Thursday, December 5, 2013

December 9

IS any grieved or tired? Yea, by God's Will:
   Surely God's Will alone is good and best:
   O weary man, in weariness take rest,
O hungry man, by hunger feast thy fill.
Discern thy good beneath a mask of ill,
   Or build of loneliness thy secret nest;
   At noon take heart being mindful of the west,
At night wake hope for dawn advances still.
At night wake hope. Poor soul, in such sore need
   Of wakening and of girding up anew,
   Hast thou that hope which fainting doth pursue?
      No saint but hath pursued and hath been faint:
Bid love wake hope, for both thy steps shall speed
      Still faint yet still pursuing, O thou saint.

December 8


ST. MARY whom all generations call blessed, we so call.

Who bore the Saviour of all mankind we cherish in grateful memory.

Whom God the Son deigned to honor, we aspire to honor.

She whom God sanctified is holy: she who responded to God's call is "called and chosen and faithful."

Her gifts are His gifts to her, her graces His graces in her.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

December 7

"And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl."--(Rev. xxi. 21.)

A NATURAL pearl is produced by the disease of an oyster.

Being such, who would have looked to find pearls in the holy and eternal New Jerusalem?

Whatever the "pearls" of heaven may stand for--for Bible language doubtless condescends to our present ignorance--one thing seems clear: since we read of pearls, pearls have a lesson for us.

These pearls form the gates of the celestial city. Gold and gems compose its foundations, its walls, its streets: but all its gates are pearls.

And because pearls stand connected with disease, that is, with one form of suffering, therefore (I think) we may view them as representative of the precious fruits of all worthily borne human suffering: and because they form gates of entrance--exit, thanks be to God, is not in question--they connect themselves vividly with that "great tribulation" out of which came the general assembly of the saints as St. John beheld them in vision:--

"Lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the Throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb. . . . And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the Throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His Temple." (Rev. vii. 9-15.)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December 6


THUS much and no more I find vouched for by my usual chief authority.

Legends, however, augment our scanty store of knowledge, and furnish St. Nicolas with a miraculous babyhood, pretty if uncertain. An ecstasy seized him in his first bath: and while still a suckling he voluntarily fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays.

At a more mature period of his life he saved three sister maidens from temptation and peril by casting three bags of gold, one at a time, through the window of their home, thereby providing their father with dowries for them.

Popularly he is supposed to have concurred in the Council of Nicaea, where among all the assembled Bishops "he shone . . . with so great clarity and opinion of sanctity, that he appeared like a sun among so many stars." Nevertheless carried away by zeal he smote Arius, and thereby incurred a heavy ecclesiastical penalty.

Each legend may teach us something, at any rate by suggestion.

Not to marvel at miraculous babies, but to nurse natural ones for God, is our at least as blessed privilege. And though grace "cometh not with observation" we may feel as certain that Divine Grace takes possession of them in the Baptismal Font, as we could possibly feel if we beheld them rapt in visible ecstasy.

We may study both matter and manner in the incident of the triple dower: the matter, liberality; the manner, delicacy.

While the Council sets before us how much may be lost in one hasty moment.

"Be not highminded, but fear."

December 5

BURY Hope out of sight,
   No book for it and no bell;
It never could bear the light
   Even while growing and well;
Think if now it could bear
The light on its face of care
And gray scattered hair.

No grave for Hope in the earth,
   But deep in that silent soul
Which rang no bell for its birth
   And rings no funeral toll.
Cover its once bright head;
Nor odors nor tears be shed:
It lived once, it is dead.

Brief was the day of its power,
   The day of its grace how brief:
As the fading of a flower,
   As the falling of a leaf,
So brief its day and its hour:
No bud more and no bower
Or hint of a flower.

Shall many wail it? not so:
   Shall one bewail it? not one:
Thus it hath been from long ago,
   Thus it shall be beneath the sun.
O fleet sun, make haste to flee;
O rivers, fill up the sea;
O Death, set the dying free.

The sun nor loiters nor speeds,
   The rivers run as they ran,
Through clouds or through windy reeds
   All run as when all began.
Only Death turns at our cries:--
Lo, the Hope we buried with sighs
Alive in Death's eyes!

December 4

I ONCE heard an exemplary Christian remark that she had never been accused of a fault without afterwards recognizing truth in the accusation.

And if she, how not I?

At the least her words should make me cautious not to rebut any charge in anger or in haste.

And if me, why not you?

December 3


THERE remains on the foregoing subject one anxious question for us to ask and for our consciences to answer: are such speculations profitable, or are they trivial?

Profitable they are, if and so far as they encourage any poor soul to tread the path of obedience.

And perhaps they may effect this, because either line of thought (such as it is) tends to testify: that election is certified, and final perseverance is achieved, by one and the same process open to us all alike,--by simple obedience.

The mystery of predestination or of election may baffle our intellects: obedience will assuredly not transcend our powers.

And there is a second way in which our problem may, I hope, prove helpful: this shall we do, and leave weightier matters undone? We should have been--or at least, I should have been disappointed not to reach an accurate intelligible result by the foregoing calculation. A degree of shame often adds a sting to disappointment; for often we have ourselves, our own rashness or negligence to thank for our failures.

What will it be to have misstated or misworked the whole problem of life; to behold at length the perfect number of the elect made up to the last man, woman, child; and ourselves (God forbid!) to be left out in shame and everlasting contempt?

December 2


BY a different process of arithmetic and of argument (if argument it can be termed) the same result by be reached:--

Once more in our search for the "hundred and fifty-three" brought safe ashore, if so be they indeed prefigure the completed number of the elect, we start from the Decalogue.

To fulfil each of the ten commandments man needs the full grace of God's Most Holy Spirit; which fulness of grace let us represent by the sacred number seven.

Multiply each commandment by the grace needed for its observance, one by seven; and this seven again by ten, the number of the commandments: and seventy appears.

Now as Joseph said unto Pharaoh, "For that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established:" therefore we will express final perseverance by doubling seventy, and obtain one hundred and forty.

But he who is wholly sanctified by God the Holy Ghost is truly owned and saved by the Most Holy Trinity in Unity: wherefore we place the Decalogue under favor of the Divine number Three; making up an additional thirteen.

Which thirteen and hundred and forty added together amount to the required hundred and fifty-three.

December 1


DR. NEALE, in the Introduction to his "Mediaeval Preachers and Mediaeval Preaching," quotes from one of St. Augustine's Paschal Homilies the following curious mystical interpretation of the hundred and fifty-three Fishes of the Second Miraculous Draught:--

"This number signifies the thousand thousands of the Saints and of the faithful. But why did the Lord vouchsafe to signify by these figures the many thousands who shall enter into the kingdom of heaven? Hear why. Ye know that the Law was given by Moses to the people of God; and that in that Law the Decalogue forms the chief part. . . . These ten precepts no man accomplishes by his own strength, unless he is helped by the grace of God. If, therefore, none can fulfil the Law unless God assist with his Spirit, ye must remember that the holy Ghost is set forth to us by the number seven. . . . Since, then, we need the Spirit to fulfil the Law, add seven to ten, and you have seventeen. Now, if you count from one to seventeen, you obtain one hundred and fifty-three. I need not count this up for you; count it for yourselves, and reckon thus: one and two and three and four make ten. In like manner add up the other numbers to seventeen, and you will have the holy number of the faithful and of the saints that shall be in heavenly places with the Lord."

This same calculation St. Augustine, we are informed, repeated substantially in a second and again in a third sermon: whence we may infer that however quaint such comments may appear to some hearers or readers, in others they arouse interest and promote edification.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 23

FEAST OF ST. CLEMENT, BISHOP OF ROME. Died perhaps by martyrdom, about the year 100.

ST. PAUL writes to the Philippians (iv. 3): --"Clement, also, and . . . other my fellow-laborers, whose names are in the Book of Life."

Notwithstanding some alleged difficulty in the way of identification, this saint, certified as such by the voice of inspiration, is considered to be the same as the St. Clement we memorialize today, and who is counted either as the immediate or as the third successor of St. Peter.

His own writings survive as his worthy monument. Otherwise, despite its remaining historically uncertain whether or not he attained the martyr's palm branch, a legend assigns to him as monument a beautiful chapel raised by angels beneath the sea and enshrining his body. For, according to this tradition, he had been exiled from Rome to the marble quarries of Pontus; where he found and encouraged fellow-Christians, and converted pagans: for which latter good work he was condemned to be drowned with an anchor fastened to his neck. Afterwards, in answer to prayer, the sea receded and disclosed the angelic erection.

Another pretty legend relates how in his place of banishment water could only be procured from a spring six miles distant, adding to the weary toil of the quarries. "One day Clement saw a lamb scraping at the soil with one of its forefeet. He took it as a sign that water was there; dug, and found a spring."

Yet what matter mistakes or silence of earthly records concerning any "whose names are in the Book of Life?" Of all such we know assuredly that they shall thirst no more, but the Lamb which is in the midst of the Throne shall lead them unto living fountains of waters, where there shall be no more sea.

November 22


LEGEND, if not history, represents St. Cecilia as given in marriage to a young man named Valerian; whom she converted to Christianity by holding out to him, on that condition, a hope of beholding an Angel who protected her. Valerian, returning from Baptism, beheld Cecilia at her prayers; and with her, an Angel who crowned the pair with roses and lilies before vanishing. Another version of the story shows us the Angel seated at an organ when the young husband lighted upon him. Tiburtius, brother of Valerian, noticing the flowers and understanding their source, was converted likewise. After which all three laid down life for the faith.

