Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 30

SAINTS are like roses when they flush rarest,
Saints are like lilies when they bloom fairest,
Saints are like violets sweetest of their kind,
      Bear in mind
   This to-day. Then to-morrow: --
All like roses rarer than the rarest,
All like lilies fairer than the fairest,
All like violets sweeter than we know.
       Be it so.
   To-morrow blots out sorrow.

June 29


"LOVEST thou Me more than these? . . . Lovest thou Me? . . . Lovest thou Me? . . . " spake to His Apostle the Lord God, the Wise Master, the injured Friend. "Peter was grieved . . . And he said unto Him, Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee."

But if St. Peter knew it, much more Christ. Even throughout the threefold denial, while, it may be, for the moment the fallen saint himself knew it not; yet He who was greater than his heart and knew all things, still knew it.

Then Christ "looked" in love, and Peter went out and wept bitterly. Now Christ questioned in love, and Peter was grieved.

These grievous dealings were the faithful wounds of a friend who loveth at all times: for if the servant loved his Lord, much more that Lord His servant.

Whatever may appear disputable about St. Peter, his love is indisputable. If other branches of study suitable to his Festival are too difficult for us, let us contentedly study love.

But which love, the lesser or the greater? St. Peter himself could by no means love God, except as having been first loved by God.

We shall love St. Peter and all other saints well, when we love our Lord Jesus better still. "Love all for Jesus, but Jesus for Himself," writes a master in the science of love.

And whatever may be doubtful, this remains certain: every man who loves God a little, is loved by Him much: every man who loves God much, is still loved by Him more.

June 28


Had not ambition and pride, jealousy and envy, said their say to the embroilment of the subject and the abashing of the meek, would any impartial ordinary reader call in question that some sort of advantage, precedence, preeminence, did according to the inspired Gospel record really and truly appertain to St. Peter?

To deny so much, unless it be false, lands us in Babel, the city of confusion. To ackowledge so much, if it be true, will not by itself "violently turn and toss" us out of our venerable Anglican Mother Church.

This Vigil of St. Peter invites us all to one of two profitable exercises: --whoso holds the truth, let him cleave thereto thankfully: whoso detects or suspects himself as being in error, let him "pray that he may interpret" at least to himself.

Only the envious can be injured by St. Peter's primacy, whatsoever it amounts to.

Only the ambitious can profit by his exaltation above his genuine level.

Now there is nothing injurious in such an injury, nor aught profitable in such a profit.

June 27

A BISHOP'S Pastoral Staff has two quaint likenesses among natural objects: a curled-up elephant's trunk, and a young budding frond of fern.

There is a theory that the soul within moulds the outer frame. Hence surface similarity suggests a corresponding similarity underlying the surface.

Whence--at least as a harmless fancy--I infer that the Staff may advantageously study an elephant's trunk as a pattern of delicately discriminating tact, copying its nicety of touch in minute matters and its vigorous hold on things broad and weighty.

Whlie the frond will teach ways of bowing gracefully, of being pliant without weakness, of profiting by light and not losing ground in darkness, of bearing storms from any quarter.

. . . But Bishops should write for me, not I for Bishops!

For my own behoof therefore I wind up by reflecting that every Christian is constituted "king and priest" in our Father's kingdom: that in consequence some grade of pastoral work devolves on each of us, if not as a dignity yet as a responsibility; and that as regards every soul within reach of our influence we all are in truth our "brother's keeper."

So that we all may meditate profitably on a Pastoral Staff.

June 26

IF ever I deciphered a "Parable of Nature" surely I did so one summer night at Meads. The gas was alight in my little room with its paperless bare wall.

On that wall appeared a spider, himself dark and defined, his shadow no less dark and scarcely if at all less defined.

They jerked, zigzagged, advanced, retreated, he and his shadow posturing in ungainly indissoluble harmony. He seemed exasperated, fascinated, desperately endeavoring and utterly helpless.

What could it all mean? One meaning and one only suggested itself. That spider was without recognizing his black double, and was mad to disengage himself from the horrible pursuing inalienable presence.

