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Thursday 22 November 2012

No Fear

I did not understand the phrase that love drives out fear until I experienced it. Now, as an intellectual, one would think that I could have reasoned this point out in my life-but no.

The Perfect Love that drives out fear is not our love, puny and incomplete and impure as that is, but the Love of God Himself. Once He has revealed that Love to one, or to be more exact, once a person is open to that Love, fear disappears. I can say this is a truism.

Not that one is foolhardy, but a quiet knowledge takes over which is stronger than fear. This knowledge is that God dwells within me and is always, yes, always with me. 

How can one fear under that circumstance? St. Paul states, in Romans 8:31, What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who is against us?

Does one experience pain? Yes, and sickness and poverty and ridicule and sufferings of all sorts.

It no longer matters. 

God is there is all of the negative experiences. All is redeemed in Christ. 

Totally trusting in Divine Providence is a gift and for me, a healing. I begged God for this for a long time. He has been merciful. Original sin, the sins of others against me and my sin have been swallowed up in the knowledge that God is within me. Sadly, the new agers and especially the TM people have taken this phrase up as a mantra. Do not be fooled. 

The God within is Christ, the Father and the Holy Spirit and there is only one way to discover Him and that is through the Crucifixion. There is nothing magical or easy or fair about the process. St. Paul makes a list of the sufferings he endured. Why? To brag? No he did not, but to show us the way.

Why do we have to go through all this suffering? Because of our self-will and impurity. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8.

As God is Pure, we must become like Him and if we allow Him, He will do this. Pray, listen, watch, beg, repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

Sent to me from a friend in the, huh?

First Thanksgiving Was Actually Catholic

It Was a Traditional Latin Mass of Thanksgiving in St. Augustine, in 1565. Fifty five years before the Pilgrims Landed at Plymouth Rock.
History books have long portrayed images of the US’s first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts, with Pilgrims, dressed in black and white, sharing turkey with American Indians. (It should be noted that the Pilgrims, who came to America to escape religious persecution from the Anglicans, were themselves the perpetrators of religious persecution. When they had been in power, they had gone around the English countryside destroying Anglican altars and liturgical accoutrements because the Anglican Church was too “papish” for them. No wonder they were “persecuted.”)
To the contrary, the research of Michael Gannon, an expert on Florida colonial history and professor of history at the University of Florida, over twenty years ago revealed that St. Augustine, the US’s oldest city, was the site of the first Thanksgiving. This first Thanksgiving took place in 1565, 55 years before the Pilgrims landed, when the Spanish founder of St. Augustine, Pedro Menindez de Avilis, and 800 Spanish settlers shared in a Mass of Thanksgiving. Get that? A Mass. A Traditional Latin Mass.
Following the Mass, Menindez ordered a communal meal to be shared by the Spaniards and the Seloy Indians who occupied the landing site. Prof. Gannon, in his book, The Cross in the Sand, states that the nation’s first Thanksgiving menu would most likely have consisted of what the Spanish settlers had with them during their voyage: cocido, a stew made from salted pork and garbanzo beans laced with garlic seasoning, hard sea biscuits, and red wine. If the Seloy natives contributed to the meal, the table would have seen wild turkey, venison, gopher-tortoise, mullet, corn, beans, and squash. [PRNewswire]
So, you traditional Catholic families, when you gather around your Thanksgiving table this year, tell your children the real story of the first Thanksgiving: that it was hosted not by the Pilgrims, but by traditional Roman Catholics, and that its centerpiece was not a turkey, but the Traditional Latin Mass.
Happy Thanksgiving!

The Greatest Man to Be Born

"Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.’ Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."
Matthew 11:9-11

"He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full." John 3:29

John the Baptist is one of my favourite saints. The Eastern Church seems to have a greater love and honour for this extraordinary man than we do in the West. He was born without original sin, as he received the Holy Spirit at the Visitation of  Mary to Elizabeth--not conceived without Original Sin, but born with grace. He is the great prophet foretold throughout the Old Testament, the Precursor of God the Son. We overlook St. John's greatness and his clarity of vision regarding sin and repentance. As we approach Advent, we should have his words ringing in our ears; Matthew 11: 9-11, as seen above. In these times, the Way of the Lord must include repentance and renewal of our hearts and minds and souls. I have written on him before in recent months. But, one cannot honour him too much. He is one of only three in the Kingdom of God for which we honour his birthday-Christ, the Son of God, Mary the Mother of God, and John, the Precursor. His feast day is one of the oldest in the Church, dating back to the earliest centuries of Christendom. His special status is based on Scripture, not private revelation, and by the words of Christ, the Son of God Himself.

The Catholic Encyclopaedia notes:

The commemoration of his Nativity is one of the oldest feasts, if not the oldest feast, introduced into both the Greek and Latin liturgies to honour a saint. But why is the feast proper, as it were, of St. John on the day of his nativity, whereas with other saints it is the day of their death? Because it was meant that the birth of him who, unlike the rest, was "filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother's womb", should be signalized as a day of triumph. The celebration of the Decollation of John the Baptist, on 29 August, enjoys almost the same antiquity.

