Pen as Sword - Social Commentary, The Inner Struggle

Charity, Justice and Purgatory …

“Eternity’s Sunrise”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Eternity’s Sunrise”, (2000)

Harvest Time 2018

Harvest Time 2018

Days finally starting to turn cool, got down to about 5 degrees last night. Welcome relief from the 30 to 40 degree days of a couple of weeks ago. Harvest is getting into full swing around this part of the Shire. No complaints yet from anyone about a “bad year”. We can always hope, right?

Thanking God today, for time, for life, for insight, more opportunities for repentance, remorse and regret, atonement and perhaps an efficacious do-over with each new day, and in the end, absent complete reparation at the time of death, thanking God for merciful Purgatory and eternity of reparation, in hope, to look forward to. Ad Aeternitatum …

Sincerely hoping the prayers of others might have some transferable benefit in this economy of prayer and suffering. Pray for the dead and the dead will pray for you. Pray for your enemies and those who make your life miserable. Forgive, forgive, forgive, I have read somewhere that sins forgiven in this life are not held to one’s account in the particular and in the final judgement. Sincerely hoping that this memory is not simply the wishful thinking of a lost soul.

That is what one would do, should do,  as a charitable effort towards saving the souls of our neighbors, especially the ones we don’t really like. That is the effort of making one’s actions fit the idea of “fraternal charity”. Hoping that a rising tide of prayer lifts all souls, not only the praying, but the prayed for as well, in this great economy of prayer and suffering.

Love your enemies

What benefit is there to me of treating well those who treat me well? Of what spiritual utility is reciprocity of self love and self regard?

As Christ says, you have already had your reward for that. Everyone does that, there is nothing special or particularly meritorious about returning good will for good will.

But, the rubber hits the road when we start to put into practice the idea of loving our neighbor, even our neighbor who is our enemy. By demonstrating it in the reality of our daily conduct, the logical application of the moral idea, we live Truth as we find it in the Gospels..

I can’t speak well to history but in this day and age it appears that there are two paths. The first is the difficult path on which our actions follow on from and derive from our ideas, no matter how distasteful or difficult that may be. That path is known as the path of principal, that path which Albert J. Knock referred to in his paper on the “remnant” and the “masses”..

Ideology on the nature preserve. ideology needs protection to survive.

The other way is the more common or easy way in that we choose our ideas, our friends, our activities, and so on to cast ourselves in the best possible light and we espouse those ideas and beliefs which best make our actions out to be reasonable. Virtue signalling as a national Mantra …

This choice is embracing ideology instead of reality and truth, instead of the provable facts of daily existence. While the generally accepted rule of social conduct today is “all right minded people know this to be true” there is still the other path, the hard path, and it will not be denied no matter how loud the opposition gets.

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

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Fulton Sheen said: What a blood transfusion is to the body, reparation for the sins of another is to the spirit. Instead of separating when there are difficulties and trials, the Christian solution is to bear the other as a cross for the sake of his sanctification. The wife can redeem the husband, and the husband the wife. This transferability of sanctification from a good wife to a bad husband, or from a good husband to a bad wife, follows from the fact that they are two in one flesh.

As skin can be grafted from the back to the face, so merit can be applied from spouse to spouse. This spiritual communication may not have the romantic satisfaction in it that carnal communication has, but its returns are eternal. Many a husband and wife after infidelities and excesses will find themselves saved on Judgment Day, as the faithful partner never ceased to pour out prayers for his or her salvation.”

Fulton J. Sheen,  “Go to Heaven: A Spiritual Road Map to Eternity” (pp. 167). Ignatius Press.

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Praying Together

Praying Together

As I have remarked previously, real food for deep thought here, food to nourish consideration of love of neighbor as a real, active, concrete, pursuit rather than merely sterile words as part of some ritual.

As between two people in a marriage, between spouses, so also between siblings, and between children and parents, and even between friends and acquaintances, and neighbors, after infidelities, and excesses, after strife and turmoil and betrayal, and oceans of pain, the sinners will find themselves saved on Judgment Day, as the faithful never ceased to pour out prayers on their behalf for their salvation.

