The Inner Struggle

Christ … Antichrist … Cold & Winter Storms (part 1)

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

Writing this on Friday morning … thinking about my life … of sin … and self indulgence, the places and times when self sacrifice was not in the ascendance. Lots of food for thought there, lots of decades of self. Lots of reasons for contrition and amendment. When and why did I start to diverge from the spirit of our times?

Outside my head, WOW! What a morning, quite in keeping with my state of mind! It’s cold here and snowing heavily, blowing also, about 6 inches down now and more coming, first snow since November 2017 and the first heavy snow of this winter.

Lots of shoveling now and probably all day, and making sure everything is cleared before folks start coming in, in an hour or so depending on how long it takes them to dig out and get their trucks running.

Finding crosses, suffering and sacrifice in the daily duties of our station in life, where God put us. Finding the will of God in the myriad minutia of the duties of my state in life.

Enough navel gazing for now, I have to start digging out, so I will stop writing for a while.

Wow, that day went fast, 12 hours later and it is still snowing, it’s about -10 degrees Celsius, that’s about 14 degrees Fahrenheit, but it is blowing harder and drifting now. I’m real glad there is no reason to be on the roads tonight or tomorrow. I bet there will be a lot of shoveling tomorrow. It’s a good thing we don’t open our doors until 10:00 AM on Saturdays.

Anyway, … the inner struggle … that’s what I was getting on about in this post. I have noticed that from time to time discussion arises and articles appear and the topic of the “Antichrist” comes up more or less frequently. “Antichrist” seems to be a favorite pejorative amongst certain groups, and it is at least as meaningful and helpful as “knuckledragger” and “Neanderthal” are amongst other groups.

I suppose the clique’s “group think” defines the pejorative favored, with one group seeing things in terms of good and evil and another group seeing things in terms of smart or stupid, the implication always being that “the other” is the bad one or the stupid one. At first blush, my reflexive reaction is “A pox on both your houses!” Upon further reflection I then find myself asking “What would Jesus do?” and then a bit further on “Does this bring me closer to God?”

Whenever the mudslinging starts, whichever gang starts slinging, it seems always to be in the context of some particularly egregious insanity or inanity, proposed or committed, by some other group or some powerful individual who is disagreed with, or some collection of individuals moving the narrative in a direction disruptive of the sacred views espoused by the narrator of the moment.

Alternatively, one specific public figure or another, George Soros, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Justin Trudeau,  Rachel Notley, Pope Francis, Cardinal Kaspar, Vlad Putin, Kim Jong-un, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,  even Barry Obama, … I mean … seriously … pick your favorite target to hate, you get my drift.

There are literally thousands, maybe even millions, of high profile people pontificating about their views, and what is wrong with the world, and what they are going to do about it.

Obama as Satan

Seriously folks … Obama as Satan … what Kool-Aid are you drinking?

When humanity starts to believe that there is no-one in charge, no one responsible for the “strategic” big picture things in life humans are very quick to turn to golden idols and self proclaimed messiahs.

And any self proclaimed messiah who is not our favorite choice receives a rising tide of speculative negative attention depending upon the day, or the tides, or the level of confusion, frequently along the lines of he/she/it must be the Antichrist.

Thomas Cranmer

Thomas Cranmer, 1489 – 1556

This is especially true if that individual is the target of vilification from many directions at once by many disenchanted narrators. These unhappy narrators, narrowly focused on preaching their own gospel, and defending their own position.

These vocal, “important”, narrators who have picked their chosen hill to die on, and are now understandably hungry, highly motivated to convince their followers, their power base, their meal ticket,  of the truth of their gospel.

They need someone to contribute, to “drop the offering in the collection plate”.  And the target demographic is comprised of some group or other or perhaps many groups, perhaps the equivalent of our modern notion of the “low information voter”.

These narrators do a dog pile on the chosen target, perhaps under the assumption that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. For example, along these lines for several centuries now, many Protestant writers and leaders have identified the Roman Catholic Pope as “The Antichrist”.

However that may be, over the centuries many folks have assigned the status of “Antichrist” to any number of other folks who were on their personal dirt list for any reason but mainly for political reasons. Claiming this seems to be nothing more than a desperate “Ad Hominum” attack when they have nothing factual or truthful, that is “substantive truth”, upon which to base their argument.

