LENTEN MEDITATION: Keeping Watch by Philip Berrigan

March 20, 2017

From: Disciples and Dissidents May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to all: “Watch!” (Mark 13:36-37) I am pondering the passage at Mark 13:36, and my thoughts return to the winter of 1943, to a nineteen-year-old draftee at Camp Gordon, now Fort Gordon, Georgia.  The old Springfield rifle is heavy, the Georgia winters are damp and cold and dark and – Lord, Gawd! – I’ve gotta walk guard for four hours. And do I ever watch!  I watch for the officer of the guard.  If he hears a weak challenge (Halt!  Who goes there?) or finds me forgetful of the password (Geronimo) or hiding or smoking, it’s weekend KP for a month.  The minutes and hours drag agonizingly by.  I’m [...]

THE ADVENT EUCHARIST: Grace by John Hampsch

December 8, 2016

From The Healing Power of the Eucharist How do we receive grace?  There are three major avenues.  First of all, we can receive grace through some form of prayer: prayer of blessing and adoration, prayer of petition, intercessory prayer, prayer of thanksgiving, or prayer of praise.  Likewise, it can be any expression of prayer: vocal prayer, meditation, contemplative prayer, community prayer, liturgical prayer, or psalm prayer. The second major source of that spiritual energy we call grace comes from practicing the virtues, such as faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.  In fact, some 56 virtues have been cataloged over the years.  (Even suffering could be considered a virtue when it is motivated by love, [...]

SATURDAY READING: The Virtue Of The Angels by Gabriel Bunge

July 23, 2016

From Dragon’s Wine and Angel’s Bread: The Teaching of Evagrius Ponticus on Anger and Meekness The image of man, as presented by Evagrius, would remain one-sided were one only to present it against the dark background of those vices that pervert it, without also showing its luminous, “angelic” dimensions.  Furthermore, hardly anyone could muster the courage and endurance to do battle against a vice such as anger if he did not have an appealing image of real humanness before his eyes – an ideal which perhaps he is not able to develop, but which nevertheless widens the narrow horizon of our Earthly existence.  A good deal has already been mentioned in the preceding chapters, but here we shall attempt to form a [...]

DISCERNMENT: The Setting Of Discernment — Images of God, by David Lonsdale

June 7, 2016

From Listening to the Music of the Spirit Discernment means making choices within the context of a living relationship and continuing dialogue with God.  We carry about with us our own personal images of God.  They too, like the values by which we live, are the product of personal experience, education, the traditions of society, culture, and church, and so on.  These images, however, are not necessarily conscious.  We may not be aware with our conscious minds of who God is for us and what kind of God we relate to in practice.  Nonetheless, such pictures of God, hidden though they may be for much of the time, have a powerful effect on our lives.  They indicate, for example, what we really think of God.  They also influence how we [...]

SURRENDER: Surrender Is Everything by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

November 20, 2015

From  The Joy of Full Surrender During the days of Jesus’s life on Earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. (Hebrews 5:7) Surrender of the heart to God includes every possible way of obedience to God, because it means giving up one’s very being to God’s good pleasure.  Since this surrender is effected by unalloyed love, it includes in its embrace every kind of operation his good pleasure may bring to pass.  Thus at every moment we practice a surrender that has no limits, a surrender that includes all possible methods and degrees of service to God.  It is not our business to decide what the [...]


March 28, 2015

From The Fruits of the Spirit “Though I give my body to be burned,” said Saint Paul, “and have not love, I am nothing.”  I do not as a supernatural being exist.  And now he gives us another and much more surprising test of spiritual vitality.  Though you feel an unconquerable love, joy, and peace, though you are gentle, long-suffering, good in all your personal relationships, though you are utterly faithful in your service of God – in the end the only proof that all this is truly the fruit of the Spirit, Christ in you and not just your own idea, is the presence of the last two berries on the bunch: not showy berries, not prominently placed, but absolutely decisive for the classification of the plant. [...]

