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Tuesday 20 May 2014

Prayers Please Today

Am working with an artist on possibly publishing in book form all the fairy tales on the blog.

I have more in boxes in storage in Illinois, as I have been writing all my life.

Prayers, please, for the success of this venture.

Last Summer

And before....I did many, many posts on home schooling and religious formation.

Go back and find these in the chronological list at the side.

Here is another one.

The Predominant Fault: Parents Part 14 and Religion Part IX: Section A

Many of my readers have followed the long perfection series and some have been following the series on home schooling.

Now, a happy combination of thoughts allow me to write on both more succinctly. Do you remember in the perfection series when I wrote about Garrigou-Lagrange pointing out that we must deal with our predominant fault? Here are some of those posts.

21 Jul 2012
In Chapter 22, the great Dominican writes of "The Predominant Fault".The holy priest lists most of the obvious sins, but I want to highlight one, but in a different manner. We know that Pride is most likely the worst of all sins and ...

 Etheldredasplace: Perfection Series: Our Predominant Fault Two
22 Jul 2012
Garrigou-Lagrange states that "it is of primary importance that we recognize our predominant fault and have no illusions about it. This is is so much the more necessary as our adversary, the enemy of our soul, knows it quite ...
24 Jul 2012
Perfection Series continued-the predominant fault--four. Posted by Supertradmum. St. Augustine tells us, using Garrigou-Lagrange, that God never asks us to do the impossible. If God desires us to be one with Him and He ...
22 Jul 2012
Our wills must respond to God like a damsel fly in the air, turning directions quickly and deftly. Promptness of will means two things. That we are listening and in sanctifying grace. Garrigou-Lagrange writes, referring to a ...
30 Jan 2013
More than fear as a great evil, the state of living in a hidden sin, allowing one to keep on sinning and not dealing with the predominant fault, keeps people from the Truth, 

Now, here is the really COOL THING. Dr. Montessori in her book on the child in the Church, has a chapter on The Spiritual Training of the Teacher. What is so wonderful is that Dr. Montessori has a Thomistic background. I have another book which is out of print (in a box in Illinois) which are notes of a Thomistic Conference discussing Montessori in terms of Aquinas.

But, this chapter, to which I am referring reveals her deep understanding of the necessity of a teacher, and in this case, a parent, to deal with the predominant fault.

Rightly so, the author points out two of the greatest sins in those who raise and form children.

Pride and anger. Now, one must find out what one's predominant fault is, but I want to emphasize a few points from this chapter.

One, pride is allied, as the good doctor states, to anger, and one reacts to authority in anger when one is proud. For example, and this is my example, some married couples become angry when faced with the Church's teaching against contraception. They make excuses and fall into lies. They believe that NFP is a way of life, instead of a temporary solution to exterior pressures on the family and so on. Such parents are not open to orthodoxy.

Two, Montessori states that we cover up our main fault in two ways. By disguising our fault "under the pretext of noble and necessary duties"and by surrounding ourselves with people who act like we do. Again, in my example, those who do not see that the use of condoms, or the continual use of NFP are sinful acts, surround themselves with like-minded people, including priests whose consciences have been badly formed.

The same is true, Montessori points out, with all the seven deadly sins.  People avoid facing this predominant fault.

Now, to be able to teach and form children, one must deal with both anger and pride. Daily, it becomes more difficult, writes Montessori, in agreement with Garrigou-Lagrange, (it would be interesting to know if she had read him), and one becomes defensive about one's main fault.

Montessori points out that a child, that children, feel the effects of these two main faults, pride and anger. And, in order to deal with these in the teacher, and in my extrapolation, with the parent, the child becomes defensive-fear, deceit, timidity, caprice, and many other signs of unhappiness in the young child can be a result of such.

Let me remind parents of what they know and what Montessori emphasizes. To the young child, an adult in authority represents God Himself. And ,it is only, as she notes, when the child begins to grow up, that the adolescent or adult child realizes the tyranny he may have been under. Old faults or sins in the adult can be traced many times to childhood patterns of dealing with highly imperfect parents.

