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Wednesday 29 January 2014

Are you worried yet? Two American Bankers Commit Suicide in England


A reality check

More than two years ago in Malta, as a foreigner, I could not get cash out of the ATMS twice. Once, when there was a run on the banks in Greece, no one who did not have an account with the local banks could get cash.

Then, weeks later, the same thing happened when there was a crisis in Latvia.

I paid attention to this. Also, many places refused to take English bank credit cards. Period.

Many restaurants refused credit and debit cards.

This passed, but for two weeks, I had to get cash wired to me.

What if the wired money was held up? People were lined up for days outside the money wiring offices.

This is now happening in Europe again, even as I write.

Are you paying attention? Do you understand what this means?

Your money is no longer your own.

One of my degrees is in history. One of my specialties is WWI. EU and America look like the world in the West before that war...I am sorry to say this. But, those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.

In Praise of Good Women

I would like to praise good women whom I have met in the past three years. These are Catholic women on the blogs, in parishes, on twitter, at work places, who have put Christ first in their lives and follow Him just as the first women who followed Christ.

I am thinking of those women who pray daily, and study the Scriptures. I am thinking of those good women who work in creches, they work in RCIA, they work in coffee mornings, and never get any praise.

I praise those women who organize their children's lives, and who make their husband's lives easy, allowing them to have a hour of prayer, read Scripture, and pray with the children.

These women are humble, and do not look for praise, but only want to love God and His own.

These women do not contracept, and work for pro-life, even quietly. Some stand outside of abortion clinics weekly praying and counseling. One is there even as I write.

These women say rosaries waiting in the clinics, in shopping lines.  These women watch over the education of their children, making sure they get orthodox teaching until they leave home.

These women pray, and pray, and pray.

These are the women of God.

A Guest Post-Comment on The Theotokos

A guest post, who is a convert from Protestantism, answers a comment. First, my note, then CK's

As a continuation of things I came across yesterday, or heard, is the idea that Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity's Birth was an unplanned pregnancy.

This is heresy. Christ's Conception and His Birth are the Longest Planned in the history of mankind.

From all eternity, God knew that He had chosen Mary as His Mother, the Second Eve, to be born Immaculate (a sign of His Plan right there) and that Christ, the Eternal, Second Person of the Trinity would become Man.

To say otherwise is a heresy, denying the promise in Genesis and the eternal plan of God. All throughout the Old Testament, Christ was prophesied. Mary was not shocked. She understood much as she had the fullest indwelling of the Holy Trinity from her Immaculate Conception.

To deny her perfection and her relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost would be heresy.

She only questioned the angel as she did not know how she would have Christ without a man. Gabriel explained. Mary, all her life was in harmony with God's perfect Will. She trusted God. She was not anxious. These are all Protestant interpretations. She did not talk to Joseph as she trusted in God.

How horrible to compare her to a woman who has normal intercourse and an unplanned pregnancy. I hope Catholics who say, blog, or tweet this will stop talking about "Mary's unplanned pregnancy".

from CK

On the Theotokos....

One of those who responded to this post was a man named Marcus Ampe. He sounds like he is an Evangelical. Here are his two posts that I put as one (with grammatical errors and all):

"Nowhere in the Scriptures is declared that Mary (real name Miriam) the mother of Jesus (real name Jeshua) would not have sinned. All people are sinners. Jesus was tempted more than once and could sin but did not. god can not be tempted and cannot sin. Mary is the mother of Jesus and not of God, but of the son of God.

Where do you get it from that Mary would have been the second Eve? She was not formed by God Himself but was a woman coming from the intercourse of a man and a woman."

After reading the above from Mr. Ampe, I decided to have some fun with it using some apologetics to answer his claims. I sent it to supertradmum and she is now posting it on her blog as a "guest post-comment."

Here we go:

1). "Nowhere in the Scriptures is declared (sic) that Mary (real name Miriam) the mother of Jesus (real name Jeshua) would not have sinned."

Reply: It should be noted that "nowhere in the Scriptures" is it "declared that Mary (real name Miriam) the mother of Jesus (real name Jeshua)" would sin, did sin, or ever sinned. Also, it could be noted, that "nowhere in the Scriptures" is it "declared" that Mary's "real name" is "Miriam". Nor, for that matter, do the Scriptures say Jesus' "real name" is "Jeshua." This is the problem with the Protestant "pillar" of Sola Scriptura (the Bible Alone). The Bible is not the sole authority for issues on faith and morals and, furthermore, "nowhere in the Scriptures is (it) declared that" it is the sole authority. (1 Cor. 11:2)

2). "All people are sinners."

