Jesus Christ

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 [...]

MYSTICISM: Simone Weil—Encounters With Christ

October 11, 2017

From Waiting for God and The Notebooks of Simone Weil In 1938 I spent ten days at Solesmes, from Palm Sunday to Easter Tuesday, following all the liturgical services.  I was suffering from splitting headaches; each sound hurt me like a blow; by an extreme effort of concentration I was able to rise above this wretched flesh, to leave it to suffer by itself, heaped up in a corner, and to find a perfect and pure joy in the unimaginable beauty of the chanting and the words.  This experience by analogy enabled me to get a better understanding of the possibility of divine love in the midst of affliction.  It goes without saying that in the course of these services the thought of the passion of Christ entered into my being once and for all. [...]

POETRY: What The Figtree Said by Denise Levertov

September 28, 2017

Literal minds! Embarrassed humans! His friends were blurting for Him in secret: wouldn’t admit they were shocked. They thought Him petulant to curse me!—yet how could the Lord be unfair?—so they looked away, then and now. But I, I knew that helplessly barren though I was, my day had come. I served Christ the Poet, who spoke in images: I was at hand, a metaphor for their failure to bring forth what is within them (as figs were not within me). They who had walked in His sunlight presence, they could have ripened, could have perceived His thirst and hunger, His innocent appetite; they could have offered human fruits—compassion, comprehension— without being asked, without being told of need. My absent fruit stood for their barren [...]

POETRY: The Darkness by Angela of Foligno

September 27, 2017

When I enter that darkness I cannot recall a bit about anything human, or about the God-man, or anything owning specific form. Nonetheless, I see all and I see nothing. As this that I have spoken of withdraws—though not completely, as it seems to stay with me—I see the God-man. He draws my soul with utmost gentleness and maybe He whispers You are I and I am you. I see, then, those eyes and that face go gracious and attractive as He leans to draw me to Himself. In short, what proceeds from those eyes and what descends from that face is what I said I saw in that previous darkness rising from within, and which delights me so that I can say nothing much about it. When I am in the God-man, then my soul is alive. And I am in the God-man much [...]

SPIRITUALITY: Divine Presents, The Sacramental Mysteries—The Sacramental Mystery of Holy Scripture, by Gregory Collins

September 23, 2017

From Meeting Christ in His Mysteries The fathers, with the light of faith to guide them, saw everywhere – in the law, the prophets, the acts of Old Testament kings and saints, here more clearly, there less – the figure of Jesus, glowing in the half-darkness, until it emerges in the gospel’s brightness.  What the ancients gradually and wearily came to was as clear as noonday when the world’s own light shone: the keys to all mysteries were in Christ; when this unfailing instrument, the Key of David, is put to the explaining of scripture, the whole beauty, depth, and clarity of Christian allegory is seen for what it really is in the liturgy.  Its heart is the redeeming work of Christ and everything we read and pray in these [...]

POETRY: Do People Moulder Equally by Emily Dickinson

September 16, 2017

For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.  Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom. (Matthew 16:27-28) Do People moulder equally, They bury, in the Grave? I do believe a Species As positively live As I, who testify it Deny that I—am dead— And fill my Lungs, for Witness— From Tanks—above my Head— I say to you, said Jesus— That there be standing here— A Sort, that shall not taste of Death— If Jesus was sincere— I need no further Argue— That statement of the Lord Is not a controvertible— He told me, Death was [...]

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 [...]

POETRY: Thirteenth Sunday After Trinity by John Keble

September 10, 2017

And He turned unto His disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: for I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them: and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. (Luke 10: 23–24) On Sinai’s top, in prayer and trance, Full forty nights and forty days The Prophet watch’d for one dear glance Of Thee and of Thy ways: Fasting he watch’d and all alone, Wrapt in a still, dark, solid cloud, The curtain of the Holy One Drawn round him like a shroud: So, separate from the world, his breast Might duly take and strongly keep The print of Heaven, to be express’d Ere long on Sion’s steep. There [...]

POETRY: A Word Made Flesh Is Seldom by Emily Dickinson

September 10, 2017

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. (John 1:14) A Word made Flesh is seldom And tremblingly partook Nor then perhaps reported But have I not mistook Each one of us has tasted With ecstasies of stealth The very food debated To our specific strength— A Word that breathes distinctly Has not the power to die Cohesive as the Spirit It may expire if He— “Made Flesh and dwelt among us” Could condescension be Like this consent of Language This loved [...]

