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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Because it is SO BAD

Thanks to First Things for this horrible advertisement.

What we are up against are the unseen forces of the air....

...having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me. (Eph 6:13-19)

Pay attention

Poll note

The results are VERY interesting and not at all what I expected.

A few more days.....and I plan to adjust the content of my posts according to the results, so choose what you want to see.

As of 22:30 GMT

Gramsci  17%                       Post-post Modernism 23%
Perfection 29%                      Education 20%
Singles and Vocations 32%    Art, poetry and aesthetics 23%
Socialism 29%                      American Politics 23%
Saints and Martyrs 38%         French and English Politics 11%

Most post day

St. Peter's Chains in Saint Peter in Chains in Rome
Because of sciatica, I am stuck inside again today. It is too painful to walk in the snow and ice. I am off my feet, as it were.

However, God allows all suffering and you are benefiting from my state of inactivity.

Michaelangelo's Moses in St. Peter in Chains, Rome

God has a plan. Moses found God in the desert. God came to him unexpectedly. So, too, with us.

20 posts yesterday, and 22 today, plus the rest of the weekend is full as well.

Take time to read these.

We do not have much time to have this freedom of speech and religion.

The Chain of St. Paul in the Roman Basilica of San Paolo in Rome

Wow, television is the enemy of contemplation

We only have so much the video here and the next one posted.

I have read all of Thomas Merton's books many, many years ago but I have missed some of his articles. Now, I have come across a startling one which I missed so long ago and I hope this helps.

If you can find Cistercian Studies Quarterly, "Inner Experience: Problems of the Contemplative Life (VII)", Vol 19, 1984, notes on pp. 269-270, 

you will read that the monk compared television watching as a caricature of contemplation. 

This is earth-shaking. I knew that television interfered with silence and solitude, and that it is a brain-washing technique, but to read that it creates the same dynamic as contemplative prayer reveals the real evil.

Merton's points are these: one is passive and takes in uncritically what is given on the television; one is receptive to all that is there before one; one become inert and "yields" to  the "mystic attraction until one is spellbound in a state of complete union."

This is terrifying. And, I know this to be true. In families where there is tv, there is no peace or reflection. In families where there is no tv, there is quiet.

Merton goes on to write that television is the opposite of contemplation, which breaks with sensuality, noise, the senses in general, and the "will on a temporal or material level...the the nadir of intellectual and emotional slavery."

I visited the first house I have been in for a long time where television is on for hours and hours. People actually "shh" people into silence for stupid programs, like variety shows. I was not only amazed, but realized how this slavery is so real.

That family does not pray together and several members have fallen away from the Church. There is no adult reading concerning the Faith and no attempts at Lectio Divina. Up to six hours of television watching cloud the judgements and movements of those children as well who watch it.

Please, parents, stop watching television and start praying.

Otherwise, you cannot even begin the road to perfection.

P.S. Let me add that the faculties of the soul and mind which should be used for contemplative prayer are being seized by television. This is the point of Merton's warning...................

On Spiritual Direction Two

Two more points I would like to stress in seeking or not having spiritual direction are these points:

1) It is really easy to deceive one's self on the spiritual road to God. Deception can look like piety, or discouragement, and even be a way some people excuse themselves from the hard bits. Even in a monastery, monks or nuns can "opt" out on the road to perfection by either manipulating the authority over them, manipulating the community or by isolating themselves. This can happen through weakness or through pride and through strength and pride.

Just as in some jobs you have met the person on the team who just can't meet when everyone else does regularly, or gets migraines under stress and reminds you how unreliable there health is, or the one who wants to take over the group. I had a group dynamics course in the 1970s in preparation for a teaching certificate, and these types of problems were discussed. In a monastery or a family, there may even be the person who always feels offended, or worse, feels so holy, that the others are holding them back. All these problems come from a skewed idea of reality and deceit at deep levels of the psyche. Healing and repentance are necessary.

This is one reason why one who does not have a spiritual director should find a good confessor and always go to the same one for continuity. This continuity opens the door for honesty and proves to make a huge difference in a person's life if they cannot find a spiritual director. In the past years when I did not have one, having the same confessor week after week was extremely useful and productive.
Humility is honesty and one cannot grow in humility unless one is honest about one's self.

