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Sunday, 15 September 2013

The Seven Sorrows of Mary

The Seven Sorrows of Mary are all based on Biblical events except for the meeting of Christ on the Way of the Cross. This feast will not be celebrated today because it is a Sunday, but many countries, including Slovakia and Malta have a great devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows. In some countries, the feast is celebrated on Holy Saturday. A site listed below has meditations from the Holy Saturday devotion. This September feast is the common day of remembrance of these sorrows in the Latin Rite.

These are these Seven Sorrows of Mary. 
  1. The Prophecy of Simeon.  or the Circumcision of Christ
  2. The Flight into Egypt. 
  3. The loss of the child Jesus in the Temple. 
  4. Mary meets Jesus on the way to Calvary.
  5. Jesus dies on the cross. 
  6. The piercing of the side of Jesus, and Mary's receiving the body of Jesus in her arms. 
  7. The body of Jesus is placed in the tomb. 

Any mother, or anyone with compassion, will recognize the pain involved with each of these events. One may meditate on these, one each day this week, for Lectio Divina. The Biblical references are here. Luke 2: 34-35, Matthew 2:13, Luke 2:43-45, John 19:25, Matthew 27:57-59; John 19:40-42 ( thanks to Wiki I did not have to look these up-list from Wiki above as well.)

Those who love Mary and Her Son may do well in these times of growing hardship for the Church to pray to Our Lady of Sorrows. She is particularly powerful for families with difficulties, one priest noted.

This site for meditations is that of the Dominican nuns in St. Julian's, in Malta. 

On Hell from Ven. Fulton J. Sheen And St. Teresa of Avila

Life, Truth, Love, states Ven. Fulton J. Sheen, are what we find in heaven. The soul who hates those would be tormented in heaven and that soul, who has chosen over and over Death, Deceit and Hate, wants to be in hell.

Sad, is it not? Sheen's talk on hell must have disturbed his audience, reminding them that all humans have free will. The justice of God is merely an acknowledgment of a human's own choices.

Sheen writes that justice forces those who hate God to love His Justice in hell, and that is part of the punishment.  The Archbishop states that hell is hating those things one loves. I cannot imagine such unhappiness. One could, therefore, hate one's self for all eternity.

Secondly, Sheen notes that hell is being angry with one's self for choosing evil instead of good. The third point he makes is the one about justice. All humans have free will in this life, but the justice of God determines one's will after death and judgement.

I truly wish more priests would talk about hell from the pulpit. Not enough people fear God. Too many people love their own wills more than God.

And, here is St. Teresa of Avila's great vision of hell.

"While I was at prayer one day, I found myself in a moment, without knowing how, plunged apparently into Hell. I understood that it was Our Lord's will that I should see the place which the devils kept in readiness for me, and which I had deserved by my sins. It lasted but for a moment, but it seems to me impossible that I should ever forget it even if I were to live many years.
"The entrance seemed to be by a long narrow pass, like a furnace, very low, dark, and close. The ground seemed to be saturated with water, mere mud, exceedingly foul, sending forth pestilential odors, and covered with loathsome vermin. At the end was a hollow place in the wall like a closet, and in that I saw myself confined. All this was ever pleasant to behold in comparison with what I felt there. There is no exaggeration in what I am saying.
"But as to what I then felt, I do not know where to begin if I were to describe it; it is utterly inexplicable. I felt a fire in my soul but such that I am still unable to describe it. My bodily sufferings were unendurable. I have undergone most painful sufferings in this life, and, as the physicians say, the greatest that can be borne, such as the contraction of my sinews when I was paralyzed, without speaking of other ills of different types - yet, even those of which I have spoken, inflicted on me by Satan; yet all these were as nothing in comparison with what I then felt, especially when I saw that there would be no intermission nor any end to them.
"These sufferings were nothing in comparison with the anguish of my soul, a sense of oppression, of stifling, and of pain so acute, accompanied by so hopeless and cruel an infliction, that I know not how to speak of it. If I say that the soul is continually being torn from the body it would be nothing - for that implies the destruction of life by the hands of another - but here it is the soul itself that is tearing itself in pieces. I cannot describe that inward fire or that despair, surpassing all torments and all pain. I did not see who it was that tormented me, but I felt myself on fire, and torn to pieces, as it seemed to me; and I repeat it, this inward fire and despair are the greatest torments of all.
"Left in that pestilential place, and utterly without the power to hope for comfort, I could neither sit nor lie down; there was no room. I was placed as it were in a hole in the wall; and those walls, terrible to look on of themselves, hemmed me in on every side. I could not breathe. There was no light, but all was thick darkness. I do not understand how it is; though there was no light, yet everything that can give pain by being seen was visible.

