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Wednesday 1 April 2015

From Wednesday's Divine Office of Readings

The perfection of love by St. Augustine on John
Dear brethren, the Lord has marked out for us the fullness of love that we ought to have for each other. He tells us: No one has greater love than the man who lays down his life for his friends. In these words, the Lord tells us what the perfect love we should have for one another involves. John, the evangelist who recorded them, draws the conclusion in one of his letters: As Christ laid down his life for us, so we too ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. We should indeed love one another as he loved us, he who laid down his life for us.
  This is surely what we read in the Proverbs of Solomon: If you sit down to eat at the table of a ruler, observe carefully what is set before you; then stretch out your hand, knowing that you must provide the same kind of meal yourself. What is this ruler’s table if not the one at which we receive the body and blood of him who laid down his life for us? What does it mean to sit at this table if not to approach it with humility? What does it mean to observe carefully what is set before you if not to meditate devoutly on so great a gift? What does it mean to stretch out one’s hand, knowing that one must provide the same kind of meal oneself, if not what I have just said: as Christ laid down his life for us, so we in our turn ought to lay down our lives for our brothers? This is what the apostle Paul said: Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we might follow in his footsteps.
  This is what is meant by providing “the same kind of meal.” This is what the blessed martyrs did with such burning love. If we are to give true meaning to our celebration of their memorials, to our approaching the Lord’s table in the very banquet at which they were fed, we must, like them, provide “the same kind of meal.”
  At this table of the Lord we do not commemorate the martyrs in the same way as we commemorate others who rest in peace. We do not pray for the martyrs as we pray for those others, rather, they pray for us, that we may follow in his footsteps. They practised the perfect love of which the Lord said there could be none greater. They provided “the same kind of meal” as they had themselves received at the Lord’s table.
  This must not be understood as saying that we can be the Lord’s equals by bearing witness to him to the extent of shedding our blood. He had the power of laying down his life; we by contrast cannot choose the length of our lives, and we die even if it is against our will. He, by dying, destroyed death in himself; we are freed from death only in his death. His body did not see corruption; our body will see corruption and only then be clothed through him in incorruption at the end of the world. He needed no help from us in saving us; without him we can do nothing. He gave himself to us as the vine to the branches; apart from him we cannot have life.
  Finally, even if brothers die for brothers, yet no martyr by shedding his blood brings forgiveness for the sins of his brothers, as Christ brought forgiveness to us. In this he gave us, not an example to imitate but a reason for rejoicing. Inasmuch, then, as they shed their blood for their brothers, the martyrs provided “the same kind of meal” as they had received at the Lord’s table. Let us then love one another as Christ also loved us and gave himself up for us.

Hey, Leaders...doncha know this?


Finally, Thank God for Some Common Sense

The report includes testimonies from women who have been subjected to various forms of abuse, including one woman who said: “I feel betrayed by Britain. I came here to get away from this and the situation is worse here than in the country I escaped from”.

Mea Culpa, Nicholas Owen

I missed an important feast day last week as it fell on a Sunday.

St. Nicholas Owen is one of my personal patrons. He is the famous priest-hole maker of the English persecution of priests and he himself was horribly tortured to death.

"Staircase with a Priest Hole In Havrington Hall-Worcestershire-UK-1" by Quodvultdeus - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

I have chosen him as one of my many favorites for several reasons.

  1. He is an English martyr.
  2. He is a Jesuit
  3. He was practical and used his talents for good.
  4. He gave himself up to save trying to save Father Garnet.
  5. He is not well-known.
I hope he forgives my oversight and intercedes for me, as I am in a bit of a "hiding place" myself.

St. Nicholas Owen, pray for me, pray for us.

Excellent Post on Synod and Gradualism--A MUST Read

Someone sent me this link. This post states many of the things which I have put on this blog, but in a shorter and extremely clear manner. This person is not ambiguous.

I decided to give the link, but here are some good bits.

Like this one:

...we have to understand what the Holy Spirit is about - for most of us the Holy Spirit keeps us in existence, He inspires our intellects with truth, beauty and the notion of the good - which motivates our will to carry out this inspiration freely towards the good - this is what Love is - the Holy Spirit provides us with Sufficient Grace to never sin - He provides our intellects and consciences to be aware of the Good, the True and Beautiful - and we can conform to this and be truly free [remember the only thing we are ever free to do is to do good - sin is always a denial of our freedom and actually traps us and makes us less free] or we can hoodwink ourselves into thinking happiness may be achieved through another route - a short-cut - an easy way - and hence we lie to ourselves and our God and our created reality and the rest of creation and we commit sin - and in the process we as temples of the Holy Spirit in whom we live , move and have our being - abuse and defy the Lord, the Giver of Life with our lies and sin...the only two things we can say we possess - every other thing comes from God, is worked by God and returns to God - every other thing is Grace of which we are unworthy but in which we we happy receivers can and should boast.

