“Men have forgotten God”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn giving "the Templeton Address"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn giving “the Templeton Address”

Orthodox Christian author, and Russian dissident, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970. On 10th May 1983, at the ceremony for winning the Templeton Prize, he gave an acceptance speech under the title “Godlessness: the First Step to the Gulag” (that became known as “The Templeton Address”) and was a stirring description of prophetic warnings to the West of the dire consequences that would follow the abandonment of its Christian traditions and heritage. Those like Solzheinitsyn, who had witnessed first-hand the atrocities and terror of communism, understood fully why such evil takes root, how it grows and deceives, and the kind of hell it will ultimately unleash on the innocent and the faithful. Godlessness is always the first step towards tyranny and oppression!

Did the Blessed Virgin Mary not also warn us through the little seers at Fatima in 1917 of the consequences to Mankind if we were to continue to turn away from God?

Regarding atheism, Solzhenitsyn declared:

“More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: MEN HAVE FORGOTTEN GOD.

The failings of human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century.”

The parallels Solzheinitsyn spoke of in 1983, with the current crisis and moral decay in western society today, are striking and frightening. Read the full “Templeton Address” here.

Update: Blessed Cardinal John Newman (1801-1890):  “How can we answer to ourselves for the souls who have in our times lived and died in sin; the souls that have been lost and are now waiting for the judgment, seeing that for what we know, we were ordained to influence or reverse their present destiny and have not done it?”

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“I Allowed Myself to be Duped” – homily for 31st August

Mass: 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Readings: 1st: Jer 20:7-9. Resp: psa 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9. 2nd: Rom 12:1-2. Gsp: Mat 16:21-27

Fr. Joachim reflects on the verse from the first reading in Jeremiah, “I have been duped, and I have let myself be duped”, to understand the difficulties of the spiritual life and how we must unlearn much of what the world has convinced us is so important. We are to change the world by our example not the other way around.

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Homelessness

To God, this is how we all appear. Sobering, isn’t it, that He loves us in spite of our ugliness, filth and unhappiness.

Being a Catholic ultimately means being homeless, at least in this Creation.

We are only really at home in God. During our exile here on Earth, it pays to be kind to the sick and strangers, to be fair in our dealings, to value human life above all things, and to remember where our true home lies.

In God.

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“Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord…” – St. Augustine

“Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.”

St. Ambrose baptising St. Augustine Benozzo Gozzoli (1464-65)

St. Ambrose baptising St. Augustine
Benozzo Gozzoli (1464-65)

Today is the feast day of St. Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo (in modern-day Algeria) and Doctor of the Church. Not only is Augustine considered one of the most intelligent men to ever have lived, but also the most influential among the Early Church Fathers. His writings (of which his most important works are ‘City of God’ and ‘Confessions’) and his numerous sermons, containing a clear vision of theological anthropology, were of enormous importance in the development of Western Christianity.

Augustine had been brought up a Christian, but his sins of impurity and pride had darkened his mind so much, that he could not see or understand the Divine Truth anymore. After many years of leading a dissolute life, resisting each stirring of renewed faith in his heart, his deeply debated discussions with the great St. Ambrose finally broke his resistance. His Baptism was performed by St. Ambrose in Milan in 387. This excerpt from his great work, ‘Confessions’, vividly describes his troubled soul before his conversion:

 “I was greatly disturbed in spirit, angry at myself with a turbulent indignation because I had not entered thy will and covenant, O my God, while all my bones cried out to me to enter, extolling it to the skies. The way therein is not by ships or chariots or feet – indeed it was not as far as I had come from the house to the place where we were seated. For to go along that road and indeed to reach the goal is nothing else but the will to go. But it must be a strong and single will, not staggering and swaying about this way and that – a changeable, twisting, fluctuating will, wrestling with itself while one part falls as another rises…

I was weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when suddenly I heard the voice of a boy or a girl I know not which – coming from the neighbouring house, chanting over and over again, “Pick it up, read it; pick it up, read it.” Immediately I ceased weeping and began most earnestly to think whether it was usual for children in some kind of game to sing such a song, but I could not remember ever having heard the like. So, damming the torrent of my tears, I got to my feet, for I could not but think that this was a divine command to open the Bible and read the first passage I should light upon. …

So I quickly returned to the bench where Alypius was sitting, for there I had put down the apostle’s book [Paul's letter to the Romans] when I had left there. I snatched it up, opened it, and in silence read the paragraph on which my eyes first fell: “Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.”[Romans 13:13] I wanted to read no further, nor did I need to. For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away.”

