The Inner Struggle

Another coat-tails post … rules for life

This is priceless!

I just started glancing through a new book and was so amused by the table of contents that I post it here entirely, for our edification and consideration of how Benedict’s instructions are so refreshingly different from those of our current crop of “thinkers” and “leaders”, our most popular talking heads

… A new 12 step program for our times direct to us from the “Dark Ages” … which appear to have been far more enlightened than we have been led to believe by our “betters” …

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SAINT BENEDICT’S LADDER OF HUMILITY

Step 1: Be afraid –  FEAR OF GOD. Always have the fear of God before your eyes (Ps 36:2) and avoid all thoughtlessness so that you are constantly mindful of everything God has commanded.

Step 2: Don’t be true to yourself – SELF-DENIAL. Do not be in love with your own will, but put into practice that word of the Lord which says: “I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (Jn 6:38).

Step 3: Don’t follow your dreams – OBEDIENCE. For the love of God, be obedient to those in authority over you, imitating the Lord, of whom the apostle says: He became “obedient unto death” (Phil 2:8).

Step 4: Suffer fools gladly – PERSEVERANCE. Be patient in suffering, even when you encounter difficulties and injustice, for Scripture says: “He who endures to the end will be saved” (Mt 10:22).

Step 5: Put your worst foot forward – REPENTANCE. Never hide any of the evil thoughts which arise in your heart or the evils you commit in secret. Instead, reveal them to someone you trust. For Scripture says: “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him” (Ps 37:5).

Step 6: Be someone’s doormat – SERENITY. When ill treatment comes your way, try to accept it. Learn to be content with the lowliest and worst of everything, and in all that is demanded of you.

Step 7: Have a poor self-image – SELF-ABASEMENT. Believe in your heart that you are an unworthy servant of God, humbling yourself and saying with the Prophet: “I am a worm, and no man; scorned by men, and despised by the people” (Ps 22: 6).

Step 8: Think inside the box – PRUDENCE. Only do what is lawful, and follow the example of your elders.

Step 9: Don’t speak up – SILENCE. Only speak when you are spoken to, for Scripture says, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking” (Prov 10:19).

Step 10: Laughter is not the best medicine – DIGNITY. Do not be too quick to laugh, for it is written: “A fool raises his voice when he laughs” (Sir 21:20).

Step 11: Be unassertive – DISCRETION. If you must speak, do so gently, humbly, earnestly, and quietly, with few and sensible words; for it is written: “The wise man is known by the fewness of his words.”

Step 12: Keep your chin down – REVERENCE. Wherever you go, bow your head in prayer, remembering the words of the publican: “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Lk 18:13).

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Augustine Wetta,  Humility Rules: Saint Benedict’s Twelve-Step Guide to Genuine Self-Esteem. Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.

Cheers

Joe

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The Inner Struggle

Penitence as a way of life …

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

I started this yesterday and posted the beginning  at the end of yesterday’s post. Nothing here is “Real Joe”, just a brief quote from “Divine Intimacy” and a rather long, but extremely important and moving excerpt from Father John A. Kane’s “How To Make A Good Confession”.

Gentle Reader’s mileage may vary if you are not in this head-space … I wouldn’t have given this much thought a few years ago, but when one is ready, then it speaks.

“… This is a sign of real fidelity, to persevere even in the darkest moments, when all seems lost, and when a friend, instead of triumphing, is reduced to defeat and profound humiliation.

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D

It is easy to be faithful to God when everything goes smoothly, when His cause triumphs; but to be equally faithful in the hour of darkness, when, for a time, He permits evil to get the upper hand, when everything that is good and holy seems to be swept away and irrevocably lost — this is hard, but it is the most authentic proof of real love. (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. from the book “Divine Intimacy” meditations on the interior life for every day of the liturgical year.pp 400).

And from Fr. John A. Kane:

“Repentance (from the Greek: Metanoia) is the mind itself changed and transformed. It is the supernatural conquering the natural. It is the assumption of the spirit of Christ according to the words of St. Paul: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”. (Phil. 2:5)  Thus it is evident that penitence, in its entirety, is perennial.

It has not always the same quality, however. It assumes different phases, and in this respect it is like a lifelong grief. The first outbreak of sorrow will subside. The wilderness of desolation will bloom again with fragrant flowers. In resignation to the divine will, the soul will be flooded with light, peace, and joy. Then it will glory in the consciousness that it is suffering with Christ.

