Thursday, January 30, 2014

Let Us Weep Over Our Own Sins

From the Sayings of the Desert Fathers:

A brother questioned Abba Poemen in this way, “My thoughts trouble me, making me put my sins aside, and concern myself with my brother’s faults.”

The old man told him the following story about Abba Diosorus:

In his cell he wept over himself, while his disciple was sitting in another cell. When the latter came to see the old man, he asked him, “Father, why are you weeping?”

“I am weeping over my sins,” the old man answered him.

Then his disciple said, “You do not have any sins, Father.”

The old man replied, “Truly, my child, if I were allowed to see my sins, three or four men would not be enough to weep for them.”

Sometimes I wonder about my own sins. I see some of them, yes. But how blind am I to others? It is one thing to sin out of ignorance and lack of understanding; it is another to sin but to refuse to acknowledge them  out of the blindness induced by pride and stubbornness.

At times, I do recognize my own sins when, as the brother in the beginning of the story says, I “concern myself with my brother’s faults.” I am prone to decry the sins of others, especially if they have done something to irritate me! But every now and then, I realize that my “brothers” faults are mine, as well.

We may try to convince ourselves that “I would never do that” when we see the faults and sins of others, but the truth is, we all have the capacity to sin in the same ways. And even if we don’t sin in one particular way, we surely have another sin that more than makes up for that fault we have found in our brother.

Now, would someone please remind me of this the next time I am flying into a rage over some perceived insult inflicted by a particular person?!

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Icy Fog and Gray Days

It has been foggy and icy cold the last few days; not even a peep of the sun.

It is depressing in a way. I really don't like prolonged grayness. Still, there is a beauty and calm that draws one in to admire and marvel at it...from the warm interior of a cozy house or hermitage, that is!

And of course, it is important that the grayness and depression not be allowed to affect our hope in Our Lord!

Here are some photos:

Here's one from before the fog set in...I love the contrast of the white on the blue sky:

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Dignity and Worth of Virginity

I read the other day about a nun who gave birth to a baby boy. She had returned to her native land for a visit, and apparently had a tryst with a “childhood flame”, the article said. The article also said she didn’t know she was pregnant, and was surprised to give birth.

We all fall.

Far be it from me to criticize and condemn this woman – though I certainly do not mean to say, “Who am I to judge?” We can certainly judge the wrongness of her behavior. People are tempted in all walks of life, and we all fall at one time or another. Some of us fall many times. There is of course always forgiveness for the contrite and penitent sinner; Our Lord promises that. The key, of course, is being contrite and penitent. Seems to me that that part is often left out when people talk about how Our Lord always forgives.

I was praying this morning, and the thought of that nun came to the forefront. I suddenly felt immensely sad about the whole thing. Now, I don’t know her circumstances, and I can only speak from what I read in one article. Is she contrite and penitent? I don’t know. She named the baby after Pope Francis…I guess I cannot say what that means to her, but I wonder if it has something to do with his perceived leniency for sinful behavior.

At any rate, I think we can make some generalizations about the state of our society based on that.

Virginity is not prized any longer. Maybe that’s a no-brainer, but it hit me hard this morning as I was thinking about that nun. A nun, of all people, should understand the dignity and worth of virginity.

Virgin martyrs have died horrible deaths to preserve their virginity!

But nowadays, many people seem to believe virginity is overrated. After all, they seem to think, virginity is only useful for protecting a woman from becoming pregnant, right? Since artificial contraception can accomplish the same thing, what’s the point of virginity? What’s the point of purity? In my experience, most people assume that a young man and young woman who have been “dating” for some time will soon live together. It is assumed they will engage in sexual intercourse. It is assumed that they will use some form of very effective birth control. It is assumed that when they are “ready” for children, they will get married and then the woman will become pregnant.

This all practically makes me weep, especially with regard to that nun. For a nun, virginity is a pledge of betrothal to Our Lord. HE alone is her Spouse.  And with such a Spouse, how could one even be tempted to be unfaithful to Him?! Yes, yes, I know temptations of the flesh are severe and difficult to avoid and overcome. Still… Our Lord!

I just do not know what else to say. I feel so sorry for that nun: that she seems not to understand the gravity of her offense; that she seems not to feel contrition for her act. (Maybe she does, though; the media certainly will not even ask that question!) She traded her purity and her betrothal to Our Lord for an illicit sexual act. She said she “feels more like a mum than a nun” - as well she should; she is, in fact, now a “mum”, and that precludes being a nun, doesn’t it? (There are exceptions, but let’s leave that alone for now; the exceptions I’m thinking of are qualitatively different from the one this particular nun exemplifies.)

Sigh. The state of our Church! The state of the faithful!

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Do You Dread the Judge, or Welcome Him?

This is from a homily by Pope St Gregory the Great:

And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding that, when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.

The Lord cometh at the hour of judgment. He knocketh when, by the pains of sickness, He biddeth us know that death is nigh. To Him open we immediately, if we receive Him in love. Whoso feareth to leave this body, will not open to the Judge when He knocketh, for he dreadeth to see that Judge, Whom he knoweth that he hath despised.

But whosoever knoweth that his hope and works are built upon a good foundation, when he heareth the Judge knock, openeth to Him immediately, for to such an one that coming is blessed, yea, when the hour of death is at hand, such an one haileth with gladness a glorious reward.

