Category Archives: Virtue

Jun 7 – Suffering & Abandonment, Bl Marie-Therese Soubiran of the Sacred Heart (1834-1889), Religious, Foundress, Sisters of Mary Help of Christians

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

Presence of God – O Lord, teach me to suffer with simplicity, without useless concentration on self, but in total abandonment to Your divine will.

MEDITATION

The secret of learning to suffer in a virtuous way consists chiefly in forgetting oneself and one’s sorrows and in abandoning oneself to God.

The soul that is absorbed in its own sufferings and concentrates its whole attention on them, becomes unable to bear them serenely and courageously. “Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:34), said Jesus, thus teaching us to bear calmly, day by day, moment by moment, whatever sorrows and crosses God places in our path, with no thought of what we suffered yesterday, no worry about what we shall have to endure tomorrow. Even when our suffering is intense, let us not exaggerate it, nor attach too much importance to it; let us not foster a morbid tendency to nurture our sorrow, to ponder over it, weighing and analyzing it under every aspect. To act in this way would result in the paralysis of our spirit of sacrifice, of our ability to accept and to act, and would make us useless to ourselves and to others. One who is oversensitive and preoccupied with his own suffering, often becomes insensible and indifferent to the suffering of others.

In order to resist these selfish tendencies which have been rightly defined by Father Faber as “the worm of Christian sorrow,” we must forget ourselves, go out of ourselves and our own sufferings, become interested in the sufferings of others and endeavor to alleviate them. This is a very effective way to regain in times of discouragement the strength to bear our own crosses. We should be mindful of the truth that we are never alone in suffering; that if our sufferings are great, there are always those who suffer incomparably more than we. Our troubles, often enough, are but a drop compared to the sea of sorrows in which mankind is engulfed, and are practically nonentities in comparison with the Passion of Jesus.

Those who are overly concerned with their own troubles eventually become exasperated by them. Drowned in their sorrows, they stifle every impulse to generosity. By contrast, those who know how to forget themselves, maintain their equilibrium, and take greater thought for others than for themselves. They are always open to charity and generosity toward God and their neighbor. These are simple souls who, because they are unmindful of themselves, can bear suffering magnanimously and derive much profit for their own sanctification.


-plaque on the house of Bourges where Marie-Thérèse de Soubiran lived from 1871 to 1874. Please click on the image for greater detail.

COLLOQUY

“O Lord, grant that I may never cease to turn to You, and to look only at You. In consolation or desolation I shall run to You, stopping at nothing else; I shall run so quickly that I shall have no time to look at anything, nor to see the things of earth, because my pace will be so rapid. Therefore, out of love for You, I shall spurn pleasure, repose, dependence upon the judgment of men, satisfaction in their approval, dread of physical discomfort, sadness of spirit, and success or failure. In a word, I shall spurn everything that is not God.

I realize that my crosses have been permitted and willed by You, my God, to teach me to trust in You in spite of everything.

O God, be my sole strength in fear, weakness, and distress; be my confidant, or rather my confidence. Divine Guest, dwelling within me, on the throne of my heart, abide with me as my protector; You alone have dominion and power over my whole being; You alone are its love!

Why should I worry or fear? All is Yours, O God, and You will take care of my wants and provide for them. You are infinite Love, and You love the works of Your hands more than they can know and love themselves. Who would dare question Your power, or the loving, providential care You bestow on Your creatures from all eternity, and with the efficacy of Your love?

I believe that all You do and permit is for my good and my salvation, and I abandon myself to Your guidance with love and trust, and without anxiety, fear, or calculation.” (Bl. M. Thérèse Soubiran). Read her story. The order she founded and was calumniously expelled from, Sisters of Marie-Auxiliatrice, Sisters of Mary Help of Christians, endures to this day, under the patronage of their foundress, Bl M. Therese Soubiran of the Sacred Heart.

