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Tuesday 16 December 2014

On a happier note...

My son had a variation of these Start-Rite blue shoes, but no one We called them "T-straps". So cute, so British...

Girls in my mom's generaton wore these and they were called "Mary Janes". See below....

And we always got a new pair of shoes for Easter...the American version of good kids' shoes....

Because of the Nobel Peace Prize, Children Died
"They literally set the teacher on fire with gasoline and made the kids watch."
At least six militants entered the Pakistani school wearing security uniforms, before massacring an estimated 132 people and injuring another 122.
Most of the school's 500 students have been evacuated. The Pakistani army claims to have killed five terrorists and is conducting a search for more, while more hostages are believed to be held inside the school.
Pakistani officials have yet to verify the burning of the teacher, or other reports that some of the bodies of the dead school children are being brought into the hospital headless.
According to a tweet by Omar R Quraishi, an editor at the The Express Tribune who has over 154,000 Twitter followers, "Some of the bodies brought to hospital during the Peshawar school attack have been headless: source."

Perfection Series VIII Part XXX Section Two Why The Desert

The last post was a list of previous desert posts as a warm up, no pun intended, for what Raissa writes on November 24, 1934.

"Terrible ordeal in silent prayer. Felt all the bitterness of death. God asks of me more than my life; to accept living death, existence in a barren desert. That is giving more than one's soul....."

Then, on the next day, she writes this, "In some manner, I am having personal experience of that great mystery St. Paul speaks of, making up what is lacking in the Passion of Christ. Being the Passion of God, it is forever gathered up into the eternal. What is lacking is a development in time....Those who allow themselves to become his to the point of being perfectly assimilated to him, accomplish, throughout the whole length of time, what is lacking in his Passion. Those who consent to become flesh of his flesh. Terrible marriage, in which love is not only strong as death but begins by being a death, and a thousand deaths....(this gift) involves a manner of redeeming the world, and of suffering, which is accessible only to sinners. By renouncing the good things of this world, which in certain cases more numerous than one might think, sin would have procured us--by giving to God our human and temporal happiness, we give him proportionality as much as he gives us, because we him our all, the widow's mite in the Gospel."

Raissa is describing the mystical marriage. She refers to Angela of Foligno, as I did last summer.

Why the desert? So God can take the beloved away from all people and reveal Him in the solitude as the Bridegroom.

There are more than what are listed below. Here are the links.

Etheldredasplace: Attributes: Continuation Using StAngela
17 Jun 2014
Earlier this year, I wrote a bit on the Attributes of God. As I am finishing up The Book of Divine Consolation Of The Blessed Angela of Foligno (now saint), I can return to this theme, using some of her great insights given to her ...

11 Jun 2014
Continuing with Angela of Foligno, one sees the progression of her road to holiness. This saint admits that she had lived a loose life. She is sharing insights concerning the siren call of the world as one who escaped, through ...
11 Jun 2014
Those who see the value of poverty, notes Angela of Foligno, freely give up things and status. The nuns and monks who give up owing their own personal things, give up any chance of being seen as worthwhile in the world.
13 Jun 2014
Perfection Series II: St. Angela Part Eight. Posted by Supertradmum. St. Angela of Foligno writes of the third level of the poverty of Christ. This is the poverty in which Christ chose to become impotent in the world, setting aside ...

22 Jun 2014
Having finally finished the book of St. Angela, I can state absolutely that her language and experiences are quite similar, if not exact, to those of Julian of Norwich. Julian's statement that God is closer to us than our own souls is ...
17 Jun 2014
Earlier this year, I wrote a bit on the Attributes of God. As I am finishing up The Book of Divine Consolation Of The Blessed Angela of Foligno (now saint), I can return to this theme, using some of her great insights given to her ...

