The Banality of Hell

This evening at the vigil Mass, we had a visiting priest – or rather, a priest originally from our town returned to offer Mass. He was always very intelligent: spiritually, theologically, liturgically. His heart truly carried each word of the beloved sacrifice to his lips, visibly stirred his soul.

Now, for a long while we have been under the, um, regime of a rather particular vicar who years ago was silenced for speaking out in support of same-sex marriage™ but somehow was reconciled to stable ministry. Today, during the intercessions, I watched a pleasant rouge fade to a placid grey as the intercessor, through no fault of his own, beseeched us all to “pray for people of all faiths, that we may come to know the truths in all the religions of the world.” This was quite a trick on behalf of our regular parish priest; an intentional shot from the arrow of contempt for good and solid theology, and the sensibility of a pious priest.

Notice the wording. I trust my memory in this case, because it disturbed my conscience that we as Catholics should be praying for others to basically remain pagan and not led home to the truth of the Church. Notice the banality of it – for people of all faiths – know the truths in all the religions of the world – we could interpret that in various ways, really. But the common individual would hear “all religions are equal and good.” In addition, one could think that by virtue of the word “truth”s perhaps it really is a plea for conversion, as the truth can only be found in one spot in fullness; a thing cannot be half true or a quarter truth. But the Church, in her holy wisdom, does not deny that people of diverse belief can come to know some truth: quantity vs. substance.

But recall the nature of ourselves: somewhat genteel, or possibly selfish. We often tend to follow the crowd, as the pack mentality consumes our more definable individuality – we see this in the world: the rise of socialist politics and self-entitled teenagers whining because they refuse to work for an education and want it on the taxpayers wallet, or, the “public purse.” See how they riot? In New Orleans a group of protestors wanted to tear down a statue of St Joan of Arc, confusing her with some civil war figure or other. Notice this new iconoclasm of sorts? History repeats itself.

But now, more than ever, we ought to be apt in claiming the truth of God’s glorious redemption; His redeeming love, and His Mother’s role in salvation. Now, more than ever, in this age of nihilism and absurdity – we should strive to lead souls HOME to Christ, not confirming their position in Buddhism. We were warned by the Lord to not be lukewarm.

There is truth. Let’s stick to it. Why are we so adverse to obedience? Why do our own members reject our own teaching! We need to pray. We need to love and protect and pray for our priests and bishops. They are how God communicates with us, and those men are whom God chose to be His soul-keepers.

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.”

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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.

 

God’s Movement towards Mankind

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God’s love is the source of all our love, and he is the one taking the initiative in the lovestory between him and us. For this reason, the heart of Christ is the starting point of the dynamics of love.  Christ is the incarnation of the Godhead, which means that he is the embodiment of God, who is love. Because he is Love incarnated, he is the standard by which all love is measured. Since love has its seat in the heart, Christ’s heart is the symbol of this love.

It is an important property of this love that it makes the lover shift his gaze from himself to the beloved. As a consequence, none has greater love than he who gives his life for his friends. It follows from this that the love of God is most profoundly revealed in Christ crucified, and to Francis de Sales he is the best teacher of the dynamics of love: «Mount Calvary is the true school of love.»

  • Taken from the writings of Susanne A. Kjekshus Koch,”SAINT FRANCIS DE SALES AND THE THEOLOGY OF HEARTS: The Dynamics of Love” (link)

Sanctify my Breast

e6eddd651a2f499abd793f57cccac174--blessed-mother-mary-blessed-virgin-maryToday during Low Mass, in the midst of our recessional hymn when the choir was gussied up with wind and conviction singing the final verse of “Soul of My Saviour,” I observed our parish priest, Fr Browne, and the change of his demeanour as we all recalled Jesus’s unfailing comfort and protection until our death and thereafter. Our breasts were truly filled with God’s peace and comfort, and Father who, after sixty years of ordination can still genuflect and bow and offer the sacrifice of Mass without any bodily complaints, kept a well-folded away secret: it was his birthday. Fr Browne is truly a humble man, and a true Jesuit. One of the only few left. Probably the only one still around offering the Mass according to the 1962 Missal.

But what remains remarkable is the immense humility of this gentle man, a character to say the least, and a man of humour and quiet contentment. My grandparents remember him, also, as a quiet and graceful soul often found in prayer. When preaching, he most usually concludes with

“and find yourself a good, Catholic bible. And read about the passion and death of our Lord. And pray the Rosary, and read about Our Lord’s passion. Meditate on what your saviour has done for you.”

We need priests like this! Each suffering an offering, every word a prayer, many gestures, a sacrifice. Today I experienced the lovingkindness of God in another, new way.  Through an eighty-six year old priest, whose life is dedicated to the love of the children of God. I hope to God that some day I can be his age, and as good a priest as him.

So, what is the lesson? It is hard to find role-models for young men, aspiring to be priests, when free-love hippies dominate the priesthood. I know one after the other whom, in this diocese alone, campaign and celebrate gay ‘marriage.’ I know one after another whom, in an effort to be ‘understanding’ or ‘loving’ stash away the truth and accept a parishioners obvious sin, such as living in a state of cohabitation. We need more priests who will tend to the sin-sick soul: and this is all of us. I need someone to tell me about the love of God, and not what I want to hear, but what I NEED to hear.

And for this, oh Lord, we pray.

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.