Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae – The Heresy Of Americanism…..

To Our Beloved Son, James Cardinal Gibbons, Cardinal Priest of the Title Sancta Maria, Beyond the Tiber, Archbishop of Baltimore:

LEO XIII, Pope-Beloved Son, Health and Apostolic Blessing: We send to you by this letter a renewed expression of that good will which we have not failed during the course of our pontificate to manifest frequently to you and to your colleagues in the episcopate and to the whole American people, availing ourselves of every opportunity offered us by the progress of your church or whatever you have done for safeguarding and promoting Catholic interests. Moreover, we have often considered and admired the noble gifts of your nation which enable the American people to be alive to every good work which promotes the good of humanity and the splendor of civilization. Although this letter is not intended, as preceding ones, to repeat the words of praise so often spoken, but rather to call attention to some things to be avoided and corrected; still because it is conceived in that same spirit of apostolic charity which has inspired all our letters, we shall expect that you will take it as another proof of our love; the more so because it is intended to suppress certain contentions which have arisen lately among you to the detriment of the peace of many souls.

It is known to you, beloved son, that the biography of Isaac Thomas Hecker, especially through the action of those who under took to translate or interpret it in a foreign language, has excited not a little controversy, on account of certain opinions brought forward concerning the way of leading Christian life.

We, therefore, on account of our apostolic office, having to guard the integrity of the faith and the security of the faithful, are desirous of writing to you more at length concerning this whole matter.

The underlying principle of these new opinions is that, in order to more easily attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions. Many think that these concessions should be made not only in regard to ways of living, but even in regard to doctrines which belong to the deposit of the faith. They contend that it would be opportune, in order to gain those who differ from us, to omit certain points of her teaching which are of lesser importance, and to tone down the meaning which the Church has always attached to them. It does not need many words, beloved son, to prove the falsity of these ideas if the nature and origin of the doctrine which the Church proposes are recalled to mind. The Vatican Council says concerning this point: “For the doctrine of faith which God has revealed has not been proposed, like a philosophical invention to be perfected by human ingenuity, but has been delivered as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ to be faithfully kept and infallibly declared. Hence that meaning of the sacred dogmas is perpetually to be retained which our Holy Mother, the Church, has once declared, nor is that meaning ever to be departed from under the pretense or pretext of a deeper comprehension of them.” -Constitutio de Fide Catholica, Chapter iv.

We cannot consider as altogether blameless the silence which purposely leads to the omission or neglect of some of the principles of Christian doctrine, for all the principles come from the same Author and Master, “the Only Begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father.”-John i, I8. They are adapted to all times and all nations, as is clearly seen from the words of our Lord to His apostles: “Going, therefore, teach all nations; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all days, even to the end of the world.”-Matt. xxviii, 19. Concerning this point the Vatican Council says: “All those things are to be believed with divine and catholic faith which are contained in the Word of God, written or handed down, and which the Church, either by a solemn judgment or by her ordinary and universal magisterium, proposes for belief as having been divinely revealed.”-Const. de fide, Chapter iii.

Let it be far from anyone’s mind to suppress for any reason any doctrine that has been handed down. Such a policy would tend rather to separate Catholics from the Church than to bring in those who differ. There is nothing closer to our heart than to have those who are separated from the fold of Christ return to it, but in no other way than the way pointed out by Christ.

The rule of life laid down for Catholics is not of such a nature that it cannot accommodate itself to the exigencies of various times and places. (VOL. XXIV-13.) The Church has, guided by her Divine Master, a kind and merciful spirit, for which reason from the very beginning she has been what St. Paul said of himself: “I became all things to all men that I might save all.”

History proves clearly that the Apostolic See, to which has been entrusted the mission not only of teaching but of governing the whole Church, has continued “in one and the same doctrine, one and the same sense, and one and the same judgment,” — Const. de fide, Chapter iv.

But in regard to ways of living she has been accustomed to so yield that, the divine principle of morals being kept intact, she has never neglected to accommodate herself to the character and genius of the nations which she embraces.

Who can doubt that she will act in this same spirit again if the salvation of souls requires it? In this matter the Church must be the judge, not private men who are often deceived by the appearance of right. In this, all who wish to escape the blame of our predecessor, Pius the Sixth, must concur. He condemned as injurious to the Church and the spirit of God who guides her the doctrine contained in proposition lxxviii of the Synod of Pistoia, “that the discipline made and approved by the Church should be submitted to examination, as if the Church could frame a code of laws useless or heavier than human liberty can bear.”

But, beloved son, in this present matter of which we are speaking, there is even a greater danger and a more manifest opposition to Catholic doctrine and discipline in that opinion of the lovers of novelty, according to which they hold such liberty should be allowed in the Church, that her supervision and watchfulness being in some sense lessened, allowance be granted the faithful, each one to follow out more freely the leading of his own mind and the trend of his own proper activity. They are of opinion that such liberty has its counterpart in the newly given civil freedom which is now the right and the foundation of almost every secular state.

In the apostolic letters concerning the constitution of states, addressed by us to the bishops of the whole Church, we discussed this point at length; and there set forth the difference existing between the Church, which is a divine society, and all other social human organizations which depend simply on free will and choice of men.

It is well, then, to particularly direct attention to the opinion which serves as the argument in behalf of this greater liberty sought for and recommended to Catholics.

It is alleged that now the Vatican decree concerning the infallible teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff having been proclaimed that nothing further on that score can give any solicitude, and accordingly, since that has been safeguarded and put beyond question a wider and freer field both for thought and action lies open to each one. But such reasoning is evidently faulty, since, if we are to come to any conclusion from the infallible teaching authority of the Church, it should rather be that no one should wish to depart from it, and moreover that the minds of all being leavened and directed thereby, greater security from private error would be enjoyed by all. And further, those who avail themselves of such a way of reasoning seem to depart seriously from the over-ruling wisdom of the Most High-which wisdom, since it was pleased to set forth by most solemn decision the authority and supreme teaching rights of this Apostolic See-willed that decision precisely in order to safeguard the minds of the Church’s children from the dangers of these present times.

These dangers, viz., the confounding of license with liberty, the passion for discussing and pouring contempt upon any possible subject, the assumed right to hold whatever opinions one pleases upon any subject and to set them forth in print to the world, have so wrapped minds in darkness that there is now a greater need of the Church’s teaching office than ever before, lest people become unmindful both of conscience and of duty.

We, indeed, have no thought of rejecting everything that modern industry and study has produced; so far from it that we welcome to the patrimony of truth and to an ever-widening scope of public well-being whatsoever helps toward the progress of learning and virtue. Yet all this, to be of any solid benefit, nay, to have a real existence and growth, can only be on the condition of recognizing the wisdom and authority of the Church.