Fr. John A. Kane

Fr. John A. Kane, 1912 – 1962

Its sorrow is now more abiding; it has taken root in the very depths of the soul’s consciousness; it clings to the soul far more tenaciously than the first convulsive paroxysm of grief. Without any external evidence, sorrow has silently transfigured the soul’s life, uniting it more fully, more consciously with its God. A calm and permanent sorrow, which at first terrorized the soul, now lovingly embraces it and gradually sinks into its extreme depths, while externally there may have been no sign of its existence.

Penitence acts likewise. The initial expression of grief will cease; the tears will by degrees diminish; the would inflicted by sin will gradually close. The first instinctive feelings of disappointment with self, loathing, and remorse will quiet down and become more reasonable. But the awful realization of the soul’s spiritual state, the one all-absorbing thought of the horror of sin, will be more vivid, immeasurably truer, and will assume a more disciplined form.

And as the interior spirit of repentance grows and at the same time becomes calmer, gentler, and more enlightened, the sense of the meaning of sin will intensify, and the thought of God’s mercy to sinners will rouse the soul’s hope and dispel the mists and shadows of that first anguish of somewhat unrealistic sorrow and remorse. The soul’s powers, thus renewed, will now live their life in the eternal sunshine of the mercy and love of God.

Peter Paul Rubens - Vision of Ezekiel

Peter Paul Rubens – Vision of Ezekiel

To the superficial observer, repentance may then appear to have ceased. It has, however, only sunk deeper into the soul. It is invisible because it has rooted itself in the soul’s innermost being. Its very hiddenness robs it of all external assertiveness. It has thoroughly intermingled with the soul’s deepest source of life, like food completely assimilated by the body.

It has made the soul far more responsive to grace; it has sensitized the soul’s faculties; it has silently and secretly developed the soul’s realization of God’s most wondrous prerogative: mercy;  it has bound the soul irrevocably to Christ and revived the soul’s adoption by Him who “desires not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Cf. Ezek. 33:11) thus it has become the impetus of the soul’s advancement in virtue, the inspiration of its power for good, and its daily shield in its struggle for eternal life.

The Apostle Matthew and Angel (Rembrandt, 1661)

The Apostle Matthew and Angel (Rembrandt, 1661)

The soul now serves God more freely and more lovingly because it realizes the contrast between its past sinfulness and its present holiness, and the marvelous way in which the mercy of God has affected the change. This perennial penitential state, because of its hidden and profound depth, is all the more real. It is a creature of intelligence and calm confidence, not of blind instinct and selfish sorrow for sin. It transcends the natural because it is born of faith.  A pious legend states that even to the day of his martyrdom, St. Peter, whenever he heard the crowing of the cock, wept anew.

The mighty flood of sorrow still flowed that broke forth within him when, on the night of his denial, he went out and wept bitterly (Matt. 26:75). In his epistles, penitence is not mentioned. But no other letters are more replete with soul stirring pleas for humility, watchfulness, and fear.

St. Peter

St. Peter

“Be ye subject therefore,” he says, “to every human creature for God’s sake.” (1 Pet. 2:13)  In like manner, ye young men, be subject to the ancients. … Insinuate humility one to another, for God resisteth the proud, but to the humble He giveth grace. Be you humbled, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in the time of visitation, casting all your care upon him, for He hath care of you. Be sober and watch, because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Pet. 5:5-8) “Be prudent therefore, and watch in prayers.” (1 Pet. 4:7) “Fear God.” (1 Pet 2:17) “Converse in fear during the time of your sojourning here.”

St. Paul’s letters, on the contrary, are striking for their tone of repentance. The great apostle cannot forget the sins of his youth. “I am,” he says, “the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.” (1 Cor. 15:9)

Saint Paul The Apostle, probably by Valentin de Boulogne

Saint Paul The Apostle, probably by Valentin de Boulogne

“A faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief. But for this cause I have obtained mercy, that in me first Christ Jesus might show forth all patience, for the information of them that shall believe in Him unto life everlasting.” (1 Tim. 1:15-16)

Penitence deserving the name, then, is not a mere passing act but a permanent state — a supernatural sorrow not fitfully but continually welling up within us, a condition of soul lasting until death. At no stage of the spiritual life may we dispense with it. It is necessary for the one who has advanced in virtue, as well as for the hardened sinner.