The Sisters of Mary Help of Christians are dedicated to various projects of assistance, especially for the poor, and young women, and the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

They are present in:

Europe: France , Ireland , Italy , United Kingdom
Africa: Cameroon
Asia: South Korea , Japan , Philippines
Oceania: Micronesia

“Now, in the oblivion, inactivity, the most complete nullity, I shall be passionate about Our Lord Himself.” – Bl M. Therese Soubiran

“Be able to emerge life from death!” -Bl M. Therese Soubiran

Love,
Matthew

Patience

Why does the most necessary spiritual reading appear when I need it most? Holy Spirit, help us!!!

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

“Presence of God – O Jesus, meek and divinely patient, teach me the secret of true patience.

MEDITATION

Patience is the virtue which makes us accept for love of God, generously and peacefully, everything that is displeasing to our nature, without allowing ourselves to be depressed by the sadness which easily comes over us when we meet with disagreeable things.

Patience is a special aspect of the virtue of fortitude which prevents our deviating from the right road when we encounter obstacles. It is an illusion to believe in a life without difficulties. These are usually all the greater and the more frequent as our undertakings are more generous. Great works, magnanimous and heroic virtues, always grow in the midst of difficulties. In the presence of these, fortitude has a double function: to face them and to bear them. Many difficulties are surmounted and overcome by an act of courage; others, on the contrary, cannot be mastered. We must learn to bear with them, and this is the role of patience—an arduous task, because it is easier to face obstacles directly, than to support the inevitable oppositions and sufferings of life, which, in time, tend to discourage and sadden us.

Only by fixing our glance on Jesus, the divinely patient One, can we learn to practice patience. When we see Him Who came into the world to save us, living from the first moment of His earthly existence in want, privation, and poverty, and later in the midst of misunderstanding and persecution; when we see Him become the object of the hatred of His own fellow citizens, calumniated, doomed to death, betrayed by a friend, and tried and condemned as a malefactor, our souls are stirred: we realize that we cannot be His disciples unless we follow the same road. If Jesus, the Innocent One par excellence, bore so much for love of us, can we, sinners who are deserving to suffer, not endure something for love of Him? Whatever the total of suffering in our lives, it will always be very small, and even nothing, compared with the infinite sufferings of Jesus; for in His Passion Christ not only endured the suffering of one life or of several human lives, but that of all mankind.

COLLOQUY

O Jesus, for love of You and with Your help, I wish to suffer in peace all the contradictions of my life. “Your thoughts are not our thoughts, Your ways are not our ways. You offer us a cup so bitter that our feeble nature cannot bear it. But I do not want to draw back my lips from the cup prepared by Your hand. You have taught me the secret of suffering in peace. Peace does not mean joy, at least not sensible joy; to suffer in peace, all I have to do is to will all that You will.

To be Your spouse, I must be like You; and You are all covered with blood and crowned with thorns. You wish to make me like You; then, should I fear that I cannot carry the Cross without weakening? On the way to Calvary, You fell three times; and I, a poor little child, do I not wish to be like You? Should I not wish to fall a hundred times to prove to You my love, rising up again with more strength than before my fall?

It is very consoling for me to remember that You, the God of might, knew our weaknesses, that You shuddered at the sight of the bitter cup which earlier You had so ardently desired to drink.

O Jesus, what it costs to give You what You ask! But what happiness that it does cost! Far from complaining to You of the crosses You send me, I cannot fathom the infinite love which has moved You to treat me so. O Lord, do not let me waste the trial You send me, it is a gold mine I must exploit. I, a little grain of sand, want to set myself to the task, without joy, without courage, without strength, and all these conditions will make the enterprise easier; I want to work for love.

In spite of this trial which robs me of all sense of enjoyment, I can still say: ‘You have given me, O Lord, a delight in Your doings.’ For is there any greater joy than to suffer for Your love, O my God? The more intense and the more hidden the suffering, the more do You value it. And even if, by an impossibility, You should not be aware of my affliction, I should still be happy to bear it, in the hope that by my tears I might prevent or atone for one sin against faith” (Thérèse of the Child Jesus Letters 63,51,184,59; Story of a Soul 9).””

