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Wednesday 1 January 2014

Sanctity and Schedules

Now, a disclaimer. As an INTJ, I am scheduled. I get up at the same time everyday and I have regular habits of eating, praying, writing.

I do most of my work in the morning.

When I was in Ireland, living alone for months and months, I could pray four to six hours a day, as I was living in silence and solitude.

I love this.

But, even though it was just me, I was scheduled.

Daily Mass same time, prayers, writing, etc. only interrupted by parties at night in the flats next door, or personal illness.

Same in Malta, even though for most of the time I was sharing a flat with one other person. Daily morning Mass, prayers, breakfast, and so on....Dinner was always about the same time as well.

Recently, living with other people without schedules, people who are not INTJs but ESFPs or variations of unscheduled types, I am observing something which the ancient fathers understood. One good thing about living in community is that those who naturally gravitate towards schedules can help those who do not.

Those who are more easy-going can help with the obsession some may have with schedules.

It is much harder for those without schedules to become holy. Going from one activity to another as these present themselves to the mind does not allow for prayer or reflection. Merely reacting to things rather than planning or reacting to situations on impulse are methods of living which impair the way of holiness.

Holiness demands scheduling.


Prayers, the reading of Scripture, the reading of holy books, daily Mass, or Adoration demand planning.

Those who have never had schedules, or who have avoided scheduling do not plan formation into their days.

Every semester when I was teaching college, the first thing I did was introduce my students to Time Management Skills.

I would, in some extreme cases, find up to 40 wasted hours in one week of 168 hours. I would mostly find between 17-27 wasted hours, enough time for my students to really study. They all had too much "down time" or just wasted time.

Waste is a sin.

Wasting time can create a habit of avoiding God and holiness.

Wasting time can lead one to hell.

A few days ago, I was speaking with a person who use to read the Scriptures daily for at least a half-hour.

He no longer does this. He is "too busy", "too tired".

He works, and he works hard, but his home life is not scheduled and never has been. He goes out a lot.

I see many, many elderly people out and about here-and they have lively social lives. There is nothing wrong with that, but one must face preparation for death.

Sanctity must be a cooperation between work and grace. Without a schedule, it is hard, perhaps impossible to find out who one is and who God is.


Are Saints Difficult People Two

As a continuation of another post by this title, this small meditation allows for more insight into the nature of saintliness.

Too often, people want their saints to be quiet, demure, kind all the time, obliging, simple, like the stereotype of a 19th century woman.

On this blog, I have highlighted the great female and male Doctors of the Church. Almost to a man and to a woman, this saints were outspoken, tough, criticizers of the culture and correctors of sin.

Few were quiet. Few were silent. All exhibited heroic virtue and courage. Teresa of Avila, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Lawrence of Brindisi are some known for strong characters. I shall continue to review the Doctors of the Church series when I have time by re-posting these. But, many posts may be found on the labels and through the tags which show the outspoken heroes of the entire 2000 plus year history of the Church.

Why do we want out saints to be those who never cause waves? Why do we always point to the long-suffering person, who never stands in front of an abortion clinic with a sign or rosary? Yes, that person who is quiet and demure can be a saint, but so can others who are louder, more obvious. Why do we want saints who never stand in the market place and proclaim the Truth? Why do we want namby-pamby saints?

In the Age of the Martyrs, no one can be namby-pamby.

One thing stands in the way of holiness in the public square; pride, and the connected sin, vainglory.

We want to be liked; we want the approval of the pagans, including members of our families.

It is because we do not accept personal correction, either. It is because of the sin of Pride.

Pride causes people not to want to hear themselves contradicted or corrected. Pride causes people not to want to enter into conflict, or bring up contentious subjects, like contraception or abortion or same-sex marriage. I know people who refuse any type of input or correction, even about trivial things. They just do not want to be told anything.

The saints of the past would not be quiet in 2014.

St. Pio of Pietrelcina, a saint from his youth, was known for his outspokenness.

