Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Taking Every Thought Captive to Christ

Seige engine to knock down the walls of an enemy city and
send soldiers over the top.
In the Second Epistle from the Holy Apostle Paul to the Corinthians, chapter 10, verses 3-5, St. Paul drops one of those lovely rhetorical pearls that sound best (and are more easily memorized) in the older translations. 

Here is the quote, from the D-R version:

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty to God unto the pulling down of fortifications, destroying counsels. and every height that exhalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every understanding into the obedience of Christ."

What a beautiful and edifying (an old word that is a favorite of the Bear, meaning "to build up") passage! The context makes it clear that St. Paul is speaking of argument. His point is that he does not employ clever rhetoric as speakers were taught in those days. This is only one place where Paul talks about his plain style of speaking that relies on God for its effectiveness.

To Paul, preaching the Gospel was not about making an impressive argument that would emotionally move or even logically convince his hearers. While his letters are capable of both to this day, Paul wanted to convey something of the power of God Himself in person, even if he was not a first-class orator. But it also speaks to the Bear in another way.

Do You Rule Your Thoughts, or Do Your Thoughts Rule You?

"Bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ."

That is our choice. Indeed, it is our duty.

Often we seem to let our thoughts take us into captivity. If you have ever been on a horse that has taken the bit in its teeth and gone galloping across the countryside, you know what the Bear means on the reversal of the natural order. There is quite a difference from being a rider and a passenger! The rider should control the horse, not the other way round. (Bear advises always to ride horses very slowly so as not to, um, fall off or something.)

It can be a challenge to bring our thoughts into captivity to ourselves, let alone Christ. We often automatically react, allowing our emotions, or our prejudices, or our self-interest, or even just our habits to take the bit in its teeth. We can allow thoughts harmful to ourselves mentally, spiritually, and even physically to have their way with us.

Some of our thoughts may not even originate with us.

Jesuits are Always Great to Serve as Bad Examples

The Jesuit Superior General was recently quoted as saying Satan is only a "symbol."  (The link is to Lifesite News and includes a useful summary of recent heretical statements from high-ranking Church figures that deny the devil, or the existence or eternity of Hell.)

The reason the Bear brings this up in this context is that jackasses in the Church who run around saying things like this run the risk of one day discovering in a very special way that they were wrong. Perhaps Satan cocoons his own from the torments of his minions in this life so they will spread his propaganda. Meanwhile, some of us living real Catholic lives have our reasons to believe Satan is real and unimaginably interested in each of us.

Shall we take "there is no such thing as Satan; he is just a symbol" into captivity and force that statement on its knees before Christ? Because Christ might remind us of the numerous instances recorded in Holy Scripture in which he cast out demons. Of course, the same Jesuit jollywompus who denied the existence of Satan dismissed the Gospel. We have no idea of what Jesus said because there were no tape recorders in those days.

Would some kind reader with more charity than the Bear say a prayer for the soul of Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal and for the spiritual protection of all upon whom he inflicts his heresy?

Perhaps that prayer might be expanded to all Jesuits.

Your Choice - and it Makes a Difference

It is hard to even imagine running everything we think past Jesus. It would indeed be like capturing unruly prisoners and dragging them kicking and screaming before a judge. It is a powerful image and another example of sound psychology from the Bible.

For example, we may choose to meditate upon Pope Francis or Jesus Christ. Now sometimes we may have a duty to think hard about unpleasant things, especially when problems are unexpectedly thrust upon us and the settled order we once counted upon seems to be shaken. As much as we would like to always be positive, it is a fallen world, and, sadly, there is no part of it that is not fallen.

Whatever we think, our thoughts should be bound and dragged before Christ. And along the way, we might ask ourselves what benefits we are deriving for ourselves and providing others by those thoughts. What will the Judge's ruling be? Will he be pleased, our will he gently suggest all of our effort might be better spent this time on something true, something beautiful?

Something edifying.


  1. It was once said that Plato had read Moses and this is why so much of his philosophy was congruent with the metaphysics in scripture. The scriptures, Old and New, speak of the disorder in creation with the solution being to conform oneself, at first to the Law as an external conformation, and then, and finally to Christ, who as the internal conformation. Even when we use the word, conformation we speak of being "formed with" or "formed to" and IDEAL, scriptural being in accord with the spirit that animates the Law, and in Christ our very selves, and Platonically becoming more congruent to the FORMS/TYPES/IDEALS which are both what things are and their ends.

    Much today is spoken of "accompaniment". It is a buzzword, a fad, and anyone familiar with scripture instantly will see that that is not the program of human development that is laid out in the scriptures. This is why those that are with the "accompaniment" program will only see scripture as a temporary thing of the past...the certain way of speaking and "accompanying" our forefathers in faith that no longer applies today because we have moved beyond that mumbo jumbo. That is the nature of "accompanying" -- it doesn't allow metaphysics and epistemology to say anything concrete about reality but rather that only our understanding of those things are "evolving".

    The first thing that the need to conform ourselves, our persons, lives, actions, thoughts, and daydreams to Christ says is that the problem with the world lies within us. We ourselves are apart of the problem. That is hard for most people to take. It is an easier thing to say that what is wrong is my neighbor and only if he was where I am, then the world would be ok. Thus the goal of accompanying and dialoging until one gets one's neighbor to where one is.

    But if the goal is conformation to Christ, becoming in a real sense not just an icon of God the Trinity - which we are by the nature of our creation --, but an icon of Christ, which has been gained for us by the Cross through which we first enter into in the waters of baptism, then things become messy in an uncomfortable way.

    The Catholic seeks to turn inward, to conform not just his outer actions but his internal faculties and very nature to Christ. Before we accuse our neighbor we must accuse ourselves before the throne of God. This makes people uncomfortable, especially those who are not of Christ and are bound to the ways of the World.

  2. "Perhaps Satan cocoons his own from the torments of his minions in this life so they will spread his propaganda."

    I think you just summed up in one sentence the answer to the eternal question: Why do people who continuously give into evil, seem so successful and happy in this life?

    Good reflections on St. Paul's words, Bear. St. Thomas Aquinas stated that everything we do in life should be ordered to our final causality: Heaven. In that way, we would not fear taking our thoughts before Christ. It's no coincidence I think, that as the direction the Church is going at present, so is the world.

  3. Most important and edifying thing I've read today. Thank you.

  4. Thanks for the comments. I don't think people realize how gratify it is to write something that moves people to bother to comment. Sometimes, guests add value to the ephemeris with their own comments, often more learned than anything a Bear could come up with. Bears are simple and true. The woodlands are a place where Truth reigns, and wise and brave woodland creatures are not to confront it no matter how unsettling, or how much they are condemned for not playing some silly game where we pretend lies are truth and imagine that could possibly please God, no matter what the pious motives.

    There are things that happen in the world on which everyone is pretty much required to have an opinion. Those of extremely low intelligence will be forgiven for giving the man in the Vatican a pass no matter how destructive and full of lies he is. "Mama said never criticize the Pope." Fine. But if you're awake and have a brain between your ears you had better have the guts to acknowledge the truth, or at least not to try to make your betters shut up when they are sounding the alarm for good reason.

    The Pope is a near occasion of sin to the Bear. All the answers have been wrung out of him these past few years. How many times do we poke the rattlesnake before we learn that it is dangerous and unprofitable? If we don't know a rattlesnake after poking it 500 times, we should best just be kept in a room tuned to EWTN and pretend everything's fine.

    1. "...or at least not make your betters shut up..."?


  5. The Bear does not make typos. He sometimes lapses into Bearbonics.


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