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Tuesday 30 September 2014

Hey, A Man Site!

A Little Note from STM

"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing –
half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."

Well, I can think of some things, like painting, having a rose garden, going to daily Mass, writing poetry, having tea with my son now and then.

God's Gypsy.

I actually like Arthur Rackham's illustrations of The Wind in The Willows best, so here are some below. The one on the left, and the one up above are by E. H. Shepard, the original illustrator. Although, I would not mind living in Lodsworth, home of Shepard, these illustrations, and, of course, the original Winnie the Pooh books.

NIce Article

Father Esper is also the priest who writes about the levels of persecution. I discovered him about four years ago.

The Pope on Angels Yesterday

On Mental Health and Sin

As I have left Father Ripperger's great book with a friend, I shall not be able to go back and comment on this masterpiece. However, I want to highlight a point which has caused me concern in the past.

Over thirty years ago, a person I knew had a breakdown at university. This highly intelligent woman all of the sudden became extremely depressed and suicidal. Her parents had to come and take her out of college and bring her home to see a psychologist.

Sadly, although the family is Catholic even today, the parents decided on one counselor who was not Catholic. This was hardly their fault at the time, as there were no Catholic counselors or doctors of mental health in the entire metro area where they lived.

The result was that in the several years of counseling which followed, this young woman was encouraged by the doctor to engage in fornication. The counselor felt that this was a way the young woman would experience "normal relationships" and "love".

The young woman's parents were, rightly so, horrified by this advice. However, the young woman took seriously the suggestion of this counselor and ended up in several extra-marital relationships with men. Needless to say, she did not become mentally sound, but lost her Catholic faith entirely and ended up not only on medication for depression for the remainder of her life, but unable to enter into real, solid, good relationships with men.

Father Ripperger notes over and over that one must choose not only a moral doctor for help, but one who understands that sin leads to an unhealthy mind. The mind cannot be separated from the soul, the imagination, the will.

Too many psychologists and psychiatrists are not religious themselves, or even moral. How can these people help another person to become mentally healthy by ignoring the very core of our being, the soul?

To watch a person fall farther and farther away from the truth of who they are, a child of God, an heir of heaven, if they are baptized, as this person is, and completely leave the Faith, and indeed, in this case, all Christianity, is painful. Following the advice of her doctor, this woman has never found stability mentally, and, of course, spiritually in her life she is far away from God. She is now an atheist as well as still combating depression.

Her parents regret their decision of taking her to the doctor they did. They are good Catholics who never dreamed a professional would recommend sin as therapy.

Sin is the turning against what it means to be human. And, habitual sin distorts a person's humanity. Only a life of morality and virtue can help a person recover mental health.

I highly recommend Father Ripperger's book, especially for anyone in the field of counseling.

On Mental Health and Reality

Father Ripperger, being a great Thomist, knows that mental health is related to a strong grounding in reality. A few points gleaned from his book emphasize this point.

1) The natural law, and the nature of a human being, that is, the reality of the soul, demand that mental health includes the spiritual life. Moral and spiritual principles cannot be ignored. Therefore, it is important for the therapist to also be a person who believes in and respects the soul, as well as natural law.

2) Sin contradicts what it means to be human. When the realities of good and evil become confused through habitual sin, a person becomes detached not only from themselves, but from the reality around that person, both other persons and objects.

3) A preoccupation with apparitions, both true and false, may lead to a loss of mental health and real mental illness.

I want to comment on this last point. When I read this, I exclaimed out loud to a friend, "Yes!" I have seen this happen in the lives of some good people, the apparition chasers, who become so enamored with the latest so-called revelation of Mary or Christ, that they leave behind the reality of the world in which they live. Some people I know refuse to accept the Church's judgment on some false revelations and fall into a state of unreality, insisting on following lies.

When one chooses to both be disobedient and to believe in something deceitful, one chooses to live in a fantasy world. Such are the followers of Bayside, Vassula Ryden and the Warning.

But, even those who follow approved apparitions may lose touch with reality. This next section is my extrapolation from Fr. Ripperger's point.

To become consumed with messages reveals an unwillingness to face reality, to face the demands of daily life, to believe in the normal ways to perfection.

Apparitions do not make us perfect. Honesty and humility do. I know too many people who spend an inordinate amount of time apparition chasing. An old person told me a few weeks ago that he finally "woke up" and realized that his spiritual life was actually being stifled by his over-attention to even approved Marian apparitions. He was neglecting the hard work of facing his faults, his sins.

