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Sunday 31 May 2015

Reviewing Yeats

Years ago, on this blog, I quoted William Butler Yeats.

Here is the quotation I chose again.

“Out of Ireland have we come.
Great hatred, little room,
Maimed us at the start.
I carry from my mother's womb
A fanatic heart.”

My experience of some Irish men in 2012 and last week has been the sad revelation of "Great hatred, little room."

In County Cork years ago, I met a man who went on a tirad regarding the English persecution of the Irish. I listened, and then I quoted Christ, Who told us to love our enemies and pray for those who hate us. He adamantly said that he would never forgive the English, never. I asked him whether he realized that no one gets into heaven with hate in their hearts. The Irishman looked shocked. I do not think he ever stopped to reflect on this point. God, I told him, is not Irish, but Father of us all.

The man walked away and that was the end of the conversation.

Last week, a similar thing happened after Holy Mass. Some of us were sitting around having coffee with the pastor. He has given a superb sermon on modesty and the American-Irishman became angry.

"We cannot tell people what to wear." He said, and then he went on to talk about how we had no right to judge the culture. Of course, STM would not let this go, so I jumped in and said that it was our duty as Catholics to change the culture. The man went on to say that Christ reached out to Mary Magdalen. Another woman chimed in and said that she converted and changed her ways and would not have kept her "prostitute clothes", but in repentance, became humble and modest.

Then, I spoke of the fact that modesty was a virtue, connected to temperance, adding that a woman would change over time and become modest if she really experienced conversion, as immodesty was pride, drawing attention to one's self and not humility.

Then, I made the comment, after four others began to take sides on the issue, that if one visited the Queen of England, (or the Pope), that there was an accepted dress code.

OMgoodness. The Irish-American man stood up and said, "Well, as an Irish-American, I do not care what the Queen thinks and would not go out of my way to respect her." He grew very angry and red in the face and literally stomped out of the cafe area. He had also changed the subject from modesty and dress codes to the "evil English". 

The problem of the hatred of the Irish for the English must be addressed by those who come up against hatred. My friend was shocked at the man's heated response, and informed me that he was a prominent Democrat in the city, and an Obama supporter.

Yeat's description of the "fanatic heart", a heart full of hatred and unforgiveness, a heart full of ideologies instead of Catholic truth, was revealed over coffee. I had met this in Dublin and in County Cork, and now in the Midwest. How sad that unforgiveness keeps people from rational behavior.

That was this parish's last coffee until September, and I shall most likely not be here. But, I pray for those who hate and those who do not see that the Catholic Church can change the culture, if people change their hearts and minds themselves, becoming like Christ, even at a coffee morning.

Book Begging

One of the mysteries of moving is that I have Volumes Two and Four of The Philokalia, but am missing One and Three. If anyone wants to help me get these, I would be very grateful and would do a walk through the volumes for you all.

I have the 1990 texts from Faber and Faber, which I got when living in England. These are in English.

Called: The Philokalia--The Complete Text. The two I have are in paperback. I actually gave these to STS for his birthday in 2009, although I was using them before that. However, when he left to go into the seminary, he left his books with me. He actually now has more than I do.....

Please continue to pray for the missing vip document.

Ta muchly.

Protestant Anti-Intellecualism

Up until the Protestant Revolt, the number of Catholic educational institutions which dotted the landscape of Europe measured in the thousands. Children from Norway and Sweden to Sicily and Malta were educated by the Benedictines, Dominicans and other orders. Adults listened to sermons on the doctrines of the Church and grew in their Faith.

The idea that the vast majority of people did not understand religion or the Scriptures is a lie perpetrated on purpose to undermine the authority of the Catholic Church. For centuries, the education of children and adults remained a priority among the Catholic hierarchy, and many reformers, such as the Archbishop of Canterbury, St. Anselm. renewed the seminaries demanding that the Trivium and Quadrivium be taught to the priests-to-be.

The high standard of education received a deadly blow of anti-intellectualism with the destruction of the authority of the Church, the destruction of the monastic schools, and the secularization of the ancient Catholic universities. The five "solas", which emphasize even today personal rather than authoritative interpretations of religious teaching, further created a new disenfranchised populace which no longer knew the Faith. Sadly, too many movies and documentaries insist on continuing, even in 2015, the lies that the Protestants created an educated mass populace, when the opposite is true.

Anti-intellectualism cannot be ever seen as a virtue. Reason and faith as gifts from God to the humans bring us to our adult acceptance of a mature stance of religion. For a study of the "solas", look at these links from wiki, which give a fairly decent explanation.

