A Sign of Hope and Consolation

The sermon that I preached (more or less) in the village church of Grub im Wienerwald this morning, the Solemnity of the Assumption, the 10th anniversary of my first profession, the 7th anniversary of my solemn profession.


Our earthly life is a strange mixture of joy and misery. When we look at the wonder and beauty of our world— the blazing light of the sun turning the sky into a blue dome, flashing on the snowy tops of mountains, filtering through the green leaves of the trees, glittering on the waters. What wonders!  What joys! When we look at ourselves— these marvelous embodied spirits with eyes to see the brilliantly colored flowers, and ears to hear the rustling of the wind in the tree tops, and tongues to taste the sun-ripened peach; and above all, the light of intellect to penetrate to the depths and know the greater wonders of the first beginnings and causes of things. And the joys of friendship! Joys doubled and tripled by being shared in mutual benevolence and understanding. And the intoxicating ecstasy of young love! Beauty that transfixes the heart. And the joys of family life— to see new life come into the world, and take its first steps and begin to share the wonder of this world. The joy of growing old in faithfulness and seeing one’s children and one’s children’s children about one. And And the glory of the city at peace; noble, high and fair: rerum pulcherrima Roma. “The world is so full of a number of things, / I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.” How do our hearts not burst with so much joy? Ich schnitt es gern in alle Rinden ein, / ich grüb es gern in jeden Kieselstein… Continue reading

Embarrassing sins as a cure for pride

And I make bold to say that it is useful for the proud to fall into an open and indisputable transgression, and so displease themselves, as already, by pleasing themselves, they had fallen. For Peter was in a healthier condition when he wept and was dissatisfied with himself, than when he boldly presumed and satisfied himself. And this is averred by the sacred Psalmist when he says, Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek Your name, O Lord; that is, that they who have pleased themselves in seeking their own glory may be pleased and satisfied with You in seeking Your glory. (Saint Augustine, The City of God, XIV,13)

They say best men moulded out of faults;
And, for the most, become much more the better
For being a little bad; so may my husband. (Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act V, Scene 1)

The Five Wounds

Ask Me to hide you in My wounds. There is a place for you in each of My five wounds; each of them represents a refuge against the temptations that threaten you, and the traps set by the devil, who would ensnare you and rejoice to see you fall.

The wound in My right hand is your refuge from sins of disobedience and self-will. Take refuge there when you are tempted to take the path that is easy and broad.

The wound in My left hand is your refuge from sins of selfishness, from directing all things to yourself, and grasping the attention of others by seeking to take to yourself what your right hand has given Me.

The wound in My right foot is your refuge from sins of inconstancy. Take refuge there when you are tempted to be inconsistent, and when you waver in your resolutions to love Me above all things, and to place Me first in your affections and in your desires.

The wound in My left foot is your refuge against sins of sloth and of spiritual lethargy. Take refuge there when you are tempted to give up the struggle and to consent to despair and discouragement.

Finally, the wound in My side is your refuge from every false love and every fleshly deceit promising sweetness, but giving bitterness and death instead. Take refuge in My pierced side when you are tempted to look for love in any creature. I have created you for My love, and My love alone can satisfy the desires of your heart. Enter, then, the wound in My side and, penetrating even into My Heart, drink deeply of the springs of love that will refresh and delight your soul, and wash you in preparation for the wedding of your soul with Me, for I am the Bridegroom of your soul, your Saviour from all that would defile you, and your God who is love and mercy now and unto the ages of ages. (In Sinu Jesup. 162)

“A most fiery sting of yearning”

We have received the commandment to love God: the soul bears the capacity to love implanted within itself by God at its first constitution. Of this we need no proof from without, for each may discover the traces of what we say within himself and from himself. Every human being desires all that is good, and we are drawn by a kind of natural disposition towards all that we think to be good. Indeed, without being taught, we are drawn in love towards blood relatives and those closest to us in the flesh, while we are attached with our whole affection and good services to those from whom we receive benefits.

But what greater good can we have than God? Indeed, what other good is there but God alone (cf. Matt 19:17)? What loveliness, what splendour, what beauty which we are naturally moved to love is of such a kind as is in God and more claims our confidence? What grace is so great, what flame of love which sets alight the secret and inward places of the soul is like to that love of God which ought to inflame the hidden places of the mind, especially if it is cleansed of all defilement, if it is a pure soul which with true affection says: I am wounded by love (Song 2:5)?

The utterly ineffable love of God— as I at any rate experience it— which can be more easily experienced than spoken of, is a certain inexplicable light. Even if speech should cite or compare a lightning flash or a dazzling brilliance, still, the hearing cannot take it in. Invoke if you will the rays of the morning star, the splendours of the moon, or the light of the sun itself— in comparison with that glory they are all more obscure and murkier by far than an ink-black night and the gloom of a dense fog compared with the flawlessly clear light of the noon-day sun.

Such loveliness is not seen by bodily eyes; it is perceived only by the soul and the mind. If perchance this loveliness has grazed the mind and heart of the saints, it left embedded in them a most fiery sting of yearning for it,  till at length, as if languishing in the fires of such love and shuddering at this present life, such as these would say: When shall I come and appear before the face of God? (Ps 41:2), and again, one who is burning in the flames of this ardour would say: My soul has thirsted for the living God (Ps 41:1),  and being insatiable in his desire, would pray that he might see the delight of the Lord and find shelter in his holy temple (Ps 26:4). So therefore we naturally long for and love the good. (The Rule of St Basil)

Διδασκαλίας κόρος — Fastidium doctrinae

For the soul that is being trained according to God’s purpose must be either learning faithfully what it does not know, or teaching clearly what it knows. But if it wants to do neither, though able to do them, then it is mad. For to be sated with teaching and unable to bear the word, for which the soul of him who loves God is always hungry, is the beginning of apostasy.  (Palladius, Epistula ad Lausum).

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