Desolation

 

Many writers have noted lately the whole world and especially the Church is in a state of extreme desolation. But today, by God’s infinite mercy, we may find that immense benefits are to be drawn from it. From St. Alphonus Liguori:

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When a soul is morally certain of being in the grace of God, although she may be deprived of worldly pleasures, as well as of those which come from God, she nevertheless rests satisfied with her state, conscious, as she is, of loving God, and of being loved by Him. But God, Who wishes to see her purified and divested of all sensible satisfaction, in order to unite her entirely to Himself by means of pure love, what does He do?

He puts her in the crucible of desolation, which is more painful to bear than the most severe trials, whether internal or external; she is left in a state of uncertainty if she be in the grace of God or not, and in the dense darkness that shrouds her, there seems no prospect of her ever more finding God. Almighty God, moreover, will sometimes permit her to be assailed by violent sensual temptations, accompanied by irregular movements of the inferior part, or perhaps by thoughts of unbelief, of despair, and even of hatred of God, when she imagines herself cast off by Him, and that He no longer hears her prayers.

And as, on the one hand, the suggestions of the devil are vehement, and the motions of concupiscence are excited, and, on the other, the soul finds herself in this great darkness, she can no longer sufficiently distinguish whether she properly resists or yields to the temptations, though her will resolutely refuses all consent. Her fears of having lost God are thus very much increased; and from her fancied infidelity in struggling against the temptations, she thinks herself deservedly abandoned by God. The saddest of all calamities seems to have befallen her,—–to be able no longer to love God, and to be hated by Him.

St. Teresa passed through all these trials, and declares that during them solitude had no charms for her, but, on the contrary, filled her with horror; while prayer was changed for her into a perfect hell. When a soul that loves God finds herself in this state, she must not lose courage; and neither must he who directs her become alarmed. Those sensual movements, those temptations against faith, those feelings of distrust, and those attacks which urge her to hate Almighty God, are fears, are tortures of the soul, are efforts of the enemy; but they are not voluntary, and therefore they are not sins.

The sincere lover of Jesus Christ resists valiantly on such occasions, and withholds all consent to such suggestions; but because of the darkness which envelops her, she knows not how to distinguish, her soul is thrown into confusion, and the privation of the presence of Divine grace makes her fearful and sad. But it can be soon discovered that in these souls, thus tried by God, all is dread and apprehension, but not truth: only ask them, even in their state of desolation, whether they would willingly commit one single deliberate venial sin; they will answer, that they are ready to suffer not one, but a thousand deaths, rather than be guilty of such displeasure to Almighty God.

It is necessary, therefore, to make this distinction, that it is one thing to perform an act of virtue, such as to repel a temptation, to trust in God, to love God, and to will what He wills; and it is another thing to have the consciousness of really making these good acts. This consciousness of doing good contributes to our pleasure; but the profit consists in the first point, that is, in actually doing good. With the first, God is satisfied, and deprives the soul of the latter—–that is, of the consciousness of doing good, in order thus to remove from her all self-satisfaction, which adds nothing to the merit of the action; for our Lord seeks more our real advantage than our own satisfaction.

St. John of the Cross wrote the following words of comfort to a desolate soul: “You were never in a better state than at present; for you were never so deeply humbled, and so cut off from all attachment to this world, and at the same time you were never so thoroughly impressed with the conviction of your own wickedness. Neither were you ever so divested and purified of all self-seeking as now.” [Lettre 8.]

Let us, then, not believe that when we feel a greater tenderness of devotion we are more beloved by God; for perfection does not consist in that, but in the mortification of our own will, and in its union with the will of God. Wherefore, in this state of desolation the soul must not heed the devil, when he suggests that God has abandoned her; nor must she leave off prayer. This is the object at which the devil is aiming, in order afterwards to drag her down some precipice.

St. Teresa writes: “The Lord proves His true lovers by dryness and temptations. What though the dryness should be of lifelong duration, let the soul never relax in prayer; the time will arrive when all will be abundantly repaid.” [Life, ch. 11.]

In such a state of suffering, a person should humble himself by the reflection that his offences against God are undeserving of any milder treatment: he should humble himself, and be fully resigned to the Divine will, saying: “O my Lord, behold me at Thy feet; if it be Thy will that I should remain thus desolate and afflicted for my whole life, and even for all eternity, only grant me Thy grace and the gift of Thy love, and do with me whatever Thou wilt.”

It will be useless then, and perhaps a source of greater disquiet, to wish to assure yourself that you are in the grace of God, and that what you experience is only a trial, and not abandonment on the part of God. At such times it is not the will of God that you should have this assurance; and He so wills it for your greater advantage, in order that you may humble yourself the more, and increase your prayers and acts of confidence in His mercy. You desire to see, and God wills that you should not see. For the rest, St. Francis de Sales says: “The resolution not to consent to any sin, however small, is a sure sign that we are in God’s grace.” [Spirit, ch. 4.]

