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Sunday 10 May 2015

Hey! What about Christians?

Suggestion on Mother's Day

I have suggested this to readers before, but here again, please consider joining the Auxilium Christianorum and the Third Order of the Most Sorrowful Mother, if you have not already.

Two worthy groups to help with spiritual warfare, and boy, is it ratcheting up. Several severe situations yesterday in my life and the lives of friends.

St. Michael, pray for us. Guardian Angels, watch over us.

Please consider giving to this good order of priests. The appeal is on the Winter Newsletter found here.

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers, especially those who are suffering for any reason.

From a Member of God's Precious Infants

"I went to the Stratford prayer vigil today - well that was the plan.  While we were at the mass in St Francis of Assisi Church we could hear all this noise.  Banging of drums, shouting, trumpet playing, etc.  We realised who it was straight away.  The pro choice gang. 

There were around 50 of them.  It was well planned.  They had banners, loudspeakers and the rest.  They had blocked the road outside the church so as to prevent our procession going anywhere. The police were there but they were powerless.  The noise was awful.  We turned round to try to exit in the other direction.  There were about 20 of us.  We were again blocked.  They surrounded us.  So we just stayed where we were, knelt down and prayer the rosary there and then.  It was pointless doing anything else.  Police reinforcements were asked for but until then we could only pray, especially for those poor young people who were round us.

A couple of us broke away from the situation including me and went over to the abortion mill to counsel.  We were told that the place was closed but we discovered it was open.  I stayed a while until another lady came to take my place and I returned to the church to see what the situation was.  There was a lot more police there and our small group of Helpers were about to process along to the clinic with all those chanting people all round us.  They tried to block us but the police had more numbers and managed to keep them in check.

They were in front of us making such a racket.  Saying terrible things about us and the church.  Anyway we arrived at the abortion mill and started to pray.  As soon as that happened the pro choice crowd melted away into the pub or into town.  Another surprise we had was that a girl who was going to go for an abortion saw what was happening and changed her mind.  A baby was saved today.  I would go through all that again to save another baby (and the mother).  I got speaking to a lady who wanted to know what was happening and she told me her story about being a young single mother of two children.  They are grown up now but she said that it was hard at first but she was glad to say yes to life.  I gave her a rosary even though she is not a Catholic.  I gave her a rosary prayer card and she said that she would definitely come and pray with others at the weekly vigil." 

A baby was saved...glory be to God. 

On Not Getting Complacent/On Not Giving Up

One of my friends said she was getting tired of fighting evil...we have just begun after the first conversion. In the Dark Night, there are days, weeks, years where one may have zero consolation. 

St. Teresa emphasizes that the spiritual warfare lasts until the day we die. We never can give up the fight against the wiles of the demons, even though we do get tired and need sometimes to rest in God.
I think having recourse to our guardian angels at these times of battle fatigue can greatly help our energies. Here are a few words from St. Teresa on these battles:

We are like men whose enemies are at the door, who must not lay aside their arms, even while sleeping or eating, and are always in dread lest the foe should enter the fortress by some breach in the walls. O my Lord and my all! How canst Thou wish us to prize such a wretched existence? We could not desist from longing and begging Thee to take us from it, were it not for the hope of losing it for Thy sake or devoting it entirely to Thy service--and above all because we know it is Thy will that we should live. Since it is so, Let us die with Thee!' [87] as St. Thomas said, for to be away from Thee is but to die again and again, haunted as we are by the dread of losing Thee for ever! 

We all get tired of these battles. I think of the walk of Christ on the Via Dolorosa, and how fatigued He must have been carrying all the sins of the world on His back, which only a God could do. I beg God for strength and know that it is the Eucharist which gives such strength to all of us who love God. One can feel physically tired, and mentally tired, but the spiritual fatigued must be shared with other who are faithful. Can you imagine how excellent and faithful priests must feel under the stress of spiritual warfare, especially traditional, orthodox priests? Pray for priests, especially for Father Ripperger, Father Zuhlsdorf, Father Driscoll, Father Stefan, Father Mario, Father Miller, Father Y, Cardinal Burke, and many others. Do not take your priests for granted. If we feel tired walking with Christ to Gethsemane, can you pause and pray for these good priests? St. Teresa encourages her nuns to pray to the saints for aid, and so I pray to my favorites, and especially to those who have encounter some of the trials I have in life. 

