Monday, June 30, 2008

On Brief Beauty

This from one of my favorite fiction authors, Laurie R. King who writes the Mary Russell novels, accounts of Sherlock Holme's adventures with his young wife. This book was not from that series, and is called Touchstone:

"...My mother had a wisteria trained over the front door of one of the houses we lived in. Used to have one great load of purple blossoms every year in the spring, then drop them all and never do anything the rest of the year. I remember asking her once why she didn't plant something that bloomed for longer, and she said that the whole point of it was the brevity of the beauty, that it made you think about it all year."

Willaim Blake on Perception

From The Marriage of Heaven and Hell:

"If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite."

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Psalm 90:14

Fill us at daybreak with your love, that all our days we may sing for joy.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

St. Francis de Sales to Madame de la Flechere

"There is a real temptation to become dissatisfied with the world and depressed about it when we have of necessity to be in it. God's Providence is wiser than we. We imagine we would feel better if we were on another ship; that may be, but only if we change ourselves! I am the sworn enemy of all those useless, dangerous, unwise desires, for even if what we desire is good, the desiring itself is pointless since God does not want that kind of good for us, but another, toward which He expects us to strive. He wishes to speak to us from the thorny bush, as He did to Moses, and we would like Him to speak to us in the gentle breeze, as He did to Elijah.

May His Goodness watch over you, my dearest daughter, but be steadfast, courageous, and rejoice in the fact that He has given you the grace to want to be entirely His. I am, in this Goodness, all yours."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Last night I dreamt of dreams

I had a remarkable dream last night.

In it, I visited a place I thought I had known as a child; a house with some outbuildings in back. I was there with other family members for some reason, perhaps preparing it for sale. I was sad because I didn't see one of the buildings I expected; the one that had been my favorite because it was my grandfather's playground. I had such very fond memories of looking at his collections of treasures.

We went into one of the buildings, and into an inner room, and it turned out to be the very place I had hungered to see. All around on shelf after shelf were his collections of interesting things; mostly groups of related antiques and collectibles, but newer things as well. And in some places there were his inventions in various stages and models.

As I walked through the place I was in tears, crying harder as I discovered more and more things that I remembered from so many years before. My heart felt as if it would break with the joy and gratitude of it.

It seems like the crying and the exploration went on and on and on.

The fascinating part is that I -really did- recognize these things, and it really -was- a reunion for me. However, they did not exist in reality.

There was no inventor grandfather, there was no home with treasure-laden outbuildings. But I -had- experienced them before; in other dreams.

Yet my joy at the reunion with these memories was very real, and very deep.

What a strange gift...

John Muir on Beauty

"Beauty beyond thought everywhere, beneath,
above, made and being made forever."

Pascal on a Holy Life

"The serene beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence
in the world next to the power of God."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

William Blake on Dreams

From The Land of Dreams

Father, O father! what do we here
In this land of unbelief and fear?
The Land of Dreams is better far,
Above the light of the morning star.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

C.S. Lewis on Pain

“The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before. That's the deal.”

St. Francis de Sales to Jeanne de Chantal (1)

"I see that all the seasons of the year converge in your soul: at times you experience all the dryness, distraction, disgust, and boredom of winter; at other times, all the dew and fragrance of the little flowers of Maytime; and again, the warmth of a desire to please God. All that remains is autumn, and you say that you do not see much of its fruit. Yet it often happens that in threshing the wheat and pressing the grapes we discover more than the harvest or vintage promised. You would like it to be always spring or summer; but no, my dear daughter, we have to experience interior as well as exterior changes. Only in heaven will everything be springtime as to beauty, autumn as to enjoyment, and summer as to love. There will be no winter there; but here below we need winter so that we may practice self-denial and the countless small but beautiful virtues that can be practiced during a barren season."

Monday, June 23, 2008

Peter Kreeft on the Existence of God

From The Argument from Desire:

"The conclusion of the argument is not that everything the Bible tells us about God and life with God is really so. What it proves is an unknown X, but an unknown whose direction, so to speak, is known. This X is more: more beauty, more desirability, more awesomeness, more joy. This X is to great beauty as, for example, great beauty is to small beauty or to a mixture of beauty and ugliness. And the same is true of other perfections.

