August 09, 2003

We Are Reintegrated

We Are Reintegrated

Jack at Integrity asked me to let everyone know that he's back on board. Welcome back, Jack.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 06:42 PM | Comments (0)

Prayer Reminders

Prayer Reminders

From the Prayer Chapel:
Please remember the following critically important intentions in your prayers:

1. Bill White's wife who is experiencing some unusual medical difficulties.
2. Pansy Moss and Family
3. DYLAN, DYLAN, DYLAN (I know, I harp on this too much, but that's the way it is for brother poet)
4. Christine and Gordon and family (please really work on this one--they've been out of work for more than half-a-year and all reserves are coming to an end)
5. Katherine and Frankin (ditto--although there was a brief interim of employment--still, very difficult situation)
6. All in St. Blog's who have intentions they do not express to us, for healing, emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical and all other intentions for our blogfamily.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)

August 08, 2003

Thanks to the PoMo Crowd

Thanks to the PoMo Crowd We Have:

This delightful example of interpretive gibberish extracted from an excellent Wall Street Journal Opinion piece.

To be sure, the new gospel's disciples do not generally jettison Scripture outright. Instead, they radically reinterpret it, using techniques imported from America's postmodern universities. Walter Brueggemann, a theologian quoted in a pro-same-sex-union Episcopal publication, put it like this: Scripture is "the chief authority when imaginatively construed in a certain interpretive trajectory." Approached this way, inconvenient passages can be dismissed as inconsistent with "Jesus' self-giving love."
Posted by Steven Riddle at 06:13 PM | Comments (0)

On The Crisis of Islam

On The Crisis of Islam

Go to The Catholic Bookshelf for an interesting insight into Islam. More to be posted there later. The book, by Bernard Lewis, is short, well-written, and very informative. Highly recommended.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)

A Prayer of St. Raphael Kalinowski

A Prayer of St. Raphael Kalinowski

from Drink of the Stream Compiled by Penny Hicks, O.C.D.S.

We entrust our task to our Most Holy Mother, the Virgin Mary, under her maternal care.

If there is anything to correct, let it be corrected once and for all; may the good that is done continue to increase.

Toward this purpose, may God's love flood your souls along this earthly life, and finally lead you to the fountain of love, that is to God Himself in eternity.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:16 AM | Comments (0)

On a Somewhat Lighter Note

On a Somewhat Lighter Note

A blessed feastday to all our Dominican brothers and sisters.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:13 AM | Comments (0)

Invoking the Saints

Invoking the Saints

Erik suggests a few to call upon to see our Episcopal brethren to safe shores. Here I add a few more. (Also, if anyone knows, why do we not say please, when asking such favors from the Saints? An imperative sounds as though we deserve it, and we most certainly do not.)

St. Thomas Becket, pray for us.
St. Robert Southwell, pray for us.
St. Thomas More, pray for us.
St. John Fisher, pray for us.
St. Edmund Campion, pray for us.
St. Margaret Clitherow, pary for us.
St. Anne Line, pray for us.
St. Margaret Ward, pray for us.
St. John Rigby, pray for us.
St. Philip Howard, pray for us.
St. Robert Gwyn, pray for us.
St. Swithun Wells, pray for us.
St. Augustine Webster, pray for us.
St. John Houghton, pray for us.
St. Robert Lawrence, pray for us.
St. Richard Reynolds, pray for us.
St. John Stone, pray for us.
St. Alexander Briant, pray for us.
St. Edmund Arrowsmith, pray for us.
St. David Lewis, pray for us.
St. Henry Morse, pray for us.
St. Henry Walpole, pray for us.
St. Nicholas Owen, pray for us.
St. Philip Evans, pray for us.
St. Thomas Garnet, pray for us.
St. Alban Roe, pray for us.
St. Ambrose Barlow, pray for us.
St. John Roberts, pray for us.
St. John Jones, pray for us.
St. John Wall, pray for us.
St. Cuthbert Mayne, pray for us.
St. Edmund Gennings, pray for us.
St. Eustace White, pray for us.
St. John Almond, pray for us.
St. John Boste, pray for us.
St. John Kemble, pray for us.
St. John Lloyd, pray for us.
St. John Pain, pray for us.
St. John Plesington, pray for us.
St. John Southworth, pray for us.
St. Luke Kirby, pray for us.
St. Polydore Plasden, pray for us.
St. Ralph Sherwin, pray for us.
John Henry Newman, pray for us.

