"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]

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

TradCatKnight: October Message, “I am an Eagle”

TradCatKnight: October Message, “I am an Eagle”
 Lift not up thy eyes to riches which thou canst not have: because they shall make themselves wings like those of an eagle, and shall fly towards heaven. Proverbs 23:5
Brothers and Sisters I write to you in the Selfless Love and peace of the Union and Marriage of Jesus Christ and of His Sacred Heart and all the blessings that flow forth from it. Why, O’ men, do thou look for, that which to the eye draws the heart in but only moves the soul further away from God? Why doesn’t man in his endless chase of ‘things” find out that he only pursues in vain? Thus, is this perfect society we seek one that strives for perfection “on the surface level” bowing down to human favor or is it in reality a pursuit of Christ alone and all that He encompasses? Nay, the nations must be ruled by the Divine Law if order is to be restored. But the weary continue to wear their own “self” out by dragging it from this “thing’ to the next and yet the soul is not satisfied!  An eagle learns to detach his heart (poverty, simplicity & humility) from all things so that he may fly freely interiorly in the “yoke of His blue skies”and yet how many wilst stay grounded due to the heavy weight that the “self” carries. . Who satisfieth thy desire with good things: thy youth shall be renewed like the eagle' s. Psalms 102:5  Thence, the soul must move inwardly and upwardly through the Fortress of God following his will and intellect wilst avoiding even the smallest venial sin. Wisdom sayeth, “… as often as I would acquire on the surface is nearly as often as I would stay imprisoned within”. For in what I would acquire would only weigh my wings down, in so that, my faith and hope would be placed upon transient things and not the One who makes and grants all things according to His Will.

Be of good cheer for the true renewal is nigh at hand! Be ye refreshed by the Waters of the “youth of His joy”! Moreover, the Purification of the senses and spirit is something every man must accomplish, either in this life or the next, in order to fly freely as One with the Son above. Yet how many wilst stay in the solitude & silence long enough so as to pay attention to his own heart’s movements either toward “self” or to His Sacred Heart? The video I have provided below is only meant to touch upon the surface as to what embodies “being an Eagle”. For God has not ordained man to fly like a sparrow off into the mountains in hiding but rather as an eagle to fly “head on and above” the very storm sent unto him. This is willed by God in order for him to rise above his own human nature and above the clouds of “self”. Does the eagle not ascend higher when met with the mighty wind of the storm? Then why do we run from our own storms in this life? Yea, eagles are excited for the storm and are found above the storm clouds not below like the frightened sparrows!  In the Lord I put my trust: how then do you say to my soul: Get thee away from hence to the mountain like a sparrow? Psalms 10:2

Verily, let us consider 12 guiding characteristics of what embodies being an eagle.  First, as a Knight or Handmaid of the Immaculate and Sacred Heart, we find a “life of service” rooted in the Selfless Love of our King and Queen. Is it not, that in the End, we will be judged according to Charity? Therefore, an eagle works for Love works. He serves God and neighbor by humbly looking for opportunities to put his Faith on display. Second, he/she continually pursues the virtues; he/ she values silence, solitude and simplicity which is necessary for the soul to grow in accordance to the graces it is merited. He/she is a contemplative yet who understands how vitally important it is to be engaged with others. He refrains from idle talk and pursues to satisfy the Sacred Heart in even the smallest of his hearts actions. Third, he/she is well learned in the Faith. Time is spent daily not only in prayer but in rigorous study to (1)expand our own learning of Holy Religion but also (2) to be better able to defend against errors or heresies. Are we not called to walk as a pilgrim(detached) in this life so as to better know the God we serve and adore? Than what a great way we have in following” the stars (Saints) of night”  in our pilgrimage who assist in “lighting’ our own walk here below. Therefore, an eagle is found studying the councils, encyclicals and the works of the popes and saints not for knowledge’s own sake but rather so that he can be a better asset for the Almighty. Fourth, he is an evangelist who teaches and spreads the Gospel of Christ promoting and knowing nothing other than the Social Reign of our Lord Jesus Christ. And like, St.Francis, he preaches often, by not even uttering a word but allowing his actions to walk before him. 

Fifth, he/she is ready to adapt or change and I do not speak of theological change which the Vatican II modernists have already accomplished but rather the practical change that will be necessary in the days ahead. For as God’s Justice weighs heavy upon the world the eagle detached shall  fly free and be a model to all those who are still afflicted by “self”.  He/she renews the promise each morning to be, not only at war with the self, his greatest enemy, but also of the world, flesh and the devil. Yea, an eagle seeks spiritual perfection, therefore, how can the Knight of God be called a brute or mercenary? Sixth, an eagle is pro-life and a patriot. He/she loves the homeland regardless of the sins that cry out unto God and is further willing to be that instrument of change for God’s good purpose. He or she loves the brotherhood or sisterhood, that is, the Knights or Handmaids, who compose this order. Seventh, he/she defends Christ, Our Lady, the Church and Her Sacraments with their own lives. For what eagle does not protect its’ own nest from the incoming invaders? Further, in all things we shall point to God Whom was, is and forevermore shall be, our Source and End. More exactly, by carefully guiding and taking custody over each movement of the heart an eagle learns the interior discipline necessary to ultimately make an impact on the world for the greater good. Eight, in simplicity an eagle follows the daily basic doctrine of Christ, that is, to deny the “self”, take up holy suffering (Cross) and follow Him. For an eagle does not seek honors, status or a place in this world but only rather to be a humble instrument of the Almighty.  Further he/she defends the innocent and helpless recognizing the Face of Christ upon the suffering and defenseless. Moreover, an eagle also preserves the traditional family for it is the only plan of God. 

