Tuesday, 8 April 2014
May the preserve our Holy Father Pope Francis, give him life, and make him blessed upon earth, and deliver him not to the of his enemies.
LET US PRAY:
O God, the Shepherd and Ruler of all the faithful, in Thy mercy look down upon Thy servant, Francis, whom Thou hast appointed to preside over Thy Church, and grant we beseech Thee that both by word and example he may edify those who are under his charge; so that, with the flock entrusted to him, he may attain everlasting. Through our Lord.
After being greatly insulted by a Knight of Malta for not giving a benefice to one of his
servants, “the bishop‟s brother …asked him how it was he had not lost his temper, and the Saint
confessed that „at the time and many other times he was seething with anger like water in a pot
boiling over the fire but that by the grace of God, even if the violent efforts to resist such passion
endangered his life…he would not let himself go.‟”12
On one occasion, he says he was “seething with anger” inside
and on several other occasions he was afraid of losing in fifteen minutes what it took him years
to acquire. He admitted to Camus that the two passions that gave him the greatest difficulty were
love and anger. “With regard to the passion of anger to which he was inclined, he fought it head
on and with such strength and courage, or, to state it better, with such effort and constancy that
this appeared visibly at his death. When they opened up his body, some stones were found in his
The doctors, Camus tells us, explained the presence of these little stones as
resulting from the very vehement efforts he made to control this passion. Then Camus makes
this fanciful comment, becoming almost rhapsodic: “O stones from David‟s bread bag, how
many giants, that is, impetuous assaults of anger, have you felled? O stones from which run
water, oil and honey, and which demonstrate the great power of grace over nature, the grace that
sometimes changes stones into honey and sometimes also honey into stone.”18
This rather baroque comparison with its allusions to two noteworthy incidents of the OT
–David felling Goliath, water and honey coming from the rock as the Israelites wandered in the
desert–is instructive for our purposes. Miel or honey signified for both the saint and Camus
gentleness or sweetness. This calls to mind the very well-known saying attributed to the saint but
found only in Camus: “"Always be as indulgent as you can, never forgetting that one can catch
more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a hundred barrels of vinegar.”19
Now in Camus‟
mind, not only can hard and difficult situations and events signified by the stones be softened by
gentleness, but gentleness itself through grace can also become as hard or as stern as stone. This
is an interesting take on the way one of the Francis‟ closest friends, who greatly admired the
saint‟s extraordinary gentleness, saw occasions where sternness or firmness might be called for
by God‟s grace. As we will see below, Camus personally experienced the turning of “honey into
So Francis was apparently hot-blooded by nature and throughout his lifetime. As late as
1619, “he admitted to a friend: „I very nearly let go of my anger, and intentionally I was obliged
to grip my anger by the scruff of the neck‟ and that he had to take the reins in both hands to hold
it back.‟…. „However, much I have been in the right,‟ he confessed, I have never shown anger
without discovering afterwards that I would have done better by not showing it‟ So he had shown
One must use a virtue to combat a vice. Use the opposite virtue to combat a vice. So, if you are angry, emphasize meekness, gentleness.
It is true that nothing has angered me for a longtime like the report
that I received from you regarding the indignity committed
between this dishonest young man and this poor girl. I owe special
honor and respect to those dear to you and to Madame, our
Président, for many reasons. So, if it were possible, I would
exchange this misfortune for a painful wound in my body to
relieve this dear sister of the excessive sorrow, which I now see in
her soul. If this vicious young man had desired to mitigate this
misfortune by marriage, which I did not fail to urge him to do as
my duty required, I would have detained him longer, despite my
repugnance, to be of some help. But when I heard the offensive
words with which he defended himself, and the invectives he used
to express his shameful feelings for this young woman, I threw him
out, even though I saw that he was without any resources, without
drive and without judgment. It would be impossible to get a dowry
or anything else from him. Otherwise I would have forced myself
to overcome my feelings, and kept on talking to him until we had
come to a conclusion, although it would have been disagreeable for
Labels: predominant fault list
Those regular readers know that I have done in the past a series on the predominant fault. Just follow the tags and labels. Some posts are linked below.
Remember when I wrote of the possibility of us having more than one? Well, apparently, St. Francis de Sales wrote that he had two predominant faults, as noted by St. Alphonsus Ligouri in his book, The Twelve Steps to Holiness and Salvation.
