Archive | March 2011

The Practical Catholic’s Library Vol. 1

I love books, they are tools to knowledge and wisdom, and friendship. Here at the Practical Catholic I am hoping to branch out of my niche a little bit, and books is the way to go.

The most enjoyable thing about books is the way they can shape and reshape our worldview. They’re a consolation and a forum for ideas. The following list is 4 books I am working through and one I’d like to read.

1: Most Recent Start:
Most Recently, I have picked up Covenant and Communion, by Scott Hahn on the Biblical basis of Pope Benedict XVI. It’s. Great read and I highly recommend it. It provides a well thought out and highly readable introduction to biblical Catholicism.

2: Still Want to Finish:
The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky. This book and its moving prose have been echoing around the nogging for weeks, and I’m dying to get my hands on a copy so that I can re-read the Grand Inquisitor chapter. I have very fond mempries of spiritual formation and meditation with this book.

3: Trying to Get Into:
I am really trying to get into finishing blogging through the Theology of the Body. I haven’t touched the project in a bit, and I miss it. Things have been busy, but that’s no excuse. I can’t wait to get back into the writings of Bl. John Paul II so that I can continue my moral and spiritual formation in every realm of life.

4: Lament Not Having.
I very much lament not having Systematic Theology Vol. 1-2 by Robert W. Jenson. I find myself wanting Jenson’s great and prolific writing and wishing I could browse his masterful work. What’s most interesting about Jenson to me is his defense of Orthodoxy and Tradition, especially his defense of the existence of a papacy. I really wish I had this book around to read and browse for the continual challenge and hope it presents.

5: On my Radar
10 Books Every Conservative Must Read, 4 Not to Miss and One Impostor.

I remembered seeing this book a few months ago and it caught my attention. It was the author recommendations that I remember being particularly insightful. This review caught my attention, and inspired me to put it back on the radar. Notably, Wiker discounts Ayn Rand in the book and I am very curious as to why.

In any case, that’s the library. I want to do some more of these, and maybe discuss these books with you in the future.

Be well my friends.

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A Kiss Between Heaven and Earth

Lent.

A time to return to Christ; to remember with all our hearts what goes before and calls us home.

I have few words, but I want to say that this Lent has taught me the meaning of sacrifice, and reflecting on the Annunciation and Our Lady’s yes to God, I think I can finally relate a bit, and can begin to understand with my heart why this feast is a Lenten feast.

We, my friends are bearers of a costly love.

We are the manifestation of God’s joy to share Himself with the world. The Glory of God was once a fearful thing to me in my younger days, and now it is a sign of hope, of the joy which we can share in now.

As we come to the table, we lay down our arms, our malice, our grievances, our debts, and our debtors, and in so doing, we learn to live from a new world towards the present. The present of God to us is this alternative culture that clashes with the world of death and decay we find ourselves in.

We can be surprised by joy in the midst of grief, because we know that in all things a new world is already taking form in and through us and in all creation, because God continues to reconcile all things to Himself through Jesus of Nazareth, the rejected Rabbi, the King of Glory.

We are in all things the poorest of the poor, the emptiest of the empty, but with Jesus, even the empty meaningless hopelessness of the days we sometimes face are redefined in the arms of a nail-scarred God as the greatest union we can have with the God that unites through the breaches.

We are the weak ones, the children, the ones who pray for peace and give their tunics and their coats also. We are the manifestations of the courage of God, the courage of a Love that continues to illumine our hearts and the hearts of all the world.

Let us observe our griefs with gladness, our losses with contentment, and our sorrows with joy. When we lose, we gain. Where there is emptiness, it is there that God can infill our breaches with Himself. He did so once before. Where there was no kingdom, no glory, no Israel, he created one. Where there was only death, Christ has thrown open the greatest most terrifying abyss of endless Love.

It is when we are the emptiest, when the night is the darkest, when the sorrow is the deepest, that God is there, with nail scarred hands, and grasping for crucified breath, shedding his blood abroad, with us in sorrow. The distant God is only distant because He is nearer to us than we are to our very selves.

It is a terrifying thing to find oneself in the hands of a loving God. Where our hearts are too weak to rise to Love, he shall tear us open and give us Himself until we burst, and continue to fill us to overflowing.

Love costs brokenness, let us have the courage to not spare ourselves the joys of love.

Happy Lent.

Love has Great Courage

Welcome back to the Practical Catholic.

