5/18/22

An Economic Tsunami is Coming. Are You Prepared?

Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves.

Genesis 11:4

If you live in the PNW, by now you've given some thought to getting ready for the Big One. This is the ~9.0 magnitude earthquake projected to cascade across Vancouver Island, Washington's islands and peninsulas and the Oregon Coast, collapsing highways and bridges, crumbling the foundations of skyscrapers and submerging entire communities in the ensuing tsunami.

Coastal towns like Seaside and Ocean Shores are working to relocate elementary schools to higher elevations. My cousin (a phd!) knows the hilltop near her home she plans to climb after it strikes. I have friends who have put together a preparation kit, consisting of an emergency blanket, canned food, water, a first aid kit and a flashlight. My sister, after reading Katryn Schulz's 2015 New Yorker article, “The Really Big One,” ix-nayed plans to purchase land on the Olympic Peninsula (although several years later she capitulated and bought land on the Kitsap Peninsula, which should be just as bad).

It's gone beyond the realm of speculation. “The science is robust,” Schulz writes in her Pulitzer Prize winning article. Earthquakes, historically, have devastated the region, and we're due for the next one. Soon.

In a similar vein, every cognizant person on the planet has ruminated over what's transpired across the globe these past two years. The pandemic, many concur, is really a front for tectonic shifts taking place economically. The evidence is plain that something akin to an economic mega quake is set to occur, behooving any and all to shore up a plan for surviving it.

A System Toppling

For what else do we sift through content on the internet, but to discover little gems who inform us of goings-on we'd never hear about by listening to the likes of David Muir, Mika Brzezinski, Conservative Inc. or even the perspicacious Steve Bannon?

Thanks to a link posted by a commenter in a Steve Kirsch Substack article, I recently unearthed John Titus' You Tube account, Best Evidence. Titus, as it turns out, actually reads (and comprehends!) dry economic papers that put the rest of us to sleep, and ferrets out fun facts we all really need to know (because they directly affect our lives), but that no one else is telling us.

His videos are substantive, and I recommend watching them in their entirety. However, below I'm gong to outline two unprecedented occurrences he relays that have transpired in our economy these past two years.

  • The Dollar Losing Reserve Currency Status

The first unprecedented occurrence is Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell stating that US debt is out of control, implying this will lead to skyrocketing inflation, and that it may well cause the US to lose reserve currency status. (Titus replays these quotes in his 3/23/22 video “US Federal Reserve is a Cancer.”)

In an April 2021 Bloomberg interview, Powell says the following in response to a question regarding skyrocketing debt impacting inflation:

So yes over time and in the longer run the US federal budget is on an unsustainable path, meaning simply that the debt is growing meaningly faster than the economy and that's, by definition, unsustainable over time.

And on March 2nd, 2022, at the House Financial Services Committee, Powell says the following in response to a question regarding the implications of China and Russia (and soon Pakistan) conducting business in their own currency:

We do benefit from being the main reserve currency for the world. And that really is because we have open capital accounts and the rule of law and we have inflation, over a long period of time, under control so that the dollar preserves its value. And so our markets are the most liquid and it's the place where people want to be.

....Over time the question is if someone would want to move away from the dollar, what will be the effect on us? ...over time though it would I suppose diminish our status as the reserve currency. It's also possible to have more than one large reserve currency; there have been times when that has been the case. 

Note how plainly Powell makes these HUGE concessions. And this isn't the only place big cheeses have engaged in this sort of talk: in his book Covid-19: The Great Reset, WEF founder Klaus Schwab writes:

For quite some time some analysts and policy-makers have been considering a possible and progressive end to the dominance of the dollar...the pandemic might be the catalyst that proves them right.

The cause, he corroborates with Powell, is unsustainable levels of debt. 1  

  • The Federal Reserve Going Direct

A second unprecedented occurrence Titus relays is that toward the end of 2019, the Federal Reserve started “going direct,” meaning it began putting money directly into the hands of consumers—i.e. you and me.

In his video “Larry and Carstens' Excellent Pandemic,” Titus explains how here in the US we have a split circuit system, where commercial banks, traditionally, issue money to consumers, and the federal reserve issues money to the commercial banks. For this reason, it's impossible for the central bank to track the money a citizen spend on daily transactions.


In this graph from St. Louis Fed, the blue line represents the Federal Reserve’s creation of money, and the red commercial bank’s. Note how the two lines start to intersect in September of 2019: “The Federal’s creation of wholesale money never affected the retail supply, and then all of a sudden it did.” Titus explains at minute 41. 

This “going direct” took place at the behest of the investment management corporation Blackrock who, in its August 2019 report “Dealing with the Next Downturn” states:

An unprecedented response is needed (for dealing with the next downtown.) That response will likely involve “going direct.” Going direct means the central bank finding way to get central bank money directly in the hands of public and private sector spenders....this boost to the stock of money has to be permanent.

What is the implication of going direct? Titus includes a telling quote from former IMF managing director Agustin Carstens:

With cash we don't know who is using a $100 bill today, we don't know who is using a 1,000 peso bill today. A key difference with CBDC is that central bank will have absolute control on the rules and regulations that will determine the use of that expression of central bank liability and also we will have the technology to enforce that.

(“that expression of central bank liability” means our money, and CBDC means “central bank digital currency.”)

This “going direct,” then, has put consumers in a precarious position; our money comes directly from a central bank which has the capacity (and the desire!) to monitor and control every dollar we spend.

  • The Implications

It's hard to overstate the significance of what Titus has reported.

As for the dollar losing reserve status, this means something would have to replace it. Powell suggests having two reserve currencies; Schwab in The Great Reset poses the renminbi, the euro, or national digital currencies as possible replacements. (2)  Each of these solutions has huge political repercussions. And this “going direct,” a fundamental step in rolling out CBDC, has already occurred; it's not talk of something looming. Titus estimates a complete shift to CBDC would take place in three or four years.

What sort of authoritarian edicts might the “total absolute control,” made possible with CDCD, encompass? Some of Klaus Schwab's perspectives may provide a glimpse. In a 2015 interview with Charlie Rose, Schwab says:

The 4th industrial revolution: it changes YOU. Genetic editing, it’s YOU who are changed...practically every issue in the world can also be solved (disease, environment) by new technologies that are developed.

In his book Covid-19: The Great Reset he says refusing to participate in a contact-tracing app means hiding behind the “individualist facade of rights.”(3)

In a grand attempt to “solve all the world's problems” (ha!), it's not at all inconceivable that we are a few years away from living in a totalitarian system in which our capacity to purchase food and pay for housing hinges on whether or not we consent to receiving technology that alters our biology.

Their Babylonian Ziggurat

This scenario we see playing out, where a group of individuals vie for total absolute control, is as old as the hills.

In the ancient story of the Tower of Babel, recorded in the Book of Genesis, a group of people similarly sought to possess complete dominion by building a ziggurat that reached to the heavens. God, however, intervened and foiled their efforts by confusing their language so they could no longer understand one another, and so the community scattered and disbursed.(4) We should anticipate a similar Divine intervention when these tyrants role out this Great Reset in its entirety.

However, Genesis never indicates how long God allowed them to persist in building this Babylonian skyscraper. Those things didn't go up in a week or two, so it's fair to assume their scheming lasted as a decade, quite possibly longer. And so how long will people like Carstens and Schwab be able to persist in building their own ziggurat, attempting to have us under their thumb? It could easily last just as long.

