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Friday 30 November 2012

From today's L'Osservatore Romano dated tomorrow

I have been verbally trying to deal with catechists and members of the new evangelization who keep making excuses for the ignorance of Irish adults (or American or British adults, for that matter). I am very concerned and have written on this blog and elsewhere that ignorance is no excuse. The Pope spoke about this today, and I am very grateful he did. If few listen to me, maybe they will listen to him. Young evangelists, stop making excuses for your parents and friends. Parents and Grandparents, stop making excuses for those younger. Stop. The link is on the first title.
Benedict XVI to the French bishops

The ignorance of the faith

The ignorance of the content of the faith is one of the most serious problems of our time and is an obstacle for the mission of the Church. Speaking to the third and final group of French bishops on their “ad limina” visit this morning, 30 November, the Pope explained that this ignorance mainly concerns the lack of understanding of the person of Jesus Christ and of the sublime and universal value of his teachings.
It is a problem which concerns many men and women “including many Catholic faithful”. For this reason, Benedict XVI added that the new evangelization “presents itself with particular urgency”. Above all because this kind of dual ignorance “causes in the new generations an inability to understand history” and to feel that they are heirs of a tradition, the Christian tradition, that “shaped European life, society, art and culture”. But the situation is such that if they want to reach the desired fruits of the new mission of evangelization it will be necessary to deeply involve the communities and parishes. And underlining the formation of the youth the Pope said “the Church in Europe and in France must not remain indifferent to the decline in vocations and priestly ordinations and other types of callings that God draws forth from the Church”. We must urgently “mobilize all available energies so that the youth may listen to the voice of the Lord”. Institutes of Catholic teaching are fundamentally important in this context so that “they are first in the great discussion between faith and culture”.
December 1, 2012

The Faces of Perfection-Youth

God has called all baptized Catholics to the life of perfection. As most of us are baptized when babies, this means that the grace given in baptism allows children to begin the life of virtue at a young age.

Why do we not urge children or adolescents to use the graces of the sacraments? 

There are too many child or adolescent saints to mention here but I want to highlight one. In October of 2007, when I was writing my first blog, Pope Benedict XVI beatified the 498 Spanish Martyrs.

Among those martyrs who died for their faith was 17. His name is Luis Abia Melendro and here are his details from
  • Nacido el 28/02/1919, en Abia de las Torres (Palencia), diócesis de Palencia
  • Sufrió el martirio el 30/11/1936 en Paracuellos de Jarama (Madrid), diócesis de Madrid-Alcalá, en la actualidad diócesis de Alcalá de Henares
  • Fecha beatificación: 28/10/2007
  • Lugar de la sepultura: Camposanto de Paracuellos de Jarama, diócesis de Alcalá de Henares
  • Fiesta: 6 noviembre
Look at the list of these young men, all Augustians, who are beatfied. The list is incomplete...They look like the seminarians I posted last night.......They all died in 1936, so you can figure out their ages.

Victor Cuesta Villalba                
Nemesio Díez FernándezBernardino Calle Franco


Nemesio García Rubio
                                             RAMIRO ALONSO LÓPEZ 

Dámaso Arconada Merino
                professed cleric, Augustinians born: 28 March 1915


                professed priest, Augustinians
                born: 17 August 1904 

                 professed cleric, Augustinians
                                               born: 17 May 1916 

                                             PEDRO CARVAJAL PEREDA 
                                                  professed cleric, Augustinians
                                             born: 01 August 1912 

                                           VICTOR CUESTA VILLALBA 
                                          professed cleric, Augustinians
                                           born: 13 May 1917 


                professed cleric, Augustinians

                born: 20 February 1913 


                professed cleric, Augustinians
                born: 17 June 1910 


                professed cleric, Augustinians
                born: 17 April 1912 

Now, some people say saints are born. I believe that we all can become saints, and therefore, sainthood is arrived by different paths. Martyrdom is one path. From one website on the Spanish martyrs is this quotation,

"Martyrdom" originally meant witness, the "martyr" is therefore a witness. The precise meaning from  the Second Century should be understood in light of the testimony of Jesus himself and for Him the Christian martyr is a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh (cf. Jn 1 14).

