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/

 

Gratitude as a Birth of Humility

Objective Truth Series – Reflections article # 12

In our last Reflection we considered how God works marvelously on our souls in order to instruct us on how to avoid pride. Likewise, we saw how God, by teaching us more about ourselves, is in reality, revealing to us more of what He Himself is doing in our souls. God does so very much for us. 

In St. Basil’s sermon The First Commandment he expounds beautifully about God’s blessings upon us:

1.    “God had made man to His own image and likeness, and honored him with a knowledge of Himself, and endowed him above all living creatures of the earth with the gift of reason, and prepared for his delight the inconceivable joys of paradise”;

2.    “[He] made him the first of earthly creatures”;

3.    “Even after he [man] had been deceived by the devil and had fallen into sin and through sin into death and into things that deserved death, that even then He [viz., God] did not abandon him, but first gave him a law to help him, placed him under the protection of His angels, sent prophets to rebuke his wickedness and teach him justice”;

4.    “The goodness of the Lord has not abandoned us. Nor have we deprived ourselves of His love for us through our own folly: treating lightly the One Who has done us so much honor. We have even been recalled from death and restored again to life through Jesus Christ Our Lord Himself.  And even the way in which this great goodness was shown to us is wondrous beyond measure.”

St. Basil continues, “He has taken our infirmities upon Him; He has borne sufferings, He was wounded for us, and by His wounds we were healed [Is ch. 53, 4]. He has redeemed us from the curse (of the law), being made a curse for us (Gal. ch. 3, 13); endured for us a most shameful death, that He might bring us back to a glorious life.  It was not enough to recall the dead to life, He gave us also the dignity of His own divinity; preparing for all mankind an everlasting rest that surpasses in the greatness of its joy every thought of man.  What shall I render to the Lord for all the things He has rendered to me (Ps. 115, 12)  He is so good that He does not even look for the things He has given us, but that we love Him in return.”

St. Basil explains how we owe God gratitude in return for these blessings.

“Chief among those whom nature teaches us to love are those who do good to us. And this is a love not peculiar to man only; but is common to almost all creatures, leading them to love whoever had done good to them.  If then we have a natural love for those who are good to us, and will suffer anything for them to repay their goodness to us, what words can rightly praise the gifts that God has given us? They are so many as to be beyond number; so great, so wondrous that for one alone (creation) we should give all thanks to the Giver.”

In addition to what God has done for mankind, when we reflect, we can count so many blessings that He has showered upon us individually. God has protected us. He has enlightened us with the Holy Catholic Faith. He has shown us likewise how we can stand up for the truth. If we reflect and ponder His Mercies deeply, we find a flood of gratitude streaming from our hearts and perhaps tears running down our cheeks. How Good God is!

We cannot help but feel our littleness and unworthiness.  Surely, as St. Basil shows, we should keep the wonderful things God has done for us in our mind in order to foster a continual and ever-increasing gratitude in our souls.  Thus, humility can be born in our souls and spring forth a tender and beautiful intimate friendship with God.  Oh dear reader, if we could only give gratitude to God more and more, then a cascade of charity would surely flow from our hearts!  Further, Our Lord would be pleased to see His seeds of humility growing in our souls and that these seedlings are preparing us for Himself.  As often as we look back with 20/20 vision and count our blessings with awe and wonder, we would find that we truly would never want to forget God’s mercies and blessings that He has lavished upon us and we might desire to say the following:


Marvelous mercies, of my Lord,

These do pierce me, quite like a sword,

Bringing rivers, of grateful tears,

To see what Thou dost, through the years.

 

To ponder all, Thy creation,

Events, in every nation,

 Countless blessings, thou hast bestowed,

None of which, has ever been owed.

 

Consider only, one person’s life,

One can see it, with blessings rife,

Some are large, while others are small,

We’ve all been rescued, after all.

 

 Infinite Goodness, I now see,

So much that Thou hast, done for me,

And filled with, confusion am I,

The blessings I count, are piled high!

 

My unworthiness, I now feel so keen,

With counting blessings, I have seen,

O’erwhelming, ‘tis Thy Tender care,

My gratitude, I should not spare!

 

To count them oft, ‘tis a good thing,

To keep one e’er remembering,

To say prayers, to render one’s thanks

To let tears, overrun their banks

 

To give God thanks, could ne’r too much,

‘Cause God’s mercy, our hearts do touch,

One’s heart is swelling, with need to tell,

Our Dear Lord, that, we love Him well.

 

Thus humility, can be born,

From gratitude’s bountiful horn,

Then may God be thanked, in all ways,

So humble the heart, ever stays.

The Ladder of Objective Truth: God’s school of sanctity

Objective Truth Series – reflections article #11

In the last several reflections, we have examined how God sculptures souls, how He reveals what one should know about oneself through the corrections of others. We have also considered ways one can keep alert against pride and the subtle tricks of the devil who is always trying to ensnare souls in pride. We considered how Our Mother Mary teaches us tactics to counter the devil including making acts of humbling ourselves. It is rather like a student in a course of humility.

