Pen as Sword - Social Commentary, The Inner Struggle

Amoris Laetitia and the spread of a moral heresy …

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

So, it is Sunday morning again, and as usual on Sunday mornings my thoughts turn to our one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. Like all organizations or institutions involving human beings, our church has not been without it’s share of serious controversies and problems over the last two thousand years.

It is noteworthy, however, that it is the ONLY institution in existence today which has actually survived ALL of these controversies and problems over the course of the last two millennia and continues to this day – and so do the problems and controversies. It’s as if this unique institution enjoys Divine protection because it is not actually a human institution.

Anyway …

This is a “Catholic” post. This article references or is lifted mostly from Fr. Z’s blog. It is something of interest to Catholics especially but also to non-Catholics who may be interested in the shenanigans  currently eventuating in the Roman Catholic curia and the senior reaches of the Catholic Church administration. I post the whole thing here in its entirety because of the importance of the information and one can visit the original at Fr. Z’s Blog.

For those with a taste for history it should be noted that this modern “Liberal Progressive” vs “Conservative Traditionalist” civil war within the Roman Catholic Church has been ongoing at least since Vatican II in the 60’s and was most evidenced in Canada by the notorious “Winnipeg Declaration” or the “Winnipeg Statement of the Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops.

The Winnipeg Statement was the Canadian Bishops statement on the encyclical Humanae vitae from a Plenary Assembly held at Saint Boniface in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Published on September 27, 1968, it is the Canadian Bishop’s controversial document about Pope Paul VI‘s July 1968 encyclical on human life and the regulation of birth.[1]

A case might be made that subsequently the Canadian Catholic Church was in de-facto schism from Rome to the extent that even things as basically Catholic as the Canadian Liturgy and the Canadian Missal was not approved by Rome, that is, they had no imprimatur and that the Canadian Bishops basically thumbed their noses at Rome at that time and for several decades thereafter.

A very interesting take on this period can be found at Mark Mallett’s blog site “https://www.markmallett.com/blog/2016/01/29/a-tale-of-five-popes-and-a-great-ship/

Anyway, on with Fr. Aidan Nichols …

Aidan Nichols

Picture taken in Cambridge at Palmsunday 2014, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40226603

Fr Aidan Nichols, OP, (OP – Order of Preachers – Dominicans – Their identification as Dominicans gave rise to the pun that they were the “Domini canes”, or “Hounds of the Lord”) is without doubt the most considerable living theologian of the English-speaking Catholic World.

And he is as prolific a theological writer as Joseph Ratzinger (on whose theology he wrote a still normative guide, long before the election of Benedict XVI).

Now Fr Aidan has delivered a characteristic lecture on the crisis which has been precipitated by Amoris laetitia.

I can’t find the full text on the internet (yet), but the Catholic Herald gives a report. And Fr Zed reproduces the Catholic Herald report. I urge everybody (Catholics at least) to read it; and to take it very seriously.

*****

When Fr. Aidan Nichols, OP, has an opinion, it’s a good idea to pay attention.

Fr. Nichols is concerned about what is happening because of Amoris laetitia.

From the Catholic Herald:

Leading theologian: change canon law to correct papal errors

Fr Aidan Nichols, a prolific author who has lectured at Oxford and Cambridge as well as the Angelicum in Rome, said that Pope Francis’s exhortation Amoris Laetitia had led to an “extremely grave” situation.

Fr Nichols proposed that, given the Pope’s statements on issues including marriage and the moral law, the Church may need “a procedure for calling to order a pope who teaches error”.

The Dominican theologian said that this procedure might be less “conflictual” if it took place during a future pontificate, rather as Pope Honorius was only condemned for error after he had ceased to occupy the chair of Peter.

[Honoris (+638), desiring to avoid the notion that Christ had two wills in conflict with each other, strayed towards the heresy of Monothelitism, the error that Christ has but one will. Constantinople III condemned him in 680. That said, later it has been concluded that the Pope didn’t formally teach error.]

Fr Nichols was speaking at the annual conference in Cuddesdon of an ecumenical society, the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius, to a largely non-Catholic audience.  [Oh dear.]

