STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Eleventh Station — Jesus Christ Is Nailed To The Cross, by Evelyn Underhill

April 9, 2014

From The Path of Eternal Wisdom, written under the pseudonym, John Cordelier The Eternal Wisdom Bound by Love to His World The cross, says Traherne, “is a tree set on fire with invisible flame, that illuminateth all the world.  The flame is love; the love in his bosom who died on it.  In the light of which we see how to possess all the things in Heaven and Earth after his similitude.” God’s way of possessing us, then, is to give himself for us: and thus only, by self-giving in the interests of life, can we possess all things after his similitude.  We, stretching ourselves gladly on the rood of the world, receive that world as our eternal heritage.  “To give all for love is a most sweet bargain.”  It is the bargain struck [...]

SILENCE: The Silence Of The Psalms, by Thomas Merton

April 3, 2014

From Bread In The Wilderness One thing remains to be explained, we have emphasized, in this book, the truth that the Psalms most often become contemplation when, through them, we manage to unite our sufferings with the sufferings of Christ, so that he in turn lifts us up in his own triumph and raises us to a foretaste of his glory.  Why this emphasis on suffering?  Suffering is not the only theme in the Psalter. We bring the substance of our own lives to the Psalter and offer it to Christ to be transformed by him.  It is all matter for sacrifice.  But since life on Earth is what it is, we all have plenty of trouble, plenty of suffering, plenty of misery.  We have our joys too.  And we should not omit to offer them to Christ and [...]

POETRY: The Face Of Pontius Pilate by J. Barrie Shepherd

March 31, 2014

From Faces at the Cross I had no business going there today; disastrous had I been recognized, although in that beggar’s robe, disheveled, dirt smeared look, I doubt anyone would have believed that I was the Roman Procurator— not even if I bellowed my name—Pilate— at the top of my lungs. On the other hand, I couldn’t stay away, had to see for my own self what kind of ending that young Jew would make of all his trials, betrayals, and buffetings. Yes, it may seem ridiculous, but I almost half believed that there would be some kind of miracle, that a deliverance would take place. No, not a rescue by his followers, they were a pathetic lot by all accounts, but rather an angelic intervention— yes, something of that sort. [...]

COMPASSION: The Inscrutability Of God

December 10, 2013

I have come to a decision.  A most unusual decision, to be sure, but one, nonetheless. Let me begin with yesterday.  Yesterday I had been thinking about this post for days and days, and yet, when I sat down to map it out, I realized that there was a frontispiece of a kind that belonged to this post. So I wrote on the love-in-hate conundrum that is the birth of Jesus.  Why not a bejeweled castle on top of the highest hill, surrounded by rings of angels, singing their hearts out? Why the dirt? Back to my decision. I find that love is not an emotion.  It is something very different indeed. Hear me out. Let’s just put love up against other emotions and see what we see. Anger, say.  Anger functions in a direct, straight line.  You [...]

POETRY: Beware, Soul Brother, by Chinua Achebe

October 11, 2013

We are the men of soul men of song we measure out our joys and agonies too, our long, long passion week in paces of the dance. We have come to know from surfeit of suffering that even the Cross need not be a dead end nor total loss if we should go to it striding the dirge of the soulful abia drums. . . But beware soul brother of the lures of ascension day the day of soporific levitation on high winds of skysong; beware for others there will be that day lying in wait leaden-footed, tone-deaf passionate only for the deep entrails of our soil; beware of the day we head truly skyward leaving that spoil to the long ravenous tooth and talon of their hunger. Our ancestors, soul brother, were wiser than is often made out. Remember they gave Ala, [...]

POETRY: Fire by Miguel De Unamuno

August 28, 2013

From The Christ of Velasquez I came to bring fire to the Earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! (Luke 12:49) Fire you came to cast upon the earth fire, You Yourself, a raining white light. Fire tongues upon your apostles descended—You in glory—tongues of the Word made Man in the dome of the heavens; of the luminous body that sustains itself on fish—offspring of water— silent and cold fish of the abyss that makes its nest far beneath raging gales. You are fire, which ever rises toward heaven seeking the sun, its father, its home forever, fire which sets ablaze our blood and burns the flesh of sin, the pulp of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, for your blood is fire on the cross, Seraph of Sorrow; yes truly you are the [...]

