Life in a small town

The Power Of Faith …

The Return Of The King” Howard Shore, composer, from the soundtrack of “The Return Of The King”, part 3 of “The Lord Of The Rings”, released on December 17th, 2003.

I do believe, Lord; help my unbelief; increase my faith” (Mk 9, 23 – cf Lk 17,5)

It 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

I haven’t written anything since before last July 17th … I have been rather thinking and wondering if I have anything worth sharing and how can I tell … as Thomas a Kempis said “We think sometimes to please others by our company, and we rather offend them with those bad qualities they discover in us.” … and then, in our self regard we take offense that they have been offended by our bad qualities.

What is worthwhile?

I watched “Indivisible” last night. It helped me to re-focus my head on what matters.

Honor, Faith, Loyalty, Competence, 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.

The 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 espoused by 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 the 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“.

Much of what follows here came out of “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”.  So my thoughts going forward are focused on the “end of all things” and how to make the best of the remaining time we have in  this world.

All things are possible to him that believeth” (Mk 9,22). Before Jesus performed a miracle, any miracle, He always asked for an act of faith. “Do you believe that I can do this unto you?” (Mt 9,28), and when faith was sincere, the miracle took place immediately. Jesus never said “My power and omnipotence has saved you, or cured you, but rather your faith, this to give us to understand that faith is the prerequisite to benefit from His power.

He, the all powerful Creator of the universe and everything in it, will only use His power for the benefit of those who firmly believe in Him, hence, there were no miracles for Nazareth.  4And Jesus said to them: A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and in his own house, and among his own kindred. 5And he could not do any miracles there, only that he cured a few that were sick, laying his hands upon them. 6And he wondered because of their unbelief, and he went through the villages round about teaching. (Mk 6,4-6),

The more lively our faith the more powerful it is with the very power of God. Like everything in the Gospel, Jesus’s words are literally true, as mentioned in previous posts, it’s either all a lie, or it’s all true, it’s either all an evil con game, or it is all absolutely true. We choose to believe, or not to believe … we choose.  If the word of God is ineffectual in our lives  it is only because our faith is very weak.

In life we meet with many difficulties, and for us they are real  mountains. Difficulties in our spiritual life; faults we struggle to overcome; virtues we never seem to be able to acquire; difficulties in our everyday life; insufficient means of support, duties which surpass our abilities or our strength. And we stop , we are discouraged, at the foot of these mountains. “It is impossible, I cannot do it.”. It would require only a little faith, and provided our faith is living, certain, resolute, supernatural, and that it counts only on God and trusts in His Name alone, this faith will confront every difficulty with courage.. “Nothing is impossible to him that believeth.” and where belief stops, self love begins, and with self love begins every evil under the sun.

Although the difficulties we encounter are serious ones, discouragement is never justified. We get discouraged because we consider our powerlessness: on the one hand we remember our past failures and bitter life experience, and on the other hand we imagine situations coming up which are beyond our strength, making them appear like huge cliffs which crush, smother and paralyze us.

And, then there you are, sitting on your living-room floor, with no path forward visible in the darkness around. And the demons of our doubts are prattling on about the only “logical” choice is to stop wasting resources and end it.  That is often why God permits these very difficulties to teach us not to trust in ourselves … sometimes these difficulties cannot be solved by any human means.

And God permits all this to teach us, to force us, to practice the virtue of faith.

Cheers

Joe

Freedom and Faith

 

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