“He who carries God in his heart bears heaven with him wherever he goes.”
St. Ignatius of Loyola
God would have given us something greater if he had something greater than Himself.
St. John Vianney
“Persevere in labors that lead to salvation.
Always be busy in spiritual actions.
In this way, no matter how often the enemy of our souls approaches,
no matter how many times he may try to come near us,
he’ll find our hearts closed and armed against him.”
St. Cyprian of Carthage
“Christ Himself is our mouth through which we speak to the Father,
our eye through which we see the Father, our right hand through which we
offer to the Father.
Without His intercession neither we nor all the saints have anything with God.”
All sorts of things are running through our thoughts today.
Some of us are pleased yet hesitant.
Some of us are sad and resentful.
But what we need to remember is that there is One who is so much greater than
all of this mess.
If you’ve been a regular guest here,
then you already know that I am a big fan of the series The Chosen
It is solely a crowdfunded production.
Since I was afforded the opportunity to watch season 1 due to the giving of someone
who came before me…
I have opted to do the same, I have paid it forward, twice.
Here are just two of the “thank yous” I received…
So on election day…I have found that these types of words transcend the silliness of man…
words of anger, divisiveness, and bickering…all of which cast a pall over the
ways of this world.
So today, the day after, no matter how things turned out for you or me…be it good or bad …
remember, there is One who is so much greater than any of this mess…
Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32 NIV
“Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could
never get from reading books on astronomy.
These pure and spontaneous pleasures are ‘patches of Godlight’
in the woods of our experience.”
I think we need to go to the woods.
Because we need a diversion from ourselves.
I am oh so weary from the vitriol and hatred that is eclipsing our senses.
We need to be reminded that we are truly small and that there is a world out there that is
actually much greater than ourselves.
We actually need to be put back in the food chain in order to grasp
the bigger picture—-
however sadly, we tend to run in the realm of human predation…so what can I say.
Let’s get out of our cities, our lockdowns, our narrowmindedness.
Let’s get out from under the bickering and hatred racing around our lives.
Let’s go to the woods…
But before we actually get into the woods, we’ve got to park the truck.
We’ve got to start walking…
and here’s what we see before we even get into the woods…
We see a lone downy turkey feather covered in the morning dew…
Before we venture much further, before we leave the rutted red dusty path and diverge
into the thick stand of trees and vines, we see a carpet of dew-covered netted webs…
More tomorrow when we finally venture readily and willingly deep into another world…
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
The greatest test of whether the holiness we profess to seek or to attain
is truth and life will be whether it produces an increasing humility in us.
In man, humility is the one thing needed to allow God’s holiness to dwell
in him and shine through him.
The chief mark of counterfeit holiness is lack of humility.
The holiest will be the humblest.
“lacking an adequate grasp on the holiness of God…”
As I was reading a fellow bloggers post yesterday morning, this particular line jumped out at me.
It was a profound notion……
Four seemingly simple words…yet when combined…massively powerful…
Chances are that if you’ve bought into the sweeping wash of secularism that is
currently blanketing most of the landscape….
then you do not have an adequate grasp on the holiness of God…
because chances are…
you don’t give much credence to the concept of either holiness or God.
We’ll assume that you certainly know and understand words like ‘adequate’…
and we’ll even wager that you probably don’t much like a word like adequate
because you actually prefer things like big, grand, plentiful, extra, great,
more, bar none, superior….
you don’t like just plain adequate.
You also, hopefully know the word grasp…as in…you get it, you understand it,
you comprehend it…
Yet because you’re a secularist and because secularists don’t like to do
the ‘grasping’ of anything too far and beyond…
preferring rather such notions of a mass acceptance of what is simply sitting right
in front of one’s face, words like grasp don’t go far in your limited view.
And as for matters of holiness and God…well…
those concepts are most likely not much on your radar either…
Because that’s how secularism is…
it separates God from everything else…as in…
He’s over there and we and all our stuff are over here…
as in separate, as in secular…..
