Powerful Sermon: Martyrdom on the Installment Plan February 22, 2017Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Domestic Church, General Catholic, Grace, Holy suffering, Interior Life, martyrdom, priests, sanctity, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
Wonderful sermon below from that priest who, for nearly two years, was much missed online as his sermons were no longer posted, but who returned late last year with good, new, relevant catechesis.
Most of us will not “get” to be red martyrs like so many of the greats from the early Church. Father relates the life and death of St. James Intercisus, a figure in the Zoroastrian court of Persia who became Catholic, apostasized under threat of loss of wealth and power, and then was martyred when he returned to the Church of Jesus Christ. Few of us will face such a dramatic test (though, the way the world is going, who knows!). One thing is for certain, those who have the strength of faith to be blood martyrs, almost universally were already experiencing many white martyrdoms in death to self as they grew in sanctity and self-denial on their path of sanctification through cooperation with God’s Grace. For those of us who will never have the final test of a blood martyrdom, these white martyrdoms – smaller or larger acts of self-denial and overcoming of attachments on a daily basis (martyrdom on the installment plan) – are all we shall have to grow in virtue, reject sin and vice, and develop in sanctity. They are thus everything for our salvation.
Put much more briefly, is something, like our faith, is worth dying for, is it not worth living for?
Men should pay particular attention to 20:30 – 23:40 where Father talks of common failures in virtue and attachments to sin, especially those men lost in addiction to porn. Even numerous, regular Mass-going Catholic men have severe problems with impurity, self-abuse, and addiction to porn. That addiction can be all but impossible to overcome if a man walks around with a little porn theater in his pocket (smart phone). Far from fleeing it, he literally carries his near occasion of sin with him.
Father notes that such men, even if they go to Confession, likely do not receive absolution, because so long as he carries this deadly occasion of sin with him everywhere he goes, and sleeps with it next to his bed at night, perhaps, he is constantly involved in a near occasion of sin that, practically speaking, invalidates any act of contrition he attempts to make.
I should add, increasingly, this mass moral scandal afflicts not only men but even some women. Exposure to porn and involvement in the moral sewer of the hookup culture and so much of today’s society has even reduced what was once the mighty bulwark of feminine propriety to the level of what would have been the most lust-addled, out of control man from a few decades ago.
As an aside, I think that is part of the reason why Trump’s “p*$$y” comment set so many women off it precipitated some of the largest demonstrations this nation has ever seen. Trump did not say he does this, nor that he advocates others go about “grabbing” certain regions of the anatomy – he said women would even let him do that, because he is so rich and famous. He was certainly bragging and probably exaggerating, but how many of those women out there demonstrating, if they found themselves alone with one of the richest, most powerful men in the world, would really reject his advances? How many have already given themselves away at firesale prices (heck, often for free, nothing more than the cost of a brief phone call or a couple of texts) to just regular ol’ dudes, if not outright losers? I think the reaction against that offhand, supposedly off-the-record comment reveals far more what women think of themselves, than it says of what they think of Trump. You could see this in the unhinged behavior at many of the protests and especially the proliferation of women, publicly, reducing themselves to nothing more than a small part of their anatomy. But I digress.
Having said that, there is a line between a man struggling to come to terms with whether he has a porn addiction, or occasionally/rarely falling into the sin of porn viewing on his smart phone, and one who is so lost that he can no longer make a valid act of contrition so long as he keeps his smart phone. There is a potential to err on the side of harshness, here, but I’m glad Father said what he did because very few men are aware of the fact that they could fall into a state this dire.
Also note, it is not simply sins against the 6th and 9th Commandments that create conditions where contrition is invalidated. ANY severe attachment to a repetitive sin – drunkenness, contraceptive use, actual adultery, etc., – can involve such constant contact with sin/a near occasion of sin that it places great questions on having true contrition. I wouldn’t freak out about this, but it’s something to be cognizant of and watch against. Are our phones worth losing salvation? For many men, they may well be.
