Two Small Spiritual Books

A couple of days from the Feast of Divine Mercy appears apropos for writing a couple of reviews on spiritual books, which I distinguish from theological works by their focus on devotion rather than discerning doctrinal truths.  Don’t forget to obtain a plenary indulgence this Sunday!  (It’s not often that I get a chance to link back to the third post I ever wrote.)  After all, the more mercy we receive from God the more our confidence in God and generosity to others grows.  The less mercy we obtain, the less time we spend in prayer and the fewer our occasions of receiving the sacraments–especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the less confidence we place in God.  I have come across a few people who claim that they cannot enter a Church lest it burn down!  I know that they jested, but it does reveal a lack of confidence if nothing else!  Instead of being struck dumbfounded on these occasions, would that I had told them that their sins were the only things which would burn up upon entering a Church!

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But, the spirit of confidence in God’s mercy imbues both St. Alphonsus de Liguori’s How to Converse with God and St. Francis de Sales’ The Art of Loving God.  De Sales wrote during the Counter-Reformation, while de Liguori wrote during the 18th century; but, de Liguori’s works have the savor of the Counter-Reformation, especially Prayer: the Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection.  Unlike the aforementioned book and St. Francis’ masterpiece, A Treatise on the Love of God, the two books in question are both very short.  De Liguori’s book is the size of a Lenten devotional one might pick up from church.  De Sales’ The Art of Loving God fits easily into a jacket pocket.

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Medieval Otaku’s Third Anniversary

On this Easter, both this site and myself age one year.  This is the only time I can recollect my birthday has falling on Easter.  Does this coincidence mean that Medieval Otaku will gain a fresh breath of life?  That I shall set a new and vigorous posting schedule for my third year as a blogger?  No, I’ll probably continue writing on random themes which usually touch upon the Middle Ages, Catholicism, or anime as my dear readers are accustomed.  Thank you to all my dear readers who have enjoyed reading these posts over the past year.  As I always say, you need to struggle through many mediocre posts before finding the few gems which fall Deo iuvante.  Let me give you the low down on the posts you shall be seeing on here in the near future.

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Natalis Sancti Leonis Magni

I must confess to being remiss today, my dear readers.  November 10th happens to be the feastday of my confirmation patron, St. Leo the Great.  St. Leo is most famous for his denunciation of the Arian heresy, which was sprouting its head during his papacy.  He sent a famous Tome to Council of Chalcedon, which declared that Our Lord Jesus Christ was fully human and fully God with neither nature overriding the other.  When the Patriarch of Constantinople heard this famous Tome read at the Council, he is said to have exclaimed, “Peter has spoken through Leo!”  And the council was a victory for orthodox Christian doctrine.

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I really ought to have gone to Mass today.  But, I hope to make amends for my slip in devotion to a good friend and patron by recommending these two articles to you: My Patron’s Feastday and St. Leo the Great’s Sermons.  Through the intercession of St. Leo, may God lead us to a more perfect understanding of theology and repentance.

Inuyasha and Beating the Devil

Inuyasha stood as my third favorite anime, but finishing Inuyasha: The Final Act gives me no choice but to bump it back into second place ahead of Code Geass.  Yes, the final installment of the series was enough to cover for any faults in the first several seasons.  The whole series focuses on the battle between good and evil.  Such shows and books are a dime a dozen, but Inuyasha parallels reality closely enough to catapult it to greatness.  In particular, Naraku very nearly captures the attitudes and wiles of the devil, and Inuyasha and his friends show how to beat the devil.

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#1 Good always wins.

This is the first and most important rule.  One must always act with this truth in mind lest one be taken down by despair.  Even if we are plagued with defeats, we must remember that an All-Powerful and All-Merciful God desires to hand us the victory which He won for us, and so we have great reason to hope, do penance, and continue doing good.  Naraku in particular tries to fill Inuyasha and his friends with despair.

