The Inner Struggle

Psalm 139 … God’s Self Restraint … a resurrection of sorts …

Mark Mallett with Pope Benedict XVI

I have been following another blogger (one of a select few) for quite a while now. Mark Mallett has made a couple of interesting posts in the last few days, Well, actually all his posts are very good but I was struck by these recent two posts …one on Living in God’s Will  and another on The world we are facing today.

Coincidentally, I am currently reading several of the books which Mark references which may make his posts more relevant and interesting to me. I also am reading several others which fill up my daily reading list and make progress slow but steady.

Sometimes the reading gets in the way of posting and leaves me thinking heavy thoughts about my wasted life and all the years I would like to have back that I frittered away on things I once thought were important but which time has shown to be nothing more than smoke in the wind.

Some of this reading is really heavy going as I try to come to terms with how I have spent my life and how far I have to go. But the past is the past and all I can do now is learn from it and move forward to the goal. Have to complete the mission, no matter what. I have to keep it always before me that the children of this world, the world of Anti-Christ, are all children of God the Father, who the Father loves better than the best father in this world, and for whom and with whom he exercises divine Self-restraint

Mark’s writing seems to be something of a roller coaster with many ups and downs, many “lenses” so to speak, first the optimism of “Living in The Divine Will”, and then the plunge into the Hell of worldly reality which is very much related to what we are seeing in the media about world events and in our Church these days. I find that I need a lot of reassurance at times and I find that reassurance in daily prayer and meditating on the “upside” of the world going to Hell all around us, and who can deny that there is much of Hell in our daily vision of worldly events.

I take some comfort in remembering, in reminding myself, that GOD sees and experiences and understands all things in the Eternal Now, even that bit of his now within which he created “a nothing”, within which He “then” created everything that exists in time.

I keep reminding myself that to live in the Divine Will is the goal, the treasure which transcends all the travail, sorrow, and pain “in time”. It is simply not possible for we poor time raddled creatures to imagine in any meaningful way the idea of “The Eternal Now”. All we are faced with is “Jesus, I Trust In You”. Jesus faced it all and he told us to Trust Him.

So let us look at, meditate on, John 6: 41-51. John 6 is all about belief and Eucharist, as follows:

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41 Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ 42They were saying, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?’

43Jesus answered them, ‘Do not complain among yourselves. 44No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45It is written in the prophets, “And they shall all be taught by God.” Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father.

47Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’

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Robert Cardinal Sarah

How can this be?  How can the almighty eternal God permit the rejection of unbelievers, who must displease Him Who knows all, sees all, understands all, feels all, every bit of it all,  just as it is intended by men?  Cardinal Sarah writes:

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“In order that the world might be, and be for itself, God renounced His being.” What does that mean? “To make room for the world, the En-Sof (Infinite; literally, No-End) of the beginning had to contract Himself so that, vacated by Him, empty space could expand outside of Him: the ‘Nothing’ in which and from which God could then create the world.

Without this retreat into Himself, there could be no ‘other’ outside God.” We can guess his conclusion: In deciding on this withdrawal into himself so that man can exist, God becomes by that very fact a suffering God, because he will have to suffer because of man and be disappointed in him.

God will also be a concerned God, because he will entrust the world to agents other than himself, to free agents. In short, this is a God at risk, a God who incurs a proper risk. But then, that God is not an almighty God.

In order for the goodness of God to be compatible with the existence of evil, he must not be almighty. More exactly, it is necessary for this God to have renounced power. In the simple fact of allowing human freedom lies a renunciation of power. But if God is not powerful, then he is not God.

He is the Almighty, but, at the same time, he wants to permit man to be truly free. Because the omnipotence of God is the omnipotence of love; and the omnipotence of love is death.

The infinity of God is not an infinity in space, a bottomless, shoreless ocean; it is a love that has no limits. Creation is an act of infinite love. For Hans Jonas, the act of creation is a kind of divine “self-restraint”.

By dint of this, God’s silence and his allowing things to happen can receive an initial explanation. Human suffering mysteriously becomes suffering for God. In the divine nature, suffering is not synonymous with imperfection.”

Robert Cardinal Sarah,  “The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise” (para 168-169). Ignatius Press. Also available on Kindle at Amazon.

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and then we have Psalm 139:

1 לַמְנַצֵּחַ לְדָוִ֣ד מִזְמ֑וֹר יְ֜הֹוָ֗ה חֲקַרְתַּ֥נִי וַתֵּדָֽע For the conductor. Of David, a song. O Lord, You have searched me out and You know.
2 אַתָּ֣ה יָ֖דַעְתָּ שִׁבְתִּ֣י וְקוּמִ֑י בַּ֥נְתָּה לְ֜רֵעִֽ֗י מֵֽרָחֽוֹק You know my sitting and my rising; You understand how to attach me from afar.
3 אָרְחִ֣י וְרִבְעִ֣י זֵרִ֑יתָ וְכָל־דְּרָכַ֥י הִסְכַּֽנְתָּה My going about and my lying down You encompassed, and You are accustomed to all my ways.
4 כִּ֚י אֵ֣ין מִלָּ֣ה בִלְשׁוֹנִ֑י הֵ֥ן יְ֜הֹוָ֗ה יָדַ֥עְתָּ כֻלָּֽהּ For there is no word on my tongue; behold, O Lord, You know it all.
5 אָח֣וֹר וָקֶ֣דֶם צַרְתָּ֑נִי וַתָּ֖שֶׁת עָלַ֣י כַּפֶּֽכָה From the rear and the front You encompassed me, and You placed Your pressure upon me.
6 פְּלִ֣יאָה דַ֣עַת מִמֶּ֑נִּי נִ֜שְׂגְּבָ֗ה לֹֽא־אוּכַ֥ל לָֽהּ Knowledge is hidden from me; it is hard, I cannot attain it.
7 אָנָ֣ה אֵלֵךְ מֵֽרוּחֶ֑ךָ וְ֜אָ֗נָה מִפָּנֶ֥יךָ אֶבְרָֽח Where shall I go from Your spirit, and where shall I flee from Your presence?
8 אִם־אֶסַּ֣ק שָׁ֖מַיִם שָׁ֣ם אָ֑תָּה וְאַצִּ֖יעָה שְּׁא֣וֹל הִנֶּֽךָּ If I ascend to the heavens, there You are, and if I make my bed in the grave, behold, You are there.
9 אֶשָּׂ֥א כַנְפֵי־שָׁ֑חַר אֶ֜שְׁכְּנָ֗ה בְּאַֽחֲרִ֥ית יָֽם [If] I take up the wings of dawn, [if] I dwell at the end of the west,
10 גַּם־שָׁ֖ם יָֽדְךָ֣ תַנְחֵ֑נִי וְֽתֹ֖אחֲזֵ֣נִי יְמִינֶֽךָ There too, Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will grasp me.
11 וָאֹֽמַ֗ר אַךְ־חֹ֥שֶׁךְ יְשׁוּפֵ֑נִי וְ֜לַ֗יְלָה א֣וֹר בַּֽעֲדֵֽנִי I said, “Darkness will darken me, and the night will be as light about me.”
12 גַּם־חֹשֶׁךְ֘ לֹֽא־יַחְשִׁ֪יךְ מִ֫מֶּ֥ךָּ וְלַיְלָה כַּיּ֣וֹם יָאִ֑יר כַּֽ֜חֲשֵׁיכָ֗ה כָּֽאוֹרָֽה Even darkness will not obscure [anything] from You, and the night will light up like day; as darkness so is the light.
13 כִּֽי־אַ֖תָּה קָנִ֣יתָ כִלְיֹתָ֑י תְּ֜סֻכֵּ֗נִי בְּבֶ֣טֶן אִמִּֽי For You created my reins, You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 אֽוֹדְךָ֗ עַ֚ל כִּ֥י נֽוֹרָא֗וֹת נִ֫פְלֵ֥יתִי נִפְלָאִ֥ים מַֽעֲשֶׂ֑יךָ וְ֜נַפְשִׁ֗י יֹדַ֥עַת מְאֹֽד I shall thank You for in an awesome, wondrous way I was fashioned; Your works are wondrous, and my soul knows it very well.
15 לֹֽא־נִכְחַ֥ד עָצְמִ֗י מִ֫מֶּ֥ךָּ אֲשֶׁר־עֻשֵּׂ֥יתִי בַסֵּ֑תֶר רֻ֜קַּ֗מְתִּי בְּתַחְתִּיּ֥וֹת אָֽרֶץ My essence was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, I was formed in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 גָּלְמִ֚י | רָ֘א֚וּ עֵינֶ֗יךָ וְעַל־סִפְרְךָ֘ כֻּלָּ֪ם יִכָּ֫תֵ֥בוּ יָמִ֥ים יֻצָּ֑רוּ וְל֖וֹ אֶחָ֣ד בָּהֶֽם Your eyes saw my unformed body, and on Your book they were all written; days have been formed and one of them is His.
17 וְלִ֗י מַה־יָּֽקְר֣וּ רֵעֶ֣יךָ אֵ֑ל מֶ֥ה עָֽ֜צְמ֗וּ רָֽאשֵׁיהֶֽם And to me, how dear are Your friends, O Lord! How great is their sum!
18 אֶסְפְּרֵם מֵח֣וֹל יִרְבּ֑וּן הֱ֜קִיצֹ֗תִי וְעוֹדִ֥י עִמָּֽךְ I shall count them; they are more numerous than sand; I have come to the end, and I am still with You.
19 אִם־תִּקְטֹ֖ל אֱל֥וֹהַּ | רָשָׁ֑ע וְאַנְשֵׁ֥י דָ֜מִ֗ים ס֣וּרוּ מֶֽנִּי If only You would slay the wicked, O God, and men of blood, “Turn away from me.”
20 אֲשֶׁ֣ר יֹֽ֖מְרוּךָ לִמְזִמָּ֑ה נָשׂ֖וּא לַשָּׁ֣וְא עָרֶֽיךָ Who mention You with wicked thought; Your enemies took it up in vain.
21 הֲלוֹא־מְשַׂנְאֶ֖יךָ יְהֹוָ֥ה | אֶשְׂנָ֑א וּ֜בִתְקֽוֹמְמֶ֗יךָ אֶתְקוֹטָֽט Did I not hate Your enemies, O Lord? With those who rise up against You, I quarrel.
22 תַּכְלִ֣ית שִׂנְאָ֣ה שְׂנֵאתִ֑ים לְ֜אֹֽיְבִ֗ים הָ֣יוּ לִֽי I hate them with utmost hatred; they have become my enemies.
23 חָקְרֵ֣נִי אֵ֖ל וְדַ֣ע לְבָבִ֑י בְּ֜חָנֵ֗נִי וְדַ֣ע שַׂרְעַפָּֽי Search me out, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts.
24 וּרְאֵ֗ה אִם־דֶּֽרֶךְ־עֹ֥צֶב בִּ֑י וּ֜נְחֵ֗נִי בְּדֶ֣רֶךְ עוֹלָֽם And see whether there is any vexatious way about me, and lead me in the way of the world.