Coming now to speak of the conclusions which have been deduced from the above opinions, and for them, we readily believe there was no thought of wrong or guile, yet the things themselves certainly merit some degree of suspicion. First, all external guidance is set aside for those souls who are striving after Christian perfection as being superfluous or indeed, not useful in any sense -the contention being that the Holy Spirit pours richer and more abundant graces than formerly upon the souls of the faithful, so that without human intervention He teaches and guides them by some hidden instinct of His own. Yet it is the sign of no small over-confidence to desire to measure and determine the mode of the Divine communication to mankind, since it wholly depends upon His own good pleasure, and He is a most generous dispenser ‘of his own gifts. “The Spirit breatheth whereso He listeth.” — John iii, 8.

“And to each one of us grace is given according to the measure of the giving of Christ.” — Eph. iv, 7.

And shall any one who recalls the history of the apostles, the faith of the nascent church, the trials and deaths of the martyrs- and, above all, those olden times, so fruitful in saints-dare to measure our age with these, or affirm that they received less of the divine outpouring from the Spirit of Holiness? Not to dwell upon this point, there is no one who calls in question the truth that the Holy Spirit does work by a secret descent into the souls of the just and that He stirs them alike by warnings and impulses, since unless this were the case all outward defense and authority would be unavailing. “For if any persuades himself that he can give assent to saving, that is, to gospel truth when proclaimed, without any illumination of the Holy Spirit, who give’s unto all sweetness both to assent and to hold, such an one is deceived by a heretical spirit.”-From the Second Council of Orange, Canon 7.

Moreover, as experience shows, these monitions and impulses of the Holy Spirit are for the most part felt through the medium of the aid and light of an external teaching authority. To quote St. Augustine. “He (the Holy Spirit) co-operates to the fruit gathered from the good trees, since He externally waters and cultivates them by the outward ministry of men, and yet of Himself bestows the inward increase.”-De Gratia Christi, Chapter xix. This, indeed, belongs to the ordinary law of God’s loving providence that as He has decreed that men for the most part shall be saved by the ministry also of men, so has He wished that those whom He calls to the higher planes of holiness should be led thereto by men; hence St. Chrysostom declares we are taught of God through the instrumentality of men.-Homily I in Inscrib. Altar. Of this a striking example is given us in the very first days of the Church.

For though Saul, intent upon blood and slaughter, had heard the voice of our Lord Himself and had asked, “What dost Thou wish me to do?” yet he was bidden to enter Damascus and search for Ananias. Acts ix: “Enter the city and it shall be there told to thee what thou must do.”

Nor can we leave out of consideration the truth that those who are striving after perfection, since by that fact they walk in no beaten or well-known path, are the most liable to stray, and hence have greater need than others of a teacher and guide. Such guidance has ever obtained in the Church; it has been the universal teaching of those who throughout the ages have been eminent for wisdom and sanctity-and hence to reject it would be to commit one’s self to a belief at once rash and dangerous.

A thorough consideration of this point, in the supposition that no exterior guide is granted such souls, will make us see the difficulty of locating or determining the direction and application of that more abundant influx of the Holy Spirit so greatly extolled by innovators To practice virtue there is absolute need of the assistance of the Holy Spirit, yet we find those who are fond of novelty giving an unwarranted importance to the natural virtues, as though they better responded to the customs and necessities of the times and that having these as his outfit man becomes more ready to act and more strenuous in action. It is not easy to understand how persons possessed of Christian wisdom can either prefer natural to supernatural virtues or attribute to them a greater efficacy and fruitfulness. Can it be that nature conjoined with grace is weaker than when left to herself?

Can it be that those men illustrious for sanctity, whom the Church distinguishes and openly pays homage to, were deficient, came short in the order of nature and its endowments, because they excelled in Christian strength? And although it be allowed at times to wonder at acts worthy of admiration which are the outcome of natural virtue-is there anyone at all endowed simply with an outfit of natural virtue? Is there any one not tried by mental anxiety, and this in no light degree? Yet ever to master such, as also to preserve in its entirety the law of the natural order, requires an assistance from on high These single notable acts to which we have alluded will frequently upon a closer investigation be found to exhibit the appearance rather than the reality of virtue. Grant that it is virtue, unless we would “run in vain” and be unmindful of that eternal bliss which a good God in his mercy has destined for us, of what avail are natural virtues unless seconded by the gift of divine grace? Hence St. Augustine well says: “Wonderful is the strength, and swift the course, but outside the true path.” For as the nature of man, owing to the primal fault, is inclined to evil and dishonor, yet by the help of grace is raised up, is borne along with a new greatness and strength, so, too, virtue, which is not the product of nature alone, but of grace also, is made fruitful unto everlasting life and takes on a more strong and abiding character.

This over esteem of natural virtue finds a method of expression in assuming to divide all virtues in active and passive, and it is alleged that whereas passive virtues found better place in past times, our age is to be characterized by the active. That such a division and distinction cannot be maintained is patent-for there is not, nor can there be, merely passive virtue. “Virtue,” says St. Thomas Aquinas, “designates the perfection of some faculty, but end of such faculty is an act, and an act of virtue is naught else than the good use of free will,” acting, that is to say, under the grace of God if the act be one of supernatural virtue.

He alone could wish that some Christian virtues be adapted to certain times and different ones for other times who is unmindful of the apostle’s words: “That those whom He foreknew, He predestined to be made conformable to the image of His Son.”- Romans viii, 29. Christ is the teacher and the exemplar of all sanctity, and to His standard must all those conform who wish for eternal life. Nor does Christ know any change as the ages pass, “for He is yesterday and to-day and the same forever.”-Hebrews xiii, 8. To the men of all ages was the precept given: “Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart.”-Matt. xi, 29.

To every age has He been made manifest to us as obedient even unto death; in every age the apostle’s dictum has its force: “Those who are Christ’s have crucified their flesh with its vices and concupiscences.” Would to God that more nowadays practiced these virtues in the degree of the saints of past times, who in humility, obedience and self-restraint were powerful “in word and in deed” -to the great advantage not only of religion, but of the state and the public welfare.

From this disregard of the – angelical virtues, erroneously styled passive, the step was a short one to a contempt of the religious life which has in some degree taken hold of minds. That such a value is generally held by the upholders of new views, we infer from certain statements concerning the vows which religious orders take. They say vows are alien to the spirit of our times, in that they limit the bounds of human liberty; that they are more suitable to weak than ›o strong minds; that so far from making for human perfection and the good of human organization, they are hurtful to both; but that this is as false as possible from the practice and the doctrine of the Church is clear, since she has always given the very highest approval to the religious method of life; nor without good cause, for those who under the divine call have freely embraced that state of life did not content themselves with the observance of precepts, but, going forward to the evangelical counsels, showed themselves ready and valiant soldiers of Christ. Shall we judge this to be a characteristic of weak minds, or shall we say that it is useless or hurtful to a more perfect state of life?

