24 April 2017

Except you ravish me.


Today's readings:
And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness...
Acts 4:29

At this time there were about 3,000 Christians in the whole world. Some Protestants would have us imagine that, essentially, those 3,000 would be the entire population of Heaven. I'm not going to wager a Universalism that I won't win because of free will, but I will wager the divine economy is a bit more lenient that some want to imagine. Those 3,000 Christians had a job to do: to witness to the Kingdom of Jesus and as they set about their business they met little opposition. Yet what they met was real enough. So they prayed one kick-butt prayer:
Sovereign Lord, maker of heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them, you said by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of our father David, your servant: Why did the Gentiles rage and the peoples entertain folly? The kings of the earth took their stand and the princes gathered together against the Lord and against his anointed. Indeed they gathered in this city against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed, Herod and Pontius Pilate, together with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do what your hand and your will had long ago planned to take place. And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness, as you stretch forth your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.
The Douay is even better:
Lord, thou art he that didst make heaven and earth, the sea and all things that are in them. Who, by the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of our father David, thy servant, hast said: Why did the Gentiles rage: and the people meditate vain things? The kings of the earth stood up: and the princes assembled together against the Lord and his Christ. For of a truth there assembled together in this city against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, To do what thy hand and thy counsel decreed to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants that with all confidence they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thy hand to cures and signs and wonders, to be done by the name of thy holy Son, Jesus. 
There are two things that I find awesome about this prayer: first although they recount the history of Jesus' passion, there is no blame. Herod, Pilate, the Gentiles, and the Jews all conspired To do what thy hand and thy counsel decreed to be done. Everything was sucky, yes: but it was only what God wanted. In fact, in God's mercy, that's all that ever really happens. (All things work for the good of those who love the Lord.) So, the Church prays, "Here in Jerusalem everyone assembled against Jesus to do exactly what you planned anyway. Caiaphas, Pilate, Herod, even mighty Augustus obeys God's plans." Now that the local authorities, though, are getting wise - and telling the Church to stop being the Church - the reaction is praising God.

How different is that from us today? On the one hand some act as if we cannot do the work the Church is called to do if the law does not allow us to. Some are afraid of losing tax benefits, or other practicalities. Some are convinced that the very end of Christianity in America is upon us. And some who have us hide away, to protect ourselves from the world: locked in a perpetual Upper Room Option, for fear of the world.

To this cringing, the Early Church - all 3,000 of them - who are about to change the spiritual, sexual, relational, financial, and political shape of the known world, all say: fiddlesticks. This is them saying fiddlesticks:
That's the second thing that's awesome about this prayer - all in verse 29 - "Take note of their threats and give us the cojones to not care." (It's in the Greek...ok, maybe not.) Most importantly, and actually in the Greek, the Church asks for the grace to proclaim God's Logos. That's Jesus, brothers and sisters: the logic by which all of everything is understood and, without whom you may have all the facts in the world, but not the Truth.

Being told "Don't do anything in the name of Jesus ever again" the Church did not run away and hide but rather trusted in God's divine mercy and said, "God's got this and we're just going to keep going." This, my friends, is the Pascha Option. Life has won. #GodWins It doesn't matter how the state changes definitions, or how far the world goes to kill us off. In fact, we know that when the world does that, we're doing something right! When the Church kneels down and says, "Just give us the grace to do what you told us to do..." God's divine Boo-yah! shakes the house.

I know I'm preaching to the choir, so I will just admit how I fail all the time. I'm scared a lot. I need this prayer every moment of the day. I need to remember the Pascha Option. It's deceptively simple: We're a mess. God came - himself - to fix us and transformed the very fabric of the universe. Now, even the sucky things are God restoring us to his glory. The Jesus Psalter would have us pray "Jesus, send me here my purgatory." Send me here all the tribulations and pains I can handle to prune off my pride, my impatience, my lack of charity, my lust. That way I can be more-fit for the society of angels. Send me here the pains I deserve, the sharp corners I must turn. Put me here in the rock tumbler and make me into the Christian you want me to be.

John Donne prays:
Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me. 
None of those pains are designed to make me shut up proclaiming the divine Logos: rather, in grace, I have to breath deep of the Divine Light and shout, all the louder, from the root-top.


23 April 2017

Peregrinations

Some will know my birth-name was Bill.
Billy as my Mom calls me.
And some will know my spiritual path looks like this.
And some will just have to keep praying.
How I get there is not as important as getting there at all.

This post is made in ironic self-defense.
And sort of a sub-blog.

The Thomas Option


Today's Readings:
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews... Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.
John 20:19a, 24

Where was Thomas that first night and why was he not locked up for fear with all the others?

Fear of the Parties in Power does not mean there was any real danger. For all we know from our point in history, perhaps literally every Jew is Jerusalem was home enjoying a family meal and avoiding leavened products. Maybe they thought they'd finally done away with this trouble-maker and his disciples were only so much dust. The Romans didn't care: they did their job and killed the guy, albeit a bit unwillingly. I don't think they would want to risk much trouble on the feast either.
In the lessons from Acts this week at Mass, it would seem that Peter has to remind Caiaphas about the guy he had killed.  I don't think anyone cared. Yet the disciples had seen their master slain.  I don't think they were illogically afraid. Yet we can never know how in sync they were with what was actually going on in Jerusalem at that time. It seems possible that their emotions were getting away from them. That crazy woman was getting annoying about her gardener. Matthew says when they saw him, "they worshipped him" but, even then, "some doubted".

So where was Thomas?

The Church Fathers posit the "earthliness" or, if you will, "carnal" nature of Thomas' lack of faith. And I'm ok with that. But let me read that same claim a bit further.