This opens up a plethora of questions, the most basic one being: Where would someone want to find him or herself, both spiritually and physically, when central bank digital currency rolls out? More specific questions include: What impact would CBDC have on home ownership? On the capacity to travel and to purchase food? Should we have cash on hand? If so, how much? What about keeping money in FDIC insured institutions, versus the stock market? Should we spread assets among a variety of places, or does it even matter? What might a preparation kit consist of? Should we store up food and water, and have an emergency blanket and a special hill we plan to run to when this all rolls out?

Further, it demonstrates a pressing need for Christians to move beyond the Third Mansion, to use an analogy from St. Teresa of Avila. This detachment professed and practiced by the Carmelite mystics needs to become the everyday reality of a modern Christian, as in the years ahead it's quite possible we cannot depend on the economy as the means to provide us with basic necessities such as food and housing.

There's no decisive answers to these questions, that I can determine anyway, particularly the more practical ones. I don't know the entire implications of CBDC, and whether its application would really be universal--or what a rebellion against it may look like.

An Escape Route

On a hot afternoon last week I pulled into the parking lot of a Dollar Tree in Maob, Utah, only to approach the entrance and see two notebook papers plastered to the door with “closed” scrawled across in ballpoint pen.

“There they go again. Every time,” droned a man who'd walked up beside me, his long wavy hair blowing in the dusty wind.

“Why are they closed?” I asked, supremely frustrated, as it meant I might end up having to pay as much as six dollars to purchase laundry detergent somewhere else.

“Because they want to be,” he fumed, heading back to his car.

The economic plates are shifting. Here is a franchise of a publicly traded company, into which people from all over the world invest money every day, located in a city that receives 1.5 million tourists each year, running itself like a lemonade stand. And as we've all witnessed, you cannot drive through the main street of any town in America and not see help wanted signs in every window. The rumblings are all around us. 

Later on, I had sorted myself out and sat at a spacious bar drinking a sour beer, surrounded by locals and tourists alike. I asked the man beside me, a Moab resident for the past six years, about some women I'd seen earlier wearing long-sleeve, ankle-length dresses. He figured they were part of a polygamist Mormon community living south of Moab.

“I thought that'd been outlawed,” I remarked.

“It has!” he guffawed.

Believe it or not, this gives me hope. An imminent rollout of CBDC isn't necessarily a leash around our necks. It is possible to thrive outside the legal system.

But does this mean we'll all have to cram ourselves into a podunk town in Utah, with the spillover perhaps finding refuge at a safe haven in Wyoming?

We shall soon see.

🍃

1. Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret. Covid-19: The Great Reset . Forum Publishing, July 2020: page 73.

2. The Great Reset Page 73.

3. The Great Reset Page 164.

4. Genesis 11:4-9.

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4/15/22

From King to Brother to Beggar: Reflections on the Last Words of Christ

I've listened to Jesus Christ Superstar for decades now, starting with my mom's original 1970 LP version with the brown and gold album cover. And truth be told, I've mainly always listened for the silky, tormented voice of Murray Head playing Judas.

Webber and Rice begin the entire rock opera with Judas laying out his inner turmoil as a disciple of Jesus in “Heaven on Their Minds.” Later he's pleading “Just don't say I'm damned for all time” to the High Priests as he conspires to hand Jesus over. And they even give him the reprise, echoing Mary Magdalene's “I don't know how to love him” just before hanging himself. Then Judas makes a final appearance in “Superstar,” asking Jesus how he stacks up against people like Buddha and Muhammad.

He has more complexity, more passion and he's the better singer, period. It really is Judas's story, and Jesus is just a character in it.

Just recently, I found the CDs in a storage box and added them to my car collection. While driving errands and feeding my latte addiction, I came to see that Webber and Rice give ALL the best lines to the bad boys.

Take Herod's catchy “Prove to me that you're no fool, walk across my swimming pool” and Pilate's haunting “Then I saw thousands of millions crying for this man...and then I heard them mentioning my name...and leaving me the blame” in contrast to Jesus' sing-songey “Why waste your time moaning at the crowd?” as he enters into Jerusalem.

Yet is it really the case that Jesus must look boring and bland alongside grasping and worldly men? Is being good tantamount to being banal?

Tre Ore With Timothy Radcliffe, OP

One spring morning around two decades ago, I ran into a friend while crossing the green alongside the Chapel of St. Ignatius at Seattle University. We chatted before heading on to class, and in passing he commented on the amaHAZing speaker coming for St. James Cathedral's Tre Ore celebration commemorating the three hours Christ hung on the Cross.

I had no idea who the man was, but nevertheless penciled it into my busy college schedule. On Good Friday a week or so later, I showed up around 12:30 for the noon to three service, and an usher generously found me a seat near the front of the packed Cathedral. And over the next two hours, I proceeded to be Blown. Away.

The speaker, as it turned out, was Timothy Radcliffe, who at the time served as the Master General of the Dominicans, an order dedicated to contemplating and then sharing the fruits of contemplation. 

Standing at the lectern in the Dominican's distinctive black cappa and capuce over a white tunic and scapular, Radcliffe shared reflections in his English accent on the seven last words of Christ. 

It's remained in my mind as one of the best homilies I've ever heard. Yet twenty years later, I can only recall traces of it. Just this Lent, however, I realized he'd compiled the reflections into a book, allowing me to “listen” to his insights once again. Here's what stood out this time around.

Today you will be with me in paradise. ~ Luke 23:43

Woman, behold your son...Behold your mother. ~ John 19:26-7

I thirst. ~ John 19:28

In the three times Jesus speaks to us while on the cross, Radcliffe observes that “he has addressed us with increasing intimacy: as a king, as a brother, and as a beggar.” 1

Thirst is a recurring state for Jesus, Radcliffe points out. John's Gospel begins with Him asking the Samaritan woman for a drink, and ends with Him asking us to quench His thirst.2

This is how God comes to us, in a thirsty person wanting something that we have to give...There is something very embarrassing about admitting that you long for someone when the other person does not fully reciprocate. One feels foolish and vulnerable admitting that one loves more than one is loved. The moment that we own up to our longing, then we become open to rejection and humiliation. Yet this is how it is with God. God is overwhelmed with thirst for us and for our love...3

From my understanding, Jesus would endure a death a thousand times more heinous just to save one soul. It's a passion and love that surpasses our understanding; well beyond anything communicated in Webber and Rice's rendition of Jesus. And He communicates this desire after we've cruelly reduced Him to a criminal. There's a madness to it, an abandonment of reason.

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? ~ Mark 15:34

“Here...are these words of pure desolation. Here we just have a cry of pain and loneliness,” Radcliffe writes.4

In The Ascent of Mount Carmel, St. John of the Cross elaborates on this moment:

[At his death, the] Lord was most completely annihilated in everything. Annihilated, that is to say, with respect to human reputation; since, when men saw Him die, they mocked Him rather than esteemed Him; and also with respect to nature, since His nature was annihilated when He died; and further with respect to the spiritual consolation and protection of the Father, since at that time He forsook Him, that He might pay the whole of man's debts and unite him with God, being thus annihilated and reduced as it were to nothing.5

This total annihilation, St. John says, lays the foundation for a true Christian spirituality: “Any spirituality that would fain walk in sweetness and with ease, and flees from the imitation of Christ, is worthless.”6

There's a lot of food for thought here. I generally consider the warmest times in my life; those of celebration, connection, and joy; as those when I'm closest God. Rather, according to St. John, our greatest defeats and humiliations are the times we're in greatest solidarity with Him.

🍃

And well, here are some of the delectable morsels from Radcliffe's homily (with some St. John of the Cross thrown in), but I really haven't done it justice; as they say, you probably had to be there.