Ninth, an eagle takes up modesty both in speech and in dress. Recognizing that the society will not change unless “I do” , therefore, we lead by example drawing more souls unto our work. The Knight is chivalrous and the Handmaid is a soft spoken flower whose petals vibrantly draw souls in to “have a look”. Tenth, an eagle is a contemplative in action, valuing prayer, for it is the door of the Fortress, but also finding that balance of duty he owes unto his neighbor. He/she is not found idling or running from this distracted endeavor to the next. No, rather, this Knight or Handmaid has structure and purpose to the day. Next, an eagle is deeply devoted to Our Lady, the Rosary and the Scapular. An eagle stays close to the Immaculate Heart of our Mother, who thence in return, leads us more deeply into the Divine life of the Trinity.  Do we not seek to “be absorbed into” the Sacred Heart the Source and End of our salvation?   

Nay, you will always find an eagle close to the sacraments for this is our “home or nest”. “Where the Body is so too shall the eagles gather…”  Lastly, he/she is a true traditionalist, that is, one who does not accept Vatican II nor the New Mass for both are consequences of modernist revolutionaries. Yea, we are true friends of the peoples who will be looking to “restore order’ from the madmen who seek to undo it and implement their new-age nonsense. In summary, a Knight or Handmaid of God is discreet, well spoken, selfless, generous, loyal, humble, courageous, honest, honorable, gentle in general but firm with the enemies of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church. This is, in part, what it is meant to “be an eagle”.  May thee Immaculate Heart of Our Lady guide, protect and guard your heart everyday in this exile, Ave Maria – Amen.

TradCatKnight Presents: "I am an Eagle!"


 by Cardinal Desire Mercier (1851-1926)
Mortification of the body

1 - In the matter of food, restrict yourself as far as possible to simple necessity. Consider these words which Saint Augustine addressed to God: "O my God, Thou hast taught me to take food only as a remedy. Ah! Lord, who is there among us who does not sometimes exceed the limit here? If there is such a one I say that man is great, and must give great glory to Thy name." (Confessions, book X, ch. 31)

2 - Pray to God often, pray to God daily to help you by His grace so that you do not overstep the limits of necessity and do not permit yourself to give way to pleasure.

3 - Take nothing between meals, unless out of necessity or for the sake of convenience.

4 - Practice fasting and abstinence, but practice them only under obedience and with discretion.

5 - It is not forbidden for you to enjoy some bodily satisfaction, but do so with a pure intention, giving thanks to God.
A Christian must practice mortification
to advance in the interior life

6 - Regulate your sleep, avoiding in this all faint­heartedness, all softness, especially in the morning. Set an hour, if you can, for going to bed and getting up, and keep strictly to it.

7 - In general, take your rest only in so far as it is necessary; give yourself generously to work, not sparing your labor. Take care not to exhaust your body, but guard against indulging it; as soon as you feel it even a little disposed to play the master, treat it as once as a slave.

8 - If you suffer some slight indisposition, avoid being a nuisance to others through your bad mood; leave to your companions the task of complaining for you; for yourself, be patient and silent as the Divine Lamb who has truly borne all our weaknesses.

9 - Guard against making the slightest illness a reason for dispensation or exemption from your daily schedule. "One must detest like the plague every exception when it comes to rules," wrote Saint John Berchmans.

10 - Accept with docility, endure humbly, patiently and with perseverance, the tiresome mortification called illness.

Mortification of the senses, of the imagination and the passions
1 - Close your eyes always and above all to every dangerous sight, and even - have the courage to do it - to every frivolous and useless sight. See without looking; do not gaze at anybody to judge of their beauty or ugliness.

2 - Keep your ears closed to flattering remarks, to praise, to persuasion, to bad advice, to slander, to uncharitable mocking, to indiscretions, to ill­disposed criticism, to suspicions voiced, to every word capable of causing the very smallest coolness between two souls.
3 - If the sense of smell has something to suffer due to your neighbor's infirmity or illness, far be it from you ever to complain of it; draw from it a holy joy.
4 - In what concerns the quality of food, have great respect for Our Lord's counsel: "Eat such things as are set before you." "Eat what is good without delighting in it, what is bad without expressing aversion to it, and show yourself equally indifferent to the one as to the other. There," says St. Francis de Sales, "is a real mortification."

5 - Offer your meals to God; at table impose on yourself a tiny penance: for example, refuse a sprinkling of salt a glass of wine, a sweet, etc.; your companions will not notice it, but God will keep account of it.

6 - If what you are given appeals to you very much, think of the gall and the vinegar given to Our Lord on the cross: that cannot keep you from tasting, but will serve as a counterbalance to the pleasure.
7 - You must avoid all sensual contact, every caress in which you set some passion, by which you look for passion, from which you take a joy which is principally of the senses.

8 - Refrain from going to warm yourself, unless this is necessary to save you from being unwell.
9 - Bear with everything which naturally grieves the flesh, especially the cold of winter, the heat of summer, a hard bed and every inconvenience of that kind. Whatever the weather, put on a good face; smile at all temperatures. Say with the prophet: "Cold, heat, rain, bless ye the Lord." It will be a happy day for us when we are able to say with a good heart these words which were familiar to St. Francis de Sales: "I am never better than when I am not well."

