Tag Archives: Humility

Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Sincerity ≠ Justification edition)

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Last Summer, a dear reader who is way too good to me had me take a picture of one of her large flowering plants, saying that it would be good as one of the “Flowers for the Immaculate Conception” editions.

“But it’s a tall plant with seven-fold fingery green leaves that look like marijuana!” I objected.

“It’s not marijuana!” she said.

“But, but…” I objected.

“Grrrr…” she said.

So I put it up:

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What do I know about marijuana? Nothing. Would my guardian angel smack me down for giving marijuana to Mary? I put it up. No one knew the name of this plant. Such a risk! But then, recently (though now well past my birthday) this wonderful reader gave me the card pictured above with this message inside:

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Haha! A CLEOME! NOT marijuana. I’m happy to have given that flower to the Immaculate Conception. But what if it had been marijuana, would my sincere gift have been rejected by Mary. No. Not in this case. Because it’s neither here nor there as regards morality. It’s merely the intention that counts in this case.

But a question arises: Does sincerity equal justification in all cases?

This is a question which came up in class from a young seminarian classmate of young seminarian Joseph Ratzinger. His fellow student asked whether or not Hitler could go to heaven justified by his at least self-perceived sincerity to assist humanity in having a “final solution” for “purifying the race.” Young Joseph was appalled and sickened by the question, and says that that was when he instantly understood with the clarity of a lightning bolt that sincerity doesn’t justify, an erroneous conscience doesn’t justify, feelings and emotions do not justify. Only the sanctifying grace provided to us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ justifies, coming to us, as it does, with supernaturally provided faith, hope and charity. We are not our own saviors by way of our own self-congratulation.

When I read: “It’s a CLEOME!” I laughed out loud for happiness that it wasn’t marijuana that I gave to Mary. The prayer of this reader is that of Mary herself for all of us:

“May Our Lord Jesus Christ bless you and keep you in His loving arms.”

Hitler will never come to know that his monstrousness was, after all, something good. No.

  • You can have a mistaken conscience and still go straight to hell. And, on this point, there is such a thing as purposed ignorance. The hell of that ignorance is not bliss.
  • You can have all the sincerity in your own eyes you want and still go straight to hell where all the wax filling in the holes of conscience will melt and reveal the ugliness that is there. [“Sincere” means “without wax”, that is, because something (say, restored furniture) doesn’t need to fake that it’s perfect because it already is perfect, without blemish, and therefore without wax: it’s “sincere.”].
  • You can have all the self-pleasing feelings and emotions you want and still go straight to hell. Did you know that feeling and emotions are fallen with the rest of our human nature? Ever once notice that? They don’t follow reason after original sin. It’s takes only the slightest bit of humility and reality to take note of that.

Speaking of humility, which is provided to us with God’s love, is that which will enable one to avoid that kind of self-congratulation which would have us claim that we’re justified by ignorance, by an erroneous conscience. Saint Paul says that we have God’s law written in our hearts, that which is called the Natural Law, that which is written into our nature by our Creator. Example: Thou shalt not murder the innocent. We can’t claim ignorance. We know that. It’s arrogance, a lust for power over God which would have one claim that murdering the innocent is just fine and dandy in all of one’s sincerity. It doesn’t work that way.

So, this flower is once again given to the Immaculate Conception, Jesus’ good mom. She saw, with horror, all of our own self-justification, our ignoring of her Son even while He redeemed us on the Cross, tortured to death, taking our place, the Innocent for the guilty. “It’s better that one man die than that a whole nation perish” shouted the High Priest Caiaphas. And so did we all. And Mary saw it all…. A flower for you, Mary. Thank you for being in solidarity with your Son right to the end. Thank you for being a mother to us in your solidarity with your Son’s purpose of justifiying us with His love, His forgiveness, His goodness and kindness, His Truth.

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What makes mass shooters tick?

Upshot, as it were: Help the police do their job in this dangerous world.

There were warning signs about the shooter: Ignored, of course. The Canadians want to think that everyone is nice all the time. How dare we ever even insinuate that someone might not be nice. Everyone is entitled to be thought of as being nice! And then tantrums and hissy fits ensue. Just like in these USA these days.

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The upshot of that ignorance: train up not only to see the warning signs but to act on them. It’s called situational awareness. But it’s not as easy as all that. Quick and easy solutions are usually the fast road to death and grieving. Sure, arm the police. Sure, pay attention to the guy who says he wants to kill people. Easy. Do that. But those aren’t the only things.

For instance, what about the Stephen Paddock or whatever his name is, who shot up Las Vegas? To this day “no one knows the motive.” Really? Cowards! How does one get people to face reality? See my rant on the cowardice of some of our intel community:

Stephen Paddock’s motivation and our motivation in not finding his motivation

Humility. Humility. Humility. Start with oneself. Sure, we all have unrepeatable circumstances by which – right now anyway – none of us would do those terrible things. But that’s an occasion for us to congratulate ourselves to the point where we don’t know that by so doing we give ourselves a licence to do those very things. Ah, the irony of it. People are afraid of irony. It’s too hard hitting. It’s offensive. It’s to be dismissed as literary trickery. And because of that arrogance that we are all better than the rest of men, people will die either because we won’t catch out those who are murderous or we ourselves will fall into that violence. Impossible, you say? Just following “orders” you say? Where have we heard that before by people who have congratulated themselves? It happens more quickly than you think.

