And Elias, the prophet, stood up, as a fire, and his word burnt like a torch (Ecclesiasticus. 48.1, DRV)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

"Absolvo te..." (I)

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JMJ

Easter Sunday




“I absolve thee in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

Thus is the penitent sinner assured by the Lord and Savior Himself, acting and speaking through His minister, at His tribunal of his release from bondage to the devil through his sins.

“…Our thoughts hitherto have been full of sharpness and severity. We have been dwelling upon sin… we now enter upon another region – the realm of peace, of grace, of pardon and healing….

It was late in the evening of the first day of the week when the Lord and Savior rose from the dead that His disciples were gathered together, and the doors were shut for fear of the Jews. When they least expected it, unawares, and by His divine power, He came – though the doors were closed – and stood in the midst of them; and His first words were, Peace be unto you. And when He had assured them that it was He Himself, their fears were dispelled. He then said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them; whose sins you shall retain, they are retained (Jn. 20.22-23). That is, He gave them the proof of His Godhead in the power of absolution. He gave them the proof of His Godhead – for the Pharisees were right when they asked, “Who shall forgive sins but God only?” (Mk. 2.7).

God alone can absolve, and God alone can give the power of absolution. When the power of absolution is exercised by any man, he is but an instrument in the hand of God: the absolver is always God Himself. Our Lord exercised, among many other attributes of His Godhead upon earth, these three special powers of divinity: He raised the dead; He multiplied the bread in the wilderness; and He cleansed the lepers – and these three works of almighty power, which are altogether divine, He has committed in a spiritual form to His Church forever. When He said, Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them [in Nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti], in that power of Baptism He gave to His Apostles and their successors [cf., Acts 1.25-26] the power of raising from spiritual death to spiritual life. Those who are born dead in sin are raised by a new birth to spiritual life. When He instituted the Most Holy sacrament of His Body and Blood, and gave to His [ministers of the Christian altar, cf. Heb 13.10] the authority to say, This is My Body, He gave the power to feed His people with the Bread of Life, and to multiply that Bread forever. When He said, Whose sins ye shall forgive, they are forgiven unto them, He gave the power of cleansing the leprosy of the soul.

Sometimes, incoherent – or, what is worse, controversial – minds imagine, or at least say, that this power was confined to the Apostles. The very words are enough to prove the contrary; but there is an intrinsic reason to the thing which, to any Christian mind, must be sufficient to show that these three powers are perpetual; for what are these three powers, but the authority to apply to the souls of men forever the benefits of the most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ [most generously shed upon the Cross]? The Precious Blood would have been shed in vain, if it were not applied to the souls of men one by one. The most potent medicines work no cures, save in those to whom they are applied; and the Precious Blood, which is the remedy of sin [without shedding of Blood there is no remission (Heb. 9.22)], works the healing of the soul only by its application. Baptism, the Holy Sacrament of the Altar, and the Sacrament of Penance are three divine channels whereby the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ is applied to the soul.

Penance is both a virtue and a Sacrament. From the beginning of the world the grace of penance has been poured out upon men. It is an interior disposition of the soul before God; and from the beginning of the world the Holy Ghost, Whose office it is to convince the world of sin, has convinced sinners of their transgressions, has converted them to penance, and from penance has made them Saints. But penance, in the Christian law, is also a Sacrament; and I have to explain the meaning of the grace and the action of the Sacrament, and how they are united.

First, penance is a grace or inward disposition of the soul, and I need to go far to find an explanation. I need not frame any explanation of my own, for we have a divine delineation of what penance is, drawn as it were, by a pencil of light of our Divine Savior Himself in the parable of the Prodigal Son. There we have a revelation of what the grace of penance is.

Let us take the main features of [it]. First, the son who, under the roof of a loving father, had need of nothing – for his father was rich – chafed and was fretful because the authority of a superior will was upon him. He could not bear the yoke of living under a paternal rule, and his imagination was all on fire with the thought of liberty. He looked at the horizon – it may be the mountains that bounded the lands and fields of his father – and pictured to himself the valleys and plains and cities full of youth and happiness and life and freedom – a happy land, if only he could break away from the restraints of home. He came to his father, and with a cold-hearted insolence said that which being translated is, “Give me what I shall have when you are dead.” There was the a spirit of undutifulness and of ingratitude in that demand – but the father gave it; and the parable says that not many days after – that is, with all speed, in fact – gathering all things together, all he had and all he could get, he went off into a far country, and there he spent all he had in living riotously.

Then there came a mighty famine, and he having spent all things, was reduced to that miserable condition – he was fain to fill his hunger with the husks, not only with the husks which the swine did eat, but the husks which the swine had left, the husks which fell, as it were, from the trough of a herd of swine – which portrays the degradation of a sinner – a soul in mortal sin. He came to himself – the word is, he returned to himself. He not only had left his father, but had forsaken himself – he was out of himself, beside himself; for sin is madness. When he returned to himself, he said: “How many hired servants of my father have bread in abundance, and I here perished for hunger. I will rise and go to my father, and I will say unto Him: Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants.”

Here was the consciousness of unworthiness. He did not aspire to be a son again; that, he thought, was lost forever. And he arose and went to his father. And as he was coming, before he caught sight of his father, his father saw him afar off, for love gives keenness of sight to a father’s eye: he saw his son returning, and he ran towards him. He was as eager to forgive as the son was to be forgiven – ay, more; he fell upon his neck, and the Prodigal Son began his confession. But before he could finish – the words “make me as one of thy hired servants” never came out of his mouth – his father fell upon his neck and kissed him, and forgave him all. He was perfectly absolved.  And the father said: “Bring forth quickly” – that is, make haste, no delay – “the first robe.” The robe he had before, and put it on him. Put shoes on his feet and a ring on his hand. Restore him not only to the state of pardon, but to the full possession of all he had before his fall; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.

We see here in the Prodigal Son the grace of penance – that is, self-knowledge, self-condemnation, sorrow for the past, conversion, self-accusation, and the will to amend one’s life. We have here then, I say, a divine delineation of what it is. Let us take another example.

There was in Jerusalem one who was rich, and abounded in all things. She possessed also the fatal gift of beauty, which has been eternal death to tens of thousands. She was living in wealth and luxury and enjoyment, and, as the Apostle said, was dead while she lived. She decked herself out in gold and in fine apparel, like the daughters of Jerusalem of whom the Prophet Isaias says, that they were haughty, and walked with their necks stretched out, with wanton glances in their eyes, and making a noise with their feet, and walking with mincing step, with the affectation of an immodest and luxurious life. She was known to be a sinner and was notorious in the city. On a day – we know not when, we know not where, for it is not written – she chanced, as we say, to light upon the presence and to hear the voice of our Divine Redeemer. It may be that it was in the Temple where He daily taught. It may she had gone up to the Temple in all the bravery and all the ostentation of her apparel, not to worship the Holy One of Israel, but from curiosity, and to be seen, and to show herself to men. But she found herself in the presence of One Whose calm dignity abashed her.

At first, it may be, she resisted the sound of the voice; but there was something in it which thrilled to the depth of the heart. There was something in the still steady gaze of that divine eye which she could not escape. A shaft of light cut her heart asunder, and an illumination showed her to herself, even as God saw her, covered with sins red as scarlet, and, as the leper, white as snow. She went her way with the wound deep in the heart – a wound which could never be healed save only by the hand that made it. The gaze that had been fixed upon her and the sound of that voice were still in her memory. She could escape them nowhere. No doubt, there was a conflict going on day after day, and her old companion, her evil friends, and the manifold dangers of life came thick about her as before; but she had no soul for them.

At last, laying aside her finery and ostentation, unclasping the jewels from her head, and with her hair all loose about her – with an alabaster box of ointment, she walked through the streets of Jerusalem before the eyes of men, caring for no one, thinking of no one but of God and her own sins. Hearing that Jesus of Nazareth sat at meat in the house of Simon the Pharisee, she broke into the midst of the banquet, under the scornful, piercing, indignant eyes that were fixed upon her; without shame, because her only shame was before the eye of God; without fear, knowing what she was, because she had come to know the love and tenderness of Him Who had spoken to her. She stood silent before Him, weeping. She had the courage even to kiss His feet, to wash them with her tears, to wipe them with the hair of her head; while the Pharisee secretly rebuked our Divine Lord, and asked himself in his heart: “If this man had been a prophet, would He not have known what manner of woman this is? She is a sinner, and He would not have allowed her to touch His feet.”

