··· West ···

Make a Whole

To serve is to make whole in some way. Service. It’s more of a grace. It’s very close to love, but a very pure kind of love. A befriending of the life in others, unconditionally.

— Rachel Naomi Remen  <link>

Every time you feel lost, alienated, or cut off from life, or from the world, every time you feel despair, anger, or instability, practice going home. Mindful breathing is the vehicle that you use to go back to your true home.

— Thich Nhat Hanh, Going Home  <link>

Today words no longer arise out of silence, through a creative act of the spirit which gives meaning to language and to the silence, but from other words, from the noise of other words. Neither do they return to the silence but into the noise of other words, to become immersed therein.

— Max Picard, The World of Silence  <link>

As soon as you willfully allow a dialogue with temptation to begin, the soul is robbed of its peace, just as consent to impurity destroys grace.

— Josemaria Escriva  <link>

If You are Discouraged

If you are discouraged it is a sign of pride, because it shows you trust in your own powers. Never bother about other people’s opinions. Be humble and you will never be disturbed. Remember St. Aloysius, who said he would continue to play billiards even if he knew he was going to die. Do you play well? Sleep well? Eat well? These are duties. Nothing is small for God.

— Blessed Teresa of Calcutta  <link>

Linking the Beatitudes

The poor in spirit, those detached from the desire for worldly goods, must necessarily also be the pure in heart, since their heart is not split and set on many things of this world, but purely on the “one thing necessary”. They love God and therefore they shall see God. These pure in heart, in turn, are meek, the holy and harmless and humble, because that is the character of the God their hearts are set on. The meek, in turn, are persecuted by the world and made to mourn; they are taken advantage of. Yet by their very act of suffering persecution, they are peacemakers. They make peace by the same method Christ did on the Cross: by draining off the bloody mess of human history into their own broken hearts. The peacemakers are also the merciful, for war is caused by the insistence on justice almost as much as by injustice. The cure for war and the way to peace is not justice but mercy, forgiveness. Yet the merciful hunger and thirst for justice even as they go beyond it to mercy, for they realize that…the only way to justice is not from below, from force, from something less than justice (like bombs), but from above, from something more than justice, from mercy, from the character of God himself as revealed in Christ. It is Christ’s mercy in dying for us that satisfies justice.

— Peter Kreeft, Back to Virtue  <link>

Even if our efforts of attention seem for years to be producing no result, one day a light that is in exact proportion to them will flood the soul.

— Simone Weil  <link>

Problems that remain persistently insolvable should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way.

— Alan Watts  <link>

God, when creating the world, did not solve problems or pose them. He created what He would call “very good.” God created the world, but the devil transformed the world and man and life into a “problem.”

— Alexander Schmemann  <link>

Thought has nowhere to go but its own isolated, endless fragmented repetition.

— Steven Harrison  <link>

At bottom, every man knows well enough that he is a unique being, only once on this earth; and by no extraordinary chance will such a marvelously picturesque piece of diversity in unity as he is, ever be put together a second time.

— Friedrich Nietzsche  <link>

Don’t ever become a pessimist…a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun, and neither can stop the march of events.

— Robert A. Heinlein  <link>

Love is an orientation and not a state of the soul. Anyone who does not know this will fall into despair at the first onset of affliction.

— Simone Weil  <link>

Pride consists in a man making his personality the only test, instead of making truth the test. It is not pride to wish to do well, or even to look well, according to a real test. It is pride to think that a thing looks ill, because it does not look like something characteristic of oneself.

— G.K. Chesterton  <link>


The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s own, or real life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls one’s real life is a phantom of one’s own imagination. This at least is what I see at moments of insight; but it’s hard to remember it all the time.

— C.S. Lewis  <link>

What you need is not sincerity, but the daring of the gambler. Not solid ground to stand on, but the dexterity of the swimmer.

— Anthony de Mello, Awakenings  <link>

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

— Kahlil Gibran  <link>

Your deepest wound is your greatest gift.

— Author unknown  <link>

Suffering and death are not enemies, but doors leading to new levels of knowledge and of love.

— Thomas Keating, Heart of the World  <link>

A myriad bubbles were floating on the surface of a stream.

“What are you?” I cried to them as they drifted by.

“I am a bubble, of course,” nearly a myriad bubbles answered, and there was surprise and indignation in their voices as they passed.

But, here and there, a lonely bubble answered, “We are this stream,” and there was neither surprise nor indignation in their voices, but just a quiet certitude.

— Wei Wu Wei [via]  <link>

I want to repeat, I have told this because I want to make it very clear to a large number of people that all discrimination—whatever form it takes—is evil and that the world can go to pieces because of it. Actually, literally, go to pieces. Discrimination against someone because of his skin color or his ears or his hair, or God knows what—we can all die from that. It only takes one person to say, “He isn’t as good as I am, because he has…” You can fill in the rest.

— Willy Lindwer, The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank  <link>

Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference, which is an elegant name for ignorance.

— G.K. Chesterton  <link>

This one thing will I ask you: Are you with the people or apart from them? Depending on your answer, you and I will be forever divided between heaven and earth.

— Yosano Akiko  <link>

When would a mortal dare call God “Father,” if man’s innermost being were not animated by power from on high?

— St. Peter Chrysologus  <link>

The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause of all our adversities.

