Monday, January 22, 2007

True and false offense

Subject: True and false offense

In a comment I stated that "Offense taken is not prima facie evidence of offense given." I would like to elaborate on this, using a couple of concrete examples.

Let us first consider those who say that they suffer great pain by the words "Our Father, who art in heaven..." and substitute "Our God, who art in heaven; or, in a similar vein, in the creed, instead of saying "...for us men and for our salvation..." they say "...for us and for our salvation..."

Now I do not doubt that there is suffered an anguish here, and I'd like to explore that. In these cases and those which are similar, there is a refusal to understand what is contained in the words of the creed and the greatest prayer, and an adherence to the particular error, preferring their own opinion over the deposit of the faith. In other words, there is no possible offense offered, and the individual taking offense is only demonstrating their own stubbornness in preferring their own opinion over that which is true.

Now there is also the case where offense is rendered, but without realizing it. To demonstrate, I will use the same example. The person who refuses to call God Father, is attempting to correct the very name God has given us whereby to know Him. The person who changes the inclusive language of "for us men and for our salvation" (ie: all mankind), in substituting the exclusive language of "for us and for our salvation" (ie: we gathered here only), is committing an error of great magnitude, since the creed explicates what we believe.

In sum, often people do not understand that they are giving offense, and people take offense where none is given. In both cases it is truth that is offended against by error, and as Leo XIII said, error has no rights.

For a moment, I’d like to consider the lot of a patient in the hospital. Let us assume that the doctor orders a drug to be administered by injection; the patient needs a shot. The CNA, who takes temperature and blood pressure every few hours does not administer the medication, but the nurse does. Is this an insult to the CNA? No, and it would be absurd to take it as such. Is it an insult to the nurse that the doctor must place the order for the injection? Of course not. No one would question that the CNA, the nurse, and even the doctor are of equal dignity as persons, but one would be a fool to consider them to be the same in their professional responsibilities; there is a hierarchy of authority and work, and without it, the entire system of care would collapse.

Now let’s consider what was offered by the deacon as an “offense” against the laity, and ask if it actually is. In this hospital of souls known as the Church, the Church experimented with extending a specific task to a group which had never done it before, and now has announced that the experiment will not continue. There is a division of labor, and there are reasons for this division of labor. Now to believe that it is somehow an affirmation that one group is better than another, based on a division of labor, is to read into said division that which is not there. I will grant you that there may be clergy who think they are better than laity, just as there are doctors who are jerks and think they are better than nurses; but equal dignity of persons is what we adhere to, while recognizing that there are different tasks proper to different vocations. Abuse does not negate the necessary use.

By insisting that we were being “slapped in the face” by the Church in this ruling, the Deacon demonstrated a profound lack of understanding of this ruling. On the other hand, to take the time meant for a homily, and instead, deliver a very strong statement exalting his personal opinion above and against that which the Church has ruled, did two things. First, as an officer of the Church, he spoke not as a deacon of the Church, but as an individual who had crossed a line between himself and the Church (because he spoke for himself, not the Church). Second, he deprived the faithful of a homily explicating the scriptures and how to live them. I find it remarkable that there is so much talk of justice, but so much injustice to the faithful, ie: failing to render what is due.

So, in this recent situation, there is a twofold case of offense taken; on the one hand, but those deeply offended and hurt by the deacon’s words, and on the other, those offended and hurt by what I did, or, more to the point, by what they understand and think that I did, and their perceptions of the motives with which it was done.

In comments, motives have been attributed to me which simply are not so. Those who know me, understand this. We are constantly exhorted to be open to and docile to the promptings of the Spirit, and to do what the Lord asks of us. In my prayers for our beloved Deacon (who is a remarkably good speaker, by the way), I begged the Lord for what is best for the Deacon; and the answer was rather terrifying. You may not believe that the answer which I acted on was from God, and I certainly questioned it as well. The reason I mentioned those who know me, is I do not think it was my own choice for the very simple reason that is was as out of character for me, as joyful obedience would appear to be for Deacon, may God bless and assist him.

I will offer the suggestion that anyone who was not offended by the Deacon’s words and actions, doesn’t understand the magnitude of the offense committed, which is certainly forgivable. If I am wrong on this, I stand open to correction.

