Virtues

POETRY: For M. On A Cold Grey Morning by Thomas Merton

November 18, 2017

A grey good morning and rain And melting snow Far from any help Or love, I am warmer At least wanting you. Sorry in the grey Weather without lights Far from any other center I nurse one inner lamp Our common need Which is our common presence It burns alone And still In the wet dark and for us, Lighting a dry place in me I do not know Because it is myself Love’s inner cell Where I am glad to be a prisoner Since I am prisoner with you. While you come back to life in distant rain Looking perhaps at the dark river With blurred eyes Still full of dreams And think of me in my hills, You wake in me, darling. We are nearer than we know Love has another Place of its own Nearer to you than hill or city; Nearer than your own mirror You wake in [...]

SURRENDER: Holiness Made Easy by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

November 16, 2017

From The Joy of Full Surrender I believe that if those who are seriously striving after holiness were instructed as to the conduct they ought to follow they would be spared a good deal of trouble.  I speak as much of laypersons as of religious.  If the former (that is, laypersons) could realize the merit concealed in the actions of each moment of the day – I mean in each of the daily duties and actions belonging to their state of life – and if the latter (that is, those who are members of religious orders) could be persuaded that holiness is found in what seems unimportant to them, they would all indeed be happy.  If, in addition, they understood that the crosses sent them by Providence – crosses that they constantly find in the [...]

WISDOM STORY: Saint Francis And The Wolf by Nathalie Leone

November 16, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom Francis loved animals.  He saw a sacred link between animals and men and spoke to all his brothers in the same way, whether they were feathered or furred, and whether they walked upright or on all fours. One day Francis was on his way to the abbey of Gubbio.  He walked at a brisk pace, leading his donkey by its bridle.  Just as he began to see the towers of the abbey coming into view above the trees, his path was blocked by some peasants. “Brother Francis, do not go any further!  Ferocious wolves are prowling around.  They are starving and will devour you if you go on!” “I have not hurt them at all and neither has my soul.  Don’t worry.  Return to God!  Good night.” Francis then passed by [...]

VIRTUES: Freedom From Within (Detachment) by Gary L. Thomas

November 9, 2017

From: The Glorious Pursuit If you desire to undertake a devout life, you must not only cease to sin, but also cleanse your heart from all affections to sin.  Souls that are recovered from the state of sin, and still retain these affections, eat without joy, and drag themselves along rather than walk.  They do good, but with such a spiritual heaviness that it takes away all the grace from their good exercises. (Francis de Sales) For me, the saddest flowers in all the world will always be yellow roses. The last time I purchased them was twenty years ago, after the fifth or sixth breakup with “Sharon.”  Yellow roses were her favorite. Sharon and I were involved in a tempestuous relationship during high school, and, try as we [...]

WISDOM STORY: The Clothes Chest by Nathalie Leone

November 9, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom Father Poemen used to say, “If you have a chest full of clothes and do not open it for a long time, the clothes inside will go moldy.” The same is true of the thoughts in our heart.  If we do not act upon them, they eventually spoil and change for the [...]

PRAYER: For Unity Of Faiths by Thomas Merton

November 6, 2017

O God, we are one with you.  You have made us one with you.  You have taught us that if we are open to one another, you dwell in us.  Help us to preserve this openness and to fight for it with all our hearts.  Help us to realize that there can be no understanding where there is mutual rejection.  O God, in accepting one another wholeheartedly, fully, completely, we accept you, and we thank you, and we adore you, and we love you with our whole being, because our being is in your being, our spirit is rooted in your spirit.  Fill us then with love, and let us be bound together with love as we go our diverse ways, united in this one spirit which makes you present in the world, and which makes you witness to the ultimate reality that is [...]

WISDOM STORY: The Miser by Nathalie Leone

November 2, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom Once upon a time there was a miser, a man whose hands were shaped like an eagle’s claws.  The moment he held anything, he was unable to let it go.  This was useful for grabbing hold of branches if he fell from trees, but painful if he grasped a poker the wrong way. If his stomach had functioned the way his money did, it would have split as soon as he was born, like a bag bursting at the seams.  And yet his avarice ruined even his health, for the larger his nest egg grew, the more worn out the merchant became.  In fact, he constantly checked his stash of money; he no longer slept or ate, as he was so anxious about its security. However, one night in the small hours an idea occurred to him.  In his [...]

POETRY: Thou Hidden Love of God by Gerhard Tersteegen

November 1, 2017

Thou hidden love of God, whose height, Whose depth unfathom’d no man knows, I see from far thy beauteous light, Inly I sigh for thy repose; My heart is pain’d, nor can it be At rest, till it finds rest in thee. Thy secret voice invites me still, The sweetness of thy yoke to prove: And fain I would: but tho’ my will Seem fix’d, yet wide my passions rove; Yet hindrances strew all the way; I aim at thee, yet from thee stray. ’Tis mercy all, that thou hast brought My mind to seek her peace in thee; Yet while I seek, but find thee not, No peace my wand’ring soul shall see; O when shall all my wand’rings end, And all my steps to thee-ward tend! Is there a thing beneath the sun That strives with thee my heart to share? Ah! tear it [...]

