The Inner Struggle

Duty … Virtue … and especially Suffering …

Inner Thoughts”  Rodrigo Rodriguez, from the album “Inner Thoughts” (2006)

Marcus Aurelius – was Roman emperor from AD161 to AD180,

Marcus Aurelius – was Roman emperor from AD161 to AD180,

When searching for answers about “what constitutes right living?”, and “how does one know when one is following the right path?” one is really asking oneself “How do I know with certainty what is the will of God?”  Understanding the perfection of love, that is “love of another besides myself” consists in striving towards the perfect conformity of my will with the divine will.

I think it is sitting right in front of our face and residing in our soul of we are honest with ourselves. It is expressed  simply in a concrete and detailed way in the duties of my state and the various circumstances of my life. The “duties of my state” determine particularly how I must act on a daily basis so as to be always in conformity with the divine will.

Those duties are expressed in the commandments of God, known in “natural law” to all men, in all times, in rules and customs, commands of superiors, and tasks imposed by obedience, my duties are those required by my family life, my profession or occupation, my social activities, and by good citizenship.

And so, as is known in “natural law” to all men, in all times, Marcus Aurelius reflects on Duty: Our duty is to Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busy-body, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil.

On Virtue: But I who have seen the nature of the good that it is beautiful, and of the bad that it is ugly, and the nature of him who does wrong, that it is akin to me, not only of the same blood or seed, but that it participates in the same intelligence and the same portion of the divinity, I can neither be injured by any of them, for no one can fix on me what is ugly, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him,

On Suffering, : For we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away.” going forward in duty by virtue regardless of the consequences and violence we might suffer whenever the all too human tendency to refuse co-operation, to insist on doing things our own way, to work against each other and to experience the suffering inherent in human relations whenever the reality of selfishness and self worship impact the smooth exchanges of daily relations.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book Two.

We understand, from reading the “ancients”, from reading the “classics”,  that “natural law” is knowable and known, to all men, in all times, since man began. And God’s will, as discerned in natural law, is also marked out for me by the circumstances of my life, whether it is important or not, down to the very smallest detail, in health or sickness, wealth or poverty, interior joy or aridity and emptiness, success or failure, struggles, misfortunes and losses.

From time to time I am presented with tasks – special tasks – of patience, generous activity, love, or renouncement, detachment, submission, and sacrifice. These tasks may come to me through the actions of my superiors, governing bodies, professional organizations, family members, or some combination of the actions and consequent fallout of such actions involving some or all of the above groups.

But everything is permitted by God, “To them that love God, all things work together unto good” (Rom 8, 28), so it remains to me to discover what the divine will may  be in each task with which I am presented. Sanctity does not consist in doing extraordinary things … sanctity is reduced to simply the fulfillment of duty … therefore it is most definitely possible for me to attain to sanctity regardless of how insignificant I may view my role in the tapestry of life.

Therefore I must be persevering and punctual in the fulfillment of my duties, diligent, being careful in my actions, accustoming myself to see the expression of God’s will in every one of my duties, no matter how trivial. I must fulfill my duties not only when I feel great fervor but also when I am sad, tired, frustrated, or in a state of spiritual aridity. I must express constancy with generosity.

It may feel small and insignificant but it takes uncommon virtue to fulfill all one’s duties without carelessness, negligence, or laziness, to avoid the pitfall of giving everything a “lick and a promise” or just going through the motions in order to “get it done”. It takes uncommon virtue to put the effort into attention, piety, and spiritual fervor, to pay attention to the details, for the whole combination of ordinary duties which make up my daily life. The details matter.

I must not be discouraged by failure, either resulting from outside forces or from my own failure of attention or lack of competence – my mistakes and forgetfulness and so on and so forth. Always acknowledge faults and failures, take ownership of them and begin again with renewed commitment.

What else is there to say about “duty”? It seems something of a truism that in our great self-regard we find it easier and more attractive to identify the duties of others than our own, and inversely, there will always be a plenitude of folks more than willing to tell us what our duty may be should we find ourselves momentarily unfocused and apparently idle.

Well, I suppose that might just be enough for one post – I will continue next post with thoughts a about virtue and how one employs virtue to carry out one’s duty and perhaps then into how this persevering way of life, constantly doing one’s duty by exercising virtue results in suffering …

Hmmm

Cheers

Joe

 

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Pen as Sword - Social Commentary, The Inner Struggle

The Future …

Every now and again I find a gem which I share unaltered …

“… The Word travels home, person to person, from émigrés who escape the ghetto pressures abroad. Along with this goes the very Western idea of religious freedom. Men and women subtly pass from what is unthinkable to what is thinkable. There are consequences when that tipping point is reached. …”

Read the whole article here

Cheers

Joe

 

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Adveniat Regnum Tuum …

Prophecy” Adrian von Ziegler, from the album “Feather and Skull”, (2013)

Nothing in the history of mankind was smaller and more humble in its beginnings than the kingdom of heaven. It’s founder was born in a stable, in abject poverty. He grew up in poverty, and worked as a humble carpenter for the first  30 years of his life, unrecognized and completely unknown.