But those feet had in them the healing of sin. The touch of those feet, powerful as the touch upon the hem of His garment, cleansed the poor sinner. He turned, and in the hearing of them all, He said: Her sins, which are many, are forgiven her, because she has loved much. Here is an example of the grace of penance; and an example not of penance only, but of perfect and full absolution given in a moment; more than this, of a complete restoration of purity given to the most fallen. In token of that absolution and of that restoration, privileges were granted to Mary Magdalen beyond others. She, out of whom Jesus cast seven devils, was the one who stood at the foot of the Cross with the Immaculate Mother of God. It was she who had kissed His feet at that supper who afterwards anointed them, and wound them in the fine linen for His burial. It was she, the greatest of sinners, who, next after His Immaculate Mother, saw Him before all others when He arose from the dead; and these tokens of the love of Jesus to penitents, and to the greatest of penitents, have been followed in the kingdom of Heaven with a glory proportioned to her sorrow and to her love. Mary Magdalen is set forth forever as an example of the grace of penitence, and of the perfect absolution of the Most Precious Blood.

But perhaps you will say, she had never known our Savior. She committed all her sins before she came to the knowledge of His love. I have known Him, and therefore the sins I have committed I have committed against the light; and my sins are more ungrateful than hers, and are therefore guiltier, and I have less hope of pardon. Let us see, then, if there be another example. Is there an example of any friend, who had been highly privileged, greatly blessed, who had known everything, who had received all the light and grace which came from the presence and the words of our Divine Savior in those three years of His public life – is there any such who afterwards sinned against Him?

There was one to whom the light of the knowledge of the Son of God was first revealed by the Father in Heaven. There was one who was First of all the Apostles, because of this illumination of faith, and to whom our Divine Lord would built His Church and gave the keys of the kingdom of Heaven. This friend, preferred above all others, dignified above all others, protested to his Master: Though all men should forsake Thee, yet will not I. I am ready to go with Thee to prison and to death. Though all men shall deny Thee, I will never deny Thee (Lk. 22.33). He had the courage to draw his sword in the garden, and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest; yet this man three times denied his Master. He denied Him utterly: I never knew the Man. I am not of His disciples. And with cursing and swearing he renounced his Lord.

Here, then, is the ingratitude and the sin of a cherished friend. But on that night he went out, and he wept bitterly; and his bitter tears upon that night of sin obtained for him not only perfect absolution in the evening of the first day of the week, but the power of absolving the sins of others, sinners like himself. Peter received his own absolution, his own forgiveness, and in that moment, he was restored to his dignity as Prince of the Apostles. Though he was upbraided in the gray of the morning on the Sea of Tiberias by the three questions of tender reproof: Simon, son of John, lovest thou Me more than these? to remind him of his three falls, Peter was restored to more than he had before. He was made head on earth of the Mystical Body of Christ; he died a martyr for His Lord, and he reigns in Heaven by his Master’s side.
We have here again an example of the grace of penance; and what do we see in it? Just the same sorrow, self-accusation, reparation as before. Here is the virtue and grace of penance…." (from a sermon of Henry Edward Cardinal Manning)

A blessed Easter!



Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Holy Saturday"

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JMJ

Holy Saturday

e Voce a refragatione Catholica
(From the Voice of Catholic Resistance)

His Lordship, Bishop Williamson
Holy Saturday in the life of Our Lord was that day between his appalling death on the Cross and his glorious Resurrection, when his human body, lifeless without its human soul, lay in the dark tomb, unseen to human eye. Our Lord’s enemies seemed so successfully to have crushed Him that the Incarnate God was in complete eclipse, and only the faith of Our Lady in Her Divine Son remained unshaken. All His other followers She had to sustain, because even the most devout of them felt bewildered and lost.

Now as being the Mystical Body of Christ, the Catholic Church follows the life’s course of His physical body. Down all its 2,000 years of history the Church has always been persecuted by the enemies of Christ, and in many parts of the world at various times it has been virtually wiped out. Yet surely it has never been going into complete eclipse like it seems to be doing today [cf., our post "The Great Tribulation"]. God designed his Church as a monarchy, to be held together by the Pope, and we have just seen a Pope resigning, no doubt in part because he himself, mesmerized by modern democratic thinking, never fully believed in his own supreme office. Taking the papal tiara off* his coat of arms, and signing himself always as “Bishop of Rome”, whatever were his intentions when he resigned in February, he surely helped, humanly speaking, to undermine the divine institution of the Papacy.
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* Pope Paul VI surrendered the Papal Tiara to the organ of world-domination by the Synagogue of Satan (Apoc. 2.9; 3.9) - the so-called 'United Nations' or the U.N., cf., our link "The Great Tribulation" above. His successors down to the present were not crowned with it!
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Certainly by Benedict XVI’s resignation and by the succeeding conclave the enemies of Christ will have been doing all they could for their part to undo the Papacy. By a just punishment of God for the universal apostasy of our age, they have received from Him a great power over his Church*. They have been working for centuries** to get a stranglehold over the Vatican, and they are now entrenched*** there. With no intention of giving way to a pious little Society, they are, as Anne Catherine Emmerich saw in a vision 200 years ago, dismantling the Church stone by stone. Humanly speaking, today’s followers of Our Lord have as little seeming hope as they had on the original Holy Saturday.
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* Cf., the late Fr. Malachi Martin, S.J. - renowned exorcist, Vatican 'insider', and author - in "Upheaval"; also, Apoc. 2.13 in "Against Sedevacantism" (I) and "A Perilous 'Catholic' Voyage"

** Cf., the "Masonic Blueprint of Subverting the Catholic Church" in our post "A Perilous 'Catholic' Voyage" (link on the preceding reference above)

*** Cf., the testimonies of Ms. Bella Dodd - former Secretary-General of the US Communist Party - before the US Congressional Committee on "Un-American Activities" and in her lectures at the Fordham University in our post "The Neo-Catholic Scandals and the Year 1929"
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But no more than Our Lord himself is the Catholic Church a merely human affair. In 1846 Our Lady of Salette said about our own times: “The righteous will suffer greatly. Their prayers, penance and their tears will rise up to Heaven, and all of God’s people will beg for forgiveness and mercy and will plead for my help and intercession. And then Jesus Christ in an act of His justice and great mercy will command His Angels to have all His enemies put to death. Suddenly the persecutors of the Church of Jesus Christ and all those given over to sin will perish, and the earth will become desert-like [cf., our post "Our Lady... and the Annihilation of Various Nations"]. And then peace will be made, and man will be reconciled with God, Jesus Christ will be served, worshipped and glorified. Charity will flourish everywhere... The Gospel will be preached everywhere... and man will live in fear of God.”

In other words, God will most certainly resurrect His Church from its present distress. When the eclipse becomes still darker, as it is sure to do, let us merely hold more closely than ever to the Mother of God, and let us resolve now not to weigh upon Her then by our disbelief, as did Our Lord’s Apostles and disciples on the first Holy Saturday. Let us undertake to rejoice Her Immaculate Heart with our unshakeable faith in Her Divine Son and his one true Church.

Kyrie eleison.
(N. 298, 30th March 2013)

Related link: "Catholic Resistance, Not Disobedience". See also: "The Wine of the Wrath of God"


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"Vade retro Satana!"

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JMJ

Tuesday in Holy Week



"Get thee behind me, Satan! Suggest not vain things to me.
Evil is the cup thou offerest, drink thou thine own poison!"
- Exorcism prayer on the Medal of St. Benedict

On Lust and the Vice of Impurity

"And behold, there was a certain man before him, who had the dropsy (Lk. 14.2). THE man who indulges in impurity is like a person labouring under the dropsy. The latter is so much tormented by thirst, that the more he drinks the more thirsty he becomes. Such, too, is the nature of the accursed vice of impurity; it is never satiated. "As," says St. Thomas of Villanova , ”the more the dropsical man abounds in moisture, the more he thirsts; so, too, is it with the waves of carnal pleasures."

Delusion of those who say that sins against purity are not a great evil.

The unchaste, then, say that sins contrary to purity are but a small evil. Like the sow wallowing in the mire (Sus lota in volutabro luti - 2 Pet. ii. 22), they are immersed in their own filth, so that they do not see the malice of their actions; and therefore they neither feel nor abhor the stench of their impurities, which excite disgust and horror in all others. Can you, who say that the vice of impurity is but a small evil can you, I ask, deny that it is a mortal sin? If you deny it, you are a heretic; for as St. Paul says: Do not err. Neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, etc., shall possess the kingdom of God (1 Cor. vi. 9). It is a mortal sin; it cannot be a small evil. It is more sinful than theft, or detraction, or the violation of the fast. How then can you say that it is not a great evil? Perhaps mortal sin appears to you to be a small evil? Is it a small evil to despise the grace of God, to turn your back upon him, and to lose his friendship, for a transitory, beastly pleasure?

