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.

Bishop Lopes: A Pledged Troth. A pastoral letter on Amoris Laetitia.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Praying for the (spiritually) dead.

The end of the month of holy souls draws nigh. Of the saints in heaven, we asked their intercession for our loved-ones. It is a time during which Catholics visit cemeteries and pray for those who have gone before us, as is the custom not limited to but intensified during this month that occurs at the twilight of the year.

Death prods the weak of faith.

On the occasion of a loved-one's demise, and in the midst of grief or perhaps doubt about what happens next, some attempt to canonize a relative, perhaps a close relative who has not lived a particularly stellar life. Those who have avoided judging a loved-one's behaviour in this life and who have avoided the necessity to show real mercy by instructing an ignorant sinner, at the death of that loved one, suddenly assume the role of saviour and deem such a reprobate soul righteous.

For whatever reason, those who are too timid to walk with another and let it be known to them that their actions are putting their souls at risk of death are, themselves, spiritually dead or dying. Typically, they are repulsed at the mere mention of the word 'judgement'. Little do they realize that the judgement of actions is necessary to help others consider the consequences of their actions and to help them make necessary course corrections.

Of course, fraternal correction cannot be done in a belligerent or self righteous manner. The spiritual companion must be willing to listen first and then, after seeking God's wisdom, speak in a calm yet firm manner the advice that might help someone turn back from the precipice or whatever soul destroying behaviour in which they are engaging.

Who are the spiritually dead?

The spiritually dead are zombies in the Church. They are the 'spiritual-not-religious' crew who think themselves too enlightened to defile their lives with devotions, fasting, faithful Mass attendance and regular visits to the confessional. Like spiritual vampires sucking the life out of parishes, they neither respond to the call to personal holiness—probably because homilies are bereft of any such call—nor do they respond to the call to mission. The latter depends on the former for fuel to respond: the actual grace (gratia gratis data) of knowledge and wisdom of Christ given to help us in our need and to form in us an authentic identity in Christ which gives us the confidence to share by word and/or deed the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The spiritually dead are given to mocking those who share in an intimate loving communion with Jesus Christ and His Church. The god of liberal religion, i.e., the religion of the spiritually dead person, is none other than a projection of his or her own safe, bland deity fashioned in his/her own image. "Who am I to judge?" is the borrowed and misapplied mantra of the limp layman eager to achieve the approval of his peers at the cost of his own spiritual life in Christ.

The spiritually dead routinely demand all the blessings from the Lord but assume none of the responsibilities that come with being His disciple. They routinely miss the opportunity to turn from the sin of pride. That opportunity can be the Sacrament of Penance. To the dead, however, the Sacrament has little or no meaning.

Another name for the spiritually dead: universalist [click HERE for definition].

Is it any wonder that people ensnared by some form of spiritual narcissism tend to declare, without proof such as a testimony to the holiness of an individual and a miracle confirming a claim of heavenly residency, who resides in heaven? They, said saint-makers, are popes of their own domains. They accord no respect for the beliefs of others yet demand absolute acceptance of their own, pontificating from a throne constructed of tragically misguided self indulgent theories about life after death. In reality, they have neither joy nor hope because their faith is only in themselves. They are too proud to admit dependence on Jesus Christ and His revealed teaching. They cannot be like children in the eyes of God because they are so preoccupied with an addiction to self gratification. If only they could realize that true satisfaction to be found in this life depends on surrender to the Holy Spirit Who, given by Jesus, rescues us from the tyranny and trap of a life manipulated by a fear of loss of personal control. If the same spiritually dead have children, their children will understand that they are a distant second place in the lives of their parents.

God first.

A God-first life helps one live for others. God gives us the grace and confidence to sacrifice our selfish needs so that we can first serve others. By contrast, there is little room for "second class citizens" in a hierarchy constructed solely to serve the man or women who stands at the pinnacle of the temple of 'me'.

Sadly, when one of the adults in a family finds out that he or she has been relegated to second class status in a relationship where his or her spouse puts him/herself before all else, the result can and usually does result in the breakdown of the relationship and ultimately the family. If neither adult/parent turns to God for the grace of healing, and the grace to live a life of self-sacrificing love, one can almost be certain that the family will not survive the selfishness of one or both parents. And then, sadly, the children may become frozen in a trend that causes them to look for love in all the wrong places. Their quest for love, however, need not be for them a cause of despair. They can be aware of their need and allow themselves to be touched by the grace of God rather than succumb to their baser instincts. They need caring people to intercept them and offer them an alternative reading of their lives to help them be open to grace and to be open to a change of direction for the better.

Should we not risk leaving our comfort zone to propose to others the joy and peace of the Gospel? Sometimes all it takes to restore in a person a sense of self worth is a simple acknowledgement of their presence. Take a moment to acknowledge someone; be willing to chat with him or her. Don't be afraid to smile and/or nod at someone and let them know you see them. Bless the stranger; bless the friend. Bless the cantankerous malcontent or rude queue-jumper. If they are sunburned by the joy of the Holy Spirit radiating through you, so be it.

The spiritually dead are already buried in this life—if you can call living without real purpose a life—in a crowded tomb populated by other zombies intent on sucking the life out of other people's lives.

The spiritually dead require a jolt of grace. Pray especially for the stranger who wanders into your midst, the person who barely acknowledges anyone's presence other than his own.

If your world is a flat screen display, typically that of a smart phone that you cannot put down for a day, then perhaps you are in desperate need of the grace to help you get a life.

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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.