Monday, May 25, 2009

Of the great scarcity of the predestinate.

pdf pg. 242-277 of The Christian Zodiac (PDF) by Fr. Drexelius

A Treatise added as a crown to to the twelve signs of predestination.
Of the great scarcity of the predestinate.

TO crown that which hath been said, mellifluous S. Bernard furnishes us with an excellent discourse of his: Our Lord knows (saith he) who are belonging unto him, and he only knows whom he hath elected from the beginning; neither is there any man who can tell whether he be worthy of love or hate. Seeing then (as it is most certain) we have no certainty, ought it not to be most grateful to us, to gather some probable sign of this our election? or can our spirit take any rest, as long as it hath no testimony of its predestination? "Therefore it is a faithful speech, and worthy of all acception, which infolds the testimony of our salvation. The word of which both affords great comfort to the elect, and disfurnishes the reprobate of all excuse; For the signs of life being once manifest, whosoever neglects them, is clearly convinced to have received his soul in vain, and slightly to esteem of that desirable land. None can justly accuse any but himself, if he perceive in him no sign of predestination: for God hath not predestinated any by chance and hazard unto Heaven or Hell, since, notum a saeculo est Domino opus tuum, thy work is known unto our Lord from eternity; but in forseeing the merits of everyone, he hath allotted them accordingly either reward or punishment, as S. Prosper most truly sayth. It implies no necessity that men should perish because they are not predestinate, but they are not predestinated because God foresaw that by their own willful perversity they needs would perish. And S. Augustin avouches the doctrine, where he sayth, that God hated not Esau, as a man, but Esau as a sinner, since God detests nothing in man but sin. And again only sin (says he) doth render the way to Heaven inaccessible. Whilst all of us tend unto one only goal, alas what diversity is there in those ways we go, we run, and we perish in? The way of life is narrow, that of perdition broad, rosy, and pleasant; there we must climb up o craggy clift, here we slide easily down into a dayle [?] facilis descensus Averni, the descent to Hell is easy. Truth cries out unto us, exhorts, and admonishes us: Intrate per sangustam pertam etc. Enter by the narrow gate, since the gate is broad, and the way spacious which leads to perdition, and many here are who enter by it; whereas the gate is strait, and the way narrow which conducts to life, and there are few who find it. And it inculcates the same again: Enforce yourselves to enter by the narrow gate, for I say unto you, there are many who are desirous to enter and yet cannot. A narrow way indeed it is, which we cannot go but alone, and unaccompanied: each one of us, is to render account unto God Almighty only of himself; each one to undergo his own burden; each one according to his merit shall receive reward.

And this is that which made our Savior break forth into those doleful words: Multi sunt vecati, pauci vero electi: many are called but few are chosen. How many by the force of this one word, pauci, few, have, as it were by some sudden thunderclap been awaked out of the dead trance of their licentious lives? How many at the bare report thereof have retired themselves into solitary caves and deserts from all society, and commerce with men? How many thousand Martyrs hath it made expose themselves to racks, prisons, fires, torturings, gibbets, wild beasts, and the executioners' utmost rage and cruelty, whilst you might hear from them no other voice than this: It is no hard matter to die for us who are to live again among those few of the elect; sheath your swords in our bodies and spare not, so long as our souls may be numbered among those few, but happy, who are saved. Who of them would not find courage enough to say: Could I be extended on a hundred crosses, I would not shrink to escape one of them, had I a hundred necks I would stretch them all cut under the axe; it should be my pastime to die hundred times, and I should esteem of my torments only as restoratives, so as I may be admitted after all into Paradise in company of those few who are predestinate? From hence proceeded that generous saying of that glorious Martyr S. Ignatius: Let all crosses come, fire, wild beasts, and as many torments as the devil can invent, so as I may enjoy my Christ, I care not.

