Lesson #16 On Death

                    Mary’s School of Sanctity                   

Lesson #16  The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius — ON DEATH [In the state of grace vs. In the state of mortal sin]

In addition to the meditation on both the pains of the senses and the horrific pain of the loss of God, we now include a meditation on death.  This also was not included in St. Ignatius’s original Spiritual Exercises; however, it is so valuable for fostering man’s proper desire for God and to work for God’s glory and praise.  Furthermore, if we are to acquire the holy indifference[1] that St. Ignatius wants us to have and keep, we must meditate on death, not only within the framework of the Spiritual Exercises, but also on a regular basis. In other words, he who meditates often on death will be able to prepare for death and die well. 

This meditation will be set out in the style of St. Ignatius.

The preparatory prayer is the same as usual, I ask God Our Lord the grace that all my intentions, actions, and works may be directed purely to the service and praise of the Divine Majesty.

The FIRST PRELUDE is the mental representation of the place.  Here it will be to see with my imagination my death bed or the scene of my death.

The SECOND PRELUDE is to ask for the grace:

1) to understand the gravity of sin now while there is still time for me; 2) to truly see that my life here on the earth is a test in which I am merely an exile; 3) to see that I must be detached from this world in order to have an intense desire for God in heaven, and 4) to be convinced that by understanding these truths, I will be preparing to die well.

The FIRST POINT is to consider what death is in itself. First, I will consider the following attributes of death.

1) Death is certain—all humans have to die.

2) Death takes everything—our possessions, our time, our body.

3) Death is painful— [the separation of the soul from the body] an instantaneous change.  A person may linger and be ‘dying’ for a long period of time but the actual substantial change which occurs when the soul departs the body is one intensely painful moment.

4) Death’s circumstances are unknown. — No one knows the actual time and place in which he will die. God could reveal this to someone, but for most people He does not reveal these facts.

The SECOND POINT is to consider what will happen to me spiritually at my death, e.g., what spiritual battles will I encounter at my death?

I will also consider what my death would be like if I am in the state of grace.  I will contrast this with what my death would be like if I am in the state of mortal sin.

Furthermore, I will consider what the spiritual struggle and combat at death will involve for both of these states of soul.

The COLLOQUY: the possibilities for the colloquy are numerous. I will let the Holy Ghost guide me for my colloquy. I will draw on the considerations which struck my heart the most and address myself to Our Lord, Our Lady, St. Joseph or all three.  I will pour out my heart to them, now thanking them for their mercy, now petitioning for their help at my death so I can die well, etc.

Considerations for the FIRST POINT:

One can surely take many different aspects about death into consideration, but we will limit them to the following four attributes of death.

1) Death is certain—all humans have to die. 

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment.”  Hebrews, 9:27.

In the book of Genesis, it is revealed to us that man has to die. “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth, out which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.”  Genesis, 3:19.

Death came into the world as a consequence of Adam’s sin. Therefore, no one can escape the hand of death.  There is absolutely nothing we can do to avoid death. Tradition teaches that Our Lady died even though she was conceived without original sin.  Yet, death for her was a fitting imitation of her Divine Son.  Enoch walked with God and was seen no more [Gen.5:24].  Elias was taken up in a fiery chariot with fiery horses into heaven in front of the prophet Eliseus [4 Kings, ch. 2]. Yet we know from the book of the Apocalypse that these two prophets will be martyred by the Antichrist. Hence, they will have to die like everybody else.

2) Death takes everything—our possessions, our time, our body. “For we brought nothing into this world: and, certainly, we can carry nothing out.”  [1Timothy 6:7]  Our Lord reminds us of this fact in His parable about the rich man who had plenty and thought within himself, saying, “What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said: This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and will build greater; and into them will I gather all things that are grown to me, and my goods.  And I will say to my soul: thou hast much goods laid up for many years take thy rest; eat, drink, make good cheer.”

Our Lord continues, “But God said to him: Thou fool, this night do they require thy soul of thee: and whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?”  St. Luke’s Gospel, 12:16-20.

At death, we will have no more time.  No more time to praise, revere, and serve God.  The time for merit will be over and the time to increase in our love for God will be over.  Likewise, the time to offend God is over and we can do no more damage to our souls then.  All is ended.  All is final.  No one will go with us for we go alone. Our bodies must be left behind.

Simply stated, our souls will be summoned to the tribunal.  Our souls will be “naked” and we, along with our works, will undergo the scrutinizing inspection of God.  

3) Death is painful— [Death is the separation of the soul from the body] an instantaneous change.  This is the separation of a person’s two parts which are more intimately connected together than a person is connected with his own arm or leg – which separation is painful indeed! 

A person may linger and be ‘dying’ for a long period of time, but the actual substantial change which occurs when the soul departs from the body is one intensely painful moment.  We often hear people say such things as, “At least so-and-so didn’t suffer, or he/she died so peacefully and didn’t suffer much”, or “He or she passed quietly in his/her sleep”.  No, we must not be fooled into thinking that because someone was non-responsive at death, that his/her death wasn’t painful. Death is THE MOST PAINFUL MOMENT OF LIFE!!  No other suffering in life is as painful as death. This is because death involves acute physical suffering coupled with mental suffering.  No one is exempt from this suffering, not even infants.

People talk about giving the dying person morphine so he/she will not suffer too much.  We must remember that death is supposed to be painful and the pains of death are for our benefit and purification.  They are meant to be offered up to God as reparation for our sins. We are intended to imitate Christ in His suffering and death. We are intended to unite our death to Christ’s Passion and death. Life is a trial to see if we will be faithful to Christ, and death is our final exam.       

4) Death’s circumstances are unknown.—No one knows the actual time and place in which he will die. God could reveal this to someone but for most people He does not reveal this.  In fact, St Gregory tells us that God conceals the time of our death so that we will always be prepared to die.[2]

St. Bernard says, “Since, then, death may take away life at any time and in any place, we ought, if we wish to die well and save our souls, to live always in expectation of death.”[3]

Scripture also warns us that the timing of death is unknown to us, in order for us to take the means to prepare for it: “Delay not to be converted to the Lord, and defer it not from day to day; for His wrath shall come on a sudden, and in the time of vengeance He will destroy thee.” Ecclesiasticus, 5:8-9.

Here is how St. Paul warned the Thessalonians to prepare for death:

But of the times and moments, brethren, you need not, that we should write to you: For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord shall so come as a thief in the night.  For when they shall say: Peace and security, then shall sudden destruction come upon them, as the pains upon her that is with child, and they shall not escape.  But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you as a thief.  For all you are the children of light and children of the day: we are not of the night nor of darkness.  Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do: but let us watch, and be sober.  For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that are drunk, are drunk in the night.  But let us, who are of the day, be sober, having on the breast plate of faith and charity and, for a helmet, the hope of salvation. Thessalonians, 5:1-8.

Here are the words of Our Lord warning us to be always ready for death:

Watch ye, therefore, because you know not what hour your Lord will come.  But this know ye, that if the good man of the house knew at what hour the thief would come, he would certainly watch, and would not suffer his house to be broken open.  Wherefore, be you also ready, because at what hour you know not, the Son of man will come.  St. Matthew’s Gospel, 24:42-44, cf., St. Luke’s Gospel, 12:39.

And again:

Behold, I come as a thief.  Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.  Apocalypse, 16:15.

St. Peter echoes these words:

Wherefore, dearly beloved, waiting for these things, be diligent that you may be found before Him unspotted and blameless in peace.  1 Peter, 3:14.

Likewise, Holy Mother Church warns us and prays for us in the Litany of the Saints for the Rogation Days, “From a sudden and unprovided death, deliver us, O Lord.” This invocation carries with it a 300 days indulgence which inspires us to say it often.

This fact – that we know not the hour, the moment, or the circumstances of our death – helps us to remember what St. Paul tells us to work out our salvation in all fear and trembling.  With this sober thought, let us pass on to the consideration of the second point.

Considerations for the SECOND POINT:

Why is death so terrifying for us humans?  Is it only because of the horrific pain of the separation of the soul and body?  No, it is because of the unknown beyond.  We will meet Jesus Christ our Judge and He will be all just, and the time of mercy will be over.  Furthermore, there will be the formidable foe to taunt us especially at our last hours.  St. Gregory reminds us with the following words what this will mean.  He tells us:

Consider well how terrible is the hour of death, and how appalling the remembrance of our evil deeds will be at that time.  For the spirits of darkness will recall all the harm they have done us, and remind us of the sins which we have committed at their instigation.  They will not go to the deathbed of the godless only, but they will be present with the elect, striving to discover something sinful whereof to accuse them.  Alas! How will it fare with us hapless mortals in that hour, and what can we say for ourselves, seeing how innumerable are the sins to be laid to our charge?  What can we answer our adversaries, when they place all our sins before us, with the object of reducing us to despair?[4]

Fr. Cochem also tells us in his book The Last Four Things, “It is the opinion of many of the Fathers, that every one, when expiring, sees the evil enemy, at any rate at the moment of drawing his last breath, if not before.  How appalling this sight is, and with what terror it must inspire the dying, exceeds the power of words to declare.”[5]

What will our death be like?  It really depends on how we have lived.

If the tree fall to the south, or to the north, in what place soever it shall fall, there shall it be.  Ecclesiasticus, 11:4.

St. Alphonsus de Liguori explains the meaning of this passage in this quote from one of his sermons about death.

If, when the tree of your life is cut down, you fall to the south, that is, if you obtain eternal life, how great shall be your joy at being able to say: I shall be saved; I have secured all; I can never lose God; I shall be happy for ever. But, if you fall to the north, that is, into eternal damnation, how great shall be your despair! Alas! You shall say, I have erred, and my error is irremediable! Arise, then, from your tepidity, and, after this sermon, make a resolution to give yourselves sincerely to God. This resolution will insure you a good death, and will make you happy for eternity.[6]

With these realities in mind let us consider the two types of death possible to a man—death in the state of grace or in the state of mortal sin.

