The Inner Struggle

Canada Day, 2020 … and our Neighbor’s Fourth of July … Ave Atque Vale

Rise_and_FallMore thinking.  Listening to “Dargaard, “Rise and Fall“, 2004,

Not a well known band. Not a popular theme with our current crop of “Brights”. After all, they know everything, see everything, and “understand” all the reality that matters. Right?

Well, Canada Day, last Wednesday, they (our Bright Masters) banned public fireworks displays and parades and such abominations in the name of “Social Distancing”.

And here in the Shire, in the heart of flyover country, we flipped them the bird and went ahead and had a parade anyway, and the best fireworks display I remember in years.

And today, the Fourth of July, we hear that the folks in California did essentially the same thing to their Masters. Who’d have figured Californians for growing some. so there are still a few folks around who haven’t  bent over to the Progressive tide washing away our civilization.  A number of legal rulings in recent years in the U.S. and Canada (by the “Supremes”)have come down on the side of the progressive meme that “Natural Law” no longer  applies to our “Society”, our “Civilization”.

Now we see some conflict in the enemy camp, as the LGBTQ faction claim no relationship with NAMBLA, and NAMBLA tries to claim membership in the LGBTQ “movement”.  But mostly we are drowning in BLM violence and hate. And the very people whose lives are supposed to matter are the greatest victims of their own violence, along with the highest abortion rate in the country … all supported by Democrats and Planned Parenthood. Yea, right … BLM … sure they do.

But, aside from the tragedy of BLM it IS somewhat amusing to see various tribes of Progressives trying to put distance between their claim to legitimacy and other tribes who are still “Beyond the Pale” and make them uncomfortable. What’s next? Marrying your sheep? And what about the 95% of the world population who are even more uncomfortable with the whole LGBTQ meme than the LGBTQ folks are uncomfortable with the NAMBLA meme?  What about us?

But we are still the “Polite Society”, unless of course we notice someone who disagrees with us and our current views on society and morality … then we become … well, not so nice. The silver lining in all of this is that “Anthropogenic Global Warming” has completely stopped being a thing … replaced by “Pandemic Hysteria” and face masks have replaced Blue-Boxes as the new badge of “Virtue Signaling.

What is “Civilization”? What is “Society”? O Canada, Our home and native land … the only thing left to history will be the fossil record … in Canada that will be “Fossilized Minds”. Ban Fossil Fools! What about our “cultural decline”? How do we stack up?

What were the habits and cultural trends when the Greeks sank into oblivion? When Rome sank into oblivion? When the Eastern Empire sank into oblivion? France? Wiemar? The mighty Soviet colossus? Just the first few that come to mind, the list is endless spanning all of history.

David Warren recently posted: “A platitude, widely circulated in my youth, held that “ideas have consequences.” It is true, after a fashion. It is especially true of stupid ideas. Already, half a century ago, in the universities I was determined to avoid (except their libraries, and interesting professors), it seemed to me that “Dullness” reigned. This is the goddess who presides over The Dunciad, of Alexander Pope. According to my diagnosis at the time, the intellectual life of Canada, at least, was governed by malice, borne of mediocrity, or worse — conveyed in a (sickeningly sweet) syrup medium of affected niceness. But was this ever not so?

Looking back, I see how I overestimated my own intelligence, and underestimated my arrogance. For I was, like many others, a willful child; just other-willed from most. Nonetheless, I was aware that a generation of American draft dodgers were infiltrating our schools, and linking up with our native “commies,” who likewise had no taste for learning. Rather their ideal of education was agitprop: not the thing itself, but protesting the thing.”

So Joe quotes from Alexander Pope:

“Religion blushing veils her sacred fires,
And unawares Morality expires.
Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine;
Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine!
Lo! thy dread empire Chaos! is restored:
Light dies before thy uncreating word;
Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall,
And universal darkness buries all.

  • Book IV, line 649. The Dunciad, of Alexander Pope.