Those who so bind themselves by the vows of religion, far from having suffered a loss of liberty, enjoy that fuller and freer kind, that liberty, namely, by which Christ hath made us free. And this further view of theirs, namely, that the religious life is either entirely useless or of little service to the Church, besides being injurious to the religious orders cannot be the opinion of anyone who has read the annals of the Church. Did not your country, the United States, derive the beginnings both of faith and of culture from the children of these religious families? to one of whom but very lately, a thing greatly to your praise, you have decreed that a statue be publicly erected. And even at the present time wherever the religious families are found, how speedy and yet how fruitful a harvest of good works do they not bring forth! How very many leave home and seek strange lands to impart the truth of the gospel and to widen the bounds of civilization; and this they do with the greatest cheerfulness amid manifold dangers! Out of their number not less, indeed, than from the rest of the clergy, the Christian world finds the preachers of God’s word, the directors of conscience, the teachers of youth and the Church itself the examples of all sanctity.

Nor should any difference of praise be made between those who follow the active state of life and those others who, charmed with solitude, give themselves to prayer and bodily mortification. And how much, indeed, of good report these have merited, and do merit, is known surely to all who do not forget that the “continual prayer of the just man” avails to placate and to bring down the blessings of heaven when to such prayers bodily mortification is added.

But if there be those who prefer to form one body without the obligation of the vows let them pursue such a course. It is not new in the Church, nor in any wise censurable. Let them be careful, however, not to set forth such a state above that of religious orders. But rather, since mankind are more disposed at the present time to indulge themselves in pleasures, let those be held in greater esteem “who having left all things have followed Christ.”

Finally, not to delay too long, it is stated that the way and method hitherto in use among Catholics for bringing back those who have fallen away from the Church should be left aside and another one chosen, in which matter it will suffice to note that it is not the part of prudence to neglect that which antiquity in its long experience has approved and which is also taught by apostolic authority. The scriptures teach us that it is the duty of all to be solicitous for the salvation of one’s neighbor, according to the power and position of each. The faithful do this by religiously discharging the duties of their state of life, by the uprightness of their conduct, by their works of Christian charity and by earnest and continuous prayer to God. On the other hand, those who belong to the clergy should do this by an enlightened fulfillment of their preaching ministry, by the pomp and splendor of ceremonies especially by setting forth that sound form of doctrine which Saint Paul inculcated upon Titus and Timothy. But if, among the different ways of preaching the word of God that one sometimes seems to be preferable, which directed to non-Catholics, not in churches, but in some suitable place, in such wise that controversy is not sought, but friendly conference, such a method is certainly without fault. But let those who undertake such ministry be set apart by the authority of the bishops and let them be men whose science and virtue has been previously ascertained. For we think that there are many in your country who are separated from Catholic truth more by ignorance than by ill-will, who might perchance more easily be drawn to the one fold of Christ if this truth be set forth to them in a friendly and familiar way.

From the foregoing it is manifest, beloved son, that we are not able to give approval to those views which, in their collective sense, are called by some “Americanism.” But if by this name are to be understood certain endowments of mind which belong to the American people, just as other characteristics belong to various other nations, and if, moreover, by it is designated your political condition and the laws and customs by which you are governed, there is no reason to take exception to the name. But if this is to be so understood that the doctrines which have been adverted to above are not only indicated, but exalted, there can be no manner of doubt that our venerable brethren, the bishops of America, would be the first to repudiate and condemn it as being most injurious to themselves and to their country. For it would give rise to the suspicion that there are among you some who conceive and would have the Church in America to be different from what it is in the rest of the world.

But the true church is one, as by unity of doctrine, so by unity of government, and she is catholic also. Since God has placed the center and foundation of unity in the chair of Blessed Peter, she is rightly called the Roman Church, for “where Peter is, there is the church.” Wherefore, if anybody wishes to be considered a real Catholic, he ought to be able to say from his heart the selfsame words which Jerome addressed to Pope Damasus: “I, acknowledging no other leader than Christ, am bound in fellowship with Your Holiness; that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that the church was built upon him as its rock, and that whosoever gathereth not with you, scattereth.”

We having thought it fitting, beloved son, in view of your high office, that this letter should be addressed specially to you. It will also be our care to see that copies are sent to the bishops of the United States, testifying again that love by which we embrace your whole country, a country which in past times has done so much for the cause of religion, and which will by the Divine assistance continue to do still greater things. To you, and to all the faithful of America, we grant most lovingly, as a pledge of Divine assistance, our apostolic benediction.

Given at Rome, from St. Peter’s, the 22nd day of January, 1899, and the thirty-first of our pontificate.

Leo XIII

 

To Read More On The Topic Of Americanism, check out this Article by Dr. John Rao.

Passing of Mr. Mario Carota – RIP

It was recently brought to my attention that Fr. Carota’s father (Mario) recently passed away.  I did not know him personally, but I was told he was an amazing person who truly lived his Catholic Faith.

His obituary is as follows:

Mario Chester Carota passed away at his Hollister residence on June 17th, 2017 at the age of 96 years.

Mario was born in Arnold Pennsylvania on May 10, 1921 to John and Anna Carota and raised in Roosevelt, New York.  He studied ceramic engineering at Alfred University in New York where he took up flying.  He joined the Navy during WWII and was a flight instructor and member of a special drone project for that service. He married Estelle Field on December 24, 1942 and raised a family of nineteen children.

He worked as a teacher, an atomic engineer at the University of California Berkeley, then as a consultant in community development. He is best known for his work as a lay missionary in Mexico where he built two schools, a trade center and a hospice house. In his later years he cared for his ailing wife and built over seven hundred stained glass crucifixes which he donated to all. He will be truly missed for his courage and his smile.

Donations are preferred to St. Vincent de Paul c/o the mortuary.

A Mass of the Resurrection will be held on Friday, June 23rd at 10:00 a.m. at St. Benedict Church, 1200 Fairview Road, Hollister. Interment will follow at Calvary Cemetery, 1100 Hillcrest Road with local VFW Post 9242 providing full military honors. A reception will follow at St. Benedict Hall.

Let us pray for the repose of this soul and that he will swiftly be in the presence of God for all eternity. 

DEATH IS CERTAIN AND UNCERTAIN – St. Alphonsus

FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

DEATH IS CERTAIN AND UNCERTAIN.

