From the Franciscan Minims
-- Play or stop background music
The Crucifix of St. Francis de Sales
issued dazzling light,
as the saint began to preach a sermon on Good Friday,
The Crucifix of St. Francis de Sales
FTER receiving an excellent
Among his friends were St. Vincent de Paul and St. Philip Neri. Together with St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Francis founded the Order of the Visitation, of which there are now 185 convents throughout the world.
In his biography of the saint, Hamon, a
priest of St. Sulpice, tells that one day when St. Francis returned to
Known for his gentleness and patience, the saint died during his 56th year, the 20th of his episcopate. Attended by numerous miracles, the body of the saint was buried at Annecy in the first convent of the Visitation Order, where it is still found beside the reliquary containing the remains of St. Jane Frances de Chantal.
The holy Bishop was canonized in 1665 and was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1877 in view of his excellent writings, of which Introduction to the Devout Life and Treatise on the Love of God are the most popular.
“And because iniquity has abounded,
the charity of many shall grow cold.” -- Matthew 24, 12
“Puritanism is only a paralysis.” -- GKC
HE title of this editorial refers to a defect or sin that is frequent and that causes great harm. It also has the names of: indifference, negligence, selfishness, unkindness, harshness and frigidity. The opposite virtue is charity, kindness, warmth, affection, amiability. One is symbolized by something cold, the other by something warm, such as a flame or the sun.
The Greatest Sin
Theologians have often debated what is the greatest sin. It is almost impossible to answer. The
worst sin is the sin that has the worst effect. All sins have bad effects, but
one of the worst is coldness. From what Christ said about the last judgment in
Matthew, Ch. 25, one gets the impression that the reprobate were condemned
because of their coldness, because of not showing kindness when God wanted them
to show it. “I was hungry and you did not give me to eat, etc.” And they
received the sentence that coldness deserves: “Depart from me, ye accursed,
Do not let coldness enter in
A holy French abbot said, shortly before his death: “My dear children, never forget the last advice and testament of your most loving father. I implore you in the name of our divine Saviour always to love one another, and never to permit the least coldness toward any brother to be for a moment in your breasts, or anything by which perfect charity may suffer any harm in your souls. You have borne the yoke of penance and are grown old in the exercise of religious duties in vain, if you do not sincerely love one another. Without this, martyrdom itself cannot make you acceptable to God. Fraternal charity is the soul of a religious house.” Having spoken these words, he happily surrendered his soul into the hands of the Creator (from life of St. Aichardus).
The saint’s advice is good, not only for religious, but for all men and women, in any family, group, organization, club or gathering. One of the worst effects of coldness is that it makes worthless other actions, for example, prayer. It is inconsistent to pray “Thy will be done,” and then to do the opposite of what God wants: He does not want people to treat others with coldness. “Without this (charity, kindness) martyrdom itself cannot make you acceptable to God.”
Sometimes people show coldness to their neighbors from negligence, indifference and even from cruelty. Sometimes people would like to show kindness and admiration to their neighbors, but cannot because of lack of experience and timidity… and sometimes because they live in an English-speaking country. (See article “They would like it to happen” in this issue). Coldness is like a paralysis that prevents people from showing kindness when it should be shown. There are people who do not want to be unkind or cruel and they have kind sentiments in their minds and hearts, but they cannot express what they feel. A stupid coldness prevents them. Even when they have good intentions, their silence and omission of kind actions often causes coldness and sadness in the lives of others.
A Legion of Victim Souls
In this issue there is an article about how
the legion of victim souls is growing. When there are more victim souls, there
will be less injustice, less coldness and less unkindness in the world. God
wants us to show kindness, in any way, with a smile, a kind word, a kind
action, affection, warmth, being polite when you do not feel like it. Any
action, even a small one, might help to spread a little kindness in our world, that is now so selfish and indifferent. But the
greatest kindness is to offer our lives to help save our brethren. The greatest
kindness and generosity is to have the same sentiments that Christ had, and to
do something similar to what he did, when he offered his life to save the
world. The greatest kindness is to do something similar to what
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“All those who
yield themselves to My way of the cross and suffering,
will be blessed for all eternity.” --
Whether Isaiah and
Micah ever met is not recorded, but the peasant spokesman for God might easily
have been the disciple of the aristocratic prophet who lived in the “
“How long? How
long, O Lord?” Isaiah would cry, and Micah with him. But King Hezekiah
did not take his prophets of doom too seriously. He thought he knew what he was
doing, felt sure he could avoid playing mouse to the Assyrian cat; he would and
But Isaiah, farseeing prophet, disapproved of
these alliances, which actually suggested a conspiracy for war against
He was proved right when Sennacherib came down, capturing 46 cities.
Relics of those direful Assyrian victories
are preserved for our late eyes to see. In the Oriental Institute of the
There is also the famous “prism of
Sennacherib” to be seen in the
All signs pointed to the
But as the armies of Sennacherib drew ever
nearer, and his advance guards began throwing up towers and fortifications
around the city, in obvious preparation for a siege, the king found it hard to
share the holy man’s confidence. In the turmoil of his thoughts he did one wise
thing –he turned and implored help on his own account, beseeching the Lord
concerning the king of
These were astounding words, with destruction seeming to loom close, and the numbers of the Assyrian hosts as sands of the seashore. Any day, any hour now, the blow would fall. And then, in the very midst of King Hezekiah’s doubts, it happened –a miracle unsurpassed in all the strange stories of Holy Writ.
