Posts Tagged truth

14 Day Lenten Series: Part 2 – “Lead us not into Temptation”

29 March 2017

Lead us not into Temptation 01

“Let no temptation take hold on you, but such as is human: and God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able, but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it.” I COR. x. 13.

“Lead us not into Temptation”

by Bishop Ehrler, 1891

In this Epistle St. Paul is telling the faithful of Corinth how needful it is for all to be on their guard against temptation. He says that he finds it necessary to chastise his own body, thus bringing it into subjection, lest he himself should yield to the tempter and become a castaway. As a proof of the peril in which we all stand, he cites the history of the Jews who went out from Egypt, great multitudes of whom, on account of their sins, perished in the desert and never saw the promised land. Hence the great danger of temptation and the need of vigilance. The Apostle warns the Corinthians, therefore, to eschew every temptation they can, and as for those which spring unavoidably from the conditions of our present existence, he tells them to trust in God’s help, knowing that God will never permit them to be tempted above their strength, but will always give grace sufficient to conquer all their enemies. St. Paul’s advice to the Corinthians was for all Christians and for all time.

 

I. Meaning of temptation. I. To tempt means: (a) to test, to try one, in order to ascertain his dispositions, his character, etc.; (b) to subject one to trials and difficulties in order to give him the opportunity of practicing virtue, of showing good example, and thus of giving glory to God; (c) to provoke one to moral evil with the intention of leading him to commit sin. God does not tempt in the first way, since He is in need of no proofs of our dispositions and character. Neither does He tempt us in the third way, since He cannot be the author or cause of sin (James i. 14). In the second manner God can and does tempt man, as He did in the cases of Abraham, Job, and Tobias. 2. Temptation which is an incitement to sin arises from three sources: (a) the concupiscence of the flesh; (b) the world; (c) the devil. 3. Concupiscence of the flesh means the moral corruption of our nature which results from original sin and ever inclines us to evil. This is our greatest and most dangerous tempter, both because it is internal and because it remains with us throughout life. 4. The world here means the corrupt maxims and bad example of the wicked, and the numerous incitements to follow them which surround us in life. 5. By the devil we mean the assaults of evil spirits, who are the enemies of mankind, and who strive constantly to ensnare us. 6. Temptation is not the same as sin. It is not a sin to be tempted, unless we are the responsible cause of the temptation; but it is a sin to yield to temptation, either by doing evil, or consciously desiring it, or dwelling on the thought of it with pleasure.

II. Meaning of the words, “lead us not into temptation.” 1. In this Petition of the Lord’s Prayer we do not ask that God will deliver us from all temptations, since this would be impossible in the present state of our corrupt nature, and would deprive us of a rich harvest of merits. 2. We do ask in this Petition that God will either remove dangerous temptations from us, or grant us the grace to overcome them; in other words we pray that God will never permit us to be overcome by temptation of any kind.

 

Conclusion: 1. The dispositions that should accompany this prayer are distrust of self and confidence in God. 2. The means of conquering temptation are chiefly two: (a) vigilance, which consists in custody of the senses, avoidance of idleness and dangerous occasions, and prompt resistance to temptation; (b) prayer, which includes imploring God for help in time of temptation, frequently raising our minds and hearts to Him, hearing and, meditating on His word, and frequenting the Sacraments.

Source: Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals


14 Day Lenten Series: Part I – Temptations: Why We Have Them

28 March 2017

Temptations Bishop Ehrler 01
“Jesus saith to him: Begone, Satan: for it is written: The Lord thy God thou shalt adore, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil left him.” (Matth. 4: 10, 11)

Temptations
by Bishop Ehrler, 1891

For love of us, our Saviour became man, partly, to redeem us from the yoke of sin, and partly, to show us, by His example, the right path to heaven. Temptations interpose the greatest obstacles to our salvation. Therefore, our Redeemer suffered himself to be tempted, that we might learn from him how to overcome the tempter. He is the skilful General who has taught his soldiers by word and example the grand science of spiritual combat. My beloved brethren, allow me, today, to make known to you the laws which govern this science. There are chiefly three points wherein Satan seeks to ensnare us.

I. The lusts of the flesh;
II. The frowardness of the understanding; and
III. The pride of life.

How should a man meet these temptations? Let him only compare divine joys with the base gratifications afforded by these three sources of temptation, and he will find it impossible to yield to the latter.

I. Consider:

1. That the world promises carnal pleasures to its votaries; but
2. That joy in God is far sweeter and more lasting.

1. How empty and transitory are those pleasures which are always followed by pain! Manifold are the vexations and miseries which forbidden enjoyments cause the children of this world! Men often risk their honor and good name,–yea, even put their lives in danger for some vile amusement of an idle hour. What torment can be compared with that of a man who loves and sees that he is not loved in return; who spends his money and lavishes his gifts in vain; who cannot gratify his guilty passions; or, who lives in continual dread lest his evil deeds should come to light?

Jealousy, fear, love itself, torment him, and he needs no other scourge than the sharp stings of his own passionate heart. Can this be called pleasure?

2. On the contrary, divine love gives to man a true and lasting happiness. God can find no greater satisfaction than in himself, and where can we seek for greater happiness than in God? This happiness is as eternal as its Object. Death itself cannot terminate it, but, on the contrary, only gives to it a fresh beginning. Even in this life, the love of God sweetens all trials and labors; for the true lover fears no labor; all difficulties and obstacles are cheerfully overcome for the sake of the beloved. In short, a soul that has tasted of the heavenly manna of interior satisfaction in God, will certainly have a disgust for the flesh-pots of Egypt. ” O taste, and see that the Lord is sweet.” (Ps. 33:9)

Remember II.
That if the world proposes to you doubts and objections to faith,

1. God is the eternal truth;
2. He cannot error or make a mistake.

1. Man frequently prefers to pry into divine mysteries rather than believe in them. Some must know the why and the wherefore of everything. “Why do the wicked prosper?” they question. “And wherefore are the good oppressed?” They would fain weigh the dogmas of faith in the scales of their own finite reason. They would decide points of doctrine according to their own fancy, rather than by the revelation of God and the decrees of His holy Church. There are ignorant people who will argue upon Predestination, and the possibility of Transubstantiation. What pleasure can they find in such discussions? They belong to “the unlearned and unstable ” of whom the apostle complains that they wrest the Word of God to their own destruction. As a just punishment, they fall from one doubt into another. They bewilder themselves and others–they become perverts.

