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Tuesday 17 September 2013

What is good is seen as evil and what is evil is seen as good

Heart and Head Knowledge Series

Start at bottom and move up...

Pay Attention, Catholics and Learn Your Faith

Doctors of the Church on Hell

'Since their eternal happiness, consisting in the vision of God, exceeds the common state of nature, and especially in so far as this is deprived of grace through the corruption of original sin, those who are saved are in the minority. In this especially, however, appears the mercy of God, that He has chosen some for that salvation, from which very many in accordance with the common course and tendency of nature fall short.' 

St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church

'Live with the few if you want to reign with the few.' 
St. John Climacus, Father of the Church

'If you wish to imitate the multitude, then you shall not be among the few who shall enter in by the narrow gate.' 

St. Augustine, Doctor and Father of the Church

'Do you not perceive how many qualities a priest must have that he may be strong in his teaching, patient, and hold fast to the faithful word which is according to doctrine? What care and pains does this require! Moreover, he is answerable for the sins of others. To pass over everything else: If but one soul dies without Baptism, does it not entirely endanger his own salvation? For the loss of one soul is so great an evil that it is impossible to express it in words. For if the salvation of that soul was of such value that the Son of God became man and suffered so much, think of how great a punishment must the losing of it bring.' 
St. John Chrysostom, Doctor and Father of the Church

'We were so fortunate to be born in the bosom of the Roman Church, in Christian and Catholic kingdoms, a grace that has not been granted to the greater part of men, who are born among idolaters, Mohammedans, or heretics. . . How thankful we ought to be, then, to Jesus Christ for the gift of faith! What would have become of us if we had been born in Asia, in Africa, in America, or in the midst of heretics and schismatic? He who does not believe is lost. He who does not believe shall be condemned. And thus, probably, we also would have been lost.' 
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Doctor of the Church

In the Great Deluge in the days of Noah, nearly all mankind perished, eight persons alone being saved in the Ark. In our days a deluge, not of water but of sins, continually inundates the earth, and out of this deluge very few escape. Scarcely anyone is saved.' 
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Doctor of the Church

'How few the Elect are may be understood from the multitude being cast out.' 
St. Hilary of Poitiers, Doctor and Father of the Church

'There are many who arrive at the faith, but few who are led into the heavenly kingdom. Behold how many are gathered here for today's Feast-Day: we fill the church from wall to wall. Yet who knows how few they are who shall be numbered in that chosen company of the Elect?' 
Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor and Father of the Church

'The greater part of men will set no value on the blood of Christ, and will go on offending Him.' 
St. Isidore of Seville, Doctor and Father of the Church

'They who are to be saved as Saints, and wish to be saved as imperfect souls, shall not be saved.' 
Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor and Father of the Church

'. . . let us bear in mind that unless we are humble we shall not only do no good, but we shall not be saved. "Unless you . . . become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." In order, then, to enter into the kingdom of heaven, we must become children, not in age, but in humility. St. Gregory says that as pride is a sign of reprobation, so humility is a mark of predestination.' 
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Doctor of the Church

'It is certain that few are saved.' 
St. Augustine, Doctor and Father of the Church

'Many begin well, but there are few who persevere.' 
St. Jerome, Doctor and Father of the Church

'What is the number of those who love Thee, O God? How few they are! The Elect are much fewer than the damned! Alas! The greater portion of mankind lives in sin unto the devil, and not unto Jesus Christ. O Saviour of the world, I thank Thee for having called and permitted us to live in the true faith which the Holy Roman Catholic Church teaches. . . But alas, O my Jesus! How small is the number of those who live in this holy faith! Oh, God! The greater number of men he buried in the darkness of infidelity and heresy. Thou hast humbled Thyself to death, to the death of the cross, for the salvation of men, and these ungrateful men are unwilling even to know Thee. Ah, I pray Thee, O omnipotent God, O sovereign and infinite Good, make all men know and love Thee!' 
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Doctor of the Church

'Out of one hundred thousand sinners who continue in sin until death, scarcely one will be saved.' 
St. Jerome, Doctor and Father of the Church

'It is certainly a great happiness for some sinners who after a bad life are converted at their death, and are saved; but these cases are very rare: ordinarily he that leads a bad life dies a bad death.' 

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Doctor of the Church

'So that you will better appreciate the meaning of Our Lord's words, and perceive more clearly how few the Elect are, note that Christ did not say that those who walked in the path to Heaven are few in number, but that there were few who found that narrow way. It is as though the Saviour intended to say: The path leading to Heaven is so narrow and so rough, so overgrown, so dark and difficult to discern, that there are many who never find it their whole life long. And those who do find it are constantly exposed to the danger of deviating from it, of mistaking their way, and unwittingly wandering away from it, because it is so irregular and overgrown.' 
St. Jerome, Doctor and Father of the Church

'I do not speak rashly, but as I feel and think. I do not think that many bishops are saved, but that those who perish are far more numerous.' 
St. John Chrysostom, Doctor and Father of the Church

'The Apostle commands us to rejoice, but in the Lord, not in the world. For, you see, as Scripture says, whoever wishes to be a friend of this world will be counted as God's enemy. Just as a man cannot serve two masters, so too no-one can rejoice both in the world and in the Lord.' 
St. Augustine, Doctor and Father of the Church

More Thoughts on An Autumn Day

"Nothing afflicts the heart of Jesus so much as to see all His sufferings of no avail to so many." 

