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Sunday 3 August 2014

On Angels and Humans

Some people have shared with me that they see their guardian angels. Some have experienced the presence of the guardian angels. Some have seen the results of those angels' "works", such as a miraculous intervention in a car accident or some other disaster.

Some people have been awakened in the middle of the night for no apparent reason to discover a small fire, without smoke or scent, which could have become larger and killed them.

Some people have told me that they have seen angelic beings in dreams, with advice on a problem.

And, so on.

St. Padre Pio spoke with his angels. He is a great saint.

But, to those who have not experienced the care of their angels, I share this advice from St. Bernard of Clarivaux. Are you praying? Are you chaste? In Sermon Seven, this saint interprets the "princes of Judah" in the Psalms as the angels who rejoice when a good man strives for perfection.

Bernard, like Christ, has harsh words for those who are lukewarm. The angels come to those who praise God, as that is their main role. Bernard notes, "Whoever offers praise, his sacrifice honors me."

As we draw closer to God, through meditation, through active and, hopefully, finally, passive contemplation, we may be more aware of the angels.

They shrink from those in mortal sin, grieving at the death of the soul. They rejoice in the operations of grace in the soul.

Bernard humble states that he is helped in his spiritual life by those good men around him striving for perfection, and by the holy angels. He is also helped by the Church Triumphant, those saints in heaven who intercede for all of us.

Do not spurn your guardian angel. Move away from lukewarmness and repent of wasting grace.

We are surrounded by good angels.

Happy Lourdes Pilgrims And Workers from A & B Diocese

and  some of the hospital staff....

Can you spot STS?


Someone today introduced me to this order. It promotes the spirituality of St. Ignatius. Readers might be interested in retreats from this international order.

Impressive group of sems....

Types of Martyrdom

In the Latin and Orthodox traditions, there have been different terms for different types of martyrdom.

We all know that red martyrdom is that of shedding one's blood for the Faith.

But, there is a confusion about what is called "white" and "green" martyrdom.

I use an Orthodox site for this comment.

....the green martyrdom of the monastic and ascetical life deals with such attachments at their core, in the spiritual heart. Affirming nature, while grieving its fall in the universal sense as well as in the personal, the ascetical Christian weeps for his or her sins, gathering the senses into the spiritual heart through prayer, so as to be freed from carnality. The world is holy; it is not God. For the Christian ascetic, the redemption of the world and society can never be achieved through a social movement, much less through individual activism. This is the foundation of western liberation theology: that God's Kingdom comes through outward struggle and activism. Yet the Christian ascetic - the true green martyr - knows that the Lord said, "The Kingdom of God is within you," (Luke 17:21), and thus fights on the battlefield of the spiritual heart, since it is only on this battlefield that victory can be won in the only war that counts: the unseen, spiritual warfare.

Some people call this white martyrdom. But, I think there is a bit of a difference. Some say that monastics, hermits and other people who leave society, such as the Desert Fathers, are white martyrs.

To me, the green martyr is a person in the world who suffers and lives a monastic type of life in the city or in the town. In other words, a lay person who does stay in society but suffers and lives in an ascetic manner may be experiencing green martyrdom. Asceticism is absolutely part of green martyrdom. One may choose this freely just as a martyr chooses instead of giving up on the Church or Christ. 

Now the question is this. Does one choose martyrdom? No, not really, which is why there is in my mind a difference in white and green martyrdom.

Obviously, one who is a red martyr does not go looking for martyrdom. It is oppressed upon them from the persecutors. The white martyr, who chooses to go into a monastery and takes vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and in the case of the Benedictines, stability, does choose, but in answer to a call from God.

The green martyr stays in the world, suffers either because God has given that suffering, or/and because the person chooses suffering and asceticism.

For example, a person I know has given up almost all his personal possessions, eats simply, has given up alcohol and prays several hours a day. He is an ascetic in the city. Few know his lifestyle. 

Now, God has called him to do this, but he has also had suffering thrust upon him in terms of physical illness and huge family problems. Still, he knows that he is to have a cell in the world. 

