The Synod On Synodality

The Synod on Synodality

The Synod of Bishops: a change in the government of the Church

1. A New Feature of Vatican II

1.Establishment of a council of bishops by Pope Paul VI

The Synod of Bishops is a new institution, established during the Council by Pope Paul VI in the Motu Proprio Apostolica Sollicitudo of September 15, 1965.

What is it? It is a “permanent council of bishops for the universal Church, subject directly and immediately to the authority of the Supreme Pontiff”.

Its members are the patriarchs, the major archbishops and metropolitan bishops, the presidents of the episcopal conferences and a specific number of bishops elected by their peers within these conferences.

On the following October 28th, the conciliar decree Christus Dominus on the pastoral office of bishops in the Church confirmed the existence of this assembly of “bishops chosen from the various regions of the world to provide the Supreme Shepherd of the Church with more effective assistance within a council which has received the name of Synod of Bishops” (no. 5).

Its function is only consultative. It has no decision-making power unless, in specific cases, it has received this power from the Roman Pontiff, who must then ratify the Synod’s decisions.

The 1983 Code of Canon Law (C. 342-348) places this new structure just after the Pope and before the Cardinals.

2.Increasing openness to non-bishops

As early as 1965, Paul VI made provision in his Motu Proprio for the possible participation of non-bishops, limited to 15% of the membership. Those concerned were only clerics, or representatives of religious institutes, or experts appointed by the Pope.

In 2006, Benedict XVI opened the synod to lay people, but without the right to vote (Ordo Synodi episcoporum).

However, on April 26, 2023, Cardinal Grech, Secretary General of the Synod, and Cardinal Hollerich, General Reporter, announced that the percentage of lay people had risen to 21% and that they would have the right to vote. The following should be noted:

– the novelty of having provisions contrary to the law currently in force announced by members of the Synod and not by the Pope – even if he obviously consents. But Pope Francis is not very scrupulous when it comes to laws, even those of the conciliar Church; clearly, it was necessary to ‘act fast’.

– We should also note the oddity of having lay people vote in an assembly of bishops: is this still a “Synod of Bishops”?

– Finally, it should be noted that the proportion of new voters (21%) is not insignificant in an assembly that can adopt its final document by a two-thirds majority.

In addition, the Synod is mixed: 50% of the laity will be women. Many young people have also been invited 1.

All these people, no doubt hand-picked, are supposed to represent the Christian people. There is room for doubt.

3.A consultative body transformed into a governing body

It should be borne in mind that the Apostolic Constitution Episcopalis communio of September 15, 2018, restructured the Synod of Bishops.

It considerably increases the role and competences of the Secretary General of the Synod, who becomes the real driving force behind synodal activity by mandate and under the direct guidance of the Supreme Pontiff, who is no longer content to receive synodal work passively, as has been the case until now, but actively promotes, coordinates and directs it.

This raises the question of whether the Synod of Bishops remains a merely consultative body for the Pope, or whether it has become an organ of government, independent of the Curia 2.

2. The Revolution in Progress

On June 20, 2023, the Vatican presented the Instrumentum laboris – working instrument – a preparatory document for a “Synod on Synodality”, which is due to bring together 364 participants in Rome from October 4 to 29, 2023.

The document was drawn up on the basis of diocesan synods organized around the world over the last two years to consult the “people of God” on their wishes regarding the life of the Church. Summaries have been drawn up for each country and then for each continent.

So much time, energy and money wasted on talking, and this will continue for almost a month at the Vatican (think of the money it costs: travel from abroad, meals, accommodation). Meanwhile, souls are falling into Hell through ignorance of the truths that need to be believed in order to be saved.

  1. Destruction of authority

The central question posed by the Instrumentum laboris, which is present in numerous technical sheets, is: “Who decides in the Church, and how?”

The document raises the following question:

Is authority a form of power derived from models offered by the world, or is it a genuine service? […] The continental assemblies have denounced the phenomena of appropriation of power and decision-making processes that have led to the various forms of abuse – sexual, financial, spiritual and of power – that have come to light in the Church in recent decades. Is responsibility for dealing with abuse individual or systemic?

The document suggests that responsibility for “abuse” may lie with the system itself, i.e. the way in which the exercise of authority has been organised in the Church up to the present day. We can see the direction in which the Instrumentum laboris intends to steer the debate.

We will therefore have to discuss:

the manner in which the ministry of the bishop is exercised; […] on the degree of authority to be attributed to episcopal conferences. […] Changes may need to be made to Canon Law.

The following should be considered:

cases where the authority feels unable to confirm the conclusions of a community discernment process, and takes a decision in a different direction; […] in which cases a bishop might feel obliged to take a decision that differs from the considered opinion offered by the consultative bodies.

Note the qualifier “considered” given to the opinion of the consultative bodies, which discredits the bishop’s opposition in advance.

But the Synod will not only question the authority of the bishops. It must examine:

the understanding of authority in the Church at different levels, including that of the Bishop of Rome.

The Instrumentum laboris raises the (foreseeable) case of “local Churches taking different directions”. What is to be done? The Pope is asked to examine “the possible scope for a diversity of orientations in different regions”. One wonders what will remain of the unity of the Church.

* A look back at the Sauvé Report

It will be recalled that in November 2018, the French Bishops’ Conference entrusted an “independent” commission chaired by former senior civil servant Jean-Marc Sauvé with the task of resolving the “questions raised by the sexual abuse committed by French ecclesiastics”.

It is interesting to note that Jean-Marc Sauvé, a progressive Christian by family tradition, had been vice-president of the Conseil d’Etat, a member of the Socialist Party and an adviser to Badinter. Among the members of the commission he had chosen: Nathalie Bajos, director of INSERM where she is in charge of the “Gender, sexual and reproductive health” team; Sadek Belouci, chairman of the advisory board of the Fondation de l’Islam de France; Antoine Garapon, a progressive Christian judge who called for a vote for Macron in 2017; Christine Lazerges, a Protestant with a law degree and a former Socialist MP, and so on.

The commission found only 35 files on clerics convicted between 1950 and 2020 – still too many, but still not many. As the abused children or their parents did not always denounce the facts, the commission tried to survey the faithful: posters on parish doors, surveys, etc. The result was a sample of 171 victims from which, by statistical extrapolation, the commission arrived at a figure of 330,000 people abused.

However, INSEE immediately reacted, saying that the sample was not representative, while the Catholic Academy of France protested, pointing out “the implausibility of the figures and the ideological spirit that governed this work”, resulting in a “profoundly inaccurate, even erroneous” result. Jean-Marc Sauvé, a member of the said Académie, immediately resigned, as did Mgr de Moulins-Beaufort, President of the French Bishops’ Conference (also a member).

The bishops of France nevertheless took note of the “Sauvé Report” as if they were eager to humiliate themselves publicly, but they humiliated the Church: Bishop de Moulins-Beaufort asked for forgiveness on his knees in front of journalists at the annual episcopal assembly in Lourdes.

What is interesting to note here is that, in its conclusion, the Report refers to abuse as a “systemic phenomenon”, thereby accusing the system, i.e. the institution of the Church itself, of being responsible for failing to curb the crimes of its clergy 3.

However, in the Instrumentum laboris of the Synod of 2023, we note the following question, mentioned above:

Are responsibilities for dealing with abuse individual or systemic?

Everything fits together.

2.The Synodal Church’s way of proceeding:
a conversation in the Spirit

Note that the conciliar Church has changed its title. It is now called the “Synodal Church”. Archbishop Benelli had invited Archbishop Lefebvre’s seminarians to be faithful to the “Conciliar Church” 4. Are we now going to be asked, in order to be Catholics, to be faithful to the “synodal Church”? In fact, even the Pope and the bishops will be required to do so, if we refer to the guidelines set out in the Instrumentum laboris (see above).

But let’s continue reading the document:

The term “conversation in the Spirit” does not indicate a simple exchange of ideas, but that dynamic in which the word spoken and listened to generates a familiarity that enables the participants to become intimate with one another.

The precision “in the Spirit” identifies the authentic protagonist. […] Conversation between brothers and sisters in the faith opens up the space for listening to the Spirit together. […] In the final documents of the continental assemblies, this practice is described as a Pentecostal moment.

The “conversation in the Spirit” will take place in three stages:

  • First stage:

The first stage is devoted to each person speaking from his or her own personal experience. The others listen in silence.

This is the height of modernist subjectivism.

  • Second stage:

Each member of the group then takes the floor, not to react or counter what has been heard by reaffirming his or her own position, but to express what, in the course of listening, has touched him or her most deeply, and what he or she feels most challenged by.

The fact that there may be a truth, and therefore an error if we deviate from it, is of no interest here. What counts is the “feeling”.

  • Third stage:

The third stage consists of identifying the key points that have emerged, and reaching a consensus on the fruits of the joint work. […] We need to be discerning, paying attention to the marginal voices, and not overlooking the importance of the points on which we disagree.

To ensure that this process runs as smoothly as possible, it is important to have well-trained facilitators:

Given the importance of conversation in the Spirit in animating the life of the synodal Church, training in this method, and in particular the challenge of having people capable of accompanying communities in this practice, is seen as a priority at all levels of church life.

Suitable premises will also be needed:

On June 20, 2023, in the Vatican Press Room, Father Giacomo Costa S.J., consultant to the General Secretariat of the Synod, announced that the assembly would be held in the Paul VI Audience Hall:

the room can be set up with round tables around which working groups of ten or so people can be seated.

3.The icing on the cake: a discussion on the ordination of married men to the priesthood and the diaconate for women.

The Instrumentum laboris invites Synod participants to:

reflect on the ordination of married men to the priesthood and the ordination of women to the diaconate.

  • We recall that the ordination of married men is a project that Pope Francis wanted to implement on the occasion of the Amazon Synod. It seems that the work on priestly celibacy 5 published at the same time by Cardinal Sarah and co-signed by Benedict XVI temporarily halted the process.

In a book entitled “Rien d’autre que la vérité. Ma vie aux côtés de Benoît XVI6, published by Arthège in 2023 after the death of Benedict XVI, Archbishop Gänswein, who was Benedict XVI’s private secretary, explains that Benedict XVI had sent Cardinal Sarah seven pages on the priesthood, which he had written without considering publishing them, but allowing him to “use them as he wished”. Cardinal Sarah quoted them, but it is inaccurate to say that the work was as if co-authored by Cardinal Sarah and Benedict XVI, as the publisher has taken the liberty of presenting it.

Now that Benedict XVI is dead, it is not surprising to see Pope Francis bringing out the dossier again.

In any case, the candidates are ready-made: the married deacons who have been officiating every Saturday evening in parishes without priests for many years are the perfect candidates for the conciliar Church… except that they will not have done any priestly studies worthy of the name.

  • As for the “ordination of women to the diaconate”, the term is inappropriate and misleading. The diaconate is a sacrament that is a participation in the sacrament of Holy Orders, which women cannot validly receive. They cannot therefore be validly ordained deacons. At most, they can only receive a kind of blessing to distribute communion, bring it to the sick, celebrate funerals and preach, which they have been doing for a long time. But this will give them an official status that will put it in people’s minds that one day perhaps they will be able to accede to the priesthood.