...and this one which sounds like me. except that this writer is more intelligent, more educated, and a better writer than I am:

Sometimes God uses efficient Grace upon us to actuate His will  
Otherwise it is sufficient grace where we are at the helm of our wills - the Holy Spirit inspires our intellects and carries out our wills - but we choose - we decide.
The Holy Spirit does not treat us like puppets or cosmic chess pieces - He limits himself to inspiration of the intellect to motivate the will - we choose whether to conform to that will or not....
Hence in matters of the Church the Holy Spirit may inspire - but the Pope and his Brother Bishops and clerics and religious act according to their own either conformed or refusenik wills.
The Holy Spirit does not choose a Pope - Cardinals choose a Pope.
The Holy Spirit does not appoint Bishops - The Pope does.
The Holy Spirit does not gerrymander or rig Synod or Oecumenical council votes - The Pope and Bishops vote.

See link below for someone thinking like me that was is under attack are the basic doctrines, including that of grace.

10,000 Post in Honor of The Sorrowful Mother

Part of my daily third order prayers...

Litany of Our Lady of Sorrows
V. Lord, have mercy on us.
R. Christ, have mercy on us.
V. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
R. Christ, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.
Mother of the Crucified, pray for us.
Mother most sorrowful, pray for us.
Mother most tearful, pray for us.
Mother afflicted, pray for us.
Mother forsaken, pray for us.
Mother bereft of thy Son, pray for us.
Mother pierced with the sword, pray for us.
Mother consumed with grief, pray for us.
Mother filled with anguish, pray for us.
Mirror of patience, pray for us.
Rock of constancy, pray for us.
Joy of the afflicted, pray for us.
Ark of the desolate, pray for us.
Refuge of the abandoned, pray for us.
Shield of the oppressed, pray for us.
Conqueror of the incredulous, pray for us.
Solace of the wretched, pray for us.
Medicine of the sick, pray for us.
Help of the faint, pray for us.
Strength of the weak, pray for us.
Haven of the shipwrecked, pray for us.
Calmer of tempests, pray for us.
Companion of the sorrowful, pray for us.
Treasure of the Faithful, pray for us.
Theme of Prophets, pray for us.
Staff of the Apostles, pray for us.
Queen of Martyrs, pray for us.
Light of Confessors, pray for us.
Pearl of Virgins, pray for us.
Comfort of Widows, pray for us.
Joy of all Saints, pray for us.

Pray for us, most Sorrowful Virgin,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world.
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world.
Hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world.
Have mercy upon us.

Let us pray.

Imprint, O Lord, thy wounds upon our hearts, that we may read therein sorrow and love; sorrow to endure all suffering for thee; love to despise all love but thine; who lives and reigns, world without end, Amen.

Moving Towards My 10,000 Post

I have been thinking about what to highlight for this milestone, which will be the next post.

For some reason, writing about the way the sunlight comes into windows in England came to my mind. The sun has a particular pale but warm glow in that part of the world. I miss this variety of sunlight.

Sunlight and mist sometimes come together in an almost mystical manner in England. The mist does not seem to be sinister, or full of disease, but gentle, like the wing of an angel upon the earth.

One cannot express moments of beauty which one can remember as if these happened yesterday.

A walk in the Dorset countryside on a sunny day with husband and little son of three years of age, cowslips and small daisies peeking through the grass near the ancient pathway; or another walk the day after Christmas, Boxing Day, with the same pair and an old friend, when the frost lay on the green grass like miniature diamonds, and a cold mist graced the land, playing hide and seek with the Dorset hills,when suddenly, a red English phone box formed out of the mist--so I phoned my parents for Christmas,as we were too poor to have a phone; or a drive through Dartmoor with adult son and an old American friend, exclaiming joy at charming hobbit houses low in the vales, and watching the sun fill these valleys like liquid gold being poured out into a folded cloth of varied greens; or the lone, rugged mile-marker, found suddenly, as we stopped to look at the gorse bushes lining the worn path; another walk in Hampshire, with the linnets singing in the hedges, while the man in the family swung a wooden stick against the weeds, like another Charles Musgrove with his cane, just for the fun of it.

Sunlight in England seems soft, like a mother's kiss at night in the summer, when one as a child had to go to bed in the twilight, not the dark; or like the first kiss a mother gives her newborn, a gentle kiss full of awe, wonder, and thankfulness.

The sunlight of England reminds me of many things, but I wonder if I shall ever see this light again....I do not allow myself to think of my beloved country often, as such thoughts break my heart.

Such are my wanderings on post 9,999.

Compunction Six-Regret And The Worm of Conscience

"Maud-Muller-Brown" by John Gast, artist, after J.G. Brown  Public Domain

This is the last in this part of the series on contrition, on repentance. Pray for the sense of compunction if you have lost this. Offer up suffering for those who are hell-bound. Where there is life, there is hope.

Regret for wrong decisions will be the everlasting torment of those in hell.

My comments in blue...

VII. The Worm that Dieth Not. 

OUR Divine Saviour says: "If thy hand scandalize thee, cut it off; it is better for thee to enter into life, maimed, than, having two hands, to go into Hell, into the fire that cannot be quenched, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. And if thy foot scandalize thee, cut it off; it is better for thee to enter lame into life, than, having two feet, to be cast into the Hell of unquenchable fire, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out; it is better for thee with one eye to enter the kingdom of God, than, having two eyes, to be cast into the Hell of fire, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished" (Mark ix. 42-47).

