Category Archives: Saints

True joy

Joy is the arousal of some sense of good. When we malign and obscure good, we malign and obscure joy. St. Gregory the Great tells us, for example, that (a false) joy may result from another’s misfortune (CCC 2539). The unrighteous presence of envy, in this case, corrupts true joy.

There’s a better means of obtaining the joy that comes from the Spirit, and a study of the life of St. Philip Neri reveals this.

After his ordination to the priesthood, Philip had become tremendously popular in Rome, which caused some to treat him with disdain and spread gossip about his intentions. They accused him of pride, unholy ambition, and having a vice for attention, and sought to have him removed from all activity he was involved in. Some sent for the attention of the vicar general of Rome, who questioned, then rebuked and threatened Neri with prison, before ordering him to cease all his activities.

How did Neri receive this clear and undeserved abuse? With cheer!

He informed his accusers that he was not interested in a popularity contest, but worked each day for the glory of God, and promised to remain obedient to whatever wish his superiors would have for him. Feeling patronized, the vicar general grew even more angered dismissed Philip from his house.

In private, though, Neri was greatly troubled by these accusations, for what he loved and cherished had been taken away from him. Yet he still treated his enemies with kindness until they were overcome with love for him by his mighty and courageous charity.

Each of his oppressors regained confidence in Philip with full remorse. Neri was able to resume his activities, attracting even more to his following in Rome.

Neri understood that truly joyful character is steadfast and unwavering when tested.

True joy works together with the other fruits of the spirit, especially faithfulness, patience, and self-control. A true sense of joy is pure as gold, and everyone reacts well to gold which is why, eventually, his accusers praised him for his purity.

There is more from the life and words of Neri that clarifies his true sense of joy and how we can put that to use in serving others.

The day before his death was the Feast of Corpus Christi, and Philip offered Mass in the afternoon after hearing confessions for most of the day. He seemed so fit that day that his friend and physician, Angelo Vittorio, remarked that he could live another ten years (he was seventy-nine). That night, after having retired to his quarters at the normal time, he ate his usual sparing meal and went to rest.

But, as he revealed to Nero, who was one of his closest companions, he had been given supernatural knowledge that he would pass on the Feast of Corpus Christi just as St. Gonzaga, and, desiring no extra attention, wanted to prove to those present that he was in a correct state of mind. So he asked one of those present was time it was. It was three hours after sunset. Three hours,” he replied. “If you add two onto that, it makes five, if you add three, it makes six. Off to bed with you!” Even at nearly eighty, knowing he was living his last night, our saint kept his sense of humor and used it to deflect attention from himself.

Saint Philip Neri was a man of abiding joy and solemn humor. He cracked funnies when things didn’t seem to be so funny. Who makes joked about the time of night just before dying? Even when others were held in a state of fear and anxiety, his antidote was cheer:

To a sick priest: “Be of good cheer, you will recover from this present illness.”

To one close to death: “Be of good cheer, you will most certainly not die of this illness.”

To a woman filled with terror: “Be cheerful, you have nothing to fear, believe me.”

His words should fill us up with saintly cheer, his stories should make us laugh, and his life should make us contemplate the mysteries of the devout life. In his own words:

“Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and helps us to persevere. The true way to advance in holy virtues, is to advance in a holy cheerfulness. The cheerful are much easier to guide in the spiritual life than the melancholy. A servant of God ought always to be in good spirits. Charity and cheerfulness, or charity and humility, should be our motto.”

Love, & the Joy only He can give,
Matthew

Skepticism

Credo ut intelligam is an axiom of St Anselm, Doctor of the Church, (1033-1109 AD). Understanding the Gospel with assent does NOT precede faith, and never will. Whatever progress we make in understanding the Gospel, incrementally, in our lives, incredibly slowly, is preceded by faith. Faith is required.  Pray for it.  Pray for me.

The reason many people find Christianity bizarre is they try and understand it the same way they understand everything else new, ever, in their lives.  They research it, analytically.   Anselm posits, it will NEVER make sense to anyone that way.  Christian faith is a product of supernatural grace and supernatural faith.  Not natural faith, “I believe in the law of gravity.”  Not mortal grace, whatever that is.  But, a gift, a mystery.  Recall the Catholic use of the word “mystery” is inverse to the English use of it.  Catholic mystery is infinitely knowable. “I believe, so that I may understand.” Help my unbelief, Lord.

“…skepticism…stems from the fear of making a mistake, and is based on its own form of spiritual paralysis and even despair…Reasonable openness to God, then, is a source of spiritual youth in any person or culture…Refusal of the mystery of God makes us the unique masters of ourselves, but also imprisons us within the ascetical constraints of our own banal finitude…Posing questions about God opens the human being up to new vulnerabilities, and therefore also to new forms of happiness that the artificial limitations of skepticism cannot foresee.

