Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2012

Charioteer of the Virtues! Prudence

In which the Pilgrim seeks out the Lamp-bearer of the Virtues—Prudence—to be his unerring guide and friend along the way.

For everything there is a season, and time for every matter under heaven.
—Ecclesiastes 3:1, from the Readings for Friday of the 25th Week of the Year

Behold! He makes all things new!

In which the Pilgrim lights a mini bonfire of vanities and sets his sights toward the New Heaven and Earth.

What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
and there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said, "See, this is new"?
It has been already,
in the ages before us.
Ecc 1:9-10, from the Mass Readings for Thursday of the 25th Week of the Year

The Beauty of Lady Poverty

In which the Pilgrim confesses a bit of a crush on Lady Poverty, considers the via media, and venerates the true poverty of self in the martyrs Cosmas and Damian.

They counted all as loss in order to know Christ and to have a share in his sufferings, conforming himself themselves to his death.
—Cf. Phil 3:8, 10, Entrance Antiphon, Mass for a Single Martyr

Here are my mother and my brethren!

In which the Pilgrim venerates Mary as mother of Jesus in every sense, dwells on family and faith, and longs to be a true Brother of Christ.

Then his mother and his brethren came to him, but they could not reach him for the crowd. And he was told, "Your mother and your brethren are standing outside, desiring to see you." But he said to them, "My mother and my brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it."
—Lk 8:19-21, Gospel for Tuesday of the 25th Week of the Year

Happiness in Slavery: Our Lady of Ransom

In which the pilgrim on this, the Feast of Our Lady of Ransom, considers the price paid for his soul, the joy of Mary's intercessory aide, and what it might mean to be a slave of Christ and a son of God.

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that your faithful,
who rejoice under the patronage of the most holy Virgin Mary,
may be freed by her motherly intercession
from all evils on earth
and merit the attainment of eternal joys in heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
—Collect from the Commons of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Ordinary Time

Te Deum Laudamus

Raised in Glory: like the stars, forever and ever.

What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.
It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory.
It is sown in weakness it is raised in power.
It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body.
1 Cor 15:42-44

In which the Pilgrim dwells on the Resurrection at the End of Days in the New Heaven and Earth and the infinite potential of God's promises.

St Matthew, Prince of the Church, Oremus!

In which the Pilgrim tells a fable about the Call of Christ, enters into the Gospel through prayer and meditation, and prays for the strength to leave everything for Him who came not to call the righteous but sinners.

Sharing in that saving joy, O Lord,
with which Saint Matthew welcomed
the Savior as a guest in his home, we pray:
grant that we may always be renewed
by the food we receive from Christ,
who came to call not the just, but sinners to salvation.
—Prayer after Communion, Feast of the Apostle Matthew

Noisy Gongs and Clashing Cymbals

To what shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the market place and calling to one another,
'We piped to you, and you did not dance;
we wailed and you did not weep.'
For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine; and you say 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man has come eating and drinking; and you say, 'Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.
Luke 7:31-35, Gospel for the Wednesday of the 24th Week of the Year

In which the Pilgrim tries to quiet his heart of all the noise of criticism and complaint against Mother Church and learn to dwell in silence and love listening only for the Voice of God.

Fear and Trembling

[The LORD] called to the man clothed in linen, who had the writing case at his side. And the LORD said to him, "Go through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it." And to the others he said in my hearing, "Pass through the city after him, and kill; your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity; slay old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one upon whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary."
—Ezekiel 9:3-6, Office of Readings for Tuesday of the 24th Week of the Year

In which the Pilgrim meditates on the Last Things—Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell—and the Fear of the LORD.

Power of the Word

"Say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it."
When Jesus heard this he marveled at him, and turned and said to the multitude that followed him, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith."
Luke 7:7-9, from the Gospel for Monday of the 24th Week of the Year

In which the pilgrim meditates on today's readings and the power of the word of Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh.

True Prophets, Courageous Disciples

Give peace, O Lord, to those who wait for you,
that your prophets be found true.
Hear the prayers of your servant,
and of your people Israel.
—Cf. Sir 36: 18-22, Introit, 24 Sunday of the Year

In which the pilgrim sketches a portrait of a Christian imbued with the Virtue of Courage.