"What would Jesus do?"

“What would Jesus do?”

It’s all pride and personal ambition. My razor when reading these diatribes is to ask the questions: “What would Jesus do?” and “Does this bring me closer to God?”

I don’t see the Antichrist as an individual, it just doesn’t line up with my current personal  understanding of reality. Yes, there are outliers of evil and standout perpetrators throughout history, and these persons, these figures in history, seem to be fairly evenly distributed amongst all cultures and religions all over the world.

It appears to me that this sort of behaviour, this sort of personal “character” is more attributable to their sheer humanness than to any particular system of beliefs.  But from my point of view, I just don’t see the idea of “Antichrist” as a specific, living, substantial being, that is to say, one individual encompassing all evil and directing the whole thing as an articulated individual with a master plan.

Yes, we believe in Jesus Christ as the Head, in the Christian understanding. Given the obvious vagaries of human free will apparent in the world over time, it seems reasonable that there must then be, necessarily, the “not Christ” … the absence of Christ … the Antichrist.  I think so anyway, the “Antichrist” is the “Not Christ”, the absence of Christ. I think that the “Antichrist” is in effect “the mystical body of Satan”, in a kind of analog of “the Mystical Body of Christ” in the Christian Tradition.

I guess that some explanation might be necessary in understanding of the concept of “The Mystical Body of Christ”, within the context of Roman Catholicism. As most of my readers probably are aware, I am a Roman Catholic. That is the filter through which I understand reality.

My understanding of the Mystical Body of Christ is one of the real existence of a mystical union of all Christians into a spiritual body with Jesus Christ as their head. This belief grows, in our Tradition, from the New Testament and Christianity’s roots in Judaism.

In Christian Scripture, St. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and the Romans both use the image of a body, with a head that is Christ and many bodily members, with many abilities and talents, namely we Christian believers. The belief in the Mystical Body describes the relationship between Christ and Christians, namely the Head and the body of believers. Wow, it’s getting late … gotta go eat to keep body and soul together.

blizzard? by WizKids ...

When does a snow storm become a blizzard?

Well, now it’s tomorrow morning, Saturday, even colder now, still snowing, -21 degrees Celsius, that’s -5.8 Fahrenheit, and it’s blowing hard, driving the new snow into hard packed drifts.

When does a “Snowstorm” become a “Blizzard”? Maybe it’s when it is widespread, maybe the amount of snow, or the temperature, or the wind-speed, or perhaps even the dramatic license of the weather reporters? Who knows really what makes a snow storm into a blizzard.

Talking to customers yesterday and reports that an hour away in some directions they had no snow but three hours to the west everyone there and in between got lots of snow. Whatever … lots more shoveling today I guess, off and on, as circumstances permit and the demands of customers allow.

Well, another day just blew by in a twinkling of my eye. It’s Saturday night, time for bed, it’s -14 degrees Celsius, it’s still blowing and it’s still snowing lightly. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

More to follow on Christ and Antichrist and the spirit of the times …

Cheers

Joe

Putting away the roaring worship of the “Self” in all it’s manifestations … is the first step back towards a sense of sin, remorse, contrition and repentance …

 

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The Inner Struggle

Peace on Earth to Men of Good Will …

Sacrament of Tears”, Adrian von Ziegler, from the album “Mortualia”, 2012.

Like I was saying last post, not so much upset about the politics, and the economy, and all the media shenanigans, as I once was. All these happenings … they all seem so unimportant these days … a distraction … do they spark joy? Does this (whatever I am doing, or saying, or reading) bring me closer to God?

Wrote previously about Jesus ordaining His apostles Priests, and charging them with passing on the Truth and teaching the whole world … I have an understanding that any belief outside of what Christ taught is little more than human pride … pride healing the wounds of our self love, our self worship, interpreting truth to rationalize our pride in ourself.

Sincerely believing our delusion d0esn’t make it any less delusional. We think we know but we actually don’t even know what we don’t know. Our sincerity may render us less culpable but sincerity confers no veracity on error. When discovering a different collection of “truth” than that with which we are familiar we must choose whether to reject it arbitrarily simply because it is unfamiliar, or we can choose to investigate the truth with “good will”.

