Life in a small town

Remembrance Day 2018 …

Into the West, Annie Lennox, Howard Shore, LOTR, 2003

Remembranceday1Last Sunday was Remembrance Day 2018. The 11th of November fell on a Sunday for the first time in my memory, (probably faulty) and the whole ceremonial routine took place at exactly the same time as our 11:00 AM and only Sunday Mass. Over the years my feelings and thoughts about “Remembrance Day have changed quite a bit. Bitterness has crept in.

I used to share all the emotional attachments about honoring my fallen brothers and so on, but lately my cynicism about the civilian leadership who have never served a day in their lives has tainted my memory and my sadness with bitterness. I guess I am turning into a grumpy old man.

So I chose to go to church and give the Remembrance Day ceremonies a pass, also one of my first times to miss this “official” photo op for all elected and appointed officials everywhere.  We played “The Last Post”, had our politically correct “Minute of Silence” at the beginning of Mass and then the smaller than usual congregation got on with the True Sacrifice.

The missing parishioners must have felt that the Remembrance Day Ceremonies were more important than Mass. “C’est La Vie” in Canada anyway.  Laurence Binyon is most famous for “For the Fallen“, often recited at Remembrance Sunday services in the UK, and an integral part of Anzac Day services in Australia and New Zealand, and November 11th Remembrance Day services in Canada.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.”

Remembrance Day  is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth of Nations member states since the end of the First World War to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. But do we really remember them, except in an abstract way, for a minute once a year? And how do we honour their memories, do we honour the values they died for?

The memorial evolved out of Armistice Day, which continues to be marked on the same date. The initial Armistice Day was observed at Buckingham Palace, commencing with King George V hosting a “Banquet in Honour of the President of the French Republic” during the evening hours of 10 November 1919. The first official Armistice Day was subsequently held on the grounds of Buckingham Palace the following morning.

poppy-fields-remembrance-day-1

The eleventh day of the eleventh month has always seemed to me to be special. Even if the reason for it fell apart as the years went on, it was a symbol of something close to the high part of the heart. Perhaps a life that stretches through two or three wars takes its first war rather seriously, but I still think we should have kept the name “Armistice Day.” Its implications were a little more profound, a little more hopeful.” (Ten Everlovin’ Blue-Eyed Years With Pogo (1959), p. 100)

The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day around here due to the poem “In Flanders Fields” written by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae.  At first real poppies were worn. These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I; their brilliant red colour became a symbol for the blood spilled in the war.

Over the Top, Neuville-Vitasse

Over the Top, Neuville-Vitasse, Granddad’s War

This blood spilled by the self interest of secular progressive powers who, in their wisdom, declare that they do not need God and Religion, that those of us who still believe in GOD and Country are nothing but “Bitter Clingers”.

The saddest fact of our Canadian war deaths is that in fact they died in vain. They were suckered by civilian politicians into making the ultimate sacrifice to uphold immoral means to evil ends.

My grandfather, having served in most of the most vicious battles of WW I, was of the opinion that it was all just a terrible waste, the annihilation of a couple of generations worth of the best and the brightest of Christendom, before secular materialism wiped out their descendants. He is now buried in a Veteran’s cemetery near Montreal maintained by the Last Post fund.  In our respective enlistment photos we could have passed for twins except for the difference in style of our uniforms. I remember him being very proud of me signing up and serving … I still miss him.

It didn’t have to be the way it was

David Warren writes: “When, for instance, the newly-enthroned Karl I — Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary; “fanatic” Catholic Christian — discreetly proposed a separate peace to the allies in the spring of 1917, his agents were rebuffed, outed, and mocked. … our nationalist politicians could now hope to utterly crush the foe. They would demand unconditional surrender. … Drowned in the gunfire was this Blessed Karl’s expressly Christian plea. In an instant the decision was made, in the West, to persist till millions more were slain, and the conditions assembled for international violence and totalitarianism through the next seventy years.”  Go and read the whole post, it is worth your few minutes.

But the bitter truth is that Evil triumphed. The politicians got their way.

Jumping from a Dakota, training at Fort Benning

Jumping from a Dakota, training at Fort Benning, Ga, Dad’s photo

My father survived his war (WW II) because he had the great good fortune to be part of the second cadre, the second wave of reinforcements, He joined later in the war, because he was just 18.

He was part of the “replacements”, who were always about to be deployed into action when the “enemy” finally surrendered. He used to cynically joke about “they always quit because they heard we were coming into the line”, of course there were no lines for his outfit, which suffered 70% casualties at times in the missions they took on. He died in 1984, they are all dead now, including most of the people I served with.

Canadian DDH, 1970's

Canadian DDH, 1970’s, my war

I survived my war (WW III) because I had the equally great good fortune to serve in a branch that never, during my service, had anyone shooting at us in anger.

Yes, there were at times mortal danger, but not from “enemy action”. We cruised around at half strength with obsolete ships and equipment much older than we were, according to the political expediency of the day, showing the flag, showing a “presence”  and playing “chicken” with our contemporaries in equally obsolete ships and aircraft on the “enemy” side, who were also “showing a presence”.

Because budgets were more important than lives. Not enough crews to man the ships, not enough fuel to deploy to all our commitments, not enough ammo or torpedoes to come even close to a full load-out, not enough maintenance hours to fly the choppers safely. 300+ days a year at sea so that some ignorant wanker of a politician could make grandiose speeches about things he didn’t believe, in Parliament, at NATO meetings and in the UN General Assembly.

The "enemy"?

The Evil Empire, aka, the “enemy”?

I eventually stopped seeing that 20 something seaman on that ratty old Soviet destroyer 100 yards away as an “enemy”. He was just “me in another uniform” just doing his patriotic duty because of the designs of the real enemy back home in the Kremlin, and in Ottawa.

For years, I used to feel guilty that I had never “seen combat” like my army peers, until one day an older vet told me: Don’t be a stupid wanker!  I should be happy about “missing out on combat”. That was a “rain-check” he would have been grateful for. I changed my mind that day and asked God to forgive my stupidity.

WW I, II, and III only slowed down the Evil momentarily, Pyrrhic victories at best.

The truth of my Remembrance Day memories is that everything our fathers and grandfathers fought against and what we, in our turn,  believed we stood against is now running rampant at the very heart of our own polite society. And yet, God loves them all … that is difficult to understand …

Real life example … There were indeed horrible atrocities committed during the waning days of the Vietnam war. But the majority of the real “Baby Killers” weren’t “anyone in a military uniform” as the college crowd believed and attacked us for, back in the 70’s.

We were well trained and disciplined Canadian military … we and the vast majority of all serving military everywhere weren’t even remotely associated in any way with this sort of action, this sort of atrocity, which was stopped in its tracks by other members of the same military involved in the atrocity.

