Pen as Sword - Social Commentary, The Inner Struggle

On Second thought … another look at “A New Paradigm”

“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)

“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)

“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)

03:30AM … Silence, and unanswered questions, and doubts, and “Nacht und Nebel”  or the modern variation, FUD, that is Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. Hiding … Why does talking about this make me uncomfortable?

Revisiting this particular train of thought to see if it takes me anywhere new, can I see any new peaks from the metaphorical dome car on the way through the Rocky Mountains of my mind?


7And the eyes of them both were opened: and when they perceived themselves to be naked, they sewed together fig leaves, and made themselves aprons.

8And when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in paradise at the afternoon air, Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God, amidst the trees of paradise. 9And the Lord God called Adam, and said to him: Where art thou? (Genesis 3: 7-9)


Where art thou? Things always seem grimmer after a relatively sleepless night … Where art thou … indeed … separated at birth … separated  ourselves … broke with our creator … self inflicted wounds … will not serve … and death entered in …

Was there ever a time in human history when mankind was not completely mired in sin and evil? Was there ever a time in human history when mankind wasn’t playing “Russian Roulette” for pride and personal ambitions and frequently blowing his own brains all over the wall of life?

Cardinal Gerhard Müller

Cardinal Gerhard Müller

I find this inner struggle of developing spiritual awareness is frequently made more difficult by the reported antics of those charged with my instruction.

Is the error, my sin in this, my curiosity, that I seek after this reporting? Or perhaps is it that I deceive myself in believing that I somehow know what is right, is this all just my pride?

I don’t know, so I cling desperately to Cardinal Gerhard Müller’s explanation that this is simply a misunderstanding. Again and again, Cardinal Müller has been the victim of criticism in some Traddy circles. This, in Father Hunwicke’s view, is totally unjustified:


” …  (Müller’s) stance on Amoris Laetitia is perfectly rational and it doesn’t need guarantees of its perfect orthodoxy. His is one way to skin a cat.

4 Cardinals

His Eminence Walter Brandmüller, President emeritus of the Pontifical Commission of Historical Sciences, His Eminence Raymond Leo Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, His Eminence Carlo Caffarra, Archbishop emeritus of Bologna (Italy), and His Eminence Joachim Meisner, Archbishop emeritus of Cologne (Germany)

The other skinning method is that of the Four Cardinals (the Dubia Cardinals – two of whom have since died); to seek a clarification which will put its orthodoxy beyond the doubt which they judge some prelates and some hierarchies have created.

Each Feline Modality is directly aimed at the affirmation of the same orthodoxy. Whether as a matter of fact there is ‘doubt’ about what AL teaches, is for individuals to assess.”


Or is the error in this distress, an error of my honest expectation that those who have devoted the entire course of their lives to this struggle for awareness should not have found meaningful examples and left trail blazes to guide me easily on my travel?

Or is this train of thought really just some sterile version of self-pity? This post started out as a momentary “what the heck” exclamation prompted by the latest “pontifications” emanating from the Vatican.

It seems that much of what comes out of Rome these days is a freeway to sin rather than guidance towards the good, that is, a preferred guidebook on the narrow path to Divine Intimacy.

Fear in Rome

Fear in Rome

I end up experiencing sadness instead of joy every time I wander into that neighbourhood. Continuous flashbacks to late 60’s early 70’s, and the chaotic fall-out from Vatican II.

Flashbacks to a time when, in my all-knowing youthful pride, I decided that I didn’t give a rat’s backside about the Catholic Church since they (the Curia) obviously didn’t know their own backside from a hole in the ground.

How can one reform “Truth”? Only “Not Truth” can be reformed, only “Not Truth” can give rise to “A New Paradigm”, a bureaucratic “Policy Change” with a new “Briefing Book” full of platitudes, half baked excuses and accusations.

So the post grows and grows with each new thought … again I am realizing that this spontaneous outpouring of angst is now around  5000 words and I’m still writing. Realizing, as when I first attacked this discomforting subject that it is just too long.

I have decided that this needs to be broken into multiple parts – again … like multiple therapy sessions on the couch … whoever is sitting on the chair behind my head must be VERY patient. Who knows, when we start, where the train of thought is going? Maybe it needs a disclaimer at the start of each part, or maybe a warning about toxic waste?

