Monday 28 January 2019

The Dangers of an Active Life without an Interior Life: Part Thirteen

The good Dom Chautard explains the full damage of allowing the imagination to run wild has on the interior life: 
The disorder pursues its course. From the mind and the imagination it gets down into the affections. The heart is filled with nothing but will-o’-the-wisps. What is going to become of this dissipated heart, scarcely concerned anymore with the Kingdom of God within itself? It has become insensible to the joys of intimacy with Christ, to the marvelous poetry of the Mysteries, to the severe beauty of the Liturgy, to the appeals and attractions of God in the Blessed Eucharist. It is, in a word, insensible to the influences of the supernatural world. What will become of it? Shall it concentrate upon itself? Suicide! No. It must have affection. No longer finding happiness in God, it will love creatures. It is at the mercy of the first occasion for such love. It flings itself without prudence or control into the breach, without a care perhaps even for the most sacred of vows, nor for the highest interests of the Church, nor even for its own reputation. Let us suppose that such a heart would still be upset by the thought of apostasy—and profoundly so. But still, it feels far less fear at the thought of scandalizing souls. Thanks be to God, it is doubtless the exception for anyone to follow this course to the very limit. But is there anyone incapable of seeing that this getting tired of God, and accepting forbidden pleasures, can drag the heart down to the worst of disasters? Starting from the fact that “the sensual man perceiveth not the things that are of the Spirit of God,” 1!l we must necessarily end up with: “He who was reared in the purple has embraced dung.” 20 Obstinate clinging to illusion, blindness of mind, hardness of heart all follow one another in progressive stages. We can expect anything. To crown his misfortunes, the will is now found to be, though not destroyed, reduced to’ such a state of weakness and flabbiness that it is practically impotent. Do not ask him to fight back with vigor; that would make a simple effort, and all you will get will be the despairing answer, “I can’t.” Now a man who is no longer capable of making any effort, at this stage, is on the way to dreadful calamities.  
In short, when one allows the imagination to run wild and subsequently throw themselves onto the love of creatures (as one cannot concentrate solely on themselves) for affection, they become a flurry of activity. They get caught up in how to attain this and that person's affection ... it is almost as if they live or die by the breath of others ... and will do anything to keep that person's affection.

This is not to say one cannot have affections for others or otherwise enjoy close friendships. It is only when we concern ourselves solely with these loves of creatures that it becomes a problem ... an easy problem to fall into.

What happens to the soul when this is its prime concern? Well, while the soul is immortal, it has a finite capacity, created as it was to live inside a finite container. It gets tired. "Reduced to a state of weakness and flabbiness that it is practically impotent," as it were. It is no longer able to perform any good works at all, so worn down with performing good works that it is unable to keep at them.

Only when a soul maintains a relationship with God - through the interior life - is it able to stay the course and remember why it is doing these good works in the first place.

Friends, have we allowed love of creatures and affections to overshadow the love due to God?

Friday 25 January 2019


This was painted by Edmund Blair Leighton in 1917, and is titled simply, "Maternity."

There is more than one way to be a mother.

The Dangers of an Active Life without an Interior Life: Part Twelve

Dom Chautard continues with his description of the total horrors of what awaits a soul if it does not take the olive branch - so to speak - from Our Lord standing at the door:
Now, let us go further and penetrate even into the depths of this soul whose features we are sketching. Thoughts play a most important part in the supernatural, as well as in the moral and intellectual life. Now what are the thoughts that occupy this man, and what direction do they take? Human, earthly, vain, superficial, and egotistical, they converge more and more upon self or upon creatures, and that, sometimes, with every appearance of devotion to duty and of sacrifice. This disorder in the mind brings with it a corresponding unruliness in the imagination. Of all our powers, this one is the most in need of being repressed at this stage. And yet it never even occurs to him to put on the brakes! Therefore, having free rein, it runs wild. No exaggeration, no madness, is too much for it. And the progressive suppression of all mortification of the eyes soon gives this crazy tenant of his soul opportunities to forage wherever it wills, in lush pastures!
As Dom Chautard said earlier, "Everything links up. Deep calls to deep." Or, as Holy Mother Church has solemnly repeated throughout the ages, "How we pray affects how we believe and how we live." 

Defects in one's prayer life has detrimental effects on how a person thinks. Indeed, it creates a disorder that spreads into other aspects of one's prayer life, as Dom Chautard has illustrated elsewhere.

Friends, have we allowed proud, vain, superficial and egotistical thoughts (admittedly hard to separate from one another) to invade our prayer life? Have we let our imagination run wild with what we think we are capable of doing - to the point where our planned actions and ideas are unattainable simply because of the height they are at?

