Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

World Problems and Joy?

A part of the ancient Hadrian’s wall in northern England. Image from: http://catholicexchange.com/peace-and-security

So what does a country boy see out there in the “REAL” world? What are the “world problems” that I think might affect myself, my family and my life here in rural flyover country, what gets on the radar?

I am thinking about peace and conflict, and how I choose to drink at springs of peace or springs of conflict. After yesterday’s outburst of emotion, about observed events which I chose to observe and judge, courtesy of lots of folks with nothing to do but emote and “create content”.

“Wind of the Western Sea” Bill Douglas, from the album “Songs of Earth and Sky”, (1998)

Am I one of those “emoticons in suits”? Well, maybe an emoticon in Levis, and pretty thread bare Levis at that. No suits around here any more – that was all in a previous life, long, long ago. Don’t even have a tie anymore.

It’s 06:55 and the sun is coming up on a cool dawn. With quiet time for second thought, the truth is, there are not really any problems anywhere which directly affect my immediate life … my “real” world is full of beauty, and peace, waiting for room in my soul … if I make the time and make the room to just let it in, if I don’t fill it up with other stuff.

So, I pray for “Purity of Heart”, that purity that goes beyond simple passions and pleasures. Speaking of purity here I am intending to evoke the purity which not only implies an absence of sin but goes much further to invoke the absence of all earthly affections.

I think that is the scriptural sense of “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5,8), and with this Purity of heart, this directing of my entire capacity for affection and attachment towards God alone I may achieve clearer vision of my ultimate goal.

I get glimpses of the target but they are frequently obscured by the up-welling of my passions and self-love and I frequently loose sight of the path, and the world struggles mightily to re-establish dominance in my soul … and I fall … again …

… Prayers to start the day …

O Lord, give me right sentiments about You and grant that I may seek You with a simplicity of heart. My heart says to You, ‘I will seek Your face.’ When my heart seeks You, O Lord, it is Your presence it is seeking. Your home is where You dwell, and where do You dwell, if not in Your temple? My heart is Your temple: teach me how to welcome You there. You are a spirit, and I must adore You in spirit and in truth. Come into my heart, and all the idols shall fall.”

“Now I shall listen to Your voice and learn to long for You and to prepare myself to see You. Blessed are all who see You! And if they do see You, it is not because, while they were on earth, they were poor in spirit, or because they were meek or merciful, or because they mourned or hungered and thirsted after justice, but because they were clean of heart. Humility is good for attaining the kingdom of heaven; meekness is good for possessing the land; tears are good for receiving consolation; hunger and thirst after justice, for being filled; mercy is good for obtaining mercy; but only purity of heart permits us to see You.”

My desire is to see You; what I desire is great, but it is You who tell me to wish for it. Help me to purify my heart, because what I desire to  see is pure but my means of seeing it, impure. Come to me, O God, and purify me by Your grace; purify my heart with Your aid and strength. If I receive You into my heart during this present life, after my death You will admit me into Your presence.” (St. Augustine)

and

“Come, Holy Spirit, speak to my heart; or at least, if You wish to remain silent, may Your very silence speak to me, because without You I am always in danger of following my own errors and confusing them with Your teachings” (St. Bernard)

prayers from : (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 907)

Cheers, and have a blessed and peaceful day …

Joe

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners. Spread the Flame of Love of your Immaculate Heart over all of humanity, now and at the hour of our death, Amen

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Love, Give , and Live …

“Yamanakabushi” performed by Jean-Pierre Rampal & Yuzuko Horigome, from the album “Yamanakabushi: Japanese Melodies”, Vol. 3, (1982)

St. Augustan by Botticelli“The measure of love is to love without measure.” St. Augustine.  The saint who also famously prayed, “Lord, make me chaste (sexually pure) – but not yet!”

Augustine was a radical convert to Christianity! He was born in Tagaste (modern Souk Ahras, Algeria) in 354 and died in Hippo Regius (modern Annaba) in 431.