Reply: "All people are sinners"? Really? This is supposedly based upon St. Paul's letter to the Romans (chapter 3, verse 23) where he says, "...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,". Are there any exceptions? First, what is St. Paul speaking of? Personal sin? Original sin? We know that Jesus was like us in all things except for sin. So, there is at least one exception. What about mentally impaired "people"? Have they sinned? (outside of Original sin). What about small children up to the age of reason? Have they sinned? No, no and no. Outside of Original sin, of which only three people born of a woman did not have Original sin (including St. John the Baptist), there were only two "people" who walked this earth that never sinned. The first was our Blessed Mother and our Blessed Lord.

3). "Jesus was tempted more than once and could sin but did not."

Reply: This statement is flat heresy. Nowhere... Not, One, Place, " the Scriptures is declared (sic) that..." Jesus "could sin but did not." ear Lord is it really that hard? Jesus Himself says that He is "the truth" in John 14:6. God is all truth and all light  As a matter of fact, here is what our Blessed Lord said in that verse, "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." Does this sound like the words of a (God)man who "could sin"? This leads us to...

4). "god (sic) can not be tempted and cannot sin."

Reply: Agreed! Absolutely. God "can not be tempted and cannot sin"! Yet as we have noted above in number three, you say "Jesus (who was God) was tempted more than once and could sin but did not." My goodness. This is just breathtaking. How can it be possible that God "could sin"? There is no logical or rational explanation for this. It is simply heresy.

5)."Mary is the mother of Jesus and not of God, but of the son of God."

Reply: Nestorius? Is that you? Well then, let's dissect the first part. "Mary is the mother of Jesus and not of God".  Is it just me or can anyone see the problem with this? Let us be clear. Our Blessed Mother gave birth to one child (not two!) and as we see from St. Matthew's Gospel quoting "the prophet", "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means, God with us), 

Jesus, Emmanuel, is God! (one would assume Mr. Ampe understands this) So, following logic and reason, Mary is the Mother of God (or "Theotokos" as it was formally affirmed at the Third Ecumenical Council held at Ephesus in 431A.D.). She did not give birth to two babies. [Trying to give a little slack to Mr. Ampe, it probably would be better for him to say Mary did not give birth to the Holy Trinity.]

Jesus is fully God and fully man. He is a Divine Person with two natures; Divine and human.

This is the very same heresy that was promoted (and condemned at Ephesus) by the bishop Nestorius, who was Archbishop of Constantinople from 428-431 A.D. It made Bishop Nicholas (yes, the St. Nicholas) so angry that, during the debates at the council, he punched Nestorius in the mouth! 

The Reason for The Perfection Series II:vii and Exit Strategy Points Six

Seventeen posts today, and counting-because time is short, very short.......................but, time enough.

We have time to look at the reasons for most of the posts on this blog..............

We shall be a remnant. This will happen in my lifetime, I believe.

We have been warned a long time ago--in fact, 45 years ago, when I was 20.

We have all been too complacent and now, time is short. Read my novelettes. Read this below, the Pope Emeritus as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

"The church will become small"

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. "The church will become small." from Faith and the Future 
(San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2009).

Note the original publication date of Faith and the Future was 1969.

The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.

She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church]

It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy.

It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek . . . The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain . . . 

But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. 

Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.

And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. 

She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man's home, where he will find life and hope beyond death

Exit Strategy Points Five and Perfection Series II:vi

St. Paul spread the Good News of the Gospel over all the Mediterranean area.

He had the advantage of being multilingual, a Roman citizen, which meant a citizen of the world, and having a support group of like-minded men, such as Timothy and others.

He was also a Rabbi trained by the best in the day, knew his Scripture, could pray, preach, heal and organize.

Men need to start communities not women.

All the communities I have tried to start failed for three reasons.

One, men were not keen.

Two, orthodoxy was not shared.

Three, few were willing to sacrifice.

Malta became Catholic because the locals accepted Paul and the governor, Publius, was converted.

Such is the way real lay communities are founded. St. Publius became the first bishop, and martyr as well.

We have many excellent men who are leaders, but are so caught up with other things, they think they cannot start communities.

They also may feel they are unworthy. Of course, that is true. God does the work, not the person.

Pursuing perfection is absolutely necessary for the foundations of community.

I would think that the leaders would have to at least be in the Dark Night of the Soul or Senses. But, the real work would begin in the Illuminative state.
Perfection must precede or at least be part of the journey of the building of the Kingdom, as the ego gets in the way otherwise. All communities must be God's Plan, not ours.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta managed to create her community when she was in the Dark Night of the Soul.

She was humbled by this experience, but kept going. Fifty years without consolation meant she was being purified to become the great saint she is. Her work is not what we look at but her purity of heart and mind.

