Month: July 2017

GOD AS UN-SIN

ON EXERCISING CONFIDENCE IN GOD

ONLY GOD’S LOVE LASTS FOREVER

 


                                                 “God is love” (1 John 4:8)

There is only one true love – God’s love. Only God’s love will go on and on and on. Only God’s love can conquer death and sin. All false loves – which ignored true virtue – will come to and end. God’s love alone is everlasting (see Jeremiah 31:3).

Therefore, we can adopt the following statement as a spiritual maxim: “ALL THAT IS NOT GOD IS NOT WORTHY OF ME.”

You were made for God. There is no possibility of true happiness without God. Thus, Saint Augustine says in very famous words: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

Anything that drags you away from God is not worthy of you...because you were made for God. Anything that attempts to lure you into taking your repose in perishable things is not worthy of you…because you were made for God and everlasting happiness.

Dear God, you have given me a mind with which to know you, and a heart with which to love you. Oh Lord, let me fathom the immensity of my soul and the immensity of my desires, and cling more tenaciously to You who alone are the fulfillment of all desire. 

Let us abandon the illusion, as Dr. Susan Muto says, that our “ALL” could be found in anything other than God.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Reference: This note is based on Father Jean Grou’s awesome essay, “On the Dignity of Man,” where he gives us this rule for life: “Everything that is not God is not worthy of man.” It is Father Grou who says that God gave us a mind in order to know Him, and a heart in order to love Him. Father Grou also mentions the immensity of the soul. My short note cannot do justice to  Father Grou’s powerful essay which is perfect for meditation. The essay is found in Grou’s classic work, Manual For Interior Souls, which is a series of awesome essays on the spiritual life. I believe it is Father Faber who points out that there is no possibility of happiness without God. When we do each act with purity of intention, for love of God, then we are on a saintly path.

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THE SEVEN SIGNS OF PREDESTINATION

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29)

“To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of “predestination”, he includes in it each person’s free response to his grace” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 600)

INTRODUCTION:The “Saints mention seven things,” says the great spiritual writer, F.W. Faber, “which they call the signs of predestination. This means something more than that they are symptoms of our being at present in a state of grace and on the way of holiness. It means that they are to a certain extent prophecies of the future, not infallibly true but supernaturally hopeful. It means that they are the sort of things to be expected in the elect, and not to be expected in others; things essential to the elect, and which through all the centuries of the Church have distinguished the elect. Hence if we find all, many, or a few of them in ourselves, we are legitimately entitled to proportionate consolation” (Growth in Holiness, p. 292).

These seven signs of predestination are:

1. The imitation of Christ

Comment: see partial list* below which suggests some of the qualities of Jesus we should strive to imitate.

2. Devotion to our Blessed Lady

Comment: Study the lives of the saints. They loved Mary. They were devoted to her. Their love of God grew as they placed their confidence in Mary. The saints realized that Mary is a special gift of Jesus for his disciples.

3. Works of mercy

Comment: the spirit of the Gospels is charity towards those in need.

4. Love of prayer

Comment: All the great spiritual writers talk about the critical importance of prayer. The CCC quotes Saint Alphonsus de Ligouri: “Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned.” To not pray is spiritual suicide (see CCC 2744). In short, prayer is “a vital necessity.”

5. Self-distrust

Comment: it is extremely critical we nurture a profound distrust of our thoughts and opinions when they conflict with revealed revelation in the Bible and the official teachings of the Catholic Church.  

6. The gift of faith

Comment: The spiritual life is lived in the power of faith. Pray to the Holy Spirit for an increase of this great theological virtue.

7. Past mercies from God

Comment: When we look back at the past graces we have received from God we are filled with gratitude and an intense desire to love and serve Him. Without God’s merciful interferences in our life, we would have been lost.
 
