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

Sunday, November 27, 2011

God Comes to Disturb Us


First Sunday of Advent

... It is now the hour for us to rise from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is passed and the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light... the Lord Jesus Christ (Epistle of Today's Mass, Rom. 13.11-14)

We rejoice in recovering the valuable possessions we have lost. But how much shall we greatly rejoice in regaining those that have been irreparably lost?

At this time of the Christian liturgical calendar, the whole of Christendom awaits the coming of the Savior Jesus Christ that He might destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn. 3.8). God's coming to our lives brings to us our real image and with it the restoration of our dignity once shattered when we rebelled against the order God has designed for us. He came to His own... as many as received Him, He gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in His Name... (Jn. 1.11,12). 

Once, He called us to His sons through Baptism. This time, He calls us to perfect that image and likeness. For us His Teresian Carmelite religious children, this is through a very special way of life which is but an intensification of the new life in Christ we already received through Baptism, recovered through the Sacrament of Penance, and nourished in and sustained by the Holy Eucharist. God calls us to shine forth more like the noonday sun amidst the Church and the world now becoming more and more effaced of the signs and symbols of His image and presence.

... To be made* the sons of God... (Jn. 1.12): To live according to this image is demanding and testing because of the 'severities' it imposes or rather the way it should permanently imprint on our souls. This is the reason why God gives us the power (ibid.), that is, His grace - through prayer, the Sacraments, and by the use of Sacramentals (such as the wearing of the Scapular, the religious garb or "habit" of us who belong to the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel). God begins this restoration, supplies all that is needed, and the only One still Who perfects what He has begun. On our part, we have to work with determination and abandonment on what He supplies us and listen to His foreman (that is, the Church, but through her orthodox pastors and spiritual directors).  
* The "New" versions all render it "to become" as if this spiritual regeneration and transformation is by our natural powers and not by the operation of the Holy Ghost [thus paving the way to the Pelagian heresy of the 5th century which "held that by nature, man can perform good works that merit salvation without the grace of God with the role of Christ as only that of an "example" or "instruction"; that the prompting of God's grace is not necessary, either for the beginning or the accomplishment of a meritorious act; that man chooses virtue by his own natural power" (T. Nelson, "Which Bible Should You Read," p.89); and, to the Semi-Pelagian heresy which "held that grace is necessary for the accomplishment of good works, but not for their initiation or beginning, which man initially chooses by his free will unaided by God's grace" (ibid.).].
As sons, we are given again the right and privilege to participate (to share) in the life of God through Our Lord Jesus Christ. As heirs, we take possession of no other inheritance but God. When God comes, He embraces and takes possession of us once more as His long-lost sons and we have to run towards Him, to embrace Him, and take possession of Him in return simply because we have no other one to turn to. Truly, what a rejoicing reunion. However, this perfect union and rejoicing can be realized only in heaven. 

 Novus Ordo Discalced Carmelite priests and their
 church - a "new/updated image"
Just the same, this blessed life has already begun in us. This is what our Holy Church calls a foretaste of the life we are hoping for. For us the Discalced religious of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the perfection of this supernatural life begun in Baptism has commenced with the reception of our distinguishing mark as God's Discalced Carmelite religious children: the Carmelite habit - the Scapular of Our Lady - on the day of our clothing. As such the Church demands, as she has always done through the decrees of the successors of St. Peter and her Canon Law, of us as her signs as well to manifest the distinctive presence and identity of God's Kingdom "affecting ways of acting, attire and style of life" (Vatican Congregation for Religious Institutes, "Essential Elements of Church's Teaching on Religious Life," 10). Pope John Paul II, exhorting the religious in 1979: “I say: rejoice to be witnesses to Christ in the modern world. Do not hesitate to be recognizable, identifiable in the streets as men and women who have consecrated their lives to God and who have given up everything worldly to follow Christ. Believe that contemporary men and women set value on visible signs of consecration of your lives. People need signs and reminders of God in the modern secular city, which has few reminders of God left. So do not help the trend towards ‘taking God off the streets by adapting secular modes of dress and behavior yourselves!” Cardinal Ciappi, O.P., in commending Friar Bernardo, O.F.M. for his "defense of the Catholic discipline" on the obligation of the religious to constantly wear their respective habits: "I hope that many priests and religious... shall be more obedient to the ecclesiastical Authority and proud to dress in the religious habit, as a sign of consecration to God and conformity to Jesus Christ, Who, as the Word of the Father, did humble Himself, dressing in human nature" (Letter of October 16, 1987). 

Now, merely to view God's advent in our lives this way and to experience at this external level of religious life the joy this holy season brings is to miss the whole picture and to reduce the expression of the profound Christmas joy into a sentimental one that quickly pops off as the season folds up. We shall only and surely miss the salvation of God if we do not take heed the other part of the equation, so to speak, of God's birth into our lives: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths. Every valley shall be filled; and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight; and the rough ways plain... (Lk. 3.4-5). Conversion shall be the test as the necessary indication and expression of God's intervening and transforming Incarnation. For, as Archbishop Fulton Sheen puts it, "the nearer Christ comes to a heart, the more it becomes conscious of its guilt; it will either ask for His mercy [and pardon] and find peace, or else it will turn against Him because it is not yet ready to give up its sinfulness."

