Wednesday, December 28, 2011

St Alcuin: An Act of Penitence and Preparation

Draw near to me, O Lord and Saviour, that I may seek you with my whole heart; then I can ask for what I ought, and finally may adhere to the result of my prayers.  Liberate me from my past sins, protect me from the present ones that threaten me, and guard me against future sins.  Give me food and drink appropriate to the spirit of abstinence, the girdle of chastity, purity of heart, kindness and modesty; grant me spiritual joy and a perfect disdain of this world.

Enable me to guard against any occasion of scandal; grant me to love simplicity and purity, and always to seek after those things that make for peace.  Keep far from me hypocrisy: give me instead true humility, that I may make a full confession and a perfect amendment of my life.  Keep my tongue from the habit of swearing, from the clouds of deceit, and from the disease of detraction of others; also from addiction to gambling, and from the vanity of gossip and foolish talk.

Set a guard upon my mouth, and protect the doorway of my lips.  I beg you to permit me to obey the commands of those above me, and without delay to concur whole-heartedly with all that makes for obedience, compassion and peace.  Give me discretion in all things that I may distinguish between good and evil.  May I value what is good, and encourage others so that things may be better yet, recalling to the standards of your righteousness any who are moving away from you.

Stir up my torpor and prod my laziness; make me persevere strenuously in your commandments and praises.  Give me prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance.  Bestow upon me a true faith, unquenchable hope, and perfect love.  Fill my heart with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and devotion, and of your holy fear.  Grant me, O Lord, the blessing of the dew of heaven, and the richness of earth; grant me the abundant water that flows from above and from below.

Give to my wretched soul the melting fire of your love, and make me extinguish utterly all desire for this world instead of you.  Enable my heart to be always humble and contrite before you.  May I become a living sacrifice in your presence through the fire of compunction.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Chesterton on the Epiphany

‎"It is still a strange story, though an old one, how they came out of orient lands, crowned with the majesty of kings and clothed with something of the mystery of magicians. That truth that is tradition has wisely remembered them almost as unknown quantities, as mysterious as their mysterious and melodious names; Melchior, Caspar, Balthazar. But there came with them all that world of wisdom that had watched the stars in Chaldea and the sun in Persia; and we shall not be wrong if we see in them the same curiosity that moves all the sages. They would stand for the same human ideal if their names had really been Confucius or Pythagoras or Plato. They were those who sought not tales but the truth of things, and since their thirst for truth was itself a thirst for God, they also have had their reward. But even in order to understand that reward, we must understand that for philosophy as much as mythology, that reward was the completion of the incomplete." ~G.K. Chesterton: 'The Everlasting Man,' Part II: The God in the Cave.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Second Song of Isaiah

Seek out Yahweh while he is still to be found, 
call to him while he is still near.  
Let the wicked abandon his way 
and the evil one his thoughts. 
Let him turn back to Yahweh who will take pity on him, 
to our God, for he is rich in forgiveness;  
for my thoughts are not your thoughts 
and your ways are not my ways, declares Yahweh.  
For the heavens are as high above earth 
as my ways are above your ways, 
my thoughts above your thoughts.  
For, as the rain and the snow come down from the sky 
and do not return before having watered the earth, 
fertilising it and making it germinate 
to provide seed for the sower and food to eat,  
so it is with the word that goes from my mouth: 
it will not return to me unfulfilled 
or before having carried out my good pleasure 
and having achieved what it was sent to do. - Isaiah 55:6-11 
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

C.S. Lewis on Christianity

“I have sometimes told my audience that the only two things really worth considering are Christianity and Hinduism. (Islam is only the greatest of the Christian heresies, Buddhism only the greatest of the Hindu heresies. Real Paganism is dead. All that was best in Judaism and Platonism survives in Christianity.) There isn’t really, for an adult mind, this infinite variety of religions to consider. We may [reverently] divide religions, as we do soups, into ‘thick’ and ‘clear’. By Thick I mean those which have orgies and ecstasies and mysteries and local attachments: Africa is full of Thick religions. By Clear I mean those which are philosophical, ethical and universalizing: Stoicism, Buddhism, and the Ethical Church are Clear religions. Now if there is a true religion it must be both Thick and Clear: for the true God must have made both the child and the man, both the savage and the citizen, both the head and the belly. And the only two religions that fulfil this condition are Hinduism and Christianity. But Hinduism fulfils it imperfectly. The Clear religion of the Brahmin hermit in the jungle and the Thick religion of the neighbouring temple go on side by side. The Brahmin hermit doesn’t bother about the temple prostitution nor the worshipper in the temple about the hermit’s metaphysics. But Christianity really breaks down the middle wall of the partition. It takes a convert from central Africa and tells him to obey an enlightened universalist ethic: it takes a twentieth-century academic prig like me and tells me to go fasting to a Mystery, to drink the blood of the Lord. The savage convert has to be Clear: I have to be Thick. That is how one knows one has come to the real religion.”

—from “Christian Apologetics,” by C. S. Lewis