Failed and failing models have been with us for most of history. In the Catholic world, today is the Feast of St. Mathew. Little is known about St. Matthew, except that he was the son of Alpheus, and he was likely born in Galilee.
He worked as a Roman tax collector, a profession which was a hated during the time of Christ. According to the Gospel, Matthew was working at a collection booth in Capernaum when Christ came to him and asked, “Follow me.” With this simple call, Matthew became a disciple of Christ.
From Matthew we know of the many doings of Christ and the message Christ spread of salvation for all people who come to God through Him. The Gospel account of Matthew tells the same story as that found in the other three Gospels, so scholars are certain of its authenticity. His book is the first of the four Gospels in the New Testament, Mathew, Mark, Like, and John
Many years following the death of Christ, around 41 to 50 AD, Matthew wrote his gospel account. He wrote the book in Aramaic in the hope that his account would convince his fellow Jews that Jesus was the Messiah and that His kingdom had been fulfilled in a spiritual way.
Destruction of Jewish Temple, AD 70 by Roman Legions.
It was an important message at a time when almost everyone was still expecting the return of a militant messiah brandishing a sword, and restoring dominance to the Kingdom of Israel. That was the “Model” generally accepted by the majority of Jews in Palestine at that time.
The foundational failure of that archetypal Model was worked out in agony and suffering when Roman Legions destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. Some reports put the death toll of the conquest of Jerusalem at over 600,000 from both the actions of the Roman conquerors and the fratricidal combat between various disagreeing factions amongst the Jewish defenders.
Even when facing death the factions of believers of conflicting sub-models couldn’t let their models go. So folks really get attached to their model being right and will not accept anything else even on pain of death. Not testing our models can be, and often is, deadly. So, how to test our models?
Now Catholics have a model regarding Jesus Christ being the only Child of the Virgin Mary. One of the interesting things about Models (previous post here) is that the elements of a Model or a “Worldview” can be identified and considered in a logical and rational manner, devoid of subjective emotionalism and moral relativism. Design and construction of a worldview can be analyzed without having a physical creation present to hammer on.
We can employ and enjoy “Gedankenexperiments” which rely on generally accepted rules of conduct and logic to maintain the focus on truth, the subject of the discussion, and give direction of the discussion. The name of this particular experiment is “Socratic Dialogue”, named after Socrates, of course, one of the early practitioners of such logical discussion.
Perhaps the biggest flag regarding the validity or failure of any model is the willingness or unwillingness of the developers and adherents of the model to engage in these sorts of discussions. Father Hunwicke’s short piece perfectly illustrates the fruitless pursuit of discussing most “soft” models with the developers and adherents of same.
The statement “all right minded people know this to be true” no more imparts truth, than the man in a dark room yelling that “there is no sun” blots out the sun. Still it shines … and here is the dialogue … with pretty typical results …
Haereticus: The Gospels make it quite clear that Jesus had brothers. Catholicus: They don’t. “Adelphoi” can mean kinsmen. It doesn’t have to mean uterine (that is, born-of-the-same-womb) brothers. Haereticus: So you say. But that’s the obvious meaning if anyone talks about “Jesus’ brothers” in any language, isn’t it? Catholicus: Not at all. Mark’s and Matthew’s Gospels, in their accounts of the Crucifixion, both talk about “Mary the mother of James and Joses [or Joseph]”. If this Mary had been the same as Christ’s own mother, it would have been very odd for them not to refer to her as the Mother of Jesus. The “obvious” and natural inference is that the “Mother of James and Joses” was a different Mary from “Mary the Mother of Jesus”. Haereticus: So what? Catholicus: Well, in Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55, the places where those “brothers of Jesus” are mentioned, the full text reads: ” Jesus the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses [or Joseph] and Judas and Simon”. We’ve just seen that this James and this Joses are apparently the sons of some Mary who was not the same as Mary the Mother of Jesus. And they’re the first two on the list here. The list is thus clearly not itemizing individuals who were uterine brothers of Jesus. Haereticus: Well, I still think it’s obvious that … Catholicus: If it’s so “obvious”, you’ve got some explaining to do. Throughout the second century the Gospels were increasingly regarded as ‘canonical’ and authoritative. If it is so “obvious” that James and the rest of those listed in the Gospels were uterine brothers of Jesus, then the tradition that Jesus was Mary’s only child must have arisen well before those Gospels came to be regarded as authorities. Otherwise, when somebody started saying “she never had any more children”, somebody who had read the Gospels would have said “Aha, you’re wrong: here’s a list of his brothers”. So, if you’re right about it being so “obvious”, you’re going to have to admit that Mary’s perpetual virginity is so early a tradition as to predate the acquisition of authority by our Four Gospels; which modern scholarship dates to the beginning of the second century at the latest. I’ve got you either way. Haereticus: That’s all gobbledygook. It’s obvious … Catholicus: That’s the problem with you Prods and you Liberals. You’re impervious to evidence and to reason. Haereticus: Of course we are. “Reason is the Devil’s Whore”. Martin Luther said so. It’s obvious.
The only thing we see in the pool is ourself … nice people, practically perfect in every way?
And so it is with all manner of soft models claiming to represent our reality but actually failing that claim by every practical test. And the developers, protagonists and supporters of these models sincerely believe their models. They are the man in the dark room screaming “There is no sun“.
They don’t even begin to understand where the model is going wrong because they truly don’t understand what truth means or what reality is. They have adopted an ideology as a substitute for reality and never notice the coming train wreck until they die in the collapse of their model as did several hundred thousand Jews in the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
And history repeats itself over and over and over, because each new generation thinks they are the brightest and the best that ever was. That is the world we live in and suffer through daily.
Models matter, just like details matter. Good models can provide insight into mechanisms and into directions for better predictive utility and better responses to problems which we encounter in the world.
Engineering models give us airplanes that mostly don’t crash, cars that mostly get to their destinations, bridges that mostly don’t fall down, sewer and water systems that mostly keep us healthy, elevators that mostly don’t drop us to our deaths, and civil infrastructure systems that keep us alive in spite of much of our stupidity.
Bell X-1b cockpit 1947
Good models also help us figure out better solutions when things don’t work the way we were expecting, when things go wrong. And in the hard disciplines, at least, the people who make and use the models are held accountable for the results when the models fail.
Unfortunately, outside of the hard sciences and engineering, where reality matters and failure usually results in blood on the floor, many models often fall short of replicating and predicting the full spectrum of reality.
But what’s really going on here … in this rant? This whole Post reflects MY model of reality … can I back it up with research? No. Can I make real world predictions based on this model? Yes, most of the time this model predicts quite effectively the coming course of events … BUT … and its a BIG BUT! This is just MY model about what I perceive as other faulty models. What makes my model right?
In spite of being somewhat successful at predicting it fails utterly in telling me anything about motives, malice, intentions, thoughts, and desires on the part of those individuals who collectively make up the “Herd”. All those are MY sins resulting from MY model. I am judgemental and self centered, I feel good about myself because “I am just so bright”. My ego gets stroked every time my model proves accurate. My model is all about me.
