Friday, 24 July 2020
Friday, 10 July 2020
I am uploading this Blog in Audio/Visual to this Youtube channel soon-
There will be other content available on YouTube later which will not be available here.
I am linking a few seemingly unrelated things this week.
In my last Post I explained that I would be doing a number of Blog posts around Narcissism, and how we use the myth of Echo and Narcissus allegorically to describe human behaviour.
I read a great book by Jon Ronson in 2013 called “The Psychopath Test” I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it-
This was one of the instigators for me becoming interested in this kind of forensic psychology, whereas I was otherwise reading more about therapies and theories which were for helping with depression and more ordinary mental health problems.
By February 2014 I was in Melbourne, Australia, and wasn’t able to leave the accommodation where I was staying for health reasons. So I had a lot of time to read and write, but could only read via the internet.
I had realised God exists about a month earlier and was reading the Bible online, Psychological journal articles, free books and websites; usually written by psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.
I was also developing a more intense interest in reading about the seven deadly sins, and read things like extracts from Dante’s Divine Comedy for the first time. This in turn often led to blogs and Christian websites, though I don’t remember taking what the Christians had to say too seriously.
Less often I ended up on Blogs and similar sites written by mentally ill people and victims of abuse. These in turn led to poems by victims, which I found often spoke about Narcissism, because lots of abuse victims describe their abusers as Narcissists.
Although it was during this period that I became interested in Narcissism I was also reading around other areas of Psychology. I was interested in the genesis of mental health problems and so also often ended up reading about child development.
I filled notebooks with poetry at this time! I can remember much of what I read because of how it inspired my thought processes and ended up in these poems, most of which I still have.
Recently, during protests by people passionate for justice, statues of certain figures have been defaced and destroyed; usually because the protesters feel that the person represented is not worthy of being honoured.
I am not commenting on these events from any kind of moralistic or political perspective, but it reminded me of a poem I wrote in February 2014.
The poem is about idealising people. It sprang from my analysis of my relationship and attitude to my own Father, from my personal introspection I interpreted a general theory and extrapolated, applying it to other people and situations.
As is usually the case with me, there is a manifold amalgamation of inspiration to each poem. In this one I could cite the TV show 'Frasier', the Studio Ghible film 'Spirited Away', the journal articles and websites I was reading about child development, crumbling statues, and then personal reflections from my own life and the subsequent extrapolations.
As I wrote it, I imagined looking up at an extreme angle to a crumbling statue which is outside, it is looking a little worse for wear. So, it was difficult for me not to make the link with current events of querying the worthiness of figures from the past who were once honoured and are now being denigrated.
My Lord in Plaster
Like idols, vain and built long ago,
Had I an idol of my own?
Soon I would see they don’t match up.
My face would betray me!
There is worthiness in stature.
My growing pains
Spirited away, weathered,
And such as life provides.
All the illusions of fate flatten.
A chip in the nose,
A shit on the shoulder,
Suddenly my flesh is less fragile.
You could crush me
But you too were a man.
The poem is not entirely about one relationship or person. My interpretation of human behaviour and the conclusion that it is common for people to idealise a person, especially a parent figure, and then to denigrate them when their flaws become apparent, before accepting them as they are in their humanity is not my own idea but it was the first time I thought to apply it to myself. My subsequent introspection and imagined visualisation inspired the poem.
May more delicate readers please accept my apologies for the bad swears, this was written in the pre-Christian Ciara, whose own family dubbed her a "hamster-handed fishwife". It would hurt the poem if I changed it, and I don’t feel the need to.
So how does the poem relate to Narcissism? It doesn’t directly, I wrote the poem around the time I started reading about Narcissism.
Though I will explain more clearly in the Youtube Video how I think this idealising/denigration theory and Narcissism are linked and it will become more clear when I explain my interpretation of Narcissism.
It is too much to go into now- but my first clue is that in the myth, poor, vain Narcissus is captivated by his own reflection in the water!
May God bless us and help us to be kind and merciful. Especially when we see the things in ourselves and others which make us less qualified for a place on a plinth.
Friday, 26 June 2020
I like to use the story in relation to vanity and identity too. The way I use this allegory, and probably many others do, fits into and builds on the truths of the Christian faith so does not deny the truth.
I think people who do not believe in God can never have a realistic understanding of evil, and that is in part what leads to a lot of disorder in the world.
My own understanding of Narcissism from a psychological perspective is not the same as that which I have come across personally when reading about psychology.
Wednesday, 10 June 2020
Of all the Catholic posts I’ve posted, this is surely the most Catholic.
I am writing this late and fairly quickly again, so I hope I am succinct and clear.
I’m touching on some important aspects of my spiritual life which I could go on about so… I am mortifying my desire to go on too much to share some things which give a lot of value to my life of faith.
(Catholic virtue level one attained through mortification)
Today many start a Novena prayer to the Sacred heart of Jesus, I will be starting mine tomorrow.
