Virtues

POETRY: My Silence Is The Lord, by Paul Quenon

May 24, 2017

My silence is the Lord, I listen, his silence speaks at all time. When I listen not, my hearing is filled with words and my tongue takes to rambling. My resting place is the Lord a hideaway on a mountain height. The lonely seek and find him. My resting place is the Lord, a low valley by the runlet. All humble steps lead there. “Turn in to my place and sit quietly. Drink from my stream and my vintage. Cast off your shoes, discard your hardships and listen to my evening song: “I seek a heart that is simple. With the peaceful I spread my tent. I will wash your feet and dry them, my silence will be their perfume. “In your quiet steps I will follow. None will know whence we come and where we go. To the world you will be my [...]

VIRTUES: The Tunings Of Faith

May 21, 2017

The word, faith, is said a lot. At least in my world. But almost every time it is named, it is done in its own unique way. Have faith. Have faith in me. Have faith in God. Your faith can move mountains. Your faith can set you free. Your faith will be rewarded. Your faith has made you well. We live by faith. Walk in faith. And so on and on and on. But the one phrase that has me truly confounded is: Faith is a gift. Period. Just the statement.  No explanation. Faith is a gift. It might be mentioned that it is given to us by God. So what is the deal exactly?  God is sitting around one day and looks down at me and thinks to himself, That’s it!  I’ll give Julia some faith! Does it come wrapped? Do I find it under my pillow when I [...]

COURAGE: What Will I Do When They Find Out I’m Me?, by Walter Anderson

May 18, 2017

From: Courage is a Three Letter Word It was Good Friday, April 17, 1981, and I had just asked John Ehrlichman why he had not committed suicide. He sat across from me at a small table in a rear corner of Danny Stradella’s Restaurant on East Forty-Sixth Street in Manhattan. We had walked there from my office, which was only a half-block away. Our conversation was polite, correct. As we spoke I wondered whether I had made a mistake by agreeing to meet this former presidential aide, a character I remembered from the Watergate hearings in 1973 as arrogant, contemptuous – frankly, to my mind, a man who had threatened my country. Yet, there he sat, now bearded and bespectacled, only inches from me. “My life is different today,” he [...]

BLESSING: This Day We Say Grateful, by Jan Richardson

May 12, 2017

From: The Painted Prayerbook It is a strange thing to be so bound and so released all in the same moment, to feel the heart open wide and wider still even as it turns to take its leave. On this day, let us say this is simply the way love moves in its ceaseless spiraling, turning us toward one another, then sending us into what waits for us with arms open wide to us in welcome and in hope. On this day, in this place where you have poured yourself out, where you have been emptied and filled and emptied again, may you be aware more than ever of what your heart has opened to here, what it has tended and welcomed here, where it has broken in love and in grief, where it has given and received blessing in the unfathomable mystery that moves us, [...]

VIRTUES: Fortitude, by Robert F. Morneau

May 11, 2017

From: Pathways to Community 1. Be Not Afraid Fear, like anger, is one of those universal emotions. When suffering and death approach us, we are afraid. Great courage is needed by warriors in battle, by patients facing terminal illnesses, by everyone who encounters the “slings and arrows” of life. The immediate impulse is to deny the danger if we can and if not, to run away. The person of fortitude and courage stays the course. For many that steadfastness is grounded in a faith that knows the support and presence of God. For others, the knowledge that others are with them as a supportive community enables this virtue to grow and become strong. The constant refrain arising out of the Bible is, do not be afraid. Be Not Afraid You shall [...]

POETRY: O Deus Ego Amo Te, by Gerard Manley Hopkins

May 10, 2017

O God, I love thee, I love thee— Not out of hope of Heaven for me Nor fearing not to love and be In the everlasting burning. Thou, thou, my Jesus, after me Didst reach thine arms out dying, For my sake sufferedst nails, and lance, Mocked and marred countenance, Sorrows passing number, Sweat and care and cumber, Yea and death, and this for me, And thou couldst see me sinning: Then I, why should not I love thee, Jesu, so much in love with me? Not for Heaven’s sake; not to be Out of hell by loving thee; Not for any gains I see; But just the way that thou didst me I do love and I will love thee: What must I love thee, Lord, for then?— For being my king and God. [...]

