The Sacrament of Pain

Or we may see how our pain becomes a blessing to others. And we turn the spirit of heaviness to the garment of praise. We may stop grousing and get our soul into its Sunday clothes. The sacrament of pain becomes then a true Eucharist and giving of thanks.

Strength For The Day to Come

[Christ’s] nights were not always the rest of weakness from the day before, but often the storing of strength for the day to come.

Strength in Prayer

We have been warned by a man of genius that the bane of so much religion is that it clings to God with its weakness and not with its strength. This is very true of that supreme act of religion of which our critics know least — of the act of prayer. So many of us pray because we are driven by need rather than kindled by grace. Our prayer is a cry rather than a hymn. It is a quest rather than a tryst. It trembles more than it triumphs. It asks for strength rather than exerts it. How different was the prayer of Christ! All the divine power of the Eternal Son went into it. It was the supreme form taken by His Sonship in its experience and action. Nothing is more striking in Christ’s life than His combination of selflessness and power. His consciousness of power was equal to anything, and egoism never entered Him. His prayer was accordingly. It was the exercise of His unique power rather than of His extreme need. It came from his uplifting and not His despair. It was less His duty than His joy. It was more full of God’s gift of grace than of man’s poverty of faith, of a holy love than of a seeking heart. In His prayer He poured out neither His wish nor His longing merely, but His will. And He knew He was heard always. He knew it with such power and certainty that He could distribute His value, bless with His overflow, and promise His disciples they would be heard in His name. It was by His prayer that He countered and foiled the godless power in the world, the kingdom of the devil. “Satan hath desired to have thee — but I have prayed for thee.” His prayer means so much for the weak because it arose out of this strength and its exercise.

Our Own Wisdom

Nothing would do more to cure us of a belief in our own wisdom than the granting of some of our eager prayers

The Vow of Prayer

A prayer is also a promise. Every true prayer carries with it a vow. If it do not, it is not in earnest. It is not of a piece with life. Can we pray in earnest if we do not in the act commit ourselves to do our best to bring about the answer? Can we escape some kind of hypocrisy? This especially so with intercession. What is the value of praying for the poor if all the rest of our time and interest is given only to becoming rich? Where is the honesty of praying for our country if in our most active hours we are chiefly occupied in making something out of it, if we are strange to sacrifice for it… To begin the day with prayer is but a formality unless it go on in prayer, unless for the rest of it we pray in deed what we began in word. One has said that while prayer is the day’s best beginning it must not be like the handsome title-page of a worthless book.

No Cross No Christ

Thus prayer is, for us, paradoxically, both a gift and a conquest, a grace a and a duty. But does that not mean, is it not a special case of the truth, that all duty is a gift, every call on us a blessing, and that the task we often find a burden is really a boon? When we look up from under it it is a load, but those who look down to it from God’s side see it as a blessing. It is like great wings — they increase the weight but also the flight. If we have no duty to do God has shut himself up from us. To be denied duty is to be denied God. No cross no Christ.

Prayer’s Great End

Prayer has its great end when it lifts us to be more conscious and more sure of the gift than the need, of the grace than the sin.

Scorn the One Who Has Been His Inferior

There is a natural prejudice that leads man to scorn the one who has been his inferior, long after he has become his equal; real inequality produced by fortune or law is always followed by an imaginary inequality that has its roots in mores; but among the ancients this secondary effect of slavery came to an end. The emancipated man so strongly resembled the men who were born free that it soon became impossible to distinguish him from them. What was more difficult among the ancients was to change the law; what is more difficult among modern peoples is to change mores, and for us the real difficulty begins where in antiquity it ended. This happens because among modern peoples the non-material and transitory fact of slavery is combined in the most fatal way with the material and permanent fact of the difference of race. The memory of slavery dishonors the race, and race perpetuates the memory of slavery.

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