St. Augustine in his study – Sandro Botticelli (1480)

St. Augustine in his study – Sandro Botticelli (1480)

Augustine’s life changed completely and abruptly after his conversion. He worked tirelessly, with growing fervour against the heresies of his time and to bring all men to the Truth of Christ and the Church.  He was made Bishop of Hippo and was greatly loved and sought after by his flock to whom he attended with great charity. The great love of God, which burned in his heart, caused him to repent unceasingly of the iniquities of his past life. He therefore often exclaimed with a sorrowful heart: “Too late have I known thee; too late have I loved thee, thou Beauty ever ancient, and ever new! O unhappy time in which I did not love thee!” This repentance continued until his death, which took place in his 76th year. 

“Great art thou, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is thy power, and infinite is thy wisdom. And man desires to praise thee, for he is a part of thy creation; he bears his mortality about with him and carries the evidence of his sin and the proof that thou dost resist the proud. Still he desires to praise thee, this man who is only a small part of thy creation. Thou hast prompted him, that he should delight to praise thee, for thou hast made us for thyself and restless is our heart until it comes to rest in thee. Grant me, O Lord, to know and understand whether first to invoke thee or to praise thee; whether first to know thee or call upon thee. But who can invoke thee, knowing thee not? For he who knows thee not may invoke thee as another than thou art. It may be that we should invoke thee in order that we may come to know thee. But “how shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe without a preacher?”Now, “they shall praise the Lord who seek him,” for “those who seek shall find him,” and, finding him, shall praise him. I will seek thee, O Lord, and call upon thee. I call upon thee, O Lord, in my faith which thou hast given me, which thou hast inspired in me through the humanity of thy Son, and through the ministry of thy preacher.”

With his hope set on his Heavenly home, and despite the turbulent troubled times he lived through during his final years, he was able to say:

“I look forward, not to what lies ahead of me in this life and will surely pass away, but to my eternal goal. I am intent upon this one purpose, not distracted by other aims, and with this goal in view I press on, eager for the prize, God’s heavenly summons. Then I shall listen to the sound of Your praises and gaze at Your beauty ever present, never future, never past. But now my years are but sighs. You, O Lord, are my only solace. You, my Father, are eternal. But I am divided between time gone by and time to come, and its course is a mystery to me. My thoughts, the intimate life of my soul, are torn this way and that in the havoc of change. And so it will be until I am purified and melted by the fire of Your love and fused into one with You.”

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Jewish leader blasts indifference to persecuted Christians

  A young refugee rests after having fled from ISIS and arrived in Ankawa in the northern part of Erbil, Iraq. Credit: www.ankawa.com.

A young refugee rests after having fled from ISIS and arrived in Ankawa in the northern part of Erbil, Iraq. Credit: http://www.ankawa.com.

From http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/

New York City, N.Y., Aug 26, 2014 / 12:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The leader of the World Jewish Congress slammed global apathy to persecution of Christians in the Middle East and other parts of the world, saying more countries should be moved to action.

“The general indifference to ISIS, with its mass executions of Christians and its deadly preoccupation with Israel, isn’t just wrong; it’s obscene,” wrote Ronald S. Lauder in an Aug. 19 New York Times editorial.

“The Jewish people understand all too well what can happen when the world is silent,” he said. “This campaign of death must be stopped.”

Lauder stated that while the international community has rallied to defend the persecution of other minorities in other conflicts, as well as to protest Israel’s attacks against Hamas when the organization is known to be using civilians as human shields, “the barbarous slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Christians is met with relative indifference.”

Noting a range of offenses against “Christian communities that have lived in peace for centuries” in the Middle East and parts of Africa, he decried a lack of action.

Lauder also noted that recently, militant groups in Nigeria have “kidnapped and killed hundreds of Christians” in Nigeria, and that half a million “Christian Arabs have been driven out of Syria during the three-plus years of civil war there,” and have faced persecution and murder in Lebanon, Sudan and elsewhere.

