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Friday 11 July 2014

Go to Mary

Reading St. John Vianney’s sermons makes one realize that one is either a Servant of God or a Servant of Satan.

There is no middle ground. Either one thinks like God or one will think like the devils.

Why is it that we all kid ourselves into thinking there is a middle course, the course of just getting by, or tolerating evil and not doing enough for God?

Why is it that we excuse ourselves by saying that Catholicism is just “too hard’ and that people just are not good enough to be Catholics?

The problem is simply a lack of faith in the sufficient grace from God. So many Catholics never think about grace, or God’s Presence in this very moment, as you read these words.

In the last several months, I have written how I have found so many Americans are asleep, not facing the real world of decay and imminent tyranny. So many Catholics are worse than asleep. They are spiritually dead.

The wealth and ease of American life are two causes for this death-the stronger belief in the American utopia, rather than the Kingdom of God is endemic here.

St. John Vianney reminds us that those who are steeped in sin no longer love the Blessed Mother. He reminds us that those who have recourse to Mary will not be damned.

Several saints write that the love of the rosary is a sign of predilection.

If one has strayed from being a Servant of God and finds themselves a Servant of Satan, go to Mary. She will lead you to God.

St. John Vianney writes, “Now then, my dear brethren, why should not we imitate thes great Saints who obtained so many graced from Mary to preserve them from sin? Have we not the same enemies to fight, the same Heaven to hope for? Yes, Mary always has her eyes upon us. Do we suffer temptations? Let us turn our hearts towards Mary and we shall be delivered.”

If it is too hard to be a Catholic, turn to Mary.

Fear of The Lord Is A Good

Substitute computer games for his call to break away from dancing; substitute television watching, or eating to much, or wasting money shopping all the time.

From St. John Vianney:

“Oh my friends, unless you want to stop up your ears, you will hear the voice of God, which follows you unceasingly. Tell me, my friends, then, what is this remorse of conscience which overwhelms you in the midst of sin? Why do these anxieties and storms agitate you?  Why this fear, this dread  that you are in , when you seem to be forever expecting to be crushed by the thunders of Heaven? How many times, even when you  were sinning, have you not experienced the touch of an invisible hand which seemed to push you away, as if someone were saying, ‘Unhappy men, what are you doing? Unhappy man, where are you going? Ah my son, why do you wish to damn yourself…?”

I am surrounded in this small city by people who are unhappy or unpeaceful. They complain almost constantly. They gossip about the flaws of others. They become steeped in bad news by watching horrific news shows glorifying death and destruction.

These are Christians who simply are not listening to the voice of God.


They have lost their faith. They do not believe St. John Vianney when he writes that, “All creation demands vengeance it is, in fact, God alone Who wishes to save this soul and Who is opposed to all that could be prejudicial to it. He watched over its salvation as if it were the only soul in the world.”

Americans seem healthy and wealthy, but are walking around with dead souls. These dead souls have completely forgotten that God is in daily life around them, desiring to show them His love and mercy.

If they keep ignoring His constant calls for love, these souls will only meet justice, and the justice will be an answer to their own choices.

John Vianney could not be clearer: “Either you will be religious or you will be damned. What is a religious person? This is nothing other than a person who fulfills his duties as a Christian. You say that I achieve nothing to you about dances and that you will indulge neither more nor less in them. You are wrong again. In ignoring and despising the instructions of your pastor, you draw down upon yourself fresh chastisements from God, and I, on my side, will achieve quite a lot for fulfilling my duties.  At the hour of my death, God will ask me not if you have fulfilled your duties but if I have taught you what you must do to fulfill them. You say too, that I shall never break down your resistance to the point of making you believe that there is harm in amusing yourself for a little while in dancing (computer games, movies, TV, eating out all the time, buying more and more stuff, listening or watching sport daily), You do not wish to believe that there is any harm in it? Well, that is your affair, As far as I am concerned, it is sufficient for me to tell you in such a way as will insure that you do understand, even if you want to do it all the same. By doing this I am doing all that I should do. That should not irritate you; your pastor is doing your duty. But, you will say, the Commandments of God do not forbid dancing, (or computer games, or television, or eating out all the time, or going to the Mall weekly, listening or watching sports daily), nor does Holy Scripture either. Perhaps you have not examined them very closely….It is impossible to please God and the world….These children (who go to the dances, or play computer games or watch movies and television daily, or eat out daily or shop weekly) are no longer Heaven-bent, but are fattening for Hell.”

