Farewell, Pope of Popes

John Waters

Joseph Ratzinger warned us that the West faced a new dark age emanating from scientific laboratories, mendacious media, the corruption of democracy and the influence of the UN and other such bodies.

There is a funny anecdote — perhaps apocryphal, perhaps not — that went around the place in the interregnum between the announcement of the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of his successor. It was said that the pope was being interviewed by a journalist and was discussing the process by which the new pope would be elected. The journalist was fixated on the coming conclave, and the internal politics pertaining thereto. The pope, impatient with this line of questioning, intervened to redirect the conversation.

‘Of course,’ he said, ‘it is the Holy Spirit who elects the pope.’ Here, he paused before continuing: ‘And the Holy Spirit only occasionally makes a mistake!’

We might like it to be true, for it would confirm all the more definitively what we already know about the capacity of insight, prescience, frankness, irony and intelligence of this man, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI — a laconic message for the world as though from a kidnap victim ordered to broadcast a statement concerning the determination of his captors, who uses the opportunity to issue a coded message in the hope of conveying the true situation. It would add, too, its own layer of black irony, arising from the possibility that Pope Benedict already knew what was about to unfold, implying that his departure was to some extent involuntary, that what he had once called the ‘filth’ of the Church had finally caught up with him, forcing him to withdraw from the battlefield he had graced with unprecedented fluency and intelligence for half a century.

The Meaning of Mindfulness

Ven. Jinmyo Renge sensei

Mindfulness is wordless. Mindfulness is meeting the moment as it is, moment after moment after moment, wordlessly attending to our experiencing as it actually is. It is opening to not just the fragments of our lives that we like or dislike or view as important, but the whole of our experiencing.

But what does the word "mindfulness" mean? The English word "mindfulness" - that we use - is a translation of the Pali, Sanskrit and Japanese terms, "sati", "smirti" and "nen". Another English translation of the Pali word "sati" is "memory". This is what "mindfulness" means - memory. But when I say "memory", I am not referring to the habitual crunching of attention that people engage in when they are trying to remember things past. The kind of memory I am speaking of is the capacity to remember that allows you to remember reality in this moment. It is this capacity that allows you to understand the meaning of each word I am saying as I am saying it. Without it, there would be no continuity to your experiencing whatsoever.

This capacity to remember is a "mental factor" A mental factor is a gathering or grouping of movements of attention that make up how we perceive, or can condition how we interpret what we are experiencing, depending upon whether they are open or closed. "Mindfulness of mental factors" is one of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness as taught by the Buddha in the Mahasatipattana sutta. And so to understand what the word "mindfulness" means, we need to understand what a mental factor is.

Who then are you, O Immaculate conception?

St. Maximilian Kolbe

Just a few hours before his second and final arrest, St. Maximilian Kolbe on February 17, 1941, wrote down his last reflections on the Immaculate Conception. The question, Who are you, O Immaculate Conception? occupied his priestly mind and heart forming him to be a living witness of the power of the Immaculate and to die as a living offering of love. – The Remnant


IMMACULATE CONCEPTION". — These words fell from the lips of the Immaculata herself. Hence, they must tell us in the most precise and essential manner who she really is.

Since human words are incapable of expressing divine realities, it follows that these words: “Immaculate,” and “Conception” must be understood in a much more profound, much more beautiful and sublime meaning than usual: a meaning beyond that which human reason at its most penetrating, commonly gives to them.

St. Paul wrote, quoting the Prophet Isaiah: “Things that the eye has not seen, that the ear has not heard, that the heart of man has not imagined” (Is. 64,4), such are the good things that God has prepared for those who love him (I Cor. 2,9). Here, these words apply fully.

However, we can and should reverently inquire into the mystery of the Immaculata and try to express it with words provided by our intelligence using its own proper powers.

Paracelsus on the meaning of death

«The word "death" has two meanings: 1) cessation of life activity; 2) disintegration of the form. Form is an illusion, it has no existence independent of life, but only the expression of life and does not cause it. The form cannot cease to live, because it never lived, and the death of the form is only the cessation of the activity of the eternal force of life in one manifestation, preceding its other manifestation. Life itself cannot die or disappear, for it is not born into a form. It is an eternal force that has always existed and will always exist.

The destruction of even a particle of life would be an irreparable loss for the Universe. Life is a manifestation of God, and it will always exist as long as God lives».


