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Tuesday 28 August 2012

On virtues, commitment and perfection

We have a culture of priests who deny that perfection can be sought. Many singles in the confessional hear priests denying the role of discipline and obedience in the lay life. The priests' ideas reflect the aberrations of the culture. Instead of shaping the culture, they have succumbed to the falsity of individualism and selfishness.

There are so many distractions in the single world which have ZERO spiritual value. For those who choose the religious life, or the priesthood today, means that they choose a context of people praying every day, sharing 6:30 Vespers, and having a talk about the Blessed Virgin Mary afterwards over breakfast. But, one must choose that way or marriage. Marriage, if one works at it, is a way to heaven through a different spirituality.

Work for single people, run by single people leaves no spirituality or substantive recreation. 

Single people even go to work on holiday, being career-centric. This has been the case for over 100 years. Blaming the Enlightening is an excuse for the lack of spirituality. The single life is a reaction to the family. It is rebellion. This generation lives in reaction, as they have no common ground. Those single people have no common frame of reference even in pop culture.

This generation of singles is not homogeneous in any way, even in recreation.

In the past, there was a blending of single activities and married and family activities. The culture is, perhaps, in some places finding communal values, but the single people never see families-they have never seen a successful family or even a baby. Seriously, I have had young people tell me that have never held a baby.

We grew up in neighbourhoods swarming with kids. We took care of our brothers and sisters, as well as other babies from other families. 

That the culture of priests reflections the individuality of this generation at the level of accepting a false view of society is dangerous. Perfection can only be found in relationships. 

If this generation is not encouraged by priests to seek perfection in a community and not encouraged to seek holiness at all, they will not reach the level of holiness God has called them to achieve. I believe this and so do some religious, with whom I have spoken..

Think, reflect, act.

Fungi collecting...

For you to think and look at on a Tuesday morning...fungi collecting in Japan.

Thanks to Wiki

the violence of affliction...clarifies the good

Thanks, wiki

Wherefore, though good and bad men suffer alike, we must not suppose that there is no difference between the men themselves, because there is no difference in what they both suffer. For even in the likeness of the sufferings, there remains an unlikeness in the sufferers; and though exposed to the same anguish, virtue and vice are not the same thing. For as the same fire causes gold to glow brightly, and chaff to smoke; and under the same flail the straw is beaten small, while the grain is cleansed; and as the lees are not mixed with the oil, though squeezed out of the vat by the same pressure, so the same violence of affliction proves, purges, clarifies the good, but damns, ruins, exterminates the wicked. And thus it is that in the same affliction the wicked detest God and blaspheme, while the good pray and praise. So material a difference does it make, not what ills are suffered, but what kind of man suffers them. For, stirred up with the same movement, mud exhales a horrible stench, and ointment emits a fragrant odor.

Happy Feast Day of St. Augustine

JonathanCatholic Again

Jesus, Mary, and the Pots

In this post, I would like to give you all a meditation on one of my favorite Scripture passages from the Gospel according to St. John 2:1-11, with two supporting passages.

“And the third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage. And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine. And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come. His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye. Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures apiece. Jesus saith to them: Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And Jesus saith to them: Draw out now, and carry to the chief steward of the feast. And they carried it. And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water; the chief steward calleth the bridegroom, And saith to him: Every man at first setteth forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse. But thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee; and manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him.”- St. John 2:1-11, Douay-Rheims

With that in mind, read these two passages of Sacred Scripture:

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of the power of God, and not of us.”- 2nd Corinthians 4:6-7, Douay-Rheims

“There was a woman once that appealed to Eliseus (more commonly known today as Elisha the Prophet) for aid; her husband had been among the disciples of the prophets. Master, she said, you knew my husband for a faithful servant of yours, and one that feared the Lord. Now he is dead, and here is a creditor of mine that will come and take away my two sons, to be his bondsmen. What would you have me do for you? asked Eliseus. How much have you by you? My lord, she answered, I have nothing left in my house at all but a drop of oil to anoint myself with. Go then, said he, and borrow empty jars from all your neighbours, and do not stint yourself. Then go home, and lock the door on yourself and your two sons within; fill all these jars with the oil, and set them aside when they are full. So the woman went, and locked the door on herself and her two sons, and they began holding out the jars for her, while she filled them. When she had filled them, and, asking one of her sons for a fresh jar, was told that he had no more, the oil gave out.”- 4th Kings 4:1-6 (more commonly known today as 2nd King 4:1-6) Msgr. Ronald Knox Bible

