Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Power corrupts...

Sir John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton is most famously known for his oft-quoted 
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

A Catholic who was a member of the House of Commons in Great Britain's Parliament, Sir John had a great affection for historic research and the history of liberty in particular. In the USA presidential election year focus we hear and see examples of his quote play out repeatedly. 

In his homily, Msgr. Pope teaches us about the Biblical Warning on the Nature of Centralized Government in I Samuel 8 when the Jews begged for a king to be appointed over them. I highly recommend reading this.

Some fruitful thoughts for this coming election.

“When you break the big laws, you do not get liberty; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws.” Indeed, we get thousands of lesser laws." GK Chesterton  

Be careful what you wish for... or who you vote for.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Paradox of God's Power

Msgr. Pope has excellent teachings on his blog. He is able to relate the most complex concepts into language easily understood by the average person. Enjoy! (apologies for the formatting difficulties).

Stir Up Your Power and Come, Lord! An Advent Meditation on the Paradox of God’s Power 
Msgr. Charles Pope • December 16, 2015   
One of the great cries of Advent is for God to rend the heavens and come down (Is 64:1), for Him to stir up his mighty power and come to save us (Ps 80:2). But what is it that we really seek? Is it armies with thunder and lightning? Is it vindication and peace on our terms? In a way, it is a dangerous cry if we mean it that way, for who of us can say that no wrath should come to us but only to those other people who deserve it? If God should come in thunderous judgement, are you and I really so sure we could endure and be numbered among the just?
It is clear that we need the Lord to save us, but is that salvation seen only in earthly terms where salvation is from my enemies and I myself remain largely unharmed?
In the final essay of volume 11 of his collected works (which I just finished reading), Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict) ponders a similar Advent theme. I’d like to present his reflections, and add a few of my own. In a sermon from December 2003, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger taught,
Stir up your might O Lord and come! This was the cry of Israel in exile … this was the cry of the disciples on the Sea of Galilee [in the storm] “Wake up O Lord and help us!” … And throughout all of history, the little bark of the Church travels in stormy waters … Stir up your might and come!… What really is this might of God that seems to be asleep and must be wakened? St. Paul gives the answer in 1 Corinthians when he says that Christ the Crucified One, who is foolishness and weakness to men, is the wisdom and power of God.Therefore, when we ask for this real power of God, we are not asking for more money for the Church, for more buildings, for more structures, for more political influence. We are praying for this special, entirely different power of God. We are praying with the awareness that he comes in a powerful way that seems to the world to be weakness and foolishness (Joseph Ratzinger, Collected Works, Vol 11: 595-596).
Yes, here is the paradox of God’s power: He defeats Satan’s pride by the humility of His Son; disobedience and the refusal to be under any authority are defeated by the obedience and submission of Jesus.
Once stirred, God’s power will not always—or even often—manifest itself in thunder and lightning or in armies that shatter and destroy. Rather, His “strong and outstretched arm” is often found nailed and bloody on the cross. Yet here, and in this way, he defeats Satan. How? Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hatred cannot drive out hatred; only love can do that. And pride cannot drive out pride; only humility can do that.
And thus the Lord defeats Satan; not by the becoming a bigger, fiercer, more vengeful version of Satan, but by canceling Satan’s grievous stance with its opposite. It is the Lord’s refusal to meet Satan’s terms, to become anything like him or in any way enter his world. In this way, the Lord conquers pride with humility and hate with love. I am mindful of some of the words from an old hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”
See from His head, His hands, His feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down! Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown?The hymn concludes with these words:Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Cardinal Ratzinger continues his essay as follows:He does not come with military divisions; he comes instead with a wounded heart that apparently has nothing more to say, yet then proves to be the true and wholly other power and might of God.
This paradox should challenge us mightily, because it means that God’s help will often not be on our terms. We would like to have every foe vanquished and every harmful sorrow of our life removed. No cross at all; just stir up your power Lord and take it all away. But that is not usually how God’s power stirs in this “paradise lost,” which we chose by our own ratification of Adam and Eve’s sinful choice. We preferred a tree and its fruit to God and He does not cancel our choice. Instead, He plants the tree of the Cross and saves us by the very suffering and death we chose in the ancient Garden of Eden.
Here is God’s true power at work in this sin-soaked and rebellious world: the power of Cross. And if you didn’t know what you were asking for when praying, “Stir up your power, Lord, and come to save us,” now you do. We might prefer that God save us on our terms, by the mere vanquishing of our foes and the removal of our suffering, but (as St. Paul teaches) power is made perfect in weakness; it is when we are weak that we are strong, for then the power of God rests on us (cf 2 Cor 12:9-10).
Cardinal Ratzinger then sets forth the challenge of this prayer for us:[Hence our true declaration is] “Lord wake us up from our drowsiness in which we are incapable of perceiving you, in which we conceal and impede the coming of your holy power.… Christianity is not a moral system in which we may merely roll up our sleeves and change the world. We see in the movements that have promised us a better world how badly that turns out!… But [on the other hand] Christians are not merely spectators … rather [the Lord] involves us; he desires to be efficacious in and through us … And so the in this cry we pray to him for ourselves and allow our own hearts to be touched: Your power is in us, rouse it and help us not to be an obstacle to it, but, rather, its witnesses [to its] vital strength.
That may well mean suffering, martyrdom, and loss. It may not, and often does not, mean that God will simply vanquish our foes and remove all our suffering. In this world the saving remedy is the Cross; not just for others but for us, too. On Good Friday, Christ looked like a “loser.” Satan and the world danced. But on Sunday, the Lord got up. Friday was first, Saturday lingered, and then came Sunday. As for Christ, so also for us: always carrying in our body the death of Jesus, so that also the life of Jesus may be manifested in us (2 Cor 4:10). The victory will come but it comes through the paradoxical power of the Cross.
Does this Advent reflection sound too much like Lent for you? Why do you think we are wearing purple?Now pray with me (but be sure to understand what you are asking): Stir up your power, Lord, and come to save us!Here is the common Psalm for Advent: Lord make us turn to you, let us see your face and we shall be saved.
http://blog.adw.org/2015/12/stir-up-your-power-and-come-lord-an-advent-meditation-on-the-paradox-of-gods-power/ 

