Pen as Sword - Social Commentary, The Inner Struggle

Charity, Justice and Purgatory …

“Eternity’s Sunrise”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Eternity’s Sunrise”, (2000)

Harvest Time 2018

Harvest Time 2018

Days finally starting to turn cool, got down to about 5 degrees last night. Welcome relief from the 30 to 40 degree days of a couple of weeks ago. Harvest is getting into full swing around this part of the Shire. No complaints yet from anyone about a “bad year”. We can always hope, right?

Thanking God today, for time, for life, for insight, more opportunities for repentance, remorse and regret, atonement and perhaps an efficacious do-over with each new day, and in the end, absent complete reparation at the time of death, thanking God for merciful Purgatory and eternity of reparation, in hope, to look forward to. Ad Aeternitatum …

Sincerely hoping the prayers of others might have some transferable benefit in this economy of prayer and suffering. Pray for the dead and the dead will pray for you. Pray for your enemies and those who make your life miserable. Forgive, forgive, forgive, I have read somewhere that sins forgiven in this life are not held to one’s account in the particular and in the final judgement. Sincerely hoping that this memory is not simply the wishful thinking of a lost soul.

That is what one would do, should do,  as a charitable effort towards saving the souls of our neighbors, especially the ones we don’t really like. That is the effort of making one’s actions fit the idea of “fraternal charity”. Hoping that a rising tide of prayer lifts all souls, not only the praying, but the prayed for as well, in this great economy of prayer and suffering.

Love your enemies

What benefit is there to me of treating well those who treat me well? Of what spiritual utility is reciprocity of self love and self regard?

As Christ says, you have already had your reward for that. Everyone does that, there is nothing special or particularly meritorious about returning good will for good will.

But, the rubber hits the road when we start to put into practice the idea of loving our neighbor, even our neighbor who is our enemy. By demonstrating it in the reality of our daily conduct, the logical application of the moral idea, we live Truth as we find it in the Gospels..

I can’t speak well to history but in this day and age it appears that there are two paths. The first is the difficult path on which our actions follow on from and derive from our ideas, no matter how distasteful or difficult that may be. That path is known as the path of principal, that path which Albert J. Knock referred to in his paper on the “remnant” and the “masses”..

Ideology on the nature preserve. ideology needs protection to survive.

The other way is the more common or easy way in that we choose our ideas, our friends, our activities, and so on to cast ourselves in the best possible light and we espouse those ideas and beliefs which best make our actions out to be reasonable. Virtue signalling as a national Mantra …

This choice is embracing ideology instead of reality and truth, instead of the provable facts of daily existence. While the generally accepted rule of social conduct today is “all right minded people know this to be true” there is still the other path, the hard path, and it will not be denied no matter how loud the opposition gets.

“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)

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Fulton Sheen said: 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. 167). Ignatius Press.

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Praying Together

Praying Together

As I have remarked previously, real food for deep thought here, food to nourish consideration of love of neighbor as a real, active, concrete, pursuit rather than merely sterile words as part of some ritual.

As between two people in a marriage, between spouses, so also between siblings, and between children and parents, and even between friends and acquaintances, and neighbors, 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 on their behalf 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 neighbors, and in so doing perhaps atone and make reparation for the multitude of sins of his and their past. So how does this apply to “Loving One’s Neighbor”, “Loving One’s Neighbor as One Loves Oneself”?

Working Together

Our self love, that love with which we regard ourselves and all our actions and thoughts is a very concrete love. It includes all our peculiarities, needs, tastes, feelings, beliefs and habits.

We are geniuses at rationalizing our own way of thinking, and in making excuses for our many faults and failings. We each have a vast sea of sympathy and understanding for our self in all these areas. And we should flood the sins of our neighbor with that vast sea of sympathy and patience and understanding.

This is My commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13, 34 – 15, 12).

But we seem to continue, mired in our self love to the exclusion of all else, and that self love expresses itself in outrage about the conduct and sayings of others, our neighbors.