St. John the Baptist, give us the strength to speak the Truth in all places, at all times, with all people.

prepare the way of the Lord

Friendship with Christ, continued....

Garrigou-Lagrange, Robert Hugh Benson, and many others insist that friendship with and in Christ is not only possible for the lay person, but God's Will for each person, whether lay or religious. The difference is that the religious commits herself and himself to this life of perfection directly, making vows which lead, as I have mentioned, to a short-cut version of a longer process of purification. It is the duty, then, of the religious, to become holy, to become perfect.

Our duty is to pay attention to how God is working out our salvation and the stages of holiness while in the world. This is possible, as active orders have shown, such as the Jesuits, with such great saints through-out the ages trained in the spirituality of St. Ignatius. His rule is more applicable, obviously, to the lay life than the Benedictine rule, but all rules are possible for emulation in the world.

Choose one way and God will bless your efforts. He will also bless you freely, without your and my meagre efforts, because He is All-Loving, and like the father of the prodigal son, meets us more than half-way, waiting on the roof, looking for us to return to him.

Robert Hugh Benson writes of two type of contemplation, which is a helpful distinction for us lay people. Before I get into these descriptions, may I say that only love and suffering, suffering and love can lead us through these stages. If we are not in a loving relationship with God, either through a spouse or directly, our individualism will stand in the way of progress, and deceive us.

How does one know what is going on? Get a good spiritual director. Also, by the results in one's life-that is, is one peaceful and are the virtues manifested in one's life? Does one complain of suffering or accept it? Does suffering lead to peace and joy in Christ and union with Christ? Is one becoming or arrived at indifference; this is a good sign of the illuminative stage. Does one have to have one's favorite coffee, or a certain chair in the living room, or a living room? Can one tolerate any conditions of life God may send? St. Paul knew this.

I know both how to be brought low, and I know how to abound: (everywhere, and in all things I am instructed) both to be full, and to be hungry; both to abound, and to suffer need. Philippians 4:12

The two types of contemplation are ordinary and extraordinary contemplation. Ordinary contemplation is here described by Benson.

... Ordinary Contemplation is not only a state to be prayed for, but a state to which every sincere and devout Christian is bound to aspire, since it is perfectly within his reach by the help of ordinary graces.

It consists in a consciousness of God so effective and so continuous that God is never wholly absent from the thoughts, at least subconsciously. It is a state which, as has been said, the soul, when first initiated into the Friendship of Christ, in the beginning enjoys with extreme though fitful intensity. Life is changed by it: all relations are altered by it; Christ begins to be indeed the Light that irradiates every object of the soul's attention: He becomes the background, or the medium, by whose help all things are seen. Ordinary Contemplation, then, is the fixing of this state by effort as well as by grace. Until the soul has been purged, and until, further, it has been illuminated as to both exterior and interior things, the consciousness of Christ's interior Presence cannot be a continuous state. 

But when these processes have taken place, when Christ, that is, has trained His new friend in the duties and rewards of the Divine Companionship, Ordinary Contemplation is, if we may say so, the attention that He expects from her. Sin, of course, in this state, becomes subjectively, far more grave: "material" sins easily become "formal." But, on the other hand, virtue is far easier, since it is difficult for any soul to sin very outrageously so long as she feels the pressure of Christ's hand in hers.

At this stage, even small sin is revealed as horrible, which it is. The conscience becomes clearer and illumined by grace, so that patterns of sin can be broken and virtue installed as the habitual way of being.

At first, this Friendship may be an on and off experience, but at some time, it becomes constant. People get confused and assume that one in the Illuminative stage has reached some type of hyper-intelligence. Saints like Joseph Cupertino and Benedict Labre show us that this does not have to be the case. It is very possible that two laymen recently made blessed, Pier Giorgio Frassati and Karl, the last emperor of Austria, not only attained the illuminative stage, but the state of union with God, and both were young when they died. Both lived the beatitudes, which is a sign of this illuminative state. They would have experienced objective contemplation, that is, the continual awareness of Christ Within.

Friendship with Christ

Robert Hugh Benson should be canonized, unless someone shows me an objection. His book The Friendship of Christ indicates a spirituality of perfection and a personal understanding of union with God, the Indwelling of the Trinity and all the stages. Even in his novels, especially in None Other Gods, he shows a personal awareness and experience of the suffering Christ leading to the knowledge of the Trinity within. Later today, as I am in a place where there is no American Thanksgiving, I shall write about the two types of contemplation.