The Son of so Many Tears!  Augustine’s confessions make interesting reading!  I have cover to covered Confessions 3 times now, each time getting more and more out of it. For me now I strongly feel that Augustine wrote this “letter” to me personally, across the centuries.

Augustine became a great intellectual, a professor of Rhetoric in the city of Milan. He lived in relative luxury and enjoyed a life of sin.  His mother, Monica, was a committed Christian and prayed earnestly for his conversion calling him ‘the son of so many tears’.

One afternoon as he was sitting in his garden he overheard some children singing ‘Take up and read!  Take up and read!’  He became inwardly convinced by the Spirit that he should read the New Testament. He began reading Paul’s letter to the Romans, received powerful revelation of God’s grace in the gospel and was converted.

He then became the most zealous exponent of grace of his era, finally settling in Hippo where he became bishop.

“..Love without measure…” that is without counting the cost and without strings or any expectation of payback or return. In Luke 6:27-38 we read:

“But I say this to you who are listening:Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly. To the man who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek too; to the man who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you. Treat others as you would like them to treat you.

If you love those who love you what thanks can you expect? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks can you expect? For even sinners do that much. and if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount. Instead, love your enemies and do good, and lend without any hope of return. You will have a great reward, and you will be sons of the most high, for He Himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves; a full measure, pressed down and shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.”

Desert Walkempty oneself of every trace of belief in one’s “goodness”.

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The Inner Struggle

Reluctant Fiat …

Amazing day, actually accomplished everything I set out to do without a single crisis. +8 degrees Celsius and the ice is melting everywhere … a far cry from a few days ago when it was -20. Baked Cod and Spinach salad with Balsamic vinaigrette for supper. Sipping a nice 30 year old Port for desert and thinking on embracing God’s plan for us …

All passions, appetites and the temptations to indulge them have one thing in common: they entice us to disregard natural law and resist the Lordship of God in our lives (You ain’t the boss of me!).

The first temptation began with the Great Lie in the garden; the lie that says we can live our best life outside the rules of God, that freedom requires unrestricted autonomy (sound familiar – Anyone? Anyone?  Sorry Ferris). The three temptations we all face, while not the exact same things of course, fall into three classic categories or ways that we resist the Lordship of God in our lives.

First, we are tempted to allow sensual pleasure to occupy the center of our concerns. We focus on eating, drinking, and sex (30 year old Port?). But this is a source of great mischief, for only God can legitimately fill that central position.

Second, we are tempted by power and control. From national tyrants to petty abusers within families and friendships, power is alluring, and of course power corrupts and absolute power … well you know that one, right?

Third, we are tempted to make honour and fame our central pursuit. We indulge the narcissist in each of us. We struggle to raise our own reputation, be seen by everyone, be admired by everyone, be esteemed by everyone.

So reflect on where you are right now. What are you doing in the garden? Who is luring you and how? Are you buying into the Big Lie? Where are you in the desert? How do you stand up to the three great temptations: to sensual pleasure, honor, and power?

Are we reluctant to embrace the FIAT? Are we afraid that God’s plan for us might not be our plan for our self?  We want to do God’s will, but only if we can do it our way?

Augustine’s Confessions” is an interesting starting place for contemplating the FIAT. I first read it as a young man and was not impressed. Later, in my 40’s it was so moving that I felt like he had written it to me personally. Now, re-reading it in my 60’s I get even more out of it and am both amused and sometimes embarrassed by my margin notes from my 40’s. Vanity … all is vanity.

Augustine was the young man who prayed “Lord, make me chaste (sexually pure) – but not yet!” . So how do we approach an absolute surrender to God’s will? How do we shed the “self”?

Cheers

Joe

cropped-sunrise.jpg

 

 

 

Disclaimer for nitpickers: We take pride in being incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, and unfair. We do all of them deliberately

 

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