First, again my apologies to you my friends, known and unknown.
I have given you the idea that this weblog would be updated more regularly than this, and now I have to say that I am sorry and that I really have little clear idea as to the future of this endeavour - and when it will be possible to resume.
I am also very sorry for long delayed personal replies to many of you who have written very kind things to me.
I am now living in France, in a situation that is self-chosen, entirely self-chosen, and also very demanding and precarious.
In sometimes overwhelming difficulties, my access to the internet has been very limited. Still I do not think that that is an excuse, and I am sorry.
Now in the past, for the sake of Unknown Friends, I´ve tried to keep strictly personal content to a minimum here.
But for once, I'll allow myself some laxity - and speak of more intimate things, which may be more of interest to my known friends.
I´ll also allow myself the laxity of writing in a very unstructured, fragmentary way. Some of what follows is not just fragments then, but simply scraps, SCRAPS from the contents of my consciousness ...
Yes our situation is very demanding and it seems to Kim and myself, very profound.
We have been a fifth time to Paray-Le-Monial, where Saint Marguerite Marie began receiving visions of His Sacred Heart in 1673 ...
Day after day, we have been at Mass there and we have been in the profound stillness that can be felt in the chapels there.
"Avez vous bu le silence quelquefois?" Or in the English translation, "Have you ever drunk silence?" This is a question that the anonymous author of Meditations on the Tarot asks his readers.
"If in the affirmative, you know what concentration without effort is."
And concerning this, he says:
"It is the profound silence of desires, of preoccupations, of the imagination, of the memory and of discursive thought. One may say that the entire being becomes like the surface of calm water, reflecting the immense presence of the starry sky and its indescribable harmony.
And the waters are so deep, they are so deep! And the silence grows ever increasing ... what silence!
Its growth takes place through regular waves which, one after another, pass through your being: One wave of silence followed by another wave of more profound silence, then again, a wave of still more profound silence."
Yes, in Paray I experienced perhaps the deepest and most significance silence of my life. Perhaps.
Now I do not believe that the waves became as profound as our author suggests they can become. But at least the beginning of profound waves silence did become present. I trust that.
And so much became evident.
Including some of the most well known truths of the Catholic tradition.
Still it is one thing to take a religious teaching on faith. It is another thing entirely to FEEL it penetrating into one's depths.
Thus do a few words from my personal journal express an idea, that has been expressed to saiety - one would think - for nearly two thousand years.
One would think it would be quite mundane by now.
But the experience, my experience, I repeat, sitting in profound stillness before the Blessed Sacrament in Paray-Le-Monial was anything BUT mundane ...
And these words written in the immediate aftermath of that experience, whilst still sitting in that chapel, are for me, not mundane either:
"I felt ... there is this Sacred Story trying to unfold between Christ and us.
He is trying to heal each and everyone of us.
This is - feeling it still now - amazing.
Each and every one of us, he is trying to heal.
He is trying to heal ME and billions more like me.
It is amazing.
... He is trying to heal us all.
He is trying to heal me.
That woman behind me.
All of us.
Completely, utterly amazing.
Heal me, and billions, trillions like me.
Each of us."
And what was implicit in this experience, was an overwhelming sense that this healing was offered through an INDIVIDUAL relationship with each of these UNCOUNTED entities ...
He sought to reach out to each of us through individual relationship ... !
Needless to say, this experience has provided a source for great reflection, ever since.
And it has so many corollaries. Corollaries.
One corollary I noted in my journal at the time.
"He can "use" each of us.
(He never wants to "use" any of us!)
But he can extend through each of us.
We can help him. We can help his work."
So, so many things to dwell upon in pondering this question: "How to help his work?"
How to do his WORK. How to serve his work.
So many answers to that question.
At one level, OBEDIENCE.
OBEDIENCE to what is carried in the deepest layers one struggles to discern in oneself ...
Such obedience, I believe, led Kim and I to France, and to Paray-Le-Monial ...
Much unfolds for us around a work, a work to be done in and through France. I do not know how much more of my writing will be done through my mother tongue.