But it’s certainly not just the lay people with problems. Priests, bishops, and most others with formal apostolates in the Church do not act as if they believe any substantial part of the Doctrine of the Faith. They don’t act as if Christ is really present in the Eucharist, nor that damnation can happen to lots of people, that hell exists, that God is really concerned about all of our individual acts, etc. They believe a politically correct, politically motivated, societally-acceptable version of the faith. And they lead souls to hell by their millions through their failures.
There’s so much here that I could write several thousand words but hopefully you’ve gotten a flavor for what’s in the sermon. Let me know what you think.
People always ask me what this priest’s name is. I won’t tell you, but folks, if you’re really interested and you listen to more than a few of his sermons with any degree of attention, he pretty much ID’s himself. Don’t write it here, but you’re smart, I’m sure you can figure it out.
Fr. Rodriguez Gives Catechesis on the Message of Our Lady of Fatima February 22, 2017Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, family, Father Rodriguez, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Holy suffering, Interior Life, Our Lady, persecution, priests, sanctity, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
I’m seriously behind so I have not been able to watch more than a little of this, but it’s Father Rodriguez, so I have no compunction about giving this a clear endorsement even though acting a bit from ignorance at this point. I will listen to it sometime this week, God willing.
This is another lecture intended for children but judging from the comments I’ve seen adults derive as much or more value from it than the kids. I wanted to get this out while it was new and before I forgot about it. I’ve literally got about 20 pages open right now on stuff I’d like to post, plus a whole slew of excerpts from a book on the writings of Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, probably the best theologian this nation has ever produced.
So forgive me if I don’t provide an encapsulation of this video, I simply haven’t the time right now.
If readers watch it please leave comments and let us know what you think! I’ll try to update the post once I do get a chance to watch more than the first few minutes.
Start 90 Day Special Devotion for Fatima Apparition TODAY (02/13/17) February 13, 2017Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Domestic Church, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Holy suffering, Interior Life, Latin Mass, mortification, Novenas, Restoration, sanctity, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
This special Novena was put together by Fr. Richard Heilman of the Diocese of Madison, WI. This is a 90 day Novena running from the start of Septuagesima to May 13, the 100th anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. Fr. Heilman has set up a special website for this effort (Nineveh 90), but, unfortunately, it seems to be down right now, at least for me. However, much of the same content has gone up on his blog. I’ll let Father explain the purpose of this special 90 day effort of prayer and mortification, which runs through Septuagesima and Lent and on into Easter:
Nineveh 90 – the 90 days from February 13 to May 13 – is inspired by the excellent program – Exodus 90 – designed exclusively for men by Fr. Brian Doerr and others. I strongly encourage men to sign-up for Exodus 90 (sign-up HERE), and use it for our 90-day journey.
For our Nineveh 90 journey, which includes both men and women, we are embracing the great values of mortification, a support system, and the research in the behavioral sciences that says 90 days is about the time needed to change bad habits. We will also be using some of the tried and true supernatural elements. Namely, the Brown Scapular, 54 Day Rosary Novena, and the 33 Day Preparation for Marian Consecration.
THE NINEVEH 90 CHALLENGE BEGINS FEBRUARY 13
“Consecration Day” will be on May 13, the 100th Anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima.
Nineveh 90 – Ten Elements
- For these 90 days, resolve to let go of repetitive sin you struggle with (e.g., masturbation, over-eating, alcohol, etc.)
- Wear Brown Scapular (Scapular Medal allowed) – Akin to Sackcloth
- Daily Mass (This is more of an encouragement, as many cannot do this)
- Confession (at least once a month … immediately following grave sin)
- Support System: Create or join a “Nineveh 90 Squad” of 3-8 people. Meet 1-3 times per week (in person or online). Join together with an “Accountability Buddy.” Meet daily or, at least, 3 times a week. [That’s……..really frequent. I don’t have a problem with having some accountability but I think this might be a bit aggressive for busy families]
- Daily Prayer
- Morning Offering
- Angelus (6,Noon,6)
- Holy Hour (or at least 20 minutes)
- Bedtime Prayers
- For 90 Days, Commit to …
- Regular and intense exercise (this may be one of the greater challenges for many)
- Seven hours of sleep is essential
- No alcohol
- No desserts & sweets
- No eating between meals
- No soda or sweetened drinks
- No television or movies (news allowed)
- Only music that lifts the soul to God
- No televised sports (one per week allowed)
- Limit recreational computer time (only use for personal needs and fulfillment. May be needed for Nineveh 90 too)
- 54 Day Rosary Novena (Basic Training in Holiness) – February 13 to April 7
- 33 Day Preparation for Consecration – April 10 (Monday of Holy Week) to May 12
- Marian Consecration – May 13, 2017. 100th Anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima
Prayer Intention for 54 Day Rosary Novena: Personal Holiness and for the Roman Catholic Church.
