Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘spiritual_combat’

The Post-Christendom Sacramental Crisis: The Wisdom of Thomas Aquinas

August 26th, 2013, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

You might remember the name Dr. Ralph Martin from a recent series on Cleansing Fire reviewing his book, “Will Many Be Saved?”. More recently he has published a sobering a article titled, “The Post-Christendom Sacramental Crisis: The Wisdom of Thomas Aquinas”. You can download it directly here or by going to the free literature page of his organization’s site – www.renewalministries.net. The whole article is definitely worth the read, but here’s some snippets.

When the eternal consequences that flow from what we choose to believe and how we choose to act are not spoken of for long periods of time, the silence on these dimensions of the gospel is often taken to mean that they are no longer important, true, or relevant. As one Australian commentator has pointed out, when the eternal consequences of believing and obeying, or not believing and obeying, are left fuzzy, “the essential faith of Catholics will then amount to no more than a vague theism with little specific moral content; just what it is for a large proportion of Catholics today.”6

The collapse of doctrinal clarity is certainly a major contributor to the general indifference to the call to evangelization which has so insistently come from the Magisterium since Vatican II. Cardinal Ratzinger called it a “catastrophic collapse” of catechetics.

The Catherine of Siena Institute in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has interviewed tens of thousands of Catholics and their pastors and makes the point that even among the minority of Catholics who come to Church somewhat regularly fewer than 10 percent could be considered “intentional disciples” who have consciously made Christ the center of their lives.10 Cardinal Ratzinger remarked on a strange phenomenon he observed in conjunction with the collapse of the Church in the Netherlands after Vatican II. He pointed out that by every statistical measure the Church in the Netherlands was collapsing and yet, strangely, at the same time an atmosphere of “general optimism” was prevalent that seemed blind to the actual situation.

I thought to myself: what would one say of a businessman whose accounts were completely in the red but who, instead of recognizing this evil, finding out its reasons, and courageously taking steps against it, wanted to commend himself to his creditors solely through optimism? What should one’s attitude be to an optimism that was quite simply opposed to reality?11

In the United States, “official optimism” has been quite strong in the midst of radical decline. When the American bishops greeted Pope Benedict XVI on his pastoral visit, they spoke of our “vibrant” Church. Shortly before Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States, Russell Shaw, a respected author and former spokesman for the American bishops, urged the American bishops to stop pretending everything was fine.12

Dr. Martin’s article provides statistics from a “large midwestern diocese”. The numbers are nothing shocking for us here in Rochester. However, the article is, for the most part, about the US (and the Western world) in general. My speculation is that there are a few strongly orthodox dioceses in the US (eg Lincoln), a few strongly progressive dioceses (eg Rochester), and then a majority of not-so-bad-but-not-so-great dioceses in the US. It got me thinking that God often uses situations like we have here in Rochester to actually work for his greater glory. Not that he wills or appreciates dissent or disobedience, but rather that he can use all things to work for His good. I started wondering what my spiritual life would be like if I lived in a typical parish and a typical diocese. Would I have been pushed to search for the truth and battle for my own soul as I have here in Rochester? Or would I have been content to be a minimalist Catholic who isn’t all that bad, but who doesn’t make Jesus Christ the center around which his whole life revolves? I’m not sure, but I am sure that God is here working, right here, right now, begging you and I to lay down our lives for Him… to offer everything we have to Him… to not have a complaining spirit… because ultimately who are we complaining to?

Pray that our next bishop acknowledges just how bad things are and doesn’t bring a false optimism. Continuing with the status quo is no longer an option. Well, it never was an option when you consider the sake of souls, but what really seems to be getting attention is institutions collapsing.

Revelation 3:15-22

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Once again, I will fall back to Scupoli’s “The Spiritual Combat”

CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN
CONCERNING THE NECESSITY OF SEIZING EAGERLY ALL OPPORTUNITIES OF PRACTICING VIRTUE SINCE OUR PROGRESS MUST BE CONSTANT

(perhaps this a more reader friendly link, but I’m not entirely sure it works)

If you find that chapter helpful, continue on to Chapter 38. Or rather just get the whole book.

