Star Hunter continues. Our young protagonist faces some tough opponents — but even tougher choices. The life or death kind.
The Ascent of Mount Carmel continues with a look at the disadvantages of taking all your joy in natural things (like your own personal qualities, or those of other people), as opposed to the advantages of being grateful to God for them as a gift, and primarily interested in God.
Btw, St. John of the Cross’ feastday is this Thursday the 14th. As with most saints, his feast is celebrated on the anniversary of his death — Dec. 14, 1591 — the day when he began to live in full union with God.
So no Nebuly Coat tonight. Sorry, all. Maybe tomorrow… but really, I need to save my voice for choir practice.
UPDATE: Still saving my voice for choir.
Librivox has just released free audiobooks of The Railway Children, Rootabaga Tales, The Practice of the Presence of God, The Gods of Mars, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, A Tale of Two Cities, and Oliver Twist, among other public domain things. Those last two books would get you through two Januaries of English class, back at my junior high.
(You know, I managed to get an A in 9th grade English class without actually reading A Tale of Two Cities. Despite the fact that we studied the thing for a month. We’d been reading Dickens every year, and I’d gotten sick of the man. So I managed to memorize the plot, read the first and last chapters, and was helped by the fact that I normally loved books about the French Revolution…. But seeing as I’ve got piles of billing to get through next week, maybe I should finally get around to reading the middle of it, eh? Also, I think I really should read about Eliza and Simon Legree. Uncle Tom’s Cabin is not just an important work of literature, but a primary source for studying American and Ohio history.)
The Proto-Evangelium of James (The apocryphal story of Mary’s parents Joachim and Anna, Joseph’s call to be Mary’s husband, and all that. Not for little kids.)
A Christmas Mystery: The Story of Three Wise Men by William J. Locke.
All of these are about an hour long.
Also, the tail end of Mr. Sponge’s Sporting Tour takes place at Christmas and New Year’s.
Pastoral Care continues with Pope St. Gregory the Great’s shrewd analysis of how to get good spiritual results from different kinds of people. This week, we learn about how to reach people who only resist doing bad things because they fear God or other people will punish them, and how to reach people who don’t fear any consequences of their actions at all. Also, there’s a very acute chapter on the problems of the silent and the talkative.
Onward to Book IV! This time, St. Irenaeus lets Jesus speak for Himself about the nature of God. Irenaeus includes in this category all his references to the Old Testament prophets, since obviously inspired prophets must be speaking the Word’s words.
This is not an approach to scriptural quotation that I’ve ever seen before, and yet it’s a perfectly logical tack for a Christian. Maybe I just need to broaden my reading.
The Ascent of Mount Carmel continues. We learn why it’s good not to put all our joy onto temporal things.
So did the Grinch. “He will find greater joy and recreation in the creatures through his detachment from them, for he cannot rejoice in them if he look upon them with attachment to them as to his own. Attachment is an anxiety that, like a bond, ties the spirit down to the earth and allows it no enlargement of heart.”
The Ascent of Mount Carmel continues, as we move onto the subject of joy and its misuses. As always, St. John of the Cross reminds us that the idea is to shed attachments to everything else and just focus on God. Now, obviously, anyone who’s totally focused on God is going to feel joy, and that’s good. But getting _attached_ to things other than God is a bad idea. The spiritual person should just love them for what they are, creations of God. He should care for them as useful to serve God, and enjoy them as they come and go, as belonging to God and not our personal possessions.
I should mention that when monks critique marriage, they aren’t saying that marriage is bad. After all, God did invent marriage, and there are plenty of happily married lay Carmelites out there, and were in St. John of the Cross’ time, too. Attachment doesn’t mean not loving your spouse; it means not loving your spouse more than God, but instead as someone who helps lead you to God. (And vice versa, of course.)
Perhaps the most interesting bit is on the four degrees of Bad Stuff that can happen to someone who gets all their joy out of temporal blessings. For example, someone who loves and gets joy from money instead of God will ultimately lose any joy in money, and be left with nothing but the hunger for it. It will constantly yank his chain, leaving him no time to think or do anything but work, worry, and rush, rush, rush. Relevant, no?
UPDATE: Bad link fixed.