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Thursday 30 January 2014

Prayers, Please

For The Catholics Who Voted for This Man......

Community theme continued today

Not everyone is called to community, or at least, to the core groups. Some people need to be around communities which are strong and large enough to take in those who cannot for some reason make the big commitment. Some people are called to live orbital lives around communities.

God calls people to community, but in these times of the remnant, more people will need base communities in order to survive and pass on the Faith.

Some are called to support communities and be connected in some ways, such as those who are called to prayer and non-canonical "hermitages".  Even in the 1970s, a movement of people who lived celibate, hermit-like lives began in the cities, people who decided that they could work and be in the world, but not of the world. Some created small "cenacles". Many were single.

Those who are strong enough to start communities can make allowances for such independent types, who want some involvement, but not total.

But, here is the key to communities. Living close to each other. By definition, even an urban community, must be built around proximity to each other. I would add that community members absolutely should try and live as close to each other as a walk.

The two communities wherein I was involved from age 23 to age 30 plus, were communities wherein people actually sold their houses when houses came up for sale next to another community house and people created "pods". These neighborhood pods formed the real basis for daily and regular contact. The communities divided the people up in groups of 100, as in the Old Testament, and then these groups came together weekly, like on a Thursday night, and three times a week with a larger "podding". Once a month, the entire community would meet-2,000 strong.

All of us had ministries and almost all had outside jobs to support the houses and those who worked primarily in the community directly. When I was in community, I was involved in five different ministries.

These were lay ministries, including street evangelization or outreach, as well as inter-community ministries, such as child-catechesis.

We were also involved in same-sex rescue, which is now, I think, illegal in some states.

The energy for the ministries came from private prayer and group prayer, discernment and a solid life in Christ. And, yes, the model was both monastic and early church models.

One other point. All these communities were patriarchies. This is a basic truth of community life, that the men have to be the leaders. There were some women leaders, but the basis was the age-old model of the Church-patriarchy.

No feminists were in these communities. No women priests wannabees were in these communities.

I left for three reasons. I was no longer called to be in the lay community. I wanted to go back to more traditional Catholic worship (TLM eventually, of course), and I am an intellectual. Too many communities fell into an anti-intellectualism, which can be the bane of communal life.  I think Catholics have moved on and would not longer fall into that problem in 2014. I would hope so. The Church is more orthodox and more intellectual than it has been for years. Thank God for grace in these hard times.

I would say that a new ideal for the Catholic community today would be self-sufficiency. I had looked into off-grid housing years ago. These type of plans are legal in some places and illegal in others. But, any community starting up now must discuss the coming hard times. We have had plenty of warning.

More, more on community-on orders and the laity

Long ago, villages, towns and cities grew up around famous monasteries. Many events and projects conspire to make this happen. Monasteries raised sheep and needed shepherds, wool gatherers, wool carders, sellers, and so on. Monasteries raised grapes and needed help making wine, or cordials, or brandy. Lay people flocked to those areas for jobs, for protection, for Mass and for the schools their children could attend.

Entire communities rose up around monasteries.

This could happen again, in areas where the abbots have jobs. But, the problem is that Catholics no longer want to live where there are abbeys or monasteries. They do not want to sacrifice, or look into the possibilities for communities.

But, more than that, few abbots see the need, few understand the signs of the times. There are some, but few.

It is sad that the very leaders who could be helping the laity form base communities have either sold out to the secular world-view or have made idols of their own communities so as not to reach out any longer. Compromise in doctrinal matters can also be a problem. Few monasteries, for example, support the Latin Mass, which could draw people together.

Some religious orders are too wealthy, too complacent to need the laity or even think of expanding the ideal of community.

The other problem are new orders. Frankly, I would not be involved in orders with only diocesan approval , or those which have not yet received Pontifical approval. Why?

The Vatican approves orders which have sound formation and are not merely a group following a leader in some type of "cult of personality". Time and experience provide us with prudential judgement regarding orders. Some orders flare up and only last a short time. This is not good for the laity, if the laity are trying to set up a community.

We all know examples of failed or suppressed orders. The laity suffers under these difficult situations. The tried and true orders can be the best for new communities of the laity to join.

I believe the age of the oblate is over. I think some third orders are excellent, but sadly, too many chapters of oblates and third orders have been hijacked by feminists, heretics, and liturgical liberals. One cannot grow except in opposition to some of these groups. Years ago, I was asked to join a Carmelite third order in an area of America. When I began to talk with the women in the group, I discovered that many believed in women priests, contraception, and took part in dubious ministries involving new age stuff, like maze prayer and centering prayer.