The only thing to do is to keep fighting without believing the evil one’s lies.  As St. Anthony of the Desert (from whom I draw many of these maxims) said, Christ has defeated Satan so that the devils are powerless–they can only threaten.  They are no more than playthings for us Christians no matter how frightful they appear.  Christ always is ready to give us the power for victory, unless too much pride prevents his grace from being efficacious in us.  But these very falls provide reason for humility and allow for us to be victorious through God’s grace later.

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#2 Evil is best fought by the greathearted virtues of faith, hope, charity, and courage.

We see this especially in scenes like Sesshoumaru unhesitatingly entering the insides of Naraku, who has become a giant spider, in order to save Rin or Inuyasha jumping into the underworld to save Kagome.  Also, the utter reliance Kagome places in Inuyasha offers us a great symbol of faith: she does not fear falling into dark abysses, knowing that Inuyasha will save her.  We Christians should also not fear the darkness, knowing that we not only have a powerful savior, but an omnipotent and omnibenevolent Savior.

Evil cannot be conquered by excessive anxiety or worrying.  This is the fault of scrupulous people.  (Yours truly is guilty as charged.)  If we have excessive worry in our hearts, the devil will play upon these fears until we cannot perceive real goods or begin to fall into more vices.  Yet, if our hearts are filled with faith, hope, charity, and courage, all hell breaking into pandemonium cannot scare us.  Hence, it is important to fight evil with the greathearted virtues.

St. Anthony the Abbot doesn't look scared at all, does he?

St. Anthony the Abbot doesn’t look scared at all, does he?

#3 Remember Mercy and show mercy.

We are all weak and fall often.  Therefore, it is important to show mercy to one another, and to hope for mercy–even though all mercy is unmerited.

This is exemplified by things like Kagome forgiving Inuyasha for wounding her–the lover forgives her beloved.  In a similar way, the Church is the Beloved of God, who is more infinitely merciful than any human lover; and so, we have full reason to hope in receiving God’s mercy.  Then, we also have Sesshoumaru’s forgiveness of Sango for attempting to cut down Naraku by cutting through Rin in order to save Miroku.  Fortunately, Rin is not cut down, and Sesshoumaru completely overlooked Sango’s sin, for which she confesses to deserve punishment.  Though there is no forgiveness scene, the fact that Sango has three children at the end proves that forgiveness must at least have been tacitly given.

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#4 Even though we fall, don’t surrender.

Consider the mistakes Inuyasha and the gang made above.  They do not excessively grieve over their faults as to stop trying.  Rather, they continue to fight and refuse to give in to despair.  Miroku and Sango are particularly anguished by the prospect of the wind tunnel devouring Miroku; but, refuse to give in to despair, even though they come very close.

We are only human beings, not angels after all.

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#5 The devil lies and ought not to be heeded, even when he speaks the truth.

The devil is “the father of lies.”  Therefore, he ought never to be heeded.  Even when he speaks the truth, it is so that he can twist it to his own deadly purposes later.  Thus, Jesus Christ even silences the devil when he truly calls Jesus the Holy One of God.

In the same way, Naraku constantly lies or uses the peril of the situations to induce despair.  Sesshoumaru is perhaps the best at picking up on Naraku’s lies, especially where he quietly ignores all the illusions Naraku places before him of Rin.  (Indeed, silence and a calm mind are two great weapons in the fight against evil.)  And Inuyasha has this great line: “I’m sick of listening to you!”  In the same way, we should ignore the evil one and live our daily lines focused on doing good and our duty.

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#6 Though victory is assured, the struggle will take a very, very long time.

Inuyasha ran for a good 56 volumes, 193 episodes, and four movies in toto.  The struggle against evil in our lives and against our own vices will continue until death.  But, we must imitate Inuyasha and his friends in fighting this battle with perseverance and magnanimity until all our vices are pulled up by the roots.  Our Savior wishes this very thing.

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#7 Evil is small-hearted, mean, essentially nothing, and for nothing.

