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Tuesday, 4 August 2015


American Catholics must begin to make serious choices concerning daily life. We are living in such evil times, satan is trying to destroy the Church, and we know we are in a crisis of Faith. Therefore, to pretend that life is the same as it was in our childhood must be a believing a lie which is one of the greatest victories of the great deceiver, satan.

None of us can be living as if we are not on the edge of one of the greatest persecutions coming to the Church across the Western world. 

No one likes to suffer, but we all who are living, will suffer, terribly. For years, I have written about the American desire for comfort only. I have written about the need for purification and purgation of all of our sins, predominant fault, and even concupiscence. 

Christ redeemed the world in suffering. We are all called, now. to some type of redemptive suffering.

If Catholics are not thinking of reparation for horrible sins, which we hear about daily in the media, and the great paganism, which has now has been accepted into law in our country, they are living a lie.

We need to help each other with reality therapy, and getting ready for all the things about which I have written on this blog and elsewhere.

We needed to make choices-to prepare spiritually, and perhaps, to prepare physically, for persecution.

We also need to learn prudence, to become more and more hidden, yet deep in our Faith.

I pray for all my readers to become saints. Pray for me to become a saint.

May I add that some souls cannot be won except by suffering, In the suffering to come, join with Christ in order to save souls.

Not Good

Some Very Good News

The Bad News Continues 2

Monday, 3 August 2015

And you still think he is a Catholic?

VIP Article--for all readers to read and consider

and another vip article

The Latino Priest Shortage in America

In 2015, only 14% of those men ordained are Latino. In my diocese alone, there are two Latino priests active in ministry, and in this state, there are 168,806 Latinos. Even if I divide this number by four, as there are four dioceses in this state. that means there could be 42,201 Latinos in this diocese.

This information can be found on this site.

The two priests here who are Latino include one who is near 6, or so, and a brand-new priest, who actually was from another state, another diocese, originally.

One must ask the question as to why there are so few men in the priesthood from Latino backgrounds.

Latinos make up 34% of the Catholics in this nation. One can immediately see the discrepancy in the statistics.

One may surmise that Latino children do not come into contact with Latino priests, because of the great shortage. One may surmise that the lack of Latino men finishing college is another problem, as a large number of the ordinands went to college before seminary finishing either a BA or higher degree. One could surmise that the number of ordinands with both parents Catholic, 94%, has something to do with the lack of the nurturing of a vocation.

Perhaps the greatest shock in statistics is the fact that less than half of the ordinands went to Catholic schools-49% of diocesan priests only going to elementary Catholic schools, only 43% going to Catholic high schools, and only 45% going to Catholic colleges. The statistics for religious priests is slightly higher in all categories than for secular, or diocesan priests.

The Catholic school system has failed in providing priests. One may ask why, but the fact that 34% of the Catholics in America are Latino and only 14% of this year's ordinands are Latino, must be a question addressed by all Catholics in America.

Georgetown has another interesting survey here.

Obviously, if there are less and less Latino priests, young boys and men will not meet Latino priests.

But, I do not think this is the problem. The problem is that Hispanic men do not go to college or finish college.

The problem is the lack of Latino men going on for higher education of any type of degree. America is only the 10th country in the world for graduation of students. 10th! And, about 11% of Hispanics (Latinos) graduate from college, even in 2014 with the vast majority of Hispanics graduating being Latinas, the women, not the men, leading the statistics. See the second chart.

In addition to the enrollment chart, one must know that Latinas graduate at a higher number than Latinos.

Here is one California statistic on graduating Hispanic men and women.

Men and women of the same race graduate at similar rates in the CSU system. The numbers fluctuate among men and women from separate races, according to a Campaign for College Opportunity study.

Of the four races discussed in the study, Latinos showed the largest percentage difference with 47 percent of women graduating compared to 39 percent of men. White women graduate at the highest rate at 61 percent, while only 55 percent of white men graduate.

The report also found that for every 100 Black women who graduate from a CSU, only 45 Black men do the same. Also, for every 100 Latina women that graduate, only 51 Latino men receive a degree.

These statistics will effect the number of men who go into the seminary or desire to go in. How dioceses can encourage young Latino men to go and to finish college may be part of the problem.

But, as 94% of the ordinands noted, both parents of this great majority are Catholic. Maybe this is the real issue. Something for dioceses to consider, as the lack of Latino priests will only exacerbate the problem.

Here is one diocese's statistics revealing the priest shortage, which is repeated in most places in America.

104, 300 Catholics, in an overall population of 784,000. 94 diocesan priests, and 3 religious priests.

1,075 Catholics per priest.

But, in England and Wales, there is one priest per 740 Catholics, but much less in the rural dioceses.

In the entire world, in 2012, there were 414,313 Catholic priests, total with an estimated 1.76 billion Catholics, including those most likely in China and Korea. You can do the math.

Why we should all be praying and encouraging young men to become priests.

"My Bible Passage" and Meditation for The Day

I think many of us, when we came to Christ, either as re-verts or converts, have a favorite Scripture passage which marked our life decision to follow Our Lord.

I have two. The first is from today's Gospel. God reminds me that I only have a few talents, like five loaves of bread and two fish, and nothing else. But, God, can and does multiple our talents, which He gave us in the first place, and feed many people, if we are willing to be humble.

