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Wednesday 11 December 2013

Dates of the O Antiphons for 2013

See this link for the symbols to use on the Jesse Tree.

O Sapientia (December 17)
O Wisdom, Which camest out of the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come and teach us the way of prudence.

O Adonai (December 18)
O Adonai, and Leader of the house of Israel, Who didst appear to Moses in the flame of the burning bush, and didst give unto him the law on Sinai: come and with an outstretched arm redeem us.

O Radix Jesse (December 19)
O Root of Jesse, Which standest for an ensign of the people, before Whom kings shall keep silence, Whom the Gentiles shall beseech: come and deliver us, and tarry not.

O Clavis David (December 20)
O Key of David, and Scepter of the house of Israel, that openest and no man shutteth, and shuttest and no man openeth: come and bring the prisoner forth from his prison-house, and him that sitteth in darkness and in the shadow of death.

O Oriens (December 21)
O Day-spring, Brightness of light eternal, and Sun of Justice, come and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

O Rex Gentium (December 22)
O King of the Gentiles and the desire thereof, Thou cornerstone that makest both one, come and deliver mankind, whom Thou didst form out of clay.

O Emmanuel (December 23)

O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the desire of the nations and the Savior thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God.

Meditations on Death in Advent Part Nine

Continuing with the theme of death this Advent, I am so happy that the Pope addressed the final judgement this morning in his general audience. The entire piece is worth reading, but I took out two ideas. The first is that Christ is with us when we are judged. The second, which is more apropos for my meditations, is that we have chances daily to repent and prepare for that particular, as well as, general judgement.

By the way, our guardian angel is with us at both judgments as well. I am looking for the saint or saints from where I picked up these ideas......Ah, found one-from the great saint, Jose Maria Escriva.

The Guardian Angel always accompanies us as our principal witness. It is he who, at your particular judgement, will remember the kind deeds you performed for Our Lord throughout your life. Furthermore, when you feel lost, before the terrible accusations of the enemy, your Angel will present those intimate desires of your heart — which perhaps you yourself might have forgotten — those proofs of love which you might have had for God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.

That is why you must never forget your Guardian Angel, and that Prince of Heaven shall not abandon you now, or at that decisive moment.

Am looking for the other idea on the last judgement....

Today, the meditation is on that moment we stand before Christ, seeing all of our sins. We judge ourselves, seeing what we did and what we could have done.

I believe that the sins of omission are more common in Catholics.

One's examination of conscience could reveal all the things one could have done and did not do.

But, we must be repentant. There are many confused Catholics who really believe that everyone is going to heaven or purgatory.

Not so....and that will be the topic of the next few meditations in Advent on death.

“God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”. “This means, then, that the judgement is already in process, throughout our existence. This judgement is pronounced in every instant in our lives, as reflected in our acceptance in faith of salvation, present and through the work of Christ, or in our incredulity and our consequent self-centredness. Salvation means opening oneself to Jesus.

If we are sinners, the Lord forgives us, but we must open ourselves to Jesus’ love, which is greater than all things; and opening up means repenting”.

Time Man of the Year-Pope Francis

 God bless the Pope!

“Rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly – young and old, faithful and cynical – as Pope Francis,” explained Time managing editor Nancy Gibbs.

Pope Francis is the third Pope "Person of the Year", after John XXIII in 1962 and John Paul II in 1994 - via Vatican Radio

Dark Night And Analogies for A Special Reader

Deep is this warfare and this striving, for the peace which the soul hopes for will be very deep; and the spiritual pain is intimate and delicate, for the love which it will possess will likewise be very intimate and refined. The more intimate and the more perfect the finished work is to be and to remain, the more intimate, perfect and pure must be the labour; the firmer the edifice, the harder the labour. Wherefore, as Job says, the soul is fading within itself, and its vitals are being consumed without any hope.161 Similarly, because in the state of perfection toward which it journeys by means of this purgative night the soul will attain to the possession and fruition of innumerable blessings, of gifts and virtues, both according to the substance of the soul and likewise according to its faculties, it must needs see and feel itself withdrawn from them all and deprived of them all and be empty and poor without them; and it must needs believe itself to be so far from them that it cannot persuade itself that it will ever reach them, but rather it must be convinced that all its good things are over. The words of Jeremias have a similar meaning in that passage already quoted, where he says: ‘I have forgotten good things.’

