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Saturday, 31 January 2015

Catholic Calvinism and Suffering

I am in a strange position and must suspend the blog, hopefully, temporarily. Those readers who already have my email may email me, of course. I must work on my present physical situation full-time.

All I can say is that this suspension has nothing to do with anything connected to the blog and everything to do with my being here. Pray for me.

One of the greatest evils which has crept into middle-class Catholicism is the Calvinist idea that the chosen, saved people of God have physical blessings on earth.

For years I have spoken and written about the "middle-class church" which cannot see the value of suffering and which blames those who suffer loss of material status for crimes or horrible sins.

When one suffers in the States, the typical thought which enters the minds and hearts of many Catholics is that the person must have sinned grievously against God to merit such a life. If one is a financial failure, one is to be blamed entirely for some sort of egregious sin.

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, states St. Paul.

So, there is an idea that those who consistently suffer must be shunned, not allowed into one's sphere, set aside.

Ironically, many of the saints who lived in past centuries would have been shunned by pious middle-class Catholics.

Such attitudes, like, such and such a saint must have done something wrong to be treated by his or her community as a pariah, is an idea more common that not.

SS. Padre Pio and John of the Cross both were punished by their own communities simply because they were graced by God in extraordinary ways. St. Teresa of Avila and St. Therese, the Little Flower experienced criticism within their own order. St. Benedict Labre died as a beggar. Blessed Margaret of Castello was abandoned by her own parents.

The list is long. And yet, the idea which expresses itself like this, "Well, if you had not done something wrong, you would not be in this state" resounds loudly among laity and religious alike.

The days when religious houses accept the poor are long gone. The hospitality of religious houses now has a price tag. The orders, in some cases, have lost their original charism.

We have all sinned. There is no one who can claim that they are blessed physically, materially by God because they have been "good".

Material blessings have nothing to do with merit or holiness, but merely God's goodness and Providence.

In His Wisdom, He plans that some people are poor, even destitute.

When Catholics in America were poor, they were better Catholics, as they did not confuse the American Dream with the life of saintliness.

Socialism has deadened the moral conscience of a large segment of Catholic society. The other evil is gross individualism, which undermines attempts to build community.

To be mistrusted simply because one is poor is a great suffering. But, with it comes joy, as Christ Himself was mistrusted by His own people and He is totally Innocent. One joins in the suffering of Christ in a real and intimate way.

What can a follower expect if one really follows Christ but misunderstanding, marginalization, false judgement? And, if one loves Christ, one desires to be like Him is all things. To those whom He allows to experience His Own Life, spiritual blessings follow in abundance.

Matthew 8:20

20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

Did you ever wonder why Christ said this? Because He had no place. His own extended family and others must have refused to allow Him to stay in houses in places where He was preaching and teaching. Our Lord was not exaggerating or making up poetry. He was describing His life.

Recently, I was turned away from a Franciscan place simply because those inside were concerned that I would never leave. They made no effort to help me in my situation or discover alternatives which I did not know in the area.

I cannot imagine St. Francis doing this to anyone who came to him for real aid to get on one's feet again. What will happen when thousands, if not millions have lost status and jobs, because they are Catholic and uphold Catholic teaching? What of those priests who will refuse to do ssm? They may lose their positions in some dioceses. Do not kid yourselves on this point, as not all bishops would support priests who are orthodox on this teaching.

Will they be turned out onto the streets because they will be perceived as having "done something wrong"?  The spirit of the remnant Catholics in England and their courage have disappeared into history, I am afraid. 

To follow Christ is a larger call than the seeking comfort or approval. But, it would be nice to be in a community of love and hope. 

One last quotation from Garrigou-Lagrange: In the passive purifications, the soul is frequently tempted against hope, and when all created aids fail, must hope against hope, or beyond all human hope, because of the one formal motive, the help of God. “When I am weakest then am I strong.” But God helps us most efficaciously when He confers upon us, not only the grace which urges and stimulates, but grace which is efficacious in itself. Thus does the soul attain to holy abandonment in the hands of God.  from Grace

Pax vobiscum.

If any Catholic parent...

lets their children watch the two horrible ads, one mocking God, and the half-time show, they are putting their children in "an occasion of sin".

