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Saturday 16 February 2013

The Injustice of Judgement and the Gratitude for Growth

A Defence from a Single Mum and a Note of Gratitude

When we judge, we are acting like the pagans,  we have become "the world".

One of the worse things about being poor and defenceless is the hatred and judgement of other people.

I do not mind being hated for my Faith or Love for Christ. That type of hatred I wear like a badge of honour.

Yet, I still smart, which shows how imperfect I am, from the gross judgement of those who never talk to me, never ask me questions about my life, are simply not interested in me as a person, and yet make public statements of a judgemental nature about me.

This is not only irrational, but mean.

At least, make an effort to find out about someone, to learn, to listen, to be like Christ and be part of the healing of a person you may meet, and not a cause for more suffering.

I ask people to get facts straight before judging. Or better yet, refrain from judging at all.

At least be open to talking to people, dear Catholics. Talk and find out facts before making judgements.

Never make statements about someone's life if your really do not love them, or if they are not in your circle of dear friends  I go farther than that. Do not talk about other people at all. Christ Himself made Himself poor for us. People gossiped and judged God. Who am I to complain?

But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. Philippians 2:7 DR

As a Midwesterner, I learned a phrase from the nuns and in my family--MYOB.

Mind Your Own Business.

JUDGE not, that you may not be judged, Matthew 7:1. DR

Why Catholics are the worst at gossip and judgement than some other groups, I do not know.

God forgive all of us when we fall into this sin.

Wonder not, brethren, if the world hate you. 1 John 3:13 DR

When we judge, we are acting like the pagans,  we have become "the world".

I forgive those good people who judge me. These people are not only Catholics and laity, now, but priests and sisters who have not known poverty. They may have chosen poverty, but they do not recognize it in others as a gift. They cannot think outside the box. They cannot see Christ in others. I wonder why?

They do not know me. They have only met me once or twice. They know nothing of my background, my family, my self. Yet, they tell others my sins and what I should do. They do not talk to me. Odd. Why do people not go to the source of their gossip?

Of what are they afraid? Are they afraid that they might have to change their opinion? That they might have to love?

God keep me from such injustice, as that is what it is

I am amazed. But, then, if God was treated thus, why should I, a sinner, be so surprised? I expect more from my brothers and sisters in Christ.

They would have criticized Christ. I forgive them. Those who judge will be judged by Another. I am criticized. I am hated. I guess I am in Good Company. Someone else was hated by His own. I can barely imagine Christ's pain at being rejected. Or worse, by being thought to be Someone He was not and not seen for Who He Was.

He chose to become invisible. The Hidden God. 

We do not always recognize Christ in others.

 I just expect more from my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Especially those in habits. And, we all do not have families which are Catholic and value the priesthood. Some of us have families or members who are not Catholic.

The Church is my family.

That the Pope is going through the same injustices this week is clear. I suppose it is all part of following Christ. He is innocent and pure of heart. I am a sinner, and yet, none of us deserves judgement. Maybe this is why I like the man who sits outside of Sainsbury's and begs. I could be him. I AM him. When I can, I feed him. The poor feed the poor. He is me and I am him. That is what real justice is all about. I love him for who he is.

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not, abideth in death i John 3:14 DR

I choose to love. And, if I practice this daily, like my good mentors teach me, the hurt shall turn into joy. 

I say thank you to those who hate and judge me. You are giving me a chance to become holy.

Thank you for this opportunity to grow in love and grace. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Excellent Insider article on Vatican and Bertone

You will have to translate or use button. Worth reading.

Part of an article from Vatican Radio

Thousands flocking to Rome

(Vatican Radio) To date, 35 thousand people have registered with the Pontifical Household to attend Pope Benedict XVI’s “last great appointment with the People of God”, announced Holy See Press Office director Fr. Federico Lombardi in his daily briefing with journalists Saturday. Emer McCarthy reports:

Fr. Lombardi told press that the gathering on Wednesday February 27th will not follow the normal praxis of a general audience; there will be no catechesis but rather a Liturgy of the Word and a celebration of the pontificate.

