Saturday, January 23, 2010
...and suffer the loss of his own soul?

While to shirk the call of Love may not doom a life, the act does greatly inhibit a soul's capacity for happiness, which is simultaneously, her capacity to fulfill herself. To be unhappy is to have a grudge against something, against some part of reality. Non-being cannot make a soul unhappy. Though deprivation may trouble her a moment, it cannot make her miserable as deprivation in of itself proves that what she needs does exist somewhere.

No morbidly depressed soul can enter the Kingdom of God, because to do so, she must love its Lord. To love its Lord, would be to love reality, for He is Being Itself, Essens, not a particular essentia. Knowing myself as well as I do, and knowing how wretchedly guilty I have been of wretchedness, I can only beat my breast and beg God to give me the Love which will move my gaze outs
ide of my little self to the one who justifies my existence. It is so difficult to participate in His life to the full at this time, though. I have not heard my calling; my earthly vocation is still a mystery.

I do expect my vocation to fulfill my happiness, but not necessarily in the pleasant sense. Happiness is not a reaction to pleasurable, interesting, or charming things. Otherwise we would never see smiles on the face of children fighting cancer, religious working amongst the poor, or married Catholics forced into celibacy by their spouses' abandoning them. Happiness is an exercise in
finding traces of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. If we never move beyond the infant, passive happiness, that which is aroused in us by nice things, then we shall be forever stunted in our capacity for joy, and our contment will be the most vulnerable possession we have in this world.

Riches, fame, beauty...all these passing things are inferior to the interior peace and joy that arises from falling God's calling unto Himself. It is not only because these possessions may be snatched by the Fates' fickle hands at a moment's notice, but because they are like tasteless paste spoonfed to a babe, rather than the succulent, nourishing food that require effort on the part of the eater. True happiness--following one's vocation--requires such active, spiritual effort.

We don't often see many examples of this. Some people sneer at the religious and marital vocations as the 'routine' or normal thing to do for someone who cannot excel in a rigorous profession or much admired career (not to say that married and religious people have not excelled in such spheres, but even so, these spheres were/should have been secondary to their vocations). The world
admires the talented and ambitious that do not allow themselves to be pinned down by other committments, and it is usually horrified when such persons choose the 'same' route that any obscure villager might have taken.

Already, headlines reading: 'so weird you can't make it up'
( are popping up. Some accompanied with grotesque comments and petty jibes, these articles concern the decison of Grant Desme to leave a budding career in baseball (the game and pastime honoured very highly in his country) for priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church:

I'm doing well in baseball. But I had to get down to the bottom of things, to what was good in my life, what I wanted to do with my life. Baseball is a good thing, but that felt selfish of me when I felt that God was calling me more. It took awhile to trust that and open up to it and aim full steam toward him ... I love the game, but I'm going to aspire to higher things. (,215238)

It's so beautiful, so good, and it is so true! So much so that, yes, one could not have made this up.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
St. Ignatius brought the world of meditation to a sphere the common man could easily understand. As the Society of Jesus embraced all from military commanders and scientists to theologians and farmers, it was vital to have a universally accessible discipline. Merging contemplation and action, the romantic and practical saint taught his followers to place themselves at the scene of the Scriptural moment they were pondering. Reconstructing the atmosphere and visualizing the historical personages fuelled his disciples for the mission he intended.

Here is an attempt at such a contemplation, based on fact, written for the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. Perhaps Western feminists might meditate on how fully they have secured their right to license, and ignored other women’s right to love. Note well, this is not intended for young readers.
* * *
Beyond the rolling, lush hills in southern China , the sky was tinged with the grey of the coming dawn. Life everywhere began unfolding her limbs and opening them to the herald of the sun. Yet, Bi-An's eyes did not open. They had never closed. She sat upright on the wooden floor, her legs bent beneath her and her abdomen swollen over her lap. Hua was seven months old, and tonight she was oddly calm in her mother's womb. Can she feel my unease? Does she know what news I am waiting for? Bi-An encircled the orb and centre of her life with her slender arms and lowly sang: 'Yao yah yao, yao yah yao, bao bao huai jung shuay, yao ni jang da, yo liao sheewang, bao bao kuai jang da, bao bao kuai jang da, yes. Sleep until you are big and strong, my sweet Hua.'

A heavy thump sounded outside, and An blanched at its fall. There were more--low, tired, and regular. These were the steps of one tired man, not of the police. But was her husband fatigued merely due to the hour? Forgive me for not waiting, Hua. I would never have even kissed him, if I had thought of your danger. Bing-Sun's steps came closer, and she could neither make out a cadence of doom nor impending joy.
Two months had he been husband, and two months had she been twenty. Waiting for the lawful age of marriage, the engaged couple had faltered, and now their child's fate was being weighed on iron scales. What difference does the licence make? It will still only be one baby! she pleaded within herself with the tearful earnestness that she knew Sun could not have shown to the officials in asking them to spare his daughter. At last the door opened. Bi-An rose from her knees, her slender frame hobbling a little under Hua's weight. Not taking her dark eyes from the floor, she well nigh crawled to her husband, until she could place her hand on his heart.

The smell of kaoliang spirits emanated from him in every place but his mouth. He brushed a strand of her smooth, ebon hair away from her face, and she brought her eyes to his. Lined and red, his brown orbs were watering worrisomely. 'We may keep the baby.'

An said nothing, before her husband continued. 'The fine will be 10,000 Yuan. She is expensive already.' Tears trailed down her skin of golden pearl, as she rested her head against Sun's shoulder. 'It being only one child after all,' she whispered, 'It's taken a great many cajoling dinners to secure her.' 'Yes, yes,' Sun agreed, as he held her. Querulous murmurs continued to gurgle from their lips, as they let the petty, little weights of their efforts comfortingly pull their feet to earth, out of a dream too good to be true.
* * *
An glanced at the clock. It could be any moment or any day now. She put a hand to the aching small of her back, and rested the other on her stomach. Why was Sun taking so long getting home? Of course, the traffic would be dense and monstrous at this time, but she quivered with the ticking hands of the clock waiting for him. Hua stretched in her womb, and An smilingly watched the protuberance the little feet made through her pale blue dress.

She was experimenting with tickling them, when a sharp chill swept about her own feet. An jerked her head like a startled deer. Had she not closed the door to the garden?

The young mother slowly wobbled to the door so many leagues away. Perhaps in a few days, I will leap with Hua in my arms through the flowers, and while she smiled at that thought, the burst came. Bi-An stood erect, as the fluid rushed down her legs. Hua was coming. Two streams of like waters flowed from An’s eyes. The baby was coming; soon she would be safe completely. There was the sound of a car pulling up outside. An hastily scampered to the door to meet Sun, and she threw it open. The cold of autumn swept all the summer from her heart when she saw ten officials of the family planning ministry of the county standing before her.

'Bi-An, lately married to Bing-Sun?' one man inquired with sickening banality of manner.

'Not so “lately,”' she managed to breathe.

'Too late, for a lawfully conceived baby to be that big,' one said with a jeer. An stumbled back into the house, unable to shut the door. 'We paid the fine,' she breathed.

'Your lover did think his wining and dining could yield an exemption for his slut, didn't he?'

The banal man began again. ‘Pregnancy before marriage is illegal, whatever you've been assured. Will you accompany us willingly or no?’

