Sunday, December 8, 2019

this little point of nothingness and absolute poverty

  This peculiar galaxy pair is called Arp 116. Arp 116 is composed of a giant elliptical galaxy known as Messier 60 (or M60) and a much smaller spiral galaxy, NGC 4647. 
From the NASA Space Advent Calendar which is HERE.


In the center of our being is a point of nothingness  
which is untouched by sin and by illusion,

a point of pure truth,  
a point or spark which belongs entirely to God,  
which is never at our disposal,  
from which God disposes of our lives,  
which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind  
or the brutalities of our own will.
 
This little point of nothingness and absolute poverty
is the pure glory of God in us.
 
It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of
     heaven.

It is in everybody, and if we could see it  
we would see these billions of points of light  
coming together in the face and blaze of a sun  
that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish
     completely.

 
I have no program for this seeing. It is only given.
But the gate of heaven is everywhere.
 
-Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, p. 158

Saturday, December 7, 2019

wilderness: abandonment to the silence of God


Fr. Alfred Delp SJ
"The wilderness has a necessary function in life.  'Abandonment' one of my friends called it and the word is very apt.  Abandonment to wind and weather and day and night and all the intervening hours.  And abandonment to the silence of God, the greatest abandonment of all.  The virtue that thrives most on it -- patience -- is the most necessary of all virtues that spring from the heart -- and the Spirit. 
"Please don't think I am trying to write an ode to the wilderness.  Anyone who has ever had to encounter and withstand a wilderness must have a healthy respect for it -- and must speak of it with the reserve that prompts a man to hide his wounds and his weaknesses.  It is a great place for thinking things out, for recognizing facts, for getting new light on problems and for reaching decisions.  A heavy load brings the ship low in the water but it also keeps her steady.  The wilderness represents the law of endurance, the firmness that makes a man.  It is the quiet corner reserved for tears, prayers for help, humiliations, terror.  But it is part of life and to try to avoid it only postpones the trial."

- Fr. Alfred Delp SJ, “The Prison Meditations of Father Alfred Delp”, p.97. 1963 Herder and Herder New York
See also: The Prison Meditations of Father Delp

Friday, December 6, 2019

Mary-darkness, faith's walled place

Annunciation, Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1897

Advent, by Jessica Powers

I live my Advent in the womb of Mary.
And on one night when a great star swings free 
from its high mooring and walks down the sky 
to be the dot above the Christus I,
I shall be born of her by blessed grace.
I wait in Mary-darkness, faith’s walled place,
with hope’s expectance of nativity.


I knew for long she carried and fed me,
guarded and loved me, though I could not see.
But only now, with inward jubilee,
I come upon earth’s most amazing knowledge:
Someone is hidden in this dark with me.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

the vanity of anti-silence (Considerations for the time of Christmas)

Fr. Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis)

From a cycle of six largely unknown meditations Jesuit Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio gave in a week-long retreat to Jesuits in the early 1980s, entitled simply ‘Considerations for the time of Christmas.’ 

With the ferocity of a desert father, his reflection on silence invited the Jesuits to consider how mass media created a seductive deluge of sweet-sounding or furious words “that seek noisily to take up space in our hearts and contribute nothing to truth.”

He contrasted the Word of God that created the universe and the words by which we are surrounded, which have been “disempowered of their creative force.”

“If there is no solitude, there is no silence,” he added sternly, “and without either there is no truth,” only “the vanity of anti-silence.” Although Jesuits were obliged to speak as part of their “apostolic mission” - they are not monks - if in their speaking they lacked “the core of silence that makes us pilgrims” they would end up, he warned, “corrupted by the spirit of the world.”

Silence was the prerequisite for the eruption of the Word in history, he said, before inviting the Jesuits to contemplate how the Word “becomes tenderness in the womb of a Mother who ‘pondered all these things in her heart’.”
https://cruxnow.com/commentary/2017/12/27/expecting-bubbly-pope-francis-christmas-meet-jesuit-past/

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Salus Populi Romani


icon of Salus Populi Romani in the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica in Rome. 
Recounted by pious tradition to have been painted by St. Luke the Evangelist.
"That God should have condescended to become a human mother's son;  that one woman whose womb was sanctified as the holy temple and tabernacle of the living God should have been permitted to walk the earth -- these wonders make up the sum total of the earth's actual purpose and they are the fulfillment of all its expectations." (pp. 25-26)
- Fr. Alfred Delp SJ, “The Prison Meditations of Father Alfred Delp”, 1963 Herder and Herder New York
See also: The Prison Meditations of Father Delp

the living things sing terribly that only the present is eternal


The myriad faint stars that comprise the Antlia Dwarf galaxy are more than four million light-years from Earth, but this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image offers such clarity that they could be mistaken for much closer stars in our own Milky Way. This very faint and sparsely populated small galaxy was only discovered in 1997.
Credit: ESA/NASA



All things stir by night,
waking or sleeping,
conscious of the nearness of their ruin.

Only man makes himself illuminations he conceives to be 
solid and eternal.

But while we ask our question and come to our decisions,
God blows our decisions out, the roofs of our houses cave
in upon us,
the tall towers are undermined by ants, the walls crack and
cave in,
and the holiest buildings burn to ashes
while the watchman is composing a theory of duration.

Now is the time to meet You, God, where the night is 
wonderful,
where the forest opens out under the moon 
and the living things sing terribly that only the present is
eternal
and that all things having a past and a future are doomed to
pass away!

I ask these useless question,
I do not wait for an answer, because I have begun to realize
You never answer when I expect.

And now my whole being breathes the wind
and my hand is on the door through which I see the
heavens.

The door swings out upon a vast sea of darkness and of 
prayer.
Will it come like this, the moment of my death?
Will You open a door upon the great forest
and set my feet upon a ladder under the moon,
and take me out among the stars? 

-Thomas Merton, "Fire Watch", The Sign of Jonas, pp. 349-362

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The world is greater than the burden it bears.



"The Great Silence", from Neither Use Nor Ornament

"The world is greater than the burden it bears, and life is more than the sum total of its grey days.  The golden threads of reality are already shining through; if we look we can see them everywhere.  Let us never forget this; we must be our own comforters. … 
"The air still vibrates with the noise of violence and destruction.  But silently the eternal values are gathering on the horizon.  They are like the first pale rays of light as the promise of radiant fulfillment creeps upward accompanied by the first tentative notes of jubilation.  It is not yet a full chorus but only an indication, a hint, far away.  But it is drawing nearer."  (p. 27)
- Fr. Alfred Delp SJ, “The Prison Meditations of Father Alfred Delp”, 1963 Herder and Herder New York
See also: The Prison Meditations of Father Delp

this little point of nothingness and absolute poverty

  This peculiar galaxy pair is called Arp 116. Arp 116 is composed of a giant elliptical galaxy known as Messier 60 (or M60) and a muc...