Thine, O Lord, is magnificence, and power, and glory, and victory: and to thee is praise: for all that is in heaven, and in earth, is thine: thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art above all princes.
Thine are riches, and thine is glory, thou hast dominion over all, in thy hand is power and might: in thy hand greatness, and the empire of all things.
Now therefore our God we give thanks to thee, and we praise thy glorious name. 1 Chr:29: 11-13
If mosaics, priceless paintings and imposing statues are conspicuous in grand cathedrals, equally precious in God’s sight are humble wayside shrines. The tradition began in the earliest decades of the Catholic Church with the establishment of markers and small chapels to commemorate Christ. the Blessed Virgin Mary and the martyrs, often at the location of their faithful martyrdom.
Excerpt from “The Legends of The Blessed Virgin” 1853
They who have never visited the towns and villages of a Catholic country, cannot conceive the feeling of delight with which the pious traveler is affected at the sight of those monuments of piety and religious recollection, which, in the shape of crucifixes, images of the Blessed Virgin, and favorite saints, are placed at the angle of streets, in squares, and public places, on bridges, fountains, and obelisks, or between the stalls of a village market or fair. These works of popular art and devotion, formerly existed in great cities also, recalling to the passenger’s mind thoughts of the object and end of his earthly pilgrimage.
They also served a benevolent purpose, and exercised a civilizing influence over the passions of men. Many a pure spring would have been adulterated but for the presence of its presiding saint. Often has the revengeful spirit of an enemy been appeased, when on the point of immolating his victim, by the sight of a man-god suffering for all mankind. The poor soul of some betrayed girl plunged in deep despair and meditating self destruction passes on her way the figure of our Lady of Sorrows, and falling on her knees, obtains comfort and strength from the Mother of Holy Hope and sweet consolation. Again in ancient times cities were but badly lighted and towns not at all. Piety supplied this deficiency. Each statue or holy image had its little lantern which gave honor to the saint and light to the locality.
Some pretended philosophers may sneer at these objects of popular devotion. But have they ever considered the benefits of which they have been the source, the evils they have remedied, the griefs they have calmed and the crimes they have stayed?
Among the cities nearest our shores, Antwerp is one which has most fully preserved this mediaeval custom and contains innumerable pious souvenirs of the ages of faith. Paris was formerly equally distinguished.
“At the comer of every street,” writes the Abbé Orsini, “a little image of Mary rose from amidst a heap of flowers, which the pious people of the neighborhood renewed each morning as soon as the trumpets from the towers of Chatlet announced the break of day. During the night lamps burnt constantly before them illuminating their little grey niches and on Saturdays their number was greatly increased. This was the first attempt to light the streets. A poor illumination, perhaps, when compared to our modem gaslights, yet had it one great advantage over ours for to it was added a pious object, which excited the people to holy reflection.
The silver lights of the Madonna’s shrines shot forth at intervals like a string of stars from their flowery beds, and seemed to say to those who wandered abroad with ill intent, — “There watches over this city, wrapt in slumber, an eye that never closes, but which sees through all our hearts — the eye of God.”
“He is a true and genuine Catholic, who loves the truth of God, his Church, and its members; who to his religion and his faith prefers nothing—not the authority of any man, not wit, not eloquence, not philosophy: but who, looking down upon these things, and firmly fixed in his belief, resolves to admit, and to adhere only to that, which from ancient times, he knows to have been universally received.”
“Never was it allowed, never is it allowed, never will it be allowed, to deliver any doctrine to the Catholic Christian, that has not been received; and it ever has been, is, and ever will be, a duty to anathematize those who introduce any novelty. Who, therefore, shall dare to preach what he has not received? who shall show himself so easy of belief, as to admit what the Church has not delivered? So taught the great Apostle. But I hear some vain men cry, and cry to Catholics: ‘under our authority, our rule, our exposition, condemn what you held, take up that which you condemned, reject your ancient belief, the doctrines of your Fathers, the institutes of your Elders, and embrace—what ?—I shudder to utter it.”
“Reflecting often on these things, I am astonished at the madness, the impiety, the lust of error in some men, who, not content with the Rule of Faith once delivered and received, are ever seeking for something new, and are ever anxious to add to religion, to change, or to take away; as if, what was once revealed, was not a celestial dogma, but a human institution, which, to be brought to perfection, required constant emendation, or rather correction. If novelty must be shunned, antiquity must be held fast: if novelty be profane, antiquity is sacred.”
