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Thursday 3 July 2014

Are you paying attention? Two items....

New Obama Law
(Bill "H.R. #2847") passed July 1, 2014



Happy Feast of St. Thomas

Warm Hearts and Warm Food

I am in Davenport, Iowa for two weeks. Sitting in the Locust Street HyVee, I have just met Dan, the manager. I have known Kelly, who works here, since my son was a kid eating tons of Chinese dinners.

The new cafe is fantastic, with free wifi and excellent food.

Breakfast on Thursday is made up of two eggs, hash browns and two large pieces of whole-wheat bread, that is, four slices of thick toast.

Price? $4.99 plus a discount.

And the coffee is great.

Some come here to watch the sports television and eat-so IOWA. Tennis is on now. WIMBLEDON.

If you are in the area, go here and say I sent you. It is crowded-always a good sign for cafes.

Great service as well...It ain't purdy on the outside, but where there are warm hearts and warm food, plus wifi, that is OK with me.

The Inside, Not The Outside

St. Augustine, as quoted by Garrigou-Lagrange, notes that ours is an “evening vision”. We do not have the perfect wisdom of God to understand, or even know, the reasons and consequences of events in our lives.

The Dominican writes this: “Do what we may, we here on earth see the spiritual and the divine only through their reflection in material things. It is owing to this that we attach immense importance to material happenings, such as the loss of an eye, whereas events of the spiritual world, with consequences that are incalculable, are allowed to pass almost unnoticed, such as an act of charity in the order of goodness, or in the sphere of evil a mortal sin. In other words, we see the spiritual and the diine as in the twilight, in the shadow of the sensible…”

A priest friend of mine told me months ago that the psychologists and psychiatrists connected to a famous, local, university hospital were worse than useless at curing their patients. He noted that they only attempt to cure the physical, and, as agnostics or atheists, ignore the real source of many mental problems, the soul.

His interpretation was shared with person who is dealing with a bi-polar son and this woman disagreed, as she could not see the connection, the underlying reality that the soul forms the body, and that disturbances in the soul will, obviously, affect the brain.

The glorification of material science over theology and philosophy creates a false science of psychology, unless this newer science deals with the soul.

God in the greatness of His all-illuminating Wisdom sees the material in the greater context of the spiritual.

Here is Garrigou-Lagrange again: “It is not through the body that God views the soul of the just; it is rather through the soul that He views the body as a sort of radiation of the soul. Hence, His sight is not dazzled by outward show, by wealth and its trappings; what counts with God is charity. A beggar in rags but with the heart of a saint, is of incomparably greater worth in the sight of God than a Caesar in all the splendour of his human glory.”

St. Benedict Labre, as well as St. Joseph Cupertino, are two of my personal patrons.

Great saints on the inside, as it were, but hidden from the sight of so many….

To be continued…

Sometimes, it is difficult to smile at Him

Years ago, the woman who stood up in my wedding as matron of honor told me to “transcend difficulties”. I had to do this, as circumstances forced me to do so.  This great lady was almost my mother’s age, but a good friend of mine. She had been raised in India, in the Raj. Her father died early. Then, she and her mother came back to London to live. She had to leave her mom and live on a farm, as she was young enough to be sent out of harm’s way during the Blitz of London. Later, she married a wonderful man, but only had two children.

She and her husband took care of her mother until that old woman died. Her mother never learned to cook, or sew, or clean, as when she grew up, she had seventeen servants and lived in the luxury of the English in India. My friend had to pay for all her mother’s many needs.  As a person with many hardships to bear, my friend knew how to “transcend” trials. She was “self-possessed”; that is, she had control over her emotions, mind, soul. She was a peaceful woman. Another friend of mine is the same way. She is in her nineties and had an extremely hard life, living with a husband who was ill all their married life. She, too, was and is, “self-possessed”, able to transcend all types of difficulties.

This type of transcendence and self-control only comes with humility and prayer. There is a reality about people who live transcendently. Garrigou-Lagrange writes that we must become closer to God daily in simplicity of heart, “…without which there can be no contemplation of God and no true love.”

What does he mean by this? The death of the ego is the beginning of this emptying of the heart. Egotism must go, must, as I have written many times on this blog.

If we are “too full of ourselves”, there is no room for God. We must not desire attention, or fame, or status, or riches. We must find contentment in what is given to us. We must transcend the trials put on our paths. We need to meditate, and then, to contemplate.

Contemplation is not meditation, again, as I have noted on this blog. Contemplation, whether active, or passive, demands focusing on God Himself, and not on ourselves.

