The Inner Struggle

Peace To Men of “Good Will” … Humility & Good Will

The Beatitudes”, from the album “Biscantorat – The Sound Of The Spirit From Glenstal Abbey” – The Monks of Glenstal Abbey – (2009)

Peace to “Men (and Women) of Good will”. What is this “Good Will” which is the prerequisite to attaining peace? Some translations have it as “Men of Good Will”, others have it as “men with whom He (GOD) is pleased”. It all comes down to the same thing in the end … what is pleasing to GOD is Good Will, so what are we going on about here?

At Bethlehem the angels announced two things: glory to GOD and peace to men; the one corresponds to the other. No one glorifies GOD as much as that little Babe lying on the straw. He alone, being the eternal Word, can give GOD the perfect, infinite praise that is worthy of Him.

And no one more than Jesus, our Savior, brings peace to men; making reparation for sin, He reconciles man the creature with GOD his Creator, and establishes a new covenant between them: the Creator becomes Father and the creature becomes His child.

So how do we understand this in our daily reality? It seems to me obvious that those who obey GOD’s law enjoy peace; observing the divine law they also glorify GOD. The glory of GOD corresponds perfectly to the peace of men and that peace comes only through Jesus, from His grace.

It also seems obvious that we seek in vain for that peace from any other source, from the transient things and creatures of this world which is passing away before our very eyes. If we are lacking in peace in our daily life then it seems inevitable that we are somehow not corresponding with GOD’s will.

We can dress it up in all kinds of ways and look at it from all kinds of angles and blame any number of others but in the end we are only fooling ourselves and the peace we seek remains absent.

Aphorisms

Peace, Rule of Law, and Good Government, are conditions of the desirable life, the desirable society, and we often observe in the world around us that absent any of those three we have nothing but misery, death and destruction.

Our media are full of the bad results of the absence of Peace, Rule of Law, and Good Government, think about “If it bleeds it leads” and other such aphorisms. Remember Aphorisms?

An aphorism is a concise, terse, laconic, and/or memorable expression of a general truth or principle. They are often handed down by tradition from generation to generation.

In many ways, “Peace” and “Good Will” are ideas or concepts, like “Quality”, which are easy to identify when they are right before us but difficult to describe and define, absent the thing in question. References to “Peace” and “Good Will” have become figures of speech like “Sorry”.

Most the time we end up with a mess of generalities while using the modifier “like” rather more than we are comfortable with … “Like, man … you know …”. “Peace” and “Good Will” seem rather to be more a desirable but mythical place than a process involving personal effort and humility on the part of the “person of Good will”.

Snow”, by Kobudo, from the album “Ototabi”  (2013).

It seems to me, observing life around me, and as reported in the media worldwide, that absent humility there is precious little Good Will on the part of anyone alive today. The absence of humility appears to be pretty much a genetic predisposition inherent in every human animal from birth. As in families, there are said to be predispositions to cancer, or to heart disease, or to blond hair, or to alcoholism, or even (heaven forbid) to intelligence or lack of same, so the whole human “family” has a predisposition to Pride, which is of course the opposite of humility.

Saint Thomas Becket, 1117-1170Anyone who actively attempts to cultivate humility is subjected to humiliation all the more, played as a sucker, or a target of ridicule, treated as a scapegoat, and we see this played out throughout history …  for example, which of the two protagonists in the following story was a “man of good will” and which was not?  Dec. 29th is the feast of Saint Thomas Becket, son of Gilbert Becket, was born in Southwark, England, in 1117.

When a youth he was attached to the household of Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, who sent him to Paris and Bologna to study law and he was ordained a deacon. His support of Henry II’s claim to England’s throne led to his appointment as royal chancellor.

He became Archdeacon of Canterbury, then Lord High Chancellor of England; and in 1160, when Archbishop Theobald died, the king insisted on the consecration of St. Thomas in his stead. St. Thomas refused, warning the king that from that hour their friendship would be broken. In the end he yielded, and was consecrated.

The conflict at once broke out; He was the king’s great friend until 1162, when, as the archbishop of Canterbury, he said he changed from being “a patron of play-actors and a follower of hounds, to being a shepherd of souls.” St. Thomas resisted the royal customs, which violated the liberties of the Church and the laws of the realm.

