Friday, January 29, 2010

A commentary on Psalm 101 by St John Fisher

The wonders of God
First of all God freed the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt, with many signs and wonders. Then he let them cross the Red Sea dry-shod; in the desert he fed them with food from heaven in the form of manna and quails; when they were thirsty he gave them an inexhaustible spring of water, bubbling from the rock. He gave them victory over enemies that attacked them; he made the Jordan flow backwards for them; he took the land he had promised them and divided it between them according to their tribes and clans. Although he had dealt with them so lovingly and generously, the ungrateful people abandoned the worship of God, as if they had utterly forgotten everything, and shackled themselves with the crime of idol-worship – not once but many times.
Then God took us, although we were pagans, and irresistibly drawn towards dumb idols, if anything. He cut us off from the wild olive tree of our gentile nature and grafted us on to the true olive tree of the Jewish people, pruning away its existing branches and making us sharers in its grace, its richness, and the nourishment that came from its roots. Finally God did not spare his own Son but gave him up to benefit us all, a victim and fragrant offering to God to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify a people so that it could be his very own.
All these things are not mere arguments but genuine signs of God’s love and God’s generosity. We men, on the other hand, are supremely ungrateful: we have gone far beyond the boundaries of all previous ingratitude. We pay no attention to God’s love, we do not recognise the scale of his generosity, but we spurn the source and giver of all these good things and practically hold him in contempt. Not even the outstanding mercy he shows to sinners moves us to order our lives and actions according to his holy law.
Clearly these acts of God deserve to be written down in the next generation, so that they are remembered for ever. Thus all who in future bear the name of Christians will recognise God’s goodness to us and will never at any time cease from offering praise to him.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas

From a conference by Saint Thomas Aquinas, priest
The Cross exemplifies every virtue
Why did the Son of God have to suffer for us? There was a great need, and it can be considered in a twofold way: in the first place, as a remedy for sin, and secondly, as an example of how to act.
It is a remedy, for, in the face of all the evils which we incur on account of our sins, we have found relief through the passion of Christ. Yet, it is no less an example, for the passion of Christ completely suffices to fashion our lives. Whoever wishes to live perfectly should do nothing but disdain what Christ disdained on the cross and desire what he desired, for the cross exemplifies every virtue.
If you seek the example of love: Greater love than this no man has, than to lay down his life for his friends. Such a man was Christ on the cross. And if he gave his life for us, then it should not be difficult to bear whatever hardships arise for his sake.
If you seek patience, you will find no better example than the cross. Great patience occurs in two ways: either when one patiently suffers much, or when one suffers things which one is able to avoid and yet does not avoid. Christ endured much on the cross, and did so patiently, because when he suffered he did not threaten; he was led like a sheep to the slaughter and he did not open his mouth. Therefore Christ’s patience on the cross was great. In patience let us run for the prize set before us, looking upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who, for the joy set before him, bore his cross and despised the shame.
If you seek an example of humility, look upon the crucified one, for God wished to be judged by Pontius Pilate and to die.
If you seek an example of obedience, follow him who became obedient to the Father even unto death. For just as by the disobedience of one man, namely, Adam, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one man, many were made righteous.
If you seek an example of despising earthly things, follow him who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Upon the cross he was stripped, mocked, spat upon, struck, crowned with thorns, and given only vinegar and gall to drink.
Do not be attached, therefore, to clothing and riches, because they divided my garments among themselves. Nor to honours, for he experienced harsh words and scourgings. Nor to greatness of rank, for weaving a crown of thorns they placed it on my head. Nor to anything delightful, for in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Saints Timothy and Titus

From a homily by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop
I have fought the good fight
Though housed in a narrow prison, Paul dwelt in heaven. He accepted beatings and wounds more readily than others reach out for rewards. Sufferings he loved as much as prizes; indeed he regarded them as his prizes, and therefore called them a grace or gift. Reflect on what this means. To depart and be with Christ was certainly a reward, while remaining in the flesh meant struggle. Yet such was his longing for Christ that he wanted to defer his reward and remain amid the fight; those were his priorities.
Now, to be separated from the company of Christ meant struggle and pain for Paul; in fact, it was a greater affliction than any struggle or pain would be. On the other hand, to be with Christ was a matchless reward. Yet, for the sake of Christ, Paul chose the separation.
But, you may say: “Because of Christ, Paul found all this pleasant.” I cannot deny that, for he derived intense pleasure from what saddens us. I need not think only of perils and hardships. It was true even of the intense sorrow that made him cry out: Who is weak that I do not share the weakness? Who is scandalised that I am not consumed with indignation?
I urge you not simply to admire but also to imitate this splendid example of virtue, for, if we do, we can share his crown as well.
Are you surprised at my saying that if you have Paul’s merits, you will share that same reward? Then listen to Paul himself: I have fought the good fight, I have run the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth a crown of justice awaits me, and the Lord, who is a just judge, will give it to me on that day – and not to me alone, but to those who desire his coming. You see how he calls all to share the same glory?
Now, since the same crown of glory is offered to all, let us eagerly strive to become worthy of these promised blessings.
In thinking of Paul we should not consider only his noble and lofty virtues or the strong and ready will that disposed him for such great graces. We should also realise that he shares our nature in every respect. If we do, then even what is very difficult will seem to us easy and light; we shall work hard during the short time we have on earth and someday we shall wear the incorruptible, immortal crown. This we shall do by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom all glory and power belongs now and always through endless ages. Amen.