Do we think of ourselves and our problem before Christ in Adoration, or do we immerse ourselves in Him? Do we come with the proverbial laundry list of prayers, or do we just, like Mary of Bethany, sit in His Presence?

Purity of heart, mind, and soul comes with a combination of prayer and sheer gift. Some great saints have these gifts early. Most of us must walk the road of travail and suffering to get to such purity.  We must choose mortification, however, as the given trials may not be enough.

We may not become great saints, few of us will be Padre Pios or Mother Teresas. However, all of us are called to be saints and that means we are all called to purification and perfection.

It is rather ironic that I always  think and sometimes write that “this is my last post on perfection” but I can now see that as I learn and grow, taking the long road through suffering and dying to self.  May God be patient with me. Let me return to Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

My favorite photo of Mother Teresa is not one of her with her beloved dying, or with St. John Paul II, but one of her alone in prayer. Like all saints, like Christ, she needed to be alone with God. Sister Agnes, her helper, said once, “Every day we have Mass, half an hour of meditation, morning prayer, afternoon prayer, and in the evening we have a full hour of Adoration. It would not be possible to work otherwise. There must be a spiritual motive. You can work only for God. You can never work for any man.”

Mother Teresa said, “That is why we begin and end the day with prayer, because, when we pray, we are touching the body of Christ.  You people in the world might not have the time or leisure to pray. It is a beautiful gift of God for us to have that amount of time.”

We must make time. We must.

Mother Teresa also said, “I am not afraid to say I am in love with Jesus because He is everything to me.”

For all Catholics, our work should be for Jesus, and He can be All in All.

Here is the voice of a simple heart. Mother Teresa states that chastity is “undivided love”, that poverty is “freedom”, that total surrender is “obedience”.

“If I belong to God, if I belong to Christ, then He must be able to use me. That is obedience. ….If you really belong to the work that has been entrusted to you, then you must do it with your whole heart.  And you can bring salvation only by being honest and by really working with God. It is not how much we are doing, but how much love, how much honesty, how much faith, is put into doing it. It makes no difference what we are doing. What you are doing, I cannot do, and what I am doing, you cannot do. But all of us are doing what God have given us to do. ….”

And, I love Mother Teresa for saying this-as I have experienced the disrespect which comes to the poor, even from priests, sadly.

“The poor are not respected. People do not think that the poor can be treated as people who are lovable, as people like you and I. You know, the young are beginning to understand. They want to serve with their hands. And to love with their hearts. To the full, not superficially.”

I believe this as I believe that in the remnant will be many young people who have sought and found love.

And, Mother Teresa’s comment about doing the work God has called us to do is also a call to humility. Sometimes people want desperately to do something big for God. But, sometimes, we are called to do something small for God.

I blog. I pray. I do dishes, clean, do laundry, make coffee, take walks. Nothing grand in all of this… but more than that, I love. I am learning daily to live in love, to choose love, to walk, clean, make coffee in love. I blog in love, as that is what God wants me to do right now.

There is nothing to do but to love.

Some of us learn this by loving and being loved by another. Some of us learn this directly from Jesus, the Bridegroom. Either way, love hurts.

“True love hurts. It always has to hurt. It must be painful to love someone, painful to leave them, you might have to die for them. ….A young American couple told me once, ‘You know a lot about love; you must be married.’ And I said, Yes, but sometimes I find it difficult to smile at Him.”

Sweating the Small Stuff

I have been observing something in the past week, and I asked a question concerning this observation. I am typing this in a car, in a parking lot, waiting for people. I never waste time. If I am waiting for the bus, I say a rosary. We do not have much time to become holy.

Here is the question and the answer;

Why are so many people upset about small things? Why are so many American preoccupied with trivia and with the minutiae of passing things?

Garrigou-Lagrange answers this question:

God’s simplicity…is an unalterable unity, the simplicity of unchanging wisdom and of the purest and strongest love of the good, remaining ever the same and infinitely surpassing our susceptibility and unstable opinions…

The complex soul, on the other hand, is one that bases all its judgments on the varying impressions caused by the emotions and that desires things from motives of self-interest with its changing caprices, now clinging to them obstinately, now changing with every mood or time and circumstances. And whereas the complex soul is agitated by mere trifles, the soul that has acquired its wisdom and unselfish love, is always at rest.”

There is an entire group of people who have not found this wisdom and unselfish love, which brings rest. They complain, almost constantly, and they lack simplicity of heart and soul and mind.

