Category Archives: Mysticism

My Yoke Is Easy and My Burden Is Light

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

My stole resting on my home altar

Last night I entered the transitional diaconate, was elevated to deacon, and accepted my deacon stole.  I am a transitional deacon because I will be continuing toward ordination in the priesthood¹ rather than remaining a deacon permanently.

The word deacon derives from the Greek diákonos meaning “servant.”  When I look at some of the most famous deacons in history its clear I have big shoes to fill.  St. Francis of Assisi was a deacon, as was the first Christian martyr, St. Stephen.

But although I don’t feel worthy of this responsibility my heart is still full of joy and gladness because, it seems to me, this feeling of unworthiness only means that I am appropriately humble before Christ through whom all things are possible.

My sincerest thanks and blessings to Brother Leo for standing with me in the ceremony, to Bishop Katia, Bishop Timothy and Father Erik for the trust, education and direction, and to all of the other students in the seminary  — without your participation and energy there would be no seminary for us all to benefit from and enjoy.  And thanks also to my wife and family for your support and for the sacrifices you’ve made so that I can do this work.

But most of all, thanks to God.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:5


¹ My seminary is in the Old Catholic line in which priests are permitted to be married.

 

Firefly Style: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #157

“If you can’t run, you walk.  If you can’t walk, you crawl.  If you can’t crawl, you find someone to carry you.”

This week’s T.I. is about understanding the power of realizing you are not alone.

Yesterday, when I did this week’s T.I., I thought of the above quote from Firefly, one of my favorite TV shows.  This T.I. was so hard that the only way I could make it through was to think about the fact that if we were training together — me, you, and the rest of the Cabal Fang crew — none of us would ever let anybody quit.

So I imagined you were there with me, that you were there encouraging me, helping me, making suggestions on how to modify exercises,  and asking me to dig deep.

Your brothers and sisters in Cabal Fang are right there with you.  Now go get it done.

Firefly Style: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #157

  • Warm up for a full 8 minutes.
  • 3 sets of HSPUs to failure.  If you can’t do HSPUs, do Jackknife Push-ups.  If you can’t do them, do Regular Push-ups.
  • 3 sets of Squats. 2 x 5 + 1 set to failure.  Pick a weight that works for you (I used 110 lbs).
  • 10 x 10 yards of Heavy Bear Walks. Select two hex dumbbells.  Go way lighter than you think you need.  I used 10 pounders.  Bear Walk with dumbbells in hand for 10 yards.  Stop and do 10 Push-ups with a Plank Row between, alternating sides.  Repeat 10 more times for a total of 100 yards of Bear Walks, 100 Push-ups and 100 Rows.
  • Unless you are Captain America, you are going to fail at this.  When you do start failing, imagine me and all of the other people in Cabal Fang working right there with you.  If you gas on the Bear Walks, drop the dumbbells and go on without them.  If you gas on the Push-ups or Plank Rows, come up and do them on knees.  Switch to lighter dumbbells halfway through if necessary.  Make whatever changes you have to make and take as many 12-count breaks as you need.  The only rule is don’t give up.
  • Cool down for 3 minutes.
  • Stretch and practice contemplation.
  • Record what you learned in your training journal.

Pinking Shears and Fishers of Men

Pop passed away back in 2008 and Mom followed him in 2016.  But the home in which I was raised — the home my parents bought for nine thousand dollars in 1962, back when nine thousand dollars was a lot of money — is still in the family.

Although the house has been rented out for almost ten years now,  Mom and Pop have yet to be driven out.   They are in that house, in every crack, nook and cranny.  A house that old, inhabited for so long by a family, cannot be emptied of its essence in a mere decade.

Their belongings still come to the surface in that house, emerging like clay tablets from the sands of Mesopotamia.  Things are drawn out from the backs of closets.  They shake free, fall out, bubble up.  Slivers of paper, notes, ballpoint pens.  Old keys.

The other night I was over there getting ready for the next tenant and I found a tiny box in the attic.  It contained a letter and a Bible.  The letter is dated November 19, 1957 and was sent from my grandmother to my father to wish him a happy birthday while he was in basic training at Fort Gordon, GA.  The Bible is The Testament for Fishers of Men. and the inscription says it was given to him my Aunt Jane in 1954.

