Saturday, August 29, 2009

Beheading of St John the Baptist

"The task set before the Baptist as he lay in prison was to become blessed by this unquestioning acceptance of God's obscure will; to reach the point of asking no further for external, unequivocal clarity, but, instead, of discovering God precisely in the darkness of this world and of his own life, and thus becoming profoundly blessed.

John even in his prison cell had to respond once again and anew to his own call for metanoia or a change of mentality, in order that he might recognize his God in the night in which all things earthly exist. Only when we act in this manner does another- and doubtless the greatest- saying of the Baptist reveal its full significance: 'He must increase, but I must decrease' (Jn 3:30). We will know God to the extent that we are set free from ourselves." - His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI [Magnificat Introduction]



First Reading [Jeremiah 1:17-19]

But do you gird your loins; stand up and tell them all that I command you. Be not crushed on their account, as though I would leave you crushed before them; For it is I this day who have made you a fortified city, A pillar of iron, a wall of brass, against the whole land: Against Judah's kings and princes, against its priests and people. They will fight against you, but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.

Gospel [Mark 6:17-29]

Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias’ own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore many things to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

Meditation: "Precursor of Christ in Birth and Death"

As forerunner of our Lord’s birth, preaching and death, the blessed John showed in his struggle a goodness worthy of the sight of heaven. In the words of Scripture: Though in the sight of men he suffered torments, his hope is full of immortality. We justly commemorate the day of his birth with a joyful celebration, a day which he himself made festive for us through his suffering and which he adorned with the crimson splendor of his own blood. We do rightly revere his memory with joyful hearts, for he stamped with the seal of martyrdom the testimony which he delivered on behalf of our Lord.

There is no doubt that blessed John suffered imprisonment and chains as a witness to our Redeemer, whose forerunner he was, and gave his life for him. His persecutor had demanded not that he should deny Christ, but only that he should keep silent about the truth. Nevertheless, he died for Christ. Does Christ not say: I am the truth? Therefore, because John shed his blood for the truth, he surely died for Christ.

Through his birth, preaching and baptizing, he bore witness to the coming birth, preaching and baptism of Christ, and by his own suffering he showed that Christ also would suffer.

Such was the quality and strength of the man who accepted the end of this present life by shedding his blood after the long imprisonment. He preached the freedom of heavenly peace, yet was thrown into irons by ungodly men; he was locked away in the darkness of prison, though he came bearing witness to the Light of life and deserved to be called a bright and shining lamp by that Light itself, which is Christ. John was baptized in his own blood, though he had been privileged to baptize the Redeemer of the world, to hear the voice of the Father above him, and to see the grace of the Holy Spirit descending upon him. But to endure temporal agonies for the sake of the truth was not a heavy burden for such men as John; rather it was easily borne and even desirable, for he knew eternal joy would be his reward.

Since death was ever near at hand through the inescapable necessity of nature, such men considered it a blessing to embrace it and thus gain the reward of eternal life by acknowledging Christ’s name. Hence the apostle Paul rightly says: You have been granted the privilege not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for his sake. He tells us why it is Christ’s gift that his chosen ones should suffer for him: The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.

A homily of St. Bede the Venerable;
cf. Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings
Feast of Beheading of St. John the Baptist (August 29)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

One Reason For Wanting To Live [St Monica]

The day was now approaching when my mother Monica would depart from this life; you know that day, Lord, though we did not. She and I happened to be standing by ourselves at a window that overlooked the garden in the courtyard of the house. At the time we were in Ostia on the Tiber. And so the two of us, all alone, were enjoying a very pleasant conversation, "forgetting the past and pushing on to what is ahead.." We were asking one another in the presence of the Truth - for you are the Truth - what it would be like to share the eternal life enjoyed by the saints, which "eye has not seen, nor ear heard, which has not even entered into the heart of man." We desired with all our hearts to drink from the streams of your heavenly fountain, the fountain of life.



That was the substance of our talk, though not the exact words. But you know, O Lord, that in the course of our conversation that day, the world and its pleasures lost all their attraction for us. My mother said, "Son, as far as I am concerned, nothing in this life now gives me any pleasure. I do not know why I am still here, since I have no further hopes in this world. I did have one reason for wanting to live a little longer: to see you become a Catholic Christian before I died. God has lavished his gifts on me in that respect, for I know that you have even renounced earthly happiness to be his servant. So what am I doing here?"

I do not really remember how I answered her. Shortly, within five days or thereabouts, she fell sick with a fever. Then one day during the course of her illness she became unconscious and for a while she was unaware of her surroundings. My brother and I rushed to her side, but she regained consciousness quickly. She looked at us as we stood there and asked in a puzzled voice: "Where was I?"

We were overwhelmed with grief, but she held her gave steadily upon us, and spoke further: "Here you shall bury your mother." I remained silent as I held back my tears. However, my brother haltingly expressed his hope that she might not die in a strange country but in her own land, since her end would be happier there. When she heard this, her face was filled with anxiety, and she reproached him with a glance because he had entertained such earthly thoughts. Then she looked at me and spoke: "Look what he is saying." Thereupon she said to both of us, "Bury my body wherever you will; let not care of it cause you any concern. One thing only I ask you, that you remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you may be." Once our mother had expressed this desire as best she could, she fell silent as the pain of her illness increased.

- from the Confessions of Saint Augustine of Hippo;
cf. Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings
Feast of St Monica
(August 27)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Five Paths of Repentance [Chrysostom]

Would you like me to list also the paths of repentance? They are numerous and quite varied, and all lead to heaven.



A first path of repentance is the condemnation of your own sins: Be the first to admit your sins and you will be justified. For this reason, too, the prophet wrote: I said: I will accuse myself of my sins to the Lord, and you forgave the wickedness of my heart. Therefore, you too should condemn your own sins; that will be enough reason for the Lord to forgive you, for a man who condemns his own sins is slower to commit them again. Rouse your conscience to accuse you within your own house, lest it become your accuser before the judgment seat of the Lord.

That, then, is one very good path of repentance. Another and no less valuable one is to put out of our minds the harm done us by our enemies, in order to master our anger, and to forgive our fellow servants' sins against us. Then our own sins against the Lord will be forgiven us. Thus you have another way to atone for sin: For if you forgive your debtors, your heavenly Father will forgive you.

Do you want to know of a third path? It consists of prayer that is fervent, careful and comes from the heart.

If you want to hear of a fourth, I will mention almsgiving, whose power is great and far-reaching.

If, moreover, a man lives a modest, humble life, that, no less than the other things I have mentioned, takes sin away. Proof of this is the tax-collector who had no good deeds to mention, but offered his humility instead and was relieved of a heavy burden of sins.

Thus I have shown you five paths of repentance; condemnation of your own sins, forgiveness of our neighbor's sins against us, prayer, almsgiving and humility.

