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CONFIDENCE IN GOD IS AN INESTIMABLE GIFT

CONFIDENCE IN GOD IS AN INESTIMABLE GIFT

Let us endeavour to aspire to two things – great humility, and great confidence in God. We cannot be too humble, and we cannot be too confident. When humility and confidence are found united, confidence sustains humility, and humility purifies confidence. Humility can never be dejected, when it possesses confidence, and confidence can never be presumptuous when it is joined by humility.

Humility and confidence

We can then employ the language of Saint Teresa, who was accustomed to say: What great and good things are those possessed of who have confidence in You, and of how much do those deprive themselves, who have it not!

This inestimable gift of confidence is a grace which God bestows on all those who ask for it; but if, on the one hand, it flows from the Heart of God, and is infused, on the other, it cannot be acquired without our own co-operation.

– Cardinal Manning

 

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MANY OF US GIVE LITTLE THOUGHT TO IMPROVING ON OUR CHRISTIAN CONFIDENCE

SPIRITUAL COMFORT

“Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith the Lord” (Is10:1)

One of the great virtues, the importance and necessity of which we are many of us far from impressing upon ourselves enough, is the virtue of Christian Confidence. We may aim at leading an orderly existence, we may practise our religious duties with some exactitude, we may aim at keeping ourselves for the most part pure, truthful, and upright, but one may fear that many of us have little or no thought of deepening within ourselves the feeling of holy confidence.

A spiritual luxury?

We look upon it, perhaps, as a counsel of supererogation, a sort of spiritual luxury, a mere adjunct or condiment of the inner life, comforting, it may be, but still unnecessary and superfluous. Nevertheless, in point of fact there is perhaps no virtue of which people of goodwill stand more in need. Like Peter walking upon the waters they consider the fury of the wind and the tumult of the waves. They do not keep their eyes on Christ Our Lord, and the inevitable result follows – they begin to sink. “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” was the gentle reproof of Our Lord on that occasion.

Like Peter walking upon the waters…

But there are numberless occasions when He seems at special pains to enforce upon us the same lesson: He exhausts every comparison: He appeals to the birds of the air, to the flowers of the earth, to the grass of the field, that He may bring home to us the great commanding truth that God does really care for us, that He has our interests at heart, even though at sundry times He may appear to have forgotten us, He is in reality watching over us at every moment with the solicitude of a Father, and that not one hair shall fall from our head without his knowledge and consent.

…we consider the fury of the wind and the tumult of the waves

We all need these assurances of God’s providence and tender watchfulness, for there is no temptation so common, so insidious, so calculated to sap the roots of the spiritual life, as the temptation to diffidence and discouragement. It assumes different shapes in different persons. It may arise from the thought of past failings and sins, or, again, it may be the result of the hardships and sufferings we have to encounter in the life. The subject is too vast to be treated in the course of one conference and we may be content here to deal with the first of these causes of diffidence.

“O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

In the first place, there are many for whom the temptation to diffidence springs from a spirit of disquietude on the score of past sins. They are conscious of the error of their former ways, they recollect periods in their life when they gave themselves up to disorder, they are haunted by the thought of the divine chastisements they have incurred.

It is true that they regret their misdeeds: they have done penance for them: they have had recourse times without number to the Sacraments instituted by Christ for the cleansing of human sin. Nevertheless they are restless, anxious, ill at ease. They rack and torture their conscience as to the integrity of their confessions, or sincerity of their sorrow, and perhaps come to the conclusion that they have never repented as they should, that they cannot shake off the burden that oppresses them, that their case, in short, is desperate beyond redemption.

Feeling restless, anxious, ill at ease

Such a frame of mind is lamentable, and, moreover, is based upon a complete fallacy. It ignores the loving mercy of God which surpasses all our sins, however grievous and numerous they may be. It refuses to take into account the true Fatherhood of God, who knows the clay of which we are formed.