Martyrdom is a "test" of the truth of Christianity if, we can say, like a quality control. Martyrs mark with their lives the reality of what we believe and hope, unmasking the temptation to turn the realities believed into mere words, interpretations, ideas, symbols or projections.

Love is tested in the ability to suffer for the beloved, and that true love is tested with real suffering.

In the words of the Gospel: "No one has greater love than to lay down his life for his friends" (Jn 15:13).The believer shows his seriousness to the extent that he is willing to bear the cross and persecution, because faith is the acceptance of God not only by the assent of the mind or the feelings of the heart, but above all with the fidelity in the thick of life (cf. 1 Pet 1.6 to 9). 

The Christian awaits eternal life as well, the martyrs bet their existence radically therefore
(awaiting)  the expected, based on the promise of God. The martyr certifies with their blood the truth and value of the divine commandments pointing to eternal life, without falling into indifference, subterfuges, interest or cynicism. The same Church witnesses the mystery that sustains the martyrdom of Her children. Martyrdom is a well tested and  a crucible of Christian authenticity and consistency of the actuality of Jesus Christ. 
Blázquez Pérez, Ricardo: "Who is a Christian martyr?"
In González Rodríguez, María Encarnación (Ed.), Christian martyrdom .
EDICE, Madrid 2007. pp. 33-60. p. 35-36

Christmas in Coming


In less than four weeks, we shall celebrate the Birth of the Incarnate God. I pray that all Christians this year remember the great poverty Christ endured for us. Too often, we forget He is God.

Be generous with yourselves in giving to others. Do not take anything or anyone for granted. Make a good Advent by corporal and spiritual works of mercy, as well as fasting and prayer. Get together with those who support your Faith. We do not know the time or the hour....Can you imagine Joseph's amazement at the coming of the Messiah in utter rejection by His Own People? The heir to the fallen House of David had much to think about, and how he must have suffered in his inability to provide warmth and a safe place for Mary. He must have known that somehow, this suffering was God's Will.

Prayer for Priest Day--for Blogger-Priests

and, of course

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer for Priests

eternal High Priest, you offered yourself to the
Father on the altar of the Cross and through the
outpouring of the Holy Spirit gave your priestly
people a share in your redeeming sacrifice.
Hear our prayer for the sanctification of our priests.
Grant that all who are ordained to the ministerial
priesthood may be ever more conformed to you,
the divine Master. May they preach the
Gospel with pure heart and clear conscience.
Let them be shepherds according to your own Heart,
single- minded in service to you and to the Church
and shining examples of a holy,simple and joyful life.
Through the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
your Mother and ours,draw all priests and the flocks
entrusted to their care to the fullness of eternal life where
you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.



Thursday 29 November 2012

Fr. Z has this on facebook

Hope this helps those who want to be perfect--to God be the glory

Imagine going out with a friend on a cold winter's morning, and in the conversation, you said one, small lie. You realized it was a lie and went to Confession the next day, where the priest say it was not a lie. But, you knew it was a deceit, and a lack of trust.

Then, in the evening, when you walked into your dining room in the dark, you encountered a Presence so Pure, so Innocent, so Just, that you saw the horrific nature of that one, small lie.

In the room with such Goodness, the tiniest venial sin was an affront to Justice and Mercy, both.

Remorse and repentance immediately were given as graces. One had a glimpse of the Particular Judgement.

In discussions with some friends in Europe, this is an occurrence happening to some Catholics. They are experiencing a bit of their moment of death in order to repent and become perfect.

What they have encountered is Pure Love, and this Love is solid, like a rock, like a mountain, unfathomable and majestic. No one who has experienced this can deny that something unearthly happened. This Love is more real than reality around us.

This is a gift for some to help them understand God's Majesty and Goodness.

We shall condemn ourselves when we die. Christ said He does not condemn. He loves and in that love is our salvation or condemnation. But, now we have the chance to become perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect.

Do not think this is impossible. With grace, all things are possible. With God, Who is Love, all things are possible. Ask for perfection and you will be led to such a state, if you are willing.

Let your prayer be, "To God be only glory and may my life glorify Him. Let me do nothing which does not glorify His Name on the earth."

