Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Common Sense … & Wisdom …

“Deep Peace”, Bill Douglas, from the album of the same name, (1996)

Revisited my post from the 6th of July   especially the last half which was a quote from the Book of Wisdom … Wisdom 7 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA) Seems the primary English translation from the Latin Vulgate, the Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible is not “copyrighted”.

The Douay–Rheims Bible is a translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English made by members of the Catholic seminary English College, Douai, France. It is the foundation on which nearly all English Catholic versions are still based.

It was translated principally by Gregory Martin, an Oxford-trained scholar, working in the circle of English Catholic exiles on the Continent, under the sponsorship of William (later Cardinal) Allen.

The New Testament appeared at Rheims in 1582; the Old Testament at Douai in 1609. The translation, although competent, exhibited a taste for Latinisms that was not uncommon in English writing of the time but seemed excessive in the eyes of later generations. The New Testament influenced the Authorized Version.

Between 1749 and 1752, English bishop Richard Challoner substantially revised the translation with an aim to improve readability and comprehensibility. Bishop Challoner’s revised version is the one I use, published by TAN in the U.S. in 1989.

It was first published in America in 1790 by Mathew Carey of Philadelphia. Several American editions followed in the 19th and early 20th centuries; prominent among them the Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition Version.

Wisdom 7: 1-3

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1 I myself also am a mortal man, like all others, and of the race of him, that was first made of the earth, and in the womb of my mother I was fashioned to be flesh.

2 In the time of ten months I was compacted in blood, of the seed of man, and the pleasure of sleep concurring.

3 And being born I drew in the common air, and fell upon the earth, that is made alike, and the first voice which I uttered was crying, as all others do.

*****

“I myself also am a mortal man, like all others”, I especially like this chapter of Wisdom. It speaks to the true commonality of mankind, rather than our stylish modern “Common Sense”.  Commonality transcends cultures and societies and goes to the root of what is truly human.

These days, I enjoy watching foreign shows on Netflix, especially since most haven’t succumbed to the Hollywood direction of the main characters hopping into bed with every creature they meet on the first date, a kind of smorgasbord of passion and animal lust, all lungs and sweaty thorax and four hours in makeup to look hot in bed. No more western TV for me, no joy there at all, just a reflection of a dead end quest for sensate immortality and distraction.

So, I watched a show last night in which one of the protagonists explained to a grieving friend how it all passes away … “All joy passes away with time, but so does sorrow and sadness” or something to that effect. I thought is was an apt comment about our times and the goals and choices held up to us by the world as “desirable” and “satisfying”.

St. Paul said: “We are fools for Christ.” … “we are weak, but you are strong; you are honourable, but we without honour. 11Even unto this hour we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no fixed abode; 12And we labour, working with our own hands: we are reviled, and we bless; we are persecuted, and we suffer it. 13We are blasphemed, and we entreat; we are made as the refuse of this world, the offscouring of all even until now.” (1 Corinthians 4:10-13)

Venerable Fulton Sheen

Much of the rest of this post is drawn from my readings of Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen and Cardinal John Henry Newman. Specifically from:

John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, bk. 6, no. 7 (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1977), 1241-45.

and

Fulton J. Sheen, Go to Heaven: A Spiritual Road Map to Eternity (p. 132). Ignatius Press.

Much is made these days of “Common Sense” as if somehow, “all right thinking persons” have common sense … hence, in our polite society, there is alleged a commonality of “common sense” amongst those “who think like me and agree with me”. This commonality permits me to virtue signal my esteem of others without ever taking my eyes off myself in the mirror.

Now, common sense never drove any man crazy, common sense supposedly defines “sanity”. But let’s think about this just a bit, this bald assumption about “common” sense.

Common sense never climbed mountains and certainly never cast a mountain into the sea in the biblical sense, common sense is not in any way about faith. Common sense is not violent and yet, violence is the commonest thing in our culture, in our society, and in our world.

Common sense never walked on the moon, or flew a plane or wrote a symphony, and common sense certainly never ran into a burning high rise to save lives.

Common sense never moves towards the sound of the guns, never makes a man willing to offer up his life, and yet it is in losing our life that we put into practice “greater love hath no man”.

