Pious – pointers

St John Vianney winning round his congregation:

I am going to explain to you, my dear brethren, what is understood by swearing, blasphemy, profanities, imprecations and curses. Try to sleep well during this period so that when the day of judgment comes, you will be found to have committed this evil without knowing what you were doing – though, of course, you will be damned, because your ignorance will be all your own fault (From ‘All that you say over and above these is of evil’ in ‘The Sermons of the Curé of Ars’)

(The author is writing about the meaning of vocation, and has gone on to describe the vocation to marriage and to the religous life. She continues:)

 There is a third way – consecration to God in the world. Cecila Plater-Zyberkówna writes that „it differs from the first two in that God most often makes it known only later in life”, that it often matures in the soil of what appear to be failures. Young people engaged in some task, entangled in some unusual domestic situation and responsible for it, not finding (despite their desire to do so) a person suitable for them or rejected by someone in whom they were interested – remain alone. Plater-Zyberkówna writes „this does not all happen by chance (for a Christian there is no such thing). They are circumstances permitted or brought about by Providence for rational and deep ends which should not be missed. In these ways God says to souls not to enter into marriage, but to give themselves to him for the carrying out of many tasks that can only be carried out by people in the world consecrated to God and at the same time flexible, familiar with a given area of life or society, well prepared for the performance of their profession, trade or function”. Their task is to sanctify the world from within. They do not as a rule leave their place in society. They are in families, in the work place, in social life and the life of society. The fact of consecration changes nothing on the outside. The consecration must let down roots in ordinary human life in order to bring God into it, in order to save the world by imparting to it the fire of love brought to earth by Christ and by pouring His spirit into every area of life. Christ does not wish to take them out of the world, but to guard them from sin.

Taken from a text posted by Pianticellawhom I caused to wipe four days of work sorting WYD photos by gmail-chat-quizzing her about Calvinist novels as she performed a crucial Picasa maneouvre(?sp?). 

… elle ne support pas les craintes pueriles que certaines d’entre nous auraient pour les insectes et autres animaux, elle tient absolument a ce qu’on se domine sur ce point; sur tous les domains il faut etre maitresse chez soi, sinon il faut renoncer a la saintete.

(a nun of Solesmes, on their first abbess)


… you will practise therein humility, obedience, simplicity and charity: in short, more virtues than in any other single act of religion.


St Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, pt II ch. 19

(read this time in a great book called  L’art d’utiliser ses fautes, by Joseph Tissot: published in English as How to Profit from Your Faults, in Polish as Sztuka Korzystania z Własnych Błędów, etc.)

There was that newspaper thing inviting people to write in on the subject of “What’s Wrong with the World”, to which  Chesterton the Great wrote saying “Dear Sir, I am.”

For the Lord says “my name is blasphemed among all the peoples” and again “woe to him by reason of whom my name is blasphemed”.  Why is it blasphemed? Because we do not do what we say. Hearing from us the word of God, so good and so great, people are full of admiration. Then, seeing that our actions are not worthy of the words we speak, they turn to blasphemy saying that this word is some fable and an error.

For when they hear from us that God says “You have no gratia, [credit, says RSV; DR has thanks]  if you love those who love you; butyou have gratia, if you love your enemies and those who hate you”, they admire [its/the] sublime goodness. When however they see that we don’t only not love those who hate us, but not even those who love us, they laugh at us and blaspheme the Name.

A sermon of a second-century author, trans. bat Ionah b/c St Josaphat trumped Friday of the 32nd week of Ordinary Time this year, and so the English is not on Universalis.

Joesph Bolin, Paths of Love: the discernment of vocation according to Aquinas, Ignatius, and Pope John Paul II (2008).

I found this when I noticed that someone who follows Joe-Mark’s blog (g’night, Jo-Mark!) had a suspiciously familiar name. And of course, the author studies at the same fine institution that gave me what theological formation I have (wasn’t there long), and produced this and this and this and this and this and this and this and  … (these are folk who were students when I was there, and are ones for whom I could find a page).  The chap himself arrived after I left (we met in a car between Vaduz and Feldkirch, I think that is about the extent of our actual acquaintance).

