Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Stigma of Disorder

Mental or Moral.

Gay people do not want to have their sexuality identified as objectively disordered.  That's a moral judgment.  Truth be told, a man doesn't want to admit to any disorder - be it moral or mental.  Before getting into this subject, I needed to make that connection, because in my case it has always been very much related, and maybe my commentary will make that clear. 

Today, I came across an article on Facebook from Men's Health magazine titled, Not Talking About Mental Health is Literally Killing Men.  The magazine will be devoting future articles on the subject.

Men who are vocal about any kind of mental issues can be dismissed as weak. As inferior. As flawed, broken guys who are more likely to be ostracized for their honesty, instead of rewarded for their bravery. Instead of affording a fellow man compassion, we mock, belittle, and turn a blind eye. We freely spit the phrase, “Man up,” as though your gender alone should suffice to guide you through your darkest times.
What’s real is the fact that 9 percent of men experience depression on a daily basis. That’s more than 6 million men. Even if we understand what depression feels like, we rarely admit that’s the culprit. We lie and say we’re tired or just cranky. More than 3 million men struggle with anxiety daily. Of the 3.5 million people diagnosed as schizophrenic by the age of 30, more than 90 percent are men. An estimated 10 million men in the U.S. will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime. (Our own Style and Grooming Editor Louis Baragona eloquently and touchingly shared his battle with bulimia.) We retreat from friends and instead drown sorrows in numbing substances. One out of every five men will develop an alcohol dependency during his life. - Men's Health

Sometimes articles like these are enough for guys.  Sometimes not.

This issue has been my own most closely guarded secret.  In the 1980's I went through therapy - no one knew about it.  I didn't seek insurance coverage, but paid for it myself.  I didn't want employers or friends to know I struggled with depression and panic attacks.  The therapist was amazed when I told him what it was like and he immediately offered me medication - which I declined because I felt I was able to handle panic episodes.  (I blamed it on existential anxiety.)  When asked what I did during panic attacks, I said I just faced them.  If I was sure I was dying, I'd pray an act of contrition and go through it.

I also desired to get over sexual issues - so I considered 'conversion therapy' - which wasn't for me.  The therapist I had told me my main problem was being Catholic.  So, as I mentioned before, I found an excellent spiritual director, who helped me.  I recognized at the time that sexually acting out was my way to assuage the panic and pain of depression.

It's okay not to have it together or try to fix it.

All of my life I have coped with my problems and family problems which affected me, and more or less alienated me.  In fact, keeping a distance seemed to keep me sane.  Looking back, I'm not sure my 'silence' and 'solitude' was especially helpful.  I lied a lot.  Cancelled social events, family get togethers, and so on.  I called in sick a lot.  Avoided close relationships.  I claimed it was my 'contemplative life', a hermit life I needed to safeguard, and as an artist I needed my 'time'.  On some level, that was my life - it is what it is - a strange, eccentric eremetical life.  (Not at all holy, mind you.)  Even in the monastery, I hid my obsession with weight and suffered a great deal of pain from not eating any more than what would stay on the serving spoon, as we served ourselves at dinner.  I realized later I was anorexic.

I'm not always sure about 'medications' made available to those who have depression.  I have taken them for years, unknown to even close friends, which I suppose helped me to cope.  Lately SSRIs have come under suspicion as being responsible for suicides and violence - a possible culprit in school shootings, and so on.  I haven't read a great deal about that, but from my own experience I have encountered some difficulties which may have been related to SSRI use.  It involved my employment experience.  When I resigned a position, I simply left.  I just up and left.

Kind of nuts.

I usually had no explanation per se, and blamed the employer.  Later I went through waves of guilt and recrimination for being so irresponsible.  It was completely precipitous.  I look back upon the experiences as possibly related to SSRI use, although I never spoke to a doctor about it.

Anyway.  I thought I should share my up-until-now personal and private experience, just in case anyone reading this may have similar issues.  The biggest problem I have had with SSRI use is that there is no real monitoring of the usage.  It is prescribed by my doctor and then one is on their own.  Unfortunately, long term use makes it extremely difficult to stop taking it - therefore one is usually on it for life.  I'm not sure the professionals know what to do about that, or what the long term effects may be.