Can I speak yet of this work? Perhaps in halting fragments or even scraps ...
Recently I replied to Mama Pelican on this weblog about Mother Angelica.
How I share her concern about what she identifies as "conservative Catholicism!"
Though I suspect some of what shes sees has more to do with an American species of Catholicism, than Catholicism itself.
Mama Pelican also speaks of her discovery of the beauty of pre-Vatican II books ...
Friends, I am also more and more moved by a beauty I find in many writings, images, works of art associated with the immediate pre-Vatican II era.
I who was first a fully fledged, card-carrying New Ager, then a liberal Anglican, then a liberal Catholic, and then ... Words fail.
And in France, it seems to me, we see more than anywhere else I have lived, a most concerted to BURY the pre-Vatican II church.
The result it would seem are empty churches or a Catholicism my wife calls "zany."
"Zany". What does she mean by "zany?"
Among other things, she means a Mass, wherein the Mystery of the Mass is no longer central. Where instead, what has taken centre stage is singing and entertainment, that is neither reverent or present, but is animated by something bordering on manic ... Bordering, I say.
At a Mass in the Pyrenees, my wife and I are looking up at a MODERN mural of the Resurrected Christ behind the altar. In this modern image, he smiles sweetly down at us, maybe even starts to grin ...
But there is no GRAVITAS in this modern face of Christ. Is this an image of the Christ who weeps with us, as well as smiles? No, it is zany.
Again, how to do, to serve the work of Christ?
Including obedience to WORK WITH WHAT LIFE PRESENTS ONESELF.
The example of Kim and I following an inspiration to come to France is just one example.
And another example is of being presented here in France, with a dying, zany church, in which it seems to us, that Christ is obscured ...
But life presents so much more, besides.
Here is another example.
This summer, life also presented me with the Da Vinci Code at last, and also some comments from Doctor Rudolf Steiner ...
Around these two, so much could be said, but I must content myself with noting just a little.
Noting for example, that I am seeing a direct connexion between two statements. First there is the statement that I find on pg 403 of the Da Vinci Code:
"The Priory, like many European secret societies at odds with the Church, had considered English the only European PURE language for centuries. Unlike French, Spanish and Italian, which were rooted in Latin - THE TONGUE OF THE VATICAN - English was linguistically removed from Rome's propaganda machine, and therefore became a sacred, secret tongue for those brotherhoods educated enough to use it [Emphasis in original]."
And then there is the statement, or at very least the implication, that Doctor Rudolf Steiner seems to make - that English is also a tongue which can so easily facilitate the aims of secret societies, which he claims for decades have aimed to promote global capitalist domination.
Yes, in lectures given in Dornach in October 1920, Rudolf Steiner touches on these societies and on the invisible entities working through the people in them. He emphasises the role that English plays for this endeavour, noting that within peoples speaking Romance tongues (such as French), these same entities 'would be extremely constricted." (Pg '( etc)
Yes, I am hearing a connexion between these statements from Dan Brown and Rudolf Steiner, and between these and much more besides ...
For example, a recent cover of The Economist. That cover shows the tricolour of the French flag - blue, white and red - with the bold headline, "What France needs".
And in the middle panel, the white panel, below the headline, there is the image of Margaret Thatcher.
My wife sees this cover and recoils in shock. "Oh my God", escapes her lips.
I ask her why.
She says because she feels a striking paradox: For in one sense, she is here in France: "Margaret Thatcher" has already conquered France.
And of course, globalised capitalism is everywhere.
But in another way, my wife notes she really is NOT here yet
I nod in agreement. No "Margaret Thatcher" and all she so radically brought to Britain, if not Europe, in 1979 has still not fully reached France.
That is why the Economist feels she is needed.
Like myself, The Economist can feel her ABSENCE here.
For of all the European countries I know, I feel the greatest resistance to capitalist globalisation here in France. I still feel SOUL here ...
A quality of soul that Margaret Thatcher, it seems to me, did much, so very much to bury in Britain ... bury under a culture, so-called, more and more exclusively dedicated to economic FUNCTIONS ...