He knoweth our frame and remembereth we are dust (Ps120:14)

He makes allowance for us far beyond all we can imagine, certainly far beyond the allowances we make for one another, even in the case of our best friends. There is a saying that to understand all is to forgive all; and God, whom nothing escapes, does understand us through and through. He it is who searches the reigns and the heart and reads into the depths of our souls more clearly than we ourselves can ever hope to do. He discerns the many motives, both good and evil, which inform our best and our worst actions, the cross-current that distract the soul, the striving as well as the failing, the good intention as well as the miserable failure, the abiding love that persists even after many repeated relapses. He knows that most of our sins are sins of frailty, due to the pressure of temptation and the weakness of our nature. He knows that few of us, and perhaps only rarely, are guilty of the heinous sins, those which in His sight overshadow every defection of the flesh and every indulgence of the senses, inasmuch as they are directed immediately against Him and His infinite perfections.

God, whom nothing escapes, understands us through and through

And here, to make a disgression, it may be observed that there is a scale according to which sins, even mortal sins, may be graded. Many people do not seem to have been clearly educated into recognising the difference in gravity between sin and sin.

There are some who practically restrict mortal sins to those of the flesh. Even when guilty, they will not accuse themselves of sins of disbelief, or of entirely losing heart and confidence in God. And yet the very order in which the Decalogue enumerates the commandments more or less corresponds to the degree of gravity involved in their transgression. The higher and nobler the virtue to which it is opposed the more grievous is the sin.

Are all mortal sins equally grievous?

Now, among the virtues, the highest are unquestionably the theological virtues, faith, hope, and charity, which have for object the Increate Divinity Itself. Accordingly, the most terrible and grievous of all sins are the hatred of God, despair, unbelief, formal heresy, blasphemy, and the like.

In the second rank are to be placed those sins which are opposed to cardinal and moral virtues, first of all to the virtue of justice in regard to God Himself or in regard to His creatures. Injustice as regards God infringes the virtue of Religion, and is more serious if directed against the honour and service due to the Deity immediately. And so as we go down the scale of the virtues the gravity if the sins opposed to them also diminishes.

In the next place, St Thomas, whose teaching we have been following, places sins against the virtue of justice in relation to creatures, a virtue which gives to each its due, whether it be the Church, or State, or family, or our fellow beings. Sins then which are against the Creator, i.e. against Faith, Hope, Charity and the virtue of Religion, are the most grievous of all. Other sins are against the creature and therefore in a different category altogether. There is a gulf between them. Then, last in order, come the virtues of temperance and fortitude, by which we restrain our concupiscible and our irascible proclivities.

When the intellect is clouded and the will is weakened…

It is here, however, that human passion enters, and passion always takes away from the voluntariness of our actions, sometimes more, sometimes less, but on occasion to such an extent that St Thomas allows that it may do away with the entire guilt that would otherwise attach to some objectively evil action.

Wine and women, drink and lechery and other vices on the one hand, and on the other, hatred, anger, revenge, calumny, assault, murder, are no doubt mortal sins, given the necessary conditions – freedom of will, knowledge, and advertence – for gravity; and, moreover, some of these are the most common of all the sins that occur. But they have been described by certain authoritative writers as the least of mortal sins, precisely because they have not God in view directly, and because of the element of emotional passion which they contain, tending to cloud the intellect and to weaken the will. And it is this element which renders it difficult to apportion the guilt, and state which are the most grievous sins, those inspired by sensual love or those resulting from the passion of anger and hatred, the sins of impurity or those of violence and malignity. In any case, it is clear that they stand lowest in the scale as it appears in the sight of God.

To return now to our main subject, it may therefore be that we have often reproached ourselves in the past and held ourselves guilty of a grave transgression: it may even be that our confessors have judged in the same way as we have done, basing themselves, as they necessarily must do, upon what we have told them – and yet in the eyes of the all-seeing God the measure of our iniquity may have been diminished to an extent we cannot gauge.

