson on the nature of dragons, a sort of dragons for dummies, telling the unschooled hobbit that dragons ‘carry away people, especially maidens, to eat.’

Dragons have a preference for the virgin flesh of maidens because they are not merely hungry but wicked. They desire the defilement of the pure and undefiled, the destruction of the virgin. Their devouring is a deflowering. Parallels with human ‘dragons’ in our own world are not difficult to discern. The war against the dragon is not, therefore, a war against a physical monster, like a dinosaur, but a battle against the wickedness we see around us in our everyday lives. We all face our daily dragons and we must all defend ourselves from them and hopefully slay them, which is only possible with the assistance of God’s grace which serves as a sort of St. George in the heart of man. The sobering reality is that we must either fight the dragons that we encounter in life or become dragons ourselves. There is no middle-path. No neutrality in this fight to the death is possible. We either fight the dragon or we become the dragon.

An additional problem is that we live in a dragon-culture, a culture of death, which pours scorn on the very concept of virtue and which has banned the very concept of ‘sin’ from its vocabulary. Purity is equated with puritanism and is shunned. Chastity is ridiculed. And true marriage, in which the sexual union is united with the self-sacrificial desire for children, is being ripped apart. To make matters worse, Pride, the wickedest of sins, which rules the heart of every dragon, is now unfurled as an infernal banner and held aloft as a sign of the dragon’s war on Christian humility.

It will come as no surprise to those who know something about dragons to learn that a dragon-culture will devour the innocent in a feeding frenzy of salacious wickedness. We know of the unholy holocaust of abortion, which devours the innocent flesh of babies, but we sometimes overlook the harmful effect on women that the unleashed dragons inflict. This was brought home to me by a recent article in the UK’s Telegraph which highlighted the fact that suicide had become a plague among British women, reaching record levels.

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None of this should surprise anyone with a modicum of intelligence. We live in an age in which chivalry among men is ridiculed and where the notion of self-sacrificial love has been abandoned in pursuit of self-gratifying desire. If life is reduced to ‘me’ and my feelings, the ‘other’ will be sacrificed on the altars of self-worship. Traditional marriage has always been the way in which a man and a woman give themselves fully to the other so that they may give themselves fully for the children that they hope to raise together.

In a world where virtue is shunned, vice will prevail. In a world where love is replaced with lust, the most vulnerable will be systematically abused. In a world which boasts of its Pride, it is the weakest who suffer. Such a world is destined for anarchy, which Oscar Wilde rightly called ‘freedom’s own Judas.’ Anarchy is the morally lawless society in which the morally lawless prey upon the weak. It is a world that has unleashed the dragon. In such a world, characterized by the increase in the number of damsels in distress, we need an increase in the number of those prepared to go forth, like St. George, armed with courage and the grace of God, to rescue the maidens from the dragons of the death-culture.”
~Joseph Pearce