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Thursday 31 October 2013

Please Pray to Benedict Labre for Me--Thanks

For David From Kavi

Confession is not like going to a psychiatrist--said the Pope

See Independent Catholic News for the entire talk...

“This is the struggle of Christians. It is our struggle every day. And we do not always have the courage to speak as Paul spoke about this struggle. We always seek a way of justification: ‘But yes, we are all sinners.’ But we say it like that, don’t we? This says it dramatically: it is our struggle. And if we don’t recognize this, we will never be able to have God’s forgiveness. Because if being a sinner is a word, a way of speaking, a manner of speaking, we have no need of God’s forgiveness. But if it is a reality that makes us slaves, we need this interior liberation of the Lord, of that force. But more important here is that, to find the way out, Paul confesses his sin to the community, his tendency to sin. He doesn’t hide it.”
Confession of sins, done with humility, is something the Church requires of all of us, Pope Francis noted, citing the invitation of Saint James: “Confess your sins to one another.” Not to get noticed by others, the Pope explained, “but to give glory to God,” to recognise that it is God Who saves me. That, the Pope continued, is why one goes to a brother, a “brother priest” to confess. And one must do as Paul did – above all, confessing with the same “concreteness”.
“Some say: ‘Ah, I confess to God.’ But it’s easy, it’s like confessing by email, no? God is far away, I say things and there’s no face-to-face, no eye-to-eye contact. Paul confesses his weakness to the brethren face-to-face. Others say, ‘No, I go to confession,’ but they confess so many ethereal things, so many up-in-the-air things, that they don’t have anything concrete. And that’s the same as not doing it. Confessing our sins is not going to a psychiatrist, or to a torture chamber: it’s saying to the Lord, ‘Lord, I am a sinner,’ but saying it through the brother, because this says it concretely. ‘I am sinner because of this, that and the other thing.

Remember the Flight into Egypt

Prayer for Immigrants and Refugees

            Jesus, you were born in flight and your family fled to Egypt as refugees soon after. We pray for all those who are forced to flee from their homes and homelands due to war, violence, oppression, hunger, or economic desperation.  Help us, many of whom are ourselves immigrants to this land, to see and serve you in the twelve million undocumented immigrants in our country, and to work for a humane and just immigration policy.  Amen. 

Wednesday 30 October 2013

The Mystery of Pain

The Trials of Job by Leonaert Bramer

I have had many conversations of late with a good, gentle person who believes that all pain is an illusion and merely in the mind.

He thinks I am an empiricist because I am a Thomist. Sigh, such is the heritage of Plato.

This good and spiritual person thinks that one can will away and think away pain. Now, there is a small bit of truth in that statement, in so far as we do not have to dwell on pain and can transcend our pain barriers, which athletes train themselves to do. Too many people pay too much attention to pain.  However, this is not what this man means.

He means that all negativity is not real, and he does not believe in Satan or hell. He does believe in God and in the journey of perfection so that one can become one with God. However, one does not discuss cancer or an injured ankle with this kind person.

He even believes that fleas, bed bugs and other insects can be willed away from someone's presence.

As a person who insects usually hate and avoid, even Midwest kamikaze mosquitoes, I have been surprised at a type of Maltese insect which has taken a liking to me. In fact, these bites are not only painful, but last weeks. I have welts on both legs and on one arm.

I still have not figured out what insect is attacking me, but these poor creatures cannot be discussed with my friend.

As my son said, these "poor, little insects are totally unaware of their nonexistence." He has a sense of humor.

But, pain is real and so are these bites and so are these insects. Why they like me and not him, if we are walking out at night, for example, is a mystery as well. I think they are sand fleas.

As a good Catholic girl, I can offer up these bites and welts for priests, sems, and whoever has asked for prayers.  I can even offer these up for the person who does not believe that these insects are real or that I need to be bitten.

I join myself with St. Francis and St. John of the Cross who endured sand fleas and other things. I join myself in a very small and little teeny way to the Cross of Christ, who endured God-like pain for the sake of the entire human race.

The welts are there for several reasons.

One, to remind me that I am mortal and not a disembodied spirit. My friend denies the body beyond Catholic teaching. To endure bodily discomfort is a result of Original Sin and to be expected to a certain degree. My friend claims I did not have to have cancer or Hashimoto's Disease either, as I could have willed those away. I see illnesses merely as a result of sin and corruption.

Two, pain is remedy for sin and is also grist for the prayer mill. When one joins with Christ is discomfort, one finds a peace and calm, even in serious illnesses, such as cancer. I tried to explain to my friend that when I was going through the cancer op and results, I felt like I was on retreat daily for weeks. God was very close, the Crucified One was with me the whole way.

Three, pain purifies and keeps our priorities straight.

