Saturday, March 31, 2012

An Abyss na farraige (The Abyss of the sea)

It would be difficult to restrain myself from not being humbled at the very idea that I would selfishly prevent the words of my petty pen to flow onto pages, those words which mean to recollect nautical and theological tales of the works of the Lord on these waves of trials. Ah, my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ! I pray that the individual members of my audience would find the necessary mercy to pardon the great transgression which I have foolishly committed. I more than vividly recall making a similar plea in the past, requesting the forgiveness of my audience those many weeks ago. May my audience collectively turn to the love of our Lord to forget my iniquitous action. As the threatening waves of trials of this vast, but beautiful, sea perpetually attempt to take our meager boat asunder, Bréanninn, the brothers, and I continue to stand fast by the Lord Christ Jesus, He Whom we clap our hands for (cf. Psalms 47.1), Whom we undeservingly consult as our unfailing and mighty stronghold (cf. Psalms 18.2), and Who unceasingly blesses us to establish our spiritual vitality (cf. II Corinthians 9.8). When the waves seem overwhelming, we worship Him (cf. Psalms 23.4). During the days when the waves are tamer, we “praise Him in His mighty firmament” (Psalms 150.1b). Indeed, we still recall why we are together on this anointed nautical voyage, that is to “praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!” (Psalms 150.2). We suffer the waves of trials that we may be found even remotely worthy in the awesome Presence of God (cf. Isaiah 6; Ezekiel 1), for “the Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psalms 34.18).


In my last dated entry, I noted that Bréanninn strongly “...believes it to be best that we finally leave this isle within the next few days.” Well, not before receiving the assurance and the blessing of the Lord, the brothers and I left that comforting “iota of an isle” at last. Yet, that was many weeks ago. Now, that duration of time is merely a distant memory in the back of my mind. Other than a stop at a different isle to celebrate the birth of the Word Incarnate on Christmas together, we have been warring with the waves of trials on this wide-spanning sea. One day, the waves may quietly slosh by the edges of our humble little vessel. The next day, the waves may violently react to quite the tempest, noisily and ruthlessly beating against the sides of our boat, which leaves the brothers and me no choice but to “sing to the Lord” (Psalms 98.1), that He might awaken “ from sleep” (Psalms 78.65) and have mercy on our lives. Thus far, He has been compassionate to us by saving us from potential death in this life, which would mean nothing better than rejoicing and “being exceedingly glad,” for He has said that “...great is your reward in heaven...” (Matthew 5.12), which includes that “crown of life” given to those who are “faithful until death” (Revelation 2.10). During the time I produced not a single word onto this space of parchment, we have been tested by the waves, tried by the uncertainty of the features of the horizon, and tempted to complain over the lack of corporeal sustenance. Yet, we have remained faithful to our beloved Lord Christ Jesus, in whom we trust and love, for He is the “way, the truth, and the life” (John 14.6). By His revelatory knowledge and His saving graces, we know true life and true love. This opportunity to contemplate our Lord God is a beautiful one, and everyone on this tiny vessel is quite thankful to be a participant in this anointed voyage.


Remembering why we band of Christian brothers set sail from our beloved County Galway, and having compiled the experiences with the Lord which we have had, I would not hesitate to remark that this divinely anointed odyssey is not for vain. Rather, we have grown closer as a small contingent of spiritual siblings who would love nothing better than to see “...that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2.11), to whose unfathomable and unattainable perfection we strive to achieve (cf. Matthew 5.48) out of love for He who is the very embodiment of Love itself (cf. I John 4.8).


It is out of sheer honesty, compassion, and love that I write of the abundance of thanksgiving which simmers well within my soul due to the care the readers of this entry have exercised whilst pondering its words, which merely seek to sing the praise of our Lord Father, whose glory radiates from Heaven (cf. Psalms 19.1). It matters not how many pairs of eyes may glance over the marks of my pen; rather, the edification of those readers toward satisfaction in He who is “the resurrection and the life,” through belief in Whom, “though he may die, he shall live” (John 11.25). As the brothers and I continue to sail on these waves of trials, with a myriad of days having passed since the last landfall, our supply of water has shrunk to its last drops. But through my faith in He who is the embodiment of Wisdom (cf. Proverbs 8.22-30; James 3.17), who is “the bread of life” and the reason why I “...shall never hunger...shall never thirst” (John 6.35), I have the wonderful and awesome response to my song, that is the song of the psalmist, to our Lord:

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.