How many hath this same thunder of our Savior's words, this only one word, pauci, a few, recalled from the rank meadows of luxury, to the house of sorrow and penance they choosing rather to be saved with a few than perish with many, since they perish no less who perish in company, non minus perit qui perit in turba? And of this great scarcity of those who are saved, we have for our warning had frequent examples in every age. This was the only subject of Noe's preaching, that Herald of justice, (as S. Paul terms him) for a hundred years and more; and yet men were so obdurate in their wickedness, as out of that infinite multitude then alive, only eight souls were saved in that wooden ark or prison, and of those few impious Cain was one; for so you shall as rarely find any society of good without the admixture of some bad, as the fragrant rose without the brier cleaving to it. And so God being upon the point of destroying the land of Sodom and Gomorrha, was yet content at Abraham's request to hold his hands and spare them, if he could but have picked him out ten just men of such innumerable multitudes as they were, and yet so great was the scarcity of the good, as they were not to be found; whereupon the Angels advised Loth: Festina et salvate, to make speed and save himself; and so only three persons were preserved from so general a calamity as was the burning of two such mighty Cities, whose ruins are even extant to this day, the monuments of the wrath of Almighty God.
Neither in more ambiguous manner is the paucity of the predestinate expressed in that passage of sacred Scripture, when Moyses leading under his conduct out of Egypt 600000 fighting men, besides women and children, and others promiscuously without number of lesser note, but only two of such a world of people arrived unto that plentiful land of promise; all the rest being buried in that mighty sepulcher of that vast desert, the receptacle of so many thousand dead. As for Pharao who followed them with such warlike preparation, to restrain them of their liberty again, he together with all his army was buried in the red sea, the gaping sepulcher of such a mighty host: quis non timebit te o Rex gentium, who will not stand in awe of thee o Lord of the Gentiles? Besides for their falling into actual Idolatry, Moyses proclaimed among the children of Israel: Si quis est Domini inugatur mihi, etc. whosoever is our Lord's let him join with me, and they slew that day of them three and twenty thousand, a lamentable issue of one act of idolatry; to signify how much God Almighty doth detest one mortal sin. So Iosue [Joshua] having taken by that mysterious stratagem the City of Ierico [Jericho] put all the men and living creatures in it unto the sword and fire, and so that, mighty City like some carcass in its funeral fire, was all unto a heap of [?] consumed away, only one house surviving so great a ruin, so great a calamity. And Gedeonin's expedition against the Madianites, out of two and thirty thousand chose only three hundred out for that present enterprise, and dismissed all the rest.

For God hath no respect of any number, but of the good; neither is the way to Hell so long, but in one breath, it may be gone by committing of one mortal sin whereby we become traitors to the Divine Majesty, and meriting eternal punishment. So in former times for one libidinous act 40,000 Hebrews, and 50,600 Benjamites were slain; and how dear did the Benjamites with the loss of so many thousand souls pay for the curiosity of their eyes, when they looked with too great irreverence on the Ark of God? Neither is this great scarcity of the predestinate less clearly set before our eyes in the sacred history of the kings, where Absalon leading an army of Rebels against the King's Father, a messenger in all haste ran to let David understand that all Israel with their whole heart did follow Absalon, toto corde universus Israel siquitur Absalon: and Seba seditiously stirring up a sort of tumultuous people against the King, then comes another advice to David, that all Israel was revolted from him and followed Seba: Separatus est omnis Israel a David secutusque est Seba. Do but behold, the world and you will even say as much of it; for Christ another David doth trace us out the way with his own blood, with his own goared footsteps, having his head crowned with thorns, his shoulders charged with the infamous burden of the cross, his dying eyes floating with blood and tears, in which doleful equipage he ascends mount Calvary and invites us to follow him; but alas how few are they who do accompany him, who are content to be crucified with him according to their several conditions? So as we may lawfully say, that all the world is set upon malice: totus mundus in maligno positus est, and with their whole hearts follow, not Seba, but rather Satan, and leave our Savior in mount Golgotha alone.

To this purpose likewise may be applied that other passage of holy Scriptures, where seventy thousand Israelites are recorded to have been consumed by pestilence, only because David out of a presumption of his own forces did cause the people to be mustered. All which examples were but the first draught, and shadow of the wonderful scarcity of the predestinate, which our Savior afterwards in his Sermons so lively painted forth. Reckon all the Jews according to the computation of the Apocalypse, from Abraham to the day of Judgment predestinate to be saved, and you shall find only 144,000 of them, scarcely the thousandth part, to pass on that account. And that which is said, of them may be applied with a certain proportion unto all Nations; for the predictions of our Savior have reference to all, for as much as he affirmed not only of the Jews, that few of them should walk in the narrow path of life, but he directs his speech generally to all: pauci innuetent eam, few shall find it.