He also revealed that the Vatican Television Centre will be broadcasting live Benedict XVI’s departure from the Apostolic Palace on Thursday 28th, following his final farewell to the College of Cardinals. Lombardi confirmed that Pope Benedict is expected to remain in Castel Gandolfo for a period of at least two months.


And the Holy Father is pushing ahead with issues of governance, such as his renewal of the Cardinals Commission charged with overseeing the IOR, or Institute of Religious Works for another 5 year term.

As of sundown this Sunday, the entire Roman Curia withdraws for a week-long Lenten retreat, led this year by Italian Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Vatican Council for Culture

There is more at link above...

Conclave can start earlier

Lombardi states that the conclave can start BEFORE March 15th, if all the Cardinals are there. And, why not?

  1. Summarizing. Lombardi says it appears conclave can start before March 15 if all cardinals are in Rome.

If you are travelling to Rome, this is good news. Last time I was in Walsingham, there was no ATM or Hole in the Wall.


No tweets will be coming from the conclave! Of course....

Catholic New Service seems to keep up well with the updates from Rome.

Part 29 St. Thomas Aquinas and Perfection

It is only in the Unitive State that there is some semblance of perfection. Even St. Paul states that he is striving after this perfection and unity. The counsels are given here by Aquinas, as he shows us not only the words of Christ as to how to reach perfection, but those of the Fathers of the Church. However, I think that Paul did come into the unitive state, as I can  try to show later. Obviously, one is only completely perfected if one is without sin or any desires contrary to the Will of God. We call a person a saint, one who has been canonized, which is a recognition that they reached this state and are in heaven. When the Church declares a person canonized, that is infallible-blesseds are not so. 

 The saints vary on the ability of humans to be completely without sin. Some saints state, yes, and then we work on the "imperfections", which are not sin but the tendencies to sin in our souls.


The Perfection of Love of God That Falls Under Counsel
When St. Paul had said, “Not as though I had already attained, or were already perfect,” and, “but I follow after, if I may by any means lay hold,” he added shortly afterwards, “Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded.” From these words we can see that although the perfection of the blessed is not possible to us in this life, we ought, to strive to imitate it as far as we can. And it is in this that the perfection of this life consists to which we are invited by the counsels.
For it is manifest that the human heart is more intensely drawn to one thing, to the degree that it is drawn back from many things. Thus the more a man is freed from the affection for temporal things, the more perfectly his mind will be borne to loving God. Hence St. Augustine says that "the desire of temporal things is the poison of charity; the growth of charity is the diminishment of cupidity, and the perfection of charity is no cupidity." (Eighty-Three Questions, Book 83, Quest. 1). Therefore all the counsels, which invite us to perfection, aim at this, that man's mind be turned away from affection to temporal objects, so that his mind may tend more freely to God, by contemplating him, loving him, and fulfilling his will.


The First Way to Perfection, Which is the Renunciation of Temporal Things
Among temporal goods the first we should renounce are external goods, which are called riches, and the Lord counseled this when he said, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Matt. 19:21). The utility of this counsel is shown by what follows. The first evidence for this is what in fact happened next. For when the young man who was asking about perfection heard this response, he went away sad. And as St. Jerome says in his commentary on Matthew, “The cause of his sadness is stated: "He had many possessions," which were thorns and thistles that choked the seed of the Lord’s words.” And St. Chrysostom, explaining the same passage, says that, "those who possess little are not hindered in the same way as are those who abound in riches; for the increase of wealth enkindles a greater fire [of desire for wealth], and avarice grows stronger.” 

I like how the great saint uses the Fathers of the Church and other Doctors of the Church. His knowledge is amazing. Paul, Jerome, Chrysostom, Augustine....

Of course, this first counsel is against the desire and accumulation of wealth and things. It is always harder to give up what we have than what we do not have.

