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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Using Angels

Several years ago, a wise woman told me that we do not use our guardian angels enough. Also, the truth is, that if we do ask our angels for help, they respond in love, as they exist to guard and aid us.

Almost daily, I follow the same pattern and have for the past two months.

I take the bus, get off, walk to the church where I attend Mass, then walk to a cafe for coffee and sometimes breakfast, as I have fasted from the day before...then, I walk to the Adoration chapel.

In order to get to the chapel, almost daily, I have to walk on a pavement where several non-Maltese men congregate. Sometimes they let me pass and sometimes I have to walk in the street to get around them. Most of the time, they just stand in the way and I have to walk around them.

As it is raining and dirty now, I decided I did not want to brush up against cars, or step into the street.

So, I did something rather daring. I asked angels to go before me and clear the sidewalk, moving the men away so I could walk on the pavement.

When I reached the first group, they stepped aside quickly as I was coming. Now, I usually look at the ground when I walk, being modest and trying to have custody of the eyes. But, it was so obvious that something new was happening, I had to look up.

As I approached the second group of men, they all scattered in different directions.

I just smiled to myself. We do not use our angels as often as we should.

I shall let you know if this happens again when I ask angels to go before me on the sidewalk. Angels respect this unworthy little woman even if some men do not.

Feast of The Immaculata

Tomorrow, I am going to two special things in order to celebrate the National Holiday here, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

This feast is also the Patronal Feast of the United States. Too bad it is not a National Holiday in America.

I shall post later in the day on those two celebrations. Here are some brief words of mine from last year. Notice the call to perfection and purity of heart in this collect.

From the EF Collect of The Immaculate Conception

O God, who, by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, didst make her a worthy habitation for Thy Son, and didst, by His foreseen death, preserve her from all stain of sin; grant, we beseech Thee, that through her intercession we may be cleansed from sin and come with pure hearts to Thee; Through the same our Lord. 

The priest at Mass said that Mary's entire existence, from conception on, was one long YES to God.


Happy Feast Day to Malta and to America.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia: and I leave the links in place...

The doctrine

In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin."

"The Blessed Virgin Mary..."

The subject of this immunity from original sin is the person of Mary at the moment of the creation of her soul and its infusion into her body.

" the first instance of her conception..."

The term conception does not mean the active or generative conception by her parents. Her body was formed in the womb of the mother, and the father had the usual share in its formation. The question does not concern the immaculateness of the generative activity of her parents. Neither does it concern the passive conception absolutely and simply (conceptio seminis carnis, inchoata), which, according to the order of nature, precedes the infusion of the rational soul. The person is truly conceived when the soul is created and infused into the body. Mary was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin at the first moment of her animation, and sanctifying grace was given to her before sin could have taken effect in her soul.

"...was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin..."

The formal active essence of original sin was not removed from her soul, as it is removed from others bybaptism; it was excluded, it never was in her soul. Simultaneously with the exclusion of sin. The state of original sanctity, innocence, and justice, as opposed to original sin, was conferred upon her, by which gift every stain and fault, all depraved emotions, passions, and debilities, essentially pertaining to original sin, were excluded. But she was not made exempt from the temporal penalties of Adam — from sorrow, bodily infirmities, and death.

" a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race."

The immunity from original sin was given to Mary by a singular exemption from a universal law through the same merits of Christ, by which other men are cleansed from sin by baptismMary needed the redeeming Saviour to obtain this exemption, and to be delivered from the universal necessity and debt (debitum) of being subject to original sin. The person of Mary, in consequence of her origin from Adam, should have been subject to sin, but, being the new Eve who was to be the mother of the new Adam, she was, by the eternal counsel of God and by the merits of Christ, withdrawn from the general law of original sin. Her redemption was the very masterpiece of Christ's redeeming wisdom. He is a greater redeemer who pays the debt that it may not be incurred than he who pays after it has fallen on the debtor.
Such is the meaning of the term "Immaculate Conception."

Prayers, please

It is now less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit in my flat, but I can do nothing about it. My first electricity bill for one month was 278 Euros, which is 342 USD with only four hours of heat on. Pray for me as I feel the cold terribly. My hands and fingers are really cold as is the rest of me. I sleep in my down vest with two duvets and a two fleece throws over my head. I have no idea how the mosquitoes live in this climate. It is warmer in some places in Malta, but not here. Like St. Therese, the Little Flower, being cold is a great suffering for me. I do not generate heat for some reason. It will get down to 50 F this week.

Thanks for your prayers. I have not figured out how to type with gloves.....and these are exactly like my gloves.

From Rorate-Papal Interview

Answer to a reader...on vocations

To be called to the priesthood is not a call to a job, but to being Christ in the world. The alter Christus acts in the place of Christ at Mass, changing the wine and bread into the Body and Blood of Christ.

To become a worthy priest, one must not sin seriously. In fact, seminary training is a time when seminarians should avail themselves to the way of perfection.

We no longer need more bad priests.