God bless you all.
Finally, just this morning, Paypal let me withdraw a donation. You will notice that I have removed the donate botton from the blog. I have never had to practice patience so much as with this organization. It took nearly 3 weeks to transfer the money to my bank. So, I have learned my lesson and no more pay pal for me. I am sorry that many folks liked it but it is so complicated I just can't do it again. If you wish to donate, let me know and I will send you my bank account number so you can send or drop it by the Bank of America.

I am out of petrol so there will be no blog for at least a week. Sorry for the interruption. Most of the petrol went to solve the paypal problem. I had to spend hours just attempting to get the donation to my bank.

Pax et Bonum

Brother Dismas

Sunday, January 24, 2010

From the constitution on the sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council

Christ is present to his Church
Christ is always present to his Church, especially in the actions of the liturgy. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, in the person of the minister (it is the same Christ who formerly offered himself on the cross that now offers by the ministry of priests) and most of all under the eucharistic species. He is present in the sacraments by his power, in such a way that when someone baptises, Christ himself baptises. He is present in his word, for it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church. Finally, he is present when the Church prays and sings, for he himself promised: Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst.
Indeed, in this great work which gives perfect glory to God and brings holiness to men, Christ is always joining in partnership with himself his beloved Bride, the Church, which calls upon its Lord and through him gives worship to the eternal Father.
It is therefore right to see the liturgy as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ, in which through signs addressed to the senses man’s sanctification is signified and, in a way proper to each of these signs, made effective, and in which public worship is celebrated in its fullness by the mystical body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the head and by his members.
Accordingly, every liturgical celebration, as an activity of Christ the priest and of his body, which is the Church, is a sacred action of a pre-eminent kind. No other action of the Church equals its title to power or its degree of effectiveness.
In the liturgy on earth we are given a foretaste and share in the liturgy of heaven, celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem, the goal of our pilgrimage, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God, as minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle. With the whole company of heaven we sing a hymn of praise to the Lord; as we reverence the memory of the saints, we hope to have some part with them, and to share in their fellowship; we wait for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ, until he, who is our life, appears, and we appear with him in glory.
By an apostolic tradition taking its origin from the very day of Christ’s resurrection, the Church celebrates the paschal mystery every eighth day, the day that is rightly called the Lord’s day. On Sunday the Christian faithful ought to gather together, so that by listening to the word of God and sharing in the Eucharist they may recall the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God who has given them a new birth with a lively hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The Lord’s day is therefore the first and greatest festival, one to be set before the loving devotion of the faithful and impressed upon it, so that it may be also a day of joy and of freedom from work. Other celebrations must not take precedence over it, unless they are truly of the greatest importance, since it is the foundation and the kernel of the whole liturgical year.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

St Irenaeus, "Against the heresies"

The pure offering made by the Church
The Lord taught the Church to make an offering throughout the whole world, and God accepts this as a pure sacrifice. It is not that God needs any sacrifice that we might offer, but that whoever offers something is glorified in the act of offering – if, that is, his gift is accepted. Making a gift to a king shows our honour and loyalty to him – and it was because the Lord wanted us to make our offerings in all innocence and without ulterior motives that he said: When you are offering your gift at the altar, and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there at the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother, and then come back and offer your gift.
We ought to offer to God the first fruits of his creation, as even Moses said: Do not come empty-handed into the presence of the Lord your God. Thus whatever we are grateful for, we can show our gratitude to God by gifts and receive back the honour that God can give us.
The new law does not abolish offerings. There were offerings under the old law and there are offerings now. Then, sacrifice was made by the people, now it is made by the Church. The only change is that the sacrifice is not now offered by slaves but by free men. The Lord remains one and the same – but an offering made by a slave is of a characteristic kind, and so too is an offering made by a free man: its nature is a sign of his free status. With God, nothing is purposeless, or meaningless, or without a good reason. Thus under the old law they consecrated one tenth of their possessions, while those who have received their freedom set aside everything they have for the Lord’s use. They cheerfully and freely give more than the bare minimum because they have more than the bare minimum of hope. The poor widow put all that she possessed into the Temple treasury.
For we must make an offering to God, and show ourselves in every way grateful to him who made us – in purity of thought, in sincerity of faith, in fervent hope and burning love – as we offer the first fruits of the things he has created and that are his. This offering the Church makes alone to her creator, making it with gratitude from his creation.
For we are offering him the things that are his, preaching our fellowship and union and proclaiming the resurrection of body and soul. Just as bread that comes from the earth, once the words of consecration have been said, is no longer ordinary bread but becomes the Eucharist, made of two things, earthly and heavenly, so our bodies, receiving it, are no longer corruptible but have the hope of resurrection within them.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Diadochus of Photiké "On Spiritual Perfection"

