Saturday, 27 September 2014
...who refuse to connect the dots.
A couple were thrown off a bus and branded racists after singing the Peppa Pig theme tune to their autistic daughter, it has been claimed.
Nick Barnfield and Sarah Cleaves were travelling with their daughter Heidi on a bus from Sheffield to Doncaster when the 15-month-old started crying.
The couple, who live in Rotherham, started singing the song in an effort to cheer their daughter up, but say they were branded racists by another passenger and told to get off the bus by its driver.
The couple claimed the woman, who they saw was wearing a hijab, took offence to the snorting sounds in the song and believed they were a reference to how pork is forbidden in Islam though this has not been confirmed.
She complained to the bus’s driver, who, it is claimed, then told the couple it would be ‘easier’ for them to get off two miles from their home.
‘We were really embarrassed, ashamed and upset and we hadn’t done anything wrong, just trying to make our little girl happy, but people were looking at us as if we had done something wrong.
‘It was humiliating,’ said Mr Branfield.
The 24-year-old said they were trying to settle their daughter on the X78 bus on September 8 when they were approached ‘aggressively’ by the woman.
‘A lady came up to us and quite aggressively started telling us we were irresponsible parents and that we were being racist singing the song.’
‘She went up to the bus driver and told him we were being racist towards her and she wasn’t happy. The driver came up to me and said we had to get off the bus or the police would have to come.
‘He said: ‘just get off the bus – it’s not worth the hassle’. I was really shocked because we had done nothing wrong but he didn’t listen to us.
‘He just said: “Go now, otherwise you’ll hold up all the passengers and no-one will be happy.”‘
‘I was more upset at the bus driver not taking in both sides – he just heard the word racism and kicked us off.
‘I’m annoyed he didn’t listen to our side of the story or ask any questions.’
A spokesman for First confirmed the couple did get off the bus following a conversation with a female Asian passenger and the bus driver, but claimed the bus driver had no knowledge of allegations of racism.
‘CCTV confirms that Mr Branfield had left the bus as he described and it does clearly show a conversation between the driver, a female Asian customer and the customer Mr Branfield who has logged the complaint with us.
‘In terms of what was said we are investigating it and we’re in discussions with Mr Branfield.
‘We’re looking at the circumstances in which he left the vehicle – I don’t want to speculate about his concerns that he was asked to leave but we want to be clear from both sides what happened.
‘The driver told us he heard no reference to racism but we are investigating the incident and have not yet drawn a conclusion.’
South Yorkshire Police said it was not investigating the incident.
Metropolitan Amvrosios of Kalavryta and Aigialeia has spoken out against the “Anti-racist law” passed in Greece.
“With the entering into force of the anti-racist bill, all who talk about the motherland and patriotism will risk jail.
“A priest who will speak up against Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religions from the ambo, may be declared a racist and imprisoned,” said the hierarch, cited by AgionOros with the reference to Rua.gr (”Russian Athens”).
“Soon we will become aliens in our own home country. I do not know whether I will live to see these times, but your children will surely be slaves of Muslims. Greece is disappearing, faith is disappearing… Keep the flame of the motherland and faith. Globalization is not knocking at our doors any more – it has already entered our home,” he added.
Reminder: there are only two revealed religions in the entire world, Judaism and Catholicism, which would include by extension the Orthodox.
Protestantism cannot be reformed, as it is steeped in heresy. Islam cannot be reformed as it is a false religion. Catholics cannot be both politically correct and true Catholics. One cannot reform something which is not true.
After this discussion , it was clear to me that Catholics need to study their own religion. From the CCC.