He completed his mission, the mission for which he came into the world, in only 3 years of preaching to poor people. His doctrine was so simple that even the unlearned peasants could understand it. His public life ended in his murder by the religious and civil authorities of his day.

When Jesus died the Church was established by a mere dozen ordinary men gathered about a humble peasant woman, Mary. But this tiny core grew with such vitality that in only a few years it spread into all the countries of the vast Roman Empire.

This growth, unfolding in spite of vigorous persecution, started in the hearts of the Virgin Mary and a few poor fishermen and unfolded over a few centuries into a gigantic tree, extending its branches into all regions of the globe, with people of every tongue and nation taking shelter in its shade.

Hilaire Belloc, by Emil Otto (‘E.O.’) HoppÈ, vintage bromide print, 1915

The Church is more than just a society of men. As Hilaire Belloc famously wrote:  “The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine—but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.”

Harsh sentiments indeed but a harsh truth withal. How is it than only one institution in the history of mankind has lasted through the millennia?

For example, (All Hail the mighty Wikipedia) we can trace one civilizational (is that a word?) line, the Mycenaean civilization  emerging in circa 1600 BC. Around 1100–1050 BC, the Mycenaean civilization collapsed. Numerous cities like Athens, Pylos, Thebes, and Tiryns were sacked and the region entered what historians see as a “dark age”.

During this period, Greece experienced a decline in population and literacy. Ancient Greece refers to a period of Greek history that lasted from this dark age to the end of antiquity (circa 600 AD). In common usage it refers to all Greek history before the Roman Empire. 

Traditionally, the Ancient Greek period was taken to begin with the date of the first Olympic Games in 776 BC, and the traditional date for the end of the Classical Greek period is the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, so roughly 4 or 5 hundred years (give or take a few hundred years) depending upon which “historian” one is following on any given day.

Roman Empire under Trajan ca 117 AD

Roman Empire under Trajan ca 117 AD

The Roman Republic and the mighty Roman Empire dates from about 500 BC (Republic) until 1453 AD (fall of Constantinople). The Roman Empire was the post-Roman Republic period of the ancient Roman civilization. , with large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, Africa and Asia.

The city of Rome was the largest city in the world c. 100 BC – c. AD 400, with Constantinople (New Rome) becoming the largest around AD 500, and the Empire’s populace grew to an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants (roughly 20% of the world’s population at the time).

The 500-year-old republic which preceded it was severely destabilized in a series of civil wars and political conflict, during which Julius Caesar was appointed as perpetual dictator and then assassinated in 44 BC. Civil wars and executions continued, culminating in the victory of Octavian, Caesar’s adopted son, over Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC and the annexation of Egypt.

Octavian’s power was then unassailable and in 27 BC the Roman Senate formally granted him overarching power and the new title Augustus, effectively marking the end of the Roman Republic. The imperial period of Rome lasted approximately 1,500 years compared to the 500 years of the Republican era. The first two centuries of the empire’s existence were a period of unprecedented political stability and prosperity known as the Pax Romana, or “Roman Peace”.

Anyway, the point of that little history lesson about the typical chaos of human affairs in all societies, institutions and civilizations is to illustrate the passing nature of even the most robust human efforts.

With only a little mental effort, in some other alternate history where human civilizations are less fragile and less prone to collapse, we can imagine us still speaking ancient Greek “Mycenaean” in an everlasting Mycenaean world civilization, or maybe some ancient Chinese tongue in another “time line”.

And of course, the chaos of “modern times” points to ever increasing self-destructive imperative as we become more “advanced and more efficient” in our killing and destruction of each other.

What is different about the Church, the mystical body of Christ? What’s different is that the Church is more than merely a society of men, but rather a society of men who have for their Head, Jesus, the son of God; the Church is the whole Christ, that is, Jesus and the faithful incorporated in Him, and forming one Body with Him.

Occam’s Razor   points to the simplest, most likely, explanation, that being that the Church is in fact NOT a human institution.

Later,

Joe

Patience and charity in all things …

 

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The Inner Struggle

Seeking Truth …

Inner Thoughts”  Rodrigo Rodriguez, from the album “Inner Thoughts” (2006)

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre

Mgr Lefebvre writes: ” … in the false religions, certain souls can be oriented towards God; but this is because they do not attach themselves to the errors of their religion! It is not through their religion that these souls turn towards God, but in spite of it!

These religions … can keep some sound elements, signs of natural religion, natural occasions for salvation; even preserve some remainders of the primitive revelation (God, the fall, a salvation), hidden supernatural values which the grace of God could use in order to kindle in some people the flame of a dawning faith.

C.S. Lewis writing at his desk

C.S. Lewis writing at his desk

C.S. Lewis writes (in The Last Battle):  “… He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. …  I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. … Dost thou understand, Child?

I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I also said (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek”.

Fr. Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalene, O.C.D.

Fr. Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalene, O.C.D.

In “Divine Intimacy“, by Fr. Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalene, O.C.D. , writes: ” … The soul is never alone in its efforts to attain union; God goes to meet it, giving it His helping hand and drawing it to Himself by means of the holy inspirations which enlighten its mind and the interior touches which inflame its will.