To all these Saints, and all of those who lost their lives for the faith, we beg your guidance for the people who have been cut lose from their moorings, separated from the Mother they dearly loved. Guide them into the bosom of the Holy Catholic Church, a true and devoted Mother. But more importantly, intercede for us, who have allowed so grievous an offense to the dignity of our Precious Lord. May your sufferings and shed blood help in some small measure to make up for the grievous sin committed against Our Sovereign, Gentle, Loving King.


Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:02 AM | Comments (0)

Talking About the Fall of

Talking About the Fall of a Church

Erik at Erik's Rants and Recipes(the post sited et seq.) has some excellent points about the self-destruction of the Episcopal church. As you will note in my response below, I have a great deal of sympathy with a portion of the view, but cannot crow over the cause. Jesus has suffered yet another grievous insult, and in our own fuddled ways, we fail to see the real issue. (Not all of us, but unfortunately a great deal too many.)

Dear Erik,

Speaking as one whose dearest friend (other than my dear wife) is an Episcopalian, you'll probably be quite surprised to hear that I don't disagree with your anti-anglicanism all that much. I look down upon them for the crimes of the past that have settled in the present. The Martyrs St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More as well as St. Edmund Campion and St. Robert Southwell are all one their heads as a communion, not to mention the many dreadful depredations that followed. (Yes, i know to be raised to Martyrdom for Christ is a great honor and privilege in heaven, but it doesn't stop me from being selfish and wishing that their work had been allowed to continue.)

But I do not crow over this self-destruction because of the grave nature of the insult to Christ. Many Episcopalians do love God, deeply, sincerely, and completely, and yet they are so fuddled, they do not realize that this blasphemy they crow is another slap in the face to Jesus. This is a grave and serious crime against humanity and God, and in it there is nothing good.

Its stain is upon this land and like so much toxic waste, it will trickle into the ground to contaminate the groundwater for a great many years to come. One triumphalist Episcopalian was quoted as saying that now the Episcoplal church can lend its moral weight to the debate on gay marriage. You and I recognize that as infinitely risible. Unfortunately the majority of American people and even a sizable minority of Catholics probably view this a sterling example of truth and courage.

So, you'll pardon me if I don't crow along, I am too saddened by yet another crime against the God I try so hard to love.



Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:43 AM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2003

On Dealing with Sinners

On Dealing with Sinners

In a response to a post below, Erik suggests a question which is in urgent need of an answer. To wit, how do we deal with the sin of homosexual behaviors?

To rephrase the question more broadly, "How do we deal with sinners?" And the answer, as you might guess, is obvious--just as we have been doing up until now. We are all sinners and we are all children of God. Our commandment is to love our neighbor. Love does not express itself in endless harangues against how a person lives. Homosexual behavior, while a mortal sin, is no more mortal than say, theft, adultery, gossipmongering, scandal. That is, while we are well aware of the nature of the sin of a person professing homosexual behavior, others sin as well and we do not know it.

Do we ignore the sin? No, but we do not allow the sin to stand in way of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. We do not let it stand in the way of true equality and justice before the law and before God. We do not countenance the death of sinners, as God does not wish it. In short, we do not let the sin stand in the way of love and justice.

The only way the truth can be received is through a heart filled with love. When we fall short of perfect love of the person as person, our ability to share the good news of salvation is impaired. If we are constantly harping on the sin, we will alienate the individual. Our lives must reflect the love we know, and through that image of the living God, encourage the sinner to seek Him. If we are asked, we must be prepared to state boldly and gently what we know to be the truth, and we must be prepared to live it and defend it.