The angels brought to the shepherds near Bethlehem a message of “peace to men of good will“.  Our will is “good” when it is upright, docile, and resolute. Our will is upright when it is sincerely and entirely oriented toward good; our will is docile when it is always ready to follow every indication of God’s will; our will is resolute when it is prompt to adhere to the will of God, even though difficulties and obstacles arise, and sacrifices are required.

The Lord is continually urging us to generosity and abnegation in all the circumstances of our daily life, even in the smallest events. Only rarely in history is God’s will announced with great fanfare by heavenly hosts. Most often it comes to us quietly, in the silence, from unexpected sources and new discoveries, perhaps even new discoveries about things we feel we are very familiar with. And sometimes it is difficult because habit and the world resist change of any sort but especially change of cherished thoughts and certain beliefs.

Christ either rose from the dead and everything He taught is the absolute unchangeable truth, or He did not and we are the biggest fools in history, we Christians. So what will it be? True believers of Truth, or the biggest fools in history? Christ gave us the first priests and the sacraments of his church. After the resurrection Jesus appeared to His disciples:

21Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 21 – 23).

What Christ is talking about in this passage is the Sacrament of Reconciliation, also known as Confession. And, in another passage he speaks about forgiveness and mercy, we find, according to the Gospel of John, the Pharisees, in an attempt to discredit Jesus, bringing a woman charged with adultery before him.

Then they reminded Jesus that adultery was punishable by stoning under Mosaic law and challenged him to judge the woman so that they might then accuse him of disobeying the law. Jesus thought for a moment and then replied,

“He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.” The people crowded around him were so touched by their own consciences that they departed.”

When Jesus found himself alone with the woman, he asked her who were her accusers. She replied, “No man, lord.” Jesus then said, “Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.” Forgiven … by Christ …

23If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  Priests of Christ … in persona Christi… Forgiven … by Christ …

Forgiveness from a priest of Jesus Christ is necessary … In Persona Christi … if you (the priest “in persona Christi”) do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. We cannot “bestow grace on ourselves; it must be given and offered” and we cannot forgive our own sins, they must be forgiven by Christ … In Persona Christi …

It is uncomfortable to consider the Truth of this statement … to have to choose Christ’s instructions, Christ’s teachings, OR to choose our own pride, that is healing the wounds of our own self love. To choose, as my mother did, to die “unshriven” …,  means to refuse the last rites and the visit of the priest.

This was my mother’s stated choice because she refused to “confess her sins to some man” and God knew she was sorry for them, and she was sure that she was forgiven. She was not so sure about many things in life, but she was damned sure she didn’t need forgiveness, at least that is what she said. … “damned sure” …

I found this frightening because it seemed a little like treating sin and heaven like a lottery ticket – maybe she was right, but we are talking eternity here … we simply can’t know. Do we pass through the gates of death while spinning the Roulette wheel of eternity?

Likewise, only God knows where we are at this moment of death; no human creature knows. Who but God knows whether we reach perfect contrition at the moment of death or even when the moment of death is. Is a decision of such moment a reasonable opportunity for gambling?

We don’t know and certainly there is no man alive or dead who could say with ANY degree of reliability what is or is not required for forgiveness and even more importantly whether we will be forgiven or if those who have gone before are forgiven. Is this something we want to just leave up to chance?

Can we be perfectly sorry for our sins many, many times before our death? Who knows but that one might be conscious enough of our dying and asked God’s forgiveness with perfect contrition and sorrow? What are the odds that WE are that fortunate perfect soul who expresses and realizes perfect contrition for our sins and hence receives God’s own absolution and forgiveness without the intervention of a priest?

I don’t know. No one knows. This is why we continue to pray for the souls of the deceased since they are our friends and loved ones. Go to Mass often and offer the Sacrament of the Mass for those souls. Commit the souls of our loved ones to the Virgin Mother Mary and ask for her deliverance.

Take advantage of all possibilities (sacramental and otherwise) to gain a Plenary Indulgence for the departed souls. And with all this, trust those souls to the merciful arms of the Sacred Heart.

We simply don’t know how God blesses us and the departed souls. So, to me, it would appear that it is a better bet to trust Christ’s own instructions and seek out a priest in the confessional when one is confessing one’s sins and seeking absolution and forgiveness.

Cheers

Joe

Christ didn’t say “Go and try to be good.” He said “Go and sin no more.