Sundays and Solemnities: may be a day of relaxed discipline, but not abandoned. (Sleep in an extra hour, cream in your coffee, a dessert, a beer, etc.)
Fasting: Wednesdays and Fridays (Water/Juice and bread only, if medically allowed, otherwise as is outlined by the USCCB)
Father Heilman claims 10,000!! have signed up to take part in this. That’s some serious penance and prayer going on. I didn’t officially sign up but plan on joining my wife in doing most all of the above. Internet will be hard, along with the 2 days of old school fasting. I will try one and see how it goes. I’m soft, I know. Actually in the past I’ve let myself do more “positive” penances – go and do a bunch of extra things, do good works, etc! – rather than “negative” ones in taking things away, though I’ve done my share of that, too, especially relative to the comfy chair Church of today.
Intentions behind this effort, apart from desperately needed personal sanctification, are the restoration of the Faith and the overcoming of the many threats which seem to be coming together in this most significant of years, 2017. Join in these prayers and penances (many of which I know most of you already perform regularly, or would as part of Septuagesima and Lent) to offer up graces for the conversion of Church leadership and the reinstitution of sanity and piety at all levels of the Church.
I do know some may have concerns about continuing hard penances beyond Lent and into Easter. I, too, have some trepidation over that, especially during the Octave itself, when every day is a literal continuation of the greatest, most glorious solemnity in the Church. I think those who are troubled at the prospect of rigorous penance and self-denial during this holiest, most joyful season of the year could substitute more positive acts or switch over to more prayer and less penance. This is perhaps something to review with your particular confessor/spiritual director as the time nears. For now, all the activities listed above are eminently suited for Septuagesima and Lent and I highly encourage your partaking in them.
I may try to run the penance during Easter bit past Fr. Rodriguez to see what he counsels. I’ll report back anything I learn.
Some Nice Traditional Catholic Culture For You February 3, 2017Posted by Tantumblogo in Art and Architecture, awesomeness, Basics, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, Latin Mass, sanctity, thanksgiving, Tradition, Virtue.
From the great guys at JMJHF Productions, some beautiful chant sung in an old church in Juarez around Christmas. Wish I could have been there. Chant like this is very rarely heard in Mexico in these days, especially northern Mexico, always so deleteriously influenced by these United States. I’m sure it was even more amazing in person. Even though Christmas season officially ended yesterday, we’re still in Epiphany and Septuagesima does not start until next week, so enjoy!
St. Francis de Sales on Dealing with the Sins of Others February 1, 2017Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, reading, Restoration, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
Another excerpt from Finding God’s Will for You, a collection of letters sent by the great Doctor of the Church over the course of his exceptional apostolate. This one deals with how to deal with the sins of others, and not falling into despair because we can’t “save” all we would like to see saved. From pp. 102-5:
God has supreme hatred for sin, and yet He most wisely permits it. This is to allow rational creatures to act according to their natural condition; it is also to render the good more worthy of commendation when they do not violate the law, even though they are able to violate it. Let us therefore adore and bless this holy permission. [I have heard priests describe the gift of free will as “strange,” even hard or cruel, because why didn’t God just create everyone as mindless followers of His Will and thus to be saved. St. Francis informs us as to why: because He didn’t, we should not have been made in His image if we did not have free will, and because he wanted us to freely choose Him and His Love from among all the enticements and pleasures of the flesh.]
