December 18, 2004

Just What I Needed

A nun justifying one of my worst habits. Ah, I suppose I should count it a Christmas gift.

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December 17, 2004

Random Thought/Quotation

Better to be thought a fool than to break silence and remove all doubt.

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December 16, 2004

Code of Canon Law

Online here

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December 14, 2004

Thomas Merton on Suffering

By the way, much of the recent quotation is derived secondarily from Dwight Longenecker's beautiful study St. Benedict and St. Thérèse

from The Seven Storey Mountain
Thomas Merton

The more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you . . . the one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers most: and his suffering comes to him from things so little and so trivial that one can say that it is no longer objective at all; it is his own existence which is the source of his pain.

And this extremely powerful note from Longenecker follows:

from St. Benedict and St. Thérèse
Dwight Longenecker

If the vow of stability forces me to stay in one place and face the grim reallitiles of llife, then I am also confronted by the glorious realities. Indeed, if we embrace ther grim reality, then the good reality is more vibrantly alive than we could ever have imagined. The climax of Thérèse's deathbed experience was an excrutiating participation in the suffering of Christ, but it was also an exhilirating participation in the love of Christ. On the afternoon of her death she cries, "Newver would I have believed it was possible to suffer so much!" but her last words are, "Oh! I love HIm! . . . My God . . . I love you!"

The everyday realities of being married, of loving who and where we are--these are the places where we are called to grow in sanctity, in the pain of feeling not appreciated, and in the warm embrace of family.

I go on, but I think you would all do yourselves a favor to acquire and read this wonderful book. It has blessed me over and over again.

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Supernatural and Natural

Commenting on St. Thérèse, von Balthasar says, "Everything Thérèse achieves at the supernatural level is rooted in something she has experienced at the natural level."

This is akin to the idea that we cannot love what we do not know. And it has enormous implication for good or ill for each of us. What I read here is that God has set the blueprint for our supernatural lives within our natural lives. What we are and what we experience each day is the grounding for what we will become if we follow God in the way He means to be followed.

We are each a member, a part of the body of Christ. Our place in the body is defined by who God made us to be. Who we are is defined by all that makes us up and all that has come to us from the hand of God. Where we most clearly fail is when we reject what has come to us be it good or bad. Every moment is a moment of grace to be embraced, it becomes part of the fabric of who we are now and who we are in the kingdom. Our sorrowful moments, our pains, our crushed dreams are all stepping stones on the path of Joy. When we reject sorrow or hardship, we are rejecting the fittings that will make us more useful for God's purposes.

St. Thérèse reminds us that there is pain and sorrow enough in a day, we needn't go looking for more. But we also need to learn how to embrace what does come to us and allow it to transform us into true worshippers and followers of the Most High. We are servants in the court of the beneficent King. When he bestows riches of any sort, we should be prepared to use them for the good of all those around us.

(Good God, you know I write this way because I need convincing. I know that what you give me is a good gift. Even as I am looking for the exchange counter, teach me how to use what you have given me, teach me to accept and love it as you love and accept me. Show me how to make your will my own in the little things of every day. Because these are the only stepping stones I have to your throneroom. Let me one day be a faithful attendant there. Amen)

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From St. Thérèse

"We must see life in its true light . . . it is an instant between two eternities."

"Let us turn our single moment of suffering to profit, let us see each insant as if there were no other. An instant is a treasure."

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December 13, 2004

Hearts and Minds III

This is my third attempt to make clear something that has long been on my mind. I wrote at length about the problems besetting the two mindsets of the church, those "heart" oriented and those "head" oriented. I went into detail about how exactly each of these might be fixed to bring everything into proper balance.

That done and the previous drafts set aside, I gave myself a moment to think about it and reached a new conclusions about the problems besetting the Church. The reality is that there are so many people in the Church who insist on seeing things differently than I do. This is a serious problem. But it isn't the Church's problem. It's mine. I have all sorts of solutions to suggest to bring the Church and its various members into exact accord with me. Somehow, I find myself questioning the wisdom of that particular direction.

So, the solution to the problems in the Church is this: I need to bring myself into accord with the mind of the Church and not busy myself nearly so much with fixing up everything I see as wrong. Wrong or right, my view is not the wisdom of the ages, the wisdom of the age, or even (very likely) wisdom at all. So rather than tell you all how you can fix your broken church, I think I'll make my way to confession and fix my broken self (at least until the next major goof-up.)

Perhaps someday I will learn that not everything should circulate around me. I pray that that day is sooner rather than later.

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December 12, 2004

A Samuel Story

Today Samuel was reading a simplified version of the Christmas Story. It said that Gabriel brought the message to Joseph the Carepenter. I asked him, "What is a carpenter," (After all, given my DIY challenged status, carpenter is not a word bandied about here.) His answer. "A man who sells carpets." Priceless.

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