Monthly Archives: December 2017

A turn of the century Jewish child’s experience

Just before the beginning of his troubles, Solly used to follow his Grandmother about like a little dog. He went around the house with her and to the market with her, and watching her face saw that her lips often moved.

“Who are you talking to Grandmother?” he asked one day.

“I am blessing God.”

And he learned that she blessed God many times a day. She blessed Him when she ate the fruit that grows on trees, when she smelt fragrant wood or flowers, when she smelt fruit or spice or oil. She blessed him when a storm broke, when she heard the roar of thunder and saw the flashing of lightening. She blessed him when the first white bud broke on the tree. She heard Him when a wise or learned man came to the house. She blessed Him when they saw beautiful animals, dogs, cats, and birds, and the gulls sweeping over the bows of the ships in the docks, on wings like the wings of angels. She blessed Him when she used anything new, when she put on new clothes or dressed Solly in new clothes, when she ate any kind of fruit for the first time in the season, and when the new moon rose over the chimneys.

Solly felt close to Grandmother, especially when she blessed her Lord God for beautiful dogs and cats, but he felt miles away from Grandfather, of whom, though he did not fear him, he stood in awe. Although Grandmother’s life was filled with her religious rites, they seemed homely, they brought her closer to Solly, they were domestic, sensuous and tenderly devout. But Grandfather was set apart by his prayers, his soul seemed to be soaring away, outside of their little house. Solly watched him, half in awe, half fascinated, he watched him wrapping himself in a shawl to pray, binding thongs of leather on his forehead and arm: heard his voice reading the Scripture in Hebrew as a voice from another world. He sensed both sorrow and emptiness in the old man. Sorrow that was oppressive, and emptiness that was frightening to a child as it would be to suddenly find himself alone in an empty house.

Moses Levi, in self-sought exile, did not find the promised land that he had dreamed of. Although his memories of it were dark, blood-red and black, and sodden with tears, he found that after all he could not tear out his roots from the Ghetto he had forsaken. There, the people, the Chosen People of God and his own people, were one in the solidarity of suffering. Their oneness set them apart and excluded the rest of the world. Their unity was not one that could be broken even by death. It was like hard rock made of multitudinous grains of sand, that has been washed in the salt of deep and bitter seas.

Caryll Houselander ‘The Dry Wood’


Christmas approaches

A new schedule at work promises extended free time, an intentional reduction in overtime.  The new year will bring changes.  Hopefully, the grace providing free time will allow growth in the pursuit of God.  I have ideas, yet silence, prayer, and the exercising of the moment presents a greater immersion into the sacred heart through a divine mother.  Words playing to music as I type:

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves
There’s no need for rain, it’s our own parade
Let’s not be afraid of our reflections
It’s not only you you’re looking at now

Jack Johnson ‘No Good With Faces’ from the album ‘To The Sea’

For if things are to go well with a man, one of two things must always happen to him. Either he must find and learn to possess God in works, or he must abandon all works. But since a man cannot in this life be without works, which are proper to humans and are of so many kinds, therefore he must learn to possess his God in all things and to remain unimpeded, whatever he may be doing, wherever he may be. And therefore if a man who is beginning must do something with other people, he ought first to make a powerful petition to God for His help, and put Him immovably in his heart, and unite all his intentions, thoughts, will and power to God, so that nothing else than God can take shape in that man.  Meister Eckhart 

St John of the Cross was known during his time for converting secular songs into religious themed excursions.  There is a term for such an exercise that I cannot think of right now. I like the idea of observing, adoring secular activities and artistic efforts, trusting in man and God, while centering everything within one’s religious efforts. It is an endeavor of humility, the avoiding of using religion as a hammer, the immature reduction of religion merely to a means of elevating one’s self–complexly through delusion seeking one’s self.