However, since the same Providence that permits sin has infinite hatred for it, let us together with Providence detest and hate it, desiring with all our power that sin permitted may never become sin committed. As a result of this desire, let us use all possible remedies to prevent the birth, growth, and domination of sin. In this let us imitate our Lord, who never ceases to exhort, promise, threaten, prohibit, command, and inspire us in order to turn our will away from sin as far as possible without depriving us of liberty.
But when a sin has been committed, we must do all in our power to have it wiped away. We should be like our Lord, who assured Carpus, as has already been noted, that if it were needful, He would submit to death a second time in order to deliver a single soul from sin. But if the sinner is obstinate…..in company with the Savior of our souls, let us weep, sigh, and pray for him………
……Meanwhile, no matter how obstinate sinners may be, we must never lose courage in aiding and serving them. How do we know whether perhaps they will do penance and be saved? Happy is he who, like St. Paul, can say to his neighbor, “day and night I did not cease with tears to admonish every one of you. Therefore I am innocent of the blood of all, for i have not shrunk from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” As long as we are within the limits of hope that the sinner can amend, and they are always of the same extent as those of his life, we must never reject him, but rather pray for him and help him as far as his misfortune will permit. [Thus, many of our corrections and blandishments of those many lost in sin and error in the Church must continue, so long as there is hope that they may repent.]
But at the very end, after we have wept over the obstinate and have rendered them our duty in charity of trying to reclaim them from perdition, we must imitate our Lord and the apostles. That is, we must turn our mind from them and place it on other objects and tasks more useful to God’s glory. “It was necessary that the word of God should be first spoken to you,” said the Apostles to the Jews, “but since you reject it and judge yourselves unworthy,” of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, “behold, we turn to the Gentiles.” [A true and hard saying, but one that must be borne in mind. There are many fields for the spread of the Gospel, if not turns out to be sterile, we must move onto another. That is incredibly sad, especially when it involves someone we love, but if we tried and prayed and wept for years over loved ones no progress, our efforts may be put to better use elsewhere.]
“The Kingdom of God,” says the Savior, “shall be taken from you and shall be given to a nation yielding its fruits.” We cannot spend too much time weeping over some men without losing time suitable and necessary to procure the salvation of others. True, the Apostle says that he has a “continuous sorrow” over the loss of the Jews, but this is the same as when we say that we bless God at all times, which means simply that we bless Him very frequently and on every occasion. In the same manner, the glorious St. Paul has a continuous sorrow in his heart because of the reprobation of the Jews, since on every occasion he lamented their misfortune.
For the rest, we must always adore, love, and praise God’s avenging and punitive justice, just as we love His mercy, since both are daughters of His goodness. [Well now, isn’t that contrary to the church of infinite mercy and zero justice we hear preached today. In point of fact, mercy cannot be separated from justice. If it is, it becomes mere weakness and sentimentality. Those who wish to replace justice with a false sense of mercy will get neither, but will only gather a harvest of rank indifference and moral decline – which may well be what the purveyors of the church of infinite mercy want in the end, anyway] By His Grace, He wills to make us good, for He is good, yes, supremely good. By his justice, He wills to punish sin because He hates it, and He hates it because, being supremely good, He hates that supreme evil which is iniquity.
In conclusion, note that God never withdraws His mercy from us except by the most equitable vengeance of His punitive justice, and that we never escape the rigor of His justice except by His justifying mercy. Always, whether He punishes or gives grace, His good pleasure is worthy of adoration, love, and everlasting blessing. Always, whether He punishes or gives grace, His good pleasure is worthy of adoration, love, and everlasting blessing. Hence, “the just man” who sings the praises of God’s mercy over such as shall be saved likewise “shall rejoice when he shall see vengeance.” With joy the blessed shall approve the judgment of damnation passed on the reprobate as well as that of salvation on the elect.
Since the angels have exercised their charity toward the men they had in their keeping, they shall remain in peace when they see them obstinate or even damned. Therefore, we must acquiesce in God’s will and kiss the right hand of His mercy and the left hand of His justice with equal tenderness and reverence.
Now this is a Francis I can really get behind. Too bad there aren’t more like him around these days.
