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Monday 12 May 2014

Code-Breakers Four

The hardest codes of sin to break are those which have been in families for years and which have destroyed relationships in families for years. Those which are subtle also become the hardest codes to break.

For example, if family members all have a habit of negativity and even cruelty, where everyone acts the same way, the code-breaker may be the only one who sees these sins. The code-breaker would have to repent of these sins in her life and then pray for the family members.

Sometimes the subtle sins become so intrenched in families, that families identify with those sins. Gluttony may be one such sin, or excessive shopping and wasting money, or, one of the worst, narcissism.

I know families where incestuous relationships where daughters were preyed upon by dads and granddads have been broken by honest people who break the code by being open and admitting that the evil is in their family.

But, what if the sin is spiritual incest where the father constantly puts the daughter above the mother in attention and gifts? Where the father spends more time with the daughter than the wife and where the wife's needs are never considered?

The daughter is manipulated to hate the mother and to desire to be the center of the dad's life, leading to mutual symbiotic sins. The girl may become a narcissist because of this horribly manipulated relationship.

This is a spiritual incest, where maybe nothing physical has happened, but the relationship is out of order and seriously sinful.

A person may be called to break that type of code of sin, which may have been passed down in how families act towards each other.

Code-breakers also are those of different ethnic groups who marry into families where sins which are accepted by certain ethnic groups as "normal" need to be broken.

For example, an English family may have years of Masonry passed down in the family and an outsider from another country, who is Catholic, like a Polish girl marrying into the family, can bring in the fresh perspective in order to break the code.

Or, cheating in business, or being members of the Mafia or being so-called Catholic democrats who support pro-abortion politicians....all these could be codes which the outsider can see and break through prayer and suffering.

Marrying outside the enclosed cultural group may be a healthy way to break codes passed down in certain cultural groupings.

to be continued....

Code-Breakers Three

I have met holy people. These Catholics are all extremely interesting people. Saints are not boring. Serious sinners are boring. Those who commit sexual sins or get drunk (which is a mortal sin) over and over, become boring people.

This does not mean that we ignore those in pain or that we do not love them. But, we do not have to admit that their lives are interesting. We do have to help them out of sin as much as we can in our immediate families.

However, one must pray and not charge in like a bull in a china shop. 

Those who are called to be the breakers of the line of sin in their families may have to stand up to serious sins which have plagued those families. Science wants us to say that the proclivity for alcoholism, for example, is inherited. What it inherited is the proclivity to a certain sin in families.

Once a person honestly sits down and looks at the sins in the family, can one realistically take these to prayer, in Adoration and through having Masses said for that intention.

Sometimes code-breakers go so far as to offer their lives in order to break the code. Michael Voris' mom did that, as well as the woman I have written about twice on this blog, who gave her life for her husband's conversion.

Not many code-breakers would be called to this type of sacrifice, but other sacrifices can be made.

I have given up chocolate, desserts and beer for the rest of my life for three people in my family caught in the code of sin. 

God will show you how to do this, and the link I put on the second part of this blog could be a way for some  code-breakers to engage in the breaking of the code.

To break the code, one must deal with the same sins in one's self. One is not free to deal with the forces of sin without being strictly on the road to perfection.

More later.

Page of Reposts on Gregory of Nazianzus

I apologize to St. Gregory for overlooking his feast day on the ninth of May. I am sure he forgives me from the heights of heaven.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Part 88: DoC: Gregory Nazianzus and Perfection

If it had been permitted to Paul to utter what the Third Heaven... contained, and his own advance, or ascension, or assumption thither, perhaps we should know something more about God's Nature, if this was the mystery of the rapture. But since it was ineffable, we too will honour it by silence. Thus much we will hear Paul say about it, that we know in part and we prophesy in part.... This and the like to this are the confessions of one who is not rude in knowledge,...who threatens to give proof of Christ speaking in him, the great doctor and champion of the truth. Wherefore he estimates all knowledge on earth only as through a glass darkly,... as taking its stand upon little images of the truth. Now, unless I appear to anyone too careful, and over anxious about the examination of this matter, perhaps it was of this and nothing else that the Word Himself intimated that there were things which could not now be borne, but which should be borne and cleared up hereafter,' and which John the Forerunner of the Word and great Voice of the Truth declared even the whole world could not contain. Found here

Gregory of Nazianzus is considered one of the greatest orators of the Church. He, like the Doctors we have seen here is glimpses. wrote a great deal on the Holy Spirit and the Trinity.

