It is a Good Thing to Ask for Tears of Compunction

Objective truth series – Reflection #19

  “With fear and trembling work out your salvation.” (Phil. 2; 12).

In our last reflection, we addressed what it means to have an eternal perspective of life, namely, to live for our last end.  We must work out our salvation every day, and at no waking moment can we stop laboring at this crucial task. 

But what in particular do we think about when considering the salvation of our soul?  It would seem that if we really penetrated the reality that we can lose our souls, we would tremble and quake.   This reality is what St. Paul is admonishing us about in his Epistle to the Philippians.  We simply cannot take our salvation for granted.

We speak of fear and trembling.  One can speak of two kinds of fear—servile fear and filial fear.  Servile fear is the fear of being punished for an evil we’ve done, i.e., as a slave’s fear of his master.  Filial fear is the fear a son has towards his father because the son does not want to displease his father. Filial fear is based on love.

As Catholics we are taught from our childhood to fear hell as a place of punishment and torment.  However, God expects us to have filial fear of Him and that we will want to please Him always.

We know that we owe God everything, and that we owe Him gratitude for everything He has done for us.  We further know that we do not fear God’s Justice enough and we do not love God as we ought.  For example, St. John Chrysostom when referring to the sins of rash judgment, anger, and detraction as being such general vices among men, says, “What hopes of salvation remain for the generality of mankind, who commit without reflection, some or other of these crimes, one of which is enough to damn a soul?”[1]

This quote gives one pause and invokes fear.  What hope do we have of salvation when we are so guilty of so many crimes against Our Dear Lord?  Naturally, compunction should seize our hearts.  Compungere, which means the sting of conscience, should be what we want in order to weep for our sins.  We should consider these words of Our Lord, “Many sins are forgiven her, because she has loved much,” which refer to St. Mary Magdalene who was washing His feet with her tears [St. Luke 7; 47].  This quote, coupled with St. Peter’s words, “Charity covereth a multitude of sins,” [1st St. Peter 4:8] should make us want to weep for our sins in order to console Our Lord and Our Lady for the many sins and insults we have committed against them.

Especially in these times of the great apostasy and chastisement, we should want to pray and weep for the offenses that are continually being hurled against Our Lord and Our Lady.  We know that we deserve the punishments of a chastisement for our sins.  Our Lord and Our Lady have told us of the necessity of penance.   Our Lady of Fatima insisted on us praying the Rosary and performing sacrifices for the conversion of sinners and for peace to be obtained through the Consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart.   

Our Lady’s remedy is not unlike what St. John Chrysostom recommended during his times. As Alban Butler summarizes St. John Chrysostom’s books On Compunction, he notes how St. John prescribes a life of mortification and penance as an essential condition for maintaining a spirit of compunction.  Butler refers to St. John Chrysostom’s analogy that water and fire are not more contrary to each other than a life of softness and delights is opposed to compunction.  In the same vein, Butler relates how Chrysostom states that a love of pleasure renders the soul heavy and altogether earthly; but compunction gives the soul wings, by which she raises herself above all created things.  St. John Chrysostom mentions, too, how Our Lord blesses those who mourn for their sins.

With all of the above in mind, let us not forget to turn to Mary, our Mother of Sorrows, and ask her to teach us about the malice of sin and how much pain we have caused her Divine Son.  She, better than all mankind put together, understands the massive weight of sin that her Beloved Son bore.  Her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart was pierced with a sword of sorrow.  She was a first-hand witness of the sufferings of Our Lord.  This is why tradition teaches that she is the Co-Redemptrix and the Queen of Martyrs because she stood at the Foot of the Cross offering herself in union with her Divine Son.

So, begging Our Lord through Our Lady for the gift of tears of compunction, we pray that our hearts can melt.  If we ponder the Passion of Our Lord, the innocence of Our Lady, and how we have both afflicted Our Lord and Our Lady, perhaps our cheeks would be moistened as we say the following:

Oh, if only we could full keep,

The love of Our Lord and Lady deep,

In our minds, each day and night,

How would we bear the sight?