We Happy Few …

Happy Canada Day! Justin forbid that we might be speaking moistly!  Horrors!  A hundred people watching a Canada Day parade, the spectators outnumbered by the participants in the parade on main street although many others showed up later further down the route, all scattered down the parade route in little groups and knots of whispering families no group closer than 10 or twenty feet from each other, no candy being thrown from the parade floats, no screaming children running gaily around, where have they all gone?

What is to be done when the life goes out of a culture and a society, the idea of “natural law” ridiculed and abandoned; when appetites and passions rule and all civilized restraint is cast aside on the alter of self indulgence? Is there anything to be done to redeem or restore the wreckage as the slide into the pit of deviance and degradation continues at an ever increasing rate?

I think not.  There are no believers to uphold the right, the just, the moral.  There is dissension everywhere, eloquent wisdom of the jackals, pandering to a phalanx of followers and hangers on. A cloistered parenthesis of tawdry trepidation staring runny eyed into the infernal chasm of the banal. The kingdom of the Chestless, and the Dull.

Some interesting reading here”, and “here and “here“.

Looking upon the daily actions and proclamations, the daily supplications to this and that, some of us gain some wisdom but it is not the wisdom of the wise, not the wisdom of this age, or of the rulers of this age. All these must pass away, and come to nothing. looking back over the last four thousand years there is not one exception to this, regardless of how sure each generation was in their righteousness and power, “Look on my works ye mighty, and despair”.

No ruler or wise man in their generation understand this because they are blinded by their own brilliance and think”Of course, how could it be otherwise”?  Jealousy and Strife are rampant. Our ancestors only laid a foundation. We are the current work gang, the current builders. We decide how the structure grows or falls, and the Justices, the Supremes,  are anything but…

SatanThe image is a link.  Arrogance, pride and immorality, greed, rivalry, fraud, drunkenness, drugs, adultery, fornication, promiscuity, deviance, prostitution, gluttony, recourse to the courts, brother against brother, sister against sister, mother against father and father against mother, slavery, mutilation, bestiality, sacrifice and taxes, an endless list of human travail.

All of us are “knowledgeable” and our knowledge puffs us up with self importance, does not our knowledge invite us to hold forth about things about which we know nothing based on our perceived expertise in another area?  If anyone thinks he knows something he just has not yet realized that he knows nothing. It is what we don’t know we don’t know that bites us to death.

We easily follow dumb idols, wealth power, sex, self importance, self esteem, influence, possessions, standing in the community, what are our personal idols? I speak in poetry and wisdom  in honeyed tones. All shall LOVE ME and despair. All shall abide by my directions. I understand mysteries, I prophecy a future of comfort and plenty for all.

BUT … somewhere in here, in my daily Gedankenexperiment, my tunes changed to this …

Am I patient and kind?  Am I Jealous or boastful? Am I arrogant or rude? Do I insist on my own way? Do I rejoice at other’s experience of misfortune? Am I irritable and resentful? Do I bear inconvenient events and happenings with patience and good will? Do I give folks the benefit of the doubt? Am I cynical? Have I no hope? Thinking on how I live my life … there seems to be a large amount of room to be bitten by what I don’t know I don’t know. About the only thing that seems obvious is that we have seen all of this before, many many, times throughout history.

Rewriting history to hide the unpleasant truth doesn’t help one to avoid the consequences of our actions. We are history in the making.  What has come before doesn’t fill me with joy at our potential. Do you ever feel like you are a Centurion in the Ninth Legion, standing night watch, looking out over Hadrian’s Wall, the loneliest outpost of the empire, with a cold wet winter breeze rustling your hair in little puffs, and a chill runs down your back because you can’t see what is coming at you in the dark, and Rome is crumbling behind you?

“Happy Canada Day everyone!”, and “Happy Fourth if July”.

Cheers

Joe

 

 

 

 

Standard
Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Good Sunday Morning …

I have been writing over the last few days … up to about 10,000 words already and nothing in it that sparks joy. Just an endless litany of the evil I see around me and in the media … it can get depressing as Hell and one can find oneself looking at a landscape of despair.