An Outcast Standing

Seeing things from the outside in,
Opposed to reality, a sidewinder slithers,
Seeing Things From the Inside Out,
Always being where you’re not, stalking,
A prisoner with delusions of a king,
Rather than a brother in need, lonely,
A gypsy Caravan too much settling down, isolation,
Wandering amidst wanderers, uneasy,
A dream with reflections upon a screen, images and noise,
The subconscious battling itself, a soundtrack for the voyage,
Worldly life and experiences a consequence, constructing a poor sheltering,
Always on the move wounded, hiding behind lies,
From one point observing, peering out from a manhole,
Amongst the world to within, something transformed,
Centered upon another, higher in being, a Mother,
Now within the church to without,
She was a rare thing, living pure.


Do not let me be a source of temptation

When the little frustrations of life strike: a stubbed toe, dropping something, an appliance breaking down, a near automobile accident, all the mishaps of life; may I not blame God, tempting and chiding Him.  When things in life do not go my way, when there are ways I feel I can serve the Lord greater, may I not tempt God with challenges and disgruntled complaints.  God please pour down the grace to allow me not to debate and complain, not to pout and feel sorry for myself.  Allow me to relish in the sweet glory of your majesty and mercy.

The LORD spoke to Ahaz:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary men,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel.



First reading: Prefiguring

There was a certain man from Zorah, of the clan of the Danites,
whose name was Manoah.
His wife was barren and had borne no children.
An angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her,
“Though you are barren and have had no children,
yet you will conceive and bear a son.
Now, then, be careful to take no wine or strong drink
and to eat nothing unclean.
As for the son you will conceive and bear,
no razor shall touch his head,
for this boy is to be consecrated to God from the womb.
It is he who will begin the deliverance of Israel
from the power of the Philistines.”

The woman went and told her husband,
“A man of God came to me;
he had the appearance of an angel of God, terrible indeed.
I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name.
But he said to me,
‘You will be with child and will bear a son.
So take neither wine nor strong drink, and eat nothing unclean.
For the boy shall be consecrated to God from the womb,
until the day of his death.'”

The woman bore a son and named him Samson.
The boy grew up and the LORD blessed him;
the Spirit of the LORD stirred him.

Judges chapter 13


An Author writes

If you know the secret of happiness, Reverend, for God’s sake cough it up, for we all need it enough.”

“It is being in love,” said the priest.

Solly stared at Father O’Grady with round, incredulous eyes. He had always supposed that churchmen frowned on love.

“Yes, being in love. Whatever your circumstances are, that is what is needed to turn them to joy. Unless you are in love, both riches and poverty become burdens. But when a rich man falls in love, his treasure is no longer a cause of worry and anxiety, because it is no longer something to be hoarded and hugged to himself. Instead, it is something to give away, to give to the beloved. And who would not choose a lifetime of hardship if that were, as it often is, the condition for being with the beloved?”

“There is one point though, Reverence, which you have left out. I’ll grant that being in love is the secret of happiness, but only when it is reciprocated; and, even then, provided that the other party stays faithful.”

He felt tempted to tell Father O’Grady about Ella. But Father O’Grady went on: “Precisely. That was the point I was coming to. The secret of perfect happiness is being in love with God, for God always reciprocates. Indeed, it is He who is always the suppliant. Heaven, Mr. Lee (Levin), is being in love with God. It is not something around the corner, as you put it, but something which starts here and now, and makes everything in this life joyful, even its suffering.”

“Well, Reverend, I suppose I’m a bad man, but I tell you straight, God doesn’t seem real enough to me to be in love with. And as to the other side of the penny, His loving me well that just seems quite impossible to me, and anyhow I don’t see what any of this has got to do with Father Malone’s pictures.”

“If you will be patient with me for a few minutes longer, I will tell you, Mr. Lee. You want to make people happy, so do I, and so does the Church. And she knows that the true happiness that lasts, and is not even broken temporarily by death, can only be achieved through loving God. But many people like yourself cannot grasp that as a reality. If they believe in God at all, it is only as infinitely remote Spirit whom they cannot approach, or as a hard judge whom they dare not upset. It was just to make men understand how wrong it is to think of God like that, that Christ was born of a woman and became man.

Caryll Hoselander ‘Dry Wood’