Augustine noted that deep-seated skepticism is a luxury item that the true intellectual cannot afford. He points out that belief—faith in what others tell us for our instruction—is fundamental for the intellectual life.17…Concretely, human faith in authentic teachers is nearly always the basis for true growth in understanding…Augustine then draws up a key set of distinctions. On one side, there is extreme skepticism, by which a person remains in a conventional posture, and risks nothing but also can gain nothing. On the other side, there is credulousness, a foolish form of faith by which we mistakenly entrust ourselves to a poor teacher, or even to a true teacher, but fail to understand the material for ourselves, remaining infantilized or rudimentary in our insight. Faith that “merely believes what it ought to believe” is “dead.”18

Between the two extremes is the middle way of “faith seeking understanding,” one that is both human and Christian. We should accept instruction but also examine it critically and studiously, seeking to find the truth in what is said, to test it…Likewise there is a discipline of the mind in becoming a Christian, learning the truth as revealed by God, and developing an intellectual understanding of God’s mystery.

…human beings tend to live “above” the merely empirical dimension of life…So too with the transcendent God, we can learn from Him personally only through faith.19

To receive this instruction requires supernatural faith, which is itself a grace. This grace, as Aquinas notes, is received into the intellect, allowing us to judge that a given teaching comes from God and is about God.20…supernatural faith is like natural trust in a teacher, but it provides something more: direct access to the mystery of God Who reveals Himself to us and teaches us. To seek to know God entails risk, undoubtedly, but it also entails an irreplaceable possibility: that we could truly come to know God personally, find friendship with God, and live with Him by grace. If this possibility is real, and not a mere myth or human conjecture, then it is the greatest of possibilities, and one that we should not dismiss through fear, resignation or complicity with the conventions of our age. As Anselm writes:

“Indeed, for a rational nature to be rational is nothing other than for it to be able to discriminate what is just from what is not just, what is true from what is not true, what is good from what is not good. . . . The rational creature was made for this end: viz., to love above all other goods the Supreme Being, inasmuch as it is the Supreme Good. . . . Clearly, then, the rational creature ought to devote his entire ability and his entire will to . . . understanding and loving the Supreme Good—to which he knows that he owes his existence.”21

The real opposition, then, is not between faith and reason, but between a skeptical reason that is reductive, and a magnanimous, studious reason that engages in faith. Expansive desire for the truth breaks away from conventions, and awakens human beings to our true nobility, against temptations to self-diminishment. The Christian vocation of “faith seeking understanding” is both dynamic and restful. It gives us something greater than ourselves to ponder, and takes us out of ourselves toward God as our teacher. But it also allows us to know ourselves as rational beings, able truly to ask and even answer the deeper religious questions. Faith therefore creates a learning community. The Church is a place where human beings have the conviction to patiently seek the truth together, in a shared life of charity, one that is both cosmopolitan and personal, both reasonable and religious, both philosophical and theological. This communion in the truth is made possible, however, only because people have first accepted to be apprenticed to revelation through a common effort of learning the truth from Another (i.e., God), Who is the author of Truth, and from one another.”

-White, OP, Rev. Thomas Joseph (2017-09-13T23:58:59). The Light of Christ: An Introduction to Catholicism (Kindle Location 656, 665-667, 679-673, 676-681, 685, 688, 693-694, 696-697, 702-719). Catholic University of America Press. Kindle Edition.

Love & truth,
Matthew

17. Augustine, On the Profit of Believing, pars. 10–13, 22–27.
18. Thus Anselm, Monologion, par. 78, echoing Augustine; trans. J. Hopkins in A New, Interpretive Translation of St. Anselm’s Monologion and Proslogion (Minneapolis, Minn.: Arthur J. Banning Press, 1986).
19. Augustine, Concerning Faith of Things Not Seen, par. 2.
20. Aquinas, Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 1, a. 1; q. 2, a. 1 [hereafter “ST”]. All translations of ST are taken from Summa Theologica, trans. English Dominican Province (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1947).
21. Anselm, Monologion, par. 68.

Nov 15 – St Albert the Great, OP, (1200-1280 AD) – Bishop, Scientist, Doctor of the Church, Doctor Universalis, Doctor Expertus


-by Charlie McKinney, adapted from the above

“Thorough Theologian

Albert’s greatest love of all was his love for God.

Albert so loved the natural sciences, waxing eloquent in his writings on everything from flowers to insects to fish to the squirrelly daily habits of the squirrels, because they all in small, diverse ways reflected the unspeakable, simple goodness and majesty of the Creator, from whom all creation flows. Albert knew so well how God speaks to us through creation, but he also knew that God has spoken to us directly too, in His revelation, and most directly of all through the words and the deeds of His Son incarnate.

