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Sunday 12 July 2015

Interesting Article

Marie-Julie Jahenny

As my dear readers know, I am a mega-skeptic regarding visionaries and caution all to only follow approved apparitions, such as Our Lady of Akita and Our Lady of Kibeho.

Two other modern ones not approved, but in the process of being examined do intrigue me. The first, Marthe Robin, seems genuine, and the other, Marie Julie Jahenny, seems very mysterious.

Father Dan likes Marie Julie Jahenny because she spoke of the coming persecution. However, as one who waits for Rome, I caution others and do not recommend, only point out this fact that she exists and one can read about her here.

My instincts are much more comfortable with Marthe Robin, who one can read about there.

If anyone is interested, there are the links, but I shall wait for Rome.

Also, on some of the websites, other non-approved or even condemned apparitions are found side-by-side with these two above.

If the local bishop approves, it is approved. If the local bishop condemns or states such a thing is not of supernatural origin, it is not true.

This is the way our Church works. And, of course, we do not have to believe in any apparitional words or specific prophecies.

I have not enough time to read the Doctors of the Church, the Early Church Fathers, the encyclicals and the details of approved apparitions.


On The Three Days of Darkness

One of the interesting things Father Dan said yesterday was a comment he made on the three days of darkness. He said that he thought it could mean not a physical darkness (this is not a teaching of the Church, but some saints have prophesied such), but a tearing back of the veil between hell and earth, so that we all can see the spiritual warfare, and, hopefully, repent. The days of darkness would be a vision of the reality of demonic influences on the earth.

But, more importantly than this statement was Father's comment that those who dwell on the negative, on evil, and do not prepare themselves spiritually, these people will fall into either despair or presumption.

Two good points.

Keep Praying--VERY Interesting News

Framing Prayer 14 Carmelites and The Cross

Continuing with the same meditation of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, one reads:

"....there is also a danger that any natural affection may degenerate into passion with all of its devastating consequences. God has provided two remedies for this : marriage and virginity. Virginity is the more radical and precisely therefore the easier...Marriage is already a great mystery as the symbol of the bond between Christ and the Church and at the same time as its instrument. But virginity is still the deeper mystery. It is not only the symbol and instrument of bridal union with Christ and of the union's supernatural fruitfulness, but also participates in the union. It originates in the depths of the divine life and leads back to it again. The eternal Father in unconditional love has given his entire being to his Son. ..."

These thoughts are why one priest I know encourages young men to either choose celibacy as a brother, or get married, as there are graces in the decision of a lifestyle if one does not feel called to be a priest.

One's prayer flows out of one's vocation. God the Son came into the world into order to bring us all up to His Father. The saint writes, "This is the divine fertility of his (Jesus) eternal virginity: that he can give souls supernatural life."

"Divine virginity has a characteristic aversion to sin as the contrary of divine holiness."

And, yet, sinners find love from the true celibate, as they share in Christ's love. "Christ has come to tear sinners away from sin and to restore the divine image in defiled souls. He comes as a child of sin--his genealogy and the entire history  of the Old Covenant show this--and he seeks the company of sinners as as to take all the sins of the world upon himself and carry them away to the infamous wood of the cross, which thereby precisely becomes the sign of his victory."

St. Teresa Benedicta writes that the virginal soul has no fear of sin. Mary at the foot of the Cross, the most perfect of humans and most pure, "becomes the Mother of Grace."

For the laity, choice of vocation determines prayer, but the Carmelite embracing of the Cross may be a very useful focus in these times for many lay people.

This end the view taken from the works of Edith Stein. Tomorrow I move back to Elizabeth of the Trinity, looked at briefly early this year.

Good Article on the Macon Georgia Situ

Framing Prayer 13 Carmelites and The Cross 2

How wonderful to have synchronicity in one's spiritual life. This type of thing happens to me frequently.

Deciding to use St. Teresa Benedicta is this series was a no brainer, as she lived in horrid times of persecution of the Jews and the Church. We are at the cusp of such a time now.

Her movement back into Thomism has been another reason why I have been attracted to her, as I studied Phenomenology for so many years, becoming more and more unhappy with the system, and moving into a more disciplined study of Aquinas.

