The Inner Struggle

Penitence as a way of life …

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

I started this yesterday and posted the beginning  at the end of yesterday’s post. Nothing here is “Real Joe”, just a brief quote from “Divine Intimacy” and a rather long, but extremely important and moving excerpt from Father John A. Kane’s “How To Make A Good Confession”.

Gentle Reader’s mileage may vary if you are not in this head-space … I wouldn’t have given this much thought a few years ago, but when one is ready, then it speaks.

“… This is a sign of real fidelity, to persevere even in the darkest moments, when all seems lost, and when a friend, instead of triumphing, is reduced to defeat and profound humiliation.

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D

It is easy to be faithful to God when everything goes smoothly, when His cause triumphs; but to be equally faithful in the hour of darkness, when, for a time, He permits evil to get the upper hand, when everything that is good and holy seems to be swept away and irrevocably lost — this is hard, but it is the most authentic proof of real love. (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. from the book “Divine Intimacy” meditations on the interior life for every day of the liturgical year.pp 400).

And from Fr. John A. Kane:

“Repentance (from the Greek: Metanoia) is the mind itself changed and transformed. It is the supernatural conquering the natural. It is the assumption of the spirit of Christ according to the words of St. Paul: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”. (Phil. 2:5)  Thus it is evident that penitence, in its entirety, is perennial.

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

Fr. John A. Kane

Fr. John A. Kane, 1912 – 1962

Its sorrow is now more abiding; it has taken root in the very depths of the soul’s consciousness; it clings to the soul far more tenaciously than the first convulsive paroxysm of grief. Without any external evidence, sorrow has silently transfigured the soul’s life, uniting it more fully, more consciously with its God. A calm and permanent sorrow, which at first terrorized the soul, now lovingly embraces it and gradually sinks into its extreme depths, while externally there may have been no sign of its existence.

Penitence acts likewise. The initial expression of grief will cease; the tears will by degrees diminish; the would inflicted by sin will gradually close. The first instinctive feelings of disappointment with self, loathing, and remorse will quiet down and become more reasonable. But the awful realization of the soul’s spiritual state, the one all-absorbing thought of the horror of sin, will be more vivid, immeasurably truer, and will assume a more disciplined form.

And as the interior spirit of repentance grows and at the same time becomes calmer, gentler, and more enlightened, the sense of the meaning of sin will intensify, and the thought of God’s mercy to sinners will rouse the soul’s hope and dispel the mists and shadows of that first anguish of somewhat unrealistic sorrow and remorse. The soul’s powers, thus renewed, will now live their life in the eternal sunshine of the mercy and love of God.

Peter Paul Rubens - Vision of Ezekiel

Peter Paul Rubens – Vision of Ezekiel

To the superficial observer, repentance may then appear to have ceased. It has, however, only sunk deeper into the soul. It is invisible because it has rooted itself in the soul’s innermost being. Its very hiddenness robs it of all external assertiveness. It has thoroughly intermingled with the soul’s deepest source of life, like food completely assimilated by the body.

It has made the soul far more responsive to grace; it has sensitized the soul’s faculties; it has silently and secretly developed the soul’s realization of God’s most wondrous prerogative: mercy;  it has bound the soul irrevocably to Christ and revived the soul’s adoption by Him who “desires not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Cf. Ezek. 33:11) thus it has become the impetus of the soul’s advancement in virtue, the inspiration of its power for good, and its daily shield in its struggle for eternal life.

The Apostle Matthew and Angel (Rembrandt, 1661)

The Apostle Matthew and Angel (Rembrandt, 1661)

The soul now serves God more freely and more lovingly because it realizes the contrast between its past sinfulness and its present holiness, and the marvelous way in which the mercy of God has affected the change. This perennial penitential state, because of its hidden and profound depth, is all the more real. It is a creature of intelligence and calm confidence, not of blind instinct and selfish sorrow for sin. It transcends the natural because it is born of faith.  A pious legend states that even to the day of his martyrdom, St. Peter, whenever he heard the crowing of the cock, wept anew.

The mighty flood of sorrow still flowed that broke forth within him when, on the night of his denial, he went out and wept bitterly (Matt. 26:75). In his epistles, penitence is not mentioned. But no other letters are more replete with soul stirring pleas for humility, watchfulness, and fear.

