Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Through The Lens of Age … Conformity to God’s Will

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

So, on revisiting my last post it might seem that life is grim and depressing with nothing of joy to contemplate in the world. And this would be correct when looked at a certain way. The painful disassociation from all things secular and temporal is indeed depressing and grim, joyless even as the realization of how little of the secular human existence matters in the big picture, one discovery of dissatisfaction after another, failure in all the members, even in members which heretofore had been relied upon to provide some comfort in the storm.

September 1970: French naval officer and underwater explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau (1910 – 1997), who in 1957 was appointed director of the Institute of Oceanography in Monaco. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Jacques Cousteau remarked: “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” I spent almost 8 years of my young life as a blue ocean sailor. I would have to agree wholeheartedly with Jacques regarding the spell of the sea.

I do not recall ever reading anything by Jacques Cousteau on spirituality and GOD but have difficulty believing that a fellow ocean sailor would not have had deep thoughts and beliefs regarding GOD in His majesty. I would paraphrase that sentiment to say “GOD, once he casts His net of wonder, holds one in thrall for the remainder of ones days”.

GOD and His existence and his all encompassing plan for everything and everyone is only hinted at powerfully by the sea and the experience of those who travel thereon, feeling the full range of the power of the sea.

I do not include the millions of “cruise boat tourists” who “take a cruise” from year to year in the number of those “who go down to the sea in ships”. For all the exposure they get, in their multi-thousand head herd, to the sea, they might as well be at Disneyland of some nautically themed entertainment venue in Vegas.

And I wade through my personal mental virtual reality of Frodo’s “Dead Marshes”  where the public actions of our modern Roman Curia color my faith life, and the public actions and words of our modern political and social classes, and the media color everything by which I try to understand what might be happening in the world around me. And I have to continually remind myself that “telling it like it is” is really only “telling it like what I think it might be”.

The Dead Marshes – from Peter Jackson’s movie “The Two Towers” based on “The Lord Of The Rings”

The Dead Marshes – from Peter Jackson’s movie “The Two Towers” based on “The Lord Of The Rings”

It’s not really “like it is” because there is no way I can know what it is, very much like I could not tell what the outcome would be when in the midst of a life and death struggle to preserve our little vessel in the midst of the power of a hurricane driven sea.

What I “think it is” is colored, is filtered,  by my pride, my opinion, my attachments, and my desires regarding what I think it “should” be.  Filtered by what “makes sense” to me.  I am completely missing the “deep” game. Only God reads the heart.

And why then does it all seem so grim? Is it because I am, in fact, failing to conform myself to God’s will?  God communicates Himself most to the soul that has progressed farthest along in love, in the sense of “Agape”, that is, true charity, or so I am told.

“Red Dragonfly” by Kobudo, from the album “Ototabi”, (2013)

And I am also told that true union with GOD brings true joy in its fullest sense. In real life, true love is made manifest in the willingness of the lover to do what pleases the loved one. True love is manifest, in this world, in the lover’s conforming oneself to the desires, tastes, and will of the loved one, not willing anything which could displease the loved one.

Saint Michael The Archangel

Saint Michael The Archangel

So, is it, the lack of, an abundance of joy, that is perhaps a real barometer of ones degree of conformity to God’s will? More joy more conformity, less joy less conformity? So it seems to me at this time, anyway. All the human foibles and sins to which I am prone interfere with and prevent full conformity with GOD’s will and therefore necessarily interfere with the development of joy in my life.

And what about outside influences? What about “all the evil spirits who prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.” as found in the last line of our “Prayer to Saint Michael The Archangel”?  I have been reading about exorcists, and reading books by real exorcists, there is even a “Priestly Society of Exorcists” called the Dolorans. I have also lately watched a couple of videos claiming to be about real exorcisms. I have moved firmly into the “I believe in spirits and demons and the Devil” camp.

