Late Have I Loved You

Today is the memorial of St Augustine. I hope you go to Divineoffice.org and hear this read to you. It is a treat to the soul:

From the Confessions of Saint Augustine, bishop

O eternal truth, true love and beloved eternity

Urged to reflect upon myself, I entered under your guidance into the inmost depth of my soul. I was able to do so because you were my helper. On entering into myself I saw, as it were with the eye of the soul, what was beyond the eye of the soul, beyond my spirit: your immutable light. It was not the ordinary light perceptible to all flesh, nor was it merely something of greater magnitude but still essentially akin, shining more clearly and diffusing itself everywhere by its intensity. No, it was something entirely distinct, something altogether different from all these things; and it did not rest above my mind as oil on the surface of water, nor was it above me as heaven is above the earth. This light was above me because it had made me; I was below it because I was created by it. He who has come to know the truth knows this light.

O Eternal truth, true love and beloved eternity. You are my God. To you do I sigh day and night. When I first came to know you, you drew me to yourself so that I might see that there were things for me to see, but that I myself was not yet ready to see them. Meanwhile you overcame the weakness of my vision, sending forth most strongly the beams of your light, and I trembled at once with love and dread. I learned that I was in a region unlike yours and far distant from you, and I thought I heard your voice from on high: “I am the food of grown men; grow then, and you will feed on me. Nor will you change me into yourself like bodily food, but you will be changed into me.”

I sought a way to gain the strength which I needed to enjoy you.
But I did not find it until I embraced the mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who is above all, God blessed for ever. He was calling me and saying: I am the way of truth, I am the life. He was offering the food which I lacked the strength to take, the food he had mingled with our flesh. For the Word became flesh, that your wisdom, by which you created all things, might provide milk for us children.

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

From a sermon by Saint Bernard, abbot
I love because I love, I love that I may love

Love is sufficient of itself, it gives pleasure by itself and because of itself. It is its own merit, its own reward. Love looks for no cause outside itself, no effect beyond itself. Its profit lies in its practice. I love because I love, I love that I may love. Love is a great thing so long as it continually returns to its fountainhead, flows back to its source, always drawing from there the water which constantly replenishes it. Of all the movements, sensations and feelings of the soul, love is the only one in which the creature can respond to the Creator and make some sort of similar return however unequal though it be. For when God loves, all he desires is to be loved in return; the sole purpose of his love is to be loved, in the knowledge that those who love him are made happy by their love of him.

The Bridegroom’s love, or rather the love which is the Bridegroom, asks in return nothing but faithful love. Let the beloved, then, love in return. Should not a bride love, and above all, Love’s bride? Could it be that Love not be loved?

Rightly then does she give up all other feelings and give herself wholly to love alone; in giving love back, all she can do is to respond to love. And when she has poured out her whole being in love, what is that in comparison with the unceasing torrent of that original source? Clearly, lover and Love, soul and Word, bride and Bridegroom, creature and Creator do not flow with the same volume; one might as well equate a thirsty man with the fountain.

What then of the bride’s hope, her aching desire, her passionate love, her confident assurance? Is all this to wilt just because she cannot match stride for stride with her giant, any more than she can vie with honey for sweetness, rival the lamb for gentleness, show herself as white as the lily, burn as bright as the sun, be equal in love with him who is Love? No. It is true that the creature loves less because she is less. But if she loves with her whole being, nothing is lacking where everything is given. To love so ardently then is to share the marriage bond; she cannot love so much and not be totally loved, and it is in the perfect union of two hearts that complete and total marriage consists. Or are we to doubt that the soul is loved by the Word first and with a greater love?

The Assumption of Mary

From the apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus by Pope Pius XII
Your body is holy and excelling in splendor

In their homilies and sermons on this feast the holy fathers and great doctors spoke of the assumption of the Mother of God as something already familiar and accepted by the faithful. They gave it greater clarity in their preaching and used more profound arguments in setting out its nature and meaning. Above all, they brought out more clearly the fact that what is commemorated in this feast is not simply the total absence of corruption from the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary but also her triumph over death and her glorification in heaven, after the pattern set by her only Son, Jesus Christ.

Thus Saint John Damascene, preeminent as the great preacher of this truth of tradition, speaks with powerful eloquence when he relates the bodily assumption of the loving Mother of God to her other gifts and privileges: “It was necessary that she who had preserved her virginity inviolate in childbirth should also have her body kept free from all corruption after death. It was necessary that she who had carried the Creator as a child on her breast should dwell in the tabernacles of God. It was necessary that the bride espoused by the Father should make her home in the bridal chambers of heaven. It was necessary that she, who had gazed on her crucified Son and been pierced in the heart by the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in giving him birth, should contemplate him seated with the Father. It was necessary that the Mother of God should share the possessions of her Son, and be venerated by every creature as the Mother and handmaid of God.”