Is it, then, a small evil to see a man endowed with a rational soul, and enriched with so many divine graces, bring himself by the sin of impurity to the level of a brute? ”Fornication and [carnal] pleasure," says St. Jerome, ”pervert the understanding, and change men into beasts." (In Oseam., c. iv.) In the voluptuous and unchaste are literally verified the words of David: And man, when he was in honour, did not understand: he is compared to senseless beasts, and is become like to them (Ps. xlviii. 13). St. Jerome says, that there is nothing more vile or degrading than to allow oneself to be conquered by the flesh. Is it a small evil to forget God, and to banish him from the soul, for the sake of giving the body a vile satisfaction, of which, when it is over, you feel ashamed? Of this the Lord complains by the Prophet Ezechiel: Thus saith the Lord God: Because thou hast forgotten me, and has cast me off behind thy back (xxiii. 35.) St. Thomas says, that by every vice, but particularly by the vice of impurity, men are removed far from God (In Job, cap. xxxi).

Moreover, sins of impurity, on account of their great number, are an immense evil. A blasphemer does not always blaspheme, but only when he is drunk or provoked to anger. The assassin, whose trade is to murder others, does not, at the most, commit more than eight or ten homicides. But the unchaste are guilty of an unceasing torrent of sins, by thoughts, by words, by looks, by complacencies, and by touches; so that, when they go to confession they find it impossible to tell the number of the sins they have committed against purity. Even in their sleep the devil represents to them obscene objects, that, on awakening, they may take delight in them; and because they are made the slaves of the enemy, they obey and consent to his suggestions; for it is easy to contract a habit of this sin. To other sins, such as blasphemy, detraction, and murder, men are not prone; but to this vice [disordered] nature inclines them. Hence St. Thomas says, that there is no sinner so ready to offend God as the votary of lust is, on every occasion that occurs to him. The sin of impurity brings in its train the sins of defamation, of theft, hatred, and of boasting of its own filthy abominations. Besides, it ordinarily involves the malice of scandal. Other sins, such as blasphemy, perjury, and murder, excite horror in those who witness them; but this sin excites and draws others, who are flesh, to commit it, or, at least, to commit it with less horror.

By lust the devil triumphs over the entire man, over his body and over his soul; over his memory, filling it with the remembrance of unchaste delights, in order to make him take complacency in them; over his intellect, to make him desire occasions of committing sin; over the will, by making it love its impurities as his last end, and as if there were no God. I made, said Job, a covenant with my eyes, that I would not so much as think upon a virgin. For what part should God from above have in me? (xxxi. 1, 2.) Job was afraid to look at a virgin, because he knew that if he consented to a bad thought God should have no part in him. According to St. Gregory, "from impurity arises blindness of understanding, destruction, hatred of God, and despair of eternal life" (Mor., lib. 13). St. Augustine says, though the unchaste may grow old, the vice of impurity does not grow old in them. Hence St. Thomas says, that "there is no sin in which the devil delights so much as in this sin; because there is no other sin to which [disordered] nature clings with so much tenacity. To the vice of impurity it adheres so firmly, that the appetite for carnal pleasures becomes insatiable" (1, 2, qu. 73, a. 5, ad. 2). Go now, and say that the sin of impurity is but a small evil. At the hour of death you shall not say so; every sin of that kind shall then appear to you a monster of hell. Much less shall you say so before the judgment-seat of Jesus Christ, who will tell you what the Apostle has already told you: No fornicator, or unclean, hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God (Eph. v. 5). The man who has lived like a brute does not deserve to sit with the angels.

Most beloved brethren, let us continue to pray to God to deliver us from this vice: if we do not, we shall lose our souls. The sin of impurity brings with it blindness and obstinacy. Every vice produces darkness of understanding; but impurity produces it in a greater degree than all other sins. Fornication, and wine, and drunkenness take away the understanding (Osee iv. 11). Wine deprives us of understanding and reason; so does impurity. Hence St. Thomas says, that the man who indulges in unchaste pleasures, does not live according to reason. Now, if the unchaste are deprived of light, and no longer see the evil which they do, how can they abhor it and amend their lives? The Prophet Osee says, that being blinded by their own mire, they do not even think of returning to God; because their impurities take away from them all knowledge of God. They will not set their thought to return to their God; for the spirit of fornication is in the midst of them, and they have not known the Lord (Osee v. 4). Hence St. Lawrence Justinian writes, that this sin makes men forget God. ”Delights of the flesh induced forgetfulness of God." And St. John Damascene teaches that”the carnal man cannot look at the light of truth." Thus, the lewd and voluptuous no longer understand what is meant by the grace of God, by judgment, hell, and eternity. Fire hath fallen upon them, and they shall not see the sun (Ps. Ivii. 9). Some of these blind miscreants go so far as to say, that fornication is not in itself sinful. They say, that it was not forbidden in the Old Law; and in support of this execrable doctrine they adduce the words of the Lord to Osee: Go, take thee a wife of fornication, and have of her children of fornication (Osee i. 2). In answer I say, that God did not permit Osee to commit fornication; but wished him to take for his wife a woman who had been guilty of fornication: and the children of this marriage were called children of fornication, because the mother had been guilty of that crime. This is, according to St. Jerome, the meaning of the words of the Lord to Osee. But fornication was always forbidden, under pain of mortal sin, in the Old, as well as in the New Law. St. Paul says: No fornicator or unclean, hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph. v. 5). Behold the impiety to which the blindness of such sinners carry them! From this blindness it arises, that though they go to the sacraments, their confessions are null for want of true contrition; for how is it possible for them to have true sorrow, when they neither know nor abhor their sins?

The vice of impurity also brings with it obstinacy. To conquer temptations, particularly against chastity, continual prayer is necessary. Watch ye, and pray, that ye enter not into temptation (Mark xiv. 38). But how will the unchaste, who are always seeking to be tempted, pray to God to deliver them from temptation? They sometimes, as St. Augustine confessed of himself, even abstain from prayer, through fear of being heard and cured of the disease, which they wish to continue. "I feared," said the Saint, "that You would soon hear and heal the disease of concupiscence, which I wished to be satiated, rather than extinguished." (Conf., lib. 8, cap. vii). St. Peter calls this vice an unceasing sin. ”Having eyes full of adultery and sin that ceaseth not (2 Pet. ii. 14) Impurity is called an unceasing sin on account of the obstinacy which it induces. Some person addicted to this vice says: I always confess the sin. So much the worse; for since you always relapse into sin, these confessions serve to make you persevere in the sin. The fear of punishment is diminished by saying: I always confess the sin. If you felt that this sin certainly merits hell, you would scarcely say: I will not give it up; I do not care if I am damned. But the devil deceives you. Commit this sin, he says; for you afterwards confess it. But, to make a good confession of your sins, you must have true sorrow of the heart, and a firm purpose to sin no more. Where are this sorrow and this firm purpose of amendment, when you always return to the vomit? If you had had these dispositions, and had received sanctifying grace at your confessions, you should not have relapsed, or at least you should have abstained for a considerable time from relapsing. You have always fallen back into sin in eight or ten days, and perhaps in a shorter time, after confession. What sign is this? It is a sign that you were always in enmity with God. If a sick man instantly vomits the medicine which he takes, it is a sign that his disease is incurable.

St. Jerome says, that the vice of impurity, when habitual, will cease when the unhappy man who indulges in it is cast into the fire of hell. ”Infernal fire, lust, whose fuel is gluttony, whose sparks are brief conversations, whose end is hell." The unchaste become like the vulture that waits to be killed by the fowler, rather than abandon the rottenness of the dead bodies on which it feeds. This is what happened to a young female, who, after having lived in the habit of sin with a young man, fell sick, and appeared to be converted. At the hour of death she asked leave of her confessor to send for the young man, in order to exhort him to change his life at the sight of her death. The confessor very imprudently gave the permission, and taught her what she should say to her accomplice in sin. But listen to what happened. As soon as she saw him, she forgot her promise to the confessor and the exhortation she was to give to the young man. And what did she do? She raised herself up, sat in bed, stretched her arms to him, and said: Friend, I have always loved you, and even now, at the end of my life, I love you: I see that, on your account, I shall go to hell: but I do not care: I am willing, for the love of you, to be damned. After these words she fell back on the bed and expired. These facts are related by Father Segneri (Christ. Istr. Bag., xxiv., n. 10.) Oh! how difficult is it for a person who has contracted a habit of this vice, to amend his life and return sincerely to God! O how difficult is it for him not to terminate this habit in hell, like the unfortunate young woman of whom I have just spoken.