As the Book of Revelations, (Revelations 12:3-4) says, “3And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns: and on his head seven diadems: 4And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered; that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son”.

So we are talking billions of evil spirits. Unfortunately, this whole area of demons and evil spirits, is not a popular subject these days since we are “too sophisticated” to believe all this superstitious nonsense. It is really quite dangerous to deny the existence of a powerful enemy.

This notion of the non-existence of Satan, and evil spirits and demons, and their influence in and on our lives, is a relatively new “truth” believed only by our sophisticated materialist secular society. Our “primitive” and “superstitious” ancestors believed otherwise, in all times and all cultures. C.S. Lewis mentions this in “the Screwtape Letters” :

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“My Dear Wormwood,

I wonder you should ask me whether it is essential to keep the patient in ignorance of your own existence. That question, at least for the present phase of the struggle, has been answered for us by the High Command. Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves.

Of course this has not always been so. We are really faced with a cruel dilemma.When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and sceptics. At least, not yet.

I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalise and mythologise their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, belief in us, (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy. The “Life Force”, the worship of sex, and some aspects of Psychoanalysis, may here prove useful.

If once we can produce our perfect work – the Materialist Magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls “Forces” while denying the existence of “spirits” – then the end of the war will be in sight. But in the meantime we must obey our orders. I do not think you will have much difficulty in keeping the patient in the dark.

The fact that “devils” are predominantly comic figures in the modern imagination will help you. If any faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to him a picture of something in red tights, and persuade him that since he cannot believe in that (it is an old textbook method of confusing them) he therefore cannot believe in you.

Chapter VII”

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So in this enlightened age we now have acknowledged the real “Materialist Magician“. We know them as Material Naturalists and their belief system is known as Material Naturalism. This is the belief that all that exists in the world is ultimately reducible to material phenomena. For example, from this perspective, Mother Teresa was just a unique bundle of brain chemistry with particular psychoneural processes acting predictably, prompting her to do what she did.

At all other times and places in history the belief in the demonic has been both fervent and well documented. Especially prevalent is the existence of “fomenting spirits”. That is, those evil spirits whose specialty is fomenting one or another kind of bad behaviour in humans who are more than ready to go along with any evil urging. Exorcists tell us that since so many demons identify with the vice or attitude they seek to foment, demons answer to these names.

As a result, some of the names of demons which I am listing here will correspond to various vices and disorders or attitudes which demons foment, but which we tend to think of as “natural” human behaviour because we don’t believe in demons. Here is just a short list of examples taken from the domain of

Satan's Subtle Art of Destruction

Satan’s Subtle Art of Destruction

Lying Spirits: “Pretension, Unreality, Denial, Delusion/Labyrinth, Convoluted Thinking, Cheating, Neglect of Responsibilities, Irreverence, Circumvention, Folly, Concealment, Blindness of Spirit, Evasiveness, Deceit, Mask, Game Playing, Deception, Illusion, Diversion, Error, Drama, Marionette-Puppet, False, Farce, Hallucination; Smoke & Mirrors, Harlequin Mask, Imitation, Pantomime, Counterfeit, Role Reversal, Fraud, Detraction, Incredulity, Coy, Cunning, Undermining, Aping, Dichotomy, Juggling, Duplicity, Facade, Dual, Showmanship, Theatrics, Show, Acting, Trickery, Magic, Mockery, Appearances, Fantasy, Heresy, Legion, Subversive, Irony, Mimicry”

Another domain is Unclean Spirits:Unclean & Offensive Conditions, Compulsiveness to Clean, Involuntary Vices (Obsessive Compulsive), Compulsion, “I have to”, Distortion of Truth, Busybody, Nosey, Curiosity, Violation of Confidentiality, Rumors, Critical Judgment, Perverted Judgment, Perverted Thinking, Scandal, Spirits that cause Accidents”.

