October 19, 2002

For Those Who Doubt Yet

For Those Who Doubt Yet Seek

A wonderful reflection by Robert Herrick, one of my very favorite poets.

To Find God
Robert Herrick

WEIGH me the fire ; or canst thou find
A way to measure out the wind ;
Distinguish all those floods that are
Mix'd in that watery theatre ;
And taste thou them as saltless there
As in their channel first they were.
Tell me the people that do keep
Within the kingdoms of the deep ;
Or fetch me back that cloud again,
Beshiver'd into seeds of rain ;
Tell me the motes, dust, sands, and spears
Of corn, when summer shakes his ears ;
Show me that world of stars, and whence
They noiseless spill their influence :
This if thou canst, then show me Him
That rides the glorious cherubim.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:55 AM | Comments (0)

A Different Kind of Poem

A different kind of offering:

Shimmering Ridge

They tore down the firetower on Shimmering Ridge,
or so my grandmother told me last night.
Somehow, I can't imagine it.

She said some person bought the land,
thought the tower a threat
to children (more likely he thought it
a place to attract visitors--and rightfully so).

From the height of the tower
(even though you could not get
into the grey painted house itself,
you could stand on a landing
just below it and look)

what you would see...
it's hard to say,
the ridge changed in a hour
so in a day, month or year,
a thousand, a million pictures of what
is and what is to come, what was,
and what will be again.

So he tore it down.

Every Shimmering Ridge has its tower
and children have climbed them for ages.
When I went, I could see the ghostly
guards in green who chased children
away from the dangerous heights,
the perilous, life-changing sights.

But, when it closed down
parents were still there,
underneath, telling their children
to be careful
to take it easy
the platform is high,
they might fall.

And, of course, it never occurred
to the children that they might fall too.
No, they would drift, a softest
flailing drift and land
as autumn leaves at its base.

The tower held no terror
for those whose eyes were set on
the Shimmering Ridge,
no fear for those who fell
into the rich foliage of fall.

And now, it is no more,
but must always be, a way of
seeing beyond sight, a way of
being beyond mere construction.

The firetower is no more
and stands still on the ridge,
looking out as it always did,
shimmering with the ridge itself.

© 2002 Steven Riddle

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)

Book Group Discussion--Angela Elwell Hunt--The

Book Group Discussion--Angela Elwell Hunt--The Immortal

Blogging today approximately normal, although I have two meetings. The first is our Catholic Reading Group, and we're discussing today an interesting little book by Angela Elwell Hunt titled The Immortal.

The novel is a nice piece of fiction rather better written than most of the rest of what I have read in the same "genre" (Christian Fiction). Because the main character is an agnostic or non-practicing Christian of some sort we don't get bludgeoned to death with religion until the middle to end of the book, and even there it is somewhat lighter than its compatriots.

The story centers around the legend of the Wandering Jew and the advent of the Antichrist. Naturally, in a book of this type, we get heaping tablespoons of literal interpretation of Daniel and Revelations centered around ludicrous numerology and other literal understandings of the texts. But once again, it's all in good fun, AND it is considerably better written than the multi-dreadful "Left Behind" series that I had eventually to go to abridged books on tape simply to tolerate. (The story elements are fascinating, the writing execrable).

Ms. Hunt's main character Claudia is a witness-screener whose job it is to "read people" and help select jury members most likely to acquit a given defendant. She is approached by representatives of the Unione Globale, or some such, to help in their personnel department which means working in Rome for about six months. In this course of this time she meets "The Wandering Jew," who, in fact is a Roman (something not surprising for a fundamentalist novelist wishing to remove deplorable strains of anti-Semitism that go with the legend. A laudable motive, but I'm always a bit uneasy about too great a change--this one works.) He was in fact Porter for Pontius Pilate and present at our Lord's Via Dolorosa. Along this way, he struck Jesus, and Jesus "cursed" him to walking the Earth--"You see me now, but you will live until you see me clearly."

This man wants a job as a translator of Santos Davide Justus (note 666 in the name--a dead give away, and to her credit, a red herring--although the real antichrist is a man somewhat predictably named Synn). Our wanderer wishes to do away with him before he establishes the novo ordo seculorum which will herald the beginning of the time of tribulations.

Enough plot summary. It is a reasonably well-written, very interesting book, with a few flaws. One of them being that in the city of Rome our heroine stumbles into the local Baptist church to achieve redemption. That said, to our author's credit, I did not find traces of the overt anti-Catholicism that seems to plague the "Left Behind" books. So she chooses what is familiar to her for her heroine's epiphany--I think that's probably understandable.

Overall, if you're interested in this genre, the book is worth your time and effort. The writer did her research and produced a nice, interesting, readable novel. Personally, I would have loved more stories of the Wanderer, but alas, that would have been a different book, and perhaps not quite so suspenseful and maybe not even as readable as this.

For light reading, beachtime fun, mountain retreat time-passer, or simply relief from the burden of reading this blog and its endless commentary on the new Apostolic Letter (hopefully more to come today) I would recommend this book highly. Not Catholic, but it does provide an interesting window into Fundamentalist (particularly Baptist) thought and practice.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:57 AM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2002

For those who read French

For those who read French
This lovely piece. While I read French I dare not compose in it--the offense to native French ears would probably precipitate an international crisis.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 06:41 PM | Comments (0)

Unaccustomedly Large Friday Traffic Okay,

Okay, my site meters are off the scale for a Friday. Usually we are slumping toward the weekend, but not today.

I decided to do some careful investigation to determine the source of this phenomenon, and whatduhyaknow? I found the source. No one source is sending people my way, it must be some other phenomenon. I call it the LAZYBONES principle. You see, it turns out that very few of the blogs I normally visit had posted for Friday as of 12:00. Thus all of the traffic that would normally be drained off into normal, happier channels ends up in my blog. I am happy, but never have I seen so many silent people trudging through so gloomily, desperately searching for fodder for mind and soul. For some tidbit, no matter how small with just (as Pooh would have it) a smackeral of interest.

