July 2018-Studying the Faith In This Crisis
“Save me, O Lord, for there is now no saint: truths are decayed from among the children of men. They have spoken vain things every one to his neighbour: with deceitful lips, and with a double heart have they spoken.” (Psalms 11:2-3)
Indeed we are in these times, when charity has grown cold. 1
We Must First Be Spiritual
Now we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God; that we may know the things that are given us from God. Which things also we speak, not in the learned words of human wisdom; but in the doctrine of the Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the sensual man perceiveth not these things that are of the Spirit of God; for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot understand, because it is spiritually examined. But the spiritual man judgeth all things; and he himself is judged of no man. (I Corinthians 2:12-15)
A footnote in the Douay-Rhiems Bible defines the sensual man: “The sensual man is either he who is taken up with sensual pleasures, with carnal and worldly affections; or he who measures divine mysteries by natural reason, sense, and human wisdom only. Now such a man has little or no notion of the things of God. Whereas the spiritual man is he who, in the mysteries of religion, takes not human sense for his guide: but submits his judgment to the decisions of the church, which he is commanded to hear and obey. For Christ hath promised to remain to the end of the world with His church, and to direct her in all things by the Spirit of truth.”
We must ask ourselves seriously, am I sensual? If I am sensual, then I am not spiritual, as these two are mutually exclusive. There are three ways to be sensual.
The first way is to be taken up with sensual pleasures.
Now this can even extend to lawful pleasures, which are sought with too much attention and even devotion. How many live to eat, rather than eat to live?
The second way to be sensual is to be taken up with carnal and worldly affections.
We find this out by consider how much effort we put into obtaining sensual gratifications. Do we long for that T-bone steak we will have this evening so much, that we do not consider spiritual things throughout the day? The spiritual man makes a morning meditation on something spiritual in order to set the tone for the day. We should find that our mind wanders often to something spiritual, such as a verse from Sacred Scripture. If not, then we must suspect that we are still sensual.
The third way to be sensual is to “measure divine mysteries by natural reason, sense, and human wisdom only.”
The spiritual man realizes that reason is the servant not the master of Faith. We believe what God reveals on the authority of God, Who reveals it, who cannot deceive us. Jesus says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) We use reason to apply the truths of the Faith to concrete situations. We start with an Act of Faith from our heart. The words in prayers are helpful in guiding our Act of Faith, but the Act of Faith must come from our heart not merely from our lips. We must live by faith. 2
But the end of all is at hand. Be prudent therefore, and watch in prayers. But before all things have a constant mutual charity among yourselves: for charity covereth a multitude of sins. (I Peter 4:7;8)
Charity is love of God and love of our neighbor for the love of God. As Scripture says, “God is charity.” 3
And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold. Mathew 24:12
We considered this briefly above. We must be on fire with the love of God. There is much in Scripture to encourage and direct us. Saint Paul wrote a summary of charity in the thirteenth chapter of first Corinthians, which we should read and consider in our hearts. Saint Alphonmsus wrote an excellent commentary on this chapter of First Corinthians. Is that a description of how we live?
Let us consider one point from this chapter: “Charity seeks not her own.” We must be selfless, for the sensual man is selfish. We must be seeking the Will of God, not our own will.
My people have been silent, because they had no knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will reject thee, that thou shalt not do the office of priesthood to me: and thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I also will forget thy children. (Osee 4:6)
Another version translates this as: “My people perish for lack of knowledge.” Saint John Vianney says that the majority of Catholics who go to hell, go because they do not know their own religion. How long has it been, since you picked up a catechism book? Do you know the Faith at the level of the Roman Catechism?
“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ,” Saint Jerome. When was the last time you opened your Bible? Have you made notes in your Bible? This may sound like sacrilege, but we should make note of those points, which strike us. If you do not write in your Bible, then at least have a notebook to make notes in, so you can do back and consider these points again.
And then that wicked one shall be revealed whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth; and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming, him, Whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders, And in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send 4 them the operation of error, to believe lying: That all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity. (II Thessalonians 2: 8-11)
The truth may be a hard saying as some found towards the end of the sixth chapter of John's Gospel. 5 We must love truth, even if it is a hard saying or requires some sacrifice on our part. Remember we are to be selfless, not self-seeking. This portion of Sacred Scripture refers to the time of Antichrist, who some fear may be upon us soon. Notice that because people did not love truth, God send them the operation of error to believe lying. If we consider what many in the world today believe, it certainly is erroneous. In fact, we could call the modern belief system the operation of error.
Do Not Be Distracted
The operation of error is a distraction for sensual people, who call themselves Christian. It is easy to become distracted in trying to fight the operation of error, when we should not spend time considering what they believe out there in the world. Did Jesus or the Apostles speak much about the errors of the world? They only did so, when God's People became involved in these errors. No, Jesus taught us how we should live. Our own focus should be in how we should be living, not in trying to refute the operation of error. Even if we come up with an iron clad proof, they will not believe it, because their heart is in the operation of error, because they do not love truth. Basically sensual people are unreasonable, so we cannot reason them into believing the truth.
We have far more important things to do than to waste time trying to overthrow the operation of error. Let us attract people to the truth by the way we live. Let us pray to God, that He may touch their hearts and convert them from their evil ways.
But sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts, being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you. (I Peter 3:15)
Do you know your faith well enough, that you can explain it to someone who sincerely wants to know the truth? Let us not waste time on those who are merely curious or wish to start an argument. Arguments are a waste of time.
Decades ago before the internet a book was written, The Cult of Information. It said that we have a lot of information available, but that it is poorly assembled and poorly presented. It is easy to drown with all of this information. We need to set out priorities. What do we truly need to know? Then we need to limit our self to acquiring the information we truly need, and ignore the rest. Our first priority is to learn the Faith and the Science of the Saints. This is why daily spiritual reading is essential. We need to acquire the information necessary to perform our job and discharge the duties of our state of life.
What is more important, there are many things we do not need to know. In the world, the maxim is “if it bleeds, it leads.” The world looks for sensational stories, whereas we have no time for such things. Many of these stories are utter wastes of time. We do not have time to find about them and to form an opinion.
Remember The Enemy wants to distract us and get us to waste our time on what is unimportant, so that we do not seek what is truly important.
And the Lord answering, said to her: Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:41-42)
We spend very little time at the feet of Jesus and too much time with these distractions. Our priorities are wrong.
This is not a how to guide for researching the truths necessary to sort out the crisis in the Catholic Church, but rather a preparation of our heart to receive the truth and live by what it points out that we must do. Without this essential preparation, we cannot sort things out. We need the help of the Holy Ghost, to Whom we should pray fervently for guidance. Once we are living a truly spiritual life, the rest will become much simpler. The Holy Ghost will educate us and send us the truth in His time and in a way that we can sort it out point at a time.
Let us pray, Pope Michael
Link for Saint Alphonsus Commentary on First Corinthians 13 referred to above. https://amzn.to/2Ncbz55
1 Matthew 24:12: “And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold.”
2 Romans 1:17; “The just man liveth by faith.”
3 I John 4:8
4 "God shall send": That is God shall suffer them to be deceived by lying wonders, and false miracles, in punishment of their not entertaining the love of truth.
5 Go look it up. This is a good exercise to improve our knowledge and understanding.