How sad that such groups have fallen away from orthodoxy. One cannot become holy without the basis of orthodoxy.

The problem is that too many of the orders have fallen away into error. Some of the new excellent orders, such as the FSSPs, now have attached groups for the laity.

How these may evolve into real base communities remains to be seen.

If anyone has an orthodox, good community experience, not Charismatic, to share in comments, please do.

I am interested, as are others reading this blog. Do the nuns and brothers at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery have a lay community, for example?

Community posts again

When I was in community, it took me a long time as a young person to sort out a simple, simple thing.

The culture of an area, or the culture of a community cannot determine the community.

What do I mean? The community I originally belonged to was mostly Latino. This is a culture which can be part of a community, but cannot form the community. Then, I moved into a Scandinavian cultural community. Again, Christianity transcends culture and should.

No persons in a community can insist on cultural lifestyles if the community members are not from the same culture. The transcendent culture would be a Catholic culture.

For example, the Bruderhof is a culture, as well as a community. That there is great good coming out of the Bruderhoff movement does not mean that that culture is superior to other cultures. One does not have to sing like those in the Bruderhoff to get to heaven. One does not have to dress like those in the Bruderhoff to have a community.

Some communities do gravitate to a cultural definition simply because most of the members are from that background. But, this can be dangerous for those coming in to understand, and to agree to, if that culture is not necessary.

The original Catholic communities were urban, not agricultural. We must remember this. The early Church communities were in Antioch, Ephesus, Smyrna, Rome. All the worship was in the large churches, in the basilicas. The communities had to go into the country only after the Fall of the Roman Empire. In fact, High Masses came first, then Low Masses, which may surprise some people.

If someone is not comfortable with the culture of a community, that is, simply, not their community. God does not pick us up and place us in impossible cultural experiences, unless we are missionaries.

To insist on an Easterner from New York understanding and living a Midwest lifestyle can be a sign of the lack of love, and the lack of spiritual foundation of a community.

Some of us fit into certain cultures better than others. This is part of who we are. Again, some religious are Benedictines, some Dominicans, some Franciscans, and these groups all have their own culture.

Part of the call to community is not merely creating a sign of contradiction in the world, nor merely being anti-secular, but being something unified. This is why a philosophy, a rule, a way of life must be truly shared and not imposed. 

Having said all of the above, certain "cultural" norms can and even should be part of the community. For example, I would imagine that a community built around a TLM would see women in mantillas or hats, and men dressed up, not in jeans at Mass and so on.

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

More on community building

Someone asked me today to write more about community.

Please follow the tags. There are many posts on this subject. But, here are some helpful hints.

And, some are from St. Benedict and St. Bernard's ideas.

I shall list them as points.

1) The core group must be under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church. If possible, a priest from the diocese should be involved with the permission of the Bishop.

2) The core group must be orthodox Catholics, not embracing any heresy or any deviations from Church teaching. This would include the priest.

3) Those in the core group could not be those in irregular marriages or not practicing Catholics. The reason for this is that the leaders must be pursuing holiness and cannot be in mortal sin.

4) There has to be a shared common philosophy or rule, and a shared common goal. Not all communities have the same ministry, for example. Just as religious orders have a charism to teach or preach or to pray in intercession, there should be a clear sharing of the charism. For example, some communities made be called to do street ministry, or publishing, or pro-life work.

5) All members at first should be practicing Catholics, in good standing with the Catholic Church, again, for stability and growth. The strong lead the weak and the weaker ones with problems which are serious can be ministered to by those who have the maturity and ability to reach out to them. For example, single moms would need help, and the elderly who are alone.

6) A "personal relationship" with Christ and His Mother is essential to the leaders, and to those who are building community. The community is not about the people but Christ.

7) Time and commitment must be a priority. Those who cannot or do not want to make the community a priority are not yet ready or simply not called to it. There is no value judgement here, as some are called and some are not. But, people should be seeing each other on a regular basis, such as in each other's houses for meals, and weekly meetings, or meetings twice a week, including prayer.

8) No wives without husbands and no husbands without wives involved can be involved. The marriage takes precedence over community However, parents have a right to bring along their children and if there is not order in the family to do this, the family should not be part of the core group

9) Singles can and should be part of the core group only if they have a spiritual director and only if their own lives are in order, which means they are living in sanctifying grace.

10) The community is not the goal but Christ is. Once the community becomes the idol, the call to serve and to be Christ in the world gets lost. Some religious communities have lost "their First Love", Christ, by making community the idol. I have seen this happen.

11) Time, finances and worldly goods must be shared to the extent that people want to share them, but all should share according to need, without making those who are poor identured slaves. The early communities did not have interior "class structures."