But the "more" is infinitely more, for we are not satisfied with the finite and partial. Thus the analogy (X is to great beauty as great beauty is to small beauty) is not proportionate. Twenty is to ten as ten is to five, but infinity is not to twenty as twenty is to ten. The argument points down an infinite corridor in a definite direction. Its conclusion is not "God" as already conceived or defined, but a moving and mysterious X which pulls us to itself and pulls all our images and concepts out of themselves."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

C.S. Lewis on the Great Story

From The Last Battle:

“ at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read, which goes on forever and in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

The Cloud of Unknowing

From The Cloud of Unknowing:

"Here one turns to God with a burning desire for Himself alone and rests in the blind awareness of his naked being."

"For I tell you this, one loving blind desire for God alone is more valuable in itself, more pleasing to God and to the saints, more beneficial to your growth, and more helpful to your friends, both living and dead, than anything else you could do."

"Let your longing relentlessly beat upon the cloud of unknowing that lies between you and your God."

Saturday, June 21, 2008

St. Faustina on Yearning (2)

From The Diary (469):

"On the evening of that same day, I felt in my soul a great yearning for God. I do not see Him at this moment with my bodily eyes as I have on other occasions, but I sense His presence and yet do not grasp Him [with my mind]. This causes me great yearning and torment beyond words. I am dying from the desire to possess Him, to be drowned in Him forever. My spirit pursues Him with all its might; there is nothing in the world that could comfort me. O Love Eternal, now I understand in what close intimacy my heart was with You! For what else can satisfy me in heaven or on earth except You, O my God, in Whom my soul is drowned. "

Friday, June 20, 2008

Godspell: By My Side (Sung by Jean Paul Sartre and Socrates)

Where are you going?
Where are you going?
Can you take me with you?
For my hand is cold
And needs warmth
Where are you going?

Far beyond where the horizon lies
Where the horizon lies
And the land sinks into
mellow blueness
Oh please, take me with you
Let me skip the road with you
I can dare myself
I can dare myself

I'll put a pebble in my shoe
And watch me walk
I can walk
I can walk!

I shall call the pebble Dare
I shall call the pebble Dare
We will walk,
we will talk together
About walking
Dare shall be carried
And when we both have had enough
I will take him from my shoe, singing
"Meet your new road!"

Then I'll take
your hand
Finally glad
Finally glad
That I am here
By your side

By your side
By your side
By your side

Thursday, June 19, 2008

C.S. Lewis on Heart's Desire

From The Last Battle:

"The sweet air grew suddenly sweeter. A brightness flashed behind them. All turned. Tirian turned last because he was afraid. There stood his heart’s desire, huge and real, the golden Lion, Aslan Himself. He fixed his eyes on Tirian, and Tirian came near, trembling and flung himself at the Lion’s feet and the Lion kissed him."

Thomas A. Kempis

From Imitation of Christ, III.34.3:

"Ah, when will it come, that blissful and longed-for hour, when the joy of your presence shall brim to overflowing the depths of my desire, and you be my all in all? "

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Matthew 25:6

“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’”

Pete Townshend on Love

In a comment to another post in this blog, Blogger Pranayama mama offered the following...

"Love is like longing, and energy. It's like magnetism, it's like gravity. And at its highest it's about spiritual salvation."

~~ Pete Townshend

Psalm 63:1-8

O God, You are my God;
I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You,
my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.
So I will bless You as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.

My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches,
For You have been my help,
And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

On Absence and Dread

I don't know which is worse; the dread of the leave taking or the actual absence.

A God of Relationship

God was generous to me in prayer yesterday. He sprinkled tidbits of revelation throughout our time together. I will never understand His generousity to me, undeserving and ingrateful as I am.

I was thinking of all the roles God plays for us. All the relationships He offers. He is our king, our Father, our brother, our counselor, our judge, and our spouse.

