Eyes on Christ
Pray without ceasing, know what we know of Christ's full revelation, do what we know Christ calls us to do, trust Jesus our sweet Christ with wild abandon and all will be well for us as we look to the dawn of eternal day.
We go where we look. This is true whether we are hiking up a mountain, cycling down a curvy canyon, or canoeing cataracts ... and right now it rather feels like we are doing all three. If I get distracted by an eagle soaring above, I trip on the rocks and tumble off into the great abyss. If I gaze gobsmacked at the sand strewn across the road in a tight curve, I end up bloody on the roadside, rubber side up. If I stare in horror at the foaming rapids and churning waters around boulders and beneath the fallen tree, I am blind to finding the way through and end up churned up and spit out from those foaming waters. There is much that can harm or kill us, but if we make it our consuming focus, we ensure it becomes reality, for we are blind to seeing the way through. Christ. Christ is always the way through, even, especially, with global cabals castrating constitutions. See the dangers and recognize them, but do not make them your focus lest you succumb to them. For to gaze into the abyss of sin opens you to become as Nietzsche, susceptible to the temptations of interacting with the abyss of sin gazing back into you. This is why Jesus warns us against ever entertaining sin, even when it proclaims things that are true.
Our souls go where we look. In these confusing times, where should our souls look?
For me, I start by posting this instead of the thousands of writings, both written and storming about my head, about the various and specific discords between Christ's fully revealed Truth in Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the lives and writings of the Saints and Church. I post this instead of responding to the things too many of our modern shepherds are doing and saying. I post this instead of responding to the global cabal that has castrated our Constitution, or the in/actions taken by those sworn to uphold it, or responding to so many other things ...
... none of which are Christ. See how that happens? The rapids? They just appear and we instinctively focus on them. Instead, see the rapids, recognize the rapids, but do not focus on them enough that our sight truncates to see nothing but the rapids. Christ. Focus on Christ. Now, where is He? Where am I?
Finding Christ. In my readings of the Saints, they have shown me a simple way to lift our eyes toward Jesus our sweet Christ:
- Pray without ceasing,
- know what we know of Christ's full revelation,
- do what we know Christ calls us to do,
- trust Jesus our sweet Christ with wild abandon and all will be well for us as we look to the dawn of eternal day.
These are simple, but that means they take a lifetime to learn. Allow me to share with you some of what I've learned about them.
1. Pray without ceasing,
We are sinners and we sin. A powerful way to prepare to pray without ceasing is to confess our sins. The Gospels reveal that sin makes us deaf, blind, dumb, and stupid. It is hard to pray well when our soul is deaf, blind, dumb, and stupid. We tend to miss a lot.
Only God can forgive sins. Before Jesus our Christ (meaning Savior), the capacity to forgive sins was never enfleshed. Jesus, having all authority in heaven and on earth, bestowed the power to forgive sins upon His Most Holy Catholic Church. Therefore ...
Go to confession. You'll pray better and live better, and by God's grace will live for eternity rather than die for eternity.
Attend Mass. Mass is the source and summit of our faith and thus a beautiful weekly foundation for praying without ceasing. No excuses, pandemic or otherwise. The virus isn't what “they,” the global cabal, say it is, and the evidence of that is all around and obvious, and thus invisible to too many. Yes, masks are effective in a perfect scenario for a few minutes, but those conditions do not exist in the real world in which people wear masks; thus mask wearing promotes virus-friendly behaviors such as manipulating a contaminated mask. We are fearing a virus that can never harm our eternal soul and taking ineffectual actions against the virus that very well may harm our eternal soul, such as falsely believing virtual Mass is interchangeable with attending Mass.
If you are unable to attend Mass for deep and legitimate reasons, hunger for Christ in the Eucharist, and ask to receive Holy Communion in your home.
Year (2021 Liturgical Year) of Saint Joseph and Plenary Indulgence
Unsure what blocks you from being able to pray without ceasing? Saint Joseph is a wondrous Saint to turn to for help in any endeavor ... in my experiences of praying to him (which for us Catholics means praying to him to petition God on my behalf, not praying to him as we Catholics pray to God).