 

Of so much grief, for this blest pair,

For their sorrow, beyond compare,

Attend and see if there like be,

Sorrow that pierced the heart of she,

 

Who was chosen to watch her Son,

And stay with her, beloved One,

While journeyed He, each step with pain,

The ground covered, with precious Stain

 

If tears could well up, as we see,

Each awful wound endured by Thee,

But could our hearts melt like wax,

Tears of Thee, Lord, would we dare ask?

 

Yeah, Lord Thy heart did yield wax-like,

 Poured out like water, without dike,

The nails dug deep, Thy wrist and feet,

With growing love, could our hearts beat?

 

If tears could flow in rivers too,

But woe to us they are so few,

Beg we do now, for an increase

And weeping let us, never cease.

 

Our sins have caused Thee, pain so great,

We cannot full appreciate,

 What our malice has done to Thee,

And the price of, iniquity.

 

And with fear then, do let us quake,

Seeing what Thou, bore for our sake,

 Not displease Thee, in any way,

Working to save, our souls each day. 

 

Mary, our Mother of sorrow,

 Assist us with each new morrow

Without thee, we cannot endure,

And our love cannot, be pure.

 

Mary, us, with compunction fill,

With melted hearts our tears can spill,

 Such a gift, we do not deserve,

From the right path, let us not swerve!



[1]           Of course, our catechism teaches us that the three conditions for mortal sin are: 1) it must be a serious matter or considered to be a serious matter; 2) sufficient reflection; and 3) full consent of the will.  See, e.g., Baltimore Catechism #3, Q.282.  St. John Chrysostom here alludes to sinners becoming callous to their grievous vices.

Words to Live by – from Catholic Tradition

 

The Voice of Christ:

 

What more do I ask than that you give yourself entirely to Me?  I care not for anything else you may give me, for I seek not your gift but you.  Just as it would not be enough for you to have everything if you did not have Me, so whatever you give cannot please Me if you do not give yourself.

 

The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis, Book IV, ch. 8 (emphasis added).

If You Can Say the Our Father without Distraction, I Will Give You My Horse

“Our Father Who art in heaven hallowed be Thy name … The saddle and the bridle also?”

I’m certain that most of you have heard that story told of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and his offer to a man who boasted he was never distracted in prayer.  The story relates how that man was distracted during his prayer by the scope of St. Bernard’s offer. 

I remind you about this to point out that distraction in prayer is the work of Satan, and a big problem for all of us.  How can we correct the problem and give greater significance and meaning to our prayers?  After praying on the problem, I had an idea that could help.

Now if distraction during prayer is not a problem for you, you are one in a million and you can stop reading now.  But if you do have a problem, read on.  I believe praying with energy and “hand action” demonstrates where your heart and thoughts are.  Much the same as when we make the Sign of the Cross.  Our hands go from head to heart to shoulders, demonstrating our thoughts and devotion to the Crucifixion of Our Lord.  Why not use the same energy and attention-provoking action when praying … say, the Rosary?

At Fatima Our Lady stated there will come a time when you will have only the Rosary and her Immaculate Heart.  She could be referring to now as we suffer through the great crisis in the Church.

The action I am suggesting should be “hidden”.  You wouldn’t want to distract others praying with you.  If you can, schedule your prayer at a time when no outside noise and activity will distract you.

Let’s start with the Rosary.  Pray all prayers except the Hail Marys with your hands open, facing up, about one foot apart, forming a “holy channel” to heaven, much as the priest does saying some parts of the Mass.  The Rosary is in one hand, keeping track of your progress.  At the Hail Marys, your hands are back to the usual position, but at the words "Fruit of thy womb, Jesus" you bow your head and your free hand touches your chest when you say “Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death,” demonstrating you are a sinner and that the Blessed Mother’s prayers now and at the hour of our death are most necessary.

Praying with this thought-provoking extra effort and energy, and with your attention for sure on the significance of each Mystery, should reduce your thoughts drifting to the distracting events in your life.   

Keep in mind that you are talking to your Creator, and that distraction calls for an additional effort to keep your mind focused.  While visiting Fatima and a friend who moved there with his family, I recall him saying, “when the Blessed Mother asked us to pray the Rosary, she meant all 15 Mysteries each time”, or so he believed.

When you pray the rosary and other prayers, I recommend that you try this method to help you pray more earnestly and with more recollection.  You will see your efforts have borne fruit when your prayers are a more intimate conversation with Our Lord and His Mother.

