Catholic

Especially relevant to the Roman Catholic Church

‘God descends into thee forever’

​O Lady, Our Lord has become our brother and our Savior.

Like the flame in the burning bush, and the dew in the fleece: the Word of

God descends into thee forever.

The Holy Spirit hath made thee fruitful: the power of the Most High hath overshadowed thee.

Blessed be thy most pure conception: blessed be thy virginal bringing forth.

Blessed be the purity of thy body: blessed be the sweetness of the mercy of thy heart.

Glory be to the Father, etc.

-St. Bonaventure, Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Psalm 8

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I am not the Christ

‘And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to him, to ask him: Who art thou? And he confessed and did not deny: and he confessed: I am not the Christ.’
[Jn 1:19–20 (D-R)]

John the Baptist’s self identity was simply ‘I am not the Christ.’ Who are you? Not the Christ.

There is a strong human tendency to believe that I am the Christ, and it is expressed in the most materialistic and most “spiritual” tendencies of humanity. I think as if I am the solution/saviour of the world.

I am not the Christ.

I suppose I have to do it myself, figure out the problems, answer the questions, heal the wounds. Either because I am so very good and holy, or because I am all we’ve got. Either way, it is the same essential pride.

I am not the Christ.

I am not the solution. I am not the answer. I am not the saviour.

I am not the Christ.

The truth is, I am the problem; I am the question; I am the… savee? [is there a word for one in need of saving?]

Jesus is the Christ, and I am the one in need of the Christ.

Because I am the problem, I will be solved. Because I am the question, I will be answered. Because I mourn, I will laugh. Because I am poor, I will be rich. Because I am not the Christ, I can receive the Christ entirely.

I am not the Christ.

This is what Christian holiness is. It is an absolute refusal to look to our own strength, wisdom, or goodness, which are each less than nothing, and instead abandoning ourselves entirely to God. He alone is our strength, our wisdom, and our goodness.

We are united to Him, because we are not Him. If we are not Him, we will be One with Him, as the Father and the Son are One. If we are Him, we will be utterly apart from Him.

Who am I? I am not the Christ.

God bless you.

The Experience Machine, the Nature of Reality, and God

Have you heard the thought experiment of The Experience Machine? If not, it’s roughly as follows:

Imagine there exists a machine, such that when you enter it, you experience a perfect universe. Everything you desire, is there. A personalised universe designed to make you as perfectly happy as it’s possible to be. Would you enter? Would you ever leave?

I think leaving would be the right choice. We ought to choose reality with suffering over happy illusions.

But I’m trying to pin down why the virtual reality of the machine is less real, and also less good, than the world outside it, and it’s not so clear to me. It feels real. Yes, it’s not physically real, but what’s the difference between our physical world and the virtual world, that behaves the same?

The best I’ve come up with so far, is this: reality doesn’t revolve around me. It lies outside of me, and isn’t dependent upon my will. It has a life of its own.

And this is infinitely better. Why? Because it makes communion, love and graciousness possible. The machine can provide every pleasure, but not these things, which make life life. The beauty of life is in being intruded on by the Other, giving ourselves to the Other, and both creating/becoming something new as a result. It’s sex, as opposed to masturbation. It’s the Trinity as opposed to the monad.

My questions seem to have found their answers πŸ™‚. Even my next question, which I will share anyway.

If reality is outside of my power, is nothing real for God? Is God alone in an experience machine?

The answer is, that God is Trinity. God is the Lover, the Beloved, and the Fountain of Love between the two, and all three exist only in and as this Love. They do not exist, then love, or exist, then be loved. They love and are beloved and conceive love, from all eternity, and this is what God is.

May God bless you, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

The Gospel in the Altar Rail

The altar rail separates the congregation from the Sanctuary, symbolising our sin, separating us from Heaven and from God. The holy place is on that side, and we’re stuck on this side, able to look but not enter.

But the altar rail also stands for Christ Himself, who for our sake became sin. As the altar rail stands in the middle, as both sanctuary and nave, and the meeting point between them, so Christ, in becoming our sin, has made it the meeting point of heaven and earth.

And it’s at this meeting point that we come, right to the threshold of Heaven, to kneel down, receive God Himself into us, and take Him out into the world.

God bless you!

One great thing about praying to the Saints

is that I don’t need to pray well, or pray right, or pray holily, because there’s someone else who I know can and will do it for me. My prayers don’t need to be anything special, because I’m not relying on myself.

This is how all prayer should be: trusting the One who hears our prayers, and not the one who says them, or how they are said. The annoying thing is, when I try to do this, all too often I try to pray well, by trying not to try–stupid, right? Hopefully, as I learn more of God’s goodness, I’ll look less and less to myself and more and more to God.

