Living and the Dead

Today I travelled a wee bit outside of town, and came across a beautiful little village that contained two churches and a chapel. One, Anglican, the other, Catholic. Both were imbibed with the beautiful of 500 years, another a more Victorian structure (that was the Catholic) with seating in the upper part of the church as well as the lower. It is amazing what a God-fearing priest can do to revive the dusty faith of and ageing population.

Now, in both churches, the altars were facing ad orientem. Central to the Catholic church was the tabernacle placed beyond the altar. On said altar remained three traditional Mass cards, and a statue of Our Lady and St Therese on either side. The priest is a young, recently-ordained fellow and in charge of three other parishes. I had missed daily Mass, but it was evident how used the building was. According to the figures, it has been growing and growing each Sunday do to the attraction of traditionalists and those who seek a proper Mass each Sunday, as both rites are offered at the Church. I knelt at the altar rail for a prayer, and was moved at the tranquility the little building enclosed. There was a quaint little pump-organ placed in the back, and on it by some sort of Divine Providence was placed my favourite hymn. I managed to walk a little further around town, and enjoyed the familiar spray of salt water on my face. The beauty of God’s creating is amazing. And for someone struggling like I am, a five-hour drive from home truly does one a world of good.

The Anglican church was a fully wooden Gothic building, and a very grand one with the full English pipe organ, now in disuse (such a pity for a beautiful thing). Of course, the minister is a liberal who preaches the modernist concept of tolerance.

The building is threatened with closure.

So, it seems as though a dead faith makes a dead church… but a ‘lively’ faith, creates a lively congregation.

Advertisements

Accepting Suffering

On the other hand, whoever bears firmly in mind the thought of final divine justice and projects the light of life eternal upon the obscure paths of earthly life, will not be uncertain as to the way. Modern light-houses function in this manner in cloudy weather. They do not project their light forward, out onto the open sea, but upward, onto the dark clouds. And the clouds, which otherwise would envelop the horizon in darkness, thus reflect the lighthouse gleam for more than a hundred miles. Our faith, too, projects the glow of eternal life upon the clouds of our earthly paths, because it knows that otherwise suffering cannot be endured. It cannot be endured, except with the consolation given by the knowledge that this is not the final word in our lives.

Man was not created by God for affliction; he was created for happiness. Every particle of us longs for happiness. Mary Magdalen was great when she wept repentant tears at our Lord’s feet, but this was not the final part of her journey, not the final word in her life. That moment of supreme bliss was when the risen Christ said to her: “Mary.” The Blessed Virgin was great when, with grief-stricken soul, she stood under the cross of her divine Son. But the final halting-place of her journey could not be the Stabat Mater; it is the Regina coeli, laetare, “Rejoice, Queen of Heaven.”

– Fr Thamer Toth: The Great Redeemer – Acceptance of Suffering

How He Loves Us!

He found it hard to focus on the light, because the strength and depth of the void between them was far too blighting, far more gentler, and slightly more beautiful than the stars which mapped the heavens.

Water moved below his feet, slapping against concrete, holding the River Thames together. Finite, finished, feeling. “Oh just to plunge, to drown – to fall into the depths of darkness and complete this earthly journey…”

The young man prayed, and Jesus came. Consumed by divine love and ardour, he took up his pen. Then he wrote a hymn, words of hope and an expression for reason. A true reason, the only reason for to live.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
‘Tis an ocean vast of blessing, ’tis a haven sweet of rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!

Samuel Trevor Francis is the author. Although a member of the non-conformist Plymouth Brethren, as a lay preacher, his sentiments are contained in no ecclesial community specifically, and reign in the fulness of truth when we consider the profound truth of Christ’s holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Perhaps if Francis were a member of the Church, he might have been completely consumed in the fire of Divine Love, with access to the Body and Blood of our loving Saviour himself.

I love this hymn. Quite often I find myself lost in the void of darkness, carrying the burden of a sadness so inhibiting and burdensome that I wonder if I can carry on until the next day. I have never been suicidal, because it is the love of God alone who guards me from those thoughts. It is my faith that drives me, because I know that God wants every individual here on Earth for a divine reason. I know I am loved, and I know who is my master, and it is not myself.

“How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!” How true are these words! How He loves us! Each Sunday we are privy to His own flesh and blood, soul and divinity!

Though unworthy, how He loveth! 

To all who carry their cross, never despair. Always hope, and if you can’t hope, pray. Then you will be given the grace to hope. Never stop praying.