Start Novena for Our Lady of Lourdes Tomorrow Feb 2! February 1, 2017Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Domestic Church, family, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, Novenas, Our Lady, Restoration, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
Start Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes tomorrow, Feb 2. She Is The Immaculate Conception!
O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Refuge of Sinners, Comfort to the Afflicted,
you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings. Deign to cast upon me a look of mercy. By appearing in the Grotto of Lourdes, you were pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary, whence you dispense your favors; and already many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal.
I come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. Obtain, O loving Mother, the granting of my requests. (mention your intentions here)
Through gratitude for favors, I will endeavor to imitate your virtues that I may one day share your glory.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us. Amen.
(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.)
Another nice accompanying prayer:
Two prayers to prepare the universal celebration of Our Lady of Lourdes, on February 11
In the often obscure depths of our lives,
in the depth of the world where evil is so powerful,
return our confidence!
Guide us to the source of true life.
Make us pilgrims going forward with your Church,
whet our appetite for the Eucharist,
the bread for the journey, the bread of life.
The Spirit brought about wonders in you, O Mary :
by his power, he has placed you near the Father,
in the glory of your eternal Son.
Look with kindness
on our miserable bodies and hearts.
Shine forth for us, like a gentle light,
at the hour of our death.
Together with Bernadette, we pray to you, O Mary,
as your poor children.
May we enter, like her, into the spirit of the Beatitudes.
Then, we will be able, here below,
begin to know the joy of the Kingdom of Heaven
and sing together with you :
Glory to you, Virgin Mary,
blessed servant of the Lord,
Mother of God,
dwelling place of the Holy Spirit!
There are actually nine counsels in total, but that would make far too long of a post, so I picked a few I thought might be common temptations people experience when trying to focus on prayer and/or meditation. I pray you find this commentary useful, they come from pp. 136-9 of St. Peter’s Treatise on Prayer and Meditation:
Against temptations to infidelity, the remedy for a man is to reflect on the littleness of human nature, on the one hand, and on the greatness of God on the other. Let him think of the Commandments of God without being curious to scrutinize His works, since much that we see altogether exceeds our understanding. As for one who would enter into this sanctuary of the works of God, let him approach with great humility and reverence and lift up the simple eyes of the dove, not those of a malevolent serpent, and let his heart be as that of a disciple and not as that of one ready to judge rashly. Let him become as a little child, for to such does God declare His secrets. Let him not strive to know the why of the works of God; let him close the eye of his understanding and open that of his faith, for this is the instrument with which to examine the works of God. For studying the works of man, it is excellent, this eye of human reason; but for seeing those that are divine, there is nothing more completely unfit.
As this temptation is also usually most trying……..so is the remedy the same – viz;, to make light of it. It is a trial rather than a fault. There can be no fault where the will is opposed, as we have already declared.
Some people, when the set themselves to pray alone and by night, are harassed by terrifying imaginations. The remedy for this temptation is to do violence to oneself and to persevere in one’s exercises. Our fear increases if we fly from it, while our courage grows stronger as we resist. It is well to reflect that neither the devil nor any power at all can devise anything to our harm without Our Lord’s permission. Useful also is it to remember that we have by our side our Angel Guardian and that he is even nearer to us in prayer than at other times, for then he stands by to help us and to bear our prayers heavenwards and to shield us from the enemy, who thus is powerless to do us any harm.
…….As for temptations to distrust and to presumption, these being contrary vices, differing remedies must naturally be applied. For distrust, the remedy is to consider that in this business success is not to be achieved by personal efforts alone, but by the Grace of God, which is secured all the more promptly in proportion as a man is distrustful of his own strength and confident in the sole goodness of God, to whom all is possible.
For presumption, the remedy lies in remembering that there is no surer sign of being far away from God than fancying one is near, for on this journey those who cover the more ground are those precisely who are the quicker to see how very much is still wanting to them. Hence they make little of what they have when they compare it to what they long for. Use the lives of the Saints and of other holy persons still living as you would a mirror; consider yourself therein, and finding that compared to them you are like a dwarf in the presence of a giant, you will no longer be filled with presumption.
