Words to Live by – from Catholic Tradition

The Holy Rosary, indicating our future salvation or damnation

St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort writes:

Here is what our Blessed Lady revealed to Blessed Alan de la Roche as recorded in his book, The Dignity of the Rosary: “Know, my son, and make it known to all, that lukewarmness or negligence in saying the Hail Mary, or a distaste for it, is a probable and proximate sign of eternal damnation, for by this prayer the whole world was restored.”  …

On the other hand, we know from experience that those who show positive signs of being among the elect, appreciate and love the Hail Mary and are always glad to say it. The closer they are to God, the more they love this prayer, as our Blessed Lady went on to tell Blessed Alan.

I do not know how this should be, but it is perfectly true; and I know no surer way of discovering whether a person belongs to God than by finding out if he loves the Hail Mary and the Rosary.

Quoted from True Devotion to Mary, by St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, ¶¶ 250-251.

 

CC in brief — October

Catholic Candle note: Catholic Candle normally examines particular issues thoroughly, at length, using the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and the other Doctors of the Church.  By contrast, our feature CC in brief, gives an extremely short answer to a reader’s question.  We invite readers to submit their own questions.

Q:  In the Our Father, it says “lead us not into temptation”.  Why would God lead us into temptation?  (And if these words do not actually mean “lead us”, why does the Our Father say “lead us”?)

A: Sacred Scripture sometimes speaks of God doing what He permits to be done.  For example, in the Book of Exodus, God says He will harden Pharao’s heart, whereas God permitted Pharao to harden his own heart.  Exodus, 4:21.  In these words of the Our Father, we are asking God to not permit us to be conquered by temptation and so to commit sin.

The Exquisite Blessings of Possessing the Truth

Objective truth series Reflection #15

Our reason is such a wonderful faculty given to us by God.  By our reason we come to the knowledge of truth as we discussed in the last Reflection.  In this Reflection we intend to consider the moral obligation we have to use our reason, and to see how by using our reason and the light of our Faith, God directs and protects our souls. 

One way we can learn about our moral obligation to use our reason is by looking at the Principal and Foundation from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God, Our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.  All other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him fulfill the end for which he is created.  From this it follows that man is to use these things to the extent that they will help him to attain his end.  Likewise, he must rid himself of them in so far as they prevent him from attaining it [viz., his end].  

Our Lady teaches us through St. Ignatius how crucial it is for man to use his reason to make the proper distinctions between what creatures are good for man – which help him attain his end – and what creatures are harmful to man in attaining his end.

God expects us to use our reason because He created us rational.  For Our Lord says, “… some fell upon good ground; and being sprung up, yielded fruit a hundred-fold.  Saying these things, He cried out: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” St. Luke’s Gospel, 8:8.

We know we are obliged in conscience to use our reason.  In fact, when we use our reason, we can know God’s Will for us.  One example of this is that the errors of our times become self-evident.

It is almost as if God rewards us for using our reason.  Nevertheless, it is His Will that we use our reason.  We should value the fact that God made us with the use of reason.  God intends that we perfect our intellects by learning more and more about Him and His wonderful creation.

Consequently, we are properly humbled when we learn more because we see how very small we are compared to God, His creation, and particularly His holy angels.  We begin to count knowledge as a blessing which we are so unworthy to have.  How great God is!  We know that we are so blessed to have the truth!

In our times of great apostasy, seeing reality is a precious blessing.  Many souls do not see the obvious.  As Our Lady of Fatima said, “Many souls are going to hell because they have no one to pray for them.”  Hence, we can see that truth is a gift from God and He is not obliged to give it to us.

As we said in the previous Reflection, “Truth is the mind’s conformity to reality.” What is the highest reality man can know?  It is in the realm of theology and knowing about God Himself.  Where can we discover this knowledge about God?  Of course, the answer is from our Holy Catholic Faith.  In our Baptism we received this priceless treasure – our Faith.  With our Faith, we must be vessels of truth.  We must be apostles of truth in this pagan world.  We would not want to trade the Faith or any of the truth we hold, for anything in the world!  We cannot thank God enough for the Faith and the truth!

