Sunday, August 30, 2009

C.S. Lewis on Joy (5)

From Shadowlands:

"The most intense joy is not in the having, but in the desire. Delight that never fades, bliss that is eternal, is only yours when what you most desire is out of reach."

--C.S. Lewis

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Miraculous faith

I recently read Mark's account of the last supper, in which Jesus speaks of one who would betray Him.

My mind wandered from there to the institution of the Eucharist, and how terribly scandalized the disciples must have been. Here was this man who knew the scriptures well enough to correct the Pharisees and teach in the temple, speaking of things which went directly against the law of Moses. To talk about drinking blood would have been shocking and revolting to this group which was raised to keep kosher.

Blood was -not- to be consumed.

I've thought about this aspect of the event before, but this morning realized that they had another reason to be shocked: Jesus said these things within the context of what was a well established and beloved family liturgy. Prayers over bread and cup were/are a standard part of the passover meal.

Jesus had the audacity to actually change prayers which had been prayed for generations, and to tell them to drink His blood.

It is a miracle that any of the disciples remained.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Heaven itself

"Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend."


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Plutarch on the mind

"The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled."


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day 29: knowledge of evil

Back to the garden I go...

I was thinking about the snake telling Eve that the tree would make her like God, knowing good and evil.

I thought about the word know, and the "biblical" use of the term as sexual union. I think that original sin came about because Eve -knew- evil. It became part of our spiritual DNA through her having come to -know- it.

It was the first act of covenantal infidelity which the Jews imitated throughout the OT history, and which we continue to perpetuate even now.

I'm beginning to think that all of Christianity centers around sexual union in one way or other.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 28: return to nakedness

I was looking at Genesis again over the weekend, this time at the story of the fall. The passage regarding covering the nakedness of Adam and Eve caught my attention. I thought about what it must have been like before the leather garments which God crafted for them.

It reminded me of how God strips away my clothing as I walk through the waterfall, so that I come to Him naked.

Francis de Sales, my patron saint, coached his protege Jeanne de Chantal about being naked before Him.

I think that in the fulfillment of time we will cast off all barriers to each other and to Him, returning to the nakedness of the garden, gloriously resurrected and unashamed.

Shakespeare on violent delights

These violent delights have violent ends
and in their triumph die,
like fire and powder, which,
as they kiss, consume.

--Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene VI

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Day 27: the flavor of His love

Yesterday I was blessed by the opportunity to do my devotionals in the sanctuary, before Him. I tried hard to listen rather than just talk talk talking.

Not an easy task.

I went to Him through the waterfall, and He did indeed reveal something.

He told me that His love is a love which can only be satisfied by consumation.

On writing

"Writing is the shaping of letters to represent spoken words which, in turn, represent what is in the soul."

--The Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day 26: Truth and Beauty

I've been thinking about the inextricable connection between truth and beauty, and what that means for ecclesial communions (aka churches and church denominations).

It's sort of an if A=B and B=C then A=C concept, though I'm sure many would argue against the overt simplicity of my premise.

Given that Christ = truth, and that beauty and truth cannot really be separated, therefore Christ = beauty, then what does that mean for forms of worship? I think that the more beauty there is, the more Christ must be there.

Peter Kreeft talks about tragic stories being more beautiful than comedies, and Christianity is founded on an initial, tragic series of events. It is beautiful in part due to the tragedy.

Those churches which continue to honor and remember the tragedy through liturgy, re-present the beauty, and continue it.

Anamnesis = re-presenting Christ's death = truth = beauty.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Day 25: more on the Big Bang

I was thinking more about God's action at the creation of time, and how it mirrors man's procreative process. I thought particularly about what precedes the eventual climax when our sexuality is rightly ordered and consecrated.

In rightly ordered sexuality, we come together covenantially in love. Throughout the act of lovemaking, there is an intensification of that love, and of passion, pleasure, and joy, which eventually culminates in a great unleashing of force.