By these words our blessed Redeemer wished to impress on our minds the necessity of avoiding the occasions of sin and of making even the most painful sacrifices to avoid sin and thus escape the endless pains of Hell. He, moreover, wished to engrave deeply in our minds the fact that two of the most fearful torments of Hell are its unquenchable fire and its never-dying worm. We have seen in a foregoing chapter in what consists the terrible fire of Hell. It now remains to us to examine in what consists "the worm that dieth not."

We have reason, which the lower creatures do not. Our intellects can be enlightened by grace and faith.  Faith can be enlightened by the intellect.

Those in hell still have the same intellect, but now eaten up, like the worm eats dirt, by regret.

This remorse never ends in forgiveness or mercy, as that time for the sacraments is gone.

All the senses of the reprobate have each their peculiar punishment; their reason, or intellect, is punished by the pain of loss, as we have seen in the preceding chapter, a punishment far surpassing that of the senses. The memory of the reprobate is tormented by " the worm that dieth not," that is by a most keen and constant remorse of conscience, which will give them no rest.

Each one of us, because we are sinners, can look back with regret on many sins of omission and commission. But, on earth, while we are still alive, we can change. 

How many Catholics think of sins of omission, the passing up of opportunities to follow grace upon grace?
The lost sinner will remember how many graces and means of salvation he had during life to save his soul ; how God sent him so many holy inspirations, how he received so many good instructions, how he had the grace of prayer within his power to enable him to practise the virtues of his state, to overcome temptation, to keep the Commandments of God and of His Church; how his pious friends exhorted him to lead a good life both by their exhortations, but especially by their good example; how he had so many opportunities of instructing himself in his obligations by the hearing of the word of God and the reading of good books, and of strengthening himself in the discharge of his duties by the reception of the Sacraments and by the practice of devotion to the Blessed Virgin!

As Catholics, we are not merely given sufficient grace for heaven, but, as this good priest notes, "a superabundance of means of salvation".

The lost sinner will, in a word, remember with how little trouble he might have saved his soul and avoided Hell. He will say to himself: " So little effort was required for my salvation; even after my numerous sins a good confession would have sufficed. But through shame, through human respect, I did not make it. How foolish I was! How often did my conscience, my family, my friends urge me to go to confession! But it was all in vain. Others committed greater sins than I did, but they bewailed them, went to confession and changed their life, and now they are enjoying unspeakable happiness in Heaven! And as for me, I am lost forever, and that through my own fault, for I had at my disposal a superabundance of means of salvation. But now repentance is unavailing, it is too late!"

But let us consider the expressions of regret of the various lost sinners. Their sorrow is vain, for, like that of Judas, it is the sorrow of despair.

"During life," these lost sinners will say to themselves, "I loved ease and comfort and luxury, fine garments, costly jewellery and princely mansions. To gain these I did not scruple to defraud my neighbour in every available way. I stole from my employers, I took false oaths, I joined secret societies, I even sold my virtue! I stayed away from Mass, I ate meat on forbidden days, I neglected the Sacraments, I went so far as to deny my faith. I contracted marriage before a civil magistrate, or before a heretical minister; I contracted a mixed marriage without dispensation; I got a divorce and then ventured to break the laws of God and of the Church by getting married again! I wished to be free, to do just as I pleased.

This could have been written yesterday and it was written 116 years ago. Could those who give bad advice in the synod, or from their cardinals' or bishops' chairs not tremble if they read these words?

The laws of God and of His Church forbade me to frequent dangerous occasions, and I spurned these laws because I wished to enjoy myself and gratify my passions by going with persons and into places that were dangerous to me, and thus I fell repeatedly into sins, even the most shameful.

Clubs. porn websites, evil computer games, bad movies, or bad television shows....the list is endless.

God commanded me to be pure and chaste, and I took delight in gratifying my basest passions in every possible way, and sought every occasion of doing so. How criminally I acted in neglecting to give my children a religious education, and thus caused them to lose their souls

This part is, frankly, scary, as too many parents are not educating their children correctly. Yes, and many young people, even children, will lose their souls.  It is terrifying....Remember Padre Pio telling the mother he would not hear her confession as her son was in hell because of her...and she had not repented of whatever sin she had committed to cause her own son's damnation. Horrible thought, indeed

During life I was fond of listening to and joining in backbiting, calumny, obscene discourses, and even irreligious conversations. I loved to read filthy novels and to gaze on immodest pictures and objects. While on earth, I yielded to my passion for strong drink, and indulged in it to excess, until I degraded myself below the brute and committed crimes innumerable against my wife and children, against my neighbour.

During life I delighted in cursing, swearing, in uttering fearful oaths and imprecations and in quarrelling, in gambling and in almost every crime.

And now I find myself in the gloomy prison of Hell, in company of a countless multitude of villains, murderers, of the most degraded beings that have ever lived  I have no longer a loving parent, a loving child, a sympathizing friend. No; all the ties of friendship, all the ties of nature, are forever broken, forever turned into devilish hate. Every evil spirit, every reprobate insults me, curses me, tortures me, seeks to make me suffer the more. I must submit to all this, because during life I refused to submit to the holy will of God. I could so easily have been saved, and now I am lost, lost forever, and that through my own fault! Never shall I see God, never shall I enjoy the delights of Heaven, never more shall I be released from these terrible torments. It is now too late!"

