Write In Between

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Writer's Wednesday - Kathryn J. Hermes

What I receive from the Eucharistic Liturgy doesn't depend on how I feel or whether I have a "good experience" at Mass. Rather, it is about what God has done, and all that God promises to do. As Catholics, our daily lives are not fully broken open until joined with other in this art of praising and thanking God in the midst of our human situation. To pray for and with and out of a suffering world, out of our own suffering is to learn something true about praise and blessing; it is to profess most authentically that God is God, the One who alone deserves our worship and adoration. To continue to worship in the liturgy, to acknowledge God in the midst of adversity as well as in good fortune, is to understand ever more deeply who we are in relation to God. The liturgy is best celebrated when we bring real life to the healing and consoling, the reconciling and illuminating work of God. There we learn to speak the language we pray. We are refashioned and our perspectives enlightened by the repeated hymns of praise and thanksgiving, our voices raised with the angels in the proclamation of the power of God's love: Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might. The liturgy is a school for remembering who God has promised to be, and by recalling who God has been for us, we can then recall who God will be. And we can remind God to be God--to come and save us now!

---Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP, Surviving Depression, A Catholic Approach.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, December 25, 2008

O Come, Let Us Adore Him!

Merry Christmas from my home to yours....

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Writer's Wednesday - Caryll Houselander

[What beauty] must it have been to the Mother of God, when her whole being was folded upon the unborn Christ within her?

He was completely her own, utterly dependent upon her: she was His food and warmth and rest, His shelter from the world, His shade in the Sun. She was the shrine of the Sacrament, the four walls and the roof of His home.

Yet she must have longed to hold Him between her hands and to look into His human face and to see in it, in the face of God, a family likeness to herself!

Think of that! Perhaps you cannot, unless you happen to be a young priest newly ordained, waiting for the moment when you will hold in your hands the first Host that you have consecrated at your first Mass.

It must have been a season of joy, and she must have longed for his birth, but at the same time she knew that every step that she took, took her little son nearer to the grave.

Each work of her hands prepared His hands a little more for the nails; each breath that she drew counted one more to His last.

In giving life to Him she was giving Him death.

All other children born must inevitably die; death belongs to fallen nature; the mother's gift to the child is life.

But Christ is life; death did not belong to Him.

In fact, unless Mary would give Him death, He could not die.

Unless she would give Him the capacity for suffering, He could not suffer.

He could only feel cold and hunger and thirst if she gave Him her vulnerability to cold and hunger and thirst.

He could not know the indifference of friends or treachery or the bitterness of being betrayed unless she gave Him a human mind and a human heart.

That is what it meant to Mary to give human nature to God.

He was invulnerable; He asked her for a body to be wounded.

He was joy itself; He asked her to give Him tears.

He was God; He asked her to make Him man.

He asked for hands and feet to be nailed.

He asked for flesh to be scourged.

He asked for blood to be shed.

He asked for a heart to be broken.

The stable at Bethlehem was the first Calvary.

The wooden manger was the first Cross.

The swaddling bands were the first burial bands.

The Passion had begun.

Christ was man.

This, too, was the first separation.

This was her son, but now He was outside of Her: He had a separate heart: He looked at the world with the blind blue eyes of a baby, but they were His own eyes.

The description of His birth in the Gospel does not say that she held Him in her arms but that she "wrapped Him up in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger."

As if her first act was to lay Him on the Cross.

She knew that this little son of hers was God's Son and that God had not given Him to her for herself alone but for the whole world.

---Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God.

[Photo credit.]

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Writer's Wednesday - Henri Daniel-Rops

The Book of Books

There is a unique and inexhaustible book in which all there is to say about God and man is said. God's presence pervades it, and in it are revealed all those aspects of his mysterious being that we are allowed to glimpse; in it He appears, He speaks, and He acts. Man can also see himself in it, in all his potentialities, his grandeur and his weakness, from his sublimest aspirations down to those obscure regions of consciousness in which each of us bleeds from the wound of Original Sin. It embodies above all a religious doctrine, the doctrine of revealed truth; but human knowledge and intellectual activity also find in it rich and never failing nourishment. It is as vain to claim to understand the principles of ethics and law as of sociology, economics, and even politics if we are unaware of the message contained in this book.