That's all.

(I might remove this post tomorrow.)

Friday, May 17, 2019

Memorial of St. Paschal Baylon

Lay-brother saint.*

A special patron.

May 17 is the memorial of St. Paschal Baylon. A Spanish Franciscan lay-brother devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. A short biography here.

The lovely thing about St. Paschal is the grace of infused recollection which often absorbed him as he went about his duties. Deeply united to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, he was on occasion favored with the grace of seeing the Holy Eucharist when unable to be present in church.  It is this devotion which so attracted me to him when I was little.

On infused recollection:
I still want to describe this prayer of quiet to you in the way that I have heard it explained and as the Lord has been pleased to teach it to me. . . . This is a supernatural state and however hard we try, we cannot acquire it by ourselves. . . . The faculties are stilled and have no wish to move, for any movement they make seems to hinder the soul from loving God. They are not completely lost, however, since two of them are free and they can realize in whose presence they are. It is the will that is captive now. . . . The intellect tries to occupy itself with only one thing, and the memory has no desire to busy itself with more. They both see that this is the one thing necessary; anything else will cause them to be disturbed (Teresa of Jesus, chap. 31).
The predominant characteristics of the prayer of quiet are peace and joy, for the will is totally captivated by divine love. The faculties of intellect and memory are still free and may wander, but the soul should pay no attention to the operations of these faculties. To do so would cause distraction and anxiety. Later on, in the prayer of union, it will be impossible for the intellect and memory to operate independently, because all the faculties will be centered on God.  Jordan Aumann OP

Religious Brothers Conference 2018

*After Vatican II, the status of lay brother in most monasteries and religious orders changed, there remained little distinction between choir religious and lay religious, most became brothers of more or less equal status, save for those in Holy Orders. Brothers enjoyed a new prestige and ministry, especially in the mendicant orders. Many pursued higher education if they did not already have it. They were more likely to teach or have some form of apostolate.  I had a Discalced Carmelite friend who told me they were no longer treated like servants and second class citizens after VII.  That was disappointing to hear because I didn't realize there had been that type of attitude.

Unfortunately, the vocation of the simple lay brother, who was responsible for the more menial tasks of the monasteries, more or less fell by the wayside. As I indicated, I've known brothers who insist that the idea of the lay brother as a servant in the community is insulting to their status as a religious. As a result, some monasteries hire people to do the menial work, including the cooking and cleaning. This may also be due to a lack of vocations. Although one wonders if the lack of vocations might also be the result of discouraging this humble vocation, as well as placing so much emphasis on advanced education, degrees, professional services, and so on.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Literary Prophets

For one may know by natural means ... the direction society is moving.

A friend posted the meme shown above of George Orwell. A few comments mentioned Ayn Rand and Aldous Huxley and their contributions to the genre of dystopian literature which appears to have been uncannily accurate in predicting the future of modern civilization. It seemed to confirm for me what John of the Cross taught about private revelations and prophecy, that human intelligence and experience, can ascertain a great deal when it comes to predicting future events. St. John warns us that the devil, who is far more intelligent can also predict the future, based on the same criteria, which is why the saint warns against putting too much stock in private revelations and locutions.

That said, the early 20th century writers did a good job indeed.

Back on topic, we can know on our own that even chastisements and corrections are coming, as John of the Cross makes clear:
"And likewise supernatural events and happenings may be known, in
their causes, in matters concerning Divine Providence, which deals most
justly and surely as is required by their good or evil causes as
regards the sons of men. For one may know by natural means that such or
such a person, or such or such a city, or some other place, is in such
or such necessity, or has reached such or such a point, so that God,
according to His providence and justice, must deal with such a person
or thing in the way required by its cause, and in the way that is
fitting for it, whether by means of punishment or of reward, as the
cause merits. And then one can say: At such a time God will give you
this, or will do this, or that will come to pass, of a surety.'"
- Ascent of Mt. Carmel

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Imagine that. Catholics who are in favor of Jeff Anderson suing the Vatican - again ...

The Babylonian, WTH?

