Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Barking

The moon comes up.
The moon goes down.
This is to inform you
that I didn’t die young.
Age swept past me
but I caught up.
Spring has begun here and each day
brings new birds up from Mexico.
Yesterday I got a call from the outside
world but I said no in thunder.
I was a dog on a short chain
and now there’s no chain.

~Jim Harrison

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Supernatural Basis

“Today we can see it on all sides as the active negation of all that Western culture has stood for. Civilization - and by this I do not mean talking cinemas and tinned food, nor even surgery and hygienic houses, but the whole moral and artistic organization of Europe - has not in itself the power of survival. It came into being through Christianity, and without it has no significance or power to command allegiance. The loss of faith in Christianity and the consequential lack of confidence in moral and social standards have become embodied in the ideal of a materialistic, mechanized state . . . It is no longer possible . . . to accept the benefits of civilization and at the same time deny the supernatural basis upon which it rests.”
~Evelyn Waugh

Monday, May 22, 2017

World Into Fragments

Small breaks first: cup on marble floor,
mirror on staircase, cracked watch-face,
hairlines in roof tiles. Then it escalates.

Plate windows shiver into diamonds,
smoked office towers smoke into tobacco heaps,
screens give way to white noise, then blow.

Reasons for this shattering include
too great a tension, too much shrill,
a world more fragile than we thought.

Yet still it goes, ear-splitting, as
great forests disassemble like mosaics,
sugar-glass trees turn shingle, then the sky,

sun and moon as vast burst bulbs,
hot torrential hail. And when it stops,
we see for real, as if through mud and spit.

~Michael Symmons Roberts

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Importance of Prayer

“Without prayer salvation is impossible. To neglect it is to neglect the only means given us to remain in touch with Almighty God; if we lose hold of Him we necessarily fall back upon ourselves, and in ourselves we can find nothing that can advance us towards eternal life.

...

The difficulty in prayer is not in prayer itself. It all comes from our want of decision in electing definitely to find our unique satisfaction of mind, will and imagination in the supernatural and in definitely renouncing the tendency to seek in the natural world any form of satisfaction that does not lead to God.

...

Many will plead that they find the spiritual life a difficulty, because they find prayer a difficulty. The truth is that men begin to find prayer a difficulty when they have begun to find God a difficulty. This comes when God has ceased to interest them because other things have begun to interest them more.”
~Edward Leen

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Happiness and Gratitude

“The very fury with which people go on seeking pleasure is a proof that they have not found it.”
~G. K. Chesterton

“No one can obtain felicity by pursuit. This explains why one of the elements of being happy is the feeling that a debt of gratitude is owed, a debt impossible to pay. Now, we do not owe gratitude to ourselves. To be conscious of gratitude is to acknowledge a gift.”

“...each gratification points to the ultimate one, and that all happiness has some connection with eternal beatitude. Some connection, if only this: that every fulfillment this side of Heaven instantly reveals its inadequacy. It is immediately evident that such satisfactions are not enough; they are not what we have really sought; they cannot really satisfy us...”
~Josef Pieper

Friday, May 19, 2017

Religion, Government, Society...

“There is now a false idealism of turning Government into God, by a vague notion that it gives everything to everybody; to the denial of the liberty given by God, which is called life...”

“Religious liberty might be supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion. In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it.”
~G. K. Chesterton

“Wherever politics tries to be redemptive, it is promising too much. Where it wishes to do the work of God, it becomes not divine, but demonic.”
~Benedict XVI

“A people may also lose its religion and become secularized. Without a religion, however, a culture cannot long survive. Secularization is inevitably a sign of ‘social decay;’ since religion provides the principle of inner cohesion for a society, a secular society will sooner or later disintegrate.”
~Christopher Dawson

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Burst Our Bubble

“...suffering and even crisis is our normal situation. The bubble of pain-free and ordered living that we modern Americans think of as our normal state is highly abnormal judged by historical standards. In most cultures throughout human history, people could expect to experience monthly about the same amount of physical pain most of us encounter in a lifetime. Remember, for instance, that anesthetics and pills were invented only about a century ago.

This is probably one of the reasons why people in scientifically advanced cultures tend to be more secular and people in scientifically primitive cultures tend to be more religious: not because religion is based on scientific ignorance or because any scientific discovery has ever disproved a single doctrine of the Christian faith; but because science’s child, technology, has conquered or mitigated so many of life’s pains and limitations that it has put us into this soundproofed bubble that God has to burst just to get our attention. As C. S. Lewis put it, ‘God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world’ (The Problem of Pain).”
~Peter Kreeft

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Inner Life

“The ‘whole good’ cannot be had, it would seem, without mustering all the strength of our inner life. Even in the sphere of external possessions there are goods which inherently demand, if they are to be truly ours, far more of us than mere acquisition. ‘My garden,’ the rich man said; his gardener smiled.”
~Josef Pieper

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Encouragement

“He is in no real danger. He merely suffers from a lethargy, a sickness that is common among the depressed. He has forgotten who he really is, but he will recover, for he used to know me, and all I have to do is cloud the mist that beclouds his vision.”
~Boethius

Monday, May 15, 2017

Peasants Versus Philosophers

“It wasn’t that they didn’t take an interest in the world around them. On the contrary, they had a deep, personal and passionate involvement in it, but instead of asking, ‘Why are we here?’ they asked, ‘Is it going to rain before the harvest?’

A philosopher might have deplored this lack of mental ambition, but only if he was really certain about where his next meal was coming from.”
~Terry Pratchett

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day 2017

I am a tree
     Strong limbed and deeply rooted
     My fruit is bittersweet
     I am your mother
~from “Trees” by Walter Dean Myers

Oh, if instead she’d left to me
     The thing she took into the grave!—
     That courage like a rock, which she
     Has no more need of, and I have.
~from “The courage that my mother had” by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I want my conscience to be
     true before you;
     want to describe myself like a picture I observed
     for a long time, one close up,
     like a new word I learned and embraced,
     like the everday jug,
     like my mother’s face,
     like a ship that carried me along
     through the deadliest storm.
~from “I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone” by Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, May 13, 2017

First and Second Adam

“The holy Apostle has told us that the human race takes its origin from two men, Adam and Christ; two men equal in body but unequal in merit, wholly alike in their physical structure but totally unlike in the very origin of their being. The first man, Adam, he says, became a living soul, the last Adam a life-giving spirit. The first Adam was made by the last Adam, from whom he also received his soul, to give him life. The last Adam was formed by his own action; he did not have to wait for life to be given him by someone else, but was the only one who could give life to all. The first Adam was formed from valueless clay; the second Adam came forth from the precious womb of the Virgin. In the case of the first Adam, earth was changed into flesh; in the case of the second Adam, flesh was raised up to be God.