So I hereby declare that everyone who is listed in my left-hand column who did not post as of noon on Friday (with the exception of the Clergy, because this is my blog and I can be arbitrary any way I like) is a Lazybones. I don't know what this means or what its consequences are, but I am certain that they are VERY serious. In the words of John the Baptist, "Repent." And "Rend your hearts, not your garments." You have left literally tens of readers without recourse, they have been forced to my blog and my endless maunderings over the new Rosary Letter. Aren't you ashamed of yourselves? No, I don't want to hear those usual excuses--having a life, other things to do--all blogsters have a responsibility to the huge mass of readers out there. So, I will be watching, please avoid future ratings of Lazybones, or some action will have to be taken. Something dire, something portentous. Perhaps I will have to post from an incredibly lengthy set of meditations on Medieval mystical poetry, written in the York or Kent dialect (the meditations I mean, not the poetry--although this probably is too.) Please do not force my hand!

Posted by Steven Riddle at 04:48 PM | Comments (0)

The Kairos Protocol

Do yourself a favor go to Kairos's site and read the entry "The Kairos Protocol" (direct linking a little cranky this morning). Good advice for all of us, though I don't find myself getting too passionate about most things. However, occasionally, I will run across a person or two who will insist that Jacobean Rhetoric is not the end-all be-all of prose and poetry--even though he is supposedly a member in good standing of the Glorious 17th century Poets Society. No, I don't carry a grudge or long remember even the most trifling slight to my favourites, or see red or speak harshly.. . . I don't need the protocol, why ever would you ask?

Posted by Steven Riddle at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

Translations of Anselm, Nicholas of

Translations of Anselm, Nicholas of Cusa, and Hugh of Balma

Glancing through the On-Line Books page, I came upon reference to this site run by a certain Professor Hopkins. As best I can determine, the works are copyrighted, but appear to be few to use. I cannot speak to the accuracy of the translations, but given my rusty Latin and the difficulty of the works involved, any translation is welcome. In addition the works are available in PDF format (unfortunate for those of us with PDAs, but otherwise very nice). The list of works follows:

Anselm of Canterbury, English translations of:
Translators' Preface
Debate with Gaunilo
De Grammatico
De Veritate
De Libertate Arbitrii
De Casu Diaboli
Two Letters concerning Roscelin
De Incarnatione Verbi
Cur Deus Homo I
Cur Deus Homo II
Fragmenta Philosophica
Meditatio Redemptionis Humanae
De Conceptu Virginali
De Processione Spiritus Sancti
De Sacramentis
De Concordia
"On Translating Anselm's Complete Treatises"
"Anselm's Debate with Gaunilo"
"Some Alleged Metaphysical and Psychological Aspects of the Ontological Argument"
"What Is a Translation"

Nicholas of Cusa, English translations of:
Preface to Translations
De Docta Ignorantia
Translator's Introduction
Book I
Book II
Book III
De Coniecturis
De Deo Abscondito
De Quaerendo Deum
De Filiatione Dei
De Dato Patris Luminum
De Genesi
De Ignota Litteratura (Wenck)
Apologia Doctae Ignorantiae
De Sapientia
De Mente
De Staticis Experimentis
De Pace Fidei
De Visione Dei
De Theologicis Complementis
De Beryllo
De Aequalitate
De Principio
De Possest
Cribratio Alkorani
Book I
Book II
Book III
De Li Non Aliud
De Ludo Globi
De Venatione Sapientiae
De Apice Theoriae
Cusa on Wisdom and Knowledge

* Hugh of Balma's De Theologia Mystica: English translations of
Preface and Introduction
Prologus and Via Purgativa
Via Illuminativa
Via Unitiva
Quaestio Difficilis

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)

More for Your Amusement I

More for Your Amusement

I am so glad that we have the dynamic duo of Oblique House's blogmistress, Ms vonHuben, and Mr. Miller of Atheist to a Theist. This morning, to add to the lidless eye mysteries of yesterday, and the incomparable Ms. Florence Foster Jenkins (whom if you have not heard, you are depriving yourself) we have this sharp-eyed investigation of porcine planned parenthood.

The diversity of the blogworld is never ended, its riches inexhaustable.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:54 AM | Comments (0)

More on Rosarium Virginis Mariae

More on Rosarium Virginis Mariae

I have noted the tremendous splash I've been making in these shared reflections on the newest Apostolic Letter, so building on that profound success, I thought I would share some more. (That was a joke not a plea for responses--as I have intimated earlier, even if no one ever responded I would write what I write).

This letter seems so simple, lucid, and clear as almost to have some from another hand. But the limpid depth of thought, reflection, and true contemplation, and the intimacy and immediacy of the writing belie that conclusion.

While there are a great many things that I like about the letter, so many, in fact, that I may produce, eventually, an article by article commentary on it (although, you can all breathe now, I may not inflict it on you), one point I like best is about contemplation. Time and again throughout the letter, when the Holy Father refers to contemplation he focuses on the FACE of Christ.

from Rosarium Virginis Mariae His Holiness Pope John Paul II

(3) To recite the Rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ.

(9) The Gospel scene of Christ's transfiguration, in which the three Apostles Peter, James and John appear entranced by the beauty of the Redeemer, can be seen as an icon of Christian contemplation. To look upon the face of Christ, to recognize its mystery amid the daily events and sufferings of his human life, and then to grasp the divine splendor definitively revealed in the Risen Lord, seat in glory at the right had of the Father: this is the task of every follower of Christ and therefore the task of each one of us. In contemplating Christ's face we become open to receiving the mystery of Trinitarian life. . .

(10)The contemplation of Christ has an incomparable model in Mary. In a unique way the face of the Son belongs to Mary. . . . No one has ever devoted himself to the contemplation of the face of Christ as faithfully as Mary. . . . In the months that followed she began to sense his presence and to picture his features. When at last she gave birth to him in Bethlehem, her eyes were able to gaze tenderly on the face of her Son, as she "wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger." (Lk 2:7)

The contemplation of Christ's face is an important theme of the letter. And it provides a better focus for most of our rambling prayers and discursive meditations. I have meditated on Christ's mission, on his Death and Resurrection, on his Nativity, on his Sacred Heart, on his five wounds. I have meditated on the mysteries of the Rosary (more or less), but I haven't really thought much about his face. Now, contemplation is not thought, and I am certain the Holy Father is very deliberate in his choice of words. By these he is inviting us all into true contemplation. Not thinking about, not discursive meditation, but true rest in the presence of the Lord. Now, this may not be infused contemplation, but it is one of the many stepping stones on the journey. It is far easier simply to gaze at a face and remain in presence that it is to keep track of the sometimes wayward thoughts of a discursive meditation. We are invited to contemplate Christ's face, that is, make Him personal in our lives. In the same way that we gaze upon the face of someone we love dearly, trying to internalize the features and understand the depth of feeling, so we are called to do with Christ.

