Sunday, 25 October 2020

Christ the King.

  The feast of Christ the King is marked by a Gospel which draws not from some glorious account of His resurrection or triumph, but from passages on His passion. St. John’s Gospel recounts part of the dialogue between Pilate and Christ.

“Pilate therefore went into the hall again, and called Jesus, and said to him: Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus answered: Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or have others told it thee of me? Pilate answered: Am I a Jew? Thy own nation, and the chief priests, have delivered thee up to me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence. Pilate therefore said to him: Art thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice”.

Why is this the Gospel chosen for the glorious feast of Christ the King, when one is more naturally led to think of His majestic rule? The answer has already been mentioned on this blog, when shortly after Easter Sunday we meditated on how Easter can only be understood through the cross. Just as Easter only makes sense when we dwell upon the passion and death which occurred a few days earlier, so also the Kingship of Christ only makes sense when one again thinks of the cross. 

One crucial point to draw from today’s texts is that even when beset on every side by the forces of the world and the demons, even within the Church, Christ reigns as King, Victor and Saviour. For even on the cross, when His enemies were rejoicing in having crucified the Messiah, Christ remained King and Saviour. There was no throne of marble, but of wood, no crown of gold but of thorns instead. Yet, despite the promptings of the devil and the works of evil men, His enemies remained unable to overthrow the Heavenly King, for it was through the most selfless act of love that He effected salvation and enacted the greatest victory.

This thought must serve to give us hope in days when Christ and His Church are attacked from all sides, without and within. True, there is currently no establishment of Christ as King in the world, with the whole of society looking to Him, yet it is up to the members of the Mystical Body to bring about this change. Led by His captains, the hierarchy of the Church, faithful Catholics can and must work to bring about societal change, so that the Kingship of Christ can once again be established in the world. 

At present, the devil seeks to discourage any form of resistance to his work of corruption. With sin and error taught, even by the Vicar of Rome, it can seem pointless to follow Christ the King. Yet this is precisely what satan wishes - for good, faithful souls to lose their courage and hope, to throw down their weapons and sink into the sinful milieu which grows ever more pervasive. For every soul who decides to stop fighting, the devil rejoices and that soul contributes to the sorrow which Christ endured on the cross.

In contrast then, Catholics must look to the cross to guide us to the establishment of the Kingdom of Christ. The cross brings life and salvation. It is the sign of victory over sin and death and from its shadow the devil fleas in terror. The world rejects and scorns the cross, unable to comprehend the message of life which is found by clinging to it. But for Catholics, the cross is the very means by which we can move society so that Christ is hailed as King once more. 

To this end then, we must not shy away from the spiritual battle that is so clearly before us, but with renewed courage, venture forth, firmly adhering to tradition and doctrine and teaching the faith unashamedly. With the cross as the standard and Christ as our King, there is no power that can stand before Him who conquers death itself. Even though each day brings fiercer battles than before, if we fix our eye on the cross, then we see only the prize and care not for the trials which we must overcome. 

This is the mystery of Christ’s Kingship, this intrinsic link to the cross. In days gone by, when the world paid proper homage to God as Creator, the spirit of the cross was truly present. Saints, scholars, theologians, monasteries and saintly families sprung up and blossomed, all from keeping close to the cross. St. Louis de Montfort talks of the Royal Road of the Cross - he calls those who keep to this way, crusaders on the battlefield, who refuse to give even an inch to the foe before them. 

“Evil spirits are united to destroy you; you must be united to crush them. The avaricious are united to make money and amass gold and silver; you must consume your efforts to acquire the eternal treasure hidden in the Cross. Pleasure seekers unite to enjoy themselves; you must be united to suffer”. So teaches St. Louis de Montfort. He is aware that such a road is not easy, and requires an abnegation of spirit in the face of so much temptation. But one who devotes himself to the cross, who becomes a Friend of the Cross, “is one chose by God, from among thousands who live only according to their reason and senses, to be wholly divine, raised above mere reason and completely opposed to material things, living in the light of pure faith, and inspired by a deep love of the Cross”.