Garrigou-Lagrange refers to Bossuet, “This simplicity, says Bossuet, enables an introverted soul to comprehend even the heights of God, the ways of Providence, the unfathomable mysteries to which a complex soul are a scandal, the mysteries of infinite justice and mercy, and the supreme liberty of the divine good pleasure. “

This tendency to gripe and be negative among some shows me that those who are speaking are hurt, wounded, far from peace of mind and heart and soul.

How to bring such fellow humans to this peace is another question. One can begin with prayer.

Some of my relatives hate poverty so much that they cannot see the value of not having things, the freedom which the non-accumulation of wealth can bring. All they see is the shame, or the lack of status. They do not talk to me.

But, for those of us who have been or are being stripped of things and status, poverty is sheer gift. One cannot, as Garrigou-Lagrange notes, fall into naïveté, or shallowness, or stupidity, but one can choose a more perfect way, the shortcut to perfection. If God chooses it for us, it is less perfect, but can lead to perfection.

Garrigou-Lagrange points to the holiness of Jesus for a model of simplicity. He recalls Christ’s answer to the Pharisees, “’Which of you shall convince me of sin…’ Their duplicity aroused His holy indignation: ‘Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men, for you yourselves do not enter in; and those that are going in, you suffer not to enter…Woe to you, blind guides…you are like to whited sepulchers, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men’s bones, and of all filthiness…’”

Of course, the key to this holiness is humility, and the key to not being complex is humility.

Pride causes complaining and irritation. Ask yourself this question today: “About what do I get upset?”

Sadly, priests are not helping the elderly get to heaven. Too many priests are the blind guides. They have not pursued holiness, and therefore, they do not know how to help others get there. Many older people have not reached wisdom and unselfish love. Why?

Why? Why?

To be continued…

Attributes continued...

Attributes Continued….

Simplicity must be sought. For some, it comes “naturally,” or at least, it seems like that. Saints like St. John Vianney or Our Lady Mary seem to have “natural” simplicity. But, this focus on God is a great grace. It is not only the grace of humility but the grace of focusing on love.

Love is the answer, as both Julian of Norwich and T. S. Eliot, who repeats her ideas, note. Love is the answer to all pride and negativity. Those who complain focus only on themselves and their own grievances. They have fallen into habits of selfishness, either repeating past hurts or dwelling on a lack of forgiveness. Love forgives and forgets.

Sometimes such negativity is a sign of depression, or some mental illness, but mostly, it is a sign of a lack of understanding of the love of God.

Garrigou-Lagrange states something important: “In us temperament is determined in one particular direction inclining us either to indulgence or to severity, to a broad and comprehensive view of things, or to practical details, but never both ways at once. If, then, the soul with perfect simplicity practices at one and the same time virtues that are apparently extreme opposites, it is because almighty God is very intimately present in the soul, impressing His likeness upon it.”

I pray for these graces.

I think of St. Paul’s verse on knowing how to enjoy plenty and how to be peaceful in want. The real peace which passes all understanding causes this in the open soul. We have the greatest example of such self-possession in Christ.

Can we all desire this gift of freedom, of simplicity in Christ?  Simplicity is one of the Attributes of God, which is most difficult to understand. Sometimes it is easier to understand something by looking at the opposite. See my attribute series.

When I am really old, I want to be peaceful with whatever comes: greater poverty, illness, weakness, loneliness, whatever.

One does not wait until old age to practice peace. One finds it early so that it can become a habit, a way of life, the life of being humble.

To be continued…

Fools for Christ

Perhaps those of us who have suffered different types of loss and failure can more easily crawl to the Feet of Christ and beg mercy. Perhaps those little ones, who have never been tempted to greatness, or high status, or have never had the chance to become rich are more fortunate than those who have been blessed by God. God does bless many people with gifts or riches, and these can be a way to holiness.

For example, to those to whom much is given, much is expected. Therefore, those who have been given many things are called to be generous or to give it all away and be, like St. Francis or St. Bernard, and choose voluntary poverty.

The way to holiness is as distinct and as unique as every person ever created.

The lives of the saints reveal the lifestyles of those who were rich and those who were poor. The lives of the saints reveals those who were middle class, those in business, in the military, in teaching, artists, actors, farmers, stewards.

But, whatever we do and whoever we are, we are all called to perfection, which is our participation in God.

Because of time constraints in my life now, I am not going to write about the Attributes of God as Infinite, Immense, Eternal, or Incomprehensible. I shall return to those later.

Skipping a few chapters to “ The Wisdom of God” and  “The Will and Holy Love of God” in Garrigou-Lagrange’s book, I want to emphasize a few ideas from these two chapters before moving back to a review of what I highlighted a month ago on Divine Providence.

