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

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christian Dedication and Consecration (II)


Feast of St. John of the Cross
Our Father, Confessor, and Doctor of the Church

".... Later," continues St. Francis de Sales, "Our Lord carries us and does in us works altogether performed [by Him], by which I mean that it seems that we do nothing." This marks that "happy night" which St. John of the Cross speaks of in his Ascent of Mount Carmel when the soul  goes forth, being led by God, to a more perfectly intimate union with Him - "for love of Him alone, enkindled in love of Him, upon a dark night, which is the privation and purgation of all its sensual [not something entirely connected with lust but rather, in the strictly Scholastic term, perception through the senses] desires, with respect to all outward things of the world and to those which were delectable to its flesh, and likewise with respect to the desires of its will."

"Oh," exclaims St. Francis de Sales, "how happy are the souls who through life this way and leave the arms of the Divine majesty only to walk and do on their part what they can in the practice of virtue and good works, still always holding on to the hand of Our Lord!" But alas, our holy Father John observes: "it is sad to see many souls to whom God gives both aptitude and favor with which to make progress (and who, if they would take courage, could attain to this high estate), remaining in an elementary stage of communion with God for want of will, or knowledge, or because there is none who will lead them in the right path, or teach them how to get away from these beginnings. And at length, although Our Lord grants them such favor as to make them to go onward without this hindrance or that, they arrive at their goal very much later, and with great labor, yet with less merit, because they have not conformed themselves to God, and allowed themselves to be brought freely into the pure and sure road of union. For although it is true that God is leading them, and that He can lead them without their own help, they will not allow themselves to be led; and thus, they make less progress, because they resist Him Who Is leading them, and they have less merit, because they apply not their will, and on this account they suffer more." And to drive this point more poignantly, the same Doctor of Teresian Carmel: "These are souls... like children, who, when their mothers desire to carry them in their arms, start stamping and crying, and insist upon being allowed to walk, with the result that they can make no progress; and if they advance at all, it is only at the pace of a child."

"Let us pass on now," enjoins St. Francis, "to the third point, which is the absolute surrender... to the Divine Majesty. It is thus that we must give ourselves totally to the Lord because the Savior does not want us to do what He Himself cannot do - which is to give Himself to us partially. His goodness is so great that He wishes to give Himself to us totally. Similarly, He desires, and it is only just, that we give ourselves to Him without reserve - with perfect abnegation: that is, with that generosity that dares even rival the generosity of the love the Crucified lavished on God - by complete conformity to His loving and saving designs - and upon us. I know that people of the world give themselves to God in their fashion, but I am not speaking of them - but of us who are dedicated and consecrated. We must leave all to have the All which is God. We must forget our father's house (Ps. 44.11)."

"On a dark night, kindled in love with yearnings
Oh, happy chance!
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest"
(St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mt. Carmel)

A most blessed Feast to all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Christian Dedication and Consecration (I)


Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple

Draw me: we will run after Thee to the odor of Thy ointments. 
The King hath brought me into His storerooms:
We will be glad and rejoice in Thee
(Canticle of Canticles 1.3).

Saint Joachim and Saint Anne went to Jerusalem to fulfill the vow they had made to God to dedicate their glorious child to Him in the Temple, where young maidens were brought up for the service of the Divine Majesty.

The first Christians had great spiritual feasts on the anniversary of their Baptism, which was the day of their dedication - that is, the day on which they were dedicated to God. They took no notice of their birthday, for at birth we are not children of grace, but rather Adamites or children of Adam. So they celebrated the day on which they were made children of God - the day of their Baptism.

While it is on Easter that the baptized renew their dedication to God through the Baptismal promises, this day is a fitting feast when the religious - those who are dedicated and consecrated to Him in a special and irrevocable manner - renew their vows and promises.... As a consummate lute player has the habit of testing the strings of his instrument from time to time to see if they need tightening or loosening in order to render the tone in perfect harmony, so it is necessary at least one a year to examine and consider all the affections of our souls to see if they are in tune so as to sing the canticle of the glory of God and of our own perfection. Thus, annual confessions have been enjoined so that we might discover our strings that are out of tune, our affections that are not really in balance, and our resolutions of the preceding year that have not been kept. After having tightened the pegs of our lute,... we come with our glorious Lady and Mistress and invoke Her protection, to place all our affections on the altar of the Temple of the Divine Goodness, in order that, without reserve, they may be burned and consumed by the fire of His burning charity.... [This] is a very necessary exercise, since our misery is so great that we always suffer some spiritual loss, and only too frequently fail in our designs. Therefore it is expedient to check ourselves and to consider by what means we can recover what by our weakness, even our negligence, we have lost.

