December 30, 2009

December The Thirtieth

HEAVENLY and eternal Father, Source of all being, from whom I spring, unto whom I shall return, -- Thine I shall ever be. Thou wilt call me unto Thyself when my hour comes. Blessed shall I then be if I can say, "I have fought a good fight." I fear not death, O Father of life; for death is not eternal sleep; it is the transition to a new life, a moment of glorious transformation, an ascension towards Thee.
How could that be an evil that cometh from Thy hand, when Thou art the All-good! Lord of life and death, I am in Thy hand; do unto me as Thou deemest fit; for what Thou dost is well done.
When Thou didst call me from nothing into life, Thou didst will my happiness; when Thou callest me away from life, will my happiness be less Thy care?
No, no, Thou art love, and whosoever dwells in love dwells in Thee, O Lord, and Thou in him - Amen.

John Barnett, a Dust Bowl farmer, and his family in Oklahoma in 1942. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt from Life magazine archives.

December 29, 2009

December The Twenty-Ninth

AH, GOD! behold my grief and care. Fain would I serve Thee with a glad and cheerful countenance, but I cannot do it. However much I fight and struggle against my sadness, I am too weak for this sore conflict. Help me in my weakness, O Thou mighty God! and give me Thy Holy Spirit to refresh and comfort me in my sorrow. Amid all my fears and griefs I yet know that I am Thine in life and death, and that nothing can really part me from Thee; neighter things present, nor things to come, neither trial, nor fear, nor pain. And therefore, O Lord, I will still trust in Thy grave. Thou wilt not send me away unheard. Sooner or later Thou wilt lift this burden from my heart, and put a new song in my lips; and I will praise Thy goodness, and thank and serve Thee here and for evermore - Amen.

-- S. SCHERETZ (1584-1639)

December 28, 2009

December The Twenty-Eighth

O LORD, we acknowledge Thy dominion over us; our life, our death, our soul and body, all belong to Thee. Oh, grant that we may willingly consecrate them all to Thee, and use them in Thy service. Let us walk before Thee in childlike simplicity, steadfat in prayer; looking ever unto Thee, that whatsoever we do or abstain from we may in all things follow the least indications of Thy will. Become Lord of our hearts and spirits; that the whole inner man may be brought under Thy rule, and that Thy life of love and righteousness may pervade all oru thoughts and energies and the very ground of our souls; that we may be wholly filled with it. Come, O Lord and King, enter into our hearts, and live and reign there for ever and ever. O faithful Lord, teach us to trust Thee for life and death, and to take Thee for our All in All - Amen.


December 27, 2009

December The Twenty-Seventh

GRANT unto us, O Lord God, that we may love one another unfeignedly; for where love is, there art Thou; and he that loveth his brother is born of Thee, and dwelleth in Thee, and Thou in him. And where brethren do glorify Thee with one accord, there dost Thou pour out Thy blessing upon them. Love us, therefore, O Lord, and shed Thy love into our hearts, that we may love Thee, and our brethren in Thee and for Thee, as all children to Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord - Amen.


December The Twenty-Sixth

WE BLESS Thy holy name for all Thy servants departed this life in Thy faith and fear; beseeching Thee to give us grace so to follow their good examples, that with them we may be partakers of Thy heavenly kingdom. Grant this, O Father, for Jesus Christ's sake, our only Mediator and Advocate - Amen.


December 25, 2009

December The Twenty-Fifth

O BLESSED Lord Jesus, give us thankful hearts today for Thee, our choicest gift, our dearest guest. Let not our souls be busy inns that have no room for Thee and Thine, but quiet homes of prayer and praise where Thou mayest find fit company, where the needful cares of life are wisely ordered and put away, and wide, sweet spaces kept for Thee, where holy thoughts pass up and down, and fervent longings watch for and wait Thy coming.
So, when Thou comest again, O Blessed One, mayest Thou find all things ready, and they servants waiting for no new master, but for one long loved and known. Even so, come, Lord Jesus - Amen.


