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Our Faith, Stripped Bare

12 Responses

  1. Joseph says:

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in #1814 Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself and then in #2088 it talks of “Voluntary and Involuntary doubt” as sins against faith. If I pray and yet think at the back of my mind that perhaps the Atheists or Protestants are right and perhaps I’m wrong then my faith is flawed or so I believe. Why? My faith becomes a fire insurance “if there is hell then I will not go there and there is no Heaven then O well I lost out in this life”

    1 Corinthians 15:14 as quoted in the last paragraph should be read in its paragraph (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). Because St Paul wasn’t doubting at all here but was explaining his reason for hope (1 Corinthians 15:20 – ). Prayer is never a plea for God’s love and is never meant as a means to control God or gain favors. Prayer is an act of submission in which we respond to God’s love that surrounds us “your Father in Heaven already knows what you want before you ask Him (Mat 6:8)”. This is why we are told that the best training for a life of prayer is praying in the words of the Holy Spirit in the Psalms.

    Prayer is not an event but a way of life that develops through a process of natural growth and progression. When we start we are spiritual babies and as St Paul says we feed on baby food and milk (Heb 5:12). This is a time when we think we are special and holier than everyone we see and we often look forward to teach others what we know. At this time we believe in styles of prayer and we look for the best novenas that “worked” for others etc etc. In this state God gives us consolations to encourage us and so we begin to think we are almost mystics and our word should be listened to. This is a dangerous time because we pick up so many heretical things and run with them, we think of God as owing us and our prayer consists in commanding God and never listening. Our feelings are elevated by the devil and we start to pray and function by how we feel and not through reason. Remember senses are easily deceived (to prove this go into a smelly room and stay there, after a while you begin to think that it is not so bad; or walk straight into light from a dark room.

    To purge this nonsense we have to pass through long periods of aridity the length of which depends on how strongly we hold on to them. The process of stripping these becomes so painful as we suddenly become aware of our thoughts and what goes on in our heads. We are tested by the demon of blasphemy and that of fornication, the sense of sight becomes our punishment. It is here that we are presented with the opportunity to mend our lives one evil deed after another and we become aware of which area to deal with first. When you are here your thoughts start to become a punishment, there is chaos in our heads and too much noise that we can’t even hear ourselves think. We might even shout bad things at this point etc etc …
    We need to hold on and to persevere in prayer, fasting and penance none of these three can be eliminated. We need confession and we should go for it to purge the gunk of our past. To go on we need to pray that the Lord might guide us in knowing ourselves. Reverence at Mass, the Holy Eucharist, practice virtue and be faithful to the Revelation of the Holy Spirit by believing everything the Church teaches (everything) otherwise we sin against the Holy Spirit to whom the Church was entrusted (I shall not leave you orphans, I shall pray the Father and He shall send you the Holy Spirit who shall bring to your remembrance all that I have taught you AND SHALL TEACH YOU EVEN MORE for I go to the Father (John 14:25-26).

    Remember during the time of persecution of Missionaries by the Spaniards, the time of St Lorenzo Lewis a lay person who became a matyre. Some of the people persecuting and torturing missionaries were former priests. Your vocation in life is the station Almighty God placed you because it is best suited to your mission in life. Love God where you are and learn to know yourself. Remember the prayer of St Augustine “Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know You, and desire nothing save only You”. For we labour in vain if we fail to take ourselves along on the journey of prayer.

    There are no best prayers formulated by the hands and minds of men, best prayers are the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Instead of looking for best prayers seek to love God for no other reason than that He is God. Comprehension is not a pre-requisite for faith, believe with all your heart and understanding will follow. In faith there is no room for doubt and when you have believed then you will see that we literally swim in the exuberance of God’s love and that He listens to every prayer from great to small as long as they are grounded in humility and in obedience.

    Of other stages of prayer beyond the stage described here it is best to read “Dark night of the Soul (St John of the Cross) and Interior Castle (St Therese of Avila). I hope I’ve made some sense in all this writing …

  2. P.R.Margeot says:

    About St Lorenzo Lewis : can you tell us in which period these persecutions against missionaries took place? And exactly where? Thanks, interesting.

  3. Joseph says:

    His name is San Lorenzo Ruiz and he was of Chinese origin. He joined the Dominican Missionaries to Japan in 1636 and was matyred in 1637 after being tortured. Before he died he uttered these famous words;

    “I am a Catholic and wholeheartedly accept death for the Lord; if I have a thousand lives, all of them I will offer to Him”

    I might have confused you there because of the wrong spelling of his surname, it’s not Lewis but Ruiz.