Would not the same man who says "Unless I see and touch him" also say "Unless I see a soldier coming at me, I'm not going to worry about it"?  When the Apostles were hiding out, is it not possible that, seeing how scared they were, Thomas did the manly (maybe brash and stupid as well) thing and went out to grab some food? Later, when Luke and Cleopus get back from Emmaus, "The Eleven" are all there, so he was only out for a short while. "We need food: someone has to get it and I'm not going to let my fear run away with me..." sounds like the same bro who would later say, "I'm not going to let my false hopes run away with me."

This is the Thomas Option then: to not hide out for fear of Jews or Romans. To get out and do something in the service of the Community that might get you killed and know that Jesus was talking to us when he said "blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."






17 April 2017

Third Petition - Jesus Psalter


To see all the other notes in this series, click on "Jesus Psalter" or in the labels below. To see the first post click here.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus strengthen me. (x10)

Jesus strengthen me in soul and body to the performance of all virtue for thy pleasure, whereby I may attain to thy everlasting joy and felicity.
Mercifully grant me firm purpose to amend my life, doing penance for all the years I have misspent to thy displeasure in the practices of impious thoughts, enjoyments, words, deeds, and evil customs; in breaking thy commandments for which I deserve damnation and thine enmity.
Make my heart obedient to thy will and ready, for love of thee, to perform all the works of mercy.
Grant me the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the eight Beatitudes, the four Cardinal virtues; and, by the frequent and pious reception of thy Holy Sacraments, dispose me to thy devotion.

Have mercy on all sinners, O Jesus, I beseech Thee; turn their vices into virtues and, making them true observers of Thy law and lovers of Thee, bring them to bliss in everlasting glory.
Have mercy also on the souls in Purgatory, for Thy bitter passion, I beseech Thee, and for Thy glorious name, Jesus.

O blessed Trinity, one true God, have mercy on me.

Our Father (or Pater Noster). Hail Mary (or Ave Maria)


These petitions engage in one of the best pious customs of the period: making lists. This one is actually a meta-list, a list of lists! Contra the "impious thoughts, enjoyments, words, deeds, and evil customs; in breaking thy commandments" the writer posits the 14 Works of Mercy (7 corporeal, 7 spiritual),  the seven fruit of the Holy Spirit, the Eight Beatitudes, and the 4 Cardinal Virtues. Then the prayer invokes the Seven Sacraments. This pray asks for a lot! Again there is the realization that what went before Grace was sinful, take away my stoney heart and give me a heart of flesh set on fire for love of you.

16 April 2017

This happened...


Preparing to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ on Saturday Night, gathered in one room, not knowing it about each other, were:

  1. A Fraternity Brother whom I've known for 30 years.
  2. A Coworker whom I hadn't met yet.
  3. A Goddaughter from the Orthodox Church, and her husband, now returned home.
  4. A musician with enough Anglican History to pick all the right sort of music and keep me singing most of the night.
  5. Two people with whom I've spoken maybe 20 words? Who had a gift for me I wasn't expecting.
  6. A man with a bad pun on my name.
  7. A whole lot of new friends I didn't know I had.
  8. Quite a lot I already knew.



That, in a nutshell, has been my experience of the Catholic Church. "Here comes everybody." The Anglican, Prot, Eastern, Benedictine, Marian... all meet here. And some new things: the Courage Apostolate, the Angelic Warfare Confraternity, the Jesus Psalter. I used to be afraid of Dominicans... cuz of the Inquisition, you know. I didn't know my family included a Catholic martyr. The number of Lapsed Catholics - or as my friend, Bernardo says, "Collapsed Catholics" - that are in my life is astounding. Everything is here.

There are good places and bad places in the Church. There are good and bad people. There are corners of Mother Church that are nuttier than the darkest pools of Orthodox Converts on the internet; there are folks more triumphalist and sectarian than the bazillion Holy Remnant "True Churches" of Orthodoxy. Yet there is a wideness in God's Mercy, and a depth in the Church that cannot be obscured by the shallow bywaters. For every Saint Maria of Paris there is a Dorothy Day, for every Czar Martyr Nicholas, there is a St Louis. There's something else as well: I can't put my finger on it. Only half-jokingly it seems, Tu Es Petros really is a thing, after all.

Maybe it's just sheer numbers for in Russia or Greece it must be the same for the Eastern Church. Orthodoxy preaches the same divinely revealed moral teachings as the Roman Church. Yet in this country she rarely gets accused (other than by her own members) of interfering in modern secular "values" and "moral choices". Orthodoxy is "Mystical" whereas the Catholic Church is political and scary. Those politics can be viewed as isolated from the Church's Doctrines and thus as "Left" or "Right". Or they can be taken as an integral whole and seen as transcending earthly partisanship. But these political actions can (nearly) never be confused with "mystical" and "spiritual but not religious", therefore, "safe" for the modern world.

Perhaps in Russia or Greece, she does hospitals and orphanages and food for the poor. I say "perhaps" but I'm reasonably certain of it. Were I in Russia, it's Catholicism that would be the Boutique. Here, it's hard for a member of the Orthodox Parish Council to donate a sign to hang outside with service times for fear the wrong sort of people will come in the door.

Some would say I've left the Boutique and gone to Wal*Mart. But the grace is no less dearly given, nor the piety less deeply prayed, the teachings no less strongly struggled for or lived. The podcasts tend to be about beer, politics, and birthin' babies. The priests tend to sound rather like Bros and Bubbas. Or - and I'm hella lucky here - Surfer Dudes.

I'm on Aisle 42, near the avocados, hunting camo, and inflatable pools. I'm trying to engage the culture and learn New Evangelism, Theology of the Body, and Rosary-based-but-not-the-Rosary forms of prayer.

Also I'm in love.

Christ is Risen!


The Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom 

If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast.
If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord.
If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.
If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast.
If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived thereof.
If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing.
If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.

And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts.
And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering.
Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second.
You rich and poor together, hold high festival.
You sober and you heedless, honor the day.
Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast.
The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously.
The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.

Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free.
He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it.
By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive.
He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh.