I especially like that last one. If souls striving to be devout have a weakness, it might be towards presumption or self-exaltation. Thank God I am not like those dirty sinners over there. Being always cognizant of our own sins and failings is, as Saint Peter relates, a great means to overcome this particular temptation to pride.
This book is very good. I strongly recommend it.
Late Notice: Novena to Our Lady of Good Success January 27, 2017Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Domestic Church, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, Novenas, Our Lady, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, Virtue.
This Novena should have started on the 25th but I only got a reminder late last night. I do appreciate MJD for sending that out. I know it’s late, but better late than never, I guess. Anyway, Our Lady of Good Success is a powerful intercessor who made amazing prophetic revelations to Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres hundreds of years ago, accurately predicting the coming collapse of the human element of the Church in the 20th century. If you haven’t started this Novena, why not start now? Sure, you’ll finish a couple of days after the Feast (Candlemas), but that’s OK. Mom won’t mind if you call her a bit late, so long as you call her. Moms are awesome like that:
Say once a day for nine days, especially starting on 25 January and ending on 2 February
Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be
Saint Michael, pray for us.
Hail Mary Most Holy, Admirable Mother of God the Son Through the intercession of Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres, grant thy good success to this request.(mention your intentions here)
Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be
Saint Gabriel, pray for us.
Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be
Saint Raphael, pray for us.
Hail Mary Most Holy, Temple and Sacrarium of the Most Holy Trinity. St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, pray for us.
Our Lady of Good Success, thou who art the all-powerful intercessor before the Most Holy Trinity, consent to hear and answer my request – so long as it contributes to the salvation of my soul and the glory and exaltation of Holy Mother Church.
Hail holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us. And after this our exile show unto us the blessed Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.
And here is a separate prayer, in the form of a Litany, to Our Lady of Good Success. You can add this to the Novena or just pray it year round:
Soul of Mary, sanctify me,
Body of Mary, purify me,
Heart of Mary, inflame me,
Sorrow of Mary, comfort me,
Tears of Mary, console me,
O Sweet Mary, hear me.
With thy benign eyes, look on me,
Through thy holy steps, guide me,
To thy Divine Son, pray for me,
Pardon for my sins, achieve for me,
Devotion to your holy Rosary, infuse in me,
Love for God and my fellow man, grant me,
Permit me not to ever be separated from thee.
In the hour of my death, comfort me,
From my enemies, defend me,
With the shield of thy holy name, protect me,
With thy mantle, cover me,
In the fatal instant of my agony, assist me,
From dying in sin, free me,
Into the arms of Jesus, deliver me,
To the eternal mansion, bring me,
So that, with the angels and saints
I can praise thee forever and ever, Amen
Just another reminder, you will also start the Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes on Feb 2. The Novena finishes on the vigil of the Feast on Feb. 10.
A Beautiful, Edifying Episode from the Life of St. Simeon Stylite January 26, 2017Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, episcopate, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, history, Interior Life, mortification, reading, Saints, sanctity, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
The man who stood upon ever-taller stone columns for decades, St. Simeon Stylite is probably better known among Eastern Christians than those in the West. Fortunately, St. Francis de Sales included the following episode from the life of St. Simeon Stylite in some of his letters, letters which were compiled into a book called Finding God’s Will For You. There are serious lessons regarding obedience in this tale, too, but obedience is an issue so fraught with peril in today’s Church, where so much of the leadership has gone amok. How to deal with authority that is demanding acceptance of grave sin and destructive error under threat of severe persecution? There are writings from the Tradition that help guide us, but they are not terribly voluminous or comprehensive.
This situation we are going through is not entirely unique. In the protestant revolt, whole bishops and princes tried to take dioceses and countries into error. Did souls go along, under obedience or more prurient motives? Most did. But in almost every locale, some remained faithful. Many of those are called Saints or Blesseds today.
I think the lesson, as it develops below, also serves as a guide to us. Worthy shepherds will give broad latitude to subordinates who show a willingness to be obedient. But those seeking to impose their will, and heterodox beliefs, on the Church, will always seek to impose their will in virtually every regard, and won’t grant such latitude. Whenever it comes down to promotion of error, subordinates are freed from their duty of obedience. Unfortunately, those seeking to impose a different religion often know how to mask their efforts to at least some degree, making the process of discernment a most difficult one. Pray that God may enlighten you as to which matters require your obedience.