St. Paul did not start his missionary journey for a long time after his conversion.

At least nine, if not ten years passed in exile, time for him to be in the state of purification.

So be it....start...get an "exit strategy".

Exit Strategy Points Four

If those in the secular world can read the signs of the times, why not Catholic lay leaders and bishops?

Christ told the Jews to leave Jerusalem. He predicted the fall and complete destruction of 70 A.D.

People did not listen. They ignored Him, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.


They did not believe Him.

They were complacent.

They were so caught up in sin and luxury, their discernment was dead.

He told them of the coming destruction, as well as the Second Coming.

We are concerned with the former.

We should be concerned with the times of tribulation leading up to the Second Coming. That Second Coming could be a very long time away, but not the persecution. We shall see persecution and a tiny remnant. I do not think the Second Coming is imminent, but pain is...for the purification of the Church.

If you are not praying about community, you must start today.

Many perished in Jerusalem. All lost everything.

Exit strategies were ignored.

Matthew 24

24 And Jesus being come out of the temple, went away. And his disciples came to shew him the buildings of the temple.
And he answering, said to them: Do you see all these things? Amen I say to you there shall not be left here a stone upon a stone that shall not be destroyed.
And when he was sitting on mount Olivet, the disciples came to him privately, saying: Tell us when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the consummation of the world?
And Jesus answering, said to them: Take heed that no man seduce you:
For many will come in my name saying, I am Christ: and they will seduce many.
And you shall hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that ye be not troubled. For these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be pestilences, and famines, and earthquakes in places:
Now all these are the beginnings of sorrows.
Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall put you to death: and you shall be hated by all nations for my name's sake.
10 And then shall many be scandalized: and shall betray one another: and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall seduce many.
12 And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold.
13 But he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom, shall be preached in the whole world, for a testimony to all nations, and then shall the consummation come.
15 When therefore you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth let him understand.
16 Then they that are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains:
17 And he that is on the housetop, let him not come down to take any thing out of his house:
18 And he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his coat.
19 And woe to them that are with child, and that give suck in those days.
20 But pray that your flight be not in the winter, or on the sabbath.
21 For there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be.
22 And unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved: but for the sake of the elect those days shall be shortened.
23 Then if any man shall say to you: Lo here is Christ, or there, do not believe him.
24 For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect.
25 Behold I have told it to you, beforehand.
26 If therefore they shall say to you: Behold he is in the desert, go ye not out: Behold he is in the closets, believe it not.
27 For as lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even into the west: so shall the coming of the Son of man be.
28 Wheresoever the body shall be, there shall the eagles also be gathered together.
29 And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be moved:
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all tribes of the earth mourn: and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty.
31 And he shall send his angels with a trumpet, and a great voice: and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the farthest parts of the heavens to the utmost bounds of them.
32 And from the fig tree learn a parable: When the branch thereof is now tender, and the leaves come forth, you know that summer is nigh.
33 So you also, when you shall see all these things, know ye that it is nigh, even at the doors.
34 Amen I say to you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.
35 Heaven and earth shall pass, but my words shall not pass.
36 But of that day and hour no one knoweth, not the angels of heaven, but the Father alone.
37 And as in the days of Noe, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even till that day in which Noe entered into the ark,
39 And they knew not till the flood came, and took them all away; so also shall the coming of the Son of man be.
40 Then two shall be in the field: one shall be taken, and one shall be left.
41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill: one shall be taken, and one shall be left.
42 Watch ye therefore, because ye know not what hour your Lord will come.
43 But know this ye, that if the goodman of the house knew at what hour the thief would come, he would certainly watch, and would not suffer his house to be broken open.
44 Wherefore be you also ready, because at what hour you know not the Son of man will come.
45 Who, thinkest thou, is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath appointed over his family, to give them meat in season.
46 Blessed is that servant, whom when his lord shall come he shall find so doing.
47 Amen I say to you, he shall place him over all his goods.
48 But if that evil servant shall say in his heart: My lord is long a coming:
49 And shall begin to strike his fellow servants, and shall eat and drink with drunkards:
50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day that he hopeth not, and at an hour that he knoweth not:
51 And shall separate him, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

288 Posts Referring to Community-Exit Strategy Points Three

Too Small!
Yes, this has been a big part of this blog.

Now is the time, folks, we do not have much time.

Go where there are strong communities already, preferably TLMs

Go where there are orthodox monasteries and convents.

Go where there are NAPCIS schools.

Go where there are solid, orthodox priests.

Plan to either set something up now or go.....if you are not thinking of these possibilities, you are not looking, seeing, hearing the signs of the times.

