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Tuesday 11 March 2014


A sad note, as I am teaching Sophocles again

The lost work of Sophocles is said to include Water-Carriers, Judgment, Assembly of the Achaeans, Banquet of the Achaeans, Ethiopians, Scyrians, Larissaeans, Iberians, Phaeacians, Mysians, Phrygians, Muses, Captive Women, Phthian Women, Scythian Women, Camicians, Colchian Women, Lemnian Women (two versions), Laconian Women, Lovers of Achilles, Momus, Image Bearers, Shepherds, Root-Cutters, Theseus, Atreus, Iphigenia, Odysseus, Madness of Odysseus, Andromache, Daedalus, Meleager, Pandora, Minos, Tantalus, Eris, Cerberus, Laocoon, Ion, Ixion, Sisyphus, Andromeda, Niobe, Voyage of Nauplius , Troilus, Phaedra, Triptolemus, Helen Claimed, Marriage of Helen, Helen Seized, Philoctetes at Troy, Clytemnestra, Tyro (two), the Fire-Kindler, Acrisius, Alexander, Priam,Amphiaraus, Euryalus, Danae, Hermione, Iobates, Aletes, Dionysiskos, Pelias, Epigoni, Amphitryon, Athamas (two), Heracles, Heracles at Taenarum, Tyndareus, Akanthoplex, Tympanists, Thyestes (three), Admetus, Phoenix, Aegisthus, Ajax of Locris, Cedalion, Chryses, Creusa, Nausicaa, Eriphyle, Erigone, Eumelus, Sinon, Oeneus, Aegeus, Eurypylus, Polyxena, Palamedes, Memnon, Thamyras, Inachus, Teucer, Hippodamia, Tereus, Nauplius, , Salmoneus, Procris, Oenomaus, Amycus, Eurysaces, , Peleus, Iocles, Hipponous, Alcmaeon, Herakleiskos, Phrixus, Polyides, Phineus (two versions), Iambe, Hybris, Dolopes, Antenoridae, Aleadae.

Happy Earthly Birthday

Álvaro del Portillo y Diez de Sollano, pray for us and especially for my immigration needs.

(March 11, 1914 - March 23, 1994)

Closer to home causes a rant

Letter Writing

My mother has found over thirty years of letters I wrote to her from around the globe. I was a great letter writer to her, at least, although friends complained I did not give them enough details.

I have letters over 120 years old written in old Czech from my great-grandfather to his then fiance, my great-grandmother. These are in a file in storage in Illinois. They are love letters.

My mother kept the letters my dad sent her from the "front" in WWII. Bits are cut out, of course, as all the letters were read by authorities and locations removed.

Letter writing has passed into the realms of  "lost art".  Letter writing kept families together for centuries, even millenia. In fact, the art of letter writing was prized and children were taught how to write informal and formal letters.

Without letter writing, we would not have the epistles in the New Testament.

Some novels were written in the "letter format". And, many famous plays contain letters.

One thinks of the letters in Pride and Prejudice or Persuasion, for two examples, and how important these are to the plots.

We now write short tweets, comprised of abbreviations and odd combinations. We write on Skype in chat acronyms. One must learn these in order to communicate even in text messaging.

But, the beautiful idea of sitting down and composing excellent sentences for a family member or a friend, even that "special friend" has become an ideal of the past.

I hope letter writing does not completely disappear. It is interesting that the postal services of both Ireland and America have fallen into disarray. In my childhood, one could expect mail twice a day, delivered to one's home. Now, the postal services find bags of unopened letters in mail carriers' houses, or even in the River Liffey.  I lost an entire $1,000 dollars worth of books, including rare editions of Thomas Aquinas, sent through the post to my new address. These were deemed as "stolen".

Also, a Christmas package of goodies was not delivered to my apartment in Ireland, but sent back after one try, when I was out at Mass.

Many people no longer trust the postal services of some countries. This may contribute to the drop in letter writing. If one is not sure whether a missive will actually get to a friend's address, why bother?

However, the English postal system seems good to this day. I hope it stays that way. American mail service is considering not delivering on Saturdays in this area.

How sad. The passing of an era of communication which was more genteel and kind....