If a young man has weaknesses in his soul concerning serious sins, he is most likely not a good candidate for the priesthood. Such sins as homosexual activity, masturbation, pornography and other serious sins which have become habitual have no place in the seminary atmosphere.  In fact, finding pornography on a seminarian's computer is grounds for dismissal in some seminaries.

The priesthood is not for everyone. Some young men need to live a life of holiness in the world. Some need to become more disciplined while in the world, or they will not be able to handle seminary life.

It is hard to be a good priest, and it is even harder to be a holy priest. But, the life of holiness does not start on the day of ordination. The route to holiness begins much earlier than that day.

I say to young men, that if they have habitual sexual sins, would they make a good husband and father? The answer is no. Same with the priesthood....

If one thinks one is being called to the priesthood, one must follow Christ seriously where one is before one enters the seminary. Same with marriage.....if you are not cooperating with God on holiness as a single person, you will not automatically be holy on your wedding day.

Wake Up, Parents

One subject which has come up again and again in conversation with Catholic parents is the problem of lapsed Catholic children.

Now, in my house growing up, and in my own house, the rule was this. If an adolescent or adult child expected financial help from the parents, the child would abide by the rules of the house.

As the rules of the house were based on the Ten Commandments, the child had to accept these.

Simple. While one is getting financial support from one or both parents, the child would be expected to not commit any serious sins on purpose, or to be living in sin.

No fornication, no skipping Mass on Sunday, no missing one's Easter Duty....

While a child, no matter what age, is under the roof and care of the parents, the parents are the authorities. 

Too many parents have given up teaching or demanding Catholic behavior while the young person lives under their roof and protection.

Wake up, Parents. God makes us responsible for our children as long as they are dependent on us. Once they are no longer dependent, our role can be relinquished to a certain extent. 

In fact, some priests have told me that it is a mortal sin for parents to interfere with the adult lives of their children who have left home and are married or established. The busy-body mother-in-law may very well be in serious sin for interfering in a marriage or the raising of children not her own. But, if the adult children are still dependent financially on the parents, that changes the scenario. 

Why the difference? Financial aid means that a parent is not only supporting that young person, but supporting the lifestyle. As a parent, can you honestly say that you support the live-in girlfriend, or homosexual partner, or the shunning of Sunday Mass? Sadly, I know parents who spend thousands a year on adult children who have left the Church. This does not make sense, and it means that the parents are mediate material cooperators of evil. There is also negative cooperation, which means one could have done something to stop an evil and did not. Withholding funds until someone changes for the good should be considered. 

I know of one man who gave up a life of crime and was destitute. He phoned his dad and he allowed him to come back home, but with rules. This man converted to Catholicism because of his dad's insistence that he pray and not follow his old evil ways. This happened many, many years ago, when parents understood their roles better. The dad knew his place as the authority over an adult child now back in his care. God blessed that use of authority.

We shall be judged on how we raised our children and if they are still at home, we are responsible for their bodies and their souls.

We cannot separate that responsibility. It is fake love to give financial help without giving spiritual guidance. And, if an adult child does not want to live by the house rules, it is time for that person to accept responsibility for their own decisions in life. Do we not call that "consequences"?

Parents who say they cannot force their children to go to Mass or not be promiscuous lie to themselves. They have the God-given authority to ask for obedience and expect it.

All of us have to be obedient to God. No one gets a pass. Not you, not me....

As parents and adults, we are in charge of our own house, our own space. When I had my own house, no one who was fornicating was allowed to do so in that house. If guests objected, I explained that they could sin elsewhere, but my house belonged to God and He has rules for all of us.

How is it that Catholics have become lax about sin in others, in themselves? This is why societies are literally crumbling about us. Few want to stand up to natural law, which is the same as the Ten Commandments.

Proverbs 22:6

Train children in the right way,
    and when old, they will not stray.

What about other guests?

FYI Pope Emeritus

A Fantastic Sermon

A courageous priest gave a superb homily this morning at the English Mass. Father Charlie Said focused on the reading concerning St. John the Baptist. And, like this prophet, Father noted that many of the Maltese were no longer focused on Christ. He called the congregation to repentance.

Bravo! He went on to list the stupid and intrusive laws of the socialist government which affect the Catholic schools as an example of growing tyranny. He listed that fact that a child in the school now has to brush his teeth if the school serves orange juice, immediately after drinking it, if bought in the tuck shop. And that flavored milks can no longer be served in the schools. Yet, immorality is becomes the law of the land. Details over trivia hide the loss of freedoms. He decried the lack of focus on the part of the Maltese.

He noted that in some places, a girl can get an abortion over a certain age, but marijuana is going to be made legal for young adults.

His point was that although the Maltese are rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, they are not rendering to God the things that are God's, including the religious education of their children.

The growth of large government is at the expense of personal freedoms. Father admitted that many of the Maltese are asleep, just as Catholics in America are asleep.

Unless, said Father, Christ is part of the social structure of a country, that country will not longer be Catholic. He related strongly that the basis for Maltese culture and peace, as well as prosperity has been Christianity. When Christianity goes, Malta will go.

He clearly said that when Christ is taken out of politics and daily life, the culture, and the civilization crumble.

