Saturday, 14 March 2015
An acquaintance of mine, a man my age,is in critical condition in the hospital with complications of an operation. It is unlikely that he will live. He is a good Protestant and we have discussed Christ and the times in which we live. He did not expect, when he went in to the hospital, to be facing death.
Please pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet for him. Just use the phrase, "STM's person in hospital" as I do not want to share names.
Now, the salutary lesson is this. This person spent a great deal of time, energy and money chasing prophecies of the end times. He went to conferences and bought books on this subject, spent time on YouTube watching videos of his favorite Protestants who preach.
He did not pursue an interior disposition of quietude or contemplation. Now, in the land of the dying, he will see what is the one thing necessary for life--the pursuit of Christ in our daily lives, in us--and, like Catholics who pursue apparitions, that such knowledge does not save us.
Knowledge of things to come can be prophecies to make our daily prayer life more intense and urgent. But, none of us become holy by knowing the latest prophecy or the latest apparitions. None of us become holy following messages from Mary from unapproved visions, or worse, from condemned visionaries.
I know too many good people, who follow the Ten Commandments, but do not go "higher up and higher in." It we are not orthodox, we have a very small chance of salvation. One starts with the basics, believing in the Trinity, the Eucharist, and so on. Maybe if he had gone into Scripture more deeply instead of pursuing end-time prophecies and puzzles, he would have become a Catholic and received Christ in the Eucharist.
God has called us all to become holy, to become perfect, in order to build the Church on earth and to be one with Him. Only the perfect see God which means most good people if they are saved, go to purgatory, a terrible place of punishment, loss, pain, regret and mortification.
Heaven is not assured to all, but to those who love God with their whole heart, soul, mind, body...There are not many ways to God, only one way.
Pray for my Protestant acquaintance.
Long ago in the perfection series, and in the posts on St. Bernard, I referred to the sin of accidie. Here is the long definition. It is not what people think it is, simple sloth. It is becoming distracted with useless things so that we are taken away from prayer, meditation and contemplation.
Discussing this with a seminarian today, I was struck with the idea that the noon-day devil is not merely low-blood sugar or high-blood sugar before or after lunch, but a demon who distracts us from times of prayer we even schedule.
St. Philip Neri preached that the afternoon in Rome was "the dangerous part of the day", when youth fell into mortal sins of fornication and even gang fighting. ακηδία sets in.
Looking at Psalm 90, one has to reckon with the pleasures of falling into sin and fight these. The noon-day devil is not poetry, but a real demon.
Here is the psalm.
Akedia (in Latin, accidie) is literally fatigue or exhaustion, but in technical usage refers to the spiritual and physical lethargy which can plague those pursuing the eremetic life. The reference in Psalm 90 (91 MT) to the "demon of noonday" is traditionally identified as akedia. It can take the form of listlessness, dispersion of thoughts, or being inattentively immersed in useless activity.
St.Thomas Aquinas calls it world-weariness, which causes a person to neglect both their physical and spiritual duties. This habit of thinking and feeling is a hard sinful habit to break, but one must do so.
One way to break the habit of negative and depressive thoughts it to constantly praise God all day.
The Office of the Hours is a perfect way to break this habit.
Also, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, to be said at 3:00, is another way to break accidie.
Listlessness can also be expressed in restlessness, like someone feeling like they "just have to get out" and go shopping.
Accidie may be seen in the need to watch television as well. One breaks a habit of vice by practicing the opposite virtue.
God will allow temptation for us to undo sins in our lives and break habits of sin. A priest told me this and it is a simple and good truth.
The body adjusts itself to the operations of the soul, and chemically a body readjusts to new stimuli of turning against the sin.
We actually have to turn away from sin physically, emotionally, and spiritually. As humans, we are body and soul, so we are tempted in both for most sins. There are triggers and to break habits of giving in to triggers, God gives us temptations to make "our inner person strong". We can be addicted to certain sins, even thinking negative thoughts. God can change this is we allow Him to enter into the memory, understanding and will.
Demons affect the cogitative powers.
When we decide or judge on something, we create a habit if we keep doing something...this is what St. Thomas calls the "intellective memory" in the positive intellect. This process works on those powers in the inward man, referred to in St. Paul's epistle as being made strong in grace. The sensitive memory is in the imagination.
Thank God for priests who have studied Thomas Aquinas. They are few and far between.