Life sometimes can be saved by walking within an inch of death, facing the raging fire, standing firm against impossible odds, in jumping down a cliff, but common sense never makes those sort of jumps.

The soldier at times can cut his way out of his surrounding enemies, perhaps to save his comrades, or perhaps fall upon the grenade to save the rest, but he must have an uncommon carelessness about dying—and common sense does not permit that carelessness.

The Kingdom of heaven can sometimes be gained only by plucking out an eye—but common sense never plucked it out. Common sense is all about self, the “me first” knee jerk reaction.

Common sense makes a man die only for the sake of dying, for there is no choice about dieing, right? All that matters ultimately is dieing without pain, or loss of “dignity”.

It is not common sense, but love and a spirit of self sacrifice which makes a man choose to die for the sake of living—and it is the love of Jesus Christ crucified, which produces the wisdom of heaven at the cost of the foolishness of self sacrifice, of the abandonment of self, in the eyes of the world.

Al Pacino, Devil’s Advocate

Love makes men throw down their lives to take them up again, makes men sell fields for the pearl of great price, makes men treat the world as a trinket, laugh at death, and offer up everything for the one loved.

No matter the opinion of “common sense”, the opinion of the world, the Gospel of Christ is not a gospel of sorrow.

Our contemporary society’s view is that this life is made for pleasure and happiness. Any other view is ridiculed as foolishness. But to those who have actually experienced a few decades of this world, to those who have looked under the surface, it tells a very different tale.

Our doctrine of the Cross teaches the very same lesson which this world teaches to those who live long enough in it, who have much experience in it, who have lived it. Our doctrine of the Cross teaches this lesson more forcibly, but after all it is the very same lesson.

Even today, at this advanced age, some of my friends, when talking about other friends, not present, and often no longer in the world, will say “… and then he got religion”, as if this were like getting some illness. No doubt they say the same thing about me when I am not around. From my viewpoint this is simply the process of waking up … to a new dawn.

Someone famous once said: “The world is sweet to the lips, but bitter to the taste. It pleases us at first, but not at last. It looks gay on the outside, but evil and misery lie concealed within”. When a man has passed a certain number of years in it, he cries out with the Preacher, ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’

And if he doesn’t “get religion” … he will be forced to say: “All is vanity and vexation of spirit; all is disappointment; all is sorrow; all is pain”. Without the doctrine of the Cross we are invited to accept the culture of death, to escape our pain and disillusion, to accept evil with only a whimper and a sigh, as we stare, runny-eyed into the chasm of the banal..

The judgments of God upon our sins, upon our worship of the god of self, are concealed within the very fabric of the world itself, and eventually these force all men to grief whether they want it or not. The doctrine of the Cross merely anticipates for us the experience of the world. It is a “sneak preview” of the truth of eternity.

The doctrine of the Cross interferes with the common sense superficial view, and with finding a vain transitory joy in what we see and taste and feel, and experience. The doctrine of the Cross forbids our immediate enjoyment, but it grants enjoyment in truth and fullness afterwards. It only forbids us to begin with enjoyment. It only says, if you begin with pleasure you will end in pain.

Blessed John Henry Newman

The doctrine of the Cross bids us begin with the Cross, and in that Cross we shall at first find sorrow, but in a while peace and comfort will rise out of that sorrow.

That Cross leads us to conversion, to mourning, repentance, humiliation, prayer, fasting; we shall sorrow for our sins, we shall sorrow with Christ’s suffering; but all this sorrow will only be undergone in, and result in a happiness far greater than the enjoyment which the world gives—though careless worldly minds will not believe this because it defies common sense.

Careless worldly minds, minds obsessed with “common sense”, ridicule the notion of happiness through sorrow, because they never have tasted it, and consider it a mere matter of word play, semantic gymnastics. In a world of ideology, that truth which religious persons think decent and proper, and try to believe themselves, and to get others to believe, is to the common sense mind impossible, no right minded person really feels that truth.

But in order to truly enjoy this world one must begin with the world unseen, the supernatural world. We must first abstain from the world to truly enjoy the world. We must first fast in order to truly feast. Only those who have learned not to abuse the world are able to use the world. They alone inherit the world, who take it as only a shadow of the world to come, and who, for that world to come, relinquish this world.