True, we must not be surprised at this, since in this world that is the way it is. Indeed, it seems that even the sun needs to start its course anew once a year, to repair the losses suffered during the year by those place that do not have a favorable climate. Don't you agree that the earth decays during the winter, and when spring comes it has to repair the losses it has suffered during the severe cold? We ought to do the same, making our course like the sun over all the affections and passions of our souls in order to repair the losses caused by their immortifications during the year.... In order to present ourselves well so as to re-offer to Her Divine Son that which we once offered and dedicated to Him - that is, ourselves -  we renew our vows, as we have just done. For this custom of renewing our vows and promises can repair any faults we may have committed when we first made them.

... Three points which must be observed in order to make the renovation well. The first is that Mary comes to the Temple in Her childhood, leaving Her parents after being weaned; the second, that She is carried part of the time in Her parents' arms and walks the other part with Her own feet; the third, that She gives and offers Herself entirely, without reserve.

As to the first point, namely, that She came to dedicate Herself to God in early childhood, how can we observe that, inasmuch as we have definitely passed that age and can never more return to it, for time lost cannot be recovered? You say there is no longer a remedy? O... there is remedy for everything! If virginity is restored by humility, and if the chaste widow becomes a triumphant virgin, why would you hold that we cannot recover time lost by the fervor and diligence with which we use the present time [cf., Eph. 5.15-16].... Just as stags run so lightly, when pursued by the hunter so redouble your speed that they seem to fly, even so should we try to run our course. But at the time of our renovation and reaffirmation we should not only run, but fly, and ask with the holy Prophet [cf., Ps. 54.7] for the wings of a dove in order that we may fly swiftly, without lagging, until we rest in the clefts [Canticle 2.14] of the wall of holy Jerusalem [that is, the New Jerusalem - the Catholic Church]. By this I mean that we should be totally united to Our Lord crucified on Mount Calvary by a perfect conformity of life.

It is quite certain that the Divine Goodness desires our youth as the most fitting time for us to give ourselves to His service. But do you think the youth is always to be taken and understood in terms of our age, and that the Divine Spouse means those that are young in when She says in the Canticle of Canticles that the maidens love their celestial Spouse and are drawn to Him by the fragrance of His perfumes? Oh no, without doubt She is speaking of those who are young in zeal and courage and who, in their later years, come to consecrate to the service of His holy love not only every moment of their lives, but all their actions - and this without any reserve. You will say: after we have completed our youth, when is the most fitting time for us to consecrate and devote ourselves to God? Oh, when is it? It is the present moment, now, immediately [cf., 2 Cor. 6.2]; for the past is no longer ours, the future may never be ours, so the present moment is the best.

Second, namely, that our glorious Lady and Mistress, coming to dedicate Herself to God, was carried by Her parents a part of the way, and the other part She came on Her little feet - always aided, however, by Her parents. For when St. Joachim and St. Anne came upon a level stretch, they put Her down and allowed Her to walk on Her own. This little heavenly and glorious child then held up Her little fingers to grab hold of Her father's and mother's hands, lest She trips. As soon as they came upon some rough road, they immediately took Her in their arms. They allowed Her to walk - not to relieve themselves, because it was a great consolation to carry Her, but for the pleasure it gave them to see Her taking some steps....

During our long pilgrimage on this wretched earth Our Lord leads us in these two ways. He either leads us by the hand, causing us to walk with Him, or He carries us in the arms of His Providence. I mean that He holds us by the hand and let us walk in the exercise of virtue. For if He did not hold us by the hand it would not be possible for us to travel this road of blessing. And who does not see that usually those who abandon His fatherly hand do not take a single step without tripping and falling head first to the ground. His Goodness is willing to lead us and to carry us, but He also wants us to take our little steps alone, doing on our part all that we can, helped by His grace. And Holy Church, tender and solicitous for Her children's well-being, teaches us to pray each day a prayer in which she begs God to accompany us along our earthly pilgrimage and to assist us with His prevenient and accompanying grace, without which we can do nothing. Leading us by the hand, our Savior does with us the deeds for which He seeks our cooperation... (to be continued) [Taken from the Sermons of St. Francis de Sales].