I wrote a letter to the Pope almost four months ago. I do not know if His Holiness received it. It was in Spanish. You may all take a minute to pray that he did read it and may respond.

Some of my older readers may remember this popular song from the pre-twitter, pre-email and fb days....

Give me a ticket for an aeroplane
Ain't got time to take a fast train
Lonely days are gone, I'ma goin' home
My baby just wrote me a letter

I don't care how much money I gotta spend
Got to get back to my baby again
Lonely days are gone, I'ma goin' home
My baby just wrote me a letter

Well she wrote me a letter
Said she couldn't live without me no more
Listen mister can't you see
I gotta get back to my baby once more, anyway

Pray for the families, please


Every time, and I mean, every time, I put a link on this blog related to JihadWatch or news concerning the Middle East, I get "readers" from Qatar and Saudi Arabia. This is no accident.

It is not only NSA which is following us. Automatic trips of some sort....or people wasting time on a small, very small blogger.

How glad I am to be a Catholic, free of tyranny and living in the love of Christ, rather than in the fear of losing power. I have never cared about gaining power, or status, or fame.

To be small and humble should be the goal of every Christian. Christ humbled Himself. From Philippians 2.
If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of charity, if any society of the spirit, if any bowels of commiseration:
Fulfill ye my joy, that you may be of one mind, having the same charity, being of one accord, agreeing in sentiment.
Let nothing be done through contention, neither by vain glory: but in humility, let each esteem others better than themselves:
Each one not considering the things that are his own, but those that are other men's.
For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man.
He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.
For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names:
10 That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth:
11 And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.

Those who follow Christ become like Him. We become like those we love.

I repeat; we become like those we love. We become like Christ if we love Him.

Christ is the Incarnate One, the God Who became Man. He is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, and the Trinity is my God.

The reasons why idolatry is so horrible a sin are twofold. One, we do not give God true worship, the worship He deserves as God.  And, two, we become like the gods we adore.

Have you ever noticed that people who love power more than God become tyrants, even in families? Or, that people who love money become miserly, unloving, turned in on themselves?

If we love Christ, we become like Him.

He is my God. Who is your God?

Everyone eventually leaves Iowa

Sigh, too many big brothers....

I hope more doctors take this seriously

As a teacher, I have always been suspicious that the diagnosis of ADHD was false. I am convinced this label hides simpler and more treatable syndromes, including lack of sleep.

I am shocked at how many parents do not put their children to bed before ten, for example. Kids need sleep.

I would like to see more on this topic....

From a Friend

Another Ecumenical Breakthrough: Swedish Megachurch Pastor Converts to Catholicism from Seasons of Grace
March 10, 2014 By Kathy Schiffer 5 Comments

Ulf Ekman
The pastor of Sweden’s largest non-denominational megachurch shocked Christians in his own community and around the world this weekend, by announcing that he is entering the Roman Catholic Church.
*     *     *     *     *
Several times in the last month, I wrote about bold initiatives in ecumenism, most notably the exchange of greetings and blessings between Pope Francis and evangelical pastor Kenneth Copeland, brokered by Anglican Bishop Tony Palmer.
Perhaps I spoke too soon, though—for this latest surprise is just as remarkable in the Christian world, once again pointing toward a quest for unity which would have seemed impossible just a few years ago.
*     *     *     *     *
Ulf Ekman, founder of the Word of Life Church in Uppsala, Sweden, in a long sermon on Sunday explained to his followers how he and his wife Birgitta had experienced the gentle yet firm tug from Jesus to join the Roman Catholic Church. There are two ways to get into the water, he said: first, like Peter, hearing the call of Christ and jumping in to answer; and second, like Jonah, hearing God’s call to go to Nineveh but fearful, taking off in a boat headed in the other direction. Only when he was thrown overboard by sailors on the ship did he end up in the water.
Elkman spoke candidly about his fear at embarking on his new journey. “Fears,” he said, “are the open mountains overshadowing the beautiful landscape our Lord wants to show us.”
In a statement on his ministry website, Pastor Ekman explains the quest for unity to which Christ called the Ekmans, and Ekman’s personal 10-year journey toward conversion. From that statement:
During the last ten years, Ulf and Birgitta have had contact with catholics and catholic faith, mostly internationally but also in Sweden. This has made them reflect more on the catholic faith and on the spiritual life they have seen in their catholic brothers and sisters.
- For Birgitta and me, this has been a slow process were we have gone from discovering new things, to appreciating what we have discovered, to approach and even learn from our fellow Christians, Ulf Ekman says.
- We have seen a great love for Jesus and a sound theology, founded on the Bible and classic dogma. We have experienced the richness of sacramental life. We have seen the logic in having a solid structure for priesthood, that keeps the faith of the church and passes it on from one generation to the next. We have met an ethical and moral strength and consistency that dare to face up to the general opinion, and a kindness towards the poor and the weak. And, last but not least, we have come in contact with representatives for millions of charismatic Catholics and we have seen their living faith, Ulf Ekman explains.
- All this has been both attractive and challenging. It really challenged our protestant prejudices, and we realized that we in many cases did not have any basis for our criticism of them. We needed to know the Catholic faith better. This led us to the realize that it was actually Jesus Christ who led us to unite with the Catholic Church, Ulf Ekman says.
In the following video (which is translated into English), Ukman explains his decision to a spellbound congregation at the church which he founded 30 years ago.   There is a hearty applause at the end of the announcement, but reports indicate that the news has been met with “anger to sadness and confusion.”
Here is the video link from the March 9 service at Word of Life Church.  Pastor Ekman’s specific comments about Catholicism begin at the 25:00 mark.

