We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, He draws us to Himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”―Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.

Living right on the left coast of North America!

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.—2 Thessalonians 2:15

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Want adventure? Try holiness.

Believers know that the world—i.e., the world, the flesh and the devil—offers little but empty promises. That is not to say there is not beauty, truth and goodness to be found in the natural order. Let's not confuse the natural world with worldliness.

A love for creation is not the same as a love of worldly pursuits and a fascination with the never ending and never satisfying quest for power and approval. Catholics celebrate robustly the glory of God's creation. We have inherited from our elder Jewish brothers and sisters our love of life, which is reflected in the festal character of our religious ceremonies that celebrate innumerable blessings which God bestows on His people. That love of life has deepened in the New Covenant in Christ. Jesus' death on the Cross allows Catholics to find meaning, joy and peace even in the midst of suffering. Furthermore, Jesus gives to the Christian the grace to forgive even one's enemies. God's invitation to love extends through us and is offered to all. We become God's agents of mercy if we are receptive to His grace and cooperate with His will.

The spiritual disciplines practiced by the saints help us identify the way of light and life and help us avoid the false allurements that can entice toward sin even the most seasoned veteran of the spiritual life. The spiritual disciplines offered by Holy Mother Church, patterned after the example of Christ Himself, foster in us a resolute sobriety that helps us avoid the traps which attempt to keep us from authentic communion with God and neighbour.

Modern Madness

The "news" is more often than not a wasteland of regurgitated failed progressivism, the detritus of a morally bankrupt elite that proudly hails itself fidei defensor, the guardian of all things modern and better than what came before.

The balloon of pop culture begs to be popped. Overproduced whining songstresses and Peter Pan pop stars, the willing allies of profit-first corporations that devour people as fast as markets allow, blather at the next generation of entitled narcissistic idolaters.

The question to be asked of our secular brothers and sisters and lapsed Catholics who have embraced worldly behaviours, a question that should also be asked of people ensnared in false religions, is: How is that working for you? 'It' being the path upon which they are currently walking.

Why not try holiness?
1 Peter 1:13-25
Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you invoke as Father him who judges each one impartially according to his deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake. Through him you have confidence in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere love of the brethren, love one another earnestly from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for
“All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord abides for ever.”
That word is the good news which was preached to you.
The Catholic Catechism on Holiness
IV. CHRISTIAN HOLINESS
2012 "We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him . . . For those whom he fore knew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified."
2013 "All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity." All are called to holiness: "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
In order to reach this perfection the faithful should use the strength dealt out to them by Christ's gift, so that . . . doing the will of the Father in everything, they may wholeheartedly devote themselves to the glory of God and to the service of their neighbor. Thus the holiness of the People of God will grow in fruitful abundance, as is clearly shown in the history of the Church through the lives of so many saints.
2014 Spiritual progress tends toward ever more intimate union with Christ. This union is called "mystical" because it participates in the mystery of Christ through the sacraments - "the holy mysteries" - and, in him, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. God calls us all to this intimate union with him, even if the special graces or extraordinary signs of this mystical life are granted only to some for the sake of manifesting the gratuitous gift given to all.
2015 The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle. Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes:
He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows.
2016 The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus. Keeping the same rule of life, believers share the "blessed hope" of those whom the divine mercy gathers into the "holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."
Ten Aids to Holiness
  1. Man cannot manufacture holiness. Man needs God. God sustains us in being. Only God can give the grace to allow man to participate in His holiness. God does not make a command without providing the help to achieve it. God gives grace. God often speaks through intermediaries: a challenging word; an act of kindness directed to you; a frustrating experience at work that exposes a need for personal change... . Are you listening?
  2. Prayer is indispensable. Orient yourself to God by praying. Know that God is always present to you. Set aside time each day to pray to God in silence. If people spoke with God—He is always listening!—as much as they text one another, imagine the increase in faith among believers. Pray frequently!
  3. Pray the Mass. Pay attention to the Mass. Pray attention to the Mass. The Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life." Savour the daily readings of the Mass by reading them slowly, noting words that seem to stand out to you. Let those "words" from God permeate your day by recalling them as often as possible. That recollection is an ongoing immersion in the word of God.
  4. Pray in front of the tabernacle and know that Jesus is present to you. Spend quality time with the Lord!
  5. Pray the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  6. Make a daily examination of conscience. Spend a few minutes reflecting on your day and how you served the Lord... or didn't. Take your joys, sorrows, successes and failings to God!
  7. Go to confession! What are you afraid of? Freedom awaits!
  8. Find a spiritual guide. Ask God to point you in the direction of an orthodox guide.
  9. Observe the Church's traditional counsel regarding fasting and abstaining. Abstain from meat every Friday.
  10. Read the lives of the saints. The biographies of the saints are snapshots of the Holy Spirit working in people's lives. Miracles abound in the lives of the saints. Even in our day, miracles are wrought through the intercession of our brothers and sisters who have gone before us and are now living in the fullness of the divine beatitude.
A bad word these days, even among believers, is piety:
piety (n.) early 14c. (late 12c. as a surname), "mercy, tenderness, pity," from Old French piete "piety, faith; pity, compassion" (12c.), from Latin pietatem (nominative pietas) "dutiful conduct, sense of duty; religiousness, piety; loyalty, patriotism; faithfulness to natural ties," in Late Latin "gentleness, kindness, pity;" from pius "kind" (see pious). Meaning "piousness" attested in English from c. 1600.
The religious living of life (piety) has been largely replaced by an obsession with volunteerism, a volunteerism—one might add—that tends to miss finding and serving Christ in the poor.