And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions.
It was embittered, for it was abolished.
It was embittered, for it was mocked.
It was embittered, for it was slain.
It was embittered, for it was overthrown.
It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains.
It took a body, and met God face to face.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory?

Christ is risen, and you are overthrown.
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen.
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice.
Christ is risen, and life reigns.
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.

For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

-----

A desktop image, based on the Resurrection Icon by Mark Dukes for St Gregory of Nyssa Parish in San Francisco. At one time this Icon was given to all new members of the parish.  Click on it to embiggen and save to use as a desktop if you wish.

14 April 2017

Sonnet for Friday's Dawn


X - Peter
Now Peter, liar, rock, Apostle, friend
Here come I carefully to you: for pot
& kettle are both black. May we be not
That far by prayer each from the other's end.

The Priceless One betray’d by campfire hot:
Your Galilean drawl just cant. Yet I
Without a legal threat will try
To hide by options crafty, Christ forgot.

Dear Peter, priests through you our Christ did buy.
But watching here in pity & with fear
We hear betrayal as the dawn grows near:
Despair not lest away you trod & die.

Lo e’en the very Church's rock will bend
Until unfailing grace God to him send.

13 April 2017

For late Thursday night


IX - The Garden
In lunar brilliancy they walking show
mid leafy branches' budding scented bloom
& grasses warmed in vernal sun now groom
Gethsemane, in paschal light aglow.

We waiting here, he forward goes for room
To falling, praying, moaning, sighing, bled
To sobbing, straining, weeping, sweating, red
Till far away is heard the tramp of doom

Apostles wake upon their grassy bed
To find the traitor with the temple guards
Is come. And boldly striding cross the yards
Afore Messiah stop’d he smiling said

Hail Master! Teacher surly me you know.

With both lips with no words the nails in go.

12 April 2017

A 2nd Sonnet for Thursday

VIII - Eucharist
He wash'd their feet & now would make them free:
a mundane miracle will now combine.
The God-Man bids that man on God will dine
& daily service now makes unity.

These common building blocks of bread & wine
our Saviour takes into his holy hands
& those, around him sat, his love commands
in mystic rites to make all men divine.

The Apostolic preaching in all lands
will be enliven'd by this bread. God gives
to Church  her dancing food. She moves & lives
By sacraments now altar'd by Christ's hands.

Salt, flour, water, grapes, & yeast we see
yet very flesh & blood of God they be.

First Sonnet for Thursday


VII - The Washing
At Table: Christ Mandatum Novum do
to us that we in love should brothers hold
as He embodies love for us. Thus bold
in love the nations seeing might him know.

Example: washing feet in servant's mold!
To each apostle come in turn: St Pete
refuses God now kneeling at his feet.
"An not I wash you then be gone" is told.

Yet even strengthen'd well this night unmeet
you will deny me thrice. Belov'd take heart:
you show how human weakness plays its part
til providential saving plan's complete

Reshod thus Peter savéd, wash'd did go
to felling by a maid at sunrise crow.

10 April 2017

The Final Sonnets (for now)


V Spy Wednesday - Judas
Now Judas thief & liar, devil, friend
Here come I carefully to you: for pot
& kettle are both black. & we are not
That far I think each from the other's end.

The Priceless One you sold for not a lot:
the price of one escapéd slave. Yet I
just any petty lust or care will buy
with love I owe to him; his love forgot.

Dear Judas, priests through you the Christ did buy
I understand & pity for I fear
That I your course can eas'ly find quite near:
Your steps for hunger's slake I trod & die.

Lord Christ forbid that I my feet will wend
on damning ways that Satan to me sends.

VI Interlude
The actors all are here in place, our play
is set! The curtain ready rises now:
Apostles, Traitor, Priests, & King all bow.
Let us kneel down to watch the passion fray.

Here Pharisees assembled make a vow.
Here Judas strides with kiss through garden's night.
Here Pilot waits for judging by his light.
Here Christ the Lamb of God all disavow.

Foul Clergy here will mock & slay a blight.
Confus'd Apostles here lost to a man.
Great Romans here made tools in God’s own plan.
Poor Women here will, mourning, get it right.

Tiz God's victor'ous Coronation Day
when death itself our God by death shall slay!

Two more Holy Week Sonnets


III Holy Monday - Pharisees
Ye scribes & lawyers, hypocrites ye brood
of vipers: pharisees who twirl the law
to lure a proselyte into your maw
then spit out worse; within your precepts stewed!

The Torah's words from out your crooked craw
draw obligations far too hard to bear.
Our God's Revealéd words for making fair
you twist in ways that Moses never saw.

But turn ye now from that corrupted fare
& belly up to God's reforming grace
Which calls the people of another race
to make both one in his redeeming care

The Jews & Gentiles both hath God pursu'd
Would at his table both by Christ include.

IV Holy Tuesday - the Harlot
When trapp'd in sins the night without a moon
is dark: no hope nor freedom found in lust
that fills this moment's craving only. Trust
Alone in God can make his lovers swoon.

To Christ now so she comes. As come she must
for rest, to whom men come for passions' fall.
So she whose empt'ing man can't fill can call
to him whose emptying salvation thrust

to hell and every time of Terra's ball.
His feet that soundéd first in Eden's glen
she bathes in tears. She dries with hair & then
anointing them: her love repairs her fall.

Yet Judas fails to see this grace who soon
is damnt as dances she to Jesus' tune.

09 April 2017

First three sonnets for Holy Week


Prelude
O Lord always majestic is thy name.
No man may sing thy praises worthily
& mould'ring - wanting words to hear & see
is often in believers' hearts thy fame.

Still yet we try with prose & harmony
to render mysteries in physic's space:
depicting love as icons show thy face
to offer latria enfleshedly.

If Donne like saints, though sleeping, lend his grace
unlettered I make bold on pages ink'd
to build in classic form of couplets link'd
& structured verses, thus thy praises trace.

