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Sunday 23 March 2014

A Short Story from Max

Max lived in a homeless shelter. He was given some change and saw a small stuffed animal in a Hallmark store which tickled his imagination. What few knew was that Max had been a war journalist. He had experienced a nervous breakdown in the Middle East and could not hold a job. His family, abandoning him, thought he should just "buck up" and find a job.

But, with a medical history of breakdowns, Max could only do things for a short while. Then, he would have nightmares. The small animal in the window of the shop reminded him of something he could not quite remember.

And, he did not have enough change to buy it. Max was 42, tall and very thin. He looked much older than his age. One of the few vets to have never taken drugs and one who did not drink, he did not fit into certain "programs" where he lived. Thankfully, Max lived in a southern state, so he could be outside most of the time. At night, he slept in the shelter.

Max did not go to church. He had been raised Jewish, and left that religion for a secularism, which no longer kept him steady. His modern philosophies died on the battlefield. Two of his buddies were blown up in front of him, which resulted in Max's first breakdown. But, Max had found God and Christ through his limited experiences. He knew that Jesus was really true God and Man. Now,  Max was no theologian and could not explain to others what had happened to him. He had seen Christ. He had walked with Christ.

Now, in early March, he found himself in the emergency room of a small hospital. He had been bitten by a stray dog and had to have rabies shots, as the dog could not be found. Max knew he was in for more pain.

He had been triaged, owing to a serious car accident involving a horse and rider, therefore, he waited patiently in the waiting area. Max sat down next to a well-dressed man, who was bent over. Max felt sorry for this man.

"Sorry you are so upset," Max said. The man, about 50 years old, sat up and stared at Max. "Thanks. My wife is in there in serious condition."

"I shall pray for her," Max said. The man stared at him again. "Do you pray?"

"Yes, I do."  The man said, "But, you look like you have had hard times."

"Yes, Sir, I have, but it all could be worse. But, you are lucky to have a wife."

The man answered, "I have not appreciated her enough. She is a lovely woman. Her horse bolted on the side of our property and ran into a lane, just as a car came up. Her pelvis is completely smashed and she has head injuries."

Max looked at the floor. "I shall pray right now." And, he did.

The man sat up straight and looked at Max. "Here, take this note I am writing and keep it until you need it."

Max took the folded sheet and put it in his pocket. He kept praying. Just then, a doctor came out and asked for Mr. Colridge. The rich looking man got up and followed the doctor into the back rooms.

Then, a nurse came up and asked Max to follow her. She said they were going to start a series of shots and that he would have to come back six times for shots and check ups.

Max nodded and went into his cubicle. The shot hurt, but Max offered the pain up for Mrs. Colridge.

As he sat there drinking juice the nurse brought in, Mr. Colridge walked past the opening to Max's cubicle.

"Hey, my wife is going to be airlifted to Memphis. She is going to be fine. Lots of work, lots of physio, but fine. I guess your prayers work."

Max answered, "God is good." And, the man nodded, leaving quickly.

The nurse came back. "Do you have someone to take you back to the shelter?"

Max answered, "No, Ma'am. I take a bus down to the park."

"Well, we shall keep you here for a bit, and then you can go. See you soon."

Max drank another carton of juice. He was thinking of the Colridges.

When Max finally got back downtown and sat on "his" park bench, he decided to look at the note Mr. Colridge had given him. The note stated, "This man helped me so give him anything he wants in the shop. Mr. James Colridge, owner of the Delrich Gift Shops."

Max laughed out loud. Then, he got up off his bench and walked a half-mile to the Delrich Gift Shop. He asked the girl for the red, small animal in the window. She obviously did not want to wait on Max, but she picked the stuffed toy out of the window and put it on the counter.

"Do you have money for this?" Max took the folded paper out of his pocket.

"I have this." The girl looked at the note and replied, "Stay here for a minute. I have to get the manager."

In a few minutes, a young man came out and looked at Max. He looked at the note. "Yes, this is Mr. Colridge's handwriting. Give the man the toy. If it is fake, I shall pay for it."

The young woman looked at both the manager and Max, but she obeyed. She put the small red animal in a bag. The manager grabbed some candy and small things off the side of the counter and put those in the bag as well.

"Thanks," said Max and he walked out, with his small parcel of goodies.

Sitting on the bench, Max took out the small red animal. It seemed to remind him of something. Then, he remembered. Sam, one of his buddies who was killed in front of him, had loved war games. He would talk of the Red Dragon Infantry where he could choose his weapons.  Max did not play games, but he and Sam were like brothers. The small red dragon reminded him of Sam.

Max said a prayer to God thanking Him for Sam, for Joe, the other man killed, for Mr. Colridge, for Mrs. Colridge. He wondered at the connections among all peoples. He wished these connections were more obvious to others.