CONCLUSION: Father Faber states: “We must also bear in mind of all these things that it is not the [full] possession of them which counts with God, and so is a sign of predestination, but the earnest desire of them and the sincere endeavor after them.” The comments above are my own, and the partial list below, which I no doubt gathered from Father Faber and other spiritual writers, suggests some of the qualities of Jesus we should strive to imitate.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

 
*LIST. Imitation of our Lord’s spirit of:
 
 – the love of God
 
 – intense desire for the glory of God
 
 – intense desire for the salvation of souls
 
 – trust in God
 
 – total submission to the will of God
 
  – love of the seven sacraments instituted by Jesus
 
 – prayer
 
 – love of Mary
 
 – love of the church
 
 – love of the poor
 
 – love of Saint Joseph
 
 – love of the Office of Peter which Jesus established
 
 – mercy and forgiveness
 
 – love of virtue
 
 – hatred of sin
 
 – poverty
 
 – austerity
 
 – simplicity
 
 – gentleness
 
 – meekness
 
 – kindness
 
 – humility
 
 – purity
 
 – modesty
 
 – true piety
 
 – love of neighbor (charity)
 
 – evangelizing
 
 – mortification
 
 – detachment from things
 
 – contempt for worldly honor
 
 – silence under rebuke
 
 – joy
 
 – generosity
 
 – sacrifice
 
 – redemptive suffering
 
 – justice
 
 – sweetness
 
 – dying to self
 
 – unworldliness
 
 – contempt for worldliness
 
 – love of truth
 
 – obedience
 
 – contempt for hypocrisy
 
 – fasting

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IF THE VATICAN TRIES TO CHANGE HUMANAE VITAE THAT WILL BE A DEFINITE SIGN OF APOSTASY

(A stained glass window in the Vatican imaging the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth)

“Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which is “on the side of life,” teaches that “it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life.” “This particular doctrine, expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2366)

We’ve been reading lately in various news sources that there is some kind of commission or group in the Vatican studying the possibility of modifying the great encyclical of Pope Paul VI on birth control, Humanae Vitae. One might have hoped that such a commission would be studying how to more widely implement the teaching of Humanae Vitae, by promoting Natural Family Planning, but these are strange times.

Let me say two things: first, the teaching of Humanae Vitae represents the very touchstone of Catholic sexual morality (see quote from Pope Benedict XVI below), and, secondly, Humanae Vitae is an infallible teaching of the Catholic Church that cannot be changed, or modified, or made optional in a footnote. Do the people in the Vatican think we lay Catholics are simply ignorant of the importance of Humanae Vitae? Do they intend to water down Petrine authority, and thus the very rock solid foundation of the Church?

While I certainly do not oppose legitimate efforts to study the earth’s climate in order to remedy excessive climate changes, there are certain moral doctrines emanating from the global warming movement that are in radical opposition to Catholic teaching about the sanctity and transmission of human life.

I do believe the Gospel of Global Warming is operative here. We have already read that the Vatican has appointed one or more pro-choice members to its Life Academy, which is not only odd but crazy! We have read, too, of radical pro-abortion speakers (or at least one for sure) being invited to give talks in the Vatican (why would the Vatican cozy up with the culture of death??). There is – it cannot be denied – an alliance between The Gospel of Global Warming and the culture of death. The Gospel of Global Warming is full of high-ranking members who see human population as something that needs to be dramatically reduced – by contraception and abortion – in order to save the planet. Could it be the Vatican is somehow influenced by this manner of thinking? Has not the Pope himself shown a certain irritation with large families?

I am not being merely hyperbolic by my phrase, The Gospel of Global Warming. Having a degree in Religious Studies from a Jesuit University, I have studied the components of  religious movements. The Global Warming movement is a religious movement: it seeks to save the planet from certain types of evil doers; it brands its own scientific studies as infallible; the sacrifice to be offered is the excess human population that threatens the planet’s viability; evangelization is needed in order to enroll the general public into the movement; dissent is strictly forbidden, and those who do dissent are branded as misfits; Planet earth, itself, is seen as the ultimate Good (wherever it came from).

