Friday, April 19, 2019

The Dream of the Rood


An Old English poem translated by Amy Troolin

Behold! I wish to speak the best of dreams,
that I dreamed at midnight,
when speech-bearers remained at rest!
It seemed to me that I saw a most wonderful tree
to extend upward on high, enwrapped in light,
brightest of beams. That beacon was entirely
covered with gold; jewels stood
beautifully on the surfaces of the earth, and also there were five
up on the shoulder beam – an angel of the Lord watched over them –
beautifully through eternal decree. That was certainly not a wicked one's gallows there,
but the holy spirits beheld him there,
men over earth, and all this glorious creation.
Wonderful was that victory-beam, and I stained with sins,
wounded with iniquities. I saw the tree of glory,
exalted with coverings to shine with delights,
adorned with gold; jewels had
splendidly covered the tree of the Ruler.
But I through that gold was able to realize
the former strife of the wretched one when it first began
to bleed on the right side. I was entirely with sorrows afflicted
fearful I was before that fair sight. I saw that brilliant beacon
change coverings and colors; sometimes it was with water made moist,
drenched with flow of blood, sometimes with treasure adorned.
But I lying there a long while
beheld the sorrow-grieving tree of the Healer,
until I heard that it spoke;
the best wood began to speak those words
That was in years gone by – I remember it yet –
that I was cut down at the edge of the forest,
removed from my stem. Strong enemies lay hold of me there,
made me there into a spectacle for themselves, commanded me to raise their criminals.
Men carried me there on shoulders, until they set me on a hill,
many enemies fastened me there. I saw then Lord of mankind
hasten with great valor that He would wish to climb up on me.
there I dared not then contrary to the Lord's word
to bow or burst, when I saw tremble
the surfaces of earth. I was able to
throw down all enemies, but I stood fast.
Then the young hero stripped himself – that was God almighty –
strong and unflinching; He climbed up onto the high cross,
bold in the sight of many, when he wished to redeem mankind
I trembled when that warrior embraced me; but I dared not bow to earth,
to fall to the surfaces of earth, but I had to stand fast.
A cross I was erected; I lifted up a powerful King,
Lord of heavens, I dared not bend myself.
They drove through me with dark nails; in me those scars are seen,
open malicious-wounds; I dared not injure any of them.
They mocked us both together. I was all made moist with blood,
drenched from the side of that Man, after He had sent forth His spirit.
Many I on that hill have experienced
of cruel deeds. I saw the God of hosts
stretched out grievously. The shades of night had
covered with clouds the corpse of the Ruler,
the bright light, shadow went forth,
dark under clouds. All creation wept,
they lamented the King's fall. Christ was on the cross.
But there the eager ones came from afar
to that Son of a King. I beheld all that.
Sorely I was afflicted with sorrows, but I bowed down to the hands of those men,
meek, with great zeal. There they took almighty God,
lifted Him up from the oppressive torment. Then the warriors left me
to stand covered in blood; I was all wounded with arrows.
They laid there the limb-weary One, they stood themselves at the head of His body,
they beheld there the Lord of heaven, and He rested Himself there a while,
weary after that great strif. They began then to make an earth-house for Him,
men in the sight of the bane. They carved it out of bright stone;
they set therein the Ruler of victories. They began to sing a sorrow-song for Him
wretched in the evening-tide, then they would journey again,
weary away from the glorious Lord. He rested there with a small company.
But we weeping there a good while
stood in fixed position. A voice went up
of warriors. Corpse cooled
fair dwelling of soul. Then a man began to fell us
all to earth. That was dreadful fate!
Someone buried us in a deep pit. But there the thanes of the Lord,
friends learned...
adorned me with gold and silver.
Now you can hear, my dear man,
what work of evils I have endured,
of grievous sorrows. Now the time is come
that they honor me far and wide
men over the earth and all the glorious creation,
they pray to the beacon. On me the Child of God
suffered a while; therefore I now glorious
rise up under heavens, and I can heal
each one, of those who for themselves will be in awe of me.
Formerly I had become the bitterest of torments,
most hateful to people, before I for them life's way
straight opened, to speech-bearers.
Behold, then He honored me, Lord of glory
over the trees of the forest, Guardian of the heavenly kingdom,
just as He His mother also, Mary herself,
Almighty God, for all men
honored over all womankind.
Now I command you, my dear man,
that you this vision tell to men;
uncover with words that it is a cross of glory,
on which Almighty God suffered
for the many sins of mankind
and Adam's deeds of old.
Death He tasted there, but afterward the Lord arose
with His great power to help men.
He ascended then into Heaven. He will hasten back hither
into this middle-earth to seek mankind
on doomsday the Lord Himself,
Almighty God, and His angels with,
that He then wills to judge, He Who possesses control of judgment,
for each one, as He formerly here
in this transitory life earned.
There cannot be any unafraid
of the word that the Ruler speaks:
He asks of the many where the man may be,
who for the name of the Lord would
taste of bitter death as He did before on the cross.
But they then tremble, and few think
what they to Christ would begin to say.
There is not any need then to be so terrified
who bears already in his breast the best of beacons,
but through that cross shall come to a kingdom
from earth-way each soul,
who with the Ruler thinks to dwell.”
I prayed then for myself to that cross with a joyful heart,
with great zeal, there I was alone
with a small company; heart was
hastened on the journey, endured full many
times of desire. It is for me now a pleasure of life
that I might seek the victory-beam,
alone more often than all men,
fully to adore; for my desire is for that
much in heart, and my hope of protection is
directed to that cross. I do not possess many powerful
friends on earth. But they forth from here
departed from the joys of the world, sought for themselves the King of glory,
they live now in Heaven with the High Father,
they dwell in glory, and I expect for myself
each of days when to me the cross of the Lord,
which I saw before here on earth,
in this fleeting life may take
and bring me then where there is great bliss,
joy in Heaven, there is the Lord's people
seated at a feast, there is perpetual bliss,
and then it may set me where I afterward may
dwell in glory, fully with the holy ones
of joy to partake. May the Lord be a friend to me,
Who here on earth formerly suffered
on that gallows-tree for the sins of man:
He redeemed us and gave us life,
a heavenly home. Joyous expectation was renewed
with glories and with bliss, for those who there suffered fire.
The Son was victorious in that expedition,
mighty and successful, then He with many came,
a company of spirits, into God's kingdom,
Ruler almighty, with angels to bliss
and all the holy ones to those who in heaven before
dwelt in glory, when their Ruler came,
Almighty God, there was His home.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Notes from the Hours: A New Spirit