Love,
Matthew

Supernatural Obedience

When considering religious life, especially in the Order of Preachers, who only take one vow, obedience, it was this vow that freaked me out. It still does. In fact, my fear of this vow, very justifiably so, has gotten worse with thirty years of experience of human beings in organizations.

Let me be clear, if you think this vow, obedience, at the end of the day, is taken in any metaphorical sense by the Dominicans or any other Catholic religious order, allow me to disabuse you in kindness and Christian charity of that delusion. They do not. They do not.

Everything else is generally light and happiness, but this moment is most solemn, most solemn. And, in the time one spends in religious life, in general, by the default of time elapsed, disqualifies one from a career external to religious life, so the sacrifice is real and permanent as time progresses. It is. No do-overs. They play for keeps.

Catholicism, I have found, in general, if taken seriously, disqualifies you somewhat from many practical careers, by definition. Or, at least it makes them harder to practice in the way they are secularly practiced. Deo gratias!!! And, a decade or more of religious life, means mainly Church employment, or entry level roles if not.

Religious superiors are human, too. They have all the foibles, temptations, errors any of us do. And, so my apprehension not only remains after thirty years, it has become worse.

Ego N. spondeo obtemperat praecipienti Deo et beatae virgini, et beato Dominico et tibi famulam tuam N., et ad posteros, secundum Regulam Sancti Augustini ordo et institutum, usque ad mortem.

I, N., pledge obedience to God, the Blessed Virgin, to Blessed Dominic, and to you, N., and your successors, according to the Rule of Saint Augustine, and the institute of the order, until death.

This isn’t why I left. As I mentioned in prior posts, “God spoke to me” in my sleep Holy Thursday evening, the anniversary of the priesthood, and awoke with conviction, unreasoned, Good Friday morning. Who says God does not an ironic sense of timing?

Even as a Lay Dominican, the errors of human superiors is too painfully evident, and I don’t play well with such. I just don’t. This would be a cross had I pursued religious life. But, crosses, as Christians, are to be embraced through supernatural grace, never our own efforts. It is impossible, impossible.

It is not possible, as well, in reality, now, I realize to revisit this moment now in life. His will has been done. And, I am sanguine, and grateful. May it always be so, Lord. May it always be so, regardless of events, regardless. However, I sometimes now consider how I might approach this moment given thirty years of experience. Being young, and all the limitations lack of experience provides, I was decidedly and only relying on my own powers, quite understandably so. And, knowing myself to the extent, not incorrectly, as I did, my fears were reasonable and correct. It is ONLY through supernatural grace, never, never, our own efforts is this commitment possible to be lived out.

Marriage has its own vow/form of obedience, in love. It is not the fear of the reality and pain being subject to human superiors in religious life or even marriage, rather it is the love of Christ, intense enough, relying enough upon Him alone, His grace, His will, our total, complete surrender to Him, through Him & His supernatural grace, that permits living these faithfully.

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

Presence of God – O Jesus, teach me to see only You in my superiors.

MEDITATION

An excellent instruction from St. John of the Cross says: “Never look upon your superior, whoever he may be, with less regard than upon God Himself” (Precautions). If we do not have this supernatural spirit which makes us see God in the person of our superior, our obedience cannot be supernatural. It is necessary to be a soul animated by this motive alone: I obey because my superior represents God for me and speaks to me in His Name; my superior is another Christ to me: Hic est Christus mens. This is my Christ.