SPIRITUAL FORMATION: The Vow Of Compassion by Jean-Yves Leloup

December 8, 2014

From Compassion and Meditation What is the vow of a person who is animated by compassion?  Is it wise to devote one’s life to the welfare of all beings?  Is it even rational to make such a vow?  Is it not a dream, or even a form of megalomania, to make such a vow?  What are the motivations and justifications of this vow, both personal and impersonal? We might concern ourselves with the welfare of others because we discover that our own welfare is thereby increased.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  To open to others is a way of opening our heart, as well as our intelligence.  It is perhaps the best means of “going beyond ego.”  On the path of the bodhisattva there is a very personal motivation: our own [...]

REFLECTION: Resisting Life, Rejecting Love

July 31, 2014

A number of years ago now I was having a bad reaction to a chemotherapy drug.  I had begun to walk bent over from the pain it was causing me.  So I was ordered to stop taking it.  Not surprisingly, I stood up again and walked around pain free. Two weeks later, to the day, I was upstairs on the first floor, having my breakfast while reading a book, still in my flannel nightie (it was a slow day, I was still celebrating the release from the pain).  And I began to vomit.  Huge, full-body releases of everything solid and every drop of fluids I never knew my body could hold. On the half hour, exactly. For ten hours straight. I knew that I should be getting myself to the hospital, but I had stayed on that floor (it was only a few steps [...]

AUTHENTICITY: Cultivating Authenticity — Letting Go of What People Think, by Brené Brown

July 7, 2014

From The Gifts of Imperfection Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier.  The way it actually works is the reverse.  You must first be who you really are, then do what you really need to do, in order to have what you want. (Margaret Young) Before I started doing my research, I always thought of people as being either authentic or inauthentic.  Authenticity was simply a quality that you had or that you were lacking.  I think that’s the way most of us use the term: “She’s a very authentic person.”  But as I started immersing myself in the research and doing my own personal work, I realized [...]

GOD 101: The Leveling Virtue Of Gratitude

May 27, 2014

I was standing at the information desk of a very busy suburban library the other day.  Next to me was a breathless nine-year-old boy, impatient with the help he was not getting from the librarian behind the counter.  The librarian, in his turn, was making a nominal effort to sift through the assorted junk in an open drawer in front of him, letting one of his fingers draw across the surface of the contents like a lover hanging his hand over the side of a boat and lightly disturbing the smooth surface of the lake. Do you really need a pencil? sighed the librarian. NO! Just an eraser!  It sounded to me as though this, to the boy, had already been explained quite clearly. I watched the librarian, who appeared even to me to have no [...]

PRAYER: Faithfulness, Not Performance — Building A Daily Practice, by Jane Redmont

February 17, 2014

Excerpt from When in Doubt, Sing Good-bye, Sir, excuse me, I haven’t time. I’ll come back, I can’t wait, I haven’t time. I must end this letter—I haven’t time. I’d love to help you, but I haven’t time. I can’t accept, having no time. I can’t think, I can’t read, I’m swamped, I haven’t time. I’d like to pray, but I haven’t time. (Michael Quoist)   We give you thanks for this food which is our life, for the fruits of the earth, conceived in darkness rooted in the secret soil. We offer you our part in the mess of creativity. We wash, prepare, cook, present; we eat and taste and enjoy with our bodies; we clear away the mess. We embrace with you the chaos that fulfils, the secret labor that maintains life. [...]

HOMILY: The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit — Sails of the Soul, by Kenneth Baker, SJ

October 15, 2013

The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:2) In this series of sermons we have reflected on the infused theological and moral virtues.  Today I want to speak to you about the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit which are given to us at our Baptism along with sanctifying grace.  Surely you have heard them mentioned at some time in a catechism class, in your reading, or in a sermon. You probably have never heard a complete sermon on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  They are wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord.  I will not try to explain each one in detail today – [...]

SATURDAY READING: The Nature of Evil, by Terry Eagleton

September 28, 2013

From Tikkun The devil, so they say, has all the best tunes, and this seems to be the case when it comes to literature as well.  Nobody would take a guided tour of Dante’s Paradiso if they could have one of the Inferno instead.  Milton’s God sounds like a bureaucratic bore or constipated civil servant, while his Satan shimmers with mutinous life.  Nobody would have an orange juice with Oliver Twist if they could have a beer with Fagin instead.  So why is evil so sexy, and so profoundly glamorous?  And why does virtue seem so boring?  Why is it that when I told my thirteen-year-old son I was writing a book on evil, he replied, “Wicked!”? One answer, I think, is that it is not virtue that is boring but a particular, very [...]