But a soul in profound desolation cannot even clearly discern this resolution; nevertheless, in such a state she must not aim at feeling what she wills; it is enough to will with the point of the will. In this manner she should entirely abandon herself into the arms of the Divine goodness. Oh, how do such acts of confidence and resignation ravish the heart of God, when made in the midst of the darkness of desolation! Ah, let us simply trust in a God, Who (as St. Teresa says) loves us far better than we love ourselves. Let these souls, then, so dear to God, and who are resolutely determined to belong entirely to Him, take comfort, although at the same time they see themselves deprived of every consolation. Their desolation is a sign of their being very acceptable to God, and that He has for them a place prepared in His heavenly kingdom, which overflows with consolations as full as they are lasting,

And let them hold for certain, that the more they are afflicted in the present life, so much the more they shall be consoled in eternity: According to the multitude of my sorrows in my heart, Thy comforts have given joy to my soul. [Ps. xciii. 19.]

Example.

For the encouragement of souls in desolation, I will here mention what is related in the life of St. Jane Frances de Chantal. For the space of forty years she was tormented by the most fearful interior trials, by temptations, by fears of being in enmity with God, and of being even quite forsaken by Him. Her afflictions were so excruciating and unremitting, that she declared her sole ray of comfort came from the thought of death.

Moreover she said: “I am so furiously assaulted, that I know not where to hide my poor soul. I seem at times on the point of losing all patience, and of giving up all as utterly lost.” “The tyrant of temptation is so relentless,” she says, “that any hour of the day I would gladly barter it with the loss of my life; and sometimes it happens that I can neither eat nor sleep.” [Mem. de la M. de Chaugy, p. 3. ch. 27.] During the last eight or nine years of her life, her temptations became still more violent.

Mother de Chatel said that her saintly Mother de Chantal suffered a continual interior martyrdom night and day, at prayer, at work, and even during sleep; so that she felt the deepest compassion for her. The Saint endured assaults against every virtue (except chastity), and had likewise to contend with doubts, darkness, and disgusts. Sometimes God would withdraw all lights from her, and seem indignant with her, and just on the point of expelling her from Him; so that terror drove her to look in some other direction for relief: but failing to find any, she was obliged to return to look on God, and to abandon herself to His mercy.

She seemed each moment ready to yield to the violence of her temptations. The Divine assistance did not indeed forsake her; but it seemed to her to have done so, since, instead of finding satisfaction in anything, she found only weariness and anguish in prayer, in reading spiritual books, in Communion, and in all other exercises of piety. Her sole resource in this state of dereliction was to look upon God, and to let Him do His will.

The Saint said: “In all my abandonments my mere life is a new cross to me, and my incapability of action adds considerably to its heaviness.” And it was therefore that she compared herself to a sick person overwhelmed with sufferings, unable to turn from one side to the other, speechless, so as not to be able to express his ills, and blind, so as not to discern whether the attendants are administering to him medicine or poison. And then, weeping bitterly, she added, “I seem to be without faith, without hope, and without love for my God.”

Nevertheless, the Saint maintained throughout her serenity of countenance and affability in conversation, and kept her looks fixedly bent towards God, in the bosom of Whose blessed will she constantly reposed. Wherefore St. Francis de Sales, who was her director, and knew well what an object of predilection her beautiful soul was to Almighty God, wrote thus of her:

“Her heart resembled a deaf musician, who, though he may sing most exquisitely, can derive no pleasure from it himself.” And to herself he wrote as follows: “You must endeavor to serve your Saviour solely through love of His blessed will, utterly deprived of consolations, and overwhelmed by a deluge of fears and sadness.” [Love of God, B, 9. ch. 11.]

It is thus that the Saints are formed:

“Long did the chisels ring around,
Long did the mallet’s blows rebound,
Long work’d the head and toil’d the hand,
Ere stood thy stones as now they stand.”
—–Offic. Dedic. eccl.

The Saints of whom the Church sings are precisely these choice stones, which are reduced to shapeliness and beauty by the strokes of the chisel,—–that is, by temptations, by fears, by darkness, and other torments, internal and external,—–till at length they are made worthy to be enthroned in the blessed kingdom of Paradise.

From: Uniformity with God’s Will and the Practice of Love of Jesus Christ by St. Alphonsus Liguori, by Veritatis Splendor, Kindle. LINK.

Please, Pray the Rosary and confound satan and those who serve him!

†  Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.
†  Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy kingdom come! Viva Cristo Rey!

 

~ by evensong for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against thine enemies!

The moment has come

 

“The moment has come … ” With these words, Our Lady of Fatima began the most significant and mystical vision of all the Marian apparitions when she appeared to Sister Lucia at Tuy on June 13, 1929.

In this post we will attempt to understand the vision and its message for us today in light of the Apocalypse and the events of this past year.

Previously, in Apocalypse 12 we saw that great red dragon, whom Pope Leo XIII referred to as, “the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan” go to war against the Woman clothed with the Sun, and prepare to make war with “her seed”, the faithful Church.  Chapter 12 ends:

And the dragon was angry against the woman: and went to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.  And he stood upon the sand of the sea.

