Sunday, July 26, 2009

refuse himself what is allowable, because he often indulged in what was forbidden.

States of Christian Life and Vocation, According to the Doctors and Theologians of the Church by Jean-Baptiste Berthier

St. Paul, who among the apostles was the last to be converted to Jesus Christ, embraced evangelical perfection immediately after his marvellous conversion. Many new converts to the faith of the Church enter the religious state soon after their reception into the fold of Christ. Who would be so bad an adviser as to recommend them to remain in the world rather than seek in a monastery a shelter for their baptismal grace? Who but a silly man would attempt to make them alter their holy resolves ? This suffices, then, to show how ridiculous it is to pretend that we should keep away from the religious life all those who have not for a long time observed the commandments of God. "[3]

As to repentant sinners, it is plain that, even after the most grievous sins, they may enter the path of the counsels. Furthermore, to speak properly, it is especially befitting for them to undertake the life of the counsels. For one has all the more reason to refuse himself what is allowable, because he often indulged in what was forbidden. And the more grievous the harm we have done to ourselves by sin, the more we ought to increase our gains by repentance. For this reason Pope Stephen, writing to one Astolphus, who had been guilty of heinous crimes, said to him : " Follow our counsel : enter a monastery." We might adduce, in support of this doctrine, many examples of the saints. Several of them, after a life of terrible sin, began immediately to practise the counsels, and shut themselves up in the most austere monasteries, without devoting any previous time to the commandments.[4] " When people tell us that, before entering on the counsels, one should have a habit of keeping the commandments, it is as if they said that we should first keep the commandments imperfectly before trying to observe them fully which is a foolish assertion. Who, then, is senseless enough to stop one that wishes to love God and his neighbor perfectly, and first restrict him to imperfect charity ? Have we to fear lest a man should reach too soon perfect love for God ?

" Again, who will bid him that seeks to observe continence or virginity, begin by living chastely in the married state? Who would dare to advise a person desirous of embracing poverty for the sake of Jesus Christ, first to live amid riches and observe the laws of justice, as if the possession of wealth were a preparation for the practice of poverty, whereas, on the contrary, wealth throws many obstacles in its way? Are we bound to say to a young man : Live among persons of the opposite sex or among libertines, so as to form yourself to chastity , which you will afterward observe in religion as if it were easier to cultivate that virtue in the world than in the cloister? Those who parade such a doctrine resemble generals that, at the very outset, would expose to the severest shocks of war raw recruits that have only recently been drafted into the army.

" Yet we are willing to grant that those who, in the world, have faithfully kept the commandments will afterward be able to make greater spiritual progress in religion ; but if, on the one side, the observance of the commandments in a secular life makes a man fitter for the practice of the counsels, on the other, the habit of secular life is an obstacle to the practice of perfection.[5] The religious state is a school that draws us away from evil, and conducts us more easily to perfection. Persons of feeble virtue, and but little versed in the fulfilment of God's law, have greater need than others of the means of preservation which the religious life affords : it is easier for them to shun sin in religion than it would be were they living under the freedom of the world.[6] Religious observance, at the same time that it removes the hindrances to perfect charity, also does away with the occasions of sin ; for it is evident that fasting, watching, obedience, and other exercises of the same nature, keep a man from the excesses of intemperance, from failing in chastity, and from every other kind of sin. Entering religion, therefore, is an advantage, not only to those who have long fulfilled the commandments, since it leads them to far greater perfection, but for those also who have not done so, because, thereby, it is easier for them to keep from sin and acquire perfection.[7] Holy orders demand previous holiness ; but the religious state is a means to holiness. The superstructure of holy orders can be laid only on foundations dried and solidified by virtue; the burden of religion of itself dries its own foundations, and relieves man from the moisture and vitiating influences of passion. "[8] These last words of the Angelic Doctor are worthy of remark; and they show that we must never confound the conditions requisite for entering religion with those that are indispensable for taking holy orders. Deception on this point would expose us to exclude from the religious state persons who are exceedingly in need of it, and for whom that life may be strictly obligatory, as we have already stated in the fifth chapter of this section. For there are souls guilty only because they are cast among occasions, or because they have not in the world sufficient means of preservation. Give them the shelter and resources of the religious life, and they will pass their days without difficulty in the grace of God.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Medical examinations and modesty

