Thursday, January 14, 2021

My apologies


I'm sorry I haven't responded to comments, and more especially, to friends who sent Christmas cards.  I have no excuse.  

I'm still not myself - and don't know who that is.  

I'm living like a monk, alone and afflicted.  I pray the Office and rosary, and I'm united to the prayer of the Church in and through the prayers and readings of daily Mass.  

Thank you for your prayers.  My every thought, word, deed, penance, prayer and action is for my friend Darold.  

Please pray for my friend Darold.  Thank you.

(I'm closing comments - prayer is better than comments.  I feel your prayers.  Thank you.)

Saturday, January 09, 2021

"Children, be on your guard against idols."

We know that we belong to God,
and the whole world is under the power of the Evil One.
- 1 Jn 5

This past week, Josiah Colt was one of the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol and broke into Congress. He has since apologized profusely, begging forgiveness for violating the 'sacred ground':

"While in the Chamber I told the other protesters that this is a sacred place and not to do any damage. Some of them wanted to trash the place and steal stuff but I told them not to and to leave everything in its place. We're still on sacred ground." - source

I was a bit cynical about his apology, perhaps he's hoping for a pardon from Trump?  More likely, he understands that he can be charged and prosecuted, or at best, find himself unemployed for a long time, after potential employers see his social media activity and current media exposure.  

Just yesterday, a friend who has a couple of websites and her own news aggregator site, posted a bit of fake news about the discovery of discarded ballots in Georgia.  There is a fair amount of documentation refuting that story.  I didn't comment but left a link to an AP article contradicting the story.  I'm not getting into linking all of these threads, I just want to note that my friend said she doesn't believe anything from the AP.  Trump campaigned on fake news - repeating claims that MSM was totally and completely fake news, implying that he and a few rightwing news outlets was the only source for truth, Trump picked up on every conspiracy theory and used them to promote his lies and half truths.  The result was a huge success with his followers and supporters.

“People were willing to die for this man and he just threw them all under the bus. That’s the only thing that’s shameful about the events of the past 36 hours,” Nick Fuentes.

Until, faced with the blow back after the assault on the Capitol, wherein 5 people lost their lives - for him (yet as of this writing, I haven't heard or read if he even extended sympathy for the deceased and their families) Trump turned on his supporters.  The last I heard, his last ditch effort to save his 'legacy' by denouncing those who attacked the Capitol, some of the MAGA people have turned on him. 

"After years of fidelity, Donald Trump's most ardent online fans have finally turned on him.
All it took was for the president to acknowledge the reality of his loss a little over a day after they, the MAGA faithful, stormed the Capitol in a violent attempt to stop the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s win.".- Politico

Yet that won't deter his pro-life militia and Catholics for Trump, inspired by such luminaries as Archbishop Vigano, followed by Catholic sacerdotal-personalities Fr. Pavone, Z, Heilman, et al - along with the EWTN Night Gallery network of dark fantasies and pro-Trumpsters and anti-papists.

Children, be on your guard against idols.

Seemingly unrelated, yet returning to the title of this post, the final words of today's first reading at Mass made a deep impression upon me - a sort of wonderful reprimand after engaging with people online over the past few days, and watching news coverage almost non stop: "Children, be on your guard against idols." I've pondered it all morning, so now I would like to offer a couple of thoughts which compliment my own.

“Once capital becomes an idol that presides over a socioeconomic system, it enslaves us, sets us at odds with each other, excludes the poor, and endangers the planet we all share.”
- Pope Francis, Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future

"As Francis also says in Fratelli Tutti: “We need to learn how to unmask the various ways that the truth is manipulated, distorted and concealed in public and private discourse.”
Post-truth journalism is not just about narratives for financial profit; it can also be for political or ideological ends. Whole media organizations can degenerate into “an association of individuals united against a perceived common enemy,” as Francis puts in Fratelli Tutti referring to “digital campaigns of hatred and destruction.” - Austen Ivereigh

“Whoever takes refuge in fundamentalism is afraid of setting out on the road to truth. He already “has” the truth, and deploys it as a defense, so that any questioning of it is interpreted as an aggression against his person.”
- Pope Francis, Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future

Happy New Year as we return to Ordinary Time.

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Approaching Jesus

From today's Gospel.

After the five thousand had eaten and were satisfied,
Jesus made his disciples get into the boat
and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida,
while he dismissed the crowd.
And when he had taken leave of them,
he went off to the mountain to pray...