The second "personal passage", which is the call of Matthew, shows me daily the need to consecrate myself to God over and over to do His Will without knowing exactly what that means.

I am amused when people ask me if I have a business plan for the house of prayer. The apostles and St. Paul had no business plans for spreading the Gospel. The key for them and for me must be complete dependence on Providence, working as hard as one can but realizing that God is the only one Who can do the seemingly impossible.

Matthew 14:13-21 Douay-Rheims

13 Which when Jesus had heard, he retired from thence by boat, into a desert place apart, and the multitudes having heard of it, followed him on foot out of the cities.

14 And he coming forth saw a great multitude, and had compassion on them, and healed their sick.

15 And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying: This is a desert place, and the hour is now past: send away the multitudes, that going into the towns, they may buy themselves victuals.

16 But Jesus said to them, They have no need to go: give you them to eat.

17 They answered him: We have not here, but five loaves, and two fishes.

18 He said to them: Bring them hither to me.

19 And when he had commanded the multitudes to sit down upon the grass, he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitudes.

20 And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up what remained, twelve full baskets of fragments.

21 And the number of them that did eat, was five thousand men, besides women and children.

Luke 5:27-32 Douay-Rheims

27 And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom, and he said to him: Follow me.

28 And leaving all things, he rose up and followed him.

29 And Levi made him a great feast in his own house; and there was a great company of publicans, and of others, that were at table with them.

30 But the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying to his disciples: Why do you eat and drink with publicans and sinners?

31 And Jesus answering, said to them: They that are whole, need not the physician: but they that are sick.

32 I came not to call the just, but sinners to penance.

And, one of my favorite saints is today:

St Oswald (c.604 - 642)

Saint Oswald was born at the very beginning of the 7th century. He was the youngest son of the pagan Ethelfrid, the first king of a united Northumbria. After his father’s death in battle, the young Oswald fled to Iona for safety and was baptised there and became a devoted Christian.
In 633 Oswald returned to Northumbria to regain his father’s kingdom. It was said that he set up a wooden cross as his standard and dedicated himself and his people to God’s protection before engaging himself in battle with the occupying Welsh King Cadwallon, not far from the present Hexham. He defeated and killed Cadwallon and at once invited the monks from Iona to begin the evangelisation of his kingdom which extended from the Forth to the Humber. After initial difficulties, the monk Aidan was sent to lead these Irish missionaries and Oswald found him to be both a valued adviser and a good friend. Oswald took seriously the work of bringing Christianity to his people and was even known to accompany Aidan on his missionary expeditions and to act as interpreter during the time Aidan was learning the language of the English. He was also well known both for his personal prayerfulness and his charity to those in need.
Sadly the reign of King Oswald lasted only eight years. In 642 he was killed in battle by Penda the pagan king of the Mercians. It was said that as he fell in death he was heard to pray for those who died with him. Oswald was a popular hero and his reputation as a saint was widespread even into mainland Europe.
Middlesbrough Ordo

Thoughts on Prayer

In this post, I look at two aspects of prayer. The first part is self-explanatory. The second revolves around understanding stigmatics.

Firstly, this post comes from a discussion I had with a friend on intercessory prayer. She is involved in doing reparation for members of her family who have fallen away from the Faith. As Christ told us, some prayer needs to be coupled with fasting, or, to extrapolate, other penances. My friend and I discussed how real prayer, entering into the spiritual world in order to do reparation, or intercede for others, is downright exhausting. (Actually, doing manual labor, such as laundry, or cleaning, or gardening, is a rest from intense prayer, and if one is doing this in silence, prayer continues, but at a lesser intensity.)

This is why scheduling and pacing prayer, as in the Benedictine day, an example given below, is so important. One needs breaks of other work, but one needs to keep up the prayer by pacing it throughout the day. This idea came from the genius of St. Benedict. Here is an example from a monastery in America.

Through the Day

Sunday Schedule

4:00 A.M. - Vigils (choral office in church) lasts about an hour and fifteen minutes.

6:00 A.M. - Lauds (in church) followed by breakfast for guests from 6:30 to 7:10 am in the monastic refectory.

8:45 A.M. - Terce (in church) lasts about 10 minutes.

9:15 A.M. - Conventual Mass (Eucharist) followed by refreshments in the Guest Reception Area.

11:30 A.M. - Sext (in church) lasts about ten minutes, followed by Light Meal in the monastic refectory, 11:45 to 12:30 P.M.

4:00 P.M. - None (in church) lasts about ten minutes, followed by Main Meal in the monastic refectory.

5:30 P.M. - Solemn Vespers and Benediction (in church) lasts about 45 minutes.

7:30 P.M. - Compline (in church) lasts about 15 minutes, followed by Nightly Silence.

Daily Schedule

4:00 A.M. - Vigils (choral office in church) lasts about one hour.

5:45 A.M. - Lauds (in church) lasts about thirty minutes, followed by Mass. Breakfast for guests in the Guest Breakfast Room from 7:00 - 7:45 A.M.

8:45 A.M. - Terce (in church) lasts about ten minutes.

9:00 A.M. - Work meeting for guests outside the Gift Shop. Work for All.

12:40 P.M. - End of work period.

1:00 P.M. - Sext (in church) lasts about ten minutes, followed by Main Meal in the monastic refectory.

3:30 P.M. - None (in church) lasts about ten minutes.