2) A role model in one's life, or even a saint one admires and with whom one can identify is helpful if one does not have a spiritual director. When we have, especially, an older person in whom we see holiness and can learn from them just by osmosis or being in their presence, this can be a great help in spiritual growth.

Too many Millennials do not have good examples in their families of personal holiness. Many do, but not all can look towards leadership in the family for spiritual growth.  Cynicism and fear can be a reaction in a young person who cannot see personal holiness or who does not have a role model. A priest told me of an old woman he visited regularly until she died. He said visiting her was like stepping into heaven  because of her love of God and His Love for her. He was always eager to see her.

The lives of the saints become more important for these youth than ever before. Parents can introduce their children to saints and also direct the children to saints who may be like their children in character, personality and talents.

For example. Therese the Little Flower appeals to both men and women because of her "Little Way" and her honesty. Pier Georgio Frassati is very popular among those at the end of Generation X, as they can identify with his family life and his love of friendship. Groups have grown out of this need for modelling.

For seminarians in the Millennials, such saints as Louis de Montfort, John Vianney and Maximilian Kolbe are attractive, both having endured persecution in different ways.

For those who are married, Louis and Zelie Martin are perfect examples of those who suffer on the way to perfection.

to be continued....

For my single female traditional friends

Click on the video link below.

I write this for you.

Two things have led to a great insight in my life and I want to share this in sight with the small group of talented, beautiful, intelligent, traditional women who I know and love. You know who you are.

As you know, I, too am single and have been for a long time.

Starting with the second thing, in the reading and listening of some poetry, I realized from the author that my not desired single state was part of my walk towards perfection.

Now, singleness is a sad default of the present generations and not a natural state. We should either be in community or married. God did not intend anyone to be alone. That is one reason I went to the nuns. I cried last week when I left them again, especially after one said, "We shall get you in somehow yet." But, the Benedictine Rule cannot be bent. And, it should not be. That weakens a community

There are no vows, no promises, no challenges day by day in the single life, which can easily fall into a narcissistic  me centred existence.

In The Hound of Heaven, Francis Thompson writes, as if God is speaking to him (as in personal meditation);

And human love needs human meriting:
How has thou merited--
Of all man's clotted clay the dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art.
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?

There is more but before I go on, the message is clear.  I am not worthy of human love. My sinful condition has trumped love.

Thompson experienced this humility. And a grace this is. One must be humble to be loved and to love.

 He continues:

All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might'st seek it in My arms,
All which they child's mistake
fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand and come.

So ladies, you are on your way to perfection in the absence of human love, as you must seek the personal Saviour Who waits for you. Be serene. Wait.

Read your Scripture daily.

Seek and you shall find, or rather, He will find you.

The first thing is that it is OK to like men who read Jane Austen. But, such guys should shave.......................

