Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quotation from Fr. Stephen Freeman


"...We are fearfully and wonderfully made – and even our infirmities do not lack for wonder."


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Another Rules Here"

The following is from
his treasure of a devotional To Love Is Christ

But when perfection comes, the things that are not perfect will end. 1 Corinthians 13:10 NCV
LOVE SHAPES AND RESHAPES US, fashions us in its own likeness, processes us through its own seasons and schedules, takes from us what is incompatible to itself, and makes its habitation within us a hallowed place. And though this pilgrimage may begin at birth (for I do not know), it does not end at death, for death is just a mark, another entry in love's great diary.
So lead me, Lord, by the way that I would not take. Take me by that hand I had refused to give you. Be the path that I denied to walk. Command my heart, this mismanaged, idling heart, that I may say, "Another rules here!" I am in process. So come, you blessed seasons, weather yourself upon me, blast me in your furnaces, blow me about in your winds, warm me beneath your suns, chill me to the bones with your lean winters, till Christ be satisfied in me.

In Christ, the reign that softens the clay, Amen

May you be ever pliable, fixable, teachable, moldable, pliant, stretchable.

© 2009 David Teems. All rights reserved.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Some Excellent Resolutions

by writer/teacher Clyde Kilby

1.) At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above and about me.

2.) Instead of the accustomed idea of a mindless and endless evolutionary change to which we can neither add nor subtract, I shall suppose the universe guided by an Intelligence which, as Aristotle said of Greek drama, requires a beginning, a middle, and an end. I think this will save me from the cynicism expressed by Bertrand Russell before his death, when he said: “There is darkness without, and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendour, no vastness anywhere, only triviality for a moment, and then nothing.”

3.) I shall not fall into the falsehood that this day, or any day, is merely another ambiguous and plodding twenty-four hours, but rather a unique event, filled, if I so wish, with worthy potentialities. I shall not be fool enough to suppose that trouble and pain are wholly evil parentheses in my existence but, just as likely, ladders to be climbed toward moral and spiritual manhood.

4.) I shall not turn my life into a thin straight line which prefers abstractions to reality. I shall know what I am doing when I abstract, which of course I shall often have to do.

5.) I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.

6.) I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are, but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying, and ecstatic” existence.

7.) I shall follow Darwin’s advice and turn frequently to imaginative things such as good literature and good music, preferably, as Lewis suggests, an old book and timeless music.

8.) I shall not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp all my energies but will instead, as Charles Williams suggested, “fulfill the moment as the moment.” I shall try to live well just now because the only time that exists is now.

9.) If for nothing more than the sake of a change of view, I shall assume my ancestry to be from the heavens rather than from the caves.

10.) Even if I turn out to be wrong, I shall bet my life on the assumption that this world is not idiotic, neither run by an absentee landlord, but that today, this very day, some stroke is being added to the cosmic canvas that in due course I shall understand with joy as a stroke made by the Architect who calls Himself Alpha and Omega.

11.) I shall sometimes look back at the freshness of vision I had in childhood and try, at least for a little while, to be, in the words of Lewis Carroll, the “child of thepure unclouded brow, and dreaming eyes of wonder.”


Friday, October 16, 2009




O how little is necessary for a man to turn his face from Thee towards idols!

He is surrounded by temptation as by storms, and he is as powerless as the foam upon a rough mountain brook.

If he is prosperous, he fancies at once that he is Thy colleague, or he puts Thee in his own shadow, or even adorns his home with Thy images as a luxury.

If evil knocks at his door, he encounters the temptation of making a bargain with Thee, or even of casting Thee away altogether.

If Thou callest him to sacrifices, he revolts. If Thou sendest him to death, he trembles.

If Thou offerest to him all the pleasures of earth, he will be tempted to poison and kill his own soul.

If Thou discloses to his eyes the laws of Thy creation, he murmurs, “The universe is wonderful and lawful in itself, without a Creator.”

We are confused by Thy light, O our shading Father, like the night butterflies. When Thou callest us to the light, we are flying into the darkness, when we are set in darkness we are crying for light.

There is a network of many paths before us, but we dare not go to the end of any of them, for at each end there is a temptation waiting for us and luring us on.

And the path leading to Thee is crossed by many temptations as well as by many precipices. Before temptation assails us Thou seemest to accompany us as by an illuminated cloud. But when temptation comes Thou disappearest. We turn around in confusion and we put to ourselves the painful question: What was our illusions – Thy presence or Thine absence?