Monday, November 16, 2015

We are upholding those in Paris in prayer. May the hearts of the violent be converted to the peace of Jesus.

We are putting in tilling time in the garden. For us in New Zealand we are coming quickly into spring weather. We are thankful for the opportunity to live free and to practice our faith when so many in the world are fleeing their homes, their countries because of persecution. May God send his angels to protect them.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Preparing for winter

The bees have started their winter syrup to sustain them in the cold months. We are to have a colder than usual winter this year according to the almanac and the fattening of the squirrels and chipmunks verify that. The animals too are growing coats much thicker than usual. 

We pray for travelling mercies for Pope Francis as he traverses Cuba and the USA. Most certainly his job is difficult at best and draining at worst. May the Holy Spirit sustain him.

There is an issue causing division among religious groups since June. Even among the liberal factions and groups, there are those who support Biblical marriage and refuse to be bullied or manipulated by the homosexual lobbies. Our faith is based upon Biblical Truth and Tradition and cannot be changed.

May God bless your day and your night.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

True Trust, True Wealth, True Security and God's Wisdom

Proverbs 3Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

Admonition to Trust and Honor God

3
My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments;
for length of days and years of life
    and abundant welfare will they give you.
Let not loyalty and faithfulness forsake you;
    bind them about your neck,
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good repute[a]
    in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh[b]
    and refreshment[c] to your bones.
Honor the Lord with your substance
    and with the first fruits of all your produce;
10 
then your barns will be filled with plenty,
    and your vats will be bursting with wine.
11 
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
    or be weary of his reproof,
12 
for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
    as a father the son in whom he delights.

The True Wealth

13 
Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
    and the man who gets understanding,
14 
for the gain from it is better than gain from silver
    and its profit better than gold.
15 
She is more precious than jewels,
    and nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 
Long life is in her right hand;
    in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
    and all her paths are peace.
18 
She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
    those who hold her fast are called happy.

God’s Wisdom in Creation

19 
The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
    by understanding he established the heavens;
20 
by his knowledge the deeps broke forth,
    and the clouds drop down the dew.