20234865_1_x

The Good Shepherd – Voelkel

Escaping the Meantime

We are all in a rush. A rush to grow up, to get through life, to fall guilty of complacency and absurdity in our practise and belief. The world presents itself a harsh friend; you try and die as quickly as possible. We kill each other quickly enough, due to the stress and personalized hegemony we try to place on ourselves and other people. We can’t control what we wish to keep reigns out, and therefore despair and anxiety upsets what ought to be our naturally cheerful, patient, or serene disposition.

Truly, the meantime becomes our enemy. Our enemy we cannot escape, but we are not God – we are not divine – contrary to our desire to be God. The desire to control. The desire to dominate. Only the spiritually mature can escape this, and it is through the universal call to holiness by which we loosen the shackles that keep us bound in depression, fear, and anger. You see: we are not of the world. Christians, by virtue of their baptism, break a bond with evil and death and the Church – the Mystical Body of the Saviour, nourishes and feeds us as we come to serve and possess knowledge of the Divine as we take part in Him, the lover and nourisher of our soul. The creator of all things, ‘visible and invisible.’ 

Keep that in mind. Life is not meaningless, it is not a waste of time, and we ought not to rush through it entirely. Remember your maker, who desired you in this world so dearly that He thought you up and put you down on earth. He created you because He loves you. He needs you to sow your roots, and groom your garden.

Jeremiah 1:5 states, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…” This is the truth. Every day each and every one of us is awoken by the sun, and the memory of His unfailing, everlasting love.

And so therefore, waste not the meantime.

Medicine for the Young

What we need most in order to make progress is to be silent before this great God with our appetite and with our tongue, for the language he best hears is silent love.

Who said that? St John of the Cross, the counter-reformer whose writings many Catholics have come to love. I resign myself to complete humility before the sight and gaze of these greats, these treasures of our tradition. I, myself, have a heavy cross. I often meditate on the more sanctified souls – how great then do they bear the wood of the cross? I say this because we have forgotten the way, in this world, to understand how badly we need the mercy of God!

Look at the youth: look at our inheritance, our younger generations. Look at whom we have to bear our torch. The world is in complete misery, and young men and women who have been brought up either anti-theist or without any faith have no means of coping with the anxiety of this world. They have no reason, religious nor existential, to make a leap of faith. Instead, the rates of suicide go up – why not? They’ve no reason to be here. One switch of a blade and it’s all over. Binge-drinking? Why not? There’s no spiritual nature to the cleanliness of our body and soul, no consequence for our actions. All we must do is carry the stone of this existence until it’s over! Why not escape while we can? Do a few drugs, lift our brains to Ganja, metaphorically if not spiritually. Nihilism has crept in, taken over, and redefined existence in the modern eye.

So therefore, the human condition makes no progress but regresses into a primitive state, perhaps one before man became respondent. Did not our loving Creator form mankind out of clay, in His image? Is this not the greatest act of love? But we live under the conditions of the greatest act of disobedience, destroyed by Christ on the cross. We are each cleansed of the structure of original sin at our baptisms, yet as humans we recognise our weakness and susceptibility to giving in to that which we know is bad for us. When we lack faith, we self-medicate, and turn into robotic things freely choosing our poisons when we know there’s something better in the world. We are rowdy, bashful, loud.

Our ears are closed.

Our lips constantly apart.

We crave nothing but what satisfies our heart for the mean time, until when its over we crave another temporary satisfaction.

We end up hating ourself, unaware of infinite mercy and forgiveness that God extends to every creature on the face of His green Earth.

He forgives us for forgetting the sovereignty, He forgives us for rejection our dominion. He forgives us for all that we repent for, and He takes us and hides us deep within His wounds until we go kicking and and leap out. We can do this a thousand times, and He will forgive us because He never tires of forgiving.

Aren’t we lucky? Don’t we have a vast and immense privilege to be children of Love itself?

