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Sunday 15 June 2014

Perfection Series II: The Wisdom of Manning

As this is the Feast of the Holy Trinity, it is appropriate to concentrate on the way of perfection. Remember that from baptism, we all have the Indwelling of the Trinity within us, with us daily, unless we lose this presence through mortal sin.

I have morphed the Manning mini-series into the Perfection II series, as I did with the meditations on St. Angela. Is it not interesting that all the great saints and great minds of the Church come to the same conclusion regarding the way to perfection?

The last two main ideas to cover in this section on the gift of counsel involve the “law of liberty” and the taming of the will.

Firstly, the law of liberty is misunderstood, or not even considered by many Catholics. Here is Manning: “…if we desire to be sanctified, if we desire to be conformed to the likeness of our Divine Lord and His Immaculate Mother,--then the gift of counsel and the prompting of generous love will make us press onward and rise higher in the spiritual life.”

Manning reminds us that the words of the Sermon on the Mount, the way of perfection, were not spoken to monks, religious in cloisters or recluses, but to men on the mountain-to all of us.

“The Sermon on the Mount is the law of perfection given to the Christian people of the world; it is given to you  Our Divine Master calls us to use our liberty as Christians, to rise above the low level of that which is absolutely necessary by the law of commandments, and to ascend up by the law of liberty towards Him, upon the mountain  where He, our Light and our Life, dwells eternally.”

Cardinal Manning rightly emphasizes that the Sermon on the Mount created Christendom, and Christendom has fallen into ruin because of the loss of vision, the sins, which contradict the way of perfection.

I must quote Manning on this point: “Tell me where is to be found the Sermon on the Mount; where is to be found voluntary poverty, where is to be found obedience even unto death, where the spirit of the martyrs, where the self-denial of the confessors, where the meekness of the forgiving, and the mercy of those who dies for their brethren?  These things are to be found wheresoever the law of liberty and the gift of cunsel are the light and the guidance of men. “

To be continued tomorrow….

Be of Good Cheer

This is worth repeating...

from Cardinal Manning...

“…if you are the true followers of Jesus Christ, it (the world) will misunderstand and reject you. ‘Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him,’—conformed to Him Who is the firstborn among the sons of God, because He is the Son of God, begotten of the substance of the Father before all worlds, and man of the substance of His Mother born in the world. Such is our predestination; ‘and every man that hath this hope in him sanctified himself, even as he also is holy.” 1 John iii, 1-3

Be of good cheer. God has conquered the world, even if we must endure persecution and tribulation. He has had us in mind from all time….

Such is my consolation and such will be ours in the coming times

Encouragement from Cardinal Manning in The Dark Night

I write this for S and J, especially..

The great man writes this: “…do not be afraid when the consciousness of your past sins and of your many temptations seems to come down upon you and to overwhelm you as a flood. In those darkest times, be sure that if you love God you are still united with Him. It is not when we walk in the brightness of the noonday only that we are untied with Him. The purest union with God is when we walk with Him in the darkness, without consolation and without joy; having no other guide; our hand in His hand; going on like children, not knowing whither, but obeying the inspirations of God to do or not to do as He wills: out in the bleak cold sky, with no joy in our prayers and no rest of heart, in constant inward fears, with temptations all around, but always faithful to the guide”

I share these words to those in the Dark Night, those who are seeking the Bridegroom Who has removed Himself from our presence.

Remember these words of the good Cardinal: “It is not when we walk in the brightness of the noonday only that we are united with Him. The purest union with God is when we walk with Him in the darkness, without consolation and without joy; having no other guide; our hand in His hand; going on like children, not knowing whither; but obeying the inspirations of God to do or not to do as He wills; out in the bleak cold sky, with no joy in our prayers and no rest of heart, in constant inward fears, with temptations all around, but always faithful to the guidance of the Spirit of God.”

I repeat these words from Manning to encourage you. “There are two axioms in the Kingdom of God which shall never fail: no penitent soul can perish, and no soul that loves God can be lost.”

I can assure you all that a great peace and confidence come upon one when one trusts in Divine Providence.

A few more words from the Cardinal: “…know yourselves: be conscious of your own dignity and be conscious of the dignity of others. Your are the sons of the Great King…From all eternity God foreknew you, and in due time God called you by the Holy Ghost; and when He called you He justified you, and when He justified you He put upon you the glory of His children and the heirship of His Kingdom.”

To be continued…

Easier To Be Holy in Europe and The Call to Perfection

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 still prosperity.

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 citizens”.   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.

Europe, being more black and white, more religious and more secular, allows people to choose without confusion.
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 avoid confusion.
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 holiness.

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 for grace.

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…