Anyway, from Finding God’s Will For You, pp. 61-2:
While the incomparable Simeon Stylites was still a novice at Telada (a monastery in Syria), he refused to respond to the advice of his superiors who wished to keep him from practicing the many strange forms of austerity he observed with inordinate severity. For this reason he was expelled from the monastery as a man not very susceptible to mortification of heart and much given to that of the body. Afterward he came to his senses, became more devout and wiser in the spiritual life, and behaved quite differently, as is proved by the following event.
When the hermits who were scattered about the desert regions near Antioch learned of the extraordinary life he led on his pillar, where he seemed to be either an angel on earth or a man from Heaven, they sent him a representative whom they instructed to speak for them in the following fashion: “Simeon, why have you left the great path of the devout life, trodden by so many great and holy predecessors, and followed another path unknown to men and far distant from everything seen or heard of up to the present? Simeon, get down from that pillar, and join the others in the way of life and method of serving God used by those good fathers who were our predecessors.”
In the event that Simeon agreed with their advice and showed himself ready and willing to descend from his pillar so as to condescend to their will, the hermits had instructed their messenger to leave him free to persevere in the kind of life he had begun. Bu such obedience, those good fathers said, they could easily recognize that he had entered this kind of life under divine inspiration. On the contrary, if he resisted, despised their exhortation, and wished to follow his own will, then they resolved that it would be necessary to take him down by force and make him give up his pillar. [These were most wise shepherds with the love of Christ in their hearts. They are happy to give wide space for novel forms of devotion, even when they do not fully understand them, provided sufficient submission to Christ and His Church is evident]
When the deputy had arrived at the pillar, he had no sooner announced his mission than the great Simeon without delay, without reservation, and without any reply, started to descend with obedience and humility worthy of his rare sanctity. When the delegate saw this, he said, “Simeon, stop and stay there, persevere with constancy, and have good courage. Follow valiantly your enterprise. Your sojourn on that pillar is from God.”
….I implore you to observe carefully how those holy anchorites of old in general meeting found no surer mark of heavenly inspiration in a matter so extraordinary as the life of St. Stylites than to see that he was simple, gentle, and tractable under the laws of most holy obedience. God blessed the submission of that great man and gave him the grace to persevere for thirty whole years upon a column more than fifty feet high….Thus this bird of paradise, living in air and not touching earth, was a spectacle of love for angels and of admiration for men. In obedience, everything is safe, apart from obedience, all is subject to suspicion……..
……..A man who ways that he is inspired and then refuses to obey his superiors and follow their advice is an impostor. All prophets and preachers inspired by God have always loved the Church, always adhered to Her Doctrine, and always had Her approval……… [When the superiors give evidence of being impostors by not adhering to Doctrine, the entire machine breaks down. Especially when even the highest authority gives such evidence. The great trouble is, after 50 years of successively advancing inculcation of error in souls, there are very few who don’t hold erroneous beliefs, who don’t support some form of abuse. If it were not for her supernatural element, I daresay, the machine stops.]
I get in “trouble,” sometimes, as I am viewed as not being sufficiently supportive, or critical, of groups like the SSPX. But in this time of mass confusion and untold calamity, I have a difficult time telling someone “you err” in their differing responses to the crisis. I do have some limits – I think sede vacantists go too far, and those who reject the Church altogether and leave for some other sect/church – but overall I have a hard time blaming someone, in this unending mass of confusion and conflict, from arriving at a little bit different conclusion than my own. I think the key remains: “Love God, and do what you will.” I pray He will be merciful and understanding with us all who are groping about in the dark in this time of so little light.
