Saturday, 1 June 2013


You've heard it said that we are no longer under the Law, meaning the Law given to Moses by God on Horeb. But the Law which God requires of all mankind is the Law of Righteousness. Therefore, St. Paul says that those who do what is in the Law (of Moses) fulfilling the requirements of righteousness (which is the Law which Abraham was under. Namely, to walk before the Lord perfectly), without being under the Law are a law unto themselves. Wicked and deceived people go around trying as they may to conflate the Mosaic Law and the Law of Righteousness which was given through Christ, so that by having been excused by God from the Law they might excuse themselves from righteousness. These people are lawless, and they never stop making excuses for their wickedness. They live without the natural restraint which comes from living righteously. They reject righteousness for what they call liberty, when it is liberty which is given by Christ to His people so that they can be righteous. This is the lawlessness I was speaking of.

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Be Human

You don't need to become divine in order to be a saint. All you have to do is become human. Do you understand? Man is made in the image of God, which is a divine image. To be human is to bear divine similitude. That similitude is the source of human existence. Since the Fall, man's humanity is delimited. A delimited glory. Christ Theanthropos (Godman) is more human that we are. He was conceived without sin. God does not have a delimited glory. But in the Incarnation, He has united His divinity with our humanity, and our humanity with His divinity. Strive to be what God created you to be, and this is enough. You cannot be more than what you were created to be.

Think back to how it was before we inherited this delimited glory, Adam walking in the Garden with the Lord. He walked, walked, with the Lord of Glory who is an all consuming fire, in the cool of the day. He was in the Glory of God. This is theoria, and theosis... the way things ought to be. This is how man was created, this was his lot. People go around sinning and erring all the time, and they think they are humble when they excuse themselves, saying," Oh, I'm not perfect. I'm just human!" What is this? This is not being human. This is a statement which is referential of the fact that we are NOT fully human. Do you see the way things ought to be understood? Don't excuse yourself. Strive for perfection, seeking His kingdom and His righteousness. Be strong.

And we know we are strong when we admit we are weak, crying out for mercy," Kyrie Iesou Christi eleison me!" (Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!) Strive to be human. Fix your understanding of what it really means to be human. Wash your heart with prayer and the reading of scripture, by partaking of the sacraments. All the wonderful things you are capable of, called divine, these are what it means to be human. Become human and He will unite your humanity with His divinity. Do you require proof? Then, understand that this is why Mary was assumpted into heaven. This is why Enoch and Elijah and Moses were assumpted. Christ undermined the natural flow of time, and you see them transcending all, their humanity enraptured and united to His divinity. Strive to be human. Purify your understanding of what it means to be human.

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

The Heart

How many of you have awoken to the sensation of falling? Where did that fear come from? Was it an image in your mind that frightened you? Or was it something in the pit of you?

How many of you have been wrongfully accused? Where did that glow of anger come from? Did it start within the mind and move to heart? Or did it pour out from the middle of you?

Or how many of you, when you were young saw a beautiful woman? Did that sensation start in your mind intellectually? Or did that flush feeling emanate through you starting at the center of your being? Hot faced and weak, swooning like a fool.

As Christ said, evil comes out of the heart of a man. Here we have fear, anger, lust. These things you feel automatically. You don't even have to try to feel them. But let you look upon a crucifix! and how hard it is for you to feel something genuine, not self-promoted. The only emotion you can work up is self-suggested maudlin.

Do you see how small the heart is? Do you see how full of evil it is? We ought not love God out of duty. No. We ought to strive for this automatic response which comes from the heart being filled with holiness. This is the prayer of the heart. Presently, the heart wants evil: vengeance, comforts, fornications. When we stop coming to God through images primarily, and our heart beats for him, apart from the images... then we are close. We are VERY close!

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

How My Pursuit for Holiness Almost Ruined My Life

It wasn't until I really, I mean really, let my sins go in the sacrament of confession that I began to make progress. I used to think somehow, subconsciously, that being 'afraid' of certain sins, worrying about committing them, being anxious about them (hyper-vigilance), and hating them would bring about metanoia (repentance) and metamorphosis (change). That by these means I would someday, if I kept at it, escape my sins, that I would stop sinning. This deluded me, and I thought to myself," You have only to be courageous and obedient! Do not do...!" I thought my virtue would save me, even understanding that it was God-given, to help me. He would give me His courage! He would help me abstain!

