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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Discernment Part Two

Perfection comes with a price. This price is suffering. This suffering helps one discern and allows one to endure the Dark Night before coming into Illumination. Here is Garrigou-Lagrange again, briefly on determining what one is dealing with within a person who either is one's self trying to cooperate with grace, or if one is in a position of counseling, such as a priest, working with others.

This suffering is the sharing of Christ's Own suffering, a theme in the mini-series on reparation, repeated as links at the end of this post. But, before one gets to this point, the list of sins and tendencies discussed in the predominant fault posts. must be eliminated. Notice, this quotation overlaps with what Raissa stated about venial sin.

It would be comparatively easy to describe the signs of this spirit by opposing it to the spirit of God, noting at the same time certain differences from the spirit of the devil. As we have said already, this spirit of human nature is the inclination to judge, will, and act in a merely natural way. But notice the meaning of the word "natural." It is not intended to refer to human nature in its essential condition as capable of elevation to the supernatural order, but either to fallen nature not yet revivified by grace or to regenerate human nature, which still bears the four wounds left by original sin and now further aggravated by personal sin. These wounds, although scarring, will never be completely healed in this life.
They are wounds inherited by the entire human race from the sin of its first parents and only imperfectly healed by the water of Baptism, since this sacrament does not destroy concupiscence. This is very beneficial to our spiritual training, for we can thus acquire merit in overcoming our inordinate desires with the aid of God's grace. There is also another advantage to be gained from this imperfect healing; men might otherwise receive Baptism merely to avoid the penalties of this life and not because of the glory of eternal life. We are Christ's heirs, "only we must share his sufferings, if we are to share his glory" (Rom. viii, 17). Cf. St. Thomas, Ilia, q. 69, a. 3. But these four wounds are further aggravated by our own personal sins which diminish our natural inclination to virtue by putting a strong obstacle in its way a tendency to evil. "By sin (even by venial sin in those baptized) man's reason becomes obscured especially in directing what is to be done and the will is hardened against good; the difficulty of acting well is increased, and more fuel is added to the fire of concupiscence" (la Ilae, q. 85, a. 3).
Therefore the spirit of fallen or wounded nature is a bias towards the concupiscence still present within us, inclining us to sin and thus to sloth and cowardice in our irascible appetite, malice in our will, negligence, imprudence or deceit in the intellect. In a word, it is a spirit of self-satisfaction, inordinate love of self, egoism. And this spirit of self-love, as St. Thomas has shown, dedicates a man to the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life.3

This triple concupiscence is in its turn a dangerous slope towards the seven capital sins vain glory, envy, anger, avarice, sloth, gluttony, lust which are able to call even more grievous sins into being (la Ilae, q. 84, a. 4). According to St. John of the Cross (Dark Night of the Soul, bk. I, cc. 2-7) these capital sins may also appear in the spiritual order; for instance, spiritual gluttony which is an excessive desire for spiritual consolation loved for its own sake and not for the sake of God, and also spiritual pride. But these sins are not the most evil fruit of the spirit of nature; they prepare the way for even more serious sins, such as unbelief, despair, hatred of God.
When considered in this way the wounded nature described by St. Thomas does not differ from the nature portrayed in the Imitation of Christ (bk. Ill, c. 54).
But now let us study the spirit of human nature in its relation to the principal virtues of mortification, humility, faith, hope, and charity. As soon as we apply the first rule for the discernment of spirits "it is by their fruit that you will know them" we find that this natural spirit is never inclined to exterior or interior mortification, neither is it prepared to accept humiliations. As the masters of the spiritual life have always pointed out, nature is not anxious to be put to death and even in the life of prayer she is a spiritual glutton for consolation, which is totally opposed to the spirit of faith and true love of God.

This is one reason I have written so much about the danger of following consolations and false seers. One who does so avoids living in the virtue of faith, which demands walking in darkness and without consolations. As noted, St. John of the Cross warns against such spiritual candy.

Years ago, I had a mental picture which was applied to a certain prayer group close to London. I saw the bleeding Crucified Savior in a field, surrounded by sweeties, wrapped in colored papers. The leaders of the prayer group were ignoring Christ and bending over picking up the candies. The Saviour on the Cross was being ignored. This is what happens when people strive after consolations and "messages". Suffering is set aside for sweeties.

What happens when Catholics forget about suffering and purgation is the proliferation of false ministries.

Egoism takes over. Useless and self-seeking activity abounds in the Church today because of this problem. Such is the preoccupation with social justice or/and psychology at the expense of the pursuit of holiness.

A soul which is influenced by this spirit will cease to make further progress and abandon the spiritual life, once it has encountered its first difficulties or period of aridity. It hides its inattention to the interior life under the cloak of an energetic apostolate, devoting all its energy to external activity which has ceased to be supernatural and become entirely superficial. Such a person is confusing charity with philanthropy, humanism, and liberalism. Gradually this natural activity loses its initial drive; it begins as a burst of energy, changes into a general hurry, and finally, slows down to a leisurely pace.

Garrigou-Lagrange is warning priests about such sterile activity but this applies to the laity as well.

Human nature begins to groan as soon as it has to face contradiction or trial, since it is far from willing to shoulder the cross. And thus by degrees it sinks into despair. Its initial fervour was no stronger than the flame which leaps from a bundle of straw only to die away again as quickly as it appeared.
This spirit of nature reveals itself as completely egoistic with no regard for the glory of God or the saving of souls. No longer the love of God and one's neighbour but a disordered love of self occupies pride of place in the soul.
But this spirit is quick in trying to justify itself by appealing to a theory which takes as its fundamental principle: moderation in all things. We must avoid excess in our self-denial and spiritual exercises. We are not obliged to strive for mystical perfection, that would be the error of Mysticism. In fact, if a person makes it his daily practice to read a chapter from the Imitation of Christ for his spiritual profit, he is already a mystic. We must do nothing more than follow the ordinary way: virtus stat in medio.

Have not some of my readers been warned by their family members that they are too zealous? There is no middle ground in the spiritual life.

to be continued..

31 Oct 2014
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31 Oct 2014
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19 Oct 2014
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18 Oct 2014
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14 Oct 2014
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We can make reparation for our friends in order to enter into more perfect friendships. If one sees an imperfection in a friend, one may pray and do penance so that person becomes a saint. Leading others to perfection through ...

15 Oct 2014
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16 Oct 2014
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02 May 2014
... York This Sunday in Reparation for Abortion. Posted by Supertradmum · · Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare ...
07 Aug 2013
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13 Jun 2013
Reparation for sins comes either in this life or in purgatory. This is joyful reparation. God is good. My heart is full of love and love is what it is all about. Do you not want to be purged of all things which are displeasing to God?
04 Dec 2013
A friend of mine told me that she saw a pattern in my life praying for a certain type of person. She noted that reparation can be made for some, and that one can learn to excel in the virtue of charity, because of intercessory ...