Dec 7 – Veni Redemptor Gentium – St Ambrose of Milan, (337-397 AD), Father & Doctor of the Church


Veni, Redemptor gentium;
Ostende partum virginis;
Miretur omne saeculum.
Talis decet partus Deo.

Non ex virili semine,
Sed mystico spiramine
Verbum Dei tactum est caro,
Fructusque ventris floruit.

Alvus tumescit virginis.
Claustrum pudoris permanet;
Vexilla virtutum micant,
Versatur in templo Deus.

Procedit e thalamo suo,
Pudoris aulo regia,
Geminae gigans substantiae
Alacris ut currat viam.

Egressus eius a Patre,
Regressus eius ad Patrem ;
Excursus usque ad inferos
Recursus ad sedem Dei.

Aequalis aeterno Patri,
Carnis tropaeo accingere,
Infirma nostri corporis
Virtute firmans perpeti.

Praesepe iam fulget tuum,
Lumenque nox spirat novum,
Quad nulla nox interpolet
Fideque iugi luceat.

Gloria tibi, Domine,
Qui natus es de virgine,
Cum Patre et saneto Spiritu,
In sempiterna saecula.

Come, thou Redeemer of the earth,
Come manifest thy virgin birth:
All lands admire, all times applaud:
Such is the birth that fits our God.

Forth from his chamber goeth he,
That royal home of purity,
A giant in twofold substance one,
Rejoicing now his course to run.

The Virgin’s womb that glory gained,
Its virgin honor is still unstained.
The banners there of virtue glow;
God in his temple dwells below.

From God the Father he proceeds,
To God the Father back he speeds;
Runs out his course to death and hell,
Returns on God’s high throne to dwell.

O Equal to thy Father, thou!
Gird on thy fleshly mantle now;
The weakness of our mortal state
With deathless might invigorate.

Thy cradle here shall glitter bright,
And darkness breathe a newer light,
Where endless faith shall shine serene,
And twilight never intervene.

All laud, eternal Son, to Thee
Whose advent sets Thy people free,
Whom with the Father we adore,
And Holy Ghost, for evermore.


-by Br Raymond LaGrange, OP

Non ex virili semine,

sed mystico spiramine

Verbum Dei factum est caro

fructusque ventris floruit.

Literally, this means: “Not from man’s seed / But by the mystic spirit / The Word of God was made man / And the fruit of the womb sprung forth.” Spiramine, “spirit” also means “breath.” The breath of life once breathed into Adam is now breathed upon Mary. The Holy Spirit creates (On the Mysteries, 2.5). Unlike everyone else, Jesus is conceived by an act of God without bodily contact (On Virginity, II.2.7), just as the world was created without pre-existing matter. The incarnation is a sort of re-creation in the world, so that fallen nature may be redeemed. In the original creation, God made man in His own image. In the fullness of time, He created a body for Himself. This meeting of heaven and earth, God’s complete gift of Himself, happens in the womb of Mary.

The Holy Spirit is also the revealer. Ambrose tells us that the same cloud which led the Hebrews out of Egypt came to rest finally upon the Virgin Mary, in whom He conceived His Son. (On the Mysteries, 3.13) This cloud that led the Hebrews over the Red Sea brought them to rest at Mount Sinai, where the law was revealed to Moses. This law was the fullest revelation of God up to that point in history. This is fulfilled in the Word of God, Who is the New Law, conceived in Mary’s womb. The Holy Spirit reveals God to us in history through Mary.

Mary participates in a very special way in both creation and revelation by agreeing to bear the Son of God. Before Mary conceived the God-man in her womb, however, she beheld Him in prayer. In his work, On Virginity, Ambrose presents her as a model for consecrated virgins:

“She was a virgin not only in body but also in mind…humble in heart, grave in speech, prudent in mind, sparing of words, studious in reading, resting her hope not on uncertain riches, but on the prayer of the poor, intent on work, modest in discourse; wont to seek not man but God as the judge of her thoughts, to injure no one, to have goodwill towards all, to rise up before her elders, not to envy her equals, to avoid boastfulness, to follow reason, to love virtue.” (On Virginity, II.2.7)

Her soul was given entirely to prayer. When the Angel Gabriel came to announce to her the birth of Jesus, he found her alone, with nothing distracting her from her contemplation (On Virginity, II.2.10). Her contemplation continues after she gives birth. As Luke tells us, “Mary kept all these things in her heart.” (Lk 2:19, On Virginity, II.2.13)

We can learn from Mary’s habit of contemplation. We, too, are called to ponder in our hearts the mysteries revealed to us. During this season of Advent, as we prepare to commemorate the coming of the Redeemer of nations, it is opportune to take on small penances and remove distractions from our lives so that we can give ourselves especially over to prayer. But our contemplation must not only look backward. It prepares us for death, and our entry into our heavenly homeland, where together with Mary and Ambrose and all the angels and saints, we will contemplate the Holy Trinity for eternity.”