He said the judicial process would “dissuade popes from any tendency to doctrinal waywardness or simple negligence”, and would answer some “ecumenical anxieties” of Anglicans, Orthodox and others who fear that the pope has carte blanche to impose any teaching.

“Indeed, it may be that the present crisis of the Roman magisterium is providentially intended to call attention to the limits of primacy in this regard.”[…]He has not publicly commented on Amoris Laetitia until now, but was a signatory to a leaked letter from 45 priests and theologians to the College of Cardinals. The letter asked the cardinals to request a clarification from the Pope to rule out heretical and erroneous interpretations of the exhortation.

In his paper Fr Nichols mentioned some of the same concerns as the letter: he noted, for instance, that Amoris Laetitia could seem to imply that the monastic life was not a higher state than marriage – a view condemned as heretical by the Council of Trent.

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

The exhortation has also been interpreted as arguing that the divorced and remarried can receive Communion without endeavouring to live “as brother and sister”.

This contradicts the perennial teaching of the Church, reaffirmed by Popes St John Paul II and Benedict XVI.  [Yes, it does.  AL is objectively ambiguous on this point, open to bad interpretation.]

Fr Nichols said that this interpretation, which Pope Francis has reportedly approved, would introduce into the Church “a previously unheard-of state of life. Put bluntly, this state of life is one of tolerated concubinage.” [Did you get that?  “TOLERATED CONCUBINAGE”.   Card. Kasper referred to “tolerated, but not accepted”.]

Cardinal Kasper

Cardinal Kasper

But Fr Nichols said the way in which Amoris Laetitia argued for “tolerated concubinage” (without using the phrase) was potentially even more harmful.

He quoted the exhortation’s description of a conscience which “recognizes that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the demands of the Gospel” but sees “with a certain moral security…what for now is the most generous response.”

Fr Nichols said this seemed to say “that actions condemned by the law of Christ can sometimes be morally right or even, indeed, requested by God.”  [Which undermines everything we believe about Christ.]

This would contradict the Church’s teaching that some acts are always morally wrong, Fr Nichols said. He also drew attention to the statement – presumably referring to attempts to live continently – that someone “may know full well the rule yet…be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin”.

Fr Nichols noted that the Council of Trent had solemnly condemned the idea that “the commandments of God are impossible to observe even for a man who is justified and established in grace.” Amoris Laetitia seemed to say that it is not always possible or even advisable to follow the moral law. [AL is open to bad interpretations.  And those who wanted their heterodoxy and heteropraxis confirmed have indeed chosen the bad interpretation.]

If such general statements about moral acts were correct, Fr Nichols said, “then no area of Christian morality can remain unscathed.” He said that it would be preferable to think that the Pope had been merely “negligent” in his language, rather than actively teaching error. But this seemed doubtful, given the reports that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had suggested corrections to Amoris Laetitia, and was ignored.  [Nichols seems to have built a case.]

4 Cardinals

His Eminence Walter Brandmüller, President emeritus of the Pontifical Commission of Historical Sciences, His Eminence Raymond Leo Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, His Eminence Carlo Caffarra, Archbishop emeritus of Bologna (Italy), and His Eminence Joachim Meisner, Archbishop emeritus of Cologne (Germany)

Cardinal Raymond Burke has publicly discussed making a formal correction of the Pope. However, Fr Nichols said that neither the Western nor Eastern Codes of Canon Law contain a procedure “for enquiry into the case of a pope believed to have taught doctrinal error, much less is there provision for a trial.”

Fr Nichols observed that the tradition of canon law is that “the first see is judged by no-one.” But he said that the First Vatican Council had restricted the doctrine of papal infallibility, so that “it is not the position of the Roman Catholic Church that a pope is incapable of leading people astray by false teaching as a public doctor.  [Yes, Pope’s can teach error.  The Holy Spirit doesn’t guarantee the veracity of everything they teach.]