The “Hockey Stick graph” is now “settled science”,
The Global Warming Environmental Model and the now infamous “Hockey Stick graph is now “settled science” depending on who you talk to and what their agenda is.
But that hugely flawed model continues to wreak havoc and cause untold misery for millions of regular folks every day.
And I judge and attribute intent and malice because of my model, but I don’t really have any data on motive and intent.
Keynesian Economic Models are still robustly defended in all government and management circles despite massive evidence to the contrary which was front and center from every source after the great “Too Big To Fail” financial meltdown of 2008. And, again, I judge and attribute intent and malice because of my model, but, again, I don’t really have any data on motive and intent.
The “Great Leader” and cronies … 2016
Then there are the multitude of Political Models of various persuasions, and the Social and Anthropological models of how society works, how humans work together in groups.
And, of course, my model gives rise to the question of “How can people be so crazy and stupid as to vote for (fill in your favorite enemy party)? They don’t agree with me, therefore they must be wrong, right?
Curiously, when these models fail to reflect reality no one seems to be responsible, no one is held accountable for the failure of the model and the often deadly results (see the Guidelines link below)
Outside of the hard sciences like Engineering, few are held accountable when the latest soft model fails to produce as advertised.
People die, and huge amounts of resources are pissed away chasing fantasies based on models which have only a passing connection to any real research and development and testing. Well, this is pretty obvious in my model, but how do I know that as fact?
You have doubts? You need more data to see the validity of my model? How about just one example for now: the Beta-Blocker fraud … check out this article for a starting place:
“I would replace the word ‘May’ with these two words ‘almost certainly.’ You would think, would you not, that if any other event in the world, at any time, had killed eight hundred thousand people, this would be front page headlines around the world for weeks, probably months, maybe even years.
The reality is, I am willing to bet, that you have never even heard of this gigantic scandal. It will not have appeared in any national television programme, or newspaper. The blogosphere is also, almost totally silent.”
Ideological models encourage paradoxical fantasies about how things would be “if only” … how things “should be” in order to conform with whatever the protagonists, the brights and elites, the legislators, the advocates, want to do onto others in the real world … supporting their desire to indulge in the latest fashionable “deviance du jour”.
One small example of this moral relativism in action is the vast tide of “government money” and “Human Rights” legislation now being poured into advancing the politically correct agenda of the Rainbow Coalition.
Of course, this is what my model predicts and from this I, in my egotistical, self centered wisdom, draw conclusions leading me to attributions about people’s motivations and thoughts that are really only known to God.
There a lot of problems with models … Weather models (global warming), Economic models (Keynesian), Health models (Beta-Blockers or Cancer causes), Political models (Liberal or Democratic or Conservative ), Ideological models (Socialism, Communism, Fascism, Genderism, Progressive Humanism, Monarchy, Theocracy).
Simplification, Elegance and Spin are more important than facts and truth, remove all distractions that detract from the objective and argument being presented, Elegant Theory is more desirable than Messy Reality.
My model sees everywhere serious compromises of the primary predictive purpose of models in favour of theoretical elegance, simplicity of presentation, and punchy delivery. All these polished models are divorced from real-world relevance in favour of establishing and increasing individual wealth and power. That’s how the 30 second sound bite model stacks up … in my model … which of course is the only correct model, right? What about “Judge not, lest you be judged by the same standard”?
Hypothetical premise – opening statement:
LGBT is true and OK, just not for clerics
“In the West, “Government” was once a “higher calling”, for example Marcus Aurelius, or Thomas More. But the line of Lords weakened and failed, the torch has fallen to lesser men “the Stewards of Gondor”. Government and Public Administration have become the least rewarding of all fields of endeavor. As a result, government attracts only the most fearful and mediocre players and workers“.
Hmmm … in my model, there is no apparent opposition to the hypothesis … must be true then, right?
Our government seems to attract career drones … those lacking vision, capacity for thought, and unable to succeed elsewhere, or unable to gain employment in other fields. Drones are remotely controlled, lacking in autonomy and intelligence, simply following orders.
Whether from lack of freedom or lacking the confidence to strike out on their own, they “middle of the road” everything. Everything and anything can be seen and presented as acceptable in the right light, with the right “spin”. My model, again.
Government and administration, aka “Management” seems to attract those who would rather remain a part of the faceless herd, faceless but powerful in their anonymity, secretive gang members operating in “Nacht und Neble”.
My model again. So what if the historic facts support this model, it is still just my model, right? See the moral relativism image above.
Hmmm, well who else seems to share my model as their model? This is called “Appeal to Authority”. I validate my model based on the credibility of others in authority who share, or seem to share, my model.
Well, lots of other people share my model, at least in part. Lots of unpopular thinkers who are no longer fashionable in the western bureaucracies, or academia, and especially unheard of in the media of our day.
Perhaps, having read their works, they have in fact influenced my model.
Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn was an Austrian nobleman and socio-political theorist who described himself as an enemy of all forms of totalitarianism and as an “extreme conservative arch-liberal” or “liberal of the extreme right.” Note: This is NOT our current usage of the term “Liberal”, but rather theclassical definition of Liberal.
Described by contemporaries as “A Walking Book of Knowledge”, Kuehnelt-Leddihn had an encyclopedic knowledge of the humanities and was a polyglot, able to speak eight languages and read seventeen others. This man had and has huge cred.
That is just so unlike our “Bottom of the Barrel” bureaucrats, who are most desiring of personal “security” and most motivated by fear”, all these special ones who don’t want to be blamed or held accountable for anything. My model again … nasty model, eh?
Ironically, our culture has also gifted those very same mediocre players and workers with vast wealth as the gatekeepers of the public treasury. “Public Money” and “Public Programs”, those programs most concerned with direction and disbursement of those same “public monies” have become the Holy Grail of all treasure hunters everywhere.
What is “normal”? All cuteness aside, it seems that only one of the above actually keep folks safe.
“Government funding” has developed into the ultimate “mother-lode” for everyone and every agenda outside of the government herd, the mythological “Horn of Plenty” colloquially known as “The Big Tit”.
To ease the draining of the horn we have perfected the art of elegant simplicity to the exclusion of reality. This has been done in order to impress simple gatekeepers with elegance and erudition.
This is colloquially known as “BS baffles brains”. My model again.
If you can’t say it in a 20 slide Power Point presentation or a one line Blackberry text, or best of all just one cute picture, then management just doesn’t have time to investigate the reality of a proposal or to consider potential outcomes which in any other field would be career stoppers. And by all means you must prevent minutes from ever being recorded at any meeting where decisions are being made.
The unstated purpose of all this simple elegant BS is to convince the simple gatekeepers to open the taps of “public monies” to pursue goals ever more distant from genuine benefit for “the public” and ever more focused on the benefit of a few elite “Elegant Theory” peddlers.
