Dear and beloved readers,
I enclose a poem as a follow on to my last blog on the problem of suffering; its an imagined dialogue with the devil. I may be a bit complicated, so I hope you will bear with that. To compensate I am also sending a shorter poem, “nature can talk”, hope you like it.
I want also to comment today on the feast of St. Augustine. He was an amazing saint. Most of his early life was pagan, but Monica, his mother, who was a Christian prayed for his conversion night and day with tears; which shows the importance of parents in nurturing the faith and praying for one’s children.
One day, as Augustine sat in his garden he felt felt very empty inside. At the time, his life was one of endless pleasure and sexual promiscuity, and he was very zealous in his preaching against Christianity; he was sent to Milan to counteract with pagan arguments the influence of St.Ambrose, a great saintly preacher. But despite all this he felt empty inside.
As he sat in his garden that day he suddenly heard a child’s voice say, “take up and read”. A book of the Bible was on the table and as he opened it, a sentence by St.Paul, leaped to his attention: “cast off the old man of sin, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ”. Immediately, the scales fell from his eyes, and joy and light entered his soul; tears poured down his face, and he was converted. He went on to become one of the greatest bishops, saints and theologians the church has produced.
His “Confessions” are still a classic of European and world literature. In them he does not so much confess his sins as give thanks to God for the light and glory he brought to his life and soul; the infinite riches in Christ he suddenly discovered after being so long in the darkness; it opened up a world for him without boundaries.
I’m reminded of a atheistic neurophysicist in the USA who had a near death experience, and as result became a firm believer and wrote a book called “Proof of Heaven”, because when all the machines monitoring him showed that he had no brain activity whatsoever, his brain was dead, he still had amazing experiences of God and heaven and angels and so on. He concluded like Augustine that those who don’t believe in God are like people locked in a narrow closet who think that’s all the world there is, while all around is the vast world of God and his love, that underpins the narrow material world we live in.
So that’s my little reflection for today. I also, as I said include the two poems. And I haven’t forgotten the next part of my novel “The Island”. Be patient with me my precious and beloved readers. Don’t forget my book “Wheels of Light”, its selling very well and you can help by buying it or the ebook; I see all this as spreading the Gospel; its not about me, but serving the Lord, and spreading his life and love for the enrichment of our lives for here and our eternal salvation. You are my little congregation but not for me, like Augustine, any good I do is due to God. St. Patrick has the same message in his “Confessions”; I am nothing, any good I do I attribute wholly to God. So keep on reading and deepening your understanding of the immense gift of the faith and the untold riches of the liturgy of the church that we are priveleged to be part of each Sunday and every day,
Dialogue with the Devil (a vision on the Mount of Olives)
On the Mount of Olives one day Satan addressed me thus:
A red snarling figure, out of a coal black cloud of icy dust:
Why doesn’t God defend the world’s frail and defenceless,
Stop man being a wolf to man and restore original innocence?
Why’s the world, unfulfilled, finite, and without happiness?
Is failure, death and sin what earth’s cruel God wills for us?
Or if He’s so benign why does He allow our incessant pain?
Why does he allow atrocities, disease, hunger, cruel gain,
Earthquakes, tornados, cancers, cold, and destructive rain?”.
I answered, burning incense to offset his foul smell, in vain:
He’s helpless since the free choice of good and evil at the fall.
Due to your bad advice, vice’s everyman’s everyday choice still.
Though its not his will, God lets us free to do evil, trusting we’ll
Do good. Loving freedom, his realm, is also the core of our soul.
We’re free to do or not a divine will which alone makes us whole.
For if He controlled it all, we’d not have freedom’s high dignity!
Nor nature’s seeming chaos that spurs vast evolutionary creativity.
Undeterred the fiend, a fat fiery blob, continued to challenge me:
“Yet why allow the evils that made our age more mine than his,
A scream! the trenches of the first world war, killing mere boys,
Forced from foxholes into machine guns, while their inner cries
Mingled with a stench of the gas, toy soldiers of remote Kaisers.
By death-of-God, superman creeds, I caused holocaust genocides.
I, Satan, lured man to every mad atrocity as they cast God away,
So no matter what you may say, I was master of the modern day.”
Undeterred by his speel and scorching fire, I felt bound to reply:
God had to allow Hitler or rescind our original choice to be free.
For if He solved such problems for us, stopped evil peremptorily,
We’d be puppets of a mad controlling God, sad pawns of divinity.
And less the challenge to soul growth, pain, sin, and death affords.
We’d be empty, spoiled, controlled molls of a Sugar Daddy Lord.
“Bolderdash”, Satan screamed in reply, “freedom’s destructive play,
Just makes life’s choices more difficult or meaningless in every way.