I decided there is only one rebuttal to all the endless river of evil, the endless invitation to give up and just go with the flow because, as I am told by relatives and sundry collaborators, there is nothing one can do about it. David Warren writes:

“… it seemed to me that “Dullness” reigned (and reigns today). This is the goddess who presides over The Dunciad, of Alexander Pope. According to my diagnosis at the time, the intellectual life of Canada, at least, was governed by malice, borne of mediocrity, or worse — conveyed in a (sickeningly sweet) syrup medium of affected niceness. But was this ever not so?”

And is it not even more so today all around us in our “polite society”? And worse, much, much worse, in “America The Beautiful” as I heard her called in my naive youth. Remember the Chicago Riots during the 1968 Democratic Convention? Over 50 years ago, now, and counting, a great American political party was murdered by its own children and closest friends.

And 50 years on we are now run by the murderers on both sides of the border. We have Pandemic and BLM and “Kill and destroy everyone who voices disagreement”. There are only allies of convenience and enemies. Friends no longer exist, brothers and sisters no longer speak with each other, and families have been shattered, abdicating all ties to embrace the current fear uncertainty and doubt. This is the end of the godless world of the father of lies.

I have one rebuttal to all this violent screaming hatred and murder … here’s another vision of reality … from Times Square, New York City – play it loud with good headphones :

Cheers

Joe

Semper Fidelis, Brothers and Sisters

Just a little rough patch, the only way is “underway”.

Standard
The Inner Struggle

Easter, and the Resurrection in a Plague Year …

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

001-crucified

The Isenheim Altarpiece is an altarpiece sculpted and painted by, respectively, the Germans Niclaus of Haguenau and Matthias Grünewald in 1512–1516

Psalm 1: “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, … “

From the liturgy of the hours, this evening, April 13th in the year of our Lord 2020. Indeed an excellent Psalm for our current times …  and so does Bill also have a few trenchant words for our current blight … Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow …

“She should have died hereafter; There would have been a time for such a word. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day To the last syllable of recorded time, And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death.

Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more: it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”
Bill Shakespeare, Macbeth (1611?)

Today I have used some images taken from the Wickedpedia, the free encyclopedia, The Isenheim Altarpiece is an altarpiece sculpted and painted by, respectively, the Germans Niclaus of Haguenau and Matthias Grünewald in 1512–1516. I suspect these were real “Plague Years”, not this FUD filled “Plague Lite” which our leaders are currently inflicting on us. Anyway, no point in complaining about leaders, just thank God they are not shooting us yet.

I will not just copy everything they (the Wickedpedia) have to say about it but suffice to say, just go on over and visit it and read the article, it is worth one’s time to understand better the past history which contributed to Western European Civilization’s rise, especially since we are in such a hurry to blow it all away in our modern progressive wasteland.

OH, also, a trick question: “Why are there so few “O” blood type humans in Europe, except for in a couple of German Provinces? Bonus points for a cogent answer and it will be on the final exam as well.

I am thinking much these days about my attachments and how they get in the way of living in the Will of God, the Divine Will as related by Luisa Piccarreta. Some of this post I have reworked from one I made three or so years ago. My thoughts have not diverged much along the way to here. Anyway …

In fact all of the items, objections, observations, and situations complained about, and judged, and questioned in many of my posts, while provably “true” for some values of “true”, are firmly rooted in my own biases, attractions, beliefs, and narratives in and about this material world.

001-grunewald_isenheim1

Grunewald – Isenheim Altarpiece – First View

In short, my ego, my “self” is intimately enmeshed in all my observations and conclusions, MY plans, MY dreams, MY opinions, MY understanding.

I don’t believe that I am uniquely blessed. I believe that we all share these attachments to the material, especially if we strongly believe that this time based material reality is all there is.

Viewed through my human nature, all these things are ultimately important, but viewed through my soul nature they are really seen to be unimportant and irrelevant, mere distractions on the path.

And yet … and yet … we insist on refusing to see what is right before us. We dive into the unreal and forsake the real for the sake of our passions, our tastes, our desires, our egos.

*****

Barabbas is in each one of us. We are scoundrels, experts in selfishness, boasting, lust, violence and greed. We are bandits, taking God’s many gifts and ungratefully neglecting them and squandering them.

