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Tuesday 4 December 2012

A note from Rick Santorum

You did it.
You made it happen.
If it weren't for you, the U.S. Senate wouldn't have defeated the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
Your petition signatures (over 20,000!), phone calls, emails and tweets about CRPD's flaws made the difference.
Now, that CRPD is defeated, we know that United Nations won't have oversight of how we care for our special needs kids.  This treaty would have given the U.N. oversight of the healthcare and education choices parents with special needs kids make.  Had it passed, CRPD would have become the law of the land under the U.S. Constitution's Supremacy Clause, and would have trumped state laws, and could have been used as precedent by state and federal judges.
But now it won't.
And that's because of you and many other grassroots efforts - including the tremendous work of the Home School Legal Defense Association and Utah Senator Mike Lee. 
As parents of a special needs little girl, Karen and I are grateful for all you did to stop this treaty from becoming law.  You are helping to protect our Bella and special needs kids across this country, and we thank you.
Thanks for standing with us,

Suffering and Prayer

Weekly, I  am treated by phone calls or texting from some seminarian friends of mine. This week one of the topics was how does one convert people to Catholicism? The subject came up when I realized that one of the sems was frequently looking for a political solution to America's decadence. I reminded him that his job one day as a priest would be to bring people to the Faith, not to convince them about politics. Politics follows faith and  catechesis on the Truth of the Teaching of the Catholic Church.

When we cleared the air on that point, he asked me, humbly, how does one convert people who will not listen? Merely the day before, an excellent priest had reminded me that only prayer and suffering bring people to Christ and His Church.

My prayer and my suffering are not worth anything without these being united to that of Christ. And, that is a mutual movement-God comes to us and we go to God.

Do not waste suffering.

Many of you are having financial difficulties, like myself. That is suffering.

Many of you have family members who are fallen away Catholics, like I do. That is suffering.

Some of you are lonely, and alone, like me. That is definitely a suffering.

And there are more types of suffering, such as being overlooked for a promotion, penury, misunderstandings, unfair judgement, serious illness, separations and divorce; the death of a child.

But, here is the key to using that suffering. Accepting it in joy and not fighting God is the two-sided key. Accept and do not fight. Grieve, if you must. We are GIVEN suffering. We only need to accept it fully and then joy comes. The joy only comes in facing it fully for what it is, and letting God into the suffering.

It is an odd mixture, suffering and joy. It takes practice and a humility that we deserve the suffering because of our sins.

Only then can there be efficacious prayer.

Dublin Pro-Life Rally This Evening

I just came home from the Dublin pro-life rally. There were about 10,000 people there. I noticed the number of clergy and students, as well as families with children-large families with many children. God bless them.

For a very cold evening, the turn-out was good.

The speakers included a doctor who assured the crowd that most doctors in Eire are pro-life. This is encouraging. 

By now, the lies and hysteria of the false presentation of the media story concerning Savita is well-known and despised as a blatant attempt at manipulation for political purposes. You can see my other post on this.

However many people came out, there were more in the streets of Dublin Christmas shopping, going to concerts and the theatre. Walking back to the apartment, I thought how ironic it was that the Birth of Christ was being ignored by the various amazing decorations, while the real life issue was being addressed in front of the dark streets by the Dail.

I am not confident at all that the mysterious movement of evil in this country will not take Ireland to the full acceptance of abortion in January or February. That does not mean that we do not pray, fast and hope. However, the families who were not there and the young students in the medical schools who were absent are the pro-choice future of this sad country.

Pray, fast, write, vote but realize that until the hearts of men and women are converted to Christ and His Church, nothing will change this juggernaut of evil.

On drama and perfection....subjectivity and objectivity

Supertradson, who has considerable acting skills, played Dr. Chasuble in The Importance of Being Earnest in high school. I wonder if the Anglicans will do a version of Chasuble as a woman and Miss Prism as a man. Who knows.

But, one of my favourite scenes in this crazy play is the one between Cecily and Algernon concerning how bad he is supposed to be, as the mysterious "Earnest" younger brother of Jack, who has set up this pretence. If you remember, Cecily is Jack's young ward. My favourite version of the play is the 1951 production.

You have filled my tea with lumps of sugar, and though I asked most distinctly for bread and butter, you have given me cake
                            Anthony Asquith was  director and Dorothy Tutin was Cecily

Dorothy Tutin also did my favourite version of Anne Boleyn, playing her as a highly intricate and intelligent woman, which I think she was in all of her scheming. The other great actress in this play by Wilde is Joan Greenwood. 

