Nothing from Joe this time around … just some Scripture readings to meditate on, and then some important links to good posts from Mark Mallett. And a cool LOTR video from YouTube.
First: John 11. This was the Gospel reading for Sunday, the 29th of March 2020, the fifth Sunday of Lent, and a very important and detailed Gospel, John 11:1-45. This is one of the longest Gospel readings in the Liturgy. It is the story about the resurrection of Lazarus by our Lord Jesus Christ after he had been dead for four days. I posted about it here. But my post is not the important one in this collection … Mark has the message.
The second Scripture reading is: Ezekiel 18:17-32 (Douay-Rheims Bible). A couple of verses : “20 The soul that sinneth, the same shall die: the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, and the father shall not bear the iniquity of the son: the justice of the just shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. 21 But if the wicked do penance for all his sins which he hath committed, and keep all my commandments, and do judgment, and justice, living he shall live, and shall not die. 22 I will not remember all his iniquities that he hath done: in his justice which he hath wrought, he shall live.” But again, my post is not the important one.
Here are the important links. We should be preparing. Now is not the time to be looking back and regretting what is falling to wrack and ruin all around us.
The difficulty is always in the seeing of what is taking place right before us and all around us, the great warp and weft of the great tapestry of all reality.. We are limited in our humanity, in space and time, in what we can understand and we lose sight of the fact that our responsibility is to stand and deliver in our own little insignificant part of the great battlefield of the world.
This is not the time to flee, to hide away … this is a moment at the start of a great battle … a beautiful metaphor of what mankind has faced over and over again for thousands of years. Tolkien got it right in LOTR: Remember the scene?
Merry himself felt as if a great weight of horror and doubt had settled on him…. They were too late! Too late was worse than never!…. Then suddenly Merry felt it at last, beyond doubt: a change. Wind was in his face! Light was glimmering….
But at that same moment there was a flash, as if lightning had sprung from the earth beneath the City. For a searing second it stood dazzling far off in black and white, its topmost tower like a glittering needle: and then as the darkness closed again there came rolling over the fields a great boom.
At that sound the bent shape of the king sprang suddenly erect. Tall and proud he seemed again; and rising in his stirrups he cried in a loud voice, more clear than any there had ever heard a mortal man achieve before: Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden! Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter! spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered, a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises! Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor! With that he seized a great horn from Guthláf his banner-bearer, and he blew such a blast upon it that it burst asunder. And straightway all the horns in the host were lifted up in music, and the blowing of the horns of Rohan in that hour was like a storm upon the plain and a thunder in the mountains.
The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 5, The Ride of the Rohirrim
We look at the state of “This World” and get goosebumps and the hair on the back of our neck rises …
We are all riders, and God wants us all in His army, but we have to choose … which side do you choose?
“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)
“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)
03:30AM … Silence, and unanswered questions, and doubts, and “Nacht und Nebel” or the modern variation, FUD, that is Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. Hiding … Why does talking about this make me uncomfortable?
Revisiting this particular train of thought to see if it takes me anywhere new, can I see any new peaks from the metaphorical dome car on the way through the Rocky Mountains of my mind?
7And the eyes of them both were opened: and when they perceived themselves to be naked, they sewed together fig leaves, and made themselves aprons.
8And when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in paradise at the afternoon air, Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God, amidst the trees of paradise. 9And the Lord God called Adam, and said to him: Where art thou? (Genesis 3: 7-9)
Where art thou? Things always seem grimmer after a relatively sleepless night … Where art thou … indeed … separated at birth … separated ourselves … broke with our creator … self inflicted wounds … will not serve … and death entered in …
Was there ever a time in human history when mankind was not completely mired in sin and evil? Was there ever a time in human history when mankind wasn’t playing “Russian Roulette” for pride and personal ambitions and frequently blowing his own brains all over the wall of life?