What always strikes me about the Doctors of the Church is how comfortable and consistent they are in discussing lofty, mysterious yet possible perfection.

Silence follows the unitive state experience, of course.

To be continued......

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Part 89: DoC and Perfection: Gregory of Nazianzus

The Orations, from which I took the last post and this one, are phenomenal works. These are found on the above link.

We moderns think we are so much more intelligent than ancient peoples. Silly idea. The sublime writings of Gregory on the Trinity provide beautiful meditations.

But, here, I am concentrating on perfection. I wonder is St. Teresa got her image of the Mansions from Gregory as well as the Scriptures? Comments in blue....

VIII. And yet, O talkative Dialectician, I will ask thee one small question,24 and answer thou me, as He saith to Job, Who through whirlwind and cloud giveth Divine admonitions.25 Are there many mansions in God's House, as thou hast heard, or only one? Of course you will admit that there are many, and not only one. Now, are they all to be filled, or only some, and others not; so that some will be left empty, and will have been prepared to no purpose? Of course all will be filled, for nothing can be in vain which has been done by God. And can you tell me what you will consider this Mansion to be? Is it the rest and glory which is in store There for the Blessed, or something else?-No, not anything else. Since then we are agreed upon this point, let us further examine another also. Is there any thing that procures these Mansions, as I think there is; or is there nothing?-Certainly there is-What is it? Is it not that there are various modes of conduct, and various purposes, one leading one way, another way, according to the proportion of faith, and these we call Ways? 

I hope you, dear readers, find the repetition of the possibility, as well as the call, to perfection in all the writers so far comforting? 

This persistent thread shows us all that we are called to this journey and we miss out on what it means to be truly human if we do not respond to grace and knowledge.

Must we, then, travel all, or some of these Ways ... the same individual along them all, if that be possible; or, if not, along as many as may be; or else along some of them? And even if this may not be, it would still be a great thing, at least as it appears to me, to travel excellently along even one.-"You are right in your conception."-What then when you hear there is but One way, and that a narrow one,26 does the word seem to you to shew? That there is but one on account of its excellence. For it is but one, even though it be split into many parts. And narrow because of its difficulties, and because it is trodden by few in comparison with the multi-trade of the adversaries, and of those who travel along the road of wickedness. "So I think too." Well, then, my good friend, since this is so, why do you, as though condemning our doctrine for a certain poverty, rush headlong down that one which leads through what you call arguments and speculations, but I frivolities and quackeries? Let Paul reprove you with those bitter reproaches, in which, after his list of the Gifts of Grace, he says, Are all Apostles? Are all Prophets? etc.27

Oration 16 in the Pennsylvania University Museum
The reference to Paul underlines the great respect all the Doctors have for the Apostle to the Gentiles. But, what is noted is the use of Paul for the way to perfection-the response to grace.

IX. But, be it so. Lofty thou art, even beyond the lofty, even above the clouds, if thou wilt, a spectator of things invisible, a hearer of things unspeakable; one who hast ascended after Elias, and who after Moses hast been deemed worthy of the Vision of God, and after Paul hast been taken up into heaven why dost thou mould the rest of thy fellows in one day into Saints, and ordain them Theologians, and as it were breathe into them instruction, and make them many councils of ignorant oracles? Why dost thou entangle those who are weaker in thy spider's web, if it were something great and wise? Why dost thou stir up wasps' nests against the Faith? Why dost thou suddenly spring a flood of dialectics upon us, as the fables of old did the Giants? Why hast thou collected all that is frivolous and unmanly among men, like a rabble, into one torrent, and having made them more effeminate by flattery, fashioned a new workshop, cleverly making a harvest for thyself out of their want of understanding? Dost thou deny that this is so, and are the other matters of no account to thee? Must thy tongue rule at any cost, and canst thou not restrain the birthpang of thy speech? Thou mayest find many other honourable subjects for discussion. To these turn this disease of thine with some advantage. Attack the silence of Pythagoras,28 and the Orphic beans, and the novel brag about "The Master said." Attack the ideas of Plato,29 and the transmigrations and courses of our souls, and the reminiscences, and the unlovely loves of the soul for lovely bodies. Attack the atheism of Epicurus,30 and his atoms, and his unphilosophic pleasure; or Aristotle's petty Providence, and his artificial system, and his discourses about the mortality of the soul, and the humanitarianism of his doctrine. Attack the superciliousness of the Stoa,31 or the greed and vulgarity of the Cynic.32 Attack the "Void and Full" (what nonsense), and all the details about the gods and the sacrifices and the idols and demons, whether beneficent or malignant, and all the tricks that people play with divination, evoking of gods, or of souls, and the power of the stars. And if these things seem to thee unworthy of discussion as petty and already often confuted, and thou wilt keep to thy line, and seek the satisfaction of thy ambition in it; then here too I will provide thee with broad paths. Philosophize about the world or worlds; about matter; about soul; about natures endowed with reason, good or bad; about resurrection, about judgment, about reward, or the Sufferings of Christ. For in these subjects to hit the mark is not useless, and to miss it is not dangerous. But with God we shall have converse, in this life only in a small degree; but a little later, it may be, more perfectly, in the Same, our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory for ever. Amen.