St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney, the Cure of Ars

Thoughts on A Somber Day

'Alas, my friend. We cannot be together in Heaven unless we have begun to live so in this world. Death makes no change in that. As the tree falls, so shall it lie. . . Jesus Christ said . . . "He that does not hear the Church, let him be to thee as a heathen and a publican." And he also said, "There shall be one fold and one shepherd," and He made St. Peter the chief shepherd of His flock. My dear friend, there are not two ways of serving Jesus Christ. There is only one good way, and that is to serve Him as He Himself desires to be served.'

St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney, the Cure of Ars

Thoughts on An Autumn Day

"Shall we all be saved? Shall we go to Heaven? Alas, my children, we do not know at all! But I tremble when I see so many souls lost these days. See, they fall into Hell as leaves fall from the trees at the approach of winter." 
St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney, the Cure of Ars

Humility is Self-Knowledge

I taught for many, many years. I taught the creme de la creme at Notre Dame and Bristol as well as at risk students. I loved my students and enjoyed teaching to the very last day, late in December, 2010.
I was teaching three classes that last semester at two different campuses. In one of the classes, I had at risk students. These were students who were coming from families in which no one has been to college before, and there were special needs. Sometimes these students had a history of failures, and this was their last chance to pass core courses. Sometimes they were coming out of drug addictions, or abusive families.

In that class, there was a young woman who was struggling from day one. Despite tutoring and time management help, she could not keep up with the work. Her work was consistently substandard. She just could not manage the level and demands of the course.

One day, I called her aside. She was very upset at yet another failed paper. She was beside herself, as nothing, not extra attention or tutoring had helped. She was an unhappy person. I said to her, "This course is too hard for you. Why are you in nursing, which demands this course? How are you doing in your other courses?"  She told me all the courses required for nursing were too hard for her. She was failing three classes. She told me that her college counselor and her family wanted her to be a nurse.

"What do you want to do?" I asked her. She looked at me surprised. "I want to work in a pre-school and be a teacher's assistant. That is what I really want to do, work with little children."

I told her that she should do what she wanted to do, what was on her heart. She told me that people wanted her to make more money, get a better, higher degree.

"You cannot do that, " I told her, knowing that she had neither the talents nor will for a more rigorous set of courses. "You are a wonderful person and you do not have to prove yourself to anyone. You can be and do what is in your heart," I said.

The young woman began to cry, "No one has ever talked to me like this before," she said. "No one has asked me what I wanted to do and what I could do. I felt inferior and that I had to do these hard things. No one has told me I was worth anything."

I told her to go down to the academic counselor's office and change majors. Her whole face lit up. It was as if a heavy burden had left her.

"You will be a good and happy person no matter what you do, but you must be who you are."  I said.

She was so thankful, I could hardly keep from tears myself.

She was trying to be something she was not made to be. She was trying to please others and meet others expectations. She was not allowed to be honest with herself.

She needed permission to be herself.

Once it dawned on her that being a teacher's assistant was not only acceptable, but a good course for her to follow, she changed from a sad person into one with hope in her face. She knew what she was capable of doing, and I did as well.

I am sure she is happy being the person God created her to be.

Pretending to be something else than what one is created to be may be pride. It may be that no one has allowed one to be second best instead of the best. It could be that no one has touched the inner dreams, but only made someone else into another's own image and likeness. Parents do this. Some spouses do this.

Humility is self-knowledge. It is also freedom. This young woman was happy to be herself, and she was happy to be allowed to be herself. How many young people are forced into the image and likeness of their parents, instead of the parent really seeing who the child is and what talents God has given that person?

Affirmation cannot be imposed, but comes from humility-the humility of a student, a parent, even a teacher.

When we are honest about who we are, the talents given to us, the small things God has asked us to do, we shall not only be happier, but spread that happiness to others.

I have seen many young people ruined by their parents' expectations. I have heard the pain in their voices when they told me that their parents would pay for medical school, but not for something less, and they did not want to be doctors.

The tyranny of a parent's expectations can kill real talents. I know a man who is a very gifted artist. But, his family insisted that he would go into the family line of engineering. This man has never been happy with himself, or his role in society. He did not have the courage to buck the trend, to say, "This is who I am, a painter, not an engineer."

It is the duty of parents to pray and ask God to reveal the gifts of their children and then to cooperate with God in developing those gifts. Sometimes, there is too much family pride to admit that a daughter really wants to be a lowly (as her parents thought) teacher's assistant, and is made by God to work with pre-schoolers. Does it matter?

