ON CHARITY TO OUR NEIGHBOUR – St. Alphonsus

“For with the same measure that you shall mete withal, it shall be measured to you again.” LUKE vi. 38.

IN this day’s gospel we find that Jesus Christ once said to his disciples: “Be ye merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” (Luke vi. 36.) As your heavenly Father is merciful towards you, so must you be merciful to others. He then proceeds to explain how, and in what, we should practise holy charity to our neighbour. “Judge not,” he adds, “and you shall not be judged” (v. 37).

Here he speaks against those who do not abstain from judging rashly of their neighbours. ”For give, and you shall be forgiven” (ibid). He tells us that we cannot obtain pardon of the offences we have offered to God, unless we pardon those who have offended us. ”Give, and it shall be given to you” (v. 38).

By these words he condemns those who wish that God should grant whatsoever they desire, and are at the same time niggardly and avaricious towards the poor. In conclusion he declares, that the measure of charity which we use to our neighbour shall be the same that God will use towards us. Let us, then, see how we should practise charity to our neighbour: we ought to practise it, first, in our thoughts; secondly, in words; thirdly, by works.

First Point

How we should practise charity to our neighbour in our thoughts.

1. “And this commandment we have from God, that he who loveth God, love also his brother.” (1 John iv. 21.) The same precept, then, which obliges us to love God, commands us to love our neighbour. St. Catherine of Genoa said one day to the Lord: “My God, thou dost wish me to love my neighbour; but I can love no one but thee.” The Lord said to her in answer: “My child, he that loves me loves whatsoever I love.” Hence St. John says: ”If any man say: I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar.” (1 John iv. 20.) And Jesus Christ has declared that he will receive, as done to himself, the charity which we practise towards the least of his brethren.

2. Hence we must, in the first place, practise fraternal charity in our thoughts, by never judging evil of any one without certain foundation. ”Judge not, and you shall not be judged.” He who judges without certain grounds that another has committed a mortal sin, is guilty of a grievous fault; if he only rashly suspects another of a mortal sin, he commits at least a venial offence. But, to judge or suspect evil of another is not sinful when we have certain grounds for the judgment or suspicion. However, he that has true charity thinks well of all, and banishes from his mind both judgments and suspicions. “Charity thinketh no evil.” (1 Cor. xiii. 5.)

The heads of families are obliged to suspect the evil which may be done by those who are under their care. Certain fathers and foolish mothers knowingly allow their sons to frequent bad company and houses in which there are young females, and permit their daughters to be alone with men. They endeavour to justify the neglect of their children by saying: ”I do not wish to entertain bad thoughts of others.” O folly of parents! They are in such cases bound to suspect the evil which may happen; and, in order to prevent it, they should correct their children. But they that are not entrusted with the care of others, ought to abstain carefully from inquiring after the defects and conduct of others.

3. When sickness, loss of property, or any misfortune happens to a neighbour, charity requires that we regret, at least with the superior part of the soul, the evil that has befallen him. I say, ”with the superior part of the soul ;” for, when we hear of the misfortunes of an enemy, our inferior appetite appears to feel delight; but, as long as we do not consent to that delight, we are not guilty of sin. However, it is sometimes lawful to desire, or to be pleased at, the temporal evil of another, when we expect that it will be productive of spiritual good to himself or to others.

For example: it is lawful, according to St. Gregory, to rejoice at the sickness or misfortune of an obstinate and scandalous sinner, and even to desire that he may fall into sickness or poverty, in order that he may cease to lead a wicked life, or at least to scandalize others. Behold the words of St. Gregory: “Evenire plerumque potest, ut non amissa charitate, et inimici nostri ruina lætificet, et ejus gloria sine invidiæ culpa contristet; cum et, ruente eo, quosdam bene erigi credimus, et proficiente illo plerosque injuste opprimi formidamus.” (Lib. xxii., Moral., cap. ii.) But, except in such cases, it is unlawful to rejoice at the loss of a neighbour. It is also contrary to charity to feel regret at a neighbour’s prosperity merely because it is useful to him.

This is precisely the sin of envy. The envious are, according to the Wise Man, on the side of the devil, who, because he could not bear to see men in heaven, from which he had been banished, tempted Adam to rebel against God. “But by the envy of the devil death came into the world; and they follow him that are of his side.” (Wis. ii. 25.) Let us pass to the next point.

Second Point

On the charity which we ought to practise towards our neighbour in words

4. With regard to the practice of fraternal charity in words, we ought, in the first place, and above all, to abstain from all detraction. ”The tale-bearer shall defile his own soul, and shall be hated by all.” (Eccl. xxi. 31.) As they who always speak well of others are loved by all, so he who detracts his neighbour is hateful to all to God and to men, who, although they take delight in listening to detraction, hate the detractor, and are on their guard against him.