A blessed Feast to all!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

"A Grain of Mustard Seed"


Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field 
(Mt. 13.31, from the Gospel of the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany)

St. Jerome notes: "The man who sows is by most understood to be the Savior, Who sows the seed [the preaching of the Gospel] in the minds of believers; by others the man himself who sows in his field, that is in his own heart. Who indeed is he that soweth, but our mind and understanding, which receiving the grain of the preaching [of the Apostles and their historically traceable successors (Ac. 1.23-26)], and nurturing it by the [supernatural] dew of faith, makes it to spring up [becometh a tree, v.32] in the field of our own breast?"

But, "alas!" laments St. John Mary Vianney, the Cure d'Ars, "my dear brethren, what have we become ever since our conversion?" He continues, "Instead of always going forward and increasing in holiness what laziness and indifference...! God cannot endure this perpetual inconstancy with which we pass from virtue to vice and from vice to virtue... Is not this the very pattern of the way you live? Are your poor lives anything other than a succession of good deeds and bad deeds?.... How can this be unless the religion you have is unreal, a religion of habit, a religion of long-standing custom, and not a religion rooted in the heart? Carry on, my friend; you are only a waverer! Carry on, my poor man; in everything you do, you are just a hypocrite and nothing else! God has not the first place in your heart; that is reserved for the world, [the pleasures of the flesh], and the devil.... What do you find then so hard and so unpleasant in the service of God that it has repelled you so strangely and caused you to change over to the side of the world?"

Mortifications and abstinence from meat on Fridays. Modesty, chastity and continence. Silence of women in the Church (cf., 1 Cor. 14.34; 1 Tim. 3.11-12) and their heads veiled in churches (cf., 1 Cor. 11.5-15), no 'liberty of conscience', submission (cf., Rom. 13.1-2) without murmuring to the legitimate superiors in all things (except sin and things intrinsically evil and contrary to our Sacred Tradition) though their lives be leavened with the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees - The scribes and the Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses. All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works, do ye not; for they say, and do not (Mt. 23.2-3). And, Liturgy in a dead ancient language and a worship of the God Who condemns "MANY" sinners to everlasting misery of torments in the company of devils in hell!

".... If," says St. John Mary Vianney, "we were to put it more forcefully, because we are hypocrites who serve God just as long as everything is going according to our wishes [and conveniences]" so that "the result is... if you were to compare their intentions with those of pagans [praying before their idols], you would not find any difference." Therefore, in chastisement, God abandoned them to a religion of their whim, and in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God [sent] them the operation of error, to believe lying [a "pseudo-religion: something that resembles Catholicism but was not the real thing," cf., our post "The Year That Was 1929"] (2 Thess. 2.10): they would not completely renounce the Catholic religion and neither would they completely renounce the world, the flesh, the 'Rights of Man' of the 1789 Revolution, and the materialist emancipation of the Communist utopia - the Neo-Catholicism of Vatican II: a "New Ecclesial Reality" [Cardinal Hoyos in his justification for the Vatican's intervention to arrest what it perceived to be an increasing prevalence of the "spirit of dissent" in the seminaries of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP)] or a 'Catholic Church' that has finally come out of itself to dialogue with the 'City of Satan'. I know thy works, that thou hast the name of being alive [a 'Catholic' in 'full' communion with and 'loyalty' to the Pope]: and thou art dead (Apoc. 3.1).

"The Gospel preaching," explains St. Jerome, "is the least of all the systems of the schools; at first view it has not even the appearance of the truth: announcing a [God-Man], [the Author of life... killed, Ac. 3.15], and proclaiming the offence of the Cross [cf., our post "Our 'Great Reversal'"]." "Compare," continues the "Greatest Doctor" of the Church, "[these traditional Catholic doctrines and discipline] with the dogmas of the ['Enlightenment' free-thinkers, the 'liberal Catholics', and the 'Modernists'], with their works, the splendor of their eloquence, the polish of their style, and you will see how the seed of the Gospel is the least of all seeds."

"Ah, Dear Lord, what blindness!" laments the Cure d'Ars, "Oh, ugly sin of [religious harlotry] which leads souls to hell.... Unfortunately, such a large body of Christians do not know themselves and do not even try to know themselves. They... do not want to see reason. They are blind, and the move along in their blindness. If... [told] about the state they are in, they do not listen, and if they go through the pretense of listening, they will do nothing at all about what they are told." The Lord tells them to FLEE when they see the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not [Mk. 13.14; cf., our post "The Catholic Sanctuary... (II)"] but they would rather hear the religion of their convenience. "Yes," continues the Cure d'Ars, "we shall see at the Judgment that the largest section of Christians practiced a religion of whim or caprice only... and very few sought [the primacy of God, His rights and interests, the sovereign dominion of His kingdom - the true Catholic Church in the continuity of her historically "Apostolic, Constantinian, Gregorian, Tridentine" reality (cf., Professor R. Amerio, A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church in the 20th Century) and orientation of restoration of everything in Christ and Him Crucified (1 Cor. 2.2) only through her - and to do more for Him according to the standard of the Crucified] in what they did.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Decor Carmeli (The Beauty of Carmel)