St. Paul and Perfection Part Four

Today in a different Carmelite Church, that on Clarendon Street, it was the memorial of two Carmelite priests martyred in Sumatra. Here is a short biography and prayer from the Carmelite website:

By the way, the priest said that we should pay attention to these and all martyrs as we are now living in a completely secularized world which is not conducive to Christianity. Good and poignant message....for Eire. And yes, they use the Communion rail.

Blesseds Denis & Redemptus

November 29: An Optional Memorial from the Common of Several Martyrs.

Denis of the Nativity, a priest, called in the world Pierre Berthelot, was born in Honfleur in France in 1600. He was a cartographer and naval commander for the kings of Portugal and France before he joined the Discalced Carmelites in Goa in 1635. It was also at Goa that the Portuguese lay brother, Thomas Rodriguez de Cunha, born in 1598, had made his profession in 1615, taking the name Redemptus of the Cross. They were sent to the island of Sumatra, where, in the town of Achen, they received the martyr’s crown on November 29, 1638. The picture is of Blessed Denis.

we celebrate the memory
of Blesseds Denis and Redemptus
who died for their faithful witnessing to Christ.
Give us the strength to follow their example,
loyal and faithful to the end.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.

However, what struck me was the First Reading from Romans 5:1-5, which fits nicely into the perfection theme. \In this passage, St. Paul writes a clear summary of the Illuminative Stage of the life of the virtues. One virtue leads to the next and the joy, the glory in suffering is real peace. In this passage, Paul's certainty of the love of God, and the word is caritas, indicates the Unitive Stage, at least the first steps. Paul knows the love of God in his heart by experience and therefore, everything else falls into place. There is no striving here, only cooperation with grace, and his boasting is not that at all, but a teaching method on the way of perfection. Notice that Paul explains that the Holy Spirit is in him-the Indwelling of the Trinity is a reality to Paul:

Romans 5:1-5

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition 
Being justified therefore by faith, let us have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ:
By whom also we have access through faith into this grace, wherein we stand, and glory in the hope of the glory of the sons of God.
And not only so; but we glory also in tribulations, knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience trial; and trial hope;
And hope confoundeth not: because the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us.

The Silencing of the Poets

Poetry and song are the stuff of Christianity. The Psalms are sung daily by all the monastic orders and said by all priests and many lay people through-out the world. St David gave us inspired poetry for the petitioning and praising of God.

We believe God is worshipped in music and song. What is more beautiful than the Mass for Five Voices by Byrd or the Mozart Requiem? The list of glorious music created in the Church and for the Church is long and hardy. Monteverdi composed the Vespers to Our Lady which is highlighted here.

And, from the days of Caedmon, the lowly poet raised to greatness in history by a poem of praise, have  led us to Gregorian Chant and the beauty of so many settings of the Psalms.

The Muslims  in Mali have forbidden, "a hereditary caste of bards and storytellers found across West Africa and commonly known by their French name, griot. For centuries, griots have directed ceremonies, smoothed over disputes, and served as repositories of history and genealogy"

The hadith forbids music and instruments, according to Allah. This is a great mystery to me. 

One of the great sadnesses for this tribe of people who have had their history interrupted by a new law, sharia law, is the loss of their culture and particular histories. It would be as if the choirs of England would be prohibited, as well as the historians silenced, and the genealogies destroyed. 

This is the taking away of personal, individual identity, and the destruction of the family, which is united by a common history and common heritage. 

Pray for our brothers and sisters in Mali, where the poets have been silenced.

Psychology vs. Spirituality

“Can human folly harbour a more arrogant or ungrateful thought than the notion that whereas God makes man beautiful in body, man makes himself pure in heart?” 
 Saint Augustine of Hippo

Some of you know that I taught in a seminary for a while. One of the things I noticed, as I was an academic adviser as well as a teacher, was the over-emphasis on psychology in opposition to spirituality. Psychological reports were part of all the seminarians' portfolios, and there was one required semester course on prayer. Each student had a spiritual director and for many years, a very liberal nun was allowed to choose priests for some of the sems. Spiritual direction did not necessarily include steps to self-denial, but could be merely times when students just talked. No great saints were recommended, such as St. Bernard or books by the great spiritual writers, such as Marmion or Garrigou-Lagrange. As in some of the monasteries, spirituality had been replaced by modern interpretations of sin, guilt and self-actualization. The Church suffers from a lack, an ignorance and even disdain of the past masters of prayer. One does not find God in psychology. It is a useful tool, which must be held in a lower place than prayer, reflection, meditation, contemplation.