St. Gemma Galgani:

"I never wanted to obey when they wished a doctor to visit me (for I never wanted anyone to touch me or see me.) One evening a doctor came unannounced, examined me by force and found an abscess on my body which he feared was very serious because he thought it had affected my spine.For a long time I had felt pain in that part of my body but I did not want to touch or look at it because when I was a little girl I had heard a priest say: "Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit." Those words had struck me and led me to guard my body as closely as possible. After he had visited me the doctor called a consultant. What affliction it caused me, dear Father, to have to uncover myself. Every time the doctor touched me I cried. After the consultation I grew steadily worse and I was forced to go to bed and was not able to move. Every remedy was used on me but instead of helping me they made me worse. While I was in bed I was ill at ease and a source of annoyance to all.The second day I was in bed I was not at peace and I wrote to Monsignor telling him that I wanted to see him. He came at once and I made a general confession, not indeed because I was so bad off but to regain peace of conscience which I had lost. After confession my peace with Jesus returned and as a sign of this, on that same evening I experienced a very deep sorrow for my sins.Then, dear Father, the pain became worse and worse and the doctors decided to operate on me (in that part of which I have spoken). Three doctors came (and what I suffered from the pain was as nothing). I felt pain and suffering only when I found myself in their presence almost entirely unclothed. Dear Father, how much better it would have been for me to die! Finally the doctors saw that all remedies were useless and they gave me up entirely. After that they came to see me only now and then through courtesy, so to speak."

Later, when Gemma was given the extraordinary grace of the Stigmata along with frequent ecstasies, her Confessor Monsignor Volpi requested that Doctors examine Gemma while in ecstasy, and also the stigmata, in hopes to document and authenticate their veracity. Concerning this, Gemma writes in her autobiography-

"Meanwhile the Friday occurrences continued and Monsignor thought it well to have a doctor visit me during one of them without my knowing it. But Jesus warned me saying: "Tell your confessor that in the presence of the doctor I will do none of the things that he desires." Following the advice of Jesus I told my confessor about this but he did as he had planned, and events turned out as Jesus had said, as you already know."

St. Paul of the Cross:

There is no doubt of St. Paul's being always spotless in purity. His maxims on the point of treating with the opposite sex deserves attention. "As long as our bones are covered with skin, there is reason to be afraid." He states that many persons, advanced in years, even though meritorious in most walks of life, have fallen into sins for want of caution. Beautiful and practical were the rules laid down for the custody of this virtue. His advise to priests and religious was: Let your conversation with ladies be brief and stiff. One fruit seen everywhere the saint had been was that his penitents could be distinguished from their companions by their modesty in dress and deportment. He performed miracles more than once to save female modesty from the surgeon's knife and many were deprived of his friendship because they would not come up to his standards of decorum.

St. Vincent de Paul:

Friday, July 3, 2009

rise early to pray

" Love not sleep, lest poverty oppress thee; open thy eyes, and be filled with bread." For, doubtless, he well knew what we see happen every day, namely, that he who does not rise early to pray, either does not pray at all, or else very carelessly. What care dost thou take in this matter ? Whenever sleep tempts thee to stay in bed too long,. repeat to thyself these words of the Wise Man, and thou wilt find them urge thee to spring at once from that couch where heaviness, not necessity, keeps thee lying: "The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails deeply fastened in;" they are "goads" to spur thee on to good, and "nails" to withhold thee from evil.
if thou sufferest thyself to be overcome by sleep in the morning, either thou neglectest thy usual prayer altogether, or at any rate it is so careless and so scanty that thou gainest thence no strength for doing well, in which, after all, true riches consist.

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