Monthly Archives: October 2017

November Thoughts

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Good and kind God, if  only we could be what we hope to be through you.  In this life and the next, you ask so little and give so much to those who love you

Hoping in you and loving you, let us endure everything and give thanks for everything that befalls us, since everything can bring us to salvation.

Meanwhile, we commend ourselves to you and those who have reached the place of rest before us, walking the same road as we do.

Lord and Creator of all, especially of our human family,
You are our God and Father,
Ruler of your children,
Lord of life and death,
guide and benefactor of our souls.

You fashion and transform all things in due time through your creative Word,
According to your deep wisdom and providence,receive those who have gone ahead in our journey from this life.

Receive us too when our time comes, after guiding us through the years, as long as it good for us.
Receive us prepared by fear of you, yet not troubled, nor shrinking back on the day of death, like those who love this world too much.

Instead, may we set out eagerly for that everlasting and blessed life which is in Christ Jesus.
To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen

Saint Gregory Nazianzen, Bishop.

Morning Thoughts: Rip Tide

by Howard Hain

 

Matisse Bather 1909 MoMA

Henri Matisse, “Bather”, Cavalière, summer 1909 (MoMA)

 

What are we to do when the mighty ocean sucks us out to sea?

We are told that we shouldn’t resist, that we should let it take us into the deep—trusting in the bigger force at hand—trusting that the immutable current will win the day, that the overarching tide will eventually send us back to shore.

And in the meantime?

Tread water. Conserve energy. Keep eyes on heaven above.


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at http://www.howardhain.com

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

twitter.com/HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, becoming an email subscriber (drop-down menu at top of page), or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.


Web Link: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Henri Matisse, “Bather”, Cavalière, summer 1909

 

About Suffering


“In America, there is education for success but no education for suffering.” Ross Douthat wrote in the New York Times today. There’s no education to bear the suffering we have or deal with the suffering of others.

We’re told we can achieve anything we set our minds to and surmount any hardship that comes our way. We filter out the misery around us, Douhat says, with the filters of political party, race, social status.

Douthat confessed that while reading a book by one of his political adversaries, a book in which the man described his experience of sickness and other hardships, he realized he never saw that dimension in him. He was only someone to argue with.

Tragic moments like the shootings in Las Vegas and the storms in Puerto Rico are temporary reminders of suffering, but we quickly forget and turn to something else.

St. Paul of the Cross saw the Passion of Jesus as a book to learn about life and how to live. It seems the Passionists have a mission today, as a recent letter of Father Joachim Rego reminded us, to offer a remedy to society today with “no education for suffering.”

Saints Simon and Jude

Simon Rubens

St. Jude LaTourSaints Simon and Jude, whose feast we celebrate October 28, are mentioned only a few times in the New Testament list of apostles,  tenth and eleventh respectively. (Mark 3,13-19, Luke 6,12-16)

Simon is called  `the Zealot,’ either because he was zealous for the Jewish law or because he was a member of the Zealot party, which in the time of Jesus sought to overthrow Roman domination by force.

Some of Jesus’ followers,  the Gospels indicate, were hardly pacifists. Peter was ready to use his sword in the garden of Gethsemani when the temple guards came to seize Jesus, and James and John told Jesus to call down fire from heaven on the hostile Samaritans whom they met on their journey to Jerusalem.

Simon, therefore, may thought of revolution when he answered Jesus’ call .

Jude, called `Thaddeus’ to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot, may be the brother of James, the son of Alphaeus, some interpreters of the Gospel say. If that’s so, he’s also a relative of Jesus. He may be the author of the Epistle of Jude in the New Testament.

Early Christian traditions – all difficult to prove historically – locate the ministry of these apostles in places as far apart as Britain and Persia; one important legend from 3rd century Syria says they were apostles to Syria. If so, we ask their intercession for that troubled place today.

Knowing little  about  Simon and Jude may be a good thing, because then we have to look to their mission to know them –they were apostles.

The mission of the apostles was to follow Jesus. “ ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ Jesus says in the Gospel of John. He also said “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.”

God made his will known to the apostles  in due time. They didn’t decide what to do and where to go by themselves. They knew God’s will day by day, as we do.  So often, it was unexpected, and perhaps not what they planned.

“Your will be done,” we say in the Lord’s Prayer. That’s an apostle’s prayer. We try to make it our prayer too.

Hummingbird and Passionflowers

by Howard Hain

 

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Martin Johnson Heade, “Hummingbird and Passionflowers” (ca. 1875-85) (The Met)

 

The delicate little bird that resides within each of us.

It hops to and fro. It stands startlingly still.

Very often we are the very ones who chase it away.

But it doesn’t fly far.

Just to the closest branch, that’s just beyond our reach.

And it looks back at us, as if to ask, “Why are you afraid?”

The tiny head of a tiny bird, slightly cocked to the side—a question mark floats from its beak.

It longs to return, to live within us, to build a nest, to raise its young.

But it doesn’t rush back.

No, it waits.

It waits for us to ask for it to return.

It’s a patient creature, that tiny bird.

One may be tempted to say it’s not very smart, but that’s not it at all.

It’s simple. It’s holy. It knows who it is. It’s not afraid of the fall.


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at http://www.howardhain.com 

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

twitter.com/HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, becoming an email subscriber (drop-down menu at top of page), or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.


Web Link: The Met Museum. Martin Johnson Heade, “Hummingbird and Passionflowers” (ca. 1875-85)

 

An Unpeaceable Kingdom

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” Luke 12,49-53

Most of us don’t want to live in the house our Lord describes in today’s gospel, where fathers fight with their sons, sons with their fathers; where mothers fight with their daughters, daughters with their mothers.”

Not a nice house to live in.

Same way with a world on fire. A little fire is all right, but a world on fire? Too much.

We’d rather live in a world Isaiah describes: a holy mountain where the lion and the lamb lie down together and a child can put his hand into a snake hole and not get bit. A peaceable kingdom.

But maybe the situation Jesus describes is a form of the cross he endured. Maybe it’s the cross he asks us to endure today: a world on fire with strife, confusion and misunderstanding. Can the cross take the form of confusion and misunderstanding? It’s hard to live in a world where things are not clear and hard to understand.

Maybe that’s the cross we have to carry today.