Let down your nets for a draught.” LUKE v. 4.

IN this day’s gospel we find that, having gone up into one of the ships, and having heard from St. Peter, that he and his companions had laboured all the night and had taken nothing, Jesus Christ said: “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” They obeyed; and having cast out their nets into the sea, they took such a multitude of fishes, that the nets were nearly broken.

Brethren, God has placed us in the midst of the sea of this life, and has commanded us to cast out our nets, that we may catch fishes; that is, that we may perform good works, by which we can acquire merits for eternal life. Happy we, if we attain this end and save our souls! Unhappy we, if, instead of laying up treasures for heaven, we by our sins merit hell, and bring our souls to damnation!

Our happiness or misery for eternity depends on the moment of our death, which is certain and uncertain. The Lord assures us that death is certain, that we may prepare for it; but, on the other hand, he leaves us uncertain as to the time of our death, that we may be always prepared for it two points of the utmost importance. First Point. It is certain that we shall die. Second Point. It is uncertain when we shall die.

First Point:  It is certain that we shall die.

1. ”It is appointed unto men once to die.” (Heb. ix. 27.) The decree has been passed for each of us: we must all die. St. Cyprian says, that we are all born with the halter on the neck: hence, every step we make brings us nearer to the gibbet. For each of us the gibbet shall be the last sickness, which will end in death.

As then, brethren, your name has been inserted in the registry of baptism, so it shall be one day written in the record of the dead. As, in speaking of your ancestors, you say: God be merciful to my father, to my uncle, or to my brother; so others shall say the same of you when you shall be in the other world; and as you have often heard the death-bell toll for many, so others shall hear it toll for you.

2. All things future, which regard men now living, are uncertain, but death is certain. “All other goods and evils,” says St. Augustine, ”are uncertain; death only is certain.” It is uncertain whether such an infant shall be rich or poor, whether he shall enjoy good or ill health, whether he shall die at an early or at an advanced age. But it is certain that he shall die, though he be son of a peer or of a monarch.

And, when the hour arrives, no one can resist the stroke of death. The same St. Augustine says: “Fires, waters, and the sword are resisted; kings are resisted: death comes; who resists it ?” (in Ps. xii.) We may resist conflagrations, inundations, the sword of enemies, and the power of princes; but who can resist death? A certain king of France, as Belluacensis relates, said in his last moments: “Behold, with all my power, I cannot make death wait for a single hour.” No; when the term of life has arrived, death does not wait even a moment”Thou hast appointed his bounds, which cannot be passed.” (Job. xiv. 5.)

3. We must all die. This truth we not only believe, but see with our eyes. In every age houses, streets, and cities are filled with new inhabitants: their former possessors are shut up in the grave. And, as for them the days of life are over, so a time shall come when not one of all who are now alive shall be among the living. “Days shall be formed, and no one in them.” (Ps. cxxxviii. 10.) “Who is the man that shall live, and shall not see death ?” (Ps. lxxxviii. 49 )

Should any one flatter himself that he will not die, he would not only be a disbeliever for it is of faith that we shall all die but he would be regarded as a madman. We know that all men, even potentates and princes and emperors, have, utter a certain time, fallen victims to death. And where are they now?”Tell me,” says St. Bernard, “where are the lovers of the world? Nothing has remained of them but ashes and worms.” Of so many great men of the world, though buried in marble mausoleums, nothing has remained but a little dust and a few withered bones.

We know that our ancestors are no longer among the living: of their death we are constantly reminded by their pictures, their memorandum books, their beds, and by the clothes which they have left us. And can we entertain a hope or a doubt that we shall not die? Of all who lived in this town a hundred years ago how many are now alive? They are all in eternity in an eternal day of delights, or in an eternal night of torments. Either the one or the other shall be our lot also.

4. But, God! we all know that we shall die: the misfortune is, that we imagine death as distant as if it were never to come, and therefore we lose sight of it. But, sooner or later, whether we think or think not of death, it is certain, and of faith that we shall die, and that we are drawing nearer to it every day. ”For we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come.” (Heb. xiii. 14.) This is not our country: here we are pilgrims on a journey. ”While we are in the body we are absent from the Lord.” (2 Cor. v. 6.)

Our country is Paradise, if we know how to acquire it by the grace of God and by our own good works. Our house is not that in which we live; we dwell in it only in passing; our dwelling is in eternity. “Man shall go into the house of his eternity.” (Eccl. xii. 5.) How great would be the folly of the man, who, in passing through a strange country, should lay out all his property in the purchase of houses and possessions in a foreign land, and reduce himself to the necessity of living miserably for the remainder of his days in his own country!

And is not he, too, a fool, who seeks after happiness in this world, from which he must soon depart; and, by his sins, exposes himself to the danger of misery in the next, where he must live for eternity?

5. Tell me, beloved brethren, if, instead of preparing for his approaching death, a person condemned to die were, on his way to the place of execution, to employ the few remaining moments of his life in admiring the beauty of the houses as he passed along, in thinking of balls and comedies, in uttering immodest words, and detracting his neighbours, would you not say that the unhappy man had either lost his reason, or that he was abandoned by God?

And are not you on the way to death? Why then do you seek only the gratification of the senses? Why do you not think of preparing the accounts which you shall one day, and perhaps very soon, have to render at the tribunal of Jesus Christ? Souls that have faith, leave to the fools of this world the care of realizing a fortune on this earth; seek you to make a fortune for the next life, which shall be eternal. The present life must end, and end very soon.

6. Go to the grave in which your relatives and friends are buried. Look at their dead bodies: each of them says to you: “Yesterday for me; Today for thee.” (Eccl. xxxviii. 23.) What has happened to me must one day happen to thee. Thou shalt .become dust and ashes, as I am. And where shall thy soul be found, if, before death, thou hast not settled thy accounts with God? Ah, brethren! if you wish to live well, and to to have you accounts ready for that great day, on which your doom to eternal life or to eternal death must be decided, endeavour, during the remaining days of life, to live with death before your eyes. ”death, thy sentence is welcome.” (Eccl. xli. 3.)

Oh! how correct are the judgments, how well directed the actions, of those who form their judgments, and perform their actions, with death before their view! The remembrance of death destroys all attachment to the goods of this earth. ”Let the end of life be considered, ” says St. Lawrence Justinian, ”and there will be nothing in this world to be loved.” (de Ligno Vitæ, cap. v.) Yes; all the riches, honours, and pleasures of this world are easily despised by him who considers that he must soon leave them forever, and that he shall be thrown into the grave to be the food of worms.