A "culture" dedidicated more and more exclusively to economic functions.
Here is more of what Rudolf Steiner says of the beings working through the English language.
"They have set themselves the task of keeping life as a whole restricted to the mere life of economics. They seek to gradually root everything else ... to root out spiritual life, to chip away the political life and to absorb everything into the life of economics (ibid, pg 36)."
Yes eighty years ago, Rudolf Steiner you warned of the threat of reducing all of culture and politics to economic functions.
And now I feel it everywhere. A successful musician tells me how she left the record industry because of corporate pressure to make her music more commercial. University doctors tell me of the crass, commercial ethos that now pervades the academy, if academy it can still be called, for it has been dumbed-down to meet economic agendas. Artless, graceless buildings arise everywhere, sacrificing Soul for economic ends. And if individuals nations try to express their
And everywhere people's individual lives also become stripped of Soul.
I receive e-mails which haunt my soul. One of my dear known friends, expresses the stripping of Soul he experiences in his own life in America.
Yes here is a fragment from his letter that elaborates something far better than I can, at least right now, something well advanced in Asia and America - but now being summoned forth in Europe:
"In this fast-paced, busy, time-starved,complex environment we've created, we are forced to compartmentalize our lives. For example: Up at 6:45, to work by 8, pick up the kids after soccer practice, throw together dinner, pay the bills, do the laundry, go to church at 10 a.m. Sunday, meet the parents for lunch, fix the fawcet in the kitchen...
Church, religion, spirituality, get compartmentalized along with all the other things we do in life. ... Is it any wonder that the lessons and brotherly love we shared at 10 a.m. Sunday get brushed aside in the boardroom Monday, when we decide to up profits by laying off a thousand people?
... Connectedness -- we've lost it in America, at least to a great degree. (That makes it easier to lay off people!) If you look at the European model of community and work, and weeks of vacation each year, and the East Asian model of all work and no play, America long has fallen in between. But we're moving toward the East Asian model; in fact, we've been accelerating in that direction.
Nowadays, [with]greedy business owners and corporations ... There seems to be a mentality spreading that ANYTHING that is good for a company's profits is a good idea. Lying, stealing, cheating, destroying the environment and exporting jobs overseas ... [We have ]an acceleration to the disconnected, dog-eat-dog jungle style of capitalism in East Asia.
In East Asia, where I lived for two years and worked at a business magazine, capitalism is perverted thoroughly in this way ... Japan is woefully ill in spirit, having replaced all their values with the worship of wealth. Korea is far down that track, and China is racing up behind those nations.
... I see a societal illness -- and let's admit that society never
has been and never will be perfect -- that results from imbalance, away
from spirituality and toward self-centeredness."
Yes dear known friend, how your words strike my soul ... "FORCED to compartmentalise" as you put it.
Forced to acquiece to an increasingly mechanical society that leaves no room for soul.
And without soul, we move ever more to the self centred dog eat dog horror that you see so clearly ...
Yes all of this, it seems to me, has to do with the Da Vinci Code, and with Rudolf Steiner's warnings more than 80 years ago about the dangers of a society CONQUERED by the forces working through Anglo-American Secret Societies.
To a degree, France resists. And the Economist is NOT happy about it. The Spirit of "Margaret Thatcher" simply must be summoned here as well. But she is still "constricted" ...
What am I saying here? Am I insinuating?
Or am I just pointing? Stammering and pointing: "Look there. Look there."
Because for the moment, I can do no more than point and stammer. I will let you decide for yourself.
For again, these are but the contents of my consciousness, as I ponder the question, how am I called to serve the work of Christ?
Again, so, so much more might be said.
Because so much has happened since Kim and I have come to France, via Spain.
Through all of that has come an ever deepening conviction as to the work, the mighty work that is being done "to bypass the Mystery of Golgotha" as Rudolf Steiner has put it.
To obscure, that is, the Mystery of Christ ...