St. Bernard says that the tongue of a detractor is a three-edged sword. ”Gladius equidem anceps, immo triplex est lingua detractoris” (in Ps. Ivi). With one of these edges it destroys the reputation of a neighbour; with the second it wounds the souls of those who listen to the detraction; and with the third it kills the soul of the detractor by depriving him of the divine grace. You will say: ”I have spoken of my neighbour only in secret to my friends, and have made them promise not to mention to others what I told them.” This excuse will not stand: no; you are, as the Lord says, the serpent that bites in silence. ”If a serpent bite in silence, he is nothing better that backbiteth secretly.” (Eccl. x. 11.)

Your secret defamation bites and destroys the character of a neighbour. They who indulge in the vice of detraction are chastised not only in the next, but also in. this life, because their uncharitable tongues are the cause of a thousand sins, by creating discord in whole families and entire villages. Thomas Cantaprensis (Apum, etc., cap. xxxvii.) relates, that he knew a certain detractor, who at the end of life became raging mad, and died lacerating his tongue with his teeth. The tongue of another detractor, who was going to speak ill of St. Malachy, instantly swelled and was filled with worms. And, after seven days, the unhappy man died miserably.

5. Detraction is committed not only when we take away a neighbours character, by imputing to him a sin which he has not committed, or exaggerating his guilt, but also when we make known to others any of his secret sins. Some persons, when they know anything injurious to a neighbour, appear to suffer, as it were, the pains of childbirth, until they tell it toothers.

When the sin of a neighbour is secret and grievous, it is a mortal sin to mention it to others without a just cause. I say, “without a just cause ;” for, to make known to a parent the fault of a child, that he may correct him and prevent a repetition of the fault, is not sinful, but is an act of virtue; for according to St. Thomas (2, 2, qu. 2, art. 73), to let others know the sins of a neighbour is unlawful, when it is done to destroy his reputation, but not when it is done for his good, or for the good of others.

6. They who listen to detraction, and afterwards go and tell what was said to the person whose character had been injured, have to render a great account to. These are called talebearers. Oh! how great is the evil produced by these talebearing tongues that are thus employed in sowing discord. They are objects of God’s hatred. “The Lord hateth him that soweth discord among brethren.” (Prov. vi. 16, 19.)

Should the person who has been defamed speak of his defamer, the injury which he has received may, perhaps, give him some claim to compassion. But why should you relate what you have heard? Is it to create ill-will and hatred that shall be the cause of a thousand sins? If, from this day forward, you ever hear anything injurious to a neighbour, follow the advice of the Holy Ghost. ”Hast thou heard a word against thy neighbour? let it die with thee.” (Eccl. xix. 10.)

You should not only keep it shut up in your heart, but you must let it die within you. He that is only shut up may escape and be seen; but he that is dead cannot leave the grave. When, then, you know anything injurious to your neighbour, you ought to be careful not to give any intimation of it to others by words, by motions of the head, or by any other sign. Sometimes greater injury is done to others by certain singular signs and broken words than by a full statement of their guilt; because these hints make persons suspect that the evil is greater than it really is.

7. In your conversations be careful not to give pain to any companion, either present or absent, by turning him into ridicule. You may say: “I do it through jest;” but such jests are contrary to charity. “All things, therefore,” says Jesus Christ, ”that you will that men should do to you, do you also unto them.” (Matt. vii. 12.) Would you like to be treated with derision before others? Give up, then, the practice of ridiculing your neighbours.

Abstain also from contending about useless trifles. Some times, certain contests about mere trifles grow so warm that they end in quarrels and injurious words. Some persons are so full of the spirit of contradiction, that they controvert what others say, without any necessity, and solely for the sake of contention, and thus violate charity. ”Strive not,” says the Holy Ghost, ”in matters which do not concern thee.” (Eccl. xi. 9.)

But they will say: “I only defend reason; I cannot bear these assertions which are contrary to reason.” In answer to these defenders of reason, Cardinal Bellarmine says, that an ounce of charity is better than a hundred loads of reason. In conversation, particularly when the subject of it is unimportant, state your opinion, if you wish to take part in the discourse, and then keep yourself in peace, and be on your guard against obstinacy in defending your own opinion.

In such contests it is always better to yield. B. Egidius used to say, that he who gives up conquers; because he is superior in virtue, and preserves peace, which is far more valuable than a victory in such contests. St. Joseph Calasanctius was accustomed to say, that “he who loves peace never contradicts any one.”

