Nature of Love

Love. Do you love your husband, husband, do you love your wife? Have you ever loved someone to the capacity that you would do something stupid for them? Have you ever loved to the point where your heart will ache? Or been the subject of love to the point that you repress your feelings by drinking and become an absolute devotee to the image of a man? If you have, then you’re my friend, and you’re also God’s. To be enchanted in a cave, underground, with many a circumstance. That would be normal liberality as the sexual programme prescribes.

They are wrong. True love has been abandoned. Any love between men is deemed “gay.” You, my dear friends, might know of my previous encounter with people who have committed suicide, well last week I received a bad account about my first cousin who tried it. Twice in a row. Firstly, he tied himself to a tree by way of a noose and he jumped. The branch broke. The second time, he climbed higher and tied himself to another, otherwise looking strong, branch. He jumped, the branch broke, and he knocked himself out on his way down. Police were called and the dogs found him, gently gnawing on his leg and letting the police know by barking. He believed in God until he woke up.

Upon waking up, he renounced God and renounced life and is mad at all of us for letting him live. He admitted to me that since the age of seven he has wanted to do away with himself. I have been crying ever since. I thought my troubles were great. No, his are worse.

He is now in the children’s hospital ward as he is only seventeen. I have been visiting him daily and for great hours. I spent the night last Thursday. He has no sense of life or of vitality, of happiness or suffering. He just wants to be dead. Now. He refuses the nurse’s advice, the psychiatrist’s advice, and the love of his family. I am his only allowed visiter because we have always been on the same level and I know how to talk to him, and he’s helped me out of a few situations regarding my own mental health. He knew how I thought, but he held back on revealing to me how he though. Now we are honest with each other but he’s still nihilistic. After a six-page letter, he decided to travel two kilometres from his house and do the deed.

My buddy, my brother from another mother as they say, tried to end his life. Please pray for him to great accord, and pray for me as well. I am doing my best to love him as much as I can, so he knows God’s love as well. He is in care, and they’re doing their best to make him know the same. He will not comply. Pray for him. Pray that he comes along. Pray that people who have these feelings and thoughts can find the strength to think differently and feel the love of their families.

God Himself loved us so much as to allow His own Son to die, the second person of the Trinity of the one God. To become human and to be sacrificed. At that crucifixion Jesus bore the sins of all of us, including my cousin. He bore the suffering he is now experiencing. Pray.

Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Our Lady of Grace, take care of my cousin and grant him peace of mind.

 

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God is in Charge

The Dominion of Canada is legalising marijuana. Bishops are calling for the resignation of Pope Francis, the Holy Father. Steve is making an appearance in northern skies.

I am frightened. The days carry ever so much weight as my time goes on. My life, however, becomes more stressful and hard each day. I sin, I forget promises, I do not do what I ought to have done.

I know God is in charge, and that, as we are His creation, He will never fail us. The faith of that is good enough to keep me calm. Today, let us pray.

Thou, Most Holy Virgin, who dost evermore stand before the throne of the Most Holy Trinity, and to whom it is granted at all times to pray for us to the most beloved Son, pray for me in all my necessities; help me, combat for me, give thanks for me, and obtain for me pardon of all my sins; help me especially at my last hour, and, when I can no longer give any sign of the use of reason, then do thou encourage me, make the sign of the cross for me, sprinkle me with holy water, and fight for me against the enemy. Make in my name a profession of faith; favour me with a testimony of my salvation, and never let me despair of the mercy of God. Help me to overcome the wicked enemy; and when I can no longer say, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I place my soul in your hands, say it for me; and when I can no longer hear human words of consolation, then do thou comfort me. Leave me not before I have been judged; and if I have to expiate my sins in purgatory, O pray for me instantly, earnestly, and admonist my friends to procure for me a speedy enjoyment of the blessed sight of God. Lessen my sufferings, deliver me speedily, and conduct my soul into Heaven with thee, that, united with all the Elect, I may there bless and praise my God and thyself for all eternity.
Amen.

 

Pray for the Holy Father, not a friend to orthodoxy, but hopefully not guilty of what is being accused.

Many of us wander, blah blah

And when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, He is my brother.'” Genesis 20:13, English Standard Version – Anglicised

It would be a benign thing to say ‘many of us wander,’ but who are we trying to kid? We all wander. None of us are the Blessed Mother, without sin nor stain. Believers, as are we, are wont to climb the ladder to salvation and make use of the sacraments the God has so graciously provided us with. God is our comfort, and in His love we find the consolation of our fears and sins. In confession we receive the absolution of the same and begin again, knowing our obedience to Christ has been less than wanting. As I begin, I ask you all to turn to Our Lord and commit an act of love towards him: our sustainer, our strength, our provider, whose provision is something that will last our life long so long as we adore and glorify Him, the God our our redemption. Father, Son, Holy Ghost.