I stood watching him awhile. (Presumably when I turned off the gas he composed himself.)

To me this self-haunted spider appears a figure of each obstinate impenitent sinner, who having outlived enjoyment remains isolated irretrievable with his own horrible, loathsome self.

And if thus in time, how throughout eternity?

June 25

LORD, grant me grace to love Thee in my pain,
   Through all my disappointment love Thee still,
   Thy love my strong foundation and my hill,
Though I be such as cometh not again,
A fading leaf, a spark upon the wane.
   So evermore do Thou Thy perfect Will
   Beloved through all my good, through all mine ill,
Beloved though all my love beside be vain.
If thus I love Thee, how wilt Thou love me,
   Thou Who art greater than my heart? (Amen!)
   Wilt Thou bestow a part, withhold a part?
The longing of my heart cries out to Thee,
   The hungering, thirsting, longing of my heart:
What I forewent wilt Thou not grant me then?

June 24


"HE was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoce in his light," spake our Blessed Lord, honoring His forerunner.

To whom spake He thus? To Jews, mostly unconverted.

Were then those carnal men capable of rejoicing in a luminary which lit up the valley of humiliation, the penitential pathway unto righteousness? Yea, for the Truth hath said it.

And even thus we read elsewhere of King Herod, how he "feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly."

Nevertheless, neither the monarch nor his subjects did the one thing needful: they picked and chose among their sins; of which some may have fared like discarded favorites, while the favorites of the hour were retained.

Half-hearted and double-faced such men resemble husbandmen who prune salient twigs from a poisonous plant, by that very pruning strengthening the deep-seated unattacked root.

So, after a while, Herod slew the Baptist. And again, after a while, Herod mocked the Lord Christ and the Jew crucified Him.

It is then possible (though possible only up to a certain point) for sinners to admire virtue, practise righteousness, approve things more excellent, extol repentance, skim amendment, yet all the time to abide at enmity with God.

It was possible for many of old: it is possile for ourselves of to-day.

"Try me, O God, and seek the ground of my heart: prove me, and examine my thoughts. Look well if there be any way of wickedness in me: and lead me in the way everlasting.

June 23


ST. JOHN BAPTIST himself, in reference to our Lord, stands as the Vigil to the Feast. He simply leads to Christ. Except the Lord had followed, he had not come.

His aspect is austere, Christ's winning.

He is the salient figure of repentance: Christ the pure embodiment of Love.

Repentance is valueless, except it ends in love.

What indeed is there of any value, except it foster love?

And what Saint will profit us one whit, except he helps us nearer to Christ Who is Incarnate Love?

"God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him."

"John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as He walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!"

Saturday, June 15, 2013

June 22

DARKNESS instinctively repels, light attracts us.

Yet only according to the good pleasure of God's Will, can either of them help or hinder us: true, both literally and figuratively.

Let us seek for a "treasure of darkness."

We who are born to trouble as the sparks fly upward, cannot, except by a process which consumes us, fly up at all.

To fly up on any terms, on any wings, must be beneficial.

Now we all have seen a literal fire pale and dwindle under strong sunshine, but when screened off into comparative darkness, regain color and recover strength.

Thus sunshine of earthly happiness may easily prove too exhausting for some souls. And then it will be the good hand of our God upon thenn which sends darkness of sorrow, even if need be darkness of death.

Nor (except as His Will may ordain for better, for worse) can there as regards ourselves be any inequality between light and darkness: so long, that is, as instead of murmuring "Peradventure the darkness shall cover me," we conform our own mind to the Divine Mind, and abide ready to sing with adoring David: "Yea, the darkness is no darkness with Thee, but the night is as clear as the day: the darkness and light to Thee are both alike."

June 21

O YE, who are not dead and fit
Like blasted tree beside the pit
But for the axe that levels it, --

Living show life of love, whereof
The force wields earth and heaven above:
Who knows not love begetteth love?