St. Augustine, too, says in his letter to Paulinus and Therasia that “we are more firmly fetterd by love for the earthly things that we possess, than by desire for the things we seek; for why did this young man go away sad, except because he had many possessions? For it is one thing not to want to acquire things that we do not have, but quite another to give up the things we already have. For these things may be repudiated as extrinsic to ourselves, but to give up those things we already have is [experience] like giving up the limbs of our body.

It is not impossible for a rich man, but it is hard and here is the key--the Kingdom of God is the unity of the soul with God.

The utility of this counsel is secondly manifested by the words the Lord goes on to say, "It will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." For as St. Jerome says, “It is because it is hard to despise the riches that we have. Our Lord did not say that it is impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, but that it is hard. When he affirms difficulty, he does not indicate that it is impossible  but shows the rarity of it.” 

And, as St. Chrysostom says on the Gospel of St. Matthew, the Lord goes further, proving that it is impossible, when he says “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” “From these words,” says St. Augustine, “the disciples understood that all who covet riches are included in the number of the rich; otherwise, since the number of the wealthy is small in comparison with the multitude of the poor, the disciples would not have asked, “Who then can be saved?” (Questions on the Gospel)

Remember that the entire family of Bernard of Clairvaux gave up riches and status--can we be so brave?

Can we love so much?

From these two sayings of Our Lord it is clearly shown that it it hard for those who have riches to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. For as the Lord himself says elsewhere, “The cares of this world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Matt. 13:22). Indeed it is impossible for those who love riches inordinately to enter heaven, and much more impossible than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. For the latter feat is impossible because it is contrary to nature, while the former is impossible because it is contrary to divine justice, which is more powerful than any created nature. From this, then, the reason for this divine counsel becomes evident; for a counsel is given concerning that which is more useful, according to what St. Paul says, “In this matter I give my advice, for this is useful for you” (2 Cor. 8:10). But to attain eternal life, it is more useful to give up riches than to possess them; for those who possess wealth will with difficulty enter the kingdom of heaven, since it is difficult for one's affection not to be bound to the riches that one possesses, which attachment to riches makes it impossible to enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore the Lord's counsel to renounce riches was a salutary counsel.

This all has to do with the heart. If your heart is stuffed full with things and people to who you are overly attached, there will be no room for God.

But someone might object, against the foregoing, that St. Matthew and Zaccheus had riches, and yet entered the kingdom of heaven. But St. Jerome answers this objection, saying, “We should consider that at the time when they entered, they had ceased to be wealthy.” But Abraham never ceased to be rich; he died a rich man, leaving his riches to his sons, as we read in Genesis. According to what was said he seems not to have been perfect, and yet the Lord said to him, “Be perfect” (Gen. 17:1)

How interesting is this comment on Abraham. God is indicating a path for perfection here. It is the WAY. It is the BEGINNING. A rich man like Abraham may come to perfection with grace but not without trials. Abraham's trial was the offering of his son, which God interrupted in mercy and grace.

This question could not be resolved if the perfection of Christian life consisted in the very renunciation of wealth. For it would follow that no one who possessed riches could be perfect. But if we consider the Lord's words carefully, he does not locate perfection in the very giving up of wealth, but shows that this is a certain way to perfection, as his very way of speaking shows, “If you would be perfect, go, sell all that you possess and give to the poor, and follow me,” indicating that perfection consists in the following of Christ, while the renunciation of riches is a way to perfection. 

Hence St. Jerome says on the Gospel of St. Matthew, “Since giving up our possessions is not sufficient, Peter adds that wherein perfection consists, when he says, ‘And we have followed you.’” Origen, too, says on the same passage, “The words, ‘if you would be perfect’ are not to be understood as though a man becomes immediately perfect when he has given his goods to the poor, but that from that time, the contemplation of God begins to lead him to all virtues.” 

In other words, we cannot begin our journey without being freed in the soul and mind and heart from riches.

For some of us, this takes a lifetime of denial, or loss. For others, this is a great gift of immediate hatred for things and position.