The following words of Our Lord are so consoling, “And you shall know the truth: and the truth shall make you free.”  St. John’s Gospel, 8:32. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No man cometh to the Father, but by Me.” St. John’s Gospel, 14:6.

And as we know from what Our Lord told us, “For many are called, but few are chosen”,[1] and “How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!”,[2] that Our Lord is telling us strongly how few is the number of the elect.  Therefore, to save our souls is a tremendous blessing and gift of God.  We know we must pray fervently to God to beg Him to allow us to be in the number of the Elect.

We cannot presume that we will be in the number of the Elect.  Yet, God wants us to remember through the virtue of hope, that He will not abandon us if we do not abandon Him.  Hence, we must pray earnestly to Him to help us never give up through proud despair.

We can easily conclude that when we simply ponder the fact that we do not deserve the gift of Faith, we see that God is lovingly protecting us in these times of dark apostasy.  All the more should we want to use our reason to the best of our abilities, cling to our God-given Faith, and pray for the gift of final perseverance.  But in addition to these, we should desire to stand up for the Faith and spread the Faith, remembering also Our Lord’s words, “And the unprofitable servant cast ye out into the exterior darkness.  There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth”.  St. Matthew’s Gospel. 25:30.  Remembering also that Our Lord says, “Unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required”[3], we would certainly want to show God our sincerest gratitude for the blessing of the use of our reason, and the tremendous gift of the Faith.  We really cannot thank God enough for these exquisite blessings.  Knowing that words cannot go far enough to express our gratitude, we might try, with something like the following:

Our use of reason, oh what joy!

God wants us, this tool, to employ.

Deeper and richer truths to know,

Can our intellect perfect grow.

 

Created our we, our souls to save,

For this end, our reason God gave.

 Countless benefits by good use,

And evil snares, we can deduce.

 

In these dark times, in which we live,

Grateful to God, that He doth give,

A way to see, more what He wills,

Thinking clearly, this improves skills.

 

Sadly, so few, try to inspect,

Deeply into, any subject,

They, at the surface, content stay,

With the flow of the breeze, they sway.

 

Thanks be to God, we know not to

Do the things that, the worldlings do,

Much farther we search and can see,

How God does not, want us to be.

 

Caught up in, the world’s silly mess,

Making little things, our distress,

 But to have, an eternal view,

Our souls are of the most value!

 

With reason, by Faith, perfected,

And praying to be elected,

We can know that our gifts are rare,

Of God, others seem, not to care.

 

We cannot give God enough thanks,

To be counted in the Faith’s ranks,

Undeserved are these, many gifts,

By which our soul, up to God, lifts.

 

Let us pour out our hearts and souls,

Praise God for giving us true goals,

Thankful for all the benefits,

Of our Catholic Faith and wits.



[1]           St. Matthew’s Gospel, 22:14.

 

[2]           St. Matthew’s Gospel, 7:14.

 

[3]           St. Luke’s Gospel, 12:48.

Words to Live by – from Catholic Tradition

The Voice of Christ:

Do not consider yourself forsaken if I send some temporary hardship, or withdraw the consolation you desire.  For this is the way to the kingdom of heaven.

The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis, Book III, Chapter 30.

False Human Respect: The Deceit of the Devil vs. The Desire of Pursuing the Truth

Objective Truth Series – Reflections Article #14

In our last reflection we considered how God wants us to seek His help in our problems.  However, we must also consider that God intends that man have a desire for Him especially as our last end.  Because we were created to be with God, it is built into our nature to want to have knowledge of Him. Hence there is a natural seeking or desire to know God and truth.  It is God’s Will that we pursue this desire.  God wants to satisfy this thirst for the knowledge of the truth.

God wants us to perfect our intellects and He uses this way to draw our souls to Him.  Of course, He wants us to learn more about Him for His glory and not our own.  God captivates our minds while we are thinking about Him or any aspect of truth. 

Humans are created with the ability to ponder the facts about something and have a sort of mental discussion about these facts. Thus, we come to concrete conclusions and acquire knowledge of the truth.  In this way, God also sparks our desire to know Him more and more.   We then desire more Truth and we love Truth more, and, consequently, we’ll want God more and more.  “Thy Word is Truth,” says Our Lord in His prayer to His Father in St. John’s Gospel (Ch. 17:17).