Saint Vincent of Lérins ;”Commonitorium” (434)
“Is not ours an age of mislived lives, of unmanned men? Why?… Because Jesus Christ has disappeared. Wherever the people are true Christians, there are men to be found in large numbers, but everywhere and always, if Christianity wilts, the men wilt. Look closely, they are no longer men but shadows of men. Thus, what do you hear on all sides today? The world is dwindling away, for lack of men; the nations are perishing for scarcity of men, for the rareness of men…
“I believe: there are no men where there is no character; there is no character where there are no principles, doctrines, stands taken; there are no stands taken, no doctrines, no principles, where there is no religious faith and, consequently, no religion of society. Do what you will: only from God you will get men.” (Cardinal Louis-Edouard Pie, Bishop of Poitiers, Homily for Christmas 1871)
We are living in the age of wilted men. Men today are bereft of faith and reason, virtue and character, honor and dignity. Men are empty vessels because the enemy has emptied them of the Catholic Faith. Progressivism has cultivated limp daffodils where once were virile men. It has replaced man with a curious species whose voice has been reduced to whimpers and sobs, a character more fitted to caricature than living and fighting against a world surrendering to Satan.
The heroic Bishop of Poitiers, Card. Pie, said that we have “unmanned men” because Jesus Christ has disappeared. Christ has disappeared because He has been shown the door in our society and the Conciliar Church, the wicked institution that claims Catholicity but is instead the diabolical deception resulting from the evils of Vatican II and the progressivist assault preceding it.
C.S. Lewis wrote The Abolition of Man in 1943 during the slaughter of the Second War against Western Civilization. In the chapter, ‘Men without Chests,’ he presciently wrote this, still pertinent today:
“And all the time – such is the tragi-comedy of our situation – we continue to clamor for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive’, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly simplicity, we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”
With this brilliant text, C.S. Lewis met his peer Card. Pie.
In his work Revolution and Counter-Revolution, Prof. Plinio de Correa Oliveira said, “In times of great crisis there are two types of men: those who are overwhelmed by the crisis and those who rise up to resist the trend of events and so change the course of History.”
Our times call for manned men, men with chests, and those who rise to resist events to change the course of History. The Church needs men, the revitalized Church Militant on the move to resist and fight the enemies in the world. Instead, that revolutionary Conciliar Church promotes the Church Groveling, men overwhelmed by crisis, men who promote the crisis. It is a “church” of darkness, a “church” of unmanned men. We need the army of Church Militant to rise against the enemy’s occupation of our Church and society.
But before we return to this matter, let’s look at how we have descended to such a state where men are no longer men.
Feminism vs. patriarchal society
In the 1962 pamphlet What’s Become of Father? Catholic scholar John O’Brien reports that the “problem” of the father and his role was troublesome even then. We mistakenly think of the ‘50s and ‘60s nostalgically as “good” times for the Church, the family and men. He is wrong. The assault against all three was already in full swing.
O’Brien wrote: “Time was when father was the revered head of the household, to whom the children turned for guidance in all important decisions; he was respected for his wisdom and experience, and loved for his devotion to his family. No event in the home was complete without his presence.” Such a vaunted position in the natural order of the family drove the fringe element of feminism into a ravening rage.
These harridans screamed in the streets, sharpening their tongues and knives, then went after men with a vengeance. They hated the “patriarchal” society. They vowed to destroy it. With millions of dollars pumped into academic programs called “Women’s Studies” in the nation’s colleges and universities, feminists rose to dominance. These “studies” were funded in great measure by the Rockefeller Foundation.
With the rise of feminism and women in the workplace, many women lost their natural loving instincts. Consequently, the family fell into disarray, morals declined and birth rates plummeted.” O’Brien suggests this is the case because, even in 1962, “the child’s chief, if not his only parent, is the mother, while the father is relegated to the position of a mere breadwinner.” Since then the father has ceased even to be the breadwinner and has become merely an inconsequential oaf, as countless advertising spots remind us.
Already in the early 1960s, commentators remarked on the father’s haplessness. Dr. O’Brien cites research affirming how modern culture set the woman up as a beautiful powerhouse of sex appeal and dynamic capability, relegating the male to a position of ridicule as an awkward and hapless galoot.
