The Debt of Grief

A few weeks ago, someone I had known, committed suicide.

The mother found her strung up like a fallen power line, having lost, what we are told, a long period of depression. A night so dark and deep, that not even the starlight of her family’s love could reach the pit. This individual was active in the parish, taking responsibility for various children’s endeavours and ministries for the youth. We pray for the repose of her soul.

But where do we go from here? How can a parish, indebted to grief, console her children when a member of the family chooses to end his own life. Suicide is a grave perversion of natural order, and, a violation of the fifth commandment. However, when mental illness is involved, the lines blue. Dana Dillon of Catholic Moral Theology wrote an excellent little treatise on the moral situation of suicide. She writes “our culpability for what we do is measured in large part by our freedom in choosing it.” And this point, exactly, was the homily for Mass preceding the day of the funeral. Where exactly does our freedom end?

Dillon writes, “when someone has severe depression or is living with the hallucinations and delusions of schizophrenia or the challenges of an anxiety disorder, the brain simply does not process information in a normal way.” The mind of someone who struggles with an anxiety or depressive predisposition, is, set apart from the rest. Perhaps the phrase victim soul could apply. Regardless, we cannot stand in judgement of a soul which only God himself peers into. What moves me so, however, is prospects of our future as a society.

What kind of cry for help is death? A reaction to the oppression and violence of this world, a violence often underhanded, in nature. And who can handle the grief of a lost child, especially under these circumstances?  A mother weeps, bitter tears fall like rain upon memories of a body once so small and able to fit in the palm of a hand. The future becomes overcast, blurry, invisible. I write not to answer any questions like this.

I write to sort out the mess of human brokenness.

You may recall that we are all children of the same God. We converge not only by the breath of life but also the actions of our mortal inclination. Each person possesses his own sliver of a shard, which is why the Blessed Lord Himself came to defeat death. To restore in us, our new life, one we receive in baptism.

Our brokenness manifests itself in diverse ways; we all have our own temptations, but it is easier with God and Our Blessed Mother. We are not alone; we are not automatons, just given over to the desires of the flesh as modernity often likes to present ourselves as being. Reject not your soul, reject only the world.

We can no longer be so hard on each other. We can not be guilty of being a shade against our brethren. Do not be afraid to love. Perhaps if we love each other a little bit more, like a spark of light, we will become the light of the adorable Saviour in a culture affixed to darkness.

Let your heart be a broken door, a latch turned to dust, open wide.

Meantime, along the narrow rugged path,
Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Saviour, lead me home in childlike faith,
Home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.

-Blessed John Cardinal Henry Newman

At Calvary…

It’s been a while since I’ve made a post. I am requesting that you pray for me, because I’m praying for you; offering sacrifice for you. If you have any specific requests, please offer them up and let me know. I’ll be happy to receive them. I’m on the path to a Masters in Divinity and the priesthood please God, and my life has been busy.

As it is, with the Blessed Mother and the saints we praise, let us further extol them all in this following song…

I’m only human, I’m just a man (or) woman
Help me believe in what I could be
And all that I am
Show me the stairway I have to climb
Lord for my sake, help me to take
One day at a time

One day at a time sweet Jesus
That’s all I’m askin’ of you
Just give me the strength
To do every day what I have to do
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine
Lord, help me today, show me the way
One day at a time

Oh, Do you remember when you walked among men
Well Jesus you know
If you’re looking below, it’s worse now than then
Oh! there’s pushing and shoving  and crowding in my mind
So for my sake, teach me to take
One day at a time

One day at a time sweet Jesus
That’s all I’m askin’ of you
Just give me the strength
To do every day what I have to do
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine
Lord, help me today, show me the way
One day at a time

Here’s a link. It’s as good for us as anyone.

