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Tag Archives: serenity

TRUST IN GOD GIVES US INNER STRENGTH AND A FUNDAMENTAL TRANQUILLITY

The antidote to fear

“‘Do not be afraid.’ These were the reassuring words of Jesus to Peter, James and John as they groveled on the ground at the sight of His transfiguration. They were frightened to find themselves on such intimate terms with divinity.

Our Lord’s words had a much wider range, however, than the disciples’ present moment of confusion. Very soon Jesus would die in disgrace, apparently helpless to defend Himself. The apostles (Judas excepted) would survive this test of their faith, but then they themselves would become the victims of persecution. There would be times when every man’s hand would seem to be set against them. In the end they would be faced with the choice of denying Christ or suffering violent death.

It undoubtedly was with all this in mind that Jesus said, ‘Do not be afraid.’ They had seen His glory. They would remember Tabor. They would know that Jesus was with them through all their trials.

‘Do not be afraid.’ It is the constant remembrance of this admonition which will give serenity to our own lives.

Come to Me, all you who labour and are burdened

God loves us. Unceasingly we have His attention, His whole attention, His concerned attention. There is not a thing which happens to us of which God does not take note. Time and again in the Gospels our Lord tries to inspire our confidence in this loving care which He has for us.

‘Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?’ He reminds us. ‘And yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s leave… Therefore do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.’ Then there is the beautiful parable of the lilies of the field whose raiment exceeds in beauty the robes of Solomon, and Jesus’ conclusion: ‘How much more you, O you of little faith!’

From His quiet invitation, ‘Come to Me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest,’ to His majestic, ‘Behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world,’ Jesus keeps appealing for our trust.

Situations which test our confidence in God

We might be tempted to think that our Lord has been unduly repetitious in this matter, except for our own experience. Shamefacedly we have to admit that we still forget His assurances, still burn up an untold amount of nervous energy in unprofitable worry.

All of us are faced, and faced frequently, with situations which test our confidence in God. Some of these anxiety-producers are small ones, others are of major proportion. ‘I really should attend that funeral tomorrow, but if I do how shall I get my washing done?’ ‘I have to give a speech at the meeting and I’m frightened to death. What shall I say?’

‘I studied so hard for that exam, and still I flunked it.’ ‘The bills keep piling up. How shall we ever get out of debt?’ ‘If the diagnosis is cancer, how shall I ever bear it? And what will become of my family?’ ‘If I had taken the baby to the doctor sooner, I’m sure she wouldn’t have died.’

Out of all that happens to me God is going to bring good

In these and a million other worries and regrets, there are a few basic facts which we have to keep repeating to ourselves, over and over. God does love me. God does know and God does care what happens to me. Whatever happens to me (my own sins excepted) is God’s permissive will, is part of God’s plan for me and for those who depend on me. Even my mistakes, my well-intentioned mistakes, are a part of His plan.

Out of all that happens to me God is going to bring good; otherwise He would not let it happen. God knows my weaknesses and makes generous allowance for them. All that He asks is that I do my best, however inadequate that best may sometimes seem. When I have done my best, whether the result is success or failure, I can leave it to God to work it into His plan for me. Finally, I can never, never lose when I choose to do God’s will as I see it, no matter what human wisdom may dictate to the contrary.

Inner strength and tranquillity

We must be realistic. Trust in God will not stifle sorrow. It will not eliminate disappointment. It will not still all apprehension. Our emotions are not easily controlled. But trust in God will give us an inner strength and a fundamental tranquillity. Trust in God will keep us from defeatism and despair.”

– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966

 

 

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THE SECRET OF ATTAINING INTERIOR PEACE AND SERENITY EXPLAINED STEP BY STEP

“TO KNOW ONESELF IS THE KNOWLEDGE OF ALL KNOWLEDGE”

÷ HIGHER SPIRITUALITY ÷

÷ THE KEY TO INTERIOR PEACE ÷

÷ THE KNOWLEDGE OF ALL KNOWLEDGE ÷

“To know oneself is the knowledge of all knowledge and there are two cognitions which help the soul to know itself: the first is active, the second is passive. That which is active is the consideration of one’s nothingness before creation: one is to consider that they are worse than nothing due to their past and present sins. That which is passive is inspired by divine illustrations from the Lord, and this is the awareness of His divine Being, which absorbs into Itself our being.

O HOLY AND SACROSANCT HUMILITY!

