“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)
The Light of the World …
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, “I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing”; and knowest not that thou art the wretched one and miserable and poor and blind and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold refined by fire, that thou mayest become rich; and white garments, that thou mayest clothe thyself, and that the shame of thy nakedness be not made manifest; and eyesalve to anoint thine eyes, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I reprove and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21 He that overcometh, I will give to him to sit down with me in my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. Revelations 3:15-22
I have indulged in a couple of rants, in the last few posts. These rants are the result of giving into temptation, indulging in old passions, backsliding into old habits of thought and judgement and are not evidence of progress but rather sure evidence of regress, back into old sins, the temptations to which we struggle with every day.
We Catholics have the great good fortune of repenting and going to Confession (Reconciliation), and doing penance, and of knowing with certainty that we are forgiven, and we get to rise up and start the trek again, the trek to Divine Union. We are humbled by recollecting and saying our current sins; seeking forgiveness; and receiving, celebrating and confirming our liberation from sin. This spiritual transaction of confession prompts God’s forgiveness as well as his cleansing from the very source of the desire to sin.
Every person who believes in Christ can experience this freedom (confession and forgiveness). But it is our choice; God will not force a relationship on us. There is a beautiful depiction of Jesus as the light of the world in a painting titled The Light of the World by William Holman Hunt, a pre-Raphaelite artist, at Keble College, Oxford, and Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London.
Christ is knocking at a door just before dawn with light emanating from his head and from a lantern he is carrying. He appears to have been there for some time; the door to this soul’s house is overgrown with ivy and thorns and is encircled by a bat. There is no handle on the door from the outside; the door has to be opened from within. He waits …
At our door there is a knocking, we hear it, and we have difficulty making ourselves get up to answer the door. The knocking continues for what seems like a long time and it never stops. it gets louder or quieter as we turn to and fro from this world to eternity and back again. It gets quieter when we indulge our love of self and sin in our judgements and anger.
Jesus Christ, AD 0-33
Eventually we have to get up and answer the door or die in our sin for all eternity. We, perhaps, finally get up and go to the door and looking out we see Jesus sitting on the steps outside the door. He had been there a long time and is surrounded with a number of unopened gifts he had brought us.
Many of us who have made a commitment to follow Christ and have drunk deeply from his redemptive hand have trouble receiving all the goodness of God because we always know who we still really are.
Who ya gonna serve?
(material in the previous five paragraphs is excerpted and paraphrased to my own situation and perceptions, from “Is Reality Secular?: Testing the Assumptions of Four Global Worldviews“, by Mary Poplin (Veritas Books) (pp. 241). InterVarsity Press.)
So, that’s where my head is right now, and I am going to restate some truths, some cultural truths, or precepts that are at least 4 millennia old in the Judeo-Christian tradition, namely my Worldview, which seems to make sense of all the events in our world. These are the basic Judeo-Christian precepts related to reality and the existence and operations of evil in the world that Jesus and the early Hebrews, prophets and so on, taught:
We are all living in a fallen world (nature and humanity are in a fallen state).
Evil began when Satan, originally an angel who was created by God for good, wanted to take God’s place (the very thing with which he tempted Eve—“you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” Genesis 3:5).
Satan is God’s enemy but not equal to God.
Satan took one-third of the angels with him in his rebellion. There are not two equal forces in the universe, but rather a King, and a rebel … this is a civil war, not a battle between equals. Where we find ourselves is living in that part of the universe controlled by the rebels and their followers.
We are involved in a spiritual war between good and evil—a war not for or against people but against the spiritual powers that humans choose to serve.
We are always serving one or the other—good or evil; nothing is static and there is no neutral demilitarized zone.
Unable to affect God, Satan seeks to recruit and infect human beings, whom God loves, by using humankind for his rebellion.
Humans are made in God’s image and are special to God. The demons, the rebels, prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Though designed to be good, humans are given free will, which allows the possibility that human beings will choose to do evil.
The laws by which all creation was made prevail, both physical laws and human ones, and breaking them incurs consequences: “your sins have kept good from you” (Jeremiah 5:25).
Nature also groans and is affected by evil in part due to the sins of man.
There is far more good than evil in the world and far more chance that we will live today rather than die.
God works so that evil tends to destroy itself—falling into the pit it digs for others.
Evil is irrational. Evil “rationalizes” evil conduct in the interest of self love. In reality, it makes no more sense to be offended by Scriptural and Moral Truth than to be offended by gravity or the nuclear processes at work in the sun.
There are authorities (in heaven and on earth), and the moral condition of those authorities influences those under their authority.
There is an ultimate divine justice in eternity.
All of these precepts are covered in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but are drawn from history and the Judeo-Christian Tradition. there is a Divine Plan and we are a part of it, wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation.
“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)
In the previous post I remarked that “When I think about this (faith) I wonder that when we transcend the natural self centeredness of the human person, are we no longer just a human? Has God entered into our soul and rendered us “supernatural” in proportion to the vitality and strength of our faith?”
I noted that “St. Thomas Aquinas says “Faith is a habitual disposition of soul by which eternal life begins in us”. It is a “beginning of eternal life”.”
But, as mentioned, other thoughts arise. Have I changed in ways that mean I cannot worship God as well, because my self regard is actually stronger for that thought?
I do not believe that, but I look beyond my current view of things and wonder if this is dangerous. Am I just indulging in “being clever”? I think that any sentient entity is necessarily filled with contradictions. Another take on the faith question is that we are actually created to be faith filled as part and parcel of our human nature.
Rather than taking some consolation in feeling a little faith we perhaps should realize that we were created to be faith filled as fully developed humans … we were created to be filled with faith, and to lack faith in full measure is a sign that we are actually crippled humans, a sign that we are not fully human, not fully aware of our true nature, proto-humans, more like animals or creatures without souls, the less faith we have.
Rather than feeling “special” because we have found some small amount of faith we should understand that by faith we have moved a little way towards being “full” humans, not crippled travesties of what God designed, defrauded by the devil of our true nature and our true happiness.
And what is the unfortunate outcome of this historic fraud under which we cripples still labor?
The reality of a “faithless” life seems to be that we “the masses” (understanding myself, the “I” as a charter member of “the masses”) mostly wallow along in our immediate self-centric drama, dealing with all the unexpected natural fallout of making bad decisions.