001-grunewald_isenheim2

Grunewald Isenheim Second View

We take for granted the most precious realities of life: family, life, nature, health, faith, and the sacraments.  We squander our talents, our money, our time, and the love others offer us.

We are quick to criticize and judge, to steal others’ honor and sully it with our moral and intellectual myopia. What do we, who are so flawed, so weak, so slow to repent, and so reluctant to serve — what do we deserve?

Certainly not God’s love, certainly not his continued forgiveness, certainly not redemption, hope, peace, and heaven. Strictly speaking, we deserve to be cut off from the kingdom against which we have so often rebelled — just like the murderous insurgent Barabbas.

001-grunewald_isenheim3

Grunewald Isenheim Third View

And yet, Jesus overlooks what we deserve. It is Passover, and the angel of justice passes over the sinner to wreak his punishments on the Lamb of God instead.

Look at the Lord with the eyes of Barabbas. Is there any heart that loves you more than His Sacred Heart? Is there any heart more trustworthy than the heart that died so that you might have abundant life? John Bartunek, LC, ThD.The Better Part”, pp321

*****

001-grunewald_-_christ

Grunewald’s Risen Christ

We insist on refusing to see what is right before us — we refuse to see reality through the eyes of our spirit/soul — we clutch at our “self” and our passions, appetites, vices, and sins, because, as Screwtape says (about half way down one of my posts): “you must remember that he (us) takes Time for an ultimate reality”.

As we walk through this “valley of death”, this mortal world full of evil both without and within, we find that the closer we cling to the visible, material, temporal vision, the more we fear.

Because when you really look at everything around us, the happenings, and events, and personal relations, and national relations, the EVERYTHING in TIME, the more we fear.

Because, if we actually pull our collective heads out of the “sand” (or wherever) the more we have to acknowledge that there is not one damned thing we can do about any of it.

And if this is all there is then we may just as well end it all. If this is all there is then what is really the point? 

001-mathis_gothart_grunewald_024

Mathis Gothart Grunewald’s “St. John The Baptist” illum oportet crescere me autem minui (Vulgate, John 3:30 ), “He must increase, but I must decrease.

This morning I visited another WordPress blog which I follow at “Finding Hope”  Often I am encouraged and given hope reading what this person writes. This time I found there a story specifically about this struggle with “What’s The Point”. It brought me to tears and to prayer:

A Prayer of Sorrow

” I have fallen, Lord, once more. I can’t go on. I’ll never succeed. I am ashamed.  I don’t dare look at you. And yet I struggled, Lord, for I knew you were right near me, bending over me, watching.

But temptation blew like a hurricane, and instead of you I turned my head away. I stepped aside, while you stood silent and sorrowful. Lord, don’t look at me like that.

For I am ashamed and sorrowful. I am down, shattered, with no strength left. I dare make no more promises. I can only stand bowed before you.

 Come, Child, look up. Isn’t it mainly your vanity that is wounded? If you loved me you would grieve but you would trust. Do you think that there is a limit to God’s love? Do you think that for a moment I stopped loving you? But you still rely on yourself.

 You must rely on me. Ask my pardon and get up quickly. You see, it’s not falling that is worse, but staying on the ground.”

Wow …

If we are not careful we find ourselves angry with God because “He is doing this to me!” and we can’t bring ourselves to recognize our own failings and faults, and that God is not really “doing this to us” but just watching us sorrowfully from His eternal NOW as we do these spiteful things to  ourselves to “punish” Him.

And then consider how much of what we do daily is out of spite and passive aggression.  Spite at family members, spite at neighbours, spite at friends, spite at groups of people we “have a bone to pick” with, spite at other drivers, spite at other folks in public places or in the news, spite at professional groups, anyway, you get my drift.

Matushka Juliana Schmemann, Fr. Alexander Schmemann, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Matushka Juliana Schmemann, Fr. Alexander Schmemann, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Our spiritual point of view completely obscured by passion , resentment and pride, so we do and say things we later regret or find are mistaken in their target and intent.

