Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

I changed my mind … what now?

Woke up today in a very dark place. At 5:00 AM the world is very dark here, but not as dark as the place where I was then. Looked at my wife of forty years, sleeping beside me.  Thinking about detachment.

Death takes everyone … death is what binds us all together … no one escapes, no one buys their way out, no one. No one, no matter the extreme sacrifices made on the alter of self to appease the gods of our secular lives, no matter the banality of the attachments of this world of flesh and passion and decay. No matter the pride and achievements in this short night in this bad hotel … no one … escapes … Brother Death.

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, OP;  from the album “Mater Eucharistiae”, (2013)

Got up, had a long hot shower, put the wash on. Still in a very dark place. Thinking about detachment from material things, and especially creatures. Some creatures are hard to detach from, others go out of their way to make it easy, without realizing that is what they are doing, not realizing that they are so attached to themselves that there is no room for attachment to anything else.

Those self centered creatures are surprisingly easy to detach from but creatures where attachment is reciprocated, where there are mutual consolations experienced, are more difficult to approach true detachment from. Brother Death is the culmination of detachment. the ultimate detachment from material things and creatures.

Got dressed and headed out about 5:45 for a long drive in my 1 ton – I like to think while driving – silence – solitude – hum and rhythm of the pavement and the low rumble of the diesel … sometimes I get consolations and inspirations while driving like this.

I have been meditating on detachment for months now. Fasting brings a sharp focus to the concept of “detachment”. Been fasting, full fasts and 1 meal a day fasts since January 2017 now. Body is stable probably won’t loose any more weight unless I fast totally and continuously. Maybe that’s what I need to do. Having become seriously detached from food I now have a better understanding of what detachment from other material things and creatures involves.

Thinking about my father’s death 33 years ago. Thinking that he understood detachment, if not as a spiritual thing then as a rejection of a kind of slavery to material things. I think, like Roy Batty in the scene at the top of this post, he understood that it was “time to die”. At age 57 he stopped taking all his meds one day without asking permission and without consulting his doctor or anyone.

A few weeks later he collapsed and died after taking a long hot shower – massive brain Aneurysm – some of my family attribute the arterial weakness to an injury sustained while serving as a paratrooper in WWII. Whatever, he swore he would never grow old but would keep going full bore until he dropped and that is exactly what he did.

Detachment from all earthly things and creatures is certainly fully realized by Brother Death. And suicide is certainly not an option. On the other hand Brother Death has a comfortable feel, no fears, and end to all trials, peace, welcome. At times I envy my father. Here, at the end of all things, Brother Death takes our hand and leads us towards the light at the end of the tunnel of the tomb … and the light … is the glorious light of Eternity’s Sunrise, or the smoldering glow of Mount Doom.

Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ shall come again“, sung or chanted after the consecration, the Memorial Acclamation, at every Catholic Mass. This is the Christ who died, descended into Hell, then rose that Death shall have no dominion.

We live, if we live at all, in Him. He is The Eternal Sunrise. Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free. You are the Saviour of the world.

Changed my mind – lots of geese calling overhead on their southward trek … still lots of work to do before we are done … “Of easy wind and downy flake. The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep”

pray for a good day

Joe

 

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The Inner Struggle

Boundless Hope …

“An Taiseirl (The Resurection)”, Noirin Ni Riain and The Monks Of Glenstal Abbey, from the album “Vox de Nube”, (1996)

Our hope in God can never be exaggerated because it stems from God’s mercy which is infinite. If we sincerely try to do everything we can to please God we should not doubt or fear that our hope in Him can be too great.

Detach oneself from reliance in our own power, our own plans; detach oneself from every created thing and throw ourselves entirely into the arms of God, trusting totally in His infinite mercy and goodness. We are essentially powerless and any belief otherwise is just another manifestation of pride and self worship. Without Him we can do nothing.

Trust entirely in God’s power.  His power and desire for our good exceed our greatest hopes infinitely. As John of The Cross says, “The more the soul hopes, the more it attains.”  The more wretched and powerless we find ourselves,  when The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, / Gang aft agley,” (from “To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough” by Robert Burns), the more we should hope in God.

We cannot, and should not, expect to reach sanctity under our own steam and by our own effort; our own work is worthless without trust in God. But we should hope to reach sanctity through the omnipotent strength of Him who loves to bend over souls as a parent bends over a stumbling child, aware of their frailty, who loves, in the words of the Blessed Virgin, “to exalt the humble and to fill the hungry with good things“.

The sure knowledge of our weakness and powerlessness, as evidenced daily in all the frustrations, unrealized dreams, unexpected trials, and the plentiful vicissitudes of inter-personal relationships where we interact with everyone else’s plans, hopes, and dreams, should make us constantly aware of our need for God, God’s guidance, and God’s omnipotence. Our plans and our hopes in ourselves are simply temporal evidence of our attachment to ourselves, our self love and self worship.

“A soul that endeavors to apply itself with all the strength of its will to the practice of the virtues and the fulfillment of every duty, a soul that is determined to refuse nothing to Our Lord, should strive to maintain itself in an attitude of total trust in Him, in spite of inevitable falls. Yes, we should have complete confidence that God will come to sanctify us, regardless of our past faults, our present miseries, the aridity of our soul, the repugnance of nature, or the state of weariness and depression in which we may find ourselves.” fromDivine Intimacy“, by Fr. Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalene, O.C.D. , Copyright 1953 Monastero S. Guiseppe – Carmelitane Scalze, (Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Rome), 2014 edition. day 249, Boundless Hope, pp 723 first paragraph.

I can’t say enough good aboutDivine Intimacy“,  it is available at Baronius Press https://www.baroniuspress.com/book.php?wid=56&bid=48#tab=tab-1. Read it daily. Save your soul.

Perhaps even save your life. This fasting diet which I have been following since January of this year has its roots in my decision to fast for spiritual reasons prompted and spurred on by this book. Who can say how God works in one’s life and how he makes his will known in the lives of his people. But it is for sure dead certain that listening to and accepting and following the guidance, the guidelines, of human authorities with all the attendant self interest and corruption leads to certain death.

And while it is true that everyone dies, it is very much up to each one of us how we die, and why we die, and whether we die in our soul or only in our body.

Cheers

Joe

 

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

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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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