Do not be idle, then, but walk daily in all these paths; they are easy, and you cannot plead your poverty. For, though you live out your life amid great need, you can always set aside your wrath, be humble, pray diligently and condemn your own sins; poverty is no hindrance. Poverty is not an obstacle to our carrying out the Lord's bidding, even when it comes to that path of repentance which involves giving money (almsgiving, I mean). The widow proved that when she put her two mites into the box!

Now that we have learned how to heal these wounds of ours, let us apply the cures. Then, when we have regained genuine health, we can approach the holy table with confidence, go gloriously to meet Christ, the king of glory, and attain the eternal blessings through the grace, mercy and kindness of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

The Five Paths of Repentance
A Homily by St John Chrysostom (+407 AD);
cf. Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings
Tuesday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time

Feast of St Louis

St. Louis IX (1214-1270) who became King of France at the age of twelve, had been religiously brought up by his mother, Blanche of Castile, and nourished a love for the Church from his youth. Throughout his life he remained deeply devout, and as a king his conduct was that of a real saint - a life of penance and prayer. He was a Franciscan Tertiary (Third Order).

Louis married and became the father of eleven children who received from him careful instruction for a Christian life. He devoted himself to the affairs of his kingdom and to those of Christendom, and was a great peacemaker — kings and princes constantly sought his aid in settling disputes. He was humble and upright, helpful to the needy and in person nursed lepers and the sick. St. Louis gave to all the example of a life overflowing with charity and sovereign justice.

Louis died near Tunis, lying on a bed of ashes, during a crusade for the deliverance of the Holy Land.



A spiritual testament to his son by St. Louis

My dearest son, my first instruction is that you should love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your strength. Without this there is no salvation. Keep yourself, my son, from everything that you know displeases God, that is to say, from every mortal sin. You should permit yourself to be tormented by every kind of martyrdom before you would allow yourself to commit a mortal sin.

If the Lord has permitted you to have some trial, bear it willingly and with gratitude, considering that it has happened for your good and that perhaps you well deserved it. If the Lord bestows upon you any kind of prosperity, thank him humbly and see that you become no worse for it, either through vain pride or anything else, because you ought not to oppose God or offend him in the matter of his gifts.

Listen to the Divine Office with pleasure and devotion. As long as you are in church, be careful not to let your eyes wander and not to speak empty words, but pray to the Lord devoutly, either aloud or with the interior prayer of the heart.

Be kindhearted to the poor, the unfortunate and the afflicted. Give them as much help and consolation as you can. Thank God for all the benefits he has bestowed upon you, that you may be worthy to receive greater. Be just to your subjects, swaying neither to right nor left, but holding the line of justice. Always side with the poor rather than with the rich, until you are certain of the truth. See that all your subjects live in justice and peace, but especially those who have ecclesiastical rank and who belong to religious orders.

Be devout and obedient to our mother the Church of Rome and the Supreme Pontiff as your spiritual father. Work to remove all sin from your land, particularly blasphemies and heresies.

In conclusion, dearest son, I give you every blessing that a loving father can give a son. May the three Persons of the Holy Trinity and all the saints protect you from every evil. And may the Lord give you the grace to do his will so that he may be served an honored through you, that in the next life we may together come to see him, love him and praise him unceasingly. Amen.

A spiritual testament to his son by St. Louis;
cf. Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings
Feast of Saint Louis (August 25)

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Good Shepherd [Aquinas]

I am the Good Shepherd. Surely it is fitting that Christ should be a shepherd, for just as a flock is guided and fed by a shepherd so the faithful are fed by Christ with spiritual food and with his own body and blood. The Apostle said: You were once like sheep without a shepherd, but now you have returned to the guardian and ruler of your souls. The prophet has said: As a shepherd he pastures his flock.



Christ said that the shepherd enters through the gate and that he is himself the gate as well as the shepherd. Then it is necessary that he enter through himself. By so doing, he reveals himself, and through himself he knows the Father. But we enter through him because through him we find happiness.

Take heed: no one else is the gate but Christ. Others reflect his light, but no one else is the true light. John the Baptist was not the light, but he bore witness to the light. It is said of Christ, however: He was the true light that enlightens every man. For this reason no one says that he is the gate; this title is Christ’s own. However, he has made others shepherds and given that office to his members; for Peter was a shepherd, and so were the other apostles and all good bishops after them. Scripture says: I shall give you shepherds according to my own heart. Although the bishops of the Church, who are her sons, are all shepherds, nevertheless Christ refers only to one person in saying: I am the Good Shepherd, because he wants to emphasize the virtue of charity. Thus, no one can be a good shepherd unless he is one with Christ in charity. Through this we become members of the true shepherd.

The duty of a good shepherd is charity; therefore Christ said: The good shepherd gives his life for his sheep. Know the difference between a good and a bad shepherd: the good shepherd cares for the welfare of his flock, but the bad shepherd cares only for his own welfare.

The Good Shepherd does not demand that shepherds lay down their lives for a real flock of sheep. But every spiritual shepherd must endure the loss of his bodily life for the salvation of the flock, since the spiritual good of the flock is more important than the bodily life of the shepherd, when danger threatens the salvation of the flock. This is why the Lord says: The good shepherd lays down his life, that is, his physical life, for his sheep; this he does because of his authority and love. Both, in fact, are required: that they should be ruled by him, and that he should love them. The first without the second is not enough.

Christ stands out for us as the example of this teaching: If Christ laid down his life for us, so we also ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Exposition on John's Gospel (Cap 10, lect. 3);
cf. Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings,
Monday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time

Through Unlearned Men [Chrysostom]

It was clear through unlearned men that the cross was persuasive, in fact, it persuaded the whole world. Their discourse was not of unimportant matters but of God and true religion, of the Gospel way of life and future judgment, yet it turned plain, uneducated men into philosophers. How the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and his weakness stronger than men!

- St. John Chrysostom, a homily on the first letter to the Corinthians,
cf. Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings, Feast of St. Bartholomew (August 24)



When I came to you, brothers, proclaiming the mystery of God, I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive (words of) wisdom, but with a demonstration of spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.

Yet we do speak a wisdom to those who are mature, but not a wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away. Rather, we speak God's wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory, and which none of the rulers of this age knew; for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: "What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him," this God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.

Among human beings, who knows what pertains to a person except the spirit of the person that is within? Similarly, no one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given us by God. And we speak about them not with words taught by human wisdom, but with words taught by the Spirit, describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms.