Some people fall into great fear and forget their daily duties by being absorbed by apparitions.

Again, mental health is rooted in habitual goodness, the virtues, honesty about where one is actually in relation to God and others. Being besotted with apparitions takes one's attention off one's own spiritual journey, off the way of perfection.

Father Ripperger is not only wise but brave to cover areas which other writers miss or ignore. But, then, this priest is not only a psychologist, but an exorcist.

I am actually traveling today, but will try and do one more post, which is merely made up of a few gleanings from this priest's book.

They Come from Dust Part Five

Another two weeks passed and the monsoon rains continued. Then, on a Thursday, Mason surprised Brandy. "I am leaving you alone for exactly twelve hours.

I'm going up north to a small town near here to get someone and bring him back here. Do you trust me?"

Brandy said, of course. Mason continued, "You know how to shoot well enough if someone tries to break it. Can you do this, I mean, could you defend yourself?"

Brandy said, I think so.

"One more thing." Mason looked intently at Brandy. "Will you marry me?"

Brandy was not surprised at her own response. She had found Mason to be one of the most interesting men she had ever met. She had tried to convince herself that she was not attracted to him, but she could not lie. But, marriage? Well, everything was new in this odd world. She did not need to consult her heart.

"Yes, Mason, I will. I really like you and I think I could grow to love you more."

Mason smiled. He gave her a little kiss on the cheek and grabbed one of his pistols. He put on heavy rain gear and left without saying anything.

Brandy watched him disappear in the rain. It would be a very long twelve hours. Who was he bringing back and why? His mom lived in Atlanta and his dad, well, he never knew his dad.

Brandy decided to spend the day praying and cleaning, as the cabin was not exactly ship-shape. She did not want to be a clock-watcher.

Cleaning did not take long, about two hours. She looked out the window. It was raining so hard she could hardly see the line of trees at the bottom of the small hill. She began to read her prayer book.

Another two hours passed. Four down, eight to go. Mason had left about ten in the morning. She thought of the past three weeks. She thought of her job in the government and her daily routine of going to the gym, going out with her friends, basically doing what she wanted to do.

She thought of all the years she wanted to be successful, moving to be one of the top administrators of her department.

What department?

Brandy shook her head. Then, she heard a strange noise outside. She felt terrified, and she felt cold. She got her gun and stood by the side of the window. She thought her breathing was really loud.

She heard the noise again. Someone, or something snorted, loudly. Brandy moved into the small kitchen and looked out the small window. There, at the back of the cabin, was a huge buck. Brandy opened the kitchen window half-way. She took aim right at the head of the buck and shot. It dropped dead. Brandy took a deep breath. Well, she would have a wedding present for Mason. She felt like a grown-up woman for the first time in her life. She knew her long adolescence was over.

Brandy knew she could not move this carcass, but she took a tarpaulin and went outside to cover it up.

The young woman look down on the huge buck and smiled, and thought to herself, "My, haven't I changed?"

Six hours passed and Brandy decided to study Scripture. But, she fell asleep in the rocking chair and woke up when Mason burst into the cabin with his guest.

He was laughing so hard she could hardly believe his mirth. "A buck, well, what can I say? But, here is your wedding present. Father Gibson from the town up the road. He is going to marry us."

Brandy got up from her chair with a smile, but then, she burst into tears. "I don't have a dress, or shoes or a veil. Look at me."

Father Gibson came over. "Brandy, look, Mason thought of that. He did a little altering of something I had from my mother. Look."

Brandy stared at Mason. "You SEW?"  Mason looked a little sheepishly at her. "Yes, I sew."

They all laughed. Mason explained that Fr. Gibson had given him a conditional baptism. At least, they would have the Nuptial Blessing. Brandy asked if Fr. would hear her confession and Mason stood outside for the several minutes that took. Brandy was accepted back into the Church by Father.

Father suggested they would not waste any more time, as Mason would escort him back again after the ceremony. Brandy went upstairs and put on the 1950s wedding dress which had belonged to Fr. Gibson's mother. When she came back downstairs, with her long black hair tied up on top of her head, she felt truly like a bride.

So, while the muddy rain beat on the roof, Mason and Brandy became man and wife. Mason gave Brandy another little kiss and rushed out, but first, he hung the buck in the mud room off the kitchen.

"I shall show you how to deal with that later. I shall be back in ten hours."

Brandy ran and gave him a big kiss and the two men disappeared in the rain. Brandy decided that she should have a long shower and just go to bed. She knew Mason would come back to her. She was not afraid.

to be continued...

