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Feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist Do not be too quick to condemn the man who no longer believes in God: for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice and mediocrity and materialism and selfishness that have chilled his faith.

Thomas Merton Quotes

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Commemoration of Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury, 690 The preacher and the writer may seem to have an... easy task. At first sight, it may seem that they have only to proclaim and declare; but in fact, if their words are to enter men's hearts and bear fruit, they must be the right words, shaped cunningly to pass men's defenses and explode silently and effectually within their minds. This means, in practice, turning a face of flint toward the easy cliche, the well-worn religious cant and phraseology -- dear, no doubt, to the faithful, but utterly meaningless to those outside the fold. It means learning how people are thinking and how they are feeling; it means learning with patience, imagination and ingenuity the way to pierce apathy or blank lack of understanding. I sometimes wonder what hours of prayer and thought lie behind the apparently simple and spontaneous parables of the Gospel.

J. B. Phillips Quotes

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It may well be that the world is denied miracle after miracle and triumph after triumph because we will not bring to Christ what we have and what we are. If, just as we are, we would lay ourselves on the altar of service of Jesus Christ, there is no saying what Christ could do with us and through us. We may be sorry and embarrassed that we have not more to bring -- and rightly so; but that is not reason for failing or refusing to bring what we have and what we are. Little is always much in the hands of Christ.

William Barclay Quotes

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Feast of the Annunciation of our Lord to the Virgin Mary Concluding a Lenten series on prayer: Prayer is not a way of making use of God; prayer is a way of offering ourselves to God in order that He should be able to make use of us. It may be that one of our great faults in prayer is that we talk too much and listen too little. When prayer is at its highest we wait in silence for God's voice to us; we linger in His presence for His peace and His power to flow over us and around us; we lean back in His everlasting arms and feel the serenity of perfect security in Him.

William Barclay Quotes

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So long as we judge ourselves by human comparisons, there is plenty of room for self-satisfaction, and self-satisfaction kills faith, for faith is born of the sense of need. But when we compare ourselves with Jesus Christ, and through Him, with God, we are humbled to the dust, and then faith is born, for there is nothing left to do but to trust to the mercy of God.

William Barclay Quotes

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The idol-maker may know, more or less clearly, that he is only giving shape to the half-formed concept of God in his head; that his images are solid metaphors -- what we call symbols. The skeptical Greek philosopher may remind us that, after all, the image of Athena is only a symbol, only a means of fixing one's rambling thoughts upon the spirit that is Athena. Yet the idolater will persist in losing sight of the forest for the trees, and the god for the image. The gold and ivory statue of Athena becomes holy in itself, an answerer of prayer, a mysterious source of power, a material object somehow different from other objects. The crucifix, the plaster image, the saint's relic or miraculous medal or cheaply and illegibly printed Bible may become themselves things considered holy and magical, able to stop a bullet. Worse yet, the god confined in an image is a shrunken and powerless god. Because you have limited your concept of God to a man shape on a carved crucifix, you may be in danger of inferring that you are free to outrage the man shapes walking and breathing around you. Because you worship the god in a specially baked wafer and a specially designed chalice, you may forget to worship the God of all bread and all wine.

Joy Davidman Quotes

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Love always involves responsibility, and love always involves sacrifice. And we do not really love Christ unless we are prepared to face His task and to take up His Cross.

William Barclay Quotes

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Feast of the Birth of John the Baptist "Thou shalt not" is the beginning of wisdom. But the end of wisdom, the new law, is, "Thou shalt." To be Christian is to be old? Not a bit of it. To be Christian is to be reborn, and free, and unafraid, and immortally young.

Joy Davidman Quotes

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If a man fights his way through his doubts to the conviction that Jesus Christ is Lord, he has attained to a certainty that the man who unthinkingly accepts things can never reach.

William Barclay Quotes

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The tragedy of life and of the world is not that men do not know God; the tragedy is that, knowing Him, they still insist on going their own way.

