If Grace were living today, she would be about 111 years old. She was one of my neighbors a long time ago in a town in Hampshire. My little family adopted her and she adopted us, as our own grandmothers were far away, or had passed away. The "guys" in the family would go watch the World Cup with her as she liked soccer, oops, football. I would make American like snacks for them all to eat.
She and I would talk about England before WWII and even, before WWI. When she was very little, Grace would accompany her dad to Covent Garden.
He dad grew and sold watercress, something for which Hampshire is still famous. Her dad grew the cress in a field of soaked land. He would pick it, and then take it by horse and wagon to London to sell.
Grace told me that as a very little girl, her dad would pick her up and set her on top of the crates of cress. Sitting in the back of the wagon, Grace would go all the way to London with her dad. She told me it took hours to get there, and they would arrive in the dark, about four o'clock, at Covent Garden.
Grace said in the summer she would sit in the wagon without stockings or shoes, wearing just a little chemise type dress.
I can imagine her in my mind's eye, with her bright blue eyes and long, blond, curly hair, wearing a little grey dress and dangling her long, thin legs over the edge of the wagon.
Grace died a long time ago. Today, as I listen to Ralph Vaughan Williams A London Symphony, I think of Grace. She did not want to go to the rest home near us. She wanted to stay in the two-up, two-down house she had lived in with her husband and children.
But, she got to the stage where she could not go up the steep stairs without taking her cane and wrapping it around the barrister, pulling herself up.
We saw her once or twice in the rest home, but then, we moved away from that immediate area, and in a short time, we heard she had passed away.
Grace, cress, Covent Garden, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Hampshire, Surrey fill my thoughts today.
Friday, 6 December 2013
Too many Catholics do not understand the importance of connections, with fraternizing with like-minded people.
We are among pagans most of the day in this secular society, and we are meeting many lax and unorthodox, fallen away Catholics, even at church.
But, if we are living alone, or separated from a supporting family, or come from a non-Catholic family whose values and goals are antithetical to ours, we must still seek out friends to help us stay focused in these hard times.
Talking about the lives of others, including sports and movies stars, is just plain wrong.
One of my on line friends said that it was hard to keep away from gossip. I know this is true. It is very hard to steer conversations away from talking about people. And, frequently, gossip reveals unforgiveness, as the same stories and faults of others are revealed over and over again.
A friend of mine goes out to coffee and then complains to me of the gossip. I asked her why she had to be around these people. She could not give me an answer, as she does not want to stop going out. I would be concerned that the gathering is consistently an occasion of sin.
Twitter and other social networking forums can be occasions of sin. Think about that, please.
It is hard to correct people who do not take the hint that you do not want to hear about another person's sins.
But, if those people are peers, or younger, we must correct them, gently, firmly, if the hints are not taken.
And, if the problem persists, one may have to stop seeing the gossipers, as one is in an occasion of sin each time you all meet.
The same is true about complaining. What is hard to do is point out complaining to those who feel frustrated and who are harboring hurts.
To the young, I say do not be afraid to correct those older than yourselves.
To the old, I say it is your duty to correct gossipers and complainers, gently, but firmly.
If the patterns, the habits do not change, sometimes, we have to remove ourselves from the presence of those who refuse to change.
We do not need to put ourselves in the occasion of sin.
For those who have families which are steeped in gossip and complaining, pray a lot. These old family habits are very, very hard to break. As we cannot always correct aunts and uncles older than we are, we have to sometimes remove ourselves from the conversation.
Pray for healing for those who gossip and complain. But, do not put yourselves in compromising positions.
Surround yourselves with good, Catholic, charitable friends.
A sad article...http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-83255/Men-likely-gossip-women--survey.html
I am more and more impressed by the old Blessed John Paul II than the young.
Many Catholics love him and remember him in his prime, bringing about the fall of communism in Poland, and inspiring thousands of young men to become priests.
But, the Blessed John Paul II, who appeals to me, is the one who endured such suffering towards the end of his long papacy.
The press was not kind to Blessed John Paul II in his last illness. The main-stream-media did not understand the great mystery of illness and pain which God was allowing His servant to suffer.
We are faced with such pain, old age, infirmity, daily. The truth is that God allows this decay for His reasons. One reason is just that such is the result of Original Sin.
One of my friend's mother died after a very short, intense bout with Alzheimer's Disease. The mother died so fast, everyone was surprised. But, the woman had led a saintly life. Those who think about her life now understand that God took her quickly and almost painlessly.