When the Scribes and Pharisees declared “better that one should die than that all suffer”, they were not talking about “all” the people, they were talking about all the entire crop of Scribes and Pharisees of that day …. they were talking about the “all” of themselves and the threat to their own power, pride and honor which Yeshua  embodied.

Saint Teresa of Avila says “However slight may be our concern for our reputation, if we wish to make progress in spiritual matters we must put this attachment right behind us, for if questions of honor prevail we will never make great progress or come to enjoy the real fruits of prayer, which is intimacy with God.”

The Saint also says that concern for their honor is the reason why many people who have devoted themselves to the spiritual life, and are very deserving on account of many good works, are still “down on earth” and never succeed in reaching the “summit of perfection”.

They remain mired because they are so insistent on preserving their reputation, so extremely attentive to every small point, every minor rule and little detail, so strict or exact in the observance of the formalities or amenities of conduct or actions with regards to their station in life.

To paraphrase Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. from the book “Divine Intimacy”:  Attachment to the things of this world, especially to our honor, is shown in all those large and small susceptibilities arising from our attitude that wishes to affirm our personality, hold onto the esteem of others and make our point of view prevail.

This attitude shows up in the various schemes, conscious and petty or not, to obtain and keep privileges and honorable positions where our own views, which we always think are good, will prevail. In this way we hope to make obvious our abilities, works, and our own personal merits which are always worthy in our own eyes.

Pride, pride, pride, it is always about pride.



And “The Guardian” is announcing that the Vatican has reached an agreement with the Peoples Republic of China … Seriously?!  They can’t actually mean that, can they? Interesting times indeed … I wonder where this new “Orient Express” is heading?

Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Humility … revisited.

Hamachidori“, by Ryutaro Hirota, played by Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra & Kazumasa Watanabe, from the album “Konomichi―Favorite Japanese Melodies (Japanese Melody Series)” (2004)

“Konomichi―Favorite Japanese Melodies (Japanese Melody Series)” (2004)

“Konomichi―Favorite Japanese Melodies (Japanese Melody Series)” (2004)

Been writing about all the NO JOY places in my life, my personal raised bed garden of negativity and resentment. So, where to go from here?  Presumably to a better place, I hope, a place more accepting of my own failings and the differences of opinion and point of view encountered every day. A place where the resolutions I have made about change and dealing with my failings actually get realized in my daily life and not just muttered about when I am talking to myself, by myself.

How about trying to spend more time contemplating my own faults and less time opinionating (is that even a word?) about the faults of others. So what to do about the EGO thing, namely MY ego. No fragile shy retiring flower is THAT ego, just one forged titanium armor plated battle bot, which believes that the best defense is a good offense.

I love my opinions, and I enjoy having them, and I enjoy writing about them in this blog. After all, that’s why I started writing so many posts ago, to get this stuff off my chest and this is all about me, right?  Isn’t it?  You mean it’s not all about me?  (8-(

My opinions are big brain opinions, and require serious judgement, and thinking about what the judgements point to. And where’s the fun in opinions that are flawed and imperfect, no, I’m aiming for “practically perfect in every way”, I want Poppins Opinions! 

Oh, anyone at all can have lots of opinions, even without any thought at all, but where’s the fun in that? I hear all about that in the media every day whenever I bother to turn on the news. Anyone can do that, anytime at all. No, what I want are opinions with real weight and credibility, and these sorts of opinions require some amount of critical thought in order to at least determine if they pass the sniff test, and that is what I’m trying to achieve, right?

If I hope to achieve “respected” opinions, I have to give some consideration of the likelihood of this opinion balloon getting a lift, if this particular batch of hot air has more lift than the surrounding hot air.

No point in judging and articulating exactly what is irritating and frustrating in others, in what they say, in what they do, in making wild ass guesses about motives and intentions if I can’t prove logically and in detail why I’m right about them being ass-hats.

Hairy Roaring EGO!

Hairy Roaring EGO!

Great big hairy legged EGO roaring it’s superiority for the whole world to applaud. This is the driving desire underlying the whole opinion thing, and there is truly “No happiness here for Joe” … DAMN!

