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Saturday 4 April 2015

Strong Hearts, Strong Minds

A bishop reminded me that the word "courage" comes from the Latin word for heart "cor". Courage, fortitude, steadfastness are all names for the virtue which men and women receive , along with the Theological Virtues and the other three Cardinal Virtues, at baptism.

See the posts on these virtues.

Today, thinking of the apostles cowering in the room, not knowing what to do, I am reminded that we know what to do in the face of danger.

Why? We have fortitude, or courage. All of these virtues must be used or they will go into dormancy, like unwrapped presents put back into a cupboard.

Courage does not mean one does not experience fear, which is normal, in the face of danger, but this virtue does give one the ability to act uprightly despite the feeling of fear.

One continues standing up for one's faith in the face of danger. Fortitude brings us patience and perseverance, virtues which follow fortitude. The cardinal virtues lead to other virtues, just as the capital sins lead to other sins.

Some people say to me, "Well, I would like to be a martyr, but I do not know how I would react in the face of persecution."

Why not? Why does someone not know? We are in bootcamp daily. We have to stand up for our Faith in the work place, in our families, even in our parishes.

We are given many opportunities to grow in courage, to nurture fortitude.

The Church Militant needs Her confirmed laity to become saints.

We should know ourselves well enough to know how we would react to persecution.

Daily prayer prepares us. Not compromising the Faith cleanses our minds, imaginations, wills and places fear on the back burner. We learn to walk through fear.

Since I have been very young, when I was afraid to do something, I purposefully chose to do it.

Take that first dive off the high board, enter speech contests, work in the worst of ghetto neighborhoods, get on a plane by myself, move to another continent, face those who are immoral and heretical in Catholic schools, colleges, universities, in the Church, homeschool in the face of derision, and so on...I chose to go against fear.

I was not a foolhardy, choleric child, adolescent, or adult, but reflective. Fortitude is not connected to temperaments, but is a gift from God. We all have this from baptism and strengthened in confirmation.

Practice makes perfect, literally.

Sometimes people who have been away from the Faith for years fear going back to Confession. They actually have the virtue hiding under all that sin, like a jewel under a pile of dead leaves, only needing a choice of the will to activate the virtue, which would come "fully alive" when one is free of mortal sin. God gives us the grace to re-vert. He moves reason with grace and we choose.

Choices are so much harder to make when one is in mortal sin, as reason falls into darkness. All the virtues inform reason. We need that special grace of conversion from God.

All the virtues lead us back to God and can become habits, and if we turn against the movement of the virtues, either through fear, which means that one is choosing cowardice, a sin, or because of spiritual sloth, we fall into greater sins.

Here is Aquinas on the virtue of fortitude:

Two things must be considered in the operation of fortitude. One is in regard to its choice: and thus fortitude is not about sudden occurrences: because the brave man chooses to think beforehand of the dangers that may arise, in order to be able to withstand them, or to bear them more easily: since according to Gregory (Hom. xxv in Evang.), "the blow that is foreseen strikes with less force, and we are able more easily to bear earthly wrongs, if we are forearmed with the shield of foreknowledge." The other thing to be considered in the operation of fortitude regards the display of the virtuous habit: and in this way fortitude is chiefly about sudden occurrences, because according to the Philosopher (Ethic. iii, 8) the habit of fortitude is displayed chiefly in sudden dangers: since a habit works by way of nature. Wherefore if a person without forethought does that which pertains to virtue, when necessity urges on account of some sudden danger, this is a very strong proof that habitual fortitude is firmly seated in his mind.

And, here is the answer to those who do not know how they will react to persecution; if not habit, then reflection.

Yet is it possible for a person even without the habit of fortitude, to prepare his mind against danger by long forethought: in the same way as a brave man prepares himself when necessary. (Aquinas)

Sometimes people, even children, lie out of fear.

Lying must be seen as the unwillingness to suffer. Fortitude helps us to suffer.

Choose suffering, choose life, be of strong hearts, and strong minds.

Tomorrow, on the glorious feast of Easter, I shall review the other three cardinal virtues.

On Female Religious Vocations

In the United States, unlike Europe, only a handful of contemplative, traditional nuns exist today.

I can only think of four convents, or rather monasteries, as these contemplative places are truly called, which I can recommend.

The problem centers on the American Catholic preoccupation with action. The active orders, such as the excellent Dominican Sisters of Mary, the Mother of the Eucharist, have more popularity in the States than contemplative ones. Another great active order is the Sisters of Life, from New York, which are partly contemplative.

But, what is sorely missing on this continent are the religious orders which pray and work within the confines of the monastic rule, such as the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles.

St. Faustina had a vision concerning the need for the sacrifices and prayers of the contemplative orders. After this snippet, I shall explain what I am doing.