King David Playing the Harp - Gerard van Honthorst

King David Playing the Harp – Gerard van Honthorst

We are reminded of this in Confession. When slight imperfections form the subject matter of our accusation, the priest may well ask us to recall, in a general way, some former mortal sins, if any, or other venial sins, and to include them in our act of contrition. This is done to enliven our sense of sin and to increase our repentance.

Wonderfully retentive is the sinner’s memory. The reason is that the remembrance of past guilt and of God’s grace, which raised the sinner from spiritual death to spiritual life, can coexist in the soul.

God’s own eternity seems to be stamped upon the sinner’s conscience, that he may not be without fear for forgiven sin, that the abiding knowledge of former sin and the punishment thereof may, all his days, wring from him the wail that will finally remove the last vestige of both sin and punishment. “Wash me yet more from my iniquities and cleanse me from my sin.” (Ps. 50.4  Ps, 51:2)

St John the Apostle

St John the Apostle – Pieter Paul RUBENS – Flemish (Siegen 1577-1640 Antwerp) – ca. 1611 / Prado Madrid

As in the physical order, there is no light without its shadow, so , in the moral order, although the light of grace illumines the soul, the dim reflection of the hated past still remains.

The God who assumed our flesh so that sinners might “have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)  the God of infinite compassion who came “to seek and to save that which was lost,” (Luke 19:10) would have us ever reflect on our past sinfulness — not to weaken our confidence in His unspeakable mercy and to fill us with despair, but to enliven our sorrow and to strengthen our love of Him, so that “where sin abounded, grace might more abound.” (Cf. Rom. 5:20)

The habitual thought of former sin will invigorate present repentance. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) True self knowledge will beget “the sorrow that is according to God,” which “worketh penance steadfast unto salvation.”

St. Luke The Evangelist - Claude Vignon

St. Luke The Evangelist – Claude Vignon

Thus, the prayer of the publican — “O God, be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13) we can never repeat too often; his humility we can never assimilate too well. The yearning to return to the God whom he had outraged, the conscious recognition of his sin, which convinced him that he was utterly unworthy of pardon, justified him fully in the in the sight of the divine majesty. “I say to you, this man went down into his house justified.” (Luke 18:14)

Realizing that we are sinners, we must have a godly, and thus a deep, humble, sincere, perennial, and efficacious sorrow for our sins, a sorrow that forces us to quit the broad, rough road of sin and, with renewed spiritual strength, to advance in the way of God.

If we evade the stern obligation of repentance, we shall be lost. “Unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3) Sorrow for past sin is the infallible means of avoiding future sin. Penitence is, then, the rock foundation of a virtuous life. We must clothe ourselves with the penitential garb here, if we would escape the terrors of the judgement hereafter. “If Thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities, Lord, who will stand it?” (Ps. 129:3 (RSV = Ps. 130:3)

Cheers

Joe

“If Thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities, Lord, who will stand it?” (Ps. 129:3 (RSV = Ps. 130:3)

 

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The Inner Struggle

Sorrow … Contrition … Repentance … (part 3)

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

Today (of course it will only be today for a little while) is “Ash Wednesday”, the first day of the Catholic season of Lent. Lent is about sorrow, contrition, and repentance. As I read it, the scriptural references are to “conversion”, “repentance”, and “contrition”. 

As one ages (and we all do) the pervasive sense of sin intensifies (for me, at least) and becomes more personal. I find myself having difficulty believing that this all ends well and somehow I can recapture the vitality and spontaneity of youth if only I … (insert your favorite self help program here).

Where in youth one barely noticed sin, age gives an unexpected intensity and poignancy to my consciousness of “the sins of my youth”, as well as the more sophisticated sins of my maturity. That conversion, that realization, that rediscovery of a sense of sin, of how I have diverged, in my self interest and self love, away from the “narrow path” and along my own broad highway.

Heaven or Hell?

Heaven or Hell?

