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Sunday 18 August 2013

Divisions and Courage

I am almost gave up the blog again this morning. Sadly, readers, especially men, are becoming more and more aggressively evil in comments, comments which you, dear readers, never see. The various evils range from expletives to personal attacks to anger.

I suppose it would not matter so much, but I am completely isolated, living most of the time alone, without a protector or a community. This means all I can do is walk into Gethsemane and sit with the Lord, awake in suffering with Him.

What renewed my courage today was a sermon and simple talk with Fr. Canice Azuoma, who spoke on the Gospel and First Reading from his heart.

He, a Carmelite priest, told this tale. He grew up in Africa, and his grandfather worshipped many gods as well as worshipping his ancestors. His practices of worship included some bad things. When Fr. Canice's father was a child, he heard the bells of the church nearby and was curious. So, this young child went into the church and saw an Irish missionary priest teaching small children. The priest talked about Christ and the call to have courage and believe. Fr. Canice's  father was so moved, he decided to become a Christian. And, the child was so excited after this initial meeting, that when he went home, he told his parents of his new faith.

The father of this child reacted severely, forbidding the child to ever return to the church. He said this new religion was strange and not part of their people's heritage. But, the next time the bells rang, the boy returned, again, and again, and again. His mother stood between him and the anger of his father, but the persecution in the house became so intense, the boy eventually had to leave.

Many, many years later, the grandfather became very ill and was ignored by his own family in his illness. But, the Catholic son returned and visited him daily, moving in again, finally, to take care of his father.

One day, the old, dying man said to his son, "I want the religion you have. I have seen how it has affected you." The son replied that the old man would have to be baptised. The dying man said, "I want that. I want baptism".  By this time, there were no priests in the area. All were far away. The son went into the kitchen and filled a bowl with water. He came back into the bedroom and baptised his own father, who died within a few hours.

Fr. Canice told me to have courage. He told me that my suffering was for my son, who is going to be a priest. He told me that the suffering of his father all those years of being estranged from the family was a gift for Father Canice's own priesthood.

I know this is true. As Father Canice blessed me today, I knew I could not give up the blog. The suffering is like a heart pumping life to another young person far away in the seminary. So be it. Divisions in families are so painful, one does not think about what is missed in love and support, but none of this really matters. What matters is forgiveness, love, and the courage to spread the Good News.

"Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth," said Christ in today's NO Gospel. His own passion is ours, if we accept it. We cannot see the Resurrection, but neither did Father Canice's father expect his own father to rejoice with him in heaven. God is good.

Small thoughts on a Sunday

A good man that I know told me today that this present generation "trumps" objective argumentation with feelings.

How can one discuss truth with those who insist that their emotions are the locus of truth?

The arrogance of personalism and relativism shuts doors in conversation. We are fast losing the art of conversation regarding ideas.

Today, in the readings, we are reminded that Christ did not come to abolish the Law, but is the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets. We are reminded that we walk by faith.

Those who love the Law, love Christ, and those who love Christ love the Law. Charity, that is, real love, is not in the emotions, but in the will.  Obedience follows love. I can tell if an adult is in love with themselves or God first. If an adult is obedient to the laws of the Church and the Ten Commandments, that adult loves God.

Now, to really love the Law, one must be walking in faith. That is the point of St. Paul's epistle this morning. Abraham is honoured as the Father of our Faith because he loved God, and had a personal relationship with God, initiated by God, but responded to with a full heart.

If we do not feel the love of God, take heart, if you are being obedient to the Church. God recognizes the love of His obedient children.

When one is in a Benedictine monastery, love is shown by following the Rule and being obedient to one's superiors. So, too, this dynamic occurs in marriage.

If we are still confused on this point, St. Therese, the Little Flower can help us on our way to Love.

Do not pass up opportunities to love or to obey. These opportunities are life-giving. Do not say no to love or obedience.

Erosions of Freedom

Writing to An Audience and Conversion

When one writes or "rights", always, as G. K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc and all writers know, one writes with an audience in mind.

From the beginning of this blog, I have written for two groups, mainly. The first group is that of new Catholics who sincerely want to learn more about the Faith. The second is that of traditional or orthodox Catholics, who want to grow deeper in love with God, as I do. This is not a blog which tries to convert, or convict at the level of the first conversion, which is giving one's life to Christ, although that can happen by reading, for example, the Doctors of the Church, or commentaries on the lives of the saints. Absolutely.

However, there are some people who honestly misunderstand conversion. They think that one is converted only through a dramatic, singular experience of Christ. This is limiting how God calls people to conversion. Sometimes conversion is a slow process of working one's way through the beauty of the teaching of the Catholic Church, to find Christ in His Church. Sometimes it means reading the Early Church Fathers, or St. Augustine's Confessions.

God is not limited in His giving of grace. But, the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church and I write within that context.

That is why Christ set up His Church-to evangelize and to feed.

Now, a person who is not Catholic may become interested in the Church when reading something more than the Penny Catechism, which is a good start. But, apologetics may be confusing to some, especially if that person only dips into reading and does not pursue study.

The art of apologetics is not about basic evangelization, but the systematic defending of the Faith through reason.

