Rooted & Grounded in Charity, Vol. 9: Unity of mind

Charity

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Unity of mind: that deeply peaceful place where two people hold the same virtues as necessary, the same principles as foundational for living, the same Faith as the only truth.

It doesn’t mean they agree on absolutely everything (whether the Christian chick flick I watched last week has any value whatsoever; whether film soundtrack tunes can double for exercise music . . .); but they agree on every absolute.

If there were one thing I could pick as being that one thing I hold most highly in our courtship, it would be unity of mind.

Courtship is a journey

In certain sense, courtship is, at first, precisely a journey to discover if you have solid unity of mind with another person. If you can’t find enough of it, then it’s inestimably better that you move on.

You can have everything else: mutual love and attraction, happiness with one another . . . but if you aren’t continually discovering (or able to healthily achieve) a natural unity of mind, then there’s no lasting foundation, and this lack of foundation will only hurt both people later on.

If and once you discover this unity of mind, though, then courtship transforms into a journey of deepening and developing it: filling it with your complementary but usually very different perspectives and experiences, and strengthening it through the willingness to have constructive conversations through disagreement, and, in the words of Jordan Peterson, to “assume the person you’re talking to knows something you don’t.” It’s a challenging but beautiful journey, and so very rewarding!

Answering a few questions . . .

Sometimes I get the question of how The Dash and I hold one another accountable in our courtship, or how we work on differences in communication skills. There are so many miniature answers and all sorts of details we could both expound on. The main answer to both, however, could possibly boil down to We act in our unity of mind, or we seek to strengthen it in some way.

Unity in accountability

Take accountability, for example. If this kind of question is focused on things such as our physical boundaries, I usually have to pause and think… Accountable?

Of course, because of concupiscence, purity and chastity are a struggle for every human being to some extent. So I would never deny that I have my own temptations to struggle against and pray for grace to overcome in relation to our courtship!

However, one of the very first things The Dash and I established together in our courtship were our physical boundaries–so, really, these boundaries are one of our oldest expressions of unity of mind as a courting couple. We set them, not trying to please others, but simply trying to do the right thing. We mentally and heartfeltly agreed that it was so.

Later on, our understanding of what we’d chosen would be buoyed by Fr. Ripperger, but our unity of mind concerning our physical boundaries has been there from the beginning. Our mutual choice for chaperones (who help us to not be too intimately alone together without some kind of accountability) also arose from our unity of mind. But even regardless of our chaperones, more than anything else, that’s what holds us accountable to our boundaries: our belief that they’re right; our unity of mind.

After all, the alternative is just for me to go to The Dash and say, “I’m so tired of this! Why can’t we just go ahead and [hold hands, or something similar]?” (Which, naturally, I don’t plan on doing! 🙂 ) To which he would probably ask something like, “Well, how can that potential change still align with our principle?”

At this point, neither of us can find a good rational and moral reason to alter our physical boundaries; we possess unity of mind in them. Neither of us drags our heels against what we’ve decided to do. The necessity of a stronger presence of accountability measures between us would probably indicate that we weren’t so unified in mind.

Unity in communication

And in terms of working on our ever-present differences in communication skills, what helps is that we have (you guessed it!) unity of mind in that we should listen, be honest, and ensure our communication is always a means to the end of better harmony of mind and of good decision-making. It’s often a challenge, but we both know an imperfect try is far better than no try at all!

Whether one of us is really wanting to have some set-aside time to talk about heavier stuff, or one of us is tired and doesn’t feel equipped to talk a bunch; whether we’re having a day that keeps us laughing, or one/both of us are feeling low and are trying to figure out how to talk about something potentially confrontational or disappointing . . . every day is different, but it is such a help to have unity of mind in that we need to be honest with each other, we need to talk about the hard stuff if it’s there, and we need to pray together and try and find joy in things. That is our mutual expectation with one another in trying to communicate, and I think it helps more than anything.

Why is unity of mind so important in courtship?

Well, courtship is hopeful discernment and early preparation for marriage. Marriage is one of the most beautiful and holy mysteries of unity Our Lord ordained for mankind. To intentionally focus on seeking out and, God-willing, growing in unity of mind as you walk down the path of courtship towards betrothal and marriage–well, it brings peace, order, life and joy to your relationship, and surely prepares you better for marriage than the opposite would!

