Sunday, 19 November 2017

Wake up, sleeper

At the Divine Liturgy today we had this wonderful passage from Ephesians (5: 9-19)

For the fruit of the light is in all goodness, and justice, and truth; 
Proving what is well pleasing to God:
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 
For the things that are done by them in secret, it is a shame even to speak of. 
But all things that are reproved, are made manifest by the light; for all that is made manifest is light. Wherefore he saith: Rise thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead: and Christ shall enlighten thee.  
See therefore, brethren, how you walk circumspectly: not as unwise,
But as wise: redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 
Wherefore become not unwise, but understanding what is the will of God. 
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is luxury; but be ye filled with the holy Spirit, 
Speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord;

And whilst my new home is a wonderful place, it is not immune to darkness and dark things. Right now I needed to hear more about the light.  This was good to hear. 

Heretic that I may be, I do not think the so called "Traditional Latin Mass" per se will cure everything from the vocations crisis to hemorrhoids. I fact I don't think it can "solve" anything.  All times are evil, nothing changes, our only remit is to make melody in our hearts to the Lord....... why are we so keen to look for problems to solve?  Crosswords and Sudoku are for solving if that floats your boat, but life.... no that is for living and being alive is about what is in our hearts, not what we do or how we like to do things.

I'm learning the Romanian National Anthem, I fear I will be asked to sing it shortly, it is jolly good, you can listen here.  Two verses stick out.(for which I have given the English below).... and in these days of a Europe dominated by the ideas of George Soros and his money, perhaps the words are as prescient as ever. The new evil may well turn out to be a far greater threat than Nazis, Soviets or Ottomans ever imposed for the simple fact that most are asleep and cannot see it... and sadly those that can see it seem to be heading down the path of obnoxious Nationalism rather than a genuinely Christian response.


 Wake up, Romanian, from the sleep of death
 Into which you have been sunk by the barbaric tyrants
Now, or never, make a new fate for yourself,
 To which even your cruel enemies will bow.

 Priests, lead with your crucifixes, for our army is Christian,
 The motto is Liberty and its goal is holy,
 Better to die in battle, in full glory,
 Than to once again be slaves upon our ancient ground!










Friday, 17 November 2017

Cyril says ....


Those of you who have not trawled through the archive of this blog, may be unaware of my existence.  I am Cyril Bonaventure d'Wombat. A year or so after the death of the owner of this blog's husband I was commissioned to take control of all things practical relating to the running of this household.  I was sent to live the Tigersh one and have been part of her staff ever since. My exact remit is:
  • to make sure finances run smoothly
  • to do the cooking on a Saturday
  • to keep the mistress of the house stocked up with oven chips
  • to oversee practicalities like the paying of bills
  • to remind her to do things as she is prone to forget
I am extremely good at my job and financially independent. I trade in "Square Poo", and dump some of the profits from this enterprise into her account on a regular basis so in effect I pay for my keep.

Now that business has transferred to Eastern Europe, there has not been much in the way of change to my role. Dealing with bills now involves me having to open the door to Mr Popescu once a month who comes to read the meters, he returns few days later with a hand written bill in neat a copperplate. Finances are finances, cooking is cooking and reminders are reminders wherever you are, but oven chips are not universal.  The only ones I can find are Polish and they are unpleasant in taste and texture.

She-who-pays-the-rent is in good spirits.  She likes it here. She wants to stay for many more years and even says to me she wants to die out here. Arranging funerals may go beyond the capabilities of a wombat (apart from the ability to dig a damn fine hole). I'm hoping that such an event is a long way off. I'm actually hoping that husband number 2 reveals his identity at some point, I'm sure he is out here somewhere, though she is more fiercely independent than a wombat and seems to scare most men off  either by her brutal honesty or because they perceive her as some sort of mega-brained know-it-all.

I have no desire to return to darkest Wessex either.  I like the new abode, it is clean and bright and there isn't a clerical item in sight, she's not mending or cleaning anything for the Men in Black out here. Perfect oven chips and husbands can wait.  She doesn't seem that desperate for either but she doesn't tell me everything.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Let's Talk About Sin

If we are to sin, we are usually tempted first.  God does not tempt us directly, but there are times when He allows the world, the flesh and the devil to do their bit and tempt us away from the narrow path. We are never tempted beyond what we can overcome, or (in other words) beyond our ability to call on God for help. As Adolphe Tanquerey so succinctly says in his marvellous manual "The Spiritual Life", the sin only takes place when the following three things happen in order: suggestion, pleasure, consent.