During that time of breathless expectancy an angel of the Lord passed through the camp of the sleeping Assyrian troops, and struck a blow that ended in one night the lives of 185,000 men.
Utterly demoralized, the rest of the army fled from the plague’s invisible sword:
Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
and his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold.
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
Where the blue wave rolls nightly on deep
the leaves of the forest when summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset was seen;
Like the leaves of the forest when autumn has blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown!
The people who had wandered so far from the Lord were closer than ever to the punishment of their infidelity –yet here, in the hour of their greatest danger, the power of God to help them was brilliantly displayed.
Never again was Sennacherib to strike against
Not long after the massacre of the enemy armies, King Hezekiah became
ill, and his condition began to be rumored around. With guileful sympathy,
Merodach-Baladan, the new ruler of
“Behold, the days come, that all that is in
your house, and that which your fathers have laid up in store unto this day,
shall be carried into
In spite of his past experience with Isaiah, the ailing monarch did not want to believe this distressing forecast.
“Is it not good if peace and truth be in my days?” he protested, nor was he the last appeaser who believed he had bought “peace in our time.”
Isaiah turned away with sad eyes. King and prophet parted, and nothing is heard of any more talk between them. Isaiah busied himself with his preaching, beginning now to tell the people that beyond their coming tribulation he foresaw the bright dawn of a new day of salvation, when the Messiah should come to serve and heal.
Thus he was reassuring the people when the well-intentioned King Hezekiah passed on.
The son who took his place on the throne, the
Prince Manasseh, was the direct opposite of his father. Instinctively he seemed
to relish everything that was vicious and evil. A born tyrant, he persecuted
the prophets of the Lord and rebuilt altars to heathen gods which his father
had cast down. Even the precincts of the
Legend relates that Isaiah was one of the wicked Manasseh’s chief victims. According to those ancient traditions, the aged prophet, after more than 46 years of holy service, wise statesmanship, and spiritual vision, was tied to a log of cedar and sawn in two. Such a horrible form of execution of the death sentence was certainly known to have been practiced, even as far back as the days of Saul and Samuel. And such is the strength of tradition in the East, one may well believe that being sawn in two was the fate of that invincible teller of truth, called Isaiah.
It was Isaiah who gave substance and a sense of reality, of imminence, of impending arrival, to the Messianic hope. He said that the Son of God was coming to the world to redeem it from an impossible situation—“Surely, He has borne our griefs.”
The Boy King
It seems an odd coincidence, that within a
few years after the death of King Hezekiah—about the start of the sixth century
before Christ—a manuscript was found in
The affliction of the times, the apostasy, the infidelity, the turning back to God and then away from Him again, all were going on as usual. (To be continued).
Following His Footsteps
by Anselmo del Álamo
Chapter 8. Crosses
38. What is it that most pleases Jesus? Suffering. The most sorrowful moments are always the most blessed. O Jesus, I accept as many pains and afflictions as you want to send me, for they will always be less than what I deserve. As a gift of your mercies, o my Jesus, I will accept the pains and afflictions that you lay upon me. O Jesus, if you wish, add even more: I will always kiss your hand. Behold, O Jesus, this sorrow shakes all the fibers of my heart, and it inspires in me the resolution of not offending you any more. St. Gemma Galgani
39. I love the flowers of the field, the little birds and every new suffering; it is a variation that pleases me, but what I love above every-thing else is Jesus Christ, our beloved Savior. Theresa Neumann
40. If you were flooded with spiritual consolations and you overflowed with love, you would not gain as much as suffering dryness and the trials that I send you. Live, therefore, in peace, with the certainty that you will not perish under the cross. It is easier for ten souls to fall into sin, who enjoy the delights of grace, than only one soul that is in affliction: the enemy has no power against those who sigh under the cross. Even if you were the first doctor of the world and the wisest theologian of my Church, and even if you could speak about God with the tongues of angels, you would be less holy to my eyes and less amiable, than a soul that is subject to my crosses. I grant my graces to the good and to the evil, but I reserve my crosses for my elect. Affliction separates a man from the world, and brings him near to God. The more his friends on earth abandon him, the more my grace is increased in him, and it raises him and makes him divine. From the Cross proceed humility, purity of conscience, fervor of spirit, peace, tranquility of soul, discretion, recollection, charity and all the benefits that this produces. Our Lord to Blessed Henry Suso
41. You cannot form an idea of how happy I am. In spite of your sorrows? Because of them. Eva Lavalliere
42. As the usurer does not lose any occasion of making a small sum of money, I also will not consent that the smallest movement of your little finger, done in my name, remains without fruit, and without its concurring to my greater glory and your eternal salvation. Our Lord to St. Gertrude
A Report from
My name is Bro. Paul
First when I approach someone that I feel would be a good person to be a victim soul, I look for one with the holy smile of Jesus on their face, united with the suffering of Jesus in their eyes –very easy to see, if you truly realize the joy of suffering united to the suffering of Jesus on the cross.