What more need be said? The second Adam stamped his image on the first Adam when he created him. That is why he took on himself the role, and the name, of the first Adam, in order that he might not lose what he had made in his own image. The first Adam, the last Adam; the first had a beginning, the last knows no end. The last Adam is indeed the first; as he himself says: I am the first and the last.

I am the first, that is, I have no beginning. I am the last, that is, I have no end. But what was spiritual, says the Apostle, did not come first; what was living came first, then what is spiritual. The earth comes before its fruit, but the earth is not so valuable as its fruit. The earth exacts pain and toil; its fruit bestows subsistence and life. The prophet rightly boasted of this fruit: Our earth has yielded its fruit. What is this fruit? The fruit referred to in another place: I will place upon your throne one who is the fruit of your body. The first man, says the Apostle, was made from the earth and belongs to the earth; the second man is from heaven, and belongs to heaven.

The man made from the earth is the pattern of those who belong to the earth; the man from heaven is the pattern of those who belong to heaven. How is it that these last, though they do not belong to heaven by birth, will yet belong to heaven, men who do not remain what they were by birth but persevere in being what they have become by rebirth? The reason is, brethren, that the heavenly Spirit, by the mysterious infusion of his light, gives fertility to the womb of the virginal font. The Spirit brings forth as men belonging to heaven those whose earthly ancestry brought them forth as men belonging to the earth, and in a condition of wretchedness; he gives them the likeness of their Creator. Now that we are reborn, refashioned in the image of our Creator, we must fulfill what the Apostle commands: So, as we have worn the likeness of the man of earth, let us also wear the likeness of the man of heaven.

Now that we are reborn, as I have said, in the likeness of our Lord, and have indeed been adopted by God as his children, let us put on the complete image of our Creator so as to be wholly like him, not in the glory that he alone possesses, but in innocence, simplicity, gentleness, patience, humility, mercy, harmony, those qualities in which he chose to become, and to be, one with us.”
~St. Peter Chrysologus (380 – 450 AD)
(Sermon 117: PL 52, 520-521)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Pray for them...

“Love sinners, but hate their deeds, and do not disdain sinners for their failings, so that you yourself do not fall into the temptation in which they abide... Do not be angry at anyone and do not hate anyone, neither for their faith, nor for their shameful deeds... Do not foster hatred for the sinner, for we are all guilty... Hate his sins, and pray for him, so that you may be made like unto Christ, who had no dislike for sinners, but prayed for them.”
~St. Isaac the Syrian

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Ultimate Questions

“...a young, agnostic medical student named Walker Percy discovered—through debilitating illness and then deep reading of Christian philosophy—that science, which he once viewed as the final word on everything, could not answer the ultimate questions. Modern science, he later wrote (after becoming Catholic), ‘is itself radically incoherent, not when it seeks to understand things and subhuman organisms and the cosmos itself, but when it seeks to understand man, not man’s physiology or neurology or his bloodstream, but man qua man, man when he is peculiarly human. In short, the sciences of man are incoherent.’ And in a self-interview, ‘Questions They Never Asked Me,’ Percy put it this way:

This life is much too much trouble, far too strange, to arrive at the end of it and then be asked what you make of it and have to answer, ‘Scientific humanism.’ That won’t do. A poor show. Life is a mystery, love is a delight. Therefore, I take it as axiomatic that one should settle for nothing less than the infinite mystery and infinite delight; i.e., God.

We can either have an earth-bound and cramped system, or Truth Himself. The former offers trendy marches and Bill Nye rants; the latter offers infinite mystery and infinite delight.”
~Carl Olson

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Opposite Dangers

“There is for the Christian community, at a time like ours, two opposite dangers: the danger of seeking sanctity only in the desert, and the danger of forgetting the necessity of the desert for sanctity . . . Christian heroism has not the same sources as other heroisms; it proceeds from the heart of a God scourged and ridiculed, crucified outside the gates of the city.”
~Jacques Maritain

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Security

“Security in what comes last gives serenity in what comes before.”
~Romano Guardini

Monday, May 8, 2017

Eat You Alive

he said to me,
child, I’m afraid for your soul
these things that you’re after, they can’t be controlled
this beast that you’re after will eat you alive
and spit out your bones

she’ll string you along and she’ll sell you a lie
but there’s nothing but pain on the edge of a knife
there is no courage in flirting with fear
to prove you’re alive

I’ve seen the true face of the things you call Life
the voice of the siren that holds your desires
but Death, she is cunning, and clever as hell
and she’ll eat you alive

oh, she’ll eat you alive

~Tyler Heath and Maggie Heath

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Good Shepherd

My Savior the good Shepherd is,
He’ll never leave the flock.
The One Who truly loves the sheep,
Became the Lamb of God.
Despised, afflicted in my stead,
He spent His soul for me.
And to the slaughter He was led,
That I not thirsty be.

My Shepherd is the Lamb of God,
He calls to me each day,
To drink the waters flowing free,
From His pierced side of grace.
Yet when I stray or choose my way,
He still would search for me,
And bring me home on shoulders strong.
Do I not His love see?

My Shepherd’s face is how I live,
I love to look at Him.
Though He might lead through shearing trial,
But still I follow Him.
Just as the Father’s presence cheered
Him through each suffering day,
’Tis once I saw His tender care
That here I want to stay.

Oh, Father thank You for Your Son,
He shares Your heart for us.
That gladly He would bear us to
The bosom of Your love.
No greater Shepherd could there be,
That He would not lose one!
And lead us all to dwell with You.
Sweet Pasture, Living Stream.

~Found here: https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/ns/89

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Has That Break Come?