I would like to refer to the Exodus story which is an analogy of the movement of the soul, including the Dark Night.

First, the Exodus, the actually leaving of Egypt, is like our initial conversion. We are freed from sin like the Hebrews were freed from slavery. The Passover Event could be compared to that defining moment of change, moving into grace through the sacraments, through the Church.

Second, Moses told the Pharaoh that the People of God had to go into the desert to Sinai to pray. This would be like our first moments of consolation, taking the spoils of Egypt on our way, into the unknown. But, following a leader, and being with others could be consolation, and the spoils of Egypt could be seen as those little consolations God gives us to encourage us when we first come to Him.

Third, we find ourselves in the desert, the Wilderness. Our first impetus is to complain and moan, asking God to remove suffering from our lives. But, this complaining reveals the depth of our sins, our tendencies towards sins, and our predominant faults. God has to get rid of all those imperfections. This is, indeed, the desert of the Dark Night.

Fourth, the long, forty years in the desert is like our Dark Night. We wander, without understanding, until we are purified. That new generation which finally goes into the Promised Land would be only our purified minds, hearts, souls. That entering would be the end of the Dark Night of the Senses and the Spirit, leading into the Illuminative State and finally, the Unitive State. This would be the Fifth Point here. 

I remind readers that one's Dark Night varies in length-for St. John of the Cross, perhaps nine months; for Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, fifty years.

Remember, our God is the God of the desert...a repost

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..............

to be continued...

Doctors of the Church 2:24

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Part 28, The Universal Doctor of the Church and Perfection

There is only one Universal Doctor of the Church and that is St. Thomas Aquinas, the last Dominican in the series, but not the least.

Among the volumes of his work, On the Perfection of the Spiritual Life will take up several posts to examine even in part.

Of course, the reason for this journey is the discovery of the Love of God and love of our neighbour. 

I cannot cover the entire book here, but only highlight some passages. I am starting with Chapter Five, as the title will explain the significance. I find both Albert and Aquinas easy to understand, but I shall break up the selections and make comments in red this time.

One may think on these rather simple sounding words, as these are profound. Ask yourself why this perfection is necessary for salvation.


The Perfection of Love of God That is Necessary to Salvation
In another way we love God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength, if nothing in us is lacking to divine love, if there is nothing which we do not, actually or habitually, refer to God. And a precept is given concerning this divine love.

First, man should refer all things to God as his end, as the Apostle says: "Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Cor 10:31). One fulfills this when one orders his life to God's service, and thus all the things that he does for himself, he virtually orders to God, unless they are things that lead away from God, such as sins: thus man loves God with his whole heart.

Again, we see the movement away from sin into order in one's life. This order is both within and without.
Discipline would be implied in this order. In this order, we place all we do under God's Will. The reference to eating and drinking is not facetious, but real. All the little things we do can be done in and with God.

The eating and drinking pertain to the body, and so the body comes to love God as well as the mind and the soul

Secondly, man should subject his intellect to God, believing those things that are divinely revealed, according to the Apostle: "taking understanding captivity, unto the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor 10:5). Thus man loves God with his whole mind.

This section reminds me of the old catechism answer. Our intellect is to be formed in God. I love the phrase, which indicated that understanding is under and leads to more obedience. This is part of the formation of our consciences, which must be conformed to the Teaching of the Church. It is in the Church that we know God's Will. Belief first, understanding second...........for most people.

