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?

Social Justice post

With news from good ol’ county Armagh ta-day. A certain high school, known with renown for it’s love of the marginalised – the persecuted LGBT people in our society, has decided to take the courageous step and meet at the Pride parade, as if it were the very thing they should do to promote Catholic values and commitments.

Sponsa. Capite nobis vulpes parvulas quæ demoliuntur vineas: nam vinea nostra floruit.

Now, call me stupid, please go ahead and do it, but gay pride has not a single thing to do with Catholic values.

Pride in oneself, in ones abilities, are. To support against the marginalisation of LGBT people, is as well. The affirmation of the sin of pre-marital, same-sex sexual acts of any time, isn’t. You can argue that Pride isn’t about that. I’d listen to that argument too, and I wouldn’t say anything because I haven’t got a clue about what Pride is to begin with. I only know what I’ve experienced first-hand.

To be quite honest, one of my closest friends is homosexual. I’d support him in anything he did, help him along in school, take him in were he ever out of the house for some reason. However, he knows I will not be on board with, in any circumstances, a same-sex relationship, and he understands why. Education breeds understanding, as the progressive crowd likes to say.

What the group of students did here was approach the issue of LGBT rights from the modern, progressive, “common” angle. As Catholics, it’s quite important that we are familiar with our own faith and dis ain’t how it’s done.

It’s true that we live in a sex-obsessed culture, and on all sides of every political spectrum, it is the main choice of conversation as of these past few months. The pride parades that I’ve witnessed were a show of a few different things. The biggest aspect was the promotion of sex-based love, that however you choose to have a relationship, the most important thing was good sex and common sexual interests. I know for a damn sure fact that just like heterosexuals, homosexuals are no different: they need to be loved, and to love, and sex isn’t the main priority. I also know for sure that we can’t group people into two groups as homo/hetero-sexuals. This is the reductionist terminology that the Church warns us against.

L – lesbian, G – gay, B – bi, T – trans, and the rest of the LGBT alphabet of people have been denied the opportunity to be treated as individuals. A boy that is attracted to other boys is seen as a “gay”, and likewise the girl that is attracted to other girls as a “lesbian”, and a boy or girl that has an attraction to both sexes as a “bisexual.” From what I’ve seen first hand, especially in my age group, we are defined by our sexuality alone. What Tristian does is so gay, because he’s gay. What Aisleen does is even gayer, because she’s such a lesbian. It’s no longer about the beauty of Tristian’s personality, or Aisleen’s sense of humour.

That is the first error that I’ve seen at these parades. The reduction of men and women into three, two, or seven letter words. Their souls and individual personality are completely neglected. As Catholics, it is our duty and our joy to “love one another, as we love ourselves.” We wouldn’t want to be kicked out of our homes and thrown out into the streets for professing to be a Catholic by our parents, and in like manner, nor do boys and girls who are attracted to the same sex.

We must always remember that we are our own people, we all are created unique in the likeness and image of God. There is no “a” breed, “b” breed, “c” breed. We are different, yet united in faith and in humanity. What’s more amazing is that we are united in that Christ himself died so that we would sin no more – his sacrifice for our debts, because God loved us so very much. Yet here we are, going against His will in the name of “promoting Catholic values.”

The choice made by this high school to allow their Catholic school to be represented here is counter-productive, because it doesn’t promote the authentic message of Christianity. How? I just explained that to you. The authentic message is that God is love, and the Lord himself has said:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and thy whole soul and thy whole mind. This is the greatest of the commandments, and the first. And the second is this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

The regular idea of a Catholic school is to foster a great love of God, and love of neighbour, and knowledge of our faith. The catechism reads:

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfil God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

I know I might be preaching to the choir, but it’s important to talk about this from my perspective. I’m going into my last year of high school. If we loved our neighbour as ourself, it would pain us to see them fall into sin. If my friend, who I love as the best friend I have EVER had, were to fall into this sin I wouldn’t be seven seconds out the door to give him a hug and ask him to reconsider – talk to him genuinely, truthfully, ask him to help me understand, and for him to understand me. I’d do anything for to make him happy as he could be, and that trap of false happiness is an easy one. I’ve fallen into it, and do, on a regular basis.

I’m not sure who is to be blamed – the administration or the students. It’s the teacher who is supposed to promote a moral education – this isn’t happening. We need to say a big prayer for this High School – a daily, nightly, afternoonly prayer for the students and teachers of this otherwise exemplary institution. Have you seen their A-grades? I’m jealous!

Dear Lady of Knock, Queen of all Ireland, pray for us that have recourse to Thee – and pray for St Paul’s. We should offer up a sacrifice for all of Ireland both Northern and the republic. We cannot pray too much, it’s impossible so ya know.

 

The prose, I suppose

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give thine angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for thy love’s sake. Amen.

The above prayer comes from the Book of Common Prayer’s Compline service. Please don’t gasp that I’m quoting the Book of Common Prayer, but give me a minute to explain.

Falling asleep some nights proves itself no easier than swimming from Dublin to Norway. It takes the matchless prose such as above to get me over the torrential winds that anxiety sometimes is. However, that causes me to think: it’s not the prose, it’s the prayer. God has heard my cry, and he has come to my aid. O Lord, make haste to help me! Thy goodness like the sweet honey, and Thy mercy deeper than any ocean.

Some nights I’ll put on a tape of the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen to listen to his speeches and homilies. I understand my faith much more because of those half-hour “episodes.” I’m reminded of his description of Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. The Venerable Archbishop asked if we could go and create our mother, wouldn’t we make her as flawless and as perfect as any mother is? Wouldn’t we make her the most beautiful lady on earth? Such was God’s mother: for He came down to Earth through the spotless vessel that is the Blessed Mother. The sinless, immaculate Virgin he created, for he loved her before all Creation was made. Our Lady was in His design and plan since the beginning, and that is her vital role in the mystery of Salvation.

That’s a good and comforting thought.  If the younger generations today could receive a good catechism, a good lesson in religion, a lot of the anxieties and crosses that younger people bear today would become a much lighter load.

Now to conclude, let’s end with the scripture translation that I will review come noon. The Common English Bible sums up John 16, one of it’s more better translated spots:

 Thomas asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”