But, it is St. Teresa Benedicta's love of the cross, and her great understanding of keeping the Faith under trials which makes her a person to emulate regarding prayer.

Prayer just does not pop out of nothing. We need frameworks of prayer. For many of the laity, the rosary and daily Mass, with the readings, (an excellent source for meditations, as I have shared on this blog), form the frame of prayer. But, the richness of the orders give us so much more.

Let me share one more part of a meditation of St. Teresa Benedicta's which she wrote for sharing on September 14, 1941, less than a year before her death. I remember that my dad, who is still alive, was in Europe in the trenches fighting the same foes which would kill this lovely saint.

In this meditation, St. Teresa Benedicta reminds her readers and her listeners of the three nails in the Cross representing the three vows taken by the nuns-poverty, chastity, and obedience, three ways Christ Himself chose to live in His life on earth.

She notes that Christ did not need to embrace poverty, celibacy and obedience, as He was completely detached from all worldly things, but she writes, "Whoever follows him must know that we have no lasting dwelling here. The more deeply we feel this, the more zealous we are in striving for the future, and we rejoice in the thought of our citizenship of heaven."

Teresa was aware and shared in this meditation that the nuns may have had to vacate their monastery because of the coming persecution against orders as revenge for the bishops' statement against the treatment of the Jews. She reminded her sisters in the Lord that God did not promise them when they made vows that they could stay behind the walls. And, her insight moves to something WE must ponder, as I have mentioned this many times on this blog--life without the sacraments.

"For us they are the prescribed means to grace, and we cannot receive them eagerly enough. But God is not bound to them. At the moment when some external force were to cut us off from receiving the sacraments, he would compensate us, superabundantly, in some other way, and he will do so all the more certainly and generously the more faithfully we have adhered to the sacraments previously."

As lay people, we should not hesitate to receive the sacraments as much as possible. Father Dan yesterday stressed this as well-synchronicity, indeed. Teresa reminds us that our lives are determined by God's will if we so desire his will. Then, she returns to the ideal of obedience, pointing out that Christ's life was reparation for the Original Sin of disobedience.

"The created will is not destined to be free to exalt itself. It is called to come into unison with the divine will. If it freely submits itself to this unison, then it is permitted in freedom to participate in the perfection of creation"

Go back and re-read the perfection posts....Here, St Teresa sounds like Garrigou-Lagrange and the other teachers of prayer quoted on this blog.

"If a free creature declines this unison, it lapses into bondage. The human will continues to retain the possibility of choice, but it is constrained by creatures that pull and pressure it in directions from straying from the directions straying from the development of the nature desired by God, and so away from the goal toward which it was directed by its original freedom. With the loss of original freedom, it also loses security in making decisions. It becomes unsteady and wavering, buffeted by doubt and scruples or obdurate in its error. There is no other remedy for this than the following of Christ, the Son of Man, who not only promptly obeyed his heavenly Father, but also subjected himself to people who imposed the Father's will on him. The obedience enjoined by God releases the enslaved will from the bonds of creatures  and leads it back to freedom. Thus, it is also the way to purity of heart."

I need to rush off, so I shall continue with this meditation of St. Teresa Benedicta's later in the day. Those of us who are about to experience persecution need her comforting words.

Choosing Lesser Gods

In my long perfection series, I noted again and again, the God purifies the imagination in the Dark Night. For most of us who go through this process, this means the total giving up of television, movies, and other forms of imaginative creations which take over the place where God wants to meet us in contemplation. I no longer listen to classical music which I love, because it distracts my imagination from God.  I get to much "into " the music. Yes, sometimes classical music and art can lead us to a powerful aesthetic experience and then, into a transcendent experience of God--this has happened to me. But, silence is a better choice for me. Beauty may be found in silence.

I hope you remember my quotation from Thomas Merton. Here is a section of those postings where I shared his great insight on this point....

