Monday, July 21, 2014

God's Grandeur (Gerard Manley Hopkins)

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed.  Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge, & shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lies the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs –
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast & with ah! bright wings.

--Gerard Manley Hopkins

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sunday Gospel Reflection, July 20, 2014: You who have the care of all...

What do we know about God and God’s kingdom?

Our two Old Testament readings this weekend remind us of the many attributes of God experienced by God’s people throughout the ages.  The Book of Wisdom tells us that God is merciful and just, and thus, life-giving to those who know him.  God is mighty, wielding power when necessary to convert disbelievers, but God is also lenient and patient and caring.  And we, too, are called to be like God, just and kind in our turn.  Psalm 86 reminds us that God is good and forgiving, abounding in kindness, merciful and gracious, slow to anger.  Thus, if we know God, and strive to be like God, there is no room for fear, only trust and confidence, which are good ground for hope.

In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus builds on this notion of knowledge of God by teaching his disciples about God’s kingdom.  Jesus uses parables to demonstrate that knowing and believing in God, being in relationship with God (being righteous), are essential to salvation; the good seed of which he speaks are the children of the kingdom who will shine like the sun in that kingdom.  Yet it is not up to us to decide who falls into which category; again, we must simply trust and have confidence in God’s plan.  And how can we maintain that trust and confidence?  Paul suggests to the Romans that prayer is involved, prayer that relies upon the presence of the Holy Spirit within us, a Spirit whose inexpressible groanings take our prayer to a depth we can’t reach on our own.  We don’t know perfect union with God – not yet – but the Spirit does.  Transformed by the Spirit, we too can cultivate that all-important relationship with God, so that we can help to grow the kingdom (think mustard seed, or leavened bread!)… and draw ever closer to full knowledge of God.

This post is based on our Thursday Scripture class.
Image source

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Flower of Carmel

Flos Carmeli -  Flower of Carmel
In the Carmelite rite, this hymn was the Sequence for the Feast of St. Simon Stock,
and, since 1663, for the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Tradition has it that the hymn was written by St. Simon Stock himself.

FLOWER of Carmel, Tall vine blossom laden; Splendor of heaven, Childbearing yet maiden. None equals thee.  Mother so tender, Who no man didst know, On Carmel's children Thy favours bestow. Star of the Sea.  Strong stem of Jesse, Who bore one bright flower, Be ever near us And guard us each hour, who serve thee here.Purest of lilies, That flowers among thorns, Bring help to the true heart That in weakness turns and trusts in thee.  Strongest of armour, We trust in thy might: Under thy mantle, Hard press'd in the fight, we call to thee.  Our way uncertain, Surrounded by foes, Unfailing counsel You give to those who turn to thee.  O gentle Mother Who in Carmel reigns, Share with your servants That gladness you gained and now enjoy.  Hail, Gate of Heaven, With glory now crowned, Bring us to safety Where thy Son is found, true joy to see. Amen. (Alleluia.)

(In Latin:  Flos Carmeli, vitis florigera, 
Splendor cæli, virgo puerpera, singularis.
  Mater mitis sed viri nescia 
Carmelitis esto propitia, stella maris.
  Radix Iesse germinans flosculum 
Hic adesse me tibi servulum patiaris.
  Inter spinas quæ crescis lilium  
Serva puras mentes fragilium tutelaris.
  Armatura fortis pugnantium 
Furunt bella tende præsidium scapularis.
  Per incerta prudens consilium  
Per adversa iuge solatium largiaris.
  Mater dulcis Carmeli domina, 
plebem tuam reple lætitia qua bearis.  
Paradisi clavis et ianua, 
Fac nos duci quo, Mater, gloria coronaris.

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thy Word (Amy Grant)

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light onto my path... 

When I feel afraid, think I've lost my way,
Still, You're there right beside me.
Nothing will I fear as long as you are near.
Please, be with me, to the end.

I will not forget Your love for me and yet
My heart forever is wandering.
Jesus, be my guide, hold me to Your side,
And I will love you to the end.

Nothing will I fear so long as you are near.
Please, be with me, to the end.

You're the light unto my path... 
Be the light onto my path!
Video source

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fed by the Word

How often are you fed by the Word? 

Some of us can take advantage of the amazing blessing of daily Mass every morning, where we are fed both by the Word of God and by Eucharist in an on-going and sustaining way.  But if you can't avail yourself of this opportunity, you might still consider taking a few minutes of your day to read the day's readings and to reflect on them.  You can access them on the USCCB website: -- just click on the calendar for any given day, and voilà!  The Word, right at your fingertips!  Bookmark it -- better still, add it to your Bookmarks Bar, so that you have a frequent reminder to go there, and consider making it a regular part of your daily routine!

A boat like the one Jesus might have preached from, 
on the Sea of Galilee.  
Photo credit:  M. Morison.
Image source

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sunday Gospel Reflection, July 13, 2014: The one who hears the word...

Are you open to the Word of God in your life?

In our readings this Sunday, the prophet  Isaiah uses a beautiful image to embody the Word of God, namely, water sent from the heavens:  rain and snow that make the earth fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats.  God’s Word thus comes to us gently and is meant to permeate all creation, nourishing us if we are open to it, making things happen in our world, and in us, and thus achieving the end for which God sent it – an embodiment of God’s faithfulness to covenant. Psalm 65 reinforces this imagery with the portrait of a generous God who has tilled the earth, filling it with blessings:  Thus have you prepared the land, drenching its furrows, […] softening it with showers, blessing its yield.

Yet remember:  God’s Word is not 'just' Scripture, but also Jesus himself, the Word made flesh who was present at creation and continues to engage us and dwell within us today.  So when, in the parables of Matthew this week, we hear about a sower sowing seed, that seed needs God’s word to thrive, the word that is Jesus himself, the word of the kingdom whom we, as Christians, are called to hear.  Paul reminds the Romans that they have all received the firstfruits of the Spirit; they have all been redeemed, and that redemption entails a responsibility.  You must strive to be good seed, Jesus tells his disciples, sown on rich soil and nourished by the love that is Jesus himself, Jesus, the Word of God.  It is, at heart, a question of challenging ourselves to faith, making an effort to hear the word and understand it, remaining open to it, daily, so that we can be bountiful, bearing good fruit, a harvest that gives glory to God, spreading his Word, giving birth to the joy set forth in the psalm, a joy that will be complete with our full adoption in glory.

This post is based on the Thursday Scripture class.
Image source