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The Inner Struggle

What is Truth? Persona Christi …

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

Thinking a lot about Jesus Christ these days.  Not so much upset about the politics and the economy as I once was.

All these happenings … they all seem so unimportant these days … a distraction … do they spark Joy? Does this (whatever I am doing, or saying, or reading) bring me closer to God?

“No one at Calvary was consulting a book.”

(And no one at Bethlehem, either. There were no missals yet.)

And Jesus ordained His apostles Priests, and charged them with passing on the truth and teaching the whole world … Any belief outside of what Christ taught is little more than human pride … pride healing the wounds of our self love, our self worship.

Sincerely believing our delusion d0esn’t make it any less delusional. We think we know but we actually don’t even know what we don’t know. Our sincerity may render us less culpable but sincerity confers no veracity on error. When discovering a different collection of “truth” than that with which we are familiar we must choose whether to reject it arbitrarily because it is unfamiliar, or we can choose to investigate the truth with “good will”.

The angels brought to the shepherds near Bethlehem a message of “peace to men of good will“.  Our will is “good” when it is upright, docile, and resolute. Our will is upright when it is sincerely and entirely oriented toward good; our will is docile when it is always ready to follow every indication of God’s will; our will is resolute when it is prompt to adhere to the will of God, even though difficulties and obstacles arise, and sacrifices are required.

The Lord is continually urging us to generosity and abnegation in all the circumstances of our daily life, even in the smallest events. Only rarely in history is God’s will announced with great fanfare by heavenly hosts. Most often it comes to us quietly, in the silence, from unexpected sources and new discoveries, perhaps even new discoveries about things we feel we are very familiar with. And sometimes it is difficult because habit and the world resist change of any sort but especially change of cherished thoughts and certain beliefs.

*****

6“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! (Mathew 18 – 6-7).

Christ either rose from the dead and everything He taught is the absolute unchangeable truth, or He did not and we are the biggest fools in history, we Christians. So what will it be? True believers of Truth, or the biggest fools in history? Christ gave us the first priests and the sacraments of his church. After the resurrection Jesus appeared to His disciples:

19On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 19 – 23).

*****

What Christ is talking about in this passage is the Sacrament of Reconciliation, also known as Confession. And, in another passage we find according to the Gospel of John, the Pharisees, in an attempt to discredit Jesus, brought a woman charged with adultery before him. Then they reminded Jesus that adultery was punishable by stoning under Mosaic law and challenged him to judge the woman so that they might then accuse him of disobeying the law.

*****

Jesus thought for a moment and then replied, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.” The people crowded around him were so touched by their own consciences that they departed. When Jesus found himself alone with the woman, he asked her who were her accusers. She replied, “No man, lord.” Jesus then said, “Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.” Forgiven … by Christ …

*****

23If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  Priests of Christ … in persona Christi… Forgiven … by Christ …

Forgiveness from a priest of Jesus Christ is necessary … In Persona Christi … if you (the priest “in persona Christi”) do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. We cannot “bestow grace on ourselves; it must be given and offered” and we cannot forgive our own sins, they must be forgiven by Christ … In Persona Christi …

it is uncomfortable to consider the Truth of this statement … to have to choose Christ’s instructions, Christ’s teachings, OR to choose our own pride, that is healing the wounds of our own self love.

To choose, as my mother did, to die “unshriven” … to refuse the last rites and the visit of the priest, because in her pride she refused to “confess her sins to some man” and God knew she was sorry for them, seems a little like treating sin and heaven like a lottery ticket – maybe she was right, but we are talking eternity here … we simply can’t know. Do we pass through the gates of death while spinning the lottery wheel of eternity?

Likewise, only God knows where we are at this moment of death; no human creature knows. Who but God knows whether we reach perfect contrition at the moment of death or even when the moment of death is. Is a decision of such moment a reasonable opportunity for gambling?

We don’t know and certainly there is no man alive or dead who could say with ANY degree of reliability what is or is not required for forgiveness and even more importantly whether we will be forgiven or if those who have gone before are forgiven. Is this something we want to just leave up to chance?

Can we be perfectly sorry for our sins many, many times before our death? Who knows but that one might be conscious enough of our dying and asked God’s forgiveness with perfect contrition and sorrow? What are the odds that WE are that fortunate perfect soul who expresses and realizes perfect contrition for our sins and hence receives God’s own absolution and forgiveness without the intervention of a priest?