St. Peter

St. Peter

“Be ye subject therefore,” he says, “to every human creature for God’s sake.” (1 Pet. 2:13)  In like manner, ye young men, be subject to the ancients. … Insinuate humility one to another, for God resisteth the proud, but to the humble He giveth grace. Be you humbled, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in the time of visitation, casting all your care upon him, for He hath care of you. Be sober and watch, because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Pet. 5:5-8) “Be prudent therefore, and watch in prayers.” (1 Pet. 4:7) “Fear God.” (1 Pet 2:17) “Converse in fear during the time of your sojourning here.”

St. Paul’s letters, on the contrary, are striking for their tone of repentance. The great apostle cannot forget the sins of his youth. “I am,” he says, “the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.” (1 Cor. 15:9)

Saint Paul The Apostle, probably by Valentin de Boulogne

Saint Paul The Apostle, probably by Valentin de Boulogne

“A faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief. But for this cause I have obtained mercy, that in me first Christ Jesus might show forth all patience, for the information of them that shall believe in Him unto life everlasting.” (1 Tim. 1:15-16)

Penitence deserving the name, then, is not a mere passing act but a permanent state — a supernatural sorrow not fitfully but continually welling up within us, a condition of soul lasting until death. At no stage of the spiritual life may we dispense with it. It is necessary for the one who has advanced in virtue, as well as for the hardened sinner.

King David Playing the Harp - Gerard van Honthorst

King David Playing the Harp – Gerard van Honthorst

We are reminded of this in Confession. When slight imperfections form the subject matter of our accusation, the priest may well ask us to recall, in a general way, some former mortal sins, if any, or other venial sins, and to include them in our act of contrition. This is done to enliven our sense of sin and to increase our repentance.

Wonderfully retentive is the sinner’s memory. The reason is that the remembrance of past guilt and of God’s grace, which raised the sinner from spiritual death to spiritual life, can coexist in the soul.

God’s own eternity seems to be stamped upon the sinner’s conscience, that he may not be without fear for forgiven sin, that the abiding knowledge of former sin and the punishment thereof may, all his days, wring from him the wail that will finally remove the last vestige of both sin and punishment. “Wash me yet more from my iniquities and cleanse me from my sin.” (Ps. 50.4  Ps, 51:2)

St John the Apostle

St John the Apostle – Pieter Paul RUBENS – Flemish (Siegen 1577-1640 Antwerp) – ca. 1611 / Prado Madrid

As in the physical order, there is no light without its shadow, so , in the moral order, although the light of grace illumines the soul, the dim reflection of the hated past still remains.

The God who assumed our flesh so that sinners might “have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)  the God of infinite compassion who came “to seek and to save that which was lost,” (Luke 19:10) would have us ever reflect on our past sinfulness — not to weaken our confidence in His unspeakable mercy and to fill us with despair, but to enliven our sorrow and to strengthen our love of Him, so that “where sin abounded, grace might more abound.” (Cf. Rom. 5:20)

The habitual thought of former sin will invigorate present repentance. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) True self knowledge will beget “the sorrow that is according to God,” which “worketh penance steadfast unto salvation.”

St. Luke The Evangelist - Claude Vignon

St. Luke The Evangelist – Claude Vignon

Thus, the prayer of the publican — “O God, be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13) we can never repeat too often; his humility we can never assimilate too well. The yearning to return to the God whom he had outraged, the conscious recognition of his sin, which convinced him that he was utterly unworthy of pardon, justified him fully in the in the sight of the divine majesty. “I say to you, this man went down into his house justified.” (Luke 18:14)

Realizing that we are sinners, we must have a godly, and thus a deep, humble, sincere, perennial, and efficacious sorrow for our sins, a sorrow that forces us to quit the broad, rough road of sin and, with renewed spiritual strength, to advance in the way of God.

If we evade the stern obligation of repentance, we shall be lost. “Unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3) Sorrow for past sin is the infallible means of avoiding future sin. Penitence is, then, the rock foundation of a virtuous life. We must clothe ourselves with the penitential garb here, if we would escape the terrors of the judgement hereafter. “If Thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities, Lord, who will stand it?” (Ps. 129:3 (RSV = Ps. 130:3)

Cheers

Joe

“If Thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities, Lord, who will stand it?” (Ps. 129:3 (RSV = Ps. 130:3)

 

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

FINALLY! Some clarity on the “divorced and civilly remarried” controversy

Why couldn’t we have started here 2 years ago before all the acrimony and misunderstanding … This article is from Fr. Z’s Blog and is SO important (if one is Catholic) that I re-posted it here in it’s entirety. Go visit his site anyway, there is a trainload of really good relevant stuff there.