Feast of all the Saints of the Order of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

"Graciously grant, O Almighty and Merciful God, that, by their example and merit in the practice of the yoke of Thy law and in living for Thee alone with perfect abnegation, we may be able to attain to the joy of eternal life with them... through Christ Jesus Our Lord... Amen" (from the Collect of today's Feast).

".... The practice of the yoke of God's law and... living for God alone with perfect abnegation...." Thus the Holy Church summarizes the exquisite beauty with which the Queen and Beauty of Carmel, Our Immaculate Mother, makes to distinctly reflect on Her Order. We learn in the Holy Gospel that the yoke of God's law is only one: the charity that overflows from the pierced Heart of the Crucified - to love God in all things and above all things with our whole mind, with our whole heart, with our whole soul, with our whole strength; and, next in order, to love others but as Christ hath loved us on the Cross. Therefore, this is the vocation of the Christian; he must become a Saint to attain to the joy of eternal life (which is God's life, strictly speaking a share or a participation not in superhuman or angelic life but in God's life): Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect (Mt. 5.48). 

It is to live for God alone that is the atmosphere for a Christian. And to live for God alone with perfect abnegation - with that generous disposition of the Heart of the Crucified to take the place of His miserable beloved and the same disposition of the Immaculate Heart of Our Blessed Mother to take the place of Her suffering Beloved (cf., reflection for "The Ninth and Last Day of Novena to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel") - is the atmosphere in Carmel (cf., our post "The Teresian Carmel"), indeed the science (cf., our post "The Measure of Loving God") which the Church, in her traditional prayer for this blessed day, looks to her Carmelite Saints for.

A blessed Feast to all!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"God's Tolerance For The Wicked"

Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost

The kingdom of heaven is likened to a man that sowed good seed in his field.
But... the enemy came and oversowed cockle among the wheat
(Mt. 13.24-25, from the Epistle of the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany)

See our post "God's Tolerance For The Wicked" (February 5, 2012)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

"On Impenitence"


Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost

Lord, my daughter is even now dead
(from today's Gospel, Mt. 9.18-26)

A sermon of St. Alphonsus Mary Liguori

How great is God’s goodness! how difficult it is to obtain pardon from a man whom we have offended! When sinners cast themselves at the feet of the Lord with humility and with sorrow for having offended Him, He instantly pardons and embraces them. Turn to me, saith the Lord of Hosts, and I will turn to you (Zach. i. 3). Sinners, says the Lord, I have turned My back on you, because you first turned your back on Me: return to Me, and I will return to you and will embrace you. When rebuked by the Prophet Nathan, David repented, and said: I have sinned against the Lord; I have offended my God. David was instantly pardoned: for at the very moment that he confessed his guilt, Nathan said to him: The Lord also hath taken away thy sin (2 Kings xii. 13). But let us come to the Gospel of the day, in which we find that a certain ruler, whose daughter was dead, went immediately to Jesus Christ, and asked him to restore her to life: Lord, my daughter is even now dead; but come, lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. In explaining this passage, St. Bonaventure turns to the sinner, and says: ”Your daughter is your soul; she even now is dead by sin; hasten your conversion.” Brother, your soul is your daughter, that has just died by committing sin. Return immediately to God. Hasten; if you delay, and defer your conversion from day to day, the wrath of God shall suddenly come upon you, and you shall be cast into hell. Delay not to be converted to the Lord, and defer it not from day to day (Eccl. v. 8, 9). Behold the sermon for this day, in which I will show, first, the danger to which he who is in the state of sin, and defers his conversion, is exposed; and secondly, the remedy to be adopted by him who is in sin, and wishes to save his soul.

First Point. The danger to which a person in sin, who defers his conversion, is exposed.