From the Great Pat Buchanan

Clouds Over Obama’s Second Term

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By Patrick J. Buchanan
Rarely have second terms lived up to the hopes and expectations of presidents or their electorates.
FDR’s began with an attempt to pack the Supreme Court by adding new justices and a second Depression of 1937. He was rescued only by the war in Europe in 1939 and the GOP’s nomination of “the barefoot boy from Wall Street,” Wendell Willkie.
What can be called Harry Truman’s second term was a disaster.
In 1949, the Soviets exploded an atom bomb and China fell to Mao. In 1950, the Rosenbergs were convicted as atomic spies for Stalin and North Korea invaded the South, igniting a three-year war Truman could not win or end.
He lost the New Hampshire primary in 1952 to Sen. Estes Kefauver, dropped out and saw would-be successor Adlai Stevenson crushed by Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, as Republicans captured Congress. Truman left with the lowest approval rating of a president before or since.
In his second term, Ike did better, but suffered a GOP defeat in 1958, saw Fidel Castro seize Cuba in January of 1959, and had the U-2 shot down by Russia in May 1960 and his Paris summit blown up by Nikita Khrushchev, who berated Ike to his face. His vice president, Richard Nixon, then lost the White House.
The Kennedy-Johnson second term began spectacularly, with passage of all the Great Society legislation. But, in 1966, LBJ’s party suffered huge losses. In 1968, that year of assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, of race riots in a hundred cities, and of campus anarchy, antiwar protests and an endless war in Vietnam, LBJ was challenged in the primaries, quit the race, and saw Nixon succeed him.
After his own 49-state re-election victory, Nixon did not survive his second term. Jimmy Carter did not get a second term.
Ronald Reagan comes close to being the exception.
While he lost 10 Senate seats in 1986, he cut income tax rates from 50 to 28 percent, and his summiteering with Mikhail Gorbachev is seen as a historic success, leading to America’s victory in the Cold War.
The Iran-Contra scandal — trading of arms to Iran for hostages in Lebanon — almost broke his presidency. But by the time Reagan left in 1989, his popularity had been restored, the Cold War was ending, and his vice president was taking the oath of office to succeed him.
George H.W. Bush was denied a second term. And the main event of Bill Clinton’s was his impeachment and Senate trial for the Monica Lewinsky affair.
In his second term, George W. Bush lost his battle for Social Security reform and lost both houses of Congress in 2006, ending his presidency with America mired in two unwinnable wars and plunging into a near-depression.
By January 2009, Bush’s approval rating was approaching the Truman low, and his party had lost the White House.
About Obama’s second term it is hard to be sanguine.
The hopeful news is that, after four years, the U.S. economy appears to be recovering. Progress is slow, but we seem to be out of intensive care and walking the hospital halls.
The perils, however, are visibly present. With its massive creation of money, the Federal Reserve is taking an immense risk that as recovery takes root, inflation may explode. And the hostility between President Obama and House Republicans likely means no big deal to constrain future deficits. Obama added $5 trillion to America’s debt bomb in his first term, and his second promises the same.
This cannot go on forever. Foreign and domestic creditors will one day demand a risk premium for lending money to Uncle Sam.
But it is abroad where the problems and perils seem imminent.
Iraq is drifting toward sectarian-civil-ethnic war. Few are optimistic about the fate of Syria when Bashar Assad falls. Even fewer are optimistic about Afghanistan after U.S. troops depart. The Taliban of Afghanistan’s past may be her future.
Notwithstanding Obama’s campaign claim about al-Qaida being “on the run,” Islamism and Islamist terrorism seem to be growth stocks in the Sahel region of Africa, the Maghreb, and the Middle and Near East, all the way to nuclear-armed Pakistan.
In East Asia, escalating tensions between Japan and China are spawning a new nationalism in both nations, and now warships and jet fighters of both have begun circling the Senkaku Islands.
The most immediate crisis may come this year, when a re-elected Bibi Netanyahu and his neocon and War Party allies demand of the president an ultimatum to Tehran, followed by U.S. air strikes on its nuclear facilities at Natanz and Fordow if Iran does not capitulate.
Obama may be dreaming of amnesty for illegal aliens and a Federal Gun Registry, but most of us would settle for no more wars and no double-dip recession.
Remarkable how the expectations of Americans seem so modest compared to what they were when we were young.
Today, the minimalist slogan, “General Motors is alive, and Osama bin Laden is dead!” is enough to get you re-elected president.

Take a tour of Rievaulx

Remember the adage: The Benedictines take the mountains and the Cistercians take the valleys.

Aelred would not have seen the glory of this abbey, destroyed by Henry VIII.

Aelred of Rievaulx, Part 2

Friends can help each other with tranquillity of mind, states Aelred. And such peace comes with the life of the virtues....For Aelred, part of reaching this state of virtue, is having good friends. But, before that, one must reach these goals as well; good Benedictine and, therefore, Cistercian goals. These may be found in the Rule and in commentaries of the Rule:

rejecting honour, pleasure and worldly goods;

breaking away from self-love, pride and comparison with others to the self;

realizing one can do no good without grace, and that one must fight evil;

being disciplined in speech and action;

being still both exteriorly and interiorly.

These Benedictine ideals are right out of Classical Education and must be part of a lay person's goals as well as those of the monk. Let us continue with friendship....

45. Now the spiritual, which we call true friendship, is desired 
not with an eye to any worldly profit or for any extraneous reason, 
but for its own natural worth and for the emotion of the human 
heart, so that its fruit and reward is nothing but itself.

. Hence our Lord says in the Gospel, “I appointed you to go and 
to bear fruit,” that is, to “love one another.”

 For one goes by making 
progress in this true friendship, and one bears fruit by savoring the 
sweetness of its perfection. So spiritual friendship is begotten among 
the righteous by likeness of life, habits, and interests,
 that is, by 
agreement in things human and divine, with good will and charity.

