POETRY: The Turnip-Snedder by Seamus Heaney

July 11, 2018

For Hughie O’Donoghue In an age of bare hands and cast iron, the clamp-on meat-mincer, the double flywheeled water-pump, it dug its heels in among wooden tubs and troughs of slops, hotter than body heat in summertime, cold in winter as winter’s body armour, a barrel-chested breast-plate standing guard on four braced greaves. “this is the way that God sees life,” it said, “from seedling-braird to snedder,” as the handle turned and turnip-heads were let fall and fed to the juiced-up inner blades, “This is the turnip-cycle,” as it dropped its raw sliced mess, bucketful by glistering [...]

POETRY: Sabbath Poem X, 1979 by Wendell Berry

April 5, 2017

Whatever is foreseen in joy Must be lived out from day to day. Vision held open in the dark By our ten thousand days of work. Harvest will fill the barn; for that The hand must ache, the face must sweat. And yet no leaf or grain is filled By work of ours; the field is tilled And left to grace. That we may reap, Great work is done while we’re asleep. When we work well, a Sabbath mood Rests on our day, and finds it [...]


December 9, 2016

From The Spiritual Life More is required of those who wake up to reality, than the passive adoration of God or intimate communion with God.  Those responses, great as they are, do not cover the purpose of our creation.  The riches and beauty of the spiritual landscape are not disclosed to us in order that we may sit in the sun parlor, be grateful for the excellent hospitality, and contemplate the glorious view.  Some people suppose that the spiritual life mainly consists in doing that.  God provides the spectacle.  We gaze with reverent appreciation from our comfortable seats, and call this proceeding Worship. No idea of our situation could be more mistaken than this.  Our place is not the auditorium but the stage – or, as the [...]

WISDOM: Work by Joan Chittister

December 21, 2015

From Illuminated Life: Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light One of the elders said: “I never wanted work which was useful to me but a loss to others.  For I have this expectation, that what helps the other is fruitful for me.” And Abba Theodore of Pherme said, “In these days many take their rest before God gives it to them.” I   n this society, work has become the way we make money, the way we enable ourselves to do what we would really prefer to do if we didn’t need to work.  No other approach to life, perhaps, explains so clearly what has really happened to the quality of the world around us than this.  If there is anything that measures spiritual depth in a work-oriented society, it is surely the [...]

POETRY: Trappists, Working, by Thomas Merton

May 17, 2013

Now all our saws sing holy sonnets in this world of timber Where oaks go off like guns, and fall like cataracts, Pouring their roar into the wood’s green well. Walk to us, Jesus, through the wall of trees, And find us still adorers in these airy churches, Singing our other Office with our saws and axes. Still teach Your children in the busy forest, And let some little sunlight reach us, in our mental shades, and leafy studies. When time has turned the country white with grain And filled our regions with the thrashing sun, Walk to us, Jesus, through the walls of wheat When our two tractors come to cut them down: Sow some light winds upon the acres of our spirit, And cool the regions where our prayers are reapers, And slake us, Heaven, [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Monday Of Holy Week

March 25, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Even if I were ashes thrown to the wind Abba Poemen used to say this about Abba Isidore: “Every night he plaited a bundle of palms and the brothers pleaded with him, saying, ‘Rest a little, for you are getting old.’ “But he said to them, ‘Even if Isidore were burned, and his ashes thrown to the winds, I would not allow myself any relaxation because the son of God came here for our sake.'” Macarius, the thief, and the recalcitrant camel They said of Abba Macarius that a thief went into his cell when he was away.  Macarius went back to his cell and found the thief loading his things onto a camel.  So Macarius went into the cell, [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Wednesday Of The Fifth Week Of Lent

March 21, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Abba Macarius welcomes rebuke It was said about Abba Macarius that if a brother came to him fearfully as though to a saint and great old man, he would say nothing to him.  But if one of the brothers heaped scorn on him, saying, “My father, when you were a camel-driver and stole nitre and sold it, didn’t the guards beat you?”  If someone said these words to him, he would speak with him with joy about whatever he asked him. Imitate the dead A brother paid a visit to Abba Macarius and said to him, “Tell me a word: How can I be saved?” The old man said to him, “Go to the tombs.  Curse the dead.  Throw rocks at them.” The [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Monday Of The Fifth Week Of Lent

March 19, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Sailors fighting a surging sea Amma Syncletica said, “In the world, those who sin, even involuntarily, are thrown into prison; as for us, on account of our sins let us imprison ourselves so that such voluntary judgment may drive off future punishment.  Are you fasting?  Do not pretend to be ill, for those who do not fast fall into real illnesses.  Have you begun to do what is good?  Do not fall back when the Enemy cuts off your advance, for through your patient endurance he is rendered impotent.  Indeed, those who begin a voyage first unfold the sails and go before a favorable wind but later the wind becomes adverse and impedes them.  The sailors, [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Friday Of The Fourth Week Of Lent

March 16, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  See the sin but not the repentance An old man said, “Even if someone sins in some way in your presence, do not judge him but consider yourself more of a sinner than he is, for you have seen the sin but you have not seen the repentance.” Abba Macarius learns about true work It was said about Abba Macarius the Great that, passing through Egypt one time, he came upon a threshing floor.  He saw a heap of grain that had been threshed, its owner using it to pay wages to the workers.  When the old man wished to test the grower, wanting him to talk about the nature of his work, he said to him, “Please do me the kindness, my father, of giving me a little [...]