He is MY king, my brother, my counselor, my judge, and most of all, my spouse.

In being all these things, we can look to Him for help in all our relationships. With our boss, with our siblings, with our mentors, with our priests, and with our husbands or wives. He knows each relationship and we can go to Him in and for each one of them.

The more you ponder the way He unfolds His plan, the more you rest in wonder.

MacDonald on Books as Sacraments

From Lady of the Mansion:

"I never had been by any means a book-worm; but the very outside of a book had a charm to me. It was a kind of sacrament--an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace; as, indeed, what on God's earth is not?""

Monday, June 16, 2008

Native American Wisdom

"You will need to be strong, for you will be called cowards and traitors. But it is an act of courage to
choose sanity and peace when others are choosing hate and war."

San Ildefonso, Pueblo elder

Crucify Me

I was thinking about crucifixion this morning while praying.

I could picture the nails in my hands, binding me to the cross. The image was comforting; if I allow myself to be crucified with Christ, I cannot commit the sins I long to commit. Even if I pull and strain, I am connected to the cross, connected to Christ, and in so binding myself, am protected.

St. Faustina on Yearning (1)

From The Diary (841):

"O my Creator, I long for You! You understand me, O Lord of mine! All that is on earth seems to me like a pale shadow. It is You I long for and desire. Although You do so inconceivably much for me, for You yourself visit me in a special way, yet those visits do not soothe the wound of my heart, but make me long all the more for You, O Lord. Oh, take me to Yourself, Lord, if such is Your will! You know I am dying, and I am dying of longing for You; and yet, I cannot die. Death, where are you?"

Sunday, June 15, 2008

MacDonald on Dreaming

From Lady of the Mansion:

"What a wonderful thing waking is! The time of the ghostly moonshine passes by, and the great positive sunlight comes. A man who dreams, and knows that he is dreaming, thinks he knows what waking is; but knows it so little that he mistakes, one after another, many a vague and dim change in his dream for an awaking. When the true waking comes at last, he is filled and overflowed with the power of its reality. So, likewise, one who, in the darkness, lies waiting for the light about to be struck, and trying to conceive, with all the force of his imagination, what the light will be like, is yet, when the reality flames up before him, seized as by a new and unexpected thing, different from and beyond all his imagining. He feels as if the darkness were cast to an infinite distance behind him. So shall it be with us when we wake from this dream of life into the truer life beyond, and find all our present notions of being thrown back as into a dim vapoury region of dreamland, where yet we thought we knew, and whence we looked forward into the present. This must be what Novalis means when he says: “Our life is not a dream; but it may become a dream, and perhaps ought to become one.”"

St. Bernard of Clairvaux on Song of Songs (Sermon 85:13)

13. ...The soul is affected in one way when it is made fruitful by the Word, in another when it enjoys the Word: in the one it is considering the needs of its neighbor; in the other it is allured by the sweetness of the Word. A mother is happy in her child; a bride is even happier in her bridegroom's embrace. The children are dear, they are the pledge of his love, but his kisses give her greater pleasure. It is good to save many souls, but there is far more pleasure in going aside to be with the Word. But when does this happen and for how long? It is sweet intercourse, but lasts a short time and is experienced rarely! This is what I spoke of before, when I said that the final reason for the soul to seek the Word was to enjoy him in bliss.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

C.S. Lewis on First Love

"God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love."

I'm a Carb Lover

I wonder if our desire for God manifests itself as a deep hunger because He is in fact real food; the Bread of Life?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Having and Wanting

During my devotional time this morning, I was again given the gift of an intense longing and hunger for God. When this happens my heart feels like a burning brand, and my chest aches with an emptiness yearning to be filled. It is a great gift, this love and longing. I think it is actually an experience of God, a realization of Him. Perhaps even a manifestation of Him.

As Lewis said: "The very nature of Joy makes nonsense of our common distinction between having and wanting."

I think that in the wanting I am in fact having.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

C.S. Lewis on Worship

From Reflections on the Psalms:

"It is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men."