St. Cecilia ranks as patroness of music. Her name, too, whether we say Cecilia or Cicely, is musical. Her story exhibits that good and pleasant thing, a family dwelling in harmonious unity and angelic fellowship.

Music may surpass our powers: harmony and the communion of saints even we ourselves also can compass.

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 21

EVERYTHING that is born must die:
   Everything that can sigh may sing:
Rocks in equal balance low or high

   Honeycomb is weighed against a sting,
Hope and fear take turns to touch the sky,
   Height and depth respond alternating.

O my soul spread wings of love to fly,
   Wings of dove that soars on homebound wing:
Love trusts Love, till Love shall justify

November 20

FEAST OF ST. EDMUND, STYLED MARTYR, KING OF EAST ANGLIA. Born in the year 841; died in battle with the Danes, or was slain after the same battle, 870.

ACCORDING to one account King Edmund, finding himself unequal to resisting the Danish invaders, offered his own person as their prisoner if so his people might be spared. The Danes, however, after tempting him in vain to apostatize from the Christian Faith, treated him barbarously, and ended by shooting him to death with arrows. The town of Bury St. Edmunds is the place of his sepulture.

Another account simply state that he fell in battle against the same invaders.

"The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness."

November 19

"Cursed is the ground for thy sake; . . . thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee." --(GEN. iii.17, 18)

SHORT of reprobation, there is no Divine curse upon sin within which does not lurk a blessing ready for penitents. And this, although "God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent:" yea, rather, even because He is that Lord Who changeth not, therefore we are not consumed.

Which truth the penal thorn illustrates: for a veritable thorn it is which bears the rose.

November 18

WE know not when, we know not where,
   We know not what that world will be,
But this we know: it will be fair
   To see.

With heart athirst and thirsty face
   We know and know not what shall be: --
Christ Jesus bring us of His grace
   To see.

Christ Jesus bring us of His grace,
   Beyond all prayers our hope can pray,
One day to see Him face to face, --
   One day.

November 17

FEAST OF ST. HUGH, BISHOP OF LINCOLN. Born in Burgundy in the year 1140; died in London, 1200.

HAVING passed through a grave and pious childhood, Hugh, at the age of nineteen, visited the Grande Chartreuse, near Grenoble, and became enamoured of its spiritual beauty enshrined amid marvellous natural beauties of the Alps. Assuming there the Carthusian habit, he spent ten years under that austere but congenial rule. Then Henry II. of England summoned him to govern a Carthusian Priory at Witham: he obeyed, and by kindly virtues won the love of his new neighbors.

In 1186 he was consecrated Bishop of Lincoln: in which character he withstood or rebuked first Henry II., afterwards Richard Coeur de Lion, earning the nickname of Hammer-King by his intrepidity.

He died during the reign of King John, having returned from an embassy of peace with which that monarch had charged him to Philip Augustus of France.

Humility, sweetness, courage,--virtues not always combined--were united in St. Hugh.

At Witham he was pleased himself to carry stones and knead mortar for building-work.

At Lincoln he made friends with a swan which frequented his Palace moat; he fed it, and was habitually greeted by it.

Concerning him, Richard Coeur de Lion is reported to have said: "If all the Bishops in my realm were like that man, kings and princes would be powerless against them."

By our saint's own command his deathbed was made on the floor, being composed of ashes strewn in the form of a cross.

But after his death, we read how "his body was embalmed, and conveyed with great pomp to Lincoln, where it was met by king John of England and king William of Scotland. . . . The two kings put their shoulders under the bier as it was carried into the church."

Friday, November 15, 2013

November 16

THE goal in sight! Look up and sing,
   Set faces full against the light,
Welcome with rapturous welcoming
   The goal in sight.

   Let be the left, let be the right:
Straight forward make your footsteps ring
   A loud alarum through the night.

Death hunts you, yea, but reft of sting;
   Your bed is green, your shroud is white:
Hail! Life and Death and all that bring
   The goal in sight.

November 15

FEAST OF ST. MACHUTUS, BISHOP OF ALETH. I notice his date as assigned to either of two centuries, involving a difference of about sixty years. The earlier date proposed fixes his death in the year 564 or 565.

THIS Machutus, Maclovius, Maclou, or Malo, seems most familiar under the name of St. Malo; which last form connects him with the locality where he lived, though not with his native land which, it appears, was Wales.

Various legends embalm his memory. In boyhood he fell asleep on the seashore, and would have been drowned by the rising tide had not the sand and weed on which he lay floated upward with him.

Later on, when he had assumed the monastic habit, it was his office to light the candles for matins. No fire was within reach: he placed extinct cinders in his bosom, and drew them out aglow.

He died, apparently, while acting, not as Bishop of Aleth, but as Monastic Superior at Archambray.

His life was passed not without vicissitudes, but seems to have closed in peace.

November 14

IT seems an easy thing
Mayhap one day to sing,
Yet the next day
We cannot sing or say.

Keep silence with good heart,
While silence fits our part:
Another day
We shall both sing and say.

Keep silence, counting time
To strike in at the chime;
Prepare to sound:--
Our part is coming round.

Cannot we sing or say?
In silence let us pray,
And meditate
Our love-song while me wait.

November 13

FEAST OF ST. BRITIUS OR BRICTIUS OR BRICE, BISHOP OF TOURS. Born in the fourth century; died about the year 443.

BRITIUS was brought up by St. Martin of Tours and succeeded him in that See.

In youth he appears to have been headstrong and worldly, and accusations beset him in afterlife. According to one version of his story these accusations were refuted; yet his flock appears to have lost, if it ever had entertained, confidence in him: another Bishop superseded him in his diocese, and was followed by yet another, while Britius spent seven penitential years in Rome.

Thence he travelled homewards with letters recommendatory from Pope Sixtus III.; the See once more fell vacant, and he resumed his former charge and dignity, holding them for another seven years until death removed him. Meanwhile he had acquired a saintly reputation.

I have seen a different coloring given to his story, but I follow the more favorable account.

"Charity . . . rejoiceth not in iniquity."

November 12

"LIFT up your hearts"--"We lift them up"--Ah me!
I cannot, Lord, lift up my heart to Thee:
Stoop, lift it up, that where Thou art I too may be.

"Give Me thy heart"--I would not say Thee nay,
But have no power to keep or give away
My heart: stoop, Lord, and take it to Thyself to-day.

Stoop, Lord, as once before now once anew
Stoop, Lord, and hearken, hearken, Lord, and do,
And take my will and take my heart and take me too.

November 11

FEAST OF ST. MARTIN, BISHOP OF TOURS. Born probably at Sabaria in Pannonia about the year 320; died, about 400.

AT the age of fifteen St. Martin started in life as a heathen soldier in the Roman army, though already he had felt the attractive influence of Christianity.

One winter's day, noticing a poor tattered beggar he divided with him his cloak. And the next night, in a dream, he saw our Lord enthroned in glory, arrayed in the half cloak and saying, "Behold the mantle given Me by Martin." After this dream, at the age of eighteen, Martin was baptized. Some two years later, he seems to have demanded his discharge from military service at a moment of impending battle: his commander, Julian, the future apostate Emperor, denied his request with contempt, only to be answered, "Post me in the fore-front of the army, without weapons or armor; but I will not draw sword again. I am become the soldier of Christ."

It may have been some years later that he resorted to St. Hilary of Poitiers by whom he was ordained exorcist. Ere long filial affection carried him back to Pannonia, where his piety was rewarded by the conversion from paganism of his mother, though not, alas! of his father: where, moreover, protesting against the heresy of certain Arian bishops, he was publicly beaten and expelled from his (assumed) birthplace Sabaria.

We next behold him as a hermit in a Milanese solitude, exchanged later for the little solitary island. Still later he founded a monastery in the vicinity of Poiteirs.

At length, about the year 371, the See of Tours falling vacant, the people of Tours by stratagem and force conducted him to his consecration as their Bishop. But he who had been monk and hermit before such elevation, monk and hermit remained in spite of it. First he occupied a cell near the Church; but afterwards he removed to a mere lonely hut of branches on the bank of the Loire, where with eighty disciples he led an ascetic life.

He waxed great as promulgator of the Faith among his heathen neighbors, great as champion of the Truth against internal errors, great as contender that the weapons of church warfare must be spiritual, not carnal. In this last particular he showed himself a faithful disciple of his teacher St.  Hilary, whose noble words on the same point I quote (at second hand): "God will not have a forced homage. What need has He of a profession of faith produced by violence? We must not attempt to deceive Him; He must be sought with simplicity, served by charity, honored and gained by the honest exercise of our free-will."

Even at the end of his long life St. Martin expressed willingness to live on, if for the good of others; but this final sacrifice was not required of him, "for God took him."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November 10

SCARCE-TOLERABLE life which all life long
   Is dominated by one dread of death,--
   Is such life, life? If so, who pondereth
May call salt sweetness or call discord song.
Ah me, this solitude where swarms a throng!
   Life slowly grows and dwindles breath by breath:
   Death slowly grows on us; no word it saith,
Its cords all lengthened and its pillars strong.
Life dies apace, a life that but deceives:
   Death reigns as though it lived, and yet is dead:
Where is the life that dies not, but that lives?
   The sweet long life immortal, ever young,
   True life that woos us with a silver tongue
Of hope, much said and much more left unsaid.