“Every evil screams out only one message: “I am good”! And not only does it scream, but it also demands that the people cry out tirelessly in response: ‘You  are good, you are freedom, you are happiness’ “(Father Alexander Schmemann)

All of these passions painting layer upon layer of darkness on the vision of our soul/spirit, completely obscuring reality.

These “little sins” of spite, of holding grudges and passive aggression until vengeance be meted out are really great big sins of pride, of our ego, of needing to be seen and heard and esteemed, even by God, if we still remember Him.

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

My mother (God rest her soul) went to her grave, “died unshriven”  as they say, or bás a fháil gan sagart” as our Irish ancestors would say, that is “not having confessed sins to a priest and been given absolution”  after 32 years of rejecting God and the church and the sacraments.

Because she just couldn’t accept that God’s plan for her life did not align with her plan for her life. After my father died, at 57,  my mother (always a very stubborn woman) rejected the church, priests, God, religion, holding out for her plan, until vengeance be meted out.

001-vasily_perov_-_%d0%bf%d0%be%d1%80%d1%82%d1%80%d0%b5%d1%82_%d1%84-%d0%bc-%d0%b4%d0%be%d1%81%d1%82%d0%be%d0%b5%d0%b2%d1%81%d0%ba%d0%be%d0%b3%d0%be_-_google_art_project

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

In her early life, although we were poor, she did her best to raise us children so that we never wanted for anything essential, even including making our clothes.

She looked out for us with devotion and worshiped my father as her eternal love.  She died a unhappy woman at 92 still holding out for the material reality of her plan and rejecting the soul/spirit view of eternity.

God gave her 32 more years after he took Dad, to come to an understanding of reality and we discussed it and argued about it countless times for 32 years. I must have been a real pain in the ass when all she really wanted was to be left alone in her bitterness.

In some ways she reminded me, in the last 30 years of her life, of “The Old Woman and The Onion” fable which appears in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel “The Brothers Karamazov“.

My mother refused to give up her narrative and her plan regardless of the cost.

And all that misery and bitterness because she took TIME for reality and could never bring herself to accept that this world didn’t matter, that she had to give up HER plan for life and accept God’s plan. At least, that is how it seemed to me at the time, and of course I know very little if anything, and God knows all and everything, so I pray that IF I make it to heaven some day, I find my mother there waiting for me and remarking “Well, finally, I thought you were never coming”.

15Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17And the world passeth away, and the concupiscence thereof: but he that doth the will of God, abideth for ever. (1 John 2, Douay-Rheims Bible)

We would be better to write poems of Love to God:

*****

Ah, Love, let us be true to one another!
For the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.”

(Mathew Arnold, English Poet, 1822 — 1888)

*****

001-eskimo-inuit-sunglasses

Inuit Snow Goggles

It seems obvious at this point what reality is and what the choice is that must be made, between a short syllable of time or all eternity, to devote our short lives to chasing happiness and success in this world or take off our narrow goggles and pursue eternity.

But in order to detach from the important material things which fill up our lives and leave us bitter and afraid we have to abandon our “selfishness” and trust God.

Selfishness is rooted in “FEAR” of losing something good for ourselves or missing out on something which might make us happy, or whatever … we often do not even know what it is we are afraid of losing or missing out on, but we are sure someone else is getting it and we are not.

The main obstacle or hurdle to overcome when approaching the spirit/soul point of view is self love. It is immensely difficult to develop detachment from this world while fully immersed in the pool of self love where this time based world is everything. I have been pounding my block head against this stone wall for decades with the only result being an understanding that I cannot do this on my own. Easy to say, immensely difficult to put into practice in a world of Time and Self. Beg GOD to help me do this … there is no “Dummies” book for this.

By immersing oneself in the world of spirit, outside time and space, where everything material is unimportant we are able to appreciate and understand just what an infinitesimal part of reality is the part with time, which we choose to believe constitutes all of reality. Really … I can say that so easily … but it is difficult to practice because I have to give up … and I have been drilling into myself all my life from the earliest years I can remember “Never Give Up, Never Give Up, Never Give Up”.