All this, and much more, will the worm of conscience say to the damned, stinging him with reproaches so relentlessly that he will almost be driven crazy with despair. In fact, the damned will rave and rage as if they were possessed, and will invoke curses on themselves. But all in vain; it is too late for repentance. This terrible remorse will do nothing towards atoning for their sins, it will only add to their anguish.

Consider this, obdurate sinner, who dost sin so boldly, and even when thy conscience pricks thee, turnest a deaf ear to its reproaches. Be assured that one day thy own conscience will be thy tormentor, and will plague thee more pertinaciously than the demons themselves. If thou dost desire to escape this never-ending misery, listen to the voice of conscience now, follow its counsel when it bids thee abstain from doing evil, and urges thee to do that which is right. 

Enough! These posts must help each one of us to have compunction. Without contrition and the turning away from sin, we are lost.

But, thanks be to God for His Mercy.

Compunction Five-The Loss of the Beatific Vision 2

There are several misunderstandings among some Catholics regarding those in heaven. Those blissful souls in heaven cannot mourn for us, cannot cry. There is no unhappiness in heaven.

Those in heaven enjoy the happiness each person was created to have. But, those is hell are full of the regret that they did not become the person God created them to be--His son or daughter forever happy with Him in heaven.

Pray for those who are in mortal sin. Pray for those who have left the Church. Do penance for unbaptized adults and children who fall so easily prey to Satan.  

This lack of the vision of God is the destiny of the unrepentant.
 To realize, in some measure, how great this pain of loss is, we should bear in mind that we have been created by God to be forever happy. This love of happiness, this yearning for it, which every one of us feels in his heart, will never be destroyed, not even in Hell. During this life men, impelled by this desire and blinded by passion, seek happiness in riches, in honours, in sensual gratification. These vain images of happiness deceive us so long as our soul is united with our body. But after the soul has severed her connection with the body, all these false, fleeting pleasures disappear, and she becomes aware that God alone is the source of all happiness, and that she can find happiness solely in the possession of Him. 

I would think that seeing all the opportunities for grace and virtue which one passed up while on earth would be some of the pain of hell. Self-knowledge, and the Knowledge of Divine Things, including the Beauty of God as beyond one's grasp forever would be the worst pain of all.

No longer deceived by false appearances, no longer blinded by passion, she perceives clearly the ineffable, ravishing beauty of God and His infinite perfections ; she sees His infinite power in creating the world, His infinite wisdom in governing it, His excessive love for her in be coming man, in dying for her, in giving Himself to her as the food of her soul in the Blessed Sacrament, in destining her to share His own happiness forever in Heaven. This knowledge of the grandeur, of the goodness and loveliness of God will remain deeply impressed on her for all eternity. She will also see the justice of the punishments which God inflicts forever in Hell upon all those who do not keep His commandments. 

Unfulfilled desire is the lot of the damned.  We are only happy in God.

Then the reprobate soul, yearning after happiness, and feeling irresistibly drawn to God, who alone can make her happy, endeavours to rush to God with all the impetuosity of her nature, in order to behold Him, to enjoy Him, to be united to Him; but she finds herself repelled with infinite force from God, and hated by Him on account of her sins. Were all the riches, honours and pleasures of the world now offered to that soul, she would turn away from them, and would even curse them all, for she yearns for God alone, and can be happy only in God. 

The reprobate soul in Hell, spurred on by frightful pains, looks about her for some alleviation, for some word of comfort; but not even a sympathizing look greets her, for she is surrounded by cruel devils and bitter enemies. Not meeting with any compassion where she is, she raises her eyes to Heaven, and beholds it so beautiful, so enchanting, so delightful, so full of true happiness. She remembers that she was created and destined to enjoy its bliss, and now, in the midst of her most excruciating pains, she longs for its pleasures with a still more indescribable yearning, and makes extraordinary efforts to go there, but she cannot leave her abode of torment.   

Trapped in suffering forever...but, now, we can repent, we can change.

Now is the time for contrition, mortification, reparation, new life through the sacraments of the Church.

We only have the "now".

No one in Heaven seems to take any notice of herShe sees the throne that God, in His goodness, had prepared for her, now occupied by someone else ! There is no longer any room for her in Heaven. She beholds there some of her relatives, of her companions and acquaintances; but they do not heed her. She beholds all the elect in Heaven full of joy and gladness. They do not even sympathize with her, but as the Psalmist sings, "the just will rejoice when he shall see the revenge" (Ps. Ivii. ii).

In vain the reprobate soul calls on the Saints, on the Blessed Virgin and on our Divine Saviour Himself. She feels drawn to God by an irresistible impulse, and understands that God alone can quench her thirst for enjoyment and make her happy. She longs to see and possess Him; she repeatedly endeavours to spring towards Him, but she feels herself repulsed by Him with invincible force; she beholds herself the object of Divine wrath, of the Divine anathema. She is aware that her case is hopeless, and that she shall never be admitted into the mansions of the blessed, or leave the abode of endless misery.

Despair seizes her; she utters the most fearful imprecations against God and the elect, against Heaven, against herself, her parents, her companions, against all creatures. All Hell resounds with her horrid blasphemies, and she becomes, in her ravings, an object of terror to all the other reprobates

Such is the loss of God...the tormented become tormentors to others.