What's one of your favorite homilies? What ceremonies do you participate in on Good Friday?

🍃


1 Radcliffe, Timothy, OP. Seven Last Words. Burns and Oates. 2004. Page 65.

2 Radcliffe, Timothy, OP. Seven Last Words. Burns and Oates. 2004. Page 49.

3 Radcliffe, Timothy, OP. Seven Last Words. Burns and Oates. 2004. Pages 49 & 50.

4 Radcliffe, Timothy, OP. Seven Last Words. Burns and Oates. 2004. Page 41.

5 St. John of the Cross. The Ascent of Mount Carmel. Image Books Edition 1958. Pages 193-4.

6 St. John of the Cross. The Ascent of Mount Carmel. Image Books Edition 1958. Pages 193.


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4/8/22

When the Spirit Is Willing (But the Flesh Is Weak): Overcoming Acedia in Prayer

"To not go forward is to turn back and not to be gaining is to be losing."

~ Saint John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel

Do you ever put something off, claiming you don't have the time for it, but really you're avoiding it because it's a lot of work? Decluttering my desk falls into this category. Sometimes it's something much bigger, like changing a job or moving.

About a year ago, I spent a weekend at a cabin on the Kitsap Peninsula. Determined to fit in some screen time, I managed to make sense of four remotes and two DVD players. While digging through mounds of DVDs, I pulled out the indie musical, Once.

Did you see this back when it was all the rage? I recall listening to the passionate yet somewhat depressing soundtrack on our car cassette player (this movie is THAT old), and even saw the musical on Broadway, where two kids squirmed behind us the entire time. 

For a new spin this time around, I decided to watch it with the director commentary. And I discovered the whole movie is about this notion of inertia and stagnation. As director John Carney puts it:

The title “Once” refers to a male condition not particular to Ireland but it's certainly prevalent in Ireland; a lot of guys that I know are very talented and have a lot to say about the world and are witty and urbane and funny...and are very creative people but they just don't have the kind of “get-up-and-go.”

You hear that line a lot with these people: “Once I get enough money,” “Once I get out of my parents' house,” or “Once I get this little business set up,” or “Once I get my great script written, then I'll be brilliant.”

But they're not actually doing it. 

It's the guy hiding behind the pint of Guinness who could be great but just keeps putting it off and keeps procrastinating.

We've all met this guy. He’ll tell you about an unrealized dream to own a nightclub and DJ on Ibiza, but currently, at 45 years old, he’s still sleeping in his childhood bedroom. It's how my BFF, who has a penchant for drinking three pints of beer in lieu of lunch (while telling you of his plans to explore the Amazon), describes himself: “I drink and I know things.”

As it turns out, this sort of sloth doesn’t only apply to life: it’s also a central challenge in prayer. 

Many people--including lifelong Christians--think a fertile spiritual life is reserved exclusively for those endowed with that “special charism” for mysticism (as though there were such a thing!). But prayer, really, is so basic: it's about speaking with and developing a relationship with the One who created you. So a strong spiritual life is well within anyone's reach.

One actual stumbling block to achieving spiritual maturity, however, is that it's hard. Particularly at the beginning stages, prayer feels like that line from Ezekiel: “The days drag on, and no vision ever comes to anything.”1

Fortunately, when we understand what to expect at various stages in prayer--and appreciate the benefits of moving into what St. Teresa of Avila calls the interior mansions--it's easier to resist a compulsion to throw in the towel. 

Let's look at what this expert on prayer says about starting out on this supernatural journey, and then some ways to overcome temptations to acedia.

Our souls need a lot of weeding, tilling and fertilizing as we enter into
the first mansion of prayer, writes St. Teresa.

Prayer 101

In Interior Castle, the masterpiece on prayer that she wrote at the age of 62, St. Teresa of Avila describes the soul as a great mansion. The entryway to this castle is prayer.2

In The Book of Her Life, a spiritual memoir she wrote over a decade earlier, she uses the analogy of water and gardening to describe prayer. When we start out, entering into the first mansion, the soil is rocky and hard and full of weeds. We need to find water of our own initiative. And sometimes the well is dry!

Beginners in prayer, we can say, are those who draw water from the well. This involves a lot of work on their own part, as I have said. They must tire themselves in trying to recollect their senses. Since they are accustomed to being distracted, this recollection requires much effort.3

(Generally speaking, I'd say she is talking about mental prayer; that is, sitting and meditating in silence on a scripture passage or something.)

This beginning phase can last a while; for St. Teresa it lasted for years. (But she stresses that God takes every soul on a different journey.) Anyone can press on to the interior mansions, however, where God provides the water Himself: “God does not deny Himself to anyone who perseveres. Little by little He will measure out the courage sufficient to attain this victory.”4

However, it's really, really easy for acedia to set in before achieving this breakthrough. As St. Teresa says: “There are many who begin, but they never reach the end....thinking they are doing nothing, they become afflicted.”5

What is acedia exactly? The Catechism defines it as: “A form of depression due to lax ascetical practice, decreasing vigilance, carelessness of heart. 'The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak.'“6

When we hit a wall in prayer; have a long spell of dryness or our mind constantly races and we can't stay focused for more than thirty seconds; it's easy to tell ourselves we don't have the time, it's pointless and there are many more important things to be doing.

St. Teresa, rather, tells us not to be concerned. “It is very important that no one be distressed or afflicted over dryness or noisy and distracting thoughts [in prayer].”7 Pressing on demonstrates that we desire the God of all consolations, rather than the consolations of God.

The Benefits of Prayer

The difficulty of prayer naturally begs the questions: Why does God make it so hard? Doesn't He want a relationship with us? And why would anyone press on into the interior mansions? St. Teresa offers some explanations:

His majesty does not desire that we enjoy something as precious as this without paying a high price.8

The favors that come afterward are of such great worth that He desires first that before He gives them to us we see by experience our own worthlessness so that what happened to Lucifer will not happen to us.9

(What happened to Lucifer? I think he committed the sin of pride, which resulted in a total separation from God, and since he's an angel there's something about his intellect that makes the decision irreversible.)

Now, about some of these favors “of such great worth”....what are some benefits of pressing on?

  • A Solid Spiritual Foundation

By consistently spending time with God--during times of plenty and times of drought--St. Teresa says we establish a strong spiritual foundation. Even through we travel in darkness, and over what seems like a barren land, we really cover some ground over a period of time.

The soul that begins to walk along this path of mental prayer with determination and that can succeed in paying little attention to whether this delight and tenderness is lacking or whether the Lord gives it (and whether it has much consolation or no consolation) has travelled a great part of the way.10

  • God's Voice is Clear(er)

Just as with a person, when you spend a lot of time with God, you become more familiar with Him. The noises of the world fade away, and it becomes easier to recognize Him in your day-to-day.

This benefit is really a central reason to pursue a life of prayer, as there is So. Much. Noise. in the world, and SO MANY blind guides (including not a few leaders in the Church). Developing the ability to identify and listen to God on our own has become a necessity to any disciple of Jesus.

  • God Becomes Our Friend

Have you ever had the kind of boss who tells you exactly how much cream he wants in his coffee, and who puts you on edge every time he walks into the room?

When we're not familiar with Him, it's easy to feel this way about God. However, Jesus calls us his friends at the Last Supper; this is the sort of relationship God really desires to have with us. 

St. Teresa says that as we press on in prayer, this “servile fear passes away”11 and the dynamic of the relationship becomes more casual and friendly.

  • Inner Peace

“What hope can we have of finding rest outside of ourselves if we cannot be at rest within,” St. Teresa writes in Interior Castle.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us that God knows and can provide for all our needs before we ask. A strong prayer life increases our trust in His providence, and we experience less anxiety and strife.

