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Friday, 10 July 2015


The more I read about the shrinking of the middle class through debt and gross consumerism, as well as unemployment, and the more I read about the fast growing underclass completely dependent on the government, the more I am reminded of the old story The Time Machine.

Those with gobs of money seem to be buying up land in many areas, They will control the food supplies.

I predict, and I have thought this for a long time, that in the end, after financial chaos, there will be two classes-the mega-wealthy privileged, who belong to Bilderberg et al, and a slave class.

What I saw in Europe was the sadness of the middle class, from which most of us online have come, as they see their rights and status slipping into the ocean of big interests. In America, people pretend they have money by using credit, and have slipped into la-la land regarding their personal financial futures.

The American Dream was never a reality, but a progressive fallacy based on the isms of Americanism, materialism, consumerism. My intelligent wealthy friends are not in debt, have sold their investments, and are buying land. Why? They know the value of land, and the not-so-future need for access to food supplies. They can see the take-over of a few multi-national companies and they are nervous about this government's ability to control OWG interests.

Big is in, small is out.

The easiest examples to see must be the almost total lack of Ma and Pa shops of any kind. Yesterday, a friend of mine and I had to go through my old neighborhood on our way to a restaurant. He is much younger than I am and we had worked on moving my books in the afternoon.

Time for dinner at a new Middle Eastern place brought us through the streets which in the 1950s and 1960s were choc-a-bloc with all the shops necessary for baby-boomer parents-small independent shops and businesses, now all gone--all but one barbershop.

In two generations, small entrepreneurs, once the backbone of America business, have disappeared.

More than that, the good, old work ethic has been swept away as well.

Up and down those blocks were large houses of large families of children of Catholic and Lutheran parents, playing ball, swimming in the local pool, now gone, going in and out of each others' houses and walking to school.

That middle class and lower middle class groupings have contracepted themselves into extinction.

Churches have been decimated and at most daily Masses, I am one of the youngest in the pews, at 66!

The frenetic seeking for comfort has destroyed the middle and lower middle class ability to wait until one has the money to buy something, to put children before goods, to be content with small.

Catholics wanted to be Americans first and Catholics second--this lack of family life and the lack of a cohesive communities are results.

Bargain hunting is now the main entertainment for many people....and garage sales sell things people have bought in knee-jerk compulsive buying.  When I speak to people about frugality or simplicity of life, except for the few, most do not understand the language of temperance.

Less is more. But, the middle class has forgotten this. This class will be forgotten in the future, as a failed experiment growing out of the prosperity and new trade, family banking systems and businesses of the great boom of the birth of the bourgeoisie.

This demographic change will affect the Catholic Church, which historically in America, was made up of the lower middle class and the lower upper classes, not the middle class until the 20th century.

We were a Church of the poor and the wealthy who knew what noblesse oblige was all about. That concept went the way of gross greed and gross capitalism based on gross individualism.

Result: an underclass stuck dependent on the socialist system the Founding Fathers never dreamed of and would decry; and the institutionalized greed of the mega-wealthy.

I shall not see this future of master and slaves, as the process will escalate only after many other changes, which will give power to the few who have been planning this destruction of Christian lifestyles, but this cultural scenario has all happened before in pagan times. Now, that we are in the great time of the Neo-Pagans, one cannot expect either a work ethic or noblesse oblige.

The Church keeps us from the worst errors a civilization can endure and still continue. Without the Church, no family is protected, children are not protected, women are not protected, and the general communal spirit which brings people to work together in simplicity and sharing falls away, decays, and dies.

"See how they love one another" cannot merely be a dream but a reality in the face of the shock of the future, to make a pun out of a famous book.

God will allow us all to be purged of sins, all sins, and purified. Thanks be to God for these times in which we live, but saints are more necessary than ever.

My view of the future of the Church is that God will raise us mighty saints in these times-men like Bernard, Dominic, and Benedict, and women like Etheldreda, Mechthild, Catherine.

I may not see these great saints, but for the Church to survive in the future, families could be these great souls for the benefit of the universal Church.

