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Monday 30 July 2012

Posts, comments and a few notes....

I have been astounded at the negative and personally insulting comments on the subject of femininity. I find this totally ironic, that a subject on Catholic culture, which has been obviously a problem in modern times, should cause such virulent reactions. I am most surprised at my sisters in Christ who are so angry. Why anger?

I would like to address a few points.

1) As on all blogs, this is my blog with both my opinions and Catholic teaching. When I give Catholic teaching, I use sources and quote texts. That should be clear to most readers. All blogs are similar and if one does not like a certain blogger, there are many others to look at on the Net.

2) Ad hominem arguments are never allowed to be printed. If one attacks the Pope, a teacher, or me, your comment goes into the bin. One needs to learn how to argue and not merely vent. I taught logic for years, as well as argumentation and some comments get an "F" grade. Follow the arguments and do not interject your own off the subject or use personal attack.

3) Why women are so upset at the clothing and modesty posts is really interesting to me. I am going to think about this fact a bit more.

4) Why some people keep referring to before and after Vatican II is also a mystery. Modesty is timeless, and acting life a woman and looking like a woman is timeless. Vatican II has nothing to do with how women dress. Sin does. There were books on modesty before Vatican II. They were in my classrooms at school and in my mother's classrooms. This is not a new topic in Catholic education or culture, but it is more pressing.

5) Men do not cause women to behave badly and women do not cause men to behave badly. We are all responsible for our own behavior.

6) I write for Catholics and those interested in Catholicism and for Christians who are open to hearing a Catholic point of view. I do not write for the entire world. Look at the title of the blog-A Traditional Catholic Blog. If one does not want a traditional Catholic viewpoint, I am sure there are hundreds of liberal blogs one can follow. Why waste my time and yours trying to change the blog?

7) I am a word-smith. I choose my words carefully. If one does not like a word, then give me a good argument on the word choice, not some rant about your ideology.

8) Catholic culture is fast disappearing. If one has never experienced it, I am sorry. I am trying to revive concepts which were taken for granted a mere 40 years ago. If young people do not believe that women wore hats or veils and dressed up for Mass, or that men also dressed up, you only have to look at old photos online of Mass attendance. I do not make things up.

9) Even when I was in graduate school in the early 1980s, most students wore skirts to Mass. Most girls dressed up. Where and when the rot set in I am not sure.

10) Androgyny is an evil ploy of the devil to fight the fact that God created us male and female. Satan hates the family structure, the Church, real men and real women. Satan hates Beauty, Who is God. Satan has created the Cult of the Ugly and androgyny. That can be a subject of another post here.

On Pride, Eustace and Peter Pan Men

It is in adversity that we are released from pride. However, Garrigou-Lagrange also tells us that we need to be healed of pride. But, he is not easy on us. The healing takes place in the adversity, in the contradictions.

Too many people fall for pop psychology which basically tells us we should go out and buy chocolate, or even sin in order to find healing. I sometimes think the mad dash for holidays and vacations for which western people spend millions of money each year is a misplaced seeking for healing and refreshment which can happen in one's own home.

Healing of the spiritual life is not a 20th century invention. The Catholic Church, especially in the Thomistic, Scholastic tradition has built upon the Scripture passage, Jeremiah 3:22. When I first read this passage many years ago, I almost jumped out of my seat at university. I realized that I had to cooperate with God as to healing my sins. Return, you rebellious children, and I will heal your rebellions. Behold we come to thee: for thou art the Lord our God.

This is why Confession is such a great sacrament and if possible, we should go weekly. God can heal us then.

So, the purification IS the healing. This concept may be earth-shaking to many people. We think in our modern era that healing is "warm fuzzies". No, healing is like the skinning of the dragon's layers in C. S. Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (I have read the book, but not seen the new movie). Eustace must be healed of his horrible character defects learned and formed in a liberal family and liberal school environment. Lewis was prophesying future generations of awful kids growing into awful self-centered adults, who cannot see their own sin of pride.

We really hate Eustace and cannot stand his complete insensitivity to the needs of others. He is a dragon inside as well as outside. Without purification, Eustace would have grown up as another Peter Pan man, a theme on this blog. He would have been horribly without courage and self-less-ness. He would have remained a dragon within, only wanting to sit on gold with poisonous breath and deceitful eyes.

Let us hope we can all be so healed and repentant, allowing God to purify us.

Again on Pride and Its Remedy

Catherine of Siena is quoted by Garrigou-Lagrange. She states, " O cursed pride, based on self-love, how hast thou blinded the eye of their intellect, that while they seem to love themselves and be tender to themselves, they are in truth cruel. . . . They are really in the greatest poverty and misery, for they are deprived of the riches of virtue and have fallen from the heights of grace into the depths of mortal sin. They seem to see, but are blind for they know neither themselves nor Me." 

We must be hard on ourselves. So what are the virtues which remedy pride?

