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Sunday 24 February 2013

Housekeeping Note

I just realized that some of the Perfection Series posts have the tag "perfection" and some "perfection again". I am not going to go back in the near future and correct this by adding both to the posts. Sorry, but if you want the entire series, including all the Doctors of the Church to this point, you will have to click on both tags.

Apologies. But, such is life in the blogosphere...

On St. Peter and the Transfiguration-- a lesson in not being afraid of the future, not holding on to the past

Continuing my thoughts today on the readings of the day, I am grateful to my excellent grade school, high school and college teachers, who taught me how to read the Bible. I was fortunate in that "us kids" had our own and I loved mine, done by the Maryknoll Sisters with gorgeous illustrations. My son used it until I got him another one and now it is with some home schooling family.

Another beautiful Bible I lovesd when young was the Taize Bible(Jerusalem Bible translation, but I just would look at the paintings), as the illustrations were so hauntingly symbolic and beautiful. Children and young adolescents, as well as teens, learn through art, just as we all do, if we take the time.

That is one reason I use art in my posts, as I cannot write everything a reader can see.

St. Peter made a huge mistake today in the reading. It is comforting that the Evangelist let us see that Peter grew into his perfection, as we must, and was not automatically "with it".

Peter states, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah” Luke 9:33

Luke notes that Peter did not know what he was saying. Duh.

However, I think Peter was trying to do three things, which we try to do to avoid the road to perfection.

Peter was fighting the New Covenant and wanting to hold on to the Old Covenant. A sign of God's Presence in the desert had been the Tent with the Law and the Ark of the Covenant. Now, Peter was smart enough about his Scripture, as all Jewish men were at the time, but he missed the point.

He did not want something new. He wanted to hang on to the familiar.

How many times do we do this? We want to play god and plan out every detail of our live, based on past experiences. We are afraid to try some new way.

Peter wanted his old way of religious worship. The temple, the tent, etc.

He understood that he was witnessing a Theophany, but he wanted to keep it, save it in the old and not move on into the new.

He was frightened of the Cross. What does the Scripture say that Elijah and Moses and Christ were discussing? The Gospel today states clearly that "they were speaking of his passing". That means, the man who symbolized the Law and the great prophet, and Christ, the Son of God, were discussing Christ's Passion-the New Covenant.

Peter got this part, but he was scared. Surely, Christ was not going to suffer? Surely, Christ was not the Lamb of God? As a man who knew his Scripture, Peter was getting worried. Why?

Peter, like all Jewish men, knew this passage: Peter knew that Elijah was going to bring in a new age.

Malachi 4:5
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD,
6: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Peter also knew that John the Baptist was not Elijah.  This had been settled.

John 1:19
And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 
20: And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
21: And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not.
Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.
Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?
23: He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

So, Peter might think that this Elijah appearance was the real deal. And, he would have remembered the famous story of Elijah raising the widow's son from the dead.
1st Kings 17:17 to 1st Kings 18:40

Poor Peter was being forced out of his comfort zone.

He had to understand that Christ was the promised Messiah, that Christ was the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. 

Other ideas of suffering from Isaiah 53 may have creeped into Peter's consciousness.

No wonder he wanted to hang on to the old and not face the new.

How many times do we want to hang on to what is known to us in religion instead of being open to the unknown? Peter had not known Christ like this. But, Christ wanted these three apostles to see Him in order to strengthen them before the Crucifixion.Christ revealed Himself at the Transfiguration in His Glory, but not with the marks of His Passion.

His Glorified Body was yet to be revealed.

Obviously, when Peter denied Christ, this denial was serious sin, as he has seen Christ as the Son of God.

Thankfully, he repented and was forgiven and went on to rule the Church in wisdom and grace (with a little help from St. Paul).

Peter was a man who seemed to have had to learn things the hard way.

Let us cooperate with grace. 

Let us pursue perfection.

The Way of Perfection in the Life of Abram and the Example of the Pope

The Pope is an example for all of us, speaking of prayer and contemplation today as part of this "going up the hill". The road of suffering for him will not be seen by us. His going into silence and prayer should be example to all of us as to our priorities at this time. We must prioritize and see our limitations.

I think he is telling us that the new evangelization must start in silence, with our own purification  In fact, today with the reading of the covenant of Abram and God, it struck me that my two posts on the stars were timely today. He was promised descendants as many or more than the stars in the sky.

We are his people, we are his descendants in Faith. He is our father, and shows us the way of trust. I do not think that people realize how much Faith Abram had in his horribly pagan land, surrounded by people of nasty man-made religions. His example is one we should keep before us in the days to come.

Abram was asked to enter into a intimate relationship with God and he had to completely trust in God, who told him how to take the animals of sacrifice and place these on the ground.  The walking of Abram and God as the Pillar of Fire and Smoke, is the making of a love relationship. When I was a child, my children's Bible had a magnificent picture of Abram in the dark, walking behind the Pillar of Fire through the path of the dead animals. Now, more than 50 years later, I remember that painting. I wish I had a copy, as Abram has always captured my imagination. I have written more than one poem on him and his life.