Read more here

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Woman and the Miracle of Creation

kathleen:

Thank you for this outstanding article. Reblogging it on CP&S

Byzantine icon - "Our Lady of the Sign"

Byzantine icon – “Our Lady of the Sign”

Originally posted on Journey Towards Easter:

It is a miracle, indeed the first and greatest of all miracles, that any of us are alive, or that anything exists at all. Existence is a mysterious thing, and we only have to seriously reflect on non-existence to affirm life’s tremendous gratuity and the marvellous nature of being. Furthermore, we humans do not only exist, but are living beings, and, above other living beings, have the ability to reflect upon our existence, to consider these questions and weigh up what it might all mean – we are conscious beings, a part of existence which can consider what existence means. While living beings have a special place within creation though, and human beings a unique place amongst living beings, woman has an even more exalted place still.

In an article from The Imaginative Conservative, Peter Strzelecki Reith, writing about Stanislaw Lem’s novel Solaris, considers towards the end of…

View original 1,510 more words

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Simple Wisdom

‘The power of evil men lives on the cowardice of the good.’

St. John Bosco

 

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Urgent Iraq Update – a newsletter from ACN

“There is still hope for the Christians in Iraq, but only if we act now”

Refugees gathering at Erbil's Syriac-Catholic Mrtshmony Shrine.

Refugees gathering at Erbil’s Syriac-Catholic Mrtshmony Shrine.

My dear friend

Thank you for all your prayers – for all you are doing for our brothers and sisters in the midst of their terrible plight and suffering. We are simply a channel for your love and for the compassion of all our friends in Christ.

We are receiving constant updates from Iraq – and a small team from Aid to the Church in Need has been in northern Iraq, at the invitation of the Patriarch of Babylon.

Please view the short video filmed by my colleague, Maria, a few days ago in northern Iraq. You will find an important message from the Chaldean Patriarch, Archbishop Louis Raphael Sako, who added: “There is still hope for the Christians in Iraq, but only if we act now.”

Thank you for showing solidarity with the region’s suffering Christians and all the refugees, many of whom are surviving in primitive conditions. There are now more than 100,000 displaced Christians – thousands taking refuge in Ankawa, the Christian quarter of Erbil, and the villages north of Dohuk and Zakho.

Returning from Iraq, the International President of Aid to the Church in Need, Baron Johannes Heereman, made a plea calling on the world’s governments to act immediately to keep Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq: “If we do not want to be silent witnesses to the last chapter of the history of Christendom in Iraq, the international community must respond decisively now. This cannot remain simply the concern of the Church in Iraq. The destruction is now reaching the scale of a disaster of civilisation. One can certainly speak of an impending genocide. The situation is dramatic. We met bishops, priests, nuns and volunteers who are working day and night to provide elementary aid. Temperatures are around 44 degrees [Celsius]. The people need a roof over their heads and medical care. There is still much to be done.” (See here for full story.)

ACN has provided more than a quarter of a million US dollars (£160,000) for the Church’s emergency aid in the country.

When I met Iraqi refugees who had fled from Mosul to Lebanon, just a few weeks ago, I learnt of their terror and fear for family and friends left behind. Yet, the Sisters caring for the refugees emphasised that your prayers and abundant kindness are appreciated more than you will ever know – and you too are remembered in their prayers and at Mass.

St Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12:12 & 26: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptised into one body…” and “If one member suffers, all suffer together…”

This is the reality of our common humanity and of our faith – and we cannot cut ourselves off from the needs of others. For as St Paul says in his next most famous of chapters – 1 Corinthians 13: “Love bears all things…hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

And your love reaches out across the world to those who are persecuted, oppressed and suffering at this time. Thank you.

May God bless you and sustain you in faith, hope and charity –

Neville Kyrke-Smith

National Director, Aid to the Church in Need UK

“We do not want to be silent witnesses to the last chapter of the history of Christendom in Iraq… “

International President of Aid to the Church in Need

For more information go to
acnuk.org/iraqcrisis

Pray our ‘Prayer for Peace in Iraq’ prayer with us

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Confidence

‘We must know how to confide. There is the fear of God and the fear of a Judas. Too much fear makes one labour without love, and too much confidence prevents from considering the danger which we must overcome.’

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

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Desolation

I have a theory I would like to run past you:

I think that any sad, soulful love song can be read as the prayer of a soul bereaved from God in desolation.