None of us had anything in common with the actions of the leadership of some angry draftee wack jobs in some Vietnamese village, except that we also wore “green uniforms”. But the protesters didn’t give a frack about the “truth”.  They didn’t seem to care about “facts”, or “truth”, ’cause it was “cool” to be a tool of the left, a useful idiot.  And besides, “every right minded person knows this to be true”. Evil in action.  And yet, God loves them all … that is difficult to understand … and even more difficult to emulate.

The real “Baby Killers” went on with their lives, left their protests behind, graduated from all their colleges, cut their hair, dressed up in suits and are now running the national murder show. In government, health, police and academia, the policies of death triumph everywhere. “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” (Pogo).

Carl Edward Sagan,

So about the time I retired from the military in the late 70’s I had come to the conclusion that the real enemy was in Ottawa and other government capitals. Nothing I have experienced subsequently has convinced me otherwise. Evil Triumphed. For now.

And yet, God loves them all …

I had an atheist acquaintance who, a few years ago, returned to his homeland to live out his days. He died, like all men do. I suspect that he has discovered that real “reality” isn’t even close to what he imagined it was.

Anduril, Howard Shore, LOTR, 2003

Stephen William Hawking

I imagine my old acquaintance, sitting around a back wall table in some eternal bar somewhere outside of time, along with his gods, his heroes Carl Edward Sagan, (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996 (aged 62)  Stephen William Hawking, (8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018) and Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. (December 31, 1943 – October 12, 1997), known professionally as John Denver.

There they sit, telling each other tall tales about how screwed up and unfair the outcome turned out to be. Or maybe not, after all, God loves them all …

Occasionally, when things get tough here and now, and I start to feel sorry for myself, I think I might just run away somewhere like Australia or New Zealand, but it is not this day.

We can’t really run away from our thoughts, our understandings as they evolve. Wherever we run we all die and if we have not gotten it right by then, then what?

Henry John Deutschendorf Jr.

My atheist acquaintance’s favourite theme when running down believers (often), especially Christians  was all the evil killing of all the Christian religious wars, especially Catholic religious wars, of all the centuries of history. And, as with the current “Global Warming” religious fad, the data simply do not support the rhetoric.

But, as one gent in my store said recently: “I DON’T CARE ABOUT FACTS! Everyone knows it’s true.” We are sorely afflicted, perhaps even fatally, with the philosophy of “feelings”.

Emotions trump facts and logic every time and if someone disagrees with the “emotional” excuses for faulty beliefs then they are Bulverized out of existence.

Uh-huh, and we now have Socialist Secular Progressive governments at the Provincial and Federal level who are very busy expanding the state role in eliminating inconvenient people, the economy is in the tank, we live with a 60 cent dollar and spend all our time complaining about Trump. The Kool Aide flows on in endless streams.

It has become so bad that in fact, now, at the Federal level, one is no longer allowed to even run for office unless one agrees in advance, in writing, to support killing babies and seniors and other “less desirable” people as required, in the name of “Woman’s Health” or “Quality of Life” or whatever the meme du jour happens to be this week. And yet, God loves them all ….

And no-one sees a problem with that … “Kristallnacht” anyone?  How did we get here? Doesn’t ANYONE understand that decisions and actions have consequences?

Maybe this is all just egotistical pontification, I am in love with my opinion, my version. What has this to do with Remembrance Day.

Maybe it’s because there is a huge disconnect between the people who died walking the walk for us, and the talking heads preaching and speechifying with the flash’s popping at the microphone. Funny thing how Christians in general and Catholics in particular are every gutless pseudo-intellectual non-believer’s favorite target. I would be astounded to see any of the usual suspects running down Muslims publicly.

“Je Suis Charlie”, right? Color me amazed at the sheer overwhelming unashamed hypocrisy of the whole damned lot of them. There are, obviously, individuals and groups who still misuse religion as a reason for violent behavior, but modern nation states don’t need religion as an excuse for going to war. Every major war in the last 300 years has been fought by nation states, not by the church. (death toll so far: 251.53 million conservative estimate and counting). And yet God loves them all … the politicians, the protestors, the profiteers, the bureaucrats, the civilians, and all the uniformed guys and gals sacrificing for the good of the many. God loves them all …

Union Field Hospital … American Civil War

In America’s history alone, the 4 year re-conquest of the secessionist states in the Civil War with a death toll of more than 620,000 killed and millions more injured, was a far bloodier event than the several hundred years of re-conquest of the Holy Land by the now despised Crusaders. Current estimates found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_war. place the highest estimated death toll for Christian religious wars at 18-20 million dead from all causes including civilian deaths from famine and disease, genocides and massacres.

The Battle of Arsuf was a battle of the Third Crusade in which Richard I of England defeated the forces of Ayyubid leader Saladin

The lowest estimate is about 5 to 6 million. It would seem that, whatever one’s views, reality lies somewhere in between, given the extraordinary range reported and the probable biases of the reporters depending on their religious or non-religious views. But even taking the highest estimates as veritable they are still dwarfed by the death tole inflicted by the godless progressive secular state and it’s multitude of minions in all it’s wars.

The state apparatus for investigating civilians now is far more extensive than anything dreamed up by the Spanish Inquisition, although both were created to serve the same purpose: to preserve a government’s public ideology and control of society, whether based on religion or on modern constitutional order.

Analogies can easily be multiplied, if one wants to push a thesis; but the point is that the greatest threat to world peace and international justice is the nation state gone bad, claiming an absolute power, deciding questions and making “laws” beyond its competence. And yet, God loves them all …

Boy Trudeau, Red Rachel, and all the rest ...

Boy Trudeau, Red Rachel, and all the rest …

And so we find ourselves surrounded and vastly outnumbered by the howling savages and zombies of the moral apocalypse, a kind of last ditch Fort Apache, and like others in history, sometimes you reach a place where you just have to stand and deliver.

I wear my Poppy to remind me of the generations wiped out by an insidious evil flowing through the rivers of self interest in the hearts of our secular masters who believe sacrifice is only for the other guy, the little guy, the suckers that the figureheads talk about at their Remembrance Day photo ops. And yet, God loves them all …

And I thank God this whole miserable world is just a way-station,  just boot camp, our Arrakis, created to train the Faithful. On Sunday at Mass, I thought about Boy Trudeau, Red Rachel, and all the rest and said a prayer for them, and for our Pope and the Cardinals and Bishops.

Because, still, God loves them all … and the Supreme Commander’s Standing Orders are: “Love one another as I have loved you.” This. Is. Hard. But then, just when the bitterness seems overwhelming … an answer comes. I just opened a letter, turns out to be from the grandparents of one of the children I support in the Ukraine. Their daughter, the kid’s mother, just died of cancer and now, with both mum and dad dead, the grandparents have all the children to look after. This is really what the whole point of life is, all us little people, sacrificing for the good of the other, to will the good of the other. No matter what. And I cry.

