POETRY: Heaven by Thomas Ken

December 22, 2018

Nor eye, ear, thought, can take the height To which my song is taking flight, Yet raised an humble wing, My guess of Heaven I’ll sing; ‘Tis love’s reward, and love is fired By guessing at the bliss desired. Guess then at saints’ eternal lot, By due considering what ‘tis not, No misery, want, or care, No death, no darkness there, No troubles, storms, sighs, groans, or tears, No injury, pains, sickness, fears. They dwell in pure ecstatic light, Of God Triune have blissful sight, Of fontal love who gave God filial man to save, Of Jesus’s love, who death sustained, By which the saints their glory [...]

POETRY: Tasting Heaven by Robert Bly

October 19, 2018

Some people say that every poem should have God in it somewhere. But of course Wallace Stevens Wasn’t one of those. We live, he said, “in a world Without heaven to follow.” Shall we agree That we taste heaven only once, when we see Her at fifteen walking among falling leaves? It’s possible. And yet as Stevens lay dying He invited the priest in. There, I’ve said it. The priest is not an argument, only an instance. But our gusty emotions say to me that we have Tasted heaven many times: these delicacies Are left over from some larger [...]

POETRY: Past And Future by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

May 2, 2018

My future will not copy fair my past On any leaf but Heaven’s. Be fully done Supernal Will! I would not fain be one Who, satisfying thirst and breaking fast, Upon the fullness of the heart at last Says no grace after meat. My wine has run Indeed out of my cup, and there is none To gather up the bread of my repast Scattered and trampled; yet I find some good In earth’s green herbs, and streams that bubble up Clear from the darkling ground,—content until I sit with angels before better food:— Dear Christ! when thy new vintage fills my cup, This hand shall shake no more, nor that wine [...]

POETRY: My Prayers Must Meet A Brazen Heaven by Gerard Manley Hopkins

March 15, 2017

My prayers must meet a brazen heaven And fail and scatter all away. Unclean and seeming unforgiven My prayers I scarcely call to pray. I cannot buoy my heart above; Above I cannot entrance win. I reckon precedents of love, But feel the long success of sin. My heaven is brass and iron my earth: Yea, iron is mingled with my clay, So harden’d is it in this dearth Which praying fails to do away. Nor tears, nor tears this clay uncouth Could mould, if any tears there were. A warfare of my lips in truth, Battling with God, is now my [...]

ADVENT MEDITATION: There We Live by Edward Bouverie Pusey

December 17, 2016

But our citizenship is in Heaven. (Philippians 3:20) “Our citizenship is in Heaven.”  Many are the meanings of this word, and every way the Apostle says we are in Heaven.  For the word, in the original language, means the city or state to which we belong, or the way of life of the citizens, and in all these ways he places us in Heaven.  He does not say only, our faith, our hopes, our expectation, the object of our longing, is in Heaven; he speaks not of what is to be, but of what is; “our citizenship is in Heaven.”  Again, he does not say, “It ought to be,” “let it be,” “let our deeds and words and thoughts aim thitherward, thither aspire, thither be directed”; he does not [...]

POETRY: Heaven by Thomas Ken

December 14, 2016

Nor eye, ear, thought, can take the height To which my song is taking flight, Yet raised an humble wing, My guess of Heaven I’ll sing; ‘Tis love’s reward, and love is fired By guessing at the bliss desired. Guess then at saints’ eternal lot, By due considering what ’tis not, No misery, want, or care, No death, no darkness there, No troubles, storms, sighs, groans, or tears, No injury, pains, sickness, fears. They dwell in pure ecstatic light, Of God Triune have blissful sight, Of fontal love who gave God filial man to save, Of Jesus’s love, who death sustained, By which the saints their glory [...]

GOD 101: The Last Lesson

July 15, 2016

I was a young woman when the serious lessons began.  After my time of Rumspringa – or in my case, running away from God. Not long after I was hunted down and recaptured. Well, it wasn’t that dramatic.  But it adds a nice flourish to the story, don’t you think? It didn’t take me long to realize that the lessons weren’t like lessons in school: lessons I could apply myself to and learn easily and with a little time and effort. We’ll leave geometry out of the above equation. But, in spite of needing infinite time, patience, and the willingness to actually apply myself to these lessons, they just kept coming. The Lesson of Silence…. The Meaning of Patience…. The Lesson of Six…. The [...]