Mater Dolorosa

Simeon said to Mary: Behold, this child is destined
for the ruin and rising of many in Israel,
and to be a sign of contradiction;
and your own soul a sword will pierce.
—Cf. Lk 2: 34-35, Introit, Our Lady of Sorrows

In which the pilgrim lets St Bernard of Clairvaux say almost all that needs to be said ...

Crux Fidelis: The Tree of Life

Faithful Cross! Above all other,
one and only noble Tree!
None in foliage, none in blossom,
none in fruit thy peers may be;
sweetest wood and sweetest iron!
Sweetest Weight is hung on thee!
—Crux Fidelis

In which the pilgrim, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, meditates on the Crucified Christ as the Tree of Life.

St. John Chrysostom, Oremus!

Those who are wise will shine brightly 
like the splendor of the firmament 
and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars for ever.
—cf. Dan 12:3, Introit of the Memorial of St. John Chrysostom

St John Chyrsostom, the "golden mouthed" Doctor of the Church, Holy Hierarch of the Eastern Churches, was Archbishop of Constantinople, ascetic, liturgist, homilist non pareil, social justice fighter, social critic, and though he is not declared so, in dying while suffering in exile, the man was a martyr of the faith.

Should I stay or should I go now ...

In which the pilgrim addresses those who consider leaving the Catholic Church. Darling you gotta let me know Should I stay or should I go? If you say that you are mine I'll be here til the end of time So you got to let know Should I stay or should I go?—The Clash, "Should I Stay or Should I Go?"

But now ...

Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the Kingdom of God? ...That is what some of you used to be; but now you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
—St Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians 6:11

"But now ..." what words of comfort to us sinners. St. Paul reminds us that before we were plunged into the death of Christ by Baptism, we were defined by our sins. "That is what some of you used to be." But now, though sinners we remain and continue to sin the face of grace, we are no longer defined by them. Rather than conforming to an image of death, we have been restored to the image of Christ in which we were made.

Reaching for Christ: "Stretch out your hand."

Looking around at them all, he then said to him, "Stretch out your hand." Gospel of Luke 6:10

When Jesus healed the man with the withered hand, he was answering a silent challenge made by the Pharisees: would Jesus dare to heal on the Sabbath breaking the mitzvah? Jesus shows by his response "I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?" that it's not a question of keeping or breaking the mitzvah, is a question of can you "Love your neighbor"? But we should notice that when Jesus commands "Stretch your your hand" he's not looking at the man to be healed, he's "looking around at them all" ... which means he's looking at us.

Christ's Resurrection and the Four Senses of Scripture

Today's reading from Isaiah, contains a promise:
"Then the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing. Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe. The burning sands will become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water." At first reading, this concerns the renewal of Israel after the Babylonian exile, but at other levels, it speaks to the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Promise of Salvation. Levels we can see when we learn to read with spiritual eyes using the four senses of Scripture.

Sacrament of Reconciliation: Chore or Ritual?

I need to go to Reconciliation; to be restored to a state of grace, first and foremost, but also frequently, to be strengthened by its Sacramental Grace. But I need time in prayer asking guidance of disposition, for Confession is a sacrament that I have trouble with. Not in general: it is one of the most theologically beautiful of God's gifts to us--perhaps the most tangible sign of God's loving hand as Father of the Prodigal Son, who must chastise and teach His children to grow in virtue but also celebrate their return to his arms. No, my trouble with the Sacrament stems from a block internal, and in part external, that keeps me from experiencing Confession as sacrament and rite, but as a chore.

St Hippolytus, Oremus!

Today is the feast of St. Hippolytus of Rome (on the Western Calendar), who has the dubious distinction of being the first Anti-Pope, but so beloved by both factions was the man that he was quickly raised to the altars after his death as a martyr of the faith. He is not celebrated on the contemporary Roman calendar,* which is a shame, for not only would it be hard to contest the holiness of a man who represented the division of the Church, yet was celebrated as a saint, Saint Hippolytus is attributed with writing what has become probably the most commonly used Eucharistic canon, Eucharistic Prayer II.

The Habit of Perfection by Gerard Manley Hopkins

A poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins for Friday's fasting ("The can must be so sweet, the crust / So fresh that comes in fasts divine!") and a necessary reminder that God's grace is ever present, but the acceptance of that grace, and the life worthy of its gift, is a matter of discipline, habit, the repetition of small sacrifices for the love of God, a thousand, daily, tiny steps toward heaven ...