Dom Chautard's last sentence here seem to refer to the consumption of knowledge that a soul has no right to know - "suppression of all mortification of the eyes" and "forag[ing] ... in lush pastures" - and this in turn feeds the imagination to assume such lofty heights and thus despoil otherwise lush pastures. It is a firm warning if that is what it means.

If anyone has another interpretation of the last sentence, suggestions are welcome in the combox.

Thursday 24 January 2019

The Dangers of an Active Life without an Interior Life: Part Eleven

Dom Chautard's notes on "The Active Worker with no Interior Life" is coming to its conclusion. Yesterday, we posted the fourth and final stage of a soul's descent into the "heresy of good works" - coldness towards the Sacraments - noting that there is hope for a soul who has descended into such a heresy.

For Dom Chautard, hope comes in the form of a nudge from the Heavenly Friend:
Thus deformed, the apostle lives outside of Christ, and as for the confidential words spoken by Jesus to His true friends: they are no longer for him. 
And yet, at long intervals, the heavenly Friend manages to reach him with a movement of remorse, a light, an appeal. He waits. He knocks. He asks to be let in. “Come to Me, poor wounded soul, won’t you come to Me? I will heal you.” Venite ad me omnes . . . et ego reficiam vos.1″ For I am your salvation: solus tua ego sum.1″ I came to save that which was lost: ‘ Venit Filius hominis quaerere et salvum facere quod perierat.” ” So gentle, so kind, so discreet, so urgent, this voice brings moments of emotion, and sentimental, evanescent urges to do better. But the door of the heart is only slightly ajar. Jesus cannot get in. These good movements in the tepid soul come to nothing at all. Grace goes by in vain, and will turn against the soul. Perhaps Jesus, in His mercy, to avoid piling up a huge store of wrath, will even cease His appeals. “Fear Jesus passing by, and never returning.”18 
These words paint both a benign and scary image on the reader, this one included. On the one hand, we have Our Lord standing at the door and knocking gently as He does, waiting to be let in. But since the door is ajar, and the soul does not hurry to open it and let the Lord in, He eventually stops knocking ... for our sake, it seems. 

It really brings home the verse from Scripture - "Turn away from Me, I never knew thee."

Do we really want Our Lord to say that to us at our particular judgement? Due to something we could have easily prevented or worked against?

Wednesday 23 January 2019

The Dangers of an Active Life without an Interior Life: Part Ten

In this tenth part of our series, Dom Chautard's charting of a soul's adoption of the heresy of good works comes to an end. First, it was a loss of an awareness of the supernatural foundations of one's good works. It was followed by the abandonment of both schedule and spiritual works. Then, upon its heels, the official prayer of the Church, the Breviary, was forgotten or otherwise diminished in its spiritual importance. Here, Dom Chautard details the final and most horrifying stage of one's descent into heresy: the detachment of their heart from the Sacraments, the spine of the Church.
FOURTH STAGE. Everything links up. Deep calls to deep. Now it is the SACRAMENTS. They are received and administered, no doubt, as something worthy of respect; but there is no longer any sense of the vital energy contained in them. The presence of Jesus in the tabernacle or in the holy tribunal of Penance is no longer able to make the springs of faith shudder even to the depths of his soul. Even the Mass, the Sacrifice of Calvary, has become a closed garden. Of couse, the soul is still far from sacrilege— let us at least believe that much! But there is no longer any reaction to the warmth of the Precious Blood. His Consecrations are cold; his Communions tepid, distracted, superficial. A familiarity without respect, routine, maybe even repugnance, are lying in wait for him now.
As Dom Chautard himself notes, "Everything links up. Deep calls to deep." Indeed they do.

A soul does not find themselves waking up one day in heresy. Heresy is procedural. Just like one's diminishing of horror at their sin is.

Friends, do we find ourselves at this fourth and final stage? Are our Communions tepid, lacking warmth, distracted and superficial? Is this persistent? Have we approached Communion clinically - almost robotically, even? Have we approached the sanctuary at Communion-time out of simple routine? Now, we must be wary of being so afraid to receive Him that we become Jansenists. But we must also be in the habit of receiving Him with the dignity, decorum and respect He deserves - lest we become little more than savages. 

Friends, where are we in the stages? 

Regardless of how far down we have gotten, there is always a sliver of hope.

That sense of hope and turning back to God is what Dom Chautard will detail in the coming segments of our series.

