MONDAY, FEBRUARY 4
Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting to-day for costly grace. Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer (born February 4, 1906)
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 5
We are to remember what an umpire Nature is; what a greatness, composure of depth and tolerance there is in her. You take wheat to cast into the Earth's bosom; your wheat may be mixed with chaff, chopped straw, barn-sweepings, dust and all imaginable rubbish; no matter: you cast it into the kind just Earth; she grows the wheat, — the whole rubbish she silently absorbs, shrouds it in, says nothing of the rubbish. The yellow wheat is growing there; the good Earth is silent about all the rest, — has silently turned all the rest to some benefit too, and makes no complaint about it! So everywhere in Nature! She is true and not a lie; and yet so great, and just, and motherly in her truth. She requires of a thing only that it be genuine of heart; she will protect it if so; will not, if not so. There is a soul of truth in all the things she ever gave harbor to. Alas, is not this the history of all highest Truth that comes or ever came into the world?
— Thomas Carlyle (died February 5, 1881)
We talk a great deal about patriotism. What do we mean by patriotism in the context of our times? I venture to suggest that what we mean is a sense of national responsibility which will enable America to remain master of her power — to walk with it in serenity and wisdom, with self-respect and the respect of all mankind; a patriotism that puts country ahead of self; a patriotism which is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime. The dedication of a lifetime — these are words that are easy to utter, but this is a mighty assignment. For it is often easier to fight for principles than to live up to them.
— Adlai Stevenson II (born February 5, 1900)
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 6
PERSECUTION AND SUFFERING
If we have any value for our principles, we shall rejoice in the opportunities that are afforded us of serving the cause of truth in seasons of persecution (occurring in the course of divine Providence, and not sought by ourselves, for that would be ostentation and presumption) as the only way in which many persons have it in their power to promote it, to any great purpose. For all can advance the cause by suffering, though but few have sufficient ability to argue for it.
— Joseph Priestley (died February 6, 1804)
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7
PEPPER AND BRIMSTONE
Wherever religion is resorted to as a strong drink, and as an escape from the dull, monotonous round of home, those of its ministers who pepper the highest will be the surest to please. They who strew the Eternal Path with the greatest amount of brimstone, and who most ruthlessly tread down the flowers and leaves that grow by the wayside, will be voted the most righteous; and they who enlarge with the greatest pertinacity on the difficulty of getting into heaven will be considered, by all true believers, certain of going there: though it would be hard to say by what process of reasoning this conclusion is arrived at.
— Charles Dickens (born February 7, 1812)
THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY
Remember!—It is Christianity TO DO GOOD always—even to those who do evil to us. It is Christianity to love our neighbour as ourself, and to do to all men as we would have them Do to us. It is Christianity to be gentle, merciful, and forgiving, and to keep those qualities quiet in our own hearts, and never make a boast of them, or of our prayers or of our love of God, but always to shew that we love Him by humbly trying to do right in everything. If we do this, and remember the life and lessons of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and try to act up to them, we may confidently hope that God will forgive us our sins and mistakes, and enable us to live and die in Peace.
— Charles Dickens (born February 7, 1812)
As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness -- just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.
— Laura Ingalls Wilder (born February 7, 1867)
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 8
PAYING TOO LITTLE
It is unwise to pay too much—but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money—that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.
The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot. It can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better.
— John Ruskin (born February 8, 1819)
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 9
There are few things of more common occurrence than shaking hands; and yet I do not recollect that much has been speculated upon the subject. I confess, when I consider to what unimportant and futile concerns the attention of writer and readers has been directed, I am surprised that no one has been found to handle such an important matter as this, and attempt to give the public a rational view of the doctrine and discipline of shaking hands.
I have been unable to find in the ancient writers any distinct mention of shaking hands. They followed the heartier practice of hugging or embracing, which has not wholly disappeared among grown persons in Europe, and children in our own country, and has unquestionably the advantage on the score of cordiality. When the ancients trusted the business of salutation to the hands alone, they joined but did not shake them; and although I find frequently such phrases as fungere dextras hospitio, I do not recollect to have met with that of agitare dextras. I am inclined to think that the practice grew up in the ages of chivalry, when the cumbrous iron mail, in which the knights were cased, prevented their embracing; and when, with fingers clothed in steel, the simple touch or joining of the hands would have been but cold welcome; so that a prolonged junction was a natural resort, to express cordiality; and as it would have been awkward to keep the hands unemployed in this position, a gentle agitation or shaking might have been naturally introduced. How long the practice may have remained in this incipient stage it is impossible, in the silence of history, to say; nor is there anything in the chronicles, in Philip de Cocaines or the Byzantine historians, which enables us to trace the progress of the art into the forms in which it now exists among us.
— Edward Everett (ordained February 9, 1815)
LIFE IS A STREAM
Life is a stream
On which we strew
Petal by petal the flower of our heart;
The end lost in dream,
They float past our view,
We only watch their glad, early start.
Freighted with hope,
Crimsoned with joy,
We scatter the leaves of our opening rose;
Their widening scope,
Their distant employ,
We never shall know. And the stream as it flows
Sweeps them away,
Each one is gone
Ever beyond into infinite ways.
We alone stay
While years hurry on,
The flower fared forth, though its fragrance still stays.
— Amy Lowell (born February 9, 1874)
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 10
What a place to be in is an old library! It seems as if all the souls of all the writers that had bequeathed their labors to these Bodleians were reposing here as in some dormitory, or middle state. I do not want to handle, to profane the leaves, their winding-sheets. I could as soon dislodge a shade. I seem to inhale learning, walking amid their foliage; and the odor of their old moth-scented coverings is fragrant as the first bloom of these sciential apples which grew amid the happy orchard.
— Charles Lamb (born February 10, 1775)
SOME TINCTURE OF THE ABSURD
In sober verity I will confess a truth to thee, reader. I love a Fool—as naturally as if I were of kith and kin to him. When a child, with childlike apprehensions, that dived not below the surface of the matter, I read those Parables—not guessing at the involved wisdom—I had more yearnings towards that simple architect, that built his house upon the sand, than I entertained for his more cautious neighbour; I grudged at the hard censure pronounced upon the quiet soul that kept his talent; and—prizing their simplicity beyond the more provident and, to my apprehension, somewhat unfeminine wariness of their competitors—I felt a kindness, that almost amounted to a tendre, for those five thoughtless virgins. I have never made an acquaintance since that lasted, or a friendship that answered, with any that had not some tincture of the absurd in their characters.
I venerate an honest obliquity of understanding. The more laughable blunders a man shall commit in your company, the more tests he giveth you that he will not betray or overreach you. I love the safety which a palpable hallucination warrants, the security which a word out of season ratifies. And take my word for this, reader, and say a fool told it you, if you please, that he who hath not a dram of folly in his mixture hath points of much worse matter in his composition.
— Charles Lamb (born February 10, 1775)
SOMETHING TOUCHES THE DULL DREAM
In every earnest life there are weary flats to tread, with the heavens out of sight,—no sun, no moon, and not a tint of light upon the path below; when the only guidance is the faith of brighter hours, and the secret Hand we are too numb and dark to feel. But to the meek and faithful it is not always so. Now and then something touches the dull dream of sense and custom, and the desolation vanishes away: the spirit leaves its witness with us: the divine realities come up from the past and straightaway enter the present: the ear into which we poured our prayer is not deaf; the infinite eye to which we turned is not blind, but looks in with answering mercy on us.
— James Martineau (born February 10, 1775)