And of course we are not responsible, are we? We spend huge effort blaming the unexpected outcomes on circumstances, or politicians, or evil “conspiracies”, or family, or our boss, or the media, or our landlord, or …. fill in your convenient A_ _hat of choice.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. BFF’s (Larry MacDougal/CP)
After all, any one who points out the reality of bad choices MUST be a rude and unlikable provocateur, which observation may well be exactly true, but their rudeness doesn’t change the truth or the reality.
I touched on the concept of the masses in a previous post a few years ago. What I am referring to is not the popular media caricature of the masses and the elite, the current religion of progressives everywhere, that the “masses” must be governed because they do not know how to look after themselves, its all “for their own good”.
No, I am in mind of the idea as written about by Albert J. Knock in his essay which first appeared in The Atlantic Monthly in 1936 under the title “Isaiah’s Job”.
“As the word masses is commonly used, (especially today in the early 21st century) it suggests agglomerations of poor and underprivileged people, laboring 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.”
Now, with this idea of the masses and the remnant in mind and given the proclivities of the modern progressive “masses”, it comes as no surprise that we have arrived at the social conditions and dilemmas we now face, so much more true today and more obvious than when Knock wrote his article early in the last century.
For a current example, we can see the new Premier of Ontario, Mr. Ford, just starting his Augean attempt to roll back the perversions of the previous government in Ontario. this is just the tip of the iceberg of chaos we know as Canadian Society.
The moral, social, civil, political chaos we have brought upon ourselves is the direct result of the disastrous tenet of faithless “private interpretation,” and its ugly stepchild, “secular humanist progressivism,” namely, all good and all truth is relative.
This proven fraudulent creed of self worship blesses the spiritual and moral disorder produced by Protestantism, New Ageism, Agnosticism, Atheism, Masons, Scientologists, Progressives of every stripe, and all the rest of the faithless flock.
It blesses this disorder with the gooey mental salve of “one religion is as good as another,” and its equally absurd corollary, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you lead a good life.”
As Fr. Sarda y Salvany states in the original edition of his book written in the late 19th century, “Protestantism is now a dead dog.” (Page 74 of the book). Even more so now in 2018 we can clearly see 23 distinct and authentic manifestations of the Catholic Church comprising the Latin Church and the 22 Eastern Catholic Churches all in communion with an unbroken history from Christ himself.
Looking out from that 2000 year old core of belief we see from the 16th century on a huge scattering as each man who rejected “Truth” started his own personal version of “truth” and pursued his own dream of what constituted “faith”, while conveniently dropping any requirements for “humility” and “obedience” without which virtues any faith is impossible..
The current landscape of culture and morality is now littered with the wreckage of virtually all the original mainstream Protestant sects and at present we can count 902 new sects including over 200 non-trinitarian sects, all of whom claim to have the one truth, and which arise and vanish like the leaves of summer.
Can they each and all be the unique sole purveyors of truth and light? Where can one start to find faith in this sea of differences?
It does seem a stretch when considered in the bright light of day through the lens of history with the wreckage mounting all around us.
And yet secular humanist progressivism still beats the drum in Protestantism’s defense. The social upheaval of our times, brought on by these false ideas, now demands acknowledgement of the death-knell of secular humanist progressivism.
We can no longer live with this rapid accretion of “new freedoms” and abandonment of the old order. We must reject these myriad errors in order to survive as a civilization.
For secular humanist progressivism in a society is like termites in a wooden house. They live off the house while it is still basically sound, saying all the while, “What harm do we do? The house still stands!”
But we know that the house of our civilization is getting progressively weaker as the termites, the secular humanist progressives increase and thrive, and at some point, in the not-too-distant future, the entire structure is going to collapse!
Progressive Public Relations Officer at a Press Conference
IMAO we are now there! Here in 2018 we are witnessing the slow motion demise of our culture and civilization, the long drawn out pathetic whimper as the life blood of truth drains away. The long train of history is slowly rolling over the cliff as the progressives argue about the color of the new seats in the dome car. Mordor is triumphant everywhere.
We need to begin the process of exterminating the secular humanist progressive vermin with large antidotes of real, logical truth, taken from the wellspring of all truth, the Divinely Revealed Religion—the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Faith (Nicene Creed : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicene_Creed .
Icon depicting the Emperor Constantine, accompanied by the bishops of the First Council of Nicaea (325), holding the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed of 381
No other medicine will do for what is otherwise a terminal case for all of us.
We are dieing of a terminal case of liberal leprosy, and the smiling face of the diseased elite try to re-assure us while the rotting corpse sloughs off the dead and dieing remnants of the past.
We are at the point where action is imperative. For our personal, earthly safety is at stake not to mention the vastly more important matter of the salvation of our souls.
But we can only act rightly if we know the truth and act in accordance with it. Truth matters. Actions have consequences. Bad beliefs produce bad outcomes.
Or is this all something different, just the latest chapter of the Never Ending Story … ? Are we really at that point at all?
Are we really being asked to fix all this, or are we actually being asked to just learn, in humility, with faith, how not to behave, because in the long game this world really doesn’t matter.
Qid hoc ad aeternitatem, indeed.
Anyone with a service record (vets) will understand that this collapse has all happened often in the past.
Read history. Learn from the past. Reality does not permit relativism to function unless it flourishes under the protection of the Legions.
But the progressives hate the legions because the legions represent all that they are not, everything they can never be, and everything they fear, namely Faith, loyalty, competence, pride, selflessness, integrity, courage, discipline, sacrifice, humility and tradition.
And when the progressives finally drive the legions beyond the walls then the civilization falls – any civilization – even today. So far we are still here … but … progressives come and go in every time and place.
In the Never Ending Story the world will always need faith, honor, loyalty, courage, integrity, discipline, sacrifice, humility, … and God’s legionaries.
God just keeps on giving us chance after chance to learn to live according to his will … it is up to us to take up the eagles and make it so.
“Deep Peace”, Bill Douglas, from the album of the same name, (1996)
As mentioned in my last post, are not all these special “problems”, my special problems, simply a manifestation of of my own “Love of self”? Alternatively, true “Love of others” is a way of accepting all these special “problems” if accepted with humility and meekness, without taking offense and building the castle of self love higher.
The little daily affronts and hurts offer an opportunity for refraining from claiming special victim status, and ceasing to worry about the fairness of life, and feeling sorry for myself. If I can accept each imagined hurt and slight and difficulty not as a personal attack, but as another “splinter of Christ’s cross” I might turn them into an occasion of grace rather than an occasion of sin.
Unfortunately, dawning awareness of my self love often seems to paralyze my trust and love of God. Pride jumps in and with the help and encouragement of my daily demons I repeat with Peter “Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Lk 5, 8).
