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Tuesday 10 December 2013

Advent Thoughts on Death Part Seven

In this mini-series, I have moved from thoughts of suffering and death, to the process of dying and now, to the particular judgment.

Many people have no just fear of God. They look on Jesus only as a friend and not as a judge. They do not understand the Scriptures that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity will come gain to judge the living and the dead.

We will be in one or the other category.

But, before that General Judgment is our Particular Judgment, a long-standing teaching of the Catholic Church. As I have noted, some people I have talked with in Europe have told me they have already experienced their particular judgment. One person I know in America has told me she has as well.

In their experience of this particular judgment, they have seen all the sins of their past life and all the people they have hurt though sin. One may told me he sobbed for three days and repented, asking God for purification.

Ask for this grace now, rather than later, in order to be made into a saint, now.

Here is St. Alphonsus on the particular judgment.

1. It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this 
the judgment.1 It is of faith, that immediately after death 
we shall be judged according to our works in this life. 
And it is also of faith, that upon this judgment will de- 
pend our eternal salvation or perdition. Imagine your- 
self to be in your agony, and to have only a short time 
to live. Think that in a short time you would then have 
to appear before Jesus Christ to give an account of your 
whole life. Alas! how alarming would the sight of your 
sins then be to you! 
Jesus, my Redeemer! pardon me, I beseech You, be- 
fore You judge me. I know that I have many times 
1 "Statutum est hominibus semel mori; post hoc autem, judicium." 
Heb. 9. 27. 
[34] already deserved to be sentenced to eternal death. 
No, I desire not to present myself guilty before You, but 
penitent and pardoned. O my sovereign good! I am 
grievously sorry for having offended You, 

2. O God! what will be the anguish of the soul when 
it shall first behold Jesus Christ as its judge, and behold 
him terrible in his wrath? It will then see how much 
he has suffered for its sake; it will see what great 
mercies he has exercised towards it, and what powerful 
means he has bestowed upon it for the attainment of 
salvation; then will it also see the greatness of eternal 
goods, and the vileness of earthly pleasures, which have 
wrought its ruin; it will then see all these things, but to 
no purpose, because then there will be no more time to 
correct its past errors; what shall have then been done 
will be irrevocable. Before the judgment seat of God, 
no nobility, nor dignity, nor riches will be considered; 
our works alone will be weighed there. 
Grant, O Jesus! that when I first behold You I may 
see You appeased; and, for this end, grant me the grace 
to weep, during the remainder of my life, over the evil 
which I have done in turning my back upon You, to 
follow my own sinful caprices. No, I desire never more 
to offend You. I love You and desire to love You 

3. What contentment will that Christian enjoy at the 
hour of death who has left the world to give himself to 
God; who has denied his senses all unlawful gratifica- 
tions: and who, if he has on some occasions been negligent, 
has at last been wise enough afterwards to do worthy 
penance for it! On the other hand, what anguish will 
that Christian experience who has continually relapsed 
into the same vices, and at last finds himself at the point 
of death! Then will he exclaim: "Alas! in a few moments 
I must appear before Jesus as my judge, and I have not 
as yet even begun to change my life! I have many times 
[35] promised to do so, but I have not done it; and now, in 
a short time, what will become of me?" 

Ah, my Jesus and my judge! I give You thanks for 
the patience with which You have until now waited for 
me. How many times have I myself written my own 
eternal condemnation . Since You have thus waited to 
pardon me, reject me not, now prostrate at Your feet. 
Receive me into Your favor through the merits of Your 
bitter Passion. I am sorry, my sovereign good! for hav- 
ing despised You. I love You above all things. I de- 
sire never more to forsake You. O Mary! recommend 
me to Your Son Jesus, and do not abandon me. 

To be continued....

The Perfection Series

Please take time to follow the Perfection Series on this blog....all about personal holiness. Follow the tags.

Big Post Day

16 to date--I cannot go anywhere today because of the weather, so on line in a warm place! And, no place to go today, anyway.