Looking upon Christ's face is one way to rest in the Lord. It is a beautiful way, because once we know the lines of that face we will begin to see it in all of the faces around us. Focusing on Christ's face forces us to gaze into the divine, and like ducklings, once that image is fixed and certain, there is a certain imprinting on the soul--we will both follow it and seek to become like it.

I don't know how many other treasure might be in store for me as I read this wonderful letter--but it is about the Rosary and about far more--it is a plan for living out the Year of the Rosary, and for living out our Christian vocations. I urge everyone to take the time to read this remarkably simple document and to pray about it as they plan how they will take advantage of the wonderful opportunity a Rosary year opens for us.

May you be blessed as I have been blessed in just this short time.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:47 AM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2002

I Thought She Had Been Lost Forever

But thanks to the miracles of modern technology and the intrepid attention to trivia of Mr. Rothwell of The Contrarian, you can once again be astounded (if I choose the correct state of being) by the multifaceted talents of the amazing Ms. Florence Foster Jenkins. If you have not heard the Swedish Jackdaw, the Columbian Crow, the Romanian Raven, or whatever nom de chante (or perhaps ignomen chanteuse) she may have had, now is your golden opportunity. Do not miss it!

Posted by Steven Riddle at 02:46 PM | Comments (0)

More on Rosarium Virginis Mariae--Shared

More on Rosarium Virginis Mariae--Shared Lectio

I'm sorry to presume one more time on your patience, but as I was sitting at lunch reading (no car, unable to make it to Mass, alas) I came upon this passage and spent several minutes thinking a marveling, realizing what a revelation it was to me. Perhaps that revelation will also come as news, or at least as a reminder to you.

from Rosarium Virginis Mariae His Holiness Pope John Paul II

The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium.2 It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb. With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.

Nothing stunning here, you say. Done this for years, you say. And well you may have. But I have not. I have done the Rosary largely because I was told to do the Rosary. I dutifully said the prayers and realized that yes, the mysteries were centered on the life of Christ, but always wondered vaguely what it was I was doing. Yes, I'm honoring God through His Mother, and that's well and good, but I had no real focus for the Rosary. Not being a cradle-Catholic the devotion was perhaps not as meaningful from the get-go for me. But here, I have a sudden notion. I sit at the feet of, or thinking of myself as a child, in the lap of Mary, and here her tell me about her son. I am given the privilege of talking to the one who loved Christ nearly as much as He loved the world. And being with her, I am honored by being able to see through a mother's eyes, the reality of the Person who was Love itself. Too often Jesus is an abstract. Yes, He's an historical figure, and yes, He is a person of the personal God. But too often, He remains up there in His lofty abstraction, never really speaking to me personally, but looking down as an Icon, not fiercely or judgmentally, but too distant to be embraced. Here, with Mary, we begin to realize the personhood of Jesus. We begin to recognize the depth of Love, real, human Love, both emotion and act of will, but act of Will that transcended His own. I begin to understand Jesus as one who cares about me personally. I have done this in other ways, but it has never been the focus of my Rosary devotion. Too often my Rosary is simply said to have said it. I get to the end of it, and it's one more checklist item in the obedience column. No levitation, no transcendental states, if truth be told, probably not much in the way of prayer. But, had I known that in the course of this prayer I was supposed to be finding out about Someone--it might then have had more purpose and more meaning.

So, I'm a slow learner. Or perhaps no one has ever spoken this quite so directly to me. But even leaving out the new mysteries (which I absolutely love and which I will pray at least as often as the Holy Father recommends) this simple paragraph gives new meaning and new life to the praying of the Rosary. Thank you, your Holiness, for helping at least one poor soul who had somewhat lost his way.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

A Word of Great Consolation--Here

A Word of Great Consolation--Here I Stand: I Can Do No Other

I have not had time to really read and study the magnificent new Apostolic Letter, but I'm pleased to see on first acquaintance, than no matter how frail the body seems, the intellect is lively and sparking. John Paul II is truly an embodiment of courage, strength, and confidence in God and his hope instills hope in all Christians united to him in the faith. I mourn for our separated brethren, and here I refer not to Protestants, who as a whole afford John Paul II greater respect than some in his own Church, but to these latter who would detract from and denigrate the accomplishments of a truly brilliant, amazingly loving man. God give him many good years.

from Rosarium Virginis Mariae His Holiness Pope John Paul II

39. . . .The Church has always attributed particular efficacy to this prayer, entrusting to the Rosary, to its choral recitation and to its constant practice, the most difficult problems. At times when Christianity itself seemed under threat, its deliverance was attributed to the power of this prayer, and Our Lady of the Rosary was acclaimed as the one whose intercession brought salvation.

Today I willingly entrust to the power of this prayer – as I mentioned at the beginning – the cause of peace in the world and the cause of the family.

Much has been written in recent days about following one's own judgment and prudential judgments vs. authoritative teachings. Frankly, I would rather make the mistake of following the prudential judgment of the man who wrote something this powerful and meaningful, than the sheer folly of following my own "best judgment" in the same matter. There is no question but that before any such judgment is announced careful reflection, consideration, and thought, in amounts far greater than I am likely to spend on the same question, have been put into the pronouncement. No, we cannot abandon responsibility for our choices. I cannot wholesale surrender my conscience to the will of the Bishops; however, when the Bishop of Rome speaks, either authoritatively or prudentially, it is incumbent upon me until such time as I give the matter serious prayerful reflection to accept those judgments. When I have done so, and only then, am I entitled in conscience to say nay. But, I think the probability of that, given this man of such great depth and breadth of soul, are vanishingly unlikely. For this loyalty, I gladly accept any name you place upon it, but I steadfastly refuse to abandon it. John Paul II has been instrumental in showing me the way into the Church and into the heart of Christ, how can I possibly look upon him other than as an affectionate and learned father?

Posted by Steven Riddle at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

Being Who You Are in Christ

Sometimes we treat ourselves very poorly. We may do something foolish and then kick ourselves to next week and back. And to some extent that is a justifiable treatment. But not continuously, and not even if one learns nothing from the experience. And certainly not if it is for the wrong purpose.