8. Thus, dearly beloved brethren, if you wish to be loved by God and by men, endeavour always to speak well of all. And, should you happen to hear a person speak ill of a neighbour, be careful not to encourage his uncharitableness, nor to show any curiosity to hear the faults of others. If you do, you will be guilty of the same sin which the detractor commits. ”Hedge in thy ears with thorns,” says Ecclesiasticus, ”and hear not a wicked tongue.” (Eccl. xxviii. 28.) When you hear any one taking away the character of another, place around your ears a hedge of thorns, that detraction may not enter. For this purpose it is necessary, at least, to show that the discourse is not pleasing to you.

This may be done by remaining silent, by putting on a sorrowful countenance, by casting down the eyes, or turning your face in another direction. In a word, act, says St. Jerome, in such a way that the detractor, seeing your unwillingness to listen to him, may learn to be more guarded for the future against the sin of detraction. ”Discat detractor, dum te videt non libenter audire, non facile detrahere.” (S. Hier. ep. ad Nepot.) And when it is in your power to do it, it will be a great act of charity to defend the character of the persons who have been defamed.

The Divine Spouse wishes that the words of his beloved be a veil of scarlet. ”Thy lips are as a scarlet lace.” (Cant. iv. 3.) That is, as Theodoret explains this passage, her words should be dictated by charity (a scarlet lace), that they may cover, as much as possible, the defects of others, at least by excusing their intentions, when their acts cannot be excused. ”If,” says St. Bernard, ”you cannot excuse the act, excuse the intention. ” (Serm. xl. in Cant.) It was a proverb among the nuns of the convent of St. Teresa, that, in the presence of their holy mother, their reputation was secure, because they knew she would take the part of those of whom any fault might be mentioned.

9. Charity also requires that we be meek to all, and particularly to those who are opposed to us. When a person is angry with you, and uses injurious language, remember that a “mild answer breaketh wrath.” (Prov. xv. 1.) Reply to him with meekness, and you shall find that his anger will be instantly appeased.

But, if you resent the injury, and use harsh language, you will increase the same; the feeling of revenge will grow more violent, and you will expose yourself to the danger of losing your soul by yielding to an act of hatred, or by breaking out into expressions grievously injurious to your neighbour.

Whenever you feel the soul agitated by passion, it is better to force yourself to remain silent, and to make no reply; for, as St. Bernard says, an eye clouded with anger cannot distinguish between right and wrong. ”Turbatus præ ira oculus rectum non videt.” (Lib. 2 de Consid., cap. xi.) Should it happen that in a fit of passion you have insulted a neighbour, charity requires that you use every means to allay his wounded feelings, and to remove from his heart all sentiments of rancour towards you.

The best means of making reparation for the violation of charity is to humble yourself to the person whom you have offended. With regard to the meekness which we should practise towards others, I shall speak on that subject in the thirty-fourth Sermon, or the Sermon for the fifth Sunday after Pentecost.

10. It is also an act of charity to correct sinners. Do not say that you are not a superior. Were you a superior, you should be obliged by your office to correct all those who might be under your care; but, although you are not placed over others, you are, as a Christian, obliged to fulfil the duty of fraternal correction.

”He gave to every one of them commandment concerning his neighbour.” (Eccl. xvii. 12.) Would it not be great cruelty to see a blind man walking on the brink of a precipice, and not admonish him of his danger, in order to preserve him from temporal death? It would be far greater cruelty to neglect, for the sake of avoiding a little trouble, to deliver a brother from eternal death.

Third Point

On the charity we ought to practise towards our neighbour by works

11. Some say that they love all, but will not put themselves to any inconvenience in order to relieve the wants of a neighbour. “My little children,” says St. John, “let us not love in word, nor in tongue, but in deed and truth.” (1 John iii. 18 ) The Scripture tells us that alms deliver men from death, cleanse them from sin, and obtain for them the divine mercy and eternal life. “Alms delivereth from death, and the same is that which purgeth away sins, and maketh to find mercy and life everlasting.” (Job xii. 9.)

God will relieve you in the same manner in which, you give relief to your neighbour. “With what measure you shall mete, it shall be measured to you again. ”(Matt. vii. 2.) Hence St. Chrysostom says, that the exercise of charity to others is the means of acquiring great gain with God.

“Alms is, of all acts, the most lucrative.” And St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to say, that she felt more happy in reliev ing her neighbour than when she was wrapt up in contemplation. “Because, she would add when I am in contemplation God assists me; but in giving relief to a neighbour I assist God ;” for, every act of charity which we exercise towards our neighbour, God accepts as if it were done to himself.

