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Sunday 4 August 2013

Greenwald, The Guardian, and Snowden

Our culture in the US government is now against whistle blowers and the American people have fallen into distrust for the government. Not news...

Also, look at some articles here-

On Not Entertaining Goats

Doctrinal preaching certainly bores the hypocrites; but it is only doctrinal preaching that will save Christ’s sheep. The preacher’s job is to proclaim the faith, not to provide entertainment for unbelievers–in other words, to feed the sheep rather than amuse the goats.” – (Packer, A Quest For Godliness , 285).

I found this amazingly apropos quotation on a Protestant site yesterday morning. The reason I am quoting it refers to my post the other day that there is no separation between doctrine and Scripture. Now, unpacking this quotation one sees several key points for bloggers.

1) Some hypocrites have criticized our Catholic clergy and specifically the Church for upholding doctrines which are all Bible based. Hypocrites want the world, the flesh and the devil for approval, comfort, and status.

2) Only doctrinal teaching will save Christ's sheep-and not emotionalism or happy-clappy Masses. I am impressed that this person understand's Christ's own mission to teach.

3) We all as baptized Christians have been called into the world to preach, to teach.

4) And, my favourite part of this-we are not hear to amuse the goats. Wow! Catholic bloggers, take heart. Entertaining goats is the job of the mass media. Passing on the Faith is our baptismal duty.

Now, Michael who runs this blog above and Catholics would disagree on most doctrinal positions, but the premise of the statement holds true for Christianity in general and Catholicism specifically. All Christians must hold true to the teachings of Christ. We also have the benefit of the Early Church Fathers, who commented and interpreted these Scriptures for us.

We have the benefit of the graces of baptism. Let us not squander those graces by entertaining goats.

Thank you, Michael, for this thought. We can all think of the times we failed to preach, teach, live by example and merely entertained purely for the sake of entertaining, that is pandering to those who really do not want the Truth. Not my job...........I do not herd goats.

Tracking readership by country

I have been tracking readership by country in order to get a view as to who wants what to read and from where.

The results may surprise you.

The highest readership is made up of Americans, of course, who will read all political, theological and cultural posts readily.

That may not surprise you. But, what is surprising is the group which comes in second, which most of you would think would be English readership when it comes to spiritual topics.

The UK readers are usually second highest when I make write about current issues in the Church in England, or English politics. The UK readership is very provincial, which is not a criticism, but an observation.

The English are not interested in the perfection or spirituality posts. They are more interested in the pragmatic postings.

Is this not interesting?

The group after the Americans which are most interested in the spirituality posts are the Germans and the Russians, and then, the Ukrainians.

Perhaps these nationalities are more apt to pursue philosophical and spiritual topics. One imagines a group of trad Catholics sitting around a cafe in Moscow discussing Etheldredasplace on perfection, with men in beards and smoking cigars with ladies in black skirts who are trim from riding bicycles, contemplating on the higher stages of holiness.
Actually, a cafe in Krakow

Seriously, this is an interesting phenomenon, which I have noticed over a period of time.

Is it a national characteristic to be more interested in spirituality than political hot topics regarding religious freedom? Is it a question of anti-intellectualism in English Catholicism, which is a huge problem for the Church in England?

Is it that the British have so many good blogs that mine is not a priority?  My blog is heavily geared to the American and English audience as it is, obviously, in English and I am an Anglophile American.

But, I am really intrigued by the Europeans who follow certain topics more than the Brits.

Comments from my beloved British would be appreciated. Maybe I should write about rugby, or cricket.

UPDATE: The English have made a come-back as of August 6th. Maybe they were all listening to Test Match Special....

The Third Converson

What to expect after the Dark Night-from Garrigou-Lagrange. The Unitive State is attained by all saints, which is why the Church recognizes that these people are saints and canonizes them. I shall post more about the last stages of the Dark Night, but thought you all needed a bit of encouragement as to the goal.