Albert’s love for God is seen in his extensive knowledge of the Scriptures, of Church history, of the liturgy, and of the Eucharist. Albert left extensive commentaries on the Scriptures, among the most prominent being his Commentary on Saint Luke’s Gospel. He wrote beautifully about the Eucharist and offered practical advice on mastering the art of prayer to express our love for God.

Perhaps Albert’s most significant purely spiritual work, De Adherendo Deo (On Cleaving to God), is one that he might have not written in its entirety. The beautifully simple, although profoundly moving book, which has been called a worthy companion to Thomas à Kempis’s Imitation of Christ, is about “cleaving freely, confidently, nakedly, and firmly to God alone . . . since the goal of Christian perfection is the love by which we cleave to God.”

Charging Champion

The virtue of fortitude comes from the Latin fortis, “strength.” Saints Albert and Thomas would write a great deal about the nature of virtues, including fortitude, and Albert clearly not only knew of this spiritual strength but did not shy away from living it.

Fortitude employs the irascible appetite and can raise our ire to fight back to defend the good, even when this means facing difficult obstacles. We saw that Albert was happy bravely to champion the cause of the rights of the Dominicans and Franciscans when challenged by the secular professors of the University of Paris. We saw too a flicker of Albertian ire when he railed at those even within his order who tried to squelch the study of philosophy. Perhaps the most poignant and powerful example of Albertian fortitude, though, is how he defended his own greatest student not long after that student’s death.

On March 7, 1277, three years to the day after the death of Thomas Aquinas, Bishop Steven Tempier of Paris, having solicited input from various theologians, produced 218 propositions that were said to be contrary to the Catholic Faith. Among that list, sixteen propositions were clearly compatible with the writings of Thomas Aquinas. Some reports indicate that the elderly Albert traveled the three hundred miles to Paris on foot to meet Tempier’s challenge and champion his brilliant student’s thought. He began his speech to the learned professors by stating, “What glory it is for one who is living to be praised by those who are dead.” He went on to portray Saint Thomas as the one who truly lived, while his accusers of unorthodoxy were covered in shades of death through their ignorance and ill will. He defended the orthodoxy of Thomas’s writings, along with Thomas’s personal sanctity, offering to defend them both before an assemblage of competent men. He returned to Cologne and poured over Thomas’s writings, declaring to an assemblage of Dominicans that Thomas’s works were so masterful that he had “labored for all to the end of the world, and that henceforth all others would work in vain.”

Of course, the writings of Saint Thomas did not put an end to works in theology but would stimulate an endless stream of new work inspired by his brilliance as the Dominican Order and countless popes across the centuries have sung the praises for his works of theology. Thomas’s philosophical and theological sons and daughters would come to be called Thomists, and Albert himself is the first and the foremost among them.

Cherished Child

For many decades Albert the Great shone as one of the brightest lights in one of the greatest of centuries. His learning was unequalled, and he was known far and wide as a man who could get things done. The bark of his preaching and teaching had inflamed the hearts of countless students, friars, nuns, and parishioners who had heard and seen him. Recall, though, the legend that Blessed Mary had foretold that at the end of his days he would be bereft of his vast knowledge. A poignant tale records that Archbishop Sigfried had come to the Dominican convent to visit the elderly Albert one day and, knocking at the door of his cell, called out, “Albert, are you there?” The venerable master did not open the door, but merely answered: “Albert is no longer here; he was here once upon a time.”

It is said that the greatest encyclopedic mind of the century, the medieval memory master, began to lose his memory in the last weeks of his life. He retained the ability to say Mass, as he had done for so many years, but he removed himself ever more from the world, content to pray in his garden and his cell. The boots that had taken him all across Europe carried him daily to the site he had selected as the resting place of his body, as he prayerfully and peacefully prepared for the inevitable day of his death. His spirit strove solely to cleave closer to God.

In the twilight hours of November 15, 1280, clothed in the habit of the Order of Preachers, seated in a large wooden chair in his cell and surrounded by his brother friars in Christ, Saint Albert whispered that it had been a good thing to be a Dominican, and then, like a cherished child, his soul left to meet his heavenly Father and Mother.”

Love,
Matthew

Nov 10 – Pope St Leo the Great, (400-461 AD), “Challenge your heart”


-Francisco de Herrera el Mozo (spanish, 1622-1685): Saint Leo Magnus (pope Leo I), 164 x 105 cm, Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain

Leo’s papacy “…was undoubtedly one of the most important in the Church’s history.1” -Pope BXVI


-by Br Isidore Rice, OP

“The road that stretches before the feet of a man is a challenge to his heart long before it tests the strength of his legs.” (Fr. Walter Farrell, OP, My Way of Life)

St. Leo the Great must surely have felt the truth of this as he walked out unarmed to halt the impending hordes of Attila the Hun. Attila had rampaged through Northern Italy and would soon have proceeded to pillage Rome, had not the Pope, with no defense save the grace of Christ, turned him back.