Anger and pride in a parent seriously effect the home schooling environment. I wish I had been much more aware of the predominant fault when I was raising my son. But, God is good and helps us and our children.

For those who teach, especially parents, the work of perfection is more, then, than one's personal relationship with God. Love, as St. John of the Cross notes, is the goal of perfection. Montessori repeats this by noting St. Paul.

But, as a teacher there is an added dimension. And, here is the key, which must be understood in a special way for Catholics. Charity is absolutely needed in teachers, in parents.

Most teachers in our day and age see two things in children-they either see only the bad for correction or they do not see the goodness which is a result of grace and nature. They see a false interpretation of goodness, denying Original Sin, as many Catholics do, now believing in universal salvation, which creates a false impression of innocence or goodness in the child.

Pay attention to the distinctions here. Maria Montessori warns against confusing real love and seeing goodness with the "vague forms of optimism".  One does not call evil good, but one finds the good which is there always in the person.

Too many parents do not discipline because of their own predominant fault. They do not want anyone telling them what to do in their spiritual lives and therefore, they do not see how this effects their children.

Montessori writes, "The kind of goodness to which everything seems good and evil non-existent is, therefore, something totally different from the charity which is necessary to become good teachers to the young."

She uses an extensive modern comparison in the growing of wheat and corn. The kernel of the truth here, to make a little pun, is that all seeds need nourishment, weak ones and hardy ones. As she states, "Good conquers evil or evil conquers good....The fact is, therefore, that if good things are not nourish, we suffer not only from the lack of them, but also from presence of worse things."

One must cultivate the good in children and that demands real love from the parents Real love, not sentimentality.

I shall continue on this theme in the next post.

Repost for Home Schoolers

Homeschooling Part 20 The Rational Child and Virtues 2

Too many parents have been taught that there is a head-heart dichotomy. Not enough parents understand that the darkening of the intellect is a result of sin.

The intellect and the heart bring one to God, and for the child, both grow together. The idea that a child is not growing intellectually while even in the womb has long been proven false by both science and psychology. Now, the formation of the child and the teaching of the virtues must involve both the heart and the head.

This idea that religion is merely picked up by example has never been  a Catholic idea, but a Protestant one. When the Protestant Revolt threw out tradition and over a thousand years of approaching Faith through Reason, Christianity was doomed to weakness.

The virtues inform both the heart and the intellect and some virtues specifically perfect the intellect.

I shall take the virtues one by one and help the parents who are following this series see that as parents part of their role is not merely loving the child but passing down the Faith both in theory and in practice.

What the Protestant Revolt did and what Satan is doing daily is separating Faith from Reason, heart from intellect.

What has been created in the minds of many contemporary parents is a skewed idea of the normal child.

A normal child develops his character by cooperating with grace in the same manner as an adult does. But, the child is actually more sensitive to his surroundings and to the movements of grace because he has not sinned as much, not because he does not have concupiscence, but because the habits of sinned have not become ingrained.

The habits of virtues, therefore, can be taught more readily to a child than to an adult, who must first be purified of sin, imperfections, the tendencies toward sin and a corrupted imagination.

One can see why early formation in the virtues is key to becoming a saint.  And, this formation does not happen automatically, but under certain conditions.

Order is a sign of a normal child, a child who has been allowed to develop the virtues at an early age. Disorder is a sign of a child who has been denied the opportunity for growth in the virtues. I am not referring to physical or mental illnesses in this or any posts.

The signs of the normalized child were outlined first by Dr. Montessori and some may be surprised by the list.  Now, I must add a distinction here for the sake of clarity. Baptism changes us. It takes away Original Sin, but there is more. I remind parents that we are all born in sin, with a fallen nature, and literally slaves to sin. Here is a list from the CCC as a reminder of the consequences of baptism. I repeat them here to emphasize that in teaching children, there will be a difference in children who are baptized and those who are not.  The entire person is given the Indwelling of the Holy Trinity in mind, soul, body. This makes a difference in formation.