Cardinal Gerhard Müller
I find this inner struggle of developing spiritual awareness is frequently made more difficult by the reported antics of those charged with my instruction.
Is the error, my sin in this, my curiosity, that I seek after this reporting? Or perhaps is it that I deceive myself in believing that I somehow know what is right, is this all just my pride?
I don’t know, so I cling desperately to Cardinal Gerhard Müller’s explanation that this is simply a misunderstanding. Again and again, Cardinal Müller has been the victim of criticism in some Traddy circles. This, in Father Hunwicke’s view, is totally unjustified:
” … (Müller’s) stance on Amoris Laetitia is perfectly rational and it doesn’t need guarantees of its perfect orthodoxy. His is one way to skin a cat.
His Eminence Walter Brandmüller, President emeritus of the Pontifical Commission of Historical Sciences, His Eminence Raymond Leo Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, His Eminence Carlo Caffarra, Archbishop emeritus of Bologna (Italy), and His Eminence Joachim Meisner, Archbishop emeritus of Cologne (Germany)
The other skinning method is that of the Four Cardinals (the Dubia Cardinals – two of whom have since died); to seek a clarification which will put its orthodoxy beyond the doubt which they judge some prelates and some hierarchies have created.
Each Feline Modality is directly aimed at the affirmation of the same orthodoxy. Whether as a matter of fact there is ‘doubt’ about what AL teaches, is for individuals to assess.”
Or is the error in this distress, an error of my honest expectation that those who have devoted the entire course of their lives to this struggle for awareness should not have found meaningful examples and left trail blazes to guide me easily on my travel?
Or is this train of thought really just some sterile version of self-pity? This post started out as a momentary “what the heck” exclamation prompted by the latest “pontifications” emanating from the Vatican.
It seems that much of what comes out of Rome these days is a freeway to sin rather than guidance towards the good, that is, a preferred guidebook on the narrow path to Divine Intimacy.
Fear in Rome
I end up experiencing sadness instead of joy every time I wander into that neighbourhood. Continuous flashbacks to late 60’s early 70’s, and the chaotic fall-out from Vatican II.
Flashbacks to a time when, in my all-knowing youthful pride, I decided that I didn’t give a rat’s backside about the Catholic Church since they (the Curia) obviously didn’t know their own backside from a hole in the ground.
How can one reform “Truth”? Only “Not Truth” can be reformed, only “Not Truth” can give rise to “A New Paradigm”, a bureaucratic “Policy Change” with a new “Briefing Book” full of platitudes, half baked excuses and accusations.
So the post grows and grows with each new thought … again I am realizing that this spontaneous outpouring of angst is now around 5000 words and I’m still writing. Realizing, as when I first attacked this discomforting subject that it is just too long.
I have decided that this needs to be broken into multiple parts – again … like multiple therapy sessions on the couch … whoever is sitting on the chair behind my head must be VERY patient. Who knows, when we start, where the train of thought is going? Maybe it needs a disclaimer at the start of each part, or maybe a warning about toxic waste?
When the Scribes and Pharisees declared “better that one should die than that all suffer”, they were not talking about “all” the people, they were talking about all the entire crop of Scribes and Pharisees of that day …. they were talking about the “all” of themselves and the threat to their own power, pride and honor which Yeshua embodied.
Saint Teresa of Avila says “However slight may be our concern for our reputation, if we wish to make progress in spiritual matters we must put this attachment right behind us, for if questions of honor prevail we will never make great progress or come to enjoy the real fruits of prayer, which is intimacy with God.”
The Saint also says that concern for their honor is the reason why many people who have devoted themselves to the spiritual life, and are very deserving on account of many good works, are still “down on earth” and never succeed in reaching the “summit of perfection”.
They remain mired because they are so insistent on preserving their reputation, so extremely attentive to every small point, every minor rule and little detail, so strict or exact in the observance of the formalities or amenities of conduct or actions with regards to their station in life.