To ignore the intellect and the long history of Tradition in the Church makes one a Protestant. As Newman stated, one cannot study the Early Church Fathers and the Doctors of the Church and remain a Protestant. The truth converts.

It is the duty of every adult to appropriate the Faith through reading, study, watching orthodox aids, and so on. To ignore the adult responsibility of learning the Faith in a mature manner is the sin of spiritual sloth.

Today, I heard a fantastic sermon on the Trinity. The priest shared many perspectives on Church teaching in language which could be understood by most people. He also allowed for the mystery of Faith, which demands the we accept certain truths outside of our understanding.

Until adult Catholics appropriate the Faith in America, the same thing which happened in Ireland will happen here in America. Those who do not have the ability to understand the whys of Catholic teaching will fall for the majority ideologies.

As Fulton J. Sheen said a long time ago, "What do you call an ignorant Catholic? A Protestant."

Living in Fantasies

I know a woman who has recently visited a foreign country because it was filmed in her favorite fantasy movie. She has wanted to visit the scenes of the film, and now she is sending all of us friends photos of this film trip. I have other friends who have done the same thing--make pilgrimages to movie sites or to places where the actors stayed when a movie was made.

The films created a reality for these people, and they want to savor the pilgrimage to the places they have come to love through movies, a parallel movement of the heart to Catholics going on pilgrimages to Lourdes, or Fatima, or Walsingham. However, Our Lady Mary really, truly came to those places and the apparitions are considered real.

Not so with movie sites, as the film or book of the film are complete fantasies, unless the movies are documentaries. It seems that too many people live in fantasy worlds rather than the real world. This woman admits this, publicly, online. She prefers to seek out lovely places rather than face her fear of the future, which she rightly sees as one of lessened freedoms and financial setbacks. She tells all of us who know her that she wants to surround herself with beauty and light in the growing darkness she sees coming upon the West.

Her way of coping with reality is to escape it.

The Christian is not so lucky. As Christians who have been called by God to preach the Gospel and bring people to Christ, we have to face the difficulties of living in a pagan world, trying to spread the good news of Christ's salvific act, and His Divine Person, to a jaded world.

The travelling woman can stand in a green field and look at quaint houses which are all part of a story. But, the real story of sin, death, suffering, and resurrection alludes her. She admits to all of us who listen, and I do, as she wants the truth, but cannot yet accept Christ, that she will enjoy life until she no longer can do so, by living in the world of fantastical beauty. She is old enough to remember happier and more prosperous days, so she yearns for that fulfillment of grace and peace in the material world. I admire her ability to find beauty in the world, but am saddened that she cannot face suffering, which she believes is useless and unnecessary.

She, as many others do, denies the efficacy of suffering. She denies the need for the Crucifixion. Her god has never suffered or died.

Fantasies can be created easily, with the imagination taking over the senses and the intellect. To retreat into a fantastical world means that one can avoid unpleasantries and discomfort. Yet, my God calls me constantly to suffering.  My God will not allow me to substitute mountains or lakes, flowers or fantastical stories for Him and His story, which is the stuff of Redemption.

All of us seek comfort in stress, and as stress becomes more common for many reasons to the intelligent, awake human being, the retreat into fantasy becomes a strong drive. Perhaps retreating into the beauty of false worlds seems more real than the ugliness of the world. Some people create fantasies out of false apparitions, or even occult activities, which involve deceit. Some people create fantasies about their families, or even their Church communities.

God is Beauty, and there is nothing wrong with seeking out the good, the true and the beautiful. But, to suppress reality by denial, and to run away from the strife of spiritual warfare, make one less than human.

Fantasies destroy reason. Fantasies destroy real friendships. Porn is fantasy, and addiction to porn, like addiction to travelling or even reading fantasies, leads one out of reality an into the false never-neverland of denial.

To deny that we Catholics are on the edge of a great turning of civilization reveals that a person has chosen fantasy rather than reality. But, many people either are not willing to face reality, or cannot do so. Actually, none of us can face suffering with great graces from God. But, He wills to give us those graces, and to identify with our personal suffering. Christ does not lead us to anything He has not already suffered. And, He intimately shares in our own sufferings.

God is Real. He is. If we choose the worlds of fantasy over His world, we may find ourselves permanently outside His Life.

Pray for this good, but running woman. Running away from suffering denies the soul, food for growth. She admits she is doing this to many of us. But, she is not the only one. This time of hiding from suffering seems to be a common mode of living for many people.

I wish that the fantasy worlds would all disappear, freeing those inhabitants and making them seek the truth. I pray that those who are caught up in all types of fantasies will come to see that reality, even though sometimes painful, brings us closer to God.