Now the natural person does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God, for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it, because it is judged spiritually. The spiritual person, however, can judge everything but is not subject to judgment by anyone. For "who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to counsel him?" But we have the mind of Christ. - 1 Corinthians 2:1-16

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Decide Today Whom You Will Serve

Many murmur, "This saying is hard; who can accept it it?" If we approach Christianity from our own presuppositions we completely miss the fact, as Pope Benedict XVI writes, that, "being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which give life a new horizon and a decisive direction." We are to look beyond the "saying" to the Say-er. This is what it means to "be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ." "Decide today whom you will serve" - your own ideas and preconceptions, or "the Lord." - Magnificat Introduction 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Song of the Church [St Pius X]

The collection of psalms found in Scripture, composed as it was under divine inspiration, has, from the very beginnings of the Church, shown a wonderful power of fostering devotion among Christians as they offer to God a continuous sacrifice of praise, the harvest of lips blessing his name. Following a custom already established in the Old Law, the psalms have played a conspicuous part in the sacred liturgy itself, and in the divine office. Thus was born what Basil calls the voice of the Church, that singing of psalms, which is the daughter of that hymn of praise (to use the words of our predecessor, Urban VIII) which goes up unceasingly before the throne of God and of the Lamb, and which teaches those especially charged with the duty of divine worship, as Athanasius says, the way to praise God, and the fitting words in which to bless him. Augustine expresses this well when he says: God praised himself so that man might give him fitting praise; because God chose to praise himself man found the way in which to bless God.

The psalms have also a wonderful power to awaken in our hearts the desire for every virtue. Athanasius says: Though all Scripture, both old and new, is divinely inspired and has its use in teaching, as we read in Scripture itself, yet the Book of Psalms, like a garden enclosing the fruits of all the other books, produces its fruits in song, and in the process of singing brings forth its own special fruits to take their place beside them. In the same place Athanasius rightly adds: The psalms seem to me to be like a mirror, in which the person using them can see himself, and the stirrings of his own heart; he can recite them against the background of his own emotions. Augustine says in his Confessions: How I wept when I heard your hymns and canticles, being deeply moved by the sweet singing of your Church. Those voices flowed into my ears, truth filtered into my heart, and from my heart surged waves of devotion. Tears ran down, and I was happy in my tears.

Indeed, who could fail to be moved by those many passages in the psalms which set forth so profoundly the infinite majesty of God, his omnipotence, his justice and goodness and clemency, too deep for words, and all the other infinite qualities of his that deserve our praise? Who could fail to be roused to the same emotions by the prayers of thanksgiving to God for blessings received, by the petitions, so humble and confident, for blessings still awaited, by the cries of a soul in sorrow for sin committed? Who would not be fired with love as he looks on the likeness of Christ, the redeemer, here so lovingly foretold? His was the voice Augustine heard in every psalm, the voice of praise, of suffering, of joyful expectation, of present distress.

Pope Saint Pius X, Divino afflatu
cf. Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings
August 21, Feast of Pope St. Pius X

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

You May Think Past Ages Were Good [Augustine]

Whenever we suffer some affliction, we should regard it both as a punishment and as a correction. Our holy Scriptures themselves do not promise us peace, security and rest. On the contrary, the Gospel makes no secret of the troubles and temptations that await us, but it also says that he who perseveres to the end will be saved. What good has there ever been in this life since the time when the first man received the just sentence of death and the curse from which Christ our Lord has delivered us?



So we must not grumble, my brothers, for the Apostle says: Some of them murmured and were destroyed by serpents. Is there any affliction now endured by mankind that was not endured by our fathers before us? What sufferings of ours even bear comparison with what we know of their sufferings? And yet you hear people complaining about this present day and age because things were so much better in former times. I wonder what would happen if they could be taken back to the days of their ancestors - would we not still hear them complaining? You may think past ages were good, but it is only because you are not living in them.

It amazes me that you who have now been freed from the curse, who have now been freed form the curse, who have believed in the Son of God, who have been instructed in the holy Scriptures - that you can think the days of Adam were good. And your ancestors bore the curse of Adam, of that Adam to who the words were addressed: With sweat on your brow you shall eat your bread; you shall till the earth from which you were taken, and it will yield you thorns an thistles. This is what he deserved and what he had to suffer; this is the punishment meted out to him by the just judgment of God.

How then can you think that past ages were better than your own? From the time of that first Adam to the time of his descendants today, man's lot has been labor and sweat, thorns and thistles. Have we forgotten the flood and the calamitous times of famine and war whose history has been recorded precisely in order to keep us from complaining those past ages were like! Is there one of us who does not shudder to hear or read of them? Far from justifying complaints about our own time, they teach us how much we have to be thankful for.

Sermon by St Augustine
Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings
Wednesday 20th Week in Ordinary Time

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Assumption of Mary [Pius XII]

In their sermons and speeches on the feast day of the Assumption of the Mother of God, the holy fathers and the great doctors of the church were speaking of something that the faithful already knew and accepted: all they did was to bring it out into the open, to explain its meaning and substance in other terms. Above all, they made it most clear that this feast commemorated not merely the fact that the blessed Virgin Mary did not experience bodily decay, but also her triumph over death and her heavenly glory, following the example of her only Son, Jesus Christ.



Thus St John Damascene, who is the greatest exponent of this tradition, compares the bodily Assumption of the revered Mother of God with her other gifts and privileges: It was right that she who had kept her virginity unimpaired through the process of giving birth should have kept her body without decay through death. It was right that she who had given her Creator, as a child, a place at her breast should be given a place in the dwelling-place of her God. It was right that the bride espoused by the Father should dwell in the heavenly bridal chamber. It was right that she who had gazed on her Son on the cross, her heart pierced at that moment by the sword of sorrow that she had escaped at his birth, should now gaze on him seated with his Father. It was right that the Mother of God should possess what belongs to her Son and to be honored by every creature as the God’s Mother and handmaid.

St Germanus of Constantinople considered that the preservation from decay of the body of the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, and its elevation to heaven as being not only appropriate to her Motherhood but also to the peculiar sanctity of its virgin state: It is written, that you appear in beauty, and your virginal body is altogether holy, altogether chaste, altogether the dwelling-place of God; from which it follows that it is not in its nature to decay into dust, but that it is transformed, being human, into a glorious and incorruptible life, the same body, living and glorious, unharmed, sharing in perfect life.

Another very ancient author asserts: Being the most glorious Mother of Christ our savior and our God, the giver of life and immortality, she is given life by him and shares bodily incorruptibility for all eternity with him who raised her from the grave and drew her up to him in a way that only he can understand.

All that the holy fathers say refers ultimately to Scripture as a foundation, which gives us the vivid image of the great Mother of God as being closely attached to her divine Son and always sharing his lot.

It is important to remember that from the second century onwards the holy fathers have been talking of the Virgin Mary as the new Eve for the new Adam: not equal to him, of course, but closely joined with him in the battle against the enemy, which ended in the triumph over sin and death that had been promised even in Paradise. The glorious resurrection of Christ is essential to this victory and its final prize, but the blessed Virgin’s share in that fight must also have ended in the glorification of her body. For as the Apostle says: When this mortal nature has put on immortality, then the scripture will be fulfilled that says “Death is swallowed up in victory”.

