Blog posts

POETRY: A Letter, by Wendell Berry

June 14, 2017

(to Ed McClanahan) Dear Ed, I dreamed that you and I were sent to Hell. The place we went to was not fiery or cold, was not Dante’s Hell or Milton’s, but was, even so, as true a Hell as any. It was a place unalterably public in which crowds of people were rushing in weary frenzy this way and that, as when classes change in a university or at quitting time in a city street, except that this place was wider far than we could see, and the crowd as large as the place. In that crowd every one was alone. Every one was hurrying. Nobody was sitting down. Nobody was standing around. All were rushing so uniformly in every direction, so uniformly frantic, that to average them would have stood them still. It was a place deeply disturbed. [...]

CHRISTIAN MYSTICISM: An Introduction by Bernard McGinn

June 14, 2017

From Comparative Mysticism The term” mysticism” is a modern one.  It first appeared in the seventeenth century in French as “la mystique” (literally “mystics”), indicating a separate branch of theology akin to that which treated of Christian doctrine (i.e., “dogmatics”).  Mysticism does not seem to have been widely used, either academically or popularly, before the nineteenth century.  The appropriateness of the word to describe aspects of Christian belief and practice prior to 1600 is defensible, but by no means as simple as sometimes supposed. One of the reasons why the task is not easy is because contemporary readers often understand “mysticism” as a special form of [...]

POETRY: Mustard Seed by Meister Eckhart

June 14, 2017

I. In the Beginning High above understanding Is ever the Word. O rich treasure, There the Beginning always bore the Beginning. O Father’s Breast, From thy delight The Word ever flows! Yet the bosom Retains the Word, truly. II. From the two as one source, The fire of love. The bond of both, Known to both, Flows the All-Sweet Spirit Co-equal, Undivided The Three are One. Do you understand why? No. It best understands itself. III. The bond of three Causes deep fear. Of this circle There is no understanding. Here is a depth without ground. Check and mate To time, forms, place! The wondrous circle Is the Principle, Its point never moves. IV. The mountain of this point Ascend without activity. O intellect! The road leads you Into a [...]

PSALMS: The Law, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

June 13, 2017

The three psalms (1, 19, 119) which in a special way make the law of God the object of thanks, praise, and petition seek to show us, above all, the blessing of the law.  Under “law,” then, is to be understood usually the entire salvation act of God and the direction for a new life in obedience.  Joy in the law and in the commands of God comes to us if God has given the great new direction to our life through Jesus Christ.  That God could at one time conceal his command from me (Psalm 119:19), that he could allow me one day not to recognize his will, is the deepest anxiety of the new life. It is grace to know God’s commands.  They release us from self-made plans and conflicts.  They make our steps certain and our way [...]

POETRY: A Romance On The Psalm “By The Waters Of Babylon” by John Of The Cross

June 13, 2017

(Psalm 137) By the rivers of Babylon I sat down weeping, there on the ground. And remembering you, O Zion, whom I loved, in that sweet memory I wept even more. I took off my feastday clothes and put on my working ones; I hung on the green willows all the joy I had in song, putting it aside for that which I hoped for in you. There love wounded me and took away my heart. I begged love to kill me since it had so wounded me; I threw myself in its fire knowing it burned, excusing now the young bird that would die in the fire. I was dying in myself, breathing in you alone. I died within myself for you and for you I revived, because the memory of you gave life and took it away. The strangers among whom I was captive rejoiced; they asked me to [...]

ANGELS: Servants Of Love by Martin Shannon

June 13, 2017

From: All God’s Angels Then the Lord God said, “See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” – therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken.  He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22-24) According to the Book of Job, the angels – referred to as “the morning stars” and “the sons of God” – sang and shouted with joy when God laid the foundations of the Earth (Job 38:2-7).  This means that, [...]

THE LORD’S PRAYER: Glory, by Evelyn Underhill

June 12, 2017

Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory.  The prayer in which is contained the whole movement of man’s interior life, the substance of his communion with God, is summed up in this delighted declaration of the independent perfection, the unspeakable transcendence of the Holy.  Before that reality, that majesty, that energy, that splendor, his own needs, his own significance, vanish.  Abba, Father.  It is true that the Infinite God is the Father of my soul, that I have a certain kinship with the Abiding, a privilege of cooperation.  Higher than my highest, He is yet nearer than my inmost part.  But in the last resort, I stand entranced and abased before the majesty, the otherness of that Infinite God. “He calleth the [...]