1. St. Augustine considers three states of Christians. The first is the state of those who have always preserved their baptismal innocence; the second is the state of those who have fallen into sin, and have afterwards returned to God, and persevered in grace; the third is of those who have fallen and have always relapsed into sin, and are found in that unhappy state at death. Speaking of the first and second class, he pronounces them secure of salvation; but, speaking of the third he says: "Non dico, non præsumo, non promitto." (Hom, xli. int. 50.)”I do not say; I do not presume; I do not promise." He neither says, nor presumes, nor promises, that such sinners are saved. From these words it appears that, in his opinion, it is very improbable that they obtain eternal life. St. Thomas teaches (2, 2, qu. 109, a. 8) that he who is in the state of mortal sin cannot long abstain from the commission of some new sin. And St. Gregory says: ”A sin which is not blotted out by repentance by its weight soon draws to another sin; hence it is not only a sin, but the cause of sin." (1. 3, Mor. c. ix.) One sin is the cause of another, because, in the sinner reason is disordered, and inclines him to evil; and therefore he cannot long resist temptation. ”Quando," says St. Anselm, ”quis manet in peccato, ratio jam est deordinata et ideo veniente tentatione faciet id quod est facilius agere." Hence, according to the holy doctor, though they understand the great advantage of sanctifying grace, sinners, because they are deprived of grace, always relapse, in spite of all their efforts to avoid sin. But how can the branch that is cut off from the vine produce fruit? As, says Jesus Christ, the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me (John xv. 4).

2. But some young persons may say: ”I will hereafter give myself to God." Behold the false hope of sinners, which leads them to remain in sin till death, and from death conducts them to hell! Who are you that say, you will hereafter give yourself to God? But who, I ask, promises you that you shall have time to give yourself to God, and that you shall not meet with a sudden death, which will take you out of this world before you give yourself to him? "He," says St. Gregory, ”who has promised pardon to penitents has not promised tomorrow to sinners." (Hom. xii. in Ev.) The Lord has promised pardon to all who repent of their sins; but to those who wish to continue in sin He has not promised time for repentance. Do you say, hereafter? But Jesus Christ tells you that time is in the hand of God, and not under your control. It is not for you to know the times or moments which the Father has put in his own power (Acts i. 7). We read in the Gospel of St. Luke, that Jesus Christ, seeing a fig-tree which was fruitless for three years, ordered it to be cut down. He said to the dresser of the vineyard: Behold, for these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and I find none. Cut it down therefore. Why cumbereth it the ground ? (Luke xiii. 7) Tell me, you who say that you will hereafter give yourself to God, for what purpose does He preserve your life? Is it that you may continue to insult Him by sin? No; He gives you life that you may renounce sin, and change your conduct. Knowest thou not that the benignity of God leadeth thee to penance? (Rom. ii. 4). But you are resolved not to amend; and if you wish to give yourself to God only hereafter, He will say of your soul to the dresser of his vineyard: Cut it down. Why cumbereth it the ground? Why should such a sinner be allowed to remain on earth? Is it to continue to offend me? Cat down this fruitless tree, and cast it into the fire. Every tree, therefore, that doth not yield good fruit, shall be cut down, and cast into the fire (Matt. iii. 10).

3. But, should God hereafter give you time for repentance, will you, if you do not now repent, return to Him hereafter? Sins, like so many chains, keep the sinner in bondage. He is first bound with the ropes of his own sins (Prov. v. 22). My brother, if you cannot now break the cords by which you are at present bound, will you be able to break them hereafter, when they shall be doubled by the commission of new sins? To give him an idea of the degree of folly which impenitent sinners reach, our Lord showed one day to the Abbot Arsenius, an Ethiopian, who, not being able to raise a load of faggots, added to their weight, and thus became less liable to raise it. Sinners, said the Saviour to the holy abbot, act in a similar manner. They wish to get rid of their past sins, and, at the same time, commit new ones. These new sins shall lead them into others more numerous and more enormous. Cain sinned against his brother, first, by envy; then, by hatred; and afterwards, by murder; finally, he despaired of the divine mercy, saying: My iniquity is greater than that I may obtain pardon (Gen. iv. 13). Judas also was first guilty of the sin of avarice; he then betrayed Jesus Christ, and afterwards hanged himself. Sins chain the sinner, and make him their slave, so that he knowingly brings himself to destruction. His own iniquities catch the wicked (Prov. v. 22).

4. Moreover, his sins weigh down the sinner to such a degree, that he no longer regards heaven nor his own salvation. My iniquities, said David with tears, are growing over my head, and, as a heavy burden, are become heavy upon me (Ps. xxxvii. 5). Hence the miserable man loses reason, thinks only of earthly goods, and thus forgets the divine judgments. And they perverted their own minds, and turned away their eyes, that they might not look unto heaven, nor remember just judgments (Dan. xiii. 9). He even hates the light, because he fears that it will interrupt his criminal pleasures. Every one that doth evil hateth the light (John iii. 20) Hence, he becomes miserably blind, and goes round about continually from sin to sin. The wicked walk round about (Ps. xi. 9). He then despises admonitions, divine calls, hell, heaven, and God. The wicked, when he is come into the depth of sins, comtemneth (Prov. xviii. 3).