Now, we arrive at Apocalypse 13, which reveals the strategy of the dragon, which is satan. In her book, “Beyond Politics”, Solange Hertz describes the scene for us,

Before St. John’s eyes a diabolic trinity began taking shape which appears to be a blasphemous parody of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. The Apostle sees a beast coming up out of the sea, followed by another beast coming from the earth. These two are joined in a close relationship with each other and with the Dragon, who is, of course, Satan himself, and who animates and directs them in such a way that the three operate as one. St. John saw the Dragon give the first beast “his own strength and great power,” so that the reprobates “adored the dragon which gave power to the beast.” The second beast also derives his power from the Dragon, but through the medium of the first beast. We are told, “He executed all the power of the former beast in his sight; and he caused the earth and them that dwell therein to adore the first beast,” just as this first beast had caused them to adore the Dragon. Thus the Dragon mimics the role of God the Father in the Blessed Trinity, source of both the Son and the Holy Ghost, whose parts are played by the two Beasts in the diabolic threesome.

What does St. John tell us of this second beast, the one who arises from the earth, which is symbolic of the Church?  Continue reading “The moment has come”

I will never forsake you!

We offer our traditional post for June 13, a day early because we have a special post for you for  tomorrow.

“Don’t lose heart. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”

On the feast of St. Anthony, June 13, 1917, Francisco, Jacinta and Lúcia returned as they had promised the Lady. At this visit, Our Lady made three requests:

“I wish you to come here on the 13th of next month, to pray the Rosary each day, and to learn how to read. Later, I will tell you what I want.”

Lúcia then ventured to make a courageous request:  “I would like to ask you to take us to Heaven.”

“Yes, I will take Jacinta and Francisco soon. But you are to stay here some time longer. Jesus wishes to make use of you to make Me known and loved. He wants to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart. To whoever embraces this devotion I promise salvation; these souls shall be dear to God, as flowers placed by Me to adorn His throne.”

Lúcia:  “Am I to stay here alone?”

“No, My daughter. Do you suffer a great deal? Don’t lose heart. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”

Lúcia then tells us,

“As Our Lady spoke these last words, She opened Her hands and for the second time, She communicated to us the rays of that immense light. We saw ourselves in this light, as it were, immersed in God. Jacinta and Francisco seemed to be in that part of the light which rose towards Heaven, and I in that which was poured out on the earth.

“In front of the palm of Our Lady’s right hand was a heart encircled by thorns which pierced it. We understood that this was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, outraged by the sins of humanity and seeking reparation.

Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité comments on this sublime vision:

” …  through the rays coming forth from the hands of Mary, they saw themselves submerged in God … and in the great light of God, it was given to them to contemplate the secret of Mary, to see Her pierced Heart. ‘In front of the palm of Our Lady’s right hand was a heart encircled by thorns which pierced it. We understood that this was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, outraged by the sins of humanity, and seeking reparation.’ ”  Continue reading “I will never forsake you!”

Holiness and the Sacred Heart of Jesus

One of the grandest successes of the ancient enemy, the deceiver, is his triumph in convincing almost the whole of mankind that “holiness” is a smarmy, simpering falsity, indeed, a hypocrisy which actually covers a heaping pile of uncharitableness and every politically incorrect sentiment.

And yet Christ urges us to be holy even as He is holy.  How did we ever get into such a mess, so far from God’s will in our culture, in the life of our Church! For now, we have churchmen, even to the very top of the hierarchy, who have given up on holiness, indeed, have reframed it into environmentalism! “Turn off the lights when you leave the room” has supplanted “Avoid the occasions of sin.”

Readers, we need to get back to holiness, seek it for ourselves as the great and necessary good that it is. To this end, we offer a brief essay on holiness by Father Arnoudt, author of the Imitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a book written in the manner of the great spiritual classic, The Imitation of Christ. I have updated the writing a bit to make it easier to read, while keeping the meaning. My book of reference is a very old paperback with pages falling out, published by TAN Books in 1974, but many newer reprints are available at Abe Books or on Amazon. There are also e-versions available.

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1. The voice of Jesus. Be holy, My Child, because I am holy. Whosoever longs to be a perfect Disciple of My Heart, strives to become holy, even as I also am holy, by an interior, true, and solid holiness. Holiness is a great good, it contains all blessings desirable upon earth, and begets everlasting bliss in Heaven.   Continue reading “Holiness and the Sacred Heart of Jesus”

The Sacred Heart of Jesus, 2018

“Embrace the cross lovingly, whenever it comes, as the most precious token of love I can give you in this life.”
(Our Lord Jesus Christ to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque)

Today, the Third Friday after Pentecost and nine days after the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Church honors the Sacred Heart of Jesus. At this time, we should have completed the reparative Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which we began on June 15th, Corpus Christi. Today is an excellent time to renew our Family Consecrations to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Reparation and Penance, Signs of Love

The themes of reparation and penance are prominent in Our Lord’s revelations to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and those of His Blessed Mother to Sister Lucia and the little shepherds of Fatima. It’s worth noting that while Our Lord’s messages to St. Margaret Mary were so tender, personal and appealing, those of St. Michael the Angel of Fatima and of Our Lady of Fatima stressed the impending Justice of God in an appeal for reparation.