So, as Erik points out, many of us know caring, talented, loving, generous people whose known sin is homosexual behavior. We are inclined to regard their sin as "not so bad." I see this in part as a work of Grace. We cannot let our feelings about the person disguise the fact that the behavior involved is seriously disordered and gravely sinful. But these feelings allow us to show some facets of God's all-encompassing love. And our calling is to reify that love to the degree possible.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 04:52 PM | Comments (0)

Count on St. John of the Cross for Just the Right Words

Count on St. John of the Cross for Just the Right Words

from The Ascent of Mount Carmel III:38.3 St. John of the Cross

How many festivals, my God, do the children of men celebrate in Your honor in which the devil has a greater role than You! And the devil, like a merchant is pleased with these gatherings because he does more business on those days. How many times will You say of them: This people honors Me with their lips alone, but their heart is far from Me, because they serve me without cause [Mt 15:8-9]


Posted by Steven Riddle at 03:25 PM | Comments (0)

Ceux-ci m'amuse

Ceux-ci m'amuse

This at Disputations. (The first entry for today if direct linking continues to not work)

This at Apologia

Posted by Steven Riddle at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

New BlogRoll

New BlogRoll Things

I've added a lot to my blogroll recently, but I just wanted to mention two additions.

Thanks to the sober, temperate, and even-handed Mr. Kevin Miller, I have added Heart, Mind & Strength to the Blogroll. At times in the past there was a trifle too much silliness for my taste, but Mr. Miller's writing along with some other features make it worth wading through. (Though truth to tell, I have not seen much silliness in the parts I've been able to get through.)

I've also added a link to a page of publications by one of my very favorites--Archbishop Charles Chaput, long may he live and serve his Church. By such men is the Church made a more holy place.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 10:09 AM | Comments (0)

The Fruits of Crisis

The Fruits of Crisis

As you can see from the posts below, I have plumbed some of the depths of feeling that have overcome me in the past few days and have determined the reality that lay behind them. I am wounded because Christ is again assaulted, torn, spat upon, and ignored. This isn't merely "an Episcopalian thing." It is a physical and spiritual assault upon the Body of Christ. We have once again freed Barrabas and crucified our King. Not everyone of course. Just as there were those in the crowd who sorrowed over what was happening, so too now, there are many who sorrow. But the profound offense, the deep wound that has been made, the insult to Our Lord, once again shows the strength of His love, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."

I wish ignorance could excuse them and I pray God's mercy upon them, for in this case, I must believe that they know very precisely what they do, and yet they do it anyway.

It is time once again to make reparation for the damage we have inflicted upon Our Lord. We're called once again to realize our own depth of sin and to turn toward His gracious love. We're called once again to bring our straying brethren with us.

And what never fails to amaze me in all of this is His Graciousness--in all the multitude of meanings that term has--His complete Graciousness, His all-encompassing Love.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:52 AM | Comments (0)

A Prayer of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

A Prayer of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

from Drink of the Stream
Compiled by Penny Hicks, O.C.D.S.

May my life be a continual prayer, a long act of love. May nothing distract me from You, neither noise nor diversions, nothing. O my Master, I would so love to live with You in silence. But what i love above all is to do Your will, and since You want me to still remain in the world, I submit with all my heart for love of You. I offer You the cell of my heart; may it be Your little Bethany. Come rest there; I love You so.

The fruit of much trial in the past few days is to reflect upon how much and how intensely I love God. To see Him once again dragged through the streets, spat upon, and crucified, reminds me of my complicity--mostly a complicity of silence, sometimes of silent agreement.

I am trying to clear the cell of my heart, to make the little Bethany Blessed Elizabeth speaks of. But it seems everytime I remove some debris, I sit down again, exhausted and create more. Entropy threatens to win, until God uses an occasion to open the windows, let in light, and remind us that despite all appearances, He is still in charge.

So though many are treading the via dolorosa because Jesus has once again been denied, they are more aware of Him. He will triumph in the end, and He will rescue us from all that would destroy us utterly. For a little while, it is Good to be the Cyrene, and help however little to carry the cross. The indignity our Precious Lord has suffered over the past few days because of the deluded enthusiasm of many and the outright diabolism of a few we can take part in.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:37 AM | Comments (0)

A Meditation of St. Teresa

A Meditation of St. Teresa of Avila

from Drink of the Stream Compiled by Penny Hickey O.C.D.S.

O Christians, it's time to defend your King and to accompany Him in such great solitude. Few are the vassals remaining with Him, and great the multitude accompanying Lucifer. And what's worse is that these latter appear as His friends in public and sell Him in secret. He finds almost no one in whom to trust. O true Friend, how badly they pay You back who betray You! O true Christians, help your God weep, for those compassionate tears are not only for Lazarus but for those who were not going to want to rise, even though His majesty call them. O my God, how You bear in mind the faults I have committed against You! May they now come to an end, Lord, may they come to an end, and those of everyone. Raise up these dead; may Your cries be so powerful that even though they do not beg life of You, You give it to them so that afterward, my God, they might come forth from the depth of their own delights.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:26 AM | Comments (0)

We Are All Sinners

We Are All Sinners

And all subject to temptation.