And other Christians led me to believe it, too. They said," Yes! Keep on!" Some directly, some indirectly. Others I misunderstood, because of my own delusion. It wasn't until I understood that fear, worry, anxiety, and hate only tend to evil... that I really began to leave them behind. Christ didn't come to stop me, to prevent me, to make me abstain. He came to set me free, not only from what I had done, but He had freed me to set me at perfect liberty. He did not come to recruit soldiers, dispensing courage, to have them fight a battle that He had already won. No. He came, giving His Spirit, heartening us with courage so that we would proclaim Christ crucified, in word and deed. I was in truth trying to fulfill the Law, and did not recognize it.
I was believing a lie. Namely, that though I was absolved, I was still full of sin. That I could save myself from sin, if only God would give me the tools, if only He would help me obey the rules!

I learned to love God in that miserable state of despair out of auto-suggested zeal and duty. I did not love God with my heart, that miserable, shriveled up, little raisin. I only intellectually comprehended who He is and that I owed him something. So, imagine how shallow my view of Christ was! I was so shallow! I was a faker! But I desperately wanted to be good. My pursuit for holiness had ruined me, because I was not seeking 'first the Kingdom of God and HIS righteousness'... which is that He is loving and merciful, and that through His loving mercy He establishes His kingdom with in me. Because He says," No one will say,' Lo, here it is... or... Lo, there it is. For the Kingdom of God is within you." Can you see how backward I was? And maybe this is you, right now! It can be over in an instant. Cry out for mercy!

Satan had deceived me, and I had deceived myself. I was so frantic, I could not see the mess I was in. I could not see that I was deceived! Moreover, I actually believed that if I persisted in this, I would obtain what my soul was crying out for. Can you imagine? I thought what was killing me was saving me. And the 'duty' to be holy made me seem holy to those around me, so no one could help me. No one knew I was drowning. Least of all myself! I thought I was treading water until I could reach God's far shore. As if God was standing off at a distance for my good. "Who can know God's ways?," I told my self with resignation, as I exhausted myself near to death. That is why I did not experience His grace. The truth was, I had no real faith, because I was putting it in my own false perceptions. I was like Peter, I had started well, got scared, and was about to drown to death.

I was under siege, like an animal being poked in a cage and tortured. I thought I was pleasing God, but I was offending Him! I thought I was offering service to God, but I was serving myself. Worse I was serving demons as their entertainment. I was walking in iniquity, believing I was doing the holy things He commanded me to do. I was rejecting His grace for the Law! And yet, ignorant as I was, I still marveled that Satan tormented me as often as He liked, and with impunity. Christ mercifully made me see that I would escape temptation through His mercy. Not that I would not be tempted, but that I would escape it by grace, through taking every thought captive for Christ and crying out for mercy! His mercy is my life. I knew that, but I did not understand. I had knowledge, but not understanding. And when His Spirit made me understand, I was able to be wise. I could then do what was good, taking no thought of evil. He made me to behave wisely, by enlightening me, and strengthening me to do whatever He had shown me.

I don't carry around those sins on my shoulders. They are not within me, necessitating me to contain them with my virtue, my strength, and my cunning. Not even with my faith, or my hope, or my love. I am not a 'Pandora's Box' of evil, whose lid must remain shut! I am the temple. I had been been closing the gates of my heart, but through Christ I now understand the Psalmist when he says to me," Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in!" Before, I knew; now, I understand, that though concupiscence is a voice within me, I will drown it out with cries for mercy, not by arguing with it. Not by what I know. Sin is stupid, brothers; it is no feat to win an argument against it! A child can do that. But it doesn't care if you win, because it is Evil. It will destroy you anyway. Thanks be to God that I understand, now!