Tucked inside the Bible was a newspaper clipping my mother gave him.  How do I know Mom gave it to him?  Because it was cut out with pinking shears, and because it’s a love poem.  My mother was many things.  First, she was the woman who loved my father most.  Second, she was an accomplished seamstress who definitely owned a pair of pinking shears.  I know this because I still have her shears stowed away in an old sewing box.

Here’s the poem, a love message from Mom to Pop from long ago.

This Much I Promise

This much I promise you my sweet
By all the stars above
There is no other soul on earth
To whom I give my love
I cannot promise I will be
The picture of perfection
Or that you will not know a day
Of sorrow or dejection
I cannot sear that you will use
A gold or silver spoon
I cannot pledge a kingdom or
The surface of the moon
For I am only human as
A being God created
And I can only undertake
The things He contemplated
But I can promise  you this much
Whatever else I do
I love you, and as long as life
I will be true to you.

Real Deal Basics: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #156

This week’s T.I. marks the third anniversary of the weekly program — the sixth anniversary counting the original protocol.  Sometimes, when I go on vacation like last week, I re-post previous T.I.s. But mostly you get something fresh every week. 

Being fresh ain’t easy, because martial arts aren’t as much about exploring new territory as they are about knowing the road map of fighting like the back of your hand.  Self-defense requires fight-specific strength and complete, automatic command of the basics.

That’s why I often re-combine essential ingredients to give freshness to the essentials — kind of the way Taco Bell creates new products from the same basic meat, cheese, sauce and tortillas.  Those of you have been doing C.F.T.I.s for a few years will recognize some familiar ingredients in #156 for sure.

Real Deal Basics: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #156

  • Ideally you will have two heavy bags –one hanging/standing and  one for the floor.  Substitute a large gym bag full of gear for the floor bag or make one.
  • Warm up for a full eight minutes by doing multiple mini-sets at 50% effort.
  • Set timer for 5 x 3:00 (beginners 5 x 1:00, intermediate 5 x 2:00).  Rounds go as follows: HB Shrimps, HB Bridges and Reverses, Punches, Kicks, and Clinch Work.  Take as few 12-count breaks as needed to finish standing up.  See video below for details.
  • Perform the Salutations of Sun and Moon per the Cabal Fang Study Guide.  Our internal focus this month is The Luminaries and our external focus is Evasion.  More on evasion next week.

More Truth: Cabal Fang Training Involution #155

As you’re reading this my wife and I are on our annual wedding anniversary getaway.  So I’m going to re-post a slight reworking of T.I. #50 — of one of my favorites from 2 years back.  Let me know what you think in the comments.  Enjoy!

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A couple of years ago I posted a video analysis of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.  One of the things I mentioned was the nature and symbolism of Prince Philip’s Sword of Truth and Shield of Virtue.

During his fight with Maleficent in her dragon form, Prince Philip loses the Shield of Virtue because that’s what we all do.  We’re human.  We mess up, we make mistakes, we do things that we know are not in keeping with our own moral and ethical codes.  But as long as we hold tight to truth the way that Prince Philip does in the movie, we can slay any dragon and ultimately regain our virtue.  Because making a commitment to speak the truth is more than just a speech modifier.  If you do things you’re ashamed of you’ll have to lie about what you did.  So telling the truth is a behavior modifier too.

Truth may be the highest ideal known to man.  That’s why it figures so prominently in the initiations of Cabal Fang.  Individuals and cultures that do not revere truth may reap short-term rewards of one kind or another but eventually they will completely lose their virtue and have no way to regain it — and some dragon or other will eat them up in their bankruptcy.

Hold tight to truth my friends, and aim your compass toward it like it’s true north.  You’ll screw up because we all do.  But at least you’ll be able to get back on course!