The social duty of religion and the right to religious freedom
2104 "All men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and his Church, and to embrace it and hold on to it as they come to know it."26 This duty derives from "the very dignity of the human person."27 It does not contradict a "sincere respect" for different religions which frequently "reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men,"28 nor the requirement of charity, which urges Christians "to treat with love, prudence and patience those who are in error or ignorance with regard to the faith."29
2105 The duty of offering God genuine worship concerns man both individually and socially. This is "the traditional Catholic teaching on the moral duty of individuals and societies toward the true religion and the one Church of Christ."30 By constantly evangelizing men, the Church works toward enabling them "to infuse the Christian spirit into the mentality and mores, laws and structures of the communities in which [they] live."31 The social duty of Christians is to respect and awaken in each man the love of the true and the good. It requires them to make known the worship of the one true religion which subsists in the Catholic and apostolic Church.32 Christians are called to be the light of the world. Thus, the Church shows forth the kingship of Christ over all creation and in particular over human societies.33
2106 "Nobody may be forced to act against his convictions, nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in association with others, within due limits."34 This right is based on the very nature of the human person, whose dignity enables him freely to assent to the divine truth which transcends the temporal order. For this reason it "continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it."35
2107 "If because of the circumstances of a particular people special civil recognition is given to one religious community in the constitutional organization of a state, the right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom must be recognized and respected as well."36
2108 The right to religious liberty is neither a moral license to adhere to error, nor a supposed right to error,37 but rather a natural right of the human person to civil liberty, i.e., immunity, within just limits, from external constraint in religious matters by political authorities. This natural right ought to be acknowledged in the juridical order of society in such a way that it constitutes a civil right.38
2109 The right to religious liberty can of itself be neither unlimited nor limited only by a "public order" conceived in a positivist or naturalist manner.39 The "due limits" which are inherent in it must be determined for each social situation by political prudence, according to the requirements of the common good, and ratified by the civil authority in accordance with "legal principles which are in conformity with the objective moral order."40
III. "YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME"
2110 The first commandment forbids honoring gods other than the one Lord who has revealed himself to his people. It proscribes superstition and irreligion. Superstition in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion; irreligion is the vice contrary by defect to the virtue of religion.
2111 Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition.41
2112 The first commandment condemns polytheism. It requires man neither to believe in, nor to venerate, other divinities than the one true God. Scripture constantly recalls this rejection of "idols, [of] silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see." These empty idols make their worshippers empty: "Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them."42 God, however, is the "living God"43 who gives life and intervenes in history.
2113 Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, "You cannot serve God and mammon."44 Many martyrs died for not adoring "the Beast"45 refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.46
2114 Human life finds its unity in the adoration of the one God. The commandment to worship the Lord alone integrates man and saves him from an endless disintegration. Idolatry is a perversion of man's innate religious sense. An idolater is someone who "transfers his indestructible notion of God to anything other than God."47
THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
THE PROFESSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
THE PROFESSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER
I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER
"I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH"
"I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH"
Paragraph 2. The Father
I. "IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT"
232 Christians are baptized "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"53 Before receiving the sacrament, they respond to a three-part question when asked to confess the Father, the Son and the Spirit: "I do." "The faith of all Christians rests on the Trinity."54
233 Christians are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: not in their names,55 for there is only one God, the almighty Father, his only Son and the Holy Spirit: the Most Holy Trinity.
234 The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the "hierarchy of the truths of faith".56 The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men "and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin".57
235 This paragraph expounds briefly (I) how the mystery of the Blessed Trinity was revealed, (II) how the Church has articulated the doctrine of the faith regarding this mystery, and (III) how, by the divine missions of the Son and the Holy Spirit, God the Father fulfills the "plan of his loving goodness" of creation, redemption and sanctification.
236 The Fathers of the Church distinguish between theology (theologia) and economy (oikonomia). "Theology" refers to the mystery of God's inmost life within the Blessed Trinity and "economy" to all the works by which God reveals himself and communicates his life. Through the oikonomia the theologia is revealed to us; but conversely, the theologia illuminates the whole oikonomia. God's works reveal who he is in himself; the mystery of his inmost being enlightens our understanding of all his works. So it is, analogously, among human persons. A person discloses himself in his actions, and the better we know a person, the better we understand his actions.
237 The Trinity is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the "mysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless they are revealed by God".58 To be sure, God has left traces of his Trinitarian being in his work of creation and in his Revelation throughout the Old Testament. But his inmost Being as Holy Trinity is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel's faith before the Incarnation of God's Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit.
II. THE REVELATION OF GOD AS TRINITY
The Father revealed by the Son
238 Many religions invoke God as "Father". The deity is often considered the "father of gods and of men". In Israel, God is called "Father" inasmuch as he is Creator of the world.59 Even more, God is Father because of the covenant and the gift of the law to Israel, "his first-born son".60 God is also called the Father of the king of Israel. Most especially he is "the Father of the poor", of the orphaned and the widowed, who are under his loving protection.61
239 By calling God "Father", the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God's parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood,62 which emphasizes God's immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man. But this experience also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard:63 no one is father as God is Father.
