Saturday, 31 May 2014


'You can't give yourself over to love for somebody without giving yourself over to suffering.' 
Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter, p.171.


' have a life that you are living only now, now and now and now, gone before you can speak of if, and now you must be thankful for living day by day, moment by moment, in this presence.
But you have a life too that you remember. It stays with you. You have lived a life in the breath and pulse and living light of the present, and your memories of it, remembered now, are of a different life in a different world and time.When you remember the past, you are not remembering it as it was. You are remembering it as it is. It is a vision or a dream, present with you in the present, alive with you in the only time you are alive. 
Your life, as you have lived it, is way back yonder in time. But you are still living, and you living life, expectations subtracted, has a shape, and the shape of it includes the past. The absent and the dead are in it. And the living are in it.' 
Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter, p.148.


'The hardest resentments to give up are the ones you felt knowingly as a child...'
Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter, p.103.

Friday, 30 May 2014


'Some Christians repress their emotions as they sing. They fear feeling everything too strongly and think maturity means holding back. But the problem is emotionalism  not emotions. Emotionalism pursues feelings as an end in themselves. It's wanting to feel something with no regard for how that feeling is produced or its ultimate purpose. Emotionalism can also be view heightened emotions as the infallible sign that God is present. In contrast, the emotions that singing is meant to invoke are a response to who God is and what he's done. Vibrant singing enables us to combine truth about God seamlessly with passion for  God.'  
Bob Kauflin in David G Peterson, Encountering God Together, p.141. 


'In thanking, blessing or praising God, a person expresses his or her own relation to the God he or she is adoring: joyous gratitude for what God has done and reverent alignment with God's character from which God's actions spring.' 
Miroslav Volf in David G Peterson, Encountering God Together, p.120. 

Wednesday, 28 May 2014


'He a model for everyone. He must be devoted entirely to the example of good living. He must be dead to the passions of the flesh and live a spiritual life. He must have no regard for worldly prosperity and never cower in the face of adversity. He must desire the internal life only. His intentions should not be thwarted by the frailty of the body, nor repelled by the abuse of the spirit. He should not lust for the possessions of others, but give freely of his own. He should be quick to forgive through compassion, but never so far removed from righteousness as to forgive indiscriminately. He must perform no evil acts but instead deplore the evil perpetrated by others as though it were his own. In his own heart, he must suffer the afflictions of others and likewise rejoice as the fortune of his neighbor, as though the good thing was happening to him. He must set such a positive example for others that he has nothing for which he should ever be ashamed. He should be such a student of how to live that he is able to water the arid hearts of his neighbors with the streams of doctrinal teaching. He should have already learned by practice and experience of prayer that he can obtain from the Lord whatever he requests, as though it were already said to him, specifically, by the voice of experience: "When you are speaking, I will say 'Here I am'"'  
Gregory the Great, The Book of Pastoral Rule, p.43. 


'...if one recalls how he acted as a layperson, he suddenly knows if he will be able, as a leader, to do well. For no one is able to acquire humility while in the position of authority if he did not refrain from pride when in a position of subjection. He does not know to flee from praise when it abounds if he yearned for it when it was absent, just as no one is able to conquer his greed when he is given the role of sustaining many if he was unable to sustain himself on his own resources. Therefore, let everyone discover what he is from his past life, so that the fantasy of his thoughts does not deceive him because of his desire to lead. For its is very often the case that the discipline of good works, which was maintained in a time of tranquility, is ruined in the assumption of leadership. For an inexperienced sailor can steer a ship in calm waters, but even an experienced seaman is disordered by a storm. For what, indeed, is a position of spiritual authority but a mental tempest in which the ship of the heart is constantly shaken by storms of thoughts, tossed back and forth, until it is shattered by a sudden excess of words like hidden rocks of the sea?' 
Gregory the Great, The Book of the Pastoral Rule (Trans: George E Demacopoulos), p.42. 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014


'Every Christ-centred gathering is an expression of our union with him and with each other before God's heavenly throne.' 
David G Peterson, Encountering God Together: Biblical patterns for ministry and worship, p.19. 

Monday, 26 May 2014


'The Church does not impose on us the idea that love should be permanent. Permanence is what the heart longs for. In her teaching that sex is meant to express permanent love (that is, marital love), the Church is simply inviting us to be true to the "song" that wells up from the deepest recesses of our souls. Listen to it! It is the Song of Songs.'
Christopher West, Theology of the Body for Beginners, p.101. 


'Why are we so quick to accuse St. Paul of justifying male domination? Based on what we have unfolded, when St. Paul writes, "Wives, submit to your husbands" he is saying, "Wives, allow your husbands to serve you." To which I respond, "Who has got it worse here?" We have got the whole thing flipped upside down! Not that the wife is the master and the husband a slave. Power, control, domination - these are the wrong paradigms altogether, regardless of who is "the boss." Christian marriage calls spouses to a mutual service, or, as St.Paul says, a mutual "subjection." Yet, according to the nature of sexual difference, each lives this service in different, complementary ways.
If Ephesians says that "the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church," this means the husband must be the first to serve (see Luke 22:25-26).' 
Christopher West, Theology of the Body for Beginners, p.84. 