In all temptations we ask ourselves: Art Thou our Father? All our temptations put in our minds the same question that all the circumstances around us are putting into our minds from day to day and from night to night, which is: What do you think about the Lord? Where is He and Who is He? Are you with Him, or without Him?

Give to me the power, my Fatherly Creator, that I may in every hour of my life, whether bright or dark, give the same answer to every possible temptation and to everything: The Lord is the Lord. He is there where I am and where I am not.

I stretch always my passionate heart towards Him and my hands towards His bright garments, as a child towards his beloved Father.

How could I live without Him? It would mean to be without myself at the same time. How could I be against Him? It would mean to be against myself at the same time.

A righteous son follows his father with respect, quietness, and joy.

Breathe Thine inspiration into our souls, O Father, to be Thy righteous sons!

The Our Father: A Devout Interpetation by St. Nikolai Velimirovic


"Love Never Fails"


I have heard that God sees differently than we do the struggles and the lives of people who are profoundly damaged—to us, from the outside, it may seem that there is nothing but tragic disconnection, but in reality, there may be all kinds of small subtle interior movements, choices, and glories known only by God.

Sometimes God allows this hidden grace to leak out so that we are given little glimpses:

"A nun had been assigned to care for an elderly monk with advanced dementia. One day his babbling was of a kind that was distressing to her. Suddenly he broke free, as it were, looked her in the eye, and said, 'Dear sister, you are upset because of what I am saying. But do not fear. Inside, I am with God.'“ Frederica Mathewes-Green, The Jesus Prayer: Ancient Desert Prayer that Tunes the Heart to God


"I also think of some of the people I cared for in psychiatric institutions. One day I ran out of matches for my pipe while interviewing a woman suffering from severe schizophrenia. She had not spoken before, but she broke through her hallucinations to ask the nurse for a light for me. In a prison ward, I was struggling to communicate with an aggressive, demanding patient. In a moment of frustration I glanced across the ward and noticed another man watching me. His eyes were so tender and understanding that I felt supported and encouraged without either of us saying a word. That man, suffering from paranoid delusions, had killed seven people. And he was caring for me. Both these people were dysfunctional, yet grace flowed through them...No matter how oppressed we may be by internal addictions or external forces, love always ensures that some spark of freedom of choice remains alive within us." Gerald May, The Awakening Heart


Monday, October 12, 2009

"Breaking the Fetters of the World"


"This world--with its ideals, principles, rules, and in general, with all its order, which has been elevated to the status of an unbreakable law-lays its heavy, dominating hand upon all its children. Consequently, none of them even dares to think about rising up against it or spurning its power and authority. Everybody holds it in reverence, and with some timidity, adheres to its rules. Their breach is considered to be a criminal offense. The world is not a person, but its spirit somehow permeates the earth. The spirit influences us and binds us with bonds. Obviously its power and authority are created by our thought; they are imaginary, not real or physical. Consquently, we need only to dispel the imaginary authority of the world, and the possibility of sobering from its charms will be near to us."

St. Theophan the Recluse

Friday, October 9, 2009


"Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable."

Mary Oliver, "Evidence"


Monday, October 5, 2009

"The Golden Compass," etc.


The Golden Compass and the two following books in the children's fantasy trilogy have been controversial because of their supposed anti-Christian message, but I found the version of Christianity that the author (Philip Pullman) rejects to be such a distortion of the real thing that the books didn't trouble me at all--on the contrary, I wholeheartedly enjoyed them even though I tend to find that kind of fantasy book annoying.

And here is one part that spoke to me of the journey of faith (though the parallel with the narrative isn't perfect for various reasons that you'd have to have read the books to understand--too complex to go into now).

In this passage, Iorek Byrnison, the king of the warrior bears, is leading them to a new land for survival due to worldwide climate change:

Most of the bears had never seen mountains, apart from the cliffs on their own island of Svalbard, and fell silent as they looked up at the giant ramparts, still so far off.

"Where will we hunt there, Iorek Byrnison," said one. "Are there seals in the mountains? How shall we live?"

Iorek Byrnison explains to them that they will be able to hunt even though this terrain is very different from what they are used to. Then he says,

"...If we had stayed there, we would have starved. Be prepared for strangeness and new ways, my bears."

"Strangeness and new ways"--I can't think of a more concise description of the way it feels to follow Christ!