It is minus 20 F with the wind chill and there is a huge wind...even the birds are not out.

Many birds winter in Iowa: downy woodpeckers, chickadees, finches, cardinals and others.

All hiding today....

Anglicans push off vote on women bishops again

Repeat, repeat, repeat

For adults only again-interviews with the saints in Argentina

Repeat Post on St. Lucy Kats

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

St. Lucy Kats

Because I grew up in a family with long Catholic roots in Europe, I celebrated Advent in different ways than families where the customs had been interrupted by the Protestant Revolt. Now, thankfully, many of those customs have returned, including celebrating St. Nicholas Day and the Feast Day of St. Lucy. This feast day is celebrated on December 13th in these countries: 

Sweden, Norway, DenmarkEstonia
Spain and St. Lucia, West Indies (Wiki has this list).

I first made St. Lucy "Kats" or St. Lucy Buns in the 1970s after I moved to Minneapolis. One needs saffron, which is really expensive now, but here is a recipe for "Lussekatter" .

St. Lucy Kats

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes


  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. saffron threads, finely crumbled (or 1 tsp. powdered saffron)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 pkg. dry active yeast (4 1/2 tsp)
  • 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, well-beaten, plus one egg white
  • raisins or currants to decorate


Crumble saffron threads into melted butter. Let sit 30 minutes to an hour (this intensifies the saffron flavor).
Heat milk to a light boil, turning off heat when it reaches the scalding point (with small bubbles across the top). Stir in melted butter, sugar, and salt. Pour mixture into mixing bowl and allow to cool until “finger-warm” (still quite warm, but just cool enough to touch). Stir in yeast and let sit for 10 minutes.
Mix 3 1/2 cups flour into liquid. Stir in two well-beaten eggs. Add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough (just until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. You don't want to add too much flour).
Transfer dough to a large greased bowl and turn to coat all sides. Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch down risen dough. Lightly knead two or three times on a floured surface. Pinch off small handfuls of dough (about the size of a racquetball) and roll into "snakes." Shape snakes into "S"-shaped buns or other desired shapes (please see my photo gallery of Lucia buns for traditional examples). Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover with the towel again, and allow to rise until doubled (about an hour).
Decorate buns with raisins, brush with egg white, and bake in preheated 375ยบ oven about 15 minutes, just until brown. Yield: 20 St. Lucia Buns 

Immediate Prayers, Please

For a young man who is on suicide watch and needs immediate prayers. Thank you. He is in high school.

Important Reminder: Noon Prayer against World Hunger and Poverty

I cannot for some reason put the Pope's video on this blog-it is on YouTube.

In case you missed the Holy Father's request, he wants all Catholics in the world to stop at noon and pray against world hunger and poverty.

Please do so.  I am sorry I cannot show you the Papal video. Stop and pray....

Remember, when Christ multiplied the loaves and fishes, He was feeding people, not only giving us a symbol of the Eucharist.

Pray for Sad Ireland

A New Bill, called Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013 (but is really about assisted killing of people who areincapacitated) is currently being debated in Dail Eireann.  It was introduced by Kathleen Lynch.  If passed, it will give the Courts the authority to decide who should be euthanized and who should not.   This is the first step towards legalizing euthanasia in Ireland



Advent and Death Part 6

Many graces come out of suffering, but one of the most important is that of detachment. When one is facing death, either as a meditation, or in illness or old age, detachment from people, things, status allows one to face God with purity of heart.

Remember, only the perfect see God, and suffering remains an important part of the process of purification.

If you have been following the mini-series, you have been reading the snippets from St. Alphonsus.

Here is another one for today. I have looked at his writings on not abusing God's mercy and on the shortness of human life. This part is connected to detachment, for, if we do not lose ourselves now, we shall lose God for all eternity.

Thanks to the great men of Papa Stronsay for this picture.