POETRY: Experience Bows A Sweet Contented Face, by Christina Rossetti

May 6, 2017

Experience bows a sweet contented face. Still setting to her seal that God is true: Beneath the sun, she knows, is nothing new; All things that go return with measured pace, Winds, rivers, man’s still recommencing race:— While Hope beyond Earth’s circle strains her view. Past sun and moon, and rain and rainbow too, Enamored of unseen eternal grace. Experience saith, “My God doth all things well”: And for the morrow taketh little care, Such peace and patience garrison her soul:— While Hope, who never yet hath eyes the goal, With arms flung forth, and backward-floating hair. Touches, embraces, hugs the [...]

VIRTUE: Virtue As Competence, by Bernard Häring

May 4, 2017

From: The Virtues of an Authentic Life Is virtue one of those humorless, haggard, toothless aspects of life that just have to be endured and reckoned with, whether we like it or not? Absolutely not. Virtue is, instead, a form of competence that enables us to grasp the melody of life as a whole and to arrive at that basic option for good that brings all of our thoughts, desires, and actions to maturity. Almost everybody admits that competence in one’s profession is worth the effort it takes. And, competence in relationships is a general goal of many others as well. When competence in any sphere is lacking, when the struggle to get it is neglected, the price will be high. The frequent breakdown of marriage, with all its costly [...]

THE LORD’S PRAYER: The Name, by Evelyn Underhill

May 1, 2017

Hallowed Be Thy Name.  The modern mind, living sometimes prudently and sometimes carelessly, but never theocentrically, cannot make anything of such words as these; for they sweep the soul up, past the successive and the phenomenal, and leave it in abject adoration before the single reality as the fact governing all judgments and all activities.  This, says our Lord in effect, is the way that you must begin, because this is the essence of religion.  For this, and only for this, it exists.  When he is asked for the secret of prayer, the true tent of meeting which the Lord pitched and not man, (Hebrews 8:2), this delighted recognition of God’s priority comes first to his mind.  Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord!  [...]

BLESSING: Blessing That Does Not End, by Jan Richardson

May 1, 2017

From The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief From the moment it first laid eyes on you, this blessing loved you. This blessing knew you from the start. It cannot explain how. It just knows that the first time it sat down beside you, it entered into a conversation that had already been going on forever. Believe this conversation has not stopped. Believe this love still lives— the love that crossed an impossible distance to reach you, to find you, to take your face into its hands and bless you. Believe this does not end— that the gesture, once enacted, endures. Believe this love goes on— that it still takes your face into its hands, that it presses its forehead to yours as it speaks to you in undying words, that it [...]

FRIENDSHIP: The Enchanted Bluff, by Willa Sibert Cather

April 27, 2017

We had our swim before sundown, and while we were cooking our supper the oblique rays of light made a dazzling glare on the white sand about us. The translucent red ball itself sank behind the brown stretches of corn field as we sat down to eat, and the warm layer of air that had rested over the water and our clean sand-bar grew fresher and smelled of the rank ironweed and sunflowers growing on the flatter shore. The river was brown and sluggish, like any other of the half-dozen streams that water the Nebraska corn lands. On one shore was an irregular line of bald clay bluffs where a few scrub-oaks with thick trunks and flat, twisted tops threw light shadows on the long grass. The western shore was low and level, with corn fields that [...]

POETRY: Let Me Be To Thee As The Circling Bird, by Gerard Manley Hopkins

April 26, 2017

Let me be to Thee as the circling bird, Or bat with tender and air-crisping wings That shapes in half-light his departing rings, From both of whom a changeless note is heard. I have found my music in a common word, Trying each pleasurable throat that sings And every praised sequence of sweet strings, And know infallibly which I preferred. The authentic cadence was discovered late Which ends those only strains that I approve, And other science all gone out of date And minor sweetness scarce made mention of: I have found the dominant of my range and state— Love, O my God, to call thee Love and [...]

POETRY: Making The House Ready For The Lord, by Mary Oliver

April 22, 2017

Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but still nothing is as shining as it should be for you. Under the sink, for example, is an uproar of mice—it is the season of their many children. What shall I do? And under the eaves and through the walls the squirrels have gnawed their ragged entrances—but it is the season when they need shelter, so what shall I do? And the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow; what shall I do? Beautiful is the new snow falling in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly up the path, to the door. And still I believe you will come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox, the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know that really I am [...]