“I will reveal My love to them more and more …”

Centuries have passed; the Sacred Heart of Jesus and now the Immaculate Heart of Mary in union with Him, have alike been spurned, even by Catholics.  Although Catholics are at least somewhat familiar with the Promises of the Sacred Heart, few take note of a most important passage contained in Our Lord’s  words to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. This overlooked passage is His Promise of the Cross.

St. Margaret Mary wrote the following in a letter to her former Superior, Mother Grayfie,

“It seems to me that our Lord made me see several names written in His Sacred Heart owing to their desire to cause It to be honored … But He does not say say that His friends would have nothing to suffer because He wishes that they make all their happiness consist in tasting His sorrows… Our Lord has never given us stronger proofs that He loves us than by making us share in His sufferings.”

And In a letter to Mother de Saumaise she wrote that Our Lord had explained to her, “Embrace the cross lovingly, whenever it comes, as the most precious token of love I can give you in this life.”  (“The Promises of Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary“, by Father Paul Wenisch, S. J., Tamil Nadu, India).

It is eminently true to say that the Heart of Jesus was opened to bring us life.

But the Promise of the Cross does not mean that we will be forsaken, far from it! Taste and see the goodness of the Lord! St. Augustine, commenting on today’s Gospel (John 19, 31-37) notes that “The Evangelist says, ‘opened’ to show us  that thereby the door of life was thrown open, through which the Sacraments of the Church flow forth.”  And Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene adds, “And it is through these Sacraments that we receive the life of grace.”
Continue reading “The Sacred Heart of Jesus, 2018”

Perseverance in Prayer

Over the years here, many readers have expressed their dismay at the lack of spiritual training available today. Many who are disappointed in the lack of spiritual guidance attend independent or Society chapels or TLMs at Novus Ordo parishes. All tell me the same things, that their priests brush them off and the best they get is a string of platitudes. My experience has been similar, although I have been blessed at times with stunningly simple  gems of spiritual guidance.

Readers have also noted their difficulty with Ignatian spirituality and one reader reported that the Ignatian retreat she attended was helpful but that the method itself did not seem to be a good fit for her. I agreed that I had the same experience and would have profited more during my retreat from spiritual reading and hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament.  Dom Boylan’s practical approach helped me immensely and so I offer it to readers, for those who may find it useful.

Today’s offering is from the conclusion of “Difficulties in Mental Prayer”.  I am presenting this portion, which is out of sequence, because it seems indicated by several questions I received from readers lately, who advise me that they truly have nowhere  else to turn to for assistance. Although this writing is primarily aimed at the religious life, Dom Boylan states that it is also meant to be beneficial for laity who seek perfections, as we all should.

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In the conclusion of his book, Dom Boylan offers a quote from St. John of the Cross, the authority par excellence on the subject of mental prayer.  In “The Living Flame of Love”, when treating of the development of the prayer of meditation, he writes:

“The state of beginners… is one of meditation and of acts of reflection. It is necessary to furnish the soul in this state with matter for meditation, that it may make reflections and interior acts, and avail itself of the sensible spiritual heat and fervor, for this is necessary in order to accustom the senses and desires to good things, that, being satisfied by the sweetness thereof, they may be detached from the world.

“When this is in some degree effected, God begins at once to introduce the soul into the state of contemplation, and that very quickly, especially in the case of religious, (italics are ours) because these, having renounced the world, quickly fashion their senses and desires according to God; they have, therefore, to pass at once from meditation to contemplation.”

“This passage, then, takes place when the discursive acts and meditation fail, when sensible sweetness and first fervors cease, when the soul cannot make reflections as before, nor find any sensible comfort, but is fallen into aridity, because the chief matter is changed into the spirit, and the spirit is not cognizable by sense. As all the natural operations of the soul, which are within its control, depend on the senses only, it follows that God is now working in a special manner in this state, that it is He that infuses and teaches, that the soul is the recipient on which He bestows spiritual blessings by contemplation, the knowledge and the love of Himself together; that is, He gives it loving knowledge without the instrumentality of its discursive acts, because it is no longer able to form them as before.  Continue reading “Perseverance in Prayer”

Politics and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 2018

 

Today we consider a neglected aspect of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, that is, its political aspect.  For this essay, I am indebted to a favorite author, Solange Hertz.  In her book, “Utopia Nowhere“,  Solange Hertz proves the importance of the political aspect in a most elegant manner, beginning with her assertion that devotion to the Sacred Heart was established on Golgotha when the Roman Centurion Longinus plunged his lance into the Heart of Jesus, the Heart of “The King of the Jews”, as Pilate’s notice proclaimed.