Even the prodigal son upon his return can storm heaven’s gates on behalf of the lost sheep of his or her family and friends and neighbors, and in so doing perhaps atone and make reparation for the multitude of sins of his and their past. So how does this apply to “Loving One’s Neighbor”, “Loving One’s Neighbor as One Loves Oneself”?

Working Together

Our self love, that love with which we regard ourselves and all our actions and thoughts is a very concrete love. It includes all our peculiarities, needs, tastes, feelings, beliefs and habits.

We are geniuses at rationalizing our own way of thinking, and in making excuses for our many faults and failings. We each have a vast sea of sympathy and understanding for our self in all these areas. And we should flood the sins of our neighbor with that vast sea of sympathy and patience and understanding.

This is My commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13, 34 – 15, 12).

But we seem to continue, mired in our self love to the exclusion of all else, and that self love expresses itself in outrage about the conduct and sayings of others, our neighbors.

Reflecting on the writings of Robert Cardinal Sarah, it is easy to see that our modern polite media society drifts from moral rebellion to sentimental rebellion and back to moral rebellion, virtue signalling like a bitter wind on a winter afternoon, striving, like Sisyphus, desperately, ceaselessly, climbing the mountain, always pushing the rock of their discontent and outrage.

Our media, Facebook, Twitter culture demands its rebellion, its hatred, in the moment, of whatever it  self-centeredly defines as unjust and unfair today.

This is the howler jungle, the parrot jungle, screeching its outrage, proud of its correct opinions, which are, in reality, the most pretentious pompous ideas we could ever find, baseless and founded in emotion and self love.

Cynical and shameless, it despicably revels in its dislikes. “I don’t care about the facts, Joe, I just want to have a pleasant hate with my friends”. Our modern polite existence is a propped-up life built entirely on noise, artificiality, and the tragic rejection of Truth.

What is Truth? Well, it depends … From revolutions to conquests, from ideologies to political battles, from our frantic crusade for “equality” to our pathological fixation on “progress”, silence is impossible.

The more noise, the more we “run in circles, scream and shout”, the less the likelyhood that we or especially others will notice what is wrong with us, our failings, our sins, our deviance.

And even worse, our “transparent” societies are all in hot pursuit of anonymity in noise, with an implacable hatred of silence, which we regard as contemptible, a backward primitive defeat, “What have you got to say to that?” “What do you think of that?” “There! that will shut up your jabber!” Let the bright light of noise shine on everything, just as long as it doesn’t shine on my own darkness, my own crimes, my own sins.

Waiting On The Night To Fall”, by “Casting Crowns”, from the album “Thrive” (2014)

Charles Pierre Baudelaire,  April 9, 1821 – August 31, 1867 was a French poet who also produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe. His most famous work, a book of lyric poetry titled Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), expresses the changing nature of beauty in modern, industrializing Paris during the 19th century.

Baudelaire’s highly original style of prose-poetry influenced a whole generation of poets including Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud and Stéphane Mallarmé, among many others. He is credited with coining the term “modernity” (modernité) to designate the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis, and art’s responsibility to capture that experience.

During Baudelaire’s day there was then perhaps even more scandal and turmoil in the Catholic Church than we now see. Starting with the French Revolution and it’s bloody trail of excess, the massacre of the Vendee, and up to Pius IX’s “Syllabus of Errors,” which was often held up to ridicule as an absurd statement of the church’s stand against the modern world and progress. The Syllabus is certainly comprehensible against the reality of these threats from modernity. In hindsight doesn’t theSyllabus of Errors seem prophetic in the light of secular modernism realized in our society of today.

My dear departed mother often remarked of my Atheist sister that she was “deeply spiritual”, also in commenting on her own sister, my Wiccan Priestess Auntie, that she was a “wonderful spiritual person, so good”. Baudelaire, in one of his most famous aphorisms says: “Everyone believes in God but no one loves Him, no one believes in Satan, but his smell is everywhere“.