Words to Live by – from Catholic Tradition

 

Here is how St. Thomas Aquinas, greatest Doctor of the Catholic Church, depicts the fight between good and evil at the end of the world, quoting the Father of the Church, Theophylactus:

 

In the persecution by the Anti-Christ, let no one seek to protect his own life, for he will lose it.  But he who exposes himself to danger and death will save his soul, never submitting himself to the tyrant, out of love for his life.

 

Catena Aurea on St. Luke’s Gospel, Ch.17, §9.

 

Let us face the tyranny of our times with this same firm resolution!

CC in brief — January 2021

Catholic Candle note: Catholic Candle normally examines particular issues thoroughly, at length, using the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and the other Doctors of the Church.  By contrast, our feature CC in brief, gives an extremely short answer to a reader’s question.  We invite readers to submit their own questions.

 

 

CC in brief

 

Q.  Why does the SSPX now lean liberal with its followers?

 

A.  If traditional Catholic individuals or groups don’t fight against liberalism every day, gradualism will take over and they will become liberal over time.  The “new” SSPX no longer fights against liberalism daily as Archbishop Lefebvre did.  They might merely mention the problem of liberalism, but they do not fight against it. 

 

 

Catholic Candle note: Here are some articles cataloging some of the liberalism of the “new” SSPX:

 

  https://catholiccandle.org/category/resources-for-priests/society-of-st-pius-x/

 

  https://catholiccandle.neocities.org/#gsc.tab=0  (from this page on our old website, click on the folder labeled “Society of St. Pius X”).

 

Having an Eternal Perspective

Objective truth series — Reflection #18

Here is a brief recap of the last four reflections:

·         Reflection 14 – The pursuit of truth and the love of truth as the basis for standing up for the truth, in order to fight false human respect.

 

·         Reflection 15 – The precious blessing it is to possess the faith in these times of apostasy when so few have the faith, and having the use of reason is also something to be extremely grateful for.

 

·         Reflection 16 – Finding delight in God bringing us a higher view of truths.

 

·         Reflection 17 – God uses us, poor instruments that we are, to pass on the truth by standing up for the truth, and to teach the truth to others.

All of the reflections in this Objective Truth Series, especially the last four reflections, can be boiled down to what was quoted in Reflection 15, namely, the Principal and Foundation from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God, Our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.  All other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him fulfill the end for which he is created.  From this it follows that man is to use these things to the extent that they will help him to attain his end.  Likewise, he must rid himself of them in so far as they prevent him from attaining it [viz., his end].  

As was said in the very first reflection, St. Thomas Aquinas says – First, God chooses a soul, then He loves that soul, and then He makes the soul worthy of His Love by giving grace to the soul.  Thus, the saints are truly called the Elect of God and the life’s journey of the saint’s soul is God’s work.  The Principal and Foundation quoted above, is the Blessed Mother’s instruction, giving souls what can be called the cornerstone of the way of salvation.  In this manner the soul learns from the Principal and Foundation to have an eternal perspective of life. 

What do we mean by an eternal perspective?  This means that one takes the Principal and Foundation into consideration when making all his decisions. For example, he would ask himself, “Will this use of a creature, this activity etc. be something that will help me save my soul or not?”  Of course, not all the saints in heaven went on an Ignatian retreat; nevertheless, they made their decisions always with the salvation of their immortal soul in mind.  Hence, they had this eternal perspective in which they made their salvation the most important work of their lives.  They certainly worked out their salvation “with fear and trembling,” as St. Paul admonished the Philippians to do.

For instance, St. Teresa of Avila told her nuns, “We have only one soul and one eternity.” Although she is an example of a saint who did have the influence of the good Jesuits, and her little saying shows that she made her decisions with her eternal salvation in mind, her perspective is not unlike all the other saints in heaven.

Of course, we know from our Catechism that we are supposed “to know, love, and serve God to be happy with Him in heaven.”  However, we do not just automatically act upon this truth from the age of reason. 

