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Lord of the World and God’s Absence
Author: Nathaniel Slattery
Posted: Month of Mary, 1st Day, Year of Our Lord 2023
Lord of the World original book cover

This morning it is my son’s first birthday, and I have enjoyed the presence of my Lord in prayer without much clarity as how to spend the day for the meritting of Heaven, which is not uncommon. In such days, I offer the whole thing to Him in a way that on other days would be slothful, but which I think is only appropriate, when there is no clear meditation or instruction to go off of.

I shortly later found myself with a spare fifteen minutes of recreation, which I used to read a bit of Robert Hugh Benson’s Lord of the World. I cannot say yet that I recommend it, but certainly many others whom I respect and admire recommend it, and I have this to say about it right now: He is a wonderful writer of the world’s spiritual life. See this:

“He began, as his custom was in mental prayer, by a deliberate act of self-exclusion from the world of sense. Under the image of sinking beneath a surface, he forced himself downwards and inwards till the peal of the organ, the shuffle of footsteps, the rigidity of the chair-back beneath his wrists— all seemed apart and external.”

This is a long excerpt. Here after a great description of interior prayer, it concludes with this revelation:

“He saw the Body Mystical in its agony, strained over the world as on a cross, silent with pain; he saw this and that nerve wrenched and twisted, till pain presented it to himself as under the guise of flashes of colour; he saw the life-blood drop by drop run down from His head and hands and feet. The world was gathered mocking and good-humoured beneath. ‘He saved others: Himself He cannot save…. Let Christ come down from the Cross and we will believe.’ Far away behind bushes and in holes of the ground the friends of Jesus peeped and sobbed; Mary herself was silent, pierced by seven swords; the disciple whom He loved had no words of comfort.

“He saw, too, how no word would be spoken from heaven; the angels themselves were bidden to put sword into sheath, and wait on the eternal patience of God, for the agony was hardly yet begun, there were a thousand horrors yet before the end could come, that final sum of crucifixion…. He must wait and watch, content to stand there and do nothing; and the Resurrection must seem to him no more than a dreamed-of hope. There was the Sabbath yet to come, while the Body Mystical must lie in its sepulchre cut off from light, and even the dignity of the Cross must be withdrawn and the knowledge that Jesus lived. That inner world, to which by long effort he had learned the way, was all alight with agony; it was bitter as brine, it was of that pale luminosity that is the utmost product of pain, it hummed in his ears with a note that rose to a scream… it pressed upon him, penetrated him, stretched him as on a rack…. And with that his will grew sick and nerveless.

“‘Lord! I cannot bear it!’ he moaned….”

Now this brief summary I read today of the same thing:

“It seemed to Percy Franklin as he drew near Rome, sliding five hundred feet high through the summer dawn, that he was approaching the very gates of heaven, or, still better, he was as a child coming home. For what he had left behind him ten hours before in London was not a bad specimen, he thought, of the superior mansions of Hell. It was a world whence God seemed to have withdrawn Himself, leaving it indeed in a state of profound complacency- a state without hope or faith, but a condition in which, although life continued, there was absent the one essential to well-being.”

I could talk about a lot of things related to these passages. I considered, for instance, talking about writing and the nature of describing the interior life, the development thereof, the growth of sanctity within a person’s inner faculties, and the use of novels for portraying this to the English-speaking world most especially. I’ve talked about that before, I believe, in my article on publishing. There is also the art of it, and the actual art of prayer and meditation, which would have been another worthwhile topic.

But I think rather the content is more worthwhile. Because here is the state in which the world plods along. Easter I expected to bring a great calamity of some sort, the beginning of physical chastisements from the throne of Heaven, but it did not. Surely they will come, but as of yet, the world plods along like a melancholic man down the streets of a degenerate city destined for the flames. And this fact brings into more striking illustration how vain the whole world is. For, as God seems to have withdrawn Himself, men and women profoundly meditate vacation, rest, entertainments, and the most foolish things incomprehensible to the mind of man at any other time, and all this while their children are predated upon.

I could ponder that a while, but the nature of evil is a subject of depth and facet that brings many snares. Rather, I choose to ponder God’s Will. For He turns His Face, as it says in Scripture, but as scholastic philosophy explains, He really is always equally present in the world. Why, then, does He allow this to continue? I can only imagine it is because of a desire for the conversion of our neighbors, for the perfection of the saints, and this He has allowed to be meritted by our prayers and penances this Lent.

The perfection of the saints being the whole purpose for every event under the sun, and us being hopeful that we will be counted among them, I decide then to dedicate myself to the sort of life which I described in a previous article on Holy Labor. And this I recommend for everyone. Our Lady says there will be a long, cruel martyrdom for those of us who live in these times. Perhaps that martyrdom is the death of every facet of our own will, because God has allowed the world no great graces, no clear miracles, no public saints, meanwhile all three of those words are thrown around as if they occured most commonly, such as I saw a reverend priest say about Paul VI in another article on this site, where it is painful how clearly skewed everything is, and how free men are to mock the saints by comparing a coward to them. Lord forgive me for my passions and perfect me.

Judgment comes. That it hasn’t come yet is a grace, I am sure. Let us use our time wisely, in penance, for our sins, and the sins of the whole world.

St. Robert, Hugh, Peter the Martyr, pray for us,
May the Lord reward you,

I will say this after reading through some of the above, by my conscience, that it is obviously not the end times. I think a great many good, traditional Catholics are being led into error by thinking so. They believe a foolish thing. The reason they believe it, is because the end times dynamics that most everyone is aware of are repeated throughout history in many events, as can be seen easily by Antiochus’s reign which the Protestants hearken to often, and the reign of Nero, and other times. But it is incomplete. This is only similar to that, but there is the Triumph to come first, and I sincerely doubt, me and my most beloved clergy, that it is only of twenty-five years duration. Our Lady will receive more than that, and the world must fulfill its purpose of glorifying God, and there are many souls in Purgatory who must be meritted out of it.

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