Old testament all the way, and then came Jesus Christ who gave us His new commandment … “Love your enemies … “. The children of this world, the world of Anti-Christ,  they are also all children of God the Father, who the Father loves better than the best father in this world, and for whom and with whom he exercises divine Self-restraint … always offering the light of conversion, the peace of repentance.

Cheers,

Joe

*Image: Christ the King (a.k.a. The Almighty or God the Father) by Jan van Eyck, c. 1425 [St. Bavo’s Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium]. This is the Deisis (representation of Christ in majesty), central panel in the inner section of the Ghent Altarpiece

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The Inner Struggle

The Resurrection of Christ Jesus … Meaning and Communication?

“An Taiseirl (The Resurrection)”, Noirin Ni Riain and The Monks Of Glenstal Abbey, from the album “Vox de Nube”, (1996)

Resurrection, Romolo Tavani

Resurrection, Romolo Tavani

Acts 10:34a, 37-43 Peter proceeded to speak and said: “You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power.

He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.

They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.

He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

“Quid hoc ad aeternitatem,” as old Saint Bernard of Clairvaux used to mumble when faced with the usual parade of travail, “what does it matter in the light of eternity?” Well, it turns out that the Resurrection matters rather a lot. St. Bernard had it right concerning all the trials of our daily lives as they relate to eternity, but THE most important thing in all of human history is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Why is it so misunderstood and ignored?

I like the term “praxis” meaning “that which people do habitually, characteristically and usually unreflectively“, as a wonderfully concise summary of our polite daily narrative. It gives me a nice handle on the state of action, conversation and thought, or the lack of same, in our social media society.

I have had an on-again, off-again, love/hate relationship with the use of our English language as a means of alleged “communications” for at least 40 years now. I have found that the world shows a distressing lack of precision and understanding of the meaning of common words, used every day, and in the communication of thoughts which when examined, have no relation whatsoever to the words in use to express the “feelings” of the speaker except perhaps in some vague syllabic sort of way, the more syllables the better.

That the speakers lack a basic understanding of what the words they use moment by moment actually mean in English is a never ending source of distress and misunderstanding. Should one raise any objection to this misuse of the language one is immediately vilified as a “pedant”, supposing that term exists in the speakers lexicon, and worse if the vocabulary is lacking. Even questioning “What do you mean?” invites a snarky retort along the lines of “What’s the matter with you don’t you understand plain English?” To which the obvious answer is “Well, yes, but … ”  don’t go there … really, no joy down that  track.

And so we find ourselves back at the start of the trail, with another pair of tracks in front of us added to the ones before … and then someone remarks “Another couple of Heffalumps have joined the herd!” … So goes debate and discussion in polite society.

As I remarked in a previous post, the gateway to Belief is flanked and supported by the two pillars of reality, the Incarnation and the Resurrection supporting the lintel of Faith …  but how can one express such a reality to any person confined to, imprisoned in, secular material reality? How are we to describe color to the blind or music to the deaf? How to communicate when we don’t even have a common language?

How is one to explain “Faith” without a common language, and even the brightest of  us seem to assign rather different meanings to rather common ideas and words. I am still reading “The Resurrection of the Son of God V3: Christian Origins and the Question of God” by N.T. Wright, from “Fortress Press” . It is a joy to read, what I have in the past referred to as “Brain Candy”, but not a ripping page turner. I I read a bit when I  am finished daily meditations, along with several others on my list in the same class of books.

And Dr. Wright spends a significant part of the first 70 pages or so clarifying this exact problem of meaning and the need for clarity in the context of historical writing and theology …  and that same confusion is equally prevalent in daily social exchange and is arguably more important, since in the immediate sense, history is only important to historians.

N.T. Wright writes: “What, though, do we mean by ‘historical’?  ‘History’ and its cognates have been used, within debates about Jesus and the resurrection, in at least five significantly different ways.

First, there is history as event. If we say something is ‘historical’ in this sense, it happened, whether or not we can know or prove that it happened. The death of the last pterodactyl is in that sense a historical event, even though no human witnessed it or wrote about it at the time, and we are very unlikely ever to discover when and where it took place. Similarly, we use the word ‘historical’ of persons or things, to indicate simply and solely that they existed.

Second, there is history as significant event. Not all events are significant; history, it is often assumed, consists of the ones that are. The adjective that tends to go with this is ‘historic’; ‘a historic event’ is not simply an event that took place, but one whose occurrence carried momentous consequences. Likewise, a ‘historic’ person, building or object is one perceived to have had particular significance, not merely existence. Rudolf Bultmann, himself arguably a historic figure within the discipline of New Testament studies, famously used the adjective “geschichtlich” to convey this sense, over against “historisch” (sense 1).

Third, there is history as provable event. To say that something is ‘historical’ in this sense is to say not only that it happened but that we can demonstrate that it happened, on the analogy of mathematics or the so-called hard sciences. This is somewhat more controversial. To say ‘x may have happened, but we can’t prove it, so it isn’t really historical’ may not be self-contradictory, but is clearly operating with a more restricted sense of ‘history’ than some of the others.

Fourth, and quite different from the previous three, there is history as writing-about-events-in-the-past. To say that something is ‘historical’ in this sense is to say that it was written about, or perhaps could in principle have been written about. (This might even include ‘historical’ novels.) A variant on this, though an important one, is oral history; at a time when many regarded the spoken word as carrying more authority than the written, history as speaking-about-events-in-the-past is not to be sneezed at.

Fifth and finally, a combination of (3) and (4) is often found precisely in discussions of Jesus: history as what modern historians can say about a topic. By ‘modern’ I mean ‘post-Enlightenment’, the period in which people have imagined some kind of analogy, even correlation, between history and the hard sciences. In this sense, ‘historical’ means not only that which can be demonstrated and written, but that which can be demonstrated and written within the post-Enlightenment worldview. This is what people have often had in mind when they have rejected ‘the historical Jesus’ (which hereby, of course, comes to mean ‘the Jesus that fits the Procrustean bed of a reductionist worldview’) in favour of ‘the Christ of faith’.

If the “authorities”  cannot agree on the meaning of “historical” then what hope for the rest of us on any topic. We are left with “Feelings”?

Anyway, eh? Enough serious stuff for tonight …here is something from around here amongst the frozen chosen:

Cheers

Joe

A Psalm of David: The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Christmas Holiday 2019 …

Revisiting posts from Christmas’s Past, to remind myself that the past was not all gloom and doom even if it feels that way this week. Wishing and praying that everyone had a Very Merry Christmas, all my friends and acquaintances (and apparently a 100 or so followers and a few dozen other daily search engine hits). Notoriety of the really small potatoes variety on the scale of things on the web, where The Donald gets thousands of hits with a poorly thought out ten word tweet, sigh, everyone is a one hit wonder these days.

Except, of course, the Dems’  who are the acknowledged centre of the known universe (after Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada). It is rather crowded at the center and those occupying that enviable position are perennially front and center in their long running endless impeachment soap opera drama, or in Canada the endless trashing of the evil Albertan Global Warming engine which the progressive media happily give endless hours of coverage without even a minimum of concern about facts and reality on the ground. Ah, such joy to live out one’s days in a drugged haze of self worshiping fantasy. Just for the record here in our small town we had about four inches of new fallen Global Warming to clean up our muddy street and make everything look pristine and perfect for a few hours.

I do hope that your Christmas has so far been as peaceful and blessed as ours has been here among the western frozen chosen … the happy (Any Small Town, Flyover Country ) Bagginses of the Plains. Currently listening to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRXrqURyRy0 which is 3 hours of easy listening Christmas themed musical compilation. Also have a YouTube fireplace running an endless loop of a 30 second fire place bite. These are the best kind of fireplace really, which I can display on my 60″ flat screen monstrosity in the “living” room giving me all the aesthetic benefits, sight and sound, of a cheerful fireplace scene with none of the downsides attendant in cutting wood, and smoke, and cleaning up the incessant ash piles, and the inevitable buildup in the chimney.

After the steady grind of the worst year we ever had in business with larger than usual losses and many deaths, illnesses, and sufferings amongst folks we know and also some we don’t know but rather know of,  we here ended up having one normal week of business instead of a Christmas rush.  The first “normal” business week since May at the end of which the main street construction project destroyed access to our store until mid October. Our latest “Annus Horribilus”  ended with a good week leading up to Christmas day both in the business and in the family. We celebrated Christmas Day with a small gathering of close family and feasted on a decidedly non traditional fish chowder and rare steak. Our youngest family member is now coming up to 25 years old so we were spared the happy chaos of youngsters rowdily enjoying their holiday festivities.

Except for a short visit with other relates in our nation’s capital via Face-time, things were mercifully quiet and restrained here. We enjoyed much quiet commentary on the quality of the meal, the nice music and how mild the weather has been this year and how enjoyable everything was. Ironically, my vision of Christmas was for many years something along the lines of the song by The Chieftains – “St. Stephen’s Day Murders” featuring Elvis Costello.

These days my Christmas is more along the lines of this offering by Yo-Yo Ma, and Alison Krauss performing “The Wexford Carol”,   or, this song, written and sung by Jackson Browne, “On The Side of the Rebel Jesus”. If we seriously lived the revolutionary teachings of Jesus Christ, it would be a different world … I love this take on the Holy Season … living in a thoroughly pagan society, and heartsick at the suffering that flourishes everywhere in our nominally christian, capitalist countries. The numbers of homeless and hungry, victimized and disenfranchised powerless little people in both Canada and the US should be a source of shame to every person but instead … well, “I’m all right Jack.

INGSOC logo from 1984

INGSOC logo from 1984

Today is our first day back to work after a very welcome break. It is overcast with sunny periods and not too cold, a nice mild -15 degrees Celsius, which around these parts is almost shorts and sandals weather. You probably know that I read a lot of blogs. There’s a lot of good, provocative, and perceptive writing going on in the blogosphere now. I wish I had the time to read everything. Of course, blogs, like all things resulting from human activity, are subject to Sturgeon’s law, that of being 90% crap, and many who try to blog either become bored and quit, or have little to say which would be of interest to anyone other than their immediate circle of friends (a sort of “Facebook” post writ large).

But with so many people trying, even among the residual 10% of non-crap there are now thousands of people writing good content. And some of that good content I have alluded to in previous posts, most recently on the unlikelihood of any sort of cultural reform going forward in our society, and the stark reality of the passing of Christendom.