MUSIC: Music And Metaphor by Thomas H. Troeger

June 12, 2017

From: Music As Prayer I am indebted to my friend and colleague Martin Jean for introducing me to this Kendall Walton quotation that summarizes many of the ways we describe the expressive qualities of music: We call passages of music exuberant, agitated, serene, timid, calm, determined, nervous. We speak of rising and falling melodies, of wistful melodies and hurried rhythms, or motion and rest, of leaps, skips, and stepwise progression, of statements and answering phases, tension and release, resignation and resolve, struggle, uncertainty, and arrival. Music can be impetuous, powerful, delicate, sprightly, witty, majestic, tender, arrogant, peevish, spirited, yearning, chilly. As we listen to it we imagine agitation or nervousness, [...]

PRAYER: For The Trinity by Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite

June 12, 2017

Most exalted Trinity, divinity above all knowledge, whose goodness passes understanding, who guides Christians to divine wisdom; direct our way to the summit of your mystical oracles, most incomprehensible, most lucid and most exalted, where the simple and pure and unchangeable mysteries of theology are revealed in the darkness, clearer than light; a darkness that shines brighter than light, that invisibly and intangibly illuminates with splendors of inconceivable beauty the soul that sees not. Let this be my prayer. [...]

POETRY: Trinitie Sunday by George Herbert

June 11, 2017

Lord, who hast form’d me out of mud And hast redeem’d me through thy bloud, And sanctifi’d me to do good; Purge all my sinnes done heretofore: For I confesse my heavie score, And I will strive to sinne no more. Enrich my heart, mouth, hands in me, With faith, with hope, with charitie; That I may runne, rise, rest with [...]

SERMON: The Mysteriousness Of Our Present Being by John Henry Newman

June 11, 2017

[Preached on Trinity Sunday] I will praise Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well. (Psalm 139:14) In the very impressive Psalm from which these words are taken, this is worth noticing among other things,—that the inspired writer finds in the mysteries without and within him, a source of admiration and praise. “I will praise Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Thy works.” When Nicodemus heard of God’s wonderful working, he said, “How can these things be?” But holy David glories in what the natural man stumbles at. It awes his heart and imagination, to think that God sees him, wherever he is, yet without provoking or [...]

PRAYER: Prayer To The Trinity by Frederick Denison Maurice

June 11, 2017

Most blessed and glorious Trinity, three Persons in one God, teach us to worship and adore that absolute Trinity, that perfect Unity. And that we may adore thee, that our worship may not be a mockery, make us to know that we are one in Christ, as the Father is one with the Son, and the Son with the Father. Suffer us not to look upon our sectarianism as if it were a destiny. Help us to regard it as a rebellion against thee. Help us to see all distinctions more clearly in the light of thy everlasting love. Help us to recognize the truth of every effort to express something of that which passes knowledge. Help us to feel and confess the feebleness of our own efforts. So may thy holy name embrace us more and more. So may all creatures in [...]

POETRY: Look It Over by Wendell Berry

June 10, 2017

I leave behind even my walking stick. My knife is in my pocket, but that I have forgot. I bring no car, no cell phone, no computer, no camera, no CD player, no fax, no TV, not even a book. I go into the woods. I sit on a log provided at no cost. It is the earth I’ve come to, the earth itself, sadly abused by the stupidity only humans are capable of but, as ever, itself. Free. A bargain! Get it while it [...]

SPIRITUALITY: In The Beginning Was The Trinity…, by Gregory Collins

June 10, 2017

From Meeting Christ in his Mysteries (Introduction) Christ’s whole Earthly life – his words and deeds, his silences and sufferings, indeed his manner of being and speaking – is revelation of the Father.  Christ’s whole life is a mystery of redemption.  Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross, but this mystery is at work throughout Christ’s entire life. (Catechism of the Catholic Church) What was visible in our Redeemer has passed over into the sacramental mysteries. (Pope Saint Leo the Great) The mysteries of Christ are our mysteries. (Blessed Columba Marmion) These quotations introduce the guiding idea of this book: the mystery of Christ through which we are called into union with God [...]