Read my posts on community, as I have seven years experience, plus the months at Tyburn in community.

Too Big!

Exit Strategy Points Two

What were the "exit strategies" of the Early Church?

Sound doctrine, called "orthodoxy"

Mass and common prayers

Listening to the elders and fear of the Lord

Common sharing

Giving to those who did not have necessities

Seeing each other daily (huge and important)

Sharing meals together on a regular basis

Spreading the Word of God

And being prepared to move out.....not being attached to anything.

When I was in community, the leaders used to talk about our "little red wagons". They would exhort us not to collect things, but be flexible, movable, having only what could be in a little red wagon, not a big truck.

Seriously, think about your little red wagons.

Pray for detachment.

Some are called to build and stay. Some are called to move and save.

Pray and do not ignore the signs of the times. God has warned us. Now it is time for us to act.

Acts 2
42 And they were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles, and in the communication of the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
43 And fear came upon every soul: many wonders also and signs were done by the apostles in Jerusalem, and there was great fear in all.
44 And all they that believed, were together, and had all things common.
45 Their possessions and goods they sold, and divided them to all, according as every one had need.
46 And continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they took their meat with gladness and simplicity of heart;
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord increased daily together such as should be saved.

Exit Strategy Points One

On Monday, Matt Drudge said we should all have an "exit strategy".

Now, for a Catholic, our ultimate "exit strategy" is eternal life. That is, we prepare for heaven in fear and trembling.

We pursue perfection, not for our own sake, but for the sake of Christ, Whom we love more than anyone other.

He is the Bridegroom.

The second part of the "exit strategy" besides cooperating with grace for eternal life with God, is bringing as many souls as possible with us to heaven.

Members of our immediate families, friends, acquaintances, students, fellow parishioners and so on are all brothers and sisters to try to bring with us. We are called to save souls

The third element of an "exit strategy" must be passing on the Faith to the next generation, as the remnant will be small and we must prepare our children to be saints.

The passing on of the Faith is part of our baptismal promise and for those of us who are or have been married, the promise we give as part of the sacrament of marriage.

A fourth part of an "exit strategy" would be moving to a place where one will not lose one's Faith.

A TLM parish, a Catholic community, near a monastery or convent and other permutations of support will be, not maybe, but will be a necessity. Most people in the hard times will not have access to the sacraments.

The fifth element of an "exit strategy" is to really have an alternative place to go. The early Christians did and many fled the fall of Rome into the countryside and into other countries by necessity. This will be harder this time, as there are more cities, surveillance, a growing tryannical government, and less empty spaces.

But, one must consider possibilities.

Where are your children living? Where can you work and worship most effectively? What do you need to do to prepare both physically and spiritually for persecution?

If you are in denial or complacent, you may not have the strength to persevere.

to be continued.....

Perfection II:v

Perfection Part Three in Original Series and v in reposts-Thomism and the Spiritual Life

The concept of grace is rarely taught in catechesis and yet, a Catholic needs an excellent grasp on the concept of, especially, sanctifying grace, in order to grow in the interior life. The other concepts which an adult Catholic needs to understand are the virtues, or the life of virtue. The title of a key book, based on many sources, but none more than St. Thomas Aquinas, is Garrigou-Lagrange's The Three Ages of the Interior LifeWhen St. Paul writes of giving his converts "meat", this is meat, not milk. And, a caution to the pilgrim is that one can learn something intellectually and not have such concepts actually be part of the interior life of the soul, but only head knowledge. An excellent spiritual director is a necessity and good luck trying to find one in this day and age. Also, before one engages the ideas of Garrigou-Lagrange, I highly suggest at least the lay version of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, again under a director. Again, good luck trying to find an orthodox, conservative director and not one involved in New Age interpretations of the classic thirty day retreat.

In a mini-series, of which this is the third part, I want to cover a basic approach to perfection, with an emphasis on the life of the virtues. One can read the complete discussion in Garrigou-Lagrange's great book, but I shall outline a few things on this blog just to interest readers. In this installment, I want to look at the infused virtues and in the next posting,  the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, which we all receive in Baptism. Here is a useful chart from the book:

 Charity -->
 Faith -->
 Hope -->
Gift of Wisdom
Gift of Understanding
Gift of Knowledge
Gift of Counsel
Gift of Piety
Gift of Fortitude
Gift of Fear
 Prudence -->
 - Religion -->
 - Penance
 - Obedience
 Fortitude -->
 - Patience
 - Humility
 - Meekness
 - Chasity

The Theological Virtues are infused, that is given to us by the Father. These are, of course, Faith, Hope and Charity. St. Thomas and Garrigou-Lagrange explain that the Theological Virtues are directed towards God as the End. We are given these virtues, but we must use and incorporate them into our souls. This is the job for each one of us, given these wonderful virtues at Baptism. One can read Garrigou-Lagrange for more detail. 

