May 25, 2016

Diaristic Wanderings

I'm enjoying the friendly confines of the book room as Steph is entertaining two gals downstairs who are going to dog-sit while we're vacationing soon. I bowed out plan-fully, having squirreled some Columbus IPA upstairs an hour prior. Now I enjoy my cache in my niche (sale on French-derived words today).

I groaned earlier today at the thought of doing violence to my body in the form of a run/lift combo but I had taken the previous day off so it was time and, like prayer, it wasn't bad once I overcame Mount Inertia.

The morning was spent profitably if irritably on work that I wasn't awake for yet, as my compatriots toiled cube-side like Scrooge's apprentices. I plowed into it until the 1pm meeting - one where I couldn't quite enjoy perfect-solitude-amid-others because the leader insisted everyone introduce themselves and say how long we'd been with the company (I nixed that part) and then later she tried to bring me into a discussion about something I was unfamiliar with, which I said I was unfamiliar with. But I got 'er done and was released on my own recognizance.

Sunday I lit out at the tender hour of 8:40am for the Latin Mass. There's just something about that place that is awfully attractive, so much that I bought a pre-Vatican II Mass book to follow along somewhat. I like how there's a lot of Gregorian chant going on, a music that is growing on me. Relaxing and otherworldly, and improvement over the Psalm-singing we do at St. M's.

Of course I miss the Our Father in English, as well as the extra reading (only two readings instead of three, actually four if you count the Psalm.). So there are downsides. But overall a net win and the hour twenty minute service somehow seems shorter than an hour at St. M's.

It was kind of eerie to hear the bells at the Consecration, and watch the altar boy lift up the priest's “cape” at the same time the priest was lifting the chalice or bread. I miss the words of Consecration, not said aloud here, but there's an element of mystery added, almost as if only bells should accompany something that profound and miraculous.


Raymond Arroyo's book on Mother Angelica's final years is unvarnished and completely unromantic from the world's point of view. She suffered much; it didn't look like one of those insurance commercials of a happy retirees on a beach. Not exactly her “golden years”. Instead it was a gritty, white martyrdom that leads one to see as prophetic her Rosary meditation on the fifth Sorrowful Mystery written during the 1970s: "Give me the grace to persevere to the end, and when the journey is over and I have fought the good fight, let the angels sing the last verse of my earthly song: 'It is finished' (John 19: 30)."

I do find it consoling that even nuns in a monastery have trouble getting along. It's certainly not as surprising or distressing as it might've been for me in, say, 2004, before the priest/bishop scandal or when I found the Catholic blogosphere more harder-edged than expected, but it's consoling in that God loves us even in our sins and that even the best of us have flaws. It's not that sin doesn't matter, but there's a freedom from it defining us. “Become what you are,” is how St. John Paul II put it. Paradoxical and yet true. The gospel says not to fear those who kill the body but those that kill the soul, which means the person we should most fear is not ISIS but, ironically, ourselves.

Even Mother Angelica had a difficult streak but her sufferings seemed less about changing her personality or making her less “pushy” or aggressive and more about it being a purification for herself and others. I tend to see suffering too often intended as punishment or reform, even though Christ suffered and needed neither punishment or reform. Suffering is profoundly puzzling, as Arroyo writes. I can't say, “I deserve this suffering,” because if true everyone would suffer a great deal and there are many varied levels. Instead the only thing is the maddening simple but notoriously wise, “offer it up”.

That the other sisters locked horns in part over something as seemingly innocuous as the “Divine Will” devotion shows just how easy it is to fracture a community. It's understandable why the hierarchy is nervous over the Medjugorje phenomenon - history shows that devotion can quickly devolve into division. But it's certainly plausible the nuns would've fought even without that devotion given that there was a dramatic mix of styles, the more buttoned-down obedience and the more free-wheeling, Spirit-led.


At mass yesterday the Dominican preacher gave shortest homily I've ever heard in my life.  Six words: “Surrender is the way to holiness.”  He surrendered the rest of his homily it seems.


Banshee said...

The Divine Will devotion is... um... not innocuous. Not if it's the one I'm thinking of.

The bit where God tells the visionary Luisa Piccareta that she is the first human since Mary to live in the Divine Will, and hence the greatest saint except Mary? Kind of a red flag.

Then there's the bit where Jesus allegedly teaches that Adam and Eve weren't supposed to have any free will except to make their choice, and that humans having free will is part of their punishment. And that human free will is the cause of sin, not a gift of God.

Yeahhhhhhh, I'm not comfortable with that theology. And it gets weirder the more you read about it.

TS said...

Wow! That really surprises me because Raymond Arroyo seemed pretty neutral on the devotion in the book, at least thru the first half of book

TS said...

But your description makes me think it's slam dunk heretical

Banshee said...

The problem is that the thing is 40 books long. I gather that the first book isn't objectionable, and the second book is mostly okay... but as the books go on, it gets a lot weirder. (Similar to Valtorta's Poem of the Man-God, which also appeared okay at first but got into heresy territory pretty quickly as the books got longer.)

The other problem is that, since the original 40 books were all written in Italian, and the English translations are apparently not all of the same quality or completeness, there's a lot of question as to what's actually in the original, what was introduced in the English version, what was questionable that was removed from English versions... all kinds of stuff.

Since St. Faustina's books were originally translated badly and condemned by the Vatican on the basic of bad translation, and then only got reinstated when they were retranslated more accurately, nobody who isn't Italian who's in the Church hierarchy really wants to say anything bad about it. Also, it is still under investigation, and so is the visionary. So yeah, probably Raymond Arroyo is prudent not to say too much about it. But personally, I wouldn't touch that Divine Will devotion with a stick. There are plenty of similar "surrender to God" devotions that are totally okay, and don't come with extra baggage.

(This doesn't mean that the nuns who like the devotion aren't nice, pious people, or that the sister opposing it at OLAM did the right thing in throwing her weight around. I also think it's pretty weird to send in a Benedictine to run a Franciscan convent. Well, I don't live there, so I don't know anything about it.)

TS said...

Yeah my take on devotions and visions is that there are enough that have been approved such that I'm not especially tempted to trust something not yet. seems like there's a lot of diverse saintly styles such that one doesn't necessarily need to look in unapproved areas but what do I know. Those nuns are all no doubt far holier than me.