The Pain of Loss 
1. The greatest pain of hell is not the fire nor the 
darkness, not the stench, nor any other of all the material 
torments of that dreadful prison of despair; it is the 
pain of loss - that is, the pain of having lost God which 
of itself may be said to constitute hell. The soul was 
created to be forever united with God, and to enjoy the 
sight of his enrapturing countenance. God is its last 
[32] end, its only good, so that all the goods of earth and 
heaven, without God, could not make it happy. Hence 
it is that if a condemned soul in hell could possess and 
love God, hell, with all its torments, would be to it a 
paradise. But this will be its greatest punishment, 
which will render it forever inconceivably miserable, to 
be deprived of God for all eternity, without the least 
hope of ever again beholding him or loving him. 
Jesus, my Redeemer! nailed to the cross for my sake, 
You are my hope; oh that I had died rather than offended 
2. The soul, being created for God, has an instinctive 
tendency to become united with its sovereign good, its 
God; but being united with the body, when it wallows 
in iniquity, it becomes so darkened by the created ob- 
jects which allure the senses that it loses its sight, 
and has so little knowledge of God as no longer to desire to 
be united with him. But when separated from the body, 
and from sensible objects, then it will know that God is 
the only good that can render it happy. Therefore, as 
soon as it shall have departed from here, it will feel itself 
drawn with most powerful attraction towards a union 
with God; but having left this life an enemy of God, it will 
be not only kept back from him by its sins, as by a chain, 
but dragged by them into hell, there to be forever sepa- 
rated and at a distance from God. The wretched soul in 
that eternal dungeon will know how beautiful God is, 
but will not be able to behold him. It will know how 
amiable God is, but will not be able to love him; it will 
even feel itself forced by its sins to hate him; and this 
will be its hell of hells, to know that it hates a God who 
is infinitely lovely. It will desire that it were possible 
to destroy God, to whom it is hateful; and to destroy 
itself, hating God; and this will be the eternal occupa- 
tion of this unhappy soul. 
O Lord! have pity on me. 
[33] 3. This torment will be immensely increased by the 
remembrance of the graces that God bestowed upon it, 
and the love which he evinced towards it during its 
lifetime. It will especially call to mind the love of 
Jesus Christ in shedding his blood, and laying down his 
life for its salvation; but, ungrateful soul, not to forego 
its own miserable gratifications, it consented to lose God, 
its sovereign good; and it will find that no hope will be 
left of ever regaining him. 
Ah, my God! If I were in hell, I would not be able to 
love You, nor to repent of my sins; but as I have it now 
in my power to repent and to love You, I am sorry with 
my whole soul for having offended You, and love You 
above all things. Grant me to remember continually 
that hell which I have deserved, that I may love You 
with still greater and greater fervor. O Mary, refuge of 
sinners! do not abandon me. 

Faith helps as well-I like this article

The Rhythm of the Liturgical Year

I could label this post, Advent in the Domestic Church.

Sometimes, Catholics forget, or may not know, some of the simpler truths of the liturgical year. That there is a liturgical year should be obvious to all who attend, at least, Sunday Mass.

However, the colors are not the only indications of themes in these seasons. I am discovering, since I have been here, a lack of  knowledge as to the meaning and customs which attend the rhythm of the liturgical seasons.

It is not my intention in this small post to cover the entire year. When I was teaching home schooling, I always had the large, round poster of the liturgical year in the classroom. This symbol and teaching method revealed to my son, and others who joined us, the priority of that year over the calendar year. Priority-yes, as the liturgical year is the calendar of God, not men, through the authority and teaching of the Church.

We are in one of the purple seasons, with the rose interlude approaching next Sunday. And, purple means penance.

Do Catholic families follow a penitential Advent? In my little family, we did not eat sweets, desserts, or other goodies except on St. Nicholas Day. Our Swedish neighbors had goodies on St. Lucy's Day. These were the exceptions. We did not go to parties, and begged off those to which we were invited, assuring friends we would celebrate between Christmas and January 6th, inclusive, with them.