The Frankfurt Declaration of Christian & Civil Liberties

Rob Slane

The Frankfurt Declaration of Christian & Civil Liberties

I confess to still being somewhat stunned by the reaction of much of the Church to the unhinged, authoritarian response of governments around the world to Covid-19 and the subsequent global medical experiment performed on millions of people. Whilst churches were forced to shut for the longest period in history, businesses were made to close for no good reason, and people were mandated to cover the most visible expression of the Image of God — their faces — with useless, dehumanising bits of cloth, most of the Church was at best silent. When an experimental gene therapy product which will never complete its clinical trials was mandated at the cost of people’s jobs, reputations and livelihoods, most of the Church was at best silent. When that medical experiment was demonstrably seen to be injuring or killing huge numbers of people across the globe, most of the Church was at best silent.

As far as I can tell, too many Christians simply assumed that the state had both a medical need and a moral right to act as it did. On the first point, it was clear from the outset that those measures and restrictions were both unscientific and unnecessary, yet few in the church were willing to ask the questions that should have been asked. On the second point, the result was that the state assumed an authority that it simply does not possess to regulate what can and can’t be done in worship, with much of the church apparently happy to go along with this.

THE SANDŌKAI: Harmony of Difference and Sameness

Sekito Kisen (Shítóu Xīqiān), 700–790

Lord, you have examined me

From Psalm 139:1-12 (New Century Version)

Trusting In Mind

Third Patriarch of Zen, Seng T'san

A New Translation of the Hsin-hsin Ming,
by Zen Master Hae Kwang (Stan Lombardo)

Seng T'san was the third Chinese patriarch of Zen, having received transmission from Bodhidharma's successor, Hui-k'ê. The poem attributed to him, the "Hsin-hsin Ming" (lit. "Trust Mind Inscription"), is one of the earliest and most influential Zen writings, blending together Buddhist and Taoist teachings.

Seng-ts'an succeeded Hui-k'ê as the third patriarch. The interview between master and disciple took place in this manner: A layman of forty troubled with fêng-yang 1 according to the Records 3, came to Hui-k'ê and asked:

'I am suffering from fêng-yang; pray cleanse me of my sins.'
'Bring your sins here,' said Hui-k'ê, 'and I will cleanse you of    them.'

The lay-disciple was silent for a while but finally said,

'As I seek my sins, I find them unattainable.'
'I have then finished cleansing you altogether. You should    thenceforth take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and    Samgha (Brotherhood), and abide therein.'
'As I stand before you, O master,' asked Sêng-ts'an, 'I know    that you belong to the Brotherhood, but pray tell me what are the Buddha and the Dharma?'

Replied the master:

'Mind is the Buddha, Mind is the Dharma; and the Buddha and the Dharma are not two. The same    is to be said of the Brotherhood (samgha).'

This satisfied the disciple, who now said, 'Today for the first time I realize that sins are neither within nor without nor in the middle; just as Mind is, so is the Buddha, so is the Dharma; they are not two.' 2

The Zen Teaching of Huang Po: On the Transmission of Mind

Zen Master Huang Po

As recorded by the scholar P'ei Hsiu of the T'ang Dynasty. Rendered into English by John Blofeld (Chu Ch'an) [Excerpts. Complete text (.pdf) HERE]

P'ei Hsiu's Preface – The great Zen Master Hsi Yun lived below the Vulture Peak on Mount Huang Po, [From which he takes his posthumous name] in the district of Kao An which forms part of the prefecture of Hung Chou [In the modern province of Kiangsi]. He was third in the direct line of descent from Hui Neng,[Wei Lang] the Sixth Patriarch, and the pupil of a fellow-disciple of Hui Hai. Holding in esteem only the intuitive method of the Highest Vehicle, which cannot be communicated in words, he taught nothing but the doctrine of the One Mind; holding that there is nothing else to teach, in that both mind and substance are void and that the chain of causation is motionless. Mind is like the sun journeying through the sky and emitting glorious light uncontaminated by the finest particle of dust. To those who have realized the nature of Reality, there is nothing old or new, and conceptions of shallowness and depth are meaningless. Those who speak of it do not attempt to explain it, establish no sects and open no doors or windows. That which is before you is it. Begin to reason about it and you will at once fall into error. Only when you have understood this will you perceive your oneness with the original Buddha-nature. Therefore his words were simple, his reasoning direct, his way of life exalted and his habits unlike the habits of other men.