240 Jesus revealed that God is Father in an unheard-of sense: he is Father not only in being Creator; he is eternally Father in relation to his only Son, who is eternally Son only in relation to his Father: "No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."64
241 For this reason the apostles confess Jesus to be the Word: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God"; as "the image of the invisible God"; as the "radiance of the glory of God and the very stamp of his nature".65
242 Following this apostolic tradition, the Church confessed at the first ecumenical council at Nicaea (325) that the Son is "consubstantial" with the Father, that is, one only God with him.66 The second ecumenical council, held at Constantinople in 381, kept this expression in its formulation of the Nicene Creed and confessed "the only-begotten Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father".67
The Father and the Son revealed by the Spirit
243 Before his Passover, Jesus announced the sending of "another Paraclete" (Advocate), the Holy Spirit. At work since creation, having previously "spoken through the prophets", the Spirit will now be with and in the disciples, to teach them and guide them "into all the truth".68 The Holy Spirit is thus revealed as another divine person with Jesus and the Father.
244 The eternal origin of the Holy Spirit is revealed in his mission in time. The Spirit is sent to the apostles and to the Church both by the Father in the name of the Son, and by the Son in person, once he had returned to the Father.69 The sending of the person of the Spirit after Jesus' glorification70 reveals in its fullness the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
245 The apostolic faith concerning the Spirit was confessed by the second ecumenical council at Constantinople (381): "We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father."71 By this confession, the Church recognizes the Father as "the source and origin of the whole divinity".72 But the eternal origin of the Spirit is not unconnected with the Son's origin: "The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is God, one and equal with the Father and the Son, of the same substance and also of the same nature. . . Yet he is not called the Spirit of the Father alone,. . . but the Spirit of both the Father and the Son."73 The Creed of the Church from the Council of Constantinople confesses: "With the Father and the Son, he is worshipped and glorified."74
246 The Latin tradition of the Creed confesses that the Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son (filioque)". The Council of Florence in 1438 explains: "The Holy Spirit is eternally from Father and Son; He has his nature and subsistence at once (simul) from the Father and the Son. He proceeds eternally from both as from one principle and through one spiration. . . . And, since the Father has through generation given to the only-begotten Son everything that belongs to the Father, except being Father, the Son has also eternally from the Father, from whom he is eternally born, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son."75
247 The affirmation of the filioque does not appear in the Creed confessed in 381 at Constantinople. But Pope St. Leo I, following an ancient Latin and Alexandrian tradition, had already confessed it dogmatically in 447,76 even before Rome, in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon, came to recognize and receive the Symbol of 381. The use of this formula in the Creed was gradually admitted into the Latin liturgy (between the eighth and eleventh centuries). The introduction of the filioque into the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed by the Latin liturgy constitutes moreover, even today, a point of disagreement with the Orthodox Churches.
248 At the outset the Eastern tradition expresses the Father's character as first origin of the Spirit. By confessing the Spirit as he "who proceeds from the Father", it affirms that he comes from the Father through the Son.77 The Western tradition expresses first the consubstantial communion between Father and Son, by saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (filioque). It says this, "legitimately and with good reason",78 for the eternal order of the divine persons in their consubstantial communion implies that the Father, as "the principle without principle",79 is the first origin of the Spirit, but also that as Father of the only Son, he is, with the Son, the single principle from which the Holy Spirit proceeds.80 This legitimate complementarity, provided it does not become rigid, does not affect the identity of faith in the reality of the same mystery confessed.
III. THE HOLY TRINITY IN THE TEACHING OF THE FAITH
The formation of the Trinitarian dogma
249 From the beginning, the revealed truth of the Holy Trinity has been at the very root of the Church's living faith, principally by means of Baptism. It finds its expression in the rule of baptismal faith, formulated in the preaching, catechesis and prayer of the Church. Such formulations are already found in the apostolic writings, such as this salutation taken up in the Eucharistic liturgy: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."81
250 During the first centuries the Church sought to clarify her Trinitarian faith, both to deepen her own understanding of the faith and to defend it against the errors that were deforming it. This clarification was the work of the early councils, aided by the theological work of the Church Fathers and sustained by the Christian people's sense of the faith.
