Virtues

UNITY: The Art Of Quilting

February 8, 2018

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture [...]

SURRENDER: Especially For Us by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

February 8, 2018

From The Joy of Full Surrender We can be truly instructed only by the words that God speaks to us personally. No one grows in knowledge of God either by reading books or by curious historical research. These means give us only a vain and empty knowledge, which serves only to confuse us and inflate us with pride. That which truly instructs us is what comes to us by the will of God from moment to moment. This is the knowledge gained through experience, which Christ himself was pleased to acquire before teaching others. In fact, this was the only knowledge in which he could grow, according to the expression of the holy gospel, (Luke 2:52). This is because, being God, there was no degree of speculative knowledge that he did not already [...]

SIMPLICITY: Jesus Of Nazareth by Philip Harnden

February 8, 2018

From Journeys of Simplicity Jewish carpenter whose life and teachings inspire the Christian faith. “And what I say unto you, I say unto all: Watch.” JESUS SENDS FORTH THE TWELVE Take nothing for your journey save a staff no knapsack no bread no money not two coats be shod with sandals Go, preach Heaven is at hand heal the sick cleanse the lepers raise the dead cast out [...]

POETRY: Matins by George Herbert

February 7, 2018

I cannot ope mine eyes, But thou art ready there to catch My morning-soul and sacrifice: Then we must needs for that day make a match. My God, what is a heart? Silver, or gold, or precious stone, Or star, or rainbow, or a part Of all these things, or all of them in one? My God, what is a heart, That thou shouldst it so eye, and woo, Pouring upon it all thy art, As if that thou hadst nothing else to do? Indeed man’s whole estate Amounts (and richly) to serve thee: He did not heav’n and earth create, Yet studies them, not him by whom they be. Teach me thy love to know; That this new light, which now I see, May both the work and workman show: Then by a sunbeam I will climb to [...]

SURRENDER: The Hidden Work Of Divine Love by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

February 1, 2018

From The Joy of Full Surrender What great truths are hidden from the eyes even of Christians who think that they are the most enlightened!  How few among them understand that every cross, every circumstance, every leading of the will of God, gives us God himself in a way that can best be explained by comparing them with the most majestic mystery of all, the Holy Eucharist. Yet what is more certain?  Does not reason as well as faith reveal to us the presence of divine love in all creatures, and in all the events of life, just as indisputably as the words of Jesus Christ and of the church reveal the presence of the sacred flesh of our Savior under the Eucharistic elements?  Do we not know that by all created things, and by every event, [...]

SIMPLICITY: Bilbo Baggins by Philip Harnden

February 1, 2018

From Journeys of Simplicity Son of Bungo Baggins, grandson of the Old Took, and diminutive hero of J. R. R. Tolkien’s mythological novel, The Hobbit. A hobbit hole means comfort, Tolkien tells us, and Bilbo Baggins is a very comfortable hobbit indeed.  His bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, and dining rooms have paneled walls and carpeted floors.  He has cellars and pantries full of food and entire rooms devoted to clothes.  To Bilbo, “adventures” are nasty and uncomfortable affairs that make you late for dinner. But when he is visited by thirteen dwarfs and a wizard, “something Tookish” wakes inside him.  Before he can stop himself, he has left comfort behind to join one of the great adventures of modern literature. BILBO SETS [...]

SURRENDER: Christians’ Disregard Of God’s Action by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

January 25, 2018

From The Joy of Full Surrender What unfaithfulness there is in the world!  How unworthy are human thoughts of God!  We constantly complain of God’s action in a way we would not use toward the lowest of workmen about his trade.  We would reduce God’s action to the limits and rules of our feeble reason.  We presume to imagine that we can improve on his acts.  These are nothing but complaints and murmurings. We are surprised at the treatment endured by Jesus at the hands of the Jews.  Divine love! adorable Will of God! infallible truth! in what ways are you treated?  Can God’s will ever occur at other than the proper time?  Can it be mistaken?  “But there is this business of mine!  I require such and such a thing!  The [...]