7. Some banish the thought of death, as if, by avoiding to think of death, they could escape it. But death cannot be avoided; and they who banish the thought of it, expose themselves to great danger of an unhappy death. By keeping death before their eyes, the saints have despised all the goods of this earth. Hence St. Charles Borromeo kept on his table a death’s head, that he might have it continually in view. Cardinal Baronius had the words, “Memento mori”Remember death” inscribed on his ring.

The venerable P. Juvenal Anzia, Bishop of Saluzo, had before him a skull, on which was written, “As I am, so thou shalt be.” In retiring to deserts and caves the holy solitaries brought with them the head of a dead man; and for what purpose? To prepare themselves for death. Thus a certain hermit being asked at death, why he was so cheerful, answered: I have kept death always before my eyes; and therefore, now that it has arrived, I feel no terror. But, oh! how full of terror is death, when it comes to those who have thought of it but seldom.

Second Point: It is uncertain when we shall die.

8. ”Nothing,” says the Idiota, ”is more certain than death, but nothing is more uncertain than the hour of death.” It is certain that we shall die. God has already determined the year, the month, the day, the hour, the moment, in which each of us shall leave this earth, and enter into eternity; but this moment he has resolved not to make known to us.

And justly, says St. Augustine, has the Lord concealed it; for, had he manifested to all the day fixed for their death, many should be induced to continue in the habit of sin by the certainty of not dying before the appointed day. ”Si statuisset viam omnibus, faceret abundare peccata de securitate”(in Ps. cxliv). Hence the holy doctor teaches that God has concealed from us the day of our death, that we may spend all our days well. ”Latet ultimus dies, ut observentur omnes dies. ” (Hom. xii. inter 50.)

Hence Jesus Christ says: “Be you also ready; for at what hour you think not the Son of Man will come.” (Luke xii. 40.) That we may be always prepared to die, he wishes us to be persuaded that death will come when we least expect it. ”Of death,” says St. Gregory, ”we are uncertain, that we may be found always prepared for death.” St. Paul likewise admonishes us that the day of the Lord that is, the day on which the Lord shall judge us shall come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night, ”The day of the Lord shall so come as a thief in the night.” (1 Thess. v. 2.)

Since, then, says St. Bernard, death may assail you and take away your life in every place and at every time, you should, if you wish to die well and to save your soul, be at all times and places in expectation of death: ”Mors ubique te expectat tu ubique earn expectabis :” and St. Augustine says: ”Latet ultimus dies, ut observentur omnes dies. ”(Hom, xii.) The Lord conceals from us the last day of our life, that we may always have ready the account which we must render to God after death.

9. Many Christians are lost, because many, even among the old, who feel the approach of death, flatter themselves that it is at a distance, and that it will not come without giving them time to prepare for it. ”Dura mente,” says St. Gregory, ”abesse longe mors creditur etiam cum sentitur.” (Moral, lib. 8.) Death, even when it is felt, is believed to be far off. O brethren, are these your sentiments? How do you know that your death is near or distant? What reason have you to suppose that death will give you time to prepare for it? How many do we know who have died suddenly? Some have died walking; some sitting; and some during sleep. Did any one of these ever imagine that he should die in such a manner?

But they have died in this way; and if they were in enmity with God, what has been the lot of their unhappy souls? Miserable the man who meets with an unprovided death! And I assert, that all who ordinarily neglect to unburthen their conscience, die without preparation, even though they should have seven or eight days to prepare for a good death; for as I shall show in the fortyfourth sermon, it is very difficult, during these days of confusion and terror, to settle accounts with God, and to return to him with sincerity.

But I repeat that death may come upon you in such a manner, that you shall not have time even to receive the sacraments. And who knows whether, in another hour, you shall be among the living or the dead? The uncertainty of the time of his death made Job tremble. “For I knew not how long I shall continue, or whether, after a while, my Maker may take me away.” (Job xxxii. 22.) Hence St. Basil exhorts us in going to bed at night, not to trust that we shall see the next day. ”Cum in lectulum ad quicscendum membra tua posueris, noli confidere de lucis adventu.” (Inst. ad fil. spirit.)

10. Whenever, then, the devil tempts you to sin, by holding out the hope that you will go to confession and repair the evil you have done, say to him in answer: How do I know that this shall not be the last day of my life? And should death overtake me in sin, and not give me time to make my confession, what shall become of me for all eternity?

Alas! how many poor sinners have been struck dead in the very act of indulging in some sinful pleasure, and have been sent to hell! “As fishes are taken by the hook, and as birds are caught with the snare, so men are taken in the evil time.” (Eccl. ix. 12.) Fishes are taken with the hook while they eat the bait that conceals the hook, which is the instrument of their death. The evil time is precisely that in which sinners are actually offending God.

In the act of sin, they calm their conscience by a security of afterwards making a good confession, and reversing the sentence of their damnation. But death comes suddenly upon them, and does not leave them time for repentance. “For, when they shall say peace and security, then shall sudden destruction come upon them.” (1 Thess. v. 3.)

11. If a person lend a sum of money he is careful instantly to get a written acknowledgment, and to take all the other means necessary to secure the repayment of it. Who, he says, can know what shall happen? Death may come, and I may lose my money. And how does it happen that there are so many who neglect to use the same caution for the salvation of their souls, which is of far greater importance than all temporal interests? “Why do they not also say: Who knows what may happen? death may come, and I may lose my soul?

If you lose a sum of money, all is not lost; if you lose it one way you may recover the loss in another; but he that dies and loses his soul, loses all, and has no hope of ever recovering it. If we could die twice, we might, if we lost our soul the first time, save it the second. But we cannot die twice. ”It is appointed unto men once to die,” (Heb. ix. 27) Mark the word once: death happens to each of us but once: he who has erred the first time has erred for ever. Hence, to bring the soul to hell is an irreparable error. ”Periisse semel æternum est.”

12. The venerable Father John Avila was a man of great sanctity, and apostle of Spain. What was the answer of this great servant of God, who had led a holy life from his childhood, when he was told that his death was at hand, and that he had but a short time to live?”Oh!” replied the holy man with trembling, ”that I had a little more time to prepare for death!”St. Agatho, abbot, after spending so many years in penance, trembled at the hour of death, and said: ”What shall become of me? who can know the judgments of God ?”

And, O brethren, what will you say when the approach of death shall be announced to you, and when, from the priest who attends you, you shall hear these words: ”Go forth, Christian soul, from this world ?” You will, perhaps, say: Wait a little; allow me to prepare better. No; depart immediately; death does not wait. You should therefore prepare yourselves now. ”With fear and trembling work out your salvation.” (Phil. ii. 12.) St. Paul admonishes us that, if we wish to save our souls, we must live in fear and trembling, lest death may find us in sin. Be attentive, brethren: there is question of eternity. ”If a tree fall to the south or to the north, in what place soever it shall fall there shall it be.” (Eccl. xi. 3.)

