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Tuesday 12 February 2013


"There are no people who work Korea at the top levels of the policy team," a senior Washington Asia hand told The Cable. "They've been in the driver's seat, but they don't know where they are going."

Part Sixteen on the Doctors of the Church and Perfection-Lawrence of Brindisi

A man's holiness and walk in perfection may be sensed and even defined by works. Lawrence of Brindisi shows a  high stage of holiness in his ability to bring together the love of God with preaching, a call he answered in several countries in Europe. Here, he is calling on priests, specifically, to preach the Word of God so that people may come to perfection. He notes that the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity are fed, are encouraged in the Scriptures.

Two points for those seeking perfection from this snippet, are that the reading of Scripture is absolutely necessary in the pursuit of perfection. This is one reason why priests and religious, such as the Benedictines, make time daily for the Lectio Divina. I am convinced that without the daily reading and pondering of Scripture, holiness is impossible.

Secondly, for the person seeking perfection, all sin must be overcome. The daily reading and pondering of Scripture aids, like water in the desert, this victory over sin. There is a grace in reading the Scriptures daily.

The highlights are my own. I am aware that there is a twelve volume set of his writings in print, but not on line.

Therefore, a snippet from the work, Preaching is an apostolic duty

There is a spiritual life that we share with the angels of heaven and with the divine spirits, for like them we have been formed in the image and likeness of God. The bread that is necessary for living this life is the grace of the Holy Spirit and the love of God. But grace and love are nothing without faith, since without faith it is impossible to please God. And faith is not conceived unless the word of God is preached. Faith comes through hearing, and what is heard is the word of Christ. The preaching of the word of God, then, is necessary for the spiritual life, just as the planting of seed is necessary for bodily life.

     Christ says: The sower went out to sow his seed. The sower goes out as a herald of justice. On some occasions we read that the herald was God, for example, when with a living voice from heaven he gave the law of justice to a whole people in the desert.

     On other occasions, the herald was an angel of the Lord, as when he accused the people of transgressing the divine law at Bochim, in the place of weeping. At this all the sons of Israel, when they heard the angel's address, became sorrowful in their hearts, lifted up their voices, and wept bitterly. Then again, Moses preached the law of the Lord to the whole people on the plains of Moab, as we read in Deuteronomy. Finally, Christ came as God and man to preach the word of the Lord, and for the same purpose he sent the apostles, just as he had sent the prophets before them.

     Preaching therefore, is a duty that is apostolic, angelic, Christian, divine. The word of God is replete with manifold blessings, since it is, so to speak, a treasure of all goods. It is the source of faith, hope, charity, all virtues, all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, all the beatitudes of the Gospel, all good works, all the rewards of life, all the glory of paradise: Welcome the word that has taken root in you, with its power to save you.

     For the word of God is a light to the mind and a fire to the will. It enables man to know God and to love him. And for the interior man who lives by the Spirit of God, through grace, it is bread and water, but a bread sweeter than honey and the honeycomb, a water better than wine and milk. For the soul it is a spiritual treasure of merits yielding an abundance of gold and precious stones. Against the hardness of a heart that persists in wrongdoing, it acts as a hammer. Against the world, the flesh and the devil it serves as a sword that destroys all sin. 

Part Fifteen: The Third Franciscan Doctor of the Church, Lawrence of Brindisi

The Capuchin had a brain the size of a planet. Not only did he excel in the usual studies of his time, (1559-1619), but he knew most of the European languages as well as the Semitic languages, making him not only a Biblical scholar, but beloved of the Jews, many of whom he converted.

I remember him as the chaplain of the Imperial Army which fought in the great Battle of Stulweissenburg,  As the Catholic Encyclopedia notes: To pit 18,000 men against 80,000 Turks was a daring undertaking and the generals, hesitating to attempt it, appealed to Lorenzo for advice. Holding himself responsible for victory, he communicated to the entire army in a glowing speech the ardour and confidence with which he was himself animated. As his feebleness prevented him from marching, he mounted on horseback and, crucifix in hand, took the lead of the army, which he drew irresistibly after him. Three other Capuchins were also in the ranks of the army. Although the most exposed to danger, Lorenzo was not wounded, which was universally regarded as due to a miraculous protection. The city was finally taken, and the Turks lost 30,000 men. As however they still exceeded in numbers the Christian army, they formed their lines anew, and a few days later another battle was fought. It always the chaplain who was at the head of the army. "Forward!" he cried, showing them the crucifix, "Victory is ours." The Turks were again defeated, and the honour of this double victory was attributed by the general and the entire army to Lorenzo.

But, it is because of his great inner life of contemplation that I include him in this series on perfection and the Doctors of the Church. Again, to be declared a Doctor of the Church, besides great holiness, the saint must have produced writings which the Church can recommend. Again, I quote the Catholic Encyclopedia on line:

The known writings of St. Lorenzo of Brindisi comprise eight volumes of sermons, two didactic treatises on oratory, a commentary on Genesis, another on Ezechiel, and three volumes of religious polemics. Most of his sermons are written in Italian, the other works being in Latin. The three volumes of controversies have notes in Greek and Hebrew.

I am also amazed at the energies of such great saints in producing so many works while preaching, teaching, doing missionary work, organizing and running an order and in Lawrence's case, fighting battles.

In the next post, I shall highlight some of his writings.

The Loss of Lady Mary--a timely meditation

This was a temporary loss. Once the apostles and disciples realized Mary's tomb was empty and that she was assumed into heaven for her purity and status as the Theotokos, they would rejoice. But, now, for a moment. as they prepared her body for the tomb, they mourn.

