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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

From Today's Office, Two

From a sermon by Saint Augustine

If I wanted to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ

This is our glory: the witness of our conscience. There are men who rashly judge, who slander, whisper and murmur, who are eager to suspect what they do not see, and eager to spread abroad things they have not even a suspicion of. Against men of this sort, what defence is there save the witness of our own conscience?

My brothers, we do not seek, nor should we seek, our own glory even among those whose approval we desire. What we should seek is their salvation, so that if we walk as we should they will not go astray in following us. They should imitate us if we are imitators of Christ; and if we are not, they should still imitate him. He cares for his flock, and he alone is to be found with those who care for their flocks, because they are all in him.

And so we seek no advantage for ourselves when we aim to please men. We want to take our joy in men – and we rejoice when they take pleasure in what is good, not because this exalts us, but because it benefits them.

It is clear who is intended by the apostle Paul: If I wanted to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. And similarly when he says: Be pleasing to all men in all things, even as I in all things please all men. Yet his words are as clear as water, limpid, undisturbed, unclouded. And so you should, as sheep, feed on and drink of his message; do not trample on it or stir it up.

You have listened to our Lord Jesus Christ as he taught his apostles: Let your actions shine before men so that they may see your good deeds, and give glory to your Father who is in heaven, for it is the Father who made you thus. We are the people of his pasture, the sheep of his hands. If then you are good, praise is due to him who made you so; it is no credit to you, for if you were left to yourself, you could only be wicked. Why then do you try to pervert the truth, in wishing to be praised when you do good, and blaming God when you do evil? For though he said: Let your works shine before men, in the same Sermon on the Mount he also said: Do not parade your good deeds before men. So if you think there are contradictions in Saint Paul, you will find the same in the Gospels; but if you refrain from troubling the waters of your heart, you will recognise here the peace of the Scriptures and with it you will have peace.

And so, my brothers, our concern should be not only to live as we ought, but also to do so in the sight of men; not only to have a good conscience but also, so far as we can in our weakness, so far as we can govern our frailty, to do nothing which might lead our weak brother into thinking evil of us. Otherwise, as we feed on the good pasture and drink the pure water, we may trample on God’s meadow, and weaker sheep will have to feed on trampled grass and drink from troubled waters.

What Dies Can Come Alive Again After a Moral Winter

If the life of Christ teaches us anything, it is that we are all destined for the Resurrection of the Dead.

The Resurrection of Christ opened the door of Hell, which we call the Harrowing of Hell, and Christ led the faithful captives into glory. We affirm this in the Creed, "He descended into hell".

"Releasing the captives" as a theme resounds again and again in the psalms. We find this psalm in today's Office of Readings.