November 9

A COVETOUS, grasping Christian is like a quicksand: the surface smooth, the depth unceasingly on the suck and gulp.

Everything goes down, nothing comes up again: yet is the quicksand apparently none the fuller, neither does it cease from engulfing.

In fact--whether or not one may attribute ideas to a quicksand--it seems at any rate to entertain no idea of ever becoming satisfied. Its aim appears to be not to attain repletion, but to exercise an unbounded swallow.

In this world, crews, cargoes, ships, waifs and strays, respond to the "Give, give" of the quicksand; while objects of proportionate bulk and quality often respond to the unuttered "Give, give" of the covetous man.

Thus in this present world, both; but how in the next world, either?

November 8

OUR heaven must be within ourselves,
   Our home and heaven the work of faith
All through this race of life which shelves
   Downward to death.

So faith shall build the boundary wall,
   And hope shall plant the secret bower,
That both may show magnifical
   With gem and flower.

While over all a dome must spread,
   And love shall be that dome above;
And deep foundations must be laid,
   And these are love.

November 7

ONE of the dearest and most saintly persons I ever knew, in foresight of her own approaching funeral, saw nothing attractive in the "hood and hatband" style toward which I evinced some old-fashioned leaning. "Why make everything as hopeless-looking as possible?" she argued.

And at a moment which was sad only for us who lost her, all turned out in harmony with her holy hope and joy.

Flowers covered her, loving mourners followed her, hymns were sung at her grave, the November day brightened, and the sun (I vividly remember) made a miniature rainbow in my eyelashes.

I have often thought of that rainbow since.

May all who love enjoy cheerful little rainbows at the funerals of their beloved ones.

November 6


ST. LEONARD was son to a Frankish nobleman and Godson to King Clovis. Preferring a life of devotion to the career of a courtier he, after some experience in a monastery, retired to a forest not far from Limoges, and there subsisted on herbs and fruits.

In this forest a king, perhaps Theodebert of Austrasia, whose territory included the Limousin, sometimes followed the chase. On one such occasion he was accompanied by his queen, who then and there gave birth to a healthy baby, but not before the royal husband's anxiety had been awakened: St. Leonard, however, arriving opportunely, all went well with mother and child. In gratitude to St. Leonard the king made  him a grant of land, whereon our saint raised a monastery, naming it Noblac, in honor of so noble a gift, and ruling its inmates until he died.

St. Leonard is accounted the Patron of Prisoners, Clovis (it is said) having empowered him to release every prisoner he visited. If so, we may associate with his memory the Divine words spoken through Isaiah:--"Is not this the fast that I have chosen? . . . to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?"

Friday, November 1, 2013

November 5


"AND now, Lord, what is my hope? truly my hope is even in Thee."

One unfailing comfort of all who start in life "as water" consists in this: that water is constituted an eminent type of God the Holy Ghost.

The mist which refreshed Eden, the spring of Hagar (Gen. xxi. 19), the water which in twelve wells awaited wayfaring Israel, the desert fountain which called forth a song, set Him before us "merciful and gracious:" the water which streamed by the way of Edom to preserve perishing life, the "pure River of Water of Life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the Throne of God and of the Lamb," set Him before us "plenteous in goodness."

And they who by His indwelling become moulded to His likeness, show forth His gracious loveliness, and are "in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men:" and their recompense is themselves also to "be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters fail not."

"Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet."

November 4


THE instability of liquids can on occasion be counteracted by promptitude at full speed: thus an expert knows how to turn topsy-turvy and up again an open vessel of water without spilling one drop.

Whence it appears probable that unhesitating promptitude will prove a corrective virtue for the limp cold-watery character. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might," urges the experienced Preacher. "While I am coming, another steppeth down before me," declares the hope-sick paralytic.

But while promptitude appears remedial for the cold-watery character, it threatens to heap fuel on the flame of the bubbling-up type.

Touching this latter, I venture not to offer any hint here, beyond quoting a suggestion I have met with elsewhere. When a pailful of water is being carried, wood floating on the surface steadies it: and in this wood that devout author saw the Cross.

Le us excitable people try the efficacy of the Cross applied to our hearts by love. I will not despair of its steadying and calming the unquietest heart among us,--yours, or mine.

November 3


ONE only process there is which renders water stable in itself: the process of freezing.

A second resource exists whereby for practical purposes it can be coerced into acting as if stable: dams, dykes, an impervious channel, restrain its laxity, husband its volume, accumulate and direct its strength.

To freeze suggests discipline rather than indulgence: to be straitened seems less enjoyable than to wander at large.

If we be "watery" characters we may not improbably need chills and shadows of life to harden us: full, unbroken, cloudless sunshine might evaporate us altogether, so that even if sought, our place should nowhere be found.

Or perhaps our lot will be cast in a narrow galling groove. Yet better this, surely, than that we should dribble in all directions into mere slush and mire, come to worse than nothing ourselves, and swamp our neighborhood.

November 2


"Unstable as water,"--(or according to an alternative rendering)--"Bubbling up as water, thou shalt not excel."--(Gen. xlix.4.)

THESE prophetic words of doom spoken against one such individual seem to apply to all persons of the "watery" type: to such persons, that is, as are born unstable and excitable.

So far, of course, as the mere natural disposition goes, no fault attaches to them. Only they will have to work under the condition of (at the least) a predisposition towards inferiority.

Which predisposition invites the virtue of humilty.

Now where humility lays deep the low-lying foundation, the superincumbent structure can safely and permanently tower aloft unto heaven.

Whence we perceive how by God's grace a predisposition towards inferiority may be reclaimed as a vantage ground for the achievement of excellence.

November 1


AS grains of sand, as stars, as drops of dew,
   Numbered and treasured by the Almighty Hand,
      The Saints triumphant throng that holy land
Where all things and Jerusalem are new.
We know not half they sing or half they do,
   But this we know, they rest and understand;
   While like a conflagration freshly fanned,
Their love glows upward, outward, through and through.
Lo! like a stream of incense launched on flame
   Fresh Saints stream up from death to life above,
      To shine among those others and rejoice.
What matters tribulation whence they came?
   All love, and only love, can find a voice
Where God makes glad His Saints, for God is Love.

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 31


THIS Vigil is commensurate with the duration of Christendom, for the life of every Christian is this vigil: so ought yours to be, so ought mine.

A vigil is a period wherein to fast, pray, watch; repent of the past, amend the present, prepare and long for the future.

Such is a vigil. Is my life such?

"The night is far spent, the day is at hand."

October 30

WHO is this that cometh up not alone
   From the fiery-flying serpent wilderness,
Leaning upon her own Beloved One,
   Who is this?

Lo, the King of King's daughter, a high princess,
Going home as bride to her Husband's Throne,
   Virgin queen in perfected loveliness.

Her eyes a dove's eyes and her voice a dove's moan,
   She shows like a full moon for heavenliness,
Eager saints and angels ask in heaven's zone:
   Who is this?

October 29

WHO has not rejoiced at the ever familiar, ever marvellous aspect of the stars? Those resplendent orbs remote, abiding.

But now science, endeavoring to account for certain recurrent obscurations of one or more such luminaries, suggests that among them and with them may be revoloving other non-luminous bodies; which interposing periodically between individuals of the bright host and our planet, diminish from time to time the light proceeding from one or other; and again, by advancing along an assigned orbit, reveal their original brightness.

"Such knowledge is too wonderful and excellent for me: I cannot attain unto it."

Yet none the less does the physical hypothesis suggest a spiritual analogy.

If certain stars which present mere dimness and obstruction to our eyes are notwithstanding genuine celestial bodies fulfilling their proper revolution in their legitimate orbit, may not some human fellow-creatures who to us exhibit no sign of grace, yet be numbered among the children of God, and have their lot among the saints?

God grant that so it may be, and grant me fellowship with them.

October 28


TRADITION, but not with unanimous voice, proclaims that St. Simon was martyred in Persia, being sawn asunder: that St. Jude similarly "fell asleep," hanging pierced upon a cross at Edessa.

St. Jude has enriched the Church with the General Epistle which bears his name: of St. Simon no writings remain to us.

The inspired Gospel narrative records little of either Saint beyond his name, except that of course both are included in statements which speak of "the Twelve."

Thus we behold two illustrious Apostles contented scarcely to be mentioned in Holy Scripture: which celestial partial eclipse is followed up by their sharing one Festival between them.

Truly they learnt of Him Who is "meek and lowly in heart;" and now they know by blessed experience that it is enough for the disciple to be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord.

October 27


"THE harvest is past, the summer is ended," writes the Prophet Jeremiah.

Even so this vigil overtakes us in the waning natural year, with harvest past and summer ended.

What has been sown has also been reaped. After the reapers the gleaners have followed: the last ears have been gathered in. It is too late now to sow, whether or not we have sown long ago; or to reap, whether or not we have already reaped.

"The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved," writes the Prophet Jeremiah.

And wiser than he, and more full of tenderness, Christ wept over Jerusalem, saying, "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes."

Nevertheless, to-day, while it is called to-day, He still calls us, saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel."