As the years of one’s life roll by, one often finds that he comes to certain landmarks of understanding. This occurs also in the spiritual school as well. God has an amazing way of bringing His Truth out, to what seems for a soul,—into a new light.  This new light is really the soul seeing things in a more objective way. Thus, this more objective way seems completely new to the soul.

God, in His Infinite Goodness and Wisdom, knows when a soul is ready to receive insights that God wants to give. God prepares the soul by events and circumstances and having the soul make incremental steps of minor understanding of how life works. God also prepares the soul to be open and docile to His Instructions, much like a farmer preparing the soil for seeds. The soul finds itself making certain comparisons and drawing certain conclusions that it never did before.

One finds himself amazed that something he sees now as so obvious, he never saw before.  Yet, one must keep in mind how God works on souls and he will certainly understand how God gave the seemingly “new” insight in the timing that was God’s alone. These insights are things that stay with the soul, in other words, the soul does not forget them. They are true learning and make permanent effects on the soul. In this way the soul feels itself drawn to a higher level, much like a mountain climber when he looks down after reaching a new height.

Gratitude comes over the soul and the soul finds itself thanking God and loving God more. This new insight may be something that seems to be an irony, a paradox, a contradiction, yet this insight turns out to be a show of God’s Infinite Mercy, Goodness, and Generosity. The insight delights the soul and the soul finds itself marveling in awe.  This insight is so unexpected that it could never be anticipated or imagined ahead of time.

For example, one could consider a man who liked electrical appliances and always liked to have the nicest and most convenient ones which were available on the market. However, it seemed that many of his appliances were breaking down very often and he spent a lot of time troubleshooting and/or replacing his appliances.  After dealing with what he considered “a cross” for a long period of years, one day it occurred to him while he was in prayer that God had been showing him that he was too attached to things of the world. The man was amazed at first that this idea had not come to him before.  Yet as he pondered the subject a bit more, it became clear to him that God revealed this defect to him now because he was ready to see it now, but had not been ready previously.

It is often in this way the soul finds the understanding of things that it never considered before. Then the soul often finds in itself a higher level of love for God sparked, that seems to come out of the blue.

Reflecting back, because hindsight is 20/20, one also finds that he accepts crosses with a more even temper.  He doesn’t find himself getting as annoyed with things as much as he used to. God is tempering the soul and calming it down and giving His peace to the soul. It is as if the soul becomes more indifferent to troubles.  The soul then can see God’s Will in all things. Likewise, one can then see the truth in St. Paul’s words, “All things work together unto the good for those who love God.”   Romans, 8:28. Therefore, the soul doesn’t fret but keeps its peace.  A soul could find itself saying inside the following words:

Gentle Master, thou hast me shown,

In all the years that, I have known,

Lessons learned, along my life’s way,

You have taught me, from day to day.

 

Thy mercy to me, wretch that I am,

Training me to be, a gentler lamb,

So I could seek, like Thee to be,

Thou makest things, clearer to me.

 

And step by step, this ladder I climb,

Of Thy Truth, evermore sublime,

Unworthy though, I know I be,

Yet wouldst bring me, higher to Thee.

 

Now I durst but, only thee beg,

Thou willst that I go up, peg by peg,

More grateful I find, myself to know,

Thou didst bring me, e’re I go.

 

Sublime Truth, for Thee I now thirst,

And now, for me Thou art first,

My one and only, heart’s desire,

‘Cause Thou hast kindled, my mind’s fire.

 

Oh ladder of, objective Truth,

I hunt for Thee, like a sleuth,

I’m grateful to be, in the seeking,

And that I am, in Thy keeping.

Frequent Acts of Humility: an Anti-Pride Medicine

 

Objective Truth Series – reflections article #10

In the last reflection we considered how important it is to look for and to want to do God’s Will and not our own.  We saw how seeking God’s Will helps us avoid frustration and discouragement.  We again saw the value of agere contra, as counterattacks to combat the devil.  Simply saying little quotes in one’s mind can have a tremendous impact on one’s attitude as well as help to foster acquired virtue.[1]  Because virtue is the repeated act of doing good and needs to be practiced over time, it is very important to repeat the action for any particular virtue sought.

Furthermore, Our Lord said, “He who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  It follows that Our Lord is encouraging us to make acts of humility often.  Thus if we repeat humbling thoughts and/or prayers, even small ejaculations frequently, we will get into the habit of thinking and putting ourselves in our proper place.

Since God is the Sculptor of souls, He chooses a soul; He loves that soul and then makes the soul worthy of His Love.  If we make acts of humility and self-abnegation, then God won’t chisel us so hard.  In fact, our frequent acts of humility which are inspired by Him, are in a sense, our cooperating with the Divine Sculptor.  Thence, as a consequence, our wills become more and more submissive to God’s Will.

We can make little acts of humility anywhere and just about any time. Some examples of these little acts are:

 “My life is in Thy Hands, O Lord.”

“Thy Will be done, O Lord, not my will.”

“O God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (500 days indulgence)

“Without Thee, Lord, I can do nothing.”

“Jesus, Meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.”