These Neo-snakeoil Salesmen of our modern progressive mythology, these “self-love” gurus called “lobbyists” are everywhere, lobbying and schmoozing away for Academic and Private “research” funding.
What Is Lobbying and Can It Be Good?
Schmoozing away for Guidelines and Regulations to control those who don’t agree.
I draw attributions about the processes and thoughts that are really only known to God.
Of course, once a “program (in whatever the theory of the day happens to be) is adopted, there is huge incentive on the part of the government adopters to be seen as wise and of course “right” in the sense that they are authoritatively correct.
And there is huge incentive for the Lobbyists and the junior ranks to feed that hubris and self love indulged by the gatekeepers so that the taps keep flowing through multiple generations of gatekeepers.
And the whole pyramid is founded on models which are totally divorced from everyday reality. Food for though … every government program or initiative, seems tailor made to destroy human beings, destroy their livelihood, their families, their lives, and ultimately, their soul.
But are they really? What about unintended consequences? Models matter, just like details matter, models can be predictive and can help us going forward, but models are utterly incapable of telling us anything about folks intentions.
Hard science and engineering are easy, “Rocket Science’, right? People science is much harder, no matter how we model it. Only God gives us the “right” model. His name is Jesus Christ.
“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)
Our title line, the instruction from our Safari Guide on this worldly adventure, derives from the person and teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ’s will regarding love of neighbor goes so far beyond what we typically accept as “Love your neighbor as yourself” that it requires special mention.
I am riding on a lot of coat-tails with this post because the thoughts and sentiments have been expressed so well by others that I hesitate to change or paraphrase even a little. And yet these ideas are so moving I have to share.
These days I am trying to take the elevator to the third floor, the third floor I posted about elsewhere. So, “if your head is not there” to paraphraseValdy, this might not be for you. which is OK, each of us on our own part of the path, each of us searching for Truth in our own way …
I’m thinking, the way we live these days is akin to being roomies in a 3 story boarding house, sort of like “Friends”. Most of us, we the “masses”, live on the first floor and really don’t give it much thought other than to be vaguely aware that there is another floor above us where the sparkly vampires, the know-it-alls, the Brights, live their exalted lives, beyond our reach or influence, and where all the house rules and secular rewards and punishments descend from.
Now, Albert J. Knock, of whom I have posted before, put it like this: ” … The line of differentiation between the masses and the Remnant is set invariably by quality, not by circumstance. The Remnant are those who by force of intellect are able to apprehend these principles, and by force of character are able, at least measurably, to cleave to them. The masses are those who are unable to do either.”
So, in the 3 story rooming house metaphor, all us easy going folks on the first floor are the “masses” as noted above, prone to temptation and failure and continual worship of self and our carnal appetites. And the folks on the 2nd floor of the rooming house are a sort of remnant in a strictly secular way, the elite, who “by force of intellect are able to apprehend … (some fashionable) … principles, and by force of character are able, at least measurably, to cleave to them“. Those are the ones who learned to handle stairs and doorknobs … our “betters” in a class conscious sort of way, just ask them if you get a chance in passing, they will tell you “of course”.
I am setting the stage for this next bit by quoting from Venerable Fulton Sheen:
“Give me a man who loves and I will tell him what God is.” Such are the words of St. Augustine. Anyone who ever loved craved unity with that which he loved. Thus in marriage the ideal is the unity of two in one flesh; in religion the ideal is to be one with Christ. There is not a single person who loves Our Dear Lord, who does not strive to be united to Him in thought and in desire and even in body and mind.
Venerable Fulton Sheen
But here is the problem: How to be one with Christ? His earthly life ended over two thousand years ago. Therefore to some He is only a figure Who crossed the stage of history, as did Caesar and Aristotle, and then was seen no more.
Such souls believe that the only way they can be united with Our Lord, is by reading what someone wrote concerning Him, or by singing hymns in His name, or by listening to a sermon on His life.
It is no wonder that such people soon begin to think of Our Lord as a teacher of ethics, or as a great humanitarian reformer like Buddha or Socrates, for they too also once lived, preached, and edified, and left behind them a beautiful memory. It is only minds with little power of penetration that say Our Dear Lord “was a good man”.
May I say that this is precisely what Our Lord was not, viz., a good man, because good men do not lie. If He is not what He claimed to be, what His Miracles witnessed, what the Jewish and Gentile prophecies foretold, viz., the Son of the living God—then He is not just a good man. Then He is a liar, a knave, a deceiver, and a charlatan. If He is not the Christ, the Son of the living God, He is the anti-Christ; but He is not just a good man.
Let us try to understand what Our Divine Lord really is. Begin with yourself. Have you ever thought of how wonderfully you have been made; that there is in you something which can be seen and touched, namely, your body whose nature is fleshy; but there is also something invisible about you, namely your mind and soul with its thoughts, its loves, and its desires.
Your soul is, in a sense, “incarnate” in a body (the word incarnate, as you know, means in the flesh); that is, your soul animates and unifies your body. Now consider the person of Our Divine Lord. He is the true Incarnation, not of a soul in a body, but of God in the form of man.
There is something visible about Him, namely, His perfect human nature, which can handle tools, pat little children’s heads, be thirsty and think and desire like other men. But there is also something invisible about Him, and that is His divinity. His divinity could no more be seen than your soul, though it could be seen working through His human nature, as your soul works through your body.
Just as your body and your soul combine to make one person, so in an infinitely more perfect way, His human nature and His divine nature make but one person, the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, true God and true man.”
Sheen, Fulton J.. Go to Heaven: A Spiritual Road Map to Eternity (p. 98-99). Ignatius Press.
“Oh Earth Oh Earth Return”, Bill Douglas, (1996)
I feel like the blind man trying to describe an elephant to an audience who I cannot see or hear, and the concept of the “elephant” reflects back so critically on my own conduct and thoughts for so much of my life that I am at times reluctant to dive into it and reluctant to accept the conclusions which the elephant emphatically points to … mixing metaphors … I see the Ghost of Christmas past pointing at my own tombstone in silent judgement. The following from “Divine Intimacy”:
” … “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Mt 22, 39). This measure is so great that it would be difficult to exceed it, when we consider how much every man is inclined to love himself. The good that each of us desires for himself is so great that if we could succeed in desiring just as much for our neighbor — for any neighbor — our charity would be truly magnanimous.
Jesus has said, “and as you would that men should do to you, do you also onto them in like manner” (Lk 6, 31) which, in practice, signifies that we treat others exactly as we wish to be treated ourselves; for example, showing, toward our neighbor, the same consideration if thought, word, and deed, as we would desire for ourselves; serving and pleasing others, accommodating ourselves to their wishes, as we ourselves would wish to be served, pleased, and condescended to.
Alas! our self-love incites us, instead, to use two different measures: one, very large — even exaggerated — for ourselves; the other, very small — even miserly — for our neighbor. The attentions we receive from others always seem to be so trifling, and how easily we complain that we are treated thoughtlessly! Yet very far we are from showing such thoughtfulness toward our neighbor; although in retrospect, we always think we have done too much.
