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Wednesday 9 July 2014

Love My Readers

Dear Readers, I am so touched my the messages you send me. I cannot express the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life because of you.

All I can do is thank you so much and pray that God may give you the real desires of His heart that He places there.

Deo gratias. And some great music for you all.

A short but serious meditation from Providence

St Prosper wrote from the Council of Quiersey, (853 A.D.), “If some are saved, it is the gift of Him who saves; if some perish, it is the fault of them that perish.”

We need meat not milk

(A side note on the works of Garrigou-Lagrange.

The power of this priest’s insights partly comes from his mastery of the works of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as other Doctors of the Church.

How much has been lost in modern times because priests no longer read or study the great minds of our faith. How many priests do not even know Latin, and cannot read the texts in the original.

We need priests who can bring the jewels of the writings of these great saints back into the pulpit, back into retreats.

Pray that seminaries in the United States and in Europe renew the love of Augustine, Aquinas, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross,  as well as the Scriptures.

We need meat, not milk, from our priests.)

I sincerely hope readers have enjoyed this partial unpacking of Garrigou-Lagrange’s Providence. There is so much more, but I need to move on to other topics.  One of my good priest friends just gave me a fantastic gift, the biography by Robert Gray of Cardinal Manning. I feel like a kid on Christmas Day, as I also have Garrigou-Lagrange’s Predestination, a book I read years and years ago but did not finish because of the annus horribilis of 2009.

One of the things I learned from Garrigou-Lagrange was a reference in Tobias 13:2 to the Harrowing of Hell.  Interesting. And, I want to, again, quote this beautiful section on us uniting our selves with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

“United then with the sacrifice of Christ perpetuated in substance upon the altar, our death will itself be a sacrifice of adoration both of God’s supreme dominion, who is master of life and death, of the majesty of Him ‘leadeth down to hell and bringeth up again’ (Tob. 13:2) It will be a sacrifice of supplication to obtain the final grace both for ourselves and for those who are to die in the same hour. It will also be a sacrifice of reparation for the sins of our life, and a sacrifice of thanksgiving for all the favors we have received since our baptism.”

If anyone can find any books by Adolphe Rette or Pere Gardeil or Bede Rose, O.S.B, please let me know.

I am going to segue into a complaint at this point. Garrigou-Lagrange wrote this beautiful passage, quoting the old prayer at death.

“Go forth from this world, O Christian soul, in the name of God the Father Almighty, who created thee; in the name of Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who suffered for thee; in the name of the Holy Ghost, who was poured out upon thee; in the name of the holy and glorious Virgin Mary, Mother of God; in the name of Blessed Joseph, predestined spouse of the Virgin; in the name of the angels and archangels…; in the name of the patriarchs and prophets; in the name of the Apostles and the Evangelists; in the name of the holy martyrs and confessors; and of all the saints of God. May thy place be this day in peace and thy abode in holy Sion, through Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Here is my complaint. Realizing that there are only 69 active priests in this diocese of 100,000 Catholics, I still think it is absolutely disgraceful that those elderly Catholics who are dying in hospitals, in hospices and at home cannot get a priest to come and anoint them, giving them the sacrament at the end of the dutiful lives.

Many of these old people, and I know many, tithed all their lives, gave to all the bishops’ appeals, even some went to daily Mass. Some wanted to convert or revert at the end and could not get a priest to bring them into the Church or here their confessions.

Why? Because I know at least two priests who refuse to make hospital visits and who refuse to hear confessions. There may be more. And, I also know that at one conference for priestly formation for sems in this diocese, the main speaker said it was more important to go to a high school football game and evangelize the young rather than go to the rest homes and bring Communions.

Why the “either-or”? Why ignore those who all their lives lived in accordance with the laws and love of Holy Mother Church and are now abandoned at the end.

I know two families, which phoned for three days for a priest, any priest, to come and hear the last confession of their grandfather and another of their uncle.

