Virtues

SURRENDER: Perfection Means Submission To God’s Will by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

September 21, 2017

From The Joy of Full Surrender The designs of God, the good pleasure of God, the will of God, the action of God, and the gift of his grace are all one and the same thing in the spiritual life.  It is God at work in the soul to make it like himself.  Perfection is nothing more or less than the faithful cooperation of the soul with this work of God.  This work begins, grows, and is completed in our souls secretly and without our knowledge. Theology is full of theories and explanations of how each soul is brought into this wonderful perfection to the fullest extent of its capacity.  We may know all the theories and understand the explanations of this work in the soul, speak and write about them beautifully, or instruct and direct [...]

WISDOM STORY: The Desert And The Locust by Nathalie Leone

September 21, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom A young monk who had just reached the desert decided to consult an elder. “Father, I have been living here for one year and locusts have come six or seven times already.  You know what a scourge they are.  They infiltrate everything, enter the tents, slip between the blankets, make their way into clothing.  They even hop into food.  I’m at my wit’s end.” The elder, who had been living in the desert for forty years, answered him: “The first time a locust fell in my soup I threw away the lot.  On the second occasion I threw out the locust and kept the soup.  The third time I ate everything – soup and locust.  Now when a locust attempts to get out of my soup, I put it back in.” [...]

POETRY: Invitation To The God by Richard Rolle

September 20, 2017

Sear my inmost being with Your fire, and my heart will burn on Your altar forever. Come, I beg You, O sweet and true glory! Come, O most desired sweetness! Come, my Beloved, Who are my whole consolation, to my soul—now languishing for Your sake and inclined to You— and slip into it with most sweetly flowing love. Set ablaze with Your heat every penetrable place of my heart and, by filling its inmost places with Your light, feed the whole with the honey-flowing joy of Your love, in order to snatch up in new, noetic union this mind and [...]

POETRY: Sacred Heart 2 (A Fragment—) by Thomas Merton

September 15, 2017

Geography comes to an end, Compass has lost all earthly north, Horizons have no meaning Nor roads an explanation: I cannot even hope for any special borealis To rouse my darkness with a brief “Hurray”! O flaming Heart, Unseen and unimagined in this wilderness, You, You alone are real, and here I’ve found You. Here will I love and praise You in a tongueless death, Until my white devoted bones, Long bleached and polished by the winds of this Sahara, Relive at Your command, Rise and unfold the flowers of their everlasting [...]

SURRENDER: The Work Of Making Us Holy by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

September 14, 2017

From The Joy of Full Surrender If the work of making us holy seems such a hard and impossible task, it is because we do not have the right idea of what it truly is. In truth, holiness consists of one single thing: faithfulness to the will of God. Now, this faithfulness is within the reach of everyone, whether it calls for active or passive practice of our faith. Active faithfulness means fulfilling the duties that are ours by the general laws of God and of the church, or by our particular state of life. Passive faithfulness consists in the loving acceptance of all that God sends us each moment. Is either of these practices beyond our ability? Not active faithfulness, because any duties it might impose are no longer duties when we do not [...]

WISDOM STORY: A Conscientious Monk by Nathalie Leone

September 14, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom A monk, having at a very young age entered the monastery where he spent twenty years, had misgivings as to his progress. He decided to visit Father Joseph, who welcomed him warmly and listened to him. “Father,” began the monk, “I am trying to follow the rules. I fast, I observe the contemplative silence, I carry out the work in monastery, I pray, I endeavor to banish vain thoughts. What more can I do?” The old man stood up, looked at the sky, raised his arms, and, stretching out his fingers that resembled rays, said to him, “Why don’t you turn yourself into a flame [...]

POETRY: Inebriated Soul In Love by Catherine of Siena

September 13, 2017

Then that soul, even as one drunk, appeared to be beside herself, parted from her bodily senses due to union with her Creator. She raised her spiritual eyes, her nous, and gazed into eternal Truth. As she now came to know the Truth, she knew herself to be in love with it. She said aloud: O high eternal Goodness, O my God! What am I—the wretched one—to You, O soaring, everlasting Father, that You have shown Your truth to me? that You have shown the snares the evil one has set? the snares my own selfish heart lays out for me? What moved in You to do such things for us? Love alone, love unreturned, You have poured out Your love without my answering love! O fire of love Who burns [...]