Nothing is more simple! Accept the work of the Cross, banish condemnation from your heart by believing in and accepting the power of confession, and cry out for mercy. Don't waste any energy on worry, hate, anxiety, or fear. They only work to evil. Simply love what is good, understand that Christ's mercy is your victory over sin, pray incessantly, and do good. Therefore, stay with Him in the Eucharist, and in confession. And of course, forgive all people, especially before they seek forgiveness... this, too, is how you banish condemnation. "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

If I am careful, and I take every thought captive for Christ, through Christ, and nullify the evil images, and cut them off by the name of Jesus Christ... then that poison will not make it's way into my heart. Where does Christ say evil comes from? "It is not what goes into a man which defiles him, but what comes out of him." Elsewhere He says," For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders." So, if I do that first thing, then evil does not come out of me. Then, I have only only not to do evil. Not that I have not to do evil, but that I have to do good. It is for me to do. You don't like all the evil in the world? Stop doing evil. You like the good? Then, do that. Please pray for me as I pray for you.

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Saturday, 18 May 2013

The Worst Kind of People

I want to talk about the worst, most wretched, deplorable, and intolerable kind of person... the complainer. We've all heard the saying," There are some people who just want to watch the world burn." these are the complainers. I know that seems terribly ironic, given the fact that they would complain about it (the world burning), but in point of fact, it truly is the case, because they hate everything. Literally. Whether they admit it or not. Whether they admit it to themselves or others; the hate being alive and they hate creation. Coincidentally, the saintly person also wants to see the world burn. As Christ said," I came to set a fire in the earth, and how I wish it were already blazing!"

What's the difference? The difference is that Christ is talking about theosis. Christ came to become "the first of many", and it is written," God is an all consuming fire." And again, it is written," You shall be as gods to the Egyptians (the world)." Christ wanted to destroy "the world." Of course, we understand "the world" to be the flesh, the passions, the disorder. He also wanted to restore man to the appropriate state of being which God intended for Him, which for a human is theoria: actually, mystically, and in every way being in the presence of God. Think about how Moses, foreshadowing if you will, the state man was to be in from the beginning, by ascending Mt. Horeb into the fire of God. God calls us not only into the fire, but just as Moses came down from the Holy Mountain radiant as the sun because of the glory of God, necessitating the Jews to shroud him because of the residue of the Shekinnah... God also calls us to become the fire, and merely by being in His presence this happens.

This is theosis. Gods being overwhelms our own. When you are truly in unity and submission to God, you become a flame! It's as if you held a burning match to a candle flame, it becomes one flame. This is why He sent them out "two by two," to bring light to the world... BY BURNING IT with the Fire of the Holy Spirit! And this was prefigured when Samson destroyed the crops of the Philistines by tying the tails of two foxes together with torches, so he might send them through the wheat fields and destroy the harvest. God the Father and God the Son share the same Holy Spirit. This is how they are unified. This is how they are a Trinity of Persons. God has given us His Holy Spirit! Through the merits of Christ, and the ministry of His Holy Church, we have bestowed upon us the same Bond which the Father and the Son share! There is nothing higher than this. We have literally been incorporated into the Body of Christ, Who is God.

The complainer is different. They want to see the world burn because they hate it. They want vengeance on everything. They are set on fire by hell itself, and like a burning wheat stalk, the birds (the fallen angels) take this son or daughter of perdition and throw it into a field that is not burning, amongst people who are bearing fruit. This way the creatures that scatter ahead of the flame can be easily devoured by the crows (recall the parable of the Sower). The grains in the ear burst from the heat, shooting out spreading further fire. Understand. "Satan uses all the sons and daughters of disobedience." All of them! And he throws them into places where the Master intends to harvest a good yield. You know the person. The person who destroys the group dynamic, complains about everything, drains everyone with their carping negativity, and contaminates the weak with their disease. The ones who stymie the work, who demoralize the good resolve, who endlessly pity themselves, and seek out commiseration. The person with contagious negativity. Perpetually they cry out," Woe is me!" or,"Why can't anything go right?" or more contemporarily," Murphy! All the time, Murphy!" These are set on fire by hell, and they have come to destroy you. They have come to stop what Christ is doing. They haven't come of their own will. They are slaves to ungratefulness and unrighteousness. Unfortunately, sometimes that is us; but others are this way all the time, without remedy or respite.