Lord, create a new spirit in us.

Lord, create in us a spirit of love, a love that truly wills what is best for another and does whatever it can to make that best happen.

Lord, create in us a spirit of faith that we may believe with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and live our faith in love.

Lord, create in us a spirit of hope that we may cling to You now and long for eternal life with You in Heaven.

Lord, create in us a spirit of knowledge, for we want to better understand You and Your plan for our lives.

Lord, create in us a spirit of counsel that we may choose what is good and reject what is evil.

Lord, create in us a spirit of wisdom that we may live out the truths we know and the good we choose each day.

Lord, create in us a spirit of courage to make us strong and steadfast even in times of suffering and trial.

Lord, create in us a spirit of peace that we may rest in You.

Lord, create in us a spirit of joy, a joy so deep and strong that no matter what happens in the world around us, we can turn to You and celebrate Your love.

Lord, create in us a spirit of worship that we may adore You as You deserve.

Lord, create a new spirit in us that we may be more like You.

Amen.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Lost Prayers #14


Short Rosary of the Precious Blood

Incline unto my aid, O God.
O Lord, make haste to help me
Glory be to the Father...

First Mystery
Jesus shed blood in His circumcision.
Five Our Fathers, Glory be to Father...
We beseech Thee, therefore, help Thy servants, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood.

Second Mystery
Jesus shed blood in the agony in the garden.
Five Our Fathers, Glory be to Father...
We beseech Thee, therefore, help Thy servants, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood.

Third Mystery
Jesus shed blood in His scourging.
Five Our Fathers, Glory be to Father
We beseech Thee, therefore, help Thy servants, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood.

Fourth Mystery
Jesus shed blood in His crowning with thorns.
Five Our Fathers, Glory be to Father...
We beseech Thee, therefore, help Thy servants, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood.