So, too, we mourn for many people and many sins, for lost friendships, for lost opportunities, for lost health. But, all this is for a moment. The angels have trumpets and one holds the crown of the Queen of Heaven. She lives and listens to our prayers, our Lovely Lady Mary. Have a holy Lent.

Psalm 30:5

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

This week, do not mourn too long, as God is in charge of all things. 

By the way, there were 27 posts on this blog yesterday and an almost record number of readers. God bless you all and thanks.

More from Pope Benedict on Love...Deus Caritas Est

I have another series from last year on this fantastic encyclical. But, as it is the week of Valentine's Day, I want to emphasize real love.

We have seen that God's eros for man is also totally agape. This is not only because it is bestowed in a completely gratuitous manner, without any previous merit, but also because it is love which forgives. Hosea above all shows us that this agape dimension of God's love for man goes far beyond the aspect of gratuity. Israel has committed “adultery” and has broken the covenant; God should judge and repudiate her. It is precisely at this point that God is revealed to be God and not man: “How can I give you up, O Ephraim! How can I hand you over, O Israel! ... My heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my fierce anger, I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst” (Hos 11:8-9). God's passionate love for his people—for humanity—is at the same time a forgiving love. It is so great that it turns God against himself, his love against his justice. Here Christians can see a dim prefigurement of the mystery of the Cross: so great is God's love for man that by becoming man he follows him even into death, and so reconciles justice and love.

The philosophical dimension to be noted in this biblical vision, and its importance from the standpoint of the history of religions, lies in the fact that on the one hand we find ourselves before a strictly metaphysical image of God: God is the absolute and ultimate source of all being; but this universal principle of creation—the Logos, primordial reason—is at the same time a lover with all the passion of a true love. Eros is thus supremely ennobled, yet at the same time it is so purified as to become one with agape. We can thus see how the reception of the Song of Songs in the canon of sacred Scripture was soon explained by the idea that these love songs ultimately describe God's relation to man and man's relation to God. 

Thus the Song of Songs became, both in Christian and Jewish literature, a source of mystical knowledge and experience, an expression of the essence of biblical faith: that man can indeed enter into union with God—his primordial aspiration. But this union is no mere fusion, a sinking in the nameless ocean of the Divine; it is a unity which creates love, a unity in which both God and man remain themselves and yet become fully one. As Saint Paul says: “He who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him” (1 Cor 6:17)

On Love from Pope Benedict XVI for perfection....

from Deus Caritas Est on perfection and love

Concretely, what does this path of ascent and purification entail? How might love be experienced so that it can fully realize its human and divine promise? Here we can find a first, important indication in the Song of Songs, an Old Testament book well known to the mystics. According to the interpretation generally held today, the poems contained in this book were originally love-songs, perhaps intended for a Jewish wedding feast and meant to exalt conjugal love. In this context it is highly instructive to note that in the course of the book two different Hebrew words are used to indicate “love”. First there is the word dodim, a plural form suggesting a love that is still insecure, indeterminate and searching. This comes to be replaced by the word ahabĂ , which the Greek version of the Old Testament translates with the similar-sounding agape, which, as we have seen, becomes the typical expression for the biblical notion of love. By contrast with an indeterminate, “searching” love, this word expresses the experience of a love which involves a real discovery of the other, moving beyond the selfish character that prevailed earlier. Love now becomes concern and care for the other. No longer is it self-seeking, a sinking in the intoxication of happiness; instead it seeks the good of the beloved: it becomes renunciation and it is ready, and even willing, for sacrifice.

It is part of love's growth towards higher levels and inward purification that it now seeks to become definitive, and it does so in a twofold sense: both in the sense of exclusivity (this particular person alone) and in the sense of being “for ever”. Love embraces the whole of existence in each of its dimensions, including the dimension of time. It could hardly be otherwise, since its promise looks towards its definitive goal: love looks to the eternal. Love is indeed “ecstasy”, not in the sense of a moment of intoxication, but rather as a journey, an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God: “Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it” (Lk 17:33), as Jesus says throughout the Gospels (cf. Mt 10:39; 16:25; Mk 8:35; Lk9:24; Jn 12:25). In these words, Jesus portrays his own path, which leads through the Cross to the Resurrection: the path of the grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies, and in this way bears much fruit. Starting from the depths of his own sacrifice and of the love that reaches fulfilment therein, he also portrays in these words the essence of love and indeed of human life itself.

A Valentine for Pope Benedict XVI

We love you, Dear Holy Father. 

We pray for you and for the Church.

The impetus for following private revelations

Pride is the main reason by people follow seers and private revelations.

The second reason is curiosity, a sin

The third reason is a lack of Faith.

Those who are overly interested in such are modern day gnostics.

Christ said: But of that day or hour no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father. Mark 13:32, DR

The readiness is all. Be not afraid.

The cursing of the fig tree

Only one essay for competition?

So far, I have received only one, (albeit a very good one), entry for the love comment contest.

Come on, folks....

Winner gets published in a post.

Only today, Wednesday and Thursday a.m. GMT for entries.

Doctors of the Church series resumes on Wednesday

Poor Anthony of Padua and Bonaventure most likely got lost yesterday with all the attention on the Pope.

Scroll down to the first posts of the day yesterday.

I shall post one tomorrow on the Third Franciscan Doctor, the Capuchin, Lawrence of Brindisi, who was in a real battle against the Muslims.

I wonder if Benedict XVI will be named a Doctor of the Church?

UPDATE: more on Tuesday, today, as I am on line!