They Come from Dust Part Four

Mason felt relieved that he and Brandy had a week of peace. He went out now and then to check the area, and they did not have a fire to cause smoke. After a full seven days, Mason decided it was safe to have hot food.

He and Brandy decided on a schedule to keep sane. She slept in the loft bedroom and he slept on the camp bed in a small side bedroom off the main room.

Chores were divided. The fresh underground stream which was accessed by an old fashioned pump seemed to be clear and good. No contaminants as of yet appeared in the waters.

Mason proved to be a top prepper. He has collected all sorts of dried foods and water for years, as well as building a water purifying system, a heating system which ran off an oil generator, and other useful items.

He even built a primitive washing machine and shower which did not need electricity.

On the seventh day, Mason decided it was time to have "the hard talk" with Brandy.

He made beans and franks, coffee and even a pineapple upside down cake in his dutch oven. He opened two beers he had made himself from a small brewing kit, and asked Brandy to sit down.

She did. Mason at first did not know how to start the conversation. He decided to start with nature.

"Did you noticed there are no birds, Brandy, not even small ones?" Brandy nodded.

"There are no geese, no pheasants, and I have seen one deer. If it comes back, I shall kill it and we shall have venison. But, most of the animals are gone."

Brandy listened attentively. She felt like a school girl being prepped for a test. She knew Mason wanted to explain how bad things were going to be. She would be patient and listen. But, she already knew how bad things were and that things could get worse. But, she wanted to her what Mason had to say.

"We could stay here for six months with the provisions I have, if there are no more volcanoes, earthquakes and the stream stays clear. The problem I anticipate are raiders, people stumbling across us, or seeing smoke it we cook using the fire. I do not want to deny us hot food, and I do have some smokeless fuel, which I suggest we use until we run out of that."

Mason stopped and watched Brandy. She was calm.

"I can guarantee your safety but I want you to learn how to shoot Please, let me teach you some basics."

Brandy stared. She had been a liberal all her young life. To think of joining the prepper Mason to the point of learning how to use a gun was a huge challenge to her ideologies. But, Mason interrupted her thoughts, "You know, Brandy, you might need to defend me."

Brandy looked at the floor. She thought of her ancestors, Kanien’kehĂ :ka Nation and French. She thought to herself, "Well, they used guns.."

"OK. I shall learn for your sake." Mason grinned. He was beginning to realize that Brandy was flexible. This was a good sign.

The next morning, Mason set up some targets in the back yard. He wanted her to learn how to use the Ruger 10-22, but first he showed her his small collection of guns. He had three Czech rifles, a British one and a Japanese one, used by the Brits in WWI. Brandy was fascinated that Mason knew the entire history for each gun. He also showed her how he made bullets. This was a new world for her, far from her somewhat sheltered background.

They practiced with the 22 for about an hour. Mason said he was impressed, and that, weather permitting, they would try again tomorrow. But, the sky was dark, and a heavy, dirty rain began to splatter muddy water so that had to go inside.

The rain seemed odd for both scientists. The dust cover should have prevented rain for some time. Mason had some idea. He noticed how fast the temperature was rising, which would cause the change. The dust was warming the air and this could lead to monsoon like rains. Mason said nothing of this to Brandy, but he liked the idea of being separated from other humans for a while by severe rains. The cabin he built was on a small incline and would not flood.

Brandy looked out the window at the rain. Then she said something startling to Mason, "Mason, are you religious. I mean, did you ever go to church or pray?"  Mason came over and stood by Brandy, handing her a hot cup of coffee. "Nope, I have to admit I am not a church-going man. But, I was in the army before I studied science and prayed a few times in Afghanistan."

"My uncle was in Afghanistan. He was killed by a landmine."  Mason said nothing. He had too many bad memories of mines.

Brandy continued. "I would like to read the Bible and pray every evening. Would you do that with me, Mason? My mom and dad would read the Bible every night and say a few prayers. They were Catholics, but I fell away a long time ago, after they died in a car accident. I guess I have been mad at God."

Mason said nothing. "Well, it was hard for you to shoot today, so I guess I can compromise and read the Bible and pray with you. That seems fair. My parents were not religious. But, these are new times, and we all have to change."

Brandy smiled and drank her coffee. The noise of the rain on the roof comforted her. She went up to her loft room and brought down a leather-bound Bible and a little prayer book.

"After dinner,,,, " she said. "After dinner..., " Mason answered.

to be continued...