Thirdly, all the things a man loves, he should love in God, and universally refer all his affection to the love of God; hence the Apostle says "whether we be transported in mind it is to God, or whether we be sober, it is for you; for the charity of Christ presses us" (2 Cor. v. 13). Thus man loves God with his whole soul.

We see the progression from body to mind and to soul. This is the movement we have seen in other writers as well. This is also the form of purgation. We are cleansed of our gross sins, then the mind is purified and finally, the soul.

We love with all three.

Fourthly, man should derive all his external works, words and deeds from divine love, according to the Apostle: "Let all your things be done in love" (1 Cor 16:14), and thus a man loves God with all his strength.

Here is the most misunderstood part of perfection, for unless we love, our actions are in vain.

This is, then, the third mode of perfect divine love, to which all are bound by the necessity of precept. But the second mode is not possible to anyone in this life, unless he is at the same time a wayfarer and an enjoyer of beatitude, as was our Lord Jesus Christ

So, this mode is what we all must do for salvation. And, this is possible with grace. 

"God made me to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him in this world and in the next."

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

Have we gone crazy in America?

 "sandwich-sensitivity philosophy"

Doctors of the Church 2:23

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Perfection and Albert continued in Part 27 of Doctors of the Church series

This may be the hard part for many who decide to come closer to Jesus. The pursuit of love must come without tangible devotion or the looking for consolation. I know many, many Catholics who have given up the search for perfection after hitting the long period of purgation which is marked by the lack of consolation.

But, the reason for this is simple-God wants us to love Him for Himself and not for the goodies He brings. Let us look at Albert on not seeking consolations.......

Chapter 10

That one should not be concerned about feeling tangible devotion so much as about cleaving to God with one’s will

Furthermore you should not be much concerned about tangible devotion, the experience of sweetness or tears, but rather that you should be mentally united with God within yourself by a good will in your intellect. 

That is clear!

For what pleases God above everything is a mind free from imaginations, that is images, ideas and the representations of created things. It befits a monk to be indifferent to everything created so that he can turn easily and barely to God alone within himself, be empty for him and cleave to him.

 For this reason deny yourself so that you can follow Christ, the Lord your God, in nakedness, who was himself poor, obedient, chaste, humble and suffering, and in whose life and death many were scandalised, as is clear from the Gospel accounts. After all, a soul which is separated from the body pays no attention to what is done to its abandoned body - whether it is burned, hanged, or reviled, and is in no way saddened by the afflictions imposed on the body, but thinks only of the Now of eternity and the One Thing which the Lord calls necessary in the Gospel. 

Albert knows from experience that God is the NOW. God is the All Present. And we should immerse ourselves into that Now, no matter what. We put the spiritual life first, above all things and seek our salvation and that of those around us, those to whom God has put in our care, first.

So you too should treat your body as if you were no longer in the body, but think always of the eternity of your soul in God, and direct your thoughts carefully to that One Thing of which Christ said, For one thing is necessary. (Luke 10.42) You will experience because of it great grace, helping you towards the acquisition of nakedness of mind and simplicity of heart. Indeed this One Thing is very much present with you if you have made yourself bare of imaginations and all other entanglements, and you will soon experience that this is so - namely when you can be empty and cleave to God with a naked and resolute mind. In this way you will remain unconquered in whatever may be inflicted on you, like the holy martyrs, fathers, the elect, and indeed all the saints who despised everything and only thought of their souls’ security and eternity in God. 

Note that we are then like the martyrs, as I mentioned before, going to God with nothing but our love and wills. The denial of self brings us to this sublime place of loving God before our own bodies. 

Armed in this way within, and united to God through a good will, they spurned everything of the world as if their souls were already separated from their bodies. Consider from this how much a good will united with God is capable of, when by means of its pressing towards God the soul is effectively separated from the body in spirit and looks on its outward man as it were from a distance, and as not belonging to it. In this way it despises everything that is inflicted on itself or on its flesh as if they were happening to someone else, or not to a human being at all. 

