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ORIGINAL SIN BECOMES TO ME ALMOST AS CERTAIN AS THAT THE WORLD EXISTS

ORIGINAL SIN BECOMES TO ME ALMOST AS CERTAIN AS THAT THE WORLD EXISTS

MAN IS CALLED SO HIGH AND FALLS SO LOW

To consider the world in its length and breadth, its various history, the many races of man, their starts, their fortunes, their mutual alienation, their conflicts… the greatness and littleness of man, his far-reaching aims, his short duration… the prevalence and intensity of sin, the pervading idolatries, the corruptions, the dreary hopeless irreligion – all this is a vision to dizzy and appal; and inflicts on the mind a profound mystery, which is absolutely beyond human solution.

THE HUMAN RACE IS IMPLICATED IN SOME TERRIBLE ABORIGINAL CALAMITY 

What shall be said to this heart-piercing, reason-bewildering fact? I can only answer, that either there is no creator, or this living society of man is in a true sense discarded from his presence… if there is a God, since there is a God, the human race is implicated in some terrible aboriginal calamity. It is out of joint with the purpose of its creator. This is a fact, a fact as true as the fact of its existence; and thus the doctrine of what is theologically called original sin becomes to me almost as certain as that the world exists, and as the existence of God.

– Bl. John Henry Newman; Man is called so high and falls so low. Apo., 241-43

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2019 in Words of Wisdom

 

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GOD WAS PLEASED TO TAKE HUMAN FLESH OF A WOMAN

GOD WAS PLEASED TO TAKE HUMAN FLESH OF A WOMAN

To show his love for us, to bring to nothing the wisdom of men, God was pleased to take human flesh of a woman, of a virgin, that he might restore like by like, heal opposite by opposite, pluck out the poisonous thorn, blot out effectively the handwriting of sin.

EVE WAS A THORN, MARY A ROSE

Eve was a thorn, Mary a rose. Eve was a thorn that wounded; Mary a rose, soothing the passions. Eve was a thorn fastening death upon all; Mary a rose restoring all to the heritage of salvation. Mary was a rose, white in her virginity, red in her love; white in her flesh, red in her mind; white as she walked the path of virtue, red in trampling upon vice; white in the purification of her affection, red in the mortification of her flesh; white in her love of God, red in her compassion for her neighbour.

– Sermon on Our Lady by St Bernard, Abbot; from: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2019 in Words of Wisdom

 

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THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

An awed silence fell over the throng that had gathered in St Peter’s for this history-making ceremony. The tall stately Pope Pius IX had just celebrated Mass at the great main altar. Now he was stepping forward to read his proclamation. Tears of joy glistened in his eyes. In a voice loud and clear but ringing with emotion, he read: “We declare, affirm and define that the doctrine which states that the Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved and exempted from all stain of original sin from the first instant of her conception in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all mankind, is a doctrine revealed of God and which, for this reason, all Christians are bound to believe firmly and with confidence…”

As he reached the end, his voice broke and tears ran unchecked down his cheeks.

Forty-thousand voices sang the hymn Te Deum Laudamus. The dome of Michelangelo resounded with the triumphant notes. The bells of Rome’s churches rang joyously. That night, Rome was ablaze with light.

This happened on December 8, 1854.

A DOCTRINE REVEALED OF GOD

For centuries, millions of Catholics had believed that the Mother of God had been conceived without the stain of original sin; anything else would have been unthinkable. But the Holy Ghost had reserved the solemn definition for modern times. Our Lady had told Venerable Dominic of Jesus and Mary, a Carmelite who had lived at the time of St Louis Marie de Montfort, that the promulgation was “saved for the latter days of the Church.” This was part of the divine plan, foretold by St Louis Marie, to make our Lady more known, more loved and more honoured in our time than she had ever been before. The Blessed Mother herself had paved the way for the proclamation in 1830 when, to Catherine Laboure, she had called herself “Mary conceived without sin.”