“Go on, shameless fathers and mothers, go on into Hell, where the fury of God awaits you, you and all the good actions you have done in letting your children run such risks. Go on, they will not be long in joining you, for you have outlined the road plainly for them. Go and count the number of years that your boys and girls have lost, go before your Judge to give an account of your lives….”

I pray for God’s forgiveness in my own life for lost years and for not being even more strict than I seemed, by the world’s standards, with my own son. I pray that God shows parents daily how they teach their own children how to waste time and not pray or reflect or read the Scriptures.

We are too wealthy, too complacent, too easy with our selves and with our children. We say to ourselves, “Oh I want him or her to be just like other kids, normal, socialized, part of the culture.”

The new vanities and pleasures of the world have been rationalized into being “down time”, “cooling off time”, rest from pressures.

Instead, we have allowed satan to weave a web of lies that entertainment is a right.

God forgive us Catholic moms and dads in this century.  St. John Vianney saw what dancing did to his own community and rightly spoke against it.

I have never heard one priest from the pulpit talk about the evils of television, computer games, eating out all the time, listening to sports daily, shopping for unnecessary things.

Never have I been in a church where a priest has said that we Americans waste time and that we shall be responsible for teaching our children to waste time.

One of my best friends said to me today that there was a reason why the holy fathers and women fled to the desert in the ancient world.

We need to create new deserts, in our homes, in our hearts. St. John Vianney today would be addressing us with the subjects I added to his sermons.

Would we really listen?

Habits and Addictions

Habits and Addictions are chosen, as some point, because of a lack of order in one’s life. One chooses bad habits which become addictions, serious mortal sin. Then, the trap is so hard to break out of, one may be tempted to despair, the ultimate last sin of many.

Rules can shape our day, and for those who work, there exists many rules which mean  we have responsibilities to duty, to others. But, what is so easily forgotten, is that our first time must and does belong to God.

But, we choose to deny Him the time we owe to Him as creatures.

On this day of the feast of St. Benedict, I have been thinking of the beauty of the Rule and the scheduled hours of the typical monastic day. Those who have been reading my blog for a long time, know how many posts I have on order, scheduling and the necessity for good habits.

A habit of prayer or reading Scripture learned as a child or in college, or in one’s twenties, will be part of a person’s life until they die.

The absolute necessity of habits cannot be emphasized enough, and the building of habits goes hand in hand with life of the virtues.

Again, children can easily be taught to have good habits of prayer, fasting, mortification, even meditation.

I have been reading the sermons of St. John Vianney this week and one of the main themes in these has to do with the saint pointing out how much time people waste in doing things which not only have nothing to do with their salvation, but are contrary to those habits which bring about the cooperation with grace.

I repeat two points I have made on this blog. Number one, without a schedule, one cannot become holy. And, two good habits can be formed in a relatively short period of time.

To look at the first consideration, again, one sees so many people not only wasting time, but building into their daily lives the false idea that somehow they cannot help not praying or reading Scripture.

I know many people who watch hours of television, talk or even gossip, go shopping for hours, (for unnecessary things), spend hours on the phone complaining to friends and family about their lives and yet tell me they have no time to read a half-hour of Scripture or pray.

These very bad and even evil pursuits will push the Catholic off the path to holiness, and yet, the complaint of such people is that they have no free will to choose to pray.

This is a scary mindset. We are not guaranteed heaven by weekly Mass or Confession once a year. To think that interruptions must be tolerated, especially trivial ones, is simply a great lie.

Secondly, such bad habits lead to addictions. Now, many people inherit addictive behavior from and in families. Some people have become drug addicts and alcoholics because of environment as well as concupiscence and weakness.