We are very sensitive to the wrongs done us; and even when, in reality, they are slight, we consider them as almost unbearable; whereas we consider as mere nothings the things by which we offend others so freely. The greatest enemy of fraternal charity is self-love, which makes us too sensitive and demanding in what refers to ourselves, and very careless in what refers to others. (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 760)
“Christ’s title “the Son of Man” meant that He was representative not of the Jews alone, nor of the Samaritans alone, but of all mankind. His relation to mankind was similar, as we have said, to that of Adam.
He was made man and qualified Himself for copartnership with human nature. He entered into the reality of common humanity. He assumed a human nature into His sacred person.” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
“The heart of liturgical worship is the Mass. Just as the redemptive work reached its culminating point on Calvary by His death on the Cross, so too, the liturgical action, which continues His work in the world, has its climax in the Mass, which renews and perpetuates on our alters the Sacrifice of the Cross.
Jesus has willed that the precious fruits of redemption, which He merited on Calvary for the whole human race, be applied and transmitted to each of the faithful in a particular way by their participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
This fountain of grace which Jesus opened on Calvary continues to pour over our alters; all the faithful are obliged to approach it at least once a week by attending Sunday Mass, but we may approach it even daily, each time we are present at the Holy Sacrifice.
Holy Mass is truly the “fountain of life”. By offering and immolating Himself continually on our altars, Jesus repeats to us, “If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink.” (Jn 7,37).
“The august Sacrifice of the Altar,” says the Encyclical Mediator Dei, “is not merely a commemoration of the Passion and death of Christ, but a true and proper sacrifice, in which, by immolating Himself in an unbloody manner, the Great High Priest renews His previous act on the Cross.”
The Victim is the same, so is the Priest; nothing but the manner of offering is different — bloody on the Cross, unbloody on the altar. If we do not see in the Mass, as Mary did on Calvary, the torn Body of Christ and the Blood flowing from His wounds, we do have, by virtue of the Consecration, the real presence of this Body and Blood.
Moreover, as this divine presence becomes actualized under two distinct species, the bloody death on Calvary is mystically renewed by the real separation of the Body and Blood of the Saviour.”
“No teacher who ever lived told those who heard him that the rejection of his words would mean their damnation. Even those who believe that Christ was only a teacher would scruple at this judgment about receiving His message. But as He was primarily a savior, the alternative was understandable.
To reject the savior was to reject salvation, as Our Lord called Himself in the house of Zacchaeus. The questioners of His authority had no doubt of the spiritual significance of the parable and the reference to themselves. Their motives were discovered, which only exasperated more those whose designs were evil.
When evil is revealed in the light, it does not always repent; sometimes it becomes more evil. The good repent on knowing their sin; the evil become angry when discovered. Ignorance is not the cause of evil, as Plato held; neither is education the answer to the removal of evil.
These men had an intellect as well as a will; knowledge as well as intention. Truth can be known and hated; goodness can be known and crucified. The Spirit of Christ in man convinces him of sin. Nothing but the spirit can convince man of sin; conscience could not, for it can sometimes be smothered; public opinion cannot, for it sometimes justifies sin; but the gravest sin of all which the Spirit would reveal would not be intemperance, avarice, or lust, but unbelief in Christ.
It is this same Spirit of God which renders the sinner not merely conscious of his state, but also contrite and penitent, when he accepts redemption. To reject the Redeemer is to prefer evil to good. The crucifix is an autobiography in which man can read the story of his own life, either to his own salvation or his own condemnation. So long as sin was regarded only from a psychological point of view, the Cross of Christ appeared as an exaggeration.
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
The sand of the desert, the blood of a beast, or water could just as well purify man. But once sin was seen under the sight of infinite holiness, then the Cross of Christ alone could equal and satisfy for this tragic horror. Once man is convinced of his own sinfulness, he cannot be convinced of his own righteousness; once a man is convinced that Christ has saved him from sin, then he is convinced that Christ is his righteousness.
To have accepted Christ as our righteousness and to have embraced His holy faith is no guarantee of freedom from trials. The Divine Savior never said to His Apostles: “Be good and you will not suffer”; but He did say: “In this world you shall have tribulation.” He told them also not to fear those that kill the body, but rather to fear those who can kill the soul.
Now He told the Apostles that His life was a model for all of His followers; they were encouraged to take the worst this life had to offer with courage and serenity. He said that all sufferings were as the shade of “His hand outstretched caressingly”. No talisman was He to promise as security from trials; rather as a captain He went into battle in order to inspire men to transfigure some of life’s greatest pains into the richest gains of the spiritual life.
As the poet Edward Shillito has put it: ‘No false gods, immune from pain and sorrow, could console us in these days.’ “
Fulton J. Sheen, “Go to Heaven: A Spiritual Road Map to Eternity” (pp. 60-62). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
It seems’s easy, at times, to tell people to “Go to Hell!” Why is it so hard instead, to tell them to” “Go to Heaven!”
Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. The Divine Mercy of Jesus, also known as the Divine Mercy, is a Roman Catholic devotion to Jesus Christ associated with the reputed apparitions of Jesus revealed to Saint Faustina Kowalska. The Roman Catholic devotion and venerated image under this Christological title refers to the unlimited merciful love of God towards all people. Sister Kowalska was granted the title “Secretary of Mercy” by the Holy See in the Jubilee Year of 2000.
Sister Faustina Kowalska reported a number of apparitions during religious ecstasy which she wrote in her diary, later published as the book Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul. The three main themes of the devotion are to ask for and obtain the mercy of God, to trust in Christ’s abundant mercy, and finally to show mercy to others and act as a conduit for God’s mercy towards them.
Pope John Paul II, a native of Poland, had great affinity towards this devotion and authorized it in the Liturgical Calendar of the church. The liturgical feast of the Divine Mercy is celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Some members of the Anglican Communion also share its pious beliefs and devotions in an effort towards church renewal.
1“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.4And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)
21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”22And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (John 20:21-23)
The Hebrew word for peace, shalom (שׁלום)is derived from a root denoting wholeness or completeness, and its frame of reference throughout Jewish literature is bound up with the notion of shelemut, perfection.
Its significance is thus not limited to the political domain — to the absence of war and enmity — or to the social — to the absence of quarrel and strife. It ranges over several spheres and can refer in different contexts to bounteous physical conditions, to a moral value, and, ultimately, to a cosmic principle and divine attribute.
In the Bible, the word shalom is most commonly used to refer to a state of affairs, one of well‑being, tranquility, prosperity, and security, circumstances unblemished by any sort of defect. Shalom is a blessing, a manifestation of divine grace.
Christ Jesus, AD 33
36As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” (שׁלום) 37But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?39See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”42They gave him a piece of broiled fish,b43and he took it and ate before them. (Luke 24:36-43)
44Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”45Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,47and that repentance forc the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.48You are witnesses of these things.49And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:44-49)
“Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” Trust in the Truth … no matter how things appear to us in this world … trust in the Truth. “O my Jesus, supreme Goodness, I ask of you a heart so enraptured with You that nothing can distract it. I wish to become indifferent to everything that goes on in the world, and I want You alone, to love everything that refers to You, but You above everything else, O my God!” (St. Thomas).