Clearly, there's incentive to press on past the ennui and the sluggishness you might feel in prayer. As St. Teresa says, “all (a soul's) good is within this castle.”12

5 Ways to Overcome Acedia

Acedia is similar to feeling stuck. At times, the temptation to give in feels irresistible.

According to Newton's law of motion, an object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion. Our prayer lives are no different. Taking the right action gets us moving and creates the momentum to progress onto the next mansion.

If you're struggling to continue with prayer and feel that nothing ever happens, here are some ways to fight the inertia.

1. Seek Out Support and Enrichment

In our secular society, finding spiritual companions is tricky business. Or maybe you know a lot of Christians, but you don't connect with them.

Like-minded people are out there for sure, however. Pray to the Holy Spirit and do some digging: maybe go on a retreat or seek out a spiritual director. One or two companions may emerge.

If no one materializes, accept that this is where God wants you (much of a spiritual life is done in solitude). Instead, seek out a book on prayer; the Carmelite mystics have written some good ones, including Story of a Soul, Interior Castle and the Ascent of Mount Carmel. You can ask these saints to guide you, too, as you read: they'll be right by your side encouraging you along!

2. Tell Yourself the Right Message

I'm gonna go all Tony Robbins for a moment here and point out that our brains are wired to realize and perceive whatever we tell them. Telling ourselves “This is impossible,” and “I am not good at this” are dead-end messages that easily lead to discouragement and defeat.

It's important to deliberately shape the messages we tell ourselves about our prayer lives. As St. Teresa points out, God wants our wills, and so simply making an attempt to pray is success in His eyes. When we remind ourselves of this, it's possible to perservere through dryness.

3. Create a Routine & Keep Showing Up

Growth happens in the day-to-day, so long as we create the space for it. Routinely showing up to pray allows things to happen.

When we find a place and set a time; say stopping by an empty church for 30 minutes after work, creating a designated space in our home, or even finding a quiet place in a nearby park where we're sure to find solitude; it creates the possibility of progress in prayer. Many parishes have Chapels of Perpetual Adoration: these also are excellent places for quiet prayer.

The water may only trickle at first, but if we pray habitually, eventually we'll see change and growth.

4. Find Your North Star

Before the invention of the magnetic compass, ships couldn't navigate on cloudy nights. Rather than getting miles off course, they'd put up anchor until conditions cleared up.

Similarly, in our prayer lives, it's hard to move through periods of dryness and distraction when we have an incoherent idea of where we're going.

Focusing on the benefits of spiritual maturity (outlined earlier) allows the fog of uncertainty to evaporate. Even amidst darkness, we're able to move forward with confidence.

5. Be Patient With Yourself

As we know all too well, falling and failing is a given in everyone's life. Prayer is no different. Anyone who sets out will backslide.

Perseverance, as discussed, is part and parcel to growth in prayer. “There is no other remedy for this evil of giving up prayer than to begin again,”13 writes St. Teresa.

However, it's counterproductive to berate ourselves for falling. Sometimes, allow yourself to press pause, knowing you'll get your head back in the game the following day.

Conclusion

One thing that struck me from watching Once (for the tenth time or so) is this idea that life is about living. We aren't meant to remain in a stagnant space of unfulfilled potential. The two central characters provided each other the impetus to achieve breakthrough in their musical careers and personal lives.

We all have those days where we sleep for ten or eleven hours, hit snooze a billion times, then spend the rest of the day sitting on the couch eating pizza. And our prayer life hits these kinds of lows, too.

The thing about prayer is that you don't need to be “good at it” or “doing it right.” You can be distracted. You can feel like you're doing nothing. The key is to keep doing it. And when we break through that wall, it allows God to water our lives with greater peace and knowledge of Him.

What's your experience with dryness in prayer? Is it a phase? Or something that recurs with you all the time?

🍃

1 Ezekiel 12:22. 

2 Volume 2: The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila. Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD & Otilio Rodriguez, OCD. ICS Publications, 1976: Page 283, 286.

3 Volume 1: The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila. Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD & Otilio Rodriguez, OCD. ICS Publications, 1976: Page 81.

4 Volume 1: The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila: Pages 79-83.

5 Volume 1: The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila. Page 84.

6 Catechism of the Catholic Church. Doubleday Publishers, April 1995: Paragraph 2733.

7 Volume 1: The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila. Page 85.

8 Volume 1: The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila. Page 79.

9 Volume 1: The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila. Page 83.

10 Volume 1: The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila. Page 83.

11 Volume 1: The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila. Page 78.

12 Volume 2: The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila. Page 300.

13 Volume 2: The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila. Page 303.


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3/21/22

Reflections on Klaus Schwab's Book, Covid-19: The Great Reset

“There are no nations. There are no peoples…There is only one holistic system of systems…It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today.…And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.”

~ Paddy Chayefsky, Network 

“Communism’s promise was whispered in the first day of the Creation under the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: 'Ye shall be as gods.'” 

~ Whittaker Chambers 1

Klaus Schwab aspires to create a utopia using technology and one massive central government.  
And he's asking for your cooperation.  Are you in?  

When did you first hear about the New World Order? For me, it was around twenty years ago. A friend of mine had a shelf full of books about it, and after Mass one evening I stopped by his place and he handed me a stack of them. 

Over the following months, I'd pour over them on Saturday mornings, munching on ding dongs as my eyes widened with fascination and horror as I learned about smart cards, a one world government, microchips and a one world religion.

Eventually, I threw them all out. It felt like reading about poltergeist or stories of the supernatural. They left me unhinged and scared, and I didn't see how they had any bearing on reality. 

“Value Village wouldn't even want these,” I reasoned as I checked them into the dumpster behind my apartment.

Yet here we are two decades later, hearing about a “great reset,” a need to “build back better,” and, yes, a New World Order. 

But this time, it's from an entirely different perspective. Back then, I'd read about the New World Order as something that “they” were going to roll out and inflict onto all of “us,” i.e. the author and reader of the book. 

But now “they” are the ones doing the talking. With their book Covid-19: The Great Reset, we're getting the skinny on the New World Order straight from the horses' mouth. 

Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret published Covid-19: The Great Reset in July of 2020, just three months after the lockdowns for covid-19 ensued around the world. They describe the book as a “hybrid between a contemporary essay and an academic snapshot”2 to look at the significance of what's transpired, and they examine the pandemic from a macro, micro, and individual point of view. It's about 250 pages, which they wrote over the month of June.3 It's published by Schwab's organization, The World Economic Forum. 

Schwab has written several books previously, both on his “stakeholder theory,” which professes that a business is obligated not only its shareholders, but to all its stakeholders, and the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” which is about advancing the capacity of technology with respect to artificial intelligence, robots and gene editing. 

Thierry Malleret, who is a leader in the World Economic Forum, has co-authored with his wife, Mary Anne Malleret, the book, Ten Good Reason to Go For a Walk and Other Wellness Ideas, which includes an introduction by Schwab. 

Klaus Schwab and the World Economic Forum

Klaus Schwab started the WEF in 1971, as a platform to promote his stakeholder theory, which is about infusing a company's ethos into the community it serves. 

What comprises Schwab's ethos? In The Great Reset, he repeatedly advocates for “fairness,” which he admits is highly subjective.4 Some of his other values include addressing systemic economic inequality, climate change, enjoying the wonder of nature and eating unprocessed foods. 

