Reflections on loving God, being Catholic, being a woman, being ill, loving life and anything else that comes to mind.

Friday, November 18, 2011

New Project

I have been working on a new project, Ten Righteous Men. I have been praying and asking some of my friends what I could do to help our country. The blog is the answer to those prayers, at least thus far. It's based on Genesis 18: 17-33:

The LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by him? No, for I have chosen him, that he may charge his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice; so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him." Then the LORD said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomor'rah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry which has come to me; and if not, I will know." So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom; but Abraham still stood before the LORD. Then Abraham drew near, and said, "Wilt thou indeed destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; wilt thou then destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" And the LORD said, "If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake." Abraham answered, "Behold, I have taken upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Wilt thou destroy the whole city for lack of five?" And he said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there." Again he spoke to him, and said, "Suppose forty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of forty I will not do it." Then he said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there." He answered, "I will not do it, if I find thirty there." He said, "Behold, I have taken upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it." Then he said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there." He answered, "For the sake of ten I will not destroy it." And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.
 We are so focused on ourselves. Recently I asked several acquaintances & friends if they had experienced miracles & all had but all the miracles were personal miracles. There were no miracles of conversion, no miracles of healing others, no miracles of feeding others. All their stories of miracles focused on what God had done for each of them. Some spoke of praying for a year or more before receiving their miracles but God came through. It makes me wonder, what if we put all that prayer & desire into converting those who don't know Christ? What if we prayed & sacrificed & fasted on behalf of our brothers & sisters who suffer from attraction to persons of the same sex & ask Christ to help them carry their cross, ask Him to show us how to be Simon of Cyrene for them? What if we prayed for the healing of nations? There is so much corruption, beginning w/ our own country, & so few to come together & pray, fast & sacrifice. What if we began by praying for God to heal our nation & then focus on every nation on earth until corruption was gone?

Is God limited to giving us such things as new cars & the right job & clothing & spouses? Is this not the God who can & does do everything? He has created everything, constricted Himself into human form, lived w/ us & died to save us. He overcame death itself & rose to life again. In the early Church, there were thousands baptized everyday. There were miracles of healing, miracles of peace - personally & within nations. Why do we behave as if our God has become impotent? Why are we not praying & fasting & sacrificing miracles into existence? Particularly the miracles Christ commanded us to ask for?

These are the questions I have been asking myself & this is the reason that for the next year, I shall be devoting most of my blogging energy to Ten Righteous Men. I've always been stupid, a fool. I believe in miracles; God is absolutely real to me. So we'll see what happens in one year. I'm seeking ways to fast & sacrifice even though I'm ill. I won't be sharing most those sacrifices because such things ought not be broadcast but perhaps from time to time, I'll offer some examples. I do invite you to join me, leave comments. suggest intercessions, suggest whatever God brings to mind. In a year's time, let God find at least ten righteous men, perhaps He will spare us & perhaps we will see Him do greater works than we ever imagined. God bless.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Issue Is Sin (Part 2)

We The Whipped (Part 2)
Posted by Ann Barnhardt - November 12, AD 2011 11:02 PM MST

Jefferson, and the rest of the Founders, knew that they had a choice laid out before them. They could either revolt against tyranny or surrender to it. We are facing exactly the same choice right now, except that the tyranny that we are now facing is far, far worse than anything Jefferson and the Founders were facing. King George never tried to tax the Colonists on their mere existence, as ObamaCare does. King George never tried to force the Colonists to embrace and celebrate sexual perversion. King George never tried to force the Colonists to pay for and even participate in abortion. King George never attempted to import and establish the satanic scourge of islam in the Colonies.

We are so far past and beyond the “long train of abuses and usurpations” that the Colonists and Founders experienced and which necessitated the Revolutionary War that they aren’t even visible in the rear-view mirror. I dare say that being a Colonist in 1775 did not, by definition, break eight of the Ten Commandments or put a person is a probable state of mortal sin.

And so back to the core premise: the government can’t make you do anything. There is always an alternative, and at a certain point, the alternative of non-compliance is not only available, it is REQUIRED. Read the Declaration:

“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
It is our right and our DUTY to throw off this government. It is not legitimate and does not possess the consent of the governed, and thus has NO AUTHORITY. This is not to say that this government does not have power – yes it still does have power, but it has NO AUTHORITY. At this point, the only way it can continue to operate is by means of violent coercion, namely property confiscation, imprisonment and execution. This is YOUR country: thieving, murdering criminals running utterly amok, holding their power only through violent coercion and the threat of violent coercion. And it could all be brought to a screeching halt tomorrow if We The People would just turn that intellectual corner and realize that the unjust laws of an illegitimate government need not and should not be followed. They have no power over us. We have power over them, because they derive their JUST powers from the consent of the governed. Withdraw the consent, and the power is gone. Anything remaining is therefore, by definition, UNJUST, and thus must be “abolished” and “thrown off”, to use Jefferson’s words.

Of course you can own and carry a gun. You have the God-given right to your life, and the right to protect yourself, your family and your property. No one can ever, ever take that right away from you except YOU. The state can pass as many laws as it wants banning gun ownership and bearing, but every single one of those laws is illegitimate, and thus should not be followed.

How can the government force you to accept Sharia law, or any evil satanic system? Only YOU decide what you do or do not accept. Obama could write an Executive Order tomorrow declaring that the musloid screech to prayer be blasted from loudspeakers in every city and town five times per day, and the only true use or value that Executive Order would have is as toilet paper. Obama can’t make you accept Sharia law any more than he can make you fly like Superman.

ObamaCare can only force you out of business if you COMPLY with it. The government can only force you into mortal sin if you COMPLY and CONSENT. Obama can mandate that we all buy health insurance, and that all insurance policies cover abortion and contraception. And we can all laugh in his face. His fat wife can further mandate that we all eat celery sticks and tofu on Mondays and Thursdays, and we can likewise laugh in her painted-up-thicker-than-a-tranny face. These people have no power over us. They are slack-jawed, carney-trash gutter filth, and nothing more. Any power they have over us is power that we must specifically consent to give to them. I withdraw my consent. You got a problem with that, Barry? Molon labe.

Finally, back to the theological aspect of all of this, because that’s how I roll up in here. Look at a Crucifix. What you are seeing in a Crucifix is the stark horror of your own freedom and personal sovereignty. You are free to choose, as is every single being made in the image of God. We are so free that God consents to allowing us to choose to torture and kill Him. Oh, yes, we always, always have a choice. And now, because we have allowed it, the choice now stands as this: Either choose to spare yourself the wrath of an evil, illegitimate government or choose to scourge and crucify Christ. Pick up the flagellum and lean into Him. Skin Him. Make Him bleed and shake in pain. Then pick up that hammer and those nails and drive them in. Feel the bones in His feet and ankles crunch as you pound that nail in. And as you’re doing this, look Him in the eye with a big sh**-eating grin on your face. Tell Him how you have no choice, because it’s either this, or you might lose your job, or your 4000 square foot house. And that’s not even a contest, right? I mean, who WOULDN’T torture and kill their best friend, brother, father, spouse, creator and savior in order to stay in the good graces of the IRS and keep a job or a pension income?