They always have an excuse for their failure, or their complaining. They always feel misunderstood. They always answer back. They are always drained, and if they are not, they are prepared to drain others. Tell a tree by its fruit! These are the most unhappy people you have seen! They are lost in substitutes for right doing, adrift in psychoses to justify it. They are hopeless addicts to diversion. These people are worse off than even homeless drunkards. At least, the homeless drunkard pukes on himself and doesn't complain. The rain pours on him and he goes out of the rain under a bridge and troubles no one. He sleeps and wakes up. He thinks about things, walks around. He sleeps against a grave stone on the ground and is happy he has something to prop up against; he delights in a shading tree. He looks happily on his past. He may even be out of his mind, but he somehow knows who he is and what his life is, and he lives it. For better or worse, there it is. He meets his life one day at a time.

Nothing is ever good enough for the complainer, however. They complain about the most menial of tasks, no matter how blessed the thankless git is. While others take courage, and cover up the wounds gotten in the battle of daily life to hearten themselves and those around them, lest anyone should despair at the slightest sight of suffering... that fool stands by and bemoans everything. "The sun is too hot... I'm tired... I'm hungry... I'm sick of this... someone disrespected me... someone was inconsiderate... that was mean... I'm bored... I hate the cold... I wish I were somewhere else... can you believe this happened to me?... what will we do for such and such a need?... I want." And any time a plan of theirs fails, or anytime they chance to see a plan fail they start gnashing their teeth, mouths full of lamentation and wailing. "If it wasn't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all! Why can't anything ever go right. I was going to do the right thing, but my plan was interrupted." And then the fool has the temerity to bemoan their loneliness. Who wants to be around someone like that? Someone who goes around ruining other people's lives with their stupidity and negativity, weighing others down with their imagined, inflated, and exaggerated burdens? As if no one else has struggles. Such a person is contemptible above a dog.

People wonder who the culprits are for why the world is such a horrible place. It's these godless people! It's these weeds who sap the strength of the soil from the wheat that ought to be yielding 30, 60, 100 fold. There isn't enough "grain" to go around, and yet people want to know why mankind is starving. These are the culprits, the ones who are destroying the yield. These are the locusts of hell sent up out of the abyss with human faces and tails like scorpions spoken of in Revelations, who destroy the crop. They captivate people with their negativity and inject them with their poison. These are exceedingly dangerous people who torment the human race, and provoke it to act irrationally and godlessly. They provoke the wrath of God, the same God who oft wanted to destroy Israel in the wilderness for the same sin. The same people who Moses interceded for so often that it wearied him and broke him.

You have to protect yourself from these people, and they are all around you. How can you protect yourself from these burning embers set on fire by hell? "But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." Cleave to the Gospel, the Evangelion, the Good News! In so doing, by protecting yourself, you may yet extinguish one who comes into contact with you; obey the Lord assiduously, with alacrity and gladness! Dress all your works with holy zeal. For this reason St. Jude says,"And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." Their sins are so contemptible even what they have come in contact with is worthy of hatred. They must be separated from it. Hopefully, such as these have not been consumed by the flame. Hopefully, there is more than ash once they are extinguished. But even if they are consumed they have hope in Christ. Because it is written," I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me will live, even though they die."

So, don't engage this hellfire. Don't entertain it. Don't listen to it. If you have the power to, silence it. But above all else "make your call and election sure" through good works "as a good soldier of Christ." These things are acceptable. Take no not of such a deplorable person, and leave them to wallow in their self-pity like swine. Don't cast your pearls before these swine. Be something better, so that perchance you may entice them to something better. But don't go into the mire after them, and sully the "wedding garment." Don't let them destroy you and nullify God's promise to you, like they did to Moses, vexing him so much that he incidentally disobeyed God and disqualified himself from the "Promised Land." Be strong. Don't let them tempt you to wrath, because it is written," A fool's mouth calls for blows." Steady yourself and "do not sin in your anger." Trust in the Spirit of the Lord, and he will keep you from stumbling. The traps which these sons and daughters of disobedience have laid for you will ensnare and destroy them... if you hold fast in the faith and do no wrong. The Lord will deliver you from them shortly, whether by their conversion or their destruction (God forbid). Do not cease to pray to shield yourself from them. Merely avoid them and do well. 

