Monday, May 31, 2010

This life can be so wonderful. To think of nothing weightier than accomplishing the day's task, to observe a baby's wonder at the spinning of a little paper windwheel, to savour the rich taste of kielbasa in one's sandwich, and to look forward to a warmly lit room with one's heart warmly lit by beer and fellowship. Surely these are the best things!

Yet, I can remember an afternoon, with my first cousin twice removed sitting in my lap as we read a story together. We were warm in the chair, as I read her a fairytale from an ornate, leatherbound volume. The rain pattered a pleasant tattoo on the roof, and the soft touch of our chenile blanket was like Heaven. The story was interrupted abruptly, as three year olds tend to end all their activites, and so I went to the kitchen to enjoy a cup of cinammon tea. To be warm and dry while the rain fell without gave me the kind of comfort bestowed by a Psalm or an Irish drinking song. Yet...

I drew closer to the window, my reflection disappearing as I leaned forward to glimpse the pewter darkness beyond the pane.

'What choo lookin' at, Rachel?' Elaine inquired in her sweet, piping voice. I turned my eyes across the broad field neighbouring our sweet yellow home towards the naked, great pines lining its eastern border, a sable vanguard against the umbrous clouds. I looked to the north. The maples' leaves turned over in the wind, revealing their silver underlining in ripples of shimmering brilliance.

I opened the door. The smell of wet rock and earth flooded my nostrils, and the mixture of the summer's heat, imbued with the wet cool of the storm enveloped me. Elaine raised her blonde eyebrows and gave me a quizzical look with her brown green eyes.

'Let's go out in the rain,' I said and made a flying leap into the downpour, leaving a sceptical child at the door. Gone was the warm comfort of the tea, and I was soon wet through. Onto the spongy lawn I trod, dancing about with no music but the rhythm of my blood, longing to be one with the heartbeat of all things. Gone was the desire for individual security and protection, only the wild desire for All remained, to bring every potency into act and to make a moment into forever. I turned with a laugh to see that Elaine had joined me, turning about with her arms outspread and also laughing.

Later, slipping on fresh, dry clothes, which brought comfort to my damp, chill skin as potent as a narcotic thrill, I admitted to myself that I wanted both. My individuality and unity with something greater. The security of community and the harrowing journey of solitude. I wanted home, and I wanted the epic.

Fiction is of course no help for resolving the dilemma. Dorothy of Kansas and Oz returned home after admitting there was no other place like it. Odysseus returned to Ithaca a thoroughly humbled man, and exalted his Penelope above any of the goddesses whose beds he had shared. Yet, Thumbelina never returned home. She became the queen of the flower elves, and Frodo Baggins departed to Valinor, his beloved Shire having failed to heal his wounds. The morals of poetry are cloven in two. One party cries out for the simplicity of the heart, and the other chants the praises of higher, greater things. One says this life is good, and so be content. The second says this life will end; do something that will echo into eternity.

The reasonable, balanced man would likely say that neither of these two extremes are perfectly right, nor completely wrong. The first lacks truth, and is inclined towards the bigotry of personal and familial interest. Tea Party affiliates of the United States do not wish to dominate foreign politics, nor would they assist foreign countries out of any kind of charity.

The second division lacks humility, and is too inclined to push the interests of what it thinks is right. It is the grand empire that would aristocratically see the oneness of all men and dictate unto them broad-mindedly, but it would also insist on their adherence to this greater whole. The coldness of this form would be willing to sacrifice the small for the great, individual lives for generations not even in existence.

G. K. Chesterton, a hobbit in ways and a wizard in mind, said that he hoped to see somewhere in the Eternal Jersualem an object with the familiar, homely semblance of a lampost. No doubt this was the quotation that prompted C. S. Lewis to include so random, yet wonderful, an object in his mythical realm of Narnia. When the hero of Tolkien's autobiographical allegory, an artist named Niggle, stepped out of the Purgatorial Workhouse on his way to Heaven, he saw a polished, brilliantly coloured train waiting him for at the station.

These men with such epic, grand tastes shared the desire to somehow reconcile the two opposing views just related. To have the peasant in his colourful, cheery garb sit at board with the solemn, erudite sage trimmed in ermine--to have Molly Malone breaking bread congenially with Aristotle. The writers mentioned wanted a common ground which embarrassed neither party, and did not attempt to mix the brilliant black and white of their aspirations into a dirty, mottled grey.

Can man's condition allow for this? Is it possible to throw one's self into the wild, climbing the mountain towards enlightenment, going farther and farther beyond all known boundaries, and at last, when one drops to his knees in exhaustion, to look up and see the warm light of a fire beckoning him through curtained windows of an ornate, gaily painted pub? To travel to distant realms, striving to rise above one's own culture in search of common humanity, and then suddenly to be clapped on the shoulder by someone with a smiling face who inexplicably knows your name?

One must sojourn through this life, with all its imperfections and disappointments, only to endure the agony of death however it comes. We shall fall into that state utterly naked and alone in spirit, if not in flesh as well, and watch the world fall away from us, existence fall away from us. At His own moment of darkness, the most resigned, detached Teacher this world has ever known cried out, 'My God, My God, why hast Thou abandoned Me?'

Is it possible, or is it the most nefarious joke ever played on man, that after this dreadful moment, the soul that chose Goodness in her life, will realize that she has just now begun to live in the truest sense of the word? After the weariness of life, will she have strength for eternity? Will she even want what awaits her, namely the contemplation of Mystery beyond our understanding, the Beatific Vision?

According to Tennyson (and many others concur), the aged Odysseus, as he surveyed the state he had built after returning home from war, was satisfied with what he would leave behind. But he was not satisfied with what would be his end. He suddenly discovered that he had not drunk 'life to the lees,' that there was use yet in his wits and limbs, and beyond him there was a world which he could sometimes glimpse, but never fully contemplate. He longed to find this world.