But, on the other hand, how, as St. John says, can he who does not assist a brother in want, be said to love God?”He that hath the substance of this world, and shall see his brother in need, and shall shut up his bowels from him, how doth the charity of God abide in him ?” (1 John iii. 17.) By alms is understood, not only the distribution of money or other goods, but every succour that is given to a neighbour in order to relieve his wants.

12. If charity obliges us to assist all, it commands us still more strictly to relieve those who are in tbe greatest need; such as the souls in Purgatory. St. Thomas teaches, that charity extends not only to the living, but also to the dead.

Hence, as we ought to assist our neighbours who are in this life, so we are bound to give relief to those holy prisoners who are so severely tormented by fire, and who are incapable of relieving themselves. A deceased monk of the Cistercian order appeared to the sacristan of his monastery, and said to him: “Brother, assist me by your prayers; for I can do nothing for myself.” (Cron. Cist.)

Let us, then, assist, to the utmost of our power, these beloved spouses of Jesus Christ, by recommending them every day to God, and by sometimes getting Mass offered for their repose. There is nothing which gives so much relief to those holy souls as the sacrifice of the altar. They certainly will not be ungrateful; they will in return pray for you, and will obtain for you still greater graces, when they shall have entered into the kingdom of God.

13. To exercise a special charity towards the sick, is also very pleasing to God. They are afflicted by pains, by melancholy, by the fear of death, and are sometimes abandoned by others. Be careful to relieve them by alms, or by little presents, and to serve them as well as you can, at least by endeavouring to console them by your words, and by exhortations to practise resignation to the will of God, and to offer to him all their sufferings.

14. Above all, be careful to practise charity to those who are opposed to you. Some say: I am grateful to all who treat me with kindness; but I cannot exercise charity towards those who persecute me. Jesus Christ says that even pagans know how to be grateful to those who do them a service. “Do not also the heathens this ?” (Matt. v. 47.)

Christian charity consists in wish ing well, and in doing good to those who hate and injure us. “But I say to you: Love your enemies; do good to them that hate you; and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you.” (Matt. v. 44.) Some seek to injure you, but you must love them. Some have done -evil to you, but you must return good for evil. Such the vengeance of the saints. This is the heavenly revenge which St. Paulinus exhorts us to inflict on our enemies. ”To repay good for evil is heavenly revenge. ” (Epis. xvi.)

St. Chrysostom teaches, that there is nothing which assimilates us so much to God as the granting of pardon to enemies. “Nothing makes men so like to God as to spare enemies.” (Hom, xxvii. in Gen.) Such has been the practice of the saints. St. Catherine of Genoa continued for a long time to relieve a woman who had endeavoured to destroy the saints reputation.

On an assassin, who had made an attempt on his life, St. Ambrose settled a sum for his support. Venustanus, governor of Tuscany, ordered the hands of St. Sabinus to be cut off, because the holy bishop confessed the true faith. The tyrant, feeling a violent pain in his eyes, entreated the saint to assist him. The saint prayed for him, and raised his arm, from which the blood still continued to flow, blessed him, and obtained for him the cure of his eyes and of his soul; for the tyrant became a convert to the faith. Father Segneri relates, that the son of a certain lady in Bologna was murdered by an assassin, who by accident took refuge in her house. (Christ. Instr., part 1, disc. 20, n. 20.) What did she do?

She first concealed him from the ministers of justice, and afterwards said to him: Since I have lost my son, you shall henceforth be my son and my heir. Take, for the present, this sum of money, and provide for your safety elsewhere, for here you are not secure.

It is thus the saints resent injuries. With what face, says St. Cyril of Jerusalem, can he that does not pardon the affronts which he receives from his enemies, say to God: Lord, pardon me the many insults which I have offered to thee?”Qua fronte dices Domino: remitte mihi multa peccata mea, si tu pauca conserve tuo non remiseris?” (Catech. ii.)

But he that forgives his enemies is sure of the pardon of the Lord, who says: “Forgive, and you shall be forgiven.” (Luke vi. 37.) And when you cannot serve them in any other way, recommend to God those who persecute and calumniate you. “Pray for them that persecute and calumniate you.”

This is the admonition of Jesus Christ, who is able to reward those who treat their enemies in this manner.

Traditional Catholic with a wife, 10 kids, 5 cats and 1 dog (and one stray dog that won’t leave).

Blog Update

Many people have been asking that I complete an “about” section on the blog to explain about the changes over the course of the last few years.

I have finally got around to creating the page and publishing it and if you would like to read it, you can do so here: About This Blog.

 

Traditional Catholic with a wife, 10 kids, 5 cats and 1 dog (and one stray dog that won’t leave).

The Folly Of The Sinner – St. Alphonsus

This is the twentieth consideration that St. Alphonsus cites in his book, Preparation for Death.  You can read the entire book online here.