I don’t know. No one knows. This is why we continue to pray for the souls of the deceased since they are our friends and loved ones? Go to Mass often and offer the Sacrament of the Mass for those souls. Commit the souls of our loved ones to the Virgin Mother Mary and ask for her deliverance.

Take advantage of all possibilities (sacramental and otherwise) to gain a Plenary Indulgence for the departed souls. And with all this, trust those souls to the merciful arms of the Sacred Heart.

We simply don’t know how God blesses us and the departed souls. So, to me, it would appear that it is a better bet to trust Christ’s own instructions and seek out a priest in the confessional when one is confessing one’s sins and seeking absolution and forgiveness.

In Roman Catholicism, the priest acts in the person of Christ in pronouncing the words that comprise part of a sacramental rite, in the Eucharist, Reconciliation, Marriage, Baptism, Last Rites, and so on.

For example, in the Mass, the Words of Institution, by which the bread becomes the Body of Christ and the wine becomes the Precious Blood. The priest and bishop act in the person of Christ the head in their leadership of the Church.

Pope Pius XII (1947)

Pope Pius XII (1947)

Pope Pius XII (1947)1:

40. Only to the apostles, and thenceforth to those on whom their successors have imposed hands, is granted the power of the priesthood, in virtue of which they represent the person of Jesus Christ before their people, acting at the same time as representatives of their people before God….(the unbroken lineage from Peter over 2000 years down to us today)

68. The august sacrifice of the altar, then, is no mere empty commemoration of the passion and death of Jesus Christ, but a true and proper act of sacrifice, whereby the High Priest by an unbloody immolation offers Himself a most acceptable victim to the Eternal Father, as He did upon the cross.

“It is one and the same victim; the same person now offers it by the ministry of His priests, who then offered Himself on the cross, the manner of offering alone being different.”

Ecumenical Council Vatican II 1965

Ecumenical Council Vatican II 1965

69. The priest is the same, Jesus Christ, whose sacred Person His minister represents. Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is made like to the High Priest and possesses the power of performing actions in virtue of Christ’s very person.

Bishops of Vatican Council II (1964)2:

28. … Priests, although they do not possess the highest degree of the priesthood, and although they are dependent on the bishops in the exercise of their power, nevertheless they are united with the bishops in sacerdotal dignity.

By the power of the sacrament of Orders, in the image of Christ the eternal high Priest, they are consecrated to preach the Gospel and shepherd the faithful and to celebrate divine worship, so that they are true priests of the New Testament.

Pope Paul VI (1967)

Pope Paul VI (1967)

Partakers of the function of Christ the sole Mediator, on their level of ministry, they announce the divine word to all. They exercise their sacred function especially in the Eucharistic worship or the celebration of the Mass by which acting in the person of Christ…

29. At a lower level of the hierarchy are deacons, upon whom hands are imposed “not unto the priesthood, but unto a ministry of service”.

Pope Paul VI (1967)3:

29. … acting in the person of Christ, the priest unites himself most intimately with the offering, and places on the altar his entire life, which bears the marks of the holocaust.

Pope John Paul II (1980)

Pope John Paul II (1980)

Pope John Paul II (1980)4:

8. The priest offers the holy Sacrifice in persona Christi… Awareness of this reality throws a certain light on the character and significance of the priest celebrant who, by confecting the holy Sacrifice and acting “in persona Christi,” is sacramentally (and ineffably) brought into that most profound sacredness, and made part of it, spiritually linking with it in turn all those participating in the eucharistic assembly.

Typical Version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1997)5:

875: … No one can bestow grace on himself; it must be given and offered. This fact presupposes ministers of grace, authorized and empowered by Christ.

From him, bishops and priests receive the mission and faculty (“the sacred power”) to act in persona Christi Capitis; deacons receive the strength to serve the people of God in the diaconia of liturgy, word, and charity, in communion with the bishop and his presbyterate.

The ministry in which Christ’s emissaries do and give by God’s grace what they cannot do and give by their own powers, is called a “sacrament” by the Church’s tradition. Indeed, the ministry of the Church is conferred by a special sacrament.”

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI (2007)

6: Celebrating the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday with the priests of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI said that priests should prepare themselves thoroughly to celebrate Mass and administer the sacraments, remembering that they act in the person of Christ.