"Our Lord at that time would not let me see more of Hell. Afterwards I had another most fearful vision, in which I saw the punishment of certain sins. They were the most horrible to look at, but because I felt none of the pain, my terror was not so great. In the former vision Our Lord made me really feel those torments and that anguish of spirit, just as if I had been suffering them in the body there. I know not how it was, but I understood distinctly that it was a great mercy that Our Lord would have me see with my own eyes the very place from which His compassion saved me. I have listened to people speaking of these things and I have at other times dwelt on the various torments of Hell, though not often, because my soul made no progress by the way of fear; and I have read of the diverse tortures, and how the devils tear the flesh with red-hot pincers. But all is as nothing before this: It is a wholly different matter. In short, the one is a reality, the other a description; and all burning here in this life is as nothing compared with the fire that is there.
"I was so terrified by that vision - and that terror is on me even now as I write - that though it took place nearly six years ago, the natural warmth of my body is chilled by fear even now when I think of it. And so, amid all the pain and suffering which I may have had to bear, I remember no time in which I do not think that all we have to suffer in this world is as nothing. It seems to me that we complain without reason. I repeat it, this vision was one of the grandest mercies of God. It has been to me of the greatest service, because it has destroyed my fear of trouble and of the contradictions of the world, and because it has made me strong enough to bear up against them, and to give thanks to Our Lord who has been my Deliverer, as it now seems to me, from such fearful and everlasting pains.

"Ever since that time, as I was saying, everything seems endurable in comparison with one instant of suffering such as those I had then to bear in Hell. I am filled with fear when I see that, after frequently reading books which describe in some manner the pains of Hell, I was not afraid of them, nor made any account of them. Where was I? How could I possibly take any pleasure in those things which led me directly to so dreadful a place? Blessed forever be Thou, O my God! And oh, how manifest is it that Thou didst love me much more than I did love Thee! How often, O Lord, didst Thou save me from that fearful prison! And how I used to get back to it contrary to Thy will.
"It was that vision which filled me with very great distress which I felt at the sight of so many lost souls, especially of the Lutherans - for they were once members of the Church by Baptism - and also gave me the most vehement desires for the salvation of souls; for certainly I believe that to save even one from those overwhelming torments, I would willingly endure many deaths. If here on earth we see one whom we specially love in great trouble or pain, our very nature seems to bid us compassionate him; and if those pains be great, we are troubled ourselves. What, then, must it be to see a soul in danger of pain, the most grievous of all pains, forever? It is a thought no heart can bear without great anguish. Here we know that pain at last ends with life, and that there are limits to it, yet the sight of it moves us so greatly to compassion; that other pain has no ending, and I know not how we can be calm when we see Satan carry so many souls daily away.

"This also makes me wish that, in a matter which concerns us so much, we did not rest satisfied with doing less than we can do on our part - that we left nothing undone. May Our Lord vouchsafe to give us His grace for that end."

The Sphere Within A Sphere-Synchronity

This sphere within the sphere is here in Dublin, one exactly like it in Iowa, in Des Moines, and one in Rome. The sculpture is by  Pomodoro, If it is not raining on Monday, I shall go see it.

The Sin of Malice

The society is seeing an explosion of malice outside and inside the Church. For years, malice has been subtle and underground, but now, it is obvious and terribly nasty. What is malice? Malice is the intention to do evil on purpose. Those who fall into the habit of malice reveal a will which is always inclined towards evil.

This evil can exhibit itself in words, actions, thoughts through the will, and not through passion. A malicious person chooses to do a certain evil. That person is not acting out of the emotions, the passions. Thomas Aquinas explains this for us.

One can see how despicable this sin is. It is a willed habit.  Aquinas states that the sin comes from either a corruption within the person; in other words, the sin "presupposes some inordinateness"; or through habit; but malicious becomes a habit of the will.

Signs of malice can be multiple. Have you ever met a person who constantly is negative, who undermines other people on a regular basis, who is constantly finding fault? Have you ever met someone who thinks mean practical jokes are funny, or destroying someone's reputation a game? Have you ever met someone who simply hates everyone and delights in slander, calumny, gossip?

These are malicious people. Sometimes someone will say to me, "I really do not like being around this person because she carries a cloud around with her and dampens joy and positive attitudes in others."

That is a good description of the sin of malice.

Of course, Catholics know who the Father of Malice is , the Father of Lies, a Liar from the his first and only sin against God-Satan.