These days, most of what passes for entertainment falls into the twin categories of Dystopian fiction, or thinly disguised, and often not so thinly disguised, pornography. Observed at arms length, we as a society, revel in blood, oppression, violence and sex of various colors and species in all our imaginary distractions. And most dystopian fiction of the last 70 years or so centres around the eventuation of a godless totalitarian state enforcing draconian social control measures to limit and control the proles, the “citizens” and fashioning those organic resources into a more or less compliant state asset for the realization of inhuman objectives to “protect us for our own good”.

I am in mind of “That Hideous Strength”“1984” or “Soylent Green” or “Logan’s Run”,  or “The Omega Man”, or the more recent remake “I Am Legend” with Will Smith in the lead role, and others really too numerous to list here. it seems to be a frequently recurring theme in literature, film and most recently in online MMOGs.

I have referenced Wikipedia links for information on the above stories and movies with a very precise objective in mind. They often have good information but in using the Wiki one must always keep in mind their obvious, and very thorough Atheistic bias in going to great lengths to  Bulverize any reference to the divine in their information items.

The Wiki is perhaps one of the most obvious poster children for the “Material Naturalist” world view. I wrote at length about that world view and it’s goals and ambitions here and here. Those posts might provide an interesting backgrounder to why we are now living in a real life dystopean drama. All the heroes in these modern religious myths are always Lone Wolf protagonists who rise up and take action against the monolithic state apparatus, by use of violence and subversion, and the mass audience for this product are the very people who are currently the “oppressed proles” in our current “dystopean” society.

One of my recent posts details why there will never be a real life uprising along the lines of all the admittedly entertaining fictional alternate realities with which our current crop of “bread and circus” addicts distract themselves. The primary plank of the Material Naturalist world view is that there is no God, that everything in the universe is purely and simply the result of random biochemical processes and survival of the fittest, according to the so-called “Theory of Evolution” courtesy of the Universal Church of Charles Darwin.

There is no God, we are all an accident of evolution, there is no point to anything except return on investment, no moral values, no virtues, no good or evil outside the context of profit and power. Everything which we perceive is the result of random chance working on the basic inorganic constituents of the observable universe, and when we die that’s it, that’s all she wrote.

There is no soul, nothing spiritual, no intrinsic value in any human life beyond the market value of our chemical constituents and/or the possible net positive value we can add to the economy by our efforts during our lifetime, said lifetime to be optimized in relation to our productivity. And beyond this world, relating to the unimaginably complex and numerous possibilities of “randomness”, there is the assumed but undiscovered possibility of endless numbers of more or less evolved “aliens” also living the same pointless random existence.

And the possibility of  “intelligent life” (i.e. creatures who could appreciate Bach)  is unquestioned … BUT, “real science” would say otherwise. I “borrowed” the next few paragraphs from a David Warren post from 2014 titled “Stardust”:

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“For if life truly “evolves” by happenstance, as the Darwinoids do vainly preach, something approaching to human smarts would have appeared here and there many millions of years before us, wherever conditions were favourable. Indeed, given the speed at which humans suddenly “evolved” here, we could ourselves have appeared on Earth, millions of years before we actually did.

David Warren

David Warren

We are extremely recent, in geological terms; have been here less than a second, if the history of the planet were scaled down to one day. We’ve come a fair technological distance ourselves, since the last Earth ice age, a mere twelve thousand years ago, and the pace appears to be accelerating. Imagine what we could do given, oh, another million years, or hundred million. I daresay we’d finally figure how to get out and about.

The Italian physicist, Enrico Fermi, did this thought experiment before 1950. He realized that we did not need expensive, incredibly sophisticated tools, to detect extraterrestrial life. If it was there, it would already have got here. He reasoned that, even if it could not defeat lightspeed, a sufficiently advanced material culture could send self-reproducing probes to colonize its home galaxy in a blink of exogeological time, then leapfrog galaxy to galaxy in all directions. It would transmit messages that could not be missed.

Any mathematical extrapolation of the number of planets in the universe that could, possibly, “evolve” life, is defeated by Fermi’s Paradox. The more possibilities there are, the less likely it has ever happened. But of course, physics advances, and we now have a second indefatigable argument against ET. It developed from the “anthropic principle” in cosmology, which holds, tautologically enough, that the structure or “design” of the universe must be compatible with the existence of the conscious sapient creatures who observe it from within. (We would be they.)

Over the last few decades we have come to understand that life on earth absolutely depends on such an extraordinary number of extremely fine conditions, operating together at levels of coincidence that so stretch the odds, that the chance of finding another inhabited planet — even within something so large as our universe in space and time — is inconsiderably remote. Or to put this another way, it appears dead obvious that the purpose of the universe was to make us possible. It would follow that our lives must be in some strange way — beyond any passing subjective enthusiasm — worth living. For Someone went to a lot of trouble to put us here.”

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Jesus Christ, AD 30

Jesus Christ, AD 30

The Real Hero of OUR dystopean drama already rose up more than two millennia ago. The Rebel Jesus spread revolutionary teachings against the values, powers and things of the material world, the things that mattered a great deal to the authorities of His day. And they murdered Him, though there was “no crime in Him”, as Pilot declared. And the Light shone in the darkness and the darkness knew Him not.

Of all the works done by God in time and outside of Himself, the redemptive Incarnation of the Word is the greatest. Always we must be remembering that the vast universe which the materialists are so impressed with as “all there is” was formed in an instant in a “nothing” that GOD Himself had to create by withdrawing some tiny portion of his timeless Presence.

A Presence without beginning and without end drew back a portion of Himself and within that new “nothing” He created time and the material universe and all that developed in it after the Big Bang. The Incarnation of the Word is the greatest work because it has for an end not a mere creature, however sublime and unrepeatable by man that may be, but GOD Himself, the eternal Word who, in time, assumed a human nature and a material human body in this  material universe.

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Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D

It is the greatest work because it is the supreme manifestation of the merciful love of GOD, and the work which above all others glorifies Him; and it glorifies Him precisely in reference to charity, that is love, which is His very essence. It is also the greatest of His works because of the immense good it brings to all mankind. The salvation, sanctification, and eternal happiness of the whole human race depends wholly upon the Incarnation of the Word, upon Jesus, the Incarnate Word.   (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. from the book “Divine Intimacy” Meditations on the interior life for every day of the liturgical year.pp 80).

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God the Father “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, (before time existed) that we should be holy and unspotted. … Who hath predestined us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ unto Himself. … In whom we have redemption … the remission of sins according to the riches of His grace. … GOD hath quickened us together in Christ … and hath raised us up together, and hath made us sit together in the heavenly places, through Christ Jesus.”   (Letter of Paul to the Ephesians 1, 4.5.7 – 2.5.6)

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Unlike the important things of this world GOD’s greatest work takes place in obscurity and silence, and under the most humble and most human conditions. Mary and Joseph are forced by civil authority to leave their humble home and to undertake a long journey. They travel on foot like the rest of the poor, in spite of Mary’s advanced pregnancy. They do not object and they make no complaint, but obey with promptness and simplicity. They are commanded by a pagan emperor, and they go, trusting in GOD’s Providence; GOD knows, GOD will provide; “To them that love GOD all things work together unto good.” (Rom 8, 28).

It is GOD’s will that His greatest work be accomplished here, in a wretched stable, in utter poverty, and Mary and Joseph embrace His will. They are humble and therefore docile to the will of GOD with complete humility. And GOD, as is His custom, made use of what was humble and despicable in the eyes of the world to accomplish the greatest of His works: the Incarnation of the Word.

And the winds howl, and the waters roughen, and Christ, the Incarnate Word, has come and is always coming. It is something to think about, for no matter how you look at it — whether you are a traditional Christian (there can be no other kind), or  a perfectly conventional, orthodox material Narcissist — the message of Christmas is not, never was, and by its meaning never will be, “all about us.”  It is all about everything that is not us, as the Lord said to St. Catherine of Sienna, “I am GOD, You are not”, and that GOD loves us all with an absolute everlasting LOVE … He loved us from before time was and will love us so for all of eternity. So Trust Him … and come home, to the Father who loves you no matter what.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night…

Cheers

Joe

This Too Shall PassAlways remember, “be charitable in your judgements, never take yourself too seriously” and of course, the ever relevant “Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.”

Sometimes when I post, I look at my sig and wish that I’d follow my own damned advice.

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The Inner Struggle

Riches … and living in This World …

I Am In thy Hands, O Mary”, Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, Doctor Scott Piper, Sir Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, OP & Sr. Maria Miguel Wright, OP;  from the album “Mater Eucharistiae”, (2013)

Mater Eucharistiae, the Dominican Sisters of Mary - Mother of the EucharistLiving in this world it is astoundingly difficult to avoid becoming attached to the things of this world, not the least because we are almost completely unaware of those attachments unless things start going against what we want, in  terms of outcomes and tastes and opinions and the physical realities of enjoyment, food listening, seeing, entertainment, sex and so on and so forth.

Had a nice get together this weekend for a fish fry with friends and acquaintances, all more or less my age, all retired service members and or their spouses as have survived the vicissitudes of time and we share many views and opinions, no surprise there.  What hammers home as we all age together is that death is no respecter of political or economic or moral views.

How so very many are no longer with us for these get togethers, a mere half dozen from the 100 plus who entered boot back in 71, and in spite of the many claimed by misadventure, these days Cancer seems to be the weapon of choice of the Reaper. We have been completely loosing that war for well over 60 years now, billions and billions spent, and billions in profits to all the usual academic and commercial interests, and the gravy train keep on rolling and no victory in sight and something like 95% casualty rate among the sufferers. Why is it so hard to admit that the current model is not working? Anyway …

Death claims the virtuous and the deviant, the affluent and the poor, the liberal socialist and the conservative capitalist, the religious and the secular, the parent and the child … death comes for us all … often when we are really not ready to depart. The only thing that seems to stand out is that those who believe in eternity and live accordingly have Hope. The rest do not, just a grim journey down into despair, and all the “stuff” we spent our lives for has no saving grace at all. Puts one in a reflective headspace to consider all this.

I have recently posted a couple of articles reflecting on what I am faced with in the aftermath of our recent federal election and also the aftermath of our recent Amazonian Synod in Rome. Both events, and the surrounding actions and reactions surrounding these events, have left me, in the present, deeply depressed and trying to see a path forward in the gloom … looking for some glimmer of light to look forward to. I think Christ has an answer … of course … both to how to view the worldly antics of our secular and religious leadership and how to go forward dealing with the daily depression.

In Romans 8, 12-17 (old missal) St. Paul compares the two lives which always struggle within us, are at war within us. The Old Man and the New Man always struggle to control the man (or woman). The Old Man, is a slave to passion and pleasure, the things of this world, a slave to self indulgence, a slave to sin, from which come the fruits of death. The New Man, is the servant of, or even better, the child of God, producing the fruits of life, fighting for the right, without question or pause, willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause, and our smart polite secular society is truly hellish when one thinks about all those practices which used to be anathema and are now common place … no longer even commented upon, truly truly, Old Man to the core.