Lest Onan's songs on formless pride I frame
Creator God the Word my words enflame.

I - Lazarus Saturday
Tiz better to have lov'd & lost: so said
the Bard when speaking of the heart's romance.
What would he say of God & man who dance
As friends til mortal man is stoppéd dead?

Then God can weeping fall in mourner's trance
While sisters, neighbors, pharisees, & all
will wonder at his healing advent's stall:
when but one touch restor'd the blind man's glance.

But God has come prophetic'ly to fall
the gates of death. Our Lover's voice will part
hell's ramparts. Raising Laz'rus by God's art:
The tyrant soon will rule an empty hall.

Here he whom four days dead in darkness tread
Rejoices now and rests in his own bed

II - Palm Sunday
All glory laud & honor children sing:
to thee hosanna, Lord, hosanna! Praise
we thee with them, our olive branches raise.
Thy train in triumph through the gate we bring

With garments strewn the road to glory lays:
what ails the crowd that soon they'll turn away?
Here where we hear hosanna cried today
great hearts will fail as darkness on them preys.

O Lord prevent our hearts that make essay
of crowning Thee as Israel's King & God
from dancing to temptation's tunes that prod
like cattle us, thine image thus to slay.

Let us not join them as thy hands they sting
with nails & in our name they kill their king.

08 April 2017

The Second Petition - The Jesus Psalter

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, help me. (x10)

Jesus help me to overcome all temptation to sin and the malice of my ghostly enemies.
Help me to spend my time in virtue and in labors acceptable to thee, to repress in my flesh the motions of sloth, gluttony, and lust.
Help me to have a heart fully in love with virtue and the holy desire of Thy glorious presence.
Help me through pious and peaceful living with my neighbors to have and to keep a good name, to Thy honor, and to my consolation.

Have mercy on all sinners, O Jesus, I beseech Thee; turn their vices into virtues and, making them true observers of Thy law and lovers of Thee, bring them to bliss in everlasting glory.
Have mercy also on the souls in Purgatory, for Thy bitter passion, I beseech Thee, and for Thy glorious name, Jesus.

O blessed Trinity, one true God, have mercy on me.

Our Father (or Pater Noster). Hail Mary (or Ave Maria)


Here (and in the first petition) we see the general themes laid out, of taking things one has - sloth, gluttony, lust - and exchanging them for things one should have: a love of virtue and a desire for God's presence. In this prayer "a good name" assumes that all one's neighbors are more-pious, holier Christians than oneself and that to have their good judgement is to have become more like them. This is very orthodox thinking in the Christian East as well as the West: I am the only sinner I know. Yes, we have all sinned and fallen short, but I am the only sinner I know. The state of your soul is not for me to judge, but rather something for which I should intercede and always assume the best.

The prayer to "haue my hart enamored of vertue, & the glorious prefence of thee" as it is printed in the 1599 text, is one of a sort that will be seen often: my heart is drawn away from you, God, but give me a heart, rather, that is drawn to you that I can become more like you.

The First Petition - Jesus Psalter

This whole series can be found under Jesus Psalter Series in the sidebar. The reader is referred there for "how to" and any historical notes. To the latter I will add more as I find them. Each petition will be posted in the same format: the petition itself, which is to be said ten times, followed by a collection of prayers compiled from my available sources, including in bold, the ones that see to be "the original" prayers, to differentiate them. (It will be noted that the first prayer is always the Petition plus an embolism which clarifies the intention. Then the closing prayer, Pater Noster, and Ave. 

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, have mercy on me. (x10)

Jesus, have mercy on me, O God of compassion, and forgive the many and great offenses I have committed in Thy sight. 
Many have been the follies of my life, and great are the miseries I have deserved for my ingratitude.
Have mercy on me, dear Jesus, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, who am unable to help myself.
Deliver me from setting my heart upon any of Thy creatures, which may divert my eyes from continually looking up to Thee.
Grant me grace henceforth, for the love of Thee, to hate sin: and out of a just esteem of Thee, to despise worldly vanities.

Have mercy on all sinners, O Jesus, I beseech Thee; turn their vices into virtues and, making them true observers of Thy law and lovers of Thee, bring them to bliss in everlasting glory.
Have mercy also on the souls in Purgatory, for Thy bitter passion, I beseech Thee, and for Thy glorious name, Jesus.

O blessed Trinity, one true God, have mercy on me.

Our Father (or Pater Noster). Hail Mary (or Ave Maria)

A comment on the common concluding prayer, of course, "All Sinners" includes the person praying. The subtext of "change their vices into virtues" is that all vices are only misdirected virtues. There is no positive evil: only a deficiency of good in some area. One fails to love God enough and loves other things instead. But it is still love.

03 April 2017

Jesus Psalter - Notes and Practice


Each section of the Psalter (a Section is Five Decades) opens with the recitation of two verses of Scripture, Philippians 2:10-11.
In nomine Jesu omne genu flectatur caelestium, terrestrium et infernorum, Et omnis lingua confiteatur, quia Dominus Jesus Christus in gloria est Dei Patris.
In the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth: And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father. 
The Psalter of 1599 (above, left) only has two petitions in the first decade while the later edition has many more. The online edition has several petitions of the same sort as the later one.
Jesus, have mercy on me, O God of compassion, and forgive the many and great offenses I have committed in Thy sight. Many have been the follies of my life, and great are the miseries I have deserved for my ingratitude. Have mercy on me, dear Jesus, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, who am unable to help myself. Deliver me from setting my heart upon any of Thy creatures, which may divert my eyes from continually looking up to Thee.  Grant me grace henceforth, for the love of Thee, to hate sin: and out of a just esteem of Thee, to despise worldly vanities. 
Because of this (and other differences between the editions) it seems that the earlier texts of the devotion might have had only one or two petitions - plus the prayer "Have mercy on all sinners" &c., ending in the Pater Noster and the Ave. The whole point was to set up a meditation on the thirty-fold invocation. "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus..." a couple of petitions and the meditation (ad hoc by the devotee, or prompted by other materials).  It helps if we think of this like a Rosary. We know an Rosary is supposed to be more than just quickly saying the ten Aves and one Pater Noster, one Gloria, and one O, my Jesus. But most of the time - especially in public recitation - the Rosary gets turned into just that.

