Saturday, August 24, 2013

An Intercessor for the Middle East: The Little Arab

Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified.

Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified died on the 26 of August 1878, which happens to be the feast of the Transverberation of the heart of St. Teresa of Avila, which in turn explains why Blessed Mary's feast day is celebrated on the 25 of August.  Bl. Mary is a wondrous saint - many mystical graces marked her life, reminiscent of the marvelous accounts of the saints as told in The Golden Legend.  Bl. Mary's extraordinary charismata took place in modern times and are well documented by eye witnesses.  I reprint one of her famous prayers here: 

“Holy Spirit, inspire me. Love of God consume me.
Along the true road, lead me.
Mary, my good mother, look down upon me.
With Jesus, bless me.
From all evil, all illusion, all danger, preserve me.”
- Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified, OCD

"Warships move toward Syria" - Pray.

Joseph Bottum.

Bottum.  Joseph Bottum ...

A conservative Catholic now backs gay marriage.  Why?  How?  Evolved?  Huh?

Mr. Bottum’s change of heart is noteworthy. He makes several arguments. The first is pragmatic.  
Basic democratic premises like fairness, equal rights and majority rule suggest that the time for same-sex marriage has come, he says. We can agree, Mr. Bottum argues, that Americans are turning in favor of same-sex marriage, and there “is no coherent jurisprudential against it — no principled legal view that can resist it.” Furthermore, the bishops’ campaigns against same-sex marriage “are hurting the church.” Especially for the young, Catholicism is coming to symbolize repression.  
So this fight would only be worth fighting, for Catholics, if their theology required such a fight. Mr. Bottum now believes — here’s where the essay will really outrage fellow churchmen — that Catholics are mistaken to think that natural law requires them to oppose same-sex marriage. - NYTimes

It's the second time in a day that I've come across gay rejection of natural law... looks like a trend.

Anyway - there will be more defections, mark my words.  It's part of the "gay Christian renaissance".  You'll see.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bullied on the bus?

Contemplative prayer.

Someone said Pope Benedict revealed that God told him to resign.

And now many people are discussing the notion that Benedict is an intellectual turned mystic, Benedict is a contemplative - as if he wasn't before. 

I really think ordinary people - and many Catholics - have overly exalted ideas regarding contemplative prayer, contemplative life.  Others may have a far too simplistic idea about it as well.  But, "who am I to judge?"  That said, "we" sometimes go to our resources, pull out quotes concerning a particular stage of prayer, or a particular experience of a saint, and use that in out effort to 'discern' the 'contemplative-ability' of a personal experience or the alleged stage of prayer of ourselves or another person.  Qualified spiritual directors may have that responsibility in guiding souls, but most people miss the point - I think.  But, "who am I to judge?"  I know!

I'm a big fan of ordinary life, simple prayer, common mystic prayer... recollection - and so on.  Simple.

I came across a beautiful teaching on contemplative prayer I want to share with those interested.  It is written by Dr. Lilles and is titled, A Contemplation that Hears Heaven.  I'll share a little here:
Beyond every psychological experience in prayer, however enlightened it might be, there is a contemplation of the Gospel of Christ rooted in a whole new outpouring of truth.  This ceaseless outpouring of love on broken humanity is always new because the Word of the Father, though unchanging, is never old.  His voice echoes with unique and unrepeatable harmony - the harmony that causes all things to be, that saves them from every danger and that orders them all to their great purpose.  Though hidden in weakness and vulnerable to every kind of evil, the Word constantly puts the eternal plan of the Father into motion.

This is a river of primordial, salvific and heavenly truth flowing in darkness: a true unfolding miracle saving, restoring, rebuilding, raising up, providing, protecting, perfecting all manner of new life. The miracle of hope is born in these waters even as this tired old world is doomed under the weight of lifeless systems and frantic ideologies.  Christian contemplation stands in this river and in the flow of its currents, it hears heaven.   