Many of you know that the question of suicide has been on my mind for quite a long time. Why do it, why be driven to the point of having to do it, the immorality or morality of it, the consequences of the human family, the consequences, most importantly, of the immortal human soul.

Dear readers, whom I pray for and hope pray for me, suicide is never, ever, a solution. Consider those around you. Consider the people that you love, those people who before maybe even meeting them, you required in your life. To me, love is like this: upon meeting someone, getting to know them, you realize that they start to fill up an empty space in your heart. This place in your heart is a home. They respond by confiding in you, by seeking your advice, and you do likewise: seek their counsel and being thankful forever for their help. This is our human nature, but it all stems from God and His provision. He would not create us to be alone, that is why He created many of us.

When we lose love, it hurts. That is because a piece of our heart is also shattered and buried with the loss, whether alive or dead. We must look at each other with this attitude, something I am learning to do and am absolutely not good at. I am judgemental, sarcastic, spiteful. Learning these things are the path to sanctity, but admitting my struggle with you, dear readers, is one thing I hope to help all of us including myself.

When you see your friends becoming something you previously had not known them to be, consider their life’s situation and never ever falter in love. Let them wander, like the prodigal son, if they must. Yet always be there and love them and tell them the right from wrong. Admonishment is love, and a hug is love. Forgiveness is a balm to the repentant soul.

My friends, many people, anyone you might come across, is alive. They are the creation of our God. Yet, their life experience is different to ours, and seldom ever will it be the same. Even twins differ. Let us pray to the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God, and Mother of the Church to yield these souls into her bosom. Then, directly, they will be before the throne of God. Suicide is not an automatic damnation. St John Marie Vianney said to a grieving wife, who in sorrow left a long lineup to see the same, “between the parapet of the bridge and the water he had time to make an act of contrition.” He was in purgatory. The instances of suicide, however, which leave us in awe, are those people who reject the love of the people around them, the love of the parents whose love caused their own growth, and their own rejection of the love they gave their own loves. This is rare, especially in this age, when mental illness is like a plague amongst men.

Treat each person as your brother. As your sister. Shine forth the love of God from your own eyes, so that when met, their eyes realize that you are a kind and gentle person, totally oriented towards what is right. It might not resonate in their mind, but it definitely will in their soul.

Now, dear readers, I ask you all if you will be in Nashville any time in September. I will be heading down with the vicar of our parish to participate in a conference headed by the Getty’s for rectors and worship leaders (being me) who work in the Anglican tradition (as I do). We will be there in September. Come for a meet and greet, or otherwise, pray for me and for our church, and for the one, true, holy, and apostolic Church.

As a Roman Catholic who works for the Anglican Catholics, I could not be more honoured. Please pray for them and for the many saints who are headed their way.

 

Love, Sacrificially.

I admire poets and authors of books. I read quite often, and never come away without some better understanding of life or the pains and anxieties of existence. The need for social interaction, the common weaknesses and episodes of life. Why should we seek an explanation when often enough, none is needed. Our events just happen, and they are profound when it hits our head deep enough – because we are brought to life, to the realization of our actuality – the fact that we are alive, and that what we do has implications in this world because God has deigned us to love one another. The absence of our love for the other is often an action costing great price.

God is love, and when we ignore our duty to love at the truest and divinest, we fall quite a distance from the Lord and His direction. Tonight, I was reading the great author Flannery O’Connor, an American Catholic who lived in the deeply Protestant state of Georgia. I often find her short stories to be both a criticism of racism, but at the same time, a moving allegory of the nature of divine grace. With further reading, I came upon this quote.

The operation of the Church is entirely set up for the sinner; which creates much misunderstanding among the smug.

Our contemporary understanding of religious life scarcely remembers this fact. The media will skew us, and paint us with a brush, as if being Catholic – or Christian, for that matter, was a lifestyle choice. The public will do anything now, to erase the fact that the western world was once deeply religious. The New World was evangelized by Roman Catholic and Church of England missionaries, Ireland was once a bastion of the faith, and Great Britain was a churchgoing island. Lately, the Irish have spat in the face of God Almighty, and have voted to allow the slaughter of the young and innocent: the unborn.

My conclusion is that this modern world is, indeed, becoming far too smug. We trod all over the religious, religion, and the sacred. It is our way, or no way. God’s way isn’t on the ballot anymore.