We should love God alone
Whoever is in love with himself is unable to love God. The man who loves God is the one who abandons his self-love for the sake of the immeasurable blessings of divine love. Such a man never seeks his own glory but only the glory of God. If a person loves himself he seeks his own glory, but the man who loves God loves the glory of his Creator.
Anyone alive to the love of God can be recognised from the way he constantly strives to glorify him by fulfilling all his commandments and by delighting in his own submission. It is fitting that God should receive glory, because of his great majesty; but it is fitting for us as human beings to submit ourselves to God and thereby become his friends. Then we too will rejoice in his glory as Saint John the Baptist did, and we shall never stop repeating: His fame must increase, but mine must diminish.
I knew someone who was sad that he could not love God as he would wanted, but who nevertheless loved God so much that his soul was always in the grip of desire for God, for God’s glory to manifest itself in him, for himself to be as nothing in comparison. Such a person cannot be touched by verbal praise or convinced of his being, since his overwhelming humility means that he simply does not think about his own dignity or status. He celebrates the liturgy as, according to the law, priests should; but his love of God blinds him to all awareness of his own dignity. He buries any glory that might come his way in the depth of his love of God, so that he never sees himself as anything more than a useless servant: he is estranged, as it were, from a sense of his own dignity by his desire for lowliness. This is the sort of thing we ought to do, to flee from any honour or glory that is offered us, for the sake of the immense riches of our love of God who has so loved us.
Anyone who loves God in the depths of his heart has already been loved by God. In fact, the measure of a man’s love for God depends upon how deeply aware he is of God’s love for him. When this awareness is keen it makes whoever possesses it long to be enlightened by the divine light, and this longing is so intense that it seems to penetrate his very bones. He loses all consciousness of himself and is entirely transformed by the love of God.
Such a man lives in this life and at the same time does not live in it, for although he still inhabits his body, he is constantly leaving it in spirit because of the love that draws him toward God. Once the love of God has released him from self-love, the flame of divine love never ceases to burn in his heart and he remains united to God by an irresistible longing. As St Paul says: If we are taken out of ourselves it is for the love of God; if we are brought back to our senses it is for your sake

Thursday, January 21, 2010

From a treatise On Virgins by Saint Ambrose, bishop

Too young to be punished, yet old enough for a martyr's crown
Today is the birthday of a virgin; let us imitate her purity. It is the birthday of a martyr; let us offer ourselves in sacrifice. It is the birthday of Saint Agnes, who is said to have suffered martyrdom at the age of twelve. The cruelty that did not spare her youth shows all the more clearly the power of faith in finding one so young to bear it witness.
There was little or no room in that small body for a wound. Though she could scarcely receive the blow, she could rise superior to it. Girls of her age cannot bear even their parents’ frowns and, pricked by a needle, weep as for a serious wound. Yet she shows no fear of the blood-stained hands of her executioners. She stands undaunted by heavy, clanking chains. She offers her whole body to be put to the sword by fierce soldiers. She is too young to know of death, yet is ready to face it. Dragged against her will to the altars, she stretches out her hands to the Lord in the midst of the flames, making the triumphant sign of Christ the victor on the altars of sacrilege. She puts her neck and hands in iron chains, but no chain can hold fast her tiny limbs.
A new kind of martyrdom! Too young to be punished, yet old enough for a martyr’s crown; unfitted for the contest, yet effortless in victory, she shows herself a master in valour despite the handicap of youth. As a bride she would not be hastening to join her husband with the same joy she shows as a virgin on her way to punishment, crowned not with flowers but with holiness of life, adorned not with braided hair but with Christ himself.
In the midst of tears, she sheds no tears herself. The crowds marvel at her recklessness in throwing away her life untasted, as if she had already lived life to the full. All are amazed that one not yet of legal age can give her testimony to God. So she succeeds in convincing others of her testimony about God, though her testimony in human affairs could not yet be accepted. What is beyond the power of nature, they argue, must come from its creator.
What menaces there were from the executioner, to frighten her; what promises made, to win her over; what influential people desired her in marriage! She answered: “To hope that any other will please me does wrong to my Spouse. I will be his who first chose me for himself. Executioner, why do you delay? If eyes that I do not want can desire this body, then let it perish.” She stood still, she prayed, she offered her neck.
You could see fear in the eyes of the executioner, as if he were the one condemned; his right hand trembled, his face grew pale as he saw the girl’s peril, while she had no fear for herself. One victim, but a twin martyrdom, to modesty and to religion; Agnes preserved her virginity, and gained a martyr’s crown.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

St.Fabian, St. Sebastian and Blessed Cyprian Michael Tansi

Today I wanted to bring Blessed Cyprian Michael Tansi to your attention. Although today's reading is for St. Fabian, written by St. Cyprian, we often forget that the church has not stopped canonizing saints or making holy people Blessed. Today is the feast day of Michael Tansi, an african, and his brief biography states:

Father Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi was born in Nigeria in 1903. He was brought up by the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) and trained as a teacher and a catechist. Later he decided to join the seminary and in 1937 he was ordained a priest. In 1950 he left his Diocese in order to go to England where he joined the Cistercian Abbey of Mount St Bernard. He had been singled out as the ideal candidate to be trained in England and then return to establish a Trappist Monastery in the Diocese of Onitsha in Nigeria. Fr Tansi lived the monastic life with great faith and humility. Absorbed in prayer, he was a living example of patience and charity. Early in 1964 he was diagnosed with aortic aneurysm and died two weeks later on 20 January 1964