Love & Advent,
Matthew

Verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis – Jn 1:14

Verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis.

Et vidimus gloriam eius,
gloriam quasi Unigeniti a Patre,
plenum gratiae et veritatis.

In principio erat Verbum,
et Verbum erat apud Deum,
et Deus erat Verbum.

Et vidimus gloriam eius,
gloriam quasi Unigeniti a Patre,
plenum gratiae et veritatis.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.

Et vidimus gloriam eius,
gloriam quasi Unigeniti a Patre,
plenum gratiae et veritatis.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:14)

And we have beheld His glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

And we have beheld His glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

And we have beheld His glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Love, He comes!!!!!!
Matthew

The Great Enemy of Truth

“The great enemy of truth is intellectual despair. It’s extremely important to persevere in seeking the truth with open horizons. We have to avoid being paralyzed by superficial intellectual conventions because convention sometimes stultifies people. Some cultural convention can be a safeguard in preserving what many people know to be true and sane. But in our life of seeking the truth, we have to transcend conformism, resist despair, and remain ardent in the search for the truth. The other thing is to find wise teachers. The idea that we can seek the truth all alone is foolish; we need wise teachers and friends, some who are dead and some who are living. A third and in fact related point: I have yet to meet someone who regretted becoming Catholic. I’ve talked to a lot of people who were very nervous about it before hand, very afraid, wondering if they were making a mistake. But it’s like a doorway you have to step across. You’re going to find peace and fulfillment, and will not regret it, but you have to take that step. The sacraments are an extremely powerful source of grace, and in a sense, this can only be discovered by experience. They work, ex opere operato, from the very work of the rite. When you begin to receive the sacraments regularly, you receive inward peace and resolution. When I was becoming Catholic, a Benedictine monk told me to go regularly to confession, every week or two, and to go to Mass often, every day if possible, and said that this would be the most helpful thing to do. I thought that sounded a little mechanical, but he knew the truth of the matter, which is that God works through the sacraments, so if you approach them with goodwill, they will change you over time.

It’s not really that complicated. If you engage with God on God’s terms according to the Church’s teachings, God will sanctify you and you will achieve real friendship with God. That doesn’t mean you won’t suffer, but your suffering will take place in Christ, and that’s deeply meaningful and consoling. The real answer is to enter the Catholic Church and live the sacramental life, and not despair in the search for the truth, because God is always very close to us and will give us the means to arrive at the destination if we want Him to do so.”

-George, Robert P.. “Mind, Heart, and Soul: Intellectuals and the Path to Rome” (Kindle Location 1167-1183). TAN Books. Kindle Edition.

Love & truth,
Matthew

Resembling Saints

“I’m a Dominican, so our great exemplar is Saint Dominic, who is in some ways a very hidden figure, historically speaking. St. Dominic sought to preach and live the Gospel in a deeply coherent way. He was a person of great Eucharistic and Marian devotion, who preached zealously and courageously but who also lived with his brothers in humility. In a certain way he hid himself amid the brethren as a humble man of God in regular prayer and common life. That’s really beautiful. Every Dominican seeks to imitate Saint Dominic, very imperfectly in my case, but I think that’s what we’d aspire to. Of course, there’s Saint Thomas because he has this wonderfully constant, consistent search for the truth at the center of his preaching, teaching, writing, and love of souls. Saint Catherine of Sienna beautifully expresses what it means for the soul to be a bride of Christ and seek mystical union with God animated by the concerns of Christ. These people are wonderful exemplars for those of us in the Dominican Order. There’s a lot of other saints who show us what God’s grace is like in the life of a human person. In St. Teresa of Avila, Joan of Arc, the Cure D’Ars, or Charles de Foucauld, you see the mystery of Christ imprinting Himself on a soul. Or Mother Theresa—what it is like when Christ impresses His own visage, His own face, onto the soul of that person so they become another Christ in the world. We could talk about others, but I think those figures are an immense consolation because they show the consistent reality of Christ present in the heart of the Church. Maybe not in a way that’s quantitatively overwhelming but which is qualitatively so intensive as to manifest the fidelity of God to the Church in and through time.