It can therefore happen that a rich man is perfect, clinging to God with perfect charity. And in this way Abraham, who possessed riches, was perfect--his soul was not entagled in riches, but was totally united to God. And this is what the words of the Lord spoken to him signify, “Walk before me and be perfect,” showing that his perfection lay in walking before God, and in loving Him completely, even unto the contempt of himself and of all that belonged to him. And he showed this especially in his readiness to sacrifice his son. Hence the Lord said to him, “Because you have done this, and for my sake have not withheld your son, I will bless you” (Gen. 22:16).

But if anyone wants to argue from this that the Lord's counsel about renouncing wealth is useless, because Abraham was perfect, though he possessed riches, the response to him is evident from what has been already said. For the reason the Lord gave this counsel was not because rich men cannot be perfect, or cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, but because they cannot do so easily. 

It is hard, simply put. And, therefore, we see how good, how virtuous was Abraham. 

The virtue of Abraham was therefore very great, that although he possessed wealth, his soul was detached from wealth. In a similar way Samson's strength was great, since armed only with the jawbone of an ass, he slew many enemies; and yet counsel is not uselessly given to a soldier to take up arms in combat with his foes. Neither, then, is it useless to counsel those who desire perfection to renounce their earthly goods, although Abraham was perfect with all his wealth.

Blessed man and we call him St. Abraham in the Catholic Church.

[Practical] conclusions are not to be drawn from wonderful deeds; for the weak are more capable of wondering at and praising such deeds than of imitating them. Hence we read in Sirach 31:8, “Blessed is the rich man who is found without stain, and who has not gone after gold, nor put his trust in money or in treasures.” This passage shows that the rich man who does not contract the stain of sin by the affection for riches, who does not go after gold by covetousness, nor extol himself over others by pride, trusting in his riches, is indeed a man of great virtue, and adhering to God with perfect charity

Hence St. Paul says to Timothy, “Charge the rich of this world not to be high-minded, nor to trust in the uncertainty of riches” (1 Tim. 6:17). But the greater the blessedness and the virtue of rich persons of this kind, the smaller is their number. Hence [the passage of Sirach] continues, “Who is he, and we will praise him? for he has done wonderful things in his life.” For truly he who while abounding in riches has not set his heart upon them has done wonderful things, and if there is such a person, he has without doubt been proven perfect. Hence it continues, “Who has been tried therein,” i.e., as to whether he can live a sinless life while possessing riches, “and found perfect?” as though it were to say: “such a man is rare," and for him "it will merit for him eternal glory,” which is in harmony with the saying of the Lord, that "it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven."

And, God gives His gifts and graces to whom He Wills. We are not to be upset or envious of this fact.

For most of us, the way is not riches, but poverty, either by will or by circumstance.

Abraham's heart, soul and mind were free to love God totally.

This, then, is the first way for reaching perfection, that someone, out of the desire to follow Christ, renounces riches and chooses poverty.
To be continued.........................

Part 28, The Universal Doctor of the Church and Perfection

There is only one Universal Doctor of the Church and that is St. Thomas Aquinas, the last Dominican in the series, but not the least.

Among the volumes of his work, On the Perfection of the Spiritual Life will take up several posts to examine even in part.

Of course, the reason for this journey is the discovery of the Love of God and love of our neighbour. 

I cannot cover the entire book here, but only highlight some passages. I am starting with Chapter Five, as the title will explain the significance. I find both Albert and Aquinas easy to understand, but I shall break up the selections and make comments in red this time.

One may think on these rather simple sounding words, as these are profound. Ask yourself why this perfection is necessary for salvation.


The Perfection of Love of God That is Necessary to Salvation
In another way we love God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength, if nothing in us is lacking to divine love, if there is nothing which we do not, actually or habitually, refer to God. And a precept is given concerning this divine love.