October 26

OF all the downfalls in the world,
   The flutter of an Autumn leaf
   Grows grievous by suggesting grief:
Who thought, when Spring was first unfurled,
Of this? The wide world lay empearled;
Who thought of frost that nips the world?
                                             Sigh on, my ditty.

There lurk a hundred subtle stings
   To prick us in our daily walk:
   An apple cankered on its stalk,
A robin snared for all his wings,
A voice that sang but never sings;
Yea, sight or sound or silence stings.
                                            Kind Lord, show pity.

October 25

FEAST OF ST. CRISPIN, MARTYR; accounted Patron of shoemakers. The year 285 is perhaps the date of this saint's martyrdom. His brother St. Crispinian suffered and triumphed with him. But so much of their legendary history fails to carry conviction with it, that every alleged particular may prudently be held under correction.

THESE pious brothers, then, were Roman shoemakers working at Soissons. An alternative account makes them Roman nobles. Whatever they were in this world's social scale, they are portrayed to us as such men as "the King delighteth to honor;" and where they now dwell, earth and earthly rank alike have dwindled to nothing.

And if "to nothing" there, can they be any great thing here?

October 24

A WORLDLY Christian resembles a chameleon which possesses two independent eyes addicted to looking in opposite directions.
One eye, let us say, peers frankly downwards fly seeking.

The twin eye peers skywards.

A chameleon used to enjoy the credit of living on air: surely an all but angelic reptile!

Such was the verdict of ignorance. The verdict of knowledge, nowadays, is that the chameleon simply lives on insects.

His downward eye contemplating earth hunts a walking fly. His upward eye scouring heaven presumably hunts a floating fly, but still a fly.

There remains no difference worth speaking of between his upward eye and his downward eye.

October 23.


PERHAPS we may gather a hint of the "why" from that same elephant's platform: smooth, and of ivory.

He rose superior to the snare. But we, I think, are often hampered by what may be termed the ivory smoothness of our surroundings and circumstances.

Beautiful things and comfortable things tempt one to loiter, if not absolutely to stand stock still.

Meanwhile the Bible bids us go on unto perfection, and press toward the mark.

To loiter cannot be to press forward: to stand still cannot be to go on.

Which will we forego: smoothness without, or perfection within? a house of ivory here, or the City of Gold hereafter?

October 22


ONE of the prettiest Japanese carvings I ever saw represented an elephant.

Quite a little elephant done in ivory, yet as elephantine as Jumbo himself. Altogether an exquisite work of art.

Still, its finishing touch of excellence resided (to my thinking) neither in trunk nor in knowing eye; but rather in the subtle artistic instinct which had placed that elephant well back on his ivory stand, so as to leave him room to walk on.

The position spoke for itself. There stood the elephant able and willing to take his walk, and to all intents and purposes about to start.

Thus the unique charm of that immovable elephant lay in his expression of progress.

I fear many of our movable selves so reverse the marvel that the last idea conveyed by our expression is any promise of progress.

But if so, why so?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

October 21


THAT combination of swallows with telegraph wire sets in vivid contrast before our mental eye the sort of evidence we put confidence in and the sort of evidence we mistrust.

The telegraph conveys messages from man to man.

The swallows by dint of analogy, of suggestion, of parallel experience, if I may call it so, convey messages from the Creator to the human creature.

We act eagerly, instantly, on telegrams. Who would dream of stopping to question their genuineness?

While often we act reluctantly, often we act not at all, on the other sort of messages. We dwell anxiously on the thousand contingencies of life, tremblingly on the inevitable contingency of death. We call everything in question, except the bitter certainty of suffering, the most bitter certainty of death.

Who, watching us, could suppose that the senders of telegrams are fallible; and that the Only Sender of Providential messages is infallible?

October 20


AS I am nothing of an ornithologist, any small outdoor bird with forked tail and black and white plumage may pass with me as a swallow or as a martin. When mud nests are not in sight, then it becomes a swallow.

Once at the seaside I recollect noticing for some time a row of swallows perched side by side along a telegraph wire. There they sat steadily. After a while, when some one looked again, they were gone.

This happened so late in the year as to suggest that the birds had mustered for migration and then had started.

The sight was quaint, comfortable looking, pretty. The small creatures seemed so fit and so ready to launch out on their pathless journey: contented to wait, contented to start, at peace and fearless.

Altogether they formed an apt emblem of souls willing to stay, willing to depart.

Only I fear there are not so many "willing" souls as "willing" swallows.

October 19

HOW can one man, how can all men,
   How can we be like St. Paul,
Like St. John, or like St. Peter,
   Like the least of all
   Blessed Saints? for we are small.

Love can make us like St. Peter,
   Love can make us like St. Paul,
Love can make us like the blessed
   Bosom friend of all,
   Great St. John,--though we are small.

Love which clings and trusts and worships,
   Love which rises from a fall,
Love which teaching glad obedience
   Labors most of all,
   Love makes great the great and small.

October 18


IT is not certain that St. Luke died a martyr; but we cannot doubt that he lived a saint.

Setting aside a question easily raised and not easily answered, whether the "Luke" or "Lucas" named three times by St. Paul is or is not this Evangelist, and assuming such identity, we notice how very tenderly he is mentioned as "Luke, the beloved physician:" and again, with a brevity more expressive than a multitude of words, "Only Luke is with me."

But in St, Luke's Gospel, and in his Book of Acts, his own name occurs not so much as once. In the Gospel it seems impossible to trace him, except perhaps by help of tradition: in the Acts we infer his presence on certain occasions only from his use of the word "we" and its derivatives.

Thus St. Luke illustrates for our edification one of King Solomon's noble Proverbs: "Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips."

October 17

FEAST OF ST. ETHELDREDA, VIRGIN QUEEN AND ABBESS. Her death took place in the year 679, on the 23rd of June; the day appointed as her Festival in the Anglican Calendar being the anniversary of the (first) translation of her remains in 695.

THIS Princess, daughter of Anna King of East Anglia, was twice given in marriage. Her first husband, Prince Tombert, appears either to have shared her spirit of self-devotion or to have loved her better than himself, for, in compliance with her will, he forbore to enforce his marital rights during their three years' union. Left a widow she hoped for freedom: yet was constrained by family influence to marry Prince Egfrid, heir of the kingdom of Northumbria. Still, however, she adhered to her former resolution; and, after twelve years of successful contest, ended strife by separating from her enamoured husband; yet not wirhout first obtaining his reluctant consent.

Thus she fought the battle of life: thus she triumphed. Egfrid, indeed, not enduring her absence pursued her ere long to the monastery of Coldingham: whence however she fled and escaped him.

Finally, she built a monastery for men and women in the Island of Ely, which island she inherited from her first husband. She ruled her Community piously, performed many good deeds, and died (we are informed) still young:--

"At the last moment, surrounded by the brothers and sisters of the numerous community in tears, she spoke to them at length, imploring them never to let their hearts rest on the earth, but to taste beforehand, by their earnest desires, that joy in the love of Christ which it would not be given to them to know perfectly here below."

October 16


WHATSO it be, howso it be, Amen.
   Blessed it is, believing, not to see.
Now God knows all that is; and we shall, then,
   Whatso it be.

   God's Will is best for man whose will is free:
God's Will is better to us, yea, than ten
   Desires whereof He holds and weighs the key.

Amid her household cares He guides the wren,
   He guards the shifty mouse from poverty,
He knows all wants, allots each where and when,
   Whatso it be.

October 15


TOGETHER once, but never more
   While Time and Death run out their runs:
Though sundered now as shore from shore,
   Together once.

   Nor rising suns, nor setting suns,
Nor life renewed which Springtide bore,
   Make one again Death's sundered ones.

Eternity holds rest in store,
   Holds hope of long reunions.
But holds it what they hungered for
   Together once?

October 14

A SENSUAL Christian resembles a sea anemone.

In the nobler element, air, it exists as a sluggish, unbeautiful excrescence.

In the lower element, water, it grows, blows and thrives.

The food it assimilates is derived not from the height, but from the depth.

It possesses neither eyes nor ears, but a multiude of feelers.

It squats on a tenacious base, gulps all acquisitions into a capacious chasm, and harmonizes with the weeks it dwells among.

But what will become of it in a world where there shall be no more sea?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

October 13

FEAST OF THE TRANSLATION OF ST. EDWARD THE CONFESSOR, KING OF ENGLAND. Born about the year 1002; anointed and crowned on Easter Day, 1042; died on the Eve of the Epiphany, 1066.

"HE was a mild, pious, but feeble prince: his heart, weaned from the world, sought comfort in religion, and the cares of government were a painful distraction to a mind musing on heavenly things. From his infancy he had been addicted to prayer. . . . He was modest in his comportment and sparing in his words."

Such is the character I read of him.

His reign was chequered by troubles, yet these not of such magnitude as to undermine his throne. His family affections seem to have been thwarted if not naturally tepid. His gratitude to the Normans, who entertained him at a period of his depressed fortune, worked prosperously for them, but at the cost apparently of his own native subjects. He gave away his crown by promise, contrary, as is alleged, to an established law of the realm: and, although his own career closed in peace, days of bloodshed and years of civil heartburning and animosity overtook England after him.

I accept him on trust as Saint and confessor: for, by studying the brief summary I write from, I discern him not as such by aid of my own faculties. Indeed, I do not perceive that "confessorship" was at all in question: for who challenged his faith?

Nevertheless, charity and obedience alike bid me question my own questionings and mistrust my doubts: and so I do.

