Thursday, January 14, 2010

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Prayer of Sadhu Sundar Singh

My Lord God, my all in all, life of my life, and spirit of my spirit, look in mercy upon me, and so fill me with Your Holy Spirit that my heart shall have no room for love of any but you. I seek from You no other gift but Yourself, who are the Giver of life and all its blessings. From You I ask not for the world or its treasures, nor yet for heaven do I even make request, but You alone do I desire and long for, and where You are, there is Heaven. The hunger and the thirst of this heart of mine can be satisfied only with You who have given it birth. O my Creator! You have created my heart for Yourself alone, and not for another. Therefore, this my heart can find no rest or ease save in You, in You who have both created it and set in it this very longing for rest. Take away, then, from my heart all that is opposed to You, and enter and abide and rule forever. Amen

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Cloud of Unknowing Begins

At the recommendation of my niece, Alison, I started reading a book intriguingly entitled The Cloud of Unknowing; a contemplative medieval work from an unknown (!) monastic author. In its prologue, I couldn't help but get a sense of a similar warning Paul might have placed on his writings if given a chance.

It reads as thus, "I…charge…you, and ask it of you with the authority of charity. If any such people do read it to themselves or to others, or copy it, or else hear it read in private or in public, you must bid them as I do you, to take time to read it in private or out loud, to copy it or listen to it, right through (emphasis mine). For it may happen that there is something there, in the beginning or in the middle, which depends on what follows and is not fully explained in that place. If so, it will be explained a little later on, or else by the end. Thus if a man looks at one part and not another, he could quite easily be led into error."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

But SOMEbody had to be a Christian!

“Sometime after World War II, during the reconstruction of Europe, the World Council of Churches wanted to see how its money was being spent in some remote parts of the Balkan peninsula. Accordingly, it dispatched John Mackie, who was then the president of the Church of Scotland, and two ministers from another rather severe and pietistic denomination, to take a jeep and travel to some of the villages where the funds were being disbursed.

“One afternoon Dr. Mackie and the other two clergymen went to call on the Orthodox priest in a small Greek village. The priest was overjoyed to see them, and was eager to pay his respects. Immediately, he produced a box of Havana cigars, a great treasure in those days, and offered each of his guests a cigar. Dr. Mackie took one, bit the end off, lit it, puffed a few puffs, and said how good it was. The other gentlemen look horrified and said, ‘No, thank you, we don’t smoke.’

“Realizing he had somehow offended the two who refused, the priest was anxious to make amends. So he excused himself and reappeared in a few minutes with a flagon of his choicest wine. Dr. Mackie took a glassful, sniffed it like a connoisseur, sipped it and praised its quality. Soon he asked for another glass. His companions, however, drew themselves back even more noticeably than before and said, ‘No, thank you, we don’t drink!’

“Later, when the three men were in the jeep again, making their way up a rough road out of the village, the two pious clergymen turned upon Dr. Mackie with a vengeance. ‘Dr. Mackie,’ they insisted, ‘do you mean to tell us that you are the president of the Church of Scotland and an officer of the World Council of Churches and you smoke and drink?’

“Dr. Mackie had had all he could take, and his Scottish temper got the better of him. ‘No, dammit, I don’t,’ he said, ‘but somebody had to be a Christian!'"

D.T. Niles, told at the sesquicentennial celebration of Princeton University; repeated by John Killinger, Pulpit Digest, July/August, 1992, pp. 12-13.