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Wednesday 21 August 2013

Readers, I hope you understand what this means

We are heading for tyranny.

Good news for the Catholic Church in Scotland You might recognize this group from other posts on this blog.

Watch France 24 for good coverage on Egypt

and very good on Syria, as well.

EU Joint Statement in Support of the Copts

Battle of Aljubarrota (14th August 1385)

I missed this date last week with so many feasts and events, but today  I want to highlight St. Nuno Avarez Pereria, who was a soldier, a husband, a monk, and a saint. For a complete biography, look at this site here. This battle gave the Portuguese independence and paved the way for a renewal of Catholicism.

In the Whitefriars Street Church in Dublin, there is a stunning window of this saint. I like this man, as he seems to be a true Renaissance Man, a little before the time. He exhibited an intense prayer life, as well as giving to the poor, being a humble lay brother, and paying for many churches and monasteries with his own money, including Lisbon's Carmelite Church and Our Lady of Victories at Batalha. I would like to visit these someday very much.

Let us pray to this saint for strong leadership among the laity, as well as more vocations to Carmel.

For my good readers, a thought for you today

But having suffered many things before, and been shamefully treated (as you know) at Philippi, we had confidence in our God, to speak unto you the gospel of God in much carefulness.
For our exhortation was not of error, nor of uncleanness, nor in deceit:
But as we were approved by God that the gospel should be committed to us: even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God, who proveth our hearts.
For neither have we used, at any time, the speech of flattery, as you know; nor taken an occasion of covetousness, God is witness:
Nor sought we glory of men, neither of you, nor of others. 7 Whereas we might have been burdensome to you, as the apostles of Christ: but we became little ones in the midst of you, as if a nurse should cherish her children: 8 So desirous of you, we would gladly impart unto you not only the gospel of God, but also our own souls: because you were become most dear unto us. 
1 Thessalonians 2:2-8

...from the Mass in honor of St. Pius X, one of the greatest men of modern times. Happy Feast Day in the NO of St. Pius X.

The Dark Night Part 40 and Blaming Satan Three

The devil, as Father Phelim points out, can only"gain a foothold on the soul through the working on its faculties." This is why the Dark Night includes the destruction of images and memories which take one away from God.

Recently, in a drama I was watching, a woman spoke to her lover that she had already sinned against God and her husband by thinking of her lover. The woman and her lover did commit adultery in the play, and they were aware the entire year they were together, that they were sinning. Now, the drama timeline was written in a time, many years ago, when people still knew that adultery was a serious, mortal sin. Interesting to me was the depiction of these lost souls, who verbalized that they were both damned, but chose each other anyway. What is more interesting, is that they become more miserable as the year went on. They began to hate the life of lust that they had chosen freely.

But, notice, the two sinners were very aware that they had chosen mortal sin over God and given in to temptation. Again, although satan watched them and tempted them, they chose to sin. As they were both, in this drama, Christians, they had knowledge, but their wills were weakened by frequent contact, and by speaking of their "love". Free will is a mighty gift. Their wills led them to misery.

This is the nature of sin. It starts in the imagination, in the mind.  In the Dark Night, God pulls us away from any distractions from His grace, so that one can become pure enough for His coming as the Bridegroom.

Father Phelim did not have movies, television dramas, or novels to help him visualize sin, but he understands the roots of sin, as does St. John of the Cross. He notes that vanity and "disquiet" come from the roots of sin. Once one is purged of these roots of self-love, peace and "equanimity", (such a word is rarely used now), become the way of live for the person living in the Dark Night. The Dark Night steadies one to be able to fight satan, even to the point of moving away from venial sin and the desire for sin.

To be continued...

Very interesting on Byzantium

Postscript on The Dark Night of the Soul

I could write twenty more posts on the Dark Night as developed by St. John of the Cross. In my posts, I have been trying to unpack the poem and commentary of the great Doctor of the Church. Where does one end the interpretation? Knowing that Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta spent at least 45 years in this state of the Dark Night, as she noted to her spiritual director, one becomes a bit intimidated with the explanation of a stage of spiritual growth which could take one's entire life.

Of course, the timeline varies from saint to saint, as I have written here before. And, heroic virtue demands heroic circumstances, such as the experience of the distancing of God before He allows the Illumination of the soul and body in that stage.

There is an illumination before the Dark Night, but the great Illumination happens only after purgation, and for many saints, this illumination quickly moves into the Unitive State, union with God in love. See the link below.

I have already covered the Illuminative and Unitive States in the perfection series. This Dark Night series is merely a more detailed section on some posts in the perfection series. Here is only one on the Illuminative State, and only one on the Unitive State from earlier posts.

There are at least 53 posts which include references to St. John of the Cross.

I shall try and continue this mini-exploration. Would it not be wonderful if one could interview Blessed Mother Teresa on her experience of such a long, long Dark Night, especially as Catholics enter into a period of great persecution?

To be continued....

Consumerism, Materialism, Pride and the Theological Virtues-The Dark Night of the Soul, Part 39

Catholics receive the theological virtues directly from God. We all have human virtues, but the theological virtues pave the way to heaven, allowing one to live in and with the Holy Trinity. The theological virtues, as most know, are faith, hope and charity.

Now, one wonders why these virtues do not flourish in the Church, through the lives of the members of the Church. What happens to stop the growth of faith, hope and love? As these are infused virtues, one would expect all Catholics to exhibit faith, hope and love.

Faith, as defined in the CCC, is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith "man freely commits his entire self to God."78 For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God's will. "The righteous shall live by faith." Living faith "work[s] through charity."79

To believe in God daily and to believe in Revelation and Tradition are no small feats. A Catholic who is orthodox, that is, obedient to all the Church teaches, and, in addition, gives his life to God totally, is living in and by faith.