“He may be the supreme appeal judge of Christendom… but that does not make him immune to perpetrating doctrinal howlers. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly given the piety that has surrounded the figures of the popes since the pontificate of Pius IX, this fact appears to be unknown to many who ought to know better.” [Like certain gnostic papalatrous writers at CRUX, whom I shall not name]

Given the limits on papal infallibility, canon law might be able to accommodate a formal procedure for inquiring into whether a pope had taught error. Fr Nichols said that bishops’ conferences had been slow to support Pope Francis, probably because they were divided among themselves; but he said that the Pope’s “programme would not have got as far as it has were it not the case that theological liberals, generally of the closet variety, have in the fairly recent past been appointed to high positions both in the world episcopate and in the ranks of the Roman Curia.[To our horror.]

Fr Nichols said that there was “a danger of possible schism”, but that it was unlikely and not as immediate a danger as “the spread of a moral heresy”.  The view which Amoris Laetitia apparently contains would, if it passed without correction, “increasingly be regarded as at the very least an acceptable theological opinion, and that will do more damage than can easily be repaired.

He concluded that the law of the Church will live on, because of those who “give the law life by faithfulness in love”. Yes, friends, there is now a danger of the spread of moral heresy.  You hear it and read it more and more often now. We need saints to rise up in our day.

We also need lay people, the rank and file, to put their noses collectively into books like the Catechism of the Catholic Church and get informed. Friends, get together with your friends and form “Base Communities of Resistance” against the “danger of moral heresy”.

*****

The more vigorously the primacy was displayed, the more the question came up about the extent and and limits of [papal] authority, which of course, as such, had never been considered.

After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council.

Eventually, the idea of the givenness of the liturgy, the fact that one cannot do with it what one will, faded from the public consciousness of the West.

In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope’s authority is bound to the Tradition of faith. … The authority of the pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition.”

Joseph Ratzinger
in The Spirit of the Liturgy

AND …

Raymond Card. Burke

Raymond Card. Burke

We as Catholics have not properly combated (the culture) because we have not been taught our Catholic Faith, especially in the depth needed to address these grave evils of our time. This is a failure of catechesis both of children and young people that has been going on for fifty years. It is being addressed, but it needs much more radical attention…

What has also contributed greatly to the situation is an exaltation of the virtue of tolerance which is falsely seen as the virtue which governs all other virtues. In other words, we should tolerate other people in their immoral actions to the extent that we seem also to accept the moral wrong. Tolerance is a virtue, but it is certainly not the principal virtue; the principal virtue is charity…

Charity means speaking the truth. I have encountered it (not speaking the truth) many times myself as a priest and bishop. It is something we simply need to address. There is far too much silence — people do not want to talk about it because the topic is not ‘politically correct.’ But we cannot be silent any longer.” 

Raymond Card. Burke

 

As always Catholics, Pray, Pray, Pray …

Cheers

Joe

As just another weary foot soldier in the battle of eternity, we are not promised victory in this life. This is the Long Defeat. This life is Boot Camp. We are simply called to remain faithful. Never give up, never give up, never give up.

Semper Fidelis

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** …

“Highway 61 Revisited”, Bob Dylan, from the album of the same name, (1965)

Don't Try

Don’t Try

As previously noted, every now and again I come across an outstanding post on someone else’s blog or an article in an online publication or some beautifully articulated observation or, in this case, a little book that just nails the salient observations of life, at least MY observations anyway.

Just such a book is a new release by Mark Manson, read more about Mark here. I have edited an excerpt from his new book — replacing the F bomb with “damn” — to make it presentable for all audiences – but I warn you that the F bomb and other crudities figure large in this little gem.

Having spent the better part of the 70’s in the military, and a subsequent 10 years as a Correctional Officer, and understanding that there would be little or no communication in the military or the Corrections Service without the grammatical lubrication provided by the F bomb, and knowing some guys personally who would be quite literally speechless if they could not use the F bomb, I find its use in this book hilarious but … I have a somewhat twisted sense of humor and your mileage may vary. Was that a run-on sentence?

*****

Look, this is how it works. You’re going to die one day. I know that’s kind of obvious, but I just wanted to remind you in case you’d forgotten. You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon.

