The Hourglass of Life

Fourth century Christian burial depicted in relief at the Shrine of San Vittore in ciel d'oro, Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio, Milan.

Fourth century Christian burial depicted in relief at the Shrine of San Vittore in ciel d’oro, Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, Milan.

“Like an hourglass with a certain number of grains of sand within it, God has appointed your life to last only a certain number of days, and you have absolutely no idea how many there are. … In God’s presence, consider: I have no idea when my life will end. All I know is that death will come for me eventually. Am I doing anything to prepare for the real possibility that God may call me, sooner rather than later? If he called me into eternity today, would I be ready?” — Patrick Madrid

Many of us would quite likely respond in the negative to this last question, and yet there’s nothing more certain than that we shall die! We should all be asking ourselves: ‘how much time do I have left to make up for so much wasted time, and to store up treasure in Heaven instead of on Earth?’

In one of his sermons Blessed John Henry Newman warns us:

“Each of us must come to the evening of life. Each of us must enter on eternity.  Each of us must come to that quiet, awful time, when we will appear before the Lord of the vineyard, and answer for the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or bad. That, my dear brethren, you will have to undergo. … It will be the dread moment of expectation when your fate for eternity is in the balance, and when you are about to be sent forth as the companion of either saints or devils, without possibility of change. There can be no change; there can be no reversal. As that judgment decides it, so it will be for ever and ever. Such is the particular judgment. … when we find ourselves by ourselves, one by one, in his presence, and have brought before us most vividly all the thoughts, words, and deeds of this past life. Who will be able to bear the sight of himself? And yet we shall be obliged steadily to confront ourselves and to see ourselves. In this life we shrink from knowing our real selves. We do not like to know how sinful we are. We love those who prophecy smooth things to us, and we are angry with those who tell us of our faults. But on that day, not one fault only, but all the secret, as well as evident, defects of our character will be clearly brought out. We shall see what we feared to see here, and much more. And then, when the full sight of ourselves comes to us, who will not wish that he had known more of himself here, rather than leaving it for the inevitable day to reveal it all to him!”

What great truth these words hold! And yet with our fallen natures, how hard we find it to reach the holiness we are called to, and which we so desire to achieve in the most innermost part of our heart.

The wise and holy Father Willie Doyle wrote in his diary: “I am convinced that generally we reach sanctity of life only through a long series of falls from which we get up.”  That is the important thing – getting up again after every fall, never allowing the devil to lead us to despair at our weakness.

In fact St Paul even says we should ‘delight’ when we recognise how weak and inconstant we truly are, in the insults, hardships etc. that befall us, for then we must rely only on Gods grace to strengthen and protect us from evil, rather than our prideful selves. This is the secret of the joy that radiates from all saintly souls, often amidst great physical or emotional suffering; they live enveloped in the Holy Presence of God “from Whom cometh my strength”. They got up from their falls; they did not waste time in scruples or lamenting their backsliding, for time was running out down here on earth; with a firm purpose of amendment and a burning desire to love and obey God alone, they had their eyes fixed on Eternity. We should do the same.

St Francis de Sales encourages us with these words: “We shall steer safely through every storm, so long as our heart is right, our intention fervent,our courage steadfast, and our trust fixed solely on God.”

lwjas0204So let us pick up our daily crosses (including those frustrations we suffer at our frequent failings) and follow in the ‘footsteps’ of Our Divine Saviour on His journey to Calvary. For Calvary will lead us to Easter at the end of the road where, one day, when our “hourglass” has run out, and through the Goodness and Mercy of God, we shall be partakers in Christ’s triumph over death, as He has promised us.

Saint Joseph, holy patron of the dying, pray for us!

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90 Responses to The Hourglass of Life

  1. mmvc says:

    Thank you, Kathleen, for this beautiful and salutary reflection on the last things.
    When I got to the end, the words with which Fr Z so often concludes his posts sprung to mind:
    “Go to confession!”

  2. Michael says:

    A beautiful reflection indeed, and very useful. The latter seems such a run-of-the-mill word to apply to something dealing with such important matters, but it does convey the fact that the words above resonate with me to such a great extent that they move me to want to actually do something – to shift my perspective and change my habits. Thank you.

    I particularly loved those words of Cardinal Newman’s, which can be applied to so many a situation in today’s world, where true kindness is deemed to be telling people they are fine just as they are and have no need of facing the reality about the destructive nature of a great many paths out there. However, they are also words that foremost must be addressed to our own selves, which is the way Newman writes them, and the reason they strike so deeply:

    In this life we shrink from knowing our real selves. We do not like to know how sinful we are. We love those who prophecy smooth things to us, and we are angry with those who tell us of our faults. But on that day, not one fault only, but all the secret, as well as evident, defects of our character will be clearly brought out.

    How very true these words are, and liberating to hear; yet how distasteful is it to us to be reminded of these same facts by our conscience or by those who care about us, when in the midst of some favourite occupation which, deep down, we know to be to our detriment!

  3. Yes, a VERY good meditation!

  4. toadspittle says:

    “It will be the dread moment of expectation when your fate for eternity is in the balance, and when you are about to be sent forth as the companion of either saints or devils, without possibility of change. There can be no change; there can be no reversal. As that judgment decides it, so it will be for ever and ever.”
    Hardly a very loving, forgiving, and Christian attitude… [the rest of this inappropriate sentence has been deleted by a moderator]

    But what do I know?

  5. toadspittle says:

    Yes, this is bit of a thorny topic, isn’t it? What is the least sin that will ensure us eternal and hideous punishment? Apparently, it only requires one. Deliberately missing Mass on Sunday? Or what?
    As a youngster in London, I was told it was a mortal sin to do my paper round on Sundays. (Servile work.) An American friend (not Robert John's one) said eating meat on Fridays spelled damnation in Ohio, when he was a boy . Can any of this be true? Surely not?
    Are we only ever "good," because we don't want to go to hell? Well, that makes sense. Of a sort.
    Naturally, I bitterly repent my wicked paper round now. So that's all right.

  6. kathleen says:

    @ mmvc

    When I got to the end, the words with which Fr Z so often concludes his posts sprung to mind:
    “Go to confession!”

    It does indeed, dear Maryla… I should definitely have mentioned that in the article! Recourse to this wonderful sacrament (with true sorrow for our sins, and a firm purpose of amendment), and its outpouring of purifying grace in absolution, is what keeps us going forward with renewed courage.🙂

    Are you listening, Toad?

  7. kathleen says:

    @ Michael

    Thank you – and I am really happy that you found the words of the erudite Cardinal Newman helpful. He is such a profoundly understanding saint of the human condition and how to guide souls back to Christ, as you describe so well in your comment. It is no wonder our dear Pope Benedict XVI so greatly admired his writings.

    There is much more one could write about the brevity of life and “The Four Last Things”; I did no more than touch on the subject here. Yet it is so often seen as depressing and negative to talk of death – sometimes even among Catholics too – as we cling to life on earth and all its comforts and pleasures! We know it is foolish to do so, and that death is no more than the gateway to Eternity, and yet we do so all the same.
    Lent is a good time to face reality: we are walking towards our earthly death with every day that passes!

  8. bamacnz says:

    Some years ago in Sydney NSW there was a man who used to paint the word “Eternity” in paint on footpaths in various parts of the city …. probably that would not have meant anything to some people but it was a reminder to quite a number of us .
    Thank you for this post Kathleen … I used to have ‘eternity on a card I my missal ( oh for the days of the wonderful Latin Mass!) am now going to put it beside my computer and maybe in a couple of other places around home as well . When was the last time anyone here heard mention of death, Judgement , Heaven or Hell in a homily at Holy Mass
    One would think that they no longer exist but they certainly do, don’t they .
    God Bless

  9. johnhenrycn says:

    A sign on a highway near me advertises cemetery plots: Welcome to Eternity.

  10. toadspittle says:

    http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2016/02/11/Einstein-vindicated-Scientists-find-gravitational-waves/3191455205953/
    “Proving” that eternity is, in fact – wavy, not straight. So that’s a relief.
    Interesting also, (or so I suggest) in view of this item’s title – is that the mathematical symbol for eternity…
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinity_symbol
    ….is an hourglass on its side.