But, the heresies which deny free-will deny that God has given us enough grace to combat all addictions.

An addiction may have started as a bad habit, like coming home from work and turning on the television, watching for hours and hours. After a time, the addiction, which frequently turns into mortal sin, the mortal sin of either gluttony, or greed or sloth, can also change into demonic activity.

A bad habit repeated and repeated is an open door for the minions of satan to take over one’s spiritual life.

Bad habits can become addictions.

As to wasting time, I wonder at people who have never had a schedule yet tell me they do not have time to say a daily rosary.

When I was teaching college and university classes, within the first week, I presented ways for my students to manage their time. I did time management charts with them to show them how much time they wasted, which could be used for homework and reflection.

One cannot learn anything without time to reflect on the subject at hand.

Reflection leads to insight.

I pray that those who have any addictions, be it to movies or computer games, may be enlightened to see the real sin of these repeated and time-taking activities. The sinful or spiritually dangerous content is a subject of another post.

But, as St. John Vianney preached, those who are mediocre in the faith, the lukewarm Catholics, will not have the strength, nor the merits necessary for salvation, as they repeatedly ignored the call to repentance and holiness.

St. John Vianney speaks clearly that those who are mediocre and lukewarm pave their own way to hell.

These Catholics want to go to heaven but are unwilling to break with the world around them, unwilling to make the hard choices necessary to develop good habits of prayer.

St. John Vianney preaches the importance of not shopping around for an easy confessor, but seeking out the one who will help one break away from being a “worldling”. He reminds his people in his sermons that they have forgotten God and only seek either pleasure from the world, or approval from other worldlings.

He encourages all to bid farewell to the world daily by choosing the path of God, the path of holiness.

From where I sit today, all I can see are Catholics who really have not decided to be Catholics. One is complaining about the Church’s teaching on contraception, that it is too harsh. One is complaining about “all” the pedophile priests. One is living a life that teaches his children that the minimum is enough to get into heaven.

The minimum is not enough to get into heaven. Remember, either we are moving towards God or away from God. There is no middle ground-none.

St. John Vianney plainly states that one cannot choose both the world and God. He decries the hearts which are so fixed on pleasures, which the Catholic life has been set aside for conformity to the world.

Too often, when I am writing, I think of the many people I know personally who have never read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or who do not read anything the Popes write. All my family members have not read my blog nor will they. They do not read Catholic blogs or Catholic websites.

They then tell me that because they are in ignorance that God will have mercy on them.

Their faith did not die a death made by some sudden blow, but by the drip, drip, drip of the daily forgetfulness of religious duty and the lack of love for their own souls.

I pray that God will enlighten them, just as St. John Vianney prayed, and return to being really Catholic.

Good habits learned early bring one back to God. Bad habits continually sidetrack one away from God and eternal life.

Not scheduling means that one is open to the winds of distraction, the siren songs of the world, the sheer waste of time.

God forgive us and help us so that at our particular judgment we do not suffer from the grief of seeing a wasted life, a life spent adrift in a boat which could have been under our command. We are in control of our daily schedules. We have free will to avoid the creation of bad habits, of addictions, which may someday take over our lives to the point where we no longer have free will-but we decided, at some juncture, to go on that path of destruction-the destruction of our own spiritual lives, ending in the eternal gnashing of teeth and pain of total separation from God.

According to some statistics, up to 60% of Americans have addictive personalities. Part of this problem has been created by wealth, by fast-food, by a society which denies itself nothing.

Part of the problem is that Catholics are not taught to be moderate, or to give even when it hurts, not merely give over and above one’s income.

Addiction is most likely a state of mortal sin, chosen on a long pathway, and not something which “just happened.” Too many elderly people as well as teens have no idea that they are wasting away their lives in trivia. They have exchange the present moment when they could be meeting God to meet trivia instead.

Pray, pray for self-knowledge, the only thing which helps us be truthful to ourselves, our priests in the confessional. Pray to see the bad habits and addictions which keep us from becoming holy.