Mark Manson, early 2016

Mark Manson, early 2016

And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of damns to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a damn about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get damned.

There is a subtle art to not giving a damn. And though the concept may sound ridiculous and I may sound like an idiot, what I’m talking about here is essentially learning how to focus and prioritize your thoughts effectively—how to pick and choose what matters to you and what does not matter to you based on finely honed personal values.

This is incredibly difficult. It takes a lifetime of practice and discipline to achieve. And you will regularly fail. But it is perhaps the most worthy struggle one can undertake in one’s life. It is perhaps the only struggle in one’s life.

Because when you give too many damns—when you give a damn about everyone and everything—you will feel that you’re perpetually entitled to be comfortable and happy at all times, that everything is supposed to be just exactly the damned way you want it to be.

*****

Manson, Mark. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (pp. 13-14). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

The humor of the F bomb aside, this is a concise summary of what goes wrong with our lives when we just give too many damns!

Cheers

Joe

Kananaskis     OR      Wheat harvest

We choose the kind of life we have, the sorrows, difficulties and trials we encounter by the  things we choose to give a damn about!

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The Inner Struggle

The Motive for Fraternal Charity …

“ゆりかごの歌”, William W. Spearman IV, from the album “Beautiful Japanese Songs” (2006)

*****

Presence of God — O Lord, teach me how to love You in my neighbor and to love my neighbor in You and for You.

There  are not two virtues of charity, one the love of God and the other love of neighbor; for the charity by which we love God and the neighbor is one and the same. We love God because he is infinitely lovable, and we love the neighbor because faith teaches us to recognize in him a reflection of the lovableness of God. The motive for fraternal charity is the same as the motive for loving God, as we must always love God either directly in Himself or indirectly in the neighbor. Because fraternal charity has God for its ultimate object and last end, it is identical with the theological virtue by which we love God. …

… If I love my neighbor because he is congenial, renders me service, or sympathizes with me, or because I enjoy his friendship, if I love him because of his fine qualities and pleasing manners, my love is merely human and is not the love of charity. If I am good to my neighbor and help him because I am sorry for him or feel bound to him by human ties, my love may be called sympathy or philanthropy, but it cannot yet be called charity. …

… The more my love is based on human motives alone — like congeniality, natural gifts, ties of blood — the more it is simply human love which has nothing of the merit and value of charity. “Love of neighbor is not meritorious if the neighbor is not loved because of God”. (St. Thomas) …

fromDivine Intimacy“, by Fr. Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalene, O.C.D. , Copyright 1953 Monastero S. Guiseppe – Carmelitane Scalze, (Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Rome), 2014 edition. day 258, The Motive For Fraternal Charity, pp 751 -753.

As mentioned previously, I can’t say enough good aboutDivine Intimacy“,  it is available at Baronius Press https://www.baroniuspress.com/book.php?wid=56&bid=48#tab=tab-1. Read it daily. Save your soul.

*****

So it seems to me that we need, very much need, the unlovable in our lives in order to facilitate the practice of fraternal charity. It seems to me that it is much too easy to fall into the trap of human love all un-noticed unless the loved one is of the unlovable category of folks – the difficult one, the malicious one, the unpleasant one, the narcissistic one, in other words, one can be fairly sure of the practice of charity only when the object of that charity is thoroughly unlovable.

What a drag!

Cheers

Joe

Shikamaru’s expression “What a drag.” was “めんどくさい (mendokusai)” in the original Japanese Naruto manga and anime.

Today’s quick Japanese phrase is めんどくさい (mendokusai) – “troublesome” or “bothersome”. This is a very common phrase to use when you don’t want to do something. The phrase is translated in the dubbed anime as “What a Drag”.

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The Inner Struggle

Once Upon A Time …

“Twilight And Shadow”, Howard Shore, from “Lord Of The Rings”

an Irish Abbey*****

… ‘T was on a May-day of the far old year
Seventeen hundred eighty, that there fell
Over the bloom and sweet life of the Spring,
Over the fresh earth and the heaven of noon,
A horror of great darkness, like the night
In day of which the Norland sagas tell,–

The Twilight of the Gods. The low-hung sky
Was black with ominous clouds, save where its rim
Was fringed with a dull glow, like that which climbs
The crater’s sides from the red hell below.