Reflecting on the writings of Robert Cardinal Sarah, it is easy to see that our modern polite media society drifts from moral rebellion to sentimental rebellion and back to moral rebellion, virtue signalling like a bitter wind on a winter afternoon, striving, like Sisyphus, desperately, ceaselessly, climbing the mountain, always pushing the rock of their discontent and outrage.

Our media, Facebook, Twitter culture demands its rebellion, its hatred, in the moment, of whatever it  self-centeredly defines as unjust and unfair today.

This is the howler jungle, the parrot jungle, screeching its outrage, proud of its correct opinions, which are, in reality, the most pretentious pompous ideas we could ever find, baseless and founded in emotion and self love.

Cynical and shameless, it despicably revels in its dislikes. “I don’t care about the facts, Joe, I just want to have a pleasant hate with my friends”. Our modern polite existence is a propped-up life built entirely on noise, artificiality, and the tragic rejection of Truth.

What is Truth? Well, it depends … From revolutions to conquests, from ideologies to political battles, from our frantic crusade for “equality” to our pathological fixation on “progress”, silence is impossible.

The more noise, the more we “run in circles, scream and shout”, the less the likelyhood that we or especially others will notice what is wrong with us, our failings, our sins, our deviance.

And even worse, our “transparent” societies are all in hot pursuit of anonymity in noise, with an implacable hatred of silence, which we regard as contemptible, a backward primitive defeat, “What have you got to say to that?” “What do you think of that?” “There! that will shut up your jabber!” Let the bright light of noise shine on everything, just as long as it doesn’t shine on my own darkness, my own crimes, my own sins.

Waiting On The Night To Fall”, by “Casting Crowns”, from the album “Thrive” (2014)

Charles Pierre Baudelaire,  April 9, 1821 – August 31, 1867 was a French poet who also produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe. His most famous work, a book of lyric poetry titled Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), expresses the changing nature of beauty in modern, industrializing Paris during the 19th century.

Baudelaire’s highly original style of prose-poetry influenced a whole generation of poets including Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud and Stéphane Mallarmé, among many others. He is credited with coining the term “modernity” (modernité) to designate the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis, and art’s responsibility to capture that experience.

During Baudelaire’s day there was then perhaps even more scandal and turmoil in the Catholic Church than we now see. Starting with the French Revolution and it’s bloody trail of excess, the massacre of the Vendee, and up to Pius IX’s “Syllabus of Errors,” which was often held up to ridicule as an absurd statement of the church’s stand against the modern world and progress. The Syllabus is certainly comprehensible against the reality of these threats from modernity. In hindsight doesn’t theSyllabus of Errors seem prophetic in the light of secular modernism realized in our society of today.

My dear departed mother often remarked of my Atheist sister that she was “deeply spiritual”, also in commenting on her own sister, my Wiccan Priestess Auntie, that she was a “wonderful spiritual person, so good”. Baudelaire, in one of his most famous aphorisms says: “Everyone believes in God but no one loves Him, no one believes in Satan, but his smell is everywhere“.

My mother, in her short 92 years on this earth, went from devout Christian to total non-belief … dragged down by Vatican II, Church Scandal and personal tragedy … refused the counsel of a priest and extreme unction, the last rites on her deathbed. And her prodigal son storms heaven’s gates daily on behalf of the lost sheep of his family, in hope against hope that the sinners will find themselves saved on Judgment Day, as the faithful never ceased to pour out prayers on their behalf for their salvation.

This is the tenor of our times; evil, evil everywhere and ne’er a drop of good … love of self, love of our plan, our way, begetting a never ending, ever strengthening, downward spiral of deviance and rationalization of ever greater excesses, no escape from the mirror of our self regard without the grace of the Divine Will and the Word..

Why, when I am so conscious of my own misery and sins, my utter failure to be the creature God willed and wills me to be, without Whom and without Whose gratuitous gifts I am all misery do I have so much room left over in my soul to look with cynicism and censure upon the sins and failings of my fellow man, my neighbor who God wills me to love as myself?

