The Inner Struggle

Confusion Fosters Doubt … unless we trust God’s plan

“Crux Fidelis”, Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, from the album “Lent at Ephesus”, (2014)

Mary of Jesus of Ágreda (Spanish: María de Jesús), OIC, also known as the Abbess of Ágreda (2 April 1602 – 24 May 1665), was a Franciscan abbess and spiritual writer, known especially for her extensive correspondence with King Philip IV of Spain and reports of her bilocation between Spain and its colonies in New Spain (now New Mexico and Texas). She was a noted mystic of her era.

Venerable Mary of Agreda Incorrupt Body

Venerable Mary of Agreda, In 1909 her casket was opened for the first time after her death in 1665. Her body was found to be completely incorrupt

A member of the Order of the Immaculate Conception, also known as Conceptionists, Mary of Jesus wrote fourteen books, including a series of revelations about the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Her bilocation activity is said to have occurred between her cloistered monastery in rural Spain and the Jumano Indians of central New Mexico and West Texas, and inspired many Franciscan missionaries in the New World. In popular culture since the 17th century, she has been dubbed the Lady in Blue and the Blue Nun, after the color of her order’s habit.

I am currently reading Venerable Mary of Agreda’s “Mystical City of God”.  It is four volumes and possibly the biggest book on my Kindle. I have discovered, in Volume One, Chapter VI, an articulate recounting of a view of the perennial controversy amidst various schools of thought and theological points of view within The Roman Catholic Church and within Christendom at large.

The Second Vatican Council, Vatican II

The Second Vatican Council, Vatican II

It would appear that ever was it so, and even I myself in my own lifetime have seen the controversy and confusion arising out of the Ecumenical Council Vatican II at the end of the 60’s as a result of the agendas and narratives of various participants in the Council, including the infamous “Spirit of Vatican II” by which some parties, even those who did not participate, sought to append their own agendas onto the body of genuine theological work which the Council produced.

Pope Francis,

Pope Francis,

These days, and for the last several years under Pope Francis there seems to be a never ending stream of controversy emanating from Rome with respect to this or that fundamental doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. The sides are drawn up, the Pope stands in the middle, and while saying nothing dogmatic one way or another seems to have adopted a position of “We neither confirm nor deny” whatever the latest controversial topic may be.

So, as controversy seems to be “status quo” for the Catholic Church for many centuries, I expect we should not judge, not take sides, but simply have Faith and Trust in the King’s plan about which we really don’t know anything – it is, after all, “Above our Pay Grade”. This situation appears, quoting from “The Mystical City of God” to have been the case for centuries, and hopefully this quote will shed some useful light on “The Plan” which we are expected and commanded to Trust:

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“74. “And in order that thou mayest better understand the answer to thy doubt, remember, that there is neither any succession of time in my decrees, nor any need of it for the perception and the execution of them. (ed. God exists outside time in the eternal now)

75. “The existence of different opinions regarding these sacraments and other mysteries in the Church, arises from the fact that I manifest and give light concerning one set of mysteries to some teachers, and illumine others concerning other mysteries; for mortals are not capable of receiving all the light. It is not expedient: that the knowledge of all things be given to one man, as long as men are viators (travelers or pilgrims in this world).

For also in the state of comprehensors (one who comprehends; one who has attained a full knowledge), they obtain them in parts and according to the state and the merits of each. … mortals receive it neither entirely, nor is it always given so clearly, as to assure them altogether. Therefore they must acquire it by means of study and the use of letters and science There are also many truths revealed in holy Scriptures and to some men light is given from above.

Yet, as I leave most men to work by their natural light, it must follow, that they understand these mysteries in different senses, and that there exist different explanations and different meanings regarding the different passages in Scripture; for each adheres to his opinion according to his understanding. Many have a good intention and the light and truth is essentially one, but it is made use of with diversity of judgment and inclinations, so that some adhere to these teachers, others to those and so the controversies arise among them.”

77. “Take notice also, my spouse, that very often I permit and cause differences of opinions among the doctors and teachers. Thus some of them maintain what is true and others, according to their natural disposition, defend what is doubtful. Others still again are permitted to say even what is not true, though not in open contradiction to the veiled truths of faith, which all must hold. Some also teach, what is possible according to their supposition.