When Jesus sent the disciples away, and while he dismissed the crowd - that is the time to approach him.  When no one can prevent you from approaching him - no one to condemn or scold you.  This is the moment of genuine prayer and healing.  

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Matt Talbot.

A new painting by Nico M. Peeters.

It is a wonderful painting.  The narrative posted here, written by Nico Peeters, was sent to me by a friend of his.

“ Matt was a common laborer, working most of his life at a timber factory on the quay of Liffey River in Dublin, where ships used to discharge their cargo of timber. What makes his life special and at the same time very recognizable, is his struggle to get rid of his addiction to alcohol. He regularly fell back, but strengthened by the grace of God, he at last conquered himself. He attended Holy Mass whenever he could and nurtured by the Holy Eucharist, he grew in living a decent life and self denial. He has always been loyal to his patron and kept working until he died at the age of 77 in 1925.

This painting depicts, at the left, the always latent present temptation of reaching out to alcohol again, when things become difficult. Liquor may provide some relief, but at the end it always leaves one in darkness and loneliness. From the right the light of Christ illuminates life and gives strength to withstand temptations. The log in Matt’s hands symbolizes Christ’s cross, which acts as a barrier between him and temptation. We are not able to redeem ourselves, only Christ delivers us from evil.

At the quay a typical timber ship from the twenties and a lorry. The fellow laborer behind Matt shows the solidarity by his colleagues, who relieved him, when he became older, from too heavy labor and provided him a small burlap sack to prevent logs sliding off his slightly sloping shoulders. Still Matt accepted all hardships from life in a cheerful mood, being aware of the glory awaiting all those, who are not afraid to surrender to Christ, Who is the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end of all times.” - Nico Peters

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Following up

I was looking over some old posts, regarding gay Catholics and the differences of opinion regarding the topic.  Over the years I bent over backwards defending Catholic teaching - because it worked for me.  The more public I became, the more I heard from critics, gay and straight.  Some telling me that my life wasn't good enough - since I lived with a man - my longtime companion.  Over and over again, I had to assure my accusers that I was faithful to Catholic teaching.  Frequently, some would say I couldn't be.  Amazing since my spiritual directors and confessors all agreed that I was.

I'm not portraying myself as a saint or some sort of example, I'm just pointing out how outsiders, those who only know me superficially were so willing to judge me.  Foolishly, I ventured into the gay Catholic controversy with so many people, I can't believe I felt obligated to explain myself.  Some would have me denounce this gay group or that group, this priest or that writer for their support of lgbtq issues.  Sometimes I was told I was risking my immortal soul for not condemning so and so, or some new movement.  Sometimes other bloggers would 'out' me based up nothing factual - just that I was too soft on gay issues.  Many online are always on the hunt, ready to expose gay people - accusing them to be infiltrators.  And I fell for all of that nonsense.

I'm embarrassed for some of the posts I've written, often critical of the diversity of Catholic opinion regarding gay Catholics.  I'm embarrassed that I jumped on that bandwagon myself, so many times.

Now that I'm alone, I have no need to engage on this subject, nothing to prove to anyone.  No one to answer to save Christ. With a heart full of gratitude, I thank our Lord for his grace, his fidelity and his mercy over the years.  He is the one who sanctifies and saves - unmerited by me.  When we cooperate with God's grace which comes to us in Jesus, whose power at work in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.  We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

Saturday, January 02, 2021

The Cardinal and St. John

They share a tombstone with the inscription "out of shadows and phantasms into the truth".

"The two men loved each other deeply, had a life-long friendship, and lived together. And since Newman's death in 1890 they have remained in the same grave in Rednal, about eight miles from Cardinal Newman's house in Edgbaston, outside Birmingham. In 1854 Newman wrote: "We have bought (I trust) a burying place -- under the Lickey Hills, just about eight miles off -- it is a most beautiful spot. . . . We are going to build a cottage there and ultimately a mortuary chapel." They share a tombstone with the inscription "out of shadows and phantasms into the truth" etched across it. Newman wrote after the death of St John in 1875: "I have ever thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband's or a wife's, but I feel it difficult to believe that any can be greater, or anyone's sorrow greater, than mine." - Austen Ivereigh
Another saint attempting to express his sorrow over the death of his (same-sex) best friend 15 centuries earlier, wrote:
"My eyes sought him everywhere, but they did not see him; and I hated all places because he was not in them, because they could not say to me, 'Look, he is coming,' as they did when he was alive and absent." - St. Augustine

I need to recall these things, which is why I post them.