I always ask for the help of St. Therese, the Little Flower, and she never fails me.
A. I usually find these people in church or
through a good friend, or another victim soul. We now have 96 victim souls in
B. Usually when I present the victimhood to a person, this is what they say:
“This is what I have been praying and searching for.”
“I have done consecrations to Our Blessed Mother and Jesus, in many forms, but this is truly giving myself completely to Jesus. Thank you, Jesus, and thank you, Blessed Mother.”
Then I give them the book on victimhood and tell them to read it and pray about it. Usually within 2 weeks they call me on the phone and say to me “Thank you, Bro. Paul. I just gave myself totally to Jesus. Thank you, Jesus.”
Below is a consecration of victimhood written by Rev. Fr. Francis S. Duchala, O.F.M. and myself, combining the one of the Portavoz and Berthe Petite, a victim soul of 50 years.
May God bless you.
Brother Paul -- 814-838-3361
P.S. May the love of Jesus and Our Blessed Mother be always in your heart.
Consecration of Victimhood
“Lord, my God, you have asked everything of your little servant: take and receive everything, then. This day I belong to you without any reservations, forever. O Beloved of my soul! It is you only whom I want, and for your love I renounce all.
“O God of Love! Take my memory, and all its memories, take my intelligence so that it will act only for your greatest glory; take my will entirely, so that it will forever be drowned in your own; never again what I want, O most sweet Jesus, but always what you want; receive me, guide me, sanctify me, direct me; to you I abandon myself.
“O God of goodness, take my body and all its senses, my spirit and all its faculties, my heart and all its affections; O adorable Savior, you are the sole owner of my soul and of all my being; receive the immolation, that every day and every hour, I offer you in silence, deign to accept it and change it, into grace and blessing for all those I love, for the conversion of sinners, and for the sanctification of souls.
“O Jesus! Take all of my little heart; it begs and sighs to belong to you alone; hold it always in your powerful hands, so that it will surrender and pour itself out to no other creature.
“Lord, take and sanctify all my words, all my actions, all my desires. Be for my soul its good and its all. To you I give and abandon it.
“I accept with love all that you send me: pain, sorrow, joy, consolation, dryness, shame, desertion, scorn, humiliation, work, suffering, trials, everything that comes to me from you, everything that you wish, O Jesus.
“I submit humbly to the glorious control of your providence in supporting me solely by the help of your immense goodness; I promise you the most sincere fidelity. O Divine Savior, as a victim for the salvation of souls, I surrender and abandon myself to you.
“I implore you to accept all of my offering, and I will then be happy and trusting. Alas! It is all too little, I know, but I haven’t any-thing else; I love my extreme worthlessness, because it will obtain for me your mercy and all your paternal solicitude.
“My God, you know my frailty and the bottomless abyss of my weakness. If, one day, I were to be unfaithful to your sovereign will, if I were to recoil before suffering and the cross, and to stray from your path of love, fleeing the tender protection of your arms, Oh! I beg and implore you for the grace of dying at that instant. Pardon me, O Sacred Heart of my Saviour, forgive me by your most sweet name of Jesus, by the sorrows of Mary, by the intercession of Saint Joseph, and by the love that you had in doing your Father’s will.
“O God of my soul! O Divine Sun! I love you, I bless you, I praise you, I abandon myself completely to you. I take refuge in you; hide me in your bosom, for my being shudders under the burden of the cruel afflictions that crush me on all sides –and I am always so alone.
“My Beloved, help me, take me with you. In you alone I wish to live, so that in you alone I may die.”
Chaplet of the Seven Dolors
of Our Blessed Mother
united to the Sacred wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Crucifix: Apostles’ Creed
Large Bead. May the merits and rays from the holy wounds of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary be united with the merits and rays of the precious holy wounds of Jesus Christ. May they be offered to the Almighty Father for the poor souls in Purgatory, for the salvation of mankind, and for the coming of the Reign of the Divine Will to be done by all mankind.
Small bead. Eternal Father, I offer up to you the Seven Dolors of Our Blessed Mother, united with the precious Holy Wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the salvation of mankind.
(end of decade): Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, may Thy Divine Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
This chaplet is to be united with the Divine Mercy Chaplet as an extension of the holy rays that came from Jesus’ Sacred Heart to St. Faustina, now united to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
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Remedies against Sins,
particularly the Seven Deadly Sins
(continued from previous issue)
Sloth and Indolence suggest: If you apply
yourself to study, prayer, meditation, and tears you will injure your eyes. If
you prolong your vigils and fasts you will weaken your body and unfit yourself
for spiritual exercises. Industry and Zeal answer: Who has assured you many
years for the performance of these good works? Are you sure of tomorrow, or
even of the present moment? Have you forgotten these words of Our Saviour. "Watch ye, therefore,
because you know not the day nor the hour" (Matt. 25:13)? Arise, then, and
cast aside this indolence which has seized you, for the
Covetousness insinuates: Do not give any of your possessions to strangers, but keep them for yourself and your own. Mercy answers: Remember the lesson of the covetous rich man of the Gospel who was clothed in purple and fine linen; he was not condemned for taking what did not belong to him, but for not giving from his abundance. (Cf. Lk. 16:22). From the depth of Hell he begged for a drop of water to quench his thirst; but it was denied him, because he had refused to the poor man at his gate even the crumbs which fell from his table.