24 comments:

  1. I find it remarkable that there is so much talk of justice, but so much injustice to the faithful, ie: failing to render what is due.

    Injustice, and even more (and worse) than that: total indifference on the part of so many of us to the injustices committed against us. And rash judgment of anybody who calls it for what it is.

    Which brings me to certain comments posted below. You people ought to be ashamed of yourself. By any chance, were you among those who made a further mockery of the Mass by applauding? Mark is not a coward, and was not on this occasion. This places him in stark contrast to (a) those who launch anonymous salvos from the sewer at him, and (b) a deacon who chooses a forum in which no appropriate response is possible, and who abuses his preaching authority to do it.

    As for Mark's being unchristian, this accusation springs from the same well of ignorance that blinds too many to the enormity of what was done that Sunday. If Mark did anything wrong that day, what is that compared to the rash judgment to which the apostles of tolerance now subject him? Why don't you try taking the beams out of your own eyes before worrying about the speck in his?

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  2. Am I to understand that -- "I begged the Lord for what is best for the Deacon; and the answer was rather terrifying. You may not believe that the answer which I acted on" -- you were given an immediate answer, i.e. "slap the Deacon" ? How was this "answer" communicated? Do you recall the words He used? Was it "slap him", or "hit him" or "punch him"? How is your conscience? Perplexed?

    You wrote: "I do not think it was my own choice for the very simple reason that is was as out of character for me."

    "Think"? Do you not know? What do you mean by "choice"? Are you referring to the completed act in the external, or the movement of your will to do the act, or both? Both, surely. I'm glad to hear slapping deacons is out of character. If I understand, it goes like this:

    a. The Deacon behaved wickedly.
    b. You raised your heart and mind to Jesus begging Him for what was best (ontologically, right?) for the Deacon.
    c. The reply was immediate or proximate to.
    d. The reply terrified you: why?
    e. You obeyed the reply: you reasoned it could not have been internally generated and or influenced by Satan, i.e. it was not your "own choice" because "is[sic] was [as] out of character for me".

    That's pretty weak Mark.

    You also respond to a charge you violated canon law. You do not believe the law applies to the facts in your case: your conscious object ("fact") was not that to which the law (as you understand it) applies. Did you know this at the time, or only subsequent to?


    Mark. Don't sweat it. You are probably not in a happy place right now. Frankly, my conscience is always perplexed by Bishops, Priests and Deacons. Appalingly bad show, eh? 40 years in the wilderness...

    You just might have done him a favour...you know this reminds me of a little incident when I was a postulent with the OCDS. It was announced by someone in authority that God doesn't punish people. Naturally I freaked. You see aside from the objective, I knew He did subjectively...he beat me black and blue mentally and physically to get me to the point where I said, "okay, so you ARE real, then show me what to do." Bingo, received into the Church.

    It's funny what people think about what you did, but they think nothing of the outrageous sacrilege that goes on right under their noses (literally)at every mass...unless, of course, your parish happens to have more than 5 people a week for confession or they are all angels: doubt it.

    Perhaps your Deacons next homily (we call them sermons were I am from, homily is such a girly-man word...sound it out) could be on why it is a mortal sin to assist at a Vigil Mass and NOT to assist on Sunday unless one has a true exigent reason.

    There's a lot of sacriligeous communions going on out there.


    May God bless you Mark.

    St. Teresa de Jesus, pray for us.

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  3. Ah yes, just one final comment:

    the charge of being "unchristian". Generally-speaking this is one of the CINOs favourite tags. It usually goes along with "judge not" and so forth. Whenever you hear "unchristian" you are probably hearing a material (if not a formal) heretic. The fact they say "unchrisitan" rather than "not Catholic" is a clue, but just a clue. Another sign, but far from infallible, is children....or lack thereof; people who say "unchristian" always seem to have two children or less.

    Still, there are exceptions.

    But I digress.

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  4. Anita, Mark and everyone else,

    In nature, change is usually hard, and sometimes violent. I believe this is also true in human nature, and I think this situation may be a perfect example of that.