God disturbs and confronts us to subscribe to God's light or to our own light, to the highest (spiritual) good - God Himself, no more no less - or the good we fancy, to God's absolute and eternal truths or to our own relative truths ("As for me..."). And there can be no midway in which we could play safe before the presence of God for I would you were cold or hot (Apoc. 3.15). No man sews a piece of raw cloth to an old garment... and no man puts new wine into old bottles (Mk. 2.21-22). The Lord at His coming provokes us to be not conformed to this world (Rom. 12.2), to be renewed in spirit of your mind; stripping the old man, who is corrupted according to the desire of error, with his deeds and put on the new man who is Christ... (Eph. 4.22-23; Gal. 3.27). For as the life of the Lord, through His image and likeness, His words and works, so much opposes the world's and the maxims which govern the latter, so must we who have opened our minds and hearts to Him and followed Him

Do religious men and women rejoice at the divine image Our Lord redeems for and imprints in us? If we say we are just being "broadminded" which means we are being "practical", that is, just flowing according to the current of the times, then we become seasonal, occasional, and ceremonial religious who, according to our holy Mother Teresa of Jesus, "enjoy God up there and the world down here." And like the godless that "create" their own image, we would end up disowned by God before His presence: I never knew you... (Mt. 7.23).

God comes to disturb us to clarify where our hearts are set upon. If we choose to set our hearts upon Him, then as His sons we must strive to meet the demands of His Heart by following the enduring path opened to us by the Child Jesus: conformity with God's eternal truths, commands and designs.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ascent to the Mount of Christian Perfection


Feast of St. John of the Cross 
Co-Reformer of St. Teresa of Jesus, Father of the Discalced Friars of the Order of the Bl.Virgin Mary, Doctor of the Church

Who shall ascend into the mountain of the Lord? (Ps. 23.3, DRV)

St. John of the Cross, in his work "The Ascent of Mt. Carmel," has left us a drawing which sums up, expresses in synthesis, the whole of spiritual life. It is the outline of a mountain which summit, the Cross of Our Lord (above) - symbolized by St. John in his illustration with a circular inscription: "only the Honor and Glory of God remains" - represents the state of Christian Perfection. The "Ascent" is symbolized by three paths, the goods of the earth: honor, repose, taste, liberty, science; the goods of heaven: glory, security, joy, consolation, knowledge; and, the narrowest, which alone reaches the summit, is the way of "nada" (Spanish which means "nothing") - the way of the Crucified's total abnegation and abandonment on the Cross. 

The soul arrives at this supreme height, when, like his Beloved Crucified, dominated by perfect charity - the love of Christ for His Father, first; and, His love for souls that they may be saved from the eternal torments reserved for the devils - he adheres totally to the divine will, and moved by that divine will alone, tends solely to the glory of the Most Holy TrinityThe path which leads to sanctity, that is, to God, can be marked out only by God Himself, by His willNot everyone that says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doth the will of My Father Who Is in heaven (Mt. 7.21). Therefore, the only road that can bring us to the summit of perfection is the rugged path of "nothing" which leaves aside the two easy roads of the "imperfect spirit" (that is, by using "creatures" or the goods of the earth and the goods of heaven as means to an end - which is, the eternal possession and enjoyment of God Himself, no more no less); these end half-way up the mountain and can go no farther. The imperfect spirit is one that is "attached" to the things of earth, or even to spiritual goods, using these goods in a disordered way and with a view to personal satisfaction.

In order to leave the "road of the imperfect spirit," we must no longer love anything, unless it be in perfect conformity with God's will. He that loveth father of mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me... (Mt. 10.37). In fact, every object which we love for itself and not according to God's will, becomes for us a source of preoccupation, desires, distress, and anxiety; it moves our hearts and makes us act only for our own satisfaction. In a soul attached to created things, how many principles of action there are which are not conformable to God's will! Such a soul finds itself on these "paths of the imperfect," which will never take it to the goal.

"God communicates Himself most to the soul that had progressed farthest in love: namely, that has his will in closest conformity with the will of God" (St. John of the Cross, "Ascent of Mt. Carmel," Bk. II, 5.4). In ordinary life, true love is manifested in willingness to do what pleases the person loved; in conforming oneself to his desires, tastes, and will, not willing anything which could displease him. The soul unites himself to God in the measure in which it is truly conformed to His will. True love of God consists in adhering perfectly to His holy will, not desiring to do or be other than what God indicates for each of us, to the point of becoming, as it were, "a living will of God." Seen in this light, sanctity is possible for every soul of good will; it is not impossible that a soul which leads a humble, hidden life, may adhere to the divine will as well and perhaps even better than a "great" saint who has received from God an exterior mission and has been enriched with mystical graces (such as visions, locutions and the like). The perfection of a soul may be measured by the degree to which he does the will of God, and finds his happiness in doing it. 