There is a confusion in our day … modernity has conflated poverty and misery as if these two states are one and the same. They are not … misery seems to be the most common state of those who are the least afflicted with poverty. Attachment and ownership and the failure to find satisfaction in these seem to be at the root of misery

From Robert Cardinal Sarah, his commentary regarding noise … “The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise”

327. Unless we seek to suppress all the superficial aspects of our lives, we will never be united to God. By detaching ourselves from everything superfluous, we enter little by little into a form of silence. Throughout her life, Mother Teresa sought to live in great poverty so as to find God better in silence. Seeking God in her heart was the only wealth she had. She could spend hours before the Blessed Sacrament without uttering a single word. The nun drew her poverty from the humility of God. The Father possesses nothing, and Mother Teresa wanted to imitate him. She asked that her sisters be absolutely and sincerely detached from all material goods.

Sarah, Robert Cardinal. The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise (Para 327). Ignatius Press.

To paraphrase a famous hymn … “My life flows on in endless noise about earth’s lamentation, I catch the faint, though far-off hymn that hails a new creation.”  Yes, the far off hymn … that hails a new creation … the undiscovered country … beyond my self love and attachment to all the “stuff” to which I am so enamored … to leave the self behind and all the misery of stuff … to embrace the poverty and silence of God, impossible without His gift of grace … Aye, there’s the rub.

Maybe this blog is just part of all the noise? I have to consider that thought some more … what am I trying to achieve with this scribbling. I have changed quite a bit from when I started this work back in 2014.

Back then I was consumed with what was wrong with everything and everyone else, and how it all could be fixed, if only … pick my bright idea of the moment … Wow, watch me string all these disconnected events together … looking at them from the “right” perspective, look at what they reveal about motives and intent of the faceless ones … so in love with my cleverness …

so much self love … so little “fraternal charity” …

Cheers

Joe

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

All Souls, All Men and Women Everywhere …

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

November is the month of all souls …  a month dedicated to prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. There is a longstanding tradition in the Catholic Church, dating back more than a 1000 years and rooted in Jewish tradition going back even further to pray for the souls of the deceased.

How did this tradition come about and why is it still important today?  This is a good time to remember some words of wisdom about souls … about the Pope and the Catholic Church … and the rest of us … and loving one’s enemies …

Joseph Ratzinger - Pope Benedict XVI

Joseph Ratzinger – Pope Benedict XVI

“… The more vigorously the primacy was displayed, the more the question came up about the extent and and limits of [papal] authority, which of course, as such, had never been considered.

After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council. Eventually, the idea of the givenness of the liturgy, the fact that one cannot do with it what one will, faded from the public consciousness of the West.

In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word.

The pope’s authority is bound to the Tradition of faith. … The authority of the pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition.”
Joseph Ratzinger in The Spirit of the Liturgy

so the Pope is not the “Top Dog” he is simply another man and what makes him human would be a soul …

Hilaire Belloc - by Emil Otto ('E.O.') HoppÈ, vintage bromide print, 1915

Hilaire Belloc – by Emil Otto (‘E.O.’) HoppÈ, vintage bromide print, 1915

The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine—but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.”
-Hilaire Belloc

… and the knavish imbeciles would be souls …

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A commentary on “Government” and “the Masses” … (I suppose that would be us? All souls, every one of us.)

Albert Jay Nock wrote in Our Enemy The State”  – Everyone knows that the State claims and exercises [a] monopoly of crime … and that it makes this monopoly as strict as it can. It forbids private murder, but itself organizes murder on a colossal scale. It punishes private theft, but itself lays unscrupulous hands on anything it wants, whether the property of citizen or of alien.

Alfred Jay Nock

Alfred Jay Nock

There is, for example, no human right, natural or Constitutional, that we have not seen nullified by the United States Government. Of all the crimes that are committed for gain or revenge, there is not one that we have not seen it commit – murder, mayhem, arson, robbery, fraud, criminal collusion and connivance.”   Albert Jay Nock, from Our Enemy, the State

But “Government” is not a monolithic entity, it is rather composed of a multitude of little individuals all more or less “doing their duty” and they are All Souls

And in another quote from an article published in Atlantic Monthly in 1936, Albert Jay Nock opines on the qualities of the common man, the masses as he calls them  …  about “the masses“:

… In the year of King Uzziah’s death, about 740 B.C., the Lord commissioned the prophet Isaiah to go out and warn the people of the wrath to come. “Tell them what a worthless lot they are.” He said, “Tell them what is wrong, and why and what is going to happen unless they have a change of heart and straighten up. Don’t mince matters. Make it clear that they are positively down to their last chance. Give it to them good and strong and keep on giving it to them.

