Christ, our Light

Quotations for February, 1996

Thursday, February 1, 1996
Commemoration of Brigid, Abbess of Kildare, c.525

We distrust the providence of God, when, after we have used all our best endeavours, and begged His blessing upon them, we torment ourselves about the issue and event of things.
... John Tillotson (1630-1694), Works of Dr. John Tillotson, v. V, London: J. F. Dove, for R. Priestley, 1820, Sermon LXXXIX, p. 77 (see the book; see also Heb. 3:14; Luke 12:6-7,15; Rom. 8:28; more at Blessing, Endeavor, God, Providence, Will of God)

Friday, February 2, 1996

Setting aside the scandal caused by His Messianic claims and His reputation as a political firebrand, only two accusations of personal depravity seem to have been brought against Jesus of Nazareth. First, that He was a Sabbath-breaker. Secondly, that He was “a gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners”—or (to draw aside the veil of Elizabethan English that makes it all sound so much more respectable) that He ate too heartily, drank too freely, and kept very disreputable company, including grafters of the lowest type and ladies who were no better than they should be. For nineteen and a half centuries, the Christian Churches have laboured, not without success, to remove this unfortunate impression made by their Lord and Master. They have hustled the Magdalens from the Communion-table, founded Total Abstinence Societies in the name of Him who made the water wine, and added improvements of their own, such as various bans and anathemas upon dancing and theatre-going. They have transferred the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, and, feeling that the original commandment “Thou shalt not work” was rather half-hearted, have added to it a new commandment, “Thou shalt not play.”
... Dorothy Leigh Sayers (1893-1957), Unpopular Opinions, London: Gollancz, 1946, New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1947, p. 3 (see the book; see also Luke 7:33-35; Matt. 11:16-19; 26:6-12; John 2:7-11; more at Church, Commandment, Jesus, Sabbath, Sinner, Social, Unfortunate)

Saturday, February 3, 1996
Feast of Anskar, Archbishop of Hamburg, Missionary to Denmark and Sweden, 865

We must be willing to accept the bitter truth that, in the end, we may have to become a burden to those who love us. But it is necessary that we face this also. The full acceptance of our abjection and uselessness is the virtue that can make us and others rich in the grace of God. It takes heroic charity and humility to let others sustain us when we are absolutely incapable of sustaining ourselves.
We cannot suffer well unless we see Christ everywhere—both in suffering and in the charity of those who come to the aid of our affliction.
... Thomas Merton (1915-1968), No Man is an Island, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1955; reprint, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002, p. 93-94 (see the book; see also Luke 17:12-19; Isa. 53:3,4; Mark 1:40-41; 1 Cor. 10:27; 1 John 3:16; more at Affliction, Charity, Grace, Humility, Suffer, Weakness)

Sunday, February 4, 1996
Commemoration of Gilbert of Sempringham, Founder of the Gilbertine Order, 1189

Some there are who presume so far on their wits that they think themselves capable of measuring the whole nature of things by their intellect, in that they esteem all things true which they see, and false which they see not. Accordingly, in order that man’s mind might be freed from this presumption, and seek the truth humbly, it was necessary that certain things far surpassing his intellect should be proposed to man by God.
... Thomas Aquinas (1225?-1274), Summa Contra Gentiles [1264], Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1923, I.v, p. 10 (see the book; see also Eccl. 3:11; Dan. 4:35; Ps. 40:5; 92:5; 97:2; Isa. 55:8-9; Matt. 7:7-8; Rom. 11:33-34; more at Apologetics, Certainty, God, Nature, Sight, Thought, Truth)

Monday, February 5, 1996
Commemoration of Martyrs of Japan, 1597

A basic trouble is that most Churches limit themselves unnecessarily by addressing their message almost exclusively to those who are open to religious impressions through the intellect, whereas ... there are at least four other gateways—the emotions, the imagination, the aesthetic feeling, and the will, through which they can be reached.
... A. J. Gossip (1873-1954), From the Edge of the Crowd, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1924, p. 216 (see the book; see also Ps. 40:6-8; Jer. 36:7; Luke 12:11-12; John 7:16-17; more at Art, Church, Gospel, Imagination)

Tuesday, February 6, 1996

To have faith is to rely upon Christ, the Person, with the whole heart. It is not the understanding of the mind, not the theological opinion, not creed, not organization, not ritual. It is the koinonia of the whole personality with God and Christ. This experience of communion with Christ is itself the continual attitude of dependence on the Saviour which we call faith.
... Kokichi Kurosaki (1886-1970), One Body in Christ, Kobe, Japan: Eternal Life Press, 1954, ch. 8 (see the book; see also Phil. 4:13; Matt. 8:5-10; John 14:23; Rom. 8:35-37; 2 Cor. 12:7-10; Gal. 2:20; more at Christ, Communion, Creed, Dependence, Faith, Theology, Understanding)