Yes we have the Da Vinci Code which would tell us, as its leading protagonists do, that 'Almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false" and that "Nothing in Christianity is original."
Thus millions are led to suspect, if not believe, that almost the entire content of two thousand years of mystical experience, work, thought, prayer and revelation, are nothing but a spurious rehash.
There is nothing then INSPIRED with all these mystics, theologians, philosophers and saints. At best they are dupes. And at worst? Those who would follow Dan Brown can only conclude that everything from the original writers of the Gospels to the Christian mystics and hermeticists of the last centuries, all of these, including Rudolf Steiner, all, all are, at best, deluded.
Thus that which the Church teaches us about the Mystery of Christ has almost nothing to do with the truth ...
But to return to my theme, the true question in my heart is, again, how to HELP, to SERVE his WORK.
Ranting about the DaVinci Code will not achieve that.
Although perhaps what will, perhaps what will, is really allowing myself to WEEP at the immense unfolding tragedy to which those best selling pages say to me: the full scale tragedy of the vast attempt to bury Christ ...
Yes, not to rant, but to weep, to weep and act ...
To act in obedience.
Am I weeping enough? Am I acting enough? These are questions in my soul.
As I ask them answers come. And answers came most particularly in the profound stillness of those chapels in Paray-Le-Monial.
It seems to me that there is a work to be done.
A work that seems to me to involve so much.
It involves it seems to me, the legacy of Rudolf Steiner, who unlike Dan Brown proclaimed the unutterably immense depths of the Mystery enacted by Christ on Golgotha, on Calvary ...
But who it seems to me, lamented the rigidity and materialism he saw in the pre-Vatican II Counter-Reformation Church. And much else besides ... (Again these are fragments, if not scraps, barely elaborated ...)
Rudolf Steiner also lamented the Jesuits who pioneered so much of Counter Reformation, whose work he considered most "dangerous".
And yet this future work in France I see, also draws on the legacy of Valentin Tomberg. And Valentin Tomberg saw something very different in regards to the Jesuits and the Counter-Reformation (and it needs to be said here, I think, that Prokofieff, in a sense, is right).
As he writes in his Covenant of the Heart (pg 95), Valentin Tomberg considers that with "the spiritual exercises [of St Ignatius]it was a matter of awakening the whole human being to the reality of Christianity through inner experience.
Through the meditative training people became MORE than pious; they became witnesses to the truth of Christianity.
Human beings emerged from the meditative training of the spiritual exercises to wholly devote themselves, out of their own deepest knowledge and conscience to the redemptive truths of Christianity.
What was usually experienced - more dreaming than awake - through pious devotion became in this experience of medirtation a matter of burning conscience, a challenge to action and an overwhelming awakening to the reality of redemtion, the Redeemer and the saints."
Is this, of necessity, an unqualified endorsement of Jesuitism? No.
Is the author saying something different from Rudolf Steiner? Yes, I think that he is.
And what is this difference that he indicates? For now? I can only offer a fragment of what I start to see.
But what strikes my heart as I consider the profound disagreement between two profound Christian Hermeticists, is that much that is at issue here, revolves around how we consider, the human, concrete, one can even say material expression of Jesus Christ.
For Rudolf Steiner, the Jesuits were clearly too materialistic.
He tells us thus, "Because Christ had to be incarnated in a physical body, the purely spiritual took part in the physical world; but over against this participation stand the monumental and most significant words of Christ: "My kingdom is not of this world."
But for Steiner, Jesuitism misses all of this. In Jesuitism, he believes "the Jesus principle is exaggerated ..."
Ignatius, Rudolf Steiner also tells us, wanted "to represent everything to do with Jesus in a purely material way."
Now there are also many other objections made by Rudolf Steiner to the Jesuits. This one of materialism is hardly all encompassing.
But I am focussing on this, because it may be at just this point that the Catholic Valentin Tomberg parts company with the Rosicrucian Rudolf Steiner.
For it seems clear to me that what Valentin Tomberg is saying has gone wrong with so much of esoteric Christianity, including Anthroposophy, is that the human, concrete aspect of Christianity has gone missing - in favour of the Logos.