Here is a section from that book which is particular to my discussions in the past week:

The first step of the Illuminative Way, then, consists, not merely in experiencing these things -- for temptations and bereavements are common to souls in all stages of the spiritual life -- but in perceiving their value, intellectually and interiorly, so clearly and unmistakably that never again, if the soul continues in her course, can she resent or rebel against such things -- except perhaps in momentary lapses -- but that rather, understanding their value, she bends all her will to accept them and use them as God wills. And it is, therefore, exactly at this stage, that the soul ceases to be bewildered by the Problem of Pain; for, while she cannot, of course, intellectually solve the problem, she answers it, in the only way in which it is possible, by grasping Pain, or at any rate acquiescing in it. She now sees it practically to be reasonable; and henceforth endeavours to act upon that intuition.
II. The second step of the Illuminative Way -- corresponding to that of the Purgative -- consists in light being gained from God as to the reality of interior things -- for instance, the truths of religion.

For example: A soul in the elementary stage of faith adheres to an enormous number of dogmas of which she has no interior experience at all. She adheres to them, and lives by them, for the simple fact that she receives them from an Authority which she knows to be Divine. But, not only can she not intellectually understand many of them but she has not what the Scriptures call any "spiritual discernment"{2} with regard to them. She has received the Faith, as our Lord tells us we must all receive it, as a "little child";{3} she holds the casket of the Creed tightly in her hands, guides her life by its light, would die sooner than part with it, and ultimately sanctifies and saves her soul by her simple faithfulness towards it. But she has never dreamed of opening it: or, if she has opened it, all -- or at least much -- within is dark to her.

Such a soul as this, for instance, wins indulgences by fulfilling the necessary conditions; and can, perhaps, even give the orthodox theological account of what an indulgence actually is; but the spiritual transaction is as impenetrable to her eyes as a jewel in a locked box. Or it may be the doctrine of Eternal Punishment, or the prerogatives of Mary, or the Real Presence. She adheres to these things, and lives according to their effects and consequences: but they have no glimmer of light within them so far as she is concerned. She walks wholly by faith, and not at all by verification. She holds the dogmas of faith, but cannot compare them in any sense to natural facts or see those numerous points at which they fit in to other facts of her experience.

But when "Illumination" comes, an extraordinary change takes place. It is not that mysteries cease to be mysteries -- not that she can express in exhaustive human language, or even conceive in exhaustive images or modes, those facts of Revelation that are beyond reason -- but, for all that, there begins to shine to her spiritual sense, lighted by God's "candle" within her soul, point after point in those jewels of truth which up to now have been opaque and colorless. She can "explain" indulgences, or the justice of Hell, no better than before; and yet there is no longer impenetrable darkness within them. She begins to handle what she has already only touched; to comprehend what she has handled. She finds, by a certain inexplicable process of spiritual verification, that those things which she has taken to be true are true to her as well as in themselves; the path where she has walked in darkness, though in security, becomes dimly apparent to her eyes; until, if she, by grace and perseverance, ultimately reaches sanctity itself, she may experience by God's favour those clear-sighted intuitions -- or rather that infusion of knowledge -- which is so marked a characteristic in the saints.

III. The third stage of Illumination, corresponding with that of the Purgative Way, deals with those actual relations between Christ and the soul that are involved in the Divine Friendship. Now we saw that the last step of the Purgative Way was that abandonment of self into Christ's arms that is only possible when the soul has no longer any self-reliance. The corresponding step of the Illuminative Way is therefore the accession of light which the soul receives as to the abiding Presence of Christ within her, or -- perhaps it is safer to say -- of her abiding Presence within Christ.
It is at this point, therefore, that the Divine Friendship becomes the object of actual intelligence and contemplation. It is henceforth not only enjoyed, but in a certain degree consciously perceived and understood. This is nothing else than Ordinary Contemplation.

An interesting list...

From the website Courageous Priest is this interesting list of quotations from Pope Benedict XVI for your perusal:

The following are a set of quotes from the Holy Father regarding the times in which we now live.
Only if there is such a consensus on the essentials can constitutions and law function. This fundamental consensus derived from the Christian heritage is at risk… In reality, this makes reason blind to what is essential. To resist this eclipse of reason and to preserve its capacity for seeing the essential, for seeing God and man, for seeing what is good and what is true, is the common interest that must unite all people of good will. The very future of the world is at stake.  
The most terrifying sign of the times… [for now] there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a “better than” and a “worse than”. Nothing is good or bad in itself. Everything depends on the circumstances and on the end in view.
The tyranny of mammon [...] perverts mankind. No pleasure is ever enough, and the excess of deceiving intoxication becomes a violence that tears whole regions apart – and all this in the name of a fatal misunderstanding of freedom which actually undermines man’s freedom and ultimately destroys it. 
Moral consensus is collapsing… Consequently the forces mobilized for the defense of such structures seem doomed to failure.  However, the grave challenges confronting the world at the start of this new Millennium lead us to think that only an intervention from on high, capable of guiding the hearts of those living in situations of conflict and those governing the destinies of nations, can give reason to hope for a brighter future