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.

[...]

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

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Malachi 3:13-20b

You have defied me in word, says the LORD,
   yet you ask, “What have we spoken against you?”
You have said, “It is vain to serve God,
   and what do we profit by keeping his command,
And going about in penitential dress
   in awe of the LORD of hosts?
Rather must we call the proud blessed;
   for indeed evildoers prosper,
   and even tempt God with impunity.”
Then they who fear the LORD spoke with one another,
   and the LORD listened attentively;
And a record book was written before him
   of those who fear the LORD and trust in his name.
And they shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts,
   my own special possession, on the day I take action.
And I will have compassion on them,
   as a man has compassion on his son who serves him.
Then you will again see the distinction
   between the just and the wicked;
Between the one who serves God,
   and the one who does not serve him.
For lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven,
   when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble,
And the day that is coming will set them on fire,
   leaving them neither root nor branch,
   says the LORD of hosts.
But for you who fear my name, there will arise
   the sun of justice with its healing rays.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Clean Of Heart

“Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Purity of heart means not only freedom from confusion through the senses, but a general inner clarity and sincerity of intent before God. Those who possess it see God, for he is recognized not by the bare intellect, but by the inner vision. The eye is clear when the heart is clear, for the roots of the eye are in the heart. To perceive God then, we must purify the heart; it helps little to tax the intellect.”
~Romano Guardini

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

To Be On The Inside

“In speaking of this desire for our own far off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves.”

“Apparently, then, our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no mere neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation... In one way, of course, God has given us the Morning Star already: you can go and enjoy the gift on many fine mornings if you get up early enough. What more, you may ask, do we want? Ah, but we want so much more... [T]he poets and the mythologies know all about it. We do not want merely to see beauty... We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”
~C. S. Lewis

Monday, October 9, 2017

Before All Things


              Col 1:17

The day Christ died a record-long freight train
barreled through the Rollins Road crossing.
For seven minutes tankers and lumber flats
vibrated through the spikes in his wrists.

A fisherman dropped his pole by the retention pond
and headed toward the hill. A girl at a bus stop
clutched her side as the embryo implanted himself.
We’ll be late for the movie, I said.

That night, a meteor lit a tongue of fire
over the Midwestern sky. Our kitchen flashed,
and you froze at the sink. Christ was just born,
you said. I ground my best coffee as an offering

and kept watch through the night. Legion roared
through the maple leaves. The Pharisees’ stones
thudded to the ground. The loaves in the kitchen
ruptured their bags, then the earth burst into being.

~Tania Runyan
  

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Alleluia! Sing to Jesus!

Alleluia! sing to Jesus! His the scepter, His the throne.
Alleluia! His the triumph, His the victory alone.
Hark! the songs of peaceful Zion thunder like a mighty flood.
Jesus out of every nation has redeemed us by His blood.

Alleluia! not as orphans are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia! He is near us, faith believes, nor questions how;
Though the cloud from sight received Him when the forty days were o’er
Shall our hearts forget His promise, “I am with you evermore”?

Alleluia! bread of angels, Thou on earth our food, our stay;
Alleluia! here the sinful flee to Thee from day to day:
Intercessor, Friend of sinners, Earth’s Redeemer, plead for me,
Where the songs of all the sinless sweep across the crystal sea.

Alleluia! King eternal, Thee the Lord of lords we own;
Alleluia! born of Mary, Earth Thy footstool, Heav’n Thy throne:
Thou within the veil hast entered, robed in flesh our great High Priest;
Thou on earth both priest and victim in the Eucharistic feast.

~Words: William Dix & Music: Rowland Prichard (re-post)

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Lost

“You have lost your reason and taken the wrong path. You have taken lies for truth, and hideousness for beauty. You would marvel if, owing to strange events of some sorts, frogs and lizards suddenly grew on apple and orange trees instead of fruit, or if roses began to smell like a sweating horse; so I marvel at you who exchange heaven for earth. I don't want to understand you.”
~Anton Chekhov

Friday, October 6, 2017

Idolatry

“Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but also by setting up false devils; by making men afraid of war or alcohol, or economic law, when they should be afraid of spiritual corruption and cowardice.”
~G. K. Chesterton

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Temptations

“Temptations come so that hidden passions may be revealed and so that it will be possible to fight them, and so that the soul may be rid of them. They are also a sign of God’s mercy. So give yourself with trust into God’s hands and ask His help, so that He will strengthen you in your struggle. God knows how much each one can bear and allows temptations according to the measure of our strength. Remember that after temptation comes spiritual joy, and that the Lord protects them that endure temptations and suffering for the sake of His love.”
~St. Nectarios of Aegina

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Good Point

“One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.”
~John Piper

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Interesting Thought

“When we encounter a problem at work or in our ministry, we have been trained to look for a strategy with which to solve it. But what if God doesn’t want us to solve the problem at hand? What if God wants us to live with the problem for awhile? What if God is planning to use that problem to help us see the world in a new way? What if God wants us to struggle in the tension so that we can change and grow? In that case deploying a strategy and attempting to solve our problems quickly would actually work against God’s purposes.”
~Tim Suttle

Monday, October 2, 2017

Niagara


(Picture found here)
Awake, my muse! thy wings expand!
     Oh, what sublimity is here!
Niagara's mighty thunders burst
     With awful grandeur on mine ear.
Niagara! on thy brink I stand,
     And taste unutterable bliss;
What pen, what language can portray
     A scene so wonderful as this?
Father Divine!— we lift our hearts
     In humble gratitude to thee—
Who spreads the azure vault above,
     Whose hand controls the boisterous sea!
Thou bades the foaming cataract roll!
     Thou forms the rainbow tints we see!
We gaze— we wonder and admire—
     Niagara!— we are lost in thee.