How do you discover whether or not you have unity of mind? Now, needless to say, this discovery should certainly begin in friendship, before courtship comes into the mix (in other words, you should have some solid reasons to be hopeful about the person you’re wanting to court!!), but courtship, by its very nature, puts a much stronger focus on exploring and developing unity of mind. How to do this? A sanguine’s response: Talk! Talk about the important topics and issues of marriage and family life, and of life in general. Read or listen to related materials; share your honest opinions on them. Be honest and open; listen. Observe one another and see if your spoken beliefs translates into your actions.

A while back, I posted a “topic list” that The Dash and I hit during the first month or two of our courtship . . . it’s in no particular order and isn’t exhaustive, but it was very helpful and laid out an initial path for us to explore where we were unified.

  • Handling finances
  • Openness to life
  • Marriage/healthy family structure/traditional spousal roles
  • Homeschooling styles
  • Healthcare views
  • The spiritual life
  • Liturgy
  • Corporal punishment/raising children
  • Our past experiences of family/relationships
  • Our temperaments and how we react to things
  • What makes us angry
  • What makes us happy
  • Family traditions
  • Our interests
  • Communication skills and weaknesses

Praise God, we had good results 😉

In closing, don’t underestimate the beauty and necessity of an ever-growing unity of mind during courtship . . . it’s the surest way to obtaining unity of heart, and it brings a particular peace, strength and joy that no other aspect of one’s relationship can provide.

Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity. Like the precious ointment on the head, that ran down upon the beard, the beard of Aaron, Which ran down to the skirt of his garment: As the dew of Hermon, which descendeth upon mount Sion. For there the Lord hath commandeth blessing, and life for evermore.

PSALM 132

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In Conspectu Angelorum (A Michaelmas Post)

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Bless the Lord, all ye His Angels: you that are mighty in strength, and execute His word, hearkening to the voice of His orders. (Psalm) Bless the Lord, O my soul: and let all that is within me bless His holy name. Glory be to the Father. Bless the Lord . . .

Alleluia, alleluia. Holy Archangel Michael, defend us in battle: that we may not perish in the dreadful judgment. Alleluia.

A happy and blessed Michaelmas! Upon first waking up, I was so supremely excited about wishing everyone in the house a happy Michaelmas . . . but by the time I got downstairs I was so distracted by the prospect of some toast and almond butter for breakfast that I kind of forgot about it  . . . only to let loose a howl of agony when Lena beat me to it, minutes later. Such is life in a traditional Catholic household.

I find that one of the most delightful things about the Old Calendar is that the Archangels each have their own feasts. St. Raphael (to whom I will always have a special devotion) falls on October 24th; and St. Gabriel falls on the exquisitely perfect March 24th (the day before the feast of the Annunciation).

Today, however, is St. Michael’s feast; St. Michael’s Mass; Michaelmas!

A first-class feast in the Old Calendar (I didn’t realize it used to be first-class until today!), full of splendor: in the Latin Mass, St. Michael is hailed in every Confiteor, and at High Mass, thus:

May the Lord, by the intercession of blessed Michael the Archangel, who standeth at the right side of the altar of incense, and of all His elect, vouchsafe to bless this incense and receive it as an odor of sweetness.

Earlier today, there was a High Mass in Fribourg and Lena and I took a break from the vigorous vicissitudes of housecleaning and watched as much as we could, up to the French homily which was unfortunately lost upon us . . .

On this day, I never fail to think of the irrepressible Mrs. Jennings. Surely you know Mrs. Jennings? Sense and Sensibility, of course! “If I do not have the three of you {girls} married by Michaelmas, it will not be my fault!” But I digress. I do think she would have done better to extend her matchmaking plans through the feast of St. Raphael, but alas . . .

Sorry. Moving on.Michael1

O most glorious prince Michael Archangel, be mindful of us, and here and everywhere entreat the Son of God for us. Alleluia, alleluia. (Antiphon at the Magnificat, Second Vespers)

As I mentioned yesterday, I was once immersed in writing a (still unfinished) novel that had to do with St. Michael, underground Catholicism and had at least a dozen points of view. During this spell of creativity, I displayed more common sense than usual and actually embarked on some research on St. Michael and the traditional theology of Angels. I wanted to share a patchwork of assorted facts and ponderings with you all today!