First, man should refer all things to God as his end, as the Apostle says: "Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Cor 10:31). One fulfills this when one orders his life to God's service, and thus all the things that he does for himself, he virtually orders to God, unless they are things that lead away from God, such as sins: thus man loves God with his whole heart.

Again, we see the movement away from sin into order in one's life. This order is both within and without.
Discipline would be implied in this order. In this order, we place all we do under God's Will. The reference to eating and drinking is not facetious, but real. All the little things we do can be done in and with God.

The eating and drinking pertain to the body, and so the body comes to love God as well as the mind and the soul

Secondly, man should subject his intellect to God, believing those things that are divinely revealed, according to the Apostle: "taking understanding captivity, unto the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor 10:5). Thus man loves God with his whole mind.

This section reminds me of the old catechism answer. Our intellect is to be formed in God. I love the phrase, which indicated that understanding is under and leads to more obedience. This is part of the formation of our consciences, which must be conformed to the Teaching of the Church. It is in the Church that we know God's Will. Belief first, understanding second...........for most people.

Thirdly, all the things a man loves, he should love in God, and universally refer all his affection to the love of God; hence the Apostle says "whether we be transported in mind it is to God, or whether we be sober, it is for you; for the charity of Christ presses us" (2 Cor. v. 13). Thus man loves God with his whole soul.

We see the progression from body to mind and to soul. This is the movement we have seen in other writers as well. This is also the form of purgation. We are cleansed of our gross sins, then the mind is purified and finally, the soul.

We love with all three.

Fourthly, man should derive all his external works, words and deeds from divine love, according to the Apostle: "Let all your things be done in love" (1 Cor 16:14), and thus a man loves God with all his strength.

Here is the most misunderstood part of perfection, for unless we love, our actions are in vain.

This is, then, the third mode of perfect divine love, to which all are bound by the necessity of precept. But the second mode is not possible to anyone in this life, unless he is at the same time a wayfarer and an enjoyer of beatitude, as was our Lord Jesus Christ

So, this mode is what we all must do for salvation. And, this is possible with grace. 

"God made me to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him in this world and in the next."

To be continued.................

Perfection and Albert continued in Part 27 of Doctors of the Church series

This may be the hard part for many who decide to come closer to Jesus. The pursuit of love must come without tangible devotion or the looking for consolation. I know many, many Catholics who have given up the search for perfection after hitting the long period of purgation which is marked by the lack of consolation.

But, the reason for this is simple-God wants us to love Him for Himself and not for the goodies He brings. Let us look at Albert on not seeking consolations.......

Chapter 10

That one should not be concerned about feeling tangible devotion so much as about cleaving to God with one’s will

Furthermore you should not be much concerned about tangible devotion, the experience of sweetness or tears, but rather that you should be mentally united with God within yourself by a good will in your intellect. 

That is clear!

For what pleases God above everything is a mind free from imaginations, that is images, ideas and the representations of created things. It befits a monk to be indifferent to everything created so that he can turn easily and barely to God alone within himself, be empty for him and cleave to him.

 For this reason deny yourself so that you can follow Christ, the Lord your God, in nakedness, who was himself poor, obedient, chaste, humble and suffering, and in whose life and death many were scandalised, as is clear from the Gospel accounts. After all, a soul which is separated from the body pays no attention to what is done to its abandoned body - whether it is burned, hanged, or reviled, and is in no way saddened by the afflictions imposed on the body, but thinks only of the Now of eternity and the One Thing which the Lord calls necessary in the Gospel. 

Albert knows from experience that God is the NOW. God is the All Present. And we should immerse ourselves into that Now, no matter what. We put the spiritual life first, above all things and seek our salvation and that of those around us, those to whom God has put in our care, first.

So you too should treat your body as if you were no longer in the body, but think always of the eternity of your soul in God, and direct your thoughts carefully to that One Thing of which Christ said, For one thing is necessary. (Luke 10.42) You will experience because of it great grace, helping you towards the acquisition of nakedness of mind and simplicity of heart. Indeed this One Thing is very much present with you if you have made yourself bare of imaginations and all other entanglements, and you will soon experience that this is so - namely when you can be empty and cleave to God with a naked and resolute mind. In this way you will remain unconquered in whatever may be inflicted on you, like the holy martyrs, fathers, the elect, and indeed all the saints who despised everything and only thought of their souls’ security and eternity in God. 