Our destiny is to run to the edge of the world and beyond, off into the darkness: sure for all our blindness, secure for all our helplessness, strong for all our weakness, gaily in love for all the pressure on our hearts.” (Farrell).

Even when he was not confronting invading barbarians, St. Leo had to defend a Church pressured by errors on every side. In the West, some Pelagian clergy, thinking that God’s activity threatens our free will, excluded God from the beginning of man’s quest for God. In the East, some fell into the error of Eutyches, thinking that the supreme power of Christ’s divinity must smother His humanity into one nature. Even in Rome itself, Manichaeism was looting souls by pitting matter against spirit as the domains of two eternal antagonists.

Against all these attacks, St. Leo boldly proclaimed the person of Jesus Christ, who is “true God born in the undiminished and perfect nature of a true man, complete in what is His and complete in what is ours” (Tome of Leo)

“The great truths that must flood the mind of man with light are the limitless perfection of God and the perfectibility of man. The enticements that must captivate the heart of man are the divine goodness of God and man’s gratuitously given capacity to share that divine life, to begin to possess that divine goodness even as he walks among the things of earth. The truths are not less certain because they are too clear for our eyes. The task before our heart is not to hold a fickle lover, but to spend itself.” (Farrell).

All the errors Leo faced were attempts to dim the light of mystery, to make Christ, true God and true man, all too visible to our understanding. Thus they reduced the living God to a “fickle lover” who must be impressed by our good deeds, a bully who drives out what is authentically human, or an aloof spirit who could have nothing to do with flesh. But in Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, we see both the blinding “perfection of God and the perfectibility of man.” In Jesus we see the God who does not need to compete with His creatures but rather invites them to cooperate with Him. In Jesus we see a man who reveals to man the heights to which he can be drawn.

“If man begins life with wisdom lent by God, he ends by possessing that wisdom; if he guides his steps by a light that is not his own along a road too high and hard for his feet, he ends united to that eternal Light, and at home forever in a world that is God’s.” (Farrell).

Troparion (Tone 3)

You were the Church’s instrument
in strengthening the teaching of true doctrine;
you shone forth from the West like a sun dispelling the errors of the heretics.
Righteous Leo, entreat Christ God to grant us His great mercy.

Troparion (Tone 8)

O Champion of Orthodoxy, and teacher of holiness,
The enlightenment of the universe and the inspired glory of true believers.
O most wise Father Leo, your teachings are as music of the Holy Spirit for us!
Pray that Christ our God may save our souls!

Kontakion (Tone 3)

Seated upon the throne of the priesthood, glorious Leo,
you shut the mouths of the spiritual lions.
With divinely inspired teachings of the honored Trinity,
you shed the light of the knowledge of God up-on your flock.
Therefore, you are glorified as a divine initiate of the grace of God.”

Love,
Matthew

1. Pope Benedict XVI, “Saint Leo the Great”, General Audience, 5 March 2008, Libreria Editrice Vaticana

The Saints on Purgatory

“[Judas Maccabeus] took up a collection . . . to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.”
– 2 Maccabees 12:43-44

“When loved ones die, many people experience, in addition to grief and loneliness, a concern over the state of those loved ones, particularly if those departed souls weren’t the saintliest people in their lifetime or if they died sudden, unprovided deaths. What has become of these souls? Those who are left behind wonder.

The Church has always taught the existence of Purgatory, a place or state of existence after death, where, if necessary, we’re cleansed of any remaining effects of our sins and made ready to enter into Heaven. Moreover, as Scripture attests, our prayers and sacrifices can be of immense spiritual help to the persons undergoing this purification process; we can pray for specific persons, such as deceased loved ones, or for the souls in Purgatory in general.

Because God loves us and wants us to be with Him in Heaven, there must be some opportunity for us to finish being healed, or purged of our sins, after death, should this be necessary.

This cleansing process is what we call Purgatory. The saints believed without reservation in this reality. They themselves, because of their immense love of God, were ready to enter Heaven immediately after death, but they were mindful of those who were not as fortunate; after all, this is one of the signs of true love: caring for those in need, whether that need be physical or spiritual.

St. Elizabeth of Portugal, who reigned as queen of that country at the beginning of the fourteenth century, had a much-loved daughter named Constance. The young princess died very suddenly after being married, causing Elizabeth and her husband, King Denis, much grief. Soon after this, a hermit came to the queen with a shocking story: while he was praying, Constance had appeared to him, beseeching him to take a message to her mother. She was suffering terribly in Purgatory and would remain there a very long time unless Mass was offered for her each day for a year.