The most radical of all forms of contemplation of any religious tradition, prayer that welcomes the Word claims the total transformation, not only of created intelligence, but of human nature itself.  This is a transformation by glory and for glory into pure and ceaseless praise.  Predestined in Christ, in the world but not of it, this humble prayer is unto the praise of God's glory. Finish reading here.

I thought along these lines yesterday at adoration.  I make all my offerings, reparations, petitions for people I promise to pray for, only to realize that sometimes interior silence is called for, that it is enough - to hear.  Sometimes at adoration, I get the impression of what is described in Ezekiel 47 as The Wonderful Stream,  which for me, is analogous with the 'wonderful stream' flowing from the pierced side of Christ:  Like "a river of primordial, salvific and heavenly truth flowing in darkness".
Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and there! I saw water flowing out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east. The water flowed out toward the right side of the temple to the south of the altar. - Ezekiel 47
Common mystic prayer...
I had rather one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I had rather lie abject at the threshold of the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked. - Ps. 84

 How do we find this secret mountain and how do we enter this hidden garden?  The substance of such hope cannot be clung to as long as the mind lusts for religious experience and seeks its rest in its own spiritual achievement. - Some thoughts on prayer for the Year of Faith

Disclaimer: My thoughts expressed her are just my personal opinion.

Random Killings ...

An 89 year old man was murdered in Spokane the other day - a random assault by two black guys.  The victim, Delbert Belton died of his injuries in the hospital.

Three teenagers shot jogger, Chris Lane in the back this past week in Oklahoma - they were bored.

Three people were shot on Minneapolis' Northside yesterday - one victim was a toddler.  It was black on black violence.

Rage and murder... it's just a kiss away...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Oddly enough... Bradley Manning and Gender Identity Disorder.

Bradley Manning, the Army private sentenced to military prison for leaking classified documents, revealed he intends to live out the remainder of his life as a woman. 
“I am Chelsea Manning. I am female,” the Army private wrote in a statement read on TODAY Thursday. “Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.” - Entire story here.

For me, the 'oddly enough' part is that it's still called Gender Identity Disorder - it is still classified a disorder.  Not for long - maybe.  Although because it is considered a disorder, some insurance policies, and prisons, provide for sexual reassignment surgery.  

Transgenders do not like the 'disorder' language however.  Disorder is a bad word in modern parlance.

Bradley Manning is only 25 - I wonder about his emotional stability. 

The Da Vinci Code - revisited.

Remember that one?

Remember how Catholic authors and bloggers and com boxers were so freaked out about the book and the film?  I just watched it again.  I still love it - it's very entertaining.  Total fiction.

Anyway - while everyone was freaking out about Dan Brown screwing around with the faith - revisionist hagiographers were doing their thing, writing their crap, and new age, gay theologians were teaching their errors - such as 'natural law' is bogus.  Don't forget - all along, so many of us have been distracted by the Bishop's scandal, and the 'new' evidence that there is a gay lobby in the Catholic Church - ostensibly conspiring to promote homosexuality, despite claims they've been suppressing homosexuals - all the while protecting their own - or something like that. 


Protesters called down fire from heaven - while the real conspiracies were thriving. 

Worse things have been taught in Catholic schools at every level. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The terror, the horror in Syria...

From MailOnline: The world has looked on in horror today as graphic images emerged showing the aftermath of a dawn poison gas attack in the suburbs of Damascus that wiped out 1,300 people as they lay sleeping in their beds.

"The Lord said to Abram, 'leave your country, your people, and your father's house...'" - Genesis 12:1

"Hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear,
forget your people and your father's house." - Psalm 45

That is conversion.

That is obedience.

That is faith. 

Watched the Life of Muhammad on PBS...

How could anyone possibly believe he was sent by God?  How can anyone see Islam as a religion of peace?  The Prophet was nearly continuously involved in warfare. 
The Mohammedan temper was not tolerant. It was, on the
contrary, fanatical and bloodthirsty. It felt no respect for, nor even
curiosity about, those from whom it differed. It was absurdly vain of
itself, regarding with contempt the high Christian culture about it. It
still so regards it even today. - Hilaire Belloc

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bernard. Bur-nerd or Bare-nard?