2. How complete would be the satisfaction of these unhappy men, if, turning from all disputed questions, they would fix their eyes upon the truth and infallibility of God! The divine mysteries are unfathomable. “Thy judgments, O Lord, are a great deep,” (Ps. 35:7) which human reason may admire, but can never fathom! Many natural causes of material things must ever remain hidden from our comprehension,–how much less, then, are we able to understand the sublime and secret mysteries of God! Shall we be foolish enough to declare that because we cannot comprehend a thing, therefore, it is impossible! That because we do not know why this or that happens, therefore it is not well that it should happen!

III. Remember again:

1. That if the world promises you great honors and exalted dignities,
2. That the kingdom of God is greater and nobler than all these.

1. Worthless, indeed, are all the dignities of this world! In a short time, they “shall come to nothing, and vanish like smoke.” (Ps. 36: 20.) No sooner has a man attained the pinnacle of fame, than he is carried off by death. “Thou seest a man in an elevated position; thou esteemest him as noble and exalted,” says St. Ambrose, “soon thou learnest that another has succeeded him, and thou askest: Where is the former incumbent who was so noble and distinguished? Thou art simply told: He has disappeared.” It is not necessary now, my beloved, to enlarge upon the inconstancy of fortune, the envy of inferiors, the misrepresentations of enemies, and the fear of losing the grace of God. To all of these even the highest positions are liable.

2. Let a man compare this so-called happiness with the genuine satisfaction of the Christian who enjoys the grace and love of God. A brief comparison between the finite and the Infinite will plainly show the emptiness of all worldly dignities. The kingdom of God is greater, its grades are nobler, its dignities are eternal. And to what a height of honor are not those raised to whom our Saviour said: “You also shall sit on twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matth. 19:28.) “Thus shall he be honored, whom the king hath a mind to honor.” (Esth. 6: 9.)

You now know, beloved brethren, the laws of the spiritual combat. There is nothing more to do but to encourage you in the warfare. Keep yourselves in constant practice, and if the tempter assails you, say to him: “Begone, Satan! Why do you flatter me? That which engages my love is far sweeter than anything that you can offer me! ” O my dear Christians, you have enlisted under the banner of Christ; then, I beseech you, with St. Paul: “In all things, taking the shield of faith, and taking unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, (which is the word of God),” (Ephes. 6: 16,) ” put ye on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the snares of the devil.” (Ibid. 11 verse.)

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The Purpose of Temptations

“Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil.” (Matt. 4: 1.)

The mysterious temptation of our Lord in the desert, while it can only be explained and understood in connection with his dignity as the Messias, is nevertheless a great source of consolation for Christian souls. As the devil approached our first parents, Adam and Eve, in order to seduce them from obedience to God, so he approaches every member of the human family, for the same nefarious end. “Be sober and watch,” says the Prince of the Apostles, “because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about, seeking whom he may devour; whom resist ye, strong in faith: knowing that the same affliction befalleth your brethren who are in the world ” (1 Pet. 5: 8, 9,); and St. Paul adds: “Put ye on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the snares of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers: against the rulers of the world of this darkness: against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” (Ephes. 6: 11, 12.)

From within and without, through our friends and through our enemies, through the world, the flesh and the devil, the toils of temptation are continually cast around our souls. No place is so holy or secluded that Satan cannot find entrance; no man is so secure in virtue and perfection that he cannot seize and afflict him. Day and night, openly and concealed, he aims his poisonous arrows at us. Every one according to his condition and particular circumstances of life, has particular temptations. These temptations are as manifold as life is many-sided, out of everything on earth, the devil knows to make a snare for the ruin of souls. Before the door of our hearts, sin ever lurks, seeking an entrance into the secret sanctuary of the soul.

Why does our good God permit all these varied temptations? Does He will our destruction? Is it really His intention to plunge us into sin? Impossible; for God being Eternal Holiness cannot will evil, and being Mercy itself, he desires all men to be saved. “Let no man, when he is tempted, say that he is tempted of God: for God is not the tempter of evils: and he tempteth no man. But every man is tempted, being drawn away by his own concupiscence, and allured.” (James 1:13, 14.) To fathom God’s holy intentions, as well as to consider how we are to conduct ourselves when temptations assail us, is the purpose of this morning’s instruction. I propose, then, to answer the following questions:

I. Why does the Lord permit us to be attacked by so many temptations? and
II. Being attacked, how can we resist these numerous temptations?

I. Temptations are the touchstone of our fidelity to God. Our life upon earth is merely a probation for our eternal life in heaven. Temptations are the plummet wherewith God sounds every side of our hearts in order to measure the depths of our love for him. Can we, then, wonder that the Lord permits us to be tempted in various and almost innumerable ways? We must be tested for eternal life and for the heaven that awaits us. Through the efforts of our own free will, must we be made worthy of the bliss of the Hereafter. God could, indeed, create us without our aid, but He cannot save us without our co-operation. Heaven and its felicity are not merely the free gift of divine love and mercy; they are the reward of merit after the battle of life. Even those perfect spirits, the Angels of heaven, to whom the Lord granted the contemplation of the Beatific Vision from the moment of their creation, had to be proved and tried before they could be confirmed in glory,–so that that which had been given them as a free gift might become to them the merited reward of their free will. The obedience of Adam and Eve was tested in the Garden of Eden at the foot of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Lord leads every human being to this same tree of the knowledge of good and evil, not only once, but time and again, until the great novitiate for eternal life is finished.