"During the renewal of the vows, I saw the Lord Jesus on the Epistle side (of the altar), wearing a white garment with a golden belt and holding a terrible sword in His hand. This lasted until the moment when the sisters began to renew their vows. Then I saw a resplendence beyond compare and, in front of this brilliance, a white cloud in the shape of a scale. Then Jesus approached and put the sword on one side of the scale, and it fell heavily towards the ground until it was about to touch it. Just then the sisters finished renewing their vows. Then I saw Angels who took something from each of the sisters and placed it in a golden vessel on the other side of the scale, it immediately out weighed and raised up the side on which the sword had been laid. At that moment, a flame issued forth from the thurible, and it reached all the way to the brilliance. Then I heard a voice coming from the brilliance: "Put the sword back in its place; the sacrifice is greater."

It is becoming clearer daily to me now that I have this humble and sadly under-furnished chapel here, that my daily monastic life in the world is exactly what God wants for me. This daily prayer and work combination, very Benedictine, of course, has been shown to me to be a great need on the scales of sacrifice noted above.

Now, vows constitute a much more powerful spiritual power than my small actions daily, as I have made no vows. Yet, daily, even hourly, a cloud has lifted, a cloud of doubt, being replaced by a calm light of assurance that something good is coming out of my decision to pursue monasticism in the world, in a very small manner.

One person in a remote neighborhood with the grace of God, the rule of discipline, and the sacrifice of a desired life for one of obscurity and no comforts, can change an neighborhood, an area, souls. I am being encouraged,

One woman said to me the other day after we prayed together briefly that she wishes she could join me, as the experience of prayer was like being in a monastery. However, she has six children and this was a mere respite for her.

This little chapel is that respite, this little cell in the world. 

I pray that young women answer the call to the contemplative life. Christ needs such women to balance the judgement on the one side of the scales.

Who knows? If enough young women responded, maybe the coming tribulation could be lessened, or even avoided.

Parents, encourage your daughters to think and visit these orders of contemplation. The Church and society need contemplatives more than ever today.

Please pray about helping me outfit this little chapel. I still need a real altar, linens, and kneelers, as well as a standing crucifix and tall candlesticks, as the candlesticks I am using are borrowed. The owner of the house has given me permission to "go for it", meaning she likes the idea of a chapel in her empty house. Someone will sell me a portable altar at a reduced price, with linens, but I have no money for this.

I have many icons now, and will be getting some smallish statues soon from a reader. 

Remember the chapel, St. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs, in Ephesus in your prayers.

Help On The Predominant Fault

Some readers have asked me in the not-so-distant past how to recognize one's predominant fault. One person noted that this fault seemed hard to pin-down. Yes, that is a truism.

Here are some helpful hints.

  1. One must first break away from all mortal and even venial sins. These sins blind one so that the predominant fault, always allusive, remains hidden.
  2. Tendencies towards venial sins can reveal the predominant fault. Example: if one is always confessing the same venial sins, most likely these are related to the predominant fault.
  3. Remember the sins of your childhood. Were you greedy, always taking the largest brownie on the plate? Did you steal candy out of the cupboard? Did you lie to your parents regularly? Were you mean to your siblings? And so on. Such an examination of your childhood sins can reveal pride, gluttony, deceit, avarice, malice, and so on.
  4. Have you really done a serious examination of conscience which includes sins of the imagination and thought? Sometimes, one sins inwardly but not outwardly, and these inward sins can reveal the predominant fault.
  5. Are you absolutely ruthless in confession, not hiding anything and asking God to show you sins of the past not yet confessed, although forgiven, but indicating patterns?
  6. What do you think of the most during the day? Sex? Food? Leisure? Money or shopping? These thoughts could indicate Lust, Gluttony, Sloth, Avarice and so on without one even sinning except in thought. Such preoccupations most likely point to the predominant fault.
  7. Ask your mum.

Seriously, the predominant fault is hard to pin down as we all have a survival instinct not to seem "that bad" to ourselves and others. But, until the predominant fault is overcome, there is no Illumination State and no Unitive State with God.

God blesses the pure in heart. And, purity in heart is not intention, but a reality.

Here are some previous posts on the predominant fault.

18 Mar 2015
Before conquering our predominant fault, our virtues are often, to speak more properly, natural good inclinations rather than true and solid virtues that have taken root in us. Prior to victory over this fault, the fountain of graces is ...
12 Oct 2014
When one asks and allows God to enter into one's soul and deal with one's predominant fault or faults, He does. It is hard but once one begins the journey it is not so hard.In fact, one senses the way God breaks up that fault ...
22 Oct 2014
For example, a woman who suffers from the predominant fault of vainglory and cares too much about how she looks or how other people see her, will spend too much time on clothes, make-up, hair, even wasting money on ...
12 Sep 2014
... posts today have been by request of a friend. Now, the discussion of natural law can lead one to ask this question, "Is there a connection between natural law, written on the hearts of man, and people's predominant fault?"