10 - Mortify your imagination when it beguiles you with the lure of a brilliant position, when it saddens you with the prospect of a dreary future, when it irritates you with the memory of a word or deed which offended you.

11 - If you feel within you the need to day dream, mortify it without mercy.

12 - Mortify yourself with the greatest care in the matter of impatience, of irritation or of anger.

13 - Examine your desires thoroughly; submit them to the control of reason and of faith: do you never desire a long life rather than a holy life, wish for pleasure and well-being without trouble or sadness, victory without battle, success without setbacks, praise without criticism, a comfortable, peaceful life without a cross of any sort, that is to say a life quite opposite to that of Our Divine Lord?

14 - Take care not to acquire certain habits which, without being positively bad, can become injurious, such as habits of frivolous reading, of playing at games of chance, etc...

15 - Seek to discover your predominant failing and, as soon as you have recognized it, pursue it all the way to its last retreat. To that purpose, submit with good will to whatever could be monotonous or boring in the practice of the examination of conscience.

16 - You are not forbidden to have a heart and to show it, but be on your guard against the danger
of exceeding due measure. Resist attachments which are too natural, particular friendships and all softness of heart.
Mortification of the mind and the will
1 - Mortify your mind by denying it all fruitless imaginings, all ineffectual or wandering thoughts which waste time, dissipate the soul, and render work and serious things distasteful.

2 - Every gloomy and anxious thought should be banished from your mind. Concern about all that could happen to you later on should not worry you at all. As for the bad thoughts which bother you in spite of yourself, you should, in dismissing them, make of them a subject for patience. Being involuntary, they will simply be for you an occasion of merit.

3 - Avoid obstinacy in your ideas, stubbornness in your sentiments. You should willingly let the judgments of others prevail, unless there is a question of matters on which you have a duty to give you opinion and speak out.

4 - Mortify the natural organ of your mind, which is to say the tongue. Practice silence gladly, whether your rule prescribes it for you or whether you impose it on yourself of your own accord.

5 - Prefer to listen to others rather than to speak yourself; and yet speak appropriately, avoiding as extremes both speaking too much, which prevents others from telling their thoughts, and speaking too little, which suggests a hurtful lack of interest in what they say.

6 - Never interrupt somebody who is speaking and do not forestall, by answering too swiftly, a question he would put to you.

7 - Always have a moderate tone of voice, never abrupt or sharp. Avoid very, extremely, horribly; all exaggeration.

8 - Love simplicity and straightforwardness. The pretenses, evasions, deliberate equivocations which certain pious people indulge in without scruple greatly discredit piety.

9 - Carefully refrain from using any coarse, vulgar or even idle word, because Our Lord warns us that He will ask an account of them from us on the day of judgment.

10 - Above all, mortify your will; that is the decisive point. Bend it constantly to what you know is God's good pleasure and the rule of Providence, without taking any account either of your likes or your dislikes. Be submissive, even to your inferiors, in matters which do not concern the glory of God and the duties of your position.

11 - Look on the smallest disobedience to the orders or even the desires of your superiors as if it were addressed to God.

12 - Remember that you will practice the greatest of all mortifications when you love to be humiliated and when you have the most perfect obedience towards those to whom God wishes you to be subject.

13 - Love to be forgotten and counted as nothing; it is the advice of Saint John of the Cross, it is the counsel of the Imitation of Christ: speak seldom either well or ill of yourself, but seek by silence to make yourself forgotten.

14 - Faced with a humiliation, a reproach, you are tempted to grumble, to feel sorry for yourself. Say with David: "So much the better! It is good that I should be humbled."

15 - Entertain no frivolous desires: "I desire few things," said Saint Francis de Sales, "and the little that I desire, I desire very little."

16 - Accept with the most perfect resignation the mortifications decreed by Providence, the crosses and the labors belonging to the state of life in which Providence has placed you. "There, where , there is less of our choice," said Saint Francis, "there is more of the good pleasure of God." We would like to choose our crosses, to have a cross other than our own, to carry a heavy cross which would at least have some fame, rather than a light cross which tires us by being unceasingly there: an illusion! It is our cross we must carry, not another, and its merit is not in what sort of cross it is, but in the perfection with which we carry it.

17 - Do not let yourself be troubled by temptations, scruples, spiritual dryness: "What we do in time of dryness has more merit in the sight of God than what we do in time of consolation," says the saintly Bishop of Geneva.

18 - Do not fret too much about your imperfections, but humble yourself because of
them. To humble oneself is a good thing, which few people understand; to be troubled and vexed at oneself is something that everybody knows, and which is bad, because in that kind of distress and vexation self-love always plays the greater part.

19 - Let us beware alike of the timidity and despondency which saps our courage, and of the presumption which is only pride in action. Let us work as if everything depended on our efforts, but let us remain humble as if our work were useless.
Mortifications to practice in our exterior actions

1 - You ought to show the greatest exactitude in observing all the points of your rule of life, obeying them without delay, remembering Saint John Berchmans, who said: "Penance for me is to lead the common life"; "To have the highest regard for the smallest things, such is my motto"; "Rather die than break a single rule."

2 - In the exercise of your duties of state, try to be well-pleased with whatever happens to be most unpleasant or boring for you, recalling again her the words of Saint Francis: "I am never better than when I am not well."

3 - Never give one moment over to sloth: from morning until night keep busy without respite.

