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Saturday 3 August 2013

A Happy Seminarian at Lourdes

We need more happy sems. Please pray for vocations and for this young man. Thanks.

Because God Deserves Proper Worship

I was reminded of this architect because of another blog. Take a look. This is what we need for renewal in the liturgy.

Dark Night of The Soul Part 23

This  stripping of all attachments is painful. But, one must understand what is happening. It is not depression or sadness. The life of God is in the purification. If one is depressed, one is not experiencing the dark night, but something else, either physical or psychological. A good director must be found, or a confessor who understands the road to perfection. Here are more of St. John's words.

3. Therefore, since these proficients are still at a very low stage of progress, and follow their own nature closely in the intercourse and dealings which they have with God, because the gold of their spirit is not yet purified and refined, they still think of God as little children, and speak of God as little children, and feel and experience God as little children, even as Saint Paul says,106 because they have not reached perfection, which is the union of the soul with God. In the state of union, however, they will work great things in the spirit, even as grown men, and their works and faculties will then be Divine rather than human, as will afterwards be said. To this end God is pleased to strip them of this old man and clothe them with the new man, who is created according to God, as the Apostle says,107 in the newness of sense. He strips their faculties, affections and feelings, both spiritual and sensual, both outward and inward, leaving the understanding dark, the will dry, the memory empty and the affections in the deepest affliction, bitterness and constraint, taking from the soul the pleasure and experience of spiritual blessings which it had aforetime, in order to make of this privation one of the principles which are requisite in the spirit so that there may be introduced into it and united with it the spiritual form of the spirit, which is the union of love. All this the Lord works in the soul by means of a pure and dark contemplation, as the soul explains in the first stanza. This, although we originally interpreted it with reference to the first night of sense, is principally understood by the soul of this second night of the spirit, since this is the principal part of the purification of the soul. And thus we shall set it down and expound it here again in this sense.

In case you missed the psychological warfare posts...

Are you thinking like a Catholic?

The Dark Night of The Soul Part 22

The Dark Night of the Spirit is more exacting than the Dark Night of the Senses.  Here is John of the Cross and my comments in blue.

THESE proficients have two kinds of imperfection: the one kind is habitual; the other actual. The habitual imperfections are the imperfect habits and affections which have remained all the time in the spirit, and are like roots, to which the purgation of sense has been unable to penetrate. The difference between the purgation of these and that of this other kind is the difference between the root and the branch, or between the removing of a stain which is fresh and one which is old and of long standing. For, as we said, the purgation of sense is only the entrance and beginning of contemplation leading to the purgation of the spirit, which, as we have likewise said, serves rather to accommodate sense to spirit than to unite spirit with God. But there still remain in the spirit the stains of the old man, although the spirit thinks not that this is so, neither can it perceive them; if these stains be not removed with the soap and strong lye of the purgation of this night, the spirit will be unable to come to the purity of Divine union.
Again, if we do not cooperate with these graces on earth, this type of purgation will be done in purgatory, for only the perfect see God. The roots of all imperfections must be dug out of the mind, the heart, and the soul.
The most common nasty root is pride.
2. These souls have likewise the hebetudo mentis104 and the natural roughness which every man contracts through sin, and the distraction and outward clinging of the spirit, which must be enlightened, refined and recollected by the afflictions and perils of that night. These habitual imperfections belong to all those who have not passed beyond this state of the proficient; they cannot coexist, as we say, with the perfect state of union through love.
We have no clue as to the love that God has for us, and therefore, we shrink back, again and again, in to the petty knee-jerk reactions of the habits of sin. 
3. To actual imperfections all are not liable in the same way. Some, whose spiritual good is so superficial and so readily affected by sense, fall into greater difficulties and dangers, which we described at the beginning of this treatise. For, as they find so many and such abundant spiritual communications and apprehensions, both in sense and in spirit wherein they often times see imaginary and spiritual visions (for all these things, together with other delectable feelings, come to many souls in this state, wherein the devil and their own fancy very commonly practise deceptions on them), and, as the devil is apt to take such pleasure in impressing upon the soul and suggesting to it the said apprehensions and feelings, he fascinates and deludes it with great ease unless it takes the precaution of resigning itself to God, and of protecting itself strongly, by means of faith, from all these visions and feelings. For in this state the devil causes many to believe in vain visions and false prophecies; and strives to make them presume that God and the saints are speaking with them; and they often trust their own fancy. And the devil is also accustomed, in this state, to fill them with presumption and pride, so that they become attracted by vanity and arrogance, and allow themselves to be seen engaging in outward acts which appear holy, such as raptures and other manifestations. Thus they become bold with God, and lose holy fear, which is the key and the custodian of all the virtues; and in some of these souls so many are the falsehoods and deceits which tend to multiply, and so inveterate do they grow, that it is very doubtful if such souls will return to the pure road of virtue and true spirituality. Into these miseries they fall because they are beginning to give themselves over to spiritual feelings and apprehensions with too great security, when they were beginning to make some progress upon the way.
Where do I start? How many good Catholics have I seen fall into terrible new age and charismatic rivers of false visions and heresies? Such is the danger of spiritual pride and spiritual envy. The seeking after gifts is a dead-end of deceit, as real holiness lies in the denial of self and humility.
4. There is much more that I might say of these imperfections and of how they are the more incurable because such souls consider them to be more spiritual than the others, but I will leave this subject. I shall only add, in order to prove how necessary, for him that would go farther, is the night of the spirit, which is purgation, that none of these proficients, however strenuously he may have laboured, is free, at best, from many of those natural affections and imperfect habits, purification from which, we said, is necessary if a soul is to pass to Divine union.
To be cleansed in the spirit is necessary for why should God entrust Himself to those who are full of vanity and pride? He knows and will come to those who want Him for His own sake and not for their own selfishness. Is this not the mark of true love? I have made the mistake of confusing a man's love of himself for love of me. He wanted a lovely woman to grace his arm, make him look good in public, and generally feed his ego.
This is what we do to God if we are expecting Him to love us for our own selfish reasons, instead of loving Him for Him alone. This is why He allows us to be purified, so that we can love Him with His Own Love.
5. And over and above this (as we have said already), inasmuch as the lower part of the soul still has a share in these spiritual communications, they cannot be as intense, as pure and as strong as is needful for the aforesaid union; wherefore, in order to come to this union, the soul must needs enter into the second night of the spirit, wherein it must strip sense and spirit perfectly from all these apprehensions and from all sweetness, and be made to walk in dark and pure faith, which is the proper and adequate means whereby the soul is united with God, according as Osee says, in these words: ‘I will betroth thee—that is, I will unite thee—with Me through faith.’
This road of darkness is dark, indeed, but not without the consolation that one is walking in faith towards the Bridegroom.
As long as one walks, continues, in faith, one is like the Bride in the Song of Songs, looking for the One her soul seeks. And, if one seeks, God will let Himself be found.