"We know in part. . . . But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away."

October 12

A GOOD unobstrusive Christian of my own intimate circle told me that in her worried life--and a worried life it has been--she has derived comfort from the reflection that no day lasts longer than twenty-four hours.

To a good worried Christian this certainty affords legitimate comfort. But, as it cannot certify comfort to all classes of worried persons, it seems safe for most of us not to wish time shortened.

If time is short, many tempers are yet shorter.

Even a Psalmist prays: "O spare me a little, that I may recover my strength: before I go hence, and be no more seen."

And most of us have very much besides strength to recover.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

October 11


That which I chose, I choose;
   That which I willed, I will;
That which I once refused, I still refuse:
   O hope deferred, be still.

That which I chose and choose
   And will is Jesu's Will:
He hath not lost his life who seems to lose:
   O hope deferred, hope still.

October 10


ALL heaven is blazing yet
   With the meridian sun:
Make haste, O sun, make haste to set;
   O lifeless life, have done.

I choose what once I chose;
   What once I willed, I will:
Only the heart its own bereavement knows,
   O clamorous heart, lie still.

October 9

FEAST OF ST. DENYS, BISHOP, accounted Patron Saint of France. Assigned to the third century.

SO much has to be set aside as incredible, or at the least as untrustworthy in the history (?) of this personage, that we shall not, I think, memorialize him amiss by reflecting thankfully that one who presumably bore his name was undoubtedly constituted God's instrument in converting to Christianity certain first-fruits of the great and noble French nation.

St. Denys of Paris--for Paris is assigned as the field of his labors, and Montmartre as the scene of his martyrdom--has, erroneously as it appears, been identified with St. Paul's adherent, "Dionysius the Areopagite:" while both together have become confused with the author of certain works belonging to a later century, and popularly and perhaps correctly ascribed to (a third) Dionysius.

Tradition represents St. Denys as beheaded: and then as arising and carrying his head a considerable distance.

Now, without pretending to pronounce on this particular legend, let us lay to heart St. Paul's injunction: "Refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness."

October 8


LET us seek to extract one more lesson from St. Faith.

As I was yesterday, so I remain to-day, in doubt as to the existence of this Saint. Wherefore, so far as my exposition of her claims is concerned, we cannot but admit that our ignorance outstrips our knowledge.

Ignorance, then, rather than knowledge, must (it would seem) feed our souls on certain occasions. What nourishment can we derive from ignorance?

Thus much, at least:--

We find that for practical purposes we do after all know enough of St. Faith: inasmuch as we know enough to enable us to follow the suggestion of our Mother church, by honoring her (contingent) memory.

And if in the same spirit of faith and obedience we betake ourselves devoutly to search the Scriptures, we shall surely find that, despite our manifold ignorances, we yet do know enough of the Divine Revelation to understand and keep God's commandments.

And "blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it."

Saturday, October 5, 2013

October 7


Lying a-dying,--
Have done with vain sighing:
Life not lost but treasured,
God Almighty pleasured,
God's daughter fetched and carried,
Christ's bride betrothed and married.
Our tender little dove,
Meek-eyed and simple,
Our love goes home to Love:
There shall she walk in white,
Where God shall be the Light,
And God the Temple.

October 6



WHILE Dacian governed Spain on behalf of the Emperor of this visible world, and persecuted the Church on behalf of the arch-emperor of the fallen invisible world, Faith, a noble maiden of Aquitain,"fought a good fight, kept the faith," and from a bed of fire went home to that rest, which the wicked cannot trouble.

Yet some have surmised that this "St. Faith" is no real flesh and blood person, but an embodiment of that indomitable Virtue of the same name which in a hst of martyrs has laughed to scorn the impotent power of the enemy.

Whichever she was, let us profit by her.

If she was a weak maid, which of us cannot by Divine Grace become as strong as a weak maid?

If she was a Christian Virtue, which of us is not vowed to have and to hold fast in life and in death that same Christian virtue?

October 5


WHILE all creation sang its hymn anew,
   What could I do but sing a stave in tune?
   Spectral on high hung pale the vanishing moon,
Where a last hint of stars hung paling too.
Lark's lay--a cockcrow--with a scattered few
   Soft early chirpings,--with a tender croon
   Of doves,--a hundred thousand calls, and soon
A hundred thousand answers, sweet and true.
These set me singing too at unawares:
   One note for all delights and charities,
      One note for hope reviving with the light,
Till while I sang my heart cast off its cares,
      And revelled in the land of no more night.

October 4


NO thing is great on this side of the grave,
   Nor any thing of any stable worth:
  Whatso is born from earth returns to earth:
No thing we grasp proves half the thing we crave:
The tidal wave becomes the ebbing wave:
   Laughter is folly, madness lurks in mirth:
   Mankind sets off a-dying from the birth:
Life is a losing game,--with what to save?
Thus I sat mourning like a mournful owl,
   And like a doleful dragon made ado,
      Companion of all monsters of the dark:
When lo! the light shook off its nightly cowl,
      And up to heaven flashed carolling a lark,
   And all creation sang its hymn anew.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October 3

I HAVE noticed in cold weather how many days a rose will linger in the bud, quarter blown, half blown. When at length, if ever, it expands fully, it will probably not be the most beautiful of roses: still, if far below the finest blossoms at their best moment, it has, on the other hand, lasted longer than they.

Superiority in one point may fairly be set against inferiority in another: duration against quality.

And if this is equitable in estimating flowers, it is no less equitable in estimating people.

Many lives pass in chills and in shadows which preclude certain fine finishing touches of loveliness: their resource will be to excel in endurance.

And in the long run surely the livers of such lives will be ready to sing with David: "The lot is fallen unto me in a fair ground:" for "he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."

October 2

DARKNESS and light are both alike to Thee:
   Therefore to Thee I lift my darkened face;
Upward I look with eyes that fail to see,
   Athirst for future light and present grace.
   I trust the Hand of Love I scarcely trace.
With breath that fails I cry, Remember me:
   Add breath to breath, so I may run my race
That where Thou art there may Thy servant be.
For Thou art gulf and fountain of my love,
   I unreturning torrent to Thy sea,
      Yea, Thou the measureless ocean for my rill:
      Seeking I find, and finding, seek Thee still:
And oh! that I had wings as hath a dove,
Then would I flee away to rest with Thee.

October 1

Born about the year 435; died about 532.

SEVEN feet high and of handsome countenance, as transpires in his after-life, St. Remigius, being then a young man, was sitting in the Church of Rheims, where clergy and people were convened to choose a Bishop, when a ray of light penetrating through the clerestory, illumined his face amid the surrounding comparative darkness, and he was elected by acclamation to the vacant See. Whereupon, he being at the time no more than twenty-two years old, the canonical impediment of youth was waived: he received Holy Orders, and assumed his allotted dignity.

To him appertains the glory of having instructed and baptized Clovis, King of the Franks, whom at the Font he exhorted in the novel words: "Adore what thou hast burned: burn what thou hast adored."

Various miraculous incidents are narrated in connection with him. The following forms so striking a parable of the hazard in matters spiritual of ever, under any pretext, reopening a channel once closed against temptation, that either as history or as allegory I transcribe it:--

"A tremendous conflagration broke out at Rheims. St. Remigius came to the rescue when more than half the city was in flames. He went before the raging fire and made the sign of the cross; the flames retreated; he advanced, and continued making the sign, and the fire backed before him step by step, till he drove it through a gate. Then he ordered the gate to be walled up, and forbade any one ever opening it again. Many years after the owner of the adjoining house, wanting an ash-pit, knocked a hole in the wall that he might shoot his rubbish through it. Instantly out burst the demon of the conflagration and killed the man, his wife, children, and servants."

Friday, September 27, 2013

September 30

Born on the borders of Dalmatia and Pannonia at an uncertain date, perhaps in the year 331; died about 420.

THE Church owes and pays a debt of lasting gratitude to St. Jerome: whose studies in the Hebrew Bible, revision of the Vulgate translation, scriptural comments and polemical writings, establish him as on the whole a vigorous and effective champion of truth.

Yet not altogether without flaw. Of strong natural passions, and still stronger will, he strained that strong will to the uttermost to overcome the natural man; and the desert cell he sometime inhabited witnessed his life and death struggle with evil, his occasional ecstasy, his hard-won triumph.

No marvel that a strength which sufficed to trample down self occasionally ran, as it did, into ruggedness, asperity, unseemliness, in the field of controversy.

Yet had this formidable athlete a tender, accessible heart, affectionate towards the saints he trained  among Rome's noblest matrons and maids; warm and wide to receive and entertain in his monasteries, in his very cell, fugitives from the once Imperial City when overthrown by an inundation of barbarians.

So this great man wrestled and labored: on the whole, emitting a trumpet voice of no uncertain sound, and a light to lighten all who would come into that holy house which is the Church of God.

As his life, so his death had both a stormy side and a side of enduring peace.  Factious Christians burnt the two monasteries he had partly founded, and chased him thence: yet were his emaciated remains buried in his monastic grotto, and that monastery was at Bethlehem.

Long ago the verdict, whether of friends or of foes, has ceased to affect him. As he himself foresaw when he wrote to the beloved lady Asella: "I know we may arrive at heaven equally with a bad, as a good name."

