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.
Thanks to Reader TT for the Kind Gifts February 1, 2017Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, fun, non squitur, reading, thanksgiving.
I wanted to give a special shout to reader TT who went through some shipping hassle to send me a very nice gift of all five volumes of The Catechism in Examples off my Amazon wishlist. That was really generous and unexpected. Thanks, TT!
I’ve also received some other items from folks who wish to remain anonymous. I thank you all for everything you have taken the time to send. My hope is to draw fruitful material from whatever I am sent off the wishlist and share it with readers in posts. It may take me some time to get around to a particular book, but I will eventually get to it.
It means a great deal to me that people think enough of my prattlings to go to the time and expense to buy me a little something (or a big something). I do appreciate it!
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.
Book Discussion: Ever Read The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene? January 24, 2017Posted by Tantumblogo in General Catholic, Holy suffering, horror, mortification, persecution, priests, reading, Revolution, sadness, secularism, Society.
Ever read The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene? What did you think of it? Apparently, it was criticized by the pre-conciliar Holy Office, but I am not certain whether it ever appeared on the Index of Forbidden Books. I am not certain I found anything in the book that was sufficient to merit being banned by the Holy Office, but I do agree that the book was in some respects “paradoxical.” It was not a typical Saint’s story.
For those who are not familiar, The Power and the Glory tells the semi-fictional story of a hunted, persecuted Mexican priest in the state of Tabasco during the darkest days of the Cristiada. This priest is the last functioning priest left in the entire state. In fact, since the book was set in 1940, he has been the only priest in the state for nearly a decade. All other priests fled, were shot, or apostatized, married, and given government pensions to live on. He has lived deep in the jungles, always hiding, always hunted and hounded by the law. This horrid persecution had persisted, by the time the book was set, for nearly two full decades.
This lead character around which the story revolves is morally ambiguous, in a sense. He frequently in the book performs acts of practically heroic virtue, while at the same time being a near alcoholic with a strong desire for drink and having fathered a child in a one-time fall into lust while lonely, depressed, and drunk. At times I felt the priest too hard on himself, as he judged that he had done little worthwhile even as he served as the only priest an entire region of Mexico knew for nearly a decade. He was terrified of his salvation over his sins and his inability to go to confession. There is a sort of priest remaining in the state, in the capital of Villahermosa, a man who renounced his priestly mission, “married” a woman at government behest (even though the marriage was never consummated), and lives on a government pension, growing steadily more obese as he has nothing to do all day except eat, loathe himself, and be tormented by neighborhood children who constantly belittle him. At the climax of the book, the moral cowardice of this bad former priest is plainly revealed.
Nevertheless, regarding the main character, he has several opportunities to escape, but is prevented from doing so for a long time (I won’t ruin the story by telling you whether he finally escapes in the end, or not) by the untimely, or timely, intervention of someone needing his sacramental services. Even though it likely means his death, in every instance the priest chooses to remain and serve the people calling out to him, but with an often begrudging heart which steals away some of the virtue of his choosing to stay. But who save for great Saints would not be somewhat conflicted over choosing to stay or go under such oppressive circumstances. There is an ugly Judas character also involved in this priest’s sufferings. He shadows the priest through half or more of the book and is hideous in his ability to constantly justify his black heart.
I don’t want to share any more of the plot as I don’t want to ruin it for those who haven’t read it, but I am very interested to know if any blog commenters have read the book and what they thought of it. My
conclusions were two-fold: I’ve read several books on the state persecution of the Church in Mexico, books that were full of statistics and tales of cruelty and suffering, but never one that made me feel as if I could really understand what living under such conditions on a day to day basis would have really been like. This book did that in spades. For that, I strongly recommend the book. But, on the other hand, there is some unfortunate moral ambiguity surrounding the main character of the unnamed priest – I don’t know if author Greene was trying to be “realistic” by not giving a “sanitized” version of a man’s character, or if he was trying to get people to think about what really constitutes holiness, and whether this priest’s destiny was a happy or unhappy one.
Because of that ambiguity, I can only recommend this book for those well formed and committed to the Faith, which naturally includes most readers of this blog. It is not suitable, for several reasons, for children or for those who are struggling to hold onto their Faith or who are very new to the Church (perhaps). In many ways, it’s a beautiful story and a very sober appraisal of how people conduct themselves under extremely difficult circumstances. I don’t read much fiction because it frequently bores me, but The Power and the Glory is very well written and really grabbed my attention. But there are certain scenes I wish were not present in the book, where the author perhaps let his personal bias against certain types of pious souls tell too much. On the other hand, there are some really cutting scenes dealing with protestants and their love of comfort. The priest does rather adroitly defend the Faith against his most cruel persecutor, too.