O holy and sacrosanct humility! Blessed, and a thousand times blessed, that soul, which is adorned with this virtue: she is a true delight of God. But, O God! How rare is this humility and in how few does she dwell, because when we say true humility, we say also true ‘stripping’ of self love, destruction of pride and – in its stead – love of sufferings, scorn, injuries and disgrace; there is no scorn nor suffering which the humble soul does not desire, if she is truly humble.

WE ARE NOTHING

Basing our foundations on this great truth, revealed to us by our holy faith, that is, that we are nothing, that we are worthless, that we can do nothing and that at every moment we can be reduced to nothing if God sustains us not; and if, by chance, there is something good in us, it is not ours, but God’s, which in His goodness He grants to us.

THE KEY TO INTERIOR PEACE

Upon this truth understood well and practised on every occasion, we will live continuously in a great interior peace: because nothingness never resents, nor responds; rather it permits itself to be trampled upon, pushed around, insulted all the time, on every occasion, in every place, by all and by each one individually, not only by those who are superior to us but by those who are inferior, according to their inclination and when they please.

ALL THE SANCTITY OF A SOUL

Upon this truth well understood and better still practised, God bases all the sanctity of a soul. Solitude, silence, recollection help us to know ourselves and our wretchedness very well: we will therefore never spend time uselessly, so that we will be able diligently to attain such a great treasure, loving all the occasions of contempt, both interior and exterior.

ENTERING IMMEDIATELY INTO THE MOST BLESSED KINGDOM

By interior I mean: when the Lord leaves the soul so arid and desolate, that it knows not where to turn, full of wearisomeness and of regrets, surrounded by diabolical temptations, which it generously resists, but it fears within itself that it will not do what it must and is obliged to do; it experiences such a general nausea of all things, that it is necessary to do violence to itself in order to fulfil them, and this is followed by many other sufferings and afflictions, that only he who suffers in this way would know their number and measure. These are the obscure ways in which divine Wisdom places predilect souls in order to purify them as the purest of gold in the crucible of the fire of many sufferings, so that purified, they may be able, at the point of death, to enter immediately into the most blessed kingdom; indeed, they will not wait for the Lord until their death, because after having purged them in His own way, He unites them to Himself in such an intimate manner that they experience an anticipation of Paradise on earth.

The exterior occasions are abandonment by creatures, in being despised by them, bodily pains and infirmities and every misery that the human life obliges us to suffer. Even these things help us to know the stuff of which we are made and for this reason we love them and value their great worth.

GROUND YOURSELF IN YOUR NOTHINGNESS AND NOTHING ELSE

I would like, then, for you to consider yourself to be useless at all things, being amazed at being asked to fulfil some obedience, because in reality, you are good for nothing. Believe this and understand very well this truth: ground yourself in your nothingness and nothing else. Desire nothing in religion except to be forgotten and left in a corner. Present yourself to the Lord thus annihilated and He will welcome you as His dearest daughter and will present you to His divine Father, saying these most sweet words: ‘Volo, Pater, ut ubi ego sum sint et ancillae meae,’ that is: ‘I want, O Father, that where I am, there will be also these my servants, who here upon earth have been hidden from all creatures, almost as if they were nothing; here in Heaven, I want them to be loved and known.’ And turning to the blessed spirits it seems as if He says to them: ‘You see there, in that small corner of the earth, these my faithful servants sequestered and buried in the most humble estimation of themselves; they are very dear to me, however, because they are imitators of the hidden life which I lived upon earth. Love them, therefore, because they love Me and set them here amongst us on a noble throne.’ Thus says the Lord and it seems that the humble soul hears it and in a certain way can doubt it not; and therefore it desires to hide itself still more, finding in this hiddenness, its Paradise.”
– Bl. Mary Magdalene Martinengo. This article was published under the title “The knowledge of all knowledge” in “De Vita Contemplativa” (Monthly magazine for monasteries), Year VII – Number 6, June 2013.

 
 

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FIND IN YOUR TRIALS THE SOURCE OF YOUR CONFIDENCE

“Although present adversities seem as though they would tear from the roots the budding plant of our Institute, be assured that on the contrary they will serve to strengthen it, at the same time refining your virtue and augmenting your knowledge.

Take heart, then, and esteem yourself very fortunate to be tried by different temptations, for the test of your faith is more precious than all the wealth of the world.

Do not allow yourself to be troubled or discouraged by contradictions, whatever their nature, but rejoice and hope; find in your trials the source of your confidence, and consider that they are the best pledge of your final perseverance. The sky will not fall for some time yet, nor these fierce attacks overthrow our Institute.