Can you imagine loving someone and not putting them first? Can you imagine holding back in love? Can you imagine not wanting with your whole heart, and mind, and soul, not wanting to be with the Beloved? I cannot.

For He that is united with the Lord is one Spirit, (1 Corinthians 6.17) that is with him. So you should never dare to think or imagine anything before the Lord your God that you would blush to be heard or seen in before men, since your respect for God should be even greater than for them. It is a matter of justice in fact that all your thoughts and thinking should be raised to God alone, and the highest point of your mind should only be directed to him as if nothing existed but him, and holding to him may enjoy the perfect beginning of the life to come.

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

More Links on The Dark Night Series

There are more than 250 posts now on the Dark Night. This list goes back to the last of the first 50. I am taking a break......and will put more on later...I may find that this series, an appendage to the Perfection Series, is more than 300.

OK more links later

I shall put more links on the Dark Night Series on this blog later today.....I am discovering there are WAY more than I remember writing....

Advent and Death Meditations Part 8

The great St. Thomas More said that he was grateful to have many months in prison in which to prepare for death. How would I prepare for death if I was given a death sentence, such as cancer, or a premonition from God?

The saints were not afraid to prepare for death.

Again, St. Alphonsus helps us in these thoughts. But, I know some elderly people in my parish who do not want to think about death. I am concerned as to why. Can we not repent today and become holy while still here?

Again, it is the busyness which we create, and the complications we prefer in our lives which keep us from facing death.

It is scary, of course. It is hard, naturally, as we were not created originally to die but to live forever.
So, we naturally fear death. But, this fear must be faced in order for each one of us to be ready.

Here are two other posts on this point.

and more from St. Alphonsus....

1. Be ready : for at what hour you think not, the Son 
of man will come.1 The time of death will not be the time 
to prepare ourselves to die well; to die well and happily, 
we must prepare ourselves beforehand. There will not 
be time then to eradicate bad habits from the soul, to ex- 
pel from the heart its predominant passions, and to ex- 
tinguish all affection to earthly goods. The night comes 
when no man can work.2 All in death will be night, when 
nothing will be seen; and, from here, nothing done. The 
heart hardened, the mind obscured, confusion, fear, the 
desire of health, will all render it almost impossible at 
the hour of death to set in order a conscience confused 
and entangled in sin. 
Sacred wounds of my Redeemer! I adore you, I 
humbly kiss you, and I confide in you. 
2. The saints Thought they did but little, though they 
spent their whole lives in preparing for death, by acts of 
1 "Estote parati, quia, qua hora non putatis, Filius hominis veniet." 
Lk. 12. 40. 

2 "Venit nox, quando nemo potest operari." John 9. 4. 
[36] penance, prayer, and the practice of good works; and 
they trembled when they came to die. The venerable 
John Avila, although he had led a very holy life from his 
youth, when it was announced to him that he was about 
to die, made answer and said, "Oh that I may have a little 
more time to prepare myself for death!" And what 
shall we say when the summons of death shall be brought 
to us? 
No, my God, I do not wish to die troubled and un- 
grateful, as at present I should die, if death were to over 
take me; I desire to change my life, I desire to bewail 
my offences against You, I desire to love You with my 
whole heart. O Lord! help me, enable me to do some 
thing for You before I die, for You who have died for 
the love of me. 
3. The time is short1 says the Apostle. Yes, we have but a 
short time in which to set our accounts in order. 
Hence the Holy Spirit admonishes us, Whatever your 
hand is able to do, do it quickly.2 Whatever you are able 
to do today, do not put off till tomorrow; for today 
is passing away, and tomorrow may bring death, 
which will deprive you of all means of doing good, or 
of amending what you have done badly. Woe to me 
if death should find me still attached to this world! 
Ah, my God, how many years have I lived at a distance 
from You! And how have You had so much patience 
with me, in waiting for me and in calling me so often to 
repentance! I thank You, O my Redeemer! for Your 
long forbearance, and I hope to thank You for it for- 
ever in heaven. The mercies o the Lord I will sing for- 
ever.3 Until now I have not loved You, and have made 
little account of being or not being loved by You, but now 
1 "Tempus breve est." 1 Cor. 7. 29. 
2 "Quodcumque facere potest manus tua, instanter operare." 
Eccles. 9. 10. 