Illusion of those who say that God takes pity on this sin.

The votaries of lust say that God takes pity on this sin; but such is not the language of St. Thomas of Villanova. He says, that "in the Sacred Scriptures we do not read of any sin so severely chastised as the sin of impurity (Serm. iv., Dom. 1, Quadrag.). We find in the Scriptures, that in punishment of this sin, a deluge of fire descended from heaven on four cities, and, in an instant, consumed not only the inhabitants, but even the very stones. And the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he destroyed these cities, and all things that spring from the earth (Gen. xix. 24; cf., our posts "Our Lady, Vatican II Disorientation, and the Annihilation of Nations" and "The Wine of the Wrath of God").

Salvian writes, that it was in punishment of the sin of impurity that God sent on the earth the universal deluge, which was caused by continued rain for forty days and forty nights. In this deluge the waters rose fifteen cubits above the tops of the highest mountains; and only eight persons along with Noah were saved in the ark. The rest of the inhabitants of the earth, who were more numerous then than at present, were punished with death in chastisement of the vice of impurity. Mark the words of the Lord in speaking of this chastisement which he inflicted on that sin: My spirit shall not remain in man for ever; because he is flesh (Gen. vi. 3). "That is," says Liranus, "too deeply involved in carnal sins." The Lord added: For it repenteth Me that I made man (Gen. vi. 7). The indignation of God is not like ours, which clouds the mind, and drives us into excesses: His wrath is a judgment perfectly just and tranquil, by which God punishes and repairs the disorders of sin. But to make us understand the intensity of His hatred for the sin of impurity, he represents Himself as if sorry for having created man, who offended Him so grievously by this vice. We, at the present day, see more severe temporal punishment inflicted on this than on any other sin. Go into the hospitals, and listen to the shrieks of so many young men, who, in punishment of their impurities, are obliged to submit to the severest treatment and to the most painful operations, and who, if they escape death, are, according to the divine threat, feeble, and subject to the most excruciating pain for the remainder of their lives. Thou hast cast me off behind thy back; bear thou also thy wickedness and thy fornications (Ezec. xxiii. 35).

St. Remigius writes that, "if children.be excepted, the number of adults that are saved is few, on account of the sins of the flesh. In conformity with this doctrine, it was revealed to a holy soul, that as pride has filled hell with devils, so impurity fills it with men" (Col., disp. ix., ex. 192). St. Isidore assigns the reason. He says that "there is no vice which so much enslaves men to the devil as impurity" (lib. 2, c. xxxix.). Hence, St. Augustine says, that with regard to this sin, ”the combat is common and the victory rare." Hence it is, that on account of this sin hell is filled with souls [cf., also our post "Our Lady at Fatima: MANY souls go to hell..."].

Remedies

All that I have said on this subject has been said, not that any one present, who has been addicted to the vice of impurity, may be driven to despair, but that such persons may be cured. Let us, then, come to the remedies. These are two great remedies: prayer, and the flight of dangerous occasions. "Prayer," says St. Gregory of Nyssa, "is the safeguard of chastity" (De Orat.). And before him, Solomon, speaking of himself, said the same. And as I knew that I could not otherwise be continent, except God gave it... I went to the Lord, and besought him (Wis. viii. 21.) Thus, it is impossible for us to conquer this vice without God’s assistance. Hence, as soon as temptation against chastity presents itself, the remedy is, to turn instantly to God for help, and to repeat several times the most holy names of Jesus and Mary, which have a special virtue to banish bad thoughts of that kind. I have said immediately, without listening to, or beginning to argue with the temptation. When a bad thought occurs to the mind, it is necessary to shake it off instantly, as you would a spark that flies from the fire, and instantly to invoke aid from Jesus and Mary.

As to the flight of dangerous occasions, St. Philip Neri used to say that cowards, that is, they who fly from the occasions, gain the victory. Hence you must, in the first place, keep a restraint on the eyes... "Otherwise," says St. Thomas, "you can scarcely avoid the sin" (1, 2, qu. 167, a. 2). Hence Job said: I made a covenant with my eyes, that I would not so much as think upon a... (xxxi. 1). He was afraid to look at... because from looks it is easy to pass to desires, and from desires to acts. St. Francis de Sales used to say, that to look at... does not do so much evil as to look at... a second time. If the devil has not gained a victory the first, he will gain the second time. And if it be necessary to abstain from looking at..., it is much more necessary to avoid conversation with them. Tarry not among...  (Eccl. xlii. 12). We should be persuaded that, in avoiding occasions of this sin, no caution can be too great. Hence we must be always fearful, and fly from them. A wise man feareth and declineth from evil; a fool is confident (Prov. xiv. 16). A wise man is timid, and flies away; a fool is confident, and falls." (a Sermon of St. Alphonsus Mary Liguori - Bishop and Doctor of the Church).

In the day that Lot went out of Sodom, 
it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.
Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man shall be revealed
(Lk. 17.29-30)

See also: "Poenitentiam Agite!/Do Penance!", "Ite ad Ioseph/Go to Joseph", "Signum Crucis" and commentary, "Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary", and "... The Annihilation of Many Nations"

Sunday, March 24, 2013

"An Ass Tied"

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JMJ

Second Sunday of the Passion (Palm Sunday)


Go ye into the village that is over against you,
and immediately you shall find an ass tied
(Mt. 21.2)

On the Habitual Sinner

"WISHING to enter Jerusalem, to be there acknowledged as the promised Messiah sent by God for the salvation of the world, the Saviour said to His disciples: Go to a certain village, and you will find an ass tied, and a colt with her; loose them, and bring them to Me. “The ass which was tied," says St. Bonaventure, "denotes a sinner." This exposition is conformable to the doctrine of the Wise Man, who says, that the wicked are bound by the chains of their own sins. His own iniquities catch the wicked, and he is fast bound with the rope of his own sins (Prov. v. 22). But, as Jesus Christ could not sit on the ass before she was loosed, so He cannot dwell in a soul bound with her own iniquities. If, then, brethren, there be among you a soul bound by any bad habit, let her attend to the admonition which the Lord addresses to her this morning. Loose the bond from off thy neck, captive daughter of Sion (Isa. lii. 2). Loose the bonds of your sins, which make you the slave of Satan. Loose the bonds before the habit of sin gains such power over you, as to render your conversion morally impossible, and thus to bring you to eternal perdition.

The habit of sin blinds the understanding

The habit of sin blinds sinners, so that they no longer see the evil which they do, nor the ruin which they "bring upon themselves; hence they live in blindness, as if there was neither God, nor heaven, nor hell, nor eternity," says St. Augustine. ”Sins," adds the Saint, ”however enormous, when habitual, appear to be small, or not to be sins at all." How then can the soul guard against them, when she is no longer sensible of their deformity, or the evil which they bring upon her?

St. Jerome says, that habitual sinners “are not even ashamed of their crimes." Bad actions naturally produce a certain shame; but this feeling is destroyed by the habit of sin. St. Peter compares habitual sinners to swine wallowing in mire. The sow that was washed is returned to her wallowing in the mire (2 Pet. ii. 22). The very mire of sin blinds them; and, therefore, instead of feeling sorrow and shame at their uncleanness, they revel and exult in it. A fool worketh mischief as it were for sport (Prov. x. 23). Who are glad when they have done evil (Prov. ii. 14). Hence the Saints continually seek light from God; for they know that, should he withdraw his light, they may become the greatest of sinners. How, then, do so many Christians, who know by faith that there is a hell, and a just God, who cannot but chastise the wicked, how, I say, do they continue to live in sin till death, and thus bring themselves to perdition? Their own malice blinded them (Wis. ii, 21). Sin blinds them, and thus they are lost.

Job says, that habitual sinners are full of iniquities. His bones shall be filled with the vices of his youth (xx. 11). Every sin produces darkness in the understanding. Hence, the more sins are multiplied by a bad habit, the greater the blindness they cause. The light of the sun cannot enter a vessel filled with clay; and a heart full of vices cannot admit the light of God, which would make visible to the soul the abyss into which she is running. Bereft of light, the habitual sinner goes on from sin to sin, without ever thinking of repentance. The wicked walk round about (Ps. xi. 9). Fallen into the dark pit of evil habits, he thinks only of sinning, he speaks only of sins, and no longer sees the evil of sin. In fine, he becomes like a brute devoid of reason, and seeks and desires only what pleases the senses. And man, when he was in honour, did not understand: he is compared to senseless beasts, and is become like to them (Ps. xlviii. 13). Hence the words of the Wise Man are fulfilled with regard to habitual sinners. The wicked man when he comes into the depth of sin, contemneth (Prov. xviii. 3). This passage St. Chrysostom applies to habitual sinners, who, shut up in a pit of darkness, despise sermons, calls of God, admonitions, censures, hell, and God, and become like the vulture that waits to be killed by the fowler, rather than abandon the corrupt carcass on which it feeds.