So then, the great Mother of God, so mysteriously united to Jesus Christ from all eternity by the same decree of predestination, immaculately conceived, an intact virgin throughout her divine motherhood, a noble associate of our Redeemer as he defeated sin and its consequences, received, as it were, the final crowning privilege of being preserved from the corruption of the grave and, following her Son in his victory over death, was brought, body and soul, to the highest glory of heaven, to shine as Queen at the right hand of that same Son, the immortal King of Ages.

The Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII
on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
cf. Liturgy of the Hours
Office of Readings (August 15)

Friday, August 14, 2009

We Must Sanctify the Whole World [Kolbe]


I rejoice greatly, dear brother, at the outstanding zeal that drives you to promote the glory of God. It is sad to see how in our times the disease called “indifferentism” is spreading in all its forms, not just among those in the world but also among the members of religious orders. But indeed, since God is worthy of infinite glory, it is our first and most pressing duty to give him such glory as we, in our weakness, can manage – even that we would never, poor exiled creatures that we are, be able to render him such glory as he truly deserves.

Because God’s glory shines through most brightly in the salvation of the souls that Christ redeemed with his own blood, let it be the chief concern of the apostolic life to bring salvation and an increase in holiness to as many souls as possible. Let me briefly outline the best way to achieve this end – both for the glory of God and for the sanctification of the greatest number. God, who is infinite knowledge and infinite wisdom, knows perfectly what is to be done to give him glory, and in the clearest way possible makes his will known to us through his vice-gerents on Earth.

It is obedience and obedience alone that shows us God’s will with certainty. Of course our superiors may err, but it cannot happen that we, holding fast to our obedience, should be led into error by this. There is only one exception: if the superior commands something that would obviously involve breaking God’s law, however slightly. In that case the superior could not be acting as a faithful interpreter of God’s will.

God himself is the one infinite, wise, holy, and merciful Lord, our Creator and our Father, the beginning and the end, wisdom, power, and love – God is all these. Anything that is apart from God has value only in so far as it is brought back to him, the Founder of all things, the Redeemer of mankind, the final end of all creation. Thus he himself makes his holy will known to us through his vice-gerents on Earth and draws us to himself, and through us – for so he has willed – draws other souls too, and unites them to himself with an ever more perfect love.

See then, brother, the tremendous honor of the position that God in his kindness has placed us in. Through obedience we transcend our own limitations and align ourselves with God’s will, which, with infinite wisdom and prudence, guides us to do what is best. Moreover, as we become filled with the divine will, which no created thing can resist, so we become stronger than all others.

This is the path of wisdom and prudence, this is the one way by which we can come to give God the highest glory. After all, if there had been another, better way, Christ would certainly have shown it to us, by word and by example. But in fact sacred Scripture wraps up his entire long life in Nazareth with the words and he was obedient to them and it shows the rest of his life to have been passed in similar obedience – almost as an instruction to us – by showing how he came down to Earth to do the Father’s will.

Brethren, let us love him above all, our most loving heavenly Father, and let our obedience be a sign of this perfect love, especially when we have to sacrifice our own wills in the process. And as for a book from which to learn how to grow in the love of God, there is no better book than Jesus Christ crucified.

All this we will achieve more easily through the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin, to whom the most kind God has given the task of dispensing his mercies. There is no doubt that the will of Mary should be the will of God for us. When we dedicate ourselves to him, we become tools in her hands just as she became a tool in his. Let us let her direct us and lead us by the hand. Let us be calm and serene under her guidance: she will foresee all things for us, provide all things, swiftly fulfill our needs both bodily and spiritual, and keep away from us all difficulty and suffering.

A letter by St Maximilian Kolbe
Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings
Feast of St Maximilian Kolbe, August 14

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Response to "The Passion of David Bazan"


My comment on David Bazan article (as posted on Facebook):

I like a lot of David Bazan's music, and I like that he deals with spiritual themes, specifically Christianity. There are many similarities to my own art. Yet it grieves me that so many people look to such a lost soul-who has little redeeming qualities-as a role model. I understand the solidarity between unbelievers & the fallen; I've have been there. Yet the absurdity of David being any kind of biblical "saint" is nonsense. We should appreciate his art, have pity on him, pray for his conversion, & befriend him, but never validate his life of spiritual & moral suicide, his rejection of Orthodoxy, & his ministry of agnosticism. The 800 LB devil in the room is that he practiced a false religion (evangelicalism/protestantism), which WILL end in despair or deception. The real issue is not whether David is a poor fallen disciple of a false religion but whether he could be a holy faithful disciple of the true Faith & Morals of the one holy catholic & apostolic Church. I pray that he will. T

Monday, August 10, 2009

Feast of St. Lawrence [St. Augustine]

The Roman Church commends this day to us as the blessed Laurence’s day of triumph, on which he trod down the world as it roared and raged against him; spurned it as it coaxed and wheedled him; and in each case, conquered the devil as he persecuted him. For in that Church, you see, as you have regularly been told, he performed the office of deacon; it was there that he administered the sacred chalice of Christ’s blood; there that he shed his own blood for the name of Christ. The blessed apostle John clearly explained the mystery of the Lord’s supper when he said Just as Christ laid down his life for us, so we too ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. St Laurence understood this, my brethren, and he did it; and he undoubtedly prepared things similar to what he received at that table. He loved Christ in his life, he imitated him in his death.



And we too, brethren, if we truly love him, let us imitate him. After all, we shall not be able to give a better proof of love than by imitating his example; for Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, so that we might follow in his footsteps. In this sentence the apostle Peter appears to have seen that Christ suffered only for those who follow in his footsteps, and that Christ’s passion profits none but those who follow in his footsteps. The holy martyrs followed him, to the shedding of their blood, to the similarity of their sufferings. The martyrs followed, but they were not the only ones. It is not the case, I mean to say, that after they crossed, the bridge was cut; or that after they had drunk, the fountain dried up.

The garden of the Lord, brethren, includes - yes, it truly includes - includes not only the roses of martyrs but also the lilies of virgins, and the ivy of married people, and the violets of widows. There is absolutely no kind of human beings, my dearly beloved, who need to despair of their vocation; Christ suffered for all. It was very truly written about him: who wishes all men to be saved, and to come to the acknowledgment of the truth.

So let us understand how Christians ought to follow Christ, short of the shedding of blood, short of the danger of suffering death. The Apostle says, speaking of the Lord Christ, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not think it robbery to be equal to God. What incomparable greatness! But he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and being made in the likeness of men, and found in condition as a man. What unequaled humility!

