The Professor wrote a letter to his publisher which included the following line:
"Mr. Lewis says hobbits are only amusing in unhobbitlike situations."
From the life of Nârwen. Catholic. Secular Oratorian. Rat Fan. And oh, yes, Tolkien Nut.
The Pharisee and the Publican
1. INTROD.—'God be merciful to me a sinner.'
2. In these words is contained the essence of true religion.
3. Why? Because they refer to conscience as leading the mind to God.
4. All men have a conscience of right and wrong, Rom. ii. 14.15.—the conscience accusing, etc. But it does not lead them, when they transgress it, to God. They are angry with themselves. They know they are wrong, and are distressed, but it does not lead them to religion; at the utmost it leads them to understand a sin against their neighbours—as cruelty, etc. But when it leads the soul to think of God, then that soul may be very sinful, but at least it has something of true religion in it.
5. 2 Cor. vii. 10-11 . And so 'to Thee then only have I sinned, and done evil before Thee.' Ps. 1.
6. Hence in the text the reason why the publican was more justified, because he understood that his offenses were against God.
7. But see what comes from this. Directly a man realises that what he does wrong is against God, then he feels how much more extensive it is, viz. of the thoughts.
8. And how much more intensive, viz. as against the Highest. He calls it sin.
9. Then he grows in his notions. As blows don't pain at first, so sin may pain hereafter.
10. Thus he sees it is an offence against the moral nature of God.
11. Hence all diseases are but types of sin.
12. Hence idea of guilt.
13. Hence need of a cleansing.
Nature and Grace
1. INTROD.—Text: 'Jesus loved him.'
2. Explain the circumstances. And then we come to this anomaly—that God loves for something in them those who will not obey His call.
3. Now this is a difficulty surely which we feel ourselves. People are (1) amiable, (2) conscientious, (3) benevolent; they do many good actions, but are not Catholics; or not in God's grace.
4. Explanation. Nature not simply evil. We do not say that Nature cannot do good actions without God's grace. Far from it. Instances of great heathens.
5. What we say is that no one can get to heaven without God's grace.
6. Contrast of two states as on two levels: (1) moral virtues with 'their reward,' industry, etc., has a reward in this life.
7. (2) Spiritual state of grace. It has all these virtues and a good deal more, and especially faith.
8. This is why faith is so necessary. Explain what faith is, as a door. It is a sight, [power of vision]. It is looking up to God. When we pray, we have faith, etc., etc.
9. Now what an awful thought this is when you look at the world—if something more than Nature is necessary for salvation.
10. People say, 'If I do my duty'—'He was such a good father'; 'He was upright,' etc., etc. All this is good, but by itself will not bring a man to heaven.
11. When you think what heaven is, is it wonderful? Think of our sins. Is it wonderful God does not give forgiveness to Nature?
12. Is it wonderful that grace alone can get repentance?
13. Let us turn this [over] in our hearts.
Was it a sudden inspiration, or a mature resolve? was it an act of the moment, or the result of a long conflict?—but behold, that poor, many-coloured child of guilt approaches to crown with her sweet ointment the head of Him to whom the feast was given; and see, she has stayed her hand. She has looked, and she discerns the Immaculate, the Virgin's Son, "the brightness of the Eternal Light, and the spotless mirror of God's majesty". She looks, and she recognises the Ancient of Days, the Lord of life and death, her Judge; and again she looks, and she sees in His face and in His mien a beauty, and a sweetness, awful, serene, majestic, more than that of the sons of men, which paled all the splendour of that festive room. Again she looks, timidly yet eagerly, and she discerns in His eye, and in His smile, the loving-kindness, the tenderness, the compassion, the mercy of the Saviour of man. She looks at herself, and oh! how vile, how hideous is she, who but now was so vain of her attractions!—how withered is that comeliness, of which the praises ran through the mouths of her admirers!—how loathsome has become the breath, which hitherto she thought so fragrant, savouring only of those seven bad spirits which dwell within her! And there she would have stayed, there she would have sunk on the earth, wrapped in her confusion and in her despair, had she not cast one glance again on that all-loving, all-forgiving Countenance. He is looking at her: it is the Shepherd looking at the lost sheep, and the lost sheep surrenders herself to Him. He speaks not, but He eyes her; and she draws nearer to Him. Rejoice, ye Angels, she draws near, seeing nothing but Him, and caring neither for the scorn of the proud, nor the jests of the profligate. She draws near, not knowing whether she shall be saved or not, not knowing whether she shall be received, or what will become of her; this only knowing that He is the Fount of holiness and truth, as of mercy, and to whom should she go, but to Him who hath the words of eternal life? "Destruction is thine own, O Israel; in Me only is thy help. Return unto Me, and I will not turn away My face from thee: for I am holy, and will not be angry for ever." "Behold we come unto thee; for Thou art the Lord our God. Truly the hills are false, and the multitude of the mountains: Truly the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel." Wonderful meeting between what was most base and what is most pure! Those wanton hands, those polluted lips, have touched, have kissed the feet of the Eternal, and He shrank not from the homage. And as she hung over them, and as she moistened them from her full eyes, how did her love for One so great, yet so gentle, wax vehement within her, lighting up a flame which never was to die from that moment even for ever! and what excess did it reach, when He recorded before all men her forgiveness, and the cause of it! "Many sins are forgiven her, for she loved much; but to whom less is forgiven, the same loveth less. And He said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven thee; thy faith hath made thee safe, go in peace."