The devil can never hope to even come near to overcoming Christ the King, precisely because he cannot bear the thought of that sacred wood. Even though he might have his most devoted followers in every exalted position, advocating the greatest moral depravities in every country on earth, still he cannot even come close to the glory of Christ the King, since he despises the cross.

As a close, we shall turn to the words of Pope Pius XI, taken from his encyclical Quas Primas, by which he established the great feast which we celebrate today. The pontiff explains the true nature of the Kingship of Christ and of His realm.

“Let Us explain briefly the nature and meaning of this lordship of Christ. It consists, We need scarcely say, in a threefold power which is essential to lordship. This is sufficiently clear from the scriptural testimony already adduced concerning the universal dominion of our Redeemer, and moreover it is a dogma of faith that Jesus Christ was given to man, not only as our Redeemer, but also as a law-giver, to whom obedience is due.”

“This kingdom is spiritual and is concerned with spiritual things. That this is so the above quotations from Scripture amply prove, and Christ by his own action confirms it. On many occasions, when the Jews and even the Apostles wrongly supposed that the Messiah would restore the liberties and the kingdom of Israel, he repelled and denied such a suggestion. When the populace thronged around him in admiration and would have acclaimed him King, he shrank from the honour and sought safety in flight. Before the Roman magistrate he declared that his kingdom was not of this world.”

“The gospels present this kingdom as one which men prepare to enter by penance, and cannot actually enter except by faith and by baptism, which, though an external rite, signifies and produces an interior regeneration. This kingdom is opposed to none other than to that of Satan and to the power of darkness. It demands of its subjects a spirit of detachment from riches and earthly things, and a spirit of gentleness. They must hunger and thirst after justice, and more than this, they must deny themselves and carry the cross.”  

“Christ as our Redeemer purchased the Church at the price of his own blood; as priest he offered himself, and continues to offer himself as a victim for our sins. Is it not evident, then, that his kingly dignity partakes in a manner of both these offices?”

“When we pay honour to the princely dignity of Christ, men will doubtless be reminded that the Church, founded by Christ as a perfect society, has a natural and inalienable right to perfect freedom and immunity from the power of the state; and that in fulfilling the task committed to her by God of teaching, ruling, and guiding to eternal bliss those who belong to the kingdom of Christ, she cannot be subject to any external power. The State is bound to extend similar freedom to the orders and communities of religious of either sex, who give most valuable help to the Bishops of the Church by labouring for the extension and the establishment of the kingdom of Christ. By their sacred vows they fight against the threefold concupiscence of the world; by making profession of a more perfect life they render the holiness which her divine Founder willed should be a mark and characteristic of his Church more striking and more conspicuous in the eyes of all.”

“If We ordain that the whole Catholic world shall revere Christ as King, We shall minister to the need of the present day, and at the same time provide an excellent remedy for the plague which now infects society. We refer to the plague of anti-clericalism, its errors and impious activities. This evil spirit, as you are well aware, Venerable Brethren, has not come into being in one day; it has long lurked beneath the surface. The empire of Christ over all nations was rejected. The right which the Church has from Christ himself, to teach mankind, to make laws, to govern peoples in all that pertains to their eternal salvation, that right was denied. Then gradually the religion of Christ came to be likened to false religions and to be placed ignominiously on the same level with them.”

“We firmly hope, however, that the feast of the Kingship of Christ, which in future will be yearly observed, may hasten the return of society to our loving Savior. It would be the duty of Catholics to do all they can to bring about this happy result. Many of these, however, have neither the station in society nor the authority which should belong to those who bear the torch of truth. This state of things may perhaps be attributed to a certain slowness and timidity in good people, who are reluctant to engage in conflict or oppose but a weak resistance; thus the enemies of the Church become bolder in their attacks. But if the faithful were generally to understand that it behooves them ever to fight courageously under the banner of Christ their King, then, fired with apostolic zeal, they would strive to win over to their Lord those hearts that are bitter and estranged from him, and would valiantly defend his rights.”

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Be ye wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.


