Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Breath of Heaven (song lyrics)

Listen here...

I have traveled
many moonless nights,
Cold and weary
with a babe inside,
And I wonder what I’ve done.
Holy father you have come,
And chosen me now
to carry your son.

I am waiting
in a silent prayer.
I am frightened
by the load I bear.
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now.
Be with me now.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
Breath of heaven.

Do you wonder
as you watch my face,
If a wiser one
should have had my place,
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan.
Help me be strong.
Help me be.
Help me.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Love is a hungry infant

How strange it is
to love a love that must be hushed
like a hungry infant
crying out in a place of silence.

--Chantelle Franc

The most in love

A believer is surely a lover, yea, of all lovers the most in love.

--Sören Kierkegaard

Monday, December 29, 2008

My favorite gift

One of the many gifts bestowed on me this Christmas was from God himself.

Our Christmas Eve service was a series of hymns and readings, and I helped choreograph at a rehearsal last Monday night. Some changes were needed as various reader's were not available, and I volunteered to take on any readings that were open. The guys shuffled the readings around, and assigned me one, but I didn't look at it until the next day. When I did, I discovered that it was Luke 1:26-58; the annunciation and the visitation.

God's generosity and personal attention never ceases to amaze me.

Clean up time

Ah... the hubub is mostly over. What sweet relief.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The mystery of life...

The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced.

-- Aart van der Leeuw

Friday, December 26, 2008

Thomas, my twin

Another thought on Thomas.

How like him we are as we probe around our faith. Jesus stands before us willingly and we thrust our fingers into His wounds, stretching and pulling them as we selfishly seek satisfaction.

The reason that Thomas is a twin is that we are just like him.

Forgive me Lord, and heal my disbelief.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

A very holy and merry Christmas to all. May God bless us every one.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Our fiat

During mass on Sunday it occurred to me that our yes may actually be harder than Mary's was. We generally do not have the benefit of a visit by an angel, or a tangible experience of union with the Holy Spirit as she did.

Monday's gospel reading described Thomas' disbelief, and seemed to potentially confirm this line of thought when it tells us that blessed are we who have not seen and yet believe.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Reflect on your blessings

Reflect on your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.

-- Charles Dickens

Saturday, December 20, 2008

C.S. Lewis on the Pain of God's Best

We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.

-- C. S. Lewis

Friday, December 19, 2008

Protect those who travel

It is snowing hard.

Blessed Mother, be with those who are traveling...

On joy and pain

From Ministry and Imagination, Ch 6:

"The fact is that contemplatives, who make the inward journey into the unconscious, frequently have spoken of the joy and pain, apparent opposites, that confronts them: the symbols and the diabols. Again and again I am reminded also of comments Castaneda makes, or rather quotations he records from his shaman. It is only when one claims to understand, that he is really 'in a mess.' The task of the 'warrior' is to achieve a balance between terror and wonder. The numinous and hidden quality of the vision, combined with the seeming multivocality of its symbols, are a common perception with those who surrender to the unconscious. Marghanita Laski, as we said before, has noted that 'ecstasy' has both its fearful and attractive dimensions, just as Otto spoke of the numinous as terrifying and fascinating."

On feeling God's presence

From Ministry and Imagination, Ch 6:

"It seems to me that when people say that they 'talk with Jesus' or 'feel Jesus in their hearts,' they are referring in part to a very superficial level of the unconscious, which we would identify by a kind of warm nostalgia they associate with pleasant memories of their parents, probably quite distorted, or of the 'good old days.' This is not really the content of the unconscious at any level of depth. The feelings of the unconscious are more frequently identified with a sense of joy, as described by C.S. Lewis in his autobiography; a strange warmth, such as John Wesley testified to at Aldersgate; a celestial orgasm, as Teresa of Avila relates; a sublime melody, as the fourteenth-century mystic, Richard Rolle, claims; or the oceanic experience such as Castaneda himself records."

The soul that walks in love...

The soul that walks in love neither tires others nor grows tired.

-- John of the Cross

Thursday, December 18, 2008

On Passion

From Ministry and Imagination, Ch 6:

"The fact that 'passion' means both suffering and a frenzied release of the libido is not altogether accidental. Sexual intercourse and suffering have long been associated in man's mind. There is the notion that in coitus we die a little. It is also true that we pursue a vision that lies just outside our grasp. Ovid wrote somewhat facetiously Omne animal post coitum triste ('Every animal after coitus is sad'), and it is true (even without qualifications). Somehow we can sustain the sexual union, but we should come away with our routine existence more informed by what it might become. This is as true for any deep relationship as it is for mating, and it depends upon our willingness to trust ourselves, to let go of our self-centeredness in that meeting.

That very act of letting go, fueled by the mating urge (Eros), renders us vulnerable. Eros is no respecter of the conventions of society, as necessary as they are. Passion draws us into the abyss, with that curious mixture of pain and longing--that strange bittersweet feeling we never outgrow--and we risk that we might find ourselves in the beloved. Our reason tells us we are only foolish, and it is half right. There is only a thin line between 'puppy love' and the passion of the mating bond. The proof lies in the return to the world of obligation and role. Have we glimpsed in the mystery of love that which enables us to live out our life with a deeper compassion for ourselves and those whom we serve?"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Everything comes from love

Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind.

-- Catherine of Siena

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Litany of Humility

Litany of Humility

Written by Cardinal Merry del Val. He was accustomed to recite this prayer daily after the celebration of Holy Mass.

O Jesus meek and humble of heart, Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed,
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred to others,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected,
Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I,
That others may be esteemed more than I,
That in the opinion of the world, others may increase, and I may decrease,
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
That others may become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. Amen.

Monday, December 15, 2008

No electric blanket needed

I took a nap yesterday afternoon (ah, glorious!) and was again blessed with a supernatural warmth, like a blanket of warm water draped over my body. Part of the reason it feels so unusual is that the sensation is only on the top, as if the blankets were electric. It's not the kind of overheated sweatiness all around you which makes you throw back the covers for relief. It's a directional, radiant heat that nearly pulses. It reminds me a bit of the heat you feel when standing before a fire or a woodstove.

This has happened a handful of times throughout the last year or so, most typically while napping. It keeps me in a state of semi-wakefulness, in which I simply luxuriate in the experience.

Truly glorious.

God's gifts are so interesting...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A different state of being

Prayer this morning was nearly exquisite.

Sometimes in prayer I am transported to another state of being. It was not quite ecstatic today, but could have developed into that depth I think under different (and quieter) circumstances.

While worshiping I again felt the burning sensation of love and absence around my heart, and I imagined His hands wrapping around it, cradling it, sheltering it, warming it.

Protecting it.

I was reminded of God gathering His chicks together into the comfortable warmth of His bosom, and of us being sheltered beneath His wings.

But the image of those hands cradling my heart were the strongest, and the truest.

And the warmth and burning sensation grew as I worshiped Him.

If this is even a hint of the perpetual worship that is to occur in heaven, I can hardly wait. I can see how you could never grow tired of it; it is a different state of being.

Not one blade of grass

There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world
that is not intended to make us rejoice.

-- John Calvin

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pain and delight at the same time

This passage from Ministry and Imagination reminds me of my intense experience of loss while on retreat:

"What we are aware of as a fulfillment of our religious quest on the primary level is the ambiguous feeling of both fear and love. We find ourselves gazing into a mystery, which would seem to engage us as an overweening power and yet flood us with an unimaginable assurance of worth. Such experience is not of equal impact in all individuals. Laski described ecstasies of withdrawal and intensity; and perhaps one person is more aware of their smallness and alienation before the mystery, while another is rewarded with the gift of wholeness and unity. At the same time, I do know that reporters as different as St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) and the contemporary American anthropologist, Carlos Castaneda, describe mystical or transcendental experiences in which there is an intense level of pain and delight at the same time."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Love of person for person

To have known God vaguely but very really in nature and humanity, and then to discover him translated into a human comrade, is to find awe quickened into devotion, and reverence into love. The Eternal may stir me in certain moods and certain elements of my being: only love of person for person can possess me entire.

--Charles Raven

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Prayer of abandonment

Father,
I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures -
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Joy vs. unbelief

The opposite of joy is not sorrow. It is unbelief.

-- Leslie Weatherhead

Monday, December 8, 2008

Joy vs. happiness

The Bible talks plentifully about joy, but it nowhere talks
about a "happy Christian." Happiness depends on what happens;
joy does not. Remember, Jesus Christ had joy, and He prays "that
they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves."

-- Oswald Chambers

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mother Teresa on joy

One filled with joy preaches without preaching.

-- Mother Teresa

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Survival of the prayed up

World's collided last night, and everyone survived. Something tells me our Blessed Mother helped, because rosaries were wielded in one of them.

As Fr. Corapi says: My mama wears combat boots.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fuse me to the cross

While praying yesterday God sent me lots of good stuff, though I don't remember most now. I should keep my journal handy to capture His gifts.

The strongest of images He sent was of His cross being searing hot. I regularly imagine physically uniting myself to Christ on the cross, sometimes hanging with him, my back to His chest, sometimes clinging to the cross directly. In this meditation, I pressed up against and wrapped my arms around it, and it was so hot that the flesh which touched it was fused, so that the cross and I became one.

