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Monday 23 June 2014

Manning Day-The Ending of A Fantastic Journey

Manning continues on the theme of perfection.

In this state, there are two opinions are to whether people still sin venially. The key is “…there is no deliberate affection to anything contrary to the will of God. Temptations resisted are not sins; and the indeliberate adhesion of the mind to that which is deliberately resisted is not a transgression of the law. “

We are all called to this. Manning continues, “All that are saved must be made perfect before they can see the face of God. But all are not called to the same perfection, not to the same degree of perfection, nor by the same way….All are called, but not all to the same office, or grace or reward.”

But, all will be happy in heaven, according to each one’s call.

So, to repeat, what is perfection? “The essential perfection of the soul is the love of God and our neighbour. “

“There is no perfection of charity, humility, poverty of spirit we may not attain. All of you living in the world in trade and business, n the cares and works of home, you may all be united with God in a close and constant union…”

More later…much more tomorrow

HELLO! To Friends in Canada

I have a long way to go...more Manning on perfection

Perfection involves acting in the life of virtue, exhibiting all the fruits of the Holy Spirit and, eventually, having a character completely formed in the Mind of Christ, which is found in the Beatitudes.

Some people are born with strong characteristics of the Beatitudes. These people are especially graced to maintain their innocence and baptismal purity. Such as the saints like Gemma Galgani and Aloysius Gonzanga. When confirmed, these saints are almost “perfect Christians”. They will suffer the passive perfection and be united to Christ quickly, but not without intense suffering.

We see this pattern in the life of St. Therese, the Little Flower, the saint of love. These young saints have been perfected on a fast track to holiness and illumination, love and unity.

Other saints must strive to conquer their predominant faults. Manning makes the distinction between a “just man, and a holy man, and a perfect man.”

He writes that, “A just man fulfils the law, and gives to every man his due; a holy man is specially united with God; the perfect man is both.”

Can parents understand why it is so important to form their children from little on, helping them create habits of charity and all the virtues, using the baptismal purity to move on to purity of mind and heart as adults?

This is not impossible. Manning notes that, “because truth is the revelation of the mind of God, the intellect is conformed to the divine intelligence.”  

Read the process which is possible for all: “As this sanctifying grace grows in the heart, the intellect and will are conformed to the intelligence and will of God; and this growing conformity prepares both for the operation of the seven gifts. Then holy fear, and piety, and fortitude control, and soften, and strengthen the will; and knowledge and counsel form the practical reason or conscience; and understanding and wisdom enlarge the head and the heart, and unite both with God.”

Manning states, however, that this state is still not perfection.

“There may still be flaws and dents in the heart, mists in the intelligence, twists and crookedness in the will. There may be roots of many faults yet alive; habitual faults and deliberate venial sins.”

One may sin venially out of a knee-jerk reaction learning in childhood, habits which must be broken, but deliberate venial sins, with full knowledge, are more serious sins. Both types must be washed away in the Dark Night.

Manning continues, “The complete circle of charity and of it fertility is not yet expanded. There may be no self-denial, or generosity, or fervour. Such a man may still seek his own things, and not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. He keeps the commandments, but not the counsels. He dos many good things, but he does not spend himself, nor is he willing to be spent for the elect’s sake.”

As Manning notes, these people are good but not perfect. They do good works, but seem wooden and not spontaneous. They have to enter into the passive perfection of the soul, the purgation of self-will, the Dark Night, when all egoism is destroyed because good men judge one as evil, but nothing prospers from the work of one’s hands. ‘…everything goes wrong…all seem to prosper that is evil.”

Such is the way of the saint, those who want to be perfect. “Here is the realm which seems to be the home of those God has forgotten; where His face is never seen, nor a ray of His light ever shines. Let us now read over the Beatitudes: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit;’ Blessed are they that mourn;’ ‘blessed are they that hunger and thirst;’ Blessed are ye when men shall persecute you for justice’ sake.’