Wisdom 6:2-11
2 hear this, you who govern great populations, taking pride in your hosts of subject nations!
3 For sovereignty is given to you by the Lord and power by the Most High, who will himself probe your acts and scrutinize your intentions.
4 If therefore, as servants of his kingdom, you have not ruled justly nor observed the law, nor followed the will of God,
5 he will fall on you swiftly and terribly. On the highly placed a ruthless judgement falls;
6 the lowly are pardoned, out of pity, but the mighty will be mightily tormented.
7 For the Lord of all does not cower before anyone, he does not stand in awe of greatness, since he himself has made small and great and provides for all alike;
8 but a searching trial awaits those who wield power.
9 So, monarchs, my words are meant for you, so that you may learn wisdom and not fall into error;
10 for those who in holiness observe holy things will be adjudged holy, and, accepting instruction from them, will find their defense in them.
11 Set your heart, therefore, on what I have to say, listen with a will, and you will be instructed.

Cheers

Joe

Ready to jump … Dad’s photo, Fort Benning, Ga.

Mind The Step!

 

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Through The Lens of Age … Conformity to God’s Will

“Hotaru” by Kobudo, from the album “Ototabi”, (2013)

So, on revisiting my last post it might seem that life is grim and depressing with nothing of joy to contemplate in the world. And this would be correct when looked at a certain way. The painful disassociation from all things secular and temporal is indeed depressing and grim, joyless even as the realization of how little of the secular human existence matters in the big picture, one discovery of dissatisfaction after another, failure in all the members, even in members which heretofore had been relied upon to provide some comfort in the storm.

September 1970: French naval officer and underwater explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau (1910 – 1997), who in 1957 was appointed director of the Institute of Oceanography in Monaco. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Jacques Cousteau remarked: “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” I spent almost 8 years of my young life as a blue ocean sailor. I would have to agree wholeheartedly with Jacques regarding the spell of the sea.

I do not recall ever reading anything by Jacques Cousteau on spirituality and GOD but have difficulty believing that a fellow ocean sailor would not have had deep thoughts and beliefs regarding GOD in His majesty. I would paraphrase that sentiment to say “GOD, once he casts His net of wonder, holds one in thrall for the remainder of ones days”.

GOD and His existence and his all encompassing plan for everything and everyone is only hinted at powerfully by the sea and the experience of those who travel thereon, feeling the full range of the power of the sea.

I do not include the millions of “cruise boat tourists” who “take a cruise” from year to year in the number of those “who go down to the sea in ships”. For all the exposure they get, in their multi-thousand head herd, to the sea, they might as well be at Disneyland of some nautically themed entertainment venue in Vegas.

And I wade through my personal mental virtual reality of Frodo’s “Dead Marshes”  where the public actions of our modern Roman Curia color my faith life, and the public actions and words of our modern political and social classes, and the media color everything by which I try to understand what might be happening in the world around me. And I have to continually remind myself that “telling it like it is” is really only “telling it like what I think it might be”.

The Dead Marshes – from Peter Jackson’s movie “The Two Towers” based on “The Lord Of The Rings”

The Dead Marshes – from Peter Jackson’s movie “The Two Towers” based on “The Lord Of The Rings”

It’s not really “like it is” because there is no way I can know what it is, very much like I could not tell what the outcome would be when in the midst of a life and death struggle to preserve our little vessel in the midst of the power of a hurricane driven sea.

What I “think it is” is colored, is filtered,  by my pride, my opinion, my attachments, and my desires regarding what I think it “should” be.  Filtered by what “makes sense” to me.  I am completely missing the “deep” game. Only God reads the heart.

And why then does it all seem so grim? Is it because I am, in fact, failing to conform myself to God’s will?  God communicates Himself most to the soul that has progressed farthest along in love, in the sense of “Agape”, that is, true charity, or so I am told.

“Red Dragonfly” by Kobudo, from the album “Ototabi”, (2013)

And I am also told that true union with GOD brings true joy in its fullest sense. In real life, true love is made manifest in the willingness of the lover to do what pleases the loved one. True love is manifest, in this world, in the lover’s conforming oneself to the desires, tastes, and will of the loved one, not willing anything which could displease the loved one.

Saint Michael The Archangel

Saint Michael The Archangel

So, is it, the lack of, an abundance of joy, that is perhaps a real barometer of ones degree of conformity to God’s will? More joy more conformity, less joy less conformity? So it seems to me at this time, anyway. All the human foibles and sins to which I am prone interfere with and prevent full conformity with GOD’s will and therefore necessarily interfere with the development of joy in my life.

And what about outside influences? What about “all the evil spirits who prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.” as found in the last line of our “Prayer to Saint Michael The Archangel”?  I have been reading about exorcists, and reading books by real exorcists, there is even a “Priestly Society of Exorcists” called the Dolorans. I have also lately watched a couple of videos claiming to be about real exorcisms. I have moved firmly into the “I believe in spirits and demons and the Devil” camp.

As the Book of Revelations, (Revelations 12:3-4) says, “3And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns: and on his head seven diadems: 4And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered; that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son”.

So we are talking billions of evil spirits. Unfortunately, this whole area of demons and evil spirits, is not a popular subject these days since we are “too sophisticated” to believe all this superstitious nonsense. It is really quite dangerous to deny the existence of a powerful enemy.

This notion of the non-existence of Satan, and evil spirits and demons, and their influence in and on our lives, is a relatively new “truth” believed only by our sophisticated materialist secular society. Our “primitive” and “superstitious” ancestors believed otherwise, in all times and all cultures. C.S. Lewis mentions this in “the Screwtape Letters” :

*****

“My Dear Wormwood,

I wonder you should ask me whether it is essential to keep the patient in ignorance of your own existence. That question, at least for the present phase of the struggle, has been answered for us by the High Command. Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves.

Of course this has not always been so. We are really faced with a cruel dilemma.When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and sceptics. At least, not yet.

I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalise and mythologise their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, belief in us, (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy. The “Life Force”, the worship of sex, and some aspects of Psychoanalysis, may here prove useful.

If once we can produce our perfect work – the Materialist Magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls “Forces” while denying the existence of “spirits” – then the end of the war will be in sight. But in the meantime we must obey our orders. I do not think you will have much difficulty in keeping the patient in the dark.

The fact that “devils” are predominantly comic figures in the modern imagination will help you. If any faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to him a picture of something in red tights, and persuade him that since he cannot believe in that (it is an old textbook method of confusing them) he therefore cannot believe in you.

Chapter VII”

*****

So in this enlightened age we now have acknowledged the real “Materialist Magician“. We know them as Material Naturalists and their belief system is known as Material Naturalism. This is the belief that all that exists in the world is ultimately reducible to material phenomena. For example, from this perspective, Mother Teresa was just a unique bundle of brain chemistry with particular psychoneural processes acting predictably, prompting her to do what she did.

At all other times and places in history the belief in the demonic has been both fervent and well documented. Especially prevalent is the existence of “fomenting spirits”. That is, those evil spirits whose specialty is fomenting one or another kind of bad behaviour in humans who are more than ready to go along with any evil urging. Exorcists tell us that since so many demons identify with the vice or attitude they seek to foment, demons answer to these names.