The choice is yours. It always has been and always will be. This life will only last for a few more decades at most. What comes after that is eternal. Choose wisely.

The Issue Is Sin (Part 1)

We The Whipped (Part 1)
Posted by Ann Barnhardt - November 12, AD 2011 11:02 PM MST (http://barnhardt.biz/)

I continue to be amazed at how many people in this culture, and most especially those on the “right”, seem to have completely and totally psychologically surrendered to the government. These are the phrases I keep hearing:

“The government makes us pay for abortions. We can’t be held responsible for something we are forced to do.”
“I can’t imagine what life will be like if they make us accept Sharia law.”
“ObamaCare is going to force me out of business.”
“I live in Chicago. They won’t let us have guns here.”
“If I want to keep my job, I have to go along with the diversity training crap.”
“I have to keep paying taxes. It’s all tied directly into my bank account. I have no choice.”

I think that people in this culture actually ENJOY being whipped by the government, because it allows them to delude themselves into believing that they bear no responsibility for anything beyond not burning the toast and making certain that the TiVo is set to record the big game. Given this truly effeminate and childish psychological orientation, it is little wonder that the following sentence – seven little words – strikes fear in the hearts of men and causes them to lash out in hatred and eventually violence:

The government can’t make you do anything.

Oh, the implications. The horrific, horrific implications. Actually, it’s even worse than that. NO ONE can make you do anything. Your employer can’t make you do anything. You can either attend the pro-homosexual, pro-musloid diversity seminar or QUIT YOUR JOB. Your wife can’t make you do anything. Your children can’t make you do anything. You could abandon them tomorrow if you so chose, which is exactly what 90+ percent of black men in the inner-cities have freely chosen to do.

And finally, the ultimate terror. While God COULD force you to do something, because He loves you, He will never, ever force you to do ANYTHING.

As much as you don’t want to believe it, as much as you want to fight it, deny it, and reject it, the inescapable truth of the matter is that you, along with every other human being, are a FREE, SOVEREIGN INDIVIDUAL.

Do I have to pay taxes? Of course not. What are the alternatives? Government confiscation of my assets would be the first alternative. Well, this would simply put me in solidarity with the MF Global customers who have also had their assets confiscated. So be it. The next step would be imprisonment. Fine. So be it. I acknowledge in truth that this is, in fact, the alternative. I do not lie to myself and tell myself that there is NO alternative. You people out there keep saying to yourself that there is NO CHOICE between the government and God because having your assets confiscated or going to prison is “impossible”, and therefore no choice exists. This is a lie. There IS a choice, and we are all being called to make that choice, here, now, in this moment.

Some people have said, “I have children. What do you expect me to do?” Well, I suppose I expect you to do exactly what Thomas Jefferson did. Jefferson wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 when he was 33 years old. Writing and signing the Declaration made Jefferson, along with all of the signers, traitors and seditionists against King George III and the British Empire. This was a capital offense and pushed Jefferson and the rest of the Founding Fathers into the corner of either winning independence or dying at the end of a rope as a war trophy. At the time, his daughter Patsy was three years old. Not only did Jefferson sign the Declaration, he threw himself into the Revolutionary War and became Governor of Virginia. And while all of this was going on, Jefferson had five more children. Jane was born in 1774. A son was born and died within hours in 1777. Mary was born in 1778. Lucy was born in 1780 and died soon thereafter. Lucy Elizabeth was born in 1782. Jefferson’s home, Monticello, was a target of the British, and was in fact captured in 1781 by Cornwallis. Jefferson and his family managed to escape with only minutes to spare after being warned by a young Virginia militiaman. The British then destroyed everything except the main house. All of the crops, livestock and outbuildings were burned or seized.

Questions? The decadent freedom that you enjoy and are getting ready to piss away was largely made possible by a young man who was already financially established and the father of young children, pushing it all in and putting an enormous target on his own back. Heaven forbid that we should LEARN ANYTHING from history or FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE of those that came before us.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A New Experiment: What the Church Really Teaches on Socialism

I don't usually link to sites such as TFP Student Action because so often they are soliciting for funds. There are certain causes I believe in supporting but many sites seem to be part of the increasing the numbers of mail in my inbox & I don't want that to happen to you. This post doesn't ask for money & provides information that every Catholic ought to know. Namely, what the Church really teaches on socialism & those ideologies that are similar to socialism (i.e. fascism). There are links to excerpts of what the Holy Fathers have said from Pius IX in Nostis et Nobiscum to Benedict XVI in Deus Caritas Est. Every Pope in-between is included because, as Blessed John XXIII  said, “No Catholic could subscribe even to moderate socialism” He goes on to say:

“Pope Pius XI further emphasized the fundamental opposition between Communism and Christianity, and made it clear that no Catholic could subscribe even to moderate Socialism. The reason is that Socialism is founded on a doctrine of human society which is bounded by time and takes no account of any objective other than that of material well-being. Since, therefore, it proposes a form of social organization which aims solely at production; it places too severe a restraint on human liberty, at the same time flouting the true notion of social authority.” (Mater et Magistra, n. 34)


It always comes down to obedience. Will we be obedient to ourselves or obedient to the teaching of the Church? Will we see what is before our eyes or pretend that there is no attempt to make the America a socialist country? Whom will we obey? Whom do we follow? To whom is our allegiance? Yep, it's a matter of obedience. Click the links in the TFP article. Read all of the encyclicals noted on the page that tells us what the Popes have taught. Pray for enlightenment & to be obedient. It's hard to change, I who have changed so much know that. (I used to believe in socialism lite until I read what the Church teaches & decided to obey.) Now all Catholics in the USA, all Catholics in the world must decide whether to obey. We must become radically different people. We must become people of charity & love. We must give up believing that we can write a cheque or have taxes deducted & there ends our commitment to the poor because the state will handle everything. That is not charity. It is not obedience. That is an attempt to avoid discomfort. That is socialism, sometimes lite, sometimes totalitarian communism.

A New Experiment: My Miracle

each Wednesday, I'm supposed to inject myself w/ methotrexate, a chemo therapy drug that is a treatment on it's own & a part of the chemo treatment I have every 6 - 12 months. the problem is that I forget. it is just so odd to intentionally stab myself even though it usually doesn't hurt. it's icky but it's also something I must do. except, I am somethimes 1 - 3 days late & every so often, I miss an entire week. I know it's important & that left to myself I don't do very well so this week I asked God to remind me, then I forgot about it. yesterday morning I awoke & one of the large plastic bags that have the word "chemo" in large, bright yellow letters which my pharmacy uses to hold my tiny vials of medicine was propped up against my lamp on my nightstand. it held syringes & swabs so I assume it was one of the bags from the drawer where I keep my supplies. but last month, I cleaned that drawer so that all the syringes were in one bag & all the swabs were in the box of alcohol swabs. I may have missed a bag but it would have been down at the bottom. when I opened the drawer, everything was packed tightly as it had been the previous week. perhaps, I "walked in my sleep" (it wouldn't have been walking far) but I've never walked in my sleep before while taking this medicine. in fact, it knocks me out & getting my muscles to work so I can get up for any reason, even an emergency, requires so much effort, it wakes me & even awake, I must force each movement & look like Frankenstein in an old black & white film: I am always aware when I must get up after taking my sleeping medicine. needless to say, I didn't forget to stab myself & take my medicine yesterday. and however the bag got there, I plan to simply accept it as one of those small miracles God provides & not worry about whether He woke me w/o my knowing it or sent an angel or saint (or came Himself) & placed the bag there. He reminded me. that's what I asked Him to do & that's what He did. God is very good.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Snippets

The big issue this week is abortion. Partly, because I've been voluntold to assist the pro-life group at my parish but also because, as time passes, I find the issue of abortion is more & more important. As a nation, we must end abortion. Corruption is the #1 issue facing our country & abortion is the most corrupt act in which we engage. If it is acceptable to destroy babies in their mothers' wombs, then it is acceptable to commit any crime, engage in any sort of lawlessness - each of us may do anything we please. If we do not end it, abortion will destroy us.