His military companions long dead, Odysseus gathers his friends: his beloved Penelope, the old farm hands, the faithful servants, all that is left of the elderly in his househole, and makes for the ships. This time he shall not return to Ithaca:

...for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will,
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

(Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses)

This life cannot make one perfectly happy. Even if one could possess all the goods tallied up to provide joy, bliss would still be imperfect. St. Teresa of Avila once observed:

The third property of water is that it satisfies and quenches the thirst; for it seems to me, that thirst implies the desire of something we stand much in need of, and which, if it cannot possibly be obtained, kills us. (Teresa of Avila, The Way of Perfection)

We thirst for adventure and long for security. We fear death and pale at the eternal. Our hearts are set on the temporal, which we wish to endure forever. Man wants to know what is at the bottom of all existence, but can an effect hope or even desire to know its Cause?

Over a millenium after the Philosopher's flesh was swept into dust, centuries after the Son rose in the East and set the West aflame, a big, lumbering man was sitting on a hard bench in a stony cell. Whether he wrote by a shard of sun or the aureole of a candle, his own illuminated mind brought forth these words:

Respondeo: as stated before, our end (i.e., the purpose of humanity) is twofold.

Did he pause after that? Or did he scribble on furiously?

First, there is the thing itself which we desire to attain...Secondly there is the attainment or possession, the use or enjoyment of the thing desired. In the first sense, then, man's last end is the uncreated good, namely. God, Who alone by His infinite goodness can perfectly satisfy man's will. But in the second way, man's last end is something created, existing (in him, and this is nothing else than the attainment or enjoyment of the last end. Now the last end is called happiness. (Summa Theologiae, Prima Secundae Partis: Question III, Article i)

So God will give us Himself, but in what way? So that we can truly contemplate His infinity? His eternity?

Final and perfect happiness can consist in nothing else than the vision of the Divine Essence. To make this clear, two points must be observed. First, that man is not perfectly happy, so long as something remains for him to desire and seek: secondly, that the perfection of any power is determined by the nature of its object. Now the object of the intellect is...the essence of a thing...Wherefore the intellect attains perfection, in so far as it knows the essence of a thing... Consequently, when man knows an effect, and knows that it has a cause, there remains in the man the desire to know about the cause...and this desire is one of wonder, and causes inquiry...

If therefore the human intellect, knowing the essence of some created effect, knows no more of God than "that He is"; the perfection of that intellect does not yet reach simply the First Cause, but there remains in it the natural desire to seek the cause. Wherefore it is not yet perfectly happy. Consequently, for perfect happiness the intellect needs to reach the very Essence of the First Cause. (Summa Theologiae: Prima Secundae Partis, Question III, Article viii)

The atheist and fabulous mystery novelist, Colin Dexter, wrote through the lips of his irascible hero, Inspector Morse, these poignant words: 'I wish to God there was a God. A just God, dealing out judgement and mercy.' In the end, we all admit in our moments of sincerity that we want an explanation for existence. At the last, after all of man's inhumanity to man, we want someone who can show us the tapestry that will finally allow us to forgive evildoers completely, embracing existence with renewed joy. In a world of such horrors, we want there to be something so Beautiful behind it all that It would annihilate ugliness. We want it, we want it. Oh God! can we have it?

Creative Commons License
The Problem of Infinity: Do We Wish to Be Made for It? by Rachel Rudd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
We are finite beings.

This statement may be acknowledged by any given man to whom it is uttered, but is it truly imbibed by the hearer? Is its meaning held within his bosom, and does he nod his head in vigourous assent? Does his face cloud over, though frozen with Stoic fatalism, or does he fall to his knees crying out in agony? For some odd reason, such behaviour as described above is not considered strange in a dying man, yet it would be seen as bizarre in a man pondering the fact of death from afar.

Some, if they are of faith, may take this moment to console the pensive self-mourners with the assurance of life after death, since that
ought to be consoling. Yet, these well-meaning souls have not absorbed the statement properly. It was not, 'we are mortal beings,' but 'we are finite beings.' As Tolkien said concerning the necessity of man's death in his literary works, it was a gift from Eru, the creator, not a bane or curse that man should die. The idea was that humanity was not made for immortality, because man himself is a certain quantity. No matter how much butter one has, it can always be scraped too thinly over too much bread. Man, being finite, does not have the capacity for the infinite.

The remains of this essay will likely be of no interest to those who believe man's very existence is finite and terminates at death. Indeed, if that is the case, there is no more to discuss. For those who on the other hand believe in infinity, the problem still requires resolution.

I still remember that aching moment twenty-one years ago now. A five year old girl was sitting in the back of the car, staring at her second younger sister in the baby carriage, while the first younger one sat up front. As her mother turned into the driveway of their home, the child glanced out the righthand window towards the tall hills beyond the railroad tracks, themselves invisible due to the intervening meadows and woods. If she did not perspire, she had that same preliminary sensation of nervous cold that precedes the sweat resulting from stress.

'Mommy, I'm scared of Heaven.'
'What? Rachel, it only makes sense to be scared of Hell.'
'Heaven is scary, too, because it doesn't end.'
'If it ended, you wouldn't exist.'

And so began an brief interchange that did not leave the child satisfied. It's a shame that she asked these questions so soon. Rather than resting with childlike trust on the goodness of the same God that had created cedar trees, the colour purple, the smell of vanilla, and the cooing of a mourning dove, all of which she loved so much, her morose mind sought things beyond its strength.

'One cannot conceive a thought without language.' Being inarticulate (especially when one does not even know the word 'inarticulate') can cause a great deal of suffering. Teaching English in foreign countries, I have seen children tear up with frustration over my not understanding their native language, especially when it is spoken quickly and emotionally. Trying to convey philosophical problems for one's parents to resolve before even knowing that philosophy exists also causes a great deal inner tribulation.