We cannot object to the deaconesses of the primitive Church. Their functions were to care for the poor and sick of their own sex; to act as intermediaries between women and the leaders of the Christian community; to visit pagan families where the entry of a deacon or priest would have been difficult or inappropriate; to be present at women’s meetings with the bishop, priests or deacons; to assist the bishop in administering baptism to women, and so on. But they were expressly forbidden to perform any liturgical function such as serving at the altar or preaching 7.

In short, for this Synod, faith is now just a question of experience – which means respecting the experience of other religions – and it is the “people of God” that now takes the place of the teaching Church.

Permanent democracy, a new Protestant Pentecost, these are the characteristics of this “sSynodal Church”, which has little to do with the Catholic Church instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ, opposing its divine constitution, which gives authority to the Pope and, through him, to the bishops, successors of the Apostles, and not to the people.

The consequence can only be, in the long run, the dissolution of this conciliar Church, and its fragmentation into so many diocesan synods opposed to each other.

3. Everything Started
With the Second Vatican Council

It should be noted, however, that this outcome is not an innovation of Pope Francis. It all started with the Second Vatican Council.

The Constitution Lumen Gentium of November 21, 1964 introduced a new definition of the Church, now called the “People of God”.

The expression came from the new theology condemned by Pope Pius XII in the encyclical Humani Generis, represented in particular by the Dominican fathers Chenu and Congar, whom Pope John XXIII had appointed as experts at the Council.

Archbishop Lefebvre considered this new conception to be extremely serious:

There is a new ecclesiology, that’s clear. […] In my opinion, it is exceptionally serious: just to be able to say that there could be a new ecclesiology. We are not the ones who make the Church, we did not make her, not the Pope, not the bishops, not history, not the councils. It was made by Our Lord. […] It does not depend on us. So how can we suddenly say: “Now, since Vatican II, there is a new ecclesiology”, and this is said by the Pope himself. It’s unbelievable 8.

The Constitution Lumen Gentium also insisted on the common priesthood of priests and faithful, a notion emphasised in the New Mass; while the rites of ordination of priests and consecration of bishops were modified to make it clearer that these ceremonies transmit a particular power 9.

The 1983 Code of Canon Law promulgated by John Paul II put all this into law, inverting the pyramid of the Church by placing lay people before clerics, and even allowing them – men and women – to enter the sanctuary during liturgical ceremonies:

The new Code of Canon Law, continued Archbishop Lefebvre, is an enterprise aimed at destroying the distinction between the priest and the layman. […] This is extremely serious. It is the ruin of the Church 10.

4. Reductive Groups and Governing Cores

Is the Holy Ghost really at work in this kind of synod? We may well doubt it. Not only because He cannot be present in an undertaking that seeks to overturn the divine structure of the Church, but also because his modus operandi bears a striking resemblance to the techniques of manipulation perfected by the Revolution and analysed in the 19th century by Augustin Cochin.

Adrien Loubier wrote a book about them in 1975, with a preface by Marcel de Corte, entitled Groupes réducteurs et noyaux dirigeants (Reductive groups and governing cores) 11. The book is useful for studying methods of revolutionary action in any environment (political, trade union, religious, etc.).

For example, get twelve people around a table to understand the need for change in the structure to which they belong.

Two basic principles will guide the discussions:

  • firstly, absolute freedom for the participants to say and think what they want. To each his own truth, his own convictions, his own opinion.

  • secondly is the equality of the deliberators. If one of them could impose his idea, his point of view or his experience, there would be no more freedom. It follows that there is no objective truth, only opinions.

The meeting naturally becomes a series of divergent presentations, of contradictory statements. This is generally referred to as a “round table” discussion.

How are we going to get through this jumble? It will be the role of the (experienced) facilitator to convince the group, in the name of fraternity, of the need to unite to form an average opinion, the result of opinions that are all equal. To achieve this, everyone must be prepared to give up something of their personal opinion. But if everyone has the common will to unite around this common opinion, the group will be that much stronger.

Around the table, the deliberators are now united by the (fictitious) need to draft their joint motion. The result is a mishmash of ideas and differing opinions, leading to a great deal of confusion. But unity is the order of the day. It is therefore necessary to agree on a basis that is likely to attract votes. Given the differences of opinion, the joint motion can only be a common minimum. This is what Augustin Cochin calls “the law of reduction”.

The participants are then led to abandon convictions that they now relegate to the rank of opinions.

And the process continues.

At the next meeting, some of the participants pointed out that certain points needed to be reconsidered, posing difficulties of application that complicate the problem. The confusion continued to grow. While further cuts were being made, a selection process was beginning to take place among the men:

  • the weakest personalities – the most numerous – will be completely disorientated, and ready for any reform or questioning, as long as a leader makes them believe that they are the expression of the general will; or else, disgusted, they will take refuge in absolute relativism. They are recycled.

  • a strong personality may refuse to get involved, defending the truth. If they don’t leave by slamming the door – a departure that the moderator will then comment on with scorn or mockery – they will be asked more or less politely to leave the group if they persist in staying and defending their position.

Rid of those who might block the system, the presenter will leave the floor to the servile talkers, devoid of convictions and doctrine, who will inevitably come forward. The system has its hacks. Together with the moderator, they will form the core group, the governing core, that will drive the group forward in the direction decided by the organisers from the outset. The final motion will be unproblematic and met with enthusiasm.

The system will have performed a veritable sociological brainwashing.

Is this how the Synodal discussions went?

In any case, we will see that the conclusions of the Synod were exactly what the Instrumentum laboris wanted them to be. The moderators worked well.

The democratic aspect seems to be nothing more than an appearance to make it easier to accept the revolutionary reforms decided in advance by Pope Francis.

5. Review of the October 2023 Synod

At the end of the Synod, a “Summary Report” was published. The various proposals that make up this Report were voted on by the members.

The ordination of married men and the diaconate of women did not attract enough votes for the moment.

But it is important to understand that the current text is not final. It will serve as a working instrument (Instrumentum laboris) for the Synod of October 2024, which itself will still need papal approval to have authority.

The text of the Report allows us to see where we are in the transformation of the Church.

  1. Changing structures

During the Synod, there was constant talk of “changing” structures.

This can be seen, for example, in proposal I, 1, e, which states that we must “tackle the structural conditions that have allowed abuses to occur”. This is mainly an allusion to pedophilia, which is used as a pretext to attack the hierarchical constitution of the Church as if it had something to do with it.

Let us quote II, 9, g:

The synodal process shows that it is necessary to renew relationships and make structural changes to welcome the participation and contribution of all.

It is the dissolution of the hierarchy in the “people of God”. The rest makes this clear.

2.Distribute the powers of the hierarchy
among all the members of the Church
3. Necessary reminder of Catholic doctrine

We quote from the 1917 Code of Canon Law, an expression of the centuries-old wisdom of the Church assisted by the Holy Spirit 12.

4.Divine origin of a clergy distinct from the laity (C. 107)

Of divine institution, there are clerics in the Church who are distinct from the laity, even if not all the ranks of the clergy are of divine institution.

5.Definition of clerkship (C. 108)

Those vowed to the sacred functions, at least by the first tonsure, are called clerics.

The word cleric comes from the Greek “cleros”, which means first “lot” and then “share obtained by lot, inheritance”. Clerics are so called because they are “the Lord’s portion”, or because “the Lord is their portion”. At the tonsure ceremony, the psalm “Dominus pars hereditatis meae” is sung.

6.Notion of the sacred hierarchy (C. 108 § 3)

Of divine institution, the sacred hierarchy:

as founded on the power of order, is composed of bishops, priests and ministers;

as founded on the power of jurisdiction, is made up of all those who have received the power to govern the faithful. It comprises the supreme pontificate and the subordinate episcopate. Other levels have been added to the ecclesiastical institution.

The hierarchy of order is made up of all the clerics who are vested with the power to celebrate the holy mysteries of religion.

The hierarchy of jurisdiction is made up of all those who have been given the power to govern the faithful, either by teaching them or by enacting or applying laws or precepts.

Magisterium is a part of jurisdiction because it is founded not only on knowledge of doctrine, but also on the authority to teach, which is not possessed by all indiscriminately, but was given by Our Lord to the Apostles and their successors: “Go and teach all nations” (Mt 28:19); “O Timothy, guard the deposit” (I Tim 6:20).

7.Differences between the power to order and the power of jurisdiction
8.Purpose

– The power of order is primarily a sacramental power.

Its object is above all the sacrament of the Eucharist, then the other sacraments by way of consequence; secondarily it refers to the acts of worship themselves and to the sacramentals (Summa Theologica of Saint Thomas, II-II q. 39, a. 3).

– The power of jurisdiction is concerned with government and teaching.

9.Origin

– The power of order comes from God.

– The power of jurisdiction comes from the ecclesiastical superior (except the power of the Supreme Pontiff).

10.Method of conferral

– Order is conferred by ordination.

– Except for the jurisdiction of the Supreme Pontiff, which comes from Our Lord, jurisdiction comes from the ecclesiastical superior. This is known as the ‘canonical mission’. By canonical mission we mean the deputation given to govern the faithful, in the name of the authority, with the assignment of specific flocks and territory. This is known as ordinary jurisdiction.

In the current crisis, because of the state of necessity in which souls find themselves, there is a jurisdiction without an assigned territory, which is given by the Code on a case-by-case basis according to the needs of the souls of the faithful. This is known as “supplied jurisdiction”. It is based on the General Norms of Canon Law, which state that the first law in the Church, to which all other laws are ordered, is the salvation of souls.

In order to acquire ecclesiastical jurisdiction, it is necessary 1) by divine law to be baptised; 2) by ecclesiastical law, to be of the male sex, enrolled in the clergy, at least as a general rule, and not to be subject to any censure by the Church.

It is not impossible for the Supreme Pontiff to entrust some ecclesiastical jurisdiction to a lay person. However, it is certain that today women cannot validly acquire ecclesiastical jurisdiction, as the Pope never grants such a dispensation. This incapacity is at least of ecclesiastical law; several authors maintain that it is of divine law.

11.Extension

The power of order cannot, in substance, be taken away or limited (a priest always remains a priest, even in Hell, because his soul has received an indelible character); but in its exercise it can be suspended or limited by the ecclesiastical authorities.

12.Communicability

– The power of order can never be communicated to another person in its substance (C. 210): one must have been ordained to be a priest!

– Jurisdiction can be communicated to another, either in its exercise, or sometimes even in its initial grant.

13.Admission to the hierarchy (C. 109)

Those who are admitted to the ecclesiastical hierarchy are not admitted by the people or by civil authority, but by sacred ordination for the power of order, and by canonical mission for the power of jurisdiction.

14.The Bergoglian revolution, the culmination of Vatican II

Let us now look at the conclusions of the Synod 13:

  1. Magisterial power

The consensus of the faithful constitutes a sure criterion for determining whether a particular doctrine or practice belongs to the apostolic faith (I, 3, c).

This is the “people of God” that becomes the teaching Church.