Christ humbled himself: you have something, Christian, to latch on to. Christ became obedient. Why do you behave proudly? After running the course of these humiliations and laying death low, Christ ascended into heaven: let us follow him there. Let us listen to the Apostle telling us, If you have risen with Christ, savor the things that are above is, seated at God’s right hand.

A sermon by St. Augustine (5th Century)
Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon & Martyr
Liturgy of the Hours,
Office of Readings (August 10)
cf. Acts 6:1-6; 8:1-8

St. Lawrence (also rendered St. Laurence) was one of the seven deacons of the Church of Rome and was martyred under the Emperor Valerian on the 10th of August 258, four days after Pope Sixtus II and his companions. Little is known of the life of Saint Lawrence. What is clear is that he was immensely popular with the Christians of Rome. A basilica was built over St. Lawrence’s tomb in the field of Varano near the Via Tiburtina fifty years after his death, by the Emperor Constantine, and the anniversary of his martyrdom was kept in Rome as a solemn feast.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Sermon on the Transfiguration [Anastasius]

Upon Mount Tabor, Jesus revealed to his disciples a heavenly mystery. While living among them he had spoken of the kingdom and of his second coming in glory, but to banish from their hearts any possible doubt concerning the kingdom and to confirm their faith in what lay in the future by its prefiguration in the present, he gave them on Mount Tabor a wonderful vision of his glory, a foreshadowing of the kingdom of heaven. It was as if he said to them:

“As time goes by you may be in danger of losing your faith. To save you from this I tell you now that some standing here listening to me will not taste death until they have seen the Son of Man coming in the glory of his Father. “Moreover, in order to assure us that Christ could command such power when he wished, the evangelist continues: Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter, James and John, and led them up a high mountain where they were alone. There, before their eyes, he was transfigured. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Then the disciples saw Moses and Elijah appear, and they were talking to Jesus.

These are the divine wonders we celebrate today; this is the saving revelation given us upon the mountain; this is the festival of Christ that has drawn us here. Let us listen, then, to the sacred voice of God so compellingly calling us from on high, from the summit of the mountain, so that with the Lord’s chosen disciples we may penetrate the deep meaning of these holy mysteries, so far beyond our capacity to express. Jesus goes before us to show us the way, both up the mountain and into heaven, and - I speak boldly - it is for us now to follow him with all speed, yearning for the heavenly vision that will give us a share in his radiance, renew our spiritual nature and transform us into his own likeness, making us for ever sharers in his Godhead and raising us to heights as yet undreamed of.

Let us run with confidence and joy to enter into the cloud like Moses and Elijah, or like James and John. Let us be caught up like Peter to behold the divine vision and to be transfigured by that glorious transfiguration. Let us retire from the world, stand aloof from the earth, rise above the body, detach ourselves from creatures and turn to the creator, to whom Peter in ecstasy exclaimed: Lord, it is good for us to be here.

It is indeed good to be here, as you have said, Peter. It is good to be with Jesus and to remain here for ever. What greater happiness or higher honor could we have than to be with God, to be made like him and to live in his light?

Therefore, since each of us possesses God in his heart and is being transformed into his divine image, we also should cry out with joy: It is good for us to be here - here where all things shine with divine radiance, where there is joy and gladness and exultation; where there is nothing in our hearts but peace, serenity and stillness; where God is seen. For here, in our hearts, Christ takes up his abode together with the Father, saying as he enters: Today salvation has come to this house. With Christ, our hearts receive all the wealth of his eternal blessings, and there where they are stored up for us in him, we see reflected as in a mirror both the first fruits and the whole of the world to come.

From a Sermon on the Transfiguration of the Lord
by Anastasius of Sinai, Bishop
Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings
(Feast of the Transfiguration)

Love is as Strong as Death [Baldwin]

Death is strong, for it can rob us of the gift of life. Love too is strong, for it can restore us to a better life.

Death is strong, for it can strip us of this robe of flesh. Love too is strong, for it can take death's spoils away and give them back to us.

Death is strong, for no man can withstand it. Love too is strong, for it can conquer death itself, soothe its sting, calm its violence, and bring its victory to naught. The time will come when death is reviled and taunted: O death, where is your sting? O death, where is your victory?

Love is as strong as death because Christ's love is the very death of death. Hence it is said: I will be your death, O death! I will be your sting, O hell! Our love for Christ is also as strong as death, because it is itself a kind of death: destroying the old life, rooting out vice, and laying aside dead works.

Our love for Christ is a return, though very unequal, for his love of us, and it is a likeness modeled on his. For he first loved us and, though the example of love he gave us, he became a seal upon us by which we are made like him. We lay aside the likeness of the earthly man and put on the likeness of the heavenly man; we love him as he has loved us. For in this matter he has left us an example so that we might follow in his steps.

That is why he says: Set me as a seal upon your heart. It is as if he were saying: "Love me as I love you. Keep me in your mind and memory, in your desires and yearnings, in your groans and sobs. Remember, man, the kind of being I made you; how far I set you above other creatures; the dignity I conferred upon you; the glory and honor with which I crowned you; how I made you only a little less than the angels and set all things under your feet. Remember not only how much I have done for you but all the hardship and shame I have suffered for you. Yet look and see: Do you not wrong me? Do you not fail to love me? Who loves you as I do? Who created and redeemed you but I?

Lord, take away my heart of stone, a heart so bitter and uncircumcised, and give me a new heart, a heart of flesh, a pure heart. You cleanse the heart and love the clean heart. Take possession of my heart and dwell in it, contain it and fill it, you who are higher than the heights of my spirit and closer to me than my innermost self! You are the pattern of all beauty and the seal of all holiness. Set the seal of your likeness upon my heart! In your mercy set your seal upon my heart, God of my heart and the God who is my portion for ever! Amen.

From a Treatise by Baldwin, Bishop of Centerbury]
Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings
(Thursday, 18th Week in Ordinary Time)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Way of Light [St. Barnadas]

Consider now the way of light; any man who is bent on reaching his appointed goal must be very careful in all he does. Now these are the directions that have been given to us for this journey: love your Creator; reverence your Maker; give glory to him who redeemed you when you were dead; be single-minded but rich in spiritual treasure; avoid those who travel down death's highway; hate whatever is displeasing to God; detest all hypocritical pretense; do not abandon God's commandments. Do not put on airs, but be modest in whatever you do; claim no credit for yourself. Plot no evil against your neighbor, and do not give pride an entrance into your heart.

Love your neighbor more than your own life. Do not kill an unborn child through abortion, nor destroy it after birth. Do not refrain from chastising son or daughter, but bring them up from childhood in the fear of the Lord. Do not set your heart on what belongs to your neighbor and do not give in to greed. Do not associate with the arrogant but cultivate those who are humble and virtuous.

Accept as a blessing whatever comes your way in the knowledge that nothing ever happens without God's concurrence. Avoid duplicity in thought or in word, for such deception is a deadly snare.