 Here is Teresa on this point: 

 3. This is why I say, daughters, that we ought to ask our Lord as our boon to grant us one day to dwell in safety with the Saints, for with such fears, what pleasure can she enjoy whose only pleasure is to please God? Remember, many Saints have felt this as we do, and were even far more fervent, yet fell into grave sin, and we cannot be sure that God would stretch forth His hand to raise us from sin again to do such penance as they performed. This applies to extraordinary grace. [88] Truly, my daughters, I feel such terror as I tell you this, that I know not how to write it, nor even how to go on living, when I reflect upon it as I very often do. Beg of His Majesty, my daughters, to abide within me, for otherwise, what security could I feel, after a life so badly spent as mine has been?

Part of the battle is breaking away from habits of even venial sins-those habits begun in childhood and needing strict attention as an adult, if one has not dealt with these yet. Some priests state one should not think on sins of the past-but I had a great spiritual director in 2013 who said to confess those old sins, as they connect us with the matter of sin, the old habits. The matter of sin clings to the old man and part of purgation means looking again at those things which clog the soul. One may see the mini-series last year on the matter of sin, but one thing to do is to ask one's guardian angel for help. Just as the saints, as our brothers and sisters in heaven can aid us by interceding to Christ for us, so, our angels can help.

Our guardian angels can help us with the Matter of Sin. Because sin affects our intellects and imaginations, we can ask our guardian angels to enlighten us.

Here is what St. Thomas says. See here.

Natural reason, which is immediately from God, can be strengthened by an angel so that he may obtain from creatures a more perfect knowledge of God.

Intellectual operation and enlightenment can be understood in two ways.
First, on the part of the object understood; thus whoever understands or is enlightened, knows that he understands or is enlightened, because he knows that the object is made known to him.

Secondly, on the part of the principle; and thus it does not follow that whoever understands a truth, knows what the intellect is, which is the principle of the intellectual operation. In like manner not everyone who is enlightened by an angel, knows that he is enlightened by him.

If we ask our angels to help illuminate our minds, they will do so.

Here is St. Thomas again on this subject:

The demon cannot put thoughts in our minds by causing them from within, since the act of the cogitative faculty is subject to the will; nevertheless the devil is called the kindler of thoughts, inasmuch as he incites to thought, by the desire of the things thought of, by way of persuasion, or by rousing the passions. Damascene calls this because such a work is accomplished within. But good thoughts are attributed to a higher principle, namely, God, though they may be procured by the ministry of the kindling "a putting in" angels.

The will is moved only by God, but angels aid us in our intellect, our imagination and our senses.

Again, Thomas, and this is a long section on the influence of the imagination by both demons and the good angels:

Both a good and a bad angel by their own natural power can move the human imagination. This may be explained as follows. For it was said above (Question 110, Article 3), that corporeal nature obeys the angel as regards local movement, so that whatever can be caused by the local movement of bodies is subject to the natural power of the angels. Now it is manifest that imaginative apparitions are sometimes caused in us by the local movement of animal spirits and humors. Hence Aristotle says (De Somn. et Vigil.) [De Insomniis iii.], when assigning the cause of visions in dreams, that "when an animal sleeps, the blood descends in abundance to the sensitive principle, and movements descend with it," that is, the impressions left from the movements are preserved in the animal spirits, "and move the sensitive principle"; so that a certain appearance ensues, as if the sensitive principle were being then changed by the external objects themselves. Indeed, the commotion of the spirits and humors may be so great that such appearances may even occur to those who are awake, as is seen in mad people, and the like. So, as this happens by a natural disturbance of the humors, and sometimes also by the will of man who voluntarily imagines what he previously experienced, so also the same may be done by the power of a good or a bad angel, sometimes with alienation from the bodily senses, sometimes without such alienation.

Reply to Objection 1. The first principle of the imagination is from the sense in act. For we cannot imagine what we have never perceived by the senses, either wholly or partly; as a man born blind cannot imagine color. Sometimes, however, the imagination is informed in such a way that the act of the imaginative movement arises from the impressions preserved within.

Reply to Objection 2. An angel changes the imagination, not indeed by the impression of an imaginative form in no way previously received from the senses (for he cannot make a man born blind imagine color), but by local movement of the spirits and humors, as above explained.

Reply to Objection 3. The commingling of the angelic spirit with the human imagination is not a mingling of essences, but by reason of an effect which he produces in the imagination in the way above stated; so that he shows man what he [the angel] knows, but not in the way he knows.

Reply to Objection 4. An angel causing an imaginative vision, sometimes enlightens the intellect at the same time, so that it knows what these images signify; and then there is not deception. But sometimes by the angelic operation the similitudes of things only appear in the imagination; but neither then is deception caused by the angel, but by the defect in the intellect to whom such things appear. Thus neither was Christ a cause of deception when He spoke many things to the people inparables, which He did not explain to them.

Each one of us must cooperate with the guardian angels and not ignore each one's own duty to create a disciplined mind. One can see how important it is for one to control one's eyes, ears, indeed all the senses, and discipline the imagination.

