Monday, February 23, 2009

Here are two threads on the recent SSPX news...

On the Recent Controversy of the Reinstatement of the SSPX's Bishops in General and of Bishop Richard Williamson in Particular (circa February 18, 2009)

On the Lifting of the Excommunications, Etc. (circa February 23, 2009)


Friday, September 21, 2007

Hard to believe...

I'm finding it hard to believe that it's been close to two years since this little project started! I would hate to see it go. I'm craving to contribute again to this little project; I decided to take a peek at the site again just for kicks and giggles and was saddened to see that early January was the last time I posted anything! I think that the Holy Father's Motu Proprio is the catalyst to get this thing going again.

The Holy Father's writings, before and after his election to the Papacy, are very timely. We live in a world that has lost an understanding of the basic premise of all conversation - religious, political or otherwise - the premise of Truth. Pope Benedict XVI understands the REAL problem that needs to be focused on, and I'd like to see this blog be dedicated once again to renewing the Catholic faith by expressing ideas that flow from the Holy Father's dedication to bring the world back to the basic question of truth. The world needs to come to grips with Pascal's Wager, the wager that asks the question, "what if?" Only then will any real change take place.

-Patrick Morris


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I like the change of title -how about we title it "Friends of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum"??? That way, this site will pull up when either the terms "motu proprio" or "Summorum Pontificum" are googled.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

The End of The Lidless Eye Inquisition, Etc.:

First announcement (circa July 6, 2007)

Final post (circa July 21, 2007)

Ultimately I hope what I noted in the final posting about Friends of La Nef will materialize:

For all of those who managed to glean something of value from this weblog, you made the efforts expended here worthwhile. In the meantime, the weblog Friends of La Nef which has similarly slowed down in production in the past year will hopefully pick up soon. I will try to resume contribution there occasionally as a role player. Admittedly for a group weblog I am involved in it is a somewhat odd situation for me to be in but one I do not mind at all. [Excerpt from The Lidless Eye Inquisition (circa July 21, 2007)]

Hopefully this weblog will pick up in activity soon.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Spiritual Lives of the Temperaments: The Melancholic

“Wake me when it’s over…”

Of all the posts I’ve done on the topic of the temperaments, this one is going to be the hardest for me. Why? Because it’s my primary temperament! The ironic thing is this: Though we should all be experts when it comes to our own temperament, the topic that most every human being is blind to is, without a doubt,… themselves. So, here goes nothing!...

The very word “melancholic” conjures up images of its evil twin “melancholy.” Introversion, moodiness, brooding, self-deprecation and an innate ability to “feel” with an almost unnatural depth and intensity are all unique traits of this temperament. I would venture to say that most of us who are blessed (that’s right, “blessed!”) with this temperament spend most of our day in our heads. We are aware of our surroundings, but only lightly so. We are often so immersed in our thoughts that we miss a great deal of what goes on around us. This ability to think deeply and intensely can be a great gift; it is an ability responsible for some of the most beautiful works of art, music and literature that have ever graced the world. But, as with all things, the enemy knows how to twist this ability and use it to destroy the individual and everyone around him.

What, then, does the melancholic need to watch out for in the spiritual life? In the last post on the phlegmatic, we saw that the phlegmatic temperament shared a unique trait with the sanguine – a lack of follow-through. This trait that is shared by both of these temperaments makes the cure of their ills relatively the same. The same can be said when one compares the melancholic with the choleric. He shares with the choleric that “sin of sins”, the sin that is responsible for all other sins… Pride.

At first glance, the idea that Pride is at the root of the introverted melancholic’s self-abasement can come as a shock. But, once one understands what drives the melancholic, it all makes perfect sense.

The Bennett’s explain the situation this way:

“Pride, in the melancholic, does not usually manifest itself as an attempt to gain recognition or honor, as it might in a choleric. The melancholic does not seek overt praise or commendation. However, the melancholic does fear failure! Thus, his pride shows up in his desire to be perfect and in his fear of disgrace (emphases mine).” [1]

The reality is, behind all the melancholic’s self-abasement, worrying, scrupulous confessions, severe penances, and “high-ideals” for himself and others there lies a fear of disgrace cloaked in false-humility; a desire to be more than what he really is but knows desperately and acutely that he is not.

The desire for perfection is not necessarily bad. It is the trinity of “the good, the true and the beautiful” that ultimately drives the melancholic. But the melancholic, more than any other temperament, has a longing for perfection that he and the world around him just don’t live up to. So the melancholic, if left to his own to his own devices, easily falls into a downward spiral of brooding and critiquing in an attempt to make himself and his world “perfect.”

The cure for the melancholic, then, is very similar to that of the choleric. The melancholic needs the direction of others. Due to his high-ideals, the melancholic’s perception of himself, others and the world around him is often distorted and unrealistic. He needs a good spiritual guide who will “hold the mirror” up to him and pull him back to reality.