Love poises earth in space, Love rolls
Wide worlds rejoicing on their poles,
And girds them round with aureoles.

Love lights the sun, Love through the dark
Lights the moon's evanescent arc,
Lights up the star, lights up the spark.

O ye who taste that love is sweet,
Set waymarks for all doubtful feet
That stumble on in search of it.

Sing notes of love; that some who hear
Far off inert may lend an ear,
Rise up and wonder and draw near.

Lead life of love; that others who
Behold your life, may kindle too
With love and cast their lot with you.

June 20

[See also March 18.]

THIS transaction took place in the year 980 (982?), when, from an unhallowed grave in Wareham, the young king's body was by Queen Elfrida's order removed to Shaftesbury, and there with due pomp and solemnity laid at rest in a Convent of Benedictine Nuns.

One wicked ambitious woman took away his life, a congregation of devout women honored his remains. Thus recalling a prophecy of our Lord's own most sacred death and entombment: "He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death."

Blessed is that life which imitates Christ's Life, blessed that death which is conformed to His Death. How blessed will be that resurrecction which shall show forth the likeness of His Resurrection!

"He that endureth to the end shall be saved."

June 19

THE science of one age proves oftentimes to be the ignorance of a more advanced age. To balance which circumstance, a random guess or flash of insight overlooked or set aside at one moment, does sometimes reappear as the discovery of a later moment.

I know of a little girl who not far from half a centry ago, having heard that oil calmed trouble waters, suggest to her Mother its adoption for such a purpose in case of sea storm.

Her suggestion fell flat, as from her it deserved to fall. Yet nowadays, here is science working out the babyish hint of ignorance!

"Precept upon precept; . . . line upon line; here a little, and there a little:" a hundred times over, and in a hundred ways, we are taught how things hidden from the wise and prudent are once and again revealed unto babes.

June 18

FRIENDS, I commend to you the narrow way:
   Not because I, please God, will walk therein,
   But rather for the Love Feast of that day,
The exceeding prize which whoso will may win.
   Earth is half spent and rotting at the core,
   Here hollow death's-heads mock us with a grin,
Here heartiest laughter leaves us tired and sore.
   Men heap up pleasures and enlarge desire,
   Outlive desire, and famished evermore
Consume themselves within the undying fire.
   Yet not for this God made us; not for this
   Christ sought us far and near to draw us nigher,
Sought us and found and paid our penalties.  
   If one could answer "nay" to God's command,
   Who shall say "nay" when Christ pleads all He is
For us, and holds us with a wounded Hand?

June 17

FEAST OF ST. ALBAN, styled the Protomartyr of Britain. Beheaded about the year 304.

This gracious personage was born at ancient Verulam, hard by the ruins of which important place our city of St. Alban's now stands.

On him lighted down the blessing of one who receives a prophet. He was still living in paganism when he gave shelter to a Christian priest fleeing from persecution: and in guerdon of this good deed Christ was preached to him. Thus each saved the other's life: one the life temporal, the other the life eternal.

The emissaries of death arrived at St. Alban's door on the track of their prey; but he who had been a soldier of Rome, was not one to flinch as a soldier of Christ. He exchanged cloaks with his guest, sped him on his journey, and in his stead confronted the hostile party. Taken before the governor, his faith armed him against all terrors: scourged, he rejoiced; led to death, he was satisfied.

The first man appointed to slay him, responding to the sudden call of Divine Grace, avowed himself a Christian: whereupon the twain were decapitated together.

"The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance."

June 16

I have read how on one certain occasion, out of a whole shipful, two men were pious, God-fearing Christians. Only, being of two different nations and languages, it seemed very doubtful whether they ever would make each other out as citizens of the same city.

One day one of them sat reading his Bible, as solitary as Elijah, when he asserted "I only:" till the other's eye lighted on the unmistakable-looking page; when by signs, gestures, anyhow, somehow, he claimed his brother; and they both expressed common joy, reciprocal affection.

Still intercourse was denied them. Until one in exuberant bliss uttered the word Allelujah! Whereunto the other responded Amen.