In his address to the Synod on October 26th, during the 18th General Congregation, Pope Francis made a point of expressing his full support for this proposal:

I like to think of the Church as that simple and humble people who walk in the presence of the Lord, the faithful people of God. […] One of the characteristics of this faithful people is its infallibility; yes, it is infallible in credendo, (“In credendo falli nequit”, says Lumen Gentium nr. 12) infaillibilitas in credendo. […]

An image comes to mind: the faithful people gathered at the entrance to Ephesus Cathedral. History, or legend, tells us that the people on either side of the street towards the cathedral, as the bishops entered in procession, repeated in chorus ‘Mother of God’, asking the hierarchy to declare dogma this truth that they already possessed as the people of God. Some say that they had sticks in their hands and showed them to the bishops. I don’t know if this is a story or a legend, but the image is good. […] We, members of the hierarchy, come from this people and have received the faith of this people, generally from their mothers and grandmothers, “your mother and your grandmother”, says Paul to Timothy, a faith transmitted in the female dialect 14.

Pope Francis is rewriting history to suit him. It was not before the proclamation of the dogma of the divine motherhood that the people of Ephesus went to the cathedral to persuade the bishops (with sticks?) to define this article of faith; but after they had learned the definition, and to acclaim them. This can be found in any history of the Church. There is no shortage of books in the Vatican 15.

As for the sense of faith, sensus fidei, it does exist in the faithful, caused both by the light of faith itself (II-II q. 1, a. 4, ad. 3) and by the Holy Ghost, by the gift of knowledge, when the faithful are in a state of grace (II-II q. 9, a. 1, ad. 1). This sense of faith enables him to recognise whether or not a doctrine conforms to the teaching of the magisterium. But it is not he who dictates to the magisterium what it should teach!

2.Power of jurisdiction

During the Synod, clericalism was repeatedly presented as the cause of all the evil that is happening in the Church. Pope Francis condemned it in his address on 26 October 26th:

When ministers exaggerate in their service and mistreat the people of God, they disfigure the face of the Church with macho and dictatorial behaviour. […] Clericalism is a scourge, it is a plague, it is a form of worldliness that soils and damages the face of the Lord’s spouse.

The Synod makes it responsible for “abuses” (II, 9, f and II, 11, c). The remedy, for him, is therefore co-responsibility:

Co-responsibility is an essential element for synodality at all levels of the Church. […]

Structures and processes must be put in place, in forms to be legally defined, for the regular verification of the work of the bishop, with regard to the style of his authority, the financial administration of the goods of the diocese, the functioning of participative bodies and protection against all types of abuse (II, 12, j).

Usually, a bishop reports only to the Pope, or to the Superior General of a priestly institute that includes bishops (such as the Congregation of the Fathers of the Holy Spirit: Archbishop Lefebvre had 60 bishops under his authority).

But even the Pope must be controlled:

An in-depth study is needed of how a renewed understanding of episcopacy within a synodal Church affects the ministry of the Bishop of Rome and the role of the Roman Curia. This question has significant implications for the way in which co-responsibility is lived in the Church (II, 12, j).

As the Synod included women, the following claim is made in the final document:

There is an urgent need to ensure that women are able to participate in the decision-making process, and to take on roles of responsibility in pastoral work and ministry (II, 9, m).

We propose that properly trained women should be able to serve as judges in all canonical processes’ (II, 9, r) 16.

3.Order Power: new encroachments

+ The new Code of Canon Law had already limited the exercise of the power of Order 17:

– tonsure, minor orders and the subdiaconate have been abolished, the minor orders having been replaced by ‘ministries’ that lay people can exercise;

– lay men and women may preach in churches and distribute Holy Communion, and women may serve Mass.

+ But the Synod still limits the power of Order, within the jurisdiction hitherto attributed to it by the Church. It was normal for the power of government and teaching to be entrusted to those who, through the clerical state and above all the priesthood, are placed above the faithful. From then on, everything changed:

Baptism is the principle of synodality” (1, 7, b), which means that “all the baptised are co-responsible for the mission, each according to his or her vocation, experience and competence: all therefore contribute to imagining and deciding the stages of reform of Christian communities and of the Church as a whole” (III, 18, a), “even non-Catholics” [i.e. Protestants!] (1, 7, b).

This is the consequence of the confusion between clerics and laity, the promotion of the laity, and indifferentist ecumenism, introduced by the Council and enacted by the 1983 Code.

Conclusion

It is no more and no less than a “reformation” of the Catholic Church in the Protestant way which is a destruction of the divine constitution of the Church.

1ORLF, 27 April 2023, p. 1.

2 — Father Réginald-Marie Rivoire, Le motu proprio Traditionis custodes, Poitiers, DMM, 2022, p. 93.

3 — A very well-documented study of this affair, with all the sources and references, appeared in Rivarol, n° 3499 to 3503, article by T-A Lechevalier.

4 — “If the seminarians at Ecône are of good will and seriously prepared for a priestly ministry in true fidelity to the conciliar Church, we will then find the best solution for them” (Letter to Archbishop Lefebvre, 25 June 1976).

5 — ‘Des profondeurs de nos cœurs ’, published by Fayard in January 2020.

6Nothing but the truth. My life with Benedict XVI.

7 — See the article “Deaconesses” in the Dictionary of Catholic Theology.

8 — Archbishop Lefebvre, Spiritual Conference of 17 March 1986 at Ecône (in CD no. 2 “La sainte Eglise”, published by Ecône. See the article ‘ Vatican II mis en code de lois: le nouveau Code de 1983 ’ published in Le Sel de la terre 120, Spring 2022, in particular pages 39 to 49.

9 — See the article “La validité des sacrements réformés par Paul VI”, in Sel de la terre 124, Spring 2023, especially pages 133 to 136.

10 — Archbishop Lefebvre, Spiritual Conference at Ecône, 4 March 1984. You can read the article “Vatican II mis en code de lois : le nouveau Code de 1983” published in two parts in Le Sel de la terre 120, spring 2022, and 123, winter 2022-2023.

11 — The book is published by Editions Sainte-Jeanne d’Arc, and has been reprinted several times.

12 — See Raoul Naz’s Traité de Droit canonique, Paris, Letouzey et Ané, 1946, vol. 1, pp. 260 ff.

13 — We have consulted the references given by fsspx.news on 14 November 2023.

14ORLF 44, of Tuesday 31 October 2023, p. 4.

15 — An account of the popular enthusiasm can be found in Dom Guéranger’s L’Année liturgique, on 9 February 9th, the feast of Saint Cyril of Alexandria.

16 — Compare this with the traditional canonical discipline referred to above.

17 — For further details, see the article “Vatican II put into a code of laws, The new Code of Canon Law (1983)”, Le Sel de la terre 124, Spring 2023, p. 66 ff.

Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) In Pictures

 

 

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HOLINESS IN THE FAMILY – Sincerity and Lies

HOLINESS IN THE FAMILY

Sincerity and Lies

by Brother François-Marie O.P.

from “Le Sel de la Terre” 120 (Spring 2022)

“Lord! Who will dwell in your tabernacle? Who will rest on your holy mountain [Heaven]? He who speaks the truth in his heart and has not deceived in his words” (Ps 14)

IT IS OF THE HIGHEST IMPORTANCE, if we want to lead to Heaven the children whom the good Lord has entrusted to us, to take care to educate them, from their earliest years, in the practice of the virtues that make them good, that is to say, similar to God who is infinite Goodness.

We will begin these talks with the virtue of truthfulness or sincerity, which goes hand in hand with the flight from the opposite vice: lying

Sincerity

The Truth

God created us in his image. He gave us the word to imitate him.

Just as God has an eternal word, the Word, which is the true expression of the eternal wisdom of the Father and therefore the absolute Truth, so we have our Word, which must be the true expression of our thought. When we do this, we are truly imitators and children of God.

Truth is what is. Every word must be the expression of what is, that is, of the truth.

We may be insincere in our dealings with God: in our self-examination, in confession, in prayer, in our inner conversation with him, but we will not be able to deceive him, for God knows everything. We will be the main victims of this lie.

The same is not true of our neighbor. He can be deceived, and both justice and charity require that we be true to him, so that he will not be deceived either by our words or by our actions.

The Benefits of Sincerity

The sincerity of children does honor to the parents and greatly facilitates the work of education. We have a good example of this good habit in the children of the Barbedette family, whose eldest child was 12 years old at the time of the apparitions in Pontmain (France) on January 17, 1871:

Knowing that her children were not in the habit of lying, Mrs. Barbedette asked them to describe what they saw, then after some time, disconcerted by the fact that she saw nothing, but not questioning their word, she sent for the sister teacher to verify, then the priest.

These parents, profoundly Catholics, had succeeded in giving their children the habit of sincerity. It allowed the inhabitants of the village, all grouped behind their parish priest, to believe in the reality of the apparition, to react promptly to the expectation of the Virgin Mary, that is, to pray. The result was to stop the advance of the German army.

How to Develop Sincerity in Children

There are three ways:

a) Give the Example

* By never deceiving children.

We set the stage for lying every time we promise things – rewards or punishments – and then fail to keep our word, because we have spoken too quickly, impatiently or thoughtlessly.
If these failures are repeated frequently, children learn that words can be different from actions.

* By setting an example of truth, especially where it costs.

This doesn’t have to be in words, but in actions. Children who see a parent scratch a car while parking and leave without saying anything will probably not learn a good lesson from it; likewise if, at the entrance to a museum, they hear him lie about the age of one of them in order to benefit from the reduced rate.

In this area, small and seemingly insignificant mistakes can have serious consequences on a child’s conscience, and he or she will conclude that lying is allowed whenever it is useful. He will immediately make applications, the seriousness of which he alone will judge, and the parents will know nothing about it, or too late.

b) Inspire a Deep Esteem For Sincerity

* By praising this virtue often, and by making it admired when good examples allow it.

* By blaming the lie.

* By stating loud and clear that we will be proud to have children who practice this virtue.

Be concerned with truth to the point of detail. When your children tell their “adventures”, help them to tell things accurately down to the smallest detail, correcting their exaggerations or confusions.

c) Encourage the Sincerity of Children

* By faith. Jesus is the Truth. He knows all, he sees all. If you love the truth, you will be a friend of Jesus. If you lie, you become a friend of the devil who is the father of lies.

* By discretion.

One should never make fun of the scruples and ingenuity of children, nor make them known to others. The child who sees his confidences betrayed will close his heart definitively.

In a delicate matter, avoid questions that show our doubt or ignorance too clearly. Still not very virtuous, because of his age, the child who understands that he can lie with impunity will easily give in to temptation.

What to do then? As much as possible, get information from other sources by doing a little investigation. When you have enough information to know what happened, you can help the child practice truthfulness. If the evidence is not specific enough and the mistake is not serious, it is better to look the other way than to destroy trust.

* By the remission of the punishment.

The child must see the difference in treatment between an admitted and an unconfessed fault. If he is to be punished, he must not be given the impression that the cause of his grief is his sincerity, for he will never again confide in anyone.

However, if the offence requires it, it must be repaired, but with kindness, so that he feels appeased and even happy to have told the truth. It is sometimes possible not to punish at all, but this should be the exception.

The Lie

The Eighth Commandment: “Thou Shall Not Lie”.

God’s commandments are based on God’s nature and on our own. They tend to make us a living image of our Creator, making us good, virtuous and ultimately, happy.