Suggestion is the proposal of some evil.
Pleasure follows suggestion, where the person feels a sensation of being drawn towards the suggestion. Pleasure does not have to be pleasurable, indeed in sins surrounding despair, bitterness and emptyness, the sensation is far from pleasant and may indeed be an absence of all sensation and a horrific, all consuming staring into the abyss.
Consent is where the will delights and acquiesces to the suggestion.

It is an act of great heroism to withhold the acquiescence and combat the temptation and we are not really up to it.

OK so much for the text books.  I'm not so sure real life is quite so straightforward and the massive problem we all have is a belief in our own morality and the way we confuse morality with the Divine Law. Morality is usually born of disgust and therefore not part of our higher faculties. Morality is not strong enough to stand up to temptation.  The thing about the spiritual life is that our moral compass disappears when tempted.  The suggestions we face and which are coloured by the world, the flesh or the devil so often feel right, feel just, and indeed feel heaven sent.  Our conscience, so called, doesn't have a chance.

In the field of love this is particularly problematic.  Love is a good.  Love comes from God.  How that love is demonstrated is up to us and we are pathetic at truly loving and aiming as high as possible with those expressions of love. The flesh alone wants to be the theatre in which the acts of love take place. There are other dimensions to love which will be neglected if this is the case.

Today in the Greek-Catholic church we had the Gospel story of the Good Samaritan.  If we claim to be Christians in Communion with Our Lord then it is not enough to avoid sin like the Levite who passed by and did not help the dying man. There are times when avoidance of occasions of sin is not enough.  There are times when we can't walk on by.  There are times when  we see Christ in someone so beaten up by life's horrors and the offering of our love may well be misinterpreted and an occasion for sin, but to ignore them would be a greater sin. We too are beaten up, broken and worthless but we have something to give, something that will help, we are made to be generous.

And marvellously the Byzantine Rite comes to the rescue and as we say before Communion: I will not kiss You as did Judas.

Think on that.  Think hard.  If we see Christ in our love, then we must respond accordingly and not be a traitor to His Love.  We must not kiss as did Judas.

The heroism is in knowing our powerlessness and in handing everything over to God.  The heroism is remembering the First Commandment (remembering Love) and turning everything 100% over to God who is Love when every petty imagining is drawing us further and further away from this.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Remnant-ology

There is a movement within the Church of heart-breakingly sincere, well-educated, passionate Catholics with whom it is easy to have every sympathy.  However this doesn't stop them from being wrong.  They see themselves as a remnant of the True Faith, like small furry, lace loving mammals hiding in dark places till the big brash polyester dinosaurs of the 1970s have died out and they can reign supreme. They rally round their pet Bishops and have a good self-support network.  They are a good and wholesome bunch of folk and I don't dislike them in any way.  But they are wrong.

The notion of the remnant is simply not Catholic.  Catholic means universal, it is not to be found in any one style of the Mass, any one method of prayer, any one group of like-minded individuals. The universal Church is simply that, universal.  It is found wherever souls are grafted onto the Living Vine.  All that is not of Christ will wither, and it doesn't need our help to do this, it will happen all by itself.

I am writing from a country with no Traditional Latin Mass, and I do wonder if it would be welcome here. There are a significant number of the population who are familiar with Latin.  There is a genuine religiosity about the people, a reverence and an unblinking acceptance of the numinous and supernatural.  Modernism has very little hold over the hearts and minds of the faithful.  Yet a TLM community will probably never happen and the idea of the TLM and traditional custom and practice being parachuted in to "save" the good folk of this land, is absurd.  They are faithful and they are not part of the remnant, they are very much mainstream. And for myself, cut off form my own access to the TLM which I love, I have been made only too aware of the power of the sacraments irrespective of the rite.  It is the priesthood and the sacraments that matter.

The vast majority of Catholics throughout the world are living faithful to the Gospels and teaching of the Apostles, yet they are not Traditionalists.  The traditionalist remnant is a response to "first world" problems: the lack of faith and the problem of cutting God down to size to "fit" our human concerns. To my way of thinking the remnant's response is a very protestant response.  It involves believing you are right, it involves conviction, it involves some notion that progress and change happen.  They don't.  The Catholic Church has always been a mess, and filled with corruption.  It is simply a miracle (or is it The Miracle) that She keeps going.  And they make the grave error of cutting God down to size to fit into their way of thinking, they see problems and solutions, not the Glory of God.