Longinus, the official representative of the ruling power, thereby performed a political act which stands to this day as a necessary reminder of the battle between the dark powers that rule this world and the power of Christ the King:

Devotion to His Sacred Heart is therefore no sentimental devotion to be pursued only in private. Essentially, it is a political commitment. The Sacred Heart of Christ the King is source and center of the Christian state, human manifestation of the divine Monarchy from which all monarchy takes its name. Its temporal dimensions extend into eternity. Only when viewed from this perspective can the true purpose of Sacred Heart devotion be discerned. Otherwise it is simply a super-excellent practice among many others designed by God to bring the individual into greater intimacy with Him.

Sacred Heart devotion does this, to be sure, but its objective is ultimately and fundamentally political in the real sense of the word politics. It was forged by the divine Wisdom to bring not only the individual, but whole nations into intimacy with God. [“Utopia Nowhere”].

Although devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was evident throughout the long history of the Church, and especially in the lives of many of the mystics of the Church in the Middle Ages, it was not until Our Lord’s revelations to the Visitation nun, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1689 that we began to see the vigorous political thrust of the Sacred Heart.  From Hertz:

The substance of our Lord’s message had been conveyed in six letters written by St. Margaret Mary, five of them to her former Superior, Mother de Saumaise, and the last one to her Jesuit spiritual director, Fr. Croiset. The second letter, dated June 17, 1689, begins by speaking of some great political designs of our Lord:

Behold this Heart which has so loved men…

… which can be executed only by His almighty power … It seems to me He wishes to enter with pomp and magnificence into the homes of princes and kings so as to be honored there to the same degree that He was outraged, despised and humiliated in His Passion, and to receive as much pleasure on seeing the world’s great ones reduced and humbled before Him as He felt bitterness on seeing Himself reduced to nothing at their feet.

And here are the words I heard regarding our King: ‘Inform the eldest son of My Sacred Heart that … he will secure his birth into grace and glory by the consecration he will make of himself to My adorable Heart … and through his mediation, that of the great ones of the earth. He (the Sacred Heart) wishes to reign in his palace, to be painted on his standards and to be graven on his arms to render them victorious over all his enemies, by bringing these proud, arrogant heads under his heel and effect his triumph over all the enemies of the Church.’

There were other requests. In the saint’s fifth letter, dated August 28 of the same year, she says our Lord desired a building to be erected in which would be displayed an image of the divine Heart, to which the King and his entire court would formally consecrate themselves. The King, furthermore, chosen by our Lord as “His faithful friend,” was to ensure that a special Mass in His honor would be authorized by the Holy See and a formal cultus established.

In return the King was promised divine protection against his “enemies, both visible and invisible.” It is now known that these invisible enemies were the occult forces of Freemasonry set into motion by the “merchants of light.” Already they had crossed the Channel from England and were gathering strength in France. And speaking of channels, our Lord made it clear that the Jesuit Fr. de la Chaize, Louis XIV’s confessor, had been chosen by God to see to the execution of His designs.

The Role of the Jesuits

St Margaret Mary explained, “By virtue of the power He had given him [Father de la Chaize], over the heart of our great King, the success of the matter depended on him.” And yet, incredibly, even Jesuit scholars have determined that Fr. de la Chaize never relayed Our Lord’s message to the King.  Hertz suggests that it was Jesuit obedience that withheld him, as it is known that the Father General, Fr. Thyrsus Gonzalez de Santalla was hostile to devotion to the Sacred Heart, as it is documented that he censured and banished  Father Croiset, St. Margaret Mary’s devout confessor for having written an account of the revelations.

To what can we describe such a thing? It seems another instance of the workings of the mystery of iniquity. Thus, the devotion so dear to Our Lord was allowed to languish, and the cause was simply obedience to disobedience. This has worked so well for the ancient enemy, sad to say.

Hertz affirms that the tradition of the French Visitation nuns holds it for certain that Louis XIV did nevertheless learn of the desires of the Sacred Heart through other sources. We know that Louis XIV was already privately practicing the devotion as preached by St. John Eudes, to whom he had allocated 2000 pounds for France’s first chapel to be dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Hertz is certain that the King would have, as piety dictated, submitted St. Margaret Mary’s requests to his spiritual director for approval, with a view to acting on them, but it is clear that no approval was given. Once again, obedience to those who are disobedient to Christ.

In her essay, Hertz stresses an important point, “The divine communications had been directed to Louis XIV’s person [as Monarch], but not to him as an individual. Had this been the case the extraordinary means used would have been entirely disproportionate. It was Louis as King who was addressed.” What we are to understand from this is that God made a request of the French Monarch, not a personal request to one single person, King Louis XIV, but to the French Monarchy to re-establish the ancient and sacred compact between the French Monarchy and the Church. instituted by King Clovis. Let’s delve a bit deeper here, for this has significance for us today.