We should not obey through the motive of human confidence in the person of our superior: because he is intelligent, prudent, capable, because he understands or likes you, and so forth. That is human obedience, the fruit of human prudence—a good act in itself but not supernatural. Neither should we obey because what we are told to do is the most perfect; again this is not the real reason for obedience. We must obey only because God wills whatever our superior commands. The one exception is an order involving sin, which of course God cannot want, or a command not conformable to the Rule or Constitutions which we have embraced. In either case, obedience would be unlawful. Apart from these exceptions no limit should be put to our obedience. We need not hesitate through fear that the superior is asking something less perfect. Even if he commands what is objectively less perfect than its alternative (for instance, to take some rest instead of working), it would nevertheless be the more perfect thing for us. By the simple fact that the superior has expressed an order, it is clearly the fulfillment of that, and not something else, that God wants from us at the moment. It could very well be that in the abstract we see the possibility of performing an action more perfect than what we have been told to do, and that our idea is better than our superior’s. But in reality there is no doubt about it: nothing can be more perfect for us than what God commands by means of our superior.

COLLOQUY

O Lord, increase my spirit of faith, so that I will see You in the soul of my superior. May I repeat, spontaneously and sincerely, in his presence, Hic est Christus mens! Only by this way of obedience will a life of continual contact and uninterrupted for “Supernatural Obedience” postintimacy with You be possible. If I find You present and living in the Sacrament of the Altar under the veil of the Eucharistic species, always ready to welcome and nourish my soul, I can also, but in a different way, find You hidden in the person of my superior, through whom You speak to me, always ready to disperse my doubts, to manifest Your holy will, and to direct and guide me along the road You have chosen from all eternity for my sanctification.

O Lord, why should I stop at the human appearances of my superiors? Such an attitude will only serve to keep me from finding You in them and recognizing Your will in theirs. Help me, O God, to pass over all the human aspects of obedience and to put myself in contact with You and Your divine will. Just as in the Eucharist I do not halt at the created species of bread and wine, so I ought not in obeying to consider the person of my superior, but only Your will, which reaches me under the appearance of a human order or command. O Jesus, what a great mystery! The Eucharist gives me Your Body, Your Blood, Your divinity—such is the power of the Sacrament which You have instituted. Obedience gives me Your will and makes me communicate with it—such is the power of the authority which You have established.

Once I have understood this profound truth, how can I still dare to argue or hesitate at the commands of my superiors? “It would be a terrible thing if God were to be telling us plainly to go about His business in some way, and we would not do it but stood looking at Him because that gave us greater pleasure. A fine way it is of advancing in the love of God to tie His hands by thinking that there is only one way in which He can benefit us” (Teresa of Jesus Foundations, 5). No, Lord, grant that I may never act thus. I shall follow You wherever You lead me by means of holy obedience.”

Love, pray for me,
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

Humility 2


-please click on the image for greater detail

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

Presence of God – O my God, help me to know You and to know myself! I know that You are He Who is, and I am he who is not!

MEDITATION

Among all the creatures in which we take pleasure and toward which our nature seems to be attracted the most, self undoubtedly holds the first place. There is no one, no matter how limited in talents and good qualities, who does not love his own excellence, and who does not try, in one way or another, to make it shine forth to himself and to others. It is for this reason that we often spontaneously exaggerate our own worth, and, as a result, are demanding and pretentious. This makes us haughty and arrogant, as well as difficult in our relations with others. Humility is the virtue which keeps within just limits the love of one’s own excellence. Whereas self-esteem often induces us to make ourselves too evident, or to occupy a place which is higher than our due, humility keeps us in our own place. Humility is truth: it tends to establish in truth both our intellect—by making us know ourselves as we really are—and our life, by inclining us to take, in relation to God and to men, our proper place and no other.

Humility makes us realize that, in the sight of God, we are only His little creature, entirely dependent upon Him for our existence and for all our works. Having received life from God, we cannot subsist even one moment independently of Him. He Who gave us existence by His creative action, maintains life in us by His conserving action. In addition we cannot perform the slightest act without God’s cooperation, in the same way that a machine—even a perfect one—cannot make any motion until it is started by the one who made it. It is very true that, unlike the machine, our acts are neither mechanical nor compulsory, but are conscious and free; yet, we cannot move even a finger without the concurrence of the divine Artist.

