Catholic

Especially relevant to the Roman Catholic Church

The worst thing about being Catholic is…

division amongst Catholics. I hate it. And the worst of the worst is when those who are fostering this division are priests or religious or even bishops.

Not that we have to agree on everything. Or even to tolerate everything – heresy and sin are very real. But when we see uncharitable speech and interpretations between Catholics, we should immediately recognise that the devil is at work.

If someone says or does something that might be interpreted badly, try to find the most charitable interpretation, until you can clarify with them. If you can’t find a good interpretation, assume good intentions, and try to correct your brother or sister. If you can’t do this, pray for their conversion.

If someone is accused of a sin or crime, consider them innocent until proven guilty (unless you are a prosecutor, in which case you must play devil’s advocate). Do not pass rash judgment.

The Catholic media is terrible for this. Whenever they do this, they are just following the pattern of the world’s journalism. I have largely abandoned Catholic news media as a result. It is bad for the soul.

The fact is, these people are attacking the Church – attacking Christ Himself. It is a grave sin.

Catholics & Orthodox fighting at the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

I have probably done this more than I am aware. It is very easy to judge and accuse and divide. Thinking about it, I have probably done this more to non-Catholics, and it is wrong no matter who is the target. Especially when talking politics, I often use very harsh words. I think I’ll have to mention this in my next confession…

I expect most people don’t fully realise what they are doing when they foster divisions in this way. It isn’t natural, being a Christian. I recommend we follow the rule, to always pray for a person twice as much as we criticise them, in time and in effort.

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all…
Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds.

-Ephesians 4:1-6, 17

God bless you!

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The Foolishness of the Cross

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of speech, lest the cross of Christ should be made void. [1 Cor 1:17]

I’ve been meditating on this passage lately (and the rest of the chapter too). I consider myself a bit of a philosopher, so I have found this a little challenging. The cross cannot be made sense of by our philosophies. But in that case, how can we make sense of the cross?

We can’t. The cross cannot be made sense of, because it is pure revelation. It will make sense of everything else, but nothing will ever make sense of the cross. It is a new light, the Lumen Fidei, and nothing else can possibly illuminate this light brighter than light. It must be accepted or rejected in and of itself.

We know the great truth, that Jesus Christ died for love of us, and love of the Father, and for the Father’s love for us. And we could not possibly arrive at this if it were not given to us. That God would die for sinners is insanity, and nothing less. Divine love follows a logic that is illogical to the world.

Every attempt to explain the cross within a reasonable system will be a denial of the cross. All we can do allow the cross, the revelation of Love, to reveal itself to us, and everything else with it.

For this reason, Christians will always be aliens in the world. We will use a different logic. We will speak a foreign language – the language of the cross. Our lives will be upside down. If not, we are not Christians. We must be mad, just as our crucified God is madness itself, and the world will be astounded.

(drawing by St John of the Cross)

And time after time, we will see the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ revealed in our flesh.

God bless you!

What is a Saint?

A Saint is a sinner who realises God’s love for them. I.e. God’s love becomes a reality for them and in them. It is made real in them. His love is their reality.

We are all loved by God, however bad we are, however religious we are, however successful we are, and even however “holy” we are. The only difference in the Saints, is that they realise how loved, how truly holy, every one of us is. They are enlightened by the truth of the gospel, and made radiant by that same truth living in them.

A Saint is not good in or of themselves. Their only goodness is the free love of God, moving through them like the wind. They hold no goodness of their own, but let His good gifts come via them. They are immersed in living waters, never stagnant.

The Saint is a sinner who is simply who they are. They are no one else and nothing more. They are this fully, because they are loved as this and loved into this, and so are this in perfect freedom.

The Saint is a sinner who stops trying. Stops trying to impress, to make their own way through life, to earn happiness or love. Even stops trying to achieve salvation. They abandon all this, because they know their Father will provide everything.

A Saint is a sinner who never stops trying. They never stop trying to please God, because they know His love, and know that He will give them the victory. They have no care to earn heaven, and for this very reason, have every desire to express it.

Ladies and gentlemen, stop wasting your lives and abandon yourselves completely to His merciful love! Are you unworthy? Are you too sinful? He died on a cross for love of you in your entirety, sin and all! Nothing is greater than His love for you. Nothing in heaven or on earth or under the earth can keep you from His love for you. What are you waiting for?!

(you don’t have to look this cool to be a Saint, but it doesn’t hurt either ;)

God bless you

Each thing is destined for its own fulfillment

Each thing is destined for its own fulfillment.

This occurred to me recently, for some reason. Seeds are destined to become plants. Children are destined to become adults. Food is destined to be eaten.

But my statement is self-evident. Of course everything tends towards its end, that’s why it is its end. The two parts of the statement are defined by each other.

Yet this only deepens its meaning, I feel. Everything contains within itself, exists according to, and tends towards its own essential principle. It is what it is. It reminds me of the meaning of the divine name, ‘I Am That I Am’ or, ‘I Will Be Who I Will Be’.

The river flows towards the ocean. The child grows into an adult. The seed becomes a tree. That is what it is, what it does, and what it will be.

In each case we can also note that the end is also the origin. It is from its origin, and so to be according to itself is to be according to its origin, and to tend to itself is to tend to its origin. It is contained by its origin, and its origin is contained within it.

And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.‘ – T. S. Elliot

Ultimately, God is the first origin and final end of all things. And in each thing being and becoming itself, it tends towards God Himself. The whole cosmos is heading towards its fulfillment in God. As St Paul wrote,

‘He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.’ [Colossians 1:15-20]

And,

‘For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now’ [Romans 8:19-22]

And again,

‘When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.’ [Corinthians 15:28]

God bless!

Standing in a waterfall, looking up

He is a waterfall.

He empties Himself every moment,

and is superabundantly full.

He is high up above,

and He is drilling to the depths.

He is always in motion,

always a gift.

He falls down,

and He bursts out.

He is the living water.

Who are we?

We are standing in the waterfall

looking up

and losing ourselves,

drowned under the current.

‘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

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 🙂. 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