Seriously, I just have to chuck all these NO JOY modes of thinking, gotta chuck all these judgemental habits, the resentment of opinions and actions which differ from mine … No Joy HERE! My life depends on this.

Examining my 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.

Meekness, Humility, aye, there’s the rub … sincerity … being completely honest with oneself about oneself …

So, being completely honest with oneself seems to be rather painful, admitting to myself that in fact I am not “practically perfect in every way” hurts. What to do about this?

Dune, Frank Herbert, 1965

Dune, Frank Herbert, 1965

I am thinking that I have to keep on doing this until it doesn’t hurt anymore. Or, at least keep on doing this until I can simply accept what is and accept the hurt … to paraphrase Frank Herbert’s Bene Gesserit Litany against Fear:

I must not fear the hurt.

Fear of the hurt is the mind-killer.
Fear of the hurt is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear of the hurt.
I will permit my fear of the hurt to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear of the hurt has gone there will be nothing.

Only I will remain.

Reference the novel “DUNE” 1965  which I thought was a great book back in the early 70’s, along with Atlas Shrugged,  “The Virtue of Selfishness“, by Ayn Rand,   Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Persig  and  An Introduction to Zen Budhism by D.T. Suzuki.

Kumo ga Ngareru  Gogo”, Kobudo, from the album “Ototabi”, (2013)

Ah, those were the days … back when I was all knowing and immortal and certain that Man was the pinnacle of all things. Back then I hadn’t yet discovered that “man as the pinnacle” had all kinds of unhappiness attached to it.

But, back to “Only I will remain” … here I come upon a whole new world of effort, because if only “I” remain then where is the room for God? All these problems of judgement and arrogance and resentment and pride start with the foundational problem of “Only I Remain”. God cannot come to us if we are full of ourselves, if I am full of myself God has nowhere to sit in my soul. God is polite and loving and will not force Himself onto a “self” centered soul.

I can’t be God centered if I am self centered. And developing a “self” that is not “self-centered” involves chucking out all the “No Joy” opinions and behaviors of the past. Even the idea of a “Self” which is not “Self-centered” is kind of an oxymoron, right? It’s sort of like that stupid old joke favored by the Lefties about “Military Intelligence”.

Steering a course away from the shoals of “Self-centered” means adapting myself to the mentalities, preferences and needs of others and doing the right thing with good will. Yeah …  doing the right thing with good will … a whole world of struggle and discipline in that little task.

If I give myself a free pass to say whatever comes to mind because “the other” whoever, is wrong, rude, ungrateful, malicious, stupid, they don’t understand, they never learn … then I have already run aground on the reef of my ego.

The excuses I use to heal my self image and justify my bad behaviour are endless. And they are all completely useless in the quest to steer away from being self-centered. The fact is that if I am full of myself God has no room to come into my soul. The fact is that in everything … in essence and in act … in natural and supernatural … I depend on Him and I can do nothing without Him.

I continue to exist, even in my self-centeredness, because He wills that I exist. Divine Charity …

More thinking about humility and meekness … and charity … more thinking …

So far what this is all about is the Wimbledon of Pride, the endless back and forth of pride and the offshoot of pride, anger, and the endless search for approval so necessary to self. So lets see what Father Gabriel has to say about humility.

Charity is the essence of Christian perfection, for charity alone has the power to unite man to God, to his last end. But for us poor, miserable creatures, whom God wishes to raise to union with Himself, is charity the ultimate basis of spiritual life? No. There is something deeper still which is, so to speak, the basis of charity, and that is humility.

Humility is to charity what the foundation is to a building. Digging the foundation is not building the house, yet it is the preliminary, indispensable work, the condition sine qua non. The deeper, and firmer it is, the better the house will be and the greater assurance of stability it will have. Only the fool “built his house upon sand,” with the inevitable consequence of seeing it crumble away very soon. The wise man, on the contrary, “built … upon rock”; storms and winds might threaten, but his house was unshakable because its foundation was solid.

Humility is the firm bedrock upon which every Christian should build the edifice of his spiritual life. “If you wish to lay good foundations,” says St. Teresa of Jesus to her daughters, “each of you must try to be the least of all” That is, you must practice humility. “If you do that … your foundation will be so firmly laid that your Castle will not fall”.  Humility forms the foundation of charity by emptying the soul of pride, arrogance, disordered love of self and one’s own excellence by replacing them with the love of God and our neighbor.

