Wednesday, February 26, 2020

To Rise With Him

From Morning prayer today:
For in sacrifice you take no delight,
burnt offering from me you would refuse,
my sacrifice, a contrite spirit.
A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn. 
In your goodness, show favor to Zion:
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will be pleased with lawful sacrifice,
holocausts offered on your altar.
- Psalm 51 

We are made to worship God. It seems that the rejection of burnt offerings here is that the sacred author would be lying, saying one thing with the sacrifice and saying another thing in their manor of life. But even though the author is the one at fault (and therefore we who pray the Psalms acknowledge our own faults and sins against God), we cannot rebuild Jerusalem.

We cannot rebuild Jerusalem.

No amount of self-help or self-improvement is enough to make God "pleased with lawful sacrifice." As important as they may be for other aspects of our life and our well-being, they are not the sacrifice of self that God asks of us.

We are created in the Image and Likeness of God. We find our true selves only in Christ, particularly in the Cross, as many Saints have told us.

He has given himself to us in humility, in a general and universal way, but He asks us to give ourselves to Him in a reciprocal humility, that He might give Himself to us in a particular and individual gift, one that is not forced upon us.

Our gentle God calls us once again to take up our cross, not out of some desire to punish us, but in His desire for us to be united with Him.

To die with Him that we may Rise with him, and offer perfect sacrifice in the New Jerusalem.

Monday, September 3, 2018

May I Understand

I've been thinking lately about the "Prayer for Peace" attributed to St. Francis, particularly the desire not to be understood, but to understand. Regardless of its true authorship, this bears at least some similarity to the Litany of Humility, which I certainly don't pray often enough.

As an Elder Millennial, I hear all this talk about "reaching out to the youth," or "reaching millennials," which of course just means some "panel," or "initiative," that will ultimately do little. Rarely is it founded on the true and unchanging reality of what draws people to God - Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.

And it upsets me.

As the phrase goes, "To be loved is to be know, and to be known is to be loved," and here it feels like no one understands me (because I might not still live at home, but who doesn't like to replay the hits of their teenage years!).

All jest aside, it is upsetting when you long to hear truth proclaimed from the pulpit, to hear beautiful and sacred music resonating in our Churches, to see a Church bursting with good works, and instead you get programs and panels.

It is upsetting when you just want the truth, and your shepherds insist on misdirection. When those called to imitate the Good Shepherd malign anyone who dares to question their intentions and actions.

I say the following as someone who has not been a victim of abuse. I speak only for myself.

Maybe this is a chance to change the Church. To rebuild it as St. Francis was called to. Maybe the only way to do that for many of us is to pray, and to fast, accepting the calumny, and the inaction, and the lies, as realities that we have no power to change on our own.

I think about Our Lord's Mercy covering Justice in that He accepted in His Sacred Body every punishment which we deserve. Paul says, "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church..." (Colossians 1.24)

If to be a Christian means to daily take up our cross and follow Him, then maybe for some of us, especially those who are not in the center of the particular scandals that rock our Church, our Cross can be these feelings of confusion, doubt, anger. Even our sense that we are powerless in the face of it all.

Because we are.

But He's not.

And He wants you to be a Saint.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

God of the Gaps

Christianity is often accused of believing in a "God of the Gaps." What her detractors often accuse the Church of is justifying belief in God by pointing to the "gaps" in human knowledge. Gaps which they - as good children of the enlightenment - know will inevitably be filled in by the March of Human Progress™.

Certainly we know this is a false accusation. Our belief does not rest in gaps, but rather in encounter. As to knowledge, in many ways the more profoundly we understand the natural world, the more profoundly we meet its maker. But I think they may be on to something with this "God in the Gaps" concept.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Humble New Year

This has been a tumultuous year, to say the least. More than that, it seems that 2017 has been an arrogant year.

As the meme says, "Every day we stray further from God's light."

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Wrath of a Gentle Man

When I was still a youth my father said
The hour draws near
to teach you, as my father did, those things
all wise men fear.

The ocean vast, majestic, calm, the thoughtful
heart keeps warm,
But wisely clings to safety's shore in tempest
and in storm.

The moonlit night restores the soul, whether
you wake or sleep,
But 'pon new moon what evil tracks its ways
in darkness deep?

Still worse than these, the wise man knows, its pow'r
he can't withstand:
Do not awake, do not arouse
the wrath of a gentle man.

The boundless depths, the vast expanse, the sailor
holds these dear.
With rope and sail and oar in hand, he conquers
every fear.

But when the waves do toss and break and rake
him o'er the coals,
The wise man seeks the harbor's calm, avoids
the wrecking shoals.

Still though how mount'nous are the crests, how low the
valleyed troughs,
There's something more than storm he fears, and leaves it
lie far off.

Poseidon's rage may splinter ships, and hopeless
sailors strand,
But fearsome'r still than crashing waves
is the wrath of a gentle man.

The hunter has no fear at nighttime when
the moon is raised.
No friend nor foe, no prey nor snare escapes
his piercing gaze.

But when the moon hath hid its face, the dark path
he doth shun:
The wise man tarries not at night, while shadows
lengthening run.

But still preferred is moonless night, all trackless,
wand'ring, lost,
The wise man knows that other fears may fetch
a dearer cost.

The hounds of hell may howl and bay within that
trackless stand,
But fearsome'r still in the dead of night
is the wrath of a gentle man.

The darkened night, the raging storm, strike fear
in wisest heart,
If length of days be yours, my son, avoid them
for your part.

But peace, for only nature's whims are dangers
such as these;
Let not the troubles of this kind your heart
in terror seize.

Betrayal by friend, thy foe's keen sword, o'er these
the wise prevails.
And nature's strength the wise man turns and of
its pow'r avails.

But though he toil, though he prepare, no matter
what his plan,
Even the wise man can't survive
the wrath of a gentle man.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Myrrh Christmas?

Merry Christmas! Today is, of course, the 12th day, the Feast of the Three Kings, Epiphany - though it will be celebrated this Sunday by most of us (which, as it was last year is certainly commented on, but decidedly not the point of this post).

Instead, today I want to talk about one of my favorite Christmas Hymns, which - much like We Three Kings from last year's post, seems rarely sung in its entirety.

So here's your chance to correct that grave disservice done to you this season! Dive into a Christmas carol that one website warns has explicit lyrics, and which inspires me to wear the coolest Christmas tie ever!

Ask yourself this Christmastide: Who could this baby be?

Monday, November 7, 2016


So I was talking with my buddies Paul and Matt the other day, and Paul was all,

Where, O death, is your sting?

Oh man. You have no idea how hard it was for me to not sarcastically retort, "It's in my heart, Paul, where do you think it is?"

Well, okay, so I was listening to Matt Maher's Christ is Risen, which references Paul's 1 Corinthians 15.54-55 taunt at the wages of sin:

Death is swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?