Monday with Merton


The grace of Easter is a great silence, an immense tranquility and a clean taste in your soul. It is the taste of heaven, but not the heaven of some wild exaltation. The Easter vision is not riot and drunkenness of spirit, but a discovery of order above all order—a discovery of God and of all things in Him. This is a wine without intoxication, a joy that has no poison in it. It is life without death. Tasting it for a moment, we are briefly able to see and love all things according to their truth, to possess them in their substance hidden in God, beyond all sense. For desire clings to the vesture and accident of things, but charity possesses them in the simple depths of God.  

Thomas Merton, Journals.  


Monday with Merton


The power of the Easter Vigil liturgy in part stems from the fact that so many vestiges of primitive nature rites are included and sanctified in it. Mystery of fire and mystery of water. Mystery of spring: Ver sacrum. Fire, water and spring made sacred and meaningful theologically by the Resurrection of Christ, the new creation. Instead of stamping down the force of new life in us (and turning it into a dragon), let it be sweetened, sanctified and exalted, a figure of the life of the Spirit which is made present in our heart’s love by the Resurrection. One unquestionable improvement in the liturgy of Holy Week is the recovery of the more ancient tone for the singing of the Passion. It is splendidly austere and noble. Tremendously moving, like great tolling Flemish bells stirring whole populations in medieval cities, or like the stone sides of the Cistercian churches of the twelfth century which echoed to those tones. The chant was a mighty and living presence, binding us together in mystery. A great eloquence and sobriety that has almost been lost from the world but has been recovered. This eloquence, though, is stubborn, it is in man, it will not go. Christ preserves it, as He preserves us, from our own vulgarity.  

Thomas Merton, Journals

A Belated Lenten Reading Program

We’re approaching the third Sunday of Lent and, therefore, are close to half way to Easter.  It’s long been a custom for Catholics, perhaps stemming from the practice St. Benedict outlined in his Rule, to step up their spiritual reading for Lent.  This spiritual reading is usually planned for some days before the season begins on Ash Wednesday.  If you’re like me, however, that doesn’t always happen; Ash Wednesday comes and goes and suddenly you find yourself getting little or no spiritual reading done at all.  Then, like all good procrastinators, you say to yourself, I’ll do better next year and give up on the idea altogether.  Shame on you, it’s never too late to set things right.

To assist all you procrastinators out there, I’ve come up with a list of five books that make good Lenten reading, in fact good reading, no matter if you start on time or not.  I’m not saying you should try to read all five books between now and Holy Saturday, but you might pick one, possibly two of them and start reading today.  Then, come Holy Saturday, you might have firmed up your spiritual reading habit and decide to read the other three or four books to finish the list.

What are these five little books?  Here’s the list.

  1. The Spiritual Combat, Lorenzo Scupoli
  2. This Tremendous Lover, Eugene Boylan
  3. In Silence with God, Benedict Baur
  4. Seasons of Celebration, Thomas Merton
  5. Bread in the Wilderness, Thomas Merton

Why these five books?  Well, I have a reason for selecting each of these books as candidates for a belated Lenten reading program, but I leave you with a challenge – after you’ve read the books on the list, tell me why you think I consider them candidates for reading during Lent, even if you start late.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Big with Wonder


A 7 Quick Takes post as hosted at the This Ain’t the Lyceum blog.

“Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder.”
Thomas Aquinas

I heard about this on Jenniful Fulwiler’s radio show on the Catholic Channel and thought I would share it – a list, from FOCUS of the 5 Best Free Catholic Apps. Much as I dislike overuse of electronic toys, there’s no avoiding the fact that many people use their phones and tablets for almost everything these days. So, might as well use them to help grow your faith. The five apps according to FOCUS are:

1) iBreviary, an app for praying the Liturgy of the Hours;
2) FOCUS Equip, an app for boosting you apologetics skills;
3) The Pope App, all about the Pope;
4) Mea Culpa, an app to help you make a better confession;
5) Truth & Life, an audio version of the RSV-CE version of the Bible, so you can listen to the Bible in the car or when when you’re out running, or whatever else.

You can find the list, and fuller explanations, HERE.

However, that list wouldn’t be my recommend best free apps. For one thing, the Mea Culpa app is nowhere to be found on the Apple app venue. So, here’s my list of the five best free Catholic apps:

1. IBreviary
2. Laudate: this is an app that has the daily Mass readings, info on the saint of the day, and podcast reflections from Pope Benedict, and much more;
3. Universalis, daily readings, Catholic calendar, Liturgy of the Hours, and more;
4. Three Minute Retreat, a 3 minute Ignatian type retreat from Loyola Press;
5. Confession, an app to assist in confession and keep track of when you last confession was made.