G.K. Chesterton on Orthodoxy

"This is the thrilling romance of Orthodoxy. People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy."
"To have fallen into any one of the fads from Gnosticism to Christian Science would indeed have been obvious and tame. But to have avoided them all has been one whirling adventure; and in my vision the heavenly chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect."

Aquinas Responds: Is Ecstasy an Effect of Love?

To suffer ecstasy means to be placed outside oneself. This happens as to the apprehensive power and as to the appetitive power. As to the apprehensive power, a man is said to be placed outside himself, when he is placed outside the knowledge proper to him. This may be due to his being raised to a higher knowledge; thus, a man is said to suffer ecstasy, inasmuch as he is placed outside the connatural apprehension of his sense and reason, when he is raised up so as to comprehend things that surpass sense and reason: or it may be due to his being cast down into a state of debasement; thus a man may be said to suffer ecstasy, when he is overcome by violent passion or madness. As to the appetitive power, a man is said to suffer ecstasy, when that power is borne towards something else, so that it goes forth out from itself, as it were.

The first of these ecstasies is caused by love dispositively in so far, namely, as love makes the lover dwell on the beloved, ... and to dwell intently on one thing draws the mind from other things. The second ecstasy is caused by love directly; by love of friendship, simply; by love of concupiscence not simply but in a restricted sense. Because in love of concupiscence, the lover is carried out of himself, in a certain sense; in so far, namely, as not being satisfied with enjoying the good that he has, he seeks to enjoy something outside himself. But since he seeks to have this extrinsic good for himself, he does not go out from himself simply, and this movement remains finally within him. On the other hand, in the love of friendship, a man's affection goes out from itself simply; because he wishes and does good to his friend, by caring and providing for him, for his sake.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

C.S. Lewis on Being Overcome

From The Great Divorce, chapter 11:

Overcome us that, so overcome, we may be ourselves: we desire the beginning of your reign as we desire dawn and dew, wetness at the birth of light.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux on Song of Songs (Sermon 83:5-6)

5. ...Pure love has no self-interest. Pure love does not gain strength through expectation, nor is it weakened by distrust. This is the love of the bride, for this is the bride-with all that means. Love is the being and the hope of a bride. She is full of it, and the bridegroom is contented with it. He asks nothing else, and she has nothing else to give. That is why he is the bridegroom and she the bride; this love is the property only of the couple. No one else can share it, not even a son.

... but the love of a bridegroom-or rather of the Bridegroom who is love-asks only the exchange of love and trust. Let the Beloved love in return. How can the bride-and the bride of love--do other than love? How can Love not be loved?

6. Rightly, then, does she renounce all other affections and devote herself to love alone, for it is in returning love that she has the power to respond to love. Although she may pour out her whole self in love, what is that compared to the inexhaustible fountain of his love? The stream of love does not flow equally from her who loves and from him who is love, the soul and the Word, the Bride and the Bridegroom, the Creator and the creature-any more than a thirsty man can be compared to a fountain. Will the Bride's vow perish, then, because of this? Will the desire of her heart, her burning love, her affirmation of confidence, fail in their purpose because she has not the strength to keep pace with a giant, or rival honey in sweetness, the lamb in gentleness, or the lily in whiteness? Because she cannot equal the brightness of the sun, and the charity of him who is Charity? No. Although the creature loves less, being a lesser being, yet if it loves with its whole heart nothing is lacking, for it has given all. Such love, as I have said, is marriage, for a soul cannot love like this and not be beloved; complete and perfect marriage consists in the exchange of love. No one can doubt that the soul is first loved, and loved more intensely, by the Word; for it is anticipated and surpassed in its love. Happy the soul who is permitted to be anticipated in blessedness so sweet. Happy the soul who has been allowed to experience the embrace of such bliss! For it is nothing other than love, holy and chaste, full of sweetness and delight, love utterly serene and true, mutual and deep, which joins two beings, not in one flesh, but in one spirit, making them no longer two but one. As Paul says: 'He who is united to God is one spirit with him.'

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

C.S. Lewis on Praise

From Reflections on the Psalms:

"I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation."