Given that we are made in His image and likeness, I imagine such a buildup within Him as He prepared to create all of creation. I imagine His love and passion and pleasure and joy reaching such a fever pitch that it exploded, creating matter and energy and light and time and space.

And eventually, making man.

All of this taking place within a covenant of love.

No wonder the evil one works so hard at corrupting sexuality. It is the very power of God.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Picasso on computers

Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.

--Pablo Picasso

Pangs of lost love

From The Alchemy of Imagination and Love in Owen Barfield's The Rose on the Ash-Heap:

"He also learns about 'lost love and the pangs it induces in human hearts', and how, through experiencing romantic love, one can be enabled 'not merely to compose the most delightful and piercing-sweet songs, but actually to make many important discoveries concerning the secret workings of Nature--discoveries which he would never have been impelled to make at all, but for the loving interest which the loss of his Lady' awakens in the bereaved lover."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Where'd you go?

Where'd you go?
I miss you so,
Seems like it's been forever,
That you've been gone.

Please come back home...

--Fort Minor

Day 23: Bang indeed

I had a conversation yesterday about the compatibility of Christianity and evolution, and how well the big bang theory aligns with the Biblical narrative.

Can you imagine the results of God saying "Let there be light"? How could it be anything other than cataclysmically explosive?

Bang indeed.

I contemplated this again during my devotional time this morning, and thought about how very masculine our God is. The way He begins life among us now is not so very different from the way He began the life of the universes. The Big Bang was essentially a cosmic, life giving, mind-blowing orgasm.

It's one more reason that sexuality is sacred. In each act of procreation (or potential procreation), God's creative power and force culminates in a grand climax, mirroring that first explosion.

All of creation are fractals reflecting His very being.

Bang indeed.


A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunitic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell.

-- C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 22: Rose on the ash heap

Yesterday my BP pointed me at Owen Barfield's reflections on the Christian imagination, and thank goodness he did. I've been gradually losing myself over the past weeks, and reading a few papers on this subject brought me back to who I am.

Thank God for him. I needed rescue.

One of Barfield's fictional pieces is called The Rose on the Ash-Heap. Here is a segment from that piece which I found compelling:

"'...among the sooty weeds struggling up out of the refuse on the Ash-Heap', a garden Rose is growing. Like imagination and love in the modern world, this Rose was 'a sad and spindly-looking object with one dull red knob at the top, yet there was some magic in the twilight which attracted Sultan's attention to it. It was now nearly dark, and many stars had already appeared in the sky. Sultan looked at the flower again. Yes, it was glowing! It seemed to be giving forth a light of its own into the dusk!... And at last Sultan realized that it was not merely glowing but also singing to him. It was singing something like this:

Earth despairs not, though her Spark
Underground is gone--
Roses whisper after dark
Secrets of the Sun.

That got me thinking about how Seal's song Kissed by a Rose echoes this theme. Probably disconnected, but perhaps not.

Either way, it got me to try something new; I bought my first iTunes song, despite having had an iPod for several years.

And it rescued me from the doldrums in which I'd been wallowing.

Mocking trifles

Our misery is that we thirst so little for these sublime things, and so much for the mocking trifles of time and space.

-- Charles H. Spurgeon

Monday, August 17, 2009

Day 21: Wasn't Lent enough?

Wasn't Advent enough? Wasn't Lent enough? Do I truly need another season of darkness, this one worse than the other two combined?

The answer, of course, is that I must indeed need it. And intellectually I accept, and I pray that it is efficacious.

But it doesn't feel like it.

No, not at all.

Prophecy by Bananarama...

It's a cruel, cruel summer.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

St. Faustina on Temptation

I've been trying to find a quote from St. Faustina on temptation, but haven't had any luck, so I'll have to paraphrase it here.

Temptation gives us a chance to demonstrate our obedience to God.

I like this concept. Instead of saying "no" to something, we are saying "yes" to SomeOne.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Day 15: The lure of Twilight

I finished reading the first of the Twilight books, which I've been intending to get to for some months. I wanted to see what all the buzz was about; I like to understand sweeping cultural phenomena. Dan Brown's DaVinci Code also fell into this camp, though I have to say that Stephanie Meyer is a better writer than Mr. Brown. Her heroes are empathetic and likeable, and while the story contains a bit of action/adventure, it doesn't rest on action alone.