To paraphrase Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. from the book “Divine Intimacy”: Attachment to the things of this world, especially to our honor, is shown in all those large and small susceptibilities arising from our attitude that wishes to affirm our personality, hold onto the esteem of others and make our point of view prevail.
This attitude shows up in the various schemes, conscious and petty or not, to obtain and keep privileges and honorable positions where our own views, which we always think are good, will prevail. In this way we hope to make obvious our abilities, works, and our own personal merits which are always worthy in our own eyes.
“Into the West”, performed by Annie Lennox, composed by Howard Shore, from the LOTR soundtrack, (2003)
Thinking about my father, gone from this mortal coil some 33 years now, and still fresh in my memory as if I had coffee with him yesterday. Wishing, with all my heart, I could sit down and talk with him about things I have learned in those 33 years.
Death takes everyone … death is what binds us all together … no one escapes, no one buys their way out, no one. No one, no matter the extreme sacrifices made on the alter of self to appease the gods of our secular lives, no matter the banality of the attachments of this world of flesh and passion and decay.
No matter the pride and achievements in this short night in this bad hotel … no one … escapes … Brother Death.
Pippin: I didn’t think it would end this way. Gandalf: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path. One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass… then you see it! Pippin: What? Gandalf? See what? Gandalf: White shores… and beyond. A far green country, under a swift sunrise. Pippin: Well, that isn’t so bad. Gandalf: No. No, it isn’t. ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
Here, at the end of all things, Brother Death takes our hand and leads us towards the light at the end of the tunnel of the tomb … and the light … is the glorious light of Eternity’s Sunrise, or the smoldering glow of Mount Doom.
“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
“Twilight And Shadow”, Howard Shore, from “Lord Of The Rings”
Acouple of posts ago I posted a long article on the moral controversy surrounding the subject apostolic exhortation by Pope Francis. This post is another where the writer has articulately pointed out the significant moral equivalencies between the Pope’s memo and the Nazi program of extermination – the final Solution.
Go there. or read it here, or if you roll that way, just ignore it, along with abortion and euthanasia and all the other nice progressive amoral planks of our modern progressive society. Your call.
According to AL, a conscience may “recognize that a a given situation does not correspond objectively to the demands of the Gospel” but sees “with a certain moral security … what for now is the most generous response”.
Let us examine how this moral principle might apply in situations of organised and industrialised genocide. A man involved in the extermination of Jewry, for example … if he were to decline to collaborate in any more murders, not only might he be subjected to discriminatory responses, but his family also might suffer grievously. His marriage might suffer!
Is he, perhaps, required by the Bergoglian moral principle of “what is for now the most generous response” to try, gradually so as not to be noticed, to reduce the number of Jews whom he kills each day? Or might Bergoglianism mean that he should do his very best to see that they die less painfully? Or should he attempt, again without drawing too much attention to himself, so to work the system that in three months time he gets transferred to duties which involve him less directly in extermination … like, for example, harmlessly organising the train schedules?
I am aware that my questions lay me wide open to an accusation that I am either an unbalanced crank in making an equivalence between well-mannered habitual adultery among the nice, if rather gleefully rutting, German middle-classes, and genocide; or ‘antisemitic’ for illustrating a moral priple by talking so calmly about something as vile as what Nazi Germany did to the Jews.
It is my view that such an accusation by such an interlocutor would in fact amount to an admission that Adultery is not really sinful … that it is, well, perhaps not technically in accordance, quite, with the book of rules, but it is not really wrong. Cardinal Coccopalmerio has in fact said something rather like this.
It is also my view that a mortal sin is a mortal sin is a mortal sin is a mortal sin. And Mortal Sin is the area into which, like several fair-sized and unstable bulls in a very tiny china shop, Bergoglio and his cronies have strayed. And by sanctioning what Fr Aidan Nichols has neatly called “tolerated concubinage”, I do not think they will bring a single murdered Jew back to life or even save a single victim in future genocides. In fact, quite the contrary. Do we save lives … or marriages … by chipping away at the Decalogue, or by shoring it up when it comes under threat?