These inspirations and divine touches are none other than the actuation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, by which God directs the soul and works within it, first to purify and dispose it for union, and then to unite it effectively to Himself by love.

It is most consoling to consider that this wealth of divine help enters into the normal course of the development of the life of grace, and hence is encountered even in the ordinary way of holiness. This is the heritage which God has prepared for every soul, provided it is generous in giving itself to Him.”  Fr. Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalene, O.C.D. , Copyright 1953 Monastero S. Guiseppe – Carmelitane Scalze, (Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Rome), 2014 edition.  meditation 363 “Divine Assistance” pp 1063.

That is the point of this post. That these holy inspirations and divine touches are the heritage which God has prepared for every soul, provided it is generous in giving itself to Him. All souls are loved by God and all souls can aspire to divine unity and heaven regardless of their faith or lack thereof, so long as they are willing to surrender their self worship for the worship of God and submission to the will of God.

Cheers

Joe

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.(Matthew 11:28–30)

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The Inner Struggle

Go And Sin No More … coattails again …

“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)

Fr. Hunwicke

Fr. Hunwicke

Back a couple of years ago I wrote and quoted from other sources to the effect that “Liberalism is a sin“.  The following quote is from a post on Fr Hunwicke’s blog , about the dangers of Liberalism, which I stumbled upon while studying the modern corruption of the Latin phrase “argumentum ad hominem”. On that front, just in passing, I touch on a big boo-boo in modern discourse, at least in some circles.

The notion that “argumentum ad hominem” somehow equates in English to  “A personal attack”, as found commonly in current usage across a spectrum of pseudo-intellectual pontifications by players indulging in personal and maliciously slanderous attacks on those who disagree with them, all dressed up as if they were a legitimate logical argument.

The current notion is that “ad hominum” is not a legitimate debating technique because it is “just a personal attack” and in our current moral quagmire we are expected to accept that morality or even the notion of right and wrong are nothing more than personal opinions and views and all such views are equivalent.

I have always abominated bullies and especially those of any stripe or occupation who attack the innocent from their respective podiums and pulpits whilst hectoring their captive audiences. It does not follow that the individual with the loudest bully pulpit defines what is truth and what is good or even that they are automatically on the side of the angels. (see “Useful Idiots” in a previous post)

“Argumentum ad hominem” is defined by Locke as “Pressing a man with the Consequences of his own Principles or Concessions.” … that is to say pointing out to or otherwise leading the man (or woman) with whom one is debating into understanding the logical fallacy of the mutually exclusive principles which they may have just enunciated in the debate, in consequence of which they must either change one or the other or both principles or simply surrender the point in order to retain any debating credibility going forward.

At least, that is what I understand it to mean, however, gentle reader might favor the modern corruption, or as I have said before, your mileage may vary. After all, “I don’t care about your damned facts, Joe, I just want to have a pleasant conversation with my friends”.

Anyway, here is the quoted material, a quote from Fr. Hunwicke  containing a quote from Blessed John Henry Newman, on Liberalism …

Blessed John Henry Newman

Blessed John Henry Newman

“When (Blessed John Henry) Newman received the biglietto signifying his elevation to the rank of Cardinal, he made a speech which has often been quoted; and I am going to quote it yet again and not least because it beautifully enunciates the essential continuity of his life as a Catholic with his years as an Anglican.

But, at the end, I wish to draw attention to a very important realisation of Newman’s which is not so often quoted or appreciated. So here he goes:

For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. … the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily.

It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are a matter of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy. …

As to Religion, it is a private luxury which a man may have if he will; but which of course he must pay for, and which he must not intrude upon others, or indulge in to their annoyance.”

[Note the deft, almost imperceptible skill – so characteristic – with which Newman points to us the paradox that this ‘liberalism’ is itself a doctrine, an imposed and inexorable dogma. But it is his next observation which, I feel, gives us tremendous material for thought; when he adds that:]

There is much in the liberalistic theory which is good and true … justice, truthfulness, sobriety, self-command, benevolence ….’

Cardinal Farrell

Cardinal Farrell

[Ah, we incautiously surmise, Liberalism isn’t too bad after all; he admits that Liberalism has its Good Side. But no. Newman has tricked us. He is playing exactly the opposite game. In the spirit of the argumentum ad hominem, he is about to pounce. Let us watch carefully, and analyse, how the cat jumps.

Remember that in his earlier years Newman had been preoccupied with the concept of Antichrist. At the heart of this biblical notion, there is a realisation that the greater an evil and the closer it comes to Ultimate Evil, the more sumptuously the Enemy adorns it with rags and tatters of the good and the true and the noble. An error will be so much more dangerous precisely because it has been made to look so beautiful. So … Blessed John Henry goes on:]

“There never was a device of the Enemy, so cleverly framed, and with such promise of success.”

Snap! Gotcha!

“Despite its superficial charms, indeed, because of its apparent beauties, Liberalism is diabolical, a trick of Satan.”