It’s a fantastic thing, knowing that you’re part of the communion of the saints, and that there’s a whole army of angels and saints who always have your back. We never walk alone. We always have others to rely on.

I think God gives us the saints like He gave us Jesus, because we tend towards fearing and hiding from God, not trusting His merciful love. Saints can understand me, so I can trust them not to judge me. God is even better than His saints, but He reveals this through them, letting them incarnate His mercy.

God bless you!

Books that deserve a standing ovation pt1

I’m always looking for the best book for me to read next, so I thought I’d “do unto others” and share my top book recommendations. I figured the best way to distinguish the cream of the crop, is the standard of giving a standing ovation (if the book were a play…) I’ve made a rough list of about 17 so far, but I’ll share them bit by bit, in no particular order.

Ilia Delio, Making All Things Whole: Catholicity, Cosmology, Consciousness

This is a genuinely extraordinary book… It has transformed my ideas of Catholicism and the whole universe. I wish that I could explain it, but it’s just too much. It touches on some crazy ideas from science, and I guess is perhaps the beginning of a new Christian Cosmology, that’s been largely lacking ever since Galileo and Newton destroyed the mediaeval Cosmology. But it’s more than that… It’s a renewed Christological Cosmology and a Cosmological Christology.

Bonaventure – The Major Life of St Francis

Nothing has made the gospel seem so clear to me as the life of St Francis, and this book especially. Bonaventure uses Francis’ life to teach us the ways and power of true holiness and virtue, and shows us St Francis in his uncompromised madness. St Francis is fairly called a “second Christ”.

St Therese of Lisieux – The Story of a Soul

This is possibly my favourite book of all. St Therese’s life is, on the face of it, very boring. In terms of events, there’s very little of significance. But what it has, is an extraordinary relationship of total surrender to God’s merciful love. This book teaches the true way of salvation, not by our own strength, but entirely by God’s merciful love.

And once you’ve read this, read My Sister Saint Therese, by the saint’s sister Celine. It’s a collection of recollections, that show Therese from another angle, from someone so close to her.

Let me know your thoughts if you’ve read any of these, and or any books that you’d give a standing ovation.

God bless!

God loves sinners

God loves sinners.

I think this is a lot easier to accept when the sinner in question isn’t myself. When I’m the sinner, I find it impossible to accept that God really loves me, and can’t help hiding from God and trying to earn my way back into His good graces. Which I also know I can’t do.

Basically, God has to batter me down with His tenderness, to accept His merciful love. It’s impossible for me, but not for Him. The most I can do is ask Him to do this.

When we sin, we are in a state of sin, and live by the logic of sin, which is entirely incapable of understanding God’s grace and mercy. We think God is like us, judging and measuring up and seeking to exploit his friends and crush his enemies. Like Adam and Eve, we hide from God, because love doesn’t make sense to us.

Somehow God breaks through. I am put in His presence, and His merciful love breaks me down. In fact, it crucifies me. The heart of stone is shattered, and I’m set free, made alive again.

But it’s not about becoming “righteous”… In fact, I think that when I’m no longer the sinner that’s being crucified by His merciful love, I’m back in the logic of sin, and will soon commit a sin that makes that clear. Christian holiness is God’s own life in an unworthy sinner, and once we’re “worthy”, we’ve kicked Him out.

Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen

Woman as antithesis of man

Then the Lord God said, β€˜It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’
Genesis 2:18

This passage got me thinking.

It cannot be that it means each woman is merely an assistant to her man, even if she is a partner. That is just obviously not the true destiny of a woman. Women are not merely there for men’s needs, on any level.

It is more true that women help men in their joint destiny. But men clearly help women also. Yet Genesis 2 has a clear asymmetry that still needs to be accounted for.

I would like to suggest that, borrowing Hegel’s dialectic, woman is the antithesis of man. That is, woman presents a contrary, and in ways contradictory, force to the thesis that is man, and yet the two are destined to come together to form a synthesis. Is the antithesis necessarily another thesis? I don’t believe so. It seems to me that in the history of thought it is more of a contrary reality.

We can consider this in procreation; how man provides a first living principle, and woman provides a second living principle that receives and transforms the first, to create a third.

We might also consider the Church, the bride of Christ. The Holy one meets the unholy, and forms the synthesis of salvation, the mystery of the Holyunholy. We must receive the mystery of Christ dynamically, with all that we are, in order to bring to birth the New Man.

Let me know what you think in the comments. God bless!