My point in this post is the fact that the divorced and remarried couples taking communion in a state of sin are just the tiny tip of the iceberg of Catholics taking communion in a state of sin.

I posit that the difference between the number of Catholics taking communion weekly ( very large) and the number of Catholics attending to the confessional weekly (tiny) is exactly equal to the number of Catholics taking communion in a state of sin, and that divorced and remarried couples are a very tiny percentage of this number.

So why is all the attention in the church focused on the divorced and remarried?

Anyway, you can skip to the conclusion if necessary by just scrolling down to the next star bar (********)

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Clarity from Vancouver about Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried.  Posted on 21 March 2017  by  Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

It’s great to have some clarity for a change. Of course each dose of clarity makes the general confusion which some are fomenting more exasperating. Nevertheless, it’s great to have some clarity for a change.

At the page of the Cathedral of the Holy Rosary in Vancouver we find some clarity from Fr. Pablo Santa Maria.  Of course this would not have been published without the knowledge and consent of Archbishop Miller, who is very solid.

Communion, Marriage and Divorce Mar 16, 2017

[QUAERITUR: …]Who can receive Holy Communion at Mass? None of us are truly worthy of such a great gift but God’s grace makes us worthy and prepares us to receive this sublime gift through which we are united to Christ and find salvation. We are reminded of this reality at Mass when we prepare for Holy Communion and say “Lord I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”

When it comes to the issue of those who are divorced and remarried, some confusion arises. The following paragraphs are an attempt to give some clarity to this delicate matter and to encourage all of us to accompany those who are on the peripheries of the Church.

DIVORCED, AND NOT REMARRIED.The Church has always upheld the dignity and vocation of Marriage as a central component of her life: “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament”. (1)

However, there are instances when a couple has to divorce. Reasons may vary but usually it is for the physical and mental wellbeing, of one of the parties. When there are situations of abuse, violence, neglect, etc. separation and even divorce are a necessary step. Those people who are divorced but are not living with another person either in marriage or in cohabitation, can and should receive Holy Communion if they are not is the state of mortal sin.

THE TEACHING OF CHRIST AND THE CHURCH

“I say to you, whoever divorces his wife – unless the
marriage is unlawful – and marries another commits adultery.”
– Mt. 19, 31 – 32

In this passage, our Lord is debating with the Pharisees on the nature of Marriage. Here Christ reiterates what he mentioned in the fifth chapter of Saint Matthew’s gospel, that divorce and remarriage are a serious sin. [Wait for iiiiit….] When we know we have committed a serious sin, we should not receive Holy Communion. [There it is.]

St. John Paul II in the Apostolic Letter Familiaris Consortio [But wait!  There are some who suggest that because FC is over 30 years old, it is no longer relevant.  These people are trying to repress the magisterium of St. John Paul II.  Once that’s accomplished, just about anything goes.] further reminds the faithful of this truth. Those who are divorced and remarried cannot receive Holy Communion. This is because the previous union still exists. Even though civilly it’s no longer there, in the eyes of Church it still exists for divorce does not end a bond blessed by God.

However, those who are divorced and civilly remarried are not outside the Church. The divorced and remarried should be welcomed as an essential: part of the Catholic community. These members of the Church should share in the life of the Church.They can attend Mass, [not can… must… they must still attend Mass on Sundays and other days of obligation like everyone else] pray, and take part in the activities of the parish. The children born in these situations are central to the life and mission of the Catholic Church and should be brought up in the Faith.

In the recent Papal document Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis reiterates the teaching of Christ and of Pope John Paul II: “In no way must the Church desist from proposing the full ideal of marriage, God’s plan in all its grandeur.” (2)

However, what the Holy Father is also encouraging us to do is to have an examination of conscience and to see how we can help those who are on the peripheries, in this case, those who are divorced and civilly remarried. In some cases they feel ostracized and excluded from the life of the Church. The Holy Father is encouraging all of us, but especially priests to “accompany {the divorced and remarried} in helping them to understand their situation according to the teaching of the Church” (3)

In some cases the first marriage bond may have never existed. To this end a canonical investigation of the first marriage by a Church marriage tribunal may be appropriate, which may help to regularize the second civil union. In other cases, when the first marriage was indeed valid, the Church invites the couple in the second civil union to abstain from marital intimacy so that they may receive the sacraments.

