Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house

When it comes to the most basic activities of daily life, no one needs to give us instructions about what tools are for or how to use them. Without thinking, we use utensils for eating. Without a moment's thought, we turn on a light switch in a dark room. Without the least bit of reflection, we make sure the light shines on what we may be reading.  And yet, when it comes to the life of the Spirit, we seem to need additional instructions, we seem to need to be told to do the obvious. As foolish as it may seem, we really need to be reminded that no one lights a candle and puts it under a bushel, … [Read more...]

“Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Emotions are of great importance in our lives as human beings and as Christians. Carl Jung once observed, “Emotion is the moment when steel meets flint and a spark is struck forth, for emotion is the chief source of consciousness. There is no change from darkness to light or from inertia to movement without emotion.” In general, emotions motivate us, organize our world, and help us to adapt to changing situations. And it is significant that the Beatitudes conclude with the brightest and most blessed of human emotions, a rejoicing and gladness that are strikingly and peculiarly Christian, for … [Read more...]

Blessed Are You When Men Shall Revile You and Persecute You and Say All Manner of Evil Against You Falsely, For My Sake. Rejoice and Be Exceeding Glad, For Great is Your Reward in Heaven

Our Lord’s words are “powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow,” for the Word and Son of God is “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). He knows that listeners to His voice desire more than to marvel at the blessed poor in spirit, meek, merciful, and peacemakers. They want to become what they admire and the Lord already begins to accomplish that transformation by shifting from speaking about them in the third person to speaking to you in the second and to the blessedness … [Read more...]

Changing Type A Behavior: Happy Memories, A Smile, and a Prayer of Thanksgiving

Sometimes, it’s necessary just to state the obvious: thinking about pleasant things helps us feel pleasant; thinking about peaceful things helps us feel peaceful; and thinking about stressful things can make us feel stressful. And all these endless variety of thoughts have a way of shaping not only our feelings, but also our actions, sometimes directly such as when we decide to eat this or look at that and at other times indirectly such as when our actions are clothed in gentleness and calmness or roughness and agitation. Underlying the Type A behavioral pattern are Type-A thoughts about … [Read more...]

A Christmas Poem

When Caesar Augustus ruled the mighty Empire of Rome, When peace purchased with bloodshed enshrouded each home, When mortal man had reached the deep night of despair, When prophets were silent and holiness rare,Lo, in the humble town of the shepherd-boy king, In the arms of a maiden all pure, yea purer than spring, Was beheld a sight strange to angels, unapproachable to men, God as a child, the Almighty, a friend.O Wisdom unfathomable, Condescension Divine Heavenly Bread in the straw where cattle did dine. Heaven’s gates now flung open and that sword flaming of old No longer guards … [Read more...]

Moving Beyond the Familiar Christmas Story

Is there anything more familiar in Christianity than the Christmas story? The child in the manger, the shepherds watching their flocks, wise men from the East, and angels singing, “Glory to God in the Highest!” There is something that warms the heart in the familiar. It is safe. It shelters. It is sort of like home. Certainly, there is a place for this aspect of the Christmas experience. The gentleness of the Mother and Child, the simplicity of the shepherds, the piety of the wise men, and the radiance of the angels soften our souls in the midst of the harsh winter of this life. And yet, where … [Read more...]

And He Will Come Again in Glory

In the Creed, we confess that our Savior will come again in glory. And through this confession, we proclaim with joyful voices that all the wondrous and extraordinary truths we believe concerning our compassionate God will one day, the proverbial day of the Lord, be as manifest as the sun, making daylight pale into darkness by comparison. Many Christians today become fearful with an unsettling foreboding when they think about the end times, because they focus on the anti-Christ with all his futile machinations, instead of on Christ totally victorious with utter ease on that last, great day. … [Read more...]

And Sits At the Right Hand of the Father

The Nicene Creed is not a mere set of beliefs that we confess with our mouths, but the Way that we follow in thought, word, and deed leading to eternal life in communion with our triune God. The Creed is meant to open up to us new worlds of holiness, new experiences of the divine, and above all newness of life found only in Christ. This is evident in the creedal formula “and sits at the right hand of the Father,” for with our minds fixed on the rule of God where Christ reigns forever, with our hearts comforted in the knowledge that Christ has indeed ascended to the Father where He continues to … [Read more...]

Precious Guidance in Life Culled from the Creed: “And Ascended into Heaven”

Leaving aside all the debates about the unmoved Mover, we know from the Gospel that our God moves and calls us to move as well. In fact, the entire divine economy is characterized by movement. In the Incarnation, the Eternal Word of God empties Himself and becomes what He was not—that is, human—moving into humanity when the Holy Spirit overshadowed the most pure Virgin Mary. After His birth, the holy family fled into Egypt moving again following an angelic command. In His three years of public ministry, the Lord walked from village to village, moving by land and by sea, until He finally rode … [Read more...]

I Believe in God the Father Almighty

In returning to our Sunday series of reflections upon the Nicene Creed and core beliefs, it might be helpful to be reminded of our core premise in this series-“What would it mean if the believer could deeply assimilate the beliefs laid out in the Creed on the same level as the core-beliefs described earlier? Couldn’t the Creed potentially reshape idiosyncratic core beliefs or even create new ones ex nihilo? Couldn’t it change one’s perspective on life, death, loved ones, difficult people, and one’s own self-image? Couldn’t it affect our rules for living and even our automatic thoughts?” The … [Read more...]