SERMON: Discourse On The Day Of The Baptism Of Christ by John Chrysostom

January 20, 2019

We shall now say something about the present feast of the Baptism of Christ. Many celebrate the feastdays and know their designations, but the cause for which they were established they know not. Thus concerning this, everyone knows that the present feast is called Theophany; but what this is, and whether it be one thing or another, they know not. And this is shameful every year to celebrate the feastday and not know its meaning. First of all therefore, it is necessary to say that there is not one Theophany, but two: the one actual, which already has occurred, and the second in the future, which will happen with glory at the end of the world. About this one and about the other you will hear today from Paul, who in conversing with Titus, [...]

POETRY: A Sonnet For 27th December—The Feast Of St. John by Malcolm Guite

December 27, 2018

This is the gospel of the primal light, The first beginning, and the fruitful end, The soaring glory of an eagle’s flight, The quiet touch of a beloved friend. This is the gospel of our transformation, Water to wine and grain to living bread, Blindness to sight and sorrow to elation, And Lazarus himself back from the dead! This is the gospel of all inner meaning, The heart of heaven opened to the earth, A gentle friend on Jesus’s bosom leaning, And Nicodemus offered a new birth. No need to search the heavens high above, Come close with John, and feel the pulse of [...]

CHRISTMAS REFLECTION: Signs Of A Kingdom Of God Are Among Us by Frederick Denison Maurice

December 27, 2018

From a sermon on St. John the Evangelist I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven, while the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 8:11-12) This is Saint John’s Day.  We have read from the Apocalypse words that are beautiful commemorations of it.  They tell us how the Apostle himself wished his contemporaries to think of him.  He had borne witness to the Word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ.  He was their brother and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ. But “the heirs of the kingdom,” so the text goes, “will be thrown into [...]

POETRY: St. Stephen’s Day by John Keble

December 26, 2018

As rays around the source of light Stream upward ere he glow in sight, And watching by his future flight Set the clear heavens on fire; So on the King of Martyrs wait Three chosen bands, in royal state, And all Earth owns, of good and great, Is gather’d in that choir. One presses on, and welcomes death: One calmly yields his willing breath, Nor slow, nor hurrying, but in faith Content to die or live: And some, the darlings of their Lord, Play smiling with the flame and sword, And, ere they speak, to His sure word Unconscious witness give. Foremost and nearest to His throne, By perfect robes of triumph known, And likest Him in look and tone, The holy Stephen kneels, With steadfast gaze, as when the sky Flew open to his fainting eye, [...]

CHRISTMAS REFLECTION: How May I Bear Witness? by Frederick Denison

December 26, 2018

From a sermon for St. Stephen’s Day Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. (Acts 7:56) When Stephen said, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God,” that truth which he had been proclaiming presented itself to him just as actually as any visible thing presents itself to the eye.  It was not a doctrine of the incarnation that he acknowledged in that hour – a mere doctrine would have stood him in little stead.  It was a person who stood before him, a person on whom he might call, in whom he might trust.  He was sure it was life and substance he was in contact with.  It was a Son of Man, the fellow worker and fellow-sufferer with every human [...]

ADVENT MEDITATION: In Defense Of Humility by Bernard of Clairvaux

November 28, 2018

From Annunciation Dialogue “Behold,” Mary said, “the handmaid of the Lord. Be it unto me according to your word.” The virtue of humility is always found closely associated with divine grace: for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6) Mary replies then with humility, that the dwelling of grace may be prepared.  How sublime is this humility, which is incapable of yielding to the weight of honors, or of being rendered proud by them!  The mother of God is chosen, and she declares herself his handmaid. It is in truth a mark of no ordinary humility that even when so great an honor is given her, she does not forget to be humble.  It is no great thing to be humble when in a low condition; but humility in one [...]

PRAYER: A Devout Prayer (2) by Sir Thomas More

November 12, 2018

A prayer made after Sir More was condemned to die and before he was put to death. Almighty God, have mercy on N. and N., and on all that bear me evil will, and would me harm, and their faults and mine together, by such easy, tender, merciful means, as thine infinite wisdom best can devise, vouchsafe to amend and redress, and make us saved souls in Heaven together where we may ever live and love together with thee and thy blessed saints, O glorious Trinity, for the bitter passion of our sweet Savior Christ. O my sweet Savior Christ, which in thine undeserved love towards mankind so kindly would suffer the painful death of the cross, suffer me not to be cold nor lukewarm in love again towards thee. Glorious God, give me grace to amend my [...]