JESUS: Patience, by Mark G. Boyer

April 21, 2017

  Scripture:Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord.  The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.  You also must be patient.  Strengthen your  hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.  As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance.  You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (James 5:7-8, 10-11)   Reflection: One who leaves all behind in order to follow Jesus must cultivate patience as part of his or her spirituality of mission.  [...]

VIRTUE: The Better Angels Of Our Nature, by John Bradshaw

April 20, 2017

From Reclaiming Virtue The mysterious complexity of our life is not to be embraced by maxims, to lace ourselves up in formulas of that sort is to repress all the divine promptings and inspirations that spring from growing insight and sympathy from a life vivid and intense enough to have created a wide fellow-feeling with all that is human. (George Eliot) Magnificent moral moments often move us to tears.  They can make chills run down our spine; sometimes they inspire us to change.  Why is this?  These stories seem to touch something deep within us, a part of us that is naturally attracted to what is good and virtuous. The psychologist Erik Erikson writes: Men have always shown a dim knowledge of their better potentialities by paying [...]

BLESSING: What Fire Comes To Sing In You, by Jan Richardson

April 20, 2017

From: The Cure for Sorrow This blessing had big ideas about what it wanted to say, what it wanted you to know, to see. This blessing wanted to open your eyes to the joy that lives in such strange company with sorrow— wanted to make sure to tell you, lest you forget, that no matter how long it seems absent, no matter how quiet it becomes, joy has never been far from you, holding a space of celebration, watching for you, humming as it keeps vigil. But now that it comes time to speak it— comes time to lay these words on your brow, your beating heart— all this blessing can think to say is Look— your life a candle, this day a match. Strike it and see what blazes, what fire comes to sing in [...]

ART: Window Nine — Maundy Thursday, by Michael Sullivan

April 13, 2017

From: Windows Into the Light Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer) Christ, you gently reach down and cleanse us, as a mother washes a child’s hands coated with dirt from the playground.  But many times, we turn and run away, seeking not your face nor your love in those around us.  Help us to see our place with all your children, and knowing your grace, to gather together in feast and [...]

JESUS: The Accessibility Of Jesus, by Hubert van Zeller

April 8, 2017

In spite of the uncompromising nature of his doctrine, there was nothing of the harshness about Jesus which is sometimes found in religious people.  He could be stern as we have seen, but he was never dismissive.  Love itself, love from whom all humanity springs, how could he have been unlovable?  The word, “amiable,” (admittedly a weak word to act as an adjective to Jesus, and one which describes only a manner), derives from the Latin, “amabilis.”  Critical commentators have made much of the absence of any reference in the gospels to our Lord laughing or smiling.  The implication is that his facial expression was forbidding rather than welcoming.  How, we ask, can an unsmiling man be reconciled with the [...]

POETRY: Sabbath Poem X, 1979, by Wendell Berry

April 5, 2017

Whatever is foreseen in joy Must be lived out from day to day. Vision held open in the dark By our ten thousand days of work. Harvest will fill the barn; for that The hand must ache, the face must sweat. And yet no leaf or grain is filled By work of ours; the field is tilled And left to grace. That we may reap, Great work is done while we’re asleep. When we work well, a Sabbath mood Rests on our day, and finds it [...]

POETRY: The Doubter’s Prayer, by Anne Brontë

March 28, 2017

Eternal Power, of earth and air! Unseen, yet seen in all around, Remote, but dwelling everywhere, Though silent, heard in every sound. If e’er thine ear in mercy bent, When wretched mortals cried to Thee, And if, indeed, Thy Son was sent, To save lost sinners such as me: Then hear me now, while, kneeling here, I lift to thee my heart and eye, And all my soul ascends in prayer, Oh, give me—give me Faith! I cry. Without some glimmering in my heart, I could not raise this fervent prayer; But, oh! a stronger light impart, And in Thy mercy fix it there. While Faith is with me, I am blest; It turns my darkest night to day; But while I clasp it to my breast, I often feel it slide away. Then, cold and dark, my spirit sinks, To see my light [...]

JESUS: To Love In Christ, by Hubert van Zeller

March 22, 2017

It follows logically from the foregoing that if we live Christ’s life we love with Christ’s love.  His life is all love; his spirit is all love.  It is not so much that his love “rubs off” on us but that it actually animates us and “informs” our every activity.  We breathe his spirit, and since his spirit is love we love with his love.  Our love such as it is, is nothing without grace, nothing without his spirit.  We have not invented what love there is in us; we cannot fashion charity as we can fashion a rose garden or an omelette.  The most we can do is direct it from him within us to him outside us.  Our love for others, provided it is in charity and not in worldly desire, is the response of [...]