As God is the supreme Truth, nothing is more contrary to Him than lying; this is why He absolutely forbids it by the eighth commandment: “Thou shalt not lie”, in order to prevent man from insulting his Creator. Indeed, every lie being the negation of a truth, tends to deny God, the supreme Truth. That is why no one must lie.

This is the negative part of the commandment which, like all the others, also has a positive part, commanding us to tell the truth. An effective education should not be limited to prohibitions, but should emphasize what is ordered for the good of the child: this is why we began this talk by talking about the virtue of truthfulness.

Lying In General

St. Augustine aptly defines lying by saying that it consists in speaking against one’s own thought in order to deceive.

a) Two Conditions Are Necessary For a Lie To Exist:

* expressing things one does not think ‑ whether they are true or false. Saying something that is false but believed to be true is not a lie, but a mistake. On the other hand, one can lie by saying something that is materially true, but which one believes to be false.

* intend to deceive. Fabulous or romantic stories, ironic jokes expressed by antiphrasis or obvious exaggeration are not lies as long as they do not aim to deceive.

b) Lying Has a Triple Evil:

* It harms the liar, who degrades himself by taking away something of his likeness to God. The liar makes himself guilty, both before God and before his own conscience. Lying can lead to blindness and damnation.

He who gets used to telling small lies as a child, whatever the reason, will tell bigger ones as an adult: he will lie in his commitments, in his business, etc.

* The liar deprives his neighbor of the truth. He makes him take the false for the true, which can lead to great damage and great faults.

* The liar offends God in the person of his Word who said: “I am the Truth” and honors, in his place, Satan the father of lies.

The Lie in Society Today

In the 18th century, one of the “great ancestors” of our republican and anti-Catholic (French) society, the ill-fated Voltaire wrote:

Lying is a vice only when it does harm; it is a very great virtue when it does good. So be more virtuous than ever. You must lie like a devil, not timidly, not for a time, but boldly and always. Lie, my friends, lie, I will return it to you on occasion.” [Letter to Thiériot, October 21, 1736].

The motto had many followers, in politics, in economics, in education, in the press, and in morality.

In the 20th century, Marxism used lying as a battle tactic and made it a “virtue,” extolled in its “catechism” for its militants. In the 21st century, we are told that we have entered the “post-truth” era, that is, no objective truth is admitted anymore. The official discourse is constructed according to the ideology of the time, according to the objectives to be achieved, whether they be military, educational, political or scientific. One must see in this perspective the insistence on the Darwinist theory of evolution, on global warming due to CO₂, on the health crisis, etc.

Lying In Children Today

The child is naturally sincere; he speaks as he thinks and spontaneously corrects what seems to him to be contrary to the truth. Mental restriction, dissimulation, deceit, and hypocrisy are not usually the work of the child. This tendency to truth, which is fundamental, is however wounded by original sin and can be wounded even more by the environment and education.

All educators know that most children lie by the time they are old enough to be reasonable. Of course, it is usually not in serious matters, but children who never or almost never lie are very rare.

It seems that this ailment has become more common than it used to be. This means that even in the best families, something has been missed in early childhood education. We reported above the example of the Barbedette children in Pontmain in 1871. Let us cite here two other examples:

Lucia of Fatima in 1917 never lied, even when her mother beat her to force her to say she had not seen the Blessed Virgin.

That of Jacqueline Aubry, the little visionary of Ile-Bouchard (France) in 1947: her parents rarely practiced and there was no family prayer, however her mother could testify that her daughter had never lied, that is why she believed her when she told the vision of the Holy Virgin.

What To Do When You See That The Child Is Lying

* If it is the first time, we must mark our surprise, our sorrow with gravity.

* If the child reoffends, he should be kept in disgrace by limiting relations with him to what is strictly necessary. Examples from the Scriptures should be used to show the severity of God’s punishment for lying, such as the story of Ananias and Sapphira in the Acts of the Apostles.

What Are The Main Reasons Children Lie

* Fear: this is the most common. The child has done something wrong, for example, broken an object, not learned a lesson or cannot do an assignment; fearing to be scolded or punished, he/she chooses the easy way out that seems to solve the problem, by telling a lie, or even by cheating in class if it is an assignment.

The point is that the child would rather go out and play than complete a task or service. If asked the question, “Have you finished?” In games, children cheat because they want to win.

* Vanity: to show off, he magnifies what is to his advantage, he diminishes or denies what would make him look bad.

We see that the child lies because his virtue is weak. Certainly, he has the infused virtues that accompany sanctifying grace, but he does not sufficiently possess the acquired virtues, which are formed by the repetition of virtuous acts. He reacts “naturally”, in most cases. He lacks humility, courage, generosity, love of justice, and therefore frankness, sincerity and loyalty.

Three Remedies For Lying Children

1. It is necessary to inculcate, from the earliest age, the love of truth, explaining to children that Jesus is the Truth itself, and that, in order to be a friend of Jesus, one must always tell the truth. Jesus, being God, sees all and knows all; we cannot hide anything from him. If one does not tell the truth, one is a friend of the devil. Moreover, it is cowardly to lie.

2. If you discover that something wrong has been done, do not ask your child questions in an angry, threatening tone, but encourage him to tell the truth and assure him that a frank confession will earn him forgiveness. If your child is loyal, do not punish him or her, but encourage him or her to make amends (these are two different things). This will eliminate lying out of fear. The child accepts the consequences of his misdeeds very well because he has a sense of justice, and generally there is no malice in most of his faults. He will gladly make amends, for example by doing a favor.

3. Point out to the child how much peace his or her soul feels when he or she has told the truth. Some time ago, in a school, a small group of children had damaged the bottom of a plasterboard wall, already damaged by humidity and by a few kicks. The next day, after the prayer, the director asked that the culprits come forward, assuring that they would not be punished, but would have to repair the damage by doing some services. The perpetrators of this degradation promptly denounced themselves, and diligently carried out the requested repairs. Of course, the parents had to bear some of the costs. But each child became aware of the consequences of his or her own stupidity, either by accompanying the father to repair the damaged wall, or by contributing to the costs with his or her piggy bank, or by rendering compensatory services at home.

Translation by A.A.

Vatican II Put Into a Code of Laws – The New Cod of Canon Law (1983)


Vatican II Put Into a Code of Laws

The New Code of Canon Law (1983)

by a Dominican Father of Avrillé

(published in Le Sel de la terre 120, Spring 2022)

When error is once embodied in legal formulas and administrative practices, it penetrates the minds to depths from which it becomes as if impossible to extricate it.

Cardinal Pie, Pastoral Works, VI.

Preamble: Is Canon Law Amiable?

When a priest makes this cheerful comment to one of his confreres: “So you study Canon Law?” one can easily guess some ulterior motive which could be translated as follows: “What a turn of mind you have!” or again: “What courage!

Is Canon Law really so boring? Is it so abstract, so cold, so unpleasant? We would like to prove here how lovable it is in itself, lovable especially because it introduces us, like theology, to the heart of the Church and to the Heart of Christ1.

It was of the traditional Code of Canon Law, that of 1917, that Father Coache spoke in these terms in the 1980s. But first of all, what is Law?

In French, Canon Law is translated “Droit canon”, and the French word Droit (in Latin Jus) comes from the Latin words dirigere and regere. In this case, it means a set of laws intended to direct us, to govern us. As for the word “canon“, it comes from a Greek word which means: rule.

We can now define Canon Law:

Canon Law is the body of laws proposed, established or approved by the supreme ecclesiastical authority, to direct Christians towards the end of religious society2.

A classic commentary adds the following clarification:

The subjects of ecclesiastical law are Christians, that is, all those who have received baptism, even if they are heretics, schismatics, excommunicated or even apostates.

As for the end of religious society, it is none other than the salvation of men, and, more immediately, the preservation of divine worship, of the purity of the faith and of honesty of morals among the Christian people in general3.

It is important to note the link between Canon Law and theology:

– it can be said to protect dogmatic theology, laying down rules to preserve the purity of the faith, in particular laws on teaching, prescriptions on professions of faith, censures against heresy and schism4;

– It supports moral theology as from the outside, for if moral theology orders human acts (interior and exterior) to personal eternal salvation, Canon Law has as its object the exterior acts of the baptized in their relation to the social good of the Church on this earth, to enable her to work for the salvation of souls and the reign of Our Lord over societies. Canon Law does not judge the internal forum of consciences, which is reserved for the confessional. Hence the adage: de internis Ecclesia non judicat.

The Code of Canon Law is therefore as important in the Church as dogma, morals, or the science of the Holy Scriptures. It shows the face of the Church and of Christ in their magnificent justice and their sweet mercy. It is the legislation of Christ and of His Bride, an expression of the Love of Our Lord and of His Church for their children. It is the Code of Canon Law that makes known to us the spirit of the Church. It is therefore lovable, and we must respect and love it5 .

Two Codes, Two Stories

The 1917 Code

– The Sources of Traditional Canon Law

The Supreme Pontiff and the General Councils are the two immediate sources of Canon Law; and since the decrees of the General Councils have authority only through papal approval, it can be said that papal authority is the primary generative source of General Canon Law6 .

– From the Apostles to the 12 th century: the birth of ecclesiastical legislation

In the early days, the discipline of the Church was not regulated by written laws, but by an oral tradition which came from the Apostles and the first successors of Peter. Gradually, especially after the era of persecution, synods began to be held in which decrees or canons were issued, forming the first texts of ecclesiastical law. They were gathered in collections bearing the name of the Apostles (Didascalia7 of the Apostles, Constitutions of the Apostles, Canons of the Apostles, etc.) or of some great ecclesiastical figure (Octateuch of Clement, Canons of Hippolytus, etc.). These are compilations of local customs or conciliar decisions, but they do not go back further than the third century8 .

From the 4 th century onwards, there are collections of different conciliar decisions classified by region and chronological order (Councils of Africa, Councils of Spain, etc.) and Decretals of popes.

The most famous canonical collection is the Decree of Gratian, published around 1145 in Bologna, which groups in a logical order and comments all the texts available at the time. John Gratian was an Italian Camaldolese monk and professor of Canon Law at the University of Bologna. His collection had the same notoriety and influence as the Sentences of Peter Lombard for theology.

– From the 12 th to 16th century: stabilization of the Law

After the Decree of Gratian, several ecumenical councils were held, and the great popes of the time, Alexander III (pope from 1159 to 1181) and Innocent III (pope from 1198 to 1216) in particular, had made a number of important decisions for the whole Church. The decrees of the Fourth Lateran Council (1216) provided the main basis for the Church’s legislation until the Council of Trent.

Gregory IX (pope from 1227 to 1241) commissioned his chaplain, the Dominican St. Raymond de Pennafort (1175-1275), to compile a collection of them. These were the Decretals of Gregory IX, published in 1234, the most important official canonical collection until the Code of 1917.

At the beginning of the 16 th century, a Corpus Juris canonici was published, including the Decree of Gratian, the Decretals of Gregory IX and the documents of the following popes.

– From the 16 th to the 20 th century: the crowning of the Law

The decrees of the Council of Trent (1545-1563) and the promulgation of new laws soon made the Corpus Juris canonici insufficient. Several popes tried to complete it, while new collections, due to private initiative, were created.

