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Perseverence September 8, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, General Catholic, scandals, Society.
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I received a real treasure of a book for my birthday.  This book had been referred to me by my wife’s aunt Agnes, mother of Sister Miriam James Heidland, SOLT.  It is called Divine Intimacy, and was written by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD.  The book is a year long devotional and meditative reader, apparently much preferred by Carmelites.  Fr. Gabriel dedicated his life to the study of union with God and the ways of life that lead to holiness, in pariticular guided by those two great Carmelites, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila.  I found the section on the virtue of perseverence, from the fifteenth week after Pentecost,  particularly valuable:

What most distresses souls of good will who are seriously trying to live a spiritual life, is to find themselves falling so many times, despite their continual and sincere resolutions.  When they begin a program of ascetism [or any program of spiritual development, I would think  – ED], they are usually very brave and have no doubts concerning their success; but being still inexperienced, and not having yet faced the demands of more advanced virtue, they know nothing of the struggles that await them on this way.  And herein lies the danger: meeting with new difficulties, they fall; they rise and fall again; again they rise, and shortly after, find themselves prostrate once more until they are, at a certain point, attacked by that most dangerous temptation: to give up the undertaking which henceforth seems impossible.  How many soulds have fervently begun the ascent of the mount of perfection, but discouraged by their continual falls, have stopped halfway up or even turned back, because they lacked the courage to begin anew every day and every moment?

Humility is needed for the exercise of courage; we must be convinced that in spite of our lofty aspirations, we are fallible men like all the rest.  Sacred Scripture affirms that the “just man shall fall seven times and shall rise again” (Prv 24:16); how then, can we, how are not just, pretend never to fall?

The real evil is not so much in falling, as in failing to rise…….

This treatise on perseverance goes on, but that is enough.  Like so much great spiritual wisdom, this seems particularly written for me.  Not too long ago, someone tried to cut me deeply by telling me that I was “arrogant and hypocritical.”  It did not have the intended effect, because I am very well aware  of these failings, and many more.  But what is truly discouraging, is when I think I may be advancing in some area of virtue and the elimination of vice, I find that, while perhaps that is true, and some small advancement has occurred, a new vista will reveal itself and I realize just how many faults and shortcomings remain –  a seemingly endless number, constantly threatening to multiply and grow beyond my ability to contain them and beat them back down to a manageable amount.   I may pat myself on the back for no longer being in active addiction, for having greatly reduced if not quite eliminated tendencies towards concupiscence, and then I realize that a) any advancement I have made has been due solely to the Grace of God, and b) I am not nearly so good as I would like to believe.  I have found that when some of these other vices have been knocked down quite a bit, others want to raise their head, and I find myself dealing with gluttony and other forms of intemperance.  When I read about the lives of the saints, there is a sense of inspiration, but also a sense of woeful inadequacy, almost a panic at the great distance between the conduct of my life, and theirs.

But, I know that it is also impossible to give up, that I must continue to try to go forward and advance in virtue to the extent I allow God’s Grace to triumph over my own miserable human nature.  Talk about countercultural – is there anything more countercultural in contemporary American culture to try to lead a life of self-denial, even self-abasement, and to live as fully as possible for Christ and serving others?  But it has always been thus.  It was countercultural to lead a faithful Christian life during Roman times, during the Dark Ages, during the Middle Ages, the Baroque period…..in any time.  God’s call to us, His challenge, if you will, is to see past the crude vaguaries of this matter that we think means so much, of which we are made and which surrounds us, to the true reality that is the existence that is totally consumated in serving Him, who should be our All. 

That is the amazing aspect of the Catholic Faith, the true Christian Faith, that is, in my experience, largely ignored by protestant sects and megachurches which seek to bend the Word to the service of men, rather than the other way around.  And, sadly, there are many Catholics who would do the same, who try to turn the Church into some sort of social benefit society and bend the unchangeable Doctrine of the Faith to be more pleasing to the whims of “modern” man.  But Christ doesn’t want us by halves, he doesn’t want us to come to Him conditionally, predicating our approach to Him by the dictates of our “conscience.”   He wants all of us, He wants us to throw ourselves at him without condition, and to cast off all the elements of our fallen human nature that we can, to lead a life as totally devoted to Him as possible.

It is an endless challenge.  I pray that with God’s Grace I may please Him in some small amount.

Comments

1. Steve B - September 8, 2010

Tantamergo,

Dude! With the book “Divine Intimacy” (the version based upon the Traditional calendar) you have for yourself a real TREASURE!!!

I bought the book myself a couple of months ago, and my family and I have even started using it on Saturday evenings to prepare for Holy Mass on Sunday (we read the Sunday readings, plus one of the excerpts of the meditation for Sunday from Divine Intimacy).

I asked Fr. Longua about the book before I bought it, and he highly recommended it. Although a bit pricey, it still worth EVERY penny.

ENJOY! As I’m sure you will for a LONG time….

Pax et benedictiones tibi, per Christum Dominum nostrum,

Steve B
Plano, TX

tantamergo - September 8, 2010

It is a true treasure. I need to think of a way to say thanks to my wife’s aunt. Aw, heck, my family is so small, she’s “my” aunt, too. I pray that I receive great growth from reading this book!


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