‘My water is broken,’ An said, trying to still her heart, lest her fear would touch Hua.
Two taller men stepped forward and grabbed her arms. The world tilted as they slowly dragged her to the door. She couldn’t breathe or speak in the frigid air whipping about her, until she saw the black of a van’s interior yawning before her.

‘No!’ she screamed, jerking her body backward, ‘This is illegal. You cannot force women to do this anymore!’

A slap landed viciously on her smooth cheek, sparking stars in her eyes as they shoved her into the vehicle. She bent over her swollen womb, alone in the dark, with the metallic taste of her own blood on her full, curved lips.
* * *
Another of her jerks and the official let the mother fall to the floor. An gasped at the pain in her elbow, but managed to rise to her knees.

‘Please, please, I have named her!’ she wept pressing her palms together, ‘Her name is Hua, please let me keep her!’ The desperate woman bowed to the floor, her hair falling in black ribbons around the upraised, supplicating arms, shivering on the clinic’s cold tiles.

Four hands clamped around her slender, delicate wrists and yanked her upwards. ‘No, I shall not let you,’ she screamed, limply refusing to rise to her feet. Another backhand left an ugly blotch of red on her olive skin, yet she hung like a rag on the floor. Two more males grabbed her legs, and at the last she found herself on the table. ‘No!’ she wailed, kicking and flailing about. Yet, heavy straps were drawn about her arms, pinning her torso to the table.

She jerked her head and shoulders about, an invisible hand grabbed her hair yanked her head back. Cruel, white light overpowered her vision as she felt several men take hold of her legs. ‘No, no, no, stop it!’ she screamed, as they spread her limbs apart. Then a tug came from within; Hua was moving.

‘Oh, God! Let her out, she wants to breathe,’ Bi-An screamed as she tried to kick back with her legs. No one spoke; there was just the circle of merciless light above her when she felt the trousers under her dress being torn and her womanhood being exposed. ‘God!’ she shrieked, kicking more violently, and then the pain erupted.

It was not the pain of rape, but the violation came all the same. The syringe entered, but all she beheld was the white sanitary light above her. She could not see, but she could feel the barbarism enacted below. ‘Stop, for God’s sake, stop!’ she screamed, coughing up all the air in her lungs, as she struggled against the stifling arms. The agony ripped all through her, cutting her, and never again would Sun’s physical love please her body. There was more pain, and never again would a child generate in her womb .

‘Leave Hua for me,’ she gasped as her voice died. Then she felt the rush of the injection and an explosion within her uterus. She sensed Hua struggling within, kicking, flailing, clutching at the fabric of her mother’s protecting womb, looking for protection against the fluid burning her inside and out. An’s eyes rolled back, and she could no longer vocalize her pleas. Instead, harsh, gasping, screams erupted without ceasing from her throat. Adrenaline flowed futilely through her restrained arms, and more men clutched at her kicking legs. Two hands still grasped her hair as she spasmodically tried to raise her head. She could almost see Hua's kicking through her flesh as she glanced down at her belly.

‘Hua!’ she cried one last time, then the fighting stopped. Bi-An drooped, sweating and gasping, against the table. Another person in the room also went still, floating in her little bed. The restraints fell from the mother's arms, and her bruised legs were relinquished. Her womanliness ached, as she put a trembling hand to her stomach. ‘Hua?” she rasped. Could she have survived? Might she be sleeping as she did on so many of those quiet afternoons at the end of summer?

‘The father has been on the phone non-stop with Chung,’ she heard a voice say. It came to her gargled and odd in the white, blurry distance, ‘he’s frantically searching for his wife.’

‘Let him worry. It’ll likely be another two days before we can use the forceps.' A dry witted chuckle followed: 'He’ll be on time for his daughter’s delivery, though.’
Bi-An felt herself drifting, perhaps she and Hua were on a river somewhere that would float them away together. But the glaring light above her eyes was blocked by the head of an old man, scowling at Bi-An. ‘I take it your lesson is learned?’
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Amongst the outspoken who hate the Church with an utmost and dire vengeance is the drunken Christopher Hitchens. Shamefully ad hominem as it is of me, I cannot but observe that he presents himself as an Ivan Karamazov after that man has 'thrown down the cup of life' and chosen to debase himself. Well, at least I know that Hitchens himself does not object to personal attacks and cannot blame me for engaging in the same practice. This is to his credit; he is consistent, boldly consistent. A consistent enough atheist to despise Blessed Teresa of Calcutta is a rare occurrence.

Few anti-Catholics of any ilk dare to such heights of spiritual audacity, whether their principles dictate it or not. The foundress of the Missionaries of Charity is such a corporeal and spiritual proof of God's dwelling in the Church, such an embodiment of all that humanity wishes it had the courage to be, that both natural human reverence and idealogical self-preservation demand obeisance.
Pat Robertson has always been glad to glaze over her Catholicity and praise her work. While attending her funeral, Hillary Clinton likely blocked out the memory of Mother Teresa's unequivocal condemndation of abortion at the White House's National Prayer Breakfast. Yet, Hitchens has actually done Blessed Teresa the courtesy of listening to her full message and condemning it.

What is Blessed Teresa's full message? It is simply that of the Roman Catholic Church's, of Christ's:

If the world hate you, know ye, that it hath hated Me before you. If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember my word that I said to you: The servant is not greater than his master.
If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you: if they have kept My word, they will keep yours also. (John 15: 18-20) thee, do we send up our sighs, mourning, and weeping in this valley of tears... (Salve Regina)

I do not promise to make you happy in
this world but in the other. (Our Lady of Lourdes)

Expect suffering here on Earth. Our true home and place is in Heaven. Expect happiness in the Hereafter. Naturally, one who doesn't believe in a 'hereafter' will rebel against such a doctrine. And there is yet another reason for non-believers to be incensed.

The Church does not teach that we must wait until Heaven to accomplish God's will. There is a fitting occupation for us in this World, even though the Earth is merely a way station. This occupation is constant and active submission to God's Will. To take up our crosses daily, and with a cheerful spirit, to follow in His bloodied footsteps is our charge. And being One Body, with other members of the Church and with humanity, we must also accept the sufferings of others as the Will of God.

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta pledged her life to alleviate the pains of the poor, but according to Christ's paradox, she also accepted it. She boldly observed the beauty that the fruits of suffering may bring forth, namely, spiritual graces for those who have not yet grown to love Sum Qui Sum perfectly. St. Pio of Pietrelcina observed that Christ is in a sick man, but in a poor, si
ck man, He is present two times over. Blessed Teresa observed also the special spiritual power in the trials of the poor. Those who suffer the most on Earth render the greatest glory to God. Suffering, once a brand of ignominy is, in the Church, the seal of the elect.

Naturally, if one does not believe in God, this is a sick joke. Sick jokes logically make people angry when perceived as such. These angry people have enough goodness to wish their brothers in humanity the same comforts they have, and they become more furious when they see such a thing is unworkable. Alleviate poverty? Even given the possibility, what of sickness? What of accidents? Even given that such sources of misery could be eliminated, the fact
that suffering persons have existed in the past and do exist in the present time, cannot be remedied.

The misery of the unmiserable is thus begotten. In more rational and active minds however, it is not content to remain a vague or even acute feeling of displeasure. A man who is constantly and increasingly unsettled by something is likely to do something about it. If he cannot accept the dripping faucet, he'll rise from bed to remedy it. Obviously, his strategy will be sound or faulty. All of man's strategies are.