Work has intruded again this week, but I have managed to get a bit of a schedule in place and that helps with maintaining all my important commitments in retirement life. For example, this past Sunday, we attended a recital by the Ute Pass Chamber Players in Woodland Park and it was quite enjoyable. I’d never heard of the group but my clarinet instructor is a member and they were doing Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet, a beautiful piece, and I had to go hear it. They did a brilliant job and I’m very happy we were able to attend. I wish there were more groups like that in our area, but I guess the market just isn’t there..

Lent is fast approaching and once again I’m having trouble realizing how fast time is passing. It seems like we just took down the Christmas tree. I can’t help but wonder if time seems to pass so much faster these days because of all the technology we make use of. I know, in my own field of accounting, the software and services available electronically, not to mention spreadsheets and databases, make it possible to do so much more, so much faster, than could have been done when I first began my career, it would have seemed impossible back then. When everything was done by hand, the days were lived at a noticeably slower pace and the sense of urgency to have things done NOW just wasn’t realistic. Are we better off?

We’ve had some wonderful, mild weather for the last two or three weeks, with only one or two bouts of snow. After a rather rough November and December, it’s been a delight just to get outside with just a fleece jacket on my back, or without a jacket of any kind, and see the sun. Like all good things, however, we are soon to pay the price, with the predictors now calling for up to three inches of snow on Sunday night and through Monday.

The downside to all this cyclical weather is that the roads in our fair burgh are paying the price. Previously pitiful potholes are becoming monstrous, car swallowing chasms, and the city seems unable to make a dent in keeping pace with mother nature. Ahhhhhhh, springtime in the Rockies.


Muhammed Ali once said, “Silence is golden when you can’t think of a good answer.” It’s also golden when you can’t think of a 7th Quick Take. Until next week then.

A Prayer of St. Gregory Nazianzen

imageTo The All-Transcendent God

O All-Transcendent God
(and what other name could describe you?),
what words can hymn Your praises?
No word does You justice.
What mind can probe Your secret?
No mind can encompass You.
You are alone beyond the power of speech,
yet all that we speak stems from You.
You are alone beyond the power of thought,
yet all that we can conceive springs from You.
All things proclaim You,
those endowed with reason and those bereft of it.
All the expectation and pain of the world coalesces in You.
All things utter a prayer to You,
a silent hymn composed by You.
You sustain everything that exists,
and all things move together to Your orders.
You are the goal of all that exists.
You are one and You are all,
yet You are none of the things that exist,
neither a part nor the whole.
You can avail Yourself of any name;
how shall I call You,
the only unnameable?
All-transcendent God!

Prayer of St. Polycarp


O Lord God Almighty, Father of your blessed and beloved Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have been given knowledge of yourself; you are the God of angels and powers, of the whole creation, and of all generations of the righteous who live in your sight. I bless you for granting me this day and hour, that I may be numbered among the martyrs, to share in the cup of your Anointed and to rise again to everlasting life, both in body and in soul, in the immortality of the Holy Spirit. May I be received among them this day in your presence, a sacrifice rich and acceptable, even as you appoint and foreshadow, and now bring to pass, for you are the God of truth in whom there is no falsehood. For this, and for all else, I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you; through our eternal High Priest in heaven, your beloved Son Jesus Christ, by whom and through whom be glory to you and the Holy Spirit, now and for all ages to come. Amen.

A Prayer of St. Basil the Great


O God and Lord of the Powers, and Maker of all creation, Who, because of Thy clemency and incomparable mercy, didst send Thine Only-Begotten Son and our Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind, and with His venerable Cross didst tear asunder the record of our sins, and thereby didst conquer the rulers and powers of darkness; receive from us sinful people, O merciful Master, these prayers of gratitude and supplication, and deliver us from every destructive and gloomy transgression, and from all visible and invisible enemies who seek to injure us. Nail down our flesh with fear of Thee, and let not our hearts be inclined to words or thoughts of evil, but pierce our souls with Thy love, that ever contemplating Thee, being enlightened by Thee, and discerning Thee, the unapproachable and everlasting Light, we may unceasingly render confession and gratitude to Thee: The eternal Father, with Thine Only-Begotten Son, and with Thine All-Holy, Gracious, and Life-Giving Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

A Prayer from Pope St. Clement I


In The Name Of The Whole Christian People.

