Hate the Church, the hierarchy, and priests….
I see a lot of hatred of the Church not only from the msm, but from so-called “good Catholics”. One cannot be a saint with any hatred or rancor in one’s heart. Reading John Cassian again after many years has been a treat. His writings on prayer feed into the long Church teaching on the journey to perfection. His goal, the same goal as the saints, is love.
The reason for seeking purification and perfection is to love God, to be in love with God constantly, to be in God’s Presence daily.
Here is asel
THIS, this is the formula which the mind should unceasingly cling to until, strengthened by the constant use of it and by continual meditation, it casts off and rejects the rich and full material of all manner of thoughts and restricts itself to the poverty of this one verse, and so arrives with ready ease at that beatitude of the gospel, which holds the first place among the other beatitudes: for He says “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” And so one who becomes grandly poor by a poverty of this sort will fulfil this saying of the prophet: “The poor and needy shall praise the name of the Lord.” And indeed what greater or holier poverty can there be than that of one who knowing that he has no defence and no strength of his own, asks for daily help from another’s bounty, and as he is aware that every single moment his life and substance depend on Divine assistance, professes himself not without reason the Lord’s bedesman, and cries to Him daily in prayer: “But I am poor and needy: the Lord helpeth me.” And so by the illumination of God Himself he mounts to that manifold knowledge of Him and begins henceforward to be nourished on sublimer and still more sacred mysteries, in accordance with these words of the prophet: “The high hills are a refuge for the stags, the rocks for the hedgehogs,” which is very fairly applied in the sense we have given, because whosoever continues in simplicity and innocence is not injurious or offensive to any one, but being content with his own simple condition endeavours simply to defend himself from being spoiled by his foes, and becomes a sort of spiritual hedgehog and is protected by the continual shield of that rock of the gospel, i.e., being sheltered by the recollection of the Lord’s passion and by ceaseless meditation on the verse given above he escapes the snares of his opposing enemies. And of these spiritual hedgehogs we read in Proverbs as follows: “And the hedgehogs are a feeble folk, who have made their homes in the rocks.” And indeed what is feebler than a Christian, what is weaker than a monk, who is not only not permitted any vengeance for wrongs done to him but is actually not allowed to suffer even a slight and silent feeling of irritation to spring up within? But whoever advances from this condition and not only secures the simplicity of innocence, but is also shielded by the virtue of discretion, becomes an exterminator of deadly serpents, and has Satan crushed beneath his feet, and by his quickness of mind answers to the figure of the reasonable stag, this man will feed on the mountains of the prophets and Apostles, i.e., on their highest and loftiest mysteries. And thriving on this pasture continually, he will take in to himself all the thoughts of the Psalms and will begin to sing them in such a way that he will utter them with the deepest emotion of heart not as if they were the compositions of the Psalmist, but rather as if they were his own utterances and his very own prayer; and will certainly take them as aimed at himself, and will recognize that their words were not only fulfilled formerly by or in the person of the prophet, but that they are fulfilled and carried out daily in his own case. For then the Holy Scriptures lie open to us with greater clearness and as it were their very veins and marrow are exposed, when our experience not only perceives but actually anticipates their meaning, and the sense of the words is revealed to us not by an exposition of them but by practical proof. For if we have experience of the very state of mind in which each Psalm was sung and written, we become like their authors and anticipate the meaning rather than follow it, i.e., gathering the force of the words before we really know them, we remember what has happened to us, and what is happening in daily assaults when the thoughts of them come over us, and while we sing them we call to mind all that our carelessness has brought upon us, or our earnestness has secured, or Divine Providence has granted or the promptings of the foe have deprived us of, or slippery and subtle forgetfulness has carried off, or human weakness has brought about, or thoughtless ignorance has cheated us of. For all these feelings we find expressed in the Psalms so that by seeing whatever happens as in a very clear mirror we understand it better, and so instructed by our feelings as our teachers we lay hold of it as something not merely heard but actually seen, and, as if it were not committed to memory, but implanted in the very nature of things, we are affected from the very bottom of the heart, so that we get at its meaning not by reading the text but by experience anticipating it. And so our mind will reach that incorruptible prayer to which in our former treatise, as the Lord vouchsafed to grant, the scheme of our Conference mounted, and this is not merely not engaged in gazing on any image, but is actually distinguished by the use of no words or utterances; but with the purpose of the mind all on fire, is produced through ecstasy of heart by some unaccountable keenness of spirit, and the mind being thus affected without the aid of the senses or any visible material pours it forth to God with groanings and sighs that cannot be uttered.
Wordless prayer follows meditation (which uses images) and the lowest form of prayer, verbal prayer. Wordless prayer forms the beginning of true contemplation, although the first stages may seem dry and fruitless. Gradually, with the grace of God, Who calls one to contemplation, one has allowed the purification of the senses, the intellect and the imagination, as well as the memory, to the point of “seeing” beyond one’s self into the Mystery of God.
Without understanding the depths of one’s faults, one’s weaknesses and tendencies toward sin, one cannot reach the second stage of practical perfection, which is the life of the virtues. As St. John of the Cross warns us, and as seen in the writings on the old blog by Garrigou-Lagrange, all the good works and virtues we thought we had established before purification, are all, all worthless, without purity of heart. Cassian clearly describes this process.