Each and everyone of us is a microcosm of the Church.  Each and every one of us has within us access to the means of salvation and eternal blessedness, and we have the free will to choose to do this, access to the TLM makes no difference to this fact.

That the Church is tired and that Modernism has brought Her to a sorry state of internal conflict are irrefutable facts.  There is no solution.  We are fighting the long-defeat and it is about time we started living this reality and stopped trying to make things better.

Let God arise!

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

What is love?



What is love?
I’m talking about the stuff that overwhelms a pair of adult human beings with surprise and heroism and engulfs the pair in emotions from the most base to the transcendent.  Normally I write about the more unrequited version of the same thing. Here I write about what happens when it is devastating on both sides. It arrives unbidden, leaves some indelible mark and either fades back into the shadows or feeds like a welcome parasite on the stricken pair, who often submit in total powerlessness to its desires.

I am far too scientific and genuinely unromantic to pay too much attention to the emotions involved.  They are like waves on the shore, they can be of any strength including utterly overpowering.  The feelings can be sweet agony or a simple lightness of heart.  I will not feed them and nurture them as I don’t ever wish them to be my own; a thing I have crafted, an idol of my own making.  That way is the way to narcissism. So, the feelings and all the bio-chemical confusion therein do their worst, I can detach myself from that, heartless bitch that I am. 

But there is something else there, and the eyes of the lovers find a home in each other...

I am fond of echoing the Church Fathers and saying “love is an act of the will”, and this is where I seem to be out of step with the modern world. However, love is desiring what is best for the other, whatever that “best” may be.  It is total dedication to that cause, no matter how futile it may be for yourself.  Most of the time we do not know what is best, only that there exists a best and that we are part of that “best”.  This is an act of the will.  No base emotions, lust or sentiment  will take you there because emotions  are transient.  Loving as an act of the will has to happen when feelings have fled, when nearly anything but loving may seem preferable, when there is no pleasure in the act of loving, when there is darkness, or when the futility is at its most pronounced or when it seems to be simply absurd.

But if I don’t know what is best, then how does this come about?

Love must involve a complete distrust of self at the same time as ensuring the beloved must have total trust in you. This seems to be a paradox, but one we must live in its entirety. It involves detachment from self and it involves God.  It is impossible for any relationship to be lived in its fullness without God.  God is the source of all love and goodness, there is no love without God.  The genuine love two people will have for each other will either become idolatry or it simply will not last unless its Author is guiding every step. And this doesn’t involve some massive religious conversion, just trust and a deep down acceptance of the Law He has written in our hearts. We do know how we should behave and when we do, we know it is for the best.

The romance occurs when the heroic chastity and self-restraint are mutual, when there is total self-giving, unconditional love and above all a delight in the beloved because they are a creature of God. A creature, who for some inexplicable reason your own growth and own journey to heaven is inexorably linked.

It is a darkness yet it is light, it terrifying yet gentle, it can be sad beyond words yet full of joy. Love is the eternal ecstasy already germinating  within us, why do we so often make such a mess of letting it grow?

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

ITMA

F.W. Faber C.O, that is.....  and here are a few timely words from him. To me they speak of the Reformation and our dealings with Protestantism , they were published in 1856.

The forgetfulness that we are creatures... is an error which is less obviously hateful than a direct forgetfulness of God, and consequently it wins its way into holy places where the other would find no admittance.

.. When a Catholic enters into intimate dealings with Protestants, he must not forget to place his sentries, and act as if he was in an enemy's country; and this is unkindly work, and as miserable as it is unkindly. Yet so it is.  When newspapers tell us that Catholicism is always more reasonable and less superstitious when it is in the immediate presence of Protestantism, they indicate something which they have observed, namely a change.  Now if our religion be changed by Protestantism, we can have little difficulty in deciding whether it has changed for better or worse ......

Sadly (tragically) I think today many Catholics would say Catholicism is changed for the better.  What do I care?  Here I am serving and praising God, protected by the fiery wings of the Cherubim and Seraphim in an Orthodox land. And I don't deserve this blessing one bit. It is just that in peering out towards all thing Roman from this wonderful country and its people, the repugnance of celebrating the Reformation is magnified so as to appear a grotesque spectacle of self-congratulatory faux humility and faux Charity.

****

Dear Fr Faber, I wonder if I will ever be back in London to leave more roses on your memorial stone in the Brompton Oratory.  I have so much to thank you for.  You are at least in part responsible for my being out here.... and it is only out here that I have felt that I am living the Faith, or to be more precise, that I feel alive. I am away from that "miserable", "unkindly" and utterly exhuasting work and battles for the Truth that back in Blighty, took the place of simple faith in the living God. 