By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin.66 In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam's sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.

The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of justification: 

enabling them to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him through the theological virtues; 

- giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit; 

- allowing them to grow in goodness through the moral virtues. 

Thus the whole organism of the Christian's supernatural life has its roots in Baptism

 Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation.83  Sections 1263- 1272, with some omissions.

I have highlighted the sections pertinent to this post. Remember that personality and character grow together, and that it would be a violence to the child to interrupt the flow of graces given to become the adult he is to become, through Christ and the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Notice how the giving of the infused theological virtues, faith, hope, and charity, and of the cardinal, also called, the moral virtues or intellectual virtues. The source of these virtues is sanctifying grace. I shall go more into detail in the next posts.  Here is a brief note from my perfection guru, Garrigou-Lagrange on this subject.

In conformity with tradition and with a decision of Pope Clement V at the Council of Vienne,(5) the Catechism of the Council of Trent (Part II, On baptism and its effects), answers: "The grace (sanctifying), which baptism confers, is accompanied by the glorious cortege of all the virtues, which, by a special gift of God, penetrate the soul simultaneously with it." This gift is an admirable effect of the Savior's passion which is applied to us by the sacrament of regeneration.
Moreover, in this bestowal of the infused moral virtues, there is a lofty fitness that has been well set forth by St. Thomas.(6) The means, he observes, must be proportioned to the end. By the infused theological virtues we are raised and directed toward the supernatural last end. Hence it is highly fitting that we should be raised and directed by the infused moral virtues in regard to supernatural means capable of leading us to our supernatural end.

In each of these categories, I have placed virtues for the parent to be aware for the sake of helping the child, who is the main creator of himself. With grace, love, the proper environment  character is formed and that involves the mind, the heart, the soul.  I shall continue this in the next several posts. There are subcategories of virtues aligned with the main ones listed above, and all of these can be encouraged in the young child. The cardinal virtues are called such as they are "hinges" like on a door, cardo, in Latin, in Summa de bono,  by Philip the Chancellor, found on this site. 

A child without baptism can develop natural or human virtues, which are good and salutary, but he cannot develop these or have these elevated without grace. Without grace, the life of the virtues becomes anemic, almost impossible to follow, and finally, dies under sin. Now, the signs of the normalized child, character traits which have been enhanced by grace, are these discovered by Montessori:

1) Love of work

(2) Concentration

(3) Self-discipline

(4) Sociability. 

As one who is Montessori trained and one who has worked in several schools, including my own, I can say that I have witnessed this normalization over and over and over. Grace helps the child in these key areas of character development. To be continued....

By the way, parents, if you have not read this book, do so. I taught it along with another of the author and cannot recommend it to highly.

Thoughts on Desires

St. Francis heard God say "Rebuild my house". At first, the saint thought it meant merely rebuilding a small, broken church building. But, God had much bigger plans. St. Francis started small and the Church in Italy and the world was strengthened. Most of us have much smaller callings, such as creating the domestic church  in families, or working in parishes. Some have larger jobs, which call them away from home and homeland. 

Here is the destroyed old church Tintern Abbey, one of my favorite ruins in Great Britain, not too far from a city where I lived, studied and taught. This view and all the ruined churches in England tug at my heart.

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest. 
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed, whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.
   This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
   To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.

Love for a place, for a family, for a person when one is seeking God are good loves. One must be rooted in both the physical and the spiritual to carry out God's plan for one.

I came across a phrase in my reading over the weekend which illuminates the meaning of vocation.

This is a paraphrase.

"The place where God calls us is where the world’s deep hunger and your deep desire meet."

Too many negative Catholics lack imagination and the three theological virtues which propel those who love God into the place where He wants them to be.

Negativity is simply, sin. To live in the virtues means to walk in the way of God, believing in Divine Providence and and trusting totally in God for all of one's needs.