3 "Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo." Ps. 88. 2. 
[37] I do love You with my whole heart; I love You above 
all things, more than I love myself, and I desire nothing 
so much as to be loved by You; and, recollecting how I 
have despised Your love, I would willingly die of grief 
for having done so. Jesus, grant me perseverance in 
virtue. Mary, my holy mother, obtain for me the hap- 
piness of being faithful to God.

Dark Night Posts Resuming

Well, it seems I cannot move away from this subject. And, I have amazed myself at all the Dark Night postings. I shall put SOME of the links in this post at the end.

Someone asked me if the Dark Night was marked by a feeling of spiritual emptiness.

Yes, yes, yes.

But, why?

St. John of the Cross gives us several reasons and I shall try and share a few points. Some of this is repetition.

Firstly, we are creatures who rely too much on our senses, even with regard to spiritual things. We crave consolations, and the stroking of our feelings and imaginations in prayer.  Without this purgation of the senses, the first part of the Dark Night, we shall not meet God as He really is.

We need to be separated from habits of self and relying on the senses. This means that God calls us into the desert, and a desert has few colors, few delights.

St. John writes this:

IT now remains to be said that, although this happy night brings darkness to the spirit, it does so only to give it light in everything; and that, although it humbles it and makes it miserable, it does so only to exalt it and to raise it up; and, although it impoverishes it and empties it of all natural affection and attachment, it does so only that it may enable it to stretch forward, divinely, and thus to have fruition and experience of all things, both above and below, yet to preserve its unrestricted liberty of spirit in them all. For just as the elements, in order that they may have a part in all natural entities and compounds, must have no particular colour, odour or taste, so as to be able to combine with all tastes odours and colours, just so must the spirit be simple, pure and detached from all kinds of natural affection, whether actual or habitual, to the end that it may be able freely to share in the breadth of spirit of the Divine Wisdom, wherein, through its purity, it has experience of all the sweetness of all things in a certain pre-eminently excellent way.144And without this purgation it will be wholly unable to feel or experience the satisfaction of all this abundance of spiritual sweetness. For one single affection remaining in the spirit, or one particular thing to which, actually or habitually, it clings, suffices to hinder it from feeling or experiencing or communicating the delicacy and intimate sweetness of the spirit of love, which contains within itself all sweetness to a most eminent degree.145

Remember the flesh pots of Egypt about which I have written here? These fleshpots, which were the memories of good food and comforts even under slavery, kept interfering with the minds and heart of the Israelites.

They were remembering sensual pleasures and comfort in the midst of the long walk around Sinai. This may seem normal to us, but remember also, that we cannot approach God with our imaginations and selves full of the ego and full of memory.

 The reason for this is that the affections, feelings and apprehensions of the perfect spirit, being Divine, are of another kind and of a very different order from those that are natural. They are pre-eminent, so that, in order both actually and habitually to possess the one, it is needful to expel and annihilate the other, as with two contrary things, which cannot exist together in one person. Therefore it is most fitting and necessary, if the soul is to pass to these great things, that this dark night of contemplation should first of all annihilate and undo it in its meannesses, bringing it into darkness, aridity, affliction and emptiness; for the light which is to be given to it is a Divine light of the highest kind, which transcends all natural light, and which by nature can find no place in the understanding.

Note that the Dark Night undoes sensual and spiritual bad habits, concupiscence and finally, even venial sin. 
The darkness, aridity, affliction and emptiness are all to be expected in the Dark Night.

Without this preparation, we are simply not holy enough to see God as He really is and to appreciate the opening up of the life of virtues which He wants to do in us.

To be continued...and more Dark Night posts.

And, there are more....