BUT this practical perfection depends on a double system; for its first method is to know the nature of all faults and the manner of their cure. Its second, to discover the order of the virtues, and form our mind by their perfection so that it may be obedient to them, not as if it were forced and subject to some fierce sway, but as if it delighted in its natural good, and throve upon it, and mounted by that steep and narrow way with real pleasure. For in what way will one, who has neither succeeded in understanding the nature of his own faults, nor tried to eradicate them, be able to gain an understanding of virtues, which is the second stage of practical training, or the mysteries of spiritual and heavenly things, which exist in the higher stage of theoretical knowledge? For it will necessarily be maintained that he cannot advance to more lofty heights who has not surmounted the lower ones, and much less will he be able to grasp those things that are without, who has not succeeded in understanding what is within his comprehension. But you should know that we must make an effort with a twofold purpose in our exertion; both for the expulsion of vice, and for the attainment of virtue. And this we do not gather from our own conjecture, but are taught by the words of Him who alone knows the strength and method of His work: “Behold,” He says: “I have set thee this day over the nations and over kingdoms, to root up, and to pull down, and to waste, and to destroy, and to build and to plant.” He points out that for getting rid of noxious things four things are requisite; viz., to root up, to pull down, to waste, and to destroy: but for the performance of what is good, and the acquisition of what pertains to righteousness only to build and to plant. Whence it is perfectly evident that it is a harder thing to tear up and eradicate the inveterate passions of body and soul than to introduce and plant spiritual virtues.
Even in the convent, one must pursue solitude. Without solitude, one cannot become holy, period. Silence brings us knowledge of the self, and finally, of God.
A story in Conference 14 reveals the truth of purity, even to a monk.
In this Conference, Cassian uses the work of Abba Nesteros, “On Spiritual Knowledge”:
FOR apart from that loss, which we have said that a monk incurs who wants in light-mindedness to pass from one pursuit to another, there is a risk of death that is hence incurred, because at times things which are rightly done by some are wrongly taken by others as an example, and things which turned out well for some, are found to be injurious to others. For, to give an instance, it is as if one wished to imitate the good deed of that man, which Abbot John is wont to bring forward, not for the sake of imitating him but simply out of admiration for him; for one came to the aforesaid old man in a secular dress and when he had brought him some of the first fruits of his crops, he found some one there possessed by a most fierce devil. And this one though he scorned the adjurations and commands of Abbot John, and vowed that he would never at his bidding leave the body which he had occupied, yet was terrified at the coming of this other, and departed with a most humble utterance of his name. And the old man marvelled not a little at his so evident grace and was the more astonished at him because he saw that he had on a secular dress; and so began carefully to ask of him the manner of his life and pursuit. And when he said that he was living in the world and bound by the ties of marriage, the blessed John, considering in his mind the greatness of his virtue and grace, searched out still more carefully what his manner of life might be. He declared that he was a countryman, and that he sought his food by the daily toil of his hands, and was not conscious of anything good about him except that he never went forth to his work in the fields in the morning nor came home in the evening without having returned thanks in Church for the food of his daily life, to God Who gave it; and that he had never used any of his crops without having first offered to God their first fruits and tithes; and that he had never driven his oxen over the bounds of another’s harvest without having first muzzled them that his neighbour might not sustain the slightest loss through his carelessness. And when these things did not seem to Abbot John sufficient to procure such grace as that with which he saw that he was endowed, and he inquired of him and investigated what it was which could be connected with the merits of such grace, he was induced by respect for such anxious inquiries to confess that, when he wanted to be professed as a monk, he had been compelled by force and his parents’ command, twelve years before to take a wife, who, without any body to that day being aware of it, was kept by him as a virgin in the place of a sister. And when the old man heard this, he was so overcome with admiration that he announced publicly in his presence that it was not without good reason that the devil who had scorned him himself, could not endure the presence of this man, whose virtue he himself, not only in the ardour of youth, but even now, would not dare to aim at without risk of his chastity. And though Abbot John would tell this story with the utmost admiration, yet he never advised any monk to try this plan as he knew that many things which are rightly done by some involved others who imitate them in great danger, and that that cannot be tried by all, which the Lord bestowed upon a few by a special gift.
Today, especially in America, people put others into boxes of expertise, as we live in an age which idolizes experts. Abba John came to understand that the true holiness of virtue may be won even by the lay person, who chooses purity of body, mind, and spirit.
Those without purity of heart, mind and spirit seemed to have taken over the Internet com boxes regarding the Synod. Yes, there are huge problems in the Church, but this fact is not new, and, is, in fact, as old as Judas.
Yet, lay men and women feel they have the right to condemn and even hate certain people, certain clerics. I would be very careful, and speak or write of hating heresy, or ideas, but never, never hating the persons who are in error.
More that this sad state of judging people, rather than ideas, I can see both on line and in several TLM communities where I have visited, real hatred of the Church. One cannot live with an adversarial spirit, entertain negativity, even demons, for long without falling into gross sin.
I have met those who hate the Church so much they have moved out of the regular life of the Church. This is not the way of the saint. The saint stays with and in the Church, even if that Church has caused a particular saint suffering.
I have been amazed, reading the autobiography of St. Ignaitus of Loyola, how many times he was put into jail and unfairly treated by Catholics. This state of affairs in his life, being put into prison for long periods of time, once, 42 days, for example, gives me hope. But, imho, those very people who hate certain prelates would not have liked St. Ignatius, who taught, preached and counseled before he was ordained, or St. Catherine of Siena, (a lay person), or St. Thomas More. Hatred mostly is based on ignorance, but some is based on deeper hatreds, such as true anti-clericism, or other biases against certain types or groups of people.
Cassian, like our more modern commentators, notes that holiness may be found by anyone, anywhere, in any walk of life.
Pray for priests, bishops, cardinals. Hold back your opinions and pray.
The Church is being divided not only by those who are too liberal and do not love the long moral teaching of Magisterium, but also, by those who honestly think they are holier than most of those in Rome at this time.