Tuesday 22 January 2019

The Dangers of an Active Life without an Interior Life: Part Nine

Having covered the first and second stages of how a soul gradually falls into the heresy of good works, Dom Chautard begins his description of the third stage emphatically:
Everything is now ripe for the — 
THIRD STAGE, of which the symptom is neglect in the recitation of the BREVIARY. The prayer of the Church, which ought to give the soldier of Christ joy and strength to lift himself up, from time to time, and let God carry him in a flight high above the visible world, has now become a very tiring duty to be borne with patience. The liturgical life, source of light, joy, strength, merit and grace for himself and for the faithful, is now nothing more than the occasion of a distasteful task, grudgingly discharged. The interior virtue of religion is more than affected by the disease. The fever for active works is beginning to dry it up altogether. The soul no longer sees the worship of God except insofar as it can be tied up with striking exterior display. The obscure and personal but heartfelt sacrifice of praise, of supplication, of thanksgiving, of reparation, no longer means anything to such a man. In the old days, when he was reciting his vocal prayers, he used to say with legitimate pride, as though to enter into rivalry with a choir of monks: I too “shall sing to Thee in the sight of angels.” In conspectu angelorum psallam tibi.’”‘ The sanctuary of this soul, once fragrant with the liturgical life, has become a public thoroughfare where noise and disorder reign. Exaggerated worry over business and habitual dissipation are enough to multiply his distractions tenfold. And, for the rest, he fights these distractions with less and less vigor. “The Lord is not in noise.” 14 Genuine prayer is no longer to be found in this soul. He prays in a rush, with interruptions that have not the slightest justification; all is done neglectfully, sleepily, with many delays, putting it off until the last minute, at the risk of being finally overcome by sleep. And, perhaps, now and again, he skips parts of the office and leaves them out. All of this transforms what should be a medicine into a poison. The sacrifice of praise becomes a long litany of sins, and sins which may end up by being more than venial.  
Lest anyone think by the mention of the word BREVIARY that this whole exercise is reserved for priests, it is not so. Laymen/laywomen can - some even say should - recite the official prayer of the Church. No matter what Hour we recite (we are certianly bound by less than those in the Church when it comes to this form of prayer), someone else in the world is reciting with us. It is a wonderful exercise. Dom Chautard is right to express horror at how a soul conducts itself when it abandons the breviary - be it priest, religious, or layperson.

Monday 21 January 2019

The Dangers of an Active Life without an Interior Life: Part Eight

Dom Chautard continues his description of the second stage of a soul descending into the "heresy of good works":
Now for a man in the active life to give up his meditation is tantamount to throwing down his arms at the feet of the enemy. “Short of a miracle,” says St. Alphonsus, “a man who does not practice mental prayer will end up in mortal sin.” And St. Vincent de Paul tells us: “A man without mental prayer is not good for anything; he cannot even renounce the slightest thing. “It is merely the life of an animal.’” Some authors quote St. Theresa as having said: “Without mental prayer a person soon becomes either a brute or a devil. If you do not practice mental prayer, you don’t need any devil to throw you into hell, you throw yourself in there of your own accord. On the contrary, give me the greatest of all sinners; if he practices mental prayer, be it only for fifteen minutes every day, he will be converted. If he perseveres in it, his eternal salvation is assured.” The experience of priests and religious vowed to active works is enough to establish that an apostolic worker who, under pretext of being too busy or too tired, or else out of repugnance, or laziness, or some illusion, is too easily brought to cut down his meditation to ten or fifteen minutes instead of binding himself to half an hour’s serious mental prayer from which he might draw plenty of energy and drive for his day’s work, will inevitably fall into tepidity of the will. In this stage, it is no longer a matter of avoiding imperfections. His soul is crawling with venial sins. The ever growing impossibility of vigilance over his heart makes most of these faults pass unnoticed by his conscience. The soul has disposed itself in such a manner that it cannot and will not see. How will such a one fight against things which he no longer regards as defects? His lingering disease is already far advanced. Such is the consequence of the second stage, which is characterized by the giving up of mental prayer and of a daily schedule.
Oh, how quickly the soul falls, and how quickly do they buy into the lies Satan has put before them, when they abandon serious mental prayer.

Sunday 20 January 2019

The Dangers of an Active Life without an Interior Life: Part Seven

Having covered the first stage of a soul's descent into the "heresy of good works," Dom Chautard describes the second stage: the gradual dismissal of good works which would otherwise guard against mortal sin.

Here is the first part of his description:
SECOND STAGE. If the worker were a supernatural soul, being a slave of duty he would be greedy of his time, and regulate its use, living by a schedule. He would well realize that otherwise he would be living purely from morning to night. But if he has no supernatural basis, he will soon find out about it. Since there is no spirit of faith governing his use of his time, he gives up his spiritual reading. Or else, if he still reads anything at all, he makes no studies. It was all right for the Fathers of the Church to spend the whole week preparing their Sunday sermons! For him, unless his vanity is at stake, he prefers to improvise. Yet his improvisations always hit it off with singular aptness — at least that is what be thinks! He likes to read magazines rather than books. He has no method. He flutters about from one thing to another like a butterfly. The law of work, that great law of preservation, of morality and of penance, is something he manages to escape by wasting his free time, and by the extreme pains he takes to provide himself with amusements. Anything that would interfere with his free and easy ways, he considers tiresome, and a mere matter of theory — nothing practical. He does not have nearly enough time for all his works and social obligations, or even for what he deems the necessary care of his health, or his recreations. “Really,” says the devil to him, “you are giving too much time to pious exercises: meditation, office, Mass, work of the ministry. Something has to be cut out!” Invariably he begins by shortening the meditation, by making it only irregularly, or perhaps he even gets to the point where, bit by bit, he drops it altogether. The one indispensable requisite for remaining faithful to his meditation — namely, getting up at the right time — is all the more logically abandoned since he has so many good reasons for having gone to bed late the night before.
Without a schedule, made worse by the lack of spiritual works, man quickly falls prey to the devil. As the saints have told us through the ages, Satan finds an idle man easier to succumb to his willies than one who keeps his body and mind oriented towards God. 