4 - If your life is, at least partly, spent in study, apply to yourself this advice from Saint Thomas Aquinas to his pupils: "Do not be content to take in superficially what you read and hear, but endeavor to go into it deeply and to fathom the whole sense of it. Never remain in doubt about what you could know with certainty. Work with a holy eagerness to enrich your mind; arrange and classify in your memory all the knowledge you are able to acquire. On the other hand, do not seek to penetrate mysteries which are beyond your intelligence."

5 - Devote yourself solely to your present occupation, without looking back on what went before or anticipating in thought what will follow. Say with Saint Francis: "While I am doing this I am not obliged to do anything else"; "let us make haste very calmly; all in good time."

6 - Be modest in your bearing. Nothing was so perfect as Saint Francis's deportment; he always kept his head straight, avoiding alike the inconstancy which turns it in all directions, the negligence which lets it droop forward and the proud and haughty disposition which throws it back. His countenance was always peaceful, free from all annoyance, always cheerful, serene and open; without however any merriment or indiscreet humor, without loud, immoderate or too frequent laughter.

7 - He was as composed when alone as in a large gathering. He did not cross his legs, never supported his head on his elbow. When he prayed he was motionless as a statue. When nature suggested to him he should relax, he did not listen.

8 - Regard cleanliness and order as a virtue, uncleanness and untidiness as a vice; do not have dirty, stained or torn clothes. On the other hand, regard luxury and worldliness as a greater vice still. Make sure that, on seeing your way of dressing, nobody calls it "slovenly" or "elegant", but that everybody is bound to think it "decent."
Mortifications to practice in our relations with our neighbor

1 - Bear with your neighbor's defects; defects of education, of mind, of character. Bear with everything about him which irritates you: his gait, his posture, tone of voice, accent, or whatever.

2 - Bear with everything in everybody and endure it to the end and in a Christian spirit. Never with that proud patience which makes one say: "What have I to do with so and so? How does what he says affect me? What need have I for the affection, the kindness or even the politeness of any creature at all and of that person in particular?" Nothing accords less with the will of God than this haughty unconcern, this scornful indifference; it is worse, indeed, than impatience.

3 - Are you tempted to be angry? For the love of Jesus, be meek.
To avenge yourself? Return good for evil; it is said the great secret of touching Saint Teresa's heart was to do her a bad turn.
To look sourly at someone? Smile at him with good nature.
To avoid meeting him? Seek him out willingly. To talk badly of him? Talk well of him.
To speak harshly to him? Speak very gently, warmly, to him.

4 - Love to give praise to your companions, especially those you are naturally most inclined to envy.

5 - Do not be witty at the expense of charity.
6 - If somebody in your presence should take the liberty of making remarks which are rather improper, or if someone should hold conversations likely to injure his neighbor's reputation, you may sometimes rebuke the speaker gently, but more often it will be better to divert the conversation skillfully or indicate by a gesture of sorrow or of deliberate inattention that what is said displeases you.
7 - It costs you an effort to render a small service: offer to do it. You will have twice the merit.

8 - Avoid with horror posing as a victim in your own eyes or those of others. Far be it from you to exaggerate your burdens; strive to find them light; they are so, in reality, much more often than it seems; they would be so always if you were more virtuous.
In general, know how to refuse to nature what she asks of you unnecessarily.
Know ho to make her give what she refuses you for no reason. Your progress in virtue, says the author of the Imitation of Christ, will be in proportion to the violence that you succeed in doing to yourself.
"It is necessary to die," said the saintly Bishop of Geneva, "It is necessary to die in order that God may live in us, for it is impossible to achieve the union of the soul with God by any means other than by mortification. These words 'it is necessary to die' are hard, but they will be followed by a great sweetness, because one dies to oneself for no other reason than to be united to God by that death."
Would to God we had the right to apply to ourselves these beautiful words of Saint Paul to the Corinthians: "In all things we suffer tribulation ... Always bearing about in our body the death of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies." (II Cor. 4:8-10)


By: Atila Sinke Guimarães

This September we saw Pope Francis carry out two major actions regarding marriage that were clearly meant to set precedents to influence the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, which will be gathering at the Vatican soon in October. This coming Synod is planned to be the first of two.

The 2014 Synod is meant to generate the information necessary for Bishops to be aware of the modern moral problems of family life; the 2015 Synod is intended to have the Bishops decide a new approach of the Catholic Church on family morals. 

A 20-couple-marriage

20 couples living in sin and giving public scandal surround
the Altar of the Confession at St. Peter's Basilica
The first bombastic initiative of Francis was to invite 20 couples from the Diocese of Rome to celebrate a solemn multiple wedding presided over by himself at St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday, September 14, 2014.

Let me stress that this ceremony was not requested by the couples, who had little relationship among themselves, but directly by the Pope. He commanded his Vatican officials to invite those persons and select each particular case. By setting this out clearly, I am avoiding beforehand the eternal excuse of countless conservatives for anything you say about Bergoglio – “But, poor Pope Francis did not know about it…”

Among these couples selected by Francis were persons in three different types of irregular situations:
  • Couples in which one of the two had a civil divorce;
  • Couples cohabitating for a long period of time;
  • Couples with children out of the wedlock.
All of those persons were married simultaneously by Francis in a solemn Mass at the Vatican. The last such multiple marriage ceremony was in 2000 when John Paul II married eight couples from different parts of the world as part of the Jubilee for Families in the millennium.

Many couples received Communion,
but no penance was announced for their public scandals
Many, if not all, of those couples married by Francis received Communion during the ceremony, although no news reports are available on whether they had previously gone to Confession or if any penance was given. It would seem only just to report those penances to the Catholic public, since those couples were giving public scandal by their lifestyles. But nothing was said about whether any repentance or penance was required by Francis to allow these persons to marry and receive Communion.