Why watch any of this evil?  Go out and play with your kids tomorrow instead of watching tv.

.. I am certainly no judge of television, since I have never watched it. All I know is that there is a significantly general agreement, among men, whose judgement I respect, that commercial television is degraded, meretricious and absurd. Certainly it would seems that TV could become a kind of unnatural surrogate for contemplation: a completely inert subjection to vulgar images, a descent to a sub-natural passivity rather than an ascent to a supremely active passivity in understanding and love. It would seem that television should be used with extreme care and discrimination by anyone who might hope to take interior life seriously.  from Seeds of Contemplation, Thomas Merton

I wrote about this years ago on this blog. I quoted Merton from this source:  Cistercian Studies Quarterly, "Inner Experience: Problems of the Contemplative Life (VII)", Vol 19, 1984, notes on pp. 269-270, 

God has given each human being the capacity of passive contemplation. This capacity is for God alone, for the creation of the space which He fills in the Unitive State.

Being passive before the tv fills that space with sewage and deadens the capacity for real contemplation. Worse than that, one becomes contemplatively united with whatever is on the tv through this passive contemplation, which brings one into "mystic attraction until one is spellbound in a state of complete union."

Merton states that either God or tv takes over the "will on a temporal or material level...the the nadir of intellectual and emotional slavery."

Satan knows this and uses tv for his grooming of damned souls.

To move from meditation, to active contemplation, to passive contemplation, is the call of each Catholic.

Are you clogging up the very gift God has given you by passive contemplation of tv? More on this in these posts.

11 Sep 2012
Figures for an Apocalypse by Thomas Merton. Posted by Supertradmum. As a foreigner in a foreign land, I shall not be able to talk about 9-11 as I would want to do today. But, I was in Canada on 9-11. Father Z has part of ...
22 Jan 2013
We only have so much the video here and the next one posted. I have read all of Thomas Merton's books many, many years ago but I have missed some of his articles. Now, I have come across a startling one ...
27 Oct 2014
He also mentioned Thomas Merton, who I had just put back on the blog this morning. Synchronicity. One more point this good priest made was that we all need to think about death. Again, synchronicity considering I just wrote ...
27 Oct 2014
Remember what Thomas Merton said, which I have quoted here before on this blog that television is the opposite of contemplation. And that the very energies of passivity which most men use in watching television are the .

21 Nov 2013
I have shared on this blog the great insight of Thomas Merton on the biggest danger of television-that the passivity which one approaches tv is the aspect, the gift of the mind and soul for passive prayer. The television takes ...
10 Aug 2014
Re meditation, is there room for 'quieting' the mind, stopping the mental chatter and allowing God into the stillness? are Thomas Murton's thoughts upon meditation in Western Christianity agreeable with Catholic Christian ...
09 Jan 2015
... anonymous contemplatives in the city, going about their daily tasks? 9 January 2015 at 17:31 · Supertradmum said... Mary Ann, actually, the reference I know is from Thomas Merton, but Maritain may have said this as well.
28 Nov 2013
Remember what Thomas Merton said, which I have quoted here before on this blog that television is the opposite of contemplation. And that the very energies of passivity which most men use in watching television are the ...

29 Nov 2013
As Thomas Merton notes, we are geared to passive intake of knowledge, which happens at the contemplative stage, but if our minds are full of goo from the television, we shall never learn either meditation or contemplation.
07 Dec 2014
Remember the posts on Thomas Merton's brilliant insight into the evil of television? Without a strong intellect, one cannot properly deal with the bombardment of images, good or bad, in this hyperactive world. Even to get on ...
25 Jan 2013
Cardinal Bernadine of Chicago, Thomas Merton (in a yoga pose), Martin Luther King, or homosexual "saints" such as Mychal Judge, Mark Bingham, Harvey Milk, or such people as Oscar Romero, John Donne, We-wha the ...
11 Nov 2014 12 November 2014 at 14:39 · Supertradmum ...

11 Sep 2012
... Father Mark "Vultus Christi" Kirby's first Oblate, I have to say my Benedictine soul is envious. Please know that you're in my prayers, and I'll be asking St. Scholastica and St. Thomas More for their intercession on your behalf.