Mortal or venial sin?

How many of these sins were made venial through lack of that full and entire knowledge and advertence at the time, which are requisite to constitute a deadly offence? How often were we not surprised or betrayed into some temptation when we were off our guard and acted on the spur of the moment without much thought, without much deliberation? How often has it happened that it was after¬†committing a certain act that we have felt anxiety, lest it might prove to be wrongful, when we should have remembered that there can be no more evil in a deed than we apprehended at the moment itself? How often again have we been agitated with a doubt as to the lawfulness of some course of action in our past life, when in reality we had, though perhaps unconsciously, resolved that doubt and “formed our conscience” according to strict theological principles, thereby avoiding any serious guilt. If they go back to their first youth, some may realise now that in sundry directions their views of right and wrong were vitiated from the beginning without much fault on their part, through prejudice, through early education, through the example of others, sometimes even to a certain twist or kink of the mind peculiar to themselves.

Circumstances to be taken into account

Then again, it is impossible for us to surmise how many of our former transgressions have been shorn of their full grievousness because the consent we gave them was not complete and wilful. We may have been negligent or curious, we may have dallied with temptation, played with it, even yielded some sort of half consent, but on all the occasions when we did not let ourselves go altogether, we did not simply lay down our arms and surrender, when we continued to offer some resistance at least, on all these occasions we did not incur the serious imputation of mortal sin.

Perhaps we were engaged in doing what is perfectly lawful up to a certain point, yet one day, more by accident than otherwise, we went beyond and overstepped the mark. Perhaps we were placed in some occasion from which it was difficult to extricate ourselves, and where temptation was powerful and incessant. In all these cases can we suppose that a merciful God did not see and weigh in the scales the difficulty, the goodwill, the effort, though unattended with success at the last?

If any man lose his soul in the end, it will never be because of any act of his committed before his last good and valid confession, or before his last act of perfect contrition.

Many of our failings may thus be less serious than we have imagined. We may dwell too on the confidence we should entertain that the more undoubtedly mortal sins of our past life have been really and truly remitted, never to return, in so much that if any man lose his soul in the end, it will never be because of any act of his committed before his last good and valid confession, or before his last act of perfect contrition. God indeed is a kind and indulgent Father, always “ready and easy to forgive” and “His mercy is above all His works.”

Were it possible for us to choose for ourselves the Judge who should equitably and finally pronounce sentence upon our deeds as we pass out of this world, it would not be, I think, any parent or earthly friend that we should elect, one like ourselves subject to error and misapprehension – it would surely be Our Saviour Himself, for is He not the best friend we have, the one who knows everything concerning us, the good as well as the bad, the pressure of temptation as well as the reluctant fall?

“His mercy is above all His works”

Is He not the one who understands every detail of our actions, and who therefore can make allowance such as none other could; a Judge overflowing with kindness, goodness and love; nay one, we might almost say, who has a personal interest in passing a favourable sentence upon us, for has He not redeemed us at the price of His most precious Blood?

“Who shall accuse against the elect of God?” St Paul asks, and he answers, “God that justifieth. Who is he that shall condemn? Christ Jesus that died, yea that is risen also again, who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us (Rm 8:33-34), the while the Church, at that most solemn moment of our existence, appeals to Him in her prayers for the dying, making that only but most powerful plea, “However much he may have sinned, yet he hath not denied Father and Son and Holy Ghost, but hath believed.”

– From: Lift Up Your Hearts, Christopher J. Wilmot, The Catholic Book Club, London, 1949

 

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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“INEVITABLY GOD’S LOVE MEETS WITH A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF ABUSE”

‘LATER ON, WHEN I’VE HAD MY FUN, I CAN DEPEND UPON GOD TO SAVE ME’

“What should be my parting word? … Obviously, our Lord Himself has already answered that question. ‘Love God,’ He tells us, ‘and love your neighbour as yourself.’