Four, pain is humiliating, which is a good thing. Unlike my friend, who apparently can control bad things, I submit to the discomforts and learn humility through the realization that my body is far from perfect. Such predominant faults as pride and vainglory can be dealt with through pain.

Five, Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity and the Son of God willed pain in His life. He did not escape the results of Original Sin but willed to join us in what we experience daily. His redemptive suffering raises pain to a level of Godliness, which is a mystery.

There are more reasons for the mystery of pain and suffering. This discussion will continue....

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Another good article from Pat Buchanan

London and Sharia Banking

Ireland wanted to be the sharia compliant center of the world,  but London wants to take over.

Losing sovereignty one pound at a time...

Little Dogs And Big Cats

A Spaniel, a Yorkie, two Jack Russells,
a Westie,  and two Beagles, walk their
owners down the Sliema promenade

Barking at the myriad Pugs, who think the
British Empire still exists in these parts,
but, it does not.

I listen to the twilight bark, wondering if
Maltese barks are different than English
woofs, but these testy creatures seem

to understand each other and respect
their space on the walk. Owners vary
as owners do. Then, I watch the cats

as well, not impartial to the ten tabbies
being fed by a young girl in the shade
of the trees I cannot identify.

So, another hot day on the edge of the
Middle-Sea is marked by a domesticity
which could be in London, Guildford

or Tunbridge Wells. Dogs and cats
make us universal; humans tied to
our pets which either demand or

give attention. My walk continues
wishing the Maltese loved birds
as much as they do these four-footed

creatures of the tall flats and blue
waters. One little dog today swam
with its owner half-way through

the bay, but came back, having
more sense than his big pet
who wanted it to continue...

The little black and white
nondescript turned around and
swam back to the small tourist

audience smiling at its independence
and timing...its little black and white
head looking back at macho-man,

swimming away, but we watched
a little dog's head bobbing
in cool disdain in Balluta Bay.

Generation Gaps

I first worked with a computer back in 1970-71 when my Catholic college was connected to databases at the University of Iowa. Those of us in the history department used punch cards to get information on statistics and other information.

Then, as I grew older, I learned how to use other programs and finally, PCs, moving from DOS to the Internet and the rest is history.

What I find interesting and also painful is the real separation among some of the older friends I have who are either not on the computer at all, not even for e-mail, or those who have not kept up with all the social networking which is available.

What is happening is a communication break-down. I have more communication with people younger than myself than with my own generation, except for a handful of male persons. Why women age 60-75 do not use the computer is a mystery and also a painful reality of a generation gap which is getting wider.

Having been on line since the Internet arrived, and having used it daily as well as having taught students using the big databases such as EBSCO and many others, I have a relationship with those who do research on line on a regular basis.

The Princeton Database list is only one of many.

The organization of information is available to those who want to do research and that includes real journalists.

It is almost impossible to share the myriad resources with those who do not use the Net.

This type of Generation Gap will continue. And, it is also a class gap. Many people who do not live in areas or who are not in research based jobs or vocations do not use these databases and they may not use the Net for social networking.

The other question of whether we need these skills will not be addressed in this post. Needless to say, there are two worlds out there.

I am finding that those of my friends who are not on line can become more and more isolated. Why they are not willing to take the plunge into the world of communication on the Net is a mystery to me. But, then, I grew up with computers.

I have two friends I hardly can talk to as they only have land lines. And, they do not have voice mail. If we lived in the same country, I would not mind so much. But, these are the limitations of a generation gap.

Monday 28 October 2013

Re-post from August on the Dark Night

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Consumerism, Materialism, Pride and the Theological Virtues-The Dark Night of the Soul, Part 39

Catholics receive the theological virtues directly from God. We all have human virtues, but the theological virtues pave the way to heaven, allowing one to live in and with the Holy Trinity. The theological virtues, as most know, are faith, hope and charity.

Now, one wonders why these virtues do not flourish in the Church, through the lives of the members of the Church. What happens to stop the growth of faith, hope and love? As these are infused virtues, one would expect all Catholics to exhibit faith, hope and love.

Faith, as defined in the CCC, is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith "man freely commits his entire self to God."78 For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God's will. "The righteous shall live by faith." Living faith "work[s] through charity."79

To believe in God daily and to believe in Revelation and Tradition are no small feats. A Catholic who is orthodox, that is, obedient to all the Church teaches, and, in addition, gives his life to God totally, is living in and by faith.

One who lives in faith constantly prays and desires to know God, love God and do His Will.

This first theological virtue may be "sinned against", that is, one may turn against this gift and choose not to believe. For some, this is apostasy, the complete denial of faith. For others, the cause could be sloth, not cultivating a prayer life, or not receiving the sacraments frequently.