12) Levels of involvement are good to outline from the start, such as those who want total community, those who only want part, and those who want to be connected but in a lesser manner. These levels can be determined by the community, but at some point, there should be either a movement to more involvement or movement out of the community.

This was my personal experience of being in a lay community for seven years and then when I was asked to make a permanent commitment, I discerned that God wanted me elsewhere.

13) Some people will be permanently celibate to serve and work in their jobs and in the community. This is a good

14) All share in some work according to call and ability, but no one should be "above" setting up for meetings or making food. A "servant school" to learn how to serve each other is a possibility. We had this in my community and it was great fun as well as a good lesson in service.

15) Respect for those who are older, more spiritually mature and advanced into different types of ministry must be shown. For example, some widows or single women or men could be called to almost  full-time prayer for the sake of the ministries.

16) Communities are not just for extroverts. And, sensitivity to personality types means that no one should be forced into the same molds of behavior or needs.

17) Daily communal prayer is essential, even if just the rosary.

18) Daily personal study of the Scriptures, Catholic reading, and personal prayer time, must be made available for all involved, including moms.

19) Perfect honesty must be maintained and all manipulation absolutely forbidden. A "cult of personality" reveals a sick community.

20) Communities must not allow cliques. Period.

21) There should be no "obedience" issues, as this is what causes a community to become a cult. Some people could be in obedience to their spiritual directors, if this is their relationship. Wives, of course, in the Catholic Church, are under obedience to their husbands. But, no one else should be in a lay community. Obedience is the sign of a religious order.

To be continued............more later

A Reminder....Are You The Salt of The Earth?

Our chronicles relate an even more dreadful happening. One of our brothers, well-known for his doctrine and holiness, was preaching in Germany. He represented the ugliness of the sin of impurity so forceful that a woman fell dead of sorrow in front of everyone. Then, coming back to life, she said, "When I was presented before the Tribunal of God, sixty thousand people arrived at the same time from all parts of the world; out of that number, three were saved by going to Purgatory, and all the rest were damned.
St. Leonard of Port Maurice

Hmm synchronicity-as Voris refers to salt today, which I saw after I wrote this.................................

Perfection Series II:xi

On the Lunge Line

Virtue is an extension of the interior life of the spirit. Narcissism is a result of many things, including a lack of discipline, as well as an inherited disorder. Narcissism can be taught. Some of the  children of today believe that the world revolves around them and that their parents are there to meet their needs. This narcissism has been created by the lack of parental authority in families Many parents praise their children without the children earning the praise. This is the irony of the over-use of the self-esteem. Like a horse on a lunge line, one needs to break the will, but not the spirit. The life of the virtue cannot be taught until the will is under an authority. The life of virtue follows the breaking away of a life of the habit of sin. Habitual sin must be broken before a child can develop the virtues. But, an emphasis on the virtues is necessary and the earlier a child learns kindness, humility, charity, honesty and the other virtues the better.

Habits learned early create a happier adolescent time. Children need to learn and love boundaries. Boundaries and virtues go together. The so-called modern idea that children can express anger or hatred without compunction creates a child without boundaries. How far have we moved away from natural law and the common sense rearing of children is too sadly seen in deviant behavior. The popular anarchist movement, in my mind, is connected to this lack of boundaries and lack of virtue. We only have ourselves to blame as parents if there is now one or two generations of children who have and are being raised without virtues. If the parent is not honest with himself or herself with regard to sin and perfection, the children will follow in the sad footsteps of those who do not understand the interior life. The interior life can only be won with discipline and dying to self. Such a journey must be part of child-raising by parents who have gone before them in mercy and justice.

Perfection Series II:x

Perfection The Teresas

Continuing the series on perfection, I have switched temporarily from Garrigou-Lagrange to the Interior Castle of St. Teresa of Avila. In this book, St. Teresa refers to the enlargement of the heart. Quoting Prime, Teresa writes, “Cum dilatasti cor meum. When thou shalt englarge my heart”, from Psalm 119. She notes that it is not in consolations, or the “spiritual sweetness” that the heart if made larger, more capable of Love. She is writing about the characteristics of the Fourth Mansion, a state commonly attained by serious Catholics. This is the stage of pursuing one's heart's desire, not through thinking, but through loving. Teresa writes a curious sentence: “So then do whatever most en-flames your heart to love.” Those who have reflected and learned some ways of meditative prayer, and even contemplation may find this an odd statement. Teresa is encouraging the enlargement of the heart through and in Love, the pursuit of Love. She is very keen to point out that most people might not even know what Love is, and I capitalize Love, as to me, it is a Person and not a feeling. Teresa states that joy does not start in the heart, but in the will, in the desire to please God and not to offend Him. Like a good bride who defers to her husband, Teresa knows that Love is in the Will, and not in some pursuit of feelings or consolations. That the will is connected to the dilation or enlargement of the heart is a mysterious movement of the Holy Spirit, bringing the person to an awareness that the life of God springs up spontaneously, not through effort, but through Love.

