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Saturday 9 August 2014

Popular Repeat Post 5

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Be watchful, but do not watch Hollywood...

Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Many social commentators, including Christians, see the 1960s as the turning point in American morals.

I disagree. Looking at some of the cultural icons in fashion and entertainment from thirty years earlier, I have discovered several trends which were already forming the minds of youth as early as the mid-thirties. My mini-thesis is that what happened in the sixties was already in the culture, already becoming main-stream.

In the past few weeks, I have been doing a little reflection on this blog on entertainment. I have been introduced to a short history of entertainment in America, and I have been truly shocked at what I have been discovering. 

If one actually listens to the words of songs and follows stories, one sees the unraveling of morals much earlier than most people want to admit.

We have an idea of an America which was morally homogeneous before WWII. This is not true.

As earlier as the mid-1930s, loose sexual morality was more than hinted at in famous movies, such as the famous ones of Fred Astaire. I want to list some of the serious anti-Christian points made in movies which were supposed to be entertainment, and not serious drama since about 1935.

The reason why such a reflection is important is that the movies were aimed at taking people out of the sadness of the financial depression and also to prepare them for war, as the war effort in manufacturing began years before America actually came into WWII.

This is happening now, as people are still using movies and television to escape from the reality of the spiritual life and the reality of hardships.

Here are some of the points I have gleaned by examining some of the most popular movies of the 1930s and 1940s.

One, men were already being depicted as weak in sexual matters, and sex before marriage was strongly hinted at, if not portrayed. 

Two, men did not want to get married and were frequently tricked into it by the scheming women.

Three, women and men did not reveal respectful relationships, speaking rudely with each other and being sarcastic.

Four, entertainment was being pushed within entertainment, in obvious self-promotion. How many movies actually involved stories about plays, shows, dances, etc., revealing this obsession with promoting Hollywood?

Five, marriage was based on sex and not on homemaking or children.

Six, lies in relationships were common and accepted as either cute or necessary. Lying was used to get the girl or get the man and so on.

Seven, selfishness were rewarded in men especially. 

Eight, women were portrayed as having to pretend to be stupid in order to "get the guy".

Nine, yelling in movies and even arguing was considered normal in couples who were supposed to be in love.

Ten, rarely were children discussed as part of the future marriages and, in fact, many of the couples just went into show-business; see point four.

Eleven, women had to manipulate "to get the guy", either in lying, or in changing their looks or even compromising their ideals.

Twelve, romance never, never included God or a spiritual dimension.

All of these American characteristics show a contempt of most of the virtues. They relationships between the couples depended on exterior beauty and sex.

Now, some readers would say these early movies were harmless. I disagree. 

The formation of conscience is a delicate and steady process. The conscience needs to be cultivated with a long perspective of truth and prayer.

Sadly, in the States, billions of dollars has been spent over the last century on entertainment. Gone by the 1930s were the ideals of family, brought back briefly after the War, when people were settling down again.

I challenge readers to really listen to the words of the songs that were sung, the attitudes in the relationships, and the general atmosphere of the stories.

A culture does not suddenly decay. The process is long and complicated. I would state that several generations, before the wild sixties, engaged in watching stories which were just as damaging as those thirty years later.

to be continued....

Repeat Post 4

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Pay Attention, Get Ready, Pray