Note that we are then like the martyrs, as I mentioned before, going to God with nothing but our love and wills. The denial of self brings us to this sublime place of loving God before our own bodies. 

Armed in this way within, and united to God through a good will, they spurned everything of the world as if their souls were already separated from their bodies. Consider from this how much a good will united with God is capable of, when by means of its pressing towards God the soul is effectively separated from the body in spirit and looks on its outward man as it were from a distance, and as not belonging to it. In this way it despises everything that is inflicted on itself or on its flesh as if they were happening to someone else, or not to a human being at all. 

Can you imagine loving someone and not putting them first? Can you imagine holding back in love? Can you imagine not wanting with your whole heart, and mind, and soul, not wanting to be with the Beloved? I cannot.

For He that is united with the Lord is one Spirit, (1 Corinthians 6.17) that is with him. So you should never dare to think or imagine anything before the Lord your God that you would blush to be heard or seen in before men, since your respect for God should be even greater than for them. It is a matter of justice in fact that all your thoughts and thinking should be raised to God alone, and the highest point of your mind should only be directed to him as if nothing existed but him, and holding to him may enjoy the perfect beginning of the life to come.

To be continued..............

How cool and did you know spiders have a good side?

Did you know...
that a single strand of this spider's silk

can help generate this diffraction pattern over the interferogram shown above, corresponding to N = 3 slits, used in optical communications in free space, between spacecrafts, atom optics, Fourier imaging, optical computing, and quantum computing? I need to read more about the N-slit interferometer....

St. Albert the Great would love this!

And yet more on perfection and Albert the Great-Part 26 DoC

Contemplation comes after the stages described in this series; purification and purgation, usually with vocal prayer, meditation which includes both active and passive meditation, and then, and only then, contemplation. There are a few saints I am sure who moved very quickly through these stages, but even Teresa of Avila took years and years. 

One must start as young as one can organize one's life to do so. These selections from St. Albert will hopefully encourage those who are praying and who want to love God before all else.

Chapter 9

How much the contemplation of God is to be preferred to all other exercises

Now since all things other than God are the effect and work of the Creator himself, their having ability and being is a limited power and existence, and being as they are created out of nothing, they are circumscribed by the effects of their nothingness, while their tendency of themselves towards nothingness means that we receive our existence, preservation and activity moment by moment from the Creator himself, along with whatever other qualities created things may have, just as we receive their insufficiency to any action of themselves, both with regard to themselves and to others, in relation to him whose operation they are, they remain as a nothing before something which exists, and as something finite before what is infinite. 

What is absolutely essential to remember is that none of this happens unless the person has chosen orthodoxy and is focussing on Christ Himself. There is no room in all of these stages for messing about with mysticism or spiritualities outside those of the Catholic Church. Such efforts are doomed to lead to narcissism or worse, demonic activity. One cannot substitute orthodoxy and all the great saints presuppose that the person on the journey to perfection is grounded in the Faith. This does not mean that the person has to be a theologian or philosopher, but that each man, woman and child must be obedient to the teachings of the Church.

God gives His grace where He wills, but the tradition of the Church, which does not recognize holiness in non-Catholics to the point of canonization, is that true faith includes humble obedience. Even a child can enter into contemplation, but only if pure at heart. Some child saints have been persevered for such, but if you notice in the lists of saints, most child saints were martyrs--the martyr reaches perfection by sharing in the Passion of Christ directly. 

