Saturday, August 29, 2015

Swallowed by ...

St. Michael the Archangel, 
defend us in battle. 
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. 
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, 
and do thou, 
O Prince of the heavenly hosts, 
by the power of God, 
thrust into hell Satan, 
and all the evil spirits, 
who prowl about the world 
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

I hate talking about devil stuff.

But I will try to say something real quick here.

Joseph Sciambra has a book "Swallowed By ..." you know who.  He writes candidly about his experiences in what I'd call the gay underworld.  The general reaction to his book and some of his blog posts are often negative - too much for gay people, who claim it is an exaggeration or an anti-gay conspiracy, and condemned by Right Wing Watch and the Southern Poverty watchdogs, as two comments on a recent Melinda Selmys post indicate:
I think there in lies the problem, Melinda is giving his story credibility. I feel sorry for him. He doesn't need pastoral care. He needs mental health care. His story has nothing to do with being gay and everything with a man who truly needs help a church cannot provide and shouldn't be. - manlambda
Oh my such bullshit in one post. Satan worship and participated in a snuff film? Really???? Come on. This is why we can't people like you seriously. This guy made up this crap to vilify gay people. Sad you would try to sell this. - manlambda

Mrs. Woodhouse wouldn't be as skeptical ...

I understand the sentiment.  I too thought Joe was a little nuts too.  Commenters to this blog have thought likewise.  It's a natural reaction to some pretty extreme claims.  The thing that helped convince me that Joe has a true story to tell and that it is serious enough for people to listen to and take notice is his humility.  He recently said that when he gives a talk about his experience, his conversion, he steps back and allows the priest to provide the correct teaching on the subject at hand.  In other words - he's not promoting himself as some sort of celebrity, nor is he trying to teach or preach.  I also admire how he ties in Catholic teaching, especially pertinent CDF documents into his blog posts on the subject - he's not only a faithful guy, he understands the teaching.

I've had other online friends tell me they too have read Sciambra's posts closely and agree his message, though dark, is important to take in.  As one friend told me in an email yesterday: "I have actually gone and read much of Joseph Sciambra's stuff. I think what he says is pretty spot-on, and I wish more Catholics would take it seriously."  Yeah, me too.

I think what turns people off is the devil stuff - that is, demons involved in the sex industry.  Why is that so hard to accept?  Because we don't really believe that the devil and hell exists.  Also because there are perfectly fine Beaver Cleaver style gay people and families who all they want to do is settle down and raise a family and retire like their parents did.  Seriously, there are more reasons for gay people to be in denial - reasons as varied as every gay person who has never cruised the underworld.

That said - though I haven't read everything of Sciambra's testimony, I know some of the details of the stories - which may sound a bit medieval, but nevertheless, as Judy Tenuta used to say, "It could happen."

And here is why.

Just my imagination.

When Joan of Arc was on trial one of her accusers (they thought she was a witch BTW) contended that her visions were 'just her imagination' and the Saint replied, 'but of course.'  That is because our imagination plays a role in visions and locutions - God accesses our faculties - intellectual visions are just that.  Without going into an area I'm not qualified to discuss in any depth, I'll get to the point of this post, relying on Garrigou-Lagrange teaching.

The persecutions of the devil comprise all that one may have to suffer from him: temptations, obsession, possession. On this subject we must recall, first of all, the theological principle which throws light on these problems: the action of the devil does not go beyond the sensible part of the soul and cannot be exercised im­mediately on the intellect or the will.
With the permission of God, however, the devil can attack us by acting on our imagination, our sensibility, on external objects, and on our body to incline us to evil. (3) He often limits himself to temptation by way of suggestion and more or less impetuous movements; but occasionally his action goes as far as obsession and in certain cases even to possession.
In these matters two excesses must be avoided: attribution to the devil of what proceeds from the triple concupiscence or from certain morbid states, or, on the contrary, unwillingness to admit his intervention in any case, in spite of what Scripture and tradition tell us about it.
Obsession is a series of temptations that are more violent and pro­longed than ordinary temptations. Rarely does the devil act only on the exterior senses; more frequently, through the imagination; he provokes lively impressions of the sensible appetites in order to trouble the soul. He may act on the sight by loathsome apparitions or, on the contrary, seductive apparitions; (4) on the hearing, by making a racket (5) or by making the person hear blasphemous or obscene words; (6) on the touch, by inflicting blows or by embraces of a nature to lead to evil.(7) There are cases in which these apparitions are not corporeal, but imaginary or produced, like hallucination, by nervous overexcitement.
The direct action of the devil on the imagination, memory, and passions, may produce obsessing images, which persist in spite of energetic efforts and which lead to anger, to very lively antipathies, or to dangerous affections, or again to discouragement accompanied by anguish. Those whom the enemy of good persecutes in this way feel at times that their imagination is as if bound by thick shadows, and that over their heart rests a weight which oppresses them. - Three Ages of the Interior Life, Vol 2, Part 5, Chapter 58
There's so much we don't know.

