The First Epistle to Dominican Brother Reginald OP (Order of Preachers)

52984124_117642846042761_8701216142372372480_n[1]I’m totes mega-devs that you’re about to be whisked away back to Melbourne within the next two months or so. You’re the first Dominican that I’ve really gelled with and there’s a special place for you in my heart. Previously my only exposure was Father Manes, and his accusations of heresy came across as being drenched in anger and dripping with poison. Whereas you and me are able to just have a laugh about it all, as is charitable and loving to do. I hope we will be able to stay in touch once you disappear back down south. You’ll definitely be in my prayers. If I get rich again with both time and money, I will try to visit Melbourne regularly to catch up with you! You strike me as someone with a soft heart who is willing to listen, and so I find myself spontaneously writing this message and exhortation to you.

As your friend I want to do whatever I can to help you be a good and faithful Dominican, Catholic and Christian. But I also want to help you to understand and trust the Gospel promise, which transcends all religious categorisations and labellings. Because nothing else matters. Catholic law and tradition is true and good and beautiful, and both you and I should do our best to follow it, praying the divine office, saying the rosary, serving mass, getting baptised, going to confession and all the rest of it. But without trusting that divine promise this is all just dead works and empty piety; without faith in the gospel we end up just burning rubber at 300kph and not actually moving anywhere.

The promise is that salvation is well and truly unconditional; you literally don’t have to do anything whatsoever and God just gives heaven to you for nothing; Trust that promise and enter into heavenly joy right damn now, skipping death and purgatory. And once you realise that you don’t have to be Dominican, Catholic, and Christian, all of a sudden these three things come alive with colour and symphony and you do them purely out of love and without a trace of fearful obedience. You also become freed to become all things to all people, knowing that nothing can snatch your salvation away from you.

For there is only one mortal sin, which is to fail to trust the gospel promise that I am now speaking to you. Not because failing to trust it will send you to Hell, but because in failing to have faith you are already there; lost and wandering in the outer darkness, and burning in the lake of fire. The Catholic moral law is merely commentary on this fact: there is only one “sin that leads to death”, and it is the failure to understand and trust my promise. This is not a retributive punishment, it is merely a sad brute fact of reality. But God is sovereign, and his promise cannot fail, even though he refuses to force it on us. God’s word achieves what it sets out to achieve, and he promises that his love will hunt you down wherever you may run to, and woo you until you can’t help but say “I love you” back to him.

So I have total and absolute certainty that one day you will be saved (“anathema! anathema!” scream the Fathers of Trent), but why wait? Why not just do it right now? Now is the only moment that matters: We shouldn’t be concerned with trying to “get to heaven” and “avoid Hell” in the future; for these two things are present realities and so we should strive to enter Heaven right now. The eschaton is infinitely distant into the future, and we will never get there, as the eastern church fathers confess; but the eschaton can also explode in our hearts today, at this very hour, if only we would trust that good news and promise. By faith in the promise, our souls cross the uncrossable chasm from Hell to Heaven, and the infinite distance between now and that final victory which lies at the end of the age.

When you truly trust the promise, you realise that not only are you already in heaven, but everyone else is too, and yet they do not realise it. And so evangelism becomes painfully easy for the missionary; all they need do is articulate the promise and proclaim it to the people around them, trusting that God is sovereign, and his promise is effective, and that the Holy Spirit is sowing seeds in the heart of the listener that will infallibly blossom into faith and love at some point in the future. There is no need to thrust 2000 years of Catholic tradition onto the poor neophyte; that comes later. Start with the simple Gospel promise, finish with the sacraments. To do it in reverse is utterly disastrous, as the billions of scrupulous and indifferent Catholics attest.

And lest there be some confusion about the content of this promise, here it is: “I, Alex, in the name of the resurrected Christ, Love you with the divine love, and we promise you that God is with you, even as you wander in Hell. We promise you that God will rescue you from the darkness, and he will use us as his instruments in this battle. We promise you that if you should somehow find yourself trapped in the eschatalogical, everlasting, eternal Hell-fire that lies beyond death, not even this will stop us from saving you. God is eternally more eternal than eternity, and infinitely more infinite than infinity. and so not even the everlasting Hell can prevent us from rescuing you. Christ and the church – the army of God – are with me as I proclaim this promise to you: We are prepared to make the charge against the fortress of Hell. And as Christ promised; the gates of Hell shall not prevail against us. We will rescue you, and no rebellion, death, sin, “freedom”, demons nor devils can ultimately separate you from our love.” This promise will not fail: trust it! And if you doubt the promise, do not ignore your questions and objections; instead confront them and crush them with prayer and meditation. You will not truly appreciate the power of God until you see him face to face, but we do not have to wait till we die to do that. Do it right now, by faith in the Gospel.

Forgive my long and presumptuous ramblings. I tend to get doxological and theological after my morning coffee. And in any case I myself am constantly enthralled by the beautiful Gospel promise in every hour of my existence; whether sleeping or waking. I can’t help but gush about it to you, as the divine love and Joy can’t help but bubble up and overflow out of my heart and attempt to penetrate yours. I want nothing more than to share this love with you. It is a love that explodes all theological and philosophical language, transcending all of our precious dogmas and anathemas. For it is God himself, and both I and he want nothing more than to explode out of my soul and save the world.

