“ゆりかごの歌”, William W. Spearman IV, from the album “Beautiful Japanese Songs” (2006)
Presence of God — O Lord, teach me how to love You in my neighbor and to love my neighbor in You and for You.
There are not two virtues of charity, one the love of God and the other love of neighbor; for the charity by which we love God and the neighbor is one and the same. We love God because he is infinitely lovable, and we love the neighbor because faith teaches us to recognize in him a reflection of the lovableness of God. The motive for fraternal charity is the same as the motive for loving God, as we must always love God either directly in Himself or indirectly in the neighbor. Because fraternal charity has God for its ultimate object and last end, it is identical with the theological virtue by which we love God. …
… If I love my neighbor because he is congenial, renders me service, or sympathizes with me, or because I enjoy his friendship, if I love him because of his fine qualities and pleasing manners, my love is merely human and is not the love of charity. If I am good to my neighbor and help him because I am sorry for him or feel bound to him by human ties, my love may be called sympathy or philanthropy, but it cannot yet be called charity. …
… The more my love is based on human motives alone — like congeniality, natural gifts, ties of blood — the more it is simply human love which has nothing of the merit and value of charity. “Love of neighbor is not meritorious if the neighbor is not loved because of God”. (St. Thomas) …
from “Divine Intimacy“, by Fr. Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalene, O.C.D. , Copyright 1953 Monastero S. Guiseppe – Carmelitane Scalze, (Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Rome), 2014 edition. day 258, The Motive For Fraternal Charity, pp 751 -753.
So it seems to me that we need, very much need, the unlovable in our lives in order to facilitate the practice of fraternal charity. It seems to me that it is much too easy to fall into the trap of human love all un-noticed unless the loved one is of the unlovable category of folks – the difficult one, the malicious one, the unpleasant one, the narcissistic one, in other words, one can be fairly sure of the practice of charity only when the object of that charity is thoroughly unlovable.
What a drag!
Shikamaru’s expression “What a drag.” was “めんどくさい (mendokusai)” in the original Japanese Naruto manga and anime.
Today’s quick Japanese phrase is めんどくさい (mendokusai) – “troublesome” or “bothersome”. This is a very common phrase to use when you don’t want to do something. The phrase is translated in the dubbed anime as “What a Drag”.
“Crux Fidelis”, Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, from the album “Lent at Ephesus”, (2014)
The first Sunday of the month we celebrate our Mass on the Saturday evening – last night. This leaves my Sunday morning free for thinking and reading and catching up on blogs and drinking good coffee. Every now and again I come across an outstanding post on someone else’s blog or an article in an online publication or some beautifully articulated observation.
A beautifully articulated observation about the reality which we like to pretend is a good society and within the shelter of which we pretend that we are good persons. But no amount of virtue signalling can change the underlying evil evident in our modern society, can disguise the fact that this is the worldly kingdom of the Father of Lies. Just such a beautifully articulated observation is an article by Anthony Esolen which I came across at LifeSiteNews:
“What is remarkable in our age is not that half of our citizens believe it is wrong to kill the child in the womb, the child whose existence, except in the rare case of rape, is owing to our own voluntary actions. That would be likecongratulating ourselves for believing that it’s wrong to steal someone’s car, to lie under oath to hurt an enemy, to throw our aged parents into the street, or to desecrate churches.
Where is the great moral insight? What’s remarkable instead is that half of us believe it is all right to snuff out the life of that child – because nothing must be allowed to interfere with our “right” to pursue pleasure, as we use the child-making thing as a sweating-off spa on our way to money, prestige, a five-bathroom mansion for two, a tenured chair in Women’s Studies, the mayoralty of Camden, another year of nights out on the town, whatever.
How have we come to this pass? Our imaginations are stunted or diseased, that’s how. Let churchgoers beware. You cannot spread pro-life icing on a cake made of flour and rat poison. Our children meet with rat poison everywhere.
Do they watch Friends on television, that un-funny amoral “comedy” about nihilist young urbanites trading depressions in the mattress with one another? Rat poison.
Do they watch movies like – well, the moronic Titanic, wherein a shrewish girl and a pouty boy fornicate before they are swallowed by the deep blue sea? Rat poison.
Do their school teachers feed them such exalted lyric poetry as that of Sylvia Plath, imagining what it would be like to smash her sleeping husband’s head like a rotten pumpkin?
Or the bogus Laramie Project, making a hero out of a deeply disturbed young man, killed in a meth deal?
Is it an endless cafeteria of ghouls, vampires, girl-murderers – Lord of the Flies, without the severe moral imagination and the talent of William Golding? Lord of the Flies, Lady of the Flies, Cheerleaders of the Flies, Lifeguard of the Flies, Mr. Goodbar of the Flies, Fight Club of the Flies, Hunger of the Flies?
Rat poison, with that peculiar character of rat poison, that the more the critter consumes, the thirstier it grows….”( READ THE REST HERE)
… 34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever”. 36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”
39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.”
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.
44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
I tend to avoid LifeSiteNews because, while what they report on is true and accurate, what they offer is an unrelenting reportage of failure, destruction, and the ever accelerating death throes of our culture and society.
I have difficulty finding any hope on the site and there are absolutely no viable solutions in a class with the dragons we face. If I had to report something good about the site I would have to mention an important insight first realized while reading this site, namely, to say that first, there is no hope, and second, that none of it matters.
None of it matters … this world is not important … the sweaty, reality challenged, daily dramas of our society Simply – Aren’t – Important! It’s all just so much Rat Poison.
What IS important is that ONLY Eternity is important. There is absolutely NOTHING in this world which is important in Eternity EXCEPT how we conduct ourselves in relation to this World, and in relation to Eternity. There truly is NO hope in this world, and this world, and the things of this world, are doomed to pass away returning into the cesspool from which they arose like the monster from the slab of our self worship. And make no mistake about it. If we ARE of this world (and who isn’t, to a greater or lesser degree?) we WILL pass away with this world and return to the cesspool as rats do after eating Rat Poison.
So what are we to do? How can we cope with the necrotic dissolution of everything we hold dear in this material world? Now, sitting here at 65 years old watching my friends and customers suffering and dieing and experiencing the utter powerlessness of the best of human efforts to find happiness and ease. It is a lot easier to imagine a universe where we are manifestly NOT the pinnacle of everything and most definitely not worthy of worship as we once found it so easy to do in our twenties and thirties.
In our twenties and thirties – anyone’s twenties and thirties – it is easy to love … ourselves … until the body knows discomfort, pain, death …
Once upon a time…young bodies…beauty woven around a knot of need…preening like the flowers of carnivorous plants. Each of us the most important thing in the world, such was the seduction of that knot of need. and now, only the moment, each tumbling into the next. The body knows discomfort, a slowly growing pain…over and over again…as firm and true as steps, the firm earth reverberating up through my boots, the tactile affirming reality over and over again and nothing else matters… paraphrase from “The Malazan Book of the Fallen”
So why do I start to feel joy like a faint but growing light further down this sewage filled tunnel which we call “life” for want of something deeper, more accurate, less flattering to our self image? The answer to this is in a word — “prayer”. Not just a few minutes spent on my knees struggling to find something meaningful to say, or in my attendance at church for an hour, chanting the responses by rote while dreaming about what I will have for lunch, but prayer that turns every waking minute into a prayer.
Now, it has been my observation, that those of this world repudiate every mention of prayer as trite, ineffectual, quaint, superstitious, lacking in intellectual validity – in short, prayer is mocked and belittled as the refuge of idiots. And yet this is not so “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did.”
No, prayer, in reality, becomes a more or less continual awareness of Jesus living and growing within us. True, at first we are very much enmeshed in the less side of “more or less”. But as we persevere we become aware of Jesus working in us, molding us to his desire, which is our cooperation, our submission, our surrender, our companionship, as we begin to give up our own way and surrender ourselves to His way.
Mortification of self begins as a painful exercise but, practiced sincerely, one starts to get glimpses of mortification as invitation to Jesus to take the place of our self in our life. I am thinking that it is a habitual and determined opposition to the will of the Lord that is the greatest barrier to development of an intimate relationship with Him.
We continue to assert our self. We resist accepting that we cannot welcome Him into some parts of our life but steadfastly slam the door on other parts of that life. He is present everywhere and at all times and waits patiently for our surrender of those parts which we willfully try to “keep private”.
We start to realize that we want god in our lives but we insist on doing it on our terms, in our way, and not surrendering to God, to His will and His direction. That is why we only get glimpses of that light and joy at the end of the sewer.
It’s a stone cold merciless bitch, this forcing oneself to move away from the pool of narcissism and self worship and our attachments to the rat poison of our worldly lives. And it is the only path through the tunnel to Eternity.
empty oneself of every trace of belief in one’s “goodness”
“Think Of Me”, Andrew Lloyd Webber, from the “Phantom Of The Opera” soundtrack album, (2004)
-8 degrees Celsius, sunny with cloudy periods, or cloudy with sunny periods. Sunday is a good day for thinking. I might even get dressed! Or not! Sure wish I had a hot tub.
I’d guess that most of this is a personal gedanken experiment, the meanderings of someone who has too much time to think and not enough experience of the reality of daily life given that I have retreated to the Shire and spend my time congratulating myself about how intelligent and fortunate I am.
So I am indulging myself by contemplating my lack of charity, patience and humility, my default position (un-vocalized these days) that I know the answer, or at least I am on the right track, and anyone who doesn’t get that is an idiot, full of sound and fury but (fortunately) signifying nothing.
Why do I feel deeply offended by some of what I read over at (for example) Being Liberal(how convenient that there is an easily accessible site where the left can effusively wear their heart on their sleeve), and other sites, and by what I hear every day on most of the MSM both Canadian and American (thank God for satellite TV)? Polarized doesn’t even begin to describe the gulf between the views.
Is it uncharitably to imagine progressives in the image of Tolkien’s Orcs and Goblins? I am certain that in fact the orcs and goblins of “The Lord of The Rings” were in fact literary references to the progressives of Tolkien’s day. Was Tolkien uncharitable?
Is it because they and their opinions are truly wrong or is it simply because they don’t agree with me? Why do I strongly feel that they (Progressives) haven’t thought through the implications of their declarations about reality and desirable social engineering, and the concomitant ridiculing and vilification (Bulverism) of virtually any voice raised in disagreement (is this what I am doing?).
Many of these folks are manifestly intelligent and well intentioned. Many of them do a lot of “good” work, spending their lives helping the downtrodden and disenfranchised, the needy and destitute.
But equal or greater numbers seem to spend all their waking hours ridiculing their “enemy” and explaining in great depth and with great volume why anyone who disagrees with them, any religious who do not share their religion, are wrong and not to be credited with any reasonable points.
Any attempt to engage in any discussion is met with an immediate attack aimed at destroying the new opponent which their “sensors” have detected.
In a logically twisted sort of way it seems at times that if they ( Progressives) are right (as in “correct”) to castigate and vilify those whose views they don’t share, that is, if they are truly OK to be writing and broadcasting and posting what they “believe” is reality (because after all they are all “basically good people”), then it must be equally OK for me to do the same thing, right?
And if they are wrong about what they believe and post, etc., then is it not equally wrong for me to indulge myself , so where do we go from this impasse? How do we move from this “preferential option for confrontation” to a place where we can discuss methods and directions “with good will”?
Maybe the answer can be found in looking dispassionately at the declarations and the methods and examining the points, assumptions and observed results, all the while striving not to take anything personally. I think “Not taking anything personally”, even when is is obviously intended to be both personal and as hurtful as possible, is how we get out of this conflict.
That requires a boatload of Charity and Humility, which I find to be in short supply these days. That’s what I’m working on, and I am making progress, albeit glacially at times.
So methods and declarations, the slings and arrows of outrageous fate … I find these days, having arrived at a political position closely akin to “A Pox On All your Houses“, that politics simply no longer provokes anything beyond sadness, but Faith, Logical argument, unreasoned Theological or Philosophical opinions still field barbs I cannot resist. No lack of Pride there, eh?
“The Music Of the Night”, Andrew Lloyd Webber,from the “Phantom Of The Opera” soundtrack album, (2004)
For example, “God can create anything so can he create a weight too heavy for him to lift? (or some other rhetorical impossibility)”. This is a rhetorical question of the sort I have had thrown at me when I respond or comment on egregious declarations about Catholicism.
In the past, unfortunately, I had great difficulty letting them pass (still a struggle) and my naturally provocative nature makes non-believers uncomfortable.
Which sort of discussions frequently came up (before I learned to keep my damned mouth shut) when being accosted by unbelieving family members (or other acquaintances who are also unbelievers) who in their cleverness and self worship imagine themselves astute. ( AHA! I’ve got ya now Joe). Let’s discredit Truth and by proxy discredit guilt and responsibility.
Another variation goes like this “If god can do anything, can he create a 4 sided triangle or a square circle?” (Now I’ve really gotcha, eh?). The argument might be termed “Reductio ad absurdum” but is actually “Ad hominum”. Always looking for a way to put down and belittle believers, insecure in their unbelieving, and unaware of their logical error since logic has been conspicuous by it’s absence for most of their 50 or 60 years on this earth.
Of course God CAN create anything, and God CAN do anything … except self contradiction is not a thing. God is THE absolute almighty being and imagining a weight which The Almighty can’t lift is is to imagine a contradiction in terms. A four sided triangle or a square circle are glib but utterly meaningless constructs.
These geometric and physical fantasies are all nonsense, all nothing, rather like approaching the real world with nothing but theories about how things “should” operate and more theories about why the world doesn’t conform to the first theories. And if the world fails to conform to one’s narrow view, well, I have a theory about that…
If one is accustomed to believing one’s theories about the world and people no matter how incongruent with observed facts and events, when the world diverges from the theories, then it is a small leap to believing that things like square circles are logical.
By way of illustrating the prevalence of illogic in daily life let’s look at the canard of “Pro Choice”. Very popular with my sisters – Pro-Choice – interesting place to build your house of cards.
Imagine us entering a restaurant and being shown to our table by a helpful Maitre d’. The waiter approaches with your drinks and menus and everyone quietly peruses their menu. The waiter returns after the drinks are almost gone to take our order “Ladies and Gentlemen, may I take your order, what are your choices?”.
Vulnerable … the Deception
I order Prime Rib Au Jus, rare with all the trimmings and veggies, my partner chooses the Baked Atlantic Salmon with Roast Potatoes and a Spinach Salad, the rest of the guests reply “Yes!”
The waiter, a little confused, repeats “What are your choices, folks?” and the rest of the guests reply again “Yes!, we are pro-choice, therefore Yes!, our choice is “choice”!
“I am very sorry folks but we cannot serve “choice” here, we are unable to create “choice” here, we need you folks to make a choice between the various items which you have on the menu.
Then and only then can we move forward here, you have to MAKE a choice, “choice” is not a choice. The waiter is faced with an insoluble problem both logical and grammatical.
You have to make a choice! You can’t choose “Life” because that would make you “Pro-Life”, and unfortunately the only other “choice” is “Death”. Death for the children, death for the elderly, death for the handicapped, death for the ugly, “eugenics” that’s the game, and we are well on our way to the Great Society. Newspeak presents “Pro-Choice” as a euphemism for “Kill everyone who you find inconvenient”. Pro-Choice is the biggest, most cowardly, cop-out of our modern society.
What’s the moral difference between killing folks in a clinic, and killing folks in a ditch?
The logic of “Pro-Choice” can apply to any behaviour in the entire range of human behaviors, and the language of Progressive Newspeak will give you a get out of jail free card for any perversion or inhuman crime imaginable. Just vote the right way and you can do anything you like, because you are basically a nice person, right?
There is no such thing as sin, “I’m OK, You’re OK” that’s what Progressive Social Theory teaches the voting public. And this social theory leads to some unbelievable practices. But the problem is that “denial” is not the same as “proof”, and material reality in every aspect requires “proof”. Of course, “outside” the material is also part of reality but no proof regarding extra-material things is possible for humans.
Any cursory observation of modern life and the memes dispensed by the talking heads on MSM outlets make it manifestly obvious, that for the Secular Progressive Humanist, the Theory is more important than facts, logic or anything else, especially any part of daily reality that seems to go against the Theory!
Unfortunately, if one is completely immersed in the sea of illogicality it is impossible to understand that God cannot do or create anything that is a self contradiction. All self contradiction, is nonsense, is “Nothing”. There is no such thing as a “Triangle which has three sides, but on some occasions it might have four, maybe.” This is a “nothing”.
Self contradiction is a place reserved for Modern Humanist “Thinkers”. Self contradiction is a “nothing” and as some of us know “nothing is impossible to God”.
Back before there were “Progressives”, and “Wiccans, and Gia“, and “Atheists”, and “Secular Humanists”, and “National Socialists”, aka Modern Progressive Humanists of all stripes, the folks (and philosophers and scientists for that matter) understood that you needed both “Theories” and “Practice”.
“Learn To Be Lonely”, Andrew Lloyd Webber,from the “Phantom Of The Opera” soundtrack album, (2004)
Queen of The Sciences
So, our medieval ancestors understood Theology as the “Queen of the Sciences”. Her twin sister Sophia (the Greek word for “wisdom”) was also venerated in the discipline of Philosophy. It was hard to tell the two beauties apart, but together they once ruled the many domains of human knowledge. This was the domain of “Theory”. Theories fell into the disciplines of Theology (The Queen of the Sciences) and Philosophy (Wisdom).
Practice was how you did things in the material world while taking into account the dictates of the Queen and the Handmaid. The practice was guided by the theory, but the theory was proven out by the practical experience of daily life. Theory and Practice are equal partners. Theory without Practice is like a wagon without wheels, a hard load to pull. Equally, Practice without Theory, is like riding swiftly down the road in your wheeled wagon while stone cold blind, a sure recipe for utter disaster!
Today we find that Philosophy and Theology are increasingly irrelevant backwaters in the modern university, ridiculed for engaging in seemingly endless “solipsistic” debates. Not surprisingly, we find the modern view is theoretical, Godless, and endlessly self referential.
Gee! That sure sounds like the actual definition of solipsism! Solipsism is the idea that a person’s mind is the only thing that actually exists. It is a philosophical argument that maintains reality is based on the perceptions of one’s mind, and therefore nothing really exists except for that perceptual reality of one’s mind.
So how do they come off accusing the disciplines of Philosophy and Theology of “solipsism” when the foundation of both sciences is fundamentally outward looking in search of answers that man cannot find on his own – nothing even slightly self referential there. I’d guess this skull twister would be explained buy the modern concepts of “attribution” and “transference”, but that discussion has to be for another day.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.”
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
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 “básafháilgansagart” 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.
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.”
“An Taiseirl (The Resurection)”, Noirin Ni Riain and The Monks Of Glenstal Abbey, from the album “Vox de Nube”, (1996)
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.
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.
We 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.
“Mother Of Sorrows”, Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles, from the album “Lent At Ephesus”, (2014)
It appears to me that the first necessary step to understanding reality is to accept and totally embrace the existence of our soul and to adopt, as our natural view of reality, the soul’s view of reality. Essentially we have to embrace living in our material shell as a soul, occupying the shell and looking at and thinking about the material plane as a soul … which is actually what we really are.
Souls, occupying no space, do not exist within material reality. What we mean by this is to say, that souls exist outside the material universe filled with material beings and lots of “stuff” which is made up of agglomerations of parts as discussed in the previous post.
It is necessary to become comfortable thinking about everything from the point of view of our soul, which is in no dependent way connected to the material universe in which our parts reside, but rather to begin to routinely, as a matter of habit, look at all material things from “outside” so to speak. Only in this way can we start the process of detaching our “self” from the material existence that the “self” has lead throughout our material life.
We are told that God is a “Spirit” and it seems that the only way to approach intimacy with God is to understand and accept reality as “spiritual”. We can only approach the “spirit” God” as “spirit” persons. As long as our total reality is centered in the material universe as the only reality, we experience extreme difficulty detaching from the things of this world and a concomitant difficulty growing closer to God.
When material parts are regarded from a perspective outside material reality, from a soul’s point of view, a spirit’s point of view, the material parts are rendered less essential to existence and less essential to reality. The parts, the worldly goods all become merely unessential artifacts, experiences and feelings which become easier to set aside since they are no longer the center of our physical universe and are merely observed to exist in the physical plane.
When material reality is observed from outside the material plane, as a spirit observes the material universe, objects in that plane become dramatically less important than when the material is the center of our existence and the essential center of our lives. When the self identifies itself with it’s material possessions and it’s status in the material plane it is hugely difficult to “give up the stuff”.
None of the “stuff” has anything to do with God and it fills up that place in us which God would like to fill, in fact, asks us to fill with Him.
This train of thought has been on my mind now for months. These ideas are only now starting to coalesce into a coherent structure which is why I am writing all this down now.
More to follow as more develops and appears on my mental white board …
Always remember, “Be charitable in your judgements, and never take yourself too seriously”.
“A Dhia Ghleigil, Oh Glorious God”, Noirin Ni Riain & The Monks of Glenstall Abbey, from the album “Vox de Nube (Voice From The Cloud)” (1996)
Hoar Frost Sunrise – Dan Jurac
Now it’s snowing very lightly and bright sun – sun flurry? Pretty, were it not for having to clear it away regularly – 6 inches in the last 2 days, white Christmas and all, -26 Celsius, light wind. All the world about me waiting breathless in frozen anticipation of rebirth. Maybe if we didn’t have winter and rebirth and summer we w0uld not have these thoughts, conceived on a cold winter morning in a comfortable chair over a good hot cup of coffee, beside a warm stove. Reading Frank Sheed’s “Theology for Beginners” which informs my thoughts on “Spirit” today.
Best Christmas Day in years – surprised – was very depressed for weeks coming into Christmas and now everything is looking good. Christmas miracle? My thoughts this Christmas are focused on “Spirit”. The “Spirit” of Christmas, the “spirit” of love, the “spirit of “Peace” and a “spirit” of “Goodwill”. The spirit which animates us, our immortal soul.
Our soul is spirit, designed from all eternity to be in and with God. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; ” Jeremiah 1:5. Without this soul/spirit we are nothing but a small pile of rotting offal. All animation, all creativity, all beauty, all quality, all selflessness, all thought, all action, all peace, and all fear, all comes out of the animating presence of our soul/spirit, without which we are nothing but rotting dirt.
“Spirit” is the key. “God is a Spirit” so Jesus told the Samaritan woman. Unless we understand what a spirit IS we do not understand what He told her, and we do not understand what God IS. Absent the concept, the idea, of “spirit”, we find ourselves struggling to explain most of what we experience in life. Without even considering what “spirit” is, we simply accept it.
Spirit just fades into the background noise of our lives, like breathing, and drinking, and all the autonomous functions of daily life. We accept it without thinking and do the “Nodding Donkey” performance whenever someone else tries to explain where we came from or where we are going or why we are here. The same is true of all doctrines, they all include “spirit”. We actually are studying “spirit” all the time and the “mind” with which we are studying is also (a) “spirit”. All ideas have their source in spirit.
“The Beatitudes”, Noirin Ni Riain & The Monks of Glenstall Abbey, from the album “Vox de Nube (Voice From The Cloud)” (1996)
What is quality? We know it when we find it and we certainly know it when we experience it’s absence. But defining it in isolation is very hard. It is an idea, like fear, absent the proximate cause of “fear” we have a lot of trouble coming to grips with what exactly “fear” is … an idea. Peace, another idea, maybe easier to conceive of as “the absence of fear”, but still impossible to explain except in the context or presence or absence of something else, some other idea.
And where do the ideas originate? I have heard some folks say that ideas originate in the “mind”, and they seem to use “mind” and “brain” interchangeably. But what is the mind? It is not the brain because it is obviously separate from the brain, although it is also obvious that the mind animates the brain.
Perhaps we can settle upon “spirit” being that in us by which we know and love, by which we decide. And spirit has power, it is the mind, the spirit, of man that manipulates the universe in which we exist, that creates the conditions by which we survive, that splits the atom. Atoms are stuff, without spirit, without mind, and everything in existence is just more stuff made up of ever increasing agglomerations of this “atomic stuff”, without mind, without spirit.
“Stuff” cannot know it’s own constituents, it is inanimate and unknowing. the atom doesn’t split the mind, or itself, it doesn’t even “know” that it has electrons, any more than our hand – removed from our animate body – knows that it is a hand or what it could be used for. But “spirit” knows. It doesn’t necessarily know everything but it knows and it knows that it knows and it also knows that there is much that it doesn’t know and it can even conceive that there are “things” or “concepts” or “ideas” which it knows that it does not know, and it calls these “mysteries”.
Mind/spirit splits the atom and drills the oil and calculates the trajectories and plots the course to the stars and builds the ships to travel there and it does all these things through it’s will by “using” the body to control the material world. But there is never any question of the body using the spirit. There is no doubt in anyone’s “mind” that we, the mind/spirit will the using of the body, not the other way around, no matter what we may claim upon waking up after a hard partying night.
Our body knows nothing, wants nothing, loves nothing. Bodily pleasure is not enjoyed by the body. It is the mind/spirit that wants, and the body reacts to our wants, providing the mind with sensual experience. It is the knowing mind/spirit that enjoys or dislikes the experiences of the body. A body without an animating mind is either in a coma (the monster on the slab) or dead.
I seem to be belaboring this point but I am simply pointing out that we in fact DO accept totally the idea of spirit and that it exists, independently of material “stuff” like bodies. I assume that with only a little thought everyone would agree with that. Spirit produces what matter cannot. Spirit exists and is separate from the material universe. Spirit acts through will upon the material universe.
“An Taiseirl – The Resurrection”, Noirin Ni Riain & The Monks of Glenstall Abbey, from the album “Vox de Nube (Voice From The Cloud)” (1996).
So the Spirit exists, and is separate from the material. In fact the spirit is so separate from the material that it has no parts. This is perhaps the greatest mental leap we can undertake. To have the idea of an entity, which we all agree exists, and which we all agree is separate from the material world, and, the leap … which has no parts. The spirit, or A spirit, is one integral homogeneous contiguous whole.
Now a part is any element of, or in, a being which is not the whole of it, as in my hand or my foot is a part of my body or a wheel is a part of my car or an electron is a part of an atom but a spirit has no parts. There is nothing in it that is not the whole of it. There is no division of parts as there is in matter. Our bodies have parts, our creations and manipulations have parts, but there is no element in the soul which is not the whole soul.
The soul does an amazing array of things, loving, animating, knowing, but they are all done by the whole soul. The soul has no parts amongst which its activities are divided up. So, first let us think of anything we can think of that that occupies space. Think about IT whatever IT you have settled on.
One sees that any thing that occupies space must have parts. There must be bits and pieces which make up the whole but which each are not the whole. If it occupies space at all then there must be some spread of space which it occupies, some width or height or depth, in which the inside is not the outside. Space is nothing but what matter spreads its parts in.
An entity with no parts is superior to the need for space. A being with no parts doesn’t occupy space. That being and space have nothing in common. The partless being does not occupy space. We cannot see it, taste it, or feel it. It has no material existence and yet we all acknowledge that it exists and acts upon the material in space. Space is just emptiness. So we agree and have accepted that we have a partless being who occupies no space and acts through it’s will upon the material, part filled, world.
What we are talking about, at least at this point, is really what we think of as our “Self”. We “judge” that this must be true and this act of judging is another manifestation of the partless being, occupying no space, and yet acting upon material space, and all it holds, through it’s will. So emptiness is not essential to existence and dividedness is not essential to action.
And judgement is perhaps the commonest act of the will. Judgement is the most frequent of all the willed “actions” which this soul/spirit exerts upon material existence. Judgement can only take place given one single undivided partless principle, or entity, to take hold of, draw together, and compare and decide, to “make the judgement”, and from that judgement to will action through the spirit’s power over the material world.
Now we can see that a partless being, a being who occupies no space, and which no element of it is not the whole of it, cannot be changed into anything else, that it cannot be destroyed by any natural process of the universe of parts because it does not occupy that universe of parts. It is invulnerable to forces and actions originating in the universe of parts, the material universe.
“Adoro Te”, Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, from the album “Mater Eucharistiae” (2013)
Spirit is A, or THE, sort of being which, having a permanent hold on the whole of what it is, can never be other than what it is. Material things can be destroyed by acting upon their parts in such a way that the remainder can no longer sustain existence. What has parts can be taken apart. But a being with no parts which doesn’t exist in the material universe cannot be taken apart. It cannot end, It is immortal. Our own soul is such a being.
Our soul is the spirit we know best, wholly itself, forever itself, doing each thing that it does with its whole being, its whole self. And our soul is the least powerful of spirits. WE cannot create matter. We cannot create galaxies, or stars or … anything. We are pretty good manipulators of “stuff” which we find lying around but we cannot create any of the “stuff” by ourselves. Even the weakest angel is unimaginably superior and more powerful than us. Remember earlier when I mentioned ideas and concepts which we know we don’t know? Here lie monsters … and angels. The philosophers tell us that angels could, if they willed, destroy our material universe.
This is the first part of the journey… to arrive at a place where we acknowledge and accept that we are spirit, that our spirit/soul exists outside of time and space and has the power to will “affects” in the material universe which our material parts occupy physically while being animated by our spirit, our soul. Seeing this spiritual reality, understanding our eternal spiritual soul and it’s needs is the first step to detachment from the material.
Seeing this spiritual reality and the importance of our spiritual needs is the most important first step to growing out of childhood and detaching from material pleasures and things which, after all, are frighteningly mortal, doomed to die, doomed to pass away. The spirit, the soul is THE most important self. All the rest is nothing.
“15 Love 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 (First Epistle of John Chapter 2) In some Bibles it is found in the book “Catholic Epistles”.
I would guess thinking about the real time actuality of a real spiritual eternal soul is a big bite to chew. We will look at more next post
Always remember, “Be charitable in your judgements, and never take yourself too seriously”
23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question.24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him.25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother.26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh.27 Finally, the woman died.28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”
29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you,32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’[a]? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”
33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching. (Matthew 22:23-33)
“More enemies draw near, and another battle ensues. This time the attackers are representatives of the wealthy political leaders, who had different religious views than the Pharisees, but once again Jesus prevails. His enemies still refuse to be converted. And the listening crowd is filled with awe.
That same crowd had long submitted to the harsh and demanding rule of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Both groups of leaders were far superior to the vast majority of the working population in knowledge, influence, education, and wealth. And they made their superiority felt.
In Christ these searching souls find something entirely different. He neither fears the leader’s power nor bows to their prowess. He confronts them, argues with them, and repeatedly sends them away confounded.
And all the while he generously heals and teaches the ordinary people, so despised by the others. Jesus is right down there among them. They sense in Christ something much greater than any earthly leader, and they also perceive him as someone much closer to them, interested in them, and capable of helping them.
This is how the Lord behaved; this is how his Church continues to behave; this is how his disciples ought to behave.
Instead of calling the Sadducees “hypocrites” as he did with the Pharisees, Jesus simply tells them, “you are wrong”. The Pharisees erred in their willful denial of Christ’s claims, a denial that sprang from malice, from envy and jealousy; the Sadducees err merely in ignorance. They truly think this Nazarene rabbi is just a popularizer of mistaken doctrine, and they try to set him straight. So Jesus Instructs them.
(“The Better Part”, John Bartunek, LG, ThD, pp. 260-261)
” far superior to the vast majority of the working population in knowledge, influence, education, and wealth. And they made their superiority felt.”
2000 years on and nothing has changed, the elites STILL see Christ as a mortal threat and conduct a steady unrelenting campaign of discrimination and persecution by attacking his followers anywhere they are found. In many parts of the world they even routinely resort to killing his followers and persecuting any earthly presence of his mystical body, the Church.
To what end? Have they no memory or understanding of the past or the future? 70 generations of Sadducees and Pharisees have come and gone and they have learned absolutely nothing.
Always remember to be charitable in your treatment of others and never take yourself too seriously.