~Fanny Crosby
(She visited the Falls in September of 1843 with her blind companions from the New York Institution for the Blind)
  

Sunday, October 1, 2017

You Holy Angels Bright

You holy angels bright
Who wait at God’s right hand,
Or through the realms of light
Fly at your Lord’s command,
Assist our song,
For else the theme
Too high will seem
For mortal tongue.

You blessed souls at rest,
Who ran this earthly race,
And now, from sin released,
Behold the Savior’s face;
His praises sound,
As in his sight
With sweet delight
You all abound.

Let all who toil below
Adore our heav’nly King,
And onward as we go
Our joyful anthem sing:
With one accord,
Through good or ill,
We praise him still,
Eternal Lord.

My soul, now take your part,
Acclaiming God above;
And with a well-tuned heart
Sing out the songs of love,
Let all our days
Till life shall end,
Whate’er he send,
Be filled with praise.

Tune: Darwall’s 148th
Music: John Darwall, 1731-1789
Text: Richard Baxter, 1615-1691, et al., adapted by Anthony G. Petti

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

As I watched:
   Thrones were set up
      and the Ancient One took his throne.
   His clothing was bright as snow,
      and the hair on his head as white as wool;
   His throne was flames of fire,
      with wheels of burning fire.
   A surging stream of fire
      flowed out from where he sat;
   Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him,
      and myriads upon myriads attended him.

The court was convened, and the books were opened.
As the visions during the night continued, I saw

   One like a son of man coming,
      on the clouds of heaven;
   When he reached the Ancient One
      and was presented before him,
   He received dominion, glory, and kingship;
      nations and peoples of every language serve him.
   His dominion is an everlasting dominion
      that shall not be taken away,
      his kingship shall not be destroyed.

Friday, September 29, 2017

St. Blanche Church Road

As I walked along St. Blanche Church Road
At dusk, I saw a small bird
Hovering in air above a lamppost.

This, I thought, is how the soul
Makes its way in the world
Wondering and hesitant,

Not noticing the Deerfield River
To the west or the dragon-shaped clouds
Gathering in the purple hills of sky

Above, mistaking a lone unlit lamppost
On a winding country road
For the outstretched finger of God.

~Steven Gizitsky

Thursday, September 28, 2017

How Deep You Have To Go

“Human nature is so faulty that it can resist any amount of grace and most of the time it does ... It is easy for any child to pick out the faults in the sermon on his way home from church every Sunday. It is impossible for him to find out the hidden love that makes a man, in spite of his intellectual limitations, his neuroticism, his own lack of strength, give up his life to the service of God’s people, however bumblingly he may go about it ... It is what is invisible that God sees and that the Christian must look for. Because he knows the consequences of sin, he knows how deep you have to go to find love ... To expect too much is to have a sentimental view of life and this is a softness that ends in bitterness. Charity is hard and endures.”
~Flannery O’Conner

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Psalm 36(35) Dixit injustus

(To the choir-master. Of David, the Lord’s servant.)
Deep in his heart the sinner hears the whispering of evil, and loses sight of the fear of God;
flatters himself with the thought that his misdoings go undiscovered, earn no reproof.
No word on his lips but is cruel and false; never a wise thought, a kindly deed.
He lies awake plotting mischief, and lends himself to every evil course, never weary of wrong-doing.
Lord, thy mercy is high as heaven; thy faithfulness reaches to the clouds;
thy justice stands firm as the everlasting hills, the wisdom of thy decrees is deep as the abyss. Lord, thou dost give protection to man and beast,
so rich is thy divine mercy; under the shelter of those wings the frail children of earth will find confidence.
With thy rich store thou wilt nourish them, bid them drink deep at thy fountain of contentment.
In thee is the source of all life; thy brightness breaks on our eyes like dawn.
Still let thy mercy dwell with those who acknowledge thee, thy favour with upright hearts;
do not suffer the proud to trample on me, the wicked to dispossess me.
See what a fall awaits the wrong-doers, how they are cast down to earth, and can keep their feet no more! (KNOX)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Falling Leaves


(Falling Leaves by Olga Wisinger-Florian)

No quote today—just some art of my favorite season. Enjoy...
~Kevin
 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Light