“The worst pains we experience are not those of the suffering itself but of our stubborn resistance to it, our resolute insistence on our independence. To be ‘crucified with Christ’ means what Oswald Chambers calls ‘breaking the husk’ of that independence. ‘Has that break come?’ he asks. ‘All the rest is pious fraud.’”
~Elisabeth Elliott (re-post)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Be in the Resistance

“I do not think any efforts of my own will can end once and for all this craving for limited liabilities, this fatal reservation. Only God can. I have good faith and hope He will. Of course, I don't mean I can therefore, as they say, ‘sit back.’ What God does for us, He does in us. The process of doing it will appear to me (and not falsely) to be the daily or hourly repeated exercises of my own will in renouncing this attitude, especially each morning, for it grows all over me like a new shell each night. Failures will be forgiven; it is acquiescence that is fatal, the permitted, regularised presence of an area in ourselves which we still claim for our own. We may never, this side of death, drive the invader out of our territory, but we must be in the Resistance, not the Vichy government. And this, so far as I can yet see, must be begun again every day. Our morning prayer should be that in the Imitation: Da hodie perfecte incipere - grant me to make an unflawed beginning today, for I have done nothing yet.”
~C. S. Lewis

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Communion with God

“God gives His communion to all who love Him. Communion with God is life and light and sweetness with all the good things that He has. But those who of their own will forsake him he rewards with separation from Him, which they themselves have chosen. As separation from light is darkness, so also alienation from God is deprivation of all good things which He has. But the good things of God are eternal and without end, so that the loss of them is eternal and without end. Thus sinners shall be the cause of their own torments, just as the blind do not see the light, although it is shining on them.”
~St. Irenaeus

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Shadowing the Medivac

He's already in the car, an hour's drive
he can't allow himself to think, just drive
in the helicopter's shadow peeling

silently over the hills, silently, like nothing
is happening inside, nothing going on,
can't think of anything newborn

zooming through the sky, an ounce of brain
racked by seizures, blue-skinned, underweight
and Swiss cheese for a heart.    

What's in the rearview, eh? Anything coming?
Cars? Trucks? Glare and a crab-red face deformed
with thoughts of beats and breathing tubes,

and ahead, old magazines on tables, waiting rooms
where doctors lead men and women into offices to sob
oh my god oh god oh jesus no...

And some of the most beautiful scenery in this country
can be found along our many well-maintained highways.
Shield rock, tamarack swamp and pine groves

line the winding thoroughfares between our cities. He is still
driving, he can see the city coming up. The helicopter
must have arrived already, in Toronto, where they fiddle

inside her rib cage with the sanitary version of a bicycle tire
repair kit....and he's on his way to the hospital, he'll get there,
he's coming, he's keeping his eye on the road.

~Paul Vermeersch

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Spirituality and Work

“It seems to me, though, that such corporate efforts are misguided. There is no need to add ‘spirituality’ to work; human work itself is already a spiritual act. It is a form of spirituality. It is only by confronting the daily demands of work that we deepen our interior dynamism. Upon impact with the world that is ‘other,’ our dynamism configures the demands or needs that define our human identity, such as the quest for justice, truth, beauty, and fulfillment. It is this that links us with the Infinite. This is the realm of an authentic human spirituality. Therefore, it is not that spirituality ‘adds’ something to work, or improves performance, or makes it barely tolerable. Instead, work itself is meant to become a spiritual act and this happens when it is experienced as being at the service of the quest for the Infinite.

We are often called upon to do ‘mindless’ work. But our spiritual task is to transform it. Emptying the trash can be considered mindless, but if I see it as a contribution to the well-being of my family, it can be immensely significant for me.”
~Lorenzo Albacete

Monday, May 1, 2017

Flower Head

Perched on the high end of its
spinal stalk the brain blooms
like a pink cabbage rose

Peel back the blunt bone like a bud—
it will be meaty to touch, the
corolla folding in, folding in to echo
within the sepal skull
a blink of light, logarithms, a view
of ships in harbor, a word just now
rescued by memory, clipped arbor vitae
how it smells—spiced

Here God lives, burrowing among
the petals, cross-
pollinating. Here is Christ's mind
juiced, joined, fleshed, celled.
Here is the clash,
the roil, an invasion, not gentle
as dew; the rose is unfurled
violently until the scent explodes
and detonates in the air

And oh, it trembles—
thousands of seeds ripen in it as
it reels in the wind

~Luci Shaw

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Jesus Is Risen! Let Us Sing!

Jesus is risen! Let us sing!
Praise to the ever-living King!
     Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise him in song, ye Seraphim!
Praise him with joy, ye Cherubim!
     Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

On this most holy day of days,
Let us together sing his praise!
     Alleluia! Alleluia!
Raise joyful voices to the sky!
Sing out, ye heavens, in reply:
     Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

To God the Father let us sing,
To God the Son, our risen King!
     Alleluia! Alleluia!
And equally let us adore
The Holy Spirit evermore!
     Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Tune: Laßt Uns Erfreuen L.M. with alleluias
Music: Auserlesene Catholische Geistliche Kirchgesänge, Köln, 1623
Text: Compilers, 1978

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Saint Francis and the Sow

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;  
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;  
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch  
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow  
began remembering all down her thick length,  
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,  
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine  
down through the great broken heart
to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering  
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

~Galway Kinnell

Friday, April 28, 2017

Acts 5:34-42

A Pharisee in the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel,
   a teacher of the law, respected by all the people,
   stood up, ordered the Apostles to be put outside for a short time,
   and said to the Sanhedrin, “Fellow children of Israel,
   be careful what you are about to do to these men.
Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be someone important,
   and about four hundred men joined him, but he was killed,
   and all those who were loyal to him
   were disbanded and came to nothing.
After him came Judas the Galilean at the time of the census.
He also drew people after him,
   but he too perished and all who were loyal to him were scattered.
So now I tell you,
   have nothing to do with these men, and let them go.
For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin,
   it will destroy itself.
But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them;
   you may even find yourselves fighting against God.”
They were persuaded by him.
After recalling the Apostles, they had them flogged,
   ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus,
   and dismissed them.
So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin,
   rejoicing that they had been found worthy
   to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.
And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes,
   they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Christ, Jesus.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bridge


(Picture found here)
Most of my life was spent
building a bridge out over the sea
though the sea was too wide.
I’m proud of the bridge
hanging in the pure sea air. Machado
came for a visit and we sat on the
end of the bridge, which was his idea.
Now that I’m old the work goes slowly.
Ever nearer death, I like it out here
high above the sea bundled
up for the arctic storms of late fall,
the resounding crash and moan of the sea,
the hundred-foot depth of the green troughs.
Sometimes the sea roars and howls like
the animal it is, a continent wide and alive.
What beauty in this the darkest music
over which you can hear the lightest music of human
behavior, the tender connection between men and galaxies.
So I sit on the edge, wagging my feet above
the abyss. Tonight the moon will be in my lap.
This is my job, to study the universe
from my bridge. I have the sky, the sea, the faint
green streak of Canadian forest on the far shore.