All these things are merely so many venemous insects: the more they strive to trouble us, the less I am troubled; the greater the peril, the less I am concerned, strong as I am in the strength of the Holy Ghost, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
– Ven. Barth. Holzhauser

 

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“THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS LIKE TO LEAVEN WHICH A WOMAN TOOK…” (Mt 13:33)

“‘The kingdom of heaven is like to leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened’ (Matthew 13:33).

QUALITIES VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE

The Church, the kingdom which Jesus established in the world for the salvation of men, is endowed with many qualities, some visible and some invisible. It is visible in its hierarchy, in the distinction which exists between the Pope, bishops and priests and laity: the Pope, bishops and priests who teach the message of Jesus to the world and administer the sacraments whereby the grace of Jesus is communicated to men; and the laity who receive and believe the message and accept the sacraments whereby they are saved. But the Church is invisible in the grace which it communicates to men. The sacraments which communicate grace to men can be perceived by the senses of men, but the grace which they impart, since it is a share in the very life of God Himself, is as invisible as the divine life. Thus it is that the Church, which is a visible organism, visible in its hierarchy and its membership in this world, visible in the preaching and professing of the Gospel, visible in its sacraments and divine worship, is also through the grace it imparts invisible like leaven hidden in flour. The hidden leaven, however, does produce a visible effect: the loaf of bread into which it raises and expands the flour. Similarly the grace of God, which is the life of the Kingdom of Jesus, though it produces chiefly a spiritual invisible effect, also produces visible effects in the world of men, a raising and an expansion of the knowledge and the conduct of men. It is this latter effect of the life of the kingdom on the life of the world that we shall now briefly consider.

THE EFFECT OF THE LIFE OF THE KINGDOM ON THE LIFE OF THE WORLD

In the first place the Kingdom of God on earth, through the action of the Holy Spirit, thhe source of life, has raised the minds of men from ignorance to truth. It is through faith, the power to believe which the Holy Spirit gives to men, that men know the basic truths which explain the meaning of existence. Moved and guided by the Holy Spirit, the Church teaches men that there is one supreme God, Whose life is so intense that it is shared in its ineffable unity by three divine Persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This Triune God is absolute, infinite Love, and from the generosity of this Love there flows the creative act whereby God creates the world, gives existence to all that has been, is or will be. In this same infinite generosity God calls His intellectual creatures, angels and men who are created in His own image and likeness, to share most intimately in His own Trinitarian life, to live as children and friends with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. But this call is to be answered freely by angels and men, for God has generously given them the freat gift and power of individual freedom.

TO CONVEY THIS GRACE TO MEN, JESUS CHRIST ESTABLISHED HIS KINGDOM ON EARTH, HIS CHURCH, THE ONE, HOLY, ROMAN, CATHOLIC CHURCH

Unfortunately some of the angels, through pride, rejected the divine call and have been condemned forever to the loss of the promised vision of God, a loss which is the principal element of the hell to which they have been condemned. One of them, their leader Satan, moved by the hatred and envy of good which sin engenders, seduced Adam and Eve, the first human beings. In Adam and Eve the whole human race lost the divine grace which would have ultimately brought all men to the blessed vision of God. But God, because of His infinite love and mercy for men, determined to give men another chance. In the fullness of time He sent His own Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, to save men. The Son of God became man, incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary, who thus became the Mother of God. This incarnate God, known in human history as Jesus the Christ, both Son of God and Son of Mary, gave to the world the message of hope and salvation whereby men are freed from ignorance of their own destiny, of the true meaning of their existence. By His saving death on the Cross, a death which He offered freely to His Father as a payment for the sins of men, He won from the Father the return of divine grace to men, the grace which enables men to share in the life of God in this present world and to grow into the vision of God which is their true destiny after death. To convey this grace to men, to inform men of the divine message of hope and salvation, Jesus established His kingdom, His Church, the One, Holy, Roman, Catholic Church [Mt 16:18]. The Church exists in the world as a visible sign of God’s call to men to share in His divine life [Mt 5:14-16;17-18], to escape from the monotonous, frustrating misery to which mankind is bound if it will not answer the call of God’s love. It is in and through the Church, in union with Christ, Who is the Head of His Body [Col 1:18; 1 Cor 12:12], which is the Church, that men offer to God the one true sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus [Mk 14:22-24; 1 Cor 10:16]. It is by uniting themselves with the sacrifice of the Body and the Blood of Jesus on the Cross, a sacrifice which is perpetually re-presented to God and to the world in the sacrifice of the Mass, that men offer to God the worship of adoration, thanksgiving, petition and reparation for sin which is alone pleasing to God. It is through the Mass and the sacraments, whose efficacy stems from the Cross, that God blesses man’s worship with the gift of His grace, molding men into the likeness of Jesus, His well-beloved Son, so that through this likeness they may be acceptable to God and may share in His life.