I know of a two people who were very faithful to the Church and even gave large amounts to their local parishes, whose families could not get a priest to come and bless the graves at burial, and the lay people had to say prayers themselves.

Why? Why? I know some priests in this diocese who will do nothing in the evening, after five, as if life and death stopped at office hours.

I beg God for a priest at my bedside in my last hours. May God grant me this gift.  I pray this priest is my own son.

More from Mother Elizabeth of the Cross

I am continuing with the quotation from the retreats of Mother Elizabeth of the Cross.

Christ was speaking to her, remember, of accepting suffering.

“My cross is to be found in pride, in sin; give Me a little help in carrying that cross. The fruit of My carrying the cross for you is that you desire nothing her below, that you be prepared to suffer always, that you desire all that the divine will desires, that you make expiation for the sins of men, of My priests and spouses especially, that you complain of nothing, that you keep your soul fast to My own, that your heart be occupied solely with love for Me.”

And another snippet from this wonderful note: “The more your sufferings closely resemble Mine, the happier will you be…it is the proof that you are loved more than others. Be kind of heart toward those who will bring or have already brought the cross to you.”

Therefore, to join one’s self with the sacrifice of the Mass, and as Garrigou-Lagrange notes, daily, even hourly, as Mass is said throughout the world, throughout the day.

If one joins with Christ Crucified in the Mass, one’s own death will be a “sacrifice of adoration”, a “sacrifice of supplication”, a sacrifice of reparation” and a “sacrifice of thanksgiving”.

Much to meditate on here….

To be continued….

Perfection Series II and Perseverance

I pray and many times it is hard to keep praying. I get tired. Prayer becomes wearisome. I worry that if I say the same things daily, my mind and heart will not be in the prayer, but far away, as I cannot always focus.

Focusing takes practice, but also good health. There are so many people who think that the very sick or those in pain can pray. It is very hard to pray when one is ill and tired.

To teach the young to pray well, when they are healthy and full of energy is an excellent thing. Prayer must be habitual. Yes, sometimes habit becomes boring, but if one is faithful, God will reward persistence.

The message of the chapter on a happy death is one of persistence in prayers and good works. We must never give up the fight.

Remember St. Francis’ comment, “My God never says, ‘Enough’”.

 One of the things I learned from Garrigou-Lagrange, which indeed I have never known before I read Providence, is that one can have Masses said for one’s self to have a happy, holy death. Now, I knew that one could have Masses said for the living and the dead, and for one’s intentions, especially health issues which are serious. But, I did not know that Pope Benedict XV wrote in a letter to the director of the Archconfraternity of Our Lady for a Happy Death that the faithful should have Masses said for a happy death.

“This is indeed the greatest of all graces, the grace of the elect; and if at the last moment we unite ourselves by an intense act of love with Christ’s sacrifice perpetuated on the altar, we may even obtain remission of the temporal punishment due to out sins and thus be saved from purgatory.”

Garrigou-Lagrange writes that we should pray in the Name of Jesus Christ specifically for a happy death; that we should united ourselves with the Eucharistic consecration, “the essence of the sacrifice of the mass, pondering on the four ends of sacrifice: adoration, supplication, reparation, and thanksgiving. Let us bear in mind that in this continuous oblation of Himself, our Lord is offering, as well the whole of His mystical body, especially those who suffer spiritually and thereby share a little in His own suffering. This is a path that will carry us far if only we follow it perseveringly.”

Perseverance cannot be emphasized too much. Persevere in prayer, in attending Mass, in Adoration.

Again, there is great wisdom in one of the footnotes. In a book on the foundress of the Carmelit convent of Fontainebleau, Mere Elizabeth de la Croix, Garrigou-Lagrange found this about her visions of Christ. Christ said to this nun that “The two chief motives that led Me to acquiesce in Pilate’s condemnation of Me were the will and glory of My Father and a hunger for the salvation of men. Your whole life, in its smallest details, should be dominated by these two sentiments. Take upon yourself My own sufferings…”

Are we generous enough to do so?