This is where God’s school of sanctity must be considered.  What does He do to the soul?  He spends years drawing souls to Himself and helping them sort out/discover that life is a journey, an exile, and that the soul’s true goal is heaven.  Yes, one can study these things in Catechism, but unfortunately these truths do not really sink in, until the Lord causes these truths to penetrate deeply into one’s soul.  The soul seems to discover for the first time that the intimate friendship with the Divine Spouse Jesus Christ is the only true goal of life.

This is a time of true conversion of heart, when Our Lord gives the soul an eternal perspective.  When the soul has finally latched onto the eternal perspective, the soul is much more focused on working for God.   In this conversion the soul now finally understands that nothing else is important but the salvation of the soul.  The world’s “fog” now seems to lift and the soul now sees the real purpose for existence in the most serious light in which it should be taken.

But God does not stop there, for now the serious part, so to speak, of the soul’s journey, has begun.   God patiently works on the soul and the soul continues to sort the distractions of this life from the supernatural realities for which man was created.  With a clearer perspective, the soul now understands better how God intends that man wears himself out in the service of God.  The soul, too, learns more and more how crucial it is to be detached from things of the world.  This process of learning to care more and more about God continues and God draws the soul closer to Him.  All of God’s adopted children are supposed to become spiritually married to Christ, the Bridegroom of the soul.  Therefore, it is perfectly normal in the spiritual life that the soul would become less attached to the world and more intimately attached to God.

Once a soul has an eternal perspective, the soul looks at everything in a whole different way.   The soul can see that the things of this world are so empty and shallow.  The cares of the world are dealt with in a more objective way.  Yes, one certainly has to deal with the concerns of his duty of state; however, these concerns are handled with one’s eternal salvation always in mind.  The soul does not want to displease God in any way—seeing that we are either on the side of Christ or on the side of Satan.  As Christ said, “He that is not with Me, is against Me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.” St. Matt. 12:30.  And further, “But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the Day of Judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” St. Matt. 12:36-37.

With just these words of Our Lord in mind, it is easy to see that Our Lord wants us to have an eternal perspective.  Clearly, we have to discern carefully what is involved in our decisions and consider well how we must do all things to please God. Our thoughts, words, and deeds must be weighed on the scale of eternity!  Nothing in life is truly neutral and all things must work toward God and His Glory.  As Catholics we cannot become callous and think that our actions do not have eternal consequences.  Keeping an eternal perspective makes all choices simpler and therefore easier.

Another wonderful consequence of an eternal perspective is that placing all things in God’s Hands becomes more habitual.  How good God is to teach and train a soul to have an eternal perspective!  One stands only in awe at such Paternal care for our poor souls and perhaps something like the following would flow forth:

To praise, to revere, and to serve Him,
Oh, this sounds so scary and grim,
Our souls were created for this,
‘Tis the only view, that brings bliss.

Why an eternal perspective?
And must we be so selective?
The Lord wants us never forget,
That we belong to Him and yet,

He knows we’re so fragile and weak
And that worldly things we do seek
He ‘minds us to think of our end,
And not to make the world our friend.

‘Tis so easy to lose our course,
And to forget that, God’s our source,
Of life, of being, our one true goal,
The only way to save one’s soul.

For every choice one must make,
We must work only for His sake.
To act for Him, ne’er Him oppose,
If we want, eternal repose.

At times a choice, seems so small,
But made badly, could costs it all,
Best to weigh things, on this wise scale,
Than forever the choice bewail,

We pray Mary, our special guide,
That with her Son, we may abide,
And live not like fools, for this world,
And not into hell’s depths be hurled.

Having perspective eternal,
Keeps the soul, from the infernal,
Wonderful outlook, for one’s life,
The soul becomes the Bridegroom’s wife.

For such an outlook, we must pray,
To stick to our goal on life’s way,
And when this view does sink in deep,
With tears of thanks we shall e’re weep.

Words to Live by – from Catholic Tradition

Let us Trust in God and not yield to Anxiety

The Disciple:

Lord, I willingly commit all things to You, for my anxiety can profit me little.  But I would that I were not so concerned about the future, and instead offered myself without hesitation to Your good pleasure.

The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis, Book III, Chapter 39.

CC in brief — December 2020

Catholic Candle note: Catholic Candle normally examines particular issues thoroughly, at length, using the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and the other Doctors of the Church.  By contrast, our feature CC in brief, gives an extremely short answer to a reader’s question.  We invite readers to submit their own questions.