Fifth Mystery
Jesus shed blood in carrying His cross.
Five Our Fathers, Glory be to Father...
We beseech Thee, therefore, help Thy servants, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood.

Sixth Mystery
Jesus shed blood in His crucifixion.
Five Our Fathers, Glory be to Father...
We beseech Thee, therefore, help Thy servants, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood.

Seventh Mystery
Jesus shed blood and water from His wounded side.
Five Our Fathers, Glory be to Father...
We beseech Thee, therefore, help Thy servants, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood.

Prayer
O most precious blood, source of eternal life, the price and ransom of the entire world, refreshment and laver of our souls, which dost continually advocate the cause of man before the throne of the sovereign mercy, I adore thee profoundly, and wish, as far as in me lies, to compensate the injuries and the barbarous treatment which thou continually receivest from those, and especially those, who rashly dare to blaspheme thee. Oh! who will not bless this blood of infinite value? Who will not feel his heart inflamed with love for Jesus, that shed it? What would have become of me if I were not redeemed by this divine blood? But what has drained the sacred veins of my Lord of His blood, even to the last drop? Ah! it was surely His love. O infinite love, which has bestowed on us this all-healing balsam! O inestimable balsam, springing from the fountain of immense love! Oh! make all hearts and all tongues praise, glorify, and thank Thee, now and for all eternity. Amen.

Thou hast redeemed us, O Lord, with Thy blood.
And hast made us a king to our God.

Let us pray.
O Almighty and eternal God, Who hast appointed Thy only begotten Son the Redeemer of the world, and wouldst be appeased by His blood; grant, we beseech Thee, that we may so venerate, with solemn worship, this price of our redemption, as to be protected by its virtue from the evils of this present life, and enjoy eternal rewards in heaven; Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

From The Treasury of the Sacred Heart, 1877

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Interacting with Samuel, Part 1


Many of us read the Bible often, but do we truly interact with what we read? Or more importantly, do we truly interact with God, Who is the Author of what we read? In the series that begins with this post, we'll be reading through the two Books of Samuel slowly and carefully. For each chapter, I'll provide a set of questions designed to help us enter into a conversation with the text and with God. These question sets will not replace a commentary (I suggest the Navarre Bible and/or the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible), but they will lead us to reflect more deeply on God's Word.

1 Samuel 1

* What do you think about Hannah's position as the childless wife? How does it affect her character? How is God using her situation? What is He trying to teach her?

*Why is Peninnah so nasty to Hannah?

*Why do Elkanah's attempts to comfort Hannah fail?

*What motives lie behind Hannah's vow?

*Why does Eli so easily misjudge Hannah's silent prayer? What do you think about Hannah's response to Eli? What does their interaction show us about them?

*What does it mean that the Lord “remembered” Hannah?

*How do you think Hannah must have felt when she left her son, Samuel, with Eli? Why did she do it?

1 Samuel 2

*What are some similarities and differences between Hannah's song and Mary's Magnificat?

*What evidence does Hannah provide about God's control over the lives of His people?

*How does Hannah act as a prophet?

*What is at the heart of the sins of Eli's sons?

*How is Hannah rewarded for her generosity?

*Why is Eli held responsible for the sins of his sons?

*How does God's punishment (as foretold by the nameless prophet) perfectly fit the crimes of Eli and his sons?

*Who is the faithful priest God predicts through the nameless prophet (as prophecy often has more than one level, there may be more than one answer)?

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Psalm 37: The Do Not Fret Psalm


“Do not fret...” “Do not fret...” “Do not fret...” Three times the writer of Psalm 37 (mostly like King David) implores us to calm down and let go of our worry and upset. The Hebrew word he uses is charah, and in the form used in the psalm, it literally means to heat oneself up in vexation, to kindle a fire of distress deep within. Indeed, when we fret, we kindle a flame in our minds that easily burns out of control and, if we're not careful, could consume us and make our lives miserable.

But how do we stop fretting? When we look at the world around us, we see evil everywhere...violence, hatred, horrors. Sorrows and sufferings invade our lives and the lives of our loved ones. We never know what tomorrow will bring. We don't even know what the next minute will bring. All of these things frighten us, shake us, and make us aware of our fragility, and so we fret.