-George, Robert P.. “Mind, Heart, and Soul: Intellectuals and the Path to Rome” (Kindle Location 1154-1166). TAN Books. Kindle Edition.

Love & saints,
Matthew

Modern Thomism

…we will come under the final judgment of God and are subject to the constraints and possibilities of that judgment. We’re invited to avoid hell and find heaven, a view that isn’t typically welcome among our secular contemporaries, but which has implications for them as well as us. The “gentlemen’s agreement” of secular liberalism is that we ought not attempt to find public consensus upon questions of life after death or the dogmatic truth content of revealed religion. In some ways dogma is considered impolite in a secular context because it could be seen as politically or socially divisive. Although the opposite is true in some real sense because dogma tends to outlive many passing cultures and is a force of unity, vitality, and the renewal of intellectual life. Thinking through traditional dogmas invites us as modern people to think about the longstanding vitality of those doctrines—why they’re pertinent to persons throughout time and history and a stimulus for the intellectual life. Knowledge of what was profound wisdom in a forgone era is typically the best source of illumination for anyone who wishes to re-articulate the conditions of meaning for the future. The temptation in our own age is to think the opposite, as if we need to be in some kind of radical rupture with the past in order to articulate the conditions of meaning for the future. This is a pattern you find in Descartes or in the opening pages of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason or in Nietzsche in a more radical way. But you have people who tend to be both novel and preserve the past; I think this is true of Plato. Plato was very radical, but he also wanted to preserve the heritage of the past Greek religious traditions that came before him. Aristotle, too, is typically very careful in the first book of most of his works to show the insights that come before him and then he introduces a new order of learning and thinking. In general the great medievals like Bonaventure and Aquinas show how the past has contributed to the ongoing project of what they’re undertaking. In our own era Alasdair MacIntyre has been exemplary in showing how this kind of recovery and articulation of principles allows renewed engagement with the contemporary world around oneself.

I think Thomism functions best as an identification of principles and an engagement with contemporary intellectual questions.

I may be optimistic, but I think there are many modern questions Thomism addresses and answers. Thomism helps provide a realistic philosophy of nature, what it means that there are changing substances around us that have identifiable properties by which we can provide taxonomies for the natures of things and understand the ways in which they act upon each other. Aquinas is a phenomenal student of human nature, so he takes very seriously man’s physicality and animality, but also shows his emergent rational properties and freedom in their distinctiveness. He shows there are immaterial features to human knowledge and freedom that denote the presence of an immaterial form or spiritual soul. There’s also the whole architecture of virtue ethics Aquinas provides that is increasingly having an influence in the circles of analytical ethics. His study of the cardinal virtues—justice, prudence, temperance, and fortitude—provides terrific insight into the nature of a person. We’re longing for that in a culture in which there’s a great deal of intellectual instability and nostalgia for consensus. Often people want to impose consensus artificially through politics, which is a very superficial way to gain unity. That politics pervades the university, which is in crisis because there is deep absence of consensus about reality. Aquinas’s general anthropology and moral theory can give us the basis for a much deeper agreement about what human beings are and the structure of moral life than can any identity politics.

Religion doesn’t go away when you banish it from the university. It comes back in other forms, some of which are perfectly innocuous, but others of which are very dangerous. Aquinas is very realistic about the possibilities of pathological religious behavior; he calls it superstitio, the vice of disordered religion. The human being can become, very easily, irrationally religious, as, for example, in the cases of a banal religious emotivism or religiously motivated terrorism. The great conflicts we have between religionists and secularists, it seems to me, are very helpfully addressed by the harmony of reason and revelation in Aquinas, which allows the soul to flourish because the soul is meant for transcendence. Modern secular culture is asphyxiating. The soul needs to be open to the transcendent mystery of God to really experience the full freedom of its own intellectual life, its own voluntary life, its aspiration to the good, and its deepest desires for transcendence and meaning. A culture without an intellectual religious horizon is a truncated culture, but a culture that’s religious at the expense of the intellectual life is also a very unhealthy culture—so how do you get that right? I think Aquinas really helps us understand our natural religious aspirations in a balanced way.