POETRY: On The Feast Of Saint John The Evangelist by David Brendan Hopes

September 26, 2018

The solstice moon rides within a ring of ice gleaming blue silver, blood silver, silver, mist silver. The snow is blue; cobalt silver on the moon-struck mountain. In the corner of the porch roof, against the moon, a spider spins a warped web. She is dazed with cold. Hunger. She stops. She starts again, spinning badly, past her time, utterly hopeless and beyond help. I cannot decide if this is beautiful or horrible. Either way, it cannot be looked at very long. The ice halo spreads and pales, swallowing the sky. In a dream the spider came down off the moonlit porch, to my bedside. I tried to explain it to her. This is the world. Many spirits of many kinds dwell in it and do not permit it to be pure. What called you? Tell me what you [...]

POETRY: Fire And St. Francis by Andrew Hudgins

July 25, 2018

1. As he sat eating by the fire one night a spark was lifted on a wisp of air and set on the folds of cloth that wrapped his groin. But when he felt the heat so near his flesh he wouldn’t raise his hands against the fire or let his worried friends extinguish it. You mustn’t harm the flames or spoil their play, he said to them. Don’t these bright creatures have as much a right as I to be happy? For seconds his disciples stared as the flames climbed up the cloth and nearer to his skin. And he, without a qualm, turned to his bowl. At last their knowledge of the world prevailed. As one, they leaped on him and held him down, smothering the fire with dirt and what was left of the soup that had been their evening meal. When he returned, [...]

PRAYER: God’s Mercy by Catherine of Siena

July 23, 2018

Merciful Lord, it does not surprise me that you forget completely the sins of those who repent.  I am not surprised that you remain faithful to those who hate and revile you.  The mercy which pours forth from you fills the whole world. It was by your mercy that we were created, and by your mercy that you redeemed us by sending your Son.  Your mercy is the light in which sinners find you and good people come back to you.  Your mercy is everywhere, even in the depths of hell where you offer to forgive the tortured souls.  Your justice is constantly tempered with mercy, so you refuse to punish us as we deserve.  O mad lover!  It was not enough for you to take on our humanity; you had to die for us as well. [...]

POETRY: Teresa by Richard Wilbur

July 11, 2018

After the sun’s eclipse, The brighter angel and the spear which drew A bridal outcry from her open lips, She could not prove it true, Nor think at first of any means to test By what she had been wedded or possessed. Not all cries were the same; there was an island in mythology Called by the very vowels of her name Where vagrants of the sea, Changed by a wand, were made to squeal and cry As heavy captives in a witch’s sty. The proof came soon and plain: Visions were true which quickened her to run God’s barefoot errands in the rocks of Spain Beneath its beating sun, And lock the O of ecstasy within The tempered consonant of [...]

POETRY: Francis Meets A Leper by David Citino

July 5, 2018

He heard the bell toll, erratic in a palsied hand, and smelled the goatish scent before he saw the figure moving in mist on the road to Assisi, a traveler gloved and shod, as was the law, to hide the sores, a man’s inhumanity, missing fingers and toes, and tried to unmask the face, slack muscles showing nothing but astonishment, lower lids keeping eyes open always to our providential decay, flesh soft and thick as rotten wood. Francis saw in bleary eyes, near to him as his mother’s as she loved him, a brother, then someone dearer, wrapped as he’d seen others in his father’s cloth that first had profited English shepherds and the weavers of Ghent, a skin bleached white as bone, a flower blazing in snow, so close to [...]

POETRY: A Brigid’s Girdle by Seamus Heaney

June 30, 2018

for Adele Last time I wrote I wrote from a rustic table Under magnolias in South Carolina As blossoms fell on me, and a white gable As clean-lined as the prow of a white liner Bisected sunlight in the sunlit yard. I was glad of the early heat and the first quiet I’d had for weeks. I heard the mocking bird And a delicious, articulate Flight of small plinkings from a dulcimer Like feminine rhymes migrating to the north Where you faced the music and the ache of summer And earth’s foreknowledge gathered in the earth. Now it’s St. Brigid’s Day and the first snowdrop In County Wicklow, and this a Brigid’s Girdle I’m plaiting for you, an airy fairy hoop (Like one of those old crinolines they’d trindle), [...]

PRAYER: Ascension by Bernard of Clairvaux

May 14, 2018

To complete your seamless robe, and so to complete our faith, you ascended through the air into the heavens, before the very eyes of the apostles.  In this way you showed that you are Lord of all, and are the fulfillment of all creation.  Thus from that moment every human and every living creature should bow at your name.  And, in the eyes of faith, we can see that all creation proclaims your greatness. [...]