1. God has given us various powers and faculties, of body and soul, that all being tried and tested by temptation may be employed for his service. Our eyes must be tried in order to ascertain whether, being led astray by the deceitful phantoms of sin, they are directed to evil, rather than to the true and unchangeable goods of heaven. Our ears must be tested in order to know whether they are open to evil and eagerly listen to it, or, on the contrary, open to God and his holy word, and closed to sinful words and discourses. Our tongue, our hands and feet, and all the members and senses of our body must be tested, in order to find out whether they serve the world, rather than God. For the same purpose, God searches the various powers and faculties of the soul, in order to test their fidelity to Him, and their real love for Him. He tries our understanding, to see if in the holy obedience of faith it bows to the teachings of revelation or rather relies upon its own narrow conceits. He searches our heart and our memory, the imagination and the will, and all the depths of our souls in order to discover whether we love him or adore another before Him. He tries the king upon his throne, and the lowest beggar among his subjects; he tries the father and the mother, the son and daughter, the master and the servant, the rich and the peer–everyone according to his calling and position in life, in order to test and to reward each man according to the depth of his love and the strength of his fidelity.

2. Temptations have a still wider range and purpose. The worth and greatness of our virtue lie in them. Without temptation, there is no virtue. A person may be innocent, but innocence is no virtue. Man becomes virtuous only by resisting temptations. There is as great a difference between innocence and virtue, as there is between life and strength,–a baby has life but no strength. There is no victory without battle. That only deserves the name of virtue which has been tried in the warfare against evil, and against the passions of the heart.

3. Every virtue is opposed by its contrary vice. Unbelief sends its doubts and objections into the soul of man in order to destroy or, at least, diminish the strength and zeal of faith. The spirit of impurity presents its sinful images before the chaste soul, and endeavors to cast the fires of sinful lust into its pure depths. Benevolence is opposed by avarice, humility and meekness are assailed by pride and hatred. As every being in nature has its enemy, every animal its adversary, every tree its worm, every flower and plant its dangerous and poisonous insect, so every virtue has a vice for its enemy, and the power of virtue must be tested by the conflict with its enemy. Only in heaven there is no conflict, no temptation.

4. When a nation enjoys a long-continued peace, and its army remains inactive for many years, the bravery of its soldiers and the skill of its generals cannot be known or appreciated. But when the enemy approaches, and the troops are threatened on every side: when on the field of battle, bombs, bullets, and shots are flying right and left, when they fight man to man, the courage and bravery of the soldiers are tried, and the talent of their leaders manifested. If there were no temptation, there would be no true and perfect virtue. How beautifully this truth is exemplified in Abraham. That heroic servant of God was devoted in strong and living faith to the Lord who chose him to be the progenitor of a new race. But never in his life did his strong confidence in God’s word and the sublime grandeur of his faith shine forth more brightly than when he stood upon Mount Moriah, knife in hand, ready, at the divine command, to offer up his only son in sacrifice. Then the Lord said to him: “By my own self have I sworn, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not spared thy only begotten son for my sake: I will bless thee, and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that is by the sea-shore.” (Gen. 22: 16,17.) Joseph of Egypt practiced the virtue of chastity in his father’s house, but his purity shines forth more resplendently before our eyes, when we see him fleeing from the wicked temptress, and cast into prison on account of his virtue. Should we have ever heard of the chastity of Susanna, if temptation had not revealed it to us?

5. The more violent and protracted the temptation, the greater a person’s virtue. Therefore, the Lord said to Peter: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.” (Luke 22: 31.) He permitted the Apostles to fall into divers temptations and troubles that their virtue might shine forth more brilliantly to all succeeding generations. Thus, God leads us, my brethren, into conflict with temptation, that our virtue may come forth victorious. He tests the strength of our faith through skepticism and interior doubts, and through the examples of infidelity that surround us in the world. He tries the purity of our hearts by the impure and sinful desires which arise within us. He seeks to reveal in their full splendor our love for God and our neighbor through temptations to tepidity and idleness of heart, and through unkind thoughts against our brethren. Every temptation affords the Christian a fresh opportunity for the perfect practice of some beautiful virtue.

If the life of man according to the will of God, is a never-ending trial, an enduring temptation, his reward will be so much the greater, the more his fidelity and love are tried by the fiery ordeal. Innumerable are the consoling promises which God has made to those who resist temptations. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he hath been proved, he shall receive the crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love him.” (James 1: 12.) “My brethren, count it all joy, when you shall fall into divers temptations: knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience. And patience hath a perfect work, that you maybe perfect and entire, deficient in nothing.” (James 1: 2-4.) “My dearest, think not strange the burning heat that is to try you, as if some new thing happened to you: but rejoice, being partakers of the sufferings of Christ, that when His glory shall be revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” (1 Pet. 4: 12, 13.) ” Now, no chastisement for the present seemeth to bring with it joy but sorrow; but afterwards, it will yield to them that are exercised by it, the most peaceable fruit of justice.” (Hebr. 12:11.) The kingdom of heaven must be won by hard fighting, for it suffers violence. The heavenly Jerusalem, the city of God, will not descend from heaven to earth, in order to catch us up painlessly into its bright recesses, but with labor and toil and sweat we must ascend to it, and force an entrance into its pearly walls. “To him that overcometh,” says Christ, “I will give the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth but he that receiveth it.” (Apoc. 2: 17.)

II. I have said that only those who successfully stand the test of the great trial of life shall receive the crown of glory, hence, I ask myself that other question, How shall we come forth victorious over temptation?