One more post on compunction....

Hey, this could happen anywhere...anywhere

Compunction Four-On The Loss of The Beatific Vision 1

Staying with the same source, one reads that the loss of seeing God is the worst punishment of all--lost Love, lost Beauty, lost Innocence, lost Peace...all that is Good and Wonderful lost forever.

Yet of all these pains, that which gives the keenest anguish is being deprived of the vision of God. It will never be given to the damned to behold the Divine countenance. This pain will far outweigh all the other torments of which we have spoken. 

It is impossible for mortal man to understand how this can be so great an affliction for the damned. 

Yet such is the teaching of the Fathers ; they all maintain that there is nothing which the lost bewail so bitterly as being shut out forever from the vision of God. Whilst we live in this world, we think but little of the vision of God, and what it would be to us to be deprived of it eternally. This arises from the bluntness of our perception, which prevents us from comprehending the infinite beauty and goodness of God, and the delight experienced by those who behold Him face to face. But after death, when we are freed from the trammels of the body, our eyes will be opened, and we shall at least to some extent perceive that God is the supreme and infinite Good, and the enjoyment of Him our highest felicity. 


Imagine loving the most Beloved Person of all and never being able to see Him. We crave to be loved and to love. We rarely understand that Who we crave is the Trinity.

St. Bonaventure bears witness to this, when he says: "The most terrible penalty of the damned is being shut out forever from the blissful and joyous contemplation of the Blessed Trinity." Again, St. John Chrysostom says: "I know many persons only fear Hell because of its pains, but I assert that the loss of the celestial glory is a source of more bitter pain than all the torments of Hell." 

No Beauty, no Awe, no completeness...

The evil one himself was made to acknowledge this, as we read in the legends of Blessed Jordan, at one time General of the Dominican Order. For when Jordan asked Satan, in the person of one who was possessed, what was the principal torment of Hell, he answered: "Being excluded from the presence of God." "Is God then so beautiful to look upon?" Jordan inquired. And on the devil replying that He was indeed most beautiful, he asked further: "How great is His beauty?" "Fool that thou art," was the rejoinder, "to put such a question to me! Dost thou not know that His beauty is beyond compare?" "Canst thou not suggest any similitude," Jordan continued, "which may give me to some extent at least an idea of the Divine beauty?" Then Satan said: "Imagine a crystal sphere a thousand times more brilliant than the sun, in which the loveliness of all the colors of the rainbow, the fragrance of every flower, the sweetness of every delicious flavour, the costliness of every precious stone, the kindliness of men and the attractiveness of all the Angels combined; fair and precious as this crystal would be, in comparison with the Divine beauty, it would be unsightly and impure." 

No Perfection, no Sweetness, no Proportion, no Light...

"And pray," the good monk inquired, "what wouldst thou give to be admitted to the vision of God?" And the devil replied: "If there were a pillar reaching from earth to Heaven, beset with sharp points and nails and hooks, I would gladly consent to be dragged up and down that pillar from now until the Day of Judgment, if I could only be permitted to gaze on the Divine countenance for a few brief moments." 

to be continued....more later

Compunction Three-On Hell Two

Saul Alinsky said that he would not be happy in heaven. Here is wiki's account of his famous interview two months before he died. These words create dread in me.

Alinsky died at the age of 63 of a sudden, massive heart attack in 1972, on a street corner in Carmel, California. Two months previously, he had discussed life after death in his interview with Playboy:[4]
ALINSKY: ... if there is an afterlife, and I have anything to say about it, I will unreservedly choose to go to hell.
ALINSKY: Hell would be heaven for me. All my life I've been with the have-nots. Over here, if you're a have-not, you're short of dough. If you're a have-not in hell, you're short of virtue. Once I get into hell, I'll start organizing the have-nots over there.
PLAYBOY: Why them?
ALINSKY: They're my kind of people.

But, what does Father von Cochem write about the "kind of people". 

V. On the Company of Hell. 

 THERE are many bold sinners who, when they are punished for their crimes and threatened with Hell-fire are wont audaciously to answer: "Wherever I go, I shall at any rate not lack company," as if the presence of others could afford any solace to them, or any alleviation of their torment. In order that these shameless sinners may see how wrong they are to speak thus, and how little cause they have to anticipate any relief from the company in which they will find themselves, this chapter shall be devoted to showing them how woeful that company will be, and how it will aggravate their misery. 

Would one want to live in grief, confusion, misery, tyranny and pain forever?

The society of the damned consists of devils and lost souls. Both of these are countless in number. As for the society of the devils, this is so detestable that it may be reckoned as the worst penalty of the lost in Hell. The place of torment would be far less deserving of this name were there no devils in it. On account of the multitude of demons there, such confusion, such grief, such misery, such tyranny prevails, that it is heartbreaking even to think of it. 
We mortals have no worse enemy than the devil, who hates us with so intense a hatred that he longs every moment to hurl us down into the abyss of perdition. And when at length he has got some one into his power, he deals with him more barbarously than savage despot ever dealt with his deadliest foe. 

Would one want to live in hatred forever under a being which is the most horrible tyrant of all?