Cardinal Kasper

Cardinal Kasper

There is a great warning for us as we, more than a century later, face the devices of the Enemy in our own time.

Just one modern example of this will be enough for today: our blessed Lord did not say to the woman in the Johannine pericope de adulteraGo; and sin some more“.

Whenever, whoever, decks out encouragement or tolerance of adultery in nobly coloured biblical garments, whether ‘Mercy’ or any other scriptural tags, we know that the Spirit of the Antichrist is abroad.”

Cheers

Joe

with patience and charity for all …

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Of Trolls and False Believers …

“Àki”, Rodrigo Rodriguez, from the album “Inner Thoughts” (2006)

Even as thou seekest the truth, the truth that thou seekest thou shalt find.  So finding a relevant post while considering the mocking commentary of the trolls whenever I include some portion of “Divine Intimacy” in my posts I herewith re-post from Fr. Hunwicke’s site:

*****

Continuing to consider Archbishop Lefebvre’s book, from my own background in Catholic Anglicanism, I discern in it more than a whiff of that admirable Anglican Ulsterman, C S Lewis. Not that Archbishop Lefebvre, I am sure, will have read him; but because first-rate Christian thinkers so often, laudably, converge.

Take a particular tricky theological problem: explaining how souls rooted in a false religion may find their way to God, without asserting – or leading others to think you mean – that all religions are more or less as good as each other: ‘syncretism’ or ‘indifferentism’.

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre

Mgr Lefebvre writes ” … in the false religions, certain souls can be oriented towards God; but this is because they do not attach themselves to the errors of their religion! It is not through their religion that these souls turn towards God, but in spite of it! Therefore, the respect that is owed to these souls would not imply that respect is owed to their religion”.

And: ” … these religions [he has just mentioned Islam and Hinduism] can keep some sound elements, signs of natural religion, natural occasions for salvation; even preserve some remainders of the primitive revelation (God, the fall, a salvation), hidden supernatural values which the grace of God could use in order to kindle in some people the flame of a dawning faith.

But none of these values belongs in its own right to these false religions … The wholesome elements that can subsist still belong by right to the sole true religion, that of the Catholic Church; and it is this one alone that can act through them”*.

I think this is admirably expressed, and it reminds me strongly of the penultimate chapter in Lewis’s The Last Battle. A young Calormene, brought up in the worship of the false god Tash, meets the Lion Aslan, the Christ-figure in Lewis‘s rich narrative. “Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days, and not him. …

But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash.

He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reason of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true … that thou and Tash art one?

The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. … Dost thou understand, Child?

I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I also said (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek”.

*****

Note: “…these religions [he has just mentioned Islam and Hinduism] can keep some sound elements, signs of natural religion, natural occasions for salvation; even preserve some remainders of the primitive revelation (God, the fall, a salvation), hidden supernatural values which the grace of God could use in order to kindle in some people the flame of a dawning faith.”

Truth-teller:

Truth-teller: At a time when intellectual fashion was on the Left, historian Robert Conquest had the guts to lay out, in devastating detail, the truth about the blood-soaked Soviet experiment

But what is one to find in the worship of self and the corollary deprecation of all others of all religions which might kindle a “flame of dawning faith”? What can one find in Atheism, the ultimate worship of self, which might kindle the “flame of faith” in the Divine?

Back in the day, there was a term in use in some quarters which precisely described those who sincerely believed a ideology or philosophy which was empirically provably wrong. That term was “useful idiots.

Robert Conquest was the principle proponent of of this “Useful Idiot” terminology to describe the “Brights” of his day.

“In 1968, when Worcestershire-born Conquest first published his ground-breaking account of Stalin’s atrocities, the world was a very different place.

Back then, the Soviet Union appeared in rude health and the old men in Moscow ruled an empire based on fear. It is easy now to forget just how terrifying the Cold War (WW III) seemed. Across the Western world, many (including most in the military) doubted Communism could be defeated without unleashing nuclear Armageddon.

The Trudeaus and Castro

The Trudeaus and Castro

What is more, many Western intellectuals — from Marxists such as Communist historian Eric Hobsbawm and his friend Ralph Miliband (a political theorist at the London School of Economics, a devout follower of Marx and an unswerving believer in revolutionary socialism) (and coincidentally one of Pierre Eliot Trudeau’s professors during PET’s time at the London School) to woolly, well-meaning Lefties in universities across the country — were quick to defend the (Soviet) regime whenever it was criticised.

Lenin and Stalin, these ‘useful idiots’ claimed, had been much misunderstood. It was Conquest, more than any other writer of his generation, who did most to expose this deceitful drivel.”

*****

So too in the spiritual realm, the “Useful Idiots” uphold the narcissistic adoration of self as the “ultimate good” and consider man as the pinnacle of all things.

These poor benighted souls are the useful idiots of the spiritual world, those unknowing followers of the dark one, the “Father of Lies”, who has existed for all of man’s history and never ceases to strive to drag all souls down to his realm of darkness.

Perhaps one of the best  portrayals of how this process works in the spiritual realm is C.S.Lewis’s book: The Screwtape Letters” .