PRAYER: Easter by Bernard of Clairvaux

April 2, 2018

Lord, you have passed over into new life, and you now invite us to pass over also.  In these past days we have grieved at your suffering and mourned at your death.  We have given ourselves over to repentance and prayer, to abstinence and gravity.  Now at Easter you tell us that we have died to sin.  Yet, if this is true, how can we remain on Earth?  How can we pass over to your risen life, while we are still in this world?  Will we not be just as meddlesome, just as lazy, just as selfish as before?  Will we not still be bad-tempered and stubborn, enmeshed in all the vices of the past?  We pray that as we pass over with you, our faces will never look back.  Instead, let us, like you, make Heaven on Earth. [...]

SEVEN LAST WORDS OF CHRIST: Seventh Word, Witness—Margaret Mary Alacoque by Charles M. Murphy

March 31, 2018

From Eucharistic Adoration It is finished. (John 19:30) Bernard Haring, the Redemptorist priest who sought to renew moral theology by delivering it from the categories of canon law to the language of the gospel, wrote this regarding the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus inspired by the life and witness of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque: History shows that devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a great love of the Eucharist are inseparable.  Jesus, who gave us this memorial of his sacrificial and atoning love, is now present in the Eucharist to bestow on us the wonderful pledge of the love of his heart.  It is especially in the Eucharist that he offers us an exchange of heart, conforming our hearts to his heart. The life of Margaret [...]

SERMON: A Sermon Of Saint Augustine On The Gospel For The Fourth Sunday In Lent

March 11, 2018

Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. When Jesus then lift up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, “Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” (And this he said to prove him; for he himself knew what he would do.) Philip answered him, “Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, “There is a lad here, which [...]

PRAYER: Lent by Bernard of Clairvaux

March 5, 2018

Let me hold fast to you, beautiful Lord, whom the angels themselves yearn to look upon. Wherever you go, I will follow you. If you pass through fire, I will not flinch, I fear no evil when you are with me. You carry my griefs, because you grieve for my sake. You passed through the narrow doorway from death to life, to make it wide enough for all to follow. Nothing can ever now separate me from your love. [...]

SERMON: On Lent I by Leo the Great

February 18, 2018

I. The benefits of abstinence shown by the example of the Hebrews In former days, when the people of the Hebrews and all the tribes of Israel were oppressed for their scandalous sins by the grievous tyranny of the Philistines, in order that they might be able to overcome their enemies, as the sacred story declares, they restored their powers of mind and body by the injunction of a fast. For they understood that they had deserved that hard and wretched subjection for their neglect of God’s commands, and evil ways, and that it was in vain for them to strive with arms unless they had first withstood their sin. Therefore abstaining from food and drink, they applied the discipline of strict correction to themselves, and in order to [...]

POETRY: Station Island XI by Seamus Heaney / John of the Cross

February 13, 2018

As if the prisms of the kaleidoscope I plunged once in a butt of muddied water Surfaced like a marvelous lightship And out of its silted crystals a monk’s face That had spoken years ago from behind a grille Spoke again about the need and chance To salvage everything, to re-envisage The zenith and glimpsed jewels of any gift Mistakenly abased …. What came to nothing could always be replenished. “Read poems as prayers,” he said, “and for your penance Translate me something by Juan de la Cruz.” Returned from Spain to our chapped wilderness, His consonants aspirate, his forehead shining, He had made me feel there was nothing to confess. Now his sandaled passage stirred me on to this: How well I know that fountain, filling, running, [...]

SERMON: On The Gospel [Matthew 11:2] by Hilary of Potiers

December 17, 2017

Now when John had heard in prison the works of Christ: sending two of his disciples, he said to him, “Art thou he that is to come or look we for another?”  Did John in his prison not know the Lord?  Did so great a prophet know not his God?  But as Precursor he had foretold that he was to come; as Prophet he had recognized him standing in their midst; as Confessor he had venerated him before men.  Did error creep into so profound and varied knowledge?  The subsequent testimony of the Lord concerning John does not permit us to think so.  Nor can we believe that the light of the Holy Spirit was denied him in prison, when the Light of that same Power was to be given to the imprisoned apostles. Why John sent to Christ But a clearer [...]

SERMON: On The Advent Of Our Lord And Its Six Circumstances by Bernard of Clairvaux

December 3, 2017

Today we celebrate the beginning of Advent. The name of this great annual commemoration is sufficiently familiar to us; its meaning may not be so well known. When the unhappy children of Eve had abandoned the pursuit of things true and salutary, they gave themselves up to the search for those that are fleeting and perishable. To whom shall we liken the men of this generation, or to what shall we compare them, seeing they are unable to tear themselves from Earthly and carnal consolations, or disentangle their minds from such trammels? They resemble the shipwrecked who are in danger of being overwhelmed by the waters, and who may be seen catching eagerly at whatever they first grasp, how frail whatsoever it may be. And if anyone strive to [...]

