newly-formed friendships

June 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

These few months, I’ve been discovering there is such a rich treasure in the Catholic Church– the saints! Not only do they pray for us, they have left behind spiritual works, still of relevance in today’s world. 

There is St Catherine, the woman whom even the pope listened to, whom accomplished great deeds despite being illiterate…Her Dialogue I’ve heard is a classic 🙂 Though at this point I still do not know enough about her, reading her biography online makes me think how all things are possible with God, such that being illiterate is no handicap. Something interesting– it seems that Catherine was the subject of interest of several men at that time. Ha! But she didn’t want to get married. She was just so in love with God 😀

There is St Therese, whom I remember for her simplicity. She doesn’t see anything wrong with sleeping during her prayers since parents (God) have a special tenderness for children when they sleep. She also sees dryness as Jesus being asleep in the little boat that is her heart, and compared nature to a book. Just as we learn things from book, we can learn many things from nature 🙂 Of her, I first encountered in ‘I believe in Love’. I’ve just discovered today that her Autobiography, The Story of a Soul, is available online 😀 

Now…there is St. Ignatius! He is the kind of saint whom I know is famous, having heard the name many times. Yet of what he is and what he did, I know little of. Recently, at Jess’s place, 2 books on Ignatian spirituality congregated quite spontaneously (one book that Jess borrowed, and another bought by Fifi). I therefore had the privilege of flipping through both books. I loved what I saw! 

The first book is on Discernment. Now, doesn’t EVERYONE need that? In the short time I read it, I learnt that one must listen to both one’s head and one’s heart while making decisions. Of course, merely knowing that is insufficient, and I feel prompted to find out more.  

The other book was on Ignatian Spiritual exercises. I learnt about the Daily Examen, a 

 “technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern his direction for us.  The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that can help us see God’s hand at work in our whole experience.” 

Basically, there are 5 steps to this, which are: 

1. Become aware of God’s presence. 

2. Review the day with gratitude.  

3. Pay attention to your emotions. 

4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it. 

5. Look toward tomorrow.  

You can look for the detailed write-up on this here.  

from this fabulous website: 

IgnatianSpirituality.com 

Now I don’t know where to start. Apart from the saints, I’ve been meaning to finish Orthodoxy by G.K.Chesterton (the link is in my blogroll). Someone mentioned that his style is quite C.S.Lewis– maybe that’s why I like him. But if you ask me why I like him, my answer would be that he’s really witty. Not only am I amazed by some of the things he writes, I also find myself being highly amused while reading it. If your life is currently lacking in the funny department, look to G.K.C 😀 I like the idea that he thought that one of St. John’s critics was wilder than monsters in his visions: 

Everywhere we see that men
do not go mad by dreaming. Critics are much madder than poets. Homer is complete and calm
enough; it is his critics who tear him into extravagant tatters. Shakespeare is quite himself; it is
only some of his critics who have discovered that he was somebody else. And though St. John the
Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creature so wild as one of his own
commentators. The general fact is simple. Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea;
reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion, like
the physical exhaustion of Mr. Holbein. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything
a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet
only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his
head. And it is his head that splits.
 

Here is another:

The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was shattered at the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering
alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful. For example, Mr. Blatchford attacks Christianity because he is mad on one Christian virtue: the merely mystical and almost irrational virtue of charity. He has a strange idea that he will make it easier to forgive sins by saying that there are no sins to forgive. Mr. Blatchford is not only an early Christian, he is the only early Christian who ought really to have been eaten by lions.

Here’s another excerpt from the book, although one which is more serious. It reminds me that if we truly embraced democracy, we would give voices to those who are dead, and also, those not yet born. Democrats who advocate abortion, then, are like squares claiming to be circles. 

 

Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit
to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death.

I think that’s all for now. Now do you get why 2 months of holidays are not enough? 😀 

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