Here is my point. The Gospel of Global Warming is a human movement, relying on the human spirit (thus overwhelmingly seeing contraception and abortion as moral goods). The Catholic Church claims to be a supernatural movement, directed by the Holy Spirit. Let’s be honest: the Vatican is far too concerned about global warming and not enough about the salvation of souls. So yes, let’s protect our environment, but if protecting our environment means cozying up with the culture of death, if it means rolling back our moral theology, if it means modifying Humanae Vitae, then there is something seriously wrong in the Vatican (and our leaders are being infected by the spirit of the world). In short, to try and change Humanae Vitae would be a definite sign of apostasy.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A., J.D.

 

Note: Who can doubt that Humanae Vitae is the definite, infallible teaching of the Church (see CCC 2035)? It is enshrined in CCC 2366 quoted above, which states that its doctrine has been “expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium….”  Humanae Vitae itself confirmed the 1931 encyclical of Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubi, and it was affirmed dramatically under both Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI (see, for example, The Gospel of Life, Veritatis Splendor and Charity in Truth, all encyclicals.). As one example, here is Pope Benedict reaffirming Humanae Vitae in Charity in Truth:

“The Encyclical Humanae Vitae emphasizes both the unitive and the procreative meaning of sexuality, thereby locating at the foundation of society the married couple, man and woman, who accept one another mutually, in distinction and in complementarity: a couple, therefore, that is open to life. This is not a question of purely individual morality: Humanae Vitae indicates the strong links between life ethics and social ethics, ushering in a new area of magisterial teaching that has gradually been articulated in a series of documents, most recently John Paul II’s Encyclical Evangelium Vitae. The Church forcefully maintains this link between life ethics and social ethics, fully aware that “a society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized.”   (Caritas in Veritate, no. 15, footnotes omitted)

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TWO ONE SENTENCE ARGUMENTS POINTING CLEARLY TO THE EXISTENCE OF GOD

“Only to sit and think of God, Oh what a joy it is! To think the thought, to breathe the Name. Earth has no higher bliss.” (Frederick W. Faber)

Introduction: Here are two short but powerful arguments pointing clearly to the existence of God. The goal here is to utilize rational thinking (human reason) in support of faith. “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart the desire to know the truth — in a word, to know himself — so that by knowing and loving God, men and women can come to the fullness of the truth about themselves” (Saint Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Fides et Ratio).

Argument # 1

       If there was nothing to begin with then there would be nothing at all.

EXPLANATION: If there was nothing to begin with…then there would be nothing at all. Nothing from nothing leaves nothing. But since there is something – and here we are discussing it! – there was something to begin with! Without something to begin with there would be nothing at all. God was not created because He has never not been. He is that uncreated Something to begin with. He Is the Alpha and the Omega. God is the necessary Something to begin with, without which there would be nothing at all.

Argument # 2

      The greater does not come from the lesser.

EXPLANATION: The key point here is that inert, unthinking, inorganic matter has never had the capacity to create itself, and then a universe. Organic matter, the matter of biological life, shows up on the scene late on the time-line, apparently favoring planet earth, and out of this life comes the life of rational creatures, human beings. Matter, therefore, starting off as inert and inorganic, is not a sufficient cause for its own existence. In shortinert matter started off radically incapable of bringing itself into existence without a higher cause.

CONCLUSION: It is impossible for God not to exist. Otherwise, there would be nothing.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Sources: For argument # 1, see p. 121 of the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (on causality). For argument # 2, see p. 3 of Providence by Father Garrigou-LaGrange wherein he says: “…it will be well to point out one general proof [of God’s existence] that virtually contains them all…The greater does not come from the less, the more perfect does not come from the less perfect, since the latter is incapable of producing this effect” (see also p. 176 of Aquinas’ Proofs for God’s Existence by Dennis Bonnette).

