—– Augustine of Hippo
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I know that I am not ready for what lies ahead.
I have heard what you have asked
and understand what this means.
I realize where this journey will end and
I must be prepared for my own culpability.
Now, as I walk through these days,
I know the excitement I feel will fade to fear.
The fear will become doubt.
May the fears of tonight be vanquished at dawn.
May the doubts of today be the answered questions of tomorrow.
And may my own deeds be forgiven by a mercy
I will never understand.
10And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. 12So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. 14Therefore, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols.
A man who gives way to his passions is like a man who is shot at by an enemy, catches the arrow in his hands, and then plunges it into his own heart. A man who is resisting his passions is like a man who is shot at by an enemy, and although the arrow hits him, it does not seriously wound him because he is wearing a breastplate. But the man who is uprooting his passions is like a man who is shot at by an enemy, but who strikes the arrow and shatters it or turns it back into his enemy’s heart.
——— Abba Dorotheos
Prayer Starter — Lord help me to gain victory of my passions.
But what I would like to say is that the spiritual life is a life in which you gradually learn to listen to a voice that says something else, that says, “You are the beloved and on you my favor rests.”… I want you to hear that voice. It is not a very loud voice because it is an intimate voice. It comes from a very deep place. It is soft and gentle. I want you to gradually hear that voice. We both have to hear that voice and to claim for ourselves that that voice speaks the truth, our truth. It tells us who we are. That is where the spiritual life starts – by claiming the voice that calls us the beloved.
———Henri J. M. Nouwen
I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am
actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You
does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me,
and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.
—— Thomas Merton
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
——C. S. Lewis
No matter how much we try, it is impossible to love without vulnerability. Lewis points this out with his usual bold clarity. The reality is that all love relationships involve some hurt and pain. The high divorce rate and the overall lack of commitment that plagues our society are outward signs of our inward fear of the hurt that comes with love. We have tried very hard to establish a society that loves without vulnerability, and we have failed.
The ultimate example of love with vulnerability is Jesus. Over and over again He tried to tell His disciples of the cross He must bear. More than once He hesitated at His own mission, but in the end He submitted to the Father. How many times must it have occurred to Him how much easier it would be to just forget the cross and move on? Just let man get what he deserves. In the same way, it is easy for us not to love. Why should we? It just hurts! Like Jesus, we are compelled to love and with that love to give ourselves to others. That is our Christian service.
The practical problem of Christian politics is not that of drawing up schemes for a Christian society, but that of living as innocently as we can with unbelieving fellow-subjects under unbelieving rulers who will never be perfectly wise and good and who will sometimes be very wicked and very foolish.
—C. S. Lewis
I was answered in spiritual understanding, and it was said: What, do you wish to know your Lord’s meaning in this thing? Know it well, love was his meaning. Who reveals it to you? Love. What did he reveal you? Love. Why does he reveal it to you? For Love…. So I was taught that love is our Lord’s meaning.
—–Julian of Norwich
Love is His meaning. There so many things sent our way by God that are meant for love. Julian urges us to see God’s love in our circumstances, and find that love in all we experience.
“Love, and do what you will. If you keep silence, do it out of love. If you cry out, do it out of love. If you refrain from punishing, do it out of love.”
Augustine speaks of silence as a form of love. I propose that in our silence , we show the ultimate love to others. Our world is a place of “getting it straight,” but Augustine tells us that is not always the answer. Jesus says, “Turn the other cheek,” and by doing so we have expressed true Christianity. The challenge is to know when to speak and when to refrain from speaking. The twenty-first century world tells us that every doubt must be addressed, every question must be answered, every offense must be rectified, but that is not always so. Might we hear the word of the great Church Father, and know that silence is, at times, pure love. Think about it.
‘A mother came here with her little child, possessed with a devil, who said to his mother, “Get up, woman, let us go away from here.” She replied, “I cannot walk any further,” and the little child said to her, “I will carry you myself.” I wondered at the devil’s tricks and how eager he was to make them flee.’
——-sayings of the Desert Fathers
I would be the first to say that this story is a myth, but we must be reminded that myths and legends put forth great truths. The actuality of this story is that evil can appear to be helpful. If all that was destructive in our society would hurt and destroy, then most of us would never go in that direction. Sin, evil comes in various disguises that fool us into thinking that it is the proper thing to do. The wisdom of the fathers is that evil will do anything to get away from good. It will promise success, fame and fortune but it will always flee from what is good and right.