We are not perfect nor do many of us wish to be.

The first step in conversion is to recognize Jesus Christ and know through Him the love God has for us.

The second is to desire to be all that we are in His eyes.

Sinners though we are, God does not look upon us as such. He looks upon us as children.

And children that we are, we need to strive to please Our Father, as all young children do.

My daily prayer, O Lord don't let me become a teenager in faith
if it is thy will, get me through adolescence quickly.

God loves us into eternity if we will stop our struggling to be free and remain free in His loving embrace.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:47 AM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2003

For Our Troubled Episcopalian Brethren

For Our Troubled Episcopalian Brethren

Mr. Lane Core has compiled a list of readings for those who are looking for a way out of the current crisis.

To his list I would append the entire contents of the Project Canterbury Site (see left column), as a very focused recognition of what the Anglican Church, until recent times, has always been.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 03:52 PM | Comments (0)

Contributed by Mr. White How

Contributed by Mr. White

How did I overlook it? Novena to Our Lady of Walsingham and other appropriate devotions. As Mr. White points out, perhaps a proper refuge in this time of trial.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)

A Request for Outside There

A Request for Outside

There has been an appeal to remember Nagasaki day, today.

In memoriam of a terrible, terrible tragedy--as one must regard all war these word from Pacem in Terris an encyclical of Pope John XXIII:

Peace on Earth—which man throughout the ages has so longed for and sought after—can never be established, never guaranteed, except by the diligent observance of the divinely established order. . . .

5. But the world's Creator has stamped man's inmost being with an order revealed to man by his conscience; and his conscience insists on his preserving it. Men "show the work of the law written in their hearts. Their conscience bears witness to them." (5) And how could it be otherwise? All created being reflects the infinite wisdom of God. It reflects it all the more clearly, the higher it stands in the scale of perfection. (6)

6. But the mischief is often caused by erroneous opinions. Many people think that the laws which govern man's relations with the State are the same as those which regulate the blind, elemental forces of the universe. But it is not so; the laws which govern men are quite different. The Father of the universe has inscribed them in man's nature, and that is where we must look for them; there and nowhere else. . . .

35. Hence, before a society can be considered well-ordered, creative, and consonant with human dignity, it must be based on truth. St. Paul expressed this as follows: "Putting away lying, speak ye the truth every man with his neighbor, for we are members one of another." (25) And so will it be, if each man acknowledges sincerely his own rights and his own duties toward others.

Human society, as We here picture it, demands that men be guided by justice, respect the rights of others and do their duty. It demands, too, that they be animated by such love as will make them feel the needs of others as their own, and induce them to share their goods with others, and to strive in the world to make all men alike heirs to the noblest of intellectual and spiritual values. Nor is this enough; for human society thrives on freedom, namely, on the use of means which are consistent with the dignity of its individual members, who, being endowed with reason, assume responsibility for their own actions .

36. And so, dearest sons and brothers, we must think of human society as being primarily a spiritual reality. By its means enlightened men can share their knowledge of the truth, can claim their rights and fulfill their duties, receive encouragement in their aspirations for the goods of the spirit, share their enjoyment of all the wholesome pleasures of the world, and strive continually to pass on to others all that is best in themselves and to make their own the spiritual riches of others. It is these spiritual values which exert a guiding influence on culture, economics, social institutions, political movements and forms, laws, and all the other components which go to make up the external community of men and its continual development.

These words are eerily appropriate to the other major concern weighing upon my heart as well.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 09:16 AM | Comments (0)

The Episcopalian Church

The Episcopalian Church

Please pray for those Bishops who do not wish to set aside six-thousand years of tradition and who wish to remain loyal to the teachings of Jesus Christ that they can find a way to peacefully and amicably separate from their apostate brethren. Let us pray that it may be done without endless litigation and vitriol. This vote is truly a sad day for the Episcopal Church and the dawning of many sad days for all Christian Churches.