251 In order to articulate the dogma of the Trinity, the Church had to develop her own terminology with the help of certain notions of philosophical origin: "substance", "person" or "hypostasis", "relation" and so on. In doing this, she did not submit the faith to human wisdom, but gave a new and unprecedented meaning to these terms, which from then on would be used to signify an ineffable mystery, "infinitely beyond all that we can humanly understand".82
252 The Church uses (I) the term "substance" (rendered also at times by "essence" or "nature") to designate the divine being in its unity, (II) the term "person" or "hypostasis" to designate the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the real distinction among them, and (III) the term "relation" to designate the fact that their distinction lies in the relationship of each to the others.
The dogma of the Holy Trinity
253 The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the "consubstantial Trinity".83 The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire: "The Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the Father is, the Father and the Son that which the Holy Spirit is, i.e. by nature one God."84 In the words of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), "Each of the persons is that supreme reality, viz., the divine substance, essence or nature."85
254 The divine persons are really distinct from one another. "God is one but not solitary."86 "Father", "Son", "Holy Spirit" are not simply names designating modalities of the divine being, for they are really distinct from one another: "He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is the Son he who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit he who is the Father or the Son."87 They are distinct from one another in their relations of origin: "It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds."88 The divine Unity is Triune.
255 The divine persons are relative to one another. Because it does not divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another: "In the relational names of the persons the Father is related to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to both. While they are called three persons in view of their relations, we believe in one nature or substance."89 Indeed "everything (in them) is one where there is no opposition of relationship."90
256 St. Gregory of Nazianzus, also called "the Theologian", entrusts this summary of Trinitarian faith to the catechumens of Constantinople:
- Above all guard for me this great deposit of faith for which I live and fight, which I want to take with me as a companion, and which makes me bear all evils and despise all pleasures: I mean the profession of faith in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. I entrust it to you today. By it I am soon going to plunge you into water and raise you up from it. I give it to you as the companion and patron of your whole life. I give you but one divinity and power, existing one in three, and containing the three in a distinct way. Divinity without disparity of substance or nature, without superior degree that raises up or inferior degree that casts down. . . the infinite co-naturality of three infinites. Each person considered in himself is entirely God. . . the three considered together. . . I have not even begun to think of unity when the Trinity bathes me in its splendor. I have not even begun to think of the Trinity when unity grasps me. . .92
As there is much confusion out there on this subject, here is some information from an expert on this subject. Commentary later today.
What is possession? By possession the devil really dwells in the body of the victim, instead of only making his action felt from the outside, as in obsession. Moreover, by thus acting from within, he not only hinders the free use of a man's faculties, but he himself speaks and acts by the organs of the possessed person, without the latter being able to hinder him from doing so, and even as a rule without his perceiving it.
When we say that the devil dwells in the body of a person, we do not mean that he is there like the soul itself which informs the body, but like a motor which, through the body, acts on the soul. He acts directly on the members of the body, makes them execute all sorts of movements, and he acts indirectly on the faculties in the measure in which they depend on the body for their operations.
Two states are distinguished in possessed persons: a state of crisis, with contortions, outbursts of rage, blasphemous words; and a state of calm. During the crisis, the patient generally loses, it seems, the feeling of what is taking place in him, for afterward he has no memory of what the devil has, they say, done through him. Nevertheless, as an exception, there are possessed persons who remain aware of what is taking place in them during the crisis. This was, it seems, the case with Father Surin, who, while exorcising the Ursulines of Loudun, himself became possessed or at least obsessed. He said: "In this state, there are very few actions in which am I free." (10)
In the state of calm, the devil seems to have withdrawn, although there may still remain at times chronic infirmities which physicians do not succeed in curing.
As a rule possession is more properly a punishment than a purifying trial. However, there are exceptions, like the case of Father Surin, that of Blessed Eustochium of Padua, beatified by Clement XIII, on March 22, 1760,(11) that of Marie des Vallees, spiritual daughter of St. John Eudes.(12) Mention must also be made of the more recent case of Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified, an Arabian Carmelite who died in the odor of sanctity at Bethlehem in 1878, and the cause of whose beatification has been introduced. She was twice the victim of possession, or at least of a very strong obsession, first at the Carmel of Pau, later at that of Mangalore.(13) There have been other similar cases, in which possession was a concomitant phenomenon of the passive purification of the senses or that of the spirit, in souls that offered themselves as victims for sinners.