  11. kathleen says:

    bamacnz @ 23:08 on 27th Feb.

    Thank you for your kind comment that included such a lovely anecdote about the ‘eternity card’ you keep in your missal. The “wonderful Latin Mass” is celebrated again today in many churches and chapels, but not all of us are fortunate enough to have easy access to it.

    Re the existence of Four Last Things (“they certainly do, don’t they“) – they most certainly do, and those who choose to deny this are poor fools who are deceiving themselves.

    Our Blessed Lord said to St. Teresa in a vision: “No one is lost without knowing it; and no one is deceived without wishing to be deceived.”

  12. Pingback: The Hourglass of Life – sanctusdominusdeus

  13. toadspittle says:

    “No one is lost without knowing it; and no one is deceived without wishing to be deceived.”
    Have you never been deceived, and then upset by it when you found out, Kathleen? You are fortunate.
    Do I think I’m “lost”? No. But maybe I am – and just don’t know it.
    Are Muslims, Mormons, and Methodists “lost without knowing it”?
    What do we think? That they aren’t lost? Then what?

  14. Michael says:

    Kathleen @ 22:39, February 26th:

    Yes, he is indeed! And though I know I’ve linked to this site before, I must re-recommend the Newman Lectures daily reflections:

    http://www.newmanlectures.co.uk/writing

    as the last few days have featured some really excellent passages on penitence and the need for self-denial. As you say, Lent is a good time to face reality – it’s amazing how much one learns about oneself each year just by applying a few extra limitations and striving to iron out only a couple of vices. Much failure endured, much self-knowledge gained!

  15. bamacnz says:

    Michael,

    Bless you for that link …. there looks to be so much food for thought ,self examination and prayer …on my bookmark list for sure … thank you .

    Dear Toadspittle,

    Some time back now, on another site , I read some of your comments , they were much the same as your ones here… , ever since then you have been in my prayers,

    God Bless

  16. toadspittle says:

    “(Toadspittle), Some time back now, on another site , I read some of your comments , they were much the same as your ones here… ,”
    No doubt they were, Bamacnz. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” .as the man says. And few minds are littler than Toad’s.
    Your comments here on CP&S, are vastly different to those you make elsewhere, are they?

  17. bamacnz says:

    No Toad , there is no difference in anything I comment on then or now …. I have always enjoyed your comments for they have made ( and still do) make me think about why I so often disagree with yours … at times though a saying comes into my rather elderly mind ” me thinketh he doth protest too much” .. I have thought Toad might have a doubt or two that other commenters here just might be right … at least that is what is in my small mind ! You are still in my prayers though whatever….
    God Bless

  18. Michael says:

    Bamacnz @ 22:50, February 29th:

    Very glad you enjoyed the link!🙂 Newman’s writings were so voluminous and so consistently insightful (as well as often deeply challenging), that the daily reflections there are always a great help to me personally.

  19. toadspittle says:

    Toad is a seething mass of doubt. How not, in these doubtful days?
    …And he’d be mildly surprised if his mind was not more elderly than Bamacnz’s.
    (physiclly, anyway.)

  20. kathleen says:

    Toad @ 20:34 yesterday

    It is just amazing how you get the wrong of the stick every single time…. or are you just pretending to do so, for the kicks it gives you in hoping (in vain) to see us squirm in annoyance?
    But bamacnz is quite right; we are all over-familiar with your broken record commenting tactics, and your taunts are no more than water off a duck’s back, ‘fraid to say.

    “No one is lost without knowing it; and no one is deceived without wishing to be deceived.”

    Man, who has been endowed with an immortal soul and Free Will, has an inbuilt knowledge of the existence of God, and of Good vs. Evil, whatever his religion or lack of it.
    St Teresa was clearly referring to those who are “lost” to Eternity in Heaven – our true home – having allowed themselves to be “deceived” by the Evil One to avoid the “small and narrow gate”, and to take instead the easy, prideful, self-indulgent “wide and broad gate” (Matthew 7:13-14) that eventually has no other destination but Hell!*

    Or are even these metaphors beyond the understanding your self-confessed “little mind”?😉

    * This is why it is of such vital importance to avoid this “gate” of alluring seductions ourselves, and to pray and make sacrifices constantly for those who are going this way, that they may repent and turn their lives around before their “hourglass” runs out.

  21. toadspittle says:

    “Or are even these metaphors beyond the understanding your self-confessed “little mind”?😉
    Yes, I suppose they must be, Kathleen. Metaphors can often be interpreted in several ways. .That’s why they are metaphors, not smilies.
    Still, Bamacnz, says I made her think. That’s something, at least. Gives me a bit of heart.

  22. bamacnz says:

    Toadspittle,
    No one here denies that you have a heart , a big one in many ways I am sure .I can’t help feeling that your continued presence and time spent on Catholic blogs shows this old girl that you are here for more than just a good argument …. as Kathleen said, Faith is a God given gift … it is not something that we can study or research until we say ” Ah, that is what it is all about ! “.. a gift that I thank God for and for which I pray for the gift of perseverance in non stop ….
    Toad, I know that had God let me lose the gift of Faith ( as you tell us happened to you ) then I hope that I might have had the gumption to do what you are doing here and elsewhere … to keep on trying to shut up the niggle deep in my thoughts and heart , that maybe I didn’t understand the depth , reality and truth that is indeed in the Catholic Faith , that there is really something there that might just give true meaning and peace ( not peace in this crazy world of ours but peace with in our selves)
    That is what I pray will happen for you too Toad , you are in my prayers every day.

    God Bless

  23. toadspittle says:

    You are infinitely more kind and compassionate than I deserve, , Bamacnz.
    Toad is in remarkably many people’s prayers – including entire convents-full of Spanish nuns,* and pilgrims by the hundred. Can’t possibly hurt!

    * Sadly-depleted numbers in them, though.

  24. bamacnz says:

    Toad,
    God is infinitely more compassionate and patient than any of us could ever be ( or even dream of being, come to that ) for He loves every one of us individually and unconditionally to a degree that we could never fathom … He also works to His own time-table as I have found during
    my 80 odd years …. ( still battle with my vast amount of impatience )
    With all those prayers being offered for you I feel sure that one day God will trip you up by your metaphorical boot laces and lead you back home in His own way .
    One request dear Toad … please say a prayer for me…. ..

    . God Bless,

  25. kathleen says:

    @ bamacnz

    Thank you for all your kind and patient comments towards Toad.
    He must be greatly relieved to get a break from my impatient nagging!😉
    I hope he really does take your good advice and encouragement to heart.

  26. toadspittle says:

    “…for He loves every one of us individually and unconditionally to a degree that we could never fathom …” …and yet He is, so we are told, prepared to “stand aside,” while millions of us burn in a Hell He has prepared for us – for eternity. That’s where I lose the plot.

  27. bamacnz says:

    Toad ,
    God did not create Hell for all of us but for those of us who choose to use the free will that He gave us ,( a free will which He respects by not forcing us to obey ) thus sending themselves there by knowingly going against the way of life He showed us ,and talked about and gave us the example of ,while He was on earth ( the earth that He gave us out of love, a world that we seem set to mess up in so many ways )
    In the Garden of Gethsemane , we are told that He greatly suffered when He foresaw how so many would indeed send themselves to Hell despite all that He was to suffer for the salvation of all souls … you feel that he just “stands aside”?…. and yet He will lovingly forgive each and every one of us when we turn to Him with sorry for our sins and a purpose of amendment …. how much God loves us freely and unconditionally ! Not one off us ,I guess, likes to think too much about Hell itself or the souls suffering there, but that doesn’t mean in any way that it doesn’t exist…..how much we must all pray , not only for the sake of our own souls but also for the sake of others both known and unknown to us personally …..isn’t that why we call Him Our Savior?
    God Bless

  28. toadspittle says:

    Would you allow your worst enemy to go to hell, Bamacnz, if you could prevent it? I wouldn’t.
    How do you square Hell with, “Father, forgive them – they know not what they do?” How do you justify a human situation where there is no chance of a realisation or change of heart – because you have been judged, and damned and that’s that – for eternity.
    No time off for repentance or good behaviour?
    In short, How can anyone finite know enough to make the decision to go to hell for infinity? Senseless.