He earned doctorates in economics and engineering from University of Fribourg and has received 17 honorary doctorates. He acknowledges that economics has changed the dynamic of political power in the modern world. 

“Big wars and military power to achieve political objectives is more or less a matter of the past...to exercise influence in the world today is mainly based on economic power,” Klaus tells Charlie Rose in a 2010 interview. 

The WEF has identified 78 distinct global challenges. Its mission is to improve the state of the world, by means of this “stakeholder theory” and by integrating private organizations with governments. Its members meet yearly at Davos and other places throughout the world. 

He believes the Fourth Industrial Revolution is central to solving these challenges. As he tells Rose: “Practically every issue in the world can also be solved (disease, environment) by the new technologies which are now developed.” 

But don't be too hasty to jump on board: “This Fourth Revolution; it doesn't change what you are doing, it changes YOU. If you take genetic editing, just as an example, it's YOU who are changed...it raises many ethical and legal questions and we have to be prepared for it.” 

And at 50 years old, Schwab's organization has amassed a tremendous amount of clout. He says world leaders recognize the need to network with the private sector in order to advance agendas. He admits to knowing nearly every leader in the world, and WEF's members include around 80% of the Fortune 500 Companies. It is recognized as an international organization similar to the Red Cross and the Olympics. 

The Book's Central Message?

The arguments and assertions in Covid-19: The Great Reset are somewhat muddled, and contradict themselves frequently. I believe these two statements from the conclusion come closest to what the authors are getting at: 

“The pandemic...represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine and reset our world....replacing failed ideas, institutions, processes and rules with new ones better suited to current and future needs. This is the essence of the Great Reset.” 5 

However, they also assert elsewhere that we cannot ever go back, and the Great Reset isn't an opportunity, but an inevitable event that's going to happen all of a sudden. 6

The window of opportunity, they say, is due to the “monumental” catastrophe the pandemic has beset upon the world. But they hedge on whether or not the pandemic is really catastrophic. 

The first pages of the introduction uses hyperbolic language to describe what's just transpired, even describing it in Messianic terms: “No parallel in modern history,” “Disruption of monumental proportions,” “The pandemic marks a fundamental inflection point” and “Radical changes of such consequence are coming that some pundits have referred to a 'before coronavirus' (BC) and 'after coronavirus' (AC)”7 represents only SOME of the superlative language that survived editing. 

Then they immediately walk this all back and assert that this pandemic isn't nearly so bad as historical pandemics such as the Black Death or Plague of Justinian, nor as deadly as any event in recent history, including WWII.8 A lockdown is common and normal, they insist, and we need to calm down, obey authorities and refrain from scapegoating: that's just a sign of the mental strain of isolation. 9

The book continues in this incoherent fashion, making it difficult to identify just what these two are trying to communicate. 

Non-Sequiturs Galore

Although Malleret and Schwab profess that “predicting is a guessing game for fools,”10 the two spend the entire book spelling out what the future should and will look like, with more arguments rife with contradictions (read footnotes for actual quotes). Here's a sampling. 

  •  They say the pandemic highlights the need for a world government, while also making the argument that the US and China were simply too big to effectively handle the pandemic, and that smaller countries, due to their size, fared much better. 11
  •  They state that we can’t go back to normal, ever, full stop. Except that we can, once everyone is vaccinated. 12
  •  They note that the reduction in flying and driving due to the lockdowns did little to reduce carbon emissions, as the real emissions culprits are related to electricity, agriculture and industry. Yet they hope that post-lockdown we’ll all commit to flying and driving less in order to save the environment. 13
  •  And in its most overt and egregious contradiction, the two establish outright that there wasn't any debate over whether or not to impose draconian lockdowns and shut down the economy. The shutdowns are about saving lives. Keeping the economy running means sacrificing lives. 14 Then they spend some sixty-odd pages (of a 250 page book) discussing just how destructive these lockdowns portend to be. This reveals some pretty shocking stuff, and it's worth spelling out just what they foresee.

A Cure That's Deadlier Than the Disease

As I've said, Malleret and Schwab state explicitly that covid-19 will kill fewer people than WWII. 15 By most estimates, WWII killed between 70-85 million, and so covid, according to their 7/2020 prognostications, will kill fewer than this. 

However, the two men predict “multiple famines of biblical proportions” due exclusively to the economic fallout from the lockdowns. 16 They forewarn of massive, violent unrest due to people not having a job. Domestic violence will increase by 15 million for every three months of lockdown, while many will also suffer from acute psychotic episodes.17  Failing small business will cause a vicious downward spiral in entire communities.18 And entire nations will be destroyed due to disruptions in the supply chain.19 

“There will be no recovery [due to skyrocketing unemployment]. There will be social unrest. There will be violence. There will be socio-economic consequences: dramatic unemployment. Citizens will suffer dramatically: some will die, others will feel awful.” 20

“The number of people suffering from acute food insecurity could double in 2020 to 265 million. The combination of movement and trade restrictions caused by the pandemic with an increase in unemployment and limited or no access to food could trigger large-scale social unrest followed by mass movements of migration and refugees.” 21

Just with the number from the second quote alone—137 million more people on the brink of starvation--the two have made the case that the lockdowns are worse than covid-19, and so should have been avoided at all costs. And this doesn't account for the millions of incidents of domestic violence and acute mental illness, nor take into account those nations that will fail.

Advocating the lockdowns makes no sense whatsoever, presuming their objective is to mitigate destruction and save lives. 

I also find it odd, given that Schwab has a PhD in economics and is an advocate of “fairness,” that nowhere in the book did he note the wealth transfer that came about as a result of shuttering small businesses and keeping monoliths like Amazon, Home Depot and Costco open and running non-stop. There's no way he isn't aware of this. 

The Stuff of Leaders? 

In Covid-19 The Great Reset, Malleret and Schwab argue explicitly for a one world government. The UN and WHO aren't cutting it, they assert. 22 Clearly, they see themselves as playing a central role in its formation; i.e. playing a central role in running the entire world.

Yet they cannot coherently and logically articulate their ideas in this academic essay. It's no excuse that they whipped this book out in one month. This is huge, far-reaching authority they're gunning to possess, and so the sloppy thinking in this book is inexcusable. 

Advocating these destructive, deadly lockdowns as a solution to covid further brings into question their capacity as leaders. Why would we trust any of their solutions to the other 77 problems they claim the world faces, when by their own admission their solution to handling covid was far worse than covid would have been on its own?

Their book really demonstrates that they should not be running the show. And it makes me wonder why DID we listen to the edicts that Schwab and Gates professed in lockstep which, essentially, were to wear masks, social distance, wash hands and sit around at home waiting around for a vaccine? At one point Schwab writes that the “necessity to address the pandemic by any means available” will inevitable lead to SMART TOILETS to monitor our health. 23 This extreme measure is utterly absurd, given the basic measures he never calls for, such as setting up a covid-19 hotline to advise patients on early treatment. (Something this fundamental was never set up in the USA--when someone received a positive result for covid, they weren't given any instruction at all, and were expected to go home, drink OJ, and could only be admitted to ICU when their lips were blue.)

Now, given that Malleret and Schwab's advocacy of the lockdowns makes no sense from a life-saving standpoint, then why are they pushing them so strongly? Reset offers an explanation. 

A Totalitarian Technological Shift

In order to understand the motive for advocating these deadly lockdowns, it's important to remember that Schwab believes technology is the key to solving all of humanity's problems. And the lockdowns accelerated his technological revolution exponentially.

As we know, the lockdowns forced us to go “digital everything”: shopping, working, socializing, learning. Businesses and universities were forced to completely change as well, offering remote or hybrid models in lieu of in-person. 