Fr. Bainvel, theologian of the Sacred Heart, writes:

“The three objects of the message [of the Sacred Heart]: the church, the consecration, the flag are by their very nature national, durable and perpetual; the triumph over the enemies of God and the Church resulting from the accomplishment of the message is even more national, inasmuch as it involves the whole future of France and her providential Catholic mission, her vocation and her raison d’ être.”

In the person of the King all his successors and the nation itself are addressed. The entire court was to take part in the consecration. God’s gifts being without repentance, no time limit was set, and presumably God still waits. Thus, we see that Our Lord Jesus Christ still awaits the obedience of the French Monarch to His demands, as He awaits the obedience of the Pope and Bishops to the demands of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, His most Beloved Mother.

Why the King of France?

Continue reading “Politics and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 2018”

For Love of His Sacred Heart

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to the Sacred Heart of Jesus are inseparable, although the modernist church certainly does try! For today, let’s revisit this fine old essay by the incomparable Solange Hertz.

For love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we offer this essay of Solange Hertz, from her book (highly recommended!), The Thought of Their Heart, on Devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Holy Rosary”.

The Open Heart

by Solange Strong Hertz

“I will reveal My love to them more and more …”

The history of devotion to the Sacred Heart is in a very real sense a gradual revelation of the secret life of the Church. Its prologue, written in the heart of St. John as he reclined against the Lord’s breast at the Last Supper, broadcasts its first rhythms to the world, setting the tempo for the dramatic rending on Calvary. Veneration for the wound inflicted there seems to have been the initial form of the cult among the faithful. From this wound, the “door in the ark,” there gradually issued the proliferation of grace we now know as Sacred Heart devotion, ramifying and increasing through time, space and circumstance to fit all the needs and conditions of worshippers truly seeking intimacy with their Lord.

It elicited tears of repentance, prompted praise, encouraged confident petition and proffered earth’s reparation to heaven for its sins against Love. For centuries the movement developed quietly in the privacy of religious houses and the souls of gifted individuals until it permeated the whole Church in ranks both clerical and lay. In addition to the saints already mentioned, among its devotees must be numbered St. Anselm, St. Frances of Rome, St. Lawrence Justinian, St. Bernardine of Siena, St. Joan of Valois, St. Peter of Alcantara, St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, St. Antoninus, St. Peter Canisius, St. Francis de Sales— to list but a few of those canonized. Others who spread its benefits are legion. Carthusians, Franciscans, Benedictines, Dominicans, each produced its particular “school” of spirituality based on affection for the wounded Heart of the Savior. The wealth of art, literature, and liturgy both canonical and popular which has come down to us on the subject attests to its vigor and sanctifying power.

Not surprisingly, it was St. John Eudes, the apostle of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who was instrumental in directing modern piety towards the Heart of her Son. Called by Pope St. Pius X “initiator, teacher and apostle of the liturgical cult of the Sacred Heart,” he had begun by drawing heavily on the writings of the old Cologne Carthusians so as to establish the cult on solid theological ground. By 1672 he had succeeded in obtaining ecclesiastical approval for a Mass of the Sacred Heart to be celebrated in the communities of his own Order, the Congregation of Jesus and Mary.

The very next year, on the feast of St. John the Apostle, December 27, 1673, the torrents of private revelations converged explosively in the Visitation convent at Paray-le-Monial in France. It was there that our Lord, appearing to the humble young nun, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, chose to set the seal of divine approval on what had until then been a most salutary practice in the Church, but which nevertheless remained a private affair— a kind of “inside track” for fleeter spirits. Our Lord had once told St. Gertrude:

“Whenever you desire to obtain anything from Me, offer Me My Heart, which I have so often given you as a token of our mutual friendship, in union with the love which made Me become man for the salvation of men; and I give you this special mark of friendship, … “

After four great apparitions in Paray from 1673 to 1675, … devotion to the Sacred Heart was soon to be enjoined upon all. If we are to believe the words of St. John the Apostle and the ancient prophets concerning the Heart of God, we who are living three hundred years later must be about to witness nothing less than the last moments of the world. “In the latter days you shall understand these things,” promised Jeremiah. “The THOUGHTS of HIS HEART to all generations: to deliver their souls from death and feed them in famine” (Introit, Mass of the Sacred Heart).

Continue reading “For Love of His Sacred Heart”

Doldrums

“The soul must never be discouraged by the fruitlessness of its repeated efforts. It seems to be laws of the spiritual life that, since all progress ultimately depends on God, He lets us first learn our complete helplessness by long and weary efforts that come to naught. But we have His word: ‘I Myself will come and save you!’ ” (Dom Eugene Boylan)

Today’s post was requested by several readers who have asked for more articles to help with their practice of prayer.  Many are noticing a spiritual lassitude and an unaccustomed resistance to their devotions. A book that has helped me is Dom Boylan’s “Difficulties in Mental Prayer” which I obtained a long time ago second hand. It is now quite expensive through Amazon but Abe Books has it reasonably priced. If you find this helpful and would like more posts in this line, let me know.