It seems at times that the dawning awareness of sinfulness gives rise to awareness of another layer of sin, always the self turning back into itself and its “specialness”, a sin within a sin within a sin, rather like those nesting dolls the Russians produce, the Matryoshka or Babushka dolls.
This seems especially frequent when going through dark periods of struggle, temptation and difficulty, all of which throw me into agitation and confusion. This state of mind interferes greatly with any outpouring of my heart, any attempt to submerge myself and my worries in God.
So we come to humility … again … and my obvious lack of true humility … I have written about this here, and here.
At the risk of seeming repetitive I re-post a litany of humility because it seems overwhelmingly important on this summer morning.
From Wikipedia, (obviously it must be true of it is on Wikipedia, right?)
As usual, anything, any article, that is outside the progressive secular mainstream comes with a neat disclaimer regarding veracity as in: “This article does not cite any sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.“
But it seems that at least so far, no one has cared enough about humility to make a point of having this article removed from the Wiki. So here it is then”
“The following Litany of Humility is a Catholic prayer that the penitent be granted the virtue of humility.
Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val, (1865 – 1930)
This Litany is commonly attributed to Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930), Cardinal Secretary of State of the Holy See under Pope Saint Pius X, but there is little evidence of this.
C.S. Lewis attributed its composition to Cardinal Merry del Val in his March 1948 letter to Don Giovanni Calabria. Father Charles Belmonte, S.Th.D., a priest of the Opus Dei Prelature, who was inspired by the writings of the Cardinal, included it in a collection, the Handbook of Prayers (Studium Theologiae Foundation, Manila, 1986, and in a later edition, by Midwest Theological Forum, Chicago, US.) As editor, Belmonte wrote: “attributed to Card. Merry del Val”.
Subsequent copyists, jumping to conclusions, wrote simply: “by Card. Merry del Val”. (remember, attribution of motive reveals more about the attributer of motive than about those to whom he is attributing motives … just saying, this is one of those areas of sins within sins within sins …)
A “Litany to Obtain Holy Humility” was published in 1867 by “A R.C. Clergyman.” A version very similar to the version attributed to Cardinal Merry del Val was published in 1880, copyright 1879 and “translated from the French of the Fifth Edition.”
Clearly, the good Cardinal was simply using a lesser known, but already published prayer. The original author of the Litany of Humility seems to be lost to history, in the obscurity for which he prayed. SO SPEAKS THE ALMIGHTY WIKI!
Or it might be possible that great and holy minds think alike? I have remarked before that: “It seems a hallmark of Truth that it always believes and expects the best of others and acts accordingly. It also seems a hallmark of untruth that it always believes and expects the worst of others and acts accordingly.” My guess is that it all depends on what your starting assumptions are as to how you believe others will act.
Anyway, what is a litany?
A litany is a form of prayer with a repeated responsive petition, used in public liturgical services of the Catholic Church, and in private devotions of Her adherents.
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Make my heart like yours. From self-will, deliver me, O Lord. From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me, O Lord. From the desire of being loved, deliver me, O Lord. From the desire of being extolled, deliver me, O Lord. From the desire of being honored, deliver me, O Lord. From the desire of being praised, deliver me, O Lord. From the desire of being preferred to others, deliver me, O Lord. From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, O Lord. From the desire of being approved, deliver me, O Lord. From the desire to be understood, deliver me, O Lord. From the desire to be visited, deliver me, O Lord. From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, O Lord. From the fear of being despised, deliver me, O Lord. From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver me, O Lord. From the fear of being calumniated, deliver me, O Lord. From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, O Lord. From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me, O Lord. From the fear of being suspected, deliver me, O Lord. From the fear of being wronged, deliver me, O Lord. From the fear of being abandoned, deliver me, O Lord. From the fear of being refused, deliver me, O Lord. That others may be loved more than I, Lord, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may be esteemed more than I, Lord, grant me the grace to desire it. That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Lord, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may be chosen and I set aside, Lord, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may be praised and I go unnoticed, Lord, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may be preferred to me in everything, Lord, grant me the grace to desire it. That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Lord, grant me the grace to desire it. At being unknown and poor, Lord, I want to rejoice. At being deprived of the natural perfections of body and mind,Lord, I want to rejoice. When people do not think of me, Lord, I want to rejoice. When they assign to me the meanest tasks, Lord, I want to rejoice. When they do not even deign to make use of me, Lord, I want to rejoice. When they never ask my opinion, Lord, I want to rejoice. When they leave me at the lowest place, Lord, I want to rejoice. When they never compliment me, Lord, I want to rejoice. When they blame me in season and out of season, Lord, I want to rejoice. Blessed are those who suffer persecution for justice’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Attributed by many writers to: Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val, (1865 – 1930)
approach everything with patience, fraternal charity … and humility.
Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. The Divine Mercy of Jesus, also known as the Divine Mercy, is a Roman Catholic devotion to Jesus Christ associated with the reputed apparitions of Jesus revealed to Saint Faustina Kowalska. The Roman Catholic devotion and venerated image under this Christological title refers to the unlimited merciful love of God towards all people. Sister Kowalska was granted the title “Secretary of Mercy” by the Holy See in the Jubilee Year of 2000.
Sister Faustina Kowalska reported a number of apparitions during religious ecstasy which she wrote in her diary, later published as the book Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul. The three main themes of the devotion are to ask for and obtain the mercy of God, to trust in Christ’s abundant mercy, and finally to show mercy to others and act as a conduit for God’s mercy towards them.
Pope John Paul II, a native of Poland, had great affinity towards this devotion and authorized it in the Liturgical Calendar of the church. The liturgical feast of the Divine Mercy is celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Some members of the Anglican Communion also share its pious beliefs and devotions in an effort towards church renewal.
1“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.4And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)
21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”22And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (John 20:21-23)
The Hebrew word for peace, shalom (שׁלום)is derived from a root denoting wholeness or completeness, and its frame of reference throughout Jewish literature is bound up with the notion of shelemut, perfection.
Its significance is thus not limited to the political domain — to the absence of war and enmity — or to the social — to the absence of quarrel and strife. It ranges over several spheres and can refer in different contexts to bounteous physical conditions, to a moral value, and, ultimately, to a cosmic principle and divine attribute.
In the Bible, the word shalom is most commonly used to refer to a state of affairs, one of well‑being, tranquility, prosperity, and security, circumstances unblemished by any sort of defect. Shalom is a blessing, a manifestation of divine grace.
