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Ligouri on the Necessity of Humility and Suffering Humiliation As Means of Attaining Sanctity September 28, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Holy suffering, Interior Life, mortification, religious, Saints, sanctity, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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Some additional excerpts from The True Spouse of Jesus Christ by the great Moral Doctor St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori on the vital role humility, especially in the form of patiently and joyfully bearing humiliations, plays in the process of sanctification/growth in the interior life.

I cut and paste various exerpts from pp. 335-341 below:

Some, says St. Francis of Assisi, imagine that sanctity consists in the recital of many prayers or in the performance of works of penance: but, not understanding the great merit of patience under insult, they cannot bear an injurious word.  You will acquire more merit by meekly receiving an affront than by fasting ten days on bread and water.  It will sometimes happen that a privilege that is refused to you will be conceded to others; that what you say will be treated with contempt, while the words of others are heard with respectful attention; that while the actions of others are the theme of general praise, and they are heaped with honors, you are passed by unnoticed and your whole conduct is made a subject of derision.  If you accept in peace all these humiliations, and if, with a sincere affection, you recommend to God those from whom you receive the least respect, then indeed, as St. Dorotheus says, it will be manifest that you are truly humble. To them you are particularly indebted, since by their reproaches they cure your pride – the most malignant of all diseases that lead to spiritual death.  Because they deem themselves worthy of all honors, the proud convert their humiliations into an occasion of pride.  But because the humble consider themselves deserving only of opprobrium, their humiliations serve to increase their humility.  “That man,” says St. Bernard, ” is truly humble who converts humiliation into humility.”

Voluntary humiliations, such as to serve the sick, to kiss the feet of those who imagine, even unjustly, that we have offended them, and similar acts of humility, are very profitable; but, to embrace with cheerfulness, for the love of Jesus Christ, the humiliations that come from others, such as reproofs, accusations, insults, and derisions, is still more meritorious……..As gold is tried in the fire, so a man’s perfection is proved by humiliation.  St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to say that “untried virtue is not virtue.” He who does not suffer contempt with a tranquil mind shall never attain the spirit of perfection…….[Working out our salvation is not easy.  Contrary to American protestant claims of “one and done” conversions, which are so typical of the modern American drive-through convenience mentality, God desires of us a total conversion from our fallen human nature, our endless pride and selfishness, to a being dead to self and living only for God and through His Grace.  This is terribly hard, but God has given us great guides in the Saints to show that it is possible, and, even more, how to do it.  It’s simply a matter of dying to ourselves and living for God through good works done to others. Suffering humiliations tranquilly is a powerful means of dying to self.]

………St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to say that crosses and ignominies are the greatest favors that God is accustomed to bestow on his beloved spouses[Once again, contrary to protestant, especially modern American protestantism, which preaches that God just wants to shower ease and wealth and comfort on His chosen ones…….is that what He did to His son?  Is His Son and Our Lady the exemplars par excellence God has given us on both how to live our lives, and what to expect from the world when we live in accord with His Will?  I know even some Catholics who equate being pious with being blessed with happiness, comfort, ease, freedom from illness or financial difficulty, but this is very, very wrong.]

……….The Saints have not been made Saints by applause and honor, but by injuries and insults.  St. Ignatius Martyr, a bishop, and an object of universal esteem and veneration, was sent to Rome as a criminal, and on his way experienced from the soldiers who conducted him nothing but the most barbarous insolence.  In the midst of his suffering and humiliations he joyfully exclaimed: “I now begin to be a disciple of Christ.” I now begin to be a true disciple of my Jesus, who endured so m any ignominies for my sake……

.Let us then be persuaded that to be persecuted in this life confers the highest excellence on the Saints. “And,” says the Apostle, “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Tim iii:12). The Redeemer says, “If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (Jn xv:20).

————-End Quote————-

We live in an especially difficult time to acquire the virtue of humility.  More than in any past period, today we have paraded before our eyes constantly, especially if we have not yet destroyed our TVs, powerful images extolling pride and denigrating almost all virtue, but especially humility.  True humility is an almost unknown quantity in our mass media culture, and tranquil acceptance of humiliations is utterly baffling, especially for Americans, who have been taught for decades that having everything the way they want it this instant is a practical constitutional right. Vast numbers of the younger generations coming of age literally have zero conception of what life is like for the vast majority of humanity today, and, even more, the sufferings and privations involved in existence even a few short decades ago in anyplace but America.  Heck, my dad grew up without running water and electricity, and I was born in the 70s!  That just one tiny example.  Wealth, ease, and comfort are in many ways inimical to growth in virtue: and, of course, our task is made even harder still by the crisis in the Church.  It’s a terrible triple whammy.

But God is infinitely greater in his rewards, than what He asks of us in sacrifice.  Those who are able to cooperate with Grace in these increasingly dark times, what great Saints they will be, and what inspirations to future generations!

I pray such Saints may be found from among the readership of this blog.  As for the author, it is best to do as I say, not as I do…….

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A Happy Change of Pace from FrancisDoom: Various Quotes from St. Catherine of Siena September 20, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, fightback, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Holy suffering, Interior Life, mortification, religious, Saints, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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Thinking about Francis and the Rome Plow he is taking through the Church can quickly get depressing.  Plus, it’s always good to be encouraged.  I find few Saints more encouraging than St. Catherine of Siena.  The following quotes are rather random, but they all contain great spiritual direction and solid catechesis.  I pray you enjoy!