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SEVEN SIGNS OF LUKEWARMNESS IN THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

THEOLOGY OF THE BODY GONE BAD

“The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honorable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude.” has intended for them. *** At the same time, spouses should know how to keep themselves within the limits of just moderation.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2362)

In a previous post I attempted to explain Saint John Paul II’s wonderful “theology of the body” in a very concise manner. See

THEOLOGY OF THE BODY IN A NUTSHELL | Catholic Strength

However, in this post I feel compelled to point out a misuse of the theology of the body that never would have been sanctioned by Pope John Paul II. Hopefully, those theologians who were proposing illicit methods of foreplay between husband and wife – under the guise of the theology of the body – have stopped discussing such matters and have repented for having done so. If this is true, I thank them for their courage and faithfulness.

There have been a number of discussions on the internet in recent years (at Catholic websites), flowing apparently from the publication of books and tapes on the theology of the body, as to whether sodomy as foreplay to natural intercourse between husband and wife is permissible, and some theologians have maintained it is (although some are beginning to caution that the practice is nevertheless not sanitary and could be emotionally debasing). The author of this note is personally saddened that a Catholic man could even conceive of sodomizing his wife under any circumstances. Two of the greatest moral theologians in the Catholic Church, both of whom are Saints and Doctors of the Church, have expressed the opposite opinion, namely, that such conduct is mortally sinful.

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THE DEEP CONTEMPLATION OF NATURE

“The beauty of creation reflects the infinite beauty of the Creator and ought to inspire the respect and submission of man’s intellect and will.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 341)

Our five senses are windows that help us see more keenly the influx of God in His creation. Our concern here, first of all, is the alienation and despiritualizaion that takes place when we are separated – however unconsciously –  from the beauty and rejuvenating power of God’s playground – the natural world. Our second concern is to learn how to contemplate in a more profound manner this beautiful world of nature created for our enjoyment and fascination.

A very accomplished spiritual writer, Dr. Susan Muto, defines contemplation as being “in the temple of the living God, sensing, believing, and experiencing that we are actually in his presence, that he is in us and we are in him.” Now one such temple of the living God is the natural world he created, where God is present, as theologians say, by His universal presence – that is, by His power, presence and essence. God’s presence in a baptized soul by sanctifying grace is a deeper, far more intimate presence, but in this note we are concentrating on His infallible presence in nature.

A great Catholic theologian, Father Edward Leen, expresses in one of his books just how intimate God’s presence is in nature: “God’s power is put forth in every pulse of organic and inorganic being, in repose and movement, in every slightest change. Since every being and every aspect of being is the effect of God’s creative or conservative action, God’s power and exercise of that power is present to and in everything to the very depths of its reality. Where anything, therefore, is, God must be. God, therefore envelops all reality, since he himself is the source of all that is real….” (The Holy Spirit, p.112, as edited).

Another great Catholic theologian, F.W. Faber, commenting on God’s universal presence, says: “[We can view God] by His unspeakable eminence in power, in wisdom, and in goodness. For we are never really outside of God nor He outside of us. He as it were flows into us….He distinctively permits and actually concurs with every exercise of thinking, loving, or acting. This influx and concourse of God, as theologians style it, ought to give to us all our lives long the sensation of being in an awful sanctuary, where every sight and sound is one of worship. Everything is penetrated with God….” (The Creator and the Creature, pp. 75-76, as edited).

And the great Catholic philosopher, Jacques Maritain, states: “The part played by the senses in the perception of beauty is even rendered enormous in us, and well nigh-indispensable…only sense knowledge possesses perfectly in man the intuitiveness required for the perception of the beautiful.” Father Thomas Dubay adds: “Creation is a book proclaiming the Creator. It is a book of beauty that our intellect reads, but through the passageways of our five senses.” Dubay laments that “if healthy infants begin life with an inquisitive interest in their surroundings and then grow to delight in attractive sights and sounds and experiences, how does existential boredom come about.”