POETRY: Batter My Heart, Three-Person’d God by John Donne

October 28, 2017

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend; That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new. I, like an usurp’d town to another due, Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end; Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend, But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue. Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain, But am betroth’d unto your enemy; Divorce me, untie or break that knot again, Take me to you, imprison me, for I, Except you enthrall me, never shall be free, Nor ever chaste, except you ravish [...]

SURRENDER: Who Is The Most Holy? by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

October 26, 2017

From The Joy of Full Surrender The will of God gives a supernatural and divine value to everything for the soul that is submitted to it.  All the duties God’s will imposes, all those contained in it, all the matters it touches, become holy and perfect, because the will of God is unlimited in power and makes everything it touches divine. But in order not to stray either to the right or the left, we should follow such inspirations we believe we have received from God only if we are sure that they will not take us from the duties of our state of life.  These duties are the most certain manifestations of God’s will, and we should prefer nothing above them.  In them there is nothing to fear, nothing to exclude, nothing to be chosen.  [...]

WISDOM STORY: Three Pieces Of Advice From A Bird by Nathalie Leone

October 26, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom A man caught a small bird.  “I am no use to you as a captive,” the bird said to him, “but give me back my freedom and I will give you three pieces of advice that will be more useful than the miserable scrap of flesh that you might garner from my small body.” The bird said it would give the first piece of advice while still in the man’s hand, the second from a nearby branch, and the third from the top of the mountain. The winged creature was scrawny, so the man accepted.  The bird’s first piece of advice was this: “If you lose something – even if you value it as much as your life – do not be distressed.” The man released the bird, which then settled on a branch.  It ruffled its [...]

EVIL: Love And Inadequacy

October 23, 2017

A little while ago, during a vision, I happened upon something.  Not intentionally.  Or, at least, I don’t think it was intentionally. I raised my eyebrows at it and decided that I didn’t want to know this. I’m not sure why.  But I decided I wanted to keep it a secret. Even from myself. But last night, not realizing I was on the same path that would lead to the same answer, I happened upon it again. So the secret was officially “out.” Everything that exists has a seen side and an unseen side. Pretty much every minute of the day we are unaware of this. That the good has a tangled side. That the bad have a confused and weak side. That what appears before us and convinces us it is what we see is not, [...]

SURRENDER: Attaining Lasting Peace by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

October 19, 2017

From The Joy of Full Surrender The soul who is not committed to the will of God alone will find neither its satisfaction nor its sanctification in the various methods – not even in the most excellent devotional exercises.  If that which God himself chooses for you does not satisfy you, from whom do you expect to receive what you desire?  If you turn from the food prepared for you by God’s own will, what food could satisfy a taste so depraved?  A soul can be nourished, strengthened, purified, enriched, and made holy only by the fullness of the present moment.  What more would you have?  Since you can find all that is good here, why search for it anywhere else?  Do you know better than God?  Since he ordains it this way, why do [...]

WISDOM STORY: The Knight And The Keg by Nathalie Leone

October 19, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom The knight was as comely as an angel.  Even if he rode all day, on his return he was fresh and the folds in his clothing were as unruffled as they had been before he set out. And yet he spread horror.  He desecrated, burned, killed, and ravaged men and beasts who crossed his path.  He was so cruel that people even thought he was born heartless. He did not distinguish between respected holy days and normal days, never went to church, and never fasted, not even during Lent.  And rumor had it that he had never in his life heard a sermon.  “He isn’t even baptized,” it was whispered.  He instilled the fear of an antichrist.  On Good Friday, the knight joyfully proposed to his companions that they [...]

POETRY: Meditation Seven by Edward Taylor

October 17, 2017

My  heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever. (Psalm 45:1-2) Thy human frame, my glorious Lord, I spy. A golden still with Heavenly choice drugs filled Thy holy love, the glowing heat whereby The spirit of grace is graciously distilled. Thy mouth the neck through which these spirits still; My soul thy vial make, and therewith fill. Thy speech the liquor in thy vessel stands, Well tinged with grace, a blessed tincture, lo, Thy words distilled grace in thy lips poured, and Give graces tincture in them where they go. Thy words in graces [...]

POETRY: Wilt Thou Love God? by John Donne

October 15, 2017

Wilt thou love God, as he thee? then digest, My Soule, this wholsome meditation, How God the Spirit, by Angels waited on In Heaven, doth make his Temple in thy brest. The Father having begot a Sonne most blest, And still begetting, (for he ne’r begonne) Hath deign’d to chuse thee by adoption, Coheire to his glory, and Sabbaths endless rest; And as a robb’d man, which by search doth finde His stolne stuffe sold, must lose or buy it againe: The Sonne of glory came downe, and was slaine, Us whom he had made, and Satan stolne, to unbinde. ‘Twas much, that man was made like God before, But, that God should be made like man, much [...]