The new approaches to sin and guilt minimize a truism only discovered in prayer and the Teaching of the Church; that is that God is so Pure, so Just, so Good that the smallest sin is a huge offence. This cannot be taught from a psychological point of view, but only from a life of prayer and grace. What is missing in discussions on one's relationship with God is God. When the emphasis is always on the person and not God, there can be no relationship which is real.

Psychology may lead to healing and a better knowledge of self, but so can prayer. A relationship with God demands death to self-will and selfishness. Psychology too often keeps the person focused on himself.

This is the beauty of the way of perfection and the stages, as well as the wisdom and genius of the Rule of St. Benedict. One must develop in a human way, absolutely, in order to develop spiritually  The two must go together. But, if spirituality is not taught in this context, a person may never seek God, only the self.

If the two are taught together, this is excellent, but I know only one person in the entire world who is capable of this depth of spirituality and psychoanalysis. The persons who do this must be holy and therefore, orthodox Catholics. 

“The world may disagree with the Church, but the world knows very definitely with what it is disagreeing. In the future as in the past, the Church will be intolerant about the sanctity of marriage, for what God has joined together no man shall put asunder; she will be intolerant about her creed, and be ready to die for it, for she fears not those who kill the body, but rather those who have the power to cast body and soul into hell.” 
Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

St. Paul and the way to perfection series continued

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition 
Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up;
Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall 
be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed
One may think that St. Paul is merely listing the attributes of caritas. He is doing more than that which reveals he is living in the Illuminative, and most likely, the Contemplative State. Why do I say this?
First, to understand caritas at this level is to not only have encountered Christ in his conversion, but to have the knowledge that Christ lives in his heart. In other words, St. Paul knows that real love only comes with this heart knowledge of the Indwelling of the Trinity.
He is the great saint, along with John the Evangelist, of real love, which is caritas. Let us look at the passage, frequently used at weddings. Why? Because in a good marriage, the highest form of caritas as described may be reached. Have hope, Catholic couples.
Patience may be a character gift as well as a gift of the Holy Spirit. I was not patient by nature until God allowed me to suffer over and over again. Then, patience became a way of life, very quickly. Like the homeless man who stands outside this apartment block only yards away all day, begging and getting pennies, his patience is a result of his intense suffering. That he does not fit into the system is none of my business. That he needs a sandwich and orange juice, yes. But, he is patience in his destitution. This is the giving up of expectations and the total reliance on God. I do not think this homeless man is a Catholic. He is a Romani, but who knows. He and I cannot understand each other in our separate languages. Why is he patient? Because he has been humbled. St. Paul in his list indicates a person who has died to self. 
Patience, long-suffering, kindness, humility come with the experience that God is with one in this suffering. The Crucified One comes and joins us in our suffering. Sometimes, He invites us and we have a choice in saying yes or no. This has happened to me. Raging against the invitation is just plain stupid.
Saying yes is the opening of the heart to God. St. Paul knows this in this passage. What is key is that these virtues become easy, very easy when one is in the Illuminative Stage. The life of virtue takes over the striving. Why? Because virtue becomes infused with the awareness of the oneness with Christ. 
A person does not become totally perfect at this point, but virtue is much easier, much.
Now, comes the tricky part. When one is aware of Christ with one constantly in suffering, a joy begins to "sit on the heart". St. Therese the Little Flower called it the "unfelt joy" but it is a subtle joy.
That is when one can bear with all things, hope all things, endure all things.

Thank, Wiki
I cannot endure the cold, yet. It is very painful for me to be cold as I have had frostbite and chilblains, (, and I feel pain in those several places when it is cold. Also, I get hypothermia very easily. I think this is one reason Mother Prioress knew I could not handle the monastic life. I was taking a hot water bottle into the chapel at night for Adoration as I was so cold. The good nuns have very light habits, bless them. And, I know the Nigerian nuns feel the cold. I could not sleep at night because of the cold. But, as some of the Cistercian manuals note, if one dies, does it matter? I am not there yet, to die of hypothermia; it mattered to me. But, perhaps, someday, as I am walking on this journey to perfection, I shall be at that place.