Sins of the repertoire … I do not trust, and the catechism tells me “He becomes guilty: – of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor; – of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;”. Judgement and detraction are greatly facilitated when love of self and of the self’s opinions are coupled with caring about and being attached to everything that goes on in the world. I know better, right? Therefore I judge these others … bad, bad, bad, my bad. Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa.
3 …and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.4Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,6but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,a it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. 7“Woe to the world for temptations to sin!b For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! (Mathew 18:3-7)
So do not judge, do not assume to know intentions, or the disposition of another soul. Do not aid and abet the confusion, the temptations, by pontificating about that which one cannot possibly know, one’s opinion to which I am so attached … woe to the one through whom the temptation comes.
“Quid hoc ad aeternitatem,” as old Saint Bernard of Clairvaux used to mumble when faced with the usual parade of travail, what does it matter in the light of eternity?
“Crux Fidelis”, Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, from the album “Lent at Ephesus”, (2014)
Yesterday, Good Friday, I watched “The Passion of The Christ” again. This film is as powerful now as it was the first time I watched it. I think most people in the West have probably watched “The Passion of the Christ” at least once. For others, it is more than once. And yet for others, myself included, it is an annual Lenten“ritual”.
Oh Lord, You have created me for Yourself, to love You and to enjoy You, infinite Good, ineffable Beauty; do not permit me to lose sight of this sublime end toward which I must tend; do not permit me to wander among the wretched satisfactions that vain, feeble creatures can offer me. (I don’t remember where I read that but it is too beautiful to be mine)
Yesterday was “Good Friday”, the end of Lent. Lent is about sorrow, contrition, and repentance. Recent scripture readings and meditations have sensitized the soul’s faculties to the clear realization of my sinfulness, and of God’s most wondrous prerogative, namely God’s mercy, and the revival of our adoption by Christ who: “desires not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Cf. Ezek. 33:11) … “this realization of mercy becomes the impetus of the soul’s advancement in virtue, the inspiration of its power for good, and its daily shield in its struggle for eternal life“. (John A. Kane, “How To Make A Good Confession”, pp 14)
I see “conversion” as a dawning awareness of the real truth of my sinfulness, a spiritual coming of age, where my soul experiences an ever intensifying consciousness of my preferential option for self worship, self gratification and of “sinning” in the pursuit of pleasure, consolation, satisfaction as ends in and of themselves.
The Passion of The Christ by Igor Zenin
The essence of this “conversion” is the turning of my soul and my faculties from sin towards identification of, and identifying with, the will of God, and a concomitant experience of remorse in understanding the lifelong predilection for self centered thoughts, habits, activities and attachments.
I had an intense AHA! experience early yesterday morning. The realization, in my own tiny way, of the pain God feels when his creatures turn away from his love and his care for them and his desire for them to live “the good life” in his orbit and under his protection.
This is what I do, in my selfishness, when I, essentially, tell God to “Just bugger off and leave me alone!” I want to do my own thing, to be me, to act out my own plan regardless of the consequences and the impact on others. I only care about me. It is manifest in a total absence of fraternal charity.
And then, when things go wrong, as they inevitably do, when I find myself in a place where I cannot control my life, where it is all just happening to me and there is nothing I can do about it, I get focused on my little pain from some small source and I think that is everything there is and it is the greatest pain ever. My pain is special.
But God feels all the pain of all the behaviour of all His love children, those creatures He created, out of love, to share His love with, and who He holds in His hands and holds their everything in existence, so they can misbehave with impunity, so they can torture Him and kill Him, His hateful creatures, hurting Him continuously and without pause, for all our time, in His eternal now.
I don’t think a human creature can even begin to realize the pain they cause God by disobedience, and the malice of self worship, until that human starts to get past the attachments to “self” and the self-righteous anger response when that belief, that worship of “self” is threatened or challenged in some way. The only thing that teaches me, that reaches me, is the pain of overwhelming loss of precisely those things or thoughts to which I am most attached.
Jesus Christ, circa AD 30
This painful experience fans the flames of my soul’s ever intensifying awareness of the preponderance of self worship, self gratification, self aggrandizement, and the serious attachment to all things and experiences centered on healing the wounds of my self regard, my self image to which I find myself so inordinately attached.
Attachment … to all the things of this world, but especially those things and experiences which reinforce my self regard, my self-worship. Becoming aware of this I feel sorrow and contrition for my conduct, now and throughout my whole life. I remember every little thing, from childhood to late in life looking back over my personal tale of woe, my misbehavior, my willfulness, and I am sorry.
The contrition experience gives rise to a desire for repentance, a desire to make atonement for past sins, a transformation of my mind, an up-welling of the supernatural drowning the natural in an intensifying struggle. How to atone? How to repent?
Repent, atone, by cutting adrift all those elements, all those attachments, which contribute to the healing of the wounds of my self love, to papering over of those ugly wounds inflicted by self worship, to whitewashing my black heart.
My attachments are a significant part of the framework within which I view “reality” and is it really real? As I have remarked before, some famous guy once said: “it’s what we don’t know that we don’t know that bites our ass in the end”. I have great difficulty identifying and isolating attachments. I desire to see my soul as God sees it, the better to repent for a lifetime of all-purpose sin, my repertoire, my curriculum vitae of “being human”.
Identifying and isolating my attachments has been greatly assisted by my now 15 month long program of fasting … never realized just how much I was attached to food, and the activities surrounding food, until I started fasting. Now it has become obvious that all attachments hide like this, they hide in plain sight within the normal every day experiences of life until I isolate them by choosing a new and different direction for my habits, thoughts, actions.
“Your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash”. Those were the immortal words of Captain Tom “Stinger” Jordan in Top Gun. Of course, he was talking to Maverick, played by Tom Cruise. But that’s a movie, a Hollywood fantasy, it sells well because its what I would like to believe about my own life and abilities, when reality is truly somewhat different.
Odds are, when I use this phrase, especially when I am talking to myself, I’m talking to someone with considerably less ability, to back up the checks being written, with real life performance. Because I have great difficulty identifying and isolating attachments. Let’s count the ways I’ve used this phrase:
… to someone (myself) who was daring others to take action on some outlandish behavior, just because I didn’t really like those others, at that moment in time … no other reason … to that person (myself) who is making a rash decision because … just because, because I thought I could … no other reason, just asserting my specialness … to someone (myself) who just had a wild time in (fill in you last port of call), loudly, confidently, exclaiming, “Really! When am I going to be in (fill in you last port of call) again?”
Captain Jordan in Top Gun, as I know now, knew that it was all fool’s gold. Nothing special here at all, just me, myself, and I, stroking my own ego, my own fantasy that I am special. People (myself) that do outlandish things inevitably learn, hopefully, eventually, that they can’t make irresponsible decisions without facing the music. So back to the escapist fantasy. How did it all work out for Maverick? Crash and burn? Yup, and the real tragedy was that the rubber cheques took Goose and his family down with Maverick. Realization couldn’t bring them back or restore the magic.