The principle tenant of the doctrines of communism, socialism, fascism, secularism, and all the currently fashionable “isms” of the progressives is that man is the measure and pinnacle of all things, in other words “self worship”.

This is THE fundamental plank of the platform, the defining characteristic of all secular progressives and a defining characteristic of all those who mock believers of every stripe, lumping all who do not share their religion of self worship into the single pot of “those superstitious fools”, not the enlightened elite like “We Brights” who have put aside the “crutch” of religion.

This “crutch” is in reality a “life-ring” in a sea of desolation, and this action by the worshipers of self is a blessing for traditional religious believers, namely all those who believe in a Supreme Being above man, because:

“… The immediate action of creatures, especially if their malice has a share in it, makes it more difficult for us to discover the divine hand. A greater spirit of faith is necessary here, that we may pass beyond the human side of circumstances, the faulty way of acting of such and such a person, and find, beyond all these human contingencies, the dispositions of divine Providence, which wills to use these particular creatures, and even their defects and errors, to file away our self-love and destroy our pride. …

This mockery of the “Brights” strikes directly to the roots of pride in ourselves, our attachment to esteem and the respect of others, hence the blessing in such mockery. Our attachment to the things of this world must be ripped up root and branch and replaced with attachment to God.

Cheers

Joe

patience and charity in all things …

 

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Self Regard …

Inner Thoughts”  Rodrigo Rodriguez, from the album “Inner Thoughts” (2006)

So much of what I wrote, back three years ago when I started this blog, now seems petty, trite and selfish, considering the  following:

” … Let us consider how great a spirit of faith (is) necessary to accept from the hand of God all the circumstances which afflict and humiliate, contradict and mortify us.

It will sometimes be easier to accept heavy trials which come directly from Our Lord, such as illness and bereavement, than other lighter ones where creatures enter into play, and for which, perhaps, we experience greater repugnance.

The immediate action of creatures, especially if their malice has a share in it, makes it more difficult for us to discover the divine hand. A greater spirit of faith is necessary here, that we may pass beyond the human side of circumstances, the faulty way of acting of such and such a person, and find, beyond all these human contingencies, the dispositions of divine Providence, which wills to use these particular creatures, and even their defects and errors, to file away our self-love and destroy our pride. … ”

“If you wish to see how far your love of esteem for God has reached , examine your conduct, and try to discover the ultimate motive of your preoccupations, fears, desires, and joys; if this motive is not God, but creatures, your own interests and satisfaction, you ought to acknowledge humbly that you have not yet succeeded in esteeming God above all things; for you weigh “in the balance against God that which … is the greatest possible distance from God” (St. John of The Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel, I, 5,4).

Searching your heart more deeply, you will see that you frequently place on the same plane your will and the will of God, your tastes and His good pleasure, your interests and His glory, your convenience and His service.

Furthermore, although in theory you protest that you esteem God above all things, in practice you very often give the preference not to His will, desires, and interests, but to your own, and that is why you fall into so many imperfections.”

from “Divine Intimacy“, by Fr. Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalene, O.C.D. , Copyright 1953 Monastero S. Guiseppe – Carmelitane Scalze, (Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Rome), 2014 edition.  pp 1027 & 1043-1044.

Cheers

Joe

“where there is true love of God, there enter neither love of self nor that of the things of self” (St. John of The Cross, Dark Night of The Soul, II, 21, 10)

 

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Passive Purification …

Inner Thoughts”  Rodrigo Rodriguez, from the album “Inner Thoughts” (2006)

Fr. Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdelen

Fr. Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalen

“… God generally purifies souls through the ordinary circumstances of life. In the life of every Christian, every apostle, every religious, there is always a measure of suffering sufficient to effect the purification of the spirit.

These are the sufferings which God Himself chooses and disposes in the way best suited to the different needs of souls; but, unfortunately, few profit by them because few know how to recognize in the sorrows of life the hand of God who wishes to purify them.

Illness, bereavement, estrangement, separation from dear ones, misunderstandings, struggles, difficulties proceeding sometimes from the very ones who should have been able to give help and support, failure of works that were cherished and sustained at the price of great labor, abandonment by friends, physical and spiritual solitude — these are some of the sufferings which are met with more or less in the life of every man (and woman), and which, we will find in ours.

Mother Angelica

Mother Angelica

We must understand that all such things are positively willed or at least permitted by God precisely to purify us even to the very inmost fibers of our being. 

In the face of these trials, we must never blame the malice of men, or stop to examine whether or not they are just; we must see only the blessed hand of God who offers us these bitter remedies to bring perfect health to our (eternal) soul. …”

fromDivine Intimacy“, by Fr. Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalene, O.C.D. , Copyright 1953 Monastero S. Guiseppe – Carmelitane Scalze, (Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Rome), 2014 edition. Passive Purification, pp 1026 -1027.

As mentioned previously, I can’t say enough good aboutDivine Intimacy“. 

