Tuesday, June 28, 2011



A broken ALTAR, Lord thy servant rears,
Made of a heart, and cemented with tears:
Whose parts are as thy hand did frame;
No workmans tool hath touch'd the same
A HEART alone
Is such a stone,
As nothing but
Thy pow'r doth cut.
Wherefore each part
Of my hard heart
Meets in this frame,
To praise thy Name:
That if I chance to hold my peace,
These stones to praise thee may not cease.
O let thy blessed SACRIFICE be mine,
And sanctify this ALTAR to be thine.
The Altar, by George Herbert (1633, from Herbert's poetry collection, "The Temple)

George Herbert (1593 – 1633), born in Wales, and a well-known English poet, served for many years as a priest in the Church of England. Educated at Cambridge University, he excelled in languages and music. He served for a few years in parliament before entering ministry. In 1630, while in his late thirties, he stepped into full-time life as a priest in a small parish near Salisbury, England. He is best known for his collections of sacred poetry. 

Monday, June 20, 2011


By David Robinson
(New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 2009), 165-166

Let mutual love continue. 2Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. ~Hebrews 13:1-2 (NRSV)
When I’ve visited a European cathedral I’ve often had the feeling that the inside is bigger than the outside. Step through the door of any cathedral and look up into the high vaulted ceilings and the brilliance of the rose windows. Family spirituality, like a cathedral, invites us to step into a life of hospitality. We can practice hospitality in a way that welcomes strangers and friends into our hearts—hearts that are expansive, open places filled with love and light. The more space we make for God in our hearts, the greater capacity we have to welcome others into our lives. As you bring hospitality practices into your family life you will discover greater capacity for welcoming others.

Welcoming Guests
Living in a time of tremendous unrest and instability in the early sixth century Italy, Benedict had the boldness to warmly welcome strangers at his monastery gates. All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ (RB, 53). The monasteries that sprouted up across the landscape of Europe became places of true refuge and welcome for the busy, the weary, the poor, and the homeless. Anyone who needed a bed and a meal was welcomed, not merely as another mouth to feed, but as though God himself had asked for a night’s lodging.
            Hospitable homes offer love to guests in practical ways, regardless of their wealth or status, without showing favoritism. Throughout the Bible, we read about God’s heart of mercy for the poor, the widow, the outcast, and anyone in need. Benedict echoes this concern. Great care and concern are to be shown in receiving poor people and pilgrims, because in them more particularly Christ is received; our very awe of the rich guarantees them special respect (RB, 53). Benedictine monasteries today always feature a guesthouse to welcome guests, putting into practice the principles of hospitality taught by Benedict in the Rule fifteen centuries ago. Every time I’ve visited a monastery, I’ve been warmly welcomed by the monks and made to feel as though my life was greatly valued.Family spirituality invites us to give special place in our hearts not only to friends and relatives, but also to the poor, the homeless, and the needy.

Monday, June 6, 2011


When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night 

at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, 

and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

By Wendell Berry
Collected Poems
(North Point Press, 1985).