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On the means of persevering in sobriety and abstinence April 13, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, Holy suffering, Interior Life, North Deanery, priests, religious, Tradition, Virtue.

Although we are in a great feasting season, traditionally, the Friday partial fasting and abstinence would still be in effect.  I’m abstaining from meat today, for instance (but you don’t have to, and incur no “penalty” if you pig out on meat today.  It’s just something I’m doing even though it’s Easter).  Doing so can be a great challenge at times, since the distinctive Catholic culture which was once so prevalent in many parts of the world has now largely been obliterated and subsumed by today’s materialist consumer culture, which says that life is a party and one should never be denied (save for prurient reasons like having a hot body).   St. Vincent Ferrer has some words to help us in this struggle:

In order to continue in abstinence and sobriety, live always in fear, remembering that this virtue comes only from God; and beg of Him grace to persevere in its practice. [the best we can do is cooperate with God’s Grace] If you would be upheld therein without failure, neither judge nor condemn others; stifle the movements of indignation which you feel against those who observe not the necessary rules in regard to eating. Pity them, pray for them, and excuse them as much as you are able. Bear in mind that you are no more than others in this respect; that it is Jesus Christ Who upholds you by His Grace, not in consideration of your merits, but solely by His Mercy. 

You will remain firm, if you cherish these thoughts. For, why have so many, who courageously began and made great progress, in abstinence and other virtues, fallen into bodily dejection and weariness of spirit?  It is becuase presumption and pride made them confident in themselves, and filled them with indignation against others whose judges they constituted themselves, and whom they interiorly condemned[d’oh!  A really good reminder for me!  Have mercy on me, Lord!]  Hence, God withdrawing from them the gifts of His Grace, they lost their primitive fervor; [I beg God this may never happen!] and falling into the opposite extremity and into a state of indifference, they have become sick and infirm; so that in the end, by striving to recruit their health, they have exceeded in this the bounds of strict moderation, and are become more delicate and intemperate than those whom they previously condemned. 

I have known many such who have fallen into this misfortune; God permitting, as usual, that they who rashly condemn others should fall into the same faults which they reprove, and sometimes even into much greater. [That’s it!  I’m shutting down the blog!] Serve then the Lord with fear and trembling; and when you are elated at the remembrance of His bounties which He has bestowed on you, reprehend and correct yourself, fearing lest He be irritated against you, and you perish by departing from the right path.  Act thus, and you will remain firm and stable; for these are the means most agreeable to the All-powerful Lord, whereby you can resist intemperance.

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Great stuff!  I love the reminder regarding judging others – it’s a constant occupational hazard of a blog like this! 

But most of all I love the reminders to live in fear and trembling, and never to become prideful in whatever spiritual progress we’ve made.  St. Teresa of Jesus is a great one for such reminders, as well.  We humans, or some of us at least, love to think we’re teh awesome!11!  There is always a temptation to think we can “work ourselves” to Heaven.  We can and must do good works to achieve salvation, but those works are gifts of the Most High – all we are doing is cooperating with His Grace!  Remember that always – Grace is the key!


1. Cori - April 14, 2012

That’s hilarious. No, don’t shut it down just yet. But, I have also found this to be true. The more I bug people about their eating habits, the fatter I get. The more I bug them to exercise, the more running injuries I gather.

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