    On matters of Faith and Morals, our church is rock solid. This is one of many great things about being Catholic. Our Faith and Morals do not change with the evenings tide or current fad of the populace. It is one thing that sets us apart from all other religious beliefs. But, on matters of process and procedure, we are called to make decisions of conscience, and to evaluate that conscience when we think we have gone astray.

    Deacon Henning said nothing contrary to the Faith and Morals of the church. He did challenge us to re-evaluate our decisions of conscience concerning our involvement in our church activities. As a church, do we no longer thing that Extraordinary Ministers are qualified to purify the vessels? Do we now believe that Extraordinary Ministers (or our children) are not worthy to stand on the same floor as the Priest and Deacon during the consecration of the Blessed Sacrament? Do we think that women are not qualified to be Extraordinary Ministers? Do we think that only boys are qualified to be Alter Servers? These are not issues of Faith or Morals, but are issues that directly impact our church, and as such, we are required to re-evaluate our understanding of these practices from time to time.

    For many years, parishioners lobbied for these indults which have recently been allowed to expire without renewal. Are we no longer as involved as we used to be?

    Deacon Henning was not calling us to revolt against the church. To most of us, that was obvious. He was calling us to become more involved. His act of genuflecting to us was out of reverence to all who are called to be Priest, Prophet and King.

    (Note: There is nothing liturgically wrong with genuflecting to the congregation. We genuflect to the Crucifix on Good Friday and Holy Saturday when the Blessed Sacrament is no longer in the tabernacle. It is simply an act of reverence.)

    Ok, now for the whole slapping issue. I don’t know, I guess I am fairly a black and white kind of guy.

    Cowardice is defined as a vice that is conventionally viewed as the corruption of prudence, to thwart all courage or bravery. Cowardice may be considered to be prudence that does not take consequences to their furthest extent. Someone who attacks and/or kills a defenseless person is also considered a coward.

    This is exactly what Mark did. Deacon Henning could not defend himself in any manor (because he is a good man and a clergy), and Mark knew this. Mark’s reasons for his actions do not change this fact.

    I know that I would not like it if someone called my friend a coward. Same as I know that I did not like Mark slapping my friend. I view that action as an act of cowardice. I stand by that as a definition of the action that took place. I’m sure Mark is a very courageous man and a good friend to many. I’m sure he is also a very kind and generous man. But that still does not change what happened.

    Mark, I am sorry that I judged you along with your action. While defending my friend, and the clergy of my parish, I struck back at you with a vengeful heart, instead of with love and compassion as Christ has taught us. I guess I now know how the kettle feels. I hope you can forgive me for any hurt I may have caused you.

    So, I guess I’m back to my original topic - change. We can’t change what happened. But we can try to come to grips with the consequences of our actions.

    Is it time for a revolution within our church, or our parish? I hope not. Are we now at a juncture that defines slapping a clergy as an acceptable response to disagreement or misunderstanding? Please say no. Have we become so arrogant in our own faith that we believe our understanding of Gods will is complete, and any other understanding must be wrong and therefore dangerous or even threatening to our salvation?

    In so many posts here I read about the US vs. THEM. Last I heard we were all children of God. We all need to deepen our relationship with out Lord, and that can’t happen alone. We must all work together to bring about his glory.

    I pray that our Lord God helps us to hear with our hearts, and see through his eyes,

    God bless you all.

    Dave

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  5. David,

    I appreciate your opening your heart and speaking from there. We can understand, I think, that love has it's own ways of expression.

    I guess you missed it in my other comment, but here's the pertinent information covering genuflecting, which explains with simplicity why what was done was not approrpriate.

    http://www.nccbuscc.org/liturgy/current/GIRM.pdf

    Genuflections and Bows
    274. A genuflection, made by bending the right knee to the ground, signifies adoration, and therefore it is reserved for the Most Blessed Sacrament, as well as for the Holy Cross from the solemn adoration during the liturgical celebration on Good Friday until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.

    275. A bow signifies reverence and honor shown to the persons themselves or to the signs that represent them. There are two kinds of bows: a bow of the head and a bow of the body.


    God bless,
    Mark

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  6. Simon-Peter,

    You ask a lot of questions, and let me see if I can do justice to them. My apologies for the inexplicit articulations I provided.

    How was this "answer" communicated?