Gluttony urges: God created all these things
for us, and he who refuses them despises the benefits of God. Temperance
answers: True, God created these things for our maintenance, but He willed that
we should use them with moderation, for He has also imposed upon us the duty of
sobriety and temperance. It was principally a disregard of these virtues which
brought destruction upon the city of
Loquacity tells us: It is no sin to talk much if you say no evil, as, on the contrary, it does not free you from fault to allege that your words are few if what you have said is bad, Discreet Reserve answers: That is true; but great talkers seldom fail to offend with the tongue. Hence the Wise Man says, "In the multitude of words there shall not want sin." (Prov. 10:19). And if you are so fortunate as to avoid injurious words against your neighbor, you will hardly avoid idle words, for which, however, you must render an account on the last day. Be reserved and moderate, therefore, in your speech, that a multiplicity of words may not entangle you in sin.
Impurity counsels thus: Profit now by the pleasures life offers you, for you know not what may happen tomorrow; it is unreasonable to restrict the pleasures of youth, which passes like a dream. If God had not willed us the enjoyment of these pleasures, He never would have created us as we are. Chastity answers: Be not deceived by such illusions. Consider what is prepared for you. If you live pure lives on earth you will be rewarded hereafter with ineffable and eternal joys. But if you abandon yourself to your impure desires you will be punished by torments equally unspeakable and eternal. The more sensible you are of the fleeting nature of these pleasures, the more earnestly you should endeavor to live chastely; for wretched indeed is that hour of gratification which is purchased at the expense of endless suffering.
All that we have said in the preceding pages
will furnish you with spiritual arms to triumph over your enemies. If you
follow these counsels you will take the first step in virtue; that is, you will
extirpate your vices. Thus will you defend your soul, the citadel which God has
confided to your care, and in which He wills to take up His abode. If you defend
it resolutely and faithfully you will enjoy the presence of this heavenly
Guest, for the Apostle tells us that "God is charity, and he that abideth
in charity abideth in God, and God in him." (l Jn. 4:16). Now, he abides in
charity who does nothing to destroy this virtue, which
perishes only by mortal sin, against which the preceding considerations may be
applied as a preventive or remedy. – Ven. Louis of
THE FRIVOLOUS MAN
by G.K. Chesterton
By one of those queer associations that nobody can ever understand, a large number of people have come to think that frivolity has some kind of connection with enjoyment. As a matter of fact, nobody can really enjoy himself unless he is serious.
Even those whom we commonly regard as belonging to the butterfly classes of society really enjoy themselves most at the crises of their lives which are potentially tragic. Men can only enjoy fundamental things. In order to enjoy the lightest and most flying joke, a man must be rooted in some basic sense of the good of things; and the good of things means, of course, the seriousness of things.
In order to enjoy even a pas de quatre at a subscription dance a man must feel for the moment that the stars are dancing to the same tune. In the old religions of the world, indeed, people did think that the stars were dancing to the tunes of their temples; and they danced as no man has danced since. But thorough enjoyment, enjoyment that has no hesitation, no incidental blight, no arrière pensée, is only possible to the serious man. Wine, says the Scripture, maketh glad the heart of man, but only of the man who has a heart. And so also the thing called good spirits is possible only to the spiritual.
The really frivolous man, the frivolous man of society, we all know, and any of us who know him truthfully know that if he has one characteristic more salient than another it is that he is a pessimist. The idea of the gay and thoughtless man of fashion, intoxicated with pagan delights, is a figment invented entirely by religious people who never met any such man in their lives. The man of pleasure is one of the fables of the pious. Puritans have given a great deal too much credit to the power which the world has to satisfy the soul; in admitting that the sinner is gay and careless they have given away the strongest part of their case. As a matter of fact, Puritanism commonly falls into the error of accusing the frivolous man of all the wrong vices. For instance, it says (and it is a favourite phrase) that the frivolous man is "careless". In truth the frivolous man is very careful. Not only does he spend hours over dressing and similar technical matters, but a great part of his life is passed in criticising and discussing similar technical matters. At any odd hour of the day we may find him talking about whether one man has the right kind of coat or another man the wrong kind of dinner-service; and about these matters he is far more solemn than a Pope or a General Council. His general air about them might be described as rather sad than serious, as rather hopeless than severe. Religion might approximately be defined as the power which makes us joyful about the things that matter. Fashionable frivolity might, with a parallel propriety, be defined as the power which makes us sad about the things that do not matter.