The Moral Virtues, however, help us get to Heaven-these are a means to that end. I highly recommend Josef Pieper'sThe Four Cardinal Virtues: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance, a book I have used in class with great success in the past. These Cardinal Virtues may be considered Moral Virtues, but there are more Moral Virtues, while there are only the Four Cardinal Virtues.  I am not going into the entire list here. You can look here. One cannot be in mortal sin and develop the acquired Moral Virtues. Here is Garrigou-Lagrange: a man must no longer be in the state of mortal sin, but his will must be set straight in regard to his last end. He must love God more than himself, at least with a real and efficacious love of esteem, if not with a love that is felt. This love is impossible without the state of grace and without charity.(4) But after justification or conversion, these true acquired virtues may come to be stable virtues; they may become connected, relying on each other. Finally, under the influx of infused charity, they become the principle of acts meritorious of eternal life. For this reason, some theologians, such as Duns Scotus, have even thought it not necessary that we should have infused moral virtues.

As much as I would not like to do so, I shall leave Duns Scotus for another time. But, notice two words being used here-acquired and infused. Even pagans, state Aquinas, using Plato and Aristotle, can acquire virtues; however, an example from Garrigou-Lagrange helps here: As St. Thomas remarks,(8) acquired temperance has a rule and formal object different from those of infused temperance. Acquired temperance keeps a just medium in the matter of food in order that we may live reasonably, that we may not injure our health or the exercise of our reason. Infused temperance, on the contrary, keeps a superior happy mean in the use of food in order that we may live in a Christian manner, as children of God, en route to the wholly supernatural life of eternity. Infused temperance thus implies a more severe mortification than is implied by acquired temperance; it requires, as St. Paul says, that man chastise his body and bring it into subjection,(9) that he may become not only a virtuous citizen of society on earth, but one of the "fellow citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God." (10)

Part of the distinction here is the "end", the "reason" for the virtues. The Moral Virtues are practical to a certain extent, but if these are directed towards God, these become steps to heaven. Although the atheist, for example, may eat in a temperate manner, he is not directing his actions towards the Almighty and eternal life. He is acquiring virtue rationally, but without the supernatural motive. This is one of Aquinas' examples, as seen above.

There is a difference between motives and action. The Christian does all for the love of God and others, and not merely for one's self. Before moving on, I want to refer to a footnote here. Babies who are baptized receive all these virtues. This is why it is so important to have babies baptized and for parents to raise their children with the idea of cultivating these virtues. Here is the note:
Clement V at the Council of Vienna (Denzinger, Enchiridion, no. 483), thus settled this question, which was formulated under Innocent III (Den­zinger, no. 410): "Whether faith, charity, and the other virtues are infused into children in baptism." He answers: "We, however, considering the gen­eral efficacy of the death of Christ, which is applied by baptism equally to all the baptized, think that, with the approval of the sacred Council, we should choose as more probable and more consonant and harmonious with the teachings of the saints and of modern doctors of theology, the second opinion, which declares that informing grace and the virtues are bestowed in baptism on infants as well as adults." By these words, "and the virtues," Clement V means.not only the theological virtues, but the moral virtues, for they also were involved in the question formulated under Innocent III.

As I wrote earlier this week, there is no reason why a child cannot become a saint.

St. Artemius Died at AgeTwelve
And, it is imperative that Catholic parents are aware of the life of the virtues in order, not only to become holy themselves, but to nurture holiness in their children.

The virtues grow together and are all based on love, the love for God and neighbor. If one advances in one virtue, one will advance in all. But, it is imperative that the person is in sanctifying grace, receiving the sacraments regularly, and praying. Too many Catholics believe all this life in the virtues will "just happen". Not so. And, sadly, many Catholics do not even realize that the life of virtue must be lived in order to become perfect, as we are all called to be. We are all called to be perfect. Even those who could not read in the Middle Ages looked towards their books of stone for these truths. We have or are in danger of losing these truths today. We see a crisis in character formation all around us, in politics, in youth, in ourselves. Without virtue, there is no character. To be continued...

Perfection II:iv

Perfection Part Two of Original Series; iv of re-post

Metanoia First

Last night, I had a lengthy discussion with a friend about "conversion" to Christ. Now, this concept of metanoia or repentance comes from Christ Himself, as seen especially in His late night discussions with Nicodemus on being born again in the Spirit. In John 3:3, we hear Christ's words, and said to him: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of GodThe problem being addressed in Christ's admonition to Nicodemus and to us is the "changing" of the heart and mind to Christ, which cannot come about without Faith and the turning away from sin. Again, referring to Bonhoeffer, so many so-called Christians want the goodies of Christianity, such as salvation and community, without metanoia. It is only after conversion that one receives the graces, through the Sacraments of the Church, to grow in Christ, putting on His Mind and living in His Mystical Body, the Church.