I wanted to make this citation to emphasize, that if there is a lot about homosexuality that we don't know, there is even more about the mystical life and diabolical phenomena which we laity know even less.  Which is why I say Joe Sciambra cannot be dismissed and his testimony needs to be taken seriously.

In my experience I have run into similar people, places, and experiences which seem to be influenced by the powers of darkness.  I just don't talk about it.  Joe's experiences seem even worse - but incredible as they may be - I believe him.  The strangest stuff he tells may be 'symbolic' - effected by suggestion, imagination, even drugs - but that doesn't negate a diabolic influence, and I'm convinced he's not making it up.

Which is why I insist he cannot be dismissed as a crackpot.

Giving the devil his due.

Nevertheless, one may give the devil his due and inform themselves on matters relating to mystical theology and diabolic influences and exorcism which is so popular to do these days, but I prefer to 'go towards the light' - the light of Christ - which the darkness cannot grasp.  Don't forget, sacramental confession keeps the devil away.

I often recall St. Teresa of Avila's remark about exaggerated concerns over the devil, she said, "I don't understand these fears. 'The devil! The devil!' when we can say 'God! God!', and make the devil tremble...I fear those who have such great fear of the devil more than I do the devil himself, for he can't do anything to me. Whereas these others, especially if they are confessors, cause severe disturbance," Life 25; 22 And yes, I know, St. Teresa was talking about confessors who were worried she was being deceived in prayer, but it can just as well apply to anyone else with a morbid curiosity and suspicious and fearful mind, even some very good people who seem to think so many are possessed.

That's all.  Now take the rest of the day off.


Friday, August 28, 2015

More importantly: Desperate tide of humanity.

The International Office of Migration has recorded 2,432 deaths linked to Mediterranean crossings this year, but countless more have vanished beneath the waves out of sight of rescuers. The official count was set to increase as authorities counted the dead from three shipwrecks off the Libyan coast. On land, the office said it has recorded 112 deaths this year in various countries. - AP

"After sometime, Jacinta stood up and called to me: “Can’t you see all those highways and roads and fields full of people, who are crying with hunger and have nothing to eat? And the Holy Father in a church praying before the Immaculate Heart of Mary? And so many people praying with him?” Some days later, she asked me: “Can I say that I saw the Holy Father and all those people?” “No! Don’t you see that that’s part of the secret? If you do they’ll find out straight away.” “All right! Then I’ll say nothing at all.”" - Memoirs of Sr. Lucia

“I loved my own way, not yours, but it was a truant’s freedom that I loved”. - St. Augustine

Compunction of St. Augustine, Fra Angelico.

I took the header quote from Fr. Z's post on the saint here.

The quote, translated from the Latin “amans vias meas et non tuas, amans fugitivam libertatem” (3.3.5) is how Augustine described his 'profligate youth'.  It really nails the experience of many a youth, I think.  At least mine.  (I never grew up until I was 50, and even then I was pretty retarded.)  That said, St. Augustine, please pray for me!  Interestingly Fr. Z says that in the original Latin, St. Augustine says that after his conversion and as bishop he was "loved and feared" by his people.  I think I may have shied away from Augustine over the years out of fear ... his example and teaching really calls for a resolute conversion, don't you agree?

St. Augustine, pray for me.

I mention this because traditionally Augustine is a great example for penitents - those who leave the profligate lifestyle behind.

I've often written about how conversion can go in 'fits and starts'.  Big sins bring on dramatic flights to the confessional - the fear of God - and hell - or the fear of being lost completely in an ocean of smut, can effect in us a new determination to sin no more.  Throw all of our sexy swimwear and tight clothes into a bonfire, like St. Thais, or something.  I'm not really exaggerating here either.