Brethren, let us tremble, as David did when he said: Let not the tempests of water drown me, nor the deep swallow me up; and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me (Ps. Ixviii. 16). Should a person fall into a pit, there is hope of deliverance as long as the mouth of the pit is not closed; but as soon as it is shut, he is lost. When a sinner falls into a bad habit, the mouth of the pit is gradually closed as his sins are multiplied; the moment the mouth of the pit is shut, he is abandoned by God. Dearly beloved sinners, if you have contracted a habit of any sin, endeavour instantly to go out of that pit of hell, before God shall deprive you entirely of his light, and abandon you; for, as soon as he abandons you by the total withdrawal of his light, all is over, and you are lost.

The habit of sin hardens the heart

The habit of sin not only blinds the understanding, but also hardens the heart of the sinner. His heart shall be as hard as a stone, and as firm as a smith‟s anvil (Job xli. 15). By the habit of sin the heart becomes like a stone; and, as the anvil is hardened by repeated strokes of the hammer, so, instead of being softened by divine inspirations or by instructions, the soul of the habitual sinner is rendered more obdurate by sermons on the judgment of God, on the torments of the damned, and on the passion of Jesus Christ: his heart shall be firm as a smith‟s anvil. "Their heart," says St. Augustine, "is hardened against the dew of grace, so as to produce no fruit." Divine calls, remorses of conscience, terrors of Divine justice, are showers of divine grace; but when, instead of drawing fruit from these divine blessings, the habitual sinner continues to commit sin, he hardens his heart, and thus, according to St. Thomas of Villanova, he gives a sign of his certain damnation; for, from the loss of God’s light, and the hardness of his heart, the sinner will, according to the terrible threat of the Holy Ghost, remain obstinate till death. A hard heart shall fear evil at the end (Ecclus. iii. 27).

Of what use are confessions, when, in a short time after them, the sinner returns to the same vices? "He who strikes his breast," says St. Augustine, ”and does not amend, confirms, but does not take away sins." When you strike your breast in the tribunal of penance, but do not amend and remove the occasions of sin, you then, according to the Saint, do not take away your sins, but you make them more firm and permanent; that is, you render yourself more obstinate in sin. The wicked walk round about (Ps. xi. 9). Such is the unhappy life of habitual sinners. They go round about from sin to sin; and if they abstain for a little, they immediately, at the first occasion of temptation, return to their former iniquities. St. Bernard regards as certain the damnation of such sinners: "[that is, the Scriptural "Woe"] homini, qui sequitur hunc circuitum." (Serm. xii. sup. Psalmos).

But some young persons may say: I will hereafter amend, and sincerely give myself to God. But, if a habit of sin takes possession of you, when will you amend? The Holy Ghost declares, that a young man who contracts an evil habit will not relinquish it even in his old age. A young man, according to his way, even when he is old, he will not depart from it (Prov. xxii. 6). Habitual sinners have been known to yield, even at the hour of death, to the sins which they have been in the habit of committing.

He hath mercy on whom He will, and whom He will He hardeneth (Rom. ix. 18). God shows mercy for a certain time, and then he hardens the heart of the sinner. How does God harden the hearts of sinners? The Lord does not directly harden the hearts of habitual sinners; but, in punishment of their ingratitude for his benefits, he withdraws from them his graces, and thus their hearts are hardened, and become like a stone. ”God," says St. Augustine, "does not harden the heart by imparting malice, but by withholding mercy." God does not render sinners obdurate by infusing the malice of obstinacy, but by not giving them the efficacious graces by which they would be converted. By the withdrawal of the sun's heat from the earth, water is hardened into ice.

St. Bernard teaches, that hardness or obstinacy of heart does not take place suddenly; but, by degrees the soul becomes insensible to the divine threats, and more obstinate by divine chastisements. In habitual sinners are verified the words of David, At Thy rebuke, God of Jacob, they have slumbered... (Ps. lxxv. 7) Even earthquakes, thunders, and sudden deaths do not terrify an habitual sinner. Instead of awakening him to a sense of his miserable state, they rather bring on that deadly sleep in which he slumbers and is lost.

The habit of sin diminishes strength

He hath torn me with wound upon wound; he hath rushed in upon me like a giant (Job xvi. 15). On this text St. Gregory reasons thus: A person assailed by an enemy, is rendered unable to defend himself by the first wound which he receives; but, should he receive a second and third, his strength will be so much exhausted, that death will be the consequence. It is so with sin: after the first and second wound which it inflicts on the soul, she shall still have some strength, but only through the divine grace. But, if she continue to indulge in vice, sin, becoming habitual, rushes upon her like a giant and leaves her without any power to resist it. St. Bernard compares the habitual sinner to a person who has fallen under a large stone, which he is unable to remove. A person in such a case will rise only with difficulty. “The man on whom the weight of a bad habit presses, rises with difficulty" (Moral, lib. 26, c. xxiv.).

St. Thomas of Villanova teaches, that "a soul which is deprived of the grace of God, cannot long abstain from new sins" (Conc. 4 in Dom. 4 quadrages.).  In expounding the words of David, O my God, make them like a wheel, and as a stubble before the wind, (Ps. lxxxii. 14.) St. Gregory says, that the man who struggled for a time before he fell into the habit of sin, as soon as he contracts the habit, yields and yields again to every temptation, with as much facility as a straw is moved by the slightest blast of wind. Habitual sinners, according to St. Chrysostom, become so weak in resisting the attacks of the devil, that, dragged to sin by their evil habit, they are sometimes driven to sin against their inclination. Yes; because, as St. Augustine says, "a bad habit in the course of time brings on a certain necessity of falling into sin."

St. Bernardino of Sienna says, that "evil habits are changed into one's nature." Hence, as it is necessary for men to breathe, so it appears that it becomes necessary for habitual sinners to commit sins. They are thus made the slave of sin. I say, the slaves. In society there are servants, who serve for wages, and there are slaves, who serve by force, and without remuneration. Having sold themselves as slaves to the devil, habitual sinners are reduced to such a degree of slavery, that they sometimes sin without pleasure, and sometimes even without being in the occasion of sin. St. Bernardino compares them to the wings of a windmill, which continue to turn the mill even when there is no corn to be ground; that is, they continue to commit sin, at least by indulging bad thoughts, even when there is no occasion of sin presented to them. "The unhappy beings," as St. Chrysostom says, "having lost the divine aid, no longer do what they wish themselves, but what the devil wishes."

Behold the end of habitual sinners! Brethren, if you have the misfortune of having contracted a habit of sin, make, as soon as possible, a general confession; for your past confessions can scarcely have been valid. Go forth instantly from the slavery of the devil. Attend to the advice of the Holy Ghost. Give not thy ears to the cruel (Prov. v. 9). Why will you serve the devil, your enemy, who is so cruel a master who makes you lead a life of misery here, to bring you to a life of still greater misery in hell for all eternity? Lazarus, come forth. Go out of the pit of sin; give yourself immediately to God, Who calls you, and Is ready to receive you if you turn to him. Tremble! this may be for you the last call, to which if you do not correspond, you shall be lost." (A sermon of St. Alphonsus Mary Liguori - Bishop and Doctor of the Church)

Related posts: "The Delusions of Sinners", "On the Number of Sins Beyond Which God Pardons No More", "On Impenitence", "On the Remorse of the Damned". See also: "Poenitentiam Agite!/Do Penance!", "Sin And Its Malice (Part I, Part II, Part III)"

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Desacralization

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JMJ

Solemnity of the Feast of St. Joseph
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Patron of the Universal Church

... You have dishonored Me (Jn. 8.49, from the Holy Gospel for the previous Sunday, First Sunday of the Passion)

Pope Benedict XVI had ordered the Novus Ordo "table" set up in the Sistine Chapel taken out. But his successor, Pope Francis, turned the Chapel again as if it were an Anglican/Episcopalian one for his first public Novus Ordo 'Mass' after his election.