He shall drink from the stream by the wayside,
And therefore he shall lift up his head. - Psalm 110

How you say?

Bare-nard is how I say it - kinda - although I'll call you Bernie if you want.

Today is the feast of St. Bernard of Clairvaux.  I like St. Bernard.  He's not the same one the dogs are named after however - that is a different Bernard.  I like St. Bernard dogs too. 

Yep.  That's all I got.

So anyway...  something serious for the feast of St. Bernard...
The Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

A novice master once recommended that I have a carnal love for Christ - he said he was quoting St. Bernard of Clairvaux  I believe he was referencing Bernard's Treatise On the Love of God or his Commentary on the Song of Songs.  I think Father took the quote out of context, since Bernard discusses carnal love in a much different manner than what the monk was communicating to me.  I think I realized then, as I understand better today, that his idea of a carnal love would fit rather well with some of Chris West's confusing views on Theology of the Body.  One needs to be cautious when it comes to spiritual lust and spiritual directors who interpret mystical doctrines in a far too sensual manner.  In making use of the imagery contained within the Songs, Bernard always stressed the experiences were totally spiritual and produced by grace.  Referring to mystical union, the Saint writes: "Be careful to think of nothing corporal or sensible in this union of the Word with the soul. Let us call to mind here what the Apostle says: `He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him' (I Cor. 6:17).

One can witness the sensualization or sexualization, if you will, of the mystical experiences of St. Bernard in the manner by which they are sometimes depicted in art.  The images themselves are edifying and evocative of deep spirituality, ideally moving the soul to devotion, yet to the more sensual person, infected by contemporary culture's obsession with sexuality, or his own passions, the sacred images can be misinterpreted or misrepresented.  I dare say, often appealing - consciously or unconsciously - to a 'gay spirituality' of sorts.  This may sound prudish, but I think I speak from experience.  Sadly, that is one reason why Bernard is sometimes referred to as a 'gay saint'.  (Aelred and John of the Cross have been likewise misunderstood, and misrepresented.) 

However, devotion to the sacred Humanity of Christ is indispensable for the Christian, as all of the saints attest - perhaps none more than Teresa of Avila, who certainly understood the mysticism of St. Bernard.  The Sacred Humanity was Teresa's 'constant companion'.  Indeed, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the perfect devotion which encompasses a chaste 'carnal love' leading to the highest mystical love.  I mention this because not a few men with homosexual attraction long for an intimacy with Christ that can be corrupted by modern 'homsexualist' spiritual directors, who tend to emphasize sensuality in direct opposition to authentic spirituality. 

To avoid these errors, I believe devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the proper antidote, as well as the source of healing for disordered passions, affections and especially movements to lust.  The Heart of Jesus attracts all the affections of our soul and purifies them in the burning furnace of charity that is His Heart.
Divine Love, A Gift of the Heart of Jesus.
The infusion of this divine charity also has its origin in the Heart of the Savior, 'in which are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.'  For this charity is the gift of Jesus Christ and of His spirit; for he is indeed the spirit of the Father and the Son from whom the origin of the Church and its marvelous extension is revealed to all the pagan races which have been defiled by idolatry, family hatred, corrupt morals, and violence.
Divine Love, the Source of All Graces.
This divine charity is the most precious gift of the Heart of Christ and of His Spirit:  It is this which imparted to the Apostles and martyrs that fortitude, by the strength of which they fought their battles like heroes till death in order to preach the truth of the Gospel and bear witness to it by the shedding of their blood.  [...]  This finally, moved the virgins to a free and joyful withdrawal from the pleasures of the senses and to the complete dedication of themselves to the love of their heavenly Spouse." - Pius XII: Haurietis Aquas

Art at top: Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione

Bonus trivia:  Did you know poodles were the first dogs to be used as rescue dogs before the invention of the St. Bernard?  The poodle proved to be unsuitable however, since the breed tends to be a bit too fond of luxury and alcohol.  To ward off the cold, poodles drank the brandy in the kegs around their necks, which was intended for the travelers they were supposed to rescue.   They were always drunk as well.


