Sunday, April 12, 2015

"If you are not yet strong enough to seek humiliations, just accept the little reverses that come. When you say or do awkward things, give them to our Lord and tell Him you are glad of them. Say: “All these are humiliations, so they must be good for me.” - Father William Doyle

Saturday, April 11, 2015

When you place yourself in God's presence, endeavour rather to listen to Him, than to speak to Him, and strive more to love Him, than to learn from Him. (Saint John of Avila)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Oumeima El Khalil - Asfour أميمة الخليل - عصفور

For the Coptic Martyrs and all martyrs in Christ who have died confessing the name of Jesus. May Jesus make me worthy one day to be called your sister. For the Orthodox and Catholic who confess the name of Jesus, in my heart there is no separation, we are one in the love of Christ. Pray for me a sinner that I may profess the name of Christ with a life worthy of the name Christian.

عصفور طلّ من الشباك، قال لي يا نونو
خبيني عندك خبيني دخلك يا نونو - 
 قلتلّه انت من وين . قال لي من حدود السما

قلتله جايي من وين . قال لي من بيت الجيران

قلتله خايف من مين . قال لي من القفص هربان

قلتله ريشاتك وين . قال لي فرفطها الزمان

عصفور طل من الشباك قال لي يانونو

خبيني عندك خبيني دخلِك يا نون
نزلت على خده دمعة وجناحاته مدكية

واتهدى بالأرض وقال بدي أمشي وما فييّ

ضميتو على قلبي وصار يتوجع على جروحاته

قبل ما يكسر الحبس كسر صوته وجناحاته

قلتله إنت من وين قلي من حدود السماء

قلتله جاي من وين قلي من بيت الجيران

قلتله خايف من مين قلي من القفص هربان

قلتله ريشاتك وين قلي فرفطها الزمان
قلتله لا تخاف إتطلع شوف الشمس اللي رح تطلع

وتطلع على الغابة وشاف أمواج الحرية بتلمع

شاف جوانح عم بترفرف من خلف بواب العلية

شاف الغابة عم بتحلق على جوانح الحرية

قلتله إنت من وين قلي من حدود السما

قلتله جاي من وين قلي من بيت الجيران

قلتله خايف من مين قلي من القفص هربان

قلتله ريشاتك وين قلي فرفطها الزمان

عصفور طل من الشباك وقلي يا نو نو

خبيني عندك . خبيني دخلك يا نو ن


A sparrow stood at my window.

And said “Oh, little one.

Hide me with you

I beg you.”

I said, “Where are you from?”

“From the limits of the sky,” he said.

I said “Where did you come from?”

“From the neighbor’s house” he answered.

I said, “What are you afraid of?”

“I escaped from the cage”, he said

I said “What are your feathers?”

“Fate took care of them,” he said.

A tear fell on his cheek.

His wings tucked underneath him,

He landed on the ground and said

“I want to walk, but I can’t.”

I held him to my heart,

Hurting from his wounds

Before he finally broke out of his jail

He broke his voice and his wings

I said, “Do not fear,

See the sun rising?”

He looked toward the forest

Saw the tides of freedom glitter,

He saw wings flutter

Beyond the high gates.

He saw the forest flying.

On the wings of freedom.

Coptic Chant - Trisagion

Monday, December 08, 2014

I have found many articles on scruples that don't quite seem to grasp their nature. Maybe it is the nature of scruples not to understand what is written about them during the time a person is suffering under their dark tyranny. Maybe the scrupulous soul does not understand because God has made each soul as different as every sunrise of everyday that has ever come into existence. These souls do not fit into the boxes of another person's observations. No person ever does.
 How can a unique soul with different impressions, life experiences and graces fit into the model box of scrupulosity? Poor, poor souls and poor, poor fathers who have the task of guiding them. A scrupulous person feels like a leper inside and out. ( Scruples clouds the conscience and confuses the intellect but doesn't put blinders on our physical eyes. We can still see when people are annoyed.) I have heard that scrupulous people are very selfish, very self centered. This is true, as with everyone else on the planet. I suppose the irony here is that a scrupulous person will agree with that statement thoroughly. They may even make a very real effort to convince you of it's truthfulness if they perceive you are not assured of the fact that they are indeed selfish and self-centered. Only I suppose a scrupulous person needs to understand that they don't have to convince every person of that fact. They can't earn grace that way or any other for that matter. They just have to sincerely know their misery and trust in God's mercy.  If only to get past that choking fog. It is no wonder I suppose that the scrupulous are self-centered. Some souls leap from light to light in total darkness.  They perceive that there is a faint hint of light a deep dark ocean and then they leap. Sometimes out of fear of what is trailing behind knowing if they stop they will drown, and sometimes from a merciful ray of hope leading the way.  Sometimes it is out of obedience, all the while they sense, if it were only for Love, and knowingly, regretfully, falling short every step of the way.