So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You” (Psalms 63.1-3).

Out of love for our King of kings, we “...will bless [Him] while [we] live” (Psalms 63.4). It was our beloved Lord of lords that quite recently revealed our next destination to Bréanninn. It is at that next island that we intend to celebrate the Holy Week of Easter, with its sacred days of Maundy Thursday, the Good Friday, and the day of the resurrection of our Lord Christ Jesus itself, that is Easter Sunday. Bréanninn has remained tight-lipped about this enigmatic isle, merely saying, “As our Lord lives, we shall arrive at that place in due course.” I suppose that my brother is right, for so long as we remained focused on our beautiful Lord, nothing else truly matters. Not even our upcoming source of solace and corporeal nourishment can hold a light against He who is light (cf. I John 1.5), Whose “word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (Psalms 119.105). May our Lord preserve our unworthy lives as we slowly approach this mysterious, but apparently soothing isle.

[Source: Darcy Ireland.]

‘But, O man’, saith the sage, ‘if thou deem it difficult to believe in this miracle of the Resurrection, consider the other works of the Lord; and though these are more numerous, not the less are they miracles. Behold the breadth of the sky and its amplitude, the size of the earth, the abyss of the sea which surrounds that earth on every quarter, and all the creatures that are therein. Behold, again, the angels of heaven, yea, behold those creatures and the other creatures that have been made of nothing through the strength and might of the Lord. For it is much less of a miracle to make of matter at present any structure through the Word of God than to make there at the beginning all creatures of nothing through that Word. For the Voice of God which is now declared here (as being that) whereby the Resurrection will be for all the dead is the same as the Word whereby He made at first all creatures out of nothing.’

- (Author Unknown), The Tidings of the Resurrection, 36. (Trans. 1903).*



Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tuairimí agus Smaointeoireacht shíoladh an pheaca (Feeling and Thinking propagate the sin)

One of the most beautiful gifts the Lord God granted to undeserving man, the creature which was formed in His own image and likeness, is a sound conscience. With that necessary tool, one can comprehend if something is right, that is morally beneficial for all involved persons in a given situation, or wrong, that is morally degrading for all. Even though one still must look to the Holy Spirit for His useful gift of spiritual discernment, the conscience is nevertheless a vital gift. For that, among a plethora of other reasons, I offer exultations of praise to the Lord who reigns over all creation. Although I sincerely and lovingly offer these phrases of praise to He whom I cleave onto, I have on at least one recent occasion betrayed my conscience. Were not for the great mercy of our Lord, I would not know what to do, other than mull the realistic possibility of spending an eternity not in Paradise, but rather in the fiery and corrupted abyss that is hell. Having sought his compassion, I believe I am ready to commit that particular account of the defiance of my conscience to writing, that I may muse upon my errors in a later time without a shred of guilt to be found in my being. Even now, what I offer to my Lord is that which this verse of the Holy Scriptures entails:

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise" (Psalms 51.17).

For the moment, I offer to my Maker ‘a broken and a contrite heart,’ that very heart upon which the law is written (cf. Hebrews 8.10). In time, I shall fully grasp that godly sorrow which ‘...produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted’ (II Corinthians 7.10a). At this time, I merely recount that which has attempted to overtake my portion of the Holy Spirit, which dwells in the temple within me (cf. I Corinthians 6.19-20).


In the past few days, something legitimately dangerous and trying has played with me. That conniving lady, Lust, has attempted to seduce me, to play the harlot with me. Her aesthetically-pleasing looks, along with her sultry voice, were enough for her to have a bit of success in luring me to dishonour and defile the Lord, whom I truly love. But how could I possibly allow myself to even contemplate the idea of compromising my conscience in the name of a fleeting and an ultimately trivial moment of pleasure? How could I possibly allow myself to turn the focus of my wretched and scarred face from His magnificent appearance? Such thoughts have haunted me. Ah, but that serpent of old greatly desires that I would be in such a moral and spiritual predicament. His scheme is all too simple, yet disgusting, to one who calls himself a Christian: To become addicted to the wiles of his deceptively intimidating agent of iniquity, and consequently be judged unworthy of entrance into Paradise by the Lord of all creation. In other words, that snake wants nothing else but to see myself ruthlessly destroyed. I believe that he covets my desolation not because he despises me for myself, but due to his envy of our Lord. Since He crafted all that exists, including myself, that serpent shall unceasingly work to see the demise of everything which He lovingly created and said ‘was good’ (cf. Genesis 1).