As Manning states most neatly—“This is the region not so much of active charity as of passive endurance.”

One suffers in the dark.  Faith, hope and charity need to be used, daily. Those who want to be perfect, must go through this time. “They are learning to suffer without and within; from the world, from enemies, from friends, from Satan, from themselves. They are learning to be patient to be patient as their Divine Master, gentle to all, even the most unworthy; generous to the ungrateful, thankful under the cross, and their will in perfect submission to the will of God.”

As God told me on the Feast of Corpus Christi, “You have a long way to go….”

To be continued…

Books by Cardinal Manning

By the way, Cardinal Manning, besides the two books I have highlighted on this blog, wrote many others.

If anyone would like to find and send me any of these, I would be thrilled to share the contents with you, my dear readers. Here is a partial list of titles:

Miscellanies (two vols.)
Glories of The Sacred Heart
England and Christendom (sounds fascinating and timely)
Dignity and Rights of Labour
Education and Parental Rights
The Centenary of St. Peter and The General Council
The Oecumenical Council and The Infallibility of The Roman Pontiff
The Vatican Council and Its Definitions
Petri Privilegium
The Blessed Sacrament The Centre of Immutable Truth
Sermons on Ecclesiastical Subjects
The Love of Jesus to Penitents
The Temporal Power of The Pope
The Temporal Power of The Pope in Its Political Aspect
Rome and The Revolution
Christ and Antichrist (very timely)
Rome The Capital of Christendom (great!)
The Four Great Evils of The Day (hmmmm-might be timely, indeed)
The Fourfold Sovereignty of God (we need to preach this)
Sin and Its Consequences
Dominus Illuminatio Mea
Confidence in God
Ground of Faith
The Vatican Decrees

More from the book on the Holy Ghost and us later…

On Rainbows

What is it in a rainbow which brings joy?

Why do we stop and watch the colors grow in brightness, then fade?

I have seen more rainbows in the past four months than I have in years. All have been glorious and one I saw to the very ground, as if it was burrowing into the hard soil of Iowa.

Tonight, just before dusk, I saw the second one in three weeks; both were full, with a faint double on either end.

These rainbows were in the East, as the sun set in the West. It was as if God was encouraging me to look East, as I always do in my heart.  This evening, my heart grew wings and flew between the bow and earth, to the East, with prayers and thanksgiving for God’s love and His Providence. The two greatest human loves I have in that heart with wings are in the East.

This ancient sign of promise continues to thrill those who have the eyes of children, the eyes of simple gifts, today, as in the days long ago, when God renewed His covenant with men.

May God continue to send us the sign of His favor and love. May we continue to rejoice in the sight of a rainbow.

How does one become perfect-revisited

How does one become perfect? Manning tells us what all the other writers of spirituality write.

Number one, one must follow the law, the Commandments. One cannot turn away from any of the Commandments and become perfect.

Two, one must be obedient to the precepts and to the authority of the Church. One must be orthodox. Manning writes what Garrigou-Lagrange notes: “The ultimate and certain test whereby to know whether we are in the way of perfection is perfect conformity to the mind of the Church.”  Manning continues, “I say to the mind, because it is not enough to believe all dogmas and to submit to all discipline. Many do this in whom the spirit of pride, singularity, criticism and self-choosing are dominant. The mind of the Church is known not only by Pontiffs and Councils, but by the mind of the saints, by the traditions of piety, and by customs of approved or permitted devotion.” Partaking of the sacraments is part of this route to perfection as well.

Three, purity of conscience, especially the use of the Sacrament of Penance, “whereby the habit of self-examination and of circumspection is maintained, and the grace of contrition and of self-knowledge is continually increased.”

Four, one needs cleanness of heart which comes from receiving the Holy Body and Blood of Christ, wherein the Sacred Heart of Jesus comes and rests in us.

Five, one can and must accept chastity, poverty and some obedience to authority of some sort. The Beatitudes “…imply that the life of counsels is open to every one, though they  do not necessarily impose it.”