According to Schwab, this pandemic has also highlighted the need for massive, ongoing surveillance. 24 It's obligatory going forward that everyone's health be digitally tracked and recorded. There's no hiding under the “individualist facade of rights,” he says, 25 since “we cannot be individually well in a world that is unwell.” 26

Eventually, the authors foresee that wearing digital technology will blur the line between monitoring our personal health and public healthcare, with governments “encouraging” healthy activities such as sports. 27 

This illustrates what Schwab's stakeholder theory really looks like in practice: individuals no longer making decisions about how to go about living their lives, but rather this government-business hybrid he's cultivated through the WEF “advocating” (i.e. forcing) its agenda onto humanity. 

Digital currency is part and parcel to this surveillance scheme. Schwab and Malleret briefly note the decline of the dollar, and pose digital currency as a viable alternate global reserve. 

The implications of this are crucial: digital currency originates from a country's central bank, giving the state the capacity to monitor every single transaction an individual makes. The end of the digital currency road, essentially, is one where the central government can impose whatever mandate it chooses (which, if Schwab got his way, would include mandates to take vaccinations, eat unprocessed foods and exercise regularly), and if anyone doesn't play along, their purchasing power is suspended.

Although this may sound utterly fantastic, it's worth noting that during the pandemic the Federal Reserve in the US made dramatic steps toward this end. 

In this excellent video, John Titus highlights how the Fed made an unprecedented move at the onset of the 2020 pandemic to directly put money into the hands of the private sector (i.e. us), bypassing commercial banks! Having the central bank take over this huge portion of the retail money supply—around 3.5 trillion dollars--brings us closer to making digital currency a reality in the US.  (start watching around min 44.)

“The genie of tech surveillance will not be put back in the bottle,” Malleret and Schwab inform us.28 In this “After Covid” world, things like working hybrid, video conference calls and online grocery shopping are a way of life. And it appears that digital currency and some other seriously dystopian shit looms just over the horizon. Undoubtedly Schwab is thrilled about it. 

The Intended Audience 

The book takes a bizarre turn at the end. After explaining how the lockdowns are essentially a wrecking ball smashing into all of humanity, he concludes by pointing out how the pandemic helped many of “us” appreciate the meditative quality of life and nature.

“[COVID-19] made us more aware and sensitive about the great markers of time: the precious moments spend with friends and our families, the seasons and nature, the myriads of small things that require a bit of time (like talking to a stranger, listening to a bird or admiring a piece of art).” 29

The choice of pronouns here is noteworthy. When they're discussing frolicking in the woods and watching butterflies, they're talking about “us.” Whereas when discussing the devastating fallout of the poor and vulnerable, the pronouns are always “they.” 

Note this passage from earlier in the book:

“For many states, the pandemic will be the exogenous shock that forces them to fail and fall even further...economic disaster will trigger some form of political instability and outbreaks of violence because the world's poorest countries will suffer from two predicaments: first, the breakdown in trade and supply chain caused by the pandemic will provoke immediate devastation like no remittance or increased hunger; and second, further down the line, they will endure a prolonged and severe loss of employment and income.” 30

This “us” he's speaking to, then, is his intended audience: people just like him, who suffered none of the ruinous impact of covid, but for whom it was really an extended vacation of sorts, allowing them to spend hours upon hours enjoying nature, visiting with family and catching up on reading. 

This “Aw well. It's a shame that those poor nations will be annihilated” tone gives you a clear vision of Schwab, Malleret and his wife (who's given credit for much of Reset's editing). Given their penchant for walking, after completing a passage about mass devastation, it's not unlikely that the trio would step out for a meditative walk in the woods, munching on goat cheese and organic apples. 

A Sudden Reset 

And one final aspect worth noting before I wrap this up: at one point they tell us to anticipate a sudden reset. (As I said earlier, they vacillate between saying that a reset is inevitable and that it's an opportunity for us to imagine and create.)

“For big systemic shifts and disruptions in general, things tend to change gradually at first and then all at once. Expect the same for the macro reset.” 31

This reads like they're priming us for something. 

Since they never establish that covid-19 is so horrible that it would necessitate a seismic shift, it's becoming increasingly clear that the hype is concocted, and it's really a step in the rollout of some greater scheme. And so this passage, in essence, means: “We're going to make a big more here, soon.”

In order to make a shift of this magnitude—mandating worldwide surveillance—they'd have to instill fear and hysteria into everyone in the world at all the same time. So they may very well have some sort of mass-casualty event on the order of 9-11 up their sleeves.

Be ready for it, get your spiritual house in order, and don't give into the hysteria and fear. And if you're so inclined, pray and fast that whatever they have planned might be mitigated or thwarted altogether.

Empty shelves at a grocery store in Russia in 1990: here's what happened 
when the USSR tried to create a utopia via a central government.
Should we expect it will be any different this time around?  

Conclusion 

The craziness we've witnessed over the past two years, it appears, is far from over. Given that Schwab has really pushed his weight around on the world stage, it's feasible that the agenda he's pushing in The Great Reset; a one-world government, massive surveillance, technology incorporated into all parts of our lives; has some traction. 

And so this book is a healthy wake up call to any one who wants to have their head in the game. 

They throw a LOT of information at you in this book (it has 172 endnotes!), but rest assured, it is no literary masterpiece. I'll probably eventually toss it as I did my other NWO books so long ago. 

They also state over and over that a successful reset hinges on the cooperation of the masses. So maybe with enough resistance, this dystopian future might be averted. 

Have you read Covid-19: The Great Reset? What are your thoughts on the book? 

🍃

Footnotes

1.Whittaker Chambers, Witness. Regency Gateway, 1952: page 9.

2. Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret. Covid-19: The Great Reset . Forum Publishing, July 2020: page 3.

3. The Great Reset : page 47.

4. The Great Reset : pages 222, 3, 4.

5. The Great Reset : pages 244 & 9.

6. “Things tend to change gradually at first and then all at once. Expect the same for the macro reset,” The Great Reset  page 29.

“Many of us are pondering when things will return to normal. The short response is: never...radical changes of such consequence are coming,” The Great Reset  page 12. 

7. The Great Reset : pages 11, 12.

8. “Covid-19 will kill far fewer people than the Great Plagues, including the Black Death, or World War II.” The Great Reset  page 17.

“There is nothing new about the confinement and locks imposed upon much of the world to manage COVID-19. They have been common practice for centuries,” The Great Reset page 14. 

9. “The spread of infectious disease has a unique ability to fuel fear, anxiety, and mass hysteria...throughout history, the important and recurring pattern has been to search for scapegoats,” The Great Reset  page 14.

10. The Great Reset  page 127.

11. “Countries or empires have grown so large as to reach a threshold beyond which they cannot effectively govern themselves. This in turn is the reason why small economies like Singapore, Iceland, South Korea and Israel seem to have done better than the US in containing the pandemic and dealing with it,” The Great Reset  page 126.

“If no one power can enforce order, our wold will suffer from a 'global order deficit,'” The Great Reset page 105.

12. “A full return to normal cannot be envisaged before a vaccine is available,” The Great Reset  page 48.

“Many of us are pondering when things will return to normal. The short response is: never,” The Great Reset page 12. 

13. The Great Reset : pages 141-2.

14. “Leaving aside the (not insignificant) ethical issue of whether “sacrificing some lives to save the economy” is a social Darwinian proposition (or not), deciding not to save lives will not improve economic welfare,” The Great Reset  page 43.