Have a blessed Sunday.

NOTE: Please pray about the possibility of Congress using the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to make abortion illegal. It's a possibility I've only recently learned about & as I learn more, I'll post here, on my Facebook page & in my twitter feed; the latter is linked to this blog.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Wise Young Woman, an Excellent Site & Ways to Help Keep Children Alive

If you're willing to learn the painful facts about abortion, if you're willing to move from feeling abortion is wrong to participating in the fight to end abortion, watch this video:



read this site. First make ending abortion a regular subject of prayer. It needn't be anything formal: I literally plead w/ God to help us end abortion. Then speak w/ the pro-life group at your church. If you don't have such a group, begin one. Google "how do I begin a pro-life group" or "crisis pregnancy services in [insert your city/town]." You'll find a wealth of information & help.

There is so much everyone can do, from making donations to actually helping women who would otherwise choose abortion. Those of us who have never married but who long to be parents can help mothers raise their children by offering everything from financial support to mentoring to babysitting every so often so that single mothers can get out of the house. It may not seem the same but just try it. You'll soon discover the joy of helping a child to live & adults to be free from the burden of having killed their own child.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A New Experiment: Hell Loses Again

This is an excruciatingly amazing recount of God's grace; of how He even reaches into the hells that others try to create for us, the hells we are convinced we can never escape & brings us into the freedom & protection of His loving & forgiving embrace. God is so very, very good!

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/abused-bishop-ready-to-forgive/story-e6frg6n6-1226133531732

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday Snippets: Lesser Known Catholic Mystics

Physically, my health has been poor for some time (though you'd never know to look at me); I've had difficulty swallowing for months & have been on a mostly liquid diet. Spiritually, I'm experiencing an interesting time. I really don't know how to describe it. It's as if I'm on the verge of something. There's some writing I'm preparing to do that is dredging up memories, experiences, things that I once valued & thought were lost, more than I know how to express. For example, singing has always been a very important part of my life. As a child, when I first came to this country, I sat alone reading books & singing songs to God. I sang in school & church choirs & even studied opera as a young woman in New York. A life on the stage was not at all appealing to me so opera was soon ruled out but music was not; music has always been part of my prayer life. In looking through some of my writing, I was reminded that I had written a number of songs, prayers, psalms - I wanted to sing to God the music in my heart. Illness pushed music to the background but being a parishioner at an Anglican Use parish, where, week after week, we sing the Psalm in Anglican plainchant & where hymns are well-written & thoughtfully chosen has begun to reconnect me to singing as a central way to praise & pray to God. Last week, I bought myself a gift, a piano/keyboard; it arrived Thursday & a friend kindly came over yesterday & helped me set it up. I played a few chords but feel almost afraid of it. There is new music inside me, music born of my return to the Church & my deepening understanding of the gifts God has so generously bestowed upon me. It frightens me: only music or dance could express the longing, the gratitude, the love. Is it possible for a mere human to write of that love?

As a child, I found an old children's missal & hid it under my mattress along w/ a copy of The Song of Bernadette. The missal was definitely pre-Vatican II & out of date when I found it. I've been looking for online for something similar but haven't had much luck yet - all the missals I find in my price range are post-Vatican II. So I continue to look. Then today, my friend, Dawn Eden sent me a link to a post about Nellie Organ, whom I'd never encountered before. Her story touches something very deep inside me; another child who is friends w/ my Friend. I am almost envious because her life was not marred by sin as my life has been. Almost, but not quite. I will accept the life I've been given & trust my Friend to continue to be the Friend He's always been.

I have no idea what is going on or where any of it will lead. I know I will follow though, I must admit, it feels as if it is tearing me apart. I will follow. What else would I do? Where else could I go? I am like a young child riding on her Father's foot, clinging to his leg. This is where I belong, no matter where the trip takes me. This is where I am happy to be. And if I'm not particularly happy every moment, this is the only place that I have hope to become happy. And it's a great foot, big enough for many, many riders. And maybe I could work on uncovering the mysteries of the Holy Foot.

Oh yes, Dawn has a new book, My Peace I Give You, that is expected this spring. I was honoured not only to read it but to give feedback as she was engaged in writing. It promises to be a source of healing for many, many who have been abused or have abused themselves. Plan now to read it whether or not abuse has had any place in your life.

Oh yes two, it seems I'll be undergoing another round of chemo soon. Prayers for that & for everything in my life these days.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

A New Experiment: Ezekiel 22

This morning, I first read:

Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "And you, son of man, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Then declare to her all her abominable deeds. You shall say, Thus says the Lord GOD: A city that sheds blood in the midst of her, that her time may come, and that makes idols to defile herself! You have become guilty by the blood which you have shed, and defiled by the idols which you have made; and you have brought your day near, the appointed time of your years has come. Therefore I have made you a reproach to the nations, and a mocking to all the countries. Those who are near and those who are far from you will mock you, you infamous one, full of tumult. "Behold, the princes of Israel in you, every one according to his power, have been bent on shedding blood. Father and mother are treated with contempt in you; the sojourner suffers extortion in your midst; the fatherless and the widow are wronged in you. You have despised my holy things, and profaned my sabbaths. There are men in you who slander to shed blood, and men in you who eat upon the mountains; men commit lewdness in your midst. In you men uncover their fathers' nakedness; in you they humble women who are unclean in their impurity. One commits abomination with his neighbor's wife; another lewdly defiles his daughter-in-law; another in you defiles his sister, his father's daughter. In you men take bribes to shed blood; you take interest and increase and make gain of your neighbors by extortion; and you have forgotten me, says the Lord GOD. "Behold, therefore, I strike my hands together at the dishonest gain which you have made, and at the blood which has been in the midst of you. Can your courage endure, or can your hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with you? I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it. I will scatter you among the nations and disperse you through the countries, and I will consume your filthiness out of you. And I shall be profaned through you in the sight of the nations; and you shall know that I am the LORD."

My eyes focused on the words, "bloody city," and I thought, 'abortion'! Then I read the New Jerome Biblical Commentary: "sheds blood: This accents the violence committed against others by the powerful, which will lead to all the other offenses listed in the following verses."

