"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Saturday, March 10, 2018

SELF-LOVE & On the Necessity of Holy Fear and Avoiding Sloth

by the Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul, 1893

"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I have become as a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. ... If I should have all faith so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."--1. Cor. xiii. 1,2,3. 

We see from these texts that charity is indispensable. We must have it or we shall never see the face of God in heaven. Nothing whatever can take the place of it. And what is this charity? Charity is another name for love. The charity of God is, then, the same as the love of God. We must love God, or we shall not be united to Him for all eternity. This is what our Blessed Saviour said: "This is the first and greatest commandment: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and all thy mind and all thy strength."

But what does this love of God consist in? It consists chiefly in keeping faithfully God's commandments. When the young man asked our Lord, "What shall I do to enter into life?" the answer was, "Keep the commandments"; and St. John, inspired by the Holy Ghost, says: "This is the charity (or love) of God, that we keep the commandments."

This being so, I can express the meaning of my text by saying: "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and do not keep the commandments of God, I am become as a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal." Yes, we may talk as eloquently as possible about the faith and our holy religion, and profess to love it, but if we at the same time violate the commandments, or any one of them wilfully, then we are hypocrites, the true love of God is not in us; it is all empty noise. The love of God is not in high-wrought feelings or in high-sounding phrases, but in the true disposition of obedience. When we begin to understand in the least what God is, then we should desire to possess Him, which is the same as possessing the Infinite good, and to obey Him in all things, that is, keep His commandments as well as we can. This is the true love of God, although we may be destitute of the feeling of love which we have naturally to our fellow-men whom we like.

If we faithfully keep God's commandments we pay Him true homage and worship--such as is acceptable to Him and worthy of Him. It is not the one who says, "Lord, Lord, that shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven." Brethren, let us not deceive ourselves. "Be not deceived, for God is not mocked." Many seem to deceive themselves, thinking they can put something else in the place of keeping God's commandments. One says to himself: I will go to Mass. I will repeat prayers while I am there. I will feel devout, but I will continue to drink. I shall get intoxicated from time to time without doubt, but God, seeing my devotion, will not be so hard on me. He will forgive this failing. Another says: I am tempted to impurity and to indulgence in lust. I cannot give this up; it is too much to ask of me; I will sin from time to time, but I will pray. I will go to Confession and Communion occasionally. God will overlook it. You deceive yourself. You have not charity, and without charity all the prayers, all the Masses, all the Confessions, and all the Communions in the world will profit you nothing.

Another says: I will fast; I will give alms; I will help to build churches and schools; I will feed the poor, but I cannot give up that sin that I am addicted to. The Apostle warns you that God will not make any such bargain with you. You must put away that sin; you must cease absolutely from every mortal sin, and not for a day or a week, but for your whole life. Let all your prayers, all your fasting, all your self-denial, all your thoughts, all your desires, during this holy season of Lent, be directed to this one end and object, to get this true charity of God, which will bring you without fail to your true home in heaven, where you shall be united by love to God and happy beyond all expression for the endless ages of eternity.

Litany of Charity
by Pope Pius VI.

Lord, have mercy on me.
Christ, have mercy on me.
Lord, have mercy on me.
Christ, hear me.
Christ, graciously hear me.

Heavenly Father, true God,
have mercy on me.

Son, Redeemer of the world, true God,
have mercy on me.

Holy Ghost, true God;
have mercy on me.

Holy Trinity, one only God,
have mercy on me.

Thou who art inifinite love, *

Thou who hast anticipated me by Thy love, *

Thou, who commandest me to love Thee, *

Thou, who for love of me, hast given Thy only Son, *

With all my heart,
I love Thee, O my God, **

With all my soul, with all my mind, with all my strength, **

Above all goods and honors, above all joys and pleasure, **

More than myself and all that is mine, more than kindred and friends, more than all men and angels, **

Above all created things in heaven and on earth, solely for Thyself; because Thou art the sovereign good; because Thou art infinitly worthy to be loved because Thou art infinitely perfect, **

Even hadst Thou not promised me heaven, **

Even hadst Thou not threatened me with hell, **

Even shouldst Thou try me by miseries and adversity, **

In plenty and want, in prosperity and adversity, in honor and dishonor, in pleasure and suffering, **

In health and in sickness, in life and in death, in time and eternity, **

In union with that love, with which all the Saints and angels love Thee in heaven; in union with that love with which the Blessed Virgin loved Thee; in union with that infinite love with which Thou lovest Thyself and wilt love Thyself eternally, **

Our Father, &c.