Letters of St Cyprian
Fabian shows us an example of faith and strength
When St Cyprian had learnt of Pope Fabian’s death, he sent this letter to the presbyters and deacons of Rome (250AD):
When the report of the departure of the excellent man, my colleague, was still uncertain among us, my beloved brethren, and I was wavering doubtfully in my opinion on the matter, I received a letter sent to me from you by Crementius the sub-deacon, in which I was fully informed of his glorious end; and I rejoiced greatly that the integrity of his administration had been matched by the nobility of his end.
I greatly congratulate you that you honour his memory with so public and illustrious a testimony, through which you have made known to me not only the memory of your bishop, which confers glory upon you, but also an example of faith and strength that I should follow.
For just as the fall of a bishop tends to bring about the ruinous fall of his followers, so it is a useful and helpful thing when, by the firmness of his faith, a bishop becomes manifest to his brethren as an object of imitation.
Before receiving the above letter, the Church of Rome wrote to Cyprian, bearing witness to its steadfastness in persecution:
The church stands in faith, even though some have been driven to fall by sheer terror, whether because they were people of some eminence or that, when they were seized, they were overwhelmed by the fear of man. We did not abandon these people, although they were separated from us, but exhort them, and exhort them still, to repent, so that they may somehow receive pardon from Him who is able to pardon them, and so that they should not, by being deserted by us, become worse.
So you see, brethren, that you ought to do the same, so that even those who have fallen may be brought to their senses by your exhortation, and confess, if they are seized once more, and so make amends for their former sin. You have other duties too, which we have added here. For example, if anyone who has fallen into this temptation begins to be taken with sickness, and repents of what he has done, and desires communion, it must be granted to them in any case. And if you have widows or bedridden people who cannot maintain themselves, or people who are in prison or otherwise excluded from their own dwellings, they must always have someone to minister to them. Moreover, catechumens who are taken ill should not be disappointed in their hopes, but should also be given help.
The brethren who are in chains greet you, as do the elders and the whole Church, which also, with the deepest anxiety, keeps watch over all who call on the Lord. And we too ask that you in your turn should remember us.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

From a letter to the Corinthians by Saint Clement I, pope

Who can express the binding power of divine love?
Let the man truly possessed by the love of Christ keep his commandments. Who can express the binding power of divine love? Who can find words for the splendour of its beauty? Beyond all description are the heights to which it lifts us. Love unites us to God; it cancels innumerable sins, has no limits to its endurance, bears everything patiently. Love is neither servile nor arrogant. It does not provoke schisms or form cliques, but always acts in harmony with others. By it all God’s chosen ones have been sanctified; without it, it is impossible to please him. Out of love the Lord took us to himself; because he loved us and it was God’s will, our Lord Jesus Christ gave his life’s blood for us – he gave his body for our body, his soul for our soul.
See then, beloved, what a great and wonderful thing love is, and how inexpressible its perfection. Who are worthy to possess it unless God makes them so? To him therefore we must turn, begging of his mercy that there may be found in us a love free from human partiality and beyond reproach. Every generation from Adam’s time to ours has passed away; but those who by God’s grace were made perfect in love have a dwelling now among the saints, and when at last the kingdom of Christ appears, they will be revealed. Take shelter in your rooms for a little while, says Scripture, until my wrath subsides. Then I will remember the good days, and will raise you from your graves.
Happy are we, beloved, if love enables us to live in harmony and in the observance of God’s commandments, for then it will also gain for us the remission of our sins. Scripture pronounces happy those whose transgressions are pardoned, whose sins are forgiven. Happy the man, it says, to whom the Lord imputes no fault, on whose lips there is no guile. This is the blessing given those whom God has chosen through Jesus Christ our Lord. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, January 18, 2010

PAYPAL warning....DO NOT USE


Please do not use paypal to donate for the time being. I have a donation that has been held in paypal for two weeks and with it, numerous customer service e-mails to tell me how to solve the problem of how to transfer the funds. It is obvious from these customer service letters that they have noe idea of what I need to know. I have had about 15 different answers and in the meanwhile the donation is still in paypal and I cannot move it to my back account until January 25. The gift was to help complete the roof on the hermitage and tomorrow the work will stop because there are no funds. This is so hard for me to remain patient while I know the money is there.
If any one would care to donate to this roofing fund please send any donation via western union to Brother Dismas in The Gambia. Then just send me an e-mail with the transfer number and be sure to use the question who is your favorite answer is Sr. Theresa Mary. This is the only way to get funds here right away and I am really desperate.
I will be removing the PAYPAL donate button to be sure after I have the donation in my bank account but please...DO NOT USE PAYPAL. Many thanks and if you can help I need help right away.
An other way to donate, but still slower but safer, is to write me an e-mail and I can give you my bank account number then you can mail or drop it off your donation at a Bank of America but Western union is the fastest and easiest to use. Plus the charge is less than Paypal. Right now I am so anti paypal I would like to shout it to the mountains but it would do no good and they don't even care. Sorry for my impatience with this company, please pray for me.
God bless you

Brother dismas
Penitent Hermit of Divine Mercy

From a letter to the Ephesians by Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr

Have faith in Christ, and love
Try to gather together more frequently to give thanks to God and to praise him. For when you come together frequently, Satan’s powers are undermined, and the destruction he threatens is done away with in the unanimity of your faith. Nothing is better than peace, in which all warfare between heaven and earth is brought to an end.
None of this will escape you if you have perfect faith and love toward Jesus Christ. These are the beginning and the end of life: faith the beginning, love the end. When these two are found together, there is God, and everything else concerning right living follows from them. No one professing faith sins; no one possessing love hates. “A tree is known by its fruit.” So those who profess to belong to Christ will be known by what they do. For the work we are about is not a matter of words here and now, but depends on the power of faith and on being found faithful to the end.
It is better to remain silent and to be than to talk and not be. Teaching is good if the teacher also acts. Now there was one teacher who “spoke, and it was made,” and even what he did in silence is worthy of the Father. He who has the word of Jesus can truly listen also to his silence, in order to be perfect, that he may act through his speech and be known by his silence. Nothing is hidden from the Lord, but even our secrets are close to him. Let us then do everything in the knowledge that he is dwelling within us so that we may be his temples and he may be God within us. He is, and will reveal himself, in our sight, according to the love we bear him in holiness.
“Make no mistake,” my brothers: those who corrupt families “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” If those who do these things in accordance with the flesh have died, how much worse will it be if one corrupts through evil doctrine the faith of God for which Jesus was crucified. Such a person, because he is defiled, will depart into the unquenchable fire, as will any one who listens to him.
For the Lord received anointing on his head in order that he might breathe incorruptibility on the Church. Do not be anointed with the evil odour of the teachings of the prince of this world, do not let him lead you captive away from the life that is set before you. But why is it that we are not all wise when we have received the knowledge of God, which is Jesus Christ? Why do we perish in our stupidity, not knowing the gift the Lord has truly sent us?
My spirit is given over to the humble service of the cross which is a stumbling block to unbelievers but to us salvation and eternal life.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

From the Letter to the Ephesians by Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr

The harmony of unity
It is right for you to give glory in every way to Jesus Christ who has given glory to you; you must be made holy in all things by being united in perfect obedience, in submission to the bishop and the presbyters.
I am not giving you orders as if I were a person of importance. Even if I am a prisoner for the name of Christ, I am not yet made perfect in Jesus Christ. I am now beginning to be a disciple and I am speaking to you as my fellow-disciples. It is you who should be strengthening me by your faith, your encouragement, your patience, your serenity. But since love will not allow me to be silent about you, I am taking the opportunity to urge you to be united in conformity with the mind of God. For Jesus Christ, our life, without whom we cannot live, is the mind of the Father, just as the bishops, appointed over the whole earth, are in conformity with the mind of Jesus Christ.
It is fitting, therefore, that you should be in agreement with the mind of the bishop as in fact you are. Your excellent presbyters, who are a credit to God, are as suited to the bishop as strings to a harp. So in your harmony of mind and heart the song you sing is Jesus Christ. Every one of you should form a choir, so that, in harmony of sound through harmony of hearts, and in unity taking the note from God, you may sing with one voice through Jesus Christ to the Father. If you do this, he will listen to you and see from your good works that you are members of his Son. It is then an advantage to you to live in perfect unity, so that at all times you may share in God.
If in a short space of time I have become so close a friend of your bishop – in a friendship not based on nature but on spiritual grounds – how much more blessed do I judge you to be, for you are as united with him as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ to the Father, so that all things are in harmony through unity. Let no one make any mistake: unless a person is within the sanctuary, he is deprived of God’s bread. For if the prayer of one or two has such power, how much more has the prayer of the bishop and the whole Church.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

From a letter to the Corinthians by Saint Clement I, pope

From the first, faith has been God's means of justifying men
God’s blessing must be our objective, and the way to win it our study. Search the records of ancient times. Why was our father Abraham blessed? Was it not because his upright and straightforward conduct was inspired by faith? As for Isaac’s faith, it was so strong that, assured of the outcome, he willingly allowed himself to be offered in sacrifice. Jacob had the humility to leave his native land on account of his brother, and go and serve Laban. He was given the twelve tribes of Israel.
Honest reflection upon each of these examples will make us realise the magnitude of God’s gifts. All the priests and levites who served the altar of God were descended from Jacob. The manhood of the Lord Jesus derived from him. Through the tribe of Judah, kings, princes and rulers sprang from him. Nor are his other tribes without their honour, for God promised Abraham: “Your descendants shall be as the stars of heaven.”
It is obvious, therefore, that none of these owed their honour and exaltation to themselves, or to their own labours, or to their deeds of virtue. No; they owed everything to God’s will. So likewise with us, who by his will are called in Christ Jesus. We are not justified by our wisdom, intelligence, piety, or by any action of ours, however holy, but by faith, the one means by which God has justified men from the beginning. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
What must we do then, brothers? Give up good works? Stop practising Christian love? God forbid! We must be ready and eager for every opportunity to do good, and put our whole heart into it. Even the Creator and Lord of the universe rejoices in his works. By his supreme power he set the heavens in their place; by his infinite wisdom he gave them their order. He separated the land from the waters surrounding it and made his own will its firm foundation. By his command he brought to life the beasts that roam the earth. He created the sea and all its living creatures, and then by his power set bounds to it. Finally, with his own holy and undefiled hands, he formed man, the highest and most intelligent of his creatures, the copy of his own image. “Let us make man,” God said, “in our image and likeness. And God made man, male and female he made them.” Then, when he had finished making all his creatures, God gave them his approval and blessing: “Increase and multiply,” he charged them.
We must recognise, therefore, that all upright men have been graced by good works, and that even the Lord himself took delight in the glory his works gave him. This should inspire us with a resolute determination to do his will and make us put our whole strength into the work of living a Christian life.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Let us pray with the Haitians

for there recent disaster. Not getting the news here each day can sometimes have its disavantages like not hearing about the terrible disaster until last evenings news on BBC radio.
It certainly is enough to make any one of us weep for those who have last their families, friends; their homes and all their belongings. What can we do to help them. One way is to volunteer to go and assist, another is to contribute funds, but the one that we know doeswork is prayer. It always sounds trite when we say let us pray for these people but it is what all of us can do and we know that God hears our prayers.
Many want to blame God for terrible things such as earthquakes, tsunamis, avalanches and other horrible disasters and that is just an easy way to ty and understand why these things happen.
Todays reading from St. Athanasius speaks so well about the divine harmony in creation. It does not answer the obvious question but perhaps it will help us to see that even these disasters are part of that harmony. How or why I can't answer but I'm sure you can read on the internet what scholars and theologians are saying. You should look at the articles to gain insight into this Divine Harmony.