The folly of the Sinner.
For the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God.”—I
Cor. iii. l9.

FIRST POINT.

The Large Number of Fools
The Saint John Avila would have divided the world
into two prisons, one for the incredulous, the other
for Christians who live in sin at a distance from God.
The prison of the latter he would have called the prison of
fools. But the greatest misery and misfortune is, that
these miserable men esteem themselves wise and
prudent, though they are the most foolish and imprudent
of mortals. And unfortunately they are exceedingly
numerous. The number of fools is infinite (Eccles. i, 15).
Some are foolish through love of honors; some for the
sake of pleasures; and others from attachment to the
miserable goods of this earth. And great as their folly is,
they have the temerity to call the saints fools, because
they despise the goods of this life in order to gain eternal
salvation and the possession of God, who is the true and
supreme good. They deem it folly to embrace contempt,
and to pardon injuries; folly to abstain from sensual
pleasures, and to practice mortification; folly to renounce
honors and riches, to love solitude and an humble and
hidden life. But they never reflect that the Lord has called
their wisdom folly. For, says the apostle, the wisdom of
the world is foolishness with God (1 Cor.iii, 19).
Ah! they will one day confess their folly; but when? When
there will be no remedy for it. They will then say in
despair We fools esteemed their life madness and their
end without honor (Wis. v, 4). Ah ! fools that we have been
! we regarded the lives of the Saints as folly; but now we
know that we have been miserably foolish. Behold how
they are numbered among the children of God, and their
lot is among the saints (Wis. v, 5). Behold how they have
obtained a place among the happy number of the
children of God, and have secured their lot among the
saints—an eternal lot, which will make them happy for
eternity; and we are among the number of the slaves of
the devil, condemned to burn in this pit of torments for all
eternity. Therefore we have erred, thus they shall
conclude their lamentation, from the way of truth, and the
light of justice hath not shined unto us (Wis. v, 6). Then we
have erred by shutting our eyes to God’s light; and what
renders our condition still more forlorn is, that for our
error there is no remedy, and there will be none as long
as God will be God. How great then the folly of sinners,
who, for a worthless gain, for a little smoke, for a
transient delight, lose the grace of God ! What would not
a vassal do in order to gain the favor of his sovereign ? O
God ! for a miserable gratification, to lose God, the
supreme Good ! to lose paradise ! to forfeit peace in this
life, by bringing into the soul the monster sin, which, by its
remorse, will torture it unceasingly ! and to condemn
yourself voluntarily to everlasting woe! Would you indulge
in that forbidden pleasure if, in punishment, your hand
was to be burned ? or if you were to be shut up for a year
in a grave ? Would you commit that sin, if after consenting
to it, you should forfeit a hundred crowns ? And still you
believe and know that in yielding to sin, you lose heaven
and God, and that you are condemned to eternal fire: and
after all you transgress the divine law.
Affections and Prayers.
God of my soul! what should be my lot at this
moment, if Thou hadst not shown me so many
mercies ? I should be in hell among the number of
the foolish to which I have belonged. I thank Thee, O my
Lord! and I entreat Thee not to abandon me in my
blindness, I feel that Thou tenderly callest and invitest me
to ask pardon, and to hope for great graces from Thee,
after the insults I have offered to Thee. Yes, my Saviour! I
hope Thou wilt admit me among Thy children : I am not
worthy to be called Thy child, after having so often
insulted Thee to Thy face. Father, I am not worthy to be
called Thy child: I have sinned against heaven and before
Thee (Luke, xv, 18). But I know that Thou goest in search
of the strayed sheep, and that Thou feelest consolation in
embracing Thy lost children. My dear Father! I am sorry
for having offended Thee. I cast myself at Thy feet, and
embrace them; I will not depart till Thou pardon and bless
me.
I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me (Gen. xxxii,
26). Bless me, O my Father! and let the fruit of Thy
benediction be, a great sorrow for my sins, and a great
love for Thee. I love Thee, O my Father! I love Thee with
my whole heart. Do not permit me ever more to depart
from Thee. Deprive me of all; but do not strip me of Thy
love. O Mary! if God is my Father, thou art my Mother.
Do thou also bless me. I do not deserve to be thy son:
accept me for thy servant; but make me a servant who
will always love thee tenderly and always confide in thy
protection.
SECOND POINT.
Great Folly
Poor sinners ! they labor and toil for the attainment of
worldly sciences, or the art of gaining the goods of
this life, which will soon end, and neglect the goods
of the next life, which is everlasting! They lose their
reason-to such a degree, that they become not only fools,