5:20 P.M. - Exposition and Eucharistic Adoration (in Church).

5:50 P.M. - Vespers (in church) lasts about thirty minutes.

6:20 P.M. - Light Meal until 6:50 P.M. in the monastic refectory.

7:30 P.M. - Compline (in church) lasts about fifteen minutes, followed by Nightly Silence.

Most nights, I try to be in bed by half-past nine so that I can get up early, or as God asks, very early, like three or four, to pray intercessory prayers for certain people

Real prayer is not merely saying words or sitting in silence. although that can be part of the day.

Intercessory prayer reminds me of a wrestling match. One enters into prayer knowing that God asks for suffering for those for whom one prays. Intercessory prayer can be very tiring.

My friend recalled prayer times when she was drained. Sometimes, if God wants a concentration of prayer, He will allow her to become ill with severe arthritis, so that she cannot do anything for three days but pray.

Last week, when I had that histamine reaction, God wanted me to stop doing things, including talking, and be quiet in intercessory prayer. I had become too busy.

The prayer of quiet demands attention and focusing. I compare it to the August chorus of birds in the early morning, now about five.

Early in the summer, in late May, early June, the chorus resounds with the songs of hundreds of birds, starting about half-past three in the morning. Now, in late summer, the songs of a few birds, a cardinal or two, a few robins, sing in a schola rather than in a chorale. But, these animals focus on their songs, intent on praising God, as they do at this time of year. This focusing only lasts a short time, Then, these birds rest, do a few "chores", fly about, and rest again, eating as well in between singing. But, the morning chorus only happens once a day, a focusing of song.

Birds sing all day, but at times, their song is more intense than at other times.

So, too, with some intercessory prayer, which can be a real struggle. And, what those who do not understand the contemplative life do not know, is that even encounters with God can be exhausting.

Again, I refer to the limp of Jacob.

Why a contemplative does not "work" in the world is that he IS working, on the threshold of the spiritual world, praising God, interceding, listening.

This takes time and energy.

Secondly, some people with whom I have spoken, do not understand the life of the stigmatic.

The stigmatic has crossed over the threshold of the spiritual world because Christ has invited them to be one with Him in His Passion. Those who do accept these graces of complete union in the physical suffering of Christ mirror what the contemplative experiences spiritually, without the signs and physical suffering at this level of intense pain. The stigmata is a great gift of love.

The stigmatic intercedes when in union with Christ, carrying on, as St. Paul noted, the sufferings of Christ in this world. Such special souls allow their bodies to be one with Christ, for a day, or longer. The example of Padre Pio, Francis of Assisi, (the first recorded stigmatic), Marthe Robin, and many others provides an example of intense intercessory prayer of love.

They become one with Christ in love, not only for the Savior, but for those for whom they suffer in intercession.

I am astounded when Catholics think that the life of the contemplative nun or monk or priest or lay person is an easy life, without work. Prayer is work. And, it can be exhausting, as my friend said.

Those who only value work which is physical and has monetary reward simply do not understand the ways of God in deep prayer.

The stigmatic teaches us the extreme of the loving union of those who intercede for us daily.

UPDATE: After I wrote this post, I checked my e-mail, and lo and behold--synchronicity.

Here is the note:

Prayer Takes Effort by The Hermit

I may be wrong but I think nothing needs so much effort as prayer to God. If anyone wants to pray, the demons try to interrupt the prayer, for they know that prayer is the only thing that hinders them. All the other efforts in a religious life, whether they are made vehemently or gently, have room for a measure of rest. But we need to pray till our dying breath. That is the great struggle. ~Sr. Benedicta Ward, SLG; The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks


Bishop Rosario Pio Ramolo, of the diocese of GorĂ© in the south of Chad, said that in the last few months “attacks have multiplied in Chad, causing the more than seventy deaths and two hundred wounded.” The violence has occurred mainly in the capital N’Djamena and in the areas bordering Nigeria.

and right here at home...

The next blast came from a trash can outside Holy Cross Catholic at about 8:40 a.m. as Monsignor John Anderson was helping pass Communion.

"I was right in the middle of saying the words 'take and eat, this is my body,' and there was a pow! I mean, I knew it had to be more than a gunshot," Anderson told the Las Cruces Sun-News newspaper ( "I didn't know if it was a shotgun blast, I didn't know what. But it was very loud, and I just kept on saying the words."

and here more...

From St. Catherine

God the Father spoke to Catherine of Siena and this selection from the Dialogue seems particularly poignant for today. I do not think any commentary is necessary.

How sin is more gravely punished after the Passion of Christ than before; and how God promises to do mercy to the world, and to the Holy Church, by means of the prayers and sufferings of His servants.

"And I wish you to know, My daughter, that, although I have re-created and restored to the life of grace, the human race, through the Blood of My only-begotten Son, as I have said, men are not grateful, but, going from bad to worse, and from guilt to guilt, even persecuting Me with many injuries, taking so little account of the graces which I have given them, and continue to give them, that, not only do they not attribute what they have received to grace, but seem to themselves on occasion to receive injuries from Me, as if I desired anything else than their sanctification.

"I say to you that they will be more hard-hearted, and worthy of more punishment, and will, indeed, be punished more severely, now that they have received redemption in the Blood of My Son, than they would have been before that redemption took place -- that is, before the stain of Adam's sin had been taken away. It is right that he who receives more should render more, and should be under great obligations to Him from whom he receives more.

