Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Good-Bye: Cassian to Blake and Back Again

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On England's pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England's green & pleasant Land

I have been revisiting John Cassian's Conferences and commenting on these on my own blog. However, I want to share a few thoughts, as I have to say goodbye to this wonderful place, The Courtyard. Because of new political trends and events, I cannot write freely for an English audience on an English site. This fact grieves me. My heart is broken.

This blog has taught me many great truths of the Catholic Church. Without a foundation in truth, in the teachings of the Magisterium and the Scriptures, one cannot grow in holiness. Holiness, notes Cassian through the Desert Father, Abba Isaac, must be based on orthodoxy. The pure in heart seek only the truth of the Gospels, the long Tradition of the Fathers, and the doctrines and dogmas of Holy Mother Church. In the Church, we find safety from both heresy and eccentricity. In Christ, we find wholeness.

Cassian and Blake speak to my heart today.

And, did those Feet...

Perhaps the reason why John Cassian speaks to me these days is that he wrote at the end of the Roman Empire, living at the same time as St. Augustine, both witnessing the destruction of the greatest civilization of centuries.

Cassian and Augustine had to come to terms with an ending, without seeing the beginning; they did not see the flowering of monasticism, the Benedictine renewal of education and rural life, the Dominican and Franciscan revolt against gross greed and stupidity, the creation of Christendom in Europe. And was the Holy Lamb of God...

We are in the same place as Augustine and Cassian, the place of destruction, and the fall, though more subtle up to now, will result in the same sense of displacement and fear, disassociation and depression, in those who will not know what to do in the face of a total collapse of all that has been known and treasured.

Cassian and Augustine, Benedict and Bede had answers for their times.

Prayer, fasting, penance, including mortification, radical poverty, chastity and obedience---the mark of those who wanted and still want to follow Christ in the midst of chaos, were and still are the answers to the sadness and anxieties born out of the death of a civilization.

Only God brings order, not politicians, or governments, or armies. And did that Countenance Divine...

Like Cassian, like Augustine, I sit at the edge of the end of all things I have known and loved.

I have loved England and received life from the very dirt beneath my feet, the dirt of Glastonbury, the Dales, Dartmoor, pleasant pastures, the South Downs, Fountains Abbey, Hampstead Heath, clouded hills. Like Katie Scarlett O'Hara getting her strength from the red soil of Tara, the dark soil of England gave me life, and I gave it back, in my flower gardens, my teaching, my poetry, my own son. Burning gold...Arrows of desire....

The soil blessed by the blood of Cuthbert Mayne, Edmund Campion, Philip Howard, Ann Line, and so many others, now is being cursed by those who cannot see, and do not want to follow the footprints of Augustine, Lanfranc, Anselm, Etheldreda, those who walked upon England's green and pleasant Land.

My England has fast become a place of terror and uncertainty, verging on the very edge of legalized anti-Catholicism, falling into a new and worse dark age, one which has no excuse for ignorance of Christ.

My England, the small rural towns where I lived and raised my son, Sherborne, Petersfield, the lanes between flowering hedgerows, the singing of the birds in the lively morning chorus, the meeting of friends at the local shop or pub, are falling into a haze of memories, like old yellow photographs in an old black album, crumbling, fading. 

My years living in London, in West Kensington, Ealing, Tyburn, short times in Bayswater, likewise magical times of love and life, have morphed into sentences in poetry, plays and short stories. Like old type in ragged-edged books, my memories fade into one long paragraph of gratefulness.

But, my England no longer exists except in memory.

It is not that this England has stopped looking like a picture-postcard, but the air has changed. The last vestiges of secular humanism, which created the tolerance behind a great nation, has been choked by ideology and fear. I, like so many other Catholics, have become marginalized. I have been made a stranger in a strange land. I have been disenfranchised. O, clouds unfold....

Did those who lived in Germany in 1938 feel the change? Did those, like St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross understand the finality of the turning of the tide? Yes, some did. Most did not.

Years ago, a few of my commentators accused me of being negative about the future.

