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Sunday 12 January 2014

What we can do without

It just dawned on me that this was the first Christmas in 30 years or so, I did not have Panettone or Stolen, my little family's favorites.

That this just dawned on me shows a bit of detachment.

That I remembered at all shows I am not in complete detachment.

Great Britain Has A New Cardinal

Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, United Kingdom.

Let us all pray for him to be a real leader. St. Thomas a Becket, pray for him.

The Perfection Series

I can tell that new readers have missed the long perfection series from 2011 and 2012.

Here is one repost

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Perfection Part Six-The Teresas

Continuing the series on perfection, I have switched temporarily from Garrigou-Lagrange to the Interior Castle of St. Teresa of Avila. In this book, St. Teresa refers to the enlargement of the heart. Quoting Prime, Teresa writes, “Cum dilatasti cor meum. When thou shalt englarge my heart”, from Psalm 119. She notes that it is not in consolations, or the “spiritual sweetness” that the heart if made larger, more capable of Love. She is writing about the characteristics of the Fourth Mansion, a state commonly attained by serious Catholics. This is the stage of pursuing one's heart's desire, not through thinking, but through loving. Teresa writes a curious sentence: “So then do whatever most en-flames your heart to love.” Those who have reflected and learned some ways of meditative prayer, and even contemplation may find this an odd statement. Teresa is encouraging the enlargement of the heart through and in Love, the pursuit of Love. She is very keen to point out that most people might not even know what Love is, and I capitalize Love, as to me, it is a Person and not a feeling. Teresa states that joy does not start in the heart, but in the will, in the desire to please God and not to offend Him. Like a good bride who defers to her husband, Teresa knows that Love is in the Will, and not in some pursuit of feelings or consolations. That the will is connected to the dilation or enlargement of the heart is a mysterious movement of the Holy Spirit, bringing the person to an awareness that the life of God springs up spontaneously, not through effort, but through Love.

And, what is it that attracts Love to the heart through the will? Humility. Teresa makes it very clear that only the humble come to this well of interior life springing up and nourishing the soul. Only those who Love Love without self-interest, without expectation, experience humility. It is as if one must see one's self as the only person on the street, in a shop, going up the stairs in a flat, loving God just for the sake of loving Him and for no other reason.

Sometimes, I play a little game of Love. When I am in a small, ordinary place, like walking to the shops, or sitting on the bus, I think, “God, there is one small person in …..who is loving You.”
For awhile, I lived on top of a high set of flats, with no elevator. I had to walk up many flights of stairs, and if I had bags of groceries, it was hard. I would stop at the top of each flight and say, “Jesus, there is one person climbing the stairs, in …..who is loving You. There is one person at 2:00 in the afternoon, who is thinking only of You.” Joy flows from these little acts of the Will, the joy which Teresa states comes not from the heart, but from the depths of one's being.

Little things lead to Love and if one is humble and realizes that one only has little things to offer, joy follows. Humility, taking the small and offering to God, is also the Little Way of St. Theresa, the Little Flower, and here, the two Teresas overlap. The third step in this way of Love is to desire suffering. This separates us from the pagans, who at all costs, want to avoid suffering. If one truly loves someone, does not one want to share in the suffering of that person in order to relieve the loneliness and isolation, which suffering causes? The Little Flower wrote of the “unfelt joy”. This is the joy which does not console. It is a type of infused knowledge that one is suffering in and with Christ, without the consolations. Again, this wells up from an interior life of grace, freely given, but available to all, not some.

The last point in these steps to real enlargement of the heart is detachment, totally, from all things and all people and even, all places. Teresa writes that self-denial must be real. It cannot be a pretence. We must even be willing not to receive grace, if that is God's desire. To be holy only in so far as He has decided that for us. We need to be completely detached even from holiness.

There is a freedom given in all of this, which allows one to have a sense of salvation, through the mercy of God, not through deeds. Such freedom leads one to be bold in God, to evangelize just by being, to recollect immediately, to have discernment and to give peace to others in mysterious ways. So, is the heart enlarged to love all, but mostly to Love Love.