Art and literature are still more obviously dependent on it. But for this book, the sculptors of Chartres, the mosaic-workers of Ravenna, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and El Greco would not be the artists we admire. Still more important and significant than the number of works that we owe their themes to it is the existence, also due to the Bible, of an art that transcends the laws of aesthetics and acquire a spiritual meaning. It is the same with literature. This book praised by Montaigne and Racine, by Shakespeare and Goethe, even by Nietsche and Anatole France, has done more than provide innumerable subjects for dramatists; from it flows the stream of living water that feeds the roots of masterpieces. But for the Bible, would there ever have been a Dante, a Racine, a Pascal, or a Dostoyevsky?

Paul Valery wisely pointed out that Western Civilization rests on three foundations: Greek intellectual curiosity, Roman order, and Judaeo-Christian spirituality. Let one of these collapse, and the whole edifice is threatened with destruction. And of these three foundations, the third, and really the most important because it endows the whole structure with meaning, is the unique and inexhaustible book that gives it its character and initial impetus. Without it the West would not be what it is.

But to link this book with the existence and development of western civilization alone is to falsify its meaning and limit its range. We can see more and more clearly, as efforts are made to render its message universal, that, by its underlying premises as well as by the modes of expression it employs, it is perfectly suited to mentalities very different from those of Europe, that Asia and Africa can welcome it perfectly naturally and that their genius is even, in a sense, allow for in it.

Such is the Bible, the book of books, the book of man and the book of God.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, December 12, 2008


“Behold” is one of my favorite words from the Bible. The wordsmith in me adores words that tickle my ears, words that are uncommon yet descriptive. Behold sounds somewhat archaic yet it still shows up in modern usage. Behold makes me perk up and pay attention.

Simple defined, behold means to see, to gaze upon, to observe, to have vision.

Whenever I find it in the New Testament, I always watch what happens next. Behold is like the sound of the drum roll you hear when the theatre curtain pulls back revealing center stage. Behold is my cue to tune in, to get ready, and see what unfolds.

Behold has been my watchword for Advent and Christmas. See if you recognize these biblical moments:

"Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means, God with us). [Matthew 1:23]

Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” [See Luke 1: 30-32.]

Behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible." [See Luke 1:36-37.]

"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." [See Luke 1:38.]

Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. [See Luke 2:7-11.]

Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” [See John 1:29.]

The book of Revelation delights in the Incarnation, God becoming Man: “and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them’… And he who sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’" [See Revelation 21: 3, 5.]

Revelation also declares, even now, that a New Advent still waits: “Behold, I am coming soon." [Revelation 22:7.]

Behold appears in the Bible in 1134 citations (in the Revised Standard Version). Often it is used as a verb, or an interjection, as we have already seen. Behold denotes wonder and surprise. Coupled with the power of the Word of God, behold invites the reader to see something that God is doing: for Scripture transmits the awesome and sublime heart of God even though it is revealed in humble human language.

Behold reminds us that God is working a wonder… a virgin conceives… God is robed in flesh… the barren become fruitful… the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is born in a manger… those condemned by sin are forgiven… the old is made new … Christ is coming again!

Finally, behold reminds me of two smaller verbs: “to be” and “ to hold.” To be is to define existence. To be held is to have or to keep in the hand.

Here’s a little word play to wonder about: What if we were to behold our existence as being held in the hand of God? And similarly, what if we were to behold God as capable of being held in our hand? Is this not our Eucharistic Lord, who comes in ways that we might know the true majesty of God-with-us?

As Advent gives way to Christmas, behold the simple, dynamic, truth as you contemplate this mystery: while the Virgin Mary enfolds the Infant Jesus in her loving arms, he encircles all of us in His.

May you behold the wonder, and be held by the wonder, and believe the wonder that is Emmanuel. Then watch what happens next.

©2008 Patricia W. Gohn

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Writer's Wednesday - Pope John XXIII

Pope John XXIII's Decalogue

Only for today, I will seek to live
the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.

Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.

Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.

Only for today, I will devote ten minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the
body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.

Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.

Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing;
and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.

Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.

Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances,
that the good providence of God cares for me as no one else who
exists in this world.

Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for twelve hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.

Bookmark and Share

Happy Advent!

Back from a bit of a break... real life was calling me away from my cyber life for a time. There was a mother who needed tending during surgery and illness, a few creative projects that have become unfocused that needed realigning, some out of town traveling, and a husband who has recently suffered a lay off due to the dismal economic woes that face us all.

But this is Advent, we still are ever reminded that we are not alone. We have the One who we have always waited for: Our Savior and Our Lord, Jesus Christ who is both here now, and on the way. Let us pray for one another and move with gratitude toward worshipping the Infant who makes our lives Ever New, eternally.

Thanks for dropping by.

Bookmark and Share