Mildly, He Lays His Glory By

It’s amazing how University can take over your life. This first term has just come to an end, and with it, the beautiful season of Christmas and the culmination of another year

I haven’t had time to breathe, to sneeze, only time for a quick prayer and a visit with my friends. Then it was off to another class, practise, Mass, or service of some sort. Disposable words, once intended for good marks, have left the petrichor of an A average and a stronger desire to know this world of God’s creation.

University throws you into this state of oblivion. I am still confused by, and fail to understand the pretence that flows in the air at this school and because only a few friends followed me there, it saddens me to find it hard to meet someone who is half down to earth, with their feet firmly planted on the ground. Whether it be how one grew up, what one eats (or rather, smokes) for breakfast, or the books they read, there is no reason someone should be considered higher in the social hierarchy because they turn their sleeves up a certain way or flip the bottoms of their trousers up in a queer fold so as to look three sizes too small.

With that said, what would I learn if I wasn’t thrown into the unfamiliar? I’d be something like Plato’s cave dwellers. I don’t believe in some kind of ephemeral Catholicism, but (life) is ephemeral. Our chances are only as long as Heaven gives them time. So why waste what we have?

In the Church’s liturgy, the divine blessing is fully revealed and communicated to us through the Eucharist, which is the sacrifice on the Cross shown again to us, the children of God. We are with the Blessed Mother there, as we behold the spotless Victim. He is not there only then, but forever in Divinity expressed. This isn’t temporary. If I cannot grow closer to God, the Rock of Ages, the very Child whose birth we have erected trees, showered love, and given gifts to celebrate, then where shall I fall?

There need not be this oblivion; the sense of uncertainty, when you have the veil of a Blessed Mother to lead you. Knowing what to do with my life, knowing what you want to do with your life, will not arrive at the senses in  a smack. That only happens when you hit the rock bottom floor of despair, something I hope we can avoid. If we rely on God, don’t you trust him to hold you up?

This is something I’ve come to realise this first university Christmas. We’ve been singing for quite some time at Mass, and at the service of Nine Lessons and Carols, at tree lightings, etc, these words:

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

The Prince of Peace does not leave us in anguish, the Son of Righteousness would not let us despair, for He indeed does bring light and life to all that ask Him, humility personified, and He came that we may more should die. The fiat of the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Winning supplication, glory unspeakable and remarkable. Here is Christmas. I pray that we keep this spirit every day, so that we can love and be loved as we truly are meant to do.

“I was received as an envoy of the Holy See with true respect and with cordiality”

If you have been following the traditional Catholic blogs and know anything of the SSPX, you’d know by now that there has been for the last year or two, beginning with Pope Benedict XVI, talks between the superior Bishop Fellay and various Cardinals and prelates. Today, over on Rorate Caeli, I read this heartwarming interview done by the blog’s Spanish correspondents:

Adelante la Fe: Your Excellence has recently visited the SSPX [seminaries] in the United States and France. We know it was a “discreet” meeting but, can you make an evaluation for us of what you saw and talked with them about? What expectations do you have of a coming reconciliation and which would be the main obstacle for it? Mons. Schneider: The Holy See asked me to visit the two [seminaries] of the SSPX in order to conduct a discussion on a specific theological topic with a group of theologians of the SSPX and with His Excellency Bishop Fellay. For me this fact shows that for the Holy See the SSSPX is not a negligible ecclesiastical reality and that it has to be taken seriously. I am keeping a good impression of my visits. I could observe a sound theological, spiritual and human reality in the two [seminaries]. The “sentire cum ecclesia” of the SSPX is shown by the fact that I was received as an envoy of the Holy See with true respect and with cordiality. Furthermore, I was glad to see in both places in the entrance area a photo of Pope Francis, the reigning Pontiff. In the sacristies there were plates with the name of Pope Francis and the local diocesan bishop. I was moved to assist the traditional chant for the Pope (“Oremus pro pontifice nostro Francisco…”) during the solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
 
To my knowledge there are no weighty reasons in order to deny the clergy and faithful of the SSPX the official canonical recognition, meanwhile they should be accepted as they are. This was indeed Archbishop Lefebvre’s petition to the Holy See: “Accept us as we are”.
 