One quick note before we get into this, please help the brave and wonderful faithful of Ireland with their 40 Days of Prayer and Penance. See the article on Lifesite News and please, wherever you are, make it a priority to support this wonderful effort. Many of us owe the faith we have today to the unflagging efforts and greatness of soul of the Irish priests, nuns and brothers who brought the faith to our families many generations ago. My own family was brought back to the faith by a fiery Irish priest who shamed my mother into returning to the faith and getting her heathen children catechised. And Matt Talbot is amighty warrior for those of us who battle alchoholism on behalf of our poor family members too weak to defend themselves.  So, please, let’s help the Irish who have helped the Church so much!

† . † . †

Prayer develops just as human intimacy develops, and, like it, has its seasons and its variations. If, therefore, our way of praying is not adapted to the particular state of our intimacy with God, there is bound to be difficulty.

If, for example, one is ready and fitted for affective prayer, meditation–that is, discursive prayer–becomes a profitless burden; if, perhaps, one act or one type of act is sufficient to keep the soul occupied at prayer, then any striving to multiply these acts will be found most difficult and disturbing. If the heart wants to speak to God without words, any attempt to force it to make a series of distinct acts may destroy the prayer.

Again, if God gives His grace to the will alone, and wishes us to unite ourselves to Him in naked faith, any effort to set the mind or the imagination to work will only be a distraction, and is really a resistance to grace. Then, too, souls who have once reached a high degree of prayer and then fallen into some serious infidelity, cannot resume their former manner of praying without repairing the fault; and though they will not have to climb up the whole of the ladder again, yet their restoration has its own problems. Thus, each degree of intimacy with Our Lord has its proper manner of prayer, and difficulties can arise from failure to choose the right one.

But the greatest difficulties in prayer, and the greatest obstacles to its progress, have their roots outside prayer in the general condition of our spiritual life. On the sincerity of our purpose, the truth of our loyalty, the genuineness of our love–on such things does our prayer greatly depend. Everything that can make or mar friendship and its intimacy will make or mar prayer. We have already noted how the familiarity with God and His teaching that comes from spiritual reading is essential to prayer, and can be a great help for its progress; this, however, is by no means sufficient.

The fundamental dispositions from which prayer flows, and on which its progress depends, are humility, confidence, and a thirst and need for God which shows itself in seeking Him in prayer and, in fact, at all times by doing His Divine will. Any defect in these dispositions will be reflected in a corresponding failure in prayer.

Purity of Conscience

Prayer will not develop unless the soul is advancing towards the fourfold purity of conscience, of heart, of mind, and of action. As to the first of these, prayer is a loving intimacy with God. Now, this is impossible if the conscience is stained with a deliberate habit of sin, for that is a direct denial of love to God and a definite withdrawal of part of our heart and our life from Him. Even an habitual infringement of a rule, in which we deliberately persist after we have adverted to it, makes it impossible for us to try to look God in the face, so to speak, to go into His presence with that readiness of heart for His service, which is the secret of all true devotion and prayer.

That is why it is so important that every priest or religious, and every soul who wishes to advance, should try to look God in the face, in all reverence, at least once every day, without rushing into some form of vocal prayer.

In its perfection, purity of conscience consists in a firm disposition of the will never to consent deliberately to any offence against God or to any departure from His holy will, and is such that as soon as any act is seen to be opposed to the will of God, it is immediately retracted. Faults of frailty and thoughtlessness will always occur, but we must try more and more to prevent all deliberate faults; and as often as they occur, even be it seventy times seven times in the day, we must so often immediately renounce them and seek God’s pardon by a glance of contrition and confidence in His mercy.

In this way we shall gain more in humility than we have lost by our fault, and the confident return to God can give Him more honor than the offence has denied to Him. It is, therefore, an illusion to hope to become a man of prayer while one comes to terms with the enemy. Human weakness and bad habits will cause many a defeat, but the war must be kept up with unceasing courage, and with a grim determination to keep the conscience clean of all that can offend God.

Purity of heart

Purity of heart consists in keeping all the affections of the heart for God alone. It is not enough to rule out all sinful attachments, for if our heart is divided by any inordinate attachment, even to lawful recreations, to our work, to persons, or to anything else, we cannot say we love God with our whole heart. There always will be attachments in the human heart, but they must be subordinate to God and to His will, so that they can never usurp His place as the mainspring of our actions.

The spiritual life is a love affair with Jesus; He has given us His whole Heart, pouring out for US’ the last drop of His Blood in the agonizing death of the Cross; He demands the whole of our heart, and we cannot refuse to want, at least, to give it all to Him. Without this willingness it is impossible to remain in loving silence before Our Lord.

Nothing so darkens our gaze on God, nothing so weakens our desire for God, nothing so lessens our striving for God, nothing so deafens our hearing for God, as a single inordinate attachment. That is the great source of many difficulties in prayer. Nor are the baneful effects of such attachments confined to this simplified prayer of silence. The very first “act” we try to make at prayer rings hollow and false in our own ears, as soon as we are conscious that we are dividing our heart between God and His creatures. And we cannot be intimate with God for long before He points out to us some of those attachments that cause rapine in the holocaust; for God is a jealous God–He is a consuming fire.