Then, he began to eat the little candies in his bag. At the bottom of the bag lay a pen and a small tablet of paper. Max ate and wrote this story.....he felt his talent coming back. "Thanks, Sam, " he said, and wrote away.

Manifesto on Perfection Series

The perfection series exists for three reasons, Readers.

One, to help you love God more and experience the love of God.

Two, to help you skip purgatory-in other words, be a saint now.

Three, to build up the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church. For, as you become purified and perfected, you will experience love of neighbor more and more, plus your gifts and virtues will finally blossom.


Cult of Personality Again

Years ago, I wrote an article on the "cult of personality", which has engulfed the imaginations of people all over the world. Whether a man or woman is good or bad, this cult of personality involves following famous or infamous individuals across the globe.

Now, I have never been a person to be attracted to personalities. I skipped seeing the Beatles as a teen in my area, as I could not stand the adoration of four not-so-perfect men which swept through my generation. In fact, as I have written on this blog, two girls broke down in hysteria in gym class, and had to be led to the nurse's office, the day they found out Ringo Starr had gotten married.

I did not idolize the local heroes of high school football. I did not idolize the president of the student government. Some girls did.

I never idolized the rich or the poor just because such people were rich or poor.

Being impervious to following rock stars or politicians, members of the monarchy or movie stars, I have not really understood the power of false charism. To be watching and following such people makes up a complete waste of time, time I can spend looking at the Cross on the wall here.

Are some people's lives so boring, or are some people so lacking in creativity that these folk must read about births, deaths, marriages, divorces of the rich and famous?


The following of Putin falls into the category of the "cult of personality". He has been made a saint by some who have given him the halo for just being a macho man or because our own president is weak, especially in foreign affairs.

Saints earn their stripes by being humble and loving God first, rather than themselves. The way to sainthood must be seen as an arduous journey, not a photo op.

In our own country of America, many idolize POTUS and wife; why I do not know.

I would not have idolized Washington or Lincoln. They were men with a job to do and they did it. Basta. Do I give honor to honorable people? Of course-but the key phrase in that sentence is "honorable".

I have one human idol and He is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. I am allowed to idolize Him as He really is God, not a false god.

By the way, we become those we idolize. Think on that....

to be continued....

Promised Article from My Russian Friend

The confusion regarding Putin may be clarified by some of the points in the following post. A friend of mine who is Russian wrote this for me.

A lot of opinions have been expressed regarding the recent crisis in Ukraine and the Russian annexation of Crimea. I have especially been troubled by some comments I have read on traditional blogs. I would like to address some of the opinions expressed there.
Lest I be accused of being duped by the US government and media propaganda, let me assure you that until three days ago I had read reports from neither regarding this issue. Instead, I have been reading the very few remaining independent Russian sources (most of them have been shut down) and talking to friends and family still living in Russia.
1. Putin wants stability for his country.
This is true enough, but stability at what cost? If there was one thing we had in the Soviet Union, it was stability. All was stable and crystal clear. One knew exactly what to think and what to say, and if you did not think or say that, there was a provision in the criminal code that could be applied to such “de-stabilizing” individuals. Fingers on both hands are not enough to count the members of my family who were imprisoned and executed by that “stable” regime.
Putin has not re-opened the GULAGs, so far as I know, but he has systematically centralized power and struck down opposition, both through legislative measures and other kinds of pressure. These measures have been stepped up since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine. Most recently Putin’s government has passed a bill that allows the Russian authorities to block web sites, without a court order, for promoting rioting and extremism. What exactly constitutes extremism is left to the discretion of the officials. This measure was quickly applied to Putin’s political opponents. This occurrence is neither singular nor new. One of my former classmates is a political analyst who has been critical of Putin’s government for a number of years now, and for the same number of years he has been unable to publish anything in any major Russian newspaper or appear on any major TV station.
2. Putin is a Christian man who supports religion.
I don’t have insight into Putin’s conscience, but should we not at least be somewhat suspicious of this old union that is presented in a new light? A union between a man who made his previous career at KGB – an agency that has a history of persecuting Christians – and the same church hierarchy that not so long ago assisted that agency in this task?
Interestingly, Putin in a talk aired by the Russian TV channels a few years ago said: “As you know, we have eastern Christianity – the Orthodox Church. And some Christian theorists claim, that it is in many ways closer to Islam than, let’s say, Catholics.”
3. At least he is making laws that support the family. His government is giving financial assistance to families for having more children. He passed laws against homosexual propaganda.
Yes, Putin is encouraging people to have more children. He is doing so because the population of Russia is decreasing with catastrophic speed! Germany has similar laws in the hopes of increasing its population, and by the way, so did Joseph Stalin. And yes, Putin opposes homosexuality, but laws against it existed in the Soviet Union. The Soviets understood that they must support the family to avoid a population crisis that Russia is facing now.
It is ironic that Putin himself divorced his wife of many years during the year he declared to be the year of the family.
4. He went after Russia’s corrupt oligarchs who had stalled the development of the Russian economy.
That seems to be true on the surface, but in reality Putin only went after the oligarchs who politically opposed him. Very different was his treatment of wealthy supporters. One example is Roman Abramovich (one of the richest men in the world). He is not opposing Putin and is allowed to conduct his business “as usual.” The most significant oligarch bleeding Russia to the point of death is the gas-extraction company Gazprom – one of the largest companies in the world – in which the Russian government has the controlling stake (and believe me, one has to have the “correct” political views just to work there).
5. Crimea joined Russia following a legal referendum.
This one really puzzles me. The referendum was conducted on what was Ukrainian territory at the time without any involvement from Ukraine. The referendum was hastily cooked up in two weeks and conducted with the ubiquitous presence of individuals in unidentified military uniforms, while being boycotted by large Ukrainian and Tartar minorities. Should these facts not at least draw some questions? Should they not at least cast some doubt on the 99.5% “in favor” vote?
6. The coup in Ukraine was staged by Americans.
This is another puzzling one. Given the history of oppression by the Soviet regime and the treatment of the Ukrainians even prior to the revolution, is it really so unbelievable that Ukraine, as some other former republics, would want to practice self-determination and to distance themselves from Russia as far as possible? It is their unfortunate position that they must now choose their poison – alliance with Russia or the EU. But I am not at all surprised that they, without any edging from the Americans, would want to choose the latter.