11 Jun 2014
St. Angela of Foligno. Posted by Supertradmum. Perfection Series II: Angela of Foligno. The Book of Divine Consolation of The Blessed Angela of Foligno provides another help for those seeking perfection. The perfection ...
14 Jun 2014
Interesting that St. Angela Foligno writes something which came to me years ago-that God the Father suffered with Christ on the Cross, and that part of Christ's sufferings were those inflicted by ungrateful children on the Father ...
12 Jun 2014
St. Angela writes that Christ's entire life was one of penance. This seems obvious after one points this out. God on earth must have suffered constantly. I was thinking last night, as I was suffering intensely, of the great Desert ...
19 Jun 2014
That God is Good seemed to be the attribute which encompassed the entire spectrum of St. Angela's experience of God's relationship to the world. Angela's words remind me, as I have noted before, those of Julian of Norwich.

Perfection Series VIII Part XXX Section One Why The Desert

11 Dec 2013
This means that God calls us into the desert, and a desert has few colors, few delights. St. John writes this: IT now remains to be said that, although this happy night brings darkness to the spirit, it does so only to give it light in ...
17 Feb 2013
Noting that it is for this reason that the Church traditionally proclaims the Gospel narrative of Christ's temptation in the desert on the first Sunday of Lent, Pope Benedict said, “The tempter is subtle: he does not push us directly ...
02 Jul 2014
When Moses had to flee from Egypt , into Sinai, he was not seeking God. He was being drawn to God by God. God was calling him to purgation and perfection. Purgation came in the long weeks in the desert, before he came ...

03 Nov 2013
The name El was the title of the desert god of many of the ancient religions. El was also the god of the storms. However, the One, True God took the name and made it His Own, the God of all Creation, the Father of all Mankind, ...
19 Feb 2013
The desert is hard. It is very hot in the day and very cold at night. Sand gets into one's skin, eyes, hair. It is full of dangerous animals. Water is scarce. One has to rely on God totally in the desert. He is our Guide, as we cannot ...
07 Jan 2014
The desert proved to be colder than Antonio anticipated. He had a day, a night and a morning to meet his priest, whose letter was one of the four in his pocket. Daniel Morales had written to the Nuncio of the terrible deaths of ...

02 Aug 2013
He says, then, thus: 'In the desert land, waterless, dry and pathless, I appeared before Thee, that I might see Thy virtue and Thy glory.'90 It is a wondrous thing that David should say here that the means and the preparation for ...
11 Feb 2014
St. John the Baptist went into the desert. So did Christ and St. Paul. Our homes can be "desert homes". Create a place where holiness and perfection can take root and grow. Without this, parents are cooperating with God to ...
11 Oct 2014
14 And they coveted their desire in the desert: and they tempted God in the place without water. 15 And he gave them their request: and sent fulness into their souls. 16 And they provoked Moses in the camp, Aaron the holy ...
30 May 2013
God is calling the soul to Himself and takes her out into the desert in order for her to see Him as He is and to love Him for Himself and not for what He can do for her. This is real free love, the love with is not attached to anything ...

19 Dec 2013
I want you to fly to a desert like S. Mary of Egypt, S. Paul, S. Anthony, Arsenius, or the other hermits, but it is well for you to retire sometimes within your own chamber or garden, or wheresoever you can best recollect your mind, ...
12 Dec 2013
18 I will open rivers in the high bills, and fountains in the midst of the plains: I will turn the desert into pools of waters, and the impassable land into streams of waters. 19 I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, and the thorn, and ...
12 Feb 2013
On some occasions we read that the herald was God, for example, when with a living voice from heaven he gave the law of justice to a whole people in the desert. On other occasions, the herald was an angel of the Lord, ...
21 Sep 2014
[35] So again His Nativity in a lonely stable might find a foreshadowing in the owl of the desert, bemoaning and lamenting: and in His Ascension He was like the sparrow rising high above the dwellings of men. Thus in each of ...

20 Nov 2013
These types of reaction spreads like a cancer and results in murmuring, the great sin of the Israelites in the desert. Complaining creates a miasma of unfaithfulness and turns people to evil by doubting God's Divine Providence.
08 May 2014
26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying: Arise, go towards the south, to the way that goeth down from Jerusalem into Gaza: this is desert. 27 And rising up, he went. And behold a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch, ...
22 May 2014
They were walking in the rocky semi-desert land which lay behind Michael's new farm near Enna. He planned to turn it into a holiday farmhouse, but live there part of the year. The two were making plans when Christine found ...