5. He hath torn me with wound upon wound, he hath rushed in upon me like a giant (Job xvi. 15). By conquering one temptation, a man acquires not only additional strength to repel future assaults, but also diminishes the power of the devil. And, on the other hand, when we yield to any temptation, the devil becomes like a giant, and we become so weak, that we have scarcely strength to resist him any longer. If you receive a wound from an enemy you lose strength. If to this, new wounds be added, you shall be exhausted, and rendered unable to defend yourself. This is what happens to the fools who say: "I will here after give myself to God." How can they resist the attacks of the devil, after they have lost their strength, and after their wounds have mortified? My sores are putrefied and corrupted, because of my foolishness (Ps. xxxvii. 6). At its commencement a wound is easily healed; but when it becomes gangrenous, the cure is most difficult. Recourse must be had to the cautery; but even this remedy is in many cases ineffectual.

6. "But, Father, St. Paul teaches that God will have all men to be saved (1 Tim. ii. 4); and that Jesus Christ came on earth for the salvation of sinners: Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners (1 Tim. i. 15)." God certainly wills the salvation of all who desire it: He wills the salvation of those who wish to save their souls; but not of those who labour for their own damnation. Jesus Christ has come to save sinners. To save our souls, two things are necessary: first, the grace of God; and secondly, your own cooperation. Behold, I stand at the gate and knock: if any man shall hear My voice, and open to Me the door, I will come unto him (Apoc. iii. 20). Then, in order that God may enter into us by His grace, we must, on our part, obey His calls, and open our hearts to Him. Likewise, St. Paul says, with fear and trembling work out* your salvation (Phil. ii. 12). He says, work out. Then we, too, must cooperate to our salvation by good works; otherwise the Lord will only give us sufficient grace by which we shall be able to save our souls, but by which we certainly will not save them. Behold, the reason: he who is in the state of sin, and continues to commit sin, is daily more and more attached to the flesh, and more removed from God. Now, how can God, by his grace, approach to us, when we withdraw farther from him? He then retires from us, and becomes less liberal of his favours. And I will make it desolate and I will command the clouds to rain no rain upon it (Isa. v. 6). When the soul continues to offend God He abandons her, and withdraws His helps. Hence she shall cease to feel remorse of conscience; she shall be left without light; and the blindness of her understanding and the hardness of her heart shall be increased. She shall become utterly insensible to the calls of God, to the maxims of faith, and to the melancholy examples of other rebellious souls that have closed their career in hell.
* This contradicts the claim of "Bible-only" sectarians that they are already 'saved'.

7. "But who knows," the obstinate sinner will say, "but God will show me the same mercy which he has shown to certain great sinners?” In answer to this, St. Chrysostom says: "Fortasse dabit, inquis: cur dicis fortasse? Con- tigit aliquando; sed cogita quod de anima deliberas?" (Hom. xxii. in 2 Cor.) You say: ”Perhaps God will give me the grace of salvation. But why do you say perhaps? Is it because He has sometimes given to great sinners the grace of eternal life? But remember, says the holy doctor, that there is question of your soul, which, if once lost, is lost for ever. I, too, take you up, and admit that God has, by certain extraordinary graces, saved some enormous sinners. But these cases are very rare; they are prodigies and miracles of grace, by which God wished to show the boundlessness of his mercy. But, ordinarily, sinners who wish to continue in sin, are, in the end, cast into hell. On them are executed the threats of the Lord against obstinate sinners. You have despised My counsels, and neglected My reprehensions. I also will laugh in your destruction. . . . Then they will call on Me, and I will not hear (Prov. i. 25, 26, 28). I, says the Lord, have called on them again and again, but they have refused to hear me. But they did not hear nor incline their ears; but hardened their neck, that they might not hear me (Jer. xvii. 23). Now they call upon Me, it is but just that I refuse to listen to their cries. God bears, but he does not bear for ever; when the time of vengeance arrives he punishes past and present iniquities. For the Most High is a patient rewarder (Eccl. v. 4). And according to St. Augustine, the longer God has waited for negligent sinners the more severely He will chastise them. He who promises to amend, and wilfully neglects to return to God, is unworthy of the grace of true repentance.