POETRY: Salvator Mundi: Via Crucis by Denise Levertov

September 6, 2017

Maybe he looked indeed much as Rembrandt envisioned Him in those small heads that seem in fact portraits of more than a model. A dark, still young, very intelligent face, a soul-mirror gaze of deep understanding, unjudging. That face, in extremis, would have clenched its teeth in a grimace not shown in even the great crucifixions. The burden of humanness (I begin to see) exacted from Him that He taste also the humiliation of dread, cold sweat of wanting to let the whole thing go, like any mortal hero out of his depth, like anyone who has taken a step too far and wants herself back. The painters, even the greatest, don’t show how, in the midnight Garden, or staggering uphill under the weight of the Cross, He went through with even the [...]

SPIRITUALITY: Divine Presents—The Sacramental Mysteries, Introduction by Gregory Collins

September 2, 2017

From Meeting Christ in His Mysteries In this sacramental dispensation of Christ’s mystery, the Holy Spirit acts in the same way as at other times in the economy of salvation: he prepares the church to encounter her Lord; he recalls and makes Christ manifest to the faith of the assembly.  By his transforming power he makes the mystery of Christ present here and now.  Christian liturgy not only recalls the events that saved us but actualizes them, makes them present.  The paschal mystery of Christ is celebrated, not repeated.  It is the celebrations that are repeated, and in each celebration there is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that makes the unique mystery present. (Odo Casel) According to the clear testimony of scripture [...]

POETRY: Ikon: The Harrowing of Hell by Denise Levertov

September 2, 2017

Down through the tomb’s inward arch He has shouldered out into Limbo to gather them, dazed, from dreamless slumber: the merciful dead, the prophets, the innocents just His own age and those unnumbered others waiting here unaware, in an endless void He is ending now, stooping to tug at their hands, to pull them from their sarcophagi, dazzled, almost unwilling. Didmas, neighbor in death, Golgotha dust still streaked on the dried sweat of his body no one had washed and anointed, is here, for sequence is not known in Limbo; the promise, given from cross to cross at noon, arches beyond sunset and dawn. All these He will swiftly lead to the Paradise road: they are safe. That done, there must take place that struggle no human presumes to [...]

POETRY: The Transformation—For The Sacred Heart by Thomas Merton

August 25, 2017

Heart, in the ardor of Whose holy day The June is blazing on our world of fruit and wheat, Smile on our lives, and sanctify them with a new love’s vintage And with Your fires vivify our veins. Lo, the whole humble earth Bows and is broken with Your loads of bounty, and the trees Fail and give way as we besiege them with a score of ladders. We have no time to turn and hear the tiger-lilies all along the field, Whose outcry warns the world of Love’s immense invasion Coming to crowd our continent with full-armed shocks. And look! Those regiments are all around us! How shall we flee you? You will ‘siege us in our bursting barns And force us to a parley in our vines and garden. Lord, in this splendid season When all the things [...]

POETRY: To Surrender To Love by Elizabeth of the Trinity

August 23, 2017

Oh how good it is in silence To listen to Him over and over, To enjoy the peace of His presence, and then to surrender wholly to His love. O Lamb, so pure and so meek, You my All, my only One, How well you know that your fiancée, Your little one, hungers greatly for You. She hungers to feed upon her Master, Above all to be consumed by Him, To surrender fully to Him her whole being So she may be totally taken. Oh, that I may be possessed by You; One who lives by You alone, Yours, your living host, Consumed by you on the [...]

PSALMS: The Blessing Of Morning Prayer by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

August 22, 2017

From Psalms The entire day receives order and discipline when it acquires unity.  This unity must be sought and found in morning prayer.  It is confirmed in work.  The morning prayer determines the day.  Squandered time of which we are ashamed, temptations to which we succumb, weaknesses and lack of courage in work, disorganization and lack of discipline in our thoughts and in our conversation with other men, all have their origin most often in the neglect of morning prayer. Order and distribution of our time become more firm where they originate in prayer.  Temptations which accompany the working day will be conquered on the basis of the morning breakthrough to God.  Decisions, demanded by work, becomes easier and simpler where they [...]

SPIRITUALITY: Gazing Into The Mystery Of Christ’s Saving Work by Gregory Collins

August 20, 2017

From Meeting Christ in His Mysteries Yet it is not to be understood that the Father was ever angry toward him. For how could he be angry toward his beloved Son, “in whom he was well pleased”? (John Calvin) Christ brought the idea of God’s humility to its ultimate limit: God, entering into the world, casts off the image of his glory and puts on the image of his creation (see Philippians 2:6-8).  He subordinates himself to the laws of creaturely life.  He does not violate the world order.  Nor does he strike the world with lightning or deafen it with thunder, as pagans thought (recall the myth of Zeus and Semele).  He only burns like a meek light before the world, drawing to himself his sinful and weary creation, not [...]