As a result, some of the names of demons which I am listing here will correspond to various vices and disorders or attitudes which demons foment, but which we tend to think of as “natural” human behaviour because we don’t believe in demons. Here is just a short list of examples taken from the domain of

Satan's Subtle Art of Destruction

Satan’s Subtle Art of Destruction

Lying Spirits: “Pretension, Unreality, Denial, Delusion/Labyrinth, Convoluted Thinking, Cheating, Neglect of Responsibilities, Irreverence, Circumvention, Folly, Concealment, Blindness of Spirit, Evasiveness, Deceit, Mask, Game Playing, Deception, Illusion, Diversion, Error, Drama, Marionette-Puppet, False, Farce, Hallucination; Smoke & Mirrors, Harlequin Mask, Imitation, Pantomime, Counterfeit, Role Reversal, Fraud, Detraction, Incredulity, Coy, Cunning, Undermining, Aping, Dichotomy, Juggling, Duplicity, Facade, Dual, Showmanship, Theatrics, Show, Acting, Trickery, Magic, Mockery, Appearances, Fantasy, Heresy, Legion, Subversive, Irony, Mimicry”

Another domain is Unclean Spirits:Unclean & Offensive Conditions, Compulsiveness to Clean, Involuntary Vices (Obsessive Compulsive), Compulsion, “I have to”, Distortion of Truth, Busybody, Nosey, Curiosity, Violation of Confidentiality, Rumors, Critical Judgment, Perverted Judgment, Perverted Thinking, Scandal, Spirits that cause Accidents”.

And yet another domain is Theft:Stealing, Greed, Avarice, Materialism, Possessiveness, Hoarding, Covetousness, Collecting, Exclusiveness, Making Excuses for Sin & Infidelities to God; Neglect-Omission; Inability to Pray Because of Worldly Cares; Inability to Give or Share, Stingy; Inability to Give Praise & Thanksgiving to God or to People”

So yes, lots of outside influences … and none of them good, the above lists are drawn from Appendix I of  Deliverance Prayers, for use by the laity” a slim volume published by Sensus Traditionis Press, and available at Amazon.com.

When we consider the subject of evil spirits, and demons, and demonology, it really is hard to ignore C.S. Lewis. In our modern times there have been very few authors to have so stimulated the imagination with regard to the spiritual realm as the author of The Screwtape Letters. The book, dedicated to his friend and colleague J.R.R. Tolkien, begins with two quotes:

The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn. (Luther)

The devill . . . the prowde spirite . . . cannot endure to be mocked. (Thomas More)

This Lewis then proceeds to do in masterful fashion. Through witty episodes, he captures the cleverness and wiles of Satan’s agents, the demons and spirits who “prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls”  as well as their ultimate shortsightedness and folly. The biggest part of the battle is to struggle against the tide of modern sophisticated disbelief and accept the truth of the existence of evil spirits.

Well, I guess that’s enough for now. I will read some more and think some more and perhaps post some more about this later, as I want to discuss some of this with my parish priest and get his thoughts on this topic.

Cheers

Joe

The Long Defeat …

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

The Lens of Age …

“Oboe Concerto In D Minor: 2. Adagio”, Heinz Hollinger, Members of the Staatskapelle Dresden & Vittorio Negri, from the album “The Ultimate Baroque”, 2004

Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon, artist unknown to me.

Sunday morning again. Finding myself sleeping less and less these nights. Not feelling like I would necessarily want more sleep than what I am getting because I do feel rested, but simply finding myself awake and thinking earlier and earlier in the morning. Find myself pondering on last things, end of life things, afterlife.

Spoiler … this is not a happy letter, not feeling warm and satisfied in my happy place this morning. If you are looking for happy, probably you should look elsewhere. Also, these thoughts are probably boring as hell for anyone else but me. But its my blog and I get to write what I want, so I can get things out of my head, so I don’t nag people around me with downer pontification.

I consider that most of the people I have known personally in this life are already dead, by age, or disease, or misadventure, having buried more people than I now have in my circle of friends, I feel the presence of the “The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come” here present in the library of my mind. Maybe there are a few others out there in the early morning fog wondering about the end of all things and the personal “eschatological” implications for whatever is left of my life, our lives.

I am certain that I am not unique, or the only one wandering around this particular dark forest. For clarity I use the term “eschatological” above, to indicate my personal belief in a doctrine concerning ultimate or final things, such as death, the destiny of my soul, the destiny of humanity, the Second Coming, and the Last Judgment.

These days I am waking regularly around 04:00 and sometimes earlier. Thoughts that clutter up my mind this early almost always revolve around mortality and the absence of distractions to look forward to with anticipation. The “things of this world” which once fully occupied my thoughts attract and distract less and less.

A good friend of mine gets out and walks whenever this happens, now he is walking 6 or 8 miles a day. His family seems OK with this, but mine would freak out if I started walking around town in “the middle of the night”. I have to understand and accept that I should stay right here and entertain them if they are awake, and if I get up and go out they always wake up immediately.

My mother was like this, never able to settle unless everyone in the family was doing whatever she believed was the “right” thing for them to be doing at that particular time of the day. “Snug in their bed” she called it. And of course I don’t really feel like walking that much anyway, courtesy of knees and hips which feel like they have shards of glass embedded in them if I tax them too much.

The last Judgement (Hans Memling painted between 1467 and 1471)

The last Judgement (Hans Memling painted between 1467 and 1471)

Still find myself wasting neurons mulling about things over which I really have little or no control, some concerns for developments and possibilities after my death, and as a result of my death. Trying to figure out how to minimize the impact of my decline and death on those around me, loved ones and friends as well as the service community.

Really, the only thing that seems to bother me about death is my wish that I do not become a burden to others in my death spiral. My dad did it right, aneurysm, all over and done with in 3 days. No wailing and gnashing of teeth, no vindictive repercussions as the disabled geriatric lingers on in the valley of death.

No risk of becoming such an inconvenience to others that the government’s euthanasia, assisted suicide, mercy killing, legal murder of elders, pick your euphemism, starts to look attractive. Just a desire to somehow atone, by suffering, in peace, as long as it takes.

Most of this mind mulling around is not about anything I can do anything about in the present, but it is difficult to break out of old ruts and habits of thought. Once one begins to pull back from all the little things that used to fill up one’s life, to “detach” from the little things like socializing, eating, visiting, playing games, sports, travel, “watching” media distraction, Netflix, Kindle books, what then is left?

Thinking about physical ailments about which there is really nothing that can be done as I age. That is just the cup of aging humanity, suck it up princess. Just pain and discomfort in varying degrees and parts, and no way to lay or sit that doesn’t hurt somehow.

Entertaining and socializing seems largely connected with eating in our culture and this becomes a challenge rather than a pleasure when one is trying to fast and detach from one’s attachments to sensual pleasures. It is sobering to realize what a huge part eating plays in our daily activities.