It was an agony of pain but it was right and good and required.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gift from the Sea

A friend at work gave me a lovely little book by Anne Morrow Lindbergh called Gift from the Sea. I can tell it will be a book to savor. This from the end of the first, small chapter:

"The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach--waiting for a gift from the sea."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I need to fast...

I am all too often astonishingly pathetic and self indulgent.

Which reminds me; I need to fast more.

Monday, December 1, 2008

When world's collide

I stand upon the precipice of worlds colliding, and tremble.

Life, change, and cultural relevance

I had several good discussions with my 20 year old daughter over the Thanksgiving holiday. One of them had to do with my objection to Catholic seminaries which are not loyal to magisterial teaching. In this discussion, she commented that religion which does not change is dead.

One of the books I read during my brief stint at one such seminary suggested that it is the job of each generation to renew and reform the church and the liturgy.

I think both of these statements are accurate within the context of truth. Each generation needs to find ways to present the truth in a way in which the culture can most effectively respond to it. But the emphasis must be on the truth being the truth.

Truth stands outside of cultural relevance. It is what it is.

Change for the sake of cultural conformity and "relevance" is not life, it is certain death.

Joy vs. pleasure

God offers us joy, and we waste our lives searching for pleasure.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Victor Hugo on Prayer

“There are thoughts which are prayers, there are moments when, whatever the posture of the body, the soul is on its knees.”

– Victor Hugo

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Eucharist

May you have a happy Thanksgiving, a most blessed Eucharist, today.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

C.S. Lewis on Forgiveness

“Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, meanness, and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it. That, and only that, is forgiveness.”

--C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

C.S. Lewis on Being Called

From The Silver Chair:

"'You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you' said the Lion."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Victor Hugo on Happiness

The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved - loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.

-- Victor Hugo

Sunday, November 23, 2008

C.S. Lewis on Joy (4)

From Surprised by Joy:

…an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and from Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again. Apart from that, and considered only in its quality, it might almost equally well be called a particular kind of unhappiness or grief. But then it is a kind we want.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The duty of delight

From the postscript of The Long Loneliness:

It is not always easy to be joyful; to keep in mind the duty of delight.

--Dorothy Day

Friday, November 21, 2008

The two become one

I was thinking this morning about human love, and how romantic love includes an intense desire for union with the beloved. This type of desire is really a search for completion, for wholeness, and is a reflection of our need for union with and completion through God.

For a moment this seemed like a bad thing. Like a misplacement, like disorder. But as I thought further I realized that it is a God-given thing and is actually rightly ordered. God gives us a desire for completion with and through other humans because each of us is a reflection of God, a carrier of God. When we become one with another we are in fact a more complete reflection of God's fullness, though still incomplete.

The two become one as we will eventually become one with Him.

For now we see through a glass dimly. Just imagine the face to face...

Do not weep

Do not weep; do not wax indignant. Understand.

-- Baruch Spinoza

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Perpetual fast

I am on a perpetual fast.

Please; may it do the work which needs to be done.

Freelance Monotheism

My priest has been pointing me to wonderful audio interviews on various topics lately. This one, for example, is titled the Freelance Monotheism of Karen Armstrong:

http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/armstrong/lists.shtml

I'm still listening to the interview, but I think Karen may tap into the key to mystagogia. She speaks of the study of religion as requiring a "science of compassion", meaning a search for knowledge through 'feeling with'.

She also says that theology is poetry, religion is art, and ritual leads to transcendence.

Lovely stuff...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

C.S. Lewis on Craving

From Pilgrim's Regress:

“What is universal is not the particular picture, but the arrival of some message, not perfectly intelligible, which wakes this desire and sets men longing for something East or West of the world; something possessed, if at all, only in the act of desiring it, and lost so quickly that the craving itself becomes craved; something that tends inevitably to be confused or even with vile satisfactions lying close to hand, yet which is able, if any man faithfully live through the dialectic of its successive births and deaths, to lead him at last to where true joys are to be found”.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy Birthday

The insufficiency of a mere "happy birthday" is staggering.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Desire for more

“In every person there is a passionate, driving desire for more… The dilemma is that our longings for material joy are almost always partially blocked; our desires for better health and deeper relationships are never entirely possible; and the illusion of world peace seems no more attainable than the gold at the end of the rainbow. Our passion is more than usually stymied. The world simply does not bend to the desires that roar or whimper inside us. Our desires – from picking the quickest line at the bank to the overwhelming hope that our children will walk righteously with the Lord – are rarely satisfied in a way that relieves the ache of incompleteness… Our heart seems to rage against the ache. Our typical response to the heartbreak and sorrow of disappointment is murderous rage… We want someone to pay”.

C.S. Lewis on Longing

From Till We Have Faces:

"It was when I was happiest that I longed most. ... The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing ... to find the place where all the beauty came from."

C.S. Lewis on Joy (3)

“All joy reminds. It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago and further away or still ‘about to be’”.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Idealization versus idolotry

A friend got me thinking about idealization.

Unhealthy, unuseful, and unholy idealization clearly exists, especially in romance. But not all idealization falls into that camp.

For example, in some ways I idealize my children. I think the best of them and recognize their wonderful capabilities and giftings. They are shining stars to me and always will be. They are beacons of what love means. They have changed my life and helped form me, for which I will be eternally grateful.

But just because all these things are true doesn't mean I don't recognize their weaknesses and frailties. I know full well that they are far from perfect. While their strengths and beauty are foremost in my mind and heart, I am still aware of their faults.

The two are not mutually exclusive.

Not all idealization is idolatry.

C.S. Lewis on Answers

From Till We Have Faces:

"I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?"

--C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

No thin veneer

do you think
the purple passion of my love
a thin veneer?
easily cracked?
my love is miles high
and oceans wide
my love is layers thick
and fathoms deep
and any rain of hurt that falls
will water the fruit
which ripens on love's peak

--Chantelle Franc

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dreams of Exodus 1:22

On Saturday night I had a disturbing dream; I seem to be back in a phase of troubled dreaming.

I was at a Disney-esque theme park, standing on the bank of a river which represented Pharaoh's command at the time of Moses' infancy. The water flowed from my right to my left, and scattered across the waters were naked babies floating on small rectangles of wood. Some of them were animatronically kicking a leg in the air and turning over. Others lay fetally curled as if trying to stay warm in the chill water. One model could open it's eyes, but the water lapped over it's mouth and so it could not cry, despite the terror and cold and abandonment.

And the silent parade of sacrificed babies floated on and on.

So strange...

C.S. Lewis on Lust

From Stewart McAllister's CS Lewis's Argument from Desire:

“Someone who wanted to object to this argument might reply with the modern view that ‘divine dissatisfaction’, a constant search for something beyond what we have, is a characteristic valuable for survival. Thus its existence and persistence can be explained on grounds of evolution by natural selection. The price one pays for taking this line is that it makes the desires in question unsatisfiable in principle. If our ‘infinite longings’ do not mean that an infinite object exists to satisfy them, then they mean that we shall never be satisfied”.

“They claim that all our highest desires, whether they are ethical, religious, or aesthetic, are the material products of a lower-order desire (one that could have evolved) that has been first repressed and then sublimated in another form. Great art is, like our daydreams, just another type of wish fulfillment. What we call love is merely a sublimated form of that instinctual lust which lies buried deep in our unconscious.

The lust is primary, originary, natural thing; love is but the artificial, socially acceptable form that lust takes when it is filtered through our elaborate system of psychological defense mechanisms”.

“Why, Lewis asks, must we say that love is a sublimation of lust? Is it not equally possible that lust is a falling away from love? Why must love be considered a projection from below, or evolution? May it not be rather an incarnation from above, a transposition from a heavenly key into an earthly one? Is not the universal human experience that of a search for higher things that goes terribly astray? Of a ‘looking for love’ that goes awry and devolves into lust”?

Monday, November 10, 2008

But who created Him?

My son went to church with me yesterday; a rare occurrence. It is hard to know what he thought, as he doesn't say much. I know he finds my faith confusing in this milieu of radical atheism. But as I tucked him in last night and gave him his blessing, he asked a question which coincidentally had also been raised by a young woman at the retreat:

If God made all things, where did -he- come from?

A good question.

My initial response was that he always was, and that it is a mystery. Not a very satisfactory response, needless to say.

But then the Holy Spirit reminded me that he is outside of time, which is actually pretty helpful. We think of things in terms of pre-existence, existence, and post-existence. But all those things are constructs of time. He is the creator of time, and there is no time before him.

Man asked God's name, and he replied "I Am."

And ever shall He be.

C.S. Lewis on Tribulation

God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially formed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.

-- C. S. Lewis

Sunday, November 9, 2008

He suffers.

As I prayed the other day, I feebly attempted to unite my sins and suffering to the cross and pictured wrapping my arms around Christ pinned there, trying to hold on to it.

And I realized that while this is what He asks us to do, and what He wants us to do, the very action of clinging to it and to Him causes Him pain.

No matter what, He suffers.

