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Sunday, 22 July 2012

Perfection Series: Our Predominant Fault Two

Newark Cathedral in England has some amazing stained glass. The Seven Deadly Sins plus one, show that the Medievals were being taught what we moderns have forgotten--that sin binds us to Satan and death.

Garrigou-Lagrange states that "it is of primary importance that we recognize our predominant fault and have no illusions about it. This is is so much the more necessary as our adversary, the enemy of our soul, knows it quite well and makes use of it to stir up trouble in and about us. In the citadel of our interior life, which is defended by the different virtues, the predominant fault is the weak spot, undefended by the theological and moral virtues." On this picture, Envy and Pride are depicted. Most of the characters have chains.

Many times we forget who is out to claim us for hell.

Lust and Sloth (who has beads) point to the need for deep, persistent prayer, as do all the other Deadly Sins. Garrigou-Lagrange writes that we must ask God, seek Him, for enlightenment as to one's predominant fault. We must ask him to remove the fault, help us to cooperate with Him is purification. We must be serious about our personal daily examinations of conscience.

What is really tricky is that the fault may seem like a virtue.

He gives us these questions to ask ourselves: "Toward what do my most ordinary preoccupations tend, in the morning when I awake, or when I am alone? Where do my thoughts and desires go spontaneously?"

For the sake of our souls, we must be brutally honest with ourselves.

Here is a great question from the Dominican: "What is generally the cause or source of my sadness and joy? What is the general motive of my action, the ordinary origin of my sins...a succession of sins or a state of resistance to grace, notably when this resistance persists for several days and leads me to omit my exercises of piety?" On the right, we see Violence and Gluttony. I would think that Gluttony is one of the most prevalent of the Deadly Sins in the West. That Violence is obvious in certain countries indicates certain people have this fundamental, predominant sin.

If we deny something which someone else points out, it is probably our dominant fault fighting to remain hidden to our consciousness. We need grace. We need God.

Satan watches us. He hears us speak. He knows our predominant fault and uses temptations to lead us to yet another sin. And, here is the big point, quoting St. John 8:34, made by Garrigou-Lagrange.

"Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin."

Also, quoting Thomas Aquinas, the author states "Every man judges of what is good according to his good or evil interior dispositions."

The good priest gives us the example of how the predominant fault becomes our greatest virtue. He shows the text revealing the anger and vengeance of St. John, who later in life, wrote the most beautiful passages on love. The "son of anger" became the poet and apostle of love. Wrath and Avarice on the right from Newark show contorted souls. Notice again the chains.

We have much work to do. Let us pray for good spiritual directors, holy wives and husbands, excellent companions in monasteries and convents, and holy friends to point out our worst flaw and to work on the remedy.

For the sake of our be continued.