Here is the Earnest scene to which I refer with Dorothy Tutin.

Cecily. I don't think you will require neckties. Uncle Jack is sending you to Australia.
Algernon. Australia! I'd sooner die.
Cecily. Well, he said at dinner on Wednesday night, that you would have to choose between this world, the next world, and Australia.
Algernon. Oh, well! The accounts I have received of Australia and the next world, are not particularly encouraging. This world is good enough for me, cousin Cecily.
Cecily. Yes, but are you good enough for it?
Algernon. I'm afraid I'm not that. That is why I want you to reform me. You might make that your mission, if you don't mind, cousin Cecily.
Cecily. I'm afraid I've no time, this afternoon.
Algernon. Well, would you mind my reforming myself this afternoon?
Cecily. It is rather Quixotic of you. But I think you should try.
Algernon. I will. I feel better already.
Cecily. You are looking a little worse.

The point of referring to these two plays has to do with a perception of perfection. In the first, by Wilde, who repented and died a Catholic, the silliness of the play undermines the seriousness of salvation. Clever Wilde used words to make a point in favour of materialism and the now. But, he is reflecting the growing materialism of his time and the superficiality of life based on that. Victorian religion was becoming separated from ""real life as we know it."

In the second, the scene taken from the superb Six Wives of Henry the Eighth, the best of all those done on that theme, we encounter a repentant  although Protestant Anne, regretting her sins and asking for the mercy of God. In both plays, there is no fixed understanding in the characters of the need for a perfect life, but merely one of earnestness, zeal, or sadly, materialism.

But, Wilde is a satirist, making fun of the growing Victorian hypocrisy of his time. And, the writer of that episode of the BBC series on Anne Boleyn wants to show her in a different light than merely the woman who was partly responsible for the ruin of the Church in England. 

What is missing is the fact that only the perfect see God. Satire shows us our faults as individuals and societies, and serious plays try to help us understand a time and the individuals who both created and were victimized by those times.

What the search for perfection does is to help us transcend the times and the societies in which we find ourselves. The journey to perfection makes us objective and without objectivity, one cannot become a saint.  Only those who can stand back and judge themselves and situations objectively, which is with the Mind of Christ, can become holy.

The prevalence of subjectivism today is more than serious; it is a deadly mind-set. Those who can only judge from the subjective cannot become holy-if the only criterion is one's own opinion, one is not thinking with the Church or in the Mind of Christ.

I am truly concerned about the present youth who cannot and will not think objectively. If you have adolescents or teens or young adults in college, please make sure they can think. Start young, before the age of reason. Otherwise, we shall lose this generation entirely.

Satan is subjectivity personified. Non serviam. His subjective decision not to follow God ended in tragedy and eternal pain for him. Let us pray for those youth who cannot see beyond their own opinions. They have endangered their own salvation.

What if frightening is that these individual opinions are given the same weight as objective truth. Today, on an Irish radio channel, the opinion of one bad reporter trumped various attempts to pin down the Truth in an interview. Her opinion was more important than even possible research and factual evidence. This is the end of freedom. If a people cannot judge between ideology and truth, the end is nigh for this civilization. That is what happened in England during the Protestant Revolt. One man's opinion held sway over objective Truth. The ruin was complete. Robert Hugh Benson, in his novel, calls it The King's Triumph. Now, we shall see the triumph of the Prince of Darkness, unless Catholics begin to think like Catholics-objectively.

Work-Ethic vs the Cell Phone and Computer; stealing and lying

The same report from marketing research firms Nielsen and NM Incite also found that 51 percent of US adults between 25 and 34 use social networking in the office -- more than any other age group. From France 24

Work, fine, but social networking, no...............
When I was working, either full or part-time, the educational institutions had rules on social networking. Of course, cell phones had to be turned off in the classrooms and lecture halls. My colleagues and I did our social networking on our breaks, not in class time, or office time.

What has happened is that the Millennials have lost the work-ethic. No offence, but my generation knows how to work. And, it is one reason why we learn how to pray.

There is a connection. One must be disciplined to do things at the appropriate time. I am concerned about this statistic. What is wrong here is called stealing and lying, both.

Stealing is taking time for personal things for which one is being paid a salary for work.

Lying is pretending one is doing work instead of social networking.

