Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hope and Grief

You become what you do. We are shaped from the outside in ... So we do the Works of Mercy, we bend and we kneel, even when our head is clouded and our spirit is grudging. We cross ourselves even as our faith fails. We light candles and sing "O Radiant Light, O Sun Divine," even when the world seems dark.

- Mary Margaret Nussbaum, from her essay "Hope Is Our Means"

Even in the midst of great pain, Lord,
I praise you for that which is.
I will not refuse this grief
Or close myself to this anguish.
Let shallow men pray for ease:
"Comfort us; shield us from sorrow."
I pray for whatever you send me,
and I ask to receive it as your gift.
You have put a joy in my heart
greater than all the world’s riches.
I lie down trusting the darkness,
for I know that even now you are here.

Psalm 4, adapted from the Hebrew by Stephen Mitchell

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Although it is not always socially acceptable, not always popular, we are called to the ministry of reconciliation. We have been entrusted with a specific message -- that Jesus Christ died to reconcile us to God and to each other. The two things were accomplished at the same time, in the same act of salvation ... This is our story, and we have a mandate to tell it.

- Brenda Salter McNeil, from her book A Credible Witness

Friday, November 20, 2009

Morton Kelsey

Genuine Christian love is forged against the anvil of our selfishness and possessiveness.
... It is important to remember that love is more than a feeling. It is active and transitive. The real test of my loving is not that I feel loving, but that the other person feels loved by me. Love is what I do to create this sense of feeling cared for.

Morton T. Kelsey,
from his book Companions on the Inner Way

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Madeleine L'Engle

It's a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally. It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet, and what is sand. It stops us from taking anything for granted.

Madeleine L'Engle
from: Glimpses of Grace

Monday, November 16, 2009


Jesus tells us that if our discipleship doesn’t get us into trouble, we’re going to have some serious explaining to do.

from a sermon by Kim Fabricius, at least part of which is online in a post on Richard Hall's Connexions blog.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Tree Full of Angels

Conversion is what happens between birth and death. By ... conversion as a process, I do not mean to disclaim the many accounts of people being suddenly and mysteriously touched by God and changed tremendously ... However, even people who have had a dramatic encounter with the Divine, still must go through that daily purifying process of continued conversion. A deep and lasting conversion is a process, an unfolding, a slow turning and turning again.

- Macrina Wiederkehr, from her book A Tree Full of Angels

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mutual Ministry

The Christian faith for most people is not communicated by doctrinal pronouncements ... but by what goes on in the church in its most local setting. It is here, in the church down the street, that people are caught up in the Gospel promise -- or are turned away.

- James C. Fenhagen, from his book Mutual Ministry

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Smith and Neruda

Nothing is more countercultural than a community serving the Suffering Servant in a world devoted to consumption and violence.

James K.A. Smith
Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?

I have often maintained that the best poet is ... the baker who ... does [the] majestic and unpretentious work of kneading the dough, consigning it to the oven, baking it in golden colours and handing us our daily bread as a duty of fellowship.

- Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet and 1971 Nobel Laureate in Literature (1904-1973)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The concept of grace

One of the elements that drew me into the Catholic Church was the concept of grace, although I've never been able to make more than clumsy sense of it. I am moved by the idea that God always already loves us first, before we love God, wholly and without condition, that God forgives us even before we have done anything to require forgiveness, as we will inevitably do, and that this outpouring of love and forgiveness fortifies us for repentance and reform.

- Nancy Mairs, from her essay "Here: Grace"

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Kathleen Norris

In a religion centered on what is in Christian convention termed a "living Word," even our ridiculously fallible language becomes a lesson in how God's grace works despite and even through our human frailty. We will never get the words exactly right. There will always be room for imperfection, for struggle, growth, and change. And this is as it should be.

Kathleen Norris

Amazing Grace

See a review of Norris' more recent book, Acedia and Me, here.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Paradox of Faith

Even though our faith may be 2,000 years old, our thinking is not. True progress is a balance between preserving the essence of a certain way of life and changing things that are not essential. Christianity was born a revolutionary faith, and we have preserved that ... Paradoxically, we have succeeded in not changing the faith that is itself dedicated to change.

- His All Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Christian World

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Desiring the Kingdom

... liturgies make us certain kinds of people, and what defines us is what we love.  They do this because we are the sorts of animals whose orientation to the world is shaped from the body up more than from the head down.  Liturgies aim our love to different ends precisely by training our hearts through our bodies.  They prime us to approach the world in a certain way, to value certain things, to aim for certain goals, to pursue certain dreams, to work together on certain projects.

James K.A. Smith
Desiring the Kingdom

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Edward J Farrell

We begin, sometimes without realizing it, to worship things, to relate to them as persons. And in the process, we inevitably relate to other persons as if they were things.

- Edward J. Farrell, from his book Gathering the Fragments