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Humanae Vitae: in His image & likeness – Gen 1:27

Humanae Vitae

St John Paul II wrote Humanae Vitae is the “struggle for the value and meaning of humanity itself.” -Crossing the Threshold of Hope, 113.

Paul VI was so shocked by the ferocity of the attacks against Humanae Vitae that he never published another encyclical, though he reigned another ten years.

Contradiction of the Sexual Act

First, contraception contradicts the nature of sexual intimacy, which has a unitive and procreative meaning that belong together. To understand why it is immoral to separate them, imagine if a husband wanted to use his wife for her procreative potential, but had no desire to unite with her on a personal level. To avoid any emotional entanglement, he looked away from her whenever they became physically intimate. His disordered and distorted use of the gift of sexuality is obvious. Contraception is a distortion of the sexual gift for the opposite reason. It seeks the physical and emotional sensation of the marital union while blocking its procreative potential.

In John Paul’s words, the inseparability of the two meanings of the sexual act is nothing else than “rereading the ‘language of the body’ in the truth.” 363 The body has a spousal meaning, and speaks a language of total self-giving. Contraception contradicts this meaning at its core. This is not about conforming to impersonal biological laws, but about conforming our wills to the personal Creator who designed our biology and imprinted His will into our human nature. 364

Sadly, most people view Humanae Vitae as an outdated Vatican document, out of touch with the needs and challenges of modern couples. Standing against the Church, her opponents are painted as compassionate champions of a woman’s right to have access to family planning as a form of health care. What these opponents never seem to ask is the underlying assumption of Humanae Vitae: What if the woman’s body is already perfectly made? What if she doesn’t need drugs, chemicals, and barriers to plan her family? What if she simply needs to be understood, and her fertility reverenced? If a couple can learn the woman’s fertility, consider the outcome: Instead of controlling her body with chemicals and devices in order to conform to their sexual desires, the couple learns to control their sexual desires in order to conform to the perfect way that God has created their bodies. This is authentic sexual liberation. When viewed in this light, it’s easier to see that the Church’s teaching on family planning is not simply true and good, but is most of all beautiful.

Contraception might seem like an advancement for humanity because it allows mankind to rule over one’s nature in a way that makes his or her life more convenient. However, John Paul noted that human progress and development can’t be measured by technology alone, but by what truly promotes the good of man, ethics, and what is authentically humanistic. 365 Contraception has failed on all three of these counts. Once the sexual act was divorced from its link to procreation, all other distortions of sexuality became acceptable. Contraception allowed sex without commitment like never before, and led men to view women as objects rather than respected and beloved companions. 366 This is not human progress.

What many people overlook is that contraception was not invented to prevent the possibility of pregnancy. It was invented to prevent the need for abstinence. However, many problems arise when man seeks to master nature without mastering himself.

Contradiction of Wedding Promises

Contraception is not immoral merely because it divides the two meanings of the marital act. In doing so, it is also a contradiction of the vows and promises that spouses make to one another on their wedding day. As part of the marriage liturgy, spouses promise to give themselves to one another and to welcome children into their lives. Because the sexual act is a renewal of the wedding vows, contraception is a contradiction of those promises. 367

In becoming one flesh, the two not only renew their love for one another, they also become an icon of Christ’s love for his bride, and her receptivity to his divine life. Contraception falsifies this sign. If couples are called to be a visible sign of God’s creative love, then the deliberate sterilization of the sexual act is the inversion of their calling. 368

Contradiction of the Person

Finally, contraception is not merely a contradiction of the meaning of the sexual act and of the wedding promises made by spouses. It is contrary to the identity of the human person. 369 John Paul explained, “The human body in its masculinity and femininity is oriented from within to the communion of persons. . . . In this consists its spousal meaning.” 370 In other words, contraception isn’t immoral because it merely violates the nature of the sexual act, but because in doing so, it violates human nature itself.

Written into our humanity is an invitation to express sexual intimacy as persons made in God’s image and likeness. This is why John Paul stated that God’s law of life was given to man as a precious inheritance— not a burdensome prohibition. When speaking to college students in Poland, he reminded them of the joy one should experience in discovering this, saying, “God who is Father, who is Creator, planted a reflection of his creative strength and power within man. . . . We should sing hymns of praise to God the Creator for this reflection of himself in us— and not only in our souls but also in our bodies.” 371

Through their life-giving love, spouses form an image of the Blessed Trinity on earth. 372 Although theirs is only a faint reflection of the glory of the communion that exists between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, it is their identity and therefore their mission to become who they are. Quoting Pascal Ide, Waldstein remarked that “one can condense the whole argument of the Theology of the Body in the statement ‘Gift expresses the essential truth of the human body.’” 373

If “gift” is who we are and what we are called to be, the language of contraception speaks the opposite. There is no true mutual gift of self or acceptance of one’s self by the other. In John Paul’s words, “Such a violation of the inner order of conjugal communion, a communion that plunges its roots into the very order of the person, constitutes the essential evil of the contraceptive act.” 374

The Center of Conjugal Spirituality

When spouses are aware of their identity, their calling becomes clear. In the words of John Paul, the Holy Spirit stirs up within spouses an “attitude of reverence for the work of God.” 375 This does not dampen the experience of intimacy between spouses, but safeguards it. The Pope pointed out that this reverence has enormous significance for the expressions of affection within marriage, “because it goes hand in hand with the capacity for profound pleasure in, admiration for, disinterested attention to the ‘visible’ and at the same time ‘invisible’ beauty of femininity and masculinity.” 376

Although most people don’t associate the word “chastity” with intimacy, it is a prerequisite for it. As discussed earlier, it is necessary to establish a true communion of persons. Regarding chastity in marriage, John Paul declared that this virtue is “at the center of conjugal spirituality.” 377 Chastity, and the attitude of reverence that guides it, shapes the spirituality of couples and grants them a desire to protect the dignity of the sexual act. This manifests itself not merely in the sexual union, but continually through the various ways in which spouses express their love. 378 After all, a true communion of persons within marriage isn’t simply expressed through sexual intimacy, but through becoming one in mind and heart. This attention to the whole person creates true unity. 379

When spouses live life “according to the Spirit,” it gives them a deep awareness of the holiness of the life they have the capacity to create. 380 Contraception does the opposite because it displays a lack of reverence for God’s work and a lack of awareness of the spousal meaning of the body. 381 Therefore, John Paul stated that this lack of understanding— connected with the contraceptive practices and mentality— is “the anti-thesis of conjugal spirituality. 382

-Evert, Jason. Theology of the Body In One Hour (Kindle Locations 1725-1812). Totus Tuus Press. Kindle Edition.

On his 65th birthday, St John Paul II wrote: “If one day illness touches my mind and clouds it, I do surrender to You even now, with this devotion that will later be continued in silent adoration. If, one day I were to lie down and remain unconscious for long, it is my desire that every hour that I am given to experience this be an uninterrupted thanksgiving, and that my ultimate breath be also a breath of love. Then, at such a moment, my soul, guided by the hand of Mary, will face You in order to sing Your glory forever. Amen.” -written at Mechelen, May 18, 1985.