"Man, then, was closely bound to Me through his being which I have given him, creating him in My own image and similitude; for which reason, he was bound to render Me glory, but he deprived Me of it, and wished to give it to himself. Thus he came to transgress My obedience imposed on him, and became My enemy. And I, with My humility, destroyed his pride, humiliating the divine nature, and taking your humanity, and, freeing you from the service of the devil, I made you free. And, not only did I give you liberty, but, if you examine, you will see that man has become God, and God has become man, through the union of the divine with the human nature. This is the debt which they have incurred -- that is to say, the treasure of the Blood, by which they have been procreated to grace. See, therefore, how much more they owe after the redemption than before. For they are now obliged to render Me glory and praise by following in the steps of My Incarnate Word, My only-begotten Son, for then they repay Me the debt of love both of Myself and of their neighbor, with true and genuine virtue, as I have said to you above, and if they do not do it, the greater their debt, the greater will be the offense they fall into, and therefore, by divine justice, the greater their suffering in eternal damnation.

"A false Christian is punished more than a pagan, and the deathless fire of divine justice consumes him more, that is, afflicts him more, and, in his affliction, he feels himself being consumed by the worm of conscience, though, in truth, he is not consumed, because the damned do not lose their being through any torment which they receive. Wherefore I say to you, that they ask for death and cannot have it, for they cannot lose their being; the existence of grace they lose, through their fault, but not their natural existence. Therefore guilt is more gravely punished after the Redemption of the Blood than before, because man received more; but sinners neither seem to perceive this, nor to pay any attention to their own sins, and so become My enemies, though I have reconciled them, by means of the Blood of My Son. But there is a remedy with which I appease My wrath -- that is to say, by means of My servants, if they are jealous to constrain Me by their desire. You see, therefore, that you have bound Me with this bond which I have given you, because I wished to do mercy to the world. "Therefore I give My servants hunger and desire for My honor, and the salvation of souls, so that, constrained by their tears, I may mitigate the fury of My divine justice. Take, therefore, your tears and your sweat, drawn from the fountain of My divine love, and, with them, wash the face of My spouse.

"I promise you, that, by this means, her beauty will be restored to her, not by the knife nor by cruelty, but peacefully, by humble and continued prayer, by the sweat and the tears shed by the fiery desire of My servants, and thus will I fulfill your desire if you, on your part, endure much, casting the light of your patience into the darkness of perverse man, not fearing the world's persecutions, for I will protect you, and My Providence shall never fail you in the slightest need."

What I Am Reading

right now, and what I can recommend highly:

Complete Works Of Elizabeth Of The Trinity, Volume 1: Major Spiritual Writings; ICS Publications: 1984

Complete Works Of Elizabeth Of The Trinity, Volume II: Letters from Carmel; ICS Publications: 1995

Command Culture: Officer Education in the U.S. Army and the German Armed Forces, 1901-1940, and the Consequences for World War II by Jorg Muth; Denton: University of North Texas Press: 2011

The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena (Again....) Tan Classics: 2010

The Virtue of Trust (Again...): Paul de Jaegher; London: Burns, Oates and Washbourne Ltd.: 1932

I am waiting for this one from a friend--

Total Resistance: H. Von Dach; Snowball Publishing: 2010

....and I am also waiting for

 Mediterranean Diet Cookbook For Dummies: Meri Raffetto

....and for sanity, I am about to read, for the umpteenth time,

Lord of the World.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

No Hands But Yours

I do not think many Catholics actually believe what Christ said about His own homelessness. Why was He homeless? Not merely by choice, but because those around Him at home thought He was mad, or wrong, or a great sinner, to be so poor and wandering about sharing the Good News. I do not think most Catholics understand what Our Lord really meant--that He had no place. Rome did not give to the poor. The Jews were supposed to do so by the words of the Law and the Prophets. But, apparently, in the time of Jesus, charity had been forgotten.

And Jesus saith to him: The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests: but the son of man hath not where to lay his head. Matthew 8:20

What saves us? The question should be "Who saves us?"  However, I am returning to a theme upon which I mused a few months ago that politics do not save us.

More and more I am realizing how many Catholics look to political leaders, instead of to God, for salvation. "Born Catholic. Baptized Democrat." This phrase is not just a clever assessment of the blindness so many voters have, about both parties, by the way, but the fact that religious beliefs take a secondary priority to party platforms.

Worse than that is the cult of personality, which has led over and over again to tyrannies of various types, facist and communist.

The sign of a Catholic falling into the heresy that politics and governments save must be the gross sin of the lack of charity to one's neighbor, because, of course, there is always a government program.

There is not always a government program.

Years ago, when I was fired for having cancer and complications from the operation, (yes, and I was not the only one fired from this institution for having cancer),  I discovered there was no program for unemployment as that institution did not have to pay into unemployment programs. Also, the town and county where I lived had run out of housing money, (I was paying rent at the time), and there was no backup except a federal emergency program which only paid for two months. Food stamps had to be applied for and I still had a son at home, who was a student. I still had to wait months for a food stamp card.

No money for rent after two months, no money for food.

Thankfully, during the five months of begging and getting help from one generous co-worker, who had witnessed the firing of cancer patients in the past at our place of work, we managed to get by until I found another job, which was part-time only, and in another state.