    However, somewhere, on CP&S yesterday (unfortunately I can’t now locate her comment) – Kathleen advised me to read “The Penny Catechism.”
    Right. I have put Pascal to one side. Here goes.
    1: Who made you?
    Good, simple, question – with a good, simple answer:
    God made me.”
    So far, so good. But the follow-up question must then logically be, “How do you know that?” or, “What evidence do you have to support that rather sweeping assertion?”

    …But it isn’t. So we have already descended into logical farce. But never mind.

    Question Two actually is, “Why did God make you?”
    and the answer:
    “To know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this world – and be happy with Him forever in the next.
    Two critical points here. How can we achieve all that knowing, loving and serving if:
    1: We die within, seconds, minutes, or hours – of being born, …or,
    2: We are born, live, and die in a time and place where the words “Jesus Christ,” have never once been either heard or spoken, let alone comprehended. As is the case with billions of people.

    Once we have cleared up those insignificant little points, we can move smoothly onto question there.
    …But not before.

  29. toadspittle says:

    “Toad, God did not create Hell for all of us but for those of us who choose to use the free will that He gave us ,( a free will which He respects by not forcing us to obey ) “
    OK – Let’s try the following plausible scenario, Bamacnz.
    Supposing you knew that someone (a friend, say) was planning to do something terrible, say commit suicide. You would do all in your power to prevent them, would you not? Even to the point of forcing them to obey – by taking away their “Free’Will” and confining them, if necessary. So would I. You wouldn’t say, “I respect your option to exercise your God-given free will, so I won’t stand in your way.” If you did, it would be the action of an unfeeling monster. And that’s what you, and CP&S, tells me God frequently does.
    And I just don’t believe He does. Can you see why?
    What are we to make of any God that could dream up a place like Hell, anyway? I don’t believe He did.

  30. bamacnz says:

    Toad,
    Have just read you reply and very much want to reply in my turn but it is late at night …. 10. 20 is late for this old girl …. will respond in the morning , ( am not sure what the time might be where you are ‘)
    God Bless

  31. Michael says:

    The word ‘logic’ has been bandied about here a lot recently, and used in contexts that might lead one to wonder whether those using it even know what it means, let alone whether they are the Sword of Common Sense Shining Amidst Religious Darkness they seem to think they are (extraordinary really, given past history, but there we go). I have no wish to get back onto that interminable merry-go-round again, knowing full well that the employment of actual logic* (or appeal to various forms of evidence) has little to no effect.

    However, the following links, which even now I hold a tiny, tiny glimmer of hope may actually be read, may prove useful:

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/analogy-medieval/

    Otherwise, if all the explanations supplied to the regular round of questions are still not convincing to our resident Paragon of Reason, then I suggest not asking the same questions to which you know precisely what the answer(s) will be, and which you know you won’t, for whatever reasons, find are able to change your mind. Genuine questions asked with an open mind and heart are not a waste of time, but to ask the same ones over and over again when you know precisely what the outcome will be, very much is.

    *Contra the bizarre, self-refuting, hyper-sceptical, positivist version everyone here is so familiar with.

  32. Robert says:

    Toad
    What is Hell? Answer is Eternal exclusion from Heaven.
    Heaven is Love and Light for Eternity. Hell is Hatred and Darkness for Eternity.

    God breathed into Adam an Eternal Soul, or Lord expressly breathed on His disciples in the same way! The Our Father! God is Our Father Our Creator our Eternal Soul. God is Light and Life, Eternal Life. But in Man’s Free Will this Light can be extinguished by a false Light (Lucifer means Light now renamed Satan). This is Eternal Death and the wages of Sin are Death.
    Original Sin (Sin means Death!) placed Man under the tyranny of Satan.

    The Old Testament isn’t a complete history of Man. It evidence’s Gods especial Love for Fallen Man and the Promises to repair and open Heaven again for Adams Sons by a Messiah.

    Elsewhere you complain about the Old Testament, the wars, brutality etc.. WELL THAT WAS THE STATE OF MANKIND UNDER SATANIC RULE!

    These Blind pagan atheists who deny and refuse Christ have again created this global state of War, murder and sin! This false science that came out of the darkness in denial of God has brought with it slavery, beastility, the destruction of nations, the scientific destruction of billions of babies, the destruction of the family all in the name of Enlightenment!
    Evolution? they mean the demonisation of man!

    Fatima shows how Heaven combated this false science and defeated it in Portugal through three children! The Rosary, the sacraments.

    Armageddon? Simply to understand, a world that has thrown off Christ (Prince of Peace) and returned to the Hatred and enslavement of the Demon!
    If you look at what Our Lord said to the disciples about the Last Times you will understand that he spoke of a time when Man through Free Will would reject Salvation and prefer Demonisation.

    Two choices Heaven or Hell. You complain of the Old Testament which was an example of Man under Satan in a Fallen World.

  33. kathleen says:

    Well said, Michael. There is certainly no getting down from Toad’s eternal “merry-go-round”… and besides, merry-go-rounds make me feel positively dizzy!😉
    Besides, our resident amphibian has already told me (on the Fatima thread) that I am no help to him, so could I kindly shut up.

    Sorry about that, Toad, but I did try.😦
    Perhaps these two pertinent links above that Michael gives might knock a better understanding of logic and common sense* into you.

    * Strange how modernists, relativists and agnostics think they are the ones using “common sense” and “logic”, and nobody else!

  34. Michael says:

    Strange how modernists, relativists and agnostics think they are the ones using “common sense” and “logic”, and nobody else!

    Indeed – this is not a new phenomenon, but it does seem to have grown in prominence, thanks to the celebrity status of the ‘New Atheists’, who have convinced a generation of people that straw-man arguments, avoidance of your opponent’s actual points, ignorance of the subject you’re discussing and a firm reluctance to remedy that ignorance or take on board criticism, can be successfully obscured by a ‘we’re smarter than that lot over there’ rhetoric.

    This technique, and its accompanying attitude, whilst shallow in the extreme, does seem to have worked quite well in a lot of cases, and is frustrating on two counts – one, it makes open, productive debate very difficult; secondly, it cultivates an atmosphere of shortsightedness, where people are so convinced of their own rightness, that they don’t bother to properly research and/or engage with the questions of philosophy, history or culture raised by the debates in any breadth or depth (or sometimes not even at all).

    I’d also note that the technique of assuming that one’s own position is so self-evidently superior that any opposing views must be lacking in some way, is a characteristic of leftist politics, wherein differing opinions are either labelled as being something so extreme that the person holding them isn’t worth debating (c.f.; the debates over same-sex marriage) or that one’s interlocutors are routinely written off as naive, ignorant, basically too stupid to be worth bothering with. Either way, the effect is the same – genuine debate is avoided, whilst the semblance of such is given, and so I can convince myself that I have given the other side a ‘fair go’, whilst leaving my own views effectively unchallenged and unchanged.

  35. Michael says:

    P.S. The other legacy of the ‘New Atheist’ school of arguing, which as I say, was not created by them, but has certainly been made vastly more popular, is that when the atheist/relativist/sceptic/etc is debating with a religious believer, they are not only not to admit defeat under any circumstances, but they are not to even cede the reasonableness of any of their opponent’s points at all.

    Noone expects a complete conversion of opinions simply due to being presented with clear arguments and weighty evidence – that would be both presumptuous and to fail to do credit to how much the intellect and the will are bound up with one another, including a variety of motives and desires as well as positions reached by reasoned reflection. But the really frustrating thing is to present what one knows to be a cogent argument and to not have it recognised as being reasonable even in the slightest.

