About this blogger:
Ronda Chervin received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Fordham University and an MA in Religious Studies from Notre Dame Apostolic Institute. A widow, mother, and grandmother, she currently teaches philosophy at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut. Write to her at chervinronda@gmail.com.
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“The Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic, and non-vernacular.”
— Blessed John XXIII (22 February 1962)

   Send an E-mail to Dr. Ronda Chervin, Ph.D.
End of the Year Insights
published 16 December 2012 by Dr. Ronda Chervin

For various reasons these were delayed, so I am making this a long one.

I read a book of the journals, Broken Lights, written by Ida Goerres, a German theologian best known for her book The Hidden Face about Little Therese. Here are some of the lines I liked best:

“You can ask questions, not only because you want to rip open other peoples’ secrets, but also because, artfully, you want to lay bare your own self, layer after layer…The idea is that the thing I am disclosing, revealing, is really an offering (whether distress, affection, cleverness, anything), and that, being thus thrust upon the other person, it must perforce impress him, convince him, overwhelm him, captivate him. It’s not really so very different from the strip-tease technique – which is why a certain kind of “outspokenness” so often seems just indecent and repulsive. Modesty and veils do go together…And this attempt to force admiration, sympathy, love, confidence is exactly the same as the idea of putting merit before grace in religion. And why? Because we actually rather believe in compulsion than in “grace”, i.e. in liberty, freely granted favor, election, the element of surprise in love. Rather like trying to substitute magic for prayer. Awful, really.

“We can’t wait for ‘the time and the hour’ because we don’t believe in letting things take their course. So we try to put on the clock and think we can arrange everything nicely our own way, convinced we shall be successful if only we can tackle things cleverly enough. How impious, how wrong, how terribly arrogant and yet how fear-stricken this attitude really is! How is reflects the panic of our age in which no one the courage anymore to believe that things come right “of their own accord”. Nowadays the maxim preferred is: “What I don’t seize myself no one’s going to give me”. “Could it be the special task of the old to bear living witness against the fear of death…? Old age less as “harvest of life” than as the commission to draw back the curtain, slowly, from the threshold of the new life.”

“I am pondering the mysterious process of growing old – that stripping unto death. Yet I don’t see it as something negative, not as descent into the dark valley, but rather as the climb to the last peak – before which one must rid oneself of all superfluous baggage, discarding all hampering equipment. The armor, the skins and wrappings the soul has laid upon itself for its security would seem to be falling away, so that it must meet what is to come at last directly, naked.”

She thinks that any woman who has difficulties with Mary it is because we have problems with our own femininity or feel unable to be feminine. I thought, hatred of feeling vulnerable?

I notice that some of my friends and I tend toward bravado. Noticing the merciful glance of someone watching us take turns with bravado I thought, he is waiting for one of us to pause long enough to let the mercy of Jesus flowing through his glance, enter our poor desperate hearts.

A lovely poem one of my daughter’s sent me by John Whitworth:

What the Donkey Saw

I knew that God was very grand,
Too grand to mark the likes of me,
For he was bigger than the land
And he was stronger than the sea
And he was older than the air
And evermore and everywhere.

For God was wise and God was right,
And all the universe was his.
For he was day and he was night
And he was everything that is.
But that is not the thing at all,
For God is very sweet and small…

A good friend seemed to want to write me off because of a disappointment of the past. I wrote him:

Do you really want to write-off all the friends of your long pilgrimage through disappointments as now simply enemies?

With all the ashes that remain from the disappointments stands Jesus – His heart – God’s love for you making in His heart a place that nothing outward can touch. And all the human love in your heart and in others for you – is it not there that it dwells.
Do you know anyone who has a Down Syndrome Child or one with some other large difference? I read a terrific book by a pro-life advocate for disabled babies in the womb. The author is Leticia Velasquez. The title is: A Special Mother is Born. It has beautiful witness stories of how such babies gave joy to parents and families.

Fr. Dennis Kolinski of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, whose seminarians study at Holy Apostles, was talking about how typically men express love by doing things for others, not by saying “I love you.” He mentioned how a husband will get mad if his wife complains about not hearing “I love you” enough. “What’s the matter with you,” the husband could say, “look at all I do for you! Isn’t that enough to prove I love you.”

A very funny senioritis moment: I write my exams way ahead – so I wrote one with 15 questions, multiple choice a month ago. Typically I have the right answer, one that sounds right if you never did the readings, and one that is off the wall for fun. I sent to California one of the books the test was based on. Now, a month later, I am typing the test and, guess what, I can’t remember what the correct answers were on some of them! So I had to change it to 10 questions. The students loved hearing about this!

“We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.” This is a line from a poem. Does anyone know the name of the poet?
I want to recommend once more the book by Stephen Schwarz and Kiki Latimer called Understanding Abortion: From Mixed Feelings to Rational Thought. The book was written to meet the need for someone to give “middle-of-the-road” people who will not read a book that “seems” to vilify pro-abortion people. I taught it in my very pro-life class and Dr. Schwarz came to answer questions. People love it because it is clearly, by the end, pro-life, but can be given to the confused without them thinking we are caricaturing the opposition.
Image of Spiritual Leadership

Some days your soul is soaring
And we, the followers,
Feel elevated to a higher place
Under the shadow of your wings. Ronda Chervin

Concerning the elections: As a former atheist I understand that many pro-abortion atheists don’t value the baby in itself. We used to think that people are yucky clumps of matter unless….smart, happy, creative, etc.
It occurs to me that because part of my apostolate is challenging ardent but not yet holy Catholics, I don’t always enough focus on what is already in the depth of their souls that is so good and holy in spite of their faults.

Another way to think about this would be to say that people already in the unitive way in terms of surrender and deep peace and detachment might still have imperfections someone could notice and wish to challenge them on.
Another line from John Wu: “The sorrows (of life) are the sorrows of the ages; but the joy is the Joy of Eternity.”