All that on the plus side.

I can see why tween and teen girls go ga-ga over it. Edward is a beautiful bad boy who is saved from his own darkness by the love of a good woman (er, girl). It is outrageously, unapologetically romantic. I'm guessing that if the Harlequin Romance crowd discovers it there could be a whole new wave of fans.

While we aren't talking Romeo and Juliet quality, the love and desire and control and sacrifice portrayed reflect what is in fact true and beautiful. Our feminine hearts cry out for this kind of love, for a hero who will deny himself and save us from the threats of the world. And while I don't know how many guys read it, it is in some ways a good model for young men, demonstrating heroic virtue and self denial.

Interesting stuff. And I think for once it might not be a horrible cultural influence unlike much of what our young people receive.

As for me? I found myself alternating between being Bella and being Edward. Between lightness and dark, between darkness and light. Temptation and desire, restraint and self indulgence.

I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Day 14: Who am I?

This weekend I spent a bit of time behind the waterfall and thinking about who the core me is. The true and beautiful core that God wants to whittle me down to.

(Great grammar, eh?)

He showed me a few traits, and I'm going to begin compiling a list. Given that it will only include good traits I'm afraid it will read like vanity, so I'm not going to make it public.

I'm doing it to help me focus on strengthening these characteristics. Or more accurately, to help me get better at stripping away everything that obscures them.

And the core, of course, is love. He made me to be a lover.

So I am working on being a better lover.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day 13: Synchronicity

Yesterday's sermon centered around the spiritual gifts, and God's plan in giving each of us specific gifts according to His purpose. He used the analogy of us all being different types of fruit trees, and more specifically, comparing apples to peaches.

Yes; he centered on the peach tree.

Though it wasn't his main focus, the deacon connected with my own meditations of becoming fully ourselves.

I love the way He interweaves things.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Day 12: Yawning hunger

I wonder how the words "yawning" and "hunger" ended up going together.

It doesn't make sense, but at the same time the phrase "yawning hunger" feels so right.

It implies a vastness, a stretching achiness that fits a certain state of being. The one I'm in now, for example.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Day 11: more on peaches

I woke with peaches on the brain again.

This time I thought about how the fullness of a fruit's existence isn't realized unless it is consumed. If it sits on the tree until it falls off and then withers and rots, God will make use of it by providing food for creatures, fertilizing the soil, and maybe even growing a new tree. But for the true magnificence of a peach to be realized, it must be eaten by a human, who can not only comprehend the beauty of its deliciousness, but can also wonder at its creation.

That made me think about what this means for us, which led me to CS Lewis' quote:

" is in the lover that the beloved tastes her own delightfulness."

For our true magnificence to be realized, we also must be consumed. We must share the abundant fruitfulness of our being, even to the point of complete ravishment.

Perhaps utter ravishment should in fact be our goal.

So... my tasks are to identify what parts of me are delicious, to work on building up those parts, and then to be generous even to the point of pain in sharing them.

Sounds simple enough.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Day 10: the perfect peach

I woke thinking of peaches this morning. Not sure why, except that I ate one last night. It was very good, but the color and texture on one side was just a bit off. Not nastily so, but enough.

In my peachy waking I thought again about our becoming more intensely ourselves in the fulfillment of time, as I wrote of here. When the banished world returns to the garden of Eden and we dance there, partaking of the fruit of all the trees growing on the banks of the river of life, what will that fruit be like?

Will a peach lose it's peachy essence at the end, becoming some sort of washed out spiritual form? Is that the type of meal Yeshua himself plans to eat with us in paradise?

It seems unlikely.

The peaches there must be intensely, purely, and perfectly peachy. Without blemish. Firm of flesh and juicy beyond belief. Inhaling their perfume alone must be nearly orgasmic.