DOWN THROUGH THE AGES OF TIME THE CHURCH BRINGS THE MESSAGE OF JESUS CHRIST AND THESE MEANS OF SALVATION

Down through the ages of time, such time as it is still allotted to man, the Church will bring this message and these means of salvation. If men will heed the divine call and live in God’s grace, they will be rewarded with the vision of God, in which man’s true happiness is alone found, and at the end of time they will rise gloriously from the tomb to live forever even in the body. If they will not heed the call or remain faithful to it in God’s grace, at death they will forfeit forever the vision of God and at the end they will rise ingloriously in the body to suffer eternally even in the body.

THOSE WHO HEED THE CALL OF JESUS CHRIST SHARE IN HIS DIVINE LIFE

Those who heed the call of Jesus and enter into His kingdom in this world form with Him one Body, His Church. They live with Him, in Him and by Him. The bond of their union with Him is not only the external profession of faith by which they give their allegiance to Him and to His message but it is also the invisible bond of grace and charity by which they share in His divine life and by which they live in union with Him, with His Father and His Holy Spirit, and with one another in the Communion of Saints, which is His Church.

THE FINAL RESULT OF THAT LEAVENING ACTION WHICH THE CHURCH, THE KINGDOM OF GOD, IS NOW EXERCISING

At the end of time Jesus, the Son of God to Whom God the Father has given all judgment, will come with His angels and His Apostles to judge all men. When by His judgment the good have been separated from the wicked, then will all men see the true final dimensions of His kingdom. Then will all men and angels see the final result of that leavening action which the Church, the Kingdom of God, is now exercising, partly visibly and partly invisibly, in this present world.

LIVING SERENELY IN THE MIDST OF THE BEWILDERING AND FRUSTRATING COMPLEXITIES OF SINFUL HUMAN HISTORY

This, all too briefly and inadequately, is a summary of the great truths which God reveals to the world in and through His Church, His kingdom on earth. Those who receive it humbly and lovingly in faith are enriched intellectually, immeasurably beyond those who will not accept it. Through the revealed word and the incarnate Word of God they have learned the secrets of the innermost core of being, of existence. Though they live in the midst of the bewildering and frustrating complexities of sinful human history, they know, in faith, that beneath all apparent contradictions and beyond all hopelessness there lies the one Truth and Love which is God, the foundation of hope. In the golden age which flourishes in each civilisation which comes to be in human history, they are not so beguiled by the beauty and perfection of the world man has made as to forsake the God Who is the Author of man’s perfection. In times of barbarity and decadence, such as come at the decline of all purely human civilisations, they are not so disheartened as to hate and reject, or to hopelessness and despair. Armed with the saving Truth of God, with the knowledge of the hope-engendering Love of God, the member of Christ’s kingdom lives serenely in the midst of the calm or the turbulence of human history, knowing that the God Who underlies and permeates all history will in His own good time manifest the meaning of it all.

THE CHURCH IN THE WORLD

The Church, of course, is primarily interested in transmitting to men the knowledge of the divine revelation which Jesus, her Founder and Head, has entrusted to her. But, as a kingdom founded on universal charity, on love for all men and for all that is truly human, she has in the course of history interested herself in the discovery and transmission of all true knowledge.

In the beginning, as was natural, her interest was chiefly in theology, the application of human reason to the proper understanding of divine revelation and of the Sacred Scriptures (the Bible) in which the story of God’s revelation is contained.

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH COMPILED AND TRANSMITTED THE BIBLE

In the case of Sacred Scripture it is the Church herself who preserved these inspired books for the world. As early as 382 A.D. A Council of Rome under Pope Damasus drew up the list of the books of the Old and the New Testaments. The list was reaffirmed by the third Council of Carthage in 397, by Pope Innocent I in 405 and by Pope Gelasius I in 495. It was not until 1546 at the Council of Trent that the Church, faced with the attempts of some of the ‘Reformers’ to remove from the Bible texts which could not be reconciled with their new doctrines (Luther [threw out books ‘clashing’ with his brand new doctrine including] the Epistle of St James which said, ‘So also, faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself,’ a statement which contradicted Luther’s teaching that faith alone was necessary for salvation), reaffirmed both the divine inspiration of the Bible and the list of books of the Bible which the Church had accepted from the beginning.