Trees at Wonersh near Guildford

Ch 40 : The Spiritual Age of the Perfect, Their Union with God

The painful passive purification just described is followed by a resurrection of the soul and a new life. The apostles experienced this change when, after being deprived of the presence of Christ's humanity on Ascension Day, they were on Pentecost transformed, enlightened, strengthened, and confirmed in grace by the Holy Ghost that they might preach the Gospel to the ends of the known world and seal their preaching with their blood.
We shall point out here the principal signs of the age of the perfect so far as it is distinguished from the age of beginners and that of proficients. We shall indicate particularly what characterizes the knowledge of God and of self in the perfect and also their love of charity.


After the passive purification of the spirit, which is like a third conversion and transformation, the perfect know God in a quasi­experimental manner that is not transitory, but almost continual. Not only during Mass, the Divine Office, or prayer, but in the midst of external occupations, they remain in the presence of God and preserve actual union with Him.
The matter will be easily understood by our considering the egoist's contrary state of soul. The egoist thinks always of himself and, without realizing it, refers everything to himself. He talks continually with himself about his inordinate desires, sorrows, or superficial joys; his intimate conversation with himself is endless, but it is vain, sterile, and unproductive for all. The perfect man, on the contrary, instead of thinking always of himself, thinks continually of God, His glory, and the salvation of souls; he instinctively makes everything converge toward the object of his thoughts. His intimate conversation is no longer with himself, but with God, and the words of the Gospel frequently recur to his mind to enlighten from on high the smallest pleasurable or painful facts of daily life. His soul sings the glory of God, and from it radiate spiritual light and fervor, which are perpetually bestowed on him from above.
The reason for this state is that the perfect man, unlike the beginner, no longer contemplates God only in the mirror of sensible things or of the Gospel parables, about which it is impossible to think continually. Neither does he, like the proficient, contemplate God only in the mirror of the mysteries of the life of Christ, a prayer that cannot last all day long; but, in the penumbra of faith, he contemplates the divine goodness itself, a little as we see the diffused light that always surrounds us and illumines everything from above.
According to the terms used by Dionysius the Mystic and preserved by St. Thomas,(1) this is the movement of circular contemplation, superior to the straight and the oblique movements. The straight movement, like the flight of the lark, rises from a sensible fact recalled in a parable to a divine perfection, from the sight of the prodigal son to infinite mercy. The oblique movement rises, for example, from the mysteries of the childhood of Christ to those of His passion, of His glory, and finally to the infinite love of God for us. The circular movement is similar to the flight of the eagle, which, after soaring aloft, delights in describing the same circle several times, then hovers seemingly motionless in the light of the sun, scrutinizing the depths of the horizon.
Here it is a question of a knowledge of the radiating goodness of God. The soul sees now in a quasi-experimental manner that everything God has done in the order of nature and that of grace is intended to manifest His goodness, and that if He permits evil, like a dissonance, it is for a higher good, which is glimpsed at times and which will appear on the last day.
This contemplation, by reason of its superior simplicity, may be continual and, far from hindering us from beholding the sequence of events, lets us see them from above, somewhat as God sees them as a man on a mountain sees what is happening on the plain below. It is like the prelude or the aurora of the vision of the fatherland, although the soul is still in the obscurity of faith.

Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux and John of the Cross and the Purification of the Spirit Pt. 24

 "ad lucem per crucem, and of the progressive configuration of the soul to Christ crucified." 

Garrigou-Lagrange has at interesting comparison concerning the experience of the passive purification of the Illuminative State leading up to Unitive State and St. Therese, St. Teresa, and St. John of the Cross. I do not think I need to comment here, but merely highlight some key ideas. If we all aspired to this state, can you imagine how strong and mighty the Church would be on Earth? This following the road to perfection is for me the real evangelization needed today. I make a few comments in blue.

Spring in Kent, 2013

Such is the simultaneous passive purification of faith, hope, and love of God and of souls in God, a purification which, in the case of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus, is united to reparatory suffering for sinners.