'....our sexuality calls us to give ourselves away in life-giving love. The celibate person doesn't reject this call. He just lives it in a different way. Every man, by virtue of the spousal meaning of his body, is called in some way to be both a husband and a father. Every woman, by virtue of the spousal meaning of her body, is called in some way to be both a wife and a mother. As an image of Christ, the celibate man "marries" the Church. Through his bodily gift of self he bears numerous "spiritual children." As an image of the Church, the celibate woman "marries" Christ. Through her bodily gift of self she bears numerous "spiritual children."' 
Christopher West, Theology of the Body for Beginners, p.70. 


'The difference between marriage and celibacy must never be understood as the difference between having a "legitimate" outlet for sexual lust on the one hand and having to repress it on the other. Christ calls everyone - no matter his or her particular vocation - to experience redemption from the domination of lust. Only from this perspective do the Christian vocations (celibacy and marriage) make any sense. Both vocations - if they are to be lived as Christ intends - flow from the same experience of the redemption of sexual desire.'
Christopher West, Theology of the Body for Beginners, p.66.   


'Christian celibacy, therefore, is not a rejection of sexuality. It points us to the ultimate purpose and meaning of sexuality. "For this reason...the two become one flesh." What reason does St.Paul give? Man and woman become one flesh as a sign or "sacrament" of Christ's eternal union with the Church (see Ephesians 5:31-32). Those who remain celibate for the kingdom forego the sacrament of marriage in anticipation of the heavenly reality, the "marriage of the Lamb." If it is "bot good for man to be alone," Christian celibacy reveals that the ultimate fulfillment of solitude is found only in union with God. In a way, the celibate person freely chooses to remain in the "ache" of solitude in this life in order to devote all of his longings to the union that alone can satisfy.' 
Christopher West, Theology of the Body for Beginners, p.64. 


'The sexual confusion so prevalent in our world and in our hearts is simply the human desire for heaven gone berserk. Untwist the distortions and we discover the astounding glory of sex in the divine plan. "For this reason...the two become one flesh." For what reason? To reveal, proclaim, and anticipate the eternal union of Christ and the Church (see Ephesians 5:31-32).' 
Christopher West, Theology of the Body for Beginners, p.54. 

Sunday, 25 May 2014


'When we tinker with God's plan for sex, we are tinkering with the cosmic stream of human existence. The human race - its existence, its balance - is literally determined by who is having sex with whom, and, in what manner. When sexual union is orientated towards love and life, it builds families and, in turn, cultures that live the truth of love and life. When it is orientated against love and life, the sexual act breeds death - what John Paul II grimly, yet accurately, describes as a "culture of death". A "culture of death" is a culture that, failing to recognize the infinite worth of every human person, chooses death as a "solution" to its problems.' 
Christopher West, Theology of the Body for Beginners, p.13. 


'If God created the body and sexual union to proclaim his own eternal mystery of love, why do we not typically see them in this profound way? For example, when you hear the word "sex," what generally comes to mind? Is it the "great mystery" of the one-flesh union as a foreshadowing of Christ's union with the Church, or something, shall we say, a little less sacred?
Ponder this for a moment. If the body and sex are meant to proclaim our union with God, and if there is an enemy who wants to separate us from God, what do you think he is going to attack? If we want to know what is most sacred in this world, all we need to do is look for what is most violently profaned.' 
Christopher West, Theology of the Body for Beginners, p.11. 


'Scripture uses many images to describe God's love for humanity. Each has its own valuable place. But both Old and New Testaments use the language of spousal love far more than any other.' 
Christopher West, Theology of the Body for Beginners: A Basic Introduction to Blessed John Paul II's Sexual Revolution, p.10. 


'The fact that theology also includes the body should not astonish or surprise anyone who is conscious of the mystery and reality of the Incarnation. Through the fact that the Word of God became flesh, the body entered theology - that is the science that has divinity for its object - I would say, through the main door.' 
John Paul II, Man and Woman He Created Them, p.221 (23:4). 


'The body, in fact, and only the body, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It has been created to transfer into the visible reality of the world the mystery hidden from eternity in God, and thus to be a sign of it.' 
John Paul II, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, p.203 (19:4). 

Friday, 23 May 2014


'I began to trust the world again, not to give me what I wanted, for I saw it could not be trusted to do that, but to give unforeseen goods and pleasure that I had not thought to want.' 
Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter, p.57. 


'The living can't quit living because the world has turned terrible and people they love and need are killed. They can't because they don't. The light that shines in darkness and never goes out calls them on into life. It calls them back again into the great room. It calls them into their bodies and into their world, into whatever the world will require. It calls them into work and pleasure, goodness and beauty, and the company of their loved ones.' 
Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter, p.57. 


'I began to know my story then. Like everybody's, it was going to be the story of living in the absence of the dead. What is the thread that holds it all together? Grief, I thought for a while. And grief is there sure enough, just about all the way through. From the time I was a girl I have never been far from it. But grief is not a force and has no power to hold. You only bear it. Love is what carries you, for it is always there, even in the dark, or most in the dark, but shining out at times  like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery.' 
Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter, p.51. 