Thinking about meals that don’t really satisfy because the old satisfactions involved socializing, and drinking, and eating way too much, beyond what the body actually needs, which turns out to be very little. Thinking about “Meals” as a penitential chore, a sacrificial task derived from the needs of others.

It is an interesting way to look at the domestic function of meal preparation.  Definitely not fashionable these days, especially with the vertically integrated multinational food conglomerates selling cheap processed corn and wheat and entertainment via lips and tongue and throat.

Job 34:15

15All flesh shall perish together, and man shall return into ashes. (Job 34:15)

Thinking about books that are more and more difficult to read, not because of failing intellect, but because of failing eyes – thank God for electronic text and zoom. Thinking about the interior life, and the sins of the past, long forgiven but still not atoned for, and the growing sense of my own unworthiness, my own “wretchedness” and utter insignificance in the biblical sense, relative to Almighty God.

There is increasingly nothing left but misery and mystery. The weight of what I don’t understand is overwhelming. I thought I was just getting a handle on spiritual growth and I now find many statements from the Gospels more challenging in their greatness and gravity than I did before. In old age it doesn’t get easier, but harder. This has become a very troubling situation but there is a great truth here.

On the one hand, in older age I am more practised, smoother, more sure, more “professional”. I have figured out the easiest and most efficient ways to get through. Life has taken its shape and all the the important decisions have been made. It is in some ways a comfort, I may or may not actually understand that my bad choices have had bad consequences, but at least that light is starting to come on, if only for my personal audience of one.

On the other hand, as I age, I more clearly see the difficulty in life’s questions. It is not so much getting wisdom as the inevitable grinding down of my preconceptions and vanities about what I think I know. Ha, maybe that is what wisdom is? I don’t know anything any more except that I really know very little about anything.

As I age, I see more deeply, I feel the burden of my culture, of the secular humanist, fashionably progressive godlessness all around. I start to see just how deeply I am embedded in that culture. I see, like a neon sign flashing, the absence of faith in our polite society and even deep into the Church.

I see the glorification of perversion and deviance and all manner of corruption and evil, murder, fornication, sodomy, adultery, fraud, prostitution, all now legal in some guise or another under some euphemism or other – I feel like I am in the audience to whom Paul spoke in Rome.

Saint Luke

Saint Luke, by Claude Vignon

In spite of the temptation to just give up on faith, what else is there to turn to? I think about Christ’s words In Luke 18:

*****

“1And he spoke also a parable to them, that we ought always to pray, and not to faint, 2Saying: There was a judge in a certain city, who feared not God, nor regarded man. (ed. as with our current crop of Supremes) 3And there was a certain widow in that city, and she came to him, saying: Avenge me of my adversary. 4And he would not for a long time.

But afterwards he said within himself: Although I fear not God, nor regard man, 5Yet because this widow is troublesome to me, I will avenge her, lest continually coming she weary me. 6And the Lord said: Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7And will not God revenge his elect who cry to him day and night: and will he have patience in their regard?

8I say to you, that he will quickly revenge them. But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?” (Luke 18:1-8, Douay-Rheims Bible)

*****

Even so, in sacred scripture, I also feel the greatness of Jesus Christ’s words, which, more often than before, seem difficult to understand. Is this my personal cross, is this a distance from God’s nearness, the clouded “personal connection” obscured by my narcissism? Is my doubt rooted in the beginnings of understanding how far I am removed from the greatness of the mystery of God, of GOD.

But I also have these little AHA! moments, again and again. I find these comforting, little momentary consolations, juxtaposed against the depths of the Word never fully understood. And then there is judgement!  As an awareness of my own wretchedness percolates through my dim understanding, the words of God’s wrath, of accusation, the threat of judgement, have become more frightening, more grave and awesome than ever before.

And now, new to my thinking, there is the God/GOD gap which I referred to in previous posts. I now find the Old Testament, and the Gospels more challenging than I did before when I was feeling good about how I was getting more familiar with scripture and congratulating myself in finally making sense of everything. While certainly not claiming anything resembling holiness I get a glimpse of the thoughts of Simeon when he exclaimed:

29Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; 30Because my eyes have seen thy salvation, 31Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: 32A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. (Luke 2:29-32, Douay-Rheims Bible)

Saint Peter Canisius, 1521-1597

Saint Peter Canisius, 1521-1597

In mind of the current rather chaotic and scandalous state of the Church I am going to close with a quote from Benedict XVI, and the ‘General Prayer’ of St Peter Canisius, the ‘Second Apostle of Germany’:

‘Almighty and eternal God, Lord, Heavenly Father! Look through the eyes of your gratuitous mercy at our sorrow, misery, and need. Have mercy on all the faithful Christians, for whom your only-begotten Son, our beloved Lord and saviour, Jesus Christ, willingly went into the hands of sinners and shed his precious blood on the trunk of the cross. Through this Lord Jesus avert, gracious Father, the well-deserved punishment, present and future threats, shameful rebellions, war, famine, disease, sad, and miserable times.

Also enlighten and strengthen all worldly and spiritual rulers and leaders in all goods, so they convey what is to your divine honour, to our salvation, to general peace, and the welfare of all Christianity. Grant us, O God of peace, a right union in faith, without any division and separation; without any separation and schism, convert our hearts to true repentance and amendment of our lives; kindle in us the fire of your love, give us a hunger and a zeal for all righteousness, so that we are as pleasing and complacent to you as obedient children in life and in death.

We pray also, as you want, O God, that we should pray, for our friends and enemies, the healthy and the sick, for all sad and sorrowful Christians, for all the living and the dead, to you O Lord, is commended all our deeds, our trade and commerce, our living and dying. Let us enjoy thy grace here and get there with all the elect that we might praise you in eternal joy and blessedness, honour and praise. We want to give praise, honour and glory to you! Grant us that, O Lord, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your beloved Son, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit as the same God and rules from eternity to eternity, Amen!’

Benedict XVI, Pope. Last Testament: In His Own Words, Bloomsbury Publishing.

So, instead of Cheers, I will just say “Peace be upon you”.

Joe

 

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Gerard Manley Hopkins … “Carrion Comfort”

“Ladies in Lavender”, Joshua Bell, from the album “the Essential Joshua Bell”, (2005)

Ayodeji Malcolm Guite (born 12 November 1957)

Ayodeji Malcolm Guite (born 12 November 1957)

Courtesy of Malcolm Guite,  I seem happily to have rediscovered poetry after a hiatus of several decades. Ayodeji Malcolm Guite (born 12 November 1957) is an English poet, singer-songwriter, Anglican priest, and academic. Born in Nigeria to British expatriate parents, Guite earned degrees from Cambridge and Durham universities.

His research interests include the intersection of religion and the arts, and the examination of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, and British poets such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

He is currently a Bye-Fellow and chaplain of Girton College, Cambridge and associate chaplain of St Edward King and Martyr in Cambridge.