Disciples hastened to him from all quarters, looking up to him as to a lofty mountain, and through their contact with him awoke to Reality. Of the crowds which flocked to see him, there were always more than a thousand with him at a time. In the second year of Hui Ch'ang (A.D. 843), when I was in charge of the district of Chung Lin, I welcomed him on his coming to that city from the mountain where he resided. We stayed together in the Lung Hsing Monastery where, day and night, I questioned him about the Way. Moreover, in the second year of T'ai Chung (A.D. 849), while governing the district of Wan Ling, I again had occasion to welcome him ceremoniously to the place where I was stationed. This time we stayed quietly at the K'ai Yuan Monastery, where also I studied under him day and night. After leaving him, I recorded what I had learnt and, though able to set down only about a fifth of it, I esteem it as a direct transmission of the Doctrine. At first I was diffident about publishing what I had written; but now, fearing that these vital and penetrating teachings will be lost to future generations, I have done so. Moreover, I gave the manuscript to the monks T'ai Chou and Fa Chien, requesting them to return to the Kuang T'ang Monastery on the old mountain land to ask the elder monks there how far it agrees with what they themselves used frequently to hear in the past.

Abp. Viganò: In this time of crisis we must use Advent to prepare for the trials that lie ahead

Carlo Maria Viganò, Archbishop

“"Seek," he says, "Thy servant, because I have not forgotten Thy commandments [Ps 118:176]. Come therefore, Lord Jesus, seek Thy servant, seek Thy weary sheep; come, Shepherd, seek, as Joseph sought the sheep [Gen 37:14]. Thy sheep hast wandered while Thou didst tarry, while Thou hast been about in the mountains. Leave behind Thy ninety-nine sheep, and come seek the one which hath wandered [Mt 18:12 ff; Lk 15:4]. Come without dogs, come without evil doers, come without the hireling, who does not know how to pass through the door [Jn 10:1-7]. Come without a helper, without a messenger. I have been waiting for Thy coming for a long time. For I know that Thou wilt come, for I have not forgotten Thy commandments [Ps 118:176]. Come not with a rod, but with charity and in the spirit of meekness [1 Cor 4:21].” — Saint Ambrose, Expositio Psalmi CXVIII, 22, 28.[1]

The sacred time of Advent is of ancient institution and we find mention of it from around the fifth century, as a moment of the Liturgical Year destined for the preparation of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ secundum carnem. Indeed, Advent marks the beginning of the Liturgical Year, allowing us to seize this opportunity to follow, with holy resolutions, the voice of the Church.

The Book of Divine Consolation

Eckhart von Hochheim

Benedictus Deus et Pater Domini nostri Jesu Christi, [Pater misericordiarum, et Deus totius consolationis]. [Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.] (2 Cor. 1:3f.)

The noble apostle Paul says this: ‘Blessed be God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all consolation, who comforts us in our tribulation.’ There are three kinds of tribulation which affect and oppress us in this place of exile. The first comes from damage to our worldly goods, the second from the harm which befalls our relatives and friends and the third comes from the injury we suffer when we become the object of others’ disdain, when we experience hardship, physical pain and emotional distress.

Therefore it is my intention in this book to record certain precepts with which men and women can find consolation in all their distress, grief and suffering. And this book has three parts. In the first there are a number of truths from which it can be deduced what can and will give us appropriate and complete consolation in all our suffering. Following this, there are some thirty extracts and maxims in every one of which we can find complete consolation. Finally, the third part of this book contains examples of words and deeds which wise people have spoken and done in the face of suffering.

The Fifth Great Awakening

Andrew Torba

Everyday I see Christians from across the faith, be it Catholics, Protestants, or Orthodox believers, sharing their testimonies, discussing God’s Word, buying things from one another, supporting one another, praying for one another, and leading people to Christ. I see the early foundation and fruits of a parallel Christian economy.

I have a testimony to share with you. – Typically Christians don’t share testimonies like this because they are “afraid of what people will think.” I posit that Christians should instead start caring about what God thinks. We should also never be afraid to discuss the many ways that God works in our lives or makes His presence known to us.

So I’m going to share this testimony and I’d love to hear from you if you have ever experienced anything similar. I’d also encourage you to openly share your testimonies on social media, at work, or with a friend in the hope and prayer of lifting up our Brothers and Sisters and bringing someone new to the Lord.

This past week I have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit overwhelm me to the point of tears, fear, and trembling. It was absolutely surreal and incredible. I can’t even find the words to describe it.

I instantly became distinctly aware of God’s presence, love, grace, and glory. More importantly I became aware of how utterly unworthy I am of it. I remember praying “Lord have mercy on me a sinner” over and over again. This was followed by a flood of peace and joy.

The interesting thing is that this has been happening all week shortly after I spend time in the presence of other Christians. For example on Sunday night after church or after grabbing dinner with Christian friends, etc.

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