For secularism has no need of the notion of holiness nor of God because those things
speak of things and beings and places that are ‘other than’…
as in something or someone who is elsewhere and beyond….as in Greater than…
Secularism likes things that are here, now and readily available and easily grasped…
as in less than actually…simple and easy…
Not being bothered with that which is greater than….
because cutting out the greater than makes things easier to handle…
Yet you should know that you can’t cut God out of anything because
He is in and of everything…
As that my friend is more than of an adequate grasp of the holiness of God…
The knowledge that He is of and in absolutely everything…
as in there can be no separation…
no secularization where God is concerned…
because He and His being permeates absolutely everything and therefore
it is impossible to cut Him out of that which He belongs….
and thus…we now have an adequate grasp on the holiness of God……
For thus says the high and lofty One
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit,
to revive the spirit of the humble,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
Whoa, babe (just a little bit)
A little respect (just a little bit)
I get tired (just a little bit)
Keep on tryin’ (just a little bit)
You’re runnin’ out of foolin’ (just a little bit)
And I ain’t lyin’ (just a little bit)
(re, re, re, re) ‘spect
RESPECT Lyrics, Aretha Franklin
“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
“Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be.”
It seems as if it was Aretha Franklin, the grand dame of RB music, who almost single handedly made the word respect famous as she belted out her famous 1967 chart topping hit…leaving the indelible mark of not only how to spell the word, but how to shout it out with great soulful authority…
“All I’m askin’ is for a little respect…”
To give and to get respect seems to be an age old issue of man’s…
Throughout our history on this planet, we’ve painstakingly and even joyously divided ourselves into the the hierarchy of social casts and levels. We’ve attempted to afford but only a few the esteemed pleasure of immeasurable respect, leaving countless others left out and run over in its wake….
Creating the haves and the have nots…and somehow mistakenly bestowing the have nots with little to no level of respect.
Both the late Pope John Paul II and the Blessed Mother Teresa each worked tirelessly to bring the concept of respect as well as the respect for life for each and every individual to the forefront of their earthly ministries as each one aptly noted that we currently live in a “culture of death”…
“Today this proclamation is especially pressing because of the extraordinary increase and gravity of threats to the life of individuals and peoples, especially where life is weak and defenceless. In addition to the ancient scourges of poverty, hunger, endemic diseases, violence and war, new threats are emerging on an alarmingly vast scale.”
“God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living. For he has created all things that they might exist … God created man for incorruption, and made him in the image of his own eternity, but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his party experience it” (Wis 1:13-14; 2:23-24).
Pope John Paul II
Nakedness is not only for a piece of clothing; nakedness is lack of human dignity, and also that beautiful virtue of purity, and lack of that respect for each other.
We have placed prestige and wealth, occupations and education, materialism and gain on the side of the respected.
Allowing intellect, knowledge, popularity and talents to stand as the signal markers,
marking the where and the with whom the markers of respect should be placed.
And yet all we have to do these days is listen to any sort of altercation and one will immediately hear the defensive cry of “I had to hit him, shoot him, kill him, beat him, curse him….because he disrespected me”
“because he disrespected me”…..
This coming from a society that uses the F word as casually as they use the word “hello”
This coming from a society that tolerates music boasting the using of women as mere objects of sexual satisfaction then discarding them as a waded up piece of trash.
This coming from a society that will casually take a life in an act of rage over the disagreement as to who got to a parking space first.
This coming from a society that is rife with hate groups, mistrust and a glaring and abject wealth of, dare I say it, blatant disrespect…
Disrespect for authority, for life, for color, for worship, for age, for having, for not having…
A society and culture that screams tolerance, yet is anything but and is full to the brim with a selfish disrespect.
It has become almost laughable that our society bends over backwards to be so uttlerly neutered on the issue of political correctness yet won’t tolerate, let alone respect, a single individual who dares to hold a counter opinion.
And yet this all runs counter to God’s command and His exhortation of how we are to live.
We have even disrespected the Omnipotent God of all creation
We’ve removed His sovereignty, His place above us..
We’ve removed the capital G replacing it with a small little g, tossing Him into a box along with all our other little demigods.
We’ve lost our respect for one another, for ourselves and for our Creator—
lowering our place on this earth to perhaps that which is lower than most animals.
And yet we continue to tolerate the disrespect….all because we don’t want to “call anyone out” preferring to appear overtly full of respect by saying and doing absolutely nothing…because we’ve basically neutered ourselves.
How odd then is it that God, the Creator of all that was, all that is and all that will be would come to us in the form of something so small, helpless and unassuming as a mere baby and even as one who is depicted as a defenseless and hapless lamb…
The Greater taking the form of the lesser…
the very least of the less…
A baby and a lamb…each being something we more or less disregard, something that isn’t afforded much thought, much respect…things not looked at twice as far as power, might and bravado are concerned yet still He, the Great I AM, comes to us in these less than states…
Maybe, just maybe there’s a lesson or two buried in there someplace about respecting and looking toward and finding the greater in the lesser turning our whole thought process about respecting and admiring upside down….