My mother, in her short 92 years on this earth, went from devout Christian to total non-belief … dragged down by Vatican II, Church Scandal and personal tragedy … refused the counsel of a priest and extreme unction, the last rites on her deathbed. And her prodigal son storms heaven’s gates daily on behalf of the lost sheep of his family, in hope against hope that the sinners will find themselves saved on Judgment Day, as the faithful never ceased to pour out prayers on their behalf for their salvation.

This is the tenor of our times; evil, evil everywhere and ne’er a drop of good … love of self, love of our plan, our way, begetting a never ending, ever strengthening, downward spiral of deviance and rationalization of ever greater excesses, no escape from the mirror of our self regard without the grace of the Divine Will and the Word..

Why, when I am so conscious of my own misery and sins, my utter failure to be the creature God willed and wills me to be, without Whom and without Whose gratuitous gifts I am all misery do I have so much room left over in my soul to look with cynicism and censure upon the sins and failings of my fellow man, my neighbor who God wills me to love as myself?

There is a confusion in our day … modernity has conflated poverty and misery as if these two states are one and the same. They are not … misery seems to be the most common state of those who are the least afflicted with poverty. Attachment and ownership and the failure to find satisfaction in these seem to be at the root of misery

From Robert Cardinal Sarah, his commentary regarding noise … “The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise”

327. Unless we seek to suppress all the superficial aspects of our lives, we will never be united to God. By detaching ourselves from everything superfluous, we enter little by little into a form of silence. Throughout her life, Mother Teresa sought to live in great poverty so as to find God better in silence. Seeking God in her heart was the only wealth she had. She could spend hours before the Blessed Sacrament without uttering a single word. The nun drew her poverty from the humility of God. The Father possesses nothing, and Mother Teresa wanted to imitate him. She asked that her sisters be absolutely and sincerely detached from all material goods.

Sarah, Robert Cardinal. The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise (Para 327). Ignatius Press.

To paraphrase a famous hymn … “My life flows on in endless noise about earth’s lamentation, I catch the faint, though far-off hymn that hails a new creation.”  Yes, the far off hymn … that hails a new creation … the undiscovered country … beyond my self love and attachment to all the “stuff” to which I am so enamored … to leave the self behind and all the misery of stuff … to embrace the poverty and silence of God, impossible without His gift of grace … Aye, there’s the rub.

Maybe this blog is just part of all the noise? I have to consider that thought some more … what am I trying to achieve with this scribbling. I have changed quite a bit from when I started this work back in 2014.

Back then I was consumed with what was wrong with everything and everyone else, and how it all could be fixed, if only … pick my bright idea of the moment … Wow, watch me string all these disconnected events together … looking at them from the “right” perspective, look at what they reveal about motives and intent of the faceless ones … so in love with my cleverness …

so much self love … so little “fraternal charity” …

Cheers

Joe

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Life in a small town

Human Qualities …

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)

Sunday morning again … dark and cool, with a howling wind … +2 Celsius, 35 Kph wind … translates into +36 F and about 21 Mph for my American friends.

Spent a couple of hours over coffee with some gentlemen friends of mine yesterday who came by for a visit from a much larger city than my little village here in the Shire. While we get along great and have many things in common we also have great divides and differences.

One is a librarian by trade and the other is in the media business, both highly literate, both card carrying Canadian Liberals, and both very sure of the truth of their Liberal articles of faith regarding socialism, people, voters, guns, gun crimes and violence, and non-Liberal players.

They also have the typical Canadian knee–jerk reflex regarding the relative civilizing virtues of Canadians and Americans, and other non-Canadians, especially in the media, academia, and government.

While they do not exactly share my opinion that academia is the agar in the petri dishes of the Liberal Progressive weaponization lab called “university”, they acknowledge that a lot of the “qualities” of academia might lead one to that opinion absent the un-examined qualifiers inherent in the Liberal worldview.

We continue to be friends, and in reality became friends in spite of rather than because of our political and religious differences. The hallmark difference between both of them (and a few others) and the legions of zombies we all contend with when we move out of our comfortable shire is that they do not automatically assume that everyone who disagrees with them is just plain stupid.