If one is in sanctifying grace, the desires of our purified heart are from God. If one has not let God purify the heart and the mind and the soul, one desires things, money, status, even people are idols.

If one desires the Bridegroom, the Love of God as given in the Person of Christ in and with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one is desiring good things determined by God throughout all time.and before.

How do saints get so much done? They have desire to serve God in the deep recesses of their being, as God called them to do.

And to be...

To be a saint is to know one's self and one's call, to be rooted in reality and not merely spirituality .

Those who are called to the religious life understand the giving up of all. But, lay people are also called to give up all.

The husband is to give up himself daily to his wife and the wife to her husband. If they are given children by God, they sacrifice themselves for their children as well.

Ministry involves passion, not egotism. To be effective in the world, one must have energy to serve God with one's whole heart, mind, soul, and body.

Zeal is not a bad thing, but a good. Christ did not listen to Peter when that man cautioned Him against going to Jerusalem to be killed. Christ said, "Get behind me, Satan." Naysayers to good works which have been placed on the heart by God are speaking from the negativity of Satan.

Again, in another passage, Christ's zeal was shown forth to the world.

John 2:16-18

16 And to them that sold doves he said: Take these things hence, and make not the house of my Father a house of traffic.
17 And his disciples remembered, that it was written: The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up.

For those who have no zeal for the Church, I can only say that they have lost their First Love. Or, perhaps, they have listened to those who want to stop the work of Christ in the world.
My mission territory is Europe. Pray for me and even think outside the box how I can cooperate with the good desires God has put in my heart to serve Him. We shall all rejoice when His work is being done when and where He so desires.


Five years have passed; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a sweet inland murmur. —Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
Which on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts,
Which, at this season, with their unripe fruits,
Among the woods and copses lose themselves,
Nor, with their green and simple hue, disturb
The wild green landscape. Once again I see
These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild; these pastoral farms
Green to the very door; and wreathes of smoke
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees,
With some uncertain notice, as might seem,
Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,
Or of some hermit's cave, where by his fire
The hermit sits alone.

                       Though absent long,
These forms of beauty have not been to me,
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart,
And passing even into my purer mind
With tranquil restoration:—feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure; such, perhaps,
As may have had no trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man's life;
His little, nameless, unremembered acts
Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust,
To them I may have owed another gift,
Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world
Is lighten'd:—that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on,
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame,
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.

                                If this
Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft,
In darkness, and amid the many shapes
Of joyless day-light; when the fretful stir
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world,
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart,
How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee
O sylvan Wye! Thou wanderer through the woods,
How often has my spirit turned to thee!

And now, with gleams of half-extinguish'd thought,
With many recognitions dim and faint,
And somewhat of a sad perplexity,
The picture of the mind revives again:
While here I stand, not only with the sense
Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts
That in this moment there is life and food
For future years. And so I dare to hope
Though changed, no doubt, from what I was, when first
I came among these hills; when like a roe
I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides
Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,
Wherever nature led; more like a man
Flying from something that he dreads, than one
Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then
(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days,
And their glad animal movements all gone by,)
To me was all in all.—I cannot paint
What then I was. The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
An appetite: a feeling and a love,
That had no need of a remoter charm,
By thought supplied, or any interest
Unborrowed from the eye.—That time is past,
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur: other gifts
Have followed, for such loss, I would believe,
Abundant recompence. For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Not harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean, and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man,
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye and ear, both what they half-create, 5
And what perceive; well pleased to recognize
In nature and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.
                       Nor, perchance,
If I were not thus taught, should I the more
Suffer my genial spirits to decay:
For thou art with me, here, upon the banks
Of this fair river; thou, my dearest Friend,
My dear, dear Friend, and in thy voice I catch
The language of my former heart, and read
My former pleasures in the shooting lights
Of thy wild eyes. Oh! yet a little while
May I behold in thee what I was once,
My dear, dear Sister! And this prayer I make,
Knowing that Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege,
Through all the years of this our life, to lead
From joy to joy: for she can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb
Our chearful faith that all which we behold
Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon
Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;
And let the misty mountain winds be free
To blow against thee: and in after years,
When these wild ecstasies shall be matured
Into a sober pleasure, when thy mind
Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,
Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
For all sweet sounds and harmonies; Oh! then,
If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief,
Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts
Of tender joy wilt thou remember me,
And these my exhortations! Nor, perchance,
If I should be, where I no more can hear
Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams
Of past existence, wilt thou then forget
That on the banks of this delightful stream
We stood together; and that I, so long
A worshipper of Nature, hither came,
Unwearied in that service: rather say
With warmer love, oh! with far deeper zeal
Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,
That after many wanderings, many years
Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
And this green pastoral landscape, were to me
More dear, both for themselves, and for thy sake.