If one is in grace, one can trust the movements of the Holy Spirit. Going to Mass and Confession regularly increases personal discernment. When Teresa writes, “So then do whatever most en-flames your heart to love,” she is encouraging us to follow our heart, minds, and wills to follow the vocation, the way God has chosen for us. Garrigou-Lagrange believes this call to holiness and intense intimacy with God is for all Catholics. In following one's way, in humility and peace, God works His Will in each person to lead one to perfection. This is a real possibility. The Gospel challenge from Christ Himself, “Be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect” is for all of us. To be continu


Doctors of the Church 2:45

The road to perfection is written about by ALL the Doctors of the Church.

We are all called to this. Please read the perfection series, which is over 500 posts long. I am only re-posting the 
ones which include the Doctors of the Church.

Here is what St. Alphonsus states, which helps us on our road to perfection.
Sickness is the acid test of spirituality, because it discloses
whether our virtue is real or sham.

If the soul is not agitated, does not break out in lamentations, is
not feverishly restless in seeking a cure, but instead is submissive
to the doctors and to superiors, is serene and tranquil, completely
resigned to God's will, it is a sign that that soul is well- grounded
in virtue.
What of the whiner who complains of lack of attention? That his
sufferings are beyond endurance? That the doctor does not know his
business? What of the faint-hearted soul who laments that the hand of
God is too heavy upon him?

This story by St. Bonaventure in his "Life of St. Francis" is in
point: On a certain occasion when the saint was suffering
extraordinary physical pain, one of his religious meaning to
sympathize with him, said in his simplicity: "My Father, pray God
that he treat you a little more gently, for his hand seems heavy upon
you just now." Hearing this, St. Francis strongly resented the
unhappy remark of his well-meaning brother, saying: "My good brother,
did I not know that what you have just said was spoken in all
simplicity, without realizing the implication of your words, I should
never see you again because of your rashness in passing judgment on
the dispositions of divine providence." Whereupon, weak and wasted as
he was by his illness, he got out of bed, knelt down, kissed the
floor and prayed thus: "Lord, I thank thee for the sufferings thou
art sending me. Send me more, if it be thy good pleasure. My pleasure
is that you afflict me and spare me not, for the fulfillment of thy
holy will is the greatest consolation of my life."

If you really want God to show you your imperfections and sin, just pay attention to how you respond to illness. 

The way to perfection can be long and hard, but one must decide to follow this path.

Only the perfect see God. 

To be continued....

Doctors of the Church 2:44

More from St. Alphonsus Ligouri...

I do not think that Alphonsus needs commentary. In his book, PRAYER : THE GREAT MEANS OF SALVATION AND OF PERFECTION, which is found on line here, he clearly tell us what we must do to become perfect. Here is one section.  I anyone wants commentary on this long section, let me know.

Part III - Chapter II

All the Saints have become Saints by mental prayer. Mental prayer is the blessed furnace in which souls are inflamed with the Divine love. "In my meditation", says David, "a fire shall flame out" - Psalm 38:4. Saint Vincent of Paul used to say that it would be a miracle if a sinner who attends the sermons in the mission, or in the spiritual exercises, were not converted. Now, he who preaches, and speaks in the exercises, is only a man; but it is God Himself that speaks to the soul in meditation. "I will lead her into the wilderness; and I will speak to her heart" - Hosea 2:14. Saint Catherine of Bologna used to say, "He who does not practice mental prayer deprives himself of the bond that unites the soul with God; hence, finding her alone, the devil will easily make her his own". "How", she would say, "can I conceive that the love of God is found in the soul that cares but little to treat with God in prayer"?
Where, but in meditation, have the Saints been inflamed with Divine love? By means of mental prayer, Saint Peter of Alcantara was inflamed to such a degree that in order to cool himself, he ran into a frozen pool, and the frozen water began to boil like water in a caldron placed on the fire. In mental prayer, Saint Philip Neri became inflamed, and trembled so that he shook the entire room. In mental prayer, Saint Aloysius Gonzaga was so inflamed with Divine ardor that his very face appeared to be on fire, and his heart beat as strongly as if it wished to fly from the body.
Saint Laurence Justinian says: "By the efficacy of mental prayer, temptation is banished, sadness is driven away, lost virtue is restored, fervor which has grown cold is excited, and the lovely flame of Divine love is augmented". Hence, Saint Aloysius Gonzaga has justly said that he who does not make much mental prayer will never attain a high degree of perfection.
A man of prayer, says David, is like a tree planted near the current of waters, which brings forth fruit in due time; all his actions prosper before God. "Blessed is the man . . . who shall meditate on His law day and night! And he shall be like a tree which is planted near the running waters, which shall bring forth its fruit in due season, and his leaf shall not fall off: and all whatsoever he shall do shall prosper" - Psalm 1:1-3. Mark the words "in due season"; that is, at the time when he ought to bear such a pain, such an affront, etc.