7 as modified by Benedict XVI (2009)8: Can. 1008 By divine institution, some of the Christian faithful are marked with an indelible character and constituted as sacred ministers by the sacrament of holy orders. They are thus consecrated and deputed so that, each according to his own grade, they may serve the People of God by a new and specific title. Can. 1009 §1. The orders are the episcopate, the presbyterate, and the diaconate.

§2. They are conferred by the imposition of hands and the consecratory prayer which the liturgical books prescribe for the individual grades. §3. Those who are constituted in the order of the episcopate or the presbyterate receive the mission and capacity to act in the person of Christ the Head, whereas deacons are empowered to serve the People of God in the ministries of the liturgy, the word and charity.

The change in Canon Law introduced by Ominum in Mentum resolved a discrepancy between the applicability of in persona Christi Capitis (“in the person of Christ the Head”) to deacons as well as priests and bishops. With the new Motu Proprio, in persona Christi Capitis applies only to priests and bishops, and thenceforth to those on whom their successors have imposed hands, is granted the power of the priesthood.

*****

So, any questions? Anyone? Anyone? Are we living in the best possible world, are all out humanist dreams realized and have we indeed reached the heights of virtual godhood as the secular humanist progressives would have us believe. Can we really learn everything we need to know about Jesus Christ from an article in National Geographic entitled “The Real Historical Christ”?

Is this world, this society, this culture of death actually the world of our fondest dreams or is missing out on the holy sacrament of Reconciliation and the sacrament of the Eucharist as taught by the scriptural Jesus Christ just possibly the greatest tragedy of the last 500 years? Christ gathers together and builds up … everything. Satan scatters apart and diminishes … everything.

*****

42Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” (John 8 – 42-47).

*****

Your call I guess … would you be the one to throw the first stone? I sure wouldn’t.

Cheers

Joe

Christ didn’t say “Go and try to be good.” He said “Go and sin no more.”

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The Inner Struggle

Once Upon A Time …

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

an Irish Abbey*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

Cheers

Joe

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

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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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Pen as Sword - Social Commentary, Politics and Economics, The Inner Struggle

Matthew 22:23-33, 1 Wife – Seven Husbands – Poor Woman!

23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”

29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’[a]? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching. (Matthew 22:23-33)

*****

“More enemies draw near, and another battle ensues. This time the attackers are representatives of the wealthy political leaders, who had different religious views than the Pharisees, but once again Jesus prevails. His enemies still refuse to be converted. And the listening crowd is filled with awe.

That same crowd had long submitted to the harsh and demanding rule of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Both groups of leaders were far superior to the vast majority of the working population in knowledge, influence, education, and wealth. And they made their superiority felt.

In Christ these searching souls find something entirely different. He neither fears the leader’s power nor bows to their prowess. He confronts them, argues with them, and repeatedly sends them away confounded.

And all the while he generously heals and teaches the ordinary people, so despised by the others. Jesus is right down there among them. They sense in Christ something much greater than any earthly leader, and they also perceive him as someone much closer to them, interested in them, and capable of helping them.

This is how the Lord behaved; this is how his Church continues to behave; this is how his disciples ought to behave.

Instead of calling the Sadducees “hypocrites” as he did with the Pharisees, Jesus simply tells them, “you are wrong”. The Pharisees erred in their willful denial of Christ’s claims, a denial that sprang from malice, from envy and jealousy; the Sadducees err merely in ignorance. They truly think this Nazarene rabbi is just a popularizer of mistaken doctrine, and they try to set him straight. So Jesus Instructs them.

(“The Better Part”, John Bartunek, LG, ThD,  pp. 260-261)

*****

 ” far superior to the vast majority of the working population in knowledge, influence, education, and wealth. And they made their superiority felt.”

2000 years on and nothing has changed, the elites STILL see Christ as a mortal threat and conduct a steady unrelenting campaign of discrimination and persecution by attacking his followers anywhere they are found. In many parts of the world they even routinely resort to killing his followers and persecuting any earthly presence of his mystical body, the Church.

To what end? Have they no memory or understanding of the past or the future?  70 generations of Sadducees and Pharisees have come and gone and they have learned absolutely nothing.

Cheers

Joe

coptic-desertAlways remember to be charitable in your treatment of others and never take yourself too seriously.

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