Our relationship with God is so deep, and so risky, that it resembles romantic sexual love, with humankind as the woman. The Song of Songs and other scriptures support this idea.

With this in mind, I offer you this music video, which I consider to be a masterpiece of its genre. Please note how it is hauntingly shot in one piece, (on West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles) featuring Shara Nelson on vocals and music by Massive Attack. The track is called “Unfinished Sympathy”.

Don’t watch it if this sort of modern, profane material upsets you. Here are the lyrics:

I know that I’ve been mad in love before
And how it could be with you
Really hurt me baby, really cut me baby
How can you have a day without a night
You’re the book that I have opened
And now I’ve got to know much more

The curiousness of your potential kiss
Has got my mind and body aching
Really hurt me baby, really cut me baby
How can you have a day without a night
You’re the book that I have opened
And now I’ve got to know much more

Like a soul without a mind
In a body without a heart
I’m missing every part

 

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Real Beauty Is Un-Self-Conscious

In our media sodden culture, we are assaulted with other people’s perverted versions of beauty, be they supermodels, houses, cars, phones or whatever. Very attractive and false they are too. I spend an inordinate amount of consciousness seeing through the illusion

When one has the eyes to see, a lily of the field or even a dung beetle is more worthy than the most highly fashioned celebrated beauty,  jewellery, Ferrari or the finery of Kings and Queens.

As regards one’s own beauty, then one must follow the rule of un-self-consciousness. Leave your beauty to God, its author, and don’t for any reason thwart it!

There is as much beauty in youthful vigour as there is in elder’s grey hairs.

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Lectio Divina: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Our Lord handing the keys to St Peter (Detail) Pietro Perugino

A Question Regarding Christ and the Church

Paris, August 24, 2014 (Zenit.org)

1) Life must answer. Who is Christ?

This question, which is always present and that cannot be eliminated, is addressed to the world, to the disciples and today to us.

The world, that is the people, responds in the best of cases that the Messiah is a prophet, God’s voice and breathing. It is a good response but it is wrong, especially since Jesus is not reducible to one of the religious leaders who have said and done great things or carried into the world an interesting and profound message. The answer cannot cover only the historical existence of Christ, his work and his teaching. Continue reading

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The Crosses of the Camino

The crosses of sore heels, heat, a heavy backpack, full albergues, and not enough water were all forgotten the moment we arrived at the magnificent cathedral. There, in the dawn light, I knelt in thanksgiving on the stones in front of the Cathedral’s square and gave thanks to Christ and St. James for bringing me safely to my destination.

In July just past, Tim Drake, a former journalist with the National Catholic Register, undertook the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela along the Camino Francés. At least enough of the Camino to earn himself a “compostela”, a certificate attesting that he had performed the pilgrimage.

He was of course no slacker, but only had two weeks of leave, whereas completing the whole of the 500 mile Camino Francés would have taken around 33 days. Commendably resisting the obvious temptations of Moratinos (so often and so amply described in these pages) in the adjacent province of Palencia , he commenced his peregrination from the town of Astorga in León province, only about one and a half hours’ drive from the former-named famed trading post.

After checking out the “new” 15th century Cathedral and late 19th century Gaudi-designed bishop’s palace (now a museum of religious art), Mr Drake took his first steps on the way towards Compostela, 175 miles away, in the height of the Spanish summer. He arrived in Compostela on the eve of St James’ feast day, a public holiday in the Galician region of Spain.

He refers often to crosses in this memoir of his walk only a month ago, crosses of both the physical and spiritual kinds. And there’s many an observation he makes following his prayers and meditations along the long route. A very profitable and good read, just the sort of thing for a Sunday, I think, like in the old days, instead of just reading stuff on the Internet!

From Catholic Pulse on 19 August 2014, by Tim Drake.

_____________________________________________________________

When a friend invited me to join him for a two-week pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) in Spain this summer, I expected that there would be trials. What I didn’t expect was how grueling the pilgrimage would be. Nor did I expect the many consolations God provided along the way.  These experiences led me to realize that the only thing you can expect along the Camino is the unexpected.

We began on the afternoon of July 13, after a tour of Astorga’s cathedral and the Episcopal Palace begun by the famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. We said a prayer to St. James and started walking.