If his tactics are sound, they will succeed. However, if his very project was doomed to failure from the beginning, the wholeness of his intent will not produce a good plan anymore than an unfeasible end will be gained by practicable means. His reason may have tried to work out a solution that would dispel the problem, but if he did not consider the desirability of the result itself, his means will be at best inconsequential and at worst detrimental.

The 'result' that the haters of suffering wish to achieve is of course the end of suffering itself. This should not be confused with the attempt to alleviate pain by aiding the sufferers. The project described above is the effort to destroy the very problem of pain--to create an earthly paradise.

How could anyone object to such an endeavour? Even those who naysay it's viability should surely acknowledge what a noble or pleasant dream it is? It is hard even for the Catholic to suppress indignation at the sound of grey monks warning us against such a campaign. It takes the greatest effort of Faith to accept the Cross and to kiss its splintered timber as we bear it for no other reason than that God has said to do so.

However, as we walk by Faith and not by sight, we are given visions of worlds made in man's image, that do provide a concrete, if negative, reassurance that bearing the holy rood was the right decision.

Beginning even before Malthus, and not ending with Margaret Sanger, the desire to eliminate poverty, deformity, insanity, deficiency in existence--in brief, pain--the patients themselves are often eliminated. The argument that we would emply to justify shooting a horse with a broken leg is regularly, brazenly, and coldly applied to human beings living a 'maimed' existence by men and women of the highest office. Birth control, abortion, euthanasia, contraception--all of these means of preventing or quenching life, are the answers that those miserable with misery have to offer.

Chiding the Church for preaching abstinence as the right prevention of AIDS, some atheists have recklessly promoted the use of condoms at the expense of the people suffering in Africa. Many have dared to claim that by signing a check for distributing boxes of
prophylactic rubber to these unfortunates shows they care more than religious brother and sisters who have dedicated their very lives to ministering to these afflicted men, women, and children.

The pro-abortion idealogues have nothing but ad hominem smears, which they vehemently attempt to smudge against the pro-life faction. All their claims boil down to one point, and whether they own this fact is irrelevant: 'It's better for a child to die in the womb than to be born into pain. If you aren't going to give that child a happy existence, you have no business arguing that that child has the right to life in and of itself. Nor do you have the right to tell other people they should leave off the pleasure of sex if they won't provide for the life that may result. Man was born for pleasure. Do not interfere with his destiny, for some of us, as the murder of Jim Pouillon shows, are willing to kill even the post-born to achieve that destiny.'

The legally promulgated murder of Terry Shiavo, who endured the excrutiatingly slow death of dehydration and starvation, shows just how close euthanasia-on-demand is to our doorstep.

The utopian dream has materialised as a horrific nightmare. The war declared on suffering becomes war on the sufferers. Demonically comic and painfully futile, this jihad has taken hold of our age with frightening power, and no end of its campaign is in sight.

All that the soul can do is love. The love that burns with the most charity is the simplest, and fortunately there is enough of it left in this world that aid has been sent to Haiti in an attempt to stem the suffering. It is a blessing of the deepest kind, that God's ministers are also there to console the inconsolable.

Father Toussaint has given his people the same answer God gave Job. Life is good, because all things that exist are good. All things have their good in virtue of their being. The bruised apple is better than no apple; the maimed life is better than no life. Those wounded and woeful now in Haiti are at least alive and have been called to see their continuing life as a gift and to renew their trust in the Source of life.

We must not think that because we do not suffer with them that we have escaped the same call. As they say, 'Fiat voluntas Tua,' so must we. Rancour and rebelliousness is not the fitting reaction to such events. Weep, pray, fast, and give alms but then committ these souls to the Lord that loves them more than you can imagine.

Thank God for the material blessings He gives. Trust Him when they are withheld, not only in your case, but in that of others, too. Do not be uneasy on their account. Callous as that may seem, look where the indulgence of uneasiness can lead! Let Faith and Hope be your comfort and assurance that God is Love. Love never fails.
Taking up my needlework and gazing on the reverse side of my embroidery, I am reminded of an image drawn in words by St. Pio of Pietrelcina. As we gaze up at God's Plan from beneath it, we observe only haphazard threads, random lines of colours, uneven knots, and frayed plies where the threads were cut off. Like a little child gazing up at his mother's stitchery from a little stool, we see an ugly farce of a pattern. I showed my work to some twelve-year old students in catechism today. One young boy arched his brow and said with his very adult cadence, 'Did you make the other side like that on purpose?' I replied, 'I could not have helped it if I tried. I wanted to create something beautiful, and that meant strain and ugliness on the other side of the pattern.'

Perhaps my answer does not in anyway--literally or allegorically--resemble the Truth behind God's will in the event of sorrow. He does not answer us while we traverse this Earth, as He did not answer Job. When that righteous man cried out, provoked past endurance by the religious censure of his friends, he received the great Non-Answer of God. That which is transcribed below concerns the very elements that have recently and cruelly afflicted the Haitian people:

Who is this that wrappeth up sentences in unskillful words? Gird up thy loins like a man: I will ask thee, and answer thou Me. Where wast thou when I laid up the foundations of the earth? tell Me if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Upon what are its bases grounded? or who laid the corner stone thereof, When the morning stars praised Me together, and all the sons of God made a joyful melody? Who shut up the sea with doors, when it broke forth as issuing out of the womb: When I made a cloud the garment thereof, and wrapped it in a mist as in swaddling bands? I set my bounds around it, and made it bars and doors:

And I said: Hitherto thou shalt come, and shalt go no further, and here thou shalt break thy swelling waves. Didst thou since thy birth command the morning, and shew the dawning of the day its place? And didst thou hold the extremities of the earth shaking them, and hast thou shaken the ungodly out of it? The seal shall be restored as clay, and shall stand as a garment: From the wicked their light shall be taken away, and the high arm shall be broken.

Hast thou entered into the depths of the sea, and walked in the lowest parts of the deep? Have the gates of death been opened to thee, and hast thou seen the darksome doors? Hast thou considered the breadth of the earth? tell me, if thou knowest all things? Where is the way where light dwelleth, and where is the place of darkness: That thou mayst bring every thing to its own bounds, and understand the paths of the house thereof.

Didst thou know then that thou shouldst be born? and didst thou know the number of thy days? Hast thou entered into the storehouses of the snow, or has thou beheld the treasures of the hail: Which I have prepared for the time of the enemy, against the day of battle and war? By what way is the light spread, and heat divided upon the earth? Who gave a course to violent showers, or a way for noisy thunder:

That it should rain on the earth without man in the wilderness, where no mortal dwelleth: That it should fill the desert and desolate land, and should bring forth green grass? Who is the father of rain? or who begot the drops of dew? Out of whose womb came the ice; and the frost from heaven who hath gendered it? The waters are hardened like a stone, and the surface of the deep is congealed.