Sunday, 22 October 2017

Just so that you know ....


... after nearly 2 years, it is time to hand you back completely to the care of your Guardian Angels.   Your soul is beautiful but you are more swan than cormorant, what happens above and below the waterline are so very different. Perhaps I could see too much .......

Bendictus Dominus die quotidie. Prosperum iter faciat nobis Deus salutarium nostrorum. 

I am out here now for some other purpose that is slowly being revealed to me, and there is joy in my heart......

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Angels and Demons



I wrote this piece below for the a creative writing competition at my last workplace. It got a prize... not bad for a Physicist ...... With all the nonsense of Halloween coming up, I was reminded of it again and it may help explain why I'll not be getting into the party spirit for that occasion ..... just thought you might be interested......

Somewhere in England, an angel and a demon are sitting on a tree stump watching people in a park.
The demon speaks:

What is it that you see? These creatures before us. Flesh and blood
Stinky stinky flesh and blood
(ponder and pause)
I find them funny.  Yes, most of the time I find them really funny. 
See that tired old man. Look!  Him and his dog.
He’s shuffling. Little doggie’s shuffling.
He’s got a vacant stare.  Little doggie’s just the same. 
Same old route every day.  Same, same, same, same, same.
No curiosity, no smile, no nothing. 
You have to laugh, eh?
Oh, I forgot, you don’t laugh much. 
Poor old boy is so tired, tired of life,
Joyless  utterly  joyless.
What am I saying?  Who cares?
(pause)
Hmmm, anyhow this joy stuff’s your department. 
I dunno what it is. 
What is it?  I mean if you’re so big on joy,
why don’t you just give the old boy some joy?
Puff! Sparkle! Woosh
down over him like fairy dust and smother his old bones with “joy”. 
Eh, whaddya say? 
Or, maybe it’s all a lie, maybe there is no “joy”,
Whatever it is. 
That one thing you promise, it doesn’t exist does it? 
Eh?  Eh. 
You are a fraud.  You and your like, you are simply frauds. 
That is why you never speak to me.  You’ve got nothing to say.
You’ve got nothing.
(pause)
Say something.  For crying out loud, say something.
Huh, why do I bother?
OK, so you won’t talk about that old boy. 
Yup I know we’ve tussled over him before. 
I got him interested in gambling and he really took to it. 
He loved talk of the bookies, his “turf accountant” and getting the Racing Post. 
See, I did him a favour. 
I gave him something to believe in, I gave him some pleasure.
Those gee gees really romped home sometimes ….occasionally.
And what did you do, eh? 
Well, you came and fetched his wife and took her to the realm beyond. 
What’s that all about? 
There was me, giving him some pleasure,
and there was you, filling him with grief and regret. 
What is it with you? 
You take everything from these people.  Everything…..
Man, you really are a joke!
OK so you won’t talk about the old boy. 
How about those two on their lunchbreak on that bench?
I don’t think we’ve seen them before. 
They’re tired too.  (sniffs) They’re eating foreign stuff,
Bet they’re Polish or Latvian or something. 
Look at how the more they eat, the more they stare into the distance.
Remembering something far from here.  Some half-forgotten warmth. 
Some half-forgotten tenderness. Some time when life was simpler.
Oh they’re sooo lonely….
Oh they’re sooo tired ….
Now I’m feeling sorry for them. 
Yes, I’m feeling sorry for them! 
Me, nasty little me, is really feeling sorry for them. 
I’m going to befriend them. 
I’m going to tell them to go and spend some of that money on themselves for a change and stop sending it back home. 
I’ll tell them to go into town, dress up a bit, feel goooood, have some beers, find some girls, be good to themselves, really go and…..
Oh wait,
Did I see you flinch then? 
Was there a nearly imperceptible flicker of something from your angelic self. 
Little angelic-eyes always fixed on heaven – goody goody- angel never says anything – rarely does anything…. nearly moved….
Yes, I nearly got a reaction out of you. 
You don’t want me to go near them, do you? 
Well, stop me. 
Go on, stop me.
(he goes to approach the two men but stops short)
(He wails like he’s been scalded and comes back to the tree stump.)
What in the name….! 
How did you do that?
I get near the one on the left
He bent over to tie his shoe and
That thing round his neck fell from his neck. 
He picked it up.
Held it close. 
He did that thing that I find so repugnant. 
That thing I can’t talk about. 
He got strength from somewhere.
Ewww, yeuch, I feel a bit creepy, bit “unclean”
… but I’ll try again later
… if I can be bothered
…. There’s probably more fun to be had elsewhere. 
I’m out for fun. 
F.U. N. 
Hear that word? 
F.U.N.
What you are not. 
You are no fun, no fun at all.
And you just sit there.
BORING!
Why do I bother? 
Why do I even try to talk to you? 
You disgust me.
Right here before my eyes
You disgust me.
Constantly alert, yet so very calm
So ANNOYINGLY calm,
And there’s light
Foul, terrible, incomprehensible light….
Seering pain to the heart of my being.
The lance in my side
I scream silently and eternally
Hurt unfathomable.
But.. get this, oh angelic one!
Get this….
I win, 
Hear that.
I WIN
Non, rein de rien,
Non, je ne regrette rien.
They are not interested in what you have to offer. 
The world is mine.
I will open all their eyes.
I will turn them all to me.
And they will see nothing else. 
They will feel pride. 
They will be selfish. 
They will be greedy.
They will be careless. 
They will hurt.
They will feel anger.
They will hate. 
They will be violent.
They aren’t capable of anything else. 
That is their lot. 
Miserable stinky creatures, born for misery…
Live in misery….. 
And then they die…
Puff, dead... puff… puff…
Snuffed out like a candle and
Not even a wiff of that thing called “joy”.
Whatever it is.
(walks off in disgust)