The Propers and Vespers for St. Michael are wonderfully illuminating enough (in the Missal beginning on page 1424, by the way!), but in particular I also wanted to share several excerpts, beginning with one from Mother Angelica’s Sons of Light:

Then came the staggering proclamation from the Most High: the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity would become Man and, as the God-Man, be their superior —their Lord and King!

This however was not all of the test: the God-Man would have a Mother—a Woman—and she too would be raised above them!

Like a flash of lightning, Lucifer the greatest of all Angels, the one most like the Most High, the one called “Angel of Light”—cried out with a voice of thunder, “I will not serve!” Other Angels of every class and degree of intelligence all cried out together, “We will not serve!”

Then began the battle between pride and humility. Michael rose above all the others and thundered, “Who is like God!” The battle they fought was not one of swords—swords that make one bleed and die. No, it was a more deadly battle—a battle of intellects, of wills, of ideas and loyalties . . .

As the debate raged on Lucifer become more adamant. It was not fair for the Word to take on human nature and continue being Lord. Human nature was gross and inferior and the Most High had no right to make such an unjust decree. If the Word became man, all mankind would have the opportunity to become sons of God. Was not Lucifer the greatest of all Angels? Was not his intellect superior to them all? Yes, he, Lucifer, would be Lord and King of Angels and Men.

He would not bow before an Incarnate Word; neither would he accept a Woman, the Mother of the Incarnate Word, as Queen of Heaven.

The blow of all blows would be the fact that since the Word would become flesh, all mankind would have the opportunity to arrive at great heights of sanctity—heights above some of the Angels themselves. Yes, they would become brothers because they would share the same Father.

Lucifer and his cohorts would not accept such a humiliation . . .

Michael3Michael rose to the defense of God: God alone is Holy he reasoned; God alone is Lord; God alone is Most High; He does as He pleases . . . Was it not more important that God be glorified than that they as pure spirits be glorified? Was it not God’s privilege to give as He willed since all Goodness came from Him alone? They were all brought out of nothingness and they owed God eternal thanksgiving for the least amount of grace and glory.

No, it was not a humiliation—it was a truth . . .

As the battle raged, Angels from the different choirs began to take sides—some agreeing with Michael, others with Lucifer. Lucifer’s arguments were very convincing and he “dragged a third of the stars from the heavens” with him. (Apoc. 12:4)

The longer the battle went on, the more entrenched each side became until finally Lucifer said, “I will set my throne above the Most High.” (Is. 14:13) At this final blasphemy Michael cried out, “Who is like God! Victory and power and empire forever have been won by our God and all authority for His Christ.) (Apoc 12:10) . . .

Christ looked at them and said, “I watched Satan fall like lightning from Heaven.” . . .

Michael and the other spirits who rallied to the cause of truth and the glory of the Most High entered into the Beatific Vision. They saw the One they had fought for with such courage, for their wills were forever set on God . . .

* * *

Here are a few excerpts from FishEaters:

There are seven Archangels in all, but only the three mentioned in Sacred Scripture are commemorated liturgically; St. Gabriel’s Feast is on 24 March, and St. Raphael’s Feast is on 24 October (the Guardian Angels are remembered on 2 October. The other archangels, whom we know from the Book of Enoch, are Uriel, Raguel, Sariel, and Jeramiel.) Today, though, we honor St. Michael the Archangel, whose very name in Hebrew means, “Who is Like God.” St. Michael is described in the Golden Legend, written in A.D. 1275 by Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa, thus:

For like as Daniel witnesseth, he shall arise and address in the time of Antichrist against him, and shall stand as a defender and keeper for them that be chosen. [Daniel 10:13, 12]

He also fought with the dragon and his angels, and casting them out of heaven, had a great victory. [Apocalypse 12:7-9]

He also had a great plea and altercation with the devil for the body of Moses, because he would not show it; for the children of Israel should have adored and worshipped it. [Jude 1]

He received the souls of saints and brought them into the paradise of exultation and joy.

He was prince of the synagogue of the Jews, but now he is established of our Lord, prince of the church of Jesu Christ.

Michael2And as it is said, he made the plagues of Egypt, he departed and divided the Red Sea, he led the people of Israel by the desert and set them in the land of promission, he is had among the company of holy angels as bannerer. And bearing the sign of our Lord, he shall slay by the commandment of God, right puissantly, Antichrist that shall be in the Mount of Olivet. And dead men shall arise at the voice of this same archangel. And he shall show at the day of judgment the Cross, the spear, the nails and the crown of thorns of Jesu Christ.