All the envy and hatred which at the time of his fall he conceived against God, and which he cannot vent upon Him, he vents upon the damned, tormenting them with plagues the very thought of which makes a man s blood run cold. Even if he were not to do any harm to the damned, the mere fact of his dwelling with them for all eternity would be such terrible misery for the unhappy sinners, that the horror of their position would be like a continual death to them. 

Everlasting death does not mean peace....we all have time to repent and that time is now.

Of all the fallen spirits, not one is so abominable as the chief of all, the haughty Lucifer, whose cruelty, malice and spite render him an object of dread not merely to the damned, but also to the devils subject to him. This Lucifer is called by various names in Holy Scriptures, all indicating his malignity. On account of his repulsiveness he is called a dragon; on account of his ferocity, a lion; on account of his malice, the old serpent; on account of his deceitfulness, the father of lies; on account of his haughtiness, king over all the children of pride; and on account of his great power and might, the prince of this world. 

Hell is physical, not just spiritual torment...after the Last Day of Judgement, the Final Judgement.

Listen to what the Fathers of the Church and some expositors of Holy Scriptures say of the dreadful appearance that Satan presents: they apply to him the description given of the leviathan in the book of Job: "Who can discover the face of his garment, or who can go into the midst of his mouth? Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about. His body is like molten shields, shut up close with scales pressing one upon another. One is joined to another, and not so much as any air can come between them. His sneezing is like the shining of fire, and his eyes like the eyelids of the morning. Out of his mouth go forth lamps, like torches of lighted fire. Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, like that of a pot heated and boiling. His breath kindleth coals, and a flame cometh forth out of his mouth. 

In his neck strength shall dwell, and want goeth before his face. His heart shall be as hard as a stone, and as firm as a smith’s anvil. When he shall raise him up, the Angels shall fear and, being affrighted, turn to God for protection. He shall make the deep sea to boil as a pot; there is no power upon earth that can be compared with him who was made to fear no one. He beholdeth every high thing ; he is king over all the children of pride" (Job xli.). 

It is the opinion of St. Cyril, St. Athanasius, St. Gregory and other learned expositors of both the Greek and Latin Churches, that although this description, taken literally, is that of a monster of the sea, yet it is intended, in its mystic sense, to apply to Lucifer. And if one compares what is said of the leviathan with the attributes ascribed to the prince of darkness, it is impossible to deny their coincidence; moreover, one knows as a general fact that evil things have their types and figures in the natural world as well as good things, the one serving us for warning, the others for an example. 

Besides the prince of darkness there are hundreds of thousands of inferior devils, which though less bad and abominable than himself, are yet so wicked and horrible that one could hardly look upon them and live. 

Just think of all the monstrous people who ever lived for a view of the companions of hell. Devils are worse. 

St. Antony relates that one of the Brothers of his Order uttered a piercing scream at the sight of a devil who appeared to him. His fellow-monks, running to him in alarm, found him more dead than alive. After giving him something to revive and strengthen him, they asked him what was the matter. Then he told them that the devil had appeared to him, and terrified him so that all the life had gone out of him. And on their inquiring what the devil looked like, he answered: "That I really cannot say; I can only say that if the choice were given me I would rather be put into a red-hot furnace, than look again at the countenance of the demon." 

We read much the same thing in the life of St. Catharine of Sienna. She too declared that she had rather walk through a flaming fire than gaze for one instant at the devil. 

If the mere sight of the evil one is so appalling that the Saints think it more intolerable than the pain of exposure to a burning fire, what, my God, must be the fear and horror of the damned, dwelling forever in the midst of countless fiends! 

How terrified thou wouldst be if a mad dog were suddenly to spring upon thee, pull thee to the ground, and begin to tear thee with his teeth ! Do not imagine that the devil will fall upon the damned with less fury, or treat them more mercifully. The account Job gives of his persecutors describes very accurately the state of a lost soul in Hell: 

"My enemy hath gathered together his fury against me, and threatening me he hath gnashed with his teeth upon me; he hath beheld me with terrible eyes. They have opened their mouth upon me and reproaching me they have struck me on the cheek, they are filled with my pains. He hath taken me by my neck, he hath broken me, and hath set me up to be his mark. He hath compassed me round about with his lances, he hath wounded my loins, he hath not spared. He hath torn me with wound upon wound, he hath rushed in upon me like a giant" (Job xvi. 10-15). This passage will give us some idea of the awful character of the company the damned will find themselves among in Hell. 
The Torment of St. Anthony by Michelangelo

I hope this is enough to cause compunction in some who may not have had true contrition for sins.

to be continued....

Compunction Two--On Hell

The beginning of the section on hell in Father von Cochem, The Four Last Things, written in 1899, sounds like something from 2015...

Death is not an easy thing to face or "go through".  I shall return to his section on death. But, I wanted to skip to Father's part on hell, as it is difficult for most Catholics today to realize that going to hell is a real possibility for each of us.

Thinking on the Four Last Things can help one train one's conscience to be more sensitive, and have more compunction. To become more aware that even a venial sin offends God must be the goal of every person who wants to be a saint. Christ Himself refers to hell and the fires of hell. These fires cannot be seen as symbolic, or as poetry. Here is a bit from Father's book.