What are the signs of real possession? Great care must be taken to distinguish it from certain cases of monomania and of mental alienation which resemble it. According to the Roman Ritual (De exorcizandis obsessis a daemonio), there are three principal signs: "To speak an unknown language, making use of several words of this language or understanding him who speaks it; to disclose distant and hidden things; to manifest strength which surpasses the natural powers of the subject, considering his age and state. These and other similar signs, when united in great number, are the strongest indications of possession." They are particularly striking, for example, if a person who does not know either Latin or theology or knows only their rudiments, speaks in correct and even elegant Latin about the most difficult problems of theology, like that of the gratuity of predestination.(14) It is true that people adduce cases of morbid exaltation which awaken in the memory forgotten languages or fragments that have been heard; but in this question the Ritual demands much more, as we have just seen. Accompanying possession at times is levitation, a preternatural phenomenon which manifests itself under circumstances of such a nature that they cannot be attributed to God or to the good angels, but must be attributed to the devil. According to tradition, this was the case with Simon Magus who, they say, was lifted into the air and fell down.
Another indication of possession is that on coming into contact with a sacred object or on the recitation of certain liturgical prayers, the person believed to be possessed becomes furious and blasphemes horribly. This sign is more significant when the experience is brought about without the knowledge of the person, in such a way that the reaction is not produced by him, by his ill will, or by a desire to simulate possession.
It has been pointed out, apropos of these signs, that in extreme hysteria there are analogous phenomena.(15) Analogous, it is true, but not specifically similar; in hysteria the patient does not discourse in a language of which he is ignorant and in a learned manner on problems of which he has no knowledge at all, such as predestination or the efficacy of grace. Besides, the devil can produce either nervous diseases, or exterior phenomena analogous to those of neuroses; he may also make use of an existing illness and reduce the patient to a state of exasperation.
What are the remedies for possession? The Ritual indicates the following: (I) The possessed person must do penance and purify his conscience by a good confession. (2) He should receive Holy Communion as often as possible, according to the advice of a prudent and enlightened confessor. The more pure and mortified a soul is, the less hold the devil has on it; Holy Communion introduces into the soul the Author of grace who is the conqueror of Satan. However, Holy Communion should be given only in moments of calm. (3) The possessed person should often implore the mercy of God by prayer and fasting. (4) With a great spirit of faith he should make use of sacramentals, in particular of the sign of the cross and holy water.(16) He should have trusting recourse to the invocation of the holy name of Jesus, of His humility, His immense love. (5) Lastly, the exorcisms were instituted for the deliverance of possessed persons in virtue of the power of driving out devils which Jesus Christ left to the Church. But solemn exorcism may be performed only by priests chosen by the bishop of the place and with his special authorization.
The Ritual counsels exorcists to prepare themselves for this difficult function by prayer, fasting, and a humble and sincere confession, so that the devil may not reproach them with their own sins. In addition, solemn exorcism should, at least as a rule, be performed only in a church or chapel. The exorcist should be accompanied by grave and pious witnesses, sufficiently strong to overpower the possessed person if necessary. Lastly, the exorcist should proceed to the interrogations with authority, rejecting all that is useless. He summons the devil or the devils to declare the reason for the possession and to tell when it will end. To oblige the enemy of God to do this, the exorcist must redouble the adjurations which seem to irritate the devil most, that is, the invocations of the holy names of Jesus and Mary. If the evil spirit makes sarcastic and derisive answers, silence must be imposed upon him with authority and dignity. The witnesses should be few in number, they must not ask questions, but should pray silently. The exorcisms should be continued for several hours and even for several days, with intervals of respite, until the deliverance, which should be followed by prayers of thanksgiving.
Many authors point out that the exorcisms are not always efficacious against obsession. They do not deliver the soul completely from an obsession which is part of the passive purifications, for God permits it for a time known to Him, in view of the great advantages which the soul should derive from this trial.