Perfection Series II: li

As I am looking at St. Catherine of Siena again today, I want to pick a little selection which refers to the pursuit of perfection from her Dialog. Good reading for Lent....

My creatures should see and know that I wish nothing but their good, through the Blood of My only-begotten Son, in which they are washed from their iniquities. By this Blood they are enabled to know My Truth, how, in order to give them eternal life, I created them in My image and likeness and re-created them to grace with the Blood of My Son, making them sons of adoption. But, since they are imperfect, they make use of Me only for their own profit, relaxing their love for their neighbor. Thus, those in the first state come to naught through the fear of enduring pain, and those in the second, because they slacken their pace, ceasing to render service to their neighbor, and withdrawing their charity if they see their own profit or consolation withdrawn from them: this happens because their love was originally impure, for they gave to their neighbor the same imperfect love which they gave to Me, that is to say, a love based only on desire of their own advantage. If, through a desire for perfection, they do not recognize this imperfection of theirs, it is impossible that they should not turn back. For those who desire Eternal Life, a pure love, prescinding from themselves, is necessary, for it is not enough for eternal life to fly sin from fear of punishment, or to embrace virtue from the motive of one’s own advantage. Sin should be abandoned because it is displeasing to Me, and virtue should be loved for My sake. It is true that, generally speaking, every person is first called in this way, but this is because the soul herself is at first imperfect, from which imperfection she must advance to perfection, either while she lives, by a generous love to Me with a pure and virtuous heart that takes no thought for herself, or, at least, in the moment of death, recognizing her own imperfection, with the purpose, had she but time, of serving Me, irrespectively of herself. It was with this imperfect love that S. Peter loved the sweet and good Jesus, My only-begotten Son, enjoying most pleasantly His sweet conversation, but, when the time of trouble came, he failed, and so disgraceful was his fall, that, not only could he not bear any pain himself, but his terror of the very approach of pain caused him to fall, and deny the Lord, with the words, ’I have never known Him.’ The soul who has climbed this step with servile fear and mercenary love alone, falls into many troubles. Such souls should arise and become sons, and serve Me, irrespective of themselves, for I, who am the Rewarder of every labor, render to each man according to his state and his labor; wherefore, if these souls do not abandon the exercise of holy prayer and their other good works, but go on, with perseverance, to increase their virtues, they will arrive at the state of filial love, because I respond to them with the same love, with which they love Me, so that, if they love Me, as a servant does his master, I pay them their wages according to their deserts, but I do not reveal Myself to them, because secrets are revealed to a friend, who has become one thing with his friend, and not to a servant. Yet it is true, that a servant may so advance by the virtuous love, which he bears to his master, as to become a very dear friend, and so do some of these of whom I have spoken, but while they remain in the state of mercenary love, I do not manifest Myself to them. If they, through displeasure at their imperfection, and love of virtue, dig up, with hatred, the root of spiritual self-love, and mount to the throne of conscience, reasoning with themselves, so as to quell the motions of servile fear in their heart, and to correct mercenary love by the light of the holy faith, they will be so pleasing to Me, that they will attain to the love of the friend. And I will manifest Myself to them, as My Truth said in these words: ’He who loves Me shall be one thing with Me and I with him, and I will manifest Myself to him and we will dwell together.’ This is the state of two dear friends, for though they are two in body, yet they are one in soul through the affection of love, because love transforms the lover into the object loved, and where two friends have one soul, there can be no secret between them, wherefore My Truth said: ’I will come and we will dwell together,’ and this is the truth.”