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
A son honors his father, and servants their master. If then I am a father, where is the honor due me? And if I am a master, where is the respect due me? says the Lord of hosts to you…
Since reasoning, or inference, the principal subject of logic, is an operation which usually takes place by means of words, and in complicated cases can take place in no other way: those who have not a thorough insight into both the signification and purpose of words, will be under chances, amounting almost to certainty, of reasoning or inferring incorrectly.
John Stuart Mill
The idea of a God we infer from our experimental dependence on something superior to ourselves in wisdom, power and goodness, which we call God; our senses discover to us the works of God which we call nature, and which is a manifest demonstration of his invisible essence. Thus it is from the works of nature that we deduce the knowledge of a God, and not because we have, or can have any immediate knowledge of, or revelation from him.
Limitation collides with the Limitless
Try as it must, it cannot describe that which is beyond description.
The human mind labors to find the words…
even just one word…
but it fails.
An Entity that is without time, without form, without definition, without words…
Efforts are made to contain, to explain and to chain…
To detect, to dissect as well as inspect
Yet to do so has proven impossible.
Is IT greater than?
Of course IT is…
The ego must see, must touch, must measure….
in order to claim, to believe and to state that something is indeed real.
The masses are left to merely inject, project, and to infer…
their own words…
their own thoughts…
their own meanings…
as well as
their own feelings…
Making IT forever less than…
less than IT should ever be…
“Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all.
1 Chronicles 29:11
“Only in God is found safety
When my enemy pursues me
Only in God is found glory
When I am found meek and found lowly. . .”
Lyrics Only in God by John Michael Talbot
based on Psalm 62
How often do we as Christians, who are in this world yet not of the world, find ourselves in need of a source of strength, of a place of refuge or even a sanctuary of solace?
Most likely we have a church body, or a bible study, or a group of committed friends who are often our spiritual mainstay—the meat and potatoes of one’s faith.
Yet, for some of us, that is not the case and we may find that we are more alone than not, cast adrift as it were, floundering on the seas of the tempest of temptation and struggle.
No matter where we may find ourselves along our Christian journey, chances are we will find that there are those moments and times when we need, when we desperately long, to retreat inwards.
We yearn and need to seek a time of quiet—-a time for reflection, a time of prayer and a time of meditation.
For me it has been those stolen interludes, here and there over the years, of solitude when I could lose myself within the music of John Michael Talbot. Ever since I was a senior in high school, I have been drawn to the songs–to the lyrics of this rather unassuming musician.
A man whose soothing voice, as he is accompanied usually by only his guitar, would / could worshipfully sing the psalms.
There has always been a pinpoint accuracy to his simple songs of worship, adoration, imploring and lamentation. . .
Reverence, honor, genuineness and honesty.
Singing the psalms, as I imagine them to have been sung by a lone cloistered monk or nun in his or her cell, alone, lost in deep thought before both Savior and God.
I have written a previous post about John Michael Talbot and his music, as well as the impact it has had on my own spiritual journey.
John Michael Talbot, who is more monk than anything else, is a Third Order Franciscan who lives, along with his wife, in a Catholic Community– The Little Portion Hermitage in Berryville, Arkansas.
An odd place to find a cloistered community of both lay and religious folk alike who live in a place named for St Francis’s original cloistered community in Assisi, Italy—yet it is a comfort knowing that there are such places that exist in this ever maddening world of ours.
Psalm 62 has always been one of my favorite psalms as it speaks so rawly to my own inner struggles with the unseen God of my Salvation.
It is truly in Him where I find my rest.
It is to Him I run when the world has had its way with me–leaving me battered and bruised.
A stronghold and anchor in which I may tether myself as I wait out the storms of life.
He is always greater, while I am reminded that I am indeed, forever smaller.
Yet even in all of His greatness, He not only sees and notices, but He actually knows. . .me.
And it is during such times that I am often reminded, rightfully so, that I am indeed less than.
That I can separate myself from the world—a world that so often puffs up its inhabitants steeping them in arrogance and self-centeredness.
It is difficult, if not impossible, for those who feel their worldly importance to ever humble
themselves to the Creator of all of Creation.
John Michael Talbot’s simple yet powerful rendition of Psalm 62 has always helped to recenter me—as it has always had a way of bringing me back to the beautifully complicated relationship I have with the Creator of all of Creation. . .
Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
How long will you assault me?
Would all of you throw me down—
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
Surely they intend to topple me
from my lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.
Do not trust in extortion
or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.
One thing God has spoken,
two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
according to what they have done.”