From a Discourse Against the Pagans by Saint Athanasius, bishop

The Word creates a divine harmony in creation
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made. In these words John the theologian teaches that nothing exists or remains in being except in and through the Word.
Think of a musician tuning his lyre. By his skill he adjusts high notes to low and intermediate notes to the rest, and produces a series of harmonies. So too the wisdom of God holds the world like a lyre and joins things in the air to those on earth, and things in heaven to those in the air, and brings each part into harmony with the whole. By his decree and will he regulates them all to produce the beauty and harmony of a single, well-ordered universe. While remaining unchanged with his Father, he moves all creation by his unchanging nature, according to the Father’s will. To everything he gives existence and life in accordance with its nature, and so creates a wonderful and truly divine harmony.
To illustrate this profound mystery, let us take the example of a choir of many singers. A choir is composed of a variety of men, women and children, of both old and young. Under the direction of one conductor, each sings in the way that is natural for him: men with men’s voices, boys with boys’ voices, old people with old voices, young people with young voices. Yet all of them produce a single harmony. Or consider the example of our soul. It moves our senses according to their several functions so that in the presence of a single object they all act simultaneously: the eye sees, the ear hears, the hand touches, the nose smells, the tongue tastes, and often the other parts of the body act as well as, for example, the feet may walk.
Although this is only a poor comparison, it gives some idea of how the whole universe is governed. The Word of God has but to give a gesture of command and everything falls into place; each creature performs its own proper function, and all together constitute one single harmonious order.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thursday of week 1 of the year

From a discourse Against the Pagans by Saint Athanasius, bishop
The word of the Father gives order, direction and unity to creation
By his own wisdom and Word, who is our Lord and Saviour Christ, the all-holy Father (whose excellence far exceeds that of any creature), like a skilful steersman guides to safety all creation, regulating and keeping it in being, as he judges right. It is right that creation should exist as he has made it and as we see it happening, because this is his will, which no one would deny. For if the movement of the universe were irrational, and the world rolled on in random fashion, one would be justified in disbelieving what we say. But if the world is founded on reason, wisdom and science, and is filled with orderly beauty, then it must owe its origin and order to none other than the Word of God.
He is God, the living and creative God of the universe, the word of the good God, who is God in his own right. The Word is different from all created things: he is the unique Word belonging only to the good Father. This is the Word that created this whole world and enlightens it by his loving wisdom. He who is the good Word of the good Father produced the order in all creation, joining opposites together, and forming from them one harmonious sound. He is God, one and only-begotten, who proceeds in goodness from the Father as from the fountain of goodness, and gives order, direction and unity to creation.
By his eternal Word the Father created all things and implanted a nature in his creatures. He did not want to see them tossed about at the mercy of their own natures, and so be reduced to nothingness. But in his goodness he governs and sustains the whole of nature by his Word (who is himself also God), so that under the guidance, providence and ordering of that Word, the whole of nature might remain stable and coherent in his light. Nature was to share in the Father’s Word, whose reality is true, and be helped by him to exist, for without him it would cease to be. For unless the Word, who is the very “image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation,” kept it in existence it could not exist. For whatever exists, whether visible or invisible, remains in existence through him and in him, and he is also the head of the Church, as we are taught by the ministers of truth in their sacred writings.
The almighty and most holy Word of the Father pervades the whole of reality, everywhere unfolding his power and shining on all things visible and invisible. He sustains it all and binds it all together in himself. He leaves nothing devoid of his power but gives life and keeps it in being throughout all of creation and in each individual creature.

From the treatise Against Heresies by Saint Irenaeus, bishop

Knowledge of the Father consists in the self-revelation of the Son
No one can know the Father apart from God’s Word, that is, unless the Son reveals him, and no one can know the Son unless the Father so wills. Now the Son fulfils the Father’s good pleasure: the Father sends, the Son is sent, and he comes. The Father is beyond our sight and comprehension; but he is known by his Word, who tells us of him who surpasses all telling. In turn, the Father alone has knowledge of his Word. And the Lord has revealed both truths. Therefore, the Son reveals the knowledge of the Father by his revelation of himself. Knowledge of the Father consists in the self-revelation of the Son, for all is revealed through the Word.
The Father’s purpose in revealing the Son was to make himself known to us all and so to welcome into eternal rest those who believe in him, establishing them in justice, preserving them from death. To believe in him means to do his will.
Through creation itself the Word reveals God the Creator. Through the world he reveals the Lord who made the world. Through all that is fashioned he reveals the craftsman who fashioned it all. Through the Son the Word reveals the Father who begot him as Son. All speak of these things in the same language, but they do not believe them in the same way. Through the law and the prophets the Word revealed himself and his Father in the same way, and though all the people equally heard the message not all equally believed it. Through the Word, made visible and palpable, the Father was revealed, though not all equally believed in him. But all saw the Father in the Son, for the Father of the Son cannot be seen, but the Son of the Father can be seen. The Son performs everything as a ministry to the Father, from beginning to end, and without the Son no one can know God. The way to know the Father is the Son. Knowledge of the Son is in the Father, and is revealed through the Son. For this reason the Lord said: No one knows the Son except the Father; and no one knows the Father except the Son, and those to whom the Son has revealed him. The word “revealed” refers not only to the future – as though the Word began to reveal the Father only when he was born of Mary; it refers equally to all time. From the beginning the Son is present to creation, reveals the Father to all, to those the Father chooses, when the Father chooses, and as the Father chooses. So, there is in all and through all one God the Father, one Word and Son, and one Spirit, and one salvation for all who believe in him.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The ability to love is within each of us