1. We must walk at all times in humility and in the fear of God. ” Let him that thinketh himself to stand, take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor. 10: 12.) The weakness, frailty, and corruption of our nature are greater than we are aware of, and though we have overcome a temptation once, twice, yea, a hundred times, we must not presume on our success, for the tempter will repeat and renew his attack. Three times did he tempt Jesus in the desert, and each time he proposed to him a different temptation. He is a crafty and cunning adversary. He spies out our inclinations and wishes, and adroitly makes use of our habits and needs. He holds riches before the eyes of the poor man, and pictures to him the happiness to be found in their possession, so that, before long, the hand is stretched out to take the property of its neighbor. If he does not go that far, he, at least, looks discontentedly and enviously at his neighbor’s goods, and murmurs at, or curses, his own lot. In the heart of the rich man, he awakens insatiable desires, he tries to lead him to pride and avarice, and to a sinful use of his wealth. In the heart of him who is inclined to sensuality, he excites impure thoughts, imaginations, and desires. For the irritable man he prepares the temptation to impatience, and stirs up anew the fire of hate in his heart. Others are tempted by the devil in a different manner, but he invariably seizes upon the weak side. Often he does not at once suggest any thing very wicked and sinful. He has obtained his object if the Christian relaxes some of his strictness, and gives in, ever so little, to his suggestions. He disguises himself as an angel of light, and represents evil under the appearance of good. Or, he places on the tongues of those who are sinfully inclined, excuses for evil. He calls out to them: “Once is no time.” “It is not even a sin.” “Others also do it.” “The temptation is too vehement!” “What does it matter if you have sinned!” “You can confess your sins, and you will be all right!” and by such reasoning, he seeks to deceive the heart of man. He even quotes Scripture, (as he did to our Saviour), when it suits his purpose to make the evil and forbidden thing appear good and laudable.

Should we not, then, walk in the continual fear of God? ” Watch ye and pray that you enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt. 26: 41.) Should not our repeated relapses into past sins make us more cautious and fearful? Some of the greatest saints have fallen through the cunning of the wicked enemy of our souls. The cedars of Lebanon were cast down, and torn up by the roots in battle with the demon. All human virtue stands upon an unsteady foundation, and only the fear of God is able to preserve grace in our hearts; for the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

2. The pious Christian, although fearful in temptation, must not, however, lose courage. He will remember the words of the Lord: “In the world you shall have distress, but have confidence; I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 33.) Through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the throne of the Prince of darkness has been shaken and overthrown; and Satan can no longer injure us. A residue of power is left to him, it is true, but no more than is necessary to test our fidelity and virtue. He dare not overstep the boundaries which have been marked out for him. God will not permit us to be tempted above our strength. Even the strongest and most lasting temptation is appointed by Him for the salvation of our souls.

Rain and sunshine, storms and gentle breezes, winter and summer are necessary for the life of nature, and the prosperity of all created beings; and only by these alternations, a strong and healthy life is developed upon the face of the earth. In like manner, temptations are necessary in the spiritual life; and the Lord sends as many trials and temptations to each one, as is useful and salutary for his soul. But although we must live in the continual fear of God, yet we have no reason to despond or be disheartened. The divine wisdom and love have fixed the measure of temptations for us, in order that through peace and war, through rain and sunshine, through joys and sorrows, He may lead us to the heavenly felicity.

Remember, too, that our good God has given us all the necessary weapons whereby we may overcome our temptations. A general refuses to lead his soldiers to battle, if they are not well armed and equipped, and enabled to fight with success. Jesus Christ Who went forth in the armor of his holy humanity to fight and conquer the Evil One, has left us His weapons, so that we, in our turn, may not be overcome in the warfare. His all-powerful grace by which we can do all things, supports us in the strife; He Himself takes part in the battle; He is with us when the enemy attacks us, and He fights with and for us. If we should be tempted above our strength, we shall conquer in His might.

With the shepherd boy David, then, we must go forth in the name of the Lord, and the wicked enemy with all his temptations will fall powerless before us. What we cannot do of ourselves, we can do in Him Who strengthens us. Supported by Him, we can overcome every temptation; and every victory we gain over the devil, will add a new brightness to our crown of heavenly glory.

3. But although through the gracious assistance of God, we are strengthened and enabled to come forth victorious from every temptation. we are strictly bound, nevertheless, to avoid the dangerous occasions of sin. “Seek the Lord in simplicity of heart: for He is found by them …. tempt him not, and he showeth Himself to them that have faith in Him;. (Wisd. 1: 2.) “He that loveth danger shall perish in it.” (Eccl. 3: 27.) Our Saviour Himself admonishes us to pray to His heavenly Father: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matt. 6: 13.) We may, indeed, expect with firm confidence that the Almighty will be a helper and deliverer to us in every temptation, but shall we dare to implore His help, if we willfully place ourselves in the danger of sin? Will the Lord grant us His assistance in such a case? Would you cast yourself into the fire, in the hope that God might rescue you? If you do not avoid dangerous companionship, if you deliberately return to a place in which you have repeatedly fallen into sin, you must not be astonished, if the grace of God forsakes you and the temptation overcomes you. God helps only those who strive to co-operate with, and make themselves worthy of His grace. He who knowing the weakness of his heart, yet rushes anew into fresh dangers, is not worthy of the help of God.

4. Moreover, he who wishes to overcome temptations must carefully avoid the beginning, or the first step in sin. A Christian hardly ever falls at once into the depth of vice, or by one misstep sinks into the abyss of wickedness and iniquity; the descent into sin is generally gradual. The sinful thought arises gently and almost imperceptibly in the soul. Like a spark of fire, it seeks for fuel; and if it be not extinguished at once, it grows ere long into a lively imagination. The imagination begets the desire, and the desire becomes stronger and more vehement each moment; and then, from a vehement desire to an evil action is a very short step. When the first step is once taken, the second and the third follow in quick succession; and finally, the sinner descends, step by step, into the deepest abyss of vice.