More from Catherine of Siena on The Sins of Priests

Friday, 1 February 2013 Re-post

Another reference to The Dialogues and other writings of St. Catherine of Siena

In some translations of her treatises and Dialogue
the sins referred by Christ regarding His priests 
point to the fact that if these men said the Mass properly, not mumbling, they knew that they 
would be creating a sacrilege.

Some things have not changed, but we should be so scandalized....

"The fruits of this death-giving tree, are as 
diverse as sins are diverse. See that some of 
these fruits are the food of beasts who live impurely, using their body and their mind like a swine who wallows in mud, for in the same way they wallow in the mire of sensuality.
"Oh, ugly soul, where have you left your dignity? You were made sister to the angels, and now you are become a brute beast. To such misery come sinners, notwithstanding that they are sustained by Me, 
who am Supreme Purity, notwithstanding that the very devils, whose friends and servants they have become, cannot endure the sight of such filthy actions.
"Neither does any sin, abominable as it may be, take away the light of the intellect from man, 
so much as does this one. This the philosophers knew, not by the light of grace, because they had it not, but because nature gave them the light to know that this sin obscured the intellect, and for that reason they preserved themselves in continence the better to study.
"Thus also they flung away their riches in order that the thought of them should not occupy their heart. Not so does the ignorant and false Christian, who has lost grace by sin."


"What I say of the universal body and the mystical body of the Holy Church (that is to say the 
Christian religion) I also say of My ministers, who stand and feed at the breasts of Holy Church; 
and, not only should they feed themselves, but it is also their duty to feed and hold to those breasts the universal body of Christian people, and also any other people who should wish to leave the darkness of their infidelity, and bind themselves as members to My Church.
"See then with what ignorance and darkness, and ingratitude, are administered, and with what 
filthy hands are handled this glorious milk and blood of My spouse, and with what presumption and 
irreverence they are received. Wherefore, that which really gives life, often gives, through the defects 
of those who receive it, death; that is to say, the precious Blood of My only-begotten Son, which 
destroyed death and darkness, and gave life and truth, and confounded falsehood.

"For I give this Blood and use It for salvation and perfection in the case of that man who disposes himself properly to receive it, for It gives life and adorns the soul with every grace, in proportion to the disposition and affection of him who receives It; similarly It gives death to him who receives It unworthily, living in iniquity and in the darkness of mortal sin; to him, I say, It gives death and not life; not through defect of the Blood, nor through defect of the minister, though there might be great evil in him, because his evil would not spoil nor defile the Blood nor diminish Its grace and virtue, nor does an evil minister do harm to him to whom he gives the Blood, but to himself he does the harm of guilt, which will be followed by punishment, unless he correct himself with contrition and repentance.

And one of her letters to the Pope Gregory XI in Avignon:

In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:
Most holy and dear and sweet father in Christ sweet Jesus: I your unworthy daughter Catherine, servant and slave of the servants of Jesus Christ, write to you in His precious Blood. With desire have I desired to see in you the fulness of divine grace, in such wise that you may be the means, through divine grace, of pacifying all the universal world. Therefore, I beg you, sweet my father, to use the instrument of your power and virtue, with zeal, and hungry desire for the peace and honour of God and the salvation of souls. And should you say to me, father--"The world is so ravaged! How shall I attain peace?" I tell you, on behalf of Christ crucified, it befits you to achieve three chief things through your power. Do you uproot in the garden of Holy Church the malodorous flowers, full of impurity and avarice, swollen with pride: that is, the bad priests and rulers who poison and rot that garden. Ah me, you our Governor, do you use your power to pluck out those flowers! Throw them away, that they may have no rule! Insist that they study to rule themselves in holy and good life. Plant in this garden fragrant flowers, priests and rulers who are true servants of Jesus Christ, and care for nothing but the honour of God and the salvation of souls, and are fathers of the poor. Alas, what confusion is this, to see those who ought to be a mirror of voluntary poverty, meek as lambs, distributing the possessions of Holy Church to the poor: and they appear in such luxury and state and pomp and worldly vanity, more than if they had turned them to the world a thousand times! Nay, many seculars put them to shame who live a good and holy life. But it seems that Highest and Eternal Goodness is having that done by force which is not done by love; it seems that He is permitting dignities and luxuries to be taken away from His Bride, as if He would show that Holy Church should return to her first condition, poor, humble, and meek as she was in that holy time when men took note of nothing but the honour of God and the salvation of souls, caring for spiritual things and not for temporal. For ever since she has aimed more at temporal than at spiritual, things have gone from bad to worse. See therefore that God, in judgment, has allowed much persecution and tribulation to befall her. But comfort you, father, and fear not for anything that could happen, which God does to make her state perfect once more, in order that lambs may feed in that garden, and not wolves who devour the honour that should belong to God, which they steal and give to themselves. Comfort you in Christ sweet Jesus; for I hope that His aid will be near you, plenitude of divine grace, aid and support divine in the way that I said before. Out of war you will attain greatest peace; out of persecution, greatest unity; not by human power, but by holy virtue, you will discomfit those visible demons, wicked men, and those invisible demons who never sleep around us.
But reflect, sweet father, that you could not do this easily unless you accomplished the other two things which precede the completion of the other: that is, your return to Rome and uplifting of the standard of the most holy Cross. Let not your holy desire fail on account of any scandal or rebellion of cities which you might see or hear; nay, let the flame of holy desire be more kindled to wish to do swiftly. Do not delay, then, your coming. Do not believe the devil, who perceives his own loss, and so exerts himself to rob you of your possessions in order that you may lose your love and charity and our coming be hindered. I tell you, father in Christ Jesus, come swiftly like a gentle lamb. Respond to the Holy Spirit who calls you. I tell you, Come, come, come, and do not wait for time, since time does not wait for you. Then you will do like the Lamb Slain whose place you hold, who without weapons in His hand slew our foes, coming in gentleness, using only the weapons of the strength of love, aiming only at care of spiritual things, and restoring grace to man who had lost it through sin.
Alas, sweet my father, with this sweet hand I pray you, and tell you to come to discomfit our enemies. On behalf of Christ crucified I tell it you: refuse to believe the counsels of the devil, who would hinder your holy and good resolution. Be manly in my sight, and not timorous. Answer God, who calls you to hold and possess the seat of the glorious Shepherd St. Peter, whose vicar you have been. And raise the standard of the holy Cross; for as we were freed by the Cross--so Paul says--thus raising this standard, which seems to me the refreshment of Christians, we shall be freed--we from our wars and divisions and many sins, the infidel people from their infidelity. In this way you will come and attain the reformation, giving good priests to Holy Church. Fill her heart with the ardent love that she has lost; for she has been so drained of blood by the iniquitous men who have devoured her that she is wholly wan. But comfort you, and come, father, and no longer make to wait the servants of God, who afflict themselves in desire. And I, poor, miserable woman, can wait no more; living, I seem to die in my pain, seeing God thus reviled. Do not, then, hold off from peace because of the circumstance which has occurred at Bologna, but come; for I tell you that the fierce wolves will put their heads in your bosom like gentle lambs, and will ask mercy from you, father. I say no more. I beg you, father, to hear and hark that which Fra Raimondo will say to you, and the other sons with him, who come in the Name of Christ crucified and of me; for they are true servants of God and sons of Holy Church. Pardon, father, my ignorance, and may the love and grief which make me speak excuse me to your benignity. Give me your benediction. Remain in the holy and sweet grace of God. Sweet Jesus, Jesus Love.