The picture below shows the sanctuary of a Roman Catholic cathedral in Scotland long overtaken by the Protestant sectarians. They did not destroy the ornate high altar (obviously for the preservation of an artistic "relic" - the same put forward by the Novus Ordo authorities), background, but set up their          "[l]ord's table", foreground, the new focus of the congregation. Mr. Mark Strange was "presiding" as 'bishop' (take a close look also at his vestment and compare it with the purple chasuble the newly-elect Pope wore for his second public Novus Ordo 'service' at the Sta. Ana Church).

No, not the bastard 'M[e]ss' of the Freemason Bugnini [cf., our post "The Catholic Sanctuary Prefigured in the O.T. (II)"] and held to be the "norm" [Summorum Pontificum of Pope Benedict XVI] in the post-Vatican II parishes, seminaries, monasteries and convents. The  Protestant "Commemorative Supper" presided by Mr. Mark Strange as Episcopalian chief minister in the St. Andrew's Cathedral Inverness Scotland. 


The Same Mr. Strange in a plain Protestant chasuble (notice the collar pattern with that of Pope Francis' 'SIMPLISTIC' Episcopalian-style chasuble in his first public Novus Ordo 'service' at the Sistine Chapel). Pope Francis: "I want a POOR Church... [?]

  
Pope Francis donned in a 'SIMPLISTIC' purple Anglican/Episcopalian-style chasuble (compare with the presider's at the St. Andrew's Cathedral, first image above) at his second public Neo-Catholic 'Mass' in Sta. Ana Church.

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Pope Francis and the "Real Presence" of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar? 

How does the priest of the Lord profess, by the way  he elevates the chalice after Consecration, the Real Presence of Jesus even in the small particles of the host he already previously consecrated which have adhered to the tips of his thumbs and index fingers? Pope Francis 'presiding' at his second public Neo-Catholic 'Mass' in Sta. Ana Church.
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Pope Francis on the 'Holy Spirit': "... Like to an apostle of Babel"

In his first address to the College of Cardinals, the newly elected Roman Pontiff who happens to be a [Neo-]'Jesuit' referred to the 'Holy Spirit' "IN the [Neo-]Church" as an "apostle" and "of Babel" at that. But we confess at THE Sacred Traditional Catholic Mass - "the norm [therefore, the ordinary] in perpetuity" (Pope St. Pius V): "Credo... in Spiritum Sanctum Dominum...!" The Holy Ghost IS Lord and Master! Though the Holy Father's reference is by way of a comparison, this Neo-Catholic comparison is skewed. The orthodox Catholic Confession continues: "Qui locutus est per Prophetas" ("Who spoke through the Prophets"). The Word of Truth teaches us the office and function of God's Prophet who stands in the place of God - to be His mind, eyes [cf., our post "'Finding' and 'Proving' One's Self?"], and mouth - in the midst of the people: [to lay] open thy iniquity, to excite thee to penance (Lam. 2.14). The Word of Truth made flesh categorically teaches of the office and function of the Spirit of Truth (Jn. 14.17) speaking "through [His] Prophets": And when He Is come: He will convince the world of sin, and of justice, and of judgment (Jn. 16.8) [cf., our posts "Sin and Its Malice" Part I and Part II]. The Spirit of Truth does not strike a point where the differences borne out of pride in Babel could be harmonized or reconciled: it is true that there are legitimate differences in THE Catholic Church, charisms, for one, as pointed out by the Holy Father; however, these are incomparable with the differences caused by the pride of Babel - these are actually comparable with the differences in the pseudo-Church or the Neo-Catholic Order, the Novus Ordo, of Vatican II [the City of Satan is a house of division: each to his own invention] which, in turn, has set itself in contradiction to the Traditional Catholic Order: reason tells us that between two contradictories, there can never be a point where they are reconcilable. Rather, the Spirit of Truth convicts consciences: are they subject to God's Order in Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified (1 Cor. 2.20) - He will convince... of justice - which translates to acting in entire and complete adherence to the teachings and moral and liturgical discipline established by Christ Himself through the consistent pronouncements and decrees of the Holy See (with the occupant of the Chair allowed material contradictions only, not a formal contradiction) - He will convince... of judgment. Either one is set by the Spirit of Truth to being more and more in harmony with  the Plan and Order of God in Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified or, by the spirit of Babel, against it!

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A Simple Pope?

Pope Francis at the Inaugural ceremony. Compare his chasuble with that of an Anglican chief minister below.
The Anglican chief minister at Ballarat in Australia. 

Pope Francis wants "a poor Church."

St. Therese of the Infant Jesus and of the Holy Face teaches us that "sanctity consists in being what God wants us to be" (Story of a Soul, Bk I, Ch. 1). Thus, St. Francis, guided by the same Spirit of Truth Who enlightened our "Little Therese," never had the temerity of a Waldo to propose his example to be the ideal of the Church as a faithful witness to the Gospel when the Mystical Body of Christ is set to reign with her Lord and Master Who reigns majestically: The Lord hath reigned, He is clothed with beauty (Ps. 92.1 - Ch. and v. according to the Sacred Latin Vulgate Bible which Bp. Challoner's revision of the Douay-Rheims Bible follows). The Eternal Word has prefigured how He would arraign His royal priests - to distinguish them from the priests serving at the altars of the devil - especially His Vicar, the "Summus Pontifex": ... He girded him [the High Priest] with a glorious girdle, and clothed Him with a robe of glory, and crowned him with majestic attire... He gave him a holy robe of gold, and blue, and purple... of twisted scarlet the work of an artist, with precious stones cut and set in gold... And a crown of gold [the Pope in his inauguration refused also the crown of the Sovereign Pontiff - the Papal tiara]... an ornament of honor: a work of power... No stranger was ever clothed with them, but only his children alone, and his grandchildren for ever (Ecclus., Sir. in non-Catholic versions, 45.9,12,13,14,16 - Ch. and vv. following the Sacred Latin Vulgate Bible).

A Traditional Papal Solemn Mass at the sanctuary of St. Peter's Basilica then like to a court of a king.
In the sanctuary have I come before Thee, to see Thy... glory.... and majesty (Ps. 62.3; 95.6) 

The Lord has place[d] him with princes, with the princes of his people (Ps. 112.8), in fact the very prince among them. Humility, which makes one simple, is a supernatural disposition which inclines him to take his proper place before God and no other. Therefore, St. Therese says that "humility is truth." To cut off what is superfluous is not the same thing as to do away with the resplendence of the divine majesty upon and through the Church, especially in her divine worship. Archbishop Fulton Sheen understood, in one of his works, "The Priest Is Not His Own" - even more so is the ruler of the House of God.

Sancte Ioseph,
constitutus esse dominus domus Dei et princeps omnis possessionis Eius,
intercede pro nobis!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

'Find' and 'Prove' One's Self?

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JMJ


"The Three Great Depths Which No Human Line Can Sound..."

"You can look back on your past life, and understand your sins as you did not understand them then; and when you come to die, your present character and your present life will be seen by you in a light, brighter and more intense than that under which you see them now. Look up therefore into the light of God's presence, and pray God to make you to know yourselves as He knows you, and to see yourselves as He sees you now; for when you have seen the worst of your sins, what are they, compared with those which God sees in you? Therefore, do not let us ever think that we know all our sins; do not let us imagine that we fully know our sinfulness. We are only beginning to learn it, and we shall have to learn it all our life.

There are three great depths which no human line can sound - the depth of our sinfulness, the depth of our unworthiness, and the depth of our nothingness. If you are beginning to learn those three things, happy are you. Be not afraid, the more you see your own sinfulness; and for this reason. Who is showing it t you? It is the light of the Spirit of God. It is He Who alone searches the heart, Who alone makes us know ourselves; and the more you see your own sinfulness, the truer pledge you have of His presence [He will convince the world of sin, Jn. 16.8; cf., our post "Sin And Its Malice (I)"]; that He is with you, that He is within you, that He is busied about your salvation. He is giving you a pledge and a promise that every sin you see He will help you to repent of, and every sin you repent of shall be washed away in the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, one last word. My final counsel to you this Lent is this: Try to know yourselves, try to learn during these days such knowledge of yourselves as you have never had before. Begin as if it were for the first time. Take the Ten Commandments: read them in the letter; understand them in the spirit; and try your life from your childhood, from your earliest memory, by the divine rule. Take the seven deadly sins, try yourselves by them, in deed, in word, and in thought. Pray to the Spirit of God, Whose work and office it is to convince the world of sin. Pray everyday in this Lent, morning and night, that the Spirit of God may illuminate your reason to understand the nature of sin, and convince your conscience, that you may know what sins [weigh heavily in you]. Pray to Him that the light of the presence of God may come down upon you like the light of the noonday, that you may not see not only the broad outlines of your sins, but your finer and more delicate and more subtle offences against God, even as we see the motes which float in the sunbeam of the noonday.