In all our actions we are always impelled by love: love of ourselves, love of creatures, or love of God. As long as the soul clings to the least thing contrary to God's will, that is, to some irregular attachment to self or creatures, it will often act, not under the impulse of God's love, but through a desire for personal satisfaction, or because of a disordered love of creatures, and therefore, will walk apart from God's will. Sin is not the only thing which is opposed to God's will; even the slightest imperfection or deliberate attachment prevents the soul from acting under the motion of God's will alone. It is evident that this union cannot be perfect as long as the soul resists the divine will, be it only in very small things, or does not accept it readily, or as long as it retains desires and tastes which, even in a very slight way, are not in harmony with the will of God. The whole spiritual ascent to divine union consists in a double movement, very simple but essential: despoiling oneself, like to the Crucified, of all that is displeasing to God, and renouncing all that is in opposition to His will, by conforming oneself to that will and fulfilling it with the greatest love. It is an extremely simple movement, but at the same time an all-embracing one, because it extends to every circumstance of life, without exception, so that in all things, the greatest as in the least, the soul acts in a manner that is in perfect conformity with the divine will. It is also a very profound movement which must reach even to the most secret recesses of the spirit, in order to free it from the least residue, the last resistances of egoism and pride, not only eliminating their manifestations but undermining their very roots. As long as this work of total purgation is incomplete, the soul's will cannot be totally conformed to that of God; its numerous imperfections and imperfect habits are still opposed to this entire conformity.

If we examine ourselves attentively, we shall see that our will is still very dissimilar to God's will. God wills only the good, and He wills it in the most perfect manner. We, on the contrary, often will evil in the guise of good or together with the good; moreover, we lack the strength to do the good that we will, and we realize it only imperfectly. Every time we commit any fault, even a simple imperfection, we desire something that God cannot will: these faults include slight acts of slothfulness, negligence, impatience; they may involve a subtle seeking of self or the affection and esteem of creatures; there could be numerous secondary motives which insinuate themselves into our actions. To attain to divine union all these must also be eliminated.

St. John of the Cross says expressly that it is not only beginners on the spiritual road,but even the "proficients" who are subject to many imperfection and still retain imperfect habits, proceeding especially from a subtle pride and spiritual egoism. As they have exercised themselves for a long time in the interior life, a certain presumption and self-assurance may easily creep in, through which these souls are exposed to failings in humility and reverence in their relations with God, while in their relations with their neighbor, they often fall into the weakness of desiring to be esteemed as perfect. Furthermore, as they are not entirely detached from themselves, they stop to enjoy, a bit egoistically, the spiritual consolations they receive in prayer; they thy distract themselves from seeking God alone, retard their union with Him, and even expose themselves to falling into the snares of imagination or of the devil (cf., "Dark Night," Bk. II, 2.2).

All this proves how deeply pride and egoism are rooted in us. Scarcely have we detached our hearts from earthly vanities and material goods, than we are immediately ready to attach ourselves to spiritual goods. Yet we must not despair of attaining divine union; we must seize the occasion of our misery to beg with greater insistence that Our Lord may deign to complete the work of our purification. Moreover, He desires it more than we ourselves, and if He does not effect it as He should, it is only because He finds us refractory, impatient, little disposed to accept in good part what humbles and mortifies us to the core. Yet this alone is the way to reach union with God.

When the soul no longer has any attachments, and is entirely free from love of self and of creatures (earthly or heavenly), it can adhere to God alone, acting only according to His will, and living moment by moment according to His good pleasure. The soul thus transformed has lost its will in the will of God and therefore is perfectly united to God Himself. This is the essence and the apex of sanctity.

"... To love is to labor to divest and deprive oneself for God of all that is not God."
-St. John of the Cross, 'Ascent of Mt. Carmel," Bk II, Ch. 5, 7

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Catholic Sanctuary Prefigured in the Old Testament (II)


Feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple

Look, and make it according to the pattern, that was shewn thee in the mount (Ex. 25.40).

Another distinguishing mark of the traditional Catholic sanctuary which points out to it as the greater and more perfect (Heb. 9.11) sanctuary* that is worthy (built according as God would have it; not according to the fancies of His ministers and of His people) of God dwelling in the midst of His people is the Communion rail (see the circumferential low-barrier structure in the picture below which separates the sanctuary, with its choir for the clergy and the tabernacle reserved at the high altar, from the area reserved for the congregation or the nave with its pews).
* Prefigured by the Holy Place (with its Holy of Holies or where the ark of the Covenant was) of the OT tabernacle, the heart of divine worship of the Hebrews during their wanderings in the desert, and, later, by the grand Jewish Temple in Jerusalem - now in ruins after that Our Lord pronounced chastisement against the Jews who rejected Him and had Him hung on the Cross.