Expounding on St. Michael’s final victory over the Antichrist, the Golden Legend continues:

The fourth victory is that the archangel Michael shall have of Antichrist when he shall slay him. Then Michael, the great prince, shall arise, as it is said Danielis xii.: “He shall arise for them that be chosen as a helper and a protector, and shall strongly stand against Antichrist.” And after, as the Gloss saith: “Antichrist shall feign him to be dead, and shall hide him three days,” and after, he shall appear saying that he is risen from death to life, and the devils shall bear him by art magic, and shall mount up into the air, and all the people shall marvel and worship him. And at the last he shall mount up on the Mount of Olivet, and when he shall be in a pavilion, in his siege [seat], entered into that place where our Lord ascended, Michael shall come and shall slay him. Of which victory is understood, after St. Gregory, that which is said in the Apocalypse. The battle is made in heaven.

This word of the treble battle in heaven is expounded of the battle that he had with Lucifer when he expulsed him out of heaven, and of the battle that he had with the devils that torment us.

* * *

Also, this excerpt concerning Angels in general still fills me with awe in considering the glory of St. Michael and all the heavenly hosts which throng about the altar at every Holy Mass:

Now, Moses tells us in Exodus 20:11 that “in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them.” From this we know that the angels, too, were created during those six days (whether those “days” were literal, 24-hour days or metaphorical isn’t the point of this article). Futher, the angels were created before the earth was made, as Job 38:1-7 speaks of how the “sons of God made a joyful melody” when the “corner stone” of the earth was laid. What must be believed, then, is that the angels were created by God, in time, and at some point before the creation of all other things. 2

So, before He created the natural world that we can readily see and touch and hear and taste, He created the praeternatural realm — the realm inhabited by the creatures we call angels. They were created to adore God, implement His will, and to reveal His will to men. This last purpose is the origin of the very word “angel,” which comes from the Greek “aggelos,” meaning “messenger” (“malak” in Hebrew).

They are beings without bodies like ours. The Fathers and Doctors disagree as to whether they are absolutely “pure spirit,” like God, and so are completely bodiless, or whether they possess “subtle matter,” 3 but in either case they can sometimes be seen, either because of the nature of subtle matter, if that is the case, or, as St. Thomas Aquinas believed, in the same sort of way that “air” can seem to “condense” to form clouds. 4

In either case, angels were created immortal, and with great power and intelligence — an intelligence so great that angels are sometimes referred to as “intelligences.” They are not omniscient, however, but according to St. Thomas Aquinas, God infuses them with knowledge according to their rank (see below). Neither can they read our minds, but God may reveal to them our secret thoughts — and they are able to perceive the material world and to understand our thoughts by the things we do and the way we appear. As an example, most of us are unable to read others’ thoughts in some telepathic way, but we are quite able to see sadness in someone’s face. Angels can do this, too, but are able to discern such things much better than we because of their astounding intelligence. They are able to act on our imagination, senses, and the intellect, but not directly on our will.

SongoftheAngelsThey are able to affect the material world, too, just as you and I can, only with much more strength. Remember how, on Easter morning, it was two angels who rolled away the great rock that was placed in front of Our Lord’s tomb by Joseph of Arimethea. The stone was so “very great” that the three women who went to the tomb were wondering how they could move it — but they arrived to find it moved away, and a “man” sitting on it, with another “man” inside the tomb.

Brilliant, powerful, awesome in appearance, and they are numerous, like the stars. Psalm 67 tells us how the “chariot of God is attended by ten thousands; thousands of them that rejoice.” Daniel 7:9-10 describes God, the Ancient of Days, and how “thousands of thousands ministered to Him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before Him.” St. John writes in his Apocalypse:

And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the living creatures, and the ancients; and the number of them was thousands of thousands.

St. Thomas Aquinas and the Scholastics that followed taught that angels are pure spirit and not corporeal in any way. The earlier, more Platonic belief of most of the Church Fathers is that only God is pure Spirit, and that, though angels are not corporeal in the way that we are, they are, in a limited sense, “corporeal” in that they are made, in part, of “subtle matter” which is unlike matter in the physical world. Most Catholics tend to believe that angels are totally incorporeal, a belief that stems from the fact that this is what was taught in the good ole “Penny Catechisms” of better times, but a Catholic may believe that angels possess subtle matter.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-I-51-2: “Although air as long as it is in a state of rarefaction has neither shape nor color, yet when condensed it can both be shaped and colored as appears in the clouds. Even so the angels assume bodies of air, condensing it by the Divine power in so far as is needful for forming the assumed body.”