SIMPLICITY: A Celtic Woman by Philip Harnden

January 25, 2018

From Journeys of Simplicity Hebridean householder and keeper of the songs, prayers, and blessings of Celtic Christianity. Nineteenth century in the Outer Hebrides, those wild islands off the west coast of Scotland.  A woman rises in the cold morning, her household still asleep.  In her small hut – day in, day out – she begins the quiet, essential rhythms of daybreak: bathing her face, kindling the night-banked fire.  With each act she breathes a prayer-of-three to the Trinity.  Kneeling there on the earthen floor, she transforms her ordinary chores into sacrament, her daily journey into pilgrimage. Esther de Waal, in her rich and sensitive writings on the Celtic way of prayer, so describes one anonymous woman of more than a hundred [...]

SURRENDER: God’s Word Written On The Heart by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

January 18, 2018

From The Joy of Full Surrender “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” says the Apostle, (Hebrews 13:8).  From the beginning of the world he was, as God, the source of the life of righteous souls.  From the first moment of his incarnation, his humanity shared this prerogative of his divinity.  He is working within us throughout our whole lives.  The time that will elapse till the end of the world is only as a day, and this day abounds with his action.  Jesus Christ lived and lives still.  He began in himself and he continues in his saints a life that will never end. Life of Jesus! including and extending beyond all the ages of time! life working new wonders of grace at every moment!  If no one is capable of [...]

SIMPLICITY: Annie Dillard by Philip Harnden

January 18, 2018

From Journeys of Simplicity (b. 1945) American writer, poet, and pilgrim. Dillard wrote the second half of her Pulitzer Prize-winning Pilgrim at Tinker Creek in a second-floor, cinderblock room with a window that overlooked a tar-and-gravel roof and a parking lot.  “Appealing workplaces are to be avoided,” she maintains.  “One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark.” In this writer’s cell she kept her fielder’s mitt (for afternoon softball games), some books, a bag of chocolate-covered peanuts, two or three quotes taped on index cards, a dozen different-colored pens, some piles of big index cards, and her messy yellow legal pads.  One day she shut the window blinds and never opened them again. [...]

SURRENDER: God Revealed In Ordinary Circumstances by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

January 11, 2018

From The Joy of Full Surrender The written word of God is full of mystery.  His word expressed in the events of the world is no less so.  These are two sealed books, and of both it can be said, “The letter kills.” God is the center of faith.  All that emanates from this center is hidden in the deepest mystery.  This word and these events are, so to speak, feeble rays from a sun obscured by clouds.  It is vain to expect to see with our mortal eyes the rays of this sun.  Even the eyes of our soul are blind to God and his works.  Obscurity here reigns rather than clear light; knowledge itself is ignorance, and we see without seeing.  The Holy Scripture is the mysterious Word of an even more mysterious God.  And the events of the [...]

SIMPLICITY: Henry Beston by Philip Harnden

January 11, 2018

From Journeys of Simplicity (1888–1968) American naturalist and writer best known for The Outermost House, his chronicle of a solitary year on a Cape Cod beach. “The world today,” wrote Henry Beston, “is sick to its thin blood for lack of elemental things, for fire before the hands, for water welling from the earth, for air, for the dear Earth itself underfoot.” To immerse himself in those elemental things, Beston had a neighbor build him a small house atop a dune on the farthest eastern reaches of Cape Cod, just thirty feet from the great Atlantic beach.  His “outermost house” measured twenty feet by sixteen and contained two rooms (a bedroom and a kitchen / living room) with a brick fireplace in the wall between.  Its [...]

SURRENDER: Finding The Will Of God by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

December 21, 2017

From The Joy of Full Surrender If we are able to greet each passing moment as the manifestation of the will of God, we will find in it all our heart can desire.  What could there be more reasonable, more perfect, more divine than the will of God?  Could any change of time or place or circumstance alter or increase its infinite value?  If you possess the secret of discovering it at every moment and in everything, then you possess all that is most precious and worthy to be desired.  What is it that you are searching for, you who desire to become holy?  Give full scope to your longings.  Your wishes need have no measure, no limit.  However much you may desire, I can show you how to attain it, even though it may be infinite.  There is [...]

SIMPLICITY: John Muir by Philip Harnden

December 21, 2017

From Journeys of Simplicity (1838–1914) Scottish-born American naturalist, inventor, writer, rover, and crusader for wilderness preservation. John Muir was a lifelong pacifist who moved to Canada during the Civil War conscription.  He was a mechanical wizard who refused to patent his inventions because “all improvements and inventions should be the property of the human race.”  When a factory accident temporarily blinded him, young Muir resolved to devote the rest of his life “to the study of the inventions of God.”  Upon regaining his sight, he set off alone on a thousand-mile botanizing walk from Indiana to the Gulf of Mexico. “Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the [...]