Oh yes, I think about that. I’ve written about death a time or two here. I think about it daily, because, really, we should. We know not the day nor the hour, right?

Sometimes I think I would welcome death, because I want to go to Heaven. When you really consider what Heaven must be, there is nothing on earth that could compare. Once, while praying, I seemed to have had a glimpse of maybe a “shadow” of Heaven – and that “shadow” was more brilliant and clearer than anything here on earth. “Refulgence” is the word that always comes to my mind when I think of that experience.

So of course, I would like to make my way toward that wonderful country! But then I begin to wonder if I’ll make it. Most likely (okay, certainly) I will be in purgatory for some time! I want to limit that time, though, and I would rather do my penance here on earth than in purgatory where it is bound to be much more painful. In that sense, then, I “feareth to leave” my body, because I know all too well the sins I have committed, and even if not actual sins, I know my weaknesses and imperfections. I know weaknesses are not necessarily sins, but they surely contribute to my need for purgation!

So at least as often as I think I would welcome death, I beg God for some extra time to amend my life and prepare myself to meet Him.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Do Not Be Anxious

I was cooking a little breakfast for my husband just now, and glanced at the little plaque that hangs on the wall near the stove. It says:

Not that I don’t look at it often…I do. And as often as I do, I say to myself, “Yep, that’s what I do.”

But this time something different struck me. I started to think, “Yep…”, but then I wondered. Yeah, sure, I pray – but do I remember to not be anxious?

Sometimes I know I do continue to be anxious while I pray. Staring at that little sign, I suddenly had an image of myself praying fervently – but anxiously.  Please please please, don’t let the bad stuff happen…please please please, let the good stuff happen.  

Please please please, don’t forget I’m here! Please please please, HEAR ME! I implore this of Our Lord, Our Lady, and all the angels and saints – sometimes going down my mental list of special saints and asking for their intercession…repeatedly.

At those times, I think I am praying without believing! It seems at those times that I doubt the wisdom of not being anxious, and continue to worry about whatever the issue is that has caused me to pray so fervently!

Well. I’ll have to work on that, won’t I?

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sins Committed Against Our Lady

On the Vortex today (January 8, 2014), Michael Voris talked about a situation in the Archdiocese of Boston, where a monsignor has written scandalous words about Our Lady and the Holy Family in his parish bulletin.

This kind of thing bothers me immensely, as I’m sure it does you. Not only is the priest misleading his flock, teaching error, and scandalizing countless poor souls, he is showing his own ignorance (willful?) about the truth of the marriage of Mary and Joseph, about the circumstances of the birth of Jesus, and about the truths taught by Holy Mother Church.

The priest says things in the bulletin article that reduce the Holy Family to the status of a secular family.  He says that “Mary was pregnant before being married”, and yet this is not true. She was betrothed to Joseph, and in Jewish culture, that is “being married”, even though the marriage has not been consummated. And the doctors and fathers of the Church inform us in readings in the Divine Office, that likely Satan was fooled as he watched for the birth of the Savior – because he was looking for a virgin to give birth, not a married woman.

There is much more to criticize and gnash our teeth over in that priest’s article. I will just quote this one part:

…[T]he first family of Christianity reminds us that there is no such thing as normal. Every family is different and this means that we need to… applaud the virtues of family living wherever we find them: two parent families, single parent families, blended families, families with two mommies or two daddies and adoptive families.

My heart grieves for the honor of Our Lady, and for the honor of the Holy Family. I grieve for the souls misled into believing that “gay marriage” is truly marriage, and that it is a valid form of “family life”. I grieve for the souls lost by this preaching of error and heresy.
I pray for the conversion of this priest, and for the souls of those who believe his words. 

We must do penance for this outrage. Let us join with the children of Fatima who offered their mortifications as they prayed:

O my Jesus, I offer this for love of Thee, for the conversion of poor sinners, and in reparation for all the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

What Will They Think of Next?

Sometimes what the demons attempt in their assaults against us can be almost laughable.

The other day, they were provoking memories – memories of hurt and anger at clerics I’ve known; and memories of bad experiences in my parish, of maltreatment by the laity, of an on-going sense of alienation here.

It would have been easy to succumb to the temptation to just be angry about it all. But I’ve been down that road before, and I know how fruitless it is. It results in nothing but more anger; not righteous anger, but vindictive anger that only leads to more sinful, uncharitable thoughts. And it was obvious where those thoughts and feelings originated – so obvious that I chuckled at the demonic attempt! (They hate that, I’m told.)

So I dropped those memories at the foot of the Cross, as they say.

Then, yesterday, there were more nagging memories. These memories were of isolated events in my distant past – times when I was perhaps a little defensive, a little rude, a little dishonest. It wasn’t the big sins that were coming to mind, but such obscure little things that one wonders how in the world those memories still even exist!

Well, it wasn’t difficult to see what prompted those thoughts to surface. It is amazing what the demons can prompt one to think about.

It makes me wonder, though. If a person begins to discern more and more easily that the demons are stirring her up, and if she becomes more and more able to forestall those little attacks, won’t the attacks get bigger, the challenges harder?

No matter. Our Lord is always there with us to help. We just have to remember that. I guess the little battles that become more easily won prepare us for the bigger ones that await us.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.