A Book Reading .. Chapter 7

ImageToday will see the reprinting of the last relevant chapter of the antique book I bought a few months ago. By now I’m sure you would have seen a pattern and a theme emerging in what the author has written. In about a week I will reveal who the author is, the actual name of the book, and I will also provide a link to a downloadable PDF of the entire book which you can read at your leisure.

In the meantime, enjoy Chapter 7 …

VII  The High Vocation Neglected

It is impossible to deny a historical fact, especially when it is explained and emphasized by our Saviour’s own solemn words: “This kind (of devil) is not cast out but by prayer and fasting.”

Do not generous souls at the present time need to be reminded that in prayer and fasting are to be found the most divine self-sacrifice and the beginning of all apostolic work? The needs of the Church are boundless, and this vocation is too much neglected because it is overlooked, and its being thus overlooked is due to a want of practical belief in its apostolic efficacy. Men have lost sight of this aspect of the contemplative life and have grown accustomed to regard it as a somewhat selfish pursuit of one’s own personal salvation. What is really its dominating idea is obscured, and for this reason generous souls no longer feel attracted towards it. It is neglected and forgotten at a time when it is more needed than ever.

The general tendency of those who wish to do good is to be active, and although activity is in itself most edifying, it becomes fraught with danger when it alone occupies men’s minds. They can form an idea of self-sacrifice manifested outwardly, and they know and appreciate those who practise it; but they are no longer capable of perceiving inward self-sacrifice, the divine virtue of secret self-renunciation.

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A Book Reading .. Chapter 4

ImageWe continue our reading from a 100-year-old book I felt motivated to buy some months ago. Soon, I will reveal its author and the reasons why it has touched such a chord with me … and I would love the sharing of those reasons to be a source for discussion and dialogue here on the Wind Farm. In the meantime, enjoy Chapter 4 …

IV.  Useless Lives

We have seen how the necessity, advantages and duties of the two ministries, active and contemplative may be deduced from our Lord’s own words. The world in its feverish activity now understands but half of God’s design. It appreciates action, but not contemplation. Men know and perceive and acknowledge the need of action, and they esteem highly whatever acts and agitates, and nothing else. In so doing they are only being consistent with human nature, but they are mistaken.

Activity is indeed necessary, and cannot be too highly esteemed, but it alone is not enough, or rather if it suffices in the bustle of everyday life, it does not suffice for that of a Christian, which is a union of divine and human elements. In our present century, when faith is departing, as soon as a generous soul flees from the world and seeks refuge in the solitude of the cloister, men speak of it as a cowardly act, not in keeping with the age in which we live. They assume that this outwardly inactive existence was a beautiful outgrowth, a luxury produced by faith in the days when faith reigned supreme.

But now that we have to defend every foot of our stronghold, and are losing ground day by day, we need active combatants, and have not too many or even enough of them. Under such circumstances, how can we view with approval those souls which are filled with faith and yet quit the field of battle? This is what people say, though they do not know what they are saying. They talk of battle, with out seeing what sort of battle it is; and they speak of a battle field, and do not perceive where the contest rages most fiercely. They accuse the most generous souls of abandoning the fray, when they are really engaging in the hottest part of the struggle.

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A Book Reading .. Chapter 3

ImageFinally we are able to return to reading the antique book I acquired a few months ago. In this chapter there will be a few “bones” for you pick from the meat and perhaps discard, particularly in relation to church government, but you are mature enough to do that. However, I want to encourage you, when reading these chapters, to read with an eye and a heart searching for principle and wisdom rather than detail. If you will “read beneath the surface” and listen with the ear of your heart, I believe you will find a treasure trove of riches.

III.   The Two Kinds of Ministry

Our Lord sent His apostles into the villages, bidding them practise works of divine goodness, they were to preach, to heal the sick and to cast out devils. And the disciples went forth and returned with joy, saying: “Lord, the devils also are subject to us in Thy Name” (St. Luke 10:1-17).

This was the ordinary and exterior ministry of action, and it is both necessary and fertile in results; it is fundamental in the organization of the Church, and the usual means of its growth. But it alone does not suffice, for it breaks down in face of certain difficulties, and then we must have recourse to another ministry with spiritual powers and instruments, which may be called the ministry of divine union. I call it a ministry, for in every organic body there must be a special organism for the performance of each organic function. The Church is the mystical body of Christ, and if the active functions require active organs, no less do the contemplative functions require contemplative organs, and these organs and their functions make up the ministry of divine union, for their aim is to remain close to God, and to derive from Him the treasures of the divine life.

