Oh Lord, purify me, make me a chalice in which you dwell, offer your sacrifice in me and spread your love through me. Let me shine like gold, adorn me with the jewels of virtue that I may always be open to you. Fill me. Overflow me. Let me be like that most perfect vessel, the Singular Vessel of Devotion, She to whom I cry for protection against the Evil One. I ask this for your glory, for the vessel is nothing without the sustenance inside, the cup nothing unless it is filled. Oh Lord, purify me.

Give me a word, Abba

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Something interesting

Something for the linguists, biblical scholars or just normal people like me to enjoy.

There's something just plain amazing about the language used in the Bible. Not only is it extremely beautiful and poetic in translated English, but the original languages include word play and other linguistic tricks that make the Bible truly the greatest book ever written.

Nothing against Ezekial, but I've been noticing over the past couple days as the readings have been from Ezekial how impactful some of the language is and how truly filled with emotion it is. This book is no dry religious text.

The Importance of Prayer

The funny thing about prayer, and it's not like people haven't been saying this for a long time, is that it's not something that should be frosting on the cake of life nor just the bread of a Daily Life sandwich. In fact, our various activities and desires and thoughts can all be a part of this prayer.

I don't, of course, mean that eating a sandwich for lunch is in any way equivalent to an hour of adoration (or even a minute of adoration), but a sandwich eaten with gusto and appreciation for its Goodness is an act of praise to our Almighty God.

Another point that might be worth mentioning is that although prayer isn't just the sprinkling on the doughnut of life, it is a very good practice to sprinkle moments of prayer throughout your day. Moments of memorized prayer and moments of spontaneous prayer. Both are important. The reason that this is good, besides just the fact that any conversation with God is good, is that it creates in us a natural rhythm and habit of prayer. It's easier at this point to really infuse your whole being with a disposition toward listening to God.

We live in a world where noise is the norm and silence is seldom heard. God apparently appears in a whispering voice to Elijah, but He's also been known to talk through thunder and through a flood. God doesn't ask us to say no to all noise (though excess anything is bad), rather he asks us to hear him in it. The Thunder, the Bells, the Sirens. All around, God speaks to us and so our lives can become lives of listening, and thus prayer.

This way, we are properly disposed toward God and we will be more able to do God's will in our lives. He wants to do Good Things for us, and we only have to open ourselves to His work.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Assumption

As I was thinking about the Feast for today, I thought to myself "The Assumption isn't really that meaningful to me. Darn, I must be a terrible person." Then it hit me. I was thinking about it from the standpoint of my prejudice against a lot of the religious art depicting this event. Yes, I don't really feel like a Flying Mary is particularly amazing considering that she was sinless and had borne the Saviour of the world.

Then I remembered that I actually LOVE the event which we celebrate but under a different name: The Dormition of Mary. This is the Eastern name based on the belief that instead of just getting pulled out of the group of apostles while they were praying and flying up to heaven, Our Lady "fell asleep" in death and then after being buried, she was taken body and soul up to God. After three days, the apostles checked her tomb and she was gone. In a way, she mirrored her son, as was her wont.

This narrative appeals to me a lot more than the other and either is accepted by the Church as long as it's admitted that she did indeed go to heaven body and soul.

Just as a note, my prejudice against western depictions of the Assumption are no more than prejudices that I just have to get over.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sin and Beauty

I'm sure I've written about this before, but I guess it bears repeating (like the words "I" and "Love" and "You" and similar sentiments).

Of course, this is specifically connected to what I wrote yesterday, so here goes.

Our slavery to sin doesn't not make sense. As I mentioned yesterday, the Israelites certainly had a point. They did have food in Egypt, even if they were in chains. They knew that the food was something good that they needed, or at least wanted and wasn't bad for them. In the same way, our anger over injustice, our pride for our accomplishments and our desires for sexual union are all good things, in the right relationship with our love of Christ.

When our anger turns in on itself and festers becoming a form of insanity of hatred, then it becomes dangerous and harmful. When the "pride that my mama has" turns into the "kind in the Bible that turns you bad" (Avett Brothers, 2009) you can start to look down on fellow man as an inferior species and believe that your needs are more important than theirs....your rights trump theirs. When your sexual desires become so strong that they lead to sin with others or with yourself, you start to devalue other people, whether of the opposite sex or the same sex.

It's sometimes hard not to hate the sinner along with the sin, especially when the sin is against a whole community or even a highly offensive sin against one person. Another reason it's hard not to hate the sinner is a sense of hate for yourself. We are all more intimately knowledgeable of our sinfulness than anyone but God himself and it becomes easy to despair of ourselves and hate ourselves. How much easier it becomes to hate someone who struggles as we do!

But then, remember, God knows our sinfulness better than we do ourselves, and he continues to love us and decided to come save us from our sins. He brought us out of the slavery that sometimes makes so much sense. Our anger, pride and lust are all rooted in something he made for our good, corrupted almost beyond recognition. God sometimes has to remove us from this sin and even the goods from which they were corrupted so that he can provide something even greater.

He wants to say: "This is going to be legen---wait for it---dary!"

And believe me, it is.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

"Sir, give us this Bread always."

There is a strange longing in our hearts and bodies to be satisfied. Something about this life just isn't enough. I just finished two turkey sandwiches and I'm not even close to full. Come 4 o'clock, I will be hungry once again. 
This cycle repeats itself in our lives whether concerning food, drink, a refreshing swim, or our relationships. No matter how many times you kiss your beloved, it does not satisfy your need to love and be loved. There is something about all these experiences that is fleeting but that points to something that is not. Marc Barnes might say Beauty. I might agree.
This experience of something beautiful that doesn’t satisfy but makes one long for a complete unity with the object of the beauty, C.S. Lewis might call Joy. I might agree.
When the Jews said to Jesus, “Sir, give us this Bread always,” Jesus might say that He was this Bread. I might agree. In fact, Jesus Christ is the answer to all these desires: Beauty, Joy, and the Satiating Food.
Oftentimes, we become slaves of our attachment to certain experiences of Beauty or Joy. God frees us from this slavery for a very good reason, even if that means separating us from those experiences for a time. When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and God freed them, they occasionally desired their state of slavery because of the food they had while in Egypt. They were attached to fleeting satisfaction forgetting the slavery that they were experiencing. 
And God does not leave us in the desert without consolation for long. He showed the Israelites that it was not in slavery that they should search for sustenance, but rather from heaven, from whence came the quail and the manna. 
This is how we are all the time. We seek consolation in our states of slavery, whether through addictions, comforts that make us slothful, or activities which distract us from our proper relationships with people and creation in general. If God wishes to take away these experiences that we enjoy and see as good, could it not be because we are enslaved and He wishes to show us that He is the source of True Enjoyment and Satisfaction?
Some of us experience intense longings which we decide are to be fulfilled in harmful ways. If God says no, we must enter that desert with Him and wait for His manna, or rather for the gift of His Son, the True Manna.