Christ Jesus, AD 33
36As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” (שׁלום) 37But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?39See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”42They gave him a piece of broiled fish,b43and he took it and ate before them. (Luke 24:36-43)
44Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”45Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,47and that repentance forc the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.48You are witnesses of these things.49And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:44-49)
“Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” Trust in the Truth … no matter how things appear to us in this world … trust in the Truth. “O my Jesus, supreme Goodness, I ask of you a heart so enraptured with You that nothing can distract it. I wish to become indifferent to everything that goes on in the world, and I want You alone, to love everything that refers to You, but You above everything else, O my God!” (St. Thomas).
Sins of the repertoire … I do not trust, and the catechism tells me “He becomes guilty: – of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor; – of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;”. Judgement and detraction are greatly facilitated when love of self and of the self’s opinions are coupled with caring about and being attached to everything that goes on in the world. I know better, right? Therefore I judge these others … bad, bad, bad, my bad. Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa.
3 …and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.4Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,6but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,a it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. 7“Woe to the world for temptations to sin!b For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! (Mathew 18:3-7)
So do not judge, do not assume to know intentions, or the disposition of another soul. Do not aid and abet the confusion, the temptations, by pontificating about that which one cannot possibly know, one’s opinion to which I am so attached … woe to the one through whom the temptation comes.
“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?
“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)
“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)
03:30AM … Silence, and unanswered questions, and doubts, and “Nacht und Nebel” or the modern variation, FUD, that is Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. Hiding … Why does talking about this make me uncomfortable?
Revisiting this particular train of thought to see if it takes me anywhere new, can I see any new peaks from the metaphorical dome car on the way through the Rocky Mountains of my mind?
7And the eyes of them both were opened: and when they perceived themselves to be naked, they sewed together fig leaves, and made themselves aprons.
8And when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in paradise at the afternoon air, Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God, amidst the trees of paradise. 9And the Lord God called Adam, and said to him: Where art thou? (Genesis 3: 7-9)
Where art thou? Things always seem grimmer after a relatively sleepless night … Where art thou … indeed … separated at birth … separated ourselves … broke with our creator … self inflicted wounds … will not serve … and death entered in …
Was there ever a time in human history when mankind was not completely mired in sin and evil? Was there ever a time in human history when mankind wasn’t playing “Russian Roulette” for pride and personal ambitions and frequently blowing his own brains all over the wall of life?
Cardinal Gerhard Müller
I find this inner struggle of developing spiritual awareness is frequently made more difficult by the reported antics of those charged with my instruction.
Is the error, my sin in this, my curiosity, that I seek after this reporting? Or perhaps is it that I deceive myself in believing that I somehow know what is right, is this all just my pride?
I don’t know, so I cling desperately to Cardinal Gerhard Müller’s explanation that this is simply a misunderstanding. Again and again, Cardinal Müller has been the victim of criticism in some Traddy circles. This, in Father Hunwicke’s view, is totally unjustified:
” … (Müller’s) stance on Amoris Laetitia is perfectly rational and it doesn’t need guarantees of its perfect orthodoxy. His is one way to skin a cat.
His Eminence Walter Brandmüller, President emeritus of the Pontifical Commission of Historical Sciences, His Eminence Raymond Leo Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, His Eminence Carlo Caffarra, Archbishop emeritus of Bologna (Italy), and His Eminence Joachim Meisner, Archbishop emeritus of Cologne (Germany)
The other skinning method is that of the Four Cardinals (the Dubia Cardinals – two of whom have since died); to seek a clarification which will put its orthodoxy beyond the doubt which they judge some prelates and some hierarchies have created.
Each Feline Modality is directly aimed at the affirmation of the same orthodoxy. Whether as a matter of fact there is ‘doubt’ about what AL teaches, is for individuals to assess.”
Or is the error in this distress, an error of my honest expectation that those who have devoted the entire course of their lives to this struggle for awareness should not have found meaningful examples and left trail blazes to guide me easily on my travel?
Or is this train of thought really just some sterile version of self-pity? This post started out as a momentary “what the heck” exclamation prompted by the latest “pontifications” emanating from the Vatican.
It seems that much of what comes out of Rome these days is a freeway to sin rather than guidance towards the good, that is, a preferred guidebook on the narrow path to Divine Intimacy.
Fear in Rome
I end up experiencing sadness instead of joy every time I wander into that neighbourhood. Continuous flashbacks to late 60’s early 70’s, and the chaotic fall-out from Vatican II.
Flashbacks to a time when, in my all-knowing youthful pride, I decided that I didn’t give a rat’s backside about the Catholic Church since they (the Curia) obviously didn’t know their own backside from a hole in the ground.
How can one reform “Truth”? Only “Not Truth” can be reformed, only “Not Truth” can give rise to “A New Paradigm”, a bureaucratic “Policy Change” with a new “Briefing Book” full of platitudes, half baked excuses and accusations.
So the post grows and grows with each new thought … again I am realizing that this spontaneous outpouring of angst is now around 5000 words and I’m still writing. Realizing, as when I first attacked this discomforting subject that it is just too long.
I have decided that this needs to be broken into multiple parts – again … like multiple therapy sessions on the couch … whoever is sitting on the chair behind my head must be VERY patient. Who knows, when we start, where the train of thought is going? Maybe it needs a disclaimer at the start of each part, or maybe a warning about toxic waste?
When the Scribes and Pharisees declared “better that one should die than that all suffer”, they were not talking about “all” the people, they were talking about all the entire crop of Scribes and Pharisees of that day …. they were talking about the “all” of themselves and the threat to their own power, pride and honor which Yeshua embodied.
Saint Teresa of Avila says “However slight may be our concern for our reputation, if we wish to make progress in spiritual matters we must put this attachment right behind us, for if questions of honor prevail we will never make great progress or come to enjoy the real fruits of prayer, which is intimacy with God.”
The Saint also says that concern for their honor is the reason why many people who have devoted themselves to the spiritual life, and are very deserving on account of many good works, are still “down on earth” and never succeed in reaching the “summit of perfection”.
They remain mired because they are so insistent on preserving their reputation, so extremely attentive to every small point, every minor rule and little detail, so strict or exact in the observance of the formalities or amenities of conduct or actions with regards to their station in life.
To paraphrase Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. from the book “Divine Intimacy”: Attachment to the things of this world, especially to our honor, is shown in all those large and small susceptibilities arising from our attitude that wishes to affirm our personality, hold onto the esteem of others and make our point of view prevail.