~Jim Harrison
  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Follow Jesus Christ

“Made for spirituality, we wallow in introspection. Made for joy, we settle for pleasure. Made for justice, we clamor for vengeance. Made for relationship, we insist on our own way. Made for beauty, we are satisfied with sentiment. But new creation has already begun. The sun has begun to rise. Christians are called to leave behind, in the tomb of Jesus Christ, all that belongs to the brokenness and incompleteness of the present world ... That, quite simply, is what it means to be Christian: to follow Jesus Christ into the new world, God’s new world, which he has thrown open before us.”
~N. T. Wright

Monday, April 24, 2017

Ritual

“The modern habit of doing ceremonial things unceremoniously is no proof of humility; rather it proves the offender’s inability to forget himself in the rite, and readiness to spoil for every one else the proper pleasure of ritual.”
~C. S. Lewis

Sunday, April 23, 2017

All Ye That Seek The Lord Who Died

All ye that seek the Lord Who died,
Your God for sinners crucified,
Prevent the earliest dawn, and come
To worship at His sacred tomb.
Bring the sweet spices of your sighs,
Your contrite hearts, and streaming eyes,
Your sad complaints, and humble fears;
Come, and embalm Him with your tears.

While thus ye love your souls t’employ,
Your sorrow shall be turned to joy:
Now, let all your grief be o’er!
Believe, and ye shall weep no more.
An earthquake hath the cavern shook,
And burst the door, and rent the rock;
The Lord hath sent His angel down,
And he hath rolled away the stone.

As snow behold his garment white,
His countenance as lightning bright:
He sits, and waves a flaming sword,
And waits upon his rising Lord.
The third auspicious morn is come,
And calls your Savior from the tomb,
The bands of death are torn away
The yawning tomb gives back its prey.

The Lord of Life is risen indeed,
To death delivered in your stead;
His rise proclaims your sins forgiv’n,
And show the living way to Heav’n.
Go tell the followers of your Lord
Their Jesus is to life restored;
He lives, that they His life may find;
He lives, to quicken all mankind.

~Words: Charles Wesley & Music: Wenzel Müller

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Town of Spring Once Again

“Spring is always like what it used to be.”
Said an old Chinese man.
Rain hissed down the windows.
Longings from a great distance.
Reached us.

~Anne Carson

Friday, April 21, 2017

Story in Icons


(Weeping Outside of Paradise - found here)

(Harrowing of Hades - found here)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bright Week

Bright Week, Pascha Week or Renewal Week (Greek: Διακαινήσιμος Ἑβδομάς) is the name used by the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Rite Catholic Churches for the period of seven days beginning on Pascha (Easter) and continuing up to (but not including) the following Sunday, which is known as Thomas Sunday.

The entire week following Pascha is to be set aside by Orthodox Christians for the celebration of the Resurrection. “...from the holy day of the Resurrection of Christ our God until New Sunday (i.e. Thomas Sunday) for a whole week the faithful in the holy churches should continually be repeating psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, rejoicing and celebrating Christ, and attending to the reading of the Divine Scriptures and delighting in the Holy Mysteries. For in this way shall we be exalted with Christ; raised up together with Him.”

The entire week is considered to be one continuous day. The name of each day of the week is called “Bright” (e.g., “Bright Monday”) and the week's services are unique, varying greatly from those during the remainder of the year.

During all of Bright Week the Holy Doors on the Iconostasis are kept open—the only time of the year when this occurs. The open doors represent the stone rolled away from the Tomb of Christ, and the Epitaphios (Slavonic: Plashchanitza), representing the burial clothes, is visible through them on the Holy Table (altar). The doors are closed before the Ninth Hour on the eve of Thomas Sunday. However, the Afterfeast of Pascha will continue until the eve of the Ascension. (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bright_Week)

("Resurrected Christ" - St. Isaac's Cathedral, St. Petersburg, Russia - found here)

(St. Isaac's Cathedral, St. Petersburg, Russia - found here)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Divine Mysteries

“Those to whom Christ has given light as He has risen, to them He has appeared spiritually, He has been shown to their spiritual eyes. When this happens to us through the Spirit He raises us up from the dead and gives us life. He grants us to see Him, who is immortal and indestructible. More than that, He grants clearly to know Him who raises us up (Eph. 2:6) and glorifies us (Rom. 8:17) with Himself, as all the divine Scripture testifies. These, then, are the divine mysteries of Christians. This is the hidden power of our faith, which unbelievers, or those who believe with difficulty, or rather believe in part, do not see nor are able at all to see.”
~St. Symeon

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

On the Lord’s Resurrection

“Let God’s people then recognize that they are a new creation in Christ, and with all vigilance understand by Whom they have been adopted and Whom they have adopted. Let not the things, which have been made new, return to their ancient instability; and let not him who has ‘put his hand to the plough’ forsake his work, but rather attend to that which he sows than look back to that which he has left behind. Let no one fall back into that from which he has risen, but, even though from bodily weakness he still languishes under certain maladies, let him urgently desire to be healed and raised up. For this is the path of health through imitation of the Resurrection begun in Christ, whereby, notwithstanding the many accidents and falls to which in this slippery life the traveller is liable, his feet may be guided from the quagmire on to solid ground, for, as it is written, ‘the steps of a man are directed by the Lord, and He will delight in his way. When the just man falls he shall not be overthrown, because the Lord will stretch out His hand.’”
~St. Leo the Great

Monday, April 17, 2017

A New Spring

“...Their poor ointments, with which they meant to preserve from corruption Him who Himself keeps the heavens from decay, and with which they desired to anoint Him from whom the heavens take their fragrance! O most fragrant Lord, the only fragrance of the human being and human history; how wondrously didst Thou reward these devoted and faithful souls who did not forget Thee dead in Thy tomb! Thou didst make the Myrrh-Bearing Women the bearers of the tidings of Thy Resurrection and Thy glory! They did not anoint Thy dead body, but Thou didst anoint their living souls with the oil of gladness. The mourners of the dead became the swallows of a new spring.”
~St. Nikolai Velimirovic

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sunday Hymn

Thine Is The Glory

Thine is the glory,
Risen, conqu’ring Son;
Endless is the victory,
Thou o’er death hast won;
Angels in bright raiment
Rolled the stone away,
Kept the folded grave clothes
Where Thy body lay.