Our first discovery was the yellow arrows painted on the cobblestone streets to guide pilgrims. Continue reading

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Blogging as Catholic Action

I love this Pope. He looks so careworn, and world-weary, like a Saint should.

From the Jackie Parkes blog:

ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS X ON CATHOLIC ACTION IN ITALY
JUNE 11, 1905

The field of Catholic Action is extremely vast. In itself it does not exclude anything, in any manner, direct or indirect, which pertains to the divine mission of the Church. Accordingly one can plainly see how necessary it is for everyone to cooperate in such an important work, not only for the sanctification of his own soul, but also for the extension and increase of the Kingdom of God in individuals, families, and society; each one working according to his energy for the good of his neighbor by the propagation of revealed truth, by the exercise of Christian virtues, by the exercise of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Such is the conduct worthy of God to which Saint Paul exhorts us, so as to please Him in all things, bringing forth fruits of all good works, and increasing in the knowledge of God. “May you walk worthily of God and please him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.”[3]

11. Above all, one must be firmly convinced that the instrument is of little value if it is not adapted to the work at hand. In regard to the things We mentioned above, Catholic Action, inasmuch as it proposes to restore all things in Christ, constitutes a real apostolate for the honor and glory of Christ Himself. To carry it out right one must have divine grace, and the apostle receives it only if he is united to Christ. Only when he has formed Jesus Christ in himself shall he more easily be able to restore Him to the family and society. Therefore, all who are called upon to direct or dedicate themselves to the Catholic cause, must be sound Catholics, firm in faith, solidly instructed in religious matters, truly submissive to the Church and especially to this supreme Apostolic See and the Vicar of Jesus Christ. They must be men of real piety, of manly virtue, and of a life so chaste and fearless that they will be a guiding example to all others. If they are not so formed it will be difficult to arouse others to do good and practically impossible to act with a good intention. The strength needed to persevere in continually bearing the weariness of every true apostolate will fail. The calumnies of enemies, the coldness and frightfully little cooperation of even good men, sometimes even the jealousy of friends and fellow workers (excusable, undoubtedly, on account of the weakness of human nature, but also harmful and a cause of discord, offense and quarrels) — all these will weaken the apostle who lacks divine grace. Only virtue, patient and firm and at the same time mild and tender, can remove or diminish these difficulties in such a way that the works undertaken by Catholic forces will not be compromised. The will of God, Saint Peter wrote the early Christians, is that by your good works you silence the foolish. “For such is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.”[6]

Source here – See more at: http://www.jackieparkes.com

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Sin And Mankind

From Professor Charmley’s blog:

 To consider the world in its length and breadth, its various history, the many races of man, their starts, their fortunes, their mutual alienation, their conflicts; and then their ways, habits, governments, forms of worship; their enterprises, their aimless courses, their random achievements and acquirements, the impotent conclusion of long-standing facts, the tokens so faint and broken of a superintending design, the blind evolution of what turn out to be great powers or truths, the progress of things, as if from unreasoning elements, not towards final causes, the greatness and littleness of man, his far-reaching aims, his short duration, the curtain hung over his futurity, the disappointments of life, the defeat of good, the success of evil, physical pain, mental anguish, the prevalence and intensity of sin, the pervading idolatries, the corruptions, the dreary hopeless irreligion, that condition of the whole race, so fearfully yet exactly described in the Apostle’s words, “having no hope and without God in the world,”—all this is a vision to dizzy and appal; and inflicts upon the mind the sense of a profound mystery, which is absolutely beyond human solution.

What shall be said to this heart-piercing, reason-bewildering fact? I can only answer, that either there is no Creator, or this living society of men is in a true sense discarded from His presence. Did I see a boy of good make and mind, with the tokens on him of a refined nature, cast upon the world without provision, unable to say whence he came, his birthplace or his family connexions, I should conclude that there was some mystery connected with his history, and that he was one, of whom, from one cause or other, his parents were ashamed. Thus only should I be able to account for the contrast between the promise and the condition of his being. And so I argue about the world;—if there be a God, since there is a God, the human race is implicated in some terrible aboriginal calamity. It is out of joint with the purposes of its Creator. This is a fact, a fact as true as the fact of its existence; and thus the doctrine of what is theologically called original sin becomes to me almost as certain as that the world exists, and as the existence of God.

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