At the time when St. Pius X (pope from 1903 to 1914) ascended to the See of Peter, it was difficult to find one’s way through the ecclesiastical legislation.

[It was] an enormous mass of documents scattered in so many volumes and without any order, many of which were not real laws, but answers to particular cases, or had been abrogated by later laws or by custom9 .

[Moreover, many of these laws], because of the changes that had taken place, were of difficult application or of lesser use for the salvation of souls10 .

Already at the first Vatican Council, many bishops had made urgent requests for an updating of the ecclesiastical laws. Leo XIII had begun by codifying the legislation of the Index and of religious congregations with simple vows.

In 1904, St. Pius X judged that the codification of all Canon Law could be undertaken. By his Motu Proprio Arduum Sane Munus of 19 March, he set up a commission of cardinals, presided over by Cardinal Gasparri, working in conjunction with several consultors and bishops. Bishops and religious superiors were then invited to give their opinion. It was under Pope Benedict XV that the work was completed. The Code was promulgated on May 27, 1917, the day of Pentecost, by the Bull Providentissima Mater, declaring that it would have the force of law from May 19, 1918.

On September 15, 1917, by the letter Cum Juris canonici, Benedict XV had instituted a cardinal commission charged with the interpretation of the Code and with the drafting of additional canons that might become necessary in the future. Since then, there have been many new texts and provisions, for example, the change of discipline for the Eucharistic fast, or the permission for evening Masses. Pius XII alone, through his speeches and decrees, has greatly advanced the Law. The changes were published in the Acta Apostolicæ Sedis (Acts of the Holy See)11 .

The 1983 Code

An update of the Canon Law was therefore necessary.

In 1953, the Jesuit Father Regatillo published a 720-page work interpreting, completing or correcting – with official responses from Rome – a large number of canons.

It was John XXIII, on January 25, 1959, in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, who simultaneously announced the holding of a Roman Synod, the celebration of an Ecumenical Council, and the reform of the Code of Canon Law.

But it was only on March 28, 1963, after the first session of Vatican II, that John XXIII established a “Commission for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law” composed of forty cardinals. At its first meeting, on 12 November 1963, the Commission decided to wait until the end of the Council before setting to work.

On April 17, 1964, Paul VI added to the Cardinal’s Commission a body of seventy consultors, among whom were almost all the secretaries of the Conciliar Commissions.

The work began a few days before the solemn closing of the Council, under the presidency of Cardinal Felici12 . In 1966, forty-eight bishops and one hundred and twenty-one consultors, priests, religious and laity, were added in order to involve the universal Church in this elaboration13 .

After ten years of work, the project was sent to all the bishops, to the superiors general of the religious orders, to the Catholic universities and pontifical ecclesiastical faculties for consultation. Thirty thousand suggestions were examined, and new cardinals, archbishops and bishops, priests and laity from the five parts of the world were added to the Commission. Everything was then presented to Pope John Paul II on 21 April 1982. The latter revised the whole with a group of ten experts (cardinals, bishops and priests).

The new Code was promulgated by Pope John Paul II on January 25, 1983, in the Apostolic Constitution Sacrae Disciplinae Leges, twenty-four years to the day after John XXIII had announced the reform. In it, the Pope noted the “collegial” character of the work that led to this new Code, as shown by the large number of people who had worked on it:

If we look at the kind of work that preceded the promulgation of the Code, and the way in which it was carried out, especially during the pontificates of Paul VI and John Paul Ist, and from then until today, it must be made absolutely clear that this work was carried out to the end in a marvellously collegial spirit14 . And this is true not only for the material drafting of this work, but also, and in depth, for the very substance of the laws that were drawn up.

Now this note of collegiality which characterizes and distinguishes the whole process of giving birth to this new Code corresponds perfectly to the magisterium and the character of the Second Vatican Council15.

Two Codes, Two Minds

It is interesting to see in what spirit Pope St. Pius X on the one hand, and Pope John Paul II on the other, have endeavored to bring together the ecclesiastical laws in a single Code.

The Intention of St. Pius X

Let us quote here a few lines from the Motu Proprio Arduum Sane Munus of St. Pius X, written only eight months after his election16 , which shows how much the pope considers this task a priority:

As soon as, by a secret council of divine Providence, We assumed the painful task of governing the universal Church, the main goal and the rule which We imposed on Ourselves, as it were, was, as far as Our strength would allow, to restore everything in Christ. […]

But knowing full well that ecclesiastical discipline, above all, must contribute to the restoration of everything in Christ – for if it is well regulated and flourishing, it cannot but be very fruitful in the fruits of salvation – We have directed Our attention and Our paternal solicitude to this area. […]

Many illustrious prelates of the Holy Church, even cardinals, have urged that the laws of the universal Church which have been promulgated up to this time be distributed in a clear and precise order, excluding those which have been abrogated or which have fallen into disuse. The others would, when necessary, be adapted to the needs of our time17 .

The pope is clearly following in the footsteps of his predecessors, updating the laws of the Church in order to effectively implement his program of restoration of all things in Christ.

The Intention of John Paul II

In the Apostolic Constitution Sacrae Disciplinae Leges of January 25, 1983, Pope John Paul II explains the spirit in which he requested the publication of a new Code of Canon Law:

The reform of the Code of Canon Law was clearly desired and requested by the Council itself, for it had devoted the greatest attention to the Church. […]

This is why the Code, not only in its content but already from its inception, has put into action the spirit of the Council, whose documents present the Church, the “universal sacrament of salvation18“, as the People of God, and where its hierarchical constitution appears to be based on the College of Bishops united to its head. […]

This instrument, the Code, corresponds fully to the nature of the Church, especially as described by the magisterium of the Second Vatican Council in general, and in particular in its ecclesiological teaching. In a certain sense, one could even see in this Code a great effort to translate into canonical language this very doctrine of conciliar ecclesiology. If, however, it is not possible to translate perfectly into canonical language the conciliar image of the Church, the Code must nevertheless always be referred to this same image as its primordial exemplar, whose features, by its very nature, it must express as much as possible. […]

As a result, what constitutes the essential novelty of the Second Vatican Council, in continuity with the Church’s legislative tradition, especially with regard to ecclesiology, also constitutes the novelty of the new Code.

Among the elements that characterize the real and authentic image of the Church, we must highlight the following in particular:

– the doctrine according to which the Church presents herself as the People of God (cf. Constitution Lumen Gentium, 2) and hierarchical authority as service (cf. ibid, 3);

– the doctrine which shows the Church as a communion19 and which, therefore, indicates what kind of relationship should exist between the particular Churches and the universal Church, and between collegiality and primacy;

– the doctrine that all members of the People of God, each according to his or her own modality, participate in the threefold function of Christ: the priestly, prophetic and royal functions. Linked to this doctrine is that concerning the duties and rights of the faithful, and in particular the laity; and finally the Church’s commitment to ecumenism. […]

After all these reflections, it remains to hope that the new canonical legislation will become an effective means for the Church to progress in the spirit of Vatican II, and to make herself better adapted each day to fulfill her function of salvation in this world20.

The quote is a bit long, but it was difficult to shorten it.

Pope John Paul II makes it clear that the 1983 Code is a new Code in its conception of the Church as “People of God” and “communion”, and that it was promulgated to advance the Church in the spirit of Vatican II.

The Main Divisions of the Code

The different spirit of the two Codes is first evident in their design.

The 1917 Code

The 1917 Code is divided into five books, which in turn are divided into 107 titles (Tituli):

– Book I: General Norms: of ecclesiastical laws, customs, time calculation, rescripts, privileges, dispensations.

– Book II: Persons: clerics, religious, laity.

– Book III: Things: sacraments, sacred places and times, divine worship, ecclesiastical magisterium, ecclesiastical benefits, temporal goods of the Church.

– Book IV: Trials in justice, causes of beatifications and canonizations, the manner of proceeding in some cases and penal sanctions.

– Book V: Sanctions and Punishments.

The 1983 Code

The 1983 Code does not repeat this division:

It should be noted that the general organization of the new Code is symptomatic of the spirit in which it was composed. The division of legal matters has abandoned the general division of the 1917 Code, which was dependent on the ancient principles of Roman law. […]

Henceforth, the division of the titles of the new Code follows a distribution more in conformity with the directives of the Council and, in the titles themselves which have been adopted, reveals the spirit which animated this reform21 .

– Book I: General Norms: ecclesiastical laws, custom, general decrees and instructions, particular administrative acts, statutes and regulations, natural and juridical persons, the power of government, ecclesiastical offices, prescription, calculation of time.

– Book II: The People of God: the faithful of Christ, the hierarchical constitution of the Church, institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life.

– Book III: The Teaching Function of the Church: the ministry of the Word of God, the missionary activity of the Church, Catholic education, the means of social communication and in particular books, the profession of faith.

– Book IV: The Office of Sanctifying in the Church: the Sacraments, Other Acts of Divine Worship, Sacred Places and Times.

– Book V: The Temporal Goods of the Church.

– Book VI: Sanctions in the Church.

– Book VII: The Trials.

Outline of the 1983 Code

Since this article is not a treatise on Canon Law for specialists, we will not make an exhaustive study. The reader will, however, find sufficient elements to make a judgment on the new legislation.

Book I: General Norms (C. 1-203)

Like the 1917 Code, the 1983 Code begins by establishing “General Norms”. This is Book I, which establishes the main principles governing the constitution and interpretation of ecclesiastical laws.

Although the number of canons has increased from 86 to 203, and there have been some changes in titles and subject matter, there is no significant difference here, between the 1917 and 1983 legislation.

It should be noted, however, from this introduction, that the chapter on ecclesiastical offices, which was in the part dealing with clerics, has been transferred to the General Norms. Canon Paralieu gives the explanation:

Lay people, and even women, can now receive an ecclesiastical office (unless the office involves a full charge of the soul): a lay person can be a diocesan bursar, a woman can be a defender of the [marital] bond in an ecclesiastical Tribunal [Paralieu, p. 75]22 .

With respect to these offices, the 1983 Code states:

To be appointed to an ecclesiastical office, one must be in the communion of the Church [can. 149 § 1].

In itself, this is obvious, but we will see what this notion of “communion” implies today, in connection with the new profession of faith.

Let us now go further into the new legislation.

Book II: The People of God (C. 204-746)

Book II of the new Code, with its 543 canons, is the most important by its length. It constitutes almost a third of the work. But it is especially important for its new conception of the Church.

– Part I: Christ’s faithful (C. 204-329)

1. Preamble (C. 204-207)

– The 1983 Code is based first of all on a new conception of the Church defined as “People of God”, which even gives its title to Book II:

C. 204, § 1: The faithful of Christ are those who, being incorporated into Christ by baptism, are constituted as the people of God and who, for this reason, having been made participants in their own way in the priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ, are called to exercise, each according to his own condition, the mission which God has entrusted to the Church for the accomplishment of this mission in the world.

It should be noted here that the 1983 Code ‑, again for the first time, ‑ uses the name “Christ’s faithful” to designate both the laity and the hierarchical clergy; an egalitarianism which is reinforced by the fact that the Code begins by enumerating the obligations and rights common to all, without distinction (Title I).