It follows then that everything we possess in the order of being—qualities, gifts, capacities—and everything we have accomplished in the order of action, is not ours, but all, in one way or another, are gifts of God, all are acts performed with God’s help. “What hast thou that thou hast not received? And if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).

COLLOQUY

“O omnipotent Father, God of truth, God of love, permit me to enter into the cell of self-knowledge. I admit that of myself I am nothing, but that all the being and goodness in me comes solely from You. Show me my faults, that I may detest my malice, and thus I shall flee from self-love and find myself clothed again in the nuptial robe of divine charity, which I must have in order to be admitted to the nuptials of life eternal” (St. Catherine of Siena).

“Give me, O my God, a thorough knowledge of myself! Let me be really convinced that I am nothing and that You are everything! Do not let me think that I am anything more than the nothing I am. Let me do nothing more for myself, but all for You! Grant that no creature may think any more about me, do anything more for me, give me anything more, but let all be done for You and given to You. And may my nothingness be reduced to nothing in the eyes of all creatures and in Yours, my God, that You, the All, may be all, in all and through all.” (St. John Eudes).

Reveal my nothingness to me, O Lord, reveal it so well that, not only shall I understand it, but I shall also have a practical, profound conviction of it. You know how painful that is to my proud nature! My intellect cannot resist the evidence of truth and is obliged to admit that I am nothing, have nothing, and can do nothing without You, yet my ego is always trying to attribute something to itself, to take the credit for this or that and to take as much pleasure in it as if it were its own. Help me, O Lord, to triumph over this pride which, as You see, steals Your gifts and makes my life sterile by preventing me from receiving the abundance of Your graces.

Grant that I may know my nothingness, O Lord, for the more I recognize it with simplicity and humility of heart, the more You will take pleasure in being my All—You are All, I am nothing; You, He Who is and I, he who is not! Glorify Yourself then in my nothingness! May Your love and grace triumph in this nothing, but may Your mercy also triumph, for I am a nothing which has sinned. Peccavi, Domine, miserere mei! [I have sinned, O Lord, have mercy on me!]

Love, Lord, make me humble, but not yet, 🙂
Matthew

Filial Obedience 2

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

Presence of God – O Jesus, teach me the secret of humble obedience which submits to every superior and every command.

MEDITATION

Although obedience is precious because it places our whole life in God’s will, nevertheless, in practice it has its difficulties and these arise chiefly because the command itself does not come directly from God but through His representatives. Thus it often happens that we fail to see God in our superiors and to recognize His authority in them. For example, when, as often happens in religious life, we have as our superior a former colleague or perhaps even a former pupil, younger and less experienced than we, one whose weaknesses and defects we know only too well, we could easily be tempted to have insufficient respect for his authority and his commands. Then a life of obedience becomes especially difficult: it is hard for us to obey, we do not have recourse to the superior with childlike trust, and what is worse, we justify this attitude to ourselves. Here we are making a great mistake in perspective; we forget that, no matter who the superior is, he is invested with authority which comes from God, authority placed on him solely because he has been called to this office. This authority is unchangeable and has the same force whether the superior is old or young, experienced and virtuous or inexperienced and less virtuous. Basically, if we find ourselves in these difficulties, we must lay the blame on our lack of a supernatural spirit, a spirit of faith. We are judging spiritual matters according to natural standards and from the point of view of human values, which makes it impossible for us to live a life of real obedience, a life entirely based on supernatural values and motives. We must learn how to rise above human views concerning the person of our superior—his good qualities or his faults, his actions in the past, and so forth—to look upon him only as the representative of God and of His divine authority. It is true, we often find it absolutely necessary to use all our strength and efforts to do this if we do not wish to lose the fruit of a life of obedience. It is certain that the more we force ourselves to see in our superiors the authority which comes from God, so much the more perfect and meritorious our obedience will be, and God Himself will guide us by through them.

