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.


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.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Background Music

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.

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 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.

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)


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."