Angels Resigned and Sullen


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

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“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

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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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