This attitude shows up in the various schemes, conscious and petty or not, to obtain and keep privileges and honorable positions where our own views, which we always think are good, will prevail. In this way we hope to make obvious our abilities, works, and our own personal merits which are always worthy in our own eyes.
So what does a country boy see out there in the “REAL” world? What are the “world problems” that I think might affect myself, my family and my life here in rural flyover country, what gets on the radar?
I am thinking about peace and conflict, and how I choose to drink at springs of peace or springs of conflict. After yesterday’s outburst of emotion, about observed events which I chose to observe and judge, courtesy of lots of folks with nothing to do but emote and “create content”.
“Wind of the Western Sea” Bill Douglas, from the album “Songs of Earth and Sky”, (1998)
Am I one of those “emoticons in suits”? Well, maybe an emoticon in Levis, and pretty thread bare Levis at that. No suits around here any more – that was all in a previous life, long, long ago. Don’t even have a tie anymore.
It’s 06:55 and the sun is coming up on a cool dawn. With quiet time for second thought, the truth is, there are not really any problems anywhere which directly affect my immediate life … my “real” world is full of beauty, and peace, waiting for room in my soul … if I make the time and make the room to just let it in, if I don’t fill it up with other stuff.
So, I pray for “Purity of Heart”, that purity that goes beyond simple passions and pleasures. Speaking of purity here I am intending to evoke the purity which not only implies an absence of sin but goes much further to invoke the absence of all earthly affections.
I think that is the scriptural sense of “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5,8), and with this Purity of heart, this directing of my entire capacity for affection and attachment towards God alone I may achieve clearer vision of my ultimate goal.
I get glimpses of the target but they are frequently obscured by the up-welling of my passions and self-love and I frequently loose sight of the path, and the world struggles mightily to re-establish dominance in my soul … and I fall … again …
“O Lord, give me right sentiments about You and grant that I may seek You with a simplicity of heart. My heart says to You, ‘I will seek Your face.’ When my heart seeks You, O Lord, it is Your presence it is seeking. Your home is where You dwell, and where do You dwell, if not in Your temple? My heart is Your temple: teach me how to welcome You there. You are a spirit, and I must adore You in spirit and in truth. Come into my heart, and all the idols shall fall.”
“Now I shall listen to Your voice and learn to long for You and to prepare myself to see You. Blessed are all who see You! And if they do see You, it is not because, while they were on earth, they were poor in spirit, or because they were meek or merciful, or because they mourned or hungered and thirsted after justice, but because they were clean of heart. Humility is good for attaining the kingdom of heaven; meekness is good for possessing the land; tears are good for receiving consolation; hunger and thirst after justice, for being filled; mercy is good for obtaining mercy; but only purity of heart permits us to see You.”
“My desire is to see You; what I desire is great, but it is You who tell me to wish for it. Help me to purify my heart, because what I desire to see is pure but my means of seeing it, impure. Come to me, O God, and purify me by Your grace; purify my heart with Your aid and strength. If I receive You into my heart during this present life, after my death You will admit me into Your presence.” (St. Augustine)
“Come, Holy Spirit, speak to my heart; or at least, if You wish to remain silent, may Your very silence speak to me, because without You I am always in danger of following my own errors and confusing them with Your teachings” (St. Bernard)
My last thought, in my last post was “Sitting under a tree, weeping, thinking … praying …” accompanying the above image by Hong Yi. I think the image is intended as “the Buddha sitting under the tree rather than as a self portrait – the source site is unclear.
My prayer would be something like “O Lord,because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful.” …
A GOES-13 satellite image captured at 17:45 UTC on January 2, 2014, depicting an ongoing blizzard across portions of the Ohio River Valley and the Northeast United States as cold air from Canada moves across warm air from the Gulf of Mexico
I purged over 4 thousand emails yesterday from assorted accounts. Found an item from my pre-blog era when I was busy annoying email contacts with long rambling emails about what was wrong with the world IMAO. Can’t hear myself think over the barking of my EGO.
So out of my personal Way-Back machine from the dark winter of 2014, back before I started my ranting in this blog … this monster rises from the slab of my Atelier …
A writer of great talent and no small amount of clarity regarding our daily grind and happily, at last call, still amongst the living, at least we are happy he is still around even though his mileage may vary, finding as he does that the Hoi Polloi for the most part do not share his sensibilities with respect to eternity. It sometimes seems to us that the Progressive idea of eternity is how long it seems between coffee breaks. But that for another day.
Anyway, he once remarked on ways to lose readers … mention church (and hell) … mention the poor … criticize a (any) Liberal Bureaucracy. And in a “Me Too!” sort of way I leapt on board his wagon.
The Church Militant …
On the topic of Church:
Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, in his Erasmus Lecture for 2014:
“If we ignore the poor, we will go to Hell. If we blind ourselves to their suffering, we will go to Hell. If we do nothing to ease their burdens; then we will go to Hell. Ignoring the needs of the poor among us is the surest way to dig a chasm of heartlessness between ourselves and God, and ourselves and our neighbours.”
Or the poor:
“This is so true that, it would seem, the opposite is also true. This is Christ’s dismissive reply to some liberal posturing from Judas, when He said, “the poor you will always have with you, but me you will not always have.” suggesting that if we ignore God, we will go to Hell.”
Or criticize a (any) Liberal Bureaucracy:
Ambassadors of … a Big Red Shiny …
“Our progressive society has programmized fraternal charity in a desperate ongoing attempt to sanitize and manage reality out of existence and has created the perfect system to facilitate ignoring our neighbours.
Enter the The Nanny State, queue marching bands … Big Red Shiny Maple Leaves Forever … long may they wave from Sea to Shining Sea … over the home of the brave and the land of the free lunch, in which daily we willingly participate, and which State provides us with a wonderful opportunity to ignore the poor, in our spare time while we are ignoring God full time.
The Pool of Worship …
After all, there’s not much time or room left for God when every waking moment of consciousness is totally focused on self worship. Said State even gives cover and plausibility deniability for the murder of any fellow inconvenient souls in the name of dignity and health care, at least until our turn comes … It allows every enfranchised taxpaying citizen to declare glibly, “I gave at the office.”
Meanwhile, the bureaucracy itself ignores the poor, reducing them to an economic transaction, within an administrative routine, whose heartlessness must be experienced, to be believed.
So what’s the point here? Who’s the target here? What are the goals which lead to the perpetuation of these heartless situations? What are the Brass Rings of goal, desires, and rewards of this life, this road, this set of choices for a secular self centered society?