I was responding to the news on Facebook that Jeff Anderson is once again going after the Holy See and I received some surprising comments from Catholics who support Anderson and associates in their lawsuit against the Vatican - I.e. the Pope.  I wrote:
Anderson tries again. What is this, his 3rd attempt? It's an ambitious attempt to reduce the Church to a mere commercial enterprise, a business, or coporporate-for-profit enterprise. Probably something many non-religious people are more than ready to believe now days. Maybe even some Catholics are getting excited over the prospect. It's very strange to me how religious people seem to get on board with this type of crap, supporting a variety of secular campaigns against the papacy/Vatican to satisfy their desire for some sort of vendetta against the 'power structure' which ignored them for decades. I might be wrong in thinking this is ridiculous, but we live in litigious times and so many follow and support a president who has made his fortune in bankruptcies and lawsuits, so I see this as another side of the same coin of corruption and greed. I suspect the lawsuit will be thrown out like the others, but if it isn't, the Church will be fine - not sure about the litigants.

The following exchange ensued:
Dana Christensen While this won't work for many legal reasons. I believe Jeff Anderson has done the Church a great service by exposing the rot of her leaders. Like the Lord often does in scripture, He uses the enemies of the Church to do the hard work of purifying the Church.
Terry Nelson I'm sure we'll see the Church - even the Pope, loving the so-called enemy. I would love to see the Holy Father distributing the goods of the Church as St. Laurence is so often depicted. It would be wonderful to see St. Peter's become a museum while the bishops and priests really embrace the poverty of the poor - much like the Missionaries of Charity and the Little Sisters of Jesus. I am not at all against that.

Dana Christensen Terry Nelson since St. Lawrence is a patron of mine and one of my favorite saints, I must defend him. He did not give away the treasures if he Church, he protected and hid them (including the Holy Grail). Also, the idea hat the Church is “rich” is a myth. Those who want us to give away what is ours sound much like Judas in the gospel when he said that the precious nard that was poured on Jesus feet could have been sold and given to the poor.
Terry Nelson Dana Christensen I'm not selling out to the likes of Anderson. I don't see him as doing any favors for the Body of Christ. I wouldn't dream of profitting from his pilferring of the Church. That said, Laurence did not hide the treasures of the Church but rather showed them off to the Emperor, presenting to him the lame, the blind, the poor - the true treasure of the Church. If indeed you welcome the onslaught against the Church as perpetrated by these lawsuits, you would recognize that.
Terry Nelson Dana Christensen BTW - I'm not claiming 'what is ours' (really - thought it belonged to God) should be given away - you are the one who seems to welcome the lawsuit, which as you know would be quite costly - causing the 'Church' to be come much smaller as Benedict is said to have predicted. So where's the problem?

I hate these conversations-arguments.  Why can't I just shut up?

But wow!  So does this mean Catholic Evagelicals see Trump as King Cyrus?

Monday, May 13, 2019

DogwoodDetails is now open.

I reopened the shop today and will be updating selections this week for those who are interested.

Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima ... as the persecutions spread and intensify.

Tell everybody that God grants us graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary; 
that people are to ask her for them; 
and that the Heart of Jesus wants the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be venerated at his side. 
Tell them also to pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for peace, 
since God entrusted it to her. - Bl. Jacinta to Lucia

Living the consequences.

Yesterday gunmen attacked and killed six people, including the priest during Mass in Burkina Fasso.  Last month a Protestant church suffered a similar attack, with the minister killed. The attacks against Christian churches and the killing of Christian worshipers seems to be happening around the world, week after week.  In our country and elsewhere in the West, persecution is more or less limited to social and cultural pressures to accept moral relativism and laws requiring acquiescence to laws and conventions which violate the Christian conscience.  It is a sort of psychological warfare, which many people assume is only in the imaginations of those who feel their own rights are denied.

