Tag: Spirituality

SPIRITUALITY The ‘Secret Code Of Catholic’

SPIRITUALITY The ‘Secret Code Of Catholic’

What’s the name of that screwball comedy? The one with the two desperados? That one. Anyway, they’re in mortal danger. One guy makes a quick Sign of the Cross in a desperate plea for heavenly assistance. The other guy looks at him, thinks for a second, and then traces a huge Star of David on his chest.

The Sign of the Cross means something. And everyone knows it. It means belonging to something greater than yourself. Something extraordinary.

Many of our Catholic-isms go way back to the early days of our faith. Ever hear an Irish biddy say, with a trace of the word sod in her accent, “The Good Lord willing’?” She got it from St. James, who popularly wrote:

Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit’ — you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow.You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. Rather you should say, ‘If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that (James 4:13-15).

Then there are my Syrian Christian neighbors, who punctuate all their conversations with “Thanks, God,” just as St. Paul told the Thessalonians in his first letter to them: “In all situation give thanks” (5:18).

How about us? Do we bear any traces of our membership in the body of Christ? Do we value our Catholic-isms — or do they embarrass us? Do we even understand them?

Catholic-isms are not just quaint and quirky. When you consider that Catholics believe that we are, body and soul, members of Christ’s body, they make sense. We don’t merely have faith in our inner thoughts. We have it in our arms and our legs, our ears and our lips, our hands and our knees. We do and say things to show our faith. We speak faith, and we act faith. Whether we realize it or not, people notice. My sister was not conscious of her Catholic-isms; they were just part of her. They’d been passed down much the way a person’s language and accent comes down from generation to generation.

We would not respect a person who was ashamed of his race or his people. So we shouldn’t bury our Catholic-isms as if they are an embarrassment. Do we say grace in restaurants, or are we more concerned with blending into sameness with those around us? If our Protestant friends unashamedly ask us to pray with them, do we confidently make the Sign of the Cross? Do we make a habit of thanking God in conversation so it’s as natural as saying hello?

As our culture grows more secular, it may not be easy to spot the Secret Code of Catholic. I spied it recently in a documentary called Living on One Dollar. It tells the story of four college guys who set out to experience and document third-world poverty in rural Guatemala. The young filmmakers never mention the religion of the people they had adopted as neighbors for a summer. There was only the telltale Spanish language to give away the fact that missionaries had once lived among them — missionaries who not only shared their poverty for a summer but for a lifetime in order to give these children of God the Catholic faith.

The film bore no trace of such a history — except one that slipped in by accident. A young village woman spoke of her hope to earn enough money through her weaving to go to nursing school. Then she added with a little smile, “God willing.” Those who speak the Secret Code of Catholic know that this means she is depending on assistance from above.

The lack of faith that surrounds us tends to make us self-conscious about performing our little Catholic-isms, but it is all the more reason to make the Secret Code of Catholic truly part of us. Nothing attracts attention — in a good way — like a sincerely held belief. If nothing else, it provokes curiosity. And it can show a longing in others to belong to something greater than themselves and lets them know who they can request about it.

All these little visible signs in the Secret Code of Catholic were created to be seen and heard so that Catholicism would be known and no longer be a secret. Let us open a window for others so that they can visit that other world, and possibly they might even come to live there.

Exclusive Photos – Could This Be The Last Hermit Of Ireland?

Exclusive Photos – Could This Be The Last Hermit Of Ireland?

He may seem like an escapist, but this monk is on the frontlines of the battle that really matters.

Fr. David Jones was born in Wales and raised in the Baptist church. In his mid-teens he spent most of his life trying to convert Catholics, until he happened to stumble into his local Catholic Church one day in the late 1960s.

He was immediately blown away by the Latin chants, the billowing incense and the sense of the mystical that encompassed the entire liturgy.

Shortly after his conversion, although David was technically too young to enter the monastic life, the rules were bent in his favor.

With his parents’ blessing he went to be a monk in France, where he spent most of his life before moving around the monasteries of Europe, ending up in Italy and finally arriving in the village of Duleek, Ireland, where he now resides indefinitely, living the life of a hermit.

Fr. David has given me the very rare invitation to document his daily life. Hermits don’t normally allow this, given the nature of their vocation to live a life of silence. I am therefore grateful he allowed me in.

See the story in photographs:


A portrait of the spiritual journey

At the end of the day, Fr. David takes me back to his chapel.

From my own perspective, I see a man who has been through so many battles in life — from his initial conversion and struggle with the world inside, to the 10-year vow of silence and fight to quiet his old self. It’s impossible not to be inspired.


Fr. David Jones has obviously found the treasure most of us seek. And instead of hiding it, he points us all in the direction where we too can avail ourselves of such graces.


In recent months I took my son to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in which Jedi Master Luke Skywalker becomes the last Jedi in the rebellion against evil in a troubled galaxy.

I realized that such fiction was actually a reflection of the truth, and that I was in the presence of possibly the last spiritual master himself, “The Last Hermit of Ireland.”


Maybe I’m wrong, and there are more of them out there. If there are, I must find them.

