Sunday, December 31, 2017

Another Year Is Dawning

Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
In working or in waiting, another year with Thee.
Another year of progress, another year of praise,
Another year of proving Thy presence all the days.

Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace,
Another year of gladness in the shining of Thy face;
Another year of leaning upon Thy loving breast;
Another year of trusting, of quiet, happy rest.

Another year of service, of witness for Thy love,
Another year of training for holier work above.
Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
On earth, or else in Heaven, another year for Thee.

~Words: Frances Havergal & Music: Samuel Wesley

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Psalm 98(97) Cantate Domino

1 (A psalm.)
Sing the Lord a new song, a song of wonder at his doings; how his own right hand, his own holy arm, brought him victory.
2 The Lord has given proof of his saving power, has vindicated his just dealings, for all the nations to see;
3 has remembered his gracious promise, and kept faith with the house of Israel; no corner of the world but has witnessed how our God can save.
4 In God’s honour let all the earth keep holiday; let all be mirth and rejoicing and festal melody!
5 Praise the Lord with the harp, with harp and psaltery’s music;
6 with trumpets of metal, and the music of the braying horn! Keep holiday in the presence of the Lord, our King;
7 the sea astir, and all that the sea holds, the world astir, and all that dwell on it;
8 the rivers echoing their applause, the hills, too, rejoicing to see the Lord come. He comes to judge the earth; brings the world justice, to every race of men its due award. (KNOX)

Friday, December 29, 2017

This is Christmas

“My dear friends, that is Christmas—that a hand from above reaches into our lives and touches our hearts. That is Christmas, not the other things. My friends, believe it, we have to suffer a lot and hang on. Only then is it Christmas.

Christmas is not a sweet fairytale for little children—for happy nurseries . . . Christmas is serious—so serious—that men gladly—die for it. —Tell everyone—many things have to change—first—here—inside . . .

Christmas means that God—touches us,—that He—grasps our hands—and lays them—on—His—heart. —That God comes—to us—and sets us free. —Tell everyone—the other isn’t Christmas,—only this—is—Christmas,—that—God—is—with—us.”

~Alfred Delp (from The Eternal Advent, a play)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Christmas Hymn

A stable-lamp is lighted
  Whose glow shall wake the sky;
    The stars shall bend their voices,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry,
  And straw like gold shall shine;
    A barn shall harbor heaven,
A stall become a shrine.

This child through David’s city
  Shall ride in triumph by;
    The palm shall strew its branches,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry,
  Though heavy, dull, and dumb,
    And lie within the roadway
To pave His kingdom come.

Yet He shall be forsaken,
  And yielded up to die;
    The sky shall groan and darken,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry
  For stony hearts of men:
    God’s blood upon the spearhead,
God’s love refused again.

But now, as at the ending,
  The low is lifted high;
    The stars shall bend their voices,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry
  In praises of the child
    By whose descent among us
The worlds are reconciled.

~Richard Wilbur

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Nativity of Christ

Behold the father is his daughter’s son,
The bird that built the nest is hatched therein,
The old of years an hour hath not outrun,
Eternal life to live doth now begin,
The Word is dumb, the mirth of heaven doth weep,
Might feeble is, and force doth faintly creep.
O dying souls, behold your living spring;
O dazzled eyes, behold your sun of grace;
Dull ears, attend what word this Word doth bring;
Up, heavy hearts, with joy your joy embrace.
From death, from dark, from deafness, from despairs,
This life, this light, this Word, this joy repairs.
Gift better than himself God doth not know;
Gift better than his God no man can see.
This gift doth here the giver given bestow;
Gift to this gift let each receiver be.
God is my gift, himself he freely gave me;
God’s gift am I, and none but God shall have me.
Man altered was by sin from man to beast;
Beast’s food is hay, hay is all mortal flesh.
Now God is flesh and lies in manger pressed
As hay, the brutest sinner to refresh.
O happy field wherein this fodder grew,
Whose taste doth us from beasts to men renew.

~Robert Southwell

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Birth of a Child


(Picture found here)
The topic here is the birth of a child—
not the revolutionary deed of a strong man,
not the bold discovery of a wise person,
not the godly work of a saint.

It really goes beyond all comprehension:
the birth of a child is supposed to lead
to the great turning point of all things and
to bring the salvation and redemption of all humanity.

What kings and leaders of nations, philosophers and artists,
founders of religions and teachers of morals
have tried in vain to do—
that now happens through a newborn child.

That is the mystery of the redemption of the world;
everything past and everything future is encompassed here.
The infinite mercy of the almighty God comes to us,
descends to us in the form of a child, his Son.

~Dietrich Bonhoeffer
 

Monday, December 25, 2017

Angels From The Realms Of Glory


(Picture found here)
Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation’s story
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth.

Refrain:
Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Shepherds, in the field abiding,
Watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with us is now residing;
Yonder shines the infant light:

Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Sages, leave your contemplations,
Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great Desire of nations;
Ye have seen His natal star.

Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Saints, before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear;
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear.

Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Though an Infant now we view Him,
He shall fill His Father’s throne,
Gather all the nations to Him;
Every knee shall then bow down:

Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King.

All creation, join in praising
God, the Father, Spirit, Son,
Evermore your voices raising
To th’eternal Three in One.

Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King.

~Words: James Montgomery & Music: Henry Smart
   

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Cold, Tired, and Scared

“I love Nativity scenes—but I also find them irritating. Our house is resplendent with more than half a dozen from Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East; all colorful and joyful; they brighten up every dark corner of our house and dark recess of our minds. But, like I said, they also can infuriate me. They are too clean, too bright, too warm and nuzzling. That serene smile on every Mary, the glowing eyes of every Joseph, the bubbly, happy baby, sometimes are just too much. That wasn’t the way it possibly could have been. Sometimes I wish for a real manger scene, with the donkey braying and the sheep bleating and even the camels spitting. I can see the tired old man wondering what he had gotten himself into and the young girl frightened for her young babe and herself. All of them shivering in the cold and the dark. And the sound of the animals so loud and dissonant that the baby keeps waking in tears, and the mother tries vainly to soothe him back to sleep. And then the shepherds arrive, smelly, sly, ignorant, wanting to see this strange phenomenon they are drawn to beyond their comprehension. And the mother now worried about how to cope with a crying infant and so many unexpected guests—she was a Jewish mother after all! I like this starker nativity scene because it is more like what we all go through and certainly what the poor and discarded experience every day. I like the thought that every broken person, every young scared and scarred mother, every confused and weary father, every destitute and despairing family, can identify with and appreciate that small family of three searching desperately for shelter 2000 years ago. No more than refugees—internally displaced people as we bureaucratically describe them today—struggling just to get to tomorrow, with no thought of grander or sweeter days ahead. For so many of the poor and broken to embrace life and joy under such circumstances is itself a daily miracle that humbles me. And so maybe in a deeper sense and at the risk of contradicting myself, the ‘cleaned-up’ Nativity scene gets it exactly right: Underneath all the dirt and noise there is a serene smile of a young mother despite the worries, there are warm glowing eyes of an old father despite his exhaustion, and there is a babe bursting with life and joy despite being hungry and cold. They may have been a ‘holy family,’ but they were also a ‘wholly human family.’”
~Joseph Mussomeli

Saturday, December 23, 2017

James 5:7-8, 9b

Be patient, my brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer awaits the precious yield of the soil. He looks forward to it patiently while the soil receives the winter and the spring rains. You, too, must be patient. Steady your hearts, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. See! The judge stands at the gate.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Silence and Waiting

“We are silent in the early hours of each day,
because God is supposed to have the first word,
and we are silent before going to sleep,
because to God also belongs the last word.

We are silent solely for the sake of the word,
not in order to show dishonor to the word
but in order to honor and receive it properly.

Silence ultimately means nothing
but waiting for God’s word
and coming away blessed by God’s word.

***

Life in a prison cell may well be compared to Advent:
one waits, hopes, and does this, that, or the other—
things that are really of no consequence—
the door is shut, and can only be opened from the outside.”

~Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Letter from Bonhoeffer at Tegel prison to Eberhard Bethge, November 21, 1943)

Thursday, December 21, 2017

See, Amid The Winter's Snow

See, amid the winter's snow,
Born for us on Earth below,
See, the tender Lamb appears,
Promised from eternal years.

Chorus:
Hail, thou ever blessed morn,
Hail redemption's happy dawn,
Sing through all Jerusalem,
Christ is born in Bethlehem.

Lo, within a manger lies
He who built the starry skies;
He who, throned in height sublime,
Sits among the cherubim.

Chorus

Say, ye holy shepherds, say,
What your joyful news today;
Wherefore have ye left your sheep
On the lonely mountain steep?

Chorus

"As we watched at dead of night,
Lo, we saw a wondrous light:
Angels singing 'Peace On Earth'
Told us of the Saviour's birth."

Chorus

Sacred Infant, all divine,
What a tender love was Thine,
Thus to come from highest bliss
Down to such a world as this.

Chorus

Teach, O teach us, Holy Child,
By Thy face so meek and mild,
Teach us to resemble Thee,
In Thy sweet humility.

Chorus

~Words: Edward Caswall & Music: John Goss

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Into Solitude

We descend into solitude step by step
further and further down stanzas of verses
into depths never expected
determined to live without poor substitutes
in a cruel and impossible purity
there at the very bottom to regain
all those who huddle
at the gate of this wide-open emptiness
grandmothers aunts and uncles already forgotten
strangers who once crossed a courtyard
someone out of work who knocked on the window
someone passed by on a footbridge
the dead the living it doesn’t matter
the beautiful boy who stood below the pulpit
looking like an angel almost an angel
and the one who hit me on the forehead with a stone
where a mark still remains
and the washerwoman who reappeared at our home like Kronos
and went away bent under the weight of the laundry basket
the wagon-driver with whom I danced at the harvest festival
and Someone else was there a carpenter or a woodworker
who placed a hand on my forehead
and said Don’t be afraid
with me no one is lonely