Frivolity has nothing to do with happiness. It plays upon the surface of things, and the surface is almost always rough and uneven. The frivolous person is the person who cannot fully appreciate the weight and value of anything. In practice he does not appreciate even the weight and value of the things commonly counted frivolous. He does not enjoy his cigars as the gutter boy enjoys his cigarette; he does not enjoy his ballet as the child enjoys "Punch and Judy". But, in fairness to him, it must be admitted that he is not alone in being frivolous: other classes of men share the reproach. Thus, for instance, bishops are generally frivolous, moral teachers are generally frivolous, statesmen are generally frivolous, conscientious objectors are generally frivolous. Philosophers and poets are often frivolous; politicians are always frivolous. For if frivolity signifies this lack of grasp of the fullness and the value of things, it must have a great many forms besides that of mere levity and pleasure-seeking. A great many people have a fixed idea that irreverence, for instance, consists chiefly in making jokes. But it is quite possible to be irreverent with a diction devoid of the slightest touch of indecorum, and with a soul unpolluted by a tinge of humour. The splendid and everlasting definition of real irreverence is to be found in that misunderstood and neglected commandment which declares that the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain. This again is supposed vaguely to have some connection with buffoonery and jocularity and play upon words. But surely that is not the plain meaning of the phrase. To say a thing with a touch of humour is not to say it in vain.
To say a thing with a touch of satire or individual criticism is not to say it in vain. To say a thing even fantastically, like some fragment from the scriptures of Elfland, is not to say it in vain. But to say a thing with a pompous and unmeaning gravity; to say a thing so that it shall be at once bigoted and vague; to say a thing so that it shall be indistinct at the same moment that it is literal; to say a thing so that the most decorous listener shall not at the end of it really know why in the name of all things you should have said it or he should have listened to it-- this is veritably and in the weighty sense of those ancient Mosaic words to take that thing in vain. The Name is taken in vain many times more often by preachers than it is by secularists. The blasphemer is, indeed, fundamentally natural and prosaic, for he speaks in a commonplace manner about that which he believes to be commonplace. But the ordinary preacher and religious orator speaks in a commonplace manner about that which he believes to be divine.
This is the breach of one of the Commandments; it is the sin against the name. Take, if you will, the name wildly, take it jestingly, take it brutally and angrily, take it childishly, take it wrongly; but do not take it in vain. Use a sanctity for some strange or new purpose and justify that use; use a sanctity for some doubtful and experimental purpose and stake your act on your success; use a sanctity for some base and hateful purpose and abide the end. But do not use a sanctity for no purpose at all; do not talk about Christ when you might as well talk about Mr. Perks; do not use patriotism and honour and the Communion of Saints as stopgaps in a halting speech. This is the sin of frivolity, and it is the chief characteristic of the great majority of the conventionally religious class.
Thus we come back to the conclusion that real seriousness is at a discount alike among the irreligious and the religious, alike in the worldly and in the unworldly world.
From: London's Daily News and Tremendous Trifles
From time to time I have introduced into this newspaper column the narration of incidents that have really occurred. I do not mean to insinuate that in this respect it stands alone among newspaper columns. I mean only that I have found that my meaning was better expressed by some practical parable out of daily life than by any other method; therefore I propose to narrate the incident of the extraordinary cabman, which occurred to me only three days ago, and which, slight as it apparently is, aroused in me a moment of genuine emotion bordering upon despair.
On the day that I met the strange cabman I
had been lunching in a little restaurant in
[Editor's Note - From other writings of Chesterton, we know that the "open-minded" friend referred to here is H.G. Wells. Also, we learn from the paragraph to follow that Hilaire Belloc was another of those present at this Soho meeting. And it is quite possible, even probable, that George Bernard Shaw was also in the party.]
Now when this argument was over, or at least when it was cut short (for it will never be over), I went away with one of my companions, who in the confusion and comparative insanity of a General Election had somehow become a member of Parliament, and I drove with him in a cab from the corner of Leicester Square to the members' entrance of the House of Commons, where the police received me with a quite unusual tolerance. Whether they thought that he was my keeper or that I was his keeper is a discussion between us which still continues.
It is necessary in this narrative to preserve
the utmost exactitude of detail. After leaving my friend at the House I took
the cab on a few hundred yards to an office in
I looked at the man. No ordinary dishonest cabman would think of creating so solid and colossal and creative a lie. And this man was not a dishonest cabman. If ever a human face was heavy and simple and humble, and with great big blue eyes protruding like a frog's, if ever (in short) a human face was all that a human face should be, it was the face of that resentful and respectful cabman. I looked up and down the street; an unusually dark twilight seemed to be coming on. And for one second the old nightmare of the sceptic put its finger on my nerve. What was certainty? Was anybody certain of anything? Heavens! to think of the dull rut of the sceptics who go on asking whether we possess a future life. The exciting question for real scepticism is whether we possess past life. What is a minute ago, rationalistically considered, except a tradition and a picture? The darkness grew deeper from the road. The cabman calmly gave me the most elaborate details of the gesture, the words, the complex but consistent course of action which I had adopted since that remarkable occasion when I had hailed him outside Euston Station. How did I know (my sceptical friends would say) that I had not hailed him outside Euston. I was firm about my assertion; he was quite equally firm about his. He was obviously quite as honest a man as I, and a member of a much more respectable profession. In that moment the universe and the stars swung just a hair's breadth from their balance, and the foundations of the earth were moved. But for the same reason that I believe in Democracy, for the same reason that I believe in free will, for the same reason that I believe in fixed character of virtue, the reason that could only be expressed by saying that I do not choose to be a lunatic, I continued to believe that this honest cabman was wrong, and I repeated to him that I had really taken him at the corner of Leicester Square. He began with the same evident and ponderous sincerity, "You hailed me outside Euston Station, and you said ..."