Saturday 19 January 2019

The Dangers of an Active Life without an Interior Life: Part Six

We took a little break from our reproduction of Dom Chautard's notes on "The Active Worker with no Interior Life," of which there have been five parts thus far. Much of our time thus far has been taken up with the state of the soul as it gradually abandons the interior life in favor of an active life. It makes for terrifying reading.

There is hope for a soul who has fallen into the heresy of good works, as there is for any soul who has fallen into heresy, at least until the death of its bodily container. 

But in order to aspire to hope from heresy, the soul must understand how deep they are in heresy.

How, then, does a soul get there? That, friends, is what Dom Chautard, is about to detail, in what he helpfully calls "stages."

Here, Dom Chautard begins his discussion of what is the first stage - the loss of supernatural foundations, which form the bedrock of the interior life: 
FIRST STAGE. The soul began by progressively losing the clarity and power (if ever it had any at all) of its convictions about the supernatural life, the supernatural world, and the economy of the plan and of the action of Our Lord with regard to the relation between the inner life of the apostle and his works. He ceases to see these works except through a delusive mirage. In a subtle way, vanity comes to act as a pedestal to his supposed good intentions. “What else can I do? God has given me the gift of oratory, and I thank Him for it,” was the reply made by a certain preacher, puffed up with vain complacency, and totally extroverted, to those who are flattering him. The soul seeks itself more than it seeks God. The foreground is completely taken up by reputation, glory, and personal interests. The text, “If I pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ,” 12 becomes, to him, something altogether without meaning. Besides ignorance of principles, the lack of supernatural foundations which characterizes this stage has sometimes as its cause and sometimes as its immediate result, dissipation, forgetfulness of God’s presence, giving up ejaculatory prayers and custody of the heart, want of delicacy of conscience and of regularity of life. Tepidity is close at hand, if it has not already begun.
Friends, from here, everything falls. This is an example of gradualism - make one allowance for evil, and sooner or later, more and more evil will be tolerated, until, eventually, all evil will be tolerated. It is a pattern we see time and again throughout history, even in Catholicism's Golden Age, in various forms.

We can lose this clarity and power of our convictions of the supernatural life not just by the methods Dom Chautard puts up here. It can also happen when we begin to view Holy Mother Church as merely a vehicle of affirming our political ideologies - which is just as tragic, if not more so - and which many have done and continue to do.

Friday 18 January 2019

Prayer to Jesus Crucified

Lord Jesus Christ, I thank You, who laid down your life for me so meekly.
You bore the nails so patiently,
You were raised upon the cross so mercilessly,
You hung there so painfully,
You wept so bitterly,
You cried aloud piercingly,
You shed your blood plentifully, and for me, a sinner, You suffered death unquestionably.
Now, Lord Jesus Christ, I commend myself to your love,
to the power of your passion, to the depths of your endless mercy.
Jesus Christ, in your immeasurable pity,
keep alive within me the memory of your bitter death, of your holy wounds,
so that in sickness and in health, I may remember you mercy.
Gentle Jesus, defend me from all danger,
and keep me so that I may stand before You in joy.
Defend my soul, Lord Jesus Christ,
which You have bought with your precious blood.