And, what is it that attracts Love to the heart through the will? Humility. Teresa makes it very clear that only the humble come to this well of interior life springing up and nourishing the soul. Only those who Love Love without self-interest, without expectation, experience humility. It is as if one must see one's self as the only person on the street, in a shop, going up the stairs in a flat, loving God just for the sake of loving Him and for no other reason.

Sometimes, I play a little game of Love. When I am in a small, ordinary place, like walking to the shops, or sitting on the bus, I think, “God, there is one small person in …..who is loving You.”
For awhile, I lived on top of a high set of flats, with no elevator. I had to walk up many flights of stairs, and if I had bags of groceries, it was hard. I would stop at the top of each flight and say, “Jesus, there is one person climbing the stairs, in …..who is loving You. There is one person at 2:00 in the afternoon, who is thinking only of You.” Joy flows from these little acts of the Will, the joy which Teresa states comes not from the heart, but from the depths of one's being.

Little things lead to Love and if one is humble and realizes that one only has little things to offer, joy follows. Humility, taking the small and offering to God, is also the Little Way of St. Theresa, the Little Flower, and here, the two Teresas overlap. The third step in this way of Love is to desire suffering. This separates us from the pagans, who at all costs, want to avoid suffering. If one truly loves someone, does not one want to share in the suffering of that person in order to relieve the loneliness and isolation, which suffering causes? The Little Flower wrote of the “unfelt joy”. This is the joy which does not console. It is a type of infused knowledge that one is suffering in and with Christ, without the consolations. Again, this wells up from an interior life of grace, freely given, but available to all, not some.

The last point in these steps to real enlargement of the heart is detachment, totally, from all things and all people and even, all places. Teresa writes that self-denial must be real. It cannot be a pretence. We must even be willing not to receive grace, if that is God's desire. To be holy only in so far as He has decided that for us. We need to be completely detached even from holiness.

There is a freedom given in all of this, which allows one to have a sense of salvation, through the mercy of God, not through deeds. Such freedom leads one to be bold in God, to evangelize just by being, to recollect immediately, to have discernment and to give peace to others in mysterious ways. So, is the heart enlarged to love all, but mostly to Love Love.

If one is in grace, one can trust the movements of the Holy Spirit. Going to Mass and Confession regularly increases personal discernment. When Teresa writes, “So then do whatever most en-flames your heart to love,” she is encouraging us to follow our heart, minds, and wills to follow the vocation, the way God has chosen for us. Garrigou-Lagrange believes this call to holiness and intense intimacy with God is for all Catholics. In following one's way, in humility and peace, God works His Will in each person to lead one to perfection. This is a real possibility. The Gospel challenge from Christ Himself, “Be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect” is for all of us. To be continued.

Perfection Series II:ix

Perfection Children, Grace and Parental Duty

The great Spencer has a chilling video on his site on children. The entire episode reminded me of the Jesuit saying, "Give us a child in education before the age of five, and he is a Catholic for life." Or, paraphrases thereof.

Two concepts totally ignored in the liberal Catholic Church follow: firstly, the age of reason is still age seven in the formation of conscience. This indicates that a child by that age knows, by natural law, right from wrong. Of course, if the child has had good catechesis and good parenting, that child will have the advantage of grace building on nature-that is, the life-changing gifts of Baptism imprinted on the soul, aiding nature to move towards perfection. The subject of Baptism is found below in more than one posting, but we become children of God, heirs to heaven, freed from Original Sin, and given sanctifying grace, which means, the Indwelling of the Trinity.

If a child, who as a human has a proclivity towards natural law, then a child can choose sin and hatred over obedience and love.

This leads to a second teaching, which is that, sadly, children can go to Purgatory, and even Hell.
The liberals in the Church deny this idea, creating a false feeling of safety for bad parents, who have not catechized their own children. I know many. Excuses rain down like showers in Ireland--daily excuses from parents who hold these ideas, which are all wrong and even, damning, for themselves and their children. "We are letting her choose whether she wants to be a Christian when she gets older." She may die tomorrow. "He is too young to be scared of Hell." Look at his computer games-scarier than most things I would watch. "He cannot understand good and evil." Parents, that is your fault.