8. "But, God is full of mercy." He is full of mercy; but He is not so stupid as to act without reason: to show mercy to those who continue to insult him would be stupidity, and not goodness. Is thy eye evil because I am good? (Matt. xx. 15) Will you persevere in wickedness because I am bountiful? God is good, but He is also just [cf., our post "The Ultimate Delusion of Vatican II 'Catholicism'"], and exhorts us all to observe His law, if we wish to save our souls. If thou wilt enter into life keep the commandments (Matt. xix. 17). Were God to show mercy to the wicked as well as to the just, and to give to all the grace of conversion before death, He would hold out a strong temptation even to the saints to commit sin: but, no! when His mercies have reached their term He punishes, and pardons no more. And my eye shall not spare thee, and I will show thee no pity (Ezec. vii. 4). Hence he says: Pray that your flight may not be in the winter or on the Sabbath." (Matt. xxiv. 20.) We are prevented from working in the winter by the cold, and on the Sabbath by the law. In this passage the Redeemer gives us to understand that, for impenitent sinners, a time shall come when they would wish to give themselves to God, but shall find themselves prevented by their bad habits from returning to him. Of this there are numberless melancholy examples. A dissolute young man, when admonished to give up his wickedness, said: I have a saint who js omnipotent, and this is the mercy of God. Death came; the unhappy man sent for a confessor; but while he was preparing for confession, the Devil wrote down before his eyes all his sins. He was seized with terror, and exclaimed: Alas! what a long catalogue of sins! And before he was able to make his confession he expired. A young nobleman addicted to sins of the flesh, was warned by God and by men to amend his life; but he despised all their admonitions. He afterwards fell into a severe illness, confessed his sins, and promised to change his life; but, after his recovery, he returned to the vomit. Behold the vengeance of God! Being one day in a field during the vintage, he took fever, went home, and feeling that the disease was far advanced, he sent in haste for a priest who lived near the house. The priest comes, enters the house, salutes the sick man, but sees a frightful spectacle, the eyes and mouth open, the face black as jet. He calls the sick man, but finds that he is dead. Dearly beloved brethren, take care that you, too, be not miserable examples of the justice of God. Give up sin; but give it up from this moment; for, if you continue to commit sin, the same vengeance which has fallen on so many others shall also fall on you. Let us come to the remedy.

Second Point. The remedy for those who find themselves in sin, and wish to save their souls.

9. Jesus Christ was one day asked, if the number of the elect is small. Lord, are they few that are saved? But he said to them: Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter, and they shall not be able (Luke xiii. 23, 24; cf., our post "Our Lady at Fatima: 'MANY souls go to hell...'"). He says that many seek to enter heaven, but do not enter; and why? Because they wish to obtain eternal life without inconvenience, and without making strong efforts to abstain from forbidden pleasures. Therefore, he said: strive to enter at the narrow gate. The gate of heaven is narrow: to enter it we must labour, and must do violence to ourselves. And we ought to be persuaded that what we can do Today we shall not be always able to do hereafter. The delay of conversion sends many Christians to hell: the weakness, darkness, and obduracy of the soul are, as we have already said, daily increased, and the divine helps are diminished. Thus, the soul shall die in her sins. You say: I will hereafter return to God. Then you know that, to save your soul, you must renounce sin why do you not give it up now that God calls you to repentance? If at some time, says St. Augustine, why not now? The time which you now have to repair the past shall not be given to you hereafter; and the mercy which God shows you at present will not be extended to you at a future time. If, then, you wish to save your soul, do immediately what you must one day do. Go to confession as soon as possible, and tremble lest every delay may be the eternal ruin of your soul.

10. "Nullus," says St. Fulgentius, "sub spe misericordiæ debet diutius in peccatis remanere, cum nolit in corpore sub spe diutius ægrotare." (St. Fulg. ad Petr. Diac.) Were a physician, says the Saint, to offer you a remedy for sickness, would you say: I do not wish to be cured at present, because I hope to recover hereafter? And when there is a question of the salvation of your soul, you say: I will remain in sin, because I hope that God will be merciful to me at a future time. But if, according to his just judgments, the Lord should not show you mercy hereafter, what shall become of you? shall you not be damned? Let us, says the Apostle, do good while we have time to do it. Therefore, whilst we have time let us work good to all men (Gal. vi. 10). For time may not be given to us to do good hereafter. Hence the Lord exhorts us to guard our souls with great care; because we know not the hour when he will come to demand an account of our life. Watch ye, therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour (Matt. xxv. 18).