On several occasions, he has taught as visiting faculty at several colleges and universities in England and North America. Guite is the author of five books of poetry, some of which are available on Amazon.com Kindle editions.

The poem caught my attention was “St. Michael and All Angels” from “Sounding the Seasons: Seventy Sonnets for the Christian Year” (London: Canterbury Press, 2012). Found on Amazon.com, for a few bucks.

And by the wandering connections of serendipity I later found Gerard Manley Hopkins. Born at Stratford, Essex, England, on July 28, 1844, Gerard Manley Hopkins is regarded as one the Victorian era’s greatest poets. He was raised in a prosperous and artistic family. He attended Balliol College, Oxford, in 1863, where he studied Classics.

In 1864, Hopkins first read John Henry Newman’s Apologia pro via sua, which discussed the author’s reasons for converting to Catholicism. Two years later, Newman himself received Hopkins into the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1884, he became a professor of Greek at the Royal University College in Dublin. He died five years later from typhoid fever. Although his poems were never published during his lifetime, his friend poet Robert Bridges edited a volume of Hopkins’s Poems that first appeared in 1918. His collected poems, exercised a profound influence on modern poetry.

This volume features all of Hopkins’s mature work, offering a sampler of the poet’s striking originality, intellectual depth, and perceptive vision. Hopkins is considered by many to be the greatest Victorian Poet.

Featured works include his well-known elegy, “The Wreck of the Deutschland,” “God’s Grandeur,” “Hurrahing in Harvest,” “The Windhover,” “Pied Beauty,” and “Carrion Comfort.” Additional verses include “The Caged Skylark,” “The Bugler’s First Communion,” “The Starlight Night,” “The Silver Jubilee,” “Henry Purcell,” “Andromeda,” and others.

Carrion Comfort

By Gerard Manley Hopkins

Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist — slack they may be — these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?

Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, chéer.
Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, fóot tród
Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.

The volume is available from Amazon.com for a couple of bucks … well worth the read.

Cheers

Joe

… and miles to go before we sleep …

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Michaelmas … The Feast of St. Michael and All Angels

Snow”, by Kobudo, from the album “Ototabi”  (2013)

Malcolm Guite,

Malcolm Guite,

This is an edited re-post of a previous post from August, and the Feast has arrived, as all good things do. Today is September 29th, the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.

As previously mentioned, I came across some interesting books of poetry while browsing my Amazon account like I used to do as a young man in my favorite used book stores in Montreal and Ottawa, long before the days of internet and online anything.

In this enlightened age, following the suggestions of their algorithm of choice on Amazon, or Netflix, or any other marketing bot attempting to sell us stuff, can really end up in a deep ditch of habit unless considered and actively rejected.

Sometimes it pays to actually go on a quest for something different than normal, thinking for oneself can be refreshing … found this poet … Malcolm Guite, interesting man … and very worthwhile considering on our cool fall days. Winter is coming.

St. Michael, Archangel

St. Michael, Archangel

Popularly knows as Michaelmas; also known as the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, the Feast of the Archangels, or the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels) is a minor Christian festival observed in some Western liturgical calendars on 29 September.

It is observed by Anglicans, Catholics, Lutherans, and Eastern Orthodox communions. From my Daily Roman Missal:

St. Gabriel

St. Gabriel, Archangel

“St. Michael (“Who is like God”) is the Archangel who fought Satan.  He is the protector of all people and reminds the faithful of the real existence of the Devil and demonic activity. He is invoked for protection from the snares of the Devil.

St. Gabriel (“Strength of God”) announced to St. Zechariah the birth of St. John the Baptist and to the Blessed Virgin Mary the birth of Christ. His greeting to Our Lady, “Hail, full of grace,” is one of the most familiar and frequent prayers of the Church.

St. Raphael, Archangel

St. Raphael, Archangel

St. Raphael (“Medicine of God”) is the Archangel who, in the Book of Tobit, cared for Tobias on his journey. Every person on his or her pilgrimage through this life also has a guardian angel.”

In some denominations a reference to a fourth angel, usually Uriel, is also added. In Christian angelology, the Archangel Michael is the greatest of all the Archangels and is honored for defeating Satan in the war in heaven.

He is one of the principal angelic warriors, seen as a protector against the dark of night, and the administrator of cosmic intelligence.

Michaelmas has also delineated time and seasons for secular purposes, as well, particularly in Britain and Ireland as one of the quarter days.

*****

St. Michael and All Angels

Michaelmas gales assail the waning year,
And Michael’s scale is true, his blade is bright.

He strips dead leaves, and leaves the living clear
To flourish in the touch and reach of light.

Archangel bring your balance, help me turn
Upon this turning world with you and dance
In the Great Dance.

Draw near, help me discern,
And trace the hidden grace in change and chance.

Angel of fire, Love’s fierce radiance,
Drive through the deep until the steep waves part;

Undo the dragon’s sinuous influence
And pierce the clotted darkness in my heart.

Unchain the child you find there, break the spell
And overthrow the tyrannies of Hell.

Malcolm Guite, This poem from “Sounding the Seasons: Seventy Sonnets for the Christian Year” (London: Canterbury Press, 2012). Found on Amazon.com,

*****

Cheers

Joe

… and miles to go before we sleep …

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Life in a small town

Not by bread alone … sometimes we have fish.

Great Supper Tonight – Lemon Dill Pickerel … (also called Walleye in the States, and Dore in Quebec) … in a cream sauce. And actually no bread allowed in a keto diet.

Cooks up as mild, flaky fish fillets. A number of different types of white fish will work, and you can increase the recipe easily.

Try Pickerel, Whitefish, Perch, Bass, Walleye, Halibut, Cod, Haddock, probably even Jackfish (Northern Pike?), if you can get them big enough, called Slough Sharks around here, etc. Serve with a white and wild rice blend, or with Cauliflower rice if you are going keto, or a Kale salad.

I like it with Pickerel and I get my Pickerel from a fisherman at Primrose Lake, Saskatchewan … He calls it pickerel … but read on, maybe it is really a Jackfish. Anyway, the recipe …

1 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 4 tsp/20 mL dried dilweed)
1/2 tsp pinch salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 pickerel fillets, skin on or skinless, about 2 – 2.5 lb (1000 g)
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup lemon juice

Lemon Mushroom Sauce:

2 tablespoon butter
2 cup finely chopped mushroom
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 clove garlic minced
2 cup whipping cream
2-3 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt

Method

Sauce: Lemon Mushroom Sauce: In saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; cook mushrooms and onion, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Add garlic, cream, lemon juice and salt ; cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5-10 minutes or until reduced to half and thickened enough to coat back of spoon. Keep warm.

What I have been calling Pickerel all my life

Fry the fish: In shallow dish, mix together flour, dill, salt and pepper; gently press fillets into flour mixture, turning to coat and shaking off excess.

