Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Catholic Hermit: Pseudo-Macarius Excerpt on Shrove Tuesday

I may have posted this several years ago on some other blog post.  I have written through phases, posting on evolving blog titles.  Yet today, on Shrove Tuesday (or commonly also called Fat Tuesday)--the day before Ash Wednesday and commencement of Lent--the writings of "Pseudo-Macarius" circa 5th century, set a tone for Lent.

My spiritual father wrote another beautiful and cherished letter.  His handwriting grows increasingly shaky and faint, while his thoughts grow wiser and richer.  As an aside, he wrote that he is becoming discouraged by the televised news; the media battles and negativity of those who lost the election tempts him to frustration and anger.

So he has turned to watching a bit of EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network, a Catholic network).  I used to watch this network back when I had a television; I did not realize they now offer live streaming for computer viewing and online radio streaming, as well.  So I listened some yesterday while taping and mudding the stairwell here in Te Deum Hermitage.

Since Mother Angelica has passed, this Easter last, and I've not watched EWTN for a decade or more, I noticed that it seems the programming may be a bit more repetitive,  and there are some reruns.  But the daily Mass remains present moment and excellent, as Mass is; and there is an evening news program au courant.  The more I check out some programs, I am sure there will be much good in content and newer programs to be discovered.

I do not have frustration or anger over the secular news; yet it becomes quite repetitive and filled with opinions--and of course, is the world, the world.  Since I do not have television or cable, I can get a glimpse of news in which I find much to pray for--situations and people in the world, covering swaths of prayer themes--by looking at headlines or listening to a brief video clip.

Yet, the secular news does not instruct or inspire the soul other than to pray and pray.  Pray for peace, pray for wisdom for leaders, pray for the many people suffering, pray for the secular forces to turn to God, pray for good over evil, pray for people to love one another--not fuss and fracture.

So I pray, but I noticed yesterday that my soul sang a bit more cheerfully, and I was inspired by all the good that the Catholic Church has provided for souls and the world for over two thousand years.  I watched a program last evening while getting the pained body to simmer down for sleep.  A man shared his story of having left the Church for 30 years but has recently returned, and what a difference his coming back has made in his life and that of his family.  His excitement is contagious.

Well, back to Pseudo-Macarius' selection from his Fifth Sermon.  I share it with you because yet again the focus on the love of God and God's law reminds of the simplicity of purpose is worth pondering--a purpose of loving God, His Word, His Law and thus of living a holy life in loving God above all things and loving others as God loves.

From the fifth sermon of Pseudo-Macarius:

"For whatever passion a person does not manfully fight against, that is an object of his love.  Such an attachment dominates and holds him down.  It becomes for him an impediment and a chain that prevents him from directing his mind to God and from pleasing him.  In no way can he serve God alone and obtain the kingdom and reach eternal life.

"The soul that truly tends toward the Lord completely forces itself to a total love of him.  It is held fast in a willed dedication, as far as is possible, to God alone.  From him it attains the help of grace. Such a person denies himself and does not obey the will of his mind, because he knows that the mind tends to deal with us in a deceitful way, seducing us to evil.  He yields himself perfectly to the Word of the Lord and frees himself from every visible bond as far as he can will it.  He surrenders completely to the Lord and thus will be able to undergo successfully struggles, labors, and setbacks. Wherever there is a question of affection, there is either a help or an obstacle.  If someone loves something of the world, this becomes for him a burden and a bondage dragging him downward and not allowing him to rise upward to God.

"If, however, he loves the Lord and loves his commandments, this becomes his help.  He is strengthened by this.  His observance of all the Lord's precepts becomes easy for him and tilts him toward the good, or rather, it makes lighter and easier every battle and affliction.  Through divine power he cuts through the world and through the powers of evil which lay snares for the human soul in the world and which use all sorts of desires as nets to ensnare the soul in the depths of the world.  In such a way he is freed from such snares by means of his own faith and great courage and through heavenly aid.  He is accounted worthy of the eternal kingdom which was the goal of his desiring.  He receives from the Lord help and he will not lose eternal life."

And then Pseudo-Macarius adds after giving some Scriptural examples as well as daily life examples...

"Do you not see the complete centering upon the Lord of a perfect love freely given?  And so also those who wish to follow in their footsteps must love nothing besides God so that, when they are tried, they may be found authentically prompt in preserving their love, their perfect love for the Lord.  Such as these are able to endure conflict to the end who have completely and with their whole heart loved God alone and who have freed themselves from all other loves for the world.  Few, however, are found who enjoy such a love, turning away from all pleasures and desires of the world and who manfully endure the assaults and temptations of the evil one."

Pseudo-Macarius insightfully makes a few more points, but this seems enough to sip and savor for now.

God bless His Real Presence in us, and us in His Real Presence.  Let us each and all remain in His Love!

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