Birds ceased to sing, and all the barn-yard fowls
Roosted; the cattle at the pasture bars
Lowed, and looked homeward; bats on leathern wings
Flitted abroad; the sounds of labor died;

Men prayed, and women wept; all ears grew sharp
To hear the doom-blast of the trumpet shatter
The black sky, that the dreadful face of Christ
Might look from the rent clouds, not as he looked
A loving guest at Bethany, but stern
As Justice and inexorable Law.

Meanwhile in the old State House, dim as ghosts,
Sat the lawgivers of Connecticut,
Trembling beneath their legislative robes.
‘It is the Lord’s Great Day! Let us adjourn,’
Some said; and then, as if with one accord,
All eyes were turned to Abraham Davenport.
He rose, slow cleaving with his steady voice
The intolerable hush.

‘This well may be The Day of Judgment which the world awaits;
But be it so or not, I only know
My present duty, and my Lord’s command
To occupy till He come. So at the post
Where He hath set me in His providence,
I choose, for one, to meet Him face to face,–
No faithless servant frightened from my task,
But ready when the Lord of the harvest calls;
And therefore, with all reverence, I would say,
Let God do His work, we will see to ours.

Bring in the candles.’ And they brought them in. …

*****

from the poem “Abraham Davenport” – by John Greenleaf Whittier

Once upon a time a Man existed, of a sort to do the right regardless of the cost, who understood the hierarchy of evil and of good and the destiny to which we all are tending, lost, regardless of our facile words, and opinions, and dissimulation, and pretense.

Once upon a time we knowingly fought the long defeat in stoic patience waiting for the return of the King.

Now all is clowns and jokers, left and right, and none conceive of something greater than themselves.

Cheers

Joe

empty oneself of every trace of belief in one’s “goodness”

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Pen as Sword - Social Commentary, The Inner Struggle

Cake Made Of Flour And Rat Poison …

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

The first Sunday of the month we celebrate our Mass on the Saturday evening – last night. This leaves my Sunday morning free for thinking and reading and catching up on blogs and drinking good coffee. Every now and again I come across an outstanding post on someone else’s blog or an article in an online publication or some beautifully articulated observation.

A beautifully articulated observation about the reality which we like to pretend is a good society and within the shelter of which we pretend that we are good persons. But no amount of virtue signalling can change the underlying evil evident in our modern society, can disguise the fact that this is the worldly kingdom of the Father of Lies. Just such a beautifully articulated observation is an article by Anthony Esolen which I came across at LifeSiteNews:

*****

What is remarkable in our age is not that half of our citizens believe it is wrong to kill the child in the womb, the child whose existence, except in the rare case of rape, is owing to our own voluntary actions.  That would be like congratulating ourselves for believing that it’s wrong to steal someone’s car, to lie under oath to hurt an enemy, to throw our aged parents into the street, or to desecrate churches.

Where is the great moral insight?  What’s remarkable instead is that half of us believe it is all right to snuff out the life of that child – because nothing must be allowed to interfere with our “right” to pursue pleasure, as we use the child-making thing as a sweating-off spa on our way to money, prestige, a five-bathroom mansion for two, a tenured chair in Women’s Studies, the mayoralty of Camden, another year of nights out on the town, whatever.

How have we come to this pass?  Our imaginations are stunted or diseased, that’s how.
 Let churchgoers beware.  You cannot spread pro-life icing on a cake made of flour and rat poison.  Our children meet with rat poison everywhere.

Do they watch Friends on television, that un-funny amoral “comedy” about nihilist young urbanites trading depressions in the mattress with one another?  Rat poison. 

Do they watch movies like – well, the moronic Titanic, wherein a shrewish girl and a pouty boy fornicate before they are swallowed by the deep blue sea?  Rat poison. 

Do their school teachers feed them such exalted lyric poetry as that of Sylvia Plath, imagining what it would be like to smash her sleeping husband’s head like a rotten pumpkin? 