I write fairy tales. I have written stories for children for over forty years. I taught children before going back to university and college teaching (there are similarities). In my stories, people die, choose evil or good, are happy or sad. Art is not real, even fantasy, unless a similitude of the truth of life weaves through these stories.

Children choose good and evil daily. Children can go to Heaven, Hell, Purgatory. Adults must stop being in denial about their own responsibilities.

I have "heard" the voice of God clearly, startlingly, rarely in my life, except as the still, small voice, but I can put my hand on my heart and tell you all one event. The second day after my son's birth, and he was born late the night before, almost twenty-four years ago, I was holding him in the old Cuckfield Hospital in Hampshire, sitting on the side of the bed. It was a gloriously sunny April day. The lilacs and other flowers bloomed outside the window by my bed in the dormitory like wing. I was holding my tiny boy.

Suddenly, I could not hear anyone, not even the birds. My baby and I were wrapped in a deep silence. I heard God the Father say, "When you die, I shall ask you one thing. Did you pass your Faith on to your son?" I was stunned, humbled. I said, "Yes, Lord. I shall. I will." I did.

For all parents, please say "yes" and do your duty. And, pray for the lost child in the video above. Perfection consists in this, from Garrigou-Lagrange:

There are those who seem to think that it is sufficient to be saved and that it is not necessary to be a saint. It is clearly not necessary to be a saint who performs miracles and whose sanctity is officially recognized by the Church. To be saved, we must take the way of salvation, which is identical with that of sanctity. There will be only saints in heaven, whether they enter there immediately after death or after purification in purgatory. No one enters heaven unless he has that sanctity which consists in perfect purity of soul. Every sin though it should be venial, must be effaced, and the punishment due to sin must be borne or remitted, in order that a soul may enjoy forever the vision of God, see Him as He sees Himself, and love Him as He loves Himself. Should a soul enter heaven before the total remission of its sins, it could not remain there and it would cast itself into purgatory to be purified.
The interior life of a just man who tends toward God and who already lives by Him is indeed the one thing necessary. To be a saint, neither intellectual culture nor great exterior activity is a requisite; it suffices that we live profoundly by God. This truth is evident in the saints of the early Church; several of those saints were poor people, even slaves. It is evident also in St. Francis, St. Benedict Joseph Labre, in the Cure of Ars, and many others. They all had a deep understanding of these words of our Savior: "For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul?" (2) If people sacrifice so many things to save the life of the body, which must ultimately die, what should we not sacrifice to save the life of our soul, which is to last forever? Ought not man to love his soul more than his body? "Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul?" our Lord adds. (3) "One thing is necessary," He tells us.(4) To save our soul, one thing alone is necessary: to hear the word of God and to live by it. Therein lies the best part, which will not be taken away from a faithful soul even though it should lose everything else.

By the way, the word in Hebrew for "thing", dabar, also means word, work, matter, cause, act, judgment...In Revelation, a thing is not merely a concept, but a deed. And, the Word of God is efficacious, Christ Himself in the Flesh. When God asks us about a "thing", He does not merely mean intellectual assent, or triviality, but that which is and always will be.

An Older Vortex as A Reminder

How small is the remnant? Perfection II:viii

The Babylonian Captivity
The question of community and remnant go together in people's conversation.

The idea of community connects with the idea that a remnant would need support in order to survive.

This is true. But, for a moment, let me write about what a remnant really is.

And, how big is a remnant?

First of all, two New Testament passages refer to the remnant. In the second passage, the "seed" is the remnant.

Second, the remnant is saved by grace, by election, that is chosen by God, and are those who have kept the Ten Commandments and have the testimony of Jesus Christ, which is baptism.

Third, the remnant is those who persevere. And, are purified. Remember, that purification begins with orthodoxy.

Fourth, the remnant is the Church Militant, not the Church Mushy.

Fifth, the remnant has always really been small, contrary to romantic history of the Church.

Sixth, the one, true Faith is the faith of the remnant.

Seventh, the remnant may or may not have the sacraments or priests, therefore, the habit of prayer and holiness must be part of the members' daily lives.

Eighth, the remnant will be separated and not in great groups. Think about this. The remnant will be surrounded by pagans.

Ninth, the remnant will be and is now, responsible for passing down the Faith to the next generation.

Tenth, the remnant will be mostly hidden.

Romans 11:5

Even so then at this present time also, there is a remnant saved according to the election of grace.

Revelation 12:17

17 And the dragon was angry against the woman: and went to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Some people have been thinking out loud that few as 5,000 people in the future in Europe could be practicing, faithful Catholics. Does this shock you? This is not prophesy, but an idea which is extrapolated from numbers, events, observations. Be Catholic, be part of the remnant.

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