When you read a text on how to pary the Rosary there is a complex "Contemplation" included for each decade.  You'll not get it memorized! You're not supposed to: it's intended as a bridge or springboard to your own inner world. I hear advice that people should "say the Rosary while driving" and I think "OMG No!  It's hella more dangerous than cellphones!"  It's a bit more involved: it can take minutes to read, but an hour to pray. I see some advising doing only a decade of the rosary in 15 mins: thus, a properly done one would take almost an hour and a half. That's advanced - very advanced - but not a bad target. Nor is it, in time, a bad target for the Psalter.

29 March 2017

The Jesus Psalter


I first heard of the Jesus Psalter reading Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson's wonderful Come Rack, Come Rope, a love story set in the time of the Elizabethan Pogroms. It was also my first introduction to how those Pogroms were conducted - hunters, star courts, betrayals, simony, etc. Reading such a story can drive one to despair, or conversion. The Jesus Psalter is mentioned a couple of times in the opening portion of the book, both rather offhandedly.
...in Marjorie at least, as will be seen more plainly later, there was a strong love of Jesus Christ and His Mother, whom she knew, from her hidden crucifix and her (rosary) beads, and her Jesus Psalter--which she used every day..
And:
Her advice, besides that which has been described, was, principally, to say his Jesus Psalter more punctually, to hear mass whenever that were possible, to trust in God, and to be patient and submissive with his father in all things that did not touch divine love and faith. 
As it turns out, despite Benson's passing mention of it, it was a very important text in the Bad Old Times. It became a focus of piety for the beleaguered Catholic Church which historical context adds levels of meaning to the devotion.  As a side note: this is why I think it's important today. It fell out of use over the last 500 years, but today we may need it again. There are Christians in name who will not fail to turn over the Faithful, I think, if things get much rockier.

So, being the religious geek I am, I had to go looking for it. And it's out there, in a tiny few places.  The first place I found it was in on a website devoted to Latin prayers. I liked it, printed it out, and used it at the Monastery. Fr T even wants to reprint it. Then I found another text last summer, much more ancient, via Google Play. It is from a prayerbook published in 1599. (It's here in the Google Play Store.)The Full Title (as such were, in those days) is:
A Manuall of Praiers, gathered out of many famous and good authors, as well auncient as of the time present. Distributed according to the daies of the Weeke. Whereunto is added a newe Calendar, with the order to helpe at masse. (Certaine deuout and Godly petitions, commonly called: Jesus Psalter.)
More recently (this month, in fact) I was handed a copy of the text printed by the Catholic Truth Society in the 1940s.

The Jesus Psalter is a set of 15 invocations of the name of Jesus, recited in "decades" as on the traditional Dominican Rosary, but each invocation is different. Each one includes a threefold recitation of the Divine Name and each decade ends with a a set of the same prayers, including the Pater Noster and the Ave. Each set of five decades ends with the Credo as well. Later editions of the text have a longer prayer said at the end of each five.   Each decade, between the invocations, there is a series of meditations. Although they have a common theme, they vary between each edition I have. The oldest one from 1599, doesn't have meditations for all the decades and some are limited to only one or two sentences. This leads me to the conclusion that the meditations were intended to be personalized. This is as in, again, the Dominican Rosary, which is meant to be prayed (perhaps with a guidebook) until it comes "into one's soul" and forms its own set of meditations in the heart.

Another difference in various online editions is a confusion about how the decades are said. Here I will go with the one that is most logical - and also included in the 1599 text: each invocation is intended to be said 10 times with 3 repetitions of the name of Jesus in each invocation. Thus the Holy Name gets said 150 times in each set of 5 decades and thence we get the name Psalter: for "Jesus" is said once for each of the 150 Psalms. Add that to the daily practice of the Rosary, 150 Aves said in sequence (through the 15 traditional mysteries), and the laity would get 9 sets of "Psalter Equivalences" each week.

When read as a sequence, you can see the progression of thought through the 15 invocations:

  1. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, have mercy on me.
  2. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, help me.
  3. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, strengthen me.
  4. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, comfort me.
  5. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, make me constant.
  6. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, enlighten me.
  7. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, grant me grace to fear Thee.
  8. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, grant me grace to love Thee.
  9. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, grant me grace to remember my death.
  10. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, send me here my purgatory.
  11. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, grant me grace to flee evil company.
  12. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, grant me grace to call to Thee for help.
  13. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, grant me grace to persevere in virtue.
  14. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, grant me grace to fix my mind on Thee.
  15. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, grant me grace to order my life to Thee.

I'll do more posts on this. Look for the label "Jesus Psalter".  Peace.

25 March 2017

Holy Things for the Holy


At RCIA we discussed sex and sexuality.  What an interesting thing, in the context of (Adult and Teen) confirmation class, to have an entire session devoted to sex. I say interesting because I think in 12 years I've heard the topic come up only a couple of times, and never as the main topic of teaching. It was certainly never touched on in adult classes. Archbishop Benjamin once mentioned marriage in a sermon that was on the topic of "we will never change our teaching" but without talking about what that teaching actually was.

Anyway: Father started with Does the Church say sex is good or bad? Uncomfortable laughing. No really, he asked again. Finally getting a few answers, he said that the Church teaches sex is holy, a Divine gift. From the beginning of the human story the first commandment is to participate in God's bringing forth life. My brain wafted off on a meditation then. The issue is not sin or evil sex, then, but rather the constant essay at desacralizing sex. We just want it to be fun, useful, no more nor no less what we want it to be. It's taking the leavened Lamb of the Byzantine Liturgy, after the anaphora, and slicing it up, serving it with butter, lemon curd, and tea.

