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Friday 15 November 2013

Pray for this priest, please

One more note on thoughts from St. John of the Cross

Lost a post somewhere between this McDonald's and another one. C'est la vie.  Let me just say that it was a goodbye to discussing the stages of Illumination and Unity by cautioning readers that to get too far ahead in reading and understanding may become a dangerous thing. To experience grace is not the same as to read about such graces.

Let me summarize, however, a few points on the Illuminative State first, and then, on the Unitive State.

Firstly, the Illuminative State involves the finding of God's Love, as He finally allows Himself to be found after the time of purgation. The time of purification may vary from nine months, to years, to a lifetime, depending on the personality of the Catholic, and God's grace.

Signs of the Illuminative State are infused knowledge, the breaking away of venial sin and tendencies towards sin, the complete dependence on Divine Providence, the release of the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit, which have been blocked by sin and the predominant faults.

Great power emanates from the person in the Illuminative State, and, as mentioned before, many of the founders of orders created those in that state. Benedict and Dominic, among others, come to mind. The Indwelling of the Trinity is now accomplished, with the person coming into a new awareness of the soul's relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The ego has been crushed, one lives in humility and one experiences off and on the ecstasies of love in God.

This is an active state, when great deeds for God and the Church may be done. But, it is a time when the soul, which is the bride, comes into a spiritual engagement to a spiritual marriage, which is the final stage, of Unity.

This period of engagement is a heady time and the bride-soul no longer suffers in the same way as in the Dark Night. That suffering has ended, as all obstacles between the soul and God have been removed.

Yet, the soul must learn to trust more in God and to be open, less afraid, of His Love. The Bridegroom Christ seeks the soul more and more. The outward world fades away and the entire life of the spirit becomes all to the bride-soul. The Illuminative state is one of action, whereas the Unitive State is one of passivity, the passing out of the world into the world of the spirit, but not quite. Only in death is there perfect union, and the soul in the Unitive State desires that union, but only in God's time.

(Something very odd is happening here in Union Station-a camera man and six or seven Chicago police and some other people are gathering for some looks benign. They are all outside the McDonald's. I am sitting next to the only socket, as my battery is low...hmmm).

Anyway, the soul is more interested in the interior life than in the exterior life, and therefore, outward things become a distraction and pain.

But, the pain of separation is at an end. In the Unitive State, God reveals Himself in His Attributes to the soul-the bride-soul begins to experience a deep understanding of God as Beauty, Justice, Truth, and so on.

I am going to take a break from this discussion for awhile. As one in the Dark Night, I can only imagine the great love and peace of the Illuminative State and the beautiful reality of the Unitive State.

On the Unitive State-a short post

A last few words on the Unitive State from St. John of the Cross before leaving him for awhile follow:

“It should be known that God dwell secretly in all souls and is hidden in their substance, for otherwise they would not last. Yet, there is a difference, a great difference, in His dwelling in them. In some souls He dwells alone, and in others He does not dwell alone. Abiding in some, He is pleased; and in others, He is displeased. He lives in some as though in His own house, commanding and ruling everything; and in others as though a stranger in a strange house, where they do not permit Him to give orders or do anything.

It is in that soul in which less of its own appetites and pleasures dwell that He dwells more alone, more pleased,  and more as though in His own house, ruling and governing it. And He dwells more in secret, the more He dwells alone. Thus in this soul, in which neither any appetite nor other images or forms nor any affections for created things dwell, the beloved dwells secretly with an embrace so much the closer, more intimate, and interior, the purer and more alone the soul is to everything other than God. His dwelling is in secret, then, because the devil cannot reach the area of this embrace, nor can one’s intellect understand how it occurs.