My regular readers know this, and realize that my blog is for those who are on the way. I try to give meat, not milk, as St. Paul writes. But, milk and meat can be given together.

Protestants who read my blog may be interested in the Catholic Faith. I hope so. If a Protestant, or a liberal Catholic is offended, I only apologize in so far as I have not, then, made my points as clear as I could have done. Such people who are regularly offended do not have to read my blog. But, one can always follow up sources for real Catholic teaching, of which their are hundreds on this blog.

Also, many posts are not independent, but part of the whole of this blog, which includes many series.

Most of my readers already have a personal relationship with Christ, and want to grow deeper in that relationship. If someone wants a blog which discusses the beginnings of the Catholic Faith, I can recommend many others. There are millions of Christian blogs. I am sure Protestants or non-Catholics rarely if ever read Rorate Caeli, for example.  

Blogs have focus, just like any other writings. 

If someone wants to discuss matters on this blog, fine, but I do not publish Anonymous comments, which I have noted many times. I see that some people hide behind a non-name merely to be rude. And, if one is hyper-critical without wanting to discuss, and does not leave a name, or uses ad hominem fallacies, personal criticisms instead of reason, I shall not engage.

Rational discourse and faith are the great gifts which the Catholic Church has given to the world.

God bless all those who want to think like Catholics. The world needs you.

If someone wants something else, that reader has millions of blogs from which to choose. I am not into numbers games.

By whose authority will we be judged on earth?

Three hundred years before I was born, King Charles I gave this speech in Parliament at his mock trial.

I suggest Catholics look at this and realize the same sham justice will most likely be used against us in England, in Ireland and in America.

The enemies of Charles could not understand that laws which are only made by men, can be broken by men to be turned against men.

But, laws of God cannot be broken and if these are, God will judge those who ignore His Law and His order. Those who deny natural law and the Ten Commandments, as well as the laws of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church will have to stand before God and explain why God's Church was persecuted. This will come, friends. Be noble now, daily, and understand that we are witnessing the type of tyranny of men's passions and false ideologies which created divisions in families and parishes.

King Charles I's Speech at his Trial 
January, 1649 

I would know by what power I am called hither ... I would know by what authority, I mean lawful; there are many unlawful authorities in the world; thieves and robbers by the high-ways ... Remember, I am your King, your lawful King, and what sins you bring upon your heads, and the judgement of God upon this land. Think well upon it, I say, think well upon it, before you go further from one sin to a greater ... I have a trust committed to me by God, by old and lawful descent, I will not betray it, to answer a new unlawful authority; therefore resolve me that, and you shall hear more of me.

I do stand more for the liberty of my people, than any here that come to be my pretended judges ... I do not come here as submitting to the Court. I will stand as much for the privilege of the House of Commons, rightly understood, as any man here whatsoever: I see no House of Lords here, that may constitute a Parliament ... Let me see a legal authority warranted by the Word of God, the Scriptures, or warranted by the constitutions of the Kingdom, and I will answer.
It is not a slight thing you are about. I am sworn to keep the peace, by that duty I owe to God and my country; and I will do it to the last breath of my body. And therefore ye shall do well to satisfy, first, God, and then the country, by what authority you do it. If you do it by an usurped authority, you cannot answer it; there is a God in Heaven, that will call you, and all that give you power, to account.

If it were only my own particular case, I would have satisfied myself with the protestation I made the last time I was here, against the legality of the Court, and that a King cannot be tried by any superior jurisdiction on earth: but it is not my case alone, it is the freedom and the liberty of the people of England; and do you pretend what you will, I stand more for their liberties. For if power without law, may make laws, may alter the fundamental laws of the Kingdom, I do not know what subject he is in England that can be sure of his life, or any thing that he calls his own.
I do not know the forms of law; I do know law and reason, though I am no lawyer professed: but I know as much law as any gentleman in England, and therefore, under favour, I do plead for the liberties of the people of England more than you do; and therefore if I should impose a belief upon any man without reasons given for it, it were unreasonable ... The Commons of England was never a Court of Judicature; I would know how they came to be so.

It was the liberty, freedom, and laws of the subject that ever I took - defended myself with arms. I never took up arms against the people, but for the laws ... For the charge, I value it not a rush. It is the liberty of the people of England that I stand for. For me to acknowledge a new Court that I never heard of before, I that am your King, that should be an example to all the people of England, for to uphold justice, to maintain the old laws, indeed I do not know how to do it.

This many-a-day all things have been taken away from me, but that that I call more dear to me than my life, which is my conscience, and my honour: and if I had a respect to my life more than the peace of the Kingdom, and the liberty of the subject, certainly I should have made a particular defence for my self; for by that at leastwise I might have delayed an ugly sentence, which I believe will pass upon me ... Now, sir, I conceive that an hasty sentence once passed, may sooner be repented of than recalled: and truly, the self-same desire that I have for the peace of the Kingdom, and the liberty of the subject, more than my own particular ends, makes me now at lest desire, before sentence be given, that I may be heard ... before the Lords and Commons ... If I cannot get this liberty, I do protest, that these fair shows of liberty and peace are pure shows and that you will not hear your King."