The hoping has to do with complete trust in Divine Providence, which takes away fear and anxiety and replaces it with a quiet trust. One stops asking from the laundry list of things at this point and merely trusts in God. One cannot dictate to the Father what is His Will. One can only follow and trust.
The knowledge St. Paul refers to is head knowledge as opposed to the knowledge of the heart. I hate to make this separation, as all of our faculties, mind, soul, heart, should be together.
But, here is an example. The bride knows her beloved loves her, not because she thinks it is so, but because she has experienced being treasured, honoured, loved.

So, too, St. Paul, who is living in the Love of God when he writes this, which if constant, is the Unitive State.

Do these states mean bad things stop happening and suffering stops? By no means and in fact, things can get worse because, as seen in the life of St. Paul, God asks for more and more. St. Francis said that his God never said "Enough".
To be continued....

Wednesday 28 November 2012

On the solitary life and Suarez--perfection series continued

Thanks, Wiki

Suarez continues his examination of the types of solitaries, and I felt a small bit of gratification in that he points out that the domestic solitary, that is the isolated lay person has no merit in being solitary, unlike the religious. Let me explain, as this fits into my long posts on the fact that there is not a vocation to the single life as a usual state.

Vows bring grace. No vows, no extra grace. Vows bring a status in the hierarchy of the Church and indicate that one is committed to becoming perfect.

Here is the rub for the lay person. The ordinary way for our perfection is through domestic relationships-that is, dying to self and rising to Christ by the denial of self in marriage as a spouse and as a parent. This is why I went to the Benedictines. In a religious order, one had vowed one's self in becoming perfect. In marriage, one vows one's self to becoming perfected in the marriage state.

No vows, no extra grace and no vocation, except, rarely, as in the caring for aged parents. The protection that SHOULD be in the monastery or convent in order to pursue holiness is a huge advantage, as is the state itself.  The "continuous inflow of obedience, the support of other brethren by means of their example and correction, other works of charity, may occasions of exercising all the virtues, especially those of humility  and charity, great custody and vigilance in the pursuit of perfection and the avoidance of defects..." help the nun or monk in ways we must experience to understand to a point.

However, I am convinced by the great saints and writers that the laity may aspire to these as well.

Patterns of sin so common in the world are broken in the monastery or convent.

But, in an excellent marriage, those same patterns may be broken. But, living alone does not help us reach perfection.

It is, as a young person with a room-mate told me recently, hard to live in peace and harmony with others. Yes, and that is the whole point.

If one can give one's entire soul, heart and mind to God being alone, that is a beginning. But one must interact with others in order to die to self-love and self-will. May God lead us all to the place where we can live out the vocation to perfection.

How sad; another disobedient priest-pray for him

I have been daily attending Mass at Whitefriar's in Dublin. No more. Today, an Irish priest used the word "cup" instead of chalice. After Mass, I approached him and asked him if the Carmelite usage was different and why he used cup. He said that he strongly disagreed with the new translation and that it was his own decision to use the old. I told him I was a Latinist and noticed the change and that chalice was a more exact rendering of the Latin. He agreed. But.... He told me that many people in America disagree with the new translation. Hmmm... I know the Mass I heard is illegal, that it is illicit. Comments, please, and pray for this priest's soul. He is in disobedience not only to his order, but to the Pope. Sad days, and I shall have to walk to another Church in the area and light my candles at other shrines.
Thanks, Wiki

Contemplation as a means and an end

Looking at Suarez and learning from my all too-brief time in the monastery, I am learning that contemplation is both a means and and end.

I wrote a few days ago about Ordinary and Extraordinary Contemplation. God calls us to both, but the first is much more attainable, as we cooperate in that, whereas the other is pure gift.

The means to union with God is through Ordinary Contemplation. Suarez uses a quotation and there is no reference (very old, 19th book)..."love of the truth delights in holy leisure". When I google it , I get the same reference which I am staring at in old leather and foxed pages. I am going to assume it is from St. Bernard, as he is the one being referred to most in this section of Suarez.