A person, you tell me, may well know a rule yet be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently. So …. if this does not also apply within genocidal situations, where can it apply?
A person’s long involvement, you tell me, in sinful actions may well so habituate him to those actions that the subjective sinfulness, as AL claims, is radically diminished … yes; I happen to agree with you there, and, like all confessors, I am mindful of this when I sit with my ear against the grill. But you won’t forget, will you, that somebody who has been killing Jews for a couple of years might also well be in such a condition. And the tribunals which judged War Criminals after 1945 don’t seem to have taken this laudable casuistic principle into their jurisprudence.
Bergoglio’s ‘jesuitical’ campaign to circumvent Veritatis splendorparagraph 80, as well as Familiaris consortio, is both a moral and an ecclesial disaster. If Bergoglian ‘moral principles’ prevail, then, as Fr Aidan Nichols has accurately put it, “no area of Christian morality can remain unscathed“.
“Twilight And Shadow”, Howard Shore, from “Lord Of The Rings”
… ‘T was on a May-day of the far old year Seventeen hundred eighty, that there fell Over the bloom and sweet life of the Spring, Over the fresh earth and the heaven of noon, A horror of great darkness, like the night In day of which the Norland sagas tell,–
The Twilight of the Gods. The low-hung sky Was black with ominous clouds, save where its rim Was fringed with a dull glow, like that which climbs The crater’s sides from the red hell below.
Birds ceased to sing, and all the barn-yard fowls Roosted; the cattle at the pasture bars Lowed, and looked homeward; bats on leathern wings Flitted abroad; the sounds of labor died;
Men prayed, and women wept; all ears grew sharp To hear the doom-blast of the trumpet shatter The black sky, that the dreadful face of Christ Might look from the rent clouds, not as he looked A loving guest at Bethany, but stern As Justice and inexorable Law.
Meanwhile in the old State House, dim as ghosts, Sat the lawgivers of Connecticut, Trembling beneath their legislative robes. ‘It is the Lord’s Great Day! Let us adjourn,’ Some said; and then, as if with one accord, All eyes were turned to Abraham Davenport. He rose, slow cleaving with his steady voice The intolerable hush.
‘This well may be The Day of Judgment which the world awaits; But be it so or not, I only know My present duty, and my Lord’s command To occupy till He come. So at the post Where He hath set me in His providence, I choose, for one, to meet Him face to face,– No faithless servant frightened from my task, But ready when the Lord of the harvest calls; And therefore, with all reverence, I would say, Let God do His work, we will see to ours.
Bring in the candles.’ And they brought them in. …
from the poem “Abraham Davenport” – by John Greenleaf Whittier
Once upon a time a Man existed, of a sort to do the right regardless of the cost, who understood the hierarchy of evil and of good and the destiny to which we all are tending, lost, regardless of our facile words, and opinions, and dissimulation, and pretense.
Once upon a time we knowingly fought the long defeat in stoic patience waiting for the return of the King.
Now all is clowns and jokers, left and right, and none conceive of something greater than themselves.
empty oneself of every trace of belief in one’s “goodness”
I posted a couple of days ago about the serious shortage of “peace of mind” in our culture. It’s election time and idiots are thick on the ground and loud. I must be more than a little nuts to think about these things in the context of a Canadian election campaign.
We move through life with a lurking certainty that all is not well and waiting for the other shoe to drop, the axe to fall, with bated breath. A sense of foreboding has deepened across our land … Spiritually, socially, politically, economically, the fierce consequences of our choices as a nation whirl around us and threaten us with catastrophe.
The storm clouds gather; the thunder rumbles; the darkness descends. While the tempest approaches, many are asleep. Others sense danger in the air but are uncertain of its source and scope. This all sounds like the intro video for a new online game “Storm Clouds Gather!” BWAHHAHAHAhaha!