Quote 1:

O Charity, you are the sweet, holy bond uniting the soul to its Creator; you unite God to man and man to God.  you kept the Son of God nailed to the wood of the Holy Cross.  You unite those whom discord keeps apart. You enrich  with virtue those who are poor, because you give life to all the virtues.  You bring peace and suppress hatred and war.  You give patience, strength, and perseverance in return for every good and holy work.  You are never weary, you never turn aside from the love of God and neighbor, either because of weariness, pain, contempt, or insult.

O Christ, sweet Jesus, give me this holy charity, that I may persevere in doing good and never give it up; for he who possesses charity is founded on You, the living rock, and by following Your example, he learns from  You how to love his neighbor.  In You, O Christ, I read the rule and doctrine which are right for me, for You are the way, the truth, and the life.  If I read You, I shall follow the right path and shall occupy myself solely with the honor of God and the salvation of souls.

Quote 2:

I give You thanks, O eternal Father, because You have not despised Your creature, nor turned away Your face from me, nor ignored my desires. You, who are light, did not despise my darkness; You, who are life, did not go far away from me who am death; nor did You, the physician, fail to heal my wounds.……Your wisdom, mercy, and infinite goodness have not looked with scorn at all these and the infinite number of other evils and faults that are in me. What forced You to love me and to grant me so many graces? It was not my virtues but only Your charity. May I always keep Your favors in mind, and may my will burn with the fire of Your charity.

O inestimable Love, how admirable are the things You have done in Your creature! O my wretched, blind soul, where is your cry of gratitude, where are the tears you should shed in the sight of your God who is unceasingly calling to you?  Where are all my yearning desires in the sight of divine mercy? They are not in me because I have not yet lost myself, for if I were lost and had sought only You, my God, only the glory and the praise of Your Name, my heart would have thrilled in a hymn of gratitude.

Thanks be to You, o eternal, most high Trinity!  I am she who is not and You are He who is. Glorify Yourself by enabling me to praise You.  Pardon me, O Father, pardon me who am miserable, and ungrateful to You for the immense benefits I have received. I confess that Your goodness has preserved me, Your spouse, although because of my many defects I have often been unfaithful to You.

Quote 3:

O God, You have seen the weakness of our human nature; You know how weak, frail, and miserable it is; therefore, You, the sovereign Provider, Who in all things have provided for all the needs of Your creatures, You, the perfect repairer, who have given a remedy for all our ills, You gave us the rock and fortitude of will to strengthen the weakness of our flesh.  This will is so strong that no demon or creature can conquer it if we do not will it, that is, if our free will, which is in our own hands, does not consent.

O infinite Goodness, where does such great strength in Your creature’s will come from?  From You, sovereign, eternal Strength, because it shares in the strength of Your will.  Hence, we can see that our will is strong to the degree in which it follows Yours, and weak to the degree in which it deviates from Yours because You created our will to the likeness of Your Will, and therefore being in Yours, it is strong.

In our will, O eternal Father, You show the fortitude of Your Will; if You have given so much fortitude to a little member, what should we think Yours to be, O Creator and Ruler of all things?

It seems to me that this free will which You have given us is fortified by the light of faith, for in this light it knows Your will, which wishes nothing but our sanctification.  Then our will, fortified and nourished by our holy Faith, gives life to our actions, which explains why neither good will nor lively faith can exist without works.  Faith nourishes and maintains the fire of charity, because it reveals to our soul Your love and charity to us, and thus makes it strong in loving You.

Quote 4, especially important in light of Francis and all the travails afflicting the Church and pious souls:

O eternal God, grant me the virtue of perseverance; without it, no one can please You nor be acceptable to You.  This virtue brings to the soul an abundance of charity and the fruit of every effort.  Oh! how happy I should be, Lord, if You would give me this virtue, because even here on earth it will make me enjoy a pledge of eternal life. But Your light reveals to me that I cannot attain it unless I suffer much, because this life cannot be lived without suffering.  he who would escape suffering woulf deprive himself of holy perseverance. 

Finally, a bonus from St. Bernard:

No one is so presumptuous that he thinks his justice or holiness is enough to assure his salvation [Unless he is a protestant, or Francis but I repeat].  For this reason I hasten to You, O Jesus: Your Passion is my supreme refuge and sole remedy!  It comes to help us when our wisdom fails, when our justice is weak, and the merits of our holiness are useless.  When my strength grows weak, I shall not be discouraged.  I know what I must do: “I shall take the chalice of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.” Open by eyes, O God, that I may always know what is pleasing to You and then I shall be wise. Pardon the faults of my youth and ignorance, and I shall be just.  Lead me, O God, on Your path, and I shall be holy.  But if Your Blood does not intercede for me, I shall not be saved.

———-End Quote———

That’s it!

Saint Alphonsus on Maintaining Virtue Amidst Sin September 19, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, religious, Saints, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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Given the moral sewer in which we are condemned to swim in this culture, sin is something we are constantly confronted with.  It’s very easy to fall into a sharply condemnatory attitude towards those visibly lost in sin, especially when they attempt to subvert the very Truth of Jesus Christ in the furtherance of their sin.  When they do so, this hurts us, and we see the destruction the success they have in their attempt causes.  Of course, all sin must be repudiated and opposed. Of course error must be plainly pointed out and decried. But how to deal with the sinner himself has always been a more complex issue.  Another even greater danger than just writing off the sinner is exalting ourselves above those we see lost in sins that are maybe more visible or “worse” than our own.  This, according to Saint Alphonsus, is a most pernicious form of pride and one we should be wary of.  But all have sinned, and none can merit salvation outside the saving Grace of Jesus Christ.