Of course, these acts of the will and acts of self-abnegation are very helpful if they pertain to our particular faults.  For example, if one’s particular fault is pride in the form of impatience, one could say things like:

“Lord, You know how frail I am and how impatient I get, please help me patiently accept Thy Will”; or

“Help me to seek Thy Will in all the circumstances that come to me.”

Or one could use an even harder-hitting abnegation such as:

“Lord, You know how I ridiculous I am when I get upset at the least thing that conveniences me; please help me let go of my irritable will and cheerfully accept every circumstance that comes to me.”

These acts of humility remind us that we are worthless compared to God.  They keep us more recollected and living in the Presence of God.  When we keep in mind that, “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (St. James, 4:6), these acts will help us persevere and keep in Divine friendship.  All in all, by saying frequent acts of humility, we can fight pride and foster the virtue of humility.  

These acts then become like our daily doses of anti-pride medicine.  This anti-pride medicine is something we should be glad to self-administer very often, knowing that this medicine helps our souls so much and by this medicine, we will be pleasing God.  With all these preventative measures against pride in mind, our hearts could gladly praise God in words like these:

Through humble acts, though they be small,

One is reminded, he can fall,

No one is safe and none secure,

‘Cause for we humans, pride’s a lure.

 

By simple quotes and simple prayers,

Help us not be, caught unawares,

Pride is subtle, and Satan sly,

Can’t be seen, with the naked eye.

 

‘Tis why we need, to keep alert,

And very often, to assert,

Our wretchedness, how we are low,

And by this means, virtue can grow.

 

These acts do build, virtue’s muscle,

Can ev’n be said, mid daily bustle,

They give a boost, to one’s morale,

And ‘round passions, keep a corral.

 

So little by little, God’s Plan,

Has a striking effect, on man,

God’s chisel works, as blow by blow,

One’s littleness, one comes to know.

 

So he wants not, to self-exalt,

And only wants, to see his fault,

Let only God, not man be praised,

Let man by God, alone be raised.

 

So with joy, let lowly acts come,

And ev’ry day, try to make some,

With medicine, doses ‘gainst pride,

We’ll find ourselves, e’er on God’s side.



[1]           There are two types of each moral virtue: 1) an acquired virtue; and 2) an infused virtue.  The acquired moral virtues come from repeated acts, e.g., repeated acts of temperance cause the acquired virtue of temperance.  By contrast, God gives us infused moral virtues (e.g., the infused virtue of temperance) along with sanctifying grace.

What manner of man am I? Dealing with Typical Human Tendencies – Frustration & Discouragement

 

Objective Truth Series – reflections article #9

 

In our last reflection we considered some methods on how we can be on our guard against pride.  We discussed how the devil can find our weak spot and subsequently attack us.  Two typical ways the devil works against us weak humans with our fallen human nature, is to tempt us with frustration and discouragement.  If we look at the word frustration, it is easy to see how it is precisely a tool of the devil.  The dictionary explains that the word frustration comes from the Latin word frustrare meaning to deceive, and then that frustra means vain, or useless.  The definition of frustrate is “1) to bring to nothing; defeat, also to nullify, and 2) implies a rendering vain or ineffectual all efforts, however feeble or vigorous.”[1] This shows the subtle trap of the devil who wants us to give up making any efforts.

 

This trap can likewise be seen in the following definitions for some synonyms of frustrate.

 

·         Thwart – frustration by running counter to one’s making headway.

 

·         Foil – a repulse that destroys one’s inclination to go further.

 

·         Baffle- a frustration by confusing or puzzling.

 

·         Balk – implies frustration by interposing obstacles or hindrances.

 

It is very interesting to note the thread that all these definitions have in common is that to be frustrated is not for our good.  One can see how frustrations are a diabolical trap to foster demonic pride – precisely because to be frustrated is to not put sole trust in God and His provident care for us.  It is to allow ourselves to get upset or discouraged because something did not turn out the way we wanted, namely, we didn’t get our way in something.  It encourages us to be self-centered and not God-centered which is how pride works.  Likewise, the devil uses frustration to foster discouragement in us so we give up trying to cooperate with God in our salvation.

 

“For if a man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass.  For he beheld himself, and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was.”  St. James, 1:23-24.

 

We forget what manner of man we are, namely, a creature who depends on God.  When we get frustrated, we simply forget our dependence on God and that we can do nothing without Him.  To be frustrated is to really not look for God’s Will in the circumstances at hand.  We must remember God allows circumstances for the greater good – “all things work for the good for those who love God.”  We must remind ourselves, “This is for my good.”

 

Likewise, when we are tempted to discouragement, it is important to note that this discouragement really comes from the devil because he wants us to think that we can accomplish something by ourselves, without God’s help.  And when we fail to succeed, we are disheartened.  This is the method the devil uses to get us to give up.

 

As we discussed in the last reflection, we must do an agere contra [counter–action] immediately in order to combat this trick of Satan.  For example, we must reflect that God wills that we suffer patiently and humble ourselves.  Moreover, the learning of virtue takes practice over time.  Other possible agere contras that we could say within ourselves are: “Everything is in Thy Hands, O Lord”; “Thy will be done, O Lord, not my will,” or “What will this [circumstance] matter after I’m dead?”