Wednesday, February 7, 1996

The idea of endless and limitless progress and development seems unsatisfying both philosophically and religiously; a process only finds its meaning in its goal. However far off be the Beatific Vision, to see the King in His glory, “to know Thee and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent”—this is heaven, and “it were a well-spent journey though seven deaths lay between.”*
* from letters of Samuel Rutherford
... Nathaniel Micklem (1888-1976), Prayers and Praises, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1941, p.36 (see the book; see also Mark 13:26-27; Matt. 24:30-31; John 14:2-3; 17:3; 1 John 3:2; more at Glory, Goal, Heaven, Jesus, Journey, King, Knowing God, Meaning, Progress, Sight, Vision)

Thursday, February 8, 1996

The wonder of the life of Jesus is this—and you will find it so and you have found it so if you have ever taken your New Testament and tried to make it the rule of your daily life—that there is not a single action that you are called upon to do of which you need be, of which you will be, in any serious doubt for ten minutes as to what Jesus Christ, if He were here, Jesus Christ being here, would have you do under those circumstances and with the materials upon which you are called to act.
... Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), Addresses, Philadelphia: Henry Altemus, 1895, p. 126 (see the book; see also Matt. 5:6-9; 9:4-6; 18:21-22; Mark 6:34; 1 John 5:19-20; more at Action, Bible, Christ, Doubt, Jesus, Rule)

Friday, February 9, 1996

Lord, often have I thought to myself, I will sin but this one sin more, and then I will repent of it, and of all the rest of my sins together. So foolish was I, and ignorant. As if I should be more able to pay my debts when I owe more: or as if I should say, I will wound my friend once again, and then I will lovingly shake hands with him; but what if my friend will not shake hands with me?
... Thomas Fuller (1608-1661), Good Thoughts in Bad Times [1645], Chicago: United Society of Christian Endeavor, Boston, 1898, Personal Meditations, XXIII (see the book; see also 1 John 5:16-18; Isa. 30:1; Jer. 9:3; 2 Tim. 3:12-13; more at Debt, Folly, Friend, Prayers, Repentance, Sin)

Saturday, February 10, 1996
Commemoration of Scholastica, Abbess of Plombariola, c.543

True it is that every man willingly followeth his own bent, and is the more inclined to those who agree with him. But if Christ is amongst us, then it is necessary that we sometimes yield up our own opinion for the sake of peace. Who is so wise as to have a perfect knowledge of all things? Therefore trust not too much to thine own opinion, but be ready also to hear the opinions of others. Though thine own opinion be good, yet if for the love of God thou foregoest it, and followest that of another, thou shalt the more profit thereby.
... Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471), Of the Imitation of Christ [1418], Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1877, I.ix.2, p. 41 (see the book; see also Eph. 5:21; Rom. 12:3; 14:13-15; 1 Cor. 3:18-20; Jas. 1:19-20; 3:17-18; more at Attitudes, Christ, God, Knowledge, Love, Peace, Truth, Wisdom)

Sunday, February 11, 1996

Theologians have felt no hesitation in founding a system of speculative thought on the teachings of Jesus; and yet Jesus was never an inhabitant of the realm of speculative thought.
... Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918), Christianity and the Social Crisis, New York: Macmillan Co., 1907, p. 91 (see the book; see also Matt. 10:37-39; Mark 10:29-31; Luke 12:49-53; more at Jesus, Teach, Theology, Thought)

Monday, February 12, 1996
Commemoration of Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection (Nicolas Herman), spiritual writer, 1691

What are our lame praises in comparison with His love? Nothing, and less than nothing; but love will stammer rather than be dumb.
... Robert Leighton (1611-1684), A Practical Commentary Upon the First Epistle of St. Peter, London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1849, p. 45 (see the book; see also 1 Pet. 1:3-5; Ps. 34:1-3; Isa. 32:1-4; Col. 1:27; more at Dumbness, Love, Praise, Worship)