    I have received answer to prayer in the same manner before; forgive me if this seems odd in explanation, because it is not something that I experience anywhere else. The response is as if there is something I know, a knowledge that is experiential, not speculative, is just “present,” and that knowledge is complete, with a sense of being complete, but it’s completeness still is acquired by “looking” as though it were a picture of someone you recognized, but then you notice the hair style. Thus I was given to understand that which would transpire, was that which did transpire. This did not include the perception of words spoken, but words understood.

    "Think"? Do you not know? What do you mean by "choice"? Are you referring to the completed act in the external, or the movement of your will to do the act, or both? Both, surely.

    The statement refers to after the fact reflection. In other words, we can be moved by our own will, by God, or by the other side, and we are usually not a very good judge of which it is. It was suggested that I had other “choices” to respond, and that what occurred was my “choice,” hence that comment I made; had it been my "choice" I'd have chosen differently.

    If I understand, it goes like this:

    a. The Deacon behaved wickedly.
    b. You raised your heart and mind to Jesus begging Him for what was best (ontologically, right?) for the Deacon.
    c. The reply was immediate or proximate to.
    d. The reply terrified you: why?
    e. You obeyed the reply: you reasoned it could not have been internally generated and or influenced by Satan, i.e. it was not your "own choice" because "is[sic] was [as] out of character for me".

    That's pretty weak Mark.


    a->d ok. Why> would not you be a bit taken aback by such, and desire confirmation? Was not the shoe maker a bit bent out of shape when told to go baptize Saul?
    e. there should be another point between your (d) and (e). I did not exit the church but went to the tabernacle and prayed for clarification, and out of weakness, I confess, that I did not wish to confront the deacon. I did no reasoning regarding it as you list, such reasoning has been the fruit of meditation in the time since then.
    Add (f) – In deacon’s presence, I became the reply (c).


    You also respond to a charge you violated canon law. You do not believe the law applies to the facts in your case: your conscious object ("fact") was not that to which the law (as you understand it) applies. Did you know this at the time, or only subsequent to?

    Subsequent. When it was suggested, I asked for assistance.


    You just might have done him a favour

    I believe so.

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  7. Thanks Mark, great reply!

    "This did not include the perception of words spoken, but words understood."

    They won't understand this...alas.

    David: I hate to say this, but not only do you find yourself at odds with the Holy Father about the Mass and the nature thereof, but also with Cardinal Arinze, most notably and recently in a speech in Paris in October where EVERYTHING you laud and commend was condemned and what the Deacon did in genuflecting was described as "false humility."

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  8. David: Loving your friend the Deacon is one thing, but don't let love blind you to reason. The fact is, those of us who were upset by his homily love our Deacon too. We just don't think a homily is the appropriate time for him to air his differences with the Holy See. And his act of genuflecting to the congregation was irreverent—it sent a chill down my spine. The Lord does have a right to expect us to behave appropriately in His house.

    As for Mark's actions that Sunday, none of us are privy to his conversations with the Lord and none of us knows what he was or was not called to do. How many of Christ's followers have been asked to do something difficult in His name? How many have been asked to take unpopular actions in His name?

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  9. One more thing I forgot to mention: Those of you who insist that the Deacon did nothing wrong will have to admit that—at the very least—he created confusion, which has resulted in division. For more on this subject, check here

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  10. Simon-Peter,

    Have you read "This Tremendous Lover" by M. Eugene Boylan? If not, pick one up used (abebooks.com), you'll be glad you did.

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  11. David, I know you're earnest in your belief, but your belief comes from misunderstanding.

    First, you've said that the deacon genuflected to us in *our* call to be priest, prophet, and king. Can you show us precisely where we are called to BE these things as opposed to sharing Christ's office in these faculties? We are called to share in his office, not to usurp it, as I noted on my blog.

    Second, you seem to think we're somehow permitted to determine our own form of worship. This is not the case. We're bound by the disciplines of the Church in this area, just as priests and religious are bound by various disciplines in their realms. What's more, norms in worship are not merely matters of discpline: lex orandi, lex credendi (the law of prayer is the law of belief). Our worship is supposed to represent our operant theology.