Eucharistic piety is hardly understood by most Catholics. If one were to ask what living a Eucharistic life would entail, most Catholics might get as far as to acknowledge attendance at Mass and the reception of Holy Communion. That would be an excellent start, but if the reception of Holy Communion does not lead to a life of constant reform (i.e., metanoia) and of self sacrificing love firmly grounded in Eucharistic prayer or piety that is by its very nature an affirmation of an intimate loving communion with Jesus Christ and His Church, then, arguably, something is missing from people's formation.

Glee Club

Has the tabernacle in your home parish been shunted off to the side or removed entirely to some shack? Has the Lord been sentenced to solitary confinement in some drab room? The tabernacle has been pushed aside or completely hidden in far too many parishes. The centre of parish life is no longer the Real Presence. What once distinguished Catholic churches from sectarian prayer halls is now more of an afterthought. Where the Lord is enthroned in a central tabernacle, it is the experience of this blogger that people tend to be more Eucharistic. There are no awkward genuflections toward some offset tabernacle nor are genuflections omitted because a tabernacle is absent. Parishes that honour the Lord by locating the Body of Christ in a central tabernacle are blessed because they acknowledge the Lord as the centre of the parish home and family.

Many, if not most, Catholic parishes can hardly be called Eucharistic, or temples of the Holy Eucharist, nor are they wellsprings which nourish a Eucharistic people. Most parishes, it seems, wouldn't miss the Holy Eucharist enthroned because they've never or rarely enjoyed the privilege of hosting Eucharistic adoration. A Eucharistic life, a life of loving sacrifice patterned after the Lord's own sacrifice, is reduced to stale bread unleavened by the Holy Spirit. Martha's choice has ascended above Mary's formerly better choice.

Just say 'yes'.

Holiness is possible if one accepts the grace of God that perfects in us the life of the Spirit.
St. Matthew 5:43-48
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
The call to perfection is too often embraced only nervously by Catholics who say they trust in Jesus but are quick to abandon Him when it is inconvenient to keep His commandments. Are we afraid of losing our freedom if we embrace the way of the Cross? Do we not accept that Jesus gives to those who trust in Him the grace to live fully the Gospel? Do we want a milquetoast religion that excuses disciples from discipleship and permits a low view of human dignity?

A people that does not trust Christ and His promise of life in abundance tends to redefine mercy in the image of a god of lowered expectations. Grace perfects nature, or at least once upon a time it did.
Divine Grace does not annihilate but presupposes and perfects human nature. The latter, in fact, even after sin, is not completely corrupt but wounded and weakened. Grace, lavished upon us by God and communicated through the Mystery of the Incarnate Word, is an absolutely free gift with which nature is healed, strengthened and assisted in pursuing the innate desire for happiness in the heart of every man and of every woman. All the faculties of the human being are purified, transformed and uplifted by divine Grace.—Pope Benedict XVI. General Audience: 16 June 2010.
Happiness is found in holiness.

When we begin the quest for holiness by surrendering ourselves to God's transforming grace and entering into a deeper trust of the Lord, the Lord gives to us His peace.

Like a great symphonic work that is a working out of a progression that is characterized by the deft resolution of dissonance, the life of faith is an adventure in holiness. Without the aid of the Holy Spirit, life is difficult to navigate. Without faith, life's many reefs pose a constant threat to the drifting soul.

Allied to the Holy Spirit, the dissonant soul is transformed when she humbly submits to the embrace of the Lover, and thus enters into an ever deepening communion with God the Most Holy Trinity.

Try holiness!

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"A multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world(.)—Wisdom 6:24. Readers are welcome to make rational and responsible comments. Any comment that 1) offends human dignity and/or 2) which constitutes an irrational attack on the Catholic Faith will not go unchallenged. If deemed completely stupid, such a comment will most assuredly not see the light of day. Them's the rules. Don't like 'em? Move on.