Some people wanted me to sue the institution, as the administration illegally broke a signed contract. I could not, as it was a Catholic institution, and my conscience would not allow me to sue something associated with the Church, no matter how corrupt.

There is not always a program.

Governments and politics do not save people or bring us to heaven. Charitable acts done out of selflessness do bring up closer to God, and our duty as Christians demands such charity. May God always bless that one woman who helped us at a critical time.

The ancient Catholic Church could not rely on Nero for food stamps or housing. If someone was being persecuted for being a Catholic, the community stepped in.

Sadly, these days are gone in most communities.

I have called this the attitude of the Middle Class Church. Those who have never been in want simply push off the cries of the poor to the governments. But, guess what? There is not always a program.

Catholics accept the brainwashing of the socialist agenda to make people dependent on the government. This creates an underclass which is similar to slavery.

I know of a good person who ended up literally living under a bridge because he had a nervous breakdown and had no family support. He had a higher degree but no one wanted to help him. His best friends became drug addicts and the homeless, many, who like him, could not find a program.

What saves us? Who saves us?

Christ, and we are Christ in the world. Will Catholics step in when governments completely fail the poor, which will happen, as there will be too many of the poor?

From St. Teresa of Avila:

Christ Has No Body

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Christianus alter Christus Among The Boxes

As I sit in a little room surrounded by boxes packed and half-packed, putting things back into storage I so happily took out and rediscovered a mere few weeks ago, I am reminded that I am still in the night of the soul. This process is extremely painful for me. It is not that the things represent me, but that the lack of permanency brings purgatory onto this patch of earth.

This night may be years as a journey, as I am not as generous or intelligent as St. John of the Cross, who seems to have gone through both the dark night of the senses and the dark night of the spirit in about nine months.

Some saints take longer to make this climb to illumination than others, which is my hope. My hope is in the Lord, Who went before me into darkness, the darkness of death in His Passion. This night of the soul is no different than that Passion, except in the smallness of my heart and soul, I cannot become another Christ, without His great help.

In the night of the senses, all joy in physical human things and persons eludes one. In the night of the senses, one is in purgatory on earth. Unless God helps one become another Christ, one remains mediocre. Unless one yields to the pain of purgation, one does not enter heaven or perceive Christ's great love.

But, what I am really experiencing is Christ suffering in and through me and His Sacrifice purifies me as He joins His suffering with me. I have to let Him suffer in and through me. This is my salvation.

No one can compare one's sufferings with another's, Suffering is not quantifiable. One can only rejoice in one's own weaknesses and insignificance, as St. Therese of Lisieux wrote. To become nothing is to let Christ become all, and then, and only then, does the Christian become Christ in the world, Christianus alter Christus.

These boxes remind me of failures, itineracy, the lack of stable prayer times, the lack of family and even permanent communal support necessary to live in the heart of any community. Always, I end up like a ship passing through, (yes, with many friends waving on the shore), but only to leave again, not even knowing to where the tide will take me.

The night of the senses has left me with practically nothing on which to rely, which is the whole point of this dark night. The night of the spirit leads to a more ruthless purging of even gifts, which are not allowed to be used, or deep loves, which cannot be expressed. The only thing left is the longing for Christ, as the bride seeks the Bridegroom until He is willing to be found.

Distant are the moments of love and trust, as I sit surrounded by boxes of books, clothes, and papers The chapel has been taken down weeks ago, and the remnants of it put away, with only one large icon and one statue left on, yes, a box, and a dresser.

But, God is Creativity. When St. Benedict Labre was not allowed to join a community, he created, with the Holy Spirit, his own way to God, pilgrimaging throughout Europe, until he got to Rome and collapsed, dying at the young age of 35. He is a patron of the homeless, beggars, and the mentally ill. He is a one-of-a-kind saint. I do not believe he was mentally ill, but found joy in the humility of being misunderstood by those who did not and still, do not, understand the fool for Christ. A great sign of humility is the ability to rejoice in being misunderstood.

Those who want to follow Christ do so in many different ways, and, it is not one's own way, but God's way. What the world needs is known to God, not to us. We can imagine, in the narcissism of our gifts and talents what we think the world needs, but God has other ideas. God fashions us to be saints according to His ideal, not one's own.

Three people experienced this dark night of the spirit in Scripture, and we have their words.

The most obvious is Job, who lost everything in the dark night of the senses, and then was misunderstood and falsely reprimanded by friends in his dark night of the spirit, when God seemed far away, indeed. Job had to come to complete trust in God, complete surrender, and God dealt with those who tried to put Job into their own boxes of what holiness should look like.

Job 42 Douay-Rheims 

42 Then Job answered the Lord, and said:

2 I know that thou canst do all things, and no thought is hid from thee.

3 Who is this that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have spoken unwisely, and things that above measure exceeded my knowledge.

4 Hear, and I will speak: I will ask thee, and do thou tell me.

5 With the hearing of the ear, I have heard thee, but now my eye seeth thee.

6 Therefore I reprehend myself, and do penance in dust and ashes.

The second person who one sees in the dark night of the spirit is the bride in the Song of Songs.

Song of Solomon 3 Douay-Rheims 

3 In my bed by night I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, and found him not.

2 I will rise, and will go about the city: in the streets and the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, and I found him not.