This is the language aimed even at the New Agers and Atheists of our own time. What a fantastic orator is this great saint. I hope you smile in recognition of the vanities of human errors which he lists here.

How modern he sounds to us. To be continued.....

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Post 90: DoC: Gregory "The Theologian" and Perfection continued

I do not think comments are necessary here. Gregory is called "The Theologian". However, he was also known for his poetry. Tomorrow, I shall share some of his poetry.

No one has yet discovered or ever shall discover what God is in his nature and
essence. As for a discovery some time in the future, let those who have a mind to it
research and speculate. The discovery will take place, so my reason tells me, when
this God-like, divine thing, 

I mean our mind and reason, mingles with its kin,
when the copy returns to the pattern it now longs after. This seems to me to be the
meaning of the great dictum that we shall, in time to come, “know even as we are
known.” (Unitive State)

But for the present what reaches us is a scant emanation, as it were a small beam from a great light 

(Illumination/Illuminative State)

which means that anyone who “knew” God or whose
“knowledge” of him has been attested in the Bible, had a manifestly more brilliant
knowledge than others not equally illuminated. This superiority was reckoned
knowledge in the full sense, not because it really was so, but by the contrast of
relative strengths.

And a convenient answer to our Protestant brethren, who do not necessarily believe in perfection....

To Whom was that Blood offered that was shed for us, and why was It shed? I
mean the precious and famous Blood of our God and High priest and Sacrifice.
We were detained in bondage by the Evil One, sold under sin, and receiving
pleasure in exchange for wickedness. Now, since a ransom belongs only to him
who holds in bondage, I ask to whom was this offered, and for what cause?
If to the Evil One, fie upon the outrage! If the robber receives ransom, not only
from God, but a ransom which consists of God Himself, and has such an illustrious
payment for his tyranny, a payment for whose sake it would have been right for
him to have left us alone altogether.

But if to the Father, I ask first, how? For it was not by Him that we were being
oppressed; and next, On what principle did the Blood of His Only begotten Son
delight the Father, Who would not receive even Isaac, when he was being offered
by his Father, but changed the sacrifice, putting a ram in the place of the human

Is it not evident that the Father accepts Him, but neither asked for Him nor
demanded Him; but on account of the Incarnation, and because Humanity must be
sanctified by the Humanity of God, that He might deliver us Himself, and
overcome the tyrant, and draw us to Himself by the mediation of His Son, Who
also arranged this to the honour of the Father, Whom it is manifest that He obeys

On November 27, 2004, those relics (of Gregory) (along with the remains of John Chrysostom), were returned to Istanbul by Pope John Paul II, with the Vatican retaining a small portion of each. They are now in a place of honor at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George in the Phanar (from wiki). With the problems of Islamists burning monasteries and some churches in Turkey at this time, I wish those relics had stayed in Rome.

Modern Silifke,  place of ancient Seleucia ad Calycadnum

Robert Bellarmine IV Repost

Tuesday April 9th, 2013

Part 109: Doctors of the Church and Perfection: Robert Bellarmine

The Church has been so blessed to have seen the rise of great defenders of the Faith just when needed.