When Moses led the Hebrews to the Mount of Sinai to meet God and render Him the homage due Him, in return for the deliverance God marvelously and miraculously wrought for them, God commanded him to set limits about the mount [now, the Catholic Communion rails], and sanctify it… lest they [the people] should have a mind to pass the limits to see the Lord, and a very great multitude of them should perish (Ex. 19.23,21). Without doubt, God, so near to us and waiting for His children to draw intimately to Him, conveys to us through this arrangement how pure our hearts must be not only of serious sins but also free of any attachment to venial sins and voluntary imperfections, and of worldliness with its corrupting standards, maxims, and ideas – just as His ministers that daily attend to Him at the high altar, standing before and speaking to Him face to face (Ex. 33.11), ought to – if we are to see Him face to face in heaven sooner or later.  Hence, we ought to live as a holy people separated… from other people (Lev. 20.26; that is, separated or immunized as it were from the sinfulness, immodesty, impiousness, and vulgarity of those who both deny God in their convoluted logic on the one hand and, on the other, of those who though  could not deny God by force of simple and natural reason yet practically live as if there is no God) for the Lord hath chosen [us] to be His peculiar people… higher [that is, by the divine Truth taught by Christ and handed down by the Apostles to their successors; and, the excelling moral standards laid down by the example of the life of Christ and His Saints] than all nations which He hath created (Deut. 26.18,19). This is only in accord with the order established by the Word of God: and there shall be like people like priests (Os. 4.9) for to the Levitical priests (the successors of whom are the Catholic priests ordained according to the traditional Rite of Ordinations) was this ordinance charged: Thou shalt be perfect, and without spot before the Lord thy God. These nations… hearken to soothsayers and diviners: but thou art otherwise instructed by the Lord thy God… for the Lord thy God hath chosen him of all thy tribes, to stand and to minister to the name of the Lord, him and his sons for ever (Deut. 18.13-14,5).

The abomination of desolation

Yesterday, the Last Sunday after Pentecost, we heard Our Lord in the Gospel uttered an Apocalyptic prophecy regarding the fate of His sanctuary: you shall see the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place (Mt. 24.15; cf., Dan.9.27). This would be accomplished by the precursors of the Antichrist and finally by the Antichrist himself with the ultimate aim of depriving the faithful their source of eternal life, that is, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: the continual sacrifice shall be taken away (Dan. 12.11). Fr. Haydock, in his great classic commentary assembled for the Catholic Douay-Rheims Bible (the ‘official’ English version of St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate Bible which in turn is the official Catholic translation of the Sacred Scriptures) says:  “The abomination of desolation was first partly fulfilled by divers profanations of the [OT] Temple**, as when the image of Caesar was set up by Pilate, and Adrian’s statue in the holy of holies [where the Ark of the Covenant, a figure of the Catholic tabernacle, was;  see our first post on “The Catholic Sanctuary Prefigured in the Old Testament"], and when the sacrifices were taken away; but will be more perfectly fulfilled by the Antichrist and his precursors when they shall attempt to abolish the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. St. Hyppolitus, in his treatise de Anti-Christo, mentioned by Eusebius, St. Jerome, Photius, thus writeth: ‘The churches shall lament with great lamentations, because there shall neither be made oblations [that is, the offering of the Sacred Host and Wine on the true altar of God as expiatory sacrifice], nor incense, nor worship grateful to God…. In those days, the liturgy (or Mass) shall be neglected…’ The continual  sacirifce shall be taken away (Dan. 12.11) which, by able commentators, is understood of the Sacrifice of the Mass, which Antichrist will endeavor to suppress” (in the Catholic Haydock Bible – considered to be the crown jewel of Christian literature, Commentary for Mt. 24.15).  
** Remember that these things were done in a figure of us… all these things happened to them in figure [of us]: and they are written for our correction, upon whom the ends of the world are come (St. Paul in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, 10.6,11).
the open sanctuary of the New Age "Catholic"
parish church; the limits about the sanctuary
(the Catholic communion rails) gone
Now, for the continual sacrifice to fail (Dan. 9.27) or be taken away and the abomination of desolation set up in its place, the precursors of the Antichrist and later the Antichrist himself would enter the churches and breach the barrier around the holy place or the sanctuary as it is spoken of in the Psalms: All their princes… have said: Let us possess the sanctuary of God for an inheritance… As with axes… they have cut down at once the gates thereof, with axe and hatchet they have brought it down (73.5; 82.12,13, chapters and verses enumeration according to the Sacred Latin Vulgate and DRV).  Communion rails destroyed and disposed off but without the grotesquely violent and sacrilegious rampage that then characterized the blazing hatred of Catholicisim of the early Lutheran and Calvinist revolutionaries and, of course, of the Communist-Freemasonic dummies of the Synagogue of Satan (Apoc. 2.9; 3.9) – now peacefully in the name of “Ecumenism” (see our post “Our ‘Great Reversal’”; also, “Our Lady of the Rosary and Vatican II Orientation”).

