Thursday, September 30, 2010

Spiritual training and the "development of the moral imagination"

I am over here reading author and artist Michael O' Brien's thoughts and experiences regarding the "Harry Potter" series. This is a long quote,written by O'Brien and is in the preface of his new book on the "HP" series, but so worth reading:

...The imagination is a phenomenally powerful faculty of the interior life of human beings. How it functions, and how it assimilates and recreates images and concepts into new forms, remains to some degree a mystery. It is like an empty stage, and whatever comes to habitually take place on that stage depends largely on what we choose through the will and the intellect to put there—or to allow to remain there. The imagination’s dramas can be generated by the literal events in the environment around us, by powerful emotional and sensory stimuli, and by painful and joyful experiences. It is also the arena where the subconscious mind dramatizes desires and conflicts (either in dreams or waking fantasies), where the lower appetites throw up images, sometimes exalted, sometimes sinful, sometimes a mixture of these. The imagination also tends to reflect the preoccupations and the spiritual condition of the society around us.

In addition, the imagination is a screen onto which the evil spirits can “project” images, temptations presented as stimulating entertainments, offering us pleasurable rewards if we give in to the temptation. The more we give in, the more this dimension of the imagination grows, the more it becomes a vehicle of enchantment of the will, then obsession, and if not wholly repented of, ending in some degree of bondage to evil. If we want to become whole and healthy, the imagination must be trained, just as the body, the rational intellect, and the will must be trained. Any one of these aspects of our personhood, if not brought under discipline and self-mastery with the help of grace, can lead to the domination of the part over the whole. The development of a moral imagination, therefore, demands as much self-restraint and proper direction as an athlete exercises over his body.

St. Jerome, pray for us!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

TKC! (con't)

"A Place to Hang Your Hat"

One day, when I was a young, first-time mom, I sat down to try to write a short story called, "A Place to Hang Your Hat." Down the road, I want to work on expressing what was going on in my mind and heart, as I thought about this story. First, I will give a bit of personal backstory:

I love to read, and there is nothing better than a well-constructed story to teach us the problems, depths and joys of the human heart. When I was in college at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, my dear friend, Sophie, introduced me to the fiction of Flannery O'Conner. Now, is that not funny that a southern girl (me) goes to college in the northeast, and there finds the work of one of the best southern artists to have ever lived! In those college days, I read and wrote and discussed ideas all the time. I had already become, during my senior year in high school, very interested in the writing of Ernest Hemingway and the ideas of Karl Marx. I gravitated, at Brown, to a literature and history program that was founded by two professors who were both "literary Marxists," of a sort. There was an entire range of Leftist intellectual "dabblings" among the professors; I say "dabblings" because there was --fortunately-- no real coherence; and, again --fortunately-- there was a good deal of plain old compassion and common sense, possibly vestigal to the professors' earlier classical studies (just a theory).

(must go do laundry -- to be continued...) St. Pio, pray for us!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What does "TKC!" mean? My first draft

Be prepared to put your life on the line in order to enlighten the world with the truth of Christ; to respond with love to hatred and disregard for life; to proclaim the hope of the risen Christ in every corner of the earth.

—POPE BENEDICT XVI, Message to the Young People of the World, World Youth Day, 2008

(quote taken from Mark Mallet's blog)

When I was very sick, after our son was born, I discovered Mark Mallet's music and drew strength from it and his writing. Recently, I re-discovered his writing, thanks be to God. It is at a time in my own journey of faith when I am struggling to improve and live closer to God and His Will. As an aside, something Mark said (somewhere?) in his writing made me reflect on the process of writing: writing is a gift from God and, over and over in my life, I have found that I learn as I write. This is okay. A writer does not have to have it all figured out to perfection before sitting down to write.

Well, as my husband often tells our oldest child, "we must often generalize first before delving into the specifics." Some young people, especially those of the dominant intraverted temperament, have trouble with generalizations. In our daughter's case, and sometimes even in the case of my husband (he would not mind my sharing this), the intravert's sense of justice often thrashes at the obscurity of a generalization or a "not-flushed-out" premise or rhetorical question.

Back to the topic at hand (smile), I am just a housewife and a mom. I love being a housewife and a mom. Over the period of about 4 years, I kept hearing in my prayers a call to join Regnum Christi. I was following a rule of life and trying hard to make all my thoughts, words and actions be little gifts to God. This was not because I was anything great, but I had, all thanks be to God and His graces, come to a certain place spiritually.

I would describe that as a place where we know we are home. We know Who God is, and we want, more than anything on earth, to be a member of His family, both now and throughout all of eternity. This is a good place to be. It is the best place to be, and that is why the three enemies of the soul war with such force to move us from this place.

Christ's Kingdom is not of this earth, yet, at the same time, the light and salt of souls living on earth fully in a state of grace is akin to the Blessed Virgin's standing on the head of the serpent. The devils and his armies are blinded and bound by the light and love of such souls. To aspire to be a child of God is the goal of the earthly life, and it is what will get us to Heaven. To proclaim "TKC!" is to desire Heaven. Okay, think on that.

Please also realize that we often fall short, and sometimes, in this noble pursuit, we fall and fall hard. For those of us who often teeter out, or almost out, of the blessed state of grace, then confidence in our Guardian Angels, the intercession of the Blessed Virgin and the power of the Holy Eucharist will bring us back to full sanity. Sanity of the soul is all that really matters.

I have to go pick up our firstborn from school -- so, "to be continued" and, the good Lord be pleased to give me the time to do it, "to be polished up" too.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us!

I am over here to wind down and marvel at the beauty of it all!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Reading Caryll Houselander...

...and loving it. Here is a "freebie" from the Catholic Culture website. And, over here is one of the books that I am reading whose editor did a fine job.

I am amazed at how she, by her passionate adherence to the sacramental life of the Church and committment to daily prayer, maintained a sound mind and joyful, productive spirit during some very dark times. Our times of the "culture wars" are dark in a more interior way, and we have much to learn from her life. While we do not have to run with all of our might in to our air raid shelter, we must be so very vigilant about the "bombs" dropped on us by the three enemies of our soul.