A habit of sin can destroy faith. One of the greatest enemies of faith is materialism, the belief that the life on earth is the only life, and that there is no eternal, no spiritual life, Materialism denies the soul, and the dignity of the person. This heresy is fast becoming the great heresy of Europe, where many no longer believe in heaven or hell, following the Marxist view of dialectic materialism.

Anarchists are usually materialists, denying a hierarchy of spirituality in the world.

Hope, the second theological virtue, is, according to the CCC, the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful."84 "The Holy Spirit . . . he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life."85

This virtue is the most misunderstood of all three. Notice the phrase, "relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit". This virtue grows in the Dark Night of the Soul. Father Phelim quotes St. John of the Cross,  that, "the more things we possess the less scope and capacity there is for hoping and consequently, the less hope we have." He notes that the less we have in reality and in memory, the more able we are to possess God and hope in His love.

The great enemy of hope is consumerism. Consumerism, which is the greatest sin of the American people, demands that happiness may be bought. People become obsessed with buying more and more and more things, thereby becoming preoccupied with wealth and the consumption of goods obtained by wealth.

One cannot develop the virtue of hope when one is literally consumed with things. Those who possess things do not have room in their hearts, minds, and souls for God. The dispossession of things allows for the freedom to let God into one's being.  Hope rests on not having, and if one has one does not perfect hope for the love of God. Consumerism feeds selfishness, which stifles hope.

The third theological virtue is love. The CCC notes that Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.

Perhaps, most Catholics understand love, or charity, more that faith or hope. But, love cannot enter the soul, the heart or the mind without first faith and hope. Love is the fulfilment of faith and hope. When one is finally purged of selfishness and greed, of doubt and disobedience, love follows.

The great enemy of love is pride, as pride brainwashes the mind, the heart and the soul into denying the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, Who loved us, as the CCC reminds us in the section on charity, while we were still enemies. Strong words. Pride denies that we were ever enemies of God, blaming others for our sins, as Eve blamed the serpent, and Adam blamed Eve.

All of these virtues are free gifts from God, but these can lie dormant for years and years unless one allows God to kill materialism, consumerism and pride in us.

That is one of the reasons for the Dark Night of the Soul, the purification of both the senses and the spirit.

To be continued....

Dark Night Discussion

...will continue towards the end of the week. God bless you all.

Coptic Persecution Watch,-police-fled-before-the-attack-on-the-church-of-the-Virgin-Mary-29353.html

I have been following Asia News for years. Good site. Persecution Watch.....

Moving towards religious tolerance in Egypt

Another good Vortex especially for the relativists

If you missed this, please watch it today

Losing Health Insurance And Looking at Secret Government


Secret government must be ended....

On The Feast of SS. Simon and Jude

The Gospel this morning on this feast of SS. Simon and Jude shows us all that Christ prayed all night before deciding who to call to be His apostles. This event reminds all of us that prayer precedes action always, and that listening to the Will of the Father is the priority for our lives. Can you imagine the sorrow of Christ in acquiescing to the Will of the Father in the calling of Judas, who Christ knew would betray Him?

Luke 6: 12 - 16
12In these days he went out to the mountain to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God.
13And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles;
14Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew,
15and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot,
16and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Sunday 27 October 2013

An American in Europe

An American friend of mine who has spent some time in Europe has told me that one cannot get the news in America from any station one gets in Europe. He has been looking at newspapers as well and keeps saying, "Why did we not get this information?"

I know this is true. The European networks, outside of the BBC, which is one of the worst and biased of all, are, on the whole, much better than all those in America.


Many of the stations are owned by the same five groupings.

But, still, Europe gets much better and fairer news than the States.

My friend says that one reason he comes to Europe is to watch real news he cannot get at home. He is from the west coast.

Think about this. Think about the lack of coverage of certain stories on American television and radio.

Think about those who are pulling the strings of the main stream media.

Think about how Americans are being sold lies about European news stories.


Persecution Watch Syria

Many of those refugees who have died in the ocean not too far from Malta have been from Syria. Read the above article and find out why these people chance a risky crossing to come to Europe.

Yes, We Scan Protests

Batten down the hatches.....Britain!

Britain braces for worst storm in years from France24
Large waves break against barriers on the seafront in Brighton, southern England on October 27, 2013 as a predicted storm starts to build
Large waves break against barriers on the seafront in Brighton, southern England on October 27, 2013 as a predicted storm starts to build
A man walks his dog along a sea wall in Lyme Regis in Dorset, southwest England on October 27, 2013 as strong winds blow spray over the sea wall
A man walks his dog along a sea wall in Lyme Regis in Dorset, southwest England on October 27, 2013 as strong winds blow spray over the sea wall
AFP - Britain was braced on Sunday for its worst storm in a decade, with heavy rain and winds of more than 80 miles (130 kilometres) an hour set to batter the south of the country.
The Met Office national weather centre warned of falling trees, damage to buildings and disruption to power supplies and transport when the storm hits overnight to Monday.
Between 20 to 40 millimetres (0.8 to 1.6 inches) of rain is predicted to fall within six to nine hours starting on Sunday evening, likely leading to localised flooding, the Met Office said.
It will be followed by widespread gusts of between 60 and 80 miles an hour across southern England and south Wales on Monday, with winds reaching more than 80 miles an hour in some areas.
Helen Chivers, a MET office guru noted....
"It's obviously coming in the autumn and the impact could be high because the leaves are still on the trees and the ground has more water in it", meaning a higher likelihood of flooding and of trees coming down.