Something that’s been tugging on my heart recently is how imperfect life is. Life has seen me ponder many a thing these past two weeks and something I keep thinking about is how Pope John Paul II once said in a series of lectures “Love has great courage and does not spare itself.” I think the thing that strikes me about this is the part where we begin to think on that and see that Love, when it is love rises to the occasion.

Since about last Friday, a term has come to mind that I think has affected me profoundly, and made me see that we’re never able to do as Pilate and wash our hands of situations. The Christian cannot wash their hands of the world, else-wise they have given themselves over to the leaven of the world. I keep reflecting on the parable of the good Samaritan and how reading it as if we are the poor beggar and Jesus is the Samaritan changes things in unimaginable ways. God comes to us, he picks us up and does not wash himself of us. God gets his hands dirty, so dirty in fact that they become pierced for us.

So too the Christian must enter into the pain of God and stand beside Christ and cast themselves into the dark chasm of the world’s pain.

I say all that to say, ethics is a big discipline in the world of today. My friends and I care about who we work for and the impact of the companies we represent on the world around us. We have come to count the cost when it comes to whom we wish to serve with our talents.

On Friday I was speaking with a friend who was looking into a film and advertising position with an oil company. My friend told me he was concerned about the impact of this company on the environment and how that might affect his morale, and his ethical place in the world.

It was then that it hit me like a ton of bricks, we all face various levels of ‘ethical overhead’. For the small business people, you know what I mean, the basic daily cost of affording to keep a business open. We all face the same thing in our lives, being that we live in a fallen world, we represent masters who are not always as virtuous, charitable or humane as we are.

There is always a cost to being in the world but not of it, and that cost is not at all easy or comfortable. But, nevertheless, it remains our responsibility to engage the world, with their currency, but on our terms. I think is what Jesus might hve meant when he said “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” He wasn’t saying…’ten percent belongs to God, 12 percent to Caesar, and the rest is yours…’I believe He was saying something closer to: “Whatever it is that Caesar wants, give it to him. But, as you do, remember God, whom you fear, and know Caesar is simply a man.”

When we enter the world we have pains, sorrows and afflictions, because life is not yet perfected. However, as we learn to share in the kingdom by paying the ethical overhead and still being virtuous, we’re furthering the cause of the kingdom. It is impossible to be a good Christian and never get your hands dirty in the crap of life.

Look at Jesus.

Love has great Courage. That’s part of the wonder of the gospel. The love of Christ, shed abroad in our hearts fills us with this same courage to never spare ourselves. Love has great courage, and it does not fear affliction on behalf of the Beloved. Love has great courage, and it is our responsibility to reflect that same courage into our hopeless world.

Anyways, my encouragement the Lenten season is, get your hands dirty, be the poor beggar who cries out ‘Son of David!’ Remember, it’s a time to come back to the heart of things. As Pope John Paul II said, “Be not Afraid!” Lent is a time for love of God and neighbor, and that love gives us hope and courage. As Oral Roberts said “Go into every person’s world,” You can’t exactly do that without scuffing up your Sunday best from time to time.

Lent With Friends

Brought to you by St. Benedict of Nursia.

St. Benedict of Nursia more often simply called St. Benedict, founder of the Benedictine Order of monks offers to his brothers a 12 step program I think all Christians can learn from. Lent is often a time for lone reflection, like Jesus in the wilderness. However, as Christians, we’re never really alone, since we’re all One in Christ. Taking a cue from MONKROCK, I think it’s important we remember that you don’t have to be a monk to live like one. So I have enlisted the help of a monk and saint for this week’s Lenten Reflection. For more information on Benedictines search around, but there’s plenty to see.

We could all use a little recovery from time to time, most especially from the damage we do to ourselves. Most churches I was in as a protestant either had or directed people to a celebrate recovery group or another 12-step sort of program.

I think we could all use some guiding light for the dangerous and ardent or dry times in our lives. I also think that since pride is the root of the Seven Deadly Sins, overcoming pride is easily the most foundational way to live the life we’re called to in Christ. Lent can be a very dry and painful season, if we neglect to sacrifice rightly. To paraphrase my girlfriend, ‘fasting is only good if we’re not already starving’. Not only that, I think in the world of today we’re haunted by culture’s constant need to redirect us towards ourselves in negative and unhealthy ways. So I think this reflection is all about community together. Keep that in mind as you read this and ponder on humility.