St. Pauls’ Epistle for the 20th Sunday after Pentecost, offers some timely advice to the faithful. “See therefore, brethren, how you walk circumspectly: not as unwise, but as wise: redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” 

It has long been the advice of the saints, that one should always be wary of becoming complacent, and instead strive to use each day wisely in the pursuit of virtue. But Dom Gueranger offers a commentary on this Epistle, in which he highlights the urgency of the times when “the days are evil”.

The good abbott writes thus: “As the nuptials of the Son of God approach their final completion, there will be also, on the side of hell, a redoubling of rage against the Bride, with a determination to destroy her. The dragon of the Apocalypse, (Apocalypse 12:9) the old serpent who seduced Eve, will vomit his vile foam, as a river, from his mouth (Apocalypse 12:15) —that is, he will urge on all the passions of man, that they may league together for her ruin. But do what he will, he can never weaken the bond of the eternal alliance; and having no power against the Church herself, he will turn his fury against the last children of the new Eve, who will have the perilous honour of those final battles, which are described by the Prophet of Patmos. (Apocalypse 12:17)”.

With these words Gueranger depicts the days of evil: a time wherein the demonic legions increase their activity in a desperate attempt to destroy the last remnants of Christian civilisation and the faith itself. The ancient serpent, who urges on the passions of man, will redouble his efforts in order that he might tempt numerous souls into damnation with him. 

It has often been said by saints and popes of prior days, that there has been no evil like that which was extant at the time. But, at the risk of repetition of the phrase, it is even more true to say this today. The world is overcome by a host of moral issues, which whilst condemned but a few generations ago, are now permitted and promoted. Same-sex ‘marriage’ is legalised in much of Western Civilisation, and any attempt to teach the truth regarding marriage is swiftly outlawed. Children, even up to the age of twelve, are now being killed off by the state. Abortion, the most egregious attack upon the sanctity of life, is deemed a human right and consequently over 42 million  abortions took place worldwide - last year alone.

Add to this, the sudden and almost unchallenged spread of communism throughout most of the world, which has occurred over the past few months. Governments have become supposedly full of care for the preservation of life, and thus justify the deprivation of individual liberties, as well as stamping on the autonomy of the Church. With the utmost disregard for law, human dignity, rights or liberty, outrageous measures are imposed upon the majority of the world’s population. Let us never forget that governments impose these measures ‘to save lives; to stop the spread of the virus’ and yet happily allow millions of innocent babies to be murdered every year: they permit the legalisation of the most perverse moral behaviour: they sanction those who stand up for truth, traditional marriage, for the sanctity of life and for basic moral values. 

Indeed, let us not be deceived by these governments’ supposed concern for our lives, as they attempt to turn countries into prisons, destroy livelihoods, police the streets to ensure that no-one gets too close to another human being, or expresses an opinion contrary to the state-permitted norm, and forbid family and social gatherings. Irrational and ineffective lockdowns are employed, transforming once supposed free countries into communist lookalikes. 

The powerful few trample the rights of the Church without question and reduce man to a near animal state, bereft of communal and liturgical life. They order the churches closed and with the lack of faithful pastors to defend Her, the Church bows down and closes the doors to Her faithful, whilst welcoming infidels inside.

The Church, the Bride of Christ and the guardian of faith and morals, has become populated by those who seek to serve anyone but God. Idols are placed in the See of Peter, clergy abandon their calling and turn to moral perversion, dogma and doctrine is almost everywhere abandoned. In place of light, there is darkness and confusion; instead of a growth in faith, there is found heresy and atheism instead. 

Instead of conforming the world to the Church, She is being made to conform to the world. Prominent members of the hierarchy still faithful to their vocation have read the signs of the times and issued a stark warning that the world truly is in a state of chaos and corruption - in days of evil as taught by St. Paul. 

To what end are these signs of the evil of the times thus listed? Firstly, it is to become aware of them, for the voices of the world will not present their evil doings until it is too late to protest. Faithful Catholics have a duty to make themselves aware of all that is happening around them, because in truth - there has never been a more crucial time. Bishop Schneider recently warned that the use of the cells of aborted babies in COVID-19 vaccines was for the purpose of legalising abortion globally, “so that the entire planet will be collaborating in the process of killing babies through the vaccine which will use parts of aborted babies”. He further warned that such an event would be “the last step of Satanism: that Satan and the world government – ultimately the masonic world government – will oblige all, even the Church, to accept abortion in this way. And therefore we must resist very strongly against this, if it comes. We must even accept to be martyrs”.

