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Monday 28 January 2013

For my male friend who wants to read about perfection without roses


Inside Joke (my last car)

from a friend on Stan the Man to all of you

Dear Friends,

I thought I would share the videos below with you if you haven't already seen them.

In my estimation we will never again see the kind of athlete that Stan Musial was. Not just because of what he could do in the field of play, but because of what he did *off* the field of play as well.

He exuded excellence, honesty, integrity, grace and decency. He was, to me, what Midwestern values are all about.

I never saw him play, but boy I miss him already. I watched most of the funeral Mass. (Cardinal Dolan was a con-celebrant)

I have to say I was more than a little sad on Saturday (the day of the funeral). I shed more than a few tears.

Because this kind of man, a man from the greatest generation of Americans, we will rarely - *if ever* - see again.


Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him (and Lil).

"Take a look, fans. Take a good, long look. Remember the swing and the stance. We won't see his like again."  Harry Caray, September 1963 - Stan's last at-bat.  (excerpts from the eulogy)  (unedited version - 19 minutes)

Perfection Series Review: for LM

I have been asked many questions of late and I shall try and answer some of these.

My first post on perfection was one year ago on January 29th. Some of my readers may not use the labels at the bottom of the articles. Just click on those for the whole series. I pointed this out last year.

For the reasons I started this series, include the one (1) I wrote about earlier, which will be the lack of priests and sacramental life we most likely will have to endure.

Here are some of the other reasons:

2) God calls all of  us to the Unitive State before we die. This is no longer taught to us laity or even some religious and that is a scandal.

We are all called to personal holiness--all.

3) Without reaching the Illuminative State, most works supposedly for the Kingdom of God are worthless at worst and only partly good at best. How many projects have Catholics started only to either have these not bear fruit or lead others astray? Such successful projects, as in Priests for Life, indicate an arrival at the Illuminative State. Works do not save and external works not done in grace are only done for our own benefit and not for Christ Alone.

4) Families suffer when parents are not responding to these graces of perfection and even worse, do not pass these on to their children. Children can be saints............see previous posts.

5) God is waiting for you all to be all He created you to be in His plan, not only for our individual salvation, but for the good of the Church, the Kingdom of God.

6) If you love someone, you want to be like them and be with them, right? If one loves Christ, one wants to be like Him and  put on the Mind of Christ, which is perfection.

For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that we may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.  DR 1 Corinthians 2:16

Someone asked me when all this started for me. The Purgation Stage can be very, very long, as I was afraid of suffering and fought it. I was so protestantized that I believed for a long time that suffering meant I was damned and that God did not love me. Do not fight suffering. Do not be afraid. 

But, your will has to be broken. Not your spirit, your will...............

Everything changed quickly and the process speeded up when I had cancer in 2009...and poverty immediately as a result.

And, also, because of an episode of unrequited love... 

These things caused great humiliation in my life, as there were consequences...........Praise God.

All that I had been reading for 40 years popped into reality. But, I had good training as a child and the discipline of seven years in community. The journey began a long time ago and continues daily.

When I decided to give up most things and stop desiring and leave "normal" middle-class life, the path became smoother and faster.........if we give up, God can do anything. I am so far from the end, which is union with God, but I have had small glimpses of that Love. One becomes focussed.........God shows the way and even if we make huge errors, He helps us and works within our gross limitations. The entire process is a great adventure. 

If you are young and single, join the Benedictine nuns in Kansas City or the men in Clear Creek. If you are old, go with nature and respond to what God gives you.  If you are married, see Christ in your spouse and children and serve Him. God gives us suffering. We do not have to look for it, but in that suffering is joy and more love than one can ever imagine.

And, Love is the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. 

(Ok, a male friend of mine just complained about all the roses, so see the post one after the next)

Part Five: Saints on the Illuminative State-on the way to the one thing necessary

Sometimes people do not read footnotes in texts.

I do. Garrigou-Lagrange has these three in his section on the Illuminative State, which I think will be helpful for all of us.  Garrigou-Lagrange's next chapter highlight St. Catherine and Bl. Henry, and here are some of his extensive points. My boldface type highlights.................

8. In the prologue of his Rule, St. Benedict wrote: "Let us therefore at length arise, since the Scriptures stir us up, saying: 'It is now the hour for us to rise from sleep' (Rom. 13:11). And our eyes being now open to the divine light, let us hear with wonderment the divine voice admonishing us, in that it cries out daily and says: 'Today if you shall hear His voice, harden not your hearts.' " That is to say: It is time to rise from the sleep of negligence and to walk courageously in the way of God.

Garrigou-Lagrange rightly and clearly expresses that the Illuminative State is a second conversion. This waking up is absolutely a gift from God, but one has to cooperate with this.

It does not happen if one is NOT ORTHODOX and if one is orthodox and falls away from the Church, the Illuminative State ends in heresy and condemnation. Now, one may be "outside" the Catholic Church and receive great graces for the very purpose of God calling one to become Catholic. This can be a painful decision.

One falls because of pride, mostly, and stupidly thinking that one is arriving at these stages by one's own efforts and not by grace.

9. We shall see farther on that, as St. Catherine of Siena says in her Dialogue (chaps. 60, 63), the second conversion of the apostles took place more properly at the end of the Passion when Peter wept over his denial, and that Pentecost was like a third conversion or more properly a transformation of the soul, which marks the entrance into the unitive way.

This is absolutely spot on.