47. Now I think this definition adequately expresses friendship, 
provided that by our mention of charity, as is our habit, we mean 
to exclude every vice from friendship and provided that by good 
will we mean the delightful awakening within us of the emotion 
of love.

48. Where such friendship exists, wishing and not wishing the same 
things, a wish that is the more pleasant as it is more sincere and 
the sweeter as it is more holy, lovers can wish for nothing that is 
unbecoming and fail to wish for nothing that is becoming.

49. Of course prudence guides, justice rules, strength protects, 
and temperance moderates this friendship.

 We will discuss these 
four virtues in their proper place. But decide now whether in your 
opinion we have given sufficient attention to what you thought 
the first question should be, namely, what friendship is.


57. Finally, when God fashioned the man, to recommend society 
as a higher blessing, he said, “it is not good that the man should be alone; 
let us make him a helper like himself.”

 Indeed divine power fashioned 
this helper not from similar or even from the same material. But 
as a more specific motivation for charity and friendship, this power 
created a woman from the very substance of the man. In a beautiful 
way, then, from the side of the first human a second was produced,

so that nature might teach that all are equal or, as it were, collateral, 
and that among human beings—and this is a property of friend­ship
—there exists neither superior nor inferior.

To be continued.....

Aelred of Rievaulx

When in the monastery, I read much, again, of Aelred, especially on friendship. In his Spiritual Friendship, he reminds us of two things. One, that one must surround one's self with really holy companions in order not to fall away. And, two, that Christian community must be based on friendship.

Aelred was classically educated and many of his ideas are from Cicero.

The impact of his work on monastic life was profound. His monastery was famous for the love shown among the monks in the form of friendship.  Here are snippets in the form of a dialogue:

8. In my opin­ion, from amor comes amicus and from amicus amicitia. That is, from 
the word for love comes that for friend, and from friend, friendship.

9. Now love is an attachment of the rational soul. Through love, the 
soul seeks and yearns with longing to enjoy an object. Through 
love, the soul also enjoys that object with interior sweetness and 
embraces and cherishes it once it is acquired. I have explained the 
soul’s attachments and emotions as clearly and carefully as I could 
in a work you know well enough, The Mirror of Charity.

 But if in our own Christian times 
friends are so few, I seem to be slaving in vain to acquire this virtue, 
for I am terrified now by its astonishing height, and I almost despair 
of reaching it.

 Hence it is the mark of a virtuous mind 
always to think steep and lofty thoughts, either to reach the desired 
objectives or to understand and grasp more clearly what should be 
desired. Indeed we should believe that one who by understanding 
virtue has discovered how far he is beneath it has made no little 

 No wonder the 
followers of true virtue were rare among the heathen, for they were 
ignorant of the Lord and giver of the virtues,

 of whom it was written, 
the Lord of virtues, he is the king of glory.

Though challenged, though injured, though tossed into the 
flames, though nailed to a cross, a friend loves always.

 And as our 
Jerome says, “a friendship that can end was never true.”

According to Cicero’s definition, you would agree that those people 
excelled in the virtue of true friendship of whom it was said that 
“the multitude of believers was of one heart and one soul. No one claimed 
any belonging as his or her own, but all was held in common.”

26 How could the highest agreement in things divine and human, 
with charity and good will,

 fail to exist among those who were of 
one heart and one soul? How many martyrs laid down their lives for 
the brethren? How many spared neither cost nor toil nor their 
bodies’ torture? I suppose that often, not without tears, you have 
read of that maiden of Antioch who was delivered from among 
prostitutes by the glorious deceit of a soldier, who became her 
companion in martyrdom after having found himself the guardian 
of her virginity in the brothel.

 He also said, “no one has greater love than to lay down 
his life for his friends.”

 I could cite for you many examples of such heroism, if sheer 
numbers did not prohibit it and the mass of material impose silence 
on me. For Christ Jesus preached and spoke, and they were multiplied 
beyond counting.

 IVO. Are we to conclude, then, that there is no distinction 
between friendship and charity?

 AELRED. On the contrary, the greatest distinction! Divine 
authority commands that many more be received to the clasp of 
charity than to the embrace of friendship. By the law of charity 
we are ordered to welcome into the bosom of love not only our 
friends but also our enemies.

 But we call friends only those to whom we have no qualm about entrusting our heart and all its 
contents, while these friends are bound to us in turn by the same 
inviolable law of loyalty and trustworthiness.

