Blog posts

ATTENTIVENESS: An Introduction —Short Flights And Quick Returns by Leighton Ford

April 7, 2018

From The Attentive Life I am sitting on a bench at Lost Lagoon, on the edge of the hundreds and hundreds of acres of trees and trails that make up the vast Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada.  Behind me are the tall buildings of the city.  Surrounding the park on three sides are the waters of English Bay and Burrard Inlet.  In the background, clouds hover over the mountains that slope down to frame Vancouver – my favorite city in the world, at least to visit. For much of the past decade and a half I have been coming here for a summertime pilgrimage.  I call it a pilgrimage not because Vancouver is such a holy place but because I can get away from my usual routines and hopefully resharpen my attentiveness and imagination. It is a lazy [...]

EASTER: Table by Trevor Hudson

April 7, 2018

From Pauses for Pentecost When Jesus was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them. (Luke 24:30) Have you ever noticed how many times in Luke’s gospel Jesus sits around the table for a meal?  He regularly shared meals with others, whether they are Pharisees, sinners and tax collectors, or his disciples.  We learn more of what he teaches about his Heavenly parent on these occasions than from what he says in the synagogue.  Meals at the table are some of Jesus’s favorite settings for him to make visible to others the good news of God’s mercy and acceptance of all people. Not surprisingly, it is while they are having a meal around a table with the Stranger they had met on the road [...]

POETRY: In A Country Church by R. S. Thomas

April 6, 2018

To one kneeling down no word came, Only the wind’s song, saddening the lips Of the grave saints, rigid in glass; Or the dry whisper of unseen wings, Bats not angels, in the high roof. Was he balked by silence? He kneeled long, And saw love in a dark crown Of thorns blazing, and a winter tree Golden with fruit of a man’s [...]

EASTER: Burning by Trevor Hudson

April 6, 2018

From Pauses for Pentecost They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32) Many know this beautiful gospel scene well.  Two heartbroken disciples are on their way home to Emmaus from Jerusalem.  They have run out of hope.  The One they thought was the Messiah has been crucified.  While they walk, the risen Jesus joins them and enters into conversation with them.  They invite him home, break bread with him, and they recognize him.  When he vanishes from their sight, they speak excitedly about how they had felt their hearts burning within them while he spoke with them on the road.  Suddenly, they have a new and hope-filled view of [...]

HUMILITY: The Glory Of The Creature by Andrew Murray

April 5, 2018

From Humility Humility is the proper estimate of oneself. (Charles Spurgeon) They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being. (Revelation 4:10-11) When God created the universe, it was with the objective of making those he created partakers of his perfection and blessedness, thus showing forth the glory of his love and wisdom and power.  God desired to reveal himself in and through his creatures by communicating to them as much of his own goodness and glory as they were capable of receiving.  But this communication was not meant to give created beings something they could possess [...]

EASTER: Crying by Trevor Hudson

April 5, 2018

From Pauses for Pentecost Jesus asked her, “Woman why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” (John 20:15) In his telling of the early Easter-morning encounter, John describes Mary as heartbroken.  She has gone to the tomb hoping to give Jesus her last act of love by anointing his body.  To her great distress, the stone has been rolled away, and the body of Jesus is gone.  She is overcome with anguish and heartache.  Not being able to perform the final ritual is the last straw for her.  She has come to the end of her rope. It is exactly at this point, at the end of her rope, that the risen Jesus comes to her.  This is always where he comes to us.  He encounters us in our heartache and heartbreak and asks us the same [...]

CHRISTIANITY: Humor—A Hymn Forgotten by Gary M. Schimmer

April 4, 2018

From: Emmaus Road Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:24) A Hymn Forgotten Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. (Psalm 33:3) While attending divinity school, I was asked to lead the women’s Pentecost service at the congregation where I worshipped, taught catechism class, and helped to lead the youth group.  With some apprehension, I agreed, knowing that this would be my first time to preach. In preparation for this service, I worked with a retired pastor who would play the organ for this service.  In our phone conversation, we selected several hymns for all to sing. When I mentioned one of [...]