In confirmation of this verity the Prophets are everywhere frequent. Hell hath declared its soul (says Isay) and opened its mouth boundless wide; and that because impiety like a fire embraces (all). It shall consume the thorn and brier, the very thicket of the grove shall be burnt, and the pride of the smoke shall roll along; for thorns and briers shall overgrow the universal earth. And where shall you not find whole wildernesses of briers of libidinousness and luxury? What place is free from the pricking thorns of cares and solicitude not so much of purchasing Heaven, as wealth? So as truly we may say: the earth is infected with its inhabitants, in that they have transgressed the laws, altered right, and antiquated an eternal league; all are addicted to their own ways, and each one unto the most newfangled. And Hieremy (Jeremy) in no less a mournful strain bewails this great penury of the good. Circuit the ways of Hierusalem and behold, and observe, and search in the streets; do you find a man that doth Justice and regards his faith? brass, and Iron, there is corruption in all: not only the rich but (what you will more wonder at) even the poor are infected with pride and riotousness; and poverty now is in league with vices too; a general corruption hath tainted all, as well brass, as silver, and more rich minerals. And the Prophet exploring the origin and source of all this evil says: I attended, and listened and no man speaks of any good (which is so much verified in these times of ours) no man doth penance for his sins, saying what have I done? all are attent to their woe [?] courses like horses rushing furiously into the battle. Woe to the earth, woe to the men thereof, the whole world is filled with adulteries. Neither doth Michaeas less lament this excessive dearth of virtue: woe unto me (says he) there is not one cluster of grapes fit to be eaten; the Saint is perished on earth, and the upright is not (to be found) among men.

Which consideration made the Royal Prophet shed so abundant tears: God (sayth he) hath looked down from heaven on the Sons of men to behold if there were any intelligent, and seeking God; (but) all were depraved, all when become wholly unprofitable; there is no man, no not so much as one, that doth any good. And truly whosoever doth but consider these lamentable days of ours, and the variety of corruption which is crept into our manners, he would be of the same opinion with this holy King, and conclude our Age most resembling to that immediately before the deluge: Sicut erat ante diluvium etc. when there was nothing (but) eating, and drinking, marrying, and procuring others to do the like, till that day, when Noe entered into the Ark: neither had they any understanding, till the deluge came upon them, and destroyed them all. Even so you will imagine that virtue were wholly banished from the earth, or if perchance any vouchsafe to harbor her, 'tis but only in passing, and by way of courtesy, not that she can challenge right to any habitation of her own; which is the reason she is nowhere permanent; whilst vice doth so sway all, and hath such absolute dominion, as it is no longer able to reckon how many kingdoms it stands possessed of; masked injustice, and prying envy, exploiting boldly whatsoever they please, and that filthy vice of Luxury odious to Heaven, and pernicious to earth; with an incredible kind of audacity. So that comparing the number of the good reduced unto so few, unto so many Myriads of evil, we may well say with Bias[?]: Rari boni, pravi plurimi; and S. Ambrose to this effect; in comparison of the reprobate (says he) the number of the Elect is but very small, seeing you shall find everywhere multitudes of Sinners, everywhere whole troupes of them in the way of perdition, so as it may be truly said indeed: Lugent viae Sion, at vident simitae Babilon; that the ways of Sion Lament, whilst the paths of Babylon do laugh.

And really whosoever but reflects the eyes of his mind upon the way which he bu[?]s upon, the precipice of Hell, he shall perceive it so frequented; so thronged with passengers, as one shoves another forwards out of a kind of sport and jolity; and provoked by one another's examples, they make as much haste to the torments of Hell as they would do unto some solemn feast, the whilst the way to vices is not only proclive, but even precipitious; on the other side, the way which tends to virtue is but narrow, frequented but by a few, and those for the most part of private quality, as Isay did insinuate in that prophetical complaint of his, these shall be in the midst of the earth, in the midst of the people, just as if a few olives which are remaining should be shaken out of the olive tree, and grapes when the vintage is ended. Where the scarcity of the good may be understood by those few scattering bunches of grapes, by those few olives, which were left to be gleaned whilst the rest were gathered, and the excessive multitude of evil by the precedent plentiful harvest of grapes and olives: For there is no truth (says the Prophet Oseas) there is no m[?]y, there is no knowledge of God on earth; but slandering, lying, murder, theft, and adulteries do swarm; etc. sanguis sanguinem tetigit. This scarcity of the good, is but too apparent, which the Prophets thus deplore; unto whose tears succeed the Apostles complaints in the new Testament, where S. John affirms all the world to be set on malice: totus mundus in maligno positus est: etc. S. Peter in this manner sorrowfully argues: Si iustus vix salvabitur, peccator et impius ubi apparebunt? If the just shall be scarcely be saved, where shall the wicked and impious appear? S. Paul laments with often iterating the same, that all seek things that are their own, not things that are Iesus Christ's.