Share with your neighbor whatever you have, and do not say of anything, this is mine. If you both share an imperishable treasure, how much more must you share what is perishable. Do not be hasty in speech; the mouth is a deadly snare. For your soul's good, make every effort to live chastely. Do not hold out your hand for what you can get, only to withdraw it when it comes to giving. Cherish as the apple of your eye anyone who speaks to you of the word of the Lord.

Night and day you will bear in mind the hour of judgment; every day you will seek out the company of God's faithful, either by preaching the word, earnestly exhorting them, ever considering how you can save souls by your eloquence, or else by working with your hands to make reparation for your past sins.

Never hesitate to give, and when you do give, never grumble; then you will know the one who will repay you. Preserve the traditions you have received, adding nothing and taking nothing away. The evildoer will ever be hateful to you. Be fair in your judgments. Never stir up dissension, but act as peacemaker and reconcile the quarrelsome. Confess your sins, and do not begin to pray with a guilty conscience.

Such then is the way of light.

Letter attributed to St. Barandas
Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings
(Wednesday, 18th Week in Ordinary Time)

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Novena to St. Clare of Assisi


Feast of St. Clare of Assisi [August 11]




DAY ONE

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

INVOCATION

O most Holy Trinity, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, + we praise your Holy Name + and the wonders of grace you worked in your servant, Saint Clare. + Through her powerful intercession + grant us the favors we beg in this novena, + [State or contemplate your intention here.] + above all the grace to live and die as she did + in your most Holy Love. + Amen.

PETITION

O Seraphic Saint Clare, + first disciple of the Little Poor Man of Assisi, + who abandoned all riches and honors + for a life of sacrifice and of highest poverty, + obtain from God for us the grace we ask, + that of always submitting to the Divine Will + and of living confidently in the Divine Providence of our Heavenly Father. + Amen.

CLOSING PRAYER

V. Pray for us, Saint Clare.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

+



DAY TWO

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

INVOCATION

O most Holy Trinity, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, + we praise your Holy Name + and the wonders of grace you worked in your servant, Saint Clare. + Through her powerful intercession + grant us the favors we beg in this novena, + [State or contemplate your intention here.] + above all the grace to live and die as she did + in your most Holy Love. + Amen.

PETITION

O Seraphic Saint Clare + who, though living separated from the world + did not forget the poor and the afflicted, + but did become a mother to them, + sacrificing for them your riches + and working for them innumerable miracles; + obtain from God for us the grace we implore: + Christian charity towards our brethren + in all their spiritual and temporal needs. + Amen.

CLOSING PRAYER

V. Pray for us, Saint Clare.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

+



DAY THREE

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

INVOCATION

O most Holy Trinity, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, + we praise your Holy Name + and the wonders of grace you worked in your servant, Saint Clare. + Through her powerful intercession + grant us the favors we beg in this novena, + [State or contemplate your intention here.] + above all the grace to live and die as she did + in your most Holy Love. + Amen.

PETITION

O Seraphic Saint Clare, + light of your country, + who hast delivered Italy from barbarous invaders; + obtain from God for us the grace we implore + that of overcoming all attacks of the world against faith and morals + thus preserving in our families + true Christian peace + with a holy fear of God + and a devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. + Amen.

CLOSING PRAYER

V. Pray for us, Saint Clare.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

+



DAY FOUR

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

INVOCATION

O most Holy Trinity, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, + we praise your Holy Name + and the wonders of grace you worked in your servant, Saint Clare. + Through her powerful intercession + grant us the favors we beg in this novena, + [State or contemplate your intention here.] + above all the grace to live and die as she did + in your most Holy Love. + Amen.

PETITION

Blessed Saint Clare, + whose very name means light, + illumine the darkness of our minds and hearts + so that we might see what God wishes us to do + and perform it with a willing and joyful heart. + Before your birth, + a Heavenly voice foretold + that you would be a light illuminating the world. + Be a light to us in the sorrows and anxieties of this earthly life, + and lead us into the eternal light of our home in Heaven. + Amen.

CLOSING PRAYER

V. Pray for us, Saint Clare.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

+



DAY FIVE

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

INVOCATION

O most Holy Trinity, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, + we praise your Holy Name + and the wonders of grace you worked in your servant, Saint Clare. + Through her powerful intercession + grant us the favors we beg in this novena, + [State or contemplate your intention here.] + above all the grace to live and die as she did + in your most Holy Love. + Amen.

PETITION

O Seraphic Saint Clare, + whose virginal heart was great enough to love the whole world, + take our petitions into your pure hands + and present them to God. + Pray for us + that we may one day enter joyously before the throne of God. + Let the light of your perfect purity + consume the shadows of sin + and the corruption that darkens the world. + Intercede by your innocence for our youth. + Safeguard the peace of our homes + and the unity of our family. + Plead with your chaste love for all in peril. + Amen.

CLOSING PRAYER

V. Pray for us, Saint Clare.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

+



DAY SIX

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

INVOCATION

O most Holy Trinity, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, + we praise your Holy Name + and the wonders of grace you worked in your servant, Saint Clare. + Through her powerful intercession + grant us the favors we beg in this novena, + [State or contemplate your intention here.] + above all the grace to live and die as she did + in your most Holy Love. + Amen.

PETITION

Generous Saint Clare, + who left wealth and pleasure and all earthly goods + to become the first spiritual daughter of Saint Francis + and to serve God in the cloister, + help us to commit our lives to God + without limit or measure + so that He may live in us and shine forth from us + to all whose lives touch ours. + You who loved souls so much as to make your life a continual sacrifice for them, + obtain for us the graces we now implore + and win for us the strength to praise God + in suffering as well as in joy. + Amen.

CLOSING PRAYER

V. Pray for us, Saint Clare.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

+



DAY SEVEN

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

INVOCATION

O most Holy Trinity, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, + we praise your Holy Name + and the wonders of grace you worked in your servant, Saint Clare. + Through her powerful intercession + grant us the favors we beg in this novena, + [State or contemplate your intention here.] + above all the grace to live and die as she did + in your most Holy Love. + Amen.

PETITION

Faithful Saint Clare, + loyal daughter of the Church, + friend and confidante of popes, + intercede for the holy Church + and look graciously from Heaven on our holy Father Pope. + Enlighten us to remove from our souls + all that hinders the progress of the Church on earth. + Grant that we may share your great love for the Church of God + and spread His kingdom on earth by a holy life. + You, who worked miracles in the presence of the pope on earth, + obtain for us the graces we need, + now that you stand in the presence of the most high God in Heaven. + Amen.

CLOSING PRAYER

V. Pray for us, Saint Clare.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

+



DAY EIGHT

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

INVOCATION

O most Holy Trinity, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, + we praise your Holy Name + and the wonders of grace you worked in your servant, Saint Clare. + Through her powerful intercession + grant us the favors we beg in this novena, + [State or contemplate your intention here.] + above all the grace to live and die as she did + in your most Holy Love. + Amen.