Bellarmine is untangling many of the false ideas of Protestantism in his works and clarifying simple, as well as complex teachings, which had fallen into confusion.

We have seen his comments on the Theological Virtues, and we saw his comments on the Evangelical Counsels, , that is, his advice on an examination of conscience which helps one achieve those counsels.

Now, he moves to the Four Cardinal Virtues, and emphasizes three virtues which had become misunderstood in the wake of  the Protestant Revolt. However, I want to emphasize his section on prayer, as  here one clearly sees the movement from purgation to perfection. I shall make comments in blue.

In fine, that prayer can obtain many gifts, St. John Chrysostom beautifully teaches us in his " two 
books" on Prayer, in which he employs the comparison of the human hands. For as man is born 
naked and helpless, and in want of all things, and vet cannot complain of his Creator, because He has 
given him hands, which are the organ of organs, and by which he is enabled to provide for himself 
food, garments, house, &c.; so also the spiritual man can do nothing without the divine .assistance; 
but he possesses the power of prayer, the organ of all spiritual organs, whereby he can easily provide 
for himself all things. 

Besides these three primary advantages of prayer, there are also many others. For, in the first place, 
prayer enlightens the mind; man cannot directly fix the eye of his soul upon God, who is the light, without  being enlightened by Him. “Come ye to him and be enlightened” saith David. 

This enlightenment can come both in the purgation state and, obviously, in the state of illumination, when one has infused knowledge about Scripture and God. One of the problems with modern Catholics is that they do not leave enough time for prayer. One hour a day in prayer, plus one hour a day in reading Scripture, that is, the lectio divina, should bring about enlightenment with regard to one's sins and failings.

Secondly, prayer nourishes 
our hope and confidence; for the oftener we speak with another, the more confidently do we approach to him. 

Thirdly, it inflames our charity, and makes our soul more capable of receiving greater gifts, as St. Augustine 

Fourthly, it increases humility and chaste fear, for he who goes to prayer, acknowledges that he is a 

beggar before God, and therefore humbles himself before Him, and is most careful not to offend Him, of whose 
assistance he stands in need in everything.

One can see in these steps, the necessity for prayer on the way to perfection. In fact, much purgation takes place directly in prayer, especially before the Eucharist in Adoration. Adoration is a great gift to modern Catholics on the road through purgation to illumination.

Fifthly, prayer produces in our mind a contempt of all earthly goods; 

for all temporal objects must appear mean and contemptible in the eyes of him who continually meditates on 
things spiritual and eternal.(See St. Augustine, (Lib. ix. Confess))

Sixthly, prayer gives us incredible delight, 
 since by it we begin to taste how sweet is the Lord. And how great this sweetness is, we may understand from this circumstance alone, that some I have known pass not only nights, but even whole days and nights in prayer, without any trouble or inconvenience. In fine, besides the utility and the pleasure, prayer also adds
dignity and honour to us. For even the angels themselves honour that soul which they see is so often and so familiarly admitted, to speak with the divine Majesty. 

What Bellarmine is describing is an advanced stage of the illuminative state. Such a devotion to prayer becomes a necessity to one seeking union with Christ. But, what is our prayers are unanswered? Read on...

We will now speak on the method of praying well, in which chiefly consists the Art of living well, 
and consequently the Art of dying well. For what our Lord says, “Ask and it shall be given to you, 
for every one that asketh, receiveth;" St. James, in his epistle, declares it to be understood with the condition, if we ask properly. “You ask and receive not, because you ask amiss." (chap, iv.) We may reason then as follows: he who properly asks for the gift of living well, will doubtless receive it; and he who properly asks for perseverance in a good life until death, and by this a happy death also, will certainly obtain it. We will, therefore, briefly explain the conditions of prayer, that so we may learn how to pray well, live well, and die well. 

I am sure you have met people who have their prayers answered regularly. Their prayer is efficacious. One begins to ask those who exhibit efficacious prayer for intercessions. The answers lie in both the purity of heart, mind and soul of the one who prays, and in the strength of the virtues practiced.

The first condition is faith, according to the words of the apostle, " How then shall they call upon 
him, in whom they have not believed?” and with this St. James agrees, " Let him ask in faith, nothing 

After purgation, one begins to pray in the Will of God, being closer to God through purity.