And our Savior Christ himself affirms that the kingdom of Heaven suffers force, and only the violent carry it away: Neither in the meanwhile abstains from threatenings: Vae vobis etc. woe unto you, says he, who are satiate, for you shall hunger; woe to you , who now laugh for you shall lament, and weep. And this likewise is lively set before our eyes in the parable recounted by S. Luke, where one part of the good seed, is said to lie withering away among the stones, another choked among thorns and briers; a third lights in the high way: and scarcely the fourth part, meets with a fruitful soil. So likewise of ten lepers whom our Savior cleansed only one returned to thank him for curing him, of those who were invited to the feast, not one but found an excuse to absent himself, and as often as the probatic pool was stirred by the Angel, of so many diseased persons who lay awaiting the occasion, only one was cured; Only a Nicodemus of all the Magistrates of the Jews would venture to private conference with our Savior Christ; and of so many Covetous and wealthy Citizens of Jericho, of so many Camels (to use S. Bead's phrase) laden with their wealth, only one Zacheus would discharge his bunchy back of his rich load, and restoring all which he had unjustly got, assay to enter by the narrow gate; Only one Matthew from his intricate accounts, only one Magdalen from her dissolute life, is recorded to be converted to a more innocent one. S. Paul preaching before a frequent assembly of people at Philippia a city of Macedonia, only one Lydia approved his doctrine; another time discoursing of Christian Religion at Athens, in the public palace before a great and learned auditory, only Denys and Damaris assented to what he said; the rest for the most part mocking and deriding him: and in that renowned assembly of 72 of the Jewish Magistrates, there was scarce one or two found, who thirsted not after our Savior's precious blood: Likewise at his crucifixion there were many spectators, but lovers and imitators of his Cross a very few.