COLLOQUY

“My sweet Savior, can I see You obedient to Your creatures for love of me, and refuse to be obedient out of love for You to those who represent You? Can I see You obedient unto death, the death of the Cross, out of love for me, without lovingly embracing this virtue and the Cross on which You consummated it?

“I will force myself to the utmost of my power to imitate Your example, and for love of You, obey all creatures—my superiors, equals, or inferiors—in all things, without argument, murmuring, or delay, but joyfully and lovingly. Therefore, I will not question the reasons why I am told to do this or that; I will not think about the way in which the order is given to me, or the person who gives it. I will consider Your will alone, letting myself be moved like You in any direction, by anyone, in agreeable or disagreeable, suitable or unseemly circumstances. It matters not! Grant me the obedience You desire.

“O Jesus, who willed to make reparation for Adam’s disobedience and mine at the cost of Your life; O Jesus who by Your death acquired for me the grace of knowing how to obey, I wish to live longer only to sacrifice my life by perfect, continual obedience” (St. Francis de Sales).

“O Lord, You desire to infuse obedience into our hearts, but You cannot because we will not recognize that You speak and work through our superiors, and also because we are attached to our own will” (St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi).”

Love,
Matthew

Christian humility: NOT an oxymoron

That God would take on the form of His creature to redeem said, demonstrates, profoundly, the value of the virtue of humility and the priority, and God’s desire that we should emulate Him.  Do so, even as I try.

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

Presence of God – Out of the depths of my misery I have cried to Thee, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice…. I trust in Thee.

MEDITATION

Christian humility does not lower, it elevates; it does not cast down, but gives courage, for the more it reveals to the soul its nothingness and abjection, the more it moves it toward God with confidence and abandonment. The very fact that in everything—in essence as in act, in the natural as in the supernatural order—we depend on Him, and that we can do nothing without Him, shows us that God wants to sustain us continually by His help and His grace. Consequently, the relations of a humble soul with God will be those of a child who confidently expects everything from its father. This is the lesson that Jesus wished to give His Apostles when they asked Him who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven: “Amen, I say to you, unless you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3,4). “To remain little,” explains St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, “is to acknowledge one’s nothingness and to expect everything from the good God, as the child expects everything from its father…. Even among the poor, a child, while he is very little, is given everything that is necessary, but when he has grown, his father no longer wants to support him, and says ‘Go to work now! You can rely on yourself.’ It is that I might never hear those words that I never wanted to grow up, because I felt incapable of earning my own living: eternal life” (Novissima Verba).

To the soul who humbly acknowledges its poverty and turns toward God with complete confidence, He is a very tender Father who delights in showering His gifts upon it and in doing for it what it cannot accomplish by itself. Then the smallest soul—that is, the one most thoroughly convinced of its own nothingness—becomes the greatest, since it has the greatness of God Himself at its command.

COLLOQUY

“I admit, O Lord, that I am very weak; I have salutary proof of it every day. But You deign to teach me the knowledge which makes me glory in my infirmities. This is a very great grace, and only in it do I find peace and contentment of heart, for now I understand Your ways: You give as God, but You want humility of heart” (Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Letters).

G[ood] Lord, Your light penetrates my soul and makes me understand how far from Your ways are mine! Instead of being disturbed on account of my miseries and discouraged by my falls and failures, instead of pretending to succeed in everything and to accomplish great things, I must humbly accept the fact that I am weak, needy, and absolutely unable to get along without Your help.

How sweet it is, O my God, for a soul who loves You, to need You so much that it can do nothing without You! It is sweet for me, for in this way I learn that You wish constantly to take part in my poor life, that You want to sustain me always by Your grace, and that You will never of Yourself abandon me. To give me the fullness of Your divine help, You are only waiting for me to come before You with the humble, trusting attitude of a child who, not being able to rely on his own strength and resources, expects everything from his father. You wish me to be thoroughly convinced of my nothingness and to accept with love the fact that I am nothing so that You may be my All.