But this necessity of faith is not so to be understood, as if it were necessary to believe that God would 
certainly grant what we ask, for thus our faith would often prove false, and we should therefore 
obtain nothing. We must believe, then, that God is most powerful, most wise, most High, and most 
faithful; and therefore that He knows, and that He can and is prepared to do what we beg, of Him, if 
He shall think proper, and it be expedient for us to receive what we ask. This faith Christ required of 
the two blind men who desired to be cured; "Do you believe, that I can do this unto you?" With the 
same faith did David pray for his sick son; for his words prove, that he believed not for certain that God would grant his request, but only that He could grant it; "Who knoweth whether the Lord may not give him to me, and the child may live?"

God did not answer David's prayer, nor did He answer Paul's prayer.

It cannot be doubted but that with the same faith the apostle Paul prayed to be delivered from the “sting of the flesh," since he prayed with faith, and his faith would have been false if he believed that God would certainly grant what at that time he asked; for he did not then obtain his request. 

And with the same faith does the Church pray, that all heretics, pagans, schismatics, and bad Christians may be converted to penance; and yet it is certain 
they are not all converted. Concerning which matter consult St. Prosper in his books " On the 
Vocation of the Gentiles." 

For those tempted to believe in the heresy of universal salvation, Bellarmine's advice to read St. Prosper may be apropos. 

Another condition of prayer, and that a very necessary one, is hope or confidence. For although we 
must not by faith, which is a work of the understanding, imagine that God will certainly grant our 
requests, yet by hope, which is an act of the will, we may firmly rely upon the divine goodness, and 
certainly hope that God will give us what we ask for. This condition our Lord required of the 
paralytic, to whom He said, " Be of good heart, son, thy sins are forgiven thee." The same the apostle 
requires of all, when he says, “Let us go therefore with confidence to the throne of grace ;" and long 
before him, the prophet thus introduces God, saying, " Because he hath hoped in me, I will deliver 
him." But because hope springs from perfect faith, therefore when the Scripture requires faith in the 
great things, it adds something regarding hope; hence we read in St. Mark, "Amen I say to you, that 
whosoever shall say to this mountain, Be thou removed and be cast into the sea, and shall not 
stagger in his heart, but believe that whatsoever he saith shall be done; it shall be done unto him: "
of which faith producing confidence, are to be understood the words of the apostle; " If I should have 
all faith, so that I could remove mountains, & c

Confidence increases after purgation. Once one is living the life of the virtues, there occurs a corresponding growth of confidence in Divine Providence. 
Hence, John Cassian writes in his Treatise on Prayer, that it is a certain sign of our request being 
granted, when in prayer we hope that God will certainly give us what we ask; and when in our 
petitions we do not in any way hesitate, but pour forth in prayers with spiritual joy.

A third condition is charity or justice, by which we are delivered from our sins; for none but the 
friends of God obtain the gifts of God. Thus David speaks in the Psalms: " The eyes of the Lord are 
upon the just; and his ears unto their prayers: " and in another place, " If I have looked at iniquity in 
my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” 

The peace of the person who is abiding in the Lord is a great witness of the state of illumination.

And in the New Testament our Lord himself says: " If you abide in me, and my words (precepts) 
abide in you, - you shall ask whatsoever you will, and it shall be done unto you." And the beloved 
disciple saith: "Dearly beloved, if our heart do not reprehend us, we have confidence towards God: 
and whatsoever we shall ask, we shall receive of him; because we keep his commandments, and do 
those things which are pleasing in his sight." (1 Epist. of St. John iii. 21, 22.) This is not contrary to the doctrine, that when the publican asked of God the forgiveness of his sins, he returned home 
"justified;" for a penitent sinner does not obtain his request as a sinner, but as a penitent; for as a 
sinner he is the enemy of God; as a penitent, the friend of God. He that commits sin, does what is not 
pleasing unto God; but he who repents of his sins, does what is most pleasing to Him. 

A fourth condition is humility, by which he that prays, confides not in his own justice, but in the 
goodness of God: "But to whom shall I have respect, but to him that is poor and little, and of a 
contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my words?" (Isaias lxvi. 2.) And Ecclesiasticus adds: "The 
prayer of him that humbleth himself, shall pierce the clouds: and till it come nigh he will not be 
comforted: and he will not depart till the Most High behold." (xxxv. 21.) 