Love, and bracing for His just judgment, relying on His infinite mercy, pray for me,
Matthew

364 Cf. TOB 124: 6; West, Theology of the Body Explained, 591.
365 Cf. TOB 129: 2; 133: 3.
366 Humanae Vitae, 17; cf. Mary Eberstadt, Adam and Eve after the Pill (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2012).
367 Cf. TOB 118: 4.
368 TOB 117b: 3.
369 Cf. TOB 118: 5; 123: 7; 129.
370 TOB 130: 5.
371 Karol Wojtyła, The Way to Christ (San Francisco: Harper, 1982), 55– 56.
372 Cf. TOB 10: 3.
373 Pope John Paul II, Man and Woman He Created Them, 124.
374 TOB 124: 7.
375 TOB 132: 4.
376 TOB 132: 4.
377 TOB 131: 2.
378 Cf. TOB 132: 4.
379 Cf. TOB 132: 5.
380 Cf. TOB 101: 6.
381 Cf. TOB 132: 1– 2.
382 TOB 132: 2.

Nice words

Fernando Karadima, Chile’’s most infamous pedophile priest, sits in court before testifying in a case that three of his victims brought against the country’’s Catholic Church in Santiago, Chile, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. The Vatican ordered Karadima to life of penance and prayer in 2011 for abusing three young boys. A local judge determined the abuse allegations were truthful but absolved Karadima because the time limit had expired for prosecution. The three victims who filed the suit accuse the Chilean Catholic church of a cover up.


From left James Hamilton, José Andrés Murillo and Juan Carlos Cruz

http://www.lastampa.it/2018/05/02/vaticaninsider/karadimas-victims-the-pope-asked-for-forgivgeness-now-exemplary-actions-needed-kUfgAvkSFdkJlNjuDffMgI/pagina.html

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karadima_case

A Wounded Church

Jun 13 – St Anthony of Padua, OFM, (1195-1231 AD), Doctor of the Church, Evangelical Doctor, Doctor of Scriptures, Terror of Infidels, Hammer of Heretics, Professor of Miracles, Finder of Lost Items

“St Anthony!!  St Anthony!!  Please come ’round!!  Something’s lost and can’t be found!!” is a popular Catholic ejaculation.

This excerpt is from the book, “Saint Anthony of Padua: The Story of His Life and Popular Devotions”, which was published in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of St. Anthony Messenger by Franciscan Father Norman Perry (1929-1999)

“Legends about Anthony abound. But let’s turn to the known facts about him.

Anthony was born in 1195 (13 years after St. Francis of Assisi) in Lisbon, Portugal and given the name of Fernando at Baptism. His parents, Martin and Mary Bulhom, apparently belonged to one of the prominent families of the city.

At the age of 15 he entered the religious order of St. Augustine. Monastery life was hardly peaceful for young Fernando, nor conducive to prayer and study, as his old friends came to visit frequently and engaged in vehement political discussions.

After two years he was sent to Coimbra. There he began nine years of intense study, learning the Augustinian theology that he would later combine with the Franciscan vision. Fernando was probably ordained a priest during this time.

The life of the young priest took a crucial turn when the bodies of the first five Franciscan martyrs were returned from Morocco. They had preached in the mosque in Seville, almost being martyred at the outset, but the sultan allowed them to pass on to Morocco, where, after continuing to preach Christ despite repeated warnings, they were tortured and beheaded. Now, in the presence of the queen and a huge crowd, their remains were carried in solemn procession to Fernando’s monastery.

He was overjoyed and inspired to a momentous decision. He went to the little friary in Coimbra and said, “Brother, I would gladly put on the habit of your Order if you would promise to send me as soon as possible to the land of the Saracens, that I may gain the crown of the holy martyrs.” After some challenges from the prior of the Augustinians, he was allowed to leave that priory and receive the Franciscan habit, taking the name Anthony.

True to their promise, the Franciscans allowed Anthony to go to Morocco, to be a witness for Christ, and a martyr as well. But, as often happens, the gift he wanted to give was not the gift that was to be asked of him. He became seriously ill, and after several months realized he had to go home.

He never arrived. His ship ran into storms and high winds and was blown east across the Mediterranean. Months later he arrived on the east coast of Sicily. The friars at nearby Messina, though they didn’t know him, welcomed him and began nursing him back to health. Still ailing, he wanted to attend the great Pentecost Chapter of Mats (so called because the 3,000 friars could not be housed and slept on mats). Francis was there, also sick. History does not reveal any meeting between Francis and Anthony.

Since the young man was from “out of town,” he received no assignment at the meeting, so he asked to go with a provincial superior from northern Italy. “Instruct me in the Franciscan life,” he asked, not mentioning his prior theological training. Now, like Francis, he had his first choice—a life of seclusion and contemplation in a hermitage near Montepaolo.

Perhaps we would never have heard of Anthony if he hadn’t gone to an ordination of Dominicans and Franciscans in 1222. As they gathered for a meal afterward, the provincial suggested that one of the friars give a short sermon. Quite typically, everybody ducked. So Anthony was asked to give “just something simple,” since he presumably had no education.

Anthony too demurred, but finally began to speak in a simple, artless way. The fire within him became evident. His knowledge was unmistakable, but his holiness was what really impressed everyone there.

Now he was exposed. His quiet life of prayer and penance at the hermitage was exchanged for that of a public preacher. Francis heard of Anthony’s previously hidden gifts, and Anthony was assigned to preach in northern Italy. The problem with many preachers in Anthony’s day was that their life-style contrasted sharply with that of the poor people to whom they preached. In our experience, it could be compared to an evangelist arriving in a slum driving a Mercedes, delivering a homily from his car and speeding off to a vacation resort. Anthony saw that words were obviously not enough. He had to show gospel poverty. People wanted more than self-disciplined, even penitent priests. They wanted genuineness of gospel living. And in Anthony they found it. They were moved by who he was, more than what he said.

Despite his efforts, not everyone listened. Legend has it that one day, faced with deaf ears; Anthony went to the river and preached to the fishes. That, reads the traditional tale, got everyone’s attention.

Anthony traveled tirelessly in both northern Italy and southern France—perhaps 400 trips—choosing to enter the cities where the heretics were strongest. Yet the sermons he has left behind rarely show him taking direct issue with the heretics. As the historian Clasen interprets it, Anthony preferred to present the grandeur of Christianity in positive ways. It was no good to prove people wrong: Anthony wanted to win them to the right, the healthiness of real sorrow and conversion, the wonder of reconciliation with a loving Father.

Public Preacher, Franciscan Teacher

Anthony’s superior, St. Francis, was cautious about education such as his protégé possessed. He had seen too many theologians taking pride in their sophisticated knowledge. Still, if the friars had to hit the roads and preach to all sorts of people, they needed a firm grounding in Scripture and theology. So, when he heard the glowing report of Anthony’s debut at the ordinations, Francis wrote in 1224, “It pleases me that you should teach the friars sacred theology, provided that in such studies they do not destroy the spirit of holy prayer and devotedness, as contained in the Rule.”

Anthony first taught in a friary in Bologna, which became a famous school. The theology book of the time was the Bible. In one extant sermon by the saint, there are at least 183 passages from Scripture. While none of his theological conferences and discussions were written down, we do have two volumes of his sermons: Sunday Sermons and Feastday Sermons. His method included the use of allegory and symbolic explanation of Scripture.

