March 23, 2015

Un-imprimatur'd Thoughts

This pic is apropos of nothing in particular...

Heard Fr. Larry Richards on EWTN radio mention he doesn't like emotional intimacy, which is a pretty intimate admission. “Why do you think I'm celibate?” he joked.

He went on to say we typically don't want the truth. We judge how much someone had helped us by how much they soothed rather than healed us, preferring temporary relief of symptoms over painful removal of a root cause any day. We tend to want to choose our medicine and not leave it up to the Divine Physician. Jim Curley quoted St Francis de Sales as saying God may take us the route of consolation or desolation. St Pio was so bold as to ask what it should matter to us of God gives an arduous or less difficult climb to Heaven.

One of the more “impactful” song lines from the '80s for me came from none other than pop singer George Michael. The killer lyric was from the wistful One More Try:
“'Cuz teacher
there are things I don't wanna learn….
When you were just a stranger
And I was at your feet
I didn't feel the danger
Now I feel the heat.”
Ain't it the truth?

I recall reading many years ago that the famed writer Graham Greene was fascinated by Padre Pio but he didn't want to meet the future saint. Feared it in fact. Because there were things Greene didn't “wanna learn”.

I think that was also part of the problem for the disciples of Jesus leading up to Good Friday. There were things they didn't want to learn, specifically the stumbling block that is the Cross…

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Got mildly obsessed with Jer 31:31-34, the First Reading on Sunday. Distracted by the promises made, wondering if they were made to us now, or in Heaven or some combination. Collected all commentaries concerning the prophet's assertion that we would no longer need instruction from others, that the knowledge of God would be implanted directly into our hearts. Seems slightly over-enthusiastic, perhaps.

Wansbrough:
“No need for everyone to teach brother’? Yes, we must still learn from one another and accept the guidance of the Church, but the bond is between God and the individual, no longer the race as such.”
Orchard:
“Jeremiah is indicating and contrasting the predominant characteristics of the two dispensations; not that faith and love and forgiveness were entirely absent from the old dispensation, or that proper instruction will be entirely unnecessary in the new.”
Haydock:
“Christ himself came to instruct mankind. The true God was better known than ever, even by the illiterate. Yet God requires us to have recourse to men, in order to know his truths, as S. Paul was sent to Hananias, and the eunuch to Philip. H.—The apostles were enlightened by the Holy Ghost, who still guides the flock by his pastors. The private spirit is too fanatical and delusive. H.—The most ignorant shall easily become acquainted with the truths of salvation. External preaching is requisite, though of little use unless grace touch the mind and the heart. T.—All will hear successively, (H.) or embrace the gospel at the same time, for several years before the last day.”
Some of the early church fathers presumed this to refer to our heavenly existence, not earthly. St. Augustine sermonized that we should memorize the Creed so that it would be written in our hearts rather than on parchment or stone.

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New Jerusalem Study Bible on what's “new” about the New Covenant?:
1. God's spontaneous forgiveness of sins
2. Individual responsibility and retribution
3. Interiorisation of religion: the Law is to be no longer a code regulating external activity but an inspiration working on the human heart under the influence of the Spirit of God, who gives a new heart capable of knowing God.

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You can no sooner strip someone of irrationality as you can his clothing. He'll protest and resist. And I recall my own metastasizing fixations of yore, of the girl on whom I would pin my hopes of salvational intimacy. (“Sex is the mysticism of a materialist society,” as one convert Englishman said.)  Tangibility uber alles.

I recall travel to foreign lands as of a similar quality because I felt the foreign held an answer, the key, and something inherently transcendent. The magic of the Ireland trip was that I believed in magic: I believed I might see a faerie, visible or otherwise. I felt the land inhabited a spirituality denied to poor ol' Ohio. This cult of the foreign, be it a foreign body (i.e. a naked girl having parts I lack) or a foreign land (i.e. Ireland, with it's spirits and land-specific tonalities), was somehow both true and false. True because the foreign does possess great worth, but false because both male and female, America and elsewhere, are composed of sacred land. The trick in Christianity is to go from believing the sacred is limited, special, rare and supernatural, to believing it's also plain, natural and accessible even unto us. No prophet is without honor in his hometown and no person is without supernatural grace except in his own mind.

From a recent church document Love is Our Mission:
The tangible, the earthly, the corporeal world is more than inert matter or modeling clay for the human will. Creation is sacred. It has sacramental meaning. It reflects God's glory. That includes our bodies. Our sexuality has the power to procreate, and shares in the dignity of being created in the image of God. We need to live accordingly.
That's pretty potent stuff in our current Gnostic age. Who can believe the earthly, the natural, our penis or vagina, are sacred? (Ok, I just wanted to say 'penis' and 'vagina' on a Catholic blog.) Ireland or Ohio or Timbuktu, it's all sacred ground.

That can be taken too far of course, into pantheism. The pilgrimage to a holy site is a wonderful thing, and we surely recognize there's a hierarchy of sacredness such that some things are more God-like than others (a mosquito versus a human being versus the Blessed Sacrament).

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