The Saints are our Recovery Partners

I believe the best way to find that light, is to have a guide, that guide in my life is a collection of saints whom I turn to for guidance, because they’re my Christian role models. Often, they’re monks or other persons of great holiness who draw us away from the baseness of everyday life, and call us into the future that God desires for all of us.

We know they have heard the call of God and responded in a way we can model ourselves after.

I think Catholics should read monastic texts, but not because we should follow the rules to a T. I think we should read these texts for their value in spiritual formation. The way of perfection is a universal call, we must respond accordingly, and sometimes that may mean being inspired by the saints. Looking to our brothers and sisters in the religious life can be a well-spring of inspiration and hope in troubled times. And in any case, it can help us see new ways to fulfill our original callings.

Remember, you don’t have to be a monk to live like one.

 

I do not own the rights

The Catholic 12 Step Program

Brothers, divine Scripture calls to us saying:Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted(Luke 14:11; 18:14). In saying this, therefore, it shows us that every exaltation is a kind of pride, which the Prophet indicates he has shunned, saying, Lord, my heart is not exalted; my eyes are not lifted up and I have not walked in the ways of the great nor gone after marvels beyond me (Ps 130 [131]:1). And why? If I had not a humble spirit, but were exalted instead, then you would treat me like a weaned child on it’s mothers lap (Ps 130 [131]:2).

Accordingly, brothers, if we want to reach the highest summit of humility, if we desire to attain speedily that exaltation in heaven to which we climb by the humility of this present life, then by our ascending actions we must set up that ladder on which Jacob in a dream saw angels descending and ascending (Gen 28:12). Without doubt, this descent and ascent can signify only that we descend by exaltation and ascend by humility. Now the ladder erected is our life on earth, and if we humble our hearts the Lord will raise it to heaven. We may call our body and soul the sides of this ladder, into which our divine vocation has fitted the various steps of humility and discipline as we ascend.

  • The first step of humility, then, is that a man keeps the fear of God always before his eyes (Ps 35 [36]:2) and never forgets it. He must constantly remember everything God has commanded, keeping in mind that all who despise God will burn in hell for their sins, and all who fear God have everlasting life awaiting them. While he guards himself at every moment from sins and vices of thought or tongue, of hand or foot, of self-will or bodily desire, let him recall that he is always seen by God in heaven, that his actions everywhere are in God’s sight and are reported by angels at every hour. The Prophet indicates this to us when he shows that our thoughts are always present to God, saying: God searches hearts and minds (Ps 7:10); again he says:The Lord knows the thoughts of men (Ps 93 [94]:11); likewise, From afar you know my thoughts (Ps 138 [139]:3); and The thought of man shall give you praise (Ps 75 [76]:11). That he may take care to avoid sinful thoughts, the virtuous brother must always say to himself: I shall be blameless in his sight if I guard myself from my own wickedness (Ps 17 [18]:24).Truly, we are forbidden to do our own will, for Scripture tells us: Turn away from your desires (Sir 18:30). And in the Prayer too we ask God that his will be done in us (Matt 6:10). We are rightly taught not to do our own will, since we dread what Scripture says: There are ways which men call right that in the end plunge into the depths of hell (Prov 16:25). Moreover, we fear what is said of those who ignore this:They are corrupt and have become depraved in their desires (Ps 13 [14]:1).As for the desires of the body, we must believe that God is always with us, for All my desires are known to you (Ps 37 [38]:10), as the Prophet tells the Lord. We must ten be on guard against any base desire, because death is stationed near the gateway of pleasure. For this reason Scripture warns us, Pursue not your lust (Sir 18:30).Accordingly, if the eyes of the Lord are watching the good and the wicked (Prov 15:3), if at all times the Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see whether any understand and seek God (Ps 13 [14]:2); and if every day angels assigned to us report our deeds to the Lord day and night, then, brothers, we must be vigilant every hour or, as the Prophet says in the psalm, God may observe us falling at some time into evil and so made worthless (Ps 13 [14]:2). After sparing us for a while because he is a loving father who waits for us to improve, he may tell us later, This you did, and I said nothing (Ps 49 [50]:21).
  • The second step of humility is that a man loves not his own will nor takes pleasure in the satisfaction of his desires; rather he shall imitate by his actions that saying of the Lord: I have come not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me(John 6:38). Similarly we read, “Consent merits punishment; constraint wins a crown.”
  • The third step of humility is that a man submits to his superior in all obedience for the love of God, imitating the Lord of whom the Apostle says: He become obedient even to death (Phil 2:8).
  • The fourth step of humility is that in this obedience under difficult, unfavorable, or even unjust conditions, his heart quietly embraces suffering and endures it without weakening or seeking escape. For Scripture has it: Anyone who perseveres to the end will be saved (Matt 10:22), and again, Be brave of heart and rely on the Lord (Ps 26 [27]:14). Another passage shows how the faithful must endure everything, even contradiction, for the Lord’s sake, saying in the person of those who suffer, For your sake we are put to death continually; we are regarded as sheep marked for slaughter (Rom 8:36; Ps 43 [44]:22). They are so confident in their expectation of reward from God that they continue joyfully and say, But in all this we overcome because of him who so greatly loved us (Rom 8:37). Elsewhere Scripture says: O God, you have tested us, you have led us into a snare, you have placed afflictions on our backs (Ps 65 [66]:10-11). Then, to show that we ought to be under a superior, it adds: You have placed men over our heads (Ps 65 [66]:12).
    In truth, those who are patient amid hardships and unjust treatment are fulfilling the Lord’s command: When struck on one cheek, they turn the other; when deprived of their coat, they off their cloak also; when pressed into service for one mile, they go two (Matt 5:39-41). With the Apostle Paul, they bear with false brothers, endure persecution and bless those who curse them (2 Cor 11:26; 1 Cor 4:12).
  • The fifth step of humility is that a man does not conceal from his abbot any sinful thoughts entering his heart, or any wrongs committed in secret, but confesses them humbly. Concerning this, Scripture exhorts us: Make known your way to the Lord and hope in him (Ps 36 [37]:5). And again, Confess to the Lord, for he is good; his mercy is forever (Ps 105 [106]:1; Ps 117 [118]:1). So too the Prophet: To you I have acknowledge my offense; my faults I have not concealed. I have said: Against myself I will report my faults to the Lord, and you have forgiven the wickedness of my heart (Ps 31 [32]:5).
  • The sixth step of humility is that a monk is content with the lowest and most menial treatment, and regards himself as a poor and worthless workman in whatever task he is given, saying to himself with the Prophet: I am insignificant and ignorant, no better than a beast before you, yet I am with you always (Ps 72 [73]:22-23).