St. Thomas defines truth as “the mind’s conformity to reality.”  When our minds are conformed to reality, we are seeing how the facts fit together to make a proper conclusion.  We indeed discover the truth.

God puts the delight of truth in our minds and hearts.  The soul has an excitement about truth within itself.  Therefore, our hunger and thirst for truth, once sparked, should grow and grow. “They that eat me, shall yet hunger; and they that drink me, shall yet thirst” [Eccl. 24:29].

So, with this hunger and thirst for the truth, there naturally comes a greater love for truth and a desire to spread the truth. “Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house.  So, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in heaven” [Matt. 5; 15-16].  Our Lord is telling us that we should not be ashamed of the truth. We should not be afraid to stand up for the truth.

“And I say to you, whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God.  But he that shall deny me before men, shall be denied before the angels of God,” says Our Lord in St. Luke’s Gospel [Luke 12; 8-9].   Here Our Lord is saying again to not be afraid of standing up for the truth, and to rejoice, to glorify God by spreading the truth.

The devil, on the other hand, hates the truth.  He tempts us to have a fear of standing up for the truth.  Of course, this fear is a false and irrational one.  This temptation is a typical tactic of the devil.  It is using shame in the wrong way.

When we just do things to please others and/or when we do not stand up against errors or unreasonable behavior because we are afraid to stick out, then we are betraying the truth.  This is a way of betraying Our Lord.  This betrayal comes from what is called false human respect or human respect pride.

Our Lord warned His Apostles of the way the world will view them, and, for that matter, us too. “You shall be hated by all men for My Name’s sake: but he that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved” [Matt. 10; 22].  And Our Lord says also, “Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” [Matt 5; 10] Further, “If the world hates you, know ye, that it hath hated Me before you.  If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” [John 15; 18-19]

Our Lord tells us not to worry by saying, “And I say to you, My friends: Be not afraid of them who kill the body, and after that have not more that they can do.  But I will show you whom you shall fear: fear ye him, who after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell. Yea, I say to you, fear him” [Matt 12; 4-5].

Our Lord consoles and reassures us, “In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world.” [John 16; 33]

We live in neo-pagan times of the great apostasy.  Common sense, reason, and truth are attacked viciously everywhere.  Political correctness is the modern world’s term used to describe exactly what Our Lord forbade, namely, speaking and doing the things and actions which the world favors, but which are against God and His commandments.  

In our times there is a tremendous pressure and tension throughout the world for all humans to succumb to the modern world’s immorality.  It really reminds us Catholics of what is referred to in the Apocalypse 13; 15, “And it was given him to give life to the image of the beast, and that the image of the beast should speak; and should cause, that whosoever will not adore the image of the beast, should be slain.”

However, when we read the following in the Apocalypse:  

Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to render to every man according to his works.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.  Blessed are they that wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb: that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city.  Without are dogs, and sorcerers, and unchaste, and murderers, and servers of idols, and every one that loveth and maketh a lie ….  Apocalypse 22:12-15.

We should be terrified to not tell the truth.

These quotes should make us long for the truth all the more.  Likewise, they should urge us to stand up for the truth, fully knowing that this is what Our dear Lord expects of us.  They also fill us with the fear of human respect pride and make us want to humbly speak out to tell the truth.

Besides praying for the grace of final perseverance, we should pray for the love of the truth – that we have a deep devotion to the truth; that we always seek the truth; and that God gives us the fortitude to be willing to suffer and die for the sake of the truth.  With all of the powerful words of Scripture to remind us about truth, and the delight we take in learning the truth, maybe our hearts would swell to say the following:

Oh, the science of truth, Divine,

Thou, man is made to know, by design,

Thou, the First Cause, Thou, Our Last End,

Thou, to learn, our life, we must spend.

 

By pondering, of facts we find,

Proper conclusions, come to mind.

One’s seeking Thee, becomes desire,

And, an ever-increasing fire,

 

E’er thirsty and hungry, are we,

To know more and more, about Thee.

To fill the soul, more with Thy light,

Becomes now, our only delight.

 

Oh, then Truth, becomes our sole love,

Humility, a proper fruit of,

Only truth can make us replete,

Our satisfaction to complete!