.. I am certainly no judge of television, since I have never watched it. All I know is that there is a significantly general agreement, among men, whose judgement I respect, that commercial television is degraded, meretricious and absurd. Certainly it would seems 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.  from Seeds of Contemplation, Thomas Merton

I wrote about this years ago on this blog. I quoted Merton from this source:  Cistercian Studies Quarterly, "Inner Experience: Problems of the Contemplative Life (VII)", Vol 19, 1984, notes on pp. 269-270, 

God has given each human being the capacity of passive contemplation. This capacity is for God alone, for the creation of the space which He fills in the Unitive State.

Being passive before the tv fills that space with sewage and deadens the capacity for real contemplation. Worse than that, one becomes contemplatively united with whatever is on the tv through this passive contemplation, which brings one into "mystic attraction until one is spellbound in a state of complete union."
Merton states that either God or tv takes over the "will on a temporal or material level...the the nadir of intellectual and emotional slavery."

Satan knows this and uses tv for his grooming of damned souls.

To move from meditation, to active contemplation, to passive contemplation, is the call of each Catholic.

Are you clogging up the very gift God has given you by passive contemplation of tv? More on this in these posts.

11 Sep 2012
Figures for an Apocalypse by Thomas Merton. Posted by Supertradmum. As a foreigner in a foreign land, I shall not be able to talk about 9-11 as I would want to do today. But, I was in Canada on 9-11. Father Z has part of ...
22 Jan 2013
We only have so much the video here and the next one posted. I have read all of Thomas Merton's books many, many years ago but I have missed some of his articles. Now, I have come across a startling one ...
27 Oct 2014
He also mentioned Thomas Merton, who I had just put back on the blog this morning. Synchronicity. One more point this good priest made was that we all need to think about death. Again, synchronicity considering I just wrote ...
27 Oct 2014
Remember what Thomas Merton said, which I have quoted here before on this blog that television is the opposite of contemplation. And that the very energies of passivity which most men use in watching television are the .

21 Nov 2013
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 ...
10 Aug 2014
Re meditation, is there room for 'quieting' the mind, stopping the mental chatter and allowing God into the stillness? are Thomas Murton's thoughts upon meditation in Western Christianity agreeable with Catholic Christian ...
09 Jan 2015
... anonymous contemplatives in the city, going about their daily tasks? 9 January 2015 at 17:31 · Supertradmum said... Mary Ann, actually, the reference I know is from Thomas Merton, but Maritain may have said this as well.
28 Nov 2013
Remember what Thomas Merton said, which I have quoted here before on this blog that television is the opposite of contemplation. And that the very energies of passivity which most men use in watching television are the ...

29 Nov 2013
As Thomas Merton notes, we are geared to passive intake of knowledge, which happens at the contemplative stage, but if our minds are full of goo from the television, we shall never learn either meditation or contemplation.
07 Dec 2014
Remember the posts on Thomas Merton's brilliant insight into the evil of television? Without a strong intellect, one cannot properly deal with the bombardment of images, good or bad, in this hyperactive world. Even to get on ...
25 Jan 2013
Cardinal Bernadine of Chicago, Thomas Merton (in a yoga pose), Martin Luther King, or homosexual "saints" such as Mychal Judge, Mark Bingham, Harvey Milk, or such people as Oscar Romero, John Donne, We-wha the ...
11 Nov 2014 12 November 2014 at 14:39 · Supertradmum ...

11 Sep 2012
... Father Mark "Vultus Christi" Kirby's first Oblate, I have to say my Benedictine soul is envious. Please know that you're in my prayers, and I'll be asking St. Scholastica and St. Thomas More for their intercession on your behalf.

The reason I return to these thoughts today has to do with the fact that I had a discussion with a young person last night on computer games. This young woman told me that she did not have any clue about spiritual warfare and was curious about my ability to see clearly the spiritual warfare around me. She and I had discussed this before, but this was the first time I made the connection with Thomas Merton's insight and her life choices.

As the great teachers of prayer tell us, to give up the passivity of our minds to another source rather than God means that we give up discernment, a gift given to us in confirmation, connected to the gift of knowledge. Many things can interfere with this gift but too much entertainment, and the type of entertainment can clog the imagination, stopping the use of the gift so needed in today's world.