  • The seventh step of humility is that a man not only admits with his tongue but is also convinced in his heart that he is inferior to all and of less value, humbling himself and saying with the Prophet: I am truly a worm, not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people (Ps 21 [22]:7). I was exalted, then I was humbled and overcome with confusion (Ps 87 [88]:16). And again, It is a blessing that you have humbled me so that I can learn your commandments (Ps 118 [119]:71, 73).
  • The eighth step of humility is that a monk does only what is endorsed by the common rule of the monastery and the example set by his superiors.
  • The ninth step of humility is that a monk controls his tongue and remains silent, not speaking unless asked a question, for Scripture warns, In a flood of words, you will not avoid sinning (Prov 10:19), and, A talkative man goes about aimlessly on earth (Ps 139 [140]:12).
  • The tenth step of humility is that he is not given to ready laughter, for it is written:Only a fool raises his voice in laughter (Sir 21:23).
  • The eleventh step of humility is that a monk speaks gently and without laughter, seriously and with becoming modesty, briefly and reasonably, but without raising his voice, as it is written: “A wise man is known by his few words.”
  • The twelfth step of humility is that a monk always manifests humility in his bearing no less than in his heart, so that it is evident at the Work of God, in the oratory, the monastery or the garden, on a journey or in the field, or anywhere else. Whether he sits, walks or stands, his head must be bowed and his eyes cast down. Judging himself always guilty on account of his sins, he should consider that he is already at the fearful judgment, and constantly say in his heart what the publican in the Gospel said with downcast eyes: Lord, I am a sinner, not worthy to look up to heaven (Luke 18:13). And with the Prophet: I am bowed down and humbled in every way (Ps 37 [38]:7-9; Ps 118 [119]:107).

The Final Word

Now, therefore, after ascending all these steps of humility, the monk will quickly arrive at that perfect love of God which casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Through this love, all that he once performed with dread, he will now begin to observe without effort, as though naturally, from habit, no longer out of fear of hell, but out of love for Christ, good habit and delight in virtue. All this the Lord will by the Holy Spirit graciously manifest in his workman now cleansed of vices and sins.

–St. Benedict of Nursia, RB 1980: The Rule of St. Benedict in English and Latin, Chapter 7

Giving up Facebook and Brussels Sprouts

Welcome back to The Practical Catholic. It’s time for a Lenten reflection blog post.