And yet another domain is Theft:Stealing, Greed, Avarice, Materialism, Possessiveness, Hoarding, Covetousness, Collecting, Exclusiveness, Making Excuses for Sin & Infidelities to God; Neglect-Omission; Inability to Pray Because of Worldly Cares; Inability to Give or Share, Stingy; Inability to Give Praise & Thanksgiving to God or to People”

So yes, lots of outside influences … and none of them good, the above lists are drawn from Appendix I of  Deliverance Prayers, for use by the laity” a slim volume published by Sensus Traditionis Press, and available at Amazon.com.

When we consider the subject of evil spirits, and demons, and demonology, it really is hard to ignore C.S. Lewis. In our modern times there have been very few authors to have so stimulated the imagination with regard to the spiritual realm as the author of The Screwtape Letters. The book, dedicated to his friend and colleague J.R.R. Tolkien, begins with two quotes:

The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn. (Luther)

The devill . . . the prowde spirite . . . cannot endure to be mocked. (Thomas More)

This Lewis then proceeds to do in masterful fashion. Through witty episodes, he captures the cleverness and wiles of Satan’s agents, the demons and spirits who “prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls”  as well as their ultimate shortsightedness and folly. The biggest part of the battle is to struggle against the tide of modern sophisticated disbelief and accept the truth of the existence of evil spirits.

Well, I guess that’s enough for now. I will read some more and think some more and perhaps post some more about this later, as I want to discuss some of this with my parish priest and get his thoughts on this topic.

Cheers

Joe

The Long Defeat …

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The Inner Struggle

Spirit and Subsidiarity

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

“Subsidiarity” as explained here, and “Spirit” (as discussed here and here) are two important Catholic ideas.  Subsidiarity is an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. Political (and social) decisions should be taken at a local level if possible, with an eye to eternity, rather than by a central authority with an eye to the next election.

001-1605_francken_sieben_werke_der_barmherzigkeit_anagoriaJust as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community (what our society knows as “socialism”), so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association (such as the State) what lesser and subordinate organizations (such as communities or individuals) can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them.” Pope Pius XI’s encyclical “Quadragesimo anno” (40th year).

I am thinking that everything that presents to us or shows us “Truth” in this material world, the secular world, has it’s antecedents in the spiritual world, the extra universal world of spirit. So, with “subsidiarity”  God expects us to accomplish, with our own initiative and industry, those tasks or goals which he has assigned to us!

001-850px-werken_van_barmhartigheid_meester_van_alkmaar_1504He also does not intend for us to mistake the process of attaining our proper end, namely union with Himself, as an end in itself, or as a means to some other end in the temporal reality of the world we live in, however laudable it may seem to be.

I am charged, therefore, with the development of my personal spiritual life, my growth in holiness, and in submitting myself entirely to executing the will of God. I am specifically NOT charged by God with the development and growth of my own ambitions and secular goals, no matter how I dress them up in sanctifying rhetoric and do-gooder busy work, for my own good and the good of other people and the good of the community (social programs).

This is not to imply that “social programs” are not good but only that they must originate in the lowest level of authority possible acting in the execution of the Corporal Works Of Mercy”.

So here I am, contemplating my “reality”. I’m just muddling along, hacking out a clearing in the close crowding trees of “reality”; attempting to see the forest, that is to shift my point of view from the temporal reality which we are all immersed in, and which we all take for granted as “the only reality”; when “reality” is, in reality, not temporal at all!

I appeal to authority in the person of C.S. Lewis who touches on this, “reality” and “means to ends” in Chapter 23 and Chapter 27 of The Screwtape Letters”  when Screwtape addresses his nephew Wormwood thus:

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001-screwtape-lettersin Chapter 23: “…  About the general connection between Christianity and politics, our position is more delicate. Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their political life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster.

On the other hand we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything—even to social justice.

The thing to do is to get a man (the human patient) at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy (God) demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice.

For the Enemy (God) will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s shop.

