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Wednesday 16 October 2013

Hope readers do not mind

While I am in Malta, perhaps because it is a desert island, I am returning to the perfection series.

Will continue this in the next few days..

The purification of the senses and series continued....

The key to survival and progress is the acceptance of pain. One must learn to carry pain in one's heart and mind in order to go through the passive purification of the senses and the spirit.

Nothing matters, except that one continues to will to love God above all else, above all persons.

The focus is all.

A good habit at these stages is to meditate on the Crucifixion. One could have one nearby in prayer at all times.

One can look at the Cross, at the Beloved Crucified and join with Him in that suffering.

As one learns how to do this, a freedom becomes more obvious in one's spirit.

Fear disappears and a fresh and new reliance on Divine Providence occurs.

to be continued....

The purification of the senses and the spirit in the Dark Night....continued

...Tauler, Second Sermon for Pentecost. See also the Sermon for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity Sunday, where he says: "Then there opens up a very deserted road, which is wholly somber and solitary. On this road God takes back all that He has given. Man is then so completely abandoned to himself that he no longer knows anything of God. He reaches a state of such anguish that he no longer knows whether he is on the right road. . . and this becomes so painful to him that this vast world seems too narrow to him. He has no longer any feeling of his God, he no longer knows anything about Him, and everything else displeases him. It is as if he were fastened between two walls, with a sword behind him and a sharp lance in front of him. Let him then sit down and say: 'Hail, O God, bitter bitterness full of all graces.' To love to excess and to be deprived of the good that one loves seems to him more painful trial than hell, if hell were possible on earth. All that one can then say to this man consoles him as much as would a stone. Less than anything else, he does not wish anyone to talk to him about creatures. . . . Take courage! The Lord is surely very near. Rest on the trunk of a very living true faith: soon all will go exceedingly well." This is the night and the profound emptiness which prepare the true deification of the soul. Elsewhere Tauler compares this state to that of a ship which has lost its sails and masts in a storm.

This is from Garrigou-Lagrange. Let me remind my dear readers that the only thing which gets us through this is Faith, Hope, and Willing Love.

We have faith in what we cannot comprehend or see. We have hope in what we cannot see, and we love through the will. 

This process make take a short period of time or a long one. Those who cooperate and are not afraid of suffering progress much more quickly than those who do not.

God usually does not leave the soul in this state without brief moments of consolation. 

To be continued....

The passive purification of the senses and the spirit, continued

All the saints experienced the passive purification of the senses and the spirit. St. John of the Cross is only one. The list is long of those who actually wrote about this painful and yet, sustaining period of growth in the spirit.

Garrigou-Lagrange quotes several of the saints regarding this, but here is only a few examples. I use these paragraphs to show the consistency of these saints who share their journeys with us. Many of my readers have expressed that they understand these stages. Perhaps this section will help. I am writing about this as many people get to this stage but then pull back. Do not pull back. The note on Tauler is so true.  The void can only be filled by Christ Himself.

The last section is most beautiful. Like any lover, who wants to be united with the beloved and become one with him, so too, we enter in that daily desire for oneness and unity. I pray daily to be taken up into Christ and to become one with Him.

Is there anything else more worthy of our prayers than this desire?

Hugh of St. Victor had compared the passive purification of the soul by grace and the love of God to the transformation which green wood undergoes when attacked by fire: "The dampness is consumed, the smoke diminishes, the victorious flame shows itself; . . . finally it communicates its own nature to the wood, which is set completely on fire. Likewise the love of God gradually grows in the soul, the passions of the heart at first resist, which causes many sufferings and troubles; this thick smoke must be dissipated. Then the love of God becomes more ardent, its flame more lively. . . and finally it penetrates the entire soul. The divine truth is found and assimilated by contemplation; the soul, detached from self, no longer seeks anything but God. He is for it all in all; it rests in His love and finds therein joy and peace. (11)
Speaking in like terms, Tauler says that the Holy Ghost creates a void in the depth of our souls where egoism and pride still dwell. He creates the void that He may heal us, and then He fills it to overflowing while continually increasing our capacity to receive.(12)
St. Teresa speaks of the passive purification of the spirit in the first chapter of the sixth mansion of The Interior Castle.
We read also in the life of St. Vincent de Paul that for four years he endured a trial of this type, which was marked by a persistent temptation against faith. The temptation was so strong that he wrote the Credo on a sheet of paper, which he carried over his heart and pressed from time to time to assure himself that he did not consent to the temptation.(13)
We should also keep in mind that St. John of the Cross, after Tauler, describes this state as it is in the saints in all its amplitude and intensity, such as he himself must have undergone it. But the purification is found in lesser degrees and under less purely contemplative forms, united, for example, to the great trials met with in the apostolate.
If the passive purification of the spirit seems extraordinary to us outside the normal way of sanctity, this is because we do not give enough thought to what a profound purification of the soul is necessary to receive immediately eternal life, the beatific vision of the divine essence, without having to pass through purgatory or after having done so. And when we read the exposition of this doctrine in the great masters, we read it perhaps through a certain curiosity about divine things, but without a sufficiently sincere desire for our own sanctification. If we had this desire, we would find in these pages what is suitable for us, we would see there the one thing necessary.
We must in one way or another pass through this crucible in order to have a concept of our Savior's passion, of the humility of Jesus and His love for us, that will not be only a confused concept, or only a theoretically distinct concept, but an experimental concept, without which there is no love of the cross or true sanctity.
We must tell ourselves that the world is full of crosses that have unfortunately been lost like that of the bad thief. God grant that our sufferings may not be fruitless and that our crosses may resemble that of the good thief, which served as a reparation for his sins. May our crosses resemble even more closely the cross of Jesus and configure us to Him. Sanctifying grace, as it grows, makes us more and more like to God; inasmuch as it is Christian grace, it assimilates us to Christ crucified, and should make us grow more like Him until our entrance into heaven. It should mark us with the likeness of our Savior who died for love of us.