After his Baptism Jesus was driven out into the wilderness, to be tempted. He was there for 40 days.

As I near the end of my journey from Evangelical to Catholic, and near my dawn as a fully fledged Jesus-eating, bible-reading, spirituall mature, confession-saying Roman Catholic, I wanted to celebrate Lent properly. In talking with Kassie, the Secret Vatican Spy, I was inspired to take a rounded approach that focused on the pursuit of virtue.

I want to spend the 40 days of Lent focusing on the way of Jesus, the one anointed to deliver us from Sin.

The God that Jesus hearkened us to hear is a loving God, but His love desires that we should be everything He intends for Creation. Namely, God desires that we would become Christ.

Jesus is what God’s picture of our redemption looks like. From the dawn of time until now, we have seen a fallen world, a world in bondage. However, the Christ, given to us, is how God calls us to live.

That we as a culture take on the task of “giving up” sometimes tangential things, or do not use Lent as a time of offering ourselves in pursuit of virtue is sad. We have so much more to offer God, and in turn-ourselves, when we make Lent about seeking righteousness.

Lent is not a time for navel-gazing self-hatred. It’s not a time to give up things just for the fun of it. It is a time to call to mind our sins. But it is also a time to call to mind our ability to enjoin ourselves to Christ. This season, make it about Jesus, and following in the master’s footsteps.

I’d encourage all of you as I am encouraging myself, to take up the task of looking at the temptation narrative and asking the question: Where am I tempted? In what ways can I help myself avoid temptation and be delivered from evil?

That’s what’s at the heart of Lent, not just a shallow repentance that places some odds and ends along with a prison shank at the altar. Lent is about walking with Jesus, and that makes all the difference. Whether I do decide to give up brussels sprouts or not, what matters is walking with Jesus on the road less traveled.

Papa Ratzi on Baptism and Lent

Here’s a brief pre-Lenten reflection with quotes from Pope Benedict XVI’s reflections on Lent.

The Apostle to the Gentiles, in the Letter to the Philippians, expresses the meaning of the transformation that takes place through participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, pointing to its goal: that “I may come to know him and the power of his resurrection, and partake of his sufferings by being molded to the pattern of his death, striving towards the goal of resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3: 10-11). Hence, Baptism is not a rite from the past, but the encounter with Christ, which informs the entire existence of the baptized, imparting divine life and calling for sincere conversion; initiated and supported by Grace, it permits the baptized to reach the adult stature of Christ.

Baptism for Pope Benedict is the act of encountering Christ. It is a religious rite, but it is a lifestyle, it informs the way we live today it speaks through our lives and into God’s future for us. Baptism infills us with the grace to pursue Christ as we should and to take our places in Him, for Him and through Him.

In fact, the Church has always associated the Easter Vigil with the celebration of Baptism: this Sacrament realizes the great mystery in which man dies to sin, is made a sharer in the new life of the Risen Christ and receives the same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead (cf. Rm 8: 11). This free gift must always be rekindled in each one of us, and Lent offers us a path like that of the catechumenate, which, for the Christians of the early Church, just as for catechumens today, is an irreplaceable school of faith and Christian life. Truly, they live their Baptism as an act that shapes their entire existence.

We renew our baptismal promises pretty often at my parish, when we have baptisms and such, and yet…how can we forget the compelling power of the waters cleansed by the life of Christ so that we might become as He is? Lent is the pilgrim’s path for all the Church. We remember we are visitors, not aligned with any government, save the Vatican, and not aligned with the systems of power and the darkness of the world.

Lent is a time that offers candidates like me a chance to come deeper into the faith, and offers other Catholics the path to be disciples. Lent is ultimately a season for discipleship. Discipleship, as Bonhoeffer taught, and as the Church has taught for millennia, is costly.

This coming Sunday, our gospel will be a trial for us, as we will see the temptation of Our Lord. But we should do as this past Sunday encouraged us and take the Gospel and the Law to heart, so that we might have them as a sign. Then, we can have a proper meditation, so that when temptation comes, we too may answer in some form, “Man does not live on bread alone.”

My Life After Pastoring, Part II

Hey, welcome back to the Practical Catholic.

For those of you who follow the blog semi-regularly, you might know I used to be a baptist youth/associate pastor. It’s been a strange transition, from minister to layman. It’s been a road fraught with difficulties in adjustment, and sometimes uncertainty. I often miss teaching, and I often miss having people to talk to about the Faith.