A FULLER UNDERSTANDING

The first traces of this effort can be seen in the works of the early Christian apologists, especially Justin the Martyr and Tertullian. Justin, a pagan philosopher converted to Christianity, sought, even if not quite correctly, to show that the human wisdom of the pagans had been anticipated by and even perhaps drawn from the divine reveltions contained in the Bible. Tertullian, with a mind more legal than philosophical, sought to give more precision to the terms in which the Christian mysteries were to be affirmed. In the middle of the second century A.D. We find a theological school functioning at Alexandria in Egypt, a famous centre of Greek and Jewish learning. In the middle of the third century a new theological school was founded at Antioch. From this time on, the Church has never lacked schools of theology and theologians. Before the breakdown of the Roman Empire the Church had produced the enduring theological works of the Great Cappadocians, Basil the Great, Gregory Nazianzen and Gregory of Nyssa, and in the Western Church the powerful theological understanding manifested in the works of the great St Augustine, Bishop of Hippo in Africa.

LEARNING AND EDUCATION IN THE MONASTERIES

Even after the collapse of the empire in the face of the barbarian invasions of Europe and Africa, and in spite of the disruption of the Christian world by the Mohammedan conquests, ecclesiastical study and learning did not cease. Christian monks, especially the Benedictines, a monastic order founded at Monte Cassino in 529 by St Benedict, preserved in their monasteries copies of the books of the Bible, of the works of the Christian apologists and theologians, and even the works of pagan writers. They conducted schools for the education of the young and the training of clerics for the service of the Church and the civil authorities. In the seventh century Irish monks conducted schools in Ireland and sent teachers to the Continent to conduct schools there. Under the great Emperor Charlemagne a nnew impetus was given to learning by the founding of his famed Palace School under the guidance of a group of scholars drawn from all Europe. During the Carolingian Renaissance under the successors of Charlemagne interest in learning increased. The study of theology was furthered by the reintroduction of the use of Aristotele’s Logic. A new interest in classical Latin literature led even to a revival of works of poetry.

A GREAT SYNTHESIS OF ALL THEOLOGICAL LEARNING

By the twelfth century theologians were well on their way to a great synthesis of all theological learning. Peter Lombard composed his ‘Four Books of Sentences,’ in which he tried, with great success, to organise systematically all theology. Efforts such as this came to greater success in the thirteenth century, especially in the masterful Summa theologiae of St Thomas Aquinas, a theological synthesis whose influence has lasted until the present time.

MODERN ERRORS, RELATIVISM & CO.

After the Golden Age of Scholasticism (as it came to be called) in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, theology and philosophy declined in quality until the attacks of the ‘Reformers’ on the authority of the Church brought on a revival. At first, as circumstances dictated, the efforts of theologians. Were devoted to a defence of the Church as God’s mouthpiece in the world. But a more serious danger soon threatened the leavening action of the Church in the world. Under influence of the philosophical errors of Descartes, Locke, Hume and Kant, philosophy was corrupted and fell into the decadence of relativism, the theory that since nothing is absolutely true then anything and everything, even contradictory propositions and contradictory religious doctrines, can be simultaneously true. Moreover (according to relativist theory), since contradictory views can both be true, even in matters of religion, there can be no exclusively true divine revelation recognisable as such. According to this view then all religions are equally true or none is true, and since (as they say) there can be no rational justification of any particular religion, the ultimate foundation of any religion would have to be purely subjective and emotional.

ETERNAL TRUTHS

This is the modern religious error which the Church, the teacher of mankind, faces. Against it the Church at the Vatican Council reaffirmed its belief in the power of the human mind to discover the existence of God and to recognise as divine the revelation which the Church is divinely commissioned to teach to the world. This particular struggle is not yet over; the Pope and bishops and the philosophers and theologians of the Church are still labouring to effect a reconciliation of the spirit of the times with the eternal truths of God’s revelation.