The more you have the presence of God with you, the more the light of His perfections is upon you, the more you will see yourselves. The Patriarch Job, who, though, he had long lived in prayer, in converse and in communion with God, and had been grievously afflicted (which more than any other discipline brings men to know themselves) - nevertheless, at the end of all his trials, when God spoke to him out of the light of His presence, said: "With the hearing of the ear I have heard thee, but now Mine eye seeth thee; wherefore I condemn myself, and do penance in dust and ashes" (42.5-6). - from a Sermon of Henry Edward Cardinal Manning

See also: "Sin And Its Malice (II)"

Sunday, March 10, 2013

"Quare Moriemini?"

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JMJ

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Why will you die...? (Ezech. 18.31)

"On the Tender Compassion Which Jesus Christ Entertains Towards Sinners"
A Sermon of St. Alphonsus Mary Liguori (Bishop and Doctor of the Church)

WE read in this day’s gospel that, having gone up into a mountain with his disciples, and seeing a multitude of five thousand persons, who followed him because they saw the miracles which he wrought on them that were diseased, the Redeemer said to St. Philip: Whence shall we huy bread, that these may eat? Lord, answered St. Philip, two-hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient that every one may take a little. St. Andrew then said: There is a boy here that has five barley loaves and two fishes; but what are these among so many? But Jesus Christ said: Make the men sit down. And he distributed the loaves and fishes among them. The multitude were satisfied: and the fragments of bread which remained filled twelve baskets. The Lord wrought this miracle through compassion for the bodily wants of these poor people; but far more tender is his compassion for the necessities of the souls of the poor that is, of sinners who are deprived of the divine grace. This tender compassion of Jesus Christ for sinners shall be the subject of this day’s discourse.

Through the bowels of his mercy towards men, who groaned under the slavery of sin and Satan, our most loving Redeemer descended from heaven to earth, to redeem and save them from eternal torments by his own death. Such was the language of St. Zachary, the father of the Baptist, when the Blessed Virgin, who had already become the mother of the Eternal Word, entered his house. Through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us (Luke i. 78).

Jesus Christ, the good pastor, who came into the world to obtain salvation for us his sheep, has said: I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly (John x.10). Mark the expression, more abundantly which signifies that the Son of Man came on earth not only to restore us to the life of grace which we lost, but to give us a better life than that which we forfeited by sin. Yes; for as St. Leo says, the benefits which we have derived from the death of Jesus are greater than the injury which the devil has done us by sin (Ser. I., de Ascen.). The same doctrine is taught by the Apostle, who says that, where sin abounded, grace did more abound (Rom. v. 20).

But, my Lord, since thou hast resolved to take human flesh, would not a single prayer offered by thee be sufficient for the redemption of all men? What need, then, was there of leading a life of poverty, humiliation, and contempt, for thirty- three years, of suffering a cruel and shameful death on an infamous gibbet, and of shedding all thy blood by dint of torments? I know well, answers Jesus Christ, that one drop of My Blood, or a simple prayer, would be sufficient for the salvation of the world; but neither would be sufficient to show the love which I bear to men: and therefore, to be loved by men when they should see Me dead on the cross for the love of them, I have resolved to submit to so many torments and to so painful a death. This, he says, is the duty of a good pastor. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep... I lay down my life for my sheep (John x. 11, 15).

O men, O men, what greater proof of love could the Son of God give us than to lay down his life for us his sheep? In this we have known the charity of God; because he hath laid down his life for us (I John iii. 16). No one, says the Saviour, can show greater love to his friends than to give his life for them. Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John xv. 13). But thou, O Lord, hast died not only for friends, but for us who were thy enemies by sin. When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son (Rom. v. 10). "O infinite love of our God," exclaims St. Bernard;”to spare slaves, neither the Father has spared the Son, nor the Son himself." To pardon us, who were rebellious servants, the Father would not pardon the Son, and the Son would not pardon himself, but, by his death, has satisfied the divine justice for the sins which we have committed.

When Jesus Christ was near his passion he went one day to Samaria: the Samaritans refused to receive him. Indignant at the insult offered by the Samaritans to their Master, St. James and St. John, turning to Jesus, said: Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them? (Luke ix. 54). But Jesus, who was all sweetness, even to those who insulted him, answered: ”You know not of what spirit you are. The Son of Man came not to destroy souls, but to save (vv. 55 and 50). He severely rebuked the disciples. What spirit is this, he said, which possesses you? It is not my spirit: mine is the spirit of patience and compassion; for I am come, not to destroy, but to save the souls of men: and you speak of fire, of punishment, and of vengeance. Hence, in another place, he said to his disciples: Learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart (Matt. xi. 29). I do not wish of you to learn of me to chastise, but to be meek, and to bear and pardon injuries.

How beautiful has he described the tenderness of his heart towards sinners in the following words: What man of you that hath an hundred sheep: and, if he lose one of them, doth he not leave ninety-nine in the desert, and go after that which is lost until he find it: and when he hath found it, lay it upon his shoulder rejoicing; and coming home, call together his friends and neighbours, saying to them: Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost? (Luke xv. 4, 5, and 6). But, Lord, it is not thou that oughtest to rejoice, but the sheep that has found her pastor and her God. The sheep indeed, answers Jesus, rejoices at finding me, her shepherd; but far greater is the joy which 1 feel at having found one of my lost sheep. He concludes the parable in these words: I say to you, that even so there shall be joy in heaven, for one sinner that doth penance, more than upon ninety-nine just, who need not penance (Luke xv. 7). There is more joy in heaven at the conversion of one sinner, than upon ninety-nine just men who preserve their innocence. What sinner, then, can be so hardened as not to go instantly and cast himself at the feet of his Saviour, when he knows the tender love with which Jesus Christ is prepared to embrace him, and carry him on his shoulders, as soon as he repents of his sins?

The Lord has also declared his tenderness towards penitent sinners in the parable of the Prodigal Child. (Luke xv. 12, etc.) In that parable the Son of God says, that a certain young man, unwilling to be any longer under the control of his father, and desiring to live according to his caprice and corrupt inclinations, asked the portion of his fathers substance which fell to him. The father gave it with sorrow, weeping over the ruin of his son. The son departed from his father’s house. Having in a short time dissipated his substance, he was reduced to such a degree of misery that, to procure the necessaries of life, he was obliged to feed swine. All this was a figure of a sinner, who, after departing from God, and losing the divine grace and all the merits he had acquired, leads a life of misery under the slavery of the devil. In the gospel it is added that the young man, seeing his wretched condition, resolved to return to his father: and the father, who is a figure of Jesus Christ, seeing his son return to him, was instantly moved to pity. His father saw him, and was moved with compassion (v. 20); and, instead of driving him away, as the ungrateful son had deserved, running to him, he fell upon his neck and kissed him. He ran with open arms to meet him, and, through tenderness, fell upon his neck, and consoled him by his embraces. He then said to his servants: Bring forth quickly the first robe, and put it on him. According to St. Jerome and St. Augustine, the first robe signifies the divine grace, which, in addition to new celestial gifts, God, by granting pardon, gives to the penitent sinner [cf., the Neo-Catholic 'Theology' of Vatican II]." And put a ring on his finger. Give him the ring of a spouse. By recovering the grace of God, the soul becomes again the spouse of Jesus Christ. And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat and make merry (v. 23). Bring hither the fatted calf which signifies the Holy Communion, or Jesus in the [Blessed] Sacrament mystically killed and offered in sacrifice on [our traditional high] altar [We have an altar, proclaims St. Paul the Apostle, Heb. xiii.10]; let us eat and rejoice. But why, divine Father, so much joy at the return of so ungrateful a child? Because, answered the Father, this my son was dead, and he is come to life again; he was lost, and I have found him.

This tenderness of Jesus Christ was experienced by the sinful woman (according to St. Gregory, Mary Magdalene) who cast herself at the feet of Jesus, and washed them with her tears. (Luke vii. 47 and 50.) The Lord, turning to her with sweetness, consoled her by saying: Thy sins are forgiven;... thy faith hath made thee safe; go in peace (Luke vii. 48 and 50). Child, thy sins are pardoned; thy confidence in me has saved thee; go in peace. It was also felt by the man who was sick for thirty-eight years, and who was infirm, both in body and soul. The Lord cured his malady, and pardoned his sins. Behold, says Jesus to him, thou art made whole; sin no more, lest some worse thing happen to thee (John v. 14). The tenderness of the Redeemer was also felt by the leper who said to Jesus Christ: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean (Matt. viii. 2). Jesus answered: I will: be thou made clean (v. 3). As if he said: Yes; I will that thou be made clean; for I have come down from heaven for the purpose of consoling all: be healed, then, according to thy desire. And forthwith his leprosy was cleansed.