William Barclay Quotes

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Commemoration of Thomas Merton, Monk, Spiritual Writer, 1968 This matter of "salvation" is, when seen intuitively, a very simple thing. But when we analyze it, it turns into a complex tangle of paradoxes. We become ourselves by dying to ourselves. We gain only what we give up, and if we give up everything we gain everything. We cannot find ourselves within ourselves, but only in others; yet at the same time, before we can go out to others we must first find ourselves. We must forget ourselves in order to become truly conscious of who we are. The best way to love ourselves is to love others; yet we cannot love others unless we love ourselves, since it is written, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." But if we love ourselves in the wrong way, we become incapable of loving anybody else. And indeed when we love ourselves wrongly, we hate ourselves; if we hate ourselves we cannot help hating others. Yet there is a sense in which we must hate others and leave them in order to find God... As for this finding of God, we cannot even look for Him unless we have already found Him, and we cannot find Him unless He has first found us. We cannot begin to seek Him without a special gift of His grace; yet if we wait for grace to move us before beginning to seek Him, we will probably never begin.

Thomas Merton Quotes

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Feast of the Venerable Bede, Priest, Monk of Jarrow, Historian, 735 Commemoration of Aldhelm, Abbot of Mamsbury, Bishop of Sherborne, 709 In the way of virtue, there is no standing still; anyone who does not daily advance, loses ground. To remain at a standstill is impossible; he that gains not, loses; he that ascends not, descends. If one does not ascend the ladder, one must descend; if one does not conquer, one will be conquered.

St. Bonaventure Quotes

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Suppose Christianity is not a religion but a way of life, a falling in love with God, and, through Him, a falling in love with our fellows. Of course, such a way is hard and costly, but it is also joyous and rewarding even in the here-and-now. People who follow that Way know beyond all possible argument that they are in harmony with the purpose of God, that Christ is with them and in them as they set about His work in our disordered world. If anyone thinks this is perilous and revolutionary teaching, so much the better. That is exactly what they thought of the teaching of Jesus Christ. The light He brought to bear upon human affairs is almost unbearably brilliant: but it is the light of Truth, and in that light human problems can be solved.

J. B. Phillips Quotes

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Feast of Antony of Egypt, Abbot, 356 Commemoration of Charles Gore, Bishop, Teacher, Founder of the Community of the Resurrection, 1932 What fellowship means in material matters is made very plain. Every man is to work for his living. "If a man will not work, neither let him eat." But those who cannot work are to be provided for out of the common fund. Old and helpless persons who have relations of their own should, indeed, find support from them and not be forced to come upon the Church; but for the resourceless the Church must provide. And those who are rich and who earn more than enough to support their own families are to be willing contributors to the common fund. The love of money -- the desire to accumulate wealth -- is the root of every kind of evil. The relation of one to another is to be that of members in one body, in which, if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it.

Charles Gore Quotes

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One of Paul's most important teachings... is the doctrine of what we call "justification by faith". It frequently appears to the non-Christian mind that this is an immoral or at least unmoral doctrine. Paul appears to be saying that a man is justified before God, not by his goodness or badness, not by his good deeds or bad deeds, but by believing in a certain doctrine of Atonement. Of course, when we come to examine the matter more closely, we can see that there is nothing unmoral in this teaching at all. For if "faith" means using a God-given faculty to apprehend the unseen divine order, and means, moreover, involving oneself in that order by personal commitment, we can at once see how different that is from merely accepting a certain view of Christian redemption... That which man in every religion, every century, every country, was powerless to affect, God has achieved by the devastating humility of His action and suffering in Jesus Christ. Now, accepting such an action as a fait accompli is only possible by this perceptive faculty of "faith". It requires not merely intellectual assent but a shifting of personal trust from the achievements of the self to the completely undeserved action of God. To accept this teaching by mind and heart does, indeed, require a metanoia ["transformation"], a revolution in the outlook of both heart and mind.

J. B. Phillips Quotes

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Maundy Thursday There is joy and strength, of course, in this holy food and drink, but it is also an inevitable joining forces with the vast Scheme of reconciliation and redemption. Now there is something in our natural selves that may well make us wary of such a contact. The man who in his heart intends to go on being selfish or proud, or who has already decided how far his Christian convictions should carry him, is probably obeying a sound instinct when he keeps away from this glorious but perilous Sacrament. For, if the truth be told, men are often willing to put their trust in a god who in the end must be triumphant, simply because they want to be on the winning side; but they are not nearly so ready to bear any part of the cost of that winning. Yet the fellowship of the broken bread and the poured-out wine can mean no less than that.