Being a parent is hard. One must be alert. One must be humble.

See also,

When To Speak/When To Suffer in Silence

Many of us who have worked in the Church for years either in paid or volunteer positions, had to make decisions to follow our consciences rather than compromise with seriously unorthodox, even evil situations.

When one is faced with real evil, especially inside the Church, either in chancery offices, schools, committees, universities, one has to decide how to deal with the evil.

Sometimes, one can speak about the evil and have redress to justice. Sometimes not.

When does one speak and when does one remain silent?

As we all know, silence is consent, so if a situation is truly serious, one may not have a choice to speak or not.

Ask this question? Is the remedy to this situation part of my responsibility?

Am I responsible for what is happening here as well as those above me?

Am I in this role because God allowed me to see these things and directly to deal with them?

Why do I see these things clearly and others not? Is that a gift for bringing light into darkness?

Let me give you three examples.

Someone I highly respect married into a family where the men had become 33rd degree Masons for generations. The man she married broke the chain and did not follow his ancestors into Masonry. Why? Because his wife, my friend, asked him not to do so, and explained the Church's teaching on Masonry. He listened, and did not walk in the footsteps of his dad, grandfather, uncles, and brothers.

The woman told me years later that she knew that God had called her into that family for the purpose of stopping the generational sins. She and her husband have an excellent marriage, one of the best. They have six children, all practicing Catholics as adults. God blessed them.

That was a time to speak.

Another friend of mine was working for a religious order. He found out about something very wrong-a lavender mafia. Although he did not say anything except to his immediate manager, afterwards he was fired suddenly without warning. He had a contract and his friends told him to sue the order for breach of contract.
He did not. He decided to remain silent about the injustice done to him and move on. He and his family suffered for quiet awhile from unemployment. But, this man could not sue a religious order, even one which fired him so unjustly.

That was a time to be silent.

The third situation involved a sweet, quiet woman I knew. She was a traditional Catholic and brought her children to the Latin Mass. However, her husband had refused to become a Catholic after many years of marriage. This was a great cause of pain for her. Yet, she did not argue with him or berate him. He never, never went to Mass with the family, but he did let her take the children. He was not kind to her about her faith.

On a Tuesday night in the winter, this good woman suffered a brain hemorrhage. She was rushed to the hospital, but died on the way in the ambulance early Wednesday morning, about two. She was about 52 years old. She was mourned by all her friends. On Thursday, her husband went to the priest and asked to be accepted into the Church. He made his First Confession. On the Friday morning, the day of her TLM Requiem, her husband made his First Holy Communion, kneeling at the altar rail next to his wife's casket. All knew this was a miracle of grace. Her silence, example of meekness and kindness had been rewarded.

Time to speak, time to be silent.

I agree with these different decisions. I think God can give us wisdom in some situations, but in others, we cannot honestly predict how people will react to honesty, or light being shown on a sinful situation. In all these type of situations, we endure pain

Life is unjust, even in Church circles, even in marriage, and each one of us must decide how to deal with pain, betrayal, injustice, sin.

There is no easy answer, only heroic virtue.

City of God-One

The Fall of Rome is the huge paradigm for decadence leading to a fall of a civilization, which was the basis for Western culture, law, architecture for centuries. The Catholic Church created European civilization and the weakening of the Church will end it.

There are several types of people who being about the downfall of civilizations. Rome was full of these types.

Those who were morally decadent and only cared about pleasure. This group included the rich and the poor, those in power and those who were given the bread and circuses.

The next group would have been the apathetic, those who disengaged themselves from the civilization.

Another group would be the opportunists, seeking power from another source rather than the status quo.

Of course, we have the barbarians at the gate, who took advantage of a weakening civilization.

But, everyone wanted to blame the Christians, which is why St. Augustine wrote the City of God. If you have not read this classic,De Civitate Dei contra Paganos, do it now. 

All Catholics should read this book and I had the joy of teaching it a long time ago at a Catholic college. 

Augustine wrote it for two reasons: one, to prove to the pagans that the Christians were not responsible for the Fall of Rome; and two, to help the Christians understand their own place in salvation history.

Imagine the shock of the most sophisticated, prosperous, organized people in the world to date facing cities in flames, a complete collapse of the infrastructure, and financial ruin.

Imagine the shock of a people who were proud to be Romans. To be a Roman citizen was "it". 

Even St. Paul was not only proud to be a Roman citizen by birth, and not by bribery or sale, but also he knew his rights and privileges as such. 

Perhaps those people my parents' age who remember the fall of Europe to the Nazis and.or the Soviets are the only ones in modern times who can identify with the great shock of the destruction of a nation, more than a nation, and entire world.

I do not rejoice in the fall of the West. The West has its basis in Christianity and Rome. When Europe and America fail, the last vestiges of the civilization from Rome will finally be swept from the earth.

A tragedy, indeed.....and this is a little mini-series on City of God.

to be can read about St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, in my perfection series....