a poem by Christina Rossetti
Thou who didst hang upon a barren tree,
My God, for me;
Though I till now be barren, now at length
Lord, give me strength
To bring forth fruit to Thee.
Thou who didst bear for me the crown of thorn,
Spitting and scorn;
Though I till now have put forth thorns, yet now
Strengthen me Thou
That better fruit be borne.
Thou Rose of Sharon, Cedar of broad roots,
Vine of sweet fruits,
Thou Lily of the vale with fadeless leaf,
Of thousands Chief,
Feed Thou my feeble shoots.
Profession, whether simple or solemn, cannot be an end in an absolute sense. It is an end with regard to the past, it is a point of departure with regard to the future. And Paul insists on saying that we must be straining forward to what lies ahead. Th road that lies behind is to be forgotten: no more useless regrets, no more ‘if onlys’, no complacency about the spiritual riches we have accumulated.
In the presence of God, we are always unworthy servants, forgiven sinners, poor men. We are not to close our hands on empty space, but keep them open towards the Lord in order to receive the generosity of his love. We are sons and daughters to the extent which we are born of God; and we are born naked.
The power of forgetting is very important. It allows us to free ourselves of resentments and marks of honor, of defilements and external burdens from our past; in order to keep only what is inscribed in the essence of our beings, through which we are what we are now. Thus unburdened, we can run forward, agile and unattached, straining with all our efforts towards our end, in a manner that leaves all attainments behind, without ever pausing in this life: ‘Draw me after you, let us make haste’ (Song of Songs 1:4). Christ is always ahead of us. Union with God comes to us as a perpetual novelty, a beginning ever renewed. Supported as we are by the ladder that links earth to heaven, which Jacob saw, God calls us to ascend to him. The ladder is Christ, and each rung always leads to another above it. We are constantly at the beginning in respect to what is above us. ‘The Wound of Love’ A. Carthusian Miscellany
“In the words of the psalmist, ‘As you lie in bed, repent of what you say in your heart’ (Ps. 4:4 LXX), that is, repent in the stillness of the night, remembering the lapses that occurred in the confusion of the day and disciplining yourself in hymns and spiritual songs (cf. Col. 3:16) – in other words, teaching yourself to persist in prayer and psalmody through attentive meditation on what you read. For the practice of the moral virtues is effectuated by meditating on what has happened during the day, so that during the stillness of the night we can become aware of the sins we have committed and can grieve over them.” —St Peter of Damaskos ‘Philokalia’
The enemy pursues my soul; *
he has crushed my life to the ground;
he has made me dwell in darkness *
like the dead, long forgotten.
Therefore my spirit fails; *
my heart is numb within me.
Jesus said to the crowd:
“No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel
or sets it under a bed;
rather, he places it on a lampstand
so that those who enter may see the light.
For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible,
and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.
Take care, then, how you hear.
To anyone who has, more will be given,
and from the one who has not,
even what he seems to have will be taken away.”
Gospel of Luke chapter 8
A beautiful expression of life, a visual Dickens novel, offered itself for the experiencing. I discovered the classic French film ‘Children of Paradise’. The three hour epic was filmed in Paris during WWII, during the German occupation. It fancifully and eloquently defines rich characters in 1830s Paris, concentrating upon the theater and lovingly illustrating lower class life. I was amazed at what I felt was an authentic view into a time gone by, the wonderful life of Paris during distant times.
Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked his thoughts;
let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.
Through the sacraments of the faith I am reborn by water and the Spirit into the life of Christ. God’s life is rooted in the depth of my heart as a treasure hidden in a field; a seed of life, of knowledge and of love. My ascetic efforts are aimed at ploughing and clearing the land so that the seed may grow unobstructed. I remove the other plants and seeds in order that all energy in the soil may be available to nourish the one essential seed, and there be absorbed and transformed into it. –‘The Wound of Love’ A. Carthusian Miscellany
“A sower went out to sow his seed.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled,
and the birds of the sky ate it up.
Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew,
it withered for lack of moisture.
Some seed fell among thorns,
and the thorns grew with it and choked it.
And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew,
it produced fruit a hundredfold.”
After saying this, he called out,
“Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”
Gospel of Luke