Antonio Balestra - The Prophet Isaiah

Antonio Balestra (1666-1740) – The Prophet Isaiah

I suppose perhaps I ought to tell you,” He added, “that it won’t do any good. The official class and their intelligentsia will turn up their noses at you and the masses will not even listen. They will all keep on in their own ways until they carry everything down to destruction, and you will probably be lucky if you get out with your life.” 

Isaiah had been very willing to take on the job – in fact, he had asked for it – but the prospect put a new face on the situation. It raised the obvious question: Why, if all that were so – if the enterprise were to be a failure from the start – was there any sense in starting it? “Ah,” the Lord said, “you do not get the point.

All Saints ...

All Saints …

There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it.”

Apparently, then, if the Lord’s word is good for anything – I do not offer any opinion about that, – the only element in Judean society that was particularly worth bothering about was the Remnant. Isaiah seems finally to have got it through his head that this was the case; that nothing was to be expected from the masses, but that if anything substantial were ever to be done in Judea, the Remnant would have to do it.

A woman lights a candle on the grave of her relative before praying at a cemetery during the observance of All Souls Day in Dhaka, Bangladesh November 2, 2016. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

This is a very striking and suggestive idea; but before going on to explore it, we need to be quite clear about our terms. What do we mean by the masses, and what by the Remnant? As the word masses is commonly used, it suggests agglomerations of poor and underprivileged people, labouring people, proletarians, and it means nothing like that; it means simply the majority.

The mass-man is one who has neither the force of intellect to apprehend the principles issuing in what we know as the humane life, nor the force of character to adhere to those principles steadily and strictly as laws of conduct; and because such people make up the great and overwhelming majority of mankind, they are called collectively the masses.

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. …”

and the Masses and the Remnant both are All Souls …

Now, I have always both enjoyed Albert Jay Nock’s piece and at the same time have been troubled by it, because we are ALL souls, and I just don’t believe that the Lord writes folks off because they don’t meet some transient human standard of character, ability, and discernment.

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

Rex Murphy

Rex Murphy

Here in Canada we are used to being routinely insulted and dismissed by our “betters” in high office and we are routinely expected to obsequiously kowtow and bow and scrape  and generally just be nice when treated in this way, after all,  we are just “the masses” and Canadian masses at that, eh?

Lately we were all ridiculed in public by  our new Governor General,  Julie Payette, (appointed by the drama coach and in office for about a month now), and all courtesy of her  bright big brain persona and her personal religious beliefs namely Atheism and Scientism.

Rex Murphy reports in the National Post  as follows: “Delight in one’s own intellectual capacity is a delusion both frequent and foolish (ouch!), and the desire to have others share in that rapture is almost always a disappointment.

That we are all partisans for our own opinions is of course a truism, as is the consideration that opinions, particularly political ones, many times follow just as much from temperament as from reason.

Governor General Julie Payette, by Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press

Governor General Julie Payette, by Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press

There is no Ideal Reasoner, and the truth of some questions is always a quarry and never a capture. That is why our finest sages, present and past, have always counseled against certitude, and cautioned that when we are most certain of something is precisely the time we should go over our sums.

Our recently minted Governor General, in one of her inaugural appearances, has been very quick off the mark to make her declarative presence known.

She gave a talk at a science conference this week, a speech notable for its confident strength of assertion and readiness to pronounce determinatively on matters large and trivial, and which was unfortunately inflected with a tone of condescension that will do little to buttress the appeal of the mainly ceremonial office she now inhabits.”

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Just in passing, I note that in spite of all the fondly held opinions and beliefs regarding the efficacy of science and the silly superstitions surrounding the concept of “God”, I have not heard any reports that NASA and the Brights have yet created life, or anything else, for that matter, in fact they have not even found any signs of life anywhere that their limited talents can take them. Oh yea, we are definitely “the masses” … including all our elected and appointed progressives currently running the asylum.