Saint Germanus of Constantinople considered that it was in keeping not only with her divine motherhood but also with the unique sanctity of her virginal body that it was incorrupt and carried up to heaven: “In the words of Scripture, you appear in beauty. Your virginal body is entirely holy, entirely chaste, entirely the house of God, so that for this reason also it is henceforth a stranger to decay: a body changed, because a human body, to a preeminent life of incorruptibility, but still a living body, excelling in splendor, a body inviolate and sharing in the perfection of life.”

Another early author declares: “Therefore, as the most glorious Mother of Christ, our God and Savior, giver of life and immortality, she is enlivened by him to share an eternal incorruptibility of body with him who raised her from the tomb and took her up to himself in a way he alone can tell.”

All these reasonings and considerations of the holy Fathers rest on Scripture as their ultimate foundation. Scripture portrays the loving Mother of God, almost before our very eyes, as most intimately united with her divine Son and always sharing in his destiny.

Above all, it must be noted that from the second century the holy Fathers present the Virgin Mary as the new Eve, most closely associated with the new Adam, though subject to him in the struggle against the enemy from the nether world. This struggle, as the first promise of a redeemer implies, was to end in perfect victory over sin and death, always linked together in the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles. Therefore, just as the glorious resurrection of Christ was an essential part of this victory and its final trophy, so the struggle shared by the Blessed Virgin and her Son was to end in glorification of her virginal body. As the same Apostle says: When this mortal body has clothed itself in immortality, then will be fulfilled the word of Scripture: Death is swallowed up in victory.

Hence, the august Mother of God, mysteriously united from all eternity with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination, immaculate in her conception, a virgin inviolate in her divine motherhood, the wholehearted companion of the divine Redeemer who won complete victory over sin and its consequences, gained at last the supreme crown of her privileges—to be preserved immune from the corruption of the tomb, and, like her Son, when death had been conquered, to be carried up body and soul to the exalted glory of heaven, there to sit in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the ages.

The Salvation and Sanctification of Souls

From the Letters of Maximilian Mary Kolbe

Apostolic zeal for the salvation and sanctification of souls

The burning zeal for God’s glory that motivates you fills my heart with joy. It is sad for us to see in our own time that indifferentism in its many forms is spreading like an epidemic not only among the laity but also among religious. But God is worthy of glory beyond measure, and therefore it is of absolute and supreme importance to seek that glory with all the power of our feeble resources. Since we are mere creatures we can never return to him all that is his due. The most resplendent manifestation of God’s glory is the salvation of souls, whom Christ redeemed by shedding his blood. To work for the salvation and sanctification of as many souls as possible, therefore, is the preeminent purpose of the apostolic life. Let me, then, say a few words that may show the way toward achieving God’s glory and the sanctification of many souls.

God, who is all-knowing and all-wise, knows best what we should do to increase his glory. Through his representatives on earth he continually reveals his will to us; thus it is obedience and obedience alone that is the sure sign to us of the divine will. A superior may, it is true, make a mistake; but it is impossible for us to be mistaken in obeying a superior’s command. The only exception to this rule is the case of a superior commanding something that in even the slightest way would contravene God’s law. Such a superior would not be conveying God’s will.

God alone is infinitely wise, holy, merciful, our Lord, Creator, and Father; he is beginning and end, wisdom and power and love; he is all. Everything other than God has value to the degree that it is referred to him, the maker of all and our own redeemer, the final end of all things. It is he who, declaring his adorable will to us through his representatives on earth, draws us to himself and whose plan is to draw others to himself through us and to join us all to himself in an ever deepening love.

Look, then, at the high dignity that by God’s mercy belongs to our state in life. Obedience raises us beyond the limits of our littleness and puts us in harmony with God’s will. In boundless wisdom and care, his will guides us to act rightly. Holding fast to that will, which no creature can thwart, we are filled with unsurpassable strength.

Obedience is the one and the only way of wisdom and prudence for us to offer glory to God. If there were another, Christ would certainly have shown it to us by word and example. Scripture, however, summed up his entire life at Nazareth in the words: He was subject to them; Scripture set obedience as the theme of the rest of his life, repeatedly declaring that he came into the world to do his Father’s will. Let us love our loving Father with all our hearts. Let our obedience increase that love, above all when it requires us to surrender our own will. Jesus Christ crucified is our sublime guide toward growth in God’s love.