May I give an example? I grew up on the Mississippi River. I also lived for some time near the Wapsipinicon River. At some times during the year, as in early January, the mist or fog is so deep and wide the rivers are hidden, completely. Yet, because I knew the territory, the terrain, I knew the rivers were there, under the fog and mist.
When the mist disappeared and the fog lifted, I could see both of these rivers again. Sometimes the lifting was slow and gradual. Sometimes, this clearing happened quickly, before one's eyes. One can be travelling towards the bluffs, the cliffs, the mighty waters and towering bridges and not see a thing until one is on the and over the river. One trusts, because one knows, and loves.
So, too, is the Presence of God in the Dark Night. One knows He is there, always, as before, constant, strong, true. But, one cannot see Him, until He desires that the mist and fog of my soul is lifted.

The Dark Night Part 21

One actually is able to rest in suffering and in the lack of consolations. The humble can rest in this place of affliction. Mother Teresa obviously had to do this in patience and in love, waiting on God all those years. Why God makes some wait and pulls some along quickly is a mystery of grace. The timing does not matter. A very young person can achieve this holiness. St. John states this, and over this weekend, I shall go on to the second part, the purification of the spirit-the Second Dark Night.

But the souls which are to pass on to that happy and high estate, the union of love, are wont as a rule to remain for a long time in these aridities and temptations, however quickly God may lead them, as has been seen by experience.