Reflecting the feminist vision of the male, the popular soap operas of that time pictured men as “simple-minded, easily-bamboozled and fairly expendable oafs.” In the halcyon days of television sit coms in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, the trend toward oafishness began with Dick van Dyke’s character of Rob Petrie in The Dick van Dyke Show.
As society continued its unabated descent into filth and despair, more “fathers” appeared on the television horizon. Some fathers were still portrayed as adequate, The Andy Griffith Show and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father being two examples of note. But families were changing significantly with wives as co-breadwinners, usually in high powered jobs, like Claire Huxtable in The Cosby Show, where she was an attorney and he, Cliff Huxtable, a pediatrician working from the basement in his home.
The descent of the father continued with Home Improvement, showcasing Tim Allen as a ridiculous handy man wannabee who ran an unsuccessful cable network show. Allen was saved continually by his wife. If it were not for her, the show implied, Taylor and his three sons would be living in filth, reeking of perpetual body odor, wearing cardboard boxes for shoes and garbage bags as clothes.
In Home Improvement the mother’s true role as her husband’s helpmate and “sun of the family” has become a caricature. Men are seen as pigs that need women to clean them up and boss them around. That reinforces the twisted feminized view.
Anyone who watches sit coms today can see that this early tendency to present men as big boys and fools has continued and exacerbated without restraints.
There is no doubt that the great majority of modern men have been hermetically sealed in the baggie of feminism. Nearly all are too timid and fretful to break free to demand their natural authority as men and as heads of households.
Abandoning comforts and entering the battle
For the Church, true men are vital for her restoration. Sadly, even traditional Catholic men have been too inculturated by the filth of Progressivism. Men have become weak and ineffectual.
We must remember the words of Job, (7.i), “the life of man upon earth is a warfare.” We are seduced by comfort and consumption, beset by economic woes and the vagaries of antichrists in politics.
This is not the hour to abandon the Mystical Body of Christ to its enemies and run off to some solitary forest to avoid personal inconveniences. This is the hour to enter the battle with increased vigor, to re-conquer every inch of soil the enemies took and rebuild in that place the same sacred institution more militant, pure and glorious than ever, so that the Church will be ready to face, under the protection of Our Lady, all other possible enemies until the end times.
St. Bernard roused the men of his time to enlist in the Second Crusade with stirring words: “All you who hear me, make haste to calm the wrath of Heaven! Leave off imploring His goodness with futile lamentations or mortifying yourself with disciplines, but rather take up your invincible shields. The clamor of arms, the dangers, difficulties and fatigues of war, these are the penances that God imposes on you.”
We should pay heed to them in our continuing crusade to storm the captured citadel and free the imprisoned Truth. We Catholics can still be the great men needed for our times. We must go into the world, in all domains, to battle for Holy Church and her dignity. We must recapture that which has been taken, defend those assaulted, and restore to God His rights.
What a horrible thing it would be if we, as Catholic men, dropped our arms and fled the battlefield. Then, to end with the words of the heroic Card. Pie, “What a disappointment for mothers to realize that the male they gave birth to is not a man, and will never deserve to be called a man!” We are Catholic men or we are nothing.
O Lord! all our ills come from not fixing our eyes on Thee: if we looked at nothing else but where we are going we should soon arrive, but we fall a thousand times and stumble and go astray because we do not keep our gaze bent on Him Who is the “Way”. It looks so new to us that one would suppose no body had walked in it before. Indeed, this is a grievous pity: one would think we were not Christians at all, nor had ever read the Passion in our lives. Lord have mercy on us — we are touched in a point of honour! If people tell us not to notice it, we at once call them unchristian — I laugh, or I grieve sometimes, at what I hear of such foibles in the world, as I do at my own foibles in religion. To be undervalued in the least is unbearable to us: we at once cry out: “We are not angels, nor saints!” That is true enough. God deliver us, my daughters, when we fall into any imperfection, from saying: ‘We are not angels! We are not saints!’ Although we are not, still, it is the greatest help to believe that, with the aid of God, we can be if we strive our hardest. There is no fear of His failing to do His part if we do ours.
Since we came here for nothing else, let us put our hands to the plough, as they say. Let there be nothing which we know would further our Lord’s service that we dare not undertake with the assistance of His grace. I wish such audacity to exist in this house — it always increases humility. Ever nourish this holy daring, for God aids the valiant and is no respecter of persons.” Both to you and me He will give the help needed.