* * *

Isn’t that so fascinating? And as for the ranks of angels, mentioned above, I thought this was marvelous food for thought:

AngelThe 1st triad :
Angels, Archangels, and Principalities: concern themselves with the minute ordering of the universe and specific causes, including the welfare of people. Each human being, each church, and each country has a Guardian Angel.

The 2nd triad
Powers, Virtues and Dominions: known as the “angels of creation” because they concern themselves with the ordering of the universe and a plurality of causes.

The 3rd triad
Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim: concern themselves with contemplating the glory of God. It is the 6-winged Seraphim — “The Burning Ones,” aglow with Love for God — who sing the Sanctus, “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts” (Isaias 6:3).

So yes . . . the richness and awe-inspiring splendor of the Faith shines forth so beautifully on the feast of St. Michael! Let’s all endeavor to be mindful of the presence of the angels who continually behold and adore the face of God. In fact, let’s all pray Psalm 137 and rejoice in their intercession on our behalf, especially that of St. Michael!

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I will praise Thee, O Lord, with my whole heart: because Thou hast heard the words of my mouth.
I will sing praise to Thee in the sight of the Angels: I will worship toward Thy holy temple, and I will give glory to Thy name.
For Thy mercy, and for Thy truth: for Thou hast magnified Thy holy name above all.
In what day soever I shall call upon Thee, hear me: Thou shalt multiply strength in my soul.
May all the kings of the earth give glory, O Lord, for they have heard all the words of Thy mouth.
And let them sing in the ways of the Lord: that great is the glory of the Lord.
For the Lord is high, and looketh on the low: and the high He knoweth afar off.
If I shall walk in the midst of tribulation, Thou wilt quicken me: and Thou hast stretched forth Thy hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and Thy right hand hath saved me.
The Lord will repay for me; Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth forever: O despise not the works of Thy hands.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
I will sing praise to Thee in the sight of the Angels, O my God.
I will worship towards Thy holy temple, and I will give glory to Thy name.

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7 Rambling Monday Takes (Vol. 3)

MondayTakes

1.

Maybe it’s a womanly thing, an impulsive sanguine thing, or perhaps a Guardian Angel thing. But have you ever felt strongly compelled, suddenly, to do something, when a moment before the thought hadn’t been anywhere near your mind? (Besides consume chocolate, I mean. I experience those moments frequently.)

Yesterday would have been my maternal grandfather’s 68th birthday. A Vietnam veteran and loving grandfather, he passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 61, when I was 14. After Low Mass and third Sunday potluck yesterday (where we all were handed beautiful Christ the King holy cards in commemoration of Summorum Pontificum), my family and I drove down to the cemetery to pray at his grave and sing him happy birthday. The sky was beautifully, crisply blue, the sun boiling hot. (Alas for an autumn not yet arrived!)

As we came to the end of our visit with Pap-pow, my family began taking note of the surrounding grave markers (we always seem to do this); the names, the years lived, the loving tributes left by family members. “Look, so-and-so was a Marine; so-and-so played piano; someone left so-and-so a handwritten note: I love you and miss you so much.

And then we came upon the tiny grave marker of a year-old baby boy.

Someone had tried to tape up some artificial blue flowers on the marker using duck tape, but the flowers were upended on the ground, with the tape left dangling in the wind. (Not surprising after all the tropical storm-induced weather that hit us over the past week.)

Lena and I stared sadly, then bent and slowly began rearranging the flowers, using some of the mangled tape to bind the plastic stems together and laying the flowers neatly under the marker. Something about the grief of this baby’s family permeated us. I can’t even remember how long it had been since he passed away; I don’t think it was more than a few years.

As Lena and I were mending the flowers, words spilled into my mind, clear and commanding. Leave a holy card.

Unable to ignore the idea, I brought it up aloud and my brother instantly pulled out his Summorum Pontificum Christ the King card from his pocket. I was able to tuck it snugly against the edge of the baby boy’s grave marker. We all looked at it for a moment, then stood up and walked back to the car.

