Verbum Domini
Verbum Domini
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It’s easy to feel overwhelmed today. At home, at work, at school, people are pulled in a thousand different directions. Parents chauffeur their children from soccer match to basketball game to piano lesson. Work follows wherever we go. Anywhere, at anytime, there are phone calls, text messages and emails. All of them expect immediate responses. It can happen that we get so caught up in the things that need to be done, that we forget why we are even doing them. We lose the forest for the trees. When that happens, it is critical to find perspective. It is essential to take a step back, to break a bit from the rattle of the world, to silence all the ringing and buzzing and find a cozy corner of silence. In a secluded spot, as the din dies down, God’s voice rises. His word refreshes and directs the soul. more
Teachers don’t get enough credit. They are liberators. By their generous service, they free us from the dangers and restrictions of ignorance. They inspire us with the wonders of nature and art, walk with us through the story of humanity and lift our minds to contemplate ideals and virtues. Educere, the Latin root of “educate,” means “to lead out.” That is what teachers do. They lead us out of our native darkness into the light of wisdom, knowledge and learning. But, of course, to do any of this, we first have to listen to them. For our own good, we allow teachers an authority in our lives. We listen to them, we obey them, because we trust them to teach the truth; “and the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). more
A few years ago, HBO released a miniseries on the life of President John Adams. A powerful scene in the final episode depicts him, in the last years of his life, walking with one of his sons. He has lost all the vigor of his youth (he can no longer even bend his knees). He is off the world’s stage. His power and influence has largely disappeared and he is left an old man at a farmhouse. One might anticipate bitterness, the pain of loss, or a pining for younger days. But the dying President has found something new. Admiring a simple flower in a field, he remarks that, though he has seen the French queen, “all the charms of her face and figure, added to all the glitter of her jewels, did not impress me as much.” The world has become wondrous to him. It is new and alight with grace. His monologue concludes with an exuberant quotation from Saint Paul, “Rejoice evermore!” more
In Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” betrayal and double-dealing leave the main character in an emotional free fall. Reality itself seems turned on its head. The most trustworthy character is a ghost, while at the same time, dear friends serve as spies. Nothing is as it seems, and Hamlet spends most of the play looking for truth, looking for solid ground to stand upon. Stumbling in darkness and confusion, he has a moment of clarity in the final act. He remarks to his friend Horatio, “there is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow...the readiness is all.” Here, he makes reference to the Gospel of Matthew (10:29). It hints at an interior development for Hamlet. He has surrendered himself to God’s will. Still in the dark, still in confusion, he nonetheless finds the solution in God. He is his rock. Believing in this special providence, all that is required is a readiness to accept it. more
Have you ever wished you could rule the world? Maybe just to be king for a day (and then maybe a couple more). History has seen numerous would-be world rulers, conquerors and empire builders. Athirst for more power, more territory, more wealth, they claim the world’s goods for themselves; they seek immortality in fame (or infamy). Of course, none of this lasts. Best case scenario, they continue a few decades. That is if they survive the intrigue and circumvent the traitorous plots. They set out to conquer the world, but all along, it is the world that is conquering them. Their hearts, their minds, are not their own. Everything is given over to the maintenance and increase of their possessions. They end enslaved by what they’ve captured. more
You may remember the Maytag repairman, the self-declared “lord of loneliness,” and “sultan of solitude.” In a long series of commercials we came to know this solitary figure, ever ready to serve, but never called upon. Maytag appliances, we are led to believe, are built well; so well, in fact, that they never need maintenance or repair. As a result, their repairmen lead lonesome lives. This also means that in the (unlikely) event that something should go wrong, help is readily available. Maytag appliances are dependable; their assistance is reliable. The consumer is consoled to know that they can get help if they need it. For if we need something fixed, our best bet is to bring it back to the one who made it. more
If you like to watch nature shows, or have ever visited an aquarium, you know something about ecosystems. You know they are composed of interdependent relationships among creatures and climate. The success of a system depends upon the health of those relationships. Therein lies the fragility of an ecosystem. A dramatic shift in climate, or some new predator or bacteria, can threaten everything. The introduction of something foreign, if powerful enough, can entirely alter or even destroy an ecosystem, wiping it from the face of the earth. This dynamic of ecosystems is helpful when thinking about God’s creation and redemption. more
Occasionally you hear someone say, “I need to find myself.” It would be a funny phrase (“well, where did you last see yourself?”) if it didn’t carry a slight tone of desperation. There is something sad about a person who is so lost or confused that they feel disassociated from themselves. Perhaps they are experiencing a lack of fulfillment, or they are often making choices against their better judgment. For the young, it may simply be a lack of experience. Whatever the reason, it is a troubling spiritual trial. It is one thing to lose your keys or your wallet. But for your very self to be hidden from you — that might take more than prayers to Saint Anthony. more
“My father’s going to kill me!” We’ve all said those words, most likely as teenagers. Guilty of some infraction of parental law, staying out past curfew or playing ball in the house (something always breaks, doesn’t it), we were convinced that the end of our lives was imminent. I doubt any of us could give details on how this murder would take place, but that doesn’t mean we were any less convinced it would happen. Our first instinct was to evade discovery or to cover the fault (rummaging through drawers looking for superglue). But then, at a certain point in those years, we came to the realization that it was better to be upfront and honest. Admitting our fault, we finally understood, did not mean death, but forgiveness (not to mention a far lighter sentence). more
Every city needs good watchmen. In biblical times, watchmen were stationed in towers, guarding the security of their town. They needed excellent eyes. From their vantage point above they could spot enemies approaching in the distance. They could anticipate enemy movements, their strength of arms, and ready the townspeople with their warnings. More than great eyes, watchmen needed great ears. At night, vision lacking, their security was in their listening. The watchman had to sift through the various sounds of the dark. Was that crack the sound of some nocturnal beast on the prowl or was it the footstep of a foe? Good ears could save lives, even an entire town. more
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