St. Francis de Sales admitted to having anger and love as his two predominant faults. Today, I want to examine what both saints wrote of these two predominant faults.
Firstly, St. Alphonsus reveals that anyone who gets upset with sin in one's own life is not humble, but proud, and may be exhibiting the predominant fault of anger. Anger is not merely focused on other or events, but one can look at one's self in anger.
St Alphonsus corrects one's perception by noting that the humble person quietly and resignedly accepts sin as part of life (until the Unitive State), and that one must pray to God, as did St. Catherine of Genoa, to see the good in one, the fruit of repentance, not merely the horror of sin.
"Lord, see, here is the fruit from my own garden! But, pardon me, I beg Thee!" A quick and sincere prayer reveals a humble heart.
And, St. Francis de Sales warns against all types of anger, even towards one's self.
That St. Francis admitted his own predominant faults encourages us to face and overcome our own, with grace. He wrote that it took his twelve years to overcome anger, working on that sin for that length of time.
Some women have shared with me that vainglory is a predominant fault-that is, wanting to be noticed, wanting to be attractive.
St. Francis shared that one of his predominant faults was love. How can love be a fault, one might ask?
Love many be inordinate or focused too much on people rather than God Himself. God is a Jealous God when it comes to our hearts. When St. Francis changed the emphasis of his love to God, he finally overcame that predominant fault of misplaced love.
More later...an here are some links
The great gift of St. Anselm to the Church is not only his philosophical writings, but his renewal of the seminaries in the Catholic Church.
He introduced the Trivium and Quadrivium into the seminaries. I love St. Anselm.
Before I begin, I want to state that the Doctors of Church are a gift to the Church and to us individually.
|The Glory of Benedict|
We cannot afford to ignore these gifts to the Church.
For Anselm, (1033-1109) I am not going to get into the argument about God as "maximal perfection". although that might help some people follow his thinking about God.
I have actually taught the Proslogion and Monologion in the past and do not want to deal with those texts on this blog.
What is important in his works are those sermons and devotions which will help us in our journey towards perfection.
This section uses much of the same language of John of the Cross and Bonaventure, regarding the Bridegroom, Who is Christ.
VI from The Devotions of St. Anselm
That we are one in Christ, and one Christ with Christ Himself.
CONSIDER also more yet more deeply in how close an union thou art joined with Him. Hear what the Lord Himself prayeth to the Father for them that are His: I will, saith He, that as Thou and I are one, so they also may be one in Us. I am (that is) Thy Son by nature; I pray that they may be Thy sons and My brethren by grace. How great a dignity is it for a Christian man, so to grow in Christ that he himself may be called in a sense Christ.
Anselm has an interesting take on this imagery, making Christ both the Bride and the Bridegroom, that is , that the Body of Christ, the Church is the Bride. This is a combination of other mystical and Biblical images
This also that faithful steward of God’s house hold the Church perceived when he said: All we that are Christians in Christ are one Christ. Nor should we wonder thereat, when we consider that He is the head and we His body; He the bridegroom and He also the bride; in Himself the bridegroom, but the bride in the holy souls whom He hath bound to Himself in the bonds of an everlasting love. As upon a bridegroom, saith He, hath He set a crown upon Me, and as a bride hath He adorned me with ornaments.
Here, then, O my soul, here do thou consider His benefits towards thee, be thou inflamed with the love of Him, let the fire that is in thee break out into longing after the blessedness of beholding Him.
And here, Anselm reflects the poetry of Bernard of Clairvaux.
Cry out boldly in the words of the faithful bride, Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth. Let all delight which is not in Him depart from my mind, let no pleasure, no consolation of this present life comfort me, while His blessed presence is denied to me. Let Him embrace me with the arms of His love, let Him kiss me with the heavenly sweetness of His mouth, let Him speak to me with that ineffable eloquence wherewith He revealeth His secrets to the Angels.
May the Bridegroom and the Bride enjoy such mutual interchange of discourse, that I may open my whole heart to Him and He reveal to me the secrets of His sweetness. Thus, O my soul, refreshed by these and such like meditations and full of the passion of a holy longing, do thou strive to follow Thy Bridegroom and say unto Him, Draw me after Thee; we will run after the odour of Thine ointments.
The person must run after Christ is this pursuit of holiness.