“My God and all things.”
What have the Illuminative State and the Unitive State have to do with Catholics in this time of coming trials?
Some readers understand that only those who truly love God and His Church will be able to withstand the tribulations to come. And, this fact has always been so in times of trouble for the Church. The great martyrs, such as St. John Houghton and his companions, mentioned many times on this blog, were ready for the horrible torments they suffered at Tyburn.
But, the ability to withstand physical pain and endure martyrdom to receive the palm of victory are not the only reasons for pursuing the way of perfection now, in these times of uncertainty.
As I have noted many times, the Church realizes a strength and perfection if Her members are perfected, and experiences weakness and loss, if Her members do not pursue the love of God in all things.
But, the Illuminative and Unitive States of the saint do much more than strengthen the Church. These states bring God into the midst of humankind.
Because in these states, the person is one with God as far as possible on this earth, there is a unity of God and person in the Trinity.  In other words, God is present in the person experiencing this transcendent relationship, and that person is in God in all Three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Such a transcendent relationship cannot help but change the world, as God is Present in, with, and through the person.  The person communicates God to all.
This powerful experience of the Divine brings life, God’s life, to the world in an overflowing of love.
Of course, the problem is that most of the time, the world does not want this love and purposefully thwarts those who bring the Trinity into its midst.
Such is the irony of the human condition, that the very persons who could and do change the world are usually the ones persecuted by the world.
That God reveals His attributes to the person in these states means that the person experiences, understands and lives in beauty, truth, wisdom, peace, and so on.
Such is the witness of the saint.
That some people do not experience this oneness with God, this spiritual marriage, until right before death does not diminish the witness. However, as we see in the lives of the saints, those generous souls who have allowed God to perfect them give us a tremendous witness of love and grace.
Just think of the cloud of witnesses, like Theresa, the Little Flower, Gemma Galgani, Edmund Campion, Oliver Plunkett, Pius X, Fulton J. Sheen and so on--these men and women who give us a glimpse of life in the Trinity.
There is too much facile theology floating around about living in the life of the Trinity. That we are given this life in baptism and confirmation is true, but that those graces can only be released through purgation of sin and the tendency to sin is also true.
You will know if you are in the presence of one who is in the Illuminative or Unitive State. You will know if you are in the presence of a saint.
Sadly, this does not happen often enough in our day and age, as there are so many choices and so many distractions for most people.
I have met many people in the Dark Night and even the last stages of the Dark Night. I saw twice, and touched once, Blessed John Paul II, but before his long purgation and suffering. I believe we watched him become a saint.
Some readers may have met saints, even some who have been martyred.  Those Catholics are role models for all of us.
As to the main thesis of this post, that these states most likely are necessary for Catholics to withstand the coming persecutions, I would say that those who went before us were a bit smarter at reading the signs of the times.
I cannot imagine that the earliest Catholics were caught off guard concerning trials. And, it is obvious that such saints as Edmund Campion were trained to face the certain death when leaving the Venerable English College in Rome and traveling to England. As some of you know, St. Philip Neri would stand outside the Venerabile and bless those young priests going to England, saying, “There go the Flowers of the Martyrs”.
Are you preparing yourself and your children for trials by pursuing holiness, which is another word for perfection?
Are you too caught up in trivia to make holiness a priority in your family? Are you all pursuing sports, entertainments, unnecessary shopping, vacations, and ignoring prayer, formation, penances, frequent confession and Holy Communion?
Are you acting as if your children will not need to be different, special, super-Catholics and saints in the days to come?
Do you think they will face a world like yours and mine growing up?
Are you forming saints? I see too many families wasting time on trivia.
Do not lie to yourselves and think holiness just “happens”.  Even St. Thomas More admitted that he needed his long time in prison to get ready for death after watching the singing of the Charterhouse monks, going to their deaths, “like bridegrooms to the wedding.”
Such are the actions of the perfect, those who have gone through the Illuminative and Unitive States, and bear witness joyfully to the vision of the Trinity in the world.
I have met many people lately who are acting as if they have all the time in the world to pursue holiness. I have met too many people who are in denial regarding the signs of the times. And, these people are not young.
I have met too many people who think Catholics can live in America or Europe with the freedoms experienced by their forefathers.
I have met too many people who are wasting time and may be swept away, and compromise when the going gets tough.
For the past several weeks, the urgency of allowing God to make one holy has been a recurring theme on this blog.
God is pouring out His grace and mercy on us now.  The time of grace will end. Look the history of the Church.
Do not think you can act as you have always acted.
When the Son of Man comes, all will be as it was in the days of Noe; in those days before the flood, they went on eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the time when Noe entered the ark, and they were taken unawares, when the flood came and drowned them all; so it will be a the coming of the Son of Man.”
Matthew 24:37-39
Let these ideals be your guide. Be open to suffering anything in order to become one with God. Be generous is saying yes to graces God wants to give.  Be willing to be different than all those around you and your families-even other Catholics who are not paying attention.
Give yourselves to God entirely now.  Then, like St. Francis, as quoted by St. John of the Cross, you will be able to pray, “My God and all things.”
To be continued….

Re-peat Post 3

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Who Is The Elite? Who Is Transforming Your Children?

Why did Italy put this man on one of the national stamps? This happened in 1987. The world was very asleep then. Now, more Catholics are waking-up to the tyranny which is and has been forming the minds, the souls of your children.

I do hope, as I noted on this blog a few weeks ago, that Antonio Gramsci converted on his deathbed. I use to keep two lists on my dorm door at college. One was the list of home-schooled greats-like Dorothy Sayers. The other was a list of deathbed conversions. These lists were reminders to me and to my hall-mates that an alternative lifestyle was better than conformity to the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Many posts on this blog are about the cleansing of the imagination. Many posts on this blog are about the necessity of moving out of the world in one's mind and spirit, even though one has to work in the world.

As laity, we are in the world, but not of the world.

The culture has moved beyond saving in the areas of morals. It is highly unlikely, unless there is a huge catastrophe, that people will change.

Let me go back to Gramsci again.

He wanted education to be taken out of the hands of the "elite". Now, what we see as the elite are the atheists and agnostics who have taken over the universities, colleges, high schools and elementary schools. In Gramsci's time, the elite were Catholic intellectuals, not Marxists. They were men, mostly, who were educated in the classical tradition and who were conservative.