REALITY CHECK FOR PROGRESSIVES: Not too many years ago I spent 18 months pushing the bureaucratic system strings to get a 50-something year old handicapped man enrolled into a program to assist the handicapped for which he had been manifestly qualified as a candidate for almost 50 years.
running Rachel …
Nobody cared enough to ever do anything about him. Because nobody cared, nobody helped, everybody thought somebody was looking after the poor handicapped nobody.
Then I got involved! WTF! Why has nobody ever done anything for this somebody? And even with myself, a motivated, talented highly vocal, champion working hard on his case, phoning and following up and visiting face to face, and – well you get my drift – it took a whole bloody year and a half to get get him enrolled in the program.
The government agency and program which existed solely to help people like this man was mired in requirements and vacant positions and proofs and every conceivable bureaucratic obstacle to prevent people from qualifying instead of helping them to qualify.
Truly, Truly, Heartless. The real goal of the managers and directors charged with overseeing these programs is to PREVENT candidates from qualifying because then you can preserve your budget for doing the things the management bureaucrats think are important. Actually Helping Candidates? Where’s the fun in that?
I’ve was told many times, over the years, by those infinitely my superiors, while working in Social “Services”, “Justice”, and “Health Care”, that the situation merely has to be properly “managed”. Heartless, the putative target of my self-righteous anger and judgement is the uncaring self centered bureaucrat and his/her self centered goals and objectives. But didn’t someone famous recently say “Who am I to judge”?
“Eternity’s Sunrise”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Eternity’s Sunrise”, (2000)
Lots of going to hell and pissing in other people’s soup in the above topics, BUT, IMAO, the ultimate fart in the elevator show stopper is to mention Man’s (or even worse – Woman’s) frailty, especially in a spiritual context:
Frailty from an old site called “Liturgy that Works” even thought some of the links therein seem to no longer work as they originally might have.
Let us pray (in silence) [that we and the whole church may be kept by God’s love]
“God of grace and goodness, you know that by reason of our frailty we cannot but fail; keep us always under your protection and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord who is alive with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever. Amen.”
New Zealand Prayer Book p. 571b
Glenstal Abbey House
The old monk was asked, “So what do the monks do here in this monastery?” To this he replied, “We fall, we get up. We fall, we get up. We fall, we get up.” It is a story just as applicable to ordinary Christian life. Another version has it ending with variations of “…one day we fall and we get up in heaven.”
For you Latin Scholars, this Gelasian Collect for Trinity 15 in the Sarum Missal(11th century) read, “Custodi, Domine, quaesumus, ecclesiam tuam propitiatione perpetua: et quia sine te labitur humana mortalitas, tuis semper auxiliis et abstrahatur a noxis et ad salutaria dirigatur.”
Cranmer translated this for 1549 (Epiphany 5) as:
“KEPE we beseche thee, O Lorde, thy Churche with thy perpetuall mercye: and because the frailtie of man without thee, cannot but fall: Kepe us ever by thy helpe, and leade us to al thynges profitable to our salvacion; through Jesus Christe our Lorde. Amen.”
An Irish Abbey …
The 1662 revisers restored “for all things hurtful” (lost again in the collect at the top):
“KEEP, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy Church with thy perpetual mercy; and, because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
International readers of this page may echo my surprise: I cannot find this collect revised in any Anglican prayer books except New Zealand’s! Do let me know if your province’s revised prayer book has it. Just when the church needs all the prayer it can get – as well as acknowledgment of our frailty!
Roman Catholics have this collect tucked away for Tuesday in the second week of Lent, where ICEL has it translated as:
“Lord watch over your Church and guide it with Your unfailing love. Protect us from what could harm us and lead us to what will save us. Help us always, for without You we are bound to fail. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”
The great roaring hairy EGO devouring all …
Our frailty, never more immediately obvious than in my own comments here, designed to provoke those who may not share my own views of reality and eternity. How does what I have said above conform to what I wrote on September 23rd, Saturday last.
Everything mentioned may be provably true but the focus is on the frailty of the undefined persons embracing the problems by ignoring them or just walking away, “Sniff …” obviously crass lower castes, every mother’s son of them. The great roaring hairy legged EGO strikes again.
So behold the position of man, with respect to the spiritual life, like a young childe who, finding himself at a fork in the road, cannot proceed alone and knows not which road leads to his home. Two roads lie before him, one leading to the kingdom of the spirit, the kingdom of God, and the other to the kingdom of this world, the kingdom of the flesh, of Mammon.
Which to choose, the calm peaceful kingdom of the spirit? I think we all inherently wish to choose the kingdom of God, but unfortunately the Kingdom of Mammon also has it’s attractions, and these attractions try to seduce us to their path. We struggle against these attractions and allurements, “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary one to another, so that you do not the things that you would.” (Gal 5, 16-24)
Oliver Ridge, 2016
So just where WAS I going with this? Oh yeah! Two Kingdoms, two paths, two realities, two universes, one centered on self and spiritual stagnation and the other centered on God and spiritual growth, and the choosing, Ah yes, the choosing … seems obvious when regarded at leisure, in calm thought, seems obvious, the path of Peace is rooted in humility, the path of Mammon is rooted in pride.
Pride in seeking the first place, at table, at meetings, the first place spiritually, the esteem of others, the regard of others, our self love always tries to make us take a higher place than that which is due us.
There is great harm and great evil in wishing to elevate ourselves above what we are and in preferring ourselves. And we choose the direction in which we proceed, and from these choices flow our joy or our unhappiness.
Last Days Of Summer, 2016
If we have trouble translating these ideas into real life then perhaps a tangible media example of this idea works for us, as portrayed in the film “Last Days Of Summer” which won a gaggle of prizes and critical recognition in late 2016. This Festival Circuit darling, produced by British born OLIVER RIDGE, appeared at the Whistler Film Festival.
Having taken the grand prize for best feature at the Rhode Island Film Festival, the acclaimed drama starring WILLIAM FICHTNER competed at the prestigious Canadian event.
And our point is: “The film tells the story of a suburban husband whose quiet life is turned upside down when he becomes obsessed with the beautiful young woman who moves in next door”. Obsessed with the things of this world, earthly affections, sensual pleasures, all the golden rings of our material society.
