Welcome to the new world of Sodom and Gomorrah. Never before have the sins of abortion and ssm been made into laws. Even the Greeks and Romans, known for pederasty and using boys in the army as substitutes for prostitutes, as women were thought to weaken men's ability to fight, even those nations did not make homosexual sin law.
At this time in history, we are witnessing the worst evils ever committed by governments. Those of us who know the history of Western and Eastern Civilization, know that the four sins which cry out to God for vengeance were never enshrined in law. Never. So, how does the Catholic react? Become holy, very holy and prepare for martyrdom, as you most likely will face it in one way or another, having to face the arrogance of evil.
Now, we see the arrogance of humans living and making laws outside of both natural law and revealed law.
The only thing which can counteract these growing legal evils is prayer from the humble. One reason why I am emphasizing humility is that this virtue must be learned now in order to combat this legal arrogance, and in order to follow God in horribly difficult times.
Today, on the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, I shall quote Fr. Rodriquez on her struggle for the balance between trusting in Providence and the sin of presumption. Here is a section from his text, in Volume II:
“For when, to discourage her, he (the devil) endeavored to make her believe that all her life had been only a deception, she too courage at the consideration of the mercy of God, and expressed herself thus: 'I confess, O my Creator, that a my life has been nothing but darkness, but I will hide myself in the wounds of Jesus crucified; and I will bathed myself in his blood, which will wash off all my sins; and I will rejoice in my Creator and my God'” “Thou shalt wash me , O Lord, and I shall become whiter than snow.” (Ps.i.9) On the other hand, if the devil by a contrary temptation tried to puff her up with pride, by representing to her that she was already perfect, and that she had no further need to bewail her sins, or to be afflicted; she most profoundly humbled herself, and thus reasoned with herself:'What! Unhappy creature that I am!--St. John the Baptist never sinned, he nevertheless failed not to do severe penance; what must I do, who have committed so many sins and never acknowledged and bewailed them as I ought?
The devil, continues Rodriguez, would end up leaving her, as he could not make her sin either in despair or in pride. Once the devil knows he cannot win this game of under-confidence or over-confidence, he must stop these types of attacks.
Now, why am I writing so much on humility now? Martyrs, either green or red, are not made in a day. The rode to martyrdom follows a plan created by God, one which involves the acceptance of suffering without complaint.
Americans and the English have become masters of complaint. Americans have high expectation, or just expectations, and the English seem to like to complain. I once heard four people in England at coffee after Mass sharing tales of their holidays in Teneriffe, the Canary Islands and other exotic places, but the entire conversation involved constant complaining. I had to get up and leave the table because the negativity was so embedded in their characters that I could not change the subject or interject some positive comments. The habit of complaining reflects a serious lack of humility. Even little exasperation during the days, which cause one to say something small or just sigh reveal a lack of humility. With humility comes patience. And patience brings courage.
One recalls St. Thomas More's comment on seeing the great Carthusian martyrs from the Charterhouse going off to their horrible deaths of being dragged on wooden sledges through the dirty streets of London, to being drawn and quartered, singing like men on their way to a wedding. St. Thomas noted that if he had been on his knees more, praying and doing mortification, instead of enjoying the comforts of Court, he would have been more ready for martyrdom.
Do you, dear Readers, think that you will all of the sudden become holy enough to withstand pain and not fall into despair or pride when facing ridicule, the loss of all income, complete marginalization in our societies, and then imprisonment with humility and equanimity when you are not preparing yourselves now?
Rarely are there, but there are a few, “last minute martyrs”, such as the one centurion who made up the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, when one left the ice and perished in a warm bath, leaving God for a short comfort. We are not called to be that fortieth martyr, but one of the thirty-nine, who stripped and laid on the ice in pain until they died. Because God chastens me, I eat less meat than most people and eat only two meals a day because of poverty. I own practically nothing, and God decides my mortification, mostly. So, I am blessed by Him Who knows how weak I am.
What are you willing to give up now, in the name of Christ, for mortification and for the saving of souls? I have given up desserts, wine, beer and cordials of all kinds. I have given up careers and status. I have given up chocolate, and eating snacks between meals.
This is all preparation for dying, as dying to self allow one to grow in freedom. Many Catholics will be lost in the coming weeks, months and years. Ask God to show you the least imperfections in your souls, minds, imaginations, wills. Fr. Rodriguez, like Garrigou-Lagrange is aware of that predominant fault which keeps us from perfection.