Even evil in the world can be overcome and endured to reveal the glory of God. Such are the lives of the martyrs. These brave men and women never ran away from the truth, and, therefore, forever, not just on a vacation, they have been surrounded with Beauty, the Beauty of the Beatific Vision.

Mourning and Moving On

Some of my boxes of stuff are missing, including boxes of important and rare books.

Having to accept yet another loss is part of my life. I had first editions of Blessed Newman's works-all missing, as well as other rather rare books from England. What is most irritating is losing part of a set of things.

I am still missing a necessary document which I need immediately.

 These missing things seem odd and not in sync with the storage facility, so I am assuming things went missing in the moving of these things.

No one is to blame for such things happen, like boxes left behind or even stealing, as we had happen twice to our stuff in the past, including rare editions of Aquinas and original David Jones artwork. 

As my son says, "Life happens". But, God wants me to be more and more detached--this is part of the detachment.

When I stand before God in my particular judgement, I shall not have Newman's sermons in my hands, or anything, but my sins and hopefully, some merit.

But, losing things prepares us for death. Little deaths prepare us for big ones. 

I have also lost some papers and things from my ancestors. Well, these events break one away from the past. If I were in the convent today, I would have none of these books which I am sorting out and sharing, or preparing to store here, where I am temporarily. God has foreseen from all times these happenings. And, as I have lost so much, these losses are merely more things to give to God.

One becomes attached to things because of memory, which God wants to purify. And, He also wants us to forget many things in the past in order to concentrate on Himself. 

One becomes attached to things because they cost us something-like the first editions of Newman I am missing.

Or, one becomes attached to things because someone we love gave us such things. Again, we must become more and more detached from even those we love.

I mourn and move on, thus preparing my soul, memory, understanding, and will for a great attachment, that of being one with God Himself. Each loss creates space in the heart for God.

We give those who die to God and mourn and move on. The moving on is part of our spiritual growth, and God uses all events to give us an opportunity for receiving His grace.

Loss teaches me something about Christ. He shares in my sufferings, both large and small. He Himself allowed loss in His life on earth. We can hardly understand what His Incarnation actually means.

If I became an amoeba today, this event would not even compare with the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity becoming Man. I am reminded of this passage from Philippians.
For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man.
He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.
Why one has to experience loss in order to gain humility has to do with the fact that we always fall into the old habit of thinking we are immortal. We carry the desire for immortality in our psyches, because our First Parents would not have died if they had not sinned. So, we try and build immortality into our lives by accumulating things which comfort us on earth, like my first edition Newman's writings, which connect me with England, my son, my past, my personal history.
We cannot face death easily because it is unnatural to us, to our real personhood, as we were always as humans called by God to be in eternal bliss with Him from the first days in Eden. When I become more and more detached, I become more and more like Christ Himself, Who emptied Himself and accepted our lot as humans. His loss was voluntary, while my losses are not. Therefore, I considered my losses a grace in disguise, teaching me to look towards the Cross again and again, and remind myself of my mortality.
I have lost so many things including house, car, reputation, friends, family, career, comfort, privacy, status, money, security, country I love, living near my son, and even the ability to use my talents, such as teaching, that I have lost count of the times of stripping down to the basics.
Yet, I am free. God can, as He did with Habakkuk, pick me up and drop me anywhere.

Daniel 14:33-36 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition

33 Now the prophet Habakkuk was in Judea; he had made a stew and had broken bread into a bowl, and was going into the field to take it to the reapers.34 But the angel of the Lord said to Habakkuk, “Take the food that you have to Babylon, to Daniel, in the lions’ den.” 35 Habakkuk said, “Sir, I have never seen Babylon, and I know nothing about the den.” 36 Then the angel of the Lord took him by the crown of his head and carried him by his hair; with the speed of the wind[a] he set him down in Babylon, right over the den.37 Then Habakkuk shouted, “Daniel, Daniel! Take the food that God has sent you.” 38 Daniel said, “You have remembered me, O God, and have not forsaken those who love you.” 39 So Daniel got up and ate. And the angel of God immediately returned Habakkuk to his own place.

Every time I move, I end up praying with people and giving spiritual direction about certain things. This seems to be how God is using me at this time. At least I can move by air and not by hair.

But, God is gentle with me, allowing me not to be loosened from everything at once, but in stages. This is like having a long time to die, rather than a short time. Those who lose everything in floods or tornadoes have faced far more suffering.

Each one of us has to learn that there is only one thing which matters and He is waiting for us to say this to Him.

God, you are my All.