But the Lord God reminded me of precedent. His people, Israel, once played the harlot against their God. The prophet Hosea explicitly relays how the relationship between the Lord and Israel, that being a covenantal sealant, pictured as a marriage contract, was ruined once Israel was lured to the wicked reverence of the Canaanite fertility deity, Baal, and its related cult (cf. Hosea 2). Israel, through punishment by the Lord, would ultimately realize that relying to temporal means of ‘success’ and ‘stability’ is futile, and would decide to turn back to its God as if captured by the secure and comforting embrace of love the first time.

“Therefore, behold,
I will hedge up your way with thorns,
And wall her in,
So that she cannot find her paths.
She will chase her lovers,
But not overtake them;
Yes, she will seek them, but not find them.
Then she will say,

‘ I will go and return to my first husband,
For then it was better for me than now'" (Hosea 2.6-7).

From her decision to turn back to Her husband, the Lord is able to proclaim this beautiful statement regarding the renewal of the ‘marriage contract’ between the two parties, by the lips of Hosea:

“I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me
In righteousness and justice,
In lovingkindness and mercy;
I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness,
And you shall know the LORD" (Hosea 2.19-20).

Through the compassion of the Lord, there is the realistic possibility of the refreshing of the heart, provided one is ready and willing to accept such a renewing of the heart. Through the mercy of the Lord, there is true freedom from spiritual bondage.


Yet, one may question the validity and strength of my faith in the Lord Christ through such a trial. One would think that I would be in love with my God enough to be absolutely unswayed by that vile serpent Lust, who believes that she is a queen amongst ladies. Ah, perish the thought! She is a deceiving, conniving, and scheming agent of the serpent of old. By choosing to love and worship the Lord God, the Alpha and the Omega, I have made a choice to not be overtaken by the attacks of the enemy, no matter what agent that serpent may send my way. I have the words of the psalmist to take solace in:

“The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed,
A refuge in times of trouble” (Psalms 9.9).

Through the Lord, who is ‘my stronghold... the rock of my refuge’ (cf. Psalms 94.22), I have the confidence and courage to proclaim

“The LORD is my light and my salvation;

Whom shall I fear?

The LORD is the strength of my life;

Of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalms 27.1).

He is the strongest of strongholds. By His might, by His encouragement, the brothers and I have the necessary means to fight the wiles of the spiritual smiths and wizards, and the righteous state of mind needed to boldly confront such ladies of iniquity as Lust. Indeed, that serpent of old, along with his agents of darkness, have already been defeated by He who chose to give His life up on the tree of Calvary out of merciful love, and take it back up again three days later, just as He said He could do to His disciples (cf. John 10.17-18).

Honestly, it is a relief to my healing soul that Bréanninn believes it to be best that we finally leave this isle within the next few days. We have had an extended time to minister to the Lord God on dry land, he has said. Now, we must once again face the flows and ebbs of the trials, the waves, of life, in the name of our Lord. The brothers and I have sworn not only chastity and continence, but also a wholehearted effort to honour the Lord God by this adventure through the vast unknown that is this sea, which shall become a mere pond of grace should we fulfill our goal of completing this mission for His sake with clean hearts. May our Lord see the successful end of our laborious, yet enriching nautical trek, provided that be His will.

Conscience is instinct bred in the house,
Feeling and Thinking propagate the sin
By an unnatural breeding in and in.
I say, Turn it out doors,
Into the moors.
I love a life whose plot is simple,
And does not thicken with every pimple,
A soul so sound no sickly conscience binds it,
That makes the universe no worse than 't finds it.
I love an earnest soul,
Whose mighty joy and sorrow
Are not drowned in a bowl,
And brought to life to-morrow;
That lives one tragedy,
And not seventy;
A conscience worth keeping;
Laughing not weeping;
A conscience wise and steady,
And forever ready;
Not changing with events,
Dealing in compliments;
A conscience exercised about
Large things, where one may doubt.
I love a soul not all of wood,
Predestinated to be good,
But true to the backbone
Unto itself alone,
And false to none;
Born to its own affairs,
Its own joys and own cares;
By whom the work which God begun
Is finished, and not undone;
Taken up where he left off,
Whether to worship or to scoff;
If not good, why then evil,
If not good god, good devil.
Goodness! you hypocrite, come out of that,
Live your life, do your work, then take your hat.
I have no patience towards
Such conscientious cowards.
Give me simple laboring folk,
Who love their work,
Whose virtue is song
To cheer God along