 

Another agere contra to use when one is discouraged, is to try to get one’s mind off of himself by thinking of the needs of others. For example, there are so many pagans in the world that need to be converted.  As our Lady of Fatima said that so many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray for them.

 

One could then think how much God has blest him with so many undeserved blessings.  Further, counting one’s blessings is another powerful way to go against Satan’s pomps and works and to foster humility.

 

Last, but not least, is to pray – whether it be an ejaculation or longer prayer – in order to fight against the temptation to be frustrated or discouraged.

 

With the above in mind one sees his great need to beg the Holy Ghost for His Light and His Grace to want God’s Will always to reign in us, and the following may come to mind:

 

 

O Holy Ghost, O Paraclete,

Why do I try, to e’er compete?

Against Thy Will, and what’s in store,

Why do I not, Thy guidance implore?

 

 

 

How could I think, my way is best?

And see events, as only a pest?

Why do I, second guess Thy Will?

And thinking, I know better still?

.

And as a result, I do find,

Only frustration, in my mind,

True peace within, cannot exist,

When I try, Thy Will to resist.

 

Then comes the, “feel sorry for me,”

Getting my fill of self-pity,

Discouragement, then takes its hold,

Shame on me, for being so bold.

 

Let me see, Lord, my only need,

Only with Thy Will, am I freed,

From endless worry in my life,

That there should not be any strife.

 

‘Tis only Thy Will, should be sought,

And only my will, should be fought,

Thou dost send me, what is sublime,

Looking for Thy Will, all the time.

 

There’s only one, true joy for me,

That is to stay, one heart with Thee,

Not for myself, anything seek,

I want to be, like Thee so Meek.

 

For this I pray, that Thou wouldst grant,

 Thy Holy Will, in my heart plant,

So firmly in me, I won’t desire,

To ever leave, Thy Guiding Fire.

 

Then e’er Thy Will, would be my goal.

Filling me, with wonder, in my soul,

Then thou wouldst be, Oh Paraclete,

My happiness, ever complete!



[1] Webster’s 6th New Collegiate Dictionary [emphasis added]

The Need of an Anti-Pride Filter

Objective Truth Series – reflections article # 8

We have considered in the last few reflections just how subtle pride is. Indeed, our fallen human nature is so prone to this vice. St. John says in his first epistle, “For all that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh and the concupiscence of the eyes and the pride of life, which is not of the Father but is of the world.”[1John 2:16]

Thus, knowing this about our fallen human nature, we see one of our weak spots in the fortress of our soul.  St. Ignatius of Loyola describes how the devil studies our souls in order to find our weakness and then tempts us in our vulnerable spot.[1]  It follows that if we know ourselves, then we can better be on guard against his onslaughts.

We well know that pride is a horrible enemy of our souls and that we must be on guard against, and fight this horrible sin. We can do this by watching all of our thoughts as they come.

Yet what should we do about our thoughts?

First we have to judge each in-coming thought and weigh if it will foster pride.  If we determine that the thought would lead us to the trap of pride, then what must we do with it?

In another of his rules for the Discernment of Spirits, St. Ignatius explains how we must do the opposite from what the devil suggests as a means to combat him. St. Ignatius calls this Rule the agere contra or “to go against”.[2]  By the agere contra we counteract the devil and foil his plans.

Consequently, for every prideful thought that comes, we must immediately knock it down with an agere contra humility thought. Thus, we could call this our anti-pride filter or shield.

 

Some possible agere contras are:

When someone compliments us, we should say, “Thank-you” and immediately give some praise to God Who deserves the glory of the compliment.

If it doesn’t work out for us to outwardly deflect the praise from ourselves and direct the praise towards God instead, then we should at least direct the praise to God internally.

Sometimes it can occur that internal compliments come to our mind, for example, thoughts, such as, “that wasn’t so hard.” or “I can’t believe that this [whatever venture] came out so well.” “Won’t the others be pleased when they see this?” “That came out great!” etc.  Then with these thoughts, we should counteract them saying within ourselves, “If it wasn’t for God that [whatever it was that pleased us] wouldn’t have happened.” Or “God inspired that, I didn’t, and I couldn’t have done that without His Aid. And/or “I can’t take any credit for that.”

Or again, sometimes a beautiful thought or truth comes into one’s mind, and then one should immediately remember that the thought came from God and was simply God’s inspiration.

 

Other helpful shields are:

One important filter/shield against pride is to not have a progress bar or a regression bar.

One should not measure himself or judge whether he is growing in virtue, because only God knows our hearts.  Likewise, one should not allow himself to be discouraged because he seems not to be advancing in holiness. Judging our own case is a dangerous trick of the devil, as St. Paul warns us, “But to me it is a very small thing to be judged by you or by man’s day. But neither do I judge my own self. For I am not conscious to myself of anything. Yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore, judge not before the time: until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts. And then shall every man have praise from God.”  1st Corinthians [4:3-5]

 

Watch critical thoughts [we need to go against them too]

If one finds himself getting critical and finding fault with his neighbor, he should recall to his mind the fact that he probably has that same fault in a most glaring and annoying way.