Anthony continued to preach as he taught the friars and assumed more responsibility within the Order. In 1226 he was appointed provincial superior of northern Italy, but still found time for contemplative prayer in a small hermitage. Around Easter in 1228 (he was only 33 years old), while in Rome, he met Pope Gregory IX, who had been a faithful friend and adviser of St. Francis. Naturally, the famous preacher was invited to speak. He did it humbly, as always. The response was so great that people later said that it seemed the miracle of Pentecost was repeated.

Padua Enters the Picture

Padua, Italy is a short distance west of Venice. At the time of Anthony, it was one of the most important cities in the country, with an important university for the study of civil and canon law. Sometimes Anthony left Padua for greater solitude. He went to a place loved by Francis—LaVerna, where Francis received the wounds of Jesus. He also found a grotto near the friary where he could pray in solitude.

In poor health, and still provincial superior of northern Italy, he went to the General Chapter in Rome and asked to be relieved of his duties. But he was later recalled as part of a special commission to discuss certain matters of the Franciscan Rule with the pope.

Back in Padua, he preached his last and most famous Lenten sermons. The crowds were so great—sometimes 30,000—that the churches could not hold them, so he went into the piazzas or the open fields. People waited all night to hear him. He needed a bodyguard to protect him from the people armed with scissors who wanted to snip off a piece of his habit as a relic. After his morning Mass and sermon, he would hear confessions. This sometimes lasted all day—as did his fasting.

The great energy he had expended during the Lent of 1231 left him exhausted. He went to a little town near Padua, but seeing death coming close, he wanted to return to the city that he loved. The journey in a wagon weakened him so much, however, that he had to stop at Arcella. He had to bless Padua from a distance, as Francis had blessed Assisi.

At Arcella, he received the last sacraments, sang and prayed with the friars there. When one of them asked Anthony what he was staring at so intently, he answered, “I see my Lord!” He died in peace a short time after that. He was only 36 and had been a Franciscan but 10 years.

The following year, his friend, Pope Gregory IX, moved by the many miracles that occurred at Anthony’s tomb, declared him a saint. Anthony was a simple and humble friar who preached the Good News lovingly and with fearless courage. The youth whom his fellow friars thought was uneducated became one of the great preachers and theologians of his day. He was a man of great penance and apostolic zeal. But he was primarily a saint of the people.

Miracles and Traditions of St Anthony

The reason for invoking St. Anthony’s help in finding lost or stolen things is traced back to an incident in his own life. As the story goes, Anthony had a book of psalms that was very important to him. Besides the value of any book before the invention of printing, the psalter had the notes and comments he had made to use in teaching students in his Franciscan Order.

A novice who had already grown tired of living religious life decided to depart the community. Besides going AWOL he also took Anthony’s psalter! Upon realizing his psalter was missing, Anthony prayed it would be found or returned to him. And after his prayer the thieving novice was moved to return the psalter to Anthony and to return to the Order, which accepted him back. Legend has embroidered this story a bit. It has the novice stopped in his flight by a horrible devil, brandishing an ax and threatening to trample him underfoot if he did not immediately return the book. Obviously a devil would hardly command anyone to do something good. But the core of the story would seem to be true. And the stolen book is said to be preserved in the Franciscan friary in Bologna.

In any event, shortly after his death people began praying through Anthony to find or recover lost and stolen articles. And the Responsory of St. Anthony composed by his contemporary, Julian of Spires, O.F.M., proclaims

“The sea obeys and fetters break
And lifeless limbs thou dost restore
While treasures lost are found again
When young or old thine aid implore.”

St. Anthony Bread is a term used for offerings made in thanksgiving to God for blessings received through the prayers of St. Anthony. Sometimes the alms are given for the education of priests. In some places parents also make a gift for the poor after placing a newborn child under the protection of St. Anthony. It is a practice in some churches to bless small loaves of bread on the feast of St. Anthony and give them to those who want them.

Different legends or stories account for the donation of what is called St. Anthony Bread. By at least one account it goes back to 1263, when it is said a child drowned near the Basilica of St. Anthony which was still being built. His mother promised that if the child was restored to her she would give for the poor an amount of corn equal to the child’s weight. Her prayer and promise were rewarded with the boy’s return to life.

Another reason for the practice is traced back to Louise Bouffier, a shopkeeper in Toulon, France. A locksmith was prepared to break open her shop door after no key would open it. Bouffier asked the locksmith to try his keys one more time after she prayed and promised to give bread to the poor in honor of St. Anthony if the door would open without force. The door then opened. After others received favors through the intercession of St. Anthony, they joined Louise Bouffier in founding the charity of St. Anthony Bread.

St Anthony and the Child Jesus

St. Anthony has been pictured by artists and sculptors in all kinds of ways. He is depicted with a book in his hands, with a lily or torch. He has been painted preaching to fish, holding a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament in front of a mule or preaching in the public square or from a nut tree.

But since the 17th century we most often find the saint shown with the child Jesus in his arm or even with the child standing on a book the saint holds. A story about St. Anthony related in the complete edition of Butler’s Lives of the Saints projects back into the past a visit of Anthony to the Lord of Chatenauneuf. Anthony was praying far into the night when suddenly the room was filled with light more brilliant than the sun. Jesus then appeared to St. Anthony under the form of a little child. Chatenauneuf, attracted by the brilliant light that filled his house, was drawn to witness the vision but promised to tell no one of it until after St. Anthony’s death.

Some may see a similarity and connection between this story and the story in the life of St. Francis when he reenacted at Greccio the story of Jesus, and the Christ Child became alive in his arms. There are other accounts of appearances of the child Jesus to Francis and some companions.

These stories link Anthony with Francis in a sense of wonder and awe concerning the mystery of Christ’s incarnation. They speak of a fascination with the humility and vulnerability of Christ who emptied himself to become one like us in all things except sin. For Anthony, like Francis, poverty was a way of imitating Jesus who was born in a stable and would have no place to lay his head.

In Portugal, Italy, France and Spain, St. Anthony is the patron saint of sailors and fishermen. According to some biographers his statue is sometimes placed in a shrine on the ship’s mast. And the sailors sometimes scold him if he doesn’t respond quickly enough to their prayers.

Not only those who travel the seas but also other travelers and vacationers pray that they may be kept safe because of Anthony’s intercession. Several stories and legends may account for associating the saint with travelers and sailors.

First, there is the very real fact of Anthony’s own travels in preaching the gospel, particularly his journey and mission to preach the gospel in Morocco, a mission cut short by severe illness. But after his recovery and return to Europe, he was a man always on the go, heralding the Good News.

There is also a story of two Franciscan sisters who wished to make a pilgrimage to a shrine of our Lady but did not know the way. A young man is supposed to have volunteered to guide them. Upon their return from the pilgrimage one of the sisters announced that it was her patron saint, Anthony, who had guided them.

Still another story says that in 1647 Father Erastius Villani of Padua was returning by ship to Italy from Amsterdam. The ship with its crew and passengers was caught in a violent storm. All seemed doomed. Father Erastius encouraged everyone to pray to St. Anthony. Then he threw some pieces of cloth that had touched a relic of St. Anthony into the heaving seas. At once, the storm ended, the winds stopped and the sea became calm.