As a coda--I honestly wish I understood why this weighs upon me so heavily. It isn't my communion, so in some sense, isn't even my business and yet, it feels pressingly important and urgent. Nevertheless, after this point, I promise to try to keep it merely in my prayers and not in the face of my readers.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:14 AM | Comments (0)

On the Brown Scapular--A Retraction

On the Brown Scapular--A Retraction

In a post below I was unforgivably vague in how I phrased things, and I believe that I may have hurt many of my regular readers. I post here for all to read my apology to Mr. Jeff Culbreath, who quite rightly upbraided me about my apparent position on the matter.

Dear Jeff,

First, I owe you and everyone an apology for the apparent lack of clarity of this post. I will post something this morning that clarifies.

I think it profoundly admirable that he [Jeff's Son] is so devoted to the scapular. I don't think it particularly superstitious, and I'm certain that you are bringing him up a good Catholic. I agree with you that one should not cast aside sacramentals. But neither should one commit mortal sin thinking that wearing the scapular is going to keep you from Hell. I know that you do not teach this but it is part of the "guarantee" some rely upon in wearing the scapular. I think that what I'm saying is the teaching needs clarification for modern ears. In previous the language says that wearing the Brown Scapular would keep you from Hell. I think this could be misinterpreted as a license to sin. All would grant that this is an absurd notion. However, if one were to wear the Brown Scapular worthily, then one would be kept from the fires of Hell by the grace of God and the intercession of Our Lady. There is no supersition in this, and the language is clearer. Some would understand the original wording to mean this, but when I quizzed a person on the issue, they replied quite frankly to my question, "If you committed a mortal sin, did not confess or repent of it, and died wearing the scapular, you would go to Heaven." Their answer was, "Yes, that is what Our Lady told us." I seriously doubt that Our Lady told us that the Brown scapular was a "get out of jail free" card, or a license to commit mortal sin.

What I think needs to be done is not to abandon our Lady's Garment, but to respect it for what it is and to live the life that is required by what it is. That is all that I meant to say--not that it should be cast aside. In fact, I believe that every believing Catholic would do well to become part of the Brown Scapular Confraternity and wear the scapular worthily.

I am truly sorry if I gave the misimpression that I stood against this great and valuable gift of the church. Please forgiven me if I have caused you any pain or harm by this, it was not my intention. And while I cannot speak for him, I do not believe it is Mr. O'Rama's point either.



Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2003

On the Episcopalian Problem

On the Episcopalian Problem

I honestly, really do hate to say this, but I can't see what all the fuss is about with the "reports" on the new Bishop-to-be. After all, if we're ordaining gay bishops, what could really be wrong with pornography? Or, if it is wrong today, surely it must become right when a sufficiently large group of the populace believes it to be. And inappropriate conduct--who's to decide what is truly inappropriate? We eschew biblial guidance and the wisdom of tradition. After all this has been in the works for years and years. Never mind the fact that even if it has been brewing for 20 years, we have 6,000 years of unbroken tradition in opposition.

I have a very dear friend who is Episcopalian and she doesn't see this argument. When I press and ask her on what grounds one can make any value judgment if you have discarded biblical guidance and 2,000 years of tradition, she has no answer--and yet she still sees this as a mighty step forward for the Church. She's convinced these false allegations have been brought forward as the work of Satan. If they are false, they are Satan's work and should be done away with; but if there is an element of truth, they are the relentless play of logic in the field of wandering away from the Lord.

As much as I prefer not to weigh in on such matters, of recent days I have gotten the impression that I need to stop sitting on the fence and to take a stand, for or against. Fortunately, I picked an easy one to start with.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 02:12 PM | Comments (0)

On the Brown Scapular

On the Brown Scapular

Agonizingly slow day in St. Blog's today. But T.S. O'Rama has an interesting post on the proper approach to devotionals and indulgences--reflecting on some words here a while back. Recommended!

Posted by Steven Riddle at 01:34 PM | Comments (0)

Make Heaven Here on Earth

Make Heaven Here on Earth

Speak the truth in love.

