Misc.

Various bits and bobs

Quotes…

‘This paradigm leads people to believe that they are free as long as they have the supposed freedom to consume. But those really free are the minority who wield economic and financial power.’
Pope Francis (Laudato Si n. 203)

‘It seems to me that an unjust law is no law at all.’
St. Augustine of Hippo

‘Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.’
St. Augustine of Hippo

‘By faithfulness we are collected and wound up into unity within ourselves, whereas we had been scattered abroad in multiplicity.’
St. Augustine of Hippo

‘God is best known in not knowing him.’
St. Augustine of Hippo

‘We must not think that these efforts are not going to change the world. They benefit society, often unbeknown to us, for they call forth a goodness which, albeit unseen, inevitably tends to spread. Furthermore, such actions can restore our sense of self-esteem; they can enable us to live more fully and to feel that life on earth is worthwhile.’
Pope Francis (Laudato Si n. 212)

‘Let us behave like the drunkard who doesn’t think of himself but only of the wine he has drunk and of the wine that remains to be drunk.’
St. Catherine of Siena (with regard to how we should enjoy God)

‘The soul is in some way all things.’
Aristotle

‘This is a subtle truth. Whatever you love, you are.’
Rumi

‘Never am I less alone than when alone.’
St. Bernard

‘To be attracted by power, by grandeur, by appearances, is tragically human. It is a great temptation that tries to insinuate itself everywhere. But to give oneself to others, eliminating distances, dwelling in littleness and living the reality of one’s everyday life: this is exquisitely divine.’
Pope Francis


‘To claim the right to abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others and against others.’
St. John Paul II (Evangelium Vitae n. 20)

‘When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a Communist.’
Dom Hélder Camara

‘Many people are talking about the poor, but very few people talk to the poor.’
Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

‘The deepest essence of love is self-giving.’
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

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I want to give you something beautiful

I want to give you something beautiful.

And I want to watch as its beauty enters your soul.

I want to see it spread as it begins taking over your body.

I’ve had different glimpses of beauty in different places,

now I want to see what this one will look like in you.

.

But beauty is elusive like a rabbit.

.

When I chase it, it runs. When I grasp it, it crumbles.

It is not mine, and never will be.

But sometimes, if I sit still…

and keep myself from desire…

It just might choose to wander up to me.

.

And if I still remain still

…It might just attack me.

.

It might joyfully consume me, and take me for Its own.

To be eaten by Beauty, digested and then built into Its bones…

Is this not the dream?

And then being no longer me, but Beauty,

I may wander up to you…

Who knows? I just might attack

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God bless you!

Even more new quotes

I’ve added these quotes to the quotes page, and I’m sharing them in this post because I doubt you want to regularly check it for new quotes. Enjoy :)

‘Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.’
Theodore Roosevelt

‘We cannot be sure of having something to live for unless we are willing to die for it.’
Che Guevara

‘Cruel leaders are replaced only to have new leaders turn cruel!’
Che Guevara

 

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‘The wound is the place where the light enters you.’
Rumi

‘Love is the bridge between you and everything.’
Rumi

‘A physicist is just an atom’s way of looking at itself.’
Neils Bohr

‘Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.’
Albert Einstein

‘The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.’
Albert Einstein

‘There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.’
Albert Einstein

‘Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.’
Albert Einstein

‘He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.’
Albert Einstein

True Beauty

Some people say we’re too obsessed with beauty, but actually the problem is just the opposite. We’re obsessed with “beauty standards”. But in all its forms, there’s never anything standard about beauty. Beauty is alive. Beauty is impenetrable. Beauty touches the newness of eternity itself. Standards are dull and dead. To see a standard is to miss the beauty.

We too often view reality as composed of static objects and lifeless facts, but in truth, nothing is static and nothing is lifeless. Even stillness is dynamic, because being itself is the supreme gift. Beauty is not in this or that, but in and beneath each and every thing, in their communion with and beyond each and every other.

We must abandon the idea of imposing standards from the outside, and instead bring out the true beauty already in all things, especially those that have been damaged.

Our world isn’t obsessed with beauty, it’s blind to it.