I. On the Fire of Hell.

ALTHOUGH in the present day many are found to deny the existence of Hell, or, at any rate, the eternity of punishment, we do not consider it incumbent upon us to bring forward a number of proofs that there is such a place as Hell. In the case of the Christian reader, for whom this book is intended, evidence of this nature is quite superfluous, because he will not have made shipwreck of his faith. Indeed, what further proofs can be required for the existence of Hell and the eternity of punishment, seeing that the prophets, that Christ Himself, that the apostles, and the Fathers of the Church, nay, the very Turks and heathens, speak of it as an unquestioned fact. Those who deny the existence of Hell must consequently be counted amongst the fools who say in their heart that there is no God who punishes their misdeeds. 

It would undoubtedly be very agreeable for these people if all things ended with this life, if there were no day of reckoning, or if, at least, the infernal regions were somewhat less intolerable. This accounts for their catching at any apparent arguments wherewith to delude themselves and lull to sleep their fear of the eternal chastisements of Hell. We will not enter upon any examination of the wretched sophisms wherewith these fools deceive themselves ; for the teaching of the Catholic Church on this point is all we need* She teaches that there is a place or state of unequalled and never-ending pain in reserve for the damned. 

We know that there really is fire in Hell, from the words Christ spoke to the wicked : " Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his Angels " (Matt. xxv. 41). This shows that there is real fire in Hell, and that in it the damned must burn eternally. What the intensity of that pain will be it is beyond the power of man to depict. For of all the varied kinds of physical suffering to which man can be subjected, there is none so great, so cruel, so agonizing, as that which is caused by fire. The rack, the wheel, amputation of a man's limbs, are all terrible torture, but they are not to be compared to the pain of burning. If one does but touch a red-hot iron, what exquisite pain it occasions! In a moment the skin is off, the raw flesh protrudes, blood and matter exude from the wound, and the pain goes to the very marrow of our bones. One cannot refrain from crying out and screaming as if one had lost one’s senses. Now if momentary contact with the red-hot iron causes such acute pain, what would it be if one had to hold a red-hot iron for any length of time 

Compunction may arise for contemplating hell. This type of compunction is imperfect, but enough to bring us to repentance and salvation.

Father quotes Isaiah:

"Behold, the wrath of the Lord burneth and is heavy to bear, His lips are filled with indignation, and His tongue as a devouring fire. His breath as a torrent overflowing even to the midst of the neck, to destroy the nations unto nothing." And again: " Topheth (Hell) is prepared from yesterday, deep and wide. The nourishment thereof is fire and much wood ; the breath of the Lord as a torrent of brimstone kindling it" (Is. xxx. 27, 33). 

The priest refers to St. Augustine as well.

 St. Augustine tells us that the most fearful fire on earth is, in comparison with the fire of Hell, like a painting of fire compared to a real fire. 

I am afraid that many people will go to hell from our times. This is why we must share the Gospel and love in and out of season. We, also, must resolve to endure the suffering of purgation. Purification is a gift from God.


Woe betide me and all who have the terrible misfortune to commit mortal sin. May God keep me from such sin as would be the means of casting me into eternal perdition. I will gladly suffer all things, the greatest temporal troubles, the acutest pains, even the cruellest death, in order to escape everlasting torment in Hell. This is my firm purpose; wherefore grant me Thy grace and strengthen me in my good resolution. 

On Compunction

I apologize for re-posts, but I have been ill since yesterday a.m.

But, a reader asked for a post on compunction, something I distinctly remember learning about in school from the nuns preparing up for First Confession. Little children love words, and they love big words.

Perhaps one of the best writers on compunction, which is remorse for sin or contrition, is Thomas a Kempis, the author of The Imitation of Christ, another great book for spiritual reading. a Kempis states this below.

One can have imperfect or perfect compunction, which lead to repentance.

I shall make my comments in blue.



If thou wilt make any progress keep thyself in the fear of God, and long not to be too free, but restrain all thy senses under discipline and give not thyself up to senseless mirth. Give thyself to compunction of heart and thou shalt find devotion. Compunction openeth the way for many good things, which dissoluteness is wont quickly to lose. It is wonderful that any man can ever rejoice heartily in this life who considereth and weigheth his banishment, and the manifold dangers which beset his soul.

Since all humans have natural law written on their hearts, remorse is a normal feeling, a reaction to sin. But, many people push down this reaction and ignore it, turning away from the warning of the conscience. Compunction can be "stoked" through meditating on the Four Last Things, death, judgement, hell, and heaven.

2. Through lightness of heart and neglect of our shortcomings we feel not the sorrows of our soul, but often vainly laugh when we have good cause to weep. There is no true liberty nor real joy, save in the fear of God with a good conscience. Happy is he who can cast away every cause of distraction and bring himself to the one purpose of holy compunction. Happy is he who putteth away from him whatsoever may stain or burden his conscience. Strive manfully; custom is overcome by custom. If thou knowest how to let men alone, they will gladly let thee alone to do thine own works.

Interesting that a Kempis writes on real joy coming from a good conscience. Those who no longer allow themselves to be distracted by the world, the flesh and the devil experience a renewed fear of the Lord, a renewed energy and desire to become holy.

One wants to move away from all sin, mortal and venial, for the love of self and the love of God. This type of self-love is good, as one must work for one's own salvation as well as that of others.

a Kempis states, "Strive manfully; custom is overcome by custom." Good habits with prayer and confession drive out bad habits.