Saturday, 14 October 2017

on being Catholic

A holy priest (who stopped linking to my blog from his own some time a go) has a motto "never tread rough-shod over the piety of the faithful". It is a good motto and one I try to live by.

Out here the faithful I am in daily contact with are mainly Orthodox. There is a wonderful simplicity to their faith and an understanding of Catholicism that is instinctive.  There is a closeness which is indescribable.  There is also a "slain in the Spirit" Pentecostalism about Orthodoxy which is find most attractive because being Orthodox it is distrustful of human emotions.  It is quiet, sure footed, confident, and for the most part humble, but Pentecostal it is.  In many ways it is what I have been looking for all my life.

Immersed in the minutiae of the Catholic Church, I felt stuck at the foot of the cross.  It is not a bad place to be, but I longed to experience the Resurrection in my heart;  not as some sort of happy feeling, but as a living reality, beyond words, something silent and blindingly obvious.  I knew it intellectually, but something was missing, which being Catholic, I have been willing to suffer.

The switch has been thrown out here.  What I have been longing for, the Resurrection is now everything and I am nothing.

I am a Catholic. Being a Catholic is being stuck  in Hotel California.  You can check out any time you like but you can never leave. I can never not be a Catholic, I attest to the Truth of the Faith,  I do not find myself with any argument or disagreement over doctrine or dogma or the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome and I try by the grace of God, to live by Her Truth: She is Holy Mother Church.  But oh how I loathe Catholicism!

Is it part of my faith that I have to attest that merit can be gained through bidding on beads or through suffering per se?  Is it part of my faith that God wants our suffering per se?  Is it part of my faith that merit exists as something objective and quantifiable?  What has that to do with the Grace of God? I find Catholicism obsessed with morality and merit; it often feels more like a belief in Santa, checking to see if we've been naughty or nice. The one thing necessary is the Love of God: everything else falls into place from that One Thing. Goodness comes from God, not from morals.  The Law comes from God. Drink in the Law, love the Law in its Fullness and Completion and morality flows in you..... recite Ps118 and praise God without ceasing...... morality is meaningless otherwise.

You see dear reader,  this is only my personal opinion and one I am allowed to hold; but I feel the Church has been held to ransom by Fatima for the last 100 years.  It treads roughshod over traditional piety, the piety I am witnessing out here.  It leaves me feeling so isolated amongst many of my fellow Catholics. I find Fatima as loveless as it is spectacular and I think it has become divisive amongst the faithful (even amongst different flavours of Fatima devotees). I can be a Catholic without Fatima and you can be a Catholic with Fatima, in that respect it is unimportant. There is lots I want to say about Fatima, but I'd be treading on your piety if I did, so I'll refrain.

For the record, I am consecrated to Our Lady, I have received many graces through undertaking the 33 day consecration. I have no difficulty with Marian dogma.  Her Immaculate Heart will triumph.