Let us look at this phrase. First of all, the love of truth is a very Benedictine ideal, and therefore, a Cistercian one as well. Sadly, this love of truth has been lost in some modern Benedictine monasteries, but the ideal to find the truth, through Scripture, the Fathers of the Church, the great philosophers, is all part of the Benedictine heritage. I am sorry so many have become blind to the great saints and authors of the past or, worse, anti-intellectual, for the pursuit of truth is an intellectual act. My three cats could not seek for Truth, as they were not made in the Image and Likeness of God. The seeking of Truth is, of course, the seeking for the knowledge of God.

The rest of the phrase, "delights in holy leisure"indicates something totally LOST in the 21st Century; that is, leisure, which is absolutely necessary for prayer, reflection, meditation and contemplation. Even the monastery where I stayed lack leisure because there are simply not enough nuns to do all the work and they actually have paid gardeners and gift-shop people paid by a government scheme. This is not good in my mind, but a sad necessity if the nuns are to keep up the gardens and the shop.

Lay brothers did those things and externs in the old days.

Busyness kills the soul. I am going to repeat that, busyness kills the soul. If you are too busy to pray and read Scripture daily as a lay person, you are too busy.

Contemplation is a means to union with God and Extraordinary Contemplation is the union we desire, and therefore the end.

To be continued...

Perfection Series Continued...Purgation in the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles

I shall try and trace the three stages of perfection in the Epistles of St. Paul. Before I do this, remind all, that is one disagrees with one of the main teachings of the Catholic Church, one cannot start this process except by repentance. The heart which sees God in purity cannot be outside the Truth, and that Truth is only found in the fullness in the Church.

Conversion comes first, then the journey of perfection. We have the sacraments to help us. No one outside of sanctifying grace can attain this union with God.

The first stage of purgation must not be avoided. This is a great time of suffering and go on for years and years. Suffering comes to us as God decides, not as we decide. Having had cancer, which is not in my family, is only part of my time of purgation. These sufferings are real and must be faced directly.

I know this from experience, as for years I tried to avoid suffering. Being a "fix-it" type of American, I thought suffering was to be "fixed". Well, after stretching out the time of purgation, I finally yielded to the Hand of God. That is what we all must do.

St. Paul's period of purgation most likely occurred after his dramatic conversion and in that mysterious time after his sight was restored by Ananias. This time, according to scholars, could have been as long as six to ten years. Taking the lowest guess of six years, this would be a time of purgation for the saint who had persecuted the Christians, and, therefore, Christ, must have been in a desert situation to drop so completely out of the narrative of Luke. As I noted on the post on monks, he could have been with "religious", reflecting, praying, studying the Scriptures which applied to Christ, and repenting of sin-both serious and venial. The purgation stage prepares us for the life of the virtues and for the reception of the illuminations of truths, the mysteries of Christ's life and the virtues-in other words, prepares us for infused knowledge. St. Paul, as I have pointed out in Colossians  and in other sections which I shall highlight, did experience that illumination. But no one gets to stage two without stage one.

The problem of the flesh St. Paul describes cryptically  asking God to remove this cross only three times (how many times do we pray for removal of suffering) was not answered positively by God. St. Paul had to endure that pain. This is part of his purgation and more. It does not matter what it was. St. Francis had problems with his eyes, and St. Bernadette had tuberculosis of the bone. What matters is the manner of acceptance. I do not think his shipwrecks or scourgings were part of his purgation. He seems to have already been one with Christ in order to be in joy and with the Crucified One at those times. But, I am getting ahead of myself here.

"And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure" (2 Corinthians 12:7).

"Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me" (2 Corinthians 12:8). 

An unbroken succession of those seeking perfection from the time of Christ....

Suarez has this idea that the apostles were religious before they were made clerics. What this means is that the apostles were living, or indeed maybe made vows like a religious of poverty, chastity and obedience when living with Christ and going out and evangelizing. That they were made priests at the Last Supper is a teaching of the Church.  Suarez notes that the apostles were, therefore, clerical in their religious state, as the goal of their lives was preaching, teaching, and eventually offering up the Sacrifice of the Mass.