The Way to Perfection
St. Teresa of Ávila
In the 126th Psalm, King David warns us, “Unless the Lord builds the house: they labor in vain that build it.” Houses must be built on foundations that are slide-rule perfect, lest they tilt. King David’s teaching, of course, goes beyond houses. He means that without grace, whatever we do is in vain.
Philosophy is like this, and especially so. There must be no flaws, it must be perfect. In his Epistle to the Colossians, St. Paul’s words about philosophy are interesting in this regard:
“Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy and vain deceit; according to the tradition of men according to the elements of the world and not according to Christ” (2:8).
Writing about the mentality that overthrew the Middle Ages, Prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira noted that by the 15th century, “The appetite of men for earthly pleasures [was] transformed into a burning desire. ” They were increasingly attracted to “a life filled with delights of fancy and the senses.”
The professor went on to say what happened when this mentality penetrated the intellectual sphere:
“This moral climate produced clear manifestations of pride, such as a taste for ostentatious and vain disputes, for inconsistent tricks of argument and for fatuous exhibitions of learning. It encouraged old philosophical tendencies, over which Scholasticism had already triumphed.”
Now then, it matters nothing whether it be “old philosophical tendencies” or new ones that lead men into error. Scholasticism’s foundation was slide-rule perfect, and therefore blocked the program of Progressivism. It had to go, and in the wake of Vatican II it was replaced with something new. Why, exactly, was Scholasticism perfect? And what, exactly, took its place?
It was perfect because it brought “harmony between the laws of being and the laws of thought. Objectivity of our knowledge in the light of being.”
Important words, these. When we examine a thing, we do so as it exists in being. The method of this examination must be divorced from the clutter of our subjective thoughts. Any method of inquiry that seeks the truth must place the object first, and this is exactly what Scholasticism does. For this reason Pope St. Pius X said that Catholicism cannot be understood scientifically without utilizing the major theses of St. Thomas Aquinas, the father of Scholasticism.
The philosophy of John Paul II, known as Phenomenology, replaced Thomism, and locked Catholics globally into the progressivist New Church. Its method directly violates the principle of placing the object first, by taking “consciousness as its starting point, as Descartes did.” This is a problem of vital concern, because “for knowledge to be objective it is essential that things, not thoughts, be known first.” Whereas, “phenomenology sees reality as essentially relative and subjective.”
Fr. Karol Wojtyla wrote his philosophical doctoral dissertation on Max Scheler, an associate of Edmund Husserl. About Husserl the following was written:
“Existentialism is a philosophical movement characterized by an emphasis on subjectivity. It was inspired mainly by the German philosophers Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. It, like the rest of the pus-filled growth on the back of philosophy called post-Modernism, should be disregarded by any philosophy that has a desire to know what is true and what is false.”
To repeat, a house built on a bad foundation will end up tilting. This means tearing the building down and beginning over. Phenomenology begins with self, which was the temptation of Lucifer. When God commanded adoration and reverence from the angelic realm, it caused a temptation for Lucifer, for he “was divided in his will between himself and the infallible truth of the Lord. Simply put, Lucifer violated the rule later codified by St. Thomas Aquinas, whereby focus on the object must be pure; it must not become entangled with self.
The house of God has been tilted for a long time. The progressivist New Church has to come down, its existentialist foundation has to be jack-hammered and buried in the hinterland.
Ninety years ago on July 13, 1917, Our Lady of Fatima warned us that “several nations will be annihilated.” Perhaps the present foundation and its tilted house must wait until then to be removed. In the Reign of Mary, her children will return to consulting the slide-rule to check its calculations, returning the foundation of St. Thomas Aquinas to its rightful place in the Catholic Church.
St. Francis of Assisi – October 4
During the time that St. Francis was preaching in Gubbio, an enormous and ferocious wolf appeared in that area. It not only devoured other animals, but also men; and since it often came near the town, the inhabitants were taken by great fear. When the people went out to the fields, they would go armed as if for combat. Nonetheless, if any of the townspeople, even if armed, came upon it alone, he could not defend himself against it. The fear of this wolf became so great that no one had the courage to go beyond the city walls.