POETRY: John 21 by Katherine James

April 4, 2018

Poignant musht in a balm of fishy-charcoal, sand still cold from the night. The charred wood could write volumes on the hearts of 12, no, 11 men in tunics, veins busting from skin salty with ocean and sweat. The loved one cannot write the words, though try as he does. It’s the smell of morning and the peopled wooden boat that prevent him; anything white becomes radiant in early dawn. He hangs back and listens to words exchanged that will travel centuries, and even then settle uneven in the hearts of men. It’s all too wonderful to expect such things, but he must, so he chooses the third person as though he were someone [...]

EASTER: Joy by Trevor Hudson

April 4, 2018

From Pauses for Pentecost The women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. (Matthew 28:8) Eastertide is a time for us to open our hearts and minds more widely to the joy of God.  These women at the tomb, frightened as they are by the events that have taken place, are nonetheless filled with joy.  The joy of the risen Christ has pervaded their whole beings.  Somehow they now know deep down that, because of what has taken place in the empty tomb, ultimately all will be well. Fullness of joy characterizes Easter people.  Remember Jesus’s promises to his disciples on the night before his crucifixion: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete,” [...]

WILDERNESS: The Wilderness—Where God Provides A Healing Tree by Brian & Candice Simmons

April 3, 2018

From The Wilderness Can you imagine one day in the desert without water and having nothing for your children to drink?  As one day became three days, the Israelites were passing out, falling over, and unable to go any farther.  Their thirst consumed their every thought in every moment.  Angry, bitter, and resentful – the people began to complain to the leader, “Why is this happening if God is with us?  Why did God bring us into the desert to die of thirst?” I (Brian) can remember one long day in the Darien jungle of Panama when I had nothing to drink.  I had left the village to hunt wild pigs with the men without taking any water.  We hadn’t crossed any stream or rivers for hours, and I was thirsty!  What a stupid thing to [...]

PSALMS: Psalm 78 by W. Robert Godfrey

April 3, 2018

From Learning to Love the Psalms Psalm 78 is one of the psalms in Book Three that does not directly develop the theme of the book.  It does not express a sense of crisis in the present life of an individual or of the nation as a whole.  Rather, this psalm is a long reflection on past crises as the people of God faced several different kinds of temptation.  The psalm actually ends with a confident assertion that the coming of David was the solution to the crises of earlier times.  This expression of hope in David has the effect of heightening the problem of Book Three: If the house of David fails, what will become of us and of the promises of God? Psalm 78 begins with the language of wisdom literature.  It indicates that history is a [...]

EASTER: Ahead by Trevor Hudson

April 3, 2018

From Pauses for Pentecost “Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” (Matthew 28:7) Where are you going in the next few hours?  Our Galilee represents what we are moving toward.  Maybe you are getting ready to see a client, to attend an important business meeting, to visit a good friend, to pick up your child from school, or to visit a loved one in the hospital.  Whatever your Galilee may look like, wherever you may be going today, Christ goes ahead of you and promises to meet you there.  This is the good news of the Resurrection! When this Easter reality grasps our hearts and minds, it radically shapes how we enter [...]

ANIMA CHRISTI: Soul Of Christ (Anima Christi) by Marie Paul Curley

April 2, 2018

From Soul of Christ Soul of Christ, sanctify me. Anima Christi, santifica me. Body of Christ, save me. Corpus Christi, salva me. Blood of Christ, inebriate me. Sanguis Christi, inebria me. Water from the side of Christ, wash me. Aqua lateris Christi, lava me. Passion of Christ, strengthen me. Passio Christi, conforta me. O Good Jesus, hear me. O bone Iesu, exaudi me. Within your wounds, hide me. Intra tua vulnera, absconde me. Permit me not to be separated from you. Ne permittas me separari a te. From the malignant enemy, defend me. Ab hoste maligno, defende me. In the hour of my death, call me. In hora mortis, meae voca me. And bid me come to you, Et iube me venire ad te, That with your saints I may praise you, Ut cum sanctis tuis laudem [...]