Then the most pure motive of this love of charity appears in all its elevation: namely, that God is sovereignly lovable in Himself, infinitely more so than all the gifts which He has given us and which we expect from Him. Here the acts of faith, hope, and charity fuse, so to speak, in an act of perfect abandonment to the divine will, while the soul repeats the words of Christ on the cross: "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit." (32)

Then the soul understands what St. John of the Cross says: "For this is a certain fire of love in the spirit whereby the soul, amidst these dark trials, feels itself wounded to the quick by this strong love divine. . . . And inasmuch as this love is infused in a special way, the soul corresponds only passively with it, and thus a strong passion of love is begotten within it. . . . The soul is itself touched, wounded, and set on fire with love. . . . The soul, however, amidst these gloomy and loving pains, is conscious of a certain companionship and inward strength which attends upon it and invigorates it." (33)
St. Teresa speaks in like manner of this last purification which precedes the transforming union: "She sees herself still far away from God, yet with her increased knowledge of His attributes, her longing and her love for Him grow ever stronger as she learns more fully how this great God and Sovereign deserves to be loved. . . . She is like one suspended in mid-air, who can neither touch the earth nor mount to heaven; she is unable to reach the water while parched with thirst, and this is not a thirst that can be borne, but one which nothing will quench." (34)

Again, one cannot skip these progressive steps. The purification of the senses and spirit in the Dark Night is absolutely necessary for one to become a saint.

At the end of this trial, charity toward God and one's neighbor is purified of all alloy, as gold in the crucible is freed from its dross. And not only is the love of charity thus purified, but notably increased. The soul now makes intense and heroic acts of charity, which obtain immediately the increase of grace which they merit, and with sanctifying grace increase greatly at the same time all the infused virtues and the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, which are connected with charity.

The love of God and of souls then becomes increasingly disinterested, ever more ardent and forgetful of self. We admire the purity of the conjugal love of the sailor's wife who does not cease to think of her absent husband, who may be dead, since for several months she has had no word that he is still alive. She loves him as if he were present, and brings up her children in the love of their father who has disappeared. How can we fail to admire the purity of love in these spouses of Jesus Christ who, like St. Teresa of Lisieux, remain for a long time, for months and months, deprived of His presence, in the greatest darkness and aridity, and who do not cease to love Him with a love as strong as it is pure, for the sole motive that He is infinitely good in Himself and incomparably more so than all His gifts! In this state the tenderness of love is transformed into the strength of union, according to the expression of the Canticle of Canticles: "Love is strong as death," (35) and even stronger, for no trial can overthrow love. The soul then remembers that in our Lord, who fashions souls to His image, love on the cross was stronger than spiritual death, that it was the conqueror of sin and the devil, and by the resurrection the victor over death which is the result of sin. In the passive purifications, described by St. John of the Cross, the Christian and Catholic mystic relives these great truths of faith; thereby the soul is configured to Christ in His sorrowful life, before being configured to Him in His glorious life for eternity.

I grew up in a Mississippi River town which has an area of Victorian houses on what is called the Gold Coast. These houses have Widow's Peaks, which are high balconies made for the wife of a sailor to stand and look at the ships coming in to see if her husband had returned. I lived in one such Victorian house for awhile, not this one shown, but similar. The faithfulness of the woman on the Widow's Peak is still a moving metaphor for Love which is stronger than Death.

Widow's Peak in Davenport, Iowa


St. Teresa (36) speaks of this purification, but does not distinguish as clearly as St. John of the Cross does, what essentially constitutes it from the sufferings which quite often accompany it, and which she herself experienced, as we see from her autobiography.(37)
In The Interior Castle she writes:
O my God, how many troubles both interior and exterior must one suffer before entering the seventh mansion! Sometimes, while pondering over this I fear that, were they known beforehand, human infirmity could scarcely bear the thought nor resolve to encounter them, however great might appear the gain. . . . They really seem to have lost everything.
I shall not enumerate these trials in their proper order, but will describe them as they come to my memory, beginning with the least severe. This is an outcry raised against such a person by those amongst whom she lives. . . . They say she wants to pass for a saint, that she goes to extremes in piety to deceive the world. . . . Persons she thought were her friends desert her, making the most bitter remarks of all. They take it much to heart that her soul is ruined - she is manifestly deluded - it is all the devil's work - she will share the fate of so-and-so who was lost through him. . . . They make a thousand scoffing remarks of the same sort.