By this varied light, truth is traced, and the mysteries of faith become more manifest. Doubt serves as a stimulus to the understanding for the investigation of truth. Therefore controversies of the teachers fulfill a proper and holy end.

They are also permitted in order, to make it known, that real science dwells in my Church more than in the combined study of all the holy and perfect teachers, and that she can make them wise above the wisdom of the worldly wise; that there is above them One, who is the Prompter of the wise (Wis. 7, 15), namely, Myself; who alone knows all and comprehends all; who weighs and measures, without ever being measured or comprehended (Wis. 9, 13); that men, although they may search my judgments and testimonies ever so much, cannot attain them, unless I give the intelligence and light (Job 32, 8), who am the beginning and the Author of all wisdom and science.

I desire that men, in acknowledging all this, give Me praise, exaltation, confession, supremity and glory forever.”

78. “I desire also that the holy doctors acquire for themselves much grace, light and glory by their earnest, laudable and sacred study, and that the truth be more and more clearly detected and purified, and be traced to its source, By humbly investigating the mysteries and the admirable works of my right hand, they come to be partakers of them and of the bread of the understanding, the holy Scriptures (Eccli. 15, 3).

I have especially shown my Providence in regard to doctors and teachers, although their opinions and doubts have been so diverse and for such different ends. Sometimes, for my greater glory and honor, sometimes for earthly purposes, they are permitted to dispute, and to contradict each other; and there is a great inequality in the manner in which they have proceeded and do proceed to show their emulation and earnestness.

But with all this I have directed, governed and enlightened them, giving them my protection in such a manner, that the truth may be investigated and clearly manifested. The light has spread out, so that many of my perfections and wonderful works have been made known, and the holy Scriptures have been interpreted according to high standards, which has been very pleasing to Me.

For this reason the fury of hell, with inconceivable envy (especially in these, our times), has raised its throne of iniquity, pretending to engulf the waters of the Jordan (Job 40, 18), and obscure the light of holy faith by heretical doctrines and seeking to sow its false seeds by the help of man (Matth. 13, 25).

But the rest of the Church and its truths are in most perfect order; the Catholics, although much involved and blind in other respects, hold nevertheless the truths of faith and its holy light without diminution. I call all men with fatherly love to share this happiness, yet few are the elect, who choose to respond to my call.”

79. “I also desire thee to understand, my spouse, how well my Providence disposes things in such a way, that the teachers, by the diversity of their opinions, and by their own diligent exertion and study, scrutinize more deeply my testimonies and thus lay bare the marrow of the holy Scriptures to wayfaring men.

But it would be very pleasing to Me and in harmony with my service, if learned persons would extinguish and do away with pride, envy and ambition after vain honors; also all the other passions and vices, which arise from them, together with the bad seeds, that are likely to be generated from that sort of occupation (Matth. 13, 25).

But I do not root out this bad seed at present, in order that the good may not be rooted out with the bad.”

Venerable Mary of Agreda. The Mystical City of God: Complete Edition Containing all Four Volumes with Illustrations (Volume One chapter VI, para 74 – 79). Veritatis Splendor Publications. Kindle Edition.

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So, something to think about, Trust, perhaps the most difficult of virtues in a singularly distrustful, self-reliant world which has come to worship “Self” above even God.

I think some of us have an unfair advantage. It is easier for those of us with a military background, after spending years sometimes, following orders without knowing the big picture, to accept that the “Plan” is above our pay grade and to Trust that the King knows what he is doing. Military personnel give up worshiping themselves or they simply don’t last.

It has been my experience that modern society, especially our academics, progressive bureaucrats and the “Brights” of our day look down from their tower of self, on we military, serving and vets,  as “stupid” and “brainwashed” because we, the dogs in the back yard, learned honor and integrity, and volunteered to “go in harms way” to serve and protect others, even when those others hate us for our service … hmmm … the long haired screamers still offend even in their old age.