EASTER: Angel by Trevor Hudson

April 2, 2018

From Pauses for Pentecost His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. (Matthew 28:3-6) Thankfully, we are not left alone to roll away those stones that keep us from coming alive again.  Our Resurrection story tells us that God sends us an angel to help us move them away.  Notice everything that the angel does in our gospel reading.  Besides rolling away the stone, the angel also helps the women at the empty tomb to grasp what has happened.  The angel explains to them that what [...]

PRAYER: Easter by Bernard of Clairvaux

April 2, 2018

Lord, you have passed over into new life, and you now invite us to pass over also.  In these past days we have grieved at your suffering and mourned at your death.  We have given ourselves over to repentance and prayer, to abstinence and gravity.  Now at Easter you tell us that we have died to sin.  Yet, if this is true, how can we remain on Earth?  How can we pass over to your risen life, while we are still in this world?  Will we not be just as meddlesome, just as lazy, just as selfish as before?  Will we not still be bad-tempered and stubborn, enmeshed in all the vices of the past?  We pray that as we pass over with you, our faces will never look back.  Instead, let us, like you, make Heaven on Earth. [...]

EASTER: Stone (Easter Sunday) by Trevor Hudson

April 1, 2018

From Pauses for Pentecost After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from Heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. (Matthew 28:1-2) Eastertide is all about coming alive to the mystery of our own existence, to the uniqueness and sacredness of those around us, to the unearned gifts of creation that bless us each day, and to the wondrous presence of God that fills all things.  The resurrected Jesus invites each of us to rise up into the fullness of our lives.  Right at the beginning of this journey, we need to remind ourselves that this is the good news the risen Christ [...]

POETRY: Swan by Mary Oliver

April 1, 2018

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river? Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air— An armful of white blossoms, A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies, Biting the air with its black beak? Did you hear it, fluting and whistling A shrill dark music—like the rain pelting the trees—like a waterfall Knifing down the black ledges? And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds— A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river? And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything? And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for? And have [...]

PILGRIMAGE: Saint Martin du Canigou, France—The Empty Grave by Albert Holtz

April 1, 2018

From: Pilgrim Road The gray peaks of the Pyrenees stretch out in a ragged semicircle in front of me; their lower slopes, carpeted in lush, dark green, plunge out of sight into steep chasms.  A hundred feet below my rocky perch, the tan stone buildings of the Abbey of Saint Martin du Canigou cling precariously to a rocky outcropping.  Beside the small church with its squat, square-topped bell tower and gray slate roof, the main two-story monastery basks in the morning sunshine, looking down onto the enclosed cloister garden, with its open colonnade on one side that follows the edge of a steep cliff.  At the far end of the garden is another simple two-story stone building; like a few of the others it has a red tile roof.  In the wall of [...]

POETRY: Morning Poem by Mary Oliver

April 1, 2018

Every morning the world is created. Under the orange sticks of the sun the heaped ashes of the night turn into leaves again and fasten themselves to the high branches— and the ponds appear like black cloth on which are painted islands of summer lilies. If it is your nature to be happy you will swim away along the soft trails for hours, your imagination alighting everywhere. And if your spirit carries within it the thorn that is heavier than lead— if it’s all you can do to keep on trudging— there is still somewhere deep within you a beast shouting that the earth is exactly what it wanted— each pond with its blazing lilies is a prayer heard and answered lavishly, every morning, whether or not you have ever dared to be happy, [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: 14 Jesus Is Laid In The Tomb by Caryll Houselander

March 31, 2018

From The Way of the Cross  Every birth of Christ into this world is in one sense a parting from his mother.  It must be so.  Now he is lifted from her arms by his disciples and made ready for his burial. His burial is like his birth.  When he was born his mother was in a strange city, she was not in Nazareth in the little home that she had prepared for him.  She had with her some swaddling bands to wrap him in; the beautiful little garments she had been weaving for him were left at home.  She did not know, when she and Joseph set out for Bethlehem, that years would pass before they could return, or that the wooden cradle that Joseph had made for him with such love and care, such scrupulous craftsmanship, would never be used by him [...]

