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Monday 8 June 2015

UPDATE info request

The USCCB had originally declared June 21 to July 4th as fourteen days for prayer and penance for religious freedom.

However, if someone could help me clarify this, I heard this morning after Mass that the Bishops have asked for special prayers this Saturday, June 14th, as the decision from the Supreme Court is expected on Monday.

I have not been able to find this morning an article on this special call to prayer. If anyone knows of this, please let me know so I can post this.

Fotos from First Mass

Fr. Trevino's First Mass yesterday on the Feast of Corpus Christi....plenary indulgence for all who attended if they went or go to Confession within two weeks either side of the Mass and said prayers for the intentions of the Pope...Benediction followed after the Corpus Christi procession--The Benediction "foto" is first.

more later.....

From Today's Office of Readings

Second Reading

The letter of St Ignatius of Antioch to the Romans

Let me not only be called a Christian, but prove to be one

You have never begrudged the martyrs their triumph but rather trained them for it. And so I am asking you to be consistent with the lessons you teach them. Just beg for me the courage and endurance not only to speak but also to will what is right, so that I may not only be called a Christian, but prove to be one. For if I prove myself to be a Christian by martyrdom, then people will call me one, and my loyalty to Christ will be apparent when the world sees me no more. Nothing you can see is truly good. For our Lord Jesus Christ, now that he has returned to his Father, has revealed himself more clearly. Our task is not one of producing persuasive propaganda; Christianity shows its greatness when it is hated by the world.
I am writing to all the churches to declare to them all that I am glad to die for God, provided you do not hinder me. I beg you not to show me a misplaced kindness. Let me be the food of beasts that I may come to God. I am his wheat, and I shall be ground by the teeth of beasts, that I may become Christ’s pure bread.
I would rather that you coaxed the beasts to become my tomb and to leave no scrap of me behind; then when I have died I will be a burden to no one. I shall be a true disciple of Christ when the world no longer sees my body. Pray to Christ for me that by these means I may become a sacrifice to God. I do not give you orders like Peter and Paul. They were apostles, I am a condemned criminal; they were free, I am still a slave. But if I suffer, I shall become the freedman of Jesus Christ and I shall rise again to freedom in him.
Now as a prisoner I am learning to give up my own wishes. All the way from Syria to Rome I am fighting wild beasts, by land and by sea, by day and by night, chained as I am to ten leopards, I mean the detachment of soldiers who guard me; the better you treat them, the worse they become. I am more and more trained in discipleship by their ill usage of me, but I am not therefore justified. How happy I will be with the beasts which are prepared for me! I hope that they will make short work of me. I shall even coax them to devour me quickly and not to be afraid of touching me, as sometimes happens; in fact, if they hold back, I shall force them to it. Bear with me, for I know what is good for me. Now I am beginning to be a disciple. May nothing visible or invisible rob me of my prize, which is Jesus Christ! The fire, the cross, packs of wild beasts, lacerations, rendings, wrenching of bones, mangling of limbs, crushing of the whole body, the horrible tortures of the devil – let all these things come upon me, if only I may gain Jesus Christ!

The Vision of The Principle

For centuries, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church have likened the two wives of Jacob to the active or contemplative life. In modern times, in order not to make active women feel bad about their lives, priests have not quoted these passages comparing Leah to the active life and Rachel to the contemplative life.

I remember reading about this many, many decades ago. To make the distinction is not to dis women in the active life, (I was a single mum, working, homeschooling, keeping the books, etc. and I did not feel dissed), but to reflect on the two ways which must both end up in the same place, perfection.

Aquinas, again quoted by the Maritains, states, "Absolutely speaking and in itself, the contemplative life is better than the active. The Philosopher proves this by eight reasons."

Here theses are with more explanation as to the comparison of Rachel to Leah.

One, "The contemplative life is suitable to man in regard to his most perfect possession, the intellect, and in relation to the proper objects of that faculty, namely the intelligibles, while the active life is concerned with exterior things. Wherefore the name of Rachel, who represents the contemplative life, means the vision of the principle, the active life being represented by Lia, who suffered from weak eyes..." Maritains quoting St. Gregory here.

Rachel was the great beloved wife of Jacob who bore him his favorite sons, Joseph and Benjamin. His long time of labor in order to "pay" for her to her father, Laban, represents the long journey of purgation in the Dark Nights, purging one of sins.

Laban tricked Jacob, (a punishment from God for Jacob tricking his own father), and gave Leah to him first. Finally, Jacob won Rachel, the desire of his heart, and his soul mate.

Rachel came to represent the contemplative life, not only because of her name, but because she represented the true desire, the purer love. of Jacob's heart.

Our truest desire is for God alone. That is the key to following the contemplative life. Being back in the States, I have seen the terrible distractions and waste of energy for so many things which are not necessary to the spiritual life.

