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Jesus, All My Gladness

Here let’s glance at another translation of the same German poem [Jesu, Meine Freude], by J.W. Wotherspoon (1912):

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Wotherspoon… makes sure that the final line of the first stanza echoes the first line—they will be sung to the same notes—and that the final line of the entire hymn will repeat the first line exactly. But he also dares to repeat the rhymes on pleasure and treasure, linking the first stanza with the second. That’s a clever move. For the words are repeated but in a different context, revealing the gulf between the pleasures of the world and the joy that the love of Jesus brings. The music underscores the difference. Let me print the final lines of the first stanza beside the first lines of the second stanza, using boldface to denote what is sung to exactly the same melody line:

ONLY WHERE THOU ART IS PLEASURE,
Thee alone I treasure.
Hence with earthly treasure

THOU ART ALL MY PLEASURE.

—from the book Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church (book and CD) by Anthony Esolen, Ch. 6: Our Love of Jesus

Full lyrics for Jesus, All My Gladness:

Jesus, all my gladness,
My repose in sadness,
Jesus, heaven to me;
Ah, my heart long plaineth,
Ah, my spirit straineth,
Longeth after Thee!
Thine I am, O holy Lamb;
Only where Thou art is pleasure,
Thee alone I treasure.

Hence with earthly treasure:
Thou art all my pleasure,
Jesus my desire!
Hence, for pomps I care not,
Even as though they were not
Rank and fortune’s hire.
Want and gloom, cross, death, and tomb;
Nought that I may suffer ever
Shall from Jesus sever.

Flee, dark clouds that lower,
For my joy-bestower,
Jesus, enters in!
Joy from tribulation,
Hope from desolation,
They who love God win.
Be it blame or scorn or shame,
Thou art with me in earth’s sadness,
Jesus, all my gladness!

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Perfection in Love, Not in Productivity

—from the blog post Learning to Be Provide For by Jenny Uebbing whose blog is Mama Need Coffee

I had a wonderful encounter in the confessional this past weekend…during which father gently reminded me not to chase perfection. Not to expect perfection. And as I sat there mentally rebuffing his suggestion with the Scripture passage about being perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect running in all caps across my brain (this gives you an idea of exactly how intensely neurotic I am, no?) he spoke the words aloud: “You know we are to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect, yes? Well that perfection is in love. Not in productivity. Not in human achievement. Love.”

I lowered my reddening cheeks and conceded the point to the Holy Spirit. Nicely played, omniscient one.

That’s the thing about God. He already knows what we need, and He knows better than we do how to achieve it for us. But most of us moderns – and hyper-technological Westerners in particular, I’d wager – rarely give Him space to operate. Our days are so scripted and our risks are so carefully and calculatingly managed that it’s nearly impossible to experience His provision in a tangible way.

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It’s easy to lose sight of God when it feels like we’re calling all the shots ourselves.

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The Gap Between Me and the Saints

STUPID: I know some people can become saints, but I’m not one of them. The gap between me and the saints is like the gap between a pebble and a mountain.

SENSIBLE: I have four answers to that. First, a pebble is a part of a mountain. It’s made of the same stuff. Second, all the saints started where you are, as pebbles. Third, you’re not a pebble—no one is—but a seed. You’re small, but alive. Your whole identity is to grow. Fourth, you will become a saint because everyone in Heaven is a saint. God will not let you go until you are.

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STUPID: You’re asking for a radical change. You’re asking too much.

STUPID: I’m afraid.

SENSIBLE: Of what?

STUPID: It costs too much.

SENSIBLE: But the alternative costs more.

STUPID: Hell, you mean?

SENSIBLE: No, I was just thinking of life on earth without this total abandonment. A half life, always torn between yourself and God, never wholly either one. Drawing limits, keeping a little bit, out of fear. That will drive you crazy. Give it all up, and you will be free!

—from How to Be Holy by Peter Kreeft, Appendix Two: A Dialogue between Stupid and Sensible (the Two Parts of My Soul)

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The Gap Between Sin and God

Catholics call completion of that… process “Purgatory”. Call it what you will, but if you really think that you can endure and enjoy the full light and fire of God a second after you die, being essentially the same kind of being you are now, without any additional divine operations on your soul, then you dangerously underestimate either your sinful nature or God’s holiness or the gap between them.

—from How to Be Holy by Peter Kreeft, Ch. 10: Where to Find God: The Practice of the Presence of God

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To Do the Works of Martha In the Spirit of Mary

Very few people are good at doing two or more things at once, especially contemplating and acting, praying and working, Mary-ing and Martha-ing at the same time. But de Cassaude shows you how to do just that, to unite Mary and Martha, to do the works of Martha in the spirit of Mary.

He does that by focusing on the same single motive for both: freely willing God’s will. When God interrupts your action and wills you to pray or contemplate, even virtuous acting becomes a vice. When God interrupts your prayer and wills you to act, praying instead of acting becomes disobedience, even if that praying reached the highest levels of mystical prayer. I think it was Saint Francis who told his monks something like this: If you are rapt in ecstasy in contemplative prayer, and a hungry beggar knocks at the door, you must immediately leave your ecstasy and open the door to him, because God has left your ecstasy and has entered that beggar, and you must do the same; you must go where God is.

—from How to Be Holy by Peter Kreeft, Ch. 33: Praying While Working

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As C.S. Lewis says, “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him Christ vere latitat [truly hides]” (The Weight of Glory). As Christ himself said, “As you did to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” Especially the least, for He especially disguises Himself “in the distressing disguise of the poor”, as Mother Teresa used to say. If we only saw Who was there…

—from How to Be Holy by Peter Kreeft, Ch. 12: The Epistemology of Holiness

 

 

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Authors Whose Names Begin With S

 

From the Sacred Art Series website:

St. Philip Neri encouraged his spiritual children to meditate on a spiritual maxim or saying throughout each day. St. Philip Neri had so many of these sayings that, eventually, his followers organized them so there’s one for every day of the year. (All 365 are available at our blog here.)

The Sacred Art Series is promoting these excellent spiritual sayings through Email, Facebook, and Twitter. Please sign-up and adopt this daily spiritual practice.

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The Communion of Saints

C.S. Lewis, referring to Saint Augustine, says, “He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God alone” (The Weight of the Glory).

But don’t we need each other too? “People who need people…”

Saint Thomas Aquinas asks, in the Summa, whether the fellowship of human friendship is necessary for complete happiness in Heaven, and his answer sounds shocking at first. He says that although it certainly is necessary for complete happiness in this life, it is not in the next. For if God alone is not enough to satisfy all the desires and needs of our heart, then God is not God.

He adds that the fellowship of friends, the “communion of saints”, will in fact be present and perfected in the next life. But not because without it God alone is not enough, but because God is generous and gives more, not less, than what is enough. God alone is enough, but God is not alone.

—from How to Be Holy by Peter Kreeft, Ch. 30: Detachment