SEVEN LAST WORDS OF CHRIST: Seventh Word, Witness—Margaret Mary Alacoque by Charles M. Murphy

March 31, 2018

From Eucharistic Adoration It is finished. (John 19:30) Bernard Haring, the Redemptorist priest who sought to renew moral theology by delivering it from the categories of canon law to the language of the gospel, wrote this regarding the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus inspired by the life and witness of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque: History shows that devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a great love of the Eucharist are inseparable.  Jesus, who gave us this memorial of his sacrificial and atoning love, is now present in the Eucharist to bestow on us the wonderful pledge of the love of his heart.  It is especially in the Eucharist that he offers us an exchange of heart, conforming our hearts to his heart. The life of Margaret [...]

PILGRIMAGE: Padua, Italy—Waiting In Hope by Albert Holtz

March 31, 2018

From: Pilgrim Road According to my guide book, the long rough wall a few yards to my left was built by the Romans.  That makes it sort of recent – Padua, the oldest city in northern Italy, was supposedly founded around 1200 BC by a Trojan prince, and Paduans boast of once having won a battle against the Spartans. My walk through Padua this morning is making for a pleasant if jumbled tour of the halls of history: ancient Roman walls rub elbows with renaissance facades, while modern buildings stand alongside a few that date back to the Middle Ages. With the Roman wall already behind me now, my map shows that I have to stroll several more blocks before I get to my next stop, the basilica built in honor of the city’s most famous citizen, [...]

SEVEN LAST WORDS OF CHRIST: Sixth Word, Witness—Mother Teresa of Calcutta by Charles M. Murphy

March 30, 2018

From Eucharistic Adoration I thirst. (John 19:28) Mother Teresa recalled that it was on a train journey to Darjeeling, on September 10, 1946, that she received a second vocation within religious life, “a vocation to give up even Loreto where I was very happy and to go out in the streets to serve the poorest of the poor.”  In 1928 she had left her home in Albania to join the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland who, at her request, assigned her to teach in India.  She felt an overwhelming desire not just to teach the poor in school and then send them home but also to go live among them and experience herself the poverty in which they lived.  September 10 is observed as “Inspiration Day,” the true beginning of the Missionaries of Charity [...]

POETRY: Lead by Mary Oliver

March 30, 2018

Here is a story to break your heart. Are you willing? This winter the loons came to our harbor and died, one by one, of nothing we could see. A friend told me of one on the shore that lifted its head and opened the elegant beak and cried out in the long, sweet savoring of its life which, if you have heard it, you know is a sacred thing, and for which, if you have not heard it, you had better hurry to where they still sing. And, believe me, tell no one just where that is. The next morning this loon, speckled and iridescent and with a plan to fly home to some hidden lake, was dead on the shore. I tell you this to break your heart, by which I mean only that it break open and never close again to the rest of the [...]

PILGRIMAGE: Fatima Parish, Santa Cruz, Bolivia—Waving Your Palm by Albert Holtz

March 30, 2018

From: Pilgrim Road In the open-air market here in Santa Cruz, in the semi-tropical center of Bolivia, I’ve seen the dried llama fetuses that one buries in the foundation of a new house to ward off evil.  In the center of town, I’ve marveled at the old women who sit on the sidewalk patiently waiting all day for someone to buy one or two of the oranges they’ve put on the blanket in front of them.  On my long walks from the rectory I’ve watched shiny new Porsches dodge around burro-powered carts on the highway.  A few days ago, on Palm Sunday, I saw little children sitting at the gate of the churchyard selling palms before Mass.  Nothing surprises me anymore now that I’ve been here for over a week. So I’m not shocked to see a [...]

SEVEN LAST WORDS OF CHRIST: Fifth Word, Witness—Bless John Paul II by Charles M. Murphy

March 29, 2018

From Eucharistic Adoration Woman, this is your son. Son, this is your mother. (John 19:27) As the second millennium of the birth of Christ drew near, Pope John Paul II issued a reflection upon the Mother of the Redeemer.  Citing the Second Vatican Council, he recalls that the church in the course of history “proceeds along the path already trodden by the Virgin Mary who ‘advanced in her pilgrimage of faith and loyally persevered in her union with her son unto the cross.’”  There, he says, “Mary’s motherhood is a gift, a gift which Christ himself makes personally to every individual.” Karol Wojtyla’s life was characterized by devotion to the mother of God who, he believed, saved him when he lost his own mother at the age [...]

POETRY: Singapore by Mary Oliver

March 29, 2018

In Singapore, in the airport, a darkness was ripped from my eyes. In the women’s restroom, one compartment stood open. A woman knelt there, washing something in the white bowl. Disgust argued in my stomach and I felt, in my pocket, for my ticket. A poem should always have birds in it. Kingfishers, say, with their bold eyes and gaudy wings. Rivers are pleasant, and of course trees. A waterfall, or if that’s not possible, a fountain rising and falling. A person wants to stand in a happy place, in a poem. When the woman turned I could not answer her face. Her beauty and her embarrassment struggled together, and neither could win. She smiled and I smiled. What kind of nonsense is this? Everybody needs a job. Yes, a person wants to stand in [...]

PILGRIMAGE: El Bosque, Bolivia—Washing Feet by Albert Holtz

March 29, 2018

From: Pilgrim Road Night is falling fast on the outskirts of Santa Cruz, Bolivia.  Our taxi turns off the busy main road and starts to bounce past patches of semitropical woods where cinder block shacks huddle together in groups as if looking for moral support.  In the front seat, next to the driver, sits Gertulio, a Brazilian catechist.  I’m in the back with a seminarian named Carlos who has volunteered to come out here and help me celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass.  I’ve never been the chief celebrant on Holy Thursday – but at least I have said Mass in Spanish three times before. We jolt to a stop at the edge of a wide, dark field.  Mass kit in hand, I climb out of the cab and tramp through the high grass, the taxi’s [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: 13 Jesus Is Taken Down From The Cross by Caryll Houselander

March 28, 2018

From The Way of the Cross  While the soldiers divided Christ’s garments among them and cast lots for his seamless cloak, Mary, his mother, she who had woven that beautiful cloak “from the top throughout,” came with other holy women and stood at the foot of the cross.  “So it was, then, that the soldiers occupied themselves; and meanwhile his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen, had taken their stand beside the cross of Jesus,” (John 19:24-25). She had followed him through the narrow streets of Jerusalem as one of the crowd.  He did not speak to her in the crowd as he did to the women who wept over him; neither did he then give her a visible sign of his love as he did to Saint Veronica when he [...]

SEVEN LAST WORDS OF CHRIST: Fourth Word, Witness—Blessed John XXIII by Charles M. Murphy

March 28, 2018

From Eucharistic Adoration Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. (Luke 23:46) Behind the genial smile and peasant simplicity of Angelo Roncalli, Pope John XXIII, was a closely guarded secret, his soul and the constant soul work in which he was so seriously engaged all his life.  From 1895, when he was fourteen, until 1962, a few months before his death at eighty-one – a span of almost seventy years – he kept a daily journal to which he later gave the title Il Giornale dell’ Anima (The Journal of a Soul).  In it he was constantly talking with God and placing himself at God’s disposal. His life was a public one and far removed from the contemplative sphere: secretary to his bishop in Bergamo, spiritual director at the local [...]