Monthly Archives: September 2017

Transformation through sadness

…there is almost nothing I can say that will help you, and I can hardly find one useful word.  You have had many sadnesses, large ones, which passed.  And you say that even this passing was difficult and upsetting for you.  But please, ask yourself whether these large sadnesses haven’t rather gone right through you.  Perhaps many things inside you have been transformed; perhaps somewhere, someplace deep inside your being, you have undergone important changes while you were sad.  The only sadnesses that are dangerous and unhealthy are the ones that we carry around in public in order to drown them out with noise; like diseases that are treated supefically and foolishly, they just withdraw and after a short interval break out again all the more terribly; and gather inside us and are life that is unlived, rejected, lost, life that we can die of.  If only it were possible for us to see farther than our knowledge reaches, and even a little beyond the outworks of our presentiment, perhaps we would bear our sadnesses with greater trust than we have in our joys.  For they are the moments when something new has entered us, something unknown; our feelings grow mute in shy embarrassment, everything in us withdraws, a silence arises, and the new experience, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it all and says nothing.  –‘Letters to a Young Poet’ Rainer Maria Rilke


Call it dreaming

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” –Gospel of Matthew 9:9-13


Cutting loose

Neither fear nor love of self can turn the soul to God; they may sometimes change the aspect or influence the actions of a man, but they will never change his heart.  Even the slave sometimes does God’s work, but because he does not do it willingly he proves that his heart is still hard.  And the hireling too will sometimes od God’s work, but because he only does it for reward, it is clear that he is only attracted by his greed.  Where there is self-seeking, there to is self-esteem; where there is self-esteem, there too is private interest; and where private interest makes a corner for itself there rust and filth will collect.  Let fear itself be the law of a slave, by it he is bound; let greed be for the hireling his law, by it he also is confined when by it he is led off and enticed away.  Neither of these two laws is unspotted, neither can turn the soul to God; only charity can do this, because she alone can make a soul disinterested.  –St Bernard of Clairvaux in a letter to Guigo I, 5th Prior of La Grande Chartreuse


Biographer of St Bruno

He (Guigo, the fifth Prior of the Carthusians) begins by riveting your mind to the thought of sheer Truth. “Without form or comeliness, and fastened to a cross, Truth is to be worshiped.”

“The poverty of thine own inner vision of God, blind as thou art, for He is ever there, makes thee willing to go out of doors from thine own hearth, refusing to linger within thyself, as being in the dark. So thou hast nothing to do but go out gaping after external forms of bodies and the opinions of men. May God be merciful to thee, that the feet of thy mind may find no resting-place, so that somehow, O soul, thou mayest, like the dove, return unto the Ark”

–‘Upon God’s Holy Hills: I. the Guides of St Anthony of Egypt, St Bruno of Cologne, St John of the Cross’ C.C. Martindale


Penetrating deeper

We must never install ourselves in anything whatever, except in God alone.  Love requires it and spiritual poverty must go that far.  Acts of the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love reach God as he is in himself, and not just as partially refracted in the concepts of faith.  Yet this is only true if one surrenders to their dynamism of love that plunges into the unknown depths of the Mystery and leaps up toward the One who remains hidden behind the wall.  The life of prayer involves an endless transcending, a refusal to settle down, a thirst for the infinite, which shatter, one after the other, the pious and reassuring idols that we tirelessly construct, one after the other.  That is the desert.  –‘The Wound of Love’ A. Carthusian Miscellany


A Better Resurrection

a poem by Christina Rossetti

I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numb’d too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimm’d with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.

My life is like a faded leaf,
My harvest dwindled to a husk:
Truly my life is void and brief
And tedious in the barren dusk;
My life is like a frozen thing,
No bud nor greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shall—the sap of Spring;
O Jesus, rise in me.

My life is like a broken bowl,
A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perish’d thing;
Melt and remould it, till it be
A royal cup for Him, my King:
O Jesus, drink of me.



Wrath and anger are hateful things,
yet the sinner hugs them tight.
The vengeful will suffer the LORD’s vengeance,
for he remembers their sins in detail.
Forgive your neighbor’s injustice;
then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.
Could anyone nourish anger against another
and expect healing from the LORD?
Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself,
can he seek pardon for his own sins?
If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath,
who will forgive his sins?
Remember your last days, set enmity aside;
remember death and decay, and cease from sin!
Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor;
remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.


Achilles in Hades