It must be remembered that Pope Paul VI, a few years after he wished that his Novus Ordo Missae (the “New Rite of Mass”) be celebrated*** since 1969, lamented: “The smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God” (“L’Osservatore Romano,” Vatican’s official paper, June 30, 1972, speech before the Novus Ordo seminarians of the Lombard College in Rome). But Cephas [now Pope Paul VI]... was to be blamed (St. Paul in resisting his superior, Epistle to the Galatians, 2.11). "We have perhaps been too weak and imprudent" ("L'Osservatore Romano," November 23,1973).
*** Thus supplanting the Traditional Catholic Mass in violation of the perpetual effectivity of the Papal Bull Quo Primum issued by Pope St. Pius V decreeing the said Traditional Catholic Mass in Latin to be the ‘norm’ of divine worship for all ages and even drawing down the “wrath of Almighty God and of the Apostles Peter and Paul” to those who would dare contravene the Decree.

"The Liturgical Reform is a
major conquest of the
Catholic Church"
(in "Notitiae," his official
journal as head of
Congregation for Divine
Worship abolished
by Pope Paul VI,
No. 92, Apr 1974, p.126)
Annibale Bugnini, a Vincentian priest (of the Congregation of the Missions) later promoted Archbishop by Pope Paul VI, was the ‘architect’ or more properly the inventor of the “fabricated liturgy” (Pope Benedict XVI as Cardinal Ratzinger in Revue Theologisches, Vol. 20, Feb. 1990, pgs. 103-104; also in Msgr. Gamber, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy) – or more specifically the New Mass or the Novus Ordo Missae). Pope Paul VI, after ‘imposing’ in 1969 his ‘wished’ for New Rite of “Worship”**** designed by Bugnini, banished this prelate to Iran in 1976 and abolished the Congregation for Divine Worship this same prelate used to head. And for this reason: Bugnini was a Freemason (Freemasonry was condemned by the Catholic Church as "Satanic.").  However, notwithstanding the Papal measure of banishing the evil hand that devised the “New Mass”, Pope Paul VI still allowed Bugnini’s “fabricat[ion],” the fruit of an evil hand, to supplant the Traditional Catholic Rite of Divine Worship or the Traditional Latin Mass.
**** With the schismatics (the Greek Orthodox, for example) and heretics (the Protestants or the "Bible-only" sectarians) finding nothing objectionable in the "Mass", such as, for the schismatics, the Filioque (that is, the Holy Ghost proceeding from the Father and the Son) of the Nicene Creed professed in the traditional Latin Mass and, for the heretics, “Real Presence” and “Transubstantiation”, should they find themselves attending a “Catholic worship service”.

The Masonic Lodge…

A "table" (foreground) and the "presidential" seats
(background) with the "presider" (the same term
used for the officiating Novus Ordo priest)
 seating at the middle

… Annibale Bugnini’s model for the “Catholic” sanctuary adopted or updated to the New Age...

a "table" and the more
eminent "presider's" chair at the
 ... Masonic revenge at Fatima*****

the Masonic-inspired "sanctuary" of the New Fatima Shrine
with its "table" and the most eminent
high "presider's" chair in the middle
***** When the Portuguese hierarchy solemnly consecrated their nation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the diabolical regime of the Freemasons was crushed and expelled by Our Lady [see our posts "The Great Sign in Heaven" and "When Mary Comes (III)"].

See what things the enemy hath done wickedly in the sanctuary.
And they that hate Thee have made their boasts, in the midst of Thy solemnity
(Ps. 73.3,4).

The Lord hath destroyed His tent as a garden, He hath thrown down His tabernacle…
The Lord hath cast off His altar, He hath cursed His sanctuary:
He hath delivered the walls of the towers thereof into the hand of the enemy:
They have made noise in the house of the Lord,
As in the day of a solemn feast
(Lam. 2.6,7).

To be continued… See: "Abominatio Desolationis"

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mary in the Sacred Scriptures: Our Help (I)


“The Promptitude of Mary in assisting those who invoke Her.”
by St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Doctor of the Church and Founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer

Ad te clamamus, exules filii Evæ (To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve).

Truly unfortunate are we poor children of Eve; for, guilty before God of her fault, and condemned to the same penalty, we have to wander about in this valley of tears as exiles from our country, and to weep over our many afflictions of body and soul. But blessed is he who, in the midst of these sorrows, often turns to the Comfortress of the world, to the refuge of the unfortunate, to the great Mother of God, and devoutly calls upon Her and invokes Her! Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates (Prov.8.34). Blessed, says Mary, is he who listens to my counsels, and watches continually at the gate of my mercy, and invokes my intercession and aid.

Ruth of Sacred Scriptures, whose name signifies “seeing and hastening”, was a figure of Mary; for She, seeing our miseries, hastens in Her mercy to succor us. In the greatness of Her desire to help us, She can not admit of delay, for She is in no way an avaricious guardian of the graces She has at Her disposal as Mother of Mercy, and can not do otherwise than immediately shower down the treasures of Her liberality on Her servants.