Garrigou-Lagrange should be canonized. His insights as to Catherine of Siena's Dialogue, a book I recommend to all, shows that Catherine received graces for the Unitive Way, which I have not discussed yet.

One cannot enter the Illuminative State without purgation and one finishes purgation in the Illuminative State.

No pain, no gain. Sorry, but the Protestants miss this point by insisting that a sign of election is wealth. Nope.

I shall write about the Third Transformation when I have exhausted the Illuminative State explanations. I have never personally met a living man, woman or child in the Unitive State, although I have met several in the Illuminative State. Age, by the way, does not matter. Catherine died at 33.

Here is G-L on her contribution: Christ is speaking to Catherine. 

We read in chapter 60: "Some there are who have become faithful servants, serving Me with fidelity without servile fear of punishment, but rather with love. This very love, however, if they serve Me with a view to their own profit, or the delight and pleasure which they find in Me, is imperfect. Dost thou know what proves the imperfection of this love? The withdrawal of the consolations which they found in Me, and the insufficiency and short duration of their love for their neighbor, which grows weak by degrees, and oft-times disappears. Toward Me their love grows weak when, on occasion, in order to exercise them in virtue and raise them above their imperfection, I withdraw from their minds My consolation and allow them to fall into battles and perplexities. This I do so that, coming to perfect self-knowledge, they may know that of themselves they are nothing and have no grace, and, accordingly in time of battle fly to Me as their benefactor, seeking Me alone, with true humility, for which purpose I treat them thus, withdrawing from them consolation indeed, but not grace. At such a time these weak ones of whom I speak relax their energy, impatiently turning backward, and so sometimes abandon, under color of virtue, many of their exercises, saying to themselves: This labor does not profit me. All this they do, because they feel themselves deprived of mental consolation. Such a soul acts imperfectly, for she has not yet unwound the bandage of spiritual self-love, for had she unwound it, she would see that, in truth, everything proceeds from Me, that no leaf of a tree falls to the ground without My providence, and that what I give and promise to My creatures, I give and promise to them for their sanctification, which is the good and the end for which I created them."

and again,

In chapter 63 of The Dialogue, the saint says, in speaking of the passage from mercenary to filial love: "Every perfection and every virtue proceeds from charity, and charity is nourished by humility, which results from the knowledge and holy hatred of self, that is, sensuality. . . . To arrive thereat. . . a man must exercise himself in the extirpation of his perverse self-will, both spiritual and temporal, hiding himself in his own house, as did Peter, who, after the sin of denying My Son, began to weep. Yet his lamentations were imperfect, and remained so until after the forty days, that is, until after the Ascension. But when My Truth returned, to Me in His humanity, Peter and the others concealed themselves in the house awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit, which My Truth had promised them. They remained barred in from fear, because the soul always fears until she arrives at true love. But when they had persevered in fasting and in humble and continual prayer, until they had received the abundance of the Holy Spirit, they lost their fear, and followed and preached Christ crucified."
St. Catherine of Siena shows in this passage that the imperfect soul which loves the Lord with a love that is still mercenary, ought to follow Peter's example after his denial of Christ. Not infrequently this time Providence permits us also to fall into some visible fault to humiliate us and oblige us to enter into ourselves, y at as Peter did, when immediately after his fall, seeing that Jesus looked at him, he "wept bitterly." (1)

And more, and a warning: this second conversion is not obvious, nor is it necessarily "charismatic".

The second conversion may also take place, though we have no grave sin to expiate, for example, at a time when we are suffering from an injustice, or a calumny, which, under divine grace, awakens in us not sentiments of vengeance, but hunger and thirst for the justice of God. In such a case, the generous forgiving of a grave injury sometimes draws down on the soul of the one who pardons, a great grace, which makes him enter a higher region of the spiritual life. The soul then receives a new insight into divine things and an impulse which it did not know before. David received such a grace when he pardoned Semei who had outraged and cursed him, while throwing stones at him.(3)

This has been in my experience and forgiveness opens the door to grace. But, this
"yes" opens the door to great suffering as well.

A more profound insight into the life of the soul may originate also on the occasion of the death of a dear one, or of a disaster, or of a great rebuff, when anything occurs which is of a nature to reveal the vanity of earthly things and by contrast the importance of the one thing necessary, union with God, the prelude of the life of heaven.

In her Dialogue St. Catherine also speaks often of the necessity of leaving the imperfect state in which a person serves God more or less through interest and for his own satisfaction, and in which he wishes to go to God the Father without passing through Jesus crucified.(4) To leave this imperfect state, the soul which still seeks itself must be converted that it may cease to seek itself and may truly go in search of God by the way of abnegation, which is that of profound peace.

There is no short-cut.

Staying with the Dominicans today, on the Feast of the Greatest, I pick up on G-L's reference to Henry Suso, who I first discovered in about 1980. Here is a section of his writings to help us. Again, read footnotes, as they are good for you! They led up to the following chapter.

10. For example, the second conversion of Blessed Henry Suso, of St. Catherine of Genoa, of Blessed Anthony Neyrot, O.P., and of many others, is well known.

The works of Blessed Henry Suso contain a number of instructions relative to the second conversion. He himself experienced this conversion after a few years of religious life, during which he had slipped into some negligences. Particular attention ought to be given to what he says about the necessity of a more interior and deep Christian life in religious who give themselves most exclusively to study, and in others who are chiefly attentive to exterior observances and austerities. In the divine light he saw "these two classes of persons circling about the Savior's cross, without being able to reach Him," (5) because both groups sought themselves, either in study or in exterior observances, and because they judged each other without charity. He understood then that he should remain in complete self-abnegation, ready to accept all that God might will, and to accept it with love, at the same time practicing great fraternal charity. (6)

Do not circle the Cross. Embrace it.