More Truth: Cabal Fang Training INvolution #155

  • 10 minutes of slipping and bobbing.  Set a timer for 10 minutes and practice your slips and bobs, preferably with a slip ball.  Beginners use this intro video.  Advanced folks, run this slip ball impairment drill.
  • Heavy bag 4 x 2:oo/:30.  Go after a heavy bag with maximum ill intent, just make sure that between each combination you (a) complete at least 2 slips or bobs, and (b) you circle the bag rather than standing stock-still.  Hit while you move and move while you hit.
  • Meditation on Truth.  Look into your past starting with most recent history and find a time when you were less than truthful.  Now set a timer for 10 minutes and assume your chosen meditative posture.  Untangle that lie through meditation.  Use your imagination to step into the scene.  Relive the incident.  See if you can come to understand why you weren’t truthful, what you should have done, and what you think you might do the next time you’re in a similar situation.  Record your thoughts and realizations in your training journal.

Point Zero: The Navel of the Modern World Has Burned

la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

This week there was a fire at the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris.  I hope I speak for the entire world when I say that any damage to this treasure is a devastating  loss to all of human culture.

Notre-Dame means “Our Lady.”  It’s a Catholic cathedral dedicated to the Holy Virgin.  Before construction began in 1163 there had been at least four different churches on the site.  Before those four churches, there was a Gallo-Roman temple.  And before that, some believe, there was pagan goddess temple on the site.  There’s no proof of that.  But what we do know for sure that, for some time following the French Revolution, Notre-Dame was renamed the Temple of Reason and the Goddess of Liberty replaced the Holy Virgin on some of the altars.

Fifty meters in front of the cathedral you will find le Point Zero des Routes de France. When a French city’s distance from the capital is measured, it is from this point that the measurement is taken.  Notre-Dame is the center of Paris and, from the Middle Ages through the Enlightenment, Paris was the center of Western culture — the home of the greatest academics, the greatest universities, the greatest libraries, the greatest museums, the greatest fashion, the greatest food, and more.

With all this in mind, is it a coincidence that le Point Zero is an 8-pointed star — the Star of Isthar?  Is it a coincidence that this cathedral would be so central to Western culture, given that it is the Holy Virgin who gives birth to the babe who changes the world forever?  Is it a coincidence that the famed North Rose Window of Notre-Dame depicts the Holy Virgin and Christ child at the center —  surrounded by 88 circled images?  No, it is not a coincidence at all. 

Because Notre-Dame de Paris is the navel of the world.  Surely we must grieve for her, pray for her, support her,  and see her restored and preserved forever.

The Famed North Rose Window of Notre-Dame de Paris. At the center are Mary and the Christ child. Surrounding them are 88 circles. Image not in the public domain. Shared via Wikipedia.

Le Point Zéro des routes de France

Star of Ishtar

XVII The Star from the famed Tarot de Marseilles, one of the oldest fully preserved Tarot decks, and certainly the one most often copied. Note that there are eight, eight-pointed stars and that 17 reduces to 8 (1+7=8)

Pay Attention: Training Involution #152

Why do you suppose it is that almost every religious symbol since the Egyptians screams out, “Pay attention!”?  A Celtic cross is basically a set of cross-hairs.  The Dharma wheel is a perfect target.  And the symbol of the Jains is literally a big hand saying, “Stop! Look at this target thingy right here.”

When you are giving something your full attention, time stands still.  When you are playing the guitar, making love, or getting hit in the face in a sparring match, you are essentially in touch with the eternal — from the Latin aeternus , meaning atemporal.  In other words, outside the bonds of time.

Get this through your head right now.

  • Paying attention is the secret sauce that makes your martial arts burger tasty and delicious.
  • Paying attention is the splashy color that makes your oil painting fry people’s brains out when they look at it.
  • Paying attention is the magic mojo that makes your lover want to hold your hand until the sun becomes a black hole.
  • Not paying attention is what makes you step on snakes and tumble down slippery slopes and fall on punji stakes and suffer a short and miserable life.

Pay Attention: Training Involution #152

This week do whatever you want — as long as you do it with your whole heart, your whole mind, and your whole attention

It doesn’t matter what you do as much as how you do it. 

This is why we journal in Cabal Fang — to focus and refocus our attention — and this is why journaling makes you powerful.  Do something with full attention and write it down.

That is all.