And at this moment there came over his
features a kind of frightful transfiguration of living astonishment, as if he
had been lit up like a lamp from the inside. "Why, I beg your pardon,
sir," he said. "I beg your pardon. I beg your pardon. You took me
I looked at the strange cabman as he lessened in the distance and the mists. I do not know whether I was right in fancying that although his face had seemed so honest, there was something unearthly and demoniac about him when seen from behind. Perhaps he had been sent to tempt me from my adherence to those sanities and certainties which I had defended earlier in the day. In any case it gave me pleasure to remember that my sense of reality, though it had rocked for an instant, had remained erect.
The Extraordinary Cabman first appeared in London's Daily News. It was later collected in the volume of essays Tremendous Trifles.
They Would Like It To Happen
really there are very few English people who would not like it (warmth, affection) to happen.
Puritanism is only a paralysis.”
The Incomplete Traveler. … The dates of my first and second visits to America have some true significance; for one was about a year after the Palestinian visit, and the other was comparatively recently; in 1930. This is not only because the first was very near the beginning and the second very near the end of the prolonged freak of Prohibition. I will not stop here to argue with any fool who thinks there is something funny about objecting to Prohibition. What is part of the same process is this; that one began with the Boom and the other saw the start of the Slump and what is more important, a profound revolution in the highly intelligent American people. It is not trivial that, touching Prohibition, they had wholly changed; at the beginning even those who disliked it believed in it; at the end even those who liked it disbelieved in it. But it is much more important that, by the end, lifelong Republicans told me of their intention to vote for Franklin Roosevelt; even those who had cursed the demagogy of Theodore Roosevelt. The Americans have seen more plutocracy than anybody; but I am not sure they may not see through it sooner than anybody else.
For the rest, my last American tour consisted
of inflicting no less than ninety-nine lectures on people who never did me any
harm; and the remainder of the adventure, which was very enjoyable, breaks up
like a dream into isolated incidents. A aged negro
porter, with a face like a walnut, whom I discouraged from brushing my hat, and
who rebuked me saying, “Ho, young man. Yo’s losing yo
dignity before yo time. Yo’s got to look nice for de girls.” A grave messenger
who came to me in a
…. After all, the strangest country I ever
I felt the same when I went to lecture in
I recently revisited
from Ch. XV, The Incomplete Traveler,
The Autobiography of G.K. Chesterton (1936).
Gilbert Keith Chesterton (May 29, 1874 -- June 14, 1936) was an English writer of the early 20th century. Today, he remains an influential figure, perhaps because he has more quotable pithy sayings than most anyone this side of Shakespeare. Quite a few of his works remain in print, including collections of his Father Brown detective stories.
== Life and Career ==
Born in Campden Hill,
Chesterton wrote around 80 books, several
hundred poems, 200 short stories, 4000 essays and a few plays. He was a
columnist for the ''Daily News'', ''Illustrated London News'', and his own
paper, ''G.K's Weekly''. In the
The British writer, Hilaire Belloc, is often associated with his friend, Chesterton. Although very different men, they had in common their Catholic faith and a critical attitude to both capitalism and socialism. Both are figures likely to outlast many of their more celebrated literary contemporaries.
Chesterton was a large man, standing 6 feet 4 inches and weighing in at around 300 pounds. Chesterton had a unique look, usually wearing a cape and a crumpled hat, with a swordstick in hand, and usually a cigar hanging out of his mouth. Chesterton rarely remembered where he was supposed to be going and would even miss the train that was supposed to take him there. It was not uncommon for Chesterton to send a telegram to his wife, Frances Blogg, whom he married in 1901, from some distant (and incorrect) location writing such things as, "Am at Market Harborough. Where ought I to be?" to which she would reply, "Home."
Chesterton loved to debate, often publicly debating friends like George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, Bertrand Russell, and Clarence Darrow. Chesterton was usually considered the winner. According to his autobiography, he and George Bernard Shaw played cowboys in a silent movie that, alas, was never released.
He is buried in
* Chesterton's ''The Everlasting Man'' contributed to a young atheist named C. S. Lewis being converted to Christianity.
* Chesterton's “Orthodoxy” (book) has become a religious classic.
* An essay that
Chesterton wrote for the ''Illustrated London News'' inspired Mohandas Gandhi
to lead the movement to end British colonial rule in
* Chesterton's novel ''The Napoleon of Notting Hill'' inspired Michael Collins to lead a movement for Irish Independence. The same book inspired George Orwell for writing his 1984, which has several implicit references to TNoNH.