And I end with a helpful footnote and also section on St. Thomas Aquinas.......

15. This mode of acting conforms perfectly to what St. Thomas says of the difference between acquired prudence (a true virtue, already described by Aristotle) and infused prudence. and the gift of counsel (IIa IIae, q.47, a.14 and q. 52). Should a man tend to perfection under the almost exclusive direction of acquired prudence (which is, nevertheless, not that of the flesh), he would never reach true Christian perfection, which belongs to the supernatural order; such perfection requires the frequent exercise of infused prudence and of the gift of counsel. These three sources of actions (habitus) are among themselves a little like what agility of the fingers, the acquired art which is in the practical intellect, and musical inspiration are in the musician. Without art, properly so called, and this inspiration, a man will certainly never produce a masterpiece, and will never be able even to comprehend one.

And, so that we do not become full of pride, God allows us to fall......

In connection with Peter's second conversion, we should recall that St. Thomas teaches (2) that even after a serious sin, if a man has a truly fervent contrition proportionate to the degree of grace lost, he recovers this degree of grace; he may even receive a higher degree if he has a still more fervent contrition. He is, therefore, not obliged to recommence his ascent from the very beginning, but continues it, taking it up again at the point he had reached when he fell. A mountain climber who stumbles halfway up, rises immediately, and continues the ascent. The same is true in the spiritual order. Everything leads us to think that by the fervor of his repentance Peter not only recovered the degree of grace that he had lost, but was raised to a higher degree of the supernatural life. The Lord permitted this fall only to cure him of his presumption so that he might become more humble and thereafter place his confidence, not in himself, but in God. Thus, the humiliated Peter on his knees weeping over his sin is greater than the Peter on Thabor, who did not as yet sufficiently know his frailty.

To be perfect is to be conformed to Christ. We become like Him. We are His Face in the world...........

Good suggestions needed for sciatica

Not involving doctors.............have had this for a week and not getting better.

I am walking and resting. And, praying for those with back pain. And, thinking of Jesus on the way to Calvary.

One of my favourite psalms from Lauds today

St. David understanding the road to perfection.................

Psalm 83 (84)
Longing for the Lord's temple

They are happy who dwell in your house, Lord.
How delightful is your dwelling-place, Lord of hosts!
  My soul is weak with longing for the courts of your palace.
  My heart and my body rejoice in the living God.
Even the sparrow finds itself a home,
  the swallow a nest to raise her young –
  in your altars, O Lord,
  Lord of strength, my king and my God.
Blessed are they who dwell in your house:
  they will praise you for ever.
Blessed the man whose help comes from you,
  who has set his heart on climbing to you.
They pass through the valley of thirst
  and make a spring there:
  the morning rain will cover it with blessings.
They will go from strength to strength:
  they will see the God of gods, in Zion.
Lord God of hosts, listen to my prayer;
  hear me, O God of Jacob.
Take notice of us, God our protector,
  and look on the face of your anointed one.
One day in the courts of my God
  is worth more than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be at the doorstep of the house of my God
  than live in the dwellings of sinners.
For the Lord my God is my sun and my shield.
  The Lord gives grace and glory.
He will not deny his good things
  to those who walk in purity.
Blessed is he who trusts in you,
  O Lord of hosts.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
  as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
  world without end.
They are happy who dwell in your house, Lord.

Blessed be the Lord! For love of him, Thomas studied, kept watch, and laboured.

Lord, our God, since it was by your gift that Saint Thomas became so great a saint and theologian,
  give us grace to understand his teaching and follow his way of life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
  who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
  one God, for ever and ever.

Part Four, the stuff of martyrs and G-L

At this stage, many people fall away and I believe this is the place where heretics are born.

Heretics have much knowledge and experience of the spiritual life, but fail at the waiting stage for many reasons.

Here are some reasons people abandon this place of grace:

Pride: thinking one has "arrived".

Impatience: not willing to suffer

Discouragement: not understanding the process

Interference: trying or striving too hard to accomplish what only the Holy Spirit can do

Falling out of orthodoxy: a huge problem in today's world

The virtues at this stage must include simplicity of life and obedience to grace..............

Here is Garrigou-Lagrange at this point:

 ....natural activity exercising itself counter to the gifts of the Holy Ghost, through self-seeking opposes an obstacle to their most delicate inspirations. In prayer, we should not seek to feel the gift of God, but should receive it with docility and disinterestedness in the obscurity of faith. Spiritual joy will be added later on to the act of contemplation and love of God; but it is not joy that should be sought, it is God Himself, who is greatly superior to His gifts.

If the soul that has reached this period of transition is faithful to what has been said, then will be realized what St. John of the Cross affirms: "By not hindering the operation of infused contemplation, to which God is now admitting it, the soul is refreshed in peaceful abundance, and set on fire with the spirit of love, which this con­templation, dim and secret, induces and establishes within it." (6)

As the mystical doctor says: "The soul should content itself simply with directing its attention lovingly and calmly toward God," with the general knowledge of His infinite goodness, as when after months of absence, a loving son again meets his good mother who has been expecting him. He does not analyze his sentiments and his mother's as a psychologist would; he is content with an affectionate, tranquil, and profound gaze which in its simplicity is far more penetrating than all psychological analyses...