Death in the State of Grace

“The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the torment of death shall not touch them.  In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure was taken for misery: and their going away from us, for utter destruction: but they are in peace.”  Wisdom, 1:1-3.

These are very consoling words of Scripture.  They remind us that God will not ever abandon us.   The quotes given above about the attacks of the evil one at our death are dreadful, yet we know that our heavenly helpers will be with us to defend us. Our Lady and St. Joseph will come to assist us.  Also, we know that our guardian angel and patron saints will protect us.

We should work hard to foster a great love for Our Lady and St. Joseph.  By being close friends with this holy couple, they become our heavenly parents, too.  By speaking to them very often, this will help us to develop the habit of having recourse in prayer to them.  In this way we will build our confidence in them and their special protection against the evil foes who at our death will be trying desperately to drag our thoughts to darkness and despair.  Then, even when we are in the greatest weakness of our lives, that is, when we are dying – we will still be directing our thoughts and prayers to them.

Likewise, we should not forget that if we are faithful in praising, revering, and serving God in our lives, then we will look forward to finishing our course here on earth and be out of the danger of losing our souls.

How then can we be faithful in praising, revering, and serving God?  We must work on being detached from earthly goods in order to put our hearts on eternal things and on our service of God.  We must be zealous in His service because our entire eternity will be determined by how well we served Him.

Fr. Hurter, in his Sketches for the Exercises of an Eight Day’s Retreat, says:

“Whilst we have time let us work good.” [Gal 6:10] “Defraud not thyself of the good day, and let not the part of a good gift overpass thee.” [Eccl.,14:14] therefore spend your days in such a manner that you can say every evening what our Divine Redeemer said on the evening of His earthly life: “I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do.” [John 17, 4]  Then we can hope to hear the consoling words of the divine Judge: “Well done, good and faithful servant… enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” [Matt. 25:23] [7]

Therefore, death in the state of grace is a beautiful thing.  When we live loving God with all our might, then we have peace with God.  We accept what He deems best to send us even if we do not understand His plan.  We soon build trust in His Providence and will be willing to die trusting in Him.   

Now let us consider the tragedy of death in the state of mortal sin.

Death in the State of Mortal Sin

What kind of death can a person in mortal sin expect?  Whether a person be a hardened sinner, a careless sinner who foolishly thinks that he will convert on his deathbed, or a worldling who doesn’t give any serious thought of death, death will come and find him unprepared.  Hell awaits him.  Despair seizes him.  He has been living in hellish pride, no doubt, for quite some time now.

He has been living in selfishness and accustomed to giving in to sensuality.  Where was God in his life?  He either put God completely out of the picture or only had a little corner reserved for God and any communication with God.  He talked to God only when he wanted something from God. He had no real friendship with God.  He totally disregarded Our Lord’s words, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

St. Alphonsus de Liguori describes the scene:

How will the dying man, who has always lived in sin, be able, in the midst of the pains, the stupefaction, and the confusion of death, to repent sincerely of all his past iniquities?  I say sincerely, because it is not enough to say and to promise with the tongue: it is necessary to promise with the heart.  …  What terror and confusion will seize the unhappy Christian who has led a careless life, when he finds himself overwhelmed with sins, with the fears of judgment, of hell, and of eternity!  Oh!  What confusion will these thoughts produce when the dying sinner will find his reason gone, his mind darkened, and his whole frame assailed by the pains of approaching death.  He will make his confession; he will promise, weep, and seek mercy from God, but without understanding what he does; and in this tempest of agitation, of remorse, of pains and terrors, he will pass to the other life.  The people shall be troubled, and they shall pass [Job, 34; 20].[8]

Another striking quote of St. Alphonsus is, “Having loved sin till death, he has also loved the danger of damnation.  Hence the Lord will justly permit him to perish in that danger in which he has voluntarily lived till the end of his life.”[9]

St. Paul puts the situation of the unrepentant sinner aptly when he says, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked.  For what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap.  For he that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh also shall he reap corruption.” Galatians, 6:7-8.

And what of the typical worldling who has been caught up in the pleasures of the world—one who wanted all sorts of material things and comforts?  When death approaches, he will finally realize that he must leave everything behind.  How empty he will find his life then.  He will see that he has led a very shallow life.  All the pampering of his flesh and the luxuries that he wallowed in, he can have them no more.

And of course, as we have said above, the devil will torment him now, saying that it is too late to be truly sorry and it is not worth humbling himself to beg God’s mercy. The devil will try whatever trick worked the best with the poor sinner before.  He can easily use the trick of despair or presumption.  Certainly, the devil will try with all his might to see that this poor wretch makes it to hell and makes absolutely no attempt at true repentance.

COLLOQUY: Accordingly, now after having considered these very sobering truths, I can certainly pour out my heart to the Sacred Heart and thank him for His example of how to die.  I will thank Our Lord and Our Lady for all the mercy shown to me up to this point. I will thank God for all of His insights and blessings, especially for allowing me to understand death better through considering death in all its aspects.

I will ask God for the grace of final perseverance.

I will talk to Our Lady, my Mother, to assist me in life and especially at my death.

Likewise, I will talk with St. Joseph and beg him to help me always, and especially as I draw my last breath.  

In our next lesson, we will consider both the PARTICULAR JUDGMENT and the GENERAL JUDGMENT in order to keep enhancing our love for God and to foster an even greater desire in our souls to persevere in making our greatest efforts in all we do for Him.

 



[1]            The explanation of holy indifference is given in June, 2022, Lesson #11 The Principle and Foundation Part IIhttps://catholiccandle.org/2022/06/27/lesson-11-the-principle-and-foundation-part-ii/

 

[2]           This quote is taken from St. Alphonsus de Liguori’s Preparation for Death, in his consideration five, The Uncertainty of the Hour of Death.

 

[3]           This quote is taken from St. Alphonsus de Liguori’s Preparation for Death, in his consideration five, The Uncertainty of the Hour of Death

[4]           This quote is taken from The Last Four Things, Fr. Martin von Cochem, O.S.F.C., ©1899, Benzinger Brothers, page 15.

           

[5]           This quote is taken from The Last Four Things, Fr. Martin von Cochem, O.S.F.C., ©1899, Benzinger Brothers, page 19.

[6]           Quote from St. Alphonsus de Liguori’s Sermon XXXIII for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

[7]           Quoted form Sketches for the Exercises of an Eight Day’s Retreat by Hugo Hurter, SJ., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, ©1918, third edition, 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, page 81.

[8]           This quote is taken from St. Alphonsus de Liguori’s Preparation for Death, in his consideration six, The Death of a Sinner.

 

[9]            This quote is taken from St. Alphonsus de Liguori’s Preparation for Death, in his consideration six, The Death of a Sinner.

 

Lesson #11 The Principle and Foundation – Part II

                    Mary’s School of Sanctity                   

St. Ignatius says,

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.

Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, in so far as it is left to the choice of our free will and is not forbidden.  Acting accordingly, for our part, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short one, and so in all things we should desire and choose only those things which will best help attain the end for which we are created.

In our last lesson we considered the end of man, which is to give glory to God Our Creator.  (This end is set forth in the first paragraph above.)  We discussed how one can meditate on this first paragraph examining what service we owe to God Who is so great and good to us.  

Now we will consider the rest of the first paragraph concerning our proper use of creatures, and the second paragraph which pertains to the holy detachment that God wants us to have concerning creatures.  Basically, Lesson #10 is the first part of the meditation on the Principle and Foundation, and this current Lesson #11 is the second part of the same meditation on the Principle and Foundation

This meditation is so rich in materials for consideration that this second part can be addressed in two subparts.  As we mentioned before, in Lesson #10, this meditation on the Principle and Foundation is so extremely important for our salvation that we can meditate upon it very often.  This is because St. Ignatius’s principle here must set the tone for our entire outlook on life. 

But how does one meditate on these two Ignatian paragraphs quoted above?  By carefully analyzing St. Ignatius’s two paragraphs to find out what he means.  By analyzing what he says and applying what he says to our own conduct, we can learn about ourselves and what our priorities have been in our life so far.  We can also learn to amend our priorities as needed in order to serve God in a way that is most pleasing to Him.  St. Ignatius has us begin by studying creatures, the use of which, are a means to our eternal salvation (and the misuse of which, to our everlasting damnation).

There are many aspects that we can discuss concerning man’s usage of creatures. We know from the Book of Genesis that creatures were created for the needs and use of man.  Man was given dominion over all the material creatures. We must not forget that besides these creatures, there are immaterial creatures, e.g., time and the angels.  Even though man does not have dominion over time or the angels, he can still make use of them.  St. Ignatius says above, “All other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him fulfill the end for which he is created.”


Creatures help man attain his last end.

Creatures help man in the following ways:

  by instruction,

  by example,

  by use,

  by sacrifice, and

  by being a source of crosses.

They help man by instruction because creatures show us God’s omnipotence when we consider them.  Creatures show how great God is by their vastness and variety, their beauty, and their order.  We can clearly see God’s greatness and majesty.  We can likewise see how we owe God praise for His wondrous works of nature.

They help by example because they faithfully serve God by doing what He intended for them to do.  We see that we need to do the same.   

They help by use because we obviously need to use them to sustain our life and our duties, e.g., for health, nourishment, and strength.

They help by sacrifice because man can use them in the practice of religion and as objects of self-denial when man offers up using them as a means of detachment and penance.

They help by being the source of crosses, e.g., sicknesses, accidents, etc. [1]


We can examine how we have used creatures.

Unfortunately, we do not use creatures as we should.  This is precisely because we do not keep St. Ignatius’s rule in mind that if the creature is not good for our eternal end, we should reject it.  Is this because we simply do not take our last end seriously enough?   St. Ignatius would say, “Yes!”  We tend to yield to our passions which seek sensual comforts.  Here are some questions to keep in mind when assessing how well we have used creatures:

  What view do I take of creatures? 

  Do I perhaps look upon them as my property, of which, as a master, I can dispose at pleasure and not as a benefice or alms from God?

