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Monday, 3 November 2014

The Hardest Lesson To Learn

Young people choose good or bad friends. These influences may lead a person to heaven or to hell.

Speaking with a friend of mine here in Malta last week, we were both grateful and aware of the fact that great Catholics had come into our lives in the past and helped us on our way.

"In Him there is no darkness at all. The night and the day are both alike."

Sometimes, God surprises a person by bringing a mature, spiritual person into one's life just at the right time, when there is a great need.

"When we have run with patience the race, we shall know the joy of Jesus."

Both my friend and I expressed gratitude for this gift of past influences.

"Clear Son of Righteousness shine on my path and show me the way to the Father."

But, one thing we had to learn was that some people just want to go to hell. For a long time I could not see why some I knew would consistently chose lying, cheating, committing adultery, incest, drunkenness and dissipation, manipulation of others, homosexual sins, over the love of God. Some people choose darkness with their own wills still being free.

No amount of witnessing or caring or prayers would deter them from the paths of seeking power and status over pursuing the love of God.

The hardest lesson for me to learn was that some people choose to be against God.

A friend of mine who has been in combat twice in Iraq explained to me earlier this summer that he met so many people who choose hell. They choose murder, hatred, and ignorance even when rational explanations and apologetics concerning Christ were presented to them.

In Western, civilized cultures, people have a hard time understanding why some groups choose darkness over light.

In the face of darkness, we must continue to spread the Gospel. Christ is the Light of the World. This is our duty, to let all we meet know this is some manner.

But, sometimes, we must stop and realize that some people just choose hell. They want a life without God. They choose a life without God.

Do we pray for these people? Of course, and we love them as much as we are able. Too often, such people are closed to Catholic, hard love. Catholics give real love, not mushy love.

John 8:12 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition 

 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

Only in Christ can one walk in the light. 

"The star of my life is Jesus."

I repeat a song I put on this blog this past summer, but another version. Choose the light. Look towards the Light, Who is Christ.

Also look here....Friday, 22 August 2014

Perfection Series IV: Part Twenty; The Star of Love and Simplicity in Unity; II

I want to end this section on the Unitive State by referring to a chapter, (41) from Garrigou-Lagrange. As usual, the priest's insights are extremely clear. In a chapter on the Unitive State and "holy childhood", the Dominican notes this:

 The simplicity, or the absence of duplicity, of a child is wholly spontaneous; in him there is no labored refinement, no affectation. He generally says what he thinks and expresses what he desires without subterfuge, without fear of what people will say. As a rule he does not pose; he shows himself as he is. Conscious of his weakness, for he can do nothing of himself, he depends in everything on his father and mother, from whom he should receive everything. This awareness of his weakness is the seed of humility, which leads him to practice the three theological virtues, often in a profoundly simple manner.

One of the signs of someone in the Unitive State is a childlike dependence on God, a complete trusting in God the Father, a complete realization that without Christ nothing is possible, and that one needs the Holy Ghost in order to live the Christian life.

Most of us love the Little Flower for her great simplicity and love. She was raised by loving and faithful parents, which allowed her to make great strides in perfection at a very young age. 

Garrogue-Lagrange understands the virtues of childhood grow quickly in "good soil." 

St. Teresa of the Child Jesus reminds us that the principal virtues of the child of God are those in which are reproduced in an eminent degree the innate qualities of the child, minus his defects. Consequently the way of spiritual childhood will teach us to be supernaturally ourselves minus our defects.
The child of God should, first of all, be simple and upright, without duplicity; he should exclude hypocrisy and falsehood from his life, and not seek to pass for what he is not, as our Lord declares in the Sermon on the Mount: "If thy eye be single, thy whole body shall be lightsome": (2) that is, if the gaze of your spirit is honest, if your intention is upright, your whole life will be illumined.
The child of God should preserve the consciousness of his weakness and indigence; he should constantly recall that God our Father freely created him from nothing, and that without God's grace he can do absolutely nothing in the order of sanctification and salvation. If the child of God grows in this humility, he will have an ever deeper faith in the divine word, greater even than little children have in the words of their parents. He will have a faith devoid of human respect, he will be proud of his faith; and from time to time it will become in him penetrating and sweet, above all reasoning. He will truly live by the mysteries of salvation and will taste them; he will contemplate them with admiration, as a little child looks into the eyes of his beloved father.

 Why are characteristics of the loving, trusting child indicative of a state of union? A child always loves, without the cost and without strings attached. A child is not jaded and wonders at the beauty of life. This simplicity of love and awe grows out of abandonment to God's Perfect Will. I have highlighted some passages for emphasis.

These characteristics of the child are the same as those of the trusting bride one sees illumined in the sermons of St. Bernard of Clairvaux. Those who trust are able to love.