But, Blessed John Paul II followed God's Will in weakness, not in strength at the end.
Pray to him for all those who are experiencing pain and suffering. He may well be the patron saint of the old.
Labels: saints and martyrs
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, I was told recently, told a priest that she never had clarity about her life. She just went day to day, working, praying, living in darkness as to God's Perfect Will.
She had rare moments of consolation.
Each saint experiences God differently, as each person is created uniquely. We cannot and should not judge how God works in the lives of those around us.
What may seem like something worldly may be the Perfect Will of God in someone's life.
To discern God's Will is part of our journey to perfection. If God withholds clarity, that is His Plan and one must humbly accept such a state. If one can only see the day presented today and nothing else, rejoice in that Plan.
Some people find their vocation and God's Will as young people. Some struggle in long years of searching for God's Perfect Will. Some people actually run away from God's Plan. St. Benedict Labre failed at everything he did. He is a great saint of humility and peace.
God's Will does not change, but He can will change in our lives, states Thomas Aquinas. But, all that God wills is good. There is an additional mystery that all things which happen to us are in the Will of God-even suffering and trials.
Here is a snippet from Thomas Aquinas: Thus in the case of the raising of Lazarus, one who looked only on inferior causes might have said: "Lazarus will not rise again," but looking at the divine first cause might have said: "Lazarus will rise again." And God wills both: that is, that in the order of the inferior cause a thing shall happen; but that in the order of the higher cause it shall not happen; or He may will conversely. We may say, then, that God sometimes declares that a thing shall happen according as it falls under the order of inferior causes, as of nature, or merit, which yet does not happen as not being in the designs of the divine and higher cause. Thus He foretold to Ezechias: "Take order with thy house, for thou shalt die, and not live" (Is. 38:1). Yet this did not take place, since from eternity it was otherwise disposed in the divine knowledge and will, which is unchangeable. Hence Gregory says (Moral. xvi, 5): "The sentence of God changes, but not His counsel"---that is to say, the counsel of His will. When therefore He says, "I also will repent," His words must be understood metaphorically. For men seem to repent, when they do not fulfill what they have threatened.
This is a mystery not accepted by most of the world, which rejects the value of suffering. God's Will may include tremendous suffering. St. Faustina suffered the ill treatment of nuns in her own house. St. Padre Pio suffered the ill treatment of men in his own house. St. Louis de Montfort met obstacle after obstacle on his path to perfection.
Many times, it is those in the Church, even other good people, who provide the suffering in one's life.
Such was the case for St. Damian of Molokai, who was stymied in his work by his own bishop. He was accused of pride and arrogance. The saint kept going on with the vision God had given Him
The vision or vocation of one saint is not the same as that of another. There is no such thing as a cookie-cutter saint.
If Catholics stand back and judge other Catholics by outward signs of success or even successful holiness, this type of attitude is not of God. God works in so many different ways.
I am learning that a friend of mine has become holy because of a divorce. She has become holy because of great suffering which has left her alone. Some people in her life criticize her. I see the re-birth of a beautiful soul.
Can one imagine the type of judgments Blessed Teresa of Calcutta endured? She was criticized for taking money when she received the Nobel Peace Prize. She was criticized for not working for political changes, or setting up hospitals, but only tending to the dying. She was criticized for having a ministry which gave dignity to death and suffering instead of taking it away.
Blessed Mother Teresa was criticized for having long periods of doubt and darkness, of not being on top of financial issues, of fraternizing with less than holy men and women for the sake of her missionaries.
There are over 5,000 sisters in her order in the world today. Her story is one of courage and persistence.
Do not judge anyone. Do not suppose you understand someone's spiritual life because of your own. Do not judge the suffering of another.
And, most of all, as warned by Father Ripperger, be suspicious of psychological explanations which may undermine the path to perfection. Psychology is limited. Those who were keen on psychology criticized both Blessed Teresa and Blessed John Paul II. They would only want to see wholeness rather than holiness. These are not the same thing. God may allow a person not to be what the world would call "whole" for the greater Glory of His Name. God may allow a person deep suffering for a reason. Blessed John Paul II was not physically whole at the end of his papacy. Yet, in that long illness, he was being made holy.
The world does not understand that mystery of suffering.
In the Dark Night, the soul and God move from brokenness to a deeper brokenness, that of the breaking of the ego.
The worldling does not understand suffering and purgation. To become a blessed was a hard road for Teresa of Calcutta. Perhaps that is her message for us today. Persevere totally in Faith. Keep going. Do not give up.