Kagome beautifully brings this out in a speech toward the end of the final battle.  Naraku lives merely to destroy.  He destroys relationships, friendships, families, and lives; but, for what?  No benefit ever accrues to him except that hollowest of pleasures: the delight in seeing another’s pain.  In the same way, the devil is the hater of all good and so truly deserves to be despised.

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However, Kagome’s speech brings out a very sad point: Naraku, while still a man, desired to be loved by Kikyo, but he gave in to despair and envy, which allowed him to be possessed by demons.  There are even hints in the show that a part of him wants to be good and to love others.  Rather than follow these good impulses, he actively strives to eliminate them.  These choices resulted in him becoming the evil creature that he is.

Hence, though we can gaily trample upon the devil and his designs, we should pity and pray for our fellow men who have fallen so low.  Remembering that if not for the grace of God, we ourselves would be in the same sorry state.

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Planning a New Blog

For a while, I have been thinking about how scatterbrained this blog often is.  You just need to look at this blog’s subtitle: “Commentary on Anime, Books, Religion and History–the Important Stuff in Life.”  Formerly, “booze” also made up part of the title, but those articles received the scantest readership of any on this site.  My articles on tea were better received!  With due regard for the voice of my dear readers, I have decided that Medieval Otaku ought to focus on anime and religion–particularly where the two intersect.  Of course, I promise to continue writing about tea when good opportunity affords itself.  For example, I have received a new Dooars (similar to Assam), Darjeeling, Keemun, Yunnan, and a Genmai cha sample (roasted rice green tea) which ought to be reviewed as soon as enough leisure is given me to enjoy them all.  Though, I can tell you right now that the Dooars was unimpressive.  It takes milk and sugar really well (my least favorite way to have tea), but lacks some of the complexity of a good Assam–which connoisseurs know are never that complex to begin with.

Trinity Blood, one of the best unions of Catholicism and anime in recent years

Trinity Blood, one of the best unions of Catholicism and anime in recent years

So, expect a modification of the subtitle soon.  I haven’t yet decided what to call this new blog, but I shall release the name as soon as the blog looks presentable, i.e. a couple of starter articles, an about page, and some nice decorations.  It will focus on history and literature.  Incidentally, I have another blog which I work on in collaboration with some friends of mine called Aquilon’s Eyrie.  It concentrates on topics concerning American culture, history, and politics with a decidedly conservative slant.  (If any of my dear readers feel like knowing this side of me would cause them to love me less, please eschew reading these articles!)

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Oh, I might be submitting a short story to the Christian Short Story and Poetry Contest 2014.  Of course, that link is for the 2013 contest, but my friend informs me that they begin accepting submission for the next one on September 4, the day after their Christian Novel Contest ends.  The curious thought of writing the 80 Word document pages necessary to fill their recommended length for the novel contest seems tempting, but the inspiration to write a new piece of that length has yet to come to me.  At any rate, you’ll be able to read the short story after I discover the fate it meets at the judges’ hands.

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Thanks for reading!  Oh, and I found something rather amusing about Japan: the Liberal Democratic Party has nearly a two-thirds majority in their parliament.  However, these Liberal Democrats endorse a stronger military and more pro-business laws.  How’s that for upside down?

Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus This Friday

Dear Readers, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus occurs this Friday. Even though it’s not a holy day of obligation, it would be good if you could find some way to attend Mass. If not, try to spend some time meditating on the great love this Heart has for us, particularly how He loved us so much that He endured terrible suffering and death for our sakes.

This is how the Sacred Heart is traditionally depicted. The Flames indicate the burning Love which this Heart has for all mankind, the thorns symbolize the insults, contempt, ingratitude, and sins with which so many men grieve the Sacred Heart, and the Cross reminds us to often meditate on His Passion, in which He showed us the depth of His Love. So, I encourage everyone to read an account of His Passion and meditate on it, particularly by praying through the Stations of the Cross.

The following day is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I already have a page dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, so you may read that for ideas about how to honor her on this day–besides attending Mass, of course.

By the way, devoutly praying “Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us who have recourse to thee” carries an indulgence of three hundred days.  So, if any of you are worried about having too much time in purgatory, say it often!