Solution (in case you missed it): Look at the link about Stephen Paddock above.

No, really! Click.

hilaire bellocAnd if you fail to understand irony. Think of Jesus on the Cross, standing in our place, the Innocent for guilty, He bearing the weight of our evil, becoming like a mirror of our evil. And now, with that in mind, read over this frightening bit on irony from the great Hilaire Belloc:

“To the young, the pure, and the ingenuous, irony must always appear to have a quality of something evil, and so it has, for […] it is a sword to wound. It is so directly the product or reflex of evil that, though it can never be used – nay, can hardly exist – save in the chastisement of evil, yet irony always carries with it some reflections of the bad spirit against which it was directed. […] It suggests most powerfully the evil against which it is directed, and those innocent of evil shun so terrible an instrument. […] The mere truth is vivid with ironical power […] when the mere utterance of a plain truth labouriously concealed by hypocrisy, denied by contemporary falsehood, and forgotten in the moral lethargy of the populace, takes upon itself an ironical quality more powerful than any elaboration of special ironies could have taken in the past. […] No man possessed of irony and using it has lived happily; nor has any man possessing it and using it died without having done great good to his fellows and secured a singular advantage to his own soul.”

[Hilaire Belloc, “On Irony” (pages 124-127; Penguin books 1325. Selected Essays (2/6), edited by J.B. Morton; Harmondsworth – Baltimore – Mitcham 1958).]

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When getting wings can invite danger (Jesus & day-off target practicing)

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Being a concealed carrier requires one to be frosty and well-practiced on so very very many levels. Longtime readers know that for me, part of this involves using the pre-2001 Federal Air Marshal tactical pistol course. For quite a while I would, once a week, on my “day off,” race through this course a couple of times and then chase off to do other things. I was encouraged by our new Very Rev. Vicar Forane of the Smoky Mountain Vicariate to take this a bit more seriously. Where else in the world would this be the case? I love it. He’s an extremely good shot according to his father, who’s an extremely good shot. So, yesterday, I took a chunk of time to do some drills and then go through the FAM course a bunch of times. My scores, after some drills mind you, are as follows:

  • 79.3% – fail
  • 86.6% – fail
  • 88% – fail
  • 94% – pass
  • 94% – pass (but really fail because I was a bit over-time on one stage)
  • 94% -pass

That 94% is a bit stubborn. But hey! A challenge to get 95 and even 100. I like it.

A Federal Air Marshal (pre-2001) needed to pass the course every time, at any time, cold. That’s the difference, which is important. I’m sure the original FAMs could hit their own bullet holes well within the time limits for each stage every time, cold, thus gaining their wings, that is, permission to get aboard a flight that day. It’s like they could pass the course by shooting it out while walking by without breaking their pace. With me, really trying hard, practicing, doing drills, I barely pass as many times as I fail. And… and… I’m definitely not shooting all bullets through the first bullet hole. No.

If I were to think I’m a good shot, that would be dangerous, as I would be overconfident in a critical incident and that would never be good for anyone. A little humility goes a long way. It’s what really keeps you frosty. Humility, humility, humility.

Let’s do an analogy with the spiritual life. There are two ways:

  • The way of humility, as a child, in humble thanksgiving for our salvation in Christ Jesus, depending on His strength, walking in His friendship, His goodness and kindness.
  • The way of thinking one has come into one’s own, you know, staying away from any serious sin for a long time, being virtuous, even “balanced”, courteous, nice, and that therefore one doesn’t need Jesus, because now one is self-referential, self-congratulatory, self-absorbed, neo-Pelagian, even Promethean. And then, with all that overconfidence, there is the fall as it is already a fall in and of itself. One may as well just have one’s liver eaten out every day:

PROMETHEUS

Humility keeps one frosty. Humility is not one’s gift to oneself. Humility comes from Jesus, whether in regard to the spiritual life or that which is as mundane as target practice. Being without humility in either case can be deadly. In both cases, in the spiritual life and being a concealed carrier, one needs to walk in friendship with Jesus.

If you ask your guardian angel for assistance, he will arrange for the necessary. But just be warned, he will take your request seriously. Trust in Jesus.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (putting up with it edition)

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception? Not an easy life at all, getting poked and prodded and made to deliver sweetness at any and all times for monstrous creatures, who steal all one’s good work, who do so with spikes and claws and ghastly, threatening eyes. That’s all part of it. But, for the Immaculate Conception, it’s all worth deepened humility, tested patience. One’s moment in the sun will come with no monsters round about. Just the Son, her Son, the Son of the Immaculate Conception.

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Dear Michael Voris: “Don’t let the b******* get you down!”

Michael Voris: I see Jesus written all over your statement. Yes, we’ve all crucified the Son of the Living God with our sins. None of us is any better than anyone else. Jesus grabs us out of the quagmire. He fills us with grace. He makes us His soldiers in the Church Militant. It’s all about Jesus. If anyone doesn’t think so, and condemns you, I think they might just take on the guilt of your sins themselves, regardless of their own sins. Instead, for what you’ve said here, you have my total respect. You have my prayers and blessings. And, just a bit of advice, which was told to me by a priest who is a hero of mine: “Don’t let the b******* get you down!” – Father George David Byers

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