POETRY: For M. In October by Thomas Merton

October 13, 2017

If you and I could meet up there In that cool cloud Like two sun Beams or birds Going straight to South America Or distracted spirits Flying together innocent In midair Or if we could be Together like two barges in a string Or tight wandering rafts Heading downriver to St Louis or New Orleans If we could come together like two parts Of one love song Two chords going hand in hand A perfect arrangement And be two parts of the same secret (Oh if we could recover And tell again Our midsummer secret!) If you and I could even start again as strangers Here in this forsaken field Where crickets rise up Around my feet like spray Out of a green ocean… But I am alone, Alone walking up and down Leaning on the silly wind And talking out loud like a [...]

SURRENDER: The Limited Use Of Intelligence, by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

October 12, 2017

From The Joy of Full Surrender The mind with all its powers would like to hold first place among all the instruments employed by God, but it must, like a dangerous slave, be reduced to the lowest place.  It might be of great service if made use of in a right manner, but it can do much injury if it is not kept in subjection.  When the soul longs for outward supports, grace whispers to the heart that God’s invisible work is enough.  When the soul wishes to forego created means of help at the wrong time, God shows it that such help should be received and used with singleness of heart, in keeping with his established will.  We should use such means as tools, not for their own sake, but as though we did not use them, and when we are [...]

WISDOM STORY: Providence by Nathalie Leone

October 12, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom A priest had shut himself in his cell to write a sermon on divine providence. Suddenly he heard an explosion.  The dam that protected the small town had just given way and the river burst its banks in a roar of flood water that swept along everything in its path. The priest, distraught, was about to give way to panic when he caught sight of his sermon on divine providence.  He pulled himself together and calmed down. The village was flooded and most people stayed cloistered indoors.  Some of them, however, did venture out, waist-deep in water, in search of help.  A rescue boat soon arrived under the presbytery windows. The rowers called out to the priest, gesticulating to him. “No, no,” he said to [...]

VIRTUES: Resting In The Current (Surrender) by Gary L. Thomas

October 5, 2017

From: The Glorious Pursuit The Man who wishes to offer a pure mind to God but who is troubled by cares is like a man who expects to walk quickly even though his legs are tied together. (John Climacus) Lisa and I wanted to move back to Washington State to be close to our children’s grandparents, but the situation looked bleak.  When we discussed our options with a realtor, his scenario stunned us.  “Best case scenario is that you’d have to bring $10,000 to settlement.”  We’d have to pay to sell our home, assuming we could find someone willing to buy it. “How long would we have to stay here to break even?” Lisa asked with the tone of a patient discussing a very painful procedure. “To walk [...]

WISDOM STORY: Prayers Heard! by Nathalie Leone

October 5, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom Two men in conversation were seated on the edge of a pubic fountain whose fine jet of water splashed them gently. The first man said: “When I need a favor, either for myself or others, I ask for it on my knees, behaving with the good Lord as I would with a merchant who seeks only to dispense his surplus knowledge.  And I pray, ask, and beg.” “Are your prayers always answered?” asked the other man, skeptical. “Always.  Either the favor is granted or I feel my will merge in such a manner with God’s will that, at that very moment, I wish for everything he wishes [...]

SURRENDER: The Limited Use Of Reading And Other Exercises by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

September 28, 2017

From The Joy of Full Surrender All we need to know is how to recognize God’s will for the present moment.  Any reading we might choose without regard to the will of God is harmful to us.  The will of God and obedience to his leading brings us grace, and this grace is what does the work in the depths of our hearts through reading or anything else we do.  Without God, books are only vain appearances, deprived of God’s life-giving power as far as we are concerned, and they succeed only in emptying the heart by the very satisfaction our reading brings to the mind. God’s will, working in the souls of simple and ignorant persons through suffering or through a few very ordinary actions, produces an abundance of supernatural life in those [...]

WISDOM STORY: The Louse by Nathalie Leone

September 28, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom In a monastery in the Loire region, there lived twelve monks under the lax law of their father abbot.  Lulled by the rhythm of the seasons, working in the fields, transcribing manuscripts, and fulfilling duties, they were quite happy and had no other desires. But one day the father abbot died.  After respecting the mourning period, the twelve monks gathered one morning in the common hall, where they looked at one another in dismay. Having entered the monastery at almost the same time, they were like true brothers.  So who amongst them was going to take the place of father abbot? “Brother Jacques.” “No,” Brother Jacques moaned in response.  “I… I… would never be able to.  I… I… [...]

POETRY: The Beginning Of Wisdom by Denise Levertov

September 23, 2017

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10) You have brought me so far. • I know so much. Names, verbs, images. My mind overflows, a drawer that can’t close • Unscathed among the tortured. Ignorant parchment uninscribed, light strokes only, where a scribe tried out a pen. • I am so small, a speck of dust moving across the huge world. The world a speck of dust in the universe. • Are you holding the universe? You hold only my smallness. How do you grasp it, how does it not slip away? • I know so little. • You have brought me so [...]

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 [...]