WISDOM STORY: Providence by Nathalie Leone

October 12, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom A priest had shut himself in his cell to write a sermon on divine providence. Suddenly he heard an explosion.  The dam that protected the small town had just given way and the river burst its banks in a roar of flood water that swept along everything in its path. The priest, distraught, was about to give way to panic when he caught sight of his sermon on divine providence.  He pulled himself together and calmed down. The village was flooded and most people stayed cloistered indoors.  Some of them, however, did venture out, waist-deep in water, in search of help.  A rescue boat soon arrived under the presbytery windows. The rowers called out to the priest, gesticulating to him. “No, no,” he said to [...]

WISDOM STORY: Prayers Heard! by Nathalie Leone

October 5, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom Two men in conversation were seated on the edge of a pubic fountain whose fine jet of water splashed them gently. The first man said: “When I need a favor, either for myself or others, I ask for it on my knees, behaving with the good Lord as I would with a merchant who seeks only to dispense his surplus knowledge.  And I pray, ask, and beg.” “Are your prayers always answered?” asked the other man, skeptical. “Always.  Either the favor is granted or I feel my will merge in such a manner with God’s will that, at that very moment, I wish for everything he wishes [...]

PRAYER: A Hermit’s Desire attributed to Saint Kevin

September 18, 2017

I wish, ancient and eternal King, to live in a hidden hut in the wilderness. A narrow blue stream beside it, and a clear pool for washing away my sins by the grace of the Holy Spirit. A beautiful wood all around, where birds of every kind of voice can grow up and find shelter. Facing southwards to catch the sun, with fertile soil around it suitable for every kind of plant. And virtuous young men to join me, humble and eager to serve you. Twelve young men – three fours, four threes, two sixes, six pairs – willing to do every kind of work. A lovely church, with a white linen cloth over the altar, a home for you from Heaven. A Bible surrounded by four candles, one for each of the gospels. A special hut in which to gather for meals, [...]

MYSTICISM: A Homegrown Mystic—Catherine of Siena by John Michael Talbot

September 13, 2017

From The Way of Mystics Giacomo Benicasa was a practical, hard-working man who made his living as a wool dyer in Siena’s bustling textile market.  His wife, Lapa, was a simple woman who was well acquainted with heartbreak.  She gave birth to twenty-five children, only twelve of whom survived infancy.  All Lapa wanted for Catherine – her next-to-last child – was a normal childhood, an early marriage to a good husband, and a happy, predictable life. But Catherine had other plans, none of them “normal” (for example, she lavished care on lepers and plague victims) or predictable (for example, after sensing God wanted her to live a more simple life, she began giving away her family’s possessions).  Her life was [...]

POETRY: Inebriated Soul In Love by Catherine of Siena

September 13, 2017

Then that soul, even as one drunk, appeared to be beside herself, parted from her bodily senses due to union with her Creator. She raised her spiritual eyes, her nous, and gazed into eternal Truth. As she now came to know the Truth, she knew herself to be in love with it. She said aloud: O high eternal Goodness, O my God! What am I—the wretched one—to You, O soaring, everlasting Father, that You have shown Your truth to me? that You have shown the snares the evil one has set? the snares my own selfish heart lays out for me? What moved in You to do such things for us? Love alone, love unreturned, You have poured out Your love without my answering love! O fire of love Who burns [...]

PRAYER: A Pilgrim’s Plea attributed to Saint Brendan

September 11, 2017

Shall I abandon, O King of mysteries, the soft comforts of home? Shall I turn my back on my native land, and my face towards the sea? Shall I put myself wholly at your mercy, without silver, without a horse, without fame and honor? Shall I throw myself wholly on you, without sword and shield, without food and drink, without a bed to lie on? Shall I say farewell to my beautiful land, placing myself under your yoke? Shall I pour out my heart to you, confessing my manifold sins and begging forgiveness, tears streaming down my cheeks? Shall I leave the prints of my knees on the sandy beach, a record of my final prayer in my native land? Shall I then suffer every kind of wound that the sea can inflict? Shall I take my tiny coracle across the [...]

WISDOM STORY: Bernard and Francis by Nathalie Leone

September 7, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom Francis had just withdrawn from the world and had embraced complete poverty. But the people of Assisi, his friends, his parents, and his acquaintances of long standing all thought him mad. They held him in contempt. When he went into town, people jostled him, threw nuts at him, and scolded him. They insulted him to his face and hurled at him all abuse they could think of. Francis bore everything, without getting angry. He never even answered them. Now a man was observing him from the window of his house. He was surprised to see him put up with such scorn so readily. “Either he really is completely mad,” he said to himself, “or he has received special grace from God.” This man’s name was Bernard [...]