We beg you, Master,
be our help and strength.
Save those among us who are oppressed,
have pity on the lowly,
and lift up the fallen.
Heal the sick,
bring back the straying,
and feed the hungry.
Release those in prison,
steady those who falter,
and strengthen the fainthearted.
Let all nations come to know you, the one God,
with your Son Jesus Christ,
and us your people and sheep of your pasture.
Do not keep count of the sins of your servants,
but purify us through the bath of your truth
and direct our steps.
Help us to walk in holiness of heart,
and to do what is good and pleasing in your eyes
and in the eyes of our rulers.
Master, let your face shine on us
to grant us every good in peace,
protect us by your powerful hand,
deliver us from every evil by the might of your arm.
Grant us and all who dwell on this earth
peace and harmony, O Lord.

This is the second in the series I’m doing during this Easter season consisting in prayers from the Early Church.

Copyright © Catholic Doors Ministry



The Many Gifts of God

A 7 Quick Takes Post


image“Stupidity is also a gift of God, but one mustn’t misuse it.”

Pope John Paul II

It’s hard sometimes to realize that everything that happens is, indeed, a gift of God not to be misused.

I should write about Easter and what it was like. We attended Mass at our local parish and it was a quite reverent and worshipful setting of the Ordinary Form of the Mass, demonstrating that such a thing is truly possible. The church wasn’t over-decorated, as so many parishes tend to do, but was subdued and very dignified with little more than lilies at the ambo and in front of the alter. There was a banner in white, embroidered with a cross, behind and above the presider’s chair and a white sort of runner on the left side of the ambo. The music, featuring a youth choir, was traditional and well done, and, all in all, the whole thing was more than I might have expected from a parish that impresses me as tending to the more progressive temperament. The only problem I had, and this always happens on Easter and Christmas, is the place was packed. My preference is always to the quieter from of worship, I love Mass in a small monastery or small town church where the setting is more intimate and the congregation small. I can focus on the Mass in such an environment. Having a crowd with nearly every seat taken and people chatting and moving about, frankly, drives me nutzo; the atmosphere is nothing but distracting and, with the ADHD personality I have, I find it impossible to concentrate and take in what is really going on.

One example of the distraction presented on Sunday: A couple I’d never seen before sat in front of us. My guess is they were in their mid to late 40s and were nicely dressed and seemed quite friendly. I don’t know if they are members of the parish and regularly attend one of the other scheduled Masses or not, so they may be faithful Catholics in every sense of the word. However, the lady, at every mention of Jesus’ name, burst out chuckling and, in most such instances, stuck her elbow in her mate’s ribs. Now, what it was about the Easter Mass, or her own experience, that could provoke such a response, I don’t know. It drove me out of my mind and, despite what that says about me, I couldn’t help but begin to look for the response. Something like this happens every Easter.

Anyway, the rest of the day was spent cooking lamb chops on the grill, our first use of the grill this year, and sitting on the deck in the back soaking in the sun and reading. It was, all in all, a most delightful day.

I see, from a post by Mr. Sales of All Along the Watchtower, that the British PM, David Cameron, “came out” last week as a Christian. The announcement has, as is to be expected in this secular age, caused quite the furor. Checking out the story in the Independent, I found one interesting quote from Mr. Cameron’s announcement:

“Mr Cameron went on to describe himself as a ‘rather classic’ member of the Church of England, ‘not that regular in attendance, and a bit vague on some of the more difficult parts of the faith’.”

Generally, we see politicians loudly proclaiming their faith, in the face of quite unfaithful behavior, as if they were the prophet Isaiah. David Cameron has the honesty to admit he’s less than perfect as a Christian. It’s a refreshing change.

Do yah think?

“The Crisis in the Ukraine May be Defused or is There More to Come” — Colorado Springs Gazette, Monday, April 21, 2014

I started reading another book by Fr. James Schall this week, The Mind that is Catholic, a collection of essays on, obviously, the mind that is thinking with the Church. In the first essay, which bears the name of the book, Fr. Schall uses quotes from the Bible and famous Catholic authors to depict seven characteristics of a Catholic mind. One of these is a quote from St. Thomas More to the point that Jesus feeds us with finest wheat, but it’s up to us to chew. We’re not only spiritual beings, we are physical beings equally, and it’s good to remind ourselves now and then that we must fully live up to our part in God’s plans.

Speaking of Fr. Schall, he had a good piece on the Crisis magazine web site just yesterday on the tyranny of tolerance we seem to be living under these days. He writes:

“We thus have become infinitely “tolerant” of anything but truth itself. Speech is not directed to truth or falsity of an issue but to the “sensitivity” and “compassion” of those who hear it. “Objective” standards are subject to the listener’s “right” to hear only what he wants to hear.”

It’s a strange world we live in that fears the truth about anything.

Once again, I must thank Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary for hosting these 7 Quick Takes each week. There are many fine bloggers ripe for the picking to be found posting there each week.