Life in a small town

Patience … All Is Gratuitous Gift …

This has been a summer full of frustration, fear, uncertainty and doubt, a summer of discontent. Future prospects are obscured in a cloudy haze of local and international political and economic issues. Locally, business has been terrible because of local construction which has severely restricted access to my business premises. This summer we are down 50% in sales. Contrary to the phone company advertising, the future is decidedly not friendly.

And so I am trying hard to work on exercising patience, every day, with all the little trials, annoyances, inconveniences and disappointments which we all experience every day, and in keeping in mind that “All Is Gratuitous Gift” … I am just going to quote from Venerable Mary of Agreda’s “The Mystical City of Godfor the rest of this post.  Written by Venerable María de Jesus de Agreda, a 17th century Spanish nun, after years of private revelations from God the Father and Most Holy Mary, Mística Ciudad de Dios (The Mystical City of God) is a marvelous and life-changing narrative of most wonderful and hidden mysteries about the life of Most Holy Mary and her Son Jesus Our Lord that has been enthralling readers for centuries.

Composed of the Conception, Incarnation, Transfixion and Coronation, this magnificent narrative takes the reader through the various stages of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, plus it reveals all sorts of facts about our entire salvation history. Pope Innocent XI and Pope Alexander VIII in 1690 expressly declared that the City of God may be read by all the faithful. Pope Clement XI and Benedict XIV gave like decisions. Here then is the quote for my trials this summer and beyond:

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Mystical City Of God,

“In all the difficulties, … I never lost sight of one consideration, which I desire thee always to keep in mind. It is this: that thou ponder in thy heart and in thy soul the truths, which I saw, so that thou mayest form a correct judgment of all things, giving to each that esteem and value which is its due. In regard to this the children of Adam are ordinarily full of error and blindness, but I desire that thou, my daughter, share it not with them.

357. As soon as I was born into the world and made aware of the light, which shone upon me, I felt the effects of the elements, the influence of the planets and of the stars, of the earth which sustained me, of the nourishments which preserved me, and of all the other things of this life.

I gave thanks to the Author of all things, acknowledging his works as benefits freely bestowed upon me, and not as dues, which He owed to me. Therefore, when anything was wanting of the necessaries of life I remained in peace and contentedness and deemed it all perfectly reasonable and proper in my regard, since I had merited none of the gifts and could justly be deprived of all of them.

Hence, if I acknowledged this, thereby merely asserting a truth which the human reason cannot ignore nor deny, where have mortals their intellect, or what use do they make of their understanding when, at the refusal of things which they desire and of which perhaps they do not even profit, they begin to get sad and lash themselves into fury one against the other, and even against their God, as if they were suffering some injury at his hands?

Let them inquire what treasures and riches they did possess before they came into life? What services had they rendered unto God in order to merit them? And if out of nothing there cannot arise anything, and if they could not merit the being which they have received, what obligation is there on the part of God to preserve out of justice, what was given to them entirely gratuitously?

That God created man was of no benefit to Himself; but to man it was a benefit, and one as great as the being given to him, and as high as the object for which it was given. And if in his creation man becomes indebted so much that he never can pay his debt, tell me what right can he invoke at present for his preservation? Has he not received his being without merit and many times forfeited it? How can he claim the guarantee and pledge of unfailing plenty?

358. If the first transaction and operation was a mortgage and a debt by which man binds himself, how can he with such impatience demand favors? And if in spite of all this, the supreme goodness of the Creator furnishes him graciously with what is necessary, why should he be agitated by the want of superfluities. O my daughter, what an execrable disorder and what a despicable blindness of mortals is this?

For that, which the Lord gives them gratuitously, they do not thank Him, or even give Him acknowledgment, and for that which He denies them justly and sometimes most mercifully, they are restless and proudly desirous, and they try to procure it by unjust and forbidden means, throwing themselves into the very destruction which flies from them.