* Chesterton's work has inspired lyricists like Daniel Amos's Terry Scott Taylor from the 1970s to the 2000s. Daniel Amos mentioned Chesterton by name in the title track from 2001's ''Mr. Buechner's Dream''.
* His physical appearance, and apparently some of his mannerisms, were a direct inspiration for the character of Dr. Gideon Fell, a well-known fictional detective created in the early 1930s by the American-Anglo Mystery writer John Dickson Carr.
works are available in libraries, bookstores and on line: www.chesterton.org American Chesterton Society,
Miracles and Modern Civilization
Mr. Blatchford has summed up all that is important in his whole position in three sentences. They are perfectly honest and clear. Nor are they any the less honest and clear because the first two of them are falsehoods and the third is a fallacy. He says "The Christian denies the miracles of the Mahommedan. The Mahommedan denies the miracles of the Christian. The Rationalist denies all miracles alike."
The historical error in the first two remarks I will deal with shortly. I confine myself for the moment to the courageous admission of Mr. Blatchford that the Rationalist denies all miracles alike. He does not question them. He does not pretend to be agnostic about them. He does not suspend his judgment until they shall be proved. He denies them.
Faced with this astounding dogma I asked Mr. Blatchford why he thought miracles would not occur. He replied that the Universe was governed by laws. Obviously this answer is of no use whatever. For we cannot call a thing impossible because the world is governed by laws, unless we know what laws. Does Mr. Blatchford know all about all the laws in the Universe? And if he does not know about the laws, how can he possibly know anything about the exceptions?
For, obviously, the mere fact that a thing happens seldom, under odd circumstances and with no explanation within our knowledge, is no proof that it is against natural law. That would apply to the Siamese twins, or to a new comet, or to radium three years ago.
The philosophical case against miracles is somewhat easily dealt with. There is no philosophical case against miracles. There are such things as the laws of Nature rationally speaking. What everybody knows is this only. That there is repetition in nature. What everybody knows is that pumpkins pro-duce pumpkins. What nobody knows is why they should not produce elephants and giraffes.
There is one philosophical question about
miracles and only one. Many able modern Rationalists cannot apparently even get
it into their heads. The poorest lad at
The question of miracles is merely this. Do you know why a pumpkin goes on being a pumpkin? If you do not, you cannot possibly tell whether a pumpkin could turn into a coach or couldn't. That is all.
All the other scientific expressions you are in the habit of using at breakfast are words and winds. You say "It is a law of nature that pumpkins should remain pumpkins." That only means that pumpkins generally do remain pumpkins, which is obvious; it does not say why. You say "Experience is against it." That only means, "I have known many pumpkins intimately and none of them turned into coaches."
There was a great Irish Rationalist of this school (possibly related to Mr. Lecky), who when he was told that a witness had seen him commit murder said that he could bring a hundred witnesses who had not seen him commit it.
You say "The modern world is against
it." That means that a mob of men in
You say "Science is against it." That means that so long as pumpkins are pumpkins their conduct is pumpkiny, and bears no resemblance to the conduct of a coach. That is fairly obvious.
What Christianity says is merely this. That this repetition in Nature has its origin not in a thing resembling a law but a thing resembling a will. Of course its phase of a Heavenly Father is drawn from an earthly father. Quite equally Mr. Blatchford's phase of a universal law is a metaphor from an Act of Parliament. But Christianity holds that the world and its repetition came by will or Love as children are begotten by a father, and therefore that other and different things might come by it. Briefly, it believes that a God who could do anything so extraordinary as making pumpkins go on being pumpkins, is like the prophet, Habbakuk, Capable de tout. If you do not think it extraordinary that a pumpkin is always a pumpkin, think again. You have not yet even begun philosophy. You have not even seen a pumpkin.
The historic case against miracles is also rather simple. It consists of calling miracles impossible, then saying that no one but a fool believes impossibilities: then declaring that there is no wise evidence on behalf of the miraculous. The whole trick is done by means of leaning alternately on the philosophical and historical objection. If we say miracles are theoretically possible, they say, "Yes, but there is no evidence for them." When we take all the records of the human race and say, "Here is your evidence," they say, "But these people were superstitious, they believed in impossible things."
The real question is whether our little
Mr. Blatchford himself, however, has summed up perfectly his pathetic faith in modern civilisation. He has written a very amusing description of how difficult it would be to persuade an English judge in a modern law court of the truth of the Resurrection. Of course he is quite right; it would be impossible. But it does not seem to occur to him that we Christians may not have such an extravagant reverence for English judges as is felt by Mr. Blatchford himself.
The experiences of the Founder of Christianity have perhaps left us in a vague doubt of the infallibility of courts of law. I know quite well that nothing would induce a British judge to believe that a man had risen from the dead. But then I know quite as well that a very little while ago nothing would have induced a British judge to believe that a Socialist could be a good man. A judge would refuse to believe in new spiritual wonders. But this would not be because he was a judge, but because he was, besides being a judge, an English gentleman, a modern Rationalist, and something of an old fool.
And Mr. Blatchford is quite wrong in supposing that the Christian and the Moslem deny each other's miracles. No religion that thinks itself true bothers about the miracles of another religion. It denies the doctrines of the religion; it denies its morals; but it never thinks it worth while to deny its signs and wonders.