“I myself also am a mortal man, like all others”. The “Common Sense” of self worship is a dead end. “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.” John Donne. from “Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, and severall steps in my Sicknes“, written in 1624

Cheers

Joe

 Apollo 15 mission, 1971

Composite of photographs from the Apollo 15 mission, 1971

Common Sense?

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The Inner Struggle

Let not your heart be troubled …

The Return Of The King” Howard Shore, composer, from the soundtrack of “The Return Of The King”, part 3 of “The Lord Of The Rings”, released on December 17th, 2003.

“The Return Of The King”, part 3 of “The Lord Of The Rings”, released on December 17th, 2003

“The Return Of The King”, part 3 of “The Lord Of The Rings”, released on December 17th, 2003

Maybe Gentle Reader is wondering what the heck I am going on about with all this talk of contrition, and remorse and seeing things spiritually?

What is the point of my meanderings about reality and the “ghost in the shell” and seeing the material from the spiritual perspective as my soul?

What it all is about is that I am looking for a framework which makes identifying attachments easier, and after identifying these attachments, to make it a more straightforward exercise in discipline and mortification to separate myself from these objects of desire and gratification.

And the Season of Lent seems an appropriate time to consider the “end of all things”, fasting and other ways of identifying attachments that get in the way of seeing God as our eternal end …

The Front Porch of Lent: Easing Into the Lenten Fast

It was common for early Christians to begin the Lenten fast immediately after Septuagesima Sunday (nominally 70 days before Easter). Just as Lent today begins 46 days before Easter, since Sundays are never a day of fasting (see “How Are the 40 Days of Lent Calculated?“), so, in the early Church, Saturdays and Thursdays were considered fast-free days, and Friday, of course, was a “fasting from meat” day, as any cradle Catholic older than 50 years or so can tell you.

I remember when that particular item was supposedly dropped, “in the spirit of Vatican II” and George Carlin brought out a live comedy album in 1972 that mocked various Catholic practices, although George, as an ex Catholic, could be said to be an equal opportunity mocker. This skit “I used to be an Irish Catholic” had a line “ … I bet there are still guys doin’ time on the meat rap“. Parochial school humour – unique to Catholics?

Class Clown

By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3453565, This is the cover art for the album Class Clown by the artist George Carlin. The cover art copyright is believed to belong to the label, Little David / Atlantic, or the graphic artist(s).

I remember George was funny as hell … and I enjoyed his humour … that 1972 album was called “Class Clown” and I could identify ’cause I was one – woohoo – “#1 Class Clown”, one of the “back of the classroom tribe” sometimes known as “tree people” because we used to climb the trees outside Jarry Park to watch the Expos play for free.

Flashbacks … that was about the time I went off on my own personal diversion from the faith … for about 20 years … seems a kind of common thing with my generation … except I suspect coming back is rather less common, but there ya go.

Then (1971) came my sharp right turn over to joining the evil military without even hitting the “Group W Bench” in between. Remember “Alice’s Restaurant”? Just about gives me whiplash today thinking back. I wonder how George felt about his Catholic faith just before he died at age 71, in 2008?

But anyway, back to fasting and Friday meat fasts … in order to fit in 40 days of fasting before Easter, therefore, the fast had to start two weeks earlier than it does today.

Another quirk, … (is that the right word?) in the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass, starting on Septuagesima Sunday, neither the Alleluia nor the Gloria are sung. (See Why Don’t Roman Catholics Sing the Alleluia During Lent?) They do not return until the Easter Vigil, when we mark the triumph of Christ over death in His Resurrection.

So fasting, and no Alleluia or Gloria … focused on “the end of all things” just where are we going … after this short night in a bad hotel?

But this is really about “Let not your heart be troubled” …

Douay-Rheims Bible (John 14)
Jesus Comforts the Disciples

Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ

1Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house there are many mansions. If not, I would have told you: because I go to prepare a place for you.

3And if I shall go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will take you to myself; that where I am, you also may be. 4And whither I go you know, and the way you know.

The Way, the Truth, and the Life

The Apostle Thomas

The Apostle Thomas

5Thomas saith to him: Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me.

7If you had known me, you would without doubt have known my Father also: and from henceforth you shall know him, and you have seen him.

