Archive for love

Thinking well




To think well is to serve God in the interior court: To have a mind composed of Divine Thoughts, and set in frame, to be like Him within. To conceive aright and to enjoy the world, is to conceive the Holy Ghost, and to see His Love: which is the Mind of the Father. And this more pleaseth Him than many Worlds, could we create as fair and great as this. For when you are once acquainted with the world, you will find the goodness and wisdom of God so manifest therein, that it was impossible another, or better should be made. Which being made to be enjoyed, nothing can please or serve Him more, than the Soul that enjoys it. For that Soul doth accomplish the end of His desire in Creating it.


Thomas Traherne (1636? – 1674), Centuries of Meditation, (First Century, 10).

Wonderfully kind

I know you don’t usually click on the videos you see posted on the internet. That’s why someone got the bright idea to make them play automatically–overcoming our haste and limited curiosity; figuring humans might stay for a moment if the show were already in progress. Tempted. Persuaded.

I won’t take on the role of tempter today, nor salesman, nor even evangelist. I can only offer myself and this space as a conduit. But I will ask you to take a few minutes to listen–if only in the background of your busy life–so that the depth and breadth of God’s kindness and compassion might wash over you and bring you peace.


There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
like the wideness of the sea;
there’s a kindness in his justice,
which is more than liberty.
There is welcome for the sinner,
and more graces for the good;
there is mercy with the Savior;
there is healing in his blood.

There is no place where earth’s sorrows
are more felt than in heaven;
there is no place where earth’s failings
have such kindly judgment given.
There is plentiful redemption
in the blood that has been shed;
there is joy for all the members
in the sorrows of the Head.

For the love of God is broader
than the measure of man’s mind;
and the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more faithful,
we should take him at his word;
and our life would be thanksgiving
for the goodness of the Lord.

Words: Frederick William Faber, 1862
Tune: St. Helena

Fire, not water

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold….”    Matthew 24: 9-12


One of the great blessings of my youth was the capacity to be genuinely puzzled by bad behavior. I knew good people made mistakes and sometimes told lies and such, but I really didn’t understand calculated wrong-doing. Evil was a mystery. Why would you do that? That would mess everything up.

I get it now, and alas, am much less often surprised by people who fall away, and betray and hate one another. I am reminded of Nathan Englander’s story about playing the Righteous Gentile game where Jews wonder, if the Holocaust came again, who would hide them and who would turn them in. In my house we call this game “Who can you count on in a firefight?”

Perhaps my youthful naïveté was in part a confusion of evil and weakness. The former preys on, in fact counts on, the latter. And when we feel the heat of real danger in our lives, when wickedness is multiplied, that’s when we learn what we, and our faith, are made of. But I don’t think it’s just strength that’s needed, it’s love.

It was my family’s love that shielded me from the twisted logic of hatred and allowed me to experience not merely moral outrage, but bewilderment. And in the reality of God’s love, God who Is Love, other systems for calculating the costs and benefits of our actions, however logical they appear in the moment, are absurd. I try to hang onto that in a world where fear makes most men’s love grow cold.

People say you fight fire with fire. That adage reminds me of another: Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.


322px-Fire Wikipedia awesomoman


The fellowship of the weak

Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.

― Henri J.M. Nouwen


A quotidian task, the family’s work, this cleaning up the mess of living.
Washing what is soiled, repairing what is broken,
putting away what someone else has taken out and carelessly forgotten.
A thousand injuries healed not counted, in a world where, the hard truth is that all people love poorly, and we
the weak, are called to the great work of Love.


Love’s birthplace

Love–what word is so overworked, misused, degraded, yet remains so fundamental and indispensable to a truly human life? Even more than spirituality, love eludes definition….

God is Love (1 Jn 4:16). Love is God’s very being; the life of the Trinity is an exchange of love among the three Persons–a love that pours itself out in creation, in the redemptive incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God, and in each and every human being, made in God’s image and made to respond in kind, by loving.

–Edith Scholl, OCSO


Love’s birthplace is God.
There it is born, there nourished, there developed.
There it is a citizen, not a stranger but a native.
Love is given by God alone, and it endures in him, for it is due to no one else but him and for his sake.

–William of Saint Thierry.


from In the School of Love. An Anthology of Early Cistercian Texts. Selected and annotated by Edith Scholl, OCSO. Cistercian Publications. 2000, pp. 10-11.

Climbing and hanging suspended

In this school of love there is always more to be learned. Love is infinite. Someone who has made progress in this school can be sure that it is


love that has drawn her and led her and taught her the ways that she has faithfully followed. Often in great labor and in many activities, in great infirmity and in strong desire, in frequent impatience and in great dissatisfaction, in adversity and in prosperity, in great pain, in seeking and asking, in lacking and in having, in climbing and in hanging suspended, in following and in striving, in need and anxiety, in fear and concern, in great faithfulness and in many unfaithfulnesses, in pleasure and in pain, is she ready to suffer. In death and in life she commits herself to love.

Beatrice of Nazareth.

Edith Scholl introducing Beatrice of Nazareth, The Seven Modes of Love, Tjurunga No. 50, 82. From In the School of Love: An Anthology of Early Cistercian Texts, Edith Scholl, ed.

No longer abashed

Once you have had the experience of God’s benevolence, you need no longer feel abashed in aspiring to a holier intimacy. Growth in grace brings expansion of confidence. You will love with greater ardor, and knock on the door with greater assurance, in order to gain what you perceive to be still wanting to you. ‘The one who knocks will always have the door opened to him’. It is my belief that to a person so disposed, God will not refuse that most intimate kiss of all, a mystery of supreme generosity and ineffable sweetness.

Bernard of Clairvaux

from On the Song of Songs 3.5; quoted in In the School of Love, Edith Scholl, ed., p. 154-155.

The hungry sheep

Feed my lambs
painting by Kathryn Trotter

A very quick note:

Today’s Daily Office reading included this passage from Revelation 2:

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear evil men but have tested those who call themselves apostles but are not, and found them to be false;  I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.  But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.  Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.  Yet this you have, you hate the works of the Nicola′itans, which I also hate.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’


Time Magazine, naming Pope Francis Person of the Year, writes:

…what makes this Pope so important is the speed with which he has captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the church at all. People weary of the endless parsing of sexual ethics, the buck-passing infighting over lines of authority when all the while (to borrow from Milton), “the hungry Sheep look up, and are not fed.” In a matter of months, Francis has elevated the healing mission of the church—the church as servant and comforter of hurting people in an often harsh world—above the doctrinal police work so important to his recent predecessors.


And from John: 

“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

Holy fellowship

There is nothing in human life better than mutual love nor anything sweeter than holy fellowship. To love and be loved is a sweet exchange, the joy of one’s whole life, the recompense of blessedness. What can be lacking in the sweetness of this good and pleasant dwelling, this place where God dwells and where he rests? ‘God is in his holy place, God, who makes those of one mind to dwell in a house’.


Baldwin of Forde
In the School of Love: an Anthology of Early Cistercian Texts, p. 126.
This passage translated by David N. Bell.

Knowing and loving

…Try to understand this point. Rational creatures such as men and angels possess two principal faculties, a knowing power and a loving power. No one can fully comprehend the uncreated God with his knowledge, but each one, in a different way, can grasp him fully through love. Truly this is the unending miracle of love; that one loving person, through his love, can embrace God, whose being fills and transcends the entire creation. And this marvelous work of love goes on forever, for he whom we love is eternal.

                                                    The Cloud of Unknowing, Chapter 4.