01 May 2014
This is Christ, who hungered in the desert and was tempted but did not give in and was just. 7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Christ was merciful on the Cross, forgiving all, so that we can be merciful.
09 Sep 2014
St. Zosimas met her and gave her Communion on the day she died, after she spent fifty years or so in the desert making reparation for her early life of serious sin. A lion helped St. Zosimas bury her body. She is a saint who ...
20 Oct 2014
And they are being taxed with the infidel tax. “The only pseudo-juridical instance in the desert is the Arab tribes' court that has levied a tax of 150,000 Egyptian pounds (about 21,000 USD) on the monks,”. Email ThisBlogThis!
07 Apr 2013
But, if I had to choose one book dealing with classical education to take to a desert island, it would be the Doctor of the Church St. Isidore of Seville's Etymologie. This work is a compilation of knowledge and definitions from the ...
30 Sep 2013
It must have been a very hot day in the desert. Jerome's supposed cardinal's robe is off his body and his hat on the wall. He was not a cardinal, nor would this dress been the norm in his day. However, the point is that Jerome ...
05 Oct 2014
26 If therefore they shall say to you: Behold he is in the desert, go ye not out: Behold he is in the closets, believe it not. 27 For as lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even into the west: so shall the coming of the ...

22 Jan 2013
Moses found God in the desert. God came to him unexpectedly. So, too, with us. 20 posts yesterday, and 22 today, plus the rest of the weekend is full as well. Take time to read these. We do not have much time to have this ...
12 Jun 2014
St. Angela writes that Christ's entire life was one of penance. This seems obvious after one points this out. God on earth must have suffered constantly. I was thinking last night, as I was suffering intensely, of the great Desert ...
18 Nov 2014
7 Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith: To day if you shall hear his voice,. 8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation; in the day of temptation in the desert,. Since 2007, I have written about the coming persecution of real ...

Perfection Series VIII Part XXIX Law and Spirit

Two very brief ideas from Raissa on perfection..

The first is something which I have said over and over and that is one must be scrupulous in following all the laws of God and His Church. We must begin with orthodoxy.

Those who deviate from orthodoxy are not even on the ladder to perfection. Why? Because obedience is the key to God's heart, where He leads us to love. And, because we cannot decide for ourselves what is truth and what is not. We need Christ through the Church as our mentor.

There is a strong misconception among some Catholics that in order to be "free in the Holy Spirit" one need not be rigorous about following the rules of the Church or the Ten Commandments. Freedom does not come in spite of or by setting aside the law. Freedom comes from obedience to the laws, which free up the spirit to follow higher things.

The second kernel of truth is this, that the world of Jesus, which is opposed to this world, "is quantitatively very small: the salt of the earth, the pinch of leaven which makes the whole dough rise...It comprises those who let themselves be conformed to Him. These are his true imitators and his co-operators in salvation."

I wrote this the other day, that the remnant was very, very small and someone reacted so violently, I took my post off to wait until writing this one in Raissa's viewpoint. As Raissa has more holiness and intellect that STM, I shall let her say the same thing, only better.

"One can also say that there are two categories of men: those who--what mystery!--are capable of assimilating sin, and those who are not capable of doing so (by virtue of some mystery of predestination...) Those who are capable of assimilating sin, of living with sin, almost of living on it; drawing from it a useful experience, a certain human enrichment, a development, even a perfecting, in the order of mercy and humility--of arriving, finally, at the knowledge of God, at a certain theodicy, through extreme experience of the misery of the sinner....."

On the other hand, Raissa writes, "Those who are incapable of assimilating sin, because the smallest deliberate sin is like a fishbone stuck in their throat, cannot rest till they have go ride of it by contrition and confession. These are called to be assimilated to Christ. They can accept or refuse. It is a redoutable moment when they hear that call--it is the voice of Jesus himself."

In my interpretation of the Doctors of the Church and the great writers I have followed on this blog, I believe all baptized Catholics, who have been given the sacraments, the Mass, grace, teaching, fall into this second category, whereas those outside the fold fall into the first category.

to be continued...

