Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Feedback Welcome (I promise to just listen and not respond)

Some intuition tells me that true life is not a matter of acquiring more information.
And it's not a matter of sorting through (yet again!) the information already available to me.
And it's not even a matter of choosing between various competing, contradictary, and/or overlapping interpretations of the information, or interpretations of those interpretations, on and on, ad infinitum.
Nor is it a technical matter--do X in order to bring about results Y and Z.
So what is it?
I know, but I don't know. I don't know, but I know...
I'm listening...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Early in Eternity

Contemplating our personal and collective histories, we feel wearied and stained, but in some paradoxical sense, it is yet early in eternity, and all the freshness, the delicacy of the morning dew is upon us, all morning (not mourning!) glories are freely given: "Now hope does not disappoint us, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Rom. 5:5). In this context, the Abba's deathbed statement "I have not yet begun to repent" seems full not of despair but of anticipation and hope, as if spoken on the brink of a refreshing pool of water. "Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our bodies are wearing away, we are inwardly renewed every day" (2 Cor. 4:16).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Shocking Prayer

"Oh my divine Love, never again reassure me. I do not want to know everything will be all right. I never want to be secure again as long as I live. Give me no safety. Only give me this livingness forever, this power-0f-being, though I know I will die of it, of love exploding."
Gerald May, The Wisdom of Wilderness


It is of the nobility of man’s soul that he is insatiable. For he hath a Benefactor so prone to give, that He delighteth in us for asking. Do not your inclinations tell you that the World is yours? Do you not covet all? Do you not long to have it; to enjoy it; to overcome it? To what end do men gather riches, but to multiply more? Do they not like Pyrrhus, the King of Epire, add house to house and lands to lands; that they may get it all? It is storied of that prince, that having conceived a purpose to invade Italy, he sent for Cineas, a philosopher and the King’s friend: to whom he communicated his design, and desired his counsel. Cineas asked him to what purpose he invaded Italy? He said, to conquer it. And what will you do when you, have conquered it? Go into France, said the King, and conquer that. And what will you do when you have conquered France? Conquer Germany. And what then? said the philosopher. Conquer Spain. I perceive, said Cineas, you mean to conquer all the World. What will you do when you have conquered all? Why then said the King we will return, and enjoy ourselves at quiet in our own land. So you may now, said the philosopher, without all this ado. Yet could he not divert him till he was ruined by the Romans. Thus men get one hundred pound a year that they may get another; and having two covet eight, and there is no end of all their labour; because the desire of their Soul is insatiable. Like Alexander the Great they must have all: and when they have got it all, be quiet. And may they not do all this before they begin? Nay it would be well, if they could be quiet. But if after all, they shall be like the stars, that are seated on high, but have no rest, what gain they more, but labour for their trouble? It was wittily feigned that that young man sat down and cried for more worlds to conquer. So insatiable is man, that millions will not please him. They are no more than so many tennis-balls, in comparison of the Greatness and Highness of his Soul.
Your enjoyment of the World is never right, till you so esteem it, that everything in it, is more your treasure than a King’s exchequer full of Gold and Silver. And that exchequer yours also in its place and service. Can you take too much joy in your Father’s works? He is Himself in everything. Some things are little on the outside, and rough and common, but I remember the time when the dust of the streets were as pleasing as Gold to my infant eyes, and now they are more precious to the eye of reason.
Yet further, you never enjoy the world aright; till you so love the beauty of enjoying it, that you are covetous and earnest to persuade others to enjoy it. And so perfectly hate the abominable corruption of men in despising it, that you had rather suffer the flames of Hell than willingly be guilty of their error. There is so much blindness and ingratitude and damned folly in it. The world is a mirror of infinite beauty, yet no man sees it. It is a Temple of Majesty, yet no man regards it. It is a region of Light and Peace, did not men disquiet it. It is the Paradise of God. It is more to man since he is fallen than it was before. It is the place of Angels and the Gate of Heaven. When Jacob waked out of his dream, he said “God is here, and I wist it not. How dreadful is this place! This is none other than the House of God, and the Gate of Heaven.”
Thomas Traherne

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Unknown Territory

"To the extent that we can predict what another will say, no dialogue will occur."
Leslie H. Farber The Ways of the Will

Mysteries of the Will

Leslie H. Farber writes about the two realms of the will--the deeper realm in which one "decides without knowing that a decision has taken place," and the realm that is conscious, "experienced during the event," which "presses tward a particular objective," and "can be said, roughly speaking, to be utilitarian in character."
"The problem of the will," he writes, "lies in our recurring temptation to apply the will of the second realm to those portions of life that not only will not comply, but that will become distorted under such coercion. Let me give a few examples: I can will knowledge, but not wisdom; going to bed, but not sleeping; eating, but not hunger; meekness, but not humility; scrupulosity, but not virtue; self-assertion or bravado, but not courage; lust, but not love; commiseration, but not sympathy; congratulations, but not admiration; religiosity, but not faith; reading, but not understanding." According to Faber, attempting to apply the force of the second realm on the subtler and deeper matters of the first actually causes distortion, damage, and atrophy to the powers of the first kind of will.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

"The Struggle with Struggle"

"In spiritual warfare, what we sometimes fail to realize is that struggle is good. If we are struggling, guided by right intent and an enlightened conscience, we must understand that the struggle is good. However, the world teaches us that a struggle is bad. In our relationships, when Americans have a struggle--without the benefits of Christ and His Church, a pure intent seeking after righteousness, and a godly conscience--we make wrong decisions. In time, we come to believe that the struggle is bad. Every time there is a struggle, Americans are tempted either (1) to numb the struggle (through alcohol, excessive sleeping, drugs, the internet, video games, daydreaming, movies, and other forms of escapism) instead of fighting the godly fight; or (2) to get rid of the relationship which has, in our minds, caused us the struggle (e.g. divorce, damaged parent-child relationships, and broken friendships).
Also, in such a mobile society as ours, we don't necessarily have to form close relationships with anyone. Thanks to the phone, television, and internet, we have multiplied and magnified our separation all the more. Were we to surround ourselves with those whom God has given us (family, friends, neighbors, etc.) we might find the nature of the struggle to be different. That is, we tend to see ourselves in a truer light through those with whom we are in a relationship of mutual Christian love. Essentially, we should struggle as a family, not as individuals.
Returning to my point, the struggle is good. We must begin with that in mind. The struggle is good. If someone confesses, 'I still struggle with X,' the first thing that I have to remind myself, as a priest and confessor, and that which I have to counsel the penitent is: The struggle is good. It must also be remembered that the Enemy is not very original. The devil uses that which works. If we've fallen before, due to a particular passion, most likely we'll be greatly tempted in that area again. Warfare is waged. Yet, where there is no struggle the battle is already won. Whom do you think wins when we lay down our guard? God forbid that we allow the Enemy this victory! It's when we don't struggle that we become complacent. We become desperate. We become depressed. We become despondent. We lose hope. Given our comfortable American society, appreciating the truth that the struggle is good is indeed a difficult hurdle."
One Flew Over the Onion Dome by Father Joseph David Honeycutt

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Joy unspeakable and full of glory