Christ Speaking to Catherine of Siena about Horrible Sins-Part One

“Humility is not alone but has the handmaid of contempt of self and of the world, which causes the soul to hold herself vile, and not to desire honor but shame. Thus dead to himself, should he who is old enough enter the ship of a religious order, but however he may enter it (for I have told you that I call souls in diverse ways), he should acquire and preserve this affection, hurrying generously to seize the key of the obedience of his order, which will open the little door which is in the panel of the door of Heaven. Such as these have undertaken to open the little door, doing without the great key of general obedience, which opens the door of Heaven, as I have said to you. They have taken a little key, passing through a low and narrow opening in the great door. This small door is part of the great door, as you may see in any real door. They should keep this key when they have got it, and not throw it away. And because the truly obedient have seen with the light of faith that they will never be able to pass through this little door with the load of their riches and the weight of their own will without great fatigue and without losing their life, and that they cannot walk with head erect without breaking their neck; whether they wish to or not, they cast from them the load of their riches, and of their own will observing the vow of voluntary poverty, refusing to possess anything, for they see by the light of faith to what ruin they would come if they transgressed obedience, and the and of poverty which they promised to keep. The disobedient walk in pride, holding their heads erect, and if sometimes it suits their convenience to obey they do not incline their heads with humility, but proudly do so, because they must, which force breaks the neck of their will, for they fulfill their obedience with hatred of their order and of their superior. Little by little they are ruined on another point, for they transgress the vow of continence, for he who does not constrain his appetite or strip himself of temporal substance makes many relations and finds plenty of friends who love him for their own profit. From these relations they go on to close intimacies, their body they tend luxuriously, for being without either the nurse of humility or her sister, self-contempt, they live in their own pleasure richly and delicately, not like religious but like nobles, without watching or prayer. This and many other things happen to them because they have money to spend, for if they had it not they could not spend it. They fall into mental and physical impurity, for if sometimes from shame or through lack of means they abstain physically, they indulge themselves mentally, for it is impossible for a man with many worldly relations, of delicate habits and disordinate greediness, who watches not nor prays, to preserve his mind pure. Wherefore the perfectly obedient man sees from afar with the light of holy faith the evil and the loss which would come to him from temporal possessions and from walking weighed down by his own will; he also sees that he is obliged to pass by this narrow door, and that in such a state he would die before he would be able to pass it, having no key of obedience wherewith to open it, for as I said to you, he is obliged to pass through it. Wherefore it is that whether he will or no he should not leave the ship of the order, but should walk the narrow path of obedience to his superior.
“Wherefore the perfectly obedient man rises above himself and his own sensuality, and rising above his own feelings with living faith, places self-hatred as servant in the house of his soul to drive out the enemy of self-love, for he does not wish that his spouse, Obedience, given him with the light of faith by her mother, Charity, should be offended; so he drives out the enemy and puts in his place the nurse and companions of his spouse.
“The love of obedience places in the house of his soul the lovers of his spouse, Obedience, who are the true and royal virtues, the customs and observances of his order, so that this sweet spouse enters his soul with her sister, Patience, and her nurse, Humility, together with Self-contempt and Self-hatred, and when she has entered she possesses peace and quiet, for her enemies have been exiled. She dwells in the garden of true continence, with the sun of intellectual light shining in, the eye of holy faith fixed on the object of My Truth, for her object is My Truth, and the fire of love with which she observes the rules of the order, warms all her servants and companions.
“Who are her enemies who have been expelled? The chief is self-love, producing pride, the enemy of humility and charity. Impatience is the enemy of patience, disobedience of true obedience, infidelity of faith, presumption and self-confidence do not accord with the true hope which the soul should have in Me; injustice cannot be conformed to justice, nor imprudence to prudence, nor intemperance to temperance, nor the transgression of the commandments of the order to perfect observance of them, nor the wicked conversation of those who live in sin to the good conversation of My servants. These are a man’s enemies, causing him to leave the good customs and traditions of his order. He has also those other cruel enemies, anger, which wars against his benevolence; cruelty, against his kindness; wrath, against his benignity; hatred of virtue, against the love of virtue; impurity, against chastity; negligence, against solicitude; ignorance, against knowledge; and sloth against watchfulness and continued prayer.