In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat; cook fillets, skin side up, for 4 minutes. Turn and sprinkle with lemon juice; cook for about 3 or 4 minutes (depends how thick the fillet is) or until fish flakes easily when tested with fork. Serve with sauce spooned over.

What I have been calling Jackfish all my life

And I was going to put one picture in but discovered that what I call Pickerel is identified as Walleye in American sources, and what I call Jackfish seems to be identified as Pickerel or Southern Pike in those same sources.

Obviously not the same fish by any measure, but probably both cook up fine in Lemon Dill Sauce. So I am calling a buddy to see if we are all out to lunch since we were kids – it is entirely possible … who knew.

UPDATE: yes indeed, I am not mistaken … what we have all called Pickerel or sometimes Dore is indeed the Perch-like fish identified above as Walleye or Pike Perch or Wall eyed Pike elsewhere. So I guess we are wrong and failed our taxidermy exam, but we have the consolation of all being wrong together for all our life.

That’s something at least, and is likely the state of affairs in a wide range of things we think we know. Absent swimming in the nude in chilly streams it is unlikely that this particular unknown will bite our ass.

enjoy

Cheers

Joe

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Life in a small town

Death by Defunction …

David Warren

David Warren

Just a couple of posts of interest by a blogger I follow …

First:

https://www.davidwarrenonline.com/2018/08/09/chronicles-of-defunction/

and then:

https://www.davidwarrenonline.com/2018/08/10/death-by-technology/

From the first link: “Alas, they had the Big Idea. Too, they were exemplars of temperance — workaholic instead, and probably incorruptible, in that sterile, short-sleeve, Puritan way. This is of the essence of liberalism and progress. It is a matter of stolid conviction, in opposition to all human experience. Everything is done consciously, nothing by instinct. Statistics are gratuitously gathered, and constantly reviewed. Everything must be managed, to the end of eliminating anything that smacks of a living tradition, spontaneity, or morale.

The (ancient) Greeks, who knew a thing or two about tyranny, felt that no decision should be made until it had become unavoidable, by when it would have been discussed, in a leisurely and therefore thorough way, sometimes drunk and sometimes sober. If the same conclusion is reached by both methods — by the coffee method and by the whisky method, as it were — then, and only then, should we dare proceed.”

Old Tomorrow Beer

Old Tomorrow Beer

This Old Dominion once had leaders of this type (Like the Greeks mentioned above), men who understood that one must never do today what can be reasonably put off until tomorrow.

Sir John Alexander Macdonald (11 January 1815 – 6 June 1891) was the first Prime Minister of Canada (1867–1873, 1878–1891). The dominant figure of Canadian Confederation, he had a political career which spanned almost half a century. His nickname to friend and foe alike was “Old Tomorrow”, or so I have read …

Now we are blessed with Boy Justin, and rushing to be first over the cliff because some Howler on Facebook told us “all right minded people know this is true” it is The. New. Direction. … but we still have good beer …

Cheers, and a smile on one’s face lightens up the whole miserable day …

Joe

The only way is underway …

Land is just a navigational hazard …

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Life in a small town

St. Michael and All Angels … the Angels of our better nature …

Snow”, by Kobudo, from the album “Ototabi”  (2013)

Came across some interesting books of poetry while browsing my Amazon account like I used to do as a young man in my favorite used book stores in Montreal and Ottawa, long before the days of internet and online anything.

Following the suggestions of their algorithm of choice on Amazon, or Netflix, or any other marketing bot attempting to sell us stuff, can really end up in a deep ditch of habit unless considered and actively rejected.

Sometimes it pays to actually go on a quest for something different than normal, thinking for oneself can be refreshing … found this poet … Malcolm Guite, interesting …

St. Michael, Archangel

St. Michael, Archangel

Michaelmas; also known as the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, the Feast of the Archangels, or the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels) is a minor Christian festival observed in some Western liturgical calendars on 29 September.

It is observed by Anglicans, Catholics, Lutherans, and Eastern Orthodox communions.

In some denominations a reference to a fourth angel, usually Uriel, is also added. In Christian angelology, the Archangel Michael is the greatest of all the Archangels and is honored for defeating Satan in the war in heaven.

He is one of the principal angelic warriors, seen as a protector against the dark of night, and the administrator of cosmic intelligence.

Michaelmas has also delineated time and seasons for secular purposes, as well, particularly in Britain and Ireland as one of the quarter days.

*****

St. Michael and All Angels

Michaelmas gales assail the waning year,
And Michael’s scale is true, his blade is bright.

St. Michael, Archangel

St. Michael, Archangel

He strips dead leaves, and leaves the living clear
To flourish in the touch and reach of light.

Archangel bring your balance, help me turn
Upon this turning world with you and dance
In the Great Dance.

Draw near, help me discern,
And trace the hidden grace in change and chance.

Angel of fire, Love’s fierce radiance,
Drive through the deep until the steep waves part;

Undo the dragon’s sinuous influence
And pierce the clotted darkness in my heart.

Unchain the child you find there, break the spell
And overthrow the tyrannies of Hell.

Malcolm Guite, This poem from “Sounding the Seasons: Seventy Sonnets for the Christian Year” (London: Canterbury Press, 2012). Found on Amazon.com,

*****

Cheers

Joe

… and miles to go before we sleep …

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Common Sense … & Wisdom …

“Deep Peace”, Bill Douglas, from the album of the same name, (1996)

Revisited my post from the 6th of July   especially the last half which was a quote from the Book of Wisdom … Wisdom 7 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA) Seems the primary English translation from the Latin Vulgate, the Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible is not “copyrighted”.

The Douay–Rheims Bible is a translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English made by members of the Catholic seminary English College, Douai, France. It is the foundation on which nearly all English Catholic versions are still based.

It was translated principally by Gregory Martin, an Oxford-trained scholar, working in the circle of English Catholic exiles on the Continent, under the sponsorship of William (later Cardinal) Allen.

The New Testament appeared at Rheims in 1582; the Old Testament at Douai in 1609. The translation, although competent, exhibited a taste for Latinisms that was not uncommon in English writing of the time but seemed excessive in the eyes of later generations. The New Testament influenced the Authorized Version.

Between 1749 and 1752, English bishop Richard Challoner substantially revised the translation with an aim to improve readability and comprehensibility. Bishop Challoner’s revised version is the one I use, published by TAN in the U.S. in 1989.

It was first published in America in 1790 by Mathew Carey of Philadelphia. Several American editions followed in the 19th and early 20th centuries; prominent among them the Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition Version.

Wisdom 7: 1-3

*****

1 I myself also am a mortal man, like all others, and of the race of him, that was first made of the earth, and in the womb of my mother I was fashioned to be flesh.

2 In the time of ten months I was compacted in blood, of the seed of man, and the pleasure of sleep concurring.

3 And being born I drew in the common air, and fell upon the earth, that is made alike, and the first voice which I uttered was crying, as all others do.