“If the wickedness of people arouses indignation and insurmountable grief in you, to the point that you desire to revenge yourself upon the wicked, fear that feeling most of all; go at once and seek torments for yourself, as if you yourself were guilty of their wickedness. Take these torments upon yourself and suffer them, and your heart will be eased, and you will understand that you, too, are guilty, for you might have shone to the wicked, even like the only sinless One, but you did not. If you had shone, your light would have lighted the way for others, and the one who did wickedness would perhaps not have done so in your light. And even if you do shine, but see that people are not saved even with your light, remain steadfast, and do not doubt the power of the heavenly light; believe that if they are not saved now, they will be saved later. And if they are not saved, their sons will be saved, for your light will not die, even when you are dead. The righteous man departs, but his light remains . . . The generation of men does not welcome its prophets and kills them, but men love their martyrs and venerate those they have tortured to death. Your work is for the whole, your deed is for the future. Never seek a reward, for great is your reward on earth without that: your spiritual joy, which only the righteous obtain. Nor should you fear the noble and powerful, but be wise and ever gracious. Know measure, know the time, learn these things. When you are alone, pray.”
~Fyodor Dostoyevsky (The Brothers Karamazov)

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Jesus, Thou Joy Of Loving Hearts

Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts,
Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men,
From the best bliss that earth imparts,
We turn unfilled to Thee again.

Thy truth unchanged hath ever stood;
Thou savest those that on Thee call;
To them that seek Thee Thou art good,
To them that find Thee all in all.

We taste Thee, O Thou living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still;
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead,
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.

Our restless spirits yearn for Thee,
Wherever our changeful lot is cast;
Glad when Thy gracious smile we see,
Blessed when our faith can hold Thee fast.

O Jesus, ever with us stay,
Make all our moments calm and bright;
Chase the dark night of sin away,
Shed over the world Thy holy light.

~Words: St. Bernard of Clairvaux, 12th Century; translated from Latin to English by Ray Palmer, 1858 & Music Henry Baker, 1854

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Psalm 92(91) Bonum est confiteri

Sweet it is to praise the Lord, to sing, most high God, in honour of thy name;
to proclaim thy mercy and faithfulness at daybreak and at the fall of night.
Here is a theme for ten-stringed harp and viol, for music of voice and zither;
so delightsome, Lord, is all thou doest, so thrills my heart at the sight of all thou hast made.
How magnificent is thy creation, Lord, how unfathomable are thy purposes!
And still, too dull to learn, too slow to grasp his lesson, the wrong-doer goes on in his busy wickedness.
Still he thrives, makes a brave show like the grass in spring, yet is he doomed to perish eternally,
whilst thou, Lord, art for ever exalted on high.
Vanished away thy enemies, Lord, vanished away, and all their busy wickedness scattered to the winds!
Strength thy power gives me, that gives strength to the wild oxen; refreshes me as with the touch of pure oil.
Blessed are these eyes with the sight of my enemies’ downfall, these ears with the tidings of insolent malice defeated.
The innocent man will flourish as the palm-tree flourishes; he will grow to greatness as the cedars grow on Lebanon.
Planted in the temple of the Lord, growing up in the very courts of our God’s house,
the innocent will flourish in a green old age, all freshness and vigour still;
theirs to proclaim how just is the Lord my refuge, his dealings how clear of wrong. (KNOX)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Making Progress

“Abba Poemen said of Abba John the Dwarf that he had prayed God to take his passions away from him so that he might become free from care. He went and told an old man this: ‘I find myself in peace, without an enemy,’ he said. The old man said to him, ‘Go, beseech God to stir up warfare so that you regain the affliction and humility that you used to have, for it is by warfare that the soul makes progress.’ So he besought God and when warfare came, he no longer prayed that it might be taken away, but said, ‘Lord, give me strength for the fight.’”
~Desert Fathers

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Teacher

“What we need more than anything else is not textbooks but textpeople. It is the personality of the teacher which is the text that the pupils read; the text that they will never forget. The modern teacher, while not wearing a snowy beard, is a link in the chain of a tradition. He is the intermediary between the past and the present as well. . . . He must teach the pupils to evaluate the past in order to clarify their future.”
~Abraham Heschel

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Psalm 146 Lauda, anima mea

ALLELUIA!

My soul, give praise to the Lord;
I will praise the Lord all my days,
make music to my God while I live.

Put no trust in princes,
in mortal men in whom there is no help.
Take their breath, they return to clay
and their plans that day come to nothing.

He is happy who is helped by Jacob’s God,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who alone made heaven and earth,
the seas and all they contain.

It is he who keeps faith for ever,
who is just to those who are oppressed.
It is he who gives bread to the hungry,
the Lord, who sets prisoners free,

the Lord who gives sight to the blind,
who raises up those who are bowed down,
the Lord, who protects the stranger
and upholds the widow and orphan.

It is the Lord who loves the just
but thwarts the path of the wicked.
The Lord will reign for ever,
Zion’s God, from age to age.

ALLELUIA!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Explanation of the Frontispiece

Blot out the entire world. The tablet of my thoughts
be wiped clean. Let nothing remain but Jesus Christ.
I will stand for nothing else. There shall be no thing
within remembrance's bounds but Him who is all.
Lust for knowledge may inspire many lovely things;
Jesus alone restores me, more than can vast knowledge.
However the world may lust for money, art, wisdom,
I want and know nothing but the strength of His cross.
May gall and vinegar's sponge blot out all vanity.
Let the crucified one alone stay in my mind.
How far Totality, when alone can outspread
and change everything we clearly see herein
I want this sum of all things alone in my mind.
~Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg

Monday, September 18, 2017

Imaginative Gridlock

“The second attribute of imaginatively gridlocked relationship systems is a continual search for new answers to old questions rather than an effort to reframe the questions themselves. In the search for the solution to any problem, questions are always more important than answers because the way one frames the question, or the problem, already predetermines the range of answers one can conceive in response.