These could become serious sins. As we say in the States, or did, "Time is money." 

Some Millennials do not have a work ethic, and this has led to poor services in many countries. I have had to wait in shops in Europe for young people to get off their cell phones, who should have been waiting on me. Happened yesterday. Why should people, including ancient ones older than myself, wait in a line while the young man behind the counter is on his phone? I shall not go back to that shop, period.

Why are they allowed to do this? This happened in a large store recently as well, when a young woman was on her phone. I had to wait. In fact, this happened three times in three weeks. So, once a week, in my very limited shopping, which is at most three times a week or food or personal items, I met this problem here in Dublin. Statistic: let me say conservatively 2 x 3 weeks shopping trips = 6; and 3 incidences of waiting for someone to get off the phone. Not good. And, these were personal calls. 

This constitutes bad manners, bad service. Two were young women and one was a young man. Two were not Irish, so this is not an anti-Irish comment. 

I think some Millennials do not know the difference between work and leisure time.

Prayer is a discipline. One cannot pray and text, or read email. One must create time for reading Scripture and meditating.

This is a huge problem for many under 40. 

Their souls are in danger of being so bound to electronics that they cannot pray and listen to God.

 Apologies for odd box on this post. Is not in the draft nor the seems to be a comment box glitch. 

Perfection-Knowing and Doing God's Will-Contemplation First, Then Action

The Lord, the Captain of the Hosts
I have been meditating over a period of time on Joshua 5 and 6. Those trained in Jesuit spirituality told me a long time ago to stay with a passage until the Holy Spirit speaks through the words.

I have always liked Joshua. I love his courage and faith. He has military gifts, and most importantly, he is pure. He does not sin. Unlike Moses, the great friend of God who sinned and therefore, could not enter into the Promised Land, Joshua stays away from sin. He enters the Promised land.

Some Catholics are perplexed by the fact that Joshua, a saint, is a man of war. But, so is St. David and the great prophet St. Elijah, who killed the prophets of Baal.

Sometimes, we need warriors.

Why I have been intrigued by these passages, which include the fall of Jericho, centers on two sections.

The first I have mentioned before on this blog and I mention it again today.

Here it is again:

Joshua 5:13-15 DR
And when Josue was in the field of the city of Jericho, he lifted up his eyes, and saw a man standing over against him: holding a drawn sword, and he went to him, and said: Art thou one of ours, or of our adversaries?And he answered: No: but I am prince of the host of the Lord, and now I am come. Josue fell on his face to the ground. And worshipping, add: What saith my lord to his servant? Loose, saith he, thy shoes from off thy feet: for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Josue did as was commanded him.

Joshua is quick to adore The Man, recognizing him as Moses recognized God in the Burning Bush. But, here are some differences. Firstly, Joshua confronts this Man of War. Joshua is not afraid of the Truth. Secondly, he immediately worships the Person, which indicates that this is not St. Michael, but the Son of  God.The ancients  commentators state that this manifestation of Christ is as we shall see Him at the Second Coming-as a Man of War-the Captain of the Lord of Hosts. 

Joshua is instantly in adoration and obedience, indicating that he is in sanctifying grace.  He recognizes God.

Then, Joshua asks for God's Will. It was the Will of God that Joshua worshipped Him and then, conquered Jericho and all of Canaan. Notice the order of these events.

The shape of ancient Jericho
Some Catholics are pacifists. Some do not believe in capital punishment. Some cannot understand even self-defence, much less entering a county and conquering the inhabitants. But, this is what God commanded of Joshua. He obeyed and quickly. That is one reason I love Joshua.

But, what is the personal point of a meditation? One does not merely meditate on a passage for historical clarity, but for a personal application.

Joshua meeting the Lord of Hosts is like us meeting Christ when He comes again in glory, with the angels and saints. But, there is something else here.

The Captain of the Armies of God reveals His Plan to Joshua. Only after adoration does Christ reveal His Will. We adore Him and He reveals Himself in His Love. Only in the Presence of God when we lay down our hearts, minds and wills does God reveal His Will to us.

Between the battle and the victory, there is adoration. Between the purgative and illuminate stages, there is the battle to lay down our wills. Between the illuminative and unitive stage, there is the revelation of Love. These steps cannot be skipped or changed in order.

It all has to do with purity of heart. Joshua more than many other Old Testament heroes is pure of heart. So too, we must allow God to purify our hearts. 