The future is here.

They have been silenced by reality. My England will be silenced by error, error with power.

I, like many others, are seen as “extremists”. Zeal for God's House will soon become a crime.

So, it has all happened before, and for much the same reasons, conformity being one of the foremost causes of tyranny.

Those who desire mediocrity will get it. It is already here, in schools, in churches, in literature, in music, in relationships. Those who desire excellence will be silenced. The intelligentsia always are targeted first. The Catholic intelligentsia had a long time to think about the future, which is now the present.

My England has been destroyed by those who have tried to wrestle power from God Himself-those aligned with the dark, Satanic mills. And, for a short time, God has allowed them to win a battle, but not the war. He won the war on Golgotha. I shall not cease from Mental fight...

But, this battle is for our purification. May a new England arise out of the ashes of the old, an England which again claims and desires to be Mary's Dowry, a beloved land of those who love Christ first, others second, and self third; a nation where Christ is King.

May my England come back again renewed in grace. May the Holy Mile at Walsingham echo again with Gregorian Chant, sung by all who live and go there. May we look up and see the chariot of fire...

But, I may never see this in my lifetime. I am resigned not to see the land I love the most renewed.

I have to stop writing to my beloved friends in England. I have to learn to live in more silence.

In Conference Nine, John Cassian, quoting the Desert Father, Abba Isaac, writes that we must learn to pray in silence.

Sitting at the edge of the fall of civilization may be a position of forcing us into silence.

But, why silence? Why praying in silence....? Cassian tells us and I extrapolate from his points.

To learn to listen to the right voices—the Voice of God and the voice of one's angel...How do we learn to recognize God's voice in the din of false voices?

To learn about one's self, one's sins and imperfections—like the rebellion which wells up when one is thwarted...How does one overcome self-will when one is constantly distracted? Silence focuses one.

To not share prayers with “hostile powers”, who wait to interfere with the desires of the heart...demonic influences which only wish us malice and personal damnation...How can one protect one's self from the unseen enemies? Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand...

To not distract others, with verbal prayers and utterances....How does one love the unlovable, including one's self, if not through silence?

Silence leads to purity of mind, heart and soul. Silence makes one must learn to wait for God.

Blogging has been done by me in silence, but now, God is calling me to a deeper silence, for the salvation of my own soul, for the protection of those I love the most. My “meditations” on this blog have come to this end.

For now, I have to leave this inspired blog, where I have been allowed to share some of my deepest dreams as well as the thoughts of some of our greatest writers, who works have provided me and you with many jewels upon which to meditate. I have met fantastic people through this blog. For that, I am truly, eternally grateful, now, at this time, remembering one dead, and two especially dear to me-- one who has been forced into silence, and the faithful administrator, to whom I am extremely grateful for entertaining my thoughts here.

But, as my vision of England fades into memory, and, then, will finally be purified in the scouring of my imagination by the intense Light of God, Which fashions one's memory, understanding, and will into His Own, I say goodbye to this lovely port of call of Catholicism.

I shall miss you all, and have, some, for a long time, missed your presence. Pray for me, and pray for all bloggers.

Jerusalem was not builded here, or, rather, it was, and came to be destroyed by an angry king. The City of Man prevailed, and I mourn this. Our Lady Mary must have mourned the loss of her own dowry in that Jerusalem so far away, at the foot of the Cross. The hearts of many were seen and are seen by her. She has this grace. She lived on earth with this knowledge in great silence. Mary, our Queen, with Her Son, waits for us on the other side of silence.

Slowly, but surely, we shall all have to move into silence. Our words may be for God alone, and not for those who wanted to listen, even for a short time. God will hear our words. He will respond to our cries for a new England in His Own time.

Blessed Titus Brandsma, who I have come to love through this blog, pray for us, pray for me. Help us to be strong and faithful like you were in the face of madness, stupidity, conformity, mediocrity, violence. Blessed Titus, intercede for England.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this, and so much more. May God bless your silence and it bring abundant good fruit in many hearts.


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