December The Twenty-Fourth

ALMIGHTY God, we give Thee thanks for the mighty yearning of the human heart for the coming of a Saviour, and the constant promise of Thy Word that He was to come. In our own souls we repeat the humble sighs and panting aspirations of ancient men and ages, and own that our souls are in darkness and infirmity without faith in Him who comes to bring God to man and man to God. We bless Thee for the tribute that we can pay to Him from our very sense of need and dependence, and that our own hearts can so answer, from their wilderness, the cry, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." In us the rough places are to be made smooth, the crooked straight, the mountains of pride brought low, and the valleys of despondency lifted up. O God, prepare Thou the way in us now, and may we welcome anew Thy Holy Child. Hosanna! blessed be He who cometh in the name of the Lord - Amen.


December 23, 2009

December The Twenty-Third

ALMIGHTY God, Giver of all good, who hast given, above all Thy gifts, the crowning mercy that we are called in Christ Jesus to know and love and serve Thee, we would bring Thee thanks and praises for the Divine Light which reveals the heart of grace in Thy leading of souls and peoples. Help us to rise to a fit gratitude for the over-running blessings which Thou givest ever, even to the darkest lot and life, -- the temporal felicities, the Divine comforts, the eternal hopes. That all things are of Thy mercy, by Thy mercy, and in Thy mercy, we thank Thee. Make us to sing Thy song in the light, and in the night to touch Thy hand and be at peace. Grant, we pray, with all other blessings, Thy best gift, thankful and trustful hearts, that Thou mayest be our Lord and King for evermore - Amen.


December The Twenty-Second

BE Thou favorable unto me, merciful, sweet and gracious Lord, and grant to me, Thy poor, needy creature, sometimes at least to feel if it be but a small portion of Thy hearty affectionate love; that my faith may become more strong, my hope in Thy goodness may be increased, and that love, once kindled within me, may never fail - Amen.


December 21, 2009

December The Twenty-First

ETERNAL Light, before whom all darkness is light, and, in comparison with whom, every other light is but darkness, may it please Thee to send forth Thy light and Thy truth, that they may lead us. Purify, we pray Thee, our souls from all impure imaginations, that Thy most beautiful and holy image may be again renewed within us, and, by contemplating Thy glorious perfections, we may feel daily improved within us that Divine similitude the perfection whereof we hope will at last make us forever happy in that full and beatific vision we aspire after. Till this most blessed day break, and the shadows fly away, let Thy Spirit be continually with us, and may we feel the powerful effects of Thy divine grace constantly directing and supporting our steps; that all our endeavors, throughout the whole remaining part of our lives, may serve to promote the honor of Thy blessed name, through Jesus Christ our Lord - Amen.

-- ROBERT LEIGHTON (1611-1684)
see Substance and Shadow for more on the Dec. 31 full moon (blue moon) and partial eclipse

December 20, 2009

December The Twentieth

ALMIGHTY and merciful God, who art the Strength of the weak, the Refreshment of the weary, the Comfort of the sad, the Help of the tempted, the Life of the dying, the God of patience and of all consolation; Thou knowest full well the inner weakness of our nature, how we tremble and quiver before pain, and cannot bear the cross without Thy Divine help and support.
Help me, then, O eternal and pitying God, help me to possess my soul in patience, to maintain unshaken hope in Thee, to keep that childlike trust which feels a Father's heart hidden beneath the cross; so shall I be strengthened with power according to Thy glorious might, in all patience and long-suffering; I shall be enabled to endure pain and temptation, and, in the very depth of my suffering, to praise Thee with a joyful heart -- Amen.

-- JOHANN HABERMANN (1516-1590)

December The Nineteenth

O GOD of patience and consolation, give us such goodwill, we beseech Thee, that with free hearts we may love and serve Thee and our brethren; and, having thus the mind of Christ, may begin heaven on earth, and exercise ourselves therein till that day when heave where love abideth shall seem no strange habitation to us. For Jesus Christ's sake - Amen.


December 19, 2009

December The Eighteenth

ALMIGHTY Lord our God, direct our steps into the way of peace, and strengthen our hearts to obey Thy commands; may the Day-spring visit us from on high, and give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death; that they may adore Thee for Thy mercy, follow Thee for Thy truth, desire Thee for Thy sweetness, who art the blessed Lord God of Israel - Amen.


