Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Listening to Tradition, William of St. Thierry

Leaving a LightImage by h.koppdelaney via Flickr
Consider, brethren, the circumstances of your own calling. Where is the wise man among you? Where is the scribe? Where is the philosopher of this world? Although there are among you some wise men it is by the means of simple men that he added the wise to your ranks, he who of old subjected the kings and the philosophers of this world to himself by means of fishermen.
William of St. Thierry, The Golden Epistle
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, April 23, 2010

Listening to Tradition, St. John Climacus

Repentance is the renewal of baptism. Repentance is a contract with God for a second life. A penitent is a buyer of humility. Repentance is constant distrust of bodily comfort. Repentance is self-condemning reflection, and carefree self-care. Repentance is the daughter of hope and the renunciation of despair. A penitent is an undisgraced convict. Repentance is reconciliation with the Lord by the practice of good deeds contrary to the sins. Repentance is purification of conscience. Repentance is the voluntary endurance of all afflictions. A penitent is the inflicter of his own punishments. Repentance is a mighty persecution of the stomach, and a striking of the soul into vigorous awareness.

St. John Climacus

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Another sign of spring! One of the few areas in our yard that isn't on top of solid granite.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I Guess Spring is Here

I guess spring is upon us; I received the following email yesterday concerning bear activity on my cul-de-sac at neighbor’s houses over the last weekend.

Yes, the bears are back. Mama and the three cubs. They were behind S’s two or three days ago, enjoying the bird feeders next door. Then they raided the W’s freezer to have some bagels for breakfast. ( Ed had gone to run an errand and left the garage door up). And they took the bagels into the back yard to have a bath with their bagels.

They visited my garage night before last – about 8:30 PM – I had left the garbage can out even though the lid was tied down. Didn’t phase them a bit.

Anyway, Ed thought it a good idea to set up a phone call list, and thus you have it.

And the D’s saw a mt [mountain] lion in the back yard a couple of weeks ago.

Oh, If you want to see the bears – leave some food in the driveway!!!!!!!!!!!!. Just kidding of course.

Never leave a garbage can out anywhere in bear season.

The mother bear in question was a near full time resident of the neighborhood last year, I may have posted a picture of her and two of her cubs, if not, it's included here. Just another sign that spring has finally begun to sprung.

On that note, we cooked out a couple of steaks on Sunday, the first time we were able to do so this year. The ice cream truck that makes weekly rounds in our area also appeared for the first time this year. The thing plays a variety of rather odd music that blares all over the place and is quite a piercing noise. It made me think back to my youth when we received daily visits from the Good Humor man. 

The great difference is, which must be some sort of sign of the times, is that the Good Humor man announced his daily visit by ringing bells which were affixed to the front of his truck. It was quiet but still effective. We always knew when that truck was in the neighborhood, even without the aid of electronic amplification. We learned to listen for it. 
It’s amazing what good things can happen when we learn to be quiet and to listen.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Listening to Tradition, St. Cyril of Jerusalem

O strange and inconceivable thing! We did not really die, we were not really buried, we were not really crucified and raised again, but our imitation was but a figure, while our salvation is in  reality. Christ was actually crucified, and actually buried, and truly rose again; and all these things have been vouchsafed to us, that we, by imitation communicating in His sufferings, might gain salvation in reality. O surpassing loving-kindness! Christ received the nails in His undefiled hands and feet, and endured anguish; while to me without suffering or toil, by the fellowship of His pain He vouchsafed salvation.

                               St. Cyril of Jerusalem, On the Christian Sacraments.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Listening to Tradition, William of St. Thierry

Yet, brethren, let all exaltation be far from the opinion you have of yourselves, from your littleness and lowliness, from one your mouths. For exalted thoughts are death and it is easy for one who sees himself perched on high to grow dizzy and be in mortal danger. Give another name to your profession, inscribe your work with another title.

                                                                        William of St. Thierry, The Golden Epistle

Monday, April 12, 2010

Living a Lie

The Vision of St Bernard, by Fra Bartolommeo, ...Image via Wikipedia

 The sorrows and the hopes of our time undoubtedly stem from material causes, economic and technical factors which play an essential role in the course of human history, but even more profoundly they stem from the ideas, the drama in which the spirit is involved, the invisible forces which arise and develop in our minds and hearts. History is not a mechanical unfolding of events into the midst of which man is simply placed like a stranger. Human history is human in its very essence; it is the history of our own being, of that miserable flesh, subject to all the servitudes imposed by nature and by its own weakness, which is, however, inhabited and enlightened by the spirit and endowed with the dangerous privilege of freedom.

