Wednesday, January 24, 2018

SAINT FRANCIS DE SALES

Sirach, Chapter 27, Verse 3
Unless one holds fast to the fear of the Lord, with sudden swiftness will one’s house be thrown down.


This verse alone doesn’t make much sense; it is taken out of context. Verse 1 tells us the lesson: For the sake of profit many sin, and the struggle for wealth blinds the eyes. Sirach tells us that we must daily check ourselves and reflect if we in all our actions of our life’s business have done the will of the Father and acted with love and compassion.

The Root of Wisdom[1]

There’s a little gift from the Lord for each of us.  So many of us have taken this particular gift, kept it neatly wrapped and stuck it high up on a shelf.  We don’t want to even peek inside and see what is in it.  The gift I am referring to is the 7th one the Lord gave to us through the Holy Spirit — after wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge and piety.  That it is mentioned last makes it no less precious.  This gift is fear of the Lord.

Why is fear of the Lord a precious a gift?  We cannot be wise without it.  Psalm 111:10 tells us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  And Job 28:28 says “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom.”  And Sirach 1:18 tells us that “the root of wisdom is fear of the Lord.”  Why do we need wisdom?  Well, according to Psalm 50:21, without wisdom, we would perish like beasts.  “For all their riches if mortals do not have wisdom, they perish like the beasts.”  Fear of the Lord leads to obedience towards Him.  But “those who fear the Lord disobey not his words” (Sirach 2:15).  It is when we find ourselves in disobedience and steeped in sin that we are sure to dismiss or even detest the mere mention of fear of the Lord because “…the fear of the Lord is an abomination to the sinner (Sirach 1:22). It is true that associating fear with God is generally passé in modern times — with a strong preference instead for spreading sweet and sticky messages of “love,” and “God will understand” over everything in order to make us all temporarily feel better.  It is also true that there is an unhealthy and neurotic type fear that God does not want us to have.  This is why Christ tells us in Matthew 6:25:  “…do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”  But fear of the Lord is a different type of fear than that spoken of in Matthew — a healthy holy fear — a fear born from love.  Our love for God can cause us to fear ever separating ourselves from Him through sin.  Saint Thomas Aquinas tells us in the Summa Theologica that “…love causes fear since it is through his loving a certain good that whatever deprives a man of that good is an evil to him… and… he fears it as an evil.”  Saint Thomas assures us of the validity of this type of fear by teaching that this “fear is… borne of love.”  Saint Paul the Apostle tells us in Philippians 2: “in fear and trembling work out your salvation.”  And fear can even make us more charitable towards others.  It was St. Augustine who said “fear leads to the love of charity.” There is even reason to view fear of the Lord as a spiritual antidote to financial difficulties.  Fear of the Lord keeps us in check, asking God always if our actions are pleasing in His eyes.  If we want to hold onto our finances, it is wise not to let go of our fear of the Lord.  Once we let go of fear of the Lord, it is easy to be blinded by the chance to make a larger profit and by the struggle for ever-greater wealth.  In that blindness we can sometimes make unwise choices.

For the sake of profit many sin, And the struggle for wealth blinds the eyes. Like a peg driven between fitted stones between buying and selling sin is wedged in, unless you earnestly hold fast to fear of the Lord, Suddenly your house will come down… (Sirach 27:1-3).

Blindness can likewise lead to unwise choices in our voting.  Abortion is an intrinsic evil.  No evil in this election can surpass the evil that abortion is.  We must vote with a good and formed conscience, as we ask ourselves: what if I was in the womb and the knife was coming for me?  As U.S. Bishop Rene Gracida stated in a recent radio broadcast:

“A Catholic cannot be said to have voted in this election with a good conscience if they have voted for a pro-abortion candidate.  Barack Hussein Obama is a pro-abortion candidate.”

We will be held accountable to God for our voting.  A vote in support of those who vote for abortion, translates into a vote for abortion.  To vote for abortion is to vote in favor of the shedding of innocent blood by Heaven’s littlest ones whom God most especially loves.  This shedding of blood demands justice and if we continue on our current path it would not be at all unreasonable to expect that God will eventually dispense His punishment in His time and in His way, to us as individuals and to us collectively as a nation. Just as earthly fathers must at times punish children whom they dearly love, so God dispenses punishment on us as His beloved children.  God is love and the dispensation of His just punishment is an act of mercy.  “Justice and mercy appear in the punishment of the just in this world, since by afflictions lesser faults are cleansed in them, and they are more raised up from earthly affections to God…” “The evils that press on us in this world force us to go to God.” (Saint Thomas Aquinas) 

That little box so neatly wrapped still sits upon the shelf holding that precious gift and gathering dust.  Perhaps the time has come to take the box down from the shelf, blow off the dust, untie the bow, peek inside, and receive the precious gift the Lord has waiting for us that is designed to bring us wisdom — the gift of fear of the Lord.  Before we vote, we must pray and ask God for the wisdom to discern His will, and the strength to vote in accord with that.  We must read our Bibles and Catechisms, to better understand His will and pray for the grace to stop offending God through sin.