And thanks so much to my friend for this post.

Reposting from Advent in Lent

I am resposting this as I have had recently a realization of one of the greatest sins found in this country. Americans demand a certain standard of food and have lost the sensitivity to simplicity. In the doctor's office, the television was on and a morning show highlighted receipes. Do all Americans now eat desserts daily? At one time, desserts were served and eaten only on the high holy days and special occasions. I am shocked at the fact that desserts seem to be expected in many families.The amount of food eaten and the choices indicate an enslavement to food here in the States. God forgive us.
Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Sins of Christmas Time-Gluttony

It seems to me that nations have corporate sins; that is, that national cultures gravitate to some sins more than others.

If I had to identify the American culture with one sin it would be the deadly sin of gluttony.

If one travels anywhere in the world, and comes back to the States, what is most noticeable are these things.

One, the amount of food people eat daily.

Two, the amount of good people waste daily.

I was visiting two households lately where the freezers were full of outdated food-seriously outdated food.

The host in one told me he has to throw away food all the time as he buys too much, and then does not use it.

All the food he was throwing away was expensive meat and fish, mostly from Trader Joe's.

I was shocked.

25% of what Americans buy is thrown away. 40% of what we produce is not eaten.

The second shock is the amount of food people expect to have at one meal.

People also snack here. I wish all Americans would spend time in other countries and notice the dinners and such people eat.

Much, much less, even the middle classes eat less and restaurants serve smaller portions.

One gets use to eating less food and expecting less.

It is actually healthier.

That Americans eat all the time, and in such quantities, grieves me. And, there are many, many, more obese young people here.

Gluttony is over-indulgence and over-consumption of food and drink.

Gluttony is also taking too much pleasure, and spending too much time over food buying, or preparation.

There is an odd idea in the Midwest that to love is to feed-and to feed is to love. Men and boys are spoiled at home with food daily. I can see the difference here than in Europe, where excessive eating is not seen as a specific sign of love.

And, in some counties in England, wheelie bins are only emptied once every two weeks. Americans cannot imagine that.

Here is St. Thomas Aquinas on Gluttony:

to be continued....

Back to The Dark Night and Venial Sin

I have written in the past two days on the Illuminative State, which follows the Dark Night of purification. Sadly, too many Catholics run a ring around the goal of suffering, and do not want to let God purify them. One can follow the tags on this subject.

Our example for the final state of Union is the Blessed Virgin Mary. She was without defect by the Will of God, but she is more than willing to help us pursue the road which leads away from sin. To be led away from sin, one must be willing to not even commit venial sin and root out the causes thereof.

Detachment is the key. 

Venial sin weakens the will and pollutes the soul. Too many bad teachers of the way of religion have ignored the detrimental effects of venial sin. 

One who reaches perfection is without sin. The tendencies to sin have been destroyed. We must ask God over and over to free us from such tendencies.

Finally, we must not forget that detachment from creatures was far greater in the Blessed Virgin than in the greatest saints, since she never committed the slightest venial sin. It was even greater still in the holy soul of Christ, who not only never actually sinned, but who was, even here on earth, absolutely impeccable. Therefore it is truly an exaggeration of simplicity to say: "It is impossible to find a mean between having and not having defects.