-George, Robert P.. “Mind, Heart, and Soul: Intellectuals and the Path to Rome” (Kindle Location 1115-1153). TAN Books. Kindle Edition.

Love & Thomism,
Matthew

Nov 30 – “Act like a man!!”, Viriliter Agite!!!, Aquinas on Andrew


-statue of St Andrew, St Peter’s Basilica, Rome

“What is man that You are mindful of him, and a son of man that You care for him?” (Ps 8:5)


-by Br Irenaeus Dunlevy, OP

“In the face of gender theory and feminist ideologies which challenge the notion of manhood, the Church needs real men. We need to respond to the Biblical command viriliter agite found frequently in the Vulgate. The phrase translates as “act like a man” in one form or another in Scripture (1 Cor 16:13, Dt 31:6, Ps 30(31):25, 2 Chr 32:7, 1 Mac 2:64). One man who obeyed was St. Andrew, and his very name suggests it. St. Thomas Aquinas explains, “Andrew is interpreted ‘manly’; for as in Latin, ‘virilis‘ [“manly”] is derived from ‘vir’ [man], so in Greek, Andrew is derived from ανηρ [anēr: man]. Rightly is he called manly, who left all and followed Christ, and manfully persevered in His commands.”

Commenting on St. Andrew, St. Thomas gives us 5 tips on how to viriliter agite.

Obey Promptly: “Aristotle states, ‘Those who are moved by God do not need to be counselled; for they have a principle surpassing counsel and understanding.’ St. Chrysostom pronounces the following eulogium of them: ‘They were in the midst of their business; but, at His bidding, they made no delay, they did not return home saying: let us consult our friends, but, leaving all things, they followed, Him, as Elisha followed Elijah.’ Christ requires of us a similar unhesitating and instant obedience.”

Build Up: “And so Andrew, being now perfectly converted, does not keep the treasure he found to himself, but hurries and quickly runs to his brother to share with him the good things he has received. And so, the first thing Andrew did was to look for his brother Simon, so that they might be related in both blood and faith: “A brother that is helped by his brother is like a strong city” (Prv 18:19); ‘Let him who hears say, ‘Come’ (Rv 22:17).”

Hunt Souls: “This gives us the situation of the disciples he called: for they were from Bethsaida. And this is appropriate to this mystery. For ‘Bethsaida’ means ‘house of hunters,’ to show the attitude of Philip, Peter and Andrew at that time, and because it was fitting to call, from the house of hunters, hunters who were to capture souls for life: ‘I will send my hunters’ (Jer 16:16).”

Preach with Courage: “Every preacher should have those names, ‘Peter’ and ‘Andrew.’ For ‘Simon’ means obedient, ‘Peter’ means comprehending, and ‘Andrew’ means courage. For a preacher should be obedient, that he might invite others to it: ‘The obedient man shall speak of victories’ (Pr 21:28). He should comprehend, that he may know how to instruct others: ‘I had rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others’ (1 Cor 14:19). He should be courageous in order to face threats: ‘I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall’ (Jer 1:18); ‘I have made your face hard against their faces, and your forehead hard against their foreheads. Like adamant harder than flint I have made your face’ (Ez 3:8).”

Commit: “Our Lord declared that it belongs to the perfection of life that a man follow Him, not anyhow, but in such a way as not to turn back. Wherefore He says again (Lk. 9:62): ‘No man putting his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’ And though some of His disciples went back, yet when our Lord asked (Jn. 6:68, 69), ‘Will you also go away?’ Peter answered for the others: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?’ Hence Augustine says (De Consensu Ev. ii, 17) that ‘as Matthew and Mark relate, Peter and Andrew followed Him after drawing their boats on to the beach, not as though they purposed to return, but as following Him at His command.’ Now this unwavering following of Christ is made fast by a vow: wherefore a vow is requisite for religious perfection.”

Viriliter Agite!!!
Matthew

Nov 30 – St Andrew, Apostle, (D. 60-70 AD) – “The first shall be last. Many are called. Few are chosen.” -Mt 20:16


-by Br Irenaeus Dunlevy, OP

“We all want to be first.