- Henry David Thoreau, ‘Conscience’ (1841-2).*



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An serenity fíor agus scíthe foirfe (The true serenity and perfect rest)

Ah, my friends! An apology is in order for seemingly dropping off the face of this corporeal earth by not composing an entry in quite a number of God-given days. I have been plagued. If my esteemed audience is confused as to my usage of the term ‘plagued’ to describe my recent state, despite that ‘distant smote’ I mentioned in my last journal entry truly being an isle upon which I sit, I shall attempt to clarify those events which have transpired these past several days. Before I begin to recall those events, though, all I can do at this point regarding the anomaly that is the unusually long duration of time between my last entry and this one is to beseech my loving audience for its compassion.


As I previously wrote, one of the brothers apparently spotted something promising in the horizon that looked like a grain of sand through the lens of the naked eye. His estimated guess as to the identity of that speck was proven to be correct. By the grace of God, our leather boat did reach a curious iota of an isle a few days after I logged my last entry. Out of devotion to my band of brothers, I have left my journal aside while we have thoroughly scouted the isle, which poorly explains my recent silence. Bréanninn seemed confident that the Lord certainly had willed us to spend some time here; that confidence was well-founded, for not only did we arrive at this island safely, but we also have been blessed by our time here. The Lord knew that we were running low on staples, primarily our rations of fruits and fresh water. Here, an abundance of gorgeous and rich fruits have been discovered. Additionally, glimmering pools of fresh water have been scouted. Naturally, the band of brothers and I had found yet another reason to offer exultations of praise to our Creator and our Sustainer.

Bréanninn had told us on numerous occasions that the power behind prayer cannot be understated or underestimated, particularly by we believers who live through faith in Christ. From our recent adventures, I certainly can do nothing but concur with my brother. After all, Paul did charge the Thessalonian church to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5.17). Our first night here was simply memorable and beautiful. After preparing a magnificent fire on the shoreline, we spent the twilight hours offering our wholehearted praise to our Lord Christ, like Paul charged to that aforementioned church (cf. I Thessalonians 5.18a). One of the greatest experiences one can have in this life is the ‘warm’ sensation one can feel whilst the Holy Spirit is ‘working’ within oneself during a time devoted to worshipping the one true God. The reality of such an experience cannot be denied: To a different audience, Paul wrote that the body of a saved Christian is “...the temple of the Holy Spirit...” which is within one (cf. I Corinthians 6.19-20). That supernatural sensation is one that grants me a reason, among a multitude of them, to thank the Lord that I used his gift of free will to acknowledge His Son as “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14.6).


Now, I must document the other significant happening, which is one that can be called ‘unfortunate.’ I am not afraid to admit that complacency has toyed with me in recent days. Although temporarily staying on this island has been a perfect rest, that serpent of old, being one who never ceases to bombard my brothers and me with temptations and attacks, seems to believe that my content state can be manipulated to one of ungratefulness or complacency. Even though the rich fruit was have found here has been fulfilling and has been a new reason to thank the Lord, complacency has nevertheless plagued me, albeit disguised as boredom. Humans are weak and constantly need the strength of He whom I love. In the Holy Scriptures, the complacency of the weakening and wandering Israelites in the Wilderness of Sin is well-documented. In Exodus 32, while Moses is experiencing the Lord God atop Mount Horeb, the Israelites grew impatient and particularly complacent, as can be seen when they asked Aaron to construct an artificial calf out of their gold. Rather than continue to fear and believe the Lord, as they had done after the wonder at the sea (cf. Exodus 14.30), they collectively chose to disobey the Lord by making an idol. Instead of finding a way to strengthen their trust in the Lord, they unfortunately chose to be complacent. In Numbers 11, the Israelites chose to complain before Moses, saying in apparent unison,

“'Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, "'the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this "'manna before our eyes!'” (Numbers 11.5-6).

Through the intercession of Moses, the people received quail to eat along with the manna. However, the wrath of the Lord struck them “while the meat was still between their teeth” (Numbers 11.33). Rather than finding a way to strengthen their faith in the Lord, or instead of choosing to be grateful for what food they did have, the people of Israel chose to be complacent by not choosing to strive diligently enough for God. I am thankful that the brothers and I have persevered in our faith thus far, even with the distractions this island has offered. The serpent of old has tempted us, but by the grace of our Lord, we have remained in His light and have chosen life.