Julian of Norwich: Revelations of Divine Love, Ch. 6

"Our soul is so specially loved of Him that is highest, that it overpasseth the knowing of all creatures: that is to say, there is no creature that is made that may know how much and how sweetly and how tenderly our Maker loveth us. And therefore we may with grace and His help stand in spiritual beholding, with everlasting marvel of this high, overpassing, inestimable Love that Almighty God hath to us of His Goodness. And therefore we may ask of our Lover with reverence all that we will.

For our natural Will is to have God, and the Good Will of God is to have us; and we may never cease from willing nor from longing till we have Him in fullness of joy: and then may we no more desire."

Paul's Conversion

Isn't it interesting that Paul's conversion involved a removal of his eyesight temporarily, when Jesus was usually about the business of healing?

PS A recent gospel reading had Jesus calling the Pharisees the blind leading the blind. I guess in Paul's case, He decided to show him just how much leading you can do without sight.

Monday, June 9, 2008

C.S. Lewis on Love and Heartbreak

From The Four Loves:

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken."

St. Bernard of Clairvaux on Song of Songs (Sermon 83:3)

3. Such conformity weds the soul to the Word, for one Who is the Word by nature shows himself like him too in the exercise will, loving as she is loved. When she loves perfectly, the soul wedded to the Word. What is lovelier than this conformity? What more desirable than charity, by whose operation, 0 soul, not content with a human master, you approach the Word with confidence, cling to him with constancy, speak to him as to a familiar friend, and refer to him in every matter with an intellectual grasp proportionate to the boldness of your desire'? Truly this is a spiritual contract, a holy marriage. It is more than a contract, it is an embrace: an embrace where identity of will makes of two one spirit. There need be no fear that inequality of persons should impair the conformity of will, because love is no respecter of persons. It is from loving, not revering, that love receives its name. Let someone filled with horror or stupor or fear or wonder be content with reverence; where there is love all these are unimportant. Love is sufficient for itself; when love is present it absorbs and conquers all other affections. Therefore it loves what it loves, and it knows nothing else. He who is justly honored, held in awe, and admired, prefers to be loved. He and the soul are Bridegroom and Bride. What other bond or compulsion do you look for between those who are betrothed, except to love and be loved?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Aquinas Responds: Is Mutual Indwelling an Effect of Love?

This effect of mutual indwelling may be understood as referring both to the apprehensive and to the appetitive power. Because, as to the apprehensive power, the beloved is said to be in the lover, inasmuch as the beloved abides in the apprehension of the lover, according to Philippians 1:7, "For that I have you in my heart": while the lover is said to be in the beloved, according to apprehension, inasmuch as the lover is not satisfied with a superficial apprehension of the beloved, but strives to gain an intimate knowledge of everything pertaining to the beloved, so as to penetrate into his very soul. Thus it is written concerning the Holy Ghost, Who is God's Love, that He "searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:10).

As the appetitive power, the object loved is said to be in the lover, inasmuch as it is in his affections, by a kind of complacency: causing him either to take pleasure in it, or in its good, when present; or, in the absence of the object loved, by his longing, to tend towards it with the love of concupiscence, or towards the good that he wills to the beloved, with the love of friendship: not indeed from any extrinsic cause (as when we desire one thing on account of another, or wish good to another on account of something else), but because the complacency in the beloved is rooted in the lover's heart. For this reason we speak of love as being "intimate"; and "of the bowels of charity." On the other hand, the lover is in the beloved, by the love of concupiscence and by the love of friendship, but not in the same way. For the love of concupiscence is not satisfied with any external or superficial possession or enjoyment of the beloved; but seeks to possess the beloved perfectly, by penetrating into his heart, as it were. Whereas, in the love of friendship, the lover is in the beloved, inasmuch as he reckons what is good or evil to his friend, as being so to himself; and his friend's will as his own, so that it seems as though he felt the good or suffered the evil in the person of his friend. Hence it is proper to friends "to desire the same things, and to grieve and rejoice at the same," as the Philosopher says (Ethic. ix, 3 and Rhet. ii, 4). Consequently in so far as he reckons what affects his friend as affecting himself, the lover seems to be in the beloved, as though he were become one with him: but in so far as, on the other hand, he wills and acts for his friend's sake as for his own sake, looking on his friend as identified with himself, thus the beloved is in the lover.