It was at the age of nineteen, when my famished mind was devouring St. Augustine's
Confessions, that I found I had not been alone in my fears.

'Thank God! Someone else has been frightened of infinity,' I said after a seminar on the work.
'Oh yeah,' a fellow student said, 'I remember trying to tell someone once that I was scared of Heaven, and they thought I was crazy!'

So the Bishop of Hippo had shared the quandary. Two years later, the Angelic Doctor resolved the problem altogether with his definition of eternity:

Thus eternity is known from two sources: first, because what is eternal is interminable--that is, has no beginning nor end (that is, no term either way); secondly, because eternity has no succession, being simultaneously whole. (Summa Theologica: Prima Pars, Question X, Article i, emphasis mine)

How wonderful it is to breathe! To take air into one's lungs up to the count of four, hold that breath a moment, and breathe out as if one's manacles were falling from one's wrists, the scales from one's eyes. I was able to exhale such a breath when I saw that Heaven was not a horrifically tedious, infinite line, which would drag out my ragged soul, thinner and thinner, throughout eternity. It is not a perpetual succession of seconds, but one great second, even less than a second, it is one great 'now.'

To give an illustration to the visual learner: recall please that a line is that which has only length and no width. Is such a thing impossible in the physical world? Yes, but so are circles, triangles, and squares, and you can imagine those just fine. Now imagine a plane. In the diagram below, the line is lavender, and the plane green. The line is imperfect obviously, for if it were a true line, you could not see it at all.

Now, place a few lines within the plane.

There are three lines within this plane, and if you magnify it, you will see that there is plenty of green space in between the purple marks. Now since a true line has no width, it is impossible to place two side by side, and so it would be impossible to cover this plane with lines. Just so, if you tried to draw a circle by making equal lines from a certain point, you would probably never succeed in finishing it. The finer your pen, and hence the closer the pen would be to a true line, the less likely success would become. This is the problem of assuming what is two dimensional can be converted into the first dimension. The same absurdity arises when one tries to cram the eternal into the fourth dimension.

If Heaven were like a lush and verdant forest that had to be explored by one's moving through it, the expedition would likely end in madness. Our limited eyes would be forced to exploring one narrow line, one after the other, straining to catch everything of worth. We would never see the whole and certainly never come to an end. Yet, in Paradise, there is no time, only eternity. If one accepts that time is
the measurement of motion according to the before and after there can be no before and after in the Hereafter. Rather than view a park by examining one blade of grass after another, line by line, Heaven is everywhere immediately open to us as. One need but remain still and glance about, taking in its splendour.

Such a conclusion would not have been possible without Divine Revelation, and even then, it took centuries for the truth to be put in such clear words by the Church's 'Dumb Ox.' Yet, the problem remains that even if we are not asked to move along the plane of Heaven in wearing lines, can a one dimensional creatue glance from side to side? Can four dimensional creatures like use begin to understand an existence beyond time?

The problem of taxing out nature beyond its strength has been resolved, but a new problem has arisen. How can we rise above our very natures into a higher existence? If one grants the soul's immortality, how can this question be resolved?

It was certainly beyond the strength of the world's greatest minds standing alone, specifically, Plato and Buddha.

While Socrates consoled his disciples with his magnificent certainty of life after death in the Phaedo, Socrates himself (or as written by his disciple) apparently feared the immortality of the spirit. He may have projected that after death, beauties and glories of enlightenment awaited the soul, a return to the star where the spirit had her birth.

Yet, as one takes in the whole of the dialogues, one discovers with some disappointment that there is no 'happily ever after.' The soul again descends into this world, drinks of the River Lethe, and is reborn on Earth, having forgotten all previous lives. While an impious soul descends into lower, animal forms of life, the pious is again exalted after death, but then the circle spins yet again.

Buddha essentially had the same idea. Whereas Socrates yearned to look on the Form of Love after death, Buddha desired not to love at all, but to achieve a space without air or breath. This would be the realm where no fire could burn, because there was no breeze to feed or fan it. However,
Nirvana, like Plato's star, is not a final destination. After ascending the petals of the lotus flower, the spirit again tumbles down. Again it plummets into the muddy earth of the flesh. Round and round the wheel turns.

At first there is something very appealing about the theory of reincarnation. It soothes both our fear of death and of eternity. Being around ten years of age, I had come up with the theory that every once in a while in Heaven, one went to sleep for a time, and awoke having forgotten all that went before, thus refreshing existence anew. I see now that there is truly no difference between my little theory and that of the those just related.

Children cannot help being honest though. If their appetites do blind them occasionally, they remain brutally honest with themselves in solitude, for they have not yet mastered rationalizing. Even at ten I knew my theory was cheating. Just so with Plato and Siddhartha. They were two men reasonable enough to know that the soul was immaterial. They were broad enough in mind to propose that the immaterial can live without matter, and they were noble enough to believe that the best things awaited man beyond the grave. But there is a limit to man's greatness, even his greatness of mind.

The mightiest of spirits may scale the highest mountains, bracing their flesh against the cold, taking in stride the lack of air for the sake of breathing the purer, though rarer stuff, climbing higher and higher up the great peaks. They find themselves at ever more dizzying heights, taking in more thrilling views, and trekking up lonelier paths. Finally, as their nostrils bleed, the scarcity of air tires their lungs, and solitude becomes as stifling as a mob, they giddily scream that they have at last reached the top, shutting their eyes to the infinity of the mountain jutting into eternity. Down they giddily cartwheel back into the valley, taking shelter in the mundane, glad to have their mortal souls safe from the great, eternal Forms again.