One thing the book is great for: informing readers of the hellish reality of life under that kind of severe, state-sponsored persecution. There are myriad small ways people are forced to surrender their beliefs, to modify their behaviors……..it reveals how horrid an empty, soulless, secularist existence is. Definite food for thought as we see our own culture and Church, Trump and Brexit, et. al., notwithstanding, heading in a similar direction.
Anyway, I’m interested to know what you guys think, if you’ve read the book. I’m kind of on the fence. Would the book be as effective if it had a different ending? Could it have been more so? Was it realistic, or unnecessarily harsh? I’m really on the fence, and very interested to hear what you think. Hopefully some of you have read it, and are willing to take some time to share your thoughts.
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.
Some Classic Refutations of protestant Errors on the Bible January 16, 2017Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Bible, catachesis, Ecumenism, episcopate, General Catholic, Interior Life, priests, reading, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
From the Preface to the New Testament in the Haydock Study Bible, some excellent commentary on common protestant claims regarding Sacred Scripture as the sole rule of faith under the private interpretation of each individual (or the leader of each sect, as is more typical). Much of the commentary below comes from Archbishop Rene Fenelon. All of it is great. Some of the key points addressed below:
- The absolute need for a sole authority to settle questions of Scripture
- The extreme danger that results from private interpretation and the pride that inspires this interpretation
- The error of protestant use of supposedly superior knowledge of the Bible against Catholics as a weapon to rend souls from the Church, when in fact they simply twist Scripture to their own ends. Those souls would be far better off with a Catechism than a panoply of biblical studies.
- Scripture cannot be the sole rule of Faith
If there be no infallible authority, which may say to us all, “this is the true meaning of the holy Scripture:how can we expect that illiterate peasants, or simple mechanics, should engage in a discussion wherein the learned themselves cannot agree? God would have been wanting to the necessities of almost all men, if, when he gave them a written law, he had not at the same time provided them a sure interpreter, to spare them the necessity of research, of which they are utterly incapable. Every man of common understanding has need of nothing more than a sincere sense of his ignorance, to see the absurdities of the sects, who build their separation from the Catholic Church upon the privilege of deciding on matters far above their comprehension. [Or even if not above their comprehension, per se, we still see the effect of private interpretation in the proliferation of warring sects, each holding a different view of various parts of Scripture and their meaning. Most of those have to be wrong. And in point of fact, much of protestant Scripture “scholarship” is nothing of the sort but simply an exercise of ex post facto effort to twist Scripture to find in it the doctrines they’ve already decided upon, as Luther and Calvin did in identifying “total depravity” as a rule of Scripture in order to justify the elimination of works as necessary for salvation and thus most of the 10 Commandments] Ought we then to hearken to the new reformers, who require what is impossible; or to the ancient Church, which provides for the weakness of our nature?” If we listen to the former, we should soon be found to resemble those men of latter days, who St. Paul tells us to avoid: ever learning, and never attaining to the knowledge of truth; (2 Timothy chap. iii. ver. 7,) because they trust to their own lights, and not to the visible authority appointed by Jesus Christ. How evident does all this speak for itself, when we behold a Voltaire extracting mental poison from the Song of Solomon; or, another Cromwell reading to a ruthless soldiery God’s ordinances concerning the smiting of the Ammonites and Chanaanites, in order to induce them to kill every Catholic, man, woman, and child; or the fanatic, maintaining from the Revelations, that no king is to be obeyed but King Jesus; or, finally, when we hear those dangerous comments of our modern Moravian and Antinomian Methodists on St. Paul’s Epistles, importing, that they being made free by Jesus Christ, are not subject to any law either of God or man. Surely, in such cases, it would be advisable, if possible, to withdraw the Bible from every such profaner of it; and instead of it, to put into his hands the Catechism, in which he would find the bread of God’s word, broken and prepared for his weak digestion, by those prelates to whom this duty particularly belongs. This the Protestant owns, when he finds the Socinian [Society of Friends – Quakers] abusing private interpretation, by repeatedly citing and expounding the sacred text against the divinity of Jesus Christ, and the Presbyterian against the episcopacy……