14. When the soul, then, knows that, in this arid purgation through which it has passed, it has derived and attained so many and such precious benefits as those which have here been described, it tarries not in crying, as in the stanza of which we are expounding the lines, ‘Oh, happy chance!—I went forth without being observed.’ That is, ‘I went forth’ from the bonds and subjection of the desires of sense and the affections, ‘without being observed’—that is to say, without the three enemies aforementioned being able to keep me from it. These enemies, as we have said, bind the soul as with bonds, in its desires and pleasures, and prevent it from going forth from itself to the liberty of the love of God; and without these desires and pleasures they cannot give battle to the soul, as has been said.
15. When, therefore, the four passions of the soul—which are joy, grief, hope and fear—are calmed through continual mortification; when the natural desires have been lulled to sleep, in the sensual nature of the soul, by means of habitual times of aridity; and when the harmony of the senses and the interior faculties causes a suspension of labour and a cessation from the work of meditation, as we have said (which is the dwelling and the household of the lower part of the soul), these enemies cannot obstruct this spiritual liberty, and the house remains at rest and quiet, as says the following line:
My house being now at rest.
 WHEN this house of sensuality was now at rest—that is, was mortified—its passions being quenched and its desires put to rest and lulled to sleep by means of this blessed night of the purgation of sense, the soul went forth, to set out upon the road and way of the spirit, which is that of progressives and proficients, and which, by another name, is called the way of illumination or of infused contemplation, wherein God Himself feeds and refreshes the soul, without meditation, or the soul’s active help. Such, as we have said, is the night and purgation of sense in the soul. In those who have afterwards to enter the other and more formidable night of the spirit, in order to pass to the Divine union of love of God (for not all pass habitually thereto, but only the smallest number), it is wont to be accompanied by formidable trials and temptations of sense, which last for a long time, albeit longer in some than in others. For to some the angel of Satan presents himself—namely, the spirit of fornication—that he may buffet their senses with abominable and violent temptations, and trouble their spirits with vile considerations and representations which are most visible to the imagination, which things at times are a greater affliction to them than death.
2. At other times in this night there is added to these things the spirit of blasphemy, which roams abroad, setting in the path of all the conceptions and thoughts of the soul intolerable blasphemies. These it sometimes suggests to the imagination with such violence that the soul almost utters them, which is a grave torment to it.
3. At other times another abominable spirit, which Isaias calls Spiritus vertiginis,95 is allowed to molest them, not in order that they may fall, but that it may try them. This spirit darkens their senses in such a way that it fills them with numerous scruples and perplexities, so confusing that, as they judge, they can never, by any means, be satisfied concerning them, neither can they find any help for their judgment in counsel or thought. This is one of the severest goads and horrors of this night, very closely akin to that which passes in the night of the spirit.
4. As a rule these storms and trials are sent by God in this night and purgation of sense to those whom afterwards He purposes to lead into the other night (though not all reach it), to the end that, when they have been chastened and buffeted, they may in this way continually exercise and prepare themselves, and continually accustom their senses and faculties to the union of wisdom which is to be bestowed upon them in that other night. For, if the soul be not tempted, exercised and proved with trials and temptations, it cannot quicken its sense of Wisdom. For this reason it is said in Ecclesiasticus: ‘He that has not been tempted, what does he know? And he that has not been proved, what are the things that he recognizes?’96 To this truth Jeremias bears good witness, saying: ‘Thou didst chastise me, Lord, and I was instructed.97 And the most proper form of this chastisement, for one who will enter into Wisdom, is that of the interior trials which we are here describing, inasmuch as it is these which most effectively purge sense of all favours and consolations to which it was affected, with natural weakness, and by which the soul is truly humiliated in preparation for the exaltation which it is to experience.

The Dark Night of The Soul and The Virtues Part 20

John of the Cross writes here that the Four Cardinal virtues come into play at this time of the Dark Night. Again, St. David is his example. We receive all the virtues in Baptism and these are strengthened in Confirmation. The Illuminative State is the stage of the virtues finally being manifested in the soul. However, man through natural law, knows the Cardinal Virtues, as did the Greeks, noted in Plato. Aristotle and Cicero, for examples. However, just as we are supernaturalized, so are our virtues. As before, I direct you to Josef Pieper's The Four Cardinal Virtues, which I have used in teaching in the past.

5. There is another very great benefit for the soul in this night, which is that it practices several virtues together, as, for example, patience and longsuffering, which are often called upon in these times of emptiness and aridity, when the soul endures and perseveres in its spiritual exercises without consolation and without pleasure. It practises the charity of God, since it is not now moved by the pleasure of attraction and sweetness which it finds in its work, but only by God. It likewise practises here the virtue of fortitude, because, in these difficulties and insipidities which it finds in its work, it brings strength out of weakness and thus becomes strong. All the virtues, in short—the theological and also the cardinal and moral—both in body and in spirit, are practised by the soul in these times of aridity.
6. And that in this night the soul obtains these four benefits which we have here described (namely, delight of peace, habitual remembrance and thought of God, cleanness and purity of soul and the practice of the virtues which we have just described), David tells us, having experienced it himself when he was in this night, in these words: ‘My soul refused consolations, I had remembrance of God, I found consolation and was exercised and my spirit failed.’92 And he then says: ‘And I meditated by night with my heart and was exercised, and I swept and purified my spirit’—that is to say, from all the affections.93
7. With respect to the imperfections of the other three spiritual sins which we have described above, which are wrath, envy and sloth, the soul is purged hereof likewise in this aridity of the desire and acquires the virtues opposed to them; for, softened and humbled by these aridities and hardships and other temptations and trials wherein God exercises it during this night, it becomes meek with respect to God, and to itself, and likewise with respect to its neighbour. So that it is no longer disturbed and angry with itself because of its own faults, nor with its neighbour because of his, neither is it displeased with God, nor does it utter unseemly complaints because He does not quickly make it holy.