"And in his love for David, Jonathan renewed his oath to him, because he loved him as he loved himself." - 1 Samuel 20:17

Just a comment on chaste and celibate friendship.

Prayer and sacrifice are very much involved.  Some protest that chaste celibacy for a single man is not a sacrifice, since there be no intention or inclination to marriage.  That is mistaken, abstaining from sexual activity is one's duty in his particular state in life - hence this obedience is one's first sacrifice.  In a revelation to Sr. Lucia of Fatima our Lord clarified the sacrifice he demands of souls: "The sacrifice of everybody to fulfil his own duty, and to observe my law: this is the penance that I want and that I require right now."

This practice of chastity in friendship is strengthened through prayer and fidelity to the moral law, with the support of one another. As I have said before, it has always been my conviction, that by the grace of God, this is possible for same sex friends who have agreed to live in fidelity to Catholic teaching regarding marriage and sexuality. In other words, they help one another to live a virtuous life, while endeavoring to practice good works, as 'faith without works is dead.' Like Jonathan, who loved David as he loved himself, they support one another in fulfilling the "royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (James 2:8)

I'll reprint a further clarification of what this means.

In “Nicomachean Ethics,” Aristotle offers students a refreshing alternative to the instrumentality of modern life: the pursuit of goodness. Goodness inspires honor, and mutual honor is the stuff of friendships of virtue. These are the friendships which yield the greatest happiness.
"Friendships of virtue depend, of course, on the mutual strength of character in the friends themselves; and friends must continually hold each other to high standards. The formation of moral virtue requires both an exemplar and a cultivated desire for and recognition of the good when one sees it. But the complete moral life which leads to full human flourishing, Aristotle claims, includes another dimension of virtue: intellectual. As rational animals, the life of the mind naturally plays a critical role in being human. And friendship based on contemplation of the good, the true, and the beautiful—though rare—is a friendship to be treasured most. " - The Goods of Friendship

I must say however, it is sheer grace to find such a friend and to live in this manner - grace and mercy - one can't do it without that.  And it is not as if one is aware of it, because life doesn't allow time for such introspection, as it were.  Since we are busy about living and our meditation and prayer isn't attached to the 'idea' of friendship in and of itself.  What I'm getting at, is an understanding of 'disinterested friendship' - it seems to me quite natural.  The Cardinal and St. John strike me as the perfect model of what that means.


Sunday, December 27, 2020

Third Day of Christmas


Feast of the Holy Family.

"Jesus, Mary and Joseph, living in exile in Egypt to escape the fury of an evil king, are, for all times and all places, the models and protectors of every migrant, alien and refugee of whatever kind who, whether compelled by fear of persecution or by want, is forced to leave his native land, his beloved parents and relatives, his close friends, and to seek a foreign soil." - (From Pope Pius XII, in his apostolic constitution “Exsul Familia”)

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Second Day of Christmas

Good King Wenceslas

The Feast of Stephen.

I should write something - especially after the last post.  I don't know what to write however.  I also don't feel like it.

At one point I stopped really preparing for Christmas.  I sent out some cards, but didn't finish.  I think a lot of people didn't send cards.  Word must have gotten around that Darold died, because he didn't receive any cards.  A couple of his friends were my friends too, and they never even acknowledged his death when I sent them notice, much less responded with a Christmas card.  That was a good lesson for me - I believed they were my friends - but they were simply being polite.  The Imitation of Christ has some things to say about that - which helped me very much.  It is better for me.  It's a lesson I always need repeating - those who flatter you deceive you.  Likewise, it's could to have people recognize our faults and failings, As St. Philip Neri admonished: "He who cannot put up with the loss of his honour, can never make any advance in spiritual things." 

There you have it, and I'm quite content to accept my outcast state.

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,

I all alone beweep my outcast state,

And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,

And look upon myself and curse my fate,

Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,

Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,

Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,

With what I most enjoy contented least;

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,

Haply I think on thee, and then my state,

(Like to the lark at break of day arising

From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven’s gate;

For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings

That then I scorn to change my state with kings. - Sonnet 29

In conclusion, one excellent gift has been the reconnecting with my family, especially my sister and nieces and relatives.  For much of my life I thought of friends - many of whom are no longer in touch with me - as family.  While my real family felt alienated without understanding why.  Our Lady Undoer of Knots took care of that!

Happy Christmas!