……..The learned Walton (Prolegom. chap. iv. 56,) asserts, what every one versed in antiquity must allow, that “some parts of the New Testament were doubted of for some ages, till at length by consent of the whole Church, all the Books, as they are read at present, were received and approved.” [Indeed. The Canon of Scripture was settled by the Church. The protestants accept all of the New Testament canon, even though Luther wanted to exclude at least the Catholic Epistle of James because it was too contrary to his new doctrine. He was only prevented from doing so by allies of his due to human concerns – rejecting portions of the New Testament so long settled would cause even more division and scandal and undermine his new sect. But from a standpoint of logic, the protestants have no reason not to exclude all manner of books from Old or New Testament, nor to add works like the Epistle of Barnabas, Gospel of Thomas, or the Shepherd of Hermas – they have rejected Authority in favor of their own private judgment to arrive at answers predetermined in advance, so why not use these other works? The only reason they do not has to do with human concern, e.g., what people would think] Here then we see that for a chief proof of the inspiration, authenticity, and due rendering of the word of God, we are referred to the general consent of Christians; therefore Scripture, though the rule of faith and life, cannot be the whole rule;since from Scripture alone, an exact canon of the sacred books cannot by human art be learned…………
………St. Augustine goes so far as to say: I would not believe the gospel, if the authority of the Catholic Church did not determine me. (Epis. cont. Fund. chap. v, n. 6.) “This, says Fenelon, is the most simple, short, and decisive of all controversies.”……..[This is the key. Scripture has authority because the Church determined it to have it, not the other way around. It was the Church that predated the Canon of Scripture or indeed any individual Gospel or Letter. Tradition ultimately is greater than Scripture, and it is a sad testimony that far too many priests and bishops today, cowed by supposed protestant knowledge of the Bible, mimic their arguments in favor of Scripture, turning reading the Bible into an end in itself rather than as simply being the support and basis for what the Church believes. Priests would be far better off advising the souls in their charge to read a solid Catechism like the Catechism of the Council of Trent or This Is The Faith than the Bible, honestly. Mind, I am not discouraging those sound in the Faith from reading the Bible, I read it every day, but I am saying that in this time when so few people are really able to understand much of Scripture, and with the proliferation, especially in this country, of erroneous protestant biblical studies, and very aggressive “bible study groups” seeking to make converts of poorly formed Catholics, that it is more prudent to first form souls deeply in the Faith before turning them loose on Scripture.]
………..There are such inimitable instructions in the five letters of Fenelon, to a lady who wished to be admitted a member of the Catholic Church, that a brief analysis of the same cannot but be very acceptable to the biblical scholar: — In the first, the prelate shews that there can be but one true religion, and one only Church, the spouse of Jesus Christ. Our Lord would have only one; men are not entitled to make more. Religion is not the work of human reasoning; but it is our duty to receive it, such as it has been given us from above. One man may reason with another man, but with God we have only to pray, to humble ourselves, listen, be silent, and blindly follow. This sacrifice of reason is the only proper use we can make of it, weak and contracted as it is. Every consideration must yield, when the supreme reason decides…….. [Awesome]
……..In the second, he shews the necessity of a visible authority. Religion, he says, is all humility. The mysteries are given us to subdue the pride of reason, by making us believe what we cannot comprehend. Without this authority, the Scripture can only serve to nourish our curiosity, presumption, jealousy of opinions, and passion for scandalous disputes: there would be but one text, but as may interpretations as religions, and as many religions as heads……..
……..In the third, he teaches how to hear the Church, and to obey it without any apprehension of error. The infallible promises of God are our surety. He tells the lady, if she wish for any reform, not to seek it, like Dissenters, out of the Church, but by frequently reverting back to her thoughts upon herself, and by reforming every thing amiss there; by subduing all that savours of self; by silencing the imagination, listening in silence to God, and imploring his grace for the perfect accomplishment of his will……….
……..In the fourth, he gives her comfort and instructions how to act under her trials. The kingdom of God suffers violence. We cannot die to ourselves without feeling it; but the hand that afflicts us, will be our support……..