“The Beatitudes”, from the album “Biscantorat – The Sound Of The Spirit From Glenstal Abbey” – The Monks of Glenstal Abbey – (2009)
In the face of all that life has to offer, honors, satisfaction, affection of creatures, comforts and riches, the path of peace offers humility, to desire nothing more than what one has, even to give up what one has, not to be eager for riches and pleasures, consolations and fame, or any earthly affections and sensual pleasures. And we choose the direction in which we proceed, and from these choices flow our joy or our unhappiness.
Son rise …
The things of this world, the golden rings of our material society, do not occupy our soul nor cause it harm. The things of this world are neutral with regards to man.
But out of the will and desires of man spring all the evils and joylessness which plague our lives. When we remain attached to our own will and ideas, or remain too fond of our independence, we are “rich in ourselves”, in our self love and pride.
It seems to me that if we seek the affections and approval of creatures and the joys and satisfactions which they can give us, we find only increasing hunger for more.
We find unhappiness with what we actually get, and instead of satiation we get misery with what we find. And we choose the direction in which we proceed, and from these choices flow our joy or our unhappiness.
Choose Wisely, lest we be overwhelmed … (The Great Wave at Kanagawa (from a Series of Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji))
We choose … so choose wisely … so far I am trying to choose NOT to be critical of the choices of others, at least not vocally.
I am choosing NOT to preach about how I think things should be done (and why).
I am choosing not to express my annoyance when things are not going my way.
I am choosing, so far with mixed results, but lots of opportunities to try again keep showing up so I will keep on trying.
And praying … “O Lord,because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful.” …
This Purgatorial struggle to choose the right path, to choose to put away self and make room in my soul …
“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)
So many gifts …
“Even the poorest beggar, having nothing to give in return for the alms he has received, can always acknowledge a kindness by showing gratitude to his benefactor. … Yet this, a natural need of a humble soul, is a duty so often neglected even by good people, even by those who have received the most favors.” Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.
So much freedom …
We have received a plenitude of natural gifts, talents, circumstances, opportunities, freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from war, freedom from fear, freedom from gratuitous persecution.
Most of us have a reasonable expectation of good health, and a long life barring natural disaster or mischance. Or at least we did have these freedoms in the past before we and our fathers ceded away those freedoms in return for the empty promises of Napoleon the pig.
Freedom from fear …
In this culture we still have an abundance of economic opportunity—so much economic opportunity in fact, that it is more a case of choosing which opportunity to pursue, rather than desperately seeking just ANY old opportunity, and as Mark Manson says:
“there existed (in the Anglo West) an abundance of economic opportunity—so much economic opportunity that it became far more valuable to present yourself in a certain way, even if it was false, than to actually be that way. Trust lost its value. Appearances and salesmanship became more advantageous forms of expression”... trust lost it’s value, honesty lost it’s value, sincerity lost it’s value, gratitude lost it’s value …
Even under the current regime in Edmonton, and with the current economic climate we still have the luxury of looking for “appropriate” work rather than any work, and we don’t trust or appreciate anyone whilst getting ours first …. Why is Calgary a squalor of failing business (28 thousand a year at last count), while Edmonton is a thriving metropolis of growth and burgeoning government payrolls? Is there more fear in Calgary than in Edmonton? What do you see when you look around? What are we grateful for?
Freedom from want …
Yet, even here, in this global centre of resource riches, we have the poor. Jesus remarked “the poor will always be with you.” and so it is to this day. The programed poor, the working poor, the abject poor the handicapped poor, the psychologically poor, the spiritually poor, all are with us everywhere around us.
Often, in our busyness, our selfcenteredness, we don’t even notice those in need, those less well off, those who are losers in the lottery of life. When we look upon those all around us who have been gifted with less, even, in some cases, a lot less, then for all that we have been gifted we would think we should feel some need to express gratitude, shouldn’t we?
But we are also supposed to be, identified as, citizens of a womb to tomb nanny state which has promised everyone that all our “needs” will be met if we just acquiesce and faithfully follow our leader’s instructions. Following Napoleon’s instructions blindly, blindly, blindly …
Freedom of Speech …
Are all these things which we receive as gifts, the talents and circumstances mentioned above, are they received as gifts from the all powerful state? At some guaranteed minimum level we are promised free health care, free education, free housing, a guaranteed income sufficient to our basic needs, and so on.
So what about those talents and circumstances which provably don’t derive from our political and societal masters, which seem to spring from the human person in spite of the desires of our masters? Where do all those gifts come from? And if our masters truly are capable of meeting all our needs then how can there be poor people?
Freedom of worship …
In a society where even the least of it’s citizens are promised everything they need by their government what is there to be grateful for?
Unless there is something greater than the state, there really isn’t any reason to be grateful since everything we have is our due, and deserved, right?
What is there to be grateful for then, unless we look at the state’s relation to our talents and abilities.
The government line notwithstanding we are manifestly not created equal and there are great disparities of ability and talent and motivation within the bell curve of our population.
Even the notional IQ of 100 being considered “normal” for the purposes of program eligibility implies a tacit acknowledgement on the part of the state that some people are “more equal” than others. so what is one to make of this provable and acknowledged inequality of talent and ability.
Is there some higher source of those personal talents which we are born with, something beyond merely accident of birth, the lottery of genetics, and so on?
More on “Gratitude” in a future post …
So much to be grateful for … why do we throw it all away for a handful of glass beads and promises? Let the scouring begin.
“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)
20Then Job rose up, and rent his garments, and having shaven his head fell down upon the ground and worshipped,
21And said: Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: as it hath pleased the Lord so is it done: blessed be the name of the Lord.
22In all these things Job sinned not by his lips, nor spoke he any foolish thing against God. Job 1: 20-22
From Job 1: 20-22 Old Testament to Luke 22: 1-13 New Testament
The treason of Judas. The last supper. The first part of the history of the passion.
 Now the feast of unleavened bread, which is called the pasch, was at hand.  And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might put Jesus to death: but they feared the people.
 And Satan entered into Judas, who was surnamed Iscariot, one of the twelve.  And he went, and discoursed with the chief priests and the magistrates, how he might betray him to them.
 And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money.  And he promised. And he sought opportunity to betray him in the absence of the multitude.
 And the day of the unleavened bread came, on which it was necessary that the pasch should be killed.  And he sent Peter and John, saying: Go, and prepare for us the pasch, that we may eat.
 But they said: Where wilt thou that we prepare?  And he said to them: Behold, as you go into the city, there shall meet you a man carrying a pitcher of water: follow him into the house where he entereth in.