In the first passage from the Gospel according to St. John, we can see an incredible allegory hidden just under the surface. St. Paul tells us that, mystically, we can be likened to earthen vessels, literally, clay pots or jars. Before conversion, we are hollow and filled with merely ourselves, just like the clay pots that Our Lord ordered to be brought to Him were empty, and then filled with only water. At His command, however, the formerly destitute pots are filled with wine, the physical sign of the Blood of Christ. This is a fantastic allegory for the Christian life. When our strength as mankind had failed utterly, just like the wine, symbolizing life, had failed at the Wedding in Cana, Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, came forward in His human nature, and transformed by His grace, through the intercession of Mary as we see in this passage, our poverty into His riches, our destitution into His royalty, and our beggary into His Life, His very self, His Blood in the Eucharist. All of this is done not separate from, but rather in cooperation with, the intercession of Mary in accordance with the will of God. And what command to we hear ringing in Our Lady’s grace-filled decree? “Do whatever He tells you.” This is our standing orders for our Queen, to bend the knee to Christ the King, and to do everything that He tells us. So shall we be filled with the Blood of Jesus Christ, which is Life and Love Itself. For we have this excellency in earthen vessels, says the divine and blessed Apostle, the Light of God shining forth in the darkness, present in and with our souls, infused into our very being, making us the light of the world in the Light Himself.

In the second passage, as well, we may see a likeness to the Christian life in allegorical form. This allegory fits perfectly with the allegory from St. John chapter 2, as we shall see. In this picture, we see presented to the holy Prophet a great famine in the land of Israel. Prosperity has turned into poverty, and lady was saddled with a debt that she could not possibly pay, such that her very children were to be taken into slavery to that man to whom she owed the debt. The olive oil was consequently so scarce that there was barely a drop remaining. And when he, the Prophet of God, comes upon this sad state of affairs, what does he do? He multiplies by grace the oil, filling all of the earthen vessels, until there is no longer any remaining. There is enough oil to fill all of them, so much in fact, that the ocean of oil floods over and annihilates the debt owed by the lady to the creditor. Now apply this to the Christian life: the People of God, Israel, were in a great famine prior to the coming of Our Lord Jesus. There was a great famine in the land, more real and more gripping than any physical famine. There was a famine of the knowledge of God, and a great bondage to sin, which gripped the souls of men and forced them into slavery, to sin and to the one who had the power of sin, the devil. Here enters Our Lord and Our Lady. Jesus Christ comes and willingly takes upon Himself the nature of a slave, being made in the likeness of men, and dies under the hand of evil sent from the devil to attempt to consume Him, taking our debt upon Himself. And He is not by Himself and alone; the true Lady, whose Son He is, participates in His sorrowful Passion and watches her Son being given over to death and the punishment of sin for our sake. She willingly offers Him up for our benefit, and assumes the role of the destitute and devastated Mother, thought she was the most blessed creature who ever existed. Before the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ, was born of Mary His Mother, the Holy Spirit was scarce and not to be found in His personal fullness among Israel. Just as the oil, which is a symbol for the Holy Ghost, was so gloriously multiplied so as to fill all earthen vessels, so too after the Passion of Christ was the Holy Ghost poured out most abundantly upon the Church and even unto today such that not a single soul in the Church need be destitute of His powerful and plenteous Presence. And in this Almighty Spirit, as St. Paul says, there is liberty, and freedom from the weight of sin, to which we were hopelessly in debt prior to the grace of God. We have such a treasure, says the divine and blessed Apostle, dwelling in our earthen vessels, the Body and Blood of Christ, and His Spirit; and in them, all Life.

Inspiration for this expanded meditation was received from Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, with supplemental material from Dr. Scott Hahn, professor at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.