The most important subject of my prayers throughout the past handful of days has been that the Lord God would keep us from giving in to the wiles of the serpent of old, particularly and pertinently his attacks of the spirits of complacency and ungratefulness. The Lord God has charged us to praise His beautiful name in the best of times, and to worship His majestic name in the worst of times. As it is truly written, “If He takes away, who can hinder Him? Who can say to Him, ‘What are You doing?’” (Job 9.12). In another place, we are charged to “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful” (Psalms 147.1). Finally, it is written that “The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul” (Psalms 121.7). The brothers and I, by the influence of Bréanninn and the Lord, chose to embark on this spiritual mission to exult His magnificence and to show both the Lord and ourselves that we are zealous enough to obey the call to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5.16-18). We have been call as thus: “Do not quench the Spirit” (I Thessalonians 5.19). My prayer is that during the rest of our stay here on this blessed island, we shall not falter in our adherence to His calls, for we love Him through the passionate love of our Lord Christ. “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (I John 4.8) always resides in the back of my petty and undeserving mind. But through even so much as knowing the Lord, we shall eternally prosper and flourish.

Thou joinest and diffusest through the whole,

Linking accordantly its several parts,

A soul of threefold nature, moving all.

This, cleft in twain, and in two circles gathered,

Speeds in a path that on itself returns,

Encompassing mind's limits, and conforms

The heavens to her true semblance. Lesser souls

And lesser lives by a like ordinance

Thou sendest forth, each to its starry car

Affixing, and dost strew them far and wide

O'er earth and heaven. These by a law benign

Thou biddest turn again, and render back

To thee their fires. Oh, grant, almighty Father,

Grant us on reason's wing to soar aloft

To heaven's exalted height; grant us to see

The fount of good; grant us, the true light found,

To fix our steadfast eyes in vision clear

On Thee. Disperse the heavy mists of earth,

And shine in Thine own splendour. For Thou art

The true serenity and perfect rest

Of every pious soul, to see Thy face,

The end and the beginning; One the guide,

The traveller, the pathway, and the goal.

Boethius, Invocation 20-42.*

[Source: Darcy Ireland]

*Source -

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Meáchan na n-uiscí whelm an domhain (Weight of waters whelm the earth)

The divine gift of life is a bittersweet one. Although it has lovingly been granted by the Lord to an arbitrary person, that life, due to the perverted and wicked spiritual state of the world, is quite a race to endure. Even though the maelstroms have plagued the brothers and me, it is with spiritual confidence I can declare that the ‘light at the end of the tunnel,’ so that saying goes, can be seen. Trusting in the Lord with wholehearted faith is not only vital for the pious Christian, but also is necessary to survive this life, which is rampant with lusts and temptations. As Bréanninn has said, we are not to doubt the real presence of that serpent of old, for thus it is written: “And the Lord said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it’” (Job 1.6-7). However, the truth that lies behind the idea of looking to Christ to overwhelm the agents of Satan cannot be denied: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe - and tremble!” (James 2.19). With the gift of life, one is faced with two choices: Either one can choose to submit oneself wholeheartedly to the omnipotence of the Lord or one can succumb to the wiles of Lucifer, that serpent of old. It is my prayer and hope that not only would all people would choose the former option, but also that this aquatic voyage would help affirm my intent to choose that former option.


The voyage is producing spiritual fruit, despite that our frugal approach to managing what rations of fruits and water we have is being undermined by the long stretch of time on the sea without having spotted a shoreline. My yearning to serve the Lord Christ Jesus has merely grown more profound since the brothers and I set from the shore of our home in County Galway, particularly in the past week. The necessary perseverance to endure dwindling staples would be an apt method by which to describe my true and most pertinent situation. As the weeks have passed by without a graduate assistantship, let alone any sort of job, through which not only to sustain myself but also to fund my education, I have been tempted to give up my hope in the loyal provision of Christ. However, thanks to the support of His holy church, pertinently through the church which I attend each Sunday morning, along with reassuring words from my pastor, I wholeheartedly comprehend that I shall survive “and my God shall supply all [my] need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4.19). Spiritual doors have cracked ajar recently, thanks to my trust in He who is unfathomably wealthy.