St. Francis, however, decided to go and meet the wolf, although all the inhabitants counseled him not to do so. Making the Sign of the Cross and putting all his trust in God, he walked out of the town with his brothers. At a certain point, his companions feared to go further, so St. Francis continued alone on the road that led to the place where the wolf stayed.
Many townspeople were following him from the distance to see what would happen. This is what they saw: The wolf advanced toward St. Francis with its mouth open. Approaching him, St. Francis made the Sign of the Cross and called out to the wolf saying: “Come here, brother wolf. In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, I order you not to do any harm to me or any other person.”
Then a marvelous thing happened! As soon as the Saint spoke those words, the wolf closed its mouth, stopped advancing, and meekly laid itself down at the feet of St. Francis as if it were dead.
Then St. Francis spoke to the wolf: “Brother wolf, you are doing much harm and have committed great evils in this land, destroying properties and killing the creatures of God without His permission. You have not only killed and devoured animals, but you have dared to kill men, made in the image and likeness of God. For this, you deserve to be hanged as the terrible thief and murderer that you are. The people clamor and murmur against you, and this entire land is your enemy. But I want, brother wolf, to make peace between you and them, so that you will no longer offend them and they will forgive your past crimes, and neither men nor dogs will chase you any longer.”
As he finished saying these words, the wolf moved its body and tail and bowed its head to show that it had accepted the Saint’s proposal. Then St. Francis said: “Brother wolf, since you wish to accept and keep this peace, I promise you that the men of this land will always feed you while you live so that you will not be hungry, for I know well that it was out of hunger that you have done so many evils. But in granting you this great grace, I want you to promise me never to harm any man or animal. Do you promise this?”
The wolf, bowing its head, made an evident sign of agreement. Still not satisfied, St. Francis asked: “Brother wolf, I want you to give me a pledge of this promise, so that I can trust in it fully.” St. Francis extended his hand to receive the wolf’s pledge, and the wolf raised its right paw and meekly put it in St. Francis’ hand, giving him the requested guarantee.
Then St. Francis said: “Brother wolf, in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ I command you to follow me without any fear, so that we may conclude this peace in the name of God.” And the wolf obediently followed him into the city as if it were a docile lamb. The townspeople marveled greatly at this, and the news spread quickly through the entire city so that everyone, men and women, great and small, young and old, went to the public square to see St. Francis with the wolf.
When all the people were gathered together there, St. Francis arose and preached to them with these words: “It is because of our sins that God permits calamities like this. Much more dangerous than the fury of a wolf, which can only kill the body, are the flames of Hell that will last eternally for those condemned. See how such a great multitude fears the mouth of a little animal, but you should fear the mouth of Hell much more. Make, sincere penance for your sins, therefore, and God will free you now from the wolf, and in the future from the infernal fire.”
St. Francis continued: “Listen to me, my brothers. Brother wolf, who is here before you, has promised and pledged to me to make peace with you and not offend you in anything as long as you promise to give it the food it needs each day. I offer myself as surety that it will strictly observe this pact.
All the people in unison promised to feed it always. And before all St. Francis said to the wolf: “Brother wolf, do you promise to observe with these people a pact of peace, offending neither any human creature nor his belongings?” The wolf knelt down and inclined its head, and with subdued movements of its body showed that it wanted to observe the entire pact.
But still St. Francis said: “Brother wolf, the same way you made your pledge to me outside the walls, I want you to give me assurance of your promise before all the people, that you will not deceive me about the surety I offer on your behalf.” Then the wolf, raising its right paw, put it in the hand of St. Francis.
After all this took place, there was such great joy and admiration among the entire people, both because of the virtue of the Saint and the novelty of the miracle, that all began to shout to Heaven, praising and thanking God for sending them St. Francis, who by his merits had freed them from the jaws of that ferocious beast.
After that, the said wolf lived two more years in Gubbio. It would enter docilely into the houses, going from door to door, without harming anyone and not being harmed by anyone. It was courteously fed by the people, and as it went about through the houses and city, no dog ever barked at it or chased it. When the worf died of old age after two years, all the townspeople mourned the loss greatly because in seeing it walking through the city so tame, they were better reminded of the virtue and charity of St. Francis of Assisi.
¶ For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. – Gal:1:10
The great temptation for a Catholic, whether layman or churchman, is to allow himself to be attracted by the world and wish to become part of it, being accepted and admired.