Jacques Maritain, The Range of Reason

I suppose it’s a sign of age that nowadays my most interesting experiences often come from visits to the doctor’s office or a clinic of some sort. I made one of those visits for a blood test last week and, while waiting for the local vampires to draw blood, noticed a new sign on the wall. It was a primer for parents bringing young children in for blood tests on how to deal with their fear. Most of it was innocuous enough, don’t tell the kid it won’t hurt, try holding their hand during the test, if he (she, or it, or whatever the current PC term for the third person singular pronoun is these days) is a teenager, perhaps leaving the room while the test is being performed in order to make them feel a little more adult. The usual, more common sense suggestions were all listed.

Yet, I wondered how many parents these days have no idea of the proper way to deal with their children who face even minor difficulties. Are parents now complete morons who need to be guided by professionals in every aspect of life? I wondered if there are too many such professionals floating around who could find better things to do. 

However, it was the final paragraph of this professional notice that really caught my eye. It listed 3 “don’ts,” the last of which was the most interesting – “No matter how they acted, tell (him, her, it) that you’re proud of (him, her, it).”

I have to agree with Maritain that we are certainly subject to all the servitudes and weaknesses of our miserable flesh, and often display these weaknesses in public for all to see. That sign was a case in point. The thing seems to be these days that we are unwilling and unable to face the truth about ourselves and those close to us. When I was growing up, if I were taken to the Doctor and acted like the little brat I often was, in front of strangers no less, my father would have made sure I understood his displeasure. Acting like spoiled brat was not to be tolerated. It shouldn’t be tolerated today.

The sign in the clinic encourages parents to teach their children that their immediate, selfish desires, the avoidance of discomfort or inconvenience of any kind, are more important than courageously and honestly facing even minor difficulties. If it is a greater good to undergo a little pain or discomfort to ensure better health, isn’t it better to teach the child that facing such things with determination, if not courage, is better than to seek the easy way out at this moment? Isn’t that what a truly human life is about? I have to wonder how children raised this way will deal with real pain and tragedy. They will not have the inner resources available to face such things. We risk having them learn that life is nothing more than the avoidance of trouble, and therefore meaningless and unbearable.

Benedict wanted his monks to live in humility, which is simply facing and accepting the truth about ourselves and our situation. Father Michael Casey writes, 

Bernard of Clairvaux clearly affirms that humility is grounded on truth: within oneself, in one’s relations with others, and with regard to God. This is, perhaps, a more positive way of approaching humility, and one which enables us to appreciate its importance. In such a perspective, “humility” connotes a fundamental concordance with the reality of one’s nature.

One reality of our nature is pain. The glory of our nature is enlightenment by the spirit, enabling us to deal with that pain nobly and truly, thereby attaining a fully human, meaningful life. I can’t understand why we would want to avoid that.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Listening to Tradition, St. John Chrysostom

The highest point of philosophy is to be both wise and simple; this is the angelic life.

John Chrysostom

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Listening to Tradition, Tuesday, April 6, 2010

“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”  St. Augustine

Friday, April 2, 2010

Listening to Tradition, Friday, April 2, 2010

There are, and therefore there were, many who come forward in the name of Jesus and teach both to speak and act impious and blasphemous things. And we name these people after the men from whom each doctrine and opinion had its origin … We have nothing in common [with these men] since we know them to be atheists, ungodly, unrighteous, and sinful; confessors of Jesus in name only rather than worshipers of him. (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 35)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Holy Thursday(Songs of Innocence)

'Twas on a Holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean,
The children walking two & two, in red & blue & green,
Grey-headed beadles walk'd before, with wands as white as snow,
Till into the high dome of Paul's they like Thames' waters flow.

O what a multitude they seem'd, these flowers of London town!
Seated in companies they sit with radiance all their own.
The hum of multitudes was there, but multitudes of lambs,
Thousands of little boys & girls raising their innocent hands.

Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song,
Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of heaven among.
Beneath them sit the aged men, wise guardians of the poor;
Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door.

William Blake