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Thursday, 19 September 2013

Part five-predominant fault and false seers; last post on this theme-"we must not make peace with our faults"

Garrigou-Lagrange helps us on our way. The graph at the very end of this post indicates how to break the sins of the predominant fault. This is hard work. This takes time and reflection. One must be ruthless with one's self to a certain point. This is the last in this series, and more is in the perfection series. As usual, my comments are in blue.

And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away, Matthew 11:12, DR

Before conquering our predominant fault, our virtues are often, to speak more properly, natural good inclinations rather than true and solid virtues that have taken root in us. Prior to victory over this fault, the fountain of graces is not yet adequately opened on our soul, for we still seek ourselves too much and do not live sufficiently for God.
In addition, we must overcome pusillanimity, which leads us to think that our predominant fault cannot be eradicated. With grace we can overcome it, because, as the Council of Trent says, quoting St. Augustine: "God never commands the impossible; but in giving us His precepts, He commands us to do what we can, and to ask for the grace to accomplish what we cannot do." (10)
It has been said that the spiritual combat is in this case more necessary than victory, for, if we dispense ourselves from this struggle, we abandon the interior life, we no longer tend toward perfection. We must not make peace with our faults.

We get use to our faults and cooperate with these. For example, if one is disobedient to the Church in matters of doctrine, one can find excuses for such rebellion, such as "My bishop is liberal and therefore, I do not need to follow his instructions on visions." Or, "My priest disagrees with Rome, so I can follow my priest." If one has a predominant fault of pride or vainglory, these type of thoughts become habitual.

We always have enough grace to break through the predominant fault. 

Moreover, credence must not be given to our adversary when he seeks to persuade us that this struggle is suitable only for the saints that they may reach the highest regions of spirituality. The truth is that without this persevering and efficacious struggle we cannot sincerely aspire to Christian perfection, toward which the supreme precept makes it a duty for all of us to tend. This precept is, in fact, without limit: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with all thy strength and with all thy mind: and thy neighbor as thyself." (11)
Without this struggle, there is no interior joy or peace, for the tranquility of order or peace comes from the spirit of sacrifice. It alone establishes us interiorly in order by putting to death all that is inordinate in us.(12)

As I noted in the perfection series this past year, God is calling us all to saintliness. The path is not through the seeking of spiritual cookies and cream, but through the stages outlined by the great ones, including John of  the Cross, who specifically states that those who continually seek after consolations will not become holy.

This is the dilemma of the experience seeker. The one who runs after apparitions and visionaries is seeking consolation instead of purification.  That person does not want to suffer the Dark Night and, therefore, runs after false light-and we all know who the false angel of light is.

Lastly, charity, the love of God and of souls in God, finally prevails completely over the predominant fault; it then truly occupies the first place in our soul and reigns there effectively. Mortification, which makes our principal fault disappear, delivers us and assures the predominance in our soul of our true natural qualities and of our special attraction of grace. Thus little by little, we grow to be ourselves, in the broad sense of the word, that is, to be supernaturally ourselves minus our defects. 

Once we are free from the prison of our predominant fault, we shall come into our own, as it were. We shall really be ourselves and finally be able to use the virtues God has given us. The gifts of the Holy Spirit will also be freed, which these are not, until we are purified.

The irony is that those who seek after false visions and visionaries think they will get holiness by osmosis, just by being around those supposed holy people. How dangerous and how false, when all that one needs for perfection is one's personal relationship with God in and through the Catholic Church.

We do not have to copy in a more or less servile manner another's qualities, or enter a uniform mold that is the same for all. There is a great variety in human personalities, just as no two leaves or flowers are perfectly similar. But a person's temperament must not be crushed; it must be transformed while keeping whatever is good in it. In our temperament, our character must be the imprint of the acquired and infused virtues, especially of the theological virtues. Then, instead of instinctively referring everything to self, as is the case when the predominant fault reigns, we will turn everything back to God, think almost continually of Him, and live for Him alone; at the same time we will lead to Him those with whom we come into contact.

We do not need private revelations at all. We only need Christ and the teachings of the Church which give us guidance and hope. How beautiful to think we can experience a transformation in ourselves, a freeing of our personalities, temperaments--all in God. And, in the next paragraph, we are led back to St. Ignatius advice highlighted here yesterday. The saints are consistent in their roles as models for us, as they have gone before us in holiness and show us the way. Not so false seers...they take us away from ourselves and from God.

That we may know ourselves better, we should vary the examination of conscience, making it at times according to the order of the commandments of God and the precepts of the Church; at other times, following the order of the moral and theological virtues; or considering the sins opposed to these different virtues, indicated in the two following outlines:from Ch22 of "The Three Ages of the Interior Life"  - Fr R. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.

Inordinate love of selfPridein regard to selfVain glory, from which come: disobedience, boasting, hypocrisy, contention through rivalry, discord, singularity, stubbornness.
Acedia (sloth), hatred of spiritual things, whence are born: malice, rancor, pusillanimity, discouragement, spiritual torpor, forgetfulness of the precepts, seeking after forbidden things.
in regard to one's neighbourEnvy, from which spring: hatred, detraction,
regard calumny, joy at the misfortune of another,
to sadness at his success.
Anger, whence come: disputes, fits of passion, ,
insults, contumely, blasphemy.
Concupiscenceof the eye'sAvarice, whence proceed: perfidy, fraud, deceit, perjury, itch to acquire and excessive anxiety to keep, harshness, hardness of heart.
of the fleshGluttony, which engenders: improper jokes, buffoonery, impurity, foolish conversation, stupidity.
Lust, whence proceed: spiritual blindness, poor judgment, impetuosity (of decision), inconstancy, love of self even to hatred of God, attachment to the present life which destroys hope of eternal life.

VirtuesTheologicalCharitytoward God and the gift of wisdomdisgust for spiritual things
towards one's neighbour and mercyenvy, discord, scandal
Hopeconfidence, abandonment, and the gift of fear, opposed to presumptionpresumption
Faithand the spirit of faith, and the gifts of understanding and knowledgeinfidelity, blasphemy, blindness, culpable ignorance
CardinalPrudencedocility to good counsels and the gift of counselimprudence and negligence, carnal prudence, cunning
Justiceand the connected virtues of religion (gift of piety), penance, filial piety, obedience, gratitude, veracity, fidelity, liberalityinjustice, impiety, superstition, hypocrisy, lying
Fortitudeand the gift of fortitude, with magnanimity, patience and perseverancerash boldness, cowardliness, and pusillanimity
Temperancesobriety and chastity, with meekness and humilityintemperance, lust, anger, pride and curiosity
Contrary Vices