To be continued…

More on Providence and A Happy Death

Our continued obedience to God is not a guarantee of either merit or the grace of final perseverance. Condign merit, that is, merit “founded in justice”, does not mean we shall have the grace of final perseverance. Congruous merit, that is, merit which “founded in rights of friendship uniting us to God” also does not guarantee the grace of a happy death.

Any merit gained can be lost through mortal sin-one mortal sin. The only thing which preserves us from mortal sin is God’s mercy. Herein lays the key to humility.  We can always “blow it” at the end. If we are restored to grace or we are kept it grace to the second we die, it is because of God’s mercy. But, we can pray for final perseverance. Here is what Trent states in the words of Garrigou-Lagrange:

“…the just man can merit eternal lie, si in gratia decesserit, if he dies in the state of grace.”


“…anyone in the state of grace may merit eternal life only on condition that the merits he has gained have not been lost or have been mercifully restored through the grace of conversion.”

We work out our salvation, our happy death, through humility, realizing that it is the work of God and not our own work which guarantees the grace of final perseverance.

But, we can and must pray and prayer can gain us a happy death, as this prayer is aimed at obtaining God’s mercy.

“What we obtain through prayer is not always  merited: the sinner, for example, who now is in the state of spiritual death, is able with the grace of actual grace to pray for and obtain sanctifying or habitual grace, which could not be merited, since it is the principle of merit. It is the same with the grace of final perseverance; if we cannot merit it in the strict sense, but we can obtain it through prayer for ourselves, and indeed for others also…”

This is essential-we can prepare ourselves to receive the grace of a happy death by leading a better life and through prayer.

Now, here is another interesting facet of this discussion. There are four conditions required of prayer which make prayer “infallibly efficacious”?

These four things are; piety, humility, confidence and perseverance.

God helps us persevere in prayer. For example, there are several atheists and agnostics, as well as confused people in need of healing for whom I have prayed for years. I shall continue to pray for these people and not give up. God is helping me persevere in these prayers. I am not doing this on my own volition, my own will.

It is a great temptation to give up on prayers not seen to be answered. But our perseverance is itself a mercy from God.

So, I end this section with this prayer.

God, give the graces of salvation to these, and let EF,CM, CM, EM, PC, TM, JM, CM, PD, and all the Ds be led into the Catholic Church, established in truth, and be saved. Heal M and R and let them embrace the vocations you called them to in this life, letting them die in those vocations. Make Z, G, and E holy, saintly priests. Let them all die a holy death in You, O Lord.


Perfection Series II on Providence

Garrigou-Lagrange has a chapter on the grace of a happy death. He refers to St. Augustine’s book, Gift of Perseverance, which I have not read. It is now on my list.
This chapter speaks to one of the most common heresies of our day, heresies which are common in both England and America.

The Semi-Pelagians, Protestants and Jansenists all have different views of death, as well as life. Garrigou-Lagrange does us a great favor by defining these heresies, which are so popular.

Here we go and pay attention to this post, as you most likely will encounter or have encountered people who believe in these false positions.

“The Semi-Pelagians maintained that man can have the initium fidei et salutis, the beginning of faith and a good desire apart from grace, this beginning being subsequently confirmed by God. According to their view, not God but the sinner himself takes the first step in the sinner’s conversion. On the same principles the Semi-Pelagians maintained that, once justified by grace, man can persevere until death without a further special grace. For the just to persevere unto the end, it is enough, they said, that the initium salutis, this natural good will, should persist.”

(Should I comment here that this is the case for so many Protestants, who do not believe in sanctifying grace or the sacraments, but think the initial grace of conversion is enough? See my posts on the types of grace and on converting Protestants.)

“It amounted to this, that God not only wills all men to be saved, but wills it to the same extent in every case; and further, that precisely the element which distinguishes the just from the wicked –the initium salutis and those final good dispositions which are to be found in one and not in another, in Peter and not in Judas—is not to be referred to God as its author; He is simply an onlooker.”