SERMON: Why Stand There Looking Up Toward Heaven? by C. S. Song

July 10, 2016

From And Their Eyes Are Opened So when they [the disciples] had come together, they asked him [Jesus], “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?”  He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth.”  When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.  While he was going and they were gazing up toward Heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them.  They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking [...]

POETRY: The Half-Finished Heaven by Tomas Tranströmer

July 8, 2016

Despondency breaks off its course. Anguish breaks off its course. The vulture breaks off its flight. The eager light streams out, even the ghosts take a draught. And our paintings see daylight, our red beasts of the ice-age studios. Everything begins to look around. We walk in the sun in hundreds. Each man is a half-open door leading to a room for everyone. The endless ground under us. The water is shining among the trees. The lake is a window into the earth. [...]

HEAVEN: Reorienting Ourselves To Heaven As Our Home by Randy Alcorn

July 7, 2016

From Heaven I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same. (C. S. Lewis) When I see ocean fish in an aquarium, I enjoy watching them, but I feel as if something’s wrong.  They don’t belong there.  It’s not their home.  The fish weren’t made for that little glass box; they were made for a great ocean. I suppose the fish don’t know any better, but I wonder if their instincts tell them that their true home is elsewhere.  I know our instincts tell us that this fallen world isn’t our [...]

POETRY: Refusing Heaven, by Jack Gilbert

July 7, 2016

The old women in black at early Mass in winter are a problem for him. He could tell by their eyes they have seen Christ. They make the kernel of his being and the clarity around it seem meager, as though the needs girders to hold up his unusable soul. But he chooses against the Lord. He will not abandon his life. Not his childhood, not the ninety-two bridges across the two rivers of his youth. Nor the mills along the banks where he became a young man as he worked. The mills are eaten away, and eaten again by the sun and its rusting. He needs them even though they are gone, to measure against. The silver is worn down to the brass underneath and is the better for it. He will gauge by the smell of concrete sidewalks after night rain. He is [...]

HEAVEN: Heaven Is Fullness Of Communion With God, by Pope John Paul II

July 5, 2016

  Heaven as the fullness of communion with God was the theme of the Holy Father’s catechesis at the General Audience of 21 July 1999. One: When the form of this world has passed away, those who have welcomed God into their lives and have sincerely opened themselves to his love, at least at the moment of death, will enjoy that fullness of communion with God which is the goal of human life. As the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church teaches, “this perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity, this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels, and all the blessed is called “the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness.” [...]

HEAVEN: Get Ready For Heaven, by James Martin

July 5, 2016

From Between Heaven and Mirth By now I hope you can see why “excessive levity” is not to be feared, as that elderly priest told my friend, Mike, all those years ago, but to be welcomed.  And – it’s worth mentioning again – this is not to say that one should ignore the reality of suffering and sadness.  But too many religious people overemphasize these aspects of life while downplaying the more mirthful ones.  This book has tried to balance things out a bit.  Joy, humor, and laughter are virtues necessary for a healthy spiritual life. Those virtues also point us beyond our Earthly lives.  And that’s the last thing I would like to speak about before we end our discussion. This is not the place for a long [...]

PRAYER: Prayer For The Attainment Of Heaven, by Thomas Aquinas

July 4, 2016

O God of all consolation, you who see in us nothing but your own gifts, I entreat you to give me, at the close of this life, knowledge of the First Truth, and enjoyment of your divine majesty. Most generous Rewarder, give to my body also the beauty of lightsomeness, responsiveness of flesh to spirit, a quick readiness and delicacy, and the gift of unconquerable strength. And add to these an overflow of riches, a spate of delights, a confluence of all good things, so that I may rejoice in your consolation above me, in a place of loveliness below me, in the glorification of body and soul within me, in the delight of friends and angels all around me. Most merciful Father, being with you may my mind attain the enlightenment of wisdom, my [...]