I have no idea if the family or anyone at all will ever see the holy card. But I did know we were supposed to leave one there. Regardless of the persuasions of this small baby’s family, the King of Heaven and Earth who cares for each sparrow also cares tenderly for them.

2.

May the efficacy of the heavenly Gift, we beseech Thee, O Lord, possess our minds and bodies: so that its effects, and not our own impulses, may ever prevail in us.

-Postcommunion from the 15th Sunday after Pentecost

Ever since being introduced to the four temperaments and discovering my own, self-knowledge has seemed far closer to being in my grasp than it ever was before. (Authentic self-knowledge is, ahem, hard for the naturally superficial sanguine . . .)

Not long after I posted about being drawn to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in Latin, I felt inspired to research wholesome ways to combat a tendency to the sin of vanity, which is something I’ve noticed in myself virtually my whole life.

After some initial research, I first found and read a helpful article written by a Catholic young woman, who eloquently described the habit of sinning through vanity, either by being over-caring about your physical looks, or worrying too much about the opinions of other people concerning yourself. (Both of which can ring all too true for me if I’m not careful. Alas, I’m not often careful.)

So why is vanity a sin? It is a sin because we become consumed by other’s opinions of our self, rather than concerning ourselves with the opinion of God. Indeed, vanity assures us that the cares of the world are more important than those of God. When we begin thinking this way, we are drawn away from God.

It was an enlightening and inspiring read. The young woman mentioned how, after she once confessed vanity, her confessor instructed her to pray Psalm 8 in penance, and I have since making an effort to pray it every morning.

O Lord, our Lord, how admirable is thy name in the whole earth! For thy magnificence is elevated above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings thou hast perfected praise, because of thy enemies, that thou mayst destroy the enemy and the avenger.
For I will behold thy heavens, the works of thy fingers: the moon and the stars which thou hast founded.
What is man that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him?
Thou hast made him a little less than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honour: and hast set him over the works of thy hands.
Thou hast subjected all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen: moreover the beasts also of the fields.
The birds of the air, and the fishes of the sea, that pass through the paths of the sea.
O Lord our Lord, how admirable is thy name in all the earth!

3.

And after reading this initial article, I progressed to find something even more helpful from Totus Tuus’ website. This particular article recommended that those who struggle with habitual vanity to meditate daily on the Passion of Christ; “looking for the fruit of being convinced of Christ’s love for me and, thus, I do not need to look for love and approval in any other place.” This seemed to be a nod from Our Lord, given my recent inspiration to pick up not only the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, but also meditations on the Stations of the Cross.

They also suggested that the one who struggles with vanity should contemplate as an ideal, “Christ crucified for love of me,” and that they should make their motto, “For me to live is Christ; to die is gain.”

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So I am endeavoring to do this more. It can be very difficult to be honest with oneself about one’s root sin, and once you have been honest, to not be discouraged but rather to be courageous and press forward seeking a remedy. Looking over my life and to the present day, I am compelled to admit how much vanity has played a role in my frequent failings in pure-hearted love of God. But at the same time, I am so grateful for His abundant grace (coming through the hands of Our Lady) which is motivating me to seek tools so as to weed out this root vice of mine. I know it will be a long road requiring perseverance and prayer, but ultimately you only fail if you stop striving, so . . . here’s to striving! 🙂

4.

Speaking of the Stations of the Cross, I have to say that the most beautiful form that I have encountered so far is the form for Stations found in the 1962 Missal, beginning on page 34.

Among the devotional exercises which have for their object meditation on the Passion, Crucifixion, and Death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, one of the chief has been the exercise commonly called the Way of the Cross. This devotion arose first in Jerusalem, among the Christians who dwelt there, out of veneration for those sacred places which were sanctified by the sufferings of our divine Redeemer. From that time, as we learn from St. Jerome, Christians visited the holy places in crowds. The gathering of the faithful, he says, even from the farthest corners of the earth, to visit the holy places, continued to his own times. From Jerusalem this devout exercise began to be introduced into Europe by various pious and holy persons, who had traveled to the Holy Land to satisfy their devotion. Pope Clement XII extended this devotion to the whole Catholic world.