THE NEED FOR TRUST IN GOD

This is the grand, the total view. All theology flows from this, and all religious instruction and exhortation must converge on this.

However, if there is one small area of this over-all mandate which calls for emphasis and re-emphasis, it surely is the need for trust in God, for an unshakeable confidence in His care for us.

TRUST IS ONE OF THE FINEST TRIBUTES OF LOVE WHICH WE CAN OFFER GOD

Trust is one of the finest tributes of love which we can offer God. We know that there is no more touching evidence of a child’s love for his parents, than the absolute confidence with which he raises his eyes to mother or dad. Similarly there is no more expressive act of love which we can show God than figuratively to put our hand in His hand and say, ‘Lead me, God; I know that I am safe with You.’

‘LEAD ME, GOD; I KNOW THAT I AM SAFE WITH YOU’

God wants us with Himself in heaven. Oh how He wants us! Through all the years of our life He surrounds us with His grace, respecting our free will, yet all the while trying to steer us toward Himself. Even when we try to run from Him, His grace still pursues us.

HE NEVER GIVES UP

He never gives up. We sometimes, in oratorical excess, speak of God as having abandoned a sinner to his fate. What we mean by this figure of speech is only that it is possible for a sinner to erect an impenetrable shell of self-love between himself and God. As far as God is concerned, He never gives up as long as there is enough life left in the sinner to whisper, ‘I am sorry, God, I want to love You again.’

Inevitably God’s love meets with a certain amount of abuse. There always will be some who reason, ‘If God loves me so much, then I can do as I please. Later on, when I’ve had my fun, I can depend upon God to save me.’

‘LATER ON, WHEN I’VE HAD MY FUN, I CAN DEPEND UPON GOD TO SAVE ME’

This, as we know, is the sin of presumption. It is the act of beating God over the head with His own gift of love. It is a horribly dangerous attitude. Because, while God’s forgiving love is always at the ready, the presumptuous sinner easily becomes complacent in his sin and loses his capacity to turn back to God.

LOSING ONE’S CAPACITY TO TURN BACK TO GOD

However, for every person who is guilty of presumption there are a thousand of us who sincerely do wish to do God’s will. We try to keep His commandments and to show a decent concern for the needs of our neighbour.

At the same time we are acutely aware of our weakness and imperfection. In life’s hustle and bustle we so easily lose sight of eternal values.

IN LIFE’S HUSTLE AND BUSTLE WE SO EASILY LOSE SIGHT OF ETERNAL VALUES

We are ashamed that our prayers are so sketchy and so full of distractions; ashamed, too, that we so often are unrecollected at Mass. Sometimes the Consecration has passed and we hardly have adverted to the fact that Jesus has reached out to us for an expression of our love and fealty.

We have sworn to be more charitable, and still we have indulged in rash judgements and in harsh criticisms. We resolved to control our temper, yet see how we still flare up at times! We had an opportunity to do a kindness for someone and we let the opportunity pass. We were ‘too busy’, too involved in our own interest.

‘LEAD THOU ME ON!’

It is at such times that we must remind ourselves, ‘God loves me. He knows that I am trying. He also knows that I am weak. In spite of my failures, He will bring me safely through.’

And so, with Cardinal Newman we confess our need: ‘The night is dark and I am far from home’; then raise our eyes with childlike trust as we pray, ‘Lead Thou me on!'”
– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966

 

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“PUT ASIDE ALL EMPTY FEARS, PURSUE YOUR WAY IN PEACE”

THE BEAUTIFUL EVER-NEW LIFE AS A CHRISTIAN (IRRESPECTIVE OF YOUR PHYSICAL AGE)

“You who are just beginning life, and who, like a flower, open out your heart easily, let not the beautiful flower of your frankness be closed by a passing shadow: BE CONFIDING. And you who have already passed through many vicissitudes, you who have tested the fidelity of the world and the sincerity of men, do not shut yourselves up in yourselves, BE CONFIDING.