~Anna Kamieńska

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Forerunner

“It was John’s mission—and greatness—to proclaim the advent of the kingdom. Nor was he in any way unworthy to do so, he who ‘even from his mother’s womb’ was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:15). It could only mean that his particular vocation was to lead the way to the promised realm, to direct others to it, but in some special sense to remain without. One is reminded of Moses close to death, standing on Mount Nebo and looking down on the Promised Land. He is not allowed to enter. Not until he has passed through death does he come into the true land of promise (Deut. 34:1–6). For Moses this was punishment; he had failed in an hour of trial. For John it was not punishment but vocation. Everything in him cried out to be with Christ, in that kingdom of God about to dawn in Messianic abundance, ushering in the new creation. For us its bliss is unimaginable, but for the prophet, who had felt it deeply, it was the object of his most powerful longing. Yet he was not allowed to enter. No psychology, indeed no one who has not personally penetrated deep into the mystery of the divine will, can explain this. This side of death, John was to remain Precursor: herald of the kingdom.”
~Romano Guardini

Monday, December 18, 2017

Waiting


(Picture found here)
Celebrating Advent means being able to wait.
Waiting is an art that our impatient age has forgotten.

Those who do not know how it feels to anxiously struggle
with the deepest questions of life, of their life,
and to patiently look forward with anticipation
until the truth is revealed,
cannot even dream of the splendor of the moment
in which clarity is illuminated for them.

And for those who do not want to win the friendship
and love of another person—
who do not expectantly open up their soul
to the soul of the other person,
until friendship and love come,
until they make their entrance—
for such people the deepest blessing of the one life
of two intertwined souls will remain forever hidden.

Whoever does not know
the austere blessedness of waiting—
that is, of hopefully doing without—
will never experience
the full blessing of fulfillment.

For the greatest,
most profound,
tenderest things in the world,
we must wait.

It happens here not in a storm
but according to the divine laws
of sprouting, growing,
and becoming.

~Dietrich Bonhoeffer
   

Sunday, December 17, 2017

A Spotless Rose

A spotless Rose is growing
Sprung from a tender root,
Of ancient seers’ foreshowing,
Of Jesse promised fruit;
Its fairest bud unfolds to light
Amid the cold, cold winter
And in the dark midnight.

The Rose which I am singing,
Whereof Isaiah said,
Is from its sweet root springing
In Mary, purest Maid; 
For through our God’s great love and might
The blessed babe she bare us
In a cold, cold winter’s night.

~Words: Anonymous (15th Century German carol); Translated to English by Catherine Winkworth & Music: Michael Praetorius, Speier Gesangbuch, 1599

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Psalm 24(23) Domini est terra

(Of David. A psalm.)
The Lord owns earth, and all earth’s fulness, the round world, and all its inhabitants.
Who else has built it out from the sea, poised it on the hidden streams?
Who dares climb the mountain of the Lord, and appear in his sanctuary?
The guiltless in act, the pure in heart; one who never set his heart on lying tales, or swore treacherously to his neighbour.
His to receive a blessing from the Lord, mercy from God, his sure defender;
his the true breed that still looks, still longs for the presence of the God of Jacob.
Swing back, doors, higher yet; reach higher, immemorial gates, to let the King enter in triumph!
Who is this great King? Who but the Lord, mighty and strong, the Lord mighty in battle?
Swing back, doors, higher yet; reach higher, immemorial gates, to let the King enter in triumph!
Who is this great King? It is the Lord of Armies that comes here on his way triumphant. (KNOX)

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Same Promise

“Anticipation lifts the heart. Desire is created to be fulfilled – perhaps not all at once, more likely in slow stages. Isaiah uttered his prophetic words about the renewal of the natural Creation into a wilderness of spiritual barrenness and thirst. For him, and for many other Old Testament seers, the vacuum of dry indifference into which he spoke was not yet a place of fulfillment. Yet the promise of God through this human mouthpiece (and the word ‘promise’ always holds a kind of certainty) was verdant with hope, a kind of greenness and glory. A softening of hard-heartedness, a lively expectation, would herald the coming of Messiah. And once again, in this season of Advent, the same promise for the same Anointed One is coming closer.”
~Luci Shaw

Thursday, December 14, 2017

In Search of the Soul


(Monastery in Greece - found here)
Like a song from old times,
like a medieval image painted on gold leaf,
like the memory of childhood days,
the sound of the wonderful word of the soul
has grown foreign to us.

If there is still in our day—in the age of machines,
of economic battles, of the reign of fashion
and sports—something like the soul,
then it’s not just a dear childhood memory
like so many others.

The little word “soul” sounds just so wonderful and strange
in the confusion and shouting of voices that extol it;
the language is so soft and still
that we hardly hear it anymore over the raging
and roaring going on within us.
But the word speaks a language
that is full of the greatest responsibility and deepest seriousness.

~Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  

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