All things need to be done in the Light of Jesus Christ. God created each one of us, unique, without match in all the world. And at that moment He had a plan and a purpose for us--a goal to which we could rise. He loved us into existence and loves us to the end of our Earthly lives and beyond. We can choose to follow His plan or our own. Whichever way we choose, He will weave what we do into His plan. But one way we will find happiness and ourselves, and the other way we will find only self-will.

No other person can do what God has for us to do. I cannot be St. Teresa, nor can I be Cardinal Mahony. I cannot be anything other than what I am. Thus, I am limited by what I am, and unlimited by what I can do through Christ. He wants each one of us to be a Saint--to be hope for someone who is in a very similar position. Most of us, in fact, are better encouragement than many saints, because we have lived lives that others can empathize with. I know that as my Carmelite group read Story of a Soul the comment kept coming up that "I couldn't be like that, look how holy she was at the age of four." True--you can't be like that, and the story of St. Therese is a little unearthly for most of us. We can't really empathize with that life. That is not to say that it isn't a profound inspiration and a profound blessing to all of us, but few of us spent our childhoods playing "Vow-of-Silence" Monks!

But take St. Augustine. Here is a saint I can empathize yet. And even in my mature years I find myself praying with him, "Lord make me chaste [I'd say Good] but not yet." Here is a man of passion of true human sympathies from the ground up--imperfect, headstrong, frustrating, in short someone we see when we look in the mirror. Some of us started life and are living lives as Therese (this concept boggles my mind--but I know it is true) the vast majority of us are more like Augustine. And being like Augustine in the modern world, we can offer more hope to those around us. They can see us rise from our merely human condition to become Human in God's eyes. It shows that such an ascent is possible for all. I think about Dorothy Day who, pregnant out-of-wedlock had an abortion and went on to become one a great saintly person (if not yet a Saint). Matt Talbot who spent much of his early life curled up in a bottle came by the strength (through God) to give it up and become another saintly person. Blessed (Venerable, St. ?) Charles Foucauld was reputed to be something of a playboy but he went on to be a Martyr. There are hundreds of examples of such people.

When we assume our identity in Christ, when we start to live that life of heroic virtue, our past life becomes a picture of hope for people in similar circumstances. When we rise above ourselves to assume the place God has for us in His plan, others can see that conquest of self is possible through Christ who strengthens us. Yes, lament your failures, your shortcomings, your own loses and stupidities, but embrace Him who loves you and share that sorrow. Become Who you are rather than remaining who you are. Assume your place in the body of Christ, with all your imperfections, flaws, and failures and let others know that there is hope for them. God has made you who and what you are for a specific mission. We will not see clearly the exact contours of that mission until we stand in His Presence. But trust Him and He will guide you in the paths that will make you what you must be--you can assume your identity in Christ.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:30 AM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2002

I Am and Wish Always

I Am and Wish Always to be . . .

I am and wish always to be a true son of the Church. All that I say or do I wish to be in conformity with Her teachings. Where I stray, I pray for the conviction of the Holy Spirit to bring me back. However, in all that I say, do, or otherwise make public, I wish always to express Her mind in the issue and I submit all matters of faith and morals to her judgments and humbly accept correction when and where necessary.

I love the Church. I think with the Church, but I am a broken, distant image of Him whom I would follow, and therefore I fail. I struggle with a great many things that the Church Teaches. But nothing in the centrality of the Creed or in the understanding of the hierarchy or teaching authority of the Church.

I like this expression far more than the one I posted before. I believe it to be truer, closer to the heart of the matter, and more personal. The Church is a Mother for me--I cannot bear to see those who would disgrace Her or tear Her down, be they revolutionaries or reactionaries. But being human, I struggle mightily with some of her teachings, to understand and accept them. These struggles are, however, my own. And to the best of my ability to do so, I would always state first and foremost what the Church teaches--it is sheer arrogance and pride to assume that in my span of years I could have accumulated sufficient knowledge to refute what she may teach. The Church is my teacher, in my immaturity, I struggle with some of what She teaches--but that is more a reflection on me that it is on the doctrines of the Church. And as I struggle, I pray I struggle toward truth and not toward self-will. To even begin to do this, I must defer my doubts to the wisdom of the teaching authority of the Church.

And I feel compelled to post even this much because so many would deny the teachings of the Bishops. It seems that every time they open their mouths someone is telling them to shut up. See one of the comments (you'll know the one) on this post at Disputations if you wonder whereof I speak. So, my apologies for the abortive and ultimately unsatisfactory attempt at definition this morning. This afternoon I say simply, I stand with my Bishops until such time as they teach out-and-out heresy (and I do not believe they [en masse] will ever do so.)

Later--Apologies Rereading this blog at a later time I realized that it could have been read to have accused the blogmaster at Disputations of holding some of the views I repudiate. That was not my intention and I hope the clarification above makes more clear what I was trying to say.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 01:10 PM | Comments (0)

Stealing Wholesale--A Prayer to Capture

Stealing Wholesale--A Prayer to Capture a Murderer

From Disputations, this excellent perpetual novena composed and/or adapted by John da Fiesole for the capture of the murderer-at-large in the Washington D.C. area. Please join us in praying it every day, or, I suppose, more often.

So I think I will start a perpetual novena to St. Anthony until the sniper is caught.

O Holy St. Anthony, gentlest of Saints, your love for God and Charity for His creatures made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Miracles waited on your word, which you were ever ready to speak for those in trouble or anxiety. Encouraged by this thought, I implore of you to obtain for my neighbors and me the arrest and confinement of those responsible for the murderous sniper attacks on the innocent people of this region. The answer to my prayer may require a miracle, even so, you are the Saint of Miracles. O gentle and loving St. Anthony, whose heart was ever full of human sympathy, whisper my petition into the ears of the Sweet Infant Jesus, who loved to be folded in your arms, and the gratitude of my heart will ever be yours. Amen.

Our Father, ...

Hail Mary, ...

Glory be ...