Shalt thou be able to join together the shining stars the Pleiades, or canst thou stop the turning about of Arcturus? Canst thou bring forth the day star in its time, and make the evening star to rise upon the children of the earth? Dost thou know the order of heaven, and canst thou set down the reason thereof on the earth? Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that an abundance of waters may cover thee? Canst thou send lightnings, and will they go, and will they return and say to thee: Here we are? (Job 38: 3-35)

Job rose to meet the Grace occasioned by this holy visitation. Rather than legalistically pointing out that his personal misery remains and had not been addressed, he was raised to humility. Shaken out of rumination on his fell fortune, all that exists in his being stood forth to praise the existence established by Him That Is, the great Sum Qui Sum--Being Itself. Not in the annihilation of Quietism, but in the unity God intended for all to whom He imparted life, Job humbly responds thusly:

What can I answer, who hath spoken without considering? I will lay my hand upon my mouth. One thing I have spoken, which I wish I had not said: and another, to which I shall add no more. (Job 39: 34-35)

A portion of the Haitian people seem to have taken the same route. This Sunday, many of those that could attended Mass, as I did in Poland. Unlike me, they had to hold handkerchiefs to their noses so as not to be overcome by the smell of death. Father Eric Toussaint, a priest wondrously possessing the surname of a beatified Haitian, stood in the ruins of their dead bishop's seat and said:

Why give thanks to God? Because we are here. We say 'Thank you God.' What happened is the will of God. We are in the hands of God now...I watched the destruction of the cathedral from this window. I am not dead because God has a plan for me...What happens is a sign from God, saying that we must recognize his power - we need to reinvent ourselves. (

I cannot say that I know what it is to suffer. It takes but a brief glance on history, the lives of the saints, or today's headlines to humble any travail I may have endured. Yet, I shall not say that I do not what it is to suffer. Rather, I know what it is to not suffer. Perhaps not everyone is possessed of this condition; certainly, not every spiritual advisor is aware of it. Yet, it has spiritual temptations of its own.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky gave voice to so much of my inward resentment of reality's pains through his character Ivan in The Brothers Karamazov. Ivan attempts either to justify or elaborate his reasons for disbelieving in a benevolent god to his brother Alyosha, by arguing that even given God's inevitable triumph and promise of paradise, suffering can never be answered for. Not the whole glory of creation can blot out the travail of one single innocent:

This poor child of five was subjected to every possible torture by those cultivated parents...Then, they went to greater refinements of cruelty -- shut her up all night in the cold and frost in a privy, and because she didn't ask to be taken up at night (as though a child of five sleeping its angelic, sound sleep could be trained to wake and ask), they smeared her face and filled her mouth with excrement, and it was her mother, her mother did this...Can you understand why a little creature...should beat her little aching heart with her tiny fist in the dark and the cold, and weep her meek unresentful tears to dear, kind God to protect her? Do you understand that, friend and brother, you pious and humble novice...Without it, I am told, man could not have existed on earth, for he could not have known good and evil. Why should he know that diabolical good and evil when it costs so much? Why, the whole world of knowledge is not worth that child's prayer to dear, kind God'! (The Brothers Karamazov: Book V, Chapter 4)

Like Ivan, I have felt such resentment. There have been moments when, like he, I almost flattered myself that I loved these suffering souls more than the God who created them: 'I would never do or allow such a thing. I would tear out the hair of a mother who abused her child, scratch the eyes of a man who would dare harm one of these little ones. If I saw a hungry child and had the ability to provide, I would not withhold sustenance from him.'

Yet, stronger than the feelings of resentment towards God, was the guilt. All of the fortunate men on Earth who truly contemplate the unfortunate feel it in some form or other at some point in their lives. In some, it manifests itself in self-justification and condemnation of less fortunate. Those who are afflicted have sinned, ergo we need not pity them. Weal is for the holy, and woe is for the evil. Others take the path of Ivan Karamazov and choose to despise the World and its Creator for even allowing the problem of pain.

That guilt's spiritual agony is unrelenting at times. To breathe clean air and know the Chinese are stifled with pollution, just as many of my forbears were during the Industrial Revolution, to lie on my bed, knowing that I am secure against civil unrest and may sleep soundly, to drink my clean, safe water, to be hungry and know that my stomach will be filled in less than a day, to walk on two sound legs, to be conscious of my sound, healthy body, my educated mind, and my wholesome familial history is at times maddening!

'Why? Why am I given these things and others are not? How can I be happy when others are not allowed happiness? God, why can't you make me as miserable and wretched as they are, so they cannot lord it over me?' I choke on these last words for two reasons. The first obviously being uncertainty concerning my fortitude--my petty dread of suffering. The second being, that I realize so much of my abhorrence of the horrors plaguing humanity stems from my pride, not from my fraternal love or humility.

To my 'why', I know God will at least say this: 'I do not spare thee, because thou dost deserve it.' Therein lies the rub and the source of my discomfort. I am not childlike and cannot accept the lot God has given me or others. When I contribute aid to the needy, it is often with the greatest misery of spirit, because I refuse to accept that God knows better than I what is good for them. It is not enough to assist; I would wish to reverse their entire fortunes, to erase their pained existence from human history. Too often I have refused to accept that the great Sculptor, mercilessly chiselling on particular fine piece of marble loves that statue more than this rough-hewn block of granite looking on.

Worse still, I see where the miserable side of my 'compassion' will lead.

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The Unease of the Non-Sufferer: I by Rachel Rudd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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Friday, January 15, 2010
For we have not by following cleverly devised myths, made known to you the power, and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ; but we were eyewitnesses of His greatness. For He received from God the Father, honour and glory: this voice coming down to Him from the excellent glory: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him. And this voice we heard brought from heaven, when we were with Him in the holy mount. And we have the more firm prophetical word: whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Understanding this first, that no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation. (II Peter I: 16-20)

‘Is that story true?’ many a round, cherry little mouth has asked me.
Whether it was a younger sister I strolled with hand in hand through a gold-hued field of tall grass, a few young boys crouched around the mossy bank of a pond, little cousins reclining on a couch in the sitting room, or a small child sitting next to me on the bus, I would always arch my eyebrow at this query after one of my winding yarns. ‘Of course it’s true!’ To hesitate with children is to die. No being on Earth is quicker to sense hypocrisy or tentative reasoning than a child of man. Nothing but the best feigned indignation against one’s veracity being suspected and the most audacious assertion that one’s tales are in fact annals of history would hush a child’s suspicions. Even so, I would still see them screw their mouths up in a pout and glance over their shoulders with a scrutinizing, ‘I wonder…’

Is this wrong? I can imagine a few Scholastic eyebrows rising as I call to mind St. Thomas Aquinas’s position on ‘jocose lies.’ I have to confess (and I know I’m not the only one) that I have often involuntarily justified some of the masculine disdain for feminine reasoning. Nearly always, I jump ahead with my intuition when I come into contact with a problem. My reason has to struggle to catch up with it, often with a great deal of clumsy tripping that always makes me game for anyone’s wit in conversation.
Fibbing to children for the sake of their own amusement is one such instance where I refused to admit it was wrong, even with no logic to justify my position. The rationalization came later, and with the assistance of more articulate persons than myself.

First, there is a dichotomy in fantastic stories. It is difficult to see where children draw it, but it is evidenced in their reactions on seeing 'the man behind the curtain.’ I have witnessed bitter tears drawn from children who prematurely learned that Santa Claus died circa 483 A.D. in Italy—probably not having ever owned any reindeer and the only visit he ever made to a chimney being to drop a few pouches of coins down the smoke-stack. I have hardly ever seen this reaction when a littlie learned that Easter bunnies don’t lay eggs or that the tooth-fairy doesn’t exist. Perhaps others may observe that the reverse sentiment is true in their experience, but that is not to the purpose. The fact remains that in the same children of the same ages very diverse reactions are elicited.