CC in brief

Q:        A Catholic friend (who considers herself conservative) told me that “we should not do penance during Advent because it is a time for rejoicing”.  Is she correct? 

A:        There is a grain of truth in what your friend says, but she is “more wrong than right”.  Advent is a time of anticipation (and preparation) for the joyful time of Christmas.  We see this in the Church’s hymns: Advent is the time of Oh Come, oh Come Emmanuel, not the time of Joy to the World.

So, there is an element of spiritual longing and a spiritual joy prominent on Gaudete Sunday.  However, Advent is a time of penance to prepare for the coming of Our Infant King.  Purple, the color of penance, is the liturgical color.   In Her liturgy, the Church emphasizes St. John the Baptist, with his calls for penance and preparing our hearts.

Like the secular world, the conciliar church seeks feasting with no fasting.  All of us, Traditional Catholics included, do much less penance than we should.  So, although Lent is a more penitential time than Advent, we should generously embrace Advent’s penitential spirit.

Lastly, we note that it is unfitting to have our Christmas parties during Advent instead of Christmastide, or to put our Christmas decorations up well before the Christ Child comes.

 

It is Amazing How God Uses Us as His Instruments

Objective truth series – Reflection #17

In our last reflection we discussed how delightful it is to see the simplification of the truth when one sees profound connections and acquires a more objective view.  This delightful experience of the soul fills us with wonder at God’s Goodness.  This is God’s marvelous way of working in a soul. “The ways of God are unsearchable”.  Ecclesiastes, 8:1.

Likewise, God in His Goodness often lets us get a view of ourselves in hindsight.  This hindsight view includes things in the spiritual life that He has been teaching us, and habits we have formed which we didn’t notice before, and He has us come to notice.  Thus, He sometimes gives us a glimpse of what He has done in our souls.  We then see how God has a wonderful way of working quietly behind the scenes.  We see His Patience with us and we find ourselves then counting our blessings anew and appreciating God’s mercy to us all the more.

Another amazing thing God does is to use us poor creatures as His instruments in helping other souls.  For example, sometimes, when we are trying to help someone come to understand a Catholic teaching, we find ourselves saying things that we didn’t plan to say.  If we reflect back on the conversation where we were planting the seeds of the Faith, we can sense truly that God was working in us.  Because we can see that we didn’t plan what we were going to say, we are amazed how just the right concepts, facts, and wording came to our minds and in the smooth way our words came out.  We can then say that truly the Holy Ghost inspired it all.  This makes it is easier to be detached from any credit that one could be tempted to take for the work.  We ponder at God’s Goodness again and praise Him for what He is doing through us unworthy creatures.

St. Thomas Aquinas explains that it is a mark of a higher being to work through lower beings.  Some examples of this are God using His angels to control the forces of nature and using the guardian angels to protect us.   Likewise, He uses us to spread the truth and plant seeds in souls.   He strictly doesn’t need us, yet God gives us the dignity to be His instruments though we are so unworthy.

However, Our Lord does not want us to be worried about what we will say when we are confronted by the unreasonable people in the world.   Our Lord has assured us, “And when they shall bring you into the synagogues, and to magistrates and powers, be not solicitous how or what you shall answer, or what you shall say.   For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what you must say.”  St. Luke 12:11-12.  And, again, Our Lord says, “But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.”  St. John 14:26.

So, with astonishment we find that we can help souls in these apostate times of confusion.  We are called to be apostles of Christ.  Indeed, the spiritual works of mercy—to instruct the ignorant, council the doubtful, and even admonish the sinner are crucial in our days.  In these times of so much hatred against Jesus Christ, His Church, and Catholic Morality, we can truly be soldiers of Christ defending Catholic Faith and Morality.  How great God is to let us be His helpers especially when uncompromising priests cannot be found in most places!  He will supply the help we need to accomplish what He wills for sous.

So, with all our hearts for love of God and our neighbor for His sake, let us try with all our might to sow the seeds of our Holy Catholic Faith in our neighbor.  We cannot thank God enough for the precious pearl of the Faith, yet working for Him is one way to show Him gratitude for all He has done, is doing, and will do for us.