LENT: Keeping Watch, by Philip Berrigan

March 20, 2017

From: Disciples and Dissidents May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to all: “Watch!” (Mark 13:36-37) I am pondering the passage at Mark 13:36, and my thoughts return to the winter of 1943, to a nineteen-year-old draftee at Camp Gordon, now Fort Gordon, Georgia.  The old Springfield rifle is heavy, the Georgia winters are damp and cold and dark and – Lord, Gawd! – I’ve gotta walk guard for four hours. And do I ever watch!  I watch for the officer of the guard.  If he hears a weak challenge (Halt!  Who goes there?) or finds me forgetful of the password (Geronimo) or hiding or smoking, it’s weekend KP for a month.  The minutes and hours drag agonizingly by.  I’m [...]

POETRY: I Have Stood At The Center Of The World, by Catherine McNiel

March 14, 2017

I have stood at the center of the world The primordial Tree, the innocent Beginning I have been rejected there, exiled So I wander Homeless, yet seeking Home Marked, yet seeking I have traveled so far in my wanderings That I have changed, the distance became a chasm And yet I have stayed so closely tied Lingering near with hope for Healing Longing I stand in the place of Anger and Accusation Watching the last box of bitterness carried out the door Alone now with the vast emptiness in its place There’s nothing left to do but this endless Wandering and lingering I have forgiven But you have forgotten Even a child casts her own shadow The past has built itself into my body and soul And there it is: The bruised and fallen apple is its [...]

POETRY: E Tenebris, by Oscar Wilde

March 8, 2017

Come down, O Christ, and help me! reach thy hand, For I am drowning in a stormier sea Than Simon on thy lake of Galilee: The wine of life is spilt upon the sand, My heart is as some famine-murdered land, Whence all good things have perished utterly, And well I know my soul in Hell must lie If I this night before God’s throne should stand. “He sleeps perchance, or rideth to the chase, Like Baal, when his prophets howled that name From morn to noon on Carmel’s smitten height.” Nay, peace, I shall behold before the night, The feet of brass, the robe more white than flame, The wounded hands, the weary human [...]

POETRY: New Mexico, 1992, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

March 6, 2017

We learned to make the sign of the cross, Dipping earth stained hands in Catholic Waters. We’ve filled the desert with our altars We prayed our rosaries, played them, Rubbed them, clutched them– rattles in the wind Swaying back and forth—our Playground swings, we rode them toward God, Now hang them on walls or rear view Mirrors of fixed-up ’57 trucks. Comenzamos el Padre Nuestro en espanol but we finish the prayer in a North American tongue. De vez en cuando we gather ourselves together to baptize a child in the name of the Father, the Son, and our ancestors who command us from the grave. We have made our way in the world, worked hard, worked hard. Now, we toss money at the feet of my parent’s grandchildren like [...]

SAINTS: Frances of Rome — When You Did For The Least Ones, by Greg Friedman

March 6, 2017

From: Lent With The Saints Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18; Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 15; Matthew 25:31-46 The first days of Lent feature scriptural selections that emphasize the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  Today Moses articulates the love of neighbor as part of God’s law.  The people’s conduct is motivated by the holiness of the God they worship.  Jesus makes that motivation even more personal, in the famous Matthew 25 passage, in which he identifies himself with the poor and needy to whom we should minister in the world. Frances of Rome, in the fourteenth century, can easily be patron of our Lenten almsgiving, as we seek the face of Jesus in hungry, naked, homeless, ill, or imprisoned people.  Married to a [...]

SACRIFICE: The Raven’s Fate

March 2, 2017

And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made: And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth. Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole Earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark. And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the [...]

POETRY: A Prayer, by Thomas More

March 2, 2017

Grant I thee pray such heat into mine heart, That to this love of thine may be equal; God grant me from Satan’s service to astart, With whom me rueth so long to have be thrall; Grant me good Lord and creator of all, The flame to quench of all sinful desire, And in thy love set all mine heart afire. That when the journey of this deadly life My silly ghost hath finished, and thence Departed must without his fleshly wife;* Alone into his lord’s high presence, He may thee find: O well of indulgence, In thy lordship not as a lord: but rather As a very tender, loving father. Amen. [*silly ghost: the soul; fleshly wife: the [...]