Speech pithy, pointed, and profitable to mutual edification. "Golden words, silver silence," to recast the popular phrase.

Which phrase is too often illustrated, revised in a second and reversed sense: "Words of dross, alloyed silence:" for idle gossip and detraction and indiscretion ply glib tongues, and their conversational pauses are far from silvery.

Whoso cannot give forth silver words, let him maintain golden silence.

Friday, June 14, 2013

June 15

THE lowest place. Ah, Lord, how steep and high
   That lowest place whereon a saint shall sit!
Which of us halting, trembling, pressing nigh,
   Shall quite attain to it?

Yet, Lord, Thou pressest nigh to hail and grace
   Some happy soul, it may be still unfit
For Right Hand or for Left Hand, but whose place
   Waits there prepared for it.

June 14


AT a certain point of the ascent Mount St. Gotthard bloomed into an actual garden of forget-me-nots.

Unforgotten and never to be forgotten that lovely lavish efflorescence which made earth cerulean as the sky.

Thus I remember the mountain. But without that flower of memory could I have forgotten it?

Surely not: yet there, not elsewhere, a countless multitude of forget-me-nots made their home.

Such oftentimes seems the principle of allotment (if reverently I may term it so) among the human family. Many persons whose chief gifts taken one by one would suffice to memorialize them, engross not those only but along with them the winning graces which endear. Forget-me-nots enamel the height.

And what shall they do, who display neither loftiness nor loveliness? If "one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it."

Or, if this standard appears too exalted for frail flesh and blood to attain, then send thought onwards.

The crowning summit of Mount St. Gotthard abides invested, not with flowers, but with perpetual snow: not with life, but with lifelessness.

In foresight of the grace, whither we all are hastening, is it worth while to envy any? "There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." "Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the Judge standeth before the door."

June 13


YEARS ago a small party of us crossed the Alps into Italy by the Pass on Mount St. Gotthard.

We did not tunnel our way like worms through its dense substance. We surmounted its crest like eagles.

Or, if you please, not at all like eagles: yet assuredly as like those born monarchs as it consisted with our possibilities to become.

To act like an eagle is so far to emulate an eagle. To act by preference like a worm, is voluntarily to discard any shadow of resemblance to its betters.

Better to be the last of eagles than the first of worms.

June 12

A ROSE, a lily, and the Face of Christ
   Have all our hearts sufficed:
For He is Rose of Sharon nobly born,
   Our Rose without a thorn;
And He is Lily of the Valley, He,
   Most sweet in purity.
But when we come to name Him as He is,
   Godhead, Perfection, Bless,
All tongues fall silent, while pure hearts alone
   Complete their orison.

June 11


THIS Levite of Cyprus bore the name of Joses, until those who were Apostles before him renamed him Barnabas; by interpretation, the Son of Consolation.

His first recorded deed is one of Christian liberality: having land, he sold it, and laid the money at the Apostles' feet.

Afterwards he introduced St. Paul to the mistrustful Church, and vouched for him.

He rejoiced over the conversion of many in Antioch, exhorting them to steadfastness.

He labored and suffered among the Jews: he labored and suffered among the Gentiles.

Thus far Holy Writ. Tradition completes his history by martyrdom in his native island of Cyprus.

First and last his career shines and glows with love. For the way of love is that path of the just which is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

"Lord, . . . how can we know the way? Jesus saith, . . . I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

June 10

WHEREIN lies the saddening influence of mountain scenery? For I suppose many besides myself have felt depressed when approaching the "everlasting hills."

Their mass and loftiness dwarf all physical magnitudes familiar to most eyes, except the low-lying vastness of the ocean and the boundless overarching sky. They touch and pass through those clouds which limit our vision.

Perhaps their sublimity impresses us like want of sympathy.

Well, saddened and probably weary, I ended one delightful day's journey in Switzerland; and passed indoors, losing sight for a moment of the mountains.

Then from a window I faced them again. And, lo! the evening flush had turned snow to a rose, "and sorrow and sadness fled away."