How far one must be dedicated to that Bridal Love of Christ to follow these ways….

To be continued…

On Memory Again

Father Lehody reminds us in The Ways of Mental Prayer, that all Catholics are called to such prayer, beginning with meditation and moving into contemplation. He reiterates something I have learned the hard-way; that travelling or being in the presence of evil creates a huge need for reparative prayer.

One has to repair the damage dome by long journeys, distractions, dissipations, and times of trial, which all cause losses in reflection and concentrating on God.

Most lay people understand the great need for times of reparative silence. One of Lehody’s pithy sentences “says it all”. Lehody refers to St. Alphonsus Ligouri and St. Philip Neri on this point. Mental prayer is a “moral necessity.” We cannot be perfected in oral prayer, notes St. Philip Neri.

Purity of heart can only be reached through deep and constant reflection on God and not ourselves.

I daily say oral prayers, as I belong to a third order which demands this discipline. But, these prayers, and the daily rosary, are not the meditation or contemplation.  Lehody insists that we cannot confuse difficulties with impossibilities.

He quotes St. Ignatius Loyola is saying that mental prayer is the shortcut to perfection.

I have written on the problems of the matter of sin in the past several months. The matter of sin infects our memories, causing distractions in mental prayer. But, St. Bernard of Clairvaux gives us good advice by writing that we all need a “sentinel”, a “guard” over our memories, just like a porter at the gate.

St. Bernard suggests that this porter of the memory could be either the remembrance of one’s commitment to follow Christ, and/or the remembrance of hell.

I suggest that both are good guardians-the remembrance of our First Love, Christ and our covenant with Him; and the thought of damnation.

The memory, as I note in the long perfection series, must be purified.

 A good reason for not watching t.v. 

A Dog Story

Many of you may have heard this story. I had not, most likely as I was busy doing other things in the early 1980s.

Apparently, when St. John Paul II was visiting the USA in one of his early visits, he expressed a desire to go to the seminary in Baltimore. The secret service and those who had to secure every place the Pope was going to see tried to dissuade him as they had not scoured the seminary.

However, what John Paul II wanted to do, he did and convinced the security that a seminary visit would be safe. However, the security fellows went ahead with dogs to make sure there were no bombs or hidden nasties in the seminary.

They went through every room, every closet, the kitchens, the pantries. Finally, two men with dogs entered the chapel. Suddenly, the dogs came alive, fully alert, acting like they were trained to do when sensing a person. The two security men search every nook and cranny of the chapel, but found nothing. They then got the rector, and asked him to come down to the chapel. The rector complied and watched as the dogs stood in front of the tabernacle in the sanctuary and barked.

“Ah, I understand, “ he said. “They sense the Presence of the Person of Christ in the Eucharist.”

This was considered a small Eucharistic miracle. The priest who shared this story Sunday at Mass said that a recent survey indicated that 70% of Catholics who go to Sunday Mass no longer believe in the Real Presence, but, these two dogs experienced this Person….

Manning on the Holy Ghost

What can one quote from the extraordinary chapter on the Holy Spirit in Manning? Every other sentence seems like a surprise, or a gift to be unwrapped slowly.

Samples: “The Holy Ghost dwells in the mystical Body, and in every member of the same who is united to the Incarnate Son. We are related to Him, and He dwells in us, and it is through Him that we have union both with the Son and with the Father.”

“ …every time we make the sign of the Cross we make an act of faith and, at least, an implicit act of adoration to the Holy Ghost. All the works of God in creation, though they are the works of the Holy Trinity, are in a special sense the works of the Holy Ghost, because it is the Third Person of the ever-blessed Trinity Who is in immediate union with all creatures….He is the Term, or the Compliment, of the Holy Trinity, because the Son is begotten of the Father, and the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son; but there the Holy Trinity rests complete. No divine person proceeds from the Holy Ghost.”