There is much in the excerpt below some will find challenging.  Of course, this writing must be understood in context.  I am certainly not presenting this as a condemnation of anyone here.  In fact, I post it as an accusation against myself, as I am very guilty of preferring myself to others, and in holding myself in high esteem in not being the publican in the corner pounding my breast, when I should be.  Take it for what it is: some worthy catechesis from an eminent source for your consideration.

From The True Spouse of Jesus Christ pp. 314-6:

Should you ever see another commit some grievous sin, take dare not to indulge in pride, nor to be surprised at their fall; but pity their misfortune, and trembling for yourself, say with holy David: “Unless the Lord had been my helper, my soul had almost dwelt in hell” (Ps xciii:17).  If the Almighty had not been my protector, I should at this moment be buried in hell.  Beware of even taking vain complacency in the exemption from faults that you perceive in your companions [or those in the world around us?]; otherwise, in chastisement of your pride the Lord will permit you to fall into the sins which they have committed.  Cassian relates that a certain young monk, being for a long time molested by a violent temptation to impurity, sought advice and consolation from an aged father.  Instead of receiving encouragement and comfort he was loaded with reproaches.  “What!” said the old man, “is it possible that a monk should be subject to so abominable thoughts?!?” In punishment of his pride the Almighty permitted the Father to be assailed by the spirit of impurity to such a degree that he ran like a madman through the monastery.  Hearing of this miserable condition, the Abbot Appollo told him that God had permitted this temptation to punish his conduct towards the young monk, and also to teach him compassion for others in similar circumstances.  The Apostle tells us that in correcting sinners we should not treat them with contempt, lest God should permit us to be assailed by the temptation to which they yielded, and perhaps to all into the very sin which we were surprised to see them commit.  We should, before we reprove others, consider that we are as miserable and as liable to sin as our fallen brethren. [That is, fallen brethren.  This book was written specifically for religious.  Obviously in such an environment everyone should be considered of the best faith and motives.  In the world, it’s a bit different.  That does not mean we should exalt ourselves above those we believe sin.  But it does mean that the degree of confrontation and the meekness with which it is carried out can be different from the cloistered environment.] Brethren, if any man be overtaken in a fault….instruct such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself lest thou also be tempted (Gal vi:1).  The same Cassian relates that a certain abbot called Machete confessed that he himself had miserably fallen into three faults, of which he had rashly judged his brethren.

Consider yourself the greatest sinner on earth.  They who are truly humble, because they are most perfectly enlightened by God, possess the most perfect knowledge not only of the Divine perfections, but also of their own miseries and sins.  Hence, notwithstanding their extraordinary sanctity, the Saints, not in the language of exaggeration, but in the sincerity of their souls, called themselves the greatest sinners in the world.  St. Francis of Assisi called himself the worst of sinners; St. Thomas of Villanova was kept in a state of continual fear and trembling by the thought of the account he was one day to render to God of his life; which, though full of virtue, appeared to him very wicked.  St. Gertrude considered it a miracle that the earth did not open under her feet and swallow her up alive, in punishment of her sins.  St. Paul, the first hermit, was in the habit of exclaiming: “Woe to me, a sinner, who am unworthy to bear the name of a  monk!” In the writings of Fr. M Avila we read of a person of great sanctity who besought the Lord to make known to her the state of her soul.  Her prayer was heard, and so deformed and abominable was the appearance of her soul, though stained only with the guilt of venial sins, that struck with horror, she cried out: “For mercy’s sake, O Lord, take away from before my eyes the representation of this monster!”

Beware, then, of every preferring yourself to any one.  To esteem yourself better than others, is abundantly sufficient to make you worse than all.  “Others,” says Tritemius, “you have despised: you have therefore become worse than others.” Again to entertain a high opinion of your own desserts, is enough to deprive you of all merit.  Humility consists principally in a sincere conviction that we deserve only reproach and chastisement.  If, by preferring yourself to others, you have abused the gifts and graces which God has conferred upon you, they will only serve for your greater condemnation at the hour of judgment.  But it is not enough to abstain from preferring yourself to any one: it is, moreover, necessary that you consider yourself the last and worst of all……First, because in yourself you see with certainty so many sins; but the sins of others you know not, and their secret virtues, which are hidden from  your eyes, may render them very dear in the sight of God.  You ought to consider also, that by the aid of the lights and graces which you have received from God you should at this moment be a Saint.  If they had been given to an infidel, he would perhaps have become a seraph, and you are still so miserable and full of defects………as St. Thomas teaches, the malice of sin increases in proportion to the ingratitude of the sinner.

———–End Excerpt———–

It is true that many Saints considered themselves the worst of sinners.  They did this not only for the reasons given above, but also because of the extraordinary sensitivity of their consciences.  We who are more dead to ourselves are also more dead to the reality of the sins we commit.  Not exactly a pleasant thought to consider, but a necessary one, and one I pray I may dwell on more and more – and that this may lead to a growth in my own sanctity, which is the point of it all, anyway!

This does not mean we should not point out sin and error when we see it, especially when sin and error are presented as virtue and truth, and even more so, when evil is presented as good within the Church herself.  But we must be careful not to exalt ourselves as above these things, nor to condemn those we see as lost in sin as somehow beneath us.  That’s a very easy trap to fall into, and one satan has probably fooled me with more than a few times.  Meekness and humility are key to the practice of virtue, correspondence with Grace, growth in the interior life, and thus, our salvation. It is precisely absence of these cornerstone virtues that paved the way – in my estimation – for the crisis that has afflicted the Church these past several decades.  It was pride and self-exaltation that caused lowly men to judge that God, and their saintly predecessors, had it all wrong for centuries, or that the Truth that made Saints of innumerable sinners over generations, somehow no longer applied to “modern man.”