Well, a warm ray of hope is not quite the right description. It is not something felt as warm and comforting in the dark fog of scruples. I suppose  this is because it is more like the  feeling of a distant memory, maybe too pleasant, too sweet and so long ago....storm clouds that have suddenly blocked the sun  cast a cold grey shadow on everything. The bright clear and warm light of the sun is now obscured with the realization that a storm is coming without the knowledge of  it's intensity or how long it will last.

Another description of scruples is like trying to keep your head above water and because of weakness and exhaustion going under. While under water they cannot breathe or hear the voices of direction because they are muffled when submerged in an intense fear. Then, the person remembers to stop panicking and is able to be pulled to the top and breathe. This is the stage people trying to help a scrupulous person may be the most frustrated by.

You know, when a person is out of the fog of scruples, a they can see logically  the temptation to drown in a fog of emotions. Fear, anxiety...anger, you name it. I would even say to a certain extent that a person can see this within the fog of scruples but again, it's like trying to navigate a maze blindfolded. One thing I will stress, cool logic the kind that is patronizing, never works. It just adds to a scrupulous persons torture because now they have something else they have to decide not to worry about.

Trying to help a scrupulous person is like trying to give a child a life saving medicine that they will not accept. The taste is too bitter, they are afraid and do not see the good in the remedy. The medicine seems bitter because the person is not used to the taste of obedience and trust.  They already know and are familiar with their present suffering. They think the new remedy may not work, or cause more suffering. In truth they are very timid souls. They are used to the darkness even if it is an almost constant torture. I do have to add that a person on the outside ought to be careful not to paint scrupulous souls with a broad brush, rushing to the conclusion that they are timid, weak and ungenerous, which can result in cruelly discounting their very real suffering. I would also add that there are other extremes opposite of scruples like being indifferent and apathetic or presumptuous. Even though all of these spiritual sicknesses result from pride, they take different routes and end up in different places. Though no less dangerous and suppressing to the light of reason, maybe a bit less bothersome to the people who have to counsel scrupulous souls. Although, I do hear a lot of complaining about the impious (at best) behavior of fellow Christians.

There is another sense that I have been reluctant to share but maybe it might help some soul who stumbles upon this.

 For a person with scruples, there is a sense that one is in a very deep dark fog. I know I described that already, but to describe to what depths and lengths the darkness goes is impossible. In the worst moments it seems never ending. A scrupulous person may obey the advice of a good and trusted director but that does not mean this darkness disappears. Sometimes, it seems to get worse. The anxiety does not leave and that adds to the suffering an confusion. It is natural, at least I think it is,  for someone who has scruples to expect the darkness to dispel when they faithfully follow the advice of a trusted director. A scrupulous person needs to get used to trusting God. They need to be shown with patience and love that God loves them despite their imperfections. What also adds to the suffering and confusion is the implication or outright accusation that the scrupulous person does not want God's mercy. That they are rejecting His mercy. I have to say yes, in a way, a scrupulous person most certainly is rejecting His mercy.  Although,  I mean it in the way a person who does not correspond faithfully to God's will in any part of their life. Not just in the matter of scruples. Take for instance another situation that has nothing to do with scruples. A situation in which maybe every human being who has lived long enough has encountered. Say a person finds themselves in a moment where they sense danger, or that something isn't quite right. They act either by not listening to the warning and fall into the unfortunate consequences of that danger, or they do something and avoid the danger escaping tragic consequences. Scrupulous people get a sense of danger all the time. This is not good and terribly exhausting.

To what degree a soul is culpable when rejecting mercy who knows, not especially the scrupulous, only God. How can anyone know that except God who only knows Himself fully and understands what it is to reject His will. This rejection of God's will, His mercy, is in my experience where the scrupulous gets mixed up in the relentless torture of scruples until another light comes.

The very place a soul should find comfort, in God's omnipotence, in His justice and mercy which cannot be separated, is terrifying for the scrupulous.

 Even the person himself who rejects mercy -grace- by committing or omitting some act is blind to what extent they offend God. How can we know that when our human minds cannot even fully grasp what it is to reject grace through sin? Not to say we can't have a pretty good idea . We can see what it means by the effects of sin from the fall onwards throughout history. We can see personally what it does in our lives and we can contemplate the goodness of God. To see what extent we are culpable, well, I do not know for sure, but would say it takes a very special grace to see this way. How can we know this when we would have to know who God Is.  Though let me say that what He has given us is enough, more than enough. He has given us the Commandments, traditions and writings through the Church that enable us to more than sufficiently examine our consciences. He gives us good guides in faithful friends and priests. Thank God for faithful and patient priests.

