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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The Last Post on Trusting vs.Triumphalism IV

Humility and the ability to be objective rather than subjective, form the pillars of trusting in Divine Providence, and avoiding a triumphalist position.-

Again, one can turn to Garrigou-Lagrange for insights into this dynamic.

The great Dominican notes that one cannot replace hope with presumption.

If there is one thing that is dependent on Providence, it is the hour of our death." Be ye also ready, " says our Lord, "for at what hour you think not the Son of man will come" (Luke 12: 40). The same is true of the manner of our death and the circumstances surrounding it. It is all completely unknown to us; it rests upon Providence, in which we must put all our trust, while preparing ourselves to die well by a better life.

Looked at from the point of view of divine justice, what a vast difference there is between the death of the just and that of the sinner! In the Apocalypse (20: 6, 14) the death of the sinner is called a "second death, " for he is already spiritually dead to the life of grace, and if the soul departs from the body in this condition it will be deprived of that supernatural life forever. May God preserve us from that second death. The unrepentant sinner, says St. Catherine, [140] is about to die in his injustice, and appear before the supreme Judge with the light of faith extinguished in him, which he received burning in holy baptism (but which he has blown out with the wind of pride) and with the vanity of his heart, with which he sets his sails unfurled to all the winds of flattery. Thus did he hasten down the stream of the delights and dignities of the world at his own will, giving in to the seductions of his weak flesh and the temptations of the devil.

We cannot be sure of our own salvation, which is why we pray in the Hail Mary daily for the gift of final perseverance.  This is a special grace, not the same graces as we receive daily. Too many people have a foot in two camps-one, the camp of wanting status and comfort; and two, the camp of God's Will.

Only when one is firmly planted in the Will of God through humility and trust can one begin to grow. In the long perfection series, over and over, I have pointed to the fact that one cannot grow in holiness if one is not orthodox, believing in the doctrines of the Church.

Recently, the great heresies of relativism, (people stating that all religions are the same and will get one to heaven), and universalism, (that all people go to heaven, and no one goes to hell), have been reiterated to me by Catholic church-going people.

Garrigou-Lagrange appeals to St. Catherine of Siena:

If the sinner will only disburden his conscience by a sincere confession, making acts of faith, of confidence in God, and contrition, at the last moment the divine mercy will enter in to temper justice and will save him. By reason of God's mercy every man may cling to hope at death if he so wills, if he offers no resistance. Remorse will then give place to repentance.

Otherwise the soul succumbs to remorse and abandons itself to despair, a sin far more heinous than any of the preceding, as in that neither infirmity nor the allurements of sensuality can excuse, a sin by which the sinner esteems his wickedness as outweighing God's divine mercy. And once in this despair, the soul no longer grieves over sin as an offense against God, it grieves only over its own miserable condition, a grief very different from that which characterizes attrition or contrition.

Blessed is the sinner who like the good thief then repents, reflecting that, as St. Catherine says, [142] "the divine mercy is greater without comparison than all the sins which any creature can commit."
Happier still is the just soul that throughout life has given due thought to the loving fulfilment of duty and, after the merits won and the struggle sustained here on earth, yearns for death in order to enjoy the vision of God, even as St. Paul desired "to be dissolved and to be with Christ" (Phil. 1: 23).

Being honest with one's self, states St. Augustine, is the key to holiness. St. Teresa of Avila repeats this call to know one's self, one's sins. This knowledge will keep us from triumphalism.

Let me end with these words of Garrigou-Lagrange and St. Catherine of Siena.

As a rule a great peace fills the soul of the just in their last agony, a peace the more profound the greater their perfection; and this is often most true of those who during life have had the greatest dread of the divine justice. For them death is peaceful because their enemies have been vanquished during life. [143] Sensuality has been reduced to subjection under the curb of reason. Virtue triumphs over nature, overcoming the natural fear of death through the longing to attain their final end, the sovereign good. Being conformed to justice during life, conscience continues tranquil, though the devil seeks to trouble and alarm it.

At that moment, it is true, the value of this present time of trial, which is the price of virtue, will be more clearly seen, and the just soul will reproach itself for not having made better use of its time. But the sorrow it then experiences will not overwhelm it; it will be profitable in inducing the soul to recollect itself and place itself in the presence of the precious blood of our Savior, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. In the passage from time to eternity there is thus an admirable blending of God's mercy and justice. In his dying moments the just man anticipates the bliss prepared for him; he has a foretaste of his destiny which may sometimes be seen reflected in his countenance.