The critical difference between what is now popularly called a paradigm shift and what might otherwise be simply an innovation involves precisely this change in focus from answer to question. For example, at some point in history someone realized that solid wheels could be made much lighter by cutting away pie-shaped slices and leaving only spokes. That was certainly a useful, facilitating innovation that produced a new answer to the question of how to overcome the cumbersomeness of wheels. But the paradigm shift of transportation that opened imaginative new ways of thinking was the wheel itself! Innovations are new answers to old questions; paradigm shifts reframe the question, change the information that is important, and generally eliminate previous dichotomies.”
~Edwin Friedman

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Our Father, We Have Wandered

Our Father, we have wandered
and hidden from your face,
in foolishness have squandered
your legacy of grace.
But now, in exile dwelling,
we rise with fear and shame,
as distant but compelling,
we hear you call our name.

And now at length discerning
the evil that we do,
behold us Lord, returning
with hope and trust to you.
In haste you come to meet us
and home rejoicing bring.
In gladness there to greet us
with calf and robe and ring.

O Lord of all the living,
both banished and restored,
compassionate, forgiving
and ever caring Lord,
grant now that our transgressing,
our faithlessness may cease.
Stretch out your hand in blessing
in pardon and in peace.

Text: Kevin Nichols (1981)
Tune: PASSION CHORALE 76.76D

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Peace In The Soul

“If you suffer some misfortune, then think: ‘The Lord sees my heart, and if it pleases Him, it will be well both for me and others.’ And thus your soul will always be at peace. But if someone murmurs, ‘This is bad, and that is bad,’ then he will never have peace in his soul, even though he fasts and prays a lot.”
~St. Silouan

Friday, September 15, 2017

Gift

Some ask the world
and are diminished
in the receiving
of it. You gave me

only this small pool
that the more I drink
from, the more overflows
me with sourceless light.

~R. S. Thomas

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Cross

“I see an infinite number of crucified persons in the world, but few who are crucified by the love of Jesus. Some are crucified by their self-love and inordinate love of the world. But happy are they who are crucified for the love of Jesus. Happy are they who live and die on the cross with Jesus.”
~St. John Eudes

Litany of the Cross

The cross is the hope of Christians
the cross is the resurrection of the dead
the cross is the way of the lost
the cross is the savior of the lost
the cross is the staff of the lame
the cross is the guide of the blind
the cross is the strength of the weak
the cross is the doctor of the sick
the cross is the aim of the priests
the cross is the hope of the hopeless
the cross is the freedom of the slaves
the cross is the power of the kings
the cross is the water of the seeds
the cross is the consolation of the bondsmen
the cross is the source of those who seek water
the cross is the cloth of the naked.
We thank you, Father, for the cross.

We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection, through whom we are saved and delivered.
~Galatians 6:14

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Luke 6:20-26

Then he lifted up his eyes towards his disciples, and said; Blessed are you who are poor; the kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are hungry now; you will have your fill. Blessed are you who weep now; you will laugh for joy.
Blessed are you, when men hate you and cast you off and revile you, when they reject your name as something evil, for the Son of Man’s sake.
When that day comes, rejoice and exult over it; for behold, a rich reward awaits you in heaven; their fathers treated the prophets no better.
But woe upon you who are rich; you have your comfort already.
Woe upon you who are filled full; you shall be hungry. Woe upon you who laugh now; you shall mourn and weep.
Woe upon you, when all men speak well of you; their fathers treated the false prophets no worse. (KNOX)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Psalm 90(89) Domine, refugium

Lord, thou hast been our refuge from generation to generation. Before the hills came to birth, before the whole frame of the world was engendered, from eternity to eternity, O God, thou art. And wilt thou bring man to dust again, that thou sayest, Return, children of Adam, to what you were? In thy sight, a thousand years are but as yesterday, that has come and gone, or as one of the night-watches. Swiftly thou bearest our lives away, as a waking dream, or the green grass that blooms fresh with the morning; night finds it faded and dead. Still thy anger takes toll of us, thy displeasure denies us rest, so jealous thy scrutiny of our wrong-doing, so clear our hidden sins shew in the light of thy presence. Day after day vanishes, and still thy anger lasts; swift as a breath our lives pass away. What is our span of days? Seventy years it lasts, eighty years, if lusty folk we be; for the more part, toil and frustration; years that vanish in a moment, and we are gone. Alas, that so few heed thy vengeance, measure thy anger by the reverence we owe thee! Teach us to count every passing day, till our hearts find wisdom.

Relent, Lord; must it be for ever? Be gracious to thy servants. For us thy timely mercies, for us abiding happiness and content; happiness that shall atone for the time when thou didst afflict us, for the long years of ill fortune. Let these eyes see thy purpose accomplished, to our own sons reveal thy glory; the favour of the Lord our God smile on us! Prosper our doings, Lord, prosper our doings yet. (KNOX)

Monday, September 11, 2017

I Have Decided

I have decided to find myself a home
in the mountains, somewhere high up
where one learns to live peacefully in
the cold and the silence. It’s said that
in such a place certain revelations may
be discovered. That what the spirit
reaches for may be eventually felt, if not
exactly understood. Slowly, no doubt. I’m
not talking about a vacation.