The king responded, “I believe that it is wise to do that which has been pointed out to you in so extraordinary a manner. After all, to have Masses celebrated for our dear deceased relatives is nothing more than a paternal and Christian duty.” Elizabeth accepted this advice, and arranged for the Masses to be said by a holy priest. One year later her daughter appeared to her, clothed in a brilliant white robe, and said, “Today, dear mother, I am delivered from the pains of Purgatory and am about to enter Heaven.” St. Elizabeth gave thanks to God and expressed her gratitude by distributing alms to the poor.

A number of saints (plus other mystics and visionaries) have allegedly seen Purgatory (and also Heaven and Hell). St. Frances of Rome was granted such a vision; she said that it consists of three levels. The lowest level is like a vast burning sea, where the persons undergo various sufferings related to the sins they committed on earth. The middle level is less rigorous, but still unpleasant. The highest level of Purgatory is populated by those who are closest to being released. These persons suffer mainly the pain of loss: that of yearning for God and of not yet truly possessing Him.

There’s consolation in all three levels, but especially in the highest. The souls in Purgatory know that, sooner or later, they’ll be with God in Heaven and that all their present sufferings are valuable and redemptive. Other saints and visionaries confirm this description, adding that our prayers and sacrifices — because they’re freely given — are immensely helpful to those in Purgatory, for God greatly values each one of our freely offered sacrifices, no matter how small. Some mystics have supposedly learned that when we pray for specific persons who are in Purgatory, they see us at that instant and are strengthened by the knowledge that we’re remembering them.

Many of the saints are said to have had experiences that confirmed the Church’s teaching on Purgatory. For instance, St. Louis Bertrand, a seventeenth-century priest, offered Masses, prayers, and sacrifices for his deceased father until finally he was granted a vision of his entry into Heaven. This happened only after eight years of prayer on his part. In the twelfth century, the famous Irish bishop St. Malachy learned that his sister was destined to suffer a long time in Purgatory, for she had lived a very sinful life before repenting; his prayers eased her sufferings, but did not significantly lessen her time there. In the fifteenth century, the sister of St. Vincent Ferrer appeared to him as she was about to enter Heaven and revealed that had it not been for the many Masses he offered on her behalf, her time in Purgatory would have been much longer.

A story is told about St. Teresa of Avila in this regard. A priest she knew had just died, and God revealed to her that he would remain in Purgatory until a Mass was said for him in the chapel of a new Carmelite house that was to be built. Teresa hurried to the site and had the workmen begin raising the walls of the chapel immediately, but as this would still take too long, she obtained permission from the bishop for a temporary chapel to be erected. Once this was done, Mass was celebrated there, and while receiving communion, Teresa saw a vision of the priest thanking her most graciously before entering God’s kingdom.

Showing concern for the dead and the dying is a great sign of love. Bl. Raymond of Capua, the biographer of St. Catherine of Siena, wrote that she attended her father, Jacomo, during his final hours. Learning in a revelation that this holy man nonetheless would require some purification in Purgatory, Catherine begged God to let her suffer pains of expiation on his behalf so that he might enter Heaven immediately. God agreed; Jacomo, who had been suffering greatly, thereupon experienced a happy and peaceful death, while Catherine was seized with violent pains that remained with her for the rest of her life. Raymond witnessed her suffering, but he also took note of her incredible forbearance and patience, along with her great joy on her father’s behalf.

An incident from the life of the Italian priest Padre Pio indicates that souls in Purgatory may request our prayers. One day in the 1920s, he was praying in the choir loft when he heard a strange sound coming from the side altars of the chapel. Then there was a crash as a candelabra fell from the main altar. Padre Pio saw a figure he assumed to be a young friar. But the figure told him, “I am doing my Purgatory here. I was a student in this friary, so now I have to make amends for the errors I committed while I was here, for my lack of diligence in doing my duty in this church.” The figure said that he had been in Purgatory for sixty years, and after requesting Padre Pio’s prayers, he vanished. Many other souls in purgatory are said to have asked for his assistance, including four deceased friars sitting around the fireplace in a state of great suffering; Padre Pio spent the night in prayer, securing their release.

Other saints are said to have had similar experiences, including St. Odilo, the eleventh-century abbot who began the practice of offering Mass for all the souls in Purgatory on what is now known as All Souls Day, the day after the feast of All Saints.

Our prayers for those who suffer there can be spiritually valuable to them. Because the saints believed in both sin and redemption, mercy and justice, they also acknowledged the existence of Purgatory and did everything possible to relieve those undergoing purification there. As the saints were far more conversant with the ways of Divine Providence than any of us could honestly claim to be, we would do very well to follow their example.”

Love,
Matthew

We were made for happiness. It is our natural end.

be·at·i·tude
/bēˈadəˌt(y)o͞od/
noun
noun: beatitude, plural noun: beatitudes
1. supreme blessedness.