So in these our days there are many Sermons, but rarely any who amend their lives for them; vices are sufficiently inveighed against, nay men are so far from desiring to amend them, as they cannot endure to have them mentioned. Multi vocati pauci electi, there are many called but few chosen; alas but few indeed! There are many, says S. Gregory, adjoin themselves unto the faith, but few make use of it to attain to Heaven. And as upon the floor you shall find more straw than corn; more leaves than fruit upon the trees, more prickles than roses on the briers, everywhere flints but a few precious stones; even so the number of those whom the Divine providence promotes to beatitude is but small, compared to the multitudes of wicked men. How truly hath Hieremy prophesied: Desolatione desolata est omnis terra, quia nullus est qui tecogitet corde, all the world is wasted with a desolation, because there is none who considers in his heart? there is none who considers in his heart indeed, since the thoughts of our hearts are so fleeting and inconstant, as they are still wandering and never can apply themselves long to anything that is good and virtuous. And this is the reason why we have no more apprehension of Hell, no more desire and longing after Heaven. This accusation may be urged as well against Christians, as any other men, that they make no account of the desirable Land: pro nihilo habuerunt terram desiderablem; for what is more to be desired than heaven? and yet by reason we have so little commerce with it in thought, we either conceit this Kingdom of the Blessed as some tedious thing, or else desire it nothing so fervorously as we ought. From thence the devil conceives such hopes, and acquires such force against us, as Job affirms of him: Ecce absorbebit stuvium etc. that he shall not wonder if he swallow up a flood, and he confides to have Jordan flow into his mouth. And for this reason, sayth that mirror of Patience: verebar omnia opera mea sciens quod non paceres delinquenti, I was suspicious of all my actions as knowing that thou sparest not the delinquent; I have all my words, works, and even my thoughts suspected, when I consider the rigid justice of Almighty God. This was the motive of S. Hilarion's fear, who (as S. Hierome recounteth) was most grievously perplexed at the Article of death, and in a deadly fear to present himself before the tribunal of Christ. There remained but a little vital heat unperished in his feeble body, and excepting his senses, there were no signs in him of a living man, when sadly lifting up his eyes and voice together: Egredere (said he) quid times? egredere anima mea, quid dubites? Septuaginta prope annis servisti Christe, et mortem times? Depart (said he) what dost thou doubt? Thou hast served Christ almost these seventy years, and now at last art thou afraid to die? No, his soul was not so much appalled at death, as at the approach of that judgment it was to undergo. And now let every Christian consider with himself, with what security he can revel and take his pleasure; whilst such saints as they do tremble, when they come to die; let them if they think good, hoard up treasures of gold, and silver, mischief, and ruin one another with mutual enmity and have, hunt after honors, and hawk for soaring glory; deny nothing to their honors and delights alleging forsooth that God allotted the earth, of which you are inhabitants, to the use of the sons of men, and reserved the heavens to be disposed by the sovereign Lord thereof. Take then you liberties in seeing, thinking and doing everything you have a fancy to, make as many figaries as you list, think everything lawful which you have a mind unto, let your body take its fill of contentment, be sure to live at your ease, walk in the ways of your heart, and take your own eyes for guides: Et scitote quod pro omnibus his adduces vos Deus in judicium etc. But yet be assured that for all these you must render an account to God; and though a man live never so many years, and have past them all over to his heart's content, yet he is to be mindful of the dismal time of those many days, which when they arrive, will argue all that is past of vanity. Wherefore let your endeavor rather be to procure by your good works a certainty of your vocation and election. Satagite ut per bona opera certam vestram vocationem et electionem faciatis. What the signs of predestination are, you have already understood.
1. Not only to love our friends, but our enemies.
2. To relieve the poor, not only by the bounty of our hands, but also with the affection of our minds.
3. To endure all afflictions patiently, and praise God Almighty for sending them
4. To set light by the goods of fortune, in regard of heaven
5 and 6. To consider how smally it avails us to hearken to the interior admonitions of God, or exterior of men, if we neglect to put them in execution.
7. So to detest our former sins, as never to commit the like again.
8. To imagine we are not pleasing to God until we become displeasing to ourselves.
9. Not to persuade ourselves that we love Jesus Christ, so long as we love and cherish not his presence within ourselves.
10. To resist stoutly our vicious inclinations especially at first, since then every one can overcome them if he list.
11. To lay a sure foundation of virtue in our minds, lest otherwise we be always wavering.
12. To become so familiar with death by often thinking of it, as we may the less fear it when we come to die. For he never dies unwillingly who daily and seriously imagines that he must die at last. And this is the way to that life wholly devoid of death. And now let each one take a survey of his own conscience, whether these signs of predestination, whereby he may conceive a certain hope that he is not strayed from the way of the good which leadeth into heaven, be extant in him or no. As for the way of the wicked although for the present it seems smooth and leveled, yet it ends in hell and utter darkness at the last: and notwithstanding, by reason the entrance to it seems so commodious and delightsome, there are so many flock unto it to their perditions, as our own eyes may testify that true saying of our Savior Christ: Lata porta et spaciosa via est quae ducit ad perditionem etc. that the gate is wide and the way spacious which leads unto perdition; and many (too many alas) are those who enter by it. It is reported by divers credible Authors that a certain holy Anchoret beheld in a vision souls falling as thick into Hell as flocks of snow or drops of rain, insomuch as the damned all amazed at their multitude, not without good reason imagined the world to be at an end, as thinking it impossible, considering their number who descended into Hell, that any more persons should be left alive.