LOVE: Where Is Heaven?, by Jacob Boehme

June 2, 2016

Men have always been of the opinion that Heaven is many hundred, no, many thousands of miles distant above the face of the Earth, and that God dwells only in that upward Heaven. Some have undertaken to measure this height and distance, and have produced many strange and ghastly devices to do so. Indeed, before my knowledge and revelation of God, I believed that the only true Heaven was a round circumference, very azure of a light blue color, which extended above the stars; and I supposed that God had deposited therein his peculiar being, and that he ruled in this world only in the power of his Holy Spirit. But when this notion had produced many problems in me and I, at last, found it repulsive, doubtless from the moving of the Spirit, [...]

POETRY: The Heaven Of Glory And The Heaven Of Faith by Elizabeth of the Trinity

November 25, 2015

Voice of Heaven We who are bathed in Light, within the “Three”— The Face of God, the splendor of its rays— See, by those shinings, into Mystery: They ever show new secrets, Heaven’s days. Infinite Being! Depth unsoundable! Delighted, lost in Your Divinity— O Trinity, God thrice-immutable, We see Yourself in Your own clarity. Voice of Earth The saints in Heav’n… but, also, here below Souls come and merge themselves in such a Love, In mystery and night this happens so— God satisfies: in dark, in Day above. Through everything… on earth: already we’re Possessing You, our Peace and vision! (for, As in one light we gather, there and here, We lose ourselves in God, for evermore!) Voice of Heaven As [...]

SERMON: The Earthly And Heavenly Citizenship by Isaac Williams

November 8, 2015

No one serves an Earthly master so faithfully, no one honors an Earthly king so truly as a good Christian, because he does it for the sake of a Divine Master and a Heavenly King. Now this the Gospel sets before us in a very memorable incident and divine saying, to which it gave rise. When our Lord was teaching in the temple, a few days before his death, we read, Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that Thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or [...]


March 23, 2015

From Light of Christ It is a great thing for any soul to say without reserve in respect of its own life, “Thy kingdom come!” for this means not only the acknowledgement of our present alienation, our fundamental egoism and impurity, but the casting down of the will, the destruction of our small natural sovereignty; the risk and adventure which accompany an unconditional submission to God, a total acceptance of the rule of love.  None can guess beforehand with what anguish, what tearing of old hard tissues and habits, the kingdom will force a path into the soul, and confront self-love in its last fortress with the penetrating demand of God.  Yet we cannot use the words unless we are prepared to pay this price: nor is the [...]

SERMON: Heaven And Hell — It Is a Matter of the Heart, by C. S. Song

October 26, 2014

From And Their Eyes Are Opened On that day, when evening had come, he [Jesus] said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.  And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was.  Other boats were with him.  A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.  But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace!  Be still!”  Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.  He said to them, “Why are you afraid?  Have you still no faith?”  And they were filled [...]

PRAYER: Ten Meditations, by Francis de Sales

July 28, 2014

From Introduction to the Devout Life (A modern rewriting, making these meditations easier to read and understand, can be found at the website for the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales.) The whole Earth is laid waste with desolation, because there is no one that thinks in his heart. (Jeremiah 12:2) The First Meditation On our creation Preparation 1.  Place yourself in the presence of God.  Beseech him to inspire [...]

HYMN: Some Day

April 15, 2013

Written by Charles A. Tindley Beams of Heaven, as I go, Through this wilderness below, Guide my feet in peaceful ways, Turn my midnights into days; When in the darkness I would grope, Faith always sees a star of hope, And soon from all life’s grief and danger, I shall be free some day. Often-times my sky is clear, Joy abounds without a tear. Though a day so bright begun, Clouds may hide tomorrow’s sun. There’ll be a day that’s always bright, A day that never yields to night, And in its light the streets of glory I shall behold some day. Harder yet may be the fight, Right may often yield to might, Wickedness awhile may reign, Satan’s cause may seem to gain; There is a God that rules above, With hand of [...]