“Since happiness is the perfect and sufficient good, it must needs set man’s desire at rest and exclude every evil. . . . Wherefore also according to the Philosopher (Ethics, 1:9), happiness is the reward of works of virtue. — St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-II, Q. 5. arts. 4, 5

“Now I wish to tell you further, that a man proves his patience on his neighbor, when he receives injuries from him. Similarly, he proves his humility on a proud man, his faith on an infidel, his true hope one who despairs, his justice on the unjust, his kindness on the cruel, his gentleness and benignity on the irascible. Good men produce and prove all their virtues on their neighbor. . . .” — St. Catherine of Siena, Dialogue

“Perceived lack of intimacy and belonging is clearly a threat to our happiness and, indeed, is a real evil when evil is understood as a lack of a good that should be present…As St. Irenaeus stated so well eighteen centuries ago, “The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God.”13

One hundred years before Irenaeus’s birth, God made Himself visible and explained in His own words why He came to the people on earth: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). St. Thomas Aquinas added that God intends for us a twofold happiness: an imperfect happiness while here on earth and a perfect happiness in heaven.

Starting with Aristotle and concluding with St. Matthew, Thomas tells us: “The Philosopher, in placing man’s happiness in this life (Ethics, 1:10), says it is imperfect, and after a long discussion concludes: We call men happy, but only as men. But God has promised us perfect happiness, when we shall be as the angels . . . in heaven (Matt. 22:30).”14 And what are the keys to both kinds of happiness? We saw in this chapter’s first quotation that St. Thomas Aquinas claims that virtues hold the keys to happiness.

Virtues are habits or dispositions to know the truth and to do the good. They perfect our powers as human beings made in the image and likeness of God with intellects and wills. They perfect the capacities of our intellects to know what is true, and the capacities of our wills to rein in our passions and desires to keep us from doing what is wrong and to guide us toward what is right. The more we embrace and build these capacities, the happier we become and the less susceptible to negative attitudes and emotions, including those that accompany excessive, prolonged loneliness.

Now, there are important natural virtues, such as temperance, fortitude, justice, and prudence, long known to great pagan philosophers. And literally thanks be to God, there are also supernatural, theological, or infused virtues that the Father and the Son freely bestow on us through the workings of the Holy Spirit: faith, hope, and love (also called charity). All the virtues work together to guide us toward that imperfect happiness we can experience on earth and the perfect eternal bliss we hope to share: the beatific vision of God in heaven.”

Love,
Matthew

Vost, Kevin. Catholic Guide to Loneliness (Kindle Locations 379-389, 391-417). Sophia Institute Press. Kindle Edition.

13 Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV, 20, 7, as cited in Mons. Phillipe Delhaye, Pope John Paul II on the Contemporary Importance of St. Irenaeus, no. 10, http://www.ewtn.com/library/theology/irenaeus.htm.
14 Summa Theologica (ST), I-II, Q. 3, art. 2.

Nov 1 – Litany of the saints

Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy, on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.
St. Michael, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, pray for us.
St. Raphael, pray for us.
All you Holy Angels and Archangels, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
All you Holy Patriarchs and Prophets, pray for us.
St. Peter, pray for us.
St. Paul, pray for us.
St. Andrew, pray for us.
St. James, pray for us.
St. John, pray for us.
St. Thomas, pray for us.
St. James, pray for us.
St. Philip, pray for us.
St. Bartholomew, pray for us.
St. Matthew, pray for us.
St. Simon, pray for us.
St. Jude, pray for us.
St. Matthias, pray for us.
St. Barnabas, pray for us.
St. Luke, pray for us.
St. Mark, pray for us.
All you holy Apostles and Evangelists, pray for us.
All you holy Disciples of the Lord, pray for us.
All you holy Innocents, pray for us.
St. Stephen, pray for us.
St. Lawrence, pray for us.
St. Vincent, pray for us.
Sts. Fabian and Sebastian, pray for us.
Sts. John and Paul, pray for us.
Sts. Cosmas and Damian, pray for us.
All you holy Martyrs, pray for us.
St. Sylvester, pray for us.
St. Gregory, pray for us.
St. Ambrose, pray for us.
St. Augustine, pray for us.
St. Jerome, pray for us.
St. Martin, pray for us.
St. Nicholas, pray for us.
All you holy Bishops and Confessors, pray for us.
All you holy Doctors, pray for us.
St. Anthony, pray for us.
St. Benedict, pray for us.
St. Bernard, pray for us.
St. Dominic, pray for us.
St. Francis, pray for us.
All you holy Priests and Levites, pray for us.
All you holy Monks and Hermits, pray for us.