Such a religious state would involve the pursuit of perfection. We have a hard time seeing this unless we look very closely at the Gospels. One is always aware of St. Peter's denial of Christ and his subsequent sorrow, and forgiveness by Christ. This should not get in the way of the establishment of the hierarchical Church, with St. Peter are the First Pope.  Suarez notes that this call to the religious life could, therefore, be as unbroken as the priesthood, the apostolic succession. That would be wonderful if we could prove this, as we can apostolic succession.

Suarez notes that there were monks before Anthony and that from Anthony to Basil, from Basil to Augustine and from Augustine to Benedict, there is an unbroken line of religious. Not all would be clerics or priests, but many would be.

Suarez writes that Pope Urban speaks of the primitive religious state at being obvious  224 years from the birth of Christ. This looks to me like a good case for the unbroken line of religious down to the present day.

Why is this important? The priesthood is obviously important, but the fact that monks set themselves aside for the pursuit of perfection is important as well.

Think on this, 2012 plus years of continuous religious seeking the perfection of their souls, minds and hearts with the aid of the Trinity. Awesome!

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Perfection Series continued...We are Martha and Mary

To call something the active life or the contemplative life indicates the means to an end. The end is the same-oneness with God in heaven.

To be in the active life, one is in the world and doing things. Nuns and monks in the contemplative life do things as well. In fact, some monasteries are very, very busy with guests, book-stores, gift-shops, retreats, seminaries, tours, classes etc. Some are, frankly, too active and the contemplative life suffers.

In the real contemplative orders, silence is a necessity for spiritual growth. This would be found in the extreme with the Carthusians and in a lesser, but still pronounced form in the Cistercians. Silence has been written about by many authors and one can look at the rich group of books concerning the importance of silence and the interior life.

In the active life, such as that of the lay person or the active orders which teach, nurse or whatever, the action they do purifies them and makes them perfect. That is the call. Martha is a saint, just as Mary is.

Works of mercy and hospitality in the Benedictine orders sometimes take over the contemplative side. Benedictine orders with schools have had a particular challenge, or, as in America and England, where the Benedictines by necessity had to go into parishes for centuries to help bishops by request, the need to be active is obvious. I have met at least one monk who did not want to take over a Benedictine parish, but was asked to by his abbot, as the bishop needed a monk-priest there. He suffered being outside the community.

On the other hand, I also know a monk-priest, who on retiring after many years in a parish, missed his people and had a hard time adjusting back to community life in the monastery. Such as the dangers of the active life for the monk-priest.

Nuns can experience similar trials if they have guest houses. Part of the problem is that the orders have shrunk in numbers. Imagine, some of the Cistercian houses in the Middle Ages had 700 monks and lay brothers. Amazing. What kind of ministries these orders fulfilled is the stuff of history.

I believe that there are contemplatives in the lay life. I consider myself one. I spend hours in silence daily, with a rhythm of prayer and work. This is what I see is my vocation. Does not bring in the money, however, but writing, researching, praying, do manual labour forms my day. The overlap of work and prayer needs to be protected by a stability I have not yet found. God willing.

The stability of the orders is not merely to perfect the Rule of Benedict but to form a stable, secure background for the intensity of the monastic life. It is intense.

The orders which are suffering from low numbers have a great challenge of meeting all the needs of the community and the ministries.

But, Suarez points out that this blanket separation of active and contemplative is not the best. He refers to Jesus, who spent His nights in prayer and was very active healing, preaching, teaching in the daytime.

Laity can enter into this type of life and I believe many of us are called to perfect our souls, hearts, and minds in such a balance.

How? Suarez is brilliant in his understanding of Christ's rebuke of Martha. Suarez states this: Mary represents the better PART of the life which is both active and contemplative. WOW!

It is not an either/or but a both/and...Martha and Mary represent people who loved Christ because they  knew how to both be active and contemplative. Both are saints. Mary's part in the scene is the higher role, but we must DO BOTH. Martha need not complain, as she has access to both worlds, as does Mary and the point is there is time and place for both. With Christ in the room, sit down, and listen, and absorb the love. Be with the Bridegroom and do not let anxiety take away the peace of contemplation. I have seen this in women who do not stop to enjoy the love of their husbands and must be too busy, instead of just being.