Today is the 102nd anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima, she asked that we pray the rosary every day. She also warned that if her requests for men to repent went unheeded, persecution of the Church would come, explaining the good will be martyred and the Holy Father will have much to suffer. It is not unreasonable to believe we are in the throes of these events.
What Sr. Lucia stated very clearly:
The third part of the secret is a symbolic revelation, referring to this part of the Message, conditioned by whether we accept or not what the Message itself asks of us: ‘If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, etc.'.
Since we did not heed this appeal of the Message, we see that it has been fulfilled, Russia has invaded the world with her errors. And if we have not yet seen the complete fulfillment of the final part of this prophecy, we are going towards it little by little with great strides. If we do not reject the path of sin, hatred, revenge, injustice, violations of the rights of the human person, immorality and violence, etc.
And let us not say that it is God who is punishing us in this way; on the contrary it is people themselves who are preparing their own punishment. In his kindness God warns us and calls us to the right path, while respecting the freedom he has given us; hence people are responsible”. - Message of Fatima

As for the request made by Our Lady for the consecration of Russia, Sr. Lucia stated that is was finally fulfilled by Pope John Paul II in union with the bishops of the world in 1984. (Albeit late, as Our Lord foretold to Sr. Lucia.)

I come to answer your question, "If the consecration made by Pope John Paul II on March 25, 1984 in union with all the bishops of the world, accomplished the conditions for the consecration of Russia according to the request of Our Lady in Tuy on June 13 of 1929?" Yes, it was accomplished, and since then I have said that it was made. - Sr. Lucia

It is important to remember that Our Lady called the faithful to repentance and penance, and at every appearance, she asked that we pray the rosary every day.  That is the part of the secret which is most important for the faithful to know and do, 

"Look! Don’t you see many roads, 
paths and fields full of people crying of hunger, 
not having anything to eat? 
And the Holy Father in a Church 
praying next to the Heart of Mary?" - St. Jacinta Marto

I keep thinking of this aspect of the Secret 
and wonder why and how so many are missing it?  
If Jacinta's voice could be heard today, 
perhaps she would exclaim to all of us: 
"Look! Don't you see? It is happening now!"

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Tomorrow is Mother's Day ...

One more attempt: Matt Talbot

Matt Talbot
T. Nelson
acrylic on 5x7 panel.

Brighter-light shot:

Matt Talbot
T. Nelson
acrylic on 5"x7" panel.

The top image is a bit colder but closer to the original as it looks in natural light.  The 2nd image is shot using artificial lighting.  I am not a photographer, to be sure.  I wanted make an attempt to do a painting more closely resembling the only known photograph of Venerable Matt Talbot.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Pope Francis knows ...

About the homosexuals in the Vatican.

I love this Pope.

ROME - A prominent advocate in the fight against clerical abuse has said that during a recent private audience at the Vatican, Pope Francis told him he’d read Inside the Closet at the Vatican, a book about homosexuality in the Catholic Church, and said that he was already aware of many of the priests mentioned in it who are gay.
“He said he read it. He said it was good and that he knew of many of them. We discussed good gays and the gays who are evil, but because of power,” the advocate said in a text message obtained by Crux. - Source
There are some who would like to throw out every priest who may be attracted to men, or have homosexual inclination, yet live a chaste and celibate life, the Holy Father clearly distinguishes between 'good gays and evil gays', to quote the words of the article.  He doesn't over-react or surrender to inside-outside pressures and 'homobobic' calls to purge the priesthood of all gays, and so on.  I keep seeing signs of his patience and discernment, calling the Church, priests and laity alike to repentance and conversion, and to seek God from whatever reality wherein they find themselves.

It's so simple.

“Giving more importance to the adjective rather than the noun, this is not good. We are all human beings and have dignity. It does not matter who you are or how you live your life, you do not lose your dignity. There are people that prefer to select or discard people because of the adjective - these people don’t have a human heart,” Francis told Stephen K. Amos 

Ed. note:  The Holy Father is on record stating that it is better not to admit homosexuals to seminary/religious life and Holy Orders, in accord with norms already set.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Jean Vanier

Jean Vanier: Sept. 10, 1928 - May 7, 2019

The saint is dead.