It is available at EWTN. Mother Angelica really loved this Carmelite work on meditation and used it for over 50 years. http://www.ewtnreligiouscatalogue.com/Home+Page/SPECIALTY/Mother+s+Favorites/DIVINE+INTIMACY.axd

and at Baronius Press  https://www.baroniuspress.com/book.php?wid=56&bid=48#tab=tab-1.

Read it daily. Save your soul.

It greatly behooves the soul, then, to have patience and constancy in all the tribulations and trials which God sends it, whether they come from without or from within, and are spiritual or corporal, great or small. It must take them all as from His hand for its healing and its good, and not flee from them, since they are health to it.”  St. John of the Cross, (Living Flame of Love, 2, 30).

Cheers

Joe

few profit by (suffering) because few know how to recognize in the sorrows of life the hand of God who wishes to purify them

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The Inner Struggle

Ordinary Life …

Anduril, Howard Shore, LOTR, (2003)

” … In ordinary life, true love is manifested in willingness to do what pleases the person loved; in conforming oneself to (their) desires, tastes, and will, not willing anything which could displease (the person loved). ” (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. from the book “Divine Intimacy” pp 1011).

Considering this statement in relation to my ordinary life … I believe that one could make a solid case for the position that the only persons for which I feel “true love” in ordinary life are “me”, “myself”, and “I”.  Looking around at the fabric of society it is apparent that every human relationship seems to be more or less “transactional”.

Is life really just a dynamic real-time cost-benefit analysis involving friend or foe, my team or the other team? Is my/our approach to relationship simply a multi-factorial analysis of “What’s in it for me?”

And if this is the situation “on the ground” so to speak, what about God? If I examine myself attentively I see that my will is very dissimilar to the will of God. God wills only the good, and he wills it in the most perfect manner.

I, on the other hand, often will evil along with the good, and I often lack the strength to actually do the good that I will. And most of the time I am only imperfectly aware of this lack of strength and of my failure to conform to the will of God.

Every time I commit a fault I desire something that God cannot will … so much for “Love of God”. Slothfulness, negligence, impatience, anger, subtle or not so subtle seeking of self, of esteem, of affection, pride, egoism, presumption, self-assurance.

As long as my will desires that which is not conformed completely to the will of God I do not walk in the love of God.

This self examination thing, this honest regard of the image in the mirror of the self is truly “めんどくさい” (mendokusai)” in  Japanese, which translates as – “troublesome” or “bothersome”.  I still find behaving myself with charity and mercy and listening to the voice of God, and conforming myself to the will of God to be troublesome and bothersome. Not easy to put into practice even though I will the good.

The broken sword of honest self-regard, and self discipline must be reforged for battle … Ad Aeternitatum.

Cheers,

Joe

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

All Souls, All Men and Women Everywhere …

Inner Thoughts”  Rodrigo Rodriguez, from the album “Inner Thoughts” (2006)

November is the month of all souls …  a month dedicated to prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. There is a longstanding tradition in the Catholic Church, dating back more than a 1000 years and rooted in Jewish tradition going back even further to pray for the souls of the deceased.

How did this tradition come about and why is it still important today?  This is a good time to remember some words of wisdom about souls … about the Pope and the Catholic Church … and the rest of us … and loving one’s enemies …

Joseph Ratzinger - Pope Benedict XVI

Joseph Ratzinger – Pope Benedict XVI

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

After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council. Eventually, the idea of the givenness of the liturgy, the fact that one cannot do with it what one will, faded from the public consciousness of the West.

In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word.

The pope’s authority is bound to the Tradition of faith. … The authority of the pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition.”
Joseph Ratzinger in The Spirit of the Liturgy

so the Pope is not the “Top Dog” he is simply another man and what makes him human would be a soul …

Hilaire Belloc - by Emil Otto ('E.O.') HoppÈ, vintage bromide print, 1915

Hilaire Belloc – by Emil Otto (‘E.O.’) HoppÈ, vintage bromide print, 1915

The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine—but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.”
-Hilaire Belloc

… and the knavish imbeciles would be souls …

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A commentary on “Government” and “the Masses” … (I suppose that would be us? All souls, every one of us.)

Albert Jay Nock wrote in Our Enemy The State”  – Everyone knows that the State claims and exercises [a] monopoly of crime … and that it makes this monopoly as strict as it can. It forbids private murder, but itself organizes murder on a colossal scale. It punishes private theft, but itself lays unscrupulous hands on anything it wants, whether the property of citizen or of alien.

Alfred Jay Nock

Alfred Jay Nock

There is, for example, no human right, natural or Constitutional, that we have not seen nullified by the United States Government. Of all the crimes that are committed for gain or revenge, there is not one that we have not seen it commit – murder, mayhem, arson, robbery, fraud, criminal collusion and connivance.”   Albert Jay Nock, from Our Enemy, the State

But “Government” is not a monolithic entity, it is rather composed of a multitude of little individuals all more or less “doing their duty” and they are All Souls

And in another quote from an article published in Atlantic Monthly in 1936, Albert Jay Nock opines on the qualities of the common man, the masses as he calls them  …  about “the masses“:

… In the year of King Uzziah’s death, about 740 B.C., the Lord commissioned the prophet Isaiah to go out and warn the people of the wrath to come. “Tell them what a worthless lot they are.” He said, “Tell them what is wrong, and why and what is going to happen unless they have a change of heart and straighten up. Don’t mince matters. Make it clear that they are positively down to their last chance. Give it to them good and strong and keep on giving it to them.