The Lord has not brought me on this mission viz. to Providence without properly equipping me for what tasks He would have me undertake. In more general terms, the Lord shall honour those who strive to honour Him by actively longing for the perfection of the Father. When Samuel was about to be raised into the priesthood by the Levite Eli, the priest was told, “‘for those who honour Me I will honour, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed’” (I Samuel 2.30). Under the terms of spiritual surrender to an unconditionally-loving God, it is vital to heed the words of His apostle Peter: “[Cast] all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (I Peter 5.7). It is by His unfathomable caring for the transpirations in my life that I am able to be assured that He shall grant me what tools I shall need to ensure, including perseverance.

I must stop here for the moment, for one of the brothers has spotted something of significance in the horizon. Although he believes that speck to be land, I cannot confirm such a speculative remark for myself. However, we have been drifting by the winds of the Lord for quite a number of weeks now. I choose to trust that He shall being us to land, whenever that may truly be, in His timing. He understands the needs of the band, and He shall replenish our staples according to His purpose. Perhaps He shall have us undertake a fast for a certain number of days. Maybe that speck is truly land. Even though I honestly hope the latter is true, I choose to be content with the will of God. With patience shall we soon see what that distant smote is, that grain appearing amidst the flows and ebbs of the vast ocean of trials....

Maker of earth and sky, from age to age

Who rul'st the world by reason; at whose word

Time issues from Eternity's abyss:

To all that moves the source of movement, fixed

Thyself and moveless. Thee no cause impelled

Extrinsic this proportioned frame to shape

From shapeless matter; but, deep-set within

Thy inmost being, the form of perfect good,

From envy free; and Thou didst mould the whole

To that supernal pattern. Beauteous

The world in Thee thus imaged, being Thyself

Most beautiful. So Thou the work didst fashion

In that fair likeness, bidding it put on

Perfection through the exquisite perfectness

Of every part's contrivance. Thou dost bind

The elements in balanced harmony,

So that the hot and cold, the moist and dry,

Contend not; nor the pure fire leaping up

Escape, or weight of waters whelm the earth.

- Boethius, 'Invocation' 1-19.*



Sunday, October 30, 2011

As Aigéan ar a gcladach wintry (Of Ocean on his wintry shore)

The air is cold. Now, when I state that the air is cold, I actually mean that the air is much colder than it has been the past fortnight. The brothers and I have begun sailing on frigid waves. The maelstroms have begun to take on an icier identity, which seemingly does not bode well for my spiritual family sans the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, we know that we are to “stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free” (
Galatians 5.1a). Additionally, is it not written that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8.38b-39)? With that verse having been given, I am confident that not even the forthcoming maelstroms shall separate my brothers and me from that wondrous and indescribable love of God.


Now, the obvious conclusion to surmise is that the increasingly colder state of the ocean has generated more temptations to fall away from the mission (and thus, fall away from spiritual life in Christ). Well, that proposed result is founded in truth, and, indeed, it is fair. It would be unwise to believe that the brothers and I would embark on such a spiritually-encouraging journey without meeting challenges in waves. The brothers and I choose not to fear. After all, Satan once even tried to tempt our Lord, which was a predictable failure of an action from the onset (cf. Matthew 4.1-11). Certainly, it is written that the “sword of the Spirit” is the word of God (Ephesians 6.17b). It was by that powerful weapon that Christ our Lord gained an unquestionably great victory over that serpent of old (cf. Luke 4.8). Satan should have known better than to even contemplate baiting our Lord, let alone actually uttering such words of temptation. We serve a wise and mighty God, who has charged us not to “put the Lord your God to the test” (Deuteronomy 6.16). Having written of that divinely-ordained commandment, I nobly, yet humbly, choose to serve that Lord God without question and without temptation.

Yet, this weak servant of the Lord could use another source of spiritual strength. In such a seemingly-bleak state of mind, I am thankfully reminded by the First Book of Kings, chapters 17 through 21. In other words, the stories of the prophet Elijah could serve well to be that by which the Lord can sustain my spiritual sanity. Now, in the eighteenth chapter, Elijah has a great showdown between himself, representing the Lord of Hosts, and the northern tribes of Israel, which very much had succumbed to the evils associated with the Canaanite god Baal (cf. I Kings 18.20-40). When the prophets of Baal failed to see their animal sacrifice miraculously alit by the false god, Elijah not only sees his sacrifice to the Lord honoured, but also sees it alit despite the sacrifice being drenched in water (18.38). In the nation which the Lord had specifically chosen to be God over (cf. Exodus 6.7), a mediator of His sovereignty was necessary. Fortunately, as the Lord had undoubtedly foreseen, the pious prophet Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead (cf. I Kings 17.1a), was more than willing to answer the spiritual call. Such an influential prophet of the Lord was Elijah that the reader of the Holy Scriptures ought not to be surprised by his appearance at the Transfiguration of our Lord Christ Jesus on that anonymous and high mountain (Luke 9.30), along with Moses, whom God had used to grant the Israelites their freedom from corporeal bondage. It is the will of this petty servant of the Lord to strive to be as pious as the prophet Elijah, as mighty as the Lord Christ Jesus, and as perfect as our God.