but senseless beasts; for, living like brute animals, they
attend not to what is lawful or unlawful, but only follow
the beastly instincts of the senses, and embrace what is
pleasing to the flesh, without ever reflecting on what they
lose, or on the eternal ruin which they bring upon
themselves. To live in this manner is, to act not like a man,
but like a senseless beast. St. John Chrysostom says: “We
call him a man who preserves intact the image of man;
but what is this image of man: To be rational.” (In Gen.
hom. 23). To be a man is, to be rational—that is, to act
according to reason, and not according to the sensual
appetite. Were beasts to receive from God the use of
reason, and to act according to its dictates, we should
say that they acted like men; and, on the other hand,
when a man follows the impulse of the senses in opposition
to reason, it must be said he acts like a beast.
O that they would be wise, and would understand, and
would provide for their last end (Eccles. iv, 13). He who
acts according to the rules of prudence, looks to the
future—that is, to what must happen at the end of life—to
death and judgment, and after judgment, hell or heaven.
Oh ! how much wiser is the peasant who saves his soul,
than the monarch who brings himself to hell. Better is a
child who is poor and wise, than a king that is old and
foolish, who knoweth not to foresee hereafter (Eccles. iv,
13). O God ! would not all pronounce the man to be a fool,
who, in order to gain a shilling, would risk his entire
property? And will he not be considered foolish, who, for
a momentary gratification, forfeits the grace of God, and
exposes his soul to the danger of eternal perdition ? The
care of present, and the total neglect of eternal goods
and evils, is the ruin of the immense multitude of the
damned.
God has certainly not placed us in this world to become
rich, or acquire honors, or to indulge our senses, but to
gain eternal life. But the end life ever-fasting (Rom. vi,
22). And nothing but the attainment of this end is of
importance to us. One thing is necessary (Luke, x, 42). But
there is nothing that sinners despise more than this end:
they think only of the present; they each day walk toward
death, and approach the gate of eternity, but know not
whither they are going. “What would you think,” says St.
Augustine, “of a pilot, who, when asked where he is going
should answer, that he did not know? Would not all
exclaim, that he is bringing the ship to ruin? Such,” adds
the Saint, “is the man who runs out of the way.” (In Ps. 31,
enarr. 2). Such are the wise of the world, who know how
to acquire wealth, to indulge in amusements, to gain
posts of honor and emolument, but know not how to save
their souls. The rich glutton knew how to lay up wealth;
but he died, and was buried in hell (Luke, xvi, 22).
Alexander the Great knew how to acquire many
kingdoms; but in a few years he died, and was lost
forever. Henry VIII knew how to preserve his throne by
rebelling against the Church; but seeing at death that he
lost his soul, he exclaimed: We have lost all. How many
miserable sinners now weep and cry out in hell: What
hath pride profited us? or what advantage hath the
boasting of riches brought us ? all those things are passed
away like a shadow (Wis. v, 8). Behold, they exclaim, for
us all the goods of the world have passed away like a
shadow, and nothing remains but eternal wailing and
everlasting torments.
Before man is life and death, that which he shall choose
shall be given him (Ecclus. xv, 18). Beloved Christian, God
places before you in this world, life and death—that is,
the voluntary privation of forbidden pleasures, by which
you will gain eternal life; or the indulgence of them, by
which you merit everlasting death. What do you say ?
What choice do you make ? In making the choice, act like
a man, and not like a senseless beast. Act like a Christian
who believes in the Gospel and says: What doth it profit a
man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his
own soul? Mat.. xvi, 26).
Affections and Prayers.
Oh, my God! Thou hast given me reason, Thou hast
given me the light of faith, and I have acted like a
senseless beast, by losing Thy grace for the
miserable pleasure of the senses, which have passed
away like air; and now I find nothing but remorse of
conscience, and debts to Thy divine justice. Enter not into
judgment with Thy servant (Ps. cxiii, 2). Ah, Lord ! judge
me not according to my merits, but treat me according to
Thy mercy. Give me light, give me sorrow for the offences
that I have committed against Thee, and pardon me. ” I
have gone astray like a sheep that is lost: seek thy
servant.” I am a lost sheep: and unless Thou seek after
me, I shall be lost forever. Have pity on me for the sake of
that blood which Thou hast shed for me. I am sorry, O
Sovereign Good ! for having left Thee, and for having
voluntarily renounced Thy grace. I would wish to die of
sorrow, but give me an increase of sorrow. Bring me to
heaven that there I may sing Thy mercies. Mary, my
Mother! thou art my refuge; pray to Jesus for me : beg of
him to grant me pardon and holy perseverance.
THIRD POINT.
True Wisdom.