The Habit of Perfection

Elected Silence, sing to me
And beat upon my whorlèd ear,
Pipe me to pastures still and be
The music that I care to hear.

The Religious Perspective of Eternity in Art

I'm currently reading The Discovery of Heaven by Harry Mulisch, a wonderfully broad and rambling novel. In it, one of the principal characters, Max, is teasing a former art history student and what follows is an interesting exposition on perspective and eternity in medieval art ...
"Perhaps we should see everything in perspective." [said Max.]
"What perspective?"
This time she seemed to understand him even better than he had intended. She turned onto her stomach and said didactically:
"Eternity and perspective are incompatible. Shall I tell you something, Dutch Max? Perspective was discovered int he fifteenth century. Up till then God had always fitted very naturally into the space of the painting, a Madonna and child for example, but that space itself was unnatural. He simply sat on a throne in the blue sky, above the Madonna, with some circles and stars around him; or on the left you had St. Dionysius wearing an elegant mitre in a …

St Ignatius de Loyola, Oremus!

Today is the feast day of Saint Ignatius de Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (Societas Iesu), commonly known as the Jesuits. As God's instrument, St Ignatius brought into the world an order that has done immeasurable miraculous good in order to bring about the Kingdom of God, given us great preachers, teachers and theologians, and by his own writings, given all powerful inspiration and meditations on strengthening our spiritual life. 

Of his writings, Ignatius' "Contemplation on Divine Love" I find the most powerful, unifying all that it is to be mindful of God's unspeakably glorifying presence in our life, and I offer it for your own meditations today, below. May St Ignatius and all the saints continue to pray for us and guide us by the power of God's grace.

The Grey-Clad Monk - A Fable

“Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, ‘Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good—‘ At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. A…

Song of the Tendency by Raissa Maritain

Song of the Tendency

In the infinite longing
Through which I come to Thee
I know Thee
As the eternal love that breathes me in
And draws my soul to Thee.

Thou dividest me from me
My soul strives to quit me
I am lost in Thy charity
I am but nothingness which loves.

In the heart, the captive of Thy invisible hand,
Thy flaming secrets seem to part half-open;
All our senses – useless outpaced servants –
Seek after sleep to be more thoroughly Thine.
And yet I wake – watching for Thee to pass,
My spirit tends to Thee who can alone fill it,
To seize Thee I have only the touch of the soul
And this love, this love which binds me.

Sometimes to bear the weight of Thy presence,
My wailing breath breaks into a chant
A strange melody, song of the tendency
To Thee of whom I have a mysterious cognition
More certain than my life.

– Raissa Maritain

What Angels See: Corpus Christi Reflections

I suspect the angels were once again in a state of unknowing, as they had never been, that an expectant hush fell over heaven in anticipation of what God would do next ... and then in the pregnant pause, the subtle whispered voice of the Holy Spirit: "Watch this."

A Great Idea At the Time

In which the pilgrim considers writing a series of essays (over a long period of time), each on one of the Great Ideas, and its place in his journey of faith.

Introducing The Good Reverend Pudgemuffin

My favorite gentleman in the blogosphere is currently the Good Reverend Pudgemuffin at Are You There God? It's me, Atheist. He is a wonderful and impassioned seeker of Truth with regards to the existence of God, and from his blog's title, you can guess what side of the fence he falls. He is a fellow Ashevillain, and I highly regard his thinking and enjoy his irreverent skepticism which is humorous and critical without being snarkily polemical. Inspired, I wrote a lengthy reply to one of his entries, and he in turn devoted a whole entry in response to my response.

Not to be outdone, I composed a response to the response's response, which I planned to keep hidden within his comments, but it far exceeded (more than double) the character limits. So thus ....

walking | reflections

Walking for me is a form of prayer, that if neglected leaves the rest of my prayer life anemic. At the monastery, I took long ambling walks all over the monastery's farmland and sometimes along the country roads running through the surrounding country side. These were times of powerful talks with God, frank conversations of hopes and frustrations. But they were also just times of peace and enjoyment, being connected with God's creation.

the road to clinton | pilgrimage

In which the pilgrim makes the roadside his chapel, his couch and his pantry, realizes that no one owes him anything, receives a ride, and remembers what it's like to fly.