  Do I regard them as an end, and not merely as a means to reach my end?

 

  Do I consider them as “talents” of the use of which I must give an exact account to my Lord and Creator?

 

  What rule or direction do I follow in the use of creatures? 

 

  Do I use them simply at my pleasure?

 

  Do I allow myself to be led by sensuality? 

 

  Do I adhere to St. Ignatius’ words “he must rid himself of them in so far as”?  That is, do I reflect whether they are useful or hurtful to my calling, to my destiny [or duty of state]?

 

  Do I ask myself what good I derive from all the disagreeable happenings that befall me, since God permitted them especially for my benefit or straightway sent them Himself?[2]

In the light of this meditation, we come to realize that we are guilty of manifold abuses of creatures.  Let us repent of it; and in the future let us plan and strive to use the world round about us to our true spiritual advantage.  “To them that love God, all things work together unto good!” [Romans 8:28][3]

What St. Ignatius means by Holy Indifference.

Now let us delve into what St. Ignatius teaches us in his second paragraph (quoted above).  He wants us to grasp the concept of holy indifference to creatures.  We must use our reason, led by our Faith, so that all we do and all of the choices we make are pleasing to God, and will lead to our salvation.  

God put creatures in our lives as means to be used in His service, to be conducive to our salvation and not to be a hindrance.  We must consider each creature we come in contact with and use it appropriately.  In order to do this efficaciously, we must be detached from creatures. “For if we are inclined to one thing or to another beforehand, and are too much attached to it, then this too-great attachment will hinder us from readily giving ourselves up to do what reason, Faith, and God command.”[4] 

For if our calling is to serve God, and creatures are but means to this end, reason demands that in the choice and use of them we should not be determined by their beauty and attractiveness, but solely by their usefulness as means to an end.

Hence, we should not be predisposed in favor of any creature, because this predisposition has an influence upon our choice and misleads us to make imprudent selections.  We must cut loose from creatures and be free from bias, so that only their adaptability or the will of God may be the guide in our selection of them.[5]

We do not accept the sufferings and difficulties that God permits in our lives or we generally do not accept them with perfect unselfishness.  The reason for this is that we lack indifference.  We must want to do God’s Will.  When something happens to us which is beyond our control, then we know it is the Will of God for us.  God wants us to accept events in a truly sacrificial manner and without complaint.  Furthermore, He expects us to use our reason in dealing with circumstances.

A religious complained to St. Francis de Sales about the many crosses she had to carry. “Do you know how the cross is made?” asked the saint.  “Take two little pieces of wood, lay one parallel upon the other – no cross.  But lay one piece across the other and the cross is made.  So in like manner when our will conforms to the Will of God – when it is opposed to the Will of God, when we murmur and complain – the cross is ready.  If we wish to escape the cross, then we must conform our will to the Will of God.[6]

We practice this indifference by accepting circumstances which are out of our control and by keeping ourselves detached from creatures, not complaining if they are taken from us.  In this way we acknowledge that our lives and everything in them are in the Hands of God and we simply trust in His Providence.  We remind ourselves that, “For to them that love God all things work together unto good.”


The advantages of indifference

Some basic advantages for practicing holy indifference are:

·         true peace;

·         joy; and

·         the practice of virtue becomes easy.

The mind so disposed with indifference has true peace and permanent rest of the heart.  For, come what may, it recognizes in all things the Will of God, and by doing that will it attains to its destiny.

It has not only peace but joy, for we know that “all things work unto good for those that love God,” so that from all things we can derive advantages.

This disposition of mind makes easy our efforts to acquire virtue and perfection.  When our attachment to creatures is excessive, it becomes more difficult to make the sacrifice which God’s service calls for.[7]


We can examine our level of indifference

  About what do I principally complain and murmur?  There, indifference is wanting; when we murmur about something, we can say to ourselves: “I caught myself in the act of being too attached to a creature”.

  Is my will prepared for all that God is likely to ask of me, or to choose for me?  (However, don’t waste time daydreaming about every possible situation God might send to us.)

  Is my heart too passionately attached to something, to a creature, to an occupation, to an office or position, so that the separation would be at the cost of a hard struggle?  I will begin even now to disengage my heart, that the possible sacrifice be not too bitter for me.[8]

Now that we have examined St. Ignatius’s concept of holy indifference and how we certainly need to improve in using it for our sanctification, we must not think we are finished with the work of self-reflection.

Some additional questions we can use to examine our use of creatures

Here are some additional points of self-reflection:

  How am I using creatures?

  What is my attitude toward creatures – from the lowest – air, food, clothing, shelter; to the highest angels, saints and the Queen of Angels and saints?

  Am I using all of these creatures well and in the manner in which God intends?

  Do I view the lowest creatures for what they really are, or do I use them as if they are something higher than what they are?

  How do I use Mary?  She is a special creature and gift of God created to help me.  Do I consult with her? Do I ever talk with her throughout the day and ask her help to reason better?

All of these points and the self-examining questions posited here are the heart of the meditation on the Principle and Foundation.  In fact, this meditation is a reflection upon what we owe to God in justice and how we ought to serve Him.  A crucial part of the service we owe to God is how we are employed in using the creatures that He put at our disposal.  Thus, this meditation involves a self-examination in how well we are doing what we ought to do.

When we do this long two-part meditation, it is best to focus on the point or aspect that strikes us the most and sparks a real flame in our soul.  This spark of desire is meant to help us tell God that we love Him and to tell Him that we need His all-powerful assistance. 

The fruit of this meditation is the heart-to-heart talk that we have with God.  We may find ourselves making all four kinds of prayer, adoration, thanksgiving, reparation, and petition.  

We close our meditation time with some prayers of thanksgiving to God for assisting us in our meditation and with making firm resolutions to use creatures better in the future and/or in practicing holy indifference.

Of course, we should not forget to write down any insights given to us and to examine how much effort we put into our meditation.

In our next lesson we will discuss St. Ignatius’s 1st exercise on sin.



[1]           Considerations taken from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, SJ., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, ©1918, third edition 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, pages 9-15.

 

[2]           Considerations taken from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, SJ., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, ©1918, third edition 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, pages 16-17.

 

[3]           Considerations taken from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, SJ., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, ©1918, third edition 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, page 17.

 

[4]           Considerations taken from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, SJ., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck ©1918, third edition 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, page 21.

 

[5]           Considerations taken from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, SJ., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck ©1918, third edition 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, page 22.

 

[6]           Considerations taken from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, SJ., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck ©1918, third edition 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, page 23.

 

[7]           Considerations taken from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, SJ., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck ©1918, third edition 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, page 24.

 

[8]           Considerations taken from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, SJ., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, ©1918, third edition 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, page 25.

 

Spiritual Nuptials

Objective truth series – Reflection #24

We, baptized Catholics, are each called to be a Bride of Christ.  Our souls are meant to have a Mystical Union with the Bridegroom.

In this reflection series we have been considering the journey of the individual soul and how God, being the Divine Sculptor, leads the soul to Him through humility and charity.  Below we give a bullet point list of the purpose for each of the reflections and how there has been a step-by-step progression which has led up to this point of considering what it means to be truly a bride of Christ.  Spiritual Nuptials is the spiritual gift of God which He uses to ultimately prepare a soul for life eternal. This intimate union between Christ and the soul is a state of soul that God intends for every soul that is in sanctifying grace. It is something we should aspire to. We need to beg God to help us understand it so we can aspire to cooperate with God in striving for it!

Here is a brief recap of the Objective Truth Series:

·         Reflection 1 discusses how God sculptures our souls.

·         Reflection 2 describes how God inspires us to find examples of humility.

·         Reflection 3 ponders our nothingness.

·         Reflection 4 shows how submitting to God’s Will helps us unite with and trust God.

·         Reflection 5 shows how we must have a healthy mistrust of ourselves.

·         Reflection 6 shows how to be on guard against proud self-complacency and how to sincerely compassionate our neighbor.

·         Reflection 7 shows the importance of taking corrections well.

·         Reflection 8 shows how we need to guard against pride.

·         Reflection 9 speaks of how to avoid frustration and discouragement which are forms of pride.

·         Reflection 10 shows the importance of making frequent acts of humility.

·         Reflection 11 shows how God draws the soul to new levels of understanding.

·         Reflection 12 shows how gratitude brings humility.

·         Reflection 13 shows how God fosters humility in us by having us seek His guidance.

·         Reflection 14 shows how we must shun false human respect and lovingly pursue truth.

·         Reflection 15 shows how wonderful it is to possess the truth.

·         Reflection 16 shows how God simplifies the truth to give us a delight in it.

·         Reflection 17 ponders the amazing fact that God uses us as His instruments.

·         Reflection 18 shows how we need to live life keeping eternity always in mind.

·         Reflection 19 shows how tears of compunction are a good thing to ask for.

·         Reflection 20 shows how by thinking on death helps us die to ourselves.

·         Reflection 21 shows how we should have a great desire for heaven.

·         Reflection 22 shows how, when we forget ourselves, we become consumed in the love of God.

·         Reflection 23 shows how God wants us to focus on Him abiding in us.

Thus, in our last reflection we pondered upon the Holy Trinity and what it means to have the Trinity dwelling in a soul which is in the state of grace.  When one understands how this dwelling of the Trinity in the soul is the reality, this helps the soul to understand the Church’s mystical teaching about the spiritual marriage that occurs between Jesus Christ and the soul.

Catholics are taught their Catechism from their youth, but unfortunately, they are rarely taught mystical terminology or concepts. Yet, we are all called to a mystical union with the Lord.  This union is a mystical marriage between the Bridegroom, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the soul.

When considering marriage in the natural order, it is easy to see why husband and wife are supposed to be best friends. They would be content to be alone on an abandoned island.  Their happiness would be complete because of their bond of friendship.[1] And so it is in the spiritual realm.  Our Lord Jesus Christ wants each Catholic in the state of grace to be His bride.