From the Detailed Rules for Monks by St. Basil the Great, bishop
Love of God is not something that can be taught. We did not learn from someone else how to rejoice in light or want to live, or to love our parents or guardians. It is the same – perhaps even more so – with our love for God: it does not come by another’s teaching. As soon as the living creature (that is, man) comes to be, a power of reason is implanted in us like a seed, containing within it the ability and the need to love. When the school of God’s law admits this power of reason, it cultivates it diligently, skilfully nurtures it, and with God’s help brings it to perfection.
For this reason, as by God’s gift, I find you with the zeal necessary to attain this end, and you on your part help me with your prayers. I will try to fan into flame the spark of divine love that is hidden within you, as far as I am able through the power of the Holy Spirit.
First, let me say that we have already received from God the ability to fulfil all his commands. We have then no reason to resent them, as if something beyond our capacity were being asked of us. We have no reason either to be angry, as if we had to pay back more than we had received. When we use this ability in a right and fitting way, we lead a life of virtue and holiness. But if we misuse it, we fall into sin.
This is the definition of sin: the misuse of powers given us by God for doing good, a use contrary to God’s commands. On the other hand, the virtue that God asks of us is the use of the same powers based on a good conscience in accordance with God’s command.
Since this is so, we can say the same about love. Since we received a command to love God, we possess from the first moment of our existence an innate power and ability to love. The proof of this is not to be sought outside ourselves, but each one can learn this from himself and in himself. It is natural for us to want things that are good and pleasing to the eye, even though at first different things seem beautiful and good to different people. In the same way, we love what is related to us or near to us, though we have not been taught to do so, and we spontaneously feel well disposed to our benefactors.
What, I ask, is more wonderful than the beauty of God? What thought is more pleasing and wonderful than God’s majesty? What desire is as urgent and overpowering as the desire implanted by God in a soul that is completely purified of sin and cries out in its love: I am wounded by love? The radiance of divine beauty is altogether beyond the power of words to describe.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A letter of Pope St Clement I to the Corinthians

All wisdom comes from the Word of God on high
We shall pray without ceasing to the Creator of all things, and beg him to preserve the number of his elect throughout the whole world, through his beloved son Jesus Christ, and not let a single one of them fall away.
Through him you called us from darkness into light and gave us the knowledge of the glory of your name. He taught us to hope in you, from whom all creation has its being. He opened our eyes so that we would recognise you, most high among the highest, holy and surrounded by holiness. You put an end to the pride of the arrogant, you frustrate the plans of the gentiles, you raise up the lowly and bring down those who are exalted. You give riches and give poverty, you dispense both death and life. You succour every spirit, you are the God of all flesh. You behold what is hidden in the depths, you see all that men do. You give help to those in peril and rescue to those without hope. You create all that has breath and watch over it; you multiply the peoples of the earth, and from among them you choose those who love you through Jesus Christ your beloved Son, through whom you give us wisdom, holiness, and honour.
We beg you, Lord, to be our help and our support. Free us from our troubles; take pity on the lowly; raise up those who have fallen; give help to the poor, health to the sick, and bring home those who have wandered away. Feed the hungry, ransom captives, give strength to the weak and courage to the faint-hearted. Let all peoples come to know that you alone are God, that Jesus Christ is your son, and that we are your people and the sheep of your flock.
For by your acts you made visible the everlasting structure of the Universe and set the Earth on its foundations. For all generations you have been faithful and just in your judgements, and wonderful in your power and majesty. Wisely you have created, and wisely you have kept things in being. All that we see shows your goodness; to all who trust in you, you are faithful, kind, and merciful. Forgive us our wickednesses and injustices, our sins and our transgressions.
Do not weigh down your servants with the burden of their sins, but purify us and direct the paths we take so that we go forward in purity and innocence of heart, so that all that we do is good and acceptable to you and to those who lead us.
Come, Lord, let your face shine upon us so that we may peacefully enjoy all good things. May your powerful hand be a roof over our heads and may your strength preserve us from all wrongdoing. Free us, Lord, from those who hate us without cause. Give peace and harmony to us and to all the inhabitants of the Earth, as you gave them to our fathers who called on you with trust and faith.
You alone can give us these gifts and confer these favours on us. We put our trust in you through Jesus Christ, our high priest, the guardian of our souls. Through him be glory and majesty to you now and through all generations until the end of time. Amen.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A sermon by St Proclus of Constantinople

