Part One was on the blog yesterday.
Nothing comes easily in the spiritual life. Those who think that the saints, because of an excess of grace experienced little suffering need only read the great autobiographies of the holiest who have gone before us.
For the past week, I have shared a few of Father Alphonsus Rodriguez thoughts and counsels on the virtue of humility. My decision for highlighting this virtue must be seen in the context of four things: one's salvation; perfection; the times in which we live; and the coming synod.
Not only must we acquire, through practice and diligence the virtue of humility through prayer and practice for the sake of becoming perfect, on order to be with God after death, but to actually acquire the merits needed for salvation. The acceptance of humiliating situations involves not only the purification of the senses and the spirit, but the very call to salvation. To become meek and humble forms the basis of the Christian life, but these virtues remain misunderstood.
Meekness may mean speaking the truth to family members about sin. Humility may mean removing one's self from family gatherings which cause sins, such as gluttony or drunkenness, or gossip. But, humility may also mean standing up firmly for the beliefs of the Catholic Church, which are the truths taught in the Catholic Church.
Yesterday, a protestantized Catholic gave me an almost hateful tirade about the wealth of the Church in Europe. I tried to steer the conversation to the fact that great cathedrals and basilicas did not necessary mean worldly wealth, but the person could not understand latria, worship including beauty, which is due to God. The person could not understand why the Vatican did not support seminarians in America and why Americans had to pay for the training of their own priests. I tried to explain that this had always been done on the local level, and that vocations come out of parishes and dioceses which support vocations.
His problem was a lack of humility regarding the Church. Why? If one is humble enough to admit that the duty of supporting vocations is local, and that if it is not happening there are sins at the local level which stop vocations from flourishing, one is not looking at personal sin or the sins of the community.
To think, first of all, that the Church is rich, reveals a rebellious protestant iconoclasm. The European Catholic Church, except in Germany, where there exists the church tax, is extremely poor.
But, pride always points to the sins of others instead of to one's own sins. I could not convince this man that the lack of vocations was due to bad parenting, contraception, and, yes, miserliness towards the Church, not the lack of financial support from Rome. His pride blocked his ability to think clearly. I could not impress upon him the need for looking at local problems in the Church.
Humility gives one self-knowledge. People are beginning to panic about the lack of vocations, and things will get worse when priests are fined and jailed for not performing so called gay marriages, but until the laity take responsibility for the crisis of vocations, nothing will change.
I use this example for two reasons-one to show the falseness of the American and liberal Catholic mindset that is one throws money at a problem, that problem will disappear; again, exterior change is not interior conversion. And, two, to indicate that too many Catholics see the crises in the Church as someone else problem, not theirs. These attitudes reflect a serious lack of humility and meekness, which would cause a person to first look at their own sins, and completely disregard the sins of others.
This is the problem I have with some commentators on line. To keep looking at the evils of such and such a cardinal or priest will not change the crises in the Church. This brings me to the third point of the times in which we live. Unless we practice humility to the point of being joyful under duress and painful circumstances, the Church in certain areas will disappear.
For years, I have predicted swaths of land in the US without dioceses, bishops, priests, Masses. Once priests are fined and dioceses will have to sell schools, churches, land, and as soon as some bishops and priests are placed in jail, there will be no sacraments.
How does one remain in sanctifying grace without the sacraments?
Imagine not being able to get to confession but once a year. Imagine having Mass only three or four times a year. Imagine not being able to get married as there are no priests. Imagine not being able to have public rosaries, Adoration, processions, even Catholic art in your community. Imagine the stress of having to avoid mortal sin and working on venial sin without holy books or holy priests, or confessors.
Imagine not having the Last Rites, or Masses said for your soul in purgatory.
This is coming.
The only virtue which will help us all get through these times until God calls us home is humility.
To pray daily, to avoid temptation, to work on venial sins, to allow God to perfect one must happen NOW.
Do not pass up any opportunities to go to daily Mass.
I have lived for almost four months without daily Mass. In this time, it is the merits of the four months before of going to daily Mass which has sustained me. Imagine not having the Mass for six or eight months.
This has all happened before in Mexico, in England, in Spain, in the Middle East, in Africa.
It will happen here.
At this time in history, God needs the Church Militant to be full of saints committed to humility.
Moving on to the last point, on the Synod, all the problems we see there relate to a lack of humiity, not only among the clerics who push to change the Church's long teaching, which comes from Christ, on marriage, but from those proud laity who do not want to admit they are living in sin.
Self-knowledge brings the humility to say, “I cannot receive Christ because I am in sin. I need to change.”
The greatest evil in the world at this time is the tolerance of great sins-adultery, sodomy and greed. Until the laity in all humility beg God for His forgiveness in the toleration of these evils, in ourselves, in our families, in others, the tribulation will become worse for the members of the remnant who have humble themselves before God, and live in fear and trembling for their particular judgment.
The pride of prelates who see the Church as a numbers game, to gain money in certain countries, also reveals a lack of humility. The desire for money, and the comforts which money brings, kills humility.
People ask me, as a pre-Vatican II person who remembers well the daily Tridentine life and the Catholic ethnic cultures which supported the Church what the biggest difference was in those days to now.
The answer is simple. People were more humble, because they were poorer. People relied on God, and lived lives of simple contentment with much, much less material goods than now.
Consumerism killed the soul of America, leading to the abortion law, and now the enshrining of unnatural sex and lust into law.
Only a humble Church, which cries out to God for mercy and forgiveness for the sins of the nation will survive the coming persecution.
Christ promised that His Church will last until He comes again, but maybe, not in Springfield, not in Illinois, not in the Midwest, not east of the Mississippi, not in America.
The great Jesuit saints traveled to lands where they were seen an enemies of the state, such as China, Japan, or even the native America nations. They were hated, but what kept them true to their call and the Gospel was humility.
We need, in this time, a renewal of the Jesuit Order. We need the type of men who came to the north woods of New York, to Paraguay, to Japan, to England, knowing they would be martyred after much torture.
We need to adopt this attitude of facing the worst pain with equanimity in order to spread the Gospel of Christ.
I think people have two choices at this time-to join a monastic community and adopt Benedictine spirituality as I noted in a post several weeks ago, or to become Jesuit in spirituality, daily working on perfection and learning to live in courage with humility.
These two rules of life were created for times of persecution. One rule demands perfection among communities separate from the world, communities praying for the world. The other demands perfection in the world, in the midst of the worst anti-Catholicism possible.
Pray for a Jesuit heart. Some are called to be in the world and fight the good fight by converting others despite great persecution. I challenge parents to raise children according to the Jesuit method of education, noted on this blog, and in the daily Examen.
Raise saints, Parents.
Become saints, Single People
But all to all of us, I say that the only way forward is through the living out of the virtue of humility.
Starting Sunday, a new theme.