What doth it profit a man to attend Latin Masses, but not live like the Good Samaritan?
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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.

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