Peace and love

Yet more quotes

‘The moment sex ceases to be a servant it becomes a tyrant.’
G.K. Chesterton

‘And all the host laughed and wept, and in the midst of their merriment and tears the clear voice of the minstrel rose like silver and gold, and all men were hushed. And he sang to them, now in the Elven-tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.’
J.R.R. Tolkien (The Return of the King)

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‘To God’s servants, brother, money is nothing but a devil and a poisonous snake.’
St. Francis of Assisi

‘You know, brothers, that poverty is the special way to salvation, as the stimulus of humility and the root of perfection, whose fruit is many, but hidden. For this is the hidden treasure of the Gospel field; to buy it, everything must be sold, and, in comparison, everything that cannot be sold must be spurned.’
St. Francis of Assisi

‘If you wish to glimpse inside a human soul and get to know a man, don’t bother analyzing his ways of being silent, of talking, of weeping, of seeing how much he is moved by noble ideas; you will get better results if you just watch him laugh. If he laughs well, he’s a good man.’
Fyodor Dostoevsky

‘One can know a man from his laugh, and if you like a man’s laugh before you know anything of him, you may confidently say that he is a good man.’
Fyodor Dostoevsky

All these and many more are on the “Quotes” page, if you want more.

…male and female he created them

I will begin by admitting that I myself am male, and in the standard ways. To me, women are incredible. I don’t mean they confuse me by their differences from men, or how attractive I find them, or how impressive their skill sets are. I mean that the idea of woman, much as it eludes me, takes my breath away. I really don’t know what woman is, though I feel the biological role of motherhood expresses it beautifully, almost as an analogy (in a similar way, I suspect biological fatherhood is a beautiful analogy of man, though I (as a man) have almost no idea of man at all).

In the Genesis story, Woman is created after Man, from his rib. Perhaps I spent too long accepting this literally, but I believe there is deep truth in this account. I can’t escape the feeling, that there is something primordial about man, relative to woman. Perhaps this is just because, being a man, woman is something special. But I suspect it is more than this.

Woman is created after Adam. In the creation account, perhaps the first thing to notice, is that each day creation is getting better. From just light, we get stars and suns, from just plant life, we get birds, fish, and mammals. Much as you can argue about it being “better”, creation is expanding into new dimensions of its existence, with incredible new possibilities. At the end of this upward progression, God finally creates woman. Yes; I’m suggesting that Woman is God’s finest creation.

And yet, Eve is also from Adam. Man seems to make sense on his own, in a way that woman does not (hmmm… I thought I had “almost no idea of man”…). To use my earlier “analogy”, fatherhood is conceivable without motherhood, but motherhood is inconceivable without fatherhood (pardon the pun), and in a certain way, I feel the same may be true for man and woman. That being said however, it was looking at man sitting on his own, that God said for the very first time, “It is not good…”

With trepidation, here is my suggestion: Man is the ‘wholeness’ of humanity, but woman is the ‘perfection’, though in such a way that men aren’t comparatively imperfect or women comparatively incomplete. The seed contains the wholeness of the tree, but the fruit is its perfection; yet it is ridiculous to claim one is more wholly or perfectly the tree, or that one is greater than the other. Having said that, I prefer ‘perfection’, and I prefer fruit.

Jesus, Mary, and the Church

I will further suggest, that this is why it was fitting that Jesus be male (and consequently both priesthoods, old and new covenant), so that the wholeness of humanity is embraced in him. By his life, death and resurrection, Jesus taught us what it is to be human, and is truly the most wholly human of all.

With regards to Mary, she is the most perfect creature of all, and the one most perfectly redeemed. In her, we see the perfection of humanity, yet not in such a way that she is “more perfect” than Jesus.

With regards to the Church, the Bride of Christ and our mother, its role is to bring to completion and perfection the work of our Lord Jesus. It is, after the example of our other mother, Mary, to bring Christ forth, to the end of the earth. I think it’s for this reason that Mark titled his gospel, “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”, as the good news is still happening in the work of the Church, “the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it.”