Psalm 9 Douay-Rheims 

Unto the end, for the hidden things of the Son. A psalm for David.
I will give praise to thee, O Lord, with my whole heart: I will relate all thy wonders.
I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing to thy name, O thou most high.
When my enemy shall be turned back: they shall be weakened and perish before thy face.
For thou hast maintained my judgment and my cause: thou hast sat on the throne, who judgest justice.
Thou hast rebuked the Gentiles, and the wicked one hath perished: thou hast blotted out their name for ever and ever.
The swords of the enemy have failed unto the end: and their cities thou hast destroyed. Their memory hath perished with a noise.
But the Lord remaineth for ever. He hath prepared his throne in judgment:
And he shall judge the world in equity, he shall judge the people in justice.
10 And the Lord is become a refuge for the poor: a helper in due time in tribulation.
11 And let them trust in thee who know thy name: for thou hast not forsaken them that seek thee, O Lord.
12 Sing ye to the Lord, who dwelleth in Sion: declare his ways among the Gentiles:
13 For requiring their blood he hath remembered the: he hath not forgotten the cry of the poor.
14 Have mercy on me, O Lord: see my humiliation which I suffer from my enemies.
15 Thou that liftest me up from the gates of death, that I may declare all thy praises in the gates of the daughter of Sion.
16 I will rejoice in thy salvation: the Gentiles have stuck fast in the destruction which they have prepared. Their foot hath been taken in the very snare which they hid.
17 The Lord shall be known when he executeth judgments: the sinner hath been caught in the works of his own hands.
18 The wicked shall be turned into hell, all the nations that forget God.
19 For the poor man shall not be forgotten to the end: the patience of the poor shall not perish for ever.
20 Arise, O Lord, let not man be strengthened: let the Gentiles be judged in thy sight.
21 Appoint, O Lord, a lawgiver over them: that the Gentiles may know themselves to be but men.
22 Why, O Lord, hast thou retired afar off? why dost thou slight us in our wants, in the time of trouble?
23 Whilst the wicked man is proud, the poor is set on fire: they are caught in the counsels which they devise.
24 For the sinner is praised in the desires of his soul: and the unjust man is blessed.
25 The sinner hath provoked the Lord according to the multitude of his wrath he will not seek him:
26 God is not before his eyes: his ways are filthy at all times. Thy judgments are removed from his sight: he shall rule over all his enemies.
27 For he hath said in his heart: I shall not be moved from generation to generation, and shall be without evil.
28 His mouth is full of cursing, and of bitterness, and of deceit: under his tongue are labour and sorrow.
29 He sitteth in ambush with the rich in private places, that he may kill the innocent.
30 His eyes are upon the poor man: He lieth in wait in secret like a lion in his den. He lieth in ambush that he may catch the poor man: to catch the poor, whilst he draweth him to him.
31 In his net he will bring him down, he will crouch and fall, when he shall have power over the poor.
32 For he hath said in his heart: God hath forgotten, he hath turned away his face not to see to the end.
33 Arise, O Lord God, let thy hand be exalted: forget not the poor.
34 Wherefore hath the wicked provoked God? for he hath said in his heart: He will not require it.
35 Thou seest it, for thou considerest labour and sorrow: that thou mayst deliver them into thy hands. To thee is the poor man left: thou wilt be a helper to the orphan.
36 Break thou the arm of the sinner and of the malignant: his sin shall be sought, and shall not be found.
37 The Lord shall reign to eternity, yea, for ever and ever: ye Gentiles shall perish from his land.
38 The Lord hath heard the desire of the poor: thy ear hath heard the preparation of their heart.
39 To judge for the fatherless and for the humble, that man may no more presume to magnify himself upon earth.

A human being's greatest fear may be to be subjected to slavery and death. We all face these possibilities, and for those of us who were held captive by sin, and were freed from eternal death, we are grateful forever for God's graces.
At this time of great sadness in America, we must keep our eyes on the truth that the Resurrected Christ will come again into our lives--into each one's life at the particular judgement, and at the end of time, when He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
In the meantime, we have two jobs to do: first, to cooperate with grace in order to save our own souls' second, to save the souls of others around us. I pray daily for dead souls. This is part of my vocation as a contemplative in the world. I have a list of dead souls I hold up to Our Lady and God daily.
I pray for my own soul, never forgetting that the grace of final perseverance is a grace, indeed, not to be assumed.
Another psalm from today's Office speaks to how many of us feel today. Where are the saints? Where are those who love God first?
In a few minutes, I shall be off to daily Mass, which today is followed by a rosary and adoration. Only a few, four old ladies, in fact, stay for the rosary, Fewer stay for adoration. Christ in the midst of the city, as this church lies smack-dab in the downtown, is ignored. 
He is the Hidden God and few want to find Him. Where are the saints?
Yet, what dies can come alive again, with prayer, fasting, penance.
I live in penance daily, I have chosen this way, but first, God chose this way for me. The way of penance brings great joy. Sitting in this storage room cum bed, I find the Hidden God, Who gave His life for us so that we may live. 
Pray for the dead souls of those who are celebrating sin. Pray for the confused dead souls. Pray for me, as we all head into a moral winter. But, no life will come without suffering, penance, prayer. 
This is my job directly, and yours, perhaps directly, but indirectly as well. Do not waste grace in this moral winter to come.