    Again, this is a defence-mechanism, and IMO a sign that the New Atheists (and those who share their assumptions and/or ways of arguing) don’t have quite the amount of confidence in their position that they make out (witness the constant confusion of ‘this isn’t logically convincing’ with ‘I don’t like your conclusions, so I won’t acknowledge any logic in the process of your reasoning’). But it is incredibly frustrating nonetheless.

  36. toadspittle says:

    “* Strange how modernists, relativists and agnostics think they are the ones using “common sense” and “logic”, and nobody else!”
    Crikey! When did Toad ever suggest such a thing? What I’m suggesting is that none of us know very much, myself least of all. Far from “knowing it all” – I hardly know a damn thing.That’s why I’m on here with a string of idiot questions every day.

    And to suggest Kathleen “shut up” Fie! Please not!
    She is a constant source of enlightenment . Long may it be so. I just get snitty at times. Old age.

    The above response is very gratifying/. I’ve got up one or two noses it seems – and others can judge for themselves what’s what – although no attempt whatever has been made to deal with “the actual points,” of my comment to Bamacnz (at 6.24 yesterday). It would have been more constructive had Michael, for one, or Kathleen for two, bothered to do so, instead of going off at an absurd tangent about the use, or abuse, of logic. But both have their reasons, no doubt. Though I must say I’m suitably gobsmacked by Michael’s magnificent exercise in [two very offensive words deleted by a moderator.]
    ” …they (‘New’ Atheists!) are not only not to admit defeat under any circumstances, but they are not to even cede the reasonableness of any of their opponent’s points at all.”
    Well that’s as maybe. I’ll leave that to the ‘New Atheists’ to sort out – but when did any Catholic, worth his or her salt, ever concede the like? Not on CP&S in my lifetime.
    So, I will wait to see what the lovely Bamacnz has to say. She, too, has her reasons.
    And aren’t Robert’s reasons a scream? What a unique treat he is!

    By the way: What did you make of the Catechism comment, Kathleen? Illogical, I suppose.

  37. bamacnz says:

    Michael,
    Maybe you were commenting on my apparent wrongful use of the term or word “logic’ … I am certainly not as academically savvy as you seem to be ( oops !
    maybe my use of “academic ” is also faulty , come to think of it ) If one should be more academic in the way or manner that one expresses themselves here then I apologize and will refrain from future commenting .

    Toad ,
    If Hell does not exist then why did Christ come to earth and die the terrible death He did ? Christ is called our Savior … just what did He save us from if not from Hell …Hell that He spoke so much about . … I can understand where you are coming from …. for a long time some many years back I found it hard to believe that souls could turn their backs to God and , aware of the consequence , go ahead and commit a serious sin and die without ever repenting thus damming themselves ….. Hell was originally created for the rebellious angels who who , in their pride , defied God and were banished from Heaven …I still find the concept of real hatred hard to understand .
    This link , I feel , explains things much better than this simple old girl ever could .

    http://www.catholic.com/tracts/the-hell-there-is

    Do hope it helps a bit dear Toad
    God Bless

  38. bamacnz says:

    Sincere apologies Michael if I took you up the wrong way …..I should have waited longer ….was having one of those mornings !

    God Bless

  39. toadspittle says:

    Dear Bamacnz,
    “If Hell does not exist then why did Christ come to earth and die the terrible death He did ?”
    That’s a very salient point. I will give it as much “deep” thought as I can still muster, as I walk the dogs.
    Don’r worry yourself about your use of logic. Michael was aiming his blunderbuss of windbaggery at poor old Toad. They (and the moderators) love to persecute me. Bless them. Gives their lives a bit of purpose.

  40. bamacnz says:

    Toad,
    Give those dogs of yours a pat from me …. we never have had dogs …. when we lost our last cat we decided that it was time to be ” petless”
    Whilst you are doing all that walking and thinking don’t forget to ask God to help you get to know Him more and more deeply and closely …. I have found that helpful at times when I have had doubts ( specially when I ask Mary , Our Holy Mother, to join her prayers to mine ) and while you are at it … don’t forget that prayer for me …please!
    Good night and
    God Bless

  41. toadspittle says:

    Not only prayers, Bamacnz – but a extra candle this Sunday, personally for you.
    And another, penitential one – in front of San Roque and his dog – for being so utterly beastly recently to my CP&S friends.
    Yes, dogs (and cats) die. New ones wander in. Coping with their deaths is good practice for us.

  42. Michael says:

    Toad,

    If you genuinely don’t think that the way you express yourself here gives the impression that you alone are the voice of reason and sanity, then fair enough, but that is the impression I get, and I find it bizarre given the lack of logic employed in your arguments. Just to give two brief examples from some of the things you’ve written above…

    1. With respect to the Penny Catechism, you imply that the assertion ‘God made me’ is without any real foundation, completely lacking in evidence, and therefore is merely a ‘sweeping assertion’ (as if there were no arguments for God’s existence which might, just might, be behind that statement – it is after all, a catechism, not a textbook on fundamental theology). You then state that at this point things have already descended into ‘logical farce’, despite there being no logical problems with the assertion made in the Catechism.

    What you really mean of course is that the assertion in question is founded upon evidence and arguments that you find unacceptable, because of an a priori commitment to philosophical naturalism and extreme epistemological scepticism. These schools of thought are themselves self-refuting, a point made to you an extraordinary amount of times before, but which you never seem to have taken on board, yet you don’t seem to think that these ‘insignificant little points’ need clearing up before addressing your other questions – the religious believer must have their views subjected to relentless, illogical criticism, but the fundamental bases of your own unbelief are for some reason immune to any critique. Another hallmark of the ‘New Atheist’ school*.

    At any rate, the point is that here, in the very act of criticising a point of view for being illogical and not addressing first principles, you employ the term ‘logic’ incorrectly, instead rejecting a view (illogically) for not being based on your own first principles, which for some reason are felt by you to be a sort of neutral position, immune from criticism.

    2. With respect to the question of hell, you repeatedly appeal to analogies from human life, along the lines of ‘I wouldn’t do this to my neighbour/dog, so why would God do it’. Yet you also repeatedly state that we can’t possibly know anything about God or His nature. If the latter assertion is true, what use is it to make inferences about how He should or shouldn’t behave based on mere human knowledge? It is deeply illogical to do so, based on your very own position regarding human knowledge of the divine.

    Also, if as you say, we cannot possibly know anything about God, His nature or the hereafter, then it is highly illogical to presume that there is no possibility of any one of us going to hell. Whatever emotional response the idea of this happening might engender in you (or anyone else for that matter – I don’t think most people actually like the idea, surprising as that may sound), it is at least possible that hell exists and some people may end up there, and if we have no way of knowing one way or the other, the most logical thing to do would be to hedge one’s bets and live in a way that would preclude one’s ending up there. Then, if hell doesn’t exist, great; but if it does, we can still have confidence of not going there.

    What seems a strange position to take is to not avail oneself of any means of gaining Heaven, and to base that decision on a personal dislike of the idea of hell, especially whilst at the same time admitting we have no idea of whether it exists or not (and so implicitly admitting that there is a distinct possibility that it might).

    As to my answering any of the particular points you’ve made – why on earth should I? I know full well from personal experience that there is no point. You won’t change your mind because of anything I or anyone else says; what reasons you have for holding doggedly to your agnosticism are your own, but please don’t pretend that it is solely because of reason and evidence – I think that the case for God, for the revelation in Our Lord Jesus Christ, and for the claims of the Church that He founded are compelling, but I fully admit that there are no 100% knock-down arguments and at the end of the day we all have personal reasons bound up with what kind of a universe we would like to live in (for the believer, this is, broadly speaking, one that does justice to the meaning we experience in everyday life; for the atheist/agnostic, it is, broadly speaking, one where we are never held accountable, in the final analysis, for the way we’ve lived our lives).

    At any rate, if nothing I have said in previous instances discussing this very question and many others was of any use, it won’t be now. So at this juncture I shall get off the merry-go-round again (leaving you with the assurance that you haven’t got up my nose or offended me personally, but that my breaking silence on these matters was due to a felt need to put a couple of things straight in light of the bizarre nature of some of your recent claims) and the promise that you will not be subject to any ‘windbaggery’ again. Over and out.

