Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Trust when it's 99 in the shade

Daytime Prayer for mid morning had a seasonally appropriate image that I'd like to share:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream:
It fears not the heat when it comes,its leaves stay green;
In the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.

Watching the leaves on my trees folding up to conserve their moisture, and my potted porch plants wilting in our current Northeast heatwave, its easy to appreciate Jeremiah's analogy for doubt and fear vs. trust in God. We all have times when we doubt God's goodness, or providence,  or even His existence. Or we see the Church under assault from within and without and wonder...will the Church really last to the end as Jesus promised? Is it possible we've all been fooled into believing myths spun around a Galiliean teacher who was just that, but no more?

And then, in times of pain, there's always..."how can a good God permit,etc.?"

I feel that way sometimes. Sometimes for only a fleeting moment. Other times, for a longer period. I don't lose faith exactly.

But I do start to wilt a bit.

The thing to do is stretch out my roots a bit closer to that stream. Acts of Faith.  An extra rosary. Fortifying spiritual reading. Read the Divine Office very attentively so as not to miss anything God is trying to show me through its words. Above all--get to the Eucharist--don't wait for next Sunday to come around.

All these things are the sources of living water for my spirit.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Testing 1, 2, 3

Trying to see whether my posts will publish if I go on from Internet Explorer rather than Firefox.

Help! Blogger is eating my posts!

Blogger has been eating my posts as I hit publish. I've gone on help forum, only to learn that several others have the same problem. It looks like it only happens when I use Firefox instead of Internet Explorer.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Facing God

I am p.o.'d at Blogger I am offering up Blogger today because as I hit "publish" the text of my long post vanished. Irretrievably.

Here's the short version:
Don't miss today's Office of Readings. It illustrates why this hour of the Liturgy is so worth doing if you can find time.

Wait, no! Don't try to find time. Ask God to Give you the time as Melanie at Wine Dark Sea so eloquently explains.

Anyway, today's OOR is a mini-Bible study on the notion of The Face Of God. The psalms, antiphons, and prayers have lots of lovely statements like, "let t"he light of your face shine on us" and "Why do you hide your face" and "the glory of God shining on the face of Christ." (I'm not going to list references again. Too much work.)  Then there's a marvellous commentary on  this whole  concept by St. Ambrose. 

If you don't own a 4-volume breviary, just use the ibreviary gadget on the left, or divineoffice.org. Keep in mind that Ibreviary changes to tomorrow's office by around 6pm, so if it's evening when you read this, click on "more" on the tab bar and change the date back.

My book is coming along pretty well, so I will be back here more often. Probably not too consistently, however, until summer is over. Summer being what it is.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tall Ship as Metaphor for Breviary

Last week Bill and I went to Erie, PA to see the sites. (Yes, Erie has some very nice ones, thank you. And the lake is not polluted anymore, so don't crack any of those jokes from the 60s about walking across it to Canada.) 

The highlight of our trip was the Maritime Museum, which included a tour of the Brig Niagara.  This ship was a key player in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.  We learned all sort of fascinating historical and nautical things. But nothing impressed, indeed, staggered me more as I examined the deck than the sheer number and variety of ropes, each with a different purpose, and each vitally important to keeping the vessel afloat and functional. It was impossible to keep ropes out of one's line of sight anywhere on the deck....

short ropes...

long ropes...

fat ropes...

coiled ropes...

Sounds like I'm writing  a Dr. Seuss book, I know. But bear with me.

I wondered how long it would take for an apprentice seaman to learn what each of these was for, when our guide reminded us that the phrase, "learning the ropes" had originated with the sailing culture. And I could see, that whatever else a new sailor had to learn, once he'd learned the ropes, he'd have a great deal of his job learned as well.

When you think  of all that goes into learning to use and  appreciate the Divine Office, "Learning the ropes" is a great analogy. Making sense of what at first is a dizzying array of psalter, ordinary, propers, commons, feasts, and seasons is not easy. Not to mention getting to truly enter into the spirit of praying the hours with the mind of the Church.

I've been trying to help readers  do just  that with this blog. Now I'm thinking of going through all these posts and putting them into a short  book . The Divine Office--Learning the Ropes might be a good working title.  Thing is, I don't have time to both do that and to write blog posts a couple of times a week. I need to have a couple of chapters and a proposal ready to pitch at the Catholic Writer's Guild conference in August, so it looks like Coffee and Canticles will go inactive until sometime in the middle of August. Surely you wonderful followers and visitors won't mind so very much. Right now it's too beautiful outside to waste much time on the internet anyway. Just say a prayer that if it's God's will and not just my ego, this project will go well.

See you in August. Keep up with your Divine Office.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Habakuk 3 and Ultimate Trust

Today's morning prayer included a canticle from Habakuk, one of those books of the Bible that scriptural semi-literates like myself are not awfully familiar with. Like many of the psalms, it is an object lesson in what radical trust in God means. In fact, the trust depicted in these verses is even more radical than that in most of the psalms. The author expresses joy and exultation even while things are going about as bad as they possibly can.

For thought the fig tree blossom not,
nor fruit be on the vines,
thought the yield of olives fail
and the terraces produce no nourishment,

thought the flocks disappear form the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet will I rejoice in the Lord
and exult in my saving God.

That's wild. Not just trust, but rejoice and exult  while facing destitution and starvation. The conclusion suggests that the author is talking about a spiritual state that even puts him beyond caring about the flocks and vines and herds, because he is headed for a Place where they do not matter:

God, my Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet swift as those of hinds
and enables me to go upon the heights.
(hbakuk 3: 15-19)

At the moment I'm crashing into sleepy apathy as the morning's caffeine high wears off. Emotionally, the stalls and vines are empty and the thought of leaping up to the heights just makes me tired. But I'm going to trudge off to noon mass and see if I can at least manage to get within sight of the foothills.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Best Line from today's Office

The Lord has lifted us up and drawn us to his heart, for he has remembered his promise of mercy, alleluia.

-antiphon for Magnificat, Evening Prayer, Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus