The Inner Struggle

Awareness of self love

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

As mentioned in my last post, are not all these special “problems”, my special problems, simply a manifestation of of my own  “Love of self”? Alternatively,  true “Love of others” is a way of accepting all these special “problems” if accepted with humility and meekness, without taking offense and building the castle of self love higher.

The little daily affronts and hurts offer an opportunity for refraining from claiming special victim status, and ceasing to worry about the fairness of life, and feeling sorry for myself. If I can accept each imagined hurt and slight and difficulty not as a personal attack, but as another “splinter of Christ’s cross” I might turn them into an occasion of grace rather than an occasion of sin.

Unfortunately, dawning awareness of my self love often seems to paralyze my trust and love of God. Pride jumps in and with the help and encouragement of my daily demons I repeat with Peter “Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Lk 5, 8).

It seems at times that the dawning awareness of sinfulness gives rise to awareness of another layer of sin, always the self turning back into itself and its “specialness”, a sin within a sin within a sin, rather like those nesting dolls the Russians produce, the Matryoshka or Babushka dolls.

This seems especially frequent when going through dark periods of struggle, temptation and difficulty, all of which throw me into agitation and confusion. This state of mind interferes greatly with any outpouring of my heart, any attempt to submerge myself and my worries in God.

So we come to humility … again … and my obvious lack of true humility … I have written about this here, and here.

At the risk of seeming repetitive I re-post a litany of humility because it seems overwhelmingly important on this summer morning.

From Wikipedia, (obviously it must be true of it is on Wikipedia, right?)

As usual, anything, any article, that is outside the progressive secular mainstream comes with a neat disclaimer regarding veracity as in: “This article does not cite any sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

But it seems that at least so far, no one has cared enough about humility to make a point of having this article removed from the Wiki. So here it is then”

The following Litany of Humility is a Catholic prayer that the penitent be granted the virtue of humility.

Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val, (1865 – 1930)

Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val, (1865 – 1930)

This Litany is commonly attributed to Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930), Cardinal Secretary of State of the Holy See under Pope Saint Pius X, but there is little evidence of this.

C.S. Lewis attributed its composition to Cardinal Merry del Val in his March 1948 letter to Don Giovanni Calabria. Father Charles Belmonte, S.Th.D., a priest of the Opus Dei Prelature, who was inspired by the writings of the Cardinal, included it in a collection, the Handbook of Prayers (Studium Theologiae Foundation, Manila, 1986, and in a later edition, by Midwest Theological Forum, Chicago, US.) As editor, Belmonte wrote: “attributed to Card. Merry del Val”.

Subsequent copyists, jumping to conclusions, wrote simply: “by Card. Merry del Val”. (remember, attribution of motive reveals more about the attributer of motive than about those to whom he is attributing motives … just saying, this is one of those areas of sins within sins within sins …)

A “Litany to Obtain Holy Humility” was published in 1867 by “A R.C. Clergyman.” A version very similar to the version attributed to Cardinal Merry del Val was published in 1880, copyright 1879 and “translated from the French of the Fifth Edition.”

Clearly, the good Cardinal was simply using a lesser known, but already published prayer. The original author of the Litany of Humility seems to be lost to history, in the obscurity for which he prayed. SO SPEAKS THE ALMIGHTY WIKI!

Or it might be possible that great and holy minds think alike? I have remarked before that: “It seems a hallmark of Truth that it always believes and expects the best of others and acts accordingly. It also seems a hallmark of untruth that it always believes and expects the worst of others and acts accordingly.” My guess is that it all depends on what your starting assumptions are as to how you believe others will act.

Anyway, what is a litany?

A litany is a form of prayer with a repeated responsive petition, used in public liturgical services of the Catholic Church, and in private devotions of Her adherents.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Make my heart like yours.
From self-will, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being loved, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being extolled, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being honored, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being praised, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being preferred to others, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being approved, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire to be understood, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire to be visited, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being despised, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being calumniated, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being suspected, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being wronged, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being abandoned, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being refused, deliver me, O Lord.
That others may be loved more than I,
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I,
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease,
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I go unnoticed,
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should,
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
At being unknown and poor, Lord, I want to rejoice.
At being deprived of the natural perfections of body and mind,Lord, I want to rejoice.
When people do not think of me, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they assign to me the meanest tasks, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they do not even deign to make use of me, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they never ask my opinion, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they leave me at the lowest place, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they never compliment me, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they blame me in season and out of season, Lord, I want to rejoice.
Blessed are those who suffer persecution for justice’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Attributed by many writers to: Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val, (1865 – 1930)

Cheers

Joe

approach everything with patience, fraternal charity … and humility.

 

 

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The Inner Struggle

Humility … and the cultivation of same …

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

The only thing for which you will not be envied, is the lowest place; therefore, the lowest place place  is the only one where there is no vanity and affliction of spirit.” (Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, also known as Saint Therese of Lisieux, 1873 – 1897)

Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, also known as Saint Therese of Lisieux, 1873 - 1897

Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, also known as Saint Therese of Lisieux, 1873 – 1897

One of the great stumbling blocks to receiving God’s mercy is to live in the past. I am coming to believe that is what Jesus means when he states, in the Gospel of St. Luke, “No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

St. Therese of Lisieux in her “Little Way” understood this very well. She thought that we focus too much on our dark side, our ugliness, and not enough on God who is the Light of Light. She believed that we needed to have confidence in the consuming furnace of His Love for us.

Shortly before her death, St. Therese stated, “You may truly say that if I had committed all possible crimes, I would still have the same confidence; I would feel that this multitude of offenses would be like a drop of water thrown into a flaming furnace. All possible crimes, a multitude of offenses, a drop of water in an immense furnace; that is the proportion”.

The Pool Of Worship

The Pool Of Worship

As I remarked in a previous post, I have finally realized that it is impossible for a proud man to give himself humility … it is impossible for an impoverished man to give himself wealth … it is impossible for a sick man to give himself health.

Therefore, to be truly humble, that is genuinely humble, I have to apply myself first of all to humility of heart and continue to deepen the sincere recognition of my nothingness, my weakness. An important part of that recognition is a sincere acceptance of responsibility for my thoughts, words, and deeds. Isn’t it funny how accepting responsibility shows up as the foundation of every attempt to know oneself.

I must acknowledge and accept my faults and my failings without trying to assign any other case or cause for them than my own miserable failings. There are no reasonable excuses for bad talk, or bad behaviour, or bad thinking. My bad is just that … my bad. I cannot slough off responsibility for myself and my conduct by blaming others, or the situation I find myself in, or the actions or faults of others now or in the past. I am responsible and I am to blame for what I do, or think, or say.

In a brief aside, a little wandering off the path, but on point regarding responsibility as a part of humility, is the occurrence of one of the greatest injustices, even tragedies, of the 20th century, namely the development of the cult of “repression” amongst Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and the cult continues to this day, alive and well, even amongst those who have become practitioners known as mental health counselors, sometimes known as a Registered Clinical Counsellor (at least in B.C.).

Katherine K. Young, 2015

Katherine K. Young, 2015

The cult of “repressed emotions” arose in concert with the development of psychoanalysis, which grew out of the theories Sigmund Freud.  A more current phenomenon related to important aspects of Freud’s “repressed emotions” theory has been the “modern”  Western teaching of contempt for men in our popular culture, known as Misandry.

A very lucid analysis of the impact of this “feminist” religious dogma can be had in “Spreading Misandry” (2001) and “Legalizing Misandry” (2006) by Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young. they have since come out with a third book which unfortunately I have not read, maybe I will get to it this year … just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

It is also interesting, and amusing,  that Paul Nathanson doesn’t get a mention in most search engines. It is affirming for one, like myself, who believes in a “left bias” in our culture to find again that anti male, anti conservative, bias in action in the “Wikipedia” search engine which I mentioned in another previous post. Katherine K. Young must have broken through the filters because she is a female PhD.

Sigmund Freud (sitting left), Sàndor Ferenczi, and Hanns Sachs (standing) Otto Rank, Karl Abraham, Max Eitingon, and Ernest Jones.

In Studies in Hysteria (1895) Freud proposed that physical symptoms are often the surface manifestations of deeply repressed conflicts. At the time Freud attracted many followers, who formed a famous group in 1902 called the “Psychological Wednesday Society.” The group met every Wednesday in Freud’s waiting room.

As the organization grew, Freud established an inner circle of devoted followers, the so-called “Committee” (including Sàndor Ferenczi, and Hanns Sachs (standing) Otto Rank, Karl Abraham, Max Eitingon, and Ernest Jones). At the beginning of 1908, the committee had 22 members and renamed themselves the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society.

So thanks to Freud and his true believers in the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society every bad actor in the 20th century could get a “get out of jail free” card just by showing up and getting psychoanalyzed. Gee, I wish I had been psychoanalyzed … maybe then I would not have to suffer all this guilt for not being humble …

But, and it is a very BIG “but” (no dietary pun intended), Freud’s theory is good at explaining but not at predicting behavior (which is one of the goals of science). For this reason, Freud’s theory is unfalsifiable – it can neither be proved true or refuted. For example, the unconscious mind is difficult to test and measure objectively.

Overall, Freud’s theory is highly unscientific …  most of the evidence for Freud’s theories are taken from an unrepresentative sample. He mostly studied himself, his patients and only one child (e.g., Little Hans).

The main problem here is that the case studies are based on studying one person in detail, and with reference to Freud, the individuals in question are most often middle-aged women from Vienna (i.e., his patients). This makes generalizations to the wider population (e.g., the whole world) difficult.

However, Freud thought this unimportant, believing in only a qualitative difference between people. Freud may also have shown research bias in his interpretations – he may have only paid attention to information which supported his theories, and ignored information and other explanations that did not fit them.

Annnnd back to humility … seriously folks, I have to recognize that the good that is in me is a pure gift from God and never claim it for my own. Jesus Christ taught “responsibility” not “It’s not your fault, sweetheart.”

I suppose that it is normal to desire to  be humble, and I also suppose that it is normal not to desire humiliation. I pray for God to make me humble but I resist mightily any occurrences and events which I find humiliating. So, I figure that the self (my “self” anyway) started out life very proud, in fact the exact opposite of humble. I started out absolutely convinced of my own superiority. I loved myself with an absolute love.

Life seems to have been a more or less steady grinding away of that feeling of superiority. Now I ask myself, my “Self”, how is it possible to become humble without enduring humiliation? Today, this seems like a reasonable question, and looking back over the years I wonder why it never came up before?

And I think that the reasonable answer is that it’s impossible to achieve humility without experiencing and enduring humiliations. And it is probably reasonable to assume that the sturdier my self regard, the more extreme and enduring are the required humiliations to effect a change in my self regard.

Saint Teresa of Avila by Peter Paul Rubens

Saint Teresa of Avila by Peter Paul Rubens

Humility is truth, and and the practice of humility is sincere recognition of truth. If I was sincere in recognizing this truth I would find it very just to be humiliated and scorned and treated without consideration.

So the pain I feel when treated unjustly and without consideration is a sure sign that I have not embraced true humility.

I have read that the saints were so firmly convinced of  this truth that they never found the humiliations which came to them too painful. The saints always considered these humiliations less than they deserved.

I never heard anything bad said of me which I did not clearly realize fell short of the truth. If I had not sometimes  — often indeed — offended God in the ways they referred to, I had done so  in many others, and I felt they had treated me far too indulgently about these” (Teresa of Jesus, also known as Teresa of Avila, 1515 – 1582)

More coming on humility, and also on judgement, of oneself, of others, and Final Judgement …

Oh Joy

Joe

If it looks proud, and walks proud, and talks proud, it must be proud, right?

Humility are not us …

 

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Humility … revisited.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hairy Roaring EGO!

Hairy Roaring EGO!

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

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

Examining my conscience, thinking and listening, and trying to find what is wrong with me and not confirming it by expounding at length on what is wrong with others.

Thinking about anger and humility, thinking about meekness, cultivating detachment from the perceived “rightness” of my own opinion and the turmoil generated by defending that “rightness”. If I was not so attached to my superior position and the need for validation I would feel less anger and resentment (maybe none at all?) when not accorded the adulation I feel I deserve.

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

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

Dune, Frank Herbert, 1965

Dune, Frank Herbert, 1965

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

I must not fear the hurt.

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

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

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

Only I will remain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The more humility empties the soul of the vain, proud pretenses of self, the more room there will be for God. “When at last [the spiritual man] comes to be reduced to nothing, which will be the greatest extreme of humility, spiritual union will be wrought between the soul and God.”  (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.  from the book “Divine Intimacy” meditations on the interior life for every day of the liturgical year.pp 301 – 302)

Cheers

Joe

Sitting under a tree, weeping, thinking … praying …

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The Inner Struggle

Doing the Right Thing … with anger and resentment? … or peaceful humility?

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

“Beautiful Japanese Songs” (2006)

“Beautiful Japanese Songs” (2006)

For the last little while, I have been thinking about stress and disposition, over hot coffee, and amongst friends and allies, all the while acknowledging that  congeniality and a relative absence of turmoil and emotive stress are required to consider honestly any life situation involving said turmoil and stress.

I have been considering the difference between doing, or not doing the required “right thing” which you are handed by circumstances and the exigencies of daily life. Between saying and not saying whatever comes to mind as one finds oneself yet again troubled by the unrest resulting from the ill considered actions and sayings of others.

As Bill the Bard famously wrote: “Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles, And by opposing end them”. I rather suspect folks have thinking these thoughts for a long long time.

I think the question of doing or not doing is pretty much settled, at least for me. Of course we “do the right thing” regardless of how we feel about it personally, sometimes we even manage to do it to the extent that we choose to make major personal sacrifices to do the right thing. All well and good. Doing “the right thing” is the important thing. 

But my personal jury is still out deliberating over “saying” or “not saying”.  Adapting ourselves to the mentalities, preferences and needs of others proves to be a real obstacle to doing the right thing with good will. We give ourselves a free pass to say whatever comes to mind because “the other” is wrong, rude, ungrateful, malicious, stupid, they don’t understand, they never learn … the excuses we use to heal our self image and justify our bad behaviour are endless.

Captain James T. Kirk

We choose to insist upon our personal feelings, our point of view, our own tastes, instead of resolving to overlook  all the differences of temperament, mentality, education, experience, tastes and so on.

Putting ourselves as the service of the other with a genuine and sincere spirit of humility in all things would short circuit the hard wired reactions of resentment, anger, judgement, and general dissatisfaction with the “moronic” conduct of others which lack of consideration and foresight leads to all the problems and crisis of daily life, our “Calvary”.

So how can one reasonably transition from anger, resentment, thirst for personal justice and fairness, wake up and smell the coffee, people, the all encompassing general irritation with the idiosyncrasies and idiocy of those around us who are continually screwing with our otherwise peaceful pleasant lives by their self-centered, narcissistic, ill-considered, defecation on the carpet of life?

How can one transition from pride and arrogance to humility and peace?

“早春賦”, William W. Spearman IV, from the album “Beautiful Japanese Songs” (2006)

Mark Manson, 2016

Mark Manson, 2016

It strikes me today that that place of transition, that no-man’s land between anger and arrogance and peaceful humility, may well be entered into by Mark Manson’s “Subtle art of not giving a F***”. As he says in his book (swapping the F-bomb for “damn”):

*****

Look, this is how it works. You’re going to die one day. I know that’s kind of obvious, but I just wanted to remind you in case you’d forgotten. You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon.

And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of damns to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a damn about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get damned.

There is a subtle art to not giving a damn. And though the concept may sound ridiculous and I may sound like an idiot, what I’m talking about here is essentially learning how to focus and prioritize your thoughts effectively—how to pick and choose what matters to you and what does not matter to you based on finely honed personal values.

This is incredibly difficult. It takes a lifetime of practice and discipline to achieve. And you will regularly fail. But it is perhaps the most worthy struggle one can undertake in one’s life. It is perhaps the only struggle in one’s life.

Because when you give too many damns—when you give a damn about everyone and everything—you will feel that you’re perpetually entitled to be comfortable and happy at all times, that everything is supposed to be just exactly the damned way you want it to be.

***

Manson, Mark. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (pp. 13-14). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

The fault zone, the rift valley, between the tectonic plate of self-righteous anger and resentment and the neighboring undiscovered country of peaceful meekness and humility in all things is so huge as to be difficult to apprehend and consider crossing without some kind of mountain pass or transition zone.

I am thinking that perhaps that philosophical mountain pass is in fact exactly what Mark is talking about: “pick and choose what matters to you and what does not matter to you based on finely honed personal values”.

Not only “what matters to me” but leap to “What Matters”! In this metaphorical mountain pass we can pick off daily bites of climbing which our limited abilities make doable.

Considering the entire fault zone as one huge challenge to “leap at a single bound!” puts us in the position of having to be Tony Stark in our Iron Man flying power armor. We are going to fail, come up short, confirm just what a screw-up we really are, in short turn our struggle into a self fulfilling prophecy of failure and misery.

Then, as a newly realized, miserable failure, we are tempted to indulge in : … F***ing  things up in at least one of two ways: 1.   “Denial”.  Some people deny that their problems exist in the first place. And because they deny reality, they must constantly delude or distract themselves from reality. This may make them feel good in the short term, but it leads to a life of insecurity, neuroticism, and emotional repression.

And 2.  (a real biggy) Victim Mentality”.  Some choose to believe that there is nothing they can do to solve their problems, even when they in fact could. Victims seek to blame others for their problems or blame outside circumstances. This may make them feel better in the short term, but it leads to a life of anger, helplessness, and despair.

People deny and blame others for their problems for the simple reason that it’s easy and feels good, while solving (personal behaviour) problems is hard and often feels bad.

So, these days I am strongly leaning towards “daily bites of climbing” which are doable with our limited resources and God’s help. The other part of this challenge is the understanding that we are unlikely to be successful in attaining peaceful, humble, meekness in any degree of perfection. This is a daily ongoing battle – failing and getting up again and trying again.

No matter how much we may seem to have failed, the climb is all about never giving up and always starting again with renewed commitment. This is all that matters, it is an effort of the will, it is not emotional, and there are precious few consolations along the way. The emotional danger of feeling that all our time and effort is wasted is what tempts us to give up in our effort.

Our ordinary notion of progress does not serve us well in this climb, for it will often appear that we spend more time failing than succeeding, and in that we lose site of the fact that the climb is all about trying and never giving up.

At least that is how it seems to me these days.

Cheers

Joe

Never Give Up, Never Give Up, Never Give Up …

 

 

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The Inner Struggle

Older and Wiser …

“The Wind Of Liudao”, Jia Peng Fang, from the album “Faraway”, (2002)

Once a soldier, always a soldier“… Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and though we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; 

One equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” Tennyson, “Ulysses“.

Just how do we get from “… not to yield.” to “tired old men”?  From a previous post I recap:

What are our fondest desires, in fulsome pride? Self-Will, to be Esteemed, Loved, Extolled, Honored, Praised, Preferred, Consulted, Approved, Understood, Visited … pretty much covers the entire gamut …

What are our deepest fears? To be Humiliated, Despised, Rebuked, Calumniated, Forgotten, Ridiculed, Suspected, Wronged, Abandoned, Refused … again, pretty much covers the entire gamut of human fears, and yet, and yet …”

When the sum of all our fears grind out the anticipation of our fondest desires … desires forgotten in the mists of the past, crowded out by the realized fears, is that what produces “old and tired”? And yet …

Saint John Paul the Great (1920-2005)

Saint John Paul the Great (1920-2005)

Lord, what I once had done with youthful might,
Had I been from the first true to the truth,
Grant me, now old, to do — with better sight,
And humbler heart, if not the brain of youth …

and

The soul’s dark cottage, batter’d and decay’d,
Lets in new light through chinks that Time has made;
Stronger by weakness, wiser, men become
As they draw nearer to their eternal home.
Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view,
That stand upon the threshold of the new.

Love will not backward sigh, but forward strain
On in the tale still telling, never told. …

from: The Diary of an Old Soul, by the Scotsman, George MacDonald (1824–1905)

Gandalf the WhiteIt is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.” Tolkien, “The Return of the King

Honor, Faith, loyalty, competence, pride, selflessness, integrity, courage, discipline, sacrifice,  tradition,  virtues to live by. The virtues we strive to live by, for better or for worse, in sickness or in health, onto death or the end of the world in spite of everything the world throws at us in it’s effort to deny life.

The thing that all of these virtues or qualities have in common at their root is they are all about “Giving”  to others. Giving away what we have and are for the benefit of others, even unto death.

To develop these “characteristics” one has to live them, repeat them, over, and over, and over, until the repetition ingrains them so deeply into every cell of our being that thought never enters into it. it just IS the way you live, as natural as breathing.

Aristotle makes this point about the virtues in general, with courage as one of the virtues he addresses. As he notes in his Nicomachean Ethics, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.

For Aristotle, the key to virtuous behavior (to include courageous behavior) is habituation. We have to habituate ourselves to facing fear and reacting courageously. A great deal of military training focuses on exactly that — the formation of certain military virtues through repetitive training.

Pool of WorshipThe corollary is, of course, that choosing self indulgence also becomes ingrained. We become what we do. “Giving” to others or “Taking” from others for ourselves are the two sides of the coin. We choose what we become.

It is so simple that few acknowledge it, because to do so would mean having to take responsibility for our lives. Not being responsible has become, in our modern culture, literally a “get out of jail free” card. We can do and demand whatever we want and if anyone tries to stop us or hold us accountable THEY are the bad guy.

Honor and loyalty are kind of like a religion, a part of our religion. It is a religious experience.  It’s a belief in the standards, values, morals of an organization and an adherence to them, [but] . . . it’s not a mindless adherence. . . .

Duty, honor, sacrifice: You have a duty, and by properly executing your duty you cause an honor to be associated with yourself,  your profession and your beliefs. “Now do I swear fealty and service to my Lord, to speak and to be silent, to do and to let be, to come and to go, in need or plenty, in peace or war, in living or dying, from this hour henceforth, until my Lord release me, or calls me home, or the world’s end“.

Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always,even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for?”William J. Bennett – in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997

People are worth defendingWhat is worth defending? What is worth living for? What is worth dying for?  In a nutshell? People … the folks … because they are intrinsically valuable and worthwhile as individuals and as a group. and, for the most part, utterly defenseless. they are so defenseless that they don’t even know that they are defenseless. They are, in this aspect, like sheep.

Make no mistake about it … there is evil out there … there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? 8 years in the Military and 10 years in the Corrections Service teaches one the reality of evil people. Evil is nothing more than the “absence of good”, and therein lies a whole world of hurt.

In any manifestation of evil the underlying or sometimes overt aspect of evil, the “dead” giveaway, is how the actors value and treat ordinary people. In each and every instance without exception the manner in which any person, organization or ideology treats ordinary people is the hallmark of which side they fall on.

Jesus in the WildernessAnd no matter what the mental and rhetorical gymnastics the perpetrators go through there are ONLY two sides. You are either on the side of the Angels, or on the side of the Demons. There is no middle ground. Even refusing to choose, denying that there is a choice is merely to choose self indulgence and everything that implies. There are no votes of “Present”, no option to “Abstain”, in real life.

There are only two forces in the universe who have died for you – Jesus Christ, and the soldiers, airmen, sailors, police and peace officers and all the rest of the pointy end sheepdogs who put it all on the line for the sheep every time they go to work. Jesus Christ died for your soul, the rest died to make it possible for you to accept Christ’s offer in freedom, peace and safety.

Cheers

Joe

You are either on the side of the Angels, or on the side of the Demons. There is no middle ground.

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The Inner Struggle

Humility … the most challenging mountain to climb …

Mother of Sorrows”, Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles, from the album “Lent At Ephesus”, (2014)

Robert Cardinal Sarah

Robert Cardinal Sarah

From the introduction of:  “The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise” by Robert Cardinal Sarah. (Kindle Locations 195-246). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.

Humility.
“… From this perspective, he can adopt as his own the step taken by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val. Having retired from the public business of the Church, the former Secretary of State of Saint Pius X had composed a beautiful “Litany of Humility”, which he recited every day after celebrating Mass:

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Make my heart like yours.
From self-will, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being loved, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being extolled, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being honored, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being praised, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being preferred to others, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being approved, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire to be understood, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire to be visited, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being despised, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being calumniated, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being suspected, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being wronged, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being abandoned, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being refused, deliver me, O Lord.
That others may be loved more than I,
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I,
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease,
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I go unnoticed,
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should,
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
At being unknown and poor, Lord, I want to rejoice.
At being deprived of the natural perfections of body and mind,Lord, I want to rejoice.
When people do not think of me, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they assign to me the meanest tasks, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they do not even deign to make use of me, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they never ask my opinion, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they leave me at the lowest place, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they never compliment me, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they blame me in season and out of season, Lord, I want to rejoice.
Blessed are those who suffer persecution for justice’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val, (1865 – 1930)

(from the introduction to: Robert Cardinal Sarah. “The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise” (Kindle Locations 195-246). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.)

What are our fondest desires, in fulsome pride? Self-Will, to be Esteemed, Loved, Extolled, Honored, Praised, Preferred, Consulted, Approved, Understood, Visited … pretty much covers the entire gamut of human pride, original sin, we know best, anyone who disagrees with us is wrong, and so on and so on.

What are our deepest fears? To be Humiliated, Despised, Rebuked, Calumniated, Forgotten, Ridiculed, Suspected, Wronged, Abandoned, Refused … again, pretty much covers the entire gamut of human fears, and yet, and yet …

Texas Election ProtestsIs this not a comprehensive iteration of how our culture, our “modern Progressive society”, has treated and continues to treat Christ in his every aspect and manifestation – the “man of sorrows”.

Does not our culture understand and apply to us (Christians) exactly those items which we fear most.

Las Vegas Election ProtestsThe prevalent culture, even as does ISIS, perceives humility as weakness. Since it is “safe” to attack Christians and Christianity, the Progressive society of our day feels they can attack us with impunity.

All the vile attacks, the endless ridicule and violence, while hypocritically pontificating and posturing about how “Brave” and “Courageous” they are attacking a target they are sure will not strike back. “Je suis Charlie” didn’t last very long, did it?

Kathleen WynneThe sacred cow of “tolerance”  is singularly lacking in the Liberal, Democratic culture that hates ANYTHING that does not approve of their deviant lifestyle. Except no one in our progressive society or our mainstream media would even dream of applying the same terms to the “Religion of Peace”.

Vandean MassacreThus they reveal for the world the fundamental cowardice of all Progressive philosophies. Thus, unwittingly, they re-assure ISIS and all of Islam that they are no threat. They WILL always accommodate strength and force.

The chestless poltroons in our cultural leadership, the self proclaimed “Brights” of the new enlightenment, will embrace ANYTHING, even Dhimmitude,  Kharaj, and Jizya as long as they can escape punishment and discomfort.

And thus they doom themselves to an eternity of slavery and evil.

Even ISIS sees the evil inherent in our culture. That evaluation of our prevalent culture and our leadership is not very humble, eh? So, bring it on!  Peace be upon you, may the unification of all true believers come now according to the prophecy of Fatima. Please come now!

Cheers,

Joe

Desert Walk5For many will come in my name saying, I am Christ: and they will seduce many. 6And you shall hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that ye be not troubled. For these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be pestilences, and famines, and earthquakes in places: 8Now all these are the beginnings of sorrows. Mat 24 : 5-8

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Some More Thoughts on Humility …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kananaskis Range

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

The sublime ideal of union with God totally exceeds our capacities, which are those of weak creatures. If we aspire to it, it is not because we expect to reach it by our own efforts and initiative, but because we trust that God Himself, according to His promise, will come and lead us by the hand. But God will not act thus with a proud soul. He stoops only to the humble; the more lowly He finds a soul, the closer He draws it to Himself. Humility deepens the soul’s capacity to receive the fullness of divine gifts.  (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.  from the book “Divine Intimacy” meditations on the interior life for every day of the liturgical year.pp 302 – 303)

*****

 Cheers

Joe

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

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Pen as Sword - Social Commentary, Politics and Economics, Uncategorized

The Elephant Acts …

“Alberta”, Bob Dylan, from the album “Self Portrait, (June 1970)

I would like to think that “The Donald” read my post yesterday, understood it and acted on it, but on balance I would have to admit that I am not that delusional. Over at “LifeSiteNews” we find this article:

*****

001-a-the-elephantWASHINGTON, D.C., January 23, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – In his very first pro-life action, President Donald Trump signed an executive order today reinstating the “Mexico City Policy” banning government funding of foreign pro-abortion groups like the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

A cultural political football, the policy was first enacted by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 and was maintained by President George H.W. Bush until it was rescinded first by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1993. Eight years later, President George W. Bush reinstated Mexico City and it was in effect until Barack Obama reversed it upon entering office in 2009.

The Mexico City Policy bans funding to organizations that perform abortions overseas or lobby for legalizing them in foreign nations.

Trump’s pro-life action comes a day after the 44th anniversary of the notorious Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling, which along with the Court’s Doe v. Bolton decision, established abortion-on-demand as the law of the land. (read more)

***

Here in Canada we remain steadfast in our commitment to killing all inconvenient people. The left claims half a million marchers in the “Women Who Kill Children” march which took place yesterday. They also claim that’s about 5 times the number of folks who showed up at the Trump inauguration event.

Those are pretty good sample sizes even if they are exaggerated. They are probably significantly better samples than the national political and social pollsters typically get with their sample leading surveys conducted to prove and support those who hired them.

Let’s assume for a moment that they are accurate in their estimates. That’s 1 in 5 folks decided to attend Trumps inauguration. That would also imply that 4 in 5 folks hate Trump because he is against abortion and think it’s just A-OK to kill babies and old folks.

001-a-clueless-usefull-idiot-or-a-possessed-person

Blessed Virgin Mary as Bloody Vagina.

1 in 5 seems to be about the observed proportion of folks in the general population who seem to understand the difference between moral right and moral wrong based on their conduct and their expressed opinions.

1 in 5 might just be the proportion of folks in the general population who can actually imagine anything or anyone outside their immediate tweet circle of self worship.

Yesterday I mentioned in my post my thoughts on how we move past this polarization: “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.”

So the first thing that pops into my mind after the initial shock and pain (which was EXACTLY what that little girl intended with her sign) is – Gee, Islam is even more anti-abortion that Catholicism. How come she decided to target Catholics rather than Muslims?

A number of things come to mind – Ignorance? Cowardice?, Hate? Pride? Black Lives Matter but Catholic Lives Don’t? All of the above and more? On the topic of Black Lives I would posit that significantly more black lives are lost every day because black women like the little beauty above choose to kill their children, than from all the other causes put together. And it is white Democrats who have been pushing this Holocaust since at least Lyndon Johnson took office. How wierd and totally disfunctional is that?

It’s difficult not to take this personally and not to imagine evil things. This evil, seen and experienced everywhere, IS personal. Maybe the Muslims have got it right! Maybe we should be praying for the coming of Sharia? And I suppose THAT is my sin – lack of charity and lack of humility.

Cheers

Joe

001-a-lotr-frodo-hobbitsA major Scouring of the Shire is LONG overdue …

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The Inner Struggle

Things Seen and Unseen …

A couple of things today, short and sweet (“Thank God” says my reader (s))

First check out an excellent post over at David Warren’s blog entitled: “the downside of killing people”. Well worth the time, especially for Canadians who may not have noticed that it is now legal to kill folks in Canada now, not just babies who have no say.

The other point is to adjust a possible misconception or error (on my part) I chatted about three or so posts ago here and here, concerning the point of view of the Spirit. An authority who I respect highly (and thank for his generous direction) has commented:

*****

Some of your assertions have a dualist slant to them. So there is a seeming metaphysical difficulty in your take on human spirit.  Soul and human body are intimately united. The soul, being the kind of thing it is, though spiritual and therefore immortal, is a little “out of sorts” without the body.

I don’t think you can, therefore, say the spiritual soul is outside space and time without qualification. It is spiritual and therefore not quantifiable but it “animates” a particular body located in relation to other bodies.  It is immortal, so not time bound as to its persistence but it is created in time, coming into being with the body it vivifies. 

As far as the spiritual is concerned, yes, the quality of the immortal soul is all, in the end, that matters.  The body will return to dust.  However, the sanctification of the spirit is in, many instances, the sanctification of the body and of the material.  Conversely, the sanctification of the body, because of their unity, is the sanctification of the spirit or immortal soul.”

*****

This is an important qualification, and one which raises it’s head immediately as you begin thinking about God, Infinity, and His “All-ness” when regarding our spiritual “Not-all-ness”. I am headed in this direction and I apologize for not having adequate words in my vocabulary to describe what I am thinking (yet).

More to follow as it appears on the White Board of my mind.

Cheers

Joe

coptic-desertCharity and Humility, Remember, Remember, Remember

 

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