I find I have been too long on the freeway of life, blowing past numerous exits at a high rate of knots.  It is coming time to “put some gravel in my travel” as the song goes. It’s time to start making a good confession.

conversion”, “repentance”, and “contrition” … a recent scripture reading explained the sensitizing of the soul’s faculties to the clear realization of God’s most wondrous prerogative, namely God’s mercy, and the revival of our adoption by Christ who “desires not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Cf. Ezek. 33:11)

and

this realization of mercy becomes the impetus of the soul’s advancement in virtue. the inspiration of its power for good, and its daily shield in its struggle for eternal life“. (John A. Kane, “How To Make A Good Confession”, pp 14)

conversion”, “repentance”, and “contrition” … I am starting to see “conversion” involving a dawning awareness of one’s sinfulness, a coming of age, so to speak, where my soul experiences a dawning and ever intensifying consciousness of one’s preferential option for self worship, self gratification and of “sinning” in the pursuit of pleasure, consolation, satisfaction as ends in and of themselves.

The essence of this “conversion” being the turning of my soul and my faculties from sin towards identification with, and identifying of, the will of God, and a concomitant experience of remorse in understanding the lifelong predilection for self centered thoughts, habits, activities and attachments.

I am discovering that the remorse experience gives rise to “contrition”, which also intensifies with advancing age, experienced as a steady wearing away of the whole “self” centered person.

This is my soul’s ever intensifying awareness of the preponderance of self worship, self gratification, self aggrandizement, and the serious attachment to all things and experiences centered on healing the wounds of my self regard.

My self image to which I find myself inordinately attached … attachment … to all the things of this world, but especially those things and experiences which reinforce my self regard.

The contrition experience gives rise to a desire for repentance, atonement for past sins, a transformation of my mind, an up-welling of the supernatural drowning the natural in an intensifying struggle. How to atone? How to repent?

Repent, atone, by cutting adrift all those elements, all those attachments, which contribute to the healing of the wounds of my self love, the papering over of those ugly wounds inflicted by self worship.

Attachments seem to be a significant part of the framework within which I tend to view “reality” and is it realy real? As I have remarked before, some famous guy once said: “it’s what we don’t know that we don’t know that bites our ass in the end”.

I have great difficulty identifying and isolating attachments. This process has been greatly assisted by my now year long program of fasting … never realized just how much I was attached to food, until I started fasting.

Now it becomes apparent that all attachments hide like this, they hide in plain sight within the normal every day experiences of life until I isolate them by choosing a different direction for my habits, thoughts, actions. It is only in the contrast that I start to recognize the attachments of my life.

Thus conversion, contrition and repentance devolve into an internal discussion about real “reality” and  how attachments seem to be the lens through which I interpret and act upon events and stimuli in my life and relationships … attachments … all the attachments …

So, how am I to move towards being detached from “the things of this world”, the creatures and treasures which I look to for consolation and pleasure when indulging my self gratification and self worship? It appears to me that the first necessary step to understanding reality is to accept and totally embrace the existence of my soul and to adopt, as my natural view of reality, my soul’s view of reality.

I think that, essentially, I have to embrace living in my material shell as a “soul”, as the ghost in the shell. The shell is not the “us”. The shell is just the collection of lenses and sensor systems for the self, but it is not the self.

I, We, the “Us” are occupying the shell and looking at, interacting with, and thinking about the material plane, and the “things of this world”, but as a soul, not as the shell … which is actually what I really am, that ghost in the shell is where that which makes me “I” actually resides, actually exists.

Is all my life no more than one night in a bad hotel? More thinking and more understanding required … until next time … something about about attachment and reality … what is actually important … my lifetime … or the eternal now?

Cheers

Joe

Oh Lord, You have created me for Yourself, to love You and to enjoy You, infinite Good, ineffable Beauty; do not permit me to lose sight of this sublime end toward which I must tend; do not permit me to wander among the wretched satisfactions that vain, feeble creatures can offer me. 

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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

Sorrow … Contrition … Repentance … (part 1)

I Am In thy Hands, O Mary”, Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, Doctor Scott Piper, Sir Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, OP & Sr. Maria Miguel Wright, OPfrom the album “Mater Eucharistiae”, (2013)

I am sorry for the hiatus, but life has become unpleasant and stressful with a series of blows including family in the hospital, IT server crashes in my business, government intervention in the Canadian drug business which threatens us perhaps, and a serious sense of crisis and preoccupation has mitigated against posting lately.

I will get this post out and at this time I am uncertain when the next post will appear. Please forgive this break.

Father John Kane

Father John Kane

There is a wonderful little book by John A. Kane called “How To Make A Good Confession” in which I have recently found tremendous consolation with respect to inner feelings which I have been going through for several years now.