SOME OF THE CONFUSION

In recent days, since the Synod on the Family and the publication of the Papal Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, there has been some added confusion to this matter. There are some who say that the Pope has somehow changed this teaching of Christ, which is not the case. The teachings of Christ cannot be changed or re-interpreted according to the fashions of the time, or ignored because they are difficult. [And yet some highly placed people are doing precisely that.]

In a recent interview, Cardinal Muller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith says that “For us marriage is the expression of participation in the unity between Christ, the bridegroom, and the Church, his bride. This is not, as some said during the Synod, a simple vague analogy. No! This is the substance of the sacrament, and no power in heaven or on earth, neither an angel, nor the pope, nor a council, nor a law of the bishops, has the faculty to change it.” (4)

[NB] In other words, neither the Pope nor a bishop can change the teachings of Christ. The Church has always maintained this practice and teaching reminding us of the sanctity of Marriage and the importance of the Holy Eucharist. St. Paul in the First Letter to the Corinthians reminds us all look into our hearts and to see if we are indeed ready to receive Holy Communion as it’s a grave sin to receive Holy Communion when we are in the state of mortal sin. (5)

The ultimate goal of the Church is to accompany those who are hurting and feel excluded and to bring them back into the fold. To encourage them and to lead them to a worthy reception of the sacraments by which they will come to share in the life of our Saviour.  [There are those who are in situations that can’t be “fixed” easily.  They must exclude themselves from receiving “the sacraments” (generally Penance and Eucharist) and be excluded.  To be able to receive these sacraments they must have a firm purpose of amendment.  

So, what Father wrote is correct.  People in these hard situations must be helped to a) not receive unworthily until they b) make the tough choice and move to amend their lives.]

Fr. Pablo Santa Maria______Notes:Catechism of the Catholic Church N. 1601
FRANCIS, Pope, Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, 2016. N. 307.
Ibid, N. 300
http://magister.blogautore.espresso.repubblica.it/2017/02/01/il-papa-tace-ma-parla-il-cardinale-muller-che-ai-dubia-risponde-cosi/
I Cor. 11, 27

Father did a good job of laying out the issues in a brief and simple way.

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So that was Father Z, The rest is me, Joe.

So let’s think about that one line especially!  Remember, When we know we have committed a serious sin, we should not receive Holy Communion.”  This innocuous little line is just probably the biggest show stopper in the entire Catholic Church these days.  The question immediately comes to mind” “Are any of us free from serious sin?”

Definitively we are not. We are human and as such have a proclivity for sin, a real affinity for sin, yes, even serious sin. Our natural concupiscence knows no bounds. That is why Christ instituted, specifically through his priesthood,  the sacrament and process of Confession or Reconciliation as some call it.
One of the best explanations I have found is at:
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The practice of Confession arises from the example and command of Jesus, who showed that human nature could be used by God as an instrument of grace and forgiveness. He said “That you may know that the Son of Man has the power to forgive sin…” (Mt. 9:6; Mk 2:7-10; Lk 5:21-24). The Hebrew title He used was “ben Adam” meaning “Son of Adam.” This was the Hebrew way of saying “a human being.” Jesus always gloried in His Humanity, since through It He redeemed us. He communicated this authority to His Apostles on Easter night, “Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven, whose sins you shall retain they are retained” (Jn 20:19-23). In this way He gave the Apostles (and their successors) the power to give “Peace” (v.21), which is nothing less than the reconciliation of man with God.

The text even makes clear how Confession is to be conducted. Christ’s representative, the priest, must decide whether to forgive or retain. Therefore, the penitent must confess each and every serious sin, that is anything which separates him from Christ. If the priest judges he is truly sorry, He must absolve since Christ’s Passion merited forgiveness for every repentant sinner. Only if the person shows no willingness to give up sin does the priest retain, that is withhold absolution, as we “do not give what is holy to dogs” (Mt 7:6).