PSALMS: Petition For The Spirit Of Life by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

August 15, 2017

From Psalms We have taken this short stroll through the Psalter in order to learn to pray a few psalms a bit better.  It would not be difficult to arrange according to the Lord’s Prayer all the psalms mentioned.  We should have to change only slightly our arrangement of the order of the chapters.  But this alone is important, that we begin to pray the psalms with confidence and love in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Our dear Lord, who has given to us and taught us to pray the Psalter and the Lord’s Prayer, grant to us also the spirit of prayer and of grace so that we pray with enthusiasm and earnest faith, properly and without ceasing, for we need to do this; he has asked for it and therefore wants to have it from [...]

PRAYER: Devotion To The Holy Name

August 14, 2017

From the Franciscan Litany of the Holy Name. Jesu, dulcis memoria Jesu, the very thought of thee With sweetness fills my breast; But sweeter far thy face to see, And in thy presence rest. Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame, Nor can the memory find, A sweeter sound than thy blest name, O Savior of mankind! O hope of every contrite heart, O joy of all the meek, To those who fall, how kind thou art! How good to those who seek! But what to those who find? Ah! this Nor tongue nor pen can show. The love of Jesus! what it is, None but his loved ones know. Jesu, our only joy be thou, As thou our prize wilt be; Jesu, be thou our glory now, And through eternity. Wherewith I longed for thee, And left my Father’s throne; From death to set [...]

POETRY: Paradox And Promise by Clare of Assisi

August 9, 2017

Look upon Him Who became contemptible for you, and— if you choose— follow His way, becoming contemptible to the world, so long as you do so for Him. More lovely than all things, He became the lowest, despised, struck, scourged countless times and raked across His perfect Body. And then, amid the sufferings of the horrid Cross, He died. For you. If you suffer with Him, you shall reign with Him. Weep with Him and you shall rejoice with Him. Die with Him upon the cross of wretchedness, and life is yours, And, yes, your dwelling forever in [...]

PSALMS: The End by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

August 8, 2017

From Psalms The hope of Christians is directed to the return of Jesus and the resurrection of the dead.  In the Psalter this hope is not expressed literally.  That which since the resurrection of Jesus has divided itself in the church into a long line of events of holy history toward the end of all things is, from the viewpoint of the Old Testament, still a single indivisible unity.  Life in fellowship with the God of revelation, the final victory of God in the world, and the setting up of the messianic kingdom are objects of prayer in the psalms. The Old Testament is not different from the New in this respect.  To be sure, the psalms request fellowship with God in Earthly life, but they know that this fellowship is not completed in [...]

SERMON: Transfiguration by John Mason Neale

August 6, 2017

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty when we were with him in the holy mount. (2 Peter 1:16, 18) Such an evening as this should teach us something of the glorious sight we keep in mind this day. When we were looking at those long lines of dark-brown gold that lay so quietly in the west, and at the intense brightness beneath them, where the sun had gone down, we might have remembered him who was as at this time transfigured before his disciples; when his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And we might have looked on to that day when, if by God’s grace we are counted worthy to [...]

SATURDAY READING: To Sing Is A Lover’s Thing by Edith M. Humphrey

August 5, 2017

From Grand Entrance: Worship on Earth As In Heaven Can you hear them? They’re singing, singing a song as strong as the sea, as sure as the rock, as heartrending as a glimpse of sapphire sky caught through a tear in an ominous bank of clouds. Can you hear them? Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, The One who was, and who is, and who is to come… Worthy art thou, our Lord and God, To receive glory and honor and power: For thou didst create all things, And by thy will they came to be, and were created.  (Revelation 4:8, 11) The song surrounds John, directed by the cherubim who sing the thrice-holy hymn, and entered with abandon and reverence by the twenty-four elders, representative of God’s people.  Encircled by the celestial [...]

PSALMS: The Enemies by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

August 1, 2017

From Psalms No section of the Psalter causes us greater difficulty today than the so-called imprecatory psalms.  With shocking frequency their thoughts penetrate the entire Psalter (5, 7,. 9, 10, 13, 16, 21, 23, 28, 31, 35, 36, 40, 41, 44, 52, 54, 55, 58, 59, 68, 69, 70, 71, 137, and others).  Every attempt to pray these psalms seems doomed to failure.  They seem to be an example of what people think of as the religious first stage toward the New Testament.  Christ on the cross prays for his enemies and teaches us to do the same.  How can we still, with these psalms, call for the wrath of God against our enemies?  The question is therefore: Can the imprecatory psalms be understood as God’s word for us and as the prayer of Jesus [...]