3 The watchmen who keep the city, found me: Have you seen him, whom my soul loveth?

She had experienced love, but lost the first flames of consolation. Therefore, she must look for Love, Who hides from her until she is ready to find Him. She must seek the Beloved until He lets her find out where He really is.

The third person one can identify as in the dark night of the spirit is St. Paul. His conversion brought him into the dark night of the senses, literally, as he was temporarily blinded for three days, in keeping with Christ's three days in the tomb. But, after his cure, Paul went into the desert, to Mt. Sinai, for as long as ten years, and later wrote this in Galatians 4:

22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, and the other by a free woman.

23 But he who was of the bondwoman, was born according to the flesh: but he of the free woman, was by promise.

24 Which things are said by an allegory. For these are the two testaments. The one from mount Sinai, engendering unto bondage; which is Agar:

25 For Sina is a mountain in Arabia, which hath affinity to that Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

26 But that Jerusalem, which is above, is free: which is our mother.

27 For it is written: Rejoice, thou barren, that bearest not: break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband.

28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.

29 But as then he, that was born according to the flesh, persecuted him that was after the spirit; so also it is now.

30 But what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son; for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman.

31 So then, brethren, we are not the children of the bondwoman, but of the free: by the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free.

Now, Hagar represents the flesh, Sarah's bad will, and Ishmael the child of the flesh, while Sarah represents the spirit, when she trusted God, and Isaac the child of the spirit. St. Paul went into Arabia, to Mt. Sinai, the place of Moses' reception of the Law. This was no accident

There, St. Paul learned, through the long purification of his soul, the difference between living by the Law and living in the Spirit. This is exactly what he preached with such clarity, and he learned it the hard way, as so many of us do, by enduring purgation of sin, and the destruction of the predominant fault. Then, God allowed Himself to be found. In this finding, Paul experienced great freedom. He is the theologian of this freedom. Isaac represents the covenant of love, and the New Jerusalem, not the old, which was destroyed in 70 A.D., --the old represents the lack of covenant love. St. Paul in the desert moved from this purgation of his soul to illumination, about which he wrote later. This is a true description of a man who has moved out of purgation, out of both dark nights, into the illumination state, and then union.

2 Corinthians 12 Douay-Rheims 

12 If I must glory (it is not expedient indeed), but I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.

2 I know a man in Christ above fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I know not, or out of the body, I know not; God knoweth), such a one caught up to the third heaven.

3 And I know such a man (whether in the body, or out of the body, I know not: God knoweth),

4 That he was caught up into paradise, and heard secret words, which it is not granted to man to utter.

5 For such an one I will glory; but for myself I will glory nothing, but in my infirmities.

6 For though I should have a mind to glory, I shall not be foolish; for I will say the truth. But I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth in me, or any thing he heareth from me.

7 And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me.

8 For which thing thrice I besought the Lord, that it might depart from me.

9 And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee; for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

10 For which cause I please myself in my infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ. For when I am weak, then am I powerful.

11 I am become foolish: you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you: for I have no way come short of them that are above measure apostles, although I be nothing.

12 Yet the signs of my apostleship have been wrought on you, in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

And, yet, God allowed him to suffer something which was painful. What form this infirmity took does not matter, But, like the limp of Jacob, this physical suffering remained a sign of St. Paul's encounter with God. One is wounded when one encounters God, never to be the same again. When one wrestles with God for the blessing of illumination and union, one is wounded. One must be.

That St. Paul's night of the spirit may have lasted ten years gives me hope, for he is a great saint, and I shall be content with being a little saint. However, what St. Benedict Labre knew, and what St. Paul knew, and what Job learned, and what the bride learned is that some of us cannot be anything but extreme-either extremely good or extremely bad. God took them to the edge, and there, they found Him.

Such is the lesson I learn in my box-room. God literally boxes me in so that I have to face my own sin and imperfections in order to make my small heart larger so that He can reside there comfortably. This box-room is on the edge of new life, like a dry oasis, a mirage, of something greater to come.

This little prison of transience, shows me again and again, that this world passes, is temporary, but that God's life is eternal.

I knew as a young person that I loved the things of this world too dearly-nature, music, people, animals, even God's own presence in the things He created. I walked in love. I always experienced things deeply. People noticed this. I loved love. To be weaned from such a love of creation, which is overwhelming, and the love which comes from the sensitivities of a thinker, a writer, a poet and a painter, I have had to be draw into the ugliness of nothingness in order to see the God Within. My God is the God of the Passion, the God of the desert.

He is here, among the boxes and detritus of my life, waiting, while He takes me through this stage of the dark night.

Father Ripperger reminds us all in his talks that few people realize that they are far from true holiness. Today, as I move into a smaller and smaller place to walk and even write, I am aware of this need to be violently honest with the self in order to move on. The walk is not over, but I am on the way...

The one persistent myth which has spoken to me has been that of Psyche, who had Love, the god of love, and lost him through disobedience and a lack of trust, only to have to endure the punishments and trials of Aphrodite, who was jealous of her, but also to prove Love that she, Psyche, could love. Because of her journey and persistence to find love, Psyche was allowed to become a goddess herself. Psyche means soul, and this tale is very much like the journey of the dark night of the spirit, where impossible trials are overcome with both grace and determination, in an atmosphere of the complete lack of consolation. One keeps walking. One does not give up seeking Love.

The immortal soul must find love and live in love. Love has a name, Jesus Christ. But, one must suffer.