“God the Father is uncreated being, God the Son is uncreated intelligence, and God the Holy Ghost  is uncreated love; and the uncreated being, intelligence, and love of God are God.”

“All creatures of God are…from the Holy Ghost; they are His works; He is therefore the Creator Spiritus, the Spirit Who made all things, the Spirit Who impresses law, and order, and perfection upon all the works of God. And as He has created all things, so He is Himself the Giver of all things. He is the Dator munerum, as we say in the sequence of the Holy Mass at Pentecost—‘the Giver of all gifts.”

Manning quotes the titles of the Holy Ghost from the litany of Pentecost—the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus.

 Gift of God Most High
 Living Fountain
 Sevenfold Gift
 Spiritual Unction

Manning reminds us that the Holy Spirit also is responsible for the New Creation, the Church, but more than that, the renewal of creation, beginning with the Immaculate Conception, the New Eve, the New Woman, the “firstfruits of the full and sanctifying grace of the Holy Ghost.”

The Cardinal writes, “She was the first and the last in the natural lineage of the children of Adam in whom sin had no place. The Mother of the Incarnate Son was sheltered and preserved from the inheritance of original sin, so that never for a moment was so much as a shadow cast by sin upon her spotless soul. In her was no privation of grace. From the first moment of her existence she was full of the Holy Ghost. The most perfect work of sanctification that the world has ever seen, purchased by the Precious Blood of the Son of God Himself, and given out of free and sovereign grace, is the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. Such was the aurora before the sun. Next came the day, the Incarnation of the Eternal Word. The efficient author of the Incarnation was the Holy Ghost: ‘The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee; and therefore, the Holy that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God; and therefore we say in our baptismal Creed, Conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto-‘He was conceived of the Holy Ghost.’”

One must stop as this paragraph takes one’s breath away with the beauty and economy of God’s plan for our salvation.

Glory be to God…

To be continued…

No Altar, No Throne

One of the most painful things about not living in one’s own space is having to work without one’s schedule. One cannot do what one wants to do or go where one wants to go. But, I think one learns humility by giving up the desires for peace and quiet, for solitude, for daily Mass, for Adoration. God is in charge of every detail of our lives.

I know of a man who set up, years ago, the longest 24/7 Adoration in the area. Recently, he became quite ill. He has had to give up going to the Adoration Chapel he himself set up for the benefit of the entire two-state area.

His purification is in this dying to self, this giving up of his daily visit to his Love, Christ in the Eucharist. How painful this must be for this good man?

His death of will is a great example to me. I have complained too much of not being able to attend daily Mass and twice or thrice weekly Adoration, since I left Europe at the end of the first week of November.

Now, through this holy man’s example, I see that what I have experienced in the last seven months has been God’s Will for me. What I have wanted to do the most, receive Christ daily in the Eucharist, and to adore Him in the monstrance, have been denied me.

Christ has, like the Bridegroom in The Song of Songs, removed Himself from me on a daily basis for the good of my soul, because I am so impure, so “dark” and not worthy to be His bride.

His removal has been painful. There is no consolation in not seeing my Beloved on the altar and in His small throne, the monstrance, except for this consolation-that this denial of His Presence is His Will for now.

This has obviously been His Will for me. I wish I had seen this earlier and not whined about His absence, the lack of a church in walking distance, the lack of Adoration, the lack of churches, period.

What He has taught me through the great sacrifice of the man who can no longer see Christ daily is that the Passion must be not only endured, but embraced. When one actually desires suffering, desires penance, desires the absence of one’s Love, something begins to change in the soul—the death of self-will.

How strange that The Song of Songs reveals exactly how Christ treats those of us who want to love Him more and more. Christ must retreat from our presence in order for us to desire Him above all persons, all plans, all conveniences, all things….

The heart must burn for completeness…..and these words are almost echoes something Christ said to St. Angela so long ago-that He was withholding Himself for the sake of her purification. Christ wanted her to desire Him more than she did.

So be it….