The contrast between horrified bewilderment and stoic resignation is severe, and it does not always have anything to do with the superiority of the tale or the lovability of its characters. Some children even latch onto a story knowing from the beginning that it is a dream and love it still with a fiery intensity. Tolkien—ever the apologist of infant savvy—took issue with the author (or collector) Andrew Lang’s argument that fairytales:

…represent the young age of man true to his early loves, and have his unblunted edge of belief, a fresh appetite for marvels. ‘Is it true?’ is the great question children ask. (Fairy Books, Introduction)

With the merciless acumen a Tolkien reader has come to expect from the man that had the audacity to confess disappointment in Shakespeare, the Don tears this innocuous statement apart:

It seems fairly clear that Lang was using belief in its ordinary sense: belief that a thing exists or can happen in the real (primary) world. If so, then I fear that Lang’s words, stripped of sentiment, can only imply that the teller of marvellous tales to children, must, or may, or at any rate does trade on their credulity…What really happens is that the story-maker proves a successful ‘sub- creator’. He makes a Secondary World…Inside it, what he relates is ‘true’: it accords with the laws of that world…The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken…You are then out in the Primary World again.
(On Fairy-Stories: Children)

Then it isn’t really lying after all? Children know immediately what a myth is in their hearts, and they understand that what the author relates inside his own world is proper to that world? Looking to experience to test the hypothesis, it initially seems absolutely true. When little girls are told that mermaids have dark hair the colour of seaweed, they don’t often wrinkle up their noses as they would on seeing someone with green hair. It is a mermaid, and it’s perfectly fittng for them to have green hair.

On telling my little second cousin a story about a monster that had to devour people alive after his teeth had been broken, she gasped in horror, asked many questions, but later reversed to her former play without unperturbed. She even presented her own emotionally animated version of the story to her parents, as if at the age of three she knew that it was only a story and one that she could make her own. So there is no Man in the Moon, no Easter Bunny, no wicked faërie that steal newborns, and no werewolves living beneath the mossy pile of old uprooted railway tracks in the glen, and the best part is that children never really believed there were. Certainly, they acted as if they did, but that was only in the sphere of Pretend. After all, children with make-believe friends are hardly mentally ill.

However, what of the children who do weep on hearing the truth about Santa Claus? Nineteen years ago, I barely escaped a spanking for informing my little sisters of the location of his relics, they were so upset. And what of the moments where, even after telling little ones that wicked, watery Burda doesn’t exist, they still look about fearfully every time they walk past that muddy corner of the pond?

My cousin Jennifer and I remember the time we ate weeds that greatly resembled one of Rapunzel’s salads in an illustrated volume of fairytales (for we had concluded with five and four-year old logic that her diet must have effected such exquisite hair growth). Thanks to the tattling of a neighbour’s boy, we spent the whole afternoon guzzling pints of milk with my mother on the phone with Poison Control. Even if these bizarre instances are only found with abnormal children, i.e. the ‘exceptions that prove the rule’ (such a hateful saying), the children’s abnormality must be accounted for in itself.
Do 5% of fairystories actually exert spells so forceful they force their way into the ‘Primary World’? Or is it a defect specific in the child and as abnormal as it would be in an adult?

Lucy Maud Montgomery—the beloved author of children’s books—had a less rigorous opinion on the child's mind than Tolkien. Every single work she ever produced was in effect a study of aesthetic philosophy, and all her books held to the argument that living a life in union with the Beautiful was only truly possible by remaining childlike.

As John Banim observed: ‘there is a world of difference between “childlike” and “childish.”’ So much in fact, that they represent two poles of man’s spirit at that stage. The latter is to be shrugged off more readily than an insect’s grotty, old exoskeleton and the former is to be clung to with unwavering tenacity.

Now in Maud’s novels, the children are more likely to wish tales from fancy to reality, and to never let go of the fantastic. Hence the young Davy’s interrogation in the third volume of the Anne of Green Gables series:

‘…Say, what is echo, Anne; I want to know.’
‘Echo is a beautiful nymph, Davy, living far away in the woods, and laughing at the world from among the hills.’

‘What does she look like?’

‘Her hair and eyes are dark, but her neck and arms are white as snow. No mortal can ever see how fair she is. She is fleeter than a deer, and that mocking voice of hers is all that we can know of her. You can hear her calling at night; you can hear her laughing under the stars. But you can never see her. She flies afar if you follow her, and laughs at you always just over the next hill.’

‘Is that all true, Anne? Or is it a whopper?’ demanded Davy staring.
(Anne of the Island: Chapter XXII; Spring and Anne Return to Green Gables)

Though Anne threw her hands up in despair that Davy couldn’t distinguish between a lie and a fairytale, she was likely forgetting an instance in her own childhood where she walked through a perfectly harmless wood nearly paralyzed with the fright inspired by her conjectures concerning the place. She had come out of that experience resolved to ‘ “be contented with everyday life.” ’

Lucy Maud Montgomery herself was very harsh on her characters who persisted on holding onto dreams and fancies instead of embracing the reality before them. Anne was almost severely punished for not seeing in chummy Gilbert the other half of her soul. Pat of Silver Bush bore the full brunt of idolizing her magical home. Emily of New Moon alone seemed to understand the true part that the faerie world plays in that of the concrete (though she had many faults of her own). She observed, as did Maud, that:

It has always seemed to me, ever since early childhood, that, amid all the commonplaces of life, I was very near to a kingdom of ideal beauty. Between it and me hung only a thin veil. I could never draw it quite aside, but sometimes a wind fluttered it, and I caught a glimpse of the enchanting realm beyond—only a glimpse, but those glimpses have always made life worthwhile. (The Alpine Path)

I remember a suspiciously Platonist priest, who used to call peculiarly beautiful places (mountain balds, mossy begs, rocky caverns, verdant glens, etc.) ‘thin places’--the space between our deceptively accessible, concrete realm and an other world being markedly slight at such points. It was not that these fair, little spots were perfected by the addition of faërie influence, but that they were already more hauntingly lovely than we could understand. They referred to another excellence even beyond themselves.

In Maud’s exquisite, childlike vision of the world, we see that there is a need for all the things we love and haunt us in lore to be at least a reflection of a reality beyond this mortal veil. G. K. Chesterton often observed that our very disappointment with the non-existence of ‘turnip ghosts’ was proof that there must be, somewhere, real ghosts. The very absurdity of the fantastic is due to its aping the realistic. Even shielding one’s eyes from biographical information about Tolkien, it is blatantly obvious that his Secondary World is modelled event for event, tenet for tenet, on what is—for millions—the true story of the Primary World.

Even as one acknowledges that the Seven Days obviously represented ages and not seven twenty-four hour periods, or that Job’s tale was entirely allegory, the gist remains that the events of Revelation must be true. Aristotle said that poetry was a reproduction of real life, altered slightly to ‘instruct and entertain.’ Poetry then must have some basis in real life. If the endless procession of morality tales and fables is to take any effect on the listener, the related incidents, though unnecessary to cool reason, must have happened in some way, somewhere.

If man is expected to live his life not first for himself, but for the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, then there had better not only be these three things, but Someone else who could set the example. Humble Peter, the childlike Apostle, whose enthusiasm always outran his prudence, understood this yearning very well. He addressed it directly in his second letter.

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Fae Truth by Rachel Rudd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Our hands are so unworthy. Indeed, we ought to mark well Katharine's words set down in Shakespeare's Henry V.