………..In the fifth, he give excellent instructions, on the promises of Jesus Christ to his one true Church. He remarks the Jesus Christ does not say, if you will not hear the church of this country or that; he does not suppose a plurality of churches, but one universal Church, subsisting through all ages and nations, and which is to speak and to be obeyed from one extremity of the globe to the other. Not an invisible church composed of the elect only, but a Church that can be pointed out with a finger. A city elevated on the summit of a mountain, which all can see from a distance. Every one knows where to see, to find, and to consult her. She answers, she decides; we listen, and believe: and woe to those who refuse to believe and obey her: if he will not hear the Church, &c………
Such sage wisdom! Thank God for providing us – even if in the somewhat distant past – shepherds whose cooperation with Grace and docility to the will of God inform all they said and make of them a great light to souls of this and every age. We live in a time when such souls are few, almost non-existent, among the men given the sacred charge of holding watch over the souls of millions, but we have the inestimable gift of Tradition and the wisdom of the past to guide us still, even in this our own faithless age. That is a gift beyond measure. And one that, in spite of herculean efforts on the part of modernists, cannot be taken away.
Prayer Request and Thanks January 5, 2017Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, catachesis, Dallas Diocese, Domestic Church, family, General Catholic, Holy suffering, reading, sadness, Tradition, Virtue.
A couple of “housekeeping” items, if you will – please pray for A, wife of longtime reader “ADG,” who gave birth to their 9th child a couple of months ago and shortly after developed some serious medical conditions. She is still recovering and her health remains under 100%. If you could please add her to your prayers, I know it would be greatly appreciated.
The thanks comes from me, to those who sent me items from my Amazon wishlist and/or a gift certificate. I thank you very much and feel quite humbled by your generosity. I have just come across some really good new sources of Catholic catechesis and have added a number of items to my wishlist. If any feel called to buy something on there for me, all will be greatly appreciated. Pretty much everything on the list is directly blog related, and if you do send me something, you can rest assured any good material I draw from it will show up on this blog at one time or other.
One of those new items of catechesis is The Catechism in Examples, a five volume set produced by Fr. D. Chisholm and published over 100 years ago in Britain. Reader SL sent me a link to this massive tome (over 2000 pages!) and it looks really powerful. Many find the 1990s Catechism painfully dry, and sometimes questionable doctrinally. I tend to imagine the doctrine in this 100 year old set of volumes will be unimpeachable, while its format is easier to read since it gives concrete examples for each point of doctrine discussed, rather than relaying them in a purely theological way. The Catechism in Examples is also available at The Internet Archive for free if you happen to read books online.
For Those Interested in My Amazon Wish List….. December 6, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, blogfoolery, It's all about the $$$, reading.
…….here it is. I created a bogus new account to try it out and it appears yeah my address won’t show. I haven’t had too many trolls or haters lately, but one never knows.
Most things on there are directly blog-related. There are a few other items I’ve added for other reasons. I do appreciate the generosity some have expressed, very much so. Thank you for your kind consideration.
Just like me to wait till the blog has half the readers it did a year ago to now go trolling for swag.
I’m open to suggestions for things to add, as well. The list really isn’t very long, I don’t think?
You Guys Are Smart – Anyone Know How Amazon Wish Lists Work? December 6, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, blogfoolery, reading.
On a number of occasions in the past, readers have – with great generosity and to my total surprise – indicated they would be happy to give me some kind of remuneration for my efforts at blogging. I’ve always tended to resist receiving any kind of compensation, for a number of reasons, but I’ve been re-considering for a year or more. In fact, I keep meaning to bring this subject up by simply haven’t gotten around to it. I am not looking for cash donations or anything of that kind, but I would be happy to make my Amazon wish list public, as Fr. Z does.
Since most of my Amazon wish list consists of very much blog-related books, most things bought there would serve as a catalyst for future posts and hopefully be mutually beneficial – I’d get a new book and the knowledge that comes therein, and would then share bits and pieces with you as I am able.
My problem is, I still like to keep this blog semi-anonymous, and I’m not sure how Amazon wish lists work. That’s where you come in. Does anyone know if I make my wish list public, will my address show? Or does Amazon just ship to my default address? It would seem odd to show someone’s address but the thing is, we have used more than one over the years and they have several in their system. If there is more than one address, do they list them? That’s my only concern.
I am not doing this looking to “get paid,” things are tight for us since the new baby and I can’t afford to buy books – especially some of the more expensive speciality books I’d like – as much as I used to. I’ve been running a little dry on blog content lately, I feel, and this would help.
Hopefully someone can help me out with this. Thanks and God bless.
