Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Prayer and Trust … letters for our times …

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

Glenstall Abbey House

Glenstall Abbey House

Today’s Gospel is about Christ’s prayer, from John 17: 13-26…

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13And now I come to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy filled in themselves.

14I have given them thy word, and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world; as I also am not of the world.

15I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from evil. 16They are not of the world, as I also am not of the world.

17Sanctify them in truth. Thy word is truth. 18As thou hast sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

19And for them do I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Prayer for all Believers

St. John, by Pieter Paul Rubens, Flemish, 1577-1640

St. John, by Pieter Paul Rubens, Flemish, 1577-1640

20And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me; 21That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

22And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, as we also are one: 23I in them, and thou in me; that they may be made perfect in one: and the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast also loved me.

24Father, I will that where I am, they also whom thou hast given me may be with me; that they may see my glory which thou hast given me, because thou hast loved me before the creation of the world.

25Just Father, the world hath not known thee; but I have known thee: and these have known that thou hast sent me. 26And I have made known thy name to them, and will make it known; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me, may be in them, and I in them.

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These days I am thinking about mortality, and sin, and the state of affairs in our current modern English society. Thinking of Christ’s prayer that all believers be one. 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 (United Church now, seems to be the universal catch-all for dieing denominations), which is why I see these religious things a little differently from those who come from a unified spiritual background and a single point of view with respect to religion, or, more commonly now, no spiritual background at all.

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

Nóirín Ní Riain

By Nóirín Ní Riain official website, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php

On the East coast as a child on Sundays I would sing in church with my Catholic mother, and then an hour later sing in church with my Methodist (United Church)  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.”

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, more overt than today, and more virulent, and literacy was not as widespread amongst the common man as our modern educational “establushment” claims we now are. Back then name spelling varied from day to day and person to person it seems.

Just an aside, I still can’t, for the life of me, understand why using Apple computers and iPhones and trinkets from the AppStore and having a Facebook account and 500 “friends”, counts as “literacy” but then again, perhaps I am just an ignorant throwback to an earlier day when party lines were the most common connection and the World Wide Web had yet to be born as ARPA net. Anyway, this post is about prayer, remember that Joe.

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Saint Patrick

In the early 1800’s literacy was not as widespread amongst the common man as claimed today 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 sophisticated peoples, prayers abandoned along with the sacraments by we enlightened moderns.

As John wrote: “and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world;

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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The Inner Struggle

Boundless Hope …

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

Our hope in God can never be exaggerated because it stems from God’s mercy which is infinite. If we sincerely try to do everything we can to please God we should not doubt or fear that our hope in Him can be too great.

Detach oneself from reliance in our own power, our own plans; detach oneself from every created thing and throw ourselves entirely into the arms of God, trusting totally in His infinite mercy and goodness. We are essentially powerless and any belief otherwise is just another manifestation of pride and self worship. Without Him we can do nothing.

Trust entirely in God’s power.  His power and desire for our good exceed our greatest hopes infinitely. As John of The Cross says, “The more the soul hopes, the more it attains.”  The more wretched and powerless we find ourselves,  when The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, / Gang aft agley,” (from “To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough” by Robert Burns), the more we should hope in God.

We cannot, and should not, expect to reach sanctity under our own steam and by our own effort; our own work is worthless without trust in God. But we should hope to reach sanctity through the omnipotent strength of Him who loves to bend over souls as a parent bends over a stumbling child, aware of their frailty, who loves, in the words of the Blessed Virgin, “to exalt the humble and to fill the hungry with good things“.

The sure knowledge of our weakness and powerlessness, as evidenced daily in all the frustrations, unrealized dreams, unexpected trials, and the plentiful vicissitudes of inter-personal relationships where we interact with everyone else’s plans, hopes, and dreams, should make us constantly aware of our need for God, God’s guidance, and God’s omnipotence. Our plans and our hopes in ourselves are simply temporal evidence of our attachment to ourselves, our self love and self worship.

“A soul that endeavors to apply itself with all the strength of its will to the practice of the virtues and the fulfillment of every duty, a soul that is determined to refuse nothing to Our Lord, should strive to maintain itself in an attitude of total trust in Him, in spite of inevitable falls. Yes, we should have complete confidence that God will come to sanctify us, regardless of our past faults, our present miseries, the aridity of our soul, the repugnance of nature, or the state of weariness and depression in which we may find ourselves.” fromDivine Intimacy“, by Fr. Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalene, O.C.D. , Copyright 1953 Monastero S. Guiseppe – Carmelitane Scalze, (Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Rome), 2014 edition. day 249, Boundless Hope, pp 723 first paragraph.

I can’t say enough good aboutDivine Intimacy“,  it is available at Baronius Press https://www.baroniuspress.com/book.php?wid=56&bid=48#tab=tab-1. Read it daily. Save your soul.

Perhaps even save your life. This fasting diet which I have been following since January of this year has its roots in my decision to fast for spiritual reasons prompted and spurred on by this book. Who can say how God works in one’s life and how he makes his will known in the lives of his people. But it is for sure dead certain that listening to and accepting and following the guidance, the guidelines, of human authorities with all the attendant self interest and corruption leads to certain death.

And while it is true that everyone dies, it is very much up to each one of us how we die, and why we die, and whether we die in our soul or only in our body.

Cheers

Joe

 

empty oneself of every trace of belief in one’s “goodness”

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The Inner Struggle

Pilgrimage 3 …

The notion that this life is simply a preparation for some future existence, rests on the presupposition that the supernatural exists. I have gone to some lengths to explain why I believe our culture, our society, has chosen to disregard the obvious indicators that the supernatural exists.

For those inclined to believe, there remains a rather obvious analogy, that of a progression through an earthly educational process of discovery and development of spiritual awareness, self control, and struggle to overcome our propensity to do evil, in preparation for graduation to a supernatural realm, hopefully on the side of the angels.

Staying focused on life as pilgrimage allows one to stay centered when the chaos of modern secular life threatens to overwhelm you. It allows one to re-establish right priorities no matter what the world is screaming about. Having right priorities reduces daily stress dramatically.

If we can eventually attain enough self control to trust God for everything then very many, if not most, of our earthly trials simply cease to exist. But to stop making and executing our own plans without recourse to God is a difficult path fraught with temptation and failure on every side.

One aid which I have found helpful in this process is the “Prayer of the Examine“. I add my own caveat that at first it is very difficult if not impossible unless one breaks up the daily process into much smaller, more frequent periods so that one makes the examen often, such as at rising, breakfast, coffee break, lunch, coffee break, supper, evening and bedtime.

After significant practice one might be able to reduce the number of periods of prayer if one desires, but at the beginning I have found that the sheer magnitude of the task mitigates against successful praying the examin only once a day, in the evening for example.

Cheers

Joe

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

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