A good priest said to me--keep your eyes on Christ and not yourself or others. Keep focussed on Christ. 

Part Three G-L and the stuff of martyrs.

One can see the movement towards the acceptance of extreme suffering in this passage. All the graces of Confirmation are stirred up at this point and the virtues come to the forefront of one's existence. I have highlighted parts. All this is grace, but we must desire this and be open to it.

Remember that the Perfect Christ allowed Himself to suffer, so we have an example...

The theological explanation of this state is to be found in four causes. We already know its formal and material causes from the fact that St. John of the Cross tells us that it is a passive purification of the sensibility. Several authors insist on its final cause or end, which is easily discovered, and do not give sufficient attention to its efficient cause.
The passage just quoted from St. John of the Cross indicates the efficient cause. It is, in fact, a special and purifying action of God, from which comes, says the saint, a beginning of infused contemplation. In this contemplation we have the explanation of the keen desire for God experienced by the soul, since man ardently desires only that of which he experimentally knows the charm. This keen desire for God and for perfection is itself the explanation of the fear of falling back (filial fear). Finally, sensible aridity is explained by the fact that the special grace then given is purely spiritual and not sensible; it is a higher form of life. St. John's text explains this state rationally.
On penetrating more deeply into the theological explanation of this state, we observe that in it there is a special inspiration of the Holy Ghost, whose influence then becomes more manifest. Theology teaches that every just soul possesses the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, which enable it to receive His inspirations with docility and promptness.(16) Here, therefore, the influence of the gifts is quite manifest, especially those gifts of knowledge, filial fear, and fortitude.
The gift of knowledge, in fact, explains the first sign pointed out by St. John of the Cross: "No comfort in the things of God and none also in created things." The gift of knowledge, according to St. Augustine (17) and St. Thomas,(18) makes us know experimentally the emptiness of created things, all that is defectible and deficient in them and in ourselves. Knowledge indeed differs from wisdom inasmuch as it knows things not by their supreme cause, but by their proximate, defectible, and deficient cause. For this reason, according to St. Augustine, the gift of knowledge corresponds to the beatitude of tears. The tears of contrition come actually from the knowledge of the gravity of sin and the nothingness of creatures. The gift of knowledge reminds us of what Ecclesiastes says: "Vanity of vanities, . . . and all things are vanity," except to love God and to serve Him.(19) This thought is repeatedly expressed in The Imitation (20) and in the works of great mystics like Ruysbroeck. (21) Before St. John of the Cross, Ruysbroeck pointed out the relations of the gift of knowledge to the passive purification of the senses, in which the soul knows by experience the emptiness of created things and is led thereby to a keen desire for God.(22)
In the passive purification of the senses which we are speaking of, there is also a manifest influence of the gifts of fear and fortitude, as the second sign given by St. John of the Cross indicates: "The true purgative aridity is accompanied in general by a painful anxiety because the soul thinks that it is not serving God. . . . For when mere bodily indisposition is the cause, all that it does is to produce disgust and the ruin of bodily health, without the desire of serving God which belongs to the purgative aridity. In this aridity, though the sensual part of man is greatly depressed, weak and sluggish in good works, by reason of the little satisfaction they furnish, the spirit is, nevertheless, ready and strong." (23)
The second sign manifests, therefore, an effect of the gift of fear, of filial fear, not the fear of punishment but that of sin. Filial fear evidently grows with the progress of charity, whereas servile fear, or that of punishment, diminishes.(24) By the special inspiration of this gift the soul resists the strong temptations against chastity and patience which often accompany the passive purification of the senses. The Christian, who then experiences his indigence, repeats the words of the Psalmist: "Pierce Thou my flesh with Thy fear: for I am afraid of Thy judgments." (25) According to St. Augustine, the gift of fear corresponds to the beatitude of the poor,(26) of those who do not pose as masters, but who begin to love seriously the humility of the hidden life that they may become more like our Lord. In this poverty they find true riches: "Theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
In the keen desire to serve God which St. John of the Cross speaks of here, a desire that subsists in spite of aridity, temptations, difficulties, there is, at the same time, a manifest effect of the gift of fortitude, corresponding to the fourth beatitude: "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill." (27) The ardent desire to serve God at no matter what cost is truly this hunger, which the Lord arouses in us. He gives rise to it and He satisfies it; as was said to Daniel: "I am come to show it to thee, because thou art a man of desires." (28) The gift of fortitude comes here, in the midst of difficulties and contradictions, to the assistance of the virtues of patience and longanimity; without it spiritual enthusiasm would die away like sensible enthusiasm. This is the time when man must give heed to what The Imitation says about the holy way of the cross: "Follow Jesus, and thou shalt go into life everlasting. He is gone before thee, carrying His cross. . . . If thou carry the cross willingly, it will carry thee and bring thee to thy desired end. . . . And sometimes he gaineth such strength through affection to tribulation and adversity, by his love of conformity to the cross of Christ, as not to be willing to be without suffering and affliction. . . . This is not man's power but the grace of Christ, which doth and can effect such great things in frail flesh, and that what it naturally abhors and flies, even this, through fervor of spirit, it now embraces and loves [i.e., to bear the cross]." (29)
Finally, the third sign which St. John of the Cross speaks of, "the growing difficulty in meditating discursively," shows the influence of the gift of understanding, the source of initial infused contemplation, above reasoning.(30) In the same chapter of The Dark Night,(31) the saint speaks in exact terms of this "beginning of obscure and arid contemplation" by which God nourishes the soul while purifying it and giving it strength to go beyond the figures, to penetrate the meaning of the formulas of faith that it may reach the superior simplicity which characterizes contemplation.(32)
St. Thomas also speaks clearly on this subject: "The other cleanness of heart is a kind of complement to the sight of God; such is the cleanness of the mind that is purged of phantasms and errors, so as to receive the truths which are proposed to it about God, no longer by way of corporeal phantasms, nor infected with heretical misrepresentations; and this cleanness is the result of the gift of understanding." (33) Thereby this gift preserves us from possible deviations and makes us go beyond the letter of the Gospel to attain its spirit; it begins to make us penetrate, beyond the formulas of faith, the depths of the mysteries that they express. The formula is no longer a term but a point of departure. This purifying influence of the gift of understanding will be exercised especially in the passive purification of the spirit, but even at this stage it is manifest. Under the special inspiration of the Holy Ghost, the soul now makes an act of penetrating faith, which is called an infused act, for it cannot be produced without this special inspiration.(34)