Like Tolkien's hobbit hero, they say:

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the road has gone
Let others follow it who can!
Let them a journey new begin,
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

Yet, as Bilbo was nodding by the fire in Rivendell, did he perhaps glimpse amongst the tongues of flames, the great peak of the Lonely Mountain, urging him to start out again?

Creative Commons License
The Problem of Infinity: We Seem Not to Be Made for It by Rachel Rudd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at
Monday, May 24, 2010
Do not forget the Church Suffering!
Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spirit seeking light and beauty,
Heart that longeth for thy rest,

Soul that asketh understanding,
Only thus can ye be blest.

Through the vastness of creation,

Though your restless thought may roam, God is all that ye long for,
God is all His creatures’ home.

Taste and see Him, feel and hear Him,
Hope and grasp His unseen hand; Though the darkness seem to hide Him, Faith and love can understand.
God who lovest all Thy creatures,

All our hearts are known to Thee
Lead us through the land of shadows

To Thy blest eternity.
Mother Janet Erskine Stuart,
Who if in Purgatory's Flame,
I pray for Thee,
And if Glorified,
O, Pray for Me!
Sunday, May 16, 2010

What Is to Make Woman Happy?

I hope I am justified in now extricating myself from the--I grant--hardly exhausted web of particulars outlining my plot and am free to proceed to universals and principles.

Happiness is first something that is hardly possible to maintain in this flawed, fallen world. If one attempts to number the exterior objects that appear to constitute contentment: health, talent, success, wealth, beauty, friends, security, etc., then one is left concluding that this blissful state is well nigh impossible. If happiness is defined by pleasant conditions, which are always beyond one's control, then I give up the argument and say with the Greeks, 'Call no man happy until he is dead.'

If however, (granting how hard happiness is to maintain) this excellent condition is defined by the disposition of man's soul, the discussion of obtaining joy becomes possible. Aristotle defined happiness thus: the activity of the soul according to virtue. This is the only sort that may be arrived at through one's own efforts, and the one which will be now considered.

As Socrates pointed out, virtue is something that is equally needed and must be equally sought by men and women, just as health and strength are equally desirable. However, aside from the various lists composed by schools of thought and faith, how does one seek what is virtuous, especially in amoral circumstances?

For a Catholic, every act that is holy is so because of its participation in Holy of holies. To be is the greatest good, and to not be is the worst evil. All acts must then be subordinated to Sum Qui Sum, and so good is achieved directly through His revelation. Since being is goodness, every act, even the commonest (e.g. eating and drinking), may be consecrated. As Socrates admitted, only a cobbler can make another cobbler. Only the Author of virtue can make one virtuous.

Regarding the quest of non-Catholics, I shall turn to the 'trinity' that a rationalist professor of mine exalted: goodness, truth, and beauty. If there is more than that on Earth ye need to know, who has found it? Let that most reasonable triduum stand as the greatest secular good. Everything one must seek to be virtuous then, ought to lead back to these three things, and possession of them will be the key to happiness.

Women then, just as men, ought to consider each of her acts in the light of these best qualities. If the question of her apparel is indifferent to truth and goodness, should it not then be beautiful? What has she to gain from ugliness, except the discomfort or disinterest of those around her? What wrong will she right with a strident voice or a constant scowl?

If she wishes to exalt truth in her heart, then is it good for her to cling to anthropological fantasties of matriarchal societies centred on Mother Goddess worship? Should she not look at all claims through the simple light of reason with the rational incredulity that has always distinguished the greatest thinkers?

And is it not worthier of her to consider the good of others, especially the fruit of her own womb, as she struggles to seek goodness itself? A heroine, like a hero, must put others first. The sedate guardian, Athena, proves a worthier model here than the hysterical murderess, Medusa. Feminists of course demand that men adhere to such rules, but it is time they started demanding the same from women rather than politically correct advantages for women.

However, though the quality of health in men and women are the same, a doctor will tell you they are often achieved by different means, as the difference in bodies entails different needs. Speaking of woman's particular destiny from a rationalist view would likely lead nowhere, as the most sincere love of reason still produces varying schools. Ursula K. Le Guin would probably argue for asexuality of roles: equality also means sameness. Hodee Edwards would likely say, 'Conquer or die,' given her view of
male-female relations. Yet of the varying purely logical positions, Tennyson's proposition, made by Princess Ida's suitor, strikes one at least as the happiest:

Henceforth thou hast a helper, me, that know
The woman's cause is man's: they rise or sink
Together, dwarfed or godlike, bond or free...
...Yet in the longer years, liker must they grow...
...He gain in sweetness and moral height
Nor lose the wrestling thews that throw the world;
She mental breadth, nor fail in childward care,
Nor lose the childlike in the larger mind...
... My bride,
My wife, my life. O we will walk this world,
Yoked in all exercise of noble end,
And so through those dark gates across the wild
That no man knows. Indeed I love thee: come,
Yield thyself up: my hopes and thine are one:
Accomplish thou my manhood and thyself;
Lay thy sweet hands in mine and trust to me. (The Princess, Part VII)

If this is not the most credible suggestion, it is at least the most joyful one, and the one that a rational man or woman would grant is the ideal for the truly perfect society. But ideals are not always possible, and can a woman still behave in the ideal fashion of 'childlike' trust and submission in a fallen realm?

Men may disappoint women and perhaps drive them to destroy others, as in the case of abortion, or themselves, as in the case of 'Black Widow Bombers.' Yet, what has Feminism has done but led to the denial of perpetual instinct and to the spilling of innocent blood? When the nature of imperfect reality imposes itself on the ideal, I suggest the remedy is not to put one's faith in princes or princesses, but turn to Faith itself for an answer:

Being subject one to another, in the fear of Christ. Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord: Because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Saviour of His Body. Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered Himself up for it. (Ephesians V: 21-25)

Feminists have always done St. Paul the injustice of refusing to interpret him in the light of his own principles. If a man were to say to me that I was pale, I would only be justified in taking any degree of umbrage if he thought fair skin was unattractive. If I say to someone that their play reminded me of a Shakespearean comedy, then I must have been in a nasty mood that day, for when the Bard veers from history and tragedy, I tend to abominate him. Likewise, if a man who loves dominion says wives ought to be their husbands subjects, he must be a misogynist for he assigns to women a role he despises and would not choose for himself.