The Blessed Virgin not only runs but flies to assist him who invokes Her.  And there were given to the Woman two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the desert (Apoc. 12.14). She has the wings of an eagle, for She flies with the love of God. But more to our purpose, these wings of an eagle signify the velocity, exceeding that of the seraphim, with which Mary always flies to the succor of Her children.

This will explain the passage in the Gospel of St. Luke speaking of Our Blessed Mother’s visit to Her cousin Elizabeth . And Mary, rising up, went into the hill country with haste (Lk. 1.39). And this is not said of Her return.  Truly, She has the most ardent desire to console all, and is no sooner invoked than She accepts the prayers, and helps.

Nor should the multitude of our sins diminish our confidence in that Mary will grant our petitions when we cast ourselves at Her feet.  As a good mother does not shrink from applying a remedy to her child infected with ulcers, however numerous and revolting they may be, so also is our good Mother unable to abandon us when we have recourse to Her, that She may heal the wounds caused by our sins, however loathsome they may have rendered us.

This good Mother’s compassion is so great that the love She bears us is such, that She does not even wait for our prayers in order to assist us; but, as it is expressed in the Book of Wisdom, she preventeth them that covet her, so that she first showeth herself unto them. St. Anselm applies these words to Mary, and says that She is beforehand with those who desire Her protection. By this we are to understand that She obtains us many favors from God before we have recourse to Her. For this reason, She is called the moon, fair as the moon (Cant. 6.9), meaning, not only that She is swift as the moon in its course, by flying to the aid of those who invoke Her, but that She is still more so, for Her love for us is so tender, that in our wants She anticipates our prayers, and Her mercy is more prompt to help us than we are to ask Her aid.

Our Blessed Mother, even when living in this world, showed at the marriage-feast of Cana the great compassion that she would afterwards exercise towards us in our necessities, and which now, as it were, forces Her to have pity on us and assist us, even before we ask Her to do so. In the second chapter of St. Luke, we read that at this feast the compassionate Mother saw the embarrassment in which the bride and bridegroom were, and that they were quite ashamed on seeing the wine fail; and therefore, without being asked, and listening only to the dictates of Her compassionate heart, which could never behold the afflictions of others without feeling for them, She begged Her Son to console them simply by laying their distresses before Him: they have no wine (2.3). No sooner had She done so, than Our Lord, in order to satisfy all present, and still more to console the compassionate Heart of His Mother, who had asked the favor, worked the well-known miracle by which He changed the water, brought Him in jars, into wine. From this, if Mary, unasked, is thus prompt to succor the needy, how much more so will She be to succor those who invoke Her and ask for Her help?

St. Anselm, to increase our confidence, adds, that “when we have recourse to this divine Mother, not only we may be sure of Her protection, but that often we shall be heard more quickly, and be thus preserved, if we have recourse to Mary and call on Her holy name, than we should be if we called on the name of Jesus our Savior.” And the reason he gives for it is, “that to Jesus, as a judge, it belongs also to punish; but mercy alone belongs to the Blessed Virgin as a Patroness.” Meaning, that we more easily find salvation by having recourse to the Mother of than by going to the Son – not as if Mary was more powerful than Her Son to save us, for we know that Jesus Christ is our only Savior, and that He alone by His merits has obtained and obtains salvation for us; but it is for this reason: that when we have recourse to Jesus, we consider him at the same time as our judge, to Whom it belongs also to chastise ungrateful souls, and therefore the confidence necessary to be heard may fail us; but when we go to Mary, who has no other office than to compassionate us as Mother of mercy, and to defend us as our advocate, our confidence is  more easily established, and is often greater. “We often obtain more promptly what we ask by calling on the name of Mary than by invoking that of Jesus. Her Son is Lord and Judge of all, and discerns the merits of each one; and therefore if He does not immediately grant the prayers of all, He is just. When, however, the Mother’s name is invoked, though the merits of the suppliant are not such as to deserve that his prayer should be granted, those of the Mother supply that he may receive.”

Friday, November 18, 2011

Like to the Heart of Jesus: The Ego and the I (III)


Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls (Mt. 11.29).

"The Ego and the I" (III)
by. Abp. Fulton Sheen

The difference between the person in whom the ego, or selfishness, dominates and the person in whom the I, or personality, dominates spells the difference between false gaiety and true happiness, between neurotic and normal living.

The ego – the mask he will show the world – is the central interest of his life; all desires, thoughts, and affections, are valued in respect to this. The I, or the real self, which bears the Divine Image, is very weak in him and influences only a small area of the circumference of his life.