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Evil Images

Nothing can be in the heart that is not first in the mind, unless God puts it there. For instance, God may harden a heart or soften it. The Lord may mercifully enlarge our hearts, and create within us a new and upright spirit. But these are proclivities, which the freewill cooperates with or not. In the hardening of the heart, the person is subjected to justice. As it is written:

"Your commandments we have not
heeded or observed,
nor have we done as You ordered
us for our good.
Therefore all You have brought upon
all You have done to us,
You have done by a proper

But the Evil One influences us with images. This is the way of Angels. Being as they are, that they are pure intellect. They influence the mind with images, by way of memory, by influencing the imagination, by sending evil images of vanity, violence, lust and every other evil. They "use all the sons and daughters of disobedience," having tripped them up this way, and have them trip up the saints. A woman scantly clothed, a man demanding respect through cruelty, another flaunting ill gotten gain so that you might covet. They seek in every way to fill the mind with evil images, so that in poisoning the mind they may poison the heart. In this way they defile the temple of the Heart, which is the Temple of the Most High. In this way they pull down the temple, and raise up the 'abomination of desolation' where it ought not be.

Your holy angel, which the Lord gives to each according to their need, also seeks to influence your thoughts. He is not there, as so many presume to say, to merely protect you from bodily harm. Do you think he ceases to sing spiritual hymns to your soul, or that he does not sing all the more loudly when you are tempted, and louder still once you have fallen? It is written," On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen who shall never hold their peace!" These Watchers cry out to you when dangers approach, because it is written:

" ...if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone's life, that person's life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.'

And we know that they always obey our Father in Heaven. Therefore, listen for the Watchman, and be vigilant. Build up the walls of Zion by "redeeming the time," by making your days upon the earth holy. Commit your memory to the Lord, and He will rescue you from it, and by it. Fight evil images with prayer, especially by crying out for mercy," Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me!"

But do not think that by voiding out evil alone you can succeed. How can you void out evil, and not fill it with good? This too is evil, and will be filled with evil. It is not in your power to sustain voids, nor is it right, because you are to be filled with holy things. And how can you fight endlessly and not become weary? We enter into the Lord's rest not by merely hating evil, because even evil people hate evil things, but by loving the good!

"Clean the inside of the cup and behold, all things shall be clean unto you." Free your mind from evil images by fighting them with the name of Jesus, by washing the soul with prayer and the reading of scripture. But of these two, prayer is more important for you. For though it is written of scripture:

"...the Holy Scriptures... are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

It is written of prayer in the scripture that you shall,"... pray without ceasing." and the psalmist says," I will extol the Lord at all times, His praise will be continually upon my lips." But what good is it for a man to put his house (his soul) in order when a demon leaves? Unless he fully arms himself and protects his goods, thereafter? Unless he does this, the demon will return with seven other demons more evil than himself, and inherit that place again. But how easy it is to overthrow an armed man in the dark! Will you stop at merely cleaning your house and arming yourself? Isn't your intent to keep the Evil One out, and not to make a trap for him, luring him into your house? Do you presume to overpower the Evil One by your strength? Don't be foolish.

What else, then, can a man do? What destroys darkness and will turn it away when it returns? The answer is so simple! What do you do in the world when darkness approaches? Don't you turn on a light? And how do you turn on light apart from prayer and the reading of scripture, even apart from good works? Is there another way? Yes! By making your eye good. As it is written:

" The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light." But someone will surely say," But what if all I see is evil and corrupt?" The important thing is that your gaze is pure; love all that you see. As it is written," All things are pure to the pure." Purify yourself therefore with prayer, the sacraments, and the reading of scripture, and determine to love all that you see. If you do this, the Evil One's images will lose their evil meaning.

All of us have seen someone pure in heart, often old or very young, saying things that would be inappropriate for the wicked to say. The imagination of the wicked is evil all the time, and they never stop looking for a way to taking innocent sayings and making them evil, so they may call good 'evil.' And so that you may see how evil the day is, how can a priest publicly say he loves children with out being scrutinized or mocked? This same evil is in us, and we must destroy it! Without it, the influences of Satan becomes unintelligible, and the truer meaning of things are known to us. Love becomes all the more possible. How can you have peace if you imagine that every time someone cuts in front of you on the highway, they are malicious? Isn't your eye bad if you aren't charitable? Perhaps, they are having an emergency. What do you really know about them? I do not say that you ought to be ignorant, only admit your own ignorance, and think better of people. This is just an example of what I mean to make your look good. Make your ear good, too!