And if the fruit of the trees and vines are to reach perfection of their very selves, becoming a distillation and concentration of their very beings, how could we do less?

Do we become spirit which simply reflects the shape of Yeshua, having lost our "us-ness"?

It seems unlikely.

I wonder what distillation of Eva will be like? What aspects of me will intensify, and which will burn away? Which parts are the real me, the essence of me, the true and the beautiful and the delicious?

Gives me something to think about, and to start working on now...

St. Augustine on the desire of the heart

Yet there is another, interior kind of prayer without ceasing, namely the desire of the heart. Whatever else you may be doing, if you but fix your desire on God's sabbath rest, your prayer will be ceaseless. Therefore, if you wish to pray without ceasing, do not cease to desire. The constancy of your desire will itself be the ceaseless voice of your prayer. And that voice of your prayer will be silent only when your love ceases. For who are silent if not those of whom it is said: Because evil has abounded, the love of many will grow cold?

The chilling of love means that the heart is silent. If your love is without ceasing, you are always crying out; if you are always crying out, you are always desiring; and if you desire, you are calling to mind your eternal rest in the Lord.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Day 8 take 2: fully ourselves

I had the honor of counseling someone in prayer this morning, a sweet spirit who's humility is deep and painful. My heart continues to ache for her this afternoon, and for a few other friends who's crosses are difficult.

We talked about Paul's apparent abhorrence of and battle with the flesh, and about my BP's teaching on our being made in the image and likeness of God; the imago Dei. He taught us that the Christian journey is to become more and more who God made us to be. The more we transform ourselves into His image, the more truly ourselves we become.

In the fullness of time we will walk in resurrected bodies, finally and at last fully ourselves. His plan for completion is not that we disappear, but that we transform.

And so it is not that we become less ourselves, but more ourselves. When we are most like Him, we are most fully us.

It is not that we either become like Jesus, or remain like ourselves. The two become one.

And I think that when I have this discussion with Paul, he will agree with me.

(Click here to read more on this in a later post...)

Day 8: So much for commitment

Given that I do not have my friend Pranayama mama's gifts, I've decided to rescind my promise to self re. posting thoughts daily unless they make worthwhile reading. I'm still committed to actually having a thought or two, I've simply changed my mind about inflicting them on you.

Today I actually have something to pass along.

Last week I wrote about hashing through Matthew 14:22-36 with a dear friend. This same friend comes to my Tuesday woman's group in which we eat breakfast, discuss the gospel reading for the day, and pray for eachother. Here's how generous God is:

Today's reading was this exact passage.

It is amazing how attentively God watches and interacts with us, and that He would ordain things in just such a way. He likes to show us that He is paying attention.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Day 6: Father relationships

A central theme of prayer after this morning's mass was father relationships. All three people that my team prayed brought issues related to fathers and fathering. Within these three were all sorts of variations; prayer for a father who is dying and angry, prayer for a father who struggles to provide for his family, prayer for a father who is wracked with guilt about the damage of divorce, prayer for a father who accidentally shot and killed his son while hunting, prayer for a father who must hand over his foster daughter to her birth dad.

Prayer to our Father, for our fathers.

And I lift my prayers also for our priestly fathers.

Lord, strengthen them all. Raise them up into strength and holiness. Make us women worthy of aiding in their formation. Guard and guide and protect them.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Day 5: It's hard to hear Him while rushing

No news flash this: it's hard to hear God while rushing around in the busyness of life.

Slept in today (ah bliss!) and then drove to visit my Mom for the afternoon.

I increasingly love to drive longish distances for the chance it provides to gaze at the world and think, though my thoughts didn't go very deep either to or fro. No great mystery of life solved.

Thought more about the Matthew passage in which Peter walks on water, and suspect that it might have been intended to connect with OT water miracles such as the parting of the Red Sea and the Jordan. Interesting that instead of parting the waters for Peter, He gave him power directly over them.

I still need to dig more deeply into this passage and see what Matthew was trying to tell the Jews about who Peter was.