The main reason why Aquinas is so important to us even today, is that Aquinas demonstrates the reasonableness of faith. Both reason and faith are gifts. And through these gifts, all man can find freedom from sin and eternal death.
One of my favorite phrases is this one below, "..faith builds upon and perfects reason." One can say the opposite, that if that reason is not perfected, it is because one's faith is faulty, incomplete.
In an age when Christian thinkers were rediscovering the treasures of ancient philosophy, and more particularly of Aristotle, Thomas had the great merit of giving pride of place to the harmony which exists between faith and reason. Both the light of reason and the light of faith come from God, he argued; hence there can be no contradiction between them.44
More radically, Thomas recognized that nature, philosophy's proper concern, could contribute to the understanding of divine Revelation. Faith therefore has no fear of reason, but seeks it out and has trust in it. Just as grace builds on nature and brings it to fulfilment,45 so faith builds upon and perfects reason. Illumined by faith, reason is set free from the fragility and limitations deriving from the disobedience of sin and finds the strength required to rise to the knowledge of the Triune God. Although he made much of the supernatural character of faith, the Angelic Doctor did not overlook the importance of its reasonableness; indeed he was able to plumb the depths and explain the meaning of this reasonableness. Faith is in a sense an “exercise of thought”; and human reason is neither annulled nor debased in assenting to the contents of faith, which are in any case attained by way of free and informed choice.46
Aquinas "reconciled" the secularity of the world, specifically the world of philosophy and the radical Gospel.
This is why the Church has been justified in consistently proposing Saint Thomas as a master of thought and a model of the right way to do theology. In this connection, I would recall what my Predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI, wrote on the occasion of the seventh centenary of the death of the Angelic Doctor: “Without doubt, Thomas possessed supremely the courage of the truth, a freedom of spirit in confronting new problems, the intellectual honesty of those who allow Christianity to be contaminated neither by secular philosophy nor by a prejudiced rejection of it. He passed therefore into the history of Christian thought as a pioneer of the new path of philosophy and universal culture. The key point and almost the kernel of the solution which, with all the brilliance of his prophetic intuition, he gave to the new encounter of faith and reason was a reconciliation between the secularity of the world and the radicality of the Gospel, thus avoiding the unnatural tendency to negate the world and its values while at the same time keeping faith with the supreme and inexorable demands of the supernatural order”.47
Wisdom is the gift of the Holy Spirit. This gift, which is given in to Catholics in Confirmation, opens the door to more and more knowledge, as well as piety. Prudence, temperance, justice and courage flow from the soul of wisdom. But, as noted below, wisdom is also acquired, and thus, is missing in so many prelates. This other wisdom comes from study and reflection, as well as meditation and contemplation.
Other "wisdoms" follow-philosophical wisdom coming out of Reality, and theological wisdom, coming from Revelation and earned through grace and work. So many of our leaders in the Church lack these "wisdoms".
44. Another of the great insights of Saint Thomas was his perception of the role of the Holy Spirit in the process by which knowledge matures into wisdom. From the first pages of his Summa Theologiae,48 Aquinas was keen to show the primacy of the wisdom which is the gift of the Holy Spirit and which opens the way to a knowledge of divine realities. His theology allows us to understand what is distinctive of wisdom in its close link with faith and knowledge of the divine. This wisdom comes to know by way of connaturality; it presupposes faith and eventually formulates its right judgement on the basis of the truth of faith itself: “The wisdom named among the gifts of the Holy Spirit is distinct from the wisdom found among the intellectual virtues. This second wisdom is acquired through study, but the first 'comes from on high', as Saint James puts it. This also distinguishes it from faith, since faith accepts divine truth as it is. But the gift of wisdom enables judgement according to divine truth”.49
Yet the priority accorded this wisdom does not lead the Angelic Doctor to overlook the presence of two other complementary forms of wisdom—philosophical wisdom, which is based upon the capacity of the intellect, for all its natural limitations, to explore reality, and theological wisdom, which is based upon Revelation and which explores the contents of faith, entering the very mystery of God.
To ignore the intellectual virtues is to stop the process of purgation and perfection. A Catholic adult must pursue the intellectual virtues. (See my posts on the virtues). Too many Catholics stay in the realm of the emotions, and never earn merit or grow in holiness.
to be continued...