The Anglican Communion has been crumbling from the top down – the Episcopal Church has been sanctioned, the Church of England is considering “gender change” services and treating them as if it were a sacramental occasion. The Anglican Church of Canada has continually pressed forward against scripture and tradition, voting to adopt language in the Prayerbook for same-sex marriage. These moral tragedies, these impossibilities: of course, all in the name of love and mercy.

But, you see, the root of the problem is sentimentality. We wish to be open to all, but in being open to all you lose the meaning of religion. If everything is allowed, we are but animals who receive communion on Sundays. Thanks be to God I was born in the true Church of Christ, receiving leadership since Christ ascended through His Vicar.

The symptom of all this is our lack of love for another. True love is sacrificial, but yet firm and grounded in the scriptures of Holy Writ. If we’re all happy now, and all lovey dove, then we have the abandonment of our eternal happiness written on our foreheads. Yes, our God forgives each and everyone of us – but to be granted that forgiveness, we must rely upon the assistance of His grace throughout our every trial. Acceptance for “the way you are” isn’t true happiness. It is a ladder, well balanced, which can fall at any kick or strong breeze.

There is nothing for us to do than to cleave like a new-born to Our Lord, and receive our sacraments, pray our rosaries, and love one another with a smiling and open forgiveness; never to forget our duty to spread the wonderful and dizzying news of the love of Him who made us, sustains us, and redeems us. O’Connor says that the Church is set up for the sinner. This is so true. Everything the Church has to offer us is, indeed, for each and everyone of us individually for our eternal happiness and for the making of great saints who love their Lord, and His Blessed Mother, His saints, and each other. For we are all His creation, and so we come from this equal and level ground beneath the cross. We, being flesh and bone, are all of the same seed. Therefore it is our duty to get our friends to heaven. Allowing our friends to sin, without revealing them the true nature of their actions, is a sin itself.

And now, let us pray to the Lord for Ireland. Let us all pray for the wee unborn, for mothers contemplating the termination of the life of their little one, for troubled families, for the depressed and the suicidal and those who struggle with anxiety.

Let us pray that those suffering might find relief in Christ, whose Sacred Heart burns for us, and all who suffer. He is suffering with them, with us, and His mercy will never abandon us.

Let us pray to the Blessed Mother, the Mother of God, who is also our mother. All we need to do is say her name and like a loving mother, here she will be.

And finally, thank your Guardian Angel for loving and protecting you.

The Comfortable Words

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. St Matthew 11:28

These are comfortable words, whom anyone leading a life full of strife or difficulty can take particular enjoyment in. They are the opening words to the funeral liturgy of the Ordinariate, of many Anglican traditions, and are included in common Gospel readings at Requiem Masses throughout the English-speaking world.

Perhaps I am going out on a limb to say that we live in a world disenchanted with its past. A world, a society of people, collectively less aware of God although He makes Himself known. However, anyone with an open mind, if it is truly a mind receptive to establishing the truth of existence, ought to give these words some credence. We never truly grow old. We are always little children, gasping for air and for stability. We can fall on any bridge we wish, and quite often those bridges are made of wood near splintering into a thousand pieces; not close enough to open a gap quite yet, but near the point. We get up on the bridge and cross it many times, going one place at a time yet dependent on where we have fallen. We claim it as ‘life’s lot’, and accept it as our life’s purpose.

But then the bridge opens wide. We fall through. We hit the icy water below. We cannot breathe. We cannot swim. Our feeble hands claw and scrape at that river, yet we cannot find a ledge or a rock to cling to that could keep us steady or grant us a gasp of fresh air. Seldom do we find it. Thus, we hit a crisis. What was wrong? I thought I was on my feet. I thought the bridge that allowed me to travel to all corners of life was steady; a few cracks are normal. We aren’t perfect.

The bridge was a human construction, with human imperfections, made for the world’s use and was therefore unstable. Some of us, when we cooperate with the Grace we are given, fall upon a bridge that has weathered many a storm. It has been beaten and pelted with salty ocean waves, but it has dried and the wood was restored again and again. In fact, this particular structure was so susceptible to the acts of nature that sometimes we didn’t cross it for fear of the life we saw growing upon it. Moss, fungi, other green and brown things we cannot know of. However, when we really needed to come safely home, we could only cross this bridge. Eventually, after the length of time the wood stood, interrupted only time and time again by footstep, it petrified. The whole bridge became a solid rock.

Often our faith is like this isn’t it? Trust and obedience, dependence and doubt. We experience these in fluttering diversions, sometimes hitting us like arrows, mostly the safety net that ought to catch us should we ever fall through. To the non-believer, coming to belief can often be like this. Like walking a new bridge over a deep crevasse. Do you understand the imagery?