3. Busy not thyself with the affairs of others, nor entangle thyself with the business of great men. Keep always thine eye upon thyself first of all, and give advice to thyself specially before all thy dearest friends. If thou hast not the favour of men, be not thereby cast down, but let thy concern be that thou holdest not thyself so well and circumspectly, as becometh a servant of God and a devout monk. It is often better and safer for a man not to have many comforts in this life, especially those which concern the flesh. But that we lack divine comforts or feel them rarely is to our own blame, because we seek not compunction of heart, nor utterly cast away those comforts which are vain and worldly.

Gossip must be set aside, follow your own good words, become a good servant of God not men..all of these things help hone compunction, which is a tool of repentance.

The less comforts of the flesh we have, the better, as our senses will not be deadened or burdened by sin or sinful thoughts. Truly, sins of the flesh make one spiritually sluggish.

St. John of the Cross writes that we should not seek after spiritual comforts, either. One can read this in my posts on him in the two series, perfection and Doctors of the Church.

4. Know thyself to be unworthy of divine consolation, and worthy rather of much tribulation. When a man hath perfect compunction, then all the world is burdensome and bitter to him. A good man will find sufficient cause for mourning and weeping; for whether he considereth himself, or pondereth concerning his neighbour, he knoweth that no man liveth here without tribulation, and the more thoroughly he considereth himself, the more thoroughly he grieveth. Grounds for just grief and inward compunction there are in our sins and vices, wherein we lie so entangled that we are but seldom able to contemplate heavenly things.

More and more, I know that suffering is a gift which tears us away from the world. Perfect compunction, or perfect contrition, actually make worldly things distasteful. Suffering must not be avoided when self-knowledge reveals sin.  In fact, grieving over sin happens fairly constantly in the Dark Night of the Soul. A daily examination of conscience can help one move towards perfect compunction, perfect contrition, which is based on the love for God.

5. If thou thoughtest upon thy death more often than how long thy life should be, thou wouldest doubtless strive more earnestly to improve. And if thou didst seriously consider the future pains of hell, I believe thou wouldest willingly endure toil or pain and fear not discipline. But because these things reach not the heart, and we still love pleasant things, therefore we remain cold and miserably indifferent.

Here it is, as if I anticipated a Kempis' note on contemplating on death and hell-- and the other the Four Last Things.

6. Oftentimes it is from poverty of spirit that the wretched body is so easily led to complain. Pray therefore humbly unto the Lord that He will give thee the spirit of compunction and say in the language of the prophet, Feed me, O Lord, with bread of tears, and give me plenteousness of tears to drink.(1)
(1) Psalm lxxv. 5.

What the author means by poverty of spirit here is a littleness, a smallness of soul, a lack of generosity. When one see one's own sins and can weep, God carves out of our hearts a place for Him to rest.

to be continued...Treatise on the Four Last Things may be found at this site.

Re-post Fitting for This Holy Week

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Perfection Series IV: Part Nine; The Nature of Love

I have called St. Bernard of Clairvaux the Saint of Love. More than any other man, with St. John of the Cross, he communicates to his audience, his monks, us, the glory of being loved by the Bridegroom, Christ.

In Sermon 15 on The Song of Songs, Bernard notes this: "Love's business is to educate the mind as well as to provide the body's food."  He is referring to the Names of Jesus, but most particularly, the Name of Jesus.

Those who have experienced love understand how precious the name of the beloved is to the one who speaks the name.

But, what is the meaning of educating the mind and speaking or meditating on the Name of Jesus? Bernard tells all that Christ's Name is "oil poured out", quoting the Scriptures. This oil brings gladness and healing, and spreads.

"How shall we explain the world-light of faith, swift and flaming in its progress, except by the preaching of Jesus' name.? Is it not by the light of this name that God that God has called us into his wonderful light, that irradiates the darkness and empowers us to see the light"

The love of Christ leads us into the Illuminative State. Called into God's light through the darkness of purgation, Christ pours His love into our minds, and we are then educated in the virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, lying dormant since Confirmation.

St. Bernard experienced the power of good works which are unleashed in Illumination.

Here he quotes St. Paul, "You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord."

Only those who have learned humility, who have called upon the Name of the Bridegroom in the Dark Night are the "light in the Lord".  Once one has allowed the oil which is Jesus' Name to heal and to teach, one can do God's work in the world.

The intellect become enlightened with the Holy Spirit, being taught by Christ Alone.

How profoundly Bernard expresses his illumination. "I am conscious, I am alive! I am perfectly restored, my resurrection is complete. What else is the death of the body than to be deprived of life and feeling? Sin, which is the death of the soul, took from me the feeling of compunction, hushed my prayers of praise; I was dead. Then he who forgives sin came down, restored my senses again and said, 'I am your deliverer.' Why wonder that death should yield when he who is life comes down?"

The coming down of Christ is the Bridegroom coming to the bride, the soul now cleansed and humbled. When one can say these words of Bernard in truth, in the second conversion, one is in the Illuminative State.

I wrote of rational, not affective love, in the beginning of this new series. The enlightened mind now experiences rational love.

to be continued...