We had the Advent Calendar, not with chocolates, but with Scripture passages.

We did the Jesse Tree, reading the appropriate Scriptures daily, and finally, the O Antiphons, which are on this blog.

We also collected money for the poor in a little box, and did extra good deeds, which were acknowledged by the placing of a straw in the empty manger.

On Christmas Eve, we had a little play of knocking on the doors and slamming them, in imitation of the full inns, until Baby Jesus, the largish Italian Bambino, found a home in the manger, hopefully with  enough straw for comfort. We made costumes out of our robes for this.

The joy of Christmas Day was the beginning of feasting. We began after Midnight Mass, as we were in the choir and came back home for champagne and panettone, going to bed and getting up again to sing at the High Mass. We put the tree up Christmas Eve.

We also made apostle fake candles, out of toilet rolls covered with paper, with cotton flames, on which were the names of the apostles, to put underneath the tree, reminding us that Christmas is the beginning of the Good News which went out to all the world, including us, the Gentiles. This reminded us that Christ is the Light of the world, but that we all have to carry this light out into the darkness.

Sometimes, we bought hay and put it underneath the tree to remind us of the humility of Christ. Our rabbit loved that, and slept happily there in the hay during the season.

The creche was set up and the kings put on the far side of the living room to make their long trip around to the manger by January 6th.

I hope families can rediscover the rhythm of the liturgical year.

Doctors of the Church 2:20

Friday, 15 February 2013

More from the Great Albert: Part 21 in the Doctors of the Church series

More on the way of perfection from this saint, Albert the Great. All highlights are my own. My commentary is in blue, to make it easier to follow.

Chapter 4

How man’s activity should be purely in the intellect and not in the senses

Happy therefore is the person who by continual removal of fantasies and images, by turning within, and raising the mind to God, finally manages to dispense with the products of the imagination, and by so doing works within, nakedly and simply, and with a pure understanding and will, on the the simplest of all objects, God. So eliminate from your mind all fantasies, objects, images and shapes of all things other than God, so that, with just naked understanding, intent and will, your practice will be concerned with God himself within you. 

In this day and age of television, movies, video games, computer games and such, it is even harder to clear the mind and imagination of images. But, this must be done. Advertising and news add to the problem of clearing the mind. Reading news is much better, without all the images. Without a quiet mind and purified imagination, one cannot come to God. Imagination may be part of the brain or in the soul...that is not my concern here today. But, the purification of this is.....

For this is the end of all spiritual exercises - to turn the mind to the Lord God and rest in him with a completely pure understanding and a completely devoted will, without the entanglements and fantasies of the imagination. This sort of exercise is not practised by fleshly organs nor by the exterior senses, but by that by which one is indeed a man. For a man is precisely understanding and will. For that reason, in so far as a man is still playing with the products of the imagination and the senses, and holds to them, it is obvious that he has not yet emerged from the motivation and limitations of his animal nature, that is of that which he shares in common with the animals. For these know and feel objects by means of recognised shapes and sense impressions and no more, since they do not possess the higher powers of the soul.

One sees again the connection between Ignatius of Loyola and Albert. But, these connections are based on who we are as men and women. We are not merely animals, reacting to stimuli, but have reason and will power.

 But it is different with man, who is created in the image and likeness of God with understanding, will, and free choice, through which he should be directly, purely and nakedly impressed and united with God, and firmly adhere to him. For this reason the Devil tries eagerly and with all his power to hinder this practice so far as he can, being envious of this in man, since it is a sort of prelude and initiation of eternal life. 

Satan is jealous, envious, as he has lost heaven forever. All he cares about is making as many people miserable as himself. He works on the mind. He is highly intelligent and watches for our weaknesses. He cannot read our minds, but he listens to everything we say and watches what we do.

Silence keeps him out of the loop, if we allow our minds and imaginations to be purified.