September 29


ALL Angels, like All Saints, occupy a Festival Day; unlike men, they give no cause for an introductory Vigil. For sin it is which necessitates vigils, death, all else that is sorrowful.

Their perfection hinders not their sympathy with us: the lack of sympathy is on our side, because so also is the imperfection.

For sin is the only essentially grievous thing in the universe. God, Ever Blessed, had never (that we can conceive) known suffering, if He had not borne "our sins in His own Body on the tree."

Wherefore holy Angels, who neither sin nor bear sins, know not sorrow. Even sympathy, one of our noblest sources of sorrow, is not (so far as we can tell) any source of sadness to them.

They love us, yet cease not to rejoice; care for us, yet observe one unbroken jubilee. How unlike must heaven be to earth, and how unlike the sinless to the sinful.

Yet if they be indeed exempt from sorrow, then Christ is so far like us rather than like them, inasmuch as His experience of sorrow surpasses even our own. He Himself seems to challenge heaven and earth in the words of Jeremiah: "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto My sorrow, which is done unto Me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted Me in the day of His fierce anger."

Good is angelic bliss, for it makes celestial spirits so far like God, All-Good in His perpetual bliss.

Good is human sorrow, for it makes mortal men so far like Christ, Who learnt sorrow for their sakes.

All is good which bears the stamp of a Divine likeness.

Wherefore, while life and joy cease not to be good, grief, vigils, death have become likewise good; because Christ in His own Person has known them all.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September 28

Our life is long--Not so wise Angels say,
Who watch us waste it, trembling while they weigh
Against eternity one squandered day.

Our life is long--Not so the Saints protest,
Filled full of consolation and of rest:
"Short ill, long good, one long unending best."

Our life is long--Christ's word sounds different:
"Night cometh: no more work when day is spent."
Repent and work to-day, work and repent.

Lord, make us like Thy Host, who day nor night
Rest not from adoration, their delight,
Crying "Holy, Holy, Holy," in the height.

Lord, make us like thy  Saints who wait and long
Contented: bound in hope and freed from wrong
They speed (may be) their vigil with a song.

Lord, make us like Thyself, for thirty-three
Slow years of toil seemed not too long to Thee
That where Thou art there Thy Beloved might be.

September 27

"DUST shalt thou eat all the days of thy life;" thus saith the Truth at the beginning: and thus again towards the end; "Dust shall be the serpent's meat."

Dust the symbol of death: the residuum of death: as it were, the essence of death.

The serpent brought death into the human family, turning life into death: and dust of death is his dole.

Nought besides dust, nought besides death, as it seems: "His delight was in cursing, and it shall happen unto him."

Nothing, then, that retains true vitality shall be his final prey: nothing but what is dead, utterly, irreversibly lifeless.

O God, Who wouldest not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live, convert us,, give us life, revive our life, keep us alive, for Christ's sake, Who broke not the bruised reed nor quenched the smoking flax.


September 26

FEAST OF ST. CYPRIAN, ARCHBISHOP OF CARTHAGE. The date of his birth is unknown; he died a Martyr, being beheaded about the year 258.

ST. CYPRIAN began life as a lawyer, nor was he baptized till of ripe age. He was chosen Bishop of Carthage by the general voice in the year 248; and though he shrank out of sight to evade the dignity, was finally constrained to obey that call of God conveyed by the mouth of the people.

Even before his consecration he had embarked on the sea of controversy; and amid those stormy waters he toiled year after year, opposing diverse errors, pronouncing judgment on points of faith or of discipline.

From the persecution under Decius he sought shelter by flight, deeming it his duty so to do, yet from afar shepherding his forlorn flock. A second persecution found him immovable in his See, exhorting, sustaining, comforting the souls committed to his charge.

It was not till for the third time he was summoned to face persecution that he joined the noble army of martyrs; nor even then, before he had endured an eleven months' exile from Carthage. Galerius Maximus, Proconsul under the Emperors Valerian and Gallienus, recalled him from banishment, and on his steadfastness in the faith, pronounced his death doom. "Thanks be to God," then said holy  Cyprian.

He was led to a field, where he prayed and made ready. The bandage he bound over his own eyes, and two of his friends bound his hands. Whereupon the stroke of the headsman set him free, and sent him home at once and for ever.

He has bequeathed many holy writings to the Church Universal: let us treasure two sentences:

"He flies not alone who hath Christ the companion of his flight. He is not alone who beareth about with him everywhere the temple of God, and hath God ever with him."

September 25

Sorrow hath a double voice,
   Sharp to-day but sweet to-morrow:
Wait in patience, hope, rejoice,
   Tried friends of sorrow.

Pleasure hath a double taste,
   Sweet to-day but sharp to-morrow:
Friends of pleasure, rise in haste,
   Make friends with sorrow.

Pleasure set aside to-day
   Comes again to rule to-morrow:
Welcomed sorrow will not stay,
   Farewell to sorrow!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

September 24

CHRIST, "for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the Throne of God."

For our sakes the cruciform blossom of His mortal life was agony and shame: for our sakes the salutary fruit of His life immortal is glory and grace.

And now He looks down from heaven, from the habitation of His holiness and of His glory, if so be He may in us see of the travail of His Soul and be satisfied.

Once He looked, and there was no man. Once He looked, and one penitent went out and wept bitterly.

Now He looks on you, on me.

September 23


I HAVE read that such plants as produce a cruciform flower are all alike free from poison.

Life has its blossoming season preparatory to its season of fruit.

And many lives by bereavement, disappointment, pain, hope deferred, blossom, so to say, with crosses.

A choice and blessed blossom, if it correspond with nature's emblem and harbor no venom. For one day the cross petals will drop off, and only the good fruit remain.

September 22

LORD, what have I that I may offer thee?
Look, Lord, I pray Thee, and see.

What is it thou hast got?
Nay, child, what is it thou hast not?

Thou hast all gifts that I have given to thee:
Offer them all to Me,
The great ones and the small,
I will accept them one and all.

I have a will, good Lord, but it is marred;
A heart both crushed and hard:
Not such as these the gift
Clean-handed, lovely saints uplift.

Nay, child, but wilt thou judge for Me?
I crave not thine, but thee.

Ah, Lord, Who lovest me!
Such as I have now give I Thee!

September 21


In St. Luke's Gospel we read how our Lord "went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and He said unto him, Follow Me. And he left all, rose up, and followed Him."

Spirit outspeeds matter; will, action; love, everything.

St. Matthew, intent on following, first arose: in like manner his heart's desire and choice outstripped physical possibility, so that he had already "left all" when he "rose up."

Having arisen, he forthwith followed; being called, he forthwith arose; yet arising forthwith, had in will already relinquished all. Few are they on whom his mantle has descended.

Reluctantly we hear a conscience-call: we mean to rise, but later on; to start, but at a future moment. Perhaps, when grudgingly and of necessity we have at last accomplished both acts, our heart may slowly and drearily (for habit is second nature) get weaned from its first love--say, a money bag--and mount resignedly to higher interests.

But if this result impend only "after a long time," God in mercy grant that the Lord (though also "after a long time") arrive not first to reckon with His sordid servants.

"From sudden death, Good Lord, deliver us."

September 20


If giants, dwarfs, and persons of standard height make up mankind, surely to the mental eye human vocations exhibit as wide a scale of extremes. And this, whether we measure vocations by dignity and lowliness, or by arduousness and ease.

To one man is allotted a domestic life of satisfied affection and multiplied blessings, unaccompanied by crushing trials or difficulties. "God answereth him in the joy of his heart:" moderation and thankfulness rank among his chief duties, and "a joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful."

Another man is called to hardship, disappointment, a life and death struggle with the world, the flesh and the devil.

Or if we glance back to the primitive Church for our specimens. Then all Christians had distinctly and decisively to choose their side in the battle of life, Confessors were common, Martyrs not rare.

Yet among this elect congregation a few were set foremost as Apostles; and out of these, two were inspired to become Evangelists.

Of these two, St. Matthew is one.

It is vain to meditate ambitiously on his glory: it is unworthy to meditate thereon in a craven spirit of sloth.

Yet inasmuch as his Vigil and Festival bid us have him in remembrance, let us at least in one point emulate his luminous example, for in one point we can.

Christ called him: he forthwith obeyed the call, followed Him, clave to Him, lived for Him, died for Him.

And every one of us by asking aright can obtain grace to do the same.

September 19


WE read in the Apocalypse:--

"And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by Him that liveth for ever and ever, Who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer."

Thus St. John describes what he saw and heard.

Whence it seems that time is not lightly thought of by a holy angel whose eternity nevertheless depends not on time. With a great oath and an awful solemnity he announces the ending of that time which is man's period of probation.

And man thinks lightly of time!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

September 18


HEAVEN and earth alike are chronometers.

Heaven marks time in light, by the motion of luminaries.

Earth marks time in darkness, by the variation of shadows.

To these chronometers of nature art adds clocks with faces easily decipherable and voices insistently audible.

Nature and art combine to keep time for us: and yet we wander out of time!

We misappropriate time, we lose time, we waste time, we kill time.

We do anything and everything with time, except redeem the time.

Yet time is short and swift and never returns. Time flies.

September 17

FEAST OF ST. LAMBERT, BISHOP OF MAESTRICHT. Born about the year 637; was murdered early in the eighth century.