Refrain:
Thine is the glory,
Risen conquering Son,
Endless is the victory,
Thou o’er death hast won.

Lo! Jesus meets us,
Risen from the tomb;
Lovingly He greets us,
Scatters fear and gloom;
Let the church with gladness,
Hymns of triumph sing;
For her Lord now liveth,
Death hath lost its sting.

Refrain

No more we doubt Thee,
Glorious Prince of life;
Life is naught without Thee;
Aid us in our strife;
Make us more than conquerors,
Through Thy deathless love:
Bring us safe through Jordan
To Thy home above.

Refrain

~Words: Edmond Budry (Translated from French to English by Richard Hoyle) & Music: George F. Handel

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Holy Saturday

My brothers, it was to us that this message of salvation was sent forth. The inhabitants of Jerusalem and their rulers failed to recognize him, and in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets which we read sabbath after sabbath. Even though they found no charge against him which deserved death, they begged Pilate to have him executed. Once they had brought about all that had been written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. Yet God raised him from the dead.
~Acts 13:26-30

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday Hymn

Jesus, Our Savior, Lord Of All the Nations

Refrain:
Hear us, almighty Lord, show us your mercy
Sinners, we stand here before you.

Jesus, our Savior, Lord of all the nations,
Christ our Redeemer, hear the prayers we offer,
Spare us and save us, comfort us in sorrow.

Refrain

Word of the Father, keystone of God’s building,
Source of our gladness, gateway to the Kingdom,
Free us in mercy from the sins that bind us.

Refrain

God of compassion, Lord of might and splendor,
Graciously listen, hear our cries of anguish.
Touch us, and heal us where our sins have wounded.

Refrain

Humbly confessing that we have offended,
Stripped of illusions, naked in our sorrow,
Pardon, Lord Jesus, those your blood has ransomed.

Refrain

Innocent captive, you were led to slaughter,
Sentenced by sinners when they brought false witness.
Keep from damnation those your death has rescued.

Refrain:
Hear us, almighty Lord, show us your mercy
Sinners, we stand here before you.

Tune: Attende Domine 11.11.11 with Refrain
Music: Gregorian, Mode V
Text: Latin, tenth century
Translation: Ralph Wright, OSB, 1938-

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Sonnet for Maundy Thursday

Here is the source of every sacrament,
The all-transforming presence of the Lord,
Replenishing our every element
Remaking us in his creative Word.
For here the earth herself gives bread and wine,
The air delights to bear his Spirit’s speech,
The fire dances where the candles shine,
The waters cleanse us with His gentle touch.
And here He shows the full extent of love
To us whose love is always incomplete,
In vain we search the heavens high above,
The God of love is kneeling at our feet.
Though we betray Him, though it is the night.
He meets us here and loves us into light.

~Malcolm Guite

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Cost

“It cost God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things: but to convert rebellious wills cost Him crucifixion.”
~C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Cross


                              The Cross
                               The form
                                Of Love
                                 Is still
                    A King dead upon a hill.
            Oh what is Love that yet does kill!
                                So fierce
                                In bloom:
                               That Love
                                 Which
                                  broke
                              The tomb!

                       ~a Carthusian monk
  

Monday, April 10, 2017

Indifference


(Picture found here)
When Jesus came to Golgotha
They hanged Him on a tree,
They drave great nails through hands and feet,
And made a Calvary.
They crowned Him with a crown of thorns;
Red were His wounds and deep,
For those were crude and cruel days,
And human flesh was cheap.

When Jesus came to Birmingham,
They simply passed Him by;
They never hurt a hair of Him,
They only let Him die.
For men had grown more tender,
And they would not give Him pain;
They only just passed down the street,
And left Him in the rain.

Still Jesus cried, “Forgive them,
For they know not what they do.”
And still it rained the winter rain
That drenched Him through and through.
The crowds went home and left the streets
Without a soul to see;
And Jesus crouched against a wall
And cried for Calvary.

~G. A. Studdert Kennedy
   

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Stranger of Galilee

In fancy I stood by the shore, one day,
Of the beautiful murm’ring sea;
I saw the great crowds as they thronged the way
Of the Stranger of Galilee;
I saw how the man who was blind from birth,
In a moment was made to see;
The lame was made whole by the matchless skill
Of the Stranger of Galilee.

Refrain 1-3:
And I felt I could love Him forever,
So gracious and tender was He!
I claimed Him that day as my Savior,
This Stranger of Galilee.

His look of compassion, His words of love,
They shall never forgotten be;
When sin-sick and helpless He saw me there,
This Stranger of Galilee;
He showed me His hand and His riven side,
And He whispered, “It was for thee!”
My burden fell off at the pierced feet
Of the Stranger from Galilee. [Refrain]

I heard Him speak peace to the angry waves,
Of that turbulent, raging sea;
And lo! at His word are the waters stilled,
This Stranger of Galilee;
A peaceful, a quiet, and holy calm,
Now and ever abides with me;
He holdeth my life in His mighty hands,
This Stranger of Galilee. [Refrain]

Come, ye who are driven and tempest-tossed,
And His gracious salvation see;
He’ll quiet life’s storms with His “Peace, be still!”
This Stranger of Galilee;
He bids me to go and the story tell—
What He ever to you will be,
If only you let Him with you abide,
This Stranger of Galilee.

Refrain 4:
Oh, my friend, won’t you love Him forever?
So gracious and tender is He!
Accept Him today as your Savior,
This Stranger of Galilee.

Author: Mrs. C. H. Morris (1893)
Tune: [In fancy I stood by the shore, one day]

Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Photographer


(Picture found here)
It may be best to start recalling the origin of this word.
In Greek, “photo” meaning light.
And “graphein” was writing, drawing.
A photographer is literally someone drawing with light.
Someone who writes and rewrites the world with light and shadow.
~Sebastião Salgado
 

Friday, April 7, 2017

More Wisdom from the Desert

“Abbot Pastor was asked by a certain brother: How should I conduct myself in the place where I live? The elder replied: Be as cautious as a stranger; wherever you may be, do not desire your word to have power before you, and you will have rest.”
~Desert Fathers

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Falsehood

“Falsehood – and only falsehood – separates us from God ... false thoughts, false words, false feelings, false desires – Behold the aggregate of lies that leads us to non-being, illusion, and rejection of God.”
~St. Nicholas of Serbia

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

If the Son frees you, then you will truly be free

Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him,
“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,
   and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham
   and have never been enslaved to anyone.
How can you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
   everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.
A slave does not remain in a household forever,
   but a son always remains.
So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free.
I know that you are descendants of Abraham.
But you are trying to kill me,
   because my word has no room among you.
I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence;
   then do what you have heard from the Father.”