Thursday 17 January 2019

The Dangers of an Active Life without an Interior Life: Part Five

Here, Fr. Chautard describes in horrifying detail the soul who has thrown off any semblance of their formerly pious life, and thrown themselves into the heresy of good works with nary a scruple:
And now our friend, up to so recently a man of virtuous habits, is going from weakness to ever greater weakness, and will soon place his foot upon an incline so slippery that he will be utterly unable to keep himself from falling. Deep in his heart he is miserable, and vaguely realizes that all this agitation is not according to the Heart of God, but the only result is that he hurls himself even more blindly into the whirlpool in order to drown his remorse. His faults are piled up to a fatal degree. Things that used to trouble the upright conscience of this man are now despised as vain scruples. He is fond of proclaiming that a man ought to live with the times, meet the enemy on equal terms, and so he praises the active virtues to the skies, expressing nothing but scorn for what he disdainfully calls “the piety of a bygone day.” Anyway, his enterprises prosper more than ever. Everybody is talking about them. Each day witnesses some new success. “God is blessing our work,” exclaims the deluded man, over whom, tomorrow, perhaps the angels will be weeping for a mortal sin. How did this soul fall into so lamentable a state? Inexperience, presumption, vanity, carelessness, and cowardice are the answer. Haphazardly, without stopping to reflect on his inadequate spiritual resources, he threw himself into the midst of dangers. When his reserves of the interior life ran out, he found himself in the position of an uncautious swimmer who has no longer the strength to fight against the current, and is being swept away to the abyss.
Friends, here we see how slippery of a slope the "heresy of good works" is. How is this possible? Dom Chautard tells us himself that it is from "inexperience, presumption, vanity, carelessness, and cowardice." How often have we expressed such faulty character traits in our own apostolates?

Even though these passages have painted a dreary portrait of a soul who has fallen into the heresy of good works, there is hope for a soul who has fallen into heresy and tepidity. 

For now, let us repeat these words of Dom Chautard:
Let us pause a moment to look back over the road that has been traveled, and to estimate the depth of the fall.
We will pick up this series after a day's respite.

St. John of the Cross on letting the Interior Life feed the Active Life

The following comes to us from the saint's Spiritual Canticle.
“Let the men eaten up with activity,” he says, “and who imagine they are able to shake the world with their preaching and other outward works, stop and reflect a moment. It will not be difficult for them to understand that they would be much more useful to the Church and more pleasing to the Lord, not to mention the good example they would give to those around them, if they devoted more time to prayer and to the exercises of the interior life. “Under these conditions, by one single work of theirs they would do far more good, and with much less trouble, than they do by a thousand others on which they exhaust their lives. Prayer would merit them this grace, and would obtain for them the spiritual energies they need to bring forth such fruits. But without prayer, all they do amounts to nothing more than noise and uproar; it is like a hammer banging on an anvil and echoing all over the neighborhood. They accomplish a little more than nothing, sometimes absolutely nothing at all, and sometimes downright evil. God save us from such a soul as this, if it should happen to swell up with pride! It would be vain for appearances to be in his favor: the truth is that he would be doing nothing, because no good work can be done without the power of God. Oh, how much could be written on this subject, for the information of those who give up practicing the interior life, and aspire to brilliant works which will put them up on a pedestal and make them the admiration of all. Such people know nothing at all about the source of living water, and of the mysterious fountain which makes all fruit to grow.”


Wednesday 16 January 2019

The Dangers of an Active Life without an Interior Life: Part Four

Fr. Chautard describes a situation I am sure is familiar to us all - the putting-off of prayer because we simply have "too many things to do," when we are reminded of our lack of an interior life - but gives another reminder of how the devil is at work:
Yet a day comes when the soul scents danger. The .guardian angel has had something to say: conscience has registered a protest. Now would be the time to take hold of himself, to examine himself in the calm atmosphere of a retreat, to resolve to draw up a schedule and follow it rigorously, even at the cost of neglecting the occasions of trouble to which he has become so attached. Alas! It is already late in the day! He has already tasted the pleasure of seeing his efforts crowned with the most encouraging success. “Tomorrow! tomorrow!” he mumbles. “Today, it is out of the question. There simply is no time. I have got to go on with this series of sermons, write this article, organize this committee, or that ‘charity,’ put on this play, go on that trip — or catch up with my mail.” How happy he is to reassure himself with all these pretexts! For the mere thought of being left alone, face to face with his own conscience, has become unbearable to him. The time has come when the devil can have a free hand to encompass the ruin of a soul that has shown itself disposed to be such a willing accomplice. The ground is prepared. Since activity has become a passion in his victim, he now fans it into a raging fever. Since it has become intolerable for him to even think of forgetting his urgent affairs and recollecting himself, the demon increases that loathing into sheer horror, and takes care at the same time to intoxicate the soul with fresh enterprises, skillfully colored with the attractive motives of God’s glory and the greater good of souls. 
Friends, the devil hates us and wants to see us fail, and turn away from God, lured away by false promises of success and glory and comfort. How often have we seen rising Catholic stars - so to speak - fall so spectacularly? Turn to other religions? Fall into serious sin with nary a repentant word to pass their lips? Or worse, justify their serious sins? Become so busy with an apostolate and good works that we forget our primary duty - to give glory, honor, and praise to God?

Reject the devil - and embrace God!