" What is true, is that there is no mean between being or not being absolutely impeccable, between continually avoiding or not avoiding every venial sin, between wishing or not wishing to strive henceforth to avoid them more and more. According to St. Thomas, "man (poenitens) needs to have the purpose of taking steps to commit fewer venial sins." (13) According as this will is more or less intense or fervent, he will actually avoid them more or less. Detachment from creatures will increase with the progress of charity or of attachment to God. Father Chardon strongly insisted on this point in his beautiful book, La croix de Jesus.

From all evidence, there are many degrees in what St. Thomas expresses in this manner: "Perfection can be had in this life. . . by the removal from man's affections not only of whatever is contrary to charity, but also of whatever hinders the mind's affections from tending wholly to God." (14) In this detachment there are many degrees even in regard to the exclusion of venial sins: "Those who are perfect in this life are said to offend in many things with regard to venial sins, which result from a weakness of the present life." (15) This statement is not exaggerated in its simplicity; it is rather the simple expression of Christian good sense.(16)

And more here....with more references to St. Thomas Aquinas.

The soul can free itself of certain moral defects only by docility to the special inspirations of the Holy Ghost. It would be entirely false to say that if the soul cannot deliver itself from them without these special inspirations, "these defects are no longer voluntary and therefore do not hinder perfection." The gifts of the Holy Ghost are given to all the just precisely to enable them to receive with docility these special inspirations, whose superhuman mode, that is at first latent, grows progressively more manifest if the soul is docile. St. Thomas says in fitting terms: "Whether we consider human reason as perfected in its natural perfection, or as perfected by the theological virtues, it does not know all things, or all possible things. Consequently it is unable to avoid folly and other like things mentioned in the objection. God, however, to whose knowledge and power all things are subject, by His motion safeguards us from all folly, ignorance, dullness of mind, and hardness of heart, and the rest. Consequently the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which make us amenable to His promptings, are said to be given as remedies for these defects." (18)
We hold, therefore, that the special inspirations of the Holy
Ghost are necessary that the soul may be purified of a certain rudeness or harshness, of dullness, of spiritual folly, and other similar defects, which are not only opposed to a certain psychological purity, but to moral purity. Without progressive docility to these special inspirations of the Holy Ghost, the depth of the soul will not be purified of its more or less unconscious egoism which mingles, under the form of indirectly voluntary negligence, in many of our acts and in many more or less culpable omissions.
To say that the passive purifications are not necessary to perfect moral purity would be to deny the necessity of the passive purification of the will, which frees the acts of hope and charity from all human alloy.(19) In this connection we may profitably recall what St. Teresa wrote in her Life: "For instance, they read that we must not be troubled when men speak ill of us, that we are to be then more pleased than when they speak well of us; that we must despise our own good name, be detached from our kindred, . . . with many other things of the same kind. The disposition to practice this must be, in my opinion, the gift of God; for it seems to me a supernatural good." (20) The meaning which the saint gives to this last expression is well known. Moreover, she remarks more than once that the progress of the virtues normally accompanies that of prayer, and that profound humility is ordinarily the fruit of the infused contemplation of the infinite grandeur of God and of our own wretchedness. This growth in virtue is not something accidental; it is the normal development of the interior life.
St. John of the Cross clearly holds that the passive purifications are necessary for the profound purity of the will. It will suffice to recall what he says of the defects that necessitate the passive purification of the senses and that of the spirit. In The Dark Night of the Soul (Bk. I, chaps. 2-9, and Bk. II, chaps. I f.) he speaks, especially in the last two chapters named, of the "stains of the old man" which still remain in the spirit, like rust which will disappear only under the action of an intense fire. Among the defects of proficients which require "the strong lye of the night of the spirit," he mentions rudeness, impatience, secret pride, unconscious egoism which causes some souls to use spiritual goods in anything but a detached manner, with the result that they fall into illusions. Evidently they lack not only psychological but moral purity. Finally, in the opinion of St. John of the Cross, these passive purifications (which belong to the mystical order) and infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith are indubitably in the normal way of sanctity since he wrote the two following propositions, which are of primary importance in his work: "The passive purification of the senses is common, it takes place in the greater number of beginners"; being passive, it belongs not to the ascetical but to the mystical order.(21) "The soul began to set out on the way of the spirit, the way of proficients, which is also called the illuminative way, or the way of infused contemplation, wherein God Himself teaches and refreshes the soul" (22) St. John of the Cross most certainly wished to note here not something accidental, but something that is produced normally in the way of sanctity when a soul that is truly docile to the Holy Ghost does not recoil in the face of trial.