Friday, February 24, 2012

Get the Facts

Get the word out!

Orthodoxy and Civil Liberties

All orthodox Christians need to keep this issue front and central throughout this election year; it is more than a "Catholic" issue –– it affects any person of faith and it strikes at the heart of civil liberties....

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Christian Morality and Marriage

What is there in this that the broader culture cannot understand?  I do not expect all to AGREE with it (for not everyone has the Faith that was committed once for all to the Church), but it should be obvious that the obstinacy perpetuated by the media is rooted ultimately in spiritual warfare.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Making Room for God

Today's Office of Reading from St Augustine....  I have put some text in bold that I found personally meaningful:

From the Tractates on the first letter of John by Saint Augustine, bishop

Our heart longs for God 

We have been promised that we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. By these words, the tongue has done its best; now we must apply the meditation of the heart. Although they are the words of Saint John, what are they in comparison with the divine reality? And how can we, so greatly inferior to John in merit, add anything of our own? Yet we have received, as John has told us, an anointing by the Holy One which teaches us inwardly more than our tongue can speak. Let us turn to this source of knowledge, and because at present you cannot see, make it your business to desire the divine vision. 

The entire life of a good Christian is in fact an exercise of holy desire. You do not yet see what you long for, but the very act of desiring prepares you, so that when he comes you may see and be utterly satisfied.

Suppose you are going to fill some holder or container, and you know you will be given a large amount. Then you set about stretching your sack or wineskin or whatever it is. Why? Because you know the quantity you will have to put in it and your eyes tell you there is not enough room. By stretching it, therefore, you increase the capacity of the sack, and this is how God deals with us. Simply by making us wait he increases our desire, which in turn enlarges the capacity of our soul, making it able to receive what is to be given to us.

 So, my brethren, 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. Brethren, 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 realised 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.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Words from Saint Ambrose

(An excerpt from today's Office of Reading....  I've lifted the parts that spoke most to me today.)

God’s word is uttered by those who repeat Christ’s teaching and meditate on his sayings. Let us always speak this word. When we speak about wisdom, we are speaking of Christ. When we speak about justice, we are speaking of Christ. When we speak about peace, we are speaking of Christ. When we speak about truth and life and redemption, we are speaking of Christ.

Open your lips, says Scripture, and let God’s word be heard. It is for you to open, it is for him to be heard.... Meditate, then, at all times on the things of God, and speak the things of God....  (From the Explanations of the Psalms by Saint Ambrose, bishop, Ps 36, 65-66: CSEL 64, 123-125)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Fresh Call to Spiritual Warfare

This is just too important.... this is like science-fiction, but (let's call it for what it is) it is a direct confrontation with the anti-christ spirit of which St Paul and St John warned....

Monday, February 13, 2012

Practical advice from Newman

Another great little piece from my readings....

Obedience to God's commandments, which implies knowledge of sin and holiness, and the desire and endeavor to please him, this is the only practical interpreter of Scripture doctrine. Without self-knowledge you have no root in yourselves personally; you may endure for a time but under affliction or persecution your faith will not last. This is why many in this age (and in every age) become infidels, heretics, schismatics, disloyal despisers of the Church. They cast off the form of truth, because it has never been to them more than form. They endure not, because they never have tasted that the Lord is gracious; and they never have had experience of his power and love, because they have never known their own weakness and need (Blessed John Henry Newman).

It seems to me that the opening thought does not get adequate emphasis in contemporary Christianity: Obedience to God's commandments.... is the only practical interpreter of Scripture doctrine.

And where do we hear much today about "infidels, heretics, schismatics, disloyal despisers of the Church"?  We live in the midst of great seduction....

Wisdom from St Bernard

I grew up seeing St Bernard's name associated with the beautiful hymn Jesus, The Very Thought of Thee.  For years it never occurred to me to consider the Catholicity of his spirituality, but when The Liturgy of the Hours entered my life I discovered the many historic voices within the heart of Catholicism.  Here are good words from St Bernard taken from today's Office of Readings:

Christ tells us: The field is the world. Let us work in it and dig up wisdom, its hidden treasure, a treasure we all look for and want to obtain.  If you are looking for it, really look. Be converted and come....

If you have found wisdom, you have found honey. But do not eat so much that you become too full and bring it all up. Eat so that you are always hungry. Wisdom says: Those who eat me continue to hunger. Do not think you have too much of it, but do not eat too much or you will throw it up.....

.....There are three ways for wisdom or prudence to abound in you: if you confess your sins, if you give thanks and praise, and if your speech is edifying. Man believes with his heart and so he is justified. He confesses with his lips and so he is saved. In the beginning of his speech the just man is his own accuser, next he gives glory to God, and thirdly, if his wisdom extends that far, he edifies his neighbor.  (
From a sermon by Saint Bernard, abbot; Sermo de diversis 15: PL 183, 577-579).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

God’s word is inexhaustible

St Ephrem is one of my patrons.... great advice from today's Office of Readings

From a commentary on the Diatessaron by Saint Ephrem, deacon
(1, 18-19: SC 121, 52-53)

God’s word is an inexhaustible spring of life

Lord, who can comprehend even one of your words? We lose more of it than we grasp, like those who drink from a living spring. For God’s word offers different facets according to the capacity of the listener, and the Lord has portrayed his message in many colors, so that whoever gazes upon it can see in it what suits him. Within it he has buried manifold treasures, so that each of us might grow rich in seeking them out.

The word of God is a tree of life that offers us blessed fruit from each of its branches. It is like that rock which was struck open in the wilderness, from which all were offered spiritual drink. As the Apostle says: They ate spiritual food and they drank spiritual drink.

And so whenever anyone discovers some part of the treasure, he should not think that he has exhausted God’s word. Instead he should feel that this is all that he was able to find of the wealth contained in it. Nor should he say that the word is weak and sterile or look down on it simply because this portion was all that he happened to find. But precisely because he could not capture it all he should give thanks for its riches.

Be glad then that you are overwhelmed, and do not be saddened because he has overcome you. A thirsty man is happy when he is drinking, and he is not depressed because he cannot exhaust the spring. So let this spring quench your thirst, and not your thirst the spring. For if you can satisfy your thirst without exhausting the spring, then when you thirst again you can drink from it once more; but if when your thirst is sated the spring is also dried up, then your victory would turn to your own harm.

Be thankful then for what you have received, and do not be saddened at all that such an abundance still remains. What you have received and attained is your present share, while what is left will be your heritage. For what you could not take at one time because of your weakness, you will be able to grasp at another if you only persevere. So do not foolishly try to drain in one draught what cannot be consumed all at once, and do not cease out of faintheartedness from what you will be able to absorb as time goes on.

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