HEALING: Heaven and Pain, by C. S. Lewis

April 9, 2013

From The Problem of Pain Scripture and tradition habitually put the joys of Heaven into the scale against the sufferings of Earth, and no solution of the problem of pain which does not do so can be called a Christian one.  We are very shy nowadays of even mentioning Heaven.  We are afraid of the jeer about “pie in the sky,” and of being told that we are trying to “escape” from the duty of making a happy world here and now into dreams of a happy world elsewhere.   But either there is “pie in the sky” or there is not.  If there is not, then Christianity is false, for this doctrine is woven into its whole fabric.  If there is, then this truth, like any other, must be faced, whether it is useful at [...]

FURSA IN LENT: Day Sixteen by Paul Wallis

March 2, 2013

From Be Thou My Breastplate Let the vision that the people of Heaven have be in these eyes. (Fursa’s Breastplate) Fursa can see with his physical eyes and reason with his natural mind.  Today he prays for something on an altogether different level – but with what consequence in mind?  What is the difference he believes such a vision will make? A nineteenth-century Russian monk once said: If you knew the sweetness that awaits all the souls of the just in Heaven, you would be resolved to endure all the sorrows of this passing life with gratitude.  Even if your very cell were full of worms which gnawed at your flesh throughout your entire life, you would endure it all in order not to lose that heavenly joy which God has prepared [...]

SERMON: The Thomist Football League by Martin Thornton

February 28, 2013

From A Joyful Heart: Meditations for Lent For the sake of the uninitiated let me explain the ramifications of the English football league.  For any possible transatlantic reader it should not be too difficult to translate the analogy into the American game (this might be more difficult when we get on to cricket). The league comprises ninety-two clubs divided into four divisions.  The first division consists of the best, the top grade, and the most wealthy, with magnificent grounds and stadia.  The second division is roughly the same but not quite, and we shall see the significance of this later.  It is also important to see that there are subtle variations within these two divisions themselves, as well as something of an overlap. [...]

HEAVEN: Perfect Joy, by Thomas Merton

January 12, 2013

Here is how I sum it up: Heaven does nothing: its non-doing is its serenity. Earth does nothing: its non-doing is its rest. From the union of these two non-doings All actions proceed, All things are made. How vast, how invisible This coming-to-be! All things come from nowhere! How vast, how invisible No way to explain it! All beings in their perfection Are born of non-doing. Hence it is said: “Heaven and earth do nothing Yet there is nothing they do not do.” Where is the man who can attain To this [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 6

December 6, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  The Way the Fuller Cleans Your Clothes Do not seek to avoid those who would give you a good drubbing.  Though they kick you about and stretch you and hackle you like flax, yet after all this is the way the fuller cleans your clothes. Eating of the Fruits of Paradise Abba Patermuthius was once transported physically to paradise, he said, and had seen a vast company of saints.  He related how he had eaten of the fruits of paradise, and showed evidence of the fact.  For he had brought his disciples a large choice fig, deliciously scented, to prove to them that what he had said was true.  The priest Copres, who was telling this story, being at that time a young man, [...]

HEAVEN: Who Am I Lord, That You Should Know My Name?, by Bruce Lawrie

September 20, 2012

My six-year-old son and I share a nightly ritual, just the two of us alone in the fading light of his bedroom. Matty, who is severely mentally retarded, loves routine because life comes at him as if blasted from a water cannon, the millions of sights and sounds we all unconsciously assimilate every second of every day an undecipherable roar. Even more than most children, Matthew craves the safety that comes from learning the rhythms of his life, thrives on repetition. And of all his daily routines, winding down to bedtime might be the best. For a few minutes every night, I can turn down the white noise for him and help him ease into the peaceful joy of drifting off to sleep. We start out sitting on the floor with his favorite board book [...]

GOD 101: On the Marriage Of Heaven And Earth

September 11, 2012

This is a phrase that has dripped into my consciousness lately.  Usually filtered through some larger context of an idea aimed for, but perhaps not quite reached. The Marriage of Heaven and Earth. It all begins, of course, with the concept of romantic love.  I have always smiled benignly when I have read how mystics have thrown open not just their souls but also their hearts to God.  Open themselves up to feel cravings, and satisfyings, the depth of sorrow and the bliss of, well, bliss.  For God. For the air that we breathe, the surging of the ocean, the burning of the forests. I love you, they scream in their words. So I smile.  What else is there for me to do? Thérèse of Lisieux (most definitely NOT one of my favorite mystics) [...]