Fortunately it is quite easy to coax humans round this little corner. Only today I have found a passage in a Christian writer where he recommends his own version of Christianity on the ground that “only such a faith can outlast the death of old cultures and the birth of new civilisations”. You see the little rift ? “Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason.” That’s the game!

Your Affectionate Uncle,

Screwtape

001-screwtapeand in Chapter 27: “… You, being a spirit, will find it difficult to understand how he  (the human patient)  gets into this confusion. But you must remember that he takes Time for an ultimate reality.

He supposes that the Enemy (God), like himself, sees some things as present, remembers others as past, and anticipates others as future; or even if he believes that the Enemy (God) does not see things that way, yet, in his heart of hearts, he regards this as a peculiarity of the Enemy’s (God’s) mode of perception – he doesn’t really think (though he would say he did) that things as the Enemy (God) sees them are things as they are!

If you tried to explain to him (the human patient) that men’s prayers today are one of the innumerable coordinates with which the Enemy harmonises the weather of tomorrow, he would reply that then the Enemy always knew men were going to make those prayers and, if so, they did not pray freely but were predestined to do so.

And he would add that the weather on a given day can be traced back through its causes to the original creation of matter itself – so that the whole thing, both on the human and on the material side, is given “from the word go”.

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

What he ought to say, of course, is obvious to us; that the problem of adapting the particular weather to the particular prayers is merely the appearance, at two points in his temporal mode of perception, of the total problem of adapting the whole spiritual universe to the whole corporeal universe; that creation in its entirety operates at every point of space and time, or rather that their kind of consciousness forces them to encounter the whole, self-consistent creative act as a series of successive events.

Why that creative act leaves room for their free will is the problem of problems, the secret behind the Enemy’s nonsense about “Love”. How it does so is no problem at all; for the Enemy does not foresee the humans making their free contributions in a future, but sees them doing so in His unbounded Now. And obviously to watch a man doing something is not to make him do it.

001-screwtape1It may be replied that some meddlesome human writers, notably Boethius, have let this secret out. But in the intellectual climate which we have at last succeeded in producing throughout Western Europe, you needn’t bother about that.

Only the learned read old books and we have now so dealt with the learned that they are of all men the least likely to acquire wisdom by doing so. We have done this by inculcating “The Historical Point of View“. The Historical Point of View, put briefly, means that when a learned man is presented with any statement in an ancient author, the one question he never asks is whether it is true.

He asks who influenced the ancient writer, and how far the statement is consistent with what he said in other books, and what phase in the writer’s development, or in the general history of thought, it illustrates, and how it affected later writers, and how often it has been misunderstood (specially by the learned man’s own colleagues) and what the general course of criticism on it has been for the last ten years, and what is the “present state of the question“.

To regard the ancient writer as a possible source of knowledge – to anticipate that what he said could possibly modify your thoughts or your behaviour – this would be rejected as unutterably simple-minded. And since we cannot deceive the whole human race all the time, it is most important thus to cut every generation off from all others; for where learning makes a free commerce between the ages there is always the danger that the characteristic errors of one may be corrected by the characteristic truths of another.

But thanks be to our Father (Satan) andthe Historical Point of View“, great scholars are now as little nourished by the past as the most ignorant mechanic who holds that “history is bunk”,

Your Affectionate Uncle, 

Screwtape

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Well, that is quite enough for one day. Next post I am thinking will be about connections between seeing things from the point of view of the spiritual and  subsidiarity as developed in the concept of “Distributism”. I am seeking, in today’s media storm, some island of peace on which to pitch my tent, somewhere between the Scylla of rampant Capitalism and it’s screaming acolytes on the right, and the Charybdis of Socialism and it’s howling zombies on the left.

Cheers

Joe

Lichtenstein-Castle“Old men in a hurry to realise their dearest dreams can be very short-sighted.” Dom Gregory Dix, 1944.

 

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