We are not talking about the physical world created by God, which, like everything else He created, is very good. The world here is a moral entity opposed to God: “For all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1Jn:2:16)
Thus, to give in to the temptation of the world is to cave in to the triple concupiscence, to adopt worldly wisdom and flee from the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which the world sees as “foolishness.”
The Impossible Quest of Catholic Liberals
Our Lord does not pray for this world, for it refused His light. Hence “the whole world is under the power of the evil one,” under Satan, “the prince of this world.”
Now then, “what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath the faithful with the unbeliever,” the one who “loved darkness rather than the light”?
Therefore, it is impossible, as liberal Catholics claim, to remain Catholic while being admired by the world; and to have the consolation of the Faith along with the pomp and honors of the world.
“If the World Hates You”
Our Lord himself explained the reason for this impossibility as He warned the apostles:
“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘The servant is not greater than his master.’”
Thus, to wish to be part of the world is to stray from the right path and drive away from the truth; for only Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life.” It is to fall under the domination of the one who “is a liar and the father of lies.”
The Christian is called “into the world, to testify to the truth” not only through a flawless life but by fighting error and evil.
It is to lose the peace of Christ: “my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.”
Confront the World and Combat its Malice
That does not mean that a Catholic must only flee from the world without fighting its malice: “I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.”
Instead, like his Savior, the Christian is called “into the world, to testify to the truth.”
This testimony must be given not only through a flawless life but by fighting error and evil.
That is why the Savior said: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.”
” For the word of God is living and effectual and more piercing than any two edged sword; and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit, of the joints also and the marrow: and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb:4:12)
The Voice of the World and the Voice of Christ
“There is no truth” in the prince of this world. “When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies.”
He not only employs direct lie, as when he seduced Eve, but also ambiguity and deceitful words: “But let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil.”
The world accepts lies and ambiguity because “the whole world is under the power of the evil one.”
But those who belong to Christ do not allow themselves to be deceived: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Since He is the Incarnate Truth, his words are clear, tender toward the good and the repentant sinners, severe and even terrible to those hardened in evil: “You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father’s desires.”
The World in its Present Form Is Passing Away
Let us therefore not allow ourselves to be carried away by this world’s deceitful appearance. Its joy is false; it is “sorrow [that] produces death.” “For the world in its present form is passing away.” Eternity is the only thing that really counts, as “our citizenship is in heaven.”
Let us raise our eyes to Our Lady, Queen of Heaven and Earth, and to her Divine Son. “I have conquered the world” He said, and He will give us the necessary strength to resist the snares and attractions of the world.
The world enslaves and takes away “the liberty of the glory of the children of God.” Only the truth liberates, whereas lie and sin enslave.
In this tragic situation we are going through, in which vice is glorified and virtue oppressed, lie and ambiguity have free rein while truth and the evangelical language of “yea, yea: no, no” are despised, let us ask the One Who said “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world,” that He give us the necessary strength to resist the snares and attractions of the world.
Let us not be as the liberal Catholics that want to serve God and the prince of this world: because “’No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
Some helpful spiritual counsels from the stigmatist Capuchin priest, Padre Pio.
Today (September 17) is the Commemoration of the Stigmata of St. Francis, wherein we remember the miraculous impression of the sacred Wounds of Christ upon the body of the great mystic—the first ever to receive this honor.
From one of St. Francis of Assisi’s friars minor, Padre Pio (also privileged to bear the stigmata), we offer a compilation of counsels that the saintly Capuchin would give to those who came for advice.
Duty before everything else, even something holy.
Whenever necessary you must look without seeing, and see without thinking about it.
If Jesus reveals Himself, thank Him; if He hides Himself thank Him also. All is a pleasantry of His love.
Always do a little work. Work, therefore, and though you keep on advancing slowly, you will nevertheless go a long way.
Pray, hope and do not worry!
Only one thing is necessary: to lift up your spirit and love God.
The time best spent is that which is spent for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
Offset the Devil’s Work
Despise your temptations and do not dwell on them.
Walk in the way of the Lord with simplicity and do not torment your spirit.
Often kiss Jesus with affection and you will recompense Him for the sacrilegious kiss of the unfaithful Apostle, Judas.
The devil is like a rabid dog tied to a chain; beyond the length of the chain he cannot seize anyone. And you, keep your distance!
That which proceeds from God begins with a salutary fear and finishes with peace of mind. That which comes from Satan begins with calmness and ends in storm, indifference and apathy.