To paraphrase Paul, “If you live according to the Old Man, according to the flesh, you shall die. But if you live by the Spirit, if, by the New Man, you mortify the flesh, you shall live”. One of my favorite, perhaps my most favorite of authors, Rudyard Kipling touched upon this truth (the battle between the flesh and the spirit) in his poem “If”. For those of you who never heard of Kipling here is a bit of bio on the man who is perhaps one of the greatest non-Catholic Christian writers in our recent history.

Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) is best known for his novels The Jungle Book, The Second Jungle Book, and Kim, and his most famous poem, “If—”.

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born December 30, 1865, in Bombay, India, to a British family. When he was five years old, he was taken to England to begin his education, where he suffered deep feelings of abandonment and confusion after living a pampered lifestyle as a colonial.

He returned to India at the age of seventeen to work as a journalist and editor for the Civil and Military Gazette in Lahore. Kipling published his first collection of verse, Departmental Ditties and Other Verses, in 1886 and his first collection of stories, Plain Tales from the Hills, in 1888.

In the early 1890s some of his poems were published in William Ernest Henley’s National Observer and later collected into Barrack-Room Ballads (1892), an immensely popular collection which contained “Gunga Din” and “Mandalay.” In 1892 Kipling married and moved to Vermont, where he published the two Jungle Books and began work on Kim.

He returned to England with his family in 1896 and published another novel, Captains Courageous. Kipling visited South Africa during the Boer War, editing a newspaper there and writing the Just-So Stories.

Kim, Kipling’s most successful novel (and his last), appeared in 1901. The Kipling family moved to Sussex permanently in 1902, and he devoted the rest of his life to writing poetry and short stories, including his most famous poem, “If—“. He died on January 18, 1936 at the young age of 70 years; his ashes are buried in Westminster Abbey. Kipling’s complete works are available as an e-book on Kindle for a pittance. The literary production values are poor (not flashy) but the works are original, pure, and beautiful.

“If…”

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

by Rudyard Kipling, in A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (1943)

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

Paul Corrects Peter

If you mortify the deeds of the flesh you will live … Baptism has begotten us to the life of the spirit, but it has not suppressed the life of the flesh in us. The New Man must always struggle against the Old Man, the spiritual must always struggle against the corporeal.

Grace does not excuse us from this battle, but gives us the power to sustain it: “If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

Grace gives us the power to “Hold on”, Grace gives the New Man the power to hold on and continue the struggle against the Old Man when things go in the pot and it looks like all is lost … “If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

Grace …

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too;

Grace …

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Grace …

Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

Grace…

We must detach ourselves, from all these earthly things and creatures: “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch; If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; If all men count with you, but none too much;” in order to keep all worldly things in their proper priority of place.

David Warren

As David Warren remarks: “Where Kipling goes wrong, predictably because he is not a Catholic, I think, is by omitting the one thing I could reliably do, to make the world a better place; however indirectly. It is to become Holy. This, truly, is “to advance one’s own cause” — in the highest sense, selfish.

It is the selfishness that is distantly reflected, as it were in mudwater at the bottom of a pit, in The Fable of the Bees. (In that, the ideology of Capitalism was foreseen: “private vices, publick benefits.” The author, Bernard Mandeville, was our English Machiavelli. He preferred selfish vices, to “virtue signalling.”)”

We are commanded “…to be Holy as your Father in heaven is Holy” … to “live in the Divine will”.  God must reign over all. There will always be attachments in the human heart, but they must be subordinate to God and to His will so that they can never usurp His place as the mainspring of our actions. The spiritual life, the life of the New Man, is a love affair with Jesus. Remember, as a small child, holding on tightly and trustingly to your father’s little finger and you walked out for the first time … remember trusting your father … we are called to Trust our Divine Father totally because he loves with an everlasting love that transcends the love of every human father who ever loved his little boy or girl.

We must be utterly convinced of the need to “Hold on …” so that we will not get self satisfied, or puffed up about our virtue, or perhaps discouraged when old sins come back to haunt us over and over again, even many years after we had thought them dead and gone. “The life of man upon earth is a warfare” (Job 7,1) and “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence” (Mat 11,12).

But this never ending struggle should not discourage or frighten us. We are children of God and can call upon his paternal help without fear of being ignored or hung out to dry. St. Paul says “You have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry Abba, Father.

It’s A Wonderful Life … with the right lenses we can see what is actually important.

This world never tires of selling us that which is not important. None of our daily serving of important worldly news and information matters even one wit or is worth the time to digest it. When we are busy admiring our beautiful front lawn we are missing the exquisite treasures sitting there in plain view for those who can stop worshiping the beautiful lawn. Nothing so fertilizes the field of despair as buying what this world is selling us, all the beautiful little ponies, all the little golden calves.

Sell everything and go for the eternal treasures with every power and ability that is in you. GO FOR IT! We should be putting at least as much effort and work and struggle into acquiring the things of the eternal reality as the children of this world put into acquiring the things of this passing world.

Nothing darkens our gaze on God, nothing weakens our striving to reach God, to live in God’s Will,  as much as a single strong attachment to anything of this world, a single attachment to the Old Man. That is the great source of all the trouble and trials in our lives, and I have absolutely nothing to be upset or depressed about since absolutely nothing of this world really matters … it all winds down to dusty death and passes away no matter what we do … any of us.

Ave Christus Rex! Viva Christo Rey! Hail Christ the King! Ave Christus Rex!

Cheers

Joe

 Galadriel, “The Lord of the Rings”
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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,

Ice on the puddles in the mornings now. At least we are not experiencing the Montana and Southern Alberta foothills blast of winter we are seeing on various social media. This is an edited re-post of a previous post from last year September 29th 2018, and the Feast has arrived again, as all good things do. Today is Sunday, September 29th 2019, the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.

As previously mentioned, I have come 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 personal computers, the internet, and online anything. Remember the 60’s?  HA!  gotcha.

In this enlightened age, following the suggestions of the 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. Amazon’s latest “recommended for you” is “Winter World, a new ice age changes everything”. A refreshing change from dystopian Sci-Fi monologues by global warming zombies  predicated upon an “apocalypse by CO2” who pretend that their “Science” fiction is based on fact.

It would seem, on consideration, that most media coverage of “climate change” is really just “Science” fiction with an agenda, like George Soros’ rise to global domination in the fortress of F.U.D. It is sometimes surprising when one discovers that a Hungarian Billionaire is one of the major funders of Justin Trudeau and the Canadian Liberal Party, the Natural Governing Party, as they style themselves.

Predicting a coalition of Greens, NDP, and Liberals to maintain control of Ottawa and the direction that Canada goes for at least another 4 years. Sigh … open guess if we will survive as a business to see the next federal election after this one. Of course Trump prevailed against all the media and pundit predictions so maybe we will get lucky up here as well, not that I am a great fan of Trump but I would hold my nose and vote for him given the abysmal quality and morality of virtually every other contender from every party. There are probably not even a half dozen Secular Progressives in any party in any Capital that shouldn’t be imprisoned or perhaps terminated for “Crimes Against Humanity”. That’s not a very charitable point of view, is it? What would Jesus say?

Anyway, the Feast of Michaelmas, and how 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. As Ned Stark remarked: “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.

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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, The Inner Struggle

Imitatio Christi

David Warren has a timely post here. I completely agree with his view of “The Imitation of Christ”, by Thomas a Kempis. I have been reading it, both linearly and using the “open it anywhere” method for years now. It never grows old. My personal version of “The Little Brown Book” is a Baronius Press  imprint from 2008 of the Richard Challoner translation from the 18th century. It is available as a free eBook at Gutenberg.org. A couple of passages from where I am in the book right now are particularly comforting in my current state of mind:

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Chapter XLIV Deadness to Exterior Things”

CHRIST

SON, in many things it behooveth thee to be ignorant, and to esteem thyself as one dead upon earth; as one to whom the whole world is crucified. Many things also must thou pass by with a deaf ear and think rather of those things that appertain to thy peace.

It is more profitable to turn away thine eyes from such things as displease thee, and to leave to everyone his own way of thinking, than to give way to contentious discourses.

If thou stand well with God, and look at His judgement, thou will more easily bear to see thyself overcome.

DISCIPLE

2. O Lord, to what are we come? Behold a temporal loss is greatly bewailed; for a small gain men labour and toil, but the loss of the soul is little thought of, and hardly returns to mind.

That which is of little or no profit takes up our thoughts; and that which is above all things necessary, is negligently passed over; for the whole man sinks down into outward things, and unless he quickly recovers himself, he willingly continues immersed in them.

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and

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“CHAPTER XLV  Men Are Prone to Offend”

DISCIPLE

GRANT me help, O Lord, from trouble, for vain is the salvation of man. (Ps 59:13).

How often have I not failed to find faith there where I thought I might depend upon it. And how often have I found it where I did not expect it? Vain, therefore, is all hope in men; but the safety of the just is in Thee, O Lord. Blessed be Thou, O Lord my God, in all tings that befall us.

We are weak and unsettled, we are quickly deceived and changed.

2. Who is the man that is able to keep him self so warily, and with so much circumspection in all things, as not to fall sometimes into some deceit or perplexity? But he that trusts in Thee, O Lord, and seeks Thee with a simple heart does not so easily fall (Wis. 1:11).

And if he fall into some tribulation, in what manner soever he may be entangled therein, he will quickly be rescued and comforted by Thee; for Thou wilt not forsake forever him that trusts in Thee. (Ps. 36:28). A trusty friend is rarely to be found that continues faithful in all the distresses of his friend. (Ecclus. 6:10). Thou, O Lord, Thou alone are most faithful in all things, and besides Thee, there are no other such.

3. Oh, how wise was that holy soul that said, My mind is strongly settled and grounded upon Christ. (Eph. 3:17). If it were so with me the fear of man would not so easily give me trouble, now flying words move me. Who can foresee all things, or who is able to provide against all future evils? If things foreseen do nevertheless often hurt us, how can things unlooked for fail of wounding us grieviously?

But why did I not provide better for myself, miserable wretch that I am! Why also have I also so easily given credit to others! But we are men and but frail men though by many we are reputed and called angels. To whom shall I give credit O Lord? To whom but to Thee? Thou art the truth which neither canst deceive, nor be deceived. (John 14:6). And on the other side, every man is a liar (Ps. 115:11), infirm, unstable, and subject to fail, especially in words; so that we ought not readily to believe even that which in appearance seems to sound well.