PETITION

Valiant Saint Clare, + who fearlessly stood alone against the barbarous Saracens, + trusting in the Blessed Sacrament as your only protection, + enkindle in us a tender love for Jesus Christ; + help us to live Eucharistic lives. + You who saved your city of Assisi from plunder and ruin, + protect our city and (arch)diocese, + plead for our beloved country + and the suffering world. + A voice from the Sacred Host rewarded your trust with a promise: + "I will always take care of you." + Glorious Saint Clare,
from your high place in Heaven, + take care of us now in our earthly needs + and guide us by your light to Heaven. + Amen.

CLOSING PRAYER

V. Pray for us, Saint Clare.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

+



DAY NINE

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

INVOCATION

O most Holy Trinity, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, + we praise your Holy Name + and the wonders of grace you worked in your servant, Saint Clare. + Through her powerful intercession + grant us the favors we beg in this novena, + [State or contemplate your intention here.] + above all the grace to live and die as she did + in your most Holy Love. + Amen.

PETITION

Gracious Saint Clare, + who fulfilled your womanhood + by a life of love in prayer and penance, + help us to fulfill our destiny + that we may one day greet you in Heaven. + You who were consoled at your death + by a vision of Christ and His Mother, + obtain for us the grace that we may die under the special protection of God + and enter into the life and bliss you now enjoy. + Have pity on us who struggle, + on us who mourn, + and win for us the favors of God + so that after this life + we may come home to Him + who lives and reigns forever and ever. + Amen.

CLOSING PRAYER

V. Pray for us, Saint Clare.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

We Pray to you, Lord, + Grant to us your servants + who celebrate the festival of Blessed Clare your Virgin, + by her intercession, + to be partakers of the joys of heaven + and coheirs with your only-begotten Son, + who being God, + lives and reigns forever and ever. + Amen.

Holy Mother St. Clare, Pray for us!

THE SIGN OF THE CROSS

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

+

Feast of St. Clare of Assisi [August 11]


Collect: God of mercy, you inspired Saint Clare with the love of poverty. By the help of her prayers may we follow Christ in poverty of spirit and come to the joyful vision of your glory in the kingdom of heaven. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

+

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Essence & Summit of Perfection

“You wish to become a Saint, and you ask me if this is not attempting too much. I will not tell you to aim at the seraphic holiness of the most privileged souls, but rather to ‘be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,’ and see that your dream⎯that our dreams and our desires⎯are not fancies, since Jesus Himself has laid their realization upon us as a commandment.” – St. Therese, the Little Flower of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face



Perfection is founded entirely on the love of God, and perfect love of God means the complete union of our will with His. Therefore, the more we unite our will with the Divine Will, the greater will be our love of God.

To do God’s will⎯this was the goal upon which the saints constantly fixed their gaze; for in this consists the entire perfection of the soul. Even Our Lord came on earth not to do His own will but “the will of him who sent me.” And “whosoever shall do the will of my Father who is heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

The greatest glory we can give to God is to do His will in everything. This is the summit of perfection and to it we should always aspire. This should be the goal of all our works, desires, meditations, and prayers. As St. Teresa of Jesus instructs, “Those who give themselves to prayer should concentrate solely on this: the conformity of their wills with the Divine Will. They should be convinced that this constitutes their highest perfection. The more fully they practice this, the greater they will make in the Interior Life.”

God is not glorified merely by the accumulation of our prayers and works but by the quality and measure of our love, and our resignation to and our union with His holy will. Though God asks for sacrifices, obedience is better than sacrifice, and we cannot offer God anything more pleasing than our will. For he who gives God his will, gives himself, and gives everything he is. The man who follows his own will independently of God’s will is guilty of a kind of idolatry. Instead of adoring God’s will, he in a certain sense adores his own.

God wills only our good; God loves us more than anybody else can or does love us. His will is that no one should be lost, that everyone should save and sanctify his soul: “Not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance.” “This is the will of God, your sanctification.”

The essence of perfection is to embrace the will of God in all things, prosperous or adverse. As St. Bernard of Clairvaux explains, “No longer do we consider what is the will of God for us, but rather what it is in itself. For our life is in His will.” In prosperity, even sinners find it easy to unite themselves to the Divine Will; but it takes saints to unite themselves to God’s will when things go wrong and are painful to self-love. Our conduct in such instances is a reflection of our love of God.

Sickness is the acid test of spirituality, because it discloses whether our virtue is real or sham. O, what modern heresies abound⎯those ancient doctrines of devils⎯regarding health, wealth, and the “faith” to cast out all suffering and claim from God's treasure only selfish pleasure?! When God sends spiritual darkness and desolation, his true friends are known.

Also, we should be united to God’s will in regard to the time and manner of our death. Yet, the true lover desires to be with his beloved. The person who has little desire for heaven shows he has little love for God. We cannot see God while we remain here on earth; hence the saints have yearned for death so that they might go and behold their beloved Lord, face to face.

Furthermore, we must unite ourselves to God’s will not only in things that come to us directly from His hands, such as sickness, desolation, poverty, and death; but likewise in those we suffer from man, such as contempt, injustice, loss of reputation, loss of temporal goods, and all kinds of persecution.

On these occasions we must remember that while God does not will the sin, He does will our humiliation, our poverty, and our mortification. For though these adversities are evil, they become good and beneficial when we receive them as coming from God’s hands. We must not therefore consider the afflictions that come upon us happening by chance or solely from the malice of men; we should be convinced that what happens, happens by the will of God.

If then He sends us suffering in this life, it is for our own good. For “all things work together unto good.” Even chastisements come to us, not to crush us, but to make us mend our ways and save our souls: “Let us believe that these scourges of the Lord have happened for our amendment and not for our destruction.” Therefore we should most confidently abandon ourselves to all the dispositions of Divine Providence, since they are for our own good.

When, therefore, something adverse happens to us, let us accept it from His hands, not only patiently, but even with gladness, as did the Apostles “who went from the presence of the council rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus.” Yet still more pleasing to God is the union of one’s will with His will, so that their will is neither to rejoice nor to suffer, but to hold completely amenable to His will and to desire that His holy will be fulfilled.

Acting according to this pattern, one not only becomes holy but also enjoys perpetual serenity in this life. Those who love God are always happy, because their whole happiness is to fulfill, even in adversity, the will of God. This is the beautiful freedom of the sons of God. This is the abiding peace that, in the experience of the saints, “surpasses all understanding” (apatheia). He who unites his will to God’s experiences a full and lasting joy⎯full, because he has what he wants; lasting, because no one can take his joy away from him, since no one can prevent God’s will from happening.