The Irish people need to know that Christianity is not yet dead and that a “new rebellion” will rise from the ashes once again.

 

FATHER DAVID JONES,HERMIT,IRELAND

Stephen McElligott | Aleteia

The departure

When It came time for me to leave, it wasn’t easy, as Fr. David made quite the impression upon me.

People like Fr. David, sometimes without saying anything at all, by their very life, remove us from the comfort zone we’ve developed for ourselves.

I would have liked to have stayed much longer with Father David, but I realized that I have a wife and two children at home I must attend to. In my house (or domestic Church) we wage the same war — just on a different part of the battlefield.

I came to understand that this is a war in which our weapons may differ, but the end goal remains always the same … getting to heaven.

It is very easy for us to see Fr. David as an escapist, seeking only to run away from the world. Countering this thought, we must admit that all of us are escapists who run from silence, forever entertaining our own idle thoughts. We all run away from God to cower in the corner of comforting leisure activities — alcohol, drugs, movies, videogames, social media — that serve only to exclude him.

The more I got to know Fr. David, I began to see him not as an escapist, but a brave man who has decided to confront the world within himself that most of us are unwilling to confront.

Like the monks of the past, he goes into the desert to confront the Devil for the sake of all our souls. He inspires us to take up the same fight in whatever position we find ourselves, be it the religious life or one in which we struggle with an upside-down world opposed to all that is holy.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this visit with Fr. David. I’m eager to see him again as he’s left the door open.

 

Photography and text by Aleteia’s Stephen Mc Elligott.



How To Listen To The ‘Voice’ Of God: St. Ignatius Of Loyola Explains What God’s ‘Voice’ Sound Like.

How To Listen To The ‘Voice’ Of God: St. Ignatius Of Loyola Explains What God’s ‘Voice’ Sound Like.

Discernment – Listen closely, God May be trying to speak to you.

St. Ignatius Loyola, in his writings on the topic of the discernment of spirits, provides specific instructions on how to identify the voices you hear in your soul, whether in prayer or while going about your daily duties. In particular, Loyola details the attributes of God’s voice.

Loyola explains, “it is proper to God and to His Angels in their movements to give true spiritual gladness and joy, taking away all sadness and disturbance which the enemy brings on.” Furthermore, “It belongs to God our Lord to give consolation to the soul without preceding cause, for it is the property of the Creator to enter, go out and cause movements in the soul, bringing it all into love of His Divine Majesty.”

Additionally, “We ought to note well the course of the thoughts, and if the beginning, middle and end is all good, inclined to all good, it is a sign of the good Angel.”

However, before we can properly discern these voices in our soul it is necessary to discern the state of our soul. Loyola writes that if the soul is moving from “good to better” the good Angel touches “sweetly,” but if the soul is moving from “bad to worse” than the opposite is true and the good spirit can seem sharp and try to kick us back in the right direction.

In general, if we are striving to draw closer to God, he will speak to us in the silence of our hearts with peace and joy. It will likely not be in the form of an earthquake, lightning bolt, or flames of fire, but as Elijah heard, in “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12).

The next time you are trying to discern who is speaking to your soul, stop and go over St. Ignatius’ steps of discernment. It might be God who is knocking at the door of your heart, desiring to give you the peace, joy and gladness that will satisfy your spiritual thirst.



How To Listen To The ‘Voice’ Of God: St. Ignatius Of Loyola Explains What God’s ‘Voice’ Sound Like.

How To Listen To The ‘Voice’ Of God: St. Ignatius Of Loyola Explains What God’s ‘Voice’ Sound Like.

Discernment – Listen closely, God May be trying to speak to you.

St. Ignatius Loyola, in his writings on the topic of the discernment of spirits, provides specific instructions on how to identify the voices you hear in your soul, whether in prayer or while going about your daily duties. In particular, Loyola details the attributes of God’s voice.

Loyola explains, “it is proper to God and to His Angels in their movements to give true spiritual gladness and joy, taking away all sadness and disturbance which the enemy brings on.” Furthermore, “It belongs to God our Lord to give consolation to the soul without preceding cause, for it is the property of the Creator to enter, go out and cause movements in the soul, bringing it all into love of His Divine Majesty.”

Additionally, “We ought to note well the course of the thoughts, and if the beginning, middle and end is all good, inclined to all good, it is a sign of the good Angel.”

However, before we can properly discern these voices in our soul it is necessary to discern the state of our soul. Loyola writes that if the soul is moving from “good to better” the good Angel touches “sweetly,” but if the soul is moving from “bad to worse” than the opposite is true and the good spirit can seem sharp and try to kick us back in the right direction.

In general, if we are striving to draw closer to God, he will speak to us in the silence of our hearts with peace and joy. It will likely not be in the form of an earthquake, lightning bolt, or flames of fire, but as Elijah heard, in “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12).

The next time you are trying to discern who is speaking to your soul, stop and go over St. Ignatius’ steps of discernment. It might be God who is knocking at the door of your heart, desiring to give you the peace, joy and gladness that will satisfy your spiritual thirst.



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