When there is not time for both, meditation is to be preferred to vocal prayer, because it is more fruitful.
Don’t draw back, and worse still, don’t stop going up the Calvary of life. Jesus will extend His hand to steady you.
If you want to assist at Mass with devotion and with fruit, think of the Sorrowful Mother at the feet of Calvary.
Let us bind ourselves rightly to the Sorrowful Heart of our heavenly Mother and reflect on its boundless grief and how precious is our soul.
Be firm in your resolutions; stay in the ship in which I placed you and let the storm come. Long live Jesus! You will not perish.
Walk amid wind and waves, but with Jesus. If fear strongly grips you, exclaim with St. Peter: “O Lord, save me!” He will extend His hand to you. Seize it firmly and walk cheerfully.
Ashes represent the outward destruction of the material world, and show the endless decomposition of all bodies when detached from the source of organization and life. They are, therefore, the symbol of earthly decay and death, and remind us forcibly of the disorganization of bodily life; in other words, of death itself. But death is the wages of sin, and at the same time the symbol of sin’s penalties, and as such is calculated to warn us sternly that we should endeavor to regain true life by a return to God over the path of sincere repentance.
The Church blesses ashes and distributes them on the heads of the faithful on Ash Wednesday. Thus she is pleased, by this reminder of approaching and certain death, to incite us to penance, and to awake within us a spirit of humility and self-abasement, without which no penance can be real and pleasing to God. Hence the priest says, while giving the ashes,” Remember, man, thou art but dust, and into dust thou shalt return.”
The Church offers this prayer for each one of us as the priest traces a black cross on our foreheads with the ashes from burnt palm branches. I wonder how often we reflect, especially when we are in good health and are busy with many good works, that a day will come, perhaps very soon, when we will die and our bodies will be placed in a cold casket six feet under the lush green grass in the local Catholic cemetery. I should ask myself now, “Where will I be then?”
As Catholics we should think about death each day, since it is included in many of our prayers. The Mass itself is a memorial and a re-presentation of the death of Jesus. A crucifix reminds us of the death of Christ. In the Liturgy of the Hours we are constantly reminded of the death of the Lord, of the death of the wicked, and of our own certain death. The Church, making use of the Psalms, reminds us over and over again that our life is fragile and fleeting, and that it will disappear like the morning mist.
Man naturally fears death. He knows it is certain, but he does not like to think about it. Contemporary American culture trivializes death in the media because it does not want to confront the awesome reality of death. It is strange, is it not? Scores of murders and deaths are shown on TV each day, but rarely, if ever, is the reality of death given serious treatment.
Our modern culture tries to create illusions of immortality. We see this in film and TV stars, in sports heroes, in popular politicians. But where are they now? Picking just a few well-known names at random, we can ask: where are Abraham Lincoln, John Wayne, FDR, Marilyn Monroe, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan, and all the rest who have gone before us? During their lifetimes they were thought to be important persons. Now they are gone, and most people pay little or no attention to them.
What a cruel fate awaits rich, powerful and famous men and women who appear to be something but who, whether sooner or later, are swallowed up by the jaws of death. Many of them do not seem to know that death is the fruit of sin, that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). And we Catholics—priests, religious and laity—are we any different? Do we heed the warnings of the Bible and the teaching of the Church that death is the punishment for sin—the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve, and our own personal sins? Daily the Church urges us to repentance and conversion of heart, especially during Lent. Do we listen and heed her motherly warnings?
Just think about your relatives and friends who have died during the past few years. Where are they now? The Church teaches infallibly that there are only three possibilities right now before the Second Coming of Christ: purgatory, heaven and hell. Do you ever think seriously about the certain fact that you will be with those deceased friends and relatives one future day—perhaps sooner than you think? Do you pray for them and gain indulgences for them in case they are in purgatory?
The closer one comes to God in love and the more one submits himself to the will of God, the more one becomes like God in holiness, and the less fear one feels in the face of death. Actually, many of the saints have longed to die, to be dissolved that they might be united eternally with Christ. St. Paul said, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain…. My desire is to depart and to be with Christ” (Phil 1:21-23). A daily awareness that we shall soon be judged by the glorified Christ for our words and deeds injects humility into our lives, and spurs us on to a more intense practice of the love of God and neighbor.