An Exhortation to Assist at Mass Daily December 1, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Latin Mass, Liturgy, reading, sanctity, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
Not that many of the present company probably require an exhortation to do so, if the option is available, there is still a lot of good in this excerpt from The Incredible Catholic Mass by Fr. Martin von Cochem, on assisting daily at Mass if at all possible. For those who believe strongly in their souls that assisting at the Novus Ordo is at least problematic, if not spiritually dangerous or worse, this can present a problem of access, of course, as the TLM is still generally only available at most at one or two places in most dioceses, often only on Sundays, and most probably in inauspicious locations. Nevertheless, for those who have the TLM available every day or most every day, assisting at Mass should be perhaps their highest priority, something they are willing to suffer a good deal of inconvenience and even some potential lost work opportunities to do. As Fr. von Cochem notes, our God is a great and generous God, and will not long let such generosity on our part go unrewarded, both spiritually, but in most cases also materially:
In the first place, let me tell you, O Christian, that no hour of the whole day is so precious as that wherein you hear Mass and offer that Mass to the ever-blessed Trinity. It is indeed a golden hour, for all that you do in cooperation with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is changed to gold. The other hours of the day, in comparison with it, may be likened to copper. It may be alleged that work is of greater importance than hearing Mass to those who earn their bread. To this I reply that hearing Mass is more important than our work, because it contributes largely to our eternal welfare. I do not say that a man should neglect his work altogether, but that he should spare half an hour from it for the service of his God: his work will get on all the better for it, for God will bless it more abundantly. Those who absent themselves from Mass out of indifference or for the sake of some temporal advantage change the hour that might be golden into one of lead and sustain a loss incalculably greater than any earthly loss, for in that hour they might have won a hundred times more than they could earn by a whole day’s labor. Our Savior teaches us this in the memorable words of His: “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?” (Mt xvi:26). By not going to Mass on weekdays for the sake of temporal profit we do our soul an immeasurable injury, for which no worldly wealth can compensate. Shall we, then, heedless of Our Lord’s warning, throw away eternal riches for the things of time and sense?
…….How short-sighted, then, is the man or woman who prefers to lose the treasures contained in Holy Mass rather than deprive himself of a few pennies! By going to Mass they might earn treasures wherewith to purchase Heaven, but they will renounce these if the least diminution of their wages is involved – not that I believe they would be losers in the end, for God, of His divine bounty, would so prosper their work as more than to make up for the time they took from it………
……..Yet, of a truth, in every Mass, not earthly riches, but celestial riches from Heaven are showered down on all who are present, and all who are free to possess themselves of them. But what are the riches which drop down from above? An increase of divine grace, an increase of merit and virtue, an increase of eternal glory, celestial consolations, the divine blessing in temporal affairs, the pardon of venial sins, the remission of a great part of the temporal debt due to Divine Justice, a share in the infinite merits of Christ. Grace and mercy, temporal welfare and eternal salvation – such is the heavenly dew which distills from above…….Wherefore, if on account of the slight trouble it costs us or the trifling pecuniary sacrifice it entails, we omit going to Mass on weekdays when we might do so, we are guilty of great folly…..
…….The object and end of our existence upon earth is to praise the Divine Majesty according to His great glory. This cannot be done better than by hearing Mass, for it is the most Sublime Sacrifice of praise……….We cannot bear fruit better than by hearing Mass in the state of grace, for it is the most perfect Sacrifice of satisfaction. We daily stand exposed to the danger of falling into sin, of being overtaken by misfortune; we cannot guard against these perils better than by hearing Mass, for it is the most efficacious Propitiatory Sacrifice. Death and the devil constantly dog our footsteps and lay in wait for us, desirous to snatch us away and precipitate us into hell; we cannot shield ourselves against their arrows better than by hearing Mass, for it is the surest protection against the evils that threaten us. Finally, let us not forget that in the hour of death we shall be in some need of the Savior’s assistance; there is no better means of assuring ourselves of this than by hearing Mass devoutly, for have we not heard how Christ Himself gave to one of His servants the promise that he would send for his solace and support at his last moments as many blessed spirits as he had heard Masses with devotion during his lifetime? Reflect upon these truths and resolve from henceforth to hear Mass, if possible every day.
I will not be around much through to next year. A little early next week, than that’s probably it for the year. This blog will probably change a lot next year. Most posts will, God willing, be like this one. Seven years in, I feel it’s about time for a change. I feel like in some regards I have said the same thing 50 or 100 times, so I think I’ll let others speak for the most part for a while, like this quote from Fr. von Cochem. We shall see.