Elixer of God

"Our creative discontent, that which drives us to imagine an alternative reality, is the image/imagination of God beating in our breast. The cosmos is pregnant with hints that guide our imaginings. We are called to heal the world in the image of our most beautiful imaginings. The eros of imagination is the elixir of God running through the universe."

--Mordechai Gafni

Saturday, November 8, 2008

J.E.S.U.S.

My sin is a wound which seeps, spreading infection.

St. Jeanne de Chantal (one of my patrons) is known for having taken a heated knife and carving the name Jesus in the flesh above her heart.

I think she did it to have a visual reminder of who it is she was to love.

I feel like I need that too, along with the courage it would take to make the cuts. But I think I would carve it across my face, with the S on the bridge of my nose, so that I would see it in the mirror throughout the day rather than just when getting dressed or undressed.

The beginning of creation

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire; you will what you imagine; and at last you create what you will.”

--George Bernard Shaw

Friday, November 7, 2008

Over full and trembling

"My heart is a love-filled glass, over full and trembling to be poured out."

--Chantelle Franc

These words make me think of Christ's heart for mankind, so full of a love which will not be received.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Paint Paradise

“You have your brush and your colors, paint paradise and in you go.”

--Nikos Kazantzakis

Prayers of fire

God gave me a glimpse of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane during the retreat.

I saw him praying for his disciples, for all his children who were about to betray him, and for all of us who continue to betray him now. I imagined him struggling against his humanity to pray for them, and winning. And the prayers felt like a fiery fist plunging into his chest and ripping out his heart.

But he prayed anyway.

And as he prayed, he longed for home and cried out to his father "How long?"

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Both and

I've been exploring the dagger beneath the jeweled scabbard, and thinking about the god of the grey mountain in CS Lewis' Till We Have Faces. The god required the sacrifice of a pure young woman, and it was thought that he would devour her.

I often feel like that god; greedy, self indulgent, consuming.

But as it turns out, the god does not actually devour her, though he does take her away from family and friends, and transform her. It turns out that he gives her great love and mystical riches.

One central theme of this book is duality, dual natures. The god is both selfish and generous. The virgin is both delusional and lucid. The virgin's sister is both ugly and beautiful. It is a book of "both and".

And so, I suppose, am I.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Gee I sound sappy

I just reread this morning's posting, which I actually wrote yesterday. Man do I sound like a sadsack! It didn't come out the way it felt. I guess that's always the challenge of writing; trying to find words for what is wordless.

I want to go home...

I was on retreat this past weekend. I'm not sure how the other women manage to return home energized and refueled because I seem to come home worn out and heartsick. Part of that is from being on the prayer team, but not all of it.

Here are some thoughts from my priest on retreating:

Retreating gives us a chance to see ourselves as we are at that moment and it's often not a pretty sight… initially. At first the silence screams and the soul retreats into activity - mental and physical activity. We run away from the bright light of solitude.

But if we don't run from the penetrating silence we will see what needs to be seen. We will experience the redemption that will come with listening contemplation. We will receive the embrace of self-acceptance and the rest of God's embrace, or maybe it's first the rest of God's embrace and then the embrace of self-acceptance.

When preparing for retreat, try to get in touch with your desire for a more intimate communion with yourself and with God, for a freer and richer interior life. It's the difference between living in a bachelor's pad and dwelling in a richly and elaborately decorated old mansion with lots of fascinating and mysterious rooms that have still to be discovered.

It was not a silent retreat, but God still used the time away to communicate with me viscerally, just as He did at the last one. Once again He put me in touch with the ache of being separated from Him. Last year the pain was that of a separated lover, with the strength of mourning. This year it was more like the pain of a young child away at camp for the first time; my soul cried out to go home. It was tinged with a sense of abandonment, a bewildered hurt at being intentionally left behind. My heart begged "Please come and get me, please take me home..."

He made me look at myself in bright light, and I didn't like what I saw.

I feel abandoned to my own weakness.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Retired from dreaming

"Too many of us have retired from dreaming."

--Fr. Robert Dalgleish

Filled senses

In yesterday's sermon, my priest asked us to imagine what heaven will be like. One thought was that all of our senses will be completely filled.

That made me think of John Denver's Annie's Song, the lyrics of which are below. (OK, OK, I concede to having plebeian tastes in music, but this song still makes my soul swell.)

You fill up my senses
Like a night in the forest
Like the mountains in springtime
Like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert
Like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses
Come fill me again

Come let me love you
Let me give my life to you
Let me drown in your laughter
Let me die in your arms
Let me lay down beside you
Let me always be with you
Come let me love you
Come love me again

Love within time

Within time, love seems to be both beautiful and terrible.
I wonder what it will be like outside of time?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Intimacy with Christ

I was thinking about Eucharist as consummation (again) and made another connection between it and lovemaking within a marriage. It is needed regularly to establish and maintain the particular intimacy that develops no other way.

My heart is heavy for all Christians who do not experience it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lead him not into temptation

"She loved him passionately and selfishly enough to want to lead him into temptation, but truly and deeply enough to want him delivered from evil. And she chose the better desire and prayed that God would make use of the rest, holding back her passion like a race horse forced to merely canter."

--Chantelle Franc

I've missed you

It has been a busy several weeks, as illustrated by my recent silence here. I've missed you.

Things I've been contemplating in scattered moments:
  • Christ's relationship with Judas, who's last interaction was a kiss.
  • Myself as a dagger in a jeweled sheath.
  • The joy of family, blood or otherwise.
  • The anticipation of retreat.
More on these thoughts in coming days...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Majesty of simplicity

There is a certain majesty in simplicity which is far above all the quaintness of wit.

-- Alexander Pope

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Choices, choices

I don't tend to write about politics here, but this election seems to top them all.

We have two choices as usual:

Option A: Save the whales and kill the babies
or
Option B: Save the babies and kill the whales

Is it truly not possible to be a US politician and be both pro-whale AND pro-baby???

Monday, October 20, 2008

She washed his feet with her tears

(Luke 7:36-50)

Their voices carry through the door; the sound of men in the absence of women.

My heart pounds. Do I dare?

I take a breath and push the door open. The room falls silent as one by one the men realize I'm not a servant bringing food or more wine.

Their expressions tell a story. Some of them know me and scowl their disapproval and surprise. Those who don’t know me look puzzled; my robes and ornaments confuse them. I can’t think about them now, because he is before me.

I cross the room to where he reclines, his eyes smiling a soft and silent welcome. If only I could sit at his side, and bend my face to his lips! But it's impossible, even for one as brazen as me. Instead, I kneel at his feet, reaching out my hands, unfit as they are, and unfasten his sandals, dusty and worn.

Why has no one washed them?

The tears I swallowed begin to flow. They drip onto the feet of my beloved, leaving tracks in the dust. I cry harder, wishing my broken heart could melt and seep from my eyes to wash him. I dare not look at his face, and simply watch as the tears fall, dripping the dirt of the road away.

I unclasp my hair, and it falls clean, shining, and perfumed. I wrap his feet in its length, winding my head closer until my lips touch the top of one beautiful foot. I wipe away the tears and dust with my hair, wishing I could be washed clean as easily.

When his feet are dry, I twist my hair back, and pull the vial from the bag hanging at my waist. When I snap off the top, the expensive scent of weddings and burials reaches him. He smiles again as he watches me, his eyes speaking love and restraint.

It's hard to look away, but the grumbles of men break through and I turn to finish.

The oil is cool in my hand, and I rub my palms together before picking up the first perfect foot. My hands caress him, sliding from the soft curving arch to his road-roughened heel. I want to give him pleasure, to anoint him with my love. My fingers part each pair of toes, sliding slippery between them. Every touch is a concert of passion, every caress a request.

I want to flood him with kisses but that would go too far; it's a miracle I've been allowed this much. I pour more oil instead, and gently lift the second foot, sorrowing that my time with him is so short. Knowing I must go.

The tears flow faster as I force myself to release him. I rise to leave before it is demanded, and lift my eyes to his again. His gaze pierces me with promise.

I move to the door, holding his gaze, knowing that however long my life before that promise is fulfilled will be too long.

His lips move in a farewell but make out no words.

My heart hears him though. He says, “Goodbye, beloved.”

And I leave.

Socrates on Wisdom

Wisdom begins in wonder.

--Socrates

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Care of the Soul (4)

From Care of the Soul (pg 32):

"Part of our alchemical work with soul is to extract myth from the hard details of family history and memory on the principle that increase of imagination is always an increase in soul."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Care of the Soul (3) on delicious intimacy

"Don't you want to be attached to people, learn from them, get close, rely on friendship, get advice from someone you respect, be part of a community where people need each other, find intimacy with someone that is so delicious you can't live without it?" (pg 7)

Friday, October 17, 2008

On betrayal

I've been thinking about betrayal.

I'm feeling betrayed and trying to enter into thankfulness that God allows me to share minutely in what Christ experienced. I can be with him in the garden as Judas approaches, and can listen to Peter's denial from his place of warmth by the fire.

And then I ponder my own betrayals and how much more like Judas I am than like Christ, and how hypocritical I am to feel wronged. I think about how Christ is betrayed every hour, every minute, and every second of every day.