Previously published on 12/08/2009 at

‘Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand.’ _Mother Teresa

This is a statement that causes many a mainstream Catholic to blush, so much so, that they often throw the gauntlet of falsehood at anyone brave enough to quote it. Citing Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’s unflagging obedience to the Church, and her humble refusal to insist on what the Church does not demand, some mainstream Catholics brand this quotation as unauthentic. They seem to forget that this holy soul is the same woman that begged Pope John Paul II never to allow altar-girls (a promise she secured, but which was nullified by the open rebellion of bishops and priests who used the loophole ‘local custom’ to force the former Pontiff’s hand).

It is curious how often the accusation of ‘hatefulness’ and ‘bitterness’ is made against traditional Catholics. Is it true? Quite. A man that has been wounded tends to protect his hurt, has less patience than he does when he is whole, and is more cautious against the possibility of further harm. The occasional bitterness of some Traditionalists is that of the injured.

G. K. Chesterton could have brought a stone to weep when he observed that the new persecutors of the faithful would refuse to admit that they were afflicting the tormented. While the old tyrant snidely said: ‘The poor should eat grass,’ the new pseudo-democratic oppressor simpers: ‘But why don’t you like grass?’ And so when Catholics have attempted to kneel in the past forty-seven years (the way believers have always knelt for centuries past), we have been accused of self-righteousness by the majority of priests, modernists, and even some genuine believers. Those of us that sink to our knees on beholding Our Lord in the accidents of bread and wine, who do not dare to touch the Host for risk of injuring His vulnerable Flesh, and who do not presume to take the chalice for fear that the vessel of His Blood may slip through our mortal hands—we are ‘mean,’ ‘hateful,’ and ‘proud.’

The bishops who ought to be our loving shepherds (remember that the father that embraced the Prodigal Son also pleaded with the elder, Frugal Son), have instead made ‘mean,’ ‘hateful,’ and ‘proud’ statements against their flock. In the
United States they have been especially harsh:

Kneeling is not a licit posture for receiving Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United States of America unless the bishop of a particular diocese has derogated from this norm in an individual and extraordinary circumstance. (Committee on the Liturgy Newsletter: July 2002, emphasis mine)

Why should a faithful Catholic do anything but celebrate our Pontiff’s latest proclamation? It is balm to the soul that in this age of scepticism a Pope speaks like an antique believer and takes a strong paternal line:

Kneeling in adoration before the Eucharist is the most valid and radical remedy against the idolatries of yesterday and today. (May 22, 2008)

To them that have approached the priest or ‘extraordinary’ minister to receive their Lord with the fear of being chastised for their reverence, this edict means they can breathe with a unburdened breast. We are not alone, and we are not marginalized. The treasure in clay that sits as the Vicar of Christ is with us.

A final word, man is both matter and spirit. What he will not reverence by mortifying his body, he cannot reverence in his soul. Standing will never equal kneeling for piety, as St. Paul clearly expressed while addressing the Philippians:

For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names: That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth: And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.
(2: 9-11)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Returning to the man who hated God, yet loved His mother, one is again baffled. The fact is as mad as preferring the sun to the moon. The latter sustains no life by virtue of her luminous beams; her light is not even her own, but a reflection of the self-sufficient radiance of the sun. The sun is the very force binding the system of man's world together-his only protection against the cold, sterile world of space without. Yet, many people do say they prefer the moon.

The reason given is often that her light does not hurt their eyes. Her beauty is soft, gentle, and mysterious. She does not burn, nor does she blot out the brilliance of other heavenly bodies, and the stars shine at her side. The moon does not give life, but she soothes it, though not even doing so of her own power, and for that reason she is preferred. There it is. Is it rational? No, but it is held.

And it is true that Our Lady does not hurt us, as she demands nothing for herself, whereas Our Lord demands everything little thing our small selves can give. It is the same case when some married people prefer their friends to their spouses, and this is also unsound. A woman's confidante may pat her hand, understand with all sweetness the trials of her inner life, and counsel her in ways that a woman's husband could not (or could not in a way that she would heed), but she is still only the lady's friend. The fruit of their intercourse can only be ideas and feelings, but the fruit of man and wife is miraculous. It is another body, endowed with a soul. Another creature, it is procreation. Friendship is sterile; marriage begets and conceives.

But then, a lover is so demanding! A woman can merely smile at her friend during a festivity, embrace her, drop a word of fondness, and consider her obligation as a friend fulfilled. However, the man who loves her wants to dance with her. The more intense his devotion, the more turns he wishes for. When his love is disappointed, he is pained, and the more ardent his temperament, the less he can hide it. And the sight of pain is so disagreeable! Even more so when one is expected to repent for having caused that pain.

The lover proves even less reasonable in that he would actually prefer his beloved to be alone with him, and expects her to leave behind the gay company of others to be at his side. It would be pleasant to laugh with and engage with other people at a feast, but there is that earnest lover entreating fervently (and rather embarrassingly at your elbow) 'How long will you keep putting Me off?' (Sister Faustina Kowalska's Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul).

Scripture and Saints have said again and again that Our Lord is a Divine Lover, and how hated does that fact make the Catholic Church in this age. Before her, it was the prologue of this Love that caused the Hebraic people to be so despised by their enemies. Why would they not simply sacrifice to the local gods in their places of exile? Why could they not just pacify maniacal rulers by patting them on the head and humour them with the affirmation that they were divine? No, they had to put their stubborn feet down and say that their jealous Lord would not allow for their hearts to be devoted to any other thing, even an imaginary one.

Nor would He even allow for an exterior show of honour to false deities. A woman can lie with a man without loving him, but a true husband will not stand for his wife prostituting herself, whatever the reason. The Hebrew God was not a distant force into which a man could tap for his personal welfare, nor a capricious superhuman who would in turn be bored or interested by the inferior creatures scurrying below his throne on Olympus. Nor again was He the figurehead of a philosophy-not actually existent, but the culmination of a very fine principle which one ought to adhere to for the sake of one's own virtue. He instead presented Himself as both an omniscient, omnipotent Being and a pitifully desperate Wooer.

If a king leapt from his throne to throw himself at the feet of a lowly woman in the crowd, he might find his people, and her, bewildered and scornful enough to knock his crown off. The person of his gentle, beautiful mother is not likely to bear any of this ill feeling. Her crown is thus often left in tact.

Returning to the wilful young woman and her devotee, it is not necessary that any of the resentment arising in her at her admirer's demands should apply itself to his gently tempered mother or sister. This does however depend on her loving them to begin with. The iconoclastic soul who cannot move past the phase where she envies the gentle soul that has known her beau longer than she (and knows better how to please him) is not the soul being discussed at present. This soul has moved past pettiness and grown to love that dear woman who has been with her beloved one all his life, the mother whose love for him has moved her maternal heart to invite this soul into her affection as well.

Yet, as time wears on, the young woman may find it easier and easier to love her wooer's mother, and discover it to be harder and harder to wax in affection for him as she ought. Selfishness does not prevent gratitude, but it does inhibit the growth of fervour and the submission of one's own will. If the girl casts the young man off, she may find herself regretting more the loss of friendship with his mother than with him-at least, at that short-sighted moment.

Such is the case with souls that had once embraced Christ in His Church. In the dawn of His light, they erect a throne for the magnificent Lover, the first streams of Grace being sweet to their parched souls. Some of these converts may at first meet with suspicion the other souls attached to Him and in devotion to Him, e.g. his foster father, Joseph, his chief apostle, Peter, but most especially His spotless mother. Yet, in the humble, loving soul, a creature so perfect and so devoted to the Lord they both love can only finally win a prominent place in their affection.