Ezekiel 22 continues at verse 23:

And the word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, say to her, You are a land that is not cleansed, or rained upon in the day of indignation. Her princes in the midst of her are like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured human lives; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in the midst of her. Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things; they have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Her princes in the midst of her are like wolves tearing the prey, shedding blood, destroying lives to get dishonest gain. And her prophets have daubed for them with whitewash, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, `Thus says the Lord GOD,' when the LORD has not spoken. The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery; they have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without redress. And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none. Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath; their way have I requited upon their heads, says the Lord GOD."

In our time, we tend to focus on one or two issues often because we can't take in all the information that comes our way. It's important to remember that the five Catholic non-negotiables: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, cloning & any attempts to redefine marriage, are the minimum from the Church's social teaching to which we must assent in order to be in communion w/ the Church. But, they are not the limit of those crimes that cry out to God for vengeance. In fact, another crime that cries out to God is violence on the part of those in power against those being governed, those over whom one has power: it's as if Ezekiel 22 is a foreshadowing of the servant role that government is supposed to exercise.

At least 500 longshoremen stormed the Port of Longview about 4:30 a.m., broke out windows in the guard shack and — as longshoremen wielding baseball bats and crowbars held six guards hostage — others cut brakelines on box cars and dumped grain, according to Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha.

"We're not surprised," Duscha said. "A lot of the protesters were telling us this in only the start."

We live in a time when there have been calls for violence against members of the tea party & against those who don't agree w/ the people in power. Not long ago, the tea party was accused of using violent rhetoric. Now, those in power & those who feel they have the protection of the powerful (such as some union leaders) are calling out for violence against those who disagree w/ them.* And, some are responding to those calls (the article cited is only one instance; there are others).

Perhaps they don't know that their sins cry out to God. Natural law precludes taking a few men hostage while vandalizing & destroying the property of those with whom one disagrees. Perhaps they don't have any understanding of natural law. Perhaps they don't know the difference between right & wrong. We ought not be surprised, if one can kill a baby in his mother's womb, then it's easy to rationalize engaging in violence against adults & private property. We must pray for those who call others to violence & for those who engage in acts of violence. We must engage in acts of penance on their behalf because they are sorely in need of a change of heart.

Things changed with Christ. We became empowered to suffer on behalf of others, just as He did. We can "stand in the breach." There are many in our country who desperately need Christ's love & peace. Please, please, please, offer up prayers & sacrifices on behalf of all who use violence against the weak: on behalf of those who have & provide abortions & on behalf of those who call out for violence & lawlessness.

* I must be honest, a fringe group of persons involved w/ the Tea Party speaks of violence. Once in awhile, I visit their blogs & remind them that violence is not to be countenanced. Others make regular visits & engage such foolish people in long debates. I salute them but haven't the energy to wage such battles regularly.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Snippets

I'm participating in something called Sunday Snippets for the first time this week. Several Catholic bloggers each highlight one of their posts from the previous week & then provide links at the "host" blog. This week I'm highlighting my post on Ezekiel 12. Since I don't always update my blog on, at least, a weekly basis, I don't know if I'll always participate. We'll see what the future holds. This week, I hope you find lots of great things to read. God bless you all. I've not said it in a while but you all remain in my prayers. Have a glorious Sunday!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thomas Aquinas's Childhood Journal (Excerpts)

The high boredom factor always had me hating philosophy. But now I know, it was only the adults. I totally relate to the young Thomas Aquinas & feel absolutely no desire to edit him down to 15 words or less.

A New Experiment: Ez 13 - Will you hunt down souls?

In the past, I devoured the Bible & missed a great deal. I've been re-re-re...reading it for about a year or more now & am only at Ezekiel 13. Verses 17 - 23 really stood out:

"And you, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, who prophesy out of their own minds; prophesy against them and say, Thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the women who sew magic bands upon all wrists, and make veils for the heads of persons of every stature, in the hunt for souls! Will you hunt down souls belonging to my people, and keep other souls alive for your profit? You have profaned me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, putting to death persons who should not die and keeping alive persons who should not live, by your lies to my people, who listen to lies. "Wherefore thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am against your magic bands with which you hunt the souls, and I will tear them from your arms; and I will let the souls that you hunt go free like birds. Your veils also I will tear off, and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand as prey; and you shall know that I am the LORD. Because you have disheartened the righteous falsely, although I have not disheartened him, and you have encouraged the wicked, that he should not turn from his wicked way to save his life; therefore you shall no more see delusive visions nor practice divination; I will deliver my people out of your hand. Then you will know that I am the LORD."

Curious about the women who hunted the souls of men, I Googled the citation and found the following:

Satan’s Basket of Beans – “Rowland Hill began his sermon one morning by saying, ‘My friends, the other day I was going down by the street, and I saw a drove of pigs following a man. This excited my curiosity so much that I determined to follow. I did so; and, to my great surprise, I saw them follow him to the slaughter-house. I was anxious to know how this was brought about; and I said to the man, “My friend, how did you manage to induce these pigs to follow you here?” “Oh! Did you not see?” said the man. “I had a basket of beans under my arm; and I dropped a few as I came along, and so they followed me.” ‘Yes,’ said the preacher; ‘and I thought, so it is the devil has his basket of beans under his arm; and he drops them as he goes along: and what multitudes he induces to follow him to an everlasting slaughter-house! Yes, friends; and all your broad and crowded thoroughfares are strewn with the beans of the devil.’ ” –from New Encyclopedia of Prose Illustrations (page 21).

I'm still a bit curious about the practice of hunting the souls of men & the use of magic bands & veils but Rowland Hill's sermon causes me to think that whatever the anthropology of the practice, this is what Satan is doing. He wants us to be pigs following a trail of beans to a slaughter-house - scary & what we are so ready to do.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A New Experment: Ezekiel 12

Every five to seven years, I read the Bible from beginning to end as if it is one book. The first time I did so, I was about five. Each evening, my foster father would gather all the kids & his wife into the living room to read Scripture, listen to a very long, convoluted sermon (having mostly to do with himself) & pray long, convoluted prayers (having mostly to do with himself). When a child learned to read, he was given a Bible. I had learned to read before my parents sent me away & couldn't wait for my turn to read aloud & get my very own Bible. It took some insistence on my part, they were most reluctant to accept that I could read, but I finally convinced them & very soon had the Bible I so desired. No one taught me the right way to read it so I just treated it like any other book. And I hadn't been taught that I ought to be able to understand everything I read so I was unfazed with & just waded my way through begats & how the many pomegranates were to be embroidered on the meeting tent & similar texts that made no sense at the time. Once in a while, I'd ask my foster mother questions (occasionally, she'd even let me read the big family Bible w/ pictures & gold edges & the wonderful leather binding fragrance). Rarely, I'd save a question for my foster father. But mostly, I just read & decided I could always read it again when I knew more.