It is only in the contrast of my losses and pain that I start to recognize the attachments of my life. This is that process which is described by the Greek word “Metanoia“, that is, changing my mind, and through that my reality. So conversion, contrition and repentance involve and devolve into an internal discussion, a meditation about real “reality” and how attachments seem to be the lens through which I interpret and act upon events and stimuli in my life and relationships … attachments … all the attachments.
So, how am I to move towards being detached from “the things of this world”, the creatures and treasures which I look to for consolation and pleasure when indulging my self gratification and self worship? I think I have to enter into and accept repentance as pretty much a constant mindset, a basic understanding of the enormity of my life of sin and the greater enormity of God’s eternal mercy and love for me. The eternal is what matters, and only reference to the eternal gives meaning to this world and the perishable material things and creatures of this world.
I am living in my material shell as an eternal “soul”, as the ghost in the shell. The shell is not the “me”. The shell is just the collection of lenses, sensor systems and actuators for the self, but it is not the self. I, me, the “ME”, occupy the shell and look at, interact with, and think about the perishable material plane, and the “things of this world”, but as an eternal soul, not as the shell … which is actually what I really am, that ghost in the shell is where that which makes me “I” actually resides, actually exists.
So, all my life is no more than one night in a bad hotel. More thinking and more understanding required … about repentance as a newly understood way of life, like the Prodigal Son, a new way of life full of painful daily reminders of previous offenses against my Father. I will conclude this with a rather long excerpt from Father John A. Kane:
Fr. John A. Kane, 1912 – 1962
“Repentance (from the Greek metanoia) is the mind itself changed and transformed. It is the supernatural conquering the natural. It is the assumption of the spirit of Christ according to the words of St. Paul: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”. (Phil. 2:5)
Thus it is evident that penitence, in its entirety, is perennial. It has not always the same quality, however. It assumes different phases, and in this respect it is like a lifelong grief. The first outbreak of sorrow will subside. The wilderness of desolation will bloom again with fragrant flowers. In resignation to the divine will, the soul will be flooded with light, peace, and joy.
Then it will glory in the consciousness that it is suffering with Christ. Its sorrow is now more abiding; it has taken root in the very depths of the soul’s consciousness; it clings to the soul far more tenaciously than the first convulsive paroxysm of grief.
Without any external evidence, sorrow has silently transfigured the soul’s life, uniting it more fully, more consciously with its God. A calm and permanent sorrow, which at first terrorized the soul, now lovingly embraces it and gradually sinks into its extreme depths, while externally there may have been no sign of its existence.” (John A. Kane,“How To Make A Good Confession”, pp 11-12)
Quid hoc ad aeternitatem, as old Saint Bernard of Clairvaux used to mumble when faced with the usual parade of travail, what does it matter in the light of eternity?
“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)
In all seriousness, I understand that as soon as I am sincerely sorry for my sins, for having offended God, He forgets all my sins and malice and forgives me, for He is truly infinite goodness, infinite mercy.
And I understand that to look back in remorse for sins which have already been forgiven is to commit another sin, a sin of pride.
A sin of “Pride” because, as sure as God made little green apples, I am busy sinning away right now. Getting maudlin about the past, or even blaming the past, is just a distraction from dealing with the sins of right now.
Looking back on past sins is a sin of not trusting that I am in fact forgiven. Lack of trust is fraught with self reliance and self centeredness. Looking back is “Pride” in action, an absence of humility, rather than a practice of humility.
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.
One certainty abides, through all the stormy rhetoric, namely, that this “nothingness” which I contemplate with horror, is not the fault of any other creature and the mere attempt to “place blame” or “attribute responsibility” on or to another creature for the folly and beliefs I entertain about my self is abject knavery in action.
Only the truly, madly, deeply, cowardly, the quintessential poltroon makes the attempt to deflect responsibility onto another creature for thoughts, words and deeds which that bad actor inflicts on others. Down the path of deflection lies in wait a truly insidious trap, and also an accidental gift.
The trap is spiritual death for the deflector, but God permits the accidental gift to that poor creature which is receiving blame and humiliation because it is impossible to become humble without experiencing humiliation, and God wants us to be truly humble.
It is an even greater gift (“gift” raised to some power) when the humiliated are, by their hard work, making the humiliation possible, by providing every single tiny part of the sustenance needed for the poltroons, the bad actors, to exist.
The Emperor of this world
And by their works shall you know them … It seems to me that this deflection of responsibility onto others is one of the most prominent identifiers, a true hallmark, of modernist self worshipers, the slaves of “This World”.
It seems that the less they know (especially of themselves), and the worse their behaviour, the more these actors blame it all on someone else, and excuse their own behaviour.
These actors seem to be willing to attempt any gymnastic contortion in their efforts to blame other creatures, or some event, or circumstances over which they have no control, literally ANYTHING will work for them as an object to blame.
They need a target of their wrath, a perpetual motion engine of hate, in order to avoid having to face the evidence of their own actions, their own sins, and in this avoiding of all responsibility for their thoughts, words, and deeds, these actors pretty much exclude the possibility of ever gaining anything remotely resembling wisdom, that is self-knowledge through experience.
Now, wisdom seems to encourage patience, patience with the foibles and eccentricities of other creatures, our neighbors, and more time encourages more patience, tending eternally until the someday heat death of the universe.
The older one gets (God willing) the more patience one develops, because one has a wider experience of foibles and eccentricities. Another word for the creature so enlightened by this wisdom of experience is, “Conservative.” Been there, done that.
“Kojo No Tsuki” (Rentaro Taki), performed by Yo-Yo Ma, Michio Mamiya, & Patricia Zander, from the album “Japanese Melodies” (1990)
Kojo No Tsuki (Rentaro Taki), performed by Yo-Yo Ma, Michio Mamiya, & Patricia Zander, from the album Japanese Melodies (1990)
As I have previously pointed out in random past posts, the more one knows about a subject, the longer one has studied a subject, the more detailed one’s understanding of any subject, the more sure one becomes about the reality of that subject, the more “Conservative” one becomes towards it.
On the other hand, the less one knows, the more liberal he or she becomes, and the more inclined he or she is to embrace “progress” and “reforms.” Socialism and Communism embody reform by the unknowing, and these socioeconomic systems are always imposed from above or from outside by those with no practical knowledge of that which they are reforming. But even a Communist may prove a very “conservative” hockey player, once he learns something about hockey.
As a Polish immigrant friend of mine once said, to answer my question about why he worked in a print shop when he had a Masters Degree in Economics: “It’s really very simple (Joe), Communists know nothing about economics, and my Masters Degree from the Warsaw School of Economics was granted under the Communists. My Masters degree in Economics is in an area which that school, at the time, knew nothing about.”