Speak to Him and speak as a loyal spouse not with the sound of words that passeth away but with a longing of heart that fainteth not; so speak that thou mayest be heard, so desire to be drawn by Him that thou mayest follow. Say therefore to thy Redeemer and Saviour, Draw me after Thee. Let not the sweetness of this world but let thy sweetness of Thy most blessed love draw me.
I know this is hard for some people, but the pursuit of God is like a love relationship-one approaches the lover and he approaches the beloved in a back and forth giving and receiving until there is completion. This relationship becomes more and more intimate in the Unitive State.
Draw me, for Thou hast drawn me heretofore; hold me fast, for Thou hast laid hold upon me.Thou hast drawn me to Thee by redeeming me; draw me by saving me. Thou hast drawn me by pitying me; draw me by blessing me. Thou hast laid hold on me by appearing among men, made man for us; hold me fast as Thou sittest on Thy throne in heaven, exalted above the Angels.
How wonderful is it that it is the King of the Universe that is the Bridegroom.
God is also King as well as Love, in the language of the Song of Songs. Anselm is right in the mystical tradition of the great Bernard of Clairvaux. This overlapping of language is not merely a cultural style, but the reality of the heart's seeking after God.
That is Thy word, that is Thy promise. Thou hast promised, saying: And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me. Draw therefore now in Thy mighty exaltation him whom Thou didst draw to Thee in Thy merciful humiliation. Thou hast gone up on high; let me believe it: Thou reignest over all things; let me acknowledge it. Do I not acknowledge that Thou reignest? Surely I acknowledge it, and give Thee thanks. But do Thou grant that I may acknowledge with the acknowledgement of a perfect love that which I acknowledge by a devout faith concerning Thee. Bind the desires of my heart to Thee with the indissoluble bonds of love, since the first-fruits of my spirit are already with Thee. Vouchsafe that we, whom Thy love in redeeming us did knit to Thee, may have fellowship with Thee in the unity of the same love. For Thou hast loved me, Thou didst give Thyself for me; may therefore my heart and mind be with Thee continually in heaven, and Thy protection with me continually on earth.
Help him when he burneth with longing after Thy love, to whom Thou didst show love when he despised it. Give to him when he asketh to whom Thou givest Thyself when he knew Thee not. Receive him when he returneth to Thee, O Thou who didst call him back to Thee when he fled from Thee. I will love Thee that I may be loved of Thee; nay rather, because I am loved of Thee, I will love Thee more and more that I may be loved the more. May my thoughts be knit to Thee, may my heart be wholly made one with Thee, where our nature, which Thou hast in mercy taken upon Thyself, reigneth with Thee in bliss.
Again, these passages reveal the loving, warm, and holy heart and mind of Anselm. I hope some of you are surprised at the depth of this holy man's love for Christ.
Grant that I may cleave to Thee without parting, worship Thee without wearying, serve Thee without failing, faithfully seek Thee, happily find Thee, for ever possess Thee.
Addressing God in these words, O my soul, do thou kindle thyself, do thou burn, do thou break forth into flames, and strive to become wholly on fire with longing after Him.
To be continued..............
Encouraging those during Lent who are trying to endure either the Dark Night of the Soul, or the beginnings of aridity, here is a section from Uniformity With God's Will, by St. Alphonsus Ligouri. One can find the entire book online here.
As my readers know, I especially like Rodriguez, and if anyone feels they can find his books for me, let me know. I read some of these in the convent two years ago. There are three volumes. I have tried several times to download the PDF and cannot do it.
Lastly, we should unite ourselves to the will of God as regards our degree of grace and glory. True, we should esteem the things that make for the glory of God, but we should show the greatest esteem for those that concern the will of God. We should desire to love God more than the seraphs, but not to a degree higher than God has destined for us. St. John of Avila says: "I believe every saint has had the desire to be higher in grace than he actually was. However, despite this, their serenity of soul always remained unruffled. Their desire for a greater degree of grace sprang not from a consideration of their own good, but of God's. They were content with the degree of grace God had meted out for them, though actually God had given them less. They considered it a greater sign of true love of God to be content with what God had given them, than to desire to have received more."This means, as Rodriguez explains it, we should be diligent in striving to become perfect, so that tepidity and laziness may not serve as excuses for some to say: "God must help me; I can do only so much for myself." Nevertheless, when we do fall into some fault, we should not lose our peace of soul and union with the will of God, which permits our fall; nor should we lose our courage.