8Philip saith to him: Lord, shew us the Father, and it is enough for us. 9Jesus saith to him: Have I been so long a time with you; and have you not known me? Philip, he that seeth me seeth the Father also. How sayest thou, Shew us the Father?

the Apostle Philip

The Apostle Philip

10Do you not believe, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak to you, I speak not of myself. But the Father who abideth in me, he doth the works.

11Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? 12Otherwise believe for the very works’ sake. Amen, amen I say to you, he that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do.

13Because I go to the Father: and whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, that will I do: that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you shall ask me any thing in my name, that I will do.

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

(Joel 2:28-32; John 16:5-16; Acts 2:1-13; Acts 10:44-48; Acts 19:1-7)

15If you love me, keep my commandments.

16And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever. 17The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him: but you shall know him; because he shall abide with you, and shall be in you.

18I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you. 19Yet a little while: and the world seeth me no more. But you see me: because I live, and you shall live. 20In that day you shall know, that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

21He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them; he it is that loveth me. And he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father: and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22Judas saith to him, not the Iscariot: Lord, how is it, that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not to the world?

23Jesus answered, and said to him: If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him. 24He that loveth me not, keepeth not my words. And the word which you have heard, is not mine; but the Father’s who sent me.

25These things have I spoken to you, abiding with you. 26But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.

Peace I Leave with You

(Romans 5:1-5)

27Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. 28You have heard that I said to you: I go away, and I come unto you. If you loved me, you would indeed be glad, because I go to the Father: for the Father is greater than I.

29And now I have told you before it comes to pass: that when it shall come to pass, you may believe. 30I will not now speak many things with you. For the prince of this world cometh, and in me he hath not any thing. 31But that the world may know, that I love the Father: and as the Father hath given me commandment, so do I: Arise, let us go hence.

Douay-Rheims Bible

Cheers

Joe

25These things have I spoken to you, abiding with you. 26But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.

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The Inner Struggle

Old Boy Scouts – “Be Prepared” …

Kojo No Tsuki (Rentaro Taki), performed by Yo-Yo Ma, Michio Mamiya, & Patricia Zander, from the album Japanese Melodies (1990)

Aizu Castle, JapanA little nostalgia, remembering all the ruined castles of our dreams.

Flashback, remembering that being a Boy Scout, a Venturer and a Ranger in the 60’s was a totally different experience for young males from the Progressive, New Age, Inclusive Boy Scouts of today which is all about gelding the violent male child and turning him into a passive little herd creature waiting for instructions from his betters.

Back then my leaders were all vets including my Ranger leader who was a recently mustered out Army Ranger (Airborne) and the focus was very macho male, very action oriented, lots of both self reliance and team work.

Lots of time in the field, camping and “survivalist training” in all weathers and seasons (suck it up princess). The modern Boy Scouts would not permit these sort of activities because of “risk” nor would they consider our old leaders as suitable or trustworthy models for modern children of any sex.

Winter camping in the bush at -40 degrees and surviving comfortably with only what you carried and built for yourself (under the watchful eyes of the leaders) changes how you look on yourself and at life forever. I remember the Airforce Survival Manual was my favorite book. It all stood me in good stead later in boot camp.

The whole thing (both the nature and the nurture) probably influenced my later choices in life, going into Cadets, then Reserves then the regular Military and then Corrections Service after the Military. And my father (ex Airborne) was one of the leaders and support volunteers and highly approved of our activities. My father’s approval was important to me even though he didn’t show it very much since he was the “silent type”. I can’t imagine the horror of growing up without a father.

Anyway, a little nostalgia about “Be Prepared” …

Douay Thiems Old Testament 1609Much of today’s post is taken from the Douay-Rheims Bible , Luke 21. It is all about being prepared. The Douay-Rheims is my Bible translation of choice, for the language and because my edition (from India) has the Latin text opposite the English translation on opposing pages.

At the same time I am preferring the Navarre Bible, Old and New Testament in 19 volumes, for the commentaries and annotations.

Anyway, here is Luke, Chapter 21 in its entirety on the theme of “Be Prepared”.

The Poor Widow’s Offering
(Mark 12:41-44) (these verse references are to other scriptural references)
1AND looking on, he saw the rich men cast their gifts into the treasury. 2And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in two brass mites.

3And he said: Verily I say to you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: 4For all these have of their abundance cast into the offerings of God: but she of her want, hath cast in all the living that she had.