We will learn this lesson more quickly through the Immaculate Virgin, whom God has made the dispenser of his mercy. It is beyond all doubt that Mary’s will represents to us the will of God himself. By dedicating ourselves to her we become in her hands instruments of God’s mercy even as she was such an instrument in God’s hands. We should let ourselves be guided and led by Mary and rest quiet and secure in her hands. She will watch out for us, provide for us, answer our needs of body and spirit; she will dissolve all our difficulties and worries.

The Lord’s Command to Baptize

From the treatise On the Trinity by Saint Hilary, bishop

The Father’s gift in Christ

Our Lord commanded us to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In baptism, then, we profess faith in the Creator, in the only-begotten Son and in the gift which is the Spirit. There is one Creator of all things, for in God there is one Father from whom all things have their being. And there is one only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things exist. And there is one Spirit, the gift who is in all. So all follow their due order, according to the proper operation of each: one power, which brings all things into being, one Son, through whom all things come to be, and one gift of perfect hope. Nothing is wanting to this flawless union: in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there is infinity of endless being, perfect reflection of the divine image, and mutual enjoyment of the gift.

Our Lord has described the purpose of the Spirit’s presence in us. Let us listen to his words: I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. It is to your advantage that I go away; if I go, I will send you the Advocate. And also: I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counselor to be with you for ever, the Spirit of truth. He will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine.

From among many of our Lord’s sayings, these have been chosen to guide our understanding, for they reveal to us the intention of the giver, the nature of the gift and the condition for its reception. Since our weak minds cannot comprehend the Father or the Son, we have been given the Holy Spirit as our intermediary and advocate, to shed light on that hard doctrine of our faith, the incarnation of God.

We receive the Spirit of truth so that we can know the things of God. In order to grasp this, consider how useless the faculties of the human body would become if they were denied their exercise. Our eyes cannot fulfill their task without light, either natural or artificial; our ears cannot react without sound vibrations, and in the absence of any odor our nostrils are ignorant of their function. Not that these senses would lose their own nature if they were not used; rather, they demand objects of experience in order to function. It is the same with the human soul. Unless it absorbs the gift of the Spirit through faith, the mind has the ability to know God but lacks the light necessary for that knowledge.

This unique gift which is in Christ is offered in its fullness to everyone. It is everywhere available, but it is given to each man in proportion to his readiness to receive it. Its presence is the fuller, the greater a man’s desire to be worthy of it. This gift will remain with us until the end of the world, and will be our comfort in the time of waiting. By the favors it bestows, it is the pledge of our hope for the future, the light of our minds, and the splendor that irradiates our understanding.

Hold Fast to God, the One True Good

From the treatise on Flight from the World by Saint Ambrose, bishop

Hold fast to God, the one true good

Where a man’s heart is, there is his treasure also. God is not accustomed to refusing a good gift to those who ask for one. Since he is good, and especially to those who are faithful to him, let us hold fast to him with all our soul, our heart, our strength, and so enjoy his light and see his glory and possess the grace of supernatural joy. Let us reach out with our hearts to possess that good, let us exist in it and live in it, let us hold fast to it, that good which is beyond all we can know or see and is marked by perpetual peace and tranquillity, a peace which is beyond all we can know or understand.

This is the good that permeates creation. In it we all live, on it we all depend. It has nothing above it; it is divine. No one is good but God alone. What is good is therefore divine, what is divine is therefore good. Scripture says: When you open your hand all things will be filled with goodness. It is through God’s goodness that all that is truly good is given us, and in it there is no admixture of evil.

These good things are promised by Scripture to those who are faithful: The good things of the land will be your food.

We have died with Christ. We carry about in our bodies the sign of his death, so that the living Christ may also be revealed in us. The life we live is not now our ordinary life but the life of Christ: a life of sinlessness, of chastity, of simplicity and every other virtue. We have risen with Christ. Let us live in Christ, let us ascend in Christ, so that the serpent may not have the power here below to wound us in the heel.

Let us take refuge from this world. You can do this in spirit, even if you are kept here in the body. You can at the same time be here and present to the Lord. Your soul must hold fast to him, you must follow after him in your thoughts, you must tread his ways by faith, not in outward show. You must take refuge in him. He is your refuge and your strength. David addresses him in these words: I fled to you for refuge, and I was not disappointed.

Since God is our refuge, God who is in heaven and above the heavens, we must take refuge from this world in that place where there is peace, where there is rest from toil, where we can celebrate the great sabbath, as Moses said: The sabbaths of the land will provide you with food. To rest in the Lord and to see his joy is like a banquet, and full of gladness and tranquillity.

Let us take refuge like deer beside the fountain of waters. Let our soul thirst, as David thirsted, for the fountain. What is that fountain? Listen to David: With you is the fountain of life. Let my soul say to this fountain: When shall I come and see you face to face? For the fountain is God himself.