Purity of mind

Under purity of mind we include the careful and constant control of our thoughts and memories, by prudently excluding all that is unnecessary, frivolous and vain, and by gradually building up a continual recollection of God and His works. This is also one of the most important of all mortifications for those who would progress in the spiritual life, and far more effective than the most penitential macerations of the flesh. In fact, without it, corporal penance is almost useless. This internal mortification should be extended to the control of our emotions, especially those of anger, fear, hope, sorrow and joy.

The man whose hope, love and trust are fixed in God does not give way to anger when God sends him trials or when people try his patience to its limits, nor does he vainly fear God’s loving Providence, which he knows covers every single detail of his life. Nor, again, does sorrow at his material losses enter deeply into his heart when it is set on the riches of God; and the joys of this life seem trivial, aye, unworthy even, to one who knows the delight of God’s love.

Purity of action

Purity of action, which is often called purity of intention, consists in a continual watch over the motives which animate our actions, and in a constant effort to act only for the love of God and according to His will. It demands a relentless war on that self–love that is always seeking to inspire all our deeds.

When a religious has settled down in the religious life, and has become faithful in his observance of the rule, further progress is to be sought for, not in violent efforts to do extraordinary actions, but in an ever–increasing purity of intention in the ordinary works of everyday life. This is the surest way, in fact–apart from very special cases–it is the only way, to fulfill that law of Christian perfection, which St. John the Baptist so well laid down: “He must increase–I must decrease.”

All search for our own honor, for our own undue ease, all self–seeking, however much it be cloaked by the plea of altruistic motives, or the search of higher sanctity, is directly opposed to that great rule given us by Christ of denying ourselves and following Him. This, perhaps, may seem too hard, and might lead only to discouragement. But perfection of this fourfold purity is not required for progress in prayer, for such perfection is synonymous with sanctity; we must, however, continually strive towards these dispositions of purity. We must desire this purity, we must pray for it, we must make earnest efforts to acquire it.

But without a special help from God, it is unlikely that we should achieve a sufficient measure of it. There is, however, no limit to God’s goodness, and it is at this stage that He is accustomed to intervene, taking compassion on our infirmities; after we have been toiling all night and caught little or nothing, He acts through His special Providence, and in a short time He has advanced us beyond all expectation. But He demands that we do our part that we keep on putting out to sea, so to speak, and persevere in our attempts to make ourselves pleasing to Him, and to pray to Him, no matter how fruitless they appear.

The perfect picture that St. Therese of Lisieux has drawn of the spiritual life will help to give us courage. She sees it as a stairway to be climbed, at the top of which God is waiting, looking down in Fatherly love at His child’s efforts to surmount the first step. The child, who represents ourselves, fails to manage to climb even the first step; it can only keep on lifting up its tiny little foot. Sooner or later God takes pity on it, and comes down and sweeps the child right up to the top in His arms; but–and St. Therese insists on this as much as she insists on God’s loving kindness–we must keep on lifting up our foot.

The soul must never be discouraged by the fruitlessness of its repeated efforts. It seems to be laws of the spiritual life that, since all progress ultimately depends on God, He lets us first learn our complete helplessness by long and weary efforts that come to naught. But we have His word: “I Myself will come and save you!”

† . † . †

NOTES:

“The greatest difficulties in prayer, and the greatest obstacles to its progress, have their roots outside prayer in the general condition of our spiritual life.” Our Lord told Sister Lucia that the reparation He desires is that we fulfill the duties of our state in life in a faithful manner. This is a call to humble obedience in the little, but demanding, trying tasks that humble and exasperate us day by day.

“Try to look God in the face, in all reverence, at least once every day, without rushing into some form of vocal prayer.”  This is precisely what my confessor told me some time ago. “You must begin by kneeling before the Crucifix and do not talk. Be silent before Him and allow Him to speak to your heart.”

“All search for our own honor, for our own undue ease, all self–seeking, however much it be cloaked by the plea of altruistic motives, or the search of higher sanctity, is directly opposed to that great rule given us by Christ of denying ourselves and following Him.” This is sometimes a very humbling and hard lesson. It is only when we realize how little and utterly helpless we are and surrender ourselves to Him with humble resignation that He lifts us up.  And often that takes a bit of time. Patience.

“I Myself will come and save you!”

Please, Pray the Rosary and confound satan and those who serve him!

†Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.

The Feast of Corpus Christi, 2018

 

“For the bread of God is that which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world.”

They said therefore to Him: Lord, give us always this bread.  And Jesus said to them: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger: and he that believeth in me shall never thirst.” (John 6, 33-35)

Today, the Thursday following Trinity Sunday, we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Sacred Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the Gospel of John we read:

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is My flesh for the life of the world.” The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us His flesh to eat?
Continue reading “The Feast of Corpus Christi, 2018”