His kulturkampf succeeded in removing the traditional elite and supplanting that group with those we see now in charge of all levels of education-ie. Core Curriculum.

Gramsci's vision is now American's vision, replacing the philosophies of Western Civilization, such as natural law philosophy, the Rule of Law, Catholicism, and so on.

Gramsci and his followers wrote that the elite would form the child. Of course, this is the duty of parents, not schools, who should be working with parents and not against parents in the formation of the child.

I have studied and shared on this blog the various Catholic educational methods of formation-see the links below. That the Marxists have succeeded in taking over what parents declined to do is obvious now.

However, Catholics are still not responding to this situation of the brain-washing of children by the State. The fact that all those dioceses have accepted the Core Curriculum, again noted on this blog earlier, demonstrates both the level of deceit and the level of complicity with the State in undermining both the authority of the parent over the formation of the child and the creation of a morally bankrupt generation, again.

Commentaries on Gramsci use the term "transformer" with regard to schools.

I hope readers are getting really scared. Your children are being transformed into persons who will not share your beliefs on natural law, the Rule of Law,

By the way, these ideas of Gramsci were disseminated around the world-not just in Europe. Marxists active in both North and South America, Central America, and, of course, parts of Asia and Africa have founded the new elite. To see who members of this new elite actually are, just look at the MPs in Great Britain, Ireland, the Hague.

Tyranny does not take over in a day. Two idols have been worshiped by some Catholics to bring us to this crisis in the culture. The first, the biggest idol, is money.

The second is conformity-the false American ideal of Americanism.

And back to my entertainment theme this month-look here for the source this phrase.

Certainly, nearly all major writers, artists and film-makers of post-Second World War Italy were to a greater or lesser extent influenced by his mighty presence in the recent past. 

And for those who tell me Marxism is a dead and spent ideology in Europe (rofl), check this out for one indication of new life. 

to be continued...

Re-peat post 2

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Catholic Disconnection

When I was very young, The Red Balloon was one of my favourite movies. In this classic film, a child has no friends but a balloon. When the "thug" kids in the neighborhood become jealous and destroy the red balloon, the balloons of the city come and take the boy away.

The story is poignant at many levels.

One of the main characteristics of an adult is the ability to face reality and hardships without running away.

In common parlance, the "fight or flight" syndrome is a real issue of people under stress. Physical symptoms can be attached.

But, a recent study in the United States indicated that up to 60% of Americans have an addictive personality, which means that flight can be a running into drugs, television, computer games, compulsive lying, alcohol, excessive shopping, even promiscuity and pornography. All of these addictions can result in negativity, as one is never satisfied with the object of the addiction, be it television or drugs. This negativity becomes a habit, and destroys faith, hope and love.

What has escapism to do with the lack of holiness?

The person who is trying to pursue holiness must be grounded in reality.

The problem with so many Catholics is that they have lost the ability to live in the present moment, which is the only moment in which we meet God.

Escapism, or running after other things, which become idols, take people away from God and substitute the things for His love.

Sometimes fear or anxieties push people into addictive behavior. And, much of it is condoned by the public.

I know, for example, one young person who saw three movies with friends over the Thanksgiving break.

This may be considered normal by some but indicates an emotional reliance on passive entertainment.

I know a family which watches television six or seven hours a day. This reveals to me an addiction, an escape.

Perhaps these people are escaping loneliness, or truth in their lives.

According to studies, people who watch more than four hours of television a day have a television addiction which keeps them from socializing with others and being involved in meaningful activities.

All of these addictions take a person away from God. But, our entire culture in America does not see the spiritual dangers of such behavior. In this culture where noise and entertainment fill up hours of the day and night, the times for reflection and prayer are wasted away.

In addition, as noted on this blog not too long ago, the passive capacity for contemplative prayer is ruined, as the brain function created by God is filled with nonsense.

Holiness cannot be found in escapism. Holiness is rooted in who we are interacting with other people and being involved in activities which feed the soul.

Starting in the early 2000s, I used an book called Bowling Alone in some of my classes. The author, Robert Putnam, showed, in extensive research, that America had changed from community-minded, socially localized groupings of people to a harsh world of individualism, loneliness, and the breakdown of relationships. Some of the results of these breakdowns of normal human activity was the falling away of communal, physical entertainment and the falling off of volunteerism. But, the family was also infected with gross individualism.

The effects of the decay of the community, and the family, which is the unit of community, has many causes.

But, for the sake of this short article, how Catholics are affected is my concern.

The call to Catholicism is one of community. The call to Christ brings one into the community of the Church. A person becomes a brother, a sister, in Christ.

I see a hardening of hearts across both America and Europe which interferes with the family relationships which should be seen in the Church. 