Deprive me, O Lord, of every remnant of confidence in myself. Every man is like the grass of the field which springs up today and tomorrow is not, and what greater foolishness is there than to rely on the strength of a blade of grass! Free me, O Lord, from such stupidity and place me, I beg of You, in the way of truth. O You who are Truth, sanctify me in the Truth, in the truth of my nothingness.

You alone are good, my God, and You alone can make me good. You alone are just and You alone can justify me. You alone are holy and You alone can make me holy. The less I expect from myself, the more I can and will expect from You: good-will and constancy, strength and patience, purity and goodness, virtue and sanctity. Hasten, O Lord, to come to my aid! My nothingness implores You, my misery sighs for You!”

Love (& eternally struggling w/sin of PRIDE!!!!),
Matthew

Doubt, despair, hopelessness,… & Truth.

The ultimate thing the devil wants is our ultimate despair. Resist him. Eph 6:10-18.

“What is truth?” -Jn 18:38


-by Br Raymond La Grange, OP

“In the twentieth century, many thinkers became disillusioned with traditional morality. It seemed to be a cold and impersonal list of rules. For something supposedly based on a transcendent God, it was surprisingly powerless to resist changing social conventions. Many took it as a given that received moral norms are nothing more than commonly held ideas about decency, often buoyed by fluffy thoughts about what God supposedly wants. In Sigrid Undset’s 1932 novel Ida Elisabeth, the main character of the same name considers the religion of her mother-in-law, Borghild:

“But all she had been able to get out of it was that Borghild Braatö’s god dwelt in Borghild Braatö’s heart and broadly speaking was of Borghild Braatö’s opinion on all questions, spoke to her through her conscience and gave his approval whenever she made a decision.”

In the face of such a vacuous morality, what is one to do? I will present the contrasting approaches of two Nobel Laureates. The mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell attempted to engineer moral norms to make them more manageable, while the author Sigrid Undset sought to return to a deeper traditional Catholic morality.

Russell’s approach has become characteristic of progressive movements. Since moral norms only express what is socially acceptable, a rational society may modify its expectations. In his 1936 essay Our Sexual Ethics, he argued that while adultery certainly has its downsides, it is just not realistic for most people to avoid it. In centuries past, spouses were seldom separated for long periods. Small villages, where everyone knew everyone else, would discourage indiscretions, while the fear of hellfire would keep the passions at bay. Without those helps, we might as well decide that adultery is okay after all and work around that. At least no one will feel guilty when they inevitably commit adultery. Russell would become a champion of the sexual revolution.

Sigrid Undset took a very different approach. Raised an agnostic, as a young woman she wandered in moral confusion, falling in and out of love, before finally settling down with a man who had abandoned his first wife. This relationship produced three children, but was not to last. One can detect in her work from this period a dissatisfaction with life. Her 1911 novel Jenny explores the tension in the life of a woman whose only moral code is self-respect. She seeks love but is powerless to its fickleness. By the end, one suspects that Undset did not think there was much more to life than this tension.

During the years of her marriage, Undset began asking serious questions. She had long thought that the morality she heard from the Lutheran State Church was no more adequate to explain life than it was to oppose the legalization of divorce years before. But she realized that the human person demanded far more than any socially updated moral code could deliver. This was especially clear in the face of the joy of her own motherhood. In 1919, she wrote against attempts to fix contemporary problems encountered in marriages by the easy means of divorce and looser moral standards. Instead of giving up on the demands of marriage, she argued, the Catholic Church raised it up by making it a sacrament. In 1924, Sigrid Undset was received into the Catholic Church.

Both Russell and Undset felt that the common notions of morality in their societies were, at bottom, social conventions. Both would initially push these boundaries. Russell went on to modify moral codes to perceived convenience. Undset came to realize that neither social conventions nor the experimentation of a young artist could ever come close to explaining the human person. Russell neutered the impulse to marital fidelity so that the base impulse to adultery could go on mostly unhindered. Undset found Catholic sacramental morality to be a gift from God and the only thing that could answer her questions and raise marriage to the heights that she always knew it must reach. For Russell, morality was a list of conventions for personnel management. For Undset, it became not a list of rules nor a code of decency, but rather God’s gift and plan for human happiness. This is not a morality that is imposed, but one that is discovered contemplating the mystery of the human person.”