Today's First Reading

In the Old Testament, the idea of rebellion encompasses several aspects.

In some translations of other texts, rebellion indicates a need for healing.  But in today's reading, rebellion is clearly seen as having three other facets.

In the first instance, rebellion does not listen. Rebellion reveals an unteachable heart, a stubbornness about the truth. Sometimes in the Church this means not heeding authority or guidance, as well as defying Church teaching.

In the second aspect, rebellion is connected with a lack of discipline, either external or internal discipline. This lack of discipline could entail not studying the Faith, not going to frequent confession, compromising or never fasting, or not mortifying one's self in any way.

In the third description, rebellion is seen as a lack of trusting in Divine Providence, a serious sin of self-reliance, and perhaps even an ignoring of God's will and plan for one's life. If one insists on one's own way, this attitude indicates a rebellious spirit. There can be an arrogance about being rebellious.

In the last reference, the soul which is rebellious, or in this case, the entire city, refuses to come to God, refuses to pray and observe the liturgical rites of the Old Law, from the heart. How many Catholics have I met who do not think that missing Sunday Mass is a serious sin? They are not giving God what is due to Him as God, honor and worship.

Sadly, Western society romanticizes rebellion with the adulation of the anti-hero as well as the belief that men have a right, even a need to rebel.

A truly spiritually rebellious person exhibits a hardness of heart, a stubbornness no to listen, learn, pray, repent. An over-emphasis on being unique spiritually is a bad sign. See my posts on Benedictine spirituality and the need to move away from singularity. That Gnosticism is rife in the Church today indicates that many people have fallen into rebellion through the desire and pursuit of "secret" or "special" knowledge.

Today, the prophet calls us all to repentance, and meekness, as humility is a sign of compliance with God's will.

Zephaniah 3:1-2Douay-Rheims 

Woe to the provoking, and redeemed city, the dove.
2 She hath not hearkened to the voice, neither hath she received discipline: she hath not trusted in the Lord, she drew not near to her God.

Get ready for the O Antiphons

18 Nov 2014 and also, the O Antiphon prayers and symbols may be found on this blog as well. The dates are last year's dates, but the prayers and symbols are .
09 Dec 2012
I went to a Catholic school where the nuns had the students say the O Antiphons before we broke up for the short, American holiday. We drew pictures of the symbols connected to the Messianic Names of Our Lord, which form ...
01 Dec 2013 and also, the O Antiphon prayers and symbols may be found on this blog as well. The dates are last year's dates, but the prayers and symbols are ...
11 Dec 2013 O Sapientia (December 17). O Wisdom, Which camest out of the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ...

Grateful Day

It is warmer, thank God. And a beautiful day here.

Now, some ask me why I am here rather than in my adoptive home of New York.

You decide....and despite the electricity and water bills, it is cheaper to live here than in New York.

And, I have only had asthma problems three times...thanks be to God, all after standing in very car polluted streets and because of the cold nights.

Discernment Part Five

There is much more in Garrigou-Lagrange's book and much more on this subject, but I want to highlight only this selection below. I have found that in my life there have been people who have seemed holy only for me to discover that they do not love the Church, or desire the Eucharist. One wonders at the discrepancies, until one realizes that all the virtues come to be exhibited by the person who is truly holy. All the baptized are called to holiness. but without discernment, we can be fooled in following erroneous ideas or waste time in groups or endeavors which actually lead us into pride.

Too many people also fall into the category described below as "exotic". Eccentricity is not a sign of holiness.  Simplicity and a genuine humility are always signs of the spirit of God, whether in priests or in lay people. That God allows humiliation in one's life is a sign that He is working on the virtues, freeing one from the ego so that these virtues may flourish.

I have emphasized some characteristics of this topic in order to show that we are capable of developing the gift of discernment which has a real purpose in our lives. It is too easy for anyone to fall into self-deceit concerning progress on the road to perfection without a grounding in discernment.

Here are the last paragraphs for consideration at this time. One can see how these ideas follow some of the entries in Raissa's Journal. That Garrigou-Lagrange was part of the lives of the Maritains should surprise none of my readers.