Temple Destruction Foretold
(Matthew 24:1-4; Mark 13:1-9)

Destruction of Jerusalem by the pagan Romans, 70 AD

Destruction of Jerusalem by the pagan Romans, 70 AD

5And some saying of the temple, that it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said: 6These things which you see, the days will come in which there shall not be left a stone upon a stone that shall not be thrown down.

7And they asked him, saying: Master, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when they shall begin to come to pass? 8Who said: Take heed you be not seduced; for many will come in my name, saying, I am he; and the time is at hand: go ye not therefore after them.

9And when you shall hear of wars and seditions, be not terrified: these things must first come to pass; but the end is not yet presently.

Witnessing to All Nations
(Matthew 24:9-14; Mark 13:10-13)
10Then he said to them: Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11And there shall be great earthquakes in divers places, and pestilences, and famines, and terrors from heaven; and there shall be great signs.
12But before all these things, they will lay their hands upon you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and into prisons, dragging you before kings and governors, for my name’s sake.

13And it shall happen unto you for a testimony. 14Lay it up therefore into your hearts, not to meditate before how you shall answer: 15For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to resist and gainsay. 16And you shall be betrayed by your parents and brethren, and kinsmen and friends; and some of you they will put to death. 17And you shall be hated by all men for my name’s sake. 18But a hair of your head shall not perish. 19In your patience you shall possess your souls.

The Destruction of Jerusalem
(Matthew 24:15-25; Mark 13:14-23)

Destruction of Jerusalem by the pagan Romans, 70AD

Destruction of Jerusalem by the pagan Romans, 70AD

20And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed about with an army; then know that the desolation thereof is at hand. 21Then let those who are in Judea, flee to the mountains; and those who are in the midst thereof, depart out: and those who are in the countries, not enter into it.

22For these are the days of vengeance, that all things may be fulfilled, that are written. 23But woe to them that are with child, and give suck in those days; for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.

24And they shall fall by the edge of the sword; and shall be led away captives (slaves) into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles (Pagans); till the times of the nations (Pagans) be fulfilled.

The Return of the Son of Man
(Matthew 24:26-31; Mark 13:24-27)
25And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations (Pagans), by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and of the waves; 26Men withering away for fear, and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world. For the powers of heaven shall be moved; 27And then they shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud, with great power and majesty. 28But when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand.

The lesson of the Fig Tree
(Matthew 24:32-35; Mark 13:28-31)
29And he spoke to them in a similitude. See the fig tree, and all the trees: 30When they now shoot forth their fruit, you know that summer is nigh; 31So you also, when you shall see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is at hand. 32Amen, I say to you, this generation shall not pass away, till all things be fulfilled. 33Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Be Watchful
34And take heed to yourselves, lest perhaps your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and the cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly. 35For as a snare shall it come upon all that sit upon the face of the whole earth. 36Watch ye, therefore, praying at all times, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are to come, and to stand before the Son of man.

37And in the daytime, he was teaching in the temple; but at night, going out, he abode in the mount that is called Olivet. 38And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, to hear him.

Cheers,

Joe

Lightneng over St. Peter'sSmoke in the Sacristy, smoke on the Tiber …

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The Inner Struggle

From the Point Of View Of Spirit …

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

001-crucified

The Isenheim Altarpiece is an altarpiece sculpted and painted by, respectively, the Germans Niclaus of Haguenau and Matthias Grünewald in 1512–1516

Today I have used images taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, The Isenheim Altarpiece is an altarpiece sculpted and painted by, respectively, the Germans Niclaus of Haguenau and Matthias Grünewald in 1512–1516.

I will not just copy everything they have to say about it but suffice to say go on over and visit it and read the article, it is worth one’s time to understand better the past history which contributed to Western European Civilization’s rise, especially since we are in such a hurry to blow it all away in our modern progressive wasteland.

So after the last blogpost it might appear we have swerved off the road, but in fact all of the items, objections, observations, and situations complained about, and judged, and questioned in that post are firmly rooted in my own biases, attractions, beliefs, and narratives in and about this material world.

In short, my ego, my “self” is intimately enmeshed in all my observations and conclusions, MY plans, MY dreams, MY opinions, MY understanding. I don’t believe that I am uniquely blessed. I believe that we all share these attachments to the material, especially if we strongly believe that this time based material reality is all there is.