POETRY: The Transfiguration by Edwin Muir

August 7, 2013

So from the ground we felt that virtue branch Through all our veins till we were whole, our wrists As fresh and pure as water from a well, Our hands made new to handle holy things, The source of all our seeing rinsed and cleansed Till earth and light and water entering there Gave back to us the clear unfallen world. We would have thrown our clothes away for lightness, But that even they, though sour and travel stained, Seemed, like our flesh, made of immortal substance, And the soiled flax and wool lay light upon us Like friendly wonders, flower and flock entwined As in a morning field. Was it a vision? Or did we see that day the unseeable One glory of the everlasting world Perpetually at work, though never seen Since Eden locked the gate [...]

SALVATION: The Disappointment That Is Jesus

July 25, 2013

When I was young, Easter was all about hats.  It would have been sacrilegious to go to mass on that day without one.  Not just to cover the head, out of respect, out of reverence, but to tilt our fashion lances at our neighbor and to see who was still standing at the end. A literal Easter joust.  Down the center aisle, and then up the stairs to lay out the parsleyed  hard-boiled eggs and ham.  Whose dish is most prettily decorated? Men strutted their stuff in their collars and cuffs.  As though the amount of starch ironed into them revealed the amount of grace in their souls. Easter was also all about flowers.  Mostly lilies, I’ll admit.  But there were always contributing floral support to the lilies.  Small, red begonias [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Good Friday

March 29, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  I wish I could weep like that Abba Joseph related that Abba Isaac said, “I was sitting with Abba Poeman one day and I saw him in ecstasy.  I was on terms of great freedom of speech with him so I prostrated myself before him and begged him, saying, ‘Tell me where you were.’ “He was forced to answer and he said, ‘My thought was with Saint Mary, the mother of God, as she wept by the cross of the savior.  I wish I could always weep like that.'” Carrying Christ’s cross Pachomius went with his brother to an island to cut rushes for mats.  And as he was keeping vigil alone, praying to be taught the whole will of God, (Romans [...]

POETRY: Still Falls the Rain, by Dame Edith Sitwell

March 28, 2013

(The Raids, 1940, Night and Dawn) Still falls the Rain— Dark as the world of man, black as our loss— Blind as the nineteen hundred and forty nails Upon the Cross. Still falls the Rain With a sound like the pulse of the heart that is changed to the hammer-beat In the Potters’ Field, and the sound of the impious feet On the Tomb: Still falls the Rain In the Field of Blood where the small hopes breed and the human brain Nurtures its greed, that worm with the brow of Cain. Still falls the Rain At the feet of the Starved Man hung upon the Cross. Christ that each day, each night, nails there, have mercy on us— On Dives and on Lazarus: Under the Rain the sore and the gold are as one. Still falls the Rain— Still falls the Blood from [...]

MERCY: God’s Mercy And Love by Simone Weil

March 26, 2013

From Waiting for God It is in affliction itself that the splendor of God’s mercy shines, from its very depths, in the heart of its inconsolable bitterness.  If still persevering in our love, we fail to the point where the soul cannot keep back the dry, “My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”, if we remain at this point without ceasing to love, we end by touching something that is not affliction, not joy, something that is the central essence, necessary and pure, something not of the senses, common to joy and sorrow: the very love of God. We know then that joy is the sweetness of contact with the love of God, that affliction is the wound of this same contact when it is painful, and that only the contact matters, not the [...]