On the other hand, while the 1917 Code deals with persons according to a descending hierarchy (clerics, religious, laity), the 1983 Code reverses things by dealing first with the laity (Title II), before examining the legislation concerning clerics (Title III). As for religious, they are relegated to a place after the associations of the faithful (Title V23 ) and the part concerning the hierarchy of the Church.

Let us note paragraph 2 of the same canon with the famous “subsistit in”:

C. 204, § 2: This Church, constituted and organized in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church governed by the Successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him.

The expression is taken from the Vatican II Constitution Lumen Gentium on the Church (I, 8). Traditional teaching expressly states that the Church of Christ is the Catholic Church, which means very clearly that there is absolute identity between the Church founded by Our Lord and the Catholic Church. The other ecclesial communities, falsely qualified as Christian, do not belong to the Church of Christ, but have left it. The expression subsistit in introduces an ambiguity which allows us to maintain that outside the Catholic Church, there are true ecclesial realities24 .

Ecumenism has come.

– In his introduction to Canon Paralieu’s work presenting the new Code, Father de Lanversin explains the reason for the changes:

Book II of the new Code (De Populo Dei) is the one that puts in place the most new elements resulting from the conciliar decisions; and first of all a reversal of the ecclesiological perspectives following the Constitution Lumen Gentium on the Church. In fact, the binomial of the old Law: “hierarchy/people of God” gives way to this one: “people of God/hierarchy”; that is to say, the Church is presented as an evangelical community in which the hierarchy, willed by Christ, is not so much envisaged as a power (potestas) as an office (munus) and a service (diakonia) within the people of God. In the perspective of “ecclesial communion”, this part of the Code sets up the various instances of the “communio hierarchica” within the people of God. In the same way, an entire section of Book II is devoted to the establishment of “organs of participation” in the Church. […] This part of the Code also includes an entire treatise on the laity, without forgetting the right of association of the faithful [p. 24-25].

In his book Church, Ecumenism and Politics, Cardinal Ratzinger explains why this has happened. After recalling that German theologians began criticizing the concept of the Mystical Body in the 1930s25, he adds:

We wondered whether the image of the Mystical Body was not too narrow a starting point for defining the multiple forms of belonging to the Church that are now present in the complicated meanderings of human history. The image of the Body offers only one form of representation of membership, that of member. Either one is a member or one is not, there is no middle ground. But, one might ask, would not the starting point of this image be precisely a little too narrow, since there are obviously intermediate degrees in reality? The concept of the people of God was found, which from this point of view is much broader and more flexible. The Constitution Lumen Gentium makes it its own, in specifying this sense, when it describes the relationship of Catholic Christians with the Catholic Church by the concept of connection (conjunctio)26, and that of non-Christians by the concept of ordination (ordinatio)27. In both cases, the idea of the people of God is used.

It can be said that the concept of the People of God was introduced by the Council primarily as an ecumenical bridge28.

– What do we think of these changes?

This ecumenical notion of the “People of God”, which we shall see has no basis in either Sacred Scripture or the Magisterium, has no basis in history either.

In the Old Testament, God certainly began by forming a people from the twelve sons of Jacob exiled in Egypt, and it was later that he constituted a hierarchy around Moses to guide them. It is worth noting that this people had very precise boundaries, because of the circumcision that distinguished it from all the neighboring peoples. There was no room for “imperfect communion”. One belonged to the people or one did not.

But in the New Covenant, Our Lord began by forming for three years, not a people, but twelve Apostles, to whom he gave a leader, St. Peter; and from Pentecost onwards, it was these same Apostles, with St. Peter at their head, who constituted a people, through baptism, which distinguishes it from other peoples. Very quickly an intermediate hierarchy was established through the ordination of deacons, sub-deacons, etc.

The Magisterium has moreover clearly pronounced itself on this question. Thus, on June 29, 1943 – not so long ago – Pope Pius XII wrote the encyclical Mystici Corporis, on the Church Mystical Body of Jesus Christ.

This doctrine, which Cardinal Ratzinger considers to be “a starting point that is too limited, […] and a little too narrow”, Pius XII recalled that the Church nevertheless “received it from the lips of the Redeemer himself; and it puts in its true light this never sufficiently exalted benefit of our close union with this sublime Head”.

And the Pope continued with St. Paul:

“Christ,” says the Apostle, “is the head of the Body which is the Church” (Col 1:18). If the Church is a Body, it is therefore necessary that it be a single and indivisible organism, according to the words of St. Paul: “Though we are many, we are one Body in Christ” (Rom 12:5). […]

It is therefore a departure from divine truth to imagine a Church that cannot be touched, that is only spiritual, in which the many Christian communities, though divided from one another in faith, are nevertheless united by an invisible bond.

It is the notion of the body that allows us to better understand the need for a hierarchy:

The body, in nature, is not formed of any assemblage of members, but must be provided with organs, that is to say, with members which are not equally active and which are arranged in a suitable order.

It is again the notion of the body that gives the Church its missionary impetus:

Those who do not belong to the visible organism of the Church […] we invite to come out of a state in which no one can be sure of his eternal salvation. […] Let them, therefore, enter into Catholic unity and, united with us in the one organism of the Body of Jesus Christ, let them all run to the one Head in a most glorious society of love.

In fact, with the new conception of the Church as the people of God and a communion, not only has a democratic spirit undermined the authority of the Catholic hierarchy instituted by Our Lord, but the “ecumenical bridge” permitted by the new definition of the Church has opened the door to the end of the mission, the essential task which Christ had entrusted to his Apostles:

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned (Mk 16:15-16).

Archbishop Lefebvre considered this change in conception to be exceptionally serious:

There is a new ecclesiology, that’s clear. In my opinion, it is exceptionally serious to be able to say that there can be a new ecclesiology. We are not the ones who make the Church, we are not the ones who made her, not the Pope, not the bishops, not history, not the Councils. It was made by Our Lord. [It does not depend on us. So, how can we suddenly say: “Now, since Vatican II, there is a new ecclesiology”, and this is said by the Pope himself. It is unbelievable29.

(To be continued)

Translation by A. A.

1 – Abbé Louis Coache (1920-1994), Doctor of Canon Law, introduction to his book: Is Canon Law Kind? Beaumont-Pied-de-Bœuf (Moulin du Pin), 1986. The work is an introduction to Canon Law, augmented by a critical study of the new Code. It is a very easy read.

2 – Adrien Cance, Le Code de Droit Canonique, Paris, Gabalda, 1938, p. 8.

3 – Adrien Cance, ibid. , p. 9-10.

4 – Censure is a punishment that the Church inflicts on one of its subjects for his amendment, and of course for the common good. We will discuss this in connection with Book VI of the new Code.

5 – This preamble is inspired by the introduction to the work of Father Coache.

6 – A brief history of Canon Law can be found in the volume by Adrien Cance, Le Code de Droit canonique, Paris, Gabalda, 1938, vol. 1, pp. 6-21, which we have used. A more detailed study has been made by Raoul Naz in his Traité de Droit Canonique, Paris, Letouzey et Ané, 1946, vol. 1, pp. 9-63.

7 – This word comes from the Greek didaskalia which means: teaching.

8 – For a more in-depth study, one can consult here the articles of F. Nau in the DTC: “Canons of the Apostles, Apostolic Constitutions, Didascalia of the Apostles”.

9 – Cardinal Gasparri, in the preface to the 1917 Code.

10 – St. Pius X, Bull Arduum Sane munus, March 19, 1904.

11 – A very valuable work, Canon Law Digest, by the American Father Bouscaren S.J., gathers together all the pontifical documents relating to Canon Law, from 1917 to 1983 (published in Milwaukee, USA, by The Bruce publishing company.

12 – He died of a sudden heart attack just before presenting the final work to Pope John Paul II.

13 – By comparison, the drafting of the 1917 Code had required only ten cardinals under the chairmanship of Cardinal Gasparri, assisted by a small number of consultors. The work lasted thirteen years.

14 – Italics in the original text.

15 – John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Sacræ Disciplinæ Leges, Latin-French Code of Canon Law, Paris, Centurion/Cerf/Tardy, 1984, p. x.

16 – St. Pius X was indeed elected pope on August 4, 1903.

17 – St. Pius X, Motu Proprio Arduum Sane Munus, March 19, 1904, Documents Pontificaux de S.S. Saint Pius X, Publications du Courrier de Rome, 1993, volume 1, p. 152-153.

18 – Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 1, 9, 48.

19 – Italics in the original text.

20 – John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Sacræ Disciplinæ Leges, 25 January 1983, reproduced in the work Code of Canon Law, Official Text and French Translation, Paris, Centurion/Cerf/Tardy, 1984, pp. IX ff.

21 – Roger Paralieu, Guide Pratique du Code de Droit canonique, Bourges, Tardy, 1985, p. 23. Preface by Cardinal Etchegaray.

22 – We will speak a little later about the influence of feminism in the Church today, in the section on institutes of consecrated life.

23 – Title IV is like a parenthesis which deals with personal prelatures, a novelty of Vatican II.

24 – On this expression Subsistit in, we can see, among others, the explanations of the Catholic Catechism of the Crisis in the Church, question 45 (in Le Sel de la terre 51, p. 19-20).

25 – So it was under Pope Pius XI. Modernism was acting in a subterranean way, waiting to show itself in the open during the Council.

26 – “The word “connection” means that there is some imperfect fellowship in Christ” (book note).

27 – “The word ordination means that there is some still more imperfect communion in the same God or about the same” (book note).

28 – Joseph Ratzinger, Église, Œcuménisme et Politique, Paris, Fayard, 1987, p. 27. To deepen this new conception of the Church, one can refer to the article by Brother Pierre-Marie o.p. “Comparative Ecclesiology”, published in Le Sel de la terre 97, Summer 2016.

29 – Archbishop Lefebvre, spiritual conference of March 17, 1986 in Ecône (in CD #2, The Holy Church).

The Ladder of Paradise – Simple Method to Reach the Heights of Mystical Life

The Ladder of Paradise

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Simple Method to Reach the Heights of Mystical Life

by Guigues the Carthusian

(XI Century)

We present here extracts of a text from the Middle Ages, published by “Les Éditions du Sel” in Avrillé, to raise your souls above the turmoils of this world, who rejected the Kingship of Our Lord. Spirituality is the strength of the Catholics in times of crisis.


The Four Degrees of the Spiritual Exercises

One day, while I was thinking about the exercises of the spiritual man, I suddenly saw four degrees: 1) reading, 2) meditation, 3) prayer, 4) contemplation.

This is the ladder of the contemplative souls, which takes them up from earth to Heaven.

It has few rungs: it is very high, however, and incredibly long. The base rests on the earth; the top surpasses the clouds and penetrates the depths of the Heavens. From these rungs the name, number, order and use are distinct. If one carefully studies their properties, functions and hierarchy, soon this careful study will seem short and easy, so useful and gentle will it be.

Reading is the attentive study of Sacred Scripture, made by an applied mind.

Meditation is the careful investigation, with the help of reason, of a hidden truth.

Prayer is the elevation of the heart to God to ward off evil and obtain good.

Contemplation is the elevation to God of the soul delighted in the savor of eternal joys.

**

Having defined the four rungs, let us look at the function of each of them.