These Stations are almost entirely Scriptural (with the rich, stunning language of the Douay-Rheims and Callan-McHugh versions), and yet compiled in such a way that often, prophecies from Lamentations, Isaias and the Psalms are presented as being in Christ’s first-person narrative; the pronouns are capitalized to denote Divinity. (This, by far, is the most moving way to contemplate the Passion that I have ever discovered.) There are also inclusions from the Improperia of Good Friday, the Stabat Mater, and various old hymns from traditional lauds and such.

O Father, I am afflicted and greatly humbled, I cry aloud because of the sorrow of My heart. Lord, all My longing is known to Thee, and My sighs are not hidden from Thee. My Heart beats furiously, My strength is gone, Mine eyes are dim and dull with weeping and pain. My friends and My companions come within sight of Me, but stand aloof, and My neighbors keep far from Me.

The arrows of Thy judgment have sunk deep in Me, and Thy hand is pressing heavily upon Me. There is no soundness in My body because of Thine anger. The iniquities of My people, like a flood, have overwhelmed Me; like a crushing burden they weigh upon Me.

-Psalm 37, Third Station: Jesus Falls the First Time

5.

AbelGrimmer1607-autumn

The Ember Days are upon us this Wednesday, Friday and Saturday! Since this set of Ember Days occurs just prior to the Feast of St. Michael on the 29th, they’re called the “Michaelmas Embertide.”

There’s no better place to read about the Ember Days in general than the ever-helpful Fish Eaters, but I’ve gone ahead and quoted the most relevant excerpts below. While we are no longer obliged by Canon Law to fast and abstain (partially on Wednesday and Saturday, completely on Friday) on the Ember Days, it is worthwhile to try and do it if we can, or at least to select some sacrifice to make on these days.

Four times a year, the Church sets aside three days to focus on God through His marvelous creation. These quarterly periods take place around the beginnings of the four natural seasons that “like some virgins dancing in a circle, succeed one another with the happiest harmony,” as St. John Chrysostom wrote . . .

These times are spent fasting and partially abstaining (voluntary since the new Code of Canon Law) in penance and with the intentions of thanking God for the gifts He gives us in nature and beseeching Him for the discipline to use them in moderation. The fasts, known as “Jejunia quatuor temporum,” or “the fast of the four seasons,” are rooted in Old Testament practices of fasting four times a year.

Our Israelite ancestors once fasted weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but Christians changed the fast days to Wednesdays (the day on which Christ was betrayed) and Fridays (the day on which He was crucified). The weekly two day fasts were later amended in the Roman Church to keeping only Fridays as penitential days, but during Embertides, the older, two-day fasts are restored. Saturdays (the day He was entombed) were added to these Ember times of fasting and are seen as a sort of culmination of the Ember Days . . .

Ember Days are days favored for priestly ordinations, prayer for priests, first Communions, almsgiving and other penitential and charitable acts, and prayer for the souls in Purgatory. Note that medieval lore says that during Embertides, the souls in Purgatory are allowed to appear visibly to those on earth who pray for them.

Because of the days’ focus on nature, they are also traditional times for women to pray for children and safe deliveries.

6.

Our family was worried when we learned that Sarasota, FL was directly in the path of Irma last week: Sarasota being the home of the FSSP’s Christ the King Chapel and our beloved Fr. Dupre and Fr. Bartholomew (“beloved,” that is, thanks to LiveMass.net 😉 )

We were so relieved to hear this morning, after Dad made a phone call, that they were left entirely unscathed, and should be back to broadcasting their 8am CT Mass within a few days! God is so good!

In the meantime, we have been praying along with the Mass offered in Warrington, England, at Our Lady’s Shrine. A beautiful screen capture from a Mass last week:

warrington

Oh, don’t you want to fly there for a day, your missal in hand? 🙂 Look at that High Altar! Look at that light pouring down on the good priest and altar boys! It was almost blinding by the moment of Consecration . . . need I say more . . .

7.

My musical recommendation for the week is, without a doubt, Lux by Voces8. I have been listening to the entire album near-constantly on Spotify for the past week.

Simply put, Voces8’s offerings of sacred music are about as sublime and soul-stirring as you can find this side of Heaven. Wholly sublime. I believe a person would convert to the Faith simply by listening to Gjeilo’s Ubi Caritas and Dubra’s Ave Maria 1; but I may be a touch biased 😉

A blessed Feast of dear St. Joseph of Cupertino! And if you have The Reluctant Saint, by all means, watch it today–it is fabulous and one of my family’s all-time favorites!

Sig2