Bergoglio’s message could not be clearer: He wants Catholic Morals to change in order to no longer consider the three reported situations as sinful. Consequently, persons in these situations should not be removed from the Church’s life or barred from receiving Communion.

In his homily he did not address directly the anomalous situations of those couples. He included them under the generic topic of those “who ‘have become impatient on the way’ and who succumb to the dangerous temptation of discouragement, infidelity, weakness, abandonment... To them too, God the Father gives his Son Jesus, not to condemn them, but to save them. If they entrust themselves to Him, He will bring them healing by the merciful love which pours forth from the Cross, with the strength of His grace that renews and sets married couples and families once again on the right path.” (English original here)

Not a word of condemnation of any of these situations, but only a de facto acceptance for the sake of “merciful love”…

Considered in the context of the approval of free love that characterized the joint weddings, Francis’ words brought to my mind those of Luther: “Be a sinner and sin boldly. But believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly.”

What Francis substantially said to all Catholics was: “Be a sinner and sin boldly. But love and rejoice in Christ even more boldly.”

Another phrase near the end of the homily also caught my attention as an indirect message sent by Francis: “Marriage is a symbol of life, real life: It is not ‘fiction’!”

The immediate context of his words was that a husband and a wife should be willing to forgive one another. So the direct interpretation of the “fiction” is: “Marriage is a symbol of life, real life: it is not a romantic dream.”

However, in its broader context – considering that Bergoglio is setting an unheard-of precedent in more than 2,000 years of marriage tradition in the Church – the real meaning of “fiction” is, I believe, this: “Marriage is a symbol of life, real life: it is not what an abstract Catholic Morals affirms it to be.

All types of morally condemned marital
situations were accepted and blessed by Francis
The brides of two of those couples gave statements to the press. By transcribing their words I may help my reader recompose the atmosphere of free love that surrounds Francis’ notion of “real life.”
  • Alessandra Pucci has an eight-year-old son from a previous relationship. She said that she and her husband-to-be considered it “incredible” that they were chosen for the Vatican wedding. Her son Filippo was invited by the organizers to be the ring-bearer and given a seat of honor near his mother.
  • Gabriela Improta, first bride at the top right, has a grown daughter out of the wedlock, and her groom, Guido Tassara, was previously married but had his marriage annulled. The bride said: “We hope that our story gives hope to those who are cohabitating and have given up on marrying before God.” (The Tablet, September 20, 2014, p. 29)
Speeding up annulments

The second papal action took place on September 13, 2014, one day before the multiple marriage ceremony: The Holy See Press Office, according to the Vatican Radio, informed us that Pope Francis had established a new commission to speed up the annulments of marriages. The goal is both to simplify the annulment process and, as the report hypocritically affirms, “to preserve the principle of the indissolubility of marriage.”

Therefore, at the same time Bergoglio opens marriage and Communion for men and women involved in every type of immoral behavior, he also loosens the bonds of marriage as much as he can.

How can one not interpret these two actions as a promotion of free love? How does one not see that it completely destroys the already greatly weakened stability of present day marriage?

Reeling under the shock of these two moral blows by the Pope, the Bishops will start their Extraordinary Synod of October to deal with family issues.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Mohammed - Is his Testimony Credible?

Mohammed - Is his Testimony Credible? 
By: St Thomas Aquinas 

"He (Mohammed) seduced the people by promises of carnal pleasure to which the concupiscence of the flesh urges us. His teaching also contained precepts that were in conformity with his promises, and he gave free rein to carnal pleasure. In all this, as is not unexpected; he was obeyed by carnal men. As for proofs of the truth of his doctrine, he brought forward only such as could be grasped by the natural ability of anyone with a very modest wisdom. Indeed, the truths that he taught he mingled with many fables and with doctrines of the greatest falsity. 

He did not bring forth any signs produced in a supernatural way, which alone fittingly gives witness to divine inspiration; for a visible action that can be only divine reveals an invisibly inspired teacher of truth. On the Contrary, Mohammed said that he was sent in the power of his arms - which are signs not lacking even to robbers and tyrants. What is more, no wise men, men trained in things divine and human, believed in him from the beginning (1). Those who believed in him were brutal men and desert wanderers, utterly ignorant of all divine teaching, through whose numbers Mohammed forced others to become his follower's by the violence of his arms. Nor do divine pronouncements on part of preceding prophets offer him any witness. On the contrary, he perverts almost all the testimony of the Old and the New Testaments by making them into a fabrication of his own, as can be seen by anyone who examines his law. It was, therefore, a shrewd decision on his part to forbid his followers to read the Old and New Testaments, lest these books convict him of falsity. It is thus clear that those who place faith in his words believe foolishly" 

- Summa Contra Gentiles, Book 1, Chapter 16, Art. 4.
1. Sura 21:5, Sura 44:14; Sura 16:103, Sura 37:36 

Homily on St. Thomas Aquinas

The Importance of Silence

The Importance of Silence 
St. Alphonsus de Liguori 
Note: The importance of Silence can not be stressed enough in our day of frequent distraction and noise for God does not speak to us in such things but in silence as in a gentle breeze is the lord heard (3 kings 19:12-14).
[Extracted from The True Spouse of Jesus Christ by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori]

[Only the section on Silence is here presented]

CASSIAN says: "The religious prays little who prays only when she is on her knees in the choir or in the cell." (1) To fulfil the obligations of her state, a religious should keep her soul continually united with God; but to maintain this constant union, continual prayer is necessary. There are three means of acquiring the habit of continual prayer; namely, silence, solitude,and the presence of God. These were the means that the angel suggested to St. Arsenius when he said: "If you wish to be saved, fly into solitude, observe silence, and repose in God by always keeping, yourself in his presence." (2) We shall speak of each of these means separately.