What the Church needs a great heaping dose of right now, is, humility and meekness, with regard to the saving Truth of Jesus Christ.  That starts with me (but I’ll probably blow it tomorrow – God have mercy!).

Briefest Reminder Posts – Assumption and Kolbe Novenas August 7, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Domestic Church, family, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, Novenas, Our Lady, Saints, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, Virtue.
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The Assumption Novena properly started yesterday, but you can start today and finish on the feast.  The Novena for Maximilian Kolbe started Saturday but better late than never.

Brief Assumption Novena below:

Mary, Queen Assumed into Heaven, I rejoice that after years of heroic martyrdom on earth, Thou hast at last been taken to the throne
prepared for Thee in heaven by the Holy Trinity.

Lift my heart with Thee in the glory of Thy Assumption above the dreadful touch of sin and impurity. Teach me how small earth becomes when viewed from heaven. Make me realize that death is the triumphant gate
through which I shall pass to Thy Son, and that someday my body shall rejoin my soul in the unending bliss of heaven.

From this earth, over which I tread as a pilgrim, I look to Thee for help. I ask for this favor:

(State your intention here…)

When my hour of death has come, lead me safely to the presence of Jesus to enjoy the vision of my God for all eternity together with Thee.

Novena to St. Maximilian Kolbe:

O St. Maximilian Kolbe,

faithful follower of St. Francis,

inflamed by the love of God

you dedicated your life to the practice of virtue

and to works of the apostolate.

Look down with favor upon us

who devoutly confide in your intercession, especially for:

(here mention your special requests)

 

Having consecrated yourself to the Immaculate Virgin Mary,

you inspired countless souls to a holy life

and various forms of the apostolate

in order to do good to others

and to spread the kingdom of God.

Obtain for us the grace by our lives and labors

to draw many souls to Christ.

 

In your close conformity to our Divine Savior

you reached such an intense degree of love

that you offered your life to save a fellow prisoner.

Implore God that we,

inflamed by such ardent charity,

may through our living faith and our apostolic works

witness Christ to others,

and thus merit to join you in the blessed vision of God.

Amen.

Praying as a family has such enormous spiritual efficacy!  Perhaps you could have as an intention for your Novena the conversion of this nation and our fallen world – or maybe better yet the conversion of the leadership of the Church and the restoration of the Church’s human element.

Whatever your intention, Novenas as a beautiful aspect of Catholic Tradition!

Catholic Tradition in Prayer: Saint Patrick’s Breastplate August 3, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, history, Interior Life, Saints, sanctity, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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According to tradition, St. Patrick wrote this hymn in AD 433 for divine protection before successfully converting the Irish king Leoghaire and his subjects from paganism to Christianity.  The breastplate of course references Ephesians vi:12-18, wherein St. Paul describes the various armaments we must take on (those of prayer and virtue) in order to do battle with the principalities and powers of this world.  So the name is quite apropos for the combat the great Saint of Ireland engaged in in converting a violent pagan country to the sweet yoke of Jesus Christ.

Some dispute whether the prayer really is that ancient, but at any rate it is beautiful, and since I had never come across it before reading The Gentle Traditionalist, I figured you may not be familiar with it, either.  Or maybe it’s widely known, I really don’t know.  At any rate, here it is:

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.

I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.

I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

———-End Quote————

It’s rather pretty and, I would say, quite lyrically Irish, is it not? I like it quite a bit. I hope to add this regularly to my prayer rotation.  God willing.

Perhaps this prayer might be invoked with the great evangelist Saint Patrick that the Church might be gifted with men of similar faith, devotion, and willingness to speak the truth in our own age.  The Church desperately needs some new Saints to reinvigorate the remaining faithful and begin converting the fallen away masses.

PS there are shorter versions of this prayer.  They basically are limited to the last half of the above.

Saint Alphonsus Liguori on How to Perform Our Actions Well      July 19, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Domestic Church, family, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Holy suffering, mortification, Saints, sanctity, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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In performing our actions well, the Saint means in the manner most pleasing to God.  This excerpt is from The True Spouse of Jesus Christ, a book originally intended for religious, but this section in particular has great relevance for all souls, not only those specifically consecrated to God in religious life (pp. 187-9).

Many times, we may get bogged down with the seemingly dull routine of life. We might find our job less than satisfying. We may be tempted to find as many distractions to get us through the day as possible (like, say, blogging).  We might find raising and educating kids very tiresome after 5 or 10 or even 2 years.  We might find it a lot more appealing to spend the afternoon on Facebook rather than do the laundry and check the kid’s math homework.

Even though our daily actions may not seem glamorous, even though they may eventually come to seem to be a tiresome routine, these constitute (for laity) the duties of our vocation in life and the means God has given us to grow in Grace and virtue.  We should not only perform these duties with great diligence, but we should even thank God for these means  He gives us to draw nearer to Him in this life.

Begin excerpt:

The following are the means to perform our actions well:

The first means is to preserve during the discharge of our duties a lively sense of the presence of God, that thus every act may be worthy of His divine eyes.