When a soul begins to cultivate the spiritual life, God usually showers His consolations upon her to wean her away from the world; but when he sees her making solid progress, He withdraws His hand to test her and to see if she will love and serve without the reward of sensible consolations. “In this life,” as St. Teresa used to say, “our lot is not to enjoy God, but to do His holy will.” “Love of God does not consist in experiencing His tenderness but in serving Him with resolution and humility.” “God’s true lovers are discovered in times of aridity and temptation.”

This earth is a place of merit, which is acquired by suffering, and heaven is a place of reward and happiness; and the real delights and happiness that will constitute our reward are reserved for heaven. Hence, in this life the saints neither desired nor sought the joys of sensible fervor but rather the fervor of the spirit toughened in the crucible of suffering.

It is important to lay great stress on this point, because some souls, beginners in the spiritual life, finding themselves in spiritual aridity, think God has abandoned them or that the spiritual life is not for them; thus they give up the practice of prayer and lose what they have previously gained. The time of aridity is the best time to practice resignation to God’s holy will. The saints have all experienced desolations and abandonment of soul. Even our Redeemer cried out on the Cross: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”

Thus we should unite ourselves to the will of God as regards our degree of grace and glory. True, we should esteem the things that make for the glory of God, but we should show the greatest esteem for those that concern the will of God. The only virtues worthwhile are those that draw the soul to holiness of life, namely, the virtue of uniformity with God’s holy will.

St. John of the Cross said, “I believe every saint has had the desire to be higher in grace than he actually was. However, despite this, their serenity of soul always remained unruffled. Their desire for a greater degree of grace sprang not from a consideration of their own good, but of God’s. They were content with the degree of grace God had meted out for them, though actually God had given them less. The Saints considered it a greater sign of true love of God to be content with what God had given them, than to desire to have received more.”

So if God does not wish to raise us to the heights of perfection and glory, let us unite ourselves in all things to His holy will, asking Him in His mercy, to grant us our soul’s salvation. If we act in this manner, the reward will not be slight which we shall receive from the hands of God who loves above all others, souls resigned to His holy will.

Finally, we should consider the events which are happening to us now and which will happen to us in the future, as coming from the hands of God. Everything we do should be directed to this one end: to do the will of God and to do it solely for the reason that God wills it.

During our pilgrimage in this world, we should learn from the saints now in heaven, how to love God. The pure and perfect love of God they enjoy there consists in uniting themselves perfectly to His will. For a single act of uniformity with the Divine Will suffices to make a saint. To this end we should always invoke the aid of our holy patrons, our guardian angels and above all, of Our Blessed Mother Mary⎯the most perfect of all the saints⎯because she most perfectly embraced the Divine Will.

To walk more securely on this road we must depend on the guidance of our superiors in external matters, and on our directors in internal matters. Above all, let us bend our energies to serve God in the way He wishes. Let us always and ever only what God wills; for doing so, He will press us to His Divine Merciful Heart.

If, devout soul, it is your will to please God and live a life of holiness and happiness in this world, unite yourself always and in all things to the Divine Will. Reflect that all the sins of your past wicked life happened because you wandered from the path of God’s will. Direct all your thoughts and prayers to this end, to beg to God constantly in meditation, Communion, and visits to the Blessed Sacrament that He help you accomplish His holy will.

Form the habit of offering yourself frequently to God by saying, “My God, behold me in Your presence; do with me and all that I have as You please.” You will surely become a saint. If during life we have embraced everything as coming from God’s hands and if at death we embrace death in fulfillment of God’s holy will, we shall certainly save our souls and die the death of martyrs.

Let us then abandon everything to God’s good pleasure because, being infinitely wise, He knows what is best for us; and being all-good and all-loving⎯having given His life for us⎯He wills what is best for us. Let us, as St. Basil counsels us, rest secure in the conviction that beyond the possibility of a doubt, God works to effect our welfare, infinitely better than we could ever hope to accomplish or desire it ourselves.

Let us then be content with what God has given us, “But one thing is necessary,” and it is not beauty, not health, not talent, not fame, not power, not riches. It is the salvation of our immortal souls. For God is glorified not by our works, but by our resignation to, and by our union with, His holy will. In this respect St. Francis de Sales used to say we serve God better by our sufferings than by our actions. The fulfillment of God’s holy will should be the greatest consolation of our life.

To this end let us familiarize ourselves with certain texts of Sacred Scripture that invite us to unite ourselves constantly with the Divine Will. Above all, let us cherish the prayer of Our Lord, which He Himself taught us, and pray that God’s will be fulfilled on earth with the same perfection with which the saints do it in heaven. Let this be our practice, and we shall be certainly become saints. May the Divine Will be loved and praised!

Compiled & Adapted from “Uniformity With God's Will”
by St. Alphonsus de Liguori

Memorial of St. St. Alphonsus Liguori

August 1, 2009

My God. My all.
T

Recommended Site: The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer

Recommended Books [Buy from MONKROCK.COM]:


“Uniformity With God's Will" [Buy >>]
Explains how God is glorified by our resignation to His will even more than by our acts. An easy way to become not only holy but enjoy serenity in this life. This is a little book to keep people from despair; will bring consolation to anyone having trouble accepting his lot in life. By: St. Alphonsus Liguori



“12 Steps to Holiness & Salvation" [Buy >>]
A simple easy-to-read overview of the Christian life and the 12 virtues we must all acquire to be happy and holy in this world and to save and perfect our souls. 1. Faith 2. Hope 3. Love of God 4. Love for Our Neighbor 5. Poverty 6. Chastity 7. Obedience 8. Meekness and Humility 9. Mortification 10. Recollection 11. Prayer 12. Self-Denial and Love of the Cross. By St. Alphonsus De Liguori Impr. 216 pgs, PB

The Fear of Blogging

IOGD - In Omnibus Glorificetur Deus - "In all things may God be glorified"

The only thing I fear more than putting something into writing is to speak without thinking, i.e., to speak without adequate time to carefully consider what I am about to say. As the good book says, “In the multitude of words there is no lack of sin, but he who restrains his lips does wisely.” [Proverbs 10:19]

Thus my fear of blogging––as opposed to writing articles, manuscripts, a monastic rule, or even a song; all of which can take hours, days, months, and even years to compose––is and has always been that I would be putting thoughts that I had NOT carefully considered into writing, like carving my name misspelled into the wet sidewalk.



However, to be effective in using the great modern technologies and media I love (such as the internet, blogging, and social networking), it is as important to communicate regularly and with brevity, as it is to communicate truthfully or well. I pray that one is not necessarily opposed to the other.

The Bible cites a handful of times, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” but as G.K. Chesterton finishes the thought, “it is not the end.” So, in fear and trembling I will begin [once again] to blog, but I pray that by the grace of God and the deification of man, it will end in truth and love, the salvation of souls and the glory of God.

My God. My all.
T