Amusingly: there are those Christians who would do that to the communion bread. They also don't think sex should be held that way either. This is the real issue. We live in a world that tries to define Sacred beyond its properly described boundaries. That is the only issue around sex.

But it is not the only place this same issue comes up.

I had a conversation once with my housemate in Astoria, NY. We were walking home from "the bars" at 4:30 or 5:00 AM on a Saturday. We were talking about a song that was running through my head from a TV show I'd seen once in childhood. I couldn't remember the rest of the show - and he couldn't place it from the fragment I had in my head (it's in the video below). But I pointed out to him that it came up whenever something was "impossible" but I knew it wasn't. I took it as a sign that things would be ok. He looked me square in the face and said,"There has to be something in your life that doesn't mean something else." In fact, there is nothing of the sort. Nor, until recently, did I know that this was the case for anyone. I just assumed that for most of us the issues was disagreeing about what things meant.  Evidently, for some folks sex (and other things) only mean the thing itself.

I have no idea how that could even be.



24 March 2017

Liturgical Doodles


I'm given to understand that "back in the day" there were no "Vigil Masses" on Saturday Night and that proper piety in the West (as in the East) involved attending Saturday Vespers where one might also make confession. I've no idea if this "day" was 100 years ago or 1,000, but Saturday Vespers leading into Sunday seem a good thing.

I know also from my Anglo-Catholic days that at one time (up until the mid 20th Century) Sunday also included a parochial Sung Vespers (Evensong) service together with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.  The snarky queens in Seminary would call it Evenscreach and Cookie Worship before going out to serve the pious of whom they made such fun.

The Slavic Orthodox tradition serves something called "the All-Night Vigil" on Saturdays. Although it is usually only 2.5 hours long at the fullest, it can be made torturously into nearly eight hours of worship. Liturgically, though, it is "all night" in that it is Vespers and Compline of the previous evening, together with Matins and the first hour (Prime) of Sunday. So leaving Church at some late evening point on Saturday, it is already Sunday at Dawn, in liturgical time, anyway.  This is not done in other Orthodox traditions, perhaps because the long Russian Winter Nights required the whole parish to pray together for warmth.

Read as a package, all of these events from the Slavic Vigil service to the Anglo-Catholic Benediction, with Sunday mass in the middle, of course, can be seen to be ways of "extending the Sabbath", of letting the weekly Feast of the Resurrection be longer than just one midmorning Communion service. This is, it seems to me, a laudable practice. Yet if one were to try to attempt sch a thing in a modern, Novus Ordo parish there would be a mass on Saturday night, and probably two more on Sunday afternoon and evening that would get in the way. Vigil Masses and multiple Sunday Masses are pastoral necessities, dictated by the cruise-ship size of many parishes as well as the work schedules of many people for whom 9-5 M-F is a middle class, mostly White, largely Suburban possibility. What follows, therefore, is only a doodle, a sort of Fantastic Liturgical Voyage, using the tools available to a parish of a certain size, in a way that would be fully within the Western, Catholic tradition and using it to the fullest.

Saturday Evening: A seemless wedding of Vespers with the Office of Readings, including the Vigil Canticles, Resurrection Gospel, and the Te Deum.

This is done by moving the intercessions from the end of Vespers to the end of the Office of Readings.

The Psalms and Canticles could be chanted by the congregation and the choir, or else a little of both: with the choir doing fancy versions, whilst the Congregation sticks to antiphonal chanting and/or reading. There are hymns appointed, although there are many available. Using the Psalm Prayers and adding a Homily would make this a fuller experience, as would laying on of incense at the Magnificat and at the Te Deum. Venite optional...

Early Low Mass on Sunday w/Morning Prayer.
This is currently done at my Dominican Parish on Saturday. The Psalms of Saturday Morning Prayer are chanted before the Penitential Rites, with the Benedictus sung as a post communion. This could be done as easily on Sunday.

Pull out all the stops for High Mass on Sunday.

Then, Sunday evening, once again with the Psalms, serve Evening Prayer and Benediction, followed by Sunday Compline. Incense at the Magnificat, at Benediction, and at the Nunc Dimitiis in Compline.  Again, take the intercessions from the end of Vespers and add them to the end of Compline.  If needed a Homily or reflection could be done after the Benediction.

I would, fantastically, add shared parochial meals before the evening services and after the High Mass.  This also comes from Byzantine practice, and as a community building tool it cannot be underestimated. Let the men's club do Sunday night, the Women's club Saturday, with the Youth doing a perpetual Pancake brunch on Sunday.

Again, just dreaming.  But if you got a Liturgy of the Hours book handy, you can see what all it could be.

23 March 2017

Fer'im R Agin'im?



Today's readings:

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
Qui non est mecum, contra me est: et qui non colligit mecum, dispergit.
Luke 11:23

This verse is often contrasted with Luke 9:50, which seems to say the reverse:

Whoever is not against you is for you.
Qui enim non est adversum vos, pro vobis est.
Luke 9:50 (or Mark 9:40)

I used to wrestle with this, but it seems to me tonight to be two parts of the same teaching - not two contradictory statements.  Jesus never says "Whoever is not against me is for me."  He says, about himself, whoever is not with me is against me. It's notable that he's speaking of Satan in this passage as "not with me".  But he's speaking of the Church in "Whoever is not against you" (which pronoun is plural and so should be translated "against all y'all").

What this means to my eyes is that we cannot call Christians those who hold only lukewarm ideas of Christ: if they are not with him, they are against him. But the Church can call these same people friends or Ecclesial Communities, if they don't hinder us in our evangelism. They can work with the Church in our outreach, our social ministry. But we cannot afford to confuse common, if you will, political goals, with our God-revealed telos or right-ending.  The purpose of our actions must always be ad astra, or to the stars. The purpose of our politics is not earthly: the Church does nothing that cannot be for the salvation of others.