    *As to my references to this phenomenon, I thought it fairly clear that my point was not that they don’t like losing arguments, or are reluctant to admit defeat, but that they refuse to admit the reasonableness of any point within their opponent’s reasoning whatsoever. To suggest that this is the same thing as a Catholic (or anyone else for that matter) being confident in their beliefs and/or that they have just as much vested interest in not giving them up is just another example of your staggering ability to grab firmly on to the wrong end of the stick, presumably so that you can avoid engaging with the actual point being made.

    Furthermore, to suggest that the many people who have patiently responded to your interminable round of repeated questions here at CP&S are guilty of what the New Atheists do (namely refuse to admit the reasonableness of any of your points, or even any aspect of your reasoning) is both manifestly untrue and an affront to the charity that has been shown to you a great many times over a very long period. There are an extraordinary number of resources that you could have and can avail yourself of to find answers to your questions, and you’ve made it very plain that you find all the answers given you here unsatisfactory, yet you continue to pose the same weary questions over and over again, and then have the temerity to suggest you have been done some kind of disservice when your question is ignored at the fiftieth time of asking.

  43. Michael says:

    Bamacnz,

    I’m very sorry that you thought anything I had said before was directed towards yourself. As Toad says above, it was all for his benefit. He apparently feels that such comments, made after long periods of putting up with the same questions over and over again, and his being given an extraordinary amount of freedom to continue to do so, despite apparently making several rude and/or blasphemous comments (which have thankfully been moderated) amounts to singling out or something, which is interesting. But what I wrote certainly had nothing to do with you, or your very gentle, patient, clear responses.

  44. toadspittle says:

    “..the most logical thing to do would be to hedge one’s bets and live in a way that would preclude one’s ending up there. (in Hell)”
    It would indeed, Michael, and it’s gratifying to see you positing such an option (pompous berk Toad – speak English!) What we have here is, as I don’t need to tell you, Pascal’s Wager.
    Which I have considered deeply (well, as “deeply” as I can!) – and decided for me to accept it would amount to colossal and gross hypocrisy. (…Also monumental cowardice. Which I’d expect God to rightly scorn.)

    Regarding the Catechism question, “(as if there were no arguments for God’s existence which might, just might, be behind that statement…)” but then..Oh, never mind.
    It was a good, logical(!) and civilised answer from you. And I appreciate it

  45. Michael says:

    Toad,

    As an addendum to what I’ve already written, both to further explicate the point regarding Pascal’s Wager (which, as you note, I touched on above, but only one aspect of it) and in response to your courtesy in the above comment, you might find the following short article helpful, particularly the very practical advice given towards the end:

    http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics/pascals-wager.htm

    Anyway, that is me off the roundabout for real now, for the reasons given above, but I do hope the article helps in showing that it is precisely the situation you find yourself in that Pascal was speaking to, and that God would not scorn such means as it presumes the actor involved genuinely desires either truth or happiness (or indeed both) – it appeals to sincere desires for both. The only reason it appears to have a certain mercenary quality to it is because it is an argument to appeal to when all other arguments have been found non-satisfactory (for whatever reasons). Anyway, that’s me done this time – all the best, and I really do mean that.

  46. toadspittle says:

    “..the most logical thing to do would be to hedge one’s bets and live in a way that would preclude one’s ending up there. (in Hell)”
    I take that to mean to live in a decent fashion – not to be unkind to others – tolerate their foibles, and the fact that they don’t always agree with our particular view of life. Indeed try to help to make their lives less awful – wherever possible.
    Er.. that’s it. If that’s not good enough to get to heaven, then I don’t know what is.
    …Which I don’t..

  47. Tom Fisher says:

    This false science that came out of the darkness in denial of God has brought with it slavery, beastility, the destruction of nations, the scientific destruction of billions of babies, the destruction of the family all in the name of Enlightenment!

    I have no inclination to wade in to this argument — but Robert, has anyone ever committed bestiality in the name of the enlightenment? And isn’t it a slightly odd inclusion in your list? No matter, it adds a certain frisson

  48. bamacnz says:

    Toad,,
    Thank you in advance for the prayers and candle . re the penitential candle , I can’t help feeling that you just love to stir and keep an argument on the boil !

    I know well someone just like that … in fact I have been married to him for the last forty odd years …. He has a reputation for stirring . Some years back we moved from a country town up here to Auckland …. before he left the country bank the staff there gave him a wooden jam spoon tissied up with a big red ribbon ( spoon has had a lot of use over the years … the ribbon …well…) In the early years of marriage his stirring nearly drove me bonkers but time taught me that the best way to get on top was to completely ignore his thrust …. he still tries it out but it is now water off the duck’s back … maybe that would save Michael the “merry-go-round” feeling .!!!

    Michael,
    thank you for your explanation … there is no way that I could ever get used to some of the big and scientific /or what have you , words that you use … my dictionary would soon wear out … thanks again .
    Must get domesticated and get on with making dinner

    God Bless

  49. toadspittle says:

    “I can’t help feeling that you just love to stir and keep an argument on the boil !”
    There is a bit of that about ir I must admit, Bam – as there is in nearly all of us on this forum,
    or so I suspect.
    But, also like everyone else on here, I’m honest in my quest. I genuinely would like to know What It’s Really All About, and will go searching, no doubt until I die, amongst philosophy and religion. Maybe the journey is more important than the destination.
    Amazing how many route maps there are. All claiming to be the only correct one. And how many varying opinions on skinning the poor old cat.
    (Oh, shut up Toad. Pompous old twit.)

  50. Tom Fisher says:

    this is not a new phenomenon, but it does seem to have grown in prominence, thanks to the celebrity status of the ‘New Atheists’, who have convinced a generation of people that straw-man arguments, avoidance of your opponent’s actual points, ignorance of the subject you’re discussing and a firm reluctance to remedy that ignorance or take on board criticism, can be successfully obscured by a ‘we’re smarter than that lot over there’ rhetoric

    Michael, which writers do you have in mind? I haven’t read a word by Sam Harris in the last two years; but I have reread Hitchens, Dennett, and Dawkins within that period. Can give examples of what you mean? Is there any chance that you are reiterating a sentimient which is now such an old saw that you simply do not expect to see it contradicted?

  51. bamacnz says:

    Toad,
    “Amazing how many route maps there are. All claiming to be the only correct one. And how many varying opinions on skinning the poor old cat.
    (Oh, shut up Toad. Pompous old twit.)”

    As you look for the correct ” route map” have a look at the founder of the church that set up each and every one of them … all but one of them was founded by someone …. all that is except that one , the Catholic Church which was founded by God ,by Christ who is God the Son , one person of our Triune God …. what better and surer ” map maker ” could you have ? I don’t doubt your sincerity Toad , but Faith is not something that can be learned like a school subject ….. we learn more and more about it as we look into it but, as someone said in an earlier comment ( Kathleen I think ) the actual acceptance and belief in that Faith, is a gift of God
    When we want to learn about any subject we try to find someone who really knows about all the ins and outs of it …. when it comes to wanting to know about how true the Catholic Church is who better to ask than its founder –God — who has promised to be with it till the end of time?
    … just look at the number who have given their lives for the love of this God given Faith ….Look at the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta !

    God Bless

  52. Michael says:

    Tom @ 09:00:

    I was thinking particularly of those four writers yes, as well as A. C. Grayling. Re Daniel Dennett, I have only flicked through the odd chapter of his Breaking The Spell, but what I found there was not too encouraging, and certainly did evidence precisely the attitude I mentioned above – but to be fair, I have not read much of his other than that. Sam Harris I have not read anything by, but have watched a few debates of his on youtube, and find that he is particularly guilty of pre-determining what kind of evidence is to be admitted to court, and then refusing to listen to anything that doesn’t meet those criteria.