Of course, at the same time I mean to
stay exactly where I am.

Are you following me?

~Mary Oliver

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Lord Of All Hopefulness

Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
Whose trust, ever childlike, no cares could destroy,
Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,
Your bliss in our hearts, Lord,
At the break of the day.

Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,
Whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe,
Be there at our labours and give us, we pray,
Your strength in our hearts, Lord,
At the noon of the day.

Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,
Your hands swift to welcome, Your arms to embrace.
Be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,
Your love in our hearts, Lord,
At the eve of the day.

Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
Whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm,
Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,
Your peace in our hearts, Lord,
At the end of the day.

~Author: Jan Struther (1931) & Tune: SLANE

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Originality

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”
~C. S. Lewis

Friday, September 8, 2017

Luke 5:1-11

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God,
   he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
He saw two boats there alongside the lake;
   the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
   he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
   “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
Simon said in reply,
   “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
   but at your command I will lower the nets.”
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish
   and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
   to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats
   so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
   “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him
   and all those with him,
   and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
   who were partners of Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid;
   from now on you will be catching men.”
When they brought their boats to the shore,
   they left everything and followed him.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Prodigal

She floated before him like a summer cloud,
pink and white through his sweat and then lay down
squealing, by her sucklings, a teat for each mouth.
The husks caught in his throat. If he'd only known
the pigs would have it better than he, he never...
He, ripe offal, stuck in the world's latrine!
—so he told himself over and over and over
and over again. With tears came a keen

ache in his chest. Next day he started home.
He tried to stop his thoughts, lethally busy,
but at night yearned for the slops and warmth of the barn,
the hogs' contented grunting and homely stink. Alone,
he knew he'd failed beyond all hope of mercy.
He didn't even see his father till wrapped in his arms.

~Robert Siegel

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Good Reminders

“It is not what we do that matters, but what a sovereign God chooses to do through us. God doesn't want our success; He wants us. He doesn't demand our achievements; He demands our obedience. The Kingdom of God is a kingdom of paradox, where through the ugly defeat of a cross, a holy God is utterly glorified. Victory comes through defeat; healing through brokenness; finding self through losing self.”

“But all at once I realized that it was not my success God had used to enable me to help those in this prison, or in hundreds of others just like it. My life of success was not what made this morning so glorious – all my achievements meant nothing in God's economy.
“No, the real legacy of my life was my biggest failure – that I was an ex-convict. My greatest humiliation – being sent to prison – was the beginning of God's greatest use of my life; He chose the one thing in which I could not glory for His glory.”
~Charles Colson

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Interesting...

“In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is ... in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.”
~Theodore Dalrymple

Monday, September 4, 2017

Valiant

"Deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised."
~J. R. R. Tolkien (Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings)

Sunday, September 3, 2017

O God Beyond All Praising

O God beyond all praising,
we worship you today
and sing the love amazing
that songs cannot repay;
for we can only wonder
at every gift you send,
at blessings without number
and mercies without end:
we lift our hearts before you
and wait upon your word,
we honor and adore you,
our great and mighty Lord.

Then hear, O gracious Savior,
accept the love we bring,
that we who know your favor
may serve you as our king;
and whether our tomorrows
be filled with good or ill,
we'II triumph through our sorrows
and rise to bless you still:
to marvel at your beauty
and glory in your ways,
and make a joyful duty
our sacrifice of praise.

~Words: Michael Perry & Music: Gustav Holst (re-post)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Guard Against

“There is, however, a ridiculousness we should guard against: talking ingratiatingly about Christianity. I wonder if a man handing another man an extremely sharp, polished, two-edged instrument would hand it over with the air, gestures, and expression of one delivering a bouquet of flowers? Would not this be madness? What does one do, then? Convinced of the excellence of the dangerous instrument, one recommends it unreservedly, to be sure, but in such a way that in a certain sense one warns against it. So it is with Christianity. If what is needed is to be done, we should not hesitate, aware of the highest responsibility, to preach in Christian sermons—yes, precisely in Christian sermons—AGAINST Christianity. For we know full well where disaster strikes these days—namely, that by foolish and ingratiating Sunday-talk Christianity has been deceptively transformed into an illusion and we have even been tricked into the fancy that we, just as we are, are Christians. Yet if a man thought he was holding a flower in his hand, a flower which he somewhat idly, somewhat thoughtlessly delighted to look at—and then someone, truly discerning, shouted to him ‘You poor man, don’t you realise you are holding a very sharp, polished two-edged sword!’—I wonder if he would not become terrified for a moment! [ . . . ]

Christianity can be recommended only when at every point the danger is incessantly made clear—how Christianity according to merely human conceptions is foolishness and offence. But by making this clear and evident, a warning is issued. Christianity is that earnest. That which stands in need of the favour of man curries favour with them, but Christianity is so sure of itself and knows with such earnestness and exactness that it is men who stand in need of it, that for this very reason it does not recommend itself directly but first alerts them, as Christ recommended Himself to the apostles by once predicting to them that for his sake they would be hated—yes, that whoever put them to death would think he did God a service.”
~Søren Kierkegaard