Mary is our model of such a mystical Bride because she was immaculately conceived and was never marred by any sin or imperfection.  She is God’s masterpiece, the Virgin of virgins, the humble Handmaid of the Lord, His Mother and the Spouse of the Holy Ghost.

The Canticle of Canticles, written by King Solomon, refers to the mystical marriage between Christ and the soul.  The soul loves Christ by obeying His commandments, becoming selfless, and being consumed with the love and service of God.  In this way, God so sculptures the soul to become more God-like and to become the bride of the Divine Son.

So, this amazing marriage with Christ is not just something we read about in the lives of the saints, for example, St. Catherine of Sienna or St. Theresa of Avila, but something that our souls should truly desire for ourselves.

In these times of apostasy, when Christ wants us to trust in Him completely, He surely wants to console us by such a remarkable union with Him.  Likewise, we should want to console Him Who is so blasphemed and hated in these evil times. These are special times we live in, where to stand up for being normal and moral is considered a heroically virtuous act.  So let us fly to Christ and cling to Him, begging Him to make us worthy to be His spouse.  Let us throw ourselves at His Feet and adore Him Who does not change, – and Who is Truth Itself.  Oh, that we could fall eternally in love with Truth – Objective Truth – and be willing to seek the truth always, abide in truth, defend truth, and suffer and die for truth! 

The Apocalypse refers to more, and more glorious, martyrs in the end times—may we, God Willing, want to suffer something for Christ—really suffer all things for Christ, our Spouse!  With overwhelmed hearts and burning zeal for Christ perhaps we would pledge our love in the following betrothals:

Dear Spouse of souls, in Thee we trust,

We want so much Thy spouse to be,

Yet unworthy, we are but dust,

We wholly give our hearts to Thee.

 

This union is a mystic one,

Understood by the saints of old,

 United to the Begotten Son,

‘Tis more precious than pearls and gold.

 

Mary, our Queen and our Mother,

The model bride we should admire,

Her virtues are like no other,

What love of God she doth inspire!

 

Of the Lord, she was a Handmaid,

And Spouse too of the Holy Ghost,

Mother of God, a virgin stayed,

Of all creatures she loves God most.

 

She merited being Christ’s bride,

Like Our Queen, we would like to soar,

To be forever at Christ’s Side,

And have the Groom forever more.

 

Of such a Groom, who is worthy?

Yet He’s meant for each soul in grace,

 Mary, please help us prepared be,

 So that this marriage may take place.

 

With burning hearts we yearn for this,

 Nuptial bond with Our Divine King,

So, in time we enjoy such bliss,

And have a divine wedding ring.

 

 

Catholic Candle note: For a further treatment of this spiritual marriage to which Christ calls our souls, read this article: https://catholiccandle.org/2019/06/20/our-souls-should-be-docile-brides-of-christ/

 



[1]           Of course, this is not taking into account the role of a family unit in society at large.

The Indwelling of the Holy Trinity

Objective truth series – Reflection #23

Our Lord taught us:

If you love Me, keep My commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Paraclete, that He may abide with you forever. The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not nor knoweth Him; but you shall know Him; because He shall abide with you and shall be in you.  …

In that day you shall know, that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.  …

He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them; he it is that loveth Me.   And he that loveth Me, shall be loved of My Father: and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.  …  If anyone love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him.[1]

How wonderful it is to think about Our dear Lord Jesus Christ, His Father, and the Holy Ghost abiding in our souls!

In our last reflection we considered how God wants us to become self-forgetful as a means to become more united to God.  We also spoke of wanting to spend ourselves in the service of God which includes helping the souls of our neighbor.


God gives Sanctifying Grace, the source of all supernatural virtues.

It is natural that we humans should want to be united to God.  He is our last end and we were created to be with Him.  In our Baptism we were given Sanctifying Grace which is the participation of the soul in the Divine goodness.  We say “participation” because we are not God and can only have this grace as a habitual gift infused by God into our souls.  This gift or quality in our souls does not change our human nature, which is still not divine.  However, Sanctifying Grace, called habitual grace by St. Thomas Aquinas, makes the soul pleasing to God.  He says further that “grace is a certain disposition which is presupposed to the infused virtues as their principle or root.”[2]

We mentioned in the Objective Truth Series’ very first Reflection (about God sculpting our souls) St. Thomas’ teaching that first God chooses a soul, then He loves that soul, and then makes the soul worthy of His Love by giving the soul Sanctifying Grace.  

St. Thomas explains that along with Sanctifying Grace, God infuses the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity.  Love involves an act of the will in which we value or esteem something highly.  The highest thing that we can esteem is God as the chief Object of our supernatural happiness.  This makes Charity, then, the certain perfection of love (in the sense that Charity is the highest kind of love). 

St. Thomas also explains that:

There is a communication between man and God, inasmuch as He communicates His happiness to us, some kind of friendship must needs be based on this same communication.[3]

He adds further that, “the love which is based on this communication is charity” and thence, “charity is the friendship of man for God.”  Id.

This friendship with God is so beautiful, and of course it is logical that our supernatural friendship with our neighbor is based on our friendship with God. Thus St. Paul speaks of charity as the “bond of perfection.”

The indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in the soul

Friends communicate with each other and our prayer life is our communication with God. Included in prayer life is our focus on God.   However, even though it seems too bold to think about the Holy Trinity dwelling in one’s soul, the fact remains that when one is in the state of grace, the reality is that the Trinity is dwelling in the soul.

What is this dwelling?  Since God is a spirit and the human soul is immaterial, this “dwelling” is of course, not physical.  God must dwell in the soul in some other way.  St. Thomas says that God is indeed present in multiple ways in all things in the universe[4] – even in rocks, plants, animals, and in the souls of those in mortal sin.  But in those with sanctifying grace, His power and presence are incomparably stronger.

The Persons in God

We learn in our catechism that there are three Persons in one God.  Unfortunately, most catechism books do not attempt to explain this truth to us.  The term Person when referring to God is not used in the same way we humans use it when we refer to an individual intellectual creature.  When we think about God, we must realize the Three Divine Persons are special.  The use of the term Person is a special case or application.

First of all, we must consider that God, as the Supreme Being, is above all other existing things.  God is completely simple.  He has only one action [one act], which is, to exist.  His existence is His nature.  God reveals this to us when He calls Himself, “I am Who am” [Ex. 3:14].  By contrast, in us humans, our human nature does not include the very notion of existence or the necessity that we must exist.  A man might exist, or might not.

Second of all, we must understand that God’s only action is to simply exist.  We can describe His action as one continuous action [act]; however, this act includes many aspects which our feeble human minds need to grasp one at a time. 

To understand the term of Divine Person better, we need to take two particular aspects into consideration. The first aspect to consider is the one Divine Intellect.   God thinks about Himself and knows Himself.  His thought about Himself is called His Word or Divine Son.  The fact that God thinks and knows helps us see that the Divine Intellect naturally thinks about Himself.  The Thought/Word is His only Begotten Son.  This Son is the 2nd Person of the Blessed Trinity Who shares the Divine Nature.  

The second aspect to consider is the one Divine Will.  God naturally wants Himself and loves Himself.  This makes sense because He is the Supreme and most perfect Being.  [Thus, He loves Himself infinitely because He is the Infinite Good and is infinitely worthy of love.] This love proceeds from both the Father and His only Begotten Son.  This proceeding love is called the Holy Ghost, the third Person.

Thus, we see that God’s one continual act involves His Intellect and Will in continual self-reflection and love.  God’s knowledge of all other existing things and His love of all other existing things are also included in His one continual act.

The importance of meditating on the Blessed Trinity, and Its Indwelling in us

Then it is so very important to try to foster the habit of focusing on this beautiful reality.  We ought to strive to focus on the Trinity dwelling in the soul and talk to God; adore Him; thank Him; tell Him we are sorry for having offended Him; and ask His constant aid and protection.

How can we do this? One possible way is to imagine our soul as the monastery of the Holy Trinity and our heart as the chapel of this ‘monastery’.  Or one could imagine the soul as the monastery of the Holy Family and the dwelling–place of the Most Holy Trinity.

If one seeks solitude in his soul and tries to imagine the soul as the monastery of the Holy Family and the dwelling of the Most Holy Trinity—this will foster recollection and conversation with Mary, Joseph and Jesus and speaking with and adoring the Persons of the Blessed Trinity.  One’s heart may say this to Them:

O Wondrous Trinity Divine,

Thou dwellest in this heart of mine,

Unworthy am I to have Thee,

As a Guest, abiding in me.

 

Oh, Mary help me ‘tis my prayer,

 Please make me daily more aware,

Of the Majesty of the Three,

Divine Persons dwelling in me.

 

The consoling words of Thy Son,

Remind me that His Heart is won,

By true observance of His Laws,

The Triune God in the soul draws.

 

“Abide in Me, and I in thee,

There My Father will likewise be,

To make in your soul Our abode,

And keep you on the narrow road.”

 

“The Spirit of truth comes to dwell,

Makes Divine love in you to swell,

 Divine Friendship within you too,

To assist you, in all you do.”

 

This is the friendship so sublime,

Which makes a soul to heaven climb,

Helping one to, vigilant, keep,

Desiring truths to ponder deep,

 

Oh, St. Joseph, I need your aid,

To follow well the path thus made,

To focus on the Triune Guest,

And to see how to serve Him best.

 

My soul can be like a monk’s home,

I ne’er desire from there to roam,

To use as a place to adore,

To study my Guest, learn of Him more.

 

To serve Thee well, my Triune Friend,

Please preserve me unto the end,

Please let me ne’er abandon Thee,

Keep me close dearest Trinity!



[1]           St. John’s Gospel, 14:16-17, 20 & 23.

[2]           Summa, Ia IIae, Q.110 a.3, ad 3.

[3]           Summa, IIa IIae, Q.23, a.1, Respondeo.