The way of perfection starts with purification and the first dark night of the soul, which is foreshadowed by Abram being in darkness in today's reading.

His being in a great darkness and chasing away the vultures, is like the later saints we know talking about getting rid of sin and interior desires while in the dark night.

The reward for his perseverance is Abram's covenant with God, and the vow is that the person who does not keep the covenant is stating that he would be split like the animals if he would break the covenant.

God is making Himself vulnerable and takes the Death of the breaking of the covenant on Himself, through His Son.

This is the first hint to Abram that God loves him so much that He would suffer for him AND his descendants.

So, the first reading is a foreshadowing of the Passion of Christ which is the New Covenant with the Body and Blood. The Passion of Christ is the fulfillment of this covenant of Abraham.

This covenant of Abram is the Old Testament and the new covenant is the New Testament.

Christ was Present in the Trinity, in that covenant with Abram. Just as the Trinity came and visited Abram later, so too, is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit making a covenant with our Father in Faith.

We are the stars.....made bright through the Passion of Christ.

Later on,  Abram would be asked to sacrifice his only son, only to prove his faith. God gave us His Son as a Sacrifice to prove His Faith in us, through the Covenant.

More on today's readings later.............

The Law, the Prophets, the Love-a personal mediation

I have been told recently by some priest friends, that the Sunday Gospels for Lent are among the oldest liturgically scheduled readings in the Church. Today's and last Sunday's on the Temptation have been read on these respective Sundays for over a thousand years according to two priest friends. How wonderful.

The Transfiguration was always a mystery to me until I saw it in terms of Love. Christ, Who is about to walk to Golgotha and endure pain for us, is giving his disciples a glimpse of His Glory, so as not only to encourage them for the days to come (and is this not timely today?) but also to show how much God loves them by sending His Only Son for this purpose.

Moses and the Law and Elijah and Prophecy point to Christ as the Messiah, the Fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, the One, True Prophet and One, True Priest, as well as being the Son of God.

How these monotheists must have been shocked at this revelation, that Christ is God, as well as the Father, and the Holy Spirit. We have been given The Trinity in baptism and we walk in God. So, too, Peter, James and John walked in the Trinity, two to death and one to exile. So, we are warned, as well as loved today. Christ in His Glory points to our own final glorified bodies united with our souls at the end of time, but only after sufferings and trials.

Love is always the answer. Love. And, why did the disciples keep silent? Were they afraid? No, I think it is that when we have a love experience, we cannot find the words to describe this. And, love is so sacred, it really is hard to discuss it, or, rather, Him.  Silence protects the Love in our hearts. The monastic orders know this. Silence is like a protective shield guarding the Love of Christ in our beings. Let nothing dilute that Love today.

The paintings show turmoil and fierce movement. Why? When the Divine, when God reveals Himself in our lives, He interrupts the doldrums  the ordinariness of our lives. We are thrown into the happy, yet disturbing chaos of love. Those of us who have experienced this interruption have been changed. How happy we are when love changes our wonderful to have this glimpse of immortality. Listen to Love.

Luke 9:28-36

Jesus took with him Peter and John and James and went up the mountain to pray. As he prayed, the aspect of his face was changed and his clothing became brilliant as lightning. Suddenly there were two men there talking to him; they were Moses and Elijah appearing in glory, and they were speaking of his passing which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were heavy with sleep, but they kept awake and saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As these were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ – He did not know what he was saying. As he spoke, a cloud came and covered them with shadow; and when they went into the cloud the disciples were afraid. And a voice came from the cloud saying, ‘This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.’ And after the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. The disciples kept silence and, at that time, told no one what they had seen.

A post of gratitude

Thank you, Pope Benedict XVI, for your years given to us

April 19th, 2005-February 28th, 2013

Part 52: DoC: Bernard of Clarivaux and the Perfection of Love

From St. Bernard of Clairvaux on Love from Sermon 83 on the Canticle of Canticles.

Love is sufficient of itself, it gives pleasure by itself and because of itself. It is its own merit, its own reward. Love looks for no cause outside itself, no effect beyond itself. Its profit lies in its practice. I love because I love, I love that I may love. Love is a great thing so long as it continually returns to its fountain head, flows back to its source, always drawing from there the water which constantly replenishes it.

Of all the movements, sensations and feelings of the soul, love is the only one in which the creature can respond to the Creator and make some sort of similar return however unequal though it be. For when God loves, all he desires is to be loved in return; the sole purpose of his love is to be loved, in the knowledge that those who love him are made happy by their love of him.

The Bridegroom’s love, or rather the love which is the Bridegroom, asks in return nothing but faithful love. Let the beloved, then, love in return. Should not a bride love, and above all, Love’s bride? Could it be that Love not be loved?

Rightly then does she give up all other feelings and give herself wholly to love alone; in giving love back, all she can do is to respond to love. And when she has poured out her whole being in love, what is that in comparison with the unceasing torrent of that original source? Clearly, lover and Love, soul and Word, bride and Bridegroom, creature and Creator do not flow with the same volume; one might as well equate a thirsty man with the fountain.