 

 No wonder, we wish to adore,

We do seek, ever more and more,

Oh, Truth, for Thy own sake alone,

We want to possess for our own.

 

‘Cause for this end, didst Thou us make,

Thus to live and die, for Truth’s sake,

That Thy truth, we ever pursue,

To Thee, keep our hearts, ever true.  

 

And if we the whole world could gain,

By smearing the truth with false stain, 

Then our friendship with Thee, would cease,

And would destroy, our inner peace.

 

Friend of the world, and friend of Thee

Could never reality be,

To focus on how we are viewed,

To worry e’er, how we’re construed.

 

E’er trying with the world to fit,

With our conscience, does not well sit,

This nightmare’s easy, to deflect,

Put aside, false human respect.

 

Only Sin alone, should we fear,

Not say things, just to please the ear,

May we the courage to ne’r seek,

To agree with fads, from week to week.

 

‘Cause truth does not change, nor should we,

With error in harmony be,

We must e’er pray, ready to fly,

The worldlings who want us to lie.

 

With Truth may we ever abide,

And long to stay, on Our Lord’s side,

In this earthly sojourn, truth love,

Desire to be with Truth above!

CC in brief — September

Catholic Candle note: Catholic Candle normally examines particular issues thoroughly, at length, using the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and the other Doctors of the Church.  By contrast, our feature CC in brief, gives an extremely short answer to a reader’s question.  We invite readers to submit their own questions.

Q.  We call Our Lady the “Mother of God”.  But God is eternal and has no beginning.  Why don’t we call her the “Mother of Jesus” instead?

A.  Although it is correct to call Our Lady the “Mother of Jesus”, she is also truly the Mother of God.  Our Lord is a Divine Person, not a human person.  Mary is the mother of a Person – and that Person is God.

Words to Live by – from Catholic Tradition

If all fathers fulfilled their duty of watching over the education of their children, we should have but few crimes and few executions.

St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Sermon 36, On the Education of Children, First Point, section 4.

 

Humility Fostered by Seeking God

Objective Truth Series – Reflections article #13

We have considered[1] how God sculptures our souls, how He leads us, teaches us about ourselves, gives us tools and weapons to keep pride at bay, reveals to us His bountiful blessings that He has bestowed on each of us individually, and by all of this, He primes the fountain of gratitude in our hearts. Yet another method God uses to sanctify our souls is sending or allowing us precious crosses through the circumstances in our lives. He tests us to see if we will look to Him to find the solutions to our problems and with His remarkable Wisdom, He teaches us humility at the same time.

We frail humans are too focused on our problems and we rack our brains to find solutions to them.  When we approach problems in this manner, we are bewildered by them. Ironically, as soon as we place our problems fully in God’s Hands, that is, realizing intellectually our helplessness, then we will be humbling ourselves. It is only then that we will be able to see this method of God’s humbling us by sending us challenging circumstances. Furthermore, by abandoning ourselves to God, amazingly the problems begin to fix themselves or we see solutions appear, simply because we entrust our problems to God, knowing that truly only He can fix them. In this way, we are resigning ourselves to God’s Holy Will.

“Whoever looks for God is not without God even if he has not found Him,” says St. Augustine [Dei vita beata].

“Seek and you will find”, says Our Lord.  It is the seeking that God wants. He wants us to see our helplessness and seek, seek, and seek, which means desire, desire, and desire.  He alone can console the soul and comfort her in her difficult trials. Remember, too, that God inspires this desire we have, namely, this seeking.

God mercifully gives this intense longing and this intense spiritual pain to a particular soul because He wants that soul to ache for Him and not rest until she has found Him, namely by taking her eyes off of herself and her perceived problems, and setting her eyes on Him Who is in charge. This redirecting of the soul’s eyes is an act of humility. God is our Master and our teacher in the school of sanctity. We must struggle to keep our spiritual eyes fixed on God and what He wills and directs us to do.