One finally accepts one\s self as a sinner and is not surprised by sins or imperfections.

The Puppet Show of Religious Activity

The Second Conversion Revisited and A Warning on Looking at The Correct Fruit

Continuing with the purification of the senses and spirit, here is Garrigou-Lagrange again.

The author warns us to be radically simple. But, this is not being stupid or childish. My comments in blue below.

The necessity of a second conversion arises from all that remains in us of often unconscious egoism which mingles in the greater number of our acts. In a number of people this necessity comes from their unwillingness to be considered naive and their failure to recognize sufficiently the naivete of a superior simplicity which should grow in them. As a result, they become less simple and true with God, their superiors, and themselves. They lose sight practically of the grandeur of the theological virtues, of the importance of humility; then they no longer understand Christ's words: "Unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Under the pretext of prudence, they begin to consider the little aspects of great things and to see less and less the great aspect of the daily duties of Christian life and the value of fidelity in little things. They forget that the day is composed of hours and the hour of minutes. They neglect a number of their obligations and gradually, in place of the radical simplicity of a gaze that was already lofty, a simplicity which should become that of contemplation, they find themselves in the quasi-learned complexity of a waning knowledge.

This situation of losing spiritual knowledge can happen if a person is pursuing God in the wrong ways. Careerists in diocesan offices, or schools, or even parishes lose spiritual knowledge when they think that what they are doing is who they are.

On this subject Father Lallemant says: "In religion (itself) there is a little world, the component parts of which are the esteem of human talents, of important employments, offices, and positions, the love and search for glory and applause, for rest and a calm life.

In the spiritual life, there is no such thing as retirement.

 These are the things the demon uses as a puppet show to amuse and deceive us. He sets it all in motion before our eyes in such a way that we dwell on it and let ourselves be seduced, preferring vain appearances to true and solid goods." (18)

To fall into the deceit of thinking we are on our way to holiness when in reality we are merely pleasing ourselves spiritually is a huge danger.

Human talents are indeed often preferred to the great supernatural virtues. The same author adds: "Only prayer can protect us from this delusion. Prayer it is that teaches us to judge of things in a holy manner, to look at them in the light of truth, which dissipates their false splendor and their spurious charms."

I have been and am still totally against these seminars in the States on talents and gifts. The presentations missed the entire point of holiness and make people look constantly at themselves instead of at Christ.

When these first came out years ago, I had a gut revulsion against the ideas and focus on me, me, me and my gifts. None of these gifts are worth anything if the person is not first purified. Only God's gifts can be used in a pure heart and pure mind and pure soul.

Elsewhere he says: "We commit more than a hundred acts of pride in a day without, so to speak, being aware of it." (19) The ruin of souls results from the multiplication of venial sins, which causes the diminution of divine lights or inspirations.(20) Nor is it sufficient to direct our attention toward God as an afterthought, if our act remains entirely natural and our heart is not truly offered to God. A superficial oblation of self does not suffice; there must be a genuine new conversion, a turning of the heart toward God.(21)

This second conversion is more dramatic than the first, as it demands a complete awareness of one's worthlessness. It demands humility.

The fruits of this second conversion are pointed out by the same author in the course of advice to preachers: "People kill themselves dying to produce fine sermons, and yet they reap scarcely any fruit. What is the reason? It is because preaching is just as much a supernatural function as the salvation of souls to which it is directed, and the instrument must be proportioned to the end. . . . The majority of preachers have sufficient learning, but they have not enough devotion or sanctity.

Here we have a priest telling us that priests are not as holy as they should be or not at all. Do we not see this today?

"The true means of acquiring the science of the saints. . . is to have recourse not so much to books as to interior humility, purity of heart, recollection, and prayer. . . . When a soul has attained to entire purity of heart, God Himself instructs it, at times by the unction of spiritual consolations and tastes, at other times by gentle and affectionate lights, which teach it better how to speak to the hearts of its auditors than study and other human means can. . . . But we cannot get rid of our own sufficiency, nor abandon ourselves to God.

I know people who are paying for information from groups which are not even orthodox-supposed gifting seminars and such. These are dangerous and have nothing to do with purity of heart.

If someone is charging you for spiritual direction or healing seminars, these people are careerists who have not abandoned themselves to God, Who always works freely and calls for humility, not spiritual pride.

The Second Conversion comes with a cost-complete devotion to God and His Will.