    Dawkins and Hitchens are the ones I’ve read most of, and having re-read The God Delusion and God Is Not Great fairly recently (last couple of years, like yourself) I was gobsmacked not only by the philosophical sloppiness and ignorance of the topics they criticise (as well as the parts of their books dealing with history), but by the overwhelming sense that taking religion and its various philsophical/theological claims seriously was not even something they needed to bother to do, because they had already decided it was so much tripe.

    In essence, precategorisation of religion and religious believers as tainted with idiocy and their own beliefs as the only reasonable ones was, IMO, a hallmark of these books. I haven’t read anything else by Hitchens, or seen any of his debates, but all else I’ve seen/read by Dawkins gives me very much the same impression.

    Is there any chance that you are reiterating a sentimient which is now such an old saw that you simply do not expect to see it contradicted?

    No, afraid not. To ask this question assumes that I am either trying to con people for the purposes of my argument or have myself been duped into believing a narrative without having taken the time to examine the sources for myself. Could you please give me a bit more credit in future and/or at least try and drop the condescension? It’s not very helpful.

  53. Michael says:

    Bamacnz @ 09:55:

    Your concluding statement about the many people who have had their lives transformed by giving themselves to God out of love for Him reminds me of something Pope Benedict XVI (well, Cardinal Ratzinger at the time) said in a 2002 address to a Comunione e Liberazione group:

    I have often affirmed my conviction that the true apology of Christian faith, the most convincing demonstration of its truth against every denial, are the saints, and the beauty that the faith has generated. Today, for faith to grow, we must lead ourselves and the persons we meet to encounter the saints and to enter into contact with the Beautiful…

    …Then we will have found the beauty of Truth, of the Truth that redeems. Nothing can bring us into close contact with the beauty of Christ himself other than the world of beauty created by faith and the light that shines out from the faces of the saints, through whom his own light becomes visible.

    I find myself in full agreement with both Cardinal Ratzinger and yourself! This reflection from Peter Hitchens on his visit to Chartres Cathedral gives eloquent testimony to the ‘Argument from Beauty’ in particular:

    http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2013/02/what-will-survive-of-us-the-miracle-of-chartres-cathedral-.html

  54. toadspittle says:

    “As you look for the correct ” route map” have a look at the founder of the church that set up each and every one of them … all but one of them was founded by someone …. all that is except that one , the Catholic Church which was founded by God ,by Christ who is God the Son , one person of our Triune God …. what better and surer ” map maker ” could you have ?”
    Ah, Bam, you make it all sound so wonderfully simple. And you would convince any Catholic. But they are specifically the ones that don’t need convincing.
    How about Hindu’s? Who founded their religion? How about all the people in The Americas, millions and millions of them – who lived and died never once hearing of Christ, until the kind and thoughtful Spaniards came along and persuaded them to change their minds? That sort of thing niggles with me, for some odd reason.
    I suppose the Mormons and even the Lutherans, and Muggletonians, and Quivering Brethren – would be confident their churches were founded directly by God.
    Pity nobody ever asked C.S. Lewis* who founded his church. (If anyone did ask, I haven’t yet heard of it.) It’s none of it as simple as it seems. Not to me, anyway.

    Chartres is indeed amazingly beautiful. But Burgos has lots more cool stuff. (…but no labyrinth.)

  55. kathleen says:

    Michael @ 16:43

    Thanks for that lovely quote from Pope Benedict XVI. The saints are indeed the most marvellous channels through whom Christ’s own light becomes more easily visible.
    I would even add that ‘living saints’ – those who give daily witness to how a Christian should live (and I think we all know some holy examples among our own family or friends) – do just that. Amongst so much dissent and anti-Christian behaviour we see all around us, we really need these encouraging examples of true Christian witness.

    Peter Hitchens’ article about Holy Chartres brought back to me some dreamy memories of this most wonderful Cathedral.

    Still not sure if I have the courage (or the stamina) to take part in the annual Paris to Chartres pilgrimage at Pentecost this year. Yet I also know that I shall regret it if I don’t go!

  56. Robert says:

    Tom Fisher
    The science(s) that can be traced from the Enlightenment have this claim on Naturalism (which doesn’t require God).
    It was the 18/19th century Geologists who provided the basis for an age of the Earth which is based on sedimentation and erosion. Darwin used this age as the essential premise for Evolution.
    Evolution means that you and your ancestors, indeed your Father, are beasts.
    Beastility pertains to Beasts.

  57. bamacnz says:

    Toad,

    I came across this question and answer as I surfed this morning … me thinketh that it might answer your question re C S Lewis so much better than I could :-

    Why didn’t C.S. Lewis and other Christian intellectuals become Catholic?

    Full Question
    Great Christian thinkers of this century such as C. S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, E. L. Mascall, and Karl Barth didn’t become Catholics. Were they too smart to fall for Catholicism?

    Answer

    Faith is a gift from God, not merely the product of a syllogistic chain. It’s difficult to explain on purely rational grounds why a given individual does or does not accept Catholicism (or Christianity in general, for that matter). Brilliance doesn’t protect a man from the effects of bad thinking, his feelings, his cultural background, or ethnic prejudices.

    Any one of these things could prevent someone from fully opening his mind and his heart. On the other hand, all of these together may not be enough to keep someone from the faith–God works in strange ways, you know.

    There’s little doubt the men you mention made great contributions to the cause of Christ in this century. But this doesn’t mean they couldn’t have missed something–something key or central–in their understanding of Christianity.

    Take C. S. Lewis as an example. A former pupil and long-time friend of Lewis’s, Christopher Derrick, noted in C. S. Lewis and the Church of Rome that while Lewis was a creative defender of Christianity in general, his reasons for not being a Catholic, to the extent Lewis made these known, were pedestrian.

    This led Derrick to assert that Lewis’s non-conversion to Catholicism was only partly due to intellectual difficulties. Lewis’s personality and his Ulster Protestant background were also involved.

    Despite his own failure to embrace Catholicism, though, Lewis has been responsible for a great number of other Protestants, particularly Evangelicals, coming into the Catholic Church. Sheldon Vanauken has spoken of Lewis as Moses–leading people to the promised land without himself entering into it.

    By following his theological principles and insights, Lewis’s readers are often able to see what he, given his mental grooves and prejudices, was unable to see.

    Much the same could be said of the others you cite, although the specific.aspects of their thought, as well as the non-rational elements which contributed to their reasons for not embracing Catholicism, would be quite different from Lewis’s.

    Even if we could take all these factors into account and weigh them properly, which we can’t, there’s still the main element, which remains mysterious: grace. We have no scales at all in which to weigh it.

    ( answered by staff at Catholic answers)

    My prayers that it does help a bit for you. Toad.

    Michael,

    My thanks to you go along with Kathleen’s …. they both said so much to me ….. The description of Chartres. …. it read somewhat like a verbal travelogue to me and brought back so many memories of the time I was fortunate enough to have visited it.

    Kathleen ,

    thank you for the reminder of the inspiring example to be found in some of the people we come across in our daily lives …. one example of this for me happened in our church the other morning .
    My husband and I like to get to Church early to have quiet preparation time before Holy Mass…. being a school day children could be heard over at our parish school . Into the quiet of the church came two little boys , one about nine years old and the other a bit younger … they walked right down and knelt on the bottom step of the sanctuary , joined their hands and seemed to be talking to Jesus in the Tabernacle , they stayed for a few minutes , stood up, bowed to the Tabernacle then proceeded to leave . When they were more than half way to the door , one of the boys turned back to the altar and waved to Jesus saying ” Thanks Jesus , see Ya! ” then went on their way to school leaving me with tears in my eyes …. who needs learned books !

    God Bless

  58. johnhenrycn says:

    If Bamacnz is not a blog incarnation of the great joyfulpapist, I’m stupider less perceptive than even Toad thinks I am. There cannot possibly be another person in New Zealand who is as strictly orthodox a Catholic as JP was/is, can there, Tom Fisher?

  59. Tom Fisher says:

    Could you please give me a bit more credit in future

    Sorry. In my head it was facetious. Seeing it in plain text it just looks insulting. Thanks for the reply, will follow up when I get home (I hate typing on my phone)

  60. Tom Fisher says:

    Hi JH, Bamacnz is not Joyful Papist. Bamacnz is lovely, but she is not the inimitable JP.

