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Tag Archives: Christian perfection

ST JOHN CANTIUS, CONFESSOR

ST JOHN CANTIUS, CONFESSOR

ST JOHN CANTIUS, CONFESSOR – MEMORIAL: DECEMBER 23

John was born in the diocese of Cracow in the town of Kenty, from which he took his surname Cantius. His parents Stanislaus and Anna were holy and respectable people. From his infancy, his sweetness of disposition and innocence gave hope of the greatest virtue.

HE BECAME A PRIEST 

After becoming a priest, he increased his ardour for Christian perfection. For some years he administered the parish of Ilkusi with great efficiency. Whatever time was left from his studies he devoted partly to the salvation of his neighbour, especially preaching sermons on sacred subjects, and partly by prayer.

ON FOOT, HE MADE FOUR VISITS TO ROME

He made four visits to Rome, travelling on foot and carrying his own luggage, both to show honour to the Apostolic See and, as he used to say, to save himself from the punishments of Purgatory through the indulgences obtainable there daily.

HE ABSTAINED ENTIRELY FROM MEAT

He guarded his virginal purity most vigilantly, and for about thirty-five years before his death abstained entirely from flesh-meat. On Christmas Eve [1473], his soul took flight to heaven. Pope Clement III added him to the list of the saints, and he is honoured as one of the foremost patrons of Poland and Lithuania.

PRAYER:

Grant, we beseech you, almighty God, that by following the example of blessed John, your Confessor, we may advance in a knowledge of holiness and, by showing pity for others, obtain your forgiveness through his merits. Through our Lord…

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964 [bold titles added]

 

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HOW, IN THE ROSARY, WE ARE FORMED INTO THE IMAGE OF JESUS

HOW, IN THE ROSARY, WE ARE FORMED INTO THE IMAGE OF JESUS

(To learn how to pray the Holy Rosary, please click here: How to meditate on Our Lord Jesus’_life / the Gospels with the Rosary  )

To know, love and imitate Our Lord Jesus Christ – such is the principle of Christian life, the secret of perfection. True perfection consists formally in the love which unites us to Jesus, but as one cannot love without acquaintance, and affectionate acquaintance engenders imitation – one is anxious to resemble those whom one loves – it follows that the imitation, as well as the knowledge of Our Lord Jesus Christ, form, as it were, the integral parts of that perfection, the essence of which is love.

The Rosary is the school where Mary trains us daily in the Christian life. There, not only does this divine Mother fill our understanding with the knowledge of Jesus and our hearts with love of Him, but she completes her work by imprinting on us, by imitation, the image of Him who is the First-born of all the elect. To this last point I would particularly direct your attention.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the First-born of all the elect.

Created as we are to the image of God, we feel the need of perfecting with us this divine image, of drawing out all its splendour, by imitating more and more closely our sovereign model. In the beginning, the angel and the man, intoxicated with foolish pride, wished to push the divine resemblance beyond all limits, even to the extent of absolute independence, which is the attribute of God alone. Avenging His slighted rights, God struck down Lucifer, and severely punished the first man. The punishment of the latter, however, was not untempered with mercy. God raised Adam and Eve anew, and once more showing Heaven to them, revealed to their eyes through the distance of ages One whose imperfect image they were henceforth to bear, till they at length resumed His glory.

Jesus Christ, the perfect image of God the Father, appears at the centre of the new creation as the finished model which we all must copy, which we must all resemble if we are to be counted among the children of God. To the Blessed Virgin, who formed this divine exemplar, is allotted the task of reproducing His likeness in each one of the elect. The Rosary is the mould into which she casts souls, to form them to the divine image; or let us say, rather, that with the Rosary, as with a chosen instrument, this admirable artist sculptures, paints, and imprints the image of her Son. She sculptures it in the neophytes, paints it in souls more advanced, and imprints it in hearts which are responsive to the lightest touch of grace.

The purgative, illuminative and unitive life 

Spiritual authors tell us that in the work of perfecting us, and forming us in the likeness of Jesus Christ, it is necessary, first, to take away, like the sculptors, then to add, like the painters, and finally to apply and unite closely, like the printers.