THE CHURCH INITIATED EDUCATION FOR THE COMMON PEOPLE, A THING HITHERTO UNHEARD OF

As we have already suggested, the Church has not only fostered the pursuit of theological knowledge. She has also preserved and promoted general knowledge. The classical works of paganism, literary, historical, scientific, philosophical and theological, were preserved by the Church through the so-called Dark Ages of medieval Europe. They were learned and taught in conjunction with religious knowledge. Though for centuries learning was the privilege of the nobility or of the wealthy, the Church was always interested in the instruction of the poor. For centuries clerics of the Church were among the most learned men of their times, and the Church was always solicitous to give clerical training to the children of the poor. The great medieval universities (such as the Sorbonne at Paris and Oxford) were founded under the aegis of the Church and staffed by clerics of the Church. The Council of Trent in the sixteenth century urged the foundation of elementary schools. Great teaching orders, such as the Jesuits, the congregations of teaching brothers and sisters, have been founded to give the benefits of education to all. Like her Master, Jesus, the Church strives to bring to all men the truth which will make them free.

LIKE HER MASTER, JESUS, THE CHURCH STRIVES TO BRING TO ALL MEN THE TRUTH WHICH WILL MAKE THEM FREE

The leavening work of the Church has not been restricted to the field of knowledge. Through her influence and example the moral tone of mankind has also been elevated. In the pagan and corrupt world in which the Church was born, she appeared as the champion of a highly elevated moral code. She reprobated not only sinful external actions but even sinful internal desires and decisions. Not only was adultery forbidden, for example, but even the sinful lusting of the heart after forbidden impurities. Not only was chastity in marriage inculcated, but virginity (for both men and women) was extolled. As a consequence of original sin human beings are all too prone to forget God in the pursuit and enjoyment even of legitimate pleasures such as those of marriage. As an example of true dedication to God, man’s true destiny, the Church holds up to the eyes of the world its celibate priests, its consecrated monks and nuns. By their practice of virginity they are an example to the world of the utter dedication to God which is the fundamental duty of all men. Besides, by their faithfulness to their dedication they prove to the weak, the timid and the ungenerous that the grace of God, purchased by the Blood of Jesus, can really set men free from the tyranny of the devil, the world and the flesh. Moreover, from the beginning the Church has taught the world that heroic virtue is possible, not through human justice but through the supernatural charity, the supernatural love of God and man which God gives to men with His grace. Sin has begotten discord and hatred in the life of humanity. Grace and charity will not only restore men to union with God but also enable men to live in harmony and love with one another.

SAINTS OF THE CHURCH

The Church appeared in the world of men preaching this high moral ideal. Over the centuries it has succeeded in realising this ideal in varying degrees. On the level of the individual person it has had from the beginning startling successes. In the first three hundred years of its existence thousands of Christians publicly manifested their dedication to God to the extent of giving up their lives for Him during the Roman persecutions of Christianity. The leavening vitality of the Gospel, its power to lead men to prefer God to all else, is all the more noticeable in the fact that the early Christian martyrs are found not only among the nobility and the military forces (who might be expected by reason of their breeding, position or training to be brave in the profession of their faith) but also among the women, both rich and poor, and children. These early martyrs were the first Christian saints. Their example of preference for God even over life itself has been imitated by all the martyrs for Christ down to the present time.

THROUGH THE CENTURIES

Even in times and places where the Church has not been actively persecuted, the Church has never been lacking in examples of men and women totally dedicated to the love and service of God and man. From St Martin of Tours (the first non-martyr to be recognised as a saint by the Church) to St Maria Goretti in this present time (a young girl who preferred death to loss of chastity) the history of the Church shows a procession of saints choosing God rather than the seductive pleasures of the world. In addition to the canonised saints of the Church, from the very beginning of her life on earth the Church has inspired countless thousands to forswear the pleasures of the world and its power for the love of God in monasteries and convents.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD ONLY

In a world corrupted and debased by the indulgence of the flesh St Mary Magdalene and St Augustine give testimony to the power of God to convert and save the sinner. In a world torn by restless human ambitions and the marches and countermarches of military conquest, St Benedict and St Scholastica forsake worldly ambition for the peace and the love of God. In a world beginning anew to love money and wealth overmuch St Francis of Assisi gives up all his worldy possessions to the poor and embraces his Lady Poverty for the love of God and man. In a world in which nationalistic aims are seeking to divide and conquer the Church of Christ St Ignatius founds the Society of Jesus to defend and spread the Kingdom of God universally among men. In a world in which misguided men were trying to find God outside His own Church, insisting that no intermediary be interposed between the individual and God, God raised up a St Teresa of Avila and a St John of the Cross to show that true unity with God is to be sought in the fruitful bosom of His Church.

