Why Mercy and Joy Without Penance Lead to Spiritual Barrenness September 1, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, different religion, episcopate, error, General Catholic, history, Liturgical Year, sanctity, scandals, secularism, Society, Tradition, Virtue.
A little blurb from Dom Prosper Gueranger below, intended originally for Easter, but applicable, really, to the entirety of the year. To make that applicability more clear, I alter the text, changing references to Easter to a more generic Sunday, but the truth, the message, remains the same.
The key point is that an inordinate focus on Sunday joy and open-ended mercy, without a call to conversion and penance, does not lead to great spiritual fruit, but to spiritual emptiness. There can be little Easter joy without a Lenten “sadness,” meaning penance, and this is something fundamental to human nature:
“There are certain carnal minds, that seem unable to open their eyes to spiritual things, unless roused by some unusual excitement; and for this reason, the Church makes use of such means. Thus, the Lenten Fast, which we offer up to God as our yearly tithe, goes on till the most sacred night of Easter; then follow fifty days without so much as one single Fast. [Gueranger makes plain, that it was long the practice in the Church, up to at least the 13th or 14th century, that during the Easter season, there used to be NO fasting of any kind, not even Rogation or Ember Days. I am not certain about Friday abstinence, but from what he has said, that may not have been observed at that time, either, as it was seen as being contrary to that most festive of seasons. The Church, in her wisdom and for a number of good reasons, changed that practice over the last 700 or 800 years, to what we have today] Hence it happens, that while the body is being mortified, and is to continue to be so until Easter Night, that holy night is eagerly looked forward to even by the carnal-minded; they long for it to come; and meanwhile, they carefully count each of the forty days as a wearied traveler does the miles. Thus, the sacred Solemnity is sweet to all, and dear to all, and desired by all, as light is to them that walk in darkness as a fount of living water is to them that thirst, and as a “tent which the Lord hath pitched” for wearied wayfarers.
What a happy time was that, when, as St. Bernard expresses it, there was not one in the whole Christian army, that neglected his Sunday duty, and when all, both just and sinners, walked together in the path of the penitential observances! Alas, those days are gone, and Sunday has not the same effect on the people of our generation! The reason is that a love of ease and a false conscience lead so many Christians to treat the law of penance with as much indifference, as though there were no such law existing. Hence, Sunday comes upon them as a Feast – it may be a great Feast – but that is all; they experience little of that thrilling joy which fills the heart of the Church on this day, and which she evinces in everything she does……They have not observed the fast, or the abstinence…..even the mitigated form in which the Church now presents them to her children, in consideration of their weakness, is still too severe for them! They seek a total dispensation from this law of mortification, and without regret or remorse. [And they receive it, even to the point of now being encouraged by the highest authority to obviate the moral law, as being too hard, or “unmerciful!”] How can the Alleluia find a response in the soul, when penance has not done its work of purification; it has not spiritualized them; how then, could they follow their risen Jesus, whose life is henceforth more of Heaven than of earth?
Hopefully the point is clear, typing it out, it didn’t seem to leap off the page quite as much as it did when I first read it. What is being said, is that the present emphasis of so many in the Church, and going back fifty years, is not working because it is contrary to human nature and contrary to God’s order of things. Penance before celebration. Conversion before salvation. Reversing them isn’t a shortcut up the long, narrow, rocky path of eternal life, it’s a diversion onto the wide highway of destruction.
My schedule on Gueranger is screwed up now, I’m almost done reading the entire series (well – almost = 6 months left on a 5 year project), so I’m just reading bits and pieces from each volume I hadn’t had time to get through before as I polish off the series. That’s why I’m reading Paschal Volume II during…….September.
Meh. You takes what you gets when you gets it for free.
I’m bailing early today for a long weekend, don’t know if I’ll have time for another post or not. If not, have a blessed weekend!