*****

“I myself also am a mortal man, like all others”, I especially like this chapter of Wisdom. It speaks to the true commonality of mankind, rather than our stylish modern “Common Sense”.  Commonality transcends cultures and societies and goes to the root of what is truly human.

These days, I enjoy watching foreign shows on Netflix, especially since most haven’t succumbed to the Hollywood direction of the main characters hopping into bed with every creature they meet on the first date, a kind of smorgasbord of passion and animal lust, all lungs and sweaty thorax and four hours in makeup to look hot in bed. No more western TV for me, no joy there at all, just a reflection of a dead end quest for sensate immortality and distraction.

So, I watched a show last night in which one of the protagonists explained to a grieving friend how it all passes away … “All joy passes away with time, but so does sorrow and sadness” or something to that effect. I thought is was an apt comment about our times and the goals and choices held up to us by the world as “desirable” and “satisfying”.

St. Paul said: “We are fools for Christ.” … “we are weak, but you are strong; you are honourable, but we without honour. 11Even unto this hour we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no fixed abode; 12And we labour, working with our own hands: we are reviled, and we bless; we are persecuted, and we suffer it. 13We are blasphemed, and we entreat; we are made as the refuse of this world, the offscouring of all even until now.” (1 Corinthians 4:10-13)

Venerable Fulton Sheen

Much of the rest of this post is drawn from my readings of Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen and Cardinal John Henry Newman. Specifically from:

John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, bk. 6, no. 7 (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1977), 1241-45.

and

Fulton J. Sheen, Go to Heaven: A Spiritual Road Map to Eternity (p. 132). Ignatius Press.

Much is made these days of “Common Sense” as if somehow, “all right thinking persons” have common sense … hence, in our polite society, there is alleged a commonality of “common sense” amongst those “who think like me and agree with me”. This commonality permits me to virtue signal my esteem of others without ever taking my eyes off myself in the mirror.

Now, common sense never drove any man crazy, common sense supposedly defines “sanity”. But let’s think about this just a bit, this bald assumption about “common” sense.

Common sense never climbed mountains and certainly never cast a mountain into the sea in the biblical sense, common sense is not in any way about faith. Common sense is not violent and yet, violence is the commonest thing in our culture, in our society, and in our world.

Common sense never walked on the moon, or flew a plane or wrote a symphony, and common sense certainly never ran into a burning high rise to save lives.

Common sense never moves towards the sound of the guns, never makes a man willing to offer up his life, and yet it is in losing our life that we put into practice “greater love hath no man”.

Life sometimes can be saved by walking within an inch of death, facing the raging fire, standing firm against impossible odds, in jumping down a cliff, but common sense never makes those sort of jumps.

The soldier at times can cut his way out of his surrounding enemies, perhaps to save his comrades, or perhaps fall upon the grenade to save the rest, but he must have an uncommon carelessness about dying—and common sense does not permit that carelessness.

The Kingdom of heaven can sometimes be gained only by plucking out an eye—but common sense never plucked it out. Common sense is all about self, the “me first” knee jerk reaction.

Common sense makes a man die only for the sake of dying, for there is no choice about dieing, right? All that matters ultimately is dieing without pain, or loss of “dignity”.

It is not common sense, but love and a spirit of self sacrifice which makes a man choose to die for the sake of living—and it is the love of Jesus Christ crucified, which produces the wisdom of heaven at the cost of the foolishness of self sacrifice, of the abandonment of self, in the eyes of the world.

Al Pacino, Devil’s Advocate

Love makes men throw down their lives to take them up again, makes men sell fields for the pearl of great price, makes men treat the world as a trinket, laugh at death, and offer up everything for the one loved.

No matter the opinion of “common sense”, the opinion of the world, the Gospel of Christ is not a gospel of sorrow.

Our contemporary society’s view is that this life is made for pleasure and happiness. Any other view is ridiculed as foolishness. But to those who have actually experienced a few decades of this world, to those who have looked under the surface, it tells a very different tale.

Our doctrine of the Cross teaches the very same lesson which this world teaches to those who live long enough in it, who have much experience in it, who have lived it. Our doctrine of the Cross teaches this lesson more forcibly, but after all it is the very same lesson.

Even today, at this advanced age, some of my friends, when talking about other friends, not present, and often no longer in the world, will say “… and then he got religion”, as if this were like getting some illness. No doubt they say the same thing about me when I am not around. From my viewpoint this is simply the process of waking up … to a new dawn.

Someone famous once said: “The world is sweet to the lips, but bitter to the taste. It pleases us at first, but not at last. It looks gay on the outside, but evil and misery lie concealed within”. When a man has passed a certain number of years in it, he cries out with the Preacher, ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’

And if he doesn’t “get religion” … he will be forced to say: “All is vanity and vexation of spirit; all is disappointment; all is sorrow; all is pain”. Without the doctrine of the Cross we are invited to accept the culture of death, to escape our pain and disillusion, to accept evil with only a whimper and a sigh, as we stare, runny-eyed into the chasm of the banal..

The judgments of God upon our sins, upon our worship of the god of self, are concealed within the very fabric of the world itself, and eventually these force all men to grief whether they want it or not. The doctrine of the Cross merely anticipates for us the experience of the world. It is a “sneak preview” of the truth of eternity.

The doctrine of the Cross interferes with the common sense superficial view, and with finding a vain transitory joy in what we see and taste and feel, and experience. The doctrine of the Cross forbids our immediate enjoyment, but it grants enjoyment in truth and fullness afterwards. It only forbids us to begin with enjoyment. It only says, if you begin with pleasure you will end in pain.

Blessed John Henry Newman

The doctrine of the Cross bids us begin with the Cross, and in that Cross we shall at first find sorrow, but in a while peace and comfort will rise out of that sorrow.

That Cross leads us to conversion, to mourning, repentance, humiliation, prayer, fasting; we shall sorrow for our sins, we shall sorrow with Christ’s suffering; but all this sorrow will only be undergone in, and result in a happiness far greater than the enjoyment which the world gives—though careless worldly minds will not believe this because it defies common sense.

Careless worldly minds, minds obsessed with “common sense”, ridicule the notion of happiness through sorrow, because they never have tasted it, and consider it a mere matter of word play, semantic gymnastics. In a world of ideology, that truth which religious persons think decent and proper, and try to believe themselves, and to get others to believe, is to the common sense mind impossible, no right minded person really feels that truth.

But in order to truly enjoy this world one must begin with the world unseen, the supernatural world. We must first abstain from the world to truly enjoy the world. We must first fast in order to truly feast. Only those who have learned not to abuse the world are able to use the world. They alone inherit the world, who take it as only a shadow of the world to come, and who, for that world to come, relinquish this world.

“I myself also am a mortal man, like all others”. The “Common Sense” of self worship is a dead end. “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.” John Donne. from “Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, and severall steps in my Sicknes“, written in 1624

Cheers

Joe

 Apollo 15 mission, 1971

Composite of photographs from the Apollo 15 mission, 1971

Common Sense?

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