When The Bee Stings

PortraitsOfTheWorld_suffering_by_delirium77

יְהֹוָה

When the bee stings,
a child’s tear erupts
A mother kisses away the pain
When the son disrespects;
his father disciplines,
Trust flowers anew,
Forgiveness blooms in request.
When Torah is celebrated;
His commands galvanize the beating heart
His Laws of Love infuses every jot and title,
Yeshiva lifts eyes to Sinai,
Love of יְהֹוָה and neighbor becomes a Temple.
When Profound Love finds favor;
A handmaid sings,
The Song of Hannah echoes once again,
A virgin is overshadowed,
Magnified is the soul of Theotokos.
When a Son is given;
A Way is infleshed,
A Truth awakens dim eyes,
A Life is revealed,
Magi honor a newborn King,
Psalm 19 finds its voice.
When the Olive is pressed;
Bled is Another’s will,
Stripes give healing,
A thorny crown pricks a King,
Via Doloroso is carved by His cross,
When the Son of God is crushed,
Blood and water baptize the earth,
The choir moans in silent expectation,
Obedience gives up His Ghost.
The Father’s tear anoints a gate through Heaven.
When faith, hope, and charity are sowed,
Crosses are hoisted and yoked to the downtrodden,
A disciple craves love of God and neighbor
The poor are fed,
The naked clothed,
The slave is set free,
The forgotten are welcomed,
Warmth and hope visit the sick and imprisoned,
The church gathers in song and praise.
Happy are the many
When unity is challenged, it offers strength
When friendship is betrayed, forgiveness is availed
When hope is pressured, patience abounds,
When faith is oppressed, fear evaporates,
When charity becomes human, creation finally evolves.

By Chris Clody,
5/26/17

 

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True Love is True Light

Most mornings I am trained by my dogs to awake before sunrise. Anxiously pressing through the sliding glass door, racing to catch an imaginary squirrel in the dark, crisp, cool air, I turn on the coffee and wait for little taps signaling their hungry return.  Gobble. Let out. Let in. Another day begins sitting in my favorite chair balancing coffee ready to read. After appreciating the chewy, many-layered flavors forked from biblical chapters while gratefully warmed by a gulp of coffee, I await the first blush of dawn – until it breaks with its radiant miracle.

Light of Faith

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Light of our faith,
Lamp of our love,
Shine within the hollow…

Break of dawn,
Ray of myst’ry,
Drawn to you I follow…

All I have is Yours to hold,
Take my heart, my soul, my body and mind,
Press me to Your heart O Lord,
Brighten my path of faith that stumbles blind

Sweet, Savior King,
Merciful One,
Son of God we hallow…

In you alone we rise,
Lift us from this grasp of sin,
Where love remains and never dies.

by Chris Clody 3/28/15

My Jewel to Offer

thumbnailCA5K87RRBefore embracing this new year and its list of resolutions stands my personal prayer for charity.  I realize the truest of all charities is the freedom within the vision that our good God has for my life.  Although this charity is free for my reception, its cost is immeasurable in deafening the voice of selfish independence within my human spirit.  For it is within this willing and hidden obedience that I abandon this roar of defiance in exchange for the quiet, yet unstoppable will of divine love.  I take solitude in knowing it’s not my present concern to perfectly live and express God’s resolution for me, rather it is simply my newfound joy amidst this culture’s disorder to offer its warm glow of invitation showing what only faith can imagine.  Gratefully and humbly, my selfish will is now my jewel to offer to the One who makes all things new.

His Peace,
Chris

Take My Will

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Lord, take this jewel from hands
and place it in Your heart
Take my will, all of me,
Make me holy, blessed, and set apart

Obedience is the burden of the strong
Yet I find the strength to deny myself
For sacrifice is my sweet and soulful song
In doing Your will which has no wrong

Make blind my obedience
“Christus jubet, sufficit…”
Christ commands that is enough
In Him alone I find true peace

Let Your tears of compassion flow from these eyes,
Open my ears O Lord to hear and obey,
Crush this spirit deep within that dares to defy
Fill me with Your charity that can’t be denied.