Is this not something terrifying but also necessary to hear, when a prominent bishop calls on faithful Catholics to prepare to be martyrs, rather than to submit to the revolution which is currently taking place in the world! Thus it is vitally important to become aware of the evil that is surrounding us on all sides, in order that we might take action against it.

But, even more importantly, we must know these things in order that we can have recourse to God, who alone can deliver His people from the hands of the satanic hordes. Here we must turn to Dom Gueranger once again, who provides a startlingly apt meditation for these times:

“It is then more than at all previous times that the Faithful will have to remember the injunction given to us by the Apostle in today’s Epistle; that is, they will have to comport themselves with that circumspection which he enjoins, taking every possible care to keep their understanding, no less than their heart, pure in those evil days. Supernatural light will, in those days, not only have to stand the attacks of the children of darkness, who will put forward their false doctrines; it will, moreover, be minimized and falsified by the very children of the light yielding on the question of principles; it will be endangered by the hesitations and trimmings and human prudence of those who are called far-seeing men”.

Gueranger mentions the remedy for the corruption of the world: “There is a remedy for all this, and only one—it is the zeal of the pastors, and the prayers of that portion of Christ’s flock, which has withstood the torrent of universal corruption. But it is of the utmost important that, on this point, the Faithful and their Pastors should lay aside all personal considerations and thoroughly enter into the spirit which animates the Church herself. Though treated with the most revolting ingratitude and injustice and calumny and treachery of every sort, this Mother of mankind forgets all these her own wrongs, and thinks only of the true prosperity and salvation of the very countries which despise her. She is well aware that the time is at hand when God will make justice triumphant; and yet she goes on struggling, as Jacob did, with God, (Genesis 32:24-28) until there come the dawn of that terrible day, foretold by David and the sibyl…”

“But that our prayer may have power of that kind, it must be inspired by a faith which is thorough, and proof against every difficulty. As it is our faith which overcometh the world, (1 John 5:4) so it is likewise our faith which triumphs over God, even in cases which seem beyond all human hope”.

Action must always be taken against the principalities and powers of this world, but most important in such a response is the steadfast clinging to the faith and a renewed recourse to prayer. St. Paul teaches this vital truth: “I can do all these things in him who strengtheneth me”. (Phil 4:13) We must take the words of today’s Epistle to heart and make good use of the time which we have left, being “wise” and “redeeming the time, because the days are evil”. 

Let us then strengthen ourselves and make better use of the spiritual weapons which Christ and His Blessed Mother have given us, since the crisis before our eyes is ultimately a warfare of a spiritual nature.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

The Divine Maternity.

    Whilst not commemorated in the Mass, today marks the ancient feast of the Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pope Pius XI extended the feast to the universal Church in 1931, after it was originally celebrated chiefly in Portugal. Having a time devoted to commemorate the Motherhood of Mary in this part of the year, as apposed to the new date of the 1st of  January, allows one to more fully dwell on the feast without the distractions of Christmas. 

The Divine Maternity of Mary is the chief title under which we have recourse to her, and it is on account of this truth that all others can be understood. It is of course the first of four Marian dogmas which have so far been declared by the Church. The Council of Ephesus established the title of Mother of God in 431. This title is essential not only to understanding Mary, but also to understanding Christ. Due to being the Mother of God, we thus proclaim the other three Marian dogmas, her perpetual virginity, her Immaculate Conception and her Assumption.

What then can be said about the Divine Maternity? Firstly it must be noted that being the Mother of God was the highest honour bestowed to Mary. It is by virtue and necessity of this title that she is the Mediatrix of graces and the Co-Redemptrix of the human race. Pere Neubert notes that “Mary was created only in order to become the Mother of God”.(1) Her life was centred upon the fulfilment of this direct call from God, and every action was ordered to the perfection of her Divine Maternity. As a result therefore, whilst praying to Mary under various titles, it is important to pray to her especially under the title of Mother of God. 

Whilst this title and this maternity is so great a privilege, it can be easy sometimes to lose sight of the fundamental aspect of Mary’s role as Mother of God. Yet just like any mother, the Divine Maternity is chiefly a role of love. To think on Mary without thinking on her love is to divorce her from the greatest virtue which moved her throughout her life - love of God.

The Divine Maternity is thus a life of love given in service to God first. From the very moment of the Annunciation, when Mary unconditionally united her will to God’s and offered a fiat of loving acceptance, her life was marked by this exceptional perfection of love of God. In that moment when she was presented with the greatest privilege of all, Mary’s heart was full simply of humility and love. The saints and Mariologists through the ages teach that at the moment of the Annunciation, Mary was aware of the entirety of the sacrifice that the Divine Maternity would involve. She knew the awful pain of the seven sorrows which she would endure, the agony and death of her Son, which she would be intimately united with, and yet her only response was loving unison to the Divine Will. 

In this manner we can see that Mary’s life is marked above all by a perfect love of God. Her love is not merely submissive, acquiescing to all that is asked of her. Rather, she sees the will of God and makes His will her own, longing for all that He desires, precisely because His Will is perfection itself. 

We can also contemplate the Divine Maternity as a life of love poured out in joint sacrifice with Christ. In dwelling upon the seven dolours, one notes that Mary’s life is marked by sorrow, but a joyful sorrow, since she is performing all that God asks of her and is doing so for the salvation of souls. But most especially, her Divine Maternity is demonstrated in the role she played on Calvary as Co-Redemptrix. Her role as Mother of God necessitates that she be thus united with Christ at this crucial moment. To do otherwise would be to abandon her Son in His hours of suffering and this is something which the perfect mother could not do. Consequently, not only does she unite herself to Christ in His passion and death, but she sacrifices her own will and actively wills for the completion of His passion, since she knows it is the means by which souls will be saved. 

Mary’s role as Mother of God would not be complete however, if it did not entail becoming a mother in the spiritual order to all those who believe in Christ. From the wood of the cross, Christ gave His mother to us with the words, “Woman behold thy son…Behold thy mother”. (John 19:26) As mother of Christ she ardently desires to bring all souls to know and love Him, so that they might share in the Divine intimacy which it is her joy and honour to possess. As such, her heart is full of love not merely for her Divine Son, but for all her faithful children who wish to follow Christ. We are children of God and are given to the special custodianship of Mary. It is under her mantle of protection that souls will find the safest and surest path to heaven. St. Louis de Montfort writes that “she is the sure means, the direct and immaculate way to Jesus and the perfect guide to him, it is through her that souls who are to shine forth in sanctity must find him”. 

It is through Mary the Mother of God that we are given all graces, all supernatural life. Christ won life through His passion and death: Mary was intimately associated with this so as to earn the title Co-Redemptrix. Christ then pours out graces through the most perfect of vessels - His mother. Thus it is Mary who leads us to supernatural life after having given Life itself to the world. She is the ideal mother of Christ and of her children here below, since she is desirous only of the glorification of her Son and the sanctification of her many children. 

In this manner therefore, we can contemplate the Divine Maternity, as a title in which the entire wealth of Marian truths are contained. By paying attention to this feast, one is able to thus return to a devotion towards the Blessed Mother under the title of Mother of God, for this out of all others, is most perfect and beautiful.

1: Pere Neubert, Mary in Doctrine, (Milwaukee, Bruce Publishing Company, 1954), 17.

Sunday, 4 October 2020

18th Sunday after Pentecost - True Faith.

“Why do you think evil in your hearts? Whether is easier to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee: or to say, Arise and walk?” With these words, the scribes are rebuked by Christ in St. Matthew’s Gospel. The Saviour utters these words in response to their incredulity and scorn when He forgives the sick man’s sins. ‘Nay,’ they have murmured, ‘who can forgive sins? Who does this man think he is? What foolishness this is.’ But in order so that even their hardened hearts might be touched, Christ then performs a more visible sign, curing the man of his physical ailments. 

The question which He poses to the scornful scribes is one which tests their faith. They are confronted with the supernatural power of God, healing both physical and, more importantly, spiritual ailments. Yet in the face of God Incarnate performing such wonders, they still state “He blasphemeth”. Is it not ironic, that they had waited so long for the Messiah to come and deliver them, yet when He stood before them and delivered souls from sins, they recognised Him not? How then is it, that the scribes could not see what was before them when the multitude went away glorifying God? It is a question of faith. 

Throughout the Gospels, it is chiefly the pharisees, scribes and the chief priests who are the enemies of Christ: those who had positions of authority and leadership. Their knowledge of Scripture and the Law was far greater than the majority of those who flocked to Christ, yet despite this knowledge they could not, or would not, acknowledge Truth Incarnate. Is it simple ignorance, or a pure and holy, but overly zealous concern for the Law? Or perhaps, it is pride and a disinclination to recognise God when He came before them? It is ultimately a lack of faith. Such a response to God is so familiar, both personally and in the world generally.

The challenge which Christ presents is one which pertains to the level of our faith. Just as He questions the faith of the scribes who rejected His ability to forgive sins, so the same question is posed to the members of the Church today - do we still believe in God? Do we believe in sin, in the forgiveness of sins and in the primacy of truth? For if we do, then such a radical and entirely correct belief must have a transformative effect upon our lives. Catholics must be known for having the faith of the Scriptures, which knows no surprise when sins are forgiven, since such a soul has an ardent faith in an omnipotent and perfect God. To God nothing is impossible, and so it is not surprising that He should have the power to forgive sins. 

Of course this Gospel most evidently pertains to the sacrament of confession, a topic which was covered on this site a few weeks ago. However, it can also be examined in another manner, with the theological virtue of faith as the subject of the meditation. Because far more fundamental than the question of God being able to forgive sins, is the question of believing in God Himself. Do we believe in God? This is the question which underlies that which Christ posed to the scribes and is that which one must ask oneself every day. For once we say yes, and we surely must say yes, we are faced with the subsequent question. How does our belief in God affect our life? If our belief is like the scribes, a philosophical belief but not a lively and active belief, then there lies a problem! 

For the scribes did believe in God, but could not live this faith and were thus unable to see Him before them. Their belief in God did not translate into a life full of virtue and seeking to do His will. It is so easy to fall into such a practice today, when we believe in God, (indeed we protest ‘of course we believe’) but do not put this belief into action of any sorts. For true faith is not just acknowledgment of, but rather a love of the Truth. True faith necessitates a response back to God. The faithful soul is thus described by St. Paul thus in the Epistle, “That in all things you are made rich in Him…so that nothing is wanting to you in any grace, waiting for the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ”. 

Such is the manner in which faith affects a soul. The saints repeatedly mention that in the moment of temptation, if one could only recall the great love of God for us and the sufferings He has endured, then we would not dare to offend Him by sinning. This is faith in action! At the time of temptation the devil seeks to dim our active profession of faith in God, because if we truly pondered the majesty and beauty of Him who we believe in, then sin could have no attraction. 

It is in this manner that the Gospel questions our faith. It is as if Christ, instead of admonishing the scribes, looks directly at each of us to say: ‘Do you believe in Me? Why then do you not order your lives accordingly? How can it be that you profess belief in Me and yet are afraid to declare it or undertake the sacrifices which true faith and charity demand?’ 

In many ways, this loving rebuke from our Redeemer is far more terrible than that which was directed to the scribes. We have received Baptism, Confession, Confirmation and countless Holy Communions and yet remain unable to act in a manner which is consistent with true faith. How many times do our actions more resemble a rejection of God instead of a firm faith in Him? Personally I know this is so. Indeed, how many times do the actions of those around us, even the clergy and the hierarchy of the Church, seem to demonstrate a lack of true belief and faith in God? 

Perhaps this monumental crisis of faith, even amongst those who have received many sacramental graces, is one great cause for the many evils of the current age. The Church of God has drastically and so prolifically turned away from Him. Her pews have been filled with abominations of pagan worship, scandals of morality and faithful defenders of the truth have been persecuted. ‘Ah, but you are too rigid’ cry the modernists, ‘of course we believe in God, for are we not Catholics?!’. And yet, the fruits of those very same people demonstrates an effective lack of belief in He who died on the cross to save us. They lead so many souls along with them into a darkness of effective atheism.

Rightly so does Archbishop Vigano state that the only way to escape this crisis is “to recognize the deviation from the right path, retrace the path taken and take the path that Our Lord marked with His Blood: the way of Calvary, of the Cross, of the Passion”. (1) As with all in the spiritual life, the most perfect answer is found in the cross, for here is where true faith is proven. Thus the Gospel calls us to a more lively and perfect profession of faith, so that we might be “made rich in him, in all utterance and in all knowledge” according to the words of St. Paul’s epistle. The current times call for radical action - our faith must necessarily be marked by a radical nature, not by softness or lip service. True faith demands a conversion of life to God.

1:  Archbishop Vigano, Statement regarding the dismissal of Cardinal Becciu. 2/10/2020/ 

Saturday, 3 October 2020

St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus - the great teacher of oblation to God.

 The 3rd of October is the day upon which the Church traditionally celebrates the feast of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. Her name needs no introduction, for she has swiftly become one of the most loved and celebrated saints of recent times. Numerous books and articles have been written on her life and on the famous ‘little way’ that she practiced. Statues of the ‘Little Flower’ will likely be found in most Catholic churches, and in these depictions she is rightly portrayed holding the crucifix. 

In many ways, however, the general perception of this great saint is very unsatisfactory, for she is too often depicted as a saint who focused on sweetness above all. Based on pictures and writings about her, one might easily imagine her as a soft and gentle soul, but not a radical soul at all. Certainly, St. Thérèse was gentle in the sense of her demeanour, for she is not known for violent outbursts. However in the spiritual life she was extremely ferocious and on fire with passionate love of God. Her desire to give her life entirely to Him is clear from the very early age at which she wished to enter the Carmel. Christ on the cross was the central point of St. Thérèse’s life; she so ardently desired to join Our Lord upon the cross in suffering, that she offered herself as a victim of love to Him. 

Her ‘little way’, by which she offered each and every action to God as a humble gift, is nothing less than a consecration of one’s entire life to His service. It is a spiritual childhood, whereby one does not seek to perform bold and grand actions, but contents oneself with offering to Him the daily actions of normal life. The ‘little way’ is a path for the souls of those who have the firm desires of children - full of enthusiasm for God, and desiring the virtuous life. As such, it is a spiritual life in which God in constantly in mind: a life where one is aware of his inability to perform great sacrifices, and so offers many little ones: a life whereby a soul wishes to model himself after the Christ Child in innocence and perfection. 

In order to live such a life, one must needs be firm, since the devil cannot abide a life so devoted to the One he hates. There is a continuity and perseverance in virtue when in the practice of the ‘little way’, which requires a regular glance towards God asking for His intercession. By learning more about the truth of the ‘little way’, we begin thus to see the real St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus - not simply a gentle soul who very piously lived the religious life, but a soul who constantly sought to give her every action, her every moment, her every desire, to the Spouse whom she loved with such purity and fire. Her heart was so overflowing with love for Christ that she was not content unless she gave every moment of her life to Him. In this manner, one might readily say that the ‘little way’ is in a sense a ‘great way’, since it is a dedication of the whole of oneself and one’s life to the Redeemer. 

The initial and wonderful attraction of the ‘little way’ is that it seems manageable for so many souls, who might otherwise be put off by more stringent practices of mortifications. (That is not to disparage the practice of mortification, but merely to suggest the manner in which the ‘little way’ draws souls). In practicing the ‘little way’ of St. Thérèse, one might start with something as simple as making more frequent pious acts throughout the day, perhaps regular aspirations, brief prayers whenever one passes a crucifix etc. Soon, in the manner of St. Thérèse, one finds that he is constantly drawing his mind towards God, never allowing himself to stray far from the thought of the Divine. With these simply practices, a whole day can be dedicated to God and the way of spiritual childhood is thus begun.

However, to fully understand the true spirit of the ‘little way’, let us take examine the act of oblation which St. Thérèse made to Christ, her beloved Spouse. It serves as the clearest insight into her spirituality as well as demonstrating the radical fire for love of God which she possessed.

Offering of myself as a Victim of Holocaust to God’s Merciful Love.

O My God! Most Blessed Trinity, I desire to Love You and make you Loved, to work for the glory of Holy Church by saving souls on earth and liberating those suffering in purgatory. I desire to accomplish Your will perfectly and to reach the degree of glory You have prepared for me in Your Kingdom. I desire, in a word, to be saint, but I feel my helplessness and I beg You, O my God! to be Yourself my Sanctity!

Since You loved me so much as to give me Your only Son as my Saviour and my Spouse, the infinite treasures of His merits are mine. I offer them to You with gladness, begging You to look upon me only in the Face of Jesus and in His heart burning with Love.

I offer You, too, all the merits of the saints (in heaven and on earth), their acts of Love, and those of the holy angels. Finally, I offer You, O Blessed Trinity! the Love and merits of the Blessed Virgin, my Dear Mother. It is to her I abandon my offering, begging her to present it to You. Her Divine Son, my Beloved Spouse, told us in the says of His mortal life: "Whatsoever you ask the Father in my name he will give it to you!" I am certain, then, that You will grant my desires; I know, O my God! that the more You want to give, the more You make us desire. I feel in my heart immense desires and it is with confidence I ask You to come and take possession of my soul. Ah! I cannot receive Holy Communion as often as I desire, but, Lord, are You not all-powerful? Remain in me as in a tabernacle and never separate Yourself from Your little victim.

I want to console You for the ingratitude of the wicked, and I beg of you to take away my freedom to displease You. If through weakness I sometimes fall, may Your Divine Glance cleanse my soul immediately, consuming all my imperfections like the fire that transforms everything into itself.

I thank You, O my God! for all the graces You have granted me, especially the grace of making me pass through the crucible of suffering. It is with joy I shall contemplate You on the Last Day carrying the sceptre of Your Cross. Since You deigned to give me a share in this very precious Cross, I hope in heaven to resemble You and to see shining in my glorified body the sacred stigmata of Your Passion.

After earth’s Exile, I hope to go and enjoy You in the Fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for Your Love alone with the one purpose of pleasing You, consoling Your Sacred Heart, and saving souls who will love You eternally.

In the evening of this life, I shall appear before You with empty hands, for I do not ask You, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is stained in Your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in Your own Justice and to receive from Your Love the eternal possession of Yourself. I want no other Throne, no other Crown but You, my Beloved!

Time is nothing in Your eyes, and a single day is like a thousand years. You can, then, in one instant prepare me to appear before You.

In order to live in one single act of perfect Love, I OFFER MYSELF AS A VICTIM OF HOLOCAUST TO YOUR MERCIFUL LOVE, Asking You to consume me incessantly, allowing the waves of infinite tenderness shut up within You to overflow into my soul, and that thus I may become a martyr of Your Love, O my God!

May this martyrdom, after having prepared me to appear before You, finally cause me to die and may my soul take its flight without any delay into the eternal embrace of Your Merciful Love.

I want, O my Beloved, at each beat of my heart to renew this offering to You an infinite number of times, until the shadows having disappeared I may be able to tell You of my Love in an Eternal Face to Face!

Marie, Françoise, Thérèse of the Child Jesus

and the Holy Face, unworthy Carmelite religious.

This 9th day of June,

Feast of the Most Holy Trinity,

In the year of grace, 1895”.

Thus ends this most beautiful prayer of the Little Flower of the Child Jesus. May the frequent recitation of these powerful lines fill faithful souls with the immensity of love of God which this glorious saint possessed. 

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

 Apologies to regular readers of this blog, who will notice the absence of a post this morning, as a result of needing time away from the sc...