Teacher, Preacher, Doctor of the Scriptures

Among the Franciscans themselves and in the liturgy of his feast, St. Anthony is celebrated as a teacher and preacher extraordinaire. He was the first teacher in the Franciscan Order, given the special approval and blessing of St. Francis to instruct his brother Franciscans. His effectiveness as a preacher calling people back to the faith resulted in the title “Hammer of Heretics.” Just as important were his peacemaking and calls for justice.

In canonizing Anthony in 1232, Pope Gregory IX spoke of him as the “Ark of the Testament” and the “Repository of Holy Scripture.” That explains why St. Anthony is frequently pictured with a burning light or a book of the Scriptures in his hands. In 1946 Pope Pius XII officially declared Anthony a Doctor of the Universal Church. It is in Anthony“s love of the word of God and his prayerful efforts to understand and apply it to the situations of everyday life that the Church especially wants us to imitate St. Anthony. While noting in the prayer of his feast Anthony’s effectiveness as an intercessor, the Church wants us to learn from Anthony, the teacher, the meaning of true wisdom and what it means to become like Jesus, Who humbled and emptied Himself for our sakes and went about doing good.”

In St. Anthony we see the complete harmony of faith and reason, but also that “the wisdom of this world is folly with God. (1 Cor 3:19)” The world may tell us to search for our keys ourselves, unaided by useless prayers. But in light of the knowledge we have through faith, the most rational course of action is to beg for the assistance of the all-knowing & all-loving God, Who certainly knows where our keys are, and Who wishes to help us find them, since He ONLY wills our good through His love, and through the intercession of St. Anthony. The world may tell us that if we are going to find happiness, we must grasp it for ourselves. But through the intercession and teaching of St. Anthony, let us grow in the confidence that our salvation comes through faithfully following Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

Love,
Matthew

Sell EVERYTHING!! Give to the poor. Follow Me. – Mt 19:16–30, Mk 10:17–31, Lk 18:18–30


-“Christ and the rich, young ruler”, Heinrich Hoffman, 1889, purchased by John D Rockefeller Jr, now residing at Riverside Church in New York. Please click on the image for greater detail.

There can be nothing more important than Him. NOTHING. Mt 5:29-30

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

Presence of God– O Jesus, obedient even unto the death of the Cross, teach us to follow Your example.

MEDITATION

Jesus said to the young man who was aspiring to perfection, “If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor,”—the evangelical counsel of poverty — “and come follow Me” (Matthew 19:21)—the counsel of voluntary obedience, according to St. Thomas. To follow Jesus means to imitate His virtues, among which obedience certainly ranks first. Jesus came into the world to accomplish the will of His Father: “It is written of Me that I should do Thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7). Several times during His life He said it expressly: “I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me” (John 6:38); and He declared that His food, His sustenance, the support of His life, was the fulfilling of His Father’s will (cf. John 4:34). But Jesus also wanted to express concretely His dependence on His heavenly Father, by submitting Himself to those creatures who in the natural order had authority over Him as man. Thus he lived for thirty years subject in all things to Mary and Joseph, recognizing His Father’s authority in theirs. “He was subject to them,” the Gospel says (Luke 2:51), as it summarizes in these few words the long years of the private life of the Savior. Later, during His public life, and especially during His Passion, Jesus always gave an example of obedience to constituted authority, civil as well as religious, even subjecting Himself to His judges and executioners and making Himself, according to the words of St. Paul, “obedient unto death, even to the death of the Cross” (Philippians 2:8). Having come into the world through obedience, Jesus wanted to live in obedience and through obedience. He embraced death, repeating in the Garden of Olives: “Father … not My will but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42). To follow Jesus in the life of perfection means that we must voluntarily embrace a life of total dependence. St. Thomas concludes from this that obedience belongs to the essence of the state of perfection.

COLLOQUY

“O Jesus, You would not have one that loves You well take any other road than that which You Yourself took” (cf. Teresa of Jesus Foundations, 5). And now I have decided to follow You, to walk in Your footsteps on the path of holy obedience, a way hollowed out in the solid rock of Your example, of Your most humble submission, of Your ineffable subjection. “O God, You who reign over the angels, You whom the principalities and powers obey, were subject to Mary, and not only to Mary but also to Joseph because of Mary. For God to obey a creature is humility without a parallel. O Lord, You abase Yourself, and I, shall I exalt myself? O my soul, if you disdain to imitate the example of a man, it will certainly not be unworthy of you to imitate your Creator. If perhaps you cannot follow Him wherever He goes, at least follow Him to the point to which He willed to descend for you” (cf. St. Bernard).

O Jesus, grant that I may follow You in the way of obedience; give me a profound spirit of faith so that I shall always be able to recognize Your voice and will in the command of obedience. “Teach me, O Lord, to abandon myself with confidence to Your words: ‘He who hears you, hears Me.’ Teach me to forget my own will; You appreciate this sacrifice very greatly because it makes You Master of the free will which You Yourself have given me. I wish to offer You this gift in its plenitude, with no reservation whatever. Grant that I may be faithful to this resolution and then, in spite of the repugnances and opposition of nature, I shall succeed in conforming myself to what You command; in short, whether it costs me pain or not, I shall succeed in submitting myself. I know indeed, O Lord, that You will not fail to help me, and in subjecting my reason and will for love of You, You will teach me how to become master of them. Once I am master of myself, I shall be able to consecrate myself perfectly to You by offering You a pure will, for You to unite to Your own” (cf. Teresa of Jesus Foundations, 5).

Love, pray for me,
Matthew

Protestant & Catholic: different definitions of grace


-cf Dr. Bryan Cross, PhD, was raised in the Pentecostal tradition, then became Reformed shortly after completing his bachelor’s degree in cellular and molecular biology at the University of Michigan. He then received an M.Div. from Covenant Theological Seminary. In 2003 he and his wife and two daughters became Anglican. On October 8, 2006, he and his family were received into full communion with the Catholic Church. He has previously taught at Saint Louis University, Lindenwood University, and Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. He is presently an assistant professor of philosophy at Mount Mercy University. His personal blog is “Principium Unitatis.”

“When seeking to attain an end, one must keep that end in one’s mind and heart, and ensure that one’s understanding of it is as accurate as possible, to ensure attaining that end. That is no less true in the Christian life, which has heaven as its end. But what is heaven? Is it a garden of earthly delights? A perpetual feast? A planet of our own? A return to the Garden of Eden? Protestant and Catholic accounts of heaven agree that the saints will be in the presence of God in resurrected and glorified bodies, without any suffering, death or sin. Protestant descriptions of heaven typically depict heaven as a place in which sorrow, pain, sin and death have been removed, so that with resurrected bodies the saints eat and drink and fellowship with the incarnate Christ and all the other saints forever on a renewed earth. The Catholic teaching concerning the Beatific Vision is typically not included in Protestant accounts of heaven. That is because Protestant theology has generally not conceived of grace as a participation in the divine nature, and thus has not seen heaven as a culmination of theosis or insertion by participation into the divine life. Hence in Protestant theology the happiness enjoyed by the saints in heaven is not God’s own happiness…

