The Inner Struggle

Father, Into thy Hands …

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

The Death of Jesus
see also: (Psalm 22:1-31; Matthew 27:45-56; Mark 15:33-41; John 19:28-30)
44And it was almost the sixth hour; and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. 46And Jesus crying out with a loud voice, said: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. And saying this, he gave up the ghost.

47Now the centurion, seeing what was done, glorified God, saying: Indeed this was a just man. 48And all the multitude of them that were come together to that sight, and saw the things that were done, returned striking their breasts. 49And all his acquaintances, and the women that had followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things. Luke 23: 44-49

In “The Better Part” page 778, Fr. John Bartunek writes: “At the very moment of His apparent defeat our King begins to enjoy the abundant spoils of His eternal victory — the allegiance of loving hearts. The centurion, who had overseen Christ’s whole condemnation, torture, mockery and expiation, opens his heart with an act of faith; he becomes a soldier of Christ.

The bystanders, who minutes before had been laughing and berating, repent as they stumble home. His friends and followers stand gazing at their Lord, unable to turn away from this horrendous scene, which has become beautiful to them and has changed their hearts forever.

Joseph of Arimathaea, a member of the Sanhedrin, risks his own reputation  as he publicly defies the enemies of Christ and pays homage to his crucified Lord.

The women of Galilee show their fierce and constant fidelity, obeying the Law while they also obey the law of love by preparing spices to anoint their beloved Jesus.

As much as the powers of darkness tried to shatter once and for all the Kingdom of Christ, his followers continue to serve him, like iron filings that keep converging on a magnet. Love — Christ’s  love — is stronger than death.

Christ teaches us how to die. “Now the centurion, seeing what was done, glorified God, saying: Indeed this was a just man.” Death will come for each of us. It is one of the few things the future holds that we can be absolutely sure of.

And yet we spend precious little time considering it and preparing for it. Christians are not meant to be obsessed with death, but neither should they join the swelling ranks of those who frantically distract themselves from this simple truth.

What is worth defending? What is worth living for? What is worth dying for?  In a nutshell? People … the folks … because they are intrinsically valuable and worthwhile as individuals and as a group. and, for the most part, utterly defenseless. They are so defenseless that they don’t even know that they are defenseless. They are, in this aspect, like sheep.

Make no mistake about it … there is evil out there … there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy! Eight years in the Military and ten years in the Corrections Service teaches one the reality of evil people.

But evil is nothing more than the “absence of good”, and therein lies a whole world of hurt. We struggle daily to discipline and control all the little “orcs’s” of our souls, to actively choose “the better part”.

In any manifestation of evil the underlying or sometimes overt aspect of evil, the “dead” giveaway, is how the actors value and treat ordinary people, the very people whom Christ died to save . In each and every instance without exception the manner in which any person, organization or ideology treats ordinary people is the hallmark of which side they fall on. And no matter what the mental and rhetorical gymnastics the perpetrators go through there are ONLY two sides. You are either on the side of our Lord, and the Angels, or on the side of the Demons.

There is no middle ground. Even refusing to choose, denying that there is a choice is merely to choose self indulgence and everything that that implies. There are no votes of “Present”, no option to “Abstain”, in real life. There are only two forces in the universe who have died for you – Jesus Christ, and the soldiers, airmen, sailors, police and peace officers and all the rest of the pointy end sheepdogs who put it all on the line for the sheep every time they go to work.

Jesus Christ died for your soul, the rest died to make it possible for you to accept Christ’s offer in freedom, peace and safety. Mission impossible? Maybe … 7 And will not God revenge his elect who cry to him day and night: and will he have patience in their regard? 8 I say to you, that he will quickly revenge them. But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth? Luke 18: 7-8

Certainty of death. Small chance of success. What are we waiting for? Gimli, son of Gloin, LOTR, (2003)

Cheers

Joe

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

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The Inner Struggle

Older and Wiser …

“The Wind Of Liudao”, Jia Peng Fang, from the album “Faraway”, (2002)

Once a soldier, always a soldier“… Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and though we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; 

One equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” Tennyson, “Ulysses“.

Just how do we get from “… not to yield.” to “tired old men”?  From a previous post I recap:

What are our fondest desires, in fulsome pride? Self-Will, to be Esteemed, Loved, Extolled, Honored, Praised, Preferred, Consulted, Approved, Understood, Visited … pretty much covers the entire gamut …

What are our deepest fears? To be Humiliated, Despised, Rebuked, Calumniated, Forgotten, Ridiculed, Suspected, Wronged, Abandoned, Refused … again, pretty much covers the entire gamut of human fears, and yet, and yet …”

When the sum of all our fears grind out the anticipation of our fondest desires … desires forgotten in the mists of the past, crowded out by the realized fears, is that what produces “old and tired”? And yet …

Saint John Paul the Great (1920-2005)

Saint John Paul the Great (1920-2005)

Lord, what I once had done with youthful might,
Had I been from the first true to the truth,
Grant me, now old, to do — with better sight,
And humbler heart, if not the brain of youth …

and

The soul’s dark cottage, batter’d and decay’d,
Lets in new light through chinks that Time has made;
Stronger by weakness, wiser, men become
As they draw nearer to their eternal home.
Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view,
That stand upon the threshold of the new.

Love will not backward sigh, but forward strain
On in the tale still telling, never told. …

from: The Diary of an Old Soul, by the Scotsman, George MacDonald (1824–1905)

Gandalf the WhiteIt is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.” Tolkien, “The Return of the King

Honor, Faith, loyalty, competence, pride, selflessness, integrity, courage, discipline, sacrifice,  tradition,  virtues to live by. The virtues we strive to live by, for better or for worse, in sickness or in health, onto death or the end of the world in spite of everything the world throws at us in it’s effort to deny life.