VIRTUES: The Beautiful Spirit (Humility, Part Two) by Gary L. Thomas

September 7, 2017

From: The Glorious Pursuit Humility is the bloom and the beauty of holiness. (Andrew Murray) Unless we make the increase of humility our study, we may find that we have been delighting in beautiful thoughts and feelings, in solemn acts of consecration and faith, while the only sure mark of the presence of God – the disappearance of self – was all the time wanting. (Andrew Murray) Following the stunning victory at Yorktown, the American colonies seemed determined to clutch defeat out of the jaws of victory.  Many assumed the Revolutionary War was over, but since George Washington was well aware that the British forces on North American soil still outnumbered the Continental Army, the American soldiers weren’t let go.  The [...]

WISDOM STORY: Bernard and Francis by Nathalie Leone

September 7, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom Francis had just withdrawn from the world and had embraced complete poverty. But the people of Assisi, his friends, his parents, and his acquaintances of long standing all thought him mad. They held him in contempt. When he went into town, people jostled him, threw nuts at him, and scolded him. They insulted him to his face and hurled at him all abuse they could think of. Francis bore everything, without getting angry. He never even answered them. Now a man was observing him from the window of his house. He was surprised to see him put up with such scorn so readily. “Either he really is completely mad,” he said to himself, “or he has received special grace from God.” This man’s name was Bernard [...]

SURRENDER: Shadows That Veil The Hand Of God by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

September 1, 2017

From The Joy of Full Surrender The power of the Most High will overshadow you, said the angel to Mary. This shadow, behind which is hidden the power of God for the purpose of bringing forth Jesus Christ in the soul, is the duty, the attraction, or the cross that is offered to us at each moment. These are, in truth, only shadows like those in nature that, like a veil, cover the objects of our senses and hide them from us. In the same way, in the moral and supernatural realm, the duties of each moment, like dark shadows, conceal the only thing that should hold our attention: the reality of God’s will in them. This was the way Mary perceived them. As these shadows spread themselves over her mind, far from deluding her, they only increased [...]

CHRISTIAN WISDOM: The Way From Here by Frederica Mathewes-Green

August 31, 2017

From: The Illuminated Heart Illumine our hearts, O Master who lovest mankind with the pure light of thy divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our minds to the understanding of thy Gospel teachings, for thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God. (Prayer before the reading of the Gospel Liturgy of St. James, Fourth Century) This has been a very brief exposition of the spiritual path of the ancient church.  The good news is that this path has been preserved, and resources are available to those who would undertake it seriously today.  There are many excellent books, a few of which are listed in the bibliography.  But the primary need is for personal guidance from a spiritual father or mother.  This is because we [...]

POETRY: Te Deum by Charles Reznikoff

August 29, 2017

O sing unto the Lord a new song; for he hath done marvelous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory. (Psalm 98:1) Not because of victories I sing, Having none, but for the common sunshine, the breeze, the largess of the spring. Not for victory but for the day’s work done as well as I was able; not for a seat upon the dais but at the common [...]

FORGIVENESS: Turning The Tables—Do We Forgive the Father of the Prodigal?

August 27, 2017

Let’s face it, the Father of the Prodigal Son comes off as some kind of superhuman hero. God the Father, to be specific. I like to spend time in that low, quiet quarter of my soul that sort of rumbles about looking for meaning and connection with the rest of the world. And it interests me when I feel the wind with the same kind of whisper on it blowing by me. A mumble here, a shrug there. It is there in the world: the grumbling against the mighty spirituality of God. I know it’s in me.  Grumbling about the vast difference between the absolute that is God and my hunger pangs which are relative. Relative to me. They relate to me.  And my stomach. And in those moments, I really don’t care about God’s absolute need to [...]

CHRISTIAN WISDOM: Dealing With Others—The Larger Circle by Frederica Mathewes-Green

August 24, 2017

From: The Illuminated Heart Illumine our hearts, O Master who lovest mankind with the pure light of thy divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our minds to the understanding of thy Gospel teachings, for thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God. (Prayer before the reading of the Gospel Liturgy of St. James, Fourth Century) In the smaller circle, that collection of people we encounter in our daily lives, the primary task is to grow in humility.  In the larger community there are opportunities to gain other virtues, for example compassion and generosity.  For early Christians, prayer and fasting were joined by a third spiritual discipline, that of almsgiving. “Our prayers and fastings are of less avail [...]