In yet a third way, mutual indwelling in the love of friendship can be understood in regard to reciprocal love: inasmuch as friends return love for love, and both desire and do good things for one another.


St. Bernard of Clairvaux on Song of Songs (Sermon 74)

7. But when the Word has left me, all these spiritual powers become weak and faint and begin to grow cold, as though you had removed the fire under the boiling pot, and this is a sign of his going. Then my soul must needs be sorrowful until he returns, and my heart again kindles within me-the sign of his returning. When I have had such experience of the Word, is it any wonder that I take to myself the words of the Bride, calling him back when he has withdrawn? For although my fervor is not as strong as hers, yet I am transported by a desire like hers. As long as I live the word 'return', the word of recall for the recall of the word, will be on my lips.

As often as he slips away from me, so often shall I call him back From the burning desire of my heart I will not cease to call him begging him to return, as if after someone who is departing, and I implore him to give back to me the joy of his salvation, and restore himself to me.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Aquinas Responds: Does Passion Wound the Lover?

In reply to the objections, it is to be observed that four proximate effects may be ascribed to love: viz. melting, enjoyment, languor, and fervor. Of these the first is "melting," which is opposed to freezing. For things that are frozen, are closely bound together, so as to be hard to pierce. But it belongs to love that the appetite is fitted to receive the good which is loved, inasmuch as the object loved is in the lover, as stated above (Article 2). Consequently the freezing or hardening of the heart is a disposition incompatible with love: while melting denotes a softening of the heart, whereby the heart shows itself to be ready for the entrance of the beloved. If, then, the beloved is present and possessed, pleasure or enjoyment ensues. But if the beloved be absent, two passions arise; viz. sadness at its absence, which is denoted by "languor" (hence Cicero in De Tusc. Quaest. iii, 11 applies the term "ailment" chiefly to sadness); and an intense desire to possess the beloved, which is signified by "fervor." And these are the effects of love considered formally, according to the relation of the appetitive power to its object. But in the passion of love, other effects ensue, proportionate to the above, in respect of a change in the organ.


C.S. Lewis on Rewards

From The Weight of Glory:

"The proper rewards are not simply tacked on to the activity for which they are given, but are the activity itself in consummation."

Friday, June 6, 2008

Msgr. Krieg on the Beatitudes

Monsignor sayed that he likes to ponder God's delight in us; imagining God saying "Oh, aren't you great..." and reaching out His hand toward us.

He said that when you read the beatitudes you can hear God replacing "Blessed art thou" in each line with "Aren't you wonderful!"

Isn't that lovely?

Wisdom from Msgr. Gerry Krieg

On Wednesday night of this week my congregation was treated to the mind and heart of my priest's friend and mentor, Msgr. Gerry Krieg. I hope to become like him some day; that my whole being will be transformed by and into the love of Christ.

Here are some nuggets of his wisdom:
  • Jesus didn't come to be a healer, to start a religion. He came to be a human.
  • The Father's "let it be" results in creation. Jesus' "let it be" results in the cross.
  • The Father creates out of nothing. The Son creates out of messes.
  • The unity of Christians should be like the unity of the trinity; "may they be one as you and I are one."
  • If we strive to see Jesus in one another, our creative power will be that much greater. (I need to ask him to speak more about this...)
  • Msgr. once told my priest to stop referring to the Roman Catholic church as "Rome". He said, "It's Peter."
The good father prompts so many lines of thought...

Pascal on Happiness

From Pensees, #425:

"What is it, then, that this desire and this inability proclaim to us, but that there was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present? But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself."

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Aquinas Responds: Is Union an Effect of Love?