16 Nov 2014
"If we are to be merciful and compassionate towards our neighbour, we ought to be so above all when we know his dominant fault. The first impulse is to bring all our severity to bear on it, but on the contrary, it is one that we ...
08 Apr 2014
Firstly, St. Alphonsus reveals that anyone who gets upset with sin in one's own life is not humble, but proud, and may be exhibiting the predominant fault of anger. Anger is not merely focused on other or events, but one can ...
25 Sep 2013
Youth can spot a hypocrite a mile away and the bad priests and neglectful husbands and fathers will have to face God as to why they did not work on their predominant fault. Being a Catholic man, like being a Catholic woman, ...
13 Aug 2014
The predominant fault is so much the more dangerous as it often compromises our principal good point, which is a happy inclination of our nature that ought to develop and to be increased by grace. For example, a man is ...

07 Apr 2014
Use the tags and labels to read the posts on one's predominant fault, if you have not done so already. Hard stuff, but necessary for the road to perfection. There are 45 posts dealing with that topic directly. And, speaking of ...
22 Jul 2012
Garrigou-Lagrange states that "it is of primary importance that we recognize our predominant fault and have no illusions about it. This is is so much the more necessary as our adversary, the enemy of our soul, knows it quite ...
18 Sep 2013
For without dealing with our predominant fault, there is no moving on into the Dark Night, Illumnative and Unitive states. Later on, I can show how the predominant fault, unless dealt with in this life, is the reason we go to ...
18 Sep 2013
The predominant fault is the defect in us that tends to prevail over the others, and thereby over our manner of feeling, judging, sympathizing, willing, and acting. It is a defect that has in each of us an intimate relation to our ...

19 Sep 2013
Garrigou-Lagrange helps us on our way. The graph at the very end of this post indicates how to break the sins of the predominant fault. This is hard work. This takes time and reflection. One must be ruthless with one's self to a ...

This one above has a great graph.
18 Sep 2013
The greatest fault is pride. Thinking that one knows better than a bishop or that one can judge a liberal bishop as unauthorized to make a statement on a visionary is pride. Period. But, those with a predominant fault of sloth or ...
27 Sep 2013
The second most common predominant fault of women could be pride. This is the primordial sin and one easy to fall into. But, if this is the main, underlining fault of all faults, it must be rooted out through serious attention, ...
27 Sep 2013
The Predominant Fault of Some Women. Posted by Supertradmum. Just to be fair, I have been talking with lovely, good Catholic women who want to become saints. They would be in the category of the really beautiful women ...

22 Jul 2012
Predominant Fault Three-perfection series. Posted by Supertradmum. Promptness of will and intolerance of our faults are part of the battle against our predominant faults. This is a battle from which we cannot escape if we ...
24 Jul 2012
Perfection Series continued-the predominant fault--four. Posted by Supertradmum. St. Augustine tells us, using Garrigou-Lagrange, that God never asks us to do the impossible. If God desires us to be one with Him and He ...
08 Apr 2014
St. Francis de Sales on His Predominant Faults-Two. Posted by Supertradmum. After being greatly insulted by a Knight of Malta for not giving a benefice to one of his servants, “the bishop‟s brother …asked him how it was he ...
25 Oct 2014
Ask God to show you your predominant fault or faults. One way is to look at the pattern of sins in your life, as repetitive venial sins reveal the predominant fault. Asking God to purge one of this fault is part of the Dark Night.

Let Us Get This Straight

The Orthodox Church in the United States, and most Russian and Greek Orthodox people, disagree with the status of Original Sin and the status of Our Lady, Mary, with regard to sin.

This came up because of a comment on whether the Russian churches need "conversion" regarding teachings concerning Mary, as well as the acceptance of the Pope as the Head of the Universal Church.

Here are some bullet points where the teaching on Mary in the Orthodox Church does not agree with the true teaching found in the Catholic Church.