HE is described as "a wise youth, of amiable aspect, affable speech, and right conversation; of stately form, strong and swift, agile and stout in war, clear headed, handsome, loving, pure and humble, and fond of reading." Thus he had in him the making either of a soldier or an ecclesiastic. He chose the higher vocation, obeyed sedulously while under rule, and when himself in authority labored as sedulously.

He has been styled a martyr; yet I question whether accurately, at least in the fullest sense of the word. Two men, trespassing on the temporalities of Maestricht, were slain by members of the Bishop's family: this occasioned a blood feud in which St. Lambert, among others, lost his life. He died with exemplary resignation and piety.

Being told of the approaching foe,"Lambert rose, and grasping his sword, his martial fire suddenly blazing up in him, he stood forth without even slipping on his shoes. But almost immediately he remembered himself, laid aside his sword, and prepared for the worst." To one of his nephews he said: "Remember you are guilty of the murder . . . and God will judge sinners. What you did unjustly, now in justice you must expiate . . . . " He retired into his chamber, and having put all forth, he cast himself on the ground, with his arms extended, and wept abundantly. Directly after armed men burst in, killing every one in the house. Lambert's door was fastened from within, wherefore one man mounted the roof and ran him through with a spear, which he flung at him from above.

"But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them. . . . For though they be punished in the sight of men, yet is their hope full of immortality."

September 16

Once as we descended a mountain side by side with the mountain torrent, my companion saw, while I missed seeing, a foambow.

In all my life I do not recollect to have seen one, except perhaps in artificial fountains; but such general omission seems a matter of course, and therefore simply a matter of indifference. That single natural foambow which I might have beheld and espied not, is the one to which  may attach a tinge of regret; because, in a certain sense, it depended upon myself to look at it, yet I did not look.

I might have done so, and I did not: such is the sting to-day in petty matters.

And what else will be the sting in matters all important at the last day?

September 15

IN weariness and painfulness St. Paul
   Served God and pleased Him: after-saints no less
Can wait on and can please Him, one and all
   In weariness and painfulness,

   By faith and hope triumphant through distress:
Not with the rankling service of a thrall;
   But even as loving children trust and bless,

Weep and rejoice, answering their Father's call,
   Work with tired hands, and forward, upward press
On sore tired feet, still rising when they fall,
   In weariness and painfulness.

September 14


I FIND the name of this Festival given in full as the Exaltation of The Holy Cross, and to it is dedicated one of the passion flowers.

The Cross was in truth exalted fully and finally when our Lord Jesus Christ hung thereupon on Mount Calvary. But this Feast Day has a later origin, some persons tracing it to a commemoration of that celestial cross which (as is related) led the Emperor Constantine to victory; others, to a recovery of the captive material cross from Chosroes the Persian by the Emperor Haraclius.

Not one exceptional day, however, but every day, from Baptism onwards is the good Christian's "Holy Cross Day." Even as our Lord proclaims to us all: "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."

In the Eastern Church there exists an austere Religious Rule, according to which, "When the last offices are closed, a representation of Christ on His Cross is attached to the foot of the bed, so that the eyes of the dying person may rest upon it, and then all go out, and leave the soul to make its departure in complete solitude, in the presence of none save the symbol of the Redeemer."

"Hold Thou Thy Cross before my dying eyes."

September 13

EXHAUST this world and its resources: this done, if spiritual life survives the soul will learn patience.

Sit aloof and look down on the world; viewed from aloof and aloft the world's hollowness becomes apparent: this realized, the living soul strikes root in patience.

The Book of Ecclesiastes discloses to us the mind of one who learned patience by the first method.

The Epistle of St. James manifests the spirit of one who learned it by the second method.

In a certain sense, the result is the same from either process: patience cannot but be patience. Nevertheless, the patience of a worn-out penitent is far different from that of a lifelong saint.

"Vanity of vanities; all is vanity," reiterates the Preacher.

"Behold, we count them happy which endure," writes the Apostle.

For most of us it is too late to aim at that patience which crowns lifelong holiness. For none of us (thank God!) is it too late to acquire that patience which dignifies penitence. Whatsoever we be, the precept is for us: "Let patience have her perfect work." Amen.

September 12

TREASURE plies a feather,
   Pleasure spreadeth wings,
Taking flight together,--
   Ah! my cherished things.

Fly away, poor pleasure
   That art so brief a thing:
Fly away, poor treasure
   That hast so swift a wing.

Pleasure, to be pleasure,
   Must come without a wing:
Treasure, to be treasure,
   Must be a stable thing.

Treasure without feather,
   Pleasure without wings,
Elsewhere dwell together
   And are heavenly things.

September 11


MEANWHILE there appears a heroic and exemplary side, as well as a warning side to our elephant.

He stands as a figure of one who prefers his work to himself, his duty to his life.

A somewhat comical figure of a hero, yet none the less pathetic.

Not to be laughed at, but looked up to by such persons as have ever postponed work to self, duty to life.

I, for one, must not laugh at him.

September 10


I HAVE read of an elephant who was set to move an enormous weight, which it behooved him to do by sheer force of his mighty head.

But not even his mighty head could stir it.

This his overseer perceived, whereupon other elephants were summoned to assist.

Then the first elephant seeing them approach, and being bent on carrying his point by himself, put forth so desperate an exertion of strength as fractured his skull.

As an elephant I greatly admire him.

Yet a man moulded on his model would, I fear, turn out a failure. He would be too independent to accept help, or to be set right, and he would sacrifice his cause rather than his pride.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

September 9

"An alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious." --(ST. MARK xiv. 3.)

I HAVE read that both the precious spikenard and an inferior quality of perfume are yielded by the same plant.

The commoner sort is extracted by art. The choicer kind consists of such balsam as exudes from the untouched plant.

One resembles a tax, the other a gift.

Thus, by a figure, even a vegetable demonstrates how much nobler is voluntary than compelled service. For love alone genuinely gives: love turns a levied tax into a free gift, whereas a servile gift dwindles in essence to a mere tax.

Nor least so, in things spiritual.  Love transmutes bounden duty into free-will oblation: constraint other than love transmutes even unprescribed offerings into taxes.

September 8


"WITHOUT controversy, great is the mystery of godliness. God was manifest in the flesh."

Since it pleased God to regard "the lowliness of His handmaiden," well may we regard her with loving reverence.

Whereto shall we liken this Blessed Mary Virgin, Fruitful shoot from Jesse's root graciously emerging?

Lily we might call her, but Christ alone is white; Rose delicious, but that Jesus is the one delight; Flower of women, but her Firstborn is mankind's one flower;

He the Sun lights up all moons through their radiant hour.

"Blessed among women, highly favored," thus Glorious Gabriel hailed her, teaching words to us:

Whom devoutly copying we too cry "All hail!"

Echoing on the music of glorious Gabriel.

Monday, September 2, 2013

September 7


ST. ENURCHUS, a Subdeacon in Roman Orders, went into Gaul as a missionary and was consecrated Bishop of Orleans, or (as I read elsewhere) of Arles: perhaps he was translated from one See to the other. He labored among his pagan flock for more than twenty years, converting "nearly the whole city" to the Christian Faith: and having borne the burden and heat of his day, entered into his rest.

"Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them."

September 6

IF I should say "my heart is in my home,"
I turn away from that high halidom
   Where Jesu sits: for nowhere else
   But with its treasure, dwells
   The heart: this Truth and this experience tells.

If I should say "my heart is in a grave,"
I turn away from Jesu risen to save,
   I slight that death He died for me;
   I, too, deny to see
   His beauty and desirability.

O Lord, Whose Heart is deeper than my heart,
Draw mine to Thine to worship where Thou art:
   for Thine own glory join the twain
   never to part again,
   Nor to have lived nor to have died in vain.

September 5


NOT that human affection, excellent as it is, suffices: only it illustrates and certifies to us beyond a doubt the corresponding Divine Affection.

This it does, even if we receive not its testimony. It is like the celestial luminaries which discourse without speech: its sound is gone out into all lands, and its words unto the ends of the world, declaring the Glory of God.

Neverthless, as sun, moon and stars have had their worshippers, so human love has engrossed its idolatrous votaries.

It, indeed, is ready to "bless with the spirit," but those others are not edified.

Christ keep us or deliver us from worshipping and serving the creature more than the Creator, Who is Blessed for ever. Amen.

September 4


INDEED, I think we may proceed a step further, and reflect that any who like us like us as we are and not as we are not.

The person with the blemishes which are ours, and the weak points which are ours, is the person that those who love us love.

And conversely we may surely admit that (sin excluded) we also love our own beloved without on the whole wanting them to be different.

They are themselves, and this suffices.

We are quite ready to like something superior, but it contents our hearts to love them.

And when once death has stepped in, dividing as it were soul from spirit, the friend that is as one's own soul from one's self, then half those vanished peculiarities put on pathos. We remain actually fond of the blameless oddities, the plain face abides as the one face we prefer.

Now if persons as imperfect as ourselves can secure a permanent place in the affection of their fellows (of which everywhere and always we behold proofs), our "vale of misery" turns to a perennial well of very sweet and refreshing water, and it becomes us to be thankful.

September 3


I SAID "I do not know" how birds dwelling near wasps' nests escape stinging. Second thoughts show me that I do know.

God's Providence keeps them safe.

In the same sense as young ravens cry to God, we may think of all other feeble instinctive creatures as trusting in Him:--"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee."