Comparisons have been made with the "Great Storm" in October 1987, which left 18 people dead in Britain and four in France.

It felled 15 million trees .....
This year's storm has been named St Jude after the patron saint of lost causes, whose feast day is on Monday.

Part Two of a talk....the best part

Father Gouder's talk included more points which I shall not cover, but here are some more highlights of this presentation.

Father noted that God loves each person dearly, but that God does not keep the married person for Himself Alone, but shares that person with the spouse. This is truly a beautiful ideal. Think of this-God sharing His Love through a spouse.

Father also noted the importance of the sacrament of confirmation before the sacrament of marriage, as the gifts of the Holy Spirit are part of the marriage vocation.

One of the points I really liked was that the love shared in the marriage is not the love of each individual person, but God's Love.

One of the most important points made by this good priest was that the couple in a marriage are consecrated to each other. He asked the audience to define consecration. When many good ideas were shared, Father said that consecration was the setting apart, the dedication of someone or something to be made holy.

He noted that a church is consecrated, an altar is consecrated; these are dedicated to God. Father went on to explain that each Catholic is consecrated to God in baptism and confirmed in that consecration in confirmation.

In marriage, each person is consecrated to one another in the sacrament.  The sign of this consecration is fidelity, which mean that the couple live exclusively for one another.

As temples of the Holy Spirit, each person consecrated to each other act accordingly in grace. This is why marriage is between one man and one woman and for life. This consecration is holy and cannot be reversed. To act less would do serious harm to one's own soul.

Betrayal in marriage harms not only society and the other person, but one's self, because one has consecrated one's self in that relationship. The living vocation is holy.

By the way, there are courses at the Institute, by psychologist Joyce Callus (counselor) on Positive Discipline for parents of 0 to 6 year old children with future psychological and spiritual courses in the pipeline. 

Notes from a talk....part one

Father Anton Gouder gave a talk last night to a group of married couples on the spirituality of marriage. I was graciously invited to attend and was provided, thankfully, with a skilled interpreter, as the talk was in Maltese. The venue was a relatively new site, the brainchild of lawyer Anthony Rutter Giappone and the ultra-modern place is at the disposal of the Institute, which has the approval of the Maltese Curia with Dun Anton Gouder, as spiritual director (who is the pro-vicar general of the Curia). The Institute is called Genesis 2, the Institute for Marriage and Family.

This institute provides a series of courses on the spirituality of marriage,  the Catholic view of the person, marriage as a sacrament, the teachings of the Catholic Church on marriage, and many other topics, including practical ones, such as household management skills.

In this day and age of serious problems of relationship between men and women, such an institute provides needed guidance from the Catholic point of view.

Father Gouder spoke for about 40 minutes, covering the necessary relationship a person must have with Christ in order to have a good, spiritually based marriage.

Father began his talk emphasizing that communication in marriage had to involve communion with God, the awareness that God is present in the marriage, and that couples must be open to God and have a consciousness of God's love in their lives.

As written on this blog in the perfection series so many times, Father spoke of the Catholic ideal of holiness as not merely what one does, but what one is.

He pointed out that outside activity follows the interior life. And, that all Catholics who are baptized and confirmed, as my readers know, have the Indwelling of the Holy Trinity, including the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, a topic rarely preached.

One of the most wonderful points made was that God takes up the initiative in one's love relationship with one's spouse. God begins the love, not man. God initiates love and the persons in the marriage either accept it or reject it. Father referred to St. Paul on the overflowing of God's love into our lives, if we accept the graces.

Father went on to say that sharing the life of God in marriage is not keeping God's love to one's self, but sharing it daily. This is the vocation of marriage-sharing love.

Father noted that this love goes beyond duty.  He reminded those present that the primary love of the married couple is the priority in marriage. The commitment and attraction of the physical become enriched by the spiritual, and this spiritually based love welds the couple together for life. Marriage is for life. This outpouring of God's love is for both persons, and the expression of the relationship with Christ each person has is the result of the Holy Spirit, Who is Love, being in the couple's lives. Just as the Spirit is the Love between God and the Son, so too, the Spirit welds the love of the man and woman in the sacrament of marriage.