And why not? Because these things some men have always thought possible. Because any wandering gipsy may have Psychical powers. Because the general existence of a world of spirits and of strange mental powers is a part of the common sense of all mankind. The Pharisees did not dispute the miracles of Christ; they said they were worked by devilry. The Christians did not dispute the miracles of Mahomed. They said they were worked by devilry. The Roman world did not deny the possibility that Christ was a God. It was far too enlightened for that.
In so far as the Church did (chiefly during the corrupt and sceptical eighteenth century) urge miracles as a reason for belief, her fault is evident: but it is not what Mr. Blatchford supposes. It is not that she asked men to believe anything so incredible; it is that she asked men to be converted by anything so commonplace.
What matters about a religion is not whether it can work marvels like any ragged Indian conjurer, but whether it has a true philosophy of the Universe. The Romans were quite willing to admit that Christ was a God. What they denied was the He was the God - the highest truth of the cosmos. And this is the only point worth discussing about Christianity.
A Magazine for the Latter Times
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the
Reflections. We are all so much in
need for enlightenment, as this is what shines through from its holy pages.
Thank you again. May Jesus, Mary and Joseph protect you.
To Spread the Passion of the Christ
Issues of Reflections: --- Julian
Former issues of Reflections are available here, including the one about Julian of Norwich and the Bermuda Triangle. http://avalon44.tripod.com –go to the picture of the two white horses.
New Edition of Penitential Rosary
We printed a new, larger, easy-to-read edition of the Penitential Rosary. The price is the same as before: $1.00. If you order 10 or more, there is a discount: 0.75 each. For 20 or more, 0.50 .
Notice: The banks in
Romance of Orthodoxy
This was the big fact about
Christian ethics; the discovery of the new balance. Paganism had been like a
pillar of marble, upright because proportioned with symmetry. Christianity was
like a huge and ragged and romantic rock, which, though it sways on its
pedestal at a touch, yet, because its exaggerated excrescences exactly balance
each other, is enthroned there for a thousand years. In a Gothic cathedral the
columns were all different, but they were all necessary. Every support seemed
an accidental and fantastic support; every buttress was a flying buttress. So
in Christendom apparent accidents balanced. Becket wore a hair shirt under his
gold and crimson, and there is much to be said for the combination; for Becket
got the benefit of the hair shirt while the people in the street got the
benefit of the crimson and gold. It is at least better than the manner of the
modern millionaire, who has the black and the drab outwardly for others, and the gold next his heart. But the balance was not
always in one man's body as in Becket's; the balance was often distributed over
the whole body of Christendom. Because a man prayed and fasted on the Northern
snows, flowers could be flung at his festival in the Southern cities; and
because fanatics drank water on the sands of
Last and most important, it is exactly
this which explains what is so inexplicable to all the modern critics of the
history of Christianity. I mean the monstrous wars about small points of
theology, the earthquakes of emotion about a gesture or a word. It was only a
matter of an inch; but an inch is everything when you are balancing. The Church
could not afford to swerve a hair's breadth on some things if she was to
continue her great and daring experiment of the irregular equilibrium. Once let
one idea become less powerful and some other idea would become too powerful. It
was no flock of sheep the Christian shepherd was leading, but a herd of bulls
and tigers, of terrible ideals and devouring doctrines, each one of them strong
enough to turn to a false religion and lay waste the world. Remember that the
Church went in specifically for dangerous ideas; she was a lion tamer. The idea
of birth through a Holy Spirit, of the death of a divine being, of the
forgiveness of sins, or the fulfilment of prophecies, are ideas which, any one
can see, need but a touch to turn them into something blasphemous or ferocious.
The smallest link was let drop by the artificers of the
This is the thrilling romance of Orthodoxy. People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy. It was sanity: and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad. It was the equilibrium of a man behind madly rushing horses, seeming to stoop this way and to sway that, yet in every attitude having the grace of statuary and the accuracy of arithmetic. The Church in its early days went fierce and fast with any warhorse; yet it is utterly unhistoric to say that she merely went mad along one idea, like a vulgar fanaticism. She swerved to left and right, so exactly as to avoid enormous obstacles. She left on one hand the huge bulk of Arianism, buttressed by all the worldly powers to make Christianity too worldly. The next instant she was swerving to avoid an orientalism, which would have made it too unworldly. The orthodox Church never took the tame course or accepted the conventions; the orthodox Church was never respectable. It would have been easier to have accepted the earthly power of the Arians. It would have been easy, in the Calvinistic seventeenth century, to fall into the bottomless pit of predestination. It is easy to be a madman: it is easy to be a heretic. It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one's own. It is always easy to be a modernist; as it is easy to be a snob. To have fallen into any of those open traps of error and exaggeration which fashion after fashion and sect after sect set along the historic path of Christendom -- that would indeed have been simple. It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands. To have fallen into any one of the fads from Gnosticism to Christian Science would indeed have been obvious and tame. But to have avoided them all has been one whirling adventure; and in my vision the heavenly chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect.
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