That's it. When we speak the truth, we share Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the only solution to all that ails us. He is the Truth. He is the only light that matters. We count on Him for transformation. We count on Him to change the entire world. This is the Truth that sets us free--free for complete service to Him. Praise God and thank Him for all His holy works, by them we are transformed and made whole.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:10 AM | Comments (0)

Four Particularly Pressing Prayer Concerns

Four Particularly Pressing Prayer Concerns

Sorry for the alliteration, it wasn't intended to be funny:

(1) For Pansy Moss, her husband, and her family. We all need to keep praying and keep supporting this family in every possible way. God is good, and we need to make certain that we constantly demonstrate it.

(2) For Dylan--He needs our constant support and prayer. I don't often use martial imagery--in fact, I deplore it, but we need to storm heaven for him. His healing is dependent upon our prayers and upon God.

(3) For the unemployed who are presently seeking work--particularly Gordon and Christine, Franklin and Katherine, and a young man of distant acquaintance who has just been laid off work, has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and whose wife is expecting their first child. Lord, have mercy.

(4) For my wife and our present situation that it is resolved in accordance with His will (no marital troubles, just health and other concerns rocking the rather easy boat of our existence.)

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:07 AM | Comments (0)

The Episcopal Church

The Episcopal Church

Please continue to pray for our brethren in this distraught Church. The momentary crisis has not yet passed, and will not pass until they have drunk the last of their bitter draught. Let us pray that people of good will come to their sense and understand the full ramifications of what they are doing. Barring that, let us pray that it will be possible for those who can no longer belong to the communion to separate in a Christian and dignified manner. Oh, the terrible times we are in, when one cannot distinguish between the innate worth every every human being and the necessary sanctity of holy office. As T.S. O'Rama pointed out yesterday, this is the necessary result of a logical follow through on decisions made decades ago. Let us thank God that despite our own current difficulties and crises, we have a Church and a Holy Pope that is not reluctant to take a difficult stand on issues of morality, doctrine, and practice. Praise God for His guidance and steady hand with His Holy Church. Let us all pray that she too is not put to the test.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:03 AM | Comments (0)

The Life You Save May Be Your Own

The Life You Save May Be Your Own

Finished it last night, and I need some time to think about it. But soon, I shall put up a review at Catholic Bookshelf. Until then, suffice to say that it is recommended for a great many reasons. I'm going to spend some time sorting out what those are, but right now--recommended seems enough.

Moving on to Bernard Lewis's The Crisis of Islam and David Mills's work on knowing the Real Jesus. I have to try to work in Richard Russo's Empire Falls (I'm considerably less than impressed. THIS won a Pulitzer. Must have been a dead year for fiction.) Also working on a wonderful book by Philip Yancey: Soul Survivor, bascially biographies of twelve or thirteen people who have helped Yancey retain his Christian faith when elements of the church were making it very difficult.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:58 AM | Comments (0)

August 04, 2003

One More Quote About Day

One More Quote About Day

A Quote that comments on a previous controversy--one that I found very comforting in an odd sort of way.

from The Life You Save May Be Your Own p. 444 Paul Elie

There were many for whom she prayed each day, among them various people who had committed suicide. She prayed that those who had taken their own lives would have the grace of final repentance. That her prayers occurred long after the deaths was of no matter, she said. "There is no time with God."

I will not burden you with the personal details that make this so welcome and needed a message. Welcome, needed, and long ignored and resisted. Is it even possible to understand the sheer relentless stubborness of fallen Man?

Posted by Steven Riddle at 09:48 PM | Comments (0)

Elie on Dorothy Day

Elie on Dorothy Day

I'm puzzled by Dorothy Day. I don't know what to make of her. Mr. Elie hardly helps:

from The Life You Save May be Your Own pg. 430 Paul Elie

Around St. Joseph's House, her position on Sainthood was well known: "Don't call me a saint--I don't want to be dismissed that easily." The remark, often taken to express her humility in fact expressed the opposite--her desire to be canonized on her own terms and in her own way--and as she grew older, she was more mindful of the image she presented.

And later

p. 433

Day didn't reject the honors, merely sought to complicate them. On 60 Minutes, she called abortion a grave evil, and stressed that, as a Christian pacifist, she was called to love any enemy, even Adolf Hitler. Around St. Joseph's House she grumbled about the "women's lib" movement and the lack of traditional piety among young people.

Now this is one interesting lady. I don't care much for her politics or her view of Capitalism as yet another form of violence (although I'm inclined to greater sympathy that way as time goes on), but who can resist this woman who seems to have such a firm grasp of those things we all should know by heart?