The union of lover and beloved is twofold. The first is real union; for instance, when the beloved is present with the lover. The second is union of affection: and this union must be considered in relation to the preceding apprehension; since movement of the appetite follows apprehension. Now love being twofold, viz. love of concupiscence and love of friendship; each of these arises from a kind of apprehension of the oneness of the thing loved with the lover. For when we love a thing, by desiring it, we apprehend it as belonging to our well-being. In like manner when a man loves another with the love of friendship, he wills good to him, just as he wills good to himself: wherefore he apprehends him as his other self, in so far, to wit, as he wills good to him as to himself. Hence a friend is called a man's "other self" (Ethic. ix, 4), and Augustine says (Confess. iv, 6), "Well did one say to his friend: Thou half of my soul."

The first of these unions is caused "effectively" by love; because love moves man to desire and seek the presence of the beloved, as of something suitable and belonging to him. The second union is caused "formally" by love; because love itself is this union or bond. In this sense Augustine says (De Trin. viii, 10) that "love is a vital principle uniting, or seeking to unite two together, the lover, to wit, and the beloved." For in describing it as "uniting" he refers to the union of affection, without which there is nolove: and in saying that "it seeks to unite," he refers to real union.


C.S. Lewis on Joy

From Surprized by Joy

"The very nature of Joy makes nonsense of our common distinction between having and wanting. There, to have is to want and to want is to have. Thus, the very moment when I longed to be so stabbed again [with Joy], was itself again such a stabbing."

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

St. Thomas Aquinas on Love

Amor Facit Ecstasans: Love produces ecstasy

Especially Beloved?

A friend recently talked about having an experience in which she realized that she was especially loved by God.

Particularly loved.

Very specially loved.

She followed this by saying, "As are we all."

I believe this to be true, and yet I also believe that some may be especially specially loved.

It's a bit of a paradox, like predestination. And I think that in both cases the answer lies in our response.

I thought about the parable of the wedding feast, when the invited guests would not come. But there are those who did come, those who do come, and those perhaps are the ones who enjoy more fully the banquet He has in store.

Perhaps some simply say yes more readily, more eagerly, to the proffered feast.

Like Mary.

I wonder if such a response opens a door to Him in a special way, allowing access to and experience of His love more intensely.

I pray to be like her. I want to experience all of you Lord.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sarah Mclachlan (and Donovan): Wear your Love Like Heaven (song lyrics)

Color in sky prussian blue
scarlet fleece changes hue
crimson ball sinks from view

Wear your love like heaven
Wear your love like heaven
Wear your love like heaven

Lord kiss me once more
fill me with song
kiss me once more
that I may,
that I may
wear my love like heaven
wear my love like heaven

Color sky havana lake
Color sky rose carmethene
Alizarian crimson

Wear your love like heaven
Wear your love like heaven
Wear your love like heaven

Lord kiss me once more
fill me with song
kiss me once more
that I may
that I may
wear my love like heaven
wear my love like heaven

Cannot believe what I see
all I have wished for will be
all of our race proud and free

Wear your love like heaven
Wear your love like heaven
Wear your love like heaven

Lord kiss me once more
fill me with song
kiss me once more
that I may,
that I may
wear my love like heaven
wear my love like heaven
wear my love like heaven

Job 11:15-17

For then shall you lift up your face without spot; yes, you shall be steadfast, and shall not fear: Because you shall forget your misery, and remember it as waters that pass away. Then your life shall be brighter than the noonday; its gloom shall become as the morning...

Pope Benedict from God is Love

"In the gradual unfolding of this encounter, it is clearly revealed that love is not merely a sentiment. Sentiments come and go. A sentiment can be a marvelous first spark, but it is not the fullness of love. Earlier we spoke of the process of purification and maturation by which eros comes fully into its own, becomes love in the full meaning of the word. It is characteristic of mature love that it calls into play all man's potentialities; it engages the whole man, so to speak. The love-story between God and man consists in the very fact that this communion of will increases in a communion of thought and sentiment, and thus our will and God's will increasingly coincide: God's will is no longer for me an alien will, something imposed on me from without by the commandments, but it is now my own will, based on the realization that God is in fact more deeply present to me than I am to myself. Then self- abandonment to God increases and God becomes our joy."