And I am somewhat humbled, though not enough.

The face behind the face

I need to seek the presence of my beloved Yeshua behind the face of my husband.

This is hard.

Care of the Soul (2)

From Care of the Soul (Introduction):

"The act of entering into the mysteries of the soul, without sentimentality or pessimism, encourages life to blossom forth according to its own designs and with its own unpredictable beauty. Care of the soul is not solving the puzzle of life; quite the opposite, it is an appreciation of the paradoxical mysteries that blend light and darkness into the grandeur of what human life and culture can be."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Science vs Art

From "Care of the Soul" by Thomas Moore (Introduction)

"...psychology is a secular science, while care of the soul is a sacred art."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pooh wisdom (8)

"It is very hard to be brave," said Piglet, sniffing slightly, "when you're only a Very Small Animal."

Rabbit, who had begun to write very busily, looked up and said: "It is because you are a very small animal that you will be Useful in the adventure before us."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Merton on Sin

From Life and Holiness:

As St. Paul reminds us (1 Cor. 6: 19), we are "not our own." We belong entirely to Christ. His Spirit has taken possession of us at baptism. We are the Temples of the Holy Spirit. Our thoughts, our actions, our desires, are by rights more his than our own. But we have to struggle to ensure that God always receives from us what we owe him by right. If we do not labor to overcome our natural weakness, our disordered and selfish passions, what belongs to God in us will be withdrawn from the sanctifying power of his love and will be corrupted by selfishness, blinded by irrational desire, hardened by pride, and will eventually plunge into the abyss of moral nonentity which is called sin.

Sin is the refusal of spiritual life, the rejection of the inner order and peace that come from our union with the divine will. In a word, sin is the refusal of God's will and of his love. It is not only a refusal to "do" this or that thing willed by God, or a determination to do what he forbids. It is more radically a refusal to be what we are, a rejection of our mysterious, contingent, spiritual reality hidden in the very mystery of God. Sin is our refusal to be what we were created to be-sons of God, images of God. Ultimately sin, while seeming to be an assertion of freedom, is a flight from the freedom and the responsibility of divine sonship.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pooh wisdom (7)

"Pooh?" said Piglet, "You have a lot of friends don't you?" "Yes," said Pooh, "but only one Piglet."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mary Magdalene sings

I met with Msgr. Gerry Krieg the other day, and in the course of our conversation, he mentioned the song "I don't know how to love him" from Jesus Christ, Super Star. Interesting timing, given that I've been working on an imagining of Mary anointing Jesus feet.

Here are the lyrics.

I don't know how to love him.
What to do, how to move him.
I've been changed, yes really changed.
In these past few days, when I've seen myself,
I seem like someone else.
I don't know how to take this.
I don't see why he moves me.
He's a man. He's just a man.
And I've had so many men before,
In very many ways,
He's just one more.
Should I bring him down?
Should I scream and shout?
Should I speak of love,
Let my feelings out?
I never thought I'd come to this.
What's it all about?
Don't you think it's rather funny,
I should be in this position.
I'm the one who's always been
So calm, so cool, no lover's fool,
Running every show.
He scares me so.
I never thought I'd come to this.
What's it all about?
Yet, if he said he loved me,
I'd be lost. I'd be frightened.
I couldn't cope, just couldn't cope.
I'd turn my head. I'd back away.
I wouldn't want to know.
He scares me so.
I want him so.
I love him so.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Quotes from Care of the Soul (1)

"...care of the soul is a sacred art." (page xv)

"The act of entering into the mysteries of the soul, without sentimentality or pessimism, encourages life to blossom forth according to its own designs and with its own unpredictable beauty. Care of the soul is not solving the puzzle of life; quite the opposite, it is an appreciation of the paradoxical mysteries that blend light and darkness into the grandeur of what human life and culture can be." (page xix)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Holiness of the heart's affections

I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart's affections and the truth of the Imagination.

--John Keats

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pooh wisdom (6)

"Well! We keep looking for Home and not finding it, so I thought that if we looked for this Pit, we'd be sure not to find it, which would be a Good Thing, because then we might find something that we weren't looking for, which might be just what we were looking for, really."

-- Winnie the Pooh, from The House at Pooh Corner

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Words must glow and burn

Too much of our orthodoxy is correct and sound, but like words without a tune, it does not glow and burn; it does not stir the heart; it has lost its hallelujah. One man with a genuine glowing experience with God is worth a library full of arguments.

--Vance Havner

Monday, October 6, 2008

Pooh wisdom (5)

"We'll be friends forever won't we , Pooh?" asked piglet
"Even longer" Pooh answered.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Pooh wisdom (4)

“Poetry and Hums aren't things which you get, they're things which get you. And all you can do is go where they can find you.”

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Odes of Solomon, Ode 40

  1. As honey drips from the honeycomb of bees, and milk flows from the woman who loves her children, so also is my hope upon You, O my God.
  2. As a fountain gushes forth its water, so my heart gushes forth the praise of the Lord, and my lips bring forth praise to Him.
  3. And my tongue becomes sweet by His anthems, and my members are anointed by His odes.
  4. My face rejoices in His exultation, and my spirit exults in His love, and my nature shines in Him.
  5. And he who is afraid shall trust in Him, and redemption shall be assured in Him.
  6. And His possessions are immortal life, and those who receive it are incorruptible.
    Hallelujah.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pooh wisdom (3)

“"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best -- " and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called”

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pooh wisdom (2)

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh," he whispered.

"Yes, Piglet?"

"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw, "I just wanted to be sure of you."”

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Odes of Solomon, Ode 30

  1. Fill for yourselves water from the living fountain of the Lord, because it has been opened for you.
  2. And come all you thirsty and take a drink, and rest beside the fountain of the Lord.
  3. Because it is pleasing and sparkling, and perpetually refreshes the self.
  4. For much sweeter is its water than honey, and the honeycomb of bees is not to be compared with it;
  5. Because it flowed from the lips of the Lord, and it named from the heart of the Lord.
  6. And it came boundless and invisible, and until it was set in the middle they knew it not.
  7. Blessed are they who have drunk from it, and have refreshed themselves by it.
    Hallelujah.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pooh wisdom (1)

'If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.'

-- Winnie the Pooh.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Co-existing with the void

From The Sacraments: The Word of God at the Mercy of the Body (Chapters 2 and 3):

"Between knowledge and desire there is often an abyss. ...Certainly Christians know that they do not have a direct line to Christ. But still... "

The chapter talks about ways in which Christians try to cross over the abyss by focusing on one of 3 poles: the scriptures, the sacraments, or Christian ethics. This roughly maps to the ICCEC's concept of converging the three streams (sacramental, evangelical, and charismatic). Focusing on any one of these three brings the picture out of balance, and actually makes it harder to know God. Chauvet continues:

"Faith lives only from the space between the three poles. It is precisely this space which concretely mediates the distance between God and us, our respect for God's difference. This space is uncomfortable because it constantly maintains an emptiness. But this emptiness, which the imaginary unceasingly strives to fill, is what lets Jesus truly be the living One and respects his lordship. It is also what gives Christians room for 'play' by allowing individuals to breathe freely within the faith of the church, instead of submitting them to the uniform mold of one ideology. "

"The tension between liturgy and ethics which we have noted in Judaism is, as it were, doubled in Christianity. It is tempting to assuage the discomfort by either absorbing the liturgy in ethics ('What does Mass matter? The important thing is charity.') or ethics in the liturgy (''I'm square with God: I go to Mass every Sunday and go to confession regularly.') In both cases one becomes a 'dualist' Christian who separates the sacraments from the lived experience. However the good health of faith depends precisely on this discomfort. This is to say that the tension is not to be abolished but managed. "

The Odes of Solomon, Ode 19

7. So the Virgin became a mother with great mercies.
8. And she labored and bore the Son but without pain, because it did not occur without purpose.
9. And she did not require a midwife, because He caused her to give life.
10. She brought forth like a strong man with desire, and she bore according to the manifestation, and she acquired according to the Great Power.
11. And she loved with redemption, and guarded with kindness, and declared with grandeur.