Expiation of punishment for all sins already confessed? Yes please. Here is the declaration.
King David wrote the Psalms for times of challenge to the soul, to turn us from our depths of despair toward Christ, so we can pray without ceasing. Saint Augustine described the Psalms as a conversation between Jesus and The Father: sometimes as Jesus the incarnate son, sometimes as Jesus the eternal Word, sometimes as Jesus in the anguished pilgrim souls of we the faithful, and sometimes as all of the above, integrated, to show us what it means to be fully human (Commentary on the Psalms). The Psalms are beautiful to pray in any language, but stunning to pray in Latin. I recommend praying all 150 of them. For those praying the Novus Ordo Liturgy of the Hours, you aren't, by the way, praying all 150 Psalms, for it gelds them.
How does one pray the Psalms? There are four beautiful ways to pray the Psalms.
Read the Psalms:
As simple as it seems, the Psalms are in the Bible, just waiting to be prayed.
Psalms: The Rosary
If you pray the original three mysteries of the Rosary, you have prayed the Psalms (50 Hail Marys x three mysteries = 150 Psalms). This makes perfect sense when we realize that the Psalms are Christ in conversation with our Father. The mysteries of the Rosary are the life and ministry, passion and victory of Christ. Contemplatively and mystically, to pray one is to pray the other.
Psalms: Liturgy of the Hours
Released in the 1970s, the Novus Ordo Liturgy of the Hours (LoH) is the foundational liturgy of the Church. Redesigned to make the previous Divine Office accessible for laity and take less time for clergy (who vow to pray it daily), the current LoH spreads the Psalms out over four weeks rather than one and removes over a hundred versus of Psalms because they are “psychologically difficult.” The General Instruction of the current LoH states that the removal of these Psalms is because they are imprecatory — stating that God hates sin and thus, on the last day, will curse sinners (General Instruction, Vol. 1, p. 64. #131.). These Psalms removed from the LoH also state that we are to hate and curse sin in ourselves and aid others in fighting sin, for we are called to hate what God hates and love what God loves. Oh! How psychology has gelded our shepherding! Oh. Right. Breathe deep. See the rapids. Recognize them. Look for the way through. Christ. Christ is always the way through.
LoH is great for growing and deepening in faith to the point that one hungers for more than milk. For deep sustenance, look to...
Psalms: Breviarium Romanum:
There is a flow and wondrous beauty to praying the Divine Office in the same form the Church has for two-thousand years. The Latin Breviarium infuses a wisdom for praying the Psalms in a weekly rhythm, connected with prayers over a thousand years old in many cases, with ancient hymns. It is like moving to spiritual solid food. The more you pray the LoH, the more you will find greater satiation praying the Roman Breviary in Latin.
Much is written on the web on how to pray the Roman Breviary. I plan to post a review on the two primary Roman Breviaries available. The first is from (Baronius Press (in Great Britain), which offers side-by-side Latin-English and has commentary descriptions spread throughout. This version is excellent for learning Latin and rapidly checking understanding. The second is from Nova & Vetera (in Germany), which is all Latin and looks to have a simpler flow due to no commentary et al. Because of COVID, my set is on a boat from Europe to America, and since I am in the western United States, likely going through the Panama Canal. What weird symptoms for a virus to cause! Oh. Right. Breathe deep. See the rapids. Recognize them. Look for the way through. Christ. Always, Christ. Both these Breviaries are pricy, however, and require various flipping, as any physical Divine Office book does.
If you find yourself able to pray on a screen (I find a meditative depth to praying with leather and wood pulp that is absent from silicon), there are a number of phone apps.
2. Know what we know of Christ's full revelation,
We know a lot. We forget that we know a lot. We forget that we cannot run more deeply into Christ's full revelation, in continuity of truth, without knowing what we already know.
First, understand the path toward Christ revealed through the lives and writings of the Saints, as well as Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Fear of God begets the hunger to know God which begets loving God which begets serving God which begets uniting one's will with God's. We don't move from one to the other, for if we lose fear of the Lord, knowing that He is our creator and we are helpless without him and without him we are doomed to eternal night at our death, then we cannot know, love, serve, or unite with the Lord either.