The purgative life

In the purgative life, in which the soul divests itself of its vices and bad habits, it is necessary above all to cut away. In the Rosary, therefore, Mary sculptures certain souls, refining them by the practice of poverty, of mortification, of ever increasing detachment. In the joyful mysteries, she takes from us the love of earthly treasures by showing us Jesus poor and shelterless; in the sorrowful, she destroys our love of ease, our desire for pleasure, by opposing to our sensuality the terrible sufferings of our Saviour; in the glorious mysteries, she severs the last ties which bind us to earth, elevating our hearts by the spectacle of Jesus ascending into heaven.

As the sculptor first rounds off a block of marble, then gradually outlines the statue, and finally completes it with little touches of the chisel, so the Blessed Virgin, after the sinful habits, removes the small defects, even to the last lingering imperfections of a soul which generously penitent abandons itself entirely to her.

The illuminative life

In the illuminative life, in which the soul devotes itself particularly to progress in virtue, Mary resembles the painter who adds colour to colour, mixing and blending them suitably, in order to produce an accurate and life-like portrait. When the soul, purified of its faults, presents, as it were, a spotless surface, the immaculate Virgin complacently deposits on this stainless background the colours of all the virtues, spreading perpetually a new layer of grace; and the Rosary is the rich palette from which she draws the tints which contribute to the perfection of the image, which she wishes to produce. Under the brush of this incomparable artist the dazzling whiteness of faith, the celestial radiations of hope, the soft crimson of charity, the shades and reflections of all the virtues mingle on the countenance of the soul, formerly gloomy and darkened, and stamp upon it the supernatural expression which distinguishes the children of God.

Ah! could we, by a life of piety and habitual recollection, by frequent meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary, keep our soul always ready, spread forth to its utmost limit, like a precious canvas, on which Mary might exercise her divine art by completing in us the image of her Son!

The unitive life

In all cases there is no better way to obtain a perfect resemblance in a short time than to reproduce the model itself by applying it to the surface on which it is to be represented. The image shows itself immediately, distinguished by an accuracy far greater than could be obtained by endless touches of the brush.

When a soul has arrived at the punitive life, that is, at such a degree of love for God as excludes all return to self, and justifies the words of the great apostle: “It is no longer I who live, but Jesus Christ who lives in me” – then Mary imprints Jesus in this soul, as on soft, pure wax. In a moment the celestial image appears, no longer merely in outline; it is reflected each day more faithfully in the affections, in the desires, in every act. Pone me ut signaculum super cor tuum, ut signaculum super brachium tuum. Jesus is set like a seal on the heart and on the arm, in the intention and in the deed.

The contemplative soul, closely united to God by love, receives, in passing through the mysteries of the Rosary, the impression of this divine seal. Mary herself applies it, and, according to the mystery, she reproduces Jesus humble, gentle, obedient, Jesus in His wisdom, power, goodness and infinite grace; or again, as in those modern portraits which light produces with such exactitude, Mary, admirable light emanating from the Sun of Justice, transmits in perfection the features of the divine model, imprinting them with the utmost fidelity to the depths of the heart.

An imperishable resemblance to the Father who is in heaven

Who then, faithful to this Rosary, would not allow himself to be worked upon by Her who knows so well how to mould a soul, how to paint and imprint Jesus on it? Let us dispose ourselves daily by a life of mortification, of recollection and intimate union with God, to aid Mary in her admirable work, unquestionably more admirable than all the works of nature, for the material creation even in its most beautiful manifestations, offers only a distant reflection of God, while the soul devoted to the Rosary, closely united to Christ, bears an imperishable resemblance to the Father who is in Heaven.

– Laverty & Sons, 1905

 

 

 

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ST JOHN OF THE CROSS – CATCHING “A GLIMPSE OF THE GLORY OF UNION WITH GOD IN ETERNITY”

ABOUT THE WRITTEN LEGACY OF ST JOHN OF THE CROSS, “MYSTICAL DOCTOR”

“… [St] John is considered one of the most important lyric poets of Spanish literature. His major works are four: ‘The Ascent of Mount Carmel’, ‘The Dark Night’, ‘The Spiritual Canticle’ and ‘The Living Flame of Love’.

THE HOLY SPIRIT FIRE

THE HUMBLE SOUL’S PURIFICATION

In ‘The Spiritual Canticle’ St John presents the process of the soul’s purification and that is the gradual, joyful possession of God, until the soul succeeds in feeling that it loves God with the same love with which it is loved by him. ‘The Living Flame of Love’ continues in this perspective, describing in greater detail the state of the transforming union with God.