St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us.
St. Agatha, pray for us.
St. Lucy, pray for us.
St. Agnes, pray for us.
St. Cecilia, pray for us.
St. Anastasia, pray for us.
St. Catherine, pray for us.
St. Clare, pray for us.
All you holy Virgins and Widows, pray for us.
All you holy Saints of God, pray for us.
Lord, be merciful, Lord, save your people.
From all evil, Lord, save your people.
From all sin, Lord, save your people.
From your wrath, Lord, save your people.
From a sudden and unprovided death, Lord, save your people.
From the snares of the devil, Lord, save your people.
From anger, hatred, and all ill-will, Lord, save your people.
From the spirit of uncleanness, Lord, save your people.
From lightning and tempest, Lord, save your people.
From the scourge of earthquake, Lord, save your people.
From plague, famine, and war, Lord, save your people.
From everlasting death, Lord, save your people.
By the mystery of your holy Incarnation, Lord, save your people.
By your Coming, Lord, save your people.
By your Birth, Lord, save your people.
By your Baptism and holy fasting, Lord, save your people.
By your Cross and Passion, Lord, save your people.
By your Death and Burial, Lord, save your people.
By your holy Resurrection, Lord, save your people.
By your wonderful Ascension, Lord, save your people.
By the coming of the Holy Spirit, Lord, save your people.
On the day of judgment, Lord, save your people.
Be merciful to us sinners, Lord, hear our prayer.
That you will spare us, Lord, hear our prayer.
That you will pardon us, Lord, hear our prayer.
That it may please you to bring us to true penance, Lord, hear, our prayer.
Guide and protect your holy Church, Lord, hear our prayer.
Preserve in holy religion the Pope, and all those in holy Orders, Lord, hear our prayer.
Humble the enemies of holy Church, Lord, hear our prayer.
Give peace and unity to the whole Christian people, Lord, hear our prayer.
Bring back to the unity of the Church all those who are straying, and bring all unbelievers to the light of the Gospel, Lord, hear our prayer.
Strengthen and preserve us in your holy service, Lord, hear our prayer.
Raise our minds to desire the things of heaven, Lord, hear our prayer.
Reward all our benefactors with eternal blessings, Lord, hear our prayer.
Deliver our souls from eternal damnation, and the souls of our brethren, relatives, and benefactors, Lord, hear our prayer.
Give and preserve the fruits of the earth, Lord, hear our prayer.
Grant eternal rest to all the faithful departed, Lord, hear our prayer.
That it may please You to hear and heed us, Jesus, Son of the Living God, Lord, Hear our prayer.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord!
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord!
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us!
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer. Lord Jesus, hear our prayer.
Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Love,
Matthew

Faith, reason, & mystery

Many cogent Catholic lines of thought, taken towards their logical conclusion end in “…it’s a mystery.” Granted, somewhat unsatisfying, but accurate. When the Church, or a well formed member of hers, uses the “mystery”, their meaning in using this word is 180 degrees inverted from our common usage of this word. The Catholic definition of the word “mystery” is: not something which cannot be known, but, rather, something which can be infinitely known.

-by Br Elijah Dubek, OP

“It is tempting for the contemporary Catholic, especially an enthusiastic apologist, to try to explain and to prove the faith to others. I know many, myself included, who have discussed the faith with family or friends who have fallen away or even simply have a question to ask: nearly always, I overdid it. We want to recommend a great book to them, answer their questions, or take away all their intellectual obstacles to belief. After all, if everyone knew how reasonable our faith is, they would stop fighting it and hop on board, right? St. Thomas Aquinas cautions us against this method, “lest anyone, presuming to demonstrate what is of faith, should bring forward reasons that are not cogent, so as to give occasion to unbelievers to laugh” (Summa Theologiae). This is not merely a cautionary measure for those who simply do not know the reasons, as if he is telling us to leave the arguments to the experts. Rather, St. Thomas wants to safeguard the divine origin of faith, “that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor 2:5).

Following this, the First Vatican Council declared, “There is a twofold order of knowledge, distinct both in principle and in object” (Dei Filius, Ch. 4). On the one hand, there is natural knowledge, which progresses from human reason as its principle and reaches toward its appropriate truths (those which we can discover through experience, argumentation, etc.). The other order is supernatural, bestowed on us through the divine gift of faith, revealing to us truths beyond our natural capacity. Indeed, Dei Filius insists that “there are proposed to our belief mysteries hidden in God, which unless divinely revealed cannot be known.” Furthermore, the supernatural order can grant us certitude even about some truths within the realm of reason.

The First Vatican Council and St. Thomas want us to recognize the distinct spheres of faith and reason, while realizing that the subject matter does indeed overlap at times. For example, we can know that God exists by reason and by faith. Natural reason can arrive through argumentation concerning the origin, conservation, and governance of creation to the certainty of the existence of God (with much difficulty, the admixture of error, and only after a long time, St. Thomas tells us). Reason is confident because of the soundness of one’s argument and understanding. Through faith, on the other hand, we believe in God because God revealed himself to us. Faith’s confidence rests in God, trusting not in our own ability but in God’s testimony.