  61. Tom Fisher says:

    JH, I don’t want to call you unperceptive old chum — but JP (although orthodox), was always cheerfully indulgent of unorthodox opinions, and rather enjoyed discussing them. And she would never have described herself as ‘as simple old girl’. — She knew she was generally the smartest person on any given blog, though she wore it lightly. I do miss her actually.

  62. bamacnz says:

    JH &TF,
    I am not JP … I miss her too …. I miss her blog and also miss “Being Frank” blog to which Joyful would comment now and then …. JP vanished in a way that , I felt , was out of character… she is in my prayers that she is alright whatever and where ever. If any of us find out anything about her ..please let us know too? I wonder too TF & JH, what happened to Kiwi Atheist , old KA ..I think of him too. JP and KA lived in the same part of NZ and used to meet over coffee from time to time … the wrong part of NZ for me unfortunately…. would love to have been a proverbial fly on the wall during their sharing … they both respected each other so much.

    Being Orthodox in my parish is not all that popular with most other parishioners , I have received quite sympathetic looks and have heard the remark ” Poor old Dear, much too pre-Vatican poor soul “… said “poor soul” says a silent “Thank you” to God for having given me the strength and Grace to still be that way …. in my turn , I feel sorry for them and do so hope that one day God will lead them too to become true Orthodox….only God knows the answer to that one

    God Bless

  63. johnhenrycn says:

    JP was old(er) when her mother died a couple of years back, and I wonder whether she then decided it was time to continue forging ahead somewhere other than here in blogdom:

    But bamacnz writes very well and with the same gentle expressing of the Truth as JP did, so my error is an honest one.

  64. johnhenrycn says:

    Everything I said above is true, but I’m being especially nice right now because I’m a lector later this morning and I wish to get into the proper frame of mind. Not to mention that I came within a hairsbreadth of being banned on another orthodox blog a few hours ago…
    http://www.churchmilitant.com/video/episode/new-york-doubles
    …and have nowhere else to go, as St Peter once said🙂

  65. toadspittle says:

    [This comment has been deleted by a moderator. We’ve heard it all many times before, thank you Toad.]

  66. Tom Fisher says:

    JP vanished in a way that , I felt , was out of character… she is in my prayers that she is alright whatever and where ever.

    Hi Bamanz, as far as I know JP is healthy and happy.

  67. bamacnz says:

    Thank you so much for that news Tom … if you have contact at all would you please pass on my love and prayers that have winged their way toher ever since she finished posting and that I am so very pleased that she is ok ?
    God Bless

  68. Michael says:

    Tom @ 02:59:

    Thanks for the clarification – all is forgiven🙂 I see the issue – it is notoriously difficult to convey subtleties in tone, emphasis, etc in print which would be easily picked up in a face-to-face conversation, and I have no doubt inadvertently given the wrong impression on numerous occasions here in the past myself!

  69. Michael says:

    Bamacnz @ 22:31, March 5th:

    I’m glad you enjoyed the quote and the article. I’ve never been to Chartres myself, but apart from providing a compelling description of it (and thus making me want to go there!) what Hitchens writes about the testimony to the Faith that the beauty it has inspired provides could easily be attributed to a great many other buildings/works of art.

    That excerpt from Catholic Answers on C. S. Lewis is a very useful synopsis of his relationship to the Church indeed. Another interesting piece in this area (which you, and others, may find interesting) is this interview with Michael Ward, the author of The Narnia Code*:

    http://brandonvogt.com/c-s-lewis-catholicism-narnian-code-interview-michael-ward/

    He provides some very good reasons as to why one would choose the Catholic Church over and above any other form of Christianity, and makes some interesting points at the end about whether or not Lewis would have converted had he lived longer.

    *If you are a fan of Lewis and haven’t read either this or Ward’s fuller length treatment Planet Narnia, I highly recommend them.

  70. Michael says:

    Kathleen @ 20:18, March 5th:

    Very glad you enjoyed the quote and article too! An excellent supplement from yourself as well, regarding the examples of holiness we can find amongst people in our own walks of life – I would add to this as well that it is quite amazing, and further testimony to the ‘proof of the saints’ that no matter how many trying and even nasty people one comes across in a given day, an encounter with a holy person can make all the bad experience disappear; and the experience of one act of genuine charity can wash away a day full of meanness. Extraordinary, but really it is what one would expect if we take Our Lord’s words (and those of the NT in general) seriously

    I do hope you have the stamina to go on the Chartres pilgrimage again, as it means we will be able to read another of your excellent posts on the subject afterwards!🙂

  71. toadspittle says:

    “[This comment has been deleted by a moderator. We’ve heard it all many times before, thank you Toad.]”
    Dies that mean we aren’t going to hear how awful abortion is – and how nice Pope Francis is – ever again? I doubt it.
    You see what happens when I try to have a sensible dialogue, Bamacnz?

  72. kathleen says:

    Michael @ 16:41 yesterday

    Yes, it is true how those who radiate a type of holiness about them are like magnets for us wanderers in this “vale of tears”, aren’t they? In the same way that sinfulness (especially serious sin of course) scandalises and destroys, holiness spreads joy, hope, love, etc., leading people to perceive the Face of God in these saintly souls – true witnesses of Christ.

    “I do hope you have the stamina to go on the Chartres pilgrimage again, as it means we will be able to read another of your excellent posts on the subject afterwards!🙂 “

    Thank you for your kind words, but fit young man that you are, you should go yourself on this holy and wonderful pilgrimage…. and then all the rest of us could enjoy your superb literary talents once again* when you recount your first-time experience of Chartres on CP&S.😉

    (* Oh how I miss “Journey Towards Easter”!)

  73. kathleen says:

    Toad – Fr. John Bartunek (from ‘Catholic Spiritual Direction’) might have had you in mind when he says:

    “We have difficulty understanding this [God’s justice], just as a blind man has difficulty understanding colour, but our difficulty doesn’t alter this fact: God’s omnipotence and omniscience respects our freedom. In the core of our being we remain free to accept or reject God’s action in our lives—and to accept or reject it more or less intensely. God wants us to accept him with all our ‘heart, soul, mind, and strength’—in other words, as intensely as possible. But he also knows that we are burdened with selfishness and beset by the devil, so it will take a great effort on our part to correspond to his grace. … Every time our conscience nudges us to refrain from sharing or tolerating that little bit of gossip, every time we feel a tug in our hearts to say a prayer or give a little more effort, every time we detect an opportunity to do a hidden act of kindness to someone in need, we are faced with an opportunity to please the Lord by putting our faith in his will.”

  74. kathleen says:

    Tom Fisher @ 9:39 yesterday

    I am very glad to hear that our old friend, joyfulpapist, is “healthy and happy” – you have obviously found this out somehow – but like bamacnz, I also think that her vanishing so suddenly in that way, without any notice to her internet friends and contacts was “out of character”. Did she not, with her great sensitivity and intuition, ever realise that we would all be concerned, wondering if something terrible had happened to her?
    It is at least a great relief to hear she is okay – thanks.

  75. Robert says:

    The Hourglass of Life. There is a Book of Life and indeed a Book of the Dead.
    If you look at this from the Gospel of St John and the Word you begin to see beyond the physical printed paper to a Eternity where Words (forming sentences, paragraphs, chapters, books) are Eternally recorded.
    Life and Death? Light and Darkness? Now the Book of Life and Death is a record of Free Will choices , confessions (where chunks are erased for Eternity), Charity, and Virtues, Sins and Vices.
    Each and every soul that has ever sprung forth from Our Eternal Creator Father.
    The Hour is Heavens time of course not Earthly time. The Glass is appropriate since this can be frosted, darkened or clear.
    Kathleen it is so difficult sometimes to know where to begin with some topics. Thank you for mentioning the omnipotence and omniscience of God. Sometimes the best way to ‘see’ God in Our lives is to look backwards and follow the choices and salient parts (so called good luck) and Our Book of Our Life begins to be seen. The question is then the direction of Our Book of Life is this to Life or Death?
    Very important to at least yearly have a general Confession!