PRAYER: The Praises Of The Trinity by Francis of Assisi

June 10, 2017

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty, Who is and who was and who is to come. Let us praise and exalt him above all for ever. Worthy are you, O Lord our God, to receive praise, glory, honor, and blessing. Let us praise and exalt him above all for ever. Worthy is the lamb that was slain to receive power and divinity, wisdom and strength, honor, glory, and blessing. Let us praise and exalt him above all for ever. Let us bless the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Let us praise and exalt him above all for ever. All the works of the Lord, now bless the Lord. Let us praise and exalt him above all for ever. Praise God, all of you his servants, and you that fear him, both small and great. Let us praise and exalt him above all for ever. Let [...]

THE HOLY SPIRIT: Ruach, the Spirit’s Name by Raniero Cantalamessa

June 9, 2017

From: Come, Creator Spirit The literal translation of the first verse of the Veni Creator says: Come, Creator Spirit, visit the minds of those who are yours; fill with Heavenly grace the hearts that you have made. The theme of this introductory meditation will be two words of the first line of the Veni Creator: “Come, Spirit,” especially, “Spirit.”  Normally, the first thing we learn about a person is his or her name.  We use the name to call that person, and the name sorts that person out in our mind from all the other people we know.  The Third Person of the Trinity also has a name, even though, as we shall see, it is a very special king of name.  He is called, “Spirit.” Spirit, however, is a [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: Veni Creator

June 9, 2017

Come, Creator Spirit, visit the minds of those who are yours; fill with Heavenly grace the hearts that you have made. You who are named the Paraclete, gift of God most high, living fountain, fire, love and anointing for the soul. You are sevenfold in your gifts, you are finger of God’s right hand, you, the Father’s solemn promise putting words upon our lips. Kindle a light in our senses, pour love into our hearts, infirmities of this body of ours overcoming with strength secure. The enemy drive from us away, peace then give without delay; with you as guide to lead the way we avoid all cause of harm. Grant we may know the Father through you, and come to know the Son as well, and may we always cling in faith to you, the Spirit of them [...]

HONESTY: The Piece Of String by Guy de Maupassant

June 8, 2017

It was market day, and from all the country round Goderville the peasants and their wives were coming toward the town. The men walked slowly, throwing the whole body forward at every step of their long, crooked legs. They were deformed from pushing the plow which makes the left shoulder higher, and bends their figures sideways from reaping the grain, when they have to spread their legs so as to keep on their feet. Their starched blue blouses, glossy as though varnished, ornamented at collar and cuffs with a little embroidered design and blown out around their bony bodies, looked very much like balloons about to soar, whence issued two arms and two feet. Some of these fellows dragged a cow or a calf at the end of a rope. And just behind the [...]

HEALING: Good Old Uncle George by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn

June 8, 2017

From: Good Goats I (Dennis) grew up with an image of God that resembled Good Old Uncle George, as described by Gerard Hughes. God was a family relative, much admired by Mum and Dad, who described him as very loving, a great friend of the family, very powerful and interested in all of us.  Eventually we are taken to visit “Good Old Uncle George.”  He lives in a formidable mansion, is bearded, gruff, and threatening.  We cannot share our parents’ professed admiration for this jewel in the family.  At the end of the visit, Uncle George addressed us.  “Now listen, dear,” he begins, looking very severe, “I want to see you here once a week, and if you fail to come, let me just show you what will happen to [...]

POETRY: Echoes, by Louise Glück

June 7, 2017

1. Once I could imagine my soul I could imagine my death. When I imagined my death my soul died. This I remember clearly. My body persisted. Not thrived, but persisted. Why I do not know. 2. When I was still very young my parents moved to a small valley surrounded by mountains in what was called the lake country. From our kitchen garden you could see the mountains, snow covered, even in summer. I remember peace of a kind I never knew again. Somewhat later, I took it upon myself to become an artist, to give voice to these impressions. 3. The rest I have told you already. A few years of fluency, and then the long silence, like the silence in the valley before the mountains send back your own voice changed to the voice of nature. This silence [...]