So we have to give up our self and trust God, a difficult target when we have so much trouble trusting everything in Time, our family or our friends, or the folks at work or at the corner store.

Trust; trust God, who knows us so much better than we even know ourselves since he conceived us and created us and he loves us more than we love ourselves and he wants nothing more than our absolute happiness and well being. He knows what we need. So in conclusion (for now)  “LET IT GO!” We have to move from “My will be done” to “Thy will be done”. Our future depends on it.

Cheers

Joe

100-canadian-landscapeWe fight the long defeat because results are not as important as our Father’s delight. We fight the long defeat because we are not the authorities over “success.” We fight the long defeat because the final victory is coming.

Standard
The Inner Struggle

Good Friday … 2020

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

This whole pandemic panic, this Red Bat Flu season has been a spotlight on all the trivial pursuits, all those ways we distract ourselves in a never ending whirlwind of self worship.

The storm of activity keeps us from having to deal with all the ways we focus on our tastes, and passions and desires … our “attachments”.

It makes certain that we will not notice all the time we waste when we should be focusing on our soul and eternity.

SO a great big thank you to Red Bat Flu, for shutting down all the distractions

Today, Good Friday, I watched “The Passion of The Christ” again. This film is still as powerful now as it was the first time I watched it.

I think most people in the West have probably watched “The Passion of the Christ” at least once. For others, it is more than once.

And yet for others, myself included, it has become an annual Lenten“ritual”, and this year there is no “church” since they have all been closed by the civil power on pain of $500,000.00 fines.

Oh Lord, You have created me for Yourself, to love You and to enjoy You, infinite Good, ineffable Beauty; do not permit me to lose sight of this sublime end toward which I must tend; do not permit me to wander among the wretched satisfactions that vain, feeble creatures can offer me. (I don’t remember where I read that but it is too beautiful to be mine)

“Good Friday”, the end of Lent. Lent is about sorrow, contrition, and repentance.  Recent scripture readings and meditations have sensitized the soul’s faculties to the clear realization of my sinfulness, and of God’s most wondrous prerogative, namely God’s mercy, and the revival of our adoption by Christ who: “desires not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Cf. Ezek. 33:11) … “this realization of mercy becomes the impetus of the soul’s advancement in virtue, the inspiration of its power for good, and its daily shield in its struggle for eternal life“. (John A. Kane, “How To Make A Good Confession”, pp 14)

I see “conversion” as a dawning awareness of the real truth of my sinfulness, a spiritual coming of age, where my soul experiences an ever intensifying consciousness of my preferential option for self worship, self gratification and of “sinning” in the pursuit of pleasure, consolation, satisfaction as ends in and of themselves.

The Passion of The Christ by Igor Zenin

The Passion of The Christ by Igor Zenin

The essence of this “conversion” is the turning of my soul and my faculties from sin towards identification of, and identifying with, the will of God, and a concomitant experience of remorse in understanding the lifelong predilection for self centered thoughts, habits, activities and attachments.

I had an intense AHA! experience a couple of years ago, the realization, in my own tiny way, of the pain God feels when his creatures turn away from his love and his care for them and his desire for them to live “the good life” in his orbit and under his protection.

This is what I do, in my selfishness, when I, essentially, tell God to “Just bugger off and leave me alone!” I want to do my own thing, to be me, to act out my own plan regardless of the consequences and the impact on others. I only care about me. It is manifest in a total absence of fraternal charity.

And then, when things go wrong, as they inevitably do, when I find myself in a place where I cannot control my life, where it is  all just happening to me and there is nothing I can do about it, I get focused on my little pain from some small source and I think that is everything there is and it is the greatest pain ever.

But right now it is difficult to imagine that my pain is special. It is hard to keep feeling special when I am watching the whole world trying to “shut down” to contain and constrain the spread of the deadly “Red Bat Flu”.

Even one of my favorite Prelates has something to say about it. Robert Cardinal Sarah said the following: This virus acted as a warning. In a matter of weeks, the great illusion of a material world that thought itself all-powerful seems to have collapsed. A few days ago, politicians were talking about growth, pensions, reducing unemployment. They were sure of themselves.