Father said that the couple should have no fear, no selfishness and only true concern for each other in the vocation to which each person is called. The love is that vocation.

Father also noted that the order of priorities for each person in the marriage are first God, then the other, (the spouse), the one's self, and then, the children.

He referred to Mark 3:16 at this juncture in the talk.

To be continued...

Taking over the world

Great Britain announced recently the sale of a Somerset power station to a Chinese company and now, the electric company in Malta has been bought by a Chinese company. Also, Mandarin will now be offered in the high schools here.

Taking over another country without guns is the name of the game.

One person told me she was concerned about the electricity company here allowing all the lights in the Churches, as the Chinese hate the real Catholic Church so much.

Just the beginning, folks. Read my Gramsci posts...America is so much in debt, she cannot help herself.

And, you can bet that Russia will not allow a take-over of anything in that country. Long-time enemies ...

And, an honest comment from an European businessman here--French electrical equipment group Schneider Electric warned the euro was over-valued and was hurting business.
"It's painfully evident that the eurozone is the only major economic zone that doesn't use its currency as an economic weapon and a weapon of competitiveness," Finance Director Emmanuel Babeau told AFP.

The Paris-based company, a world leader in electrical engineering said that currencies had depreciated sharply in markets where the company can make as much as a billion euros in sales.
"We find ourselves overvalued in relation to many currencies, including the dollar, that's very clear," he said.

Saturday 26 October 2013

The Lack of Spiritual Directors-Two Points of View

Many adult Catholics have complained of the lack of spiritual directors in their dioceses. This is not a new problem. For most of my adult life, from the age of 22 until recently, I have been blessed with mature, orthodox spiritual directors.

Since I have been in Europe, I have found several excellent priests in Ireland and in England in the Confessional, who have given me excellent advice. These priests, obviously, know the language of the the road to perfection and have experienced the Dark Night themselves, so that they can give superb advice.

But, I have two opinions on spiritual direction. Let me explain.

First, if one is in an area where there are mature, orthodox priests who have time for spiritual direction, ask for one to help you. However, this situation is not normal. Most priests are now too busy for personal direction time.  If one is in an orthodox parish, with a sound priest, it does not hurt to ask.

I think that it is more important for married men to have a spiritual director, and then these men can share advice with their spouses. I think that married women can rely on good husbands for direction.

Single women need to be careful in not causing scandal or asking too much from a spiritual director who is a priest. One must always act and proceed in a professional manner.

Spiritual director is NOT psychological counselling or any other type of counselling. If one needs counselling, one should find a Thomistic based counselor and pay for that.

My second point is this. For centuries, the laity did without spiritual directors, and they became good, holy people. One can become a saint without a spiritual director.

Again, confession is not the usual place for spiritual direction, but I know for a fact that many Opus Dei priests are willing to enter into spiritual direction in the Confessional.  Of course, if there is a queue of thirty people lined up for Saturday afternoon Confession, one cannot expect direction.

Back to this second point--one can rely on occasional direction in the lay life. This situation, is, of course, much more difficult, but for those who are not beginners, who are proficients, as St. John of the Cross explains, a disciplined prayer life and a reading of the classical books on spirituality can take the place of a spiritual director.

We must not give up the journey merely because we cannot find someone to help us on the way.

May I make a suggestion that if one does not have a spiritual director, one should be going to Confession once a week. This habit stops one from falling into self-deceit regarding one's real state of the soul.

A regular Confessor, who knows you and is the same one you go to for a long time, will be able to lead you into new levels of spiritual counselling.

May I add some more comments on who not to go to for spiritual direction. These points must be taken seriously.

1) Do not go to anyone involved in New Age religion or New Age counselling techniques. Many so-called spiritual directors in England fall into this category. Avoid such deceit. Do not go to one without sound training.

2) Do not go to a charismatic director, as too often these good people have limited themselves to such things as personal revelations, the chasing after the gifts, and false apparitions. Many lack an orthodox view on prayer.

3) Do not go to a non-Catholic. I think this is obvious, but some people get confused on this point. Protestants are heretics and lack the fullness of Truth. Many hate the sacrament of Confession and see Adoration as Idolatry. Do not get involved in spiritual direction with people who are part of ecumenical groups. Again, the possibilities for errors and a lack of formation on the part of those involved can be a reality.

4) Do not go to a young priest or young nun, or priests and nuns not formed in the old, tried and true ways of spirituality. The old ways of the Benedictines, Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites and Salesians are the ways the saints have showed us take us to God.

5) If a priest recommends a book which is off, as happened to me recently, do not seek that priest out again. I have had this happened twice, where the priest counselling me recommended non-orthodox books. Basically, be aware that so much of what is written post-Vatican II may not be sound.

6) Do not go to spiritual direction with any of the Nuns on the Bus....or those types--'nuff said about that.