December 17, 2009

December The Seventeenth

TRULY we often ask too much of those we love. We want their time, their work, their commitment to our causes and needs. We don't stop to put ourselves in their place and ask exactly how much we are asking of them. The sharp word, the tone in a voice that breaks off little pieces of our hearts. Add all this to the burdens of everyday life and it sometimes becomes too much. Give us strength, Lord - Amen
-- by the blog author

December 16, 2009

December The Sixteenth

O LORD my God, be not Thou far from me; my God, have regard to help me; for there have risen up against me sundry thoughts, and great fears, afflicting my soul. How shall I pass through unhurt? how shall I break them to pieces? This is my hope, my one (and) only consolation, to flee unto Thee in every tribulation, to trust in Thee, to call upon Thee from my inmost heart, and to wait patiently for Thy consolation - Amen.

photo of Carl Mydans, 1966, by John Loengard, Life magazine archives

December 15, 2009

December The Fifteenth

BLESS us today, O Father, with the realization of Thy presence. As we meet in humble paths of service, grant us that consciousness of Thy challenge to each of our lives which shall redeem any labor from seeming trivial, and so change for us the tragedy and chaos of the world without Thee into a prolonged field of honor.
Grant us, we pray Thee, to taste in these homeliest activities the joy of being the very knights of God. Give to us now and always that glorious vision of Thy fellowship which shall strengthen our courage, and transform our halting faith into Christ's certainty of the meaning of life.
Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord - Amen.


December The Fourteenth

O LORD, by all Thy dealings with us, whether of joy or pain, of light or darkness, let us be brought to Thee. Let us value no treatment of Thy grace simply because it makes us happy or because it makes us sad, because it gives us or denies us what we want; but may all that Thou sendest us bring us to Thee, that knowing Thy perfectness we may be sure in every disappointment that Thou art still loving us, and in every darkness that Thou art still enlightening us, and in every enforced idleness that Thou art still using us; yea, in every death that Thou art giving us life, as in His death Thou didst give life to Thy son our Saviour Jesus Christ - Amen.


December 13, 2009

December The Thirteenth

HOW shall we pray Thee,
O Lord of our life,
For those that are dearer to us than our life?

How but in laying their souls in Thy hand,
As a child his most treasured possession
In the hands of his mother, to show her his love?

Thus we bring Thee to-day these souls that we love,
And we render them gladly to Thee,
The best gift that we have.

And we pray Thee the while, with the trust of a child,
Take them and hold them Thyself;
Keeping them ever next to Thy heart.


December 12, 2009

December The Twelfth

ALMIGHTY God, who changest not amid the strifes of the world, grant us Thy peace; in all its changefulness be Thou our stay; deliver us from its vanities, and enable us to find our chief good in Thee. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and evil-speaking be put away from us; may we be kind-hearted, and learn to forgive one another, even as Thou hast forgiven us; through Jesus Christ our Lord - Amen.

Kindness of Maude Cullen, Life magazine archive, 1951 photo by W. Eugene Smith

December The Eleventh

O ALMIGHTY God, from whom every good prayer cometh; and who pourest out on all who desire it the spirit of grace and supplication; deliver us, when we draw nigh to Thee, from coldness of heart and wanderings of mind, that with steadfast thoughts and kindled affections we may worship Thee in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord - Amen.

"Grace the dummy" mannequin on display in Saks FifthAvenue's store window. New York, NY, US. Taken in 1937 by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt.

December 10, 2009

December The Tenth

O HOLY and loving Father, whose mercies are from everlasting to everlasting, we thank Thee that Thy children can flee for refuge in their afflictions to the blessed certainty of Thy love. From every grief that burdens our spirits, from the sense of solitude and loss, from the doubt and fainting of the soul in its trouble, we turn to Thee. Thou knowest our frame, Thou rememberest that we are dust. Be our Strength and Deliverer; in our great need be Thou our Helper; pour Thy consolations into our hearts, and let the gospel of Thy beloved Son minister comfort and peace to our souls - Amen.