St. Paul, on the other hand, loves humility. He is a staunch follower of the Godman, who said: And whosoever will be first amongst you, shall be the servant of all. To be subject then, according to this Creed, is an honour. Here is one of many reasons why the Church was demeaned as the religion of 'slaves and women.'

Yet, even read without the context of the Gospel (which would be an absurd thing to do), women are still given the preferred role within the framework of St. Paul's verse. Women are called to represent the Church, while men are to symbolize Christ, in their relations as wife and husband. This is simply symbolism, though. In reality, men are not Christ, but also erring members of the Church. In the end, he is called to behave towards God as his own wife behaves towards him. In the Catholic Church then, women are held up as examples to men, whereas to women, men are simply practice. Which of these is the higher calling?

Men and women must both learn to find joy in the routines of their lives. To arrive at the greatest happiness, they ought to practice the best virtues. Custom and Faith have both proclaimed woman's sphere to be primarily that of passion, with some forays into the field of action. Let her, at the risk of her own unhappiness and that of society, refuse to heed that dictum.

Creative Commons License
The Desires of a Woman's Heart: Conclusion by Rachel Rudd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at
Thursday, May 13, 2010
What Ought a Woman to Render?

The modern female does not wish to be passive, so it is time to move into woman’s more active sphere. Feminine volition must here choose allegiance, to take or to give. To usurp or to submit. Of course, here I am referring to the intensely personal relations in one’s life, those linked to vocational callings and the deepest movements of the heart.

There are and have been many instances from time immemorial where a woman works alongside a man with little difference as to gender. Does one really suppose that a fishmonger disdained to bargain with a woman in the Middle Ages? Was it impossible for a landlady to extract her rent from male tenants? Did farm labourers constantly harass the dairy-maids without any restraint from an overseer? For pity’s sake, no work would ever have gotten done!

In line, however, with the dreary suppositions presented above, it is a trend amongst many ‘gender studies specialists’ to be so wholly obsessed with the problem of sex that they wish to find it lurking around every corner. Between every man and woman haggling over the price of tomatoes, there must be a Freudian urge motivating their actions. Just as the flesh underlies one’s clothing, the erotic underlies all we do. If they look at their own personal experience they would surely see otherwise. I approached a vendor in an open air market to buy mushrooms the other day. He looked bored as I walked up; he looked bored as I haggled him down a
złoty, and he looked bored when I made my purchase and left.

As one female writer said to women concerned over seeing a doctor for feminine examinations: ‘He’s busy, and you’re not that special.’ Therefore, it is plain that many of our relations in life will be platonic and indifferent to gender, unless the parties involved are either extremely courteous or extremely amorous.

But one does not define himself by these superficial forms of intercourse. Does a man, standing upon a mountain bald overlooking a sea of clouds, gazing across the perpetually rolling see, or perched on a rock in a painted desert, think of himself as a retail worker, a managing director, a doctor, or even a teacher? In the most unvarnished corners of the world and of the heart, only those roles touching the core of a his soul ought to remain in mind.

Those intimate and sacred relationships are those that present the quandary of the essay. What a woman (or a man) owes to an employer, a colleague, or a random stranger is evident and not frequently problematic, as they usually don't touch upon her deepest desires or happiness. A woman free of peevishness is not likely to complain of subordinating herself to the interests of that institute which pays her for her time, unless that organism does not pay well.

So when asked if a woman has a place in the workplace, one cannot but say yes. Women have worked alongside men throughout history, and even the much loved (and hated) woman of Proverbs 31 had dealings with trade and sales. Yet, it is more fitting and usually more likely that women rely more on the motions of their hearts than the advances of their careers for happiness.

A female doctor, who resented my family for using a feeding tube to nourish my grandmother after she could no longer swallow, was thrilled to learn that our unjust economy was forcing my mother back into the workplace. My mother diplomatically said (as this woman controlled the aid we received for taking care of my father’s mother), ‘Well, this is not going to be a career or profession for me. It’s just work.’

‘Good for you!’ she replied with a toothy smile, completely unaware of how unwelcome that response was. I cannot but smile wryly and draw a parallel between that doctor and the traditional matron of a bygone era, with my mother cast as the non-conformist ingénue.

‘I’m engaged to be married,’ the female rebel would begin.
‘Oh, how wonderful!’

‘No! I do not love the man, and I do not wish to marry yet, but my parents insist I will have a husband all the same.’

‘Good for you!’ I wonder if the doctor would appreciate the humour in that likeness.

As to the professional woman that apparently has a job she likes, she may wish to reconsider the amount of time invested in it. Unless she is single, she has a husband, and if she has a husband, she ought to have children (the natural product of spousal relations), and children crave Momma. As vital as a father is to his child, the physical and near presence of the mother is irreplaceable both according to traditional lore and current analyses.
As research by the University of Alberta in Canada shows, a mother's touch is vital to the development of a person's sense of security, male or female:

A simple pat on the back of the shoulder by a female in a way that connotes support may evoke feelings that are similar to the sense of security afforded by a mother's comforting touch in infancy. (

When I myself was recovering from runaway asthma at age 4, I am ashamed to say that I was constantly telling my father that I wanted ‘Mommy’ near me, as loving as his presence was. I cannot recall that without wincing, but there it is.

It is also the mother that children requite with coldness for not having been with them all day, unfair as that is. Having babysat from age 12 onward, I have seen it over and over again, as well as many of my colleagues.