This is my hope..that Christ allows me to suffer in and with Him, and in this suffering, I shall find Him, as He is here among the boxes.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

This Sermon Deserves A Large Audience

Thoughts on A Thursday on A Saturday

 Repeat from another blog from Thursday, 3 July 2014

Thoughts on A Thursday from A Guild Member

Years ago, the woman who stood up in my wedding as matron of honor told me to “transcend difficulties”. I had to do this, as circumstances forced me to do so.  This great lady was almost my mother’s age, but a good friend of mine. She had been raised in India, in the Raj. Her father died early. Then, she and her mother came back to London to live. She had to leave her mom and live on a farm, as she was young enough to be sent out of harm’s way during the Blitz of London. Later, she married a wonderful man, but only had two children.

She and her husband took care of her mother until that old woman died. Her mother never learned to cook, or sew, or clean, as when she grew up, she had seventeen servants and lived in the luxury of the English in India. My friend had to pay for all her mother’s many needs.  As a person with many hardships to bear, my friend knew how to “transcend” trials. She was “self-possessed”; that is, she had control over her emotions, mind, soul. She was a peaceful woman. Another friend of mine is the same way. She is in her nineties and had an extremely hard life, living with a husband who was ill all their married life. She, too, was and is, “self-possessed”, able to transcend all types of difficulties.

This type of transcendence and self-control only comes with humility and prayer. There is a reality about people who live transcendently. Garrigou-Lagrange writes that we must become closer to God daily in simplicity of heart, “…without which there can be no contemplation of God and no true love.”

What does he mean by this? The death of the ego is the beginning of this emptying of the heart. Egotism must go, must, as I have written many times on this blog.

If we are “too full of ourselves”, there is no room for God. We must not desire attention, or fame, or status, or riches. We must find contentment in what is given to us. We must transcend the trials put on our paths. We need to meditate, and then, to contemplate.

Contemplation is not meditation, again, as I have noted on this blog. Contemplation, whether active, or passive, demands focusing on God Himself, and not on ourselves.

Do we think of ourselves and our problem before Christ in Adoration, or do we immerse ourselves in Him? Do we come with the proverbial laundry list of prayers, or do we just, like Mary of Bethany, sit in His Presence?

Purity of heart, mind, and soul comes with a combination of prayer and sheer gift. Some great saints have these gifts early. Most of us must walk the road of travail and suffering to get to such purity.  We must choose mortification, however, as the given trials may not be enough.

We may not become great saints, few of us will be Padre Pios or Mother Teresas. However, all of us are called to be saints and that means we are all called to purification and perfection.

It is rather ironic that I always  think and sometimes write that “this is my last post on perfection” but I can now see that as I learn and grow, taking the long road through suffering and dying to self.  May God be patient with me. Let me return to Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

My favorite photo of Mother Teresa is not one of her with her beloved dying, or with St. John Paul II, but one of her alone in prayer. Like all saints, like Christ, she needed to be alone with God. Sister Agnes, her helper, said once,“Every day we have Mass, half an hour of meditation, morning prayer, afternoon prayer, and in the evening we have a full hour of Adoration. It would not be possible to work otherwise. There must be a spiritual motive. You can work only for God. You can never work for any man.”

Mother Teresa said, “That is why we begin and end the day with prayer, because, when we pray, we are touching the body of Christ.  You people in the world might not have the time or leisure to pray. It is a beautiful gift of God for us to have that amount of time.”

We must make time. We must.

Mother Teresa also said, “I am not afraid to say I am in love with Jesus because He is everything to me.”

For all Catholics, our work should be for Jesus, and He can be All in All.

Here is the voice of a simple heart. Mother Teresa states that chastity is “undivided love”, that poverty is “freedom”, that total surrender is “obedience”.

“If I belong to God, if I belong to Christ, then He must be able to use me. That is obedience. ….If you really belong to the work that has been entrusted to you, then you must do it with your whole heart.  And you can bring salvation only by being honest and by really working with God. It is not how much we are doing, but how much love, how much honesty, how much faith, is put into doing it. It makes no difference what we are doing. What you are doing, I cannot do, and what I am doing, you cannot do. But all of us are doing what God have given us to do. ….”

And, I love Mother Teresa for saying this-as I have experienced the disrespect which comes to the poor, even from priests, sadly.

“The poor are not respected. People do not think that the poor can be treated as people who are lovable, as people like you and I. You know, the young are beginning to understand. They want to serve with their hands. And to love with their hearts. To the full, not superficially.”

I believe this as I believe that in the remnant will be many young people who have sought and found love.

And, Mother Teresa’s comment about doing the work God has called us to do is also a call to humility. Sometimes people want desperately to do something big for God. But, sometimes, we are called to do something small for God.

I blog. I pray. I do dishes, clean, do laundry, make coffee, take walks. Nothing grand in all of this… but more than that, I love. I am learning daily to live in love, to choose love, to walk, clean, make coffee in love. I blog in love, as that is what God wants me to do right now.

There is nothing to do but to love.

Some of us learn this by loving and being loved by another. Some of us learn this directly from Jesus, the Bridegroom. Either way, love hurts.

“True love hurts. It always has to hurt. It must be painful to love someone, painful to leave them, you might have to die for them. ….A young American couple told me once, ‘You know a lot about love; you must be married.’ And I said, Yes, but sometimes I find it difficult to smile at Him.”