…In other words, the difference between the Protestant and Catholic conceptions of grace leads to different conceptions of what heaven is and what is our essential happiness in heaven. If grace is mere favor (Protestant), and union with God is only covenantal (Protestant), then the happiness of heaven is having Christ and the saints near us forever, and being free from sin in our souls, and free from suffering and death in our bodies forever. But if grace is a participation in the divine nature (Catholic), then the essence of eternal life is union with God in the Beatific Vision (Catholic), which is not everlasting existence (Protestant), but is eternity itself, namely, the “simultaneously-whole and perfect possession of interminable life.”1

Any Protestant conception of ‘heaven’ without the Beatific Vision is something like Abraham’s bosom or the Garden of Eden, and is infinitely surpassed by the supernatural happiness of the Beatific Vision, God’s own infinite happiness. But that supernatural end requires grace as a participation in the divine nature, not merely divine favor. (Cf. Scott Clark’s claim that grace is merely divine favor.)

https://aleteia.org/2013/03/12/what-is-the-difference-between-the-catholic-and-protestant-understandings-of-grace/


-by Anna Krestyn, who is a freelance writer and Director of Religious Education at St. Lawrence the Martyr Catholic Church in Alexandria, VA. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Thomas Aquinas College and worked as a publishing assistant at Catholic Answers in her native California before moving to northern Virginia to pursue pastoral work.

Protestants tend to think grace works extrinsically to the person

“One of the great divisions between Catholic and Protestant theology regards the understanding of how grace, the gift of God won for humanity by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, works on the human soul. This division essentially became a disagreement between the Catholic Church and the Protestant reformers of the 16th century about man’s justification, or means of salvation – a matter that remains a source of tension even today.

The Protestant reformers of the 16th century supported the idea that grace works extrinsically on the human person; it does not penetrate and cleanse human nature from within. Martin Luther, a central figure of the Protestant Reformation, taught that after baptism, original sin remained. Grace acts as a sort of cloak which covers the corruption of human nature and makes the person acceptable to God, though underneath he remains depraved. Luther is famously credited with having said that the justified soul is a “snow-covered pile of dung.”

What follows from this understanding of grace is the Protestant teaching that a person’s actions are worth nothing toward his or her justification, since they come from a sinful source. From this has emerged the doctrine of sola fide, or justification by “faith alone”. Evangelical Protestants identify the moment of justification as the moment when the person experiences, for the first time, genuine faith – this moment is what the well-known phrase “born again,” (John 3:3) means for them. Protestants consider good works and taking after the example of Christ as a process of becoming holy, which is distinct from justification.

The Catholic teaching, on the other hand, is that grace does indeed work intrinsically, and that in Baptism the person is truly made a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). “The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us ‘the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ’ (Rom 3:22) and through Baptism,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches. And the Second Vatican Council re-affirmed that “[t]he followers of Christ … are justified in the Lord Jesus, because in the baptism of faith they truly become sons of God and sharers in the divine nature. In this way they are really made holy. Then too, by God’s gift, they must hold on to and complete in their lives this holiness they have received” (Lumen Gentium, #40).

So baptism fully cleanses the human person of original sin, though the tendency to sin remains and keeps us in need of ongoing grace, especially through the Sacraments. And against the notion of justification by faith alone, the Church teaches that we are saved not only through faith but also through the expression of this faith in good actions. “My brothers, what good is it to profess faith without practicing it? Such faith has no power to save one, has it?” wrote St. James (James 2:14), in the epistle which Luther significantly called a “perfect straw-epistle” compared to the writings of St. Paul, who emphasized the need for faith.

During his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI offered a helpful re-casting of this long-standing disagreement between Catholics and Protestants about grace and justification. According to the Pontiff, “the centrality of justification without works, the primary object of Paul’s preaching, does not clash with faith that works through love; indeed, it demands that our faith itself be expressed in a life in accordance with the Spirit. Often there is seen an unfounded opposition between St. Paul’s theology and that of St James, who writes in his Letter: ‘as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead’(2: 26). In reality, while Paul is primarily concerned to show that faith in Christ is necessary and sufficient, James accentuates the consequential relations between faith and works (cf. Jas 2: 24). Therefore, for both Paul and James, faith that is active in love testifies to the freely given gift of justification in Christ.”

Love & His grace,
Matthew

(1) Summa Theologica I. Q.10 a.1.

Why aren’t my prayers answered?

God’s providence, especially the word “providence”, especially with a capital “P”, as it should always, always be spelled in relation to the Deity, is and is a concept, sadly, out of fashion, even in Church circles, today. However, it was not always so. And, regardless of its trendiness, or lack thereof, is reality. And, regardless of its trendiness, or lack thereof, I can tell you, from decades of experience, as the song says,

https://www.wordonfire.org/resources/article/stephen-colbert-jrr-tolkien-john-henry-newman-and-the-providence-of-god/4904/

STEPHEN COLBERT, J.R.R. TOLKIEN, JOHN HENRY NEWMAN, AND THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD
-by Bishop Robert Barron, August 25, 2015

Just last week, Stephen Colbert gave an interview in which the depth of his Catholic faith was on pretty clear display. Discussing the trauma that he experienced as a young man—the deaths of his father and two of his brothers in a plane crash—he told the interviewer how, through the ministrations of his mother, he had learned not only to accept what had happened but actually to rejoice in it: “Boy, did I have a bomb when I was ten; that was quite an explosion…It’s that I love the thing that I wish most had not happened.” Flummoxed, his interlocutor asked him to elaborate on the paradox. Without missing a beat, Colbert cited J.R.R. Tolkien: “What punishments of God are not gifts?” What a wonderful sermon on the salvific quality of suffering! And it was delivered, not by a priest or bishop or evangelist, but by a comedian about to take over one of the most popular television programs on late night.

But what particularly intrigued me was the reference to Tolkien, which was culled, not from The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit, but from a letter that the great man wrote to an inquirer, who had wondered whether Tolkien took death with sufficient spiritual seriousness in his literary work. Like Colbert, Tolkien had suffered enormous trauma as a young man. His father died in 1896, when Tolkien was only three, and his mother Mabel took him and his younger brother back to England (the family had moved to South Africa for economic reasons). Upon their return to her hometown of Birmingham, Mabel decided to become a Roman Catholic, a move that was met with enormous opposition on the part of her family, who essentially disowned her and left her in destitution. During this terrible period, Tolkien’s mother turned to the priests of the Birmingham Oratory, who cared for her needs both spiritual and financial and who took a keen interest in her fatherless children.

In 1904, Tolkien and his brother became orphans when their mother died of diabetes. Years later, the famous author mused that his mother was a kind of martyr, since she had been in effect hounded to death for her decision to become a Catholic and to raise her sons in the faith. Frightened, alone, and adrift, the boys were taken in by Rev. Francis Xavier Morgan, a priest of the Oratory. The kindly man, whom Tolkien always referred to affectionately as “Fr. Francis,” became a father figure, instructing the young men in matters both sacred and secular and teaching, as Tolkien would later put it, the meaning of “charity and forgiveness.” Tolkien named his eldest son for the priest, and many have suggested that there is a fair amount of Fr. Morgan in Gandalf and other wisdom figures in the master’s oeuvre. It was assuredly Fr. Francis who taught the young Tolkien, who had endured more trials than any child ought to endure, that “all of God’s punishments are gifts.”