From our earliest days, we jockey for the prize. Mom’s affection, a gold trophy, bragging rights: you name it, we want it first. Rivalry courses through our veins, and it boils when heated by blood line. Saint Thomas says we’re more likely to envy those nearest to us in relation and talent. Playing superstar Lebron James in one-on-one basketball would be a peaceful honor, but playing my brother is an existential threat. The familiar game between us was warlike, and our broken bodies bear witness to the repeated battles for first place.

The “Protokletos” [protoclete] or “the first called” of the apostles, St. Andrew, did not elbow his brother out of a prize. He hunted him down to share the good news. Aquinas states that Andrew did this so that Peter and he “might be related in both blood and faith.” Though Andrew was first called, he would not be first among equals. Peter became the pope, and Andrew witnessed his own blood receive the keys to heaven.

Considering Andrew was first a disciple of John the Baptist, it is possible that the prophet’s words sank into his heart: “He must increase; I must decrease” (Jn 3:30). Thankfully, Andrew did not mistake God’s favor to his brother as an existential threat. He lived by the words of Christ, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first” (Mt 20:16).

This feast of St. Andrew poses a paradoxical meditation for us. The first-called apostle is celebrated as the last apostolic feast of the liturgical calendar. The Church’s liturgy enters into a new year and new season in which we prepare ourselves for both Christ’s first coming in Bethlehem and his final coming at the Last Judgment. As the light of day wanes evermore, giving rise to the lengthening of night, the season of winter harkens the final days of life. It is precisely in the face of the end that the Church celebrates something new. The Christ Child, the light of the world, comes at the darkest time.

We want to be first, but this won’t happen unless we also wish to be last.

Andrew is an exemplary model of Christ’s words, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all” (Mk 9:35). In these last days of November, meditate upon the call to be like Jesus who did not grasp at divinity like Adam and Eve in the garden. He took the form of a servant, humbling himself, and becoming obedient to death on a cross (Phil 2:6–8).

Our own desire to be first must follow after Christ, and we must realize he goes before us and comes after us. We want to be first, but Christ is first. We need to become last, but Christ is last. He is the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Come Lord Jesus!” (Ed. Maranatha!!)

Evil never delivers…


-Lady MacBeth, 2016

Except if it’s UberEats!!! 🙂

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” -Is 1:18


-by Br Cyril Stola, OP

“In a famous scene of a famous play, a semi-conscious Lady Macbeth wanders around the stage and feverishly rubs her hands together in an attempt to clean blood from them, blood which only she can see. Out of pride and lust for power, she had ascended to the throne by plotting the King of Scotland’s murder. Despite the success of her plan, the weight of sin and guilt drew her into madness. Thus, we see her struggling with the blood: “All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand,” “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!” And yet the spot of blood remains. Nothing she does can clean them.

Her husband, Macbeth, once remarked to her, “For mine own good, all causes shall give way, I am in blood stepp’d in so far that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er.” He thought that killing a few more people would consolidate his power, but more bloodshed brought no peace. Such is the way of evil. Evil makes seemingly simple promises, but in return it always demands more and more. It never delivers.

Evil brought Lady Macbeth to despair. She is trapped by her deeds, and she has no hope. The blood that she had expected to give her a glorious crown gave her ruin, and she knows no redemption. Her hands are stained, seemingly forever.

Little does she know that there is, in fact, a blood capable of cleansing her hands. The saints, we are told, “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 7:14). They themselves sinned, but “they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Rom 3:24-25).

God is a father who welcomes his prodigal children with fanfare and open arms. He is willing to forgive because He desires the children He created to be restored to their proper place: with Him. God does not accept irredeemable situations. He wants to forgive, and God’s forgiveness can be scandalous to us because He desires to forgive even the worst sins, sins for which no one else can make satisfaction. He only asks contrition of the heart, confession to one of his priests, and penance.

