The Inner Struggle

Sorrow … Contrition … Repentance … (part 3)

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

Today (of course it will only be today for a little while) is “Ash Wednesday”, the first day of the Catholic season of Lent. Lent is about sorrow, contrition, and repentance. As I read it, the scriptural references are to “conversion”, “repentance”, and “contrition”. 

As one ages (and we all do) the pervasive sense of sin intensifies (for me, at least) and becomes more personal. I find myself having difficulty believing that this all ends well and somehow I can recapture the vitality and spontaneity of youth if only I … (insert your favorite self help program here).

Where in youth one barely noticed sin, age gives an unexpected intensity and poignancy to my consciousness of “the sins of my youth”, as well as the more sophisticated sins of my maturity. That conversion, that realization, that rediscovery of a sense of sin, of how I have diverged, in my self interest and self love, away from the “narrow path” and along my own broad highway.

Heaven or Hell?

Heaven or Hell?

I find I have been too long on the freeway of life, blowing past numerous exits at a high rate of knots.  It is coming time to “put some gravel in my travel” as the song goes. It’s time to start making a good confession.

conversion”, “repentance”, and “contrition” … a recent scripture reading explained the sensitizing of the soul’s faculties to the clear realization of God’s most wondrous prerogative, namely God’s mercy, and the revival of our adoption by Christ who “desires not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Cf. Ezek. 33:11)

and

this realization of mercy becomes 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“. (John A. Kane, “How To Make A Good Confession”, pp 14)

conversion”, “repentance”, and “contrition” … I am starting to see “conversion” involving a dawning awareness of one’s sinfulness, a coming of age, so to speak, where my soul experiences a dawning and ever intensifying consciousness of one’s preferential option for self worship, self gratification and of “sinning” in the pursuit of pleasure, consolation, satisfaction as ends in and of themselves.

The essence of this “conversion” being the turning of my soul and my faculties from sin towards identification with, and identifying of, the will of God, and a concomitant experience of remorse in understanding the lifelong predilection for self centered thoughts, habits, activities and attachments.

I am discovering that the remorse experience gives rise to “contrition”, which also intensifies with advancing age, experienced as a steady wearing away of the whole “self” centered person.

This is my soul’s ever intensifying awareness of the preponderance of self worship, self gratification, self aggrandizement, and the serious attachment to all things and experiences centered on healing the wounds of my self regard.

My self image to which I find myself inordinately attached … attachment … to all the things of this world, but especially those things and experiences which reinforce my self regard.

The contrition experience gives rise to a desire for repentance, atonement for past sins, a transformation of my mind, an up-welling of the supernatural drowning the natural in an intensifying struggle. How to atone? How to repent?

Repent, atone, by cutting adrift all those elements, all those attachments, which contribute to the healing of the wounds of my self love, the papering over of those ugly wounds inflicted by self worship.

Attachments seem to be a significant part of the framework within which I tend to view “reality” and is it realy real? As I have remarked before, some famous guy once said: “it’s what we don’t know that we don’t know that bites our ass in the end”.

I have great difficulty identifying and isolating attachments. This process has been greatly assisted by my now year long program of fasting … never realized just how much I was attached to food, until I started fasting.

Now it becomes apparent that all attachments hide like this, they hide in plain sight within the normal every day experiences of life until I isolate them by choosing a different direction for my habits, thoughts, actions. It is only in the contrast that I start to recognize the attachments of my life.

Thus conversion, contrition and repentance devolve into an internal discussion about real “reality” and  how attachments seem to be the lens through which I interpret and act upon events and stimuli in my life and relationships … attachments … all the attachments …

So, how am I to move towards being detached from “the things of this world”, the creatures and treasures which I look to for consolation and pleasure when indulging my self gratification and self worship? It appears to me that the first necessary step to understanding reality is to accept and totally embrace the existence of my soul and to adopt, as my natural view of reality, my soul’s view of reality.

I think that, essentially, I have to embrace living in my material shell as a “soul”, as the ghost in the shell. The shell is not the “us”. The shell is just the collection of lenses and sensor systems for the self, but it is not the self.

I, We, the “Us” are occupying the shell and looking at, interacting with, and thinking about the material plane, and the “things of this world”, but as a soul, not as the shell … which is actually what I really am, that ghost in the shell is where that which makes me “I” actually resides, actually exists.

Is all my life no more than one night in a bad hotel? More thinking and more understanding required … until next time … something about about attachment and reality … what is actually important … my lifetime … or the eternal now?

Cheers

Joe

Oh Lord, You have created me for Yourself, to love You and to enjoy You, infinite Good, ineffable Beauty; do not permit me to lose sight of this sublime end toward which I must tend; do not permit me to wander among the wretched satisfactions that vain, feeble creatures can offer me. 

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The Inner Struggle

Sorrow … Contrition … Repentance … (part 1)

I Am In thy Hands, O Mary”, Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, Doctor Scott Piper, Sir Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, OP & Sr. Maria Miguel Wright, OPfrom the album “Mater Eucharistiae”, (2013)

I am sorry for the hiatus, but life has become unpleasant and stressful with a series of blows including family in the hospital, IT server crashes in my business, government intervention in the Canadian drug business which threatens us perhaps, and a serious sense of crisis and preoccupation has mitigated against posting lately.

I will get this post out and at this time I am uncertain when the next post will appear. Please forgive this break.

Father John Kane

Father John Kane

There is a wonderful little book by John A. Kane called “How To Make A Good Confession” in which I have recently found tremendous consolation with respect to inner feelings which I have been going through for several years now.

I am going to quote from his writing here:

The end (purpose) of sorrow, both natural and supernatural, is correction, change. Supernatural sorrow must wean the soul from sin and turn it to God; it must, in other words, work repentance, for to repent is to change. The punishment of sin is meant to deter from sin. It is first corrective and then penal.

… Sorrow, therefore, is a divine power when it restrains the soul from sin; in short when it “worketh penance, steadfast unto salvation.” The soul honestly appraising its past sins and their consequences cannot but be deeply touched with a sorrow prolific of perennial penitence. Holy Scripture insists on lifelong repentance.

“Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord” (Ps. 111:1). “With fear and trembling work out your salvation.”(Phil. 2:12). “Be you humbled under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in the time of visitation.” (1 Pet. 5:6). “The sorrow that is according to God worketh penance, steadfast unto salvation.” “Converse in fear during the time of your sojourning here.” (1 Pet. 1:17). “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:14).

“… One thought underlies all these texts; they express one dominant truth. And this momentously significant verity that comes out of them all is the idea of constant repentance.

(continued in part 2)

Cheers

Joe

9And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. 10For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. 11And which of you, if he ask his father bread, will he give him a stone? or a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12Or if he shall ask an egg, will he reach him a scorpion? 13If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask him?  (Luke 11: 9-13)

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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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