Faith

POETRY: The Doubter’s Prayer, by Anne Brontë

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 [...]

POETRY: New Mexico, 1992, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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 [...]

POETRY: The Beautiful, Striped Sparrow, by Mary Oliver

In the afternoons, in the almost empty fields, I hum the hymns I used to sing in church. They could not tame me, so they would not keep me, alas, and how that feels, the weight of it, I will not tell any of you, not ever. Still, as they promised, God, once he is in your heart, is everywhere— so even here among the weeds and the brisk trees. How long does it take to hum a hymn? Strolling one or two acres of the sweetness or the world, not counting a lapse, now and again, of sheer emptiness. Once a deer stood quietly at my side. And sometimes the wind has touched my cheek like a spirit. Am I lonely? The beautiful, striped sparrow, serenely, on the tallest weed in his kingdom, also sings without [...]

POETRY: The Ten Lepers, by Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon

’Neath the olives of Samaria, in far-famed Galilee, Where dark green vines are mirrored in a placid silver sea, ’Mid scenes of tranquil beauty, glowing sun-sets, rosy dawn, The Master and disciples to the city journeyed on. And, as they neared a valley where a sheltered hamlet lay, A strange, portentous wailing made them pause upon their way— Voices fraught with anguish, telling of aching heart and brow, Which kept moaning: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us now!” Softly raised the gentle Saviour His eyes like midnight star, And His mournful gaze soon rested on ten lepers, who, afar, Stood motionless and suppliant, in sackcloth rudely clothed, Poor Pariahs! by their nearest, their dearest, shunned and loathed. Not unto Him prayed [...]

POETRY: This World Is Not Conclusion, by Emily Dickinson

This World is not Conclusion. A Species stands beyond— Invisible, as Music— But positive, as Sound— It beckons, and it baffles— Philosophy, don’t know— And through a Riddle, at the last— Sagacity, must go— To guess it, puzzles scholars— To gain it, Men have borne Contempt of Generations And Crucifixion, shown— Faith slips—and laughs, and rallies— Blushes, if any see— Plucks at a twig of Evidence— And asks a Vane, the way— Much Gesture, from the Pulpit— Strong Hallelujahs roll— Narcotics cannot still the Tooth That nibbles at the [...]

THE SANCTITY OF LIFE: Things Seen And Unseen, by Sam Torode

From boundless.org A woman in a white coat walked into the room and flipped on the fluorescent lights, jarring my wife awake.  Bethany had been asleep for about half an hour – the longest nap she had managed all day.  Though the doctor had ordered her to get plenty of sleep, nurses kept coming in every few minutes to take her temperature and blood pressure. The day before, we were invited to lunch at a Thai restaurant.  When we returned home, Bethany was bothered by a cramp in her side.  Blaming the food, she laid down in bed.  But after four hours of increasing pain, we left for the emergency room, thinking that it might be appendicitis.  We were right, after after a few hours the appendix was removed with no complications [...]

FAITH: Road To Emmaus Gives Hope To All Christians, Says Holy Father

From Catholic News Agency (Vatican City, April 6, 2008) The road to Emmaus “is the path of renewal and maturation in faith for all Christians,”   Pope Benedict told the many thousands of pilgrims that packed St. Peter’s Square for the Regina Caeli Prayer today at noon. The Gospel of this Sunday – the third Easter – is the famous story told of the disciples of Emmaus. It tells of two followers of Christ who, sad and disheartened, left Jerusalem the day after the Sabbath, the third since his death, to go to a nearby village called Emmaus. Along the road, the risen Jesus came up beside them, but they did not recognize him. Sensing their dejection, he explained on the basis of the scriptures that the Messiah had to suffer and [...]

FAITH: Meditation On The Road To Emmaus

From The Monks of Norcia During the Triduum, that is to say the three days before Easter, the Eucharist is not celebrated as usual. Instead, on Maundy Thursday, we celebrate an evening liturgy, a particular Mass which commemorates the Institution of the Eucharist. Then, Friday and Saturday, there isn’t a Mass until the Easter Vigil (the liturgy of Good Friday is not a Mass). Other than these days, the Eucharist can be celebrated as usual on any day of the year. This is necessary for several reasons. One of these is to show us that the Eucharist is the fruit of the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. That first Maundy Thursday, Jesus instituted the Eucharist only in view of the events of the days to follow. Then, the Easter [...]