Hallelujah.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Odes of Solomon, Ode 14

  1. As the eyes of a son upon his father, so are my eyes, O Lord, at all times towards You.
  2. Because my breasts and my pleasure are with You.
  3. Turn not aside Your mercies from me, O Lord; and take not Your kindness from me.
  4. Stretch out to me, my Lord, at all times, Your right hand, and be to me a guide till the end according to Your will.
  5. Let me be pleasing before You, because of Your glory, and because of Your name let me be saved from the Evil One.
  6. And let Your gentleness, O Lord, abide with me, and the fruits of Your love.
  7. Teach me the odes of Your truth, that I may produce fruits in You.
  8. And open to me the harp of Your Holy Spirit, so that with every note I may praise You, O Lord.
  9. And according to the multitude of Your mercies, so grant unto me, and hasten to grant our petitions.
  10. For You are sufficient for all our needs.
    Hallelujah.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Background Music

Sometimes
the need to say I love you
is so strong
that it becomes the score against which
every word I speak is played

--Chantelle Franc

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The church's teaching on BC

I've been feeling like a frayed chord over the past few days, and my husband commented that one thing he missed about my not using birth control pharmaceuticals was the leveling off of moods. That made me realize another reason they aren't a good idea; using them removes an opportunity for men to grow in mercy, patience, and generosity.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Shakespeare on love

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

--William Shakespeare

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Odes of Solomon, Ode 11

  1. My heart was pruned and its flower appeared, then grace sprang up in it, and my heart produced fruits for the Lord.
  2. For the Most High circumcised me by His Holy Spirit, then He uncovered my inward being towards Him, and filled me with His love.
  3. And His circumcising became my salvation, and I ran in the Way, in His peace, in the way of truth.
  4. From the beginning until the end I received His knowledge.
  5. And I was established upon the rock of truth, where He had set me.
  6. And speaking waters touched my lips from the fountain of the Lord generously.
  7. And so I drank and became intoxicated, from the living water that does not die.
  8. And my intoxication did not cause ignorance, but I abandoned vanity,
  9. And turned toward the Most High, my God, and was enriched by His favors.
  10. And I rejected the folly cast upon the earth, and stripped it off and cast it from me.
  11. And the Lord renewed me with His garment, and possessed me by His light.
  12. And from above He gave me immortal rest, and I became like the land that blossoms and rejoices in its fruits.
  13. And the Lord is like the sun upon the face of the land.
  14. My eyes were enlightened, and my face received the dew;
  15. And my breath was refreshed by the pleasant fragrance of the Lord.
  16. And He took me to His Paradise, wherein is the wealth of the Lord's pleasure.
    I beheld blooming and fruit-bearing trees,
    And self-grown was their crown.
    Their branches were sprouting and their fruits were shining.
    From an immortal land were their roots.
    And a river of gladness was irrigating them,
    And round about them in the land of eternal life.
  17. Then I worshipped the Lord because of His magnificence.
  18. And I said, Blessed, O Lord, are they who are planted in Your land, and who have a place in Your Paradise;
  19. And who grow in the growth of Your trees, and have passed from darkness into light.
  20. Behold, all Your laborers are fair, they who work good works, and turn from wickedness to your pleasantness.
  21. For the pungent odor of the trees is changed in Your land,
  22. And everything becomes a remnant of Yourself. Blessed are the workers of Your waters, and eternal memorials of Your faithful servants.
  23. Indeed, there is much room in Your Paradise. And there is nothing in it which is barren, but everything is filled with fruit.
  24. Glory be to You, O God, the delight of Paradise for ever.
    Hallelujah.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The apple and the tree

It occurred to me over the weekend that there is a connection between Solomon's sensuality and his lineage; how could he not be a lover with King David as his father?

Absence

Absence is to love what wind is to fire;
it extinguishes the small and rekindles the great

--Comte DeBussy-Rabutin

Sunday, September 21, 2008

St. Augustine on throwing ourselves without fear

From Confessions, VIII:1:

"Throw yourself on him. Do not fear. He will not pull away and let you fall. Throw yourself without fear and he will receive you and heal you.

I was blushing because I kept on hearing the whispering of those vanities, and I was suspended in hesitation. And again she seemed to say: Deafen yourself to the murmuring of your members so that they may be mortified. They speak to you of delights but none like the ones the law of the lord your God tells you of."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Love and Wisdom

It is impossible to love and be wise

--Francis Bacon

The Odes of Solomon, Ode 7

  1. As is the course of anger over wickedness, so is the course of joy over the Beloved; and brings in of its fruits unhindered.
  2. My joy is the Lord and my course is towards Him, this path of mine is beautiful.
  3. For there is a Helper for me, the Lord.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mark of love

No love, no friendship can cross the path of our destiny
without leaving some mark on it forever.

-- Francois Mauriac

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Awaiting a return to communion...

From Vision: The Scholarly Contributions of Mark Searle to Liturgical Renewal (pg168-169 on infant baptism):

"By baptism we have been fitted into a pattern of surrender and exaltation, of self-abandonment and deliverance, of dying and being raised. But such a pattern, far from being alien to the life of the child, is intrinsic to it. Having experienced the trauma of separation from the womb, the child is confronted with the task of learning to live as both autonomous and yet dependent, caught between the desire for communion and the need to accept separation, instinctively struggling to satisfy its own immediate needs yet learning to wait in trust for what it really needs. 'The nerve to separate,' says Fowler of the many experiences of separation and nonfulfillment in the infant's life, 'depends upon the assured return to communion.'"

Hosea 2:14-15

14 "Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Bring her into the wilderness
And speak kindly to her.

15 "Then I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the valley of Achor as a door of hope.
And she will sing there as in the days of her youth,
As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The wisdom of Solomon

I was re-reading some of the Odes of Solomon and had a thought about him. Isn't it interesting that Solomon is held up as the Bible's exemplar of wisdom, and is also identified with the intense sensuality and romance of the Song of Songs?

What does this tell us about God's view of wisdom?

Capax Eros?

I wonder if one of the reasons God called David a man after His own heart was David's capacity for passionate love, as demonstrated by his rash pursuit of Bathsheba.

A joyful heart

A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love

--Mother Teresa

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Friendship set to music

Love is friendship set to music.

--Edward Pollock

Watermelon in the sun

I am as ripe with loving you
as a watermelon in the sun
which at the gentlest touch of a knife
cleaves open in a burst of juice and seed.

--Chantelle Franc

Monday, September 15, 2008

Intense love

Intense love does not measure, it just gives

--Mother Teresa

C.S. Lewis on Longing Transforming Obedience

From The Weight of Glory:

Those who have attained everlasting life in the vision of God doubtless know very well that it is no mere bribe, but the very consummation of their earthly discipleship; but we who have not yet attained it cannot know this in the same way, and cannot even begin to know it at all except by continuing to obey and finding the first reward of our obedience is our increasing power to desire the ultimate reward. Just in proportion as the desire grows, our fear lest it should be a mercenary desire will die away and finally be recognized as an absurdity. But probably this will not, for most of us, happen in a day; poetry replaces grammar, gospel replaces law, longing transforms obedience, as gradually as the tide lifts a grounded ship.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Odes of Solomon, Ode 3

The Odes of Solomon are a collection of early (ca. 70-140) Christian poems or hymns extant primarily in Syriac.

Ode 3
  1. ... I am putting on the love of the Lord.
  2. And His members are with Him, and I am dependent on them; and He loves me.
  3. For I should not have known how to love the Lord, if He had not continuously loved me.
  4. Who is able to distinguish love, except him who is loved?
  5. I love the Beloved and I myself love Him, and where His rest is, there also am I.
  6. And I shall be no stranger, because there is no jealousy with the Lord Most High and Merciful.
  7. I have been united to Him, because the lover has found the Beloved, because I love Him that is the Son, I shall become a son.
  8. Indeed he who is joined to Him who is immortal, truly shall be immortal.
  9. And he who delights in the Life will become living.
  10. This is the Spirit of the Lord, which is not false, which teaches the sons of men to know His ways.
  11. Be wise and understanding and awakened.
    Hallelujah.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

Luke 7:37-50

Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner."

Jesus said to him in reply, "Simon, I have something to say to you." "Tell me, teacher," he said. "Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days' wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?" Simon said in reply, "The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven." He said to him, "You have judged rightly."

Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little." He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The others at table said to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" But he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Meeting God through our bodies

From: Sacred Mysteries: Sacramental Principles and Liturgical Practice (chapter 3)

"In our religion we hold dear that the divine became one with the human in the person of Jesus, and so we cannot separate the bodily aspects of worship from non-corporeal aspects. We worship God through the mystery of the fullness of who we are as human beings. We are not angels without bodies. We are women and men of flesh and blood and we meet God through our bodies."

"Touch and taste and sign and sounds and fragrance can be intoxicating, enrapturing."

"The five senses, potent and enticing as they are, have the power to draw us beyond words and thoughts, to beauty, love, and even action. It is these very human sensations that open us to the foundational mysteries of our worship, because they are windows into the foundational mysteries of our lives as human beings."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Love Song

Love Song

How can I keep my soul in me,
so that it doesn't touch your soul?
How can I raise it high enough,
past you, to other things?
I would like to shelter it,
among remote lost objects,
in some dark and silent place
that doesn't resonate when your depths resound.
Yet everything that touches us,
me and you,
takes us together like a violin's bow,
which draws one voice out of two seperate strings.
Upon what instrument are we two spanned?
And what musician holds us in his hand?
Oh sweetest song.

--Ranier Maria Rilke

Ephesians 3: 14-19

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father,
15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
16 that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self,
17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love,
18 may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Quotes from Letters to a Young Poet (III)

In one creative thought a thousand forgotten nights of love revive,
filling it with sublimity and exaltation
And those who come together in the night
and are entwined in rocking delight
do an earnest work and gather sweetnesses,
gather depth and strength for the song of some coming poet,
who will arise to speak of ecstasies beyond telling.

What I want to be when I grow up...

"Now, however, I think we need less catechesis and more profound mystagogia. ... The difference between catechesis and mystagogia is that catechesis is prose and mystagogia is poetry. Mystagogia deals less with teaching but rather unfolds the symbols of our celebration in a more poetic mode, gradually forming the deeper affections of our heart."