Posted by Steven Riddle at 06:58 PM | Comments (0)

Something a Little Bit Scary

Something a Little Bit Scary

Please pray for me in my capacity as Regional Formation Director. At our meeting Saturday I had a number of people come to me and request my assistance as a spiritual guide/director. I do not know if this is within my capacity. Certainly I can listen and pray with people, but whether or not I can guide them, I cannot know. Whether I am being called to this, I do not yet know. I suppose by virtue of being formation director, there is at least the implication of that--but it is frightening and sobering. A friend commented that "Just because you can't follow your own advice doesn't mean you can't advise with authority." Hardly a ringing endorsement.

Anyway, please pray for anyone who consults me that I might at least direct them somewhere where they can truly get the assistance they need to progress in the spiritual life.

This is utterly unexpected, but then, I am sensing a complete transformation of the group as we move forward in study that is really an amazing evidence of the Holy Spirit at work. Each member of this group has the potential to become a real spiritual dynamo--I am constantly amazed at the integrity and the real power of prayer this group displays. I am humbled to be part of it. God is moving in His own way, and I am privileged to be witnessing it and participating in it. (Or, at a minimum, I am at least not getting in the way.)

Posted by Steven Riddle at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

For Our Episcopal Brethren

For Our Episcopal Brethren

I think of this particularly at a time when the Episcopal Church seems poised to take yet another plunge in Bishop Spong land. These erstwhile believers seem intent on forging brave new paths of scriptural denial. It seems that if one begins down the path of question inerrancy, everything in the Bible, no matter how clearly spelled out becomes dispensible.

We need to pray for our sister Church and be ready to support what are hopefully the many who will eschew this terrible, riving betrayal of God's word.

I think of the passage from Ezekiel (3:17-21):

Thus the word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel. When you hear a word from my mouth, you shall warn them for me.
If I say to the wicked man, You shall surely die; and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his wicked conduct so that he may live: that wicked man shall die for his sin, but I will hold you responsible for his death.
If, on the other hand, you have warned the wicked man, yet he has not turned away from his evil nor from his wicked conduct, then he shall die for his sin, but you shall save your life.
If a virtuous man turns away from virtue and does wrong when I place a stumbling block before him, he shall die. He shall die for his sin, and his virtuous deeds shall not be remembered; but I will hold you responsible for his death if you did not warn him.
When, on the other hand, you have warned a virtuous man not to sin, and he has in fact not sinned, he shall surely live because of the warning, and you shall save your own life.

Woe to those who lead the sheep to places where they are easily slaughtered. Woe to the shepherds who take their direction from the sheep, because while the sheep may die, their destruction shall be upon the heads of the shepherds. The Bishops of the Episcopal church seem poised on the brink of mortal peril--peril of their souls. We need to pray for each of these men of God that they have the firm resolution to do not what the sheep and modern, depraved, secular minds require, but they have the courage to do what God demands.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:32 AM | Comments (0)

From Paul Elie

From Paul Elie

In reading The Life You Save May Be Your Own, you meet many different people and primarily four different writers. The strands concerning Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day are particularly intriguing. I look at Day as the end-road of pacifism and can't seem to separate that thought from all of the socialist/communist/anti-capitalist thought. I don't know what to make of her. Her cause has been advanced and so there must be something profoundly good and moving. Very likey, this is not the book to find that out.

During last night's reading I came upon this passage in the Merton strand:

from The Life You Save May Be Your Own p. 404-405 Paul Elie

Written for the bishops, the "Message to Contemplatives" might be a message to Merton's critics, the would-be revolutionaries and street-fighting men of the Cahtolic left. For it makes clear why he sees the contemplative life as crucial to any program for peace and justice. In Merton's view, the "experience of God," obedience to the Gospel or the affirmation of human solidarity, must be the basis of the believer's actions in the world. The contemplative life, in his account, is at once the opposite of worldly life and a concentration of it; it is religious experience exaggerated, grotesquely at times, so as to bring a truth to light--to describe the desert in the heart of every would-be believer, and to see in this desert the springs of religious experience. And it is in such experience that those who call themselves believers strive to "unite ourselves to the suffering of the world, carrying on before God a silent dialgoue even with those of our brothers who keep themselves apart from us."