For this reason let all our actual contemplation, life and activity take place in him alone, about him, for him and towards him who is able and capable to produce with a single nod of his will things infinitely more perfect than any that exist now. No contemplation and fruition of love, whether intellectual or affective, is more useful, more perfect and more satisfying than that which is of God himself, the Creator, our supreme and true Good, from whom, through whom and to whom are all things. He is infinitely satisfying both to himself and to all others, who contains within himself in absolute simplicity and from all eternity the perfection of all things, in whom there is nothing which is not himself, before whom and through whom remain the causes of all things impermanent, and in whom dwell the unchanging origins of all changing things, while even the eternal reasons of all temporal things, rational and irrational, abide in him. He brings everything to completion, and fills all things, in general and in particular, completely and essentially with himself. 

Simply put, we are focussed on Christ. 

He is more intimately and more really present to everything by his being than each thing is to itself, for in him all things are united together, and live in him eternally. What is more, if someone, out of weakness or from lack of intellectual practice, is detained longer in the contemplation of created things, this supreme, true and fruitful contemplation may still be seen as possible for mortal man, so that there may take place an upward leap in all his contemplations and meditations, whether about created things or the Creator, and the appreciation of God the Creator himself, the One and Three, may surge up within so that he come to burn with the fire of divine love and the true life in himself and in others, in such a way as to make him deserving of the joy of eternal life. 

How wonderful is God's grace that He invites us into unity with Him without our having to be perfect--in other words, at this stage, Christ perfects us in Love. We have done what we can and followed the road, which is hard and true, but He gives His overwhelming Love to carry us on.

Even in this one should bear in mind the difference between the contemplation of faithful Catholics and that of pagan philosophers, for the contemplation of the philosophers is for the perfection of the contemplator himself, and consequently it is confined to the intellect and their aim in it is intellectual knowledge.

 But the contemplation of the Saints, and of Catholics, is for the love of him, that is of the God they are contemplating. As a result it is not confined in the final analysis to the intellect in knowledge, but crosses over into the will through love. That is why the Saints in their contemplation have the love of God as their principal aim, since it is more satisfying to know and possess even the Lord Jesus Christ spiritually through grace than physically or even really but without grace

Albert is clear here that it is Catholic who know Who they are contemplating. We do not approach a pagan god or goddess, but the Trinity. And, we do not contemplate war or destruction, but love. Ask for these graces. These are yours for the asking as you are already a child of God through baptism.

Furthermore, while the soul is withdrawn from everything and is turned within, the eye of contemplation is opened and sets itself up a ladder by which it can pass to the contemplation of God. By this contemplation the soul is set on fire for eternal things by the heavenly and divine good things it experiences, and views all the things of time from a distance and as if they were nothing. Hence when we approach God by the way of negation, we first deny him everything that can be experienced by the body, the senses and the imagination, secondly even things experienceable by the intellect, and finally even being itself in so far as it is found in created things. 

John of the Cross will echo this language, hundreds of years after this writing. So, too, Bernard of Clairvaux and many others understood this type of Love. Sometimes this Love is described as fire and sometimes as a great cloud. The Pillars of Fire and Smoke.................

This, so far as the nature of the way is concerned, is the best means of union with God, according to Dionysius. And this is the cloud in which God is said to dwell, which Moses entered, and through this came to the inaccessible light. Certainly, it is not the spiritual which comes first, but the natural, (1 Corinthians 15.46) so one must proceed by the usual order of things, from active work to the quiet of contemplation, and from moral virtues to spiritual and contemplative realities. 

One cannot skip steps...........

Finally, my soul, why are you uselessly preoccupied with so many things, and always busy with them? Seek out and love the one supreme good, in which is all that is worth seeking, and that will be enough for you. Unhappy therefore is he who knows and possesses everything other than this, and does not know this. While if he knows everything as well as this, it is not from knowing them that he is better off but because of This. That is why John says, This is eternal life, to know Thee, etc. (John 17.3) and the prophet says, I will be satisfied when your glory becomes manifest. (Psalm 17.15)

And, again, as a few days ago, we return in Albert to David and Moses and John, the saints who show us the Love of God.

To be continued...................

Part 25 of the DoC series: more Albert the Great

from St. comments are in blue as usual.