There is much more. The point I want to highlight is that there is a great need for Catholics to form friendships and to form those into communities of lay people.

I have tried to do this where I have no success.

to be continued....

Is anyone else upset?

 "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

I anyone else upset but me, that a president who openly undermines the religious freedoms of all Christian denominations by pushing abortion, contraception, and civil unions, as upheld by his party platform, says these words? And, what about the amendments? 

He is breaking his own oath. In his speech, he breaks with the long tradition of our country's religious freedom. Here are his words...on Monday.

"We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall....Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well"

What has love to do with sin? What has Stonewall to do with Selma? SIN HAS NO RIGHTS.

Grace is given freely

In the early Church, I would imagine that the vast majority of martyrs were Gentile converts. Now, there is no way to prove out of the hundreds, if not thousands of Catholics killed how many were Jewish and how many were Gentile, but one can conjecture.

So, too, I am finding a holiness in young converts missing in the older generations of Catholics. I am discovering young, intelligent, holy Millennials who far outstrip their parents' generation in virtue and knowledge. They are all converts or reverts.

Grace is freely given.

God is preparing a great generation.

I can see this clearly

St. John Houghton, pray for us...........

“Good Jesu, what will ye do with my heart?” 

“I call on Almighty God to witness, and I beseech all here present to attest for me on the dreadful danger of judgement, that, being about to die in public, I declare that I have refused to comply with the will of His Majesty the King, not from obstinacy, malice, or a rebellious spirit, but solely for fear of offending the Supreme Majesty of God. Our Holy Mother the Church has decreed and enjoined otherwise than the king and Parliament have decreed. I am therefore bound in conscience, and am ready and willing to suffer every kind of torture, rather than deny a doctrine of the Church. Pray for me, and have mercy on my brethren, of whom I have been the unworthy Prior.

The Real Quest for the Holy Grail-on monks and knights pursuing God through the denial of self

One of the problems with modern culture is that good and decent stories or myths which pointed to purity of heart, sacrifice, and the ultimate union with Christ have been twisted either into action stories or games or sexual tales.

The Search or Quest for the Holy Grail is one of these numinous tales which has been ruined since the sexualization of the story in the 19th century,  especially by the Pre-Raphaelites. Before the twisting of the tale, which began with the stories of St. Joseph of Arimathea bringing the Grail to Britain, the stories were a combination of both Welsh and Christian myth.

Modern commentary emphasizes the pagan or at least, pre-Christian aspects, but if St. Joseph of Arimathea was involved, and why not, then the story is as old as the earliest days of the diaspora of the Catholics after the Death of Christ, and the earliest days of evangelization.

However, and I have taught a course on the Arthurian myths and earlier ones, including the earliest from the Mabinogion and Chretien de Troyes, and for me reading that thread of texts, I had come to the conclusion that the story was about the road to perfection in the interior life.

Let me explain. In the pre-19th century interpretations of the myth of the search for the chalice or cup of Christ, those who were seeking it had to experience two spiritual events..

Selfishness, self-absorption and snesuality had to be overcome in an interior battle which was paralleled by the outer battles.

Suffering followed oaths or vows of chastity and great patience was expected of the knights involved.

A waiting on God was part of the fortitude and courage of the knights.

But, many trials were undergone for purification of the senses and imagination.

Endurance was key. Suffering led to clarity of mind and purpose and a single-mindedness.  A loss of self led to the discovery of the Grail, or not, depending on personal holiness after the trials. None of the suffering made sense except as a process of purification and the teaching of endurance and patience.

All these traits were the same traits the monks were leaning in the monasteries. The lay person's quest would be the same, only is a different manner. The nobility of the lay life led to the same goals, with the same aspirations as the monk-this is clear in the writings of St. Bernard, for example, whose father and brothers were knights and who carried that same ideal of seeking perfection into Citeaux or Clairvaux.

The first difficulty was a trial of sacrifice and danger, which caused humility and increased holiness through suffering.

Now many people are familiar with this theme, which the Mozart picked up with the symbolism and ideas of Freemasonry in The Magic Flute.

The idea of men enduring trials in order to experience a purity of heart is not new. It is as old as humans are.

However, in the Grail myth, the purity included chastity and real sacrifice, including abstinence from various foods and even sleep and for the reason of finding the chalice of the Last Supper.