Or the bogus Laramie Project, making a hero out of a deeply disturbed young man, killed in a meth deal? 

Or Toni Morrison’s maudlin obsessions with race and adultery?

Is it an endless cafeteria of ghouls, vampires, girl-murderers – Lord of the Flies, without the severe moral imagination and the talent of William Golding?  Lord of the Flies, Lady of the Flies, Cheerleaders of the Flies, Lifeguard of the Flies, Mr. Goodbar of the Flies, Fight Club of the Flies, Hunger of the Flies? 

Rat poison, with that peculiar character of rat poison, that the more the critter consumes, the thirstier it grows….”( READ THE REST HERE)

*****

And what has Jesus to say about the Father of Lies? Extra! Extra! Read All About It! In the New International Version of John 8: 34-47:

*****

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever”. 36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”

39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.”

“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.

44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

*****

I tend to avoid LifeSiteNews  because, while what they report on is true and accurate, what they offer is an unrelenting reportage of failure, destruction, and the ever accelerating death throes of our culture and society.

I have difficulty finding any hope on the site and there are absolutely no viable solutions in a class with the dragons we face. If I had to report something good about the site I would have to mention an important insight first realized while reading this site, namely, to say that first, there is no hope, and second, that none of it matters.

None of it matters … this world is not important … the sweaty, reality challenged, daily dramas of our society Simply – Aren’t – Important! It’s all just so much Rat Poison.

What IS important is that ONLY Eternity is important. There is absolutely NOTHING in this world which is important in Eternity EXCEPT how we conduct ourselves in relation to this World, and in relation to Eternity. There truly is NO hope in this world, and this world, and the things of this world, are doomed to pass away returning into the cesspool from which they arose like the monster from the slab of our self worship. And make no mistake about it. If we ARE of this world (and who isn’t, to a greater or lesser degree?) we WILL pass away with this world and return to the cesspool as rats do after eating Rat Poison.

So what are we to do? How can we cope with the necrotic dissolution of everything we hold dear in this material world? Now, sitting here at 65 years old watching my friends and customers suffering and dieing and experiencing the utter powerlessness of the best of human efforts to find happiness and ease. It is a lot easier to imagine a universe where we are manifestly NOT the pinnacle of everything and most definitely not worthy of worship as we once found it so easy to do in our twenties and thirties.

In our twenties and thirties – anyone’s twenties and thirties – it is easy to love … ourselves … until the body knows discomfort, pain, death …

Once upon a time…young bodies…beauty woven around a knot of need…preening like the flowers of carnivorous plants. Each of us the most important thing in the world, such was the seduction of that knot of need. and now, only the moment, each tumbling into the next. The body knows discomfort, a slowly growing pain…over and over again…as firm and true as steps, the firm earth reverberating up through my boots, the tactile affirming reality over and over again and nothing else matters… paraphrase from “The Malazan Book of the Fallen

So why do I start to feel joy like a faint but growing light further down this sewage filled tunnel which we call “life” for want of something deeper, more accurate, less flattering to our self image? The answer to this is in a word — “prayer”. Not just a few minutes spent on my knees struggling to find something meaningful to say, or in my attendance at church for an hour, chanting the responses by rote while dreaming about what I will have for lunch, but prayer that turns every waking minute into a prayer.

Now, it has been my observation, that those of this world repudiate every mention of prayer as trite, ineffectual, quaint, superstitious, lacking in intellectual validity – in short, prayer is mocked and belittled as the refuge of idiots. And yet this is not so “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did.”

No, prayer, in reality, becomes a more or less continual awareness of Jesus living and growing within us. True, at first we are very much enmeshed in the less side of “more or less”. But as we persevere we become aware of Jesus working in us, molding us to his desire, which is our cooperation, our submission, our surrender, our companionship, as we begin to give up our own way and surrender ourselves to His way.

Mortification of self begins as a painful exercise but, practiced sincerely, one starts to get glimpses of mortification as invitation to Jesus to take the place of our self in our life. I am thinking that it is a habitual and determined opposition to the will of the Lord that is the greatest barrier to development of an intimate relationship with Him.