They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.”
Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children,
   you would be doing the works of Abraham.
But now you are trying to kill me,
   a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God;
Abraham did not do this.
You are doing the works of your father!”
So they said to him, “We were not born of fornication.
We have one Father, God.”
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me,
   for I came from God and am here;
   I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”

~John 8:31-42

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Bad Days

When Passion week started and Jesus
Came down to the city, that day
Hosannahs burst out at his entry
And palm leaves were strewn in his way.

But days grow more stern and more stormy.
No love can men's hardness unbend;
Their brows are contemptuously frowning,
And now comes the postscript, the end.

Grey, leaden and heavy, the heavens
Were pressing on treetops and roofs.
The Pharisees, fawning like foxes,
Were secretly searching for proofs.

The lords of the Temple let scoundrels
Pass judgement, and those who at first
Had fervently followed and hailed him,
Now all just as zealously cursed.

The crowd on the neighbouring sector
Was looking inside through the gate.
They jostled, intent on the outcome,
Bewildered and willing to wait.

And whispers and rumours were creeping,
Repeating the dominant theme.
The flight into Egypt, his childhood
Already seemed faint as a dream.

And Jesus remembered the desert,
The days in the wilderness spent,
The tempting with power by Satan,
That lofty, majestic descent.

He thought of the wedding at Cana,
The feast and the miracles; and
How once he had walked on the waters
Through mist to a boat, as on land;

The beggarly crowd in a hovel,
The cellar to which he was led;
How, started, the candle-flame guttered,
When Lazarus rose from the dead...

~Boris Pasternak

Monday, April 3, 2017

On Interior Humility

“...nothing so tends to humble us before the Mercy of God as the multitude of His gifts to us; just as nothing so tends to humble us before His Justice as the multitude of our misdeeds. Let us consider what He has done for us, and what we have done contrary to His Will, and as we review our sins in detail, so let us review His Grace in the same. There is no fear that a perception of what He has given you will puff you up, so long as you keep steadily in mind that whatever is good in you is not of yourself. Do mules cease to be clumsy, stinking beasts because they are used to carry the dainty treasures and perfumes of a prince? ‘What hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now, if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?’ [1 Cor. iv. 7] On the contrary, a lively appreciation of the grace given to you should make you humble, for appreciation begets gratitude. But if, when realising the gifts God has given you, any vanity should beset you, the infallible remedy is to turn to the thought of all our ingratitude, imperfection, and weakness. Any one who will calmly consider what he has done without God, cannot fail to realise that what he does with God is no merit of his own; and so we may rejoice in that which is good in us, and take pleasure in the fact, but we shall give all the glory to God Alone, Who Alone is its Author.”
~St. Francis de Sales

Sunday, April 2, 2017

There Were Ninety And Nine

There were ninety and nine that safely lay
in the shelter of the fold,
but one was out on the hills away,
far off from the gates of gold —
away on the mountains wild and bare,
away from the tender Shepherds care,
away from the tender Shepherds care.

“Lord, thou hast here thy ninety and nine;
are they not enough for thee?
But the Shepherd made answer:
“This of mine has wandered away from me,
and although the road be rough and steep,
I go to the desert to find my sheep,
I go to the desert to find my sheep.”

But none of the ransomed ever knew
how deep were the waters crossed;
nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed thro
ere he found his sheep that was lost.
Out in the desert he heard its cry —
sick and helpless, and ready to die,
sick and helpless, and ready to die.

“Lord, whence are those blood-drops all the way
that mark out the mountains track?
“They were shed for one who had gone astray
ere the Shepherd could bring him back.”
“Lord, whence are thy hands so rent and torn?”
“Theyre pierced tonight by many a thorn,
theyre pierced tonight by many a thorn.”

But all thro the mountains, thunder-rivn,
and up from the rocky steep,
there arose a glad cry to the gate of heavn,
“Rejoice! I have found my sheep!
And the angels echoed around the throne,
“Rejoice, for the Lord brings back his own!
Rejoice, for the Lord brings back his own!”

Author: Elizabeth Clephane (1868)
Tune: [There were ninety and nine that safely lay] (Sankey)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

On Greater Humility

“Some people are proud and conceited because they ride a fine horse, wear a feather in their hat, and are expensively dressed, but who can fail to see their folly, or that if any one has reason to be proud over such things, it would be the horse, the bird, and the tailor!

...A well-conditioned mind will not throw away its powers upon such sorry trifles as rank, position or outward forms—it has other things to do, and will leave all that to meaner minds. He who can find pearls will not stop to pick up shells; and so a man who aims at real goodness will not be keen about outward tokens of honour. Undoubtedly every one is justified in keeping his own place, and there is no want of humility in that so long as it is done simply and without contention.”
~St. Francis de Sales

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Just One

The wicked said among themselves,
   thinking not aright:
“Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
   he sets himself against our doings,
Reproaches us for transgressions of the law
   and charges us with violations of our training.
He professes to have knowledge of God
   and styles himself a child of the LORD.
To us he is the censure of our thoughts;
   merely to see him is a hardship for us,
Because his life is not like that of others,
   and different are his ways.
He judges us debased;
   he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure.
He calls blest the destiny of the just
   and boasts that God is his Father.
Let us see whether his words be true;
   let us find out what will happen to him.
For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him
   and deliver him from the hand of his foes.
With revilement and torture let us put him to the test
   that we may have proof of his gentleness
   and try his patience.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death;
   for according to his own words, God will take care of him.”
These were their thoughts, but they erred;
   for their wickedness blinded them,
and they knew not the hidden counsels of God;
   neither did they count on a recompense of holiness
   nor discern the innocent souls’ reward.
~Wisdom 2:1a, 12-22

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Seven in the Woods

Am I as old as I am?
Maybe not. Time is a mystery
that can tip us upside down.
Yesterday I was seven in the woods,
a bandage covering my blind eye,
in a bedroll Mother made me
so I could sleep out in the woods
far from people. A garter snake glided by
without noticing me. A chickadee
landed on my bare toe, so light
she wasn’t believable. The night
had been long and the treetops
thick with a trillion stars. Who
was I, half-blind on the forest floor
who was I at age seven? Sixty-eight
years later I can still inhabit that boy’s
body without thinking of the time between.
It is the burden of life to be many ages
without seeing the end of time.
~Jim Harrison