Before I read Suarez, I did not think of this, nor have I heard a sermon on such. This idea make Garrigou-Lagrange's call of perfection for the laity all the more understandable.

To be continued....

900 years of the recognition of the Knights Hospitallers

Next year, 2013, is the 900th year of the Founding of the Knights of Malta, the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, known as the Hospitallers. This order was formally recognized with the Bull of 15 February 1113 Papal Bull, Pie postulatio voluntatis by Pope Pascal II. 
I shall do a mini-series on the order soon.  

Dear St. Joseph

I found this page on line which lists all the things, places and people for which St. Joseph is patron. Here is the link.

I am highlighting him today because a person who is angelic in my life suggested I pray to him, which I did, in the form of a novena.

Joseph is the type of man who is a Protector. May St. Jospeh answer my prayers soon and yours as well. I shall share with you when this good man, this humble saint, answers my plea.

Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.
Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls - Pray for me.

This prayer was found in the fiftieth year of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In 1505 it was sent from the Pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle. Whoever shall read this prayer or hear it or keep it about themselves, shall never die a sudden death, or be drowned, not shall poison take effect of them; neither shall they fall into the hands of the enemy; or shall be burned in any fire, or shall be overpowered in battle.

Say for nine mornings for anything you may desire. It has never been known to fail, so be sure you really want what you ask.

Cute gets attention-multiple post day

Cute fish day...

Multiple post day and more to come tomorrow....

The End of Catholic Eire--Front Page of Irish Times for Abortion

And, update

selling out to the EU...

ANALYSIS: The commitment by Taoiseach Enda Kenny that Fine Gael will impose the whip to ensure the passage of legislation covering abortion in limited circumstances is a clear signal that there will not be any serious conflict between the Coalition parties on the issue.
Kenny’s comments yesterday reflect the broad consensus in both Government parties about the need to deal clearly and decisively with the abortion issue in the light of the European Court of Human Rights judgment and the death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway University Hospital.
The vast majority of TDs from both parties have been guarded in their comments since the Savita case. They were determined not to say anything to inflame the situation as they feared being dragged back into the kind of bitterness that characterised debate on the abortion issue in previous decades.
While a number of Fine Gael TDs had expressed reservations at a parliamentary party meeting last October about legislating for abortion, the mood in the party has been tempered by the tragic event in Galway and by the emerging shape of the Government response to the European Court judgment.
The party’s TDs have been reassured by the indications that the legislation is likely to provide a legal framework for existing medical practice in situations where a mother’s life is in danger rather than providing for a wider abortion regime.

and check out yesterday's articles as well

Fine Gael members and the Labour Party in Eire will push abortion through as the law of the land very soon. This could happen in weeks, not months. Eire had lost its soul, and anyone who thinks otherwise is merely living in deceit. 

The abortion center of Marie Stopes opened a month ago in Belfast and all is ready here for the same type of abortion mills. Malta will be the only country holding out, and that country is also under pressure to change the law. Catholics have only themselves to blame. Only 25% of Catholics in this country go to Sunday Mass and of those, some support contraception. 89% of the Irish claim to be Catholic, but the immigrant population is huge and mostly, except for the Polish people, not Catholic.

The Catholics are responsible for this horrible turn of events. The nation should be in mourning.

From LifeSiteNews on line:

The Irish Times reports that Labour party backbenchers will be “under pressure” from the party to vote for former Socialist TD Clare Daly’s revamped abortion Bill this Wednesday. The Times quoted Labour Senator Ivana Bacik saying, “It will be difficult to oppose Clare Daly’s Bill without some statement of intent to legislate.”
Minister Howlin told the state broadcaster RTE, “We have an expert group now to tell us in very considered detail how [to legislate on abortion] and I have no doubt that this Government will act very speedily in a measured, calm way to provide for that instruction from Supreme Court.”
The report by the government-appointed expert group on abortion will be brought to Cabinet tomorrow and is set to be made officially public next week. In sections that have already been leaked, however, the report presents several options for dealing with the legal situation on abortion, while prioritizing legislation that would legalize “limited abortion.” It recommends an appeal process for women who have been refused abortions and that the minister of health create centers for “terminations” to be committed.

and also