“Christus jubet, sufficit…”
“Christus jubet, sufficit…”
“Christus jubet, sufficit…”
Christ commands that is enough

By Chris Clody
1/17/14

Soon…very soon

images (5)A very long time ago Our Celestial Artist, One who’s name is sacred and indefinable to our limitations, clothed His creation called man with a fragile yet beautifully appointed canvas. His broad, brush-strokes of flesh colored pigment hid G_d‘s capacity while His smallest brush highlighted the sparkle in man’s eyes and invitation in man’s smile.  This masterpiece was intentionally delicate in the hues of free will which clung to immortality by friendship in The Painter’s ways.  Inevitably, seemingly expectantly, this fragile composition dared to live in its weakness instead of the glow of immortality’s obedience.

Still… despite the heartbreak of allowing the image of True Love’s design to exist in an increasing fragile state, all was not lost.  For His design was perfectly flawed and could never obtain complete independence from the very breath which gave it life.  Within the tangible artistry of man remained an eternal invisible soul.  The soul is our true piece of the Infinite Artist that yearns for it’s ways of profound love.  Guiding the souls to awake their sleeping pilots took time confused by its darkened priorities of pride and selfishness.

Still…there was hope.  Hope came on a cool, Bethlehem night when a star split the sky splashing brilliant colors on the hidden hillsides where shepherds rested with one eye opened. For its was deemed the perfect time to calm the watchful souls wrapped in selfish slumber.  Hope was clothed no differently in the tangible artistry and unremarkable to another…but within this soul it bound all souls to True Love’s discerning eye for detail.  As Hope’s story unfolded, it challenged all to embrace their true weakness and gratefully celebrate this flaw ironically designed to awake those sleeping in the warmth of their darkened ways. To galvanize that Hope truly walked among the sleeping, Our Benevolent Artist, framed His most indescribable masterpiece on blood-drenched wood for our future memory.

Still…many cannot see past the dark reds and horrendous tortured blues stilled in forever’s frame of human memory.  Not all have awakened – and to those it’s either laughable or shameful to parade this picture around in the general public.  Expressing True Love’s capacity hidden behind Calvary’s depiction has proven to be a well intentioned effort profoundly hampered at times by impatience and unforgiveness.  For hidden within the snapshot dressed in bruised blues, ashen flesh tones, and blood reds,  Hope lightly brushed the profound new colors of love, patience and forgiveness to the awakened hearts. These highlights of of Hope’s perseverance must be re-touched everyday for they are not self imposed or even possessed…they are a simply a daily gift.

Still…as the highlights of patience, forgiveness, and love sparkle and fade in today’s darkened hillsides; our souls still yearn for its sanctuary.  Soon…very soon, the sky will split again – not to awaken, but rather to judge both the awakened and the sleeping.

Dear friends, allow your brilliant colors of patience, forgiveness, and especially love to sparkle like Christmas lights today. If you realize you may still be sleeping – seek and you’ll find that true Christianity is beyond a strong cup of coffee.

In patience, forgiveness, and love,

Chris

Awakened

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Colors that bleed true surely never fade,
framed within a painting hard to describe.
Beyond the pale of blood reds and bruised blues,
Mounted on wood that challenges my pride.

As if abruptly awakened from bliss,
Sheltered under covers that cannot hide,
Forgiveness grants my heart new room so that,
Unexpected humility resides.

Yearning now replaces comfortable sleep,
Prayer becomes incessant with tears I weep,
Hope fills my days with colors that now bleed True,
With sacred reds and compassionate blues.

by Chris Clody 12/15/13

The Afterglow Of Silence…

I’m reveling in the afterglow of finding true silence at a men’s retreat this weekend.  It’s the kind of silence that one can’t really remember now that I’m once again surrounded by the noise of my everyday reality.   Like trying to recall lyrics of an old song while the radio blasts another Christmas melody, I can only sit and smile knowing silence… deep, penetrating silence, really did happen.  I’m also grateful I was availed the opportunity to give the closing presentation, which I would love to post it all for you – but that would seem like twenty minutes stripped out of the context from the forty hours encompassing this retreat.  Still, I am compelled to share some portions that I pray you find encouraging – regardless if you are Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc… you get the picture.  Although many of you may differ from my expression of Christianity, it is my greatest desire that you recognize the symptoms of my Catholicism as the proposal of God’s love should the mere admission of my Tradition push your mouse to surf elsewhere.  I’ll edit the following portion lightly and humbly invite your heart to read what I believe our souls crave …

A portion of this presentation, “Putting your faith into action”, is inspired by scriptures found in both Mark and James:

Mark 16:14-18    Go out to all the world and proclaim the good news

James 1:22-25     Be not merely hearers of the word, but also doers 

Maybe it’s more than putting your money where your mouth is, but rather sharing your heart where your treasure is.  Recently, I have wondered with a heavy heart if I have been growing rich in what is of value to God.  I continue to learn that my masculinity hinges on humility and a growing vulnerability that allows God’s quiet will for my life.  Although, through mentors, friends, and community have help me discern a faith-filled vision for my life, I have often run blind in my selfishness and regret.  I have learned I cannot serve two masters.  I cannot juggle between choices that either pull me towards or push me away from God.  Thankfully, I am not alone in this battle of wills knowing God provides all of us with helps.  However the Holy Spirit chooses to intercede in our lives, discerning and accepting through love will bring not just Glory to God but peace within the soul.  Faith-filled, unhesitating, compassionate action that propels the Christian towards charity does not become a priority in ones’ heart overnight.

Listen to the words of St. Francis De Sales:

You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; and just so, you learn to love by loving.  All those who think to learn in another way deceive themselves.”

God’s love is our sacrament.  God’s love gives us our worth.  The grace of God’s love is found in the unexpected gift of faith which is our growing awareness of His omniscience.  Becoming still… allows us to contemplate the temple we hold within ourselves.  God lights this temple through the wounds of His Son’s glorified body – whose very wounds are an endless plea before the Father on our behalf.  The temple walls we freely and joyfully build to house this extraordinary light are mortared in humility, faith, and hope – but the bricks we stack, one upon another, are formed solely through the love of God and neighbor.  We must recognize love before we put our faith into action. 

Our first steps towards loving are encouraged by the very words of “follow me” gently spoken by Jesus, the God-man who lifts us up and invites you and I to The Way…of God.   It is in those two words whispered within new hearts for God that can be heard in the stillness we seek.  Listen…to the writer in Hebrews, “Today, if you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”  

This retreat offers us an opportunity to be still and know God.  In those moments of clarity, when silence becomes the window pane to our soul, we begin to realize our own transparency in communicating to The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.  Although we may see ourselves dimly, we quickly realize that God sees us in a totality we cannot yet fathom.  It is in the beauty of silence that we also realize how God wants us to view ourselves in the unique will He made for us.  When we die a little each day to life’s distractions to simply live momentarily in divine communion, our “Time and Choices”  begin to fill with love.  A heart can only transform to respond to the Gospel when it first fills with love.

Love will move mountains…and climb them.

Love will conquer all.

Love has redeemed those willing to say “yes” to lifting their cross and following Christ.

And…love has and will continue to give courage to those martyred in their final walk of justice.

We must accept the full capacity of God’s love so we may fully trust in putting our faith into action.  My dear friend and mentor, Bob, continues to exemplify to me a trust resting in a love that casts out all fears – but again, that didn’t just happen to him overnight.

I have grown to adore the slow hand of God in my life.  It reminds me of His patience with me so my humility can be offered to another.  My immediate and greatest source of witnessing humility is watching our priest consecrate the sacrifice of the mass. To my awe – Holy Orders appears to distill down to this moment of profound Grace as our priest submits to becoming an instrument of God’s sublime charity.  Before you leave this retreat, we will celebrate the mass, during that moment our priest invokes the Holy Spirit to sanctify the bread and wine,… remember your transparency as you step forward to receive and become part of something extraordinary.   Upon the close of each mass we are “sent out” to become bread that is broken and shared and wine that is fearlessly poured out for others.  Ask God to show you injustice to the innate dignity of your brothers and sisters.  Whether it simply handing out a hot cup of coffee or a pair of warm, clean socks to the poor that gather on the corner of Michigan and Adams Streets every Saturday morning, or visiting a sick friend, or encouraging a prisoner with hope, or praying in vigilance in front of an abortion clinic – seek…and you will find the life of God’s will before you.  Remember the words of Blessed Mother Teresa, “Where there is love, there is God.”  If love inspires then peace will follow.   Immeasurable peace, a type this world cannot sell you, comes on the hinge of humility when we open that door in trust to accept that invitation to follow Christ.  Let’s pray we allow this profound sense of trust to pass through us like a filter, removing all seeds of hesitation to follow the One who makes all things new.

Therefore…what we profess in faith we must live in fact.