The second means is, to perform every work as if it were the only duty you had to fulfill. When at prayer, let your sole care be to pray well; when you say the Divine Office [which is not enjoined as precept on laity, but which is an extremely beneficial devotion], direct all your attention to the devout recitation of it; when engaged in any employment, your soul concern should be to discharge it well.  Think of nothing but the duty in which you are occupied. To examine, during the time of prayer, how you will direct a certain work, or to reflect on the mans of performing some other duty, is a temptation of the enemy.  “When,” says Saint John of Avila, “any unseasonable thought enters your mind, say: God does not will that I think at this moment on such a subject; and therefore it is not useful for me to reflect upon it: when He commands  me, I shall attend to it.”

The third means is, to perform every action as if it were the last of your life.  St. Anthony frequently recommended this means to his disciples. “In every work,” says St. Bernard, “let each one say to himself: If I were about to die, would I do this?”  Would I it in in this manner? Were this the last Mass that I should hear, with what devotion would I be present at it?………Were this my last Communion or my last meditation, with what fervor would I perform it?  When, says St. Basil, you discharge the duties of the morning, imagine that you shall not live till evening; when night approaches, think that you shall not see morning……….

Four, to think each day only on the labors of the day, is another means which greatly assists weak souls to discharge their duties with fervor.  The apprehension of the pains to be endured, in living till death with so much exactness, and in continually resisting self-love, is one of the causes which make many lose courage in the way of God.  The best means of conquering this temptation is to imagine each morning that you have but one day to live.  Whoever represents to himself that only one day of life remains, will certainly perform all the actions of that day with great perfection.  This means is very profitable for weak souls, but strong and perfect Christians do not require to conceal from themselves the labors necessary for the attainment of sanctity; they rejoice in suffering, and pant for opportunities of pleasing God.

Fifth, and finally, to those beginning to walk in the way of perfection it will be very useful to consider that what is in itself difficult and painful will by habit soon become easy and agreeableI will, says the Holy Ghost, lead thee by the paths of equity; which, when thou shalt have entered, shall not be straightened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not meet a stumbling block (Prov iv:11-12).  I will, says the Lord, first conduct  you into the narrow paths of virtue; but you shall soon walk through a broad and pleasing way, and there you shall run without difficulties or obstacles. “At first,” says St. Bernard, writing to Pope Eugenius, “some duty will seem intolerable; if you accustom yourself to it, in process of time it will not appear so difficult; afterwards you shall not feel it; and in the end you will delight in it.” Behold with your eyes, says Ecclesiasticus, how I have labored a little, and have found much rest to myself (Eccl li:35).

———-End Quote———–

Do you find it difficult to present to yourself each day or night as your last? This is something I – I’m not sure struggle with is the right phrase – I have not developed the habit of or accustomed myself to.   It seems something very much worth trying, for both embracing some of my more prosaic duties and overcoming some attachments I have so far been unable to separate myself from.  If you have experience with these methods, please share, or if you try them, let me know how they work out.

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga on the Practice of Humility June 6, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in attachments, Basics, catachesis, Domestic Church, family, General Catholic, Grace, mortification, Saints, sanctity, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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If you’re anything like me, you may have a hard time practicing humility.  I don’t think blogging as an enterprise is well-suited for the development of humility, but it doesn’t have to be incompatible with the practice of this virtue.

In this era of exaltation of the self and the cult of instant gratification, probably few virtues aside from purity have been more trammeled on and disregarded than humility.

Mostly I fail in humility in preferring my own thoughts, plans, and opinions to others.  But I also do so in myriad other ways.  Probably most readers are stronger in this virtue than I am.  If so, please pray for me.

On the other hand, if you feel you could use some help in the growth of the practice of humility, you might consider the counsel given by the great Saint Aloysius Gonzaga. There are no great mysteries or deep behavioral insights below, but I have found that imploring the Lord, the Blessed Virgin, and the Saints for their help in acquiring this virtue can reap great rewards. Especially focus on those Saints known for their humility, such as St. Teresa of Avila and Saint Mary Magdalene dei Pazzi. Also, St. Joseph, especially for men, is our model of humility.  He is barely mentioned in the Gospels, because he married exceedingly well the practice of humility with his role as protector and provider of the two holiest creatures who have ever trod the earth. I find this an especial challenge for fathers, marrying humility with right family leadership, not asserting what I want because of my role, but also not failing in my God-given duty as leader of our domestic church and family.  It is a difficult balance, one I cannot say I always practice with perfection.

Intro aside, here are Saint Aloysius Gonzaga’s two rules for making progress in humility:

The first means is to remember that although this virtue is most becoming to man, on account of his lowliness, nevertheless it does not grow upon our earth, but must be obtained from Heaven by prayer to Him, from Whom every best gift and every perfect gift comes.  Since, then, you are proud, force yourself to ask this virtue of the infinite Majesty of God, its first Source, with all the humility of which you are capable, and ask it through the merits and intercession of the deep humility of Jesus Christ, Who, when He was in the form of God, emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant.

The second means is to have recourse to the intercession of those Saints who have especially excelled in this virtue.

Remember, first, that if the Saints while on earth merited to obtain this virtue in such a high degree, they must certainly now be still more worthy and deserving, since in Heaven they are far more pleasing to God than they ever were on earth. And as they no longer need to humble themselves for their own sake, since by this virtue they have already won their way to the heights of Heaven, beg of them to obtain for you from God this virtue of humility.