The Preeminence of Charity

From a sermon by Blessed Isaac of Stella, abbot

Why, brothers, are we so little concerned to seek one another’s well-being, so that where we see a greater need, we might show a greater readiness to help and carry one another’s burdens? For this is what the blessed apostle Paul urges us to do in the words: Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ; and also: Support each other in charity. For this surely is the law of Christ.

Why can I not patiently bear the weaknesses I see in my brother which, either out of necessity or because of physical or moral weakness, cannot be corrected? And why can I not instead generously offer him consolation, as it is written: Their children shall be carried on their shoulders and consoled upon their knees? Is it because I lack that virtue which suffers all things, is patient enough to bear all, and generous enough to love?

This is indeed the law of Christ, who truly bore our weaknesses in his passion and carried our sorrows out of pity, loving those he carried and carrying those he loved. Whoever attacks a brother in need, or plots against him in his weakness of whatever sort, surely fulfills the devil’s law and subjects himself to it. Let us then be compassionate toward one another, loving all our brothers, bearing one another’s weaknesses, yet ridding ourselves of our sins.

The more any way of life sincerely strives for the love of God and the love of our neighbor for God’s sake, the more acceptable it is to God, no matter what be its observances or external form. For charity is the reason why anything should be done or left undone, changed or left unchanged; it is the initial principle and the end to which all things should be directed. Whatever is honestly done out of love and in accordance with love can never be blameworthy. May he then deign to grant us this love, for without it we cannot please him, and without him we can do absolutely nothing, God, who lives and reigns for ever. Amen.

Pray Along with the Church

Marvelous praying of today’s Divine Office: Office of Readings

More- everyday, throughout the day, at divineoffice.org

The Truth of the Lord Endures Forever

From the Imitation of Christ

The truth of the Lord endures for ever

You thunder your judgments upon me, O Lord; you shake all my bones with fear and dread, and my soul becomes severely frightened. I am bewildered when I realize that even the heavens are not pure in your sight.

If you discovered iniquity in the angels and did not spare them, what will become of me? The stars fell from heaven, and I, mere dust, what should I expect? Those whose works seemed praiseworthy fell to the depths, and I have seen those who once were fed with the bread of angels delighting in the husks of swine.

There is no holiness where you have withdrawn your hand, O Lord; no profitable wisdom if you cease to rule over it; no helpful strength if you cease to preserve it. For if you forsake us, we sink and perish; but if you visit us, we rise up and live again. We are unstable, but you make us firm; we grow cool, but you inflame us.

All superficial glory has been swallowed up in the depths of your judgment upon me.

What is all flesh in your sight? Can the clay be glorified in opposition to its Maker?

How can anyone be aroused by empty talk if his heart is subject in the truth to God?

The whole world cannot swell with pride the man who is subject to truth; nor will he be swayed by the flattery of all his admirers, if he has established all his trust in God.

For those who do all the talking amount to nothing; they fail with their din of words, but the truth of the Lord endures for ever.

Jesus Christ – Eternal Intercessor

From a commentary on the psalms by Saint Augustine, bishop

Jesus Christ prays for us and in us and is the object of our prayers

God could give no greater gift to men than to make his Word, through whom he created all things, their head and to join them to him as his members, so that the Word might be both Son of God and son of man, one God with the Father, and one man with all men. The result is that when we speak with God in prayer we do not separate the Son from him, and when the body of the Son prays it does not separate its head from itself: it is the one Saviour of his body, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who prays for us and in us and is himself the object of our prayers.
He prays for us as our priest, he prays in us as our head, he is the object of our prayers as our God.
Let us then recognise both our voice in his, and his voice in ours. When something is said, especially in prophecy, about the Lord Jesus Christ that seems to belong to a condition of lowliness unworthy of God, we must not hesitate to ascribe this condition to one who did not hesitate to unite himself with us. Every creature is his servant, for it was through him that every creature came to be.
We contemplate his glory and divinity when we listen to these words: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made. Here we gaze on the divinity of the Son of God, something supremely great and surpassing all the greatness of his creatures. Yet in other parts of Scripture we hear him as one sighing, praying, giving praise and thanks.
We hesitate to attribute these words to him because our minds are slow to come down to his humble level when we have just been contemplating him in his divinity. It is as though we were doing him an injustice in acknowledging in a man the words of one with whom we spoke when we prayed to God. We are usually at a loss and try to change the meaning. Yet our minds find nothing in Scripture that does not go back to him, nothing that will allow us to stray from him.
Our thoughts must then be awakened to keep their vigil of faith. We must realise that the one whom we were contemplating a short time before in his nature as God took to himself the nature of a servant; he was made in the likeness of men and found to be a man like others; he humbled himself by being obedient even to accepting death; as he hung on the cross he made the psalmist’s words his own: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
We pray to him as God, he prays for us as a servant. In the first case he is the Creator, in the second a creature. Himself unchanged, he took to himself our created nature in order to change it, and made us one man with himself, head and body. We pray then to him, through him, in him, and we speak along with him and he along with us.