POETRY: The Rat Of Faith, by Philip Levine

A blue jay poses on a stake meant to support an apple tree newly planted. A strong wind on this clear cold morning barely ruffles his tail feathers. When he turns his attention toward me, I face his eyes without blinking. A week ago my wife called me to come see this same bird chase a rat into the thick leaves of an orange tree. We came as close as we could and watched the rat dig his way into an orange, claws working meticulously. Then he feasted, face deep into the meal, and afterwards washed himself in juice, paws scrubbing soberly. Surprised by the whiteness of the belly, how open it was and vulnerable, I suggested I fetch my .22. She said, “Do you want to kill him?” I didn’t. There are oranges enough for him, the [...]

THE CHURCH: Running With The Witnesses, by John Piper 

From Desiring God And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect. Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 11:39–12:2) Running — Not Meandering The book of Hebrews was written to a church that was getting old and was [...]

HOMILY: Towards Holiness, by Josemaría Escrivá

We are deeply moved, and our hearts profoundly shaken, when we listen attentively to that cry of Saint Paul: This is God’s will for you, your sanctification.  Today, once again, I set myself this goal and I also remind you and all mankind: this is God’s will for us, that we be saints. In order to bring peace, genuine peace, to souls; in order to transform the Earth and to seek God, our Lord, in the world and through the things of the world, personal sanctity is indispensable.  In my conversations with people from so many countries and from all kinds of social backgrounds, I am often asked: What do you say to us married folk?  To those of us who work on the land?  To widows?  To young people? I reply systematically that I [...]

POETRY: The Land Of Silence, by May Sarton

1 Time beats like a heart; we do not hear it But we are nourished as by sleep after pain. Death is so close to life that we can bear it. The smallest veins drink time and breathe again. 2 The horizon is inhabited by mountains, The foreground presents birds. In the morning I saw the gray dove In the bare trees, active as a mother, And in the evening without words The intense violet light Lifted the mountains away into night. And I knew I did not have to make a choice But only to look at each thing as it came, To look as one might listen to a voice Unknown, but calling a familiar name. 3 Now I am here in the land of silence, Of the near dove and the distant hills, I know that the surface is the essence, No stripping down to what is already [...]

FAITH: He First, by Father Andrew

From Meditations for Every Day We love him because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19) There are some truths which make the whole difference to life, and the thought of the priority of God is one of them.  God is first in priority of time.  In the story of Genesis (and science tells us the same thing), the world was got ready for man before man came into it.  Beauty was fashioned before the eye was fashioned to see it.  The songs of the birds, the sigh of the wind, and the sound of the sea, were all there before the ear.  We live because God first lived.  The world of speculation that scientific people give us only puts the mystery a little further back.  They never can tell us of the First Cause.  There is no other answer but that [...]

TRINITY: Faith Is Our Fortress, by Corwin C. Roach

From In Spirit and In Truth Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity; we beseech thee that thou wouldest keep us stedfast in this faith, and evermore defend us from all adversities, who livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen. The original form of the Trinity Collect which was retained until 1662 prayed “that through the stedfastness of this faith, we may evermore be defended from all adversity.”  Our present form separates this clause into two.  We pray that we may be kept stedfast in the Faith and that God may defend us.  Although [...]

POETRY: No Coward Soul Is Mine, by Emily Brontë

No coward soul is mine, No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere: I see Heaven’s glories shine, And faith shines equal, arming me from fear. O God within my breast, Almighty ever-present Deity! Life—that in me hast rest, As I—undying Life—have Power in Thee! Vain are the thousand creeds That move men’s hearts: unutterably vain; Worthless as withered weeds, Or idlest froth amid the boundless main, To waken doubt in one Holding so fast by thy infinity; So surely anchored on The steadfast rock of Immortality. With wide-embracing love Thy spirit animates eternal years, Pervades and broods above, Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears. Though earth and moon were gone, And suns and universes ceased to [...]

SERMON: The Canaanite Woman, by Bede the Venerable

Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshiped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said [...]