“The Spiritual Combat”

July 27th, 2013, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

A chapter from Lorenzo Scupoli’s, “The Spiritual Combat”. Read online here or purchase here.


THE SOLDIER OF CHRIST, RESOLVED TO FIGHT AND CONQUER HIS ENEMIES, MUST AVOID, AS FAR AS POSSIBLE, ANYTHING THAT INTRUDES UPON HIS PEACE OF MIND

OUR PEACE OF MIND when lost demands every possible exertion for its recovery. We actually never can lose it or cause it to be disturbed except through our own fault.

We must be sorry for our sins. But this sorrow must be calm and moderate. Our compassion for sinners and sadness at their destruction must be free of vexation and trouble, as it springs from a purely charitable motive.

The countless trials that crowd this life—–sickness, wounds, death, the loss of friends and relatives, plagues, war, fire, etc., which men, naturally averse to suffering, dread—–all these, through God’s grace, may not only be received submissively from the hand of God, but can become occasions of joy. This is true if we view them as just punishments, inflicted on sinners, or as opportunities given the just to obtain merits.

These trials and events occur at the design of our Master; the severest tribulations of this life bring His will to our aid, so that we can march with a calm and tranquil soul. Any disquiet on our part is displeasing to God. For of whatever nature it may be it is always accompanied by some imperfection, and it always has a tendency towards self-love in one form or another.

Let there always be a vigilant sentinel in your soul which will discover anything that might trouble or disturb your conscience. At its first alarm, seize your weapons to defend yourself. Remember that all these evils, and a great many others, no matter how formidable their appearance, are but imaginary for they cannot deprive you of any real good. Consider this fact. Whether God decrees or permits these things for the reasons given above, or for others which we should certainly consider equitable, they are hidden from our comprehension.

You will find it greatly advantageous to preserve a calm mind through all the events in your life. Without it, your pious exercises will be fruitless.

I am convinced that, if the heart is troubled, the enemy is ever able to strike us, and as much as he wishes. Moreover, in that state we are not capable of discerning the true path to follow, the snares that must be avoided to attain virtue.

The enemy detests this peace. For he knows that this is the place where the spirit of God dwells, and that God now desires to accomplish great things in us. Consequently he employs his most devilish means to destroy this peace. He suggests various things that apparently are good. It is a trap; you will soon discover that these desires will destroy the peace of your heart.

As a remedy for this dangerous attack we must be on guard against any new desire seeking entrance into our heart. Never permit its entrance until you have completely submerged your self-love in offering this to God. Confess your ignorance and beg God to clarify the matter and show you whether this desire comes from Him or our enemy. If possible, you should have recourse to your spiritual director.

Even when we are convinced that this action is prompted by the Holy Spirit we should, nevertheless, defer its execution until our eagerness to do this has been mortified. Preceded by such a mortification a good work is more pleasing to God than when it is pursued too impetuously. It frequently happens that the performance of the act brings less merit than the mortification.

Through the rejection of evil desires, and the suspension of even the good ones until we have suppressed the motivations of self-love, we shall preserve perfect tranquillity of mind.

It is also necessary to overcome a certain interior regret. Apparently coming from God, under the guise of remorse of conscience for past sins, it is, without doubt, the work of the devil. The following test will clearly point this out.

Whenever this regret produces greater humility, when it increases our fervor in doing good works and our confidence in the Divine Mercy, we must receive it in a spirit of gratitude as a gift from Heaven. But when it occasions anxiety, when it makes us disconsolate, slothful, fearful and slow to do our duty, we may certainly conclude that it has been suggested by the enemy, and should be disregarded.

It frequently happens, moreover, that our anxieties arise from the trials of this life. There are two preservatives against them.

First. The consequences of these trials must be considered. They may completely destroy our desire of attaining perfection, or they may destroy our self-love. The diminution of self-love, one of our greatest enemies, gives no cause for complaint. Such trials should be received with joyful thanksgiving as favors bestowed by God. If they incline us to swerve from the path of perfection, and make virtue repugnant, we must not be downhearted and lose our peace of mind. This will be considered later.

Second. Let us raise our hearts to God. Whatever He wills, without exception, should be received with the firm persuasion that every cross He wills to send shall prove an endless source of blessing, a treasure whose value one may not appreciate at the moment.