The stuff of martyrs and Garrigou-Lagrange, part two

Many reasons led me to start the perfection series last year, a year ago.

One of these many reasons was that I am convinced we shall not always have the sacraments.

We shall not always have priests.

Therefore, we must pray and beg God to lead us to the place wherein we shall keep, defend and persevere in the Faith.

This way of perfection is the only way.

Now, if you cooperate with grace and do not fight God by fighting suffering and His Will, this stage will go quickly. Otherwise, one can be years and years in this stage, until God is finished melding the soul.

Here is one description and then I want to move on.............I want to highlight what happens next, as many of you are familiar with the dark night of the senses. 
We cannot skip any of this..............................

This state is manifested by three signs which St. John of the
Cross describes as follows:
The first is this: when we find no comfort in the things of God, and none also in created things. For when God brings the soul into the dark night in order to wean it from sweetness and to purge the desire of sense, He does not allow it to find sweetness or comfort anywhere. It is then probable, in such a case, that this dryness is not the result of sins or of imperfections recently committed; for if it were, we should feel some inclination or desire for other things than those of God. . . . But still, inasmuch as this absence of pleasure in the things of heaven and of earth may proceed from bodily indisposition or a melancholy temperament, which frequently causes dissatisfaction with all things, the second test and condition become necessary.
The second test and condition of this purgation are that the memory dwells ordinarily upon God with a painful anxiety and carefulness, the soul thinks it is not serving God, but going backwards, because it is no longer conscious of any sweetness in the things of God. . . . The true purgative aridity is accompanied in general by a painful anxiety, because the soul thinks that it is not serving God. Though this be occasionally increased by melancholy or other infirmity - so it sometimes happens ­ yet it is not for that reason without its purgative effects on the desires, because the soul is deprived of all sweetness, and its sole anxieties are referred to God. For when mere bodily indisposition is the cause, all that it does is to produce disgust and the ruin of bodily health, without the desire of serving God which belongs to the purgative aridity. In this aridity, though the sensual part of man be greatly depressed, weak and sluggish in good works, by reason of the little satisfaction they furnish, the spirit is, nevertheless, ready and strong.
The cause of this dryness is that God is transferring to the spirit the goods and energies of the senses, which, having no natural fitness for them, become dry, parched up, and empty; for the sensual nature of man is helpless in those things which belong to the spirit simply. Thus the spirit having been tasted, the flesh becomes weak and remiss; but the spirit, having received its proper nourishment, becomes strong, more vigilant and careful than before, lest there should be any negligence in serving God. At first it is not conscious of any spiritual sweetness and delight, but rather of aridities and distaste, because of the novelty of the change. The palate accustomed to sensible sweetness looks for it still. And the spiritual palate is not prepared and purified for so delicious a taste until it shall have been for some time disposed for it in this arid and dark night. . . .(12)
But when these aridities arise in the purgative way of the sensual appetite the spirit though at first without any sweetness, for the reasons I have given, is conscious of strength and energy to act because of the substantial nature of its interior food, which is the commencement of contemplation, dim and dry to the senses. This contemplation is in general secret, and unknown to him who is admitted into it, and with the aridity and emptiness which it produces in the senses, it makes the soul long for solitude and quiet, without the power of reflecting on anything distinctly, or even desiring to do so.
Now, if they who are in this state knew how to be quiet, . . . they would have, in this tranquillity, a most delicious sense of this interior food. This food is so delicate that, in general, it eludes our perceptions if we make any special effort to feel it; it is like the air which vanishes when we shut our hands to grasp it. For this is God's way of bringing the soul into this state; the road by which He leads it is so different from the first, that if it will do anything in its own strength, it will hinder rather than aid His work. Therefore, at this time, all that the soul can do of itself ends, as I have said, in disturbing the peace and the work of God in the spirit amid the dryness of sense.(13)
The third sign we have for ascertaining whether this dryness be the purgation of sense, is inability to meditate and make reflections, and to excite the imagination, as before, notwithstanding all the efforts we may make; for God begins now to communicate Himself, no longer through the channel of sense, as formerly, in consecutive reflections, by which we arranged and divided our knowledge, but in pure spirit, which admits not of successive reflections, and in the act of pure contemplation (to which the special inspiration of the Holy Ghost gives rise in us).(14)
In regard to this third sign, St. John of the Cross points out that this inability to meditate in a reasoned or discursive manner "does not arise out of any bodily ailment. When it arises from this, the indisposition, which is always changeable, having ceased, the powers of the soul recover their former energies and find their previous satisfactions at once. It is otherwise in the purgation of the appetite, for as soon as we enter upon this, the inability to make our meditations continually grows. It is true that this purgation at first is not continuous in some persons." (15)
Though this state is manifested by two negative characteristics (sensible aridity and great difficulty in meditating according to a reasoned manner), evidently the most important element in it is the positive side, that is, initial infused contemplation and the keen desire for God to which it gives rise in us. It must even be admitted that then sensible aridity and the difficulty in meditating come  precisely from the fact that grace takes a new, purely spiritual form, superior to the senses and to the discourse of reason, which makes use of the imagination. Here the Lord seems to take from the soul, for He deprives it of sensible consolation, but in reality He bestows a precious gift, nascent contemplation and a love that is more spirit­ual, pure, and strong. Only, we must keep in mind the saying: "The roots of knowledge are bitter and the fruits sweet"; the same must be said in a higher order of the roots and fruits of contemplation.