  76. johnhenrycn says:

    I think the censorship of Toad at 07:35 and again at 06:21 is just the ticket. I do enjoy his eldritch intelligence, but I’ve seen little of it at late. He’s a broken turntable whose toning arm constantly needs to be repositioned at the beginning of his one piece of vinyl in the hope that we will hear something new.

  77. johnhenrycn says:

    Kathleen (08:09) – I think I’ve learned the only way that one has a real chance of escaping blogdom is to quit cold turkey without a word to any of one’s friends – much as it is grievous to do so. Some bloggers are disciplined enough that they can limit their online correspondence to a couple of hours per week. Others, either because of weakness (like me) or not wishing to hurt anyone’s feelings, keep returning to their favourite blogs despite having other pressing commitments.

    Now, is escaping blogdom something to be desired? I think it is. Much as I have positively benefited from websites, and much as I hold dear many people I have met on them, I long ago concluded that internet communication is a form of slavery, all the more so because of its voluntarily addictive nature. I remember the exact day I began blogging – February 17th, 2009 – just over seven years ago. Jacob served Laban seven years to get Rachel, but he was tricked. I think I have been tricked by computer technology in a similar way. Unlike Jacob, I hope not to be enslaved another seven years.

    (Please say hello for me to those of your team who hardly ever appear here anymore.)

  78. toadspittle says:

    “I think the censorship of Toad at 07:35 and again at 06:21 is just the ticket..”
    Absolutely, JH – or else the little green bastard will just go on gibbering about the illogicality of Original Sin, and Altar Rails, and altar Girls, and taking communion lying face down – and God knows what else existential nonsense.
    And then – where will it all end? In Hell, probably.
    (Never mind – this comment will be censored virtually to death anyway, as most all of them are.
    Quite right too, on a God-fearing, Trad-Catholic blog. )

    [moderator – “OK Toad, we’ll give everyone a taste of typical toadism-pure-&-simple less they think we’re being harsh, then they can judge (groan).”]

  79. johnhenrycn says:

  80. toadspittle says:

    “… Every time our conscience nudges us to refrain from sharing or tolerating that little bit of gossip, every time we feel a tug in our hearts to say a prayer or give a little more effort, every time we detect an opportunity to do a hidden act of kindness to someone in need, we are faced with an opportunity to please the Lord by putting our faith in his will.”
    It seems to me that we should behave like that (prayer is optional) because we are decent human beings.
    If it “pleases the Lord,” that’s nice. But that’s not why we should do it.
    It also seems to me there’s no knowing what pleases the Lord. Earthquakes? Cancer? Altar rails?
    If God is perfect, and lacks nothing, then nothing can possibly please Him, surely?
    What can we give Him that He hasn’t already got?

  81. Tom Fisher says:

    Now I presume all our readers in the UK and Canada have heard of Featherston? If not (what do they teach in geography class these days?) it is a small town near Wellington, NZ. This (slightly redacted because CP&S writers don’t traditionally publish their full names) literary event from late last year may be of interest🙂

    By day, she’s [Joyful Papist], mild-mannered plain English specialist, fighting a war on business jargon and complex documents. But she has a double identity. By night, she transforms into Jude Knight, writer of Amazon bestselling historical romances and thrillers. Join Featherstonian writer, Jude, to hear about the synergies and conflicts between her two writing careers. See some of the worst and best New Zealand commercial writing has to offer. Enjoy stories from the coalface of independent publishing in today’s bazillion-book marketplace. Jude Knight writes strong determined heroines, heroes who appreciate them, villains you’ll love to hate, and all with a leavening of humour.

  82. Tom Fisher says:

    Did she not, with her great sensitivity and intuition, ever realise that we would all be concerned, wondering if something terrible had happened to her?

    Kathleen, I was concerned as well, I simply don’t know the answer to that. My information is second-hand, so it would be wrong of me to speculate too much. But my un-informed guess is that she came to feel that sustaining a solo daily blog about faith and family, was starting to eat into her time for faith and family. And that as JH suggested, she decided (as people sometimes do) to make a clean break. — But simply don’t know.

  83. Tom Fisher says:

    I think the censorship of Toad at 07:35 and again at 06:21 is just the ticket..

    The thing is JH, whenever Toads words are replaced with black italics between square brackets I can’t help thinking of the worst imaginable thing he could possibly have said. Which is actually quite fun I admit.

  84. Michael says:

    Kathleen @ 07:52, March 7th:

    Well, it is certainly something I hope to do in the future, but it may be a while before it actually happens! As for JTE, that is definitely off the table I’m afraid, most likely for good – as JH was saying, there is an aspect to blogging and various other social media that can become all-consuming and easily distracts from other things; when I stopped for Lent last year, it became clear just how much of a distraction it was, and also that I’d pretty much run out of things to say!🙂

    You are so right about the way in which holiness acts as a kind of ‘magnet’ for us, and spreads joy, hope, etc; as well as that this is greatly pleasing to God. This is of course the main reason for His creating us as free agents in the first instance, and then delivering us from our ill use of that freedom – so that we might freely participate in His own life of self-giving love, and become ‘partakers of the divine nature’.

    This self-emptying charity is to be distinguished (something I don’t think I did very well in my previous comment!) from basic human decency, which it builds upon. The latter is something all are capable of (though unfortunately a great many of us still find even this difficult to enact beyond our immediate circles or consider basic decency to be all that is required of us – c.f.; Matthew 5:46-48) but is not alone enough to redeem the times, nor is it what is asked of us by Our Lord. The last couple of reflections at the ‘Newman Lectures’ speak well of the difference grace makes:

    http://www.newmanlectures.co.uk/newman-blog/fruits-of-the-spirit/5/3/2016

    http://www.newmanlectures.co.uk/newman-blog/gifts-of-the-spirit/5/3/2016

  85. Michael says:

    Btw, does all the above mean johnhenry is leaving the ‘blogosphere’ for good? I hope not, but if so, God bless and all the very best for the future!

  86. toadspittle says:

    “The thing is JH, whenever Toads words are replaced with black italics between square brackets I can’t help thinking of the worst imaginable thing he could possibly have said.”
    So do I Tom, because I can never remember what it was that I wrote.
    But I think the Imperial Order of Moderators kills my stuff – not because it’s too unimaginably awful, but because it’s too unimaginably boring for them.
    Quite right too. Must maintain some standards.
    However pitifully low.

  87. kathleen says:

    Tom @ 6:13

    Yes, Tom, I think you are probably right. Joyful saw that this was the only way to return to her pre-blogging days (running a busy, popular blog sole-handed indeed must have taken up an enormous amount of time and effort) was to make a clean break. Her large family must also be very happy about it, I imagine!

    My offspring are not around anymore, but when they all descend on me at holiday time, dear CP&S has to be given second place in my attention.🙂

    We all miss Joyful, but it is good to know that she is still ‘fighting the good fight’ for Christ and His Church in other fields where the pressures on her time are surely not so great.

    But hey, JH, if you are reading this, please don’t you go and leave us now! (Unless of course you are going on a Lenten retreat; that would be understandable.) Otherwise we need your imaginative, witty, (sometimes a little cheeky😉 ), but always very entertaining, comments, to keep coming our way.

  88. kathleen says:

    Michael @ 9:33

    Thank you for those two wonderful links from the holy cardinal, Bl. J.H. Newman, that certainly do illustrate very well “the difference that grace makes” in what we had been discussing.

    Yes, I hope you really do make it to joining the Chartres pilgrimage one day. It has made a big difference to my life, and to many other Catholics who I have met through it over the years.

  89. Michael says:

    Kathleen @ 21:12, March 8th:

    I hope so too! Your descriptions of the pilgrimage alone have created within me a great desire to do so:-)

  90. toadspittle says:

    Wonderful – well, anyway, joyful – information about Joyful. Toad’s pin-up, dream girl.
    I’m glad she’s (apparently) not dead. ..Like Jabba would seem to be.

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