Opening Hymn of Compline at Mr.Saviour Monastery

A Little Night Prayer

Divine Office – Liturgy of the Hours – Breviary – Free Audio – Bible – Prayer

Hot tip: I want you to check out this website. It’s beautifully and professionally done audio of the daily Divine Office. Today they include another audio site (podcast) with help from Fr. Roderick on praying the Divine Office, the prayer of the Church. Well worth a visit. Just go!

http://divineoffice.org/

Sent from my iPod

Holy Joy – Revisited

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength”

Nehemiah 8:10

Headlines got you down? Propagandizing press infuriating you? I’ll leave off questions of finance, lest you cry. “Good grief, Charlie Brown!” …(long pause……….).  Was Charles Schultz, actually, onto something? Good grief? Could there be such a thing?

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crops fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.” Habakkuk 3:17-19

Highly enigmatic, as I said in the previous post, and I really do believe the word of God  spoken through his prophet, Habakkuk. So, how do I get to faith from here?

For starters, I must recover my holy joy, not the jolly-jump-about-goin’-drinkin’- joy, but the joy that only the Lord can give. Here’s how it came to me today sometime after my posting. When I ride my bike for mental as well as physical health, I plug in my ear buds and head off with something sounding in my ears. Today, I had a choice, all of them were actually good. One, however, didn’t quite appeal because of my fightin’ mood, but I asked myself which of my choices had a likely hood of touching my soul. So, pugnaciousness aside,I chose Mediations from Carmel and rode off on my peace quest.

It worked! Or rather, God, the Holy Spirit, worked. The hard shell around my heart cracked when the word’s of St. Teresa of Avila struck a chord:

“One might understand the great good God does for a soul that willingly disposes itself for the practice of prayer, even though it is not as disposed as is necessary. If the soul perseveres in prayer, in the midst of the sins, temptations, and failures of a thousand kinds that the devil places in its path, in the end, I hold as certain, the Lord will draw it forth to the harbor of salvation”

And these words, too, hit home; addressed by St. Teresa to Son of the eternal Father,Jesus Christ our Lord,true King of the universe!

What did you leave behind in the world?

What could your inheritors receive from you?
What did  you possess, my God,
other than pain, sorrow and dishonour,
so that at the end
your only help lay
in the trunk of a tree
as you drank the bitter cup of death?
And so, my God,
if we truly seek to be your children by adoption
and not renounce your inheritance,
we must not flee from suffering.
The sign of your family
is your five wounds.

From the Office of Readings, “O God, the world had fallen flat in the dust but your Son’s humility stood it upright once more.”

Holy Joy Must Be Your Strength

Nehemiah 8:10     “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Highly enigmatic, I say, but I believe it.  So, I do my best to recover the joy that only the Lord can give….. again and again.

In the closing prayer of today’s Divine Office, I read:

O God, the world had fallen flat in the dust but your Son’s humility stood it upright once more.
Fill your faithful people with a holy joy:
take those whom you have torn away from slavery to sin
and make them rejoice eternally.


That Your Joy May Be Full!


Good Morning, Everyone!  This is a good day, even particularly in a troubled world, to praise the Lord.

As the day begins, this antiphon from today’s Office of Readings sounds in God’s ear, rising from the lips of those praying around the world.

“Lord, You know the burden of my sorrow.”

God’s response is, “Ask that you may receive and your joy will be full.”

Prayer:

“Rise up Lord in defense of Your people.  Do not hide Your Face from our

troubles.”


Pluggin' Away

Prayer in the wee small hours, at Adoration or on the go, what a blessing!  Listening and praying with a community at prayer, that’s what DivineOffice.org offers.  It’s a banquet that Lent allows, even encourages!  It is also good to remember that the Liturgy of the Hours is meant to be prayed aloud and in community.

Dane , the producer, offers free daily inspirational scriptures and prayers. His crew is talented and dedicated to bringing us Divine Office.  They are “promoting the tradition of praying always through these ancient treasures of the Church.”  This is not a blessing for Catholics only but for all Christians universally.

Lent is here.  “There are few better ways to improve your observance of this season then to pray the Liturgy of the Hours as often as your schedule allows,” according to Dane at  Divine Office.org.  He says, “Instead of laying something down for Lent, you may want to consider taking something up… a renewed and invigorated dedication to prayer.”