 Let’s face it: the world has so many problems, especially moral ones, in these times of apostasy.  We won’t add a single cubit to our height by excessive worry.  We cannot solve any problem by ourselves. The best means to solving problems is by prayer and by seeking God’s guidance through prayer. Prayer is the window that sheds God’s light on our poor darksome souls. “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” [Ps. 26:1] Remembering this in frequent acts of humility can help us tremendously to keep seeking God’s guidance. St. Alphonsus de Liguori says, “Prayers such as these should restore peace to your soul, for no one has ever been lost who has placed his trust in Him [God].” With great longing for God’s guidance, let us seek through prayer to find God’s answers. It is with seeking that we could also find our hearts pouring out something like what follows:

‘Tis with aching hearts, we do seek,

To find Our Lord, with Him to speak,

To tell Him all, of our poor woes,

He knows all, the tricks of our foes.


Nothing can we, solve without Him,

Our souls are dark, and all seems dim,

Without His aid, we always will fret,

Then no problem can, be solved yet.


 Still we toil, our problems to fix,

Then we see how, we have solved nix,

Alas!  Then find we, are forced to turn,

To the One for Whom, we must yearn,


The One Who all, the answers knows,

Whose tender care, for us e’er shows,

Our troubled hearts, in anxious fear,

Find that only God, can our hearts hear.


 If we, with desire, our prayers let fly,

 Do seek guidance, from God on high,

We’ll see solutions, soon are there,

Those of which, we were unaware.


The Lord wants us, to seek and find,

He cares for us, our peace of mind,

‘Cause with seeking, our desires increase,

To find Him and, to be at peace.


Humility, comes to the soul,

Who seeks God first, as his one goal,

God wants our seeking, so He can,

Fulfill in us, His Divine plan.

           



[1]            To read the previous reflections articles, use this link: http://www.catholiccandle.org/category/resources-for-faith-and-practice/on-working-for-holiness/objective-truth-series/

 

CC in brief – August

Catholic Candle note: Catholic Candle normally examines particular issues thoroughly, at length, especially using the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and the other Doctors of the Church.  At the urging of one of our readers, we are trying new feature: CC in brief, giving an extremely short answer to a reader’s question.  We invite readers to submit their own questions.

Q. In the Apostles Creed, it says Christ "descended into hell."  What exactly does that mean?  And if it doesn’t actually mean hell, why does it say “hell”?

A. “Hell” refers to those places where the souls of the decease are detained, that have not been admitted to heaven.  “Hell” includes the place of eternal punishment suffered by the damned, but also includes Purgatory, the Limbo of the Babies and the Limbo of the Fathers.  Our Lord descended into hell to free the souls of the just, who were waiting for Him in the Limbo of the Fathers.

CC in brief – July

Catholic Candle note: Catholic Candle often examines particular issues thoroughly, at length, using the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and the other Doctors of the Church.  At the urging of one of our readers, we are going to try a new feature: CC in brief, giving an extremely short answer to a reader’s question.  We invite readers to submit their own questions.

 

Q. What is meant by calling Mary the “Ark of the Covenant” in her litany?

A. Our Faith is deep and rich and this topic deserves a much longer answer.  However, briefly, the Blessed Virgin Mary is the very fitting vessel who contained God on earth.  She was foreshadowed by the Ark of the Covenant, carried by the Israelites in the Old Testament, as the abode of God in a special way.

Gratitude as a Birth of Humility

Objective Truth Series – Reflections article # 12

In our last Reflection we considered how God works marvelously on our souls in order to instruct us on how to avoid pride. Likewise, we saw how God, by teaching us more about ourselves, is in reality, revealing to us more of what He Himself is doing in our souls. God does so very much for us. 

In St. Basil’s sermon The First Commandment he expounds beautifully about God’s blessings upon us:

1.    “God had made man to His own image and likeness, and honored him with a knowledge of Himself, and endowed him above all living creatures of the earth with the gift of reason, and prepared for his delight the inconceivable joys of paradise”;

2.    “[He] made him the first of earthly creatures”;

3.    “Even after he [man] had been deceived by the devil and had fallen into sin and through sin into death and into things that deserved death, that even then He [viz., God] did not abandon him, but first gave him a law to help him, placed him under the protection of His angels, sent prophets to rebuke his wickedness and teach him justice”;

4.    “The goodness of the Lord has not abandoned us. Nor have we deprived ourselves of His love for us through our own folly: treating lightly the One Who has done us so much honor. We have even been recalled from death and restored again to life through Jesus Christ Our Lord Himself.  And even the way in which this great goodness was shown to us is wondrous beyond measure.”