I wish he’d done a “what” book instead of the “how to” book he appears to have done, but hey. He quotes Balthasar without a health warning, but perhaps it was written when there were more Balthasar fans around the place, and, y’know, probably even Calvin wrote some stuff that was related to reality.

The blog of the book. [wonder who thought it would be a good idea to use that unfortunate  shade of pink?]
The book.

People interested in this might also be interested in:

Aelianus on vocation.

Me on vocation (warning,  stream-of-consciousness rambling). Lots of arguing in the combox though.

Aelianus, “Gender and Sacrament”.

Martin Meenagh on the second of the thises (of the these, I suppose).   Re-reading it.


(remember these?)

I was looking for a quite different quote from Simone Weil, when I found these extracts  in an Amazon review. Now, as some of my friends have heard me say many times, it doesn’t really matter what you do so long as you do it. The Sacrament of the Present Moment. Obedience to the Moment. (I will stick up another bit of Madeleine Delbrel on this). And ecco, summarised my thought on the ascetism of living in the present moment:

When I first read the essay “Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God,” I was having trouble picking up a case to read for law school. It seemed pointless especially since I had already decided to become a pastor rather than an attorney. But Weil showed me that “the key to a Christian conception of studies is the realization that prayer consists of attention.” (p.58). She states, “Students must therefore work without any wish to gain good marks, to pass examinations, to win school successes; without any reference to their natural abilities and tastes; applying themselves equally to all their tasks, with the idea that each one will help form in them the habit of that attention which is the substance of prayer.” (p.59) This explains why Weil mastered several languages including Sanskrit and a wide range of academic subjects: they helped her to pray more effectively. She exhorts, “Whoever goes through years of study without developing this attention within himself has lost a great treasure.” (p.64)

In another application, Weil insightfully states that studying also helps one love his neighbor. She explains, “Those who are unhappy have no need for anything in this world but people capable of giving them their attention.” (p.64) Hence studying helps enable the soul to “[empty] itself of all its contents in order to receive into itself the being it is looking at, just as he is, in all his truth.” (p.65) The immeasurable help that studying can bring to others is captured in this thought: “The capacity to give one’s attention to a sufferer is a very rare and difficult thing; it is almost a miracle; it is a miracle.” (p.64)

Eve Tushnet, as pointed out by Boeciana in a brief and madly rushed gmail chat(Acknowledgement: I have pasted in E. Tushnet’s whole post – it is not mine, it is all hers, the link is in her name at the beginning) :

YOU’RE GONNA NEED SOMEONE ON YOUR SIDE: Catholics talk a lot about the need to pick up your cross and follow Christ. And that isn’t wrong. But I wonder if they notice that Christ Himself didn’t carry His cross alone?

He had St. Simon of Cyrene, a.k.a. some dude. He had someone he didn’t know, not an apostle, not anyone expected–just a guy, shanghai’d into carrying the Cross that would bring life to sinners. Someone needed him–and responding to that need is what made him a saint.

It’s kind of terrifying to me how ashamed we are by our neediness. We are dependent. We are on our knees at the foot of the Cross. Like the man said, we can’t do it by ourselves any longer. And we feel awful because we can’t save ourselves. We feel (I feel) deep, miserable, abiding shame because we think we should be Pelagians. We genuinely believe we should be able to save ourselves by being sinless.

Oh, good luck with that, honey. You let me know how that works out for you.

Maybe it would be easier to ask for help.

[end quotation]

If we do not converse with God, at least by a simple glance of love, then we speak with ourselves, tying ourselves into an interior monologue all made up of egoism; we relive in our minds the pains that afflict us, the things in which we rejoice, the little successes and failures, the hopes and fears that make our heart beat, and so on, all under the influence of self-love. All the time that we pass in this kind of monologue is lost for eternity, is time squandered; not just time wasted, but used ill, to the detriment of our soul.

A Nun

For another consideration of the interior conversation and life in Christ, cf. more-or-less the beginning of Garrigou-Lagrange’s Three Ages of the Spiritual Life.