The waters are made holy
Christ appeared in the world, and, bringing beauty out of disarray, gave it lustre and joy. He bore the world’s sin and crushed the world’s enemy. He sanctified the fountains of waters and enlightened the minds of men. Into the fabric of miracles he interwove ever greater miracles.
For on this day land and sea share between them the grace of the Saviour, and the whole world is filled with joy. Today’s feast of the Epiphany manifests even more wonders than the feast of Christmas.
On the feast of the Saviour’s birth, the earth rejoiced because it bore the Lord in a manger; but on today’s feast of the Epiphany it is the sea that is glad and leaps for joy; the sea is glad because it receives the blessing of holiness in the river Jordan.
At Christmas we saw a weak baby, giving proof of our weakness. In today’s feast, we see a perfect man, hinting at the perfect Son who proceeds from the all-perfect Father. At Christmas the King puts on the royal robe of his body; at Epiphany the very source enfolds and, as it were, clothes the river.
Come then and see new and astounding miracles: the Sun of righteousness washing in the Jordan, fire immersed in water, God sanctified by the ministry of man.
Today every creature shouts in resounding song: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is he who comes in every age, for this is not his first coming.
And who is he? Tell us more clearly, I beg you, blessed David: The Lord is God and has shone upon us. David is not alone in prophesying this; the apostle Paul adds his own witness, saying: The grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all men, and instructing us. Not for some men, but for all. To Jews and Greeks alike God bestows salvation through baptism, offering baptism as a common grace for all.
Come, consider this new and wonderful deluge, greater and more important than the flood of Noah’s day. Then the water of the flood destroyed the human race, but now the water of baptism has recalled the dead to life by the power of the one who was baptised. In the days of the flood the dove with an olive branch in its beak foreshadowed the fragrance of the good odour of Christ the Lord; now the Holy Spirit, coming in the likeness of a dove, reveals the Lord of mercy.

Friday, January 8, 2010


A discourse on the Theophany by pseudo- Hippolytus
Water and the Spirit
That Jesus should come and be baptized by John is surely cause for amazement. To think of the infinite river that gladdens the city of God being bathed in a poor little stream; of the eternal and unfathomable fountainhead that gives life to all men being immersed in the shallow waters of this transient world!
He who fills all creation, leaving no place devoid of his presence, he who is incomprehensible to the angels and hidden from the sight of man, came to be baptized because it was his will. And behold, the heavens opened and a voice said: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.
The beloved Father begets love, and the immaterial Light generates light inaccessible. This is he who was called the son of Joseph and in his divine nature is my only Son.
This is my beloved Son. Though hungry himself, he feeds thousands; though weary, he refreshes those who labour. He has no place to lay his head yet he holds all creation in his hand. By his suffering he heals all sufferings; by receiving a blow on the cheek he gives the world its liberty; by being pierced in the side he heals the wound in Adam’s side.
And now, please pay close attention, for I want to return to that fountain of life and contemplate its healing waters as they gush out.
The Father of immortality sent his immortal Son and Word into the world, to come to us men and cleanse us with water and the Spirit. To give us a new birth that would make our bodies and souls immortal, he breathed into us the spirit of life and armed us with incorruptibility. Now if we become immortal, we shall also be divine; and if we become divine after rebirth in baptism through water and the Holy Spirit, we shall also be heirs along with Christ, after the resurrection of the dead.
So I cry out, like a herald: Let peoples of every nation come and receive the immortality that flows from baptism. This is the water that is linked to the Spirit, the water that irrigates Paradise, makes the earth fertile, gives growth to plants, and brings forth living creatures. In short, this is the water by which a man receives new birth and life, the water in which even Christ was baptized, the water into which the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove.
Whoever goes down into these waters of rebirth with faith renounces the devil and pledges himself to Christ. He repudiates the enemy and confesses that Christ is God, throws off his servitude and becomes an adopted son. He comes up from baptism resplendent as the sun and radiating purity and, above all, he comes as a son of God and a co-heir with Christ.
To him be glory and power, to him and his most holy, good and life-giving Spirit, both now and for ever. Amen

Read Luke 4:14 to learn more about John the Baptist and the Baptism of Jesus. It is with great interest to note that while John was in the 'desert' God spoke to him. It is the same message even today. The desert also symbolizes silence and solitude and it is only in that still ness that we can hear God speak. "Be still before the Lord".

Monday, January 4, 2010

inside andoutside the hermitage walls

First I will start with a few patients. Many had malaria and other wounds. Remember, they need your help...Please donate by clicking on the paypal button or sending to Bob shrigley

These are just for wounds....what a group

One boy with Malaria

Girl with wound on top of foot

More wounds

Is he a happy child??

Wounded leg
Broken Shoulder

What beautiful eyes,,,this boys name is Alfa and his father is a Koranic scholar.

Some folks have asked what the hermitage looked like from the other side of the wall. I usually walk the paths saying my rosary of Divine Mercy chaplet so here are a few pictures.
Bamboo in front of hermitage gate

Front Gate

Junction at side of the hermitage

Growing Casava across the road

Main road by the hermitage gate

My walking road to Madiana, a nearby village

Hansel and Gretel, the two great hermitage dogs and Lausan (Barbara Masser's schoolboy)
I hope you liked these pictures. I didn't want to put any gruesome ones with terrible wounds as it might not go over too well.
God bles you and please help!
Brother dismas Mary of the cross,
A Penitent hermit of Divine Mercy