St. Basil continues, “He has taken our infirmities upon Him; He has borne sufferings, He was wounded for us, and by His wounds we were healed [Is ch. 53, 4]. He has redeemed us from the curse (of the law), being made a curse for us (Gal. ch. 3, 13); endured for us a most shameful death, that He might bring us back to a glorious life.  It was not enough to recall the dead to life, He gave us also the dignity of His own divinity; preparing for all mankind an everlasting rest that surpasses in the greatness of its joy every thought of man.  What shall I render to the Lord for all the things He has rendered to me (Ps. 115, 12)  He is so good that He does not even look for the things He has given us, but that we love Him in return.”

St. Basil explains how we owe God gratitude in return for these blessings.

“Chief among those whom nature teaches us to love are those who do good to us. And this is a love not peculiar to man only; but is common to almost all creatures, leading them to love whoever had done good to them.  If then we have a natural love for those who are good to us, and will suffer anything for them to repay their goodness to us, what words can rightly praise the gifts that God has given us? They are so many as to be beyond number; so great, so wondrous that for one alone (creation) we should give all thanks to the Giver.”

In addition to what God has done for mankind, when we reflect, we can count so many blessings that He has showered upon us individually. God has protected us. He has enlightened us with the Holy Catholic Faith. He has shown us likewise how we can stand up for the truth. If we reflect and ponder His Mercies deeply, we find a flood of gratitude streaming from our hearts and perhaps tears running down our cheeks. How Good God is!

We cannot help but feel our littleness and unworthiness.  Surely, as St. Basil shows, we should keep the wonderful things God has done for us in our mind in order to foster a continual and ever-increasing gratitude in our souls.  Thus, humility can be born in our souls and spring forth a tender and beautiful intimate friendship with God.  Oh dear reader, if we could only give gratitude to God more and more, then a cascade of charity would surely flow from our hearts!  Further, Our Lord would be pleased to see His seeds of humility growing in our souls and that these seedlings are preparing us for Himself.  As often as we look back with 20/20 vision and count our blessings with awe and wonder, we would find that we truly would never want to forget God’s mercies and blessings that He has lavished upon us and we might desire to say the following:


Marvelous mercies, of my Lord,

These do pierce me, quite like a sword,

Bringing rivers, of grateful tears,

To see what Thou dost, through the years.

 

To ponder all, Thy creation,

Events, in every nation,

 Countless blessings, thou hast bestowed,

None of which, has ever been owed.

 

Consider only, one person’s life,

One can see it, with blessings rife,

Some are large, while others are small,

We’ve all been rescued, after all.

 

 Infinite Goodness, I now see,

So much that Thou hast, done for me,

And filled with, confusion am I,

The blessings I count, are piled high!

 

My unworthiness, I now feel so keen,

With counting blessings, I have seen,

O’erwhelming, ‘tis Thy Tender care,

My gratitude, I should not spare!

 

To count them oft, ‘tis a good thing,

To keep one e’er remembering,

To say prayers, to render one’s thanks

To let tears, overrun their banks

 

To give God thanks, could ne’r too much,

‘Cause God’s mercy, our hearts do touch,

One’s heart is swelling, with need to tell,

Our Dear Lord, that, we love Him well.

 

Thus humility, can be born,

From gratitude’s bountiful horn,

Then may God be thanked, in all ways,

So humble the heart, ever stays.

Words to Live by – from Catholic Tradition

For Love of God you should undergo all things cheerfully, all labors and sorrows, temptations and trials, anxieties, weaknesses, necessities, injuries, slanders, rebukes, humiliations, confusions, corrections, and contempt.  For these are helps to virtue.

The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis, Book III, Chapter 35.

The Ladder of Objective Truth: God’s school of sanctity

Objective Truth Series – reflections article #11

In the last several reflections, we have examined how God sculptures souls, how He reveals what one should know about oneself through the corrections of others. We have also considered ways one can keep alert against pride and the subtle tricks of the devil who is always trying to ensnare souls in pride. We considered how Our Mother Mary teaches us tactics to counter the devil including making acts of humbling ourselves. It is rather like a student in a course of humility.