SURRENDER: Recognizing God’s Hand By Faith by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

December 14, 2017

From The Joy of Full Surrender Those who are enlightened by faith judge things in a very different way from those who have only their senses to guide them and ignore the inestimable treasures they conceal.  One who knows the king in disguise treats him very differently from another who, judging by appearances alone, fails to recognize his royalty and treats him as a commoner.  In the same way the soul that recognizes the will of God in even the smallest circumstances, even in those that are most distressing and fatal, receives them all with equal joy, pleasure, and respect.  That soul throws open all its doors to receive with honor what others fear and fly from in horror.  The outward appearance may be humble and contemptible, but [...]

SIMPLICITY: Thomas Merton by Philip Harnden

December 14, 2017

From Journeys of Simplicity (1915–1968) French-born American Roman Catholic priest and Trappist monk Father Louis, as Thomas Merton was known to his fellow monks, lived his last years as a hermit in the woods near his Cistercian abbey.  His hermitage was small and unadorned, a cinder-block building with cement floors.  He cut his own wood for the fireplace, hauled water from the abbey, cooked on a Coleman stove, and read by kerosene lamp.  Eventually, as his health deteriorated, electricity was installed.  Typically, he arose at 3:15 a.m. to begin the prayers of the day. He was perhaps the first Trappist hermit of the modern era.  He was surely a monk whose living and passing brimmed with irony.  Vowed to silence, he was known [...]

SIMPLICITY: On Traveling Light by Philip Harnden

December 7, 2017

From Journeys of Simplicity Twelve hundred years ago in China a middle-aged man named P’ang Yün loaded everything he owned onto a boat and sank it all in the Tung’t’ing Lake.  After that, we are told, “He lived like a single leaf.” See him there in the early morning, treading water in the middle of the lake, watching the last bubbles rise from the depths.  The air crisp and quiet.  The lake misty and as still as sky.  Then turning, stroking toward the shore. Justine Dalencourt, a French Quaker, was forced to leave her home at Fontaine-Lavaganne when the German army invaded France in 1914.  But first she planted her garden, saying, “I would rather they found something to eat at my house than that they should have to steal [...]

SURRENDER: God’s Hand Present Everywhere, by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

November 30, 2017

From The Joy of Full Surrender All creatures are living in the hand of God.  The senses perceive only the physical causes, but faith sees God’s hand in all things.  Faith believes that Jesus Christ lives in all things, that his divine operation continues to the end of time, and that every passing moment and the tiniest atom contain a portion of this hidden life and mysterious action.  The physical creation is a veil concealing the profound mysteries of the divine work.  After the Resurrection, Jesus took his disciples by surprise in his various appearances.  He showed himself to them under forms that they did not recognize, and, in the very act of making himself known to them, disappeared from their sight.  This same Jesus, ever [...]

WISDOM STORY: The Monk’s Three Sins by Nathalie Leone

November 30, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom A monk felt resentment toward the abbot of the monastery.  Unable to rid himself of this aggression – rather the reverse – he brooded over it, justifying it, and making excuses; thus, the hatred increased rapidly.  In the solitude of his cell he was assailed by a terrible thought: He wished to see the abbot dead. Hardly had this thought taken root in his mind than the abbot had an apoplectic fit.  He collapsed and died forthwith.  That very evening the Devil appeared to the monk.  He greeted the monk, but the poor brother did not reply.  He moaned, wrung his hands, rolled on the ground, and blamed himself for this vile act. The Devil deployed all his artifices, but the monk could not be [...]

POETRY: Immersion by Denise Levertov

November 29, 2017

There is anger abroad in the world, a numb thunder, because of God’s silence. But how naïve, to keep wanting words we could speak ourselves, English, Urdu, Tagalog, the French of Tours, the French of Haiti… Yes, that was one way omnipotence chose to address us—Hebrew, Aramaic, or whatever the patriarchs chose in their turn to call what they heard. Moses demanded the word, spoken and written. But perfect freedom assured other ways of speech. God is surely patiently trying to immerse us in a different language, events of grace, horrifying scrolls of history and the unearned retrieval of blessings lost for ever, the poor grass returning after drought, timid, persistent. God’s abstention is only from human dialects. The holy voice [...]

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.  [...]