The practice of contemplating nature is therefore of critical importance because it bonds us closer to God, the source of true goodness and happiness. But contemplation is an art, an acquired skill, which teaches us how to simply stop and smell the rose and encounter its created magnificence, wherein, like the poet, we are led to a deep appreciation of beauty and become even immersed in praise: “Glory be to God for dappled things/For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow…./He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:Praise Him” (Gerard Manley Hopkins).

HOW DO I CONTEMPLATE NATURE?

The deep contemplation of nature begins with a deep appreciation of God’s presence in nature (as discussed above). But the actual practice of this contemplation involves the profound application of your senses to the majestic presence of God’s creation, wherein through attention and repose, there is a heightened receptivity between you and the object being contemplated. Dietrich von Hilderbrand states: “Contemplation implies an inward penetration of the object, a communing therewith in awareness of everything it means, as though the object turned its full face to us. Again, contemplation represents a specifically restful attitude, in which we, free from the circumscribing function of acting as agent, actualize our entire being.” Von Hilderbrand adds: “The contemplative attitude – such as the contemplation of an object of great beauty and the pure, restful joy it yields – is free from that dynamic tension towards the future: it implies, not a hastening forward but a dwelling in the present” (Transformation in Christ, Chapter 6).

Contemplation, says Von Hilderbrand, “is ruled entirely by the thematicity of the object as such. The aspect of realization through my action is absent; the object acquires full thematic value.” When we are caught up in the transformative beauty of nature, which one may call an “intense spiritual activity” involving the “fullest actualization of the person,” the depth of this experience is greatly enhanced when we realize that what we are loving –  God’s beautiful creation – is capable of returning our love in the Creator himself who is the source of the gifted experience.

It is said of Saint John of the Cross, the Church’s greatest mystical theologian, that he beheld “in creation a trace of the divine beauty, power, and loving wisdom, [so that he] could not easily resist the enchantment of nature.” It is known that he “would take the friars out to the mountains, … so that each might pass the day alone there ‘in solitary prayer’.” At “Segovia he had his favorite grotto, hollowed out by nature, high up on the back bluff overlooking a marvelous stretch of sky, river, and landscape. He grew to love this silent grotto and spent all the time he could spare there” (from The Collected Works of Saint John of the Cross).

There is, says Father Dubay, a profound relationship between beauty and ecstasy. Perhaps it was in the beautiful mountains of Spain that John of the Cross glimpsed in ecstasy what the pure vision of God in Heaven would be like, stating:

“Let us rejoice, O my Beloved, Let us go forth to see ourselves in Your beauty, To the mountain and the hill, Where the pure water flows: Let us enter into the heart of the thicket.

Let us so act, that, by the practice of this love, we may come to see ourselves in Your beauty in everlasting life.” That is: “Let me be so transformed in Your beauty, that, being alike in beauty, we may see ourselves both in Your beauty; having Your beauty, so that, one beholding the other, each may see his own beauty in the other, the beauty of both being Yours only, and mine absorbed in it. And thus I shall see You in Your beauty, and myself in Your beauty, and You shall see me in Your beauty; and I shall see myself in You in Your beauty, and You Yourself in me in Your beauty; so shall I seem to be Yourself in Your beauty, and You myself in Your beauty; my beauty shall be Yours, Yours shall be mine, and I shall be You in it, and You myself in Your own beauty; for Your beauty will be my beauty, and so we shall see, each the other, in Your beauty” (from The Spiritual Canticle).

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

References: As already mentioned. The quotes from Father Dubay are from his book, The Evidential Power of Beauty, and he is the one who led me to the quote by Saint John of the Cross.

For practical tips on how to contemplate nature, see my post:

TO BE HAPPY WE MUST LEARN TO LIVE BEAUTY | Catholic Strength

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