This is my eighth 'beginning to end' reading, I think. Of course, I've studied particular books & read the Bible or heard it read nearly everyday. But there's something different reading it this way. The God of the old testament is clearly the God of the new testament. He has put up with His straying people for many, many years & they just won't follow His laws - Israel insists they must be like the surrounding nations. Then God sends prophets to warn of impending exile. None is so compelling, so dramatic, so graphic as Ezekiel as He acts out the prophecies according to God's instructions - if they won't listen, and they won't - God will send the message in dramatic form. That's from my perspective of course. I think the ruling class of Israel saw Ezekiel as a comic buffoon, but that's just my guess; they didn't believe him.

In Ezekiel 12, according to the usual formula, "[t]he word of the LORD came to me:

'Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not; for they are a rebellious house. Therefore, son of man, prepare for yourself an exile's baggage, and go into exile by day in their sight; you shall go like an exile from your place to another place in their sight. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house. You shall bring out your baggage by day in their sight, as baggage for exile; and you shall go forth yourself at evening in their sight, as men do who must go into exile. Dig through the wall in their sight, and go out through it. In their sight you shall lift the baggage upon your shoulder, and carry it out in the dark; you shall cover your face, that you may not see the land; for I have made you a sign for the house of Israel.' And I did as I was commanded. I brought out my baggage by day, as baggage for exile, and in the evening I dug through the wall with my own hands; I went forth in the dark, carrying my outfit upon my shoulder in their sight.

In the morning the word of the LORD came to me: 'Son of man, has not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said to you, `What are you doing?' Say to them, `Thus says the Lord GOD: This oracle concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the house of Israel who are in it.' Say, `I am a sign for you: as I have done, so shall it be done to them; they shall go into exile, into captivity.' And the prince who is among them shall lift his baggage upon his shoulder in the dark, and shall go forth; he shall dig through the wall and go out through it; he shall cover his face, that he may not see the land with his eyes. And I will spread my net over him, and he shall be taken in my snare; and I will bring him to Babylon in the land of the Chalde'ans, yet he shall not see it; and he shall die there. And I will scatter toward every wind all who are round about him, his helpers and all his troops; and I will unsheathe the sword after them. And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries. But I will let a few of them escape from the sword, from famine and pestilence, that they may confess all their abominations among the nations where they go, and may know that I am the LORD."

These verses resonate within me. I feel as if their story of exile is mine. The more I think of it, the more it seems that my homeland got it wrong, woefully wrong and I am part of the scattered remnant left alive that I may confess the abomination of the leaders of countries that focus on power & ideologies rather than teaching their citizens to be virtuous & to love & follow God.

Most Brazilians who escaped during the time of oppression were like my family, well educated & comfortably well off. And, as my family did, they went to England. But somehow things were different for me. What that difference was is shrouded in the past & I doubt I'll understand it this side of heaven. But the madness that destroyed part of my family in Brazil reached out in some way caught my parents about two years later. Except, and there is always an except because God has been made man & all things are new, before they were killed, my parents sent me to the United States of America which was constituted, as John Adams said, "only for a moral and religious people" and is "wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

So now I continue to ponder, "[b]ut I will let a few of them escape from the sword, from famine and pestilence, that they may confess all their abominations among the nations where they go, and may know that I am the LORD." I was sent here that I may know God is the Lord & I'm pretty sure the 'except' is, if I will know Him as Lord, in encountering me others will know that He is the Lord too. He is the Lord & we must be willing to become a moral & religious people. Not because we might be exiled, though that ought to be reason enough, but because He is the Lord. To be anything else is to be a "rebellious house who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not" who reject God's gifts to us simply because we are a "rebellious house."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Experiment 8: Stories of Confession

A friend of mine asked me for stories of the occasions when confession helped me grow closer to God. I have one post that mentions confession but haven't really written about it. Confession is difficult for me. I always want to confess everything, including flaws & they only want sins. And since my catechesis has been unusual, I tend to know a lot about some issues and very little about others such as confession. So here are three stories:

I used to give the back story as if I was in therapy until one day a Polish Dominican said to me, "I know you think you'll never get over all the things that were done to you when you were a child but you don't have to tell me all of that. Just tell me your sins." "You mean like a laundry list?" I replied. "Exactly." And then he added, "I'm only telling you this because I think you want a more perfect way." I thanked him & told him he was right, I do want a more perfect way. What I didn't tell him was that no one had ever taught me how to make a confession.

On another occasion when I was again confessing a sin of which I was particularly ashamed, I began to cry & said, through my tears, "But I don't want to commit this sin!" The same Polish Dominican calmly said, "Then don't." It was the first time anyone had ever told me that I decide whether or not I sin; that sin is an act of will.

Finally, when I was confessing impatience w/ occasional taxi drivers, medical office persons or pharmacy persons, an Australian priest pointed out to me that I was being impatient with my caregivers. He showed me that many, many people are caring for me & not just friends & doctors. He was so good at seeing into my failures that I thought it might be very painful to go to him for confession regularly.

All good confessors have taught me is that I have so much more to be grateful for, that I am so much more loved & so much more a participant than I imagined. They teach me to be more fully human. I actually hope my health & appointments will allow me to go to weekly confession soon.

In the comments, please let me know of experiences in confession that help you grow closer to God.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Experiment 7: Hell Doesn’t Own Me

Over the past two or three months, I've had a number of conversations with friends about healing after abuse. I've learned, on the one hand, that I haven't gone as far as I think and, on the other, that I'm on the right road. Quite a lot has come from these conversations & I hope to write about most of it. It is exhausting to take the meditations in my head & heart & make them into posts but with time, it will happen. This piece is related to my posts on Catholic Witness in which I wrote quite a lot about my experience of being abused:

”Dearest Lord Jesus Christ, please heal my memory and sensibilities so I may remain aware of and live the life You have given me today. Please make my memory and sensibilities able to distinguish between experiences in my past and experiences today. If it is Your will, grant me the ability to use the memory of offenses committed against me in the past to aid in healing those who have been abused and offended as well as those who abuse and offend the little ones whom You love so dearly. And dearest, dearest Lord, please commission me as You commissioned Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta though Your dear Mother to pray and sacrifice on behalf of poor sinners. Amen”

On July 17, 1917, Our Lady showed Lucia dos Santos and Blessed Francisco and Blessed Jacinta Marto hell. Not a virtual image, not a 3-D film, not even a hologram, but really, truly hell. Lucia described Jacinta as “horrified to the point …of shriveling with fear.”(1) She goes on to say that Jacinta “frequently [] sat, meditating, on the ground or some stone, and began to exclaim, ‘Hell! Hell! How sorry I am for the souls that are going to hell! And people burn there alive, like wood in fire!’ And quivering a little, she would kneel on the ground with her hands joined and say the prayer Our Lady had taught us.”(1) She was seven years old.

Neither when I read the account in my early twenties nor since have I ever been deeply impressed by Our Lady’s actions. It never occurred to me to ask why she would show such an horrific sight to little children. Perhaps it is because I was three when I saw my Grandpére murdered, four when I was first raped, four when I was separated from my parents and learned of their murders and abandoned and left with the foster family where I was beaten, neglected, and used as an object for the fulfillment of my foster siblings sexual desires (a lot can happen in the space of a month). I had experienced hell long before I read of Our Lady showing it to three children from the country of my mother’s birth. If I felt anything at all it was that Our Lady showed hell to them for the same reason heaven had deposited me there.