Note the dates on the posts above. I have tried to point out the need for the clarification of the imagination for years. There must be an unclogging of the imagination which has been purposefully "clogged up". 

Silence and passivity before God must be priorities in our lives now. How can we hear God and see with His Mind if we are not cooperating with the gift of knowledge?

My young friend is not convinced. She and I have discussed this subject for a long time  But, she cannot yet make the connection I have tried to explain to her. Perhaps readers who "get" this can pray for her and those other young people she plays games with online. All these people in her group of gamers are good people, several are Catholic-- they are in their twenties and thirties, but God is calling them to a greater use of their imaginations than gaming---contemplative prayer.

How can one come into union with Christ when the imagination is full of lesser gods? 

UPDATE: Since we spoke, the young woman emailed me to say she has given up playing computer games. I am truly grateful to God for this grace. Please continue to pray for her in her pursuit of prayer. This is a huge turn-around! She will keep me posted on her efforts of prayer. 

Framing Prayer 12 Carmelites and The Cross

St. Teresa Benedicta is, indeed, a saint for our time. In April of 1933, Hitler enforced a law that no Jews could hold a university position. On August 9th, 1942, St. Teresa Benedicta was killed in a gas chamber at Birkenau, Auschwitz. There can be no doubt that this saint knew the coming of her end. We see this in her studies on the sufferings and Cross of Christ.

For the lay person, meditation cannot be seen as an option, as I have noted on this blog since 2012, and as Father Dan emphasized yesterday.

St. Teresa Benedicta's thoughts on the Cross can help any lay person with the growing darkness of our nation, of our world.

Today, I wonder whether I shall ever see my dear son again, if circumstances will prevent me from sharing his life, and even sharing his or my death.

By concentrating on the Cross, at a time, when as the saint notes, "...the need and misery, and the abyss of human malice, again and again dampens jubilation over the victory of light. The world is still deluged by mire, and still only a small flock has escaped from it to the highest mountain peaks. The battle between Christ and the Antichrist is not yet over. The followers of Christ have their place in this battle, and their chief weapon is the cross."

"What does this mean? The burden of the cross that Christ assumed is that of corrupted human nature, with all its consequences in sin and suffering to which fallen humanity is subject. The meaning of the cross is to carry this burden out of the world. The restoration of freed humanity to the heart of the heavenly Father, taking on the status of a child, is the free gift of grace, of merciful love. But this may not occur at the expense of divine holiness and justice. The entire sum of human failures from the first Fall up to the Day of Judgment must be blotted out by a corresponding measure of expiation."

"The way of the cross is this expiation...The Saviour is not alone on the way of the cross...Everyone who, in the course of time, has borne an onerous destiny in remembrance of the suffering Saviour, or who has freely taken up works of expiation has by doing so cancelled some of the heavy load of human sin and has helped the Lord carry his burden."

What St. Teresa Benedicta is writing about is reparation...follow the tags for more of my blogs on this. We have forgotten what it means to be joined to the suffering of Christ. And, this is an honor. To be ask to join with Christ in his passion may be one of the greatest graces of our times.

The following words are astounding. "Or rather, Christ the head effects expiation in these members of his Mystical Body who put themselves body and soul at his disposal for carrying out his work of salvation."

Christ reaching out to us on the Cross is not only a comfort, but a sign of our duty to suffer with and in him.

The saint continues, "The lovers of the cross whom he has awakened and will always continue to awaken anew in the changeable history of the struggling Church, these are his allies at the end of time. We, too, are called to that purpose."

Many of us are suffering at this time of growing paganism, of the surety of the loss of freedoms, of the prospect of imprisoned priests and harassed laity.  St. Theresa Benedicta's world was similar to ours--a time of growing tyranny and ruthlessness towards a particular religion, a specific culture.

The parallels strike us as not only timely, but a necessary meditation for us to ponder at this crossroad of history.