Antonio Balestra - The Prophet Isaiah

Antonio Balestra (1666-1740) – The Prophet Isaiah

I suppose perhaps I ought to tell you,” He added, “that it won’t do any good. The official class and their intelligentsia will turn up their noses at you and the masses will not even listen. They will all keep on in their own ways until they carry everything down to destruction, and you will probably be lucky if you get out with your life.” 

Isaiah had been very willing to take on the job – in fact, he had asked for it – but the prospect put a new face on the situation. It raised the obvious question: Why, if all that were so – if the enterprise were to be a failure from the start – was there any sense in starting it? “Ah,” the Lord said, “you do not get the point.

All Saints ...

All Saints …

There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it.”

Apparently, then, if the Lord’s word is good for anything – I do not offer any opinion about that, – the only element in Judean society that was particularly worth bothering about was the Remnant. Isaiah seems finally to have got it through his head that this was the case; that nothing was to be expected from the masses, but that if anything substantial were ever to be done in Judea, the Remnant would have to do it.

A woman lights a candle on the grave of her relative before praying at a cemetery during the observance of All Souls Day in Dhaka, Bangladesh November 2, 2016. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

This is a very striking and suggestive idea; but before going on to explore it, we need to be quite clear about our terms. What do we mean by the masses, and what by the Remnant? As the word masses is commonly used, it suggests agglomerations of poor and underprivileged people, labouring people, proletarians, and it means nothing like that; it means simply the majority.

The mass-man is one who has neither the force of intellect to apprehend the principles issuing in what we know as the humane life, nor the force of character to adhere to those principles steadily and strictly as laws of conduct; and because such people make up the great and overwhelming majority of mankind, they are called collectively the masses.

The line of differentiation between the masses and the Remnant is set invariably by quality, not by circumstance. The Remnant are those who by force of intellect are able to apprehend these principles, and by force of character are able, at least measurably, to cleave to them. The masses are those who are unable to do either. …”

and the Masses and the Remnant both are All Souls …

Now, I have always both enjoyed Albert Jay Nock’s piece and at the same time have been troubled by it, because we are ALL souls, and I just don’t believe that the Lord writes folks off because they don’t meet some transient human standard of character, ability, and discernment.

“Àki”, Rodrigo Rodriguez, from the album “Inner Thoughts” (2006)

Rex Murphy

Rex Murphy

Here in Canada we are used to being routinely insulted and dismissed by our “betters” in high office and we are routinely expected to obsequiously kowtow and bow and scrape  and generally just be nice when treated in this way, after all,  we are just “the masses” and Canadian masses at that, eh?

Lately we were all ridiculed in public by  our new Governor General,  Julie Payette, (appointed by the drama coach and in office for about a month now), and all courtesy of her  bright big brain persona and her personal religious beliefs namely Atheism and Scientism.

Rex Murphy reports in the National Post  as follows: “Delight in one’s own intellectual capacity is a delusion both frequent and foolish (ouch!), and the desire to have others share in that rapture is almost always a disappointment.

That we are all partisans for our own opinions is of course a truism, as is the consideration that opinions, particularly political ones, many times follow just as much from temperament as from reason.

Governor General Julie Payette, by Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press

Governor General Julie Payette, by Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press

There is no Ideal Reasoner, and the truth of some questions is always a quarry and never a capture. That is why our finest sages, present and past, have always counseled against certitude, and cautioned that when we are most certain of something is precisely the time we should go over our sums.

Our recently minted Governor General, in one of her inaugural appearances, has been very quick off the mark to make her declarative presence known.

She gave a talk at a science conference this week, a speech notable for its confident strength of assertion and readiness to pronounce determinatively on matters large and trivial, and which was unfortunately inflected with a tone of condescension that will do little to buttress the appeal of the mainly ceremonial office she now inhabits.”

*****

Just in passing, I note that in spite of all the fondly held opinions and beliefs regarding the efficacy of science and the silly superstitions surrounding the concept of “God”, I have not heard any reports that NASA and the Brights have yet created life, or anything else, for that matter, in fact they have not even found any signs of life anywhere that their limited talents can take them. Oh yea, we are definitely “the masses” … including all our elected and appointed progressives currently running the asylum.

*****

As Chris Selley writesand “the chorus of defenders who took to social media on Thursday, including many who are generally very conservative about what a GG should and shouldn’t say. What she said was empirically true, they argued, and what’s more she’s a scientist! Why shouldn’t a scientist, appointed as the Queen’s representative in Ottawa, take the odd jab at the two-thirds of benighted Canadians who believe in God (per Angus Reid in 2015), and the 53 per cent who believe God is “active in this world.” Someone’s gotta tell ‘em, right?”

and we are all souls, no matter what some of us would like to believe …

Plato bust ...

