To Break My Fast From Being Merciful

Peter Chrysologus, master of the succinct homily.

I came across some wise words of a Doctor of the Church I had never heard of the other day. The subject? The importance of being merciful.

For the longest time, and long before I became a Catholic, I thought being merciless was the correct tack. After all, that is the way of the world. So I was, in an upside down way, fasting from being merciful. [Read more...]

Because Of The Sacraments (A Few Words for Wednesday)

Seven Sacraments Altar Piece (1445-1450),  Rogier van der Weyden.

Seven Sacraments Altar Piece (1445-1450), Rogier van der Weyden.

I just ran across these thoughts by Reverend Jesse Brett over at my favorite electronic library. Oftentimes on Wednesdays  I like to feature a poem. But after reading these few paragraphs on the Sacraments, I realized that I should share them with you.

Brett is a bit of a mystery too, though I found out that he was the chaplain at All Saints Hospital in Eastbourne in the U.K. (in the 1920′s), I haven’t been able to uncover anymore information about him. How was he to know that almost 100 years after he wrote his book, I could share it with you via the interwebs? [Read more...]

To Become Fully Human (A Work In Progress)

 

Vitruvian Man, by Leonardo DaVinci.

Vitruvian Man, by Leonardo DaVinci.

A few thoughts as we endure a day of penance in remembrance of the lives of the unborn sacrificed on the altar of convenience. Thoughts that inevitably revolve around commemorating Jesus’s triumph over death, and His becoming what we are to become if we truly follow him.

A friend of mine asked me once, “If you could be any animal, what animal would you choose to be?” I didn’t think about my answer very long.

In the past, before I was a Catholic, I would probably have just lept to the first thing that popped into my head. An eagle, or a tiger, or some other fearsome predator, you know, one that is lethal and smart, such as these. [Read more...]

Dispatches From A Holy Land Pilgrimage…

Church of the Transfiguration

Church of the Transfiguration, Mount Tabor*

Let us go to the place where His feet have stood (Psalm 132:7).

That short verse (from Eusebius’s Greek translation of the psalm) sums up the entire reason for coming to the Holy Land. [Read more...]

WYD Flashback With Matt Maher, And His Story On How The Song Came To Be Written…

In adoration before Our Eucharistic Lord…

It’s been a week since World Youth Day wrapped up and everyone checked out of Rio and headed back from whence they came. Pilgrims from every clime and place, reinvigorated after resting awhile with their peers, their Church, and the Lord.

A lot of hoopla was made about some of the events. [Read more...]

Because I’m a Contrarian

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

A while back, I mentioned that I am a contrarian. That fact, explained here in a post originally published May 14, 2010, is one of the reasons why I am Catholic.

My wife can tell you that I am wired differently than most people. I tend to go against the crowd. Webster Bull wrote a post a while back called Because I am Usually Howling with the Mob. Not me. I tend to avoid mobs, crowds, and popular opinion.
[Read more...]

Because God Became Human To Save Us All

The title of this post says it all. Why bother becoming a Christian unless you believe this? “God became human to save us all.” And if you do believe it, why not practice the ancient faith of the earliest Christians? The one that, despite criticisms attempting to prove the opposite, has developed since Christ ascended to heaven, and yet has not done so at the expense of Biblical (and doctrinal) truth.

This post is not an attempt to explain all of that. That is what this blog, and a lifetime of study, prayer, and reflection, is for. Today though, just for a few minutes, pause from all the crises and craziness of your daily life to ponder the fact that God became a human being. [Read more...]

Because Everything Matters, When Christ is Our Center

Back in the Fall, I shared a post with you about fallen Hollywood heroes asking for mercy. Does Hollywood matter? Does anything, given the finiteness of our earthly existence? I’m reminded of a title of an album by John Cougar Mellencamp: Nothing Matters, And What If It Did? [Read more...]

For Thoughts on Faith Like These by Thomas Merton

“Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

Now, as Pope Benedict has declared the coming year as the Year of Faith, Fr. Louis explains clearly and simply what faith means. What follows are thoughts from the prologue of his “The Silent Life,” published in 1957.

I came across these words a few years ago, when I was reading all I could that Merton had written. When I read them, I couldn’t help changing the words “monk” and “monasticism” to “Catholic” and “Catholicism”, because when I did, they helped answer the statement “Why I Am Catholic” very effectively. Fr. Louis has the floor,

Let us face the fact that the monastic vocation tends to present itself to the modern world as a problem and as a scandal.

In a basically religious culture, like that of India, or of Japan, the monk is more or less taken for granted. When all society is oriented beyond the mere transient quest of business and pleasure, no one is surprised that men should devote their lives to an invisible God.

In a materialistic culture, which is fundamentally irreligious, the monk is incomprehensible because he “produces nothing.” His life appears to be completely useless. Not even Christians have been exempt from anxiety over this apparent “uselessness” of the monk, and we are familiar with the argument that the monastery is a kind of dynamo which, though it does not “produce” grace, procures this infinitely precious spiritual commodity for the world.

The first Fathers of monasticism were concerned with no such arguments, valid though they may be in their proper context. The Fathers did not feel that the search for God was something that needed to be defended. Or rather, they saw that if men did not realize in the first place that God was to be sought, no other defence of monasticism would avail them.

Is God, then, to be sought?

The deepest law in man’s being is his need for God, for life. God is Life. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men, and the light shineth in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5). The deepest need of our darkness is to comprehend the light which shines in the midst of it. Therefore God has given us his first commandment:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength.

The monastic life is nothing but the life of those who have taken the first commandment in deadly earnest, and have, in the words of St. Benedict, “preferred nothing to the love of Christ.”

But Who is God? Where is He? Is Christian monasticism a search for some pure intuition of the Absolute? A cult of supreme Good? A worship of perfect and changeless Beauty? The very emptiness of such abstractions strikes the heart cold. The Holy One, the Invisible, the Almighty is infinitely greater and more real than any abstraction of man’s devising. But he has said: “No one shall see me and live” (Exodus 33:20). Yet the monk persists in crying out with Moses: “Show me Thy face” (Exodus 33:13).

The monk, then, is one who is so intent upon the search for God that he is ready to die in order to see Him. That is why monastic life is a “martyrdom” as  well as a “paradise,” a life that is at once “angelic” and “crucified.”

St. Paul resolves the problem: “God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

The monastic life is the rejection of all that obstructs the spiritual rays of this mysterious light. The monk is one who leaves behind the fictions and illusions of a merely human spirituality in order to plunge himself in the faith of Christ. Faith is the light with illumines him in mystery. Faith is the power which seizes upon the inner depths of his souls and delivers him up to the action of the divine Spirit, the Spirit of liberty, the Spirit of love. Faith takes him, as the power of God took the ancient prophets, and “stands him upon his feet” (Ezekiel 2:2) before the Lord. The monastic life is the life in the Spirit of Christ, a life in which the Christian gives himself entirely to the love of God which transforms him in the light of Christ.

“The Lord is a Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3: 17-18).

What St. Paul has said of the inner life of every Christian becomes in all truth the main objective of the monk, living in his solitary cloister. In seeking Christian perfection the monk seeks the fullness of the Christian life, the complete maturity of the Christian faith. For him, “to live is Christ.”

Amen. It’s time to harness our inner monks and crank up the dynamo of prayer.


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