There is so much here to think about and unpack. There are so many contradictory strands to bring into play. Merton himself presents certain nearly insurmountable difficulties. What does one make of the example of his life? Was he sucessful at what he aimed to do? Or did he fail, and if he failed, what are we to learned from the example. (And by fail, I mean merely in human terms, because I have no doubt that the tremendous Mercy of God sees him in heaven even now. But some suggest the possibility of Canonization, and I just don't see it in the strains of this story--that's not to say that I am not missing a great deal.)

Merton concerns me deeply because I identify a great deal with some of his writing and some of his thought. But I do not wish to so identify myself that I suffer those same trials. Merton asks cogent questions--questions that go right to the heart of a Carmelite Vocation in the world. How do you make a space of silence in which to really hear God? The closer he became to silence, the more he seemed to wander from God. How do I avoid the same path?

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:21 AM | Comments (0)

Some Astonishing Words from Saint John of the Cross

Some Astonishing Words from Saint John of the Cross

I had feared that the clarity of St. John's declaration would be lost in the E. Allison Peers's translation, but it is still there. I offer first, St. John's tremendous metaphor of the pane of glass and the ray of light, and then the conclusion springing from that line of thought.

from The Ascent of Mount Carmel--Book II, Chapter 5 St. John of the Cross

6. In order that both these things may be the better understood, let us make a comparison. A ray of sunlight is striking a window. If the window is in any way stained or misty, the sun's ray will be unable to illumine it and transform it into its own light, totally, as it would if it were clean of all these things, and pure; but it will illumine it to a lesser degree, in proportion as it is less free from those mists and stains; and will do so to a greater degree, in proportion as it is cleaner from them, and this will not be because of the sun's ray, but because of itself; so much so that, if it be wholly pure and clean, the ray of sunlight will transform it and illumine it in such wise that it will itself seem to be a ray and will give the same light as the ray. Although in reality the window has a nature distinct from that of the ray itself, however much it may resemble it, yet we may say that that window is a ray of the sun or is light by participation. And the soul is like this window, whereupon is ever beating (or, to express it better, wherein is ever dwelling) this Divine light of the Being of God according to nature, which we have described.

7. In thus allowing God to work in it, the soul (having rid itself of every mist and stain of the creatures, which consists in having its will perfectly united with that of God, for to love is to labour to detach and strip itself for God's sake of all that is not God) is at once illumined and transformed in God, and God communicates to it His supernatural Being, in such wise that it appears to be God Himself, and has all that God Himself has. And this union comes to pass when God grants the soul this supernatural favour, that all the things of God and the soul are one in participant transformation; and the soul seems to be God rather than a soul, and is indeed God by participation; although it is true that its natural being, though thus transformed, is as distinct from the Being of God as it was before, even as the window has likewise a nature distinct from that of the ray, though the ray gives it brightness.

Astonishing. So much so that my group and I spent the better part of two hours talking about this single passage--its implications, ramifications, and its purpose.

St. John of the Cross tells us that in complete union we beome God by participation. That is, in the best Buddhist sense, all that remains of us in terms of things antithetical to God has vanished--the "Ego" but not the self. This is very difficult to explain, but it marks one of many places where Buddhist doctrine varies from Christian. Buddhists strive for the state of extinction of self. That can be interpreted as the irradication of all that keeps one from God. But explicitly it seems to be the annhilation of personality. I used to think St. John of the Cross was very Buddhist in his teaching, but reading carefully, I have learned better. St. John makes the point that one retains one's own nature. What is annhiliated is all that prevents God from shining through one.

The way I explained it to the Carmelite Group was in comparison to a stained-glass window. Each pane of glass has its distinctive coloration, shape, and placement in the window. As each is purified and made truly transparent rather than merely translucent, each retains its color, shape and position--its unique nature within the window frame. We become God by participation, but the delivery of God is mediated by His vessel--the particular pane of glass. Thus we have St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Jerome, and St. John of the Cross. No two of these are exactly the same or even remotely similar, and yet all became unique conveyances of God, unique Godly participators in spreading His word and glory.

We would all do well to spend some time truly reflecting upon the meaning of this passage in our own lives. We all have the potential to become "God by participation," and, in fact, we all have that as our root calling and goal. To fall short of it is, as either Peguy or Bloy is paraphrased as saying, the only real tragedy.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:40 AM | Comments (0)