“We hope everyone will enjoy these free daily inspirational scriptures and prayers. Listening to psalms in the morning as you start your day or at the conclusion in the evening is a wonderful form of prayer.”Dane

Church Fathers and Lent

As celebrations for Mardi Gras are well underway, my thought is obvious.  For God’s sake and ours, there’s got to be a better way.  The Divine Office for today includes this from the Office of Readings:

“I thought to myself, ‘Very well, I will try pleasure and see what enjoyment has to offer.’ And there it was: vanity again! This laughter, I reflected, is a madness, this pleasure no use at all. I resolved to have my body cheered with wine, my heart still devoted to wisdom; I resolved to embrace folly to see what made mankind happy, and what men do under heaven in the few days they have to live.”

My reflections then turned to wisdom, stupidity, folly. For instance, what can the successor of a king do? What has been done already. More is to be had from wisdom than from folly, as from light than from darkness; this, of course, I see:”   Ecclesiastes 2:1-3
“The wise man sees ahead,
the fool walks in the dark.”   Ecclesiastes 2:14

The Church Fathers showed the Church the way though centuries of attack and heresy.  They speak loudly today as the world speaks heretically louder than ever.  Now the attacks on the Church and Truth are both more blatant and more subtle.  So ready, set, go!  Take on the liars for Lent!

For the “wise man”  looking forward to this time of new submission, here’s the ticket!

Compiled by Church Year. Net

Church Father Lenten Reading Plan Logo

2009 Date Day in Lenten Fast Lite Reading
2/25 1 Epistle to Diognetus: 1-6
2/26 2 Epistle to Diognetus: 7-12
2/27 3 St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter To the Ephesians: 1-7
2/28 4 St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter to the Ephesians: 8-14
3/2 5 St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter To the Ephesians: 15-21
3/3 6 St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter To the Magnesians: 1-5
3/4 7 St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter To the Magnesians: 6-10
3/5 8 St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter To the Magnesians: 11-15
3/6 9 St. Justin Martyr: First Apology: 1-7
3/7 10 St. Justin Martyr: First Apology: 8-14
3/9 11 St. Justin Martyr: First Apology: 15-21
3/10 12 St. Justin Martyr: First Apology: 22-29
3/11 13 St. Justin Martyr: First Apology: 30-37
3/12 14 St. Justin Martyr: First Apology: 38-45
3/13 15 St. Justin Martyr: First Apology: 46-53
3/14 16 St. Justin Martyr: First Apology: 54-60
3/16 17 St. Justin Martyr: First Apology: 61-68
3/17 18 St. Cyprian: On the Unity of the Church (Treatise I): 1-9
3/18 19 St. Cyprian: On the Unity of the Church (Treatise I): 10-18
3/19 20 St. Cyprian: On the Unity of the Church (Treatise I): 19-21
3/20 21 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 1-9
3/21 22 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 10-16
3/23 23 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 17-25
3/24 24 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 26-33
3/25 25 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 34-41
3/26 26 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 42-49
3/27 27 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 50-58
3/28 28 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 59-66
3/30 29 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 67-73
3/31 30 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 74-81
4/1 31 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 82-89
4/2 32 St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: 90-94
4/3 33 St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XX
4/4 34 St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XXII
4/6 35 St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XXIII (1-11)
4/7 36 St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XXIII (12-23)
4/8 37 St. Ambrose of Milan: Concerning the Mysteries: 1-4
4/9 38 St. Ambrose of Milan: Concerning the Mysteries: 5-9
4/10 39 St. Leo the Great: Sermon XLIX (On Lent XI): complete
4/11 40 St. Leo the Great: Sermon LXXII (On the Lord’s Resurrection): complete


Click on  compilation of Lenten readings.

Printer-Friendly Version of Outline: Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan PDF

There is also a heavy duty version of the plan:  Complete Version : Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan: With Texts


Divine Office, Divine!

For all  you, who pray the Divine Office  daily or are struggling in an attempt, you’ve got to check out DivineOffice.org.   They do an incredible job of presenting the Divine Office (Invitatory, Morning, Evening, and Night Prayer)  with beautiful music and a community of voices. I love the sense of community!

Your “Cloud of Witnesses” will have help cheering you on from this side of Heaven.  It’s a great way to begin the day and so blessed a way to end it.  Commuters, you’ll actually find this time beating back the devil.

Did I tell you it is FREE!

The really good news is you can download the podcasts and take them with you (FREE!!!!!!!!)

How Can I Keep from Singing?

DivineOffice.org started my day off singingly.  Their Morning Prayer includes a hymn that will probably be with me throughout today.