Garrigou-Lagrange writes that the two “great attributes” of God’s intellect are wisdom and providence.


However, the author notes this: “…free will is an absolute perfection resulting from the intellect. The act of the divine will is love, and its two great virtues are justice and mercy.”

Love is in the will. Those of us who have been married, or who are married, know this truth. Love is not in the emotions, but in the intellect, in the act of the will. One loves whether one feels like it or not. This is the wisdom of love.

But, the wisdom of God must be understood, not we see the wisdom of the world, but as something else.

An entire paragraph is worth repeating: “That wisdom is a comprehensive view embracing all things, everyone is agreed. But after that, what divergences there are! We may view things from above, believing that they all proceed from a holy love, or at least are permitted by it, and that all things converge upon one supreme good. Or we may view things from below, considering them the result of a material, blind fatality without any ultimate purpose. Another divergence is that there is a wisdom characterized by a false optimism, shutting its eyes to the existence of evil, and there is a pessimistic, depressing wisdom that see no good in anything.”

In my immediate circle of persons at this time, I meet all these types of wisdom. The first is the wisdom of the saint. The second is the wisdom of the atheist, and the third is the wisdom of the consumerist. The fourth is the wisdom of the cynic, whether young or old.

Those who see things in only materialistic terms, not considering the soul, fall into the second category, whether avowed atheists or practical atheists. Many psychologists and psychiatrists fall into this category, trying to heal a human without considering the soul.

As Garrigou-Lagrange notes, “To adopt this attitude in our estimation of things, is to make of self the center of all things, unwittingly to adore self. Practically it amounts to a denial of God and a looking upon others as, so to speak, non-existent.”

Many people I know well, at this time, fall into this category, as do so many Americans. I pray daily for their conversion. Garrigou-Lagrange sadly writes that this way is the way of mediocrity and that those of us who aspire to Christian perfection are seen involved, “as much an excess in one direction as downright wickedness is in the other.”

If you are not understood by those around you, it is because they are stuck in the wisdom of the world. This following selection from Garrigou-Lagrange – describes my life. ”We must avoid extremes in everything, we are told. And so the mediocre comes to be called good, whereas it is nothing but an unstable, confused state lying between the good and the bad…Instead of rising higher, a man will remain permanently halfway. Hence the word charity is sometimes applied to a reprehensible moderation, this ‘wisdom of the flesh’ is equally indulgent to vice and indifferent to virtue.”

To choose to live the Gospel and live in the love of God causes division. Many cannot understand.

Scary that so many of us are separated from loved ones because they simply cannot understand our decision to follow Christ fully.

Such wisdom of God, we are reminded in the text, when the author quotes St. Paul, is the “foolishness of God”.

Many Catholics live in mediocrity and criticize those of us who choose not to do so as “fools” or even irresponsible. Why?

Because our lives are simply not understood by those who live in the wisdom of the world, we are called fools.

Sadly, the modern Church has not spoken out against mediocrity enough. Even at the TLMs, too many sermons are on subjects which no longer challenge those of us in the pews.

God’s wisdom is a “luminous knowledge” of Himself and all things. This light can be shared with us to some extent.

I shall return to this topic …to be continued…

Read This, Please

More Weather Forecasted

We are entering into more storms....I hope to blog today more, but cannot say for sure.

Note This


Join the Rally for Life, Belfast, Sat 5 July

Liam Gibson of SPUC Northern Ireland writes:
"In a little under a week people from all over Ireland will converge on Belfast for the 8th annual Rally for Life. The rally will set-off from Custom House Square at 2pm, 5th July. As always it promises to be an enjoyable event for all the family.

Last July the rally brought the centre of Dublin to a standstill as an estimated 60,000 people turned out to protest against the Irish governments plans to legalise abortion. Despite this unprecedented level of public opposition the Irish abortion law, the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act (sic), came into effect on 1st January this year. Experience shows that when abortion is legalised it quickly becomes acceptable to the general public. But there is never an acceptable level of abortion, either it is stopped or the killing spreads. Already there is mounting pressure on both sides of the Border to permit the abortion of children with disabilities.

The victory of the abortion lobby in Ireland was a defeat for the pro-life movement globally. The politicians and abortion advocates are now watching how we react. They're looking for signs that we will simply give-up and go away so they can get on with legalising abortion on demand. If the people who came on to the streets last year don't want to see a further expansion of abortion in Ireland they cannot afford to stay at home Saturday 5th July."
Here are videos of the 2012 and 2013 rallies:

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From A Priest Reader