If, when the tree of your life is cut down, you fall to the south that is, if you obtain eternal life how great shall be your joy at  being able to say: I shall be saved; I have secured all; I can never lose God; I shall be happy for ever. But, if you fall to the north that is, into eternal damnation how great shall be your despair! Alas! you shall say, I have erred, and my error is irremediable! Arise, then, from your tepidity, and, after this sermon, make a resolution to give yourselves sincerely to God. This resolution will insure you a good death, and will make you happy for eternity.

ON THE MERCY OF GOD TOWARDS SINNERS – St. Alphonsus

THIRD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

” There shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than ninety -nine just, who need not penance.” LUKE xv. 7

In this day’s gospel it is related that the Pharisees murmured against Jesus Christ, because he received sinners and eat with them. ”This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them” (v. 2). In answer to their murmurings our Lord said: If any of you had a hundred sheep, and lost one of them, would he not leave the ninety-nine in the desert, and go in search of the lost sheep? would he not continue his search until he found it? and having found it, would he not carry it on his shoulders, and, rejoicing, say to his friends and neighbours: ”Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost ?” (v. 6.)

In conclusion, the Son of God said: ”I say to you, there shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than, upon ninety-nine just, that need not penance.” There is more joy in heaven upon one sinner who  returns to God, than upon many just who preserve the grace of God. Let us, then, speak Today on the mercy which God shows to sinners, first, in calling them to repentance; secondly, in receiving them when they return.

First Point

Mercy of God in calling sinners to repentance.

1. After having sinned hy eating the forbidden apple, Adam fled from the face of the Lord through shame of the sin he had committed. What must have been the astonishment of the angels when they saw God seeking after him, and calling him as it were with tears, saying: ”Adam, where art thou ?” (Gen. iii. 9.) My beloved Adam, where art thou? These words, says Father Pereyra, in his commentary on this passage, ”are the words of a father in search of his lost son.”

Towards you, brethren, the Lord acts in a similar manner. You fled from him and he has so often invited you to repentance by means of confessors and preachers. Who was it that spoke to you when they exhorted you to penance? It was the Lord. Preachers are, as St. Paul says, his ambassadors. ”For Christ, therefore, we are ambassadors; God, as it were, exhorting by us.” (2 Cor. v. 20.) Hence he writes to the sinners of Corinth: ”For Christ, we beseech you, be reconciled to God.” (Ibid.) In explaining these words St. Chrysostom says: ”Ipse Chris tus vos obsecrat: quid autem obsecrat? Reconciliamini Deo.”

Then, says the holy doctor, Jesus Christ himself entreats you, sinners: and what does he entreat you to do? To make peace with God. The saint adds: ”Non enim ipse inimicus gerit, sed vos.” It is not God that acts like an enemy, but you; that is, God does not refuse to make peace with sinners, but they are unwilling to be reconciled with him.”

2. But notwithstanding the refusal of sinners to return to God, he does not cease to continue to call them by so many interior inspirations, remorses of conscience, and terrors of chastisements. Thus, beloved Christians, God has spoken to you, and, seeing that you disregarded his words, he has had recourse to scourges; he has called you to repentance by such a persecution, by temporal losses, by the death of a relative, by sickness which has brought you to the brink of the grave.

He has, according to holy David, placed before your eyes the bow of your damnation, not that you might be condemned to eternal misery, but that you might be delivered from hell, which you deserved. “Thou hast given a warning to them that fear thee, that they may flee from before the bow, that thy beloved may be delivered.” (Ps. lix. 6).

You regarded certain afflictions as misfortunes; but they were mercies from God; they were the voices of God calling on you to renounce sin, that you might escape perdition. ”My jaws are become hoarse.” (Ps. lxviii. 4.) My son, says the Lord, I have almost lost my voice in calling you to repentance. ”I am weary of entreating thee.” ( Jer. xv. (5.) I have become weary in imploring you to offend me no more.

3. By your ingratitude you deserved that he should call you no more; but he has continued to invite you to return to him. And who is it that has called you? It is a God of infinite majesty, who is to be one day your judge, and on whom your eternal happiness or misery depends. And what are you but miserable worms deserving hell? Why has he called you? To restore to you the life of grace which you have lost. “Return ye and live.” (Ezec. xviii. 32.) To acquire the grace of God, it would be but little to spend a hundred years in a desert in fasting and penitential austerities.

But God offered it to you for a single act of sorrow; you refused that act, and after your refusal he has not abandoned you, but has sought after you, saying: “And why will you die, house of Israel?” (Ez. xviii. 31.) Like a father weeping and following his Page 135 of 233 son, who has voluntarily thrown himself into the sea, God has sought after you, saying, through compassion to each of you: My son, why dost thou bring thyself to eternal misery?”Why will you die, house of Israel ?”

4. As a pigeon that seeks to take shelter in a tower, seeing the entrance closed on every side, continues to fly round till she finds an opening through which she enters, so, says St. Augustine, did the divine mercy act towards me when I was in enmity with God. Circuibat super me fidelis a longe misericordia tua.” The Lord treated you, brethren, in a similar manner. As often as you sinned you banished him from your souls.

The wicked have said to God: “Depart from us.” (Job xxi. 14.) And, instead of abandoning you, what has the Lord done? He has placed himself at the door of your ungrateful hearts, and, by his knocking, has made you feel that he was outside, and seeking for admission. ”Behold I stand at the gate and knock.” (Apoc. iii. 20.) He, as it were, entreated you to have compassion on him, and to allow him to enter. “Open to me, my sister.” (Cant. v. 2.)

Open to me; I will deliver you from perdition; I will forget all the insults you have offered to me if you give up sin. Perhaps you are unwilling to open to me through fear of becoming poor by restoring ill-gotten goods, or by separating from a person who provided for you? Am not I, says the Lord, able to provide for you? Perhaps you think that, if you renounce a certain friendship which separates you from me, you shall lead a life of misery?

Am I not able to content your soul and to make your life happy? Ask those who love me with their whole hearts, and they will tell you that my grace makes them content, and that they would not exchange their condition, though poor and humble, for all the delights and riches of the monarchs of the earth.

Second Point

Mercy of God in waiting for sinners to return to him

5. We have considered the divine mercy in calling sinners to repentance: let us now consider his patience in waiting for their return. That great servant of God, D. Sancia Carillo, a penitent of Father John D’Avila, used to say, that the consideration of God‟s patience with sinners made her desire to build a church, and entitle it”The Patience of God.”