SOCIAL MORALITY IS RAISED THROUGH THE CHURCH

But it is not only in the lives of individual saints that the power of the Gospel has been manifest. Through the influence of the Church social morality in general has also been raised to higher levels. Even though the ignorance and weak wills of men have made the process slow and uncertain at times, the Gospel of Jesus has brought great benefits to mankind. From the beginning the Church has made no distinction between slaves and freemen. Over the centuries this has gradually led to the abolition of slavery in Christian nations. The Church’s doctrines and its reverence for Mary, the Mother of God, has likewise led many nations to raise the position of women in society. In a truly Christian society they cannot be regarded as either the slaves or the playthings of men. Even the horrors of war were mitigated under the influence of the doctrine of Christ. In the Middle Ages (the great ages of faith thus far in the history of the world) the Church even induced men to practise the Truce of God, whereby they abstained from battle on certain feast days. In modern times with the rise of capitalism and the industrial revolution the Church has fought for the rights of both capital and labour, for the right and necessity of labour unions to exist and to function for just wages. In large part the present world, even when expressly anti-Catholic, is living under the influence and heritage of the great elevation of morals brought to the world by the preaching and practice of Christian moral doctrine.

Of course the Church has not been completely successful in elevating the moral conduct of all men, even of all those nominally members of the kingdom of God. Nor does she ever expect in this present world to be completely successful. Jesus has told her more than once that she will always count among her members good and evil men. The Church He has told her is like a net which brings up both good and bad fish, or a field in which both good grain and weeds will grow. It is God Who will separate the good from the evil and manifest His judgement at the end of the world. So the Church is not dismayed at the scandalous behaviour of some Christians, even though at times they be in high places, perhaps as in the cases of some few Popes, even in the highest place of all. In spite of all individual defections the Church continues to preach Christian morality to the world.

TODAY’S TOTALITARIANISM

Today the Church faces the horror of totalitarianism, a godless totalitarianism which denies God, rides roughshod over the dignity of individuals, reduces men to statistics. Almost alone in the world she still cries out that God gave Himself on a Cross for the salvation of all men and that therefore each human being is in himself of inestimable value, a child of God, a brother of Jesus the Christ.

UNTIL THE END

How this present struggle of the Church with the power of the devil and the bad will of men will be resolved we cannot at present see. But, whether the Church grows or diminishes in the present world, it still remains true that she will be until the end a leaven in the world, secretly or openly building up the kingdom of heaven until it reaches the stature already determined by God. At the end of time with the general judgement of God the true proportions of the kingdom, the full extent of the leaven of the Church, will be revealed in the final Kingdom of God.”
– Martin J. Healy, S.T.D., 1959 (headings in capital letters added afterwards)

 

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TO BE UNITED WITH THE RISEN LORD JESUS, YOU MUST LEARN TO LIVE IN A HOLY AND UNALTERABLE PEACE

“If you want to be united with the Heart of Jesus risen from the dead, you must learn to live in a holy and unalterable peace. This was the word, greeting and wish that the risen Jesus had on His lips during the forty days He remained on earth after His resurrection. It is also the characteristic of those who have risen with Jesus. Peace, as St Augustine says, is simplicity of spirit, serenity of mind, tranquillity of soul, the bond of love.

Peace means order and harmony between all mankind, and is the greatest good, after the grace of God. It is the ongoing joy that is born out of a clear conscience, it is the holy happiness of a heart in which God reigns. Peace is the way of perfection or rather perfection is to be found in peace.

Find peace with God then!

You will achieve it by avoiding every sin, by submitting to His desires and by making Him the centre of your life.
Find peace with yourself!

You will achieve it by dominating your passions, keeping your desires under control, by moderating your words and actions and directing all your efforts and affections towards the true good.

Find peace with your neighbour!

You will achieve it with patience, humility and love, by seeing God in all your brothers.

The devil makes every effort to take peace away from you, for without it, nothing for eternal life can be achieved. You must be on your guard, so as not to lose it, even in the many problems that life throws up.
PRAYER: Beautiful Heart of Jesus, may I to this world in death be given, that I may for God and with you be risen.”
– Mons. Nicola Tafuri

 

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THE PATH TO GENUINE PEACE OF HEART

PEACE OF HEART MUST HAVE A SPIRITUAL BASIS

“‘Peace and quiet.’ We often associate the two words as though there were a necessary connection between them. The truth is that genuine peace – tranquillity of heart and mind – has little to do with the absence of noise. A person can be in the midst of clanking machinery or honking horns. A person can suffer inner torment in the solitude of an empty building.