I've probably told the story of a former monk who had the reputation of always repenting - not like the desert fathers story - but someone I knew.  No, not me - although close.  He left the monastery and burst out onto the bar scene and was rather profligate.  (Love that word.)  Just as much as he threw himself into all sorts of debauchery - he would repent, weekly, monthly, every other day ...  It happens.  It doesn't mean the repentance is insincere - not at all.  It happens.  The situation or 'soul-sickness' at the time reminds me of the story of the man in the Gospel whose son, tormented by demons, kept throwing himself into the fire in fits and starts, more or less.

Anyway ...

Unlike the great penitents, many of us fall after our conversion.  We return to confession and rise again and keep trying.  If our sins involve another - bad friendships, anonymous sex, casual sex, and so on - in and through the process of repentance, confession, conversion - the road behind can be 'littered with road kill' to use a friend's metaphor for my blog.

When we clean up our act, we sometimes forget the 'friends' and partners in sin we left behind.  We fail to understand our role in causing another person to sin.  We may worry about our salvation, but do we have concern for those we may have 'used' for our pleasure?  Know what I mean?  A holy confessor, a monk, once said to me - "Your sins are forgiven, but what about those you caused to sin with you?"

It's something we can miss in our repentance - especially in our fits and starts ... we can also miss the underlying sins - but that's another post.  We drag people into our sin - do we pull them up when we repent?  Perhaps that thought can help one to avoid sin in the future.  Mortal sin destroys charity in the soul, we offend God and neighbor.  This is why we need to make reparation.  It is why we need to pray even harder for the conversion of sinners.  We don't need to call sinners out, or proclaim our new-found innocence over their heads, shaming them for not believing we are now all respectable and acceptable.  (Sometimes that is what we want - to be acceptable and respectable.)  It may be more convincing to make reparation - to pray and do penance for our sins - praying fervently for our conversion and the conversion of sinners.

We forget about that sometimes when we are all shiny clean and feeling saved after confession. At least I did.  I dumped bad companions - which is the right thing to do in most cases - but I never told them why.  I always thought 'they' were my problem - my 'occasion of sin' - but it was pretty much me.
“Where does temptation come from? How does it work in us? The Apostle tells us that it is not from God, but from our passions, our inner weaknesses, from the wounds left in us by original sin: that’s where temptations come from, from these passions. - Pope Francis

The 'adventure' made sin 'fun' - “I loved my own way, not yours, but it was a truant’s freedom that I loved”...

Our Lord can make all things well, so it is good to try and make reparation, and pray for those we used and cast away.

Mark Mallett: The Great Storm has arrived at the shores of humanity.

Not sure what to think, but the Mark Mallett post reminded me of a song ...

I stand alone in the eye of the storm
Crashes all around, tryin' to wear me down
But I hold tight to what I know is right
Still can hear the way mama used to say
Never, no, never let your spirit win
Never, never give in to the end, but carry on
When the valley is deep I'll be strong
With the mind he left to carry on
Never sleep 'till a new day dawns
I carry on

Song for this post here.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Signs! Pope Francis' stats are down...

No-shows for papal audience.

Leave it to the maestro of stats to pick up on it ...

Fr. Z notes that fewer people are attending the Wednesday General Audience:
Benedict’s audiences exceeded those of John Paul II at times. 
The square is emptier and emptier. 
And it’s not because of the general secularization. 
Romans aren’t going either, so it isn’t the economic slump. - Fr. Z

What does it all mean?
“It must be a sign from heaven,” others hastened to add, and their opinion was adopted at once without protest.
“His teaching was false; he taught that life is a great joy and not a vale of tears,” said some of the more unreasonable. “He followed the fashionable belief, he did not recognise material fire in hell,” others, still more unreasonable, added. “He was not strict in fasting, allowed himself sweet things, ate cherry jam with his tea, ladies used to send it to him. Is it for a monk of strict rule to drink tea?” could be heard among some of the envious. “He sat in pride,” the most malignant declared vindictively; “he considered himself a saint and he took it as his due when people knelt before him.” “He abused the sacrament of confession.” - The Breath of Corruption, Brothers Karamazov, Part III, Bk. VII

I blame the riff-raff.
Homeless people drive away business.

This is interesting. Archbishop Chaput labels Church Militant and Lepanto groups as destructive ...

This is clarity.

We need clarity.  We need to listen to the Church.  Here is what Archbishop Chaput had to say in an email to Matt C. Abbott regarding a story two Catholic groups have been running.  First the story:
The Lepanto Institute and have reported "that the World Meeting of Families leadership team (including the president, Robert Ciarrufoli) is infested with pro-abortion, pro-gay 'marriage' money men and politically influential people."
Archbishop Chaput's response:
Both Lepanto and Church Militant sow division wherever they tread. They do not seem to acknowledge the need to work with civic society and its representatives on a project like the World Meeting of Families. And we are not going to spend/waste time arguing with them. They are sincere, but also destructive. No one on our leadership team supports abortion or Planned Parenthood. - Link

Works for me.