When I began to ask God why He had left me in hell, I didn’t think of it as hell but as being thrown to the wolves. I had to pretend to be a wolf so as to keep myself from being torn to pieces. I even wrote a short story entitled, The Wolf-Cat, wherein a young kitten, whose pride has been killed by wolves, hides in the skin of a dead wolf so that she will be taken in by the pack and not left alone to die. She is used and abused, treated the way the wolves (in my story at least) treat their kind, until the day comes when the big Cat calls her back to herself, restores her memory and tells her that she has a mission to help Him save the wolves. It was just a story written by a young girl but, like so much literature, contained more truth than so many other subjects.

At first, I didn’t particularly care to know why God had thrown me to the wolves, didn’t care when He failed to answer. It had something to do with saving my life, that I knew. But I felt God might have made a better choice and I knew that all who had abused and offended me knew better. I didn’t know why I should care about them; they deserved to be blasted out of existence for what they had done to me and to so many others. The wolves deserved to be destroyed. As for me, all I wanted was to be back in my own skin, clean again and free from the smell and the memory and the shame. I wanted God to unmake the horrible years, to remake me. I did not want a mission to save either wolves or people like those who had abused me.

But then I realized God really had saved my life by throwing me to the wolves. There was no escaping it: in learning to fight them, I had learned to fight my own despair and desire to die & be with my parents. It was also apparent that God had trusted me to turn to Him for help and that so often, I had. Such trust must be love that wanted me not only to survive but to be happy; God wouldn't trust me unless He really know me; knew I could get the job done; knew I was worth trusting. So I could trust that God really did long for me to come to Him and belong to Him; that He really loves me. I have never been able to understand, to encompass that trust or that love. That God knew I needed to learn to fight, and especially fight myself awes me to this day. He is beyond my imaginings and I have a huge imagination. He knows me far, far better than I know myself and all I could do in response was love Him but that also meant loving His creation, particularly other people. And in my usual impulsive way, I found myself saying one day that I didn’t want anyone to be left out of what He has in store for those who will accept Him.

My friend, Fallen Sparrow , used to tell me of St. Dominic asking, “Lord, what will become of these poor sinners.” I didn’t think much of it at first. But it had a way of burrowing into my memory and even connecting with my feelings about those who had abused me. I realized St. Dominic’s poor sinners, and the souls Blessed Jacinta saw burning like wood were people God loved. When I thought about what I’d impulsively said, and talked to God about it, I knew that I must include even those who terrify me, even the wolves, even those who commit horrible acts against little children. That was difficult – to want what I didn’t want – so I asked God to make me able to love as He loves. Eventually, I began to feel badly because there were some so wicked they rejected God and all the good He has in store for them. They are extremely poor when riches abound just for the asking. The more I wanted to love God, the more I found myself praying for and loving those poor wicked souls. That was a huge gift, to love the unlovable, to look forward to seeing them in heaven and sharing a laugh with which we would tell each other, “All is forgiven!” and “I’m so glad you’re here!”

I was mostly happy and quite willing to live out the rest of my life in that fashion. Longing and praying for the salvation of the wicked and looking forward to heaven but I was somewhat dead inside. It wasn’t a subject that came up very often, particularly since I rarely dated: I pretty much kept it to myself. My sensibilities had been shattered and I expected they would remain that way. I read the catechism, followed one or two orthodox Catholic blogs, read Scripture, carefully taught myself certain limitations and worked to live within them. I also had the grace and example of friends who were also working to get to heaven and eventually, it became easier to avoid major slips and to seek reconciliation when I failed. But my sensibilities were numb. For example, friends had watched Team America and aware of my growing interest in politics, encouraged me to see it but also told me there would be a scene that would cause me to hide my eyes. When the scene appeared, I wondered what the big deal was, they were just action figures being “played” with as children “play” with action figures. I’d keep the film away from little kids but it was essentially a meaningless nothing.

But then I was scandalized by some behaviour I encountered. It was an overwhelming surprise. I automatically went into fight or flight mode, escaped as soon as possible, sought out friends who would care for me and when I made it home, was grateful for the safety of my own warm bed. The experience caused intense flashbacks that lasted for months: I was tormented by memories of being abused, and by overwhelming terror and crying fits followed by depression and sadness. Nearly a year later, the flashbacks have lessened but I still have an occasional attack. My dear friend Dawn Eden unknowingly convinced me to memorize the Anima Christi and now I hide myself in Jesus’ wounds when I am under attack – it’s a safe place to be and a place where more of my sensibilities are also being healed. I’ve never been one to wear short skirts or low cut tops but I’ve begun to find myself aware of clothing that insists on exposing just a bit more of me than I want exposed and am working on addressing such wardrobe defects and deficiencies. I even find myself looking away during explicit love scenes. The innocent child I once was is being returned to life.

After He died on the Cross, Jesus descended to the dead and preached the gospel to those who awaited His coming whether they knew it or not. Abraham, Isaac, Israel, Moses, Joshua, Judith, Ruth and so many others left the prison of death for paradise. Abuse left me convinced that I had been consigned to living in hell. I did not know it but I was waiting to be set free. And He who brought the Gospel to those imprisoned by death released me. The offer hasn’t expired but is available today and tomorrow and for all time. I am evidence that what is known as “the harrowing of hell,” in which Satan is shown that he has no power over those who die with Christ, is an eternal action. I have been burned by the flames of hell but hell cannot claim me. Freed from the flames, I am returning to life just as St. Paul promised: “[] if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” (Romans 6:7-8)

I no longer live with the wolves. I am a cat once again and happy to be one. But I have not forgotten my time in a wolf’s skin. At times I still feel shame, feel I deserve to be abused, feel I deserve to be in hell – fire is very attractive. But in Jesus’ wounds I remember that the flames burned me but never owned me. I belong to Christ and I never want to belong to anyone else. Jacinta Marto did not forget hell, it made her pray and sacrifice on behalf of those who did not concern themselves with their eternal futures but hastened down the road to destruction. I no longer wish to forget my experience of hell but instead seek to pray and sacrifice on behalf of those who have been abused and also on behalf of small, mean abusers. And I want to work to make the number of those hastening towards destruction as small as possible; living with Christ is also participating in His redemptive work. As my memory and sensibilities are healed, I become better able to participate in that work.

The message of Fatima is penance and reparation. That is work I can do whether I’m ill or well, weak or strong. There are so many adults and children who have survived sexual abuse and other major childhood traumas yet are still enthralled by the flames, still convinced they are in hell. They don’t yet know that their experiences were not so that they would be forever lost but rather that they might be found and bring with them many others who are, in their own way, lost. Our Lady prepared Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta for a mission to sinners. I have been prepared for a mission too: I know the way out of hell and it is my job to tell others how to reach safety. It’s not an exalted mission by any means. It mostly consists in befriending those God brings into my life, praying for those in need and most especially for victims of abuse and for those who abused them. It’s nothing terribly exciting unless being a klaxon horn is exciting. I just tell those being burned that there is a sure way out of the flames, that way is Jesus.