guidebooks on the road to faith | lectio

If you wanted to know how someone got from being a young libertine delighted with humanism, agnosticism and a vague aesthetic mysticism to a Trappist novice ... this is the road (or at least the tourist traps along the road) of books and stories, that got me there.

spy wednesday | reflection

Today is Wednesday of Holy Week, which in some places is known as Spy Wednesday, as today's Mass readings highlight Judas's betrayal of Jesus. These readings prefigure the Church Militant's composition of saints and sinners, virtues and flaws.

leaving the path, sticking to the roads of grace | pilgrimage

In which the pilgrim eats a roadside breakfast, finds a spoon, reflects on grace and kindness, receives a ride, and forges a new path.

pilgrimage | departure & providential signs

The prophet Gad said to David, "Do not stay in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah." So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth.
--1 Samuel 22:5 Sunday after Vespers, I changed out of my white novice's robes and into street clothes removing that which identified me as monk. Until that point, I had been a monk for nine months. The pilgrimage must start, so I don't take time to dwell, that will come later. I throw my habit into the community laundry bin and peeled the labels marked "Ædan" from the last places I could reach without being obvious. I grabbed my duffle bag and was out the door and on the road in about fifteen minutes. No one chased me or tried to stop me, whether anyone saw me or not or realized what I was up to, I do not know. Fr Stephen did act a little reserved after Vespers when I told him I liked how much smoke the incense put out at benediction, so maybe. There was also no puff of sulfurous smoke, nor beams of h…

pilgrimage | a song of ascent

I was glad when they said to me,
    "Let us go to the house of the LORD."
Our feet are standing
    Within your gates, O Jerusalem,
Jerusalem, that is built
    As a city that is compact together;
To which the tribes go up, even the tribes of the LORD-
    An ordinance for Israel-
    To give thanks to the name of the LORD.
For there thrones were set for judgment,
    The thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
    "May they prosper who love you.
"May peace be within your walls,
    And prosperity within your palaces."
For the sake of my brothers and my friends,
    I will now say, "May peace be within you."
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
    I will seek your good.
    --Psalm 121So let us go to the City of Ashes. So close is she in mind that it feels as though I'm standing within her gates already, though I know she is far off in mountains unseen. I lift up my eyes to those mountains, for from there …

pilgrimage | waiting for Godot

Therefore, son of man, prepare for yourself baggage for exile and go into exile by day in their sight; even go into exile from your place to another place in their sight. Perhaps they will understand though they are a rebellious house.Bring your baggage out by day in their sight, as baggage for exile. Then you will go out at evening in their sight, as those going into exile.Dig a hole through the wall in their sight and go out through it. Load the baggage on your shoulder in their sight and carry it out in the dark. -- Ezekiel 12:3-6
 Everything is packed, and like Ezekiel, I've done my packing early. Such is the way of the Mayeuxs. We get ready to take a journey. We plan, we pack, and then we wait ... and wait. You can't leave early, the schedule is set, (in the case of air travel or bus, by someone else) and for this particular journey by foot there are timing concerns as well; it is simply best if I leave toward evening. 

But the human condition is to wait in hop…

pilgrimage | trusting providence

And He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece. --Lk 9:3
Last post I mentioned trusting in Providence on this pilgrimage, and if ever there were a passage to illustrate that, it would be Luke 9:3. So I'm following it, except for the two tunics; I am taking a change of clothes, but not from a perceived need for them. I had them when I came here, and I'm trying to leave as little behind while taking nothing in addition with me (staying behind is a Douay-Rheims Bible [I'm taking my NRSV], a pair of gloves which I can't find, and a set of books I donated the library within a couple months of arriving). Following the parallel Mark 6:9, which tells the disciples to wear sandals, I'll be doing so. I do have boots packed, which is probably for the best, because I'm not sure how much road-wear these sandals can take.

But, trusting in Providence. This is not a completely passive…

pilgrimage | making a journey

Forty-eight hours till I hit the road. Then begins the pilgrimage to Our Lady of Ashes. I will travel 786 miles, ideally in a month, traveling eight hours a day by foot. My prayer is that it will be not only a physical journey, but a spiritual one. Legends of meeting the devil at the crossroads keep running through my mind, angels and demons, American Gods, wandering saints, the Wandering Jew, errant paladins, and the Lord knows what else. I can only trust in Providence and grace and the kindness of strangers. Keep me in your prayers, and may the Lord be between you and me while we are apart.