PSALMS: Guilt by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

July 25, 2017

From Psalms More seldom than we expect, the prayer for the forgiveness of sins meets us in the psalms.  Most psalms presuppose complete assurance of the forgiveness of sins.  That may surprise us.  But even in the New Testament the same thing is true.  It is an abbreviation and an endangering of Christian prayer if it revolves exclusively around the forgiveness of sins.  There is such a thing as the confident leaving behind of sin for the sake of Jesus Christ. Yet in no way does the Psalter omit the prayer of repentance.  The seven so-called repentance psalms (6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143) but not only they (also Psalms 14, 15, 25, 31, 39, 40, 41, and others) lead us into the total depth of the recognition of sin before God.  They [...]

PSALMS: Suffering by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

July 18, 2017

From Psalms Where do you find more miserable, more wretched, more depressing words than in the psalms of lamentation?  There you see into the heart of all the saints as into death, even as into hell.  How sad and dark it is there in every wretched corner of the wrath of God. (Luther) The Psalter gives us ample instruction in how to come before God in a proper way, bearing the frequent suffering which this world brings upon us.  Serious illness and severe loneliness before God and men, threat, persecution, imprisonment, and whatever conceivable peril there is on Earth are known by the psalms (13, 31, 35, 41, 44, 54, 55, 56, 61, 74, 79, 86, 88, 102, 105, and others).  They do not deny it or try to deceive us about it with pious words.  [...]

SPIRITUALITY: Deepening Insights Into The Mystery Of Divine Persons by Gregory Collins

July 17, 2017

From Meeting Christ in His Mysteries Still greater depths are contained in the revealed mystery of Christ but to sound them one must turn to later New Testament letters such as Ephesians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus.  Although as we have seen, they are probably not directly from Paul’s hand they do represent the expansion and consolidation of his teaching within the wider circle of his disciples and have always been recognized by the churches as authentically “Pauline” in the sense that their authors deepened and developed his ideas.  Since we are not concerned with the process by which the New Testament reached its final form but with how the finished product operates in the church, I shall follow the [...]

PSALMS: Life by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

July 11, 2017

From Psalms Many earnest Christians are struck as they pray the psalms by how often the petition for life and good fortune occurs.  From a glance at the cross of Christ there comes to many the unhealthy thought that life and the visible, Earthly blessings of God are in themselves at least a questionable good, and in any case a good not to be desired.  They take, then, the corresponding prayers of the Psalter to be an incomplete first stage of Old Testament piety, which is overcome in the New Testament.  But in doing so they want to be more spiritual than God himself. As the petition for daily bread includes the entire sphere of the necessities of physical life, so the petition for life, health, and visible evidences of the friendliness [...]

POETRY: Jesu, Highest Heaven’s Completeness by Bernard of Clairvaux

July 5, 2017

Jesu, highest Heaven’s completeness, Name of music to the ear, To the lips surpassing sweetness, Wine the fainting heart to cheer. Eating Thee, the soul may hunger, Drinking, still athirst may be; But for Earthly food no longer, Nor for any steam but Thee. Jesu, all delight exceeding, Only hope of heart distrest; Weeping eyes and spirit mourning Find in Thee a place of rest. Stay, O Beauty uncreated, Ever ancient, ever new; Banish deeds of darkness hated, With Thy sweetness all bedew. Jesu, fairest blossom springing From a maiden ever pure, May our lips Thy praise be singing While eternal years [...]

PSALMS: The Church by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

July 4, 2017

From Psalms Psalms 27, 42, 46, 48, 63, 81, 84, 87, and others sing of Jerusalem, the City of God, of the great festivals of the people of God, of the temple and the beautiful worship services.  It is the presence of the God of salvation in his congregation for which we here give thanks, about which we here rejoice, for which we long.  What Mount Zion and the temple were for the Israelites the church of God throughout the world is for us – the church where God always dwells with his people in word and sacrament.  This church will withstand all enemies (Psalm 46), its imprisonment under the powers of the godless world will come to an end (Psalms 126 and 137).  The present and gracious God, who is in Christ who in turn is in his [...]

SPIRITUALITY: God’s Presence To The World—The Mystery’s Many Modes by Gregory Collins

July 1, 2017

From Meeting Christ in His Mysteries It is important to be aware of the difference between the word mystery as it is used in the New Testament, the liturgy, and theology, and the meaning it tends to have in contemporary culture.  When, for example, we speak of reading a “murder mystery,” our natural assumption is that at the end of the book the complexities of the plot will be resolved and we will discover who committed the murder and why they did it.  All obscurity will be ended and the mystery will disappear in the clear light of knowledge.  Nothing could be less true of mystery as that word is used in the Bible and in Christian worship.  A text from Christmas which we sing in our monastery liturgy illustrates this well: [...]