Monday, June 2, 2008

Luke 1:53

He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.

St. Augustine Commentary on Psalm 42

5. My soul is thirsty for the living God Psalm 41:2. What I am saying, that as the hart pants after the water-brooks, so longs my soul after You, O God, means this, My soul is thirsty for the living God. For what is it thirsty? When shall I come and appear before God? This it is for which I am thirsty, to come and to appear before Him. I am thirsty in my pilgrimage, in my running; I shall be filled on my arrival. But When shall I come? And this, which is soon in the sight of God, is late to our longing. When shall I come and appear before God? This too proceeds from that longing, of which in another place comes that cry, One thing have I desired of the Lord; that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. Wherefore so? That I may behold (he says) the beauty of the Lord. When shall I come and appear before the Lord?

Origen on the Wounding of Love (Song 2:5)

From Origen's Commentary on the Song of Songs:

"If there is ever anyone who at any time has burned with this faithful love for the Word of God; if there is anyone who, as the Prophet says, has received the sweet wound of him who is the "chosen dart"; if there is anyone who has been pierced with the lovable spear of his knowledge, so that he sighs and longs for him day and night, is able to speak of nothing else, wishes to hear of nothing else, can think of nothing else, and is not disposed to desire, seek, or hope for anything other than him; then such a soul truly says, "I have been wounded by love.""

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Chesterton on Mythology

"In a word, mythology is a search; it is something that combines a recurrent desire with a recurrent doubt, mixing a most hungry sincerity in the idea of seeking for a place with a most dark and deep and mysterious levity about all the places found."

Sarah McLachlan: Fumbling toward Ecstasy (song lyrics)

All the fear has left me now
I'm not frightened anymore
It's my heart that pounds beneath my flesh
It's my mouth that pushes out this breath

And if I shed a tear I won't cage it
I won't fear love
and if I feel a rage I won't deny it
I won't fear love

Companion to our demons
they will dance
and we will play
with chairs
and cloth
making darkness
in the day

It'll be easy
to look in or out
upstream or down
without a thought

And if I shed a tear I won't cage it
I won't fear love
and if I feel a rage I won't deny it
I won't fear love

in the struggle
to find peace

on the way
to comfort

And if I shed a tear I won't cage it
I won't fear love
and if I feel a rage I won't deny it
I won't fear love

I won't fear love

I won't fear love

St. Augustine on Containers of Desire for God

NOTE: These passages follow on to the May 8, 2008 quote, from the Tractates on the first letter of John by Saint Augustine.

So, my brethern, let us continue to desire, for we shall be filled. Take note of Saint Paul stretching as it were his ability to receive what is to come: Not that I have already obtained this, he said, or am made perfect. Brethern, I do not consider that I have already obtained it. We might ask him, “If you have not yet obtained it, what are you doing in this life?” This one thing I do, answers Paul, forgetting what lies behind, and stretching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the prize to which I am called in the life above. Not only did Paul say he stretched forward, but he also declared that he pressed on toward a chosen goal. He realized in fact that he was still short of receiving what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived.

Such is our Christian life. By desiring heaven we exercise the powers of our soul. Now this exercise will be effective only to the extent that we free ourselves from desires leading to infatuation with this world. Let me return to the example I have already used, of filling an empty container. God means to fill each of you with what is good; so cast out what is bad! If He wishes to fill you with honey and you are full of sour wine, where is the honey to go? The vessel must be emptied of its contents and then be cleansed. Yes, it must be cleansed even if you have to work hard and scour it. It must be made fit for the new thing, whatever it may be.

We may go on speaking figuratively of honey, gold or wine - but whatever we say we cannot express the reality we are to receive. The name of that reality is God. But who will claim that in that one syllable we utter the full expanse of our heart’s desire? Therefore, whatever we say is necessarily less than the full truth. We must extend ourselves toward the measure of Christ so that when He comes He may fill us with His presence. Then we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.