On the New Creation
1. We find from St. Paul that its life [i.e. the life of the New Creation] is gratitude for our Lord's sufferings for us, 2 Cor. v.; Gal. ii., sin.
2. Gratitude implies (and requires) (1) sense of sin; (2) faith.
3. Leads to (3) hope; (4) hope implies fear.
4. And gratitude is a kind of love.
But love is charity, such as is necessary to fulfil the command for 'eternal life,' 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with,' etc.,
2. Likeness to God. Like loves like, i.e. love of appreciation.
3. The love of friendship—'Abraham the friend'; John xv., 'friends'—which involves a mutual consciousness of love—John xxi., 'Lord, thou knowest,' etc.
4. Companionship—'Walk before me'; 'Walk with me'—journey to Emmaus.
Never does God give faith, but He tries it, and none without faith can enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore all ye who come to serve God, all ye who wish to save your souls, begin with making up your minds that you cannot do so, without a generous faith, a generous self-surrender; without putting yourselves into God's hands, making no bargain with Him, not stipulating conditions, but saying "O Lord here I am—I will be whatever Thou wilt ask me—I will go whithersoever Thou sendest me—I will bear whatever Thou puttest upon me. Not in my own might or my own strength. My strength is very weakness—if I trust in myself more or less, I shall fail—but I trust in Thee—I trust and I know that Thou wilt aid me to do, what Thou callest on me to do—I trust and I know that Thou wilt never leave me nor forsake me. Never wilt Thou bring me into any trial, which Thou wilt not bring me through. Never will there be a failing on Thy part, never will there be a lack of grace. I shall have all and abound. I shall be tried: my reason will be tried, for I shall have to believe; my affections will be tried, for I shall have to obey Thee instead of pleasing myself; my flesh will be tried, for I shall have to bring it into subjection. But Thou art more to me than all other things put together. Thou canst make up to me all Thou takest from me and Thou wilt, for Thou wilt give to me Thyself. Thou wilt guide me."
There are in fact a variety of nontraditional households. I will limit my comments to that subset now posing the most immediate public challenge: the household self-consciously created in contradistinction to the natural family; the household in which the natural family can only be imitated rather than created; the household now demanding not only recognition of some sort from society at large, but also the guarantee of moral equivalence. I suggest that we call this the “antitraditional” household, both to distinguish it from what has gone before and to capture something of its defiant essence. And since such households can further be divided into two variants, heterosexual and homosexual, I propose that we proceed by examining them in turn.
What this distinction immediately makes clear is something interesting and pretty much unnoticed in today’s furor over gay marriage: that intellectually speaking, at least, the heterosexual variation of the antitraditional household has been steadily losing ground for years now...
Sooner or later, someone is going to ask why, if being gay is cause for celebration, gay boys and men continue to kill themselves at significantly higher rates than do heterosexuals. Sooner or later, someone is going to wonder why, despite society’s open arms, virtually every study of gay mental health shows higher rates of depression, alcoholism, sexual addiction, sexually transmitted diseases, and the rest.
This is the evidence ignored by, for example, judges who place children in gay-headed households. It is also the evidence ignored by everyone who argues that homosexuality has nothing to do with sex scandals involving young boys. It is also the evidence that will not go away. The empirical reality of much of gay life contradicts the rhetoric of virtual normality; and eventually, it seems safe to predict, the twain shall meet....
Surely, no one, who is candid, can doubt, that, were Mary now living, did she choose on principle that state of life in which Christ found her, were she content to remain at Jesus' feet hearing His word and disengaged from this troublesome world, she would be blamed and pitied. Careless men would gaze strangely, and wise men compassionately, on such an one, as wasting her life, and choosing a melancholy, cheerless portion. Long ago was this the case. Even in holy Martha, zealous as she was and true-hearted, even in her instance we are reminded of the impatience and disdain with which those who are far different from her, the children of this world, regard such as dedicate themselves to God. Long ago, even in her, we seem to witness, as in type, the rash, unchristian way in which this age disparages devotional services. Do we never hear it said, that the daily Service of the Church is unnecessary? Is it never hinted that it is scarcely worth while to keep it up unless we get numbers to attend it, as if one single soul, if but one, were not precious enough for Christ's love and His Church's rearing? Is it never objected, that a partially-filled Church is a discouraging sight, as if, after all, our Lord Jesus had chosen the many and not the few to be His true disciples? Is it never maintained, that a Christian minister is off his post unless he is for ever labouring for the heartless many, instead of ministering to the more religious few? Alas! there must be something wrong among us; when our defenders recommend the Church on the mere plea of its activity, its popularity, and its visible usefulness, and would scarcely scruple to give us up, had we not the many on our side! If our ground of boasting be, that rich men, and mighty men, and many men love us, it never can be a religious boast, and may be our condemnation. Christ made His feast for "the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind." It is the widow and the fatherless, the infirm, the helpless, the devoted, bound together in prayer, who are the strength of the Church. It is their prayers, be they many or few, the prayers of Mary and such as Mary, who are the safety, under Christ, of those who with Paul and Barnabas fight the Lord's battles. "It is but lost labour to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows," if prayers are discontinued. It is mere infatuation, if we think to resist the enemies who at this moment are at our doors, if our Churches remain shut, and we give up to prayer but a few minutes in the day.