Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Deep in the Heart of Texas


Tonight Chip and I will be flying west bound to "deep in the heart of Texas." We'll be spending time with the Embree's, eating lots and lots of BBQ and perhaps a pinto bean or two.  I'm really looking forward to some more time with the Embree's and relaxin!  We'll be hitting up Houston and Austin this time around, so hold on to your 10 gallon hats and get some comfortable shorts on it's gonna be a fun one with some food entries to follow...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

‘O Wisdom’, ‘O Adonai and leader of Israel’, ‘O stock of Jesse’, ‘O key of David’, ‘O Rising Sun’, ‘O King whom all the nations desire’, ‘O Emmanuel’: ‘O come!’ - Come and save us, free all those in darkness, and do not delay.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What we do not see, we hope for

A treatise on the value of patience, by St Cyprian


       Patience is a precept for salvation given us by our Lord our teacher: Whoever endures to the end will be saved. And again: If you persevere in my word, you will truly be my disciples; you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
       Dear brethren, we must endure and persevere if we are to attain the truth and freedom we have been allowed to hope for; faith and hope are the very meaning of our being Christians, but if faith and hope are to bear their fruit, patience is necessary.
       We do not seek glory now, in the present, but we look for future glory, as Saint Paul instructs us when he says: By hope we were saved. Now hope which is seen is not hope; how can a man hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it in patience. Patient waiting is necessary if we are to be perfected in what we have begun to be, and if we are to receive from God what we hope for and believe.
       In another place the same Apostle instructs and teaches the just, and those active in good works, and those who store up for themselves treasures in heaven through the reward God gives them. They are to be patient also, for he says: Therefore while we have time, let us do good to all, but especially to those who are of the household of the faith. But let us not grow weary in doing good, for we shall reap our reward in due season.
       Paul warns us not to grow weary in good works through impatience, not to be distracted or overcome by temptations and so give up in the midst of our pilgrimage of praise and glory, and allow our past good deeds to count for nothing because what was begun falls short of completion.
       Finally the Apostle, speaking of charity, unites it with endurance and patience. Charity, he says, is always patient and kind; it is not jealous, is not boastful, is not given to anger, does not think evil, loves all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. He shows that charity can be steadfast and persevering because it has learned how to endure all things.
       And in another place he says: Bear with one another lovingly, striving to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. He shows that neither unity nor peace can be maintained unless the brethren cherish each other with mutual forbearance and preserve the bond of harmony by means of patience.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Let the word of the Lord come to us

A sermon by St Bernard

     We know that the coming of the Lord is threefold: the third coming is between the other two and it is not visible in the way they are. At his first coming the Lord was seen on earth and lived among men, who saw him and hated him. At his last coming All flesh shall see the salvation of our God, and They shall look on him whom they have pierced. In the middle, the hidden coming, only the chosen see him, and they see him within themselves; and so their souls are saved. The first coming was in flesh and weakness, the middle coming is in spirit and power, and the final coming will be in glory and majesty.
     This middle coming is like a road that leads from the first coming to the last. At the first, Christ was our redemption; at the last, he will become manifest as our life; but in this middle way he is our rest and our consolation.
     If you think that I am inventing what I am saying about the middle coming, listen to the Lord himself: If anyone loves me, he will keep my words, and the Father will love him, and we shall come to him. Elsewhere I have read: Whoever fears the Lord does good things. – but I think that what was said about whoever loves him was more important: that whoever loves him will keep his words. Where are these words to be kept? In the heart certainly, as the Prophet says I have hidden your sayings in my heart so that I do not sin against you. Keep the word of God in that way: Blessed are those who keep it. Let it penetrate deep into the core of your soul and then flow out again in your feelings and the way you behave; because if you feed your soul well it will grow and rejoice. Do not forget to eat your bread, or your heart will dry up. Remember, and your soul will grow fat and sleek.
     If you keep God’s word like this, there is no doubt that it will keep you, for the Son will come to you with the Father: the great Prophet will come, who will renew Jerusalem, and he is the one who makes all things new. For this is what this coming will do: just as we have been shaped in the earthly image, so will we be shaped in the heavenly image. Just as the old Adam was poured into the whole man and took possession of him, so in turn will our whole humanity be taken over by Christ, who created all things, has redeemed all things, and will glorify all things.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The season of Advent

A pastoral letter by St Charles Borromeo

Beloved, now is the acceptable time spoken of by the Spirit, the day of salvation, peace and reconciliation: the great season of Advent. This is the time eagerly awaited by the patriarchs and prophets, the time that holy Simeon rejoiced at last to see. This is the season that the Church has always celebrated with special solemnity. We too should always observe it with faith and love, offering praise and thanksgiving to the Father for the mercy and love he has shown us in this mystery. In his infinite love for us, though we were sinners, he sent his only Son to free us from the tyranny of Satan, to summon us to heaven, to welcome us into its innermost recesses, to show us truth itself, to train us in right conduct, to plant within us the seeds of virtue, to enrich us with the treasures of his grace, and to make us children of God and heirs of eternal life.
  Each year, as the Church recalls this mystery, she urges us to renew the memory of the great love God has shown us. This holy season teaches us that Christ’s coming was not only for the benefit of his contemporaries; his power has still to be communicated to us all. We shall share his power, if, through holy faith and the sacraments, we willingly accept the grace Christ earned for us, and live by that grace and in obedience to Christ.
  The Church asks us to understand that Christ, who came once in the flesh, is prepared to come again. When we remove all obstacles to his presence he will come, at any hour and moment, to dwell spiritually in our hearts, bringing with him the riches of his grace.
  In her concern for our salvation, our loving mother the Church uses this holy season to teach us through hymns, canticles and other forms of expression, of voice or ritual, used by the Holy Spirit. She shows us how grateful we should be for so great a blessing, and how to gain its benefit: our hearts should be as much prepared for the coming of Christ as if he were still to come into this world. The same lesson is given us for our imitation by the words and example of the holy men of the Old Testament.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

St. Teresa of Avila

This was for an RCIA talk on Teresa of Avila and I thought I'd repost it because her writings are very moving.