The Dominican tells us this:...a profound purification is needed. That which we impose on ourselves is not sufficient; there must be a passive purification by the light of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which causes the bandage of pride to fall away, opens our eyes, shows us the depth of frailty and wretchedness that exists in us, the utility of adversity and. humiliation, and finally makes us say to the Lord: "It is good for me that Thou hast humbled me, that I may learn Thy justifications." (29) "It is good for us sometimes to suffer contradictions, and to allow people to think ill of us. . . . These are often helps to humility, and rid us of vainglory." (30) It is in adversity that we can learn what we really are and what great need we have of God's help: "What doth he know, that hath not been tried?" (31)
After this purification, pride and its effects will gradually be felt less. A person, instead of letting himself fall into jealousy toward those who have more natural or supernatural qualities, tells himself then that, as St. Paul remarks, the hand ought not be jealous of the eye, but, on the contrary, it should be happy because it benefits from what the eye sees. The same is true in the mystical body of Christ; far from becoming jealous, souls ought to enjoy in a holy manner the qualities they find in their neighbor. Though they do not possess them themselves, they benefit by them. They should rejoice over everything that cooperates in the glory of God and the good of souls. When this is the case, the bandage of pride falls away and the soul's gaze recovers its simplicity and penetration, which make it enter little by little into the inner life of God.

How hard this is to be contradicted. How hard it is not to really care what others think of us, and we must ask God to purify us. The remedy is thinking on God and realizing that all we have is from Him-all.

The remedy is the opposite of what the modern world tells us.

The remedy for pride is to tell ourselves that of ourselves we are not, that we have been created out of nothing by the gratuitous love of God, who continues freely to preserve us in existence; otherwise we would return to nothingness. And if grace is in us, it is because Jesus Christ redeemed us by His blood.

The remedy for pride is also to tell ourselves that there is in us something inferior to nothingness itself: the disorder of sin and its effects. As sinners, we deserve scorn and all humiliations; the saints have thought so, and they certainly judged better than we.
If we feel the sting of honest criticism, we are too proud. If we dislike people speaking against us, even unfairly, we are too proud. Better that I am thought less and not considered, than to be living in pride.

St. Catherine, pray for us.

A test...

The Feeding of the Five Thousand
John 6: 1 - 15

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiber'i-as.And a multitude followed him, because they saw the signs which he did on those who were diseased.Jesus went up on the mountain, and there sat down with his disciples.Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a multitude was coming to him, Jesus said to Philip, "How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?"This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.Philip answered him, "Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little."One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him,"There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?"10 Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand.11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost."13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten.14 When the people saw the sign which he had done, they said, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!"15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

This is a personal passage for me and has been since 1972. What I heard for the first time in Sunday Mass was the fact that Christ was testing the apostles. As the priest said, they were managing the feeding as if they were company managers-how much money do we have, how much do we need, what about this, what about that?

We must stop and trust in Providence for all things. All.

Thought on Perfection

See how the perfection of the Cross is folly in the eyes of the world precisely because it embraces what is abhorrent to human nature. It loves correction and submits to it; it not only takes pleasure in being corrected, but has no greater pleasure than in being reproved and corrected for faults and failings. They will arrive at the highest degree of perfection.

 St. Francis de Sales

God, give us the grace to have joy in correction. Give us patience and purity of heart. Help us to desire correction. Help us to desire community and relationship and open the doors for this to happen.

The Sin of Pride and Connected Sins

Continuing the discussion on Garrigou-Lagrange, one can see the definitions of sin clearly in his book. Some readers have asked me to define some of these sins, so  I shall continue to do so. The opposing virtue which combats the sin is extremely important. Before that, I want to give some reasons why we must intellectually understand sin and virtue.

Father Ripperger gave a great series of talks years ago, which may be online. He was in the Midwest at the time and some of my seminarian friends have heard him as well. One of the things he stressed over and over was that only the perfect see God and that we all must cooperate with God in our intellect, wills, appetites and all our faculties. I remember years ago a young person telling me that it was "too hard" to be a Catholic. He had a good point. But, one can chose the narrow way or the wide way.

We have to perfect our faculties. We cannot change our human nature. Father Ripperger pointed this out. Who we are, he stated, are adopted children of God and heirs of heaven. We can only be just in Christ. This is a paraphrase from one of his talks:

If God see Himself in you, He sees our Love for Him. He love us in and as our Nature, please God is more..

Ripperger said that all the saints go through the same spiritual stages of the spiritual life. We cannot skip any stages.

Now, I am going to share one of the biggest points he made which is why I am using Garrigou-Lagrange. Ripperger notes that many theologians lost their faith when spirituality dissolved into feelings. 

I cannot stress this enough. In order to participate in the Indwelling of the Holy Trinity, Who comes to us in Baptism and Confirmation, we must be aware that grace builds on what God has given us in nature. We must use our faith and our reason, allowing grace to infuse our minds.

This is why I write this blog. This is why I started writing in 2007.

Now back to the Great Garrigou-Lagrange.

I could write on pride for a year and a day and not finish all the ins and outs of this sin. It is the primal sin.

For us, it could mean thinking we are better and smarter than anyone else. It could mean that we want to micro-manage our lives and those of others. It would mean that we speak down to others, or think evil of them when there is no evil there.

In another post, I mentioned that pride leads to other sins: vainglory, lying, curiosity, arrogance, presumption, rebellion, and failure to recognize one's faults.

This last one is why we need to be in community and why we need to be in relationship with others.

In slang, some of us say "Oh, she is full of herself". That is the person who has given in to the list of sins above. One of the sins under pride according to St. Bernard, to whom we owe the above list, is singularity.

Singularity is the sin of wanting to be the odd person out all the time. This sin is like purposeful eccentricity.  We may even think we are unusual, and not like others. This is distinctly pride.

That we are like all our brothers and sisters is true and that we are unique is true. But to purposefully try and be different for the sake of difference is pride. Garrigou-Lagrange says that pride perverts judgement, as it colors the way we see things.

To be continued...