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Patience

“‘Ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the Will of God, ye might receive the promise,’ says Saint Paul; and the Saviour said, ‘In your patience possess ye your souls.’ The greatest happiness of any one is ‘to possess his soul;’ and the more perfect our patience, the more fully we do so possess our souls. Call often to mind that our Saviour redeemed us by bearing and suffering, and in like manner we must seek our own salvation amid sufferings and afflictions; bearing insults, contradictions and troubles with all the gentleness we can possibly command. Do not limit your patience to this or that kind of trial, but extend it universally to whatever God may send, or allow to befall you. Some people will only bear patiently with trials which carry their own salve of dignity,—such as being wounded in battle, becoming a prisoner of war, being ill-used for the sake of their religion, being impoverished by some strife out of which they came triumphant. Now these persons do not love tribulation, but only the honour which attends it. A really patient servant of God is as ready to bear inglorious troubles as those which are honourable. A brave man can easily bear with contempt, slander and false accusation from an evil world; but to bear such injustice at the hands of good men, of friends and relations, is a great test of patience...

Be patient, not only with respect to the main trials which beset you, but also under the accidental and accessory annoyances which arise out of them. We often find people who imagine themselves ready to accept a trial in itself who are impatient of its consequences. We hear one man say, ‘I should not mind poverty, were it not that I am unable to bring up my children and receive my friends as handsomely as I desire.’ And another says, ‘I should not mind, were it not that the world will suppose it is my own fault;’ while another would patiently bear to be the subject of slander provided nobody believed it. Others, again, accept one side of a trouble but fret against the rest—as, for instance, believing themselves to be patient under sickness, only fretting against their inability to obtain the best advice, or at the inconvenience they are to their friends. But, dear child, be sure that we must patiently accept, not sickness only, but such sickness as God chooses to send, in the place, among the people, and subject to the circumstances which He ordains;—and so with all other troubles. If any trouble comes upon you, use the remedies with which God supplies you. . . . If He pleases to let the evil be remedied, thank Him humbly; but if it be His will that the evil grow greater than the remedies, patiently bless His Holy Name.”
~St. Francis de Sales

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Out of Mercy

“The flood of temporal things draws us after itself, but in this flood there is, as it were, a full-grown tree: our Lord Jesus Christ. He took flesh, died, and ascended to heaven. It is as if He agreed to be in the flood of the temporal. Is this stream dragging you headlong? Hold on to Christ. He became temporal for you, so that you might become eternal, for He became temporal in such a way that He remained eternal. What difference is there between two men in a prison when one of them is a convict and the other a visitor! Sometimes a man comes to visit his friend, and it seems that both are in prison, but there is a great difference between them. One of them is held there because of guilt, while the other has come out of love for mankind. Thus it is with our mortality: guilt holds us here, but Christ had come out of mercy. He came freely into bondage, and not as a convict.”
~St. Augustine

Monday, March 27, 2017

Mystery

“But if You fill heaven and earth, do they contain You? Or do You fill them, and yet have much over since they cannot contain You? Is there some other place into which that overplus of You pours that heaven and earth cannot hold? Surely You have no need of any place to contain You. . . . It is true that all things cannot wholly contain You: but does this mean that they contain part of You? . . . But are there in You parts greater and smaller? Or are You not in every place at once in the totality of Your being, while yet nothing contains You wholly?” (1/3/3, p. 4)

“What then is my God? . . .
most merciful and most just,
utterly hidden and utterly present,
most beautiful and most strong . . . ,
suffering no change and changing all things:
never new, never old, making all things new, . . .
ever in action, ever at rest,
gathering all things to Thee and needing none; . . .
ever seeking though lacking nothing.
Thou lovest without subjection to passion,
Thou art jealous but not with fear . . .
angry yet unperturbed by anger.” (1/4/4, pp. 4-5)

~St. Augustine (Confessions)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Infinite Blessedness

“...Accustom yourself to the idea, my Brethren, and a terrible idea it is, that the state of sin is a demoniacal possession. Consider how such a possession of the body is spoken of in Scripture. Consider how the devil tormented the poor suffering body which he was allowed to get hold of. Then consider, what we may so often see now, what a fearful affliction madness is. Then, when you have considered these two things, and got a clear hold of the idea, think that sin is just such a possession of the heart and spirit. It is not that the body is afflicted, as in the case of a demoniac. It is not that the reason is afflicted, as in the case of a madman. But it is that the spirit, the heart, the affections, the conscience, the will, are in the power of an evil spirit, who sways them about at his pleasure. How awful is this!

...All is darkness here, all is bright in heaven. All is disorder here, all is order there. All is noise here, and there there is stillness, or if sounds are heard, they are the sweet sounds of the eternal harps on which the praises of God are sung. Here we are in a state of uncertainty: we do not know what is to happen. The Church suffers; her goodly portion, and her choice inheritance suffer; the vineyard is laid waste; there is persecution and war; and Satan rages and afflicts when he cannot destroy. But all this will be set right in the world to come, and if St. Peter could say at the Transfiguration ‘It is good to be here,’ much more shall we have cause to say so when we see the face of God. For then we shall be like our Lord Himself, we shall have glorified bodies, as He had then, and has now. We shall have put off flesh and blood, and receive our bodies at the last day, the same indeed, but incorruptible, spiritual bodies, which will be able to see and enjoy the presence of God in a way which was beyond the three Apostles in the days of their mortality. Then the envious malignant spirit will be cast out, and we shall have nothing to fear, nothing to be perplexed at, for the Lord God shall lighten us, and encompass us, and we shall be in perfect security and peace. Then we shall look back upon this world, and the trials, and temptations which are past, and what thankfulness, what joy will not rise within us—and we shall look forward; and this one thought will be upon us that this blessedness is to last for ever. Our security has no limit. It is not that we shall be promised a hundred years of peace, or a thousand, but for ever and ever shall we be as we are, for our happiness and our peace will be founded in the infinite blessedness and peace of God, and as He is eternal and happy, so shall we be.”
~John Henry Newman

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Real Love

“...Christian life requires a willingness to love. And I don’t mean ‘love’, the theory, or ‘love’, the warm feeling. I mean ‘love’, the act of will, the act of courage. Real love is always expensive. Real love is always anchored in the truth about ourselves and about others. And while the truth will make us free, nobody said it would make us comfortable. The truth is that the world is a sinful place, and we’re part of that sinfulness.