Tuesday 15 January 2019

The Dangers of an Active Life without an Interior Life: Part Three

Here, Fr. Chautard describes the various assaults a soul invites - or, rather, inflicts - upon themselves when they undertake an apostolate without adequate interior preparation.
There you have our apostle, filled with his desire to throw himself into active works, and on the point of entering upon this ministry which is so completely new to him. It is not long before circumstances that inevitably arise from these works (as will readily be understood by anyone who has led the active life) produce a thousand-and-one occasions to draw him more and more out of himself; there are countless appeals to his naive curiosity, unnumbered occasions of falling into sin from which we may suppose he has hitherto been protected by the peaceful atmosphere of his home, his seminary, his community, or his novitiate — or at least by the guidance of an experienced director. Not only is there an increasing dissipation-, or the ever growing danger of a curiosity that has to find out all about everything; not only more and more displays of impatience or injured feelings, of vanity or jealousy, presumption or dejection, partiality or detraction, but there is also a progressive development of the weaknesses of his soul and of all the more or less subtle forms of sensuality. And all these foes are preparing to force an unrelenting battle upon this soul so ill-prepared for such violent and unceasing attacks. And it therefore falls victim to frequent wounds! Indeed, it is a wonder when there is any resistance at all on the part of a soul whose piety is so superficial — a soul already captivated by the too natural satisfaction it takes in pouring out its energies and exercising all its talents upon a worthy cause! Besides, the devil is wide awake, on the look-out for his anticipated prey. And far from disturbing this sense of satisfaction, he does all in his power to encourage it.  
Friends, has this happened to us? Have we abandoned ourselves to our natural energies, our natural gifts, and our concupiscence without nourishing our interior lives, which would also give us the graces to counter this concupiscence? Without turning to God first and foremost - or, if we do, has it been superficial and lacking the level of conversation appropriate to the One Who Created us? Have we succumbed to the devil and his willies in all of their forms?

This particular danger need not solely apply to brand-new apostolates - this can and does happen to apostolates which have been running for a number of years.

Monday 14 January 2019

The Dangers of an Active Life without an Interior Life: Part Two

Here, Fr. Chautard describes the seeds of the 'heresy of good works' found in a soul who is enamored with ideals but fails to take into account the 'nitty-gritty' of what really needs to be there for one's good works to bear good fruit.
First let us go back to the seed of corruption fostered in our nature by concupiscence, and the fight to the death that is ever waged against us by your enemies, within as well as without. Let us go back to the dangers that threaten us on every side. With this in mind, let us consider what happens to a soul that enters upon the apostolate without being sufficiently forewarned and forearmed against its dangers. Fr. (or Mr.) So-and-So feels within himself a growing desire to consecrate himself to good works. He has no experience whatever. But his liking for the apostolate gives us the right to suppose that he has a certain amount of fire, some impetuosity of character, is fond of action, and also perhaps, inclined to relish a bit of a fight. Let us imagine him to be correct in his conduct, a man of piety and even to devotion; but his piety is more in the feelings than in the will, and his devotion is not the light reflected by a soul resolute in seeking nothing but the good pleasure of God, but a pious routine, the result of praiseworthy habits. Mental prayer, if indeed he practices it at all, is for him a species of day-dreaming, and his spiritual reading is governed by curiosity, without any real influence on his conduct. Perhaps the devil even eggs him on by reason of an illusory artistic sense, which the poor soul mistakes for an “inner life,” to dabble in treatises on the lofty and extraordinary paths of union with God, and these fill him with admiration and enthusiasm. All in all, there is little genuine inner life, if any at all, in this soul which still has, we grant, a certain number of good habits, many natural assets and a certain loyal desire to be faithful to God; but that desire is altogether too vague.
Friends, are we guilty of heaping loads of idealism on the good works we imagine ourselves capable of without injecting a good dose of realism into our veins? Have we already sown the seeds of our own fatigue and defeat before we have even begun our good works?

Sunday 13 January 2019

The Dangers of an Active Life without an Interior Life: A Series - Part One

In what will be a multi-part series, I will be reproducing fairly lengthy block quotes from The Soul of the Apostolate, written in 1946 by Jean-Baptiste Chautard, O.S.C.O. Specifically, I will be lifting verbatim from the section describing what occurs to a soul when the interior life is neglected in favor of an active life, otherwise known as "An Active Worker with No Interior Life."

Here, Fr. Chautard is merely describing an active man with no interior life or a bare one at the very least, in simple terms.
To sum up such a one in a word; perhaps he is not yet tepid, but he is bound to become so. However, when a man is tepid, with a tepidity that is not merely in the feelings, or due to weakness, but residing in the will, that man has resigned himself to consent habitually to levity and neglect, or at any rate to cease fighting them. He has come to terms with deliberate venial sin, and by that very fact, he has robbed his soul of its assurance of eternal salvation. Indeed, he is disposing and even leading it on to mortal sin.10 Such also is St. Alphonsus’ teaching on tepidity, so well expounded by his disciple, Fr. Desurmont.11 Now how is it that, without an interior life, the active worker inevitably slides into tepidity? Inevitably, we say; and the only proof we need for this is the statement of a missionary bishop to his priests, a statement all the more terrifying by its truth, since it comes straight from a heart consumed with zeal for good works and filled with a spirit that goes clean contrary to anything that smacks of quietism. “There is one thing,” said Cardinal Lavigerie, “one thing of which you must be fully persuaded, and it is that for an apostle there is no halfway between total sanctity, at least faithfully and courageously desired and sought after, and absolute perversion.” 
Friends, does this describe us? Have we fallen into the heresy of good works? Are we on the way to becoming tepid, to the point where the Lord will spit us out of His Mouth? Or are we already tepid?