“It meant the rejection of the mystery of predestination and the ignoring of those words of our Lord: ‘No man can come to Me, except the Father, who sent me, draw him’ (John 6:44), words that apply both to the initial and to the final impulse of our hearts to God.”

All our thoughts for goodness and all our desires for God are from God and not ourselves.

Continuing, Garrigou-Lagrange notes that St. Augustine makes it clear that “prevenient grace cannot be merited or in any way be due to a purely natural good impulse, since the principle of merit is sanctifying grace, and this, as its very name implies, is a gratuitous gift….”

So, too, the grace of final perseverance is a gift, a special gift, as Garrigou-Lagrange notes referring to St. Augustine. This is a gift of mercy, given to the elect.

Now, here is the area which some people find difficult. And, in the future, I shall unpack Garrigou-Lagrange’s book, Predestination, which this section anticipates.

The Council of Trent makes it clear that God makes it possible for all people to be saved and observe His precepts, and in fact, helps the elect persevere to the end.

God does will a great good for one over another. There are “levels of holiness” according to our own make-up, our unique souls and unique bodies. But, God never asks the impossible and gives to all what is needed for salvation.

The Second Council of Orange used St. Augustine’s arguments against the Semi-Pelagians. “Thus it remains true,” notes Garrigou-Lagrange, “that the grace of a happy death is a special grace peculiar to the elect.”

Now, some Protestants err on the opposite end of this false thinking.  This is the belief that God, indeed, asks for the impossible. The heresy of Jansenism falls into this error, of thinking that certain of God’s commandments are impossible, even for the elect, as they are denied graces to do certain things.

To think that God would ask or even command the impossible is a common thought among some Catholics today, who tolerate serious sin in their own or others’ lives, thinking that is all these people can do, or achieve. They are denying God’s justice and His mercy--His Providence.

I have heard people say, “Catholicism is too hard” as if God is not standing there giving grace to live up to the life of discipleship. If God does not give us sufficient grace to be saved, then human liberty or freedom is impaired as well.

What flows from this error are these fallacies: 1) sin cannot be avoided; 2) sin no longer exists as humans cannot choose; 3) there is no hell.

We have heard these arguments lately, have we not, from certain famous theologians? In their denial of hell, they deny both human liberty and God’s sufficient graces. The fallacy which follows is that of sola fide, maintaining that good works are totally impossible and unnecessary for salvation. I know many people who actually believe this.

There is no hope. There is only presumption, points out Garrigou-Lagrange. “Jansenism and Protestantism, in fact, oscillate between presumption and despair, without ever being able to find true Christian hope and charity.”

So, one of the Baptists I know sins and never goes to Confession, of course, not believing in the sacraments, and thinks he is saved because of his one moment of conversion. That he drinks too much, or sleeps around, or never goes to church on Sunday does not matter.

He is saved.

Trent states the hard truth, “Whereas we should all have a steadfast hope in God, nevertheless (without a special revelation) no one can have absolute certainty that he will persevere to the end.”

Now, the following points may have never been taught to my readers before this.

 “…the principle of merit is the state of grace and perseverance in that state; but the principle of merit cannot itself be merited.” God continues grace in us, we do not. But, we cannot take this for granted.

It is a special gift to die in the state of grace.  As Garrigou-Lagrange notes, the “just must  humbly admit that they have really no right to the grace of final perseverance”.

Obviously, humility is key…the principle of merit cannot be merited. This means that the state of grace to get merit cannot be merited. Such is grace, freely given by God to us and none of our so-called meritorious acts mean anything if we are in mortal sin.

This is the sadness of those who have chosen heresy, even false religions. This is why it is our duty to be involved in evangelization.

At death, we need to be in the state of grace, we need to have lived in charity, and we need to have had our will correspond to the Will of God.

This is why we must pray for a happy death. We cannot take it for granted.

To be continued…