Years ago, I met someone who knew him personally, a good friend of his. She talked about him. She has passed on, now.

He would not hear confessions of women wearing trousers. He was making a point that women should be dressed in a feminine manner. He is still criticized for this view and for his comments.

St. Pio could "read souls".

And, one day, a woman dressed very well, came to him for confession. As she entered the room, St. Pio left the confessional box, and yelled across the room to her, in this room full of people. "I am not hearing your confession until you repent. Your son is in hell because of you. Go away and repent!" (paraphrased)

Those in the room were shocked, but St. Pio had one thing in mind-the salvation of this soul.

Are we too afraid to save souls? Are we too polite to say to family members or friends that the serious sins of homosexual activity, or adultery, or contraception may bring them to perdition?

Only a saint who has faced the great sins in his or her life can do this, of course. But, we must be "difficult" sometimes.

Souls are at stake. People do go to hell for all eternity. I would not want to be standing before Christ at my particular judgement and hear that I did not love my brothers and sisters enough to tell them the Truth.

I want to be a saint.

If you want to comment on this, go to Fr. Z.

Setting Sun Heart

A night-walker, a edge-stroller, this lady
walks in black, in violent-laced movements,

smooth, deliberate, in a quiet nonchalance,
not from haute couture, but from a boyish

carelessness, like the Peruvian nun in
the garden of England, whose joy covered

thread-bare sleeves. In the cold black of
midnight, this lady waits and waits for the

realization of the growing life within her,
a spiritual time of pregnant fatigue, not

knowing when the birth will occur, but
knowing new life will come. Such is her

faith cradled in the storms of uncertainty
and pain. Her long way destroys her own

rest, as part of her trial, like Psyche, is
to walk and to walk, gathering wool, after

letting the ants help her sort out wheat, peas.
barley, oats and miscellaneous grains.

Dark is the waters she must collect, but
again, animals subject to the gods come,

great eagles of Zeus, hard-eyes on the
dragons of the deep, strong golden talons

grabbing the jar from the frightened one,
who is now getting the point that she

cannot do anything alone. Taking coins
and cakes to Hades, this lady ignores the

death and signs of sadness surrounding her
mind--one flaw mars her desert trip-the

opening of the small, gilded chest of fantasy,
makes her fall asleep, only to be awakened

by Love. But, this is in the future, not the
now, the now of burnt feet and dire thirst.

This lady sees the golden city in the wavering
far distance, almost like Kuwait City in the

glistening light, so she does not mind this path
choosing it, as she knows Love is waiting

somewhere at the far side of the red sands.
Her heart, like the setting sun, illumines only part

of the road, the past, not the future, in faded light
beckons,but she turns away to the present task,

as memory dies for this edge-stroller, this night-walker,
this woman defined by desert days.

Pine Thoughts

In the night, frosted pines reach up into the darkness
slightly moving in the wind, under the weight of snow.

Behind this small forest, Axamer Lizum hides, caught
in the winter silence, waiting for the edelweiss days.

Walking down a steep hill, one wonders at those
who, more elderly, must use canes or stop, and stare

at the tall trees, thinking of younger days, but not
wanting to traverse the past, like the mountain

paths, old, worn, fading into a darkness, no
longer easily remembered in conversation.

Only once, between coffee and slices of gugelhofp,
the man's bright half-smile frames a memory of love

which he cannot understand, but keeps in a small
corner of his mind, like a slightly soiled receipt for

cigars and matches. Turning back to conversation,
he pushes a memory back, the pesky live fly.

He, wondering why he is thinking of the rain-swept
night of prepared speeches and farewells so far away.

He knows he was dishonest, but not wanting the
pain of change, or the challenge of love, his soul

remains caught in the mystery of the black sky 
of the Tirol. Tomorrow, he will sit by the fire again,

smoking, trying not to reflect on that day so long 
ago when he shut the door, like the large wooden

ones of  Pfarrkirche, St. Veit an der Glan.
Ornate metals of intricate design hold back the 

gnawing doubts which try to define the meaning
of love and suffering. He gives up the search, again,

walks outside into the blackness and seeks the stars
which are not seen-Orion, Strider, refuses to comfort 

his naval eyes. Choosing sadness has become a habit
which wraps his heart against the reality of the cold.