In a normal person, the situation is reversed. The personality (which is rooted in God) has taken over the center of life, while the ego of selfishness is so superficial as to be barely noticeable. But this does not mean that the individual personality has been lost; indeed, it is stronger and much more individual than in the case of an ego-dominated man. The I, the true personality, is what the philosophers call “subsistent” – that is, it is able to return to its own essence, to coincide with itself, to see itself as it really is, and to know itself by reflection. Each human personality is so inviolable that it stands out, against all other personalities, as unique, incommunicable, and absolutely distinct. Because of his personality, or I, even man is a precious mystery. He cannot be weighed by public opinion; he cannot be measured by his conditionings; he belongs to no one but himself, and no creature in all the world can penetrate his mystery except the God Who made him. The dignity of every I is beyond  our reckoning.

But the ego is made to the image and likeness of the spirit of the world in which it lives, as the I is made to the image and likeness of the eternal God. The ego is a conformist; it is “adjusted” to its times; but the Sacred Scriptures warn: Be not conformed to the world (Rom. 12.2). The I has attained inner freedom, through transcendence of the worldly. The ego is always self-centered; the personality, because it is essentially a mystery, is willing to soar beyond the self if it can return to its source. The ego wants the world to serve it; the wants to serve [God and others for God’s sake]. Egocentricity always leads to self-deception; for by its very nature the ego seeks to smother the I with its eagerness for effort. The ego flies from truth, because it knows that truth would be its undoing.  The I, or personality, seeks truth, for it knows truth would be its flowering and perfection. Liars are always persons whose egos are fiercely prized.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mary in the Sacred Scriptures: Our Hope (II)


Mary in the Sacred Scriptures: the Hope of Sinners (II)

“Mary is the Hope of Sinners”
By St. Alphonsus Liguori

In the first chapter of the Book of Genesis we read the God made two great lights; a greater light to rule the day; and a lesser light to rule the night (v.16). “Christ is the greater light to rule the just, and Mary the lesser light to rule the sinners;” meaning that the sun is a figure of Jesus Christ, Whose light is enjoyed by the just who live in the clear day of divine grace; and that the moon is a figure of Mary, by whose means those who are in the night of sin are enlightened. Since Mary is this auspicious luminary, and is so for the benefit of poor sinners, should any one have been so unfortunate as to fall into the night of sin, what is he to do? Pope Innocent III replies, “Whoever is in the night of sin, let him cast his eyes on the moon, let him implore Mary.” Since he has lost the light of the sun of justice by losing the grace of God, let him turn to the moon, and beseech Mary; and She will certainly give him the light to see the misery of his state, and strength to leave it without delay.

One of the titles which is the most encouraging to poor sinners, and under which the Church teaches us to invoke Mary in the Litany of Lorreto, is that of Refugium peccatorum (“Refuge of sinners”). In Judea in ancient times there were cities of refuge, in which criminals who fled there for protection were exempt from the punishments which they had deserved. Nowadays… there is but one, and that is Mary, of Whom the Psalmist says Glorious things are said of thee, O city of God (86.3). But this City differs from the ancient ones in this respect – that in the latter all kinds of criminals did not find refuge, nor was the protection extended to every class of crime; but under the mantle of Mary all sinners, without exception, find refuge for every sin that they may have committed, provided only that they go there to seek for this protection.  And it is sufficient to have recourse to Her, for whoever has the good fortune to enter this city need not speak to be saved. Assemble yourselves, and let us enter into the fenced city, and let us be silent there (Jer. 8.14). This City, says St. Albert the Great, is the most Holy Virgin fenced in with grace and glory. And let us be silent there, that is, “because we dare not invoke the Lord, Whom we have offended, She will invoke and ask. For if we do not presume to ask our Lord to forgive us, it will suffice to enter this City and be silent, for Mary will speak and ask all that we require. And for this reason, “Fly, O Adam and Eve, and all you their children, who outraged God; fly, and take refuge in the bosom of this good Mother; know you not that She is our only City of refuge?”

St. Ephrem salutes this Blessed Virgin in the following words: “Hail, refuge and hospital of sinners!” St. Basil of Seleucia remarks, “that if God granted to some who were only His servants such power, that not only their touch but even their shadows healed the sick, who were placed for this purpose in the public streets, how much greater power must we suppose that He has granted to Her who was not only His handmaid but His Mother?” We may indeed say that Our Lord has given us Mary as a public infirmary, in which all who are sick, poor, and destitute can be received. But now… in hospitals erected expressly for the poor, who have the greatest claim to admission? Certainly the most infirm, and those who are in the greatest need.

And for this reason should any one find himself devoid of merit and overwhelmed with spiritual infirmities, that is to say, sin, he can thus address Mary: O Lady, thou art the refuge of the sick poor; reject me not; for as I am the poorest and the most infirm of all, I have the greatest right to be welcomed by thee.

