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Sunday 3 November 2013

On The Desert God

Psalm 28

28 A psalm for David, at the finishing of the tabernacle. Bring to the Lord, O ye children of God: bring to the Lord the offspring of rams.
Bring to the Lord glory and honour: bring to the Lord glory to his name: adore ye the Lord in his holy court.
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of majesty hath thundered, The Lord is upon many waters.
The voice of the Lord is in power; the voice of the Lord in magnificence.
The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars: yea, the Lord shall break the cedars of Libanus.
And shall reduce them to pieces, as a calf of Libanus, and as the beloved son of unicorns.
The voice of the Lord divideth the flame of fire:
The voice of the Lord shaketh the desert: and the Lord shall shake the desert of Cades.
The voice of the Lord prepareth the stags: and he will discover the thick woods: and in his temple all shall speak his glory.
10 The Lord maketh the flood to dwell: and the Lord shall sit king for ever. The Lord will give strength to his people: the Lord will bless his people with peace.

The name El was the title of the desert god of many of the ancient religions. El  was also the god of the storms. However, the One, True God took the name and made it His Own, the God of all Creation, the Father of all Mankind, as well as the God of the Desert. God is still the God of the Desert. Christ Himself went into the desert to pray and allow Himself to be tempted. Over and over again, those who love God went into the desert to leave the world and find Him.

Sometimes, God calls some of us into the desert, as He did with the Desert Fathers.

Why God calls some of us out into the dryness is a mystery of the Dark Night and of purity.

I am in the desert. I know this. When I went to Adoration today, the monstrance was set up in a desert scene of rocks and sand. This is Malta.

In the myth of Psyche  which I have mentioned more than once on this blog, the woman must do penance for doubting love. Such is the path of purification, which takes away all that is stopping Love Himself from coming to one.

The desert experience is a clear symbol of the nothingness of the Dark Night. No consolations, no color, no refreshment, only dryness and a bright light which causes all to be dark because it is so bright.

One's guardian angel can help us in this dark night. 

You might want to check out this post from the past.

On Sunday, we saw Christ in the desert facing temptations. He is God and Man and the temptations were real. But, this was not the first time God was in the desert.
We remember the Hebrews, God's Chosen People being freed from Egypt by God's Mighty Hand and then rebelling over and over again in the desert. Their punishment was 40 years. But, God was with them.
For God had a right to purify His Own; and one of the biggest sins was complaining.
The person or person's with a complaining heart lacks several virtues, and is ignoring a truism
God deserves praise daily. Pride causes complaining. The moaner wants to be a god, to play god.
The moaning one lacks humility and wants to be in control.
Only God is in control and He is in control.
Why did the entire generation of Jews have to die out in the desert for their sins of rebellion?

Why did they not get to see the promised land? Even Moses was punished for striking the rock three times instead of obeying God and striking it once. No big deal, one might think. Why such a harsh punishment? Was it merely that Moses was impatient, or angry? Was it that he was not trusting in God to make water flow in the desert with just one small gesture?

Moses forgot who he was. As a great friend of God, one who walked with God and heard His Voice daily, Moses forgot one small truth. Obedience in the smallest thing which God asks is real Love. Moses died on Mt. Nebo within sight of the Holy Land, God's home for him. This was a terrible punishment for Moses. He was purified in this suffering, as we know that he, Moses, was seen in the Transfiguration with Christ and Elijah
The obedience of the heart is learned in silence. In the desert, there is much silence. In silence, we learn to listen and hear God.
Even Moses had to be punished for not listening. And, yet, we have more than what Moses had. We have Christ in the Eucharist, we have the Church and the sacraments to help us.St Paul writes, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" Rom. 10: 4
Doing things out of Love is what Paul means. We act out of love and not fear. We act out of love and not merely obedience without love. Moses forgot to act out of love.
Obedience is Love. If one is not obedient in the smallest thing, one is lacking in love.