On another subject I have recently pondered as this ship has sifted through these frigid waters, one wonderful consequence of the fulfillment of the innumerable prophecies through the incarnation of Christ is that the torah, the law, is no longer necessary, as especially Paul advocated and expounded admirably (cf. Romans 7.1-6). From this great occurrence, we realize that our Lord views no sin as better or worse than another, with the lone exception of the blaspheme of His unknowable name (cf. Matthew 12.31-32). After all, the astute readers of the Holy Scriptures ought to recall the presentation of the Lord before Moses at the burning bush.

"'Moses said to God, ‘When I come to the Israelites and say to them,

"'The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me,

"'What is His name?, what shall I say to them?’ And God said

"'to Moses, ‘Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh’”

(Exodus 3.13-14a).

Now, ‘Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh’ is Hebrew for ‘I Am Who I Am,’ a clever and accurate way to simultaneously provide Moses with an apt answer to his inquiry and to show who the Lord is by descriptions. Whenever a person blasphemes the Lord, He is essentially denying both His access to the person’s heart (not denying His existence in the while) and His sovereignty over everything in existence. Against that idea do I choose to identify with Joshua, who once said, “‘As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’” (Joshua 6.24).


Although I have expounded on the possibility of blaspheming the unknowable name of the Lord as the lone unforgivable transgression one can commit, a renowned theologian once wrote that the greatest of sins is pride (C.S. Lewis, ‘Mere Christianity’). When one steps back and examines the plausibility of pride truly being the most significant sin, the idea is not insane. After all, it is written that “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16.18). However, the Holy Scriptures point to blasphemy as being the unforgivable sin. As Christ once said,

"'Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men,

"'and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes

"'against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to

"'eternal condemnation’”

(Mark 3.28-29).

But that renowned writer Lewis is correct, for it could be argued that blasphemy comes about due to an asinine measurement of pride within a given person. Such a person, bounded by pride due to choosing to view personal accomplishments from a rather ungodly and sinister angle, is so committed to the wiles of that crazed agent of Satan, that is haughtiness, that he is even willing to rebuke the name of the Lord out of a sickening likening towards himself. I, this meek servant of the Lord, zealously pray for such people, that they may find the great Saviour, the Lord Christ Jesus, before they drive themselves to such rash and foolish acts as blaspheming the name of the Lord (whether blasphemy or pride is the greatest of sins).

Regarding the immediate future with my band of spiritual brothers, Bréanninn confidently anticipates more time in the ocean, amidst the icy, but still challenging, waves. The clouds shall grow darker still, he envisions, as I had previously conjectured. With the increase of the smoky clouds shall likely come thick, nautical fog. The dark mist shall tempt us to abandon our mission, to subsequently turn our wretched and shamed faces from the incomprehensibly wondrous face of our Lord, who sent His Son to atone for our iniquities and evils. Since He understands our plight, particularly through the petty temptation episode with Satan himself, we are assured that He shall not forsake us (cf. Psalms 37.28). No matter how ruthlessly we are tempted, and no matter how many times we succumb and comply to the wiles of the enemy, we have the knowledge that He shall not forget about us. Through love, through His Son and His Holy Spirit, He encourages us to not forget about Him, even if that means that He has to find an unthinkable avenue by which to break the pride from any one of us. Such a beautiful thought uplifts me even now, as the thick mist onsets, as the murky fog begins to envelop our ordained vessel....

A hard, dull bitterness of cold,
That checked, mid-vein, the circling race
Of life-blood in the sharpened face,
The coming of the snow-storm told.
The wind blew east; we heard the roar
Of Ocean on his wintry shore,
And felt the strong pulse throbbing there
Beat with low rhythm our inland air.

- John Greenleaf Whittier, ‘Snowbound’ 11-18.*