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Thursday 29 November 2012

Fr. Z has this on facebook

Hope this helps those who want to be perfect--to God be the glory

Imagine going out with a friend on a cold winter's morning, and in the conversation, you said one, small lie. You realized it was a lie and went to Confession the next day, where the priest say it was not a lie. But, you knew it was a deceit, and a lack of trust.

Then, in the evening, when you walked into your dining room in the dark, you encountered a Presence so Pure, so Innocent, so Just, that you saw the horrific nature of that one, small lie.

In the room with such Goodness, the tiniest venial sin was an affront to Justice and Mercy, both.

Remorse and repentance immediately were given as graces. One had a glimpse of the Particular Judgement.

In discussions with some friends in Europe, this is an occurrence happening to some Catholics. They are experiencing a bit of their moment of death in order to repent and become perfect.

What they have encountered is Pure Love, and this Love is solid, like a rock, like a mountain, unfathomable and majestic. No one who has experienced this can deny that something unearthly happened. This Love is more real than reality around us.

This is a gift for some to help them understand God's Majesty and Goodness.

We shall condemn ourselves when we die. Christ said He does not condemn. He loves and in that love is our salvation or condemnation. But, now we have the chance to become perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect.

Do not think this is impossible. With grace, all things are possible. With God, Who is Love, all things are possible. Ask for perfection and you will be led to such a state, if you are willing.

Let your prayer be, "To God be only glory and may my life glorify Him. Let me do nothing which does not glorify His Name on the earth."

St. Paul and Perfection Part Four

Today in a different Carmelite Church, that on Clarendon Street, it was the memorial of two Carmelite priests martyred in Sumatra. Here is a short biography and prayer from the Carmelite website:

By the way, the priest said that we should pay attention to these and all martyrs as we are now living in a completely secularized world which is not conducive to Christianity. Good and poignant message....for Eire. And yes, they use the Communion rail.

Blesseds Denis & Redemptus

November 29: An Optional Memorial from the Common of Several Martyrs.

Denis of the Nativity, a priest, called in the world Pierre Berthelot, was born in Honfleur in France in 1600. He was a cartographer and naval commander for the kings of Portugal and France before he joined the Discalced Carmelites in Goa in 1635. It was also at Goa that the Portuguese lay brother, Thomas Rodriguez de Cunha, born in 1598, had made his profession in 1615, taking the name Redemptus of the Cross. They were sent to the island of Sumatra, where, in the town of Achen, they received the martyr’s crown on November 29, 1638. The picture is of Blessed Denis.

we celebrate the memory
of Blesseds Denis and Redemptus
who died for their faithful witnessing to Christ.
Give us the strength to follow their example,
loyal and faithful to the end.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.

However, what struck me was the First Reading from Romans 5:1-5, which fits nicely into the perfection theme. \In this passage, St. Paul writes a clear summary of the Illuminative Stage of the life of the virtues. One virtue leads to the next and the joy, the glory in suffering is real peace. In this passage, Paul's certainty of the love of God, and the word is caritas, indicates the Unitive Stage, at least the first steps. Paul knows the love of God in his heart by experience and therefore, everything else falls into place. There is no striving here, only cooperation with grace, and his boasting is not that at all, but a teaching method on the way of perfection. Notice that Paul explains that the Holy Spirit is in him-the Indwelling of the Trinity is a reality to Paul:

Romans 5:1-5

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition 
Being justified therefore by faith, let us have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ:
By whom also we have access through faith into this grace, wherein we stand, and glory in the hope of the glory of the sons of God.
And not only so; but we glory also in tribulations, knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience trial; and trial hope;
And hope confoundeth not: because the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us.

The Silencing of the Poets

Poetry and song are the stuff of Christianity. The Psalms are sung daily by all the monastic orders and said by all priests and many lay people through-out the world. St David gave us inspired poetry for the petitioning and praising of God.

We believe God is worshipped in music and song. What is more beautiful than the Mass for Five Voices by Byrd or the Mozart Requiem? The list of glorious music created in the Church and for the Church is long and hardy. Monteverdi composed the Vespers to Our Lady which is highlighted here.

And, from the days of Caedmon, the lowly poet raised to greatness in history by a poem of praise, have  led us to Gregorian Chant and the beauty of so many settings of the Psalms.

The Muslims  in Mali have forbidden, "a hereditary caste of bards and storytellers found across West Africa and commonly known by their French name, griot. For centuries, griots have directed ceremonies, smoothed over disputes, and served as repositories of history and genealogy"

The hadith forbids music and instruments, according to Allah. This is a great mystery to me. 

One of the great sadnesses for this tribe of people who have had their history interrupted by a new law, sharia law, is the loss of their culture and particular histories. It would be as if the choirs of England would be prohibited, as well as the historians silenced, and the genealogies destroyed. 

This is the taking away of personal, individual identity, and the destruction of the family, which is united by a common history and common heritage. 

Pray for our brothers and sisters in Mali, where the poets have been silenced.