The sun is shining, it is a beautiful Autumnal day out here and a major Feast day for the Orthodox: Saint Parascheva, who is very dear to the Romanians. There is a festive air about the place. I am so very grateful to be here.... living as I do the life of an "Anonymous Catholic"......

Let God arise!


Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Autumn Journal

Well dear reader, my plans for being busy have been floored, literally.  I fell over twice and it seemed to be a precursor to some sort of ear problem, I am extremely dizzy and have been unable to do anything much, even watching the clouds and vapour trails whilst reclining on the sofa in the living room was too much.

I needed to be far more resilient when ill back in remotest Wessex.  Staggering about to find a neighbour who could make the 10 mile round trip to the nearest chemist to pick something up for me was no easy feat. Here, after downing some Aspirin and bottle of soothing Chefir (fermented milk product and comfort food par-excellence) all that was needed was a very slow walk on a stick to the nearest chemist about 200 yards away followed by some faltering Romanian to explain I was dizzy, but had no temperature and was not pregnant.  Some extremely powerful, and expensive medication was obtained (which would certainly not be "over the counter" in the UK) and I can now sit upright for more than a minute.

And as I type there is the gentle and welcome sound of hot water gingerly trickling through the central heating system for the first time in months. Central heating and hot water are communal, we do not have our own boilers.  The heating only comes on when it has been below a certain temperature for 3 consecutive nights. We have definitely reached that milestone. It is now officially cold.

My bonus for not being at work today was a warm shower.  Normally I'm first up in the bloc and the hot water has to travel a long way before entering my apartment, I usually can't be bothered to wait for something better than tepid. This morning somebody else had to be first up and run the cold out of the system.

Life plods on. Life is good. Just remind me never to say I plan to be busy ever again.

So that if now alone
I must pursue this life, it will not be only
A drag from numbered stone to numbered stone
But a ladder of angels, river turning tidal.


Sunday, 8 October 2017

Power and Glory

I am grateful to Joe for his latest post Guardini on the Rosary.  The quotes from Guardini give such a  clear exposition of the beauty of the Rosary and its simplicity. My own thoughts were turned towards Lepanto and were considerably more acerbic. I now feel able to write more clearly on this subject. Whenever I think of the Battle of Lepanto, Bob Dylan's God on their Side starts playing automatically in the cranial jukebox and it makes for an uncomfortable juxtaposition, but one that needs to be worked through.  To quote Dylan:

But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we're forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God's on your side.

 .....

So now as I'm leavin'
I'm weary as Hell
The confusion I'm feelin'
Ain't no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God's on our side
He'll stop the next war.


There is bitter irony in Dylan's words and some truth in that irony.

I think the Battle of Lepanto has to be seen in the context of a hermeneutic of continuity,  a continuity stretching back to the battles of Joshua and the battles of King David. Certainly for David, victory only came when his army was outnumbered and poorly equipped.  Victory was never guaranteed. Victory was always supernatural not mathematical, he even gets help from the trees in one case. It was about complete trust in God and purity of intention and purity of self.  If the Battle of Lepanto is seen in this light, and in the light of Guardini's words on the Rosary, then it makes perfect sense.  Lepanto was a victory not because the Catholic forces were right, or because God was on their side, but because through the rosary all thoughts were turned to God, all thoughts were purified, all thoughts were stilled.  God could work through the sailors in battle and the victory could be won. As Cassain said memorably and somewhat uncomfortably to our ears, "All thoughts not of God are fornication".

You see, my problems stem from seeing Lepanto, Vienna and other memorable Catholic victories as victories of right over wrong, good over evil.  There is something terribly dualistic and un-Catholic about that and it leads to a sort of Catholic self-righteousness that misplaces the true essence of what it is to be a Catholic.

To be a Catholic is to be a failure and weak and invisible to the world. To be a Catholic is to know that nothing good can come from us.  To be a Catholic is to submit totally to the Blessed Trinity with unconditional praise, thanksgiving and shame for all those times when we tried to go it alone.

If we Catholics wish to be strong and right, if we truly desire to be fortified and be a citadel, shining like the walls of Jerusalem, then it is not victory that will be ours but Martyrdom.... read Ps50, if you don't believe me:

Deal favourably, O Lord in thy goodness with Sion:
that the walls of Jerusalem may be built up.
Then shall thou accept the sacrifice of justice
oblations and whole burnt offering:
Then shall they lay calves upon thy altar.  

*******

Dear regular readers, sorry for the flurry of activity on the blog, you have better things to do than read my drivel.  I will slow down again. You might not hear anything for a while now, too much to do.....



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