This will be continued.

The Holy Family

A blessed Feast of the Holy Family to you all.

(The Holy Family, 1610, by Bartolomeo Schedoni)

Being the first Sunday after the Epiphany, the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, normally celebrated on January 13th, is omitted entirely to give this feast pride and place in the calendar, following the 1962 rubrics.

Saturday 12 January 2019

"Parents of the Celebrant"

This was painted by Jose Alcazar Tejedor in 1887, and is called "Parents of the Celebrant After His First Mass."

Parents, if you have a son or daughter who is aspiring to join the Church as a priest, sister, monk or nun, do not stand in the way of their aspirations or otherwise put up obstacles for them.

God does not look kindly on parents who do. 

We, especially in our time (though this can be said for any other time), need holy vocations. They start in the home, and are best fostered by parents who model Our Lady and Her Spouse, Joseph. That is not to say it's impossible to do so without such models, just that it is much easier if one is so lucky.

Sons and daughters, if you have such aspirations, follow them. You never know where they might lead. The Church needs you.

Sunday 6 January 2019

Epiphany: Have your cake and eat it too!

On this, the twelfth day after Christmas, we celebrate the Epiphany.

The day the Magi came to the Christ-Child and offered their gifts of gold, frankincense, myrrh, in recognition of His Kingship, both before and after His death.

In this action was prefigured the welcoming of the Gentiles (non-Jews) into the bosom of the Church by Ss. Peter and Paul, for the Magi were Zoroastrians.

Would any of us us be here if the Magi had decided to ignore the star and not journey to see the Christ-Child?

Out of all of the customs that have arisen in celebration of the Epiphany, my personal favorite is the custom of eating cake. Known by various names in many countries, the cake is generally ring-shaped and incorporates a crown of some sort. Why is it my favorite? Cake. Why else?

There is also the custom, observed in such places as Poland and here in Canada, of writing with blessed chalk 20 + C + M + B + 19 over the main doorway of a residence. The initials stands for what are believed to be the proper names of the Three Magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. It is a invocation of God's blessing upon a household to bless it and keep it throughout the calendar year. 

Today, also, the Church announces the dates of the movable feasts for the year after Mass. This practice has largely fallen into disuse due to the advent of readily accessible calendars. But, when that wasn't the case, it used to be done. The Old Rite dictates that this be done by the deacon, while this can be done by the cantor or another layperson in the Novus Ordo. While I have never seen this done, I am told it is quite something.

Have a blessed Epiphany, and may God's blessing be upon you throughout the year to come.

Some humour...

Saturday 5 January 2019

Are "traditional Catholics" succumbing to Liberalism?

The Catholic Church will be saved by the Holy Spirit, from this present crisis through His Vicar. The Will of Christ is the Church needs and has a Pope. The Catholic Church is visible. Pope Francis is the Pope, the Hierarchy has not collapsed, or defected, as some sedevacantists, and de facto sedevacantists believe.  This is private judgment, this is liberalism.

Yet, this is the logical conclusion of Catholics living in a liberal world. Private judgment, a cornerstone of protestantism, has infected many who call themselves "traditional". Liberals hate obedience, they love "liberty", revolution. 

Protestantism and Freemasonry have done a marvelous job in poisoning Catholics' minds. What greater delusion can there be when someone who is a liberal, believes he is a "traditional Catholic". This is a masterstroke of Satan. To convince the slave he is a freeman. 

When Irenaeus, who recently joined this blog, pointed out that we are all, to some degree, infected with liberalism, he was "blocked" by a blogger who claims to be "traditional", and, by the way, has declared Pope Francis not to be the Pope. Apparently, the real Pope is Bishop Joseph Ratzinger. Even Luther did not go that far! Such people should be avoided, as they are spreading spiritual poison and endangering souls. But there we are. What can we expect of 500 years of protestantism, 200 years of liberalism, and 100 years of modernism? 

Thus it is no longer now a question of even returning to the delusions of the 1950s and 40s. 