But even after all of this has been said, in truth we are trying to pursue a holy silence. I cannot speak this silence to you, but I can direct you to it. And when you trust the promise, we will both be dwelling in that divine silence, where words become unnecessary and impossible, communion is complete, the bliss never ends, and the joy can never again be snatched from us. And so the bottom line is truly as simple as this, I love you, and on the basis of the resurrection, I promise to save you. Please, trust me!

Through, with and in the divine love of Christ,

Alex

(Go to The Second Epistle to Brother Reginald)

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The Riddle of the Universe

space-960x460[1].jpgI sublimate all that I hear, smell and feel.
Savour that taste which I see is not real,
Believe that by this, it all comes together
As Identity for now and forever.
The choices I make, the best I can be,
Both to myself and society,
Life, the universe and all are the same,
For I have met God, and absurd is his name.

And now my head is spinning round;
I fly up only to come plummeting down.
For the final Zenith of Absurdity
Is only a proud ode to Insanity.
As I fall under the gaze of eternity
I look back, and there’s nothing to see
Where is the truth? The Light? The life?
I’m cornered by sin, surrounded by strife

To dive down into deepest despair
Nothing makes sense, I’m gasping for air
Pulled down by my pride

A bible story
A man in the desert, Tempted by Satan
What does it mean?

Faith

Alex Herlihy – 2014

Windows

window-size[1].jpgIn the room of our mind there lives in each of us a third eye: The “Mind’s eye”. With this eye there are four windows through which we can gaze at reality: Knowledge, Belief, Understanding and Wisdom.

Pure knowledge is nothing. We can know nothing. It is demonstrated by its’ owner in sentences full of contradiction and confusion. It is held by an orphan whose only inheritance is a Latin Bible and the last words of their parent expressing the opinion that there is nothing more important in life than to follow those unreadable words.
The window of knowledge is covered in dirt and does not allow any light to pass through its’ glass. Our perception of reality is not widened by looking through it because it may as well be a wall.

The orphan can take the dying message to heart, in which case the knowledge has become belief. The orphan does not really comprehend it, but will invest all their trust in its’ truthfulness. Belief is everything, and it is often confused with knowledge. We can know nothing, but believe anything. Everything we think we know is only strong belief. Belief is the axiom. Knowledge is the theorem. Belief is the idea that we breath air, that the sky is blue, that the earth is round, that there is a God, that we have eleven fingers, that one and one make two, that blood is green, that all physical things consist of tiny little particles called atoms. Belief is everything.
The window of belief is only the window of knowledge, but washed and polished so that we can actually use it as a window. However the absence of the dirt reveals less of a view into reality, than it does the fact that the window was not very wide in the first place. You must press your cheek against the wall and put your mind’s eye to the window as you would when peeking through a keyhole. You must strain your mind’s eye to see anything through the window of belief.

The orphan could take the time to learn Latin, read the Bible, and ponder upon its’ meaning. In the process learning, organising thoughts, forming opinions, absorbing the thoughts and opinions of others. The knowledge has changed into understanding. Understanding is the sort of thing found in textbooks. It is the insight that allows you to learn a language, soak up a mathematical formula whilst seeing clearly how it works, what its’ purpose is. It is what comes from reading a book; picking up second hand thoughts and wrestling with them until they give up their meaning. When you have a body of beliefs built on other beliefs, with everything logically fitting together into one big picture, you have found understanding. It is a big window. It is the window that allows you to stand back and enjoy the view of reality with a relaxed eye, everything fitting together, seeming so beautiful, so amazing and incomprehensible, and yet able to be appreciated. It reveals reality as the most carefully constructed artwork. It is the big picture itself.

Wisdom however, cannot be inherited. It cannot be acquired from the outside world in the way that the other three can. The outside world may stimulate the discovery of wisdom by providing knowledge, understanding and belief, but in the end wisdom must come from within. It is pure thought leading to gems of insight that cannot be conveyed with words, only approximated; For to give word to wisdom is to transform it into knowledge, and this can never again become wisdom. Only two people who arrived at the same conclusion on their own can use words to communicate the wisdom they share while being confident that both understand exactly what it is that the other speaks of. It is thinking outside the box, it is realising that there is no box, it is questioning everything and anything until the questions become statements and those statements must themselves be questioned. It is where you can arrive at a deep understanding completely independently, only reading a book or seeking a respected opinion in order to confirm that wisdom which you already have. Wisdom is what forms your Identity. Certain kinds of wisdom are shared among many people, other kinds of wisdom are specific to individuals. Wisdom is the widest window through which we can see reality. It is a window so wide that you cannot see where the room of your mind ends and reality begins. It is so wide that you may doubt there is even a window at all, you can simply extend your hand, your whole body into the image before you and experience everything that reality has to offer. When gazing through the window of wisdom you no longer need to wrap your mind around reality: Reality wraps itself around you.

Alex Herlihy – 2010