Pen as Sword - Social Commentary, The Inner Struggle

Common Sense & Love …

Inner Thoughts”  Rodrigo Rodriguez, from the album “Inner Thoughts” (2006)

John Martin, Sodom and Gomorrah, 1852

John Martin, Sodom and Gomorrah, 1852

Good Sunday morning, Gentle Readers … thinking about “Common Sense” these warm summer days …

“Common Sense” is the foundational apologetic for our modern polite society, the cornerstone upon which rests all manner of vacuous, unfounded, Potemkin Villages of unproven assumptions regarding whatever we are needing to justify according to the appetites of the moment and our animal desires at any particular time.

As I have been told at times, in no uncertain terms, “we don’t care about your facts Joe, we just want to have a pleasant conversation with our friends”, which logic justifies everything from pushing into the lineup at Starbucks to cutting across five lanes of traffic to make our exit, to murdering any inconvenient creature which might interfere with our “practically perfect in every way” lives.

WHOA! Tsunami of cynicism … who pissed in your coffee this morning Joe?  Yeah … whatever …

John Martin, painted “Sodom and Gomorrah“, oil on canvas, in 1852, 100 years before the birth of Joe. Many regarded Martin, while he lived, as a great British artist, perhaps one of the great British painters of the nineteenth century, he was a contemporary of  and surpassed only by his older contemporary colleague J. M. W. Turner, who he had a competition with for recognition.

John Martin, Le Pandemonium, 1841, in the Louvre.

John Martin, Le Pandemonium, 1841, in the Louvre.

But John Martin’s reputation declined after his death. His vision of reality and eternity seemed at odds with the tenor of the times, the acceleration of the precipitous slide into degenerate ruin touched off by the disaster of the French Revolution and culminating in the anti-christian progressive Charnel House we see all around us today.

We find ourselves comfortable ensconced in the visitors gallery at “Pandæmonium” watching the debate among the “Stygian Council” in the council-chamber of Pandæmonium.

John Martin, Satan Presiding at the Infernal Council, 1824

John Martin, Satan Presiding at the Infernal Council, 1824

Of course we need not travel to the capital to view the proceedings, they are available for all the public on any “parliamentary” channel on virtually every Main Stream media channel selection on every network.

What passes every day for the “wisdom of our times”, “what all right thinking people know is true”, is accepted more readily than our own mother’s milk as the truth and reality to which we should strive … “its only common sense” to … “fill in the blank with whatever you feel like doing or saying” at this moment.

For example, something “common” … these days it seems that it is only “common sense” to abandon one’s partner of the moment at the drop of a hat, if they fail to amuse and edify, if they fail to build up our “self”. The trophy wife and the accessory husband or child, our latest hook-up, like a coordinated purse or a good suit, part of the desired image, of keeping up. As soon as they might become a liability, or even just “boring” it is only “common sense” to “move on”.

And those of us , the remnant, rejected and repudiated, for our antiquated views, mores and beliefs, are chastised to “get with the times” … “Oh please, why don’t you grow up?” …  or cries of “Treason! Kill the traitor!

For “traitors” indeed are we, those who once emphatically embraced our modern way and now have turned their coats and found another path, now questioning the current meme which informs all our lives, no longer running with the herd but questioning the current direction of polite society. We knuckle dragging neanderthals, questioning what everyone knows is true.

We are the fifth column of the past, the “resistance” left behind, the “Pathfinders” lighting beacons for the coming invasion of Truth, the Centurions who left their shields in the heather and took barbarian brides because Rome was no longer that shining city on the hill and Jerusalem was laid waste, plowed up and sown with salt.

There is another way to look at this and no better explanation than that given by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, in his great little book.  “Go to Heaven: A Spiritual Road Map to Eternity” (pp. 164-167), from Ignatius Press.

So I am going to quote about 4 pages on Christian Marriage and Love, because there is no way I could write better and because the sentiments and ideas expressed here go straight to one of the largest problems with modern culture and our polite society:

“Ladies in Lavender”, Joshua Bell, from the album “the Essential Joshua Bell”, (2005)

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In the days of romance, the eternal emphasis was on the ego’s durability in love; (but the days of romance wear off, don’t they? ed) and … in the crisis of nothingness, the eternal element is God, not the ego.

Love now says, “I will love you always, for you are lovable through eternity for God’s sake.” He who courts and promises eternal love is actually appropriating to himself an attribute of God. During the dark night of the body, he puts eternity where it rightly belongs, namely, in God.

Once purified (by the nothingness, by mortality. ed), love returns. The partner is loved beyond all sensation, all desire, all concupiscence.

The husband who began by loving the other for his own sake, and then for her sake, now begins to love for God’s sake. He has touched the depths of a body, but now he discovers the soul of the other person.

This is the new infinite taking the place of the body; this is the new “always”, and it is closer to the true infinite because the soul is infinite and spiritual, whereas the body is not.

The other partner ceases to be opaque and begins to be transparent, the glass through which God and His purposes are revealed. Less conscious of his own power to beget love in others, he sees his poverty and begins to depend on God to complement that poverty. Good Friday now passes into Easter Sunday with the Resurrection of love.

Love, which once meant pleasure and self-satisfaction, changes into love for God’s sake. The other person becomes less the necessary condition of passion and more the partner of the soul. Our Blessed Lord said that unless the seed fall to the ground and die, it will not spring forth into life. Nothing is reborn to a higher life without a death in the lower.

The heart has its cycles as do the planets, but the movement of the heart is an upward spiral, and not a circle which turns upon itself. The planetary circles are repetitious; the eternal return to a beginning.

What if the husband becomes an alcoholic or unfaithful or beats his wife and children? What if the wife becomes nagging or unfaithful or neglects her children? Suppose the promise of marriage “for better or for worse” turns out for the worse; suppose either husband or wife becomes a chronic invalid, or develops antisocial characteristics. In such cases, no carnal love can save it. It is even difficult for a personal love to save it, particularly if the other party becomes undeserving.

But when these lower loves break down, Christian love steps in to suggest that the other person is to be regarded as a gift of God. Most of God’s gifts are sweet; a few of them, however, are bitter. But whether that other person be bitter or sweet, sick or well, young or old, he or she is still a gift of God, for whom the other partner must sacrifice himself or herself.

Selfish love would seek to get rid of the other person because he is a burden. Christian love takes on the burden, in obedience to the divine command: “Bear the burden of one another’s failings; then you will be fulfilling the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2).

And if it be objected that God never intended that anyone should live under such difficulties, the answer very flatly is that He does: “If any man has a mind to come my way, let him renounce self, and take up his cross, and follow me. The man who tries to save his life shall lose it; it is the man who loses his life for my sake that will secure it” (Mt 16:24, 25). What sickness is to an individual, an unhappy marriage may be to a couple: a trial sent by God in order to perfect them spiritually.

The Apostle Paul, Peter Paul Rubens, ca 1612

The Apostle Paul, Peter Paul Rubens, ca 1612.

Without some of the bitter gifts of God, many of our spiritual capacities would be undeveloped. As the Holy Word of God tells us: “We are confident even over our afflictions, knowing well that affliction gives rise to endurance, and endurance gives proof of our faith, and a proved faith gives ground for hope. Nor does this hope delude us; the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom we have received” (Rom 5:3-5).

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The Beatitudes”, from the album “Biscantorat – The Sound Of The Spirit From Glenstal Abbey” – The Monks of Glenstal Abbey – (2009)

(St. Paul, pictured on the above right, is all about sacrifice of self, self denial, dieing to self and suffering like Christ as atonement and reparation. Around 1612 Peter Paul Rubens made a series of portraits of the apostles, in commission of the Duke of Lerma.

All were shown with an attribute, a personal symbol. Rubens shows Paul with a sword and a book. The book refers to the teachings of Jesus which he helped spreading. The sword can have multiple meanings.