Friday, September 1, 2017

Reminiscing

“How naturally a common meal serves for a symbol of fraternity; how easily a scratch party of guests get on together if you take them out for a picnic in the open air! Just imagine what it must have meant, later on, if one of those five thousand met, by accident, one of the others; what fellowship must have been imposed on them by their common store of reminiscences! ‘Yes, don’t you remember, I was sitting about seven or eight off you, and Peter — or John, or James, or Judas — came round with the crust which looked as if it could never satisfy more than two; we both seemed to be in starvation corner, didn’t we? And then when he got to the end of the row the crust was still there.’”
~Georges Chevrot

Thursday, August 31, 2017

He Knows What He Is About

“God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.

He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work.

I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments.

Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.”
~John Henry Newman (re-post)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Quotes from St. Augustine

“People look upon [the Church] and say, ‘She is about to die. Soon her very name will disappear. There will be no more Christians; they have had their day.’ While they are thus speaking, I see these very people die themselves, day by day, but the Church lives on.”

“But my sin was this, that I looked for pleasure, beauty, and truth not in Him but in myself and His other creatures, and the search led me instead to pain, confusion, and error.”

“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek Him the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement.”

~St. Augustine (A.D. 354-430)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Our Obligation

“Each one is under obligation to show forth his faith, either to instruct and encourage others of the faithful, or to repel the attacks of unbelievers.”
~St. Thomas Aquinas

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Summer Day


(Picture found here)
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

~Mary Oliver
  

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken

Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee.
Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou from hence my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition, all I’ve sought or hoped or known.
Yet how rich is my condition! God and Heaven are still mine own.

Let the world despise and leave me, they have left my Savior, too.
Human hearts and looks deceive me; Thou art not, like them, untrue.
And while Thou shalt smile upon me, God of wisdom, love and might,
Foes may hate and friends disown me, show Thy face and all is bright.

Go, then, earthly fame and treasure! Come, disaster, scorn and pain!
In Thy service, pain is pleasure; with Thy favor, loss is gain.
I have called Thee, “Abba, Father”; I have set my heart on Thee:
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather, all must work for good to me.

Man may trouble and distress me, ’twill but drive me to Thy breast.
Life with trials hard may press me; heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
Oh, ’tis not in grief to harm me while Thy love is left to me;
Oh, ’twere not in joy to charm me, were that joy unmixed with Thee.

Take, my soul, thy full salvation; rise o’er sin, and fear, and care;
Joy to find in every station something still to do or bear:
Think what Spirit dwells within thee; what a Father’s smile is thine;
What a Savior died to win thee, child of heaven, shouldst thou repine?

Haste then on from grace to glory, armed by faith, and winged by prayer,
Heaven’s eternal day’s before thee, God’s own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission, swift shall pass thy pilgrim days;
Hope soon change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise.

~Words: Henry Lyte & Music: Rowland Prichard 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Be Still and Wait

"In the noise and rush of life, as you have intervals, step home within yourselves and be still. Wait upon God, and feel His good presence; this will carry you evenly through your day's business."
~William Penn

Friday, August 25, 2017

Weaving and Building

“If we weave by day and undo at night, nothing gets woven. If we build by day and destroy by night, nothing is ever built. If we pray to God and do evil before Him, nothing is woven, and a house for our soul is not built.”
~St. Nicholas of Serbia

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Who Put It There?

“[Ronald] Knox was engaged in a theological discussion with scientist John Scott Haldane. ‘In a universe containing millions of planets,’ reasoned Haldane, ‘is it not inevitable that life should appear on at least one of them?’ ‘Sir,’ replied Knox, ‘if Scotland Yard found a body in your cabin trunk, would you tell them: ‘There are millions of trunks in the world; surely one of them must contain a body? I think they would still want to know who put it there.’”

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

As Sun Declines And Shadows Fall

As sun declines and shadows fall,
The sea and hills will fade from sight;
Its fiery orb bids us farewell
But promises tomorrow’s light.

And this, O God, creator wise,
You regulate in wondrous way
The laws of this great universe
At which we marvel night and day.

While darkness rides across the sky,
And stars their silent watches keep,
Your children leave their constant toil,
Regaining strength by peaceful sleep.

Made rich in hope, kept strong in faith,
May we be blest throughout the night,
By Christ, the Word, who timeless reigns,
True splendor of the Father’s light.

He is the sun that never sets,
No dusk can make his lustre die,
The kind Protector of the earth,
The joys of all the saints on high.

O Father, Son and Spirit blest
Grant us at last that light to see,
And full of joy your praises sing,
Bathed in your love eternally. Amen.