No storm can shake my inmost calm

While to that refuge clinging;

Since Christ is Lord of Heav’n and earth

How can I keep from singing?

Love Works Wonders!

Valentine’s Day with cards and roses is fast approaching.  They’ll be proclamations of love: undying love, puppy love, romantic love and”so called” love.  Here’s a charming story of real love from the Dialogue of Pope St. Gregory the Great:

Scholastica, the sister of Saint Benedict, had been consecrated to God from her earliest years. She was accustomed to visiting her brother once a year. He would come down to meet her at a place on the monastery property, not far outside the gate.
One day she came as usual and her saintly brother went with some of his disciples; they spent the whole day praising God and talking of sacred things. As night fell they had supper together. Their spiritual conversation went on and the hour grew late. The holy nun said to her brother: “Please do not leave me tonight; let us go on until morning talking about the delights of the spiritual life.” “Sister,” he replied, “what are you saying? I simply cannot stay outside my cell.”

When she heard her brother refuse her request, the holy woman joined her hands on the table, laid her head on them and began to pray. As she raised her head from the table, there were such brilliant flashes of lightning, such great peals of thunder and such a heavy downpour of rain that neither Benedict nor his brethren could stir across the threshold of the place where they had been seated. Sadly he began to complain: “May God forgive you, sister. What have you done?” “Well,” she answered, “I asked you and you would not listen; so I asked my God and he did listen. So now go off, if you can, leave me and return to your monastery.”
Reluctant as he was to stay of his own will, he remained against his will. So it came about that they stayed awake the whole night, engrossed in their conversation about the spiritual life.

You may wonder why I call this “real love.”  I guess it’s because all love worthy of the name is God’s Love.  You may think Scholastica was praying for trifles.  The story, however, is about what God thinks.  Gregory saw it this way:  “It is not surprising that she was more effective than he, since as John says, ‘God is love.’  It was absolutely right that she could do more, as she loved more.”

With Abba Father,  nothing is too small or trivial.  We are His children.  It is as though everything that we refer to our Father He receives as a gift that He happily, lovingly, and joyfully, sticks on His heavenly version of the refrigerator.   A little soul doesn’t differentiate between great and small.  Everything comes from God’s gracious hand.

Who Has Bewitched You?

Early this morning,  I read these words in the Office of  Readings:

But the time came when He who had set me apart before I was born and called me by His favor chose to reveal His Son to me, that I might spread among the Gentiles the good tidings concerning Him.”  Galatians 1:15-16

My thoughts flew to the issue of Life; God creating each one of us purposefully; knowing us as we are, with all our faults and failings and even our misguided “good” intentions.   Paul had just finished describing to the Galatians his background,  including what had been his well meaning ambitions previous to his conversion:

You know that I went to extremes in persecuting the Church of God and tried to destroy it; I made progress in Jewish observance far beyond most of my contemporaries, in my excess of zeal to live out all the traditions of my ancestors.” Galatians 1:13-15

As I thought about this, it wasn’t much of a leap from there to recalling the arguments and dismissals of those in the pro-abortion camp,  declaring an unborn child as:  no child, no purpose, a blob of tissue, an inconvenience, a mistake (recall President Obama’s words), an economical burden (Nancy Pelosi’s words.)  In addressing the Galatians for their having strayed from the Truth,  Paul says, “O stupid Galatians!  Who has bewitched you?” Galations 3:1.  How much more can these words be spoken to our generation so steeped in secular relativism and materialism.

If God not only had Paul’s personhood in mind before he was conceived,  but also had a plan for Paul, which included His Church, and had a moment in Time set,  in which He would enable Paul to see clearly and become the man He called him to be, then how can we continue to throw away precious life as though God isn’t watching, isn’t caring, and isn’t remembering?  Is Paul’s term, “Stupid,” strong enough to characterize so many so zealous in their war against life in our  present culture of Death?

Lip Sync and Sanctity

I’ve been making an effort to say the Divine Office.  It’s not the easiest thing I’ve ever done.  There’s a lot of page flipping and ignorance on my part.  But I humbly applaud my efforts.  My “cloud of witnesses,” I’m sure, agree.

Recently, an absolute marvel of a website, DivineOffice.org gave my prayer time a boost.  With  iPod and  prayer book,  I now sit before the Blessed Sacrament, lips moving in sync with Morning Prayer.  No sound escapes my lips to disturb the silence of the Adoration Chapel, but heavenly voices do sound in my ears.  My prayer wings its way to the throne of God.  I don’t think I’m pushing a spiritual envelope here, but it proves to me technology can be a friend.  The limits I am pushing are those that limit me to me, myself and I.  As I pray, the accompaniment of gifted voices reminds me that the Divine Office is meant to be a communal prayer.  God, Who is outside Time and Space and yet fills it,  hears all of His children making a joyful noise as He inclines His ear.  Some might feel that it’s somehow holier to read than to listen but the Book of Revelation does bless “those that hear,” so I don’t think I’m breaking new holy ground.