Today pray for the unborn and for the enemies of God, the Pro-choice Democrats and especially Nancy P. and Chuck S.

Saint Francis de Sales[2]


Today is the traditional start of the January thaw; let us therefore take the advice of St. Francis and prepare ourselves for every communion.


St. Francis de Sales says that Our Savior can never be seen more amiable and more tender, in all that He has done for us, than in Holy Communion, in which He, so to say, annihilates Himself and becomes food, that He may unite Himself to the hearts and bodies of His faithful. Therefore the learned Gerson used also to say, that there was no means more efficacious than Holy Communion whereby to enkindle devotion and the holy love of God in our souls. And, indeed, if we speak of doing something agreeable to God, what can a soul do more agreeable to Him than to receive communion? St. Denis teaches us that love always tends towards perfect union; but how can a soul be more perfectly united with Jesus than in the manner of which He speaks Himself, saying: “He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me, and I in him” (John vi. 57) St. Augustine says that if every day you receive this sacrament, Jesus will be always with you, and that you will always advance in divine love. Again, if there be question of healing our spiritual infirmities, what more certain remedy can we have than Holy Communion, which is called by the sacred Council of Trent a remedy whereby we may be freed from daily faults, and be preserved from mortal sins? Whence does it come, asks Cardinal Bona, that in so many souls we see so little fruit with such frequent communions, and that they constantly relapse into the same faults? He replies: The fault is not in the food, but in the disposition of him who receives. Can a man, says Solomon, hide fire in his bosom, and his garments not burn? (Prov. vi. 27.) God is a consuming fire. He comes Himself in Holy Communion to enkindle this divine fire; how is it, then, says William of Paris, that we see such a diabolical miracle as that souls should remain cold in divine love, in the midst of such flames? All comes from the want of proper dispositions, and especially from want of preparation. Fire immediately inflames dry but not green wood; for this latter is not disposed to burn. The saints derived great benefit from their communions because they prepared themselves with great care. St. Aloysius Gonzaga devoted three days to his preparation for Holy Communion, and three days he spent in thanksgiving to his Lord. To prepare well for Holy Communion, a soul should be disposed on two main points: it should be detached from creatures and have a great desire to advance in divine love. In the first place, then, a soul should detach itself from all things, and drive everything from its heart which is not God. He that is washed, saith Jesus, needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly (John xiii. 10); which signifies, as St. Bernard explains it, that in order to receive this sacrament with great fruit, we should not only be cleansed from mortal sins, but that our feet also should be washed, that is, be free from earthly affections; for being in contact with the earth they excite a sort of repugnance in God, and soiling the soul prevent the effects of Holy Communion. St. Gertrude asked Our Lord what preparation He required of her for Holy Communion, and He replied I only ask that thou shouldst come empty of thyself to receive. In the second place, it is necessary in Holy Communion to have a great desire to receive Jesus Christ and His holy love. In this sacred banquet, says Gerson, only those who are famishing receive their fill; and the most Blessed Virgin Mary had already said the same thing: He hath filled the hungry with good things (Luke i. 53). As Jesus, writes the venerable Father Avila, only came into this world after He had been much and long desired, so does He only enter a soul which desires Him; for it is not becoming that such food should be given him who has a loathing for it. Our Lord one day said to St. Matilda: No bee flies with such impetuosity to flowers, to suck their honey, as I fly to souls in Holy Communion, driven by the violence of My love. Since, then, Jesus Christ has so great a desire to come into our souls, it is also right that we also should have a great desire to receive Him and His divine love by Holy Communion. St. Francis de Sales teaches us that the principal object which a soul should have in view in communicating should be to advance in the love of God ; since He Who for love alone gives Himself to us should be received for love.


The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity[3]

Day 7, Building family in household and Church

Scripture
·         Exodus 2:1-10, The Birth of Moses.
·         Psalm 127:1, Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
·         2 Timothy 1:1-8, Timothy, Paul’s beloved “child.”
·         Matthew 2:13-15, Joseph got up, took the child and his mother and went to Egypt.

Meditation
Families are important for the protection and nurture of children. The births of both Moses and Jesus illustrate how vulnerable children can be to external forces, and how action can be taken to protect them. Matthew offers us a model of fatherhood that is in loving fidelity to the Lord’s command, especially in turbulent times.

Jesus calls us his mother, and his brothers, and his sisters (Matthew 12:48). As Christians, we are called to live as supportive family networks, building strong communities in which children are protected and can flourish.

Prayer
Gracious God, you sent your son to be born in an ordinary family with ancestors who were both faithful and sinful. We ask your blessing upon all families, within households and communities. We especially pray for the unity of the Christian family so that the world may believe, In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Nineveh 90 Day 24
·         Fitness Friday Week 12
·         Nine Days for Life-day 7
·         Please pray for me and this ministry

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