Even so the rose dwells amidst a guard of thorns, and stands alone in her loveliness.

Surely the rose, our own cherished rose, would lose a fine finishing touch of grace and beauty if divorced from her thorns.

And cannot we, who are so much better than bird or flower, take courage to trust our Heavenly Father implicitly? saying and feeling that if only we are such as love Him, our "wasps" and "thorns" alike are ordained for good; inasmuch as "all things work together for good to them that love God."

September 2


I AM told of certain birds which for protection take up their abode beneath wasps' nests. How it happens that they (as I assume) escape being stung, I do not know; but one sees at once that outside enemies might thus be kept at bay.

A wasps' nest for a canopy; wasps for neighbors: clearly in itself no attractive neighborhood. Yet better than the alternative, death, or deadly bereavement. So those birds are wise which, preferring of two evils the less, contrive of stings a shelter.

Similarly those persons are wise who among evils choose the less rather than the greater.

Why not accept all our trials as beneficial wasps and wasps' nests?

What is most irritating teaches patience, if we will be taught: what is most overbearing teaches humilty, if we will learn.

Patience and humility predispose to faith, hope, charity: and where these are, there is safety.

September 1

According to various discrepant dates, he appears to have been born in the seventh, and to have died in the eighth century.

TWO pretty legends are told regarding him.

In his youth, going to Church, he bestowed his coat on a diseased mendicant. The poor man was cured, and our Saint is accounted Patron of Beggars.

Later in life he dwelt as a hermit in a forest cave beside the Rhone, nourished there by milk from a doe. This friendly creature, flying one day for her life, took refuge in his cave, where the hunters overtaking her, found that an arrow shot after the doe had wounded not herself but her associate the venerable hermit. Whereupon the king (for it was a royal hunt) cared for the saint's wound, cultivated his friendship, and caused a monastery to be reared on the site of the woodland cell: of which monastery, famous in aftertimes, St. Giles was chosen Abbot.

Finally:-- "Many witness that they heard the company of angels bearing the soul of him into heaven." [I quote at second hand from "The Golden Legend."]

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 31

IT was once pointed out to me that in countenance a gray parrot and an elephant resemble each other.

But presumably the creatures themselves remain to this day unconscious ot their common type, and inhabit pastures or trees or caravans or cages without a notion that each is (with limitations) the other's looking-glass; thus living and thus dying as utter aliens even when brought face to face.

"Know thyself" is an old-established injunction, and conveys a hint that probably we do not know ourselves.

It is startling to reflect that you and I may be walking about unabashed and jaunty, while our fellows observe very queer likenesses among us.

Any one may be the observer: and equally any one may be the observed.

Liable to such casualties, I advise myself to assume a modest and unobtrusive demeanor.

I do not venture to advise you.

August 30

TACT resembles a lubricating oil, by virtue of which needful contact is guarded against degenerating into sore rubs and grazes.

According to the ancient Oriental practice of leechcraft, oil was called in to heal physical wounds.

Hear a story in point:--

The pleasure-grounds of a certain Bishop contained an apparatus for turning on and off artificial waters. One day in honor of guests, the Bishop issued orders to his servants to work the fountains: but finding that this had caused offence, on the next similar occasion he gave leave to his servants to play the fountains. Whereupon all went smoothly.

August 29


KING HEROD and his company did after a fashion anticipate the Church in making of this day a festival. Moreover it was Herod's birthday in one sense, before it became St. John Baptist's in another.

Thus emphatically are there feasts and feasts, birthdays and birthdays.

After that carnal birthday ensued the remainder of mortal life: and after the remainder of mortal life ensued what next to Herod and his crew, to the dancing daughter and the venomous mother?

"The secret things belong unto the Lord our God."

Meanwhile St. John Baptist ended his Vigil and began his Feast, ended his death and began his life.

Now there is no "after" to such a Feast, and no "next" to such a life.

"See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil."

August 28

FEAST of ST. AUGUSTINE, BISHOP OF HIPPO, Doctor of the Church. Born at Tagaste, in Africa, in the year 354; died at Hippo, 430.

AURELIUS AUGUSTINE was son of Patricius, a pagan of some virtue and afterwards converted, and of Monica, a Christian saint. In early life an unbaptized Manichean heretic of strong passions and unbridled conduct, Augustine left his mother to watch, pray, agonize for him, while he rejoiced in his youth, walking in the ways of his heart and in the sight of his eyes, and not laying to heart that God for all these things would bring him into judgment.

Divine grace, however, responding doubtless to his mother's prayers for his soul, proved at length stronger than his evil will and ways: he cast off his vices as the serpent casts its skin, professed the Catholic Faith, and was baptized on Easter Eve in the year 387 by St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan.

Thenceforward, allowing for human frailty, he retained of the serpent only its wisdom, and put on harmlessness as a dove: yet not, alas! without putting it off under provocation.

In 391 he was ordained priest; and he submitted to episcopal consecration at an uncertain date, perhaps in the year 395.

In controversy he opposed both Manicheans, Donatists, and Pelagians; yet incurred suspicion of himself holding unsound views as to the doctrine of predestination: nevertheless he is looked up to as a Doctor of the Church. Despite the Spirit of Love which ordinarily ruled him, he seems to have indulged a cruelly harsh temper against the Donatists.

Yet need we not cavil at the blemishes of a saint who of his own free choice died the death of a penitent:--

"He ceased not to preach and work, till in August he was prostrated by fever; and as he used to say that even approved Christians and priests ought to die as penitents, he excluded his friends from his room, except at certain hours, caused the penitential psalms to be written out and fixed on the wall opposite his bed, and repeated them with many tears; thus by his last acts throwing over the consequences, and with them the principles, advanced in his later dangerous treatises."

August 27

One step more, and the race is ended,
   One word more, and the lesson's done,
One toil more, and a long rest follows
   At set of sun.

Who would fail, for one step withholden?
   Who would fail, for one word unsaid?
Who would fail, for a pause too early?
   Sound sleep the dead.

One step more, and the goal receives us,
   One word more, and life's task is done,
One toil more, and the Cross is carried
   And sets the sun.

August 26


A NEST implies, suggests, so much.

A circumference in comfortable proportion to its inhabitants' size.

Warmth and softness: "For so He giveth His beloved sleep."

Pure air, bright sunshine; leafy shade sufficient to satisfy a very Jonah.

A windy branch whereon to rock safely. Wind and rain heard yet little felt. A storm, indeed, sometimes, but as the exception not as the rule.

Most of all by way of comfort a nest suggests an overhanging presence of love. A brooding breast sheltering its cherished nestlings. A love ready to confront death in their defence.

"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

When "room" and way are too great for us, let us think of Him Who prepared our present "nest" and carries His little ones, and Who desires to see in each of us of the travail of His Soul and to be satisfied. And Who eighteen hundred years ago comforted His disciples, saying, "In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."

Thursday, August 8, 2013

August 25


"Rooms shalt thou make in the ark."--(GEN. vi. 14): but the literal Hebrew (see margin of Authorized Version) says not "rooms" but "nests."

NOW without for one moment calling in question that these particular "nests" were rooms, the special word employed does yet suggest a special train of thought.

The Ark: the Church. Destruction without, safety within. "A dispensation of the Gospel" is vouchsafed to man, and woe is us if we accept not the offered salvation.

We do (please God) accept it. However unworthily, we occupy rooms in the spiritual Ark: there we live, and there we hope to die.

The rooms being commodiously and thoroughly furnished unto good works, the tenants are thereby invited to perform such good works as belong to their several vocations.

So to do becomes our duty. And it is constituted no less our privilege, seeing that to crown all it has promise of a reward.

Christian duties, Christian privileges: some honest Christians do much, and upbraid themselves for not doing more. They labor and are heavy laden, they are careful and cumbered; making a task of duty, a task of privilege, a task of life, and a most formidable task of death.

The vastness and still more the loftiness of their "room" overwhelms them: "Who is sufficient for these things?" is their prevalent forlorn feeling. At times they would almost be ready (if they dared) to say: "It were better to dwell in the corner of the housetop."

They comport themselves as if too little for their own greatness. They appear like savage man consumed and dwindling away in the face of a civilization too high for him.

But wherefore contemplate their allotted room as a lofty and vast palace of wellnigh uninhabitable grandeur: as this, and as nothing more?

Our room, as God builds and makes it for us, is likewise our nest: and a nest is surely the very homeliest idea of a home.

August 24

Tradition assigns to this Saint, martyrdom in one of its most appalling forms.

HE bore an agony whereof the name
   Hath turned his fellows pale:--
But what if God should call us to the same,
   Should call, and we should fail?

Nor earth nor sea could swallow up our shame,
   Nor darkness draw a veil:
For he endured that agony whose name
   Hath made his fellows quail.


The manner of his death, said to have occurred at Albanopolis in Armenia, is equally uncertain; according to some, he was beheaded, according to others, flayed alive and crucified, head downward, by order of Astyages, for having converted his brother, Polymius, King of Armenia. On account of this latter legend, he is often represented in art (e.g. in Michelangelo's Last Judgment) as flayed and holding in his hand his own skin. His relics are thought by some to be preserved in the church of St. Bartholomew-in-the-Island, at Rome.    

Michelangelo's The Last Judgment created between 1536 and 1541. Saint Bartholomew is shown holding the knife of his martyrdom and his flayed skin. The face of the skin is recognizable as Michelangelo.