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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Pen as Sword - Social Commentary, The Inner Struggle

“modern English culture” … part 2

David-WarrenAwakening from an extravagant dream this morning, I found a new collective noun in my head. It was, “an affliction of bishops.” The dream, gentle reader will surmise, was something about synods.

We have survived much through the last twenty centuries or so. We will survive more.

*

To Mass, and the celebration today of Saint Anselm, among the greatest Archbishops of Canterbury, along with Augustine the original “Apostle to the English,” and of course the assassinated Thomas à Becket. (All Romans, and two of them Italian.)

Anselm was everything we seek in a bishop, though seldom get, because we do not pray hard enough. He was a man of deep learning, a philosophical and theological genius, a talented administrator, a simple pastor, and an obvious saint. He had also the guts to stand up to kings, and was twice exiled from England for his rock-like opposition to legislative depravities we’d think nothing of today. Twice, too, he was restored to office, because he was too large to ignore.

For it wasn’t just Henry the VIIIth. Previous English kings had tried their luck, in appropriating to themselves what belonged to Christ and His Church, only.

“Nothing in this earth is dearer to Christ,” Anselm said, “than the freedom of His Church.”

Let no Christian forget that, in this world that swelters from political arrogance. Saint Anselm of Canterbury pray for us.

*****

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

Rather of a theme with my latest posts regarding the roots of our current societal  unrest and my general dissatisfaction with the culture of the day, our modern English culture.

In exploring my observations and trying to remain above my usual injurious way of looking at individual culpability it occurs to me that most, if not all, regular folks are not really guilty (in the sense of culpably responsible for their sin) of anything wrong in pursuing their observed course of action.

They may well be completely free of blame for anything except perhaps for failing to think through why they are going down their chosen path and what are the likely outcomes of traveling that chosen path.

But ever was it so. Man is notably capable of going wrong lacking Divine guidance in the form of Sacraments and Teachings and it is quite obviously accurate to imagine us all as a flock of appetite ridden sheep, shorn of all protections and absolutely leaderless.

OnTheRock8

On The Rock

Mark Mallett has some interesting thoughts on the current situation.

TRULY, if one does not understand the days we live in, the recent firestorm over the Pope’s condom remarks could leave the faith of many shaken. But I believe it’s part of God’s plan today, part of His divine action in the purification of His Church and eventually the whole world:

For it is time for the judgment to begin with the household of God… (1 Peter 4:17)

Mark has done a good job writing (here) about what went wrong in Canada and it serves as a model of what went wrong everywhere in the English speaking world. As a teenager I witnessed the complete collapse of the Catholic Faith in my own immediate family and in my parish in the sixties and early seventies after the fallout from Vatican II hit the left wing Council of Canadian Catholic Bishops.

Mark Mallett writes that “… he is a child of Vatican II, born in the year that Paul VI released Humanae Vitae, the papal encyclical which clarified to the faithful that birth control is not in God’s plan for the human family. The response in Canada was heartbreaking. The infamous Winnipeg Statement* released by the Canadian Bishops at that time essentially instructed the faithful that the one who does not follow the Holy Father’s teaching but instead…

…that course which seems right to him, does so in good conscience. —Canadian Bishops response to Humanae Vitae; Plenary Assembly held at St. Boniface, Winnipeg, Canada, Sept 27th, 1968

Indeed, many did follow that course which “seemed right to them” (see my testimony on birth control here) and not only in matters of birth control, but just about everything else. Now, abortion, pornography, divorce, civil unions, co-habitation before marriage, and a shrinking family demographic have been found to the same degree within “Catholic” families compared to the rest of society. Called to be salt and light to the world, our morality and standards look pretty much like everyone else’s.”  So, as things turned out, we remain highly skeptical of the publicly stated reasons for the Canadian Bishop’s  promulgation of the Winnipeg Statement.

Fifty years on it is obvious to any with eyes to see and ears to hear that the hidden Liberal agenda (both within the church and in the secular society of the day), of destroying the Catholic Church  in Canada, was hugely served by the release of the Winnipeg Statement. Canadian Catholics were delivered from the light of Truth and stumbled off into the darkness “doing their own thing”. Today, as we line up to be euthanized by the son of one of the major political figures of the 60’s we can all clearly see where it has got us – leaderless sheep indeed.

Anyway, more to follow (MTF) in this vein at a later time – business calls and cannot be ignored …

Cheers

Joe

coptic-desertAlways remember, “be charitable in your judgements, and never take yourself too seriously”

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