I am not worthy, Master and Lord,
that you should come
beneath the roof of my soul;
Yet, since you in your love for all people
wish to dwell within me,
in boldness I come before you.
You command “Open the gates!”
Gates you alone have forged;
And you will come in
with love toward all, as is your nature.
You will come in and enlighten my dark reasoning.
I believe you will do this,
for you did not send away
the harlot who came to you with tears,
nor cast out the repenting publican,
nor reject the thief
who acknowledged your kingdom.
You did not forsake the repentant persecutor,
the apostle Paul, even as he was.
But all who came to you in repentance,
you counted in the band of your friends;
You, who alone lives in glory forever,
now and unto the endless ages.
— St. John Chrysostom (347-407)
I am not worthy, Master and Lord,
Author Sue Monk Kidd tells of a time when she had not really been true to herself in the work that she was doing, and in seeking her true self she decided to go to a retreat center among the live oaks in the low country of South Carolina, a place called Springbank.
She said that as she walked through the front door there, pinned up on the wall, was a picture of a pregnant Madonna.
Under the picture were printed these words:
“This image represents each person who is trying to birth the real self, the image of God that is taking shape within. For that conception to move to its fullness, we all need time to be quiet, to be reflective, and to be centered in our deep places.”
There is a story of two priests who were speaking about their respective blood brothers, both of whom had strayed from the Catholic faith.
One remarked, “I have been praying for my brother for fifteen years and I’m beginning to lose hope.”
The other responded, not without wisdom, “I’ve been praying for my brother for twenty-five years, and I am beginning to hope.”
The message of the parable is important: when our hearts are tested by the secularism around us (or within us), prayer for others is related to our hope in the power and presence of God’s grace.
Our hope can be tried, but such trials are also related to our own progressive conversion, and therefore serve to our spiritual benefit. . . . Advent is a season of hope in the promises of God, hope for the conversion of ourselves and of others.
We should pray ardently for this great good, and allow hope in Christ to change us. For who are we to underestimate the power of the grace of God?
– Fr. Thomas Joseph White, OP, The Magnificat Advent Companion, from Witnesses to Hope
You hollow us out, God,
so that we may carry you,
and you endlessly fill us
only to be emptied again.
Make smooth our inward spaces
that we may hold you
with less resistance
and bear you
with deeper grace.
Jan L. Richardson, Night Visions
“I believe that humanity’s yearning–all of it, the wailing and the wishing, the eagerness and the edginess–is somehow, in the mind of a loving God, bound together into a single reaching for the light.”
Don’t think that love, to be true, has to be extraordinary.
What is necessary is to continue to love. How does a lamp burn, if it is not by the continuous feeding of little drops of oil? When there is no oil, there is no light and the bridegroom will say: “I do not know you”.
Dear friends, what are our drops of oil in our lamps? They are the small things from every day life: the joy, the generosity, the little good things, the humility and the patience. A simple thought for someone else. Our way to be silent, to listen, to forgive, to speak and to act. That are the real drops of oil that make our lamps burn vividly our whole life.
Don’t look for Jesus far away, He is not there. He is in you, take care of your lamp and you will see Him.
– Mother Teresa
Words: Katherine K. Davis, b1892
Music: “The Ash Grove”, a traditional Welsh melody.
Let all things now living a song of thanksgiving
To God the creator triumphantly raise.
Who fashioned and made us, protected and stayed us,
Who still guides us on to the end of our days.
God’s banners are o’er us, His light goes before us,
A pillar of fire shining forth in the night.
Till shadows have vanished and darkness is banished
As forward we travel from light into light.
His law he enforces, the stars in their courses
And sun in its orbit obediently shine;
The hills and the mountains, the rivers and fountains,
The deeps of the ocean proclaim him divine.
We too should be voicing our love and rejoicing;
With glad adoration a Song let us raise
Till all things now living unite in thanksgiving:
“To God in the highest, Hosanna and praise!”
Make this a holy table, O God.
A table where food, conversation and laughter are shared in abundance;
A table where all are fed, body and spirit;
A table where we welcome all as they are, not as we wish they would be;
A table where the memory of those who are not here is full and alive;
A table where old grudges don’t seem so important, and old hurts are soothed by mutual affection;
A table of joy;
A table of gratitude;
An experience of your grace.
— A prayer from a Presbyterian Church
It costs so much to be a full human being that there are very few who have the enlightenment or the courage to pay the price…. One has to abandon altogether the search for security, and reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to embrace the world like a lover. One has to accept pain as a condition of existence. One has to court doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing. One needs a will stubborn in conflict, but apt always to total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying.
– To Be A Full Human Being, by Morris West, The Shoes of the Fisherman
In friendship we are joined honor and charm, truth and joy, sweetness and good-will, affection and action. And all these take their beginning from Christ, advance through Christ, and are perfected in Christ.
– Aelred of Rievaulx