I hope you’ve found these thoughts insightful at all. Pope Francis said, “We have to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman”, and I hope I’ve helped, however little. I ask for your honest criticisms and corrections, because I know how incomplete my thinking here is, and how important the subject is.

Thank you for reading, and God bless you

Thoughts from hospital

I’m in hospital this morning (kept overnight), to get stitches on my arm for a cut I made a week ago (self-harm). Please pray for me. Now here are some thoughts.

I’m finding hospital crazy peaceful. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the simplicity, the solitude, the lack of control, or the simple care. Or better yet, the knowledge that this place, this time, is genuinely good for me, bringing me healing. I’m so grateful for and to the NHS.

I think I’m in the hospital today, for a similar reason to why I’m in the Church: because I can’t help myself. I could maybe learn to get by with effort, maybe even living healthily by external standards, but to really live, and live truly, I need real help. I’m not here because I deserve it (I don’t), but because I need to be.

[Thoughts from the second morning (third day)]

The stitches went well. I was put under general anaesthetic because it was multiple layers. Please keep me in your prayers.
The NHS is just absolutely brilliant. The care I’ve been given is simply wonderful. Before this, I knew it was good in theory, and knew it had done me good before, but I didn’t realise how good, how absolutely indispensable it is. From now on, the NHS will be central to my political persuasion.

The love and care of my family and friends has been invaluable also. Love changes everything. By their love, I’m not alone.
The night I cut myself (I did it in the evening), I asked the Lord to speak to me through his scriptures, and turned to John chapter 11, where I found Jesus say (v4), ‘This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God; that the Son of God may be glorified by it.’ I don’t know how he wants to do that, but if he can do it for a dead man, why not me?

Weakness seems to me essential to Christianity. Not just at the start, but the whole way. We need a saviour. I need a saviour who isn’t just against my weakness, my brokenness, my death, but who enters into it. This is the salvation I need.

If we consider we are just saved from sin, then we are stamped “saved”, I think we’ll find big trouble. Jesus came to save sinners, not to stop our sin, then declare us saved (or even both at the same moment). Of course he wants to heal us, and we must let him. As Pope Francis put it, sin is the privileged locus of our encounter with God, and God even caresses our sin.

[In the evening]

I’m going to be transferred to another hospital for a few days so they can do a mental assessment of me. Please pray for me.
Martyrdom is the opposite of suicidal tendencies, I believe. Against the choice of life for myself, taking the destructive choice of attacking that life (for myself), martyrdom offers dying to self and living for others, taking the the positive choice of giving that life for others. That’s why it’s a struggle, rather than working towards the intellectual conviction that life is “worth” living.
I wonder if it might not be “worth” it after all, from a selfish point of view. Selfishness is perhaps the problem in the first place. But martyrdom doesn’t even ask such questions, it just gives and struggles.

Honestly, the thought that I can’t kill myself, but will die many times over for love, has been a strange comfort in times of great darkness. Perhaps even the choice to not take but give my life, is a martyrdom already.

God bless you
Please, pray for me

[A couple days later]

At lunch today, I started thinking of next week this time, when I’ll be having lunch with my Church after mass. It brought me great joy.

That is the beauty of tradition: it allows our hopes and our memories to mingle. Our hopes become more certain, and our memories more fertile, more alive.

[Back home at last]

I’m glad to be back.

The mental health assessment unit was a powerful experience. Life is tough. Such bad things happen to such nice people.

It was tragic to witness (and in honesty, participate in) social outcasts rejecting someone they consider worse than them. I could make excuses, but the simple fact is I was partly selfish, and the other part a coward, because I could have tried, or at least sat out. I didn’t love my neighbour as myself; I didn’t do what Jesus would do; I didn’t see Jesus in the needy. What I didn’t do there, I didn’t do to Jesus.

But it was also beautiful, how accepting, nonjudgmental, and caring other patients were. I think I appreciate better Jesus’ focus on the poor. I also understand better Bl. Mother Teresa’s words,

‘Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.’

To be miserable or keep to myself would be easy and safe, but to give a simple smile or nice word is tough but important. It made a world of difference to me, and I guess I must assume mine helped others also.