Let us pray:
O God! who possessest in incomprehensible abundance all that can ever be perfect and worthy of love, extinguish in me all culpable, sensual and disorderly love for creatures, and enkindle in my heart the most pure fire of Thy sincere, powerful and continual love, in order that I may love nothing but Thee alone, or for Thee, until consumed by Thy most holy love I may begin to live where I shall perfectly possess Thee, with all Thy elect, and love Thee without end. Amen.


On the Necessity of Holy Fear and Avoiding Sloth
by Fr. Paolo Segneri, 1892

A wise man will fear in everything, and in the days of sin will beware of sloth (Ecclus. xviii. 27)

Consider first, how natural it is for a wise man to fear, for the wiser a man is, the more clearly he sees the dangers which beset the way of the Lord, from which no one is safe until death, that is, until he has reached the end of that way. But it is not said, "He shall be afraid of everything," but, "He shall fear in everything." Since as to thy past life, when thou hast used due diligence, without excessive anxiety, in confessing candidly all thy sins, and hast tried to excite thyself to true contrition and a real resolution of amendment, though thou mayest have some reason to fear, thou hast much more reason to hope. It is said therefore: "Be not devoid of fear for sin propitiated." The words are not, "Be fearful," but a milder phrase is used, "Be not devoid of fear." Some fear should be ever present to thee, but not very great fear. Very great fear thou shouldst have regarding the works thou hast now to do to ensure thy doing them well. Yet it ought not to be a servile fear, like that of the slaves who bend to the oar from fear of the lash. It should be a generous fear, such as a son feels who dreads separation from his father as the greatest evil that can befall him.

Consider secondly, what is the effect which should be produced in thee by this fear, "the holy fear of the Lord." The effect should be "to keep thee from sloth," especially "in the days of sin." This fear ought not to make thee scrupulous, in other words, to raise alarms without cause; but to make thee cautious, circumspect, watchful over thyself, abstaining not only from sin, but likewise from sloth. This is most important. Thou art on thy guard against sin, but not against idleness, tepidity, weariness, sloth, which make thee so feeble in doing good. If thou cease to do good, rest assured that thou wilt soon go on to do evil. This is the worst tendency of our fallen nature. If great violence be not employed to rein it in, it dashes like a wild horse over the precipice.

Consider thirdly, that this watchfulness is more especially called for "in the days of sin," because thou art then more easily carried along by the current. But what are these "days of sin," if they are not precisely those which are now upon us, the days of the Carnival? during which it appears to be lawful to think only of self-indulgence, idle conversation, much eating, frantic dancing, love-making, shameless effrontery, and the revival in Christendom of the follies of the heathen world. Now, therefore, is the time to "guard against sloth," against slackness in good deeds, neglect of pious practices, examinations of conscience, general and particular, and the reading of devout books, since it is very easy for thee to run with the rest to the precipice. "A wise man will fear in all things, and in the days of sin," that is in "days," according to another reading, "dedicated to sin"--an exact description of these days of Carnival--" will keep himself from sloth."

Consider fourthly, furthermore, that "days of sin " are days when reigning princes either favour vice, or do not punish it: "the days of sin" are days in which schism, rebellion, violence, civil war, oppress the people: "the days of sin" are days in which relaxation of discipline has crept into the community to which thou dost belong, and Superiors have not power to reinstate a fervent life. But above all, know well that in thy case "the days of sin" are days in which all thy affairs go prosperously, in the enjoyment of good health, riches, popularity, applause, or any other accidental gift which affords matter for complacency. Then shalt thou most readily forget the Lord, since thou hast then apparently less need of Him; then, therefore, it behoves thee ever to "beware of sloth," and to give thyself to good works, both for fear of exciting the anger of God by thy ingratitude, and because thou art then in unusual peril: for on the voyage of this mortal life it is not as in other kinds of navigation. In any other voyage the ship goes safely with the wind astern; but in the voyage of life, when the wind blows fair the ship is in the greatest danger, and at such a time thou must more than ever "fear in everything," commending thyself incessantly to God as men do if shipwreck is imminent.