PRAYER: A Prayer Of Confession For Lent (2), by James S. Lowry

From Prayers for the Lord’s Day: Hope for the Exiles Lord God, forgive us. Unlike the psalmist, when we walk through the shadow of death, we sometimes fear evil. Unlike Paul, we are not always sure that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Unlike John of Patmos, in the midst of injustice we do not always see a new Heaven and a new Earth. Forgive again, we pray, our feeble use of the faith you give, and restore to us the hope of trust and the trust of hope. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. [...]

SUFFERING: To Know The Cross, by Thomas Merton

From No Man Is An Island I pray that we may be found worthy to be cursed, censured, and ground down, and even put to death in the name of Jesus Christ, so long as Christ himself is not put to death in us. (Paulinus of Nola) The Christian must not only accept suffering: he must make it holy.  Nothing so easily becomes unholy as suffering. Merely accepted, suffering does nothing for our souls except, perhaps, to harden them.  Endurance alone is no consecration.  True asceticism is not a mere cult of fortitude.  We can deny ourselves rigorously for the wrong reason and end up by pleasing ourselves mightily with our self-denial. Suffering is consecrated to God by faith – not by faith in suffering, but by faith in God.  Some of us [...]

SATURDAY READING: What Do You Want? The Place of Seeing God, by Ann Voskamp

From One Thousand Gifts Every time you feel in God’s creatures something pleasing and attractive, do not let your attention be arrested by them alone, but, passing them by, transfer your thought to God and say: “O my God, if thy creations are so full of beauty, delight, and joy, how infinitely more full of beauty, delight, and joy art thou thyself, creator of all! (Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain) “You will want to see this.” He takes my shoulders in his hands, large and field-worn, and draws me close.  I fight the urge to writhe. It’s not him.  Not his hands holding me, the whisper of his voice, his eyes inviting me now.  It’s just that I’m feeling time’s strangling grip, struggling to [...]

BELIEF: A Christmas Creed

Author unknown I believe in Jesus Christ and in the beauty of the gospel begun in Bethlehem. I believe in the one whose spirit glorified a little town; and whose spirit still brings music to persons all over the world, in towns both large and small. I believe in the one for whom the crowded inn could find no room, and I confess that my heart still sometimes wants to exclude Christ from my life today. I believe in the one whom the rulers of the Earth ignored and the proud could never understand; whose life was among common people, whose welcome came from persons of hungry hearts. I believe in the one who proclaimed the love of God to be invincible. I believe in the one whose cradle was a mother’s arms, whose modest home in Nazareth had [...]

FAITH: Evil, a conversation with Elie Wiesel

From Evil and Exile (Philippe-Michaël de Saint-Cheron is a French journalist) Philippe-Michaël de Saint-Cheron: How do you reconcile the ideas of providence and silence, or what Buber called the eclipse of God?  Do you feel that providence died during the Shoah [holocaust]?  What possible meaning can it have today, when it is clearly so sorely lacking? Elie Wiesel: There are some paradoxes that I have to accept.  I simply have no choice.  That particular one is essential, and it is equally essential to face it, though I have found no way to resolve it.  I do not understand it now, and I never will.  I first asked this question more than forty years ago, and it is as valid today as ever.  My only answer is that I would not like [...]

SUFFERING: Recapturing A Sense Of Mystery, by Basil Hume

From The Mystery of the Cross In our day we need to recapture a sense of mystery.  Pascal made the distinction between a mystery and a problem, and it is one we have tended to forget.  A problem is an obstacle, a conundrum something that can in principle be formulated and solved.  A mystery is utterly different.  It lies beyond us; it is too rich for our understanding.  It can be entered into, explored, even inhabited; but it can never be exhausted or fathomed. Our age dislikes intensely the idea of mystery, because it directly exposes our limitations.  The thought that there could be something, or someone, beyond human comprehension or imagining is, of course, exciting, but it is also belittling.  It puts us in our place, and that [...]

FAITH: Is There Hope For Faith, by Thomas H. Groome

From Hope At the end of his public ministry, Luke has Jesus wonder, “Will there be faith on Earth?” upon his return.  Faith, as always, is the foundation of hope, but in our postmodern and secularized era, the more pressing question may be, “Is there hope for faith?”  This essay proposes the rationale why we can have such hope and a pedagogy that, by God’s grace, may ensure as much. There is an obvious logic to Aquinas’s sequencing of the three great theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. As Dominic Doyle lays out so clearly, faith is presumed to come first as what we believe, encourages us to hope for the good we desire, and should result in love for, and in keeping with, our ultimate desire: God.  In theory, we move [...]