15. The Great Reset  page 17. 

16. The Great Reset  page 131.

17. The Great Reset page 229.

18. The Great Reset  page 193.

19. The Great Reset  page 128.

20. The Great Reset  page 85.

21. The Great Reset  page 131.

22. The Great Reset page 118.

23. The Great Reset page 179. 

24. The Great Reset page 33.

25. The Great Reset page 164.

26. The Great Reset  page 205.

27. The Great Reset  pages 206-7.

28. The Great Reset page 171.

29. The Great Reset page 237.

30. The Great Reset pages 128-9.

31. The Great Reset page 29.


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3/15/22

How (and Why) to Make a General Confession

“You're only as sick as your secrets.” ~ Alcoholics Anonymous

“Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow.” ~ Isaiah 1:18 

Candles at the Fatima Shrine in Portugal.

“What do you see when you're in the dark, and the demons come?” Mitch Leary (John Malcovich) asks Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood) in a creepy late night phone call in the 1993 movie In the Line of Fire. Eastwood, a secret service agent, failed to take a bullet for President Kennedy on that fatal day in Dallas, and the assassination haunts him to the present day. “Do you really have the guts to take a bullet, Frank?” Malcovich further taunts him in the brilliant, gripping screenplay by Jeff Macguire.

And what do you, reader, see when you're in the dark and the demons come? 

We all have a personal legion of demons who come to agitate and rattle us about ways we've messed up, people we hurt, things we should or should not have done--and who remind us that the windows of opportunity to repair the damage closed long ago. Living with them is a heavy burden. It destroys our peace.

Jesus wants to exercise these demons from us, give us his peace, and restore us so we can live in the fullness of life. 1  And he has the unique capacity to do so. 

One principle means to achieve this restoration is with the sacrament of Reconciliation. 

A central problem for many, though, is that confession is SCARY!!! Who really wants to go into a tiny room and tell a priest her or his deepest and darkest? 

And if confessing sins from the last few months isn't hard enough, the notion of making a general confession, where you confess the sins of your entire lifetime, is downright terrifying. 

If this echoes some of your sentiments regarding confession, you certainly aren't alone. Many, many forgo receiving the sacrament of Penance due to its awkwardness, or else they just don't see the point of it. 

The reality, however, is that making a confession is healthy and natural. As a sacrament, it's one of the “masterworks of God.” 2 And you needn't squirm over feigned awkwardness: the priest has heard it all before. 

Let's look more closely at the benefits of regular confession and why a general confession especially makes sense at this moment in time—then go over some practical ways to prepare for one. 

A Routine Cleansing 

Over lunch last summer, my friend told me that he only makes a confession once in a while, when he's done something particularly injurious that he's truly sorry about. 

This is pretty much on base with what the Church professes: 

“After having attained the age of discretion each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year.” 3 

For my own part, I had an experience that convinced me I need to make confession a regular part of my life, regardless of whether or not I think I've done something “really bad.” 

Several years ago, I'd really had it with the priests and parish communities where I lived and decided to take a long break from confession. One night, I had a dream that I was in a filthy bathroom. A layer of dirt covered every surface area. It gave me the creeps just to be standing in the midst of it; like one of those gas station bathrooms that hasn't been cleaned for months and months. Then, a friend found me and guided me downstairs into a perfectly clean, sparkling and fresh bathroom. 

The next morning, a friend called and said that she was going to confession that afternoon and wondered if I wanted to join her? 

I was so surprised at this phone call; we never had “confession dates” before, lol; and I definitely made a connection between my dream and her invitation.

In the dream the bathroom represented my soul. Everyday sins dirtied it, so much so that even over a short span of time, it became unbearably filthy. Keeping my soul clean entailed a regular cleansing; i.e. confession. 

So after that, rain or shine, happy or sad with the priest or parish, and regardless of whether or not I thought I'd done anything exceptionally horrible, I made a practice of going to confession regularly. As a rule of thumb, I try to go about as often as I clean my bathroom. 😉

The Catechism on Confessions

Do you ever put something off for days and weeks, and over that time it just festers and gets worse? Take cleaning out your refrigerator. If it's not done regularly, all sorts of filth starts to grow onto leftovers and what not. Sometimes, nipping an ugly task in the bud is the easiest way to resolve it. 

The sacrament of Penance is a lot like that. In 1 John 1:9, John tells us, “If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. If we say, 'We have not sinned,' we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 

Looking at the ways we've failed is hard. However, a confession has a healthy psychological benefit: it's facing up to what we've done, which enables us to move past it. Here's how the Catechism phrases it: 

“The confession (or disclosure) of sins, even from a simply human point of view, frees us and facilitates our reconciliation with others. Through such an admission, man looks squarely at the sins he is guilty of, takes responsibility for them, and thereby opens himself again to God and to the communion of the Church in order to make a new future possible.” 4 

Essentially, confession allows for greater spiritual maturity. As the priest said in his homily at the Ash Wednesday Mass I attended: “If you go to confession regularly, you will experience spiritual growth. Guaranteed.” 

The Benefits of a General Confession

A general confession, which entails summarizing the sins of your entire lifetime, has been a tradition in the Church for some time now. St. Therese of Lisieux writes about making a general confession at her Carmel in France. 5  And the first section of St. Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises includes preparing for a general confession. 

But what is the sense in making one; of re-confessing sins you've already received absolution for in previous confessions? At first blush, it reminds me of a story a friend of mine told me of traveling to Lourdes with his family as a little boy. Although the intention of the trip was to seek healing for his ailing sister in the Lourdes water, upon arrival the volunteers at the grotto recommended he be dipped into the water as well. 

“But I'm already well,” he pointed out.

“But you will be better,” they insisted.

The notion of asking forgiveness for a sin more than once seems like a failure to trust or believe that Jesus wiped the slate clean the first time. 

--Add to it that it's just so dang hard to acknowledge an entire lifetime of sins in one sitting. 

Although a Catholic is under no obligation to make a general confession, there are in fact several good reasons for doing so—particularly at this point in time: 

  • In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius lays out some clear benefits of a general confession. For starters, he says it generates a greater contrition for all the sins of one's entire lifetime.
  • Another benefit he cites is that it increases our self-knowledge. We come to a greater understanding of our weak areas and tendency to sin, which allows us to heal. And it also shows us those areas where we've already healed and grown. 
  • And finally, he says that a general confession makes one better disposed to receive the Blessed Sacrament. And this in turn creates fortitude to no longer fall into sin. 6 
  • A final reason to make a general confession at this moment in time is to prepare ourselves for the Illumination of Conscience. As I've written several times before, the Illumination is unique in all of human history. It is a special moment in which God will reveal to every person his or her individual transgressions over an entire lifetime. Due to the Blessed Virgin's prophecies at Garabandal, there is good reason to think this Illumination will take place very soon; it's to happen, she says, when the world returns to the spirit of communism. Receiving this judgment will be a lot for any of us to palate, and making a general confession would mitigate the difficulty of this experience.

Appreciating these benefits of a general confession serves to ease the challenge of making one. And although not exactly being “men of the world,” most of the priests I've confessed to have been reasonable and easy enough to talk to. It's really expected of him, as the Catechism says: 

“The minister of the sacrament should....have a proven knowledge of Christian behavior, experience of human affairs, respect and sensibility toward the one who has fallen.” 7  

When I made a general confession, it was at a parish with an ENORMOUS line at the confessional. I honestly thought the priest would turn me away when he realized I was making a general confession, saying that he didn't have the time. But he didn't. And it was hard, but I stayed focused on what I was ACHIEVING from the confession: some sort of release and spiritual preparation for this upcoming decade. 