Pray for us, St. Anthony, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:13 AM | Comments (0)

Some Notes from Theodore Roethke

Inspired to look once again at Roethke by another blogger, I have selected some pieces from Straw for the Fire, a strange kind of selected bits from thousands of notebook pages. I have to say that while I may not agree with Mr. Roethke in all points, there is some interesting "straw for the fire" in these words.

from Straw for the Fire Theodore Roethke from "The Proverbs of Purgatory"

For him God was always there, like an ugly wife.
Those who almost see are most terrified.
The Devil is intuitive, not articulate.
Surround yourself with rising waters, the flood will teach you how to swim.
God does not like to be asked too violently to step in.
Despair and the most transcendental love of God are inseparable.
The angels ask but never answer.

from” Straw for the Fire"
I need to become learned in the literature of exasperation. In my worst state, once I think of my contemporaries, I'm immediately revived.
I'd like to be sure of something--even if it's just going to sleep.
God's the denial of denials,
Meister Eckhart said.
I like to forget denials
in bed.

And so forth. What Roethke is doing here is thinking and struggling with all sorts of things--his image of himself as poet, his idea of poetry, his idea of God. To read these fragments is to get a sense of struggle against "a sea of troubles/ and by opposing, end them." Roethke is one of the finest poets of the mid-century, a palliative to the endless whining and proto-bad-rap of the beats and their nauseating offspring. He is in line with Plath when she's not too introverted, and has produced some of the most memorable, and perhaps mystical poetry an American poet has to offer. I know vanishingly little of his personal life (always a boon), but sense from the poetry a constant, epic struggle against some form of mental illness--perhaps depression. I could be wrong here, but a line like , "In a dark time the eye begins to see," tends to cue one in to something going on.

Straw for the Fire is at times heartbreakingly beautiful. It is horrifying that this poet tosses away lines that are better than much of my entire work. But then I pause to reflect that these single lines are garnered from thousands and thousands of pages of the same kind of drift that I have in my notebooks. An unbiased observer might be able to go through and cull some gems from that mountain as well. I rather doubt that my work will generate such an unbiased observer--which is quite all right, because the world needs only one such collection to cause future poets some worry.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:00 AM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2002

An Acrostic for those too Irish for their Own Good

Okay Celtiphiles, see how many of the following references you can identify clearly and place in Irish Folklore/Poetry. (Note: all spellings anglicized--even then--good luck pronouncing them. Irish orthography and phonemics, fundamental contradictions in terminology) Good luck.

Battle Song of the Sons of Cuchulain
Ta na la the trumpets sound to         herald day from her sweet rest
even now the bird calls throng,         boring through the darkened forest.
Of heroes old and days of deeds        only ancients can remember,
knolls of Fay, the Sidhe of Dannan        Oisin and his fated family,
fireside stories for the evening when         the slaughter will be over.
Hence now for the frosty fields where        Emer wandered all alone, where the
Druid sought out Fergus, and where        Ulster won their battles.
Not for such as Maeve's beauty        can we stay our swords much longer,
Only now we seek our vengeance        where our fathers died in battle.

© 2002, Steven Riddle

Note, these are supposed to be two approximately equal half-lines on the same level--many browsers will not display them that way. Sorry.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 05:23 PM | Comments (0)

Observations from a Glorious

Observations from a Glorious St. Teresa Day

Giving thanks:
What could be lovelier
--to be in one's car on the way to Mass
--on a delightfully warm (75-80 F) day
--listening to the eerily beautiful original piano arrangement of "Trois Gymnopedies"
--seeing the single tree, a sycamore, that autumn has kissed with color, reds--deep maroon, yellows proclaimed against the lush tropical green.
Praise Him!

*Note--unlike some partisans that have elsewhere indicated their preference for ice, "I'd hold with those who favor fire." I hear that it's likely to drop to 60 as a low tomorrow and think, need to bring in the Dendrobium, the Phaelenopsis, and the Cattelya, the Odontoglossum can take a bit more, you know--all those "freezy" winter things.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 05:00 PM | Comments (0)

Beginning the Evening Blogging--With A Poem

Dedicated with great admiration and gratitude to those in the forefront of those who support the sanctity of human life.


Soon they all say.
It is so soon too.

Soon say the doctors
with the big spoons.
Soon momma says.
They nod their heads.
Smoothely the mound of her
belly moves--so slowly.

Is the music playing
says momma.
The music is playing.

The doctors play
with the shiny spoons.
The light
inside is warm
and dark.

Soon the slide will speed me
out to momma. Soon in
all the quiet.

Momma's belly

O momma, I say
as the slide moves me.
Is the music playing
momma. Inside
she says, soon soon.

© 2002, Steven Riddle

Posted by Steven Riddle at 04:50 PM | Comments (0)

Continuing Prayers Needed For the

Continuing Prayers Needed

For the people of Bali, Indonesia, and Australia in their sorrow and loss.

For the people of the Washington Metropolitan area that the murderer-at-large is soon apprehended. (For this cause the Blogmeister at Disputations has committed to this perpetual novena, in which I shall join him.)

For Katherine and Franklin and family that their employment situation be resolved.

For Christine and Gordon and family for a resolution to an employment situation.

For one who prefers to remain unnamed--a dear friend--in need of God's counsel and Love.

For Kairos Guy and Sally, for continued healing and mending from their recent heartbreak.

Thank you all, you are really great to help out in all of these needs.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 01:00 PM | Comments (0)

More on St. Teresa

Like St. Joan of Arc, our Saint of the day has a propensity for showing up in the oddest places. Witness this:

from Middlemarch "Prelude"
George Eliot

Who that cares much to know the history of man, and how the mysterious mixture behaves under the varying experiments of Time, has not dwelt, at least briefly, on the life of Saint Theresa, has not smiled with some gentleness at the thought of the little girl walking forth one morning hand-in-hand with her still smaller brother, to go and seek martyrdom in the country of the Moors? Out they toddled from rugged Avila, wide-eyed and helpless-looking as two fawns, but with human hearts, already beating to a national idea; until domestic reality met them in the shape of uncles, and turned them back from their great resolve. That child-pilgrimage was a fit beginning. Theresa's passionate, ideal nature demanded an epic life: what were many-volumed romances of chivalry and the social conquests of a brilliant girl to her? Her flame quickly burned up that light fuel; and, fed from within, soared after some illimitable satisfaction, some object which would never justify weariness, which would reconcile self-despair with the rapturous consciousness of life beyond self. She found her epos in the reform of a religious order.