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
But where is this much desired peace of mind we are all looking for, this holy grail of the psychologists and pharmaceutical companies and advertisers? We are agitated and disturbed because we are trying, without much success, to resolve everything, every issue, by ourselves, for ourselves, with no thought to the prevalence of our passions and appetites, our shortcomings and failings, our faults and flaws. It is like trying to carve a master work with a broken knife, or trying to see a reflection in a lake that is full of ripples and waves.
In addition we are continually at war with enemies whose existence we continue to deny regardless of the evidence and influence which they present, namely cosmic powers of dark and evil, not merely human enemies. We expect peace according to the reasoning of the world and with the motivations and desires that align well with the current cultural mentality that surrounds us. If everything is going well, and we are not experiencing any annoyances, any discomfort, and our material desires are satisfied, then it is certain that we will know peace. And yet it is not so, no peace, or no peace for long, our peace is only of a short duration at best.
“I am old, Gandalf. I don’t look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts. Well-preserved indeed! Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can’t be right. I need a change, or something.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
And so we are faced with a situation continuously anticipating peace, but never quite arriving at our destination. Maybe others can assure us, eh? Harper, Trudeau, and Mulcair. Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. The Three Stooges. The Three Horsemen of the 21st Century Apocalypse. Our own human resources and wisdom, with their expectations, precautions reservations and assurances of all sorts certainly do not suffice.
The most common reason for which we loose our peace of mind is fear, caused by situations which touch us personally, and in which we feel threatened, apprehensions in the face of present or future difficulties imagined or real, fear of lacking something important or loosing something we already have or failing in an enterprise. These fears are myriad and touch every single aspect of our lives.
The Return Of The King, LOTR
“I don’t like anything here at all.” said Frodo, “step or stone, breath or bone. Earth, air and water all seem accursed. But so our path is laid.”
“Yes, that’s so,” said Sam, “And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo, adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say.
But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on, and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same; like old Mr Bilbo.
But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into?”
“I wonder,” said Frodo, “But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
In every case these fears concern a good which is variable, material goods, money, health, power, or goods that we desire, or consider necessary, and are afraid to lose, or not acquire, or which we lack. This all conspires to rob us of our peace, the restlessness so generated by FUD causes us to loose any trace of peace we may have gathered to ourselves.
Who can guarantee him or herself the assured possession of any kind of good, whatever it may be, whatever it’s nature. Man is never assured of anything, and everything which he holds in his or her hands can easily slip from one’s grasp from one day to the next; there is no guarantee on which anyone can count absolutely except the continued existence of an eternal war against evil.
And mark my words, we are truly in it, this daily war against evil, every day, and every way, every decision, every “choice”, or even not making a decision or a choice.
“The enemy? His sense of duty was no less than yours, I deem. You wonder what his name is, where he came from. And if he was really evil at heart. What lies or threats led him on this long march from home. If he would not rather have stayed there in peace. (This) War will make corpses of us all.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
We might even say that the surest way to loose one’s peace of mind is precisely to try to assure one’s own life solely with the aid of human industry, personal assets, personal projects and decisions or by relying on someone else. Because of FUD, and the “sum of all fears” WE end up with our current choice, to decide who will decide for us, an old Charlatan, a younger Poseur, or a raving Lunatic. This is truly the definition of insanity, revisiting the failed dance of political cycles yet again in the hopes that we might get a good result this time. We will never find a solution to all our fears and anxieties by continuously ransacking the outhouse basement for a missing answer. We should sell the outhouse to the Socialists, sell the midden to the Conservatives and move onward to the call of the horns, higher up and further in, across the ravaged landscape of our dreams to the green fields beyond and a quick sunrise.
“PIPPIN: I didn’t think it would end this way.
GANDALF: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.
PIPPIN: What? Gandalf? See what?
GANDALF: White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.