  Okay to continue with my thoughts and say that for a scrupulous person, rejecting mercy does not at all feel like they are rejecting God's mercy in the thick of it. As a matter of fact, the scrupulous soul is begging for mercy, or so they think.
 The scrupulous soul has an instinct to be safe, which is good, on overdrive, which is bad, kind of like checking the locks obsessively.
I think some people need to understand that to accuse a scrupulous person of rejecting God's Mercy is cruel, especially when saying it to a scrupulous person's face. To say that or anything like it is adding fuel to feed the demon of scruples. Any person who has suffered this long enough knows and has been told that it is an an offense to God's loving kindness to not trust Him. To say that is to add another thing to obsess about. It is actually true that during the attacks of scruples a person may "reject" mercy by trusting in their thought, false securities and doubts. A scrupulous person can only learn this by experiencing MERCY. Trust is learnt by the merciful patience that our Lord offers not only through heroically patient priests but by the repeated effort of the scrupulous person to recognize mercy. A scrupulous person must learn to recognize the signs of mercy. Suffering = mercy, consolation = mercy, trials= mercy, temptations= mercy...ALL is mercy! All is for the good of the soul who trusts in God. A scrupulous person must learn to trust by being able to see mercy everywhere. In their every breath, their waking moments, the intense sufferings and insecurities that life brings and God allows to happen, in their many, many weaknesses, in everything. If they do not recognize mercy the doubts and fears come.  They are bogged down in a torrent of never-ending phantoms. To a scrupulous soul every moment can bring a fresh set of dangers and fears. Counseling a scrupulous person is not for the cowardly or ungenerous soul. How many temptations must it reveal inwardly to these poor souls. How many doubts if they are not watchful! I can only imagine that they can be tempted to annoyance if not outright anger, or despair. It may reveal a temptation to a lack of faith hidden somewhere in the depths of a soul. 

 It has been implied to me that God gives more grace to those who are not scrupulous.  I think it may be that they accept grace more readily, and this is the difference that must be clarified for people suffering with scruples. People who are actively trying to do God's will and live a holy life and are not scrupulous may recognize a grace-filled moment a bit easier. The moments in their lives aren't filled with never ending torturous questions which the whole of eternity rests upon! A scrupulous soul must learn to distinguish between the voice of conscience and reason and that of temptations and scrupulous distractions.  They must look deep into their hearts and strive always for sincerity. They must trust God that He will always be merciful when we act in sincerity. They need to examine their scruples on two levels. Am I sincere and do I trust in God's mercy? The attacks of the scruples in my experience have come from fear on those two levels. If a person finds they are re-examining their conscience they might want to ask themselves if they have been deeply sincere and if they trust God. They must trust God, that he knows their hearts, through and through. That He will not take them to task for following their conscience and sincerely striving to do what is right. Of course a conscience has to be well formed, but even then, when acting sincerely, God knows. He knows thoroughly the situation, along with our strengths and weaknesses inside and out.

A scrupulous person must learn to empty themselves of reliance on self, of obsessive worry and examinations. Also not to worry if they are being filled with grace, how much or walking closely as long as we are sincerely striving to please God. Sincerely striving to please God is walking closely with Him. Trusting Him, seeking His will, ( not the deceptive safety net of scruples), is grace. The darkness, the realization of our very weak nature and lack of virtue is grace. Learning to walk in total or near total darkness takes practice. If you do not believe me try it. Walk around in the dark with your eyes closed and see how far you get before you run into something. That should throw off your equilibrium pretty rapidly and leave you even for a moment questioning which step to take next that won't cause you to break a leg or something. So please, be kind to these poor souls. They are sensitive to a fault I can tell you from experience.

 This is all I have for now. It has taken me over a year to post my thoughts on this subject.

 If you are scrupulous and stumble upon this, I am praying for you and more importantly, God loves you!

Friday, November 07, 2014

Proverbs 27:6

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Ecclesiastes 3:12

Isaiah 41:13

Love letters from Heaven. Never turn your gaze away. Always ask to be drawn nearer and deeper into His presence. There is nothing, nothing, more beautiful than Him. He is everything. To whatever degree you are fearful of approaching Him is how far you have turned from His gaze. Turn back, contemplate His beauty, heart to heart, stay with Him.
Add"If you set your heart aright, you will stretch out your hands toward him. If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in your tents. Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure, and will not fear. You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away. And your life will be brighter than the noonday; its darkness will be like the morning. And you will have confidence, because there is hope; you will be protected and take your rest in safety. You will lie down, and none will make you afraid; many will entreat your favor. But the eyes of the wicked will fail; all way of escape will be lost to them, and their hope is to breathe their last." -Job 11: 13-20

Beautiful Things - Gungor Lyric Video