MARY CONCEIVED WITHOUT SIN

The doctrine was an especially appropriate one for the nineteenth century. The great heresy of the day – which has persisted into our own time – was man’s elevating himself to equality with God. The Immaculate Conception reminds us that only Mary, of all human creatures, was conceived without the stain of original sin. All the rest of us came into the world with this mark on our souls. As a result of this sin, we are weak and inclined towards evil. Only God’s help will keep us on the road to salvation. We are absolutely dependent on God.

As the Blessed Virgin was intensifying her campaign, so was the devil. This very city of Rome, which was outdoing itself to honour the great Mother of God, had, just six years before, been the scene of the wildest disorders. They had been directed principally at Pope Pius IX, Christ’s vicar on earth.

WE ARE ABSOLUTELY DEPENDENT ON GOD

In those days the Pope, besides being the head of the Universal Church, was a king. He ruled a country known as the Papal States, and Rome was its capital. In the city there were many “liberals” who opposed the rule of the Pontiff on the pretence that they were in favour of a democracy. Actually, they hated the Church, and they knew no better way of fighting it than by attacking its visible head.

Riot followed riot. The revolutionaries managed to get control of the civic guard, so the Pope was powerless to stop the riots. Events reached a climax in November, 1848. On the 15th, a group of conspirators stabbed to death the Pope’s Prime Minister, Count Pellegrino Rossi. The mob celebrated the murder by carrying the bloody knife triumphantly through the streets. It was even carried to the home of the widow who was alone with her daughter.

Later that night, the mob marched to the Papal Palace. Shots were fired, and some found their mark. Several people were wounded. Monsignor Palace, the Pope’s secretary, was shot dead.

On November 24, 1848, the Pope was forced to flee from Rome. The city was left in the hands of the “liberals,” the men who were “to usher in a new era for mankind, the glorious era of a redemption far different from that announced by Christ.”

ONLY GOD’S HELP WILL KEEP US ON THE ROAD TO SALVATION

It was different all right – horribly different. Under the “Roman Republic,” freedom of the press and freedom of speech were rigidly suppressed. Taxes were increased. All bank deposits, all gold, silver and jewellery were confiscated, as was all the property belonging to the Church. People were thrown into jail without trial. The Minister of Finance requisitioned all hospitals, orphan asylums and other charitable institutions. The inmates were turned into the streets.

In 1830, our Lady had struck in the heart of the enemy territory – Paris. Now, eighteen years later, the devil had struck at the city which was the capital of Christ’s Church – Rome. As things are usually judged in this world, the devil seemed to have the better of it.

MARY HAD APPEARED TO A HUMBLE LITTLE POSTULANT

Mary had appeared in the quiet of the night to a humble little postulant in a convent chapel. So far as anyone could tell at the time, she had had no effect at all on the city or the world. The enemies of religion, on the other hand, were in complete control of Rome. The Holy Eucharist was defiled in public ceremonies. But this control did not last long.

Louis Napoleon, nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, had become head of the French government. He decided to help Pius IX, who was in exile at Gaeta. A French army marched against Rome, and the “republic” fell on June 30, 1849. The Pope returned to the city on April 12, 1850.

His return did not mean the end of his troubles. He was kept in power only by Louis Napoleon, who was ready to sacrifice him the moment he could gain thereby. Rome was still filled with “liberals” who were ready to repeat their revolution of 1848. King Victor Emmanuel of Piedmont and his crafty premier, Cavour, were campaigning for a united Italy with Rome as its capital. Most people were sure that eventually they would be successful. In addition to the troubles in Rome, there was scarcely a country in the world where the rights of the Church were not being infringed upon. Switzerland, Russia and Prussia were especially violent in their persecutions.

With the Church beset on all sides, there were many who freely predicted that its days were numbered. It was not possible, these people said, for any institution to withstand so many attacks coming from so many quarters at the same time.

