Saturday, February 02, 2008

Daily Dose of Discernment: 2/2/08

But as I sat scrawling these silly figures on brown paper, it began to dawn on me, to my great disgust, that I had let one chalk, and that a most exquisite and essential one, behind. I searched all my pockets, but I could not find any white chalk. Now, those who are acquainted with all the philosophy (nay, religion) which is typified in the art of drawing on brown paper, know that white is positive and essential. I cannot avoid remarking here upon a moral significance. One of the wise and awful truths which this brown-paper art reveals is this: that white is a colour. It is not a mere absence of colour, it is a shining and affirmative thing: as fierce as red, as definite as black. When (so to speak) your pencil grows red hot, it draws roses; when it grows white hot, it draws stars. And one of the two or three defiant verities of the best religious morality -- of real Christianity, for example -- is exactly this same thing. The chief assertion of religious morality is that white is a colour. Virtue is not the absence of vices or the avoidance of moral dangers; virtue is a vivid and separate thing, like pain or a particular smell. Mercy does not mean not being cruel or sparing people revenge or punishment: it means a plain and positive thing like the sun, which one has either seen or not seen, Chastity does not mean abstention from sexual wrong; it means something flaming like Joan of Arc. In a word, God paints in many colours, but He never paints so gorgeously -- I had almost said so gaudily -- as when He paints in white.
-- G. K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
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Today we are celebrating the coming of our Savior and his mother to the temple: let us imitate the people who met him there. First there was the saintly Simeon who, led to the temple by the Spirit, took the child in his arms and blessed the Lord. The widow Anna, a devout woman, came at the same time, gave thanks to God and spoke of the child to everyone who awaited the ransoming of Israel. Let us also come to meet Jesus and rejoice greatly as we take him in the arms of our good works; let us proclaim his great name, and tell of his mercy and the wonderful things he has done for us who await the ransoming of Jerusalem and the comforting of Israel. The psalmist foresaw that comforting by the light of the Spirit when he said: You will gladden us, Lord, with the joy of your presence; everlasting delights are in your right hand.

May Christ our Savior bring this desire of ours to fulfillment, for he took flesh for us and gave himself up to ransom us with his own blood, and he lives and reigns with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.
-- Rabanus Maurus, Hom. VIII in Hypapanti: PL 110, 19-20.

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