Here, the modern men and women fail miserably  Either falling into vainglory or into false humility  one avoids the reality of facing one's self.

A fifth condition is devotion, by which we pray not negligently, as many are accustomed to do, but 
with attention, earnestness, diligence, and fervour: our Lord severely blames those who pray with 
their lips only; thus He speaks by Isaiah: "This people draw near me with their mouth, and with their 
lips glorify me; but their heart is far from me." (xxix. 13.) This virtue springs from a lively faith, and consists not in habit alone, but in deed. For he who attentively and with a firm faith considers how great is the Majesty of God, how great our nothingness, and how important those things are we ask for, cannot possibly help praying with the greatest humility, reverence, devotion, and fervour. 

We shall here add powerful testimonies from two of the holy fathers. St. Jerome in his Dialogues 
against the Luciferians, says: "I commence prayer: I should not pray, if I did not believe; but if I had 
true faith, this heart, which God sees, I would cleanse; I would strike my breast: I would water my 
cheeks with my tears: I would neglect all attention to my body and become pale; I would throw 
myself at the feet of my Lord, and wash them with my weeping, and wipe them with my hair: I 
would clasp the cross, and not depart before I had obtained mercy. Now most frequently during my 
prayers, I am walking either along the porticos, or am counting my usury; or being carried away by evil thought; I entertain those things which it is shameful to speak of. Where is our faith ? Do we suppose that Jonas prayed thus? The three children? Daniel in the lions den? Or the good thief on the cross?"

Robert Bellarmine III Repost

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Part 108: Doctors of the Church and Perfection: Robert Bellarmine

Part of the road to perfection, as one has seen in this long series, is the formation of the mind to the Mind of Christ. When I have taught this, some have said to me, "How can I know the Mind of Christ?" The answer is simple, one follows the Teaching Magisterium of the Church, receiving the sacraments frequently, and forming an adult conscience. We must do this. We have no option to ignore the formation of conscience in our lives.

It is the duty of parents to teach this method to their children. The formation of children begins as early as possible, depending on the child, but by seven, when a child can discern good and evil (for many it is earlier), the method of daily examen can begin. Do you want your children to become saints? Do you want them to walk in the way to perfection?

Here is Bellarmine at his Jesuit best

But some one may reply: "What advice do you give to teach us to watch as we ought, and by 
watching to prepare for a good death?" Nothing more useful occurs to me, than for us frequently and 
seriously to examine our conscience, that so we may prepare for death...

In fine, there are hardly any Catholics, who, when near death, do not confess 
their sins. But what shall we say of those who are snatched away by a sudden death? 
What of those who are afflicted with madness, or fall into delirium before confession? What of those 
who, being grievously afflicted by their disease, cannot even think of their sins ? What of those who 
sin whilst dying, or die in sin, as they do who engage in an unjust war, or in a duel, or are killed in 
the act of adultery? 

It is extremely important for those who live in the world to develop this habit. Do not wait until your children are teens, start when they are in preparation for the sacrament of Confession at the latest.

Prudently to avoid these and other like misfortunes, nothing can be imagined more useful than for 
those who value their salvation, , twice every day, morning and night, diligently to examine their 
conscience; what they have done during the night, or the preceding day; what they have said, 
desired, or thought of, in which sin may have entered; and if they shall discover anything mortal, let them not defer seeking the remedy of true contrition, with a resolution to approach the sacrament of penance on the very first opportunity. 
Wherefore, let them ask of God the gift of contrition, let them ponder on the enormity of sin, let them 
detest their sins from their heart, and seriously ask themselves who is the "offended and the 
offenders." Man, a worm, offends God the Almighty; a base slave, the Lord of heaven and earth! 
Spare not then your tears, nor cease to strike your breast: in fine, make a firm resolution never more 
to offend God, never more to irritate the best of Fathers. If this examination be continued morning 
and night, or at least once in the day, it can scarcely happen that we shall die in sin, or mad, or 
delirious. Thus it will be, that every preparation being made for a good death, neither its uncertainty will trouble us, nor the happiness of eternal life fail us.

To be continued...