Viewed through my human nature, all these things are ultimately important, but viewed through my soul nature they are really seen to be unimportant and irrelevant, mere distractions on the path. And yet … and yet … we insist on refusing to see what is right before us. We dive into the unreal and forsake the real for the sake of our passions, our tastes, our desires, our egos.

*****

001-grunewald_isenheim1

Grunewald – Isenheim Altarpiece – First View

Barabbas is in each one of us. We are scoundrels, experts in selfishness, boasting, lust, violence and greed. We are bandits, taking God’s many gifts and ungratefully neglecting them and squandering them.

We take for granted the most precious realities of life: family, life, nature, health, faith, and the sacraments.  We squander our talents, our money, our time, and the love others offer us.

001-grunewald_isenheim2

Grunewald Isenheim Second View

We are quick to criticize and judge, to steal others’ honor and sully it with our moral and intellectual myopia. What do we, who are so flawed, so weak, so slow to repent, and so reluctant to serve — what do we deserve?

Certainly not God’s love, certainly not his continued forgiveness, certainly not redemption, hope, peace, and heaven. Strictly speaking, we deserve to be cut off from the kingdom against which we have so often rebelled — just like the murderous insurgent Barabbas.

001-grunewald_isenheim3

Grunewald Isenheim Third View

And yet, Jesus overlooks what we deserve. It is Passover, and the angel of justice passes over the sinner to wreak his punishments on the Lamb of God instead. Look at the Lord with the eyes of Barabbas. Is there any heart that loves you more than His Sacred Heart? Is there any heart more trustworthy than the heart that died so that you might have abundant life? John Bartunek, LC, ThD.The Better Part”, pp321

*****

001-grunewald_-_christ

Grunewald’s Risen Christ

We insist on refusing to see what is right before us — we refuse to see reality through the eyes of our spirit/soul — we clutch at our “self” and our passions, appetites, vices, and sins, because, as Screwtape says (about half way down one of my posts): “you must remember that he (us) takes Time for an ultimate reality”.

As we walk through this “valley of death”, this mortal world full of evil both without and within, we find that the closer we cling to the visible, material, temporal vision, the more we fear.  Because when you really look at everything around us, the happenings, and events, and personal relations, and national relations, the EVERYTHING in TIME, the more we fear.

001-mathis_gothart_grunewald_024

Mathis Gothart Grunewald’s “St. John The Baptist” illum oportet crescere me autem minui (Vulgate, John 3:30 ), “He must increase, but I must decrease.

Because, if we actually pull our collective heads out of the “sand” (or wherever) the more we have to acknowledge that there is not one damned thing we can do about any of it and if this is all there is then we may just as well end it all. If this is all there is then what is really the point? 

This morning I visited another WordPress blog which I follow at “Finding Hope”  Often I am encouraged and given hope reading what this person writes. This time I found there a story specifically about this struggle with “What’s The Point”. It brought me to tears and to prayer:

A Prayer of Sorrow

” I have fallen, Lord, once more. I can’t go on. I’ll never succeed. I am ashamed.  I don’t dare look at you. And yet I struggled, Lord, for I knew you were right near me, bending over me, watching.

But temptation blew like a hurricane, and instead of you I turned my head away. I stepped aside, while you stood silent and sorrowful. Lord, don’t look at me like that.

For I am ashamed and sorrowful. I am down, shattered, with no strength left. I dare make no more promises. I can only stand bowed before you.

 Come, Child, look up. Isn’t it mainly your vanity that is wounded? If you loved me you would grieve but you would trust. Do you think that there is a limit to God’s love? Do you think that for a moment I stopped loving you? But you still rely on yourself.

 You must rely on me. Ask my pardon and get up quickly. You see, it’s not falling that is worse, but staying on the ground.”

Wow …

If we are not careful we find ourselves angry with God because “He is doing this to me!” and we can’t bring ourselves to recognize our own failings and faults, and that God is not really “doing this to us” but just watching us sorrowfully from His eternal NOW as we do these spiteful things to “punish” Him.