This British Library painting from circa 1200 is the earliest known portrayal of Thomas Becket’s murder in Canterbury Cathedral. (Public Domain)

He and the king clashed over many issues, notably the jurisdiction of ecclesiastical courts. After six years of contention, partly spent in. exile, St. Thomas, with full foresight of martyrdom before him, returned as a good shepherd to his Church.

On the 29th of December, 1170, just as vespers were beginning, four knights broke into the cathedral, crying: “Where is the archbishop? where is the traitor?” The monks fled, and St. Thomas might easily have escaped.

But he advanced, saying: “Here I am—no traitor, but archbishop. What seek you?” “Your life,” they cried. “Gladly do I give it,” was the reply; and bowing his head, the invincible martyr was hacked and hewn till his soul went to God.

Six months later Henry II, submitted to be publicly scourged at the Saint’s shrine, and restored to the Church her full rights. Saint Thomas Becket was also known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury and also Thomas of London.

Frederick William Faber, circa 1860

Fr. Frederick William Faber, circa 1860

“Learn from St. Thomas,” says Father Faber, “to fight the good fight even to the shedding of blood, or, to what men find harder, the shedding of their good name by pouring it out to waste on the earth.”

Dec. 30th, Sunday, is the Feast of the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. I hope you are able to find many opportunities in this holy season of Christmas to give “glory to the newborn King,” as the old carol says. Today, we take a closer look at family in our lives.

God honors, upholds and rejoices in the community of family. The relationships between father and child, mother and child, or husband and wife each reflect God’s perfect love—both for us and among the Divine Persons of the Holy Trinity.

Jesus, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin, nonetheless grew up within a close-knit, human family.  In today’s Gospel (30th), where Jesus gets left behind in Jerusalem after Passover, there is a surprisingly intimate look at Jesus’ family dynamics.

Mary and Joseph demonstrate a strong, spousal partnership in their search for 12-year old Jesus who has, unbeknownst to his human parents, stayed behind in the temple.

Jesus, once found and gently questioned by His mother, Mary, “…went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.”

Can you think of a time in your own family of anxiety, then resolution, forgiveness and the restoration of family peace?

Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val, (1865 – 1930)

Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val, (1865 – 1930)

It appears to me that any conflict at any level has it’s root cause in the absence of humility on the part of the players in whichever drama is being considered in any venue. I have remarked before that: “It seems a hallmark of Truth that it always believes and expects the best of others and acts accordingly. It also seems a hallmark of untruth that it always believes and expects the worst of others and acts accordingly.”

My guess is that it all depends on what your starting assumptions are, one’s own motivations and default responses to events, as to how you believe others will act. This morning I prayed a litany of humility, a pius Catholic custom, and afterwards thought how the petitions of the litany encompass the entire gamut of all the underlying provocations of human conflict, in families and outside the family circle in the wider world.

All human conflict and rancor seem rooted in either fear of something or desire for something, the conflict arising from disappointed desires or realized fears.

For non Catholics, it may help to understand that a litany is a form of prayer with a repeated responsive petition, used in public liturgical services of the Catholic Church, and in private devotions of Her adherents. This then is the Litany of Humility (with emphasis on the desires and fears) :

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Make my heart like yours.
From self-will, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being loved, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being extolled, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being honored, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being praised, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being preferred to others, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire of being approved, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire to be understood, deliver me, O Lord.
From the desire to be visited, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being despised, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being calumniated, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being suspected, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being wronged, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being abandoned, deliver me, O Lord.
From the fear of being refused, deliver me, O Lord.
That others may be loved more than I,
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I,
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease,
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I go unnoticed,
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should,
Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
At being unknown and poor, Lord, I want to rejoice.
At being deprived of the natural perfections of body and mind,Lord, I want to rejoice.
When people do not think of me, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they assign to me the meanest tasks, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they do not even deign to make use of me, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they never ask my opinion, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they leave me at the lowest place, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they never compliment me, Lord, I want to rejoice.
When they blame me in season and out of season, Lord, I want to rejoice.
Blessed are those who suffer persecution for justice’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Attributed by many writers to: Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val, (1865 – 1930)

Cheers

Joe

The rather obvious point of this post is to imply that we should be striving for humility … how’s that working out so far, Joe? What kind of progress are we making on our quest for peace?

