A Prayer of St Benedict

Grant to me, O Father,
most holy and most merciful,
wisdom to understand Thy intentions with
regard to me, a heart to share Thy feelings,
courage to seek Thee alone, and a way
of life that contributes to Thy glory.

Give me, O my God,
eyes that see only Thee,
a tongue that may speak only of Thee,
and a life devoted entirely to Thy will.

Finally, O my Savior, grant me the joy
of seeing Thee one day, face-to-face,
with all Thy saints in glory.

Reading St. Paul

There’s a lot I don’t understand when I read the Epistles of St. Paul.  This shouldn’t surprise me, given his background.  The man was utterly brilliant, and he had what sounds like the equivalent of a doctorate in his Hebrew studies, as well.  I don’t, I can’t operate on that level.

But what I do understand grabs me and won’t let go.

I’m rereading the Pauline epistles for the first time in a number of years.  I keep going back and reading portions of Philippians and Ephesians again and again – and Romans 12. . .   so I decided it’s probably a good idea to just start with Romans and read through.  I’m keeping a journal as I read, and my color pencils are by my elbow as well (although I’m really not using them as much as I’d thought I would).

Frankly, most of the first half of Romans zooms right over my head.  Paul gets into some pretty heavy theology there, and while the first two chapters are vividly accessible to me, only bits and pieces grab me from the beginning of Chapter 3 into Chapter 8.  I’m trying to use those bits and pieces, and a general sense of background as I know it, to construct a clearer sense of Paul’s teaching.  After all, this is an epistle — a letter! It’s not supposed to be his dissertation! even though that’s sometimes how he feels.

Paul was writing to the Romans, here, and it seems so apt that this epistle begins the succession of all his works. Rome ruled the world, politically, militarily, and culturally. It was a place of tremendous sophistication. It was also a hotbed of depravity.

Amazing that a core group of Romans rejected the strength, the power, the luxuries and excesses of Roman culture to become followers of that still-obscure cult, Christianity.

In fact, this is the whole point of the Pauline epistles: to teach a formerly pagan people how to adapt to the radically different paradigm of Christian discipleship.

More soon. — God bless you.

 

Draw close to Christ

So much upheaval, and the acceleration is alarming! – Planned Parenthood, gay marriage, Islamic terrorism on the rise, public school crises, personal violence  . . .  crises in the Church . . .

It’s easy to take our eyes off God, but now, more than ever, we must draw close to Him.  All the indignation in the world, all the activism, means nothing if we aren’t close to the Source of our passion.  There must be time each day, out of the craziness, which we devote to being still and quiet with the Holy Trinity. Time for prayer, time for Lectio, time for entering a personal sanctuary where nothing matters at all but His sweet Presence.

 

Drifting by the Sloth of Disobedience

From the Prologue of the Rule of Benedict:

. . . The labor of obedience will bring you back to him from whom you had drifted through the sloth of disobedience. (v. 2)

It’s a funny thing about drifting:  you’re just there, and you get distracted by new ideas, new distractions, new activities . . . and you finally look up and — Whoa! where am I?  I was over there, but now I’m over here! How did that happen?

It’s particularly easy to do in our walk with the Lord.  A day of skipping prayer makes it easy to skip again, and before you know it, weeks and even months have gone by . . . and you’ve lost your bearings and you aren’t really even sure when or how it happened.

Sloth. Laziness. Slack off in the habits of discipleship and before you know it you’ve been carried way on downstream and not in the direction you’d intended to go.

So stick with it.  If you’ve been lazy, if you’ve been careless, renew your resolve and turn the “ear of your heart” to sound instruction.

Strange friendships

This is Lucky.  Lucky is actually my cousins’ dog, but he has decided, by some mysterious process known only to dogs, that I am one of his chosen people.  He regularly comes to visit me.  If there is a thunderstorm and my cousins are not at home, he will show up at my door about the time I hear the first rumbles in the distance.  I do not understand this process, or why he has decided that I am one of his own.  But I am very glad he has done so.

Photo on 5-9-15 at 7.08 PM #2

Fall Reflections

The huge arctic blast that everyobraadfordpearne has been talking about has reached my area.  Lows last night hit nearly 20F, and today’s highs will be in the low 40s.  These are temperatures we normally see in January, not November!

I admit I don’t care for the shorter days of winter, but the quality of sunlight this time of year is so golden and so magical, it almost makes up for the brevity of days.

The leaves have been beautiful.  It seemed to take a long time for them to turn, but I don’t know when I’ve ever seen a more beautiful display. The peak never lasts long enough to suit, so I’ve tried to absorb every moment of the splendor that I possibly can. Driving late in the afternoon, earlier this week, along a stretch of country road, it seemed the red-leafed Bradford pears, the dogwoods, the crepe myrtles were ablaze!  And the golden maples, sycamores, and ash were lit from within themselves.

So often people give only a cursory bit of attention to such details, but this beauty has really fed my soul.  I pray I may never be too busy, or too low in spirits, or too distracted, to be able to appreciate such generous, even extravagant, indications of God’s Love.

 

 

Preparing for Winter: Remembering Grandmother’s House

The first wave of really severe arctic air has hit my part of the East Coast.  Today feels more like January than mid-November. It looks as if it’s going to be a long, bitterly cold winter.

I love summer, when I can stay comfortable with lots of fans moving air around, even when it’s hot.  And I love that my electricity bills drop to around $55 for the month. But I hate being cold.  I hate being cold, and I hate power bills that have jumped as high as $300 for a single month, during our worst weather.

I hadn’t thought about it for years, but suddenly I had a memory of my grandparents’ house – one of those wonderful, vivid memories that momentarily transports one back in time to a much-loved place.  Papa and Mama lived in what had been built to be a practical small farmhouse just outside their town’s business district.  It was probably a hundred years old, built before electricity had been introduced to the area.  There were fireplaces in the living room and both bedrooms, as well as the flue opening for a wood stove in the kitchen.

When electricity was added, an electric furnace was installed under the house.  A hot air return was cut out of the floor of the hallway. In summer, this ugly grated opening was covered with a throw rug, but in winter it stood uncovered and dangerously hot, belching heated air into the house.  (Mama always fretted over the danger of children tripping and falling on top of that grate, and being burned.  I did it once — Not Fun.) To save money — that generation was frugal — they shut off the unused living room, and Mama also shut off her bedroom. That room was like ice!!!  I don’t know how she could stand to dress in there, twice a day!

But Papa’s room, which also doubled as a den, was always toasty warm with a small fire burning in the one fireplace in the house that hadn’t been sealed off.  He and Mama would get through their daily work quickly, in the mornings, then they would settle into that one heated room, he with his newspaper and magazines, and she with her kitting or crocheting or tatting or sewing . . .

So I’m going to give it a try. I’ve moved my office into what was formerly the master bedroom, and it’s large enough I can tuck a couple extra chairs in.  I can warm it with a space heater while I’m working in here, and keep the rest of the house a bit cooler.  Maybe I’ll even get more work done, this winter.