The desert carves out our hearts so that we have room to love God.
The desert is hard. It is very hot in the day and very cold at night. Sand gets into one's skin, eyes, hair. It is full of dangerous animals. Water is scarce. One has to rely on God totally in the desert. He is our Guide, as we cannot get out of the desert without Him. He is our sustenance, as we are not fed in the desert, without Him.
The world is fast turning into the desert. There will soon be no Catholic nations to go to in order to avoid evils such as abortion, contraception, euthanasia, same-sex marriage. There will be no place to hide.
Among rocks and sand, there are few places to hide. We must create that place in our souls or we shall die.
Learn to live in the desert. 
from today's Morning Psalm, 94
If only, today, you would listen to his voice:
  “Do not harden your hearts
  as you did at Meribah,
on the day of Massah in the desert,
  when your fathers tested me –
they put me to the test,
  although they had seen my works.”
“For forty years they wearied me,
  that generation.
I said: their hearts are wandering,
  they do not know my paths.
I swore in my anger:
 they will never enter my place of rest.” But God is merciful and He sent His Only Son to help us while we are in the desert.

Dear Lord, help us to learn to live in the desert. Help us now to be so full of love for you, that being in the desert is merely one more way to find You and love you.

To be continued..............

An Unexpected Treat

I popped into Stella Maris Church this morning for Sunday Mass as I did not want to make the trip to the Co-Cathedral, which is my favorite place for Sunday Mass. I also wanted to see the parish church of Sliema before I left, which will be at the week's end. To my surprise and delight, the Latvian National Woman's Choir was present to sing new liturgical pieces. These are composed by Latvians, two of whom are Didzis Ritnieks and Andris Kontauts. The language was Latin, but the music modern, although I recognized some borrowing of Medieval polyphonic chants.

Here is an example of Kontauts music, although, of course, not from this morning's Mass.

Stella Maris, Mary, Star of the Sea, is one name of Mary I truly love. The Irish and the English also have great devotion to her, and there are two hymns I especially like sung to her in that title. Of course, I could not understand the sermon, as it was a Maltese Mass. But, music transcends language.

Thanks to wiki for this statue photo

Second Poem Revealing The Dark Night  a beautiful poem about a soul in purgatory and one which reveals a personal experience of purification and longing. This has been put to music by Elgar. Here is one version.

One of Two Poems Revealing A Dark Night

 by Bl. John Henry Newman
Praise to the Holiest in the height,
And in the depth be praise,
In all his words most wonderful,
Most sure in all his ways.
O loving wisdom of our God!
When all was sin and shame,
A second Adam to the fight
And to the rescue came.
O wisest love! that flesh and blood
Which did in Adam fail,
Should strive afresh against their foe,
Should strive and should prevail.
And that a higher gift than grace
Should flesh and blood refine,
God’s presence and his very self,
And essence all divine.
O generous love! that he who smote
In man for man the foe
The double agony in man
For man should undergo.
And in the garden secretly
And on the cross on high,
Should teach his brethren, and inspire
To suffer and to die.
Praise to the Holiest in the height,
And in the depth be praise,
In all his words most wonderful,
Most sure in all his ways.

On The Friendship of The Saints

I like St. Martin de Porres, a lay brother of the Dominicans, who, like St. Francis, had the ability to talk to the animals, and these listened!

I like St. Martin as he was a friend of one of my personal patrons, St. Rose of Lima.

My point of this post is that saints need friends. Friendship is a dying art. Too many people look at each other with dollar signs in their eyes, instead of selfless love.

Too many people do not have the proper boundaries for friendship.

Too many people do not have enough personal freedom to allow other such in friendship.

Catholics need friends. Some of us have been abandoned by friends when times get tough. Some people stop being friends when there is nothing to get from the other, so they think. Christ allowed Himself to be abandoned by friends.

But, friendship is a real gift of Christianity to the world.

The first apostles became friends. SS. Francis and Clare were friends. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati is a blessed because he knew how to make friends in Christ.

That Martin and Rose were friends comforts me. Can you imagine their discussions about Jesus, Mary and Joseph? Can you imagine them planning to help the poor? Did they pray together now and then?

We need friends in Christ. Recently, I had to say goodbye to two dear friends of mine. One is of an age where I am concerned whether I shall ever see her again alive. We would talk about God and religious things for hours and hours, like SS. Benedict and Scholastic on the night of her death.

Talking about the ways of God and encouraging one another to be saints is what friends in Christ do.

Be a friend and help your friends become saints.

Happy Feast of St. Martin de Porres.