4. How wisely didst Thou forewarn us to beware of men (Matt. 10:17), and that a man’s enemies are they of his own household (Matt. 36); and that we are not to believe, if anyone should say “Behold here, or behold there.” (Matt. 24:23). I have been taught to my cost, and I wish it may serve to make me more cautious, and not to increase my folly. “Be wary,” saith one, “be wary, keep to thyself what I tell thee.” and whilst I hold my peace, and believe the matter to be secret, he himself cannot keep the secret which he desires me to keep, but presently betrays both me and himself, and goes his way.

From such tales and such incautious people defend me, O Lord, that I may not fall into their hands, or ever commit the like. Give to my mouth truth and constancy in my words, and remove far from me a crafty tongue. What I am not willing to suffer I ought by all means to shun.

5. Oh, how good a thing and how peaceable it is to be silent of others (Prov. 25:9), now to believe all that is said, nor easily to report what one has heard:

To lay one’s self open to few; always seek Thee, the beholder of the heart; Not to be carried about with every wind of words; but to wish that all things, both within and without us may go according to the pleasure of Thy will.  How secure it is for the keeping of heavenly grace to fly the sight of men; and not to seek those things which seem to cause admiration abroad; but with all diligence to follow that which brings amendment of life and fervour. To how many hath it been hurtful to have their virtue known and over-hastily praised.

How profitable indeed hath grace been kept with silence in this frail life! All which is a state of temptation and a warfare.

*****

Cheers

Joe

 

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

The Octave of Easter and the importance of Reverence in the Liturgy …

“Crux Fidelis”, Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, from the album “Lent at Ephesus”, (2014)

Continued on from my last post. First of all it appears that that large noisy crowds from the Easter Sunday morning Mass were actually not Catholic, that is they actually were a couple of families worth of non-catholic visitors attending for the rather large Easter First Communion of a couple of kids who are Catholic. That kind of behaviour is perfectly normal for unchurched secular modernist “none’s” who have no clue about appropriate behaviour in a church or place of worship. This morning the reverence and quiet returned together with the more normal behaviour of the congregation absent the unchurched sports bar crowd.

For the remainder, the regulars, the remnant, the Truth of our faith is that The Lord Jesus, on the night before he suffered on the cross, shared one last meal with his disciples. During this meal our Savior instituted the sacrament of his Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the ages and to entrust to the Church his Spouse a memorial of his death and resurrection. As the Gospel of Matthew tells us:

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt 26:26-28; cf. Mk 14:22-24, Lk 22:17-20, 1 Cor 11:23-25)

The Last Supper, Da Vinci, 1495-1498, oil/tempera on plaster, in the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.

The words that Jesus used during the Last Supper about the unleavened bread and the cup echo what He had said after He fed the 5,000: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty…I am the living bread that came down from heaven.

Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world…Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For My flesh is real food and My blood is real drink” (John 6:35; 51; 54-55).

Da Vinci’s “last Supper” masterpiece (image above right) was commissioned by Duke Ludovico Sforza for the refectory of the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. I am quoting much of the following from an interesting web site about the Italian Rennaisance.The scene we see comes from the Gospel accounts on the night before Christ’s Passion and Death when Christ and the apostles are together in a room for supper. We are watching them at a point in the “Supper” narrative after which Christ has made a great revelation to the apostles that one of them will betray Christ (“One of you is about to betray me”, Matthew 26:21 ).

He is, of course, referring to Judas, but at this point in the Gospel there is a great outburst of emotion as all the apostles want to know who the betrayer is. We can see this emotion in the various apostles, who are linked by their hand movements. Emotions range from protest (Philip, #8) to sadness (John, next to Christ) to acceptance (Christ).

Judas, 3rd on the left from Christ is, however, shadowed and turned towards Christ so that we only see part of his face while he clutches his money bag, presumably containing the 30 silver pieces. At the time this was painted, Judas was normally arranged across the table from the other apostles in Last Supper depictions, but here he is depicted in the same grouping as John and Peter.

All of these figures would go on to play prominent roles in the Passion of Christ (Judas in the betrayal, Peter with his denials, and John who remains with Christ at the cross)“. But the point I am trying to emphasize here is that this is the evening when Christ Himself gave us His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, the “Real Presence” living with us in every tabernacle in Christendom.

Sacro cuore di Jesù (“Sacred Heart of Jesus”), Pompeo Batoni, painting on the altar in the northern side chapel of Il Gesù in Rome, 1767

So we believe that Salvation comes through Christ and the sacrifice of His physical body on the cross. Recalling the words of Jesus, the Catholic Church professes that, in the celebration of the Eucharist, bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and the instrumentality of the priest.

The whole Christ is truly present, body, blood, soul, and divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine—the glorified Christ who rose from the dead after dying for our sins.

This is what the Church means when she speaks of the “Real Presence” of Christ in the Eucharist. The real presence of the Creator of the Universe and everything in it including us, and who keeps us in existence moment by moment because He wills it. And we ignore this at our peril.

Jesus said: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. . . . For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:51-55). This presence of Christ in the Eucharist is called “real” not to exclude other types of his presence as if they could not be understood as real (cf. Catechism, no. 1374).

The risen Christ is present to his Church in many ways, but most especially through the sacrament of his Body and Blood. The important point here is that GOD in the person of Jesus Christ, the Creator of the Universe and everything in it, is truly and actually present and residing in every Tabernacle on every Alter in the Catholic world. This belief is one of the defining understandings which makes a Catholic believer “Latin rite Catholic”.

If one does not believe this tenant then one is, by definition, not a “Catholic”. That person who does not believe in the Real Presence may be Christian, they may even believe that they are indeed Catholic, but they are not a Catholic Christian. They are, at best, an ecumenical “smorgasbord” catholic in the same way that a member of the Anglican communion are catholic.

So what if one’s church turns into a spiritual “Sunday Smorg” similar in intent to the ubiquitous Sunday “Chinese Smorg” found in many small Alberta towns. What is one to do if one discovers that their particular church is drifting away from “revealed truth” into some sort of modernist quasi-spirituality arrived at by means of a popularity contest amongst competing “personal” truths?

This is an important question to some of us.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sheds more light on this mystery thus:

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What does it mean that Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist under the appearances of bread and wine? How does this happen? The presence of the risen Christ in the Eucharist is an inexhaustible mystery that the Church can never fully explain in words. We must remember that the triune God is the creator of all that exists and has the power to do more than we can possibly imagine.

USCCB headquarters in Washington April 28, 2011. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec) (April 28, 2011)

As St. Ambrose said: “If the word of the Lord Jesus is so powerful as to bring into existence things which were not, then a fortiori those things which already exist can be changed into something else” ( De Sacramentis, IV, 5-16). God created the world, in time, in order to share his life with persons who are not God. This great plan of salvation reveals a wisdom that surpasses our understanding.

But we are not left in ignorance: for out of his love for us, God reveals his truth to us in ways that we can understand through the gift of faith and the grace of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. We are thus enabled to understand at least in some measure what would otherwise remain unknown to us, though we can never completely comprehend the mystery of God.

As successors of the Apostles and teachers of the Church, the bishops have the duty to hand on what God has revealed to us and to encourage all members of the Church to deepen their understanding of the mystery and gift of the Eucharist. In order to foster such a deepening of faith, we have prepared this text to respond to fifteen questions that commonly arise with regard to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

We offer this text to pastors and religious educators to assist them in their teaching responsibilities. We recognize that some of these questions involve rather complex theological ideas. It is our hope, however, that study and discussion of the text will aid many of the Catholic faithful in our country to enrich their understanding of this mystery of the faith.”

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And there are, in fact, other “Catholic” churches, other rites in communion with the Latin rite.

Because we believe in “one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church,” some might object, “There is only one Church, so how can we speak of many ‘Churches?'” It’s helpful to consider an analogy used by the Church Fathers: While there are three distinct Persons who share the One Divine Essence, there are likewise many autonomous individual Churches that make up the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church. As it is with the Triune Godhead, we must be careful not to blur true and important distinctions of the individuals in order to emphasize their unity.

Eastern Catholic Churches, 2019

When Christ founded His Church, He commissioned the apostles to go out into the world to preach and baptize. Most Catholics are familiar with the founding of the see of Rome by Peter.

The primacy of that Church was sealed with the blood of Peter and Paul, and the succession of bishops continues to the present day. What many do not know is that the other apostles themselves founded churches, and that their own successions of bishops continue as well.

As presently defined, there are 24 Catholic Churches that can be grouped into eight different rites. A rite is a liturgical, theological, spiritual, and disciplinary patrimony of a distinct people manifested in a Church.

While each Catholic Church may have its own rite or customs, in general, there are only eight major rites. History, language, misunderstandings, nationalism, and basic human weakness have resulted in the current communion of 24 Churches. And then there are additional sources of orthodoxy in the form of  Prelatures, Ordinariates, and so on in which licit Masses and Sacraments can be found.

So, if one’s own particular church falls into unbelief and heresy either by active denial of a critical truth, or by passive denial in the manner of their lack of affirmation of support of said truths;  by their conduct against  or lack of conduct in support of a critical belief, are there then any other rites readily available to us and are they a viable alternative path in order to fulfill our obligations?

More to follow as I feel moved …

Cheers

Joe

… the dream time …

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Last Sunday …Easter Sunday & The Octave of Easter …

“Crux Fidelis”, Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, from the album “Lent at Ephesus”, (2014)

Notre Dame de Paris … not the only fire in the Catholic Church. The uncontrolled flames of the “Modernism” heresy seem to have gutted her.

A week ago, on Easter Sunday morning, at Mass in my parish church, the MOST important Mass in the entire liturgical year, I had an epiphany.

Now, to be clear, my understanding of “epiphany” is: “derived from the Greek word epiphaneia, epiphany means “appearance,” or “manifestation.”

In literary terms, an epiphany is that moment in the story where a character achieves realization, awareness, or a feeling of knowledge, after which events are seen through the prism of this new light in the story”.

My epiphany was a sudden clarity of perception at the point when the Mass was ended and priest blessed the congregation and instructed them “Go forth the Mass is ended”. And the congregation responded “Thanks be to God”.

This would “normally” be the moment when many parishioners would kneel and pray for a while thanking God for all His blessings and benefits, and for once again coming into our lives personally.

Even more people, perhaps the majority of those present, would file out onto the steps of the church to discuss how things were going in their lives and shake hands with the priest, and generally turn things into a social occasion for chatting after Mass with people who had not been seen for a week and so on and so forth. That would be pretty normal and has been the scene after Mass in the Catholic church in Canada since I was a kid.

What actually happened, what I really noticed this time around, is that the church suddenly turned into a loud sports bar with people turning to their neighbour and shaking hands and just in the space of a breath the quiet of the Mass was completely wiped out by loud boisterous voices  yelling and talking and shouting over each other and over the Recessional music which is reasonably supposed to hint at an orderly and respectful egress from our Lord’s Presence and from the place of worship.