In his letter to the Christians of Ephesus Paul speaks of “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). The sword may also refer to his early life as a persecutor of Christians. Or it may refer to his alleged beheading: as a Roman citizen he had the right to be decapitated instead of being tortured to death.) But enough of St. Paul’s letters, back to Christian Love and Marriage …

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Christian love, on the part of one spouse, will help redeem the other partner. If a father will pay his son’s debts to keep him out of prison, if a man will give a blood transfusion to save his friend’s life, then it is possible in a spouse. As the Scriptures tell us: “The unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife; and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband” (1 Cor 7:14).

This is one of the most forgotten texts on the subject of marriage. It applies to the spiritual order the common experiences of the physical. If a husband is ill, the wife will nurse him back to health. In the spiritual order, the one who has faith and love of God will take on the burdens of the unbeliever, such as drunkenness, infidelity, and mental cruelty, for the sake of his soul.

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. 164-167). Ignatius Press.

*****

Real food for deep thought here.

As between two people in a marriage, between spouses, so also between siblings, and between children and parents, and even between friends and acquaintances, 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 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 in so doing perhaps atone and make reparation for the multitude of sins of his and their past.

Cheers

Joe

Naked Came I ... Job 1:21

Naked Came I … Job 1:21

Things look pretty grim towards the end of this life … no more distractions … Hmmm

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Venerable Fulton Sheen: Go To Heaven …

Promised myself that I would give equal time in my reading to secular health related reading, fantasy science fiction, and faith related books. The secular health related stuff is the heaviest going – like reading university text books, I can read about three times as much fluffy sci-fi as health stuff. The most satisfying so far at this time is the faith literature, which used to be even harder that the health textbooks.

Go figure … here is a quote from Venerable Fulton Sheen:

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, May 8, 1895 to December 9, 1979 (aged 84)

“… Not everyone, however, chooses to follow Christ, the Light of the world. This is not to say that men begin with a conscious hatred of the Light, because truth is as native to the mind as light to the eye. But when that Light shone on their souls and revealed their sins, they hated it just as the bank robber hates the searchlight the policeman has turned on him.

The truth which He brought, men recognized as a claim on their allegiance, because they were made for it; but since they had perverted their natures by evil behavior, His truth stirred their consciences and they despised it. All their habits of life, their dishonesties and baser passions, roused them in violent opposition to that Light.

Many a sick man will not undergo a medical examination, for fear the doctor may tell him something he does not like. He told them therefore that He was not a teacher asking for a disciple who would parrot His sayings; He was a savior who first disturbed a conscience and then purified it. But many would never get beyond hating the disturber. The Light is no boon, except to those who are men of good will; their lives may be evil, but at least they want to be good. His presence, He said, was a threat to sensuality, avarice, and lust.

When a man has lived in a dark cave for years, his eyes cannot stand the light of the sun; so the man who refuses to repent turns against mercy. No one can prevent the sun from shining, but every man can pull down the blinds and shut it out. Christ said that no one could be indifferent to Him. Every man, He claimed, had some contact with Him. He is free to reject His influence, but the rejection is the stone which crushes him. No one can remain indifferent once he has met Him. He remains the perpetual element in the character of every hearer.

No teacher in the world ever claimed that rejecting him would harden one’s heart and make a man worse. But here is One who, within three days of going to His death, said that the very rejection of Him would decay the heart. Whether one believes or disbelieves Him, one is never the same afterward. Christ said that He was either the rock on which men would build the foundation of life, or the rock which would crush them.

Never did men just simply pass Him by; He is the abiding presence. Some may think that they allow Him to pass by without receiving Him, but this He called fatal neglect. A fatal crushing would follow not only neglect or indifference, but also when there was formal opposition.

No teacher who ever lived told those who heard him that the rejection of his words would mean their damnation. Even those who believe that Christ was only a teacher would scruple at this judgment about receiving His message. But as He was primarily a savior, the alternative was understandable. To reject the savior was to reject salvation, as Our Lord called Himself in the house of Zacchaeus.

The questioners of His authority had no doubt of the spiritual significance of the parable and the reference to themselves. Their motives were discovered, which only exasperated more those whose designs were evil. When evil is revealed in the light, it does not always repent; sometimes it becomes more evil. …”

Sheen, Fulton J.. Go to Heaven: A Spiritual Road Map to Eternity (pp. 59-60). Ignatius Press.

Cheers

Joe

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