Thus at one point he writes that although LIGHT is present in a Christianity that focusses on the Cosmic Christ, magic, warmth and PERSONALITY and LIFE are so often missing.
Thus in Covenant of the Heart, he speaks of Rudolf Steiner's Anthroposophy, noting that "the third aspect of the Way, the Truth, and the Life - namely life - was not given enough attention. For the scientific form into which the logic of the Logos had to be cast, and by which it was LIMITED, left little room for pure mysticism and spiritual magic, that is for LIFE. So there is in Anthroposophy a MAGNIFICENT achievement of thought and will, which is however, unmystical and unmagical, i.e. in want of LIFE. Rudolf Steiner himself was conscious of this essential lack. Therefore it was with a certain amount of hope that he indicated the necessary appearance of a successor (the Bodhisattva) who would remedy this lack and would bring the trinity of the Way, the Truth and the Life to FULL fruition." (Emphasis mine, pg 70).
And he makes it clear that these lacking elements CAN be found in the Catholic tradition ...
Anthroposophy failed perhaps because it did not value highly enough the concrete, the particular, the human and the personal, including the "material".
But if he were with us today, he might tell us that Jesuit Counter Reformation Catholicism did indeed participate in that ...
For unlike Rudolf Steiner, he does affirm the value of the Counter-Reformation, saying that this last "should not be understood as anti reformatory, but as a true reformation.
For the movement toward interiorisation and spiritualisation which arose then in the Church was indeed, in a real sense REFORMATION, and in no sense a process of outer revolt - destroying images and annihilating Church hierarchy, and doing away with the spiritual orders and the three vows.
A monastery, for instance, is not reformed by chasing out the monks, but by bringing in a more interiorised spiritual life ...
The so-called Counter-Reformation and the so-called Reformation stand in the same relationship to one another as the spiritualisation of the monasteries stands in relation to their dissolution.
The first was an impulse toward inner transformation; the second signified "rebellion" and "purge". The one meant "evolution", the other signified "revolution". (Covenant of the Heart, pg 96)"
Yes, yes Mama Pelican, again there is this beauty I sense in the Counter Reformation Catholic Spirituality that is so sidelined in our time. Though this is not the same as denying the "danger" which Rudolf Steiner saw so well.
But every imbalance can be dangerous.
Yes the future work I see in France involves all of this and more.
It involves, for example, the striking fact that an anonymous Russian author who lived in England, nevertheless chose to write his Magnum Opus in FRENCH.
And it involves the immense French legacy of the experiences of Saint Marguerite-Marie who saw His Sacred Heart in 1673 ...
A legacy which seems so very tied up with the Jesuits. A legacy which inspired profound resistance to the Revolution of 1789. A legacy with countless shadows and contradictions. A legacy which may be more profoundly relevant to THE SOUL OF FRANCE, and to the world, than even I dare to imagine yet.
And so much more this work I see involves.
But one more thing I will leave you.
It is a translation of a few lines from a German book by Martin Kriele, who guards Valentin Tomberg's estate, and who knew him during his life. I hope that Doctor Kriele can forgive my taking these brief lines from his book. It seems to me somehow important.
"Occasionally [Tomberg] spoke of evil in which he saw not only a "lack of being", but very real powers manifold and chaotic.
One should not occupy oneself excessively with it but pay attention to evil in the seductive form of seeming good, its method of adopting something beautiful and half-true which deceives us and leads us unwittingly into evil.
He was concerned with the art of the discernment of spirits which was needed particularly also in matters of politics and political philosophy. In this context he held V. Soloviev's writings in high esteem.
If people were afraid of evil occult groups and "conspiracies", this was not principally unjustified - they did in fact exist - but most of the time, one did not understand how to localize them accurately.
Thus the talk of a "Jewish world-conspiracy" had been a fateful lie. But in fact sinister occult forces had worked in Hitler's and Lenin's movement.
To counter these there was a need for a "white" Christian Esotericism of Good which alone was up to this task. It could unfold "magical" effects if the will of man is in perfect harmony with the will of God.