However, for many households, two bread-winners are necessary. There is nothing more to say on that matter, for it cannot be helped. Marxism has very successfully, and with the help of women, invaded global society, seeking to break down the family unit, i.e., that which nourished the individuality, for the unique soul is the enemy of Communist State. Of course, destroying motherhood was the only way to subvert family life, and Lenin recruited females with great success.

He called it liberation. What he was actually initiating was 'depersonalization,' as Karl Stern so aptly dubbed it. Removing the gender specific roles of woman, she became another cog on the state's wheel.

Is this totalitarian liberation actually better than the 'drudgery of the home?' Is homemaking even the dreary pathetic work it is made out to be? Let another more eloquent thinker address the question:

...when people begin to talk being to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult, but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question...If drudgery means only dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge in the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colourless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean...I can understand how this might exhaust the mind (the role of homemaker), but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe?
How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? (G. K. Chesteron, What's Wrong with the World: Part III, Chapter iii: The Emancipation of Domesticity, note and emphasis mine)

As a teacher, I have certainly felt the limitations of my profession as described above. I provide the basis for learning at school, then my students go home, where they should begin to live the lesson. How often I envy the women who can make the children to study at home and show how these rules play out in the life around them. It is painfully obvious to me that mothers' work is more meaningful and significant than mine, for when I see that a student has neglected his homework, my first thought is that I wish I were his mother, so I could see to it that he was actually applying himself.

However, in the modern era, many actual mothers do not have that luxury. Scores of women are imprisoned in the workplace just as they were in factories during the Industrial Age or on plantations via racial slavery, and until society is remade, this modern enslavement shall continue.

While it is useless to preach concerning the unjust requirements of a tottering economy, something further may be said against that feminist disdain for sacred feminine duties. As sympathetic as I am towards the Society of Saint Pius X, the silencing of Bishop Richard Williamson was rather a long time in coming.

When arguing against university education for women, he hurled this hateful shard of obsidian:

…And if she has a "degree", how will she not think herself above the multiple humiliations of being "barefoot and pregnant"?
(Letters of Richard Williamson)

How dare he link excellence of the mind or spirit with abhorrence for the most wonderful fulfilment of woman’s nature? The more liberally (meaning truly, not Leftistly) educated or philosophical a woman is, the more likely she is to appreciate what other women take for granted. She houses life in her womb! She feeds another human being with her body and gives of herself in the most direct and heroic manner.

G. K. Chesterton once said that to see a thing as one saw it for the first time is to see it as it truly is. If I told you that at a certain hour in the night, a celestial object would appear in the sky so immensely bright that it would blot out the stars, illumine the atmosphere so completely that its refracted light would colour the heavens with all the vivid hues of the rainbow, and even force the plants of the soil to respond to its presence, you would be amazed and wonder what comet, meteor, or planetary event would produce such an occurrence. Well, the answer is 'as plain as the midsummer sun,' which we all too often take for granted. Contemplate the physicality of womanhood long enough, and the same wonder will be discovered.

In fact, concerning the fleshly part of her identity, woman has escaped the limbo imposed on man by modernity. In the First World, and perhaps parts of the Second and Third as well, there are no ceremonial passages into manhood that are as meaningful as they have been in former epochs. There is no changing of names that affirm a man of where he now stands, and few trials of physical endurance. Ignored by society, youths must look for affirmation in some more personal way, which is often less satisfying due to its ambiguity.

Getting a car? Not so easily accomplished for some and still not enough to fill this hole. Losing one's virginity? Though it is an act which the modern world often identifies ‘becoming a man’ is nothing more than a gratification of the flesh and will not satisfy this yearning. It can only overwhelm it by appealing to overweening concupiscence as the former appeals to materialism.

Women however know when they have become women as surely as they know the motions of the moon. The trials and hardships of her sex visit themselves upon her regularly and without fail. She needs no confirmation of herself from without on those days when she sometimes even writhes in pain.

When with child, the fact of her womanhood is even more brutally plain through what she endures. If she wishes not to have the assistance of medicine, then as she prepares to give birth to her child, she finds it necessary to accomplish the great feminine act of submission in a very literal manner: to let the pain take her body, and accomplish her labour. Is this not an act of magnificent personal accomplishment? Is it not the greatest gift one may give to society? that of its continuation?

The ladies of the Russian biathlon team, and most recent Olympians in that field, put the whole world in awe with both their feat and these words from Anna Boulygina:

No medal compares to having a child. I think children are the main thing women are designed to do. Having a family is an enormous help to me and it is due to their support that I am able to achieve this result.

And from Olga Zaitseva:
My child is my greatest happiness and he is my best little gold medal. It has made me calmer.

And Olga Medvedtseva (on whether pregnancy ruins a woman’s body):
I would say it is a very stimulating experience and I would recommend having kids, don't be afraid of it.

Let us return to Gertude Chiltern in the fourth act of
An Ideal Husband. This thoroughly modern woman, almost a little too political and rigid, finds herself in a situation with moment beyond her temporal, Victorian world. Her principles dictate that her husband must abdicate his brilliant political career, which was only made possible by a single act of incredible dishonesty. Logically, his redemption hinges upon his willingness to sacrifice the fruits of his crime, and that is what she demands of him.