 And you shall say to the goodman of the house: The master saith to thee, Where is the guest chamber, where I may eat the pasch with my disciples?  And he will shew you a large dining room, furnished; and there prepare.  And they going, found as he had said to them, and made ready the pasch.
All is gift, and nothing have we here which we deserve or earn but by talents and abilities given us at birth by God the Father. And all that we earn is apportioned in goods of this world, all of which have their origin in God the Father. We do not create anything but rather are more or less talented manipulators of what the Creator made or set in motion.
St. Luke directs our attention to the actions and motivations of Judas Iscariot, and points out that Satan entered into Judas. Satan made use of Judas’ free will and his natural human propensity for self interest and evil.
All that follows is orchestrated by Satan using his “minions” and “useful idiots”. The conduct of the humans in this account and in the affairs in this world down through the ages reveals clearly what Satan desires.
Destruction, dissension, selfishness, suffering, dishonesty, suffering and misery, all the clear outcome of Satan stirring up all that is evil in the human heart.
And yet Christ has intimate and detailed knowledge of all that is to come, and Satan and humans, all creatures of the Father, have free rein because the omnipotent Father and the Son embrace that freedom in their creatures.
Satan and Judas freely decide to betray Jesus and Peter and John freely decide to obey Him. And all four of them equally prepared the Passover in accordance with God’s will.
C.S. Lewis calls these aspects “simple good” and “complex good”. The obedience of John and Peter is simple good, the good that comes out of the evil of Satan aided by Judas is a complex good, in other words good wrought by God out of the evil of mankind.
We are all of us faced daily with exactly this choice, to obey, or to disobey, and thereby choosing our path and the next set of choices we are faced with.
“It 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”
Do you ever do or say things that, on later thought, you are not real proud of? I can think of lots of things over the last 65 years or so. Saying I was sorry or made up for it or didn’t know any better or … whatever still doesn’t make them OK in my own estimation and I am very much self loving and self centered. How does it look to a loving Father to see His child behaving so badly?
Not real comfortable with yesterday’s post. Can’t take it back, but there it is, not comfortable with the actions and opinions of my yesterday self. Blogging has this good/bad side, in that you can reconsider what you have opined at a later date and no matter how hard you thought about it at the time, it comes about that later you may not feel that way or may see problems with your thinking, see the smart remark or acid image for what it really is, none other than a reflection on your own lack of charity and poor judgment. At the same time, having posted it one cannot deny that you thought and said it, can’t pretend to a personal superiority you don’t have.
Yesterday I posted a caustic image reflecting judgement upon some prominent people who I don’t really know at all, simply finding myself offended by their stated views I judge, and judge harshly. No only that but I share that judgement by way of this venue with other like minded viewers thereby compounding the harm that I do by my harsh judgements.
“Brothers, I want to send all of you away comforted today. So if you ask me my sentiment on the number of those who are saved, here it is: Whether there are many or few that are saved, I say that whoever wants to be saved, will be saved; and that no one can be damned if he does not want to be. And if it is true that few are saved, it is because there are few who live well.
As for the rest, compare these two opinions: the first one states that the greater number of Catholics are condemned; the second one, on the contrary, pretends that the greater number of Catholics are saved. Imagine an Angel sent by God to confirm the first opinion, coming to tell you that not only are most Catholics damned, but that of all this assembly present here, one alone will be saved. If you obey the Commandments of God, if you detest the corruption of this world, if you embrace the Cross of Jesus Christ in a spirit of penance, you will be that one alone who is saved.
Now imagine the same Angel returning to you and confirming the second opinion. He tells you that not only are the greater portion of Catholics saved, but that out of all this gathering, one alone will be damned and all the others saved. If after that, you continue your usuries, your vengeances, your criminal deeds, your impurities, then you will be that one alone who is damned.
What is the use of knowing whether few or many are saved? Saint Peter says to us, “Strive by good works to make your election sure.” When Saint Thomas Aquinas’s sister asked him what she must do to go to heaven, he said, “You will be saved if you want to be.” I say the same thing to you, and here is proof of my declaration. No one is damned unless he commits mortal sin: that is of faith. And no one commits mortal sin unless he wants to: that is an undeniable theological proposition.
Therefore, no one goes to hell unless he wants to; the consequence is obvious. Does that not suffice to comfort you? Weep over past sins, make a good confession, sin no more in the future, and you will all be saved. Why torment yourself so? For it is certain that you have to commit mortal sin to go to hell, and that to commit mortal sin you must want to, and that consequently no one goes to hell unless he wants to. That is not just an opinion, it is an undeniable and very comforting truth; may God give you to understand it, and may He bless you. Amen.”
Rather Sobering … not many “cheers” here.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free. In the end we are all free to choose whether to reject this world and all it’s temptations or acquiesce to the easy path. We choose to be free or to be slaves.
Continuing in my visit to “Finding True Happiness” by Robert Spitzer, PhD. The last post ended on the feeling of “cosmic emptiness”. We continue with “cosmic alienation”.
” …We may now consider cosmic alienation. Alienation from the vantage point of this world generally signifies “not having a place in” or not being “at home in” family, friends, workplace, community, or the culture. This sense of being an outsider not only brings with it “loneliness” but also an absence of worth or respectability — a sense of “not being welcome”.
Cosmic alienation has many of the same attendant feelings but does not arise out of “this worldly” contexts.
It is not unusual for people to feel perfectly at home with family, friends, community and culture yet still feel a pervading sense of not being at home or not being welcome, or being an outsider.
If they are reflective, they are likely to ask “Why do I feel a lack of acceptance or welcome, a sense of being left out in my own home, when I have a wonderful family and friends as well as an agreeable community and culture?”
They might notice that their feeling has a much more general context than the specific context of family and friends. “I feel out of sorts with everything, not at home with the totality of things, an outsider in the whole cosmos … they are at home in small and intimate contexts but not at home in the biggest context of all.
Atheistic existentialists would interpret this as yet another sign of the absurdity of life and the inevitably of despair… religious existentialists see this as God’s invitation to move more closely to our ultimate home — the transcendent, perfect and eternal home.
If we do not respond to this invitation,the feelings will persist and they can produce a sense of purposelessness, malaise, and cynicism about life. Yet these feelings need not do this, for they can incite us to search for the ultimate and the transcendent, which can lead us to our ultimate home.
Homeland, Bill Douglas, 2002
Hope you had a peaceful and happy New Years Eve and on into the coming year. Next post we look at cosmic loneliness …
Hobbiton, near Matamata, North Island, New Zealand