Here she is used on the very first page of a massive novel as an example of a vibrant, truly alive woman. A women who took care of a group of (perhaps often cranky) young nuns, founded new monasteries, wrote books, played tambourine and danced, and still found time for prayer that led her to union with God, is certainly an example for all of us. What she could do is, obviously, possible with proper love of God. More than that, it is a desirable way to spend one's life.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)

Quote of the Day "It

Quote of the Day
"It is not a matter of thinking a great deal but of loving a great deal, so do whatever arouses you most to love." ~ St. Teresa of Avila

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:55 AM | Comments (0)

For La Madre

For La Madre

Perhaps more appropriate for the Feast of the Transverberation. Nevertheless, offered here for your delectation.

"The Flaming Heart Upon the Book and Picture of Saint Teresa"
(As she is usually expressed with a Seraphim beside her.)
Richard Crashaw

WELL meaning readers! you that come as friends
And catch the precious name this piece pretends;
Make not too much haste to admire
That fair-cheeked fallacy of fire.
That is a Seraphim, they say
And this the great Teresia.
Readers, be rul'd by me; and make
Here a well-plac'd and wise mistake
You must transpose the picture quite,
And spell it wrong to read it right;
Read him for her, and her for him;
And call the saint the Seraphim.
Painter, what did'st thou understand
To put her dart into his hand!
See, even the years and size of him
Shows this the mother Seraphim.
This is the mistress flame; and duteous he
Her happy fireworks, here comes down to see.
O most poor-spirited of men!
Had thy cold pencil kist her pen
Thou couldst not so unkindly err
To show us this faint shade for her.
Why man, this speaks pure mortal frame;
And mocks with female frost love's manly flame.
One would suspect, thou meant'st to paint
Some weak, inferior, woman saint.
But had thy pale-fac'd purple took
Fire from the burning cheeks of that bright book
Thou wouldst on her have leapt up all
That could be found seraphical;
Whate'er this youth of fire wears fair,
Rosy fingers, radiant hair,
Glowing cheek, and glistering wings,
All those fair and flagrant things,
But before all, that fiery dart
Had fill'd the hand of this great heart.
Do then as equal right requires,
Since his the blushes be, and hers the fires,
Resume and rectify thy rude design;
Undress thy Seraphim into mine.
Redeem this injury of thy art;
Give him the veil, give her the dart.
Give him the veil; that he may cover
The red cheeks of a rivall'd lover.
Asham'd that our world, now, can show
Nests of new Seraphims here below.
Give her the dart for it is she
(Fair youth) shoots both thy shaft and thee.
Say, all ye wise and well-pierc'd hearts
That live and die amidst her darts,
What is't your tasteful spirits do prove
In that rare life of her, and love?
Say and bear witness. Sends she not
A Seraphim at every shot?
What magazines of immortal arms there shine!
Heav'n's great artillery in each love-spun line.
Give then the dart to her who gives the flame;
Give him the veil, who kindly takes the shame.
But if it be the frequent fate
Of worst faults to be fortunate;
If all's prescription; and proud wrong
Hearkens not to an humble song;
For all the gallantry of him,
Give me the suff'ring Seraphim.
His be the bravery of all those bright things,
The glowing cheeks, the glistering wings;
The rosy hand, the radiant dart;
Leave her alone, the Flaming Heart.
Leave her that; and thou shalt leave her
Not one loose shaft but love's whole quiver.
For in love's field was never found
A nobler weapon than a wound.
Love's passives are his activ'st part.
The wounded is the wounding heart.
O heart! the equal poise of love's both parts
Big alike with wound and darts.
Live in these conquering leaves; live all the same;
And walk through all tongues one triumphant flame.
Live here, great heart; and love and die and kill;
And bleed and wound; and yield and conquer still.
Let this immortal life where'er it comes
Walk in a crowd of loves and martyrdoms.
Let mystic deaths wait on't; and wise souls be
The love-slain witnesses of this life of thee.
O sweet incendiary! show here thy art,
Upon this carcass of a hard, cold heart,
Let all thy scatter'd shafts of light, that play
Among the leaves of thy large books of day,
Combined against this breast at once break in
And take away from me my self and sin,
This gracious robbery shall thy bounty be;
And my best fortunes such fair spoils of me.
O thou undaunted daughter of desires!
By all thy dow'r of lights and fires;
By all the eagle in thee, all the dove;
By all thy lives and deaths of love;
By thy large draughts of intellectual day,
And by thy thirsts of love more large than they;
By all thy brim-fill'd bowls of fierce desire
By the last morning's draught of liquid fire;
By the full kingdom of that final kiss
That seiz'd thy parting soul, and seal'd thee his;
By all the heav'ns thou hast in him
(Fair sister of the Seraphim!)
By all of him we have in thee;
Leave nothing of my self in me.
Let me so read thy life, that I
Unto all life of mine may die.

The poetic transfiguration of St. Teresa into a Seraphim is really quite nice. And I'm uncertain that there are any lines in relgious poetry quite so powerful as:

"By all thy brim-fill'd bowls of fierce desire
By the last morning's draught of liquid fire;
By the full kingdom of that final kiss
That seiz'd thy parting soul, and seal'd thee his; "

I'm certain there must be, but most certainly not on this day. St. Teresa of Avila is one of those saints you can't help not only admiring, but once you come to know her, really liking. To show this two small anecdotes:

Writing to her Foundations and advising the young nuns there St. Teresa of Avila said something to the effect: "If you believe you are having visions, you need to eat more."

Upon arriving at an important interview with a local Bishop, she dismounted and stepped or fell into a puddle of mud, upon which she raised her eyes to heaven and said, "If this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few."

May this day be a blessing upon all of you and through the intercession of La Madre, may your prayers and your prayer life improve today and each day that you turn your heart to God.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:42 AM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2002

Eternally Expanding Word of God

Eternally Expanding Word of God

The following comment really provoked my imagination and fascination.

from Nourished by the Word Wilfrid Stinissen

Just as God did not create the universe once and for all, but continuously, so the Spirit creates the Scriptures continuously. And just as space becomes greater and greater because the galaxies are moving away from each other, so the Scriptures become greater and greater, at least for those who read them with faith.