Exciting but trying times ahead. From today's Lauds:

Habakkuk 3

The Lord will appear in judgement

In spite of your anger, Lord, have compassion.
Lord, I heard what you gave me to hear,
and I was struck with awe of your work.
In the midst of the years, bring it to life;
in the midst of the years you will make it known.
When you are angry, you will remember your mercy.
God will come from Theman,
the holy one from the mountain of Pharan.
His glory has covered the heavens
and the earth is full of his praise.
His brightness shall be like light itself,
rays shining from his hands –
there is his strength hidden.
You went forth for the salvation of the people,
for salvation with your anointed one.
You made a way through the sea for your horses,
in the silt of many waters.
I have heard you, Lord,
and my stomach churns within me;
at the sound of your voice my lips tremble.
My bones rot away, my steps stumble.
I will rest and be quiet on the day of tribulation
and let it overtake those who have invaded us.
For the fig will not flower,
the vines will not fruit,
the work of the olive will be lost.
The fields will yield no food,
the flocks will be cut off from the sheepfold,
there will be no cattle in the stalls.
But I will rejoice in the Lord, take joy in God my saviour.
The Lord God is my strength.
He will make me as sure-footed as the deer.
He will lead me up to the heights.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
In spite of your anger, Lord, have compassion.

The Spirit of Malice and The Party Spirit

This post is divided as it is about division.

Some of these thoughts were incorporate into two other posts, one on another blog in years past.

In the first part, I highlight what I call the Spirit of Malice.

The society is seeing an explosion of malice outside and inside the Church. For years, malice has been subtle and underground, but now, it is obvious and terribly nasty. What is malice? Malice is the intention to do evil on purpose. Those who fall into the habit of malice reveal a will which is always inclined towards evil.

This evil can exhibit itself in words, actions, thoughts through the will, and not through passion. A malicious person chooses to do a certain evil. That person is not acting out of the emotions, the passions. Thomas Aquinas explains this for us.

One can see how despicable this sin is. It is a willed habit. Aquinas states that the sin comes from either a corruption within the person; in other words, the sin "presupposes some inordinateness"; or through habit; but malicious becomes a habit of the will.

Signs of malice can be multiple. Have you ever met a person who constantly is negative, who undermines other people on a regular basis, who is constantly finding fault? Have you ever met someone who thinks mean practical jokes are funny, or destroying someone's reputation a game? Have you ever met someone who simply hates everyone and delights in slander, calumny, gossip? Have you met someone who purposefully wants to hurt others, manipulate them, make them suffer?

These are malicious people. Sometimes someone will say to me, "I really do not like being around this person because she carries a cloud around with her and dampens joy and positive attitudes in others."

That is a good description of the sin of malice.

Or, someone will say, "I get the feeling this person is not real in his liking of me, but that he is waiting to hurt me somehow."

That is another good description of malice.

Of course, Catholics know who the Father of Malice is , the Father of Lies, a Liar from the his first and only sin against God-Satan.

One cannot choose to be friends with persons who are addicted to being malicious unless one is patient and kind. And, this is not necessarily good for a person on one's own. It is not healthy to be around malicious people, as they are living in a powerfully negative world and desire to bring other's down into their hells, which they have created. Pray for such people if you must deal with them at work or in the family. Kindness is a good Christian virtue to combat malice.

Here is Garrigou-Lagrange on the sin of malice, which is a bit of a repetition from the perfection series, but helpful here again.