Yet it is not secret to the soul itself that has attained this perfection, for with itself it has the experience of this intimate embrace.  It does not, however, always experience these awakenings, for then the beloved produces them, it seems to the soul that he is awakening in its heart, where before he remained as though asleep. Although it was experiencing and enjoying him, this took place as though with a loved one who is asleep, for knowledge and love are not communicated mutually while one is still asleep

More Newman on This Friday

From Sermon 15 of Newman;
(Preached on Thursday morning, the Purification, 1843, by appointment of Mr. Christie, Fellow of Oriel.) The overthrow of the wisdom of the world was one of the earliest, as well as the noblest of the triumphs of the Church; after the pattern of her Divine Master, who took His place among the doctors before He preached His new Kingdom, or opposed Himself to the world's power. St. Paul, the learned Pharisee, was the first fruits of that gifted company, in whom the pride of science is seen prostrated before the foolishness of preaching. From his day to this the Cross has enlisted under its banner all those great endowments of mind, which in former times had been expended on vanities, or dissipated in doubt and speculation. Nor was it long before the schools of heathenism took the alarm, and manifested an unavailing jealousy of the new doctrine, which was robbing them of their most hopeful disciples. They had hitherto taken for granted that the natural home of the Intellect was the Garden or {315} the Porch; and it reversed their very first principles to be called on to confess, what yet they could not deny, that a Superstition, as they considered it, was attracting to itself all the energy, the keenness, the originality, and the eloquence of the age. But these aggressions upon heathenism were only the beginning of the Church's conquests; in the course of time the whole mind of the world, as I may say, was absorbed into the philosophy of the Cross, as the element in which it lived, and the form upon which it was moulded. And how many centuries did this endure, and what vast ruins still remain of its dominion! In the capitals of Christendom the high cathedral and the perpetual choir still witness to the victory of Faith over the world's power. To see its triumph over the world's wisdom, we must enter those solemn cemeteries in which are stored the relics and the monuments of ancient Faith—our libraries. Look along their shelves, and every name you read there is, in one sense or other, a trophy set up in record of the victories of Faith. How many long lives, what high aims, what single-minded devotion, what intense contemplation, what fervent prayer, what deep erudition, what untiring diligence, what toilsome conflicts has it taken to establish its supremacy! This has been the object which has given meaning to the life of Saints, and which is the subject-matter of their history. For this they have given up the comforts of earth and the charities of home, and surrendered themselves to an austere rule, nay, even to confessorship and persecution, if so be they could make some small offering, or do some casual service, or {316} provide some additional safeguard towards the great work which was in progress. This has been the origin of controversies, long and various, yes, and the occasion of much infirmity, the test of much hidden perverseness, and the subject of much bitterness and tumult. The world has been moved in consequence of it, populations excited, leagues and alliances formed, kingdoms lost and won: and even zeal, when excessive, evinced a sense of its preciousness; nay, even rebellions in some sort did homage to it, as insurgents imply the actual sovereignty of the power which they are assailing.

And so, we can have Faith in the reasonableness of Catholicism but we must also pray for the opportunity to share this Faith.

A Serious Note on BBB vs. The Church

Not the Pax Romana, as now the call to Macedonia now faces great obstacles.

The governments of the world want to interfere with the universal Church. I know this from several sources. The governments have already passed laws in the EU which now restrict religious visas, preachers rights to preach, the acceptance of seminarians from other countries to join dioceses, the right to work and stay in some countries for more than five years. And so on…

Think about the travels of SS. Francis, or Dominic, or Catherine of Siena, or Francis Xavier, or Isaac Joques.

The Catholic Church is the only institution in the world which has always transcended boundaries.

Missionaries, nuns and priests, brothers and sisters, have travelled the world in the past without problems on entry or stay.

Convents could set up daughter houses with no problems and share nuns between these houses.

This has ended in some countries and will end in others.

Seminary students who are returning to their own countries may study abroad for a while, but the freedom of many will be curtailed.

Such is the power of the EU. I was talking to Carmelites who used to be able to stay in their father house in Ireland for years. They are from Kenya and Nigeria. Now, they can only stay months.

A pattern of restricting the movements of Catholics began in 2012.