A short trip to Gozo

A short history of Gozo from this site..

I had a broef trip to the island today and saw some wonderful things, but not all. Maybe, God Willing, I shall go there again some day.


Gozo is the second largest island of the Maltese archipelago that consists of three islands known as Gozo, Comino, and Malta. Roughly circular in shape, 14km by 7km in area, Gozo is hilly and from the south-west to the north-west, the coast is entirely surrounded by cliffs. The hills of Gozo are curiously rounded and flat-topped, the result of hard rock lying on top of softer rock. The highest point on the island rising 190 meters above sea level, is Ta' Dbiegi hill on the outskirts of the village of San Lawrenz.
Gozo meaning "joy" in Castillian, is the name the Aragonese gave this island, when they possesed it in 1282. The idea of joy and pleasure is also conveyed by its Latin motto "Fertilis ab undis caput effero - a fruit land raising its head from the sea". The Phoenicians, when it was theirs in 700BC, called it "Gwl" or Gaulos, meaning a round ship, possibly in reference to the island's shape from a distance, a name which the romans kept when they took it over in 218AD. The Arabs, who came to rule this piece of land a thousand years ago, and who strongly influenced its Semitic language, left behind the name that has stuck in the vernacular: Ghawdex (pronounced Aw-desh).
History of Gozo 
Gozo's history goes back to 5000BC, when a group from Sicily succeeded in crossing over on some form of sea-craft. These people who first colonised Gozo probably lived in caves around Il-Mixta on Ghajn Abdul Plateau on the outskirts of San Lawrence village, to the north-west of Gozo. This site consists of one huge cave seperated into two by a natural column and a man-made wall. Pottery shreds unearthed on this site are of a purer pedigree than any other pottery found elsewhere in the Maltese islands. This suggests that Gozo might have been settled earlier than Malta.

The Temple Period (4100 - 2500BC) This phase represents an important turning point in the cultural evolution of prehistoric man. The greatest undertaking of the pre-Phoenician Gozoitans are undoubtedly Ggantija Temples (3600 - 3000BC) situated in Xaghra, and documented as the oldest freestanding structure in the world. The temples take their name from the Maltese term "Ggant" meaning "giant", an apt name when one views the sheer size and height of these megaliths. Especially impressive are the cornerstones and the rear wall of the south temple.

The site consists of two temples, contained within a single outer wall. Although sharing a common facade, each temple unit has a seperate entrance. The south temple has a fave apse plan and is the older of the two, as well as being the larger and better preserved. The left apse in the second pair capstones. Some suggest it might refer to a triple divinity, a triade. The remains of a fire-reddened circular stone hearth, possibly where there are also remains of what was probably a small enclosure where oracles were delivered.

The north temple is considerably smaller, but with a more evolved four-apse plan having its rear apse replaced by a shallow niche. The entrance is very similar to that of the first temple, only the threshold is narrower and shorter.

The temples have exercised many a mathematical and engineering mind, seeking a solution to the mystery of how these huge stones were quarried, transported and then lifted upright in those primitive times. Local legend has it that the work was undertaken by a giantess called Sansuna, who lived on a diet of broad beans and water and carried the megaliths on her head. However it was stone balls, which one can see strewn around the site, which probably served as rollers to transport these huge blocks of stone to the site.

After the disappearance of the temple people, the islands were repopulated by an entirely different race.

Bronze Age (2500 - 700BC) Unlike their predecessors, these people were warlike people who used copper and bronze tools and weapons and who cremated their dead instead of burying them. Among the interesting remains, there are three dolmens on Ta' Cenc plateau. These consist of a horizontal, roughly shaped slab of limestone supported on three sides by blocks of stone.

Phoenicians and Carthaginians (700 - 218BC) The Phoenicians attracted by the local harbours, established a colony in Malta and Gozo. Around 550BC, the Phoenicians of Carthage took over and the Carthaginians, as they are better known, remained masters of the islands until 218BC. There are remains of a Punic rock-cut sanctuary at Ras il-Wardija, on the outskirts of Santa Lucija village, on the south-western tip of Gozo.

