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?

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

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.

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.

Precious Lord, Lead me Home

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When my way grows drear
Precious Lord linger near
When my life is almost gone
Hear my cry, hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When the darkness appears
And the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand
Guide my feet, hold my hand
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m lone
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home. The first time I heard this song it was on side A of a recording of Mahalia Jackson’s lovely singing. As Catholics, we should never fear beauty, and beauty rests in art, music being the only one of which we can take to heaven with us. Lead, Kindly Light comes to mind whilst I read through the words to this incredible anthem. It isn’t Tallis or Purcell, Bach or Rachmaninov but yet it’s simply put: when in doubt, ask the Lord to help. There’s no fear. It, to me, brings a comfort: some doubts filled, a push to go on, to stop being caught up in the world no one else can see but me.

Our Blessed Lord said “I am the Good Shepherd“, this means he is like no other shepherd. He is the shepherd, not a shepherd. He picks us up from the thorns, he takes our hand. We have no fear when we follow Him. He left us His Church, and in doing so, never left us at all. We are His.

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather together the lambs with his arm, and shall take them up in his bosom, and he himself shall carry them that are with young. {Isaiah 40:11}

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather together the lambs with his arm, and shall take them up in his bosom, and he himself shall carry them that are with young. {Isaiah 40:11}

Rest your hearts, your souls, your worries and anxieties in the arms of Our Lady so that she may refer them to Her Son who dissolves every unrest. We all need this in a stressful modern world.

He that was called Judas

Yesterday as I was walking down the road, a man came over to me, related to me as if he were an uncle that was always there yet pays no blood relation to me, was particularly ossified and came over and gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek. As if he bathed in it, the smell of strong illegal whiskey surrounded him, something we aren’t quite unfamiliar with. The ocean waves washed over the shore and the salt air blew in, filtering out the inebriation. I talked to him for a bit and he flicked a few rocks over the hill, frightening a chorus of birds, laughed, and walked back to his house. I soon figured it out: this was purely symbolic.

Of course the act wasn’t random, why today was I getting a kiss on the cheek from a man who usually didn’t go in ten inches of your personal space let alone grab on to you?

As he was yet speaking, behold a multitude; and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near to Jesus, for to kiss him. And Jesus said to him: Judas, dost thou betray the Son of man with a kiss?

The passage above is from the gospel of St Luke, of the twenty second chapter. I’m not, most certainly, the Son of Man, nor a saint, nor any pious subject of the devoted author’s pen. But why did this happen to me just days after a great slap in the face from nature was given to me? Last weekend proved difficult to me, and it really broke me down emotionally. Yesterday, my closest friend also fell asleep at the wheel and drove into a hill by the post office, and yet is afraid to still drive. An ongoing conflict is still advancing here in my own house, of which my part is minor but I’m caught in the middle of. Seldom comes the peace I’ve been so bloody used to. Was that the betrayal? Or was that God giving me, as he does to each one of us, a cross to bear? Or is it, on the other hand, myself going crackers!? It feels as if the world looked at me and said “HA! You idjit! Enough of the foolish happiness, to Hell you go!” then twisted itself out of proportion.

Maybe I am just losing it.

Woebegone

The littlest things can make us happy, and the smallest things can make us forlorn. I can’t imagine why today has to be one of those days where I can’t look up and admire the blue, but it’s one where I can look down at the black and pick every flaw out in the pavement. Sometimes Our Lord may withdraw his presence in order to make us stronger, to have us call out to Him because while we might not hear Him, he certainly can hear us.

The past few days have been the most woeful. Please say a prayer for me!