Friday, December 09, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Today’s text

From a sermon by Saint Peter Chrysologus (priest, 380-450)

In all the events we have recalled, the flame of divine love enkindled human hearts and its intoxication overflowed into men’s senses. Wounded by love, they longed to look upon God with their bodily eyes. Yet how could our narrow human vision apprehend God, whom the whole world cannot contain? But the law of love is not concerned with what will be, what ought to be, what can be. Love does not reflect; it is unreasonable and knows no moderation, Love refuses to be consoled when its goal proves impossible, despises all hindrances to the attainment of its object. Love destroys the lover if he cannot obtain what he loves; love follows its own promptings, and does not think of right and wrong … It is intolerable for love not to see the object of its longing, That is why whatever reward they merited was nothing to the saints if they could not see the Lord.


I love you Lord for the way your people reach across 16 centuries and touch my heart. What have I in common with a soul from so long ago? And could I hold in common with one the church has name ‘saint?’

Nothing, it would seem, yet Peter’s words tell me that I am not alone. Other hearts have longed and long still for the fulfillment of their love, eager to see the One they love, the One who is Love.

And as he said, there is no moderation in such love. It never finds complete satisfaction but always pushes for more.

Oh, there are moments, of course, when the soul gazes into the early winter snows or looks into the faces of children and is seized by the awareness that a boundless loving beauty stands at the heart of all life.

The elevation of heart that occurs in such moments transports us beyond anxiety and fear, and a ‘Julian’ feeling washes through the soul, as we know with that old saint that all is will and all shall be well. But the moment passes.

And even in the moment of transport to higher awareness of life’s center and meaning, we know there is more. There is always more, and we want it. We are never quite satisfied.

You are the More, Holy One, the One immoderate love hungers to see and know, that we might touch and experience totally union with you. We hunger to be enraptured, so that nothing that is us is outside of you. It is an immoderate desire stirred by your immoderate desire for us.

The state of enrapture is known in this life, even by the likes of me because you are gracious love and give yourself even to the unworthy. Even now, as tears fog vision of these black keys while washing obstruction from the eyes of my heart so that I know you as that total love that gives peace passing all understanding.

I wonder: What was it like for Saint Peter Chrysologus 16 centuries ago? He speaks words that leap the great gulf of time to touch me and tell me that I stand in an ancient line of those who knew your love and wanted more, find final fulfillment.

I can’t get inside of his experience, but his words (golden words, which is the meaning of his name, Chrysologus) move me into awareness of you who inspired them. And I know Peter is my true brother, brothers in longing … to see you.

Show yourself to the eyes of our hearts in this holy season.

Pr. David L. Miller

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Today’s text

From a treatise on The Ascent of Mount Carmel by Saint John of the Cross (priest, mystic, 1542-1591)

By giving us, as he did, his Son, his only Word, he has in that one Word said everything. There is no need for further revelation. … God has spoken so completely through his own Word that he chooses to add nothing. Although he had spoken but partially through the prophets, he has now said everything in Christ. He has given us everything, his own Son. …[God says] Fix your eyes on him alone for in him I have revealed all and in him you will find more than you could ever ask for or desire.


I have heard what I need to hear. I know what my heart needs to know. I await no further word of life’s meaning, unfolding its mysteries. That Word has been spoken in time and space--and in me.

Simple hearts rest it this Word without seeking great understanding, knowing this Word of ultimate grace and presence is enough and always will be. Sophisticated minds plumb its depths and never reach the bottom. There is always more to be known of this Word. It remains as inexhaustible as the Love who speaks it, and always will.

Sometimes, it is enough for me to be simple and simply trust, neither needing nor wanting depth of understanding. My heart rests totally at peace, simply knowing a final word of love has been spoken over my life, no, over all life, a Word that encompasses every pain, every loss, every sorrow, every broken dream and promise.

All of it is encased, embraced and encompassed in that single Word, in Christ.

In Christ God has spoken, a clear and unmistakable ‘yes’ to the human race and more. The Word is spoken in creation, through the means and substance of created matter, and it is spoken to all that is, all that ever was or ever will be. It is a Word, a word of promise and deliverance, spoken to the rocks, the rivers and everlasting hills as much as it is to me, a human soul

For, all that exists came to be in Christ--in him, through him, for him. He is the Word in which God says all we need to know. In him created matter and divine substance combine to reveal the beauty God intends and will work in and through all that is.

In this Word, divine reality and created substance unite, and God speaks the uninhibited, joyous communion of God and creation, the holy union God is working in me and all that is.

In this Word, God speaks unfettered love for all that is, a love that takes all that is into itself for the sole sake of a love spoken in a Word, a single life, the life of my brother Jesus.

Pr. David L. Miller

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Today’s text

From the Proslogian by Saint Anselm of Canterbury (bishop, 1033-1109)

Lord most high, what shall this exile do, so far from you? What shall your servant do, tormented by love of you and cast so far from your face? He yearns to see you, and your face is too far from him. He desires to approach you, and your dwelling is unapproachable. He longs to find you, and does not know your dwelling place. He strives to look for you, and does not know your face.


The metaphor of exile is fitting to describe the feeling of those who hunger for God. We long for the One to whom we intuitively know we belong. We crave union with the Love from whom we feel separation, knowing no final peace on this earth until our tormented love is satisfied.

Saints and writers of every age have written of this experience, Christians, Jews, those of other faiths or of no faith at all. Awareness burns in the human heart, unsettling us, a restless knowledge that we are not at home until we are united with … something … someone.

We feel cut off from that mystery to which (to Whom) we ultimately belong. For the person without faith in God, this restlessness is an inescapable existential condition, the normal condition of the human heart living in a world in which one can never find the peace that the human heart is moved to seek for reasons it does not understand.

Although we find no peace here, we still want it, and we either live with the dis-ease of not having what we want, or we try to kill the desire with substances of constant busy-ness. We might tell ourselves that the unknown something we want is an illusion we had best ignore. Eat, drink and be merry, but don’t kid yourself: your hunger for final fulfillment is a false hope; it is chasing after the wind. You will never catch it.

But for the person of faith the yearning for the One to whom we belong is a search for home. It is the desire to return from the wandering of exile where we feel alone and lost, forgotten and perhaps forsaken, for we feel far removed from the One in whom rest and peace is found.

The Great Soul who is God, the One who loves and creates sentient beings out of an abundant store of love, creates us in order to share the boundless store of divine life and love with us, we who have life and love only by God’s gift.

God has fashioned our small souls so that in our exilic wanderings our hunger might moves us to seek to be reunited with the Mystery from whom we came, to return and find the holy union with the place, the Person, the home for which we have long searched, wondering at times whether it is even real.

It is, of course. It is real as are you, Loving and Holy Mystery. The pains of our wanderings through life are a great grace. They whisper in our ears that we belong to a Greatness which we cannot begin to imagine, the greatness of You, who made us for yourself.

So let us not run from the pain of our exile, nor kill or drown out the desire that moves us to search and long for union with the One who is always more. Our pain is a tormented love, moving us to search and watch for our Beloved, who continually draws us to the place where we might find oneness with the Source of our Being--and there, finally, to see the face of our Lord, face to face.

Pr. David L. Miller