The Last Supper, Juan de Juanes 1523 – 1579, oil on panel (116 × 191 cm) — ca. 1560, in Museo del Prado, Madrid.

I noticed it this time probably because I was in the midst of the shouters instead of actually singing the recessional from the ambo as cantor. The parishioners didn’t even try to leave the pews and meet outside on the church steps .. they just couldn’t wait to share their “Good News”.

Everyone turned their back on the Lord in His tabernacle and ignored and profaned the most important and revered person in the universe to get on with their social gathering.

And this continued for the better part of half an hour. Everyone ignored our Lord, real and present in His tabernacle behind the alter before gradually winding down and moving on to a better venue, perhaps with beer and wings or wherever – the grocery store, Sunday dinner, whatever.

And the epiphany was that I realized that my fellow parishioners were/are not actually Catholic. These parishioners (rather obviously) do not believe in the real presence in the Blessed Sacrament.

And the more I thought about it the more I saw the truth of it. Almost no one believes in the real presence, no one believes in confession, no one believes in the importance of reverence in liturgy, no one believes in the traditions which have kept the faith alive for more than 2000 years. Our parishes have become nothing more than “Social Clubs”, much like all the Protestant parishes around us.

This is the norm in most Protestant sects, now so noticeably fragmenting and in decline across our land, but this is the first time that it hit me like a hammer blow to the heart that our nominally Roman Catholic congregations seem to share this lack of faith … they are, really, no longer “Catholic” in the most important matter of faith in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist … no longer Catholic.

Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds

Here in the early years of the 21st century the Catholic Church here in my normal modern parish is dead. This parish, perhaps this Archdiocese, perhaps the entire Canadian Catholic Church, is no longer “Catholic” by any traditional definition of “Catholic”.

So what is Joe supposed to do now? I don’t really know … I am at a loss and the ideas are not coming freely at this point.  So let me tell a short story about Joe. Well, as gentle reader no doubt knows, this blog is Joe’s blog, so it is no surprise that a story about Joe comes up.

I will continue this in my next post, perhaps … I need to pray and think on this and perhaps consult other more level heads as to what is appropriate to discuss and what is not.

More to follow as and when I feel moved …

Cheers

Joe

… the dream time …

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

They Also Serve … The Passion of Christ … Prayer and Atonement … Election Results

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

John Milton, ca 1629

John Milton was totally blind by age 40. “When I Consider How My Light is Spent” is one of the best known of the sonnets of John Milton (d. 1674).

The last three lines (concluding with “They also serve who only stand and wait.”) are particularly well known, although rarely quoted in context.

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.

by John Milton (d. 1674). This sonnet was first published in Milton’s 1673 Poems

The Gospel of Matthew, composed between AD 80 and 90

When Milton writes “that one talent which is death to hide” he is specifically alluding to the parable of the talents in the Gospel of Matthew.

And I would add, for a modern audience who might never have heard of it … they also serve who only stand and wait … and pray.  This was assumed in the day of Milton and his culture … and pray.

So here is a prayer for Passion Week, the week leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

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O Lord of my soul, how quick we are to offend You! But how much quicker are You to forgive us! What am I saying Lord! The sorrows of death have encompassed me. Alas! What a great evil is sin, since it could put God Himself to death with such terrible sufferings! And those same sufferings surround You today, O my Lord! Where can You go that You are not tortured. Men cover You with wounds in all your members.

Christians, this is the hour to defend your King, and to keep Him company in the profound isolation in which He finds Himself. How few, O Lord, are the servants who remain faithful to You! … The worst of it is that there are some who profess to be Your friends in public, but who sell You in secret. You can scarcely find one in whom You can trust. O my God, true Friend, how badly does he repay You who betrays You!

O true Christians, come to weep with your God! It was not only over Lazarus that He shed tears of compassion, but over all those who, in spite of His call, would never rise from the dead. At that time, my Love, You saw even the sins that I would commit against You. May they be at an end, and with them, those of all sinners. Grant that these dead may come to life. May Your voice, Lord, be strong enough to give them life, even if they do not ask it of You.

Lazarus did not ask You to bring him back to life, and yet You restored life to him at the prayer of a sinner. Here is another sinner, my God, and much more culpable than she was. Let, then, Your mercy shine forth! I ask it of You in spite of my wretchedness, for those who will not ask.”

St. Teresa of Avila,  1515 – 1582

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In a recent interview, given to The Catholic Herald, Robert Cardinal Sarah said in answer to question 8:

Robert Cardinal Sarah, in 2015

“First I would like to explain why I, a son of Africa, allow myself to address the West. The Church is the guardian of civilization. I am convinced that western civilization is passing at present through a mortal crisis. It has reached the extreme of self-destructive hate. As during the fall of Rome, elites are only concerned to increase the luxury of their daily life and the peoples are being anesthetized by ever more vulgar entertainment.

As a bishop, it is my duty to warn the West! The barbarians are already inside the city. The barbarians are all those who hate human nature, all those who trample upon the sense of the sacred, all those who do not value life, all those who rebel against God the Creator of man and nature. The West is blinded by science, technology, and the thirst for riches. The lure of riches, which liberalism spreads in hearts, has sedated the peoples.

At the same time, the silent tragedy of abortion and euthanasia continue and pornography and gender ideology destroy children and adolescents. We are accustomed to barbarism. It doesn’t even surprise us anymore!

I want to raise a cry of alarm, which is also a cry of love. I do so with a heart full of filial gratitude for the Western missionaries who died in my land of Africa and who communicated to me the precious gift of faith in Jesus Christ. I want to follow their lead and receive their inheritance!

How could I not emphasize the threat posed by Islamism? Muslims despise the atheistic West. They take refuge in Islamism as a rejection of the consumer society that is offered to them as a religion.

Can the West present them the Faith in a clear way? For that it will have to rediscover its Christian roots and identity. To the countries of the third world, the West is held out as a paradise because it is ruled by commercial liberalism. This encourages the flow of migrants, so tragic for the identity of peoples. A West that denies its faith, its history, its roots, and its identity is destined for contempt, for death, and disappearance.

But I would like to point out that everything is prepared for a renewal. I see families, monasteries, and parishes that are like oases in the middle of a desert. It is from these oases of faith, liturgy, beauty, and silence that the West will be reborn.

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…I am prolonging the time of mercy for the sake of [sinners]… Speak to the world about My mercy; let all mankind recognize My unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of justice. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fount of My mercy; let them profit from the Blood and Water which gushed forth for them..Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, Jesus to St. Faustina, n. 1160, 848

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And finally, for a criminally low price of 99 cents U.S. on Kindle, we have a treasure like unto “The Pearl of Great Price”. We have Daniel O’Connor, in his new book The Crown of Sanctity: On the Revelations of Jesus to Luisa Piccarreta

“In His revelations to Luisa, Jesus goes so far as to say that it is the enemies of the Church who are necessary in order to purge and purify her. It is difficult to think of stronger words; but it’s becoming increasingly impossible to ignore them. Today, it is sadly the Church’s enemies—Godless, secular people who have long hated her—who are doing what the Bishops should have done long ago: dealing with the sin of sexual abuse as strongly as it should be dealt with and exposing the perpetrators.

In this passage, Jesus prophesies today’s crisis to Luisa 100 years before it began; although He does not explicitly refer to the crisis as involving sexual abuse, I think it is safe to say that this is one of the major things (if not the major thing) He intended when He said to Luisa: I was praying blessed Jesus to confound the enemies of the Church, and my always lovable Jesus, in coming, told me:

“My daughter, I could confound the enemies of the Holy Church, but I don’t want to. If I did so, who would purge my Church? The members of the Church, and especially those who occupy positions and heights of dignity, have their eyes dazzled, and they blunder a great deal, reaching the point of protecting the false virtuous and oppressing and condemning the true good.

This grieves Me so much—to see those few true children of mine under the weight of injustice; those children from whom my Church must rise again and to whom I am giving much grace to dispose them to this… I see them placed with their backs to the wall, and bound to prevent their step. This grieves Me so much, that I feel I am all fury for their sake!

Listen my daughter, I am all sweetness, benign, clement and merciful; so much so, that because of my sweetness I enrapture hearts. But I am also strong, as to be able to crush and reduce to ashes those who not only oppress the good, but reach the point of preventing the good which they want to do. Ah! you cry over the secular, and I cry over the painful wounds which are in the body of the Church.

These grieve Me so much as to surpass the wounds of the secular, because they come from the side from which I did not expect it, and induce Me to make the secular rail against them.”[785] Here, Jesus says clearly what it has taken until now for the boldest of voices in the Church to acknowledge: The enemies of the Church, paradoxically, have now proven necessary for the Church in order to purge it. For the leaders of the Church—the Bishops—go so far as to “protect the false virtuous” (predator priests) and “condemn the true good” (traditional, orthodox-minded priests).

Daniel O’Connor, “The Crown of Sanctity: On the Revelations of Jesus to Luisa Piccarreta (p. 296).”

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Well, I gotta check the election results, cause I wouldn’t be a good little neanderthal knuckle-dragger if I went to bed without looking it up. I guess that is just about enough for now so I will say goodnight and “Hasta la vista, baby”.

Cheers

Joe

Good news tonight here in our little Rohan of the North.

The people have spoken, and the Now Word is “GOODBYE NDP”.

Does anyone remember de-Nazification?

Its time to Scour the Shire, and Jason Kenney is making noises about turning off the taps to the East and the West Coast. We can always pray.

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Here We Stand … Hae nobis propriae sedes

“Waiting On The Night To Fall”, by “Casting Crowns”, from the album “Thrive” (2014)

Yes indeed … waiting on the night to fall … and it is falling, isn’t it?  I have a small selection of Web blogs which I read regularly, at least weekly and I am going to share links here because I have found these writers helpful in my own quest … expressing other insights into the same questions and helping me avoid “scope creep” in my own quest.

Letter of Most Reverend Mark A. Hagemoen, April 17th, 2018

Letter of Most Reverend Mark A. Hagemoen, April 17th, 2018

The first one (on the list that is, not necessarily in importance) is the Canadian blogger Mark Mallett and his blog “The Now Word, Reflections on Our Times”.   Mark Mallett, a one time TV reporter, is a Roman Catholic singer/songwriter and missionary. He has performed and preached throughout North America and abroad.

The messages posted on Mark’s website are the fruit of prayer and ministry. Mark is very current and he doesn’t pull any punches, but his views are charitable and restrained with respect to the human players. He sets my bar when it comes to “Fraternal Charity” and I often write something in my own posts and then after reading what Mark has to say I edit or rewrite what I have written about the event in question.