SURRENDER: Holiness Means Faithfulness To God’s Will, by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

August 24, 2017

From The Joy of Full Surrender God speaks today in the same way he spoke to our ancestors. There were no spiritual directors, then, and spiritual methods were not so clearly defined. Spirituality simply consisted of faithfulness to the will of God. It was not reduced to an art, minutely explained, containing so many directions, maxims, or instructions as there are today. Our present needs may require this, but in those earlier days, when God’s people were more simple and upright, it was enough to see that each moment brought a duty to be faithfully fulfilled. Their whole attention was fixed on that duty, like the hour hand of a clock that moves its necessary distance minute by minute. With their mind and spirit constantly moved by the [...]

POETRY: The Theology Of Doubt by Scott Cairns

August 23, 2017

I have come to believe this fickleness of belief is unavoidable. As, for these back lot trees, the annual loss of leaves and fruit is unavoidable. I remember hearing that soft-soap about faith being given only to the faithful—mean trick, if you believe it. This afternoon, during my walk, which I have come to believe is good for me, I noticed one of those ridiculous leaves hanging midway up an otherwise naked oak. The wind did what it could to bring it down, but the slow learner continued dancing. Then again, once, hoping for the last good apple, I reached among bare branches, pulling into my hand an apple too soft for anything and warm to the touch, [...]

POETRY: To Surrender To Love by Elizabeth of the Trinity

August 23, 2017

Oh how good it is in silence To listen to Him over and over, To enjoy the peace of His presence, and then to surrender wholly to His love. O Lamb, so pure and so meek, You my All, my only One, How well you know that your fiancée, Your little one, hungers greatly for You. She hungers to feed upon her Master, Above all to be consumed by Him, To surrender fully to Him her whole being So she may be totally taken. Oh, that I may be possessed by You; One who lives by You alone, Yours, your living host, Consumed by you on the [...]

CHRISTIAN WISDOM: Dealing With Others—The Smaller Circle by Frederica Mathewes-Green

August 17, 2017

From: The Illuminated Heart Illumine our hearts, O Master who lovest mankind with the pure light of thy divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our minds to the understanding of thy Gospel teachings, for thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God. (Prayer before the reading of the Gospel Liturgy of St. James, Fourth Century) Anna misses her brother, the monk Timothy, every day, but some days she envies him.  On days like today she would rather sleep on the ground and eat dry bread than go to dinner at her mother-in-law’s house. Irene is a beautiful woman, accomplished, musically talented, and intelligent.  Even her hair is perfect.  In her presence Anna feels like a country mouse.  In Irene’s house, [...]

COMPASSION: A Letter Of Consolation from Abraham Lincoln

August 17, 2017

A letter to a mother who lived in Boston, who President Lincoln mistakenly believed lost her five sons in the war.  Carl Sandburg wrote of this letter, “More darkly than the Gettysburg speech the letter wove its awful implication that human freedom so often was paid for with agony.” Executive Mansion Washington, Nov. 21, 1864 To Mrs. Bixby, Boston, Mass. Dear Madam, I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.  I feel how week and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming.  But I cannot refrain from tendering [...]

POETRY: The Morning Watch by Henry Vaughn

August 16, 2017

O joys! Infinite sweetness! With what flowers And shoots of glory, my soul breaks and buds! All the long hours Of night and rest, Through the still shrouds Of sleep, and clouds, This dew fell on my breast; O how it bloods, And spirits all my earth! Hark! In what rings And hymning circulations the quick world Awakes, and sings! The rising winds, And falling springs, Birds, beasts, all things Adore Him in their kinds. Thus all is hurled In sacred hymns and order; the great chime And symphony of Nature. Prayer is The world in tune, A spirit-voice, And vocal joys, Whose echo is heaven’s bliss. O let me climb When I lie down! The pious soul by night Is like a clouded star, whose beams, though said To shed their light Under some cloud, Yet are [...]

CHRISTIAN WISDOM: The Jesus Prayer by Frederica Mathewes-Green

August 10, 2017

From: The Illuminated Heart Illumine our hearts, O Master who lovest mankind with the pure light of thy divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our minds to the understanding of thy Gospel teachings, for thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God. (Prayer before the reading of the Gospel Liturgy of St. James, Fourth Century) Theodore keeps reading over a letter he and Anna received last year from Anna’s brother, Timothy, who joined a group of monks on Mr. Sinai a few years ago.  Timothy wrote that he was being taught to abide in prayer by repeating a short verse from scripture over and over, whenever his mind would otherwise be idle – or not idle, since we all know how the restless nous seeks trouble.  He [...]