Ah, sinners! who could ever bear with what God has borne from you? If the offences which you have committed against God had been offered to your best friends, or even to your parents, they surely would have sought revenge. When you insulted the Lord he was able to chastise you; you repeated the insult, and he did not punish your guilt, but preserved your life, and provided you with sustenance. lie, as it were, pretended not to see the injuries you offered to him, that you might enter into yourselves, and cease to offend him. “Thou overlookest the sins of men for the sake of repentance.” (Wis. xi. 24.)

But how, Lord, does it happen, that thou canst not behold a single sin, and that thou dost bear in silence with so many? “Thy eyes are too pure to behold evil, and thou canst not look on iniquity. Why lookest thou upon them that do unjust things, and boldest thy peace ?” (Hab. i. 13.)

Thou seest the vindictive prefer their own before thy honour; thou beholdest the unjust, instead of restoring what they have stolen, continuing to commit theft; the unchaste, instead of being ashamed of their impurities, boasting of them before others; the scandalous, not content with the sins which they themselves commit, but seeking to draw others into rebellion against thee; thou seest all this, and holdest thy peace, and dost not inflict vengeance.

6. “Omnis creatura,” says St. Thomas, “tibi factor! deserviens excandescit adversus injustos.” All creatures the earth, fire, air, water because they all obey God, would, by a natural instinct, wish to punish the sinner, and to avenge the injuries which he does to the Creator; but God, through his mercy, restrains them.

But, Lord, thou waitest for the wicked that they may enter into themselves; and dost thou not see that they abuse thy mercy to offer new insults to thy majesty? “Thou hast been favourable to the nation, O Lord, thou hast been favourable to the nation: art thou glorified ?” (Isa. xxvi. 15.) Thou hast waited so long for sinners; thou hast abstained from inflicting punishment; but what glory have you reaped from thy forbearance? They have become more wicked. Why so much patience with such ungrateful souls? Why dost thou continue to wait for their repentance? Why dost thou not chastise their wickedness?

The same Prophet answers: “The Lord waiteth that he may have mercy on you.” (Isa. xxx. 18.) God waits for sinners that they may one day repent, and that after their repentance, he may pardon and save them. “As I live, saith the Lord, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” (Ezech. xxxiii. 11.)

St. Augustine goes so far as to say that the Lord, if he were not God, should he unjust on account of his excessive patience towards sinners. ”Deus, Deus incus, pace tua dicam, nisi quia Deus esses, injustus esses.” By waiting for those who abuse his patience to multiply their sins, God appears to do an injustice to the divine honour.

”We,” continues the saint, “sin; we adhere to sin (some of us become familiar and intimate with sin, and sleep for months and years in this miserable state); we rejoice at sin (some of us go so far as to boast of our wickedness); and thou art appeased! “We provoke thce to anger thou dost invite us to mercy.” We and God appear to be, as it were, engaged in a contest, in which we labour to provoke him to chastise our guilt, and he invites us to pardon.

7. Lord, exclaimed holy Job, what is man, that thou dost entertain so great an esteem for him? Why dost thou love him so tenderly?”What is man that thou shouldst magnify him? or why dost thou set thy heart upon him ?” (Job. vii. ] 7.)

St. Denis the Areopagite says, that God seeks after sinners like a despised lover, entreating them not to destroy themselves. ”Deus etiam a se aversos amatorie sequitur, et deprecatur ne pereant.” Why, ungrateful souls, do you fly from me? I love you and desire nothing but your welfare.

Ah, sinners! says St. Teresa, remember that he who now calls and seeks after you, is that God who shall one day be your judge. If you are lost, the great mercies which he now shows you, shall be the greatest torments which, you shall suffer in hell.

Third Point.

Mercy of God in receiving penitent sinners

8. Should a subject who has rebelled against an earthly monarch go into the presence of his sovereign to ask pardon, the prince instantly banishes the rebel from his sight, and does not condescend even to look at him. But God does not treat us in this manner, when we go with humility before him to implore mercy and forgiveness.

“The Lord your God is merciful, and will not turn away his face from you if you return to him.” (2 Par. xxx. 9.) God cannot turn away his face from those who cast themselves at his feet with an humble and contrite heart. Jesus himself has protested that he will not reject any one who returns to him.

“And him that cometh to me, I will not cast out.” (John vi. 37.) But how can he reject those whom he himself invites to return, and promises to embrace?”Return to me, saith the Lord, and I will receive thee.” (Jer. iii. 1.) In another place he says: Sinners, I ought to turn my back on you, because you first turned your back on me; but be converted to me, and I will be converted to you. “Turn to me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn to you, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Zach. i. 3.)

9. Oh! with what tenderness does God embrace a sinner that returns to him! This tenderness Jesus Christ wished to declare to us when he said that he is the good pastor, who, as soon as he finds the lost sheep, embraces it and places it on his own shoulders. ”And when he hath found it, doth he not lay it upon his shoulders rejoicing?” (Luke xv. 5.)

This tenderness also appears in the parable of the prodigal son, in which Jesus Christ tells us that he is the good father, who, when his lost son returns, goes to meet him, embraces and kisses him, and, as it were, swoons away through joy in receiving him. ”And running to him, he fell upon his neck and kissed him.” (Luke xv. 20.)

10. God protests that when sinners repent of their iniquities, he will forget all their sins, as if they had never offended him. “But, if the wicked do penance for all the sins which he hath committed. .. .living, he shall live, and shall not die. I will not remember all his iniquities that he hath done.” (Ezech. xviii. 21,22.) By the Prophet Isaias, the Lord goes so far as to say: “Come and accuse me, saith the Lord. If your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made white as snow.” (Isa. i. 18.)

Mark the words, Come and accuse me. As if the Lord said: Sinners, come to me, and if I do not pardon and embrace you, reprove me, upbraid me with violating my promise. But no! God cannot despise an humble and contrite heart. “A contrite and humble heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Ps. l. 19.)

11. To show mercy and grant pardon to sinners, God regards as redounding to his own glory. “And therefore shall he be exalted sparing you.” (Isa. xxx. 18.) The holy Church says, that God displays his omnipotence in granting pardon and mercy to sinners. ”O God, who manifested thy omnipotence in sparing and showing mercy.”

Do not imagine, dearly beloved sinners, that God requires of you to labour for a long time before he grants you pardon: as soon as you wish for forgiveness, he is ready to give it. Behold what the Scripture says: ”Weeping, thou shalt not weep, he will surely have pity on thee.” (Isa. xxx. 19.)