Tuesday, February 13, 1996

If you were to rise early every morning, as an instance of self-denial, as a method of renouncing indulgence, as a means of redeeming your time, and fitting your spirit for prayer, you would find mighty advantages from it. This method, though it seem such a small circumstance of life, would in all probability be a means of great piety. It would keep it constantly in your head, that softness and idleness were to be avoided, that self-denial was a part of Christianity... It would teach you to exercise power over yourself, and make you able by degrees to renounce other pleasures and tempers that war against the soul.
... William Law (1686-1761), A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life [1728], London: Methuen, 1899, p. 239-240 (see the book; see also Tit. 2:11-14; Matt. 10:37-38; 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23-26; Col. 1:24; 2 Tim. 3:12; more at Prayer, Renunciation, Self-control, Soul, Weakness)

Wednesday, February 14, 1996
Feast of Cyril & Methodius, Missionaries to the Slavs, 869 & 885
Commemoration of Valentine, Martyr at Rome, c.269

The offertory is the first essential action of the Liturgy, because in it we make the costly and solemn oblation, under tokens, of our very selves and all our substance; that they may be transformed, quickened, and devoted to the interests of God.
... Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941), The Mystery of Sacrifice, New York: Longmans, Green, 1938, p. 29 (see the book; see also Rom. 12:1-2; Gen. 22:12; Matt. 5:23-24; 19:21; Heb. 13:15-16; more at Devotion, God, Self-sacrifice, Worship)

Thursday, February 15, 1996
Commemoration of Thomas Bray, Priest, Founder of SPCK, 1730

I have held many things in my hands, and have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.
... Martin Luther (1483-1546) (see the book; see also Prov. 3:5-6; Matt. 6:19-21,33; 2 Tim. 1:12; 1 Pet. 5:6-7; more at Faith, God, Possession, Providence, Trust)

Friday, February 16, 1996

Life together under the Word will remain sound and healthy only where it does not form itself into a movement, an order, a society... but rather where it understands itself as being a part of the one, holy, catholic, Christian Church, where it shares actively and passively in the sufferings and struggles of the whole Church. Every principle of selection, every separation connected with it that is not necessitated quite objectively by common work, local conditions, or family connections is of the greatest danger to a Christian community. When the way of intellectual or spiritual selection is taken, the human element always insinuates itself and robs the fellowship of its spiritual power and its effectiveness for the Church, and drives it into sectarianism.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together [1954], tr. Daniel W. Bloesch & James H. Burtness, Fortress Press, 2004, p. 45 (see the book; see also Matt. 10:40; Rom. 14:1; 15:7; Gal. 6:1; 1 Thess. 5:14; 2 Thess. 3:14,15; 1 Tim. 6:3-5; more at Church, Community, Fellowship, Health, Holiness, Life, Share, Social)

Saturday, February 17, 1996
Feast of Janani Luwum, Archbishop of Uganda, Martyr, 1977

One of the principal parts of faith is patience.
... George MacDonald (1824-1905), Weighed and Wanting, Boston: D. Lothrop and Company, 1882, p. 542 (see the book; see also Ps. 37:7-9; 40:1-2; Luke 8:15; 21:17-19; Rom. 2:7; 8:25; 1 Cor. 13:4-5; Heb. 12:1; Jas. 1:3-4; more at Faith, Patience)

Sunday, February 18, 1996

Christianity is a battle—not a dream.
... Wendell Phillips (1811-1884), speech, April, 1869, recorded in Wendell Phillips: the agitator, William Carlos Martyn, New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1890, p. 368 (see the book; see also 2 Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 6:10-17; 1 Tim. 6:12; more at Battle, Definition of Christianity, Dream)

Monday, February 19, 1996

Lift up your heart to Him, sometimes even at your meals, and when you are in company; the least little remembrance will always be acceptable to Him. You need not cry very loud; he is nearer to us than we are aware of.
... Brother Lawrence (c.1605-1691), The Practice of the Presence of God, New York, Revell, 1895, Seventh Letter, p. 34 (see the book; see also Ps. 145:18; 25:1-2; 34:18; Matt. 26:26; Luke 24:30; John 14:23; 1 Tim. 2:8; Jas. 4:8; more at Awareness, Heart, Knowing God, Remembrance, Thanksgiving)

Tuesday, February 20, 1996
Commemoration of Cecile Isherwood, Founder of the Community of the Resurrection, Grahamstown, South Africa, 1906

Only those who try to live near God and have formed the habit of faithfulness to Him in the small things of our daily life, can hope in times of need for that special light which shows us our path. To do as well as we can the job immediately before us, is the way to learn what we ought to do next.
... Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941) (see also Luke 12:42-44; Matt. 25:14-30; Jas. 1:22; more at Faith, God, Hope, Life, Light, Need, Weakness)


Christ, our Light

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