5. The flight from dangerous occasions, and the guarding against the beginning of sin, are especially necessary in temptations against holy purity. In common warfare he who flees before the enemy is accounted a coward; but in temptations of the flesh, Christian heroism is shown not by meeting and fighting with, but by running away from the foe. He who is not ready to practise this heroism will be overcome by the tempter.

6. Finally, I would add one more remedy to the foregoing ones, which will strengthen us in our warfare with temptations. If you wish to come forth victorious, you must make use of the means of grace which God has placed within your reach, and which are at your disposal. These means are Prayer and the Holy Sacraments. Through prayer and the reception of the holy Sacraments, the Christian really becomes invincible. Prayer obtains for us the help of God, and supported by His almighty grace, we are, so to say, almighty, and can do what we please according to these words of St Paul: ” I can do all things in him who strengtheneth me.” (Phil. 4: 13.)

The strength and support which are granted to us through prayer, will be increased and confirmed by the reception of the holy Sacraments of Penance and the Blessed Eucharist. The Sacrament of Penance breaks down the power of Satan in our hearts, and cleanses us from all sin. The Sacrament of the Altar makes us invincible. ” If God be for us, who is against us?” (Rom. 8: 31.) The Lion of the tribe of Juda, the strong and mighty God who first overcame the temptations of the old serpent, will fight in us and through us; for He will effect and perform in us that which we cannot accomplish by our own strength. If in every temptation, we cry to heaven in fervent prayer, and frequently receive the God of grace and of strength, the victory shall assuredly be ours.

As Jesus after being baptized by John in the river Jordan was led by the spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil, so from our coming into the world until our going out of it, we shall be tempted and sorely tried by the same evil spirit, who, not content with being miserable himself, desires to make all others miserable as well. But we have a Saviour God, Jesus Christ, to Him we must lift up our eyes and hearts in every temptation. With courage, then, let us struggle and fight, as He has done, that when our great trial, our novitiate for heaven, is finished, the Angels of God may come to meet us in order to conduct us, crowned, into the mansions of eternal bliss. Amen.

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Prayer for the Tempted and Afflicted

O God, Who justifiest the ungodly that repent, and wouldst not the death of a sinner; we humbly entreat Thy Majesty to protect Thy servants with Thy heavenly assistance, who trust in Thy mercy, and preserve them by Thy continual protection; that they may constantly serve Thee, and by no temptation be separated from Thee; through, Our Lord etc. Amen

Source: Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals


Social Media: A Platform to speak the truth (and be blocked!) via @JoeSales

13 July 2016

posted by Joe Sales at his blog, “Joe Sales”
AD 13 July 2016

Dear Friends:

mercyLuke 6:38 (Douay Rheims) says:

Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

It seems like many have a hard time fully understanding what it means to be merciful. On social media whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even on a blog or website, People have the opportunity to speak about their life, faith, and everything in between.

There are many people out there including myself who are being blocked and/or bashed for speaking the truth and defending the faith. To be honest, this is not acceptable. What happened to having a good old discussion to sort things out.

I believe that the Internet is a place for people to post their views. That could be a good thing and a bad thing. The Internet especially social media is a platform for people to speak the truth, defend the faith, and most importantly, should be a platform to spread the Gospel.

I as a Catholic in the One,Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church refuse to be silenced. I believe in the traditions and teachings as handed down from Jesus to Peter and the Apostles and down to us today.

There are liberals, modernists, and heretics who use social media and the internet to spread their views in hopes of getting people to go along with the Modernism, Liberalism, and Heretical views that have been infested in the Church at all levels including the laity where everything is watered down and people are made to feel comfortable in the pews. Looking at the Church today, it feels like it’s the 70’s when people are all about peace and love, Not saying that peace and love are a bad thing. Lord knows, the world could sure use it right now.

Please continue over at Joe’s blog by clicking HERE


About Joe Sales
Joe Sales is a devout Catholic who is a blogger from London Ontario, Canada. He loves his faith,family, & friends. He continues to strive for holiness in life, faith, and everything in between. He is a strong supporter of the Tridentine Latin Mass.

Website: http://joesales.wordpress.com/

Foundations Once Destroyed: The Importance of Principle in Mansfield Park

14 December 2015

By: Br. Aquinas Beale, O.P.|April 7, 2014 (Original Date of Publication)
Posted at Dominicana Blog

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The second in a series considering Jane Austen in light of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas.

“Teach us to understand the sinfulness of our own Hearts, and bring to our knowledge every fault of Temper and every evil Habit in which we have indulged to the discomfort of our fellow-creatures, and the danger of our own Souls.”
—from Jane Austen’s Prayers

“Henry Crawford had too much sense not to feel the worth of good principles in a wife, though he was too little accustomed to serious reflection to know them by their proper name.” In so few words, the narrator of Mansfield Park identifies the foundation for the remarkable attachment of the charming and playful Henry Crawford for the demure and boring Fanny Price. Henry’s doomed attraction to Fanny and his unsuccessful endeavor to win her regard comprise, perhaps, one of the greatest tragedies in all of Austen’s work. While many may lay the blame for Henry’s downfall at the feet of Fanny, at the end of the day, the readers of Austen must come to grips with the fact that, while his motives may have been admirable, his past behavior had done the greater harm by fixing in his character the bad habits that would eventually push him over the precipice. While Henry Crawford possessed the good sense to recognize the value of good principles in Fanny, he fails to acquire those values for himself.