We have studied particularly the diabolical vexations which Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified had to undergo in 1868 in the Carmel of Pau and in 187I in that of Mangalore, not only according to the account given by Father Estrate in her Life and the shorter report by Father Buzy, but also according to the testimony gathered by her directors and superiors. We are convinced that in her case there was, on two different occasions, possession or at least a strong obsession which took away from the servant of God the responsibility for certain exterior acts (a short departure from the cloister, which was not yet canonically established) and for certain remarks contrary to humility and obedience, virtues which she practiced in a heroic degree, even in those obscure periods, as soon as she recovered the use of her faculties.(17)
We think there was in this case not a punishment, but a trial and very great merit. As Father Estrate,(18) who was one of the directors of this valiant Carmelite, points out, she bore these diabolical vexations with heroic patience, a very great spirit of faith, an admirable confidence in God, an ardent love of God and of souls. As long as she preserved freedom of movement and the use of speech, she spent hours at a time replying to all the suggestions of the devil. The devil had permission to attack her one hundred times in the Carmel of Pau, and he sought by every means to make her utter a complaint; "always conquered, he begged the Master to be allowed not to continue the struggle. Jesus obliged him to go on." The servant of God did not cease to reply to his assaults by words such as these: "I offer my sufferings for the enemies of Jesus, that they may love Him as St. John did." The devil was forced to say: "Do you know why the little Arab speaks thus? Why is she strong? Because she walks in the steps of the Master." At length at the end of forty days she was freed.(19)
This case furnished an example of one of the greatest trials which may accompany the passive purifications of the senses or the spirit. It brings out strikingly the truth of what St. John of the Cross says on this subject: "There is open warfare between two spirits. . . . This attack of the devil takes place also when God bestows His favors upon a soul by the instrumentality of a good angel. The devil sees this occasionally, because God in general permits it to become known to the enemy, that he may do what he can [that is, if God grants the soul extraordinary favors, He often permits the devil to fight as if with equal arms, by extraordinary vexations]. . . . At that time the mental agonies are great and occasionally surpass all description; for when spirit has to do with spirit, the evil one causes an intolerable horror in the good one." (20) All authors of mystical theology express the same opinion, and there are similar facts in the lives of many canonized saints.
The example we have just recalled and others more or less similar are made clear in the light of what St. John of the Cross teaches inThe Dark Night on the night of the senses and that of the spirit. He states that these nights are tunnels through which generous souls, called to a high degree of perfection, to true sanctity, must pass. If a soul emerges from the first tunnel with a heroic degree of the virtues and if, on leaving the second, the heroic quality of its virtues is even more manifest, it is a certain sign that it did not go astray in these very dark and difficult passages, but, on the contrary, gained very great merits therein. These trials are more particularly painful for souls that have a reparatory vocation and that must, in imitation of our Lord, suffer for the salvation of sinners.
In these exceedingly painful dark nights, the soul may occasionally commit a sin, even a serious sin, as happened to the Apostle St. Peter during the dark night of our Savior's passion. But if, like St. Peter, the tried soul rises immediately with deep repentance, it receives a notable increase of grace and charity and it continues its ascent from the very spot where it stumbled for a moment. "Wherefore the penitent sometimes arises to a greater grace," (21) says St. Thomas.
It follows that these obscure periods in the lives of the servants of God, far from being an obstacle to their beatification, on the contrary bring out more clearly the heroic degree of their virtues. Those who have passed through them have triumphed over the most difficult trials which the saints meet with in this life. This is especially true of those who fight more directly against the devil, and who in this way show more clearly the depth of the reign of God in souls that are wholly submissive to Him. Thus are realized occasionally in an extraordinary manner the words of St. Paul: "But the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that He may confound the wise; and the weak things of the world hath God chosen, that He may confound the strong. And the base things of the world, and the things that are contemptible, hath God chosen, and things that are not, that He might bring to nought things that are." (22)
The article entitled "Possession" in the Dictionnaire theologique catholique states: "In our Western civilizations, men would be inclined to say that the devil is interested instead in dissimulating his action. Does he not hold men so much the better when they ignore or deny him?" (23) But, as Father L. de Grandmaison points out: "In the regions where the Gospel penetrates intensively for the first time, it still encounters, as in ancient times, a sort of occult power, usurped but established, which, by its resistance and manifestations, perfectly recalls the convulsions of the evil spirits in the presence of Jesus. There is hardly a missionary in those countries who has not encountered it." (24)
Why does God permit these diabolical manifestations? St. Bonaventure answers: "It is either for the manifestation of His glory (by constraining the devil, by the mouth of the possessed person, to confess, for example, the divinity of Christ), or for the punishment of sin, or for the correction of the sinner, or for our instruction." (25)
In practice, possession should be admitted only on solid proofs or indications, and the spiritual director should secure the opinion of an experienced physician. St. Philip Neri, although he "thought that persons whom people believe to be possessed by the devil are, in the majority of cases, either sick, melancholy, or mad, nevertheless, judging a certain Catherine, a noble lady of Aversar, to be truly possessed, he freed her from this terrible evil." (26)
On temptation in general and its causes, we advise the reading of the excellent articles by Father Masson, O.P., which were published in La Vie spirituelle, from 1923 to 1926: I. "Temptation in general, its nature, universality, necessity" (1923, p. 108). II. "Its sources: the flesh (ibid., pp. 193, 333); the world (p. 42I); the devil (1924, p. 270; (the tempter, his work, p. 384, his mode of suggestion, by ruse, by violence, his stubbornness; the limits of his power; resistance to temptation)." III. "The processus of temptation" (1926, p. 493). IV. "End of the temptation on the part of the devil, on the part of God: why does God permit temptations? Justice and mercy" (1926, p. 644).