So he is always trying to draw man’s mind away from the Lord God, now by temptations or passions, now by superfluous worries and pointless cares, now by restlessness and distracting conversation and senseless curiosity, now by the study of subtle books, irrelevant discussion, gossip and news, now by hardships, now by opposition, etc. 

Are there not too many, way too many distractions in our lives? For me as well, coming out of the convent last December, to be in Dublin and try to be quiet was so hard. I was in shock for a week after I came out because of the bombardment of images, thoughts, stupid conversations, unnecessary books, news and stuff.  After a while, I found out how to cultivated silence in myself. Yes, it is possible and I am still learning.

Such matters may seem trivial enough and hardly sinful, but they are a great hindrance to this holy exercise and practice. 

Seeking perfection is going beyond sin.....

Therefore, even if they may appear useful and necessary, they should be rejected, whether great or small, as harmful and dangerous, and put out of our minds. Above all therefore it is necessary that things heard, seen, done and said, and other such things, must be received without adding things from the imagination, without mental associations and without emotional involvement, and one should not let past or future associations, implications or constructs of the imagination form and grow

One must learn to live in the present and not the past. So many people live in the past. Get over it. So many people live in the future. Forget that. Just deal with today.

. For when constructs of the imagination are not allowed to enter the memory and mind, a man is not hindered, whether he be engaged in prayer, meditation, or reciting psalms, or in any other practice or spiritual exercise, nor will they recur again. So commit yourself confidently and without hesitation, all that you are, and everything else, individually and in general, to the unfailing and totally reliable providence of God, in silence and in peace, and he will fight for you. 

This changed my life. When I totally committed myself to Divine Providence, peace flooded my soul. I have NO FEAR.

He will liberate you and comfort you more fully, more effectively and more satisfactorily than if you were to dream about it all the time, day and night, and were to cast around frantically all over the place with the futile and confused thoughts of your mind in bondage, nor will you wear out your mind and body, wasting your time, and stupidly and pointlessly exhausting your strength. 

Our works are useless until we get to this point. Do it early in life. Do not waste time and effort. The Kingdom of God needs this type of freedom in you.

So accept everything, separately and in general, wherever it comes from and whatever its origin, in silence and peace, and with an equal mind, as coming to you from a father’s hand and his divine providence. 

I have quoted St. Thomas More before--nothing happens which is not God's Will. All, even suffering and deprivation are for His Glory. My Benedictine master wrote that the Rule is for the laity as well. I believe this...St. Benedict has inspiration and insight from God, just as Albert did. These ideas are repeated over and over by the great saints. 

So render your imagination bare of the images of all physical things as is appropriate to your state and profession, so that you can cling to him with a bare and undivided mind, as you have so often and so completely vowed to do, without anything whatever being able to come between your soul and him, so that you can pass purely and unwaveringly from the wounds of his humanity into the light of his divinity.

The way of perfection leads to this light of His Divinity and to the Unitive State finally. To be continued.....

Reading for a cold day

Au milieu des solicitudes and Diuturnum

Thoughts on Death in Advent Part Five

A good person who is not a Catholic went to several art galleries with me recently. We were looking at paintings of SS. Jerome, Mary Magdalene and others when she asked me why the skull was a prominent feature in these paintings.

I replied that the saints had meditated on death, as a reminder of their own mortality, and in order to repent of sins. She replied that she did not agree with this emphasis on death, that death merely meant that our souls joined a universal soul, which she calls God.  In her belief system, there is no particular or final judgement, nor is there a heaven or a hell.

She believes in God's mercy, which is excellent, but she does not believe in punishment.