Friday, 16 May 2014


'We live in a time and place in which we are conditioned to leave our hometowns. Our schools tell our young people to follow their professional bliss, wherever it takes them. Our economy rewards companies and people who have no loyalty to place. The stories that shape the moral imagination of our young, chiefly by film and television, are told by outsiders who are dissatisfied and lit out for elsewhere to find happiness and good fortune. 
During the decade leading up to Ruthie's death, I had spent my professional life writing newspaper columns, blog posts, and even a book, lamenting the loss of community and traditions in American life. I have a reputation as a pop theoretician of cultural decline, but in the truth I was long on words, short on deeds. I did not like the fact that I saw my Louisiana family only three times a year, for a week at a time, if we were lucky. But that was the way of the world, right? Almost everyone I knew was in the same position. My friends and I talked a lot about the fragmentation of the modern family, about the deracinating effects of late capitalism, about mass media and erosion of localist consciousness, about the consumerization of religion and the leviathan state and every other thing under the sun that undermines our sense of home and permanence. 
The one thing none of us did was what Ruthie did: Stay. 
Contemporary culture encourages us to make islands of ourselves for the sake of self-fulfillment, of career advancement, of entertainment, of diversion, and all the demands of the sovereign self. When suffering and death come for you - and it will - you will want to be in a place where you know, and are known. You want - no, you need - to be able to say, as Mike did, "We're leaning, but we're leaning on each other."' 
Rod Dreher, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, p.209. 


'Ruthie and I were both practicing Christians, yet we were utterly different in our approaches to God. Ruthie didn't have much of a theology. That's not how her mind worked. She believed that God existed and that He loved her. She believed Jesus Christ was His son and died for humanity's sins. She believed the Bible and, that whatever happened to her, that God was in it, and that He would never abandon her. That was the sum total of Ruthie Leming's theology. 
And yet Ruthie, in her simplicity, was an extraordinarily accomplished theologian - if, that is, a theologian is not one who knows about God, but one who knows God. The ordinary Christianity she lived out she lived out among her family, her neighbors, her students, and all who came into her life, made her a Christian soldier and me an armchair Christian theoretician.' 
Rod Dreher, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life, p.207. 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014


'When we have children, we know that they will need us, and maybe love us, but we don't have a clue how hard it is going to be. We also can't understand when we are pregnant, or when our relatives are expecting, how profound and dicey it is to have a a shared history with a child, shared blood, shared genes, even wait and see what what will come of it, and with people, that almost always means a mess.' 
Anne Lamott, Grace (Eventually), p.89. 


' old man at church once told me never to give the devil a ride. Because if he likes the ride, pretty soon he'll want to drive.' 
Anne Lamott, Grace (Eventually), p.51. 


'I will never know hard hard it is to be developmentally disabled, but I do know the sorrow of being ordinary, and that much of our life is spent doing the crazy mental arithmetic of how, at any given moment, we might improve, or at least disguise our present our defects and screw-ups in either more charming or more intimidating ways.' 
Anne Lamott, Grace (Eventually), p.42. 


'What can you say when people call with a scary or heart-breaking prognosis? You can say that we don't have to live alone with our worries and losses, that all the people in their tide pool will be there for them. You say that it totally sucks, and that grace abounds.' 
Anne Lamott, Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith, p.25. 

Friday, 9 May 2014


'Andy had often proposed to himself that joy, the joy of love and beauty or of work, could so abound in this world that it would overflow all of this world's mortal vessels. But that night he was thinking of sorrow, filled suddenly with the apprehension of such hurt and sorrow as might overflow the capacity of the world, let alone of that mere life. That there had been an immeasurable joy in the story of Mary and Elton Penn he had long known. But now its suffering also had been made present to him in an amplitude beyond the reach of his mind. He would never know even the extent to which its suffering had been unnecessary. 
It seemed to him almost a proof of immortality that nothing mortal could contain all its sorrow. He thought, as we all have been taught to think, of our half-lit world, a speck hardly visible, hardly noticeable, among scattered lights in the black well in which it spins. If all its sorrow could somehow be voiced, somehow heard, what an immensity would be the outcry!
In the silent, shadowy room in the great night he was thinking of heavenly pity, heavenly forgiveness, and his thought was a confession of need. It was a prayer.'
Wendell Berry,A Place in Time, p.236.


' reduce that formative example to instruction is to misrepresent it, for instruction cannot even suggest the passion and the beauty, the difficult requirement and the hardship, of the example. What Andy took from the Penns was not instruction so much as a series of memories, visions, that ruled over his young life and still imposed their attraction and demand upon him when he was old...'
Wendell Berry, A Place in Time, p.219.

Monday, 5 May 2014


'Being happy is mostly like that. You don't see it up close.
You recognize it later from the ache of memory.
And you can't recapture it. You only get to choose
whether to remember or forget, whether to feel remorse
or nothing at all...'
Dana Gioia, 'Being Happy' in Pity the Beautiful: Poems, p.59.