— Sophocles  <link>

The Master takes action
    by letting things take their course.
He remains as calm
    at the end as at the beginning.
He has nothing,
    thus has nothing to lose.
What he desires is non-desire;
    what he learns is to unlearn.
He simply reminds people
    of who they have always been.
He cares about nothing but the Tao.
    Thus he can care for all things.

— Lao Tzu  <link>

Of all the holy works, the education of children is the most holy.

— St. Theophan the Recluse  <link>

Life happens too fast for you to ever think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information.

— Kurt Vonnegut  <link>

So much of what we do is habitual. Through repetition it becomes hard-wired into the very circuitry of our being. Eventually we have already anticipated most aspects of our life and we increasingly stop being surprised by ourselves.

— Manjusvara  <link>


Gossip is a community killer. It is a cancer. It separates, isolates, and destroys a person. It literally kills something inside, not only for the victim, but those who spread the gossip. In the victim, it kills self-esteem and spreads to other things. In the gossiper, it kills compassion and love, and then spreads to elsewhere. It blackens everyone’s hearts.

It was gossip about God by the snake in the garden that lead Adam and Eve to separation from God and from each other. It literally lead to death for them and for us. Gossip is one of the most subtle and insidious forms of pride.

— Brother Joseph  <link>

To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.

— G.K. Chesterton, A Short History of England [via]  <link>

May my silences become more accurate.

— Theodore Roethke  <link>

He who marries the spirit of the times will soon be a widower.

— G.K. Chesterton  <link>

Communion of the Trinity

The Father eternally begets the Son and the Holy Ghost proceeds: deity introduces distinction within itself so that the union of reciprocal loves may transcend mere arithmetical unity or self-identity.

— C.S. Lewis, “Heaven” chapter in The Problem of Pain  <link>

[Heaven] does not exists for us, but we for it.

— C.S. Lewis, “Heaven” chapter in The Problem of Pain  <link>

Grace is to life as light is to color. It brings out the color, makes it more alive.

— Peter Kreeft  <link>

Men never do evil so fully and so happily as when they do it for conscience’s sake.

— Blaise Pascal, Pensées  <link>

There is always some advantage in making men love us. Human life is thus only a perpetual illusion; men deceive and flatter each other. No one speaks of us in our presence as he does of us in our absence. Human society is founded on mutual deceit.

— Blaise Pascal, Pensées  <link>

Neither Creator nor creature can be without love, but if this love is turned aside to evil, then the creature goes against the creator… A man may love evil by willing evil to his neighbors in three ways: For first, he may hope to be prosperous through his neighbor’s degradation; and again, he may himself fear to lose power, grace, honour, or reputation because of his neighbour’s advancement, and may therefore be miserable at that advancement; and again, he may feel himself injured by his neighbour, and wish to be revenged, so that he sets himself to seek out the other’s hurt.

— Dante Alighieri, Purgatory [via]  <link>

One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star.

— G.K. Chesterton  <link>

All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one of these destinations [to heaven or to hell]. It is in light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours

— C.S. Lewis, portion of last paragraph of sermon, “The Weight of Glory”  <link>

Proper rewards are not simply tacked on to the activity for which they are given, but are the activity itself in consummation.

— C.S. Lewis, from sermon “The Weight of Glory”  <link>

The general root of superstition is that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss, and commit to memory the one, and pass over the other.

— Francis Bacon  <link>

The truth doesn’t change according to our ability to stomach it.

— Flannery O’Connor  <link>

Life in Hopeful Tranquility

[Jean] Giono termed his confidence in the future espérance, or hopefulness, not espoir, which is the masculine for hope, but espérance, the feminine word designating the permanent state or condition of living one’s life in hopeful tranquility. Whence springs this well of espérance, Giono wondered?

— Norma L. Goodrich, in afterword to Jean Giono’s The Man Who Planted Trees


Love is a flower

Love is a flower, and hope is its stem. Salvation is the whole plant. God’s grace, God’s own life, comes into us by faith, like water through a tree’s roots. It rises in us by hope, like sap through the trunk. And it flowers from our branches, fruit for our neighbor’s use.

— Peter Kreeft, Fundamentals of the Faith  <link>

The wind blows where it will, and we are pilgrims in the life of prayer and faith. We are not called to be pretenders of certainties that do not exist in our experience.

— Michael Spencer [via]  <link>

Christian Consumerism

Christian consumerism is just one witness to the state of our spirituality. There are many others. Ministerial burnout. Pornography addiction. Divorce. Prayerlessness. Church hopping. Sexual promiscuity. Rampant materialism. Pastoral turnover. Addiction to fashion, sports, pets, opinions. Hours spent in front of video game screens, staring at web sites, reading MySpace, talking to our friends on the cell, saying nothing.

And then we’ll go to church on Sunday and hear the minister say the LOST are living empty lives and don’t have the joy of the Lord. It’s a good thing the few lost folks in our churches are too polite not to laugh out loud.

— Michael Spencer [via]  <link>

The lived spiritual life is a frequent contradiction. I reject the kind of “victorious life” formulaic teaching I grew up hearing in fundamentalist circles, and I must also reject the kind of consumeristic emotional junk food that is found everywhere in evangelicalism as a substitute for the presence of God. As much as I count myself a Christian hedonist, I am suspicious that “Delight yourself in the Lord” is often deeply and significantly misunderstood.

— Michael Spencer [via]  <link>

All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusions is called a philosopher.

— Ambrose Bierce  <link>