"Voluntary expiatory suffering is what truly unites one to the Lord intimately. When it arises, it comes from an already existing relationship with Christ. For, by nature, a person flees from suffering. And the mania for suffering caused by a perverse lust for pain differs completely from the desire to suffer in expiation....Only someone whose spiritual eyes have been opened to the supernatural correlation of worldly events can desire suffering  in expiation, and this is only possible for people in whom the spirit of Christ dwells, who as members are given life by the Head, receive his power, his meaning, and his direction. Conversely, works of expiation  bind one closer to Christ, as every community that works together on more task becomes more and more closely knit and as the limbs of a body, working together organically, continually become more strongly one."

I hope readers see that this is the time to consider reparation and expiation as part of our daily prayer.

St. Teresa Benedicta continues.....

"But because being one with Christ is our sanctity, and progressively becoming one with him our happiness on earth, the love of the cross in no way contradicts being a joyful child of God. Helping Christ carry his cross fills one with a strong and pure joy, and those who may and can do so, the builders of God's kingdom, are the most authentic children of God....."

She notes that Good Friday is not over....then, she states:

"Only those who are saved, only children of grace, can in fact be bearers of Christ's cross. Only in union with the Divine Head does human suffering take on expiatory power.."

It seems to me that the lay person would find this spiritual insight an easy path to follow in prayer and reflection. Are there not many who suffer daily now? Will not this suffering increase? Can we not use this suffering to join with Christ, "in union" with him and thereby become saints?

Perhaps the daily meditations demanded by our lives as Catholics can be focused on the Passion and Death of Christ. Many saints recommend thinking on the cross as a way to salvation.

St. Theresa Benedicta shows us that in times of great hardship, one can turn suffering into joy, and pain into reparation.

Two more posts on this saint.....

Framing Prayer 11 St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross continued....

Because of two books which I have now borrowed on the meditations of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, I can continue with the framing of prayer in a Carmelite way for the laity. Because I want to move on to Elizabeth of the Trinity, St. Ignatius and the Benedictines, I shall only have a few posts today on Edith Stein.

Someone remarked today that the theme of obedience has been a major one on this blog, which it has. St. Teresa Benedicta states this, "It is a mysterious fact that obedience is efficacious against the power of darkness...but it is a fact."

For a lay person to submit one's prayer life to another may be one of the greatest challenges of these times of priest and nun shortages. Spiritual direction can come in many ways, and in these times of difficulty and trials, to find one may not be possible.

Then, what do we do with our prayer life? We turn to the Church.

Interestingly, Edith Stein began studying Thomas Aquinas because of the guidance of her spiritual director she had as a lay person. This director told her not to enter Carmel right away, but to study Aquinas and pray for a while, as well as teach.  She did this for eight years, living under private vows at this time. When she came under a second spiritual director, she was told to travel and give lectures, while she wanted to go into the convent and pray.

I readily identify with her humble decision to follow the director and wait longer before entering the convent. How long have I waited for a little cell, a little house of prayer?

In the absence of a spiritual director, one goes with the movements of the Holy Spirit and speaks with holy friends for guidance. Out of these discussions can easily come a consensus. Then, one must choose obedience to that consensus.

For example, in my decision to go back to wearing blacks and whites, slowly but surely, I asked the opinion of three mature women in Christ. All three who have known me, (two for more than 10 years), agreed that this was a good idea for several reasons. I can trust these three mature spiritual women in the absence of a director at this time. I do not want to go into blacks and whites, but this seems to be God's Will for me at this time.

Edith Stein knew that if one surrendered one's will to the Will of God, graces would flow from this denial of the self. Finally, she was encouraged to enter Carmel. All her years were a test of self-denial, and a growth of virtue. She states that for the layperson, Sunday is the great "door" to heaven and grace, which will take one through the work week.  On that day, and the day of special feasts, the time to concentrate on prayer and celebrate the liturgy gives strength to the lay person for the entire week.

But, perhaps the most important framework for lay prayer following the Carmelite way may be clearly seen in this quotation: "Lay all care for the future, confidently, in God's hands, and allow yourself to be led by him entirely, as a child would. then you can be sure not to lose your way."