Luckily, God saw my plight and has offered me a chance to do something I love yet again. My Catholic parish here in town has asked me to do youth gatherings and discipleship twice a month on Fridays. I’m very excited for this turn of events. It’s been awesome to be quiet, and still, and just catch a small vacation to collect myself. I don’t know that I’ve used the time as wisely as I should have, but nevertheless, here we are.

I think if I should have changed anything, in the months I’ve been away from service in the Church, I think i should have liked to worry less, thank God and others more, and simply rejoice that I am alive. But, here we are and everyday is an opportunity to take something good, the day which God has given us, and infill it with righteousness.

I have followed Jesus, not as wholeheartedly as I should, nor as bravely s some might see from the outside, but that’s where God’s grace comes in, and empowers me to do right. I have asked the lord to strengthen me as I prepare myself to enter his Church. I have asked one thing of God, that He might be with me, and lead me in the ways of righteousness.

Mass yesterday was great, we talked through the call of Jesus, that we should hear his words and be wise, and live them out.

This Lent, I am planning on doing a few things.

I am going to take up reading the four gospels, for spiritual formation, and as a reminder of why Christianity is so glorious to me. Jesus, after all, is the reason for my faith.

Second, I am going to make it a journey of preparation, by exercising physically, and eating well when the option is mine. Goodbye processed foods, goodbye additives, goodbye sweet, sweet, Honey-Butter Chicken Biscuit.

Third, I am going to take up laughter. I know this might sound strange, but I’m a very quiet person, and I don’t laugh nearly enough. As a child, I used to laugh all the time, nowadays, I’m far more reserved. While this is well and good for me in some ways, it restrains me in others. I am going to focus on enjoying even the difficult things in life with some sort of graciousness, and reverence, and if all else fails, a good laugh. I’ trying to take seriously Jesus’ command to us that we not worry.

Fourth, with Easter nearly upon us, I am going to take up reconciliation. I am going to make peace with my enemies, and pursue peace. I don’t mean pacifism, but peace. Between people. God orchestrates the world stage and Jesus is the Shepherd of Nations, but in my own life, where it is within my power, I shall have peace.

This fourth method of seeking virtue is going to be the hardest for me. This means putting my issues with various family members and acquaintances and friends aside, and being humble enough to forgive those indebted to me, as well as to seek the grace and forgiveness of those whom I owe.

No, this is not one of those, ‘write 50 apology letters, mail them out and hope for a response’ sort of things. But I do have one letter to write. I have  lot of people I owe apologies to.

I seek to be a peacemaker, to embody a small manifestation of God’s ultimate reconciliation of the world to Himself.

Hopefully through these things, I can be found worthy of the marks of Christ. Then shall he reside in me, and I shall make up in this earthen vessel, a treasure, what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.

Thank you for your prayer.

Eli

A Brief Hello

It’s been an interesting week of ups and downs. I’ve been super busy with work, and moving and various other things. Thank you to everyone who recently subscribed to the blog, and for the faithful readers who pop in and check to see if I’ve written anything new. You are all awesome, and I’m grateful for everything you do and for your continued friendships, readerships, and comments.

I don’t have anything super deep to share right now. I just want to say I’m excited for Lent, and cannot wait till Easter. It’s going to be awesome.

I just wanted to say hello to all of you, and let you know I’m alive and well.

I depart with this quote from Augustine who shows us that we’re never fully realized in ourselves, but only in sharing life with each other and deepening our commitments to one another in the mutual embrace of love. We cannot be beautiful unless we love. It is in sharing in the communal experience of giving ourselves out to others in love, in the offering of ourselves to another, that we shall find the beauty we were made to attain.

I leave you to think on my comments and the quote itself which is here:

“Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.” – Saint Augustine of Hippo

St. Syncletica

Imitate the Publican and you will not be condemned with the Pharisee. Choose the meekness of Moses and you will find your heart which is a rock changed into a spring of water. -St. Syncletica (Sayings of the Desert Fathers)

As we prepare for Lent, I was glad to come across this quote, which reminds us that we should be imitators of meekness, humility and God-fearing behavior. When we follow in the path of Moses, our hearts which often are as stone are rejuvenated into the rivers of living water, as John’s gospel tells us.

As the icon shows us, it is all so that we may be receptacles of the Divine flame within ourselves. If we so will, we could become all flame.

Enjoy your Lenten preparations, I know I am preparing my heart for the 40 days to come and all the endless joy that repentance and Easter bring.