We need to pray for the conversion of those who hold these opinions.
  • According to the Orthodox, we only suffer the consequences of Original Sin, but are not actually born in Original Sin. This is a serious departure from the true teaching of the Church, which is that we are all born with Original Sin--hence the urgent necessity for baptism.
  • Mary was not born without Original Sin, but freely willed not to sin. This is a huge departure from the Catholic Teaching that Mary is the Immaculate Conception. She was born without Original Sin, exempt as the Mother of God selected from all time to be the New Eve.
  • From this knowledge, it is clear to me that Russia needs conversion, as this important dogma, clarified here, on December 8, 1854 by Pope Pius IX, "We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."
  • A good history may be found on this website.
  • We cannot pretend that the Russian and Greek Orthodox Churches are not in schism, and, therefore, we cannot attend services regularly or in lieu of our Sunday obligation. Those who do are in disobedience to Holy Mother Church and risking losing grace through the serious sin of disobedience. Only in emergencies, when a Catholic Church cannot be found in order for one to make one's Sunday obligation, can one attend Sunday Divine Liturgy in any Orthodox church.
  • Lastly, this fact of the nonconformity of so many Orthodox peoples to a major teaching of the Church may be seen in connection with the need for Russia to be consecrated to the Immaculate Conception. I may be changing my position on this fact, judging from the fact that those following Orthodoxy must be brought wholly into the Church, and the awareness of new problems in Russia, and old problems resurfacing. I am looking at all the evidence clearly again. However, as a lay person, it is only my position to pray for the Pope and bishops in this regard, as the message of Our Lady was not for the Laity--unlike heresies, which are our job to help clarify and teach against, as members of the Church Militant.

Get Ready for The Lunar Eclipse in USA

East of the Mississippi, people will only see a partial eclipse.

If you are west of the Mississippi, watch this video.

Holy Saturday in The Tomb

On this quiet day, go back and read all my posts on St. John of the Cross. Review the need for great purification. One venial sin is like the thread and one serious habit of sin is like the chain on the leg of the bird....

"One inordinate appetite alone....suffices to make the soul so captive, dirty, and unsightly, that until the appetite is purified, the soul is incapable of conformity with God in union."  And again he writes; "It makes little difference whether a bird is tied down by a thread or by a chain. The bird will be held down just the same.

24 Nov 2014
One more note on thoughts from St. John of the Cross. Posted by Supertradmum. Lost a post somewhere between this McDonald's and another one. C'est la vie. Let me just say that it was a goodbye to discussing the stages of ...
15 Dec 2013
I have many, many posts referring to St. John of the Cross. Please use the tags and choose something to celebrate his day. “Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the ...
14 Dec 2012
The Perfection Series on my blog owes so much to St. John of the Cross. Today, on his great Carmelite feast, I quote him again. One line in the beginning of the stanas strikes me. The soul asks Christ, who is hidden in the ...
14 Dec 2012
It is the traditional covering of the marriage bed. The secret place of our hearts, as well. St. Bernard of Clairvaulx and St. John of the Cross understood this mystery of love and shared this with us. Here is more John of the Cross ...

10 Apr 2012
Poem of St. John of Cross--The Soul that Suffers with Longing to See God I live, but not in myself, and I have such hope that I die because I do not die. 1. I no longer live within myself and I cannot live without God, for having ...
15 Nov 2013
One more note on thoughts from St. John of the Cross. Posted by Supertradmum. Lost a post somewhere between this McDonald's and another one. C'est la vie. Let me just say that it was a goodbye to discussing the stages of ...
08 Feb 2013
The writings of St. John of the Cross are amongst my favorite spiritual reading, bravo for posting this short letter. I love that you put us the scanned pages rather than the regular copy and paste quote. To me it gives a much ...
04 Aug 2013
Garrigou-Lagrange has at interesting comparison concerning the experience of the passive purification of the Illuminative State leading up to Unitive State and St. Therese, St. Teresa, and St. John of the Cross. I do not think I ...

15 Dec 2012
If you say, you cannot find God, keep praying and keep looking. Again, from St. John and the same source. God is, as I said before, inaccessible and hidden, and though it may seem that you have found Him, felt Him, and ...
15 Apr 2013
As I come to the (almost) end of this long series, started in January of 2012, I emphasize, perhaps, the most loved of all those saints and Doctors who write on perfection, St. John of the Cross. More than all the rest, he is widely ...
01 Jun 2013
St. John of the Cross treats these favors at length in The Ascent of Mount Carmel,(6) distinguishing them with great care from infused contemplation, which belongs to the grace of the virtues and gifts, or sanctifying grace, ...
02 Dec 2014
A Carmelite priest wrote some interesting words in connection with St. John of the Cross on the subject of the purification of the memory. As I have struggled with this concept and with the actual beginnings of this change of ...

10 Jun 2013
from John of the Cross three. Posted by Supertradmum. Worldly people are in the habit of censuring those who give themselves up in earnest to God, regarding them as extravagant, in their withdrawal from the world, and in their manner of life. They say also of them that they are useless for all matters of importance, and lost to everything the world prizes ... Dedicated to St. Etheldreda: Abbess of Ely. Dedicated to St. Etheldreda: Abbess of Ely a blog since early 2007 ...
28 Jan 2013
The entrance into the illuminative way, which is the second conversion described by St. Catherine of Siena, Blessed Henry Suso, Tauler, and Father Lallemant, is called by St. John of the Cross the passive purification of the ...