No Christian escapes a taste of the wilderness on the way to the promised land.
“No Escape” by Evelyn Underhill
I’ve been thinking about this as I witness and experience the fragility of life all around me. I wonder how it is that we seem to approach life as if we had some guarantee that everything would go well, and we would “live happily ever after.” Then I read this morning’s quote from Gratefulness.org. I guess I’ll just keep working on letting go and trying to welcome the present moment . . . with the help of the Spirit.
I try to remind myself that we are never promised anything, and that what control we can exert is not over the events that befall us but how we address ourselves to them.
Today is the feast of a Dominican saint, St. Albert the Great. He was born sometime around the year 1200, and died in Cologne in 1280. His teachings that stretched the Church of his time to look beyond the confines of a Christian
milieu for truth could stand us in good stead in these days when many proclaim that they have a corner on the truth. Albert and his famous student, St. Thomas Aquinas, found truth in the writings of Aristotle . . . found that they complemented Christian teaching. The Church named Albert a Doctor of the Church and a saint in 1931. We would do well to cultivate the willingness to listen and study the experience and beliefs of others before condemning them out of hand. We would also do well to cultivate the discipline to rigorous study that was demonstrated by St. Albert the Great, rather than taking the easy road of listening to what we want to believe, and taking that for truth.
Last week Gratefulness.org published this quote.
What is real prayer? Praise to God. And the meaning of praise? Appreciating; thus opening the heart more and more to the divine beauty one sees in manifestation.
– Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan
Bowl of Saki
The first reading today, on the Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time talks about a worthy wife. Obviously sisters and nuns are not wives. And in the days that the Book of Proverbs there weren’t nuns or sisters, so our lives could not be imagined. So I’ve taken a little liberty here and changed a few of the words so that it relates to women, whether married or not.
Proverbs 31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31
When one finds a worthy [woman], her value is far beyond pearls.
[Those who] entrust their heart to her, have an unfailing prize.
She brings good, and not evil, all the days of her life.
She obtains wool and flax and works with loving hands.
She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle.
She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.
Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her a reward for her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.
And if you happen to be a single woman, maybe you might think about joining us as we “reach out our hands to the poor, and extend our arms to the needy. Sister Anne Bertain, a Dominican Sister of San Rafael, does this every day in San Francisco at St. Dominic Catholic Church. To learn more about us, please go to our website. If you would like to pray with us, we invite you to San Rafael for an Advent Vespers service on December 1st. Please feel free to contact me to find out more.
More from today’s selection from the Book of Wisdom
All were by nature foolish who were in ignorance of God,
and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing God who is,
and from studying the works did not discern the Artisan;
But either fire, or wind, or the swift air,
or the circuit of the stars, or the mighty water,
or the luminaries of heaven, the governors of the world, they considered gods.
Now if out of joy in their beauty they thought them gods,
let them know how far more excellent is the Lord than these;
for the Original Source of Beauty fashioned them.
Or if they were struck by their might and energy,
let them from these things realize how much more powerful is the One who made them.
Since Sunday, we have had lovely readings from the Book of Wisdom
In Wisdom is a spirit intelligent, holy, unique,
Manifold, subtle, agile, clear, unstained, certain,
Not baneful, loving the good, keen,
unhampered, beneficent, kindly,
Firm, secure, tranquil, all-powerful, all-seeing,
And pervading all spirits,
though they be intelligent, pure and very subtle.
For Wisdom is mobile beyond all motion,
and she penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity.
For she is an aura of the might of God
and a pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty;
therefore nought that is sullied enters into her.
For she is the refulgence of eternal light,
the spotless mirror of the power of God, the image of God’s goodness.
And she, who is one, can do all things,
and renews everything while herself perduring;
And passing into holy souls from age to age,
she produces friends of God and prophets.
For there is nought God loves, be it not one who dwells with Wisdom.
For she is fairer than the sun and surpasses every constellation of the stars.
Compared to light, she takes precedence; for that, indeed, night supplants,
but wickedness prevails not over Wisdom.
Indeed, she reaches from end to end mightily
and governs all things well.
Wisdom 7:22 – 8:1
From today’s Morning Prayer:
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
The following is the closing prayer from Vespers for this evening.
O gracious God, open our hearts and our eyes to the wonders of your presence among us. May we see the signs of your beauty within and about us and ever be in awe of the simple gifts of life. Help us to reach beyond ourselves and to give thanks for all of your creation that shares this universe with us: peoples of every nation, animals of every species, all forms of vegetation, the planets, stars, and all the elements. We pray this in union with the incarnate Word of God in whose image all was created. May you be blessed throughout the ages and for all eternity. Amen.
One of today’s psalms at morning prayer was Psalm 100. It begins: “All the earth cries out to you with shouts of joy, O God.”
All the earth cries out to you with shouts of joy, O God,
Servign you with gladness, coming before you, singing for joy.
You, Creator of all, are God. You made us, we belong to you,
We are your people, the sheep of your pasture.
We enter your gates with thanksgiving, and your courts with songs of praise.
We give you thanks and bless your name.
Indeed, how good you are, enduring your steadfast love.
You are faithful to all generations.