Jesus, being God, reveals the telos, the end point of all creation in time. Jesus, being man, reveals the telos of human nature in divinity. Whoever is not with him - fully, wholeheartedly,  committedly - is against him. If you're not willing to give all and die, go home.  By the same token, if you're willing to put up with us, with our insanity, with our prolife marches, our teachings on sex, our insistence that there is one right way upwards, then come to the party! Even if you think we're making all the stuff up, you're welcome. But if you just want us to pretend to be a social organization, a political club, or some kind of fancy-dress cheerleading squad for your partisan politics, we will have to decline.

21 March 2017

70x7=Eternity

From CatholicLink
Today Readings:


Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
Dicit illi Jesus: Non dico tibi usque septies: sed usque septuagies septies.
Matthew 18:22

Forgiveness is one of the seven Spiritual Works of Mercy. The full list is at the end of the posting. I don't find these easier (or more difficult) than the Corporal (Bodily) Works of Mercy (also listed at the end of the post). I think because I'm not very merciful, all of these things are hard for me except praying for the dead, although I think that's more my own superstition than my own act of mercy.

At Church we've been meditating on these words of Mercy for a while. They were doing the Corporal one in the Fall of last year - wrapping up just as I got by to SF. We started on the Spiritual works at the end of January and I've been participating in a small group discussing these every Monday morning. By "coincidence" we began discussing forgiveness this week.

This is fresh and so four stories come to mind:

Three of bullies in school (one in grade school, two in high school) and of my wonky journey trying to find a vocation in God's Church. These stories come up because I can tell them as if they happened yesterday, and as if someone actually set out to cause me harm.

That was what came to me yesterday morning, meditation with my group: it's rather easy to forgive if you realize most things that hurt you are not done to you, personally. The driver who made stupid errors on the highway as you were leaving work tonight did not set out to ruin your day, to cause you damage. Even the bullies only failed because they objectify their victims: they are not hurting persons, they are hurting objects.

There are, I'm sure, people who hurt people knowingly and willingly, although I cannot mention them without invoking Godwin's law. But even these people failed to see their victims as people.

Forgiveness comes when we see the other as person.

When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’
Egressus autem servus ille invenit unum de conservis suis, qui debebat ei centum denarios: et tenens suffocavit eum, dicens: Redde quod debes.
Matthew 18:28

But the other thing that gives rise to forgiveness is awareness of our own sinfulness, of our own weakness. Knowing how much one has sinned helps in letting go of the sins of others. That is, after all, the name of the game, is it not: forgive my sins as I forgive others. forget all the things I've done in exactly the same way I forget all the things done to me.

In that light, I'm in so much trouble! See: I may never have been personally harmed. But grudges are personal. I'm embarrassed to say I know the names of bullies. I look them up from time to time on Facebook to see how messy their lives are. (As if mine wasn't also messy.) It is our pride - our wounded worldly pride - that hold on to these moments.

But what about other moments? The forgiveness of people who only indirectly harmed one (and again, not personally) may be even harder. I lost a job once to an embezzlement, the thief didn't set out to steal my job, as such, but she did - and the jobs of many of my friends.  Her story can make me feel I need a few belts of whiskey. What about your "political enemies"? Do they even know you - you, personally - exist? Do they know that their actions are hurting you? Do you imagine they sit up at night and say, "How shall I hurt her tomorrow?" Can you forgive them anyway?

Here, too, it is our wounded pride that holds on to these things. Here, too, it is our humility, and our desire to emulate Jesus that will save us.

These questions are not terribly important in a world where one has power. One can forget to forgive in a world where one comes home at night and comfortably rests in a high-backed arm chair watching drivel on Netflix.  But how important to our salvation would it be to forgive those who take away our tax exempt status because of our teachings on sex? How important is it for us to pray here and now for the forgiveness of those who - not knowing any of us personally - would still lead us off into concentration camps or unemployment, or worse.

Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

I said at group on Monday that we need to come to a place where our forgiveness of our enemies is a massive evangelism. "Off with her head!" 'I forgive you.' "Off with his head!" 'I forgive you.', "Off with their heads!" 'I forgive you.' Seventy times Seven we must do that or, at least, one more time beyond our own head on the block.

If we don't get there, we may all be doomed - along with those we damn by our lack of living the Gospel.

The Spiritual Works of Mercy

  • To instruct the ignorant.
  • To counsel the doubtful.
  • To admonish sinners.
  • To bear patiently those who wrong us.
  • To forgive offenses.
  • To console the afflicted.
  • To pray for the living and the dead.

The Corporal Works of Mercy

  • To feed the hungry.
  • To give water to the thirsty.
  • To clothe the naked.
  • To shelter the homeless.
  • To visit the sick.
  • To visit the imprisoned, or ransom the captive.
  • To bury the dead.


20 March 2017

Work? What Work?


Today's Readings:


Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. 
Joseph, fili David, noli timere accipere Mariam conjugem tuam.
Matthew 1:20

You'll admit that Joseph was brave.
What would people say?
And goodness knows that Jesus would never look like him.
Genetics just don't work that way.
But God does.

Is it conceivable, pardon the pun, that God would craft it so that Jesus looks like Joseph's son, so that he blends in with the sons and daughters of Joseph? Why would you say no to that? Why would God say no to that?The (otherwise excellent) TV show, "Jesus of Nazareth" has a blond boy child being raised by to really rather Jewish looking parents. No, I think not: standing out like that makes no sense at all. I bet God would fix it.

Jesus was also left by his Father under this man's tutelage. Jesus was God in the Flesh, knowing all things and having all wisdom, but his flesh went through all the stages of development you and I - and all humans - did. His brain was void and formless, and although he may have had that eternal connection to God the Father always present, it was the schooling of Joseph that gave it shape, that taught it words, that gave sense to "Father". Joseph was "Daddy" (Abba) to the unschooled, developing brain of Jesus.