But we know that we chose to let ourselves be brainwashed, if that is what it is. To willingly accept the breaking down of the childish self and the rebuilding of that individual self into a member of a team with a purpose greater than the sum of the parts. To accept the uniform code of military conduct without having to think about it, to make a habit of all the little sacrifices daily in order to advance unit integrity, effectiveness and putting the mission first. Service and sacrifice Ad Aeternitatum.

That is really the essence of self-sacrifice, even in the world at large. Just look at what any loving mother or father go through for their children, even when the children don’t recognize or understand the sacrifices. And look at the daily sacrifices involved in simply trusting God’s plan.

The Brights and their progressive societal hangers-on are more deeply brainwashed and simply can’t see their reality because it’s all dressed up in bright shiny cool stuff that folks hang on their “I love me” wall. Everything and everyone that doesn’t agree with their world view is simply branded as “stupid” and Bulverised into oblivion. We just know that we are right, isn’t that so Justin?

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

But “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophyHamlet, Act I Scene v.

And Trust in God’s plan is an important constituent in charity, that is Love in the Agape sense. That charity which accepts that the right things have to be done even though some will not thank you and will ridicule you even while accepting your protection and help. Trust in God’s plan lends patience and kindness even to trying situations.

4 Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up; 5 Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8 Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child. 12 We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known. 13 And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Cor. 13: 4-13)

Cheers

Joe

Quid Hoc Ad Aeternitatum

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The Inner Struggle

Sorrow … Contrition … Repentance … (part 2)

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

Back again, and all the tempests and crisis of the last three weeks have been more or less successfully and favorably resolved.

The government’s roaring and posturing has subsided to the distant rumble of a passing train, my technology has returned to good behaviour with no permanent damage, and family has returned well from a brief hospital stay.

I am grateful to God for what has been given and also for what has been taken away even though it was, at times, extremely painful.

Again I am posting quotes from Fr. John A. Kane, from that wonderful book by John A. Kane called “How To Make A Good Confession”. 

As mentioned previously, in this book I have found tremendous consolation with respect to inner feelings which I have been going through for several years now.

Father John goes on to say:

… Penitence is born of a consciousness of sin, and a consciousness of sin deepens with the passing of life. Repentance, therefore, intensifies as we grow older. …

The commission of the first actual sin is a mere insignificant commonplace, inspiring no reasonable shame or analysis of its cause nor any deep realization of its full enormity.

Father John A. Kane

Father John A. Kane

As we grow older we begin to feel the actual consequences of sin, the evils flowing from it that afflict us and those we love.

Gradually the knowledge of its real nature, the secret disorder wrought by it, and the ruin and desolation that it brings into the soul unfold themselves to the mind.

As the years pass, this inward working of sin becomes more vivid, more terrible.

It deepens more and more as the end of life approaches; and at the hour of death, even when our lips have been purpled and our souls washed with the blood of our God, even then, just because of the soul’s brilliant spiritual beauty, sin becomes all the more foul and ugly.

Since, therefore, the keenness of the sense of sin measures the depth of repentance, penitence must grow with advancing years.” (John A. Kane, “How To Make A Good Confession”, pp 9-10)

Cheers

Joe

In all things, may the most holy, the most just, and the most lovable will of God be done, praised, and exalted above all forever. Thy will be done, Oh Lord, thy will be done. The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.

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The Inner Struggle

Silence … Seeing God … The Gift of Tears …

“Crux Fidelis”, Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, from the album “Lent at Ephesus”, (2014)

I recently came across several writings and snippets about the gift of tears. Some comments on some posts referred to people who said they weep freely at Mass when they never used to, or they perhaps became emotional unintentionally.

I am one of those who find themselves often with tears running at Mass, and also when doing daily spiritual readings and thinking about these readings and meditations and how I apply them in my daily life. It seems at first glance to be more to this mysterious spiritual phenomenon than merely crying unexpectedly.

Some commenters seem to feel that this phenomenon (what I am experiencing) is a “gift”, and it is not merely because I am emotional, or easily moved. Some writers see it as a physical manifestation of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. It is formally known as “the gift of tears.”

The commenters go to some length to reassure the reader that I/we should not feel anxiety over this experience but recognize it as a great gift.