Therefore the spirit which chafes under humiliation is not a perfect spirit: neither is the spirit which neglects to deny itself a spirit of solid virtue, since all the virtues ought to develop in unison as they are so closely related to each other.

It follows, therefore, that a spirit which prompts a man to numerous acts of mortification but not to ready obedience is imperfect, and must be regarded at least to some extent as having an evil intention, since it is so insistent on following its own will. True it is that such a spirit is often the cause of many good works but these are not inspired by any love of God, as is evident from the lack of growth in humble obedience the sure sign of loving conformity to the will of God.
Neither is that spirit to be trusted which is always urging man to paradoxical action, which is continually forming judgments that conflict with the common opinion of prudent men. Such a spirit is, so to speak, exotic and artificial; it is impulsive rather than virtuous.

Similarly, there cannot be any doubt about the evil nature of a spirit which fosters in man a desire for what is extraordinary and willingly speaks of this to all and sundry. God would never lead a soul to the higher planes of the spiritual life without making it at the same time extremely humble, since all the virtues arc inter-related and so are perfected together. That is why it is so easy to distinguish the truly high-minded person from one who is presumptuous. It is part of the devil's plan to incite in man a desire for what is new, curious, abnormal, amazing, unusual, and so to excite the wonder and admiration of others that they will think of him as a saint.
The same holds true of a person not yet firmly grounded in the virtues of humility and obedience, who while professing a desire to imitate the saints, concentrates on details of their lives which were never intended to be imitated but simply admired, and dedicates himself to a life of extraordinary forms of prayer and penance.

How foolish to commence erecting a spiritual mansion from the top, like a bird trying to fly without wings! We should never be misled by the apparent success of a soul which makes such an attempt; its flight into the realms of mysticism is deceptive, dangerous, and to no purpose.

Discernment Part Four

Again, we see that one can discern, can judge actions. Again, we see that the call to perfection is not an option. Again, we see that Garrigou-Lagrange could stand back and criticize the actions of priests who had fallen from this path, this call.

But, we are all called to be fervent in prayer, attentive in Mass, giving God time in silence, and being absolutely obedient to the teachings of the Catholic Church. 

To discern the human spirit is not difficult for most of us.  However, what is more difficult for some is the discerning of the spirit of evil, as satan pretends to be an angel of light.

First, a review of a priest caught up in his human spirit.

On the other hand, when this interior spirit is allowed to grow and develop it produces fruits of real sanctity. We become all the more clearly aware of the value and excellence of our religious vocation.
"This interior spirit is formed in us by the practice of the means of perfection suggested by ascetical theology, but it is firmly established and perfected by spiritual growth in the different stages of the mystical life, as is well explained by St. Thomas. The mystical life is the completion of the ascetical life, the peak of the soul's ascent through the various stages of Christian perfection. There have been periods when this teaching was regarded with suspicion, when practical errors in this respect stunted the growth of the spirit of genuine piety; but now we can be grateful for the return to traditional teaching, which has re-opened the way for souls a thirst for the supernatural life to come to a knowledge of mystical realities And in this life of perfection the spirit of God is most certainly present revivifying the soul."
Obvious examples of the influence of the spirit of nature are tepidity in the celebration of Holy Mass, haste in the saying of one's Office almost like a machine. curiosity and eventually sloth in the pursuit of one's studies, carelessness in observing the rule of silence and other practical rules, restrictions attached to the extent of one's obedience, cringing obedience out of love for the human superior and not for God or with a view to the obtaining of new honours and dignities.

Now, the hard bit....discernment of evil. We must all, in these difficult times of chaos and "mess" learn to discern the spirit of evil. We have the gift, the grace to do so. It is imperative that we learn to discern evil.

In contrast to the spirit of God the spirit of the devil at first lifts the soul to the heights of pride and then plunges it down into turmoil and despair, just as the devil himself sinned through pride and is now condemned to an eternity of despair and hatred of God.
In order to recognize this evil spirit we must first observe its effect on mortification, humility, and obedience, and then its effect on the theological virtues.