[4]              Summa, Ia, Q.8, aa. 2 & 3.   In article three, St. Thomas quotes Pope St. Gregory the Great, teaching: “God, by a common mode, is in all things, by His presence, power and substance.  Still, He is said to be present more familiarly in some by grace”.

 

Self-forgetfulness—letting the Love of God Consume Our Lives

Objective truth series – Reflection #22

In our last several reflections we have been considering focusing more and more on our eternal goal, the work of our lives, namely, the salvation of our souls.  We penetrated more deeply what it really means to save our souls—to see the Beatific Vision!

The emptiness of this world is easy to see especially when we compare this world to the delights of heaven.  We can easily conclude that to see God is worth all the efforts we can make.  Certainly as God gives us a greater desire for heaven, He increases our love for Him.   Yet, there is another aspect of our love of God which emerges especially when we see the world getting more godless every day, namely, the hunger and desire we have to see God loved.  St. Therese of Lisieux wrote in a prayer she composed to the Holy Face, “I am consumed with the desire to love Thee and make Thee loved by all men.”

When we consider how there is so much craziness going on around us in the world, we see the huge apparent sprint of the evil globalists as they try to get more control of everything with each new day.  Furthermore, these globalists have a clear agenda to erase God and His Commandments from the face of the earth.  It is so tempting to only consider our own current dangers and to get anxious about what will happen to us.  However, we must remind ourselves that we are in God’s Providential Hands and there is much consolation in this truth.  Indeed, we also know that God is allowing these events in order to perfect our souls.    

And yet, our focus should naturally turn from ourselves, to the innumerable insults that are hurled against God, His Church, His Blessed Mother, and His Saints.  We can see by the blatant attacks of the enemy, that God is so hated in these neo-pagan times of this great apostasy.  Our hearts ache out of love for God and a desire to console Him.  We should remember that just devotedly doing our duty-of-state with love for God, is a very important way to give Him glory and console Him.   

In this way, too, we begin the life of self-forgetfulness.  The simple focus on wanting to please God and work for His Glory, not only increases our love for Him, but also is God’s means to increase His Divine Friendship in our souls.  God is great and merciful to shower such undeserved goodness on His poor creatures!

 “He must increase: but I must decrease.” [St. John 3:30]  These words of St. John the Baptist apply to us as we strive to do all we can for the greater honor and glory of God and to show Him all our love.  But, more than this, is that this decreasing of ourselves in our own view of ourselves, naturally brings us lower and lower until we see our utter nothingness.  This nothingness does not disturb us because we see it as our natural place.   As Our Lord told St. Catherine of Sienna, “You are she who is not and I am He Who is.”  We are nothing and God is our all.

When we get caught up in our daily service of God and our neighbor out of love for God, our lives are busy working for God and our neighbor.  We may find ourselves trying to help our neighbor in many ways.  Some examples may be: trying to keep up our neighbor’s morale in these times when irrational fears are being pushed on everyone; trying to keep him informed when we are surrounded by false news; trying to convert others back to the pre-Vatican II Faith; or teaching others about the traditional uncompromising Faith which they have never heard about [seeing that we are now 56 years post Vatican II].  “The harvest indeed is great, but the laborers are few.” [St. Matt. 9:37]

With so much work to do for God’s Glory and to show Him our love, there really is no time or concern to think about ourselves.   We are glad to do all we can for God and spend ourselves in His service.  This is what it means to let our lives be consumed in the love of God.  What a mercy of God to let us serve Him and He accepts our poor service!

Besides such good works to our neighbor for love of God, we’ll find that we love spending time in prayer— adoring God; telling Him our sorrow for our own sins and the sins of the hateful world; telling Him over and over again that we love Him; and thanking Him for all His Goodness and Mercies He has shown to us.

God’s sculpturing of our souls slowly over time does bring many changes in our souls which includes the soul becoming more selfless.  He works patiently on us and if we are docile, His chiseling will not seem painful to us.  We can sense that He is steadily chipping away our selfishness and we naturally find that we want to do things for Him more because we love Him more and more.  In addition, as we see things in the world falling apart around us, and because we know that we do not in any way deserve God’s wonderful mercies that He has showered upon us, our hearts cannot help counting our blessings often.  How could gratitude not grow with each passing day?  We want to do something for Him to thank Him.  We want to share our blessings with other souls!  A consuming need to love God takes over and the desire to see Him loved is part of this. 

With grateful hearts, may God let us burn in the fire of the consummation of His Love!  This is how Divine Friendship works— to spread His Glory, to be spent in His service,  and to care about nothing else than Him!  Oh, if we could truly say like St. Paul, “And I live, now not I: but Christ liveth in me.” [Gal. 2:20]—with heartfelt pangs of love for God we would want to say something like the following:

 For God alone must be my goal,

Only He can full-please a soul,

 Focusing on myself would be,

Like living a lie—death to me.

 

 

To keep my focus on God entire

Brings on love and my soul’s desire

To become selfless, melting flame

To make of God, my only aim.

 

This fits His plan for souls that see,

Solely for Him should the soul be,

The lifetime goal, the soul’s one end

To have Him, as a Divine Friend.

 

With things all ‘round falling apart,

Thus, to tear, God out of each heart,

The devil spreads hatred so wide,

Ne’er wanting souls, to be God’s bride.

 

Fret then, just distracting the soul,

From the purpose of man’s true role,

Intimate union with The Spouse,

Evil seeks this Friendship to douse.

 

The Devil sows then fears and dread

Wanting souls to hate God instead

‘Gainst love of God, and true good deeds

He tempts men to desire false “needs”

 

 So bitter hatred fills the air

And each day more fall to despair

Insults to God are hurled galore

Than seemingly ever before

 

Our souls ache to repair these crimes

The wretched evils of our times,

To give God the glory— His due,

 Knowing He, is loved, by so few.

 

And to help poor folks so confused

Who are attacked and ill-used

Who search for truth, so hard to find

They’re led like sheep to keep them blind.

 

Out of love we help our neighbor,

 Gladly for God do we labor,

For Him our life tirelessly spend,

Knowing by this we love our Friend.

 

Working hard ‘til our eyes grow dim,

Doing all out of love for Him,

Wanting nothing than be consumed,

Giving all until we’re entombed.

 

If we like St. Paul can self-forget

We can grow more in love yet

With our dear Lord, Our Spouse Divine,

E’er adoring the Mystic Vine!

A Great Desire for Heaven

Objective truth series – Reflection #21

In our last reflection we considered how we must die to ourselves in order to work out our salvation.  Because we had already considered working out our salvation in fear and trembling, it logically followed that we must consider working on detachment from our bodies through penance.  In like manner, after considering that doing penance is a way to prepare for the release of our souls from our bodies, the benefit of detachment from the things of this world is also easy to see.

Once one is more detached from this world, the more he finds he is focused on attaining his true home, namely, heaven.  In St. Alphonsus de Liguori’s book Sermons for Sundays, he has an excellent sermon on heaven for the second Sunday of Lent.  He has four key points or reasons why we should ponder heaven and seek heaven.  Indeed any one of these reasons alone would be enough to convince us to ask God earnestly for a great desire for heaven.  Let us consider these four points one at a time.

1) “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him.”  (1 Cor. 2:9)

Concerning this point St. Alphonsus describes the beauty we should be longing for.  He says, “According to the Apostle, no man on this earth can comprehend the infinite blessings which God has prepared for the souls that love Him.”[1]

St. Alphonsus goes on to comment that people on earth are so focused on using only their senses and says:

Perhaps we imagine that the beauty of heaven resembles that of a wide extended plain covered with the verdure of spring, interspersed with trees in full bloom, and abounding in birds fluttering about and singing on every side; or, that it is like the beauty of a garden full of fruits and flowers, and surrounded by fountains in continual play.  Oh!  What a Paradise, to behold such a plain, or such a garden! But, oh!  How much greater are the beauties of heaven!  Speaking of Paradise, St. Bernard says: O man, if you wish to understand the blessings of heaven, know that in that happy country there is nothing which can be disagreeable, and everything that you can desire.[2]

St. Alphonsus not only talks about heaven being agreeable to the senses, he goes on to explain more about how all the soul’s desires are satisfied in heaven. 

2) In heaven you have all you can desire. ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ (Apoc. 21:4-5.).[3]  Concerning this point, St. Alphonsus expounds how all our senses will be delighted, saying:

There everything is new; new beauties, new delights, new joys. There all our desires shall be satisfied. The sight shall be satiated with beholding the beauty of that city. How delightful to behold a city in which the streets should be of crystal, the houses of silver, the windows of gold, and all adorned with the most beautiful flowers. But, oh! How much more beautiful shall be the city of Paradise! The beauty of the place shall be heightened by the beauty of the inhabitants, who are all clothed in royal robes; for, according to St. Augustine, they are all kings. How delighted to behold Mary, the queen of heaven, who shall appear more beautiful than all the other citizens of Paradise!  But, what it must be to behold the beauty of Jesus Christ!  St. Teresa once saw one of the hands of Jesus Christ, and was struck with astonishment at the sight of such beauty. The smell shall be satiated with odors, but with the odors of Paradise. The hearing shall be satiated with the harmony of the celestial choirs. St. Francis once heard for a moment an angel playing on a violin, and he almost died through joy. How delightful must it be to hear the saints and angels singing the divine praises! “They shall praise thee for ever and ever.” (Ps. 83:5.) What must it be to hear Mary praising God!  St. Francis de Sales says, that, as the singing of the nightingale in the wood surpasses that of all other birds, so the voice of Mary is far superior to that of all the other saints. In a word, there are in Paradise all the delights which man can desire.”[4]

St. Alphonsus explains how these pleasures of the senses are nothing compared to the actual Beatific Vision.  In his next point he concentrates directly on this Vision.