Secondly, consider that on earth everyone naturally tries to help those who follow the calling in which he has distinguished himself.  For example, a great general who frequents the King’s Court will recommend to his royal master those who devote themselves to service in the army; a distinguished man of letters will patronize those who follow a literary vocation………So too in Heaven those who excelled in some particular virtue more than in others, whilst they lived on earth, will most favor and help those who are striving most to acquire these virtues, and who seek their intercession in order to obtain them.  These considerations should encourage you, in the first place, to have recourse especially to the Blessed Virgin Mother of God, for she excelled in the virtue of humility far beyond any other mere creature.  Then hasten to the holy Apostles, to St. Peter, who said of himself “Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man), and to St. Paul, who, although he had been rapt into the third heaven, had such a humble opinion of himself that he said: “Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am the chief.”

The first of these two thoughts will help you to understand how powerful these Saints are with God in obtaining for  you this virtue; and the second will show you not only how much they are able to do, but also how willing they are to do it.

———-End Excerpt———–

Saint Alphonsus’ 16 Principal Means for Attaining Sanctity June 1, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, mortification, religious, Saints, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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The world may seem to be falling down around us, but our duty is to practice virtue and work towards the attainment of the greatest sanctity possible regardless.  From The True Spouse of Jesus Christ, Saint Alphonsus’ 16 means to the attainment of sanctity.

This list, as it goes along, becomes quite challenging, but it is held up as an example of how to attain perfection, to whatever degree we are capable in cooperation with Grace:

  1. Strong and ardent desire to become a saint.
  2. Great confidence in Jesus Christ and in His Holy Mother.
  3. To avoid every deliberate sin or defect, and after a fault not to lose courage, but to make an act of contrition for it, and then resume  your ordinary occupations.
  4. To cut off all attachment to creatures, to self-will, and self-esteem.
  5. To resist continually your own inclinations. [4 and 5 are very difficult, and will take many a lifetime even to begin, but we are talking about attainment of practical perfection, to the degree humans aided by Grace are capable of such.  The thing is to do  your best and, most importantly, always be advancing, never retreating]
  6. To observe with exactness the rules governing your state in life.
  7. To perform your ordinary duties with all possible perfection
  8. To communicate often – with the permission of your director/priest; to make long and frequent meditations,  and to perform all the mortifications which he will permit
  9. To prefer, on all occasions, those actions which are most agreeable to God, and most opposed to self-love.
  10. To receive all crosses and contradictions with joy and gladness from the hands of God.
  11. To love and serve those who persecute you. [10 and 11 are also very difficult. They are so contrary to our fallen natures. But again we are talking about working towards perfection]
  12. To spend every moment of your time for God.
  13. To offer to God all your actions in union with the merits of Jesus Christ.
  14. To make a special oblation of yourself to God, that He may dispose of you and of all you possess in whatever way He pleases.
  15. To protest continually before God that His pleasure and love are the only objects of your wishes.
  16. Lastly, and above all, to pray continually, and to recommend yourself, with unbounded confidence, to Jesus Christ and to His Virgin Mother and to entertain a special affection and tenderness towards Mary.

On the need to always be advancing in sanctity, and never retreating, a further excerpt:

“Not to advance,” says St. Augustine, “is to go back.” St. Gregory beautifully explains this maxim of spiritual life by comparing a Christian who seeks to remain stationary in the path of virtue to a man who is in a boat on a rapid river, and striving to keep the boat always in the same position………Since the fall of Adam man is naturally inclined to evil from birth……..Because, in the way of God, a Christian must either go forward and advance in virtue or backward and rush headlong into vice.

In seeking eternal salvation, we must, according to St. Paul, never rest, but must run continually in the way of perfection, that we may win the prize and secure an incorruptible crown.  So that you may obtain (I Cor ix:24). If we fail, the fault will be ours; for God wills that all be holy and perfect.  This is the will of God – your sanctification (I Thess iv:3). He even commands us to be perfect and holy.  Be you therefore perfect, also your Heavenly Father is perfect (Matt v:48). Be holy because I am holy. [Lest we think God demands more of us than is possible……..] He promises and gives, as the holy Council of Trent teaches, abundant strength, for the observance of all His commands, to those who ask it from Him.  “God does not command impossibilities; but by His precepts He admonishes you to do what you can, and to ask what you cannot do; and He assists you, that you may be able to do it.”

———-End Quote———–

Earlier in the week we had the four practices that principally sanctified Saint Aloysius Gonzaga.  St. Alphonsus breaks those down into more detailed steps with a bit different emphasis.  There are many mansions in the Father’s house. There are many paths to sanctity.  But all revolve around constant prayer, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady, self-denial, practice of virtue, and eschewing all sin.  Not difficult to understand, but extremely difficult to practice.

Especially in this fallen age.  But it has always been such, I suppose.