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As Chris Selley writesand “the chorus of defenders who took to social media on Thursday, including many who are generally very conservative about what a GG should and shouldn’t say. What she said was empirically true, they argued, and what’s more she’s a scientist! Why shouldn’t a scientist, appointed as the Queen’s representative in Ottawa, take the odd jab at the two-thirds of benighted Canadians who believe in God (per Angus Reid in 2015), and the 53 per cent who believe God is “active in this world.” Someone’s gotta tell ‘em, right?”

and we are all souls, no matter what some of us would like to believe …

Plato bust ...

Plato bust …

Now, as Mr. Nock writes, Isaiah’s testimony to the character of the masses has strong collateral support from respectable Gentile authority. Plato lived into the administration of Eubulus, when Athens was at the peak of its jazz-and-paper era, and he speaks of the Athenian masses with all Isaiah’s fervency, even comparing them to a herd of ravenous wild beasts.

Curiously, too, Plato applies Isaiah’s own word remnant to the worthier portion of Athenian society; “there is but a very small remnant,” he says, of those who possess a saving force of intellect and force of character – too small, preciously as to Judea, to be of any avail against the ignorant and vicious preponderance of the masses.

But we are all souls … regardless of our personal beliefs, mere thoughts in the mind of God in the eternal now.

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I wonder what Mr. Plato would think of Julie Payette, or even Drama Coach Justin Trudeau, for that matter? “Ravenous wild beasts”?

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Still more of the quote from Mr. Nock:  “The picture which Isaiah presents of the Judean masses is most unfavorable. In his view, the mass-man – be he high or be he lowly, rich or poor, prince or pauper – gets off very badly. He appears as not only weak-minded and weak-willed, but as by consequence knavish, arrogant, grasping, dissipated, unprincipled, unscrupulous.

The mass-woman also gets off badly, as sharing all the mass-man’s untoward qualities, and contributing a few of her own in the way of vanity and laziness, extravagance and foible. The list of luxury-products that she patronized is interesting;  … in another place, Isaiah even recalls the affectations that we used to know by the name “flapper gait” and the “debutante slouch.”

Alphonse Karr

Alphonse Karr

It may be fair to discount Isaiah’s vivacity a little for prophetic fervour; after all, since his real job was not to convert the masses but to brace and reassure the Remnant, he probably felt that he might lay it on indiscriminately and as thick as he liked – in fact, that he was expected to do so. But even so, the Judean mass-man must have been a most objectionable individual, and the mass-woman utterly odious.”

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plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

Not a pleasant picture at all … hmmmm. and still … all souls

On the other hand we have:

“Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busy-body, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil.

Marcus Aurelius - was Roman emperor from 161 to 180,

Marcus Aurelius – was Roman emperor from 161 to 180,

But I who have seen the nature of the good that it is beautiful, and of the bad that it is ugly, and the nature of him who does wrong, that it is akin to me, not only of the same blood or seed, but that it participates in the same intelligence and the same portion of the divinity, I can neither be injured by any of them, for no one can fix on me what is ugly, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him, For we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth.

To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away.”

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book Two.

all souls

and:

No man is an island, entire of itself. Our lives are involved with one another, through innumerable interactions they are linked together. No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone. The lives of others continually spill over into mine in what I think, say, do , achieve.

And conversely my life spills over into that of others: for better or for worse.So my prayer for another is not something extraneous to that person, something external, not even after death.  In the interconnectedness of Being, my gratitude to the other – my prayer for him – can play a certain part in his purification”

Pope Benedict XVI “Spe Salvi” 

all souls …

I wonder (figuratively speaking of course) which attitude, Justin’s and Julie’s, or Benedicts’s and Marcus Aurelius’s, has a better outcome? Which evolves into a better, more positive, more loving society, a culture of positive rather than negative lenses. 

Cheers

Joe

Tell one person that you love him or her. Forgive the person who insults and ridicules you. All of them.

They are all souls.

 

 

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