This is all planned, as the only great enemy of socialism and communism is the Church and communists and socialists are also a world-wide organization.  So are the Masons.
All Christians will be affected. I know of a Protestant minister who was recently told he could not preach in Great Britain if he wanted to come in on a visitor’s visa.

I was invited to give a series of talks on the virtue formation of children in the family in an EU country by a diocesan priest in charge of marriage and family spirituality, and I had to say no. I would have to apply for a religious workers visa from America. The Catch-22 is this. Some EU countries no longer allow lay people to come and work in a religious capacity-they cannot be sponsored by the dioceses. One can no longer do such a thing on a visitor’s visa in some countries, and the EU will insure this type of restriction spreads. The EU countries have lost or are losing their personal sovereignty in these matters.

The irony is that there are few European lay people who are trained as we are in the States to do such work. And, with the growing priest shortages, few people are there to catechize.

A Catholic is not allowed to volunteer on a visitor’s visa for any charity. I, for example, could not pray outside of abortion clinics while on a visitor’s visa.  I could not raise money for a charity on a visitor’s visa.  I could not give talks freely at schools or in parishes on a visitor’s visa. A visitor is a tourist, not an evangelist.
Lay people are more and more denied access on various grounds decided by governments.

Think about this. All the Christians in the countries of the world were converted by our missionaries, clerical, religious, lay.

Many of the great saints moved from Europe to other places as missionaries-the list is long.

The apostles and disciples of Christ came from the Holy Land into Europe, St. Paul being the first answering his call to go to Macedonia.

He was shipwrecked on Malta and brought Catholicism to that island. This event is presented in the last chapters of Acts, and I had the great delight of walking where St. Paul walked.

The Pax Romana allowed the movement of Christians and Christ came at the Fullness of Time, the time designated by the Father, for the optimum spreading of the Gospels.

Peace, order, good roads….frequent ships, lively ports. A Roman citizen was a citizen of the world.

Americans are not citizens of the world, by the way, and the so-called special relationships are gone, gone, gone.

Europe is closing its doors to many and opening these doors to others.

The days of freely travelling for those who want to spread the Gospel are numbered.

Think about this….as I do when I sit here and type in Illinois, while people in England and Malta want me to teach catechesis, and share my faith in those countries. I cannot do so at this point, and those dioceses are no longer allowed to sponsor me, as I am an American and not an EU citizen.

Please join me in prayer, as, like St. Paul, I feel called to Europe to work for Christ and His Church there. I have a great love for Europe in my heart and have since I was 14.  That is fifty years of loving Europe and specifically, England.

So, too, were my ancestors called from Europe to America, as the very first person on my mother’s side to come was a missionary priest. He then asked my Great-Grandfather to come and set up schools, and even a monastery, and a Catholic printing press, and a college. This he did and the faith flourished in areas of northern Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri because of my ancestors’ works.

Just as miracles brought Paul to Rome, so, too, I need miracles. But, God’s Will be done.

My faith is strong, but one waits on the Lord. Shortly before I left Malta, I saw the double rainbow and God’s promise to Noah is our promise, not only that God will not destroy the earth by water, but that His Truth will spread through-out the world.

A selection from Blessed John Henry Newman seems appropriate this morning.