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The Inner Struggle

Easter Sunday – The Resurrection of Christ Jesus

“An Taiseirl (The Resurrection)”, Noirin Ni Riain and The Monks Of Glenstal Abbey, from the album “Vox de Nube”, (1996)

Resurrection, Romolo Tavani

Resurrection, Romolo Tavani

Acts 10:34a, 37-43 Peter proceeded to speak and said:
“You know what has happened all over Judea,
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him.
We are witnesses of all that he did
both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.
They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.
This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible,
not to all the people, but to us,
the witnesses chosen by God in advance,
who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
He commissioned us to preach to the people
and testify that he is the one appointed by God
as judge of the living and the dead.
To him all the prophets bear witness,
that everyone who believes in him
will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

“Quid hoc ad aeternitatem,” as old Saint Bernard of Clairvaux used to mumble when faced with the usual parade of travail, what does it matter in the light of eternity?

Cheers

Joe

1A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

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The Inner Struggle

I Arise Today … “Atomriug indiu”

“A Dhia Ghleigil” (Oh Glorious God) Noirin Ni Riain & The Monks of Glenstal Abbey, from the albom “Vox de Nube”, 1996

I am thinking about mortality, and sin, and the state of affairs in our current modern English society. Here is a little story from the Catholic side of my family. My line is Irish/French on my mother’s side and German/Swiss on my father’s side.

I guess you could say I am a “religious half breed”, Catholic and Methodist, which is why I see these religious things a little differently from those who come from a unified  spiritual background, or no spiritual background.

On the East coast as a child on Sunday I would sing in church with my Catholic mother, and then sing in church with my Methodist grandmother. Everyone was just trying to save little Joe’s soul as best they knew. Now, as an old(er) man, I sing in church with my daughter who plays piano for our music ministry.

Anyway, here is a little story of my recent ancestors.

November 24, 1831.  “I the undersigned, having received the mutual consent of Michael Devanny, Son of Darby Devanny and Margaret Gillan, of the County of Sligo, Ireland, and Ann Magown, Daughter of James Magown and Bridget MacCown,  of the Same County, Married them in the presence of John Stewart, Patrick MacMullin and John Scollion. (signed by) J. Loughran P.P.”

patrick_shamrock_0

Saint Patrick

Thus begins the story of my mother’s family in the new world. Before the first child was baptized the family name had been changed to DeVan, (from Belgium via the Channel Islands, as the family mythology goes, because of course “Irish need not apply”)  and they had three children baptized as DeVan before Michael’s untimely death 7 and a half years later. The DeVan Family Bible states that Michael DeVan died 20th of May 1839 at Dartmouth from stepping on a rusty nail. St. Mary’s R.C. Registers (Halifax) Burials (1830-1842) No. 25, (PANS Reel 11506)

“I the undersigned buried Michael DeVan aged 34 years, husband of Ann McGowan, a Ship carpenter by trade and a native of Ireland. J Loughnan P.P.”

In a time when life was often short and even brutal, bigotry was more common and virulent and literacy was not widespread amongst the common man, name spelling varied from day to day and person to person it seems. But their prayers still survived. There were prayers still, in the time of Michael and Ann, powerful prayers, that had come down from ancient times and which are now lost to most modern peoples, prayers abandoned along with the sacraments.

Sometimes called “The Deer’s Cry”, this is one of those prayers, translated from Old Irish around 1898, to be read aloud as a morning prayer, attributed to St. Patrick (ca 433?)

St. Patrick’s Breastplate
(“I Arise Today”)

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendour of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

Domini est salus, Domini est salus, Christi est salus. Salus tua, Domine, sit semper nobiscum. (Salvation is of The Lord, salvation is of The Lord, salvation is of Christ. May thy salvation, Lord, be always with us.)

Good Morning and may you have a blessed and peaceful day …

Cheers

Joe

coptic-desert

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