The second point, Two, has been discussed by those in monasteries.

"The contemplative life can be more continuous (though this continuity cannot be referred to the supreme act of contemplation); this is why Mary, who symbolises contemplative life, s shewn us as always at the feet of the Lord.:

Three, "The delectation of the contemplative life is greater than that of the active; this is the meaning of S. Augustine's saying that Martha was worried while Mary was feasting."

Four, "In the contemplative life man is more self-sufficient for he depends in this exercise less on external things; wherefore it is said in Luke IV, 'Martha, Martha, thou are troubled and worried about many things."

One reason I love going to Europe is that I can walk and not have to drive or have a car, eat much more simply, get to daily Mass and Adoration easily, and have a lower lifestyle. Americans have fallen into Satan's trap of complicating their lives by desires for novelties and more and more things. When one settles for less, one is freer to meet God daily.

Five, "The contemplative life is loved for its own sake, while the active life is ordained for something beyond itself; wherefore it is said in Ps. 26, (translated) ' One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. That I may see the delight of the Lord, and may visit his temple.'"

I shall continue with the next three points later. I am still looking for the small place where I can pray and for two women, two only, to join me in contemplation, and, thankfully, after slightly over two weeks of being here, starting tomorrow, I can go back into my monastic schedule. Thank God.

May I add that since the late 1970s, when some mothers had to go to work, that I thought this was a lie from Satan to destroy the contemplative atmosphere of a disciplined, well-ordered home, where the mother was the quiet center of life and order.

When there is no home-centered woman, it is much harder to have daily rosary or novenas in the home, or other times of meditation.

Home schooling moms of my generation, even those with many children. created that quiet atmosphere of prayer and study, very monastic, very simple, thus leading themselves and their children into a place of contemplation. Consumerism and financial lies about "having it all" caused some of the chaos. Women's lib created some of the deceit that a mother's role at home had no value. Of course, without that still center, families cannot easily come to listen and know God or the life of virtue.  A home can be active and yet the old Montessori schools wherein we whispered and the children worked in a quiet hum of activity.

to be continued.... 

Aquinas on Contemplation from The Maritains

This quotation is so beautiful, I just have to share it with you.....

From the same little book I have been using for the past few days, Prayer and Intelligence, by Jacques and Raissa Maritain.

"The contemplative life consists in a sort of leisure, a repose....a liberty of spirit" in which man,"burns with a desire of seeing the beauty of God"....and offers him, "his soul in sacrifice", it has its beginning and end in love, it is "directly and immediately concerned with the love of God himself, "it is ordained not to any kind of love of God, but to the perfect love of Him" and constitutes in a certain sense a commencement of beatitude...."

The burning desire for God makes one desire silence in order to hear the Bridegroom speak in the soft, love voice of love.

Again, I cannot stress the important of choosing simplicity of lifestyle. One can choose to eliminate so many unnecessary things, events, thoughts, which crowd out the voice of Christ.

Simplicity means choosing the smallest, the simplest, the plain, over the complicated.

Remember, without a schedule, one cannot become holy, and without simplicity, one cannot hear God.

What a Treat!

Heard this one while blogging in the evening on Sunday.

And, my friend has these in her backyard...

Boomeranging Back to The Self

Four of the most common pitfalls of those who follow Christ into the Dark Nights of the Senses and Spirit, and even moving into the Illuminative State, may be defined as "boomeranging back to the self."

The Maritains describe some of these tendencies to fall back into pride and egotism which they call "the reflex action of the mind, the tendency to come back on ourselves." A grave sin of those who in this day and age, note the Maritains, have a propensity to want to describe or examine self in terms of analysis and psychological curiosity.

In 2015, I can plainly state, that the most common sin I have witnessed among Catholics has been the psychologizing of sin. Now people can explain away, apparently, responsibility and consequences of sin because of psychological interpretations of so-called hurt, emotional upset, or even abuse, as if God's grace could not and would not cut through the most terrible of sins a person can endure from others.

Looking too much at sin may be part of the fault of this psychological thinking, as well as the need to talk too much and not rest in quiet. The Maritains make it quite clear that there are many reasons why a person falls back into the self, and noise or senseless talking take one away from quiet.

Years ago now, (time flies), if you remember my time in Tyburn, I recall being aware that I had sinned much less in the convent and fallen back into habitual venial sins when coming out. The one big reason why this was true, in fact, THE reason, was the lack of keeping silent all day except for prayer, classes, and the forty-five minutes of communal talk time, in which one was not allowed to talk about one's self.

Simply, talk brings about a myriad of sins. Bragging, lying, exaggerating, gossiping, and so on, all sins of the tongue, cannot happen if one keeps long silences. Time wasted on speaking of trivia, also a sin, cannot happen if one keeps silence as much as possible. Talk takes us back into the realm of the ego.  Silence demands that we leave egotism for contemplation of God.