New Year Thoughts

My thoughts turn today to T. S. Eliot's The Four Quartets. 

Today, at the turning of the thoughts are with Eliot. Here are a few sections from his masterpiece. The poet perfectly describes the Dark Night of the Soul

You say I am repeating
Something I have said before. I shall say it again.
Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
       You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstacy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
       You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
       You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
       You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
the world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together)
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph. And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea's throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.
We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them.
The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree
Are of equal duration. A people without history
Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails
On a winter's afternoon, in a secluded chapel
History is now and England.

With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

Big Post Day

Read, think, reflect, pray, act....

A motto of this blog....

Happy 2014!

Biblical Colours

Father Ripperger on Brain Death

Some notes from the talk.....

We cannot accept organs if a person has been kept on life-support. That person is still alive when the organs were harvested. One cannot kill a person for organs.

And, here is clarity on brain death.

If you listen, you must say a decade of the rosary for him.

The soul is the form of the body. There is no physical organ which is the principal of unity in the body. The soul is the integrating principal of unity in the body. The soul causes growth.

The Pius XII quotation is really important. Listen and re-listen.

When there is doubt of fact, you do not act.  This is a rule of the Church.

If there is a doubt of fact, you are not allowed to act.

In doubt of law, we know what the law is, as God's Law states no murder.

We also know we cannot take someone's life, which is murder.

Death occurs when the soul leaves the body.

As to how medical knowledge becomes concrete and can become the rule for action, is the question of morality.

As long as all five faculties are functioning, the person is still alive. If one faculty is working, the person is still alive. The brain is only one faculty.

If the brain dies, most likely all the rest of the organs will stop functioning soon.

It does not matter what organ shuts down, the person is still alive.

The principal of unity....the soul is the rule for life not the body.

We kill people, we murder people in America and Europe daily.

As long as other faculties are working, but the brain is not, the person is still alive.

There is no such thing as "brain death" alone.

Brain death is not death....but what is to be taken under consideration would be the necessity of extraordinary means.

One has to have moral certitude.

One cannot be morally certain of anyone on life support is dead.

Catholics, pay attention.

If the person is alive, on life support, one cannot harvest the organs.


Do not murder your parents, your aunts, your uncles, your children.

The unitive principal is the soul, not the brain. The soul as the form of the body is in the entire body.

The soul keeps the body alive and the doctors help the vital functions. The person is alive.

When all five faculties stop, the person is dead. In the past, the Church said a person could be anointed up to two hours after "death", because the soul might still be there.

The Church has guidelines as to when a person can be embalmed, btw.

Blessed John Paul II said the person has to be certainly dead before organ transplant.

Rigor mortis is a clear sign of death.

Review the five faculties which are controlled by the soul. And, if all or one is working, the person is still alive.

"Sleepers" are not dead. People actively think while they are in comas.

Here is a comment from one of the commentators which is excellent. She is a leader.:

Anita Moore said...
The Church allows organ donation, but not when it brings about the death or disabling mutilation of the donor. The Church's teaching, coupled with the current state of medical science, rules out the donation of unpaired vital organs. Harvesting a heart or an entire liver that is good for transplanting brings about the death of the donor. It does not matter that the donor is probably going to die shortly anyway: it is not morally admissible to shorten one life in order to prolong another. If we could come up with a way to maintain the viability of unpaired vital organs after death, then it would be morally admissible to harvest them. Until then, it's not.

Remember that death is defined as the moment when the soul leaves the body. The fact that the brain has shut down does not mean the soul has left the body. To hold that the cessation of brain function, without regard to the presence of the soul, constitutes death, is an error