Psalm 11 Douay-Rheims 

11 Unto the end; for the octave, a psalm for David.
Save me, O Lord, for there is now no saint: truths are decayed from among the children of men.
They have spoken vain things every one to his neighbour: with deceitful lips, and with a double heart have they spoken.
May the Lord destroy all deceitful lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things.
Who have said: We will magnify our tongue; our lips are our own; who is Lord over us?
By reason of the misery of the needy, and the groans of the poor, now will I arise, saith the Lord. I win set him in safety; I will deal confidently in his regard.
The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried by the fire, purged from the earth refined seven times.
Thou, O Lord, wilt preserve us: and keep us from this generation for ever.
The wicked walk round about: according to thy highness, thou hast multiplied the children of men.

From St. Alphonsus

"I again repeat what Father Balthasar Alvarez use to say, that a soul out of prayer is like a fish out of water."

from The True Spouse of Jesus Christ

From A Hermit

“The fraternal life, understood as a life shared in love, is an eloquent sign of ecclesial communion. It is practiced with special care in Religious Institutes and in Societies of Apostolic Life, where community living acquires special significance. Nor is the dimension of fraternal communion alien...even to forms of the consecrated life lived individually. Hermits, in their profound solitude, do not withdraw from ecclesial communion but serve that communion by their specific charism of contemplation." ~Pope St. John Paul II, Vita Consecrata, #42.

Is it not our fault that we have not prayed enough and done enough penance up to this point in history? Why are pray-ers not valued in our now sad society? Without prayer, those who act go into battle without backup, without ammo.

Sermon by St. Alphonsus on the Abuse of Mercy, Part Two

Continuation from yesterday from St. Alphonsus Sermon on the Abuse of Divine Mercy

my comments in blue

By this sermon he has today given you a new call. He appears to me to say to you: "What is there that I ought to do to my vineyard, that I have not done to it (Isa. v. 4)?" What more ought I to do for you that I have not done? What do you say? What answer have you to make? Will you give yourselves to God, or will you continue to offend Him?

Modern Catholics as well as the secular society have a blind spot regarding the justice of God. 

Consider, says St. Augustine, that the punishment of your sins has been deferred, not remitted; "unfruitful tree! the axe has been deferred. Be not secure: you shall be cut off." If you abuse the divine mercy, you shall be cut off; vengeance shall soon fall upon you. What do you wait for? Do you wait till God sends you to hell? The Lord has been hitherto silent; but He is not silent forever. When the time of vengeance shall arrive He will say: "These things hast thou done, and I was silent. Thou thoughtest unjustly that I should be like to thee: but I will reprove thee, and set before thy face (Ps. xlix. 21)." He will set before your eyes the graces which he bestowed upon you, and which you have despised: these very graces shall judge and condemn you. 

We need to be mourning for our own sins. Our own failures to pray and do penance.

Brethren, resist no longer the calls of God; tremble lest the call which He gives you today may be the last call for you. Go to confession as soon as possible, and make a firm resolution to change your lives. It is useless to confess your sins, if you afterwards return to your former vices. 

But you will perhaps say, that you have not strength to resist the temptations by which you are assailed. Listen to the words of the Apostle: "God is faithful, Who will not permit you to be tempted above that which you are able (1 Cor. x. 13)." God is faithful: He will not permit you to be tempted above your strength. And if of yourself you have not strength to overcome the devil, ask it from God, and He will give it to you. "Ask, and you shall receive (John xvi. 24)." "Praising," said David, "I will call on the Lord, and I shall be saved from my enemies (Ps. xvii. 4)." And St. Paul said: "I can do all things in Him Who strengthened me (Phil. iv. 13)." Of myself I can do nothing; but with the divine assistance I can do all things. Recommend yourselves to God in all temptations, and God will enable you to resist them, and you shall not fall. 

Again, please join me in a day of prayer and fasting on July 4th.