New Bishop of Hallam

Which will mean someone new in Gibraltar....

More on Cardinal Manning's Book

but, later...I have been traveling and am tired.

Need some zzzzs.

Catholic Friendship

The poverty of the younger generations is the lack of the ability to make friends. I am not sure why this is so.
Perhaps it has to do with a thought I have shared on this blog before, which is that people who grow up either as only children or one of two may have trouble making friends.

Part of the problem is the sexualization of relationships, so that people do not know how to be friends, but only sexual partners. This emphasis on sex has caused a great diminishing of the love of friendship in society.

I am not sure. All I know is that there has developed an "idolatry" of the family, again, something of which I have written, an idolatry which denies time and effort needed to build Catholic community, which is built on friendship.

The Europeans are so much better at making friends than the Americans. Most Europeans I have met value family, but also make time for friends. I have been wondering at the difference.

Here are some thoughts on the subject.

One, Americans tend to work too much and therefore, their friends are mostly work cohorts and not friends based on mutual interests.

Two, Europeans have gathering places which are conducive to friendship, such as coffee houses and pubs. Taverns in America do not provide the same ambience for discussion and intense sharing.

Three, families are, of course, valued in Europe, but so are friends. Friends are included in family gatherings and there are overlaps between family and friends.

Four, European men and women do not seem afraid to have close friends of the same gender. American men seen afraid of intimate male friendships. American women do not seem to have those fears.

Five, Catholic men gather for utilitarian reasons but not for philosophical or theological reasons in America. This is not good, as friendship is not merely building houses or doing finances for various groups, but discussing real issues.

Six, friendships take time. Too many people do not make time to cultivate friends. I try to meet my best friend in Iowa at least once a month if not once every three weeks. We have been close friends for eight years, and despite three years apart, picked up just where we left off. This is a test of real friendship.

Seven, good friends bring one closer to Christ and closer to Mary. One must choose one's friends carefully and not settle for false relationships.

More later..

Nice To Be Back in Net Land And on Spiritual Directors, Again

Well, I am finally back in an area with the Net. I did manage two short trips to coffee shops over the long weekend, but am relieved to have regular access for the duration.

Someone asked me how to spot a good spiritual director. I have written on s.ds. before, but here are some tips. Look at the posts via the tags for more.

1) Listen to the sermons of the priest you are considering to ask for direction. By listening, you will learn if the priest is orthodox or not.

2) Go to confession several times to the priest you are considering. One learns a lot about a priest's ability to listen carefully, and discern in the confessional.

3) Ask the priest if he understands the way of perfection, the Dark Night and so on. If he does not, he will not be an adequate s.d.

4) Ask the priest who his favorite spiritual authors are. If the priest states St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. John of the Cross or Garrigou=Lagrange, he will be a good director.

5) Read any books or articles the priest may have written. Years ago, I approach a famous author of spirituality to be my s.d. He said yes, although, he added, that he had never been asked before that day. I was astounded. But, for three years, he was a superb director.

6) Pray and ask God to lead you to the right priest.

7) Pray more.....