    Do you know that when the priest rewords the Agnus Dei to fit some other inclusive formula, he's breaking a three-fold connection between the eternal sacrifice of Christ, the historical pasch, and the present act on the altar before us? Read the Holy Father's The Spirit of the Liturgy for more details.

    Third, you haven't yet accepted that the deacon mentioned the possibility of a second reformation at the 8:00 Mass. Let me put it plain and simple. He suggested that if the Holy See didn't listen to the people, then then people would walk. He seemed to imply that schism would be a reasonable response to the the Holy See acting in its proper role as adjudicators of proper liturgical practice. To me, that sounds completely hystrionic.

    Fourth, please read the passages from the GIRM that Mark has supplied. These remove any reasonable doubt as to how we're supposed to read the action of the deacon.

    Finally, as in any governmental/corporate/bureaucratic structure, compaints go up the chain of command. If the deacon doesn't like the situation, he as our teacher should not be inciting us. He should be telling his superior. To do otherwise is to betray those who feed him and to undermine the very authority he's attempting to exercise.

    At very least, please read each of these responses to you with an open mind and an open heart. You are missing some very key points.

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  12. Joan, the Deacon did do something wrong, period. Either the folks in your parish accept it or deny it, but it doesn't altar OBJECTIVE REALITY one whit either way whatever they think. Cogito-immanentist Catholics are one step from the abyss and they don't even see the edge.

    S'funny you should say that Mark, I have a copy upstairs on the couch right now as I type :-)! You are right, I am glad. Try "Christ the Life of the Soul" by Columba Marmion, and "The Spiritual Secrets of a Trappist Monk"...can't recall the author but it's published by Ignatius and don't let the title put you off...all three of these books should be read together...divine adoption / divinization / sanctification / obediance / mystical body....fantastic stuff!

    Mark...you all need the Latin Mass...;-)

    BTW: your friend Anita jumping to your defence must have gladdened your heart. What IS that proverb about "a sure friend is a..."??? my memory is terrible.

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  13. Ocoid:

    you said "your belief comes from misunderstanding."

    In his address in October, in Paris (highly significant given the subsequent public show of support for the Latin Mass by French intellectuals, and the Holy Father slapping down a nascent rebellion by the French episcopacy who were trying to resist the Latin Mass and second-drafted Motu Proprio), Caridinal Arinze stated that "many" [his word] of the problems are due to "ignorance"[his word] What is significant, is that that he later stated that not all the problems are the result of (a) "bad will" [his phrase].

    In other words, the Holy See is fully aware that many problems are caused by ignorance, but is also (finally) aware, that many of them proceed from malice. This was a significant admission, and from my perspective, a breakthrough. Now, I understand that ignorance and misunderstanding are not synonyms, but they are kissing cousins who kiss most often when one has a positive obligation to learn ones faith from the fathers and doctors of the Church rather than some phoney baloney plastic banana good time rock and roll peace and justice hippie washed up via santa monica or big sur.

    Ascribing everything to ignorance and or misunderstanding does not pass the straight face test anymore. It is, in many cases, ill-will.

    Give them the Latin Mass and watch who jumps ship...they won't be able to stand it, because it isn't all about them blinding themselves with their own light and adoring what they create.

    "Is it time for a revolution within our church, or our parish? I hope not."

    There is no misunderstanding...the fear in your parish and parishes all over, is that possibly, possibly, the horizontal, man-centered, protestantized, desacralized busy-body Martha "liturgy" will soon be over and the Christ-centered, vertical, Catholic, sacred, contemplative Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will reassert itself. Then what will the busy-bodies do...? Silence and stillness are anathema to them, rules merely to be broken, adoration something reserved for the mirror.


    Do you want to know why they absolutely insist on communion under both kinds despite the fact they violate almost every jot and tittle of liturgical law (including singing the responsorial psalm when the mass is not sung, which is NOT lawful)? They say, because it shews forth more clearly the sacrificial nature of the Mass, and it does...all things being equal...but all things are not equal are they...no. The reason why they will go to the wall to preserve this shewing forth, whilst stripping every sign and signification and sowing confusion, is because it affords twice the opportunity for sacrilege; or, being a little more charitable, because it places Jesus twice over in their power, which is also why they are obsessed with the mere (conditional) privilege of receiving in the hand, rather than the right of kneeling and on the tongue...it's about "me" it's about "power" it's about "hubris."