We know God would never ever build us an unsafe bridge. In fact, His bridges are perfect – the bridge saints trod. Yet they are filled with obstacles, many our own, many to test us, many to strengthen us. Today’s trials are the cause of tomorrow’s triumph.

The Psalmist St David, in Psalm 139: 6-9 has this to say:

Whither shall I go then from thy Spirit: or whither shall I go then from thy presence?
If I climb up into heaven, thou art there: if I go down to hell, thou art there also.
If I take the wings of the morning: and remain in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there also shall thy hand lead me: and thy right hand shall hold me.

The Lord Jesus Christ never departs from our presence. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday (or perhaps today is, depending which part of the globe you live in). You are going to be reminded, with the placing of a cross upon your forehead, that ‘thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return’, Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.

Remember, O Man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.

Meditate on these words. A cigarette only lasts you a couple minutes, and palm leaves burn in less time than that. Our life, because we alone experience it as we can, is but a burning star in the glimpse of time God allows. On the last day, our Lord will announce the faithful of the elect. The Roman Canon asks God to “Be mindful, also, O Lord, of Thy servants and handmaids…who are gone before us with the sign of faith and who sleep the sleep of peace. To these, O Lord, and to all who rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light and peace. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.” Therefore, God wills that we all be saved through Him, through the prayers of the Blessed Mother, and of the saints: yet only we can decide whether to cooperate with that grace He alone gives us, through the various ways He does. We can receive His very body, blood, soul and divinity. He give us Himself. His arms are open to the heavily laboured, the afflicted, the poor, the sinner.

Our abandonment of our pride, our excess, to His will; to let go of our hubris, to ask God where we belong.

It is difficult to lower ourselves, yet we have every means to do it. What can you lose? Death. What can you gain? Life. Be mindful of your sins, and use the sacraments to assist you on your life’s journey. For it is so very short, and eternity is…forever. Hell is real. Heaven is your home.

Throughout this Lenten season, my dear readers, we all must do penance and seek contrition for our downfalls. It is the time. You’re given no other day than the present, for the past is gone and the future doesn’t exist yet. Remember the words of the psalmist when you become weary, and the gospels when you despair. Remember the constant presence of God, who has given us everything, including His Own Son. His Own Mother. His Own Body. His Own Church. We need not fear Clothos, we need not fear the slowing draw of the thread of life. We need only to hope, to fear, to adore, to glorify, to adore the passion of Our Lord. Go to confession.

Go to Him, all of you that labour and weep, all who face darkness, and ask Him to be your eyes: go to Him, let Him embrace you. For you are His. He will give you rest.

 

The Unmeasurable, Unending: the Mercy of God

I am often touched by the stories of Elder Paisios and his interesting life – an Orthodox monk, blessed with grace and wisdom. Some consider him to be a saint, and is canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. My favourite tale is regarding an alcoholic monk, upon whose death a battalion of angels came to collect his soul.

“Once on Mount Athos in Greece there was a monk who drank and got drunk every day and was the case of scandal to the pilgrims. Eventually, he died and this relieved some of the faithful who went on to tell Father Paisios that they were delighted that this huge problem was finally solved. Father Paisios answered them that he knew about the death of the monk after seeing the entire battalion of angels who came to collect his soul. The pilgrims were amazed and some protested and tried to explain to the Elder of whom they were talking about, thinking that the Elder did not understand.

Elder Paisios explained to them that this particular monk was born in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) shortly before the expulsion of the majority of Christians there by the Muslim Turks when they were taking Christian boys and forcing their conversion to Islam. So as not to take him from his parents, they would take him with them to reaping in the fields and so he wouldn’t cry and alert the Turks to his presence, they put raki (an unsweeted anise-flavored Turkish alcoholic beverage popular in the Near East) into his milk in order for him to sleep. Therefore he grew up as an alcoholic.

Having grown up in such a way, the elder told him to pray that God would help him reduce by one glass the glasses he drank a day. After a year, he managed with struggle and repentance to make the twenty glasses he drank into nineteen glasses. The struggle continued over the years and he reached two to three glasses a day with which he would still get drunk.

The world for years saw an alcoholic monk who scandalized the pilgrims, but God saw a fighter who fought a long struggle to reduce his passion. The moral of the story is this: without knowing what each one is trying to do what he wants to do, what right do we have to judge his efforts?

This particular version is extracted from “The Meaning of Grace for the Christian”, an article published here by John G. Panagiotou.

We are charged with the practise of virtue – humility is one of these. We have to know our place as children of God, and recall the inability we have with experiencing the ‘other’ limited by the confines of flesh and bone. We cannot judge someone, we cannot judge them for we don’t truly know them as God does.

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