Thursday, August 21, 2008

The created order is good

God is more glorified by a man who uses the good things of this life in simplicity and with gratitude than by the nervous asceticism of someone who is agitated about every detail of his self-denial. The former uses good things and thinks of God. The latter is afraid of good things, and consequently cannot use them properly. He is terrified of the pleasure God has put in things, and in his terror thinks only of himself. He imagines God has placed all the good things of the world before him like bait in a trap. HE worries at all times about his own "perfection." His struggle for perfection becomes a kind of battle of wits with the Creator who made all things good. The very goodness of creatures becomes a threat to the purity of this virtuous one, who would like to abstain from everything. But he cannot. He is human, like the rest of men, and must make use like them of food and drink and sleep. Like them he must see the sky, and love, in spite of oneself, the light of the sun! Every feeling of pleasure fills him with a sense of guilt. It has besmirched his own adored perfection. Strange that people like this should enter monasteries which have no other reason for existing than the love of God!

- Thomas Merton

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It is easy enough to tell the poor to accept their poverty as God's will when you yourself have warm clothes and plenty of food and medical care and a roof over your head and no worry about the rent. But if you want them to believe you - try to share some of their poverty and see if you accept it as God's will yourself!

- Thomas Merton

Friday, July 11, 2008

Dogmatism and Bigotry - G.K. Chesterton

" A common hesitation in our day touching upon the use of extreme convictions is a sort of notion that extreme convictions, specially upon cosmic matters, have been responsible in the past for the thing which is called bigotry. But a very small amount of direct experience will dissipate this view. In real life the people who are most bigoted are the people who have no conviction at all. The economists of the Manchester school who disagree with Socialism take Socialism seriously. It is the young man in Bond Street, who does not know what socialism means, much less whether he agrees with it, who is quite certain that these socialist fellows are making a fuss about nothing. The man who understands the Calvinist philosophy enough to agree with it must understand the Catholic philosophy in order to disagree with it. It is the vague modern who is not at all certain what is right who is most certain that Dante was wrong. The serious opponents of the Latin Church in history, even in the act of showing that it produced great infamies, must know that it produced great saints. It is the hard-headed stockbroker, who knows no history and believes no religion, who is, nevertheless, perfectly convinced that all these priests are knaves. . .Bigotry may be roughly defined as the anger of men who have no opinions. It is the resistance offered to definite ideas by that vague bulk of people whose ideas are indefinite to excess. Bigotry may be called the appalling frenzy of the indifferent."

- G.K. Chesterton, Heretics

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Suffering - Pope Benedict XVI

“We can try to limit suffering, to fight against it, but we cannot eliminate it. It is when we attempt to avoid suffering by withdrawing from anything that might involve hurt, when we try to spare ourselves the effort and pain of pursuing truth, love, and goodness, that we drift into a life of emptiness, in which there may be almost no pain, but the dark sensation of meaninglessness and abandonment is all the greater. It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love.”

- Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi

Thursday, June 26, 2008

God and Mammon

1. Christ says: "The dollar you have
is the dollar you give."

2. The Banker says: "The dollar you have
is the dollar you keep."

3. Christ says: "You cannot serve two masters,
God and Mammon."

4. "'You cannot.' And all our education consists
in trying to find out how we can,"
says Robert Louis Stevenson.

5. "The poor are the true children of the Church",
says Bossuet.

6. "Modern society
has made the bank account
the standard of values",
says Charles PĆ©guy.

- Peter Maurin, Easy Essays

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Wherefore, if the soul rejects and denies that which it can receive through the senses, we can quite well say that it remains, as it were, in darkness and empty; since, as appears from what has been said, no light can enter it, in the course of nature, by any other means of illumination than those aforementioned. For, although it is true that the soul cannot help hearing and seeing and smelling and tasting and touching, this is of no greater import, nor, if the soul denies and rejects the object, is it hindered more than if it saw it not, heard it not, etc. Just so a man who desires to shut his eyes will remain in darkness, like the blind man who has not the faculty of sight. And to this purpose David says these words: Pauper sum ego, et in laboribus a indenture mea.85Psalm lxxxvii, 16 [A.V., lxxxviii, 15]. Which signifies: I am poor and in labours from my youth. He calls himself poor, although it is clear that he was rich, because his will was not set upon riches, and thus it was as though he were really poor. But if he had not been really poor and had not been so in his will, he would not have been truly poor, for his soul, as far as its desire was concerned, would have been rich and replete.

For that reason we call this detachment night to the soul, for we are not treating here of the lack of things, since this implies no detachment on the part of the soul if it has a desire for them; but we are treating of the detachment from them of the taste and desire, for it is this that leaves the soul free and void of them, although it may have them; for it is not the things of this world that either occupy the soul or cause it harm, since they enter it not, but rather the will and desire for them, for it is these that dwell within it.

- St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel, Bk 1; Ch. 3:4

Friday, June 20, 2008

The darkness of faith

Stripped of all consolation whether human or divine, the soul must walk in the darkness and obscurity of faith. This is the true test of love for God. He requires that we give our entire being to Him when things seem the most challenging and the most trying. It is easy to say "I love you Lord" when we have received all sorts of human consolations, when we have achieved great material comforts, when our lives undergo a minimum of obstacles. It is easy to walk with Our Lord when He was receiving the adulation from the crowds, the same ones who shouted "Hosanna" on Palm Sunday, yet how difficult it is to walk with Our Lord towards Mt. Calvary. A love which is completely self-centered, which seeks everything from the other but does not seek out the good of the other,is simply no love at all.

Please Lord help me to continue loving you.