The real key to getting through the suffering is perseverance in the Faith. There is no sensible consolation and if people keep insisting on these, they will never pass into the fullness of the Illuminative stage.

To be continued................

The Stuff of Martyrs and Garrigou-Lagrange Part One

I find it interesting that some young people accept that they will suffer, in some way, for their Catholic Faith in the future, and some do not.

Suffering is part of life and we either suffer because that is a direct consequence of our own sin, or the consequence of the sin of Adam (death, illness, clouding of the intellect, concupiscence and the weakening of the will), or we suffer because God has invited us to join Him in His Passion.

The latter is the road of the martyr. Christ invites a person to walk the way to Calvary with Him and face the horrible, degrading death He accepted for our sakes.

Some are called to do this. And, all Catholics are called to suffer with Christ once they have been purified of serious sin and are in the Illuminative State.

This purification is the last stage of such. Here is Garrigou-Lagrange on this point.

Interesting that we not only have to accept the Cross Christ gives us, but add mortifications we choose as well?

Ch 4 : The Passive Purification of the Senses and the Entrance into the Illuminative Way
The entrance into the illuminative way, which is the second conversion described by St. Catherine of Siena, Blessed Henry Suso, Tauler, and Father Lallemant, is called by St. John of the Cross the passive purification of the senses or the night of the senses. At this point in our study we must see what St. John of the Cross says about: (I) the necessity of this purification; (2) the way it is produced; (3) the conduct to be observed at this difficult time; (4) the trials which ordinarily accompany the purifying divine action. These points will be the subject of this chapter and the following one.

In The Dark Night of the Soul, St. John of the Cross says: "The night of sense is common, and the lot of many: these are the beginners"; (1) and he adds farther on, after discussing this trial: "The soul began to set out on the way of the spirit, the way of proficients, which is also called the illuminative way, or the way of infused contemplation, wherein God Himself teaches and refreshes the soul without meditation or any active efforts that itself may deliberately make." (2) Nevertheless the soul must always struggle to remove the obstacles to this grace and to be faithful to it. These two texts are extremely important, for they mark the age of the spiritual life in which the purifying trial we are considering is ordinarily produced.
The necessity of this purification, as the saint shows in the same book,(3) arises from the defects of beginners, which may be reduced to three: spiritual pride, spiritual sensuality, and spiritual sloth. St. John of the Cross teaches that remains of the seven capital sins, like so many deviations of the spiritual life, are found even here. And yet the mystical doctor considers only the disorder that results from them in our relations with God; he does not speak of all that taints our dealings with our neighbor and the apostolate which may be under our care.
Spiritual sensuality, with which we are especially concerned here under the name of spiritual gluttony, consists in being immoderately attached to the sensible consolations that God sometimes grants in prayer. The soul seeks these consolations for themselves, forgetting that they are not an end, but a means; it prefers the savor of spiritual things to their purity, and thus seeks itself in the things of God rather than God Himself, as it should. In others, this self­seeking is in the exterior apostolate, in some form or other of activity.
Spiritual sloth comes as a rule then from the fact that, when spiritual gluttony or some other form of selfishness is not satisfied to the desired extent, one falls into impatience and a certain disgust for the work of sanctification as soon as it is a question of advancing by the "narrow way." The early writers spoke much of this spiritual sloth and of this disgust, which they called acedia.(4) They even declared that acedia, when accentuated, leads to malice, rancor, pusillanimity, discouragement, sluggishness, and dissipation of spirit in regard to forbidden things. (5)
Spiritual pride manifests itself quite frequently when spiritual gluttony or some other self-seeking is satisfied, when things go as one wishes; then a man boasts of his perfection, judges others severely, sets himself up as a master, while he is still only a poor disciple. This spiritual pride, says St. John of the Cross,(6) leads beginners to flee masters who do not approve of their spirit; "they even end by bearing them rancor." They seek a guide favorable to their inclinations, desire to be on intimate terms with him, confess their sins to him in such a way as not to lower themselves in his esteem. As St. John of the Cross says: "They go about palliating their sins, that they may not seem so bad: which is excusing rather than accusing themselves. Sometimes they go to a stranger to confess their sin, that their usual confessor may think that they are not sinners, but good people. And so they always take pleasure in telling him of their goodness." (7)
This spiritual pride leads, as is evident, to a certain pharisaical hypocrisy, which shows that the beginners, whom St. John of the Cross is speaking of, are still very imperfect; they are, therefore, beginners in the sense in which this word is generally understood by spiritual authors.(8) And yet it is of them that St. John of the Cross says here that they need to undergo the passive purification of the senses, which therefore marks clearly the entrance into the illuminative way of proficients, according to the traditional meaning of these terms.
To the defects of spiritual gluttony, spiritual sloth, and spiritual pride, are added many others: curiosity, which decreases love of the truth; sufficiency, which leads us to exaggerate our personal worth, to become irritated when it is not recognized; jealousy and envy, which lead to disparagement, intrigues, and unhappy conflicts, which more or less seriously injure the general good. Likewise in the apostolate, the defect rather frequent at this time is natural eagerness in self-seeking, in making oneself a center, in drawing souls to oneself or to the group to which one belongs instead of leading them to our Lord. Finally, let trial, a rebuff, a disgrace come, and one is, in consequence, inclined to discouragement, discontent, sulkiness, pusillanimity, which seeks more or less to assume the external appearances of humility. All these defects show the necessity of a profound purification.
Several of these defects may, without doubt, be corrected by exterior mortification and especially by interior mortification which we should impose on ourselves; but such mortification does not suffice to extirpate their roots, which penetrate to the very center of our faculties.(9) "The soul, however," says St. John of the Cross, "cannot be perfectly purified from these imperfections, any more than from the others, until God shall have led it into the passive purgation of the dark night, which I shall speak of immediately. But it is expedient that the soul, so far as it can, should labor, on its own part, to purify and perfect itself, that it may merit from God to be taken under His divine care, and be healed from those imperfections which of itself it cannot remedy. For, after all the efforts of the soul, it cannot by any exertions of its own actively purify itself so as to be in the slightest degree fit for the divine union of perfection in the love of God, if God Himself does not take it into His own hands and purify it in the fire, dark to the soul." (10)
In other words, the cross sent by God to purify us must complete the work of mortification which we impose on ourselves. Consequently, as St. Luke relates: "He [Jesus] said to all: If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself [this is the law of mortification or abnegation], and take up his cross daily, and follow Me"; (11) per crucem ad lucem. This road leads to the light of life, to intimate union with God, the normal prelude of the life of heaven.