ILLUMINATING THE STATE OF DARK NIGHT IN OUR SOULS

The example that John uses is always that of fire: just as the stronger the fire burns and consumes wood, the brighter it grows until it blazes into a flame, so the Holy Spirit, who purifies and ‘cleanses’ the soul during the dark night, with time illuminates and warms it as though it were a flame. The life of the soul is a continuous celebration of the Holy Spirit which gives us a glimpse of the glory of the union with God in eternity.

THE JOURNEY OF THE HUMBLE SOUL TO FREEDOM OF ATTACHMENTS

‘The Ascent of Mount Carmel’ presents the spiritual itinerary from the viewpoint of the gradual purification of the soul, necessary in order to scale the peaks of Christian perfection, symbolised by the summit of Mount Carmel.

This purification is proposed as a journey the human being undertakes, collaborating with divine action, to free the soul from every attachment or affection contrary to God’s will.
Purification which, if it is to attain the union of love with God must be total, begins by purifying the life of the senses and continues with the life obtained through the three theological virtues: faith, hope and charity, which purify the intention, the memory and the will.

PURIFICATION OF THE INTENTION, THE MEMORY AND THE WILL

The ‘Dark Night’ describes the ‘passive’ aspect, that is, God’s action in this process of the soul’s ‘purification’ [as persistent humble human endeavour (see above) is a pre-requirement]… ‘passive’ precisely because it is brought about by the mysterious action of the Holy Spirit who, like a burning flame, consumes every impurity.”
– Benedict XVI (Pope em.), General audience on St John of the Cross, 2011

 
 

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WE WERE NOT CREATED JUST TO HAVE FUN; WE WERE NOT PUT IN THE WORLD IN ORDER TO LOOK NICE AND THEN DISAPPEAR INTO A TOMB

THE CALL TO CHRISTIAN PERFECTION

The Heart of Jesus calls us all to Christian perfection. Jesus said, “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” With these words, He encouraged us to persevere in virtue, to begin to be like no less than an infinite God, who is infinitely perfect. No, we were not created just to have fun or to go vainly hither and thither, we were not put in the world in order to look nice and then disappear into a tomb, we were put here to improve, and become worthy of one day sharing heaven with the angels and the saints before the throne of God. Therefore Christian, onward!

THEREFORE CHRISTIAN, ONWARD!

Every day you do not work to become more perfect is a wasted day, how many have you already wasted? How many months and years? Onwards! The smallest part of perfection is worth more than all the joys and treasures of the universe, onward! That Heart that is ablaze with love for you is unhappy to see you tepid, and you should be horrified by the risk you are running by living so languidly. Hurry!

ARM YOURSELF WITH HOLY FAVOUR

Arm yourself with holy fervour, do your duty with ever increasing love, become ever more beautiful and acceptable before God, and do not ever think you can stop, for in the way of perfection you either go forwards or backwards. Onward then! The moment of death is drawing near, and with so many faults, even if by divine mercy you escape hell, who knows how many years and centuries you will have to spend in purgatory.

JESUS – MODEL OF PERFECTION

Not only does the Heart of Jesus call us to perfection but it is itself the model of perfection. The eternal Father wanted the human heart to become His temple and so He gave us the model of the Heart of His divine Son. There is no virtue that is not contained within His Heart, it being a perfect one, one that belongs to the God of all virtues. All the virtues of the saints and even those of the Queen of Saints, are naught but a reflection of the light of this most brilliant sun, they are naught but waves coming from this immense see of perfection.

THE SCIENCE OF HOLINESS

Here is the school all must attend if they wish to leave earth and arrive in heaven, He is the master of and example to all hearts, and will be their reward for eternity. Therefore, O Christian, learn to read in that most eloquent book, there you will learn the science of holiness, and a single glance at that book, will teach you more than all the other books in the world. Take the opportunity to look in this clearest of mirrors, there you will see what you are in need of before you can be called perfect, and the more you look in it, the more holy and virtuous you will become. Look always towards this divine Heart, contemplate in its beauty the ugliness of your own heart, and removing every defect and acquiring every virtue, try to make yours become a truly Christian heart.

PRAYER: O holiest Heart, mirror of God, I ask you, through the gifts of holiness and fervour, give me a heart that is new.
– Mons. Nicola Tafuri

 

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