I. Silence.
In the first place, silence is a great means of acquiring the spirit of prayer, and of disposing the soul to converse continually with God. We rarely find a spiritual soul that speaks much. All souls of prayer are lovers of silence that is called the guardian of innocence, the shield against temptations, and the fountain of prayer. For by silence devotion is preserved, and in silence good thoughts spring up in the soul. St. Bernard says: "Silence and the absence of noise in a certain manner force the soul to think of God and of eternal goods." (3) Hence, the saints fled to the mountains, to caves, and to deserts, in order to find this silence, and escape the tumults of the world, in which, as was said to Elias, God is not found. (3 Kings, xix. 11) Theodosius the monk observed silence for thirty-five years. St. John the Silent, who gave up his bishopric and became a monk, observed silence for forty-seven years before his death; and all the saints, even they who were not solitaries, have been lovers of silence.

Oh, how great the blessings that silence brings to the soul! The prophet says that silence shall cultivate justice in the soul; (Isaias, xxxii. 17) for, on the one hand, it saves us from a multitude of sins by destroying the root of disputes, of detractions, of resentments, and of curiosity; and on the other, it makes us acquire many virtues. How well does the nun practise humility who when others speak listens with modesty and in silence! How well does she practise mortification by not yielding to her inclination or desire to tell a certain anecdote, or to use a witty expression suggested by the conversation! How well does she practise meekness by remaining silent when unjustly censured or offended! Hence the same holy prophet said: In silence and in hope shall be your strength. (Isaias xxx. 15) Your strength shall be in silence and in hope; for by silence we shun the occasions of sin, and by hope we obtain the divine aid to lead a holy life.

But, on the other hand, immense evils flow from speaking too much. In the first place, as devotion is preserved by silence, so it is lost by a multitude of words. However recollected the soul may have been in prayer, if it afterwards indulge in long discourses it will find the mind as distracted and dissipated as if it had not made meditation. When the mouth Besides, the Holy Ghost tells us that in speaking too much we shall not fail to commit some fault. In the multitude of words they shall not want sin. (Prov, x. 19) While they speak and prolong conversation without necessity, certain persons think that they are not guilty of any defect; but if they carefully examine themselves they will find some fault against modesty, of detraction, of curiosity, or at least of superfluous words. St. Mary Magdalene Pazzi used to say that a religious should speak only through necessity. For religious are bound in a special manner to give an account of idle words, for which, according to our Saviour, all men shall have to render account. But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall account for it in the day of judgment." (Matt, xii. 36)

I have used the words some defect; but when we speak too much we shall find that we have committed a thousand faults. St. James has called the tongue a universal evil: The tongue is . . . a world of iniquity. (James iii.6) For, as a learned author remarks, the greater number of sins arise from speaking or from listening to others. Alas! how many nuns shall we see condemned on the day of judgment, on account of having had but little regard for silence! And what is most to be deplored is, that the religious that dissipates her mind by intercourse with creatures, and by too much speaking, will never be able to see her defects, and thus she will go from bad to worse. A man full of tongue shall not be established in the earth. (Ps, xxxix. 12) The man that speaks too much shall walk without a guide, and therefore he shall fall into a thousand mistakes without the hope of ever perceiving them. Such a religious appears as if unable to live without speaking continually from morning till evening. She wishes to know what happens in the monastery and in the world; she goes about asking questions from all the others, and afterwards says, What evil am I doing? I answer you, dearly beloved sister, put an end to idle talk; endeavor to recollect yourself a little and you will see how many defects you have committed by the multitude of your words.

St. Joseph Calasanctius used to say "that a dissipated religious is a source of joy to the devil." And justly, for by her dissipation she not only does not attend to her own sanctification, but is also an obstacle to the advancement of others, by going about the monastery in search of some one to converse with her, by speaking in a loud voice in every place, and by a want of reverence, even in the choir and sacristy. St. Ambrose relates that a certain priest, while at prayer, was disturbed by the cries of a multitude of frogs: he commanded them to be silent, and they instantly obeyed. The holy Doctor then took occasion to say: "Shall senseless animals, then, be silent through respect for prayer, and shall men not be silent?" (5) And I add, will religious refuse to practise silence, after having entered the monastery in order to become saints, to observe their Rule, and to maintain holy recollection; or will they perform the office of the devil, by disturbing their sisters who wish to pray, and to be recollected with God? A certain author justly calls such talkative nuns "the home devils of monasteries," who do great injury to the Community.