In contradistinction to the sin of ignorance and that of frailty, the sin of malice is that by which one chooses evil knowingly. In Latin it is called a sin de industria, that is, a sin committed with deliberate calculation, design, and express intention, free from ignorance and even from antecedent passion. The sin of malice is often premeditated. This is not equivalent to saying that evil is willed for the sake of evil; since the adequate object of the will is the good, it can will evil only under the aspect of an apparent good.
Now he who sins through malice, acting with full knowledge of the case and through evil will, knowingly wills a spiritual evil (for example, the loss of charity or divine friendship) in order to possess a temporal good. It is clear that this sin thus defined differs in the degree of gravity from the sin of ignorance and that of frailty. But we must not conclude from this that every sin of malice is a sin against the Holy Ghost. This last sin is one of the gravest of the sins of malice. It is produced when a man rejects through contempt the very thing that would save him or deliver him from evil: for example, when he combats recognized religious truth, or when by reason of jealousy, he deliberately grows sad over the graces and spiritual progress of his neighbor.
The sin of malice often proceeds from a vice engendered by multiple faults; but it can exist even in the absence of this vice. It is thus that the first sin of the devil was a sin of malice, not of habitual malice but of actual malice, of evil will, of an intoxication of pride.
It is clear that the sin of malice is graver than the sins of ignorance and frailty, although these last are sometimes mortal. This explains why human laws inflict greater punishment for premeditated murder than for that committed through passion.
The greatest gravity of the sins of malice comes from the fact that they are more voluntary than the others, from the fact that they generally proceed from a vice engendered by repeated sins, and from the fact that by them man knowingly prefers a temporal good to the divine friendship, without the partial excuse of a certain ignorance or of a strong passion.
In these questions one may err in two ways that are contradictory to each other. Some lean to the opinion that only the sin of malice can be mortal; they do not see with sufficient clearness the gravity of certain sins of voluntary ignorance and of certain sins of frailty, in which, nevertheless, there is serious matter, sufficient advertence, and full consent.
Others, on the contrary, do not see clearly enough the gravity of certain sins of malice committed in cold blood, with an affected moderation and a pretense of good will or of tolerance. Those who thus combat the true religion and take away from children the bread of divine truth may be sinning more gravely than he who blasphemes and kills someone under the impulse of anger.
Sin is so much the more grave as it is more voluntary, as it is committed with greater light and proceeds from a more inordinate love of self, which sometimes even goes so far as contempt of God. On the other hand, a virtuous act is more or less meritorious according as it is more voluntary, more free, and as it is inspired by a greater love of God and neighbor, a love that may even reach holy contempt of self, as St. Augustine says.

Thus he who prays with too great attachment to sensible consolation merits less than he who perseveres in prayer in a continual and profound aridity without any consolation. But on emerging from this trial, his merit does not grow less if his prayer proceeds from an equal degree of charity which now has a happy reaction on his sensibility. It is still true that one interior act of pure love is of greater value in the eyes of God than many exterior works inspired by a lesser charity.
In all these questions, whether good or evil is involved, particular attention must be paid to what proceeds from our higher faculties, the intellect and will: that is, to the act of the will following full knowledge of the case. And, from this point of view, if an evil act committed with full deliberation and consent, like a formal pact with the devil, has formidable consequences, a good act, such as the oblation of self to God, made with full deliberation and consent and frequently renewed, can have even greater consequences in the order of good; for the Holy Ghost is of a certainty infinitely more powerful than the spirit of evil, and He can do more for our sanctification than the latter can for our ruin. It is well to think of this in the face of the gravity of certain present-day events. The love of Christ, dying on the cross for us, pleased God more than all sins taken together displeased Him; so the Savior is more powerful to save us than the enemy of good is to destroy us. With this meaning, Christ said: "Fear ye not them that kill the body and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell." (28) Unless we open the door of our hearts to him, the enemy of good cannot penetrate into the sanctuary of our will, whereas God is closer to us than we are to ourselves and can lead us strongly and sweetly to the most profound and elevated meritorious free acts, to acts that are the prelude of eternal life.

Malice leads to divisiveness in a community, to the party spirit in a church.

The "party spirit" has nothing to do with balloons or cake.

Few Catholics understand what the “party spirit” is and how it comes about. Factions have been within the Church since day one. St. Paul refers to such in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, in Roman 12: 9-21 and Romans 14: 1-12.

St. Paul tells us that the party spirit is a spirit, or demon, of division. Divisiveness is never from God within the Church. Divisiveness is not the same as criticism, which should include positive solutions to problems.

For example, one may criticize a catechetical program in a church, but not offer to find alternatives which may be better or teach. Those who judge and criticize merely to stir up trouble build the doorway for the party spirit.