And we will most likely find more gratitude growing in our hearts when we realize that, though we are most unworthy, God is using us to pass on the truth.  We could find ourselves saying with heartfelt words something like the following:

I, unworthy, how can it be?
The Holy Faith, to others spread?
 Be I, a tool, for God’s Glory?
 How through me, can poor sheep be fed?

Gardening the soil of souls?
Or be a fisher of men?
To instruct of eternal goals?
Things beyond, the modern mind’s ken?

In these times, where all’s up-side-down,
 Each day a new battle to fight,
And lies are spreading all aroun’,
People confused, on left and right.

God’s wants to use us, as His tools,
To teach, by examples, and words,
Even though, most may, think us fools,
‘Cause we are not part, of their herds.

 Of those poor folks, trained not to think,
But simply go on the “easy" path
Causing their hearts, to further sink,
Deserving more of, Divine Wrath.

Just as a sign, of higher one,
Through lower beings, does his works,
So it is the Lord, gets jobs done,
With us, insignificant clerks.

Grateful are we, instruments poor,
That He blesses, the deeds we do.
He provides the souls, at our door,
Though He need not, by us work through.

Amazing movement, doth He then,
That He helps souls, through words of ours,
Like lush spring rain, in the soul’s glen,
He draws forth, precious soul-flowers.

Only God with, power Supreme,
Could bring such worth, from us poor men,
As flowing forth, from wisdom’s stream,
Yet from a, lowly creature’s pen.

We thank the Goodness, of Our Guide,
Who sets us, sowers in His field,
E’er inspiring us, at our side,
Yet, He, brings forth, the fruitful yield.

Words to Live by – from Catholic Tradition

If we tried to stand as brave men in battle, the help of the Lord from heaven would surely sustain us.  For He Who gives us the opportunity of fighting for victory, is ready to help those who carry on and trust in His grace.

The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis, Book I, Ch. 2.

CC in brief — November 2020

Catholic Candle note: Catholic Candle normally examines particular issues thoroughly, at length, using the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and the other Doctors of the Church.  By contrast, our feature CC in brief, gives an extremely short answer to a reader’s question.  We invite readers to submit their own questions.

CC in brief

Q.  There are various groups, e.g., PETA (which stands for “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals”) that seem to condemn as wrong the killing of animals.  Can we sin by being cruel to animals?

A.  We can only sin against a person, not directly against property.  Animals (i.e., brute beasts) are property, usually belonging to a particular person.  We can no more sin against an animal than we could sin against other kinds of property, viz., a plant or a non-living body.  However, if we mistreat any kind of property this can be a sin against its owner.  For example, if we cut down the tree in our neighbor’s yard, this can be a sin against him. 

Further, any harm we do to any kind of property can be a sin against God, the Creator, in two ways:

1.    It can be a sin of wasting the good gifts of God, if we unreasonably destroy them. 

2.    If we needlessly cause an animal (even a pest) to suffer, not for the purpose of killing it, but purely for the sake of causing that animal to suffer, e.g., to torture a housefly simply because we want it to suffer, that is a sin of showing contempt for their Creator and is a sin against God.

God Simplifies the Truth and We Can Delight in It

God Simplifies the Truth and

We Can Delight in It

 

Objective truth series reflection #16

In our most recent reflections, we have considered how we use our reason to come to conclusions and acquire knowledge of the truth.   God fills us with the hunger and thirst for more truth.  Furthermore, He gives us satisfaction when we use our reason.  This satisfaction makes it easier to fulfill our moral obligation to use our reason.

Yet the term satisfaction does not seem to go far enough in describing a further benefit that God bestows on us.  This benefit is, namely, that He simplifies the truth and then we can take delight in seeing the truth simplified.

Our use of reason is a remarkable thing.  As was explained in Reflection #14, we gather information and have a sort of mental discussion about the facts.  We then draw conclusions and acquire knowledge of the truth.  Over time, as we ponder truths, these truths sink more deeply into us.  They get absorbed slowly like successive drops of water into a sponge.  In this way, the truths become more and more a part of us and are like second nature.  Hence, we acquire a greater love of these truths which have become part of us.

Also, gradually, as we draw more and more conclusions, we can see connections and relationships between things which we never realized were connected before.  We come to see a bigger picture.  Hence, we acquire a more objective view.