POETRY: Social Virtues and Illuminations, by Simón Rodriguez

September 20, 2013

Translated by Mónica de la Torre SHAPE given to DISCOURSE Elementary ideasinto Paradigm Painting Thoughtsinto Synopsis The TONGUEandtheHAND are humanity’s most precious gifts (notes Buffon) Hereby understood with regard to the INTENTION TO INSTRUCT It concerns not the Importance of the Word for none knows it The Importance of its PAINTING is well-known by a few most. . . don’t even think of it nonetheless One can PAINT without SPEAKING but not SPEAK without PAINTING GESTURES are a SKETCH of what the hand for a lack of means cannot draworof time GESTURING is painting IN THE AIR in spoken discourseconnection of ideas asand in the written oneconnection of Thoughts The connection of Ideas is presented in a PARADIGM Thatof [...]

REFLECTION: Patristic Readings On Virtues

September 19, 2013

From Witness of the Saints: Patristic Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours, by Milton Walsh Anthony of Padua The man who is filled with the Holy Spirit speaks in different languages.  These different languages are different ways of witnessing to Christ, such as humility, poverty, patience, and obedience; we speak in those languages when we reveal in ourselves these virtues to others.  Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak.  It is useless for a man to flaunt his knowledge of the law if he undermines its teaching by his actions.  Our humble and sincere request to the Spirit for ourselves should be that we may bring the day of Pentecost to fulfillment, insofar as he infuses us with his grace, by [...]

VIRTUES: What Is Christian Virtue?, by Romanus Cessario, O.P.

September 17, 2013

From The Virtues, Or The Examined Life We know that Aquinas in the Summa theologiae begins his analysis of virtue with the standard textbook definition of virtue that was common among 13th-century moralists: “Virtue is a good quality of mind, by which one lives righteously, of which no one can make bad use, which God works in us without us.”  Following normal procedure, we can consider each element of the definition as Aquinas explains it within his general teleological view of the moral life.  First, the formal cause: “Virtue is a good quality of mind.”  For Aquinas, virtue belongs to the generic category of quality; more specifically he places it within that kind of quality that Aristotle called habitus.  As a philosophical [...]

PRAYER: To Acquire The Virtues, by Thomas Aquinas

September 16, 2013

O God, all-powerful and all-knowing, without beginning and without end, You Who are the source, the sustainer, and the rewarder of all virtues, Grant that I may abide on the firm ground of faith, be sheltered by an impregnable shield of hope, and be adorned in the bridal garment of charity. Grant that I may through justice be subject to You, through prudence avoid the beguilements of the devil, through temperance exercise restraint, and through fortitude endure adversity with patience. Grant that whatever good things I have, I may share generously with those who have not and that whatever good things I do not have, I may request humbly from those who do. Grant that I may judge rightly the evil of the wrongs I have done and bear calmly the [...]

SATURDAY READING: John as Model For Contemporary Christians by Alexander J. Burke, Jr.

June 22, 2013

From John the Baptist: Prophet and Disciple John the Baptist, since the time of the Counter-Reformation, has been lost to the Christian tradition. Some biblical scholars try to confine him to the status of an Old Testament figure. With the decline of monasticism, his severe virtues seem irrelevant to many modern Christians. It is one of the aims of this book to make one, small attempt to restore John to the beadroll of Christian heroes, to reinstate him to his proper and august role, as he is depicted in the ancient renditions of the Deësis, as an intercessor for all humankind second only to Mary. John has much to offer as a model for contemporary Christians, as we would expect of the saint who received from Christ’s own lips the [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Wednesday Of The Second Week Of Lent

February 28, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  A wise goldsmith A brother asked Abba Macarius, “Tell me the meaning of repentance.” Abba Macarius said to him, “Repentance does not consist only of kneeling, like the divining rod that indicates water by going up and down, but is like a wise goldsmith who wishes to craft a chain: with a link of gold and a link of silver, even with iron and lead, he lengthens the chain until he completes his work.  This too is the form that repentance takes.  All the virtues depends on it.” The child of disobedience There was an old man in Scetis who, when he fell into a very serious illness, was ministered to by the brothers.  When the old man saw how [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Thursday Of The First Week Of Lent

February 22, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Tears and vainglory Abba Moses said, “Through tears a person acquires the virtues and through tears comes remission of sins.   When you weep, therefore, do not raise your voice with your groaning, and do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. (Matthew 6:3)  The left hand is vainglory.” Dancing in the midst of your soul Listen concerning the way you have asked about.  Be attentive; stand with the Lord.  If you keep these words, you will be one of the elect in all things. For it is written: Glory will go before those who are humble. (Proverbs 29:23)  And again, The wisdom of the humble person lifts high that person’s head. [...]