And so this man, Joseph the Just, Joseph the Most Chaste, Joseph the most loyal, the most devoted, the most patient, the most faithful: this man shows Jesus, first, what "God the Father" really means.

This man is the Patron and Protector of the Universal Church, why? because the Church is the Body of Christ, brought forth from the womb of the Virgin Mary, but fed, housed, clothed, protected, educated, and trained up in manhood by this man, this mortal.

It is a lame joke to point out that between Jesus the Son of God and Mary, the most Immaculate Virgin, if something was wrong in that house it was Joseph's fault. But he was there, and he still prays for us.

Since leaving the Monastery, I've discovered a great devotion to this man, not least in my work, itself. Joseph is, to me, the model of devoting my work to God: because as he did his work, manfully, devotedly, fully, so he was protecting God, himself, on earth. Carpentry is not sacred, per se, but Joseph made his carpentry a sacrifice to God.

And so how can we do the same?

I wrestle with this because I don't work. In fact, no one I know works except a few friends in Buffalo. Work means labor, moving stuff. Work is measured best in "Horsepower": how many horses moving how much weight in how much time? That's not typing, writing, or, let's be honest, moving papers. Most of us reading this would be lost if we had to lift stuff.

Jesus "hired" fishermen and he told them they'd be "fishers of men". Paul was a tentmaker up until he got arrested. The only people Jesus ever freed from their work (to do better things) were people who didn't do actual work: tax collectors, rabbis, and prostitutes. I think this is important. What work would I be doing if I actually had to, you know, work? Even St Benedict had his entirely contemplative monks do work. The motto of his order is, after all, Ora et Labora: "Prayer and work".  Can a Christian who doesn't work (ie, do actual manual labor) be devoting his work to his salvation and the salvation of the world? How?

19 March 2017

Her Englightenment


Today's readings:


Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one speaking with you."
Dicit ei Jesus: Ego sum, qui loquor te.
John 4:26

You'll be happy to know this never happened.  Well, something like this may have happened, you know; but this, this event, never happened. Jesus never made any claims about his messiah-ness or his divinity.  So this talk where Jesus seems to "magically" know what this woman was doing and where he uses the Divine Name ("I AM") and claims to be the Messiah of Israel - this never happened.

It was learning that this never happened, sitting in a sermon (and later a Bible Class) in an Episcopal Church that made me lose my faith and leave the church for good.

Leave, that is, a group that claimed that this never happened. I gave up my faith in those who try to be Christians by denying Christ. The whole "Jesus never XYZ" crap.

I left all the shystery, shenanigans, and shell games (and bullshit) that deny not only 2000 years of Christian teachings but also denies the 4000 years of Jewish prophecies fulfilled by those teachings as well as millennia of human expectations those prophecies manifests.

I lost my faith. But found the Faith At the same time, but by a much slower process, I began to realize that it was not just my faith I need to lose.  For our modern, liberal shell game can confirm us in a lot of shit, too. We have to get rid of that...

This woman standing at the well seems to know a lot about Jesus. Have you noticed that? She, too, is a Biblical Scholar: not of the sort that denies the Bible, but of the sort that reads it in faith. She sits down at night and worries about her five husbands and the one that's not her husband. Even as she lays down next to the latter and says her prayers.

What would I do, she wonders, if Messiah were to come?

These are the thoughts she has even as she goes to the well in the noonday sun alone, not at early morning when all the neighbor ladies go together: she can't take their hypocritical gossip and snark. It strikes too close to home, first off; and secondly they've known her all her life.

The first husband was Dad's fault. She should never have been betrothed when she was eight, but Dad wanted the property next door. The boy didn't love her, and, truth be told, it would have been stupid for him to say otherwise. No one in town was surprised when he put her away and found someone his own age.

The second husband was love. He loved her and she loved him. And he loved her despite the lies her first husband had to to utter to get out of the marriage. She loved him all the more for that love that made her feel clean again, and like dancing in the spring. And when the Roman Army drafted him off to some "troubles" in Egypt she wept and waited... and would still be waiting, to be honest, if he hadn't gotten her pregnant. And raising a young child alone, even on Dad's income from the property... this wasn't happening in that town. And after five years of no word, the Rabbi let her get married again. To someone who wanted the property and loved her as much as the first one did.

But he did love the daughter. A little too much as it happened. And she put him away and had to give up her property at the same time.

The Rabbi arranged the fourth one: a widower and her. It made perfect sense, and while it wasn't love, it was firm. He had two grown sons - who did not begrudge his new wife caring for their aging father so they didn't have to. And when he died, she mourned truly. Her daughter finally had an dowry, and she, too, was safe. And when her daughter's husband moved into the house, they built her a cottage with a garden. It was a family, finally.

And then this young man showed up.  And things happened, and the family smiled because she was happy, but he was a gentile drifter, and he would come and go. But he always came back. And so... People talked - because they knew. And she didn't care, really... but they could talk painfully in her presence, and they didn't know, with their normal life story, that sometimes, life can suck.

And yet, here was a man claiming to be what? A prophet? No, the messiah? No, God! This man was using the Divine Name... and standing right in front of me and if you couldn't feel the Love standing right there you were dead... no, she finally decided, even if one were dead you'd feel the Love.

And then a new affair began: but this was forever Love. And he loved her around all the corners, not despite the the mess, but through it. She realized that love - real love - was what everyone was looking for. Some human relationships mirror that quest better than others, but all of them are attempts at it. Here, however was real love that demanded all her relationships line up with it. Here was love that wouldn't let her settle for just earthly happiness - even the good stuff. And certainly not the bad stuff. Here was Love that wanted to lift her out of mere living into Life.

If you go to a church of the Enlightened Sort where this never happened, you should count your lucky stars.

They're all you've got.