Tune: Illsey L.M.
Music: John Bishop, 1665-1737
Text: Sol, ecce, lentus occidens, Anselmo Lentini, O.S.B., 1901-1989
Translation: the Benedictines of Saint Cecilia’s Abbey

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Understand Two Thoughts

“Understand two thoughts, and fear them. One says, ‘You are a saint,’ the other, ‘You won’t be saved.’ Both of these thoughts are from the enemy, and there is no truth in them. But think this way: I am a great sinner, but the Lord is merciful. He loves people very much, and He will forgive my sins.”
~St. Silouan

Monday, August 21, 2017

Little Things

Little drops of water,
          Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean
          And the pleasant land.
Little deeds of kindness,
          Little words of love,
Make our earth an Eden,
          Like the heaven above.

~Julia Carney

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Work In Me Life And Salvation

“I know, O Lord, Thou wilt do Thy part towards me, as I, through Thy grace, desire to do my part towards Thee. I know well Thou never canst forsake those who seek Thee, or canst disappoint those who trust Thee. Yet I know too, the more I pray for Thy protection, the more surely and fully I shall have it. And therefore now I cry out to Thee, and intreat Thee, first that Thou wouldest keep me from myself, and from following any will but Thine. Next I beg of Thee, that in Thy infinite compassion, Thou wouldest temper Thy will to me, that it may not be severe, but indulgent to me. Visit me not, O my loving Lord—if it be not wrong so to pray—visit me not with those trying visitations which saints alone can bear! Pity my weakness, and lead me heavenwards in a safe and tranquil course. Still I leave all in Thy hands, my dear Saviour—I bargain for nothing—only, if Thou shalt bring heavier trials on me, give me more grace—flood me with the fulness of Thy strength and consolation, that they may work in me not death, but life and salvation.”
~John Henry Newman

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Order

“Whoever exalts . . . the people, or the State, or a particular form of State, or the depositories of power, or any other fundamental value of the human community – however necessary and honorable be their function in worldly things – whoever raises these notions above their standard value and divinizes them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God; he is far from the true faith in God and from the concept of life which that faith upholds.”
~Pope Pius XI

Friday, August 18, 2017

False Choices

“The fracture lines in the mind run in every direction, but they have their roots in the heart. Do you see what Satan has done to all of us? Whenever he cannot entice us into direct evil, he will try to allure us into passive evil. No, that is not the exact word—I should say that he always seeks to deceive men of good will by offering them what appears to be a lesser evil.”

“You mean he offers them a terrible evil on one hand and an apparently small evil on the other?”

“Yes. This is his great subtlety with us. He has observed us for millennia. The devil is an outstanding psychologist.”

“So we choose the lesser evil, thinking we have been saved from the great evil, when all the while his real purpose was to bring about the evil we have chosen.”

. . .“He wishes to infect everything, every particle of creation, with compromise. If he cannot entice a man into participating directly in his Great Revolt, he will work to infect him with its lesser attributes.”

“And does so by presenting us with false choices.”

~Michael O'Brien (from The Father's Tale)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Thought

“There is something at the bottom of every new human thought, every thought of genius, or even every earnest thought that springs up in any brain, which can never be communicated to others, even if one were to write volumes about it and were explaining one's idea for thirty-five years; there's something left which cannot be induced to emerge from your brain, and remains with you forever; and with it you will die, without communicating to anyone perhaps the most important of your ideas.”
~Fyodor Dostoyevsky (from The Idiot)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Psalm 126

When the Lord delivered Zion from bondage,
it seemed like a dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
on our lips there were songs.

The heathens themselves said: “What marvels
the Lord worked for them!”
What marvels the Lord worked for us!
Indeed we were glad.

Deliver us, O Lord, from our bondage
as streams in dry land.
Those who are sowing in tears
will sing when they reap.

They go out, they go out, full of tears,
carrying seed for the sowing:
they come back, they come back, full of song,
carrying their sheaves.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Word from His Song

The sparrow on my rooftop shouts,
“All roads be blessed.” His voice a ring
for the finger of the beloved.

And he wouldn’t work harder at his song
if all the world prized it,
nor temper what sounds like ardor
if a public thought him wrong.

He says singing redeems the body’s loneliness.
All praise is homage to an older praising,
a drastic sum and ruling mean,
earth’s urging the grapes to a clearer fate,
sun’s pressing them to a more potent praise.

Flying fixes the heart to the sky’s wheel, he says.
Salt cures the script.
Light is a fractal script.
Imagination is branched, flowering,
and each fans the buds himself.

He says every atom burns.
Hunger rends the kingdom by mending,
marrying voices and wings.

Singing builds a throne
for hearing, sets up a swing
between our one night and our day.

It’s all song, all singing, the body’s seat
and number, the mind’s pleats, time’s hem.

The voice is a sighted brink.
Its mission is to sort the world.
The tongue is a mortal flower.
The dew at last. The guests arrive.
The child learns his name,
a virgin bell. And even that
iron note is God awake in two worlds.

God seeks a destiny in all things fired
in the kiln of the sun or the mind.

That’s the word from his song.

~Li-Young Lee

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Sick

“Each person must bear the weaknesses of others. Who is perfect? Who can boast that he has kept his heart undefiled? Hence, we are all sick, and whoever condemns his brother does not perceive that he himself is sick, because a sick person does not condemn another sick person.”
~Elder Ephraim

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Thankfulness

“I am thankful for my heritage, both family and the church. They have left me with no excuse for not being all that I should be . . .