Saint John Chrysostom compared mental prayer to a fountain in the middle of a garden. Oh! what an abundance of flowers and verdant plants do we see in the garden which is always refreshed with water from the fountain! Such, precisely is the soul that practices mental prayer; you will see, that it always advances in good desires, and that it always brings forth more abundant fruits of virtue. Whence does the soul receive so many blessings? From meditation, by which it is continually irrigated. "Thy plants are a paradise of pomegranates with the fruits of the orchard . . . The fountain of gardens, the well of living waters, which run with a strong stream from Libanus" - Canticles 4:13,15.  But let the fountain cease to water the garden, and, behold, the flowers, plants, and all instantly wither away; and why? Because the water has failed. You will see that as long as such a person makes mental prayer, he is modest, humble, devout, and mortified in all things. But let him omit meditation, and you will instantly find him wanting in modesty of the eyes, proud, resenting every word, indevout, no longer frequenting the Sacraments and the church; you will find him attached to vanity, to useless conversations, to pastimes, and to earthly pleasures; and why? The water has failed, and, therefore, fervor has ceased. "My soul is as earth without water unto thee.  . . . My spirit hath fainted away" - Psalm 142:6-7. The soul has neglected mental prayer, the garden is therefore dried up, and the miserable soul does from bad to worse. When a soul abandons meditation, Saint Chrysostom regards it not only as sick, but as dead. "He", says the holy Doctor, "who prays not to God, nor desires to enjoy assiduously His Divine conversation, is dead.  . . . The death of a soul is not to be prostrated before God".

The same Father says that mental prayer is the root of the fruitful vine. And Saint John Climacus writes, that prayer is a bulwark against the assault of afflictions, the spring of virtues, the procurer of graces. Rufinus asserts, that all the spiritual progress of the soul flows from mental prayer. And Gerson goes so far as to say that he who neglects meditation cannot, without a miracle, lead the life of a Christian. Speaking of mental prayer, Jeremiah says, "He shall sit solitary, and hold his peace; because he hath taken it up upon himself" - Lamentations 3:28. That is, a soul cannot have a relish for God, unless it withdraws from creatures, and sits, that is, stops to contemplate the goodness, the love, the amiableness of God. But when solitary and recollected in meditation-----that is, when it takes away its thoughts from the world-----it is then raised above itself; and departs from prayer very different from what it was when it began it.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola used to say that mental prayer is the short way to attain perfection. In a word, he who advances most in meditation makes the greatest progress in perfection. In mental prayer the soul is filled with holy thoughts, with holy affections, desires, and holy resolutions, and with love for God. There man sacrifices his passions, his appetites, his earthly attachments, and all the interests of self-love. Moreover, by praying for them, in mental prayer, we can save many sinners, as was done by Saint Teresa, Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, and is done by all souls enamored of God, who never omit, in their meditations, to recommend to Him all infidels, heretics, and all poor sinners, begging Him also to give zeal to priests who work in His vineyard, that they may convert His enemies. In mental prayer we can also by the sole desire of performing them, gain the merit of many good works which we do not perform. For, as the Lord punishes bad desires, so, on the other hand, He rewards all our good desires.