These are the ways to fight the evil images and free our minds from the poisons which poison the heart. Do you seek higher forms of prayer? Do you really wish to see God? Is holiness something you really desire? Then, pray without ceasing, read the scriptures, frequent the sacraments (especially confession and the Eucharistic Feast), make your eye good and fill your body with light. Continually say with the Publican," Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner!" and you will go up to your house justified before God. Free yourself from condemnation, forget the language of the world, which is reading perversity into everything, so that you may forget their conversation.

The Psalmist says," They bend the bow and draw the sword so as to slay those of upright conversation." Who does this mean more than those whose souls are perpetually in conversation with God? The Evil One has nothing but an argument. If you should stop listening to him, he has nothing else; he will desire to slay you. This is why Christ said," Do not fear him who can destroy the body and do no more." He has no other language apart from images with which to make his argument to your soul. Therefore, do not entertain evil thoughts," Do not set your mind on the things of the flesh, but set your mind on heavenly things." Do this and you will surely progress. And remember my family when you pray, if you will.

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

Sunday, 5 May 2013

When I Was A Protestant

I was thinking earlier," What did I think of the Catholic Church when I was a Protestant?" But when? When I was a boy? When I was a youth? Or just before I became a Catholic? I suppose the most important time is just before I became a Catholic. If I were to share the wonderful things before that time that prepared me, they would perhaps mean nothing to those who stand without. Let me do what's best then, and maybe I will tell those thing after.

So, what did I think of the Catholic Church as a Protestant? Well, I will not hesitate to tell you that. I was like a Muslim. My holy book and my God. I thought that I didn't need anything, because I knew what my bible said. I didn't need anyone to agree with me. And though I believed I needed the fellowship of fellow believers, because it is written," Do not forsake the brethren." I did not believe that I needed anyone to approve of my conclusions. I believed this because of the scripture," But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court... He who judges me is the Lord." I was a minimalist, just like the Muslim. "Let me have nothing beyond Christ and the scriptures." I do not say God, though I was not offended at the Father and the Holy Spirit. But what a liar I would be if I said that a hateful distaste and suspicion did not lurk, if anyone would say," In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

I did not realize then how susceptible I was to pretexting, viz. taking a text out of context, marrying it to my preconceived notions and conclusions, holding it in one hand with another scripture, or several others, imagining that I had made a coherent and true deduction that was authoritative (because it was scripture). I believed I needed nothing beyond this. And though I believed that I could certainly learn from spiritual leaders, and that I ought to have a pastor, whatever he said to me had to gain my approval. Not that he only had to say things that I liked, or that built me up, but that whatever he said had to agree with whatever I had determined the scriptures to say, or could be persuaded to believe they said. And if I did not agree, so much the less was my obligation to submit to him, to hear him, or to take his example earnestly. Such was my thinking. And if it became too much, I could go at will elsewhere, until I became discontent with my new pastor.

I did not need a book of prayers, I had my own prayers. I did not need confession, I confessed to God directly. And if I was having a hard time with a sin, I would help myself to a hand-picked "accountability partner," that I chose by no other standard than that he seemed to know something, was grave, and appeared upright. I didn't even have a concept of what a sacrament was, how could I know I needed them? Let alone the sacrament of confession!? How could I see, when the light that was in me was darkness? And how great was that darkness! If only I had known that the priest was declaring God's forgiveness to me, which was the ministry given to the Apostles by Christ! And that they priests were uniquely participating in their ministry?

How is it that I read scripture so much, but missed that the Apostles passed on the Holy Spirit by the laying on of their apostolic hands? How did I miss that they dispensed certain ministries, unique to persons according to their ability. What an idiot I was, to think that it was in the believer's hands to declare the "gift" they imagined themselves to have, which ever ministry they were most lustful for. " I lust to be a teacher... a prophet... an apostle... a preacher... an evangelist. Therefore, I am." I believed my own pride and my lust were the Holy Spirit. How is it that I did not see that it was by the imposition of apostolic hands that the Spirit was given, without which one may not participate in apostolic ministry?