A PRECIOUS POSSESSION

Peace of heart is a precious possession. It is a wonderful thing to be able to face each new day without undue fear or anxiety; to go through the day with a feeling of satisfaction in our work and our surroundings, to feel confident that whatever crisis or emergency may arise, it will in the end have a happy issue.

GOD IS IN ULTIMATE CONTROL

Such peace of heart must, of course, have a spiritual basis. It can be built only on the conviction that God is in ultimate control of the world and that the world with all its happenings is moving toward the destiny God has in mind for it. Doing our best to identify our own will with God’s, insofar as we can discern it, we know that we too, with each day’s activities, are moving toward God’s objective. We are moving in the right direction.

WE ARE MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

There are persons who, because of a personality disorder such as a severe neurosis, are presently incapable of preserving peace of heart. There are others who may be deprived temporarily of peace of heart by some sudden personal catastrophe. But for most of us it is true that, if we lack peace of heart, the fault is our own.

LIFE IS LITERALLY SHORT IN THE CUL-DE-SAC OF SIN

It is obvious that peace of heart cannot coexist with sin. Sin by definition is a rejection of God’s will. As long as a person retains any traces of religious faith, he never can convince himself, really, that he is smarter than God. Whatever pleasure or profit he may now be finding in his self-will, the sinner knows that he is on a dead-end street which can lead only to the bitter failure of a wasted life.

SOME WALK WITH RELUCTANCE

This is not to say that every virtuous person enjoys peace of heart. Some who walk with God do so with reluctance. They keep God’s commandments, they do what they must, but they nourish a (perhaps unrecognised) resentment against God. They feel that God has treated them unfairly in placing them in their present circumstances and that He asks more than He really has a right to ask.

GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF INNER CONFLICT

An unpeaceful heart may be caused, not only by conflict with God, but also by conflict with ourselves. In this event, to re-establish peace we have to discover the source of our inner conflict. What is it that is frustrating us? What is it that we want so badly and cannot have?

SOMETHING WE CAN CHANGE?

Sometimes we shall find that the source of our discontent is a condition which, with courage and determination, we can alter. Perhaps all that is required is a change of jobs, a change of environment (school, neighbourhood or climate), the acquisition of more education or some other not-impossible goal.

MAKING THE MOST OF OUR TALENTS

Adhering to God’s will does not mean the surrender of all initiative. It is a part of our vocation to seek, by trial and error if need be, what God’s will may be for us. So long as we operate within the framework of His law, God actually encourages us to try to bend circumstances to our needs and to make the most of our talents. He will positively help us to that end with His guidance and His grace.

ENTRUSTING EVERY STEP TO GOD

To achieve peace of heart, then, there are two essential steps which we must take (beyond the conquest of sin). On the one hand we must stop feeling sorry for ourselves and take active steps to eliminate whatever it is that is frustrating us.

GOD’S WILL FOR US

On the other hand, when we find ourselves in a bind from which there simply is no escape, then we know that this IS God’s will for us, however impossible it may be to see the reason for it. We accept His will. More, we embrace His will. So doing, we find peace.

THE SECRET OF PEACE OF HEART

There is an ancient prayer which beautifully summarises the secret of peace of heart: ‘God grant me the courage to change the things I can change; the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; and the wisdom to know the difference.'”
– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966

 

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RECIPE FOR LONG LIFE BY 107-YEAR-OLD: “LISTENING TO THE VOICE OF CHRIST AND BEING MEEK AS REGARDS HIS WILL”

“Pope Francis greeted Sister Candida Bellotti at The Vatican last week as she celebrated her 107th birthday.

Sister Candida, believed to be the world’s oldest nun, joined the Camillian order 80 years ago.

Asked for her recipe for a long and good life, she said: ‘Listening to the voice of Christ and being meek as regards his will. Throughout my life I have always thought: wherever the Lord puts me, that is the right place for me.’

After Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Pope’s home, Sister Candida, who spent her working life as a nurse, spoke of the importance of being close to God.

‘Only those who feel the happiness of drawing near to the Lord can understand how abundant his love for us is, and how much serenity he leaves in our hearts,’ she said.

Sister Candida, who has seen 10 popes in her life, added: ‘There could have been no greater joy than to have celebrated my birthday with Pope Francis.'”
– This article by David V Barrett entitled “Pope greets world’s oldest nun aged 107” was published in “The Catholic Herald” issue February 2014. For subscriptions please visit http://www.catholicherald.co.uk (external link).

 

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