A Novena is a prayer or set of prayers, traditionally prayed over nine days though length of time can vary; prayers used for Novenas can be said any time, once, or every day, I do several perpetual Novenas.
Often Novenas are prayed to Saints in preparation for their feast day. At the moment, for example, I am praying an extra Novena prayer each evening to St. Anthony of Padua in preparation for his feast this Saturday.
Read about my lovely friend and constant companion, St. Anthony here-
People who pray Novenas usually begin nine days before the feast and end on the vigil (night before) the feast, but I did not know that when I started praying them so I time mine to end on the feast day itself rather than the vigil.
(Catholic virtue level two attained through recitation of Novena prayers)
The most common “Sacred Heart Novena” prayer which was famously prayed by St. Padre Pio and many will have started today I pray each morning.
We are praying a Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ in preparation for the feast of the Sacred heart of Jesus which this year will be on Friday 19th June.
The words are available via this link-
As I already pray this prayer for the same intention each morning, I will be using a different prayer for the next nine days because I want to specially honour the heart of Jesus and be mindful of the approaching feast.
Before I pray Padre Pio’s perpetual Novena to the Sacred heart in my morning prayer routine, I consecrate myself to the hearts of Jesus and Mary every morning. This consecration is my first mindful renewal of my vocation as a follower of Jesus Christ and a reminder of who I rely on for faithfulness to that calling.
(Catholic virtue level three attained through consecration to the hearts of Jesus and Mary)
It’s all weird Catholic stuff if you don’t do it, even if you’re a Christian. Even if you’re a Catholic.
Yet this is a meaningful part of my faith, because my experience has shown these practices and devotion has real power to change a person’s spiritual life and relationship with God.
My devotion to the Sacred heart was something which God started certainly when I visited St. Mary MacKillop in North Sydney in 2017.
The only Australian Saint, and she is another good friend of mine. The first Saint I deliberately went on pilgrimage to see… on the metro, between sushi and coffee. But a pilgrimage, nonetheless.
In a booklet I bought in the gift shop I read these words:
“Jesus love makes suffering sweet;
Jesus love makes the world a desert.
When storms rage,
When persecutions or dangers threaten,
I quietly creep into the deep abyss of the Sacred Heart and, securely sheltered there, my soul is in peace, though my body is tossed upon the stormy waves of a cold and selfish world.”
I was shocked to hear that the Saint crept into the heart of Jesus, as though it is an actual place.
This ignited a desire in me to understand something I had no experience of. Her words had the ring of truth, even though I couldn’t quite grasp them.
Soon after I started praying a Sacred heart consecration prayer each morning which was printed on a bookmark I bought from the St. Mary MacKillop gift shop.
I didn’t deliberately choose this consecration and hadn’t thought about what the word consecration meant, or the implication. I just liked the prayer, picture and quote on the bookmark and was captivated by the idea that the heart of Jesus is a haven.
By September 2017 I decided I wanted to consecrate myself to the Immaculate heart of Mary, whose feast falls the day after the Sacred Heart.
A friend gave me St. Louis De Montfort’s “True Devotion to Mary” and told me about what the consecration is. I was also reading about Fatima because it was the year of the Centenary so did the “first five Saturdays” in preparation, finishing with particular prayers and completing the consecration to Mary in May 2018.
The book info-
The “first five Saturdays” info-
So, I fell into my consecration to the Sacred Heart and then probably over-prepared for my consecration to the Immaculate heart of Mary.
These consecrations are linked and are in a sense the same intention of my heart, to give myself completely to God and live in His divine will. I have come to know and love what these devotions mean in a deeper way through prayer, contemplation and art.
The art of the Sacred heart of Jesus can look quite sentimental and dated but it stirs something in me now which I find irresistible. I am drawn to the pictures and statues of the heart of Jesus and feel connected to God through these works of art.
I am looking forward to the double feast and I am happy to celebrate the fact that Jesus has let me into his heart as I try in my small way to honour our loving God.
It is a mysterious thing but I feel that the heart of Jesus is my home.
In the world I am still a bit of a restless, lost person but it doesn’t matter and it won’t ever matter if that never changes. There is a peace I have and a sense of belonging I experience just by looking at Jesus and his exposed, bleeding, burning heart.
I like the description of Purgatory, where people are purified in preparation for Heaven after death, as immortal souls being burned up in the heart of Jesus. His heart is on fire; burning away all the evil, so that in the embers the glowing, glorified body and soul of the believer is ready to shake off the dirt of the world and enter the divine life for good.
This journey into the divine can start to happen now. If we seek to make the heart of Jesus our haven, or safe place, then we are already having the dross of sin purified from our souls in preparation for Heaven.
(Catholic virtue level *incalculable* attained through consecration to the hearts of Jesus and Mary)
Here is some more information about devotion to the heart of Jesus, followed by yet another Catholic prayer treasure, the Litany to the Sacred heart.
Hoping you find your true home in Heaven through the pierced heart of Our Blessed Lord.