One cannot choose to be friends with persons who are addicted to being malicious unless one is patient and kind. And, this is not necessarily good for a person on one's own. It is not healthy to be around malicious people, as they are living in a powerfully negative world and desire to bring other's down into their hells, which they have created. Pray for such people if you must deal with them at work or in the family. Kindness is a good Christian virtue to combat malice.

Here is Garrigou-Lagrange on the sin of malice, which is a bit of a repetition from the perfection series, but helpful here again.

In contradistinction to the sin of ignorance and that of frailty, the sin of malice is that by which one chooses evil knowingly. In Latin it is called a sin de industria, that is, a sin committed with deliberate calculation, design, and express intention, free from ignorance and even from antecedent passion. The sin of malice is often premeditated. This is not equivalent to saying that evil is willed for the sake of evil; since the adequate object of the will is the good, it can will evil only under the aspect of an apparent good.
Now he who sins through malice, acting with full knowledge of the case and through evil will, knowingly wills a spiritual evil (for example, the loss of charity or divine friendship) in order to possess a temporal good. It is clear that this sin thus defined differs in the degree of gravity from the sin of ignorance and that of frailty. But we must not conclude from this that every sin of malice is a sin against the Holy Ghost. This last sin is one of the gravest of the sins of malice. It is produced when a man rejects through contempt the very thing that would save him or deliver him from evil: for example, when he combats recognized religious truth, or when by reason of jealousy, he deliberately grows sad over the graces and spiritual progress of his neighbor.
The sin of malice often proceeds from a vice engendered by multiple faults; but it can exist even in the absence of this vice. It is thus that the first sin of the devil was a sin of malice, not of habitual malice but of actual malice, of evil will, of an intoxication of pride.
It is clear that the sin of malice is graver than the sins of ignorance and frailty, although these last are sometimes mortal. This explains why human laws inflict greater punishment for premeditated murder than for that committed through passion.
The greatest gravity of the sins of malice comes from the fact that they are more voluntary than the others, from the fact that they generally proceed from a vice engendered by repeated sins, and from the fact that by them man knowingly prefers a temporal good to the divine friendship, without the partial excuse of a certain ignorance or of a strong passion.
In these questions one may err in two ways that are contradictory to each other. Some lean to the opinion that only the sin of malice can be mortal; they do not see with sufficient clearness the gravity of certain sins of voluntary ignorance and of certain sins of frailty, in which, nevertheless, there is serious matter, sufficient advertence, and full consent.
Others, on the contrary, do not see clearly enough the gravity of certain sins of malice committed in cold blood, with an affected moderation and a pretense of good will or of tolerance. Those who thus combat the true religion and take away from children the bread of divine truth may be sinning more gravely than he who blasphemes and kills someone under the impulse of anger.
Sin is so much the more grave as it is more voluntary, as it is committed with greater light and proceeds from a more inordinate love of self, which sometimes even goes so far as contempt of God. On the other hand, a virtuous act is more or less meritorious according as it is more voluntary, more free, and as it is inspired by a greater love of God and neighbor, a love that may even reach holy contempt of self, as St. Augustine says.
Thus he who prays with too great attachment to sensible consolation merits less than he who perseveres in prayer in a continual and profound aridity without any consolation. But on emerging from this trial, his merit does not grow less if his prayer proceeds from an equal degree of charity which now has a happy reaction on his sensibility. It is still true that one interior act of pure love is of greater value in the eyes of God than many exterior works inspired by a lesser charity.
In all these questions, whether good or evil is involved, particular attention must be paid to what proceeds from our higher faculties, the intellect and will: that is, to the act of the will following full knowledge of the case. And, from this point of view, if an evil act committed with full deliberation and consent, like a formal pact with the devil, has formidable consequences, a good act, such as the oblation of self to God, made with full deliberation and consent and frequently renewed, can have even greater consequences in the order of good; for the Holy Ghost is of a certainty infinitely more powerful than the spirit of evil, and He can do more for our sanctification than the latter can for our ruin. It is well to think of this in the face of the gravity of certain present-day events. The love of Christ, dying on the cross for us, pleased God more than all sins taken together displeased Him; so the Savior is more powerful to save us than the enemy of good is to destroy us. With this meaning, Christ said: "Fear ye not them that kill the body and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell." (28) Unless we open the door of our hearts to him, the enemy of good cannot penetrate into the sanctuary of our will, whereas God is closer to us than we are to ourselves and can lead us strongly and sweetly to the most profound and elevated meritorious free acts, to acts that are the prelude of eternal life.