The Pope Speaks: November 2017
We Do Not Need A Distraction
There is many good 'fights' that can distract us today, but in some cases, these good fights are doing nothing to save our own souls. For example some of us are spending hours fighting abortion and forgetting to set time aside for just "sitting at the feet of Jesus". They got too busy serving!
Look at the story of Martha and Mary:
“But Martha was busy about much serving. Who stood and said: Lord, hast thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? speak to her therefore, that she help me. 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 10:40-2)
Many of us have been undertaking a fight against the Supreme Court who is declaring homosexual unions as marriages and yet in our own homes..our own marriages we are allowing things to be there that threatens our relationship with our mates and our children. We got so busy in the "war" we overlooked the skirmishes right in our own homes.
Still others waste time on trying to figure out what the Third Secret of Fatima contains. But take no time to find the hidden treasures in scriptures and spiritual books that save the soul.
"My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and wilt hide my commandments with thee, That thy ear may hearken to wisdom: Incline thy heart to know prudence: For if thou shalt call for wisdom, and incline thy heart to prudence: If thou shalt seek her as money, and shalt dig for her as for a treasure: Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and shalt find the knowledge of God. Because the Lord giveth wisdom: and out of his mouth cometh prudence and knowledge." (Proverbs 2:1-6)
We are not choosing the best part, the one thing that is necessary. What we ARE doing is we are allowing ourselves to be distracted by others things that although are important, have pulled us away from taking care of our own spiritual life. We have many excuses why we think we need to delve into these matters. Some say they need to be informed, (and they should be). Others say these matters are life and death matters, (and some are), but some of us have lost our focus on something that is more important, that is the matter of if our soul is going to heaven or hell.
Jesus said: “And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) Saint John Vianney says: “We shall find out at the day of judgment that the greater number of Christians who are lost were damned because they did not know their own religion.” In reading various posts and a very few articles (I find I do not have time to waste on these things) one sees that people do not know their own religion. If they knew the Catholic Faith better, they would not make some of the statements they do.
Jesus tells this story:
"Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity." (Matthew 7:21-23)
Someone may say "Lord, Lord, we prayed the rosary in front of an abortion clinic, we spoke out against same sex marriages, we were "prophesying in Christ" name doing "many miracles" etc. These are good things, and you may feel comfortable that because you are doing those things, you are making your way toward heaven. But Jesus said, "I never knew you: depart from me." Why? What did they do wrong? We find the answer in the last part of His statement...."Ye that work iniquity". They were so busy doing all these other things that they did not spend time saving there own soul. They were, like Martha, so busy in the kitchen that they did not take the time to do the "necessary thing", the "best thing", and that is sitting at the feet of Jesus and allowing Him to, as King David says, "search our heart O God, and know my heart: examine me, and know my paths and thoughts. And see if there be in me the way of iniquity" (Psalms 139:4)
We need to examine our self and reorder our priorities in the manner God would have us order them. And our very first priority is to become a saint. And this is our first problem.
There are two classes of people in the world, saints and sinners. Some act as if there are three classes of people, saints, venial sinners and mortal sinners. Saint John Vianney says: “It consists of three classes: the first is composed of those who are entirely for the world; the second are those who are entirely for God; and the last consists of those people who would like to belong to the world without ceasing to belong to God.” He then concludes: “No, my friend; you either belong wholly to God or wholly to the world.”
“He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.” (Matthew 12:30; Luke 11:23) There is no middle ground for mediocrity. What leads to this false idea is the thought there is five last things: death, judgment, purgatory, heaven and hell. Everyone adds purgatory in practice to the four things and aims to sneak in the back door. They work at being just holy enough to not be in the state of mortal sin at death and nothing more. There are actually only four last things. They are death, judgment, heaven and hell. The road to heaven goes through purgatory. We should purge ourselves of all that is not of God here in earth rather than leaving it for the next life.
Saint Alphonsus says: “To be pleasing and acceptable in the sight of God, it is not enough merely to believe all that our holy faith teaches us; we must, moreover, regulate our life in accordance with our belief.” The principles of the spiritual life are actually quite simple, such as this one here. When we study the Commandments of God and the Church we learn how to live. Jesus said: “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
Thy Will Be Done
With four simple words from the Lord's Prayer, we have a summary of the Christian way of life. As Christians, our life must be lived in total conformity with the will of God. Without this conformity to the will of God, we are lost. We can say Rosaries morning, noon and night, but will not be saved. We can assist at daily Mass and receive Holy Communion daily, but we cannot be saved without conformity to the will of God. We can fast twice in the week, like the Pharisee. (Luke 18:10-14) We can do all of these external acts of religion, but if our heart is not right with God, then these are worthless for our salvation.