There are on earth two persons in whom a soul should first of all confide, the mother and the confessor.

Confide in your mother, child, for we know there are secrets which only your mother should know, – they are the secrets of your heart.

How like indeed these two hearts are, when both are pious, and how they understand each other! Confide in your confessor, for there are secrets which only your confessor should know – they are the secrets of your soul.

Lastly, remember that there is in the tabernacle a Friend always ready to greet you. Oh! go to Jesus in the Eucharist! It is His right to know all, pour out at His feet your heart and your soul.

Communicate, yes, communicate often, for Jesus Christ is guidance and strength, support in struggles, a healing balm, which cures our wounds while sanctifying them.

Have confidence then, entire confidence!

Confide in the Hand which guides our lives. Confidence in Him, Who came to save the world, and Whose voice says to us always: ‘Put aside all empty fears, pursue your way in peace!'”
– St Alph., Pious Reflections

 

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“FROM HEAVEN ON HIGH ST JOSEPH LOOKS DOWN WITH PITY ON THOSE WHO ASK FOR HIS PRAYERS”

LET US GO TO JOSEPH WITH FILIAL CONFIDENCE

“When Joseph lived on earth he was endowed with an excellent heart, naturally inclined to compassion and clemency. Now that his charity is perfected in heaven, will he be insensible to our dangers and our miseries? Joseph is our brother; his nature is the same as ours; he has experienced all our trials, and therein lies an additional reason why he should love us, and sympathise with our sufferings.

‘It is because Joseph is the father of all Christians’, says a pious author, ‘that you should address yourself to him with filial confidence.’ Appeal to his charity in all your needs, and you will experience the truth of Saint Teresa’s assurance, that no one, however poor and abandoned, ever raised to him his feeble prayer, without being favourably heard. From Heaven on high he looks down with pity on the unfortunates who invoke him in their sad exile.”
– Annales de S. Joseph

 
 

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WE SHALL BE CAPABLE OF EVERYTHING IN HIM WHO GIVES US STRENGTH THROUGH THE IMMACULATE VIRGIN MARY

BY ST MAXIMILIAN KOLBE

How many times have we heard resigned or even desperate expressions such as: ‘I can’t succeed’, ‘I can’t make it’, ‘I lack the strength’!

Undoubtedly, in the physical field the energies we have are limited: it would be useless for someone to try to lift a weight of a few tons with only one hand. But also in the moral field, we sometimes happen to hear this same lament: I cannot get rid of this fault; I’m too weak to decide to acquire this virtue; this is too much for me!

But is it really true we cannot make it, as we claim?

STRENGTH THROUGH HUMILITY

If we listen to Saint Paul, he expressedly says: “… I have strength for everything!” (Ph 4:13). Still, the complete phrase says: “In him who is the source of my strength… I have strength for everything!” (Ph 4:13). And, “For apart from me,” Jesus himself says, “you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).

And why?

Because if God asks something from us, he surely provides us with the energy we need to carry out his will, on condition that we do not neglect to do our part. We require God’s grace in order to function, and our soul can surely obtain that grace through prayer.

At our disposal there is someone through whom we can easily and surely obtain this: the Mediatrix of all graces. All that is required is that we really accept her and keep always closer to her, that we love her always more ardently in every temptation, difficulty, or trouble, acknowledging her power, her universal mediation next to God, and that we turn to her with total confidence.

Then we too shall be capable of everything, but in him who gives us the strength through the Immaculate.

 

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PRAYER TO JESUS AND MARY

O Jesus living in Mary, come and live in Your servants, in the spirit of Your holiness, in the fullness of Your power, in the perfection of Your ways, and in the truth of Your mysteries. Reign in us over all adverse power through Your Holy Spirit, and for the glory of the Father. Amen.

Mary, I come to you with childlike confidence and earnestly beg you to take me under your powerful protection. Grant me a place in your loving motherly heart. I place my immortal soul into your hands and give you my own poor heart. Amen.

 

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