THE GATES OF HELL WILL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST CHRIST’S CHURCH 

From a strictly material viewpoint, these people were right. But they forgot Christ’s promise that He would remain with His Church always and that the gates of hell should not prevail against her. They forgot – or did not know – that “Mary must be terrible to the devil and his crew, as an angel ranged in battle, principally in these latter times.

In the midst of all her troubles, the Church had one of her most glorious moments, when Pius IX proclaimed the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Less than four years after the proclamation, Pope Pius IX was to learn with joy that our Lady had appeared at Lourdes and had put what seemed to be the seal of approval on his action by saying, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

– From: “The Woman Shall Conquer” by Don Sharkey, Prow Books/Franciscan Marytown Press, Libertyville, IL, 1954

 

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2019 in Words of Wisdom

 

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O STAINLESS MOTHER OF THE LORD (HYMN)

O stainless Mother of the Lord,

While we thy glory chant,

A gracious ear to us accord

And heavenly favour grant.

 

A sad inheritance we own –

In guilt our lives begin:

Exempt from Adam’s fall alone,

Thou never knewest sin.

 

Prone on the earth beneath thy heel

The serpent’s head remained;

Thou only dost to heaven reveal;

An origin unstained.

 

Do thou whose glory takes away

The shame of Mother Eve,

Accept the tribute that we pay

And all our wants relieve.

 

From Satan’s every dart and snare

Our weakened soul defend,

That so thy glory we may share

In joys that never end.

 

All honour, laud, and glory be,

O Jesu, Virgin-born, to thee;

All glory, as is ever meet,

To Father and to Paraclete. Amen.

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2016 in Prayers to Our Lady

 

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THE DEVIL IS NOT TOSSING FLOWERS AT US, BUT FLAMING ARROWS

Christian life is a daily battle against the Devil

“Christian life is a constant battle against the Devil, who really exists and is not the stuff of legend, Pope Francis said in a homily last week.

The battle is not easy, because the Evil One’s traps and temptations are many, and ‘the Devil is not tossing flowers at us’, but ‘flaming arrows’ aimed to kill, the Pope said at a morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.

There are three ‘enemies of Christian life’, Pope Francis said: ‘The Devil, the world and the flesh’, in other words, the carnal passions that are ‘the wounds of Original Sin’.

‘But this generation, and many others, made people think that the Devil was a myth, a character, an idea, the concept of evil,’ the Pope said, according to Vatican Radio.

‘The Devil exists and we have to fight against him. Paul says so – I’m not the one saying it. The word of God says it,’ the Pope added, referring to the day’s reading from St Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians (6:10-20), which calls on believers to ‘stand firm against the tactics of the Devil’.

Even believers ‘are not too convinced’ the Devil exists, he said, or else ‘we are a bit lazy in the fight and we let ourselves be led by our passions, by temptations. It’s because we are sinners – all of us… However, do not be discouraged. [Have] courage and strength because the Lord is with us’ and supplies all we need for battle, the Pope said.

Because the Devil is ‘the father of lies, the father of deception’, Christians must arm themselves with the ‘armour of God – the truth’.

Earlier in the week hundreds of exorcists gathered in Rome for a convention organised by the International Association of Exorcists. In a message Francis said their work showed the Church’s care for ‘those who suffer because of the work of the Devil’.”

– This article was published in the Catholic Herald newspaper, issue November 7 2014. For subscriptions please visit http://www.catholicherald.co.uk (external link).