11. My soul is continually in my hands (Ps. cxviii. 109). He who wears on his finger a ring containing a diamond of great value, looks frequently at the ring to see if the diamond be secure: it is thus we ought to watch over our souls. And should we see that it has been lost by sin, we ought instantly to adopt every means in our power to recover it. We ought to turn immediately to Jesus, our Saviour, like Magdalene, who, as soon as she knew that He sat at meat, ran to Him, cast herself at His feet, and by her tears obtained pardon. (Luke vii. 37.) Now the axe is laid to the root of the tree (Luke iii. 9). For all who are found in sin, the axe of divine justice is at hand to take away their life as soon as the time of vengeance arrives. Arise, then Christian souls, and if you are bound by any bad habit, burst your chains, and remain no longer the slaves of Satan. Loose the bonds from off thy neck, captive daughter of Zion (Isa. lii. 2). “Posuisti vestigium, ” says St. Ambrose, "supra voraginem culpao, cito aufer pedem." You have placed your foot on the mouth of a vortex that is, on sin, which is the mouth of hell: take away your foot, and retire; otherwise you shall fall into an unfathomable abyss.

12. I find myself subject to an evil habit. But, if you wish to give up sin, who can force you to commit it? All bad habits and all the temptations of hell are overcome by the grace of God. Recommend yourself to the heart of Jesus Christ, and He will give you grace to conquer all enemies. But should you be in any proximate occasion of sin you must immediately take it away, otherwise you shall relapse. ”Potius præscinde," says St. Jerome, ”quam solve." Do not wait to loose your bonds gradually; cut them by a single stroke. The devil seeks to make you slow in shaking off your fetters. Look for a good confessor [do not just seek a traditional Catholic priest but a wise and devout traditional Catholic priest from the heart]; he will tell you what to do. And should you have the misfortune of falling hereafter into any mortal sin, go immediately to confession, even on the same day or the same night, if you can. Finally, listen to what I now say to you: God is ready to assist you: if you wish, it is in your power to save your souls. Tremble, brethren, lest these words of mine, if you despise them, should be for you so many swords in hell for all eternity.

Related post: "Mane, Thecel, ParesI"

Thursday, November 1, 2012

"Credo in Sanctam Catholicam Ecclesiam:" The Mystery of the "Church" (II)


Feast of All Saints

A hymn for all His Saints...
for the people that is nigh unto Him
(Vespers Antiphon, from Ps. 148.14) 

Christian Doctrinal Instruction: The "Church"

The word ecclesia (church) means "a calling forth". But writers afterward used it to signify a meeting or assembly, whether the people gathered together were members of a true or of a false religion. In common Scriptural usage, however, the word was subsequently employed to signify the Christian society only, and the assemblies of the faithful; that is, of those who are called by faith to the light of truth and knowledge of God, that having forsaken the darkness of ignorance and error, they may worship the living and true God piously and holily, and serve Him from their whole heart.

"Called by faith...," that is, moved by God's grace. God... hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the Saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love... (Col. 1.12,13).

"... To the light of truth and knowledge of God," that is, the supernatural belief (not the self-stimulation of the "Bible-only" sectarians to a despairing confidence in Christ: 'Just believe'; nor the immanent religious need of the Modernists) in Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Who Is the image of the invisible God, which is the beginning of eternal life in us. He that believeth in Me hath eternal life. For eternal life consists in seeing God immediately as He sees Himself, and in loving Him as He loves Himself. Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God; and it hath not yet appeared what we shall. We know that when it shall appear we shall be like to Him, for we shall see Him as He Is (1 Jn. 3.2).

"... That having forsaken the darkness of ignorance and error...," that is, our first conversion. I will pour out upon you clean water... And I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit... and I will cause you to walk in My commandments (Ezech. 36.25). St. Paul writes similarly: God... hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the Saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness [from the dominion of the devil through sin], and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love (Col. 1.12,13). Again, St. Paul writes but more categorically: Not the effeminate nor the impure nor thieves and covetous nor drunkards nor railers nor extortioners shall possess the kingdom of God. And such some of you were. But you are washed; but you are sanctified; but you are justified; in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God (1 Cor.6.10, cf., also Rom. 1.26-32).

"... Worship the true God piously and holily," that is, that worship due to and becoming the true God as He has ordained it: Look, and make it according to the pattern... shewn in the mount (Ex. 25.40), cf., our posts "The Catholic Sanctuary Prefigured in the Old Testament" (parts I and II).

"... Serve Him from their whole heart," that is, devoting our selves to the one thing necessary - our need of second conversion.   

A blessed Feast to all!

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.