This seems a universal principle. Everyone knows something about something, and is very unwilling to embrace change in that which he knows much about. Quoting David Warren again: “The one exception may be journalists, who know nothing about anything, and are therefore liberal all round.”
So, because I have studied sin, and I have a lot of practical knowledge about sin, perhaps a virtual PhD in Sin gained in the “Work Term” of life. Ha, just imagine that, a Doctorate in Sin, because of my experience of sin I hold a “Conservative” view of sin.
There seems to be an iron law of bad behaviour, an iron law of sin, and it seems to have two manifestations … it seems to be that if the actor (the sinner) accepts responsibility for the self’s thoughts, words, and deeds, the sinner thereby internalizes these events and can move forward fruitfully to asking, nay, begging for forgiveness as the enormity of one’s sins wash over the self.
On the other hand, if the actor denies all responsibility and clings desperately to the fantasy that no forgiveness is needed because nothing is the actor’s fault, and because there is no fault, therefore no blame accrues, and no guilt is felt, and no repentance is required. It’s all a magic show … Wax on, Wax off … deflect and disarm, B.S. baffles brains, right?
Occupy Wall-street, or in Canada’s case Occupy Ottawa which Capital City owes it’s very existence to the hard work of all those creatures who are being blamed for what is wrong by other creatures who contribute nothing but only suck, and suck, and suck, yup … life really sucks.
Responsibility, or no responsibility,
That is the question— 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? To die, to sleep—No more—and by a sleep to say we endThe heartache and the thousand natural shocksThat flesh is heir to—’tis a consummationDevoutly to be wished! To die, to sleep.To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub,For in that sleep of death what dreams may comeWhen we have shuffled off this mortal coil,Must give us pause. There’s the respectThat makes calamity of so long life.
We are such victims of other’s delusions as to sometimes wish for death … This delusional behaviour can even go so far as to target entire groups of creatures (individuals unknown to the deluded) in an arbitrary category of scapegoat, the blame-game targets. A blatant example of this was brought up by David Warren in his blog a small portion of which I quote as a teaser:
“Among the signs of our time is a poster mounted by a local “educational” institution. (One must use this term very loosely, these days.) The headline reads: “Check Your Privilege,” and in case you don’t know what the long word means, a definition is offered:
“Privilege: Unearned access to social power based on membership in a dominant social group.” (ed. Ooooooooo … that’s just so spine-tingling clever I about wet myself in the thrill of the moment)
Naturally, one then wonders what the author means by “unearned,” “access,” “social,” “power,” “membership,” “dominant,” and “group.” But that’s only a beginning. The graphic design is professional, slick, expensive. Underneath this frankly Orwellian statement, we have a “black list” (quite literally, white type reversed from a black rectangle) resembling a Canadian election ballot. There are nine entries, which the viewer is invited to mentally check off: … ” (go read the rest at David’s blog post, it is really quite amusing)
It seems obvious that the local “educational” institution in question must be a publicly funded institution.
And it is equally obvious that the institutionalized inhabitants of this “academy”, both academics and students, belong to that perennially vocal class of creatures who are always blaming others, entire groups of other creatures, for what are provably their own failings, inadequacies, and disappointments.
Sigh … ever was it so, at least in living memory.
YEAAHHH !!!! Lets give a big cheer for free public education … and it is worth exactly what you pay for it.
All of the above is the articulation of an observation of a phenomenon, of something “real”, in the “real” world, which observation raises an obvious question. Is the articulation of the observation a “sin” in the sense that we are talking about? Is it a sin to write about observed behaviour of other creatures?
Or is the “sin” actualized in thoughts about the motives and actions of those other creatures who would organize and present this propagandized interpretation of “Privilege” at the expense of other creatures.
“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)
“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)
Now, I looked it up on Google, and as we know we can find everything on Google and Google has this to say about Privilege:
But not a damned thing related to this “Privilege” thing, as “Unearned access” anywhere. I am thinking that in fact what this is all about is “Envy”, another great sin as old as man. Pride and Envy, two of the seven deadly sins …Everyone knows of the seven deadly sins.
The seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins, is a grouping and classification of vices within Christian teachings. Behaviors or habits are classified under this category if they directly give birth to other immoralities. According to the standard list, they are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth, which are also contrary to the seven virtues.
These sins are often thought to be abuses or excessive versions of one’s natural faculties or passions (for example, gluttony abuses one’s desire to eat). This classification originated with the desert fathers, especiallyEvagrius Ponticus, who identified seven or eight evil thoughts or spirits that one needed to overcome.
The idea of “Privilege” does raise another thought, it is interesting to note that, by inference, all of us creatures, both the blamers and the blamed, are indeed “privileged” by ANY definition of the word, because any impartial judge could not help but find that none of us are worthy of existence simply on our own merits. We are all privileged to come into and remain in existence solely through the goodness and mercy of God.
And every second of every living day we commit sins against our creator by continually failing to follow the manufacturers instructions. We are indeed guilty, we are indeed to blame, for all the evil that we think and say and do. We desperately need to be forgiven and the only path to forgiveness is acceptance of responsibility, repentance, to be sincerely sorry for our sins, and to affect a conversion to a new way of living, thinking and acting.
Being forgiven doesn’t balance the scales, in fact I am never able to balance the scales of justice. That is made up for by God’s own mercy, but I have to work out my penance, with fear and trembling, by mortification, prayer and exercising humility.
We are all sinners, or so I am told, but the only sinner I am sure of is myself. Of course the are numerous scriptural reference to salutary examples of bad behaviour and the conduct of ancient sinners. Sometimes it is good to remind oneself of sinners long gone to their reward … and there is nothing new under the sun.
“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.
“The Return Of The King”, part 3 of “The Lord Of The Rings”, released on December 17th, 2003
Maybe Gentle Reader is wondering what the heck I am going on about with all this talk of contrition, and remorse and seeing things spiritually?
What is the point of my meanderings about reality and the “ghost in the shell” and seeing the material from the spiritual perspective as my soul?
What it all is about is that I am looking for a framework which makes identifying attachments easier, and after identifying these attachments, to make it a more straightforward exercise in discipline and mortification to separate myself from these objects of desire and gratification.
And the Season of Lent seems an appropriate time to consider the “end of all things”, fasting and other ways of identifying attachments that get in the way of seeing God as our eternal end …
The Front Porch of Lent: Easing Into the Lenten Fast
It was common for early Christians to begin the Lenten fast immediately after Septuagesima Sunday (nominally 70 days before Easter). Just as Lent today begins 46 days before Easter, since Sundays are never a day of fasting (see “How Are the 40 Days of Lent Calculated?“), so, in the early Church, Saturdays and Thursdays were considered fast-free days, and Friday, of course, was a “fasting from meat” day, as any cradle Catholic older than 50 years or so can tell you.
I remember when that particular item was supposedly dropped, “in the spirit of Vatican II” and George Carlin brought out a live comedy album in 1972 that mocked various Catholic practices, although George, as an ex Catholic, could be said to be an equal opportunity mocker. This skit “I used to be an Irish Catholic” had a line “ … I bet there are still guys doin’ time on the meat rap“. Parochial school humour – unique to Catholics?