What will happen when your bishop and the majority of priests in your diocese apostatize, either over ssm or giving Communion to those in adultery? What will you do? Will you conform with the majority, or stand firm in the knowledge of God's Will as found in natural and revealed laws?
The truth is that self-knowledge, states Father Rodriguez, brings courage. Many sins come from the pit of fear, which too many people carry around. A small example: I set up this chapel after all the people who were supposed to come through the house for repairs, surveys, and such had done their jobs. Except for the termite inspector, I thought I was free of visitors for a month until I leave, now three weeks.
Today, I was told that two more repairmen are coming in. I know one is a low-church protestant, as low-church as one can get and still be Christian, and he will be offended by the icons. I thought for a minute about taking these and the two remaining statues out of the room, but I heard a strong voice say, “This is a test. If you are ashamed of Me here, what will you do when a real trial comes to you? ” Obviously, Christ does not care about offending others who have left the path of truth. We have the one, true religion and can be strong in our defense of even icons and statues. The Church teaches the truth in wholeness, not in parts, and we cannot choose what to dispose of and what not to. God ordains dulia.
A small test, when most people would be concerned about being offensive, God is telling me clearly not to worry about that, but to be strong in the Truth of the beauty of Catholic worship, of dulia as well as latria. The chapel stays put until I leave in three weeks.
Where does this courage come from in my heart? From being no one, nothing, for being a weak vessel, a frail person of Faith. As Father Rodriguez writes, to look at our weakness is actually inverted pride, as one must keep one's eyes on Christ.
If we look at Christ, we have courage in His grace, not our own strength. Rodriguez quotes Psalms 22, 26 and 27, among others, for the proper perspective.
Because of the intensity of pain I am experiencing, plus the other difficulties, I trust that God will have compassion on me in my weaknesses. Indeed, Fr. Rodriguez stresses that the more we admit our frailties, the more God has mercy on us.
He notes that if we are saying, “Why have I not such and such a thing? Why am I treated so ill?” that these questions reveal that one is lacking in self-knowledge. Years ago, a spiritual director told me to stop asking “why” questions, that these were a complete waste of time. I did stop. Now, I say, “God show me my sins, even the hidden sins, so that I can love you more and more.”
And, here is the key to courage, which comes from self-knowledge. Let me use Rodriguez' own words.
“For if you had but humility, and knew well the deceitfulness of your own heart,you would not be uneasy or lose courage. But, on the contrary, you would wonder that there happens no worse to you, and that you fall not oftener.; and you would not cease praising and blessing God who upholds you with his hand, and saves you from the disorders you would infallibly fall into without him.”
St. Francis Borgia, a favorite of Fr. Rodriguez, noted to a wealthy friend who knew him when he was wealthy and comfortable, that he needed to take more care of himself. Francis answered that he had a harbinger who went before him to take care of all his needs. His friend asked him who this was. The saints answered that it was the knowledge of himself, and the thought of the pains of hell, so that whatever place he found himself in, including bad lodgings, he knew he was being treated better than he deserved.
This is not poetry or merely edifying stories from the life of a saint, but a reality for all of us.
One more story from Fr. Rodriguez for today—a holy Dominican told St. Margaret that he had begged the ancient Desert Fathers to show him how they became so holy. One night, in a dream, he saw a book with golden letters and a voice told him to “arise, and read”. He rose immediately and read these words. “The perfection of the ancient fathers consisted in loving God, in despising themselves and in neither judging or contemning any body”. Then, the vision disappeared.
It is hard not to judge, but when one sees one's own horrid sins, one stops judging others. It is hard to despise one's self, but when one sees one's sins and the enormity of the insult these give to God, one can hate one's self. It is hard to love God, but ask Him for this love, and He will give it to you.
Recently, God told me I would be punished for a sin which was hidden, but came to light. I did not want to look at this sin, nor consider punishment. But, today, when I could hardly walk or dress, and when I could not bend over to pick something which had fallen on the floor, or I could not finish ironing because of pain, I knew that God had chosen a punishment which would mean I cannot function daily as I would wish to do. I am grateful for this punishment, as it is better than purgatory. I can actually thank God for the pain in three-quarters of my back and for the inconvenience of not being able to bend over. I am weak, but He is strong. Two big prayers were answered today, concerning some things, and a small one. This answering of prayers on a day when I could hardly function is not an accident. God is showing me that He is in control, not me, that He is taking care of me in the way that He decides. My will no longer belongs to me, but to Him.
We are all in boot camp, but the war is about the start. Cooperate with suffering. Beg for those graces so that you can learn to be humble. Learn to rely completely on God, on Divine Providence, even to death. That is our call in this generation.