Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September 24 ... "Keep your mind in hell, and despair not ..."

An Orthodox saint...

It seems to me what he says is not so different from saints like Padre Pio.  Pio lived bearing the wounds, the sufferings, the rejection and persecution of Christ.  That is kind of like 'keeping your mind in hell' when you think about it.  The sufferings Christ endured was the chastisement that makes us whole - that which unites us to God.

St Silouan, elder of Mt Athos (1938) (September 11 OC)

He was a Russian peasant who traveled to Mt Athos and became a monk in the Russian Monastery of St Panteleimon. He lived so simply, humbly and quietly that he might be forgotten had not Fr Sophrony (Sakharov) become his spiritual child and, after the Saint's repose, written a book describing his life and teaching: St Silouan of Mt Athos, one of the great spiritual books of our time. It was through Fr Sophrony's efforts that St Silouan was glorified as a Saint.

  Following a vision of Christ Himself, St Silouan withdrew to a hermitage to devote himself entirely to prayer; but he was called back to serve as steward to the monastery. Though he now supervised some two hundred men, he only increased his prayers, withdrawing to his cell to pray with tears for each individual worker under his care. For more than fifteen years he struggled with demonic attacks during prayer until he was almost in despair. At this point Christ spoke to him in a vision, saying 'The proud always suffer from demons.' Silouan answered 'Lord, teach me what I must do that my soul may become humble.' To this he received the reply, Keep thy mind in hell, and despair not. Silouan made this his discipline in every moment of his life, and was granted the grace of pure prayer. He said that if he ever let his mind wander from the fire of hell, disruptive thoughts would once again plague him. In his humiliation he was filled with a pervasive love for all — he said many times that the final criterion of true Christian faith is unfeigned love for enemies, and that 'to pray for others is to shed blood.' - Orthodox Saints

Some day I hope to write about how some people protest too much on their blogs and publications - specifically in reference to being gay and Catholic.  If they believe that earlier Catholic writers on the subject of gay and Catholic were over-psychologized, the new gay Catholic writers tend to be over-theologized/mythologized on the issue.  Although I suppose that's what sells books and garners speaker engagements.

Keep your mind in hell and you won't have problems with chastity.

Keep your mind in gay and you will still want ... Ah!  What did a guy on his way to perfection say to me once?  I'm gay and I try to be chaste, "but I still want @*ck."



  1. Terry - your post reminded me of this movie I found on YouTube about the life of St Sharbel (Charbel). It has subtitles, but it's a great movie. What struck me, in particular, was how he reacted to brothers who became for a brief period, revolutionaries when they came under heavy persecution.

    There are various forms of persecution in life, but it seems to me, his advice to those who wanted to fight by taking up arms can also be applied to our desire to fire bullets from our mouths when agitated by others.

    1. Clarifying my comment, there is a "revolutionary spirit" that had become apparent in the Catholic cyber-sphere. I think Sharbel's words are fitting.

    2. Thanks Diane - I think you are right. Thanks for the St. Sharbel link as well.

  2. Terry, I burst out laughing at the last line and I'm at a library. It's taken me 50 years to realize that the less I think about @*ck the less I think about @*ck. Thanks

  3. I don't really get this post.I don't understand how people can be gay. I don't know how they can be attracted to someone of the same sex but know from my own family that they are. I don't have the psychological capacity to deal with the subject. #whereimat

    1. I actually understand that - I'm kind of in the same predicament, believe it or not. I can understand how people can act out sexually, but I don't understand the 'identity' claim. I can understand having a 'lover' but I don't understand claiming to be married. I also can't understand lovers as a lifelong relationship. I can understand being friends - but sexual stuff wanes. On the other hand - the marital bond between a man and a woman deepens through the the self-donation of the man and wife. That is totally impossible for same sex lovers-couples-what have you.

      So don't feel bad Jackie - it doesn't compute for me either.

  4. Jackie - perhaps the only thing that needs to be understood is that we all suffer the effects of Original Sin, and in various ways.

    I once knew a guy who came back to the Church after a long period away, and who told me he had a problem with theft - a particular kind of theft. He was aware it was wrong, but said it was his pet sin in confession and he was addicted to the thrill of it. I had difficulty grasping how it could be hard to give up stealing when there was no need for the things he took.

    I had another woman admit to me that she liked to gossip, knew it was wrong, but couldn't give it up, note did she want to try. This came after she told me she saw no need for confession because she was a good Catholic.

    Many inclinations are hard to comprehend, except the disordered or sinful inclinations in ourselves.

  5. I think I have to add another thought. A friend wrote that he doesn't get it and doesn't agree - which is fine, he went on to say: "I don’t agree. Even if you meditate on what your lust will get you, it doesn’t solve the problem."

    That is so true. It's like trying to scare people straight with the threat of AIDS. We have to stop trying to fix people. We can't fix people.

    So I responded to my friend this way:

    What I meant is: suffer through and you will get through. If you fall, don't give up. Get up and keep trying. Padre Pio suffered for 50 years - and the wounds disappeared.* Some people suffer, falling and rising for 50 years and finally find freedom of spirit. Keeping your mind in hell is humility. It is acquired through suffering through the humiliation of always finding ourselves sinners in need of God's mercy, God's redemption. Does that make more sense? It has nothing to do with threats of hell or eternal punishment.

    That's pretty much what I meant with the post - it's my interpretation and I may be wrong. That's all.

    *Let me add that Pio's sufferings were reparative, not the result or purification of his own sins so much, but united to Christ his suffering were elevated, with Christ he shared as a victim of divine justice - suffering for our sins. His sufferings were efficacious for the atonement of sin and the conversion of sinners. The suffering connected to resisting sin - which may include falling and rising - when humbly accepted, is the means of our purification and sanctification.

    I hope that is understandable and sounds less forbidding.

  6. Terry said: "Let me add that Pio's sufferings were reparative, not the result or purification of his own sins so much, but united to Christ his suffering were elevated, with Christ he shared as a victim of divine justice - suffering for our sins

    Colossians 1:24

  7. Jackie, I don't understand either. I wonder if it's just their way of dealing with some past trauma? I heard Fr. Frank Pavone speak once and he addressed why some women have multiple abortions (but the theory could apply to women that go back to abusers, etc.) He said they go back to the situation in an attempt to master it. I've always wondered how many homosexuals were abused as children. I also wonder if lesbians are attacted to women because they are 'safer' than men. I don't claim any knowledge about this topic - these are just some things I've pondered.

    1. I was also serious when I said I didn't understand.

      I wonder if you are right about the lesbians feeling safer with a woman?

      I think trauma for guys is probable in many cases. It varies so much and gay people are quick to insist there is no one cause or determining factor. Many guys I've known had been abused as a child, many felt rejected by peers, male siblings, and so on. Others felt safer with men - they feared women.

      I hesitate to add more lest some reader lambaste me for trying to classify the species. After tomorrow's post I will have to get off the gay stuff.

  8. What's with the picture of the duck guy?


  9. Thanks Terry Diane & Angela :)


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