One who lives in faith constantly prays and desires to know God, love God and do His Will.

This first theological virtue may be "sinned against", that is, one may turn against this gift and choose not to believe. For some, this is apostasy, the complete denial of faith. For others, the cause could be sloth, not cultivating a prayer life, or not receiving the sacraments frequently.

A habit of sin can destroy faith. One of the greatest enemies of faith is materialism, the belief that the life on earth is the only life, and that there is no eternal, no spiritual life, Materialism denies the soul, and the dignity of the person. This heresy is fast becoming the great heresy of Europe, where many no longer believe in heaven or hell, following the Marxist view of dialectic materialism.

Anarchists are usually materialists, denying a hierarchy of spirituality in the world.

Hope, the second theological virtue, is, according to the CCC, the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful."84 "The Holy Spirit . . . he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life."85

This virtue is the most misunderstood of all three. Notice the phrase, "relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit". This virtue grows in the Dark Night of the Soul. Father Phelim quotes St. John of the Cross,  that, "the more things we possess the less scope and capacity there is for hoping and consequently, the less hope we have." He notes that the less we have in reality and in memory, the more able we are to possess God and hope in His love.

The great enemy of hope is consumerism. Consumerism, which is the greatest sin of the American people, demands that happiness may be bought. People become obsessed with buying more and more and more things, thereby becoming preoccupied with wealth and the consumption of goods obtained by wealth.

One cannot develop the virtue of hope when one is literally consumed with things. Those who possess things do not have room in their hearts, minds, and souls for God. The dispossession of things allows for the freedom to let God into one's being.  Hope rests on not having, and if one has one does not perfect hope for the love of God. Consumerism feeds selfishness, which stifles hope.

The third theological virtue is love. The CCC notes that Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.

Perhaps, most Catholics understand love, or charity, more that faith or hope. But, love cannot enter the soul, the heart or the mind without first faith and hope. Love is the fulfilment of faith and hope. When one is finally purged of selfishness and greed, of doubt and disobedience, love follows.

The great enemy of love is pride, as pride brainwashes the mind, the heart and the soul into denying the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, Who loved us, as the CCC reminds us in the section on charity, while we were still enemies. Strong words. Pride denies that we were ever enemies of God, blaming others for our sins, as Eve blamed the serpent, and Adam blamed Eve.

All of these virtues are free gifts from God, but these can lie dormant for years and years unless one allows God to kill materialism, consumerism and pride in us.

That is one of the reasons for the Dark Night of the Soul, the purification of both the senses and the spirit.

To be continued....

Portinari-another blog poem

Io mi senti' svegliar dentro a lo core
Un spirito amoroso che dormia:
E poi vidi venir da lungi Amore
Allegro sì, che appena il conoscia,

One sees, in this candle-light of damp street
lamps, pride is merely a lack of love.

Selfishness guides our coffee spoons,
making us chose only comfort, security.

La Vita Nuova lies in a storage space.
La gloriosa donna della mia mente.

Now, love is an adventure with no map,
no set rules as in the old days, when liking

demanded a certain give and take. No more,
and those who are caught in the nonsense

of doubt, or fear, or withered hearts,
cannot make their own rules as these would,

like baby's blocks, spelling gobbledegook, be
incomprehensible. Few, the long chosen,

have an angel, as did Tobit, to guide
on the way to love and happiness. Most

bumble along, hoping, dreaming, but not
seeing what is in front, looking down

because we only want to see ourselves.
L'una appresso de l'altra miriviglia.

We lose more times than we win. In those
losses gain a truer picture of murky souls,

waiting for sunlight. The emerald eyes may
have seen too much, or not enough, or be,

like eyes coming into the sun after being in
the cellar, blinded, by custom, or worse, sin.

For the Christians, the cell of inheritance
has been already been drained of blood.

Io mi senti' svegliar dentro a lo core
If we were pure of heart and imagination, we

might see patterns of light becoming dark,
like walking through the woods at dusk; myriad

colours turning to grey: we forget that walnut
trees burn bright green in the sun. We forget mercy.

Dicendo: "Or pensa pur di farmi onore".
I ask forgiveness for ending the story,

for not acting on compassion, holding back,
unsure, not trusting my elemental good.

So, I failed. Dante chose his wife, loved.
Beatrice revealed his soul.

For parents, a borrowed comment and repeated story

I have told this story on line before. Bear with me. I had a hard birth with my son. He stopped breathing five times in the womb. I know he is a miracle baby. The next morning, with the smell of lilacs coming in through the open windows, after a late night birth. I held this tiny baby in a ward of an old Victorian hospital in Cuckfield, Sussex. It was noisy on the ward, as one did not have private rooms in those days, only curtains separating beds. Daddy was not there as spouses only had two times a day they could visit.
All of the sudden, my baby and I were enveloped in complete silence. I recognized a God moment. I heard as clearly as any human voice, the Voice of God. He said, “When you die, I shall ask you one question. Did you pass your Faith on to your son?” I said yes.  The silence ended and all the noises of the beautiful spring day came back. I did not know then that a few years later, it would be my own, personal responsibility without the help of a spouse to do this, although Daddy did help me in the beginning.
I began home schooling in 1991 and ended in 2006, when son went to TAC. I was a single mom working as well as home schooling. This is the primary duty of every Catholic parent-to pass on the real Faith of the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church. I may fear my personal particular judgement for other sins, but not the sin of neglect of my duty, which was a duty made so clear to me on the morning of April 27th, 1988, the day after my son’s birth.