VIRTUES: The Precept Of Charity by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen

August 10, 2017

Presence of God – O Lord, teach me to love you truly, with my whole heart, my whole soul, and with all my strength. Meditation “Virtue lies in the golden mean.” This maxim which is so exact for the moral virtues, cannot be applied to the theological virtues, which, having an infinite object, can have no limit. The measure of our faith, hope, and charity is to believe, to hope, and to love without measure. However much we love God, we can never love him too much, nor can we love him as much as he is lovable. By its very nature then, the precept of charity admits of no limit and we could never say, “I shall love God up to a certain point and that will be enough,” for by doing so, we would renounce tending toward the perfection of [...]

POETRY: Wisdom by Thomas Merton

August 4, 2017

I studied it and it taught me nothing. I learned it and soon forgot everything else: Having forgotten, I was burdened with knowledge— The insupportable knowledge of nothing. How sweet my life would be, if I were wise! Wisdom is well known When it is no longer seen or thought of. Only then is understanding [...]

CHRISTIAN WISDOM: More About The Passions, And Disciplines Of The Mind by Frederica Mathewes-Green

August 3, 2017

From: The Illuminated Heart Illumine our hearts, O Master who lovest mankind with the pure light of thy divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our minds to the understanding of thy Gospel teachings, for thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God. (Prayer before the reading of the Gospel Liturgy of St. James, Fourth Century) “Pray constantly” is another very good piece of advice.  But how do you ever do it?  Not just saying prayers or interceding for others – how can you abide in a state of prayer, so that your every heartbeat, your very breath, is united with Christ? Some of us are familiar with customs like holding oneself mindful of the presence of God, or of asking what Jesus would do.  These [...]

VIRTUES: Living Where You Are (Humility, Part One) by Gary L. Thomas

July 30, 2017

From: The Glorious Pursuit Saints agree they are sinners; only sinners think they are saints. (Peter Kreeft) The truth is this – pride must die in you, or nothing of Heaven can live in you. (Andrew Murray) “So how’d your morning work go?”  My wife, Lisa, asked me. “I lost a good bit of it.  My computer crashed.” She looked at me with astonishment.  “I can’t believe you’re taking it so well.” I shrugged.  “I’ve written by hand and I’ve written on computers.  Over the long run, computers have saved me a lot of time.  I can’t complain if they take a little time back now and then.” “But your attitude,” Lisa sad.  “I think I’d be [...]

CHRISTIAN WISDOM: Introduction To The Passions, And Disciplines Of The Body by Frederica Mathewes-Green

July 27, 2017

From: The Illuminated Heart Illumine our hearts, O Master who lovest mankind with the pure light of thy divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our minds to the understanding of thy Gospel teachings, for thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God. (Prayer before the reading of the Gospel Liturgy of St. James, Fourth Century) In the last chapter we heard Saint Paul say, “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”  That sounds like a fine prescription, but perhaps a little vague.  How would a person begin to grapple with his own mind?  Wouldn’t it be that same fallen mind that was doing the grappling? And, hey, what about this body that’s always hanging around?  Wherever the mind goes, [...]

POETRY: The Living Flame Of Love by John of the Cross

July 26, 2017

1. O living flame of love that tenderly wounds my soul in its deepest center! Since now you are not oppressive, now consummate! if it be your will: tear through the veil of this sweet encounter! 2. O sweet cautery, O delightful wound! O gentle hand! O delicate touch that tastes of eternal life and pays every debt! In killing you changed death to life. 3. O lamps of fire! in whose splendors the deep caverns of feeling, once obscure and blind, now give forth, so rarely, so exquisitely, both warmth and light to their Beloved. 4. How gently and lovingly you wake in my heart, where in secret you dwell alone; and in your sweet breathing, filled with good and glory, how tenderly you swell my heart with [...]

POETRY: Hope by George Herbert

July 23, 2017

I gave to Hope a watch of mine: but he An anchor gave to me. Then an old prayer-book I did present: And he an optic sent. With that I gave a vial full of tears: But he a few green ears: Ah Loiterer! I’ll no more, no more I’ll bring: I did expect a [...]