Fundamentally, Henry Crawford, along with his sister, possesses principles that are opposed to those of Fanny. While Fanny follows a Christian morality founded upon goodness and truth, Henry ascribes to what Austen describes in him as a “school of luxury and epicurism.” Though they had very different teachers, Henry and his sister, Mary, have been brought up to seek primarily to fulfill their own desires, caring for others only insofar as it furthers their own interests. Under the influence of his philandering uncle, Henry undervalues the feelings of women, and, following the example of her jilted aunt, Mary acts with a “prudence” of a remarkably jaded nature, assuming that everyone must and does act for their material self-interest. Fanny, of course, perceives all of this and wisely resists a marriage to Henry on the grounds that they hold such divergent principles, and that she is not suited to effecting the reform of Henry’s character that would be necessary to overcome these differences.

These principles to which Fanny refers when she rejects Henry Crawford are none other than the virtues. Henry discovers as much when Fanny conspicuously sighs over his express aversion to the value of constancy, a virtue characteristic more of Austen’s era than Aristotle’s or Thomas’, but a virtue nonetheless. Moreover, Fanny’s objection to Henry’s behavior is not merely concerning his inconstancy. She is more generally concerned with his blatant disregard for the feelings of others. Fanny’s behavior and preferences accord with the fundamental precepts of St. Thomas’ natural law theory, specifically to do good and avoid evil and to avoid offending those among whom one has to live. Fanny, in accord with the classical tradition, understands that a person’s good is not simply a subjective pursuit. She must take into account the ramifications of her actions on the lives of those around her.

Another important principle that is on display in this novel is that of personal freedom. According to Aristotle and Aquinas, in order for an action to take on a virtuous or vicious character, it must be knowingly willed by the individual. Any interference with this voluntariness, whether due to an external force or legitimate ignorance, limits the actor’s moral responsibility, whether for praise or blame. Austen affirms the importance of this principle, as each of her heroines eventually claims the responsibility for her actions. Not only do these women claim their actions, they also claim the responsibility for the judgments leading up to the actions. Such a position would have been quite revolutionary, as women were expected to defer to the judgment of their male protectors. Fanny’s situation illustrates this tension, as she endures pressure to yield to the judgments of others. Nevertheless, she perseveres in the face of this struggle and asserts her right and ability to judge for herself.

This freedom of the individual to choose his course of action also implies that individuals are able to improve in character. Nevertheless, such a reform is extremely difficult, as poor choices quite often lead to more bad actions and make it difficult to ever choose the virtuous option as the habit becomes stronger. Interestingly, Austen suggests that there was a possibility that Henry Crawford could reform his character. During his visit to Portsmouth, Henry does show some initial signs of reform. While Fanny notices this improvement, she is well aware that a complete reform would require yet more time and effort. In an intriguing series of paragraphs in the final chapter of the novel, the narrator offers the readers a glimpse into what could have been if Henry had persevered. He could have been happy with Fanny had he chosen to act on what he knew was right in just one moment, but he gave into temptation and sealed his own fate.

Henry’s failure provides a good illustration of the effect that vice has on one’s moral judgment. The motives out of which he acts are good, namely humbling Maria so that she would learn to properly value the virtue of Fanny. However, Henry chooses an unsuitable means to achieve this end, as he had previously been habituated to believe that the proper way to put a young woman in her place was through breaking her heart. The real tragedy of Henry’s situation is not that he loses Fanny, but that he actually does perceive the good and falls away from it due to the disorder arising from his false principles.

Not giving up on the possibility of moral reform, Austen shows elsewhere that such a transformation is possible, as the heroine of Emma shows us. Emma Woodhouse resembles Mary Crawford in many aspects of her character, though Emma eventually is shown to possess the resolution and inclination to correct her poor behavior. The impropriety and even callousness of her own behavior weighs down upon Emma Woodhouse after she is duly scolded by Mr. Knightley. “In the warmth of true contrition,” Emma seeks to make amends for her actions and to acquire better habits that avoid offending those others in whose society she lives, unlike the willful defiance espoused by Mary Crawford when she is reprimanded by the man she loves. Ultimately, without the proper moral principles, an education in moral virtue is not possible.

Image: Engraving of Broadlands House

About the Author

Br. Aquinas Beale is originally from West Virginia, and studied Political Science at the University of Virginia, receiving a Master’s degree in 2010. He entered the Order of Preachers in 2011.


If you read just one thing today, read this…

29 June 2015

Mr.Jack Keithley is a colleague and more importantly, a friend. He has written an essay concerning the Church and our society today. It is not a feel good piece to help us lick our wounds. It is Truth, unvarnished. If I could write like Jack, this would be exactly what I would write.

The Church

Posted by Jack Keithley at his blog,
The Glad Night
crubling churchThe credibility of the Catholic Church in America is in crisis. This is nothing new. In the mid-90s, flocks of Catholics left for the emotionally appealing alternative of evangelical Christianity. It suited them, with the direct sermons and uplifting music and videos. The Church here had little to entice them back: architecture was reduced to the simplified and the homilies were, largely, pointless. Still, some of the devout clung on, hoping for something in addition to the Eucharist to feed them.

Then came the fallout of 2002, when the devout were forced to deal with the horrors of the clergy sexual abuse crisis. It seemed impossible to believe at first, until the number of cases grew and the number of dioceses involved expanded. One wondered how he could remain in the fold. Hypocrisy seemed to be the norm rather than the exception. Many felt betrayed, others beleaguered; a great number stopped attending altogether. The lawyers fed the bishops with lines to appease the courts and insurance companies, but no lines were provided to appease the remaining faithful.

for the rest of this essay, please click HERE

Jack Keithley is an educator in St Louis. He is currently teaching a course, “The Apologetics of Flannery O’Connor” for the Paul VI Institute of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis.


From the Archives: ‘The Way of Shame: Moral Education in Northanger Abbey”

11 April 2015

11 April 2015 A.D.

By: Br. Aquinas Beale, O.P.
April 9, 2014 (Original Publication Date)
Posted at Dominicana Blog

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The third in a series considering Jane Austen in light of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas.

