POETRY: On The Mystery Of The Incarnation by Denise Levertov

December 13, 2018

It’s when we face for a moment the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know the taint in our own selves, that awe cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart: not to a flower, not to a dolphin, to no innocent form but to this creature vainly sure it and no other is god-like, God (out of compassion for our ugly failure to evolve) entrusts, as guest, as brother, the [...]

ADVENT MEDITATION: Meditation by Friedrich Wilhelm Foerster

November 27, 2018

From Christ and the Human Life Above the portal of the ancient cathedral in Lisbon is found a marvelous portrayal of the Blessed Mother and her child.  Mary, the image of purity and divine grace, is not bent over the child: she is looking far, far away, as if she were contemplating the deepest meaning of the Incarnation of the divine Spirit and as if she were surveying the immeasurable consequences of the event upon which shone the star of Bethlehem.  What is that deepest meaning?  It becomes clear to us when we hear from the streets the cries of newspaper vendors calling out the latest news.  This latest news is basically age old and constantly repeated: the cold or hot war of everyone against everyone else.  Its simple cause lies [...]

POETRY: A Word Made Flesh Is Seldom by Emily Dickinson

September 10, 2017

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. (John 1:14) A Word made Flesh is seldom And tremblingly partook Nor then perhaps reported But have I not mistook Each one of us has tasted With ecstasies of stealth The very food debated To our specific strength— A Word that breathes distinctly Has not the power to die Cohesive as the Spirit It may expire if He— “Made Flesh and dwelt among us” Could condescension be Like this consent of Language This loved [...]

POETRY: Words, by Nikolai Gumilyov

December 21, 2016

In ancient days, when God cast down his gaze Upon the newly created world, Words could stop the sun, Words could shatter cities. Eagles didn’t spread their wings, And stars huddled, horror-stricken, round the moon, Whenever words, like pink flame, Drifted through the heights. But lower down in life came numbers, Like domestic, subjugated cattle; Clever number can convey All shades of meaning. The gray, old sage, who had transcended good and evil And subdued them to his will, Had not the nerve to risk a sound, So, with his staff, he traced a number in the sand. But we’ve forgotten that only words Stay radiant among earthly troubles, And in the Gospel of St. John It does say that word is God. We have set their limits At the [...]

STATIONS OF THE NATIVITY: Zechariah by Raymond Chapman

November 29, 2016

From Stations of the Nativity: Meditations on the Incarnation of Christ Before the Stations Almighty God, whose blessed Son took our human nature so that we might regain our lost innocence and be restored to the divine image that was disfigured by sin, grant that as we meditate on the mystery of his humanity we may share the glory of his divinity, who lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen. A hymn may be sung: the familiar Christmas hymns tell of the wonder of the Incarnation and the following is particularly suitable (click on hymn title to be directed to the YouTube video of its performance): A Great and Mighty Wonder 1: Zechariah V: We adore thee O Christ and we bless [...]

HOLINESS: Holiness And The Two Loves by Evelyn Underhill

March 9, 2015

From Concerning the Inner Life This is not mere pious fluff.  This is a terribly practical job; the only way in which we can contribute to the bringing in of the Kingdom of God.  Humanitarian politics will not do it.  Theological restatement will not do it.  Holiness will do it.  And for this growth towards holiness, it seems that it is needful to practice, and practice together, both that genuine peaceful recollection in which the soul tastes, and really knows that the Lord is sweet, inwardly abiding in His stillness and peace; and also the suffering, effort, and tension required of us unstable human creatures, if we are to maintain that interior state and use it for the good of other men.  The ideal is so rich, that in its [...]

EVELYN UNDERHILL THROUGH LENT: The Holiness Of Things by Evelyn Underhill

March 4, 2015

From The School of Charity The incarnation means that the Eternal God enters our common human life with all the energy of His creative love, to transform it, to exhibit to us its richness, its unguessed significance; speaking our language, and showing us His secret beauty on our own scale. Thus the spiritual life does not begin in an arrogant attempt at some peculiar kind of other-worldliness, a rejection of ordinary experience.  It begins in the humble recognition that human things can be very holy, full of God; whereas high-minded speculations about His nature need not be holy at all.  Since all life is engulfed in Him, He can reach out to us anywhere and at any level.  The depth and richness of His Eternal Being are unknown to us. [...]

