“Just as human affection, when it abounds, overpowers those who love and causes them to be beside themselves, so God’s love for men emptied God (Phil 2.7). He does not stay in His own place and call the slave, He seeks him in person by coming down to him. He who is rich reaches the pauper’s hovel, and He displays His love by approaching in person. He seeks love in return and does not withdraw when He is treated with disdain. He is not angry over ill treatment, but even when He has been repulsed He sits by the door (cf. Rev 3.20) and does everything to show us that He loves, even enduring suffering and death to prove it.” (Nicholas Cabasilas)
Reblogged from Vultus Christi:
Only the Eternal Light Can Satisfy Thee
- Thursday, 16 October 2014
We are blessed at Silverstream to have a rich treasury of patristic lessons at Matins. Our patristic lectionary, complete with proper responsories for each lesson, is the on–going work of Dom Benedict, who has a special gift for assorting appropriate patristic texts to the lessons from Sacred Scripture read each morning at Matins.
Today’s lesson, taken from Saint Bernard’s well–known sermon on Psalm 90 (Qui habitat), is a kindly light for souls journeying in darkness and distress.
From a Sermon on Psalm 90 by St Bernard, Abbot & Doctor
To be Near God is My Good
“I will be with thee in distress,” says God. What else then should I long for but distress? “For me, to be near God is my good”; and even more, “to make the Lord God my refuge,” for he says, “I will deliver thee and glorify thee.” “I will be with you in distress”: and he adds: “I found delight in mankind”. Emmanuel, God with us.
Near Those Whose Heart is Distressed
He came down to be near those whose heart is distressed, to be with us in distress. But a day will come when we “will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord. Thenceforth we shall be with the Lord unceasingly.” If we take care to have him always as a companion along the way, he will give us the kingdom in return; better still, he will be the Kingdom for us, provided that he is now our Way.
Gold is Tried in Fire
Lord, it is good for me to be in distress, provided that thou art there with me; that is much better for me than to reign without thee, rejoice without thee, or be glorified without thee. It is far better for me to cleave to thee in distress, to have thee with me in the crucible than to be without thee in heaven. “For what have I in heaven, and from thee what have I wished upon earth?” “Gold is tried in fire and the just in the trials of distress.” It is there, among those who are gathered in thy Name that thou art present, as once thou wert with the three young men. Why should we be afraid and make every effort to flee from the crucible? The fire burns, but the Lord is with us in distress. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” If it is also he who saves, who can charm us out of his hand? Who could snatch us from his hand? Finally, if it is God who glorifies, who can deprive us of glory and humiliate us?
No Cure Except for Thee to Humble Thyself
“With length of days will I gratify thee”, answers the Lord. This says clearly: I know what thou desirest, for what thou thirsteth, and what thou cravest. Thou cravest not gold and silver, sensual pleasures, curiosities, or dignities of any kind. All of these are no help to thee; there is no cure except for thee to humble thyself in the depths of thy heart and refuse to give thine attention to that which cannot satisfy thee. Thou art not unaware in whose image thou hast been created, and of what greatness thou art capable; thou desirest not a meagre profit to be for thee the occasion of an immense frustration. Hence, “with length of days will I gratify thee,” for only the true Light can restore thee, only the eternal Light can satisfy thee — that Light whose length knows no end, whose brightness knows no dimming, and whose fulness knows no completion.
All of you who feel heavily the weight of the cross, you who are poor and abandoned, you who weep, you who are persecuted for justice, you who are ignored, you the unknown victims of suffering, take courage. You are the preferred children of the Kingdom of God, the kingdom of hope, happiness and life. You are the brothers of the suffering Christ, and with Him, if you wish, you are saving the world.
This is the Christian science of suffering, the only one which gives peace. Know that you are not alone, separated, abandoned or useless. You have been called by Christ and are His living and transparent image.
Sound like something from Pope Francis? Wrong. This is an excerpt from the Second Vatican Council closing speeches. There are some things in the Church that just do not change.
“If John were to be asked, ‘What is your primary identity in life?’ he would not reply, ‘I am a disciple, an apostle, an evangelist, an author of the four Gospels,’ but rather, ‘I am the one Jesus loves.'” (Brennan Manning)
“Live in peace and joy, my dear daughter. Our Lord looks at you and he looks at you with so much love and compassion; and the weaker you are, the more his love for you grows warm and tender. Never harbor thoughts which would go in reverse direction. If these thought come and pester you, pay no heed to them; turn your mind away from them and cling to God with a humility that is bold and courageous. Speak to him about his sacred and indescribable goodness which pours itself out on us, loving our small and week, poor and abject nature, despite all its infirmities.” (St. Francis de Sales)
You can find–and listen to–the latest talk from Witnesses to Hope by going here.
Jerry Sitter, in his outstanding book on loss, A Grace Disguised, writes about the sudden loss of his wife, his daughter, and his mother, all in one tragic car accident. We all suffer loss and Jerry writes so well about what is common to all of us in our losses. Here is one sampling:
Loss forces us to see the dominant role our environment plays in determining our happiness. Loss strips us of the props we rely on for our well-being. It knocks us off our feet and puts us on our backs. In the experience of loss, we come to the end of ourselves.
But in coming to the end of ourselves, we can also come to the beginning of a vital relationship with God. Our failures can lead us to grace and to a profound spiritual awakening. This process occurs frequently with those who suffer loss. It often begin when we face our own weaknesses and realize how much we take favorable circumstances for granted. When loss deprives us of those circumstances, our anger, depression, and ingratitude expose the true state of our souls, showing us how small we really are. We see that our identity is largely external, not internal.
Finally, we reach the point where we begin to search for a new life, one that depends less on circumstances and more on the depth of our souls. That, in turn, opens us to new ideas and perspectives, including spiritual ones. We feel the need for something beyond ourselves, and it begins to dawn o nus that reality may be more than we once thought it to be. We begin to perceive hints of the divine, and our longing grows. To our shock and bewilderment, we discover that there is a Being in the universe who, despite our brokenness and sin, loves us fiercely. In coming to the end ourselves, we have come to the beginning of our true and deepest selves. We have found the One whose love gives shape to our being.
Praying for you, that through whatever loss you are experiencing right now, that you might know the fierce love of God for you.
Advice from St. Francis de Sales that is always timely–and contains one of his best jewels:
“Persevere in overcoming yourself in the little everyday frustrations that bother you; let your best efforts be directed there. God wishes nothing else of you at present, so don’t waste time doing anything else. Don’t sow your desires in someone else’s garden; just cultivate your own as best you can; don’t long to be other than what you are, but desire to be thoroughly what you are. Direct your thoughts to being very good at that and to bearing the crosses, little or great, that you will find there. Believe me, this is the most important and the least understood point in the spiritual life. We all love what is according to our taste; few people like what is according to their duty or to God’s liking. (Letters of Spiritual Direction)
“Let God’s promises shine on your problems.” (Corrie ten Boom)