I think the issue of Vatican II should not be taken as the “conditio sine qua non”, since it was an assembly with primarily pastoral aims and characteristics. A part of the conciliar statements reflects only its time and possesses a temporary value, as disciplinary and pastoral documents do. When we look in a two millennia old perspective of the Church, we can state, that there is on both sides (Holy See and the SSPX) an over-evaluation and over-estimation of a pastoral reality in the Church, which is Vatican II.

It is well known that Msgr Schneider, who is the auxiliary Bishop of Astana in Kazakhstan, has always been firm in his orthodox practise of faith. In February, he took a moment to point out, define, and denounce what can be seen as a New Gnosticism. His Grace has had the opportunity to visit the French and American seminaries and was welcome with open arms and free from criticism, and I think that that is absolutely wonderful. While a few cracks would certainly have to be paved in the way of regularisation of the Society, I agree with Msgr Schneider that we ought to take them as is, “as what’s written on the tin” so to speak. Please remember to keep Msgr Schneider in your prayers, and the Society of St Pius X as well, in your prayers and offerings.

Bishop Schneider offering the Pontifical High Mass during the Latin Mass Society pilgrimage to West Grinstead

If you’re interested, take a minute to pop over here and read the article that attaches the photo above.

Vater Unser!

We don’t require a lot in life to be happy, that blessed minimalism that defines true felicity either situational or in the terms of a long, well lived life. We see this in the penitential lives of friars and brothers, sisters and nuns all over the world that have devoted themselves to monetary poverty and yet are so rich in faith that happiness exudes from their beings. I hear it in the music of Arvo Part, whose sacred minimalistic style has become popular in recent musical and liturgical history.

It only takes a drop of water to know the refreshment it gives and you only need a penny to understand the value of the pound or dollar. Of more value to us is kneeling down and receiving the precious Body of the Lord, and it only takes one communion to increase our piety and for God to work His grace that we can only receive through that sacrament alone. Ironic to that minimalism is that we should receive Communion regularly, and drink water regularly. Our graces will multiply and so will our health, bodily and spiritually.


I leave you now, with a great example of Mr Part’s work, the Vater Unser.

A compass to follow

I have surprised myself in how long a hiatus I took from the world online. It’s not only this blog I’ve neglected to update, but even my Facebook and emails have gone unchecked. I understand that in a time like this that that can be completely dangerous and grounds for admission to the nearest psych ward, but allow me to explain and tell you, my dear readers, what has happened in that time I’ve been away.

Soon enough, this will be the blog of a Catholic at University. I have passed all my courses, and today found out that I have even passed my Maths in which I went into the exam with a failing mark, but having pass THAT, passed the course. I’ve been accepted to University for a Major in Philosophy and a Minor in Theology, and I ask for your prayers in that regard. The overused phrase in the Catholic sphere is “discerning the vocation”, and at a loss for a new and reformed expression I have to admit that I’m doing the same right now. I have felt a calling to the priesthood for a long time, even since I was a young thing only four inches high off the ground, and that is my long term goal as it stands. I have also been looking into various forms of religion life, but I understand that in no way will this be a personal decision but rather like steering a ship with an unsure compass. Sooner enough, I’ll be pointed in the right direction by Almighty God but I am happy to follow wherever He and the Blessed Mother needs me.

In my absence, I have also grown closer to God in that I have experienced the things that the “man of Sorrows” could only help me through. The loss of good friends who had to leave because life desires them not to be held back, but to go and bloom as every flower does. I mean moving away and going to better schools, not fights or rows. I still have my main group of friends, all of which I wouldn’t trade for the moon and sun. It is through them that I have seen the light of God at night and saw Him as captain during the day.

However, I am not as happy as I ought to be, and I need to understand a few things about truth that I find hard to grasp, but I know that with the help of Our Lady, I’ll be there, just as I am.