What then of the bride’s hope, her aching desire, her passionate love, her confident assurance? Is all this to wilt just because she cannot match stride for stride with her giant, any more than she can vie with honey for sweetness, rival the lamb for gentleness, show herself as white as the lily, burn as bright as the sun, be equal in love with him who is Love? No. It is true that the creature loves less because she is less. But if she loves with her whole being, nothing is lacking where everything is given. To love so ardently then is to share the marriage bond; she cannot love so much and not be totally loved, and it is in the perfect union of two hearts that complete and total marriage consists. Or are we to doubt that the soul is loved by the Word first and with a greater love?

Words for the Papabile from St. Bernard of Clairvaux: Part 51: DoC

If I remember, the subject of my discourse
to your Excellency was to be Consideration. And certainly
the matter to which I have referred is important and requires
much consideration...To me it is a very small matter that I should be judged by
those who call good evil and evil good,
who put light for darkness and darkness for light....So then, in choosing men,
select not him that willeth, nor him that runneth, but
but such as hesitate or refuse; even put
pressure on these, and compel them to
come in. The Spirit may rest in such,
I think, as are not of a
shameless forehead,
but are modest, and have the fear of God who fear nothing but God, and hope for
nothing from God....who stand up
manfully for the afflicted and judge in
equity the meek upon earth; men who are of orderly life,
proved holiness, ready to obey, meek in suffering, submissive
under discipline, stern in censuring, who hold the Catholic
faith, are faithful in their stewardship, lovers of peace and
concord, consistent in maintaining unity ; men upright in
judgement, prudent in counsel, discreet in commanding,
careful in planning, strenuous in action, modest in speech ;
tranquil in adversity, devout in prosperity ; as regards zeal,
sober-minded ; prone to pity ; in leisure time not idle ; given
to hospitality, but not too convivial ; careful in business affairs,
but not anxious ; not covetous of another man s goods, nor
lavish of their own ; everywhere, and under all circumstances,
circumspect ; men who when bidden, and necessity requires,
would not decline to serve as ambassadors for Christ, nor
unbidden would aspire to the office, nor make their modest
excuses a plea for obstinate refusal ; who when sent do not
go after gold, but follow Christ; who do not regard their
commission as so much gain, nor look for reward, but seek
fruit ; who in the eyes of kings are as John, to the Egyptians
are as Moses, to fornicators as Phinees, to idolaters as Elijah,
to the covetous as Elisha, to liars as Peter, to blasphemers as
Paul, to traffickers as Christ ; who do not despise the common
people, but teach them ; do not flatter the rich, but frighten
them ; do not oppress the poor, but cherish them ; do not
dread the threats of rulers, but despise them ; do not make
a great to-do when they enter on their work, nor show signs
of anger when they leave it; who do not rob the churches, but
improve them ; do not empty men s pockets, but refresh their
hearts, and correct their offences ; who take care of their own
reputation, and do not envy another man his ; who zealously
cultivate prayerful habits, and in everything rely more on prayer
than on their own industry and labour ; whose coming bringeth
peace, whose departure we regret ; whose speech is edifying,
their life righteous, their presence a pleasure, their memory
blessed ; who to the individual are amiable not in word, but
in deed, while they command the respect of the world at large,
not by their arrogance, but by the discharge of their duties;

from On Consideration

More and more...prayers, please, now

Prayers needed here immediately

and here

And, why would anyone wait 33 years to make an allegation of this kind?

And, why would anyone make these allegations days before the Pope resigns?

Sorry, I am suspicious.

Comet Ison will be a new sky event this year

Here are two links about Ison....great stuff!

Here is part of an article found here:
Ison has been traveling for millions of years from the Oort cloud to reach Earth. The comet’s surface is very dark, and it is a few tens of miles across.
Whitehouse says if you jumped into the air while on the surface of the comet, you could leap 20 miles up, and it would take you over a week to come back down.
By the end of the summer next year the comet will become visible in small telescopes and binoculars. A few months later, by October, it will be passing Mars and the surface will shift, with the surface of the rock responding to thermal shock.
As the comet passes the orbit of Earth, the gas and dust geysers will gather force, and the space around Ison will become brilliant as the ice below the surface turns into gas and erupts. Once this happens, it will be reflecting the light of the sun.
By late November next year, the comet will be visible to the unaided eye just after dark in the same direction as the setting Sun. The comet’s tail could stretch like a searchlight into the sky above the horizon.
Ison will then swing rapidly around the Sun, passing within two million miles of it, which is closer than any planet ever does. The comet will be able to be seen to an “unaided eye” for months.
When Ison gets close in its approach to the Sun, it could become intensely bright, but at this point it will be difficult and dangerous to see without special instruments.

OK, for all the Burke fans..............

Photos by

Late February and Early March Night Sky

I have found another great website for news on the upcoming sky events. Check out this site, which I have used before and the second one, which is new to me.

I shall  do more later in the week.  

When I was in Malta earlier this year, the sky was fantastic. The English sky has been so cloudy where I have been staying that sky watching has been almost impossible. Right now, we are having sleet.

Look for Jupiter in Taurus. Great light in the sky.....

The Eagle Nebula