Plato bust …

Now, as Mr. Nock writes, Isaiah’s testimony to the character of the masses has strong collateral support from respectable Gentile authority. Plato lived into the administration of Eubulus, when Athens was at the peak of its jazz-and-paper era, and he speaks of the Athenian masses with all Isaiah’s fervency, even comparing them to a herd of ravenous wild beasts.

Curiously, too, Plato applies Isaiah’s own word remnant to the worthier portion of Athenian society; “there is but a very small remnant,” he says, of those who possess a saving force of intellect and force of character – too small, preciously as to Judea, to be of any avail against the ignorant and vicious preponderance of the masses.

But we are all souls … regardless of our personal beliefs, mere thoughts in the mind of God in the eternal now.

*****

I wonder what Mr. Plato would think of Julie Payette, or even Drama Coach Justin Trudeau, for that matter? “Ravenous wild beasts”?

*****

Still more of the quote from Mr. Nock:  “The picture which Isaiah presents of the Judean masses is most unfavorable. In his view, the mass-man – be he high or be he lowly, rich or poor, prince or pauper – gets off very badly. He appears as not only weak-minded and weak-willed, but as by consequence knavish, arrogant, grasping, dissipated, unprincipled, unscrupulous.

The mass-woman also gets off badly, as sharing all the mass-man’s untoward qualities, and contributing a few of her own in the way of vanity and laziness, extravagance and foible. The list of luxury-products that she patronized is interesting;  … in another place, Isaiah even recalls the affectations that we used to know by the name “flapper gait” and the “debutante slouch.”

Alphonse Karr

Alphonse Karr

It may be fair to discount Isaiah’s vivacity a little for prophetic fervour; after all, since his real job was not to convert the masses but to brace and reassure the Remnant, he probably felt that he might lay it on indiscriminately and as thick as he liked – in fact, that he was expected to do so. But even so, the Judean mass-man must have been a most objectionable individual, and the mass-woman utterly odious.”

*****

plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

Not a pleasant picture at all … hmmmm. and still … all souls

On the other hand we have:

“Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busy-body, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil.

Marcus Aurelius - was Roman emperor from 161 to 180,

Marcus Aurelius – was Roman emperor from 161 to 180,

But I who have seen the nature of the good that it is beautiful, and of the bad that it is ugly, and the nature of him who does wrong, that it is akin to me, not only of the same blood or seed, but that it participates in the same intelligence and the same portion of the divinity, I can neither be injured by any of them, for no one can fix on me what is ugly, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him, For we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth.

To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away.”

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book Two.

all souls

and:

No man is an island, entire of itself. Our lives are involved with one another, through innumerable interactions they are linked together. No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone. The lives of others continually spill over into mine in what I think, say, do , achieve.

And conversely my life spills over into that of others: for better or for worse.So my prayer for another is not something extraneous to that person, something external, not even after death.  In the interconnectedness of Being, my gratitude to the other – my prayer for him – can play a certain part in his purification”

Pope Benedict XVI “Spe Salvi” 

all souls …

I wonder (figuratively speaking of course) which attitude, Justin’s and Julie’s, or Benedicts’s and Marcus Aurelius’s, has a better outcome? Which evolves into a better, more positive, more loving society, a culture of positive rather than negative lenses. 

Cheers

Joe

Tell one person that you love him or her. Forgive the person who insults and ridicules you. All of them.

They are all souls.

 

 

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Politics and Economics, The Inner Struggle

Values …

I have long opined that when you reward bad behaviour you get more of it … whatever the definition of “bad” is.

I just finished reading another article by Randall Smith which I would like to pass on. I think it makes an extremely important point about our society and culture at this time.  Randall B. Smith is the Scanlan Professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. His most recent book, Reading the Sermons of Thomas Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide, is now available at Amazon and from Emmaus Academic Press. the rest of his articles are here.

Here is a short excerpt:

*****

I attended an amazing conference the other day at the Catholic University of America of the sort one never expects to find these days – that is to say, with actual diversity. Talks by academics mixed with those by business people, some from small businesses and others from large corporations. The former CEO of Home Depot and Chrysler was on a panel, as was a guy who graduated a few years ago from Franciscan University Steubenville who provides rental housing in New York. Then there was an impressive Muslim man from MIT who figured out how to get cell phones and cell phone service to 12-million people in Bangladesh when everyone told him it couldn’t be done. I can barely get cell phone service on my own phone. Guys like this astonish me.

Just to give you a sense of how odd this gathering was, we heard back-to-back interviews with Charles Koch (yes, that Charles Koch) and Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect for the Vatican Council for the Promotion of Human Development. Each man made his case respectfully before an audience of attentive listeners, including a large number of university students who sat quietly and listened respectfully to both men without charging the stage. At a university! I know; it’s crazy.

Charles Koch and a Roman Catholic cardinal from the Vatican: now that’s something you’re not going to see at Harvard, Princeton, or Yale for a whole host of reasons. So kudos to Catholic U., the Busch School of Business, and the Ciocca Center for Principled Entrepreneurship for pulling it off.”

*****

Read the rest here.

Cheers

Joe

 

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