However, as man is matter and matter wearies, either in the individual soul or in the coming generations of nations, rebellion may seed itself in the heart of man. Who is this distant God that not only demands the adherence of one's intellect, but also the intimate devotion of his heart? No ruler asks his subject to abstain from gluttony at meals, no teacher pries so deeply into his student's volition as to expect inward affirmation, and no friends believe they have the right to know a man's innermost thoughts, much less the right to command them.

Forgetting that he owes his very being to Christ the King, man's selfishness is all too keen to topple His crown when it so pleases him. Forgetting the original sweetness of faith either in his own soul or in the ages before him, he plants his insolent mallet in the image of his Lord. When he turns from Christ's crown to the mother's, his hand may find itself restrained. Why demolish any devotion to that harmless creature, with no power of her own, who offers only love, and does not ask that anyone should come to her to seek forgiveness for she judges no one? With either a patronizing sneer or a grudging nod of decrepit piety, she is left alone.

And so we have nations whose rulers and peoples who do not attempt to live by His law. The Kingship of Christ is a dirty phrase, even amongst those who profess to house Him in their hearts. Yet, in the strangest places, at the oddest times, an undertow trips the feet of powerful in the world. Pragmatic Ireland fights to keep abortion from staining her land, and the fight goes on in the rudderless Americas to dam that tide of blood. Accommodating Poland wears the mark of Our Lord upon her sleeve, and refuses to let the direst of ungodly acts within her borders. Why? What have these nations in common? On the soil of Erin, there is a queen in Knock. Over the Americas waves the tilma of a Lady. Circling the higher tower of the basilica in Kraków is the golden crown of Regina Poloniae.

Man's eyes must grow very owl-like and dim, and his acts must sink to the blackest depravity to hate the light of the Moon. As he is matter and ever changing, man will either decline or rise throughout his course. It is a most likely event then, that he who truly loves the light of the Moon, will yearn for that light's Source again.
If but to See
Yet, not too Visibly

In the compelling history of the Curé of Ars, one may chance upon a story about a woman who desired the spiritual welfare of her husband. He was not simply a man of animal appetite (weak in the flesh, though willing in heart to form his will unto a nobler end), but one full of active resistance and even hatred towards God. This malevolent sentiment contaminated his feelings towards all forms of life. Hatred of Being will beget hatred of things that be, and this unhappy passion culminated in suicide.

On hearing that her husband had ended his life by leaping from a bridge, the new widow went weeping to the rectory of the village's revered priest. It is likely that St. John Vianney did not wait for her knock, but burst open his door, flooding the dark street with his lamp's glow and taking his spiritual daughter by the hand, said these words: 'Be not grieved. Between the gable of the bridge and the break of the water, he repented.'

Why? The saint gave the credit of his repentance to the grace afforded by his habit of saying an occasional Ave with his wife. He hated God, but he could honour the Madonna. Christ's own love for His mother is so intense, that apparently He did not withdraw His flow of grace unto this soul. Rather, it flowed so much the more that even in the act of ultimate ungodly despair, he forsook gloom and gazed up to the Sun-before the moment of Choice came.

How odd. Who would know of this obscure Virgin, born in an insignificant town in the Mideast, whose only glory is in her relation to the God-man, would still be loved and revered even when He is not? One may put it down to the chivalry instinctive and indestructible in some men. There is an example in the good, but erring, character of Richard Carstone in Dickens's Bleak House. Carstone's benefactor, Mr. Jarndyce, has been called the kindest man in literature by some; though Carstone himself fell out with him and staunchly objected to that fact up to his deathbed. Many have complained that Carstone's enmity against Jarndyce should have bled into his relations with all the people who admired the man, namely Esther Summerson and Ada Clare. G. K. Chesterton defended the credibility of Carstone's unwavering affection for two women devoted to the man he despised thusly: 'A clumsy journalist would have made Rick Carstone in his mad career cast off Esther and Ada and the others. The great artist knew better. He knew that even if all the good in a man is dying, the last sense that dies is the sense that knows a good woman from a bad; it is like the scent of a noble hound.' (Appreciations and Criticisms).

The above is a tender notion, and it is from the pen of a man who admired women with a dear passion. But men and women are composed of individual souls, not pieces of consciousness cut from the same cloth, and there is no reason to suppose that all men are like Carstone or Chesterton. History has said enough to let this point rest.
From a time where the woman hid her deed in the wood, and wiped the babe’s blood upon her shoe, now is the age where her act is glorified, and ‘blessed are the breasts that never nourished.’ The choice to abort a pregnancy: the great right, the magnificent triumph of modern woman.

She has taken a life; why then should we praise her?

--Nay, nay, not a life. Only one who breathes hath life, and this body is dead before it breathes, while still growing in the sea of its mother’s blood.

But why still then must we praise her?

--For having secured her liberty at any cost!

And then, how can she accomplish this mutilation of her body and the extinction of another’s?

--An accomplice skilled in such ways.

Who must pay this accomplice’s wages?

--Why, thee, thyself!

And so it shall be if the Freedom of Choice Act is signed. And this by the man that held as senator that even one breathing may not yet be living, provided that the mother desired his death before he drew breath.

Indignation swells within me every time I hear one call the Democratic Party of the
United States liberal. Not only is it bigoted in its rigorous set of ideals (those who differ with them are often dubbed ‘evil’ not ‘mistaken’), but it also demands the support of those who do not agree with the righteousness of their causes.

What is their grand cause? Why do they support a woman who wishes to end the life within her? Why do they wish to acknowledge the right of two in the same gender to mutually masturbate with one another? Why do they encourage sexual laxity in the young by forcing schools to teach them how to get away with it? Why do they make it hard economically for a couple to be generous and open to giving life?

Well, to know what they want (assuming that ‘liberals’ and neocons are foresighted enough to see their actions ends) one need only consider the result: a culture living for passion and cushioned with options after passion is spent. What stops someone from giving in to the moment? Is it later pain from the action itself?

It is a virtuous act when the future repercussions of a sin on one’s soul and conscience stop him from doing evil. But more often it is the immediate inconvenience and the censure of the culture that keeps him in check.

Contraceptives, abortion, and cultural approbation have made it possible for man to engage in any ritual stimulating his appetitive passions without restraint. What sort of man or woman does this produce? Very likely, as man is made for pleasure and happiness, such a one will pursue the most immediate goods in pleasures of sex, food, and diversion. But afterwards?

Then come the panic and frenzy. Is an unmarried pregnant girl to hang her head in shame? Certainly not; the worst censure her kind will give her is that of imprudence, not impurity. It is the weight, the weight of another forcing to look at him. Within her, he demands sacrifice from her body, abstinence from pleasure. He forces her to love him; she must now give as well as take.

However, giving is not done in this new age. It is heinous to part with more than a few coins to pauperize those about; to give one’s life to another is not to be borne. In this cold realization then, are the modern crimes committed. Perhaps whetted with fear of a new life, fear of love, but all the same they are crimes of passion spent.