Let us be persuaded that the truly wise are they who
know how to acquire the divine grace, and the
kingdom of heaven; and let us incessantly implore
the Lord to give us the science of the saints, which he
gives to all who ask it from him (Wis. x, 10). Oh ! what a
precious science to know how to love God, and to save
our souls !

This science consists in knowing how to walk in
the way of salvation, and to adopt the means of attaining
eternal life. The affair of salvation is of all affairs the most
necessary. If we know all things, and know not how to
save our souls, our knowledge will be unprofitable to us,
and we shall be forever miserable: but on the other hand,
though we should be ignorant of all things, we shall be
happy for eternity, if we know how to love God. ” Blessed
is the man,” says St. Augustine, “who knows Thee though
he be ignorant of other things.” (Conf. 1, 5, c.5). One day,
Brother Giles said to St. Bonaventure: Happy you, Father
Bonaventure, who are so learned. I am a poor, ignorant
man, who knows nothing. You can become more holy than
I can. “Listen, ” replied the Saint: ” If an ignorant old
woman love God more than I do, she shall be more holy
than I am.” On hearing this, Brother Giles began to
exclaim: O poor old woman ! poor old woman ! listen,
listen: if you love God, you can become more holy than
Father Bonaventure.
“The unlearned rise up,” says St. Augustine: “and bear
away the kingdom of heaven.” (Conf. 1, 8, c. 8). How
many rude and illiterate Christians, who, though unable
to read, know how to love God and are saved ! And how
many of the learned of this world are damned! But the
former, not the latter, are truly wise. Oh! how truly wise
were St. Paschal, St. Felix the Capuchin, St. John of God,
though unacquainted with human sciences ! Oh ! how
truly wise were so many holy men, who, abandoning the
world, shut themselves up in the cloister, or spent their
lives in the desert! How truly wise were St. Benedict, St.
Francis of Assisi, and St. Louis of Toulouse, who renounced
the throne !

Oh ! how truly wise were so many martyrs, so
many tender virgins, who refused the hand of princes, and
suffered death for the sake of Jesus Christ! That true
wisdom consists in despising the goods of this life, and in
securing a happy eternity, even worldlings know and
believe : hence of persons who give themselves to God,
they say : Happy they, who are truly wise, and save their
souls ! In fine, they who renounce the goods of the world
to give themselves to God, are said to be undeceived.
What then should we call those who abandon God for
worldly goods? We should call them deluded men.
Brother, to what class do you wish to belong ? In order to
make a good choice, St. Chrysostom tells you to visit the
sepulchres of the dead. The grave is the school in which
we may see the vanity of earthly goods, and in which we
may learn the science of the Saints. “Tell me,” says St.
Chrysostom, “are you able there to discover who has been
a prince, a noble, or a man of learning? For my part,”
adds the Saint, “I see nothing but rottenness, worms, and
bones. All is but a dream, a shadow.” (In Matth. hom. 77).
Everything in this world will soon have an end, and will
vanish like a dream or a shadow. But, dearly beloved
Christians, if you wish to be truly wise, it is not enough to
know your end, it is necessary to adopt the means of
attaining it. All would wish to be saved and to be Saints;
but because they do not employ the means, they never
acquire sanctity, and are lost. It is necessary to fly from
the occasions of sin, to frequent the sacraments, to
practice mental prayer, and above all, to impress on the
heart the following maxims of the Gospel: What doth it
profit a man if he gain the whole world? (Matt. xvi, 26).
He that loveth his life shall lose it (John, xii, 25). That is,
we must even forfeit our life in order to save the soul. If
any man will come after me, let him deny himself (Matt.
xvi, 24). To follow Jesus Christ it is necessary to refuse to
self-love the pleasures which it seeks. Life is His good will
(Ps. xxix, 6). Our salvation consists in doing the will of
God. These, and other similar maxims, should be deeply
impressed on the soul.
Affections and Prayers.
Father of mercies! behold my miseries, and have
pity on me; give me light, make me sensible of my
past folly, that I may bewail it, and make known to
me Thy infinite goodness, that I may love it. My Jesus! do
not deliver up to beasts the souls that confess to Thee (Ps.
lxxiii,10). Thou hast expended Thy blood for my salvation:
do not permit me ever more to be, as I have hitherto
been, the slave of the devils. I am sorry, O my Sovereign
Good! for having abandoned Thee. I curse all the
moments in which I voluntarily consented to sin ; and I
embrace Thy holy will, which desires nothing but my
welfare. Eternal Father! through the merits of Jesus Christ,
give me strength to do all that is pleasing to Thee. Strike
me dead rather than permit me to oppose Thy holy will.
Assist me by Thy grace to banish from my heart every
affection which does not tend to Thee. I love Thee, O God
of my soul! I love Thee above all things: and from Thee I
hope for every good, for pardon, for perseverance in Thy
love, and for paradise, that there I may love Thee for
eternity. O Mary! ask these graces for me. Thy Son
refuses thee nothing. My hope! I trust in thee.