 Likewise, he should keep in mind that others have been so patient with him and have put up with him and his faults. It is important to remember that the Good Lord has been so patient and commands that one be patient and forgive his neighbor.

 

Memorize handy quotes to keep in mind as agere contra thoughts.

It is very helpful to have quotes from the Scriptures or from the saints readily available in one’s mind to recall, when tempted, especially when tempted to pride. One then might repeat and/ or ponder on the quote for some time. This has a very sobering effect on the soul and also is a consolation in times of temptation.

Immediately following this article is a list of quotes which may be helpful in starting such a mental list. Dear readers, if you have any additional ones to share, please send them along. God is so wonderful to allow the members of His Mystical Body to fight in the trenches together in this valley of tears.    

With all of these concepts in mind one can truly appreciate the Mercy of God and perhaps the following would come to mind:

On my heart, a guard must I keep,

‘Cause proud thoughts, therein do creep,

As subtle as, the serpent of old,

Who tempted Eve, to think so bold.

 

As to think she’d, like God could be,

By eating of, the forbidden tree,

Even now there, are countless ways,

In these troubled times, faithless days.

 

 Satan sees how, we all do lack.

He sneaks upon us, to attack,

And Satan likes; to puff our pride,

This keeps us firmly, on his side.

 

But how can one, keep him at bay?

Counter-‘tack him, without delay!

If he tempts left, get to the right,

If he tempts to be sad, stay bright!

 

If he fawns saying, “You are great!”

Then only the Lord, appreciate.

If he says, “You’re doomed to hell!”

Then think, “Only God knows me well.”

 

With dozens of quotes, in one’s mind,

Agere contras, one can find.

 Thus God does guide, the soldier-soul

And keeps one looking, on his goal

 

With tender care, God did us teach

How to keep out, of Satan’s reach

Mary helps us, with strategies,

Showing us how, her Son to please.

 

We ask Our dear, heavenly Queen,

To help us keep, our souls most clean,

And use the tools, she did provide,

To keep us close, to her Son’s side.

 

 Quotes to commit to memory in order to fight proud thoughts:

 “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” [Our Lord says to the father whose son was possessed by the devil]  The father replies, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” St. Mark 9:22-23

“For though I should have a mind to glory, I shall not be foolish: for I will say the truth. But I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth in me, or anything he heareth from me.” 2 Corinthians 12:6

St. Thomas Aquinas says, “Humility consists, above all, in the submission of man to God.”  Summa, Ia IIae, Q.161, a.3, objection 1 and its reply. 

Our Lord says, “Without Me, you can do nothing.”

“What hast thou that thou hast not received?  And if thou hast received, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”1 Corinthians, 4:7

“Bear ye one another’s burdens; and so you shall fulfill the law of Christ.  For if any man think himself to be something, whereas he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.”  Galatians, 6:2-3.

“The Lord is merciful and compassionate: long-suffering and plenteous in mercy.”  Ps. 102:8.

“Unless you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.” St. Matthew 18:3

“Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” Ps.126:1



[1]              The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Rules for the Discernment of Spirits Week One, Rule #14 [The Spiritual Exercises were dictated by Our Lady to St. Ignatius.]

[2]           The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Rules for the Discernment of Spirits Week One, Rule #12.

Taking Corrections Well

Objective Truth Series – reflections article #7

In the last reflection, we considered having a deeper mistrust of ourselves and practicing a real compassion on our neighbor.  On the one hand, it is a noble and commendable thing to want to instruct one’s neighbor. {Of course, the instruction must be done with charity and compassion, with one taking precautions that one doesn’t take any credit for the work, lest he become self-complacent.}

Yet, on the other hand, because we all are in need of amendment, one must consider well how he takes instruction, particularly corrections, from his neighbor.  We must always be open to the advice, the admonishments, and even criticism from others.  One could ask himself the question, “Why?” Then an answer could be, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” St. John’s first epistle, ch. 1:8.

Then further considering the Words of Our Lord, “For this was I born, and for this I came into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth.  Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice.” [St. John,18:37], we certainly would want to be open to the truth about ourselves.  And since we are usually the worst judges of our own case, it seems reasonable to listen to what others have to say about us.

Certainly, we would not want to scoff at truth as Pilate did by saying, “What is truth?”  St. John’s Gospel, 18:38.

Even if we thought rightly that our neighbor was wrong in his assessment of us, we would do well to consider that our neighbor may have hit the nail on the head in some respect.  In other words, our neighbor’s view of us could have some seed of truth in it; otherwise, the neighbor wouldn’t have noticed the thing he has mentioned to us.  (And he might be legitimately pointing out problems we have).  And because we must never try to judge the interior of another, we would do well to think our neighbor found some real flaw in us.  For example, perhaps we come across to our neighbor as being haughty in some way.

It is in the nature of man to react to stimulation whether from people or things.  Thus, it is part of the natural interaction between humans to notice things about one another.