The Cruel Mother

There was a lady lived in York -
all the lee and loney
Fell in love with her father's clerk -
down by the greenwood sidey-o
She loved him up, she loved him down -
all the lee and loney
Loved him 'til he filled her arms -
down by the greenwood sidey-o

She leant her back against an oak -
all the lee and loney
First it bent and then it broke -
down by the greenwood sidey-o
She leant her back against a thorn -
all the lee and loney
There she had two fine babes born -
down by the greenwood sidey-o

She took out her reaping knife -
all the lee and loney
There she took those fine babes' lives -
down by the greenwood sidey-o
She wiped the blade against her shoe -
all the lee and loney
The more she rubbed, the redder it grew -
down by the greenwood sidey-o

She went back to her father's hall -
all the lee and loney
Saw two babes a-playing at ball -
down by the greenwood sidey-o
'Oh, babes oh babes if you were mine' -
all the lee and loney
'I'd dress you up in scarlet fine' -
down by the greenwood sidey-o

'Oh Mother Oh Mother if we were yours' -
all the lee and loney
'Scarlet was our own hearts' blood' -
down by the greenwood sidey-o
'Oh babes Oh babes it's Heaven for you' -
all the lee and loney
'Oh Mother, Oh Mother, it's Hell for you' -
down by the greenwood sidey-o

What acts sicken us in the chill serpent and the grotesque spider ought to nearly kill us when done by the hands of man or woman. That of the mother animal devouring her young is such, what then of the woman who kills her child? Her form is made to nourish the infant. The fluids coursing through her matter pull her toward the babe in affection. What passion enflames her to extinguish the innocent life sprung from her own? With the most painful groan we must conclude: no passion, but passion spent.

In whatever age or clime, a woman faces the most intense darkness after the moment of love. If the man should leave, yet his seed take root within her, she undergoes the building up of a new life alone. Yet, is this a curse? Is the swelling of another soul and body within her a punishment for sin? Nay, how many women have yearned throughout the ages of the world for such a thing as life to grow within them? This is but the natural—and naturally desirable—fruit of the love between man and woman.

If however she anticipates this cultivation too burdensome, why did she give in to her passions? Why lie with one whom the law and her kin could not hold to account to remain with her? How great must have been the fire that smoked out her reason. With shame curdling her heart and he fear clutching her mind, one may feel pity easily for her vice.

Yet, to what deeper darkness does she turn in her need? Her accomplice is gone and away. She doesn’t hold him to account; perhaps because the world itself no longer blames him. Who then is to suffer? Who will pay the ransom for her future freedom and happiness? A blade of ice must surely first enter her, when she turns her hand against the innocent evidence of her excess.

One then turns again in yearning to Plato’s intuition. If he does not understand being with the piercing clarity of Aristotle, his healthy agnosticism prevents the despair that may arise from the exacting attitude of the pupil’s system. As Socrates mildly raised his hands and refused to define anything that exists, he still believed there was such a Definition. Yet to him, this Definition was its own reality, not something dependent on man to cognize it.

Of course, with or without man five cows exist on a hill, even without a man to count five. Yet, Plato posited a living entity making that five to be what it was. Aristotle rejected the form of ‘five’, ‘horse’, or ‘beauty’, as it would require a further rationale to unite the Form with the thing participating in it. If Aristotle was correct in these particular instances, what would he say if one replied, ‘True, there is a Being above the things that are, and Its Existence makes them to be what they are.’?

Aristotle’s massive hand stamped the seal on how one must conduct clear-sighted introspection of this world; even Darwin and Galileo praised his method and said with enough evidence, it would always provide the accurate result. With Plato one learns the faith in reason necessary to follow Aristotle in his mapping of this world. Yet, one also prudently withholds judgment on the world that bore this present one, until its Ambassador comes forth Himself in the light of Divine Revelation.

There are ‘thoughtless patterns of thought’, but only the ‘Mind in wrought’ can say from whence they came.

Against the swirling materialism of Thales, Anaxagoras, and Anaximander, against the frozen murk of Parmenides and Melissus, arose first Plato’s Socrates, who aimed higher to identify being and who sought reason, not matter, as the means of knowing the world. Wedding Heaven and Earth, he revealed to Timaeus the pattern of the soul, the unity between matter and form. To solve the mystery of knowing—the recognition of the Truth when one heard it—he named the recognition ‘recollection’ of what the soul’s little form remember of the great Forms before its birth in the flesh of man.

All knowing, all being, then descended from that form living within us. And saw without ever seeing a particular dog, without ever defining beauty, one would know it the very first time he saw it. At worst, man’s reasoning but required a little prompting to rise upwards.

Yet, there was a sundering! With his palm toward earth, Aristotle uttered, ‘Amicus Plato sed magis amica veritas - Plato is my friend, but truth is a better friend.’ Forms do make materical creatures to be what they are, but only as one cause amongst four. The matter is just as much a cause, the agent is the other, and the agent’s reason is the ultimate. ‘Forms without matter are nonsense.’ With mind more piercing than adamantine stone, he proceeds to define where Socrates pleaded faith-inspired agnosticism. Recollection becomes the amalgamation of experience.

Yet, if Aristotle has constructed the skeleton at least of this world’s essence, if his rule has projected every point on the line of time, what of the endpoints? What of that which is beyond this world? The great logician can only imbibe the logos, and the logos is what is, not what was or will be. Before the world and after? Aristotle cannot say.
You That Sing in the Blackthorn

Tell me you

That sing in the black-thorn

Out of what Mind

Your melody springs.

Is it the World-soul

Throbs like a fountain

Up through the throat

Of an elf with wings?

Five sweet notes

In a golden order,

Out of that deep realm

Quivering through,

Flashed like a phrase

Of light through darkness.

But Who so ordered them?

Tell me, Who?

You whose throats

In the rain drenched orchard

Peal your joys

In a cadenced throng;

You whose wild notes,

Fettered by beauty,

Move like the stars

In a rounded song;

Yours is the breath

But Whose is the measure,

Shaped in an ecstasy

Past all art?

Yours is the spending;

Whose is the treasure?

Yours is the blood-beat;

Whose is the heart?

Minstrels all

That have woven your houses

Of withies and twigs

With a Mind in wrought,

Ye are the shuttles;

But out of what Darkness

Gather your thoughtless

Patterns of thought?

Bright eyes glance

Through your elfin doorways,

Roofed with rushes,

And lined with moss.

Whose are the voiceless

pangs of creation?

Yours is the wild bough:

Whose is the Cross?

Carols of light

From a lovelier kingdom,

Gleams of a music

On earth unheard,

Scattered like dew

By the careless wayside,

Pour through the lifted

Throat of a bird.

by Alfred Noyes

Where does learning begin? When does one begin to be aware of the consist flow of sheer knowing into his soul? Sight, sound, taste, touch—all inescapable ports of vessels that our minds struggle to name and our hearts to love or reject. Or is knowledge not the reaction of experience, but the struggle of the incorporeal soul to remember herself and her true home in the world of sensation around her?

The modern age hates giants. The magnificent man is the inherent proof against democracy, and democracy is all-good. Therefore democracy has always been good (alas, we must be absolutists even in the face of Hegelian relativism), and if it has always been good, there can never have been giants. Thus, to say that Plato and Aristotle divided the worlds of belief between themselves sends up shrieks of denunciation from the modern man. Such a statement is surely the phlegm of Western chauvinism stirred with the obsequious spittle of traditionalism.

Yet, erase the faces of modern thinkers. Forget these two men were far too near to each other to achieve such divergence. Assume not that there could never have been two giants of thought, one with his head touching the dome of the sky, the other with his feet buried in the molten hell of Earth.

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The Soul Only Knows: I by Rachel Rudd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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Domine, spero quia mundum vicisti. Lord, I trust that Thou hast overcome the world. Panie, ufam, żeś pokonał świat.
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