The ineffable sweetness of the blessed life – reading seeks it, meditation finds it, prayer asks for it, contemplation savors it. This is the very word of the Lord: “Seek and you will find. Knock and it will be opened to you”. Seek while reading, you will find while meditating. Knock while praying, you will enter while contemplating.

I would like to say that reading brings substantial food to the mouth, meditation grinds and chews it, prayer tastes it, and contemplation is the very sweetness that rejoices and makes you happy. Reading stops at the bark, meditation goes into the marrow, prayer expresses the desire, but contemplation revels in the savor of the sweetness obtained.

For a better understanding, here is an example among many others. I read the Gospel: “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God”; short maxim, but full of meaning, infinitely sweet. To the thirsty soul it offers itself like a bunch of grapes. The soul looks at it and says: this word will be good for me. Gather yourself my heart, try to understand and above all to find this purity. Oh how precious and desirable it must be, since it purifies those it inhabits, and has the promise of the divine vision – eternal life, since the Holy Scriptures never cease to praise it!

Then, the desire to understand better invades the soul: and it seizes the mystical bunch, it gathers it up, it crushes it, it puts it in the press, and it says to reason: look and seek what it is, tell me how one acquires this so precious and desirable purity of heart.

II  Meditation

The soul then approaches to meditate on the text. What then does attentive meditation do? It is not enough for it to approach: it penetrates the text, it goes to the bottom, it scrutinizes the hidden corners. And first of all, it notices that the Lord did not say: “Blessed are those who have a body, but a pure heart”, for it would be little to have hands free from evil works if the mind were stained with perverse thoughts. The Prophet had already said, “Who will climb the mountain of the Lord? Who will stand in his sanctuary? He who has innocent hands and a pure heart.” (Ps 23:3).

The meditation notes again what powerful desire the Prophet called this purity of heart, since he said in his prayer, “Lord, create in me a pure heart, for if iniquity is in my heart, the Lord will not be able to hear me”. With what care Job watched over this intimate purity, he who said: “With my eyes I made a pact not to think even of a virgin” (Job 31:1). This holy man had to close his eyes to useless things so that he could not see what he would unconsciously desire afterwards.

Having thus scrutinized purity of heart, one continues one’s meditation by examining the reward promised to him. O glorious and delectable reward! Contemplate the longed-for Face of the Lord, beautiful beyond all the beauty of the children of men! The Lord, no longer abject and vile in that appearance with which his mother in the Synagogue clothed him, but adorned with immortality, crowned with the diadem which his Father imposed on him on the day of his resurrection and glory, “the day which the Lord made“. And in his meditation, the soul thinks of how full that vision will be, how overflowing his joy will be… “I shall be filled with joy as I contemplate your glory, says the Prophet” (Ps 16:15).

Ah! What generous and abundant wine flows from the little grape! What a fire has been kindled by the spark! As she lays down on the anvil of meditation, the small mass of metal, that short text: “Blessed are those who are pure of heart, for they shall see God”. And how much more would it lengthen if it were worked by an experienced servant of God! Yes, the well is deep, but, poor novice, I was only able to draw from it a few droplets.

**

What will she do, the poor soul, burning with the desire of this purity that she cannot attain? The more it seeks it, the more it thirsts for it; the more it thinks about it, the more it suffers from not possessing it, for meditation excites the desire for this innocence without giving it water. No, it is neither reading nor meditation that makes one savor its sweetness: it must be given from above.

The wicked as well as the good read and meditate; pagan philosophers, guided by reason, have glimpsed the sovereign Good, but because “knowing God, they did not glorify him as God” (Rom 1:21), and proud of their strength, they said: “We will exalt our tongue, our goods are ours, who is our master?” (Ps 11:5) They did not deserve to find what they had glimpsed. “Their thoughts vanished” (Rom 1:21) and “all their wisdom was devoured” (Ps 106:27), for it came from a human source, not from that Spirit who alone gives true wisdom, which is that savory knowledge which, uniting itself to the soul, pours out priceless sweetness, joy and comfort, and of which it is written: Wisdom does not enter the soul that wants evil. It proceeds from God alone. The Lord has entrusted to many the office of baptism, to few the power to forgive sins, he has reserved this power for himself. As St. John says of him, “This is He who baptizes,” so we can say: this is He who alone gives the savory wisdom that enables the soul to taste it. The text is offered to many, but few receive wisdom. The Lord infuses it to whom He will and how He will.

III  Prayer

The soul understood: this knowledge so longed for, this sweet experience, it will never reach them by its own strength alone; the more its heart rushes forward, the more God appears to it. Then it humbles itself and takes refuge in prayer.

O my Lord, whom only pure hearts can see, I have sought, through reading and meditation, true purity so that I may become able to know you a little. “I have sought your face, O my Lord, I have desired to see Thy adorable Face” (Ps 26:8). “For a long time I meditated in my heart and in my meditation a fire was kindled, the desire to know Thou more and more” (Ps 38:4). When you break the bread of Scripture, I already know you, but the more I know you, O my Lord, the more I want to know you, not only in the crust of the letter, but in the reality of union. And this gift, O my Lord, I implore, not by my merits, but by your mercy. It is true, I am an unworthy sinner, but don’t the little dogs themselves eat the crumbs that have fallen from the master’s table? To my distressed soul, O God, give a deposit on the promised inheritance, at least a drop of heavenly dew to quench my thirst, for I burn with love, O my Lord.

IV  Contemplation

With such ardent words, the soul inflames its desire and calls the Bridegroom by incantation of tenderness. And the Bridegroom, Whose gaze rests on the just and whose ears are so attentive to their prayers that He does not even wait for them to be fully expressed, the Bridegroom suddenly interrupts this prayer: He comes to the greedy soul, He flows into it, moistened with the heavenly dew, anointed with precious perfumes; He restores the tired soul; He feeds it, fainting; He waters it, parched; He makes it forget the earth, and from His presence He detaches it from everything, marvelously He strengthens it, invigorates it and intoxicates it.

In certain coarse acts, the soul is so strongly chained by lust that it loses its reason and the whole man becomes carnal. In this sublime contemplation, on the contrary, the instincts of the body are so consumed and absorbed by the soul that the flesh no longer fights the spirit in any way, and man becomes all spiritual.


What Are the Signs That We Recognize the Coming of the Holy Ghost

O my Lord, how will I know the time of this visit? At what sign will I recognize Your coming? Are sighs and tears the messengers and witnesses of this consoling joy? What indeed is the relationship between consolation and sighs, joy and tears? But can we say that they are tears? Is it not rather the intimate dew poured from above, overflowing, to purify the inner man and overflowing? In baptism the external ablution signifies and operates the internal purification of the child: here, on the contrary, the intimate purification precedes the external ablution and is manifested through it. O happy tears, new baptism of the soul through which the fire of sins is extinguished! “Blessed are thou who weep, thus you will laugh” (Mt 5:5).

In these tears, O my soul, acknowledge your Bridegroom, unite yourself to your desire. To His torrent of delights intoxicate yourself, suckle with the milk and honey of His consolation. These sighs and tears are the marvelous gifts of the Bridegroom, the drink that He measures out for the day and night, the bread that strengthens thy heart, sweeter in its bitterness than the honeycomb.

O Lord Jesus, if they are so sweet, the tears that flow from a heart that desires you, what will be the joy of a soul to whom You show Yourself in the clear eternal vision! If it is so sweet to weep while desiring you, what a delight it is to enjoy you!

But why desecrate before all, these intimate secrets? Why in banal words try to translate inexpressible tenderness? One who has not experienced them, will not understand. One reads these mysterious colloquies only from the book of experience, or is instructed in them only by divine action. The page is closed, insipid the book to the one whose heart does not know how to illuminate the external letter with the sense of intimate experience.

VI  The Spouse Retires for a While Shut Up, My Soul, You’re Talking Too Much

It was good up there, with Peter and John, contemplating the glory of the Bridegroom. Oh, stay with Him for a long time, and if He had wanted to, raise not two or three tents, but only one to dwell in together in His joy.

But already the Bridegroom cried out, “Let me go, behold, the dawn is coming up”: you have received the bright grace and the visit so longed for. And He blesses you, and like the angel to Jacob in the past, He mortifies the sinew of your thigh (Gn. 32:25,31), He changes your name from Jacob to Israel, and behold, He seems to withdraw. The long-awaited Bridegroom quickly hides Himself, the vision of contemplation fades away, His sweetness vanishes.

But He, the Bridegroom, remains present in your heart and governs it, always.

*

Fear not, O wife, do not despair and do not think yourself despised if sometimes your Bridegroom veils His face. All this is for your own good; both His departure and His coming are a gain. It is for your sake that He comes and for your sake that He withdraws. He comes to comfort you, He withdraws to guard you, lest, intoxicated with His sweet presence, you should be proud. If the Bridegroom were always substantially present, would you not be tempted to despise your companions and to believe that this presence is due to you, when it is a pure gift granted by the Bridegroom, to whom He wills and when He wills, over which you have no right? The proverb says: “Familiarity breeds contempt“. To avoid this disrespectful familiarity He shuns you. Absent, you desire Him more strongly; your desire makes you seek Him more ardently, and your expectation more tenderly finds it.

And then, if consolation were here on earth all the time – though beside eternal glory it is enigma and shadow – we would perhaps believe that we have here the permanent city and we would look less for the future City. Oh, no, let us not take exile for the fatherland, and the deposit for the inheritance.

The Bridegroom comes, He goes, consoling, desolating; He lets us taste a little of His ineffable sweetness; but before it enters you, He shuns, He is gone. Now this is to teach us to fly to the Lord. Like the eagle, He spreads his wings widely over us, and provokes us to soar. And He said, “You have tasted a little of the sweetness of my gentleness. Would you like to eat some? Run, fly, to my perfumes, lift up your hearts to the top, where I am at the right hand of the Father, where you will see Me, no longer as a figure or enigma, but face to face, in the full, total joy that no one will ever be able to take from you”.

**

Spouse of Christ, understand this well: when the Bridegroom retires, He is not far from you. You no longer see Him, but He keeps looking at you. You can never escape His sight, ever. His messengers, the angels, were spying on your life when He hid, and they would soon have accused you if they saw you light and unclean. He is jealous, the Bridegroom, and if your soul would admit another love and seek to please someone, He would immediately forsake you to unite with the more faithful virgins. He is delicate, noble, rich, the most beautiful of the children of men: therefore he wants in His wife [your soul] all beauty, and if He sees in you a stain or a wrinkle, He will turn away His eyes, for He cannot suffer any impurity. Therefore be chaste, reverent, and humble before Him, and you shall receive His visit often.

***

I got carried away with my speech, I was too long. But how can I resist the training of such a fertile and gentle subject? These beautiful things have captivated me. But let’s summarize for clarity:

All the degrees on our scale stand together and depend on each other:

Reading is the foundation; it provides the material and commits you to meditation.

Meditation carefully searches for what to desire, it digs and uncovers the desired treasure; but unable to grasp it, it excites us to pray.

Prayer, rising with all its strength to the Lord, asks for the desirable treasure of contemplation.

Finally, contemplation comes to reward the work of her three sisters and intoxicates the altered soul of God with the sweet heavenly dew.

Reading is therefore an external exercise. It is the level of the beginners.

Meditation, an inner act of the intelligence. It is the rung of those who progress.