We look to the saints as heroes and heroines of the Church, yet we’re not called to be another Mother Theresa, John Bosco, or Francis of Assisi.  You’re called by God to be you and fully you and to enter into an intimate relationship with God through the persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The saints enter our lives so that we can learn from their successes, failures, and inspirations that they received from the one who loved them.  Many of them have stories and pasts that we can easily relate to and some others stories that inspire us to go beyond what we think our own limits are.  We seek the strength that they received from God and their companionship on our journey.  These saints are real people with real struggles and real success stories, because they knew in whom they should put their trust.

Let nothing disturb you,
Nothing dismay you.
All things are passing,
God never changes.
Patient endurance
Attains all things…
God alone suffices.
(Teresa’s Bookmark)

Teresa was born on March 28, 1515, in Avila, Spain “The City of Knights.”  The city was infused with the warrior spirit and stamped upon its citizens, and Teresa was not exempt from this attitude. 

“We ought to act as if we were at war – as, indeed, we are – and never relax until we have won the victory.” (Speaking of the spiritual life to her brother Lorenzo)

She was exceedingly beautiful and she knew it and even struggled at points with her vanity.  When she was 61, one of her friars, a former Italian artist, painted her portrait and her response to him was, “May God forgive you, Fray Juan, for you have made me look like a bleary-eyed old hag!”

She was a woman that longed to be loved passionately and in her own biography she speaks of how she flirted, danced, and fell in love in her teenage years.  She entered the convent when she was 20 and her passion towards relationships never really damped but they turned from frivolous love into a purer, more spiritual love.  Without knowing the love that dwelled in her relationships you’d find her correspondence with men scandalous even today, but she wasn’t completely free from occasionally becoming emotionally attached to these relationships.  For example she had a spiritual director for the last seven years of her life that was half her age that she teased about whether or not he loved her more than his own mother.


She was a powerhouse for prayer and focused in her spiritual masterpieces on the presence of God dwelling within us.  “I consider it impossible for us to pay so much attention to worldly things if we take the care to remember we have a Guest such as this within us, for we then see how lowly these things are next to what we possess within ourselves…You will laugh at me, perhaps, and say that what I’m explaining is very clear, and you’ll be right; for me though, it was obscure for sometime.  I understood well that I had a soul.  But what this soul deserved and who dwelt within it I did not understand because I had covered my eyes with the vanities of the world…If I had understood as I do now that in this little palace of my soul dwelt so great a King, I would not have left Him alone so often.  I would have remained with Him at times and striven more so as not to be so unclean.  But what a marvelous thing, that He would fill a thousand worlds and many more with His grandeur would enclose Himself in something so small!...Since He is Lord He is free to do what He wants, and since He loves us He adapts Himself to our size.” (Way of Perfection 28.10-11)

She began to reform the Carmelite Order when she was 45 with the help of St. John of the Cross, yet again another spiritual powerhouse.  The reform wasn’t an easy task and she faced stiff opposition during the Spanish Inquisition in front of which she was placed twice.  There were a few years in particular that the reform struggled greatly.  Teresa was exiled to a Castilian monastery and John of the Cross was imprisoned in Toledo.  The resistance to the reformation also included slanders of her spiritual director fathering a child with a loose-living woman he was ingenuously helping, there were people trying to intercept her correspondence during that time and she had come up with a series of pseudonyms for herself, those she was writing too, and even groups that she was referring too.  Ironically she referred to the Inquisitors as angels and the Grand Inquisitor as the Archangel.  Christ was Joseph and the Devil was a term that translates to Hoofy.  What got her through all of this persecution and suffering was a revelation years before during a period of great anxiety: “Do what lies in your power; surrender yourself to me, and do not be disturbed about anything.”

She was also a mystic, which speaks to the depth of her personal prayer and love for God.  This was something that developed over her life and she attributes her depth in prayer to the suffering that she endured.  “We suffer for love’s sake,” as she would say.  In some profound way, she came to experience that suffering makes us “ready” for God by hollowing us out and increasing our capacity for the divine.  Those who experience God deeply are those who have been prepared by trials.  She wrote to John of the Cross during his imprisonment “God’s treatment of His friends is terrible, though they have really nothing to complain of, as he did the same to His own Son.”

            “The important thing is not to think much but to love much; and so do that which best stirs you to love.  Perhaps we don’t know what love is.  I wouldn’t be very surprised because it doesn’t consist in great delight but in desiring with strong determination to please God in everything, in striving, insofar as possible, not to offend Him, and in asking Him for the advancement of the honor and glory of His Son.” (Interior Castle 4.1.7)

Excerpts from Teresa of Avila: Mystical Writings by Tessa Bielechki