And now a virus, a microscopic virus, has brought this world to its knees, a world that looks at itself, that pleases itself, drunk with self-satisfaction because it thought it was invulnerable. The current crisis is a parable. It has revealed how all we do and are invited to believe was inconsistent, fragile and empty. We were told: you can consume without limits! But the economy has collapsed and the stock markets are crashing. Bankruptcies are everywhere.

We were promised to push the limits of human nature ever further by a triumphant science. We were told about artificial procreation, surrogate motherhood, transhumanism, enhanced humanity. We boasted of being a man of synthesis and a humanity that biotechnologies would make invincible and immortal.

But here we are in a panic, confined by a virus about which we know almost nothing. Epidemic was an outdated, medieval word. It suddenly became our everyday life. I believe this epidemic has dispelled the smoke of illusion.

The so-called all-powerful man appears in his raw reality. There he is naked. His weakness and vulnerability are glaring. Being confined to our homes will hopefully allow us to turn our attention back to the essentials, to rediscover the importance of our relationship with God, and thus the centrality of prayer in human existence.

And, in the awareness of our fragility, to entrust ourselves to God and to his paternal mercy. —Cardinal Robert Sarah, April 9th, 2020; Catholic Register

God feels all the pain of all the behaviour of all His love children, those creatures He created, out of love, to share His love with, and who He holds in His hands and holds their everything in existence, so they can misbehave with impunity, so they can torture Him and kill Him, His  hateful creatures, hurting Him continuously and without pause, for all our time, in His eternal now.

I don’t think a human creature can even begin to realize the pain they cause God by disobedience, and the malice of self worship, until that human starts to get past the attachments to “self”  and the self-righteous anger response when that belief, that worship of “self” is threatened or challenged in some way. The only thing that teaches me, that reaches me, is the pain of overwhelming loss of precisely those things or thoughts to which I am most attached.

Jesus Christ, circa AD 30

Jesus Christ, circa AD 30

This painful experience fans the flames of my soul’s ever intensifying awareness of the preponderance of self worship, self gratification, self aggrandizement, and the serious attachment to all things and experiences centered on healing the wounds of my self regard, my self image to which I find myself so inordinately attached.

Attachment … to all the things of this world, but especially those things and experiences which reinforce my self regard, my self-worship. Becoming aware of this I feel sorrow and contrition for my conduct, now and throughout my whole life. I remember every little thing, from childhood to late in life looking back over my personal tale of woe, my misbehavior, my willfulness, and I am sorry.

The contrition experience gives rise to a desire for repentance, a desire to make atonement for past sins, a transformation of my mind, an up-welling of the supernatural drowning the natural in an intensifying struggle. How to atone? How to repent? Repent, atone, by cutting adrift all those elements, all those attachments, which contribute to the healing of the wounds of my self love, to papering over of those ugly wounds inflicted by self worship, to whitewashing my black heart.

My attachments are a significant part of the framework within which I view “reality” and is it really real? As I have remarked before, some famous guy once said: “it’s what we don’t know that we don’t know that bites our ass in the end”. I have great difficulty identifying and isolating attachments. I desire to see my soul as God sees it, the better to repent for a lifetime of all-purpose sin, my repertoire, my curriculum vitae of “being human”.

Identifying and isolating my attachments has been greatly assisted by my now 3 year long program of fasting … never realized just how much I was attached to food, and the activities surrounding food, until I started fasting. Now it has become obvious that all attachments hide like this, they hide in plain sight within the normal every day experiences of life until I isolate them by choosing a new and different direction for my habits, thoughts, actions.

“Your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash”.  Those were the immortal words of Captain Tom “Stinger” Jordan in Top Gun.  Of course, he was talking to Maverick, played by Tom Cruise. But that’s a movie, a Hollywood fantasy, it sells well because its what I would like to believe about my own life and abilities, when reality is truly somewhat different.