1 “Memórias e Cartas da Irmã Lucia” (Memories and Writings of Sister Lucia); Sr. Lucia of Fatima

Experiment 6: We Need to Have a "God Bless You" Day!

This is not Houston St. in NYC. Unfortunately, it's Houston, TX. How can anyone in TX try to abridge our freedom of religion & free speech? We must do everything we can to support those bringing suit & we ought to seriously consider a God Bless You day!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Experiment 5: Response To An Email

I don't check all my email accounts regularly but today, I thought I'd take a look @ my hotmail account and discovered I had received the following:

Date: Wed, 4 May 2011
Subject: What do you think?

Dear MoveOn member,

Because MoveOn is its members, our power and direction come entirely from members like you.

I'd love to hear what you're thinking right now. What do you take away from the news recently? What are you excited about? What do you want from MoveOn?

If you have any thoughts you'd be willing to share, please reply to this message or drop me an email at:

jruben@moveon.org

Thank you!

Justin

I thought I'd share my response with you:

Dear Justin,

When I registered @ MoveOn.org several years ago, I thought it was a viable organization working to help the poor in the United States. Over the past few years, I've learned that MoveOn has no real concern for those in need but rather seeks to impose on the US an ideology that is the direct opposite of everything I believe in. I believe in charity, voluntary giving to help those in need; MoveOn wants to use every area of government to redistribute wealth. Except the wealth is somehow lost in the redistributing pipes & the poor are no better off while those whose wealth has been taken away are now poorer & can't create the jobs that the poor need in order to build better lives for themselves.

MoveOn believes in bringing illegal aliens into the US to upset our way of life. Those illegal aliens aren't the desperate poor who come here for a better life; the very poor can't afford to pay the transport costs. Those you bring in are anarchistic communists. They are angry that good exists in the US. It doesn't even occur to them to fight the corruption in their own countries & develop their own good but only to come to the US to destroy the good we have built here.

Anger at the good that the US has created & helped the world create is why MoveOn exists; you welcome anarchistic communism. Many people may not recognize it but some of us do; I do. Destruction of the good will neither help the poor nor accomplish anything except death. But then, ultimately, that's what anarchistic communism wants, death. I'm so sorry you are caught up in an organization that will only lead to destruction. I truly do understand how one begins seeking to do good & then becomes so enmeshed, it's very difficult to see the truth, especially the truth about your own organization which must be very dear to you. It's extremely sad. But I'm so happy I am no longer fooled by the rhetoric MoveOn & so many other Soros supported operations spout. There are many of us who no longer believe you, who understand that you are not supporting life but only death. We will not be fooled by you again & are working to open the eyes of more & more Americans.

Please remove me from your contact list. I don't need such clutter in my inbox. Good day & may you come to see that you are not working to help those in need but to make many more poor. May God bless you & warm your heart; it must be very cold.

Drusilla

Please pray for all those involved with the organizations that George Soros has founded and pray for Mr. Soros as well. It is well worth the time to conduct a bit of research into his life. He has become a bitter old man who is bent on destroying as much as possible. He needs prayer & a total change of heart but God is well up to the job if Mr. Soros will make even the slightest gesture towards repentance. Please pray that Mr. Soros makes that gesture.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Experiment 3 (actually 4, but I forgot to # the last post): Taking God Up On His Offers

We clip coupons, search out sales, order items online - engage in all sorts of activities in which we trust someone or some company to be honest & save us a bit of money or produce a quality product - to be faithful. And yet we don't seem to expect God to be faithful - we don't take Him up on His promises. How silly of us to forget the One who is really faithful & put all our trust in things which let us down over & over & cannot provide what we really need.

"if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)

A number of our elected representatives have asked us to pray for our nation on the 3rd of July. We know it is a wise thing to do & perhaps the most important job our representatives have, to tell us when we need to repent & pray for the gift God has given us. They ask us to spend just 3 - 5 mins to repent & ask God to heal us & our land. Please join me & thousands & thousands of others. Let's place our trust in God our Saviour & Redeemer.

https://www.frc.org/get.cfm?c=CHECKOUT&dmy=DD67F0C3-0493-820F-D591A9EB7BEFFEC5&CFID=10793580&CFTOKEN=742c50a944d43cc2-DD6792F2-0A52-7F1E-C5C1EF9B2D7C6E93

Please share the message with others. Thanks.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Old Remedies Are the Best

Prayer & fasting - it's all been explained in the past & it's time to engage in them again. The grand thing is that a leader on the national stage is calling us to repentance; finally an elected official is actually representing us. Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Experiment #2: The Act of Love

For various reasons, many I've written of here, as a child, I never learned many of the prayers Catholic children do. So recently, as part of my morning prayers, I've been memorizing some of them from a little booklet, My Catholic Prayer Book, which I got in the bookshop at the National Cathedral in DC. Learning them is slow, painstaking & actually physically painful so I go phrase by phrase for weeks at a time & eventually another prayer is learned. Part of the difficulty is because I find it hard to remain focused. I am easily distracted & can't stop my mind wondering off in all sorts of places. Once memorized, my mind still wanders but the distractions have come together & it seems that all the wandering while memorizing the Acts of Faith, Hope & Love was about the same thing.

Along w/ not learning most of the prayers other Catholic children did, I also didn't learn to pray as they did. I'm not sure I learned to pray as anyone learns because no human being taught me any prayers except the Our Father; I did learn a few prayers from the catechism I kept under my bed but I did that on my own. The prayers I had learned never seemed to be enough & the extemporaneous prayers my foster-father & other ministers prayed just seemed odd. So I just learned to converse w/ God or, sometimes, just to think of nothing & lie back in my Friend's arms & hang out. That basic mode of praying has never changed & my mind automatically wanders to it much of the time & especially when I am learning new prayers. So I thought I'd try to put some of those wanderings into intelligible form & share them with you.

O my God, I love You above all things, and with my whole heart and soul, because You are all good and worthy of all my love. I love my neighbour as myself for love of You. I forgive all who have injured me, and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured. Amen.

I've learned the Acts of Faith, Hope & Love. My mind wanders during all of them but it is the Act of Love I would almost totally rewrite. The 1st place my mind wanders off is because You are all good and worthy of all my love. I find myself telling God, that the truth is I love Him because He loves me 1st & how can I not love Him when He has loved me so much & so well. Then I usually find myself thinking about those who ought to have loved me & how badly they failed, of how badly I have failed to love & that makes me realize all the more how much God loves me & that I am only loving Him in response. I can remain for a long time just thinking of God's love for me even though I don't deserve it but I try to move on; usually I do.