While faith can certainly overlap in content with reason, we should remember what Vatican I told us: “There are proposed to our belief mysteries hidden in God, which unless divinely revealed cannot be known.” Far beyond reason’s reach, faith receives mystery. We should not depreciate these mysteries, as if we can penetrate them without divine assistance. After all, these mysteries are hidden in God! Far from discouraging us from seeking to understand, the recognition of the hidden, inaccessible character of mystery should teach us how precious faith is. Even if only “in a mirror dimly” (1 Cor 13:12), faith enables us to see these hidden mysteries. Let us dwell in these mysteries through faith, awaiting the day we may see the Lord face-to-face forever.”

Love, living with you the mystery,
Matthew

Nov 1 – Solemnity of All Saints

From a sermon by Saint Bernard, abbot

Let us make haste to our brethren who are awaiting us.

“Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this feast day mean anything to the saints? What do they care about earthly honors when their heavenly Father honors them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son? What does our commendation mean to them? The saints have no need of honor from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.

Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our dispositions change. The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it. The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them.

Come, brothers, let us at length spur ourselves on. We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven. Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us. We should not only want to be with the saints, we should also hope to possess their happiness. While we desire to be in their company, we must also earnestly seek to share in their glory. Do not imagine that there is anything harmful in such an ambition as this; there is no danger in setting our hearts on such glory.

When we commemorate the saints we are inflamed with another yearning: that Christ our life may also appear to us as He appeared to them and that we may one day share in His glory. Until then we see Him, not as He is, but as He became for our sake. He is our head, crowned, not with glory, but with the thorns of our sins. As members of that head, crowned with thorns, we should be ashamed to live in luxury; His purple robes are a mockery rather than an honor. When Christ comes again, His death shall no longer be proclaimed, and we shall know that we also have died, and that our life is hidden with Him. The glorious head of the Church will appear and His glorified members will shine in splendor with Him, when He forms this lowly body anew into such glory as belongs to Himself, its head.

Therefore, we should aim at attaining this glory with a wholehearted and prudent desire. That we may rightly hope and strive for such blessedness, we must above all seek the prayers of the saints. Thus, what is beyond our own powers to obtain will be granted through their intercession.”

Love,
Matthew

3 (or 4) types of martyrdom


St Perpetua, a red martyr, pray for us!

n.b.  Catholics are NOT to actively seek martyrdom.  If, in due course of loyalty to the faith, martyrdom is presented and cannot be avoided without sin, Catholics are to accept this witness.  Heretics, like Marcionites, have taken the approach of actively seeking martyrdom, in their case from the Romans.  Actively seeking martyrdom has never been approved by the Church.


-by Philip Kosloski

“The word “martyr” originally derived from the “Greek word martus [signifying] a witness who testifies to a fact of which he has knowledge from personal observation.” In Christian usage this was at first applied to the apostles, who witnessed first hand the life of Jesus Christ and His resurrection.

Later on in the first centuries of the Church the term was used exclusively to denote those holy men and women who gave witness to Christ by shedding their blood. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ Who died and rose, to Whom he is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude. ‘Let me become the food of the beasts, through whom it will be given me to reach God.’” (CCC 2473)

Over time, however, the Church reflected on the original meaning of the word martyr and recognized different kinds of martyrdom to express other ways of reaching heaven; ways in which a Christian could faithfully witness to the Gospel without being killed for it.

An ancient homily from Ireland (Ed. who else?), written around the end of the 7th century, gives a perfect summary of the three types of martyrdom:

“Now there are three kinds of martyrdom, which are accounted as a cross to a man, to wit: white martyrdom, green and red martyrdom. White martyrdom consists in a man’s abandoning everything he loves for God’s sake, though he suffer fasting or labor thereat. Green martyrdom consists in this, that by means of fasting and labor he frees himself from his evil desires, or suffers toil in penance and repentance.”

From this account, as well as other writings, white martyrdom is typically defined as being persecuted for the faith, but never shedding any blood. It consists of living a life boldly for Christ, yet never being asked to die for it.

Green martyrdom, on the other hand, is more specific and focuses on extreme penance and fasting out of love for God. This type of martyrdom is usually associated with the hermits of Egypt, who greatly influenced Irish monasticism. This accounts for why many Irish monks sought out places of extreme solitude and harsh weather; the monastery atop Skellig Michael (Ed. of recent Stars Wars acclaim. Did you see the Celtic cross?) being a perfect example of both.

Red martyrdom, of course, refers to giving one’s physical life, bearing witness unto death. Red in this case is associated with the shedding of blood.

These three martyrdoms represent different paths to heaven, but all share one thing in common: a heart on fire with the love of God. One could even say these are “three paths of love,” ways that we can express our love of God and His mercy toward us.”

n.b. There is also what is called a “dry martyr”, of which St Claude de la Colombiere, SJ, is an example.

Love,
Matthew