POETRY: Good Friday by Christina Rossetti

March 22, 2013

Am I a stone, and not a sheep, That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss, And yet not weep? Not so those women loved Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee; Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly; Not so the thief was moved; Not so the Sun and Moon Which hid their faces in a starless sky, A horror of great darkness at broad noon— I, only I. Yet give not o’er, But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock; Greater than Moses, turn and look once more And smite a [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Fourteenth Station — Jesus Is Laid In The Tomb, by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin

March 16, 2013

From The Journey to Peace Joseph of Arimathea laid Jesus’s body in a tomb hewn out of the rock, in which no one had yet been buried. That was the Day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was about to  begin.  The women who  had come with him from Galilee followed along behind.  They saw the tomb and how his body was buried.  Then they went home to prepare spices and perfumes.  They observed the Sabbath as a day of rest, in accordance with the law. (Luke 23:53-56) The Shadow of the Cross Falls Upon Our Joys and Sorrows The Gospel of Saint John (11:1-44) focuses on the theme of life and death.  Jesus learns that his beloved friend, Lazarus, is seriously ill, but he waits two days before setting out for Bethany, where Lazarus lived. [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Thirteenth Station — Jesus Is Taken Down From The Cross, by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin

March 16, 2013

From The Journey to Peace There were also women present looking on from a distance.  Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James the younger and Joses, and Salome. These women had followed Jesus when he was in Galilee and attended to his needs.  There were also many others who had come up with him to Jerusalem.  As it grew dark (it was Preparation Day, that is, the eve of the Sabbath), Joseph from Arimathea arrived – a distinguished member of the Sanhedrin.  He was another who looked forward to the reign of God.  He was bold enough to seek an audience with Pilate and urgently requested the body of Jesus.  Pilate was surprised that Jesus should have died so soon. He summoned the centurion and inquired whether Jesus [...]

POETRY: On A Theme From Julian’s Chapter XX by Denise Levertov

March 15, 2013

Six hours outstretched in the sun, yes, hot wood, the nails, blood trickling into the eyes, yes— but the thieves on their neighbor crosses survived till after the soldiers had come to fracture their legs, or longer. Why single out the agony? What’s a mere six hours? Torture then, torture now, the same, the pain’s the same, immemorial branding iron, electric prod. Hasn’t a child dazed in the hospital ward they reserve for the most abused, known worse? The air we’re breathing, these very clouds, ephemeral billows languid upon the sky’s moody ocean, we share with women and men who’ve held out days and weeks on the rack— and in the ancient dust of the world what particles of the long tormented, what [...]

LENT: Thursday of the Fourth Week in Lent, by Henri J. M. Nouwen

March 14, 2013

From Show Me The Way How can you believe since you look to each other for glory and are not concerned with the glory that comes from the one God? —John 5:44 I have gradually become aware how central this word glory is in John’s Gospel.  There is God’s glory, the right glory that leads to life.  And there is human glory, the vain glory that leads to death.  All through his Gospel, John shows how we are tempted to prefer vain glory over the glory that comes from God. Human glory is always connected with some form of competition.  Human glory is the result of being considered better, faster, more beautiful, more powerful, or more successful than others.  Glory conferred by people is glory which results from being [...]

SERMON: The Spirit Of Prayer by Francis de Sales

March 10, 2013

We have not to speak of the efficient cause of prayer.  It is necessary for us to know, then, who can and who ought to pray.  The question would soon be decided were we to say that all can pray and that all ought to do so.  But in order the better to satisfy the mind, we shall treat this subject at greater length. In the first place we must realize that God cannot pray at all, since prayer is a petition which is made by grace and requires that we know that we are in need of something, for we are not accustomed to ask for that which we already possess.  Well, God can ask for nothing through grace, but rather, he does everything by divine authority.  Moreover, he cannot have need of anything, since he possesses everything.  It is [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Eleventh Station — Jesus Is Nailed To The Cross, by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin

March 9, 2013

From The Journey to Peace When they came to the Skull Place, as it was called, they crucified him there and the criminals as well, one on his right and the other on his left.  Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.” It was now around midday, and darkness came over the whole land until midafternoon with an eclipse of the sun. (Luke 23:33-34a, 44) The New Covenant is Sealed With Jesus’s Blood In the covenant God promises to take care of his people as a shepherd cares for his flock.  The people, on their part, take on the responsibilities of observing God’s law, which in turn teaches them how to live in right relationships with him and with one another.  The covenant is sealed with [...]