Unfortunately, because we have fallen human nature, we often bristle when having our faults pointed out to us.  This is certainly a finger of pride creeping over us.  Often, in addition to giving in to irritation, we give in to feeling sorry for ourselves – which is really a form of discouragement.  If we look deeper here, we can readily see that discouragement is a form of pride. Why?  It is because of the disappointment in ourselves in the fact that we are not already perfect. What is the solution to learning to take corrections well? 

The happy solution is to think that since God has allowed the correction/warning/advice to happen, this incident must be God’s Will for us.  With this in mind, it is certainly easier to take the correction. In addition, one could really ponder God’s Providence deeper, by thinking about God sculpturing our souls. Then, we can find a great consolation that God deemed fit to communicate our correction using our neighbor as His Instrument.

Indeed, God uses His Creatures to do His Work.  Doesn’t Our Lord tell us to see Him in our neighbor?  We can think of the parable of the Good Samaritan, or what Our Lord tells us that He, Himself will say at the last judgment, “…Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to Me.”  St. Matthew’s Gospel, 25:40.

Oh, how wonderful God is to correct us so lovingly.  God does not cudgel us and we shouldn’t feel cudgeled when someone points out our failings to us.  We should see that our neighbor is trying to help us for the sake of love.  We should be grateful, thank God, and lovingly tell our neighbor “thank you”.  Then, begging God for His help, we should make every effort to amend.  Our soul would then count the correction as a great blessing from the Dear Lord and perhaps our gratitude would be expressed as follows:

“Sanctify them in Truth,” Thou hast said,

And our search for Truth, is our bread, 

“Thy Word is Truth,” Thou also spoke,

Thy burden light, as well, Thy yoke.

 

To know Truth, Thou dost me invite,

For with Thy Truth, I can delight,

An invitation, to know more,

Through inspiration, I can soar.

 

When a new truth, is shown to me,

Then I’m thrown, into reverie,

Why should I squawk, if someone see,

The flaw or defect, of my evil tree?

 

My fruits can be seen, that is clear,

By my neighbors, those near and dear,

Gratitude in my heart, should swell,

It is good to know myself well.

 

 Compare my darkness, to His Light,

 Get a clearer view, in my sight,

To see His Work, He makes me free,

 God carves off, the roughness in me.

 

Not so painful, His chisel chips,

And praise of Him, should be on my lips,

O Sculptor Divine, tell me all,

My weakness, ‘cause, through pride I fall.

 

Oh, dear Truth, Why should I Thee fear?

Why am I a coward, Thee to hear?

 Please plant in me, Thy fruitful seeds,

Thou knowest all, of my poor needs.

 

Thou willst for me, myself to know,

So that my love, for Thee can grow,

Correct me oft’, I now implore,

Thy Voice, from neighbors, I’ll adore.

Self-Complacence vs. a Real Compassion for My Neighbor

Objective Truth Series – reflections article #6

The last reflection showed how self-complacence is such a poison for souls because it leads to pride.  Because self-complacence is a satisfaction with oneself, it naturally leads one to think less of his neighbor.  This is why St. Paul warns us when he says, “Let nothing be done through contention[1]: neither by vain glory: but in humility, let all esteem others better than themselves” (Philippians, 2:3). 

The devil, having an angelic nature, knows how to trap us poor humans.  We must remember that the devil was the highest angel and his nature didn’t change with his fall, albeit that he is blind with his pride.  The devil tempted Eve with pride, and Adam fell through pride, by caring more about Eve than he did about God.  Thus, humans, through the fall of Adam, are blind.  The will is blind and needs the intellect to inform it, and pride is blind, thus, we have a sort of double blindness. 

And in this double blindness, it is so easy to get comfortable with ourselves and think that, after all, we are not so bad.  We fall into finding fault in our neighbor and not finding any fault(s) in ourselves.  As Our Lord said, we tend to look for motes in our brother’s eye and not see the beam in our own eye.

We can even think that we want to help our neighbor and instruct him on some point.  Yet, do we think carefully on whether it is our place to instruct him?  If we conclude that we should in charity instruct our neighbor, and/or stand up for the Faith, what steps do we take in our plan of action?  Do we consider ourselves carefully as St. Paul also warns, “Brethren, and if a man be overtaken in any fault, you who are spiritual instruct such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” (Galatians, 6:1).

One way to have a deeper mistrust of ourselves is to ask ourselves about our own motives for wanting to instruct another; to be sure that we really want to instruct for God’s glory and not our own. (e.g. “Am I seeking praise or recognition?”)

If we conclude that we want to instruct truly for God’s greater glory, then we must be careful about the method we use to instruct or help our neighbor as St. Paul further warns, “Bear ye one another’s burdens; and so you shall fulfill the law of Christ.  For if any man think himself to be something, whereas he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.”  Galatians, 6:2-3.  Again, St. Paul warns us, “Put ye on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience: bearing and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another: even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so do you also.  But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection” (Colossians, 3:2-14).

Thus, we must work for our neighbor with forbearance, patience, and mercy.  Obviously, one way to do this is to find out all we can about what our neighbor understands about the topic of instruction.  Then we can patiently work at our neighbor’s level and bring him slowly to the level of understanding which God has been so merciful to have given us.  (It may even happen that it is we ourselves who are ignorant of the truth and our neighbor actually ends up instructing us.)