On hearing of Robert Chiltern's resolve to quit public life, their surprisingly devoted, dandy friend, Lord Goring, takes the regal Gertrude aside and pours forth words so extraordinary that one might never believe they came from Oscar Wilde’s all too clever and witty pen:

Lady Chiltern, allow me. You wrote me a letter last night in which you said you trusted me and wanted my help. Now is the moment when you really want my help, now is the time when you have got to trust me, to trust in my counsel and judgment. You love Robert. Do you want to kill his love for you? What sort of existence will he have if you rob him of the fruits of his ambition, if you take him from the splendour of a great political career, if you close the doors of public life against him, if you condemn him to sterile failure, he who was made for triumph and success? Women are not meant to judge us, but to forgive us when we need forgiveness. Pardon, not punishment, is their mission. Why should you scourge him with rods for a sin done in his youth, before he knew you, before he knew himself? A man's life is of more value than a woman's. It has larger issues, wider scope, greater ambitions. A woman's life revolves in curves of emotions. It is upon lines of intellect that a man's life progresses. Don't make any terrible mistake, Lady Chiltern. A woman who can keep a man's love, and love him in return, has done all the world wants of women, or should want of them.

My sisters, stay your indignation at the line ‘a man’s life is of more value than a woman’s.’ Those words do not have the same significance as 'dignity of life,' and they hinge upon the fallacious idea that a public career is more important than a private one (which all wise men and women know is poppycock). Instead, heed the rest of these words. It does not follow that what is good and true for us is always what we wish to hear, anymore than medicine is always pleasant.

Now what happens when Lady Chiltern conquers her ‘high moral tone’ and instead acts from her womanly heart, truly forgiving her husband his past misdeed?

Lady Chiltern: You can forget. Men easily forget. And I forgive. That is how women help the world. I see that now.

What happens next is proof that this is a play, not a novel, for it needs a fine actor to bring it to life. An artist who knows to pause after that line, trembling with manly emotion. He must then take the lady in his arms crying out her ancient, sacred title: ‘My wife! my wife!’ And Wilde’s Victorian comedy passes beyond its historical period and enters the plane of the epic. Gertrude Chiltern is exalted with Andromache, Penelope, and Beatrice.

Of course, not every woman is married to Robert Chiltern, and this is a work of fiction. Yet, when speaking to a woman who is happy in her married lot, one often finds she has through heroic womanhood, caused this title with such emotion to fall from her own husband’s lips.

The second great feminine title is one that women have often tragically prevented being uttered. Since woman’s 'liberation,' motherhood has frequently been dismissed as a mediocre, ‘easy’ thing state to enter. By too many it has been regarded as nothing more than an impediment to sexual freedom. Women have flooded their bodies with steroids to render their fertile wombs as barren as stone, while men have comically masked their maleness with rubber, fearing lest they be man enough to beget another human being. When all else fails, and life is conceived, women allow their bodies to be invaded in order to quench that life. The roles of wife and mother are at best conventional and at worst, oppressive.

How could he be called an oppressor? And as argued above, how could raising him, and shaping his world be thought insignificant work? What is so wonderful about sexual freedom that it has priority over the life of another? What is so great about the Self that it should be exalted above our neighbours, even the neighbours most dependent on ourselves?

Feminists have most certainly succeeded in making the importance of women felt. What better way to appreciate good health than to lose it? Women also have begun to appreciate the lives that their foremothers have led, as doors are allowed to slam in their faces, and they find men are in no way pressured by society to 'do the decent thing' when they find themselves 'in trouble.' Abortion becomes a more likely alternative for a girl who would rather keep the child, as the legality of abortion absolves a man entirely from his paternal responsibilities, et al. In the rather enjoyable romantic comedy, Leap Year, there comes a moment when the antiromantic couple find themselves in a room with one bed. It is clear that the man has no intention of forfeiting a good night's sleep to the fair sex:

Anna: What? No gallantry? Declan: You lot wanted the vote. So lie with it!

I cannot speak for all my sisters around the world, but in an age where votes mean nothing, because politicians obey the oligarchy of bankers and wealthy special interest groups, I feel a little shystered when I think I traded chivalry for the ballot.

Feminine affirmation is vital to the majority of the male world. Her submission is not simply a pleasant thing, but something he needs in order to accomplish great things. When a younger sister would ask me if I liked her picture, she was just looking for a pleasant compliment. When my little brother asked me the same, he was looking for something much more integral to his being.

Women of the Liberation Movement have often jeered at the dependency of man's ego on woman, holding it up as a defect in that sex and naming it the thing which has driven him to the cruelty of keeping woman down.

There is a twofold fallacy in that argument: first, as I have said earlier, the lack of prevailing feminine genius even in favourable climates has suggested that there was not much for man to oppress to begin with.

Second, for women to speak in such a manner is ironically puerile, and extremely ungenerous. If a man were to lord his physical strength over a woman, and to use it to bully her, would we not call him a barbarian? So if a woman flaunts her certainty of self over a man, belittles him and injures the masculine pride that drives him to excel, what name does she deserve? Like a child who has discovered he has power of life and death over a caged bird, woman has set about dismantling man.

It was good of Lady Godiva to endear the plight of the people to her heart, and not to support her husband in his cruelty. Yet, it was feminine failure in that she could not use his love to turn him towards good, but instead humiliated him with her famed gallop. Queen Esther howver represents the true feminine triumph in that she not only saved her people; she also saved her husband.

In the lovely book and equally exquisite film, Enchanted April, one is presented with a vivid example of how women can save the world by simply waiting and feeling. Two of the four women in this story are unhappy in their loveless marriages, and on first encountering the story, I expected to behold a pleasant romp in Italy which would give the ladies' their second wind and embolden them to start new lives back in England. A bit of a feminist
cliché , but I have to admit the idea had some appeal.

What happens instead is that the women see where
they went wrong in their lives by trying to control their husbands instead of simply loving them. With the Italian sun, the smell of wisteria, and the grandeur of the castle, San Salvadori, to strengthen them, they ask their husbands to share their holiday. When the men arrive, and see the new tenderness and passion evident in their wives, the women accomplish what all the reasoning and begging in the world could never have done; they have brought out the best in their men.

Just as children are never so well brought up as by good mothers, never are men so noble as when women rely on them.