We have also a proof of the tender compassion of the Son of God for sinners, in his conduct towards the woman caught in adultery. The scribes and pharisees brought her before him, and said: This woman was even now taken in adultery. Now Moses, in the law, commands us to stone such a one. But what sayest thou? (John viii. 4 and 5). And this they did, as St. John says, tempting him. They intended to accuse him of transgressing the law of Moses, if he said that she ought to be liberated; and they expected to destroy his character for meekness, if he said that she should be stoned. “Si dicat lapidandam," says St. Augustine, ”famam perdet mansuetudinis; sin dimmitteudam, transgressæ legis accusabitur." (Tract, xxxiii. in Ioann.). But what was the answer of our Lord? He neither said that she should be stoned nor dismissed; but, bowing himself down, he wrote with his finger on the ground. The interpreters say that, probably, what he wrote on the ground was a text of Scripture admonishing the accusers of their own sins, which were, perhaps, greater than that of the woman charged with adultery. He then lifted himself up, and said to them: He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her (v . 7). The scribes and pharisees went away one by one, and the woman stood alone. Jesus Christ, turning to her, said: Hath no one condemned thee? neither will I condemn thee. Go, and now sin no more (v. 11). Since no one has condemned you, fear not that you shall be condemned by me, who hath come on earth, not to condemn, but to pardon and save sinners: go in peace, and sin no more.

Jesus Christ has come, not to condemn, but to deliver sinners from hell, as soon as they resolve to amend their lives. And when he sees them obstinately bent on their own perdition, he addresses them with tears in the words of Ezechiel: Why will you die, O house of Israel? (xviii. 31). My children, why will you die? Why do you voluntarily rush into hell, when I have come from heaven to deliver you from it by death? He adds: you are already dead to the grace of God. But I will not your death: return to me, and I will restore to you the life which you have lost. For I desire not the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: return ye and live (v. 32). But some sinners, who are immersed in the abyss of sin, may say: Perhaps, if we return to Jesus Christ, he will drive us away. No; for the Redeemer has said: And him that cometh to me I will not cast out (John vi. 37). No one that comes to Me with sorrow for his past sins, however manifold and enormous they may have been, shall be rejected.

Behold how, in another place, the Redeemer encourages us to throw ourselves at his feet with a secure hope of consolation and pardon. Come to Me, all you that labour and are burdened, and I will refresh you (Matt. xi. 28). Come to Me, all ye poor sinners, who labour for your own damnation, and groan under the weight of your crimes; come, and I will deliver you from all your troubles. Again, he says, Come and accuse me, saith the Lord; if your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made white as snow; and if they be red as crimson, they shall be made white as wool (Isa. i. 18). Come with sorrow for the offences you committed against Me, and if I do not give you pardon, accuse me. As if he said: upbraid Me; rebuke Me as a liar; for I promise that, though your sins were of scarlet that is, of the most horrid enormity your soul, by My Blood, in which I shall wash it, will become white and beautiful as snow [cf., our post "Poenitentiam Agite!/Do Penance!"].

Let us then, sinners, return instantly to Jesus Christ. If we have left him, let us immediately return, before death overtakes us in sin and sends us to hell [cf., our post "On the Number of Sins Beyond Which God Pardons No More"], where the mercies and graces of the Lord shall, if we do not amend, be so many swords which shall lacerate the heart for all eternity [cf., our post "On the Remorse of the Damned"].




Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sin And Its Malice (II)

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JMJ

Every sin that is committed, is committed against the light and grace of the Holy Spirit in the conscience; and in this there are three degrees. We may grieve the Holy Ghost, we may resist the Holy Ghost, and we may quench the Holy Ghost. Our Divine Lord has said: Every sin and every blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, except the blasphemy of the Holy Ghost; and if any man shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall never be forgiven him in this world nor in the world to come (Mt. 12.31-32). Now what is the meaning of this? A man may speak against Jesus Christ, nay, blaspheme his Lord; and the Holy Spirit, convincing him of sin, may bring him to repentance, may convert him to God, and his soul may be saved; but any man who commits mortal sin and refuses repentance, thereby blasphemes the Holy Ghost, Who Is the Spirit of Penance, the Spirit of Absolution, the Absolver of the penitent. Such a sinner rejects the whole dispensation of grace; and, therefore, the sin that shall never be forgiven is the sin of impenitence. Every sin that men repent of shall be forgiven, but the sin of that is not repented of shall never be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in the world to come [that is, in what the Church, the ground and pillar of the truth (1 Tim. 3.15), teaches to be the Purgatory; for, in hell there is no forgiveness while in heaven only those who have repa[id] the last farthing (Mt. 5.26) are admitted].

.... We have here two working principles. The first is this: no one is so blind to his own sins as the man who has the most sin upon him. If a man is plague-stricken, he can see it by the discoloration of the skin. If the scales of leprosy are coming up upon his arm, he can tell that he is a leper. If a cloud is growing over the pupil of the eyes, he can tell that he is losing the light of heaven. All the diseases of the body make themselves known emphatically; but it is the subtlety and danger and deadliness of sin that it conceals itself. No men know the light of God's presence so little as those who are covered with sin; and the more sin they have upon them the less they can see it. Though all the perfections of God, like the rays of the sun which encircle the head of the blind man, are round about them all the day long, they are unconscious of His presence. They are like Elymas, the magician, who, for his impiety, had scales upon his eyes; and because they do not see the light of God, therefore they do not see His perfections, and therefore they do not see themselves; for the light of the knowledge of self comes from the light of the knowledge of God. How shall a man know what unholiness is, if he does not know what holiness is? How shall he know what falsehood is, if he does not what truth is; or impurity, if he does not know purity; or impiety, if he does not know the duty we owe to God, and the majesty of God, to Whom worship is due? Just in the proportion in which the light of the perfections of God is clouded, we lose the light of the knowledge of ourselves; and the end of it is that when men hear... "That is just the character of my neighbor - that is the very picture of my brother"; they do not see themselves in the glass. You may describe their character, and they will not recognize it; you may tell them, "This is your self," and they will not believe it. There is something within them which darkens the conscience; and why is it? Because sin stupefies the intellect and the heart: it draws a veil and a mist over the brightness of the intelligence, and it darkens the light of the conscience. Sin is like hemlock: it deadens the sense, so that the spiritual eye begins to close, and the spiritual ear becomes heavy, and the heart grows drowsy. And when men have brought themselves to that state by their own free will, then comes the judgment of God: I will give them eyes that they may not see, ears that they may not hear, hearts that they may not understand, lest they should be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Isaias, when he saw His glory and spoke of Him (Jn. 12.40-41). [From a Sermon of Henry Edward Cardinal Manning]

Related post: "On Impenitence". See also: "Sin And Its Malice (I)", "On the Remorse of the Damned", "On the Number of Sins Beyond Which God Pardons No More"

Salvation is in the "Blood of the Lamb"

Apocalypse XIV now unfolding (cf., our posts "The Wine of the Wrath of God" and "After Pope Benedict XVI, the 'Last' Roman Pontiff?"). The divine chastisement of world-wide conflagration (Lk. 17.29-30, cf., our post "Our Lady, Vatican II Disorientation, and the Annihilation of Many Nations") to annihilate the 'super-power' and cities and nations drunk with the wine of its immodesty, impurity, fornication, homosexuality, and blasphemies (Apoc. 14.8) is imminent - the close of our end-times period (distinct from the consummation of the world, Mt. 28.20).

They... have made them white in the Blood of the Lamb
(Apoc. 7.14) ... All things... are cleansed with Blood: and without shedding of Blood there is no remission (Heb. 9.22).

The Blood of the [Divine] Lamb can be availed of in the traditional Rite of the Sacrament of Penance (cf., our post "On Concealing Sins in Confession") and of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist (the Traditional Latin Mass). Go to our traditional Catholic Mass Centers (links on the left-side bar of this site). Flee to the mountains... (Mt. 24.16).

See also the Messages and Appeals (on the upper right-side bar) of the Apocalyptic Woman in her title of Our Lady of Fatima.