Psychology vs. Spirituality

“Can human folly harbour a more arrogant or ungrateful thought than the notion that whereas God makes man beautiful in body, man makes himself pure in heart?” 
 Saint Augustine of Hippo

Some of you know that I taught in a seminary for a while. One of the things I noticed, as I was an academic adviser as well as a teacher, was the over-emphasis on psychology in opposition to spirituality. Psychological reports were part of all the seminarians' portfolios, and there was one required semester course on prayer. Each student had a spiritual director and for many years, a very liberal nun was allowed to choose priests for some of the sems. Spiritual direction did not necessarily include steps to self-denial, but could be merely times when students just talked. No great saints were recommended, such as St. Bernard or books by the great spiritual writers, such as Marmion or Garrigou-Lagrange. As in some of the monasteries, spirituality had been replaced by modern interpretations of sin, guilt and self-actualization. The Church suffers from a lack, an ignorance and even disdain of the past masters of prayer. One does not find God in psychology. It is a useful tool, which must be held in a lower place than prayer, reflection, meditation, contemplation.

The new approaches to sin and guilt minimize a truism only discovered in prayer and the Teaching of the Church; that is that God is so Pure, so Just, so Good that the smallest sin is a huge offence. This cannot be taught from a psychological point of view, but only from a life of prayer and grace. What is missing in discussions on one's relationship with God is God. When the emphasis is always on the person and not God, there can be no relationship which is real.

Psychology may lead to healing and a better knowledge of self, but so can prayer. A relationship with God demands death to self-will and selfishness. Psychology too often keeps the person focused on himself.

This is the beauty of the way of perfection and the stages, as well as the wisdom and genius of the Rule of St. Benedict. One must develop in a human way, absolutely, in order to develop spiritually  The two must go together. But, if spirituality is not taught in this context, a person may never seek God, only the self.

If the two are taught together, this is excellent, but I know only one person in the entire world who is capable of this depth of spirituality and psychoanalysis. The persons who do this must be holy and therefore, orthodox Catholics. 

“The world may disagree with the Church, but the world knows very definitely with what it is disagreeing. In the future as in the past, the Church will be intolerant about the sanctity of marriage, for what God has joined together no man shall put asunder; she will be intolerant about her creed, and be ready to die for it, for she fears not those who kill the body, but rather those who have the power to cast body and soul into hell.” 
Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

St. Paul and the way to perfection series continued

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition 
Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up;
Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall 
be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed
One may think that St. Paul is merely listing the attributes of caritas. He is doing more than that which reveals he is living in the Illuminative, and most likely, the Contemplative State. Why do I say this?
First, to understand caritas at this level is to not only have encountered Christ in his conversion, but to have the knowledge that Christ lives in his heart. In other words, St. Paul knows that real love only comes with this heart knowledge of the Indwelling of the Trinity.
He is the great saint, along with John the Evangelist, of real love, which is caritas. Let us look at the passage, frequently used at weddings. Why? Because in a good marriage, the highest form of caritas as described may be reached. Have hope, Catholic couples.
Patience may be a character gift as well as a gift of the Holy Spirit. I was not patient by nature until God allowed me to suffer over and over again. Then, patience became a way of life, very quickly. Like the homeless man who stands outside this apartment block only yards away all day, begging and getting pennies, his patience is a result of his intense suffering. That he does not fit into the system is none of my business. That he needs a sandwich and orange juice, yes. But, he is patience in his destitution. This is the giving up of expectations and the total reliance on God. I do not think this homeless man is a Catholic. He is a Romani, but who knows. He and I cannot understand each other in our separate languages. Why is he patient? Because he has been humbled. St. Paul in his list indicates a person who has died to self. 
Patience, long-suffering, kindness, humility come with the experience that God is with one in this suffering. The Crucified One comes and joins us in our suffering. Sometimes, He invites us and we have a choice in saying yes or no. This has happened to me. Raging against the invitation is just plain stupid.
Saying yes is the opening of the heart to God. St. Paul knows this in this passage. What is key is that these virtues become easy, very easy when one is in the Illuminative Stage. The life of virtue takes over the striving. Why? Because virtue becomes infused with the awareness of the oneness with Christ. 
A person does not become totally perfect at this point, but virtue is much easier, much.
Now, comes the tricky part. When one is aware of Christ with one constantly in suffering, a joy begins to "sit on the heart". St. Therese the Little Flower called it the "unfelt joy" but it is a subtle joy.
That is when one can bear with all things, hope all things, endure all things.

Thank, Wiki
I cannot endure the cold, yet. It is very painful for me to be cold as I have had frostbite and chilblains, (, and I feel pain in those several places when it is cold. Also, I get hypothermia very easily. I think this is one reason Mother Prioress knew I could not handle the monastic life. I was taking a hot water bottle into the chapel at night for Adoration as I was so cold. The good nuns have very light habits, bless them. And, I know the Nigerian nuns feel the cold. I could not sleep at night because of the cold. But, as some of the Cistercian manuals note, if one dies, does it matter? I am not there yet, to die of hypothermia; it mattered to me. But, perhaps, someday, as I am walking on this journey to perfection, I shall be at that place.

The hoping has to do with complete trust in Divine Providence, which takes away fear and anxiety and replaces it with a quiet trust. One stops asking from the laundry list of things at this point and merely trusts in God. One cannot dictate to the Father what is His Will. One can only follow and trust.
The knowledge St. Paul refers to is head knowledge as opposed to the knowledge of the heart. I hate to make this separation, as all of our faculties, mind, soul, heart, should be together.
But, here is an example. The bride knows her beloved loves her, not because she thinks it is so, but because she has experienced being treasured, honoured, loved.

So, too, St. Paul, who is living in the Love of God when he writes this, which if constant, is the Unitive State.

Do these states mean bad things stop happening and suffering stops? By no means and in fact, things can get worse because, as seen in the life of St. Paul, God asks for more and more. St. Francis said that his God never said "Enough".
To be continued....