“But Thanks Be to God”: An Eighth Reflection

Today is the day designated for public thanksgiving to our Creator for gracious gifts which his divine Providence has lavished upon us. Thus, it is fitting for me to, as I have done this day for the past seven years, reflect on the various and manifold blessings God has poured on me over the course of my life, and in particular this past year, and how I have responded to this beneficence (with the inevitable conclusion that I have utterly failed to show appropriate gratitude).

This is the eighth year I have written on this theme; in the first such reflection, in 2009, I explained the blessings I was grateful for at length and in some detail, and in subsequent years I have more briefly listed those blessings I had forgotten and those new in the past year. And so again today. Continue reading

“But Thanks Be to God”: A Seventh Reflection

This is the day designated publicly to give thanks to our Creator for the gracious gifts he has, in divine Providence, lavished upon us. And so it is fitting for me to, as I have done this day for the past six years, reflect on the manifold blessings with which God has showered me over the course of my life, and in particular the past year, and whether I have responded as I ought to this beneficence (to the inevitable conclusion that I have utterly failed to act in appropriate gratitude).

This is the seventh year I have written to describe and summarize those people, events, and things for which I give thanks to God; 2009 saw an extended reflection in which I explained them in some detail at length, and each subsequent year I have written an addendum, more briefly listing those blessings I had forgotten and those new in the past year. And so again today. Continue reading

The Ascension and the Divine Victory

Five months ago, as the Christmas season began, I described the Incarnation as “the first openly-announced wave of an inexorable re-conquest.” The Resurrection proclaimed the victory, of which the Incarnation was the “beachhead,” had been accomplished. And today we celebrate the Ascension. Continue reading

Ashes

Carl Spitzweg 003Ashes.

For dust I am, and to dust I shall return … and so too shall all my works pass away, save only what was not my work at all.

Time slips away—has slipped away—with little or nothing to show for it. But a time has come again to re-center, to begin again with what only can be comfort in life and death: Continue reading

The Incarnation: The Beachhead of the Divine Victory

As the Christmas season begins today, I wish you all a happy Christmas.

As I have written before, Christmas is a celebration of the Incarnation, of the fact that (if I may quote my own poetry)

The One who made and makes all things
Is, at the end of ages, made
In lowly human likeness, flesh;
He in whom “all things hold together,”
“Sustaining all things by his word,”
Now, humbly, is himself sustained
By virgin mother’s loving care.
He who, on Sinai, gave the Law
Descends from formless fire and smoke
To bear himself the yoke he made,
And, later, bear its breakers’ curse.

C.S. Lewis, I think it was, once likened the Incarnation to the beachhead of an invasion to take back for God what was rightfully his.

I like that analogy, but Lewis—or whoever—didn’t take it far enough. A “beachhead” of the sort that the Incarnation was in the spiritual war is not the insertion of a few covert operatives to bide their time, do one flashy but limited mission, then evacuate. It is, rather, the first openly-announced wave of an inexorable re-conquest.

For unto us a child is born,
unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called
Wonderful,
Counselor,
The mighty God,
The everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there shall be no end,
upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom,
to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice
from henceforth even for ever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

And “all God’s promises find their ‘Yes!’ in Christ.”

(More about this in five months, when we celebrate the Ascension.)

Christ is born! Let us glorify him!

“But Thanks Be to God”: A Sixth Reflection

Today is the day designated to publicly give thanks to our Creator for the gracious gifts which he in his divine Providence has lavished upon us. And so it is fitting to reflect on the manifold blessings God has poured out over the course of my life, and in particular in the past year. It is also fitting to consider whether my response to his beneficence has been suitable—and the inevitable conclusion is that I have utterly failed to act in appropriate gratitude.

Five years ago, I wrote an extended reflection, publicly giving thanks for the blessings I felt God had given me over the course of my life, and explaining them in some detail. And in each subsequent year, I have written a briefer addendum, of causes for gratitude I had forgotten and of those new in the past year.

So too today. Continue reading