Father Bartunek , author of “The Better Part”, which I have referred to previously and highly recommend, explained in an  article that this gift is one that has been explained through tradition rather than official documentation in Scripture or the Catechism. He defines this spiritual grace as an unbidden gift from the Holy Spirit that is bestowed on someone through the healing flow of tears shed.

The fruit of such tears leads both the recipient of this gift and others who witness it to joy and abiding peace. (He cautions that) … This definition supplants the mere notion that the gift of tears includes anyone who cries from a touching spiritual or emotional sentiment.

The gift of tears is considered a charismatic gift, a manifold of spiritual blessings to whomever the Holy Spirit grants it.

People who receive this gift may experience it only once or perhaps multiple times, but the gift itself is not an indication of one’s level of holiness or the achievement of perfect union with God. Many saints declared the importance of accepting with gratitude an unexpected source of consolation or perhaps divine insight, but they warned against the distraction of loving the gift rather than the Giver.

In other words, we should not focus our attention on any spiritual charism that happens to bless our lives but instead approach it with sincere and heartfelt thanksgiving while allowing it to become a fleeting memory.

Natural tears are often mistaken for this supernatural gift, especially when they occur during or after an intense spiritual experience. One must recognize one’s tendency toward weeping or the expression of deep emotions through tears in order to differentiate between the natural versus spiritual gift of tears.

The best distinction of the spiritual gift is by the resulting fruit. Is the person filled with an abiding peace or greater love for God? Are the people around him or her moved by the tears in the same manner? We must always remember that by our fruits they will know us. (read more here)

What seems to be common to all these experiences (for me) is that whatever the experience is, whether a moving spiritual reading, a meditation, a prayer, a great musical experience like chant, or a performance by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, (at top of post) or some of the work of Mozart, or Bach, or Renaissance Choral Music by, for example, Tallis or Allegri,  whenever I have these experiences, the place I am at in my head at that moment during the experience is one of blinding realization of humanity’s place, that is, my tiny place, in God’s eternal now. It is just overwhelming.

So am I just a labile, highly sensitive, emotional cry-baby, or am I experiencing an important glimpse of reality, a momentary consolation along my path to spiritual growth? I don’t really know, but it is certainly greatly uplifting and peace inducing (and sometimes embarrassing afterwards as I fall back into old habitual modes of seeing).

Today my thoughts turn to the need for silence, God is calling to us continuously, and eventually, God takes us all home, willy-nilly, regardless of our desires and our interest. He takes us all home to our just end and we all find what we truly seek.

Our society puts little premium or credence on received wisdom. We value derived wisdom which we struggle to develop as we find it useful and productive but we disregard received wisdom, the wisdom of tradition and human experience. We receive God or Self, depending upon to which we give priority. Being still … being silent … accepting and understanding received wisdom, received reality … is unpopular in this busy culture, this noisy culture.

We need to understand reality NOT as something we achieve through hard work, labor, and suffering, not as something we create, but rather we need to understand reality as something we receive, something we are gifted with. In the understanding of this gift we must put aside our busy striving noisy self to embrace stillness, silence, and the gift of God’s creation through which we come to understand our own place in that creation and our true purpose … which is union with God.

We must embrace the putting aside of ourself, the discarding of our attachment to ourself, to make room for God in our soul. Be at rest, be still, and know God … “Be still, and know that I am God”.  God is continually calling us home and we are too busy  talking about ourself to listen to God and to gaze upon Him.

Perhaps this deafness and blindness to reality is a result of the ways, means, and modes of thought to which we are accustomed to turn, when working, when striving,  in our society. These modes of thought are the tools by which we learn about and understand our reality.

But any tool is only as good as the thinking mind of the tool user. Tools of the mind condition the way the mind works. A “hammer”, and “hammering”, exclude other uses of hand and arm. What are we not doing, not thinking, because we are so busy doing? To what end are we so busy doing?

Psalm 40: 6-10

6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire— but my ears you have opened— burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.

7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come— it is written about me in the scroll.

8 I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.”

9 I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, Lord, as you know.

10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly.

Cheers

Joe

 

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