By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3453565, This is the cover art for the album Class Clown by the artist George Carlin. The cover art copyright is believed to belong to the label, Little David / Atlantic, or the graphic artist(s).
I remember George was funny as hell … and I enjoyed his humour … that 1972 album was called “Class Clown” and I could identify ’cause I was one – woohoo – “#1 Class Clown”, one of the “back of the classroom tribe” sometimes known as “tree people” because we used to climb the trees outside Jarry Park to watch the Expos play for free.
Flashbacks … that was about the time I went off on my own personal diversion from the faith … for about 20 years … seems a kind of common thing with my generation … except I suspect coming back is rather less common, but there ya go.
Then (1971) came my sharp right turn over to joining the evil military without even hitting the “Group W Bench” in between. Remember“Alice’s Restaurant”? Just about gives me whiplash today thinking back. I wonder how George felt about his Catholic faith just before he died at age 71, in 2008?
But anyway, back to fasting and Friday meat fasts … in order to fit in 40 days of fasting before Easter, therefore, the fast had to start two weeks earlier than it does today.
So fasting, and no Alleluia or Gloria … focused on “the end of all things” just where are we going … after this short night in a bad hotel?
But this is really about “Let not your heart be troubled” …
Douay-Rheims Bible (John 14) Jesus Comforts the Disciples
1Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house there are many mansions. If not, I would have told you: because I go to prepare a place for you.
3And if I shall go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will take you to myself; that where I am, you also may be. 4And whither I go you know, and the way you know.
The Way, the Truth, and the Life
The Apostle Thomas
5Thomas saith to him: Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me.
7If you had known me, you would without doubt have known my Father also: and from henceforth you shall know him, and you have seen him.
8Philip saith to him: Lord, shew us the Father, and it is enough for us. 9Jesus saith to him: Have I been so long a time with you; and have you not known me? Philip, he that seeth me seeth the Father also. How sayest thou, Shew us the Father?
The Apostle Philip
10Do you not believe, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak to you, I speak not of myself. But the Father who abideth in me, he doth the works.
11Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? 12Otherwise believe for the very works’ sake. Amen, amen I say to you, he that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do.
13Because I go to the Father: and whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, that will I do: that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you shall ask me any thing in my name, that I will do.
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
(Joel 2:28-32; John 16:5-16; Acts 2:1-13; Acts 10:44-48; Acts 19:1-7)
15If you love me, keep my commandments.
16And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever. 17The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him: but you shall know him; because he shall abide with you, and shall be in you.
18I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you. 19Yet a little while: and the world seeth me no more. But you see me: because I live, and you shall live. 20In that day you shall know, that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
21He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them; he it is that loveth me. And he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father: and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22Judas saith to him, not the Iscariot: Lord, how is it, that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not to the world?
23Jesus answered, and said to him: If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him. 24He that loveth me not, keepeth not my words. And the word which you have heard, is not mine; but the Father’s who sent me.
25These things have I spoken to you, abiding with you. 26But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.
Peace I Leave with You
27Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. 28You have heard that I said to you: I go away, and I come unto you. If you loved me, you would indeed be glad, because I go to the Father: for the Father is greater than I.
29And now I have told you before it comes to pass: that when it shall come to pass, you may believe. 30I will not now speak many things with you. For the prince of this world cometh, and in me he hath not any thing. 31But that the world may know, that I love the Father: and as the Father hath given me commandment, so do I: Arise, let us go hence.
25These things have I spoken to you, abiding with you. 26But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.
“The Wind Of Liudao”, Jia Peng Fang, from the album “Faraway”, (2002)
“… 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)
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 …
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)
“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”
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.
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 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
What 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.
And 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.
You are either on the side of the Angels, or on the side of the Demons. There is no middle ground.
Do you ever do or say things that, on later thought, you are not real proud of? I can think of lots of things over the last 65 years or so. Saying I was sorry or made up for it or didn’t know any better or … whatever still doesn’t make them OK in my own estimation and I am very much self loving and self centered. How does it look to a loving Father to see His child behaving so badly?
Not real comfortable with yesterday’s post. Can’t take it back, but there it is, not comfortable with the actions and opinions of my yesterday self. Blogging has this good/bad side, in that you can reconsider what you have opined at a later date and no matter how hard you thought about it at the time, it comes about that later you may not feel that way or may see problems with your thinking, see the smart remark or acid image for what it really is, none other than a reflection on your own lack of charity and poor judgment. At the same time, having posted it one cannot deny that you thought and said it, can’t pretend to a personal superiority you don’t have.
Yesterday I posted a caustic image reflecting judgement upon some prominent people who I don’t really know at all, simply finding myself offended by their stated views I judge, and judge harshly. No only that but I share that judgement by way of this venue with other like minded viewers thereby compounding the harm that I do by my harsh judgements.
“Brothers, I want to send all of you away comforted today. So if you ask me my sentiment on the number of those who are saved, here it is: Whether there are many or few that are saved, I say that whoever wants to be saved, will be saved; and that no one can be damned if he does not want to be. And if it is true that few are saved, it is because there are few who live well.
As for the rest, compare these two opinions: the first one states that the greater number of Catholics are condemned; the second one, on the contrary, pretends that the greater number of Catholics are saved. Imagine an Angel sent by God to confirm the first opinion, coming to tell you that not only are most Catholics damned, but that of all this assembly present here, one alone will be saved. If you obey the Commandments of God, if you detest the corruption of this world, if you embrace the Cross of Jesus Christ in a spirit of penance, you will be that one alone who is saved.
Now imagine the same Angel returning to you and confirming the second opinion. He tells you that not only are the greater portion of Catholics saved, but that out of all this gathering, one alone will be damned and all the others saved. If after that, you continue your usuries, your vengeances, your criminal deeds, your impurities, then you will be that one alone who is damned.
What is the use of knowing whether few or many are saved? Saint Peter says to us, “Strive by good works to make your election sure.” When Saint Thomas Aquinas’s sister asked him what she must do to go to heaven, he said, “You will be saved if you want to be.” I say the same thing to you, and here is proof of my declaration. No one is damned unless he commits mortal sin: that is of faith. And no one commits mortal sin unless he wants to: that is an undeniable theological proposition.
Therefore, no one goes to hell unless he wants to; the consequence is obvious. Does that not suffice to comfort you? Weep over past sins, make a good confession, sin no more in the future, and you will all be saved. Why torment yourself so? For it is certain that you have to commit mortal sin to go to hell, and that to commit mortal sin you must want to, and that consequently no one goes to hell unless he wants to. That is not just an opinion, it is an undeniable and very comforting truth; may God give you to understand it, and may He bless you. Amen.”
Rather Sobering … not many “cheers” here.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free. In the end we are all free to choose whether to reject this world and all it’s temptations or acquiesce to the easy path. We choose to be free or to be slaves.