Typical of the shortsightedness in Washington...

Happy Feast Day of St. John Bosco

Matthew 18:1-5New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
We must become like little children, trusting completely in Divine Providence. The two Gospel readings of the day, one for the ordinary time and one for St. John Bosco (above) point to complete trust in a loving Father, a trust given as a grace but cultivated in hard times.

Mark 4:35-41New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition 

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

St. Paul, St. John Bosco, and Tolkien

Today's First Reading from the Feast of St. John Bosco speaks to us Americans.

Philippians 4:4-9

Rejoice[a] in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.[b] Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, beloved,[c] whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about[d] these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
Notice that St. Paul is exhorting the Philippians not to live like the world does, full of anxiety and harshness. The world we see around us is consumed with the pursuit of comfort and pleasure. God is demanding a simple life from us for one reason-to keep our focus on Him and not the world.
Whenever I return to America after being in Europe, even for a short while, I am astounded by the wealth of the ordinary people. Most Europeans accept a much lower standard of lifestyle as normal. Some of my friends still have twin-tub washing machines and no dryers. Some have tiny freezers, or no freezers. Many do not have central heating.
Food is simpler, and less. 
Yet, Americans forget to be grateful, to thank God for the many, many physical blessings. St. John Bosco knew this-he warned his boys of comforts and pleasures.
But, peace does not come from comforts or even the security of things. Peace comes from a pure heart, a pure mind, a pure soul.
When you read the epistles, remember that St. Paul was not writing to theologians, or bloggers who have time to sit and meditate on his words, but to the "people in the pew".
His high standards remain the standards of the Church for pursuing the life of holiness.
For me, it is much easier to be holy in Europe, as one has less and has easier access to Mass and Adoration.
Since I have been in the States, I have not been able to get to daily needs a car. This fact alone makes me uncomfortable here, as I cannot receive my Lord daily, nor find daily Adoration.
Is this not ironic? That one of the richest countries of the world does not allow its people to worship God daily?
I am reminded of a quotation from J.R.R.Tolkien on the Eucharist.
“Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament. . . . There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves on earth, and more than that: Death.
"By the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste—or foretaste—of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man’s heart desires.
"The only cure for sagging or fainting faith is Communion. Though always itself, perfect and complete and inviolate, the Blessed Sacrament does not operate completely and once for all in any of us. Like the act of Faith it must be continuous and grow by exercise.
"Frequency is of the highest effect.
"Seven times a week is more nourishing than seven times at intervals.

Also I can recommend this as an exercise (alas! only too easy to find opportunity for): make your Communion in circumstances that affront your taste. Choose a snuffling or gabbling priest or a proud and vulgar friar; and a church full of the usual bourgeois crowd, ill-behaved children—from those who yell to those products of Catholic schools who the moment the tabernacle is opened sit back and yawn—open-necked and dirty youths, women in trousers and often with hair both unkempt and uncovered. Go to Communion with them (and pray for them).
"It will be just the same (or better than that) as a mass said beautifully by a visibly holy man, and shared by a few devout and decorous people.
"It could not be worse than the mess of the feeding of the Five Thousand—after which our Lord propounded the feeding that was to come.”
 The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind The Lord of the Rings, p. 219.

Extrapolation of Today's First Reading in the NO

Hebrews 11:1-19

The Meaning of Faith

11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith[a] our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.[b]

The Examples of Abel, Enoch, and Noah

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable[c] sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith[d] he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and ‘he was not found, because God had taken him.’ For it was attested before he was taken away that ‘he had pleased God.’ And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith.

The Faith of Abraham

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised.[e] 12 Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, ‘as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.’
13 All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, 14 for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.
17 By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, 18 of whom he had been told, ‘It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named after you.’ 19 He considered the fact that God is able even to raise someone from the dead—and figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.