I -thought- I wanted to be a catechist or an apologist. Turns out I want to be a mystagogiaist.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Robert Frost on Love

"Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired"

--Robert Frost

Playing at being a saint (II)

I have been thinking about martyrdom, and my desire to die in some glorious way for God.

And I laugh at that desire given that I am so quick to shrug off the crosses He has chosen for me. The idea of a quick death, by fire or stoning or evisceration, is one I can imagine gritting my way through in the knowledge that His glory lay before me, so very close at hand.

But this long drudgery of life is something else altogether. This cross of love which lasts perhaps for the entirety of my earthly habitation, I am eager to forgo.

Maybe that is why it was especially designed for me. Quick martyrdom would perhaps not be the purging fire my spirit needs. It may be that my stiff necked-ness requires a more sustained and lengthy purification.

Lord give me the humility to accept it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Theology of Desire Resources (I)

http://www.epm.org/artman2/publish/course_materials/A_Theology_of_Desire_SYLLABUS.shtml

Quotes from Letters to a Young Poet (II)

"Physical pleasure is a sensual experience no different from pure seeing or the pure sensation with which a fine fruit fills the tongue; it is a great unending experience, which is given us, a knowing of the world, the fullness and the glory of all knowing. And not our acceptance of it is bad; the bad thing is that most people misuse and squander this experience and apply it as a stimulant at the tired spots of their lives and as distraction instead of a rallying toward exalted moments."

C.S. Lewis on Comfort

"If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair."

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Readiness for Ritual (III): on Intimacy

"In a theological frame of reference, the symbolic orientation of God-imagery at this stage produces a 'God who is the abundance of human intimacy.' God is felt to be the invisible 'third', the radiance going beyond the sum of gifts of those who love. In moments when two human beings come together in a fated intimacy, there is an overflowing sense of fullness to the joy and hopes which these persons share. The strategic point for pastoral ministry here is the conviction, generated by good preaching and good theology, that God is not put off by our delights but gratified in gracing us with the amplitude of joy. The old saw of Irenaeus that 'the glory of God is man fully alive' finds non chauvinist expression in the recognition that 'man' fully alive is 'man and woman' mutually enlivening one another's joy. To use Erikson's terminology, the abundance of delight which is the fruit of such mutual sharing in intimacy becomes the motivation for a generativity that concerns itself with not only the children of one's family, but the children of the whole human family."

Job 14:7-9

7 At least there is hope for a tree:
If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.

8 Its roots may grow old in the ground
and its stump die in the soil,

9 yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth shoots like a plant.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

C.S. Lewis on Sex in Heaven

From Miracles:

'The letter and spirit of scripture, and of all Christianity, forbid us to suppose that life in the New Creation will be a sexual life; and this reduces our imagination to the withering alternatives either of bodies which are hardly recognisable as human bodies at all or else of a perpetual fast. As regards the fast, I think our present outlook might be like that of a small boy who, on being told that the sexual act was the highest bodily pleasure, should immediately ask whether you ate chocolates at the same time. On receiving the answer "No," he might regard absence of chocolates as the chief characteristic of sexuality. In vain would you tell him that the reason why lovers in their carnal raptures don't bother about chocolates is that they have something better to think of. The boy knows chocolate: he does not know the positive thing which excludes it. We are in the same position. We know the sexual life; we do not know, except in glimpses, the other thing which, in Heaven, will leave no room for it. Hence where fullness awaits us we anticipate fasting. In denying that sexual life, as we now understand it, makes any part of the final beatitude, it is not of course necessary to suppose that the distinction of sexes will disappear. What is no longer needed for biological purposes may be expected to survive for splendour. Sexuality is the instrument both of virginity and of conjugal virtue; neither men nor women will be asked to throw away the weapon they have used victoriously. It is the beaten and the fugitives who throw away their swords. The conquerors sheathe theirs and retain them."

Jeremiah 20:7, 9

You have seduced me, Lord, and I have let myself be seduced;
you have overpowered me: you were the stronger.
.
.
.
But if I say, "I will not remember Him
Or speak anymore in His name,"
Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire
Shut up in my bones;
And I am weary of holding it in,
And I cannot endure it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sacramental sexuality

I've been pondering sexuality for the past few years.

Yesterday it struck me that love making while not formally sacrament is at least extremely sacramental. It is our most intense experience and expression of human love. Through it we most closely encounter and commune with the beloved. It it we give and receive love, actively and uniquely.

God speaks to us of this in the Song of Songs, and I am exploring how we are to respond. It is taking me surprising places...

Quotes from Shantaram (VIII) on Curses

May you have ten daughters, and may they all marry well.

--Indian curse

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Quotes from Letters to a Young Poet (I)

From Letters to a Young Poet:

This prose was read as poetry during the opening prayers at St. Bernard's orientation last night:

"I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is,to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you win then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."

--Ranier Maria Rilke

Playing at being a saint

How God must laugh...

For a few years I have been enamored of the idea of stigmata. I'm guessing that part of this is spiritual pride which of course renders me even less worthy of receiving such a gift. From the little I hear about it, it is a silly desire; the stigmata is messy, painful, and embarrassing. I'm certain it is the -idea- of it that I want, and not the reality.

(Just like the idea of carrying my cross is good and noble, while I try to shrug off the reality. More on that in another episode.)

But God is so generous, and humors me like the child that I am.

Some months ago I tripped over nothing and fell quite hard, landing primarily on one knee and my left hand. It was a strange landing; because I was carrying something, the back of my hand hit the ground rather than my palm. I was worried about it for a bit but it quickly healed.

What is left is an interesting scar. It's at the base of the top of my hand, near the wrist bone. It's shaped like a hurricane, with a smooth eye surrounded by discolored skin in an uneven oval.

It looks like a scar might look if I had a roofing nail pounded through my hand. (And yes I know that Jesus would not have been nailed using roofing nails.)

I take this to be a gift from God, and a reminder. It reminds me that I am pretentious to want such a gift of holiness when I am so unworthy and ill prepared. And it reminds me that He knows this and yet sent it as acknowledgment that my desire was heard.

I imagine Him smiling down at me; a child playing at being a saint instead of a princess.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

C.S. Lewis on Pleasure

"Pleasures are shafts of glory as it strikes our sensibility... But aren't there bad, unlawful pleasures? Certainly there are. But in calling them 'bad pleasures' I take it we are using a kind of shorthand. We mean 'pleasures snatched by unlawful acts.' It is the stealing of the apples that is bad, not the sweetness. The sweetness is still a beam from the glory... I have tried since... to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration. I don't mean simply by giving thanks for it. One must of course give thanks, but I meant something different... Gratitude exclaims, very properly, 'How good of God to give me this.' Adoration says, 'What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscation's are like this!' One's mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun... If this is Hedonism, it is also a somewhat arduous discipline. But it is worth some labour.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Desire as Purgation

I've been thinking about the idea of desire as purgation. Some of the mystical accounts of purgatory describe the state as the pain of being near enough to God to feel wretched from the distance which remains between you. I'm wondering if the experience of unfulfillable desire in this world could be that process beginning here and now. And I'm wondering if part of my mission is to help spread this understanding.

C.S. Lewis on Friendship

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one."

Monday, September 1, 2008

Quotes from Shantaram (VII) on Love-Induced Beauty

"And there was something new and very different in her manner: a warm, unhurried softness in her smile; a willing laugh that won the laughter of others; and a lightness of spirit that looked for and often found the best in those she met. For weeks, months, I'd watched those changes shift and settle in her... After a time, I began to see how deep the well of her loving was, and how much her happiness and confidence depended on drawing that love into the light, and sharing it. And love was beautiful in her. It was a clear sky she gave us with those eyes, and a summer morning with her smile."

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Quotes from Shantaram (VI) on Killing Love

"They lied to me and betrayed me, leqaving jagged edges where all my trust had been, and I didn't like or respect or admire them any more, but still I loved them. I had no choice. I understood that, perfectly, standing in the white wilderness of snow. You can't kill love. You can't even kill it with hate. You can kill in-love, and loving, and even loveliness. You can kill them all, or numb them into dense, leaden regret, but you can't kill love itself. Love is the passionate search for a truth other than your own; and once you feel it, honestly and completely, love is forever. Every act of love, every moment of the heart reaching out, is a part of the universal good: it's a part of God, or what we call God, and it can never die."

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Quotes from Shantaram (V) on Our Greatest Fear

"At first, when we truly love someone, our greatest fear is that the loved one will stop loving us. What we should fear and dread, of course, is that we won't stop loving them, even after they're dead and gone. For I still love you with the whole of my heart, Prabaker. I still love you. And sometimes, my friend, the love that I have, and can't give to you, crushes the breath from my chest. Sometimes, even now, my heart is drowwning in a sorrow that has no stars without you, and no laughter, and no sleep."

Friday, August 29, 2008

Quotes from Shantaram (IV) on Why We Crave Love

"One of the reasons we crave love, and seek it so desperately, is that love is the only cure for loneliness, and shame, and sorrow. But some feelings sink so deep in to the heart that only loneliness can help you find them again. Some truths about yourself are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. And some things are just so sad that only your soul can do the crying for you."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wish me luck

Tonight at 6:00 is my first class! May the time be consecrated for the glory of God.