Monday, August 19, 2013

I'm not a good blogger...

When I'm cranky.

I've been frustrated reading other blogs, forgetting that we bloggers often work through our issues or concerns online - writing helps us think.

Of course, I'm also disturbed about world events -some are so very serious and calamitous - such as the atrocities in Egypt and Syria, every other concern pales in comparison.  I'm not a political guy - but some things going on in the world regarding lifestyle strike me as relatively unimportant when it comes to human life issues.  That's just me.  Although I'm convinced some people protest too much.

I came across a blog post yesterday, the author apparently trying to make sense of what the Catechism says about homosexuality.  Comparing changes from the first edition, as well as questioning accuracy concerning translation, and then even questioning what is meant by the word 'grave'.   Grave sin?  Mortal sin?  Evil?  Depraved?  Intrinsically disordered?  What?

How obtuse.

Art: Jared French, Study for Evasion.


Fukishima can't be fixed?

Chances appear to be slim...

"No one can say or know how this will play out, except that millions of people will probably die even if things stay exactly as they are, and billions could die if things get any worse."
Even the tiniest mistake during an operation to extract over 1,300 fuel rods at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan could lead to a series of cascading failures with an apocalyptic outcome, fallout researcher Christina Consolo told RT. 
Fukushima operator TEPCO wants to extract 400 tons worth of spent fuel rods stored in a pool at the plant’s damaged Reactor No. 4. The removal would have to be done manually from the top store of the damaged building in the radiation-contaminated environment.
In the worst-case scenario, a mishandled rod may go critical, resulting in an above-ground meltdown releasing radioactive fallout with no way to stop it, said Consolo, who is the founder and host of Nuked Radio. But leaving the things as they are is not an option, because statistical risk of a similarly bad outcome increases every day, she said. - Complete story here.

Some days it just feels as if the end is near, doesn't it?  The article cited speculates that northern Japan may be uninhabitable - while if things get worse, Tokyo would have to be evacuated - abandoned.  Makes me think of an old prophecy; "Many nations will be annihilated." 

I suppose every word would have to be analyzed to determine if such prophecies could mean the same thing in modern times.  It is impossible to determine the meaning of anything spoken or written these days.  Who can makes sense of anything today?  Like the following:

'The mainstream media, world governments, nuclear agencies, health organizations, weather reporters, and the health care industry has completely ignored three ongoing triple meltdowns that have never been contained' 

What does that even mean?

I'm sure all of it can be refuted and dismissed as so much hype.  It can't be tweeted.

Art: Japanese tattoo.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Mass Chat: I got nothing...

Except shame.

Today's reading is one of my favorites, if I can say such a thing, because the entire Letter to the  Hebrews is very important to me - especially when Paul urges that we go to him (Christ), outside the gates of popular opinion and culture, sharing his shame (bearing the insult he bore).  So what does that mean?  "Sharing his shame"?  Especially since in today's reading he says Christ "despised the shame of the cross".  Another translation says, "for the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, heedless of its shame."  That works better.  It fits the Gospel, I think.

Shame is good.

Pope Francis mentions shame rather frequently.  Shame is a bad word in contemporary culture, but Francis is saying it.  On the occasion of the feast of St. Ignatius, he spoke to the Jesuits, praying for the 'grace' of shame: “We ask for the grace of shame, the shame that comes from a continuous conversation of mercy with him, the shame that makes us blush before Jesus Christ,” he said.
Pope Francis prayed [...] that he and his fellow Jesuits would receive “the grace of shame” for their failures and the humility to recognise that whatever good they accomplish is really done by the Lord.
In his homily Pope Francis prayed that Mary would “help us experience shame for our inadequacy before the treasure that has been entrusted to us, so that we would live with humility before God”. - Source