The trials of Gawain, for example, or Perceval  or others, were endured in order to find the Chalice used at the Last Supper.

Now, later interpretations changed this, and the earliest ones did not include this aspect. But, in the most familiar renditions, the Chalice and therefore, the Eucharistic Presence of Christ, were the goals of the Quest.

Frequently, a dragon or other beast had to be fought. All of these adventures, to me, indicate a myth which is  revealing the interior, spiritual battle of any man who wants to become perfect for the sake of the love of God. The struggle continues today.

The normal, sensual temptations had to be met and overthrown. Deprivation and wandering, war and battles,  poverty and hatred, even the giving up of lands or titles or positions, were part of the Quest.

Like the monks in the monastery who chose to be unknown, unrecognised  failures in the eyes of the world, these knights eventually discovered the emptiness and  the diminished self so that God could fill them with His Presence.

God meets us in suffering, but we cannot manipulate His coming. We can only endure and more, use the virtues given to us to persevere in suffering, which on the Quest.

These stories mirror the intensity and mystery of the workings of the Holy Spirit in our quest for perfection.

Patience is also part of these stories. And the meeting with the Fisher King was considered to be a meeting with Christ, or at least a Papal figure, pointing to the homage given to the Vicar of Christ and His Church.

The artwork reveals an understanding of the need to suffer and the necessity of letting God come to us in that suffering when He so desires. He asks us to join in His suffering and then, He comes to us in a unique way.

Perhaps this analogy with the Grail Quest will help some of you understand that nothing is easy about the road to perfection, but that the goal is worthy and necessary for our union with God.

On cops and robbers...oh, dear and bubbles...horrors

When we were kids, it was very common to play cowboys, or cowgirls and Indians, which now, of course, is politically incorrect. If we were "shot", we had to lay down and be quiet until we counted to ten and then get up and join the game again.

We had cowboy and cowgirl hats, holsters and play pistols, fringed vests, boots with logos...the whole enchilada.

Some kids played cops and robbers. We never hurt anyone, or anything, except the dandelions we landed on when "dead".

Am I violent? No. Are my brothers violent? No. Are my old playmates violent? No

People from that group are scientists, doctors, teachers, engineers and none of them have shot anyone.

Now, we have a school district in Maryland suspending boys for playing cops and robbers.

Good grief. Read this below. I grew up getting the Jack and Jill Magazine, an example of this is below. We were and are normal, well-adjusted adults.

But, we also have a sense of right and wrong....

This is like a friend of mine who did not want her boy growing up with male stereotypical toys. So, the child had no cars or trucks.

One day, in his little chair, at about age two and one-half, he chewed his piece of toast into a car and started saying "zoom-zoom". She gave up and went back to common sense instead of ideologies in raising her kids.

Cops and robbers teach children good and evil. Americans are becoming ridiculous.

Here is the "gun" which caused another incident, here depicted.

It appears that my contest between the United States and United Kingdom for the most inane government policy how has to be augmented by a new contest between Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Just yesterday, I mocked Maryland officials for suspending two little boys for the horrific crime of playing cops and robbers (and noted that this is not the first time such stupidity has been displayed by Maryland school officials).
Preferred Weapon of al Qaeda
Apparently, the pencil-neck bureaucrats in Pennsylvania are jealous that their neighbors are getting a lot of attention, so they’ve branded a five-year old girl as a terrorist threat for talking about her pink toy gun that shoots bubbles.
Yes, bubbles.
Here are some of the absurd details from a local news report.
Talking with a friend about a pink toy bubble gun got a five-year-old kindergarten girl in the Mount Carmel Area School District labeled as a terrorist threat, according to an attorney.The incident occurred Jan. 10 while the girl was waiting in line for a school bus, said Robin Ficker, the Maryland lawyer retained by the girl’s family. …Talking with a friend, the girl said something to the effect “I’m going to shoot you and I will shoot myself” in reference to the device that shoots out bubbles. 

Welcome New Readers

The blog has a number of new readers from Canada and Brazil.


Here are some of the countries where there are readers. The order is arbitrary.

United States
United Kingdom
Czech Republic
Saudi Arabia
South Korea
Costa Rica
Bosnia and Herzegovina
New Zealand
Hong Kong

On Spiritual Direction

"If you find a wise man, beat a path to his door".

