Folly’s Zeal

Immodest child,
Immoderate man,
So, you think to slay dragons,
By wit and prowess,
Armed with nature’s sword.

You think it cruel
And mean-spirited,
That a “good” God
Choose to temper you,
By merciful humiliation.

He thwarts your inventions,
And plans of glory.
“All for God,” your dream,
Yet you are at the center,
With your well-chosen cross.

“Indiscreet zeal”
Immature man,
Undone by impatience,
Intemperance,
And swollen pride.

Each day God waits
Supplies the Way,
Plans a day
Filled to the brim
With humility’s simplicity.

Abandonment,
Acceptance,
Both arrow and bow,
To hit the mark
Marked out by Love.

copyright 2014 Joann Nelander

Acknowledgement:

In a chapter called, “Immature Zeal” Ralph Martin points out the effectiveness overtime of “ordinary grace” and “common life,” in his book, The Fulfillment of All Desires, a Guidebook to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints.

Ralph quotes Sts. Teresa of Avila and Bernard to point out our folly in relying inordinately on ourselves to become holy and to do great things for God, both early in the spiritual life, and later on, when temptations are subtler.

From a sermon by Saint Augustine, bishop Let us too glory in the cross of the Lord

From a sermon by Saint Augustine, bishop
Let us too glory in the cross of the Lord

The passion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the hope of glory and a lesson in patience.

What may not the hearts of believers promise themselves as the gift of God’s grace, when for their sake God’s only Son, co-eternal with the Father, was not content only to be born as man from human stock but even died at the hands of the men he had created?

It is a great thing that we are promised by the Lord, but far greater is what has already been done for us, and which we now commemorate. Where were the sinners, what were they, when Christ died for them? When Christ has already given us the gift of his death, who is to doubt that he will give the saints the gift of his own life? Why does our human frailty hesitate to believe that mankind will one day live with God?

Who is Christ if not the Word of God: in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God? This Word of God was made flesh and dwelt among us. He had no power of himself to die for us: he had to take from us our mortal flesh. This was the way in which, though immortal, he was able to die; the way in which he chose to give life to mortal men: he would first share with us, and then enable us to share with him. Of ourselves we had no power to live, nor did he of himself have the power to die.

Accordingly, he effected a wonderful exchange with us, through mutual sharing: we gave him the power to die, he will give us the power to live.

The death of the Lord our God should not be a cause of shame for us; rather, it should be our greatest hope, our greatest glory. In taking upon himself the death that he found in us, he has most faithfully promised to give us life in him, such as we cannot have of ourselves.

He loved us so much that, sinless himself, he suffered for us sinners the punishment we deserved for our sins. How then can he fail to give us the reward we deserve for our righteousness, for he is the source of righteousness? How can he, whose promises are true, fail to reward the saints when he bore the punishment of sinners, though without sin himself?

Brethren, let us then fearlessly acknowledge, and even openly proclaim, that Christ was crucified for us; let us confess it, not in fear but in joy, not in shame but in glory.

The apostle Paul saw Christ, and extolled his claim to glory. He had many great and inspired things to say about Christ, but he did not say that he boasted in Christ’s wonderful works: in creating the world, since he was God with the Father, or in ruling the world, though he was also a man like us. Rather, he said: Let me not boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

From a sermon by Saint Bernard, abbot The stages of contemplation

From a sermon by Saint Bernard, abbot The stages of contemplation

Let us take our stand on secure ground, leaning with all our strength on Christ, the most solid rock, according to the words: He set my feet on a rock and guided my steps. Thus firmly established, let us begin to contemplate, to see what he is saying to us and what reply we ought to make to his charges.

The first stage of contemplation, my dear brothers, is constantly to consider what God wants, what is pleasing to him, and what is acceptable in his eyes. We all offend in many things; our strength cannot match the rectitude of God’s will, being neither one with it nor wholly in accord with it; let us then humble ourselves under the powerful hand of the most high God and be concerned to show ourselves unworthy before his merciful gaze, saying: Heal me, Lord, and I shall be healed; save me and I shall be saved. And again, Lord have mercy on me; heal my soul because I have sinned against you.