If the child of God does not go astray, he will see his hope grow stronger from day to day and become transformed into trusting abandonment to Providence.In proportion to his fidelity to the duty of the moment, to the signified divine will, will be his abandonment to the divine good pleasure as yet unknown. The arms of the Lord are, says St. Teresa Of the Child Jesus, like a divine elevator that lifts man up to God.
Finally, the child of God grows steadily in the love of his Father. He loves Him for Himself and not simply for His benefits, as a little child loves his mother more than the caresses he receives from her. The child of God loves his Father in trial as in joy; when life is difficult, he remembers that he should love the Lord with all his strength and even with all his mind, and be always united to Him in the higher part of his soul as an adorer "in spirit and in truth."

This last characteristic shows that the way of spiritual childhood often demands courage in trial, the virtue of Christian fortitude united to the gift of fortitude. This is especially evident toward the end of the life of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus (3) when she had to pass through the tunnel, which St. John of the Cross calls the night of the spirit. She passed through this profound darkness with admirable faith, praying for unbelievers, with perfect abandonment and most pure and ardent charity, which led her to the transforming union, the immediate prelude of eternal life.

But, here is the mystery. One becomes childlike while retaining the virtues of strength and even martyrdom.

Garrigou-Lagrange does a good job in showing us that this seemingly contradiction is based on Christ's very words. 

The way of childhood thus understood wonderfully harmonizes several seemingly contradictory virtues: meekness and fortitude, and also simplicity and prudence, to which Jesus referred when He said to His apostles: "Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves."

We must be prudent with the world, which is often perverse; we must also be strong, at times even to martyrdom, as in Spain and Mexico in recent years. But to have this superior prudence and fortitude, we need the gifts of counsel and fortitude, and to have them we must be increasingly simple and childlike toward God, our Lord, and the Blessed Virgin. The less we should be children in our dealings with men, the more we should become children of God. From Him alone can come the fortitude and prudence we need in the struggles of today: we must hope in God and divine grace more than in the strength of popular movements; and should this force stray farther and farther into the way of atheistic communism, we should continue to resist even to martyrdom, placing our trust in God like a little child in the goodness of his father. Father H. Petitot, O.P., in his book, St. Teresa of Lisieux: a Spiritual Renascence, emphasizes this intimate union of virtues so contrary in appearance in St. Teresa of Lisieux.

After the time of purification, one is again regaining lost innocence. Humility brings trust and self-knowledge. A child knows he cannot do anything without his parents' help. But, he also knows he CAN do things and he begins to understand his own capabilities.

Another point of capital importance is that when well understood the way of spiritual childhood wonderfully harmonizes also true humility with the desire for the loving contemplation of the mysteries of salvation. Thereby we see that this contemplation, which proceeds from living faith illumined by the gifts of understanding and wisdom, is in the normal way of sanctity. This penetrating and at times sweet contemplation of the mysteries of faith is not something extraordinary like visions, revelations, and the stigmata, extrinsic favors, so to speak, which we do not find in the life of St. Teresa of Lisieux; it is, on the contrary, the normal fruit of sanctifying grace, called the grace of the virtues and the gifts and the seed of glory. It is the normal prelude of eternal life. This point of doctrine stands out clearly in the writings of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus. She makes us desire and ask the Lord for this loving contemplation of the mysteries of the Incarnation, the redemption, the Eucharist, the Mass, and the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in our souls.

"Jesus, Your ineffable image is the star which guides my steps."

The saint comes to the threshold of eternal life like a little lamb. 

The virtue of obedience is key at this state, and a sign of a saint, one in the Unitive State is complete obedience to Holy Mother Church. Obedience reveals humility and simplicity.

Maybe someday I can write more about this wonderful state of being one with God. I pray that God in His mercy and love will guide all of us on this blog, both me and readers, to become true children of Light. 

I can say no more at this time about the Unitive State, but encourage my readers to read Garrigou-Lagrange's book found here.

We also have the saints, that "cloud of witnesses", the Church Triumphant, which tell us how to move on the road to perfection. What wonderful truths in the lives of the saints may be found in the readings from their feast days, the readings in the Divine Office, and the myriad biographies and autobiographies. There are no reasons, but our own reluctance and sin, in becoming the saint God wants each one of us to be.

I want to end with a song from my youth. St. Therese called Jesus her "Star of Love", echoed here in this song. The words are underneath this video of the Notre Dame Liturgical Alumni Choir.

I want to walk as a child of the light;
I want to follow Jesus.
God set the stars to give light to the world;
The star of my life is Jesus.


In him there is no darkness at all;
The night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God;
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.
I want to see the brightness of God;
I want to look at Jesus.
Clear Sun of righteousness, shine on my path,
And show me the way to the Father.


I’m looking for the coming of Christ;
I want to be with Jesus.
When we have run with patience the race,
We shall know the joy of Jesus.