The second reason we boomerang back into the self is one which I have described on this blog many times-acting out of ego, even in so-called "ministries" instead of acting out of humility and the other virtues. There is no merit, none, in actions formed out of the ego. Only when one has been stripped of the ego can one truly serve God and the Church. Dying to self means that one is not aware of one's good works.

The Maritains make it quite clear that one should not read mystical books in order to find out what level of spirituality one has come to know or live in daily. This is boomeranging back into the self. In our overly self-conscious society, when we are fixated on our health, finances, and general well-being, curiosity, which is always a sin, about our own spiritual life sets us back to the self. We must become detached from ourselves and from our own prayer. The Maritains quote St Anthony Abbot in a startling sentence: "The prayer is not perfect if the monk knows he is praying."

The third turning back to self is something I am learning quickly, having read such things in the stories of the Desert Fathers, but now experiencing again, and perhaps finally "getting it", that one does not have to nor should one defend one's self when one is falsely accused of some sin.

This happened today, again. Sadly, I fell into defensive mode, and realized, again, that I had not passed the test. Several stories, including the one about a later saint, St. Gerard Majella, reveal the non-necessity of defending one's innocence, just as Christ did not do so in front of the Sanhedrin.

Defense brings us back to the self. To absorb or even transcend false accusations brings a peace and a quietude to the soul, and also, frees up the Holy Spirit to step in and defend one.

One story surrounds the life of St. Macarius, one of my favorite Desert Fathers. Even as a young man, he was known for his wisdom and discernment.

He was married but his wife died young and he finally went into the desert again. Because of his great gifts of discernment and wisdom, his superior gave him the job of counseling religious women. However, a pregnant woman accused Macarius publicly of violating her, and he did not defend himself.  When the time for the birth of the baby came, the woman was in such long labor and pain, she admitted that she had lied to bring down the righteous man. The superior asked Macarius why he had not defended himself, as the saint had said nothing to stand up for himself when accused. Macarius knew that defense would being him back into himself.

This stance may seem strange to Americans and the English who love to hire lawyers for detraction. However, God loves those who chose the humble way of relying on Him instead of looking at themselves.

The fourth way in which one boomerangs back is concentrating too much on one's "vocation" or "gifts". I have mentioned the horrible gifting programs which are not based on Catholic theology, and to over concentrate on a lost vocation or any vocation, constantly going back over one's life regarding vocation is a sign of boomeranging back into the self.

When one is tempted to turn back to the self, one can merely look at Christ, either on the Cross, or in glory. I personally like the Face Painted Without Hands to bring my thoughts back to the Bridegroom.

For years I have been convinced that the great heretics were in the Illuminative State when they boomeranged back into the self. Why? Why would Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Arius and many others fall into heresy from a height of infused knowledge?

They boomeranged back into pride on the discovery of the new graces God had given them. To me, the great sin of heretics is that they twisted knowledge from God into their own image and likeness, choosing power over humility, choosing self over God.

There but for the grace of God go I or any others.

Not surprised

A Hierarchy of Virtues

The theological virtues help us practice the moral virtues. But, the Maritains point out that there is a hierarchy of virtue. Faith "attains God in obscurity, remaining as it were from a distance from Him in so far as Faith is belief in that which is not seen." Therefore, we live in Faith when we are not in union with God, do not perceive Him or do not experience being in His Presence.

Hope, as the CCC notes, "is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit."

Hope is, again, based on desires unfulfilled. We use hope to trust in God and not rely on ourselves but on God. 

Faith and hope form the basis of our walk in the Dark Nights of the Senses and Spirit. Once a person is purified, the virtue of love takes over the soul and mind. Here are the Maritains on this point:

" attains god immediately in Himself, making an intimate union precisely with that which is concealed in Faith. And thus, although Faith regulates love and union with God in so far as it proposes the  object to the will: nevertheless, in virtue of the union by which love adheres immediately to God, the intelligence is moved by the affective experience of the soul to judge of divine things in a higher fashion than belongs to the obscurity of Faith..."

One cannot love but very imperfectly without the necessary purification of the senses and soul. Thus, those who have a hard time loving in truth have tried to love without the purgation of those faults which stand in the way of union. This is one reason why love must be purified in marriage, through sacrificial actions. 

But, the more one loves God, the more one wants to love Him and others, as love leads to greater understanding and forbearance. Then, discernment "kicks in". Only those who are orthodox and those who allow God to purify their imaginations, wills, intellect and senses can have true discernment of higher things, such as God's will.

If one is confused, go back to the posts on Divine Knowledge I did this year. Divine Knowledge comes from love. When one realizes the Indwelling of the Trinity, this love becomes a way of life. We shall finally, in heaven, in the Beatific Vision, have knowledge of God as He really is.