Once the eye of the soul has been purified by such considerations we no longer abide within our own spirit in a sense of sorrow, but abide rather in the Spirit of God with great delight. No longer do we consider what is the will of God for us, but rather what it is in itself. For our life is in his will. Thus we are convinced that what is according to his will is in every way more advantageous and fitting for us. And so, concerned as we are to preserve the life of our soul, we should be equally concerned, insofar as we can, not to deviate from his will.

Thus having made some progress in our spiritual exercise under the guidance of the Spirit who searches the deep things of God, let us reflect how sweet is the Lord and how good he is in himself; in the words of the prophet let us pray to see God’s will; no longer shall we frequent our own hearts but his temple. At the same time we shall say: My soul is humbled within me, therefore I shall be mindful of you.

The whole of the spiritual life consists of these two elements. When we think of ourselves, we are perturbed and filled with a salutary sadness. And when we think of the Lord, we are revived to find consolation in the joy of the Holy Spirit. From the first we derive fear and humility, from the second hope and love.

>From a sermon on the beatitudes by Saint Leo the Great, pope The blessedness of Christ’s reign

From a sermon on the beatitudes by Saint Leo the Great, pope The blessedness of Christ’s reign

After preaching the blessings of poverty, the Lord went on to say: Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted. But the mourning for which he promises eternal consolation, dearly beloved, has nothing to do with ordinary worldly distress; for the tears which have as their origin in the sorrow common to all mankind do not make anyone blessed. There is another cause for the sighs of the saints, another reason for their blessed tears. Religious grief mourns for sin, one’s own or another’s; it does not lament because of what is done by human malice. Indeed, he who does wrong is more to be lamented than he who suffers it, for his wickedness plunges the sinner into punishment, whereas endurance can raise the just man to glory.

Next the Lord says: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. To the meek and gentle, the lowly and the humble, and to all who are ready to endure any injury, he promises that they will possess the earth. Nor is this inheritance to be considered small or insignificant, as though it were distinct from our heavenly dwelling; for we know that it is the kingdom of heaven which is also the inheritance promised to the meek. The earth that is promised to the meek and which will be given to the gentle for their own possession is none other than the bodies of the saints. Through the merit of their humility their bodies will be transformed by a joyous resurrection and clothed in the glory of immortality. No longer opposed in any way to their spirits, their bodies will remain in perfect harmony and unity with the will of the soul. Then indeed, the outer man will be the peaceful and unblemished possession of the inner man.

Then, truly will the meek inherit the earth in perpetual peace, and nothing will be taken from their rights; for this perishable nature shall put on the imperishable and this mortal nature shall put on immortality. Their risk will turn into reward; what was a burden will have become an honor.

Folly’s Zeal

Immodest child,
Immoderate man,
So, you think to slay dragons,
By wit and prowess,
Armed with nature’s sword.

You think it cruel
And mean-spirited,
That a “good” God
Choose to temper you,
By merciful humiliation.

He thwarts your inventions,
And plans of glory.
“All for God,” your dream,
Yet you are at the center,
With your well-chosen cross.

“Indiscreet zeal”
Immature man,
Undone by impatience,
Intemperance,
And swollen pride.

Each day God waits
Supplies the Way,
Plans a day
Filled to the brim
With humility’s simplicity.

Abandonment,
Acceptance,
Both arrow and bow,
To hit the mark
Marked out by Love.

copyright 2014 Joann Nelander

Acknowledgement:

In a chapter called, “Immature Zeal” Ralph Martin points out the effectiveness overtime of “ordinary grace” and “common life,” in his book, The Fulfillment of All Desires, a Guidebook to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints.

Ralph quotes Sts. Teresa of Avila and Bernard to point out our folly in relying inordinately on ourselves to become holy and to do great things for God, both early in the spiritual life, and later on, when temptations are subtler.

Little Flower Quote

“Our Lord’s love shines out just as much through a little soul who yields completely to His Grace as it does through the greatest . . . Just as the sun shines equally on the cedar and the little flower, so the Divine Sun shines equally on everyone, great and small. Everything is ordered for their good, just as in nature the seasons are so ordered that the smallest daisy comes to bloom at its appointed time.”
— St. Therese of Lisieux