But where had the priest learned that lesson? The Birmingham Oratory(1)  had been established in the mid-nineteenth century by the legendary John Henry Newman, who at the time had just become a Roman Catholic, thereby excluding himself from the institutions of British society. When he set up the Oratory in the industrial city of Birmingham, Newman was passing through a real “Lenten” period, for he was excoriated as a traitor by the Anglican establishment and looked upon with suspicion by Catholics. In time, Newman would reemerge as a cultural leader within British society, and his Oratory would become a center for Catholic evangelism in England. But this would happen only through Newman’s dark night experiences. What his Oratorian disciples, including Fr. Francis, would have taken in is the lesson that “punishments” often turn out to be precious gifts.

What this chain of influences teaches us—and here I come to the point of this essay—is that God’s providence is a mysterious and wonderful thing. Were it not for John Henry Newman’s establishment, through much suffering, of the Birmingham Oratory, there would never have been a Fr. Francis Xavier Morgan, and if there had never been a Fr. Morgan, the young Tolkien boys might easily have drifted into unbelief or spiritual indifference, and if J.R.R. Tolkien had not taken in the lessons he learned from his mentor, he would never have shared the insight about God’s gift that brought such comfort to a young Stephen Colbert in his moment of doubt and pain.

One of the most potent insights of the spiritual masters is that our lives are not about us, that they are, in fact, ingredient in God’s providential purposes, part of a story that stretches infinitely beyond what we can immediately grasp. Why are we suffering now? Well, it might be so that, in St. Paul’s language, we might comfort someone else with the same consolation we have received in our suffering. And that someone might be a person who has not even been born. St. John Paul II commented that, for people of faith, there are no coincidences, only aspects of God’s providence that we have not yet fully understood. The line that runs from Newman to Morgan to Tolkien to Colbert was not dumb chance, a mere coincidence; rather, it was an instance of the slow but sure unfolding of the divine plan.” (Ed. Praise Him, Church!!! Praise Him, for ever and ever!!!)


-by Br Stephen Ruhl, OP

Why aren’t my prayers answered? One often hears this question in relation to requests big and small. Why hasn’t St. Anthony found my keys yet? Why haven’t I been able to find a new job? Why did my cancer come back? Why hasn’t God heard my prayers?

Of course God hears each one of our prayers. His response to our requests, however, is not always what we expect and certainly not always what we desire. Yet he always responds. He sometimes responds with the perfect job listing or with a miracle cure, and in these cases it’s easy to see our prayers being answered. When he answers with another year in the same office, though, or with another failed treatment, it’s difficult to see what God is offering us.

The Collect of the Mass this week offers some insight into this conundrum:

O God, whose providence never fails in its design,
keep from us, we humbly beseech you,
all that might harm us
and grant all that works for our good.

God’s providence never fails in its design. Whatever God sends our way, however he chooses to answer our prayers, his providence is being fulfilled.

It is important to recall, though, the goal of God’s providence. He calls us all to eternal life with him, and our life on this earth is a journey to heaven. In asking God to keep us from harm, we are asking him, most ultimately, to keep us from that which would cost us eternal life. And when we ask God to grant all that works for our good, we are asking, most ultimately, for that which will lead us to heaven.

We can hardly see how the daily struggles, big and small, work in accord with this plan, especially when these difficulties seem opposed to our good. But we trust in God’s never-failing providence, begging him to keep us from harm and to grant that which works for our good. And in doing so, we can be sure he will answer our requests in accord with his divine plan.”

Love & trusting ALWAYS in His Providence,
Matthew

(1) An Oratory is a place for worship and Mass, but not a church. Catholicism has many “technical” terms, for this and for that, i.e. what is a “shrine”, Code of Canon law, canons 1230 and 1231, to be precise!!!  Where, when, whom, how the Eucharist may be “reserved”, or kept on the premises.  It is a VERY SERIOUS thing for Catholics!  Since, any desecration of the Eucharist results in automatic excommunication, Latae sententiae, “it has already passed.”  The first thing ecclesiastical authorities do when they become displeased with less than a church, I HAVE WITNESSED is threaten to personally retrieve the Eucharist from said source of displeasure.  This would be traumatic to Catholics, since beyond being a most serious censure, Jesus would have been removed from the premises!!  And, therefore, Catholics would have no reason to visit this location, and the scandal therein implied, not wanting to be associated.  All a bishop has to do is declare something non-Catholic, and the majority will shun.  Technically, the goal of the Mass is NOT to produce additional Eucharist for reservation in the tabernacle, rather the ideal is to have the People of God consume all consecrated at that Mass.  The reservation of the Eucharist in the tabernacle is a serendipitous accident, in which the faithful can spend time with the Lord at any point the church is open, and that is why Catholic churches try to stay open as much as possible where physical safety, and secondarily where property safety, do not impede.  See how much fun we get to have!!!!!  🙂

Concealed Divinity


-Dante Angelic Choirs, please click on the image for greater detail

“You may not see My face, for no one can look upon Me and live.” -Ex 33:20

Our reward is the promised “beatific vision”, which means the eternal and direct visual perception of God. It means seeing God face to face. St. Thomas Aquinas reasoned that one is perfectly happy only when all of one’s desires are perfectly satisfied, and this cannot occur until we are fully united with God. That complete union can happen not through human imagining nor even in the most deeply contemplative prayer, but only by the direct presence of God in heaven.

Hell is to be completely separated from God for beyond eternity: no hope, no life, the second death, and that is why it is suffering beyond eternity. God will grant us our heart’s desire. Like on Earth, He will not violate our free will. If our desire is to be separated from God, by will, or by action, without repentance in this life, He will grant that, too. I say this first of all to myself, and frequently I remind myself, “Repent!! And, BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL!!!” This IS LIFE!!

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

Presence of God – Give me light, O Lord Jesus, to see in the lowliness of the Child, the indescribable Majesty of the Son of God.

MEDITATION

Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature; for in Him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible … all things were created by Him and in Him. And He is before all, and by Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:15-17). This text from St. Paul summarizes the infinite greatness of Jesus. As the Word, He is the perfect, substantial image of the Father, having the same divine nature as the Father and proceeding from Him by eternal generation. As the Word He is the first-born of all creatures, begotten of the Father before all creation; furthermore, the Father created everything through Him, His Word, His eternal Wisdom. St John of the Cross teaches, “God looked at all things in this image of His Son alone, which was to give them their natural being and to communicate to them many natural gifts and graces…. To behold them … was to make them very good in the Word, His Son.” (St John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle, 5,4). But the Word is not only the first-born of all creatures. Possessing the same divine nature as the Father, He is also their Creator, for “without Him was made nothing that was made” (John 1:3).

All these splendors, which belong by nature to the Word, became the splendors of Jesus, the Man-God, by reason of His Incarnation and His hypostatic union. In fact, St. Paul declares that “in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead corporeally” (Colossians 2:9).

Jesus was pleased to conceal all the infinite riches of His divinity in the obscurity of the manger; yet, guided by faith and love, we shall not be slow to recognize and praise Him in this lowly guise.

COLLOQUY

“Thou hast multiplied Thy wonderful works, O Lord, my God; and in Thy thoughts there is no one like to Thee” (Psalm 40:6). “It is good to give praise to the Lord: and to sing to Thy Name, O Most High, to show forth Thy mercy in the morning, and Thy truth in the night. For Thou hast given me, O Lord, a delight in Thy doings; and in the works of Thy hands I shall rejoice. O Lord, how great are Thy works! Thy thoughts are exceeding deep.” (Psalm 92:2-3, 5-6).