Quotes from Shantaram (III) on Time

"I think... a little bit almost quite very soon, and not long."

--Prabaker

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Quotes from Shantaram (II) on Truth

"There's a truth that's deeper than experience. It's beyond what we see, or even what we feel. It's an order of truth that separates the profound from the merely clever, and the reality from the perception. We're helpless, usually, in the face of it; and the cost of knowing it, like the cost of knowing love, is sometimes greater than any heart would willingly pay. It doesn' t always help us to love the world, but it does prevent us from hating the world. And the only way to know that truth is to share it, from heart to heart."

Quotes from Shantaram (I) on Voices

"The voice is more than half of love."

--Afghan matchmaker

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Readiness for Ritual (I)

From Alternative Futures for Worship, by Cowan, Philibert, and Kilmartin:

"It is the work of poets and artists to inhabit the middle world between tacit hungers and articulate categories. But that is what the world of symbolism is all about. At the tacit dimension meaning feels like a hunger in the gut--for love, for significance, for meaning. We too easily domesticate the questing and yearning for the deep experiences of faith by naming the components with static categories. Often poets have been better at celebrating the shadow world between hunger and healing than have an older cast of theologians."

Friday, August 22, 2008

What is Mysticism? (IV)

From Practical Mysticism, Chapter 1:

The visionary is a mystic when his vision mediates to him an actuality beyond the reach of the senses. The philosopher is a mystic when he passes beyond thought to the pure apprehension of truth. The active man is a mystic when he knows his actions to be a part of a greater activity. Blake, Plotinus, Joan of Arc, and John of the Cross—there is a link which binds all these together: but if he is to make use of it, the inquirer must find that link for himself. All four exhibit different forms of the working of the contemplative consciousness; a faculty which is proper to all men, though few take the trouble to develop it. Their attention to life has changed its character, sharpened its focus: and as a result they see, some a wider landscape, some a more brilliant, more significant, more detailed world than that which is apparent to the less educated, less observant vision of common sense.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Readiness for Ritual (II): on Symbols

This chapter has much to say about symbols within liturgy. And about the need for imagination in keeping it alive. Some examples:

"We meet God through symbols"

"Symbols have the power to transport us out of the here and now into an originating past as well as into a fulfilling future."

"Ritual symbols characteristically respond to deep imaginative needs and intentions which are not easily transformed directly into common language."

"The word symbol seems to have been used in ancient times for an object much like today's passport. When a messenger bearing important information was sent to an authority or official, he was given a piece of a broken tablet which would identify himself as authorized when that piece was placed together with another matching piece in the possession of the official. Originally a Greek word, symbol (sum-ballein) meant to pull together aspects which have either been broken apart, sundered, or which have yet to find a synthetic fullness in being united."

"Another obstacle is the adults failure to utilize the full scope of memory and imaging in theological thinking and ritual expression."

"For the fully alive adult is someone who, thought a lesser degree than children, scans the environment, taking in more stimulation than can be dealt with immediately. Even adults seek fuller meanings. As we will argue later, adults who do not know the playful nature of ritual and ritualization--the exploratory range of deep, questing interactions within the formal structure of repeated rites--will become dead to the enlivening potential of their cosmic surroundings as well as thoroughly bored with the ritual dynamics of their community. For these reasons it will be important to keep in mind how fluid a notion play is for Erikson and how integrally it functions in the elaboration of his theory of the "ontogeny of ritualization."

Worn out and more to come

I am all registered for my first class ("Worship and Sacraments") at St. Bernard's seminary next week. I have all 6 books in hand, a 60 page PDF to read, and something online called "Moodle" to explore for more reading. I'm in for it indeed.

Look's like God is going to have to pull another rabbit out of His endless hat if I'm going to make this work.

The class replaces one previously titled "Sacramental Theology". Yum!!!

And while yes, I'm feeling a bit intimidated, and a bit overwhelmed given this hateful week I've been having, my initial reading is generating excitement.

I'll post a few snippets in days to come.

Pray for me.

Augustine Weeps

I wept at the beauty of your hymns and canticles, and was
powerfully moved at the sweet sound of your Church singing.
These sounds flowed into my ears, and the truth streamed into my
heart.

-- St. Augustine of Hippo

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

On Horrible Mystery... (What is Mysticism? III)

From Practical Mysticism, Chapter 1:

Because mystery is horrible to us, we have agreed for the most part to live in a world of labels; to make of them the current coin of experience, and ignore their merely symbolic character, the infinite gradation of values which they misrepresent. We simply do not attempt to unite with Reality. But now and then that symbolic character is suddenly brought home to us. Some great emotion, some devastating visitation of beauty, love, or pain, lifts us to another level of consciousness; and we are aware for a moment of the difference between the neat collection of discrete objects and experiences which we call the world, and the height, the depth, the breadth of that living, growing, changing Fact, of which thought, life, and energy are parts, and in which we “live and move and have our being.” Then we realise that our whole life is enmeshed in great and living forces; terrible because unknown.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

Song of the Soul and the Bridegroom (XXX-XXXI)

XXX
Of emeralds, and of flowers
In the early morning gathered,
We will make the garlands,
Flowering in Your love,
And bound together with one hair of my head.

XXXI
By that one hair
You have observed fluttering on my neck,
And on my neck regarded,
You were captivated;
And wounded by one of my eyes.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

How do I Love Thee?

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

The Door of God

The door of God is humility.

-- John the Short

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Song of the Soul and the Bridegroom (XXXVI-XXXIX)

XXXVI
Let us rejoice, O my Beloved!
Let us go forth to see ourselves in Your beauty,
To the mountain and the hill,
Where the pure water flows:
Let us enter into the heart of the thicket.

XXXVII
We shall go at once
To the deep caverns of the rock
Which are all secret,
There we shall enter in
And taste of the new wine of the pomegranate.

XXXVIII
There you will show me
That which my soul desired;
And there You will give at once,
O You, my life!
That which You gave me the other day.

XXXIX
The breathing of the air,
The song of the sweet nightingale,
The grove and its beauty
In the serene night,
With the flame that consumes, and gives no pains.

Friday, August 15, 2008

C.S. Lewis on What God Wants

From Mere Christianity:

"Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What is Mysticism? (II)

From Practical Mysticism, Chapter 1:

Real knowledge, since it always implies an intuitive sympathy more or less intense, is far more accurately suggested by the symbols of touch and taste than by those of hearing and sight. True, analytic thought follows swiftly upon the contact, the apprehension, the union...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bernard on the Sweetness of Christ

Jesus the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see
And in Thy presence rest.

-- Bernard of Clairvaux

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Song of the Soul and the Bridegroom (XXVII-XXIX)

XXVII
There He gave me His breasts,
There He taught me the science full of sweetness.
And there I gave to Him
Myself without reserve;
There I promised to be His bride.

XXVIII
My soul is occupied,
And all my substance in His service;
Now I guard no flock,
Nor have I any other employment:
My sole occupation is love.

XXIX
If, then, on the common land
I am no longer seen or found,
You will say that I am lost;
That, being enamored,
I lost myself; and yet was found.

Truth as Symphony

“Truth is symphonic.”

--Hans Urs von Balthasar

Monday, August 11, 2008

What is Mysticism? (I)

From Practical Mysticism, Chapter 1:

Mysticism is the art of union with Reality. The mystic is a person who has attained that union in greater or less degree; or who aims at and believes in such attainment. ... the word “union” represents not so much a rare and unimaginable operation, as something which he is doing, in a vague, imperfect fashion, at every moment of his conscious life; and doing with intensity and thoroughness in all the more valid moments of that life. We know a thing only by uniting with it; by assimilating it; by an interpenetration of it and ourselves. It gives itself to us, just in so far as we give ourselves to it; and it is because our outflow towards things is usually so perfunctory and so languid, that our comprehension of things is so perfunctory and languid too. The great Sufi who said that “Pilgrimage to the place of the wise, is to escape the flame of separation” spoke the literal truth. Wisdom is the fruit of communion; ignorance the inevitable portion of those who “keep themselves to themselves,” and stand apart, judging, analysing the things which they have never truly known.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

C.S. Lewis on Eternity

"A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do."

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Excerpts from The Road to Cana (II)

Jesus is in the desert, suffering through all the experiences of his lifetime, and realizing that that is what each of us will have to do when we end our lives.

"In the night I awoke. Was this my own voice reciting what was written? "'And every secret thing shall be opened, and every dark place illuminated.'"

Dear God, no, do not let them know this, do not let them know the great accumulation of all of this, this agony and joy, this misery, this solace, this reaching, this gouging pain, this...

But they will know, each and every one of them will know. They will know because what you are remembering is what has happened to each and every one of them. Did you think this was more or less for you? Did you think--?

And when they are called to account, when they stand naked before God and every incident and utterance is laid bare--you, you will know all of it with each and every one of them!

I knelt in the sand.

Is this possible, Lord, to be with each of them when he or she comes to know? To be there for every single cry of anguish? For the grief-stricken remembrance of every incomplete joy?... Dear God I cannot... but I will. I will.