Creative Commons License
The Desires of a Woman's Heart: V by Rachel Rudd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of the power of God, and not of us. In all things we suffer tribulation, but are not distressed; we are straitened, but are not destitute; We suffer persecution, but are not forsaken; we are cast down, but we perish not: Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies. For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake; that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in You. II Corinthians 4: 7-12

He steals softly when He works. That which rubbed our pride raw at the beginning of our journey with Him returns later as balm. How oft do our stiff necks jerk at the yoke, and how our wills do gawk when we discover that the only actions creditable to us are those which are evil. So also do we rebuke the world for persecuting us and complain to God for allowing them this freedom.

Yet, after the dark moment, curse becomes benediction, and with relief we behold Christ using us for His eternal ends. It is a more resplendent fate to be a moon with no light of its own, but reflecting the Greater, than to be a self sufficient glow worm. And if these earthen vessels are scratched and cracked by the wicked, then the Lord has allowed us the grace of a struggle to endure and a story to tell.
Saturday, May 8, 2010

Last year, the Society of Saint Pius X asked all the sons and daughters of Holy Mother Church, including those outside their fraternity, to participate in their third rosary crusade. The first one secured the motu proprio. The Latin Mass was finally liberated, and all the Traditionalists who had argued that it had never been suppressed at all were vindicated.

The second brought about the remission of the excommunications of the Society's bishops. I cannot speak for all my fellow Catholics, but I fell on my knees and wept for joy when I heard the news. Deo gratias! and what came to mind was a verse of that beautiful, 'anti'-ecumenical hymn:

For all Thy Church, O Lord, we intercede;
Make Thou our sad divisions soon to cease;
Draw us the nearer each to each we plead,
By drawing all to Thee, O Prince of Peace;
Thus may we all one bread, one body be, Through this blest Sacrament of Unity

Then Bishop Fellay asked us to pray for a most contentious request: the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart, which I (and many others) have already discussed at length. He asked for 12 million rosaries to compose a spiritual bouquet to present to the Pope. The Pope has received over 19,107,331 blossoms of Mary's Psalter! I say 'over' the tallied number for I know many who forgot to inform the Society of how many rosaries they prayed.

Thus are the efforts of the Crusade! Now, we wait for the fruits....
Thursday, May 6, 2010

When one makes an appeal, he usually invokes the patronage of notions or persons that are reverenced less, and works his way up to greater ones if their influence fails.

For example: I approach my sister, Maggie, for a favour. She pouts for a moment in contemplation and says no. Her other plans prevent it, and they cannot be altered. Oh, but what of the honour of returning the favour I did her? (In the name of reciprocity) No, she shakes her head. This is a bigger favour. For me? (In my own name) She arches her eyebrow, as my life doesn't exactly depend on this deed. Well, we are sisters! (In the name of blood
and the duty of woman to woman) The simultaneously concrete and abstract appeal has no effect. For Pete's sake! (a pathetic euphemism) This gets the response it deserves: Who's Pete anyway? Finally, I invoke charity after the fashion of agape (in the Name of God). Her eyes widen, and she hesitates...

Thus, it is a pity when one cannot begin at the bottom and climb all the way to the top in making a petition. A sibling that does not fear his parents cannot be conjoled with a reference to his mother and father. An atheist will obviously be unmoved by the entreaty: 'For the love of God!'

In Texas, there are apparently some atheists who do not have a positive enough identity to create something of their own, but instead try to tear something religious down. The Austin City Theatre is preparing to show the play
The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, which will portray the Virgin Mary as a Lesbian. Amongst the numerous members of my Church, there will be plenty letters of righteous indignation and moral appeals.

How effective will these be? There is already no fear of the Lord in one who would even conceive such a plot, much less one who would wish to showcase it. I have written my letter of protest, but I can only plea in the name of the highest authority they acknowledge--art.
Below is the letter I sent, and here is their contact infortmation:

The City Theater 3823 Airport Boulevard
Austin Texas 78722-1347 Phone: (512) 524-2870

I encourage all who reverence both Our Lady and the aesthetic to make their displeasure known.

To the "Artists" and Producers at the City Theater:

Well, apparently y'all are having a little trouble with creativity of late, if your only recourse is mockery of revered biblical figures. As people supposedly interested in art, you ought to be ashamed of producing a work that regardless of its acting or its script will be completely overwhelmed by one plot point.

You proclaim the Virgin Mary to be a Lesbian, knowing what an extreme outrage it will be to all who revere her, and we number millions. Is this not a trite little scheme you have undertaken, hoping that our hurt will be your free publicity? Are you all so mediocre in your talents that in desperation you hope at least to arouse the passion of indignation, since you will never achieve ardent admiration? Were it not for the very vileness of what you are doing, I could be moved to pity for you by such a pathetic attempt at creating something compelling.

The little shrine to the Madonna on the street corner of my neighborhood in Warsaw, recently decorated with fresh flowers and lit with votive candles in spite of the rain, is worth more aesthetically than your entire production. The tender affection it elicits will endure even longer than the outrage at your infamous work.

I suppose when one has no caliber to achieve fame, they often turn to infamy to be in the public eye. If a young artist contemplating Michaelangelo's David can't achieve anything of its like, he might gleefully smear it with plaster, relishing the public's outrage, if he can't have their adulation.

So I urge you to actually try creating something rather than attempting to tear down that which will endure long after your flesh has turned to rot. Go to the library or online and gaze at the artwork inspired by Our Lady, and see if you are not humbled by the former talents that have gone before you and have done so much better than you have at giving mankind something beautiful and worthwhile. The beginning of your shame might be the birth of something worthwhile.

Beholden (like you) to His Mercy,
Rachel Rudd

About Me

My Photo
Warsaw, Poland
Domine, spero quia mundum vicisti. Lord, I trust that Thou hast overcome the world. Panie, ufam, żeś pokonał świat.
View my complete profile