Reposts for St. John Bosco's Feast Day

31 Jan 2014
On Sunday night, May 3 [1868], the feast of the Patronage of Saint Joseph, Don Bosco resumed the narration of his dreams: I have another dream to tell you, a sort of aftermath of those I told you last Thursday and Friday which ...
11 Sep 2014
On Sunday night, May 3 [1868], the feast of Saint Joseph's patronage, Don Bosco resumed the narration of his dreams: I have another dream to tell you, a sort of aftermath of those I told you last Thursday and Friday which ...
05 Oct 2014
John Bosco's Prayer to Mary,Help of Christians. Posted by Supertradmum. Most Holy Virgin Mary, Help of Christian, ... Dedicated to St. Etheldreda: Abbess of Ely. Dedicated to St. Etheldreda: Abbess of Ely a blog since early ...

When I am in Malta, as I was last year, I go to the Salesian mission church for English speaking people on the Island, St. Patrick's. As one knows, the Salesians have a great love for Our Lady Help of Christians, Auxilium Christianorum.

Today is the feast of St. John Bosco. May he remind us of Mary, Our Help.

Today, pray for me to return to Europe, as so many of my friends and spiritual guides believe I am to do. God bless all my readers on this special Salesian day, especially my Salesian priest friends.

In Praise of New Yorkers

There is a common perception that people in New York City are rude. I have just passed a few days in NYC and all the Yorkers I met were not only polite, but helpful, and even charming.

The airport staff, hotel staff, bus drivers, restaurant, and carry-out people were all happy, peaceful, chatty and genuinely friendly. I did not, of course, eat at up-market places, and the carry-out was amazingly superb food from an old Italian family restaurant.

These Yorkers were from all ethnic backgrounds and all more than nice. They seem to all be extremely extroverted, to the point where I only had to ask one question and an entire conversation ensued. I also learned that these down-home people love to tell stories. I heard lots of stories.

A little post in praise of New Yorkers...from a short visit.


This blogger will not support another Bush.

We do not need dynasties in the United States.

We need new and independent men in office, who are not part of the system.

Sadly, too many of the Republicans are part of the system.

Pray, think, reflect, fast for the politicians, politics of the USA.

Filial Appeal, Please

Filial Appeal to Pope Francis
on the Occasion of the 2015 Synod on the Family

Christ, the great Prophet, who proclaimed the Kingdom of His Father

both by the testimony of His life and the power of His words,

continually fulfills His prophetic office until the complete manifestation

of glory. He does this not only through the hierarchy who teach in

His name and with His authority, but also through the laity whom

He made His witnesses and to whom He gave understanding of the

faith (sensu fidei) and an attractiveness in speech so that the power

of the Gospel might shine forth in their daily social and family life.
Lumen Gentium, 35

A View of Purgatory

I have been thinking that these generations of true Catholics may experience purgatory on earth. In the Age of the Martyrs. people suffered and went straight to heaven.

I do believe this will happen again soon. Many of us will experience great suffering, to the point of being purified on earth.

God wants and needs saints, people who are wiling to suffer for him and with him.

We are that generation.


Some Catholics do not understand what the coming trials and tribulation mean.

The misunderstandings fall into four categories.

  1. Denial that things such as persecution will happen
  2. The idea that God's people will somehow be spared trials
  3. That God is not in charge.
  4. God is Just.

Let me unpack these bad ideas. 

  1. Many Catholics are refusing to look at the signs of the times. They continue to believe that political figures will turn the tide of evil away from America and Europe. They looks towards false seers who promise the opposite-days of peace and prosperity. Denial of coming suffering may be a simple fear of suffering, but it is a deceit in the person who refuses to look at facts and signs.
  2. God's own Church will experience great upheaval and distress. God's own remnant will suffer like the rest of mankind. The remnant is called to learn to rely on Providence alone and remain peaceful in the face of great trials.
  3. God is totally in charge, even of evil. God allows evil in order for more good to come about and for the triumph of His Glory. Evil cannot work without God's Perfect or Permissive Will. God allows free will, even the free will of evil people.
  4. God is Just and His Justice responds to great sin, especially the four sins which cry out to Him for vengeance. Justice belongs to God and Justice comes before Mercy. That God is Just means that evil will be punished and that all men will be given sufficient grace to repent and come to Him.
No one is spared in hard times of calamities and trials. The Catholics are called to transcend their own personal weaknesses by relying on God alone.