In one form or another the Sacrament of Penance has been in continuous practice in the Church. Its existence in all the Churches of the First Millennium, even those separated from Rome, shows its apostolicity. The present Catholic discipline of secret confession dates to the early middle ages, though there are suggestions of an even earlier practice. Prior to that, confession of sins involved lengthy public penance for great sins such as adultery, murder and apostasy from the faith. Thankfully, it is much easier today.

The point was, however, that serious sin is a horrendous offense against God that ought to be rare among the baptized but frequently is not. In the second and third century theological battles were fought over whether Penance could be received more than once after Baptism. The rigorists, like Tertullian, left the Church and their movements passed into history. Even the practice of the sacrament today is no encouragement to sin, as they thought. On the contrary it requires humility to confess your sins. It also gives great peace to hear the priest say in Jesus’ name “I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” It is Christ’s will that we hear those words.

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So knowing myself to be a sinner, and one who takes myself to confession every month or even every two weeks at times and certainly by special appointment when ever I notice a particularly egregious occasion of sin (mostly old habits of thought and judgement), I have a rhetorical question and I offer no answer – perhaps even in asking the question I sin, at least venially in the way of pride and judgement but I ask it anyway …
Weekly mass invariably produces a huge line up for Eucharist as virtually every parishioner takes Eucharist every week. This has been the situation in every parish I have attended for decades, every Sunday huge lineups for Eucharist. I suppose it is a safe bet that most Catholics who attend Mass weekly also receive Communion weekly.
The question arises every time I go to confession. For almost every confession I am either alone, or there are one or two other folks attending. WE routinely hold penitential services in our parish because of the paucity of turnout for regular confession and even then we are amazed if we have more than 20 people show up. Three or sometimes four  priests chew through 20 sinners pretty fast so we often stand around and chat for a bit with the priests who are from other parishes and compare notes. The “2 people at confession” phenomena seems pretty consistent across all parishes.
So, if such a tiny fraction of parishioners are going to confession then logically the vast majority of parishioners are not having their sins (venial and mortal) confessed and forgiven. But, When we know we have committed a serious sin, we should not receive Holy Communion.”  and yet the vast majority of parishioners are receiving communion every week.
I am left with the stunning conclusion that the majority of parishioners do not feel that they have sinned in their lives in any way. An alternate possibility is even more stunning, namely that they know they have sinned and don’t care and are just taking communion for appearances sake – also another mortal sin.
The current controversy regarding divorced and remarried couples taking communion is just the tip of the iceberg. The Catholic Church is legitimately concerned about couples taking Eucharist in a state of sin, but it seems obvious that divorced and remarried couples are only a tiny tiny minority of those actually taking communion in a state of sin.
Is it plausible that most Catholics are continually living in a state of grace and are not sinners, this in a modern progressive culture so steeped in sin that one risks being called out and questioned for not sinning.
Is the answer to do with “culpability”? If one is not aware of sinning then is there a sin? Surely I am not the only one noticing this phenomenon.
Cheers
Joe

Always remember, “Be charitable in your judgements, and never take yourself too seriously”

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Good Sunday Morning from the Shire …

“早春賦”  by Akira Nakada, performed by William W. Spearman IV and Tomoko Okada,  from the album “Beautiful Japanese Songs”, (2006)

早春賦 Beautiful Japanese Songs

A beautiful sunny Sunday morning in the Shire. -15 Celsius and a gentle breeze, everything pristine and muted under a soft blanket of new fallen snow so white it seems almost blue in the brilliant sun.

Time change today, spring ahead, Mass was an hour earlier today and my voice even less warmed up than usual. We got through with only minor imperfections however, God be praised.

Father Chris built his homily around the rather trenchant observation that we are all great orators, teachers and preachers but rather poor students and showing singular lack of inclination and ability in the listening department.

Like Zechariah, we lack trust,  we want assurances, and are more concerned with expressing our own plans and opinions than worrying about listening to others, even when that other is God himself. In Luke 1:57-80 we find Zechariah finding his voice again after nine months of silence imposed by the Lord.

*****

Meanwhile the time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, and when her neighbours and relations heard that the Lord had shown her so great a kindness, they shared her joy.

Now on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother spoke up, ‘No,’ she said ‘he is to be called John.’  They said to her, ‘But, no one in your family has that name,’  and made signs to his father to find  out what he wanted him called.  The father asked for a writing tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ and they were all astonished.

At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God. All the neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judaea. All those who heard it treasured it in their hearts. ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ they wondered.  And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him.