Any postings on Mark’s site which contain elements of “private revelation” have been subjected to the discernment of Mark’s spiritual director. I included a letter from his Bishop (image on the right) which he posted on his blog-site on the “about Mark” page.  For a recent example of his work, Mark writes on Robert Cardinal Sarah’s interview with The Catholic Herald:

CARDINAL Sarah has given a stunning, perceptive and prescient interview in the Catholic Herald today. It not only repeats “the now word” in terms of the warning that I have been compelled to speak for over a decade, but most especially and importantly, the solutions. Here are some of the key thoughts from Cardinal Sarah’s interview along with links for new readers to some of my writings that parallel and expand his observations”.

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Father John HunwickThe second Blog-site which I follow regularly is that of the British blogger Fr. John Hunwicke, titled Fr. Hunwicke’s Mutual Enrichment”   Father Hunwicke was for nearly three decades at Lancing College; where he taught Latin and Greek language and literature, was Head of Theology, and Assistant Chaplain. He has served three curacies, been a Parish Priest, and Senior Research Fellow at Pusey House in Oxford. Since 2011, he has been in full communion with the See of S Peter.

Fr. Hunwicke asserts: The opinions expressed on this Blog are not asserted as being those of the Magisterium of the Church, but as the writer’s opinions as a private individual. Nevertheless, the writer strives, hopes, and prays that the views he expresses are conformable with and supportive of the Magisterium. In this blog, the letters PF stand for Pope Francis. On this blog, ‘Argumentum ad hominem’ refers solely to the Lockean definition, “Pressing a man with the consequences of his own concessions“.

Fr. John has a deep (and sometimes obscure) interest and expertise in “old” liturgical rites and prayers, pre-Vatican II Catholic and Anglican liturgical practices and also a very current and even humourous eye for the goings on in the “modern Roman Curia, The Church of England Hierarchy, and the Catholic and Anglican church at large”.  I appreciate greatly his restraint, and at the same time his dry humour, irony and even satirical observations. He helps me to stay focused, restrained, and to practice “fraternal charity”, when confronted with some of the more egregious “missteps” of our current batch of Curial managers in Rome and in the rest of the Catholic world.

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Third, there is the American blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, writing at “Fr. Z’s Blog“, formerly entitled: “What Does The Prayer Really Say?” – Clear, straight commentary on Catholic issues, liturgy and life by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf o{]:¬)    In Fr. Z’s own words: “This blog is like a fusion of the Baroque ‘salon’ with its well-tuned harpsichord around which polite society gathered for entertainment and edification and, on the other hand, a Wild West “saloon” with its out-of-tune piano and swinging doors, where everyone has a gun and something to say. Nevertheless, we try to point our discussions back to what it is to be Catholic in this increasingly difficult age, to love God, and how to get to heaven.” – Fr. Z

I don’t really have any images for Fr. Z. so I guess I will just include an excerpt from a recent post “The Internet Prayer” which I enjoyed:  “… Meanwhile, here is the English (version).  A prayer before logging onto the internet:

Almighty and eternal God, who created us in Thine image and bade us to seek after all that is good, true and beautiful, especially in the divine person of Thine Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, that, through the intercession of Saint Isidore, Bishop and Doctor, during our journeys through the internet we will direct our hands and eyes only to that which is pleasing to Thee and treat with charity and patience all those souls whom we encounter. Through Christ our Lord.   Amen.

(and) Finally, I’m still waiting for an improved version in Klingon.”

And just for good measure another post on cooking and “traditional” recipes:  “Lately, Sundays have found me in the kitchen making something interesting… to me, at least. 

Yesterday I had a hankerin’ for Ragù alla bolognese.  When I say “ragù” I don’t mean something in a jar!  Ragù alla bolognese is a classic from one of the truly amazing foodie regions of Italy – and that’s saying a lot – Emilia-Romagna and, so they say, Bologna in particular. 

The denizens of Bologna, as a matter of fact, have codified the “official” recipe via their chamber of commerce.   You can use this ragù (French ragoût from ragoûter… “revive flavor”) directly on various shapes of pasta or as a layer with lasagne.   Broad, flat noodles, such as tagliatelle and pappardelle are great.  I used the latter, dried.  I was a too lazy to make fresh. This sauce is easy to make, but you need patience and time.”

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

David Warren

Fourth and last, for today, but by no means least, is the Canadian blogger David Warren. He posts 4 or 5 times a week, a slightly less charitable view of the world than the above three, but no less elegant in his own way.

Because David is closer to my heart, I actually have his site as my default Home Page on my browser so the first thing I see each day when I log on is whatever new words of wisdom and repartee David has seen fit to share with the world.

Irony and Satire figure in many of his posts both on his own site at “Essays in Idleness, but also he aims for a broader audience with his occasional op ed pieces on “The Catholic Thing“. There are many other writers of worthy articles in the archives at “The Catholic Thing”.

Back in 2015, over at David Warren’s site Essays in Idleness we found “Hae nobis propriae sedes” Virgil, Aeneid 3 147-149,  in English I think it is something like “This Will Be Our Proper Place“, according to Google Translate, but I’m no scholar so I may have missed the mark on that. Anyway, David is a beautiful writer and I enjoy his insight. Here is an old post in full from October 2015, or better yet, just go and read his stuff at his own site, it would certainly be worth one’s time.

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Hae nobis propriae sedes

If the Viking priests from the age of the Orkneyinga Saga Orkneyinga Saga(composed eight centuries ago, about matters through centuries before it), returned suddenly to their old haunt on Papa Stronsay, they would have lively conversation with the current inhabitants. As they could not speak English, nor these new monks Old Norse, the chatter would be in Latin. The Mass they would celebrate together would also be in Latin, of course, and the Vikings would have no difficulty in following it. For it was their Mass, too.

The gentle reader who does not already know about the Transalpine Redemptorist presence in Orkney may inform himself (here, and perhaps also, here). For it is more than the “romantic story,” of a genuinely counter-cultural adventure. In some sense one might say that the living centre of the Catholic Church is now more on that bleak, and beautiful island of Papa Stronsay, than in the heart of today’s pagan Rome. This seems especially so in light of the recent Synod; as to me, after reading the current pope’s latest remarks at the conclusion of it — full of his characteristic slights and insults towards traditional practitioners of the Catholic faith.

I know that many faithful are hurting, or quite understandably angry; that they feel violated and betrayed. That is why I am writing like this, reminding that Christ will bind wounds; that He will not betray us. Christ goes where He is wanted, and under present circumstances that is far, far away, “to the peripheries” — or rather, let us cut the cheap sociological blather and say, “to the ends of the Earth.” He is in love with the bright-eyed peoples of Africa; and with those suffering under murderous tyrannies in Asia and the Middle East. By contrast in Europe, and here in the Americas, in our life of fat and consumption, we now have little use for Him; and so He leaves us to find our own way, progressively, downward.

Yet in many rural and remote places, and even sometimes in little neighbourhoods within the huge, fraught cities of these once-Christian realms, His Church is flourishing. The numbers may be tiny in proportion to the general population, but wherever that old Latin Mass is sung, there are vocations, and there is revival. Where it is not, the Church is dying out; and yet here, too, where the Mass of the Ages, and through it the teaching of the ages, is no longer made available, individual novus-ordo Christians still wait and humbly pray for relief.

Christ is there, forever in the Eucharist; and wherever it is taken by the shriven with real faith and the childlike understanding, the power of the Redemption is felt. (And where it is taken by appropriation, unworthily “by right,” the power of Judgement is visited instead.) He is present in the sincerity of all private prayer and petitions, extending from that Mass, and every good and virtuous deed, done in the communion of the Saints. Christ is crucified, dead, and risen; He is alive. Try as they will, His detractors will ever fail to kill Him.

This is simply how things are, and how they always were and will be. Within every cell of the true Church is the relation between that small Christian soul, and this Tremendous Lover. (See here.)

We have often before been abandoned by priests and bishops, with their own private agendas, or strutting their fake “humility” for the adulation of crowds. We have had bad popes; we have had every sin of which men are capable, done in sacred places. This is the world, and this is what men are: fallen. Let them seek forgiveness, and pick themselves up; do what they can to rectify the damage they have caused, the pain they have gratuitously inflicted. Let them open their eyes before Our Lord closes them forever. It makes no sense to choose the road to Hell.

There is nothing new under the Sun, and I see that Saint Peter Damian’s Liber Gommorrhianus, or “Book of Gomorrah,” from ten centuries ago, is once again circulating, in English translation. (Can be ordered here.) It is from another age, when clerical corruption, including rampant sodomy and pederasty, was threatening the integrity of holy orders. Damian was an ascetic, at home in the remote Italian hills, but as I recall from a previous translation of this book, he can be unpleasantly modern in his forensic descriptions of what priests and monks descend to, when they become depraved.

He turns, with a form of mercy that is excoriating, upon the most common crime: then as now, the satanic tampering with adolescent boys. He provides, too, the context for this corruption, through cross-allusion to simony and careerist self-advancement (his Liber Gommorrhianus ought ideally to be read alongside his Liber Gratissimus) — directing fearless, full-bore attacks on the princes of the Church who make themselves comfortable, and hide the crimes. The book made its author extremely unpopular, and the defence of him, by Pope Leo IX, though brave at first, became increasingly lukewarm. But the scandals it exposed were quietly acknowledged and gradually addressed. The shame that this saint had helped to reawaken slowly triumphed over the filth of this eleventh-century liberalism.

This is not the whole story of Petrus Damiani, some of whose miscellaneous writings on the spiritual and contemplative life are also known to me through the excellent translations of Patricia McNulty (1959, here). These are precious, very positive works, curiously contemporary with that saga of conversion in the northern wilds. This lonely Benedictine would likewise be at home with those monks on Papa Stronsay, so far away from him in space and time.

It was beloved Benedict XVI, incidentally, who through his motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, brought the Transalpine Redemptorists back into full communion with Holy Church. They were a product of the SSPX reaction against the liberal innovations that followed from Vatican II, and the account of their relations with Rome is complex and often vexed. So it must be in a generation when the Vatican bureaucracy is more easily alarmed and scandalized by the persistently faithful, than by the faithless and glib. But that generation is already passing into ashes.

Our task is to keep our moorings in the true and unchanging Magisterium, clinging, as it were, “to our guns and our Bibles,” or to distant treeless islands as the case may be. For wherever Christ is — however cold, windy, and wet — we are at home in the breast of Our Saviour.”

*****

Cheers

Joe

I think it’s almost time to eat … fasting makes “EVERYTHING” taste so good.

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

The Four Freedoms … Responsibility and Ownership.

“River Flows In You”, Yiruma, from the album “Yiruma Piano Collection” , (2001)

So, my resolution after my  last post was, going forward, to avoid pointing fingers, avoid divisiveness, and avoid setting up others as the bad guy, the enemy, the Strawman supporting MY argument. To strive to avoid badmouthing and criticizing and pointing out the faults and failings of others in ways that pump up my own pride and ego.