...In a way, all Christians are caught in a seeming dilemma, between the stars God calls us to reach for, and the clay we’re made of. God asks us to acknowledge all of our many sins, but then He insists that we trust in His love anyway, believe in our dignity anyway, follow Him anyway, and sanctify the world anyway. And that means that if we try to do what seems so improbable—to love as Jesus loved—we’re going to struggle and sometimes fail, and in failing, we’ll experience the disdain of the world.

So it has always been. When the prophet Isaiah tells us that the Spirit of God has anointed him to ‘bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound’ (Is 61:1), he doesn’t talk about the cost, because he’s consumed with the reward of serving God—and rightly so. But Isaiah was also a sinner like the rest of us, and from the Scriptures we know that people rejected him the same way they rejected every other prophet.

The cost of discipleship can be high. Real love is always beautiful but also humbling. It asks us to listen to the needs of others and to choose what’s best for them first. It asks us to admit our sins and repent of them, but it also offers the solace that we not be deterred by them. This is why discipleship is not for the fainthearted, and Christian life is an adventure meant for the brave. God needs people of selflessness and character. God needs men and women who will help Him remake the world, who will allow Him to make them into a holy people, something more than what they are without Him.

...Today, Jesus asks each of us, not just those of us who are priests, to be His Father’s word becoming flesh through the witness of our lives. It’s through our witness—despite all our failures but guided, lifted up, and encouraged by our pastors who share our same struggles—that Christ sanctifies the world. When people see and hear us, they should see and hear Jesus Christ; and through Jesus, they will encounter the Father who loves them despite their sins, and our sins.”
~Charles Chaput

Friday, March 24, 2017

Jesus Self-identifies

The Least:
Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
~Matthew 25:45

The Church:
Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”
~Acts 9:1-5

Thursday, March 23, 2017

True Hope Seeks Only The Kingdom

“If a man has no worries about himself at all for the sake of love toward God and the working of good deeds, knowing that God is taking care of him, this is a true and wise hope. But if a man takes care of his own business and turns to God in prayer only when misfortunes come upon him which are beyond his power, and then he begins to hope in God, such a hope is vain and false. A true hope seeks only the Kingdom of God... the heart can have no peace until it obtains such a hope. This hope pacifies the heart and produces joy within it.”
~St. Seraphim of Sarov

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Connection

“...theology must be approached prayerfully, and not as if it were an objective science.”

“When theology is connected with adoration of God, love of God, expectation of his love, humble seeking of the Holy Spirit’s help (the Spirit ‘will guide you into all the truth,’ John 16:13), it is like plugging a lamp into a socket. The circuit is made, and your mind—your receptive, perceptive mind, not the analytical one—is flooded with illumination.

But if no connection with God is sought, if it’s just you and your high IQ, you’re left with a lamp that may well be complicated or aesthetically pleasing, but it isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do. And if you get too absorbed in studying the rivets that hold the lamp together, and arguing with other experts about the metal composition of the lamp, it can be actually detrimental to your mind. You can latch onto theological ideas that are, in fact, not accurate, and refuse to let them go...”
~Frederica Mathewes-Green

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Watch and Pray

“But if a man is in earnest in wishing to get at the depths of his own heart, to expel the evil, to purify the good, and to gain power over himself, so as to do as well as know the Truth, what is the difficulty?—a matter of time indeed, but not of uncertainty is the recovery of such a man. So simple is the rule which he must follow, and so trite, that at first he will be surprised to hear it. God does great things by plain methods; and men start from them through pride, because they are plain. This was the conduct of Naaman the Syrian. Christ says, ‘Watch and pray;’ herein lies our cure. To watch and to pray are surely in our power, and by these means we are certain of getting strength. You feel your weakness; you fear to be overcome by temptation: then keep out of the way of it. This is watching. Avoid society which is likely to mislead you; flee from the very shadow of evil; you cannot be too careful; better be a little too strict than a little too easy,—it is the safer side. Abstain from reading books which are dangerous to you. Turn from bad thoughts when they arise, set about some business, begin conversing with some friend, or say to yourself the Lord's Prayer reverently. When you are urged by temptation, whether it be by the threats of the world, false shame, self-interest, provoking conduct on the part of another, or the world's sinful pleasures, urged to be cowardly, or covetous, or unforgiving, or sensual, shut your eyes and think of Christ's precious blood-shedding. Do not dare to say you cannot help sinning; a little attention to these points will go far (through God's grace) to keep you in the right way. And again, pray as well as watch. You must know that you can do nothing of yourself; your past experience has taught you this; therefore look to God for the will and the power; ask Him earnestly in His Son's name; seek His holy ordinances. Is not this in your power? Have you not power at least over the limbs of your body, so as to attend the means of grace constantly? Have you literally not the power to come hither; to observe the Fasts and Festivals of the Church; to come to His Holy Altar and receive the Bread of Life? Get yourself, at least, to do this; to put out the hand, to take His gracious Body and Blood; this is no arduous work;—and you say you really wish to gain the blessings He offers. What would you have more than a free gift, vouchsafed ‘without money and without price?’ So, make no more excuses; murmur not about your own bad heart, your knowing and resolving, and not doing. Here is your remedy.”
~John Henry Newman

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Restoration Of Culture

“Our Lord explains in the Parable of the Sower that the seed of His love will only grow in a certain soil—and that is the soil of Christian Culture, which is the work of music in the wide sense, including as well as tunes that are sung, art, literature, games, architecture—all so many instruments in the orchestra which plays day and night the music of lovers; and if it is disordered, then the love of Christ will not grow. It is an obvious matter of fact that here in the United States now, the Devil has seized these instruments to play a danse macabre, a dance of death, especially through what we call the ‘media,’ the film, television, radio, record, book, magazine and newspaper industries. The restoration of culture, spiritually, morally, physically, demands the cultivation of the soil in which the love of Christ can grow, and that means we must, as they say, rethink priorities.”
~John Senior

Sunday, March 19, 2017

My Food Is To Do His Will

Meanwhile, the disciples urged Him, “Rabbi, eat.”
But He said to them,
   “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
So the disciples said to one another,
   “Could someone have brought Him something to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
   “My food is to do the will of the one who sent Me
   and to finish His work.
Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’?
I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest.
The reaper is already receiving payment
   and gathering crops for eternal life,
   so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together.
For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’
I sent you to reap what you have not worked for;
   others have done the work,
   and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”
~John 4:31-38