It is my sincere hope that I will be able to return to Flos Carmeli and post more on matters spiritual during this season.
Recently in Spiritual Writers Category
From Present Moment, Wonderful Moment
Thich Nhat Hanh
Sometimes when we are on the computer, it is as if we have turned off our mind and are absorbed into the computer for hours. Mind is consciousness. The two aspects of consciousness, subject and object, depend on each other in order to exist. When our mind is conscious of something, we are that thing. When we contemplate a snow-covered mountain, we are that mountain. When we watch a noisy film, we are that noisy film. And when we turn on the blue light of the computer, we become that computer.
I tend to read such things in a very metaphorical sense, and I must preface any further comments by saying that it may not be the intent of the author to be metaphorical. There may be some elusive sense in which he is being quite literal. Not being Buddhist, and reading this passage from a strictly Catholic point of view, I see exposed (metaphorically) a fundamental truth. Neuroscience has pretty clearly demonstrated that so called multitasking is no more multitasking than it was (or perhaps still is) on previous generations of Pentium chips. It simply isn't biologically possible to truly multitask--take the incidence of traffic accidents while using cell phones as an exemplar.
We become, not physically, but in some sense mentally, what we engage with. When we shoose to be a part of something, we give a part of ourselves to that something. This is a difficult truth and it is the truth that lay behind custody of the sense. When we give ourselves over to indulgence in the sense, we cannot rise above them and we find ourselves driven by them. This can be an ugly and fearsome thing. Thus, the investment of energy is a profound investment of a part of ourselves. In investing that energy, we become in some sense part of what we are investing in. We betray ourselves when the object is not worth the investment.
To paraphrase George Harrison, "You know that what you do, you are." And this is true in a very substantial way--do worthy and worthwhile things, you tend toward doing more of the same. Do less worthy things, the tendency towards less worthy becomes more pronounced.
"Keep the faculty of effort alive in you by a little gratuitous exercise every day. That is, be systematically heroic in little unnecessary points, do every day or two something for no other reason than its difficulty, so that, when the hour of dire need draws nigh, it may find you not unnerved and untrained to stand the test. "
Read the full post at The Maverick Philosopher.
I've found myself reading a lot of Timothy Keller recently, and if the books I have read so far are any indication, it is entirely like that I shall be reading more in the near future.
from Counterfeit Gods Timothy Keller
Why did we completely lose sight of what is right? The Bible's answer is that the human heart is an "idol factory."
When most people think of "idols" they have in mind literal statues--or the next pop star anointed by Simon Cowell. Yet while traditional idol worship still occurs in many places of the world, internal idol worship, within the heart, is universal. In Ezekiel 14:3, God says about elders of Israel, "These men have set up idols in their hearts. Like us, the elders must have responded to this charge, "Idols? What Idols? I don't see any idols." God was saying that the human heart takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things. Our hearts deify them as the center of our lives, because we think they can give us significance and security, safety and fulfillment, if we attain them.
And who can deny it. It's like a playdough factory, we no sooner press out and reshape one idol than another one, one that we never suspected lurked within, takes its place.
"To defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it in life are therefore exacting and indispensable forms of charity."
Pope Benedict XVI--Caritas in Veritate (1)
There are two points I would make regarding this short quotation. First, "to bear witness to it in life." The individual is called not merely to know, defend, and speak the truth, but to live it--a call much more profound and difficult. And secondly, the triumvirate of activities comprises "exacting and indispensable forms of charity." Indispensable.
Four words to those who would be wise: get it, read it. The three excerpts below act as impetus, review, and my own personal sendoff. It is a book I should (but probably won't) re read immediately.
from Render Unto Caesar
Archbishop Charles Chaput
In our day, sanctity-of-life issues are foundational--not because of anyone's "religious" views about abortion, although these are important; but because the act of dehumanizing and killing the unborn child attacks human dignity in a uniquely grave way. Deliberately killing the innocent is always, inexcusably wrong. It sets a pattern of contempt for every other aspect of human dignity. In redefining when human life begins and what is and isn't a human person, the logic behind permissive abortion makes all human right politically contingent. (p. 207)
The lessons of this quasi-religious creed, Brooks suggested, are two: First, "if you really wanted to supercharge the nation, you'd fill it with college students who constantly attend church, but who are skeptical of everything they hear there"; and second, always try to be "the least believing member of one of the more observant sects." (p. 213--referring to current the trend in current American Catholic practice.)
The fact that no ideal or even normally acceptable candidate exists in an election does not absolve us from taking part in it. As Catholic citizens, we need to work for the greatest good. The purpose of cultivating a life of prayer, a relationship with Jesus Christ, and a love for the church is to grow as a Christian disciple--to become the kind of Catholic adult who can properly exercise conscience and good sense in exactly such circumstances. There isn't one "right" answer here. Committed Catholics can make very different but equally valid choices: to vote for the major candidate who most closely fits the moral ideal, to vote for an acceptable third-party candidate who is unlikely to win, or to not vote at all. All of these choices can be legitimate. This is a matter for personal decision not church policy. (230-231)
I have read in places where live the wise and the thoughtful a variety of opinions about the efficacy and necessity of voting, and I have always questioned the wisdom of those who hold that one vote, my vote, or any single vote, really doesn't matter or make a difference to the outcome of an election. I must confess that mathematically such a proposition is really indisputable. In an election involving millions, my single vote will not decide the election.
However, in a spiritual and a societal sense, this form of thinking seems nearly suicidal. The action of voting, of placing that mathematically meaningless vote, if done in accord with a conscience informed by the teaching of the Holy Catholic Church has spiritual repercussions that cannot possibly be calculated. It is true of any action taken in accord with God's will, and it remains true in the exercise of the franchise.
from Render Unto Caesar
Archbishop Charles Chaput
In one of their early confrontations, King Henry VIII taunted Bishop John Fisher, the great bishop-martyr of the English Reformation who remained faithful to Rome and opposed Henry's marriage to Anne Bolyen, with this remark: "Well, well, it shall make no matter. . . for you are but one man." Catholics face the world's same taunting today: the temptation to think that society is too far gone, that our problems are too complex for any of us to make a difference. But one person can always make a difference--if that person believe in Jesus Christ and seeks to do his will. We're not called to get results. We're called to be faithful.
Next time we are tempted to think that our vote doesn't matter or doesn't make a difference or doesn't effect the outcome--it would be good to remind ourselves that a vote carelessly made is a grain of sand dropped into a pond, but a vote made after prayer, communion with God, and in accord with a well-formed conscience is like dropping a boulder into a pool. We may not get our candidate elected, but we will have made a difference and we can continue to agitate and act, become the thorn in the side for those who rode to election on the careless votes of others. We become then, for the world, the constant "agenbite of inwit," an irreconcilable and relentless reminder of the duty of our officials to serve the common good even if they will not willingly serve God.
Given me by a friend from a blog I don't personally visit (no animus, just indicating that I haven't seen this at the location sited below).
Notable and Quotable (II)
Posted by Kendall Harmon
...Sustained discussion of the human propensity towards self-deception has all but disappeared from twentieth-century analyses of the spiritual life. There are, of course, still specialists in philosophy and psychology working out the details. But, for most of us, self-deception simply doesn't jump immediately to mind as an explanation of our experience. We rarely think of it. Lots of people I talk to have never so much as considered the possibility that they've fallen prey to it in any significant way. One is reminded here of the haunting suggestion in Bishop Butler's tenth sermon
-- Gregg A. Ten Elshof, I Told Me So: The Role of Self-deception in Christian Living
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), p, 7