The first sin alone, committed by man, was sufficient to cancel man’s right to the friendly service of all the other creatures; and if the Lord himself would not restrain them, they would turn in vengeance upon man and refuse to render any service or help for sustaining his life. The heavens would deny them their light and benign influences, the fire would refuse its heat, the air would cease to serve for respiration, and all the other things would in their particular way refuse their services, since they would in justice be bound to refuse them.

Then when the earth would deny its fruits, and the elements their moderation and their assistance, and all the other creatures would arm themselves to avenge the wrongs of their Creator (Sap. S, 18), perhaps disgraced man would humiliate himself in his vileness and would not heap up the wrath of the Lord for the unerring day of accountance, when all his dreadful guilt will be exposed.

Recent picture of Venerable Mary of Agreda, (1602-1665) Incorruptible

359. But thou, my dear friend, fly from such base ingratitude, and humbly acknowledge that thou hast received thy being and life gratuitously, and that, gratuitously, its Author preserves it for thee. Freely dost thou receive all the other benefits, without any merit of thine; and thus, receiving much and repaying little, thou makest thyself daily less worthy of favors, while the liberality of the Most High grows continually with thy indebtedness.

Let this thought be uppermost in thee always, in order that it awaken and move thee to many acts of virtue. If any of the irrational creatures fail thee, I desire thee to rejoice in the Lord and give thanks to his Majesty, and bless them for their obedience to the Creator. If the rational creatures persecute thee, love them with all thy heart and regard them as the instruments of divine justice, which afford thee some opportunity of rendering satisfaction for thy deficiency.

Rather strengthen and console thyself in labors, adversities and tribulations, not only considering them as fully deserved by the faults committed, but deeming them ornaments of the soul and most rich jewels given thee by thy Spouse.”  (Venerable Mary of Agreda. The Mystical City of God: Complete Edition Containing all Four Volumes with Illustrations . Veritatis Splendor Publications. [pp 356-359])

Cheers

Joe

Naked came I into the world and naked will I leave it. Thy Will be done, O Lord, Thy Will be done.

 

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Pen as Sword - Social Commentary, The Inner Struggle

Common Sense & Love …

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

John Martin, Sodom and Gomorrah, 1852

John Martin, Sodom and Gomorrah, 1852

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Martin, Satan Presiding at the Infernal Council, 1824

John Martin, Satan Presiding at the Infernal Council, 1824

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Apostle Paul, Peter Paul Rubens, ca 1612

The Apostle Paul, Peter Paul Rubens, ca 1612.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a blood transfusion is to the body, reparation for the sins of another is to the spirit. Instead of separating when there are difficulties and trials, the Christian solution is to bear the other as a cross for the sake of his sanctification. The wife can redeem the husband, and the husband the wife. This transferability of sanctification from a good wife to a bad husband, or from a good husband to a bad wife, follows from the fact that they are two in one flesh.

As skin can be grafted from the back to the face, so merit can be applied from spouse to spouse. This spiritual communication may not have the romantic satisfaction in it that carnal communication has, but its returns are eternal. Many a husband and wife after infidelities and excesses will find themselves saved on Judgment Day, as the faithful partner never ceased to pour out prayers for his or her salvation.”

Fulton J. Sheen,  “Go to Heaven: A Spiritual Road Map to Eternity” (pp. 164-167). Ignatius Press.

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Real food for deep thought here.

As between two people in a marriage, between spouses, so also between siblings, and between children and parents, and even between friends and acquaintances, after infidelities and excesses, after strife and turmoil and betrayal, and oceans of pain, the sinners will find themselves saved on Judgment Day, as the faithful  never ceased to pour out prayers for their salvation.

Even the prodigal son upon his return can storm heaven’s gates on behalf of the lost sheep of his or her family and friends, and in so doing perhaps atone and make reparation for the multitude of sins of his and their past.

Cheers

Joe

Naked Came I ... Job 1:21

Naked Came I … Job 1:21

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

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