In another instance, the Holy Father said:
... shame is a true Christian virtue, and even human ... the ability to be ashamed: I do not know if there is a similar saying in Italian, but in our country to those who are never ashamed are called “sin vergüenza’: this means ‘the unashamed ', because they are people who do not have the ability to be ashamed and to be ashamed is a virtue of the humble, of the man and the woman who are humble. "
Pope Francis continued: “ we must have trust, because when we sin we have an advocate with the Father, "Jesus Christ the righteous." And He "supports us before the Father" and defends us in front of our weaknesses. But you need to stand in front of the Lord "with our truth of sinners", "with confidence, even with joy, without masquerading... We must never masquerade before God." And shame is a virtue: "blessed shame." "This is the virtue that Jesus asks of us: humility and meekness". - Vatican Radio
We feel shame for actual sin, for failures to love and do good.  We blush over our inappropriateness, our lack of accomplishment.  We can cry out in prayer, "Lord how can I atone for all that I have done?"  And we are ashamed because we cannot make enough amends, enough reparation - even if we went to those we somehow cheated, maligned, lied to, disparaged, and apologized and kissed their feet and tried to make amends - perhaps they would still despise us.  Yet even then, if we prayed and did penance as long and as hard as life, we could never undo the offense against charity and truth.  What have we that we can exchange? 

"Humility and meekness are like the frame of a Christian life. A Christian must always be so, humble and meek. And Jesus waits for us to forgive us. We can ask Him a question: Is going to confession like to a torture session? No! It is going to praise God, because I, a sinner , have been saved by Him. And is He waiting for me to beat me? No, with tenderness to forgive me. And if tomorrow I do the same? Go again, and go and go and go .... He always waits for us. This tenderness of the Lord, this humility, this meekness .... "This confidence, concluded Pope Francis "gives us room to breathe." "The Lord give us this grace, the courage to always go to Him with the truth, because the truth is light and not the darkness of half-truths or lies before God. It give us this grace! So be it. " - ibid
I think this is what saves us from morbid shame, 'that sorrow which leads to death'.  The Blood of Jesus is our atonement.  Like the leprous Naaman, we bathe in it seven times - seven times seventy times as Jesus told Peter.  When we begin to think we are something, that shame - united to the shame of the Cross and of the Blood, reminds us that we are totally dependent upon God's grace and merciful love which exceeds all we ever knew, which can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.

"Whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name." - 1 Peter 4:16

We are what we are however.  We can not glory in our shame - that is pride.  Pride glories in shame.  It calls sin a virtue.  To exult in our sin is to glory in shame.  That isn't virtuous.   Oddly enough, so-called "gay-pride" is a form of reparative therapy promoted as an easy solution to the problem of shame.  A shame which is based in sexual identity or internalizing societal disapproval of homosexuality.
"Unfortunately many go about in a way which shows them to be an enemy of the cross of Christ... Their god is their abs and their glory is in their shame." - Philippians 3:19 

I think that to despise the shame, or rather to endure it; to bear the shame that Christ bore, is to understand the authentic meaning of shame.  Such shame is something much more fundamental.  As such, there is a sense, an echo of that 'original shame' after the fall which wounds us - which is our sin and propensity for sin.  Christ despised sin: He endured the shame, the consequence of it.  I'm not sure I'm able to articulate that very well in my reflection here.  I don't think this sense of shame is the same as the shame that kills, but rather the shame that frees us.  Christ descends into that place, He stoops down to us and lifts us - he sanctifies us and atones for us.  "Though I am afflicted and poor, yet the Lord thinks of me.  You are my help and deliverer; O my God, hold not back!" 

The shame that kills is related to what Paul said in his second letter to the Corinthians: "Indeed, the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death." - 2 Cor. 7:10
Consider how Christ endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart.  In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood. - Hebrews 12: 1-4

Song for this post here.

[Ed. note: This post is the result of reading another writer who said a person should feel shame simply because of same sex attraction.  That is incorrect.]