Fatal disease

As when medical men examine an illness, and ascertain that it is fatal, they make this pronouncement, “He will die, he will not get over this,” so from the moment of a man’s birth, it may be said, “He will not get over this.”

—Augustine of Hippo in a

sermon (47, 3: NPNF VI:412)

Declared “redundant”

A while ago it was announced that a church in [the Anglican bishop of London’s] diocese, St. Mark’s in Mayfair, was being declared “redundant,” and that a secular use—probably a restaurant—was contemplated The local well-heeled and highly articulate residents were appalled at this sacrilege, and they appealed to the bishop to stop it. His reply was suave and devastating: had they been in the habit of attending the church in question, the issue would never have arisen.

—Kenneth Slack in

The Christian Century

(Nov. 5, 1986)

Risk taking

If we refuse to take the risk of being vulnerable, we are already half-dead. If you are half-dead, you don’t have to starve with the people of Ethiopia. You don’t have to share the terrible living conditions of old people struggling to exist on dwindling, inadequate social-security payments in our overcrowded, hostile cities. You don’t have to smell the stench of filth and disease and hunger in the favelas and barrios.

We are not all called to go to El Salvador, or Moscow, or Calcutta, or even the slums of New York. But none of us will escape the moment when we have to decide whether to withdraw, to play it safe, or to act on what we prayerfully believe to be right.

—Madeleine L’Engle in

A Stone for a Pillow

Trivial pursuit in church

Trivialization in the church, as in society, results in a loss of the ability to think. Christians are lured to view the world as the world views itself—uncritically and without a basis for understanding. Many of us find ourselves “getting along by going along.” And the Christian community slowly, imperceptibly “moves two inches a year toward total decline.”

—Don McCrory in Eternity

(Oct. 1986)

Look at your hands

You need only ask at night before you go to bed, “What did I do to Jesus today? What did I do for Jesus today? What did I do with Jesus today?” You have only to look at your hands. This is the best examination of conscience.

—Mother Teresa in Jesus, the Word to be Spoken

Who has the road map?

I’m appalled at the aimlessness of most people’s lives today; fifty per cent don’t pay any attention to where they are going; forty per cent are undecided and will go in any direction; only ten per cent know what they want, and even all of them don’t go toward it.

—Katherine Ann Porter in

Ship of Fools

Training routines

The best training is to learn to accept everything as it comes, as from Him whom our soul loves. The tests are always unexpected things, not great things that can be written up, but the common little rubs of life, silly little nothings, things you are ashamed of minding [at all]. Yet they can knock a strong man over and lay him very low.

—Amy Carmichael in

Candles in the Dark

Simple—or simplistic?

A friend of mine is a professor at an Ivy League school. He told me about a conversation he overheard.… The head of the astronomy department was speaking to the dean of the divinity school. The astronomy professor said, “Now, let’s face it. In religion, what it all boils down to very simply is that you should love your neighbor as you love yourself. It’s the Golden Rule, right?” “Yes, I suppose that’s true,” replied the dean of the divinity school. “Just as in astronomy it all boils down to one thing—‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star.’ ”

—Bruce Larson in

Faith for the Journey

No dead ends with God

The glorious truth is that, to a Christian walking in the will of God, there is no such thing as a dead-end street.

—Margaret Clarkson in

All Nature Sings

Curious alchemy

I can see that Jesus drew men and women into the Kingdom by promising them two things: first, trouble—hardship, danger; and second, joy. But what curious alchemy is this that He can make even danger and hardship seem joyous? He understands things about human nature that we grasp only dimly: few of us are really challenged by the promise of soft living, by an emphasis on me-first, or by a life of easy compromise.

—Catherine Marshall in

A Closer Walk

The “show-me” state

Most of us, in our desire for meaningful faith, seem to be saying to God: “Show me, and I’ll believe!” This approach never works. God has made it very clear to us, in the life and teaching of his Son Jesus, that the process must be reversed. He is saying to us: “Believe in me, and I’ll show you.”

—John Powell, S.J., in

Through Seasons of the Heart

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.