3) We see now through a glass in a dark manner, but then face to face.” (1 Cor. 13:12.)  St. Alphonsus explains: “The delights of the soul infinitely surpass all the pleasures of the senses. Even in this life divine love infuses such sweetness into the soul when God communicates Himself to her [viz., the soul], that the body is raised from the earth.  St. Peter of Alcantara once fell into such an ecstasy of love, that, taking hold of a tree, he drew it up from the roots, and raised it with him on high.”[5]

St. Alphonsus continues:

How great is the sweetness which a soul experiences, when, in the time of prayer, God, by a ray of His own light, shows to her [viz., the soul] His goodness and His mercies towards her, and particularly the love which Jesus Christ has borne to her in His passion! She feels her heart melting, and as it were dissolved through love.  But in this life we do not see God as He really is: we see Him as it were in the dark. We see now through a glass in a dark manner, but then face to face.”  (1 Cor. 13:12.)  Here below God is hidden from our view; we can see Him only with the eyes of faith: how great shall be our happiness when the veil shall be raised, and we shall be permitted to behold God face to face!  We shall then see His beauty, His greatness, His perfection, His amiableness, and His immense love for our souls.[6]

In the three points above St. Alphonsus gives us beautiful incentives to long for heaven in a speculative or thoughtful way, but he adds another incentive which is more of a practical one as well:

4) God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Apoc. 21:4).

Concerning this point, St. Alphonsus tells how our earthly trials will end, saying:

But, after entering into Paradise, the blest shall have no more sorrows. God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”  The Lord shall dry up the tears which they have shed in this life.  And death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow, shall be any more, for the former things are passed away. And He that sat on the throne, said: “Behold, I make all things new.” (Apoc. 21:4, 5.)  In Paradise, death and the fear of death are no more: in that place of bliss there are no sorrows, no infirmities, no poverty, no inconveniencies, no vicissitudes of day or night, of cold or of heat.  In that kingdom there is a continual day, always serene, a continual spring, always blooming.  In Paradise there are no persecutions, no envy; for all love each other with tenderness and each rejoices at the happiness of the others, as if it were his own.  There is no more fear of eternal perdition; for the soul confirmed in grace can neither sin nor lose God.[7]

St. Alphonsus then adds these consoling words:

In beholding the beauty of God, the soul shall be so inflamed and so inebriated with divine love, that she [viz., the soul] shall remain happily lost in God; for she shall entirely forget herself, and for all eternity shall think only of loving and praising the immense good which she shall possess forever, without the fear of having it in her power ever to lose it. In this life, holy souls love God; but they cannot love him with all their strength, nor can they always actually love him.  St. Thomas teaches that this perfect love is only given to the citizens of heaven, who love God with their whole heart, and never cease to love Him actually.[8]

These extracts from St. Alphonsus’s beautiful sermon truly show us that we should beg God for a great desire for heaven.  When one asks God for something which is good for the soul, God answers the prayer in a marvelous way. Our Lord Himself told us to seek the kingdom of heaven, saying, “Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.” [St. Matt. 6:33].

Once God sparks the flame of this desire in the soul, all the things in this world cease to have any real charm or attraction.  This earthly journey is viewed as only an exile because the soul longs for heaven so much.

It is truly an undeserved blessing from God to have a desire for heaven and to be able to see through the allurements of the world—travel, entertainments, and shallow amusements. Then a soul sees the sheer emptiness of this world and all creatures in comparison with God.  God becomes more and more the absolute center of one’s life. God really comes first and He is the basis for all decisions made.  If a soul has this blessing, it is evident because this blessing is very tangible.  Indeed, the soul shutters in fear of losing this insight from God and this objective view of life, of time, and of eternity.  He finds himself begging God to allow him to keep this objective view. In fact, he finds himself begging that God won’t allow him to abandon objective truth.  This outlook is so undeserved.  One knows this to the very marrow of one’s bones.  One feels grateful and tells God thank-you.  With the flame of desire for heaven lighted in the soul, one yearns for heaven everyday more and more and the evils of the present life make our exile here felt evermore keenly.  One could naturally find himself wanting to soar to the heavenly heights to be united with Our Lord, Our Lady, and our heavenly helpers. The soul might express its longing in words such as these:

Oh my soul it is time to die,

For all thy hopes in God must lie,

Doing penance is the sure way,

To break free from the world each day.

 

At the same time desire does grow,

And a need of God more to know,

Detaching thee from worldly cares,

 Well aware of, all of life’s snares.

 

Then with eyes raised, to thy true home,

Keep thou focused, want not to roam,

‘Cause earth is, a distracting sea,

Make it to have, no part with thee.

 

Then burning in thy heart will flame,

Yearning for heaven thy sole aim,

Eye hath not seen, nor ear hath heard,

Desire for heaven is now stirred!

 

 St. Alphonsus teaches so well,

Aching for heav’n, the heart must swell,

Ev’ry delight for ev’ry sense,

Our heart was made that we go hence.

 

Heav’n is more than just higher goal,

‘Tis the one desire, of a soul.

 To stay ever with Love Divine,

Aspire for this, oh soul of mine!

 

Far better than mere sight or sound,

For Divine View, we must be bound,

To keep in mind this View sublime,

The goal of each step, in life’s climb.  

 

 The fulfillment of ev’ry hope,

The one purpose of this life’s scope,

To land safely on heaven’s shore,

Where grief will end forevermore.

 

This wicked world with wicked trends,

My soul and it will ne’er be friends,

This fact makes it easier still,

To want to ever do God’s Will.

 

To burn with more intense desire,

Dear Mary help me to aspire,

So when my death breaks earthly ties,

My soul with thee may ever rise.



[1]           Sermons for All the Sundays in the Year, by St. Alphonsus M. Liguori, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus M. Liguori, by the late Very Rev. Nicholas Callan, D.D., Roman Catholic College, Maynooth, eighth edition. Dublin, James Duffy & Sons, 15 Wellington Quay; and London, 1 Paternoster Row. 1882. Dublin.  (Emphasis in the original).

 

[2]           Sermons for All the Sundays in the Year, by St. Alphonsus M. Liguori, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus M. Liguori, by the late Very Rev. Nicholas Callan, D.D., Roman Catholic College, Maynooth, eighth edition. Dublin, James Duffy & Sons, 15 Wellington Quay; and London, 1 Paternoster Row. 1882. Dublin.  (Emphasis in the original).

[3]           Sermons for All the Sundays in the Year, by St. Alphonsus M. Liguori, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus M. Liguori, by the late Very Rev. Nicholas Callan, D.D., Roman Catholic College, Maynooth, eighth edition. Dublin, James Duffy & Sons, 15 Wellington Quay; and London, 1 Paternoster Row. 1882. Dublin.  (Emphasis in the original).

 

[4]           Sermons for All the Sundays in the Year, by St. Alphonsus M. Liguori, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus M. Liguori, by the late Very Rev. Nicholas Callan, D.D., Roman Catholic College, Maynooth, eighth edition. Dublin, James Duffy & Sons, 15 Wellington Quay; and London, 1 Paternoster Row. 1882. Dublin.  (Emphasis in the original; bracketed words added for clarity).

[5]           Sermons for All the Sundays in the Year, by St. Alphonsus M. Liguori, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus M. Liguori, by the late Very Rev. Nicholas Callan, D.D., Roman Catholic College, Maynooth, eighth edition. Dublin, James Duffy & Sons, 15 Wellington Quay; and London, 1 Paternoster Row. 1882. Dublin.  (Emphasis in the original; bracketed words added for clarity).

[6]           Sermons for All the Sundays in the Year, by St. Alphonsus M. Liguori, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus M. Liguori, by the late Very Rev. Nicholas Callan, D.D., Roman Catholic College, Maynooth, eighth edition. Dublin, James Duffy & Sons, 15 Wellington Quay; and London, 1 Paternoster Row. 1882. Dublin.  (Emphasis in the original).

[7]           Sermons for All the Sundays in the Year, by St. Alphonsus M. Liguori, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus M. Liguori, by the late Very Rev. Nicholas Callan, D.D., Roman Catholic College, Maynooth, eighth edition. Dublin, James Duffy & Sons, 15 Wellington Quay; and London, 1 Paternoster Row. 1882. Dublin.  (Emphasis in the original).

 

[8]           Sermons for All the Sundays in the Year, by St. Alphonsus M. Liguori, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus M. Liguori, by the late Very Rev. Nicholas Callan, D.D., Roman Catholic College, Maynooth, eighth edition. Dublin, James Duffy & Sons, 15 Wellington Quay; and London, 1 Paternoster Row. 1882. Dublin.  (Emphasis in the original; bracketed words added for clarity).

 

Thoughts on Death: to Die to Oneself

Objective truth series – Reflection #20 — dying to oneself and preparing for death at the same time.

In our last reflection we considered how we have to work out our salvation in fear and trembling.  This work must be unto death.  We cannot stop working with fear and trembling until we have drawn our last breath, knowing that Jesus Christ in His Human Nature will meet us Himself to judge us.

At death the soul seems to recede out of the body—the limbs become colder and as in fainting or being anesthetized, everything [all one’s surroundings] seem to be going farther and farther away.  This is known from people who have been resuscitated and have told what they experienced.   We also know of this type of thing from the lives of the saints— those who were miraculously raised from the dead, and from apparitions of souls from purgatory.  Thus, the soul seems to distance itself from the body and then, of course, the substantial change of the soul actually leaving the body is one horribly painful moment.

This is a very sobering thing to reflect upon.  We must die to ourselves and distance our souls from our bodies now.  We show true love for ourselves and our bodies by thinking of the eternal happiness for our souls and bodies, particularly, by the practice of penance here in this life.  The soul will show love of the body by treating the body distantly, namely, trying to distance one’s will from his material body. When the soul becomes detached from the body in this manner, it consequently will be detached from other material things.  By thinking of the reality that at death our souls must really leave our bodies, it makes the thought of doing penance more acceptable to our wills.  In other words, this gives us an additional incentive and desire to do the penance that Our Lord says is necessary for our salvation.  Let’s face it, even though Our Lord tells us authoritatively that we will perish if we do not do penance, we are not frightened enough to do what is necessary for our souls.