St Alphonsus also speaks on the mercy and love of God, but his meditations on death seem appropriate for Advent, so I am continuing this mini-series. Here is one titled: The Emptiness and Shortness of Human Life 

1. Holy David said that the happiness of this life is as 
the dream of one awaking from sleep: as the dream of them 
that awake.1 All the greatness and glory of this world will 
appear no more to poor wordlings at the hour of death, 
than as a dream to one awaking from sleep, who finds that 
the fortune which he has acquired in his dream ends with 
his sleep. Hence, did one who was undeceived wisely 
write on the skull of a dead man, "Cogitanti omnia viles- 
cunt." He who thinks will undervalue all things. Yes, to 
him who thinks on death, all the goods of this life appear 
as they really are, vile and transitory. 
Nor can that man fix his affections on the earth 
who reflects that in a short 
time he must leave it forever. 
Ah, my God, how often have I despised Your grace for 
the miserable goods of this world! Henceforth I desire 
to think of nothing but of loving and serving You. 
Assist me with Your holy grace. 
Paul the Hermit and Skull

My friend and I talked about the famous "Bone Chapel" in Rome of the Capuchins, which she saw with her husband. I have seen something similar, on a smaller scale in Floriana, Malta.

The Capuchins meditated on death to an interesting degree. It is hard for a Catholic to explain such traditions to those who do not believe.

Here is more of St. Alphonsus.

2. "And is it thus, then, that worldly grandeur and 
sovereign power must end?" Such was the exclamation 
of St. Francis Borgia, when he beheld the corpse of the 
Empress Isabella, who died in the flower of her youth. 
Reflecting upon what he saw, he resolved to bid adieu 
to the world, and to give himself entirely to God, say- 
1 "Velut somnium surgentium." Ps. 72. 20. 
[29] ing, “I will henceforth serve a master who will never 
forsake me." Let us detach ourselves from present goods 
before death tears us away from them. What folly it is 
to expose ourselves to the danger of losing our souls, for 
the sake of some attachment to this miserable world, 
from which we shall soon have to depart; for soon it will 
be said to us by the minister of God, "Go forth, Chris- 
tian soul, out of this world!"1
O my Jesus, if only I had always loved You! How 
many offences have I been guilty of against You! 
Teach me how to correct my disorderly life, for I am 
willing to do whatever You please. Accept my love, 
accept my repentance, in which I love You more than 
myself, and crave Your mercy and compassion. 
3. Reflect that you cannot remain forever in this 
world. You must one day leave the country in which 
you now reside; you must one day go out from the 
house in which you now dwell to return to it no more. 
Make me sensible, O God, of the injustice I have been 
guilty of in turning my back upon You, my sovereign good; 
and grant me the sorrow to bewail my ingratitude 
as I ought. O that I had died rather than ever offended 
You! Do not allow me to live any longer ungrateful for 
the love which You have shown me. My dear Redeemer, 
I love You above all things, and I desire to love You 
to the best of my power during the remainder of life. 
Strengthen my weakness by Your grace; and do You, 
Mary, Mother of God, intercede for me. 

Advent Meditations on Death Part Four

St. Alphonsus gives us many thoughts on which to ponder in his book on the last four things, which some of my friends are reading this Advent and which I am reading off and on as well.

There has been more of an interest on the Net concerning the last four things, which are death, judgement, heaven and hell. When there is a movement of the Holy Spirit to look at something, this does happen. I call it spiritual synchronicity.

I have written briefly in the past few days on death itself. The discussion does not have to be dramatic, but real. The process of death involves the final letting go of all things.

There is a new movement in the States which I find very disturbing. It is this. When people die, they sell their houses "as is" with everything in it. This is more and more common in Illinois and Iowa, as I have discovered from friends trying to sell their parents' houses.

I actually was a bit shocked at this phenomena, as it means that no one needs the things to live, no one wants old things. Everything has to be new. Things were not passed on.

I inherited many things for cooking and baking from my grandma in the 1970s when she died. No one wanted these things but me. I used her kitchen things for a long time, until my son moved away and I passed these on to others.

Such old things were strong and good. I did not need new things. In fact, the old were better made.

But, the fact that grandchildren do not want old things is a sign of the waste of our culture.  Also, there is a tendency in America to horde. We have basements and attics full of things not used.