You shall not have to weep for a long time: as soon as you shall have shed the tirst tear through sorrow for your sins, God will have mercy on you. ”At the voice of thy cry, as soon as he shall hear, he will answer thee.” (Ibid.) The moment he shall hear you say: Forgive me, my God, forgive me, he will instantly answer and grant your pardon.

Catholic Education

I happened on this article the other day that discusses the great importance of having a Catholic worldview and that is only obtained through having an authentic Catholic education.  Now, in the current state of the world, you can not, on the whole, find this in “catholic” schools, but you can study for yourself and with the aid of Our Lady, the Holy Ghost, and St. Thomas Aquinas, you can learn a good bit through reading, prayer and meditation.

This Article was written by Mitchell Kalpakgian, PHD, and you can read it on the Truth and Charity Forum here or you can read it below.


Rooted in the classical world of Greek thought and Thomistic philosophy, Catholic education is not shaped by trends, fashions, and fads but founded on a great tradition that has passed the test of time. It teaches all subjects in their integrity, according to their first principles, the logos that conforms to the structure of reality and the nature of things–whether it is the grammar that governs language, the reasoning that underlies arithmetic and geometry, or the revealed truths that form the basis of theology. Catholic education is founded on universal truths derived from all spheres of knowledge, that is, the unchangeable laws, the eternal truths, and the perennial wisdom that form the food of the mind and the life of the soul. Catholic education does not dilute, oversimplify, or “dumb down” subject matter to accommodate students but teaches them how to rise to the level of demand required by a particular discipline such as grammar, theology, Latin, or chemistry.

Like its moral teaching that inspires moral excellence and an imitation of Christ, Catholic education holds high ideals for its students and instills a love of learning because of man’s innate desire for knowledge —a love of truth that climaxes in a sense of wonder at God’s created and supernatural order and His revealed truths. This authentic education does not lower its standards or commit grade inflation. Recalling the words of St. Thomas Aquinas that “All truth, whoever said it, comes from the Holy Spirit,” it cultivates in the mind openness and love of truth to “all that is,” that is, the truths that come from all bodies of learning, both the arts and the sciences. All these fields of knowledge illuminate some attribute of God’s nature as goodness, love wisdom, justice, beauty, mercy, or power.

Catholic education has its heritage in the liberal arts that pass on the wisdom of the past and the venerable traditions of Western civilization known as The Perennial Philosophy—what is universally true for all people, in all times, in all places (“the best that has been thought and said” in Matthew Arnold’s famous phrase). Thus it rejects the doctrines of moral relativism, political correctness, indoctrination, and ideology by educating the mind to detect lies, propaganda, and heresies in all their various disguises. It embraces what Edmund Burke in Reflections on the Revolution in France refers to as the accumulated knowledge of the human experience that transcends one person’s “private stock of reason” and encompasses “the general bank and capital of nations, and of ages.”

Catholic education recognizes that just as there is a health of the body and a perfection of the soul, there is also an excellence of the intellect, both the knowledge of the head and the knowledge of the heart—the ability to read, write, speak, and listen; the skill to observe, calculate, and think logically; and the sensitivity to respond to the wonder of beauty and appreciate the virtues of the heart: kindness, charity, mercy, gratitude, loyalty, and hospitality. This education does not ignore man’s social or emotional nature, and therefore it cultivates manners, courtesy, tact, and propriety in speech, behavior, and clothing, recognizing that the beautiful or gracious is the attractive aspect of the good. In the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Glory be to God for dappled things–/For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;/For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; Fresh-firecoal chestnut falls; finches’ wings.” Catholic education, then, integrates and sees the unity between all bodies of knowledge ordered to to a greater understanding of God’s truth, goodness, and beauty as objects of the mind to know and contemplate with wonder, love, and gratitude and then to incorporate in one’s own life.

Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman best describes this ideal of Catholic and liberal education in these words from The Idea of a University that define the nature of intellectual excellence at its highest: “the clear, calm, accurate vision and comprehension of all things”:

It is almost prophetic from its knowledge of history; it is almost heart-searching from its knowledge of human nature; it has almost supernatural charity from its freedom from littleness and prejudice; it has almost the repose of faith, because nothing can startle it; it has almost the beauty and harmony of heavenly contemplation, so intimate is it with the eternal order of things and the music of the spheres.

It is common to hear students dismiss certain fields of knowledge as useless to their profession and career. Why should a student majoring in information technology, accounting, music, or biology study philosophy, literature, or Latin? Surely they will not need this knowledge in their specialized, technical fields of study. The courses designated as “liberal arts” have no practical, utilitarian value for many professions that require skills acquired only in that particular discipline. Business majors need to study accounting, economics, and statistics to become expert in their field, and pre-medical students benefit more from the study of the sciences than the humanities.

Newman, however, addressed this very question during the Victorian Age when trade schools and technical training established respectability as models of education essential for the Industrial Age centered upon the importance of manufacturing and the progress of science. Thus Newman’s age made the common distinction between “the good” and “the useful,” separating the two ideas as exclusive. While the useful was good, the good was not useful or “utilitarian” as it was defined in that period. For something to be classified as “good” or beneficial, it needed to have immediate results and produce tangible benefits. As Sir Francis Bacon argued, knowledge is power. An education that led to a job was useful; work that resulted in good income was useful; the income that improved a person’s standard of living was useful. The useful, then, was measured in quantitative ways and seen in materialistic advantages.

A bone fide classical or Catholic education, however, is not utilitarian, a form of training in a marketable skill motivated by economic considerations for the sole purpose of earning a livelihood. It is a love of learning for its own sake, a desire for truth as an end in itself and as a great good that suffuses all areas of life. Classical education views the study of the liberal arts as a pursuit that resembles the habit of worship, the cultivation of friendship, the appreciation of beauty, the enjoyment of play, and a love of learning as activities that are intrinsically good in and of themselves. They lift the heart, animate the spirit, and inspire a love of life and of the goodness of creation. As Newman explains, the good, while not utilitarian, is always useful. The good is “not useful in any low, mechanical, mercantile sense, but as diffusing good, or as a blessing, or a gift, or power, or a treasure, first to the owner, then through him to the world.”

Good is not only good, but reproductive of good; this is one of its attributes; nothing is excellent, beautiful, perfect, desirable for its own sake, but it overflows, and spreads the likeness of all around it. Good is prolific . . . . A great good will impart a great good.

In short, if there is no limit to all the good a blessing, a gift, power, an act of love, or a precious treasure can add to the world or to the life of one person and if there is no limit to the overflow of goodness that communicates and diffuses itself everywhere and touches many lives, a Catholic education is the most useful of educations because of all the practical, real good that abounds for all who receive this goodness and transmit it in a generous, charitable sharing way for all to know, love, and perpetuate.