J. B. Phillips Quotes

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A man can not be "friends with" God on any other terms than complete obedience to Him, and that includes being "friends with" his fellow man. Christ stated emphatically that it was quite impossible, in the nature of things, for a man to be at peace with God and at variance with his neighbor. This disquieting fact is often hushed up, but it is undeniable that Christ said it, and the truth of it is enshrined in the petition for forgiveness in the "Lord's Prayer.".

J. B. Phillips Quotes

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Feast of Andrew the Apostle I would very earnestly ask you to check your conception of Christ, the image of Him which as a Christian you hold in your mind, with the actual revealed Person who can be seen and studied in action in the pages of the Gospels. It may be of some value to hold in our minds a bundle of assorted ideals to influence and control our conduct. But surely we need to be very careful before we give that "bundle" the name of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

J. B. Phillips Quotes

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The 'outsider' who knows nothing of the mixture of tradition, conviction, honest difference, and hidden resentment, that lies behind the divisions of the Christian Church sees clearly the advantage of a united Christian front and cannot see why the Churches cannot 'get together'. The problem is doubtless complicated, for there are many honest differences held with equal sincerity, but it is only made insoluble because the different denominations are (possibly unconsciously) imagining God to be Roman or Anglican or Baptist or Methodist or Presbyterian or what have you. If they could see beyond their little inadequate god, and glimpse the reality of God, they might even laugh a little and perhaps weep a little. The result would be a unity that actually does transcend differences, instead of ignoring them with public politeness and private contempt.

J. B. Phillips Quotes

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God may thunder His commands from Mount Sinai and men may fear, yet remain at heart exactly as they were before. But let a man once see his God down in the arena as a Man, -- suffering, tempted, sweating, and agonized, finally dying a criminal's death - and he is a hard man indeed who is untouched.

J. B. Phillips Quotes

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Feast of George, Martyr, Patron of England, c.304 Commemoration of Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury, Teacher, 1988 Faith is not the holding of correct doctrines, but personal fellowship with the Living God... What is offered to man's apprehension in any specific revelation is not truth concerning God but the Living God Himself.

William Temple Quotes

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Feast of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, Teacher, 373 Our thoughtful observer who is outside the Churches has done a good deal of thinking on his own. The discoveries of modern physical and biological science, of astronomy, and of psychology, have profoundly influenced his conception of the "size" of God. If there be a Mind behind the immense complexities of the phenomena that man can observe, then it is that of a Being tremendous in His power and wisdom: it is emphatically not that of a little god. It is perfectly conceivable that such a Being has a moral purpose which is being worked out on the stage of this small planet. It is even possible to believe that such a God deliberately reduced Himself to the stature of humanity in order to visit the earth in Person, as all Christians affirm.

J. B. Phillips Quotes

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So long as a man confines his ideas of Christ to a rather misty hero figure of long ago who died a tragic death, and so long as his ideas of Christianity are bounded by what he calls the Sermon on the Mount (which he has almost certainly not read in its entirety since he became grown-up), then the living truth never has a chance to touch him. This is plainly what has happened to many otherwise intelligent people. Over the years I have had hundreds of conversations with people, many of them of higher intellectual calibre than my own, who quite obviously had no idea of what Christianity is really about. I was in no case trying to catch them out: I was simply and gently trying to find out what they knew about the New Testament. My conclusion was that they knew virtually nothing. This I find pathetic and somewhat horrifying. It means that the most important Event in human history is politely and quietly bypassed. For it is not as though the evidence had been examined and found unconvincing: it had simply never been examined.

J. B. Phillips Quotes

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Feast of Saints & Martyrs of England It frequently happens that the value of a thing lies in the fact that someone has possessed it. A very ordinary thing acquires a new value, if it has been possessed by some famous person. In any museum we will find quite ordinary things--clothes, a walking-stick, a pen, pieces of furniture--which are only of value because they were possessed and used by some great person. It is the ownership which gives them worth. It is so with the Christian. The Christian may be a very ordinary person, but he acquires a new value and dignity and greatness because he belongs to God. The greatness of the Christian lies in the fact that he is God's.

William Barclay Quotes

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Some people are reluctant to consider the future, arguing that it must be left to solve its own problems and to shape its own beliefs. In all right efforts for the future, religion must be given first place. No provision to secure peace or just social principles can be worth much unless the foremost aim be to establish the Kingdom of God. It is not the minds and bodies only of generations to come that have to be remembered, but their immortal souls.

John Oxenham Quotes

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