Saint Vincent Ferrerius of Saint Dominic's order, that mirror of preachers and religious men, did once in a public Sermon discourse with great efficacy of the scarcity of the predestinate and confirmed it with a wonderful example; whose words in reverence of so great a person I will be as exact in reporting, as the difference of language will give me leave. [S. Vinc. Domin. Sepiuag serm. 6. post initium.] Before our Savior's coming into the world, says he, in human flesh, more than five thousand years were already past, and except some few of the Children of Israel who departed to Limbo, all the rest of the world was damned. Imagine with yourself besides, in the time of the law of Moyses how many Children have died without Circumcision; as also in the time of the law of Christ how many without Baptism; of all which number likewise not one is saved. Moreover how many Jews, Saracens, Pagans and Infidels, how many wicked Christians (for faith and Baptism cannot save a man unless they be accompanied with good life) and how many other Christians are there besides, who although they have faith, are yet proud, avaricious, of lewd life, and given to many other vices etc. And here note the example of the Archdeacon of Lyons, who having resigned his benefice, undertook a course of austere penance for forty years together in the wilderness. This holy man after his death appeared to the Bishop of Lyons, who desiring of him to discover [disclose] somewhat unto him of the other world, the Saint answered that thirty thousand in the world had died the same day with him, whereof only 5 were saved, himself and S. Bernard being two of them, who ascended immediately to heaven, the other three remaining in Purgatory, and all the rest irrecoverably damned. This is the reason why our Savior advises us with so much solicitude to enter by the narrow gate: Intrare per augustam portam. This narrow gate of Paradise is the will of God to which everyone must conform himself who desires to enter into Paradise. The broad gate is our own will, and the spacious way is worldly conversation; as to eat and drink our fill, to follow our lustful appetites, take our pleasure, revenge ourselves of those who have injured us, and the like. So as pauci sunt electi, but a few are saved. To which exhortation of Saint Vincent we will add another example recounted by an approved Author.

A famous Preacher in Germany named Bertold of Saint Francis' Order, inveighing once in a great audience with much vehemency of speech against a certain vice, a woman there present conscious of her own guiltiness therein, conceived so great terror at his words that on the sudden in the midst of so great a throng she fell down for dead. But afterwards being restored to life again, by the joint meditation of the people's prayers, she declared unto them how she had been presented before the judgment seat of Almighty God; and among many other particulars, how of sixty thousand of all Nations as well Christians as Infidels, who by divers sorts of death had departed this life at the same instant with her, only three souls of so huge a multitude were adjudged to Purgatory, and all the rest damned to eternal fire. O how true is it, that many enter indeed by the large and spacious way of perdition! S. Chrysostom grounding himself on the fence of these words of our Savior Christ, doth confidently affirm; that the number is far greater of those who go to hell, but yet the kingdom of God, though it hath fewer inhabitants is more capacious: Multo sunt plures gehennam ingredientes, sed majus est Dei regnu, licet habiat paucos. And tell me, sayth he how many think you of those who live in this City shall be saved. I know that which I shall say will offend your ears, but not withstanding I will utter it: Of so many thousand, scarcely one hundred; and I doubt me whether I have not been too large in my account. For a how much malice is there now-a-days in the younger sort, in the elder how much negligence etc. This was the discourse of that most prudent and saintly man, that Doctor of the Church, and light of the world S. Chrysostom, in that mighty and populous City of Antioch, and that too in such a time, when the fervor was not yet extinguished of the Primitive Church; and who then shall wonder if S. Paul with so much solicitude doth admonish us to work our salvation with fear and trembling. cum metu a tremore vestram salutem operamini; and our Savior Christ in such express terms exhorts us to endeavor to enter by the narrow gate?

Truth cries out unto us, strive to labor and endeavor with all your forces to enter into this gate by works worthy of penance, into which we cannot be admitted without much industry and a resolution to overcome all difficulties whatsoever; and those who falter and go lingering on, may never hope to arrive unto it. For unless the mind's intention be fervent indeed, saith Saint Bede, and a man forcibly overcome himself he will easily recoil, and be wholly unable to persevere in so narrow a passage: so great is the effusion of the unruly appetites of his flesh; to say nothing of the temptations, and persecutions which the world, and the devil procure those who endeavor to enter by this narrow way. And even as a water-man who rows against the stream must add so much the more force unto his oar, so those who steer on their souls, towards Heaven in spite of the practices of the enemy, must enforce themselves with all the virtue they have to overcome the violence they find with greater violence, for fear their souls should be carried away by force of the stream like boats into irrecoverable error. Eugilate neque iusti, et nolite peccare.