In the words of my Grandfather … “Joe, if you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything at all.” To which my young self would usually reply … “But then there would not be much to say.” To which my Grandfather would then inevitably reply “That would be a nice change.” And Dad would laugh. Funny thing, the little vignettes which one ends up remembering out of all the adventures of one’s childhood.

I have repeatedly referred to GOD’s will in pointing out where many of my thoughts and my personal narrative stray from the will of GOD. And I have strayed a lot, usually in the same ways and about the same things, a kind of personal repertoire of sin. Knowing that an action or a thought is not in conformity with GOD’s will, I still fall into these habits and same old internal dialogue. Isn’t it about time to actually make a serious effort to stop.

So, going forward I resolve to work at “Living in the Divine Will”. What is the Divine Will and how do I conform my entire life to the Divine Will?  GOD has given me a template and a set of instructions and they are really pretty simple, ten basic Commandments. The Scriptures, and the Magisterium of the Church flesh out the details. And we have it from Scripture, the most important Commandment:

27And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. 28And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” (Luke 10:27-28)

Now going forward I aim to look at what is good about what I see around me, even if that “good” is merely the absence of a more evil “bad”.  I want to take a look at the “Idols” of my personal world view … those things and persons and ideas which I have “worshipped” as ends in and of themselves, without GOD entering into the picture. I aim to try to illustrate how I can easily go astray whenever I lose sight of the fact that “All Good is Gift”.

So first, some Idols …  mostly things and a few people who I have thought to be “Just Awesome” and by their worship cementing the “superiority” of my ego in the firmament of my personal pantheon, all backed up by “facts” with which I can “Prove” that my judgements are correct and therefore not sinful. The First Idol … beautiful technology …  Ooooh, Aaaaah

150625-N-SN160-356 EVANSVILLE, Ind. (Jun, 25, 2015) The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, join their signature Delta formation with the Canadian Air Demonstration Squadron, the Snowbirds, for a photo shoot over Evansville, Ind. The Blue Angels are scheduled to perform at 68 demonstrations at 35 locations across the U.S. in 2015. (U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Lindsey/Released)

150625-N-SN160-356
The Idol of beautiful Technology:  EVANSVILLE, Ind. (Jun, 25, 2015) The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, join with the Canadian Air Demonstration Squadron, the Snowbirds, for a photo shoot over Evansville, Ind.  (U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Lindsey/Released)

And what about the International Space Station, over 20 years old  now and still ticking amidst all the usual controversy and budget wars and disputes between the players. I linked to the Canadian Government Site where we can see the entire space program as one big photo op.

ISS at 20 …

And then all the rest of the “Goods”… trains, and planes, and automobiles, and toilets and sewers, and water systems, and cell phones, and stoves and refrigeration, and microwaves, and furnaces, and the internet, and supermarkets with every kind of food imaginable, good and bad, available in all seasons, 365 days a year and 24/7 in some places, and coffee shops, and bakeries and cake shops, and wine stores, and swipe cards and financial payment networks.

And the communications and transportation networks that make that all possible, and all the fuel to run the electrical generators, and the electrical grid so the lights and our large screen LCD TV’s all come on whenever we want them.

Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute

And fuel for the furnaces and to fire the engines, and fuel the planes, and fly us to our annual holidays in our favorite resort,  and last but not least in this litany a great medical/health system standing by to give everyone with a health problem free health care services.

The truth is that all this “stuff” is a tribute to courage, will power, determination, grit, hard work and sheer brain power, there is just so much good stuff, and these great things make us feel proud of ourselves when we take the time to think about it all, and all of these great things in some way become Idols. We did this … we must be great.

“Eternity’s Sunrise”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Eternity’s Sunrise”, (2000)

Canada’s budget for the Space Program is about 260 million a year and falling. It’s really a question of balancing optics and priorities, and cutbacks, and needing to make savings in one area because of uncontrollable growth in other areas.

And Canada’s budget for Health Care in 2018 was … who knows, we are always way over budget … but we do know that total health expenditures in 2018 in Canada reached $253.5 billion, or $6,839 per per man woman and child in Canada. In 2018  overall health spending reached 11.3% of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP). This s the biggest Idol in Canada. This is the Idol we all worship and sacrifice to, and sometimes it pays off and the gods give us a blessing, like my own recent surgery on my broken ankle.

It’s a question of optics and priorities. and “Free” Health Care is a huge vote magnet. And a 2 income family of 5 is paying $34,195.00 a year in taxes for “free” healthcare. And I and my wife (2 incomes) have been paying into this “free” system for about 45 years now, every year, year after year. There ain’t no free lunch, this is our sacrifice to our Idols.

The problem is that true “Freedoms” come with “Responsibilities”, and that is not the the same as “Rights”.

Free Republic of Albertastan

Back in ancient times, about 20 years ago, back before the Communists overthrew the government here and set up their little experiment in Social Equality, I and my optimistic friends used to entertain pleasant fantasies about a new kind of country.

We dreamed about setting up an independent Republic of Albertastan,  a kind of little Rohan of the west nestled under the looming Rockies, lots of open space for training and adventure, lots of internationally valuable resources, and with easily defended borders where everyone is welcome.  BUT the iron clad criteria for citizenship are:

#1: Prima Fascia evidence of real life Service and Sacrifice (eg. multi-tour military service with honourable discharge or equivalent non military service – equivalency to be determined by a panel of expert “citizens” and no one else)

#2: The criterion for eligibility for candidacy for political service is “citizenship” (see #1) and candidate acceptability determined on a scale relating brain power and willingness to work and accept basic subsidiarity and accountability in a hierarchy (no free rides ’cause you’re smart and/or good looking and/or related to someone and/or are a political hack, and so on and so forth). Wanting the position is an automatic fail. Only one position, one term,  per person, per lifetime. No exceptions.

#3: No person regardless of sex, creed, parentage, wealth, or belief system gets an exemption for any reason from #1 and #2. No person covered in #3 gets any say whatsoever in how the republic is run or what kind of programs are offered. Folks covered by #3 get normal respect for human life and dignity, as normal human beings, and as they have been recognized for, Oh … several thousand years … Natural Law is the foundation of civil law in this republic.

Those were the rules, the constitution as it were, of the Free Republic of Albertastan … real simple, easy to remember, and no exceptions, and everyone is welcome.

Albertastan Border Patrol

Any one who finds they don’t like this setup, or objects to any of the above or decides he or she or it demands his or her or it’s special “rights” and “privileges” will be given an escorted free ride to the nearest border crossing, 1 Gallon of water, a hamburger, and a map showing how to get to the nearest “other” place.

They would also be given a solid understanding that if they are still in sight in an hour they will be paint balled until they are out of site.  Well, it was a rather juvenile fantasy after all, but that didn’t mean that we were not proud of ourselves for “thinking” this all out … simple answers for simple people.

And we didn’t ever take into account the large Federal military presence, all under Liberal control of course as it was when we all served back in the 70’s. We just thought of them as our “little brothers”.

Freedom of Speech

But, the goal of setting up the Free Republic of Albertastan, the thought behind the dream, was in order to guarantee to all the inhabitants of Albertastan “The Four Freedoms”.

At that time we were concerned about the erosion of the Freedoms under the national and provincial government of the day, and all of us remembered the 80’s very well.

The four freedoms refer to President Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s January 1941 Four Freedoms State of the Union address in which he identified essential human rights that should be universally protected, and Roosevelt proposed that the government would do it for us.

Freedom of Worship

The Four Freedoms images are a series of four 1943 oil paintings by the American artist Norman Rockwell. The paintings—Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear—are each approximately 45.75 inches (116.2 cm) × 35.5 inches (90 cm), and are now in the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Wikipedia tells us: “Throughout his political career Roosevelt championed the cause of human rights.[6] In his annual State of the Union address to Congress of January 6, 1941, which was delivered at a time when Nazi Germany occupied much of Western Europe,[15] he asked the American citizens to support war efforts in various ways.

He stated his vision of a better future, founded upon four freedoms: “In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms,”[2][16] some traditional and some new ones: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

Freedom From Want

That was then, this is now. Most people have no memory of WWII, or the Nazis or the evils of statism.  Heck, most people have already forgotten 9/11. Many people seem to think that “Nazi” is what you call someone who disagrees with you on Twitter. Public memory is short and folks are mostly content and concerned with their immediate needs and wants. But there is a background undercurrent of change in our culture.

As a society we have already, mostly willingly, ceded Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Worship to the control of government and social media, that “erosion” we were worried about in our Albertastan fantasy. We no longer are willing to go to the line for someone else’s right to their point of view or their choice of world view. We seem to want more and more to shut down dissent.

We are still doing pretty good in the “Freedom From Want” category. We Nord-Americanos are doing pretty much better than most of the rest of the world when it comes to want. I think the next thing to erode will be Freedom From Fear, as a result of the loss of the first two freedoms over the last two decades.

Freedom From Fear

But the truth about all of this is that all these things we think we treasure are really Idols. None of them matter when looking at eternity. I mean they ARE nice and highly desirable, ideals even, but not as an end in and of themselves, except perhaps Freedom To Worship, but even that, when denied brings eternity into a much sharper focus, as we perhaps are witnessing in the underground Catholic Church in China. Maybe Faith benefits from some persecution.

What does it matter in eternity? So what does a country boy see out there in the “REAL” world? What are the “world problems” that I think might affect myself, my family and my life here in rural flyover country, what gets on the radar?

I am thinking about peace and conflict, and how I choose to drink at springs of peace or springs of conflict. After the data dump of calm emotion over the last couple of weeks, about observed events, I am thinking that I chose to observe and judge, and attribute, courtesy of lots of folks with nothing to do but emote about what is wrong in their life  and “create content”. Well guess what? I am doing the same damned thing.

Am I one of those “emoticons in suits”? Well, maybe an emoticon in Levis, and pretty thread bare Levis at that. No suits around here any more – that was all in a previous life, long, long ago. Don’t even have a tie anymore.

It’s 06:48 now and the sun is coming up on a cool dawn. With quiet time for second thought, the truth is, there are not really any problems anywhere which directly affect my immediate life … my “real” world is full of beauty, and peace, waiting for room in my soul … if I make the time and make the room to just let it in, if I don’t fill it up with other stuff.

So, I pray for “Purity of Heart”, that purity that goes beyond simple passions and pleasures. Speaking of purity here I am intending to evoke the purity which not only implies an absence of sin but goes much further to invoke the absence of all earthly affections. And I begin the quest to “Live in the Divine Will”.

I think I have quoted St. Bernard somewhere in a past posts like this: “Quid hoc ad aeternitatem,” as old Saint Bernard of Clairvaux used to mumble when faced with the usual parade of travail, what does it matter in the light of eternity?

Cheers

Joe

I hear the snakes are back in Ireland … hmmm

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