The entitlement culture, which is obvious and much discussed on this blog and others, (see Dr. Sanity's excellent article on dependency), creates an atmosphere in the Church where some of the laity think they are entitled to grace without repentance. Example: when I was teaching RCIA, most of the participants finished the course and came into the Church at the Easter Vigil. However, there were always some, let us say 10%, who did not, who turned away at some point in the process. Why? The most commons reasons were contraception, the unwillingness to deal with irregular marriages, and the non-acceptance of the Church's Teaching on such hot topics as homosexuality. In these areas, there would appear a person who simply could not accept repentance, or metanoia, the turning around, the changing of a life for the sake of Christ-the Costly Grace.

If the change of mind does not happen, the life of the person will not change, as conversion is in the will. A huge mistake is made by some in the ministry who always want to appeal to the heart; they want people to "fall in love with Jesus". This is good, but if one looks at the progress of the sinners in the Scriptures, such as the woman caught in adultery, or the woman at the well, Truth and metanoia came first-that is, the realization of sin and the awareness that God, Christ, forgives sin comes first and then, and only then, the complete freedom and ability to love Love Himself follows. One responds to Love through metanoia.

Without conversion, our hearts are stone and our minds clouded by sin and death.

Conversion, love, the road to perfection. Perfection comes with the putting on and the habit of virtue. This can happen in the life of a child correctly raised in Faith, in a Catholic home. Many saints have been children or very young, but the perfection of their lives revealed that something, someone, helped them to know and love God. I think of the saints listed in the Canon of the Mass who were young when they died--Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, and Cecilia. Like the women in the New Testament, at some point in their young lives, they recognized their need for salvation, repented, and became lovers of Christ, following perfection even to face death itself.

I worked with youth many years ago. The success of one of my groups, happily, were the teens from excellent Catholic families, whose parents were Church-going Catholics, some home schooling. These teens and I planned May Crownings, Days of Renewal, Penance Services with the priest chaplain and many other worthwhile endeavors. We reached out to those who needed conversion from a position of strength, sharing the Gospel with those teens in the same high school who were drug addicts, alcoholics, fornicators, etc. Without the strength of that core group, there would have been no conversions. In another high school, I could not find that core group, even though the Catholic school had a population of 2,000 students. I failed to find the core group-those already converted who could share the Good News. I had to work on evangelization and at the level of conversion, but the students were too wealthy, too complacent and did not want metanoia. I left, shaking the proverbial dust off my feet when I realized the doors of their hearts were too closed for the Gospel message.

Christ Himself did not work in all places, towns, cities. He would go, preach, and leave. The Good News was available, God Himself was available, and He never chased after anyone. He simply was. He said, Come follow me, and those who responded to grace did follow Him. They began a road to perfection through conversion. Only those who turn and leave sin can be in the True Presence of God and learn the way of virtue. The others may be turned to salt, as they keep looking towards sin, instead of towards God. That is the lesson of Lot's wife. Her heart was still in Sodom and Gomorrah. She had not converted to God's message of salvation-to leave sin. She died, but she was already dead spiritually. To be continued.

Perfection Series II:iii

On Perfection Part One of Old Series; Part iii of Re-posts

Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection. 

(Dedicated to my seminarian friends, who in some places, are being taught to be mediocre.)

This is one of the promises given to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque for those who keep the Nine First Fridays of Masses. On June 11, 1899, Pope St. Leo the XIII dedicated the entire world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

What is the connection between the pursuit of perfection and the Sacred Heart of Jesus? What is this seeking of perfection called for by Christ Himself?  In Matthew 5:48, Christ states, Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.

In this Age of Mediocrity, I have heard very weak and mealy-mouthed sermons on this passage,to the point that the priests have deconstructed the text so that it no longer means what Christ intended. We are called to perfection. We are not called to second-best, or "good enough", or "getting by". Some preachers have compare "wholeness" to "holiness". This is not so. That is a New Age confusion of terms. We are called to be like the Father, Our Father, in whom we were made in His Image and Likeness. St. Bernard of Clairvaux has said that we have kept the Image,but lost the Likeness and that Likeness is living in the life of Sanctifying Grace.