As for saints, why would I have need of them? Why would I need to know about people who were no better off than myself. What did they have that I didn't? Surely, all anyone really has is the scripture and God. What could they add unto me? As St. Paul says," But of those who seemed to be something,(whatever they were makes no difference to me, for God is no respecter of persons) for they who seemed to be something added nothing to me." Foolish man! I did not know or perceive that St. Paul mean, they did not add to his Gospel which he received from Jesus Christ, not that he had no regard for the saints, or that he spurned the apostles. How corrupt my understanding was!

When I though of the saints, I thought," Who needs all that clutter, distracting me from Christ?" and of praying to saints," God forbid." How is it that I did not perceive that God is a God of the living and not of the dead? How did I not perceive that our priesthood in Christ is not a meaningless honorary title, that gives us authority in our private homes? Can you see how shallow my understanding was? But how did I fail to see? For if Christ is sacrificed, and no more sacrifice is to be made, how is it that we are priest's forever? A priest offers sacrifice; what then is offered, if He offered Himself once and for all as the High priest, and yet also as the sacrifice? My foolish mind indeed did see that we make offerings of our lives, and of prayer, but how could I have been so confused to think that it stopped at the grave? How did I have such temerity as to contradict the Holy Spirit? And how is it that I did not see the sacrifice of the Eucharist?

I did not see that it was the saints and the Church alone who could and would teach me to walk in the truth. It was them that could make me understand. It was they alone who could teach me to pray. Their lives were not clutter, they were examples available to me of how to please my Master, as often as I should resort to them. I was badly mistake, so eager was Satan to deprive me of their counsel and my heritage.

And what a hypocrite I was! Scoffing at the notion of genuflecting, bowing, and prostrating. And yet against whom did I bring an accusation for lifting hands, in their wild forms of praise and worship? I was well acquainted with the scripture,"... lift up holy hands unto the Lord." With the same text whereby I excused disorderly and wild gestures, even defending them and compelling myself to partake (so that through my discomfort and embarrassment I might make a sacrificial offering of praise), I foolishly condemned the more reverent, appropriate, and orderly sort of gestures.

Yes, I think it was the veneration of the saints that was the biggest stumbling block for this prideful fool. I did not know that St. Thomas could teach me theology, not corrupt me. That St. Francis could teach me to love poverty and charity, not confuse me. That St. Philomena could teach me to love purity, not contaminate me. That St. Josemaria Escriva could teach me to love the work of God, not to abandon it. I did not know that St. Pio could open the mysteries of heaven to me, thinking rather that such would lead me to demons. It was I was deceived by the demons. It was I, not them, who had forsaken the brethren. I did not know of Godly vision, and mystical consolations meant nothing to me, I did not know them. I thought Mary's apparitions were demonic, I wouldn't even listen or hear them. But when I did, they only pointed to Christ. Always her message about her Son, and the favors He bestowed through her supplication, just as He did at the wedding feast at Cana. It was then I realized that God had raised her up as a sign of hope to all Christians, as a typification of the Church, the Bride of Christ, and all the Glory He will bestow upon it in the end. Holy Theotokos forgive me for those days!

Yes, it was the heroes of the faith, the most godly of the human race, those who had truly become Christ... they were the stumbling block. I was perishing, and languishing. For it is written," I lay in Zion a precious cornerstone... and whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to dust." Christ came to be the first of many, and as many as became "christs" I stumbled at. These men and women from whom I could truly learn to please God and live a holy life, these Satan had taught me to hate. The heresy I was brought up in taught me to hate these beloved of God. The demons of that doctrine taught me that to venerate them, and to follow their example was demonic. But by the grace of God, I was overpowered by their love and their piety. Through their obedience to Christ, I was saved from the demonic doctrine that told me to go near them was to risk shipwreck. Their triumph through Christ's name was powerful to work in me, long after they had put off the flesh through mortification and through death. I had stumble upon the foundation upon which Christ had built His Church, St. Peter, and rested there like a stone. Finally, a good foundation! No more shifting sand. Thanks be to God!

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~