Now let's look at how one might prepare for a general confession—fortunately St. Ignatius has provided a coherent step-by-step guide.

St. Ignatius' Exercises to Prepare for a General Confession

As a young man in Spain around the turn of the 16th century, St. Ignatius of Loyola developed distinctive spiritual practices while praying alone in a cave for several months. After starting the Jesuit order around 15 years later, he codified these exercises, and novitiates complete them upon entering the order.

The term “spiritual exercises” encompasses a range of spiritual activities, including examination of conscience, meditation, contemplation, vocal and mental prayer. (Although the exercises, traditionally, are completed over a retreat lasting as long as thirty days, they can be adopted to any practitioner, over any time range that suits him or her.) 

Discernment is central to the exercises: identifying those desires and experiences in our lives that come from God, those that are from the devil, and those that originate from ourselves. This enables one to navigate a path toward God and the fullness of life Jesus promised us. 

The beginning of his exercises is dedicated to the contemplation of sin and preparation for a general confession. 

  • The Five Preparatory Exercises

In preparation for making a general confession, St. Ignatius suggests removing yourself from your daily life as much as possible. This way, to use his words, “The mind is not engaged in many things, but can give its whole attention to one single interest, that is, to the service of its Creator and its spiritual progress.” 8 

He lays out five separate exercises, 9 which I've simplified and summarized below. He recommends performing these exercises over the course of one day: the first exercise at midnight, the second upon rising, the third before or after Mass (before lunch), the Fourth at Vespers (early evening), and the Fifth an hour before supper. 

Since these were written in first person, I'm summarizing them here in first person as well. 

The First Exercise

I begin with a prayer asking God that this exercise might be oriented toward him. 

Next I complete two preludes:

First I meditate on “sin.” A visual Ignatius offers is a knight coming before a king and court after he's done something shamefully wrong, and after the king has given him many favors. (This visual gets at the kind of person Ignatius was.)

Second, I ask for the grace to be ashamed of occasions of sin. 

The body of this exercise entails meditating on the single sin of the angels that caused them to be cast into hell and the single sin of Adam and Eve that brought about the fallen state of the entire human race. 

Then I consider those who've led far better lives that I, who've sinned far less, yet who have incurred punishment and damnation.

Finally, I close with a Colloquy (which is basically a natural conversation with Jesus): After meditating on Him on the Cross, I answer these questions:

“What have I done for Christ?”

“What am I doing for Christ?”

“What ought I to do for Christ?”

The Second Exercise

The second exercise begins with the same preparatory prayer. 

This is followed by a prelude, this time asking for the grace of intense sorrow for sin. 

Next I record my sins, going over my life year by year, focusing on where I lived, my dealings with others and the positions I held. I look at my sins altogether, and then I look at myself compared to the almighty God. I look with awe on all of creation for having permitted me to commit these sins: the angels “through they are the sword of God's justice,” other humans, the saints, all of nature. 

Finally, I end with a Colloquy, speaking to God and thanking him for his mercy. 

The Third Exercise

The third exercise begins with the preparatory prayer. 

Next, I repeat the first and second exercises, focusing on which aspects bring consolation, and which desolation. 

I finish with three colloquies, speaking first to the Blessed Virgin, asking for her to help with self- knowledge and re-ordering my life, and to distance my life from worldly dangers. Then I make the same requests of Jesus and God the Father. 

The Fourth Exercise

The fourth exercise repeats the third, like a cow chewing on its cud, and closes with the same colloquies. 

The Fifth Exercise

The fifth exercise begins with the preparatory prayer.

Next, I meditate on hell, using all the five senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling the flames. 

One helpful description here is from St. Teresa of Avila's Book of her Life, a spiritual memoir she wrote around the age of 50. 

While I was in prayer one day, I suddenly found that, without knowing how, I had seemingly been put in hell….the entrance it seems to me was similar to a very long and narrow alleyway, like an oven, low and dark and confined; the flow seemed to me to consist of dirty, muddy water emitting a foul stench and swarming with putrid vermin. At the end of the alleyway a hole that looked like a small cupboard was hollowed out in the wall; there I found I was placed in a cramped condition.

All this was delightful to see in comparison with what I felt there….What I felt, it seems to me, cannot even begin to be exaggerated, nor can it be understood. I experienced a fire in the soul that I don’t know how I could describe. The bodily pains were so unbearable that though I had suffered excruciating ones in this life and according to what doctors say, the worst that can be suffered on earth…these were all nothing in comparison with the ones I experienced there. I saw furthermore that they would go on without end and without ever ceasing.

This, however was nothing next to the soul’s agonizing: constriction, a suffocation, an affliction so keenly felt and with such a despairing and tormenting unhappiness that I don’t know how to word it strongly enough. To say the experience is as though the soul were continually being wrested from the body would be insufficient, for it would make you think somebody else is taking away the life, whereas here it is the soul itself tears itself in pieces.…..I felt myself burning and crumbling; and I repeat the worst was that interior fire and despair….

the Lord wanted me to actually feel those spiritual torments and afflictions, as though the body were suffering. 10

(St. Ignatius of course doesn't include this excerpt in his exercises, but I have found it's a pretty thorough description, and so helpful for a meditation.)

Next, I ask for a sense of pain that the lost suffer, and for a fear of hell, an appreciation of its reality as a motivation to live an upright life.

I close with a colloquy, talking with Jesus about those who are condemned, and thanking Him that he's been merciful to me. 

And that wraps up the five exercises: after completing these, anyone is pretty well prepared to make a general confession. Most priests are available to hear confessions at least once a week. 

St. Ignatius makes a few comments on penance. 11 He suggests giving up food, sleep, and practicing forms of asceticism that make you uncomfortable but that don't hurt you physically (like taking cold showers, for example). He says that identifying suitable penance is a discernment process, and recommends talking over with God what is best for you. 

A Lesson From the Three Little Pigs

My two-year-old nephew has an indefatigable obsession with the story of the three little pigs, and last summer I read it to him over and over again. And yes, at the risk of being unbearably banal, I am going to go here: I found that it offered a powerful spiritual lesson. 

Although from one vantage a general confession seems intimidating, from another it's a wise thing to do. We all choose the foundations that we build our lives upon. Prudently laying a foundation of bricks fortifies us for the spiritual battles we face in this dark hour. 

Jesus assures us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light, and when we've cast all our cares upon him, and asked for His forgiveness, our reward is a light and carefree conscience.

But enough from me. What's your take on confession? Do you receive the sacrament regularly and believe it's beneficial? 

🍃


1 cf John 14:27, John 10:10.

2 Catechism of the Catholic Church. Doubleday Publishers, April 1995: Paragraph 1116 

3 Catechism of the Catholic Church. Doubleday Publishers, April 1995: Paragraph 1457.

4 Catechism of the Catholic Church. Doubleday Publishers, April 1995: Paragraph 1455.

5 Story of a Soul: the Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux. Translated by John Clark O.C.D. ICS Publications, 1996: page 149.

6 The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Translated by Louis J. Puhl, S. J. Loyola Press, 1951: Page 24.

7 Catechism of the Catholic Church. Doubleday Publishers, April 1995: Paragraph 1466.

8 The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Translated by Louis J. Puhl, S. J. Loyola Press, 1951: Page 10.

9 The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Translated by Louis J. Puhl, S. J. Loyola Press, 1951: Pages 25-33.

10 Volume 1: The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila. Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD & Otilio Rodriguez, OCD. ICS Publications, 1976: Page 214.

11 The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Translated by Louis J. Puhl, S. J. Loyola Press, 1951: Pages 38-9.

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