Robert Bellarmine II Repost

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Part 107: Doctors of the Church and Perfection: Robert Bellarmine

In the former section, Bellarmine writes about Faith. Here, he continues looking at the necessity of Hope and Love, those Theological Virtues, all three, we receive in baptism. There are many good Catholics who do not think we should admonish the wicked or even those among us who are weak. This idea is a false charity. Read on... Bellarmine describes exactly the need for the purgation state, the state of purification. Real love, that is the virtue of charity, must be connected to a pure heart and a pure mind., as well as a pure soul.

Without this purity, we cannot enter into the life of the virtues, given to us. Sadly, many Catholics desire to blur distinctions between sin and goodness, impurity and purity.

Hear what the wise man thinks of the hope of the wicked: "The hope of the wicked is as dust, which 
is blown away with the wind, and as a thin froth which is dispersed by the storm: and a smoke that 
is scattered abroad by the wind; and as the remembrance of a guest of one day that passeth by."
(Wisdom v. 15.). 

Thus the wise man admonishes the wicked, that their hope is weak not strong; short not lasting; they may indeed, whilst they are alive, entertain some hopes, that someday they will repent and be reconciled to God: but when death overtakes them, unless the Almighty by a special grace move their heart, and inspire them with true sorrow, their hope will be changed into despair, and they will exclaim with the rest of the wicked: "Therefore we have erred from the way of truth, and the light of justice hath not shined unto us, and the sun of understanding hath not risen upon us. What hath pride profited us? or what advantage hath the boasting of riches brought us? All those things are passed away like a shadow," &c. (Wisdom v. 6 8.) Thus doth the wise man admonish us, that if we wish to live well and die well, we must not dare to remain in sin, even for one moment, nor allow ourselves to be deceived by a vain confidence, that we have as yet many years to live, and that time will be given to us for repentance. 

Such a vain confidence hath deceived many, and will deceive many more, unless they wisely learn 
whilst they have time the Art of dying well. “There now remaineth charity, the third virtue, which is justly called the “queen of virtues;" with this no one can perish, without it no one can live, either in this life or in the next. But that alone is true charity which springs from a " pure heart: " it is "from God," as St. John saith; and also more clearly St. Paul, "The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us." (Epist. to Romans v. 5.) Charity is therefore said to come from a "pure heart," because it is not enkindled in an impure heart, but in one purified from its errors by faith, according to the words of the apostle Peter: "purifying their hearts by faith: " and by divine hope, it is also purified from the love and desire of earthly things. 

For as a fire cannot be enkindled in wood that is green or damp, but only in dry wood; so also the fire of charity requires a heart purified from earthly affections, and from a foolish confidence in its own strength. 

Bellarmine does not mince words, nor should we. The misunderstanding of the nature of real love keeps many from following the way of perfection. As Bellarmine notes above, we must be purified of errors concerning the Faith.  One of the problems with today's Catholics, for example, is that too many want to compromise regarding the Teachings of the Church, with contraception, for example. Just as many Evangelicals practice brith control, these Catholics are held back in their walk to Christ, not allowing God to purify their hearts and minds and souls. Many problems, including the proliferation of sin, occurs. 

From this explanation we can understand what is true charity, and what false and feigned. For should we delight to speak of God, and shed even tears at our prayers should we do many good works, give alms and often fast; but yet allow impure love to remain in our heart, or vain glory, or 
hatred to our neighbour, or any other of those vices that make our hearts depraved this is not true 
and divine charity, but only its shadow. With the greatest reason then does St. Paul, when speaking 
of true and perfect justice, not mention simply, faith, hope, and charity: but he adds, “Now the end of the commandment is charity from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and an unfeigned faith." This is the true Art of living and dying well, if we persevere till death in true and perfect charity

There is a false faith, a "feigned faith" if we do not allow our selves to be conformed to the mind of the Church regarding Faith and Morals. Bellarmine sees this plainly, writing at the greatest time of chaos concerning the Protestant Revolt.

We must each decide not to live in the shadowland of feigned faith.

To be continued...

Doctors of the Church Reposts-Robert Bellarmine I

I am behind one Doctor whose day was the ninth in the Tridentine Calendar, and I shall be ahead for one on the thirteenth.

First, St. Robert Bellarmine will be re-featured in the next several posts. Then, I shall return to St. Gregory. I must admit, I have given up posting these as Series II. You all are intelligent enough to follow the series. St. Robert's feast is May 13th.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Part 106: Doctors of the Church and Perfection-the Jesuits: Robert Bellarmine

One may be surprised that only two Doctors of the Church are Jesuits, but they do belong to a new order than, for example, the Franciscans and Benedictines.