According to St. Ignatius of Loyola, to know if there is fervor in a convent, it is enough to ascertain whether silence is observed or violated. A monastery in which the sisters speak continually is an image of hell; for where there is not silence there must be continual disputes, detractions, complaints, particular friendships, and factions. But, on the other hand, a monastery in which the religious love silence is an image of paradise: it excites devotion not only in all who live in it, but also in those who live in the world. It is related by Father Perez, of the Order of Discalced Carmelites, that while a secular he entered one day into a house of the Order, and was so edified and filled with devotion by the silence of the brethren, that he renounced the world and remained in the convent. Father Natalis, of the Society of Jesus, used to say, that to reform a religious house it is enough to establish in it the observance of silence. Because each of the religious would then practise recollection, and would attend to his own advancement. Hence, also, Gerson says that the holy founders of religious Orders have prescribed and earnestly recommended silence to their religious, because they knew how important its observance is for the maintenance of fervor. In his rules for nuns, St. Basil insists, not once, but frequently, on silence. St. Benedict commanded his monks to endeavor to observe continual silence. (6)

And experience shows that in the monastery in which silence is observed, discipline is maintained; and on the other hand, where silence is neglected, but little fervor is found. Hence few religious become saints, because few love silence. In many monasteries the rule of silence is prescribed by the written rules, and is strongly recommended; but some of the religious appear not to know what silence is, and therefore they unhappily live in dissipation, without fervor, and always in trouble. But, dear sister, do not imagine that the negligence of others will excuse or exempt you from the rule of silence. Blessed Clare of Montefalco used to say that in the time of silence it is difficult to speak without committing a fault.

Some one may excuse herself, saying, that it is sometimes necessary to speak in order to get rid of melancholy; but how can the violation of silence free a religious from melancholy? Let us be persuaded that all the creatures on earth or in heaven cannot console us in our afflictions. God alone is the author of consolation; but will he console us at the very time we offend him? But when there is any necessity for speaking in the time of silence, at least ask permission. Another religious does not seek occasions to speak, but as often as they are presented she allows herself to be led into breaches of silence by others who wish to speak. But her condescension will certainly not excuse her from the fault. It is necessary, then, to do violence to yourself, and to go away, or to remain silent, and sometimes by putting the finger on the mouth to make a sign that it is a time of silence.

And even out of the hours of silence endeavor to practise it as much as possible if you wish to keep yourself recollected with God and free from imperfections; for there is no sin more easily committed than sins of tongue. He, says Solomon, that keepeth his mouth keepeth his soul. (Prov, xiii. 3) And St. James says that he who sins not with the tongue is a perfect man: If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man. (James, iii. 2) Hence it is the same thing to be a silent religious and a holy religious; for by observing silence she will be punctual to the rules, she will be devoted to prayer, to spiritual reading, and to her visits to the Holy Sacrament. Oh, how dear to God does the religious render herself who loves silence! -(7) By silence we learn to consider well what we shall afterwards say. But for a religious who wishes to become a saint, what is the time for silence and the time for speaking? The hours of silence for her are all the hours in which there is no necessity for speaking. The time for speaking is when necessity or charity obliges her to speak. Behold the excellent rule of St. John Chrysostom: "Then only should we speak when it is more useful to speak than to be silent." (8) Hence the saint gives the following advice: "Either remain silent, or say what is more profitable than silence." (9) Oh! happy he who at death can say what the monk Pambo said: "That he did not remember to have ever uttered a word which he was sorry for having spoken." (10) St. Arsenius used to say that he often repented of having spoken, but never of having remained silent. (11) St. Ephrem gave this excellent lesson to religious: "Speak a great deal with God, and little with men." (12) St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to say the same: "The true servant of Jesus Christ bears all things; she labors much, and speaks little."

From all that has been said, every religious that wishes to live in union with God may see with what care she should shun the parlor. As the air that is breathed in the choir or in the cell is the most salubrious for religious, so the air of the grates is for them the most pestiferous. And what is the parlor but what St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi called it, a place of distractions, inquietudes, and of temptations. The Venerable Sister Mary Villani one day compelled the devil, on the part of God, to tell in what part of the monastery he gained most. The tempter answered: I gain in the choir, in the refectory, and in the dormitory: in these places I partly gain, and partly lose. But in the parlor gain all, for the whole place is mine, Hence the Venerable Sister Philippa Cerrina had reason to call the parlor an infected place, in which the contagion of sin is easily caught. St. Bernardine of Sienna relates that a religious in consequence of having heard in the parlor an improper word miserably fell into a grievous sin. Truly happy was the holy virgin St. Fabronia, who afterwards gave her life for the faith at the age of nineteen; she would never allow herself to be seen at the grate by any secular, male or female. St. Teresa appeared after death to one of her spiritual children, and said to her: The religious that wishes to be a great friend of God must be an enemy of the grate.

Would to God that in all monasteries there were grates of perforated iron such as we find in some observant convents! A certain author relates that the Superior of a monastery procured a narrow grate; but the devil, through rage, first bent it, and afterwards sent it rolling through the house. The good Superior placed it, crooked as it was, in the parlor to give the nuns to understand that as the grate was hateful to hell so it was pleasing to God. Oh! what an awful account will the abbess have to give to God who introduces open grates, or who neglects to make the companions attend. In one of her letters St. Teresa wrote this great sentence: "The grates when shut are the gates of heaven; and when open they are the gates of danger" (she did not wish to say hell). And she added:
"A monastery of nuns in which there is liberty serves to conduct them to hell rather than to cure their weakness."

What rapid progress in divine love does the religious make who resolves never to go to the grate! When you, dear sister, go to the parlor, be careful at least to conduct yourself like a religious. In your intercourse with seculars you should not only guard with great care against all affectionate expressions, but should also be very grave and reserved in the parlor. St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi wished her nuns to be "like the wild deer" --these are her very words. And the Venerable Sister Hyacinth Marescotti used to say: "The courtesy of nuns consists in being discourteous by cutting short all long discourses in the parlor." This applies, ordinarily speaking, to long discourses even with spiritual persons. Mother Anne of Jesus, a Discalced Carmelite, said: "A nun acquires more fervor in the choir or in the cell than by the longest conferences in the parlor. Show all respect to directors, but you should treat with them only through necessity; despatch your business with them in a few words."