The Four Sacred Devotions that Drove Saint Aloysius Gonzaga to Great Sanctity May 30, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Domestic Church, Eucharist, family, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, manhood, mortification, religious, Saints, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, thanksgiving, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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From the Life of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Patron of Christian Youth by Maurice Meschler, SJ, the four pious practices the Saint felt were most efficacious in achieving great sanctity and practice of devotion to our Blessed Lord.  None of  these particular devotions will be strange or unfamiliar to readers, but the passion and fervor with which they were practiced were spectacular.  Our Catholic Faith is not difficult to comprehend – many wholly uneducated people have  become hidden saints – but it is very difficult to put into practice.  That is why the Lord has blessed His Church with many canonized Saints, to provide us with direct examples of how to conduct lives pleasing to Him:

The practice of the various Catholic devotions is an important point, and an excellent means of promoting the spiritual life.  Aloysius had four special devotions.  The first of these was the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.  In his father’s house and in the midst of his life in the world, it had been a joy to him to serve Mass; and now in the novitiate he could do this to his heart’s content.  Very often during the day he visited the Blessed Sacrament in the church, or in an adjoining chapel.  In order to prepare well for Holy Communion, he divided the week into two parts, the first of which he devoted to thanksgiving for his last Communion, and the second to preparation for the next. [Back then, even such obvious Saints as Aloysius Gonzaga could only receive weekly, if they were fortunate.  Today we can the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar daily, but do we really adequately prepare ourselves, or render due thanksgiving, for this unspeakable Gift? Do we sometimes, or perhaps often, take it for granted, or allow the concerns of the world and the flesh to crowd our souls and cause us to receive the Sacrament in a blasé fashion? While we may not have the time or the gift of such immense sanctity to make such preparations or thanksgivings as Gonzaga did, perhaps we could do a bit more?]    On the eve of his Communion day he would speak with touching piety of the happiness in store for him the next morning.  Many of his companions, and even those who were already priests, who wished to prepare well for Holy Mass, sought to be with him on such days, in order to be moved to greater fervor by his piety and the ardent love which his words displayed.  On the morning of the day itself, his first thought was of the Savior he was about to receive, and he passed the whole hour appointed for meditation in pious reflections upon the Blessed Sacrament.  He sought out a quiet corner of the church to make his immediate preparation and thanksgiving, and his heart overflowed with the sweetest consolation. Many other worshippers who saw him, but did not know him, concluded merely from the sight of his fervor that he must have a special devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and even that he must be a Saint.  He spent the whole morning after his Communion in silence and recollection, praying and reading passages from St. Augustine or St. Bernard. [If Saint Aloysius devoted days and hours to preparation and thanksgiving, perhaps we could arrive to Mass a 10 or 15 minutes early (or more) to properly prepare ourselves, and not move to depart the church the instant Mass ends?] Thus the precious seed, planted by Saint Charles Borremeo in the child’s heart at his First Communion, had grown into a beautiful tree that enriched his whole life and character with its blossoms and fruits.  [For it was from this Saint that Aloysius Gonzaga received his First Communion]….And the Church herself has raised an imperishable memorial to this beautiful trait of his piety, in the Collects of the Mass for his feast, in which she commemorates his excellent method of preparation and thanksgiving for Communion, and begs God to grant us the grace to ever appear at this heavenly banquet adorned with the wedding garment of Grace, whose beauty Aloysius enhanced as with pearls of inestimable value by his pious preparation and copious tears.

A second favorite devotion of the Saint was that to the Passion of Our Lord.  The life of suffering and mortification he led naturally urged him to seek in the mysteries of the Passion a model of strength and comfort.  Everyday at noon he recited an antiphon in honor of the Passion, and placed himself in spirit before the Cross of Our Savior……

…….His third devotion was his ardent love of Our Lady. Since his sojourn in Florence she had been the Queen of his heart and the guiding star of his life, and he never tired of thinking of her, honoring her, praising and loving her, especially now that he could appreciate the inestimable benefit he owed to her in his vocation.  In his letters to his mother he frequently recommends her to have a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin, holds up to her in her trials the example of the Mother of God and encourages her to be faithful in the service of the Queen of Heaven……

..Lastly, Aloysius had a special devotion to the holy Angels.  Virginal souls have a certain affinity to the Angels, and always feel attracted to them.  His veneration for these blessed spirits was so well-known to his companions that when Fr. Vincent Bruno was about to publish a book of meditations, he asked Aloysius to write the meditation on the Holy Angels, and the Saint joyfully complied.  Thus originated the little “Treatise upon the Angels, especially the Holy Guardian Angels.” After having cited the principal passages of Scripture in which the Angels are mentioned, he speaks in the first part of Angels in general, showing the necessity of devotion to them, first, from the example of the Church, secondly, from their nature and dignity, third, from their number, and lastly from their ninefold order. It is remarkable and very characteristic of Aloysius, that he unites devotion to the HOly Angels with his favorite virtue of humility in this first part of the meditation: “Consider how fitting it is, that on the feast of the invincible Arcangel the Gospel of the virtue of humility is read; for while proud Lucifer, on the one hand, was precipitated from his lofty throne in Heaven down into the depths of hell, because he presumed to arrogate divine honor to himself, the humble Archangel Michael and the whole host of the good Angels were highly honored and raised to the  highest rank, because they submitted to their Creator and full of zeal for his honor, opposed the proud serpent.”

……A colloquy with God after the meditation teaches us “to beg Him, Who bestowed such abundant graces upon the Angels, to grant unto us also through their intercession the grace to imitate their humility, clarity, and purity.”…..

…….A slip of paper has been preserved, upon which Aloysius had noted down for his own use a few “pious practices in honor of the Holy Angels”: “Imagine yourself standing in the midst of the nine choirs of Angels, as they pray to God and sing that hymn of praise: ‘Sanctus Deus, Sanctus Fortis, Sanctus Immortalis.’ Repeat this prayer nine times in union with them – Recommend yourself three times daily to the special care of your Guardian Angel.  Every morning and evening, and during the day, when you visit the church and pray at the altar, recite the prayer ‘Angele Dei.’ [Angel of God…..] Remember that you must follow the guidance of your Angel, like a blind man who does not know the way, and trusts entirely to the care of the person who leads him.”……….