As the years of one’s life roll by, one often finds that he comes to certain landmarks of understanding. This occurs also in the spiritual school as well. God has an amazing way of bringing His Truth out, to what seems for a soul,—into a new light.  This new light is really the soul seeing things in a more objective way. Thus, this more objective way seems completely new to the soul.

God, in His Infinite Goodness and Wisdom, knows when a soul is ready to receive insights that God wants to give. God prepares the soul by events and circumstances and having the soul make incremental steps of minor understanding of how life works. God also prepares the soul to be open and docile to His Instructions, much like a farmer preparing the soil for seeds. The soul finds itself making certain comparisons and drawing certain conclusions that it never did before.

One finds himself amazed that something he sees now as so obvious, he never saw before.  Yet, one must keep in mind how God works on souls and he will certainly understand how God gave the seemingly “new” insight in the timing that was God’s alone. These insights are things that stay with the soul, in other words, the soul does not forget them. They are true learning and make permanent effects on the soul. In this way the soul feels itself drawn to a higher level, much like a mountain climber when he looks down after reaching a new height.

Gratitude comes over the soul and the soul finds itself thanking God and loving God more. This new insight may be something that seems to be an irony, a paradox, a contradiction, yet this insight turns out to be a show of God’s Infinite Mercy, Goodness, and Generosity. The insight delights the soul and the soul finds itself marveling in awe.  This insight is so unexpected that it could never be anticipated or imagined ahead of time.

For example, one could consider a man who liked electrical appliances and always liked to have the nicest and most convenient ones which were available on the market. However, it seemed that many of his appliances were breaking down very often and he spent a lot of time troubleshooting and/or replacing his appliances.  After dealing with what he considered “a cross” for a long period of years, one day it occurred to him while he was in prayer that God had been showing him that he was too attached to things of the world. The man was amazed at first that this idea had not come to him before.  Yet as he pondered the subject a bit more, it became clear to him that God revealed this defect to him now because he was ready to see it now, but had not been ready previously.

It is often in this way the soul finds the understanding of things that it never considered before. Then the soul often finds in itself a higher level of love for God sparked, that seems to come out of the blue.

Reflecting back, because hindsight is 20/20, one also finds that he accepts crosses with a more even temper.  He doesn’t find himself getting as annoyed with things as much as he used to. God is tempering the soul and calming it down and giving His peace to the soul. It is as if the soul becomes more indifferent to troubles.  The soul then can see God’s Will in all things. Likewise, one can then see the truth in St. Paul’s words, “All things work together unto the good for those who love God.”   Romans, 8:28. Therefore, the soul doesn’t fret but keeps its peace.  A soul could find itself saying inside the following words:

Gentle Master, thou hast me shown,

In all the years that, I have known,

Lessons learned, along my life’s way,

You have taught me, from day to day.

 

Thy mercy to me, wretch that I am,

Training me to be, a gentler lamb,

So I could seek, like Thee to be,

Thou makest things, clearer to me.

 

And step by step, this ladder I climb,

Of Thy Truth, evermore sublime,

Unworthy though, I know I be,

Yet wouldst bring me, higher to Thee.

 

Now I durst but, only thee beg,

Thou willst that I go up, peg by peg,

More grateful I find, myself to know,

Thou didst bring me, e’re I go.

 

Sublime Truth, for Thee I now thirst,

And now, for me Thou art first,

My one and only, heart’s desire,

‘Cause Thou hast kindled, my mind’s fire.

 

Oh ladder of, objective Truth,

I hunt for Thee, like a sleuth,

I’m grateful to be, in the seeking,

And that I am, in Thy keeping.

Words to Live by – from Catholic Tradition

If we wish to save our souls, we must overcome human respect, and bear the little confusion which may arise from the scoffs of the enemies of the Cross of Jesus Christ.  “For there is a shame that bringeth sin, and there is a shame that bringeth glory and grace.” (Eccl. iv. 25.)

St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Doctor of the Church, Sermon 27, On Human Respect, for the Sunday after the Ascension.