    AMDG

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  14. Mark:

    you might find this interesting...go here

    http://randomfandomredsoxnyc.blogspot.com/

    and scroll down just a little until you come to "Upon Return To My Parish After The Traditional Latin Mass." It's a little piece by a Catholic who usually goes to the Novus Ordo Missae, but decided to try the real thing. I like him because he's a Red Sox fan. No, I don't know him and I have never contacted him and NO I do not go to an SSPX chapel and NO I never have and NO I never will. I too suffer the agony of the NO Mass since we moved and left the indult parish we used to go to.

    JMJ

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  15. Hi, Simon-Peter.

    I do recognize that there is malice on the part of some in these affairs. I can't deny that. If I didn't know David, I might suspect it on his part.

    The deacon, on the other hand, I do not know. The sad evidence does not speak well. At the same time, I don't know his understanding. So I can certainly reject what he says and does, but I can't speak to the why. Frankly, I don't need to. As you said, his words and actions were objectively wrong.

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  16. Simon-Peter:

    I also know that what the Deacon did was wrong. I'm simply attempting to get his supporters to admit that he caused something, even though they don't see it for what it is.

    Thank you for your support of the Latin Mass. My husband and I are praying that one will come available in our parish. That is, one that is in line with the Holy See. :o]

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  17. I forgot to mention that Anita is absolutely correct—the thought that anyone could label Mark as unChristian is absolutely absurd.

    And one more thought before I leave for work: God chooses His moments carefully. Our parish has been languishing spiritually for some time due to misguided attempts at inclusiveness that have actually resulted in taking Christ away from the center of our worship. I believe the Deacon's *homily* was meant to be a polarizing event, to open conversation and, I pray, open some eyes to the abuses that have been occurring for so many years.

    Throughout the world, the lines between RIGHT and wrong are becoming clearer and clearer every day. I believe God is asking us to make a choice, and that He has appointed our beloved German Shepherd to lead us back in the right direction.

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  18. Well Joan...have you heard about the Deacon incident in Buffalo?

    Amy Wellborn is all over it, and it gets a mention on CWN too.

    Astonishing reaction from the Bishop.

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  19. Theocoid wrote:

    Third, you haven't yet accepted that the deacon mentioned the possibility of a second reformation at the 8:00 Mass.

    Actually, that was what he said to me after mass. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

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  20. Simon-Peter,

    Fascinating events in Buffalo, thanks for the mention. I still haven't found what CWN had to say about it...

    and thanks for the item from the Red Sox fan, and the book recommends!

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  21. Simon-Peter,

    Try "Christ the Life of the Soul" by Columba Marmion, and "The Spiritual Secrets of a Trappist Monk"...can't recall the author but it's published by Ignatius

    I just ordered the first (ex libris from Mt Angel Seminary, no less), but don't find the second. Can you provide an ISBN#

    thanks for the suggestions.

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  22. Hello,

    and here are the details for the other book.

    Spiritual Secrets of a Trappist Monk
    Father M. Raymond OCSO
    (originally published 1957, entitled "You.")

    Sophia Press, 2000.
    ISBN 1-928832-07-5

    www.sophiainstitute.com
    1-800-888-9344

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  23. Coincidentally, I read the following over the weekend:

    "If, then, we genuflect to the tabernacle in which the Blessed Sacrament is reserved and treat our Communions as the most solemn moments of our day, then equally we must hold in reverence every simple soul in a state of grace, the souls of others and our own."
    from The Abiding Presence of the Holy Ghost in the Soul
    Bede Jarrett, O.P.
    first published in 1918

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  24. Tom,

    I can agree with Bede Jarrett, and this is not an easy task, but one worth pursuing, and going beyond to the level, that the love for our neighbor we are commanded to have, is the love of God for our neighbor; our neigbor being the one we will spend eternity with in heaven (should we get there). Since our "neighbor" today may be the most foul of sinners (of which I can say I once was and by God's grace and strength, hope I am no longer, may he save me from myself), then it becomes easier to love this neighbor as God has loved me; and to him my heart goes out.

    But... let us both genuflect to the Living God.

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