June 15, 2015

Higher Thoughts

From a biography of St. Anthony of Padua:
In the mean time he inflamed his devotion by assiduous prayer and holy meditation, and nourished daily in his soul the strongest sentiments and affections of piety, without which means the heart is left spiritually dry, the usual consequence of studies whether sacred or profane unless prayer imparts to them its unction.
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This below, quoting a saint from a seven deadly sins book, reminds me of how we have to religiously attribute all of our good behavior to God, and all of our bad behavior to us. This was said by a priest on a retreat once, and said it was something to take on faith.
“When you have enjoyed a notable success in warring against the carnal vices and you see that you have been freed from their filthiness and from this world’s way of life, you should not be puffed up with the success of the struggle and the victory and ascribe this to your own strength and wisdom, believing that you were able to obtain victory over evil spirits and carnal vices through your own efforts and application and free will.”
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Reading Pope Francis, there's the imprecision of translation added to some imprecision of Francis himself.  But to say he's interesting is like saying Michael Jackson could dance.

And his angle on apparitions and visions is interesting as well. Back when Medjugorje was only a few years old I thought it was so cool that the Mother of God would deign not to just appear and then disappear, as with other apparitions, but would give consistent, seemingly inexhaustible, messages. This was a sign of caring, I thought, and this seemed a case of God and his Mother going the extra mile for our time, the 20th century and beyond.

As “personal” as these messages seemed to me, a Mother to her children, Pope Francis looks at it impersonal! He says, “Our Lady is not a postmaster, sending messages every day.” Probably a product of his own closest to Mary and deep faith.

And I think he also sees this as a danger of exclusivity inasmuch as we can think of “Mary for the visionaries, but not for us”. That is a understandable danger.

But the kicker is where Francis says, “Jesus says the Kingdom of God does not come in a way that attracts attention: it comes by wisdom.”

And that pretty much shuts me up, being hard to refute.

From the source:
Curiosity, the Pope continued, impels us to want to feel that the Lord is here or rather there, or leads us to say: “But I know a visionary, who receives letters from Our Lady, messages from Our Lady”. And the Pope commented: “But, look, Our Lady is the Mother of everyone! And she loves all of us. She is not a postmaster, sending messages every day.”
Such responses to these situations, he affirmed, “distance us from the Gospel, from the Holy Spirit, from peace and wisdom, from the glory of God, from the beauty of God.”
“Jesus says that the Kingdom of God does not come in a way that attracts attention: it comes by wisdom.”
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Read interesting critical review of Sherry Weddell's book Forming Intentional Disciples. While I haven't read it all, or even most of it, Weddell's book gives me the jibe of being a Catholic version of The Purpose Driven Life.   So I was pleased to find someone on the Internet say what I think (and who can't find someone on the Internet who hasn't said what you think? Fish, meet barrel). It's perhaps noteworthy that in both books the main title makes no reference to Christ or Christianity.

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GK Chesterton:
[Christianity] does not exactly work outwards, adventurously, to the wonders to be found at the ends of the earth. It is rather something that surprises us from behind, from the hidden and personal part of our being; like that which can sometimes take us off our guard in the pathos of small objects or the blind pieties of the poor. It is rather as if a man had found an inner room in the very heart of his own house, which he had never suspected; and seen a light from within. It is as if he found something at the back of his own heart that betrayed him into good.
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We Can't All be NYC

Who can fault a destination
for playing favorites
and making lemonade
from lemons?

Spare me a lakeless day
in Minnesota
or an Iowan traffic jam.

Cast only a sidelong glance
at the trees of Central Park,
ignore the football games
of Cooperstown.

Savor the cabbie in New York City,
spurn the weather forecaster in L.A.

Wouldn't we be distraught
if we visited San Fran
on a hot summer day?

And who could stand
a dry Seattle, a chill Hawaii
a priestless Ireland?

Relish the stereotype,
celebrate difference.

2 comments:

Thomas D said...

The St Anthony bio. Is it Charles Warren Stoddard's delightful account?

TS said...

No, but I should check that out sometime!