I am going to quote from his writing here:

The end (purpose) of sorrow, both natural and supernatural, is correction, change. Supernatural sorrow must wean the soul from sin and turn it to God; it must, in other words, work repentance, for to repent is to change. The punishment of sin is meant to deter from sin. It is first corrective and then penal.

… Sorrow, therefore, is a divine power when it restrains the soul from sin; in short when it “worketh penance, steadfast unto salvation.” The soul honestly appraising its past sins and their consequences cannot but be deeply touched with a sorrow prolific of perennial penitence. Holy Scripture insists on lifelong repentance.

“Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord” (Ps. 111:1). “With fear and trembling work out your salvation.”(Phil. 2:12). “Be you humbled under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in the time of visitation.” (1 Pet. 5:6). “The sorrow that is according to God worketh penance, steadfast unto salvation.” “Converse in fear during the time of your sojourning here.” (1 Pet. 1:17). “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:14).

“… One thought underlies all these texts; they express one dominant truth. And this momentously significant verity that comes out of them all is the idea of constant repentance.

(continued in part 2)

Cheers

Joe

9And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. 10For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. 11And which of you, if he ask his father bread, will he give him a stone? or a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12Or if he shall ask an egg, will he reach him a scorpion? 13If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask him?  (Luke 11: 9-13)

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The Inner Struggle

Christ … Antichrist … Cold & Winter Storms (part 1)

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

Writing this on Friday morning … thinking about my life … of sin … and self indulgence, the places and times when self sacrifice was not in the ascendance. Lots of food for thought there, lots of decades of self. Lots of reasons for contrition and amendment. When and why did I start to diverge from the spirit of our times?

Outside my head, WOW! What a morning, quite in keeping with my state of mind! It’s cold here and snowing heavily, blowing also, about 6 inches down now and more coming, first snow since November 2017 and the first heavy snow of this winter.

Lots of shoveling now and probably all day, and making sure everything is cleared before folks start coming in, in an hour or so depending on how long it takes them to dig out and get their trucks running.

Finding crosses, suffering and sacrifice in the daily duties of our station in life, where God put us. Finding the will of God in the myriad minutia of the duties of my state in life.

Enough navel gazing for now, I have to start digging out, so I will stop writing for a while.

Wow, that day went fast, 12 hours later and it is still snowing, it’s about -10 degrees Celsius, that’s about 14 degrees Fahrenheit, but it is blowing harder and drifting now. I’m real glad there is no reason to be on the roads tonight or tomorrow. I bet there will be a lot of shoveling tomorrow. It’s a good thing we don’t open our doors until 10:00 AM on Saturdays.

Anyway, … the inner struggle … that’s what I was getting on about in this post. I have noticed that from time to time discussion arises and articles appear and the topic of the “Antichrist” comes up more or less frequently. “Antichrist” seems to be a favorite pejorative amongst certain groups, and it is at least as meaningful and helpful as “knuckledragger” and “Neanderthal” are amongst other groups.

I suppose the clique’s “group think” defines the pejorative favored, with one group seeing things in terms of good and evil and another group seeing things in terms of smart or stupid, the implication always being that “the other” is the bad one or the stupid one. At first blush, my reflexive reaction is “A pox on both your houses!” Upon further reflection I then find myself asking “What would Jesus do?” and then a bit further on “Does this bring me closer to God?”

Whenever the mudslinging starts, whichever gang starts slinging, it seems always to be in the context of some particularly egregious insanity or inanity, proposed or committed, by some other group or some powerful individual who is disagreed with, or some collection of individuals moving the narrative in a direction disruptive of the sacred views espoused by the narrator of the moment.

Alternatively, one specific public figure or another, George Soros, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Justin Trudeau,  Rachel Notley, Pope Francis, Cardinal Kaspar, Vlad Putin, Kim Jong-un, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,  even Barry Obama, … I mean … seriously … pick your favorite target to hate, you get my drift.

There are literally thousands, maybe even millions, of high profile people pontificating about their views, and what is wrong with the world, and what they are going to do about it.

Obama as Satan

Seriously folks … Obama as Satan … what Kool-Aid are you drinking?

When humanity starts to believe that there is no-one in charge, no one responsible for the “strategic” big picture things in life humans are very quick to turn to golden idols and self proclaimed messiahs.