Should you ever happen to hear in the parlor an indecent word, go away immediately; or, at least, cast down your eyes, and change the discourse, or give no answer. In a monastery of the Venerable Sister Seraphina de Carpi two women began to speak about a certain marriage: the attendant at the turn heard the voice of Sister Seraphina (who was dead) saying, "Chase away, chase away these women." And whenever it is in your power, endeavor to change all discourses that savor of the world. St. Frances of Rome received a buffet from an angel because she did not change the conversation of certain ladies who spoke of worldly vanities. You should be still more careful to observe silence with your sisters in the monastery: for the occasion of breaking silence with them is more continual. Hence it is necessary to mortify curiosity. The Abbot John used to say: "Let him who wishes to restrain the tongue shut his ears by mortifying the curiosity of hearing news." It is also necessary to avoid the conversation of any religious who speaks frequently. It is, moreover, well to fix some time each day during which you will observe silence, remaining alone in your cell or in some solitary place in order to avoid the occasions of speaking.

Whenever you have to speak, be careful, in conformity with the advice of the Holy Ghost, Make a balance for thy words, (Ecclus, xxviii. 29) to examine what you ought to say. Make a balance for your words that you may weigh them before you give expression to them. Hence St. Bernard says that "before your words come to the tongue, let them pass twice under the file of examination," (13) that you may suppress what you should not utter. The same was said by St. Francis de Sales in other words, namely, that to speak without sin every one should keep a lock on his lips, that in opening his mouth to speak he might reflect well on what he wishes to say.

Before speaking you should consider—
1. Whether what you intend to say can injure charity, modesty, or exact observance.
2. Examine the motive that impels you to speak; for it sometimes happens that what a person says is good, but her intention is bad; she speaks either to appear spiritual, or to acquire a character for talent.
3. Examine to whom you speak, whether to your Superiors, to companions, or to inferiors: whether in the presence of seculars, or of the postulants, who may perhaps be scandalized at what you say.

At recreation, which is the proper time for unbending the mind, speak when the others are silent, but endeavor as often as you can to speak on something that has reference to God. "Let us speak of the Lord Jesus," says St. Ambrose, "let us always speak of him." (15) And what other enjoyment should a religious seek than to speak of her most amiable Spouse? He who has an ardent love for another, appears unable to speak of anything but of him. They who speak little of Jesus Christ, show that they have but little love for Jesus Christ. On the other hand, it often happens that good religious, after speaking on divine love, feel more fervor than after mental prayer. At the conversations of the servants of God, says St. Teresa, Jesus Christ is always present. Of this, Father Gisolfo, of the Congregation of the "Pious Workers," relates a memorable example, in the life of the Venerable Father Anthony de Collelis. He says that Father Constantine Rossi, the Master of novices, saw one day two of his young disciples, F. D. Anthony Torres, and F. D. Philip Orilia, conversing together, and with them a young man of most beautiful aspect. The Master of novices was surprised that two novices, whom he regarded as most exemplary, should speak to a stranger without permission: he therefore asked who was the young man whom he had seen conversing with them. They said there was no one conversing with them. But he afterwards learned that they were speaking of Jesus Christ, and understood that the person whom he saw in their company was our divine Saviour.

Except in the hours of recreation, and other extraordinary occasions, such as in attending the sick or in consoling a sister in tribulation, it is always better to be silent. A religious of the Order of St. Teresa, as we find in the Teresian Chronicles, said that it is better to speak with God than to speak of God. But when obedience or charity obliges you to speak, or to have intercourse with creatures, you must always endeavor to find intervals, for at least repairing the losses caused by the distractions attendant on these external occupations; stealing at least as many little moments as possible to recollect yourself with God; thus following the counsel of the Holy Ghost: Let not the part of a good gift overpass thee. (Ecclus, xiv. 14) Do not allow that particle of time to pass away: give it to God, if you can have no more to give him during the day. But whenever you can abridge the conversation, abridge it under some pretext. A good religious seeks not pretexts, as some do, to prolong conversation, but endeavors to find out some means of shortening it. Let us remember that time is given us not to be spent unprofitably, but to be employed for God, and in acquiring merits for eternity. St. Bernardine of Sienna used to say that a moment of time is of as much value as God, because in each moment we can gain his friendship, or greater degrees of grace.

O my God, may the patience with which Thou hast borne me be forever blessed. Thou hast given me time to love Thee, and I have spent it in offending and displeasing Thee. Were I now to die, with what heartfelt pain should I end my life, at the thought of having spent so many years in the world, and of having done nothing. Lord, I thank Thee for still giving me time to repair my negligence, and so many lost years. O my Jesus! through the merits of Thy Passion assist me. I do not wish to live any longer for myself, but only for Thee, and for Thy love. I know not how much of life remains, whether it is long or short; but were it a hundred or a thousand years, I wish to spend them all in loving and pleasing Thee. I love Thee, O my Sovereign Good, and I hope to love Thee for eternity. I do not wish to be ever again ungrateful to Thee. I will no longer resist Thy love, which has so long called me to be entirely Thine. Shall I wait till Thou abandon me, and call me no more?
Mary, my mother, assist me, pray for me, and obtain for me perseverance in my resolution to be faithful to God.