Rejoice in the suffering, somehow,as God is in both the overall picture and in the details.
Christ was abandoned by all His best friends but young John. Why? One simple reason--that His friends did not want to share in His Suffering. They ran away rather than suffer with Someone Who loved them. They ran away rather than enduring the pain of failure and rejection.
They ran away out of fear.
They did not want to stand up with He Who took on sin. Sometimes, we have to stand up with sinners; we are sinners as well. Only the falsely perfect reject the sinner. Guess what? I am a sinner and all my friends are sinners. But, we love each other through and even out of the sin.
Love and forgive, forgive and love-and be willing to suffer on your own and with others.
Do not be afraid. And, if, like my friend, who is so far away facing divorce, you find yourself suffering alone, know that you are being called to Calvary.
Blessed Teresa said this: “If someone criticizes you, first ask yourself, is it right? If he is right, apologize and change, and the issue is resolved. If he is not right, clarify and correct, but if that does not work, take up the unjust accusations with both hands and offer it to Jesus in union with his suffering, because he was slandered by all sides.”
In her case, such judgments were God's Plan for her sanctification. God works in the spiritual realm, and most people in the world do not understand what that means.
To be continued....
Between 56 and 57 percent of the 18- to-29-year-old respondents didn't approve of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare (depending on how the question was asked); 40 to 44 percent thought their quality of care would get worse under the new law; and 50 to 51 percent said they expected costs to increase. More below...
|On the Road to Emmaus|
In the days to come, shortly, chaos in the financial and other sectors of life will cause great confusion among people. Those who are preparing themselves for the afterlife, for eternity, will be able to meet these challenges. Those who are focused on this world will be horribly shaken, as those common cultural elements upon which they rely will horribly change and disappear.
Those who pray and reflect will be able to help others who will panic. Panic happens when one is unprepared.
There is in America a lack of seriousness among many Catholics. The idea that things in the culture will just continue as these have for decades seems to be a false security for many. Our only security is in God.
One of the ideals lost after Vatican II, but not necessarily caused by that council, was the teaching of the immediacy that one has to work for one's salvation in fear and trembling. This ideal was undermined by the false teaching that Catholics are already saints as well as the minimization of the seriousness of sin.
Too many people are not even thinking of their own salvation, but assuming it will happen.
Salvation is not a once and for all decision. It just does not happen. St. Paul knew this and warned us.
12 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation.
The disciples on the Way to Emmaus were confused. Christ met them, explaining the Scriptures, the Law, the Prophets to them.
This is what we must do now.
For those interested in most of the postings on the predominant fault, I have tried to find most of the links on this subject, which is a Catholic idea, btw, and not a protestant one.
As one who is being dragged into looking at my predominant faults, I can assure you the journey is painful, but worth it.
As Garrigou-Lagrange notes, without a struggle, we shall not be made perfect, as we are called to be.
Mortification plays a huge part in the destruction of the predominant fault.
Let God lead into those murky waters of sin in order to deal with the predominant fault. Here is a selection from the great Dominican.
The truth is that without this persevering and efficacious struggle we cannot sincerely aspire to Christian perfection, toward which the supreme precept makes it a duty for all of us to tend. This precept is, in fact, without limit: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with all thy strength and with all thy mind: and thy neighbor as thyself." (11)
Without this struggle, there is no interior joy or peace, for the tranquility of order or peace comes from the spirit of sacrifice. It alone establishes us interiorly in order by putting to death all that is inordinate in US.(12)
Lastly, charity, the love of God and of souls in God, finally prevails completely over the predominant fault; it then truly occupies the first place in our soul and reigns there effectively. Mortification, which makes our principal fault disappear, delivers us and assures the predominance in our soul of our true natural qualities and of our special attraction of grace. Thus little by little, we grow to be ourselves, in the broad sense of the word, that is, to be supernaturally ourselves minus our defects. We do not have to copy in a more or less servile manner another's qualities, or enter a uniform mold that is the same for all. There is a great variety in human personalities, just as no two leaves or flowers are perfectly similar. But a person's temperament must not be crushed; it must be transformed while keeping whatever is good in it. In our temperament, our character must be the imprint of the acquired and infused virtues, especially of the theological virtues. Then, instead of instinctively referring everything to self, as is the case when the predominant fault reigns, we will turn everything back to God, think almost continually of Him, and live for Him alone; at the same time we will lead to Him those with whom we come into contact.