I sobbed aloud. I will. O Father in Heaven, I am reaching to You with hands of flesh and blood. I am longing for You in Your perfection with this heart that is imperfection! And I reach up for You with what is decaying before my very eyes, and I stare at Your stars from within the prison of this body, but this is not my prison, this is my Will. This is Your Will.

Simone Weil on the Hand of God

From Gravity and Grace:

The man who has known pure joy, if only for a moment...is the only man for whom affliction is something devastating. At the same time he is the only man who has not deserved the punishment. But, after all, for him it is no punishment; it is God holding his hand and pressing rather hard. For, if he remains constant, what he will discover buried deep under the sound of his own lamentations is the pearl of the silence of God.

— Simone Weil

Friday, August 8, 2008

John Bunyan on Christ

Christ is the desire of nations, the joy of angels, the delight
of the Father. What solace then must that soul be filled with
that hath the possession of Him to all eternity!

-- John Bunyan

Song of the Soul and the Bridegroom (XXII)

XXII
The bride has entered
The pleasant and desirable garden,
And there reposes to her heart’s content;
Her neck reclining
On the sweet arms of the Beloved.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Excerpts from The Road to Cana (I)

I am reading the 2nd in Anne Rice's series on the life of Jesus. This one explores the period in which his time is coming. I am moved by Rice's handling of his love for a young woman of his village, Avigail, and am comforted that he was (is?) like us in all things save sin.

I hesitate a bit to include these snippets here, in case they are merely sentimental out of context. But here goes.

In this passage, Yeshua talks with his mother about Avigail.

Mary says "This has made you miserable. I've seen this before, but never as bad as it is now."

"Is it so bad?" I whispered. I looked away, as men do when they only want to see their thoughts. "I don't know that it's been bad for me, Mother. What is bad for me? To love as I love Avigail--it has a luster, a great and beautiful luster."

She waited.

"There come these moments," I said. "These heartbreaking moments--the moments when we first feel joy and sadness intertwined. Such a discovery that is, when grief becomes sweet. I remember feeling this perhaps for the very first time when we came to this place, all of us together, and I walked up the hill above Nazareth and saw the green grass alive with flowers, the tiniest flowers--so many flowers, and all of it, grass and flowers and trees, moving as if in a great dance. It hurt."

She said nothing.

Finally I looked at her. I touched my chest with my fist lightly. "It hurt," I said. "But it was to be cherished... forever."
.
.
.
She smiled. Again she kissed me, and she leaned on my should as she rose to go. ... I stared at the reddened coals.

"How long, O Lord?" I whispered. How long?

Sweet was the love...

From The Cloud of Unknowing, Chapter 22:

Sweet was that love betwixt our Lord and Mary.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

G.K. Chesterton on a Life of Practical Romance

From Orthodoxy:

"But nearly all people I have ever met in this western society in which I live would agree to the general proposition that we need this life of practical romance; the combination of something that is strange with something that is secure. We need so to view the world as to combine an idea of wonder and an idea of welcome. We need to be happy in this wonderland without once being merely comfortable."

Transcendent Wonder

Worship is transcendent wonder.

-- Thomas Carlyle

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Song of the Soul and the Bridegroom (XIV-XV)

XIV
My Beloved is the mountains,
The solitary wooded valleys,
The strange islands,
The roaring torrents,
The whisper of the amorous gales;

XV
The tranquil night
At the approaches of the dawn,
The silent music,
The murmuring solitude,
The supper which revives, and enkindles love.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Psalm 37:4

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

C.S. Lewis on Resurrected Senses

From Transposition:

"How far the life of the risen man will be sensory, we do not know. But I surmise that it will differ from the sensory life we know here, not as emptiness differs from water or water from wine but as a flower differs from a bulb or a cathedral differs from an architect's drawing."

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Song of the Soul and the Bridegroom (IX-XII)

IX

Why, after wounding
This heart, have You not healed it?
And why, after stealing it,
Have You thus abandoned it,
And not carried away the stolen prey?

X

Quench my troubles,
For no one else can soothe them;
And let my eyes behold You,
For You are their light,
And I will keep them for You alone.

XI

Reveal Your presence,
And let the vision and Your beauty kill me,
Behold the malady
Of love is incurable
Except in Your presence and before Your face.

XII

O crystal well!
Oh that on Your silvered surface
You would mirror forth at once
Those eyes desired
Which are outlined in my heart!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

St. John of the Cross on Finding God within

From one of my new patrons:

"What more do you want, o soul! And what else do you search for outside, when within yourself you possess your riches, delights, satisfaction and kingdom -- your beloved whom you desire and seek? Desire him there, adore him there. Do not go in pursuit of him outside yourself. You will only become distracted and you won't find him, or enjoy him more than by seeking him within you."

-- Saint John of the Cross

On Severe Mercy

C.S. Lewis to his friend Sheldon Vanauken:

"I sometimes wonder whether bereavement is not, at bottom, the easiest and least perilous of the ways in which men lose the happiness of youthful love. For I believe it must always be lost in some way: every merely natural love has to be crucified before it can achieve resurrection..."

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Iron of My Eyes (by Gregory David Roberts)

The Iron of My Eyes

Oh my beloved,
After dreaming night when I woke
it was a strange and worrying thing
to find you standing
at the morning's dawn-eyed window
silent,
shedding tears,
your face like a flower
the sky has bruised with summer rain.

The last teardrop crossed your lips.
You turned slowly, came into my arms
and sensed my concern,
but your smile and answering kiss
laughed,
ringing clear,
the sound like water
splashing in an oasis well.

It was not suffering, you said,
nor some fear or hurt that made you weep.
The tears that you shed
as you watched me sleeping came from
happiness,
rising sheer,
the joy like thunder
trembling in drought's red river bed.

Love-struck happiness broke your heart
you said,
with such sweet pleasure in the breaking
that your very smile,
radiant with soul-fired changes
transformed,
jewelling tears,
your light like sunrise
gleaming the dew-diamond desert.

It is a mystery to me
how this joy with tearful heartbreak sits,
but if pleasure set your tears free
then break your heart against the iron of my eyes,
woman,
and break it there again,
and again,
as often as you like.
I will pick up all the shattered pieces
one by one,
and press them to my lips,
to seal each precious fragment
with adoration's kiss.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

as Falling Snow

"Love should be as effortless as breathing and as indiscriminate as falling snow."

(Hugh Prather)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Song 4:9-15

9
You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have ravished my heart with one glance of your eyes,
with one bead of your necklace.
10
How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride,
how much more delightful is your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your ointments than all spices!
11
Your lips drip honey, my bride,
sweetmeats and milk are under your tongue;
And the fragrance of your garments
is the fragrance of Lebanon.
12
You are an enclosed garden, my sister, my bride,
an enclosed garden, a fountain sealed.
13
You are a park that puts forth pomegranates,
with all choice fruits;
14
Nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon,
with all kinds of incense;
Myrrh and aloes,
with all the finest spices.
15
You are a garden fountain, a well of water
flowing fresh from Lebanon.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thank God for Poetry

I'm working my way through a scholarly treatise called "God and the Creative Imagination", and recently finished a chapter titled "Liturgy as Literature". The chapter was really all about poetry, and captured and summarized all that I feel about what this blog does for me.

Here are some snippets, many of which quote a variety of other writers' thoughts.

"The language of Christian devotion (that is, of private prayer, meditation and hymnody) springs from the Christian imagination that is aflame with the love of God and is therefore incorrigibly figurative--sometimes boldly and radically so."

"The language of liturgy is poetry rather than prose: it is the product of Christian imagination that has been chastened and shaped by the liturgical and doctrinal tradition."

Coleridge "...suggested that in prose the words are subordinate to the meaning and ought to express it as efficiently as possible without attracting too much attention to themselves, while the words of poetry must be beautiful in themselves, though without detracting from the unity of effect of the whole"

Coleridge describes the birthing of poetry as "that pleasurable emotion, that peculiar state and degree of excitement, which arises in the poet himself in the act of composition".

and says that poetry is "the lava of the imagination whose eruption prevents an earthquake"

He continues to say that it is "the balance in the mind effected by that spontaneous effort which strives to hold in check the workings of passion" and what is required is "an interpenetration of passion and of will, of spontaneous impulse and of voluntary purpose".

"For Keble, poetry acts as a safety-valve for overflowing emotion: the writing and reading of poetry is cathartic and soothes--that is to say steadies or tempers--the spirit suffering the turbulence of passion."

Keble also describes poetry as "a kind of medicine, divinely bestowed on man, which gives healing relief to secret mental emotion or overpowering sorrow, yet without detriment to modest reserve, and while giving scope to enthusiasm yet rules it with order and due control"

and "the indirect expression in words, most appropriately in metrical words, of some overpowering emotion, or ruling taste, or feeling, the direct indulgence whereof is somehow repressed."

Avis himself says "The pleasurable excitement of poetry is due in part to the role of meter in harnessing powerful emotions."

and "Thoughts that defy expression, emotions that are too strong for human nature to bear, are constrained, contained and made manageable"

All I can say is: Yep.