"Love has a marvellous property of feeling in another. It can enjoy in another, as well as enjoy him. Love is an infinite treasure to its object, and its object is so to it. God is Love, and you are His object. You are created to be His Love: and He is yours. He is happy in you, when you are happy: as parents in their children. He is afflicted in all your afflictions. And whosoever toucheth you, toucheth the apple of His eye. Will not you be happy in all His enjoyments? He feeleth in you; will not you feel in Him? He hath obliged you to love Him. And if you love Him, you must of necessity be Heir of the World, for you are happy in Him. All His praises are your joys, all His enjoyments are your treasures, all His pleasures are your enjoyments. In God you are crowned, in God you are concerned. In Him you feel, in Him you live, and move, and have your being, in Him you are blessed. Whatsoever therefore serveth Him; serveth you and in Him you inherit all things.
O the nobility of Divine Friendship! Are not all His treasures yours, and yours His? Is not your very Soul and Body His: is not His life and felicity yours is not His desire yours? Is not His will yours? And if His will be yours, the accomplishment of it is yours, and the end of all is your perfection. You are infinitely rich as He is: being pleased in everything as He is. And if His will be yours, yours is His. For you will what He willeth, which is to be truly wise and good and holy. And when you delight in the same reasons that moved Him to will, you will know it. He willed the Creation not only that He might Appear but Be: wherein is seated the mystery of the Eternal Generation of His Son. Do you will it as He did, and .you shall be glorious as He. He willed the happiness of men and angels not only that He might appear, but be good and wise and glorious. And He willed it with such infinite desire, that He is infinitely good :infinitely good in Himself, and infinitely blessed in them. Do you will the happiness of men and angels as He did, and you shall be good, and infinitely blessed as He is. All their happiness shall be your happiness as it is His. He willed the glory of all ages, and the government and welfare of all Kingdoms, and the felicity also of the highest cherubims. Do you extend your Will like Him and you shall be great as He is, and concerned and happy in all these. He willed the redemption of mankind, and therefore is His Son Jesus Christ an infinite treasure. Unless you will it too, He will be no treasure to you. Verily you ought to will these things so ardently that God Himself should be therefore your joy because He willed them. Your will ought to be united to His in all places of His dominion. Were you not born to have communion with Him? And that cannot be without this heavenly union. Which when it is what it ought is Divine and Infinite. You are God's joy for willing what He willeth. He loves to see you good and blessed. And will not you love to see Him good? Verily, if ever you would enjoy God, you must enjoy His goodness: All His goodness to all His hosts in Heaven and Earth. And when you do so, you are the universal heir of God and all things. God is yours and the whole world. You are His, and you are all; or in all, and with all.
He that is in all, and with all, can never be desolate. All the joys and all the treasures, all the counsels, and all the perfections; all the angels, and all the saints of God are with him. All the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them are continually in his eye. The patriarchs, prophets, and Apostles are always before Him. The councils and the fathers, the bishops and the doctors minister unto him. All temples are open before him, the melody of all quires reviveth him, the learning of all universities doth employ him, the riches of all palaces delight him, the joys of Eden ravish him, the revelations of St. John transport him, the creation and the day of Judgment please him, the Hosannas of the church militant and the Hallelujahs, of the Saints Triumphant fill him, the splendour of all coronations entertain him, the joys of Heaven surround him, and our Saviour's cross, like the Centre of Eternity, is in him; it taketh up his thoughts, and exerciseth all the powers of his soul, with wonder, admiration, joy and thanksgiving. The Omnipotence of God is his House, and Eternity his habitation."

from Thomas Traherne's Centuries of Meditation

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How It Is

"Love's cracked, healed-over cup full at the lip."
Stanley Plumly

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Test

"If what we know is an abstract, impersonal, and apart from us, it cannot be truth, for truth involves a vulnerability, faithful and risk-filled interpenetration of the knower and the known."

- Parker Palmer

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


The writer Ron Carlson says, "All the valuable writing I've done in the last ten years has been done in the first twenty minutes after the first time I've wanted to leave the room...Somehow I've learned to sit still for those critical twenty minutes, pushing through..."

I wonder if this could be true for prayer as well?

Monday, July 7, 2008

What Is "Longsuffering"?

Longsuffering is this dynamic (which extends throughout our entire lives, and throughout all of history):
when we sin (big or "little"), thus hurting God, God comforts us, and heals the damage.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Face of Jesus

"The face of Jesus is a face that belongs to us the way our past belongs to us. It is a face that we belong to if only as to the one face out of the past that has perhaps had more to do with the shaping of our present than any other. According to Paul, the face of Jesus is our own face finally, the face we will all come to look like a little when the kingdom comes and we are truly ourselves at last , truly the brothers and sisters of one another and the children of God."

Frederick Buechner Listening to Your Life

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Irony and Eternity

"Irony and eternity are opposites."

Finding God in a Tangled World by Juris Rubenis and Maris Subacs

Against Proportion

"When you let God steer your life, you become freer than when you steer it by yourself. The control of the living God does not in any way limit a person. When you let God live through you, you do not know how much of your activity comes from yourself and how much comes from God; you only know that there is something of God there. You are not interested in knowing how much, for you do not pretend to be God."

Finding God in a Tangled World by Juris Rubenis and Maris Subacs

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


"The world is not manageable."

David Sedaris