“Explain to us the tare in the field.”

pl1_372505_fnt_tr_t86iii

Then he sent the multitude away, and went back into the house. There his disciples came to him, and said, Explain to us the parable of the tares in the field. He answered, It is the Son of Man that sows the good seed. The field is the world, and the sons of the kingdom are the good seed; the sons of the wicked one are the tares. The enemy that sowed them is the devil, and the end of the world is the harvest; it is reaped by the angels. The tares were gathered together and burned in the fire, and so it will be when the world is brought to an end; the Son of Man will give charge to his angels, and they will gather up all that gives offence in his kingdom, all those who do wickedly in it, and will cast them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping, and gnashing of teeth. Then, at last, the just will shine out, clear as the sun, in their Father’s kingdom. Listen, you that have ears to hear with. St Matthew 13:36-43 (Knox)

Tunc, dimissis turbis, venit in domum: et accesserunt ad eum discipuli ejus, dicentes: Edissere nobis parabolam zizaniorum agri. Qui respondens ait illis: Qui seminat bonum semen, est Filius hominis. Ager autem est mundus. Bonum vero semen, hi sunt filii regnum. Zizania autem, filii sunt nequam. Inimicus autem, qui seminavit ea, est diabolus. Messis vero, consummatio sæculi est. Messores autem, angeli sunt. Sicut ergo colliguntur zizania, et igni comburuntur: sic erit in consummatione sæculi. Mittet Filius hominis angelos suos, et colligent de regno ejus omnia scandala, et eos qui faciunt iniquitatem: et mittent eos in caminum ignis. Ibi erit fletus et stridor dentium. Tunc justi fulgebunt sicut sol in regno Patris eorum. Qui habet aures audiendi, audiat. S. Matthias 13:36-43 (Vulgate)

To this day, we find the tare in the midst of the Church. Dissenters, who, in a spirit of fall charity and truth, peddle a gospel more compatible with the changes of the modern world. Clerics who, in an attempt to make people more comfortable rather than familiar with the truth of God, reconcile acceptance to sin with a plastic definition of “love” which we also call lukewarmness, or, apathy.

Isn’t it funny how we never have an intense feeling or lukewarmness? But we often have a hatred against truth, and the devil is the one who confuses us. I think of groups like “Catholic For Choice” and the ilk. Satan sows tare, or weeds, just like this. Since we often fail to have an informed conscious; another tare of Satan. But the warning of disaster coming to those not guarded up by the angels of God are in fact a statement of immense love from Our Blessed Lord (and really, every word of Christ is one burning with love), and a warning against being deceived. It is a a battle cry!

“Then, at last, the just will shine out, clear as the sun, in their Father’s kingdom. Listen, you that have ears to hear with.”

We, who can hear: we can hear the word of God. But we need to use our intuition, and our natural reason will tell us whose voice is speaking, whether ours or God’s. He gives us His grace to hear His word, and we have to choose to obey it: and if we don’t choose to obey it, if we don’t choose to love, if we don’t choose to instruct sinners, then who will instruct us? If do not accept the nature of our indifference, then how can we come to love our brethren and to love the Lord? How can we benefit in the great goodness of our Merciful Saviour and His Blessed Mother, the co-redemptrix, whose intercession rains down innumerable numbers of graces!

The truth shines out – as clear as the sun. Even when it’s foggy, we can see the spot in the sky where that shadowy glimmer of light exposes the sun.

 

My Soul Knows it Very Well

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17 (ESVA)

Let not your hearts be troubled, the liturgy tells us, for our sins are forgiven. And as we forgive others, so are we forgiven. Christ awaits us in the confessional, for there in our brokenness does he receive us. Our loving Saviour: he gathers up each shattered shard of our hearts, blows away every spirit, and in the warmth of His hands he warms our hardened hearts and fills us with his Divine Spirit so to infuse in us His most wonderful grace, through His Blessed Mother. Never doubt. Never be afraid,! Rather live in fear of God, a righteous fear.

Many times this past week I have offered up my own broken and contrite heart, and each time, I felt the winds of God restoring peace in my soul. I don’t know how much I’ve cried, nor been in trouble through my own stupid and manic choices. While, right now life appears to me before me as absurd and futile, I know that is my weak understanding of things. God knows best.

If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:9-16 (ESVA)

Our days are planned in the book of life, and if we trust in the Church and we trust in God, we know that our life is a gift. He knows our use, He knit us together, He knew us before anyone or thing knew us. He didn’t put us here as a single cog in a machine, for only to spin the earth. No, He will always be with us. He will never leave us, and we have a purpose: for His Mystical Body feeds us daily.

Never forget these words. We approach repressive days as Christians; the world is not for our conformity. This world is not our home. Though I travel through some mist of my own grand illusion, God urges me on towards that which is right. He has not left us, and His love for us is closer than that of our own breath.

Please pray for me, and I’m praying for you. God Bless.