Ten Hindrances to Devotion by St. Peter of Alcantara January 24, 2017Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Domestic Church, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, mortification, priests, reading, Saints, sanctity, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
Part two, as promised in yesterday’s post, which provided aids to developing a rich interior life. Today’s post covers those things that tend to inhibit the development of a strong practice of devotion to Our Lord and Lady. From Treatise on Prayer and Meditation pp. 128-131:
Just as there are certain things which help with devotion, so there are others which impede it. Among the latter:
1] Sin is the first, and not merely mortal sin, but venial sins also; for these, although they do not deprive us of charity, diminish the fervor of charity, which is practically the same thing as devotion. Consequently, we should be very much on our guard against them, not so much for the evil they work in us as for th egreat good of which they despoil us.
2] A second hindrance is the remorse of conscience, when it is excessive, which proceeds from these sins, for it disturbs and casts down the soul, frightens it and makes it unfit for every good work. [Excessive lamentations or remorse can also be a sign of pride, as in thinking one too good to have done X or Y. Just something to keep in mind. We certainly should have remorse for our sins, but that remorse should lead to humility and an understanding of our total need for God’s Grace, and not deep depression or other disturbances of our interior life]
3] Scruples, for the same reason, constitute another hindrance. They are like thorns, allowing the soul no rest, so that it can neither repose in God nor enjoy true peace. [Being afflicted with scruples can be a truly hellish experience, and one almost always self-inflicted. I have a daughter that is struggling with certain scruples, please pray for her.]
4] Every kind of bitterness and sourness of heart and unreasoning depression are also hindrances, for then one can hardly relish the taste and sweetness of a good conscience and of spiritual joy.
5] Overmuch worry is a further hindrance. Cares are like the flies of Egypt, which distress the soul and prevent it from enjoying that spiritual rest which is experienced in prayer. It is precisely then, more than at other times, that they disturb the soul and turn it away from this exercise. [A trend should be discernible – anything that tends to rob the soul of peace for long periods are detrimental to the interior life. Something to consider when we get exercised over the state of things in the Church and world today. A certain level of knowledge is of course beneficial and even necessary, but if reading news begins to seriously affect our peace of soul or derail our practice of the Faith – or even, God forbid, tempts us to fall away – then we need to retract from whatever is causing us to lose peace and focus on other, happier things, at least for a while]
6] Too many occupations are also a hindrance, for they take up much time, stifle the soul, and leave a man without leisure or heart for divine things. [Recreation is necessary. So are distractions, at times.]
7] Pleasure and worldly consolations, if indulged in to excess, hinder a man from prayer. “He who devotes himself overmuch to the delights of the world,” says St. Bernard, “does not deserve those of the Holy Ghost.”
8] Delicacy and abundance in food and drink form another hindrance, and especially long-drawn-out meals. These are a very bad foundation for spiritual exercises and devout watching. When the body is weighed down and charged in excess with food, the soul is very unfitted to soar aloft.
9] The vice of curiosity in the senses and in the intellect is a hindrance too. Seeking to hear and see all sorts of things, wishing to have about oneself things that are pretty or quaint…..all this takes up time, embarrasses the senses, disturbs the soul and diverts it in every direction, and thus impedes devotion. [We must be very careful in what we allow ourselves, and our families, to be exposed to. Everyone has their own needs, their own limits, and their own weaknesses. The best way to proceed is experientially, paying attention to how we feel and how we behave, internally and externally, to see if new or changed levels of stimuli produce a positive or negative effect in our spiritual lives. Anything that tends towards the negative must be eliminated or sharply curtailed.]
10] Finally, any interruption of the holy exercises, unless for a good and pious reason, is a hindrance, for as a learned writer said, the spirit of devotion is something very delicate, and once it goes, it either does not return at all, or at least only after much difficulty. [While St. Peter was originally writing primarily for religious, thus the seriousness of an interruption of the exercises religious are required under duty and obedience to perform, we can still take from this an understanding that we should try to develop a regular prayer regimen for ourselves, to the extent possible, and not deviate from it. We should not allow our concentration to be interrupted during prayer time by needless distractions. Prayers said mechanically are unworthy of significant grace. Strive to grow in focus during periods of prayer and meditation]
Thank you for the kind comments to the previous post on St. Peter of Alcantara. His book is excellent. He’s been hard to excerpt, but these two short chapters were perfect for a blog. I’ll certainly share anything else I can that is not too onerous for online reading.