These gentlemen assume that there must be a reason (more or less valid as the case may be), for our differing views and that people who are seeing a different world and draw different conclusions based on different life experiences are not automatically relegated to the dumpster of group opinion.

The Right of Free Speech ...

The Right of Free Speech …

What they (and I, I guess) are exhibiting are the human qualities of affability, thoughtfulness, courtesy, sociability, sincerity, and understanding. My considered opinion about the zombie hordes is just that – considered – after countless attempts to make friends with many of them, employing all of the above mentioned qualities, and being rejected, sometimes violently, by the majority and vilified for my efforts.

Eventually I step back and and consign them to the zombie straw-man dumpster for convenience, always leaving the door open for pleasant surprises and always understanding that one of my responsibilities in the universe is to protect all of them from the inevitable consequences of their affliction. Gee! I’m just so great and loving and understanding! I’m just such a nice guy … NOT!

Torches and Pitchforks ...

Torches and Pitchforks …

And that is MY affliction … that nasty red-necked neanderthal knuckle dragging a-hat is indeed one of the passengers in my personal bus of self on whom I keep an especially tight reign.

But he is still there and probably will be until I die. I pray that, if I manage to stay out of hell, that he stays there, but worry that eliminating him may be one of the contingent requirements for admission to heaven, or at least purgatory. I’m working on it.

So, these human qualities … passing lightly over the fact that they are godlike because they originate with God who is all goodness … are what one might reasonably qualify as the “better part” of humanity.

The degree to which we cultivate these qualities and apply them in our daily lives is the degree to which we ascend to some level of sanctity in our relations with our neighbors … what our church talks about when it exhorts us to practice “fraternal charity”.

“Hotaru” by Kobudo, from the album “Ototabi”, (2013)

St. Teresa of Avila (St. Teresa of Jesus)

St. Teresa of Avila (St. Teresa of Jesus)

Saint Francis de Sales used to say that “More flies are attracted by a drop of honey than a barrel of vinegar”, and Saint Teresa of Jesus  recommended “The holier you are, the more sociable you should be with your sisters (brothers). Although you may be sorry that all of your sisters’ conversation is not as you would like it to be, never keep aloof from them if you wish to help them and to have their love. We must try hard to be pleasant and to humor the people we deal with” (Way, 41).

“… Let him learn, then, and show by his works, the dignity proper to human nature and to society; let him regulate his countenance and bearing in a dignified manner and be faithful and sincere; let him keep his promises; let him govern his acts and his words; let him have respect for all and not harm the rights of others; let him endure evil and be sociable …”. (Pius XII, 1951)

Quagmire?

Quagmire?

These words drop into the dark well of our current society, politics and media and echo like the death knell of our civilization. These words encapsulate everything wrong with our current excuse for human relations.

How do we step back from this brink? How do we extricate ourselves from this hometown “quagmire” of our own making? There is an answer which has been around for about 4 thousand years … is anyone listening? I doubt it.

The answer is doing the “right” thing no matter what the cost, no matter how painful, no matter how we “feel” about our immediate personal interests … sometimes you just have to stand and die for the right thing … ever has it been so, world without end, amen.

Our polite society's view of "friend or foe"?

Our polite society’s view of “friend or foe”? Aren’t we just a little confused about what matters?

I used to have a friend, who I haven’t seen in years, who always used to remark “Joe!  This is not a hill to die on!” And he was mostly right, but every now and then those hills come around and the choices made set the direction for the future, and the path leads up or down as we make the choice.

Things are not as bad here as in the Middle East, but it gets really confusing when everyone who disagrees with us is “the enemy”, when we make the choice to take the easy, the complaint, the self interested way out.

How can we survive without “Fraternal Charity”, without Love?

“ゆりかごの歌”, William W. Spearman IV and Tomoko Okada, from the album “Beautiful Japanese Songs”, (2006)

The “Excellence of Love” has been in the public domain for at least two thousand years …
1If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

11When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Cheers

Joe

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