Praying the Psalms, as above, already is a huge start to coming to know God. To this we need only add the rest of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the lives and writings of the Saints. Here are a few bite-sized portions:
- Read aloud the daily Gospel and a solid commentary on it. I recommend either the Navarre Bible or the Catena Aurea, or both over time. This gives a solid foundation of all three areas. The Saints quoted in a good commentary are those who aided in defining Sacred Tradition. Everything we do, should always be in concert with the Truth.
- Read both the Catechism of the Council of Trent and the modern Catechism of the Catholic Church.
- Turn off the TV. Instead, read works by the Doctors of the Church. Pick one — or five. Dive in. Persist. Be puzzled. Be baffled. Read on anyway. Don't get bogged down, just keep reading. Pray for the grace to have it make sense. Sweat, persist, pray, read, be puzzled, and one day ... Wow! Is he saying ...? will pop into your head and you'll keep reading and realize he indeed is saying “...” . Not only that, but you'll read another work and realize she says it also, in a different way. It's all good ... but is it ... the best good?
- Join a Halo. Talking with others who share the journey is how we become saints. Saints come in clusters (have you ever noticed?). Find or create a cluster and get to pilgrimin'!
3. Do what we know Christ calls us to do,
Jesus says, “My yoke is easy, my burden light.” Isn't that nuts? Not at all, actually. We exist because of Jesus. Should we be blessed and saved, it will be by Jesus. Jesus knows how to get things done — things bigger than I've ever thunked or will thinked. In fact, this is so true, that wherever I am burdened, frustrated and bearing a heavy load — I know I am doing it wrong. Very wrong. Bearing sin's yoke rather than Christ's yoke is heavy and wrong.
Start simple (again, all things simple are ... hard). The Saints describe the journey toward Christ as a step-by-step climb up a latter. Choosing the best good you can see, rise up a wee bit, which gives a better view. Then take the next rung by choosing the best good you can see, rising a wee bit, and so on toward infinite goodness that we can't ever reach but for the grace and aid of Jesus our sweet Christ.
Vocation as Foundation to Christ's Call
Primary Vocation: Are you married? Then be the best, most humble, most loving, most bold husband or wife, father or mother, you can possibly be. Not sure what that means? Read Proverbs, Sirach, Song of Songs, and Saint Paul. I could tell you where, but muscles grow with the journey. One step at a time. Know what you know about your vocation, assess how you are doing at the most basic aspects of it, and, amazingly, the rest becomes clear from there. Whatever your primary vocation, these general principles apply.
Breath of God: God breathes into each of us at the moment of our conception a unique breath, that has a unique expression of God that only we can share with the world ... it is our soul and it gives us our humanity and our immortality (you did know we're immortal, right?). God gives you as part of this breath, in addition to your gender and primary vocation, passions, both for vocations (writer, carpenter, banker, etc) and their accompanying skills, but also for aiding in building some aspect of God's kingdom, here and now. Talk with your Halo about this (hint: if married, your spouse is your primary Halo ... after all you're one flesh!).
Reason: Reason is called by Saint Gregory of Nyssa “the highest faculty of the soul”. Learn reason. It's no longer taught well, if at all, to most of us. Reading the writings above will go a looong way to aiding in forming your reason, but learning it in specific will be a tremendous asset to learning and applying God's wondrous beauty of Truth to your every step.
4. Trust Jesus our sweet Christ with wild abandon, and all will be well for us as we look to the dawn of eternal day.
Jesus does what He says He will do. Period. End of discussion. Except for the discussion of what Jesus says. Grin.
What does Jesus say he will do? Save all who know Him and whom He knows. How does that happen? Read above.
Wild abandon? Yup. No matter the tumult of the storm about us, trust that Jesus, awake in our soul's boat, will still the waters and we will arrive at the shores of eternity at the rising of the sun of eternity, the dawning of eternal paradise. That is certain hope, and the only hope there really is.
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