Love,
Matthew

…usque ad mortem.

Ego N. spondeo obtemperat praecipienti Deo et beatae virgini, et beato Dominico et tibi famulam tuam N., et ad posteros, secundum Regulam Sancti Augustini ordo et institutum, usque ad mortem.

I, N., pledge obedience to God, the Blessed Virgin, to Blessed Dominic, and to you, N., and your successors, according to the Rule of Saint Augustine, and the institute of the order, until death.


-by Br. Luke VanBerkum, OP

I will give You glory, O God, my king, / I will bless Your name for ever. / I will bless You day after day / and praise Your name for ever (Ps 145).

…Dominican brothers…profess (solemn) obedience to God, to Blessed Mary, to Blessed Dominic, and to their superiors for the rest of their lives (when professing solemn vows): Lord, God of hosts, / happy the man who trusts in You! (Ps 84) They will vow to live out their days as consecrated religious according to the way of life of the Order of Friars Preachers. The Dominican Order is their path to salvation; life in this Order is the means by which God wishes to transform their lives through Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit.

I am bound by the vows I have made You. / O God, I will offer You praise / for You have rescued my soul from death, / You kept my feet from stumbling / that I may walk in the presence of God / and enjoy the light of the living (Ps 56).

Vows are for the imperfect; they are a realization of the constant need for the mercy of God. As part of the rite of profession, the brothers are asked, “What do you seek?” And they reply, “God’s mercy and yours.” God’s mercy and the mercy of the brethren are the steadying hand that supports those who stumble while striving for holiness in consecrated life. The gesture of profession—putting one’s hands into the hands of the superior—signifies obedience to the superior but also the great mercy with which the professed is embraced.

So I will always praise Your name / and day after day fulfill my vows (Ps 61).

The principle duty of all religious is the contemplation of divine things and union with God in prayer. To praise God on behalf of the entire world is the responsibility of religious: My lips are filled with your praise, / with your glory all the day long (Ps 71). In the Divine Office, religious throughout the day praise God and thank Him with the inspired words of Scripture that Jesus Himself used—the Psalms. The Psalms speak to every human experience, from joy and praise to suffering and betrayal. In Dominican life, the Psalms are the first words on the lips in the morning, and at the death of a brother, the brethren will surround their brother’s body and chant the Psalms, remembering his fidelity to prayer and begging God’s continued mercy.

I will thank You, Lord, among the peoples, / among the nations I will praise You / for Your love reaches to the heavens / and Your truth to the skies (Ps 57).

This common life of prayer prepares the brothers for preaching the truth of the Gospel to all peoples. Each religious order has a particular charism, a gift from God that is for the good of the entire Church. The vow to Dominican life entrusts, to those who profess it, the charism of preaching for the salvation of souls, and the friars draw upon this charism as they go forth as preachers of grace.

I bind myself to do Your will; / Lord, do not disappoint me. / I will run the way of your commands; / You give freedom to my heart (Ps 119).

In a seeming paradox, the vow of obedience sets the religious free. Obedience does not imply a state of subjection; rather, obedience to the will of God is true freedom. For religious, to die to self, to be God’s instrument in the world, is God’s will for them.

My vows to the Lord I will fulfill / before all his people. / O precious in the eyes of the Lord / is the death of his faithful (Ps 116).

Indeed, death is the beginning of life, because Jesus Christ Himself – Who became obedient to death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:8) – made this possible.

Into Your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit (Ps 31).”

Love & prayers for all those who work out their salvation (cf Phil 2:12) in service to God Almighty & His Church. May you be found worthy in the Day of Judgment (cf 1 Cor 9:27).  Pray for me.
Matthew