Odds are, when I use this phrase, especially when I am talking to myself,  I’m talking to someone with considerably less ability, to back up the checks being written, with real life performance. Because I have great difficulty identifying and isolating attachments. Let’s count the ways I’ve used this phrase:

… to someone (myself) who was daring others to take action on some outlandish behavior, just because I didn’t really like those others, at that moment in time …  no other reason … to that person (myself) who is making a rash decision because … just because, because I thought I could …  no other reason, just asserting my specialness … to someone (myself) who just had a wild time in (fill in you last port of call), loudly, confidently, exclaiming, “Really!  When am I going to be in (fill in you last port of call) again?”

Captain Jordan in Top Gun, as I know now, knew that it was all fool’s gold.  Nothing special here at all, just me, myself, and I, stroking my own ego, my own fantasy that I am special. People (myself) that do outlandish things inevitably learn, hopefully, eventually, that they can’t make irresponsible decisions without facing the music. So back to the escapist fantasy. How did it all work out for Maverick?  Crash and burn? Yup, and the real tragedy was that the rubber cheques took Goose and his family down with Maverick. Realization couldn’t bring them back or restore the magic.

It is only in the contrast of my losses and pain that I start to recognize the attachments of my life. This is that process which is described by the Greek wordMetanoia“, that is, changing my mind, and through that my reality. So conversion, contrition and repentance involve and devolve into an internal discussion, a meditation about real “reality” and  how attachments seem to be the lens through which I interpret and act upon events and stimuli in my life and relationships … attachments … all the attachments.

So, how am I to move towards being detached from “the things of this world”, the creatures and treasures which I look to for consolation and pleasure when indulging my self gratification and self worship? I think I have to enter into and accept repentance as pretty much a constant mindset, a basic understanding of the enormity of my life of sin and the greater enormity of God’s eternal mercy and love for me. The eternal is what matters, and only reference to the eternal gives meaning to this world and the perishable material things and creatures of this world.

I am living in my material shell as an eternal “soul”, as the ghost in the shell. The shell is not the “me”. The shell is just the collection of lenses, sensor systems and actuators for the self, but it is not the self. I, me, the “ME”, occupy the shell and look at, interact with, and think about the perishable material plane, and the “things of this world”, but as an eternal soul, not as the shell … which is actually what I really am, that ghost in the shell is where that which makes me “I” actually resides, actually exists.

So, all my life is no more than one night in a bad hotel. More thinking and more understanding required … about repentance as a newly understood way of life, like the Prodigal Son, a new way of life full of painful daily reminders of previous offenses against my Father. I will conclude this with a rather long excerpt from Father John A. Kane:

Fr. John A. Kane

Fr. John A. Kane, 1912 – 1962

“Repentance (from the Greek metanoia) is the mind itself changed and transformed. It is the supernatural conquering the natural. It is the assumption of the spirit of Christ according to the words of St. Paul: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”. (Phil. 2:5)

Thus it is evident that penitence, in its entirety, is perennial. It has not always the same quality, however. It assumes different phases, and in this respect it is like a lifelong grief. The first outbreak of sorrow will subside. The wilderness of desolation will bloom again with fragrant flowers. In resignation to the divine will, the soul will be flooded with light, peace, and joy.

Then it will glory in the consciousness that it is suffering with Christ. Its sorrow is now more abiding; it has taken root in the very depths of the soul’s consciousness; it clings to the soul far more tenaciously than the first convulsive paroxysm of grief.

Without any external evidence, sorrow has silently transfigured the soul’s life, uniting it more fully, more consciously with its God. A calm and permanent sorrow, which at first terrorized the soul, now lovingly embraces it and gradually sinks into its extreme depths, while externally there may have been no sign of its existence.” (John A. Kane, “How To Make A Good Confession”, pp 11-12)

Cheers

Joe

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?

Standard
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:

*****

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.’

*****

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:

*****

“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.

*****

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

Standard
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.

Standard
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”:

*****

“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.”

*****

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.

*****

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).

*****

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)

*****

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.

Standard
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 losing 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”
Standard
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.

*****

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 …

Standard
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:

*****

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.

*****

and

*****

“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

 

Standard
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:

*****

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.”

*****

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 …

Standard