FAITH: It Takes Too Much Faith!, by Thomas Alan Wheeler

From Second Wind Last night around 10 p.m., we heard shots fired just outside my door.  I rushed to see what was up, a normal occurrence in my new life.  My neighbor across the street was standing in his side lawn, saw me at the door, and asked in a loud voice, “You got any problem with what I just did?” “Well, I don’t know what you just did,” I said, certain he had fired the shots.  “I just came out to see if everything was OK and everyone was still alive.”  He assured me everything was fine.  I heard the neighbor behind him asking the same thing as I went inside.  I guess he just decided to take out a pistol and start shooting.  Thankfully not at me! I walked away shaking my head – again. (Author’s journal entry, [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: Approaching God And The Family Of Faith, by Volker Rabens

From A Biblical Theology of the Holy Spirit The Initiating Word of the Spirit Christian life begins with the work of the Spirit.  In 1 Thessalonians 1:5, Paul narrates how the gospel came to the Thessalonians “not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”  This formulation conveys one of the two aspects of Paul’s holistic mission to which I want to draw attention to this section (the second aspect being its relational nature).  Namely, 1:5 demonstrates the charismatic nature of Paul’s mission activity.  The gospel does not come to the Thessalonians merely as words but also as power and in the Holy Spirit.  Two parallels from later Pauline epistles, namely 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 and Romans [...]

MYSTICISM: From Faith to Wisdom, by Thomas Merton

From New Seeds of Contemplation The living God, the God who is God and not a philosopher’s abstraction, lies infinitely beyond the reach of anything our eyes can see or our minds can understand.  No matter what perfection you predicate of him, you have to add that your concept is only a pale analogy of the perfection that is in God, and he is not literally what you conceive by what term. He who is infinite light is so tremendous in his evidence that our minds only see him as darkness.  Lux in tenebris lucet et tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt.  (The light shines in darkness and the darkness has not understood it.) If nothing that can be seen can either be God or represent him to us as he is, then to find God we must pass beyond [...]

POETRY: A Homecoming, by Wendell Berry

One faith is bondage. Two are free. In the trust of old love, cultivation shows a dark and graceful wilderness at its heart. Wild in that wilderness, we roam the distance of our faith; safe beyond the bounds of what we know. O love, open. Show me my country. Take me [...]

LENT: God And Understanding, by Evelyn Underhill

From The House of the Soul “The utmost that we know of God,” says Saint Thomas, “is nothing in respect of that which He is.” Such an outlook on the Unchanging redeems our prayer from pettiness, discounts our worries, brings a solemn selfless peace.  Everything drops away except awe, longing, and humility.  “Whom have I in Heaven, but thee? and there is none upon Earth that I desire beside thee.”  The soul stands over against the eternal reality of the universe, and finds there a friend and not a void, Deus Meus!  My God!  We have, in our creaturely weakness, a personal hold upon infinite reality.  The Psalms are full of this exultant certitude.  “O God, thou art my God! early will I seek [...]

PRAYER: Always Pray And Do Not Lose Heart, by John Piper

From What Jesus Demands from the World And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. (Luke 18:1) Pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44) But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. (Matthew 6:6) And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do. (Matthew 6:7-8) Pray then like this: “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed by you name.” (Matthew 6:9) Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. (Matthew 9:38) How much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:13) Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16:24) [...]

PRAYER: Theology Is Prayer: Prayer Is Theology, by Bernard Häring

From Prayer: The Integration of Faith and Life Whoever wants to make a contribution to theology has to do hard and careful work, has to dedicate himself to painstaking scientific research in whatever fields may lead him to an ever better knowledge of God and man.  He must submit himself to scientific method, must have a knowledge of languages and of the social and cultural context of scripture and later traditions.  He needs intuition, a sense of synthesis and expertise in history, in order to assess the context in which the church has worked out her doctrine and life, and thus distinguish the mainstream of divine tradition from ossified human [...]