From 1971 to 1987 and from 1995 until 2011, I had most of the time in my adult life, excellent spiritual directors.

I was fortunate to be around many priests in my life, especially in the States, and to be in contact with holy lay women. It helped that I was in academia and also a community for a while.

This all ended when I came to Europe for lengths of time. I have found one or two excellent Confessors who have given me direction in Confession, mostly in London and in Malta. I sought out a wise priest in Dublin, but he did not have time to do regular spiritual direction.

This is the problem. There are not enough priests and not enough holy lay women for a lay woman to have as spiritual directors.

But, this is some advice for those of you who need one and cannot find one.

Number one rule, if you are a married woman, your husband is your spiritual director. Only if he refuses to assume the role given to him by God should you seek someone else out. I was taught this a long time ago, and it should help single women choose good husbands, if they are in courtship. Ladies, ask yourself, could this man help me grow spiritually, not merely by default and through suffering, but in wisdom and strength?

The old, horribly false idea that the woman is the spiritual head of the family, as sometimes believed in Latin America and southern European families, is just plain "out of order" and therefore, wrong. I have heard young men say that they would rely on a spouse to lead the spiritual life of a family. No, no, no....

Proverbs 12:20
He that walketh with the wise, shall be wise: a friend of fools shall become like to them.

Holy Wisdom
Number two, singles need spiritual directors in order to discern their real vocations. One cannot merely go bumping along blindly. However, in these times, when there is a lack of priests and holy lay people, an excellent Confessor can be asked to direct. Some do, especially in the Westminster Diocese. It seems these priests, between 40-70, have training to ask the right questions and guide. Not all, but many...

Number three, all married men need a spiritual director. If one cannot be found, one must spend hours in front of the Lord in Adoration during the week. Men who are leading families, raising children and taking God into the world must have some grounding in the reality of the spiritual life.

Number four, the age to find one is when the young adult goes to college. When my son went to Thomas Aquinas College, there was a priest in every male dorm, having rosary meetings, open door policies for direction and private meetings as needed. They were all excellent. This is another good reason to encourage and if you as a parent are paying, sending your children to such colleges; Thomas Aquinas, Christendom, Ave Maria, Thomas More, Wyoming Catholic, Steubenville and so on of that ilk. Directors are available and the young adult gets into a habit of such direction.

Make sure the priest or lay person is absolutely orthodox, believing all that the Catholic Church teaches.

Direction in spiritual matters can come directly from God, of course. But, even in the Illuminative State, a person can veer off into heresy. Pride is always a temptation.

God will never abandon us. He provides.

Believe that.

Proverbs 1:5
 A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:

Perfection and Martyrdom

St. Thomas More recognized that the severe life of the Carthusian priors had prepared them for the moment of martyrdom. They were so in love with Christ and His Church that they seemed like bridegrooms going to their marriages.

Thomas More needed time to come to the state of Illumination where he was sharing the Passion and Death of Christ. At his death, he was most likely in the Unitive State.

This is the key to peace, joy and forgiveness at the moment of martyrdom.

His honesty with Meg reveals the need to become more perfect before death.

Margaret visited him on May 4 for the last time, and from the window of his cell they watched three Carthusian priors and one Bridgittine, who would not acknowledge a civil supremacy over the Church, go to their execution. "Lo, dost thou not see, Meg," he said, "that these blessed fathers be now as cheerfully going to their deaths as bridegrooms to their marriage? . . .
Whereas thy silly father, Meg, that like a most wicked caitiff hath passed the whole course of his miserable life most sinfully, God, thinking him not worthy so soon to come to that eternal felicity, leaving him here yet still in the world, further to be plagued and turmoiled with misery." A few days later Cromwell with other officials questioned him again and taunted him for his silence. "I have not," he said gently, "been a man of such holy living as I might be bold to offer myself to death, lest God for my presumption might suffer me to fall."

Humility is honesty. Here is a photo of the celebration of these Charterhouse Martyrs at the site of the old monastery. I have been there. It is numinous. This was an ecumenical service. 

I write these posts mostly for the Millennials, who will face the real tests I may escape simply because of age. 

Quote of the Day

"Originally, the weaned child was a metaphor for contentment, but now it is a symbol of frustration."

Terrence G. Kardong, Benedict's Rule: A Translation and Commentary.