And then consider how much of what we do daily is out of spite and passive aggression.  Spite at family members, spite at neighbours, spite at friends, spite at groups of people we “have a bone to pick” with, spite at other drivers, spite at other folks in public places or in the news, spite at professional groups, anyway, you get my drift.

Matushka Juliana Schmemann, Fr. Alexander Schmemann, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Matushka Juliana Schmemann, Fr. Alexander Schmemann, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Our spiritual point of view completely obscured by passion , resentment and pride, so we do and say things we later regret or find are mistaken in their target and intent. “Every evil screams out only one message: “I am good”! And not only does it scream, but it also demands that the people cry out tirelessly in response: ‘You  are good, you are freedom, you are happiness’ “(Father Alexander Schmemann)

All of these passions painting layer upon layer of darkness on the vision of our soul/spirit, completely obscuring reality. These “little sins” of spite, of holding grudges and passive aggression until vengeance be meted out are really great big sins of pride, of our ego, of needing to be seen and heard and esteemed, even by God, if we still remember Him.

My mother (God rest her soul) went to her grave, “died unshriven”  as they say, or bás a fháil gan sagart” as our Irish ancestors would say, that is “not having confessed sins to a priest and been given absolution”  after 32 years of rejecting God and the church and the sacraments. Because she just couldn’t accept that God’s plan for her life did not align with her plan for her life. After my father died, at 57,  my mother (always a very stubborn woman) rejected the church, priests, God, religion, holding out for her plan, until vengeance be meted out.

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Fyodor Dostoyevsky

In her early life, although we were poor, she did her best to raise us children so that we never wanted for anything essential, even including making our clothes.  She looked out for us with devotion and worshiped my father as her eternal love.  She died a unhappy woman at 92 still holding out for the material reality of her plan and rejecting the soul/spirit view of eternity.

God gave her 32 more years after he took Dad, to come to an understanding of reality and we discussed it and argued about it countless times for 32 years. I must have been a real pain in the ass when all she really wanted was to be left alone in her bitterness.

In some ways she reminded me, in the last 30 years of her life, of “The Old Woman and The Onion” fable which appears in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel “The Brothers Karamazov“.  My mother refused to give up her narrative and her plan regardless of the cost.

And all that misery and bitterness because she took TIME for reality and could never bring herself to accept that this world didn’t matter, that she had to give up HER plan for life and accept God’s plan:

15Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17And the world passeth away, and the concupiscence thereof: but he that doth the will of God, abideth for ever. (1 John 2, Douay-Rheims Bible)

We would be better to write poems of Love to God:

*****

Ah, Love, let us be true to one another!
For the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.”

(Mathew Arnold, English Poet, 1822 — 1888)

*****

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

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Inuit Snow Goggles

It seems obvious at this point what reality is and what the choice is that must be made, between a short syllable of time or all eternity, to devote our short lives to chasing happiness and success in this world or take off our goggles and pursue eternity.

But in order to detach from the important material things which fill up our lives and leave us bitter and afraid we have to abandon our “self”–ishness and trust God. Selfishness is rooted in “FEAR” of loosing something good for ourselves or missing out on something which might make us happy, or whatever … we often do not even know what it is we are afraid of loosing or missing out on, but we are sure someone else is getting it and we are not.

The main obstacle or hurdle to overcome when approaching the spirit/soul point of view is self love. It is immensely difficult to develop detachment from this world while fully immersed in the pool of self love where this time based world is everything.

By immersing oneself in the world of spirit, outside time and space, where everything material is unimportant we are able to appreciate and understand just what an infinitesimal part of reality is the part with time, which we choose to believe constitutes all of reality.

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Air Force One

So we have to give up our self and trust God, a difficult target when we have so much trouble trusting our family or our friends, or the folks at work or at the corner store.

Trust; trust God, who knows us so much better than we even know ourselves since he conceived us and created us and he loves us more than we love ourselves and he wants nothing more than our absolute happiness and well being. He knows what we need.

So in conclusion (for now)  “LET IT GO!” We have to move from “My will be done” to “Thy will be done”. Our future depends on it. Salvation does not arrive on Air Force One. Or any other means of conveyance.

Cheers

Joe

 

100-canadian-landscapeWe fight the long defeat because results are not as important as our Father’s delight. We fight the long defeat because we are not the authorities over “success.” We fight the long defeat because the final victory is coming.

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