7) Never, never, never go to a spiritual director who charges. What God gives freely is to be given freely. If someone is charging, this person has stepped out of the long tradition of the Catholic Church in sharing with the brothers and sisters of Christ what God has given to them.

8) Do not except spiritual direction to solve all your problems. A director is not a magician but a wise guide. Your relationship with Christ is still your own responsibility, not his or hers.

9) Do not be upset if you cannot find anyone. God will give you what you need for your road to Him. He will not abandon you. If you feel abandoned, learn to trust more.

10) If you cannot find any wise Confessor or spiritual director, realize that you are experiencing what many people in the Church are experiencing across the world-a lack of holy priests, nuns, even bishops. We are in the midst of a Catholic leadership crisis and we may be just one more person who experiences this world-wide phenomenon. We are living in precarious times and we must endure what is happening without complaint. Millions of lay people have become holy without directors.

Some of these points are repetitions from earlier posts. Here are more posts connected with this topic.

03 Jun 2013
I was blessed with many long years of excellent spiritual direction. That was from 1971-2001, in my twenties, thirties and forties, or so, and 2006-2010, with a hiatus in Canada, and Alaska, where the problem of finding a ...
01 May 2012
I could write a book on trying to find a good spiritual director. I have had good ones and excellent ones. But, in England there is a twofold problem. The first is that priests are surprised when one asked them to consider this.
22 Jan 2013
Sadly, I have never had a person to give me spiritual direction. As you say, there are just not enough priests, religious or others with the time, desire and ability for it to be available to most lay persons who are committed to ...
24 Jun 2013
I wish I had seen your list years ago when looking for some serious spiritual direction. I had two 'directors' when I was much younger and they both charged me for it. They did not talk of sin as a reality or expect my own ...

03 Oct 2013
He started to devote more time to preaching retreats in Belgium and in the United Kingdom, and gave spiritual direction to many communities, particularly those of Carmelite nuns. He become the confessor of Mons. Joseph ...
29 Nov 2012
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 ...
20 Nov 2012
Nuns in the Benedictine monastery where I was do not receive spiritual direction at all. Now, this may seem strange, and it was hard for me in discernment, but the Rule of Benedict provides the format for discernment: that is, ...
01 Jun 2013
10) Are the leaders taking money for spiritual direction or so-called healing? If so, get out. 11) If the leaders are living openly in sin, either in irregular marriages or in some other obvious area, get out. Satan does not care how ...

The Obvious God

I do not usually watch television, but staying with a friend who does has been interesting. What astounds me, as I chose where I get my news and it is never the main stream media, are the number of shows dealing with money.

How many commentators are necessary to keep up the daily lies concerning the real state of the economies of Europe and America? Are people really duped by the myriad conversations, panels, debates?

I am no longer following these commentators on twitter, either. The preoccupation with false wealth deadens the spirit and warps the imagination. The preoccupation with wealth is idolatry.

The obvious gods of the vast majority of people are the accumulation of wealth and the consuming of goods. One of the most startling things about living in a land which relies on holiday makers for the vast majority of its income is the conspicuous waste of wealth. I want to crawl into a hole and stay there with bread and water at this point of my visit. Where are the hermits doing penance for all this waste?

A recent Gospel in daily Mass was this:

Luke 12:13-21

13 And one of the multitude said to him: Master, speak to my brother that he divide the inheritance with me.
14 But he said to him: Man, who hath appointed me judge, or divider, over you?
15 And he said to them: Take heed and beware of all covetousness; for a man's life doth not consist in the abundance of things which he possesseth.
16 And he spoke a similitude to them, saying: The land of a certain rich man brought forth plenty of fruits.
17 And he thought within himself, saying: What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18 And he said: This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and will build greater; and into them will I gather all things that are grown to me, and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul: Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years take thy rest; eat, drink, make good cheer.
20 But God said to him: Thou fool, this night do they require thy soul of thee: and whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?
21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God.

Take the Real God seriously when He speaks like not be a fool.  Our God will not be mocked by false gods.

A Blind World Is A Blind Guide

The world does not understand humility or selflessness. One can hardly live in a world where one is completely misunderstood in preferring the spiritual journey to that of the pursuit of success, money, status.

How strange it is that those of us who are trying to conform our wills to that of God's find ourselves at the edges of society.

This is part of the pain of the pursuit of love.

Few understand this.

Even those of Christ's day did not understand His message of service and humility.

But, Christ is very clear that those seeking the sophisticated, clever life will not make it to heaven.

He says this, not me.

And said: Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

More and more people write to me saying they are isolated in their parishes, communities, families.

This is the pain of following Christ seriously.

There is no easy way around this. One cannot make a goal on the outside of the soccer net. The ball must go into the net. So, too, with the life of holiness.

One cannot skip the rules or the stages of purgation.