Scripture is created continuously. Within each devout reader the Holy Spirit speaks the words that God would have the believer know. These words never vary from the deposit of faith, but they are suited to each person as our persons are suited for our spirits. God knows what we need and He provides it bountifully, abundantly, full measure and overflowing. God continues to bless us every time we open the Scripture. Its treasury cannot be exhausted, so do not fail to plunder it--God has opened broken down the treasury doors for precisely that reason. (The Holy Mother Church in her wisdom grants to those who meet all the other requirements and who engage in one-half hour of reading of Scripture a Plenary Indulgence. So, if not for your own sake, for the sake of the poor souls in purgatory, read Scripture--the act of Charity will help to make the effort even lighter and will increase the blessing that comes from directly engaging in discourse with God.)

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:25 PM | Comments (0)

Mr. Miller's Remarkable Post On

Mr. Miller's Remarkable Post

On universal healthcare is here. It is wonderfully succinct and piquant.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 05:49 PM | Comments (0)

Vocation is a Vacation I

I hate motivational speaker lines, but I thought this one up myself as I was studying St. Thérèse, and it fits so well (if I do say so myself). Now of course, I am talking etymologically and not literally, but every vocation is in fact a call to vacation. And what primarily we must vacate is our notion of self and our self-centered universe.

We construct certain realities by the masks we wear--father, spouse, teacher, worker, boss, etc. Many of us are five or twenty-five people rolled into one. Not so with the Saints who truly sought after God. They were all, to a person, one person. They may have been bishops, teachers, wanderers, or wayfarers, or one after another of these. However, whatever they were, they belonged to Christ, and were marked by Christ in their authenticity. They did not need masks and had no time for the games that go with masks. St. Catherine of Siena went to the Pope in Avignon when told to do so and told him flat-out that he was wrong to remain where he was, period. No questions, no wiggle-room, just simply, "God says get your butt back to Rome, so what do you think you're doing?" Mother Teresa went to a national prayer breakfast and faced the greatest proponent of the slaughter of children since Herod himself with a speech about the evils of abortion--no punches pulled--just a straight out, "You are committing a great sin and an enormous crime." Unfortunately this saintly woman was not facing a person with the integrity of the Pope that St. Catherine went to see.

Vocation requires that we vacate to make room for God. And once God fills us up, there is no room for masks, pretences, or anything other than the lamp on a lampstand He wants each one of us to be.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 12:56 PM | Comments (0)

Apocryphal Gospels redux Just

Apocryphal Gospels redux

Just Your Average Catholic Guy, Mr. John Betts has picked up once more his marvelous thread on the Apocryphal Gospels, this time featuring The Gospel of Peter.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:34 AM | Comments (0)

Dealing with God

Sometimes, in fact more often than not, God seems some very distant figure--rather like a stage director in the tragedy or comedy of our lives. I know that I often suffer from this. When I am saying morning prayer and I'm feeling particularly dry, I imagine the words trailing up like smoke from a fire, taking an idle turn about Heaven and joining those much more grateful, robust strands of incense in the great Throneroom where certainly God can notice them, but does He? I often feel at a very great distance. And the reality is, of course, that I am, because I have placed myself there. I have chosen to be at a great distance for one reason or another that I may not even be aware of.

In the course of a day, or a week, or a month, I can and do move closer, or I should more properly say, I feel closer, because I could not possibly be closer. Because of my baptism and the grace of my confirmation I have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit that proceeds from the love of the Father and the Son for each other is part of my make-up. I may ignore Him, I may not turn a thought to Him at any time. I may choose some other substitute for Him. But He is there, and when I cannot pray, He is praying with groanings beyond human hearing.

But what about the feeling? I've always wondered about this, and it is a very difficult point. We humans place so much trust in feelings that change and transmute, are here today and gone five seconds later. We can plunge from ecstatic happiness to tears in a matter of moments. We can rise from the abyss (but that always seems to take a great deal longer). St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila teach us that feelings are another example of "consolations" in prayer. They are sometimes granted for the purposes of strengthening our resolve, but they are not to be sought after.

My preferred thinking about this feeling of closeness parallels the teaching of St. Thérèse of Lisieux on Love. While Love carries with it feelings of involvement, it is not primarily a feeling, it is a continual series of actions--it is a movement of the will that results in a movement of the person to action on part of the loved one. So too the feeling of closeness to God. We should not trust or rely upon feeling, it is deceptive and potentially destructive. Here we must trust our minds to allow the truth to trickle down to our hearts and change them. Whether we "feel" God's presence or not, we are told that He is present. It is a tenet of our faith that not only is He present, but He lives within us. And if we direct our attention to Him for a moment, we know it--we may not feel it, but we do know it in some way that transcends rational thought. Trust the knowing and forget the feeling. In this case the feelings may be manipulated by any number of factors. Loving God and feeling His presence, is an act of will that results in tangible actions toward those around us. It is something that should occupy our every waking moment. Loving God, who loves us enough to live within us despite conditions that would resemble deepest, darkest Detroit at our very best times, is the one key to life on Earth. Loving Him despite what we may feel about His distance or His lack of concern.

God is concerned about us. He does love us. And sometimes the love He shows us is harsh and difficult. We would prefer to live our own lives than the life of love of God. I think about St. Thérèse and the awfulness of the last 18 months of her life--the terrible darkness in which she lived, uncertain even of the existence of God, and yet, in some mysterious way, never doubting and never ceasing her enormous love for Him. l so much so that her dying words, "O How I Love Him," still resound in the miracles she performs and in the immediacy with which she seems to attend each person who earnestly implores her assistance.

Closeness to God is a reality. Our feelings are untrustworthy. As Scrooge says to Marley regarding why he does not trust his senses, "A little thing can disturb them. You could be a bit of undigested beef or a fragment of underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you." So too our feelings about God--they are moved by little motions within us--fear and anger are the principle currents that drive how close we feel. We cannot control our emotions, or if we do so they may ultimately turn on us anyway, but we can balance the emotional sense of things with the reality that we face over and over when we open the Bible. We are "the apple of His eye," we are "written on the palm of His hand." We are the people of John 3:16--"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth on Him should not die but should have life everlasting." When our feelings get in the way, we need to retreat, even if only momentarily, to reality.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)

For a Fellow-Traveler, a Fragment

This poem is not completely ready for prime-time. Something is missing and I'm uncertain where to take it or how to go. But I'm convinced that this fragment was given me to address a specific misconception that many may secretly hold.

What a narrow hardened place, the human heart
where you have deigned to have your home,
where wizened walls would squeeze you out,
and we would live, imperious, alone.

Locked outside this chamber sere and harsh,
the hardest place that God has ever known--
You who came in love to die for all beg leave
to change to flesh this heart of stone.