Chapter 8

How a religious man should commit himself to God in all circumstances whatsoever

I am now completely convinced that you will recognise from these arguments that the more you strip yourself of the products of your imagination and all worldly and created things, and are united to God with your intellect by a good will, the closer you will approach the state of innocence and perfection. What could be better? And what could be more happy and joyful? Above all it is important for you to keep your mind bare - without imaginations and images and free of any sort of entanglement, so that you are not concerned about either the world, friends, prosperity or adversity, or anything present, past or future, whether in yourself or in others - not even your own sins. 

Here we have very good advice which some of us have received in the confessional as to not going over past sins. The evil one wants us to get bogged down in the past instead of concentrating on the present (not the future).

But consider yourself with a certain pure simplicity to be alone with God outside the world, and as if your mind were already in eternity and separated from the body so that it will certainly not bother about worldly things or be concerned about the state of the world, about peace or war, about good weather or rain, or about anything at all in this world, but with complete docility will turn to God alone, be empty for him and cleave to him. So now in this way ignore your body and all created things, present or future, and direct the high point of your mind and spirit directly, as best you can, naked and unencumbered on the uncreated light. 

Theology of the Body people will not like this, however, Albert's insights are proved correct by countless other saints, such as Aquinas, Bernard of Clairvaux, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and others. The point is not to get bogged down with the things of this world.

And let your spirit be cleansed in this way from all imaginations, coverings and things obscuring its vision, like an angel (not) tied to a body, who is not hindered by the works of the flesh nor tangled in vain and wandering thoughts. Let your spirit therefore arm itself against all temptations, vexations, and injuries so that it can persevere steadily in God when attacked by either face of fortune. 

So that when some inner disturbance or boredom or mental confusion come you will not be indignant or dejected because of it, nor run back to vocal prayers or other forms of consolation, but only to lift yourself up in your intellect by a good will to hold on to God with your mind whether the natural inclination of the body wills it or not

The religious-minded soul should be so united to God and should have or render its will so conformed to the divine will that it is not occupied with any created thing or cling to it any more than before it was created, and as if nothing existed except God and the soul itself. 

I think what is meant here is that one keeps God as the focus of one's life. I know a couple with children and the man gets up early to read the Scriptures of an hour. The wife makes breakfast for herself and the children and she takes an hour during the day to do the same-Lectio Divina. If she has not been able to do so, she will take time when the husband comes home from work.

Single people have the advantage of organizing their own time without having to work around another person's schedule. To be honest, there is no excuse of a single person not to have intense prayer time and the reading of the Scriptures. This should come before multiple activities, such as going to the gym or being at church several times a week. Simplicity of life will help focus one on God. This next section could be applied to singles and encourage them to make vows of chastity and poverty. 

And in this way it should accept everything confidently and equally, in general and in particular, from the hand of divine providence, agreeing in everything with the Lord in patience, peace and silence. The thing is that the most important thing of all for a spiritual life is to strip the mind of all imaginations so that one can be united in one’s intellect to God by a good will, and conformed to him. Besides, nothing will then be intermediary between you and God. This is obvious, since nothing external will stand between you when by the vow of voluntary poverty you will have removed the possession of anything whatsoever, and by the vow of chastity you will have abandoned your body, and by obedience you will have given up your will and your soul itself. And in this way nothing will be left to stand between you and God.

The great spiritual writers tell us that the main role of the contemplative religious orders is the pursuit of perfection. I have mentioned some of these writers in past posts. St. Benedict's Rule is about this pursuit, but as my Benedictine mentor has noted, God calls all men and women to this path, not merely the religious.

 That you are a religious person is indicated by your profession, your state, and now your habit and tonsure and such like, but whether you are only a religious in appearance or a real one, you will find out. Bear in mind therefore how greatly you have fallen away and sin against the Lord your God and all his justice if you behave otherwise and cling with your will and love to what is created rather than to the Creator himself, putting the created before the Creator