POETRY: Nocturne, by Gabriela Mistral

March 8, 2013

Our Father who art in Heaven, Why hast Thou forsaken me! Thou dids’t remember the February fruit, When torn was its pulp of ruby. My side is pierced also Yet Thou will’st not look at me! Thou dids’t remember the dark grape cluster And did’st give it to the crimsoned press, And Thou did’st fan the poplar leaves With thy breath of gentleness. Yet in the deep wine press of death Thou still would’st not my heart express! As I walked I saw violets open; And I drank the wine of the wind, And I have lowered my yellowed eyelids Never more to see Winter or Spring. And I have tightened my mouth to stifle The verses I am never to sing. Thou hast wounded the cloud of Autumn And Thou will’st not turn toward me! [...]

LENT: Third Sunday in Lent, by Henri J. M. Nouwen

March 3, 2013

From Show Me The Way Whoever drinks this water will be thirsty again; but no one who drinks the water that I shall give him will ever be thirsty again: the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water, welling up for eternal life. —John 4:14 In the midst of Lent I am made aware that Easter is coming again: the days are becoming longer, the snow is withdrawing, the sun is bringing new warmth, and a bird is singing.  Yesterday, during the night prayers, a cat was crying!  Indeed, spring announces itself.  And tonight, O Lord, I heard you speak to the Samaritan woman.  You said: “Anyone who drinks the water that I shall give will never be thirsty again; the water that I shall give will  turn into a spring [...]

ADVENT MEDITATION: From the Stable to the Cross by J. Heinrich Arnold and Edith Stein

December 8, 2012

Jesus’s life began in a stable and ended on the cross between two criminals.  The Apostle Paul said he wanted to proclaim nothing but this crucified Christ.  We, too, have nothing to hold on to except this Christ.  We must ask ourselves again and again: Are we willing to go his way, from the stable to the cross?  As disciples we are not promised comfortable and good times.  Jesus says we must deny ourselves and suffer with him and for him.  That is the only way to follow him, but behind it lies the glory of life — the glowing love of God, which is so much greater than our hearts and our lives.  (J. Heinrich Arnold) The Christian mysteries are an indivisible whole.  If we become immersed in one, we are led to all the others.  [...]

POETRY: The Victory, by Thomas Merton

November 23, 2012

Sing your new song in the winepress where these bloody pence Weep from the skin of our Gethsemani, Knowing that we must die to break the seed our prison And spring like wheat from the wet earth Of who knows what arena: Sing when the grinding locks Break up our little cages, Casting our exultation in those mills of teeth To praise God with the great Ignatius Martyr. Smile in the white eyes of the angry mist For we have heard the thunder of the thousand harpers Outside a blinded window, There on the silent cobblestones, Ring from the hobnails of a firing-squad Hard by the russet, russet wall. Shall we not love You, Christ, Best in a shuttered house, Although the silver windows sweat with dread? Shall we not praise You, Savior, Now at the [...]

POETRY: The Last Miracle by J. Barrie Shepherd

April 18, 2012

What did you, could you think as they pounded through your open palms forcing coarse, bloody iron nails to sink deep into the splintered wood? Did you feel the grasp of panic, that sudden, stomach-wrenching sense that this, at the very last, is it — no further chance of changing, turning back? Were you, perhaps, bewildered, having hoped, despite defiant words, for at least one late and minor miracle on your own behalf, considering all the rest? Did flooding fear compound with rage and hate at the sheer blind brutality of soldiers, fellow sons of God, treating you like meat to be hung raw in a butcher’s window? Or dare we yet believe what was written, that your concern was, even at the end, to shield, to plead the cause of all who wield [...]


December 29, 2011

Spiritual warfare is a very serious subject, perhaps the most serious of all subjects.  Clearly some religions equate spiritual warfare with hand-to-hand combat, bombing raids, and other acts of violence.  To most of the world, warfare is warfare.  Period.  Some Christians think it right to bomb abortion clinics and kill doctors. But, in truth, spiritual warfare has absolutely nothing to do with violence. Beginning my approach to spiritual warfare with the crucifixion of Jesus is, admittedly, a very, very tough place to begin.  This should most probably be the last lesson on spiritual warfare, but there would be so many lessons before this one that it might be years before I got to it, and there is so much going on in some churches [...]