St. James reminds us that we delude ourselves by simply being mere hearers and not doers of the word.   We must receive what God reveals to us and respond humbly and obediently – considering it all a joy knowing your faith produces perseverance. (Paraphrased from James 1:2-3)

Let us help each other to accept this challenge.  Let our bonds of fellowship encourage one another, especially when doing so becomes difficult.  As a Catholic community, I pray we are willing to stand strong for others who endure unkind reactions when responding publicly to our Lord’s will.  If we find ourselves ostracized, insulted or worse…then pray we find strength in the words of Jesus who says. 

“Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven”

(Matthew 5:11-12a).

 

Our lives offer us many opportunities to put our faith into action, to be doers of the word — treasure that “time” and spend it wisely.

Remember, God not only loved us…….

but He did something about it…

 



Lead Me Lord 

Love has ravaged this unexpected heart,
Love has stolen my selfishness and pride.
Love sculptures granite into works of art,
Love invites me to follow alongside,
Strengthened by a yoke that becomes my guide.

Lead me Lord and I will surely follow.
Knowing you patiently wait by my side.
For by your blood I fear no tomorrow,
The courage of martyrs leaves no sorrow,
Grief finds all – yet without despair’s shadow.

Yes, love has invaded this unwary heart,
A knife that cuts straight through the marrow,
Separated from Adam I depart,
Clinging to Christ whose blood sets me apart,
My love draws my faith, like a horse pulls a cart.

I hear your voice O’ Lord,
And respond to your call,
Help me live my faith,
Lift me from Adam’s fall.

The harvest has many,
Your disciples are few,
Add me to their comp’ny,
Lord make this old man new!

Extending from my church,
Turn faith into action,
An olive branch of hope,
A hand of Your compassion.

©2012 by Chris Clody 11/2/2012

Please “Leave a reply” and share your retreat experiences or your thoughts when we become still and get to know God. His Peace…

For more Christian encouragement check out my ebook by clicking the following link:

Thoughts2Share

 

Beware of posing as a profound person…

…after all, God became a baby.  

This little sentence has quieted me, not because I think I’m profound, but because I feel completely undone when I think of what length our God will go to reel us in.  Although my time away from my blog was filled with other writing including a retreat presentation, understanding Mary and a possible children’s book,  I now feel slightly guarded about “sounding profound” in blogging.  Offering Christian encouragement is not a chore for me, although I prefer the give-and-take of real conversation instead of unloading paragraph after paragraph.  The work, however, is in the hesitation of sounding as if I have an ear closer to the mind of God than somebody else.   If it helps you, I don’t hear the actual voice of God, but I do feel consumed by an irrepressible need to share God’s mercy to the vulnerable heart.   I am driven to offer the good tidings of hope won for all by Christ not out of vanity’s eloquence but for the sake of love.   It is the simple love of God that we needful creatures strive to understand.   One of my greatest fears in writing about what continues to burn in my bones is sounding “preachy”.  Even though my words may not be the key to another’s lock, still the thought of losing one’s attention because the message is sacrificed by the messenger is troubling as it is sad for me.   Somehow this time away from my blog has found rest when contemplating the silent Jesus in Mary’s womb.   There seems to be, at least to me, no worthy place for me to be profound when the holy life of Jesus, both fully human and fully God, began redemption from a fertilized egg to giving up His ghost.   As profound and impressive it was that God revealed Himself to us through the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection, the wonder God induces is simply a gift to understand His love for us.   It is when the warmth of gratitude slowly rages to engulf your bones with God’s all-consuming fire, that the miracle of Christmas, the very incarnation of “God with us”, changes a heart to live in the freedom of God’s will.   Gratitude to do the will of God is not out of obligatory fear but obedience to a righteous plan for our unique life.  I am grateful for the time away from blogging to further remind me that we were made to be much more than profound, we were made to be awed and respond in love.

 I’d like to leave you with a poem I wrote to encourage men while recently on retreat called “Respond in Love.”

His Peace,

Chris

Respond in love  

 You’re just syllables of the Perfect Word. 
You’re our fallen world’s rustling leaves of change.
You’re Salt to soup the resurrection stirs,
Hopeful hands catching tears from Adam’s shame;
Setting the world ablaze with but one flame.

Life without love is but life without Christ,
In Him alone salvation makes its claim.
Endless love has conquered death and paid your price
Will love within you burn or turn to ice?