For example, my diocese has had no Catholic Charities for years.

Several friends of mine who are very poor cannot find help for severe financing difficulties and no one in their parishes help them. I know of a family with a person with mental problems who has been ostracized by the family and by the Church community because of the difficulties.

Escapism allows people to ignore and turn away from suffering. Escapism creates false worlds of stupor and unreality.

Without God as the center of our lives, escapism becomes the route to solving the questions of suffering and pain.

The Denial of Peter is in the Gospels for a reason. God wanted us to see a person who tried to escape pain and suffering by lying, by deceit. That Peter repented and came to know the love and forgiveness of God is a direct result of his faith in Christ. He stopped running away twice. Quo Vadis, Petrus?

Can we help those who are escaping stop and see that Christ loves them?

Sadly, many of those who are running away do not want to hear the Gospel, the Good News.

Salvation is not merely for the afterlife, it is for now. God wants us whole and healed. The Church needs strong, healthy, holy people

As long as Catholics run away from pain, from quiet, from reflection, they will not be able to see God and become holy.

Of all the problems of the Western World which have caused the demise of the family and the apostasy of the laity and the clergy, escapism may be the biggest problem.

A disconnection with reality, with one's own soul, with the souls of others are states which are destroying our country. Those who are disconnected are now running the show. Narcissism is a form of disconnection.

Those who are disconnected have voted in the disconnected....

God is in the details of our daily lives. Do not run away.

To run away from life is to run away from God.

I am seriously considering giving up movies, which I really enjoy, as a penance for those who are addicted to tv and movies.

to be continued....

Repeat of Popular Post

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Great Evil of Entertainment

For a long time, I have been pondering the effect of too much entertainment in the Western cultures. I cannot speak of other cultures, but it is clear to me that the preoccupation with sports, movies, computer games, and other forms of entertainment cause a blindness to the growth of the spiritual life not only among youth, but those of middle age and elderly people.

The seeking of entertainment destroys several aspects of the pursuit of the spiritual life.

I hope my readers can see through these problems and be honest with themselves concerning the amount of time and money which is spent on entertainment.

Bread and circuses killed the Roman Empire, as entertainment became more important that work or the interior life.

People think they need entertainment weekly, even daily. They think they need entertainment.

Now, there are novels and movies which teach morals and may be helpful for people to understand the spiritual life and the need for redemption in humanity. We all know these great books and some of the movies which have been made from them.

However, entertainment takes us away from the real reason we are here, to become holy, to gain salvation, to become one with Christ and to lead others to Christ.

We are addicted to entertainment, which feeds the passive part of us which should used for meditation and contemplative prayer.

I have shared on this blog the great insight of Thomas Merton on the biggest danger of television-that the passivity which one approaches tv is the aspect, the gift of the mind and soul for passive prayer. The television takes over this part of the human soul and mind and perverts the natural course of learning to be passive in the Presence of God.

"I am certainly no judge of television, since I have never watched it. All I know is that there is a sufficiently general agreement, among men whose judgment I respect, that commercial television is degraded, meretricious and absurd. Certainly it would seem that TV could become a kind of unnatural surrogate for contemplation: a completely inert subjection to vulgar images, a descent to a sub-natural passivity rather than an ascent to a supremely active passivity in understanding and love. It would seem that television should be used with extreme care and discrimination by anyone who might hope to take interior life seriously." (86) Seeds of Contemplation

Think of this--that the capacity for contemplation, the capacity which God created in each person for an intimate relationship with Him, has been perverted by television and other passive forms of entertainment.

God created us for Himself, and we must protect our imaginations, minds, souls, bodies from the pollution of false ideals which flood into us through all types of entertainment.

But, more than that, the actual act of passivity, the interaction of the passive and the soul, is being destroyed by this incursion into a part of us created by God to bring us into union with Him.

I want you to ask yourself a few honest questions today.

How much time do I spend on entertainment per week?

How much time do I prepare for going or engaging in entertainment?

How much time do I spend in prayer, learning to be passive before God in order to be purified and to receive His Love?

Do I clutter my imagination and my soul with too many statistics, too many games, too many hours of entertainment?

Do I understand that the greatest stress release is actually prayer and not entertainment?

Does the entertainment I am involved with bring me closer to God, or take me away from God?

Am I willing to give up entertainment in order to become a saint?

Some links to ponder while I am off the blog today

My Day of Fasting

In solidarity with Great Britain's Christian Community, today, I am fasting and praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Middle East, and for an awakening as to the real causes which bring about such persecutions.

I shall fast, pray and not blog today. If I, at my age, and with illness, can try and fast, I challenge you young healthy readers to do so.

One is either part of the remnant or one is not. Christ is suffering in His Church across the world.

Do you care? Are we not one with all who suffer in the Name of Jesus? If you are baptized, you are.