Angels Resigned and Sullen

A 7 Quick Takes post as hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler at her Conversion Diary blog.

“Those who, to please their listeners, avoid giving a forthright declaration of the will of God become the slaves of those they would please, and abandon the service of God.” — St. Basil the Great

This week my former Presbyterian denomination voted to allow their pastors to perform same sex “weddings” in states where such activity is legal. I’m sure there are a large number of those who remain affiliated with the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) who are strongly opposed to this move and are doing a lot of anguished soul searching regarding their future journey in faith. I personally went through that same experience at a much earlier stage in the PCUSAs self-destructive process and I sympathize greatly. I’m also grateful that, as a Catholic, my faith isn’t something held up to a vote every two years with all the uncertainty and instability associated with such practice. Please pray for those faithful Christians adversely affected by this sadly misguided vote.

“There is one more thing: I may be interested in Oriental religions, etc., but there can be no obscuring the essential difference—this personal communion with Christ at the center and heart of all reality, as a source of grace and life.” Thomas Merton

As much as he was involved with the peace movement and Oriental spiritualities, especially in the last years of his life, a careful reading of Merton will nearly always provide a reminder that he never forgot or abandoned “the essential difference” between Catholicism and those other paths. I think that’s forgotten far too often and allows Merton to be used as an excuse for almost any diversion from the truth. That’s a shame.

The work with the clarinet is proceeding apace. I’ve now had the third or fourth lesson and am learning to produce a more or less real clarinet sound and refreshing my memories on how to read music. There have been times over the last week when the last thing I wanted to do was spend 45 minutes to an hour practicing on the horn, but I am beginning to make a bit of progress and enjoying the challenge.

“We cannot pass our guardian angel’s bounds, resigned or sullen; he will hear our sighs.” — Saint Augustine

Happened to catch Mike Aquilina on The Journey Home program this week and he talked for a couple of minutes during the program about the importance of angels in our lives and how little the average Catholic knows about them. It was sort of a jolt because I don’t give a lot of thought to the topic of angels and the role they play in being Catholic. I realized I’d like to know more since I figure I need all the help I can get and it’s also a very beautiful and even Scriptural aspect of our faith. I’m not sure there are many books on the topic but I think I’ll begin looking into the subject. I wonder if my neglect makes my guardian angel resigned or sullen. I hope not.

I’ve been thinking about the role church architecture plays in the celebration of the Mass. Our local parish church is a left over from the late 1950s to early 1960s in terms of design and atmosphere. In other words it’s very sterile and a Presbyterian entering the place would feel quite at home. I think it’s been having an effect on me lately, even to the point of my not being able to keep my thoughts wandering far and wide during the Liturgy. I don’t normally have the problem in such a severe form and the only factor I can attribute is the design of church building itself. I know that attending Mass in our local Cathedral, a building now over 100 years old, offers a very different and more awe inspiring experience. Another topic I need to investigate.

I’ve struggled with the post this week and done much editing to avoid descending into rant mode. Never a good thing. I hope next week will see an improvement in attitude on my part.


4 thoughts on “Angels Resigned and Sullen

  1. I had to pull back from a very rant-y pattern lately, too, although mine was mostly on Facebook rather than the blog. I feel your pain.

    Reading Merton has been incredibly enriching to me, but it never once occurred to me that anything he said could be taken as anything other than orthodox. I suppose we humans are all gifted with the ability to read into whatever we see to confirm what we already believe…

    That quote in #1 is very much on my heart these days.

    1. I guess an occasional impulse to rant in an occupational hazard for bloggers and I should get over it except I don’t want to get carried away with it.

      I tend, perhaps it’s some remaining trace of convert zeal, to extreme sensitivity to any hint from a writer he’s straying from the orthodox position. It’s especially bad for me with Merton because, except for the 7 Story Mountain, I only started reading him after I came into the Church. Still, it’s clear in all of his writings that he never had any desire to be anything other than a Catholic priest and Cistercian monk. I’m glad you enjoyed the quote.

  2. The most extensive treatment of the subject of angels is within Thomas Aquinas’ Summa – he goes to great length, and it’s fascinating. When I came back to the Church after 38 atheistic years I now believed in God, in Jesus Christ, in the Trinity and all of our fundamental cornerstones – but I told my favorite priest that I drew the line at ANGELS. He steered me into the Summa, which I labored through in its entirety, and one benefit of that effort was that I no longer questioned the subject of angels.

    1. Jeff, thanks, I really didn’t know that. I’ll have to take a look. I have intended, for a long time, to give the Summa a try but haven’t done it yet. I need to get to it.

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