From Sermon Seven, Oxford Sermons:
15. The contempt of men!—why should we be unwilling to endure it? We are not better than our fathers. In every age it has been the lot of Christians far more highly endowed than we are with the riches of Divine wisdom. It was the lot of Apostles and Prophets, and of the Saviour of mankind Himself. When He was brought before Pilate, the Roman Governor felt the same surprise and disdain at His avowal of His unearthly office, which the world now expresses. "To this end was I born, … that I should bear witness unto the Truth. Pilate saith, What is Truth?" Again, when Festus would explain to King Agrippa the cause of the dispute between St. Paul and the Jews, he says, "The accusers ... brought no accusations of such things as I supposed, but certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive."
16. Such, however, are the words of men, who, not knowing the strength of Christianity, had not the guilt of deliberate apostasy. But what serious thoughts does it present to the mind, to behold parallels to heathen blindness and arrogance in a Christian country, where men might know better, if they would inquire!—and what a warning to us all is the sight of those who, though nominally within the Church, are avowedly indifferent to it! For all of us surely are on our trial, and, as we go forth into the world, so we are winnowed, and the chaff gradually separated from the true seed. This is St. John's account of it. "They went out from {134} us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not of us." And our Lord stands by watching the process, telling us of "the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the earth," exhorting us to "try them which say they are apostles, and are not," and to "hold fast that which we have, that no man take our crown."
17. Meanwhile, it is an encouragement to us to think how much may be done in way of protest and teaching, by the mere example of those who endeavour to serve God faithfully. In this way we may use against the world its own weapons; and, as its success lies in the mere boldness of assertion with which it maintains that evil is good, so by the counter-assertions of a strict life and a resolute profession of the truth, we may retort upon the imaginations of men, that religious obedience is not impracticable, and that scripture has its persuasives. A martyr or a confessor is a fact, and has its witness in itself; and, while it disarranges the theories of human wisdom, it also breaks in upon that security and seclusion into which men of the world would fain retire from the thought of religion. One prophet against four hundred disturbed the serenity of Ahab, King of Israel. When the witnesses in St. John's vision were slain, though they were but two, then "they that dwelt on the earth rejoiced over them, and made merry, and sent gifts one to another, because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth." Nay, such confessors have a witness even in {135} the breasts of those who oppose them, an instinct originally from God, which may indeed be perverted into a hatred, but scarcely into an utter disregard of the Truth, when exhibited before them. The instance cannot be found in the history of mankind, in which an anti-Christian power could long abstain from persecuting. The disdainful Festus at length impatiently interrupted his prisoner's speech; and in our better regulated times, whatever be the scorn or malevolence which is directed against the faithful Christian, these very feelings show that he is really a restraint on vice and unbelief, and a warning and guide to the feeble-minded, and to those who still linger in the world with hearts more religious than their professed opinions; and thus even literally, as the text expresses it, he overcomes the world, conquering while he suffers, and willingly accepting overbearing usage and insult from others, so that he may in some degree benefit them, though the more abundantly he loves them, the less he be loved.
(Preached on Sunday afternoon, May 27, 1832, in the Author's turn as Select Preacher.)

By the way, BBB stands for Broke Big Brother, another name for Europe.

Repeat Poem

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Sleeping Lady of Malta

Thanks to Wiki for The Sleeping Lady of Malta, circa 1,500 BC

Of what does she dream, this heavy lady of Malta, resting on her hard bed,
hand under her head, like a goddess taking a break from listening to her votaries singing chants over the wine-dark sea?

Does she dream, or is her sleep dreamless, that of the dead, who no longer hold imagination or memory? Has she let go of the last images of the Middle Sea's ships bringing her necklaces of shells from Syracuse?
Is her dream one of the dancing star-skirted lady?

Did her dreams end abruptly, like one caught off-guard in the night, facing a soft journey into eternity?
Or, is she still dreaming, holding on to images which she creates for the people of Malta, who no longer know her name?

This lady wears the billowing skirts of many goddesses and reveals her breasts to the world, as if to say she is worthy of the worship from those who need fertility.
 Those yearnings of Maltese maidens lie in the dust of ─Žal-Saflieni-few want offspring now.

This lady's hair was done by one of the ancestor's of the blow-dry experts of Valletta, and she does not worry about her bare feet, so broken, so lost in memory. Does she does dream of some one, some god beyond the walls of Athens or Kedash?

Does he dream of her, he, buried in a cave or sandstorm, with his arm under his head?  Or did he find a lissome lass of 
 Dalmanutha or the ancient springs of Achsah?  Maybe he preferred dark, like the tents of Kedar?

His left arm is under my head
 and his right arm embraces me. Daughters of Jerusalem,
I charge you:
 Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. And, so, perhaps, she sleeps into
this tumultuous century, dreaming of lost love....

copyright 2013

Missing Malta

Thanks to wiki for this photo