In addition to these points, we should carefully consider our neighbor’s perspective based on his gender, temperament, background, upbringing, past experiences, and habits.  Then we can more easily put ourselves in his shoes in order to understand and compassionate him; thus imitating Our Lord.  “The Lord is merciful and compassionate: long-suffering and plenteous in mercy.”  Ps. 102:8.

This shows our neighbor our charity towards him, and that we are not looking down on him or pre-judging him.  Our neighbor can then feel that charity which is “the bond of perfection” of which St. Paul speaks.  Furthermore, our actions would also show our neighbor that we take St. Paul’s warning against contention seriously, and we want to be cautious and avoid becoming puffed up.

Our Lord not only had empathy (putting Himself in our shoes, as it were), but He actually took on human nature and became a man.  This also shows that He had more than empathy for us, but namely, compassion for us – so much so that He actually suffered and died for us.

Dear reader, is it not wonderful that Our Lord has shown us such wonderful examples of how we can be compassionate towards our neighbor and work in His Vineyard for love of Him!  Yet, with fear and trembling we do our work for Him and beg His mercy for us and our neighbor, saying, perhaps:

Oh Divine Lord, please do help me,

Compassionate on others be,

Without Thy help, I can know naught,

The truth I know, Thou hast me taught.

 

In these sad times, of such great need,

When souls are seeking the good seed,

Fill my heart with mercy like Thee,

So, Thy mercy, others can see.

 

We all need kind understanding,

And patience in befriending,

Forbearance Thou didst likewise show,

Thou wouldst for perfection to grow.



[1]           Contention = to strive in opposition or rivalry; to compete, to vie; to strive for superiority.

A Healthy Mistrust of Self

Objective Truth Series – reflections article #5

The last reflection was a consideration of how important it is to have a complete submission to, union with, and trust in the Divine Will.

God wants us to have trust in Him, in fact, to have complete confidence in Him. As far as we are concerned, He doesn’t want us to trust in ourselves alone.  Surely, He wants us to have confidence to use the abilities that He gave us and that He expects us to use to do our duty of state. He expects us to not be slothful, having an irrational fear of the difficult. He doesn’t want us to be cowards when it comes to doing our duty.

Furthermore, God expects us to not be lazy and shirk our duties because we don’t “feel” like doing them or because we want to relax. But having confidence in the human abilities that God gave us does not mean we have abilities above our nature, or that we should think that we are using our abilities perfectly. No one should imagine he can do things that are super-human or that he is perfect in any respect.

For example, we cannot know the thoughts of others. We often guess what others are thinking, but unless another communicates his thoughts aloud or in writing, we cannot know with any certitude what another is thinking. Thus, we cannot judge the interior of another. We can only judge the external actions (fruits) of others. To judge the interior is called rash judgment. St. John Chrysostom said, “You will not easily find anyone, either the father of a family or a cloistered religious who is free from rash judgment.”[1]

This quote ought to give us pause and give us a fear and a healthy caution over our thoughts and speech.

We humans get so self-complacent, in other words, self-satisfied, and from this, conceit grows in the soul. Self-importance takes control of the soul usually in a creeping, subtle manner, and, before one knows it, he has over-confidence in himself. “Wherefore, he that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall” (1st Corinthians 10; 12).  

A quote like this should prick one’s conscience. Questions then bombard the mind like: Am I self-complacent? Do I say things or act as if I have all the answers, even about a single subject? Do I act over confident? Do I act as if I have been looking down on others, in any way? Do I act as if I realize that any good I have, especially the faith, or insights, has been given to me by God and that I know I do not deserve them? “What hast thou that thou hast not received?  And if thou hast received, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”[2]  Do I forget this truth of which St. Paul reminds me? Do I acknowledge the gifts of God to me? If so, do I thank God for His gifts and tender mercies? Do I expect others to have received these same gifts and/or insights, and make all their decisions in the same manner that I make my decisions? And if others do not act in the same manner as I, do I look down on them as if they are big sinners or have something wrong with them?

Oh, how the conscience does prick when we realize how easily we humans get into this typical complacent frame of mind. We have to be so cautious and follow St. Paul’s advice, namely, “With fear and trembling work out your salvation” (Philippians Ch 2; 12). Likewise, we need to heed carefully Our Lord’s words, “Judge not, lest you be judged.” Here Our Lord is clearly warning against judging the interior of a person.

Nor can we forget our human roots, namely, how Eve was tempted with thinking she could become like God. The devil certainly knows how to trap us humans with this temptation and tries to puff us up. Self-complacence is one of the devil’s subtle tools to achieve this. Thus, we need to see that we need advice, and be willing to get advice. This will help us avoid self-complacence.

Our Lady explained the Rules for the Discernment of Spirits to St. Ignatius of Loyola, when giving him the Spiritual Exercises. She explained in Rule #5 in the Second Week that we must pay close attention to the course of our thoughts and look carefully at their beginning, middle, and end to see whether they are inspired by the good angel or the devil. This means a person must truly distrust himself and have a healthy mistrust of his own motive for acting. Again, Our Lady knows how the devil tricks us poor humans with self-conceit and, being Our Good Mother, she warns her children about his snares.