Divisiveness usually means three things. Firstly, that a lack of charity and forbearance has crept into a parish or a group. This lack of charity comes from concentrating on people’s sins and failings, rather than encouraging their good points.

Secondly, egotism, which rears its hydra head, creates division. Egotism must be heard, seen and is in everybody’s face. Egotism is not humble ever and defends itself constantly.

Thirdly, the seeking for power creates a party spirit. To the extreme, this seeking of power creates entirely new churches, such as the four churches found in the 1960s on one corner in my home town, all split-offs from the other. Division caused confusion, anger, even hatred.

In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, St. Paul tells us where the party spirit comes from.

“But understand this, that in the last days, there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self, love of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, loves of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. Avoid such people.”

The last phrase must include the discernment to know when to avoid and when to correct.
Avoiding means not being friends with those who are untrustworthy of the Gospel of the Lord. Avoiding means that if one does not avoid slanderers or the abusive or the arrogant, on becomes like them and loses the gifts of discernment, temperance, and prudence.

We do not have to win every battle and even fight every battle in the Church. Some battles require great holiness and purity of heart. Some require patience and intense prayer and fasting.

How does one avoid strife in groups? St. Paul has the answer, “Put on then, God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience, forbearing one another, and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving one another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all of these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”Colossians 3:12-15

One must find peace within one’s self in order to spread peace and only those who have found peace, through meekness to God can truly stay away from unnecessary conflicts.

Grieving the Holy Spirit, another one of Paul’s inspirations, comes about when people engage and encourage, wrath, anger, bitterness, clamor, and slander. See Ephesians 4: 25-32 on these points.

If one reads all the epistles, one finds the theme of communal harmony is almost in each one. If St. Paul had to address divisiveness over and over, one can see that it can be a persistent problem.
I cannot refer to all the passages on this theme, but list a few ways to avoid divisiveness in the Church, in our parishes, in our communities, in our families, and so on.

One, look to one’s own sins in humility and truth. If one sees the horribleness of one’s own weaknesses and failings, one cannot judge nor cause dissension by pointing to another’s faults.

Two, think on Christ and not on one’s self. If one is truly in love with Christ, the Bridegroom, one supernaturally wants to love His brothers and sisters and find creative ways to show this love.

Three, forgiveness covers a multitude of sins and failings. To forgive is to forget, which some priests do not teach. I would hope people in my life forgive and forget instead of constantly saying a litany of my faults to me. This concentration on negativity rises from unforgiveness and even hatred. The negative litany destroys community.

Four, egotism must go. The rule of the saints and the great teachers on purity of heart, mind and soul tell us that the ego stands between us and God, between us and His Perfect Will in our lives, between us and the community, between us and eternity. If the ego is not destroyed, we shall not see God after our particular judgment as we have chosen our self-will over Him.

Lastly, egotism and narcissism constantly fall back on talking about one’s self and one’s grievances. As we say here in Iowa, “Get over it, he (or she) is not that into you.” I have discovered that really most people are truly not interested in me, but only in themselves. This should be a freeing experience of grace, enabling one to concentrate on God and not one’s self.

St. Paul wraps up this discussion so poignantly: “I hear that there are divisions among you ; and I partly believe it, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.”

The genuine are not those who cause the factions, but the Truth of the Gospel itself causes factions-however, we can teach, preach, instruct, but never judge. “For if we judge ourselves truly, we should not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are chastened, so that we may not be condemned along with the world.”

The genuine are those who allow God to purify them and those who cling to the orthodoxy of the Church in all things.

The Wrong Focus

Years ago, I told a seminarian not to confuse politics with religion. I was warning him of a pitfall that many priests fell into during the past sixty years--believing that politics can "save" people.

Liberation theology would be an extreme example of this idea that political actions trump doctrine, or traditional religious practice. Or thinking that prayer cannot change events, people, even history.

We are now in a pagan society and most likely, we shall most likely not be able change the slide into further paganism of the West. 