“Teach us almighty father, to consider this solemn truth, as we should do, that we may feel the importance of every day, and every hour as it passes, and earnestly strive to make a better use of what thy goodness may yet bestow on us, than we have done of the time past.”
—from Jane Austen’s Prayers

Northanger Abbey is quite often the most difficult book for the Austen reader to enjoy, as it appears to lack the gravitas that underlies her other novels. Apart from a satirical reflection on the value of the Gothic genre, the novel seems to lack consideration of any serious issue. The language of the novel is replete with playful banter, pointing to the author’s youthful age when she penned the work, and the heroine is extremely naïve. Finally, there is the seeming mismatch of hero and heroine; Catherine Morland is a young and rather silly girl whose only purported source of attraction for the more mature Henry Tilney was “a persuasion of her partiality for him,” suggesting a certain shallowness in the hero. Given such a match, how could the narration of their history be gratifying for the demanding expectations of the avid Jane Austen reader?

In light of the theme of virtue and the stark contrast that Northanger Abbey presents with regard to her other novels, I suspect that the key to getting over many of these concerns lies in a careful consideration of the importance Austen gives to moral education as a source for plot development. From the beginning, the narrator informs the reader that Catherine Morland is a heroine in training and that the course of the novel will follow her education as a heroine. Though playfully framed as the adventures of a Gothic novel, these chronicled episodes of Catherine’s life outline a genuine and sober education in prudence, or practical wisdom. Ironically, by the end of the novel, when Catherine is thrown into truly dire and dramatic circumstances, she acts with such discretion and presence of mind that it hardly even occurs to her, or the reader, that she has finally been thrown into the midst of circumstances that properly befit the stuff of a Gothic novel.

In the four novels (Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Northanger Abbey) in which her heroines lack in virtue in some significant way, Austen uses shame as the impetus for the moral reform that in large part leads to the resolution of the novel. Marianne is ashamed of her carefree openness to Willoughby; Elizabeth regrets her prideful disdain for Mr. Darcy and imprudent trust in Mr. Wickham; Emma rues her callous treatment of Miss Bates and meaningless flirtation with Frank Churchill; and, of course, Catherine cries and laments over her naïve and unfounded suspicion of General Tilney’s character and her bold liberty in snooping about a house in which she is a guest. Each of these heroines experiences proper shame in seriously reflecting on her behavior, and each subsequently resolves to amend her character by acquiring the habits that would counteract the foolhardy inclinations that had previously led her into such folly. In contrast, the absence of shame tints the behavior of many of Austen’s antagonists; it is her shameless that shocks and disgusts Lydia Bennet’s sisters, who observe that “Lydia was Lydia still; untamed, unabashed, wild, noisy, and fearless.”

Such a role for shame in the moral education of a young person can be found in Aristotle, as well. Shame holds an interesting position within Aristotle’s theory of human action. As he describes it, it is more like a pseudo-virtue because it is not fitting for the virtuous person to experience fear of disgrace due to incorrect actions, since the virtuous person would have behaved in a proper fashion. He observes that shame “is not becoming to persons of every age but only to the young…because, living according to their emotions, many of them would fall into sin but are restrained by shame.” In other words, shame is conducive to the end of a young person’s growth in virtue and belongs to the virtuous person hypothetically; that is, if she were to commit an unvirtuous act, then she would experience shame. Aristotle maintains that it is ultimately a matter of practice and repeated experience of shame due to failure that a young person manages to grow in virtue. Thus, shame and activity are indispensable features of a moral education.

On this last point, it is interesting that in each of Austen’s novels, the critical moments of each heroine’s development occur in the midst of activity, particularly travel. Even Emma Woodhouse, who has rarely ever left her father’s side, receives Mr. Knightley’s chiding remarks during an outing to Box Hill. It seems that at least implicitly, Austen agrees that an active life is conducive to the development of virtue. So there is more than just a semblance of truth to the narrator’s ironic claim in Northanger Abbey that adventure is a necessary component in the education of a young woman. Through her adventures in Bath and at Northanger Abbey, Catherine learns how to apply the good principles she has already learned and how to properly esteem the variety of characters and behaviors in the world.

Normally in Austen’s novels the heroines are not the only students of virtue, but each of their heroes is, as well. For example, Mr. Darcy must learn to temper his pride with amiability before he can gain the respect and love of Elizabeth as he ought. On the other hand, Henry Tilney appears to be rewarded for merely feeling a sense of gratification at receiving the attentions of a pretty young woman. Nevertheless, Henry does not get the satisfaction of marrying Catherine directly after he expresses his intention. Catherine’s parents insist upon waiting for his father’s approval, which he did not receive until the end of a rather anxious series of months. Moreover, the narrator intimates that such a period did a great deal of good for Henry, as well as Catherine, by “adding strength to their attachment,” hence the rather enigmatic closing of the novel: “I leave it to be settled by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience.” Catherine is not the only one who must grow more mature in order to ensure her happiness, but Henry must also establish firmer foundations in his regard for Catherine, which can only be done through a more thorough knowledge of her character. With this prolonged period of engagement, Catherine gains more time to grow in virtue and Henry receives the opportunity to become better acquainted with Catherine’s character. In this way, they become more suited for the type of virtuous friendship that will enrich and sustain their marriage.

Image: John Atkinson Grimshaw, November Moonlight

About the Author

Br. Aquinas Beale is originally from West Virginia, and studied Political Science at the University of Virginia, receiving a Master’s degree in 2010. He entered the Order of Preachers in 2011.


A Walkoff Grand Slam Post About the Synod

23 October 2014

The Synod of Excess
by Elizabeth Westhoff
at the Blog of the Saint Louis Review of the Archdiocese of St. Louis
Virtual Vestibule
October 21, 2014 A.D
.