JESUS: Confirmed Call, by Mark G. Boyer

June 7, 2017

Scripture:God’s divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.  Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble.  For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you. (2 Peter 1:3-4, 10-11) Reflection:The Second Letter of Peter is best described as an essay or literary [...]

POETRY: Descend From Your Head Into Your Heart, by Theophan the Recluse

June 7, 2017

You must descend from your head into your heart. At present your thoughts of God are in your head. And God himself is, as it were, outside you, and so your prayer and other spiritual exercises remain exterior. Whilst you are still in your head, thoughts will not easily be subdued but will always be whirling about, like snow in winter or clouds of mosquitoes in [...]

PSALMS: The Creation, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

June 6, 2017

The scripture proclaims God to be the Creator of Heaven and Earth.  Many psalms summon us to bring him honor, praise, and thanksgiving.  There is, however, no single psalm which speaks only of the creation.  It is always the God who has already revealed himself to his people in his word who is said to be known as the Creator of the world.  Because God has spoken to us, because God’s name has been revealed to us, we can believe in him as the Creator.  Otherwise we could not know him.  The creation is a picture of the power and the faithfulness of God, which he has demonstrated to us in his revelation in Jesus Christ.  We worship the Creator who has revealed himself as the Redeemer. Psalm 8 praises the name of God and his [...]

JESUS: God Speaks, by Mark G. Boyer

June 6, 2017

  Scripture:Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.  He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word.  When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:1-4) Reflection:According to the anonymous author of Hebrews, God has been speaking even before there was anyone to hear his words!  The author proceeds to outline a [...]

POETRY: Blessed Is The Man, by Marianne Moore

June 6, 2017

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2) who does not sit in the seat of the scoffer— the man who does not denigrate, depreciate, denunciate; who is not “characteristically intemperate,” who does not “excuse, retreat, equivocate; and will be heard.” (Ah, Giorgione! there are those who mongrelize and those who heighten anything they touch; although it may well be that if Giorgione’s self-portrait were not said to be he, it might not take my fancy. Blessed the geniuses who know that egomania is not a [...]

THE LORD’S PRAYER: Prevenience, by Evelyn Underhill

June 5, 2017

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  May that strange directive power of which from time-to-time we are conscious as the controlling factor of life have pity on our weakness and lead us out of confusion into peace. This abject confession of helplessness seems at first sight to be meant for the untried and bewildered neophyte, in whom the gifts of the Spirit have not yet had time to grow.  Actually, it is the culmination of the prayer which was given to the Church of God in the persons of her Apostles; those through whom the sanctification of human history was to be set going, the handful of men to whom we owe our Christian inheritance.  It is this picked band, these channels of the Spirit, already surrendered to the [...]

JESUS: God’s Choice, by Mark G. Boyer

June 5, 2017

  Scripture:Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you Corinthians were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.  He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:26-30) Reflection:In his First Letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells the Corinthians that they would not have called fellow Corinthians, but [...]

JESUS: Finding Another, by Mark G. Boyer

June 4, 2017

  Scripture:Jesus decided to go to Galilee.  He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”  Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.  Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus, son of Joseph from Nazareth.”  Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  Philip said to him, “Come and see.” (John 1:43-45) Reflection:John the Baptist is the model of pointing out Jesus to others.  Philip is the model of finding another and bringing him or her to Jesus.  It is important to notice the pattern: Jesus finds Philip, who finds Nathanael.  Once Philip has found Nathanael [...]

BLESSING: Blessing To Prepare For Pentecost, by Peter John Cameron

June 3, 2017

Word of God To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. (1 Corinthians 12:7) Blessing of the Manifestation of the Holy Spirit Before the Holy Spirit came, the humanity of Christ, to which human affection clung, needed to be taken away from before the eyes of the disciples.  We were not able to receive both Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and neither could we endure the presence of both. (Saint Augustine) Come, Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, finding us in a state of deformity, restores our original beauty and fills us with his grace, leaving no room for anything unworthy of his love. (Didymus of Alexandria) Come, Holy Spirit. The presence of the gift of the Holy Spirit is the fuller the greater a person’s [...]