Purity, adoration, God's Will. Victory, which is action, comes after contemplation. If you are acting, taking part in the new evangelization without a deep basis of prayer, you are probably wasting time and effort. Look at Joshua and let God purify your heart and mind, so that it is God's Work that you are doing and not your own.

Also, we cannot come up against the evil of Satan successfully without God's strong help. Do not try to this or you will either be deceived, or you will be overcome. Joshua\s purity of heart allowed him to fight with the Lord of Hosts against the Canaanites, who, by the way, sacrificed their babies to Moloch for prosperity. Does this sound familiar?

One of my few published poems is on this theme. If I can find a copy online, I shall show you.

Update on The Technology of Schools-No Books, No Paper

In India, entire curricula are being put on an Android based tablets and used instead of books. There is a shortage of paper and books. Here is the press release from a few years ago from the Indian Government--

Aakash is first in a series of Android-based tablet computers produced by British company DataWind

which is a direct quotation from Wiki.

The reason why I mentioned this is that Eire is heading the same way. Some gentlemen today were discussing that their twelve year olds in schools here have no books. There was a meeting with parents to explain that books and paper would not be used. I would like feedback from you all on this point. Twelve year olds are very good at technology. The students naturally take to this.

UPDATE on Tuesday morning: I am against this, as it is against the idea of Catholic curriculum. I worked as a Catholic curriculum adviser for five years, and I have a Master's Teaching Certificate from NAPCIS. A curriculum should be Catholic in every subject-a discussion we can have, but the point here is that most of those books are not electronically available Very few of the spiritual books which are out of print or rare are in electronic form, although Garrigou-Lagrange is. Not St. Bernard, for example.

And, if one is doing a Master's or Doctorate, one cannot do all the research on line. One must learn to go to libraries and archives.

I feel that a book also helps discussions more in the Socratic Method and better for thinking skills, which need time to develop. Reading is not merely for information, that is the utilitarian code, but for learning thinking skills and for reflection. More on this later...

Perfection Series continued-Prayer is a Necessity; not a Leisure Activity

It is a wonderful thing to meet a holy priest who has experienced the stages of perfection. Too bad I cannot have him as a spiritual director, but I shall be leaving Ireland soon.

The comfort of not being judged, knowing that God uses various events and people to move us towards Him, and the strength of a man who has encountered God are all priceless.

But, here is the bottom line.

We are loved by God for no other reason than He created us.

Our existence is an act of love.

Our salvation is an act of love.

Our response is prayer. Do we not want to talk to those who love us? Frequently?

Blessed Columba Marmion wrote this:  "It can be established that according to ordinary ways, our progress in divine love practically depends on our life of prayer."

Some commentaries have belittled the life of prayer for the laity. No prayer, no progress.

Marmion writes that "the life of prayer is transforming."

These quotation are from Christ, the Life of the Soul, English translation by "A Nun of Tyburn," Mother Mary St. Thomas, 1922.

The laity have no choice but to pray. And pray frequently. And move into the stages by ASKING for the graces. Do not be sheepish. Do not be afraid. 

There are great saints in the Church and too many lay people think that saints are born, not made.

That is true only of the Blessed Mother and St. John the Baptist-who were born without Original Sin; one from her Immaculate Conception and the other by Divine grace in the womb . All others had to cooperate with grace. St. Bernard of Clairvaux cooperated with grace. So did St. Paul and St. Peter. Yesterday was the feast day of St. Francis Xavier, a saint who learned the Ignatian method of prayer.

Pray that God's Perfect Will be done in your life, and if you are too busy to pray, simplify your life somehow.

Seriously, do a "time management study" and find time. Ask for the grace of prayer. Ask your Guardian Angel to help you pray. Pray, please. 

The priest said that the only way to convert friends and family members who have fallen away is the two-fold approach of prayer and suffering. The problem with the new evangelism is that we think that programs and talking will convert people. Suffering and prayer move God in a way which is mysterious. He joins us in our suffering. Move towards God in prayer and face your suffering. God meets you and you meet Him in the suffering. 

Remember that activity outside of sanctifying grace and outside of God's Will is useless-a waste of time.

Remember what I wrote a few days ago. Activity must come from contemplation. Do not listen to leaders or even priests who say that meditation and contemplation are not for the laity. They, sadly, are undermining the way to holiness.

We are called to be saints and meditation and contemplation form the basis of all holiness.