- Refuge Church Temple, Harlem, N.Y., 195
8, photographer Carl Mydans, Life magazine archives

December 9, 2009

December The Ninth

O GOD, the Father of Light, from whom cometh down every good and perfect gift; mercifully look upon our frailty and infirmity, and grant us such health of body as Thou knowest to be needful for us; that both in our bodies and souls we may evermore serve Thee with all our strength and might; through Jesus Christ our Lord - Amen.

Life magazine archive

December 8, 2009

December The Eighth

O GOD, who tellest the number of the stars, and callest them all by their names; heal, we beseech Thee, the contrite in heart, and gather together the outcasts, and enrich us with the fullness of Thy wisdom; through Christ our Lord - Amen.


December 7, 2009

December The Seventh

BEHOLD, O Father of mercies, I resign myself and all that I have unto Thee. I rely upon Thy bounty for what Thou judgest fit and needful for me. Thy truth and faithfulness is my best security; Thy wisdom is my satisfaction in all events and accidents; Thy power is my support, protection and safeguard.
Lead me whiter Thou pleasest; and I will follow Thee with a cheerful heart. I refuse nothing which comes from Thy hands, O most loving Father. I submit to Thy orders, and hope that all things shall work together for my good. And I trust in Thy grace, that I shall always do as I do now, steadfastly adhering thus unto Thee, and never suffering anything that befalls me to pull me away from this humble faith in Thy wise and almighty goodness - Amen.

-- SIMON PATRICK (1626-1707)

December 6, 2009

December The Sixth

GRANT unto us, Almighty God, Thy peace that passeth understanding; that we, amid the storms and troubles of this our life, may rest in Thee, knowing that all things are in Thee, under Thy care, governed by Thy will, guarded by Thy love; so that with a quiet heart we may see the storms of life, the cloud and the thick darkness; ever rejoicing to know that the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee. Guide, guard, and govern us even to the end, that none of us may fail to lay hold upon the immortal life - Amen.


December 5, 2009

December The Fifth


All at once he is no longer
young with his handful of flowers
in the bright morning their fragrance
rising from them as though they were
still on the stalk where they opened
only this morning to the light
in which somewhere unseen the thrush
goes on singing its perfect song
into the day of the flowers
and while he stands there holding them
the cool dew runs from them onto
his hand at this hour of their lives
is it the hand of the young man
who found them only this morning

photo from Life magazine archives by Pierre Boulat in 1966

December 4, 2009

December The Fourth

RECEIVE, O Lord, in tranquility and peace, the souls of Thy servants, who out of this present life have departed unto Thee. Grant them rest, and place them in the habitations of light, the abode of blessed spirits. Give them the life that knoweth not age, good things that pass not away, and the delights that have no end; through Jesus Christ our Lord - Amen.

in memory of Dorothy Marie Vandehey, 9-25-1925 to 9-29-2009

December 3, 2009

December The Third

LORD, be with my spirit, and dwell in my heart by faith. Oh, make me such as I should be towards Thee, and such as Thou mayest take pleasure in me. He with me everywhere and at all times, in all events and circumstances of my life, to sanctify and sweeten to me whatever befalls me; and never leave nor forsake me in my present pilgrimage here, till Thou hast brought me safe through all trials and dangers to be ever with Thee, there to live in Thy sight and love, world with end - Amen.

-- BENJAMIN JENKS (1646-1724) Photo by Paul Schutzer, 1957, Life magazine archives

December The Second

LORD, take my lips and speak through them; take my mind, and think through it; take my heart, and set it on fire - Amen.


December 1, 2009

December The First

THOU, O Lord, who commandest me to ask, grant that I may receive; Thou hast put me upon seeking, let me be happy in finding; Thou hast bidden me knock, I pray Thee open unto me.
Be graciously pleased to direct and govern all my thoughts and actions, that, for the future, I may serve Thee, and entirely devote myself to obeying Thee. Accept me, I beseech Thee, and draw me to Thyself, that I may henceforth be Thine by obedience and love, who am already all Thine own as Thy creature; even Thine, O Lord, who livest and reignest for ever and ever - Amen.

-- ST. AUGUSTINE (354-430)
Photo by Paul Schutzer, 1957, Life magazine archives