Wherefore all you that are just be watchful, and do not sin: neither is any to be accounted watchful but as in all places, at all times so lead their lives as if each day were the last they should ever see, and have so wary an eye over their conscience in all thoughts and works as if they were instantly to die. Let us therefore do that whilst we may, which (otherwise) when we may no longer, we shall wish to have done: Quae seminaverit homo haec et meret, a man shall reap, only that which he hath sown, and so he who sows in his flesh doth reap corruption from his flesh again; whereas he who sows in spirit doth reap from his spirit an eternal life.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Treatise on the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin

Here is A Treatise on the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin by St. Louis-Marie Montfort, the faithful translation of Fr. Faber, of which he says he says: "I have translated the whole treatise myself, and have taken great pains with it, and have been scrupulously faithful." The TAN books edition has the same words "scrupulously faithful", making the book look like the faithful translation of Fr. Faber, but in fact, is a different translation. They did more than just update the archaic words and expressions in the new translation. Some parts are more clearer in the original translation than in the new translation, and vice versa; one may read both translations, as well as another translation which is different from TAN's newer translation, available here:

This is a very important book; Fr. Faber says in preface: "...GOD is pressing for a greater, a wider, a stronger, quite another devotion to His Blessed Mother. I cannot think of a higher work or a broader vocation for any one than the simple spreading of this peculiar devotion...Let a man but try it for himself, and his surprise at the graces it brings with it, and the transformations it causes in his soul, will soon convince him of its otherwise almost incredible efficacy as a means for the salvation of men...."

The full preface:

Preface of Fr. Faber

All those who are likely to read this book
love God, and lament that they do not love Him
more; all desire something for His glory,—the
spread of some good work, the success of some
devotion, the coming of some good time. One
man has been striving for years to overcome a
particular fault, and has not succeeded. Another
mourns, and almost wonders while he
mourns, that so few of his relations and friends
have been converted to the faith. One grieves
that he has not devotion enough; another that
he has a cross to carry, which is a peculiarly
impossible cross to him; while a third has domestic
troubles and family unhappinesses, which
feel almost incompatible with his salvation; and
for all these things prayer appears to bring so
little remedy.
But what is the remedy that is
wanted? what is the remedy indicated by God
Himself? If we may rely on the disclosures of
the Saints, it is an immense increase of devotion
to our Blessed Lady; but, remember, nothing
short of an immense one.
Here, in England, Mary is not half enough preached. Devotion
to her is low and thin and poor.
it is that Jesus is not loved, that heretics are
not converted, that the Church is not exalted;
that souls, which might be saints, wither and
dwindle; that the Sacraments are not rightly
frequented, or souls enthusiastically evangelised.

Jesus is obscured because Mary is kept in the
background. Thousands of souls perish because
Mary is withheld from them. It is the miserable
unworthy shadow which we call our devotion
to the Blessed Virgin that is the cause of all
these wants and blights, these evils and omissions
and declines. Yet, if we are to believe
the revelations of the Saints, God is pressing for
a greater, a wider, a stronger, quite another
devotion to His Blessed Mother.
I cannot think of a higher work or a broader vocation for any
one than the simple spreading of this peculiar
devotion of the Venerable Grignon de Montfort.
Let a man but try it for himself, and his surprise
at the graces it brings with it, and the
transformations it causes in his soul, will soon
convince him of its otherwise almost incredible
efficacy as a means for the salvation of men,
and for the coming of the kingdom of Christ.

Oh, if Mary were but known, there would be no
coldness to Jesus then ! Oh, if Mary were but
known, how much more wonderful would be our
faith, and how different would our Communions
be! Oh, if Mary were but known, how much
happier, how much holier, how much less worldly
should we be, and how much more should we
be living images of our sole Lord and Saviour,
her dearest and most blessed Son!

I have translated the whole treatise myself,
and have taken great pains with it, and have
been scrupulously faithful.
[note: the TAN books version uses this same preface of Fr. Faber but does not use his translation of the book and did more than just update the few archaic languages.]
At the same time,
I would venture to warn the reader that one
perusal will be very far from making him master
of it. If I may dare to say so, there is a growing
feeling of something inspired and supernatural
about it, as we go on studying it; and
with that we cannot help experiencing, after
repeated readings of it, that its novelty never
seems to wear off, nor its fulness to be diminished,
nor the fresh fragrance and sensible fire
of its unction ever to abate.

F. W.

Sacred and Immaculate Hearts

Sacred and Immaculate Hearts

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Pillar of Scourging of Our Lord JESUS

Pillar of Scourging of Our Lord JESUS

Shroud of Turin

Shroud of Turin