Yet we know that the denial of ourselves is necessary for our salvation by just reading the following quotes from Our Lord Himself:

·         “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, itself remaineth alone. But if it dies it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it and he that hateth his life in this world keepeth it unto life eternal.” (St. John 12:24-25)

 

·         “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (St. Luke 9:23)

·         “No, I say to you: but unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish.” (St. Luke 13:3) and a little farther on He says, “No, I say to you: but except you do penance, you shall all likewise perish.”

 

·         “But he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved.” (St. Matt. 24:13)

 

·         “And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away.” (St. Matt. 11:12).

These words inspire awe and sobriety indeed!  Likewise, Our Lady in her apparitions at La Salette, Lourdes, and Fatima, insists that we Catholics pray and sacrifice for the salvation of our souls and for the conversion of sinners.

Holy Mother Church, the Mystical Bride of Christ, has taught throughout the ages, the importance of doing penance for the reparation of our sins.  We have the season of Lent which is always penitential and had always provided the faithful with the obligation of doing penance.  (Unfortunately, the Conciliar Church, has done away with almost all obligatory penance.)

Yet the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent and the Ember Days are not all the penance that is needed.  Our Lord, Our Lady, and the many saints have all exhorted us to undertake a life of penance in order to discipline our passions and curb/root out our vices. 

Furthermore, we all need to make reparation for all of our sins and this is reason alone to do penance, but our motive for doing penance must be higher than this. We must certainly consider how doing penance and dying to ourselves have many wonderful consequences such as the following:

1) Shows Our Lord that we love Him;

2) Shows Our Lord that we want to be His true friends and disciples;

3) Makes reparation for our past sins and the sins of the world;

4) Makes our souls more Christ-like, precisely because penance disciplines the soul     and purges out vices and imperfections;

5) Prepares our souls for a holy death by strengthening the soul and detaching ourselves from the world;

6) Makes us more selfless; and

7) Gives us more of a longing to be with Our Lord.

Our Lord suffered from the moment of His conception to His last breath on the Cross.  We should desire to imitate Him.  In other words, we should be willing to suffer out of love for Him.  We certainly want our love for Christ to grow.

 In order to imitate Christ, He tells us to follow His examples of selflessness. He Himself said that the Son of Man has no place to lay His Head.  The Gospels are full of details to ponder on the countless ways in which we can imitate Our Lord.

Basically, by dying to ourselves through doing penance to discipline ourselves, we imitate Christ and thus increase our love for Our Lord.  However, we mustn’t forget that by dying to ourselves in our daily lives, it is actually preparing ourselves for death.  What a wonderful precept of Divine Wisdom to command something that has so many beautiful and efficacious consequences for our souls!  How good God is!

In addition to His command to die to ourselves, God also gives us so many examples in the lives of the Saints showing us how to go about doing this internal death through penance.  The edifying examples of the saints give us much encouragement and inspiration for our lives.  The Saints show us how doing penances and offering up our crosses really does lead to a holy life and hence, to a holy death.

One such beautiful example is dear St. Paul who encourages us to die to ourselves when saying, “But I chastise my body and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.”(1 Corinth. 9:27)

We should thank God for His loving warnings, and for giving us so many encouraging examples of penance in the lives of Our Lord, Our Lady, and the Saints.   Let us not forget to beg our dear Heavenly Mother, the Mother of Sorrows, and St. Joseph, the Patron of the Dying, to help us die to ourselves daily.  With these means we will be preparing for death as we journey towards death and our hearts might express our tenderest feelings to Our Lord thus:

Oh dearest Lord thou hast us shown,

How of our lives, too fond we’ve grown,

We’ve been too attached to the earth,

We’ve not noted, our souls’ full worth.

 

Yet thou hast taught us by Thy Life,

That ours with pleasures have been rife,

 Penance is the most needful cure,

To die to self we must endure.

 

To prepare our souls for our death,

We must work until our last breath,

And kill the old man in our soul,

Make ready for life’s final goal.

 

And other motives, there are too,

That make penance, crucial to do,

To increase in hearts, love divine,

To things of heaven, to incline.

 

A profound friendship ‘twill inspire,

And kindle our hearts with new fire

Making repairs for our past wrongs,

To Him to whom our debt belongs.

 

True penance is not just for pain,

Hoping only, for us to gain,

Some credit or to inspire awe,

But, because our passions, are raw

 

We know that we need, them to train,

Easier to keep them, in rein,

While doing battle here below,

With this can our love, for Christ grow.

 

Our Lady will help us not tire,

To follow His Path with desire,

And His Divine Precepts to keep,

And be always a faithful sheep.

 

Beseech St. Joseph at our side,

To a holy death he’ll us guide,

With heav’nly helpers we can be,

Safe like them for eternity.

 

St. Paul says, “To die is to gain,”

Our Lord says, to die like grain,

If we die to ourselves in time,

Then for us can death be sublime.

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.

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.

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.

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!

 

The Exquisite Blessings of Possessing the Truth

Objective truth series Reflection #15

Our reason is such a wonderful faculty given to us by God.  By our reason we come to the knowledge of truth as we discussed in the last Reflection.  In this Reflection we intend to consider the moral obligation we have to use our reason, and to see how by using our reason and the light of our Faith, God directs and protects our souls. 

One way we can learn about our moral obligation to use our reason is by looking at 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].  

Our Lady teaches us through St. Ignatius how crucial it is for man to use his reason to make the proper distinctions between what creatures are good for man – which help him attain his end – and what creatures are harmful to man in attaining his end.

God expects us to use our reason because He created us rational.  For Our Lord says, “… some fell upon good ground; and being sprung up, yielded fruit a hundred-fold.  Saying these things, He cried out: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” St. Luke’s Gospel, 8:8.

We know we are obliged in conscience to use our reason.  In fact, when we use our reason, we can know God’s Will for us.  One example of this is that the errors of our times become self-evident.

It is almost as if God rewards us for using our reason.  Nevertheless, it is His Will that we use our reason.  We should value the fact that God made us with the use of reason.  God intends that we perfect our intellects by learning more and more about Him and His wonderful creation.

Consequently, we are properly humbled when we learn more because we see how very small we are compared to God, His creation, and particularly His holy angels.  We begin to count knowledge as a blessing which we are so unworthy to have.  How great God is!  We know that we are so blessed to have the truth!

In our times of great apostasy, seeing reality is a precious blessing.  Many souls do not see the obvious.  As Our Lady of Fatima said, “Many souls are going to hell because they have no one to pray for them.”  Hence, we can see that truth is a gift from God and He is not obliged to give it to us.

As we said in the previous Reflection, “Truth is the mind’s conformity to reality.” What is the highest reality man can know?  It is in the realm of theology and knowing about God Himself.  Where can we discover this knowledge about God?  Of course, the answer is from our Holy Catholic Faith.  In our Baptism we received this priceless treasure – our Faith.  With our Faith, we must be vessels of truth.  We must be apostles of truth in this pagan world.  We would not want to trade the Faith or any of the truth we hold, for anything in the world!  We cannot thank God enough for the Faith and the truth!

The following words of Our Lord are so consoling, “And you shall know the truth: and the truth shall make you free.”  St. John’s Gospel, 8:32. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No man cometh to the Father, but by Me.” St. John’s Gospel, 14:6.

And as we know from what Our Lord told us, “For many are called, but few are chosen”,[1] and “How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!”,[2] that Our Lord is telling us strongly how few is the number of the elect.  Therefore, to save our souls is a tremendous blessing and gift of God.  We know we must pray fervently to God to beg Him to allow us to be in the number of the Elect.

We cannot presume that we will be in the number of the Elect.  Yet, God wants us to remember through the virtue of hope, that He will not abandon us if we do not abandon Him.  Hence, we must pray earnestly to Him to help us never give up through proud despair.

We can easily conclude that when we simply ponder the fact that we do not deserve the gift of Faith, we see that God is lovingly protecting us in these times of dark apostasy.  All the more should we want to use our reason to the best of our abilities, cling to our God-given Faith, and pray for the gift of final perseverance.  But in addition to these, we should desire to stand up for the Faith and spread the Faith, remembering also Our Lord’s words, “And the unprofitable servant cast ye out into the exterior darkness.  There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth”.  St. Matthew’s Gospel. 25:30.  Remembering also that Our Lord says, “Unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required”[3], we would certainly want to show God our sincerest gratitude for the blessing of the use of our reason, and the tremendous gift of the Faith.  We really cannot thank God enough for these exquisite blessings.  Knowing that words cannot go far enough to express our gratitude, we might try, with something like the following:

Our use of reason, oh what joy!

God wants us, this tool, to employ.

Deeper and richer truths to know,

Can our intellect perfect grow.

 

Created our we, our souls to save,

For this end, our reason God gave.

 Countless benefits by good use,

And evil snares, we can deduce.

 

In these dark times, in which we live,

Grateful to God, that He doth give,

A way to see, more what He wills,

Thinking clearly, this improves skills.

 

Sadly, so few, try to inspect,

Deeply into, any subject,

They, at the surface, content stay,

With the flow of the breeze, they sway.

 

Thanks be to God, we know not to

Do the things that, the worldlings do,

Much farther we search and can see,

How God does not, want us to be.

 

Caught up in, the world’s silly mess,

Making little things, our distress,

 But to have, an eternal view,

Our souls are of the most value!

 

With reason, by Faith, perfected,

And praying to be elected,

We can know that our gifts are rare,

Of God, others seem, not to care.

 

We cannot give God enough thanks,

To be counted in the Faith’s ranks,

Undeserved are these, many gifts,

By which our soul, up to God, lifts.

 

Let us pour out our hearts and souls,

Praise God for giving us true goals,

Thankful for all the benefits,

Of our Catholic Faith and wits.



[1]           St. Matthew’s Gospel, 22:14.

 

[2]           St. Matthew’s Gospel, 7:14.

 

[3]           St. Luke’s Gospel, 12:48.

