Thursday, December 5, 2013

December 9

IS any grieved or tired? Yea, by God's Will:
   Surely God's Will alone is good and best:
   O weary man, in weariness take rest,
O hungry man, by hunger feast thy fill.
Discern thy good beneath a mask of ill,
   Or build of loneliness thy secret nest;
   At noon take heart being mindful of the west,
At night wake hope for dawn advances still.
At night wake hope. Poor soul, in such sore need
   Of wakening and of girding up anew,
   Hast thou that hope which fainting doth pursue?
      No saint but hath pursued and hath been faint:
Bid love wake hope, for both thy steps shall speed
      Still faint yet still pursuing, O thou saint.

December 8


ST. MARY whom all generations call blessed, we so call.

Who bore the Saviour of all mankind we cherish in grateful memory.

Whom God the Son deigned to honor, we aspire to honor.

She whom God sanctified is holy: she who responded to God's call is "called and chosen and faithful."

Her gifts are His gifts to her, her graces His graces in her.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

December 7

"And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl."--(Rev. xxi. 21.)

A NATURAL pearl is produced by the disease of an oyster.

Being such, who would have looked to find pearls in the holy and eternal New Jerusalem?

Whatever the "pearls" of heaven may stand for--for Bible language doubtless condescends to our present ignorance--one thing seems clear: since we read of pearls, pearls have a lesson for us.

These pearls form the gates of the celestial city. Gold and gems compose its foundations, its walls, its streets: but all its gates are pearls.

And because pearls stand connected with disease, that is, with one form of suffering, therefore (I think) we may view them as representative of the precious fruits of all worthily borne human suffering: and because they form gates of entrance--exit, thanks be to God, is not in question--they connect themselves vividly with that "great tribulation" out of which came the general assembly of the saints as St. John beheld them in vision:--

"Lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the Throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb. . . . And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the Throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His Temple." (Rev. vii. 9-15.)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December 6


THUS much and no more I find vouched for by my usual chief authority.

Legends, however, augment our scanty store of knowledge, and furnish St. Nicolas with a miraculous babyhood, pretty if uncertain. An ecstasy seized him in his first bath: and while still a suckling he voluntarily fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays.

At a more mature period of his life he saved three sister maidens from temptation and peril by casting three bags of gold, one at a time, through the window of their home, thereby providing their father with dowries for them.

Popularly he is supposed to have concurred in the Council of Nicaea, where among all the assembled Bishops "he shone . . . with so great clarity and opinion of sanctity, that he appeared like a sun among so many stars." Nevertheless carried away by zeal he smote Arius, and thereby incurred a heavy ecclesiastical penalty.

Each legend may teach us something, at any rate by suggestion.

Not to marvel at miraculous babies, but to nurse natural ones for God, is our at least as blessed privilege. And though grace "cometh not with observation" we may feel as certain that Divine Grace takes possession of them in the Baptismal Font, as we could possibly feel if we beheld them rapt in visible ecstasy.

We may study both matter and manner in the incident of the triple dower: the matter, liberality; the manner, delicacy.

While the Council sets before us how much may be lost in one hasty moment.

"Be not highminded, but fear."

December 5

BURY Hope out of sight,
   No book for it and no bell;
It never could bear the light
   Even while growing and well;
Think if now it could bear
The light on its face of care
And gray scattered hair.

No grave for Hope in the earth,
   But deep in that silent soul
Which rang no bell for its birth
   And rings no funeral toll.
Cover its once bright head;
Nor odors nor tears be shed:
It lived once, it is dead.

Brief was the day of its power,
   The day of its grace how brief:
As the fading of a flower,
   As the falling of a leaf,
So brief its day and its hour:
No bud more and no bower
Or hint of a flower.

Shall many wail it? not so:
   Shall one bewail it? not one:
Thus it hath been from long ago,
   Thus it shall be beneath the sun.
O fleet sun, make haste to flee;
O rivers, fill up the sea;
O Death, set the dying free.

The sun nor loiters nor speeds,
   The rivers run as they ran,
Through clouds or through windy reeds
   All run as when all began.
Only Death turns at our cries:--
Lo, the Hope we buried with sighs
Alive in Death's eyes!

December 4

I ONCE heard an exemplary Christian remark that she had never been accused of a fault without afterwards recognizing truth in the accusation.

And if she, how not I?

At the least her words should make me cautious not to rebut any charge in anger or in haste.

And if me, why not you?

December 3


THERE remains on the foregoing subject one anxious question for us to ask and for our consciences to answer: are such speculations profitable, or are they trivial?

Profitable they are, if and so far as they encourage any poor soul to tread the path of obedience.

And perhaps they may effect this, because either line of thought (such as it is) tends to testify: that election is certified, and final perseverance is achieved, by one and the same process open to us all alike,--by simple obedience.

The mystery of predestination or of election may baffle our intellects: obedience will assuredly not transcend our powers.

And there is a second way in which our problem may, I hope, prove helpful: this shall we do, and leave weightier matters undone? We should have been--or at least, I should have been disappointed not to reach an accurate intelligible result by the foregoing calculation. A degree of shame often adds a sting to disappointment; for often we have ourselves, our own rashness or negligence to thank for our failures.

What will it be to have misstated or misworked the whole problem of life; to behold at length the perfect number of the elect made up to the last man, woman, child; and ourselves (God forbid!) to be left out in shame and everlasting contempt?