Jean Vanier died during the night at the age of 90.  He has been an inspiration for me, a correction of conscience, and a living witness to the Gospel.  He is, in my opinion, the living embodiment of the Little Way of Confidence and Love as taught by St. Therese of Lisieux.  Jean Vanier, along with St. Mother Teresa, as well as Madeleine Debrel are models and helps to me as I try to follow Christ in ordinary life.  I love what Fr. Martin had to say:
James Martin, S.J., the editor at large at America, said: “Jean Vanier showed us, like few people ever have, the overwhelming power of gentleness. Not only in his ministry with the disabled but in his voice, his demeanor, his very presence. During his life there was no one I thought more deserving of the title ‘living saint.’” - America
"There is strength in weakness, light in darkness and beauty in what the world declares broken."

"Our mission - said Jean Vanier in an interview with Vatican Radio (see video below) - is to encounter a world of extreme weakness, poverty and suffering, people who have often been rejected... L’Arche is a place of reconciliation where people of very different religions and cultures can meet and this transforms the lives of people with disabilities, but also transforms the volunteers. L’Arche, after all, is a place of celebration where the aim is for everyone to be happy (...) We want to be a sign of the importance of people with disabilities, because they have a message to give, but few know it: they, in fact, were chosen to be the great witnesses of God.” - VR
Dear Jean Vanier, obtain for me a portion of the love which animated your life, a portion of your spirit of charity to care for others and not judge or ever again look down on anyone.  I thank God for the grace of your being, the witness of your faith, the love with which you embraced the most abject and abandoned.  You shared your life, your home with strangers, who in turn became your family - your one hundred fold in this life and your eternal reward now in heaven.  You exemplified for the world genuine, disinterested friendship and equality with the disabled, the outcast and marginalized, obtain for me the grace to follow your example.

Each person with his or her history of being accepted or rejected, with his or her past history of inner pain and difficulties in relationships, is different. But in each one there is a yearning for communion and belonging, but at the same time a fear of it. Love is what we most want, yet it is what we fear the most. - Jean Vanier
'You don't need to pretend.
You do not need to hide your weakness.
You can be yourself.
I didn't call you to l'Arche or to another form of community
first of all to help others
or to prove that you were generous or efficient.
I called you because you are poor,
just like the ones you came to serve,
and because the Kingdom of God is promised to the poor.' - Jean Vanier

 I should mention there is already a cause for sainthood for Jean's parents Georges and Pauline Vanier.  Biographer Mary Frances Coady notes:
An incredible thirst for God can be seen in the lives of this couple, who were always striving in spite of (and through) human imperfection. The excerpts from letters and journals in this volume show a rare example of the contemplative life and struggles in prayer of an active and prominent married couple. The Vanier story is unique in that it forms a direct link back to the spiritual teaching that includes St. Thérèse and the Carmelite tradition in its emphasis on simplicity, trust in God's love, and self-abandonment to the mercy of God. - Source

Monday, May 06, 2019

Was the backlash to Paul VI this bad?

I see it as a continuation.

Yesterday after Mass I talked to a very holy priest, a man I've known since his seminary days, and I asked him what he thought of the latest Letter and accusations against the Holy Father.  He strongly disapproves of it.  He is sometimes baffled by how the Holy Father handles things, but he acknowledges he is not in the loop, the curia, if you will to know more details and above all, he respects the office of the papacy as well as the experts who counsel the Holy Father.  He didn't use those exact words, but that was the gist of it.  He is a very humble priest.  I wish I could tell you more about him.

Providentially I heard from another friend, whom I got to know at the same time I became friends with my priest friend.  He was in seminary as well, and finished his studies at St. Thomas.  He has a strong religious past, a father of a large family, husband to a wonderful woman of deep spirituality and wisdom.  I wish I could tell you more about them.  I just want to give a little background on my friend, because I asked him what he thought of the letter and he responded as follows.  I asked:  "So what do you think of the latest letter by Catholics united for the faith calling Francis a heretic?"

Friend:  "Nonsense. I'm for the dear sweet Christ on earth...always. Period. The letter was poorly executed and in bad taste. Christ is silent before his accusers. Ask yourself, what would the likes of Dorothy Day or even the Baroness make of this Pope? I think most of the obstinate resistance to this man quite frankly is politically motivated. I know. I work with many of them-- immigrants are taking over the country...Donald Trump will make America great again...don't take away my guns...etc. Even a child can read and comprehend Matthew 25: 32-46 and Luke 16: 19-31. The heart of the Gospel is mercy. And Francis exemplifies this for me. People who don't like him do so because what he says makes them squirm, makes them uncomfortable. I find no Christian charity or humility in that letter. How does that letter measure up to 1Cor. 13:4-8? Not very well, I'm afraid. I'm all for theological dialog, etc. But the measure must always be love and respect and humility. Otherwise, I'd say it's from the devil, not the Holy Spirit."