You ask the master of this desert place
if you might enter and start to sweep it clean,
an indifferent shrug the single silent reply
and a door left ajar that could only mean

come in and be about your business now,
before I have a chance to change my mind.

© 2002, Steven Riddle

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:37 AM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2002

Pray Constantly As with many

Pray Constantly

As with many parents of very young children, I spend most of Mass getting my son to face forward, stand, sit, kneel, try to say some of the prayers, stop watching the people behind me, stop kicking the pew in front of me, whisper--don't talk, etc. etc. You who are parents know the drill. As a result, I feel terrible about Sunday Mass, often as though I haven't heard a thing (I haven't) and I haven't properly served the Lord (although I have in my vocation as Father and in my attempt to make certain that the young 'en isn't too disruptive to those around him). I usually "make up" for this feeling by attending weekday Mass, and really participating.

As with many previous Sundays, I had these same feelings until I relaxed a bit and started to pray. I wasn't really praying Mass, because it was more than my brain could handle. But the entire time I prayed, "Thank you, Jesus." For every disruptive effort and annoyance, I prayed twice as hard and fast. And you know what? I didn't leave Mass feeling like a failure. I left feeling as though I had offered thanksgiving for many who may not give a thought to the wonderful treasure they receive at the Holy Sacrifice of Mass. No, I didn't participate in the way I would if I were without the distraction, but somehow I felt that God accepted what little I could offer in the spirit in which I offered it.

Then I realized on my way home that this little prayer can be prayed constantly. Occasionally one thought or another intrudes, but when it has run its course, I can just thank Jesus for that as well. Like the Jesus prayer, only simpler, and appealing to me because I owe so much thanks and I say so little, this prayer can always bring me back to the main point of life itself--the mercy, goodness, and life-giving person of Jesus Christ.

Try it for a day. Just start by saying it as you get up in the morning. Allow it to become the basso ostinato to the entire day. Let life play against the background of this glorious and simple prayer. The name of Jesus itself is a fragrant balm and to be able to thank Him for all that we are and all that we have is such a gift. It frees us so thoroughly from ourselves. It opens us to Him and at the same time is a constant acknowledgment of our debt to Him. It is a perfect accompaniment for the Jesus Prayer because it is a thank you for the mercies already tendered, and in its simplicity it acknowledges our need for future mercies.

It may not substitute for praying and assisting at Mass, I'm human and there I shall probably fail as long as my young son needs guidance. But at least I can offer this much as I am directing attention and limiting distraction.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 06:43 PM | Comments (0)

Note of Change of Test

Note of Change of Test Day

Upon reading that last blog entry it sounds very much like the scene in Willy Wonka in which the teacher announces that the Test, which is normally held on Friday after all the material has been taught will be moved to Monday before everything is taught, but as today is Wednesday it makes no difference whatsoever. And, you know, that suits me to a "T."

Posted by Steven Riddle at 06:27 PM | Comments (0)

Note on Persons I tried

Note on Persons

I tried with the entries this morning to remove the damning "we" and replace them with the more specific "I." The first person is beneficial in a number of ways, I am not able to hide my own complicity and the process of writing is the process of examen. However, the process of reading and endless stream of stuff about I, I, I, must be cataclysmically boring for the reader, in addition, it simply fosters the cult of ego I live in already way too much. So, I have been thinking about using the third person--"one." The problem with this is that it sounds impossibly formal and distant, so I do not believe it viable.

It comes down to the fact that the "we" is, possibly, more engaging. So what I may end up doing is posting everything as I have before, but adding a disclaimer periodically that declares that the "we" to whom I refer is, in fact, myself. These notes are reminders and indictments directed solely at myself. If they strike a chord with other, or if others may benefit from them, so much the better. But, please never assume that I am writing about anyone in particular. Should I be moved to do so, I will make that as clear as possible in the particular entry.

Bless you all, may the Lord God of Hosts, protect you, smile down upon you, and speed you to His desired goal.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)


One place I am often remiss in my prayer is the proper sense of Gratitude. Sometimes I take for granted the wonderful privilege God has granted me in allowing direct communication with Him and with those who have gone before us. God need do no such thing. He could be the God envisioned by the Deists--the God who set the Universe in motion and forgot it entirely thereafter--the disinterested God, the Distant God.

But He is not. He is close. As close as a word turned His direction, as close as a thought. I need not go somewhere special. I need not do something special. Of course I can, should I choose to do so, but I need not.

I am not grateful enough. I recall the words of a priest who used to serve in the Parish I belong to. He said that a truly grateful person could not be unhappy. As a corollary, I am not certain that he spelled this out, much of our personal unhappiness spills out of a lack of gratitude. If I have a sense, even subconsciously, that I am owed something by the world, or that I have been cheated of something, or that I do not have enough--either spiritual or material good--I will be unhappy. No matter what the cause, much of my unhappiness flows from an inflated sense of self, by a lack of perception of my true worth. If I pause even for a short moment to consider the lot of the vast majority of humankind, I would realize what a truly privileged position I occupy. Compared to something on the order of 80% of humanity, I am in the position of the rich young man who approached Christ. Now, in my own society there is no way in which I could be considered rich and privileged; but, my own society is a distortion, an artificial construct.

I need to return to a prayer of gratitude and praise. I need to remember the purpose of many of my vocal prayers--they remind me that I am the creature and I speak to the creator. Praise and thanksgiving help me to place myself in proper perspective. They are the foundation of humility--a true understanding of my stature (or more properly lack thereof) before almighty God. These reminders, it seems to me, are as important as the Memento Mori of Elizabethan times. They choose the reminders of mortality for these purposes and perhaps they would serve the same today, although they would tend to draw attention to oneself. So rather than memento mori, perhaps a good substitute would be a good dose of conscious, deliberate, heart-felt gratitude for who we are, what we have, and the grace God has given us in allowing us to speak to Him.

Praise Him!

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:17 AM | Comments (0)

On Public Prayer A long

On Public Prayer

A long excerpt from a recently "published" piece at project Canterbury.

A Discourse Concerning The daily Frequenting the Common Prayer.

By Thomas Comber, D.D. and Prebendary of York.

London: Printed for Charles Brome, at the Gun at the West end of St. Paul’s Church-yard. 1687.
[16 pp]

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:00 AM | Comments (0)