While we do not have to dwell on the savage movement of Godlessness in our countries, we should not give up on praying for God to intervene.

We have to respond and follow the Mind of Christ, which is expressed in the Church, but we do not have to figure out ways to deal with arguments or discussion until these happen. Too many people are becoming obsessed with sin and are not obsessed with God.

Wrong focus....

Depression comes from concentrating on the negative. Joy comes from embracing suffering and becoming closer to Christ.

Confidence in God must transcend the horror of sin in the world. To doubt Divine Providence is actually an insult to God.

Believing in Divine Providence must not include a denial of suffering. Believing in Divine Providence is not a "pie in the sky" attitude.

A belief in Divine Providence does not ignore reality. A trust in Divine Providence demands a great humility.

Here is a list which is a holiness check list. Here is my St. Paul list of coming to understand that God is in control, not me.

Garrigou-Lagrange makes it clear that trusting in Divine Providence means that the secret, hidden meaning behind “hindrances, contradictions, reverses, disappointments, misfortunes, and failures” which may involve either the disorder in our own lives or in that of others, are all for a higher purpose in God’s perfect and permissive wills.

The Dominican refers to these as part of “providential schooling”.

Years ago, when something “bad” happened, I began to ask God this question, “What do you want me to learn from this, O Lord?”

Now, I frequently have the answer immediately. Something which exercises my patience, and if for my good, is allowed by God.

I made up this check list for those who have a tendency to only see the negative and who fall into complaining, which are clear signs of a political mind and not a disposition of trusting in Divine Providence.

1)      If I am ill, do I complain at what is not being done, or am I patient and submissive?

2)      If someone makes a snide or unkind comment, do I get angry or try to understand the other person’s upset? Do I realize I deserve the unkindnesses for my sins?

3)      If a bank or billing company makes an error, do I patiently explain the mistake, or do I get angry and snippy? Do I realize that people are no longer trained to be efficient or careful? Do I feel for this lost generation, who have been cheated by inferior schooling?

4)      If someone is late for a meeting, do I go with the flow and try to understand the situation? Do I really know that my time is not more important than theirs?

5)      If someone is continually unkind to me, do I forgive immediately and constantly? Do I respond in love and not judgment, knowing God forgives me constantly?

6)      Am I aware that a contradiction lies behind my responses and the seeming way to perfection? Do I see that my responses point to my predominant fault?

7)      Do I use bad and stressful situations for opportunities for prayer? For example, I do not have a car, so when I wait for a bus or ride, I say the rosary.

8)      Do I ask God to remove critical and judgmental language or even thoughts from my memory, understanding and ask specifically for purification of the mind? Do I judge myself, which is also sinful?

9)      Do I let people make mistakes instead of being a control freak? Do I let go of things, events, people, in the daily course of my life? Do I respond in spontaneity and goodness?

10)  Am I patient with others who have never experienced illness, poverty, degradation and cannot understand the way of purification? Do I pray for the right words to help them to understand?

This is my list. What is interesting in Garrigou-Lagrange on the duty of the moment is that he writes that grace is sometimes a destroyer. Yes, I have learned this. He notes, “…yet it its workings within us, it does not destroy, but perfects any good there is in nature, restoring and sublimating it. We may say of grace as was said of God: ‘It killeth and maketh alive’ (1 Kings 2:6)

I “grew up” on Pere de Caussade. My favorite book in graduate school was Abandonment to Divine Providence. I think I still have the original copy I bought years ago, about 1979, or so in an old, used book store.

God was guiding me even then, but I was not paying attention as I am now. I had so many things to do. I remember reading this book on a hot summer’s day at Notre Dame, the campus all green and quieter, as summer school had less students and less activity. The old, venerable book showed me that the daily routine of my life was sacred, every moment was sacred. The Present Moment is all we have, as de Caussade  taught me. The past was gone and the future totally in the Hands of God.