St. Robert Bellarmine has been "bad-mouthed" in the past decades because of his part in the Galileo Controversy. Saints are not infallible and remember, that the issue concerning Galileo was not his idea that the earth goes about the sun, but that he stated in matters of truth, science trumps Scripture. That was his mistake, and one can study this on one's own.

Robert Bellarmine arrived at a crucial time in the history of the Church. The confusion following the Protestant Revolt demanded theologians and Church leaders with brilliance and the ability to write. He has both.

For my purposes, I shall be looking at one document carefully which is connected to the ideals of perfection. Bellarmine wrote The Art of Dying Well, a title which should appeal to many of my readers.

One of the biggest problems I have encountered in Catholics concerning the road to perfection is that many simply do not believe we are all called to start upon and come to the goal of this journey.

How many people I have met in a short period of time who believe only in universal salvation; that is, the salvation of all people regardless of their lives. It is as if the idea of the Merciful Saviour has deadened some Catholics view of consequences for evil, or merely, tepidity. The way of perfection begins with orthodoxy and faith. Bellarmine makes an excellent point on the difference between real faith and fake faith. His words are echoed later, down the centuries, in Bonhoeffer.

Let me start with this section from the cited book:

Let us begin with faith, which is the first of all the virtues that exists in the heart of a justified man. 
Not without reason, doth the apostle add " unfeigned" to faith. For faith begins justification, provided 
it be true and sincere, not false or feigned. The faith of heretics does not begin justification, because it 
is not true, but false; the faith of bad Catholics does not begin justification, because it is not sincere, 
but feigned. It is said to be feigned in two ways: when either we do not really believe, but only 
pretend to believe; or when we indeed believe, but do not live, as we believe we ought to do. 
In both these ways it seems the words of St. Paul must be understood, in his Epistle to Titus: "They 
profess that they know God: but in their works they deny him." (chap. i. 16.) Thus also do the holy 
fathers St. Jerome and St. Augustine, interpret these words of the apostle. 
Now, from this first virtue of a just man, we may easily understand, how great must be the multitude of those who do not live well, and who therefore die ill. I pass by infidels, pagans, heretics, and atheists, who are completely ignorant of the Art of dying well. And amongst Catholics, how many are there who in words, " profess to know God, but in their works deny him?" Who acknowledge the mother of our Lord to be a virgin, and yet fear not to blaspheme her? Who praise prayer, fasting, alms deeds, and other good works, and yet always indulge in the opposite vices ? I omit other things that are known to all. Let not those then boast that they possess “unfeigned” faith, who either do not believe what they pretend to believe, or else do not live as the Catholic Church commands them to do; and therefore they acknowledge by this conduct, that they have not yet begun to live well: nor can they hope to die happily, unless by the grace of God they learn the Art of living well. 

Another virtue of a just man is hope, or "a good conscience," as St. Paul has taught us to call it. This 
virtue comes from faith, for he cannot hope in God who either does not know the true God, or does 
not believe Him to be powerful and merciful. But to excite and strengthen our faith, that so it may be called not merely hope, but even confidence, a good conscience is very necessary. For how can any one approach God, and ask favours from Him, when he is conscious of heaving committed sin, and of not having expiated it by true repentance ? Who asks a benefit from an enemy? Who can expect to be relieved by him, who he knows is incensed against him ? 

I have met many, many converts in the past two years here in England and some have formed good consciences and some have not. The latter group, mostly, has been, sadly, badly catechized. But, a good conscience is the beginning of the purification stage. Without this formation of conscience, perfection is, simply, impossible.

To be continued....

Tower of Ivory

Song of Solomon 7:4

New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)
 Your neck is like an ivory tower. Your eyes are pools in Heshbon,by the gate of 
Bath-rabbim.Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon,overlooking Damascus.

The authors of the Litany of Loreto and Newman in his Meditations found the idea of Mary as the Tower of Ivory from the Song of Songs. The Bridegroom states that the neck, which is place of courage and strength, is like a tower of ivory. The ivory tower also symbolized purity. So, too, Our Lady stands tall and fair.