  4. Mpush says:

    The Mark of Cain

    Thanks Joseph for the contribution on prayer. I often wonder though if other people, like me, don’t find much assistance in the knowledge of our spiritual language (Dark Night of the soul, Castles, Well running dry, etc). I mean you hear about these things and they prepare you in way, but when it comes to the crunch you feel deserted and empty. And like Cane you feel a deep banishment, and understand personally the meaning of the curse; “When you till the ground (spiritual also), it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.” And you wanna echo Cain’s saying to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” Of course as Mother Theresa in characteristic humour said; I know that the Lord will never over burden me with what i cannot carry; still i hope he didn’t trust me so much.

  5. Joseph says:

    Hi Mpush, if I made some sense, it is only because the Divine Master invites us all to commune with Him and I’m grateful for what He allows me to know. Prayer is Heaven on earth, however it can become frustrating if we think God is punishing us. I believe He never punish but rather He disciplines us as a loving Father desiring the utmost best for His little ones.

    Periods of aridity are great times because it is then we are being purged and it is here our souls shine and our faith is given wings to sore to the highest Heavens. I often tell my family that every time we say “Our Father” He brings His ear next to our mouths so he never misses the words that come from our hearts.

    Feel like Cain after he murdered his brother?! Please don’t be, Padre Pio said that we should not underestimate the soul’s love for the Lord even when we do not feel the sweetness in prayer. When we feel persecuted then we should be glad because at least we are sure that the devil is not in our freewill but is making noise from the outside trying to get in.

    Whenever, you pray implore the Blessed Heavenly Mom to assist you, she changed His diapers once, she fed Him and then she was given to us at the foot of the cross. She tells us things that will always amaze as you say “how did I know that” and always it is true if (it’s called Catholic sense) – sorry I’m preaching again.

  6. Mpush says:

    @Joseph, you preaching is good. I was just reading the gospel for tomorrow’s Mass and got amazed as always by Jesus’ question to the apostles: “And you, who do you say i am…” Words of Christ interest me a lot; like when he says no one knows the Father except the son… This to me makes sense because i don’t think Lucifer would have found it in himself to rebel had he been aware of God’s exact powers. Which means though Lucifer was trusted and most powerful angel he had never seen God, hence his fancying that he could take God head on, so to say. Of course it could be as the scripture also tells us, pride made him disregard what he knew, still i don’t think even pride is that stupid. The only explanation to me is that Lucifer knew God is all powerful but fancied his chances, which is why he rebelled with those he convinced (which by the way the bible tells us it was more than two thirds), and since then has found out first hand that God cannot be conquered, hence he shudder with fear at the passing of time.

    My question then is: Is Satan in trying to convince as many against God a testing of God’s mercy, or is it just his destructive instinct of destroy and murder? What does he hope to gain at the end of it?

  7. Joseph says:

    The nature and creation of Lucifer is documented in the Bible especially in the OT, I have quoted some verses below (from Summa Theologica) that show the nature of his glory before the fall.

    Isaiah 14:4-7
    “… Look how you have fallen from the sky, O shining one, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the ground, O conqueror of the nations! You said to yourself, I will climb up to the sky. Above the stars of El I will set up my throne. I will rule on the mountain of assembly on the remote slopes of Zaphon. I will climb up to the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High!

    Ezekiel 28:12-18
    You were the sealer of perfection, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God. Every precious stone was your covering, the ruby, topaz, and emerald, the chrysolite, onyx, and jasper, the sapphire, turquoise, and beryl; your settings and mounts were made of gold. On the day you were created they were prepared. I placed you there with an anointed guardian cherub; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked about amidst fiery stones. You were blameless in your behavior from the day you were created, until sin was discovered in you. In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned; so I defiled you and banished you from the mountain of God the guardian cherub expelled you from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom on account of your splendor. I threw you down to the ground; I placed you before kings, that they might see you. By the multitude of your iniquities, through the sinfulness of your trade, you desecrated your sanctuaries. So I drew fire out from within you; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth before the eyes of all who saw you.

    –My attempt at answering your question–
    Lucifer was the most beautiful angel; sealer of perfection, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. It would appear then that this magnificence drove him to pride and this pride blinded him in his sin. You see, it appears that he might not have been a Seraph but rather a Cherub, Seraphs are the burning ones and Cherubs are the ones full of knowledge; however, in Lucifer’s case it would seem that he was a Cherub placed in the Garden of Eden but might have also been adorned with qualities of a Seraph as it says also (you walked about amidst fiery stones). This would have made him the highest of the resplendent created spirits in the Heavens.

    How then could he have sinned? The nature of the sin is pride and St Thomas Aquinas seems to concur that the motive to sin was not proneness to sin but rather a willed event exercised from free will. The higher the magnificence therefore the greater the pride for, the same saint also writes that the other fallen angels (the demons) also sinned because of pride.