His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy: ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel for He has visited His people, He has come to their rescue and He has raised up for us a power for salvation in the House of his servant David, even as He proclaimed, by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient times, that He would save us from our enemies and from the hands of all who hate us.

Thus He shows mercy to our ancestors, thus He remembers His holy covenant, the oath He swore to our father Abraham that He would grant us, free from fear, to be delivered from the hands of our enemies, to serve him in holiness and virtue in His presence, all our days.

And you, little child, you shall be called Prophet of the Most High, for you shall go before the Lord to prepare the way for Him. To give His people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins; this by the tender mercy of our God Who from on high will bring the rising Sun to visit us, to give light to those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet in the way of peace.’

*****

“Yamanakabushi” performed by Jean-Pierre Rampal & Yuzuko Horigome, from the album “Yamanakabushi: Japanese Melodies”, Vol. 3, (1982)

Yamanakabushi

So, where to go from here. How about trying to spend more time contemplating and less time opinionating (is that even a word?).

Examining one’s conscience, thinking and listening, and trying to find what is wrong with me and not confirming it by expounding at length on what is wrong with others.

Thinking about anger and humility, thinking about meekness, cultivating detachment from the perceived “rightness” of my own opinion and the turmoil generated by defending that “rightness”.

If I was not so attached to my superior position and the need for validation I would feel less anger and resentment (maybe none at all?) when not accorded the adulation I feel I deserve.

… to save us from our enemies and from the hands of all who hate us …”  Israel mistook the enemies and those who hate us for our human enemies and those who hate us in this world. Understandable perhaps, given the centuries of a tradition which had come to expect a worldly king and the restoration of Israel to the worldly power and prestige it has once enjoyed.

But in the light of Christian teaching it is clear that the enemies of which scripture speaks are Satan and his demons and all the varieties and vagaries of sin which our concupiscence leads us into in all its deviant manifestations.

Those who hate us are the same as us, are the same as those who hated Christ. Hating because they have fully embraced worldly values and rejected the notion that the wages of sin are death. Anyone who disagrees is anathema. As are those who disagree with us? Being judgemental again, Joe?

The establishment and culture of the day, the de-sacrementalized progressive society worshiping at the pool of Narcissus are bound to hate and resist and persecute anyone, and any belief system, holding up an un-distorted mirror to their tightly embraced  and thoroughly rationalized perversions. After all, they are the “normal” people, right?

St. John called for repentance and the culture be-headed him. Christ offered salvation and eternal joy and the culture crucified Him. Why should we expect anything different.  The culture hates, and kills anyone who holds up a true mirror. Only the pool matters and woe to anyone who ripples the pool.

Those who hate us are not our enemies, but only, in the inimitable words of Uncle Joe Stalin, “useful idiots” chanting on the path to perdition.

The detour to repentance and forgiveness is always available to all regardless of how they have sinned and how they have lived.  Imagine the shock of meeting Uncle Joe in the reception area of heaven!  What a thought!

The detours from the broad highway of death are clearly marked in many places along the “Highway to Hell” by large green highway signs saying “Repentance” and, if one decides to make the detour,  a little further on “Purgatory – 10 Km,  All Are Welcome” available services, reconciliation,  forgiveness,  penance,  atonement,  mortification,  detachment,  peace.  Please make yourselves at home.

Am I not just playing the blame game to serve my own interests? Letting myself off the hook of responsibility by attributing causality to others, as if I have no control over my own actions and inclinations. Can’t fool God with all my sophistry. Can’t fool God.

Do I actually believe that “if only they hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have done this”. “If they didn’t act like that I wouldn’t think like this”. And while I am at it, since I have already sinned, lets do a good job of it and sin again, and again, while there is still time on the clock.

Pride clinging to self exculpation with the tenacity of a limpet at low tide.

Hmmmm … running out the clock … except when the final siren goes in this game there will be  no more chances to detour, no more chances to make up for lost time, no more chances to be sorry and make amends, no more chances …  when the tide of life finally goes out there is no return this side of hell.

I think Confession is perhaps the greatest Catholic Sacrament.

What a tragedy that Luther did away with most of the sacraments, discarding in the process, most of Christ’s invitations to the fountain of grace available to all, but rejected by most. The greatest tragedy of our civilization, perhaps, is the loss of of the sacrament of confession.

Cheers

Joe

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

psalm 23

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