Along with this guidance, the most important part of the melancholic’s spiritual life will involve cultivating optimism and supernatural joy. These two traits that are innate in the choleric and sanguine temperaments are sorely underdeveloped in those with melancholic temperaments. He needs to learn to “look at the bright side,” go easy on himself and his fellow man and put his focus on that which really is perfect: Christ. Since he is so hyper-aware of the flaws and potential disasters that life is wrought with, he needs more than any other temperament to cultivate a trust in God’s Providence and paternal care. He needs to take his thoughts away from his own sins and failures and the failures of others and replace these with thoughts of peace, kindness, generosity and the like. This supernatural joy is the only antidote to the melancholic’s anxieties about life. Frequent prayer, reception of the sacraments and meditation on the scriptures – especially the Psalms and other scriptures that emphasize God’s mercy – are essential. In this way the melancholic can experience in his daily life an adequate taste of what he craves the most in the midst of life’s bittersweet symphony… “Heaven.”


Throughout these posts there has been one underlying theme common to all of them: that of finding “rest in God.” Though each temperament has different approaches to getting there, the goal is always the same. The only true cure for man’s ills, regardless of temperament, is rest in God and His Will.

In upcoming posts, I’ll discuss in more depth some of the adverse effects caused by untrained temperaments as well as a more defined and specific “battle plan” as to how one can bring themselves into that union with God that is the ultimate goal of everyone. See you then!

God Bless,

[1] (Bennett, 237)


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Spiritual Lives of the Temperaments: The Phlegmatic

To be honest, I had a hard time getting started on this post, which means I'm most definitely phlegmatic! My melancholic half mulled over in my mind what I wanted to say in this post, and my trusty phlegmatic other half thought, "Eh… I'll write it later."

The phlegmatic temperament is difficult to write about because this temperament almost seems "non-human." The detached, mellow, almost "hyposensitive" nature of this temperament seems better suited to a robot than a human. In fact, at least one spiritual writer I know of even questions the existence of this temperament. [1] However, all of us know people who fit the description of this temperament very well, so I think it's legitimate to write about it.

I think it's good to follow up the post on the sanguine temperament with a post on the phlegmatic temperament because the "cure" for both of these temperaments is pretty much the same. I like to think of the phlegmatic as a "sanguine on Lortab." The phlegmatic is generally friendly, values people over principles, and struggles with the same lack of follow-through as the sanguine, but without the "intense" personality one sees in a sanguine.

The primary problem for the phlegmatic is one of motivation. While a sanguine will be easy to motivate and act but soon lose interest, the phlegmatic has a hard time moving beyond interest to actual action. Though he will be dedicated to any project, he needs a little prodding.

The most important thing a phlegmatic can acquire to get him on the path to heaven is a regimen, especially a regimen of prayer. Much like the sanguine, he needs a structure that will keep him on the straight-and-narrow so that he will not become complacent in the spiritual life. Unlike the sanguine, however, he will actually enjoy this kind of structure. Structured prayers such as the Rosary or the Divine Office are tailor-made for phlegmatics. The only danger in these types of prayers for the phlegmatic is that he may become so absorbed with the routine that he stops growing. He needs to employ the imagination in his prayer life to avoid this kind of pitfall. [2] He needs to seek what God is asking of him in his prayer and meditation, otherwise the prayers will just become rote and no change of heart will result.

Along with a regimen of prayer comes the necessary accountability that will ensure a successful outcome. The phlegmatic needs to be accountable to others to keep him going. He also needs the guidance of others to develop a properly formed conscience and understanding. Like the sanguine, his placement of people over principles in the hierarchy of truths can lead him to become a "crowd-pleaser." He needs accountability to a spiritual director, prayer group or any other system outside of himself that will help pull him more toward the center.

Also, though he naturally hates conflict, he needs to learn to "let his 'yes' mean 'yes', and his 'no' mean 'no.'" Otherwise he will end up doing things simply to please others or to "shut them up" which is a sure recipe for resentment. Being accountable to others in his life decisions will help make sure this doesn't happen.

The great natural virtue that accompanies this temperament is "meekness." Almost everyone loves a phlegmatic. Their peacefulness and even-keel makes them great team players. With a little discipline, those of the phlegmatic temperament can find themselves on the fast-track to sanctity with little of the "inner resistance" that impedes the other temperaments.

God Bless,

[1] Fr. Joseph Massman in his book "Nervousness, Temperament and the Soul" writes the following: "If a more exact determination of temperament is to be made, one has first to observe the basic disposition and then the individual variation and the excitability of his emotions. On careful examination of his basic disposition, the phlegmatic person will turn out to be shallow, cool and perhaps even hyposensitive. He will be distinguishable from the sanguine man only in coloration and in his excitability, and will thus represent no distinct temperament. I therefore regard the expression "phlegmatic, as denoting a temperament, as unnecessary" (emphases mine).

