Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dailly Dose of Discernment: 2/20/08

Now the reason why our fathers did not make marriage, in the middle-aged and static sense, the subject of their plays was a very simple one; it was that a play is a very bad place for discussing that topic. You cannot easily make a good drama out of the success or failure of a marriage, just as you could not make a good drama out of the growth of an oak-tree or the decay of an empire. As Polonius very reasonably observed, it is too long. A happy love-affair will make a drama simply because it is dramatic; it depends on an ultimate yes or no. But a happy marriage is not dramatic; perhaps it would be less happy if it were. The essence of a romantic heroine is that she asks herself an intense question; but the essence of a sensible wife is that she is much too sensible to ask herself any questions at all. All the things that make monogamy a success are in their nature undramatic things, the silent growth of an instinctive confidence, the common wounds and victories, the accumulation of customs, the rich maturing of old jokes. Sane marriage is an untheatrical thing; it is therefore not surprising that most modern dramatists have devoted themselves to insane marriage.
-- G. K. Chesterton, George Bernard Shaw
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We are soon to celebrate the passion of our crucified Lord. It is therefore in keeping with our commitment to him that we should crucify ourselves by restraining the desires of the flesh. As the apostle says: You cannot belong to Christ Jesus unless you crucify all your self-indulgent passions and desires. Such is the cross upon which we Christians must continually hang, since our whole lives are beset by trials and temptations. Not for us, as long as we live, to be rid of those nails we read of in the psalm: Pierce my flesh with the nails of your fear.

Flesh means the desires of our lower nature; nails, the demands of God's justice and holiness. With these the fear of the Lord pierces our flesh and fastens us to the cross as an acceptable sacrifice to him. In a similar passage the apostle Paul appeals to us by the mercy of God to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.
-- Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 205, 1

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