Easier To Be Holy in Europe
And The Call to Perfection
I find it much harder to pursue holiness here in America
than in Europe
I can see how many people struggle against a culture which not only hates the
spiritual, but is in thrall t the material.
American Catholics have, for the most part, sold out to the
American Dream, which is based on American Calvinism. The sign of the elect is
American Catholics have become so entrenched in the ideals
of the Middle Class, like the old bourgeoisie of Europe
that they have lost their souls to worship at the feet of “society”.
I am saddened that so many of my Catholic confreres cannot
see the dangers of pursuing false gods and ignoring the Lord of Lords and God
of Gods in daily life.
So many people may say some prayers, but to set aside an
hour for reading Scripture and for meditation just is not done.
I blame the “new Church’ which moved away from teaching the
necessity of personal holiness.
The old Europe
is gone, of
course, but the buildings and the traces of Catholic culture still exist. Plus,
there does not seem to be a race for conspicuous wealth. My European friends
enjoy simple things, simple meals, simple days out, listening to conversations,
and walking with friends, or even on one’s own.
One cannot walk in the Midwest
One cannot just “be” as the movement for conformity is equaled to being “good
How this adoration of
conformity happened, I am not sure, but it is killing the culture of
Catholicism, which has disappeared in most parishes.
Some fallen away Catholics no longer feel they can return as
the necessity for conformity, not to Catholicism, but unspoken Middle Class
rules, which have nothing to do with Christianity.
Part of the problem is that many Catholics have fallen into
the ways of the world, confusing those who want to become converts, but see
only the world which they want to leave behind.
Without the pursuit of virtue and the awareness of sin, the
welcoming of those who actually have had an experience of God and see the
beauty of the history of the Church will not be a welcoming into the Church,
but into yet another secular group not centered on Christ and His Church.
, being more black
and white, more religious and more secular, allows people to choose without
Cardinal Manning writes that there is a world of truth and
reality and a world of shadows. The world of truth and reality is the world of
grace, while the world of shadows is the world of errors.
These errors include confusion from the Protestant Revolt
concerning our free will, which some believe has been destroyed. I have heard
this recently, that people cannot choose right over wrong.
Many people no longer believe in freedom, which does lead to
a certain type of conformity of behavior.
Manning also notes that heresy of imputation has influenced
many, but as he states, “We are not justified by the imputation, but by the
communication and infusion of justice, whereby we are made just.”
Do Catholics believe we have been made just and that God
actually dwells within us, if we have not committed mortal sin?
The Catholic teaching of justification must be understood to
Cardinal Manning’s book, which I have been reviewing, is
fantastic. He has written a chapter on each of the seven gifts of the Holy
Ghost. But, the introductory chapters cover the most sublime teaching regarding
those who are baptized. Cardinal Manning
refers to the glory of grace, the endowment of grace on those who are
predestined to share heaven with Him.
This idea of being chosen and given grace has been lost in
Church teaching lately. Manning reminds us that “God dwells in the soul and
because of the indwelling the soul also dwells in God. The soul is encompassed
and penetrated by the perfections of God—by His holiness, justice, mercy,
charity and by the light of truth, which is the radiance descending from Divine
Wisdom, and by sanctifying grace, which is infused by the Holy Ghost.”
How is it that we forget these truths-“The soul, then, is
enveloped and encompassed by God. Every soul that is in charity, and lives in
the love of God, is justified.”
By justification, as Manning explains, justice in infused
and dwells within us. The soul is transformed from a living death to a life of
grace. “It is the translation of the sons of Adam to the adoption of the sons
of God; or, once more, it is the restoration of the due order between God and
man, whereby the intelligence and will are subjected to God as our last and
supreme end for which we were created….”
Herein we find words of truth which simply are no longer
believed by the majority of Catholics in America
. They have lost this truth
of justification restored and the idea that our wills are free to choose
Manning reminds us also of the teaching of the Council of
Trent, which clarified that we were not, as humans, created in grace, but
constituted in grace. “…if man had been created in grace, it might have been
possible for some one to conceive that grace was an essential part of human nature…It
is something superadded to it…man was placed in a state or condition higher
than his own nature.”
Most Catholics do not seem to realize that they are called
to perfection, and here is Manning on perfection.
“Now man, in the state of original justice, had three
perfections. He had a natural perfection; that is, his humanity was perfect in
all that constitutes its nature, the soul and the body. The body was perfect in
all that constitutes its symmetry and its life; the soul was perfect in its
three powers of intelligence, and will and affection…..It is reasonable to
believe the he (Adam) had an anticipation of many of those supernatural truths
which are known to us by faith, that his will was in itself perfect as to the
power of originating his own actions, and that…it was elevated and assisted by
the grace of God. His passions and affections were in a state of subordination
and tranquility by the control of his reason and his will.”
“To this was added a second perfection, which is
supernatural, the gift of the Holy Ghost….Adam, in the beginning, had the gift
of the Holy Ghost dwelling in him, and because he had the gift of the Holy
Ghost dwelling in him, therefore he was just. The fruit of his justice was
sanctity, illumination, and union with God. He was also the son of God. This is
the supernatural perfection. But, thirdly, there is a prenatural perfection,
which arises form the union of the natural with the supernatural; that is to
say, the immortality of the body, and the immunity of the soul form the
rebellion of the passions. Now the body was free from all disease, and the soul
was free from all sorrow, because free from all sin. In original justice, no
sorrow, no affliction of any kind, had part in the soul of man.”
That Catholics no longer believe in Adam are being perfect,
having fallen for the lies of evolution, is one reason why I think they have
become stuck in a blindness of conformity and materialism.
We have been restored, through baptism to our justification
in so far as we are restored to a supernatural state of grace. But, in this
state of grace, in which we are really justified, we find, as Manning notes,
“absolution, sanctification, justification.”
“We have upon us the effects of the fall and the penalties
of sin. They are the occasions of sin, and the fuel of temptation. It is they
that are for ever raising against us a constant warfare.”
And, Manning continues, this warfare is the occasion for
greater grace and virtue.
Here is the trouble in America
. Few see this warfare. Few
admit that there is a difference between those who are baptized and trying to
walk in the ways of God and those who are not.
We have gotten to the point where Catholics vote for
atheists, for those who hate the Church, for those who do not believe in any need
We have accepted the lies of the American Dream which is
based on the false ideal of happiness through consumerism. We have forgotten
from whence we have come and who we are in Christ.
We are heirs of the Kingdom of God
not heirs of the kingdom of man.
Here is Manning again, “How is it possible, then, that you
should not be justified, or that you should be unconscious of the great dignity
of the state in which you are? How is it possible that we can be conscious of
our name and state in this worldly life, and of all things that are about us,
and yet that we should be unconscious of our state of grace before God…”
So many Catholics here are unconscious, or worse, have sold
their heritage to conformity.
And why are Americans more deceived in their loss of
Christian consciousness? Because the lines of conflict have been blurred by the
errors of Protestantism, many Catholics no longer see themselves as different.
As Cardinal Manning writes, “…let us take care to keep our
hearts in union with God.”
To be continued…