The True Security

21 
My son, keep sound wisdom and discretion;
    let them not escape from your sight,[d]
22 
and they will be life for your soul
    and adornment for your neck.
23 
Then you will walk on your way securely
    and your foot will not stumble.
24 
If you sit down,[e] you will not be afraid;
    when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 
Do not be afraid of sudden panic,
    or of the ruin[f] of the wicked, when it comes;
26 
for the Lord will be your confidence
    and will keep your foot from being caught.
27 
Do not withhold good from those to whom it[g] is due,
    when it is in your power to do it.
28 
Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again,
    tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.
29 
Do not plan evil against your neighbor
    who dwells trustingly beside you.
30 
Do not contend with a man for no reason,
    when he has done you no harm.
31 
Do not envy a man of violence
    and do not choose any of his ways;
32 
for the perverse man is an abomination to the Lord,
    but the upright are in his confidence.
33 
The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
    but he blesses the abode of the righteous.
34 
Toward the scorners he is scornful,
    but to the humble he shows favor.
35 
The wise will inherit honor,
    but fools get[h] disgrace.

Footnotes:

  1. Proverbs 3:4 Cn: Heb understanding
  2. Proverbs 3:8 Heb navel
  3. Proverbs 3:8 Or medicine
  4. Proverbs 3:21 Reversing the order of the clauses
  5. Proverbs 3:24 Gk: Heb lie down
  6. Proverbs 3:25 Heb storm
  7. Proverbs 3:27 Heb Do not withhold good from its owners
  8. Proverbs 3:35 Cn: Heb exalt

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Psalm 37

God is mightier than man-made laws: God will not be mocked. Let us continue to place our trust in God, persevere in our discipleship, and He will act.

Psalm 37 Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition 


Exhortation to Patience and Trust

A Psalm of David.

Fret not yourself because of the wicked,

    be not envious of wrongdoers!
2 For they will soon fade like the grass,
    and wither like the green herb.
3 Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your vindication as the light,
    and your right as the noonday.
7 Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over him who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices!
8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
    Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9 For the wicked shall be cut off;
    but those who wait for the Lord shall possess the land.
10 Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more;
    though you look well at his place, he will not be there.
11 But the meek shall possess the land,
    and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.
12 The wicked plots against the righteous,
    and gnashes his teeth at him;
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
    for he sees that his day is coming.
14 The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows,
    to bring down the poor and needy,
    to slay those who walk uprightly;
15 their sword shall enter their own heart,
    and their bows shall be broken.
16 Better is a little that the righteous has
    than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken;
    but the Lord upholds the righteous.
18 The Lord knows the days of the blameless,
    and their heritage will abide for ever;
19 they are not put to shame in evil times,
    in the days of famine they have abundance.
20 But the wicked perish;
    the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures,
    they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.
21 The wicked borrows, and cannot pay back,
    but the righteous is generous and gives;
22 for those blessed by the Lord shall possess the land,
    but those cursed by him shall be cut off.
23 The steps of a man are from the Lord,
    and he establishes him in whose way he delights;
24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
    for the Lord is the stay of his hand.
25 I have been young, and now am old;
    yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
    or his children begging bread.
26 He is ever giving liberally and lending,
    and his children become a blessing.
27 Depart from evil, and do good;
    so shall you abide for ever.
28 For the Lord loves justice;
    he will not forsake his saints.
The righteous shall be preserved for ever,
    but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall possess the land,
    and dwell upon it for ever.
30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
    and his tongue speaks justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
    his steps do not slip.
32 The wicked watches the righteous,
    and seeks to slay him.
33 The Lord will not abandon him to his power,
    or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.
34 Wait for the Lord, and keep to his way,
    and he will exalt you to possess the land;
    you will look on the destruction of the wicked.
35 I have seen a wicked man overbearing,
    and towering like a cedar of Lebanon.[a]
36 Again I[b] passed by, and lo, he was no more;
    though I sought him, he could not be found.
37 Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright,
    for there is posterity for the man of peace.
38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
    the posterity of the wicked shall be cut off.
39 The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
    he is their refuge in the time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and delivers them;
    he delivers them from the wicked, and saves them,
    because they take refuge in him.
Footnotes:

Psalm 37:35 Gk: Heb obscure

Psalm 37:36 Gk Syr Jerome: Heb he
Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1965, 1966 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.




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