Garrigou-Lagrange writes this, which is connected to de Caussade’s direction: “In the spiritual order more than anywhere else real knowledge can be acquired only by suffering and action. Though our Lord’s holy soul form the moment of His coming into the world enjoyed the beatific vision and an infused knowledge, yet He willed also to have an experiential knowledge which is acquired day by day and enables us to view things under that special aspect which contact with reality gives when they have been infallibly foreseen.”

Trusting in Divine Providence is the lesson of denial of self. For some of us, this is done directly by God. If I merely complain and murmur, I would miss the lessons. I would try to control the situation by looking for alternatives, even inconveniencing ones. That is not the lesson God wants me to learn through these things.

Garrigou-Lagrange writes, “This is the school of the Holy Ghost, in which His lessons have nothing academic about them, but are drawn from concrete things. And He varies them for each soul, since what is useful for one is not always so for another. …let us in all simplicity listen to what Providence has to say to each one of us personally in these concrete lessons it gives. We must not treat this doctrine in a purely material and mechanical way: it is a question of being supernaturally-minded in everything, in all simplicity and without disputings or foolish questionings.”

Yes, we must act and continue to work for change, work hard for the Kingdom of God on earth. But, we must underline all our actions with deep, reflective prayer.

Prayer creates holiness which will attract those who have fallen into paganism. "See how they love one another" needs to be our focus. And this state of love is only possible when we each have a relation with Christ, and let God be God in our lives. Trusting in Providence reveals or is a sign of our love for God, even in times of severe trial.

Sometimes, as St. Therese writes, love is not felt; there is “unfelt love”.  De Caussade writes, “O unknown Love! …no one sees that Your inexhaustible activity is a source of new thoughts, of fresh sufferings, and further action…of new saints.”

Rest in the unfelt love. When one waits, love comes.

I have written somewhat on infused contemplation, also called passive contemplation. This is a high state for proficients. This is not the same, as I have repeated many, many times, as meditation or active contemplation.

Again, the prayer of simplicity is a prayer for active contemplation moving into infused or passive contemplation. Simplicity is simply looking at Christ, the glance to the Cross, or the reflection on the Attributes.

Again, know that different authors call the stages of prayer by different names. Most of us can do meditation of the Scriptures, the Life of Christ. Most of us can think on the Attributes of God in active contemplation.

I wrote on the connection between prayer and Divine Providence from Garrigou-Lagrange’s book. Today, I want to repeat a few of the ideas in order to tie together the idea of prayer and self-abandonment to God.

The Dominican notes that “Prayer is not our invention.” We are inspired to pray by God and from all eternity He knew and willed our prayers. When we pray, if we have allowed God to purify our intentions, our hearts, minds, wills, we are praying in the will of God.

This is a repeat but an important one, “True prayer, prayer offered with the requisite conditions, is infallibly efficacious because God has decreed that it shall be so, and God cannot revoke what He had once decreed. It is not only what comes to pass that has been foreseen and intended (or at any rate permitted) by a providential decree, but the manner in which it comes to pass, the causes that bring about the event, the means by which the end is attained.”

Providence desired a certain effect and our prayer is part of that. If we are purified, and to the extent that we are purified, our prayers are answered.

All self-abandonment opens us up to efficacious prayer. If there is too much egotism, too much self-interest and not real self-abandonment, our prayers will not be answered, or, at least, delayed. But, God also tests our faith, our perseverance. In real prayer, our wills are lifted up, states Garrigou-Lagrange, to cooperate with the will of God.

We begin to will what God wills. How wonderful, how freeing this is.

Why is a saint canonized when a prayer or prayers are answered? Because this shows the Church that prayer in the will of God is more powerful than science or disease, or trauma.

Garrigou-Lagrange writes: “It is a spiritual energy more potent than all the forces of nature together. It can obtain for us what God alone can bestow, the grace of contrition and of perfect charity, the grace also of eternal life, the very end and purpose of the divine governance, the final manifestation of its goodness.”

"God never permits evil except in view of some greater good. He wills that we co-operate in this good by a prayer that become daily more sincere, more humble, more profound, more confident, more persevering, by a prayer united with action, in order that each succeeding day shall see more perfectly realized in us an din those about us that petition of Our Father: ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’”

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