With all of the above in mind, perhaps our thoughts naturally will flow into something like the following:

Oh, my soul, if I have a treasure,

Am I grateful, or do I take pleasure?

Thinking this gem, is a gift self-bestowed

That it comes from God, to me, not owed?

Do I remember, my God to thank?

Am I really, with myself frank?

This gift, this talent, from where did it come?

Could I e’re pay for it, with any sum?

I am nothing, a worthless being

Whence this prize, that I am seeing?

Tis not really mine, to the Lord, belongs

Only He gets the credit, [only I do wrongs.]

God could punish, my self-conceit,

This would be fitting, would be meet.

That He could take, this gift away

And not make it last, not one more day

I must be grateful, give God His due

And rely on Him only, tis so true!

I need so much help, and advice

Each plan I make, I must think thrice

Where did it start, where does it lead?

Does it, my self-complacence, feed?

I must tremble, yea, I must quake

Do I work for me, or for God’s sake?

Dear Lord, help me ever recall

Self-complacence, is a trap for all

Help me ne’r judge, things in a flash

Help me avoid, e’er being rash

If I forget my need, of Thee, Lord

Love of self, will become a sword

Which will cut me, from what’s most dear

To displease Thee, give me healthy fear!



[1]           St. Thomas Aquinas quoting St. John Chrysostom in the Catena Aurea on St. Luke’s Gospel, ch.6, vv. 37-38.

[2]           1 Corinthians, 4:7.

God’s Will: Something to submit to, unite to, and trust in

Catholic Candle note: Below is an article by one of the Catholic Candle Team, which is the fourth in a series of reflections related to humility.  Here are the first three in this series:

  https://catholiccandle.neocities.org/faith/god-is-the-sculptor-of-souls.html

  https://catholiccandle.neocities.org/faith/gods-school-of-sanctity-humility-hunting-a-source-of-great-delight-for-the-soul.html

 

  https://catholiccandle.neocities.org/faith/our-nothingness.html

 

Sweet submission to God’s Will leads to

Uniformity with It and complete trust in God

 

Objective Truth Series – reflections article #4

Who doesn’t feel the need to be safe?  When there is a calamity of nature or some kind of disaster, we seek protection and to survive, and so it is with our souls. God made us this way.   We do ever forget our need of Him and His wonderful Providence, yet God’s draws the soul and teaches it, little by little.  He shows the entire need we have of Him, until finally, the soul is convinced, and has no doubt of its need. A little child knows for sure that he needs his Dad and Mom. The child delights even to see Mom or Dad return home and runs to embrace his parent. Oh, to please his parents is such sweetness! He understands his proper place as the subordinate to his parents. He knows his ignorance, sees what his parents have done and still do for him, and thus sees his debt and what he owes to his parents. Thus, he has such gratitude, and this all builds such loving willingness to please.

Furthermore, a child feels so safe to be in the arms of his parent, he doesn’t care if it’s hot and humid, he just wants to remain there. With such knowledge and confidence in his parents, a child also learns to have a like knowledge of God and a trustful surrender to God. Our Lord alludes to this when He says: “Unless you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.”  St. Matthew, 18:3.  With this trustful surrender comes such an all-embracing peace of soul that one does not doubt that God is in charge and planning what He wills to do for His friends.  St. Paul reminds us of our need to submit to God and to see ourselves as little children, when he teaches: “For this cause, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named.”  Ephesians, 3:14-15.

God’s Providence continually cares for and assists His friend – the soul of His adopted child.  How wonderful to ponder on this objective truth that we are really adopted children of God!  Now let us sincerely pray to live our true role in God’s eternal plan and lovingly trust Our Heavenly Father!  Then our hearts would perhaps spill over in the following words:

To see my needs is to count without number,

I am in Thy hands, O Lord, like a child in slumber,

How can I help, grateful to be?

When I see how thou carest for me?

 

My biggest need of all, is that I see,

My longing to say, that I love thee,

And I give Thee, a thankful embrace,

And I thankfully fall, before Thy Face.

 

I thankfully rest, once safely in Thy arms,

And I’m so overwhelmed, with Thy charms,

And with Thy wonderful care,

How could I ever wish or dare.

 

To run away from Thee,

Now knowing Thou wouldst ne’r abandon me?

Thou hast given me, complete desire to ev’r see,

That I am lost, if I run away from Thee.

 

But now my heart is filled,

To ever do, what Thou hast willed,

Thy Will is my heart’s desire,

My only safety, my only fire.

 

Oh, for Thy Will, I ever burn,

Oh, for Thy Will, my heart will e’er yearn,

Without Thy help, where can I be?

I need Thee, there is nothing in me.

 

Oh, sweet submission and surrender,

I unite my will with God, so tender,

I am cared for by Him, Whom I trust,

Into His Hands, my heart I thrust.

 

Where rest, peace, and safety I find,

To serve, and love Him with a child-like mind,

On this true view of things so sweet,

There my happiness— my joy complete!