There is a Doctors of the Church series on this blog.

On a particular doctor's day, just follow the tags.

Not reading mystical books

Both the great St. Teresa of Avila, and Saint Veronica Giuliani warn against the reading of mystical books. A priest told me years ago that it was dangerous for someone to read mystical writings on prayer as one could very easily think one is holier, more advanced that one actually is.

This advice proves to be ignored by the vast majority of Catholic women who think they can skip to contemplation, a point I have made on this blog many times, without developing meditation and without going through the levels of purification in the Dark Night.

My own unpacking of mystical texts has been mostly from the viewpoint of a teacher trying to slow people down by showing the great difficulties of each level of prayer. I myself, am a beginner.

To imagine one is holier and more advanced than one really is actually prevents one from growing in holiness. And, the real litmus test remains very simple. Is one actually loving as Christ loves? I would add, is one living the evangelical counsels as much as possible in the world?

Again, I have written many times on "middle-class" spirituality-that mind-set which many Catholic women adopt by wanting to be saints without suffering. They want all the consolations of life, no suffering, and yet, all the goodies God wants to give them.

I am reminded of a vision I had in England in 2011. I was frustrated by the lack of orthodoxy in a particular charismatic group, which, at that time, included some friends of mine. In this vision, I saw Christ on the Cross, suffering, with copious amounts of blood dripping from His wounds. His agony was occurring in a typical English field, not on Calvary. Strewn all over this field, and under His Cross, where thousands of those candies called Smarties. Charismatics were bending over picking up the Smarties instead of looking at Christ on the Cross.

I shared this with someone who acted almost immediately, left Charismatic prayer groups, knowing this was true-people wanted candy from God and not suffering, consolation and not the Cross.

One reason I used Garrigou-Lagrange in my long perfection series was that he presented the levels of prayer and the way to holiness rationally, and avoided, like a good teacher, falling into subjectivity.

His emphasis on purification and suffering can be found in the lectures of Father Chad Ripperger online, a priest who has told his audiences that most people have not even begun to follow the path of holiness and that most people think they are holier than they really are.

I began to read the mystics in my late twenties, and put St. Teresa back on the shelf, as I realized the danger of thinking I was making more progress than I really was. Then, the wise priest cautioned me and others not to get ahead of reality.

But, the real step in the right direction for me has been much suffering and the acceptance of that suffering, both physical and spiritual. Once one is pulled into the Dark Night, one knows where one actually is, and that is a good thing. If a person does not want to suffer that purification, he or she will fall back into the "candy seeking" stage again and again.

We do not have time for this waffling back and forth. We do not have time to look for Smarties, or read books beyond our ken.

The book which saved me from thinking I was holier than I was had to be The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence which I highlighted in the Framing Prayer series last month.
Such simplicity keeps one rooted in reality.

Again, taking up the holy priest and Fr. Ripperger's warnings about not thinking one is holier than one is, I caution readers not to read or study too much mysticism without truly, truly the daily examen of sin explained also in the Framing Prayer series.

Go back and look seriously at the levels of prayer from Garrigou-Lagrange in the long perfection series, and be honest about what level one finds one resting in.

Becoming holy is a full-time response to God's graces. The real key is saying yes to suffering, willing suffering and purification.

But, remember my most constant warning, one cannot become holy without first being completely orthodox in all things. One must conform one's mind to the teachings of the Church, all the teachings, before stepping on the ladder of the levels of prayer.

Without orthodoxy, there is no sanctity.

More later...

St. Veronica Giuliani's Trip to Hell

One day the devil showed her a vision of hell. “It seems that the tempter showed my soul hell being opened, and that in fact he had placed it (her soul) in it, and that only a small push was needed to cast it inside. It seemed then that I heard screams and voices of lamentation from the damned. I only saw infernal monsters, many serpents, many ferocious animals, and an infernal stench and extremely hot flames, which were so big that their height could not be measured. I could only compare it to the distance between heaven and earth. As far as the size of the place, one could not see the beginning or the end. You could hear many blasphemies and curses against God. How sad. What torment this caused my soul.”
She was shown hell once more: “At that moment I was once again shown hell opened; and it seemed many souls descended there, they were so ugly and black that they struck terror in me. They all dropped down in a rush, one after the other, and once they had entered those chasms there was nothing to be seen but fire and flames.” This vision led Veronica to offer herself as a victim of Divine Justice: “My Lord, I offer myself to stand here as a doorway, so that no one may enter down there and lose You.” Then she stretched out her arms and said, “As long as I stand in this doorway, no one shall enter. O souls, go back! My God, I ask nothing else of You but the salvation of sinners. Send me more pains, more torments, more crosses!”

The Blessed Virgin Mary speaking to Veronica about her trips to hell told her, “When you were going around hell, you came across torments and tormentors at every step; but that time when you went by the seat of Lucifer, you were terrified at seeing so many souls were on the seat of Lucifer himself. This is in the center of hell and is seen by all the damned, by all the devils, and this sight causes all of them great suffering. I also let you know that, in the same way that the sight of God in Paradise constitutes Paradise itself; down there in hell, the sight of Lucifer is what constitutes hell.”

The Blessed Virgin Mary also told her, “Many do not believe that hell exists, and I tell you yourself, who have been there, have understood nothing of what hell is.”

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