……..One of the effects of his frequent and fervent prayers was an uninterrupted union with God.  It cost Aloysius more effort to put the thought of God away from his mind than it does others to turn their thoughts away from creatures to God.

———–End Quote———-

I was unfamiliar with Saint Aloysius before reading this biography, but what a great Saint he was.  And is.  A patron for Christian youth, indeed, his purity was unequaled.  He often did not even know what women he had been met numerous times before looked like, so skilled was he in practicing custody of the eyes.  His practice of prayer and penance was so immense his superiors in the Jesuit novitiate actually had to restrict his activities to some degree in these regards, so as not to so surpass his confreres as to disrupt the unity of the group nor cause discouragement in others.

I would strongly encourage parents to learn about Saint Aloysius Gonzaga and have their children do the same.  He is a great example and powerful protector in this time of gross immodesty, unchecked lusts, and a million lurking dangers for children.

The “Other” Miracle at Fatima after the Sun Danced May 24, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, fun, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, history, Our Lady, Saints, sanctity, thanksgiving, Tradition.
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Reader TE sent this to me this past week, it’s not a huge miracle but it’s an interesting follow-up to what was the most widely seen miracle in the history of the Church – at least since Pentecost or when our Blessed Lord walked this earth:

Several years ago Carl Malburg had the privilege of speaking with a woman who was present in Fatima at the Miracle of the Sun. But what she really wanted to tell him about was the second miracle she witnessed there at Fatima shortly after she and everyone saw the sun dancing in the sky, hurling toward earth, then returning to its place in the heavens.

…….While following the usual pattern of going to a diocese then traveling through parishes, hospitals, and nursing homes with that Pilgrim Virgin statue, Malburg happened to be in San Diego in 1997. There, a woman told him her mother was in Fatima and saw the miracle.  [So this was a little more than several years go.  It was more like 20.]

Malburg picks up the story. “The woman said my mother has always wished to be interviewed because she’s always wanted to tell the story. She is still living, 92 years old now. She insists Our Lady is keeping her mind sharp until someone interviews her.” 

The custodian told this daughter he didn’t know Portuguese but would get someone he knew to translate. He chuckled at this point because the woman answered him, “My mother’s lived in America since 1942. She lost all her Portuguese years ago.”

Since this was the first-ever person at the Miracle of the Sun that Malburg encountered, he asked John Haffert to go with him to talk to her. But Haffert told him to go by himself.

“I found out why she thought why she should be interviewed,” he well remembers from when he got there. “She said she was 12, and that she and the other girls — four of them — walked all the way up from the coast to Fatima.”

Malburg continued with the story as the elderly woman told it. “We were children, and we pushed our way through the crowd. We came really close to the center where the apparitions would be there, and we climbed on some rocks and blocked the view of people behind. We could look down and see [everything]. The three children [Lucia, Jacinta, Francisco] would never have gotten there unless carried on the shoulders of some big men who pushed their way through the crowds.”

Malburg didn’t go into detail about what the woman, whose name has disappeared in the annals of time and travels, said about the sun, but that “she wanted to tell me something else. She moved on because there was another miracle not in the books,” he says. [So a woman reveals a heretofore unknown, and quite significant, set of details regarding the unprecedented apparitions and miracles at Fatima, and you don’t bother to get a name?!?  Dude.]

She told him, “A lot of people picked the twigs and leaves of the bushes to take” because they smelled so good, so aromatic. Those went quickly. “But we picked up some pebbles around the bush [by where Our Lady appeared] because they would smell good too.” Malburg was amazed that here it was 80 years later and she told him she had those pebbles in her furniture draw, making her clothes smell fresh even then.

The woman continued her miracle story. “People put their rosaries on the ground. They knew what way the Blessed Mother would face, and they put their rosaries out there in front of the place. [The pile of] rosaries were shaped like a cross. [After the apparition] There were so many that when everybody went to get their rosaries, they were all tangled up. And they were trying to find the right rosary.

“The men had the three children up on their shoulders again,” she said. Malburg adds, “Otherwise they would be buffeted and smothered — I knew that for a fact.” The woman told him about the girl’s new dresses and people pulling pieces of the lace around them. Malburg also knew about that.

“It was all adding up except the rosaries,” he says. “Then she said, One of the children saw the people had the rosaries all tangled. Then the children slid down from the shoulders, took a handful of [the tangled] rosaries and just passed them out. None were tangled! And everybody got the right rosary! We watched that happen!” she told Malburg, still in amazement.

The woman had waited to tell someone who someday in her lifetime was going to interview her that story about what she and her friends witnessed with the pile of tangled rosaries miraculously untangled, and each one immediately given to the right owner without the seer knowing who in that crowd owned which one.

“My wife and I got goosebumps listening to that,” Malburg recalls.

He immediately asked Haffert, “Are you aware people laid their rosaries in the mud hoping to get a blessing on them?” No one ever told him that, he answered.

“This lady told me a lot of rosaries were laid around the bush,” Malburg repeated, and she said “rosaries were all tangled up. She insisted they [she and her friends] were standing on the rocks, and saw the children pick the rosaries up and hand them out blindly, and everyone got their right rosary.”

Haffert answered him, “Why would you doubt it?”

About 10 years later Malburg came across a magazine article in Portugal that verified this miracle. “This truly was one of the highlights,” he says of the story of the second, little-known miracle at Fatima right after the sun danced in the sky. 

As I said, not exactly a huge miracle, but interesting.  Have you ever heard of this before?