Our sins are forgiven in the sacrament of confession, but we have "hang-overs" from sin. If any of you saw the 2010 Narnia movie which was based on the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, you will remember the scenes when Edmund is tempted by the dead queen, the White Witch, or Jadis to sin again. This weakness of the imagination is part of the Matter of Sin. (By the way, have there been other Narnia movies since this one?)

Now, Edmund's sin of betrayal was forgiven long ago by Aslan. But, because Edmund sinned, he has a memory of sin and a memory of temptation. The Matter of Sin is that weakness which comes into the mind, the heart and the imagination, as well as the will of one who sins.

The Matter of Sin is not present in a person who has not sinned, such as Mary, Our Mother, and St. John the Baptist. However, those who sin must be purified even of the Matter of Sin, the detritus of sin.

This purification happens in the Dark Night of the Spirit, when God takes over the mind, imagination, heart and will, having already dealt with the senses.The Matter of Sin is like Frodo's wound from Weathertop-a reminder of mortality and concupiscence given into.

Those great saints who allowed God to purify them while on earth and wrote about this process, such as SS. John of the Cross, Augustine, Teresa of Avila and others, have shared with us how to have purgatory on earth.
St. Therese, the Little Flower, also wrote about this process, which is the entire theme of my purification series.

Let God heal you and free you from the Matter of Sin, which can only happen after one truly repents and turn against sin. Like the layers of scales of Eustace the Dragon, we must be purged of selfishness.

Yesterday, I felt like St. Peter and walking away from the pain of mortification. Then, I remembered that the first pope turned against his temptation and returned to Rome and death.

Peter was not acting in a holy manner when he was running from Rome and death. He was avoiding his martyrdom, which takes the place of the passive purification. Martyrdom is a shortcut to purification, through intense pain, suffering and obedience to God's Will.

If one cooperates, the process of passive purification, the way most of us must take, states the experts, goes much more quickly, than if one fights suffering. This is why the nuns embrace the penances and poverty of their state. They are on the fast road to union with God.

Here is a helpful paragraph from Garrigou-Lagrange. I have read de Caussade several times and do highly recommend him. Also, of course, like many of you, I have read St. John of the Cross. I have read bits of the book by St. Francis de Sales and more lately, which is mentioned. I have not read Boudon.

There is, first of all, a general rule. These afflicted souls should be treated with kindness and helped that they may be led to full conformity to the divine will. The first rule of direction is that these souls should accept this trial generously for as long a time as, according to the good pleasure of God, it may last, and they should live in abandonment to the divine will. Moreover, as a general rule, the more generously they accept this purification, the quicker it will end, since the effect for which God wills it, will be more promptly accomplished. If it is more intense, it will generally be shorter (like the purification of purgatory) unless the soul is to suffer specially for sinners, over and above its personal purification.
Excellent books have been written on abandonment to Providence in this period of the spiritual life. Besides The Dark Night (Bk. II) of St. John of the Cross, there is the Treatise on The Love of God (Bk. IX) of St. Francis de Sales on the love of submission and of holy indifference in spiritual afflictions.(1) In the seventeenth century, Father A. Piny, O.P., wrote Le plus parfait, or the way of abandonment to the will of God, and also L'Etat du pur amour. In the same period we find Les saintes voies de la croix by the Venerable Henry Mary Boudon; in the eighteenth century, Abandonment to Divine Providence by Father de Caussade, S.J.; and recently (1919), Le saint abandon by Dom Vitalis Lehodey, O.C.R.

I have warned people about quietism two years in a blog or two, and here is a reminder from Garrigou-Lagrange.

In this question of abandonment, two dangers must be avoided: quietism and the opposing error. Quietism or semi-quietism denies the necessity of our cooperation and goes so far as to demand in these trials the sacrifice of our hope or desire of salvation.(2) On the contrary, we must in this case, as St. Paul says: "Against hope believe in hope." (3)

A delicate balance is needed between action and inaction. I believe the Holy Spirit can directly help here, and, of course, one must do what is needed in one's daily responsibilities.

The contrary error would consist in exaggerating the necessity of our cooperation while diminishing that of prayer and disregarding the efficacy of our petitions and the conduct of Providence which directs all. It would amount to a sort of practical naturalism. Tried souls should, on the contrary, pray particularly, ask the help of God to persevere in faith, trust, and love. They must be told that, if they continue to pray in this severe trial, it is a sign that, in spite of appearances, their prayer is granted; for no one can continue to pray without a new actual grace. And God who, from all eternity, has foreseen and willed our prayers, excites them in us.