POETRY: Incarnation by Lynn Ungar

December 24, 2013

The trees have finally shaken off their cloak of leaves, redrawn themselves more sternly against the sky. I confess I have coveted this casting off of flesh, have wished myself all line and form, all God. I confess that I am caught by the story of Christmas, by the pronouncement of the Spirit upon Mary’s plain flesh. What right did the angel have to come to her with the news of that unprovided, unimaginable birth? What right had God to take on flesh so out of season? When Mary lay gasping in water and blood that was of her body but not her own did she choose one gleaming, antiseptic star to carry her through the night? The flesh has so few choices, the angels, perhaps, none. The trees will shake themselves and wait for spring. The [...]

LENT: Second Sunday in Lent, by Henri J. M. Nouwen

February 24, 2013

From Show Me The Way He was still speaking when suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and suddenly from the cloud there came a voice which said, “This is my son, the beloved; he enjoys my favor.  Listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5) When we break bread together, we reveal to each other the real story of Christ’s life and our lives in him.  Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his friends.  He did so when he saw a hungry crowd and felt compassion for them (Matthew 14:19; 15:36); he did it on the evening before his death when he wanted to say farewell (Matthew 26:26); he did so when he made himself known to the two disciples whom he met on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:30).  And ever since his [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Fourth Station — Jesus Meets His Mother, by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin

February 23, 2013

From The Journey to Peace Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “this child is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed – and you yourself shall be pierced with a sword – so that the thoughts of many hearts may be laid bare. (Luke 2:34-35) Mary is a Woman of Strength and Courage One cannot really understand our Christian faith unless one accepts and appreciates the Incarnation.  The pivotal point of our faith is the fact that God redeemed us by becoming one of us.  God’s son, Jesus, took his flesh from the Virgin Mary, and he redeemed us through his humanity: It was through his Passion, death, and resurrection that he reconciled us with his father.  As Paul told the [...]

CHRISTMAS MEDITATION: The Grand Miracle by C. S. Lewis

December 28, 2012

Supposing you had before you a manuscript of some great work, either a symphony or a novel.  There then comes to you a person, saying, “Here is a new bit of the manuscript that I found; it is the central passage of that symphony, or the central chapter of that novel.  The text is incomplete without it.  I have got the missing passage which is really the center of the whole work.” The only thing you could do would be to put this new piece of the manuscript in that central position, and then see how it reflected on the whole of the rest of the work.  If it constantly brought out new meanings from the whole of the rest of the work, if it made you notice things in the rest of the work which you had not noticed before, then I think you [...]

CHRISTMAS MEDITATION: The Mystery by Saint John Chrysostom

December 25, 2012

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:13-14) I behold a new and wondrous mystery.  My ears resound to the shepherds’ song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn.  The angels sing.  The archangels blend their voice in harmony.  The cherubim hymn their joyful praise.  The seraphim exalt his glory.  All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on Earth, and man in Heaven.  He who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised up. Bethlehem this day resembles Heaven; hearing from the stars [...]

PRAYER: Novena For Advent, With Associated Prayers

December 3, 2012

From Treasury of Novenas Advent Novena Father, all-powerful and ever-living God, I give you thanks through Jesus Christ, our lord. When he humbled himself to come among us as a man, he fulfilled the plan you formed long ago and opened for us the way to salvation. Now I watch for the day, hoping that the salvation promised us will be mine, when Christ our Lord will come again in his glory.  His future coming was proclaimed by all the prophets. The virgin mother bore him in her womb with love beyond all telling. John the Baptist was his herald and made him known when at last he came. In his love he has filled us with joy as we prepare to celebrate his birth. When he comes, may he find me watching in prayer, my heart filled with wonder and [...]