The culture sings the siren song of new and novel. But, in the end, we must be separated from all things. Can we really begin to separate ourselves from things before death in order to face the process of death?

One may ask, when is the right time to do this? I think that is between a person and God, but the hanging on to the world does not help any of us find our true peace, Who is a Person.

This great saint reminds us that all are called to perfection, all are called to holiness.

Here is today's snippet from St. Alphonsus:

In one word, everything on earth will come to an 
end. All greatness will end, all misery will end, honors 
will end, misery will end; pleasures will end, suffer- 
ings will end. Blessed in death, therefore, not he who 
has abounded in riches, honors, and pleasures, but he 
who has patiently endured poverty, contempt, and suffer- 
ings! The possession of temporal goods affords no con- 
solation at the moment of death: that alone consoles 
us which has been done or suffered for God. 
O Jesus! separate my heart from this world, before 
death entirely takes me from it. Help me with Your 
grace; You indeed know how great is my weakness. 
Permit me not to be any more unfaithful to You, as I 
have until now been. I am sorry, O Lord! for having so 
often despised You. Now will I love You above every 
good, and will die a thousand times rather than forfeit 
Your grace. But the infernal one ceases not to tempt 
me; in mercy abandon me not, leave me not to myself, 
permit me not to be any more separated from Your love. 
O Mary, my hope! obtain for me the grace of persever- 

A Message of Christmas

For me, the message of Christmas this year is simplicity. Christ in the manger reveals great simplicity.

St. Padre Pio wrote this, "Jesus said, ' Unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.' But, before He taught us this by His words, he had already put it into practice. He became a Child and gave us the example of that simplicity He was to teach us later also by His words...We must try to keep our thoughts pure, our ideas upright and honest, and our intentions holy."

Doctors of the Church 2:19

hursday, 14 February 2013

Part Twenty on the Doctors of the Church-Albert

Albert the Great highlights the need for purity of heart. One moves beyond meditation to contemplation after much time of practice and guidance. Do not think that this cannot be a path for a lay person, as we are all called to this.

Chapter 3

What the perfection of man consist of in this life

Now the more the mind is concerned about thinking and dealing with what is merely lower and human, the more it is separated from the experience in the intimacy of devotion of what is higher and heavenly, while the more fervently the memory, desire and intellect is withdrawn from what is below to what is above, the more perfect will be our prayer, and the purer our contemplation, since the two directions of our interest cannot both be perfect at the same time, being as different as light and darkness. 

The sign of illumination is this movement into light....and Albert describes the state of unity as well here.

He who cleaves to God is indeed translated into the light, while he who clings to the world is in the dark. So the supreme perfection of man in this life is to be so united to God that all his soul with all its faculties and powers are so gathered into the Lord God that he becomes one spirit with him, and remembers nothing except God, is aware of and recognises nothing but God, but with all his desires unified by the joy of love, he rests contentedly in the enjoyment of his Maker alone.

This next section reminds me greatly of St. Ignatius of Loyola and his purification of reason, memory and will. 

 Now the image of God as found in the soul consists of these three faculties, namely reason, memory and will, and so long as they are not completely stamped with God, the soul is not yet deiform in accordance with the initial creation of the soul. 

For the true pattern of the soul is God, with whom it must be imprinted, like wax with a seal, and carry the mark of his impress. But this can never be complete until the intellect is perfectly illuminated, according to its capacity, with the knowledge of God, who is perfect truth, until the will is perfectly focused on the love of the perfect good, and until the memory is fully absorbed in turning to and enjoying eternal happiness, and in gladly and contentedly resting in it. And since the glory of the beatitude which is achieved in our heavenly homeland consists in the complete fulfilment of these three faculties, it follows that perfect initiation of them is perfection in this life.

I cannot stress the important of this section enough for our journey into the understanding of perfection. Albert, more than many, writes clearly of the Illuminative and Unitive States here.