And any self proclaimed messiah who is not our favorite choice receives a rising tide of speculative negative attention depending upon the day, or the tides, or the level of confusion, frequently along the lines of he/she/it must be the Antichrist.

Thomas Cranmer

Thomas Cranmer, 1489 – 1556

This is especially true if that individual is the target of vilification from many directions at once by many disenchanted narrators. These unhappy narrators, narrowly focused on preaching their own gospel, and defending their own position.

These vocal, “important”, narrators who have picked their chosen hill to die on, and are now understandably hungry, highly motivated to convince their followers, their power base, their meal ticket,  of the truth of their gospel.

They need someone to contribute, to “drop the offering in the collection plate”.  And the target demographic is comprised of some group or other or perhaps many groups, perhaps the equivalent of our modern notion of the “low information voter”.

These narrators do a dog pile on the chosen target, perhaps under the assumption that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. For example, along these lines for several centuries now, many Protestant writers and leaders have identified the Roman Catholic Pope as “The Antichrist”.

However that may be, over the centuries many folks have assigned the status of “Antichrist” to any number of other folks who were on their personal dirt list for any reason but mainly for political reasons. Claiming this seems to be nothing more than a desperate “Ad Hominum” attack when they have nothing factual or truthful, that is “substantive truth”, upon which to base their argument.

"What would Jesus do?"

“What would Jesus do?”

It’s all pride and personal ambition. My razor when reading these diatribes is to ask the questions: “What would Jesus do?” and “Does this bring me closer to God?”

I don’t see the Antichrist as an individual, it just doesn’t line up with my current personal  understanding of reality. Yes, there are outliers of evil and standout perpetrators throughout history, and these persons, these figures in history, seem to be fairly evenly distributed amongst all cultures and religions all over the world.

It appears to me that this sort of behaviour, this sort of personal “character” is more attributable to their sheer humanness than to any particular system of beliefs.  But from my point of view, I just don’t see the idea of “Antichrist” as a specific, living, substantial being, that is to say, one individual encompassing all evil and directing the whole thing as an articulated individual with a master plan.

Yes, we believe in Jesus Christ as the Head, in the Christian understanding. Given the obvious vagaries of human free will apparent in the world over time, it seems reasonable that there must then be, necessarily, the “not Christ” … the absence of Christ … the Antichrist.  I think so anyway, the “Antichrist” is the “Not Christ”, the absence of Christ. I think that the “Antichrist” is in effect “the mystical body of Satan”, in a kind of analog of “the Mystical Body of Christ” in the Christian Tradition.

I guess that some explanation might be necessary in understanding of the concept of “The Mystical Body of Christ”, within the context of Roman Catholicism. As most of my readers probably are aware, I am a Roman Catholic. That is the filter through which I understand reality.

My understanding of the Mystical Body of Christ is one of the real existence of a mystical union of all Christians into a spiritual body with Jesus Christ as their head. This belief grows, in our Tradition, from the New Testament and Christianity’s roots in Judaism.

In Christian Scripture, St. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and the Romans both use the image of a body, with a head that is Christ and many bodily members, with many abilities and talents, namely we Christian believers. The belief in the Mystical Body describes the relationship between Christ and Christians, namely the Head and the body of believers. Wow, it’s getting late … gotta go eat to keep body and soul together.

blizzard? by WizKids ...

When does a snow storm become a blizzard?

Well, now it’s tomorrow morning, Saturday, even colder now, still snowing, -21 degrees Celsius, that’s -5.8 Fahrenheit, and it’s blowing hard, driving the new snow into hard packed drifts.

When does a “Snowstorm” become a “Blizzard”? Maybe it’s when it is widespread, maybe the amount of snow, or the temperature, or the wind-speed, or perhaps even the dramatic license of the weather reporters? Who knows really what makes a snow storm into a blizzard.

Talking to customers yesterday and reports that an hour away in some directions they had no snow but three hours to the west everyone there and in between got lots of snow. Whatever … lots more shoveling today I guess, off and on, as circumstances permit and the demands of customers allow.

Well, another day just blew by in a twinkling of my eye. It’s Saturday night, time for bed, it’s -14 degrees Celsius, it’s still blowing and it’s still snowing lightly. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

More to follow on Christ and Antichrist and the spirit of the times …

Cheers

Joe

Putting away the roaring worship of the “Self” in all it’s manifestations … is the first step back towards a sense of sin, remorse, contrition and repentance …

 

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