The Dark Night cannot be avoided accept at the peril of one's own salvation.

Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33

My own struggle is that I have never had the luxury to depend on another person. I have had to make it the hard way as a single mum, as a single person. Those of us having to be independent and rely on ourselves must die to that self-reliance, which is a good thing, but stands in the way of perfection.

The old habits must die in order for something new to begin. I share this insight as I know I am not the only person who has had the experience of having to be self-reliant for years and years. But, God has a better idea. He calls us to be completely reliant on Him Alone.

However, God is the Person Who has looked after us. He has been in charge of every detail.

It is only in the Dark Night, when one sees the false self-reliance and fear of love, that God meets one.

The world will never help one in this journey and, in fact, discourages one with false wisdom.

To become a child is to trust completely in God. To seek the kingdom of God first is to forget about self entirely.

God bless those of you who are in the Dark Night. Persevere. Do not be afraid.

Friday 25 October 2013

More on the persecution watch regarding the US Army

Persecution Watch Europe

On The Lectio Divina

I went to a prayer and study day on the Lectio Divina, not because I needed to learn about this practice, but in order to meet some old friends. The two priests involved in the day were fantastic, and, as I was the only one taking notes, one of the organizers asked me to share some of the ideas of the day.

The priest who presented the material from the Book of Ruth was Father Stefan Attard, who teaches at the University here in Malta.

I shall not share all the details of the talks, but will highlight some of the important parts of Fr. Attard's unpacking of Ruth, and also his prayer meditation.

First, when one is approaching using Scripture in the Lectio Divina, as many of you know, the Catholic does not use any interpretations of Scripture, but those instructed by the Church. The first step is to understand the text from a historical and linguistic point of view, as well as how the particular book fits into the Canon of the Bible, as decided by Holy Mother Church.

Fr. Attard reminded us that Ruth, a story taking place in the time of the Judges, actually was written much later, as late as 450 BC.

As this short book is known to most Catholics, let me move on to a few points made by Father Attard for our consideration. The significance of marriage would be one of these seminal points. The book begins with marriages and ends with a marriage. The theme of marriage is important, as the love of God is shown through marriage, but also the love of God for His People, the Hebrews, is shown through the excellence of the person of Ruth herself.

Father emphasized Ruth's superior holiness by underlining the passage in the last chapter, Chapter Four, when the comparison of Ruth to Leah, Rachel and Tamar was made. The significance of the comparison is my second point from this talk. Ruth's holiness is seen in her fidelity, selflessness and purity.

Ruth is compared to the great wives of Israel, the mothers of the Twelve Tribes. These women are keys to the entire nation of Israel and to the genealogy of King David, and Christ Himself. But, Father pointed out that Ruth, as a Gentile, is being held up as equal and even superior in her love for Naomi and for Boaz, as she followed a poor mother-in-law into the Promised Land without any promises, with only a future of poverty. Ruth's faith in God was greater than most.

Also, Ruth is compared as being superior to Tamar, who had to trick Judah into fulfilling the levirate law of descendants. Ruth did not trick Boaz, but remained pure and trusting in God for the fulfillment of her destiny and the carrying on the the family name.

Ruth is shown as having complete trust in God, and as a Gentile, this is important for all of us who come from Gentile stock.

Another point made by Father Attard was that Ruth was a foreigner, and that the people of God should always be open to foreigners. As one of two foreigners in an audience of about sixty ladies, I found this emphasis interesting. That the people of God, of the promise, have a Moabitess as one of them shows the inclusiveness of God in His plan for salvation.

Father noted that at the time of the writing of the book, there had been a reaction by the Prophet Ezra and Nehemiah regarding the number of Hebrew men who were marrying Moabite women. (Perhaps they were better looking--or more virtuous.) That the author of the book repeats that Ruth was a Moabitess at least seven times, indicates that he wanted to show that even Gentiles could be holy spouses.

This background of the book led to the second talk which was a small prayer service, skipping the second stage of Lectio Divina, which is personal meditation, a la St. Ignatius, involving the active imagination, to the third stage, which is prayer. Father led the group through a series of prayers based on the book, including a prayer for openness to foreigners, to trusting totally in God, and the fact that God wants us to pursue holiness here and now.

It should be noted that Lectio Divina takes time and practice, even years, before one enters into Active Reflection, which I have noted on this blog in the perfection series.

On other women from the Bible...

From the best Catholic political blogger ever..........

The Breaking of the Storm the name of this painting of the great first martyrs in England in 1535, the great Carthusians of London. I have written about them before. See links below.

Today is the Feast of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales, a feast which includes the above and SS. Edmund Campion, Cuthbert Mayne, Margaret Ward and others.

I think it is a good time to teach the lives of these saints to your children. Name your new babies after them. Seek their patronage for your families.

My own son is named after two of the greatest martyrs of England. I could senses the signs of the times over 25 years ago.