Oh, they recommended me counselling and arranged a follow-up visit to check on me, and said they didn’t think medication would be best for me.

Please pray for me.

Oh! I also missed the Sunday obligation as a result (I asked twice, and wasn’t allowed out). I wouldn’t have thought this a big deal, but when I got out, I saw that Pope Francis tweeted,

On the one day I didn’t! It’s not just that I didn’t go, but I now see I didn’t try hard enough. I considered asking for an extraordinary minister or priest to visit me, but didn’t bother, thinking that I wasn’t even sure I should receive the Eucharist. But I didn’t bother to check myself to see if I actually shouldn’t. And I didn’t make much of a fuss at all.

Please pray for me

The Quran and Jesus

[This is the very first thing I’ve noted, in my recently begun (casual) study of Islam. I’ve started it because Islam is extremely important in the world today, and dialogue with Islam seems ever more important, especially in times of conflict in the Muslim world. Please, correct me to the best of your ability where I’ve misunderstood. Thank you]

I was recently given a free English translation of the Quran, and a few leaflets about Islam. Here is the first thing I have learned (and it seems to me, it may be the most important thing for a Christian to learn about Islam):

The Muslim’s Quran is more analogous to the Christian’s Jesus than to the Christian’s scriptures. In the introduction to the Quran I was given (something feels wrong about saying “my Quran”…), it says,

‘Moreover, it is the actual words of Allah — not created, but revealed by Him through the angel Gabriel to a human messenger, Muhammed…

What does one discover when he understands the meanings of the Qur’an? The answers to this question can be classified in four main categories:

1. That he can know his Creator as He has described Himself

2. …

4. How he should relate to all things — to Allah by worship and obedience, to his fellow man by…

This divine message was revealed to confirm and renew the relationship between man and his Creator and to reinstate the sincere and correct worship of the one true God…

It was “not created” that really grabbed my attention.

Much as we believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal, uncreated, Word of God, so Muslims believe that the Quran is the uncreated words of Allah. As Christ’s birth was proclaimed by the angel Gabriel, and given through Mary, so Muslim’s believe the Quran came through Gabriel, and was given to Muhammed to give to the world. We believe that in Christ, we can know God as He reveals Himself; similarly, Islam teaches that through the Quran, we can know God as He described Himself. As Jesus himself reveals how we should relate to all things, so Muslims believe about the Quran. As Jesus was sent to renew and confirm the relationship between God and man, so Muslims consider the Quran.

So, theologically at least, Christianity and Islam shouldn’t be compared Jesus against Muhammed, or the Quran against the Bible, but Jesus to the Quran, Muhammed to the prophets or apostles (or maybe even Mary), and the Bible to the Hadith. And certain practices, such as reciting the Quran in Arabic, even when it is not understood, should not be looked down upon with condescension, and considered as oppression or superstitious religious nonsense, but as practically (in Christian terms) sacramental; encountering a divine and unfathomable mystery in a simple, strange, and humble manner.

I would also like to point out at this point, that when, in recent years, some fundamentalist preachers threatened to burn Qurans, it was less like if Muslims had threatened to burn Bibles (sad as damaged Bibles are), than like when satanists threatened to desecrate Jesus Himself in the Holy Eucharist.

Of course, I must make it clear that (to my knowledge) no Muslim claims that the Quran is consubstantial with God. So the analogue is close, but not quite. But, I think it may still be, to Muslims, the Holiest thing on earth.

One thing I see that must be appealing about this view of the Quran, is the direct, ready access it gives to God’s words and divine mystery. Any Muslim can hold it in their hands, and relate with Allah according to the words He gave them to relate to Him with. If Christian’s had the Bible alone, we would (at least, theoretically) be further from God, than Muslims are from Allah. But, thank God, through the the Church, the very Body and spouse of Christ, and through the sacraments and the sacramental life, we are thoroughly immersed in the mystery of God’s own Trinitarian life.

As a final note, here’s the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n.841:

The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”

Pax Christi, Shalom aleichem, and Salaam alaikum!