 

Traditional Catholic with a wife, 10 kids, 5 cats and 1 dog (and one stray dog that won’t leave).

Music For The Month Of May – Sacred Songs Of Mary

Since May is the month that is devoted to the  Mother of God, I thought it a great idea to provide another review on an album I have been listening to as of late. The album is entitled Sacred Songs Of Mary and was put out by Valley Entertainment.

This is the same company that provided the lovely album The Assumption (The Monastic Choir of the Abbey Notre Dame de Fontgombault) which I reviewed previously in January.  You can read that review here.

Sacred Songs Of Mary is a compilation of various artist singing traditional “Sacred Songs of Mary”.  It combines both vocal and instrumentals on one album.

I have had this album for a while now and have listened to it repeatedly and I really do enjoy it.  It is a nice break from all the traditional Gregorian chant that I like to listen to.  There are many different styles of music on the album (more than I would care to relate) but overall, I found it is an compilation that I listen to often (I even have the kids listening to it).

One of my favorite songs in the collection is the Medieval version of O Maria, Stella Maris that I found to be exquisite.  I also really enjoyed the Moneverdi Choir as they have a version of Nesciens Mater that is on the album that is very nice.

Overall, I think this is a great addition to my digital collection that I like to listen to while work (or reading for that matter).   I have included the list of tracts below for you to take a look.

1. Trio Mediaeval – O Maria, Stella Maris
2. Elisabeth Andreassen & Jan Werner Danielsen – Ave Maria
3. Jocelyn Montgomery – Viridissima
4. Anne-Lise Berntsen & Nils-Henrik Asheim – Et lidet Barn
Sacred Songs of Mary5. Miah Persson, Yukari Nonishita, Akira Tachikawa, Bach Collegium Japan – Magnificat
6. Anne Sofie von Otter & Musica Antiqua Koln – Cavatina Se D’Un Dio Fui Fatta Madre
7. The King’s Consort – Ave Maris Stella
8. The Rose Consort of Viols – The Cradle
9. Ashana – Ave Maria
10. Huelgas Ensemble – Regina Coeli
11. The Monteverdi Choir – Nesciens Mater
12. UNLV Wind Orchestra – Lux Aurumque
13. Anne-Marie O’Farrell and Aisling Drury Byrne – Ave Maria

You can pick this up for under $9 for the MP3 version and it is very much worth it.  You can check it out on their site here:  Sacred Songs Of Mary.

The same company also produced an album of Russian Orthodox Music for Easter.  I must admit, I haven’t been as big of a fan of Orthodox chant as I have been of the Latin variety and I think that is primarily because I tended to listen to the monastics sing the hours and that tends to be a lot of deep deep basses and I think it lacks variety….However, this album is actually from a full choir and I find it to be very enjoyable.

You can check the Russian Easter chant out here as they have a Spotify app that will allow you to listen to some of it to see if you like it.

 

 

 

Traditional Catholic with a wife, 10 kids, 5 cats and 1 dog (and one stray dog that won’t leave).

New Gregorian Chant Album Review

I have always been amazed at the way that chant can move a soul.  For the past several years, I have made it a habit of listening to chant almost every day. My day job requires me to be at a computer, so there is ample opportunity for me to listen to chant as much as I want.  Typically, my taste in chant is for the old stuff.  I like the ones where you can tell it was made in the 40’s or 50’s as it sounds like it was recorded from vinyl records.

I was asked by Valley-Entertainment to review a chant album they produced from “The Monastic Choir of the Abbey Notre Dame de Fontgombault”.  They recorded an album that is entitled The Assumption and I was given a pre-release copy of it.  This CD covers a full mass including three very good organ pieces.  There are 23 tracks on the album and the voices are exquisite.

I honestly didn’t think I was going to like it simple because it is “new” but they sure proved me wrong.  When I see a mainline “chant” CD it is usually a glossy cover of monks that look like they came out of a GQ magazine and my immediate reactions is uh..nope.

When I saw the cover of this one, I was warming up to it without even hearing anything yet.

I downloaded a digital version and set it up to listen to it while I got some work done.  It was wonderful.  It has quickly become my new favorite chant album.

I have been listening to it for over a month now and its is now one of my favorites that I listen to daily.

The album was released on January 13th, 2017 and you can pick up a copy of this fabulous Gregorian Chant CD here.  I heartily recommend it.

 

 

Traditional Catholic with a wife, 10 kids, 5 cats and 1 dog (and one stray dog that won’t leave).