As my readers know, I have been stating this since 2007. Those who vote only for monetary reasons and not for morality will find themselves without their culture. The only way out of greed and lust for power is Christ, is holiness.

Bravo Father for challenging those in the packed church to become holy again. Father called each person to repentance, to putting Christ first.

I hope it is not too late for Malta.

Perfection Series VIII Part XV The Intellect and Prayer

Twenty-three years ago in Sherborne, I had this set of dishes!
A holy man told me recently that it is easier for those who have trained the intellect to pray. Those who have had a classical education learned how to think. Most people react to stimuli and do not know how to think.

But, to make a connection between holiness and intellectual acumen was something I had not thought of to the extent that he did. I knew, of course, that the intellect and will were involved in finding and meeting God, but to say that those who actually are gifted in such have an easier time becoming holy, is another step of thought I had not taken.

Honestly, I was surprised by this, as we have been raised in a time where such saints as Gemma Galgani, Bernadette, and little ones like Jacinta have been held up as examples of the simplicity necessary for prayer.

But, what contemporary man has forgotten, is that even some of the so-called "simple" saints had either trained intellects from school and home, or infused knowledge from God.

St. Therese of Lisieux proves to be a case in point. Her education and training of the intellect aided her road to holiness. Most, if not all the priests canonized by St. John Paul II has superb theological studies, and even most of those saints who were martyred and canonized under both the Pope Emeritus and Pope Francis had catechetical training not seen in the West for forty years. In other words, these lay people had rigorous training of the faith.

Raissa's life is unusual because of the extraordinary intellectual gifts both her husband and she were given by God. They came out of that background and ministered to people, were friends with people, who were intellectuals.

That the intellect must be trained, unless a person has natural deficiencies, such as dear St. Joseph Cupertino, is a truism ignored by many Catholics. I partly blame the charismatics for emphasizing experience over intellect, making false oppositions to either prayer or grace, when there are none.

Those Catholics who are caught up in seers and visions do not understand that one must use one's intellect in order to discern truth and error. Discernment is a gift connected to the gifts of wisdom and knowledge we are all given in Confirmation. But, these gifts do no operate in an intellectual vacuum.

The Holy Spirit inspires a person to do things, to act, to pray, to meditate. If one thinks the Holy Spirit pushes one or takes over a person's freedom, one is actually falling into heresy. God inspires and we decide to do or not to do. We are not automatons.

Neither satan nor God takes away our free will and our intellect. This idea. of  "taking over", forms a dangerous paradigm in some lay people's minds. They do not understand that religious efforts as a combination of the intellect, the heart, the soul, the will. Much poor preaching from the pulpit seems to have taught people in the pew that emotions trump the intellect. It is the other way around.

All the gifts of the Holy Spirit inform the intellect. The virtues must be practiced with intellectual consent and awareness. To think that one is like a porridge bowl, completely passive, waiting to be filled from the stove, cannot be the Catholic paradigm for either grace or gifts.

Raissa writes something which I have repeated on this blog many times.

Pay attention!

She writes, Be attentive to divine impressions. Be attentive to all the movements of my heart.

Notice, this call to attention involves both the intellect and the heart. One is "attentive" in the mind. Then, one becomes attentive to the heart. Attention is an intellectual act.

One reason the Church is lacking in saints is that too many people chase after mushy feeling rather than real love. The Love of God takes decision, willing. As many of you who read this blog know, one of my repeated phrases is that "love is in the will".

And, to become a contemplative, takes discipline of the mind and the heart. Here is Raissa again:

Vocation of the contemplative. He must be still – cease all occupation. And see. See God in the eternal present. See him face to face, although under the veil of faith....The apostle has to live in the eternal future.

This seeing of God in the eternal present involves the intellect. The Dark Night of the Soul first cleanses the senses, then the spirit. And, the intellect rests in the spirit. Some saints are given infused knowledge, and at a certain stage, this infusion is to be expected. But, the training of the intellect, sadly neglected by our education systems and many parents, denies a person the way to God which is necessary. Simplicity is not stupidity. Simplicity is not "unthinking". 

Go back and read the posts on the imagination and how we must purify it over and over and over. This purification of memory, understanding and finally, that of the will, takes choice, decision, a honing of the intellect.

Our Church, as I wrote last week and right after the Synod, is not served by anti-intellectualism.

Raissa admits that she had to spend years in purifying the intellect. I understand this. As a poet and writer, God gave me the ability to use images and to be extremely observant in the world. In contemplative prayer, one must move away from images, which serve meditation, but not contemplation. This purification is part of my own Dark Night of the spirit. One cannot be silent before God with an over-active imagination, but only, only the intellect can deal with this, in grace and through grace.

Remember the posts on Thomas Merton's brilliant insight into the evil of television?  Without a strong intellect, one cannot properly deal with the bombardment of images, good or bad, in this hyperactive world. Even to get on the bus in order to attend daily Mass and Adoration demands a working of the mind not to become involved with images and people. But, this I must do. And, Raissa managed this balancing act. I pray for the grace to do this.

to be continued...