If you’re without Love,
Unfading awe wanes,
Forgiveness falters
Love is less humane.

If you have not love,
Your light becomes dim,
No fuel for your lamp,
No wick left to trim.

But, if you have love –
Your calling is sure.
Your vision is clear.
And your hope secure.

Yes! If you have love –
Desire is strong,
Strongholds soon crumble-
To Calv’ry’s swan song.

Yes! If you have love –
Your gaze becomes steel,
Always proclaiming –
That your God is real…

Therefore…
Give yourself to God – He Gave Himself to you,
Put faith into action, and God will renew
Always respond in a love you can’t control,
And remember that Christianity…
    is God’s marriage proposal to the soul.

©2011 by Chris Clody 11/12/2011

   

Please “Leave a reply” that helps others understand your understanding of God’s love.

For more Christian encouragement check out my ebook by clicking the following link: Thoughts2Share

“A true friend stabs you in the front.”

Of the many quotes gleaned from Oscar Wilde’s legacy, this heads the top of my list.  Without an honest exchange of truth, relationships fail.   There can be no intimacy between two people unless our hearts accessorize our sleeves.   Selfish facades that shadow our agenda eventually implode in loneliness and hardened hearts.  Pure gold of friendship is separated from the dross of comfortable acquaintance when the charity of truth pierces the dark portion of that friend’s heart.  Real friendship demands truth in order to appreciate the freedom and intimate humility of each other’s presence. 

So, what is Truth?  It shouldn’t then surprise us that the answer comes at the end of a blade – one which we allow entry into the depths of our insecurities.  Although life offers many chances to despair, our greatest fear is death.  The Truth about death is that it has been conquered and indestructible life through Christ is offered freely to those who allow the blade of God’s conviction to sink deep into the marrow of repentance, extinguishing the poisonous life of selfish pride, and gratefully die to the life in obedient love.  Amazingly, the greatest of all disciples, quietly and quickly said “yes” to the steep cost of discipleship.  However, when I sit back and wonder why it was a woman, a virgin, where prophetic generations from early church fathers through the likes of Luther and Calvin and beyond that call her blessed – I am less surprised.  Today, with 250 births per minute, that are preceded with nine months of anticipation, concern, fear, pain, and the possibility of death – who better would understand and accept the cost of literal impregnation with the burden of discipleship.   Soon afterward, in obedience to Judaic practice, Mary and Joseph brought their newborn Jesus to be blessed at the temple.  Listen to following conversation found in Luke 2:27-35 and hear the charity of this honest and profoundly concerning dialogue:

27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:
       29 “ Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
      According to Your word;
       30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation
       31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
       32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
      And the glory of Your people Israel.”

33 And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against 35 (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

As predicted, the greatest moment in friendship shines on the edge of a sword.  Quietly, without hesitation she accepts this moment along with her future in composed obedience.  Would I?  Would you?  If we join her at Calvary could we stand, yes…stand, with her and stare at the real cost of discipleship?  Could we endure staring at the innocent victim, who calls us friend, who pleads in broken gasps to His Father to forgive our ignorance?  The very cross that plunges into Calvary now pierces the soul of the mother we courageously stand shoulder to shoulder with while our empathy crushes the sorrowful thoughts from our hearts like an olive press.

Jesus asks me to be His friend as He does you. Beyond being a friend and brother, Jesus is the Truth.  Jesus is the only face upon which we gaze for our salvation.  Dare we accept the blade of obedient love in exchange for Glory?  Will we dare abandon ourselves to quickly and quietly say ‘yes’ without regret?  Will we let a true friend stab us in the front?

The Truth

 

His Truth is a double-edged sword –

A friend that stabs me in the front.

The cost of love is my reward,

A priceless pearl I treasure hunt –

Despite the weather I confront.

 

Lord grant me the serenity,

In this calling’s endless affront,

To return Your love that set me free,

And make you my identity.

 

Let my fiat be like Mary’s,

One said quietly and quickly –

To bear God’s fruit I must carry.

 

O my Jesus, if I must choose,

Then let me die by the sword that you use.

 

©2011 by Chris Clody 11/4/2011

Please “Leave a reply” that helps others understand your view of discipleship. Thanks!

For more Christian encouragement check out my ebook by clicking the following link: Thoughts2Share