    Lucifer thus was a magnificent resplendent spirit who got drunk with his own beauty sinned due to pride. Our Lord Jesus said of the nature of his sin “He was a murderer from the beginning, and he stood not in truth; because truth is not in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof.” It also is argued by St Thomas Aquinas and St Augustine that Angels had a shorter probation period than man and thus possessed sanctifying grace and thus could see Almighty God, were they confirmed in grace like the saints in Heaven at the point of his sin? I don’t know but it would seem that they weren’t and they were still on probation; he became jealousy of Almighty God’s untold and eternal magnificence and desired to be like Him ( I will make myself like the Most High!).

    Angels have clarity of intelligence and vision and thus to them all knowledge of related consequence is apparent in pure clarity at the first instance of the sin, but Lucifer did it anyway with full knowledge. You see, pride leads to disobedience, extreme pride thus leads to extreme disobedience and thus he chose to be God’s adversary, punished as soon as guilty (Satan – in Hebrew means adversary). This is why there is evil today. Evil was not created by Almighty God and is not even God’s plan but a corruption of extreme beauty, magnificence and free choice.

    The angels that sinned and fell had full knowledge of the consequence of their actions but did it anyway. This is why mortal sin is also defined in part as committing a premeditated act fully knowing that it is evil but do it anyway and presume on God’s mercy by saying – I’ll do this and go to confession. That is why we should think of God’s justice when we are about to sin and implore His mercy when we fall into genuine fault so that we do not presume on His mercy.

    I hope I’ve done some justice to this; however, for clarity you can consult the Summa Theologica and Pascal P. Parente’s book on the EWTN website.

  8. Mpush says:

    @Joseph: If i here you well, principalities, like cherubs and seraphic angels, can see God? Or being before the face of God does not necessarily mean they can see God, only that they are in constant accessible power of God. Christ, for instant said little children’s guardian angels are before the face of God, and then again in the scripture i quoted Christ says no one knows the father but the son.

  9. Joseph says:

    It is a defined Catholic Doctrine and has been since the time of Pope Benedict XII (1336) that the blessed in Heaven, those who died without needing purgation and having received the Sacraments and having been granted the grace to enter into Heaven do see Almighty God without the mediation of any creature by way of object of vision. This same doctrine teaches us that they shall be like the angels in Heaven. Remember St Gabriel the Archangel said to Zechariah that I stand in the presence of God. We are also told by Our Lord that the angels of little children are always in the face of Almighty God in Heaven. Scripture talks of the order of the Heavens with the seraphs who are the burning ones being closest to God followed by the Cherubs – principalities seem far lower in rank and the lowest in the nine choirs of angels are the Archangels and those just referred to as angels.

    I have to agree with you though that in their first instance of creation they didn’t enjoy the Beatific Vision though they had sanctifying grace (Summa Theologica question 62). Only after the test and fall of the third of the angels, the ones who passed where then confirmed in glory so they enjoy the Beatific vision and so they can’t sin any more. They’ve had their freedom liberated so they can only choose good.

    Remember the current Bible we use is not the only scripture there is, there are other scripture documents that were not included in the Bible such as the Didache and Book of Enoch etc etc. However, working with what we all have access to then yes, in the instance of creation angels could not see God. Did Lucifer ever see God, I’m not sure but I’m sure that with the clarity of knowledge that angels possess then of course he couldn’t have desired to be God because he must have known due to his clarity of reasoning that such a thing was impossible. I think as St Thomas Aquinas says, that he wanted to be like God, to be above others, to have dominion over others and to be honored as unto God.

  10. Mpush says:

    Thanks a lot for the valuable lesson Joseph. Basically the sin of pride is wanting to be like God against God; whereas the glory of grace is growing to be like God with the sanctifying help of God. We all want to be like God, the difference is more in the attitude and means. Others close themselves in self-sufficient pride (Lucifer’s way), while others open themselves in self-giving love (Christ’s way). That, to me, seems to be the gist of what your are saying; or am i misunderstanding.

  11. Joseph says:

    Exactly!!! That’s a brilliant way of summarizing it, ‘wanting to be like God outside of God’s plan’, the spirit that says I will be like the Most High. This is where St Michael the Archangel would then say ‘Who can be like unto God?’

    That is why all say is at it’s core a rebellion and is rooted in pride’ refusal to believe in Church teaching (this one says I know more than the Vicar of Christ and we are all people what can he teach me after all God does not talk to him – pride and disobedience); why should I honor Mary when she is just a creature like me – pride and jealousy; theft – I’m clever I will never be caught or if they try I have ways of escaping – pride and disobedience; etc etc. In other words Lucifer tries to recruit all of us and the only way he can do that is to make us like him and God’s plan is to make us like Christ.

  12. Joseph says:

    ——–CORRECTION————-CORRECTION————-

    Paragraph 2 first line above I meant to say “That is why all -SIN- has at its core …”