Its just an excuse for profligacy, or if aimed at ideal good, hyprocrisy.
At this he spattered streams of spittle in my eye, lurid and sickly green;
I wiped it clean and continued, holding up a cross to deflect his spleen.
Civilization’s freedom is to futher choices the lead to fuller social right,
Even hypocrisy is needed to uphold ideals, keep divine dreams bright,
To banish darkness inside, we need absolutes towards which to strive,
Though all mayn’t achieve them, high aims are essential to civilized life.
Rising above low common denominator morality, the reign of the worst
In the soul, we fuse our fallen dying dust with a pure divine spark in us,
And rise to freedom and full humanity. Grace enpowers free will’s trust
Towards highest human good, above your evils that leave us fallen, lost.
At this the fiery fiend rubbed his claw-like hands with unsupressed mirth,
“You’re Plato’s me boy, not incarnation theology, a shower of hypocrites,
And a snotty saintly aristocracy, preying on the frailer mass of humanity.
I favor common denominator morality, us free for a true pure beastiality.
By a grill between me and his foul breathe, I shook my head and replied:
No,the aristocracy of the soul and our freedom is rising above deflating
Destructive desires by good will, for nature and the animals also set limits.
Though fallen into jungle strife to survive, they keep basic laws of creation,
As we must, earth’s secret conscience obey, beyond your will to regression.
Yes! by free will used to choose highest good, we ascend to original glory,
By grace and Christ, Eden no dream lost in history, but our own new story.
But because God cannot force us to be good; he had die of love on a tree,
As the most persuasive way to show, not force us to love, live and be free.
By negating what damages the soul we are happy again, reversing the fall
By redemptive virtues that bring us true human good, we’re part of the sea
That’s God’s perfect being, in one great graced union of earth and eternity!
So souls damaged by destructive choices and earth’s uncreative instability
Can retuned to a perfect land and sea. The major mystery of life, strangely
Is that God trusts us to do what is right, to freely participate in his infinity.
To rise from fallen death within, to Christ, the restorer of the soul’s sanity.
The fiend awhile lulled by my long theological speel, now suddenly revived,
Jerked into mad destructive life again, he glared with eyes all lurid and wild.
“Ah but what of all the religious wars that preyed on humanity like a beast”,
He came back at me, his face pushed up against mine, all red and diseased,
Keeping him at bay with holy water, I said, recoiling away in distaste:
Its easy to judge religion in the abstract, stress only its negative aspects
Due to a few fallen distorters who mediate it perversely to humankind,
Generalizations are odious; so’s lumping all “religions” into one defined
Only by negatives, is a duck easily shot down. The patriarchs and saints,
All guide us from an uncivilized abyss into one of all transcending grace;
If you must argue no faith, take the result in our age, Nietzsche’s Nazi vice,
Rooted in killing of God. Most modern attrocities were due to secularism,
Sad worldly systems set out to replace faith, from Maoism to communism
To Pol Pot. Despite your myth, our age’s wars mostly came from insanely
Secular states proud as you, holocaust hells imposed on debased humanity.
Like present libertine aspiritual amoral chaos? Give me the blessed virtuous
Faithful any day, with their beads and wise contented faces, saints in touch
With the gentle divine, who become divine themselves each day in church.
Sure there’re fanatics, but they’re infinitismal beside a great mass of the just.
Less their praying goodness, the world’d long ago be lost to your evil lust.
God’s creative body on earth, they reverse each day your designs of dust,
To destroy our inner Life now so we won’t finally be with God and the blest.
Or to die opposing God, so, like you, we’ll do so for eternity, and find no rest.
When I looked around the scornful fiend had gone with a dismissive wave,
A touch of gory lust, a horrible guffaw, and stench of decay as of the grave,
To his world, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, to return in all future eras’ crimes,
For I feel he won’t be easily beaten, til the Second Coming in the end times.
Nature Can Talk
Yesterday in Knock,
Its great tree walks
In the cool of the evening
Evoked for me a presence,
Gentle, peaceful, quiet,
And I realised with a shock
That nature can talk.
It whispers secrets
As old as history,
And as new as each Spring blossom.
And I realised, casting aside
That nature can also sing,
In bud and leaf and wing,
Of all that’s innocent,
True, ever renewed, and undying.
Yet also I sense, at times,
That nature can and does cry,
At its desecration each day,
By you, I, and smoky industry.
Yet despite this nature prays,
Season after season lifting up,
Leaf and flower and fruit,
To praise, do its ageless duty,
And fulfil its Creator’s wisdom.
I wish us humans could be as true.
And take time like nature
To be gentle and still,
Breathing in and out,
In prayerful peace and serenity,
Like these Knock tree walks.