In the revelation of St. Bridget, Mary is called the “Star preceding the Sun,” giving us thereby to understand, that when devotion towards the divine Mother begins to manifest itself in a soul that is in a state of sin, it is a certain mark that before long God will enrich it with his grace. The glorious St. Bonaventure, in order to revive the confidence of sinners in the protection of Mary, place before them the picture of a tempestuous sea, into which sinners have already fallen from the ship of divine grace; they are already dashed about on every side by remorse of conscience and by fear of the judgments of God; they are without light or guide, and are on the point of losing the last breath of hope and falling into despair; then it is that Our Lord, pointing out Mary to them, who is commonly called Stella Maris (“Star of the Sea”), raises His voice and says, “O poor lost sinners, despair not; raise up your eyes, and cast them on this beautiful star; breathe again with confidence, for it will save you from this tempest, and will guide you into the port of salvation.” St. Bernard says the same thing: “If thou wouldst not be lost in the tempest, cast thine eyes on the star, and invoke Mary.”

A devout writer declares that “She is the only refuge of those who have offended God, the asylum of all who are oppressed by temptation, calamity, or persecution. The Mother is all mercy, benignity, and sweetness, not only to the just, but also to despairing sinners; so that no sooner does She perceive them coming to Her, and seeking Her health from their hearts, than She aids them, welcomes them, and obtains their pardon from Her Son. She knows not how to despise any one, however unworthy he may be of mercy, and therefore denies Her protection to none; She consoles all, and is no sooner called upon than She helps whoever it may be that invokes Her. She by Her sweetness often awakens and draws sinners to Her devotion who are the most at enmity with God ad the most deeply plunged in the lethargy of sin; and then, by the same means, She excites them effectually, and prepares them for grace, and thus renders them fit for the kingdom of heaven… It is impossible for any one to perish who attentively, and with humility, cultivates devotion towards this divine Mother.”

In the Book of Ecclesiasticus, May is called a plane-tree­: As a plane-tree I was exalted (24.19). And She is so-called that sinners may understand that as the plane-tree gives shelter to travelers from the heat of the sun, so does Mary invite them to take shelter under Her protection from the wrath of God, justly enkindled against them. St. Bonaventure remarks that the Prophet Isaias complained of the times in which he lived, saying, Behold Thou art angry, and we have sinned… there is none… that riseth up and taketh hold of thee (64.5). And then he makes the following commentary: “It is true, O Lord, that at the time there was none to raise up sinners and withhold Thy wrath, for Mary was not yet born; before Mary there was no one who could thus dare to restrain the arm of God. But now, if God is angry with a sinner, and Mary takes him under Her protection, She withholds the avenging arm of Her Son, and saves him.  Richard of St. Laurence says that “God, before the birth of Mary, complained by the mouth of the Prophet Ezechiel that there was no one to rise up and withhold Him from chastising sinners, but that He could find no one, for this office was reserved for Our Blessed Lady, who withholds His arm until He is pacified [so to speak].”

This Mother of mercy has so great a desire to save the most abandoned sinners, that She Herself goes in search of them, in order to help them; and if they have recourse to Her, She knows how to find the means to render them acceptable to God. The Patriarch Isaac, desiring to eat of some wild animal, promised his blessing to his son Esau on his procuring this food for him; but Rebecca, who was anxious that her other son Jacob should receive the blessing, called him and said,  Go thy way to the flock, bring me two kids of the best, that I may make of them meat for thy father, such as he gladly eateth (Gen. 27.9). St. Antoninus says, “that Rebecca was a figure of Mary, who commands the angels to bring Her sinners (meant by kids), that She may adorn them in such a way (by obtaining for them sorrow and purpose of amendment) as to render them dear and acceptable to the Lord.”

The Blessed Virgin Herself revealed to St. Bridget “that there is no sinner in the world, however much he may at enmity with God, who does not return to Him and recover His grace, if he has recourse to Her and asks Her assistance.” The same St. Bridget one day heard Jesus Christ address His Mother, and say the “She would be ready to obtain the grace of God for Lucifer himself, if only he humbles himself  so far as to seek Her aid.” That proud spirit will never humble himself so far as to implore the protection of Mary.

Noah’s ark was a true figure of Mary; for as in it all kinds of beasts were saved, so under the mantle of Mary all sinners, who by their vices and sensuality are already like beasts, find refuge; but with this difference… that “while the brutes that entered the Ark remained brutes, the wolf remaining a wolf, and a tiger a tiger, under the mantle of Mary, on the other hand, the wolf becomes a lamb, and the tiger a dove.”

It is related also in the Sacred Scriptures that Booz allowed Ruth to gather the ears of corn, after the reapers (Ruth 2.3). St. Bonaventure says, “that as Ruth found favor with Booz, so has Mary found favor with Our Lord, and is also allowed to gather the ears of corn after the reapers. The reapers followed by Mary are all evangelical laborers, missionaries, preachers, and confessors, who are constantly reaping souls for God. But there are some hardened and rebellious souls which are abandoned even by these. To Mary alone it is granted to save them by Her powerful intercession.” Truly unfortunate are they if they do not allow themselves to be gathered, even by this most sweet Lady. They will indeed be most certainly lost and accursed.

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.