I'm glad I ask other people.  These guys are a mere ten or twelve years younger than me, smarter than me, and more faithful than me.  Our friendship was arranged by a Carmelite prioress I got to know after my conversion, she wisely understood I needed good spiritual friends upon my return to the Church.  They have never failed me or rejected me, and I'm grateful for their friendship today.

The Holy Father will have much to suffer. - Our Lady of Fatima

That said, in our exchange, St. Paul VI came up.  One friend said he wondered if it was this bad with Paul VI.  Earlier I mentioned to Fr. that we should be used to this because it is similar to what went on with Paul VI.  Fr. didn't remember, except to note the dissent in response to Humanae Vitae. 

It wasn't just progressives who reacted against Paul VI.  The reaction by conservative-traditional Catholics happened simultaneously.  They reject the 'Novus Ordo', resisted Vatican II and so on.  To be sure the changes that went into effect were corrupted by progressives; priests, religious, academic, liturgists and laity.  It is why groups such as CUF (Catholics United for the Faith) formed and publications such as The Wanderer often condemn any and every innovation in the Church.  When they were right, they were often uncharitable and mean-spirited in their response to liturgical abuses and 'liberal' prelates.  Truth be told, it was not at all different from the right wing rhetoric we encounter today.  The resistance to VII was immediate, but not widespread.

Private revelation and uber-conservative religious groups made it worse.  Then, as now, the far right promoted distortions of the Fatima message and the 'Secret' of Fatima.  Subsequent false apparitions attracted a huge following of old and young alike who were confused by a changing morality brought about by the sexual revolution.  Sites like Bayside, Neceedah, and San Damiano were curiously united in promoting several conspiracy theories indicating that Freemasons had infiltrated the Vatican, and  were responsible for the changes brought about by VII, as well as having created the Novus Ordo.  These same conspiracy theories are circulated today, and most recently by Canadian based Fatimists who claim the Third Secret hasn't been revealed and so on.   In the 1970's through the 1980's these same groups promoted the absurd theory that the real Pope Paul was replaced by a double, and that Sr. Lucia had been as well.  Their followers believed it.

Fake news about the Pope came from secular news sites as well.  One should never discount the fake news propagated by the Soviet Union, now Russia.  If the Russians influenced our elections, it would be extremely naive to imagine they are not influencing division in the Catholic Church.  The papacy of Pope Paul was marred by vicious rumors that he was a homosexual, something he emphatically denied.  One might say he was likewise taunted by the kidnapping and murder of his friend Aldo Moro by the Red Brigades.  Pope Paul VI suffered greatly - physically, spiritually and morally.

My point here is to convey that this current dissent and condemnation of Pope Francis (not to mention VII and the Ordinary Form of Mass) has its roots in these earlier examples of far right conservative propaganda against the Magisterium.   Today it has become more open and widespread - to some extent - since it is repeated and promulgated on and by conservative, right-wing Catholic websites.

"For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." - Matthew 24

"In terms of what we today can discover in this message (of Fatima), attacks against the pope or the church don't come just from outside the church. The suffering of the church also comes from within the church, because sin exists in the church. This too has always been known, but today we see it in a really terrifying way. The greatest persecution of the church doesn't come from enemies on the outside, but is born in sin within the church. The church thus has a deep need to re-learn penance, to accept purification, to learn on one hand forgiveness but also the necessity of justice. Forgiveness does not exclude justice. We have to re-learn the essentials: conversion, prayer, penance, and the theological virtues. That's how we respond, and we can be realistic in expecting that evil will always launch attacks from within and from outside, but the forces of good are also always present, and finally the Lord is stronger than evil. The Madonna for us is the visible maternal guarantee that the will of God is always the last word in history. - Benedict XVI at Fatima