In this age of the dumbing down of everything-politics, education, entertainment, culture-we have lost the sense of perfection. I hear good Catholics state, "I shall be happy if I get to Purgatory." That is not even good enough and it is false humility. To seek perfection is to want to bring Heaven down to Earth now, to be a saint now, in the messy world of secularism and sin. Christ always calls us to the hard and narrow way. If we aim at the wide way, we shall miss the mark.

My dad taught me archery. He also taught me how to shoot. He always said, "Aim at the center." If one concentrates on the bulls-eye, one will learn the technique and train the eye. No discipline, no success. I loved learning such skills, and I had to listen, be patient, practice over and over. Like all sports, one aims at perfection. I loved hitting the mark, the bulls-eye. Those who aim at the mediocre will never be great at anything.

This is not about competition, unless one is competing with one's self. Nor is it about pride. The fake humility in the world of the West, which discourages excellence and praise mediocrity,  the point of the drama,Amadeus, creates an atmosphere of envy. Evil hates good and mediocrity hates excellence. 

So why do priests in sermons give in to this Age of Mediocrity, not merely by ignoring the call to perfection, but by undermining God's Own Words in the Scriptures? Because they disagree with God, these priests at the pulpit lower their own standards and insult the laity by not calling them to perfection.

Why do I mean by this? The priests who teach mediocrity have lost the vision of holiness themselves and no longer believe that the laity can be holy. They have fallen into a trap of modern psychological interpretation which separates doctrinal teaching from pastoral teaching. There is no such separation. Pastoral theology is the application of doctrine, not the deviation from doctrine.

How to be perfect is simple. Put on the mind of Christ, writes St. Paul in many places in his epistles. One reference is from Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God.

Thinking like Christ brings us into relationship with the Father and the Holy Ghost. The Indwelling of the Trinity, given to us at Baptism and Confirmation, leads us to this perfection, if we cooperate. 

There can be no compromises, no watering down of the message. Bonhoeffer reminded us of this in his discussion of Cheap Grace and Costly Grace, in his The Cost of Discipleship, a book which changed my life when I read it at 23. One chooses either the less or the more. At about the same time, I read Harry Blamires, The Christian Mind. I was also "into" C. S. Lewis and Charles Williams at the time. There are excellent reads for young minds. The earlier that one realizes that the pursuit of excellence is the Way of Christ's Call to us, the better. Disciplining the mind and the heart are easier is one pursues Christ's Mind and Christ's Heart at a early age. Perfection of the mind is a theme in Thomas Aquinas, as I have written on this blog before. The intellect must be perfected in order to live the life of virtue.

However, it is never too late. God, who is Infinite and does not merely see us as we are at one moment in time, but as we are in our entire life, can do in months, even weeks, what we have not done in years. We only need to be convinced that the call to perfection is His Call. Ignore those mediocre priests, pray for them, call them to a higher vision. 

This is what St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and Pope St. Leo XIII did for the Church-give us a higher vision. The heart of Christ becomes our heart, in the world, wherever we find ourselves, and gives us confidence and grace to live His Will in the world. The next time I cover this topic, I shall look into what perfection looks like. By the way, martyrs are not suddenly "made". These men, women and children have lived perfection before being able to die for Christ.  Another Margaret, St. Margaret Clitherow, lived in a time when mediocrity was rewarded. She lived in the perfection of grace which led her to martyrdom. This is our call.

I do not have my works of St. Bernard of Clairvaux with me, but I can paraphrase one of his sayings: There is rejoicing in heaven when a bad man becomes good, but how much more rejoicing is there when a good man becomes perfect.

Perfection II:ii

On the Indwelling of the Holy Trinity

Theophoroi” or God-bearers. When was the last time you heard a sermon on the Indwelling of the Trinity? I referred to this Truth of the Catholic Church before on this blog, but I return to it today after several discussions with lay friends who had never heard of this before.

Garrigou-Lagrange is my basis for explanation, but we have the Fathers of the Church, and the Scriptures as the foundation of all following teaching. The great Dominican synthesizes centuries of teaching. I am not going to emphasize the Indwelling of the Trinity is all created things, but in the specific soul which is Baptized into Christ. Garrigou-Lagrange notes the Scriptures relating to the Coming of the Spirit in the Gospels, and particularly the Priestly Prayer of Christ in the Gospel of John. But, I want to move on from the references to the Holy Spirit and comment on the Indwelling of the entire Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. But, before I do that, I want to look at Garrigou-Lagrange's shedding light on the foundations necessary for this Indwelling.