Notice the last phrase, "the normal prelude to the life of heaven". No longer do the clergy call men and women to this stage. Why?

Perhaps they have not pursued this level of holiness themselves. Perhaps they have had bad pastoral training in seminary. Perhaps they have lost their way.

Choosing a chaste life or even making a celibate vow is a form of mortification. Not compromising the Faith and being martyred is another way, chosen by God. Ever little choice we make leads to the big choice. Are we strong enough interiorly to not shrink from a final test? No cross, no glory.

Georgetown professor----Are You Serious?

There are some scary people out there.....

From Georgetown law professor Louis Michael Seidman:

I've got a simple idea: Let's give up on the Constitution. I know, it sounds radical, but it's really not. Constitutional disobedience is as American as apple pie. For example, most of our greatest Presidents -- Jefferson, Lincoln, Wilson, and both Roosevelts -- had doubts about the Constitution, and many of them disobeyed it when it got in their way.

To be clear, I don't think we should give up on everything in the Constitution. The Constitution has many important and inspiring provisions, but we should obey these because they are important and inspiring, not because a bunch of people who are now long-dead favored them two centuries ago. Unfortunately, the Constitution also contains some provisions that are not so inspiring. For example, one allows a presidential candidate who is rejected by a majority of the American people to assume office. Suppose that Barack Obama really wasn't a natural-born citizen. So what? Constitutional obedience has a pernicious impact on our political culture. Take the recent debate about gun control. None of my friends can believe it, but I happen to be skeptical of most forms of gun control. I understand, though, that's not everyone's view, and I'm eager to talk with people who disagree.

But what happens when the issue gets Constitutional-ized? Then we turn the question over to lawyers, and lawyers do with it what lawyers do. So instead of talking about whether gun control makes sense in our country, we talk about what people thought of it two centuries ago. Worse yet, talking about gun control in terms of constitutional obligation needlessly raises the temperature of political discussion. Instead of a question on policy, about which reasonable people can disagree, it becomes a test of one's commitment to our foundational document and, so, to America itself.

This is our country. We live in it, and we have a right to the kind of country we want. We would not allow the French or the United Nations to rule us, and neither should we allow people who died over two centuries ago and knew nothing of our country as it exists today. If we are to take back our own country, we have to start making decisions for ourselves, and stop deferring to an ancient and outdated document.
27 Jan 2013, 9:40 AM PDT

from a great blog-EF pastoremeritus and thanks for the heads up
Full text of Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for 47th World Communications Day 12 May 2013 - “Social Networks: portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelisation.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As the 2013 World Communications Day draws near, I would like to offer you some reflections on an increasingly important reality regarding the way in which people today communicate among themselves.  I wish to consider the development of digital social networks which are helping to create a new “agora”, an open public square in which people share ideas, information and opinions, and in which new relationships and forms of community can come into being.

These spaces, when engaged in a wise and balanced way, help to foster forms of dialogue and debate which, if conducted respectfully and with concern for privacy, responsibility and truthfulness, can reinforce the bonds of unity between individuals and effectively promote the harmony of the human family.  The exchange of information can become true communication, links ripen into friendships, and connections facilitate communion.  If the networks are called to realize this great potential, the people involved in them must make an effort to be authentic since, in these spaces, it is not only ideas and information that are shared, but ultimately our very selves.