Green martyrdom may, therefore, be a combination of the non-choosing of the red and the choosing of the white. It is seen in icons, by the way, in the Orthodox tradition.  Rose of Lima, who is my confirmation saint, is pictured as a green martyr. She was a lay person living in an ascetic manner. But, St. Benedict in Eastern iconography, is also shown in green, for green martyrdom. Sometimes, icons are confusing, as the writer may show both green and red, but this could mean the death of a martyr who was also an ascetic. Such are some icons of St. Andrew.

St. Cyril, of the great patrons of Europe, along with St. Benedict, Cyril and Methodius, is usually shown in green, the symbol of asceticism. His brother, Methodius, the monk, is also frequently painted in green.

And, and important note. Only those who suffer and take on suffering for Christ's sake and for the sake of the Church are martyrs. Not everyone who suffers is a martyr.

A good source, believe it or not, for a list of the symbols of the saints is found here

Pray for these sisters, please

Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen-Perfection Series III: Part Eight

Christ reminds us of the hard way, the narrow way to heaven. The choosing to cooperate with grace is totally in our decisions. God is not to be blamed for any lost soul. Free will is a great gift. Who wants someone to love us under pressure, or duress? No, we want to be loved freely or not at all.

This is the message of God to His People. St. Bernard reminds us that we proceed to holiness, to perfection by stages, by steps. Only very few saints, mostly young saints, seem to have reached heights early in life and at a great pace.

For the rest of us, the steps are many.  Someone discussed briefly with me the idea of confidence yesterday. I had not, at that point, realized the importance of St. Bernard's comment on confidence. When we have accepted the second grace of purification, we experience slowly the growth of the virtues. We begin to encounter God. This encounter gives us more confidence. Here is Bernard in his own words: " Growth in grace brings expansion of confidence. You will love with greater ardor, and knock on the door with greater assurance in order to gain what you perceive to be still wanting in you. 'The one who knocks will always have the door opened to him.' It is my belief that to a person do disposed, God will not refuse that most intimate kiss of all, a mystery of supreme generosity and ineffable sweetness." Sermon Three on the Song of Songs.

I am more and more aware of the vast majority of people who spend their days without prayers, without ever considering God. It is a fearful thing to refuse the call of God, who calls us, woos us, over and over and over.

The editor of the book I am using noted in one footnote that it seems that St. Bernard had access to not just the Vulgate, but to the Greek Septuagint. How interesting.

Are We Old Testament or New Testament People? Perfection Series III Part Seven

Reading St. Bernard's Sermon 2 on the Song of Songs, one is caught by the movement of the Spirit which enabled Bernard to feel grief at the lukewarmness of most Catholics. He exhorts his listeners to think of the "kiss" from the canticle, the kiss which is the Word of God, and which was hoped for in the long centuries before Christ.

We, the New Testament People have the Incarnate One daily. We have the fullness of Truth, the answer to all the prophecies, the One Who Saves. We too quickly lose heart, lose Faith, lose Hope and then Love, because we forget Who Christ really is. We complain, we fuss, we fall into anxiety. Why?

The Dark Night is the time of Faith, when we cannot see where God is leading us and when He removes His immediate Presence because we are in sin. He waits, and gives us Hope when we turn to Him in that Faith.

Love is inspired by the grace of the Illuminative State. But, St. Bernard scolds us for not turning to Christ, for whom all those righteous people waited and held Faith for so long.

Another point the saint makes in this sermon is the fact that the angels came to the shepherds because they were "men of good will". The Good News comes to those who really want peace.

He quotes the Scriptures: this is from Luke 2.

And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock.
And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear.
10 And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:
11 For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying:
14 Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.
15 And it came to pass, after the angels departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath shewed to us.
16 And they came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.
17 And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child.
18 And all that heard, wondered; and at those things that were told them by the shepherds.

Notice that the angels do not say peace to all men. Bernard notes that they speak to those who were not evil, like Herod, who did not have "good will" towards men.

This is one of the mysteries both of Divine Providence and predestination, as I referred to in early posts last month. God knows to whom He can share His Good News, Himself.

He comes to the humble, which is why the Illuminative State follows the Dark Night. Christ came at night. He brought His Light into the Darkness. And the first to see Christ in the manger were those humble ones.

to be continued.... 

Saints of The Knights of Malta Part Three

Blessed Gerard had an entire website to himself.  The pictures and photographs are worth seeing. 
You may read his story here.

Blessed Gerard has been noted on this blog before today.