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me."

June 9

ROSES on a brier,
   Pearls from out the bitter sea,
Such is earth's desire
   However pure it be.

Neither bud nor brier,
   Neither pearl nor brine for me:
Be stilled, my long desire;
   There shall be no more sea.

Be stilled, my passionate heart;
   Old earth shall end, new earth shall be;
Be still, and earn thy part
   Where shall be no more sea.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

June 8


NEVERTHELESS, although the Manna on six successive days fell within the reach of all, those only who had gathered and stored it on the sixth day of toil, possesssed it on the final day of rest.

On that seventh day, any who had it not already laid up could not find it, though they might seek it carefully with tears.

Some who thus sought and found it not, were reproved; and the fault was laid to their own charge.

We Christians in the Sacrament of Christ's Most Blessed Body and Blood, enjoy access to the True Bread from heaven; and to us our loving Lord has said: "This do in remembrance of Me." If in our present day of discipline we neglect thus to lay up Christ in our hearts, and so despise our birthright; on what plea can we lay claim to our blessing, even indissoluble union with Christ, in the day of blessing?

June 7


WHO could have foreseen that Manna, type of "the true Bread from heaven," would have been withheld on the Sabbath Day, which day prefigures that final rest which remaineth for the people of God?

Nay, rather: for that one day the Manna assumed permanence.

The Israelites no longer gathered, because they possessed it. On the other days they measured it; on that holyday of rest they no longer measured, but simply enjoyed it.

Even so throughout the eternal Sabbath there will be no need of Sacraments, those outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace given unto us; because the elect will be once and for ever one with Christ.

Moreover, since each Jewish Sabbath prefigured that supreme Sabbath Day which was truly an high day, and which we Christians observe as Easter Even; therefore it doubly behooved that no Manna should fall thereon, for Christ Himself hath said: "The days will come, when the Bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days."

June 6

HEARTSEASE I found, where Love-lies-bleeding
   Empurpled all the ground:
Whatever flowers I missed unheeding,
   Heartsease I found.

   Yet still my garden mound
Stood sore in need of watering, weeding,
   And binding things unbound.

Ah, when shades fell to light succeeding
   I scarcely dared look round:
"Love-lies-bleeding" was all my pleading,
   Heartsease I found.

June 5

FEAST OF ST. BONIFACE, otherwise Winfrid, styled the Apostle of Germany; Archbishop of Mainz, and Martyr. Born at Crediton, near Exeter, about the year 680; slain on a mission and with about fifty companions by certain pagans of East Friesland, 755.

GREAT is England's glory in having given birth to so eminent a hero of the Faith. From early childhood the little Winfrid set his heart on piety and the service of God. At first his father entertained for him secular views, but after a while he sanctioned his son's obvious vocation: the lad assumed a religious habit, took the name of Boniface, and about the age of thirty was ordained priest.

But the safe and peaceful duties of an English priest sufficed not this ardent spirit. Bishop Willibrord, of Utrecht, was laboring among the heathens of Frisia: this Boniface knew, "the fire kindled," and he sailed to join that mission.

His first expedition, howver, failing, he returned to his cloister: but only to quit it once more, betake himself to Rome, and solicit from Pope Gregory II missionary powers.

Invested with these, he started anew for Frisia, and entered on those devoted labors which won thousands of converts to Christianity, and at length earned for himself the martyr's unfading palm.

A while he worked under bishop Willibrord: but when that now aged prelate desired to raise him also to the Episcopate, St. Boniface shunned the dignity and departed to a fresh field. His obedience, however, equalled his self-devotion and humility: and when it became the Pope's expressed pleasure to elevate him to so lofty a sphere of duty, he submitted to undergo consecration at Rome; and returned to his beloved field of toil, not as Bishop of one assigned locality, but as general episcopal pastor of any flock he could gather in that wide German territory.