The thing that all of these virtues or qualities have in common at their root is they are all about “Giving”  to others. Giving away what we have and are for the benefit of others, even unto death.

To develop these “characteristics” one has to live them, repeat them, over, and over, and over, until the repetition ingrains them so deeply into every cell of our being that thought never enters into it. it just IS the way you live, as natural as breathing.

Aristotle makes this point about the virtues in general, with courage as one of the virtues he addresses. As he notes in his Nicomachean Ethics, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.

For Aristotle, the key to virtuous behavior (to include courageous behavior) is habituation. We have to habituate ourselves to facing fear and reacting courageously. A great deal of military training focuses on exactly that — the formation of certain military virtues through repetitive training.

Pool of WorshipThe corollary is, of course, that choosing self indulgence also becomes ingrained. We become what we do. “Giving” to others or “Taking” from others for ourselves are the two sides of the coin. We choose what we become.

It is so simple that few acknowledge it, because to do so would mean having to take responsibility for our lives. Not being responsible has become, in our modern culture, literally a “get out of jail free” card. We can do and demand whatever we want and if anyone tries to stop us or hold us accountable THEY are the bad guy.

Honor and loyalty are kind of like a religion, a part of our religion. It is a religious experience.  It’s a belief in the standards, values, morals of an organization and an adherence to them, [but] . . . it’s not a mindless adherence. . . .

Duty, honor, sacrifice: You have a duty, and by properly executing your duty you cause an honor to be associated with yourself,  your profession and your beliefs. “Now do I swear fealty and service to my Lord, to speak and to be silent, to do and to let be, to come and to go, in need or plenty, in peace or war, in living or dying, from this hour henceforth, until my Lord release me, or calls me home, or the world’s end“.

Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always,even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for?”William J. Bennett – in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997

People are worth defendingWhat is worth defending? What is worth living for? What is worth dying for?  In a nutshell? People … the folks … because they are intrinsically valuable and worthwhile as individuals and as a group. and, for the most part, utterly defenseless. they are so defenseless that they don’t even know that they are defenseless. They are, in this aspect, like sheep.

Make no mistake about it … there is evil out there … there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? 8 years in the Military and 10 years in the Corrections Service teaches one the reality of evil people. Evil is nothing more than the “absence of good”, and therein lies a whole world of hurt.

In any manifestation of evil the underlying or sometimes overt aspect of evil, the “dead” giveaway, is how the actors value and treat ordinary people. In each and every instance without exception the manner in which any person, organization or ideology treats ordinary people is the hallmark of which side they fall on.

Jesus in the WildernessAnd no matter what the mental and rhetorical gymnastics the perpetrators go through there are ONLY two sides. You are either on the side of the Angels, or on the side of the Demons. There is no middle ground. Even refusing to choose, denying that there is a choice is merely to choose self indulgence and everything that implies. There are no votes of “Present”, no option to “Abstain”, in real life.

There are only two forces in the universe who have died for you – Jesus Christ, and the soldiers, airmen, sailors, police and peace officers and all the rest of the pointy end sheepdogs who put it all on the line for the sheep every time they go to work. Jesus Christ died for your soul, the rest died to make it possible for you to accept Christ’s offer in freedom, peace and safety.

Cheers

Joe

You are either on the side of the Angels, or on the side of the Demons. There is no middle ground.

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The Inner Struggle

Spirit/Soul … Outside Time & Space

Gandalf StudyLast post we established the case for the generally accepted existence of the soul/spirit as a partless whole existing outside time and space. Probably this post will be easier to understand if you read the previous post first, to which I linked above.

“Mother Of Sorrows”, Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles, from the album “Lent At Ephesus”, (2014)

It appears to me that the first necessary step to understanding reality is to accept and totally embrace the existence of our soul and to adopt, as our natural view of reality, the soul’s view of reality. Essentially we have to embrace living in our material shell as a soul, occupying the shell and looking at and thinking about the material plane as a soul … which is actually what we really are.

Souls, occupying no space, do not exist within material reality. What we mean by this is to say, that souls exist outside the material universe filled with material beings and lots of “stuff” which is made up of agglomerations of parts as discussed in the previous post.

It is necessary to become comfortable thinking about everything from the point of view of our soul, which is in no dependent way connected to the material universe in which our parts reside, but rather to begin to routinely, as a matter of habit, look at all material things from “outside” so to speak. Only in this way can we start the process of detaching our “self” from the material existence that the “self” has lead throughout our material life.

We are told that God is a “Spirit” and it seems that the only way to approach intimacy with God is to understand and accept reality as “spiritual”.  We can only approach the “spirit” God” as “spirit” persons. As long as our total reality is centered in the material universe as the only reality, we experience extreme difficulty detaching from the things of this world and a concomitant difficulty growing closer to God.

When material parts are regarded from a perspective outside material reality, from a soul’s point of view, a spirit’s point of view, the material parts are rendered less essential to existence and less essential to reality. The parts, the worldly goods all become merely unessential artifacts, experiences and feelings which become easier to set aside since they are no longer the center of our physical universe and are merely observed to exist in the physical plane.

When material reality is observed from outside the material plane, as a spirit observes the material universe, objects in that plane become dramatically less important than when the material is the center of our existence and the essential center of our lives. When the self identifies itself with it’s material possessions and it’s status in the material plane it is hugely difficult to “give up the stuff”.

None of the “stuff” has anything to do with God and it fills up that place in us which God would like to fill, in fact, asks us to fill with Him.

This train of thought has been on my mind now for months. These ideas are only now starting to coalesce into a coherent structure which is why I am writing all this down now.

More to follow as more develops and appears on my mental white board …

Cheers

Joe

coptic-desertAlways remember, “Be charitable in your judgements, and never take yourself too seriously”.

 

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