PRAYER: Ways of Praying (3)—Prayers of Attentiveness, by Andrew Dreitcer

January 29, 2013

From Prayer Practices for the Way of Peace: Choosing Peace Through Daily Practices The Examen, Praying With Creation, and Attention To Thoughts) As I have suggested, the Christian tradition has developed a richness of prayer.  There may be a form of prayer for every sensibility.  In this section, I present a number of ways of praying that may be practiced in order to help form an interior foundation for peace in oneself and in the world. Self-Examination: Giving and Receiving Peace Since the first few centuries of Christianity, Christians have practiced a form of prayer in which they examine their behaviors and their interior experiences in relation to the world around them.  For instance, the early desert monastics regularly reported [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 14

December 14, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Cleaning the Soul The drugs that purge the body do not remain within the body of the patient.  The virtues, however, cleanse the soul but yet remain in the person who has been purified. The True and Good Tent The true and good tent (Hebrews 9:11) shall be the person of God who sits in it. A wise person in his cell is the true and perfect “tent with the golden urn in it, with manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant.” (Hebrews 9:11, 9:4) My Book A certain member of what was then considered the circle of the wise once approached the just Antony and asked him: “How do you ever manage to carry on, Father, deprived as you are of the [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 11

December 11, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Permeated Through and Through A person who has established the virtues in himself and is entirely permeated with them no longer remembers the law or commandments or punishment.  Rather, he says and does what excellent habit suggests. What the World Cried Out It was said about Abba Macarius the Great that one time when he was working the harvest with the brothers, a wolf opened its mouth and let out a great cry, its eyes staring up to Heaven to the Lord.  The saint stopped and smiled with tears in his eyes. When the brothers saw him, they were amazed.  They threw themselves down at his feet, beseeching him, “We beseech you, our father, tell us why you were [...]

PRAYER: A Novena To The Holy Spirit For The Virtue Of Restraint

March 22, 2012

Author unknown On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses I offer myself, soul and body to you, Eternal Spirit of God.  I adore the brightness of your purity, the unerring keenness of your justice, and the might of your love. You are the strength and light of my soul.  In you I live and move and am.  I desire never to grieve you by unfaithfulness to grace, and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against you. Guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for your light, and listen to your voice, and follow your gracious inspirations. I cling to you and give myself to you and ask you, by your compassion to watch over me in my weakness.  Holding the pierced feet of Jesus and looking at [...]

PRAYER: A Novena To The Sacred Heart Of Jesus For The Virtue Of Compassion

January 26, 2012

Author unknown O my Jesus, you have said, “Truly I say to you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.”  Behold I knock.  I seek and ask for the grace of feeling compassion for my friends and loved ones. O my Jesus, you have said, “Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.”  Behold, in your name, I ask the Father for the grace of feeling compassion for my enemies. O my Jesus, you have said, “Truly I say to you, Heaven and Earth will pass away but my words will not pass away.”  Encouraged by your infallible words I now ask for the grace of feeling compassion for myself. O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have [...]

PRAYER: A Prayer To Saint Francis Of Assisi On The Virtue Of Obedience

January 23, 2012

Author unknown Heavenly Father, you have given us the saints to be our models, patrons, and friends.  Today we turn to Saint Francis of Assisi, and as you helped him reflect the image of Christ through his life of poverty and humility, grant us, through his intercession, the graces we so much need for soul and body.  Especially we ask for: (STATE REQUEST).  We also ask your blessings on all those whom we love. May the example of Saint Francis inspire us to grow in holiness as we imitate his joyful love.  We ask this in your merciful love, through the merits of Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. The words of Saint Francis: Holy obedience confounds all the desires of the [...]