Most of all I am thankful to God, our Father and Jesus, our Savior and the Spirit, our helper for the providence’s He has shown us all our lives. ‘The lines have fallen to us in pleasant places.’

I sometimes have apprehensions about my standing before the Great Judge of the Universe when I read that, ‘to whom much is given, much shall be required.’

All I can do at this point in my life is trust that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ will take up the slack, make up the lack, and that God the Righteous Judge will be as merciful as we have believed Him to be.

This I do. Amen.”

~Walter Orr (a family friend – from his autobiography toward the end of his life)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

On The Mountain


(Picture found here)
At the mountain of God, Horeb,
   Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter.
Then the LORD said to him,
   “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD;
   the LORD will be passing by.”
A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains
   and crushing rocks before the LORD—
   but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake—
   but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake there was fire—
   but the LORD was not in the fire.
After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.
When he heard this,
   Elijah hid his face in his cloak
   and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.

~1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a

Friday, August 11, 2017

A Quiet Place to Pray

Simon Stylites left his shepherd’s manse behind,
but even the hut he built seemed just too lush.
With nowhere left to go away, he went up.
Still they came, the lovelorn, sick, and poor,
the curious and the kings. Thirty-seven years
on that pillar, and the pilgrims kept on coming.

Good Saint Henry built a cabin, quaint little place
facing the water, tidy pine desk, and the best—
a sunny step for meditations. Maybe a little close
to town for his taste, but it gave him space to write
about his sweet dead brother John, and of course
the other book. Disciples came, still come.

The blessed bhikku Kerouac bought himself a pack
and thought he’d hitchhike his way to the holy.
He found he had to keep moving his brakeman’s boots.
Fast cars and freights. I hope he found the silence
he was looking for before he found the bottom
of the last bottle. The hipsters trace his exodus.

Our local Brother Martin, Trappist raconteur,
follows his ascetic way on Oregon’s fairest farm,
prays hard among the gardens and wine vats,
sleeps behind the stone wall, comes out each day
to guide the spiritual way of professional wives:
the celibate guru of the lovely and young.

The hermit’s burden? It’s a trick to be alone.
Once people figure out you’ve pulled it off,
they can’t seem to stay away. What’s to say?
Isolation is one hot topic for conversation—
but it’s more than nearly anyone can understand.
Most people want to learn about it second-hand.

~William Jolliff

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Deer

“A few weeks ago I was visiting at the home of a family which lives on a farm down the road from where we live. They had recently moved there from the city, and it was their first experience of living in the countryside. The father of the family and I were engaged in a heated theological debate, when the door flew open and his twelve year old son burst in, I should say floated in. The boy’s eyes were full of tears and his mouth was open wide, unable to speak for a few moments. We stared at him. His face was full of wonder and his arms raised in a gesture that bore a remarkable resemblance to the ancient orans position of prayer, a gesture that is a timeless one, a mute reaching for transcendence.

‘Oh papa,’ he whispered, ‘I have seen the most beautiful thing. I have seen a deer.’

It is impossible to convey the sense of awe with which he breathed this word. We stared at him, wondering what he meant. A deer? We have all seen deer. Then my neighbour and I looked at each other and understood that perhaps after all we had not ever really seen a deer. At least not in the way this child had just seen one. And later there came the revelation to both of us that we, with our prodigious intellects and our fiercely defended positions, often talk about things we have not really seen, or known, or loved well. We have pictures in our mind which form concepts and ideologies. We are clever, articulate impressionists, but we have not gazed into the liquid galaxies of a wild creature’s eyes as it gazed back equally uncomprehending upon us. We have not stroked the red velvet hide. We have not touched the bone antlers and felt them toss. We have not seen it leap as it bolted for the sanctuary of the trees.”
~Michael O’Brien (re-post)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Truth and Love

“Do not accept anything as truth that lacks love and do not accept anything as love which lacks truth. One without the other is a destructive lie.”
~St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Good and Evil Acts

“Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.”
~C. S. Lewis (from Mere Christianity)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Numbers 11:4b-15

The children of Israel lamented,
   “Would that we had meat for food!
We remember the fish we used to eat without cost in Egypt,
   and the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks,
   the onions, and the garlic.
But now we are famished;
   we see nothing before us but this manna.”

Manna was like coriander seed and had the color of resin.
When they had gone about and gathered it up,
   the people would grind it between millstones or pound it in a mortar,
   then cook it in a pot and make it into loaves,
   which tasted like cakes made with oil.
At night, when the dew fell upon the camp, the manna also fell.

When Moses heard the people, family after family,
   crying at the entrance of their tents,
   so that the LORD became very angry, he was grieved.
“Why do you treat your servant so badly?” Moses asked the Lord.
“Why are you so displeased with me
   that you burden me with all this people?
Was it I who conceived all this people?
Or was it I who gave them birth,
   that you tell me to carry them at my bosom,
   like a foster father carrying an infant,
   to the land you have promised under oath to their fathers?
Where can I get meat to give to all this people?
For they are crying to me,
   ‘Give us meat for our food.’
I cannot carry all this people by myself,
   for they are too heavy for me.
If this is the way you will deal with me,
   then please do me the favor of killing me at once,
   so that I need no longer face this distress.”