Speaking from the Fourth Century

Hate for you to miss this.   The writer says that we are  led invisibly in our hearts by grace.  That’s comforting to me because when I feel now one way and then soon the other, I feel tossed about and ungrounded as though I’ve lost my spiritual moorings.

From a homily by a spiritual writer of the fourth century:

At times they are like men who mourn and lament over their fellow men, and pouring forth prayers for the whole human race, they plunge into tears and lamentation, on fire with spiritual love for mankind.

At other times they are enkindled by the Spirit with such love and exultation that, were it possible, they would clasp in their embrace all mankind, without discrimination, good and bad alike.

Sometimes they are cast down below all mankind in lowliness of spirit, so that they reckon theirs to be the lowest and most abject of conditions.

And sometimes they are held by the Spirit in ineffable joy.

At one time they are like a brave man who puts on the king’s full armor and goes down into battle. He fights bravely against the enemy and defeats them. In like manner, the spiritual man takes up the heavenly arms of the Spirit and marches against the enemy and engaging in battle tramples the foe beneath his feet.

At another time the soul is at rest in deepest silence, tranquility and peace, existing in sheer spiritual pleasure and in ineffable repose and a perfect state.  Again, the soul is instructed by grace in a certain understanding in the ineffable wisdom and the inscrutable knowledge of the Spirit on matters which neither tongue nor lips can utter.

Then again, the soul becomes like any ordinary man.

In such varied ways does grace work within them and many are the means by which it leads the soul, renewing it according to God’s will and training it in different ways so that it may be set before the heavenly Father pure and whole and blameless.

We, too, therefore must make our prayer to God and entreat in love and in great hope that he may bestow upon us the heavenly grace of the gift of the Spirit.

Remembering

Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs

You shall be my witnesses
The crosses were set in place. Father Pasio and Father Rodriguez took turns encouraging the victims. Their steadfast behavior was wonderful to see. The Father Bursar stood motionless, his eyes turned heavenward. Brother Martin gave thanks to God’s goodness by singing psalms. Again and again he repeated: “Into your hands, Lord, I entrust my life.” Brother Francis Branco also thanked God in a loud voice. Brother Gonsalvo in a very loud voice kept saying the Our Father and Hail Mary.
Our brother, Paul Miki, saw himself standing now in the noblest pulpit he had ever filled. To his “congregation” he began by proclaiming himself a Japanese and a Jesuit. He was dying for the Gospel he preached. He gave thanks to God for this wonderful blessing and he ended his “sermon” with these words: “As I come to this supreme moment of my life, I am sure none of you would suppose I want to deceive you. And so I tell you plainly: there is no way to be saved except the Christian way. My religion teaches me to pardon my enemies and all who have offended me. I do gladly pardon the Emperor and all who have sought my death. I beg them to seek baptism and be Christians themselves.”
Then he looked at his comrades and began to encourage them in their final struggle. Joy glowed in all their faces, and in Louis’ most of all. When a Christian in the crowd cried out to him that he would soon be in heaven, his hands, his whole body strained upward with such joy that every eye was fixed on him.
Anthony, hanging at Louis’ side, looked toward heaven and called upon the holy names – “Jesus, Mary!” He began to sing a psalm: “Praise the Lord, you children!” (He learned it in catechism class in Nagasaki. They take care there to teach the children some psalms to help them learn their catechism).
Others kept repeating “Jesus, Mary!” Their faces were serene. Some of them even took to urging the people standing by to live worthy Christian lives. In these and other ways they showed their readiness to die.
Then, according to Japanese custom, the four executioners began to unsheathe their spears. At this dreadful sight, all the Christians cried out, “Jesus, Mary!” And the storm of anguished weeping then rose to batter the very skies. The executioners killed them one by one. One thrust of the spear, then a second blow. It was over in a very short time.

From the Office of Readings

From the treatise On Spiritual Perfection by Diadochus of Photice

“Therefore, we must maintain great stillness of mind when in the midst of our struggles.  We shall then be able to distinguish between the different types of thoughts that come to us: those that are good, those sent by God, we will treasure in our memory; those that are evil and inspires by the devil we will reject.  A comparison with the sea may help us.  A tranquil sea allows the fisherman to gaze right to its depths.  No fish can hide there and escape his sight.  The stormy sea, however, becomes murky when it is agitated by the winds.  The very depths that it revealed in its placidness, the sea now hides.  The skills of the fisherman are useless.”