A man he was of many toils and of much love, faithful to old associations and unforgetul. In need of missionaries he looked to England, and thence received a noble response; devoted men and devoted women betaking themselves to break up under him the fallow ground, or to occupy the land reclaimed for Christ.

He ordained Bishops, and under his auspices monasteries were founded and throve. He preached the simplest sermons to his rugged converts, teaching them in plain words the lovely Gospel history, instructing them what to do and wherein to sin no more.

At length, in old age, having provided for himself a successor in the See of Mainz, he started afresh on a personal mission into a still heathen portion of Friesland. There for a time his work prospered, and many were converted to Christ. But on a day when the lately baptized should have undergone confirmation, a savage band of pagans bore down on the missionaries and slew them: --"The archbishop himself, when he saw that his hour was come, took a volume of the Gospels, and making it a pillow for his head, stretched forth his neck for the blow, and in a few moments received his release."

June 4


I HAVE read how matter can be exploded, or at the least can be conceived of as exploded, from the sun, with such tremendous force as to carry it beyond the radius of solar attraction.

That attraction which unifies and sways a whole harmony of dependent planets, recalls not one atom which has passed beyond the pale.

O Christ my God Who seest the unseen,
   O Christ my God Who knowest the unknown,
   Thy mighty Blood was poured forth to atone
For every sin that can be or hath been.

O Thou Who seest what I cannot see,
   Thou Who didst love us all so long ago,
   O Thou Who knowest what I must not know,
Remember all my hope, remember me.

June 3


"The bottomless pit" mentioned several times in the Apocalypse is not (I believe) named in any other Book of Holy Scripture. To us Christians it is revealed "for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."

Whatever other idea we may form of the bottomless pit, whatever other feature we may think to detect within its undefined horror, two points stand out unmistakably: as a pit it is a place into which to fall; as bottomless, it appears to be one within which to fall lower and lower for ever and ever.

Herein lies one distinct thought for ourselves: an awful thought. A deep fall, indefinitely deep, so long as any bottom at any depth underlies the lapser, must at length be arrested and must stop. However mangled or shattered, and on whatever floor landed, the wretch cannot cease there to lie: self-destroyed, indeed, yet accessible to Mercy and Help if these deign to look so low, and lift with recovering hands, and carry home on shoulders rejoicing.

But in the bottomless pit I see a symbol of that eternal antagonism and recession by which created free-will seems able to defy and baffle even the Almighty Will of the Creator. At a standstill anywhere, though on the extreme boundary of time or space, the sinner might be overtaken by the pursuing Love of God: but once passing beyond those limits, eternity sets in; the everlasting attitude appears taken up, the everlasting recoil commenced.

Beyond the grave no promise is held out to us of shipwreck, great fish, dry land, to turn us back towards the Presence of God from our self-chosen Tarshish.

June 2

"As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country."

"GOLDEN haired, lily white,
   Will you pluck me lilies?
Or will you show me where they grow,
   Show where the limpid rill is?
But is your hair of gold or light,
   And is your foot of flake or fire,
And have you wings rolled up from sight,
   And songs to slake desire?"

"I pluck fresh flowers of Paradise,
   Lilies and roses red,
A bending sceptre for my hand,
   A crown to crown my head.
I sing my songs, I pluck my flowers
   Sweet-scented from their fragrant trees:
I sing, we sing amid the bowers,
   And gather palm branches."

"Is there a path to Heaven
   My stumbling foot may tread?
And will you show that way to go,
   That bower and blossom bed?"
"The path to Heaven is steep and straight
   And scorched, but ends in shade of trees,
Where yet awhile we sing and wait,
   And gather palm branches."

June 1

First Century

This holy man having first rendered himself conspicuous and obnoxious by bestowing Christian burial on a virgin martyr, refused to apostatize from Christ by offering sacrifice to the false gods, and was beaten to death. His corpse was cast into the Tiber, but being recovered thence by piety similar to his own, was after all consigned to consecrated earth.

Thus making good King Solomon's proverb: "He that watereth shall be watered also himself," and the Divine sentence of our Lord Jesus Christ: "With the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."