The development of social networks calls for commitment: people are engaged in building relationships and making friends, in looking for answers to their questions and being entertained, but also in finding intellectual stimulation and sharing knowledge and know-how.  The networks are increasingly becoming part of the very fabric of society, inasmuch as they bring people together on the basis of these fundamental needs.  Social networks are thus nourished by aspirations rooted in the human heart.

The culture of social networks and the changes in the means and styles of communication pose demanding challenges to those who want to speak about truth and values.  Often, as is also the case with other means of social communication, the significance and effectiveness of the various forms of expression appear to be determined more by their popularity than by their intrinsic importance and value.  Popularity, for its part, is often linked to celebrity or to strategies of persuasion rather than to the logic of argumentation.  At times the gentle voice of reason can be overwhelmed by the din of excessive information and it fails to attract attention which is given instead to those who express themselves in a more persuasive manner.  The social media thus need the commitment of all who are conscious of the value of dialogue, reasoned debate and logical argumentation; of people who strive to cultivate forms of discourse and expression which appeal to the noblest aspirations of those engaged in the communication process.  Dialogue and debate can also flourish and grow when we converse with and take seriously people whose ideas are different from our own.  “Given the reality of cultural diversity, people need not only to accept the existence of the culture of others, but also to aspire to be enriched by it and to offer to it whatever they possess that is good, true and beautiful” (Address at the Meeting with the World of Culture, BĂ©lem, Lisbon, 12 May 2010).

The challenge facing social networks is how to be truly inclusive: thus they will benefit from the full participation of believers who desire to share the message of Jesus and the values of human dignity which his teaching promotes.  Believers are increasingly aware that, unless the Good News is made known also in the digital world, it may be absent in the experience of many people for whom this existential space is important.  The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young.  Social networks are the result of human interaction, but for their part they also reshape the dynamics of communication which builds relationships: a considered understanding of this environment is therefore the prerequisite for a significant presence there.

The ability to employ the new languages is required, not just to keep up with the times, but precisely in order to enable the infinite richness of the Gospel to find forms of expression capable of reaching the minds and hearts of all.  In the digital environment the written word is often accompanied by images and sounds.  Effective communication, as in the parables of Jesus, must involve the imagination and the affectivity of those we wish to invite to an encounter with the mystery of God’s love.  Besides, we know that Christian tradition has always been rich in signs and symbols: I think for example of the Cross, icons, images of the Virgin Mary, Christmas cribs, stained-glass windows and pictures in our churches.  A significant part of mankind’s artistic heritage has been created by artists and musicians who sought to express the truths of the faith.

In social networks, believers show their authenticity by sharing the profound source of their hope and joy: faith in the merciful and loving God revealed in Christ Jesus.  This sharing consists not only in the explicit expression of their faith, but also in their witness, in the way in which they communicate “choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically” (Message for the 2011 World Communications Day).  A particularly significant way of offering such witness will be through a willingness to give oneself to others by patiently and respectfully engaging their questions and their doubts as they advance in their search for the truth and the meaning of human existence.  The growing dialogue in social networks about faith and belief confirms the importance and relevance of religion in public debate and in the life of society.

For those who have accepted the gift of faith with an open heart, the most radical response to mankind’s questions about love, truth and the meaning of life – questions certainly not absent from social networks – are found in the person of Jesus Christ.  It is natural for those who have faith to desire to share it, respectfully and tactfully, with those they meet in the digital forum.  Ultimately, however, if our efforts to share the Gospel bring forth good fruit, it is always because of the power of the word of God itself to touch hearts, prior to any of our own efforts.  Trust in the power of God’s work must always be greater than any confidence we place in human means.  In the digital environment, too, where it is easy for heated and divisive voices to be raised and where sensationalism can at times prevail, we are called to attentive discernment.  Let us recall in this regard that Elijah recognized the voice of God not in the great and strong wind, not in the earthquake or the fire, but in “a still, small voice”  (1 Kg 19:11-12).  We need to trust in the fact that the basic human desire to love and to be loved, and to find meaning and truth – a desire which God himself has placed in the heart of every man and woman – keeps our contemporaries ever open to what Blessed Cardinal Newman called the “kindly light” of faith.

Social networks, as well as being a means of evangelization, can also be a factor in human development.  As an example, in some geographical and cultural contexts where Christians feel isolated, social networks can reinforce their sense of real unity with the worldwide community of believers.  The networks facilitate the sharing of spiritual and liturgical resources, helping people to pray with a greater sense of closeness to those who share the same faith.  An authentic and interactive engagement with the questions and the doubts of those who are distant from the faith should make us feel the need to nourish, by prayer and reflection, our faith in the presence of God as well as our practical charity: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor 13:1).

In the digital world there are social networks which offer our contemporaries opportunities for prayer, meditation and sharing the word of God.  But these networks can also open the door to other dimensions of faith.  Many people are actually discovering, precisely thanks to a contact initially made online, the importance of direct encounters, experiences of community and even pilgrimage, elements which are always important in the journey of faith.  In our effort to make the Gospel present in the digital world, we can invite people to come together for prayer or liturgical celebrations in specific places such as churches and chapels.  There should be no lack of coherence or unity in the expression of our faith and witness to the Gospel in whatever reality we are called to live, whether physical or digital.  When we are present to others, in any way at all, we are called to make known the love of God to the furthest ends of the earth.

I pray that God’s Spirit will accompany you and enlighten you always, and I cordially impart my blessing to all of you, that you may be true heralds and witnesses of the Gospel.  “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15).

From the Vatican, 24 January 2013, Feast of Saint Francis de Sales.