Her emphasis on "childlike confidence in God" follows the examples of the two great Ts, Teresa of Avila, and Therese of Lisieux.  She wrote that nothing is accidental, that all the "minute details" of her life were pre-designed, "in the plans of divine providence"  and therefore, "for the all-seeing eye of God a perfect coherence of meaning."

This confidence comes only through prayer, reflection and study.

She writes: "...those who attain the freedom of these heights and expansive views have outgrown what is usually called 'happiness' and 'unhappiness'. They may have to fight hard for worldly existence, may lack the support of a warm family life or, correspondingly, of the human community which sustains and supports--but lonely and joyless they can no longer be. Those who live with Holy Church and its liturgy, i.e., as authentic Catholics, can never be lonely: they find themselves embedded in the great human community; everywhere, all are united as brothers and sisters in the depths of their hearts. And because  streams of living water flow from all those who live in God's hand, they exert a mysterious magnetic appeal on thirsty souls. Without aspiring to it, they must become guides of other persons striving to the light; they must practice spiritual maternity, begetting and drawing sons and daughters nearer to the kingdom of God."

St. Teresa Benedicta was a lay person for a long time. Her ultimate goal was always oneness with God. The fact that she came to a holy lifestyle as a layperson inspires all of us.

The Carmelite way of prayer, study, reflection on one's own fits nicely into the single and married life.

I shall return to her later.....quotations are from Communion with Christ According to Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross Author: Sister M. Regina van den Berg

Talk Notes from Father Dan

Because I am on the run today and had to leave the retreat early, I shall only share a few key points from one talk now, and from three later when I get the information from those from another person.

Father Dan stressed that in the coming times of tribulation and stress, only those who have a strong core of a Catholic lifestyle will be able to withstand the worst persecution the Church has ever seen.

Here are the BASICS Father listed for a Catholic to maintain a life of grace and focus.

I shall put these in a numbered list, as he did.
  1. Frequent Confession--the priest called this the sacrament of humility. He noted that frequent confession breaks sin and gives grace to deal with habitual sins.every sin violates the law of justice. God's glory is robbed when we sin and we owe Him justice. Demons know this and are legalistic. they know this and that we cannot pay God back what is due to Him. But, in confession, the legal aspect of sin is broken. And, once you go to confession, no longer does that sin have any legal force in God's justice. Pope Leo X said  that every time you confess a sin from your past, you make reparation for that sin.Reparation makes up part of the grace of confession. We need to make reparation and confessing our sins allows us to start that process. (But we need to think of other means to make reparation for our sins.)
  2. Daily meditation for at least 15 minutes must be incorporated in the Catholic lifestyle. This meditation starts with a Scripture passage from the life of Christ or the passages on Mary. Meditation must be centered on Christ and not the self or nothing. Many posts on the blog teach one how to meditate in a Catholic manner. The rosary would provide 15 minutes of meditation.
  3. Frequent reception of the Eucharist is a must. The demons hate the Eucharist. Communion fortifies us and gives us tremendous graces.
  4. Living a life of the Catholic sacraments, being confirmed, choosing a Catholic partner for marriage. (And raising children as Catholics would be necessary for salvation and personal holiness can grow out of, of course, a good marriage.)
  5. A consistent prayer life is absolutely necessary. Father Dan quoted St. Teresa of Avila, paraphrasing her and saying, "He who does not pray will not be saved." He referred to the nine levels of prayer, to which I referred on this blog in the past.
  6. So the point is that only those with solid prayer lives will make it through the trials.
to be continued....

Blog Change A Comin'

I am announcing a huge blog change which will be coming by the end of the month. I shall be changing a format and beginning a special forum for some very special people

Pray the change occurs in timely fashion.

I am still more than ever trying to raise money for a house of prayer. It was clear to me on the retreat that I should continue with this project.

Tomorrow and through the beginning of the week, I shall continue with the Carmelites, Jesuits and Benedictines in the Framing Prayer series. The blog will be changed for sure by mid-August.

I have notes from the retreat, but I have to finish getting the information from the last three talks, as I had to leave early.

Watch this space.  Bye the way, if there are any Catholic priest's wives who are reading this blog, and are interested in helping me with a project online, please contact me via the combox and send me your email, which I shall not publish.