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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“In all this mediaeval religious poetry there is much that we could not use now. Many of the hymns are quite bad, many are frigid compositions containing futile tricks, puns, misinterpreted quotations of Scripture, twisted concepts, whose only point is there twist. But there is an amazing amount of beautiful poetry that we could still use.”
— Rev. Adrian Fortescue (d. 1923)

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Letter to an Atheist Friend about her dread illness and other excerpts
published 20 March 2013 by Dr. Ronda Chervin

From my old journal in 2004 – written to an atheistic friend.

“Dearest Emily,

I will pray for your surgery. I am delighted about your new grandbaby. Just
looking at her must be a great joy even if you can’t help much.

About purgatory. Here the basic way I see it is that at the time of death everyone sees Jesus. If they love light and goodness they move toward Him. Now, to be in heaven you have to have nothing but love in your heart. But sins of the past constrict the heart and leave pockets of cold, resentment, non-forgiveness, hate, etc.

Purgatory is a place of purification – I call it stretching the heart to love more and purifying it to get rid of those pockets mentioned above. You can tell even in this life that repenting, forgiving, etc. is painful.

The pain is mainly spiritual and immaterial since souls do not have bodies, but as a condescending to our earthly viewpoint it is described by Jesus and shown to visionaries, including Dante, as physical pain. There is no fixed Catholic doctrine resolving the conundrum of how souls without bodies can be shown as suffering physical pain to visionaries. I looked it up.

Here is how you could “pray”

God, if there is a God, I am very sorry for all the sins, defects, etc. of my life, especially those that directly hurt other people. Please forgive me. I offer the sufferings I have been going through with Parkinsons and all the ones in the future as a penance for those sins and defects. Also if Christians are right in what they believe, show me clearly.
Can’t hurt.”

Chesterton said the reason he became a Catholic was to get rid of his sins. I was thinking about how long people live nowadays: to have more time to recover from their lives?

A line from one of the sermons at the Retreat Center – we need to love others in the place of their greatest need which they will only open to us if they feel we love them.

ROM the writings of the French 20th Century mystic Marthe Robin who lived most of her life without eating, drinking or sleeping with the stigmata: “All of life is Calvary and every soul is a Gethsemane where all drink in silence the chalice of their own lives.”

“Hating not being a saint yet!” I understand. I am appalled. When I became a Catholic at 21 I thought maybe 5 years would do it. All of these feelings have to do with proudly wanting to be an ambassador vs. a child of God. We want to give love, not receive love. What makes us more holy is being super receptive to God’s love as did John of the Cross, Teresa, and Therese. Somehow, big hearted as we both are, we think receiving love is a bit sentimental. Project-itis fits in very well with this. How about – on the way into Mass each day, as well as thinking of all the people you need to help with this and that, say a prayer such as “Jesus! I am the one who needs to be saved. Here I am the humble publican confessing to ————————————(whatever your main weaknesses are.) I am poor and needy. Help me. As you fill my body with your precious body and blood, please make your love percolate into the marrow of my painful body, heart, mind and spirit.