No one can reverse all of the consequences of their sins (Ed. in Catholic theology there is the guilt due to sin, which is remitted in the confession and absolution of sins in the confessional, and the recompense due to justice (penalty) occasioned by the sin, as well.  Like when the accused is forgiven by the victim in court, but must still satisfy the penalty determined by the justice system.  Confession is NOT a get-out-of-jail-free card, but it is a don’t-be-damned-to-Hell card.  It is hoped, not guaranteed, the penance prescribed in the confessional will satisfy the righteous justice of the Almighty, but if not completely, additional works of piety, mercy, etc., or even adding to the Treasury of Merit, or, if still not satisfied after life, Purgatory), and, in cases of crime, they need to accept the penalties that justice demands. Nevertheless, we owe it to God to recognize and to accept His mercy. Thanks to God’s mercy, we should never despair. Heaven is possible, and we can be redeemed. With the sacrament of penance, even the worst sinner can turn back to God, trusting that when he prays, “Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow” (Ps 51:9), God hears his prayer and will clean even scarlet hands.”

Love,
Matthew

Divine Invitation & Rejection – Mt 22:2-14

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O my God, give me the sovereign grace to respond to all Your invitations with generosity.

MEDITATION

(Matthew 22:2-14) outlines the sad story—so true even today—of human ingratitude which rejects God’s mercy and is indifferent to His gifts and invitations.

“The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who made a marriage for his son, and he sent his servants to call them that were invited to the marriage; and they would not come.” The king is God the Father, the son is the eternal Word Who, becoming incarnate, espoused human nature in order to redeem and sanctify it.  God invites all men to the great banquet of the divine nuptials at which they will find their salvation; but submerged in the materialism of earthly things, they reject the invitation and the messengers. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them that are sent unto thee” (Matthew 23:37), will one day be the lament of the Son of God as He denounces before the world, not only the obstinate resistance of the chosen people but also that of all souls who have stubbornly and ungratefully rejected His love and His grace. The prophets, St. John the Baptist, and the apostles are the “servants,” the messengers sent by God to call men to the banquet of the Redemption, but they were all taken and killed. They “laid hands on his servants, and having treated them contumeliously, put them to death,” the Gospel says. [The] parable ends there, but unfortunately, human ingratitude has gone much further: not only the servants and messengers were killed, but even God’s very Son. Yet God’s mercy is so great that it cannot be vanquished; He still invites all men to His feast and even offers this divine Son, whom they have killed, to be their Food. The banquet is prepared; Jesus, the divine Lamb has been immolated for the redemption of mankind and, if many fail to accept the invitation, others will be invited. “The marriage indeed is ready, but they that were invited were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as you shall find, call to the marriage.”

We too have been invited. How have we responded to the invitation? Have we not also shown more interest and concern for earthly matters than for the things of God? Have we not been like the men in the parable who “neglected, and went their way, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise?”

COLLOQUY

“O Lord, this is what You say to my soul: ‘Why are you so far away from Me, detained by useless pursuits? Why do you not hasten to prepare a beautiful wedding garment? I suffered death to take you for My spouse. I became man for you, to preserve your life from corruption, I preferred your salvation before all My works. I prepared a nuptial couch for you in heaven, and I commanded the angels to serve you. Would you despise Me, your heavenly Spouse? And whom would you prefer to Me, who in My mercy saved the whole human race? What father could give you life as I have? What father or what spouse can love you as much as I?’

“O my God, what shall I answer You?

Pardon me, save me, O patient, long-suffering Lord! Save me, O Christ, Son of God, who alone are without sin! Grant that my heart may have no desire but to respond to Your invitations, and that with the help of Your grace, I may always do Your will, and be prompt and willing to carry out Your orders, so that, with the talents I have received from You, I may be able to trade and acquire the good things of Your kingdom. Grant that I may praise You trustfully and tell You joyfully when I see You: ‘I am blessed because You have come to clothe me with the worthy nuptial garment which Your grace has purchased for me.’

I shall light the lamp, O Christ, given to me by Your grace and bounty. I shall meet You joyfully, blessing, praising, and glorifying You, O my immortal Spouse” (St. Ephrem).

Love, sincere invitation, and gracious welcome,
Matthew

Love persists

Mt 16:24

It’s hard being Catholic these days.  Not just in the normal ways, either:  bad liturgy, bad music, bad homilies, pray, pay, and obey, “God loves a generous giver”, except from the Church when something is requested, it ONLY flows ONE way!  But, in addition to those, it’s just hard.

I’ve been an activist for victims of clergy sexual abuse since 2007, but somehow, later, it’s harder.  Stages of grief?  Maybe.  Shock first.  Feeling nothing, or less.  Then now.  A funk, really, a funk.  But, love persists, through funks and worse.  Love persists.  It’s how we prove our love to Him, to others.  Being faithful doesn’t mean being devoted when its fun or popular.  That’s easy, of course.