We continue to assert our self. We resist accepting that we cannot welcome Him into some parts of our life but steadfastly slam the door on other parts of that life. He is present everywhere and at all times and waits patiently for our surrender of those parts which we willfully try to “keep private”.

We start to realize that we want god in our lives but we insist on doing it on our terms, in our way, and not surrendering to God, to His will and His direction. That is why we only get glimpses of that light and joy at the end of the sewer.

It’s a stone cold merciless bitch, this forcing oneself to move away from the pool of narcissism and self worship and our attachments to the rat poison of our worldly lives. And it is the only path through the tunnel to Eternity.

Cheers

Joe

empty oneself of every trace of belief in one’s “goodness”

 

 

 

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The Inner Struggle

Boundless Hope …

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

Our hope in God can never be exaggerated because it stems from God’s mercy which is infinite. If we sincerely try to do everything we can to please God we should not doubt or fear that our hope in Him can be too great.

Detach oneself from reliance in our own power, our own plans; detach oneself from every created thing and throw ourselves entirely into the arms of God, trusting totally in His infinite mercy and goodness. We are essentially powerless and any belief otherwise is just another manifestation of pride and self worship. Without Him we can do nothing.

Trust entirely in God’s power.  His power and desire for our good exceed our greatest hopes infinitely. As John of The Cross says, “The more the soul hopes, the more it attains.”  The more wretched and powerless we find ourselves,  when The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, / Gang aft agley,” (from “To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough” by Robert Burns), the more we should hope in God.

We cannot, and should not, expect to reach sanctity under our own steam and by our own effort; our own work is worthless without trust in God. But we should hope to reach sanctity through the omnipotent strength of Him who loves to bend over souls as a parent bends over a stumbling child, aware of their frailty, who loves, in the words of the Blessed Virgin, “to exalt the humble and to fill the hungry with good things“.

The sure knowledge of our weakness and powerlessness, as evidenced daily in all the frustrations, unrealized dreams, unexpected trials, and the plentiful vicissitudes of inter-personal relationships where we interact with everyone else’s plans, hopes, and dreams, should make us constantly aware of our need for God, God’s guidance, and God’s omnipotence. Our plans and our hopes in ourselves are simply temporal evidence of our attachment to ourselves, our self love and self worship.

“A soul that endeavors to apply itself with all the strength of its will to the practice of the virtues and the fulfillment of every duty, a soul that is determined to refuse nothing to Our Lord, should strive to maintain itself in an attitude of total trust in Him, in spite of inevitable falls. Yes, we should have complete confidence that God will come to sanctify us, regardless of our past faults, our present miseries, the aridity of our soul, the repugnance of nature, or the state of weariness and depression in which we may find ourselves.” fromDivine Intimacy“, by Fr. Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalene, O.C.D. , Copyright 1953 Monastero S. Guiseppe – Carmelitane Scalze, (Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Rome), 2014 edition. day 249, Boundless Hope, pp 723 first paragraph.

I can’t say enough good aboutDivine Intimacy“,  it is available at Baronius Press https://www.baroniuspress.com/book.php?wid=56&bid=48#tab=tab-1. Read it daily. Save your soul.

Perhaps even save your life. This fasting diet which I have been following since January of this year has its roots in my decision to fast for spiritual reasons prompted and spurred on by this book. Who can say how God works in one’s life and how he makes his will known in the lives of his people. But it is for sure dead certain that listening to and accepting and following the guidance, the guidelines, of human authorities with all the attendant self interest and corruption leads to certain death.

And while it is true that everyone dies, it is very much up to each one of us how we die, and why we die, and whether we die in our soul or only in our body.

Cheers

Joe

 

empty oneself of every trace of belief in one’s “goodness”

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The Inner Struggle

Riches …

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 EucharistToday is the 8th Sunday after Pentecost. The Epistle today is Romans 8, 12-17 (old missal). In it 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.

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”.

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)

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 so darkens our gaze on God, nothing so weakens our striving to reach God, as a single inordinate 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.

Cheers

Joe

 Galadriel, “The Lord of the Rings”
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