 
 

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HUMANS CANNOT EARN THEIR OWN SALVATION BY THEIR OWN EFFORTS – ST AURELIUS

ST AURELIUS, MEMORIAL: JULY 20th

On “20th July, one of the saints remembered by the Church is St Aurelius. In the late fourth century he was ordained Bishop of Carthage, which today is in Tunisia. At that time there were two heresies which needed to be countered and St Aurelius played a significant part in promulgating what was true Catholic teaching. These heresies, and then Catholic teaching, are summarised below:

Donatism

The first heresy was Donatism. This heresy had implications both for the sacrament of confession and the other sacraments in general. Donatists believed that the sacrament of confession could not reconcile certain sinners back into full communion with the Church. This was in the context of certain clerics having previously gone against the Church during times of persecution. The Donatists had a rigorist position against them returning to the Church. The other belief of the Donatists which needed to be countered was their insistence that by sinful acts priests made themselves unable to celebrate valid sacraments. St Aurelius proclaimed the truth of the Catholic Faith that the sacrament of confession was precisely for everyone who repented and that there was a way back to full communion with the Church.

Also that the validity of any sacrament depended on the holiness of God, the priest being a mere instrument of God’s work. So any priest, even one in a state of sin, who speaks the formula of the sacrament with valid matter, as laid down by the Church, and with the intent of causing the sacrament to occur, acts validly. For example, a Catholic who receives the Eucharist from the hands of a priest, even if he has sinned, still receives Christ’s Body and Blood, their own sacramental life being undamaged by the priest’s sins.

Pelagianism

The other heresy to be countered was that of Pelagianism. This taught that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will was still capable of choosing good or evil without God’s help. Human will alone was sufficient to live a sinless life and that human beings can earn their own salvation by their own efforts.

The Council of Carthage at that time corrected these errors. The statements include the teaching that death did not come to Adam from a physical necessity, but through sin; newborn babies must be baptised on account of original sin; justifying grace not only avails for the forgiveness of past sins, but also gives assistance for the avoidance of future sins; without God’s grace it is not merely more difficult, but impossible to perform good works; not out of humility, but in truth we must confess ourselves to be sinners.

St Aurelius became a good friend of St Augustine of Hippo and the two of them, in writing and spoken word, actively confronted the teachings and tactics of these heretics. St Aurelius died in the year 430.”

From: “Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris”/2015

 

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“WHY IS THERE MORE JOY IN HEAVEN FOR ONE MAN WHO REPENTS THAN FOR 99 JUST PERSONS WHO NEED NO REPENTANCE? THIS MAKES NO SENSE TO ME.”

ANSWER: “The parables of Jesus usually have a moral lesson for us when read simply and literally, and a spiritual lesson when read as dramatic illustrations of how Christ fulfilled the Old Testament and brought us salvation. Since Our Lord Himself used the scriptures in this way, the Fathers of the Church followed His example.

The Pharisees knew of the mercy of God for His people: Jesus teaches that the repentance of the sinner is not simply an occasion for relief, but for overflowing joy. Immediately after the parable of the lost sheep, Our Lord tells of the woman who found the coin she had lost. She naturally rejoiced over that coin rather than the others. The point is developed further in the parable of the Prodigal Son, in which the grumbling of the older brother serves as a warning to those who begrudge the generosity of God who will pay the last-hired labourers in the vineyard as much as he pays the first.

The allegorical interpretation of the lost sheep sees Christ as the Good Shepherd, fulfilling the prophecy of Ezekiel 34 in which God identifies Himself as the shepherd who searches for the sheep who have strayed. The lost sheep, representing all humanity, is Adam who has fallen. The Good Shepherd went into the wilderness by becoming incarnate in a sinful world, and then carried the lost sheep home by taking the cross on his shoulders. In this reading of the parable, we are all part of the lost sheep, as members of the fallen race of Adam, and the joy of the virtuous is the rejoicing of heaven in the salvation of mankind.

Our Lord’s parables invite us to prayerful meditation and call us not simply to have an opinion but to change our lives. In the case of the lost sheep, the proper response is sincere repentance for our sins, encouraged by the generosity of Our Lord and the joy of heaven at our salvation.”
– This article by Fr Tim Finigan was published as part of the feature “Catholic Dilemmas” in “The Catholic Herald” issue August 1 2014. For subscriptions please visit http://www.catholicherald.co.uk (external link).

 
 

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