The more humility empties the soul of the vain, proud pretenses of self, the more room there will be for God. “When at last [the spiritual man] comes to be reduced to nothing, which will be the greatest extreme of humility, spiritual union will be wrought between the soul and God.”  (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 301 – 302)



Sitting under a tree, weeping, thinking … praying …

Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Some More Thoughts on Humility …

Hamabe No Uta (Narita), Jean-Pierre Rampal, from the album “Rampal: Japanese Folk Melodies”, (1978)

Jean-Pierre Rampal, Japanese Folk Melodies, (1978)

Another Sunday rolls around, happening with ever increasing frequency, or so it seems to my “older” self. In my wasted yute the weeks seemed to stretch on forever and ever and ever. Not so much now when every precious second slips away like (insert favorite metaphor here). Weather brilliantly sunny, clear blue sky, only the slightest hint of a breeze

So, I continue to contemplate the ongoing difficulties encountered in the cultivation of the virtue of humility after a lifetime of having none. For most of my life I have considered humility the domain of cowards and hypocrites who were faking it.

There may be some truth in that belief regarding most of the people walking the earth but it really illustrates just how little humility has been happening on my part over the last 5 decades or so.

Even if we start out humble (truly) there is little to no encouragement in our society to remain humble and much is made of pride as essential to success in our culture which absolutely anathematizes humility and all it’s offshoots.

For just a tiny example of the truth of this assertion try this little thought experiment: “try to imagine a truly humble person with a Facebook page”, … wow! staggering, right? A humble person on Facebook is clearly an oxymoron of truly cosmic proportions to anyone with a neuron firing.

Kananaskis Range

That experiment illustrates just one tiny facet of the pride centered universe of self which is our culture. Try another experiment. Try for a moment to imagine your first job interview … are you going into that pushing “humble” or are you trying to paint yourself as the best human being that ever lived and the obvious choice for the position you are interviewing for.

Right … around the water cooler or at coffee break are we trying to be the lowest or are we striving to outdo everyone else in how great our weekend was, either especially wonderful or especially awful but either way ours was just the most – Ya think THAT was bad?

Anyway, you understand what I am talking about.  In our culture, humility is not one of the top 5 desirable traits on anyone’s list. I doubt it would appear in anyone’s top 100 list.  So humility and detachment appear to me like two High Himalaya ranges barring me from the passage to the much desired interior, meanwhile I languish struggling in the wasteland of Mordor.

But lets look again at what Father Gabriel has to say :


The soul who desires to reach the sublime heights of union with God must walk in the path of profound humility, for as the divine Master taught, only “he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Lk 18, 14).

The higher the ideal of sanctity to which we aspire, the more sublime the end toward which we tend, the more we will have to descend and excavate in ourselves the fertile abyss of humility “Abyssus abyssum invocat” (Ps 41, 8); the abyss of humility calls to the abyss of infinite mercy, of grace and the divine gifts, for “God resisteth the proud, but to the humble He giveth grace” (I Pt 5,5). We must humble ourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, sincerely recognize our nothingness, take account of our poverty, and if we wish to glorify ourselves, we must glory, like St. Paul, solely in our infirmities.

It is only in our weakness, humbly acknowledged, that grace and divine virtue work and triumph (cf. 2 Cor 12,9). Even if we are of the number of those good souls who sincerely desire to advance on the road to perfection but who are relying too much on their own powers and personal initiative, we can apply to ourselves to great advantage the valuable warning that St. Therese of the child Jesus gave a novice: “I see clearly that you are taking the wrong road; you will never reach the end of your journey. You want to scale a mountain, and the good God wills to make you descend … It is Jesus who takes upon Himself to fill your soul according as you rid it of imperfections (C).

The sublime ideal of union with God totally exceeds our capacities, which are those of weak creatures. If we aspire to it, it is not because we expect to reach it by our own efforts and initiative, but because we trust that God Himself, according to His promise, will come and lead us by the hand. But God will not act thus with a proud soul. He stoops only to the humble; the more lowly He finds a soul, the closer He draws it to Himself. Humility deepens the soul’s capacity to receive the fullness of divine gifts.  (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 302 – 303)




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