“And I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezechiel 36:26) My friends, these distractions have hardened our heart, especially when our reaction to them is false. It is time to check into God's hospital for this heart surgery.
First of all notice, that this is the work of God, which we cooperate with. He will not drag us into surgery, we must come and check in and sign the consent forms for this surgery. And this is actually very simple. We simply say along with Saul, who became Saint Paul: “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6)
There are two things we need to do, as we were reminded by the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, prayer and penance. Unfortunately, Fatima has become another distraction with speculation about the Third Secret. If there is anything we truly need to know in that secret, God will have it provided to us in a clear and certain manner. Until then, let us not be distracted by these side issues, they only harden our hearts. Another distraction is the Secret of La Salette, which the Church has placed on the Index of Forbidden Books. Pope Pius IX was questioned on this secret and provides us a quote from Scripture, stating that this is all we need to know: “Unless you do penance, you shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3,5)
Penance And Mortification
The acts of penance and mortification are the same. Penance is performed to atone for our sins, while mortification is for those who are not penitents. Anyone who has committed a mortal sin and repented is a penitent. One priest observed early last century that eighty-five percent of the saints were penitents.
The purpose of mortification is to remove all obstacles to prayer and performing the duties of our state of life. Jesus came back to Sister Lucy after Fatima and told her to remind people that the main penance He wanted people to do is to perform the duties of their state of life. The first duty of all people is prayer. So our penance and mortification should be directed to removing all obstacles to prayer. And one of those obstacles are all of these distractions. How many have been fighting to end abortion for over four decades now? How many are now fighting homosexual marriage? These are side issue.
The problem is that we get so involved in discussing and fighting the evils in the world, that we never address the evils in our own selves. We truly have become our own worst enemy. The devil doesn't care how he gets us, so long as he gets us. And he will get us busy about many things, while not even considering the only thing that is truly important.
Now there are thing we all can do, which will help us determine the mortification's we need to undertake. The first is to take a week and track how we make use of our time. Some things are obvious, such as spending a third of our time sleeping. Those with a job will find that portion of time also dictated for us. What do we do with the time that is left over, that is our free time? Some will be spent in necessities of life, such as eating, etc. How many minutes in a week do we spend with God in true prayer from the heart? “With desolation is all the land made desolate; because there is none that considereth in the heart.” (Jeremias 12:11)
We have a little over ten thousand minutes each week. Are we using them profitably? After heart surgery our doctor gives us a regimen to follow and a special diet as well as medication. The regimen we need to follow will require us to reallocate our time. The average American spends 1,500 minutes in front of a screen, computer, television, tablet, phone.
One day the Lord said to St. Teresa: “Oh, how gladly would I speak to many souls! But the world makes so much noise in their hearts that they cannot hear My voice. Would that they might retire a little from the world!” We need to get to the point we spend at least and hour each day in true prayer from the heart. And that is only 560 minutes. We have the time, all we need to do is take it from our distractions.
And so our first mortification is to use our time wisely and stop wasting it on distractions, which can be found anywhere.
“Therefore, behold I will allure her, and will lead her into the wilderness: and I will speak to her heart.” (Osee 2:14)
Whereas we take the lead in penance and mortification and perform them with God's help, in prayer we allow our self to be led into the wilderness where He will speak to our heart. What we do is to clear the time and find a quiet place away from the noise and distraction of the world so that the Holy Ghost can speak to our hearts.
Now we should not come unprepared. Saint Teresa of Avila used a book to guide her meditations for almost two decades. We need to bring good solid spiritual books with us, that will instruct us. The first book is Sacred Scripture. We have already seen many beautiful quotes from Sacred Scripture in this article. Next are the works of the Saints that will instruct us in how to live the Christian way of life.
There are several books to be recommended. The School of Christian Perfection is an excellent summary of Saint Alphonsus' spiritual teachings. Also his work on Charity, which is a commentary on the 13th chapter of first Corinthians. Treatise on the Spiritual Life, which is a summary of Saint Francis de Sales spiritual teaching and the only work that has anything substantial on conversion.
The main thing we need to remember in our time of prayer, is that it is God's time. He may inspire us to consider some point. If so, let us consider that point. However, let us come prepared with something to read slowly and meditatively. When a point strikes us, let us stop and savor it. And let these points lead us to make resolutions to carry into our life.