Obviously, only those who are Baptized, and I capitalize the word for emphasis, have this Indwelling. But, there is more to the Life of God in each one of us than the first Sacrament of Initiation. The spiritual writer notes St. Thomas Aquinas, stating, that Pope Leo XIII (why is he not canonized?) used Thomistic explanations in his encyclical on the Holy Spirit Divinun illud munusFor God is in all things by His essence, power, and presence, according to His one common mode, as the cause existing in the effects which participate In His goodness. Above and beyond this common mode, however, there is one special mode belonging to the rational nature wherein God is said to be present as the object known is in the knower, and the beloved in the lover. And since the rational creature by its own operation of (supernatural) knowledge and love attains to God Himself, according to this special mode, God is said not only to exist in the rational creature, but also to dwell therein as in His own temple. So no other effect can be put down as the reason why the divine Person is in the rational creature in a new mode, except sanctifying grace. . . . Again, we are said to possess only what we can freely use or enjoy: but to have the power of enjoying the divine Person can only be according to sanctifying grace.

The great heresies of our time deny the need for sanctifying grace for salvation or for spiritual growth. Someone commented to me one time that to “be good” was the only thing necessary to get to heaven. Sadly, this is not the case, nor are the young taught, even in so-called Catholic schools, the real need for the Sacraments.

Notice in the above selection that the term “rational” in relationship to human nature is clearly delineated. Why? Catholicism stresses knowing God and loving Him, not merely experiencing Him in some sort of Quietist or Pentecostal manner. Do we not want to know everything about a person we love? Do we not want to find out all about that person? That sanctifying grace moves us to knowledge of the Indwelling of the Trinity demands that we receive the Sacraments on a regular basis. Without sanctifying grace, the initial gift of God at Baptism is starved of spiritual food.

Garrigou-Lagrange is clear that we all share in the Indwelling of the Trinity, only in degrees. This is true not only of all of us, but of the saints. The saint who has the fullness of the Indwelling of the Trinity is, of course, the Theotokos, the Mother of God. That the Doctors of the Church exhibit this rational knowledge and are God-bearers in a smaller sense than Mary, Mother of God, indicates a degree of holiness. But, Garrigou-Lagrange shows us over and over again, that all are called to such holiness, albeit in different degrees. God-bearers is the term quoted from St. Ignatius of Antioch, who used the term “theophoroi” or God-bearers. This term applies to us, the members of the Church Militant today, in 2012. I include an icon of St. Joseph of Arimathea, who brought Christ and the Grail to England. He, indeed, is a model God-bearer. To be continued...

Starting Up The Re-View of Perfection II:i

The Ladder of Perfection

St. John Climacus, also known as St. John of Sinai, wrote a book for the monks of the famous monastery of St. Catherine, wrote a book for Lent, called the Great Fast, called either The Ladder of Perfection or The Ladder of Divine Ascent. As his feast day is tomorrow (note in the old series, not this one), I am highlighting parts of his book, which can be found and ordered from here. Orthodoxwiki has a great article with links as well.

The steps are:

  1. On renunciation of the world
  2. On detachment
  3. On exile or pilgrimage; concerning dreams that beginners have
  4. On blessed and ever-memorable obedience (in addition to episodes involving many individuals)
  5. On painstaking and true repentance which constitutes the life of the holy convicts; and about the Prison
  6. On remembrance of death
  7. On joy-making mourning
  8. On freedom from anger and on meekness
  9. On remembrance of wrongs
  10. On slander or calumny
  11. On talkativeness and silence
  12. On lying
  13. On despondency
  14. On that clamorous mistress, the stomach
  15. On incorruptible purity and chastity, to which the corruptible attain by toil and sweat
  16. On love of money, or avarice
  17. On non-possessiveness (that hastens one Heavenwards)
  18. On insensibility, that is, deadening of the soul and the death of the mind before the death of the body
  19. On sleep, prayer, and psalmody with the brotherhood
  20. On bodily vigil and how to use it to attain spiritual vigil, and how to practise it
  21. On unmanly and puerile cowardice
  22. On the many forms of vainglory
  23. On mad pride and (in the same Step) on unclean blasphemous thoughts; concerning unmentionable blasphemous thoughts
  24. On meekness, simplicity, and guilelessness which come not from nature but from conscious effort, and about guile
  25. On the destroyer of the passions, most sublime humility, which is rooted in spiritual perception
  26. On discernment of thoughts, passions and virtues; on expert discernment; brief summary of all aforementioned
  27. On holy stillness of body and soul; different aspects of stillness and how to distinguish them
  28. On holy and blessed prayer, the mother of virtues, and on the attitude of mind and body in prayer
  29. Concerning Heaven on earth, or Godlike dispassion and perfection, and the resurrection of the soul before the general resurrection
  30. Concerning the linking together of the supreme trinity among the virtues; a brief exhortation summarizing all that has said at length in this book

I hope this section makes you want to follow this saint's writings.