"In order that the mind may not be taxed, moreover, by the manifold and confused reading of so many such things, and in order to prevent the escape of something valuable that we have read, heard, or discovered through the process of thinking itself, it will be found very useful to entrust to notebooks ... those things which seem noteworthy and striking."

[Commonplace books: Thomas Farnaby, 17th-century]

I do not venerate matter, but the Creator of matter, who became matter for my sake and deigned to live in matter and bring about my salvation through matter. I will not cease therefore to venerate that matter through which my salvation was achieved. But I do not venerate it in absolute terms as God! How could that which, from non-existence, has been given existence, be God? . . . But I also venerate and respect all the rest of matter which has brought me salvation, since it is full of energy and holy graces.

[the material: John of Damascus, On Divine Images]

Posted by Jeff on 08.03.2011

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In the theological field there must be a balance between what we may call the architectural principles given to us by revelation—which, therefore, always retain their priority importance—and the principles for interpretation suggested by philosophy, that is, by reason—which have an important but exclusively practical role. When this balance between the architecture and the instruments for interpretation is lacking, theological reflection risks being distorted by errors.

[faith and reason: Benedict XVI, Great Christian Thinkers]

Posted by Jeff on 08.03.2011

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If you should wish to know how these things [the mystical communion with God] come about, interrogate grace, not doctrine; desire, not intellect; the cry of prayer, not the pursuit of study; the spouse, not the teacher; God, not man; darkness, not clarity; not light, but the fire that inflames all and transports one to God with fullest unction and burning affection. . . . Let us then . . . pass over into darkness; let us impose silence on cares, concupiscence, and phantasms; let us pass over with the Crucified Christ from this world to the Father, so that when the Father is shown to us we may say with Philip, “It is enough for me.” Bonaventure, The Mind’s Road to God, prologue

[seeking God: Bonaventure, The Mind's Road to God]

Posted by Jeff on 08.03.2011

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We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labor is to remember, to attend. In fact, to come awake. Still more, to remain awake.

[attentiveness: C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcom, Chiefly on Prayer]

Posted by Jeff on 08.03.2011

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Contrary to our frequent assumption that mystics live in states of continuous (or at least frequent) bliss, the reality is that like us, darkness characterizes more of their lives than bliss. Consequently they have much to teach us about learning to live in these places where our senses are darkened and our souls clouded. And what they tell us is that rather than expect the darkness to be eliminated, if we continue to consent to the inflow of grace, we can expect to learn to see in the darkness and to know God’s presence with us even when we are in the cloud of unknowing.

[wilderness: David Benner, Spirituality and the Awakening Self]

Posted by Jeff on 08.03.2011

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Our soul’s continual seeking pleases God greatly; for we can do no more than seek, suffer, and trust, and it is worked in the soul by the Holy Spirit; and when we find him clearly this is by special grace at a time he chooses. Seeking with faith, hope, and charity pleases our Lord; and finding pleases the soul and fills it full of joy. And so I was taught to understand that seeking is as good as beholding all the while he allows the soul to labor. It is God’s will that we continue to seek him and strive to behold him, waiting for the moment when he chooses by special grace to show us himself. This does him the most honor and profits you; it happens gently and effectively with the guiding grace of the Holy Spirit. For when a soul fastens itself to God truly trusting, whether in seeking or beholding, this is the best service it may render him.

[seeking God: Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love]

Posted by Jeff on 08.02.2011

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My Lord God, I have no ideas where I am going. I cannot see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But, I believe that . . . you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

[wilderness: Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude]

Posted by Jeff on 08.02.2011

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In a sense we are a Society of Eves in Eden drawing upon evidence of such giftedness and material abundance that we cannot imagine wanting something — for oneself or those we love — and not having it, without there being an injustice, somewhere. Elizabeth Scalia

[entitlement: Elizabeth Scalia, http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2011/08/a-dictatorship-of-sentimentalism]

Posted by Jeff on 08.02.2011

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Imperfect reason, unassisted by adult formation, leads to the suppression of critical thinking by our feelings and desires. It encourages a headfirst dive into the waters of sentimentalism which, while shallow, are deep enough for an infant to drown in.

[catechesis: Elizabeth Scalia, http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2011/08/a-dictatorship-of-sentimentalism]

Posted by Jeff on 08.02.2011

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