I remember being at the victim impact statement part of the trial of a prominent convicted Jesuit.  A male relative of his was there, but no “confreres”, for all the talk/ink/pixels spilled about that by religious orders; even sinners, even betrayers, even Judas’.   Family, but not “brothers”?  The definition of being faithful occurs especially when it’s not easy.  Love exists in action; not mere sentiment, not wishing, but doing.  Love persists.  It does.  Persist, with me.  And, please, pray for my persistence.

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – Lord, grant that my love for You may not be content with words, but prove itself in generous deeds.

MEDITATION

“Love is never idle.” (Teresa of Jesus Interior Castle V, 4). When the true love of God enters the soul it begins in it an interior change so strong and forceful that it spurs it on to seek ever new ways of pleasing the Beloved, and makes it diligent in devising fresh means of proving its fidelity to Him. Love, in fact, is not nourished by sweet sentiments or fantasies, but by works. “This love,” says St. Teresa, “is also like a great fire which has always to be fed lest it should go out. Just so with these souls [in which God Himself kindles the flame of charity]; cost them what it might, they would always want to be bringing wood, so that this fire should not die” (The Book of Her Life 30). The soul that truly loves does not stop to examine whether a task is easy or difficult, agreeable or repugnant, but undertakes everything in order to maintain its love. It even chooses by preference tasks which demand more sacrifice, for it knows that love is never truer than when it urges the sacrifice of self for the One loved. Hence, through love, “there is caused in the soul a habitual suffering because of the Beloved, yet without weariness. For, as St. Augustine says, ‘Love makes all things that are great, grievous, and burdensome to be almost naught.’ The spirit here has so much strength that it has subjected the flesh and takes as little account of it as does the tree of one of its leaves. In no way does the soul here seek its own consolation or pleasure, either in God, or in aught else” (John of the Cross Dark, Night of the Soul II, 19,4).

This explains the attitude of the saints, who not only embraced wholeheartedly the sufferings with which God strewed their paths, but sought them with jealous care, as the miser seeks gold. St. John of the Cross replied to Our Lord, who had asked him what recompense he desired for the great services he had rendered Him: “To suffer and to be despised for Your love.” And St. Teresa of Jesus, seeing her earthly exile prolonged, found in suffering embraced for God the only means of appeasing her heart, a thirst for eternal love; and she entreated: “To die, Lord, or to suffer! I ask nothing else of Thee for myself but this” (The Book of Her Life 40).

In heaven we shall have no further need of suffering to prove our love, because then we shall love in the unfailing clarity of the beatific vision. But here below, where we love in the obscurity of faith, we need to prove to God the reality of our love.

COLLOQUY

“He who truly loves You, Lord, has only one ambition, that of pleasing You. He dies with desire to be loved by You, and so will give his life to learn how he may please You better. Can such love strong and active love remain hidden? No, my God, that is impossible! There are degrees of love, for love shows itself in proportion to its strength. If it is weak, it shows itself but little. If it is strong, it shows itself a great deal. But love always makes itself known, whether weak or strong, provided it is real love.

“O Lord, grant that my love be not the fruit of my imagination but be proved by works. What can I do for You, who died for us and created us and gave us being, without counting myself fortunate in being able to repay You something of what I owe You?

“May it be Your pleasure, O Lord, that the day may finally come in which I shall be able to pay You at least something of all I owe You. Cost what it may, Lord, permit me not to come into Your presence with empty hands, since the reward must be in accordance with my works. Well do I know, my Lord, of how little I am capable. But I shall be able to do all things provided You do not withdraw from me.

“It is not You that are to blame, my Lord, if those who love You do no great deeds; it is our weak-mindedness and cowardice. It is because we never make firm resolutions but are filled with a thousand fears and scruples arising from human prudence, that You, my God, do not work Your marvels and wonders. Who loves more than You to give, if You have anyone that will receive; or to accept services performed at our own cost? May Your Majesty grant me to have rendered You some service and to care about nothing save returning to You some part of all I have received” (Teresa of Jesus Way of Perfection 40 – Interior Castle III, 1 – The Book of Her Life 21 – Foundations 2).”

Love & faithful persistence in love of Him,
Matthew

Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, Cong. Orat., "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, “You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila, "Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me." –St. Augustine