In "Scottish" Masonry, whose center in London had been destroyed during the war and relocated to New York, he saw a dangerous occult counter current.
It would lure man with the promise of humanity - but with the aim of a world without Christ and without death and resurrection.
Beginning from the 21st degree the member which saw through the game could only liberate itself from the entanglement through suicide.
He described to me the methods of working of the sinister counter-occultism, for example its influence on language, manners of speech, ideological forms of thinking and the fostering of all sorts of enemy-polarizations.
He took the occultism without Christ which based itself on the Theosophy of Blavatsky and worked out of the Indian-Tibetan region very seriously.
It was very influential from the background. It was for example partly instrumental in the spread of Bolshevism, in the benevolent neutrality towards it, in the threatening east-west polarization but also in the "esoteric" youth movement of the "New Age" which began to flourish at the time.
History is like a chess board with white and black figures. One could never clearly foresee which moves the enemies prepared from out of the dark.
Therefore no certain prophecy was possible. This also explains why some predictions of Rudolf Steiner for this century have not come to pass.
It could well be useful to reveal what the enemies still wanted to keep hidden. The most effective counter measure though was to turn to Christ, prayer, contemplation, the cultivation of love and kindness of heart.
Everything in Tomberg's thinking revolved around one center: Christ. His greatness and glory he said, full of reverence, was so immeasurable that every attempt to imagine it stayed far behind the reality.
When he spoke of Christ his language took on the tone of gravity and deeply being moved familiar to us, from the Gospels, especially the St John's Gospel. Him he loved with every fibre of his heart. In His service, he placed himself without any reserve and through Him in the service of the Father."
Friends, I am either mad, or I am aspiring to the Hanged Man of which the anonymous Russian author writes that He acts first, then he desires, and lastly he understands
Which is to say, I do not yet understand all that this work in France is about.
But I felt these indications were not only justified, but somehow _warranted_. Again, obedience.
And for the moment, I do not know either the future of this weblog, or of this future work I glimpse in fragments.
In the meantime, I recommend to all Christians who can do so, a pilgrimmage to Paray-le-Monial, where it seems to Kim and his Sacred Heart can STILL be felt ... more than 300 years after 1673 ...
Yes his Sacred Heart, day after day radiating through our bodies, cleansing, stilling, healing us...
In the meantime, I really do not know what can be posted at this weblog.
I DO have the unfinished remainder of my Confessions manuscript.
But so much has changed in these last months, I do not know if it is appropriate to present that old material. Or if it is better to start afresh.
I feel very strongly though, that my future work does involve writing, and that writing will be emerging from myself in both French and English, on the web, and I hope eventually in print ...
I feel also that my future work may involve publishing the thought of others, including perhaps long forgotten mystics and hermeticists of Catholic France.
I also feel that something else will be entailed. A local expression of these impulses in rural France, which will perhaps involve Community.
I feel my effort to be obedient will entail this.
But how these "entailed things" may come to pass, I do not know.
So much more I wish that I could say. But having said this much, it seems that what I must say now, dear Friends, is THANK YOU for all the kind attention you have given this weblog. Thank you for all your kindness, expressed in so, so many ways ...
Again, I do not know the future. New material might appear at this site quite soon, or it might not.
Whatever happens, I trust an extended web presence for my work will be forthcoming at some future point. Though how much it will be in English or in French is not yet clear to me.
However, if you wish to be apprised of my future activities in cyberspace, you can send your e-mail address to me at sophialiebhaber at yahoo dot com. And I will let you know ...
But for now, dear Friends, I must bid you "Au Revoir".
(I find myself thinking of George Weigel's vast biography of John Paul, where nonetheless, nonetheless I wish to repeat, my experience in reading it that almost nothing, almost not one thing critical of John Paul's papacy, was uttered, except under the heading of one category. That single category is where John Paul began to criticise American ideology ... Thus when John Paul was too "left wing", Weigel, it seemed to me, became uncomfortable ...)