Prayer, the action of a soul full of desire. It is the rung of those who are God’s.

Contemplation surpasses all feeling and knowledge. It is the rung of the blessed.

VII  Reading, Meditation, Prayer and Contemplation Support Each Other

Reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation are so strongly linked to each other, and help each other so much that the first are of no use without the last, and that one never, or by great exception, reaches the latter only by passing through the latter. What is the use of spending our time reading the lives and writings of the saints if, in meditating and ruminating on them, we do not draw the juice from them, and make it our own and go down to the depths of our hearts? Vain will be our readings, if we do not take care to compare our lives with those of the saints and if we allow ourselves to be carried away by the curiosity of reading rather than by the desire to imitate their examples.

On the other hand, how can we keep on the right path and avoid errors or childishness, how can we remain within the just limits set by our fathers without serious reading or learned teaching? For in the term of reading we understand teaching; is it not commonly said: the book I read, although sometimes it was received through the teaching of a master?

In the same way, it will be vain to meditate on one of our duties, if it is not completed and strengthened by the prayer that obtains the grace to fulfill that duty, for “every exquisite gift, every perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights” (Jac. 1:17), without whom we can do nothing. He works in us, but not entirely without us, for, says the Apostle (I Cor. 3:9): “we are cooperators with God”. He deigns to take us as helpers of His works and, when He knocks at the door, He asks us to open to Him the secret of our will and consent.

To the Samaritan woman the Savior asked for this will, when He said to her: “Call your husband”; that is to say, here is my grace; you, apply your free will. He excited her to prayer by saying: “If you knew the gift of God and the one who says to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would certainly ask Him for the living water”. For this woman, as though instructed by meditation, said in her heart, “This water would be good for me”; and inflamed with longing, she began to pray: “O Lord, give me this water that I may never thirst again and come to this well”. The divine word heard, invited her heart to meditate, and then to pray. How would she have been inclined to pray if the meditation had not ignited her desire? And, on the other hand, what use would it have been to her to see spiritual goods in meditation if she had not obtained them through prayer?

What, then, is fruitful meditation? That which blossoms in fervent prayer, which almost ordinarily obtains the most suave contemplation.

*

Thus, without meditation, reading will be arid.

Without reading, meditation will be full of errors.

Without meditation, prayer will be lukewarm.

Without prayer, meditation will be unfruitful and vain.

When prayer and devotion are united, they obtain contemplation. On the contrary, it would be a rare exception and even a miracle to obtain contemplation without prayer.

The Lord, whose power is infinite and whose mercy marks all His works, can well turn stones into children of Abraham, by forcing hard and rebellious hearts to want good. A prodigy of His grace: He pulls the bull by the horns, as one says vulgarly, when, unexpectedly, He melts with a quick blow in the soul. He is the sovereign Master; and so He did in Saint Paul and in a few other chosen ones. But we must not wait for such prodigies and tempt God. Let us do what is asked of us: let us read and meditate on the divine Law, let us pray to the Lord to help so much weakness, to look at so much misery. “Ask and you will receive, He Himself told us, seek and you will find knock and you will be opened. The kingdom of Heaven suffers violence and it is the violent who prevail” (Mt 7:7; 11:12).

**

Blessed is he who, detached from creatures, is constantly practicing to climb these four degrees! Blessed is he who winds all he possesses to acquire the field where the treasure so desirable of contemplation lies, and to taste how sweet the Lord is! Applied to the first degree, prudent to the second, fervent to the third, delighted to the last, of virtue in virtue he ascends in his heart the steps that lead him to the vision of the Lord in Sion. Blessed at last is he who can stop at the top, if only for a moment, and say: I taste the grace of the Lord; behold, with Peter and John on the mountain I contemplate His glory; I have gone with Jacob to Rachel’s caresses.

But let him take heed, this happy one, not to choose sadly from the heavenly contemplation in the darkness of the abyss, from the divine vision in the worldly vanities and impure fancies of the flesh.

The poor human soul is weak, it cannot sustain for long the radiant splendor of the Truth: it will therefore be necessary for it to descend one or two degrees and rest quietly in one or the other, according to her will or to the graces she receives, absolutely remaining as near from God as possible.

O sad condition of human weakness! Reason and Holy Scripture agree that these four degrees lead to perfection, and that spiritual men must work to practice them: but who does this? A lot begin. A few goes to the end. May God permit us to belong to this few number of souls!

VIII  Of the Soul That Loses the Grace of Contemplation

Four obstacles can prevent us from climbing these degrees: 1) inevitable necessity, 2) the usefulness of a good work, 3) human weakness, 4) worldly vanity.

The first is excusable; the second, acceptable; the third, pitiful; the fourth, guilty.

Yes, for him who departs from his holy resolution out of worldly vanity, it would be better to have always ignored the glory of God than to refuse it after having known it. How can one excuse such a fault? To this unfaithful person the Lord reproves justly: “What could I have done that I did not do for you?” (Is 5:4). You were nothing, I gave you being; a sinner and slave of the devil, I redeemed you; with the ungodly you wandered through the world, I took you back by choice of love, I gave you My grace and established you in My presence; in your heart I chose My dwelling place: and you despised Me; My invitations, My love, I in the end. You threw everything away to run after your lusts.

O God, infinitely good, sweet, gentle; tender friend and cautious adviser: how foolish and foolhardy is he who repels You and drives from his heart such a humble and compassionate guest! Wretched and damnable exchange: drive out his Creator to hospitalize impure and perverse thoughts; deliver the dear, closed retreat of the Holy Ghost, still embalmed with the recent heavenly joys, to low thoughts and sin; profane with adulterous desires the still warm remains of the Bridegroom. O shocking ungodliness! Those ears which a short while ago listened to the colloquies that man cannot repeat, are now filled with lies and calumnies; those eyes, purified by holy tears, are pleasing to vanities; those lips barely cease to sing the divine epithalam and the burning canticles of love which united the husband and the wife introduced into the mystical cellar, and there they say vanities, trickery and slander. O Lord, preserve us from such falls!

If, however, human weakness in this misfortune causes you to fall, do not despair, frail soul; no, never despair, but run to the gentle Physician who “raises from the ground the needy and the poor from their dunghill” (Ps 112:7). He does not want the sinner to die. He will help you and heal you.

Conclusion

I have to close my letter. I pray the Lord to weaken today, to remove tomorrow from our soul every obstacle to contemplation. May He lead us from virtue to virtue to the top of the mysterious ladder to the vision of the Divinity in Sion. There, it is no longer drip by drip and intermittently that His chosen ones will taste the sweetness of this divine contemplation; but always flooded by this torrent of joy, they will possess forever the joy that no one can take away, the immutable peace, the peace in Him! O Gervais, my brother, when by the grace of the Lord you have reached the top of the mysterious ladder, remember me, and in your happiness, pray for me. Let the curtain be drawn to you, and let Him who hears say: Come!

The end

Devotion to the Holy Face and the Golden Arrow ​Sister Marie de Saint-Pierre (1816-1848)

Devotion to the Holy Face and the Golden Arrow

Sister Marie de Saint-Pierre (1816-1848)

from Le Sel de la terre 110, Autumn 2019

(continued)

Gravity of Blasphemy

“He made me understand that men are incapable of understanding the insult done to God by this sin of blasphemy; blasphemies pierce His heart and make Him a second Lazarus covered with wounds (Luke 16, 20). He invited me to imitate the dogs who comforted poor Lazarus by coming to lick his wounds; I would do Him a great service by employing my tongue to glorify every day the most holy Name of God despised and blasphemed by sinners, without considering whether this exercise gave me interior consolations; it would be enough for me to think that I was healing His divine wounds and causing Him great satisfaction.”

The Holy Face of Christ Offended by Blasphemies

“I understood that, as the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the sensitive object offered to our adoration to represent His immense Love in the most holy Sacrament of the altar, so, in the work of reparation, the Face of Our Lord is the sensitive object offered to the adoration of the associates to repair the outrages of the blasphemers who attack the Divinity of which it is the figure, mirror, and expression. By the virtue of this adorable Face, presented to the eternal Father, we can appease His anger and obtain the conversion of the impious and blasphemers.”

“Our Lord made me see that the Church, His Spouse, is His mystical Body, and that religion was the face of this body; then He showed me this face in the face of the enemies of His Name, and I saw that the blasphemers and the sectarians were renewing on the Holy Face of Our Lord all the opprobrium of His Passion. I saw, thanks to this divine light, that the impious, by uttering evil words and blaspheming the Holy Name of God, were spitting on the Face of the Savior and covering it with mud; that all the blows given by the sectarians to the holy Church, to religion, were the renewal of the many blows that the Face of Our Lord received, and that these unfortunate people were making this august Face sweat by striving to annihilate its works.

“Our Lord showed me, with the help of a simple and just comparison, that the impious by their blasphemies attacked His adorable Face, and that the faithful glorified it by the homage of praise rendered to His Name and to His person.

“Merit is in persons, but the glory that accompanies them is in their name; it bursts forth when it is pronounced; the merit or demerit of a person passes into his name. The most holy Name of God expresses the divinity, and contains in it all the perfections of the Creator; it follows from this that the blasphemers of this sacred Name attack God himself. Now let us remember these words of Jesus: “the Father is in me and I in the Father.” (Jn. 10:38). Jesus made Himself passible by the Incarnation; and He suffered, in His adorable Face, the outrages done by the blasphemers to the Name of God, His Father.”

“Our Lord has shown me that there is something mysterious about the face of a despised man of honor; yes, I see that his name and his face have a special connection. Behold a man distinguished by his name and merits, in the presence of his enemies; they do not lay hands on him, but they overwhelm him with insults, they add bitter derision to his name, instead of the titles which are due to him. Notice then what happens to the face of this insulted man; would you not say that all the outrageous words that come out of the mouths of his enemies come to rest on his face and cause him to suffer a real torment? We see this face covered with redness, shame, and confusion; the opprobrium and ignominy it suffers are more cruel to bear than real torments in the other parts of its body. Well, here is a weak portrait of the Face of Our Lord outraged by the blasphemies of the impious! Let us represent this same man in the presence of his friends, who, having learned of the insults he has received, hasten to console him, to treat him according to his dignity, pay homage to the greatness of his name by calling him by all his titles of honor; do you not then see the face of this man feel the sweetness of these praises Glory rests on his forehead and, shining on his face, makes it all shiny: joy shines in his eyes, a smile is on his lips; in a word, his faithful friends have healed the bitter pain of this face outraged by his enemies, glory has passed the reproach. This is what the friends of Jesus do through the work of reparation; the glory they give to His Name rests on this august forehead, and rejoices His most Holy Face, in a very special way, in the most holy Sacrament of the altar.”

Healing the Blasphemers

• 3 November 1845:

According to the care you will take to repair My portrait, which was disfigured by blasphemers, I will take care to repair yours, which was disfigured by sin. I will reprint My image on it, and I will make it as beautiful as it was when it came out of the font of baptism. Abandon yourself therefore into My hands and be willing to suffer all the operations necessary for the restoration of this image. Do not be troubled if you experience sadness and darkness, for you know that in an image, the dark colors serve to bring out those that are more vivid. Men have the art of restoring bodies