What work could be more wonderful than the Incarnation of Your only-begotten Son? Is there any masterpiece more sublime than Jesus Christ, true God and true man, “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3)?

O Jesus, You make me understand that You are really God made man and You manifest Yourself to my soul with such majesty that I can no longer doubt Your infinite greatness. O Lord, who can comprehend the depths of Your great Majesty, You who are the absolute Ruler of heaven and earth?

“O Christ, my God, my hope, lover of mankind, the light, the way, the life; the salvation, honor, and glory of all Your servants, You live eternally, reigning now and for all eternity…. You are my living and true God, my holy Father, my loving Lord, the great King, the good Shepherd, my only Teacher, my incomparable helper, my guide to heaven, my straight path … my immaculate Victim, my holy Redeemer, my firm hope, my perfect charity, my true resurrection, my eternal life. I long for You, my sweetest, most beautiful Lord!…

O splendor of the Father’s glory, who sit above the Cherubim and scrutinize the abyss, true light, shining light, unfailing light, on Whom the angels desire to gaze, behold my heart before You; drive away the darkness from it that it may be more abundantly inundated with the splendors of Your holy love.

Give me Yourself, O my God, give me Yourself, that I may love You; and if my love is not very fervent, make me love You more ardently.

“I cannot measure what is wanting in my love to make it what it ought to be, to make it run to meet Your embrace, and not to leave it until my life is hidden in the light of Your face; this I know, that all is a source of evil for me except You, O Lord, and not only what is outside of me, but also what is within me. All wealth which is not my God is poverty and misery for me” (St. Augustine).

Love,
Matthew

I seek not My own glory – Jn 8:50

“I honor My Father…. I seek not My own glory.”
“I receive not glory from men.”
(John 8:49, 50; John 5:41)

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

Presence of God – O Jesus, increase within me Your love and Your zeal for the glory of the Father; teach me to despise all personal glory and to flee from it.

MEDITATION

“Jesus ever sought His Father’s glory, and to this end He chose for Himself utter humiliation, even to becoming “the reproach of men and the outcast of the people” (cf Psalm 22:7). Bethlehem, Nazareth, Calvary—the three great stages of the humble, hidden life of Jesus, in which He veiled His glory as the Son of God. Even during His public life, when His divinity was more openly manifested, Jesus tried to flee as much as possible from human glory. Many times after performing a miracle, He imposed silence on those who had witnessed it. He forbade the three Apostles who had been present at the Transfiguration “to tell any man what things they had seen, till the Son of Man shall be risen again from the dead” (Mark 9:8). After the first multiplication of the loaves, “when He knew that they would come to take Him by force and make Him king [He] fled again into the mountain Himself alone” (John 6:15).

The glory of Jesus lies in the fact that He is the Son of God; He desires no other glory. It is as though He would relinquish this essential glory by accepting any other. Therefore He said: “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father that glorifieth Me” (John 8:54). Jesus knows that after His death He will be glorified and acknowledged as the Son of God and the Savior of the world, but He desires that even this glory may be for the glorification of His Father: “Father, the hour is come, glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may glorify Thee” (John 17:1).

COLLOQUY

O Lord, give me Your love for Your Father’s glory, so that I too, wretched and poor though I am, may serve my God in some small way and give Him glory.

“May it be Your pleasure, my God, that the time may come when I shall be able to pay at least a small part of the immense debt I owe You; do You ordain it, Lord, according to Your pleasure, that I may in some way serve You. There have been others who have done heroic deeds for love of You; I myself am capable of words only; and therefore, my God, it is not Your good pleasure to test me by actions. All my will to serve You amounts to nothing but words and desires, and even here I have no freedom, for it is always possible that I may fail altogether. Strengthen and prepare my soul, Good of all good, my Jesus, and then ordain means whereby I may do something for You, for no one could bear to receive as much as I have and pay nothing in return. Cost what it may, Lord, permit me not to come into Your presence with such empty hands, since a man’s reward must be according to his works! O Lord, here is my life, my honor, and my will! I have given it all to You; I am Yours; dispose of me according to Your desire. Well do I know, Lord, how little I am capable of, but keep me near You. I shall be able to do all things, provided You do not withdraw from me. If You should withdraw, for however short a time, I should go where I have already been—namely, to hell” (Teresa of Jesus, Life, 21).

Make me understand, O Lord, that if I wish to work for Your glory and the glory of Your Father, I must be entirely detached from every desire for personal glory; otherwise I shall deceive myself, thinking that I am working for You, whereas in reality I am but serving my own ego.

You know, O Jesus, that herein lies the greatest danger for me, that which I fear most in my good works, especially in the works of my apostolate. Therefore, I beg You, Lord, to use every means to save me from it. And if this requires humiliations, failure, criticism, use them, and use them abundantly. Do not consider my repugnance, pay no attention to my tears, for I do not want to lessen Your glory or ruin Your works by my pride.”

Love & His glory,
Matthew

Alter Christus

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

Presence of God – O Jesus, deign to imprint Your likeness on my poor soul, so that my life may be a reflection of Yours.

MEDITATION

The imitation of Christ should not be limited to some particular aspect of His life; it means living Christ and becoming completely assimilated to Him. The life-giving principle of our resemblance to Christ is grace: the more grace we possess, the greater our resemblance to Him. The principal characteristic of Christ’s soul is the unlimited charity which urges Him to give Himself entirely for the glory of His Father and the salvation of souls. This same charity increases in our souls in the measure in which we grow in grace and live under the influence of Jesus, who is the source of grace, and to the degree in which our souls are directed by the same divine Spirit that directed the soul of Jesus. Each one of us will be an alter Christus (another Christ) in the measure in which he receives Christ’s influence, His grace, His virtues, the gifts of the Holy Spirit and, above all, the motion of the Holy Spirit, which urges us to make a complete gift of self for the glory of God and the good of our neighbor. However, in order to accomplish this fully, we must continually die to ourselves, “always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest … in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:10, 11). Jesus lived a life of total abnegation in order to save us; we too must follow in His footsteps that He may live in us and we in Him. “For to me, to live is Christ.” (cf Philippians 1:21) is the cry of the Apostle who had so lived Christ that He was able to say, “I live, now not I but Christ liveth in me.” (Galatians 2:20).

COLLOQUY

“O my Christ, Whom I love! Crucified for love! I long to be the bride of Your heart! I long to cover You with glory and love You … even until I die of love! Yet I realize my weakness and beg You to clothe me with Yourself, to identify my soul with all the movements of Your own. Immerse me in Yourself; possess me wholly; substitute Yourself for me, that my life may be but a radiance of Your life. Enter my soul as Adorer, as Restorer, as Savior!

O consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, descend upon me and reproduce in me, as it were, an incarnation of the Word; that I may be to Him a super-added humanity wherein He may renew all His mystery!” (St Elizabeth of the Trinity, Elevation to the Most Holy Trinity).