In dealing with obsessed persons, the director should be prudent and kind; he should not believe too readily in a true obsession; he should remind the penitent, first of all, how temptation must be resisted, pointing out that it is an occasion to acquire great merits by a salutary, firm, at times heroic reaction, and by the practice of humility. He should remind the penitent that the principal remedies are humble, trusting prayer, recourse to the Immaculate Virgin, to St. Michael, to the guardian angel, the trusting use of the sacraments and sacramentals, scorn of the devil, who may indeed bark, but who can bite only those who draw near him. The director should also remind his penitent that, if in the violence of temptation disorders are produced without any consent, there is no sin in them. In case of doubt, he will judge that there is no serious sin when the person concerned is habitually well disposed. If he sees that the obsession is part of the passive purification of the senses or of the spirit, he will give appropriate counsels, which we recalled earlier in the course of this study. (9)
Lastly, if diabolical obsession is morally certain or very probable, the priest may employ privately the exorcisms prescribed by the Roman Ritual or shortened forms. To avoid agitating the penitent or overexciting him, it is best, as a rule, not to inform him beforehand that one is going to pronounce over him the words of private exorcism; it is sufficient to tell him that one is going to recite over him a prayer approved by the Church.
Nothing like Thomistic training to make a teacher present clear ideas.
Commentary will be later in the day.
Obsession is a series of temptations that are more violent and prolonged than ordinary temptations. Rarely does the devil act only on the exterior senses; more frequently, through the imagination; he provokes lively impressions of the sensible appetites in order to trouble the soul. He may act on the sight by loathsome apparitions or, on the contrary, seductive apparitions; (4) on the hearing, by making a racket (5) or by making the person hear blasphemous or obscene words; (6) on the touch, by inflicting blows or by embraces of a nature to lead to evil.(7) There are cases in which these apparitions are not corporeal, but imaginary or produced, like hallucination, by nervous overexcitement.
The direct action of the devil on the imagination, memory, and passions, may produce obsessing images, which persist in spite of energetic efforts and which lead to anger, to very lively antipathies, or to dangerous affections, or again to discouragement accompanied by anguish. Those whom the enemy of good persecutes in this way feel at times that their imagination is as if bound by thick shadows, and that over their heart rests a weight which oppresses them. This powerlessness is entirely different from that proceeding from the divine action which, in bestowing infused contemplation, renders discursive meditation more or less impracticable. The enemy of God, in his jealous desire to imitate the divine action, seeks to cause the effect of God's action to deviate, in such a way that, in the passive purifications, the soul occasionally finds itself between the special action of God, which inclines it to a spiritual life more freed from the senses, and an inverse action, which in its way strikes it with powerlessness in order to cause the effect of the divine action to deviate and to throw the soul into utter confusion.
If the temptations of which we are speaking are sudden, violent, and persistent, and no illness explains them, a special influence of the devil may be seen in them.
Obsession may be so strong that it deserves the name of diabolical siege. Scaramelli says: "In the diabolical siege, the devil stays near the person whom he besieges as a captain does near a place which he surrounds closely with his troops. But he has no stable and permanent power over the body of the obsessed person (which occurs only in possession); and once the time of purification is ended, the devil himself raises the siege and goes off without exorcisms, without injunction." (8)
By what sign may one recognize that obsession is related to the passive purification of the senses? Obsession may be linked with the passive purification of the senses if the obsessed person works seriously at his perfection, in particular if he is humble, obedient, charitable, and if he has the three signs of the night of the senses indicated by St. John of the Cross. On the other hand, astute, very subtle persons may, for interested motives, seek to make themselves pass for victims of the devil, in such a way especially as to excuse excessively compromising exterior faults which they commit.