But David gives us some excellent reasons to put aside our fretting. God is in control. He knows exactly what is going on in the world and in each of us. He knows what is best, and He will solve each and every problem in His own time. The wicked will experience the consequences of their evil. The righteous, even though they may suffer long, will be vindicated in the end and live forever in the land of the Lord.

In the meantime, God gives us strength to cope day by day with whatever we must face. He makes our steps firm as we walk His path. He delights in our smallest efforts to reach out to Him. He picks us up when we fall. He holds us by the hand and guides us at every moment. He will never, ever forsake us, never abandon us. He will rescue us from our trials and save us in His love.

What then must we do? David gives us five specific ways to douse the fire of our agitations and worries:

*“Trust in the Lord, and do good”
*“Take delight in the Lord”
*“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him”
*“Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for Him”
*“Wait for the Lord, and keep to His way”
We should all post these five instructions in visible places throughout our homes and turn to them whenever we feel ourselves beginning to fret.

Finally, David assures us once more of God's protection and love: “The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their refuge in the time of trouble. The Lord helps them and rescues them; He rescues them from the wicked, and saves them, because they take refuge in Him.”

If God is truly our refuge, our protector, and our savior, then why should we ever feel the need to fret?

(The Hebrew definition comes from Biblehub.com.)

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Lost Prayers #13


A Selection of Short Evening Prayers

O Almighty and Everlasting God, as in the morning and at noontide, so now, prostrate before Thy Majesty, we pray that the darkness of sin being dispelled from our hearts, we may be brought to the true light, which is Christ. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Look favourably, O Lord, on this our evening prayer, and grant that when the night is passed we may be found without any stain, ready to offer our morning praises to Thee. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Hear, O Lord, Thy servants offering their evening praises to Thy Name. Through the silent hours of the night deign to watch over us, whom Thou hast protected in all the dangers of the day. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Illumine our hearts with the light of Thy splendour, O Lord, we beseech Thee: may Thy protection keep us safe all the days of our life, and in every attack of our enemy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

We thank Thee, O Lord, God Almighty, for that Thou hast preserved us through the course of this day, and hast brought us unto this evening hour: we humbly pray that this raising of our hands to Thee may be counted for an evening sacrifice well pleasing in Thy sight. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Send Thy light, O Lord, into the dark places of our hearts. In Thy love, discover to us the snares set by our enemy in the hours of night, that, saved by Thy protection in soul and body, we may deserve again to see the morning light. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

O God, Who does bid us to praise Thee that Thou mayest be constrained to pardon, grant that the prayers which we have offered up at each hour of this day may be remembered in Thy mercy. Whatever evil we have done this day, do Thou in Thy loving kindness forgive. So guard us through the nights and days of this earthly life, that we may merit to see the dawn of the day that knows no night. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

(From A Little Book of Prayers from Old English, 1900)

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Notes from the Hours: Renewal


As a sign of Your love, You renew each day for the sake of our well-being and happiness, renew us daily for the sake of Your glory.

A sign of Your love... Lord, sometimes we forget how much You love us. Since You are love, perfect love, agapē, that love that pours itself out completely for the good of the beloved, You give us innumerable signs of Your love. Please help us notice them.

You renew each day... Lord, You give us a fresh start, a new beginning each morning. You offer us all new graces, new opportunities to reach out to You and to welcome You as You extend Your love to us. You provide joys. You give us challenges that we might learn. Sometimes You allow sorrows that we might turn to You for comfort. No matter what, You renew each day that we may grow ever closer to You.

For the sake of our well-being and happiness... Lord, You want us to be happy, but the only way we can find real happiness is to unite ourselves to You, to give You our whole being, to love You with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. Only then will we experience true happiness and well-being.

Renew us daily... Lord, we all fail. We all sin. We all need Your mercy, Your grace, Your forgiveness. We all need the renewal, the restoration that only You can give. Renew us, Lord, each and every day.

For the sake of Your glory... Lord, all that we are, all that we have, all that we do must be directed toward You, must be for Your glory, must be according to Your will. We must learn to put You first, before and above all things and even all other people. Our love for You must always take top priority. Give us the grace to make that true every day.

Amen.