O my Jesus, this is my great desire: to be an extension of Your humanity, so that You can use me with the same freedom with which You used the humanity that You assumed on earth. Now in Your glory in heaven, You continue to adore the Father, implore Him on our behalf, give grace to our souls; You continue to love us and offer the merits of Your passion for us; but You can no longer suffer. Suffering is the only thing that is impossible for You, who are glorious and omnipotent, the only thing which You do not have and which I can give You. O Jesus, I offer You my poor humanity, that You may continue Your passion in me for the glory of the Father and the salvation of mankind. Yes, Jesus, renew in me the mystery of Your love and suffering; continue to live in me by Your grace, by Your charity, by Your Spirit. I want my humble life to be a reflection of Yours, to send forth the perfume of Your virtues, and above all the sweetness of Your charity.

You know O Jesus, that the world needs saints to convert it—saints in whom it will be able to recognize and experience Your love and infinite goodness, saints in whom it will find You again. O Lord, although I am so miserable, I also want to be of the number of these Your faithful followers in order that through me You may continue to win souls for the glory of the Blessed Trinity. O Jesus, give us many saints and grant that many priests may be counted among them.”

Love,
Matthew

Final Perseverance


-Stations of the Cross, Pasierbiec, Poland, using Saints and other heroic Catholics from Poland. The Station in question thus substitutes Saint John Paul II in the place of Simon of Cyrene (fifth station).

“But he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved.” (Matt. 24:13)

“But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first conviction to the end….” (Hebrews 3:13-14)

“Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1. Cor. 9:24)

One of the fundamental propositions of the Ignatian Exercises is to pray for the grace you need. Thus, if you are impatient, you should pray continually for the virtue of patience. Ask, and it shall be given to you (Luke 11:9). Now, paying heed to the immense wisdom of our Catholic spiritual heritage, it is incredibly prudent to pray for the most important grace of final perseverance. In his 750 page treatise, The Spiritual Life, Father Adolphe Tanquerey makes the following observation (p. 68):

“…final perseverance is a singular and priceless gift. We cannot merit it strictly speaking. To die in the state of grace in spite of all the temptations that assail us at the last hour, to escape these by a sudden and tranquil death – falling asleep in the Lord – this is truly in the language of the Councils the grace of graces. We cannot ask for it persistently enough. Prayer and faithful co-operation with grace can obtain it for us.”

Still further, in the Theological Dictionary of Father Karl Rahner, SJ, et al, it is stated:

“It is the defined teaching of the Church that actual perseverance to the end (perseverantia finalis) is impossible without a special grace (D 832); it remains uncertain whether this later will be granted (D 826); it cannot be merited, but the Christian is to pray for it and cherish the firm hope of it.”

The great Dominican and Thomist, Father Garrigou-LaGrange, OP*, says this: “Therefore, to obtain this grace of final perseverance, we should frequently unite ourselves with the Eucharistic consecration, the essence of the sacrifice of the mass, pondering on the four ends of sacrifice: adoration, supplication, reparation and thanksgiving” (Providence, p.331). This is quite a beautiful and powerful recommendation. He also mentions the advice of Pope Benedict XV to have a mass said while you are living for the grace of a happy death. Make the effort – it will be well worth it! – to have a mass said for you and your spouse (or sibling, etc.) to die in sanctifying grace.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is mindful of our need for final perseverance (I recall the prayer Jesus said for Peter’s perseverance at the Last Supper, Luke 22: 31-32, and also Judas’ tragic fall from grace despite such a good beginning). One of the great promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to Saint Margaret Mary involves a special grace of final perseverance:

“I promise you in the excessive Mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful Love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months the Grace of Final Penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving the Sacraments; My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.”

Of this promise (quoted above) Father Garrigou-LaGrange states:

“We may here remind the reader of the great promise of the Sacred Heart, to those who receive Communion well on nine successive First Fridays. This promise, we have said, is absolute, that it supposes that Communion has been well made for these nine times. This would be, therefore, a grace given only to the elect.” (Life Everlasting, p. 262).

-Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

* Father Garrigou-LaGrange once had a student named Karol Wojtyla (Pope St John Paul II, of recent memory)

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

Presence of God – O Lord, make me persevere in seeking You and in serving You, in spite of all the difficulties which I may encounter.

MEDITATION

St. Teresa says that anyone who wishes to give himself to prayer with profit must make “an earnest and most determined resolve not to halt” on the way he has chosen. This means that we must give ourselves to prayer, not for a stated time only, but at all times, every day, all our life; let us not be dissuaded from prayer for any reason whatsoever. “Come what may, happen what will, let those complain who will, tire yourself as you must, but even if you die half-way along the road … tend always toward the goal” (Way of Perfection, 21). Let us ever remember that this goal is the living water promised by Jesus to those who sincerely thirst for Him and His love.

Without a strong, determined resolve, the soul will too often find more or less plausible reasons for neglecting prayer. Sometimes aridity will make the soul think that it is a waste of time to devote itself to an exercise from which it seems to draw no fruit, and that it would be better to use this time in good works. Sometimes, too, our numerous employments will seem to justify this idea. At other times, the feeling of our wretchedness—especially when we consider our want of fidelity to grace—will make us think ourselves unworthy of divine intimacy and that, therefore, it is useless to persevere in prayer. It should be evident that all these pretexts are suggestions of the enemy who, sometimes under the pretext of zeal for exterior works, sometimes under that of false humility or of waste of time, does all he can to draw souls away from prayer. “No temptation,” declares St. Teresa, “is more serious” than this one, “and the devil does us the very greatest harm by it” (cf. The Book of Her Life, 7 – 8). Therefore, she insists: “One who has begun to make mental prayer must never give it up, in spite of the sins into which he may fall. Prayer is the means which will help him to rise. Without prayer, this would be more difficult. He should not allow himself to be deceived by the devil to abandon prayer under the pretext of humility” (The Book of Her Life, 8).

COLLOQUY

“O Lord, I know that in order that love be true and friendship lasting, equal conditions must exist between the two friends. I also know that there can be nothing wrong in You; while my nature, on the contrary, is vicious, sensual, and ungrateful … Hence I cannot love You as You deserve.

O infinite goodness of my God! I see who You are and who I am, and seeing how different You are from me, O joy of the angels, I long to be wholly consumed in love for You! How true it is that You bear with those who permit You to be with them! How good a friend You are to them! How You lavish Your favors upon them and bear with them, and wait until their ways become more like Yours. You remember the time spent in loving You, and at the first sign of repentance, You forget all their offenses. This I know from experience, and I do not understand, O my Creator, why the whole world does not strive to draw near You in this intimate friendship. The wicked, who are not like You, ought to come so that You may make them good, allowing You to be with them, at least two hours each day, even though they are not with You but with a thousand cares and thoughts of the world, as I used to be. In exchange for the effort which it costs them to want to be in such good company (for You know that in the beginning they cannot do more, nor afterwards sometimes) You force the devils not to attack them, and make the devils every day less strong against them, and give these souls strength to conquer them. Yea, Life of all lives, You slay none of those who put their trust in You and desire You for their Friend” (Teresa of Jesus, The Book of Her Life, 8).

O Lord, give me also that holy audacity which will make me always persevere in prayer, in spite of exterior and interior difficulties, aridities, weakness, and lack of correspondence with Your grace…. You will remedy all my ills.”

Love,
Matthew