In the social organization of the Church this two-fold ministry corresponds to the two-fold grace which bestows the divine life in its fulness upon each individual soul. There is an active grace, setting in motion the activities of the soul, and determining and maintaining them; this is called actual grace. But there is another kind of grace, higher and more spiritual, which binds the soul to God, and raises it to an ever closer union with Him, and this is sanctifying grace. Likewise in the Church there is the two-fold ministry of action and of union; the former refers more directly to men, acts upon them and exercises over them the influence of God’s power; the other refers more directly to God, and is in more immediate communication with Him, so as to derive from Him what it is the task of the active ministry to distribute.

Is this not the principle governing every living organism? In each man’s body are two classes of organs, those of nutrition and those of relation; the action of the former is interior and that of the latter is exterior. The fundamental law is life; the body is made to live, and when it ceases to live, it decays. Life must be nourished, supported and increased from within; it must defend and recruit itself, act and be propagated without. Therefore the very law of life requires there to be some organs destined to discharge the interior functions and others to discharge the exterior functions of life. Both are necessary to life, and together they compose the body, and their combined functions secure sustenance and activity to life.

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A Book Reading .. Chapter 2

ImageWe continue reading an antique book I recently acquired, printed in 1910. If you “have an ear to hear”, it is one of the most insightful and almost prophetic books I have ever read; speaking to us today from nearly a century ago …

II.   Our Spiritual Foes

All the powers of hell are in league to deprive souls of their faith. This has ever been the case and will continue to be so, as long as there is in this world a soul to deceive. Our life on earth is a constant warfare (Job 7:1). A warfare, not against creatures of flesh and blood, but against spiritual principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places (Eph 6:12). The great force capable of resisting the assaults of the evil one is faith (1 Peter 5:9), but not every form of faith suffices to repel every kind of evil spirit, there are some against whom special weapons must be used, as our Lord Himself taught us.

One day He saw a man in the midst of the multitude, who fell down on his knees before Him saying, “Lord, have pity on my son, for he is a lunatic and suffereth much, for he falleth often into the fire and often into the water, and I brought him to Thy disciples, and they could not heal him.” Jesus exclaimed: “O, unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him hither to me.”

He commanded the devil to come out of him, and the child was cured from that hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus secretly, and said, “Why could not we cast him out?” Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief. For, amen I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove from hence thither, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you. But this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:14-20).

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A Book Reading .. Chapter 1

ImageA little over a week ago, I took delivery of an antique book from the United States. It was printed in the UK back in 1910. It is now out of copyright and out of print, but I decided to do the honourable thing and request permission from the publishers to reprint the book here on the Wind Farm .. which they have granted.

I have not yet finished reading the whole book, but the half of it that I’ve read so far has been leaving me open-mouthed from its insightfulness and its prophetic relevence to the hour we find ourselves in today .. and to think, it was written just short of a century ago!

I may, or may not, reprint the entire book, but what I will do is commit to you that any chapters I choose to reprint, will be reprinted in their entirety to maintain as much context as possible. You’ll also note that while the chapters are short they are succinct in their message and their power.

At this stage, I do not intend to tell you the title of the book nor its author. I want the content to speak for itself so that you will read it with no preconceptions. Either at the end, or near the end, I’ll be sure to divulge that information .. and I’m sure you’ll be as surprised as me.

So here, for your edification and exhortation, is chapter 1, both in print and as a podcast which you can either download or stream at the end of the text. I hope it effects you in a similar way to how it has me …

I.   The Decay of Faith

Faith is passing away, and it is the most terrible of all misfortunes. No other disaster can be compared with it, for no possession is so precious as faith, which is the foundation and root of all good. What is a nation deprived of faith? What is a man whose faith is wavering? Every nation, like every individual possessing faith in his own destiny, succeeds in accomplishing something that is useful but without faith of some kind, nothing is done; life without faith is barren, and this is true with regard to the supernatural even more than to the natural. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 10:6).

Every man and every nation who has done anything for God, has done so in proportion to the faith within him.

Faith is passing away! Such is the triumphant cry of the wicked and the complaint of the good; and the number of the former is ever increasing, whilst believers are becoming more rare. Agnostics boast of their scientific knowledge, the faithful seem to know nothing. The enemies of God redouble their audacity whilst even His friends allow themselves to waver. Evil grows bold and goodness becomes lukewarm. Blasphemy and atheism proclaim themselves with triumphant audacity and strong, deep convictions give way.

There are, it is true, some faithful souls still left, but how few they are! What is the faith of the great majority of those who are called Christians? Is it anything but an ignorant kind of assent, a superficial religion, a piety that is chiefly external, consisting of some shreds of truth and a confused mass of outward observances? The shadow remains, but there is very little substance, and it is precisely because the substance is passing away that good and evil alike, with very different feelings, utter the cry: “Faith is becoming extinct.”

It is indeed passing; will it leave us altogether? The duty of reviving the divine flame rests with those in whom some spark of it still glimmers.

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