To be continued...

I cannot write about baptism enough....

If you are a Catholic couple putting off baptism until a baby is several months on, you are wrong, wrong, wrong................
Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by Original Sin, children also have need of new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and be brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God….The Church and parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer baptism shortly after birth. CCC # 1250.

But in respect of the case of the infants, which you say ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, and that the law of ancient circumcision should be regarded, so that you think that one who is just born should not be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day We [the bishops] all thought very differently in our council. For in this course which you thought was to be taken, no one agreed; but we all rather judge that the mercy and grace of God is not to be refused to any one born of man. St. Cyprian of Carthage. Epist# 58.

Doctors of the Church 2:43

A short thought on perfection...

"The essence of perfection is to embrace the will of God in all things, prosperous or adverse. In prosperity, even sinners find it easy to unite themselves to the divine will; but it takes saints to unite themselves to God's will when things go wrong and are painful to self-love. Our conduct in such instances is the measure of our love of God."

St Alphonsus de Liguori

The Three Epiphanies of Christ

In the Catholic Byzantine Rite and in the Orthodox Tradition, today is the Epiphany, the showing forth of God to all.

Here is a great icon of this event. Christ is being revealed to the world in His Baptism, which is not to take away any sin from Him, the sinless one, but to show up the way to freedom from sin.

Today, God is "shining forth", "being manifested" to the world of the disciples and those who were following John

This Epiphany is one of three: the Epiphany to the Three Kings, this one of the Baptism of Christ, and the third is the Transfiguration.

Meditating on the Three Epiphanies reveals a pattern of God giving His Son to the world at key points in Christ's Life.

The first, at His Birth, emphasizing the Incarnation; the second in the Jordan, emphasizing the proclamation of the Gospel to the world; and the third, the Transfiguration, the announcement of Christ's glory which will happen in the Resurrection from the Dead.

Tropar­ion (Tone 1) 
When You, O Lord were bap­tized in the Jor­dan. The wor­ship of the Trin­ity was made  man­i­fest. For the voice of the Father bore wit­ness to You and called You His beloved Son. And the Spirit, in the form of a dove, Con­firmed the truth­ful­ness of His word. O Christ, our God, You have revealed Your­self And have enlight­ened the world, glory to You!
Kon­takion (Tone 4)
Today You have shown forth to the world, O Lord, and the light of Your coun­te­nance has been marked on us. Know­ing You, we sing Your praises. You have come and revealed Your­self, O unap­proach­able Light.

Tropar­ion (Tone 4)

Today the Lord enters the Jor­dan and cries out to John: “Do not be afraid to bap­tize me. For I have come to save Adam, the first-formed man.”
Kon­takion (Tone 4)
Pre­pare, O Zebu­lon, And adorn your­self, O Naph­tali; River Jor­dan, cease flow­ing And receive with joy the Mas­ter com­ing to be bap­tized. Adam, rejoice with our First Mother And do not hide your­self as you did of old in Par­adise; For hav­ing seen you naked, He has appeared to clothe you with the first gar­ment. Christ has appeared to renew all creation.

Again, on Baptism

See all my articles on baptism and confirmation.

Good stuff here, especially with the Anglicans moving away from exorcisms and the renouncing of Satan.

For Catholics.....

the Code of Canon Law states:
Parents are obliged to see that their infants are baptised within the first few weeks. As soon as possible after the birth, indeed even before it, they are to approach the parish priest to ask for the sacrament for their child, and to be themselves duly prepared for it. If the infant is in danger of death, it is to be baptised without any delay. Can. 867 §1,§2
The Catechism states: The Church and parents deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer baptism shortly after birth. (CCC # 1250) 
If parents are not scheduling the baptism of babies within the first few weeks after birth, they are leaving their baby in Original Sin and they are also disobedient to the Church.