The 2nd place of wandering is I love my neighbour as myself for love of You. Here I admit that I do not love my neighbour as myself (and usually remember to thank God for that) for love of Him. Instead, I tell God that I try to love my neighbour as Christ has loved me because He has commanded me to do so & I want to do His will. The emphasis is on try. I fail, a lot, & can only keep trying because He loves me so much & I want to love Him any way I can. Sometimes I think how much more I would fail if I was trying to love as I love myself. There is brokenness within me that makes loving myself, even for love of God, very difficult indeed: my self love is not a template for loving others. But God is brilliant. He has given even me the opportunity to learn to love my neighbours, & learn to love myself in the process, if I seek to love as He loves me. And the glorious bonus is that because I know He loved me 1st & my love for Him is in response to His love, my love for my neighbours is also because of His love for me & them. How can I not love what my Beloved loves?

Finally, my mind wanders at I forgive all who have injured me, and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured. That sentence becomes: I try to forgive all who have injured me because You have told me to do so & I try to ask pardon of all whom I have injured because I know that's what You want. I think the Act of Love ends on a wimpy note because it doesn't end w/ acknowledging God's love but this is actually a perfect place to address that omission: I can only forgive because He works forgiveness within me. That's something I learned a while back, when I felt called to forgive those who killed my family but couldn't even express the words. Finally, after several days struggling & crying, the realization lit up my heart, the ability to forgive is as much a gift as anything else & if that's what God wanted of me, He could make it happen. So I asked Him to work forgiveness within me & was granted peace & found myself praying for people I had hated just a few minutes earlier. God continues to make it possible for me to forgive even if I must, at times, wait to express forgiveness. And the same is true about asking pardon. I put all my occasions of forgiving & being forgiven in God's hands & He handles it. Ultimately, I realize I must move onto something else so I end the Act of Love by telling God I am so grateful He makes it possible for me to love Him & His creation.

And now it's time for me to move onto something else. The Act of Love has been around for a long time & I'm glad I've learned it. I do think it might be more dynamic & when I am praying it alone, I amend it to my heart's content. But when I'm praying it w/ others, I keep to the original because that's part of what love does, gives way to others over those things that are not essential. After all, anyone making an Act of Love is doing so because he loves God & that's the essential thing.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

God is good. But what is man?

It's been several months since my last entry. Houston & being ill require a great deal of work & are exhausting. When I originally began blogging, I thought it would take the place of my personal journal. But my posts became so infrequent, I began keeping my personal journal again: God doesn't mind if I become distracted & head off in another direction & between being ill & extremely medicated, focusing is actually painful. But today I'm trying an experiment. I want my mind to be restored to health as well as my body so perhaps an occasional post will force me to focus & will help heal my mind. (I'm also considering Tai Chi & I've found a dance partner to teach. Dance will help me regain the strength, form & balance I once had. Working with someone will help me push myself.) I must ask one favour of all of you, if I ramble or make no sense or am inconsistent, please let me know. Please help me get well. (Don't worry about my feelings, just tell me the truth.)

In my last post, I left off asking whether God can exist and not be good. There were excellent responses. Kathleen Lundquist's comment comes closest to stating my belief:

If that's the case [that God can be malevolent], then we're all in hell. The choice is between being and nothingness. If God is our Father/the ground of our being, and being is not good, then we may as well just walk off the cliff into insanity.

Even though my life has had & continues to have quite a lot of suffering, I, like many Christians, have always believed & experienced God's goodness: from an early age, I knew there was a huge difference between God & man. By that I don't mean to say that I haven't had struggles w/ God because of the suffering in my life but that ultimately, God has always used suffering to bring me closer to Himself. So how answer such a question? I could share some of my personal experience (& have been willing to do so privately) but then it hit me, if we're accepting God's existence then we must accept His goodness - God & goodness are not two separate things but one & the same thing. So I must ask those who posit God as Creator & evil, when you say you believe in God, just whom, exactly, do you believe in? If god is Moloch, then no, he is not good. Ditto all the demons & idols ever created by human beings. But if God is YHWH, then we're facing a totally different proposition because YHWH is good.

We know the story or can easily learn it by reading the Bible: YHWH, who transcends space & time, creates this world, this reality & chooses to enter into it. He creates Man & is in relationship with them. Man rebels against YHWH but YHWH doesn't leave us as a god would do. Rather, He lets us know there are serious consequences for our rebellious actions & He remains in relationship w/ those who choose to be in relationship w/ Him. Man suffers, creation groans because our rebellion has caused it to be subjected to the chaos from which we were protected. None of us is exempt, no matter how old or young, how weak or strong, no matter how much money we have nor how high our position nor how great our intelligence. We chose rebellion & only God's mercy keeps us from being utterly destroyed. But God uses suffering to prepare a people to receive Him so that YHWH can show us who He is. He finally arrives, a human baby who is also God: God literally places Himself in our hands. And we kill Him. But, though it ought to be, God's death isn't the end of the story. YHWH who has become Man returns from the dead, ascends back to be with His Father, sends us the Holy Spirit who will teach & guide us & promises to come back once we have told the entire world about Him. When that time comes, He will give those who choose to accept it something more glorious than we can imagine: we will be like God Himself (which is what we wanted when we rebelled). Those who reject Him will also receive what they desire, life without Him which, naturally, is suffering. But those who those who choose to become like Him, will no longer suffer. Creation will be perfected, it will be set free from suffering as we have been. In a nutshell (fashioned Drusilla-style) that's the story.

So how can we accept YHWH & not accept the answer we've already been given? We have an enormous amount of power but not so much ability. We are like children who break their toys but don't know how to fix them. Much of our science is dedicated towards trying to fix a broken world. Our social sciences have almost no other purpose. The same is true for much of the work we do these days - most NFPs, NGOs, the United Nations, charities - all mainly exist to fix what is broken but w/o acknowledging that we are the ones who broke it. Too many of us want to accept YHWH (or at least say we do) but don't want to believe that original sin is real. But, if we claim to believe in YHWH then we know we are the ones who broke our world & that we continue to break it. If we claim to believe in YHWH, we must accept the entire story or else we are not believing in God, but rather in some demon or idol. It is not that God is not good, it is that we are not good.

The acquaintance I mentioned earlier once asked me why I follow God. I replied, "Because He is faithful." My acquaintance responded, if a scientist had developed a particularly vicious strain of mice that kept tearing one another apart would I say that scientist was good just because he was faithful? Because of the move & my health, I never had an opportunity to reply. Now I will: if the scientist had given the mice the ability to choose whether or not they would be vicious & even when they chose viciousness he continued to work with them, preparing them for the day when he himself would become a mouse because by doing so & by allowing them to kill Him, he would destroy viciousness & make them able to become scientists like him then, yes, I would say that scientist was good. Having the ability to choose is what makes all the difference. To be able to choose is to have power. God gave us choice. We chose to to rebel against Him, to try to be gods. And we continue to make that same choice. So, in reality, it's not His goodness that is at question but our rebelliousness & our refusal to accept that our actions have consequences - sometimes extremely far reaching consequences. We might ask, why would He give us such power? But once again, we have the answer - choice is the means by which we can become like God: we have to want to become like Him, to choose to become like Him. We might be angry w/ God or think He is loopy for giving us such power but then we must ask ourselves, why do we choose to rebel against the One who is giving us what we want anyway? Why do we rebel against the One who is trying to make us gods?

PS: I undergo my 3rd round of chemo beginning Wednesday. Please pray for me.