Perseverance is a grace. One lives by Faith, which is hoping and trusting in God for that which is not seen.

To this general rule of the generous acceptance of the trial in conformity with the divine will, must be added three special rules relating to the three theological virtues, by which especially one must live during the night of the spirit.Here more particularly is verified the expression: "The just man liveth by faith." (4) The night of the spirit is that of faith whose object is obscure mysteries which appear so much the more obscure in proportion as they are higher above the senses. St. Thomas often says: "Fides est de non visis," the object of faith is things not seen. One does not believe on testimony what one sees.

I cannot emphasize this boldface section enough. Only by Faith and not anxiety or pushing or impatience, does the passive purification lead to light and finally, union with God. Teresa urges us to persistence. Peter showed us not to walk away. Keep going, even if the going seems like baby steps.

“Long live the difference”

from the Stanbrook Edition of Interior Castle....

.... dealing with the purgation of the soul by mortification and the enlightenment of the mind by meditation. There, too, appears the first idea of the Mansions, [25] and Fuente remarks that the passage in question may be taken for the parting of the ways between the two works. However, this is not the only, nor, indeed, the chief reason why St. Teresa is so reticent about the preliminary stage of the contemplative life. The fact is that she herself did not pass through these experiences. By God's grace she was preserved from childhood from grievous sin and gross imperfection. Though she never grows tired of bewailing her faults and unfaithfulness, these avowals must be taken cum grano salis. While yet a child, she sometimes gave way to vanity in dress and wasted her time in reading romances. As a young religious, she was sought after by friends and relatives who took pleasure in her attractive conversation. This proved further loss of time and caused distractions. Owing to acute suffering, she for some years left off the practice of mental prayer, though she faithfully performed all her religious obligations, as far as her weak state of health allowed. This is all. The war of the flesh against the spirit, the insubordination of the lower parts of nature, the fickleness of the will, which so often thwart the most noble aspirations of a soul, were unknown to her. Under these circumstances, we cannot be surprised to find her entering upon the journey towards God at a point which in many cases marks but the closing stage.

St. Teresa was a strong woman, protected from serious sin by her loving family and her good Catholic upbringing. Yet, her love of God was obvious from little on.

Her strength of will, like that of so many female saints, did not mean that she was not feminine. Her writings reveal a very feminine woman.

Wondering how far androgyny and ssm  can destroy "Vive la diffĂ©rence", I have been pondering the beautiful femininity and masculinity of the saints. Now, some confusion exists on the mystical experiences of those men who experienced Christ as Lover, and many nasty commentators and authors on line and in horrible, sacriligous books. To accept Christ as Love is not to be either gay or perverted. Some men are afraid of a close relationship with God because they do not understand pure love.

Purgation of the senses and spirit allow one to love God properly, but the theme of this post is not the misconceptions of the Love of God, but on the real female and male traits of the great saints.

We take for granted that some saints seem masculine, for example, like the soldier-saints, Martin, Demetrious, George, Victor, the saints of the Theban Legion and so on. Many examples or military saints dot the calendar . We have emperor saints and king saints, father saints, and great founders of orders, such as Dominic and Ignatius, who could never be seen as wimps.

On the feminine side, we have such saints as Etheldreda, abbess over a dual-monastery, Catherine of Sienna, Zita the little cook, Lucy, Agnes and the young martyrs as examples of womanhood and holiness. To be feminine is not to be weak.

The lists of saints who show us how to be men and women in Christ seems endless. But, in our sad world of gender confusion, these examples have been lost except for a few home schooling families, who daily teach their children the lives of the saints, following either or both the NO and EF calendars.

Byzantine saints also reveal masculine and feminine traits given to us by God in nature and raised to the supernatural level by God's grace. One readily thinks of St. Nicholas, a real man, bishop, leader of his people in hard times and one of the Byzantines, as well as the Roman Catholics most popular saints.

SS. Marcina and Gregory of Nysssa compliment each other as sister and brother in blood as well as in Christ.

Irene and Olga, strong women and empresses, remind us that one can be, like Etheldreda, both strong and holy.

Modern women saints, such as St. Benedicta of the Cross, and St. Kateri Tekakwitha, a gentle saint who is a great sigh of hope for us today, as she faced so much persecution alone, 

Let us pray to Kateri using the words of the Pope Emeritus: 

“St. Kateri, protectress of Canada and the first American Indian saint, we entrust you to the renewal of the faith in the first nations and in all of North America.”

I hope future generations keep remembering that God created us male and female, both genders to be made whole and holy through His graces. And, hey, read this on one big reason for the weakening of men in today's world, and one cannot blame women, like Adam blamed Eve, for these sins. But, sex education should not happen in any school, but at home, by parents.