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Listening to Tradition, Thursday, November 6, 2008


Quotes from John Adams


" The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principals of Christianity... I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God."

• "[July 4th] ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty."

-John Adams in a letter written to Abigail on the day the Declaration was approved by Congress

From the Philokalia


I found this from the Philokalia, further wisdom from the desert fathers.


We should on no account wear ourselves out with anxiety over our bodily needs. With our whole soul let us trust in God : as one of the Fathers said, 'Entrust yourself to the Lord, and all will be entrusted to you.' 'Show restraint and moderation,' writes the Apostle Peter, 'and be watchful in prayer .... casting all your care upon God, since He cares for you'.

But if you still feel uncertainty, doubting whether He really cares about providing for you, think of the spider and compare it with a human being. Nothing is more weak and powerless than a spider. It has no possessions, makes no journeys overseas, does not engage in litigation, does not grow angry, and amasses no money. Its life is marked by complete gentleness, self-restraint and extreme stillness. It does not meddle in the affairs of others, but minds its own business; calmly and quietly it gets on with its own work. To those who love idleness it says, in effect: 'If anyone refuses to work, he should have nothing to eat'.

The spider is far more silent than Pythagoras, whom the ancient Greeks admired more than any other philosopher because of the control that he exercised over his tongue. Although Pythagoras did not talk with everyone, yet he did speak occasionally in secret with his closest friends; and often he lavished nonsensical remarks on oxen and eagles. He abstained altogether from wine and drank only water. The spider, however, achieves more than Pythagoras: it never utters a single word, and abstains from water as well as wine.

Living in this quiet fashion, humble and weak, never going outside or wandering about according to its fancy, always hard at work - nothing could be more lowly than the spider.

Nevertheless the Lord, 'who dwells on high but sees what is lowly', extends His providence even to the spider, sending it food every day, and causing tiny insects to fall in its web.

Saint John of Karpathos - "For the Encouragement of the Monks in India who had Written to Him: One Hundred Texts". The Philokalia: The Complete Text, Volume 1

This Bread and Wine


This Bread I Break
Dylan Thomas

This bread I break was once the oat,
This wine upon a foreign tree
Plunged in its fruit;
Man in the day or wind in the night
Laid the crops low, broke the grape’s joy.

Once in this wine the summer blood
Knocked in the flesh that decked the vine,
Once in this bread
The oat was merry in the wind;
Man broke the sun, pulled the wind down.

This flesh you break, this blood you let
Make desolation in the vein,
Were oat and grape
Born of the sensual root and sap;
My wine you drink, my bread you snap.

A Rose Bud


Well, it's not yet spring in the Rockies, but it is somewhere.

A Rose-Bud By My Early Walk
Robert Burns

A Rose-bud by my early walk,
Adown a corn-enclosed bawk,
Sae gently bent its thorny stalk,
All on a dewy morning.
Ere twice the shades o' dawn are fled,
In a' its crimson glory spread,
And drooping rich the dewy head,
It scents the early morning.

Within the bush her covert nest
A little linnet fondly prest;
The dew sat chilly on her breast,
Sae early in the morning.
She soon shall see her tender brood,
The pride, the pleasure o' the wood,
Amang the fresh green leaves bedew'd,
Awake the early morning.

So thou, dear bird, young Jeany fair,
On trembling string or vocal air,
Shall sweetly pay the tender care
That tents thy early morning.
So thou, sweet Rose-bud, young and gay,
Shalt beauteous blaze upon the day,
And bless the parent's evening ray
That watch'd thy early morning.

John Donne Sonnet


At the round earth’s imagin’d corners, blow
Your trumpets, Angels, and arise, arise
From death, you numberless infinities
Of souls, and to your scatter’d bodies go,
All whom the flood did, and fire shall o’erthrow,
All whom war, dearth, age, agues, tyrannies,
Despair, law, chance, hath slain, and you whose eyes,
Shall behold God, and never taste death’s woe.
But let them sleep Lord, and me mourn a space,
For, if above all these, my sins abound,
‘Tis late to ask abundance of thy grace,
When we are there; here on this lowly ground,
Teach me how to repent; for that’s as good
As if Thou hadst seal’d my pardon, with Thy Blood.

From Lists to Live By


A "List to Live By" From William Henry Channing who was a Civil War Chaplain:

TO LIVE CONTENT with small means,

TO SEEK ELEGANCE rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion,

TO BE WORTHY, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich,

TO STUDY HARD, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly,

TO LISTEN TO THE STARS and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart,

TO BEAR ALL cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never,

IN A WORD to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common,

This is to be my symphony.

This list is from a book called Lists to Live By, compiled by Alice Gray, Steve Stephens, John Van Diest.

Current Reading


I have removed the “Current Reading” list from the side bar of The 7 Habitus primarily because I forgot to update it on a regular basis. I think it would make more sense to simply do an occasional post with current and planned reading and, perhaps, a comment or two on whatever books are presently striking my fancy. So, here is the first installment.

Just Finished:

In the Beginning by Alister McGrath, a history of the King James Version of the Bible. More on this in another post.

Current Reading

The Reformation by Owen Chadwick, part of a series on the history of the Church published by Penguin in the early ‘60’s. I found this copy through and its inscription is a bit unusual. Most owners, if they write anything on the fly, usually put their name and possibly the date. This has only a date, in a small hand, at the upper left of the fly leaf – “Aug 6, 1964”. I wonder who owned this one, and why so cryptic an inscription?

A History of Christianity, by Paul Johnson – Although I have only just started this I already have some misgivings; Johnson seems quite ready in this history to attribute less than sincere motives to the Early Church Fathers in their defense of the faith against heresy.

Planned Reading

Faith and Certitude, Fr. Thomas DuBay. I have been distracted by other things and never finished reading this excellent study.

Ascent to the Truth, Thomas Merton. Due to the above mentioned distractions, I also never finished this and must get back to it.

Authenticity, Fr. Thomas DuBay.

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