(Massman, 19)

First, Fr. Massman makes clear in his introduction to his book that he is not writing from a scientific perspective, so his opinion isn't set in stone per se. Second, I think the simple, time-tested observation of people has made clear that some people who fit the classical description of the phlegmatic temperament simply don't possess "sanguine" traits such as "flightiness" "superficiality" and "extroversion" which are typically and unmistakably sanguine. On the contrary, phlegmatics are often very deep, loyal and introverted. Therefore, I think Fr. Massman is wrong on this one, and that the classical understanding of four primary temperaments as presented by the Bennett's is the correct one.

[2] (Bennett, 246)


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Spiritual Lives of the Temperaments: The Sanguine

“Never a dull moment…”

“Moment” is an appropriate word when talking about the Sanguine, for this is the facet of life that the sanguine lives in! Of all the temperaments, the sanguine possesses a God-given ability to “stay in the moment.” The ability to stay in the moment keeps the sanguine focused on others and receptive and courageous in the face of challenges. These traits are indispensable.

“People” are probably the sanguine’s favorite subject. The sanguine LOVES people. Due to their extroverted, enthusiastic, cheerful and outward-focused nature, the sanguine is always the best MC. Unlike the choleric, they are very “team” oriented. It truly is a case of “the more… the merrier” when it comes to the sanguine.

It’s almost if the sanguine possesses the model Christian temperament. Their enthusiasm for others and their zest for love and life sound very close to what inflames the heart of every apostle we read about in the pages of Scripture. What then should the sanguine develop in order to bring themselves to Christian perfection?

It’s hard to talk about a “dark side” when speaking about the sanguine temperament, but with human nature being fallen as it is, the sanguine has difficulties that need to be overcome. There are three things that the sanguine needs to develop in their spiritual life to keep them from becoming “children of the world”: They are, control, consistency and perseverance.

The enthusiasm of the sanguine is infectious. This is a trait that easily wins souls for God. An energetic preacher always has an irresistible pull that can win over even the most hardened heart. The problem is that enthusiasm can trump proper reflection and the pursuit of truth. The sanguine needs to watch out for moments of unchecked enthusiasm that place more emphasis on the excitement of an activity or pursuit than on the “rightness” or “nobleness” of the activity or pursuit. Sanguines can become so enthusiastic about a project that they forget to take the time to think it through. One only has to think of the apostle Peter, most likely a sanguine, who became so excited at the sight of his Master walking on water that he immediately jumped off the boat to meet Him, only to quickly sink because of the ferocity of the waves around him! The sanguine, therefore, needs to learn emotional control. He needs to take time at the outset of any project or activity to think through what the project might entail. His first impulse is always going to be to jump in with both feet with no thought of how the project may impact others or himself.

Consistency and it’s companion, perseverance, also need to be practiced by the sanguine. Not long after the sanguine jumps into a project without thinking about it, he is soon distracted by the thousand other things he’d like to be doing. So, he abandons the project. This is especially dangerous in the spiritual life because moments of aridity in the faith-life of the sanguine can cause him to abandon his prayer life and commitments simply because he is not getting the same “high” that he originally had. The sanguine needs to realize that he has a tendency to be too attached to things simply because of their intensity. To combat this tendency, he needs to learn to persevere in his commitments and prayer life even when the “magic” isn’t being felt anymore.

The question is, of course, “how?” Big helps for the sanguine are activities that appeal to the senses and involve him with other people. For instance, if a sanguine is finding dryness in prayer to be a problem, he should make use of externals in his prayer, such as candles, the beauty of a chapel, or any other scene that adds a sense of beauty and aesthetic appeal to the moment. As far as his commitments are concerned, the sanguine needs to make himself accountable to others in his resolutions. This will compensate not only for a lack of follow-through, but will also ensure that the resolutions themselves are noble causes that the sanguine should pursue, rather than “whims” that are unworthy of the sanguines’ effort.

One last thought: The sanguine needs to learn to put his security in God alone, chiefly through prayer and the sacramental life. Sanguines (and as we shall see later, phlegmatics) have a tendency to be people-pleasers. Sanguines need to learn to overcome their tendency to follow the crowd. We all know how Peter, after his bold promise that he would die for Christ, denied Him when the pressure of the crowd crept in.

With a strong regimen of prayer and accountability the sanguine can learn to harness their energy and love for people towards winning souls for God. Their cheerfulness and zest for living is what the Church, in my humble opinion, desperately needs in an age of despair and dissatisfaction with life and a Church that at times fails to live up to what She proclaims and promises.

God Bless,