In this way, we become more like God and the angels because they see things all at once.  Yet, for us, because we come to know things by reasoning in steps, when we get a more objective view, we have a pleasing enjoyment in our newfound knowledge.

To illustrate this, let us consider what it is like to be in a hot air balloon.  When the balloon is still on the ground before it lifts, everything around us looks large and complex.  As the balloon lifts and pulls away from the earth, the objects from this vertical position appear to be sinking lower and lower. They also look like they are shrinking and getting stunted. From our angle peering over the side of the balloon basket, everything becomes smaller and smaller and things takes on a fore-shortened appearance.

As the flight upwards continues, the objects and the landscapes below now look like a patchwork quilt.  They become less distinct and defined as they diminish in size, but the relationships between things becomes clearer.  Hence, our view becomes simpler.  We have a sense of amazement and delight in seeing how many things are brought together in a simple and orderly fashion.

As a consequence of this astounding simplification, the soul sees the wonder of God’s Providence in creating man to be the type of creature able to use reason and come to know things objectively.  The more objective a man’s view is, the more he appreciates the omniscience and omnipotence of God.  Hence, the result is delight, as well as an increase in the love of God.  Even though words cannot express our delight fully, our hearts still ache to capture it in words – such as the following:

Use of reason for man is this,

His highest, most powerful tool,

By use of it brings man much bliss,

Without it, he becomes a fool.

So, when facts are pondered, one finds,
They draw one, to a proper end,
Bringing him to truths, of all kinds,
Showing reason—a precious friend!

O’er time with practice of using,
The intellect e’er, more and more,
Connections ‘tween things start fusing,
Making things simpler than afore.

Just as an air-balloon lifting,
May make things around look askew,
The mind as it were things sifting,
Brings on a more objective view.

The soul has this, to now enjoy,
Of seeing things, in a new way,
And thankful is man, to employ,
His reasoning, from day to day.

How great God is, to give us such,
A wonderful gift, of our soul,
Which should remind us, oh so much,
That heaven is our, one true goal.

This would make us, ever exclaim,
Keep lifting me, O Lord I pray,
I do aspire to, have the aim,
To seek heaven, every day.

Though unworthy, I know I be
To ask now, such a bold request,
I want to dwell, e’er with Thee,
To become, Thy eternal guest.

Oh, grant Lord, my lowly prayer,
And make me, more like Thee,
To see the truth, that looks so fair,
When with, objective view, I see.

Gratitude can, have no bound,
For such a grand gift, bestowed,
Of seeing links, which so astound,
And to Thee, all my love, is owed!

 

Words to Live by – from Catholic Tradition

The Holy Rosary, indicating our future salvation or damnation

St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort writes:

Here is what our Blessed Lady revealed to Blessed Alan de la Roche as recorded in his book, The Dignity of the Rosary: “Know, my son, and make it known to all, that lukewarmness or negligence in saying the Hail Mary, or a distaste for it, is a probable and proximate sign of eternal damnation, for by this prayer the whole world was restored.”  …

On the other hand, we know from experience that those who show positive signs of being among the elect, appreciate and love the Hail Mary and are always glad to say it. The closer they are to God, the more they love this prayer, as our Blessed Lady went on to tell Blessed Alan.

I do not know how this should be, but it is perfectly true; and I know no surer way of discovering whether a person belongs to God than by finding out if he loves the Hail Mary and the Rosary.

Quoted from True Devotion to Mary, by St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, ¶¶ 250-251.

 

CC in brief — October 2020

Catholic Candle note: Catholic Candle normally examines particular issues thoroughly, at length, using the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and the other Doctors of the Church.  By contrast, our feature CC in brief, gives an extremely short answer to a reader’s question.  We invite readers to submit their own questions.

Q:  In the Our Father, it says “lead us not into temptation”.  Why would God lead us into temptation?  (And if these words do not actually mean “lead us”, why does the Our Father say “lead us”?)

A: Sacred Scripture sometimes speaks of God doing what He permits to be done.  For example, in the Book of Exodus, God says He will harden Pharao’s heart, whereas God permitted Pharao to harden his own heart.  Exodus, 4:21.  In these words of the Our Father, we are asking God to not permit us to be conquered by temptation and so to commit sin.