There is no doubt that the behaviour, the confusion, the scandals, the homosexual outrages, the sexual abuse coverups, the waffling at sin, by so many churchmen in Rome (sadly, including the Holy Father - witness the catastrophe in Chile, and the now second scandal emerging over the coverup of serial homosexual rapist/predator, Theodore McCarrick, former Cardinal Archbishop of Washington), is the source of the increase in confusion and dissent amongst Catholics. 

But to break Catholic unity, because of someone else's sin? This is insanity! St. Paul warned us, we cannot do evil, that good will come from it. 

Do we not see, that Satan, seeing this confusion, is now tempting Catholics to break with the Church? Where would we go? There is only one Church. Are we to wander off to some "synagogue of Satan", to quote St. John? Are we to leave our Mother's bedside, when She needs us most!? No! We remain with our Mother!

"Lord, you have the words of eternal life". By the Will of Christ, there is ONE Church, and She is visible, and has a Hierarchy. Until deposed by the legitimate authority, these churchmen still retain jurisdictional power. They still hold their sees, and still dispense the Sacraments, irrespective of their sin. The High Priests still were the head of the Jewish Church, even as they were planning to crucify the Lord of Glory. Jesus Christ did NOT depose them! 

 "St. Augustine is fully aware that not all members of the clerical state and hierarchy are holy men, and if such is the case what is the relation of the wicked members to the body of Christ?  

The relation is the same as that of all other members. Good bishops participate fully in the life of the mystical body; they, as principal members are bound to it by life-giving ties. Bad bishops, may have jurisdictional powers and authority and belong to the Church, like all sinners not separated from it, but they do not participate in the life of grace. 

They are not however severed either from the external Church or the mystical body... till the end of time two categories of pastors are bound to exist. There are shepherds “who occupy a pastoral chair in order to tend to the sheep; others, however, sit on them in order to enjoy temporal honors and secular advantages”. 

Unrightous bishops are not honored with the name of sons, but are called mercenaries. St. Peter, who is portrayed by St. Augustine as a personification of the Church, is also presented as a symbol of all the pastors of the Church. 

However, it is only good pastors and not of mercenaries that Peter is opposition to the other apostles, Judas is reputed to be such a mercenary; and if this happened to one of the apostles, who were so close to Christ, there should not be reason for scandal if his example finds imitators among the apostles' successors. They can have a place in the temporal existence of the Church, but will not enjoy the eternal existence of the mystical body of Christ" (Grabowski, pp. 219-221)

A return to fifties Catholicism is a fantasy that desires a Church too rich, too comfortable, too conformable to the secular world that was rapidly sliding into apostasy. God, who writes straight with crooked lines used the Council to blow away the rot, the decadence, the hypocrisy, that had invaded the Catholic Church for decades prior to the 1960s. The Catholic Church, in Her churchmen, had been too close to the edge of the cliff and had a great fall. 

Some perhaps perceiving this, wish to return to a neo-gnostic elitism (seemingly a neo-Jansenism - and, as noted, really just a "Catholic" version of protestantism). But this is no solution, but just another temptation from the devil. We need to "watch and pray", remain humble and follow the example of saints like Philip Neri, Therese of Lisieux, and Brother Andre (whom we will be celebrating this coming Monday). 

Let us pray for the Church, the Pope and the bishops. Let us pray for our parish priests who need our encouragement and support!

Reference: Grabowski, S. J. (1957). The Church: An introduction to the theology of St. Augustine. B. Herder Book Co; St. Louis, MO & London, England.

Tuesday 1 January 2019

Veni Creator Spiritus

Our Lady and the 11 Disciples

Just as the Church sings Te Deum at the end of the calendar year, She has also made it a pious custom to sing Veni Creator Spiritus at the beginning of the calendar year. Believed to have been composed in the 9th century AD by Rabanus Maurus, a Frankish Benedictine monk who became the archbishop of Mainz in East Francia, Veni Creator Spiritus is also sung on Pentecost, as well as at ordinations and Confirmations. It is a wonderful hymn invoking the Holy Ghost to come and influence each and every aspect of our lives.

Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,
and in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
to fill the hearts which Thou hast made. 

O comforter, to Thee we cry,
O heavenly gift of God Most High,
O fount of life and fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.

Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;
Thou, finger of God's hand we own;
Thou, promise of the Father, Thou
Who dost the tongue with power imbue.

Kindle our sense from above,
and make our hearts o'erflow with love;
with patience firm and virtue high
the weakness of our flesh supply. 

Far from us drive the foe we dread,
and grant us Thy peace instead;
so shall we not, with Thee for guide,
turn from the path of life aside.

Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
the Father and the Son to know;
and Thee, through endless times confessed,
of both the eternal Spirit blest.

Now to the Father and the Son,
Who rose from death, be glory given,
with Thou, O Holy Comforter,
henceforth by all in earth and heaven.

May God bless us all in the year to come, and may the Holy Ghost infuse each and every aspect of our lives.