Such trials are not clear ways to God, but God's way of leading us to humility. People will not understand you and will speak against your efforts to become holy.
Ochs House, Daveport, Iowa
 It is very difficult to find a priest who understands this stage of purification. Many will say that one is being too hard on one's self or scrupulous. Apparently, such a priest has not experienced these stages.
I know someone who feared she would be unable to find any priest who would hear her confession,(38) to such a pass did things come. . . . The worst of it is, these troubles do not blow over but last all her life. . . . How few think well of her in comparison with the many who hate her! . . . Experience has shown the mind that men are as ready to speak well as ill of others, so it attaches no more importance to the one than to the other. . . . [Later] the soul is rather strengthened than depressed by its trials, experience having taught it the great advantages derived from them. It does not think men offend God by persecuting it, but that He permits them to do so for its greater gain. . . .
Our Lord now usually sends severe bodily infirmity. . . . Yet, oh! the rest would seem trifling in comparison could I relate the interior torments met with here, but they are impossible to describe. Let us first speak of the trial of meeting with so timorous and inexperienced a confessor that nothing seems safe to him; he dreads and suspects everything but the commonplace, especially in a soul in which he detects any imperfection, for he thinks people on whom God bestows such favors must be angels, which is impossible while we live in our bodies. He at once ascribes everything to the devil or melancholy. . . .

One of the severe trials of these souls, especially if they have lived wicked lives, is their belief that God permits them to be deceived in punishment for their sins. While actually receiving these graces they feel secure and cannot but suppose that these favors proceed from the Spirit of God; but this state lasts a very short time, while the remembrance of their misdeeds is ever before them, so that when, as is sure to happen, they discover any faults in themselves, these torturing thoughts return. The soul is quieted for a time when the confessor reassures it, although it returns later on to its former apprehensions; but when he augments its fears they become almost unbearable: Especially is this the case when such spiritual dryness ensues that the mind feels as if it never had thought of God nor ever will be able to do so. When men speak of Him, they seem to be talking of some person heard of long ago.
 Memory changes and is purified. One's ideas of Who God is are swept away. One waits for God to reveal Himself as and when He wishes to do so. One must be patient in love.
London at Night Inversed
 Dryness and the death of the imagination must be accepted. Without such humility, one gets stuck and cannot move forward. Faith in Divine Providence is key.

 All this is nothing without the further pain of thinking we cannot make our confessors understand the case and are deceiving them. . . She believes all that the imagination, which now has the upper hand, puts before her mind, besides crediting the falsehoods suggested to her by the devil, whom doubtless our Lord gives leave to tempt her. . . .
In short, there is no other remedy in such a tempest except to wait for the mercy of God who, unexpectedly, by some casual word or unforeseen circumstance, suddenly dispels all these sorrows. . . . It praises our Lord God like one who has come out victorious from a dangerous battle, for it was He who won the victory. The soul is fully conscious that the conquest was not its own as all weapons of self-defence appeared to be in the enemies' hands. Thus it realizes its weakness and how little man can help himself if God forsake him.(39)
Finally, when one is truly humble, the Bridegroom approaches the Bride.

Tauler speaks in like strain, as we noted earlier. His teaching on this subject, which should be read, will be found in his sermons for the Monday before Palm Sunday (nos. 7, 8), for Easter Sunday, for the Monday before Ascension Thursday, and in the third sermon for the Ascension.(40)
It would be easy to show by quotations from other masters that the teaching of St. John of the Cross is entirely conformable to the tradition of the great spiritual writers, to what they have said of the royal way of the cross, ad lucem per crucem, and of the progressive configuration of the soul to Christ crucified. We read in St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans: (41) "Heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him."