Romans (218 - AD 535) At the beginning of the second Punic War in 218BC, the Carthaginians were ousted by the Romans. In Gozo they created a municipium, autonomous of that of Malta with a republican sort of Government that minted its own coins. Under the Romans, Christianity reached the shores of the island for the first time. In AD 60, Saint Paul the Apostle, while journeying to Rome, was shipwrecked in Malta.

Byzantines (535 - 870) Around AD 535, the islands passed under the dominion of the East Roman Empire, that is under the rule of Byzantium. Very little is known of Byzantine times of Gozo.

Arabs (870 - 1127) In 870, the aglabid Arabs became sole masters of the Maltese archipelago. The Punic dialect that had originated with the Phoenicians was then greatly affected in its structure. The Arabs' stay is evidenced by many placenames and family names and especially by the name they gave to the island of Gozo - Ghawdex, that survives to this day.

European Domination (1127 - 1530) Count Roger the Norman freed the islands from the Arabs, who however remained masters paying a tribute. In 1127, the Norman's took formal possession and hence, Gozo and Malta shared the same fate of Sicily passing successively under the rule of Swabia (1194), Angou (1266) and Aragon (1282). Under these rulers, the island was governed by a series of fuedal lords whose sole interest was to exact the highest possible taxes from the inhabitants. Around 1397, the Gozitans created the Universitas Gaudisii - a corporation to defend local interests. From then onwards, the Gozitans fought hard to maintain their ancient privileges and freedom.

Knights of St. John (1530 - 1798) On 23 March 1530, the islands passed under the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, a chivalrous religious order initiated in 1099 and officially founded in Jerusalem in 1113. Initially they made no improvements in Gozo in 1551, the island suffered it worst siege in history. In July, the Citadel was besieged by the Turks of Sinan Pasha. The medieval walls without flanks and terreplein to resist gunpowder bombardment were easy prey to besiegers and the fortifications soon succumbed. A tombstone in the local cathedral conveys some of the horror in its commemoration of the nobleman Bernardo Dupuo, who died fighting the Turkish priates, after killing his own wife and daughters to save them from slavery and concubinage, two fates worse than death. The entire population of about 5000 was taken into slavery.

After the terror of 1551, recovery was slow and painful. Some Gozitan slaves were traced and ransomed, but life was shattered and families left permanently split asunder, their various members sold to different owners in far-off lands. Grand Master de le Sengle encouraged resettlement from Malta, by promising to waive the new settlers' debts of the previous four years, if they would take the risk of living in undefended territory. Others, it is said came over from nearby Sicily.

The vulnerability to pirates and slavery is the reason why villages in Gozo did not develop until the late 18th/early 19th century. Before that, the tiny population stayed close to the citadel, taking shelter within its walls between dusk and dawn, in line with a curfew order that was only lifted in 1637 and whenever there was notice of a raid by pirates. The villages remain, today, completely different in structure to those of Malta. They are open-ended and do not form the Maltese pattern of tightly-winding, narrow and easily-defended streets.

It was to be another 150 years before the Knights contemplated the reality of an undefended Gozo, left open to the Turks. They hurriedly built some defences, but by then the piratical raids were easing off, until they ceased altogether in 1708.

As a result of these raids, a reluctance to communicate information creeped irremediably into the Gozitan character. As one writer recently put it in his guide to Gozo, the Gozitans @have now accepted that not all tourists are direct descendants of 16th century Turkish slave-traders@, and their natural wariness has eased into friendliness, though they still prefer to keep their distance.

French (1798 - 1800) On 10 June 1798, the French under General Napolean Bonaparte, ousted the Knights from Malta. Their rule in Gozo was short-lived. In September the people rose against the French, who, on 28 October surrendered to the Gozitans. Gozo enjoyed a short period of autonomy until 5 September 1800, when the British took the Maltese islands under their protection.

British (1800 - 1964) Malta and Gozo became formally a British Crown Colony in 1813 and the island was slowly transformed into a fortress colony. Its resistance to the Axis bombardments during the second World War is legendary.

Malta and Gozo became a sovereign independent state within the Commonwealth on 21 September 1864 and were declared a Republic on 13 December 1974. Though ruled from Malta from time immemorial, Gozo has had semi-autonomous governments several times in its history, the last being the Gozo Civic Council between 1961 and 1973. The island is now governed like any other part of the Maltese islands. The executive functions of the central Government are carried out through the Ministry for Gozo, established on 14 May 1987.

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Interesting pericope from this morning's Office of Readings...

Zechariah 3:1-4

And the Lord shewed me Jesus the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord: and Satan stood on his right hand to be his adversary.
And the Lord said to Satan: The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan: and the Lord that chose Jerusalem rebuke thee: Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?
And Jesus was clothed with filthy garments: and he stood before the face of the angel.
Who answered, and said to them that stood before him, saying: Take away the filthy garments from him. And he said to him: Behold I have taken away thy iniquity, and have clothed thee with change of garments.