CMTV headquarters.
Larry used to visit just to see the Nun Doll Museum.

Song for this post here.

Steven Colbert. The more Catholics praise him ...

The less interested I am in watching.

Everyone seems to be promoting Steven Colbert.  Why?  Because he's Catholic and 'out' about it?  He's the right kind of Catholic?  Because he reads the same books Catholics do?  Of course he hosts everyone's favorite Catholic celebs such as Fr. James Martin, Cardinal Dolan, and he talks openly about Catholic issues, and as I said, he is himself a practicing Catholic - that's cool.  Right?

So what?

Everything is so hyped.

I miss Geoff.

Bonus:  Guess what?  Pope Francis is coming to the United States!  Who knew?

Song for this post here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Prelates on vacation...

L’Age D’Or - Luis Buñuel (1930)

News travels fast.

I first saw it on Deacon's Bench - about the Cardinal in Hawaii.  Don't know the story?  A retired Cardinal on vacation in Hawaii was arrested for DUI.  He apologized.  It's all over Catholic news and a few blogs.  A couple of snarky innuendos caught my eye - but it's better not to laugh about such things, or point fingers.  Catholics like to drink.

I wonder how these stories concern us?  Why they concern us?

Even reputable bloggers rush to print the stories.

Other bloggers speculate on the Cardinal's private life.

It's creepy.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fr. Z is on another trip again ....

"Off I go.  Again."

You may not understand why I bother to post this.

I suppose in part, it's because Fr. Z used to remind me of William Shatner.

Shatner's name came up today in connection with Leonard Cohen.

Still plussing?

I never followed Leonard Cohen or really knew who he was.  Since finding out about him, I realized I've seen him perform once on late night TV.  At the time I stared at the TV wondering who was the old guy who couldn't sing, and I thought he was awful, and had no idea why he was even singing - I thought then that he was worse than William Shatner.  Now I've read about him and I know he's a brilliant man - but I still don't like him.  How uncouth, I know.  Terribly illiterate of me, I'm sure.

So anyway - I thought I'd share something from William Shatner since there is nothing interesting online today.

Unless you want to read why The Anchoress thinks Colbert is just like St. Philip Neri.  She lost me at Steven.

Song for this post here.

(When I first heard the Cohen song covered by K.D. Lang I thought it was the stupidest song I had ever heard since Cat Steven's  "Moon Shadow".)

My apologies in advance to Canadians and people who like that kind of music.

Make me entirely teachable ...

Our Lady of Solitude

O Eternal Word, Word of my God, I want to spend my life in listening to You, to become wholly teachable that I may learn all from You. Then, through all nights, all voids, all helplessness, I want to gaze on You always and remain in Your great light. O my beloved Star, so fascinate me that I may not withdraw from Your radiance. - Prayer of Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity

Monday, August 24, 2015

You learn something new everyday. The Duggar Family.

Who are the Duggars?

I may have heard of them.  I may have run across the name online - but I never paid any attention.

Then I came across a blog post mentioning the Duggar family in connection to the Ashley Madison hack.  I did hear about the Ashley Madison deal on the news - but I never paid any attention.

What does that have to do with anything?  I guess it's about not putting people on pedestals?  Projecting perfection upon so-called role models?  Then being scandalized when they maybe don't measure up?

Who does that?

I never put anyone on a pedestal ... can't do it anymore.

So anyway Poodles, a few words of advice for when the going gets tough:

"Never take a man for your example in the tasks you have to perform, no matter how holy he may be, for the devil will set his imperfections before you." - John of the Cross

"Perfection does not lie in the perfections the soul knows it has, but in the virtues our Lord sees in it. This is a closed book, hence one has no reason for presumption, but must remain prostrate on the ground with respect to self." - John of the Cross

“To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda or even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery; it means to live in such a way that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist.” -Cardinal Emmanuel Célestin Suhard, Archbishop of Paris 1940-1949

It gets better.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

This is a great mystery ...

Holy Communion ...

"For this reason ... a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one ... This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church." - Ephesians 5:21-32

Holy Communion ...

"For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father." - John 6:60-69

This is a great mystery.