Opening_Session_of_the_Extraordinary_Assembly_of_the_Synod_of_Bishops_at_the_Vatican_on_Oct_6_2014_Credit_Mazur_catholicnewsorguk_CC_BY_NC_SA_20_3_CNA_10_7_14-150x150Last week I found myself growing increasingly irritated with the Synod going on in Rome and the various reports coming out of it.

While I understand that the family is the core of the Church and by strengthening the family you strengthen the Church, and while I appreciate the fact that it is important for the Magisterium to look at the family in the 21st century, reading all the reports coming out of Vatican City, I became acutely aware of the fact that, what seemed to be the main points of discussion in the morass that, from all external appearances, was that Synod, are all issues rooted in excess.

What was being discussed at the Synod: divorce, remarriage, homosexuality, are all symptoms of a culture that is living beyond its means, beyond its capacity to control itself, and is bemoaning its own self-inflicted injurious acts, with the Synod acting as a Band-Aid–letting enough air pass through to allow a scab to form over a wound, but not doing anything to address the scar that will be left behind in the aftermath.

While the Magisterium was treating these issues of excess with kid gloves, while there were Princes of the Church giving rise to scandal instead of defending the teachings of our faith, while the Vatican Communications Office was releasing documents that read as if they were translated by Google Translate, and media gleefully reporting on all of it as if it were a trashy reality show, Christians around the globe continued being slaughtered by hate-filled zealots simply because they exist.

For the rest of the best post on the Synod please click HERE

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LizzieBElizabeth Westhoff is the Director of Marketing & Mission Awareness Archdiocese of St. Louis. A new media Catholic. Writes the Pop Culture Catholic Blog for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Daughter of St. Francis de Sales.
You can find Elizabeth on Twitter @ESWesthoff and on FB HERE


His Excellency, Robert C. Morlino, speaks on Marriage

26 July 2014

Statement from Bishop Robert C. Morlino, regarding a federal judge’s ruling on marriage /Article XIII, Section 13 of Wisconsin’s Constitution:

His Excellency,  Robert C. Morlino Bishop of the Diocese of Madison WI

His Excellency,
Robert C. Morlino
Bishop of the Diocese of Madison WI

First, it bears repeating that, we must respect, love, and care for every individual we encounter, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or how they define themselves. This will never change. It is at the core of who we are as members of Christ’s Church. Christ, Himself, invites each individual to know and love Him and live a life in response to His love. His love and mercy can heal all divisions that separate us; however, we must acknowledge the divisions that exist — notably those we choose through our actions. All are invited to this love and these graces offered by Christ, through His Church. This applies to all who sincerely seek the Truth.

Marriage is, and can only ever be, a unique relationship solely between one man and one woman, regardless of the decision of a judge or any vote. This is not based on any private sectarian viewpoint, but on the natural moral law that is universally binding on all peoples, at all times, and inscribed into our human nature, as man and woman from the beginning of creation. It behooves us to safeguard the sacred ecology of all nature, especially of our human nature.

In striking down the constitutional amendment in our state which protects marriage, the court has, once again, shaken one of the most precious and essential building blocks of our civilization. There can be no question that the best formation for children is in the home of their biological mother and father, generally speaking, and we should always have a greater concern for future generations than we do for ourselves.

Marriage, between one man and one women with openness to children, is an element of the very first “domino” of civilization. The very nature of marriage naturally generates life. When that first “domino” falls, everything that is good, true, and beautiful, which is rooted on the natural family, is seriously threatened. If the “domino” of true marriage falls, then fall all subsequent “dominos.” This is demonstrated, too often, in a culture that increasingly chooses death over life.

And so, I cannot find myself otherwise than deeply saddened. We trust that every avenue of just recourse will be examined and pursued by competent authorities, including the state attorney general. The Diocese of Madison will participate in the way that seems most prudent. For my own part, I will continue to speak strongly about the truth and beauty of marriage and encourage my brother priests and deacons, and all the lay faithful, to do the same.

Let our fervent prayers not be lacking in the days ahead.


@ManwithBlackHat implores, “Judica, me…” Must read

6 April 2014

dla-richmond-avatar-medium

Judica me, Deus …

Posted by David L Alexander at his blog,
ManwithBlackHat

VIDEO: Kampen Boys Choir, The Netherlands.

+ + +

“JUDICA ME, DEUS, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta: ab homine iniquo et doloso eripe me: quia tu es Deus meus et fortitudo mea.”

“Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man: for Thou art my God and my strength.”

Today the Roman church celebrates the beginning of a season within the Lenten fast known as “Passiontide.”

For the rest of the post, CLICK HERE


Pat Archbold explains it all about Chick-Fil-A…as usual, HE GETS IT! (EAT MOR CHIKIN ;)

31 July 2012

The Mark of The Beast and Chick-Fil-A

by Pat Archbold Monday, July 30, 2012

There will be many antichrists before the world bears witness to the lawless one. The Church teaches us that ” Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.”

Many suspect the scenario in my opening quote from the Book of Revelation (the mark on the right hand or the forehead that will be a requirement of commerce) will be a feature of the reign of Antichrist.

How about another bible quote?

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

When the day comes in which visible allegiance to that faith, which is against Christ, is a requirement of commerce, most people will go along with it. How do I know this? Because many people are going along with it now.

The mark of the beast (public allegiance to a faith opposed to truth who is Christ) as requirement to do business is not some far off prediction of the bible, it is today’s reality. It is reality in Chicago, Boston, and so on.

Read more HERE

Patrick Archbold is co-founder of Creative Minority Report, a Catholic website that puts a refreshing spin on the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. When not writing, Patrick is director of information technology at a large international logistics company. Patrick, his wife Terri, and their five children reside in Long Island, N.Y. (And he is a great friend to ALWAYS CATHOLIC!)


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