The Breaking of the Storm will happen in my lifetime and yours.......

Here are some other posts on this subject.

correction from Catholic Online thanks to a reader

In England, these martyrs were formerly commemorated within the Catholic Church by a feast day on 25 October, which is also the feast of Saints Crispin and Crispinian, but they are now celebrated together with all the 284 canonized or beatified martyrs of the English Reformation on 4 May.

In Wales, the Catholic Church keeps 25 October as the feast of the 'Six Welsh Martyrs and their companions'. The Welsh Martyrs are the priests Philip Evans and John Lloyd, John Jones, David Lewis,John Roberts, and the teacher Richard Gwyn. The 'companions' are the 34 English Martyrs listed above. Wales continues to keep 4 May as a separate feast for the beatified martyrs of England and Wales.

Living in Truth or Deceit

People make choices daily whether to lie or tell the truth. Now, some people begin to lie on a regular basis and finally lose the ability to distinguish truth and deceit. Sometimes, people feel they have a right to lie to certain people and not to others.

In Catholicism, lying is a sin. Deceitfulness is a sign of pride and irresponsibility. Catholics follow the Bible in calling Satan, "the Father of Lies".

However, some religions allow deceit. Today, I met a person who was asking me questions. I asked him if he was a Catholic. He said "yes", but immediately, I knew he was lying. He told me his name and it is a Muslim name. He has a right, according to his religion, to lie to me, as I am, in his religion, as a Catholic, an infidel.

Sadly, I could tell that for this man, lying was a habit. Sadly, one cannot trust liars or have real friendships with them. Sadly, one must come to shun those who live in lies. These people have chosen to live in a darkness and not in a light, the Light Who is Christ.

I found this information on an Islamic website. You may find it interesting.

Are Muslims permitted to lie?

Summary Answer:
Muslim scholars teach that Muslims should generally be truthful to each other, unless the purpose of lying is to "smooth over differences."
There are two forms of lying to non-believers that are permitted under certain circumstances,taqiyya and kitman.  These circumstances are typically those that advance the cause Islam - in some cases by gaining the trust of non-believers in order to draw out their vulnerability and defeat them.

The Qur'an:
Qur'an (16:106) - Establishes that there are circumstances that can "compel" a Muslim to tell a lie.
Qur'an (3:28) - This verse tells Muslims not to take those outside the faith as friends, unless it is to "guard themselves." 
Qur'an (9:3) - "...Allah and His Messenger are free from liability to the idolaters..."  The dissolution of oaths with the pagans who remained at Mecca following its capture.  They did nothing wrong, but were evicted anyway.
Qur'an (40:28) - A man is introduced as a believer, but one who must "hide his faith" among those who are not believers.
Qur'an (2:225) - "Allah will not call you to account for thoughtlessness in your oaths, but for the intention in your hearts"  The context of this remark is marriage, which explains why Sharia allows spouses to lie to each other for the greater good.
Qur'an (66:2) - "Allah has already ordained for you, (O men), the dissolution of your oaths"
Qur'an (3:54) - "And they (the disbelievers) schemed, and Allah schemed (against them): and Allah is the best of schemers."  The Arabic word used here for scheme (or plot) ismakara, which literally means deceit.  If Allah is deceitful toward unbelievers, then there is little basis for denying that Muslims are allowed to do the same. (See also 8:30 and 10:21)
Taken collectively these verses are interpreted to mean that there are circumstances when a Muslim may be "compelled" to deceive others for a greater purpose

From the Hadith:

Bukhari (52:269) - "The Prophet said, 'War is deceit.'"  The context of this is thought to be the murder of Usayr ibn Zarim and his thirty unarmed men by Muhammad's men after he "guaranteed" them safe passage (see Additional Notes below).

Bukhari (49:857) - "He who makes peace between the people by inventing good information or saying good things, is not a liar."  Lying is permitted when the end justifies the means.

Bukhari (84:64-65) - Speaking from a position of power at the time, Ali confirms that lying is permissible in order to deceive an "enemy."

Muslim (32:6303) - "...he did not hear that exemption was granted in anything what the people speak as lie but in three cases: in battle, for bringing reconciliation amongst persons and the narration of the words of the husband to his wife, and the narration of the words of a wife to her husband (in a twisted form in order to bring reconciliation between them)."

Bukhari (50:369) - Recounts the murder of a poet, Ka'b bin al-Ashraf, at Muhammad's insistence.  The men who volunteered for the assassination used dishonesty to gain Ka'b's trust, pretending that they had turned against Muhammad.  This drew the victim out of his fortress, whereupon he was brutally slaughtered despite putting up a ferocious struggle for his life.

There is more on that website on this subject of permissible lying. A reader reminded me that we are to pray for our enemies. I do and hope you do as well.