Prudence, temperance and obedience are signs of the spirit of God. The opposites show something else.

The spirit of the devil does not always deter a soul from mortification; in this respect it differs from the spirit of nature. On the contrary, it often urges the soul to go to extremes in the practice of exterior mortification which everyone can see, which results in spiritual pride and injury to the individual's health. Such a spirit has no time for the interior mortification of the imagination, heart, and one's own will and judgment, although it pretends to be concerned about it by making the soul scrupulous over details but careless in matters of greater importance; for example, in the principal duties of one's state of life. It prompts the soul to hypocrisy: "I fast twice in the week" (Luke xviii, 12).
Humility is never encouraged by this spirit, for it gradually distorts the soul's vision to see itself as greater than it really is, greater than anyone else. Almost unconsciously it makes the prayer of the Pharisee its own: "I thank thee, God, that I am not like the rest of men ... or like this publican here" (Luke xviii, 11). This spiritual pride goes hand in hand with a false humility, which accuses itself of some evil so as to avoid being accused by others of even greater faults and in order to make them think that we are truly humble. Sometimes the evil spirit leads us to confuse humility with faint-heartedness, which is the daughter of pride and fears to ran the risk of contempt. The evil spirit is also an enemy of obedience, prompting us either to open disobedience or to servility according to circumstances.

If I know a seminarian is practicing fasting, I know he will be a good priest. But, if a young person is caught up either in a middle class lifestyle or the excesses of asceticism, one can be sure that pride, if not ignorance, is involved.

Garrigou-Lagrange shows how each virtue of faith, hope and charity can be distorted by the evil one.

I do not have time to go into each category, but this section applies to the laity especially with regard to private revelations.

As regards the virtue of faith the spirit of the devil distracts our attention from the truths of the Gospel which are simpler and yet more profound such as those contained in the Our Father which we ought always to say with special care and devotion, or those portrayed in the mysteries of the Rosary and encourages us to focus our mind on what is extraordinary. Remember his tempting of Christ: "If thou art the Son of God, cast thyself down to earth; for it is written, He has given charge to his angels concerning thee, and they will hold thee up with their hands, lest thou shouldst chance to trip on a stone. Jesus said to him, But it is further written, Thou shalt not put the Lord Thy God to the proof" (Matt, iv, 6-7).

The spirit of God, on the other hand, shows us clearly how to discern a person of faith, and helps us on our way to perfection.

The spirit of God nourishes our faith on the simpler and more profound truths of the Gospel, such as those contained in the Our Father. It keeps us faithful to tradition and strangers to novelty. This genuine supernatural faith helps us to see God in our superiors, and thus our spirit of faith is perfected since we come to judge everything in the light of this virtue.

Garrigou-Lagrange then comes to the core of how to react to extraordinary graces. This section is important to all of us. Remember, revelations must tend towards bringing the person to greater holiness and greater humility.

It would be presumptuous on our part to crave for extraordinary graces, such as revelations or interior conversations. But a soul which lives and perseveres in humility, self-denial, and almost continual recollection often receives in accordance with the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost special inspirations which result in a wonderful blending of simplicity and prudence, humility and zeal, firmness and gentleness. This harmony and blending of the virtues is a sure sign of the presence of God's spirit.
Those who do receive extraordinary graces from God must be prepared to carry the cross, to maintain complete silence and secrecy, and to speak about their favours to no one other than their spiritual director. Otherwise they stand in grave peril of spiritual pride.
There is a special danger in revelations which seem to refer to future events or to questions of doctrine, since they so easily give rise to deception. Even if the original inspiration were from God, the individual could later on superimpose his own interpretation which may be to a greater or less extent erroneous and is usually too material. In conclusion, it cannot be stressed too often that ecstasies and revelations which do not result in a more perfect way of life and do not make the subject less sure of himself cannot be attributed to the spirit of God especially if they promote discord, and interfere with the fulfilment of the duties attached to one's state of life.
Therefore the signs of God's spirit are humble obedience, brotherly love, peace, spiritual joy which radiates itself to all around.

to be continued....