False Human Respect: The Deceit of the Devil vs. The Desire of Pursuing the Truth

Objective Truth Series – Reflections Article #14

In our last reflection we considered how God wants us to seek His help in our problems.  However, we must also consider that God intends that man have a desire for Him especially as our last end.  Because we were created to be with God, it is built into our nature to want to have knowledge of Him. Hence there is a natural seeking or desire to know God and truth.  It is God’s Will that we pursue this desire.  God wants to satisfy this thirst for the knowledge of the truth.

God wants us to perfect our intellects and He uses this way to draw our souls to Him.  Of course, He wants us to learn more about Him for His glory and not our own.  God captivates our minds while we are thinking about Him or any aspect of truth. 

Humans are created with the ability to ponder the facts about something and have a sort of mental discussion about these facts. Thus, we come to concrete conclusions and acquire knowledge of the truth.  In this way, God also sparks our desire to know Him more and more.   We then desire more Truth and we love Truth more, and, consequently, we’ll want God more and more.  “Thy Word is Truth,” says Our Lord in His prayer to His Father in St. John’s Gospel (Ch. 17:17).

St. Thomas defines truth as “the mind’s conformity to reality.”  When our minds are conformed to reality, we are seeing how the facts fit together to make a proper conclusion.  We indeed discover the truth.

God puts the delight of truth in our minds and hearts.  The soul has an excitement about truth within itself.  Therefore, our hunger and thirst for truth, once sparked, should grow and grow. “They that eat me, shall yet hunger; and they that drink me, shall yet thirst” [Eccl. 24:29].

So, with this hunger and thirst for the truth, there naturally comes a greater love for truth and a desire to spread the truth. “Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house.  So, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in heaven” [Matt. 5; 15-16].  Our Lord is telling us that we should not be ashamed of the truth. We should not be afraid to stand up for the truth.

“And I say to you, whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God.  But he that shall deny me before men, shall be denied before the angels of God,” says Our Lord in St. Luke’s Gospel [Luke 12; 8-9].   Here Our Lord is saying again to not be afraid of standing up for the truth, and to rejoice, to glorify God by spreading the truth.

The devil, on the other hand, hates the truth.  He tempts us to have a fear of standing up for the truth.  Of course, this fear is a false and irrational one.  This temptation is a typical tactic of the devil.  It is using shame in the wrong way.

When we just do things to please others and/or when we do not stand up against errors or unreasonable behavior because we are afraid to stick out, then we are betraying the truth.  This is a way of betraying Our Lord.  This betrayal comes from what is called false human respect or human respect pride.

Our Lord warned His Apostles of the way the world will view them, and, for that matter, us too. “You shall be hated by all men for My Name’s sake: but he that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved” [Matt. 10; 22].  And Our Lord says also, “Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” [Matt 5; 10] Further, “If the world hates you, know ye, that it hath hated Me before you.  If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” [John 15; 18-19]

Our Lord tells us not to worry by saying, “And I say to you, My friends: Be not afraid of them who kill the body, and after that have not more that they can do.  But I will show you whom you shall fear: fear ye him, who after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell. Yea, I say to you, fear him” [Matt 12; 4-5].

Our Lord consoles and reassures us, “In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world.” [John 16; 33]

We live in neo-pagan times of the great apostasy.  Common sense, reason, and truth are attacked viciously everywhere.  Political correctness is the modern world’s term used to describe exactly what Our Lord forbade, namely, speaking and doing the things and actions which the world favors, but which are against God and His commandments.  

In our times there is a tremendous pressure and tension throughout the world for all humans to succumb to the modern world’s immorality.  It really reminds us Catholics of what is referred to in the Apocalypse 13; 15, “And it was given him to give life to the image of the beast, and that the image of the beast should speak; and should cause, that whosoever will not adore the image of the beast, should be slain.”

However, when we read the following in the Apocalypse:  

Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to render to every man according to his works.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.  Blessed are they that wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb: that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city.  Without are dogs, and sorcerers, and unchaste, and murderers, and servers of idols, and every one that loveth and maketh a lie ….  Apocalypse 22:12-15.

We should be terrified to not tell the truth.

These quotes should make us long for the truth all the more.  Likewise, they should urge us to stand up for the truth, fully knowing that this is what Our dear Lord expects of us.  They also fill us with the fear of human respect pride and make us want to humbly speak out to tell the truth.

Besides praying for the grace of final perseverance, we should pray for the love of the truth – that we have a deep devotion to the truth; that we always seek the truth; and that God gives us the fortitude to be willing to suffer and die for the sake of the truth.  With all of the powerful words of Scripture to remind us about truth, and the delight we take in learning the truth, maybe our hearts would swell to say the following:

Oh, the science of truth, Divine,

Thou, man is made to know, by design,

Thou, the First Cause, Thou, Our Last End,

Thou, to learn, our life, we must spend.

 

By pondering, of facts we find,

Proper conclusions, come to mind.

One’s seeking Thee, becomes desire,

And, an ever-increasing fire,

 

E’er thirsty and hungry, are we,

To know more and more, about Thee.

To fill the soul, more with Thy light,

Becomes now, our only delight.

 

Oh, then Truth, becomes our sole love,

Humility, a proper fruit of,

Only truth can make us replete,

Our satisfaction to complete!

 

 No wonder, we wish to adore,

We do seek, ever more and more,

Oh, Truth, for Thy own sake alone,

We want to possess for our own.

 

‘Cause for this end, didst Thou us make,

Thus to live and die, for Truth’s sake,

That Thy truth, we ever pursue,

To Thee, keep our hearts, ever true.  

 

And if we the whole world could gain,

By smearing the truth with false stain, 

Then our friendship with Thee, would cease,

And would destroy, our inner peace.

 

Friend of the world, and friend of Thee

Could never reality be,

To focus on how we are viewed,

To worry e’er, how we’re construed.

 

E’er trying with the world to fit,

With our conscience, does not well sit,

This nightmare’s easy, to deflect,

Put aside, false human respect.

 

Only Sin alone, should we fear,

Not say things, just to please the ear,

May we the courage to ne’r seek,

To agree with fads, from week to week.

 

‘Cause truth does not change, nor should we,

With error in harmony be,

We must e’er pray, ready to fly,

The worldlings who want us to lie.

 

With Truth may we ever abide,

And long to stay, on Our Lord’s side,

In this earthly sojourn, truth love,

Desire to be with Truth above!

Humility Fostered by Seeking God

Objective Truth Series – Reflections article #13

We have considered[1] how God sculptures our souls, how He leads us, teaches us about ourselves, gives us tools and weapons to keep pride at bay, reveals to us His bountiful blessings that He has bestowed on each of us individually, and by all of this, He primes the fountain of gratitude in our hearts. Yet another method God uses to sanctify our souls is sending or allowing us precious crosses through the circumstances in our lives. He tests us to see if we will look to Him to find the solutions to our problems and with His remarkable Wisdom, He teaches us humility at the same time.

We frail humans are too focused on our problems and we rack our brains to find solutions to them.  When we approach problems in this manner, we are bewildered by them. Ironically, as soon as we place our problems fully in God’s Hands, that is, realizing intellectually our helplessness, then we will be humbling ourselves. It is only then that we will be able to see this method of God’s humbling us by sending us challenging circumstances. Furthermore, by abandoning ourselves to God, amazingly the problems begin to fix themselves or we see solutions appear, simply because we entrust our problems to God, knowing that truly only He can fix them. In this way, we are resigning ourselves to God’s Holy Will.

“Whoever looks for God is not without God even if he has not found Him,” says St. Augustine [Dei vita beata].

“Seek and you will find”, says Our Lord.  It is the seeking that God wants. He wants us to see our helplessness and seek, seek, and seek, which means desire, desire, and desire.  He alone can console the soul and comfort her in her difficult trials. Remember, too, that God inspires this desire we have, namely, this seeking.

God mercifully gives this intense longing and this intense spiritual pain to a particular soul because He wants that soul to ache for Him and not rest until she has found Him, namely by taking her eyes off of herself and her perceived problems, and setting her eyes on Him Who is in charge. This redirecting of the soul’s eyes is an act of humility. God is our Master and our teacher in the school of sanctity. We must struggle to keep our spiritual eyes fixed on God and what He wills and directs us to do.

 Let’s face it: the world has so many problems, especially moral ones, in these times of apostasy.  We won’t add a single cubit to our height by excessive worry.  We cannot solve any problem by ourselves. The best means to solving problems is by prayer and by seeking God’s guidance through prayer. Prayer is the window that sheds God’s light on our poor darksome souls. “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” [Ps. 26:1] Remembering this in frequent acts of humility can help us tremendously to keep seeking God’s guidance. St. Alphonsus de Liguori says, “Prayers such as these should restore peace to your soul, for no one has ever been lost who has placed his trust in Him [God].” With great longing for God’s guidance, let us seek through prayer to find God’s answers. It is with seeking that we could also find our hearts pouring out something like what follows:

‘Tis with aching hearts, we do seek,

To find Our Lord, with Him to speak,

To tell Him all, of our poor woes,

He knows all, the tricks of our foes.


Nothing can we, solve without Him,

Our souls are dark, and all seems dim,

Without His aid, we always will fret,

Then no problem can, be solved yet.


 Still we toil, our problems to fix,

Then we see how, we have solved nix,

Alas!  Then find we, are forced to turn,

To the One for Whom, we must yearn,


The One Who all, the answers knows,

Whose tender care, for us e’er shows,

Our troubled hearts, in anxious fear,

Find that only God, can our hearts hear.


 If we, with desire, our prayers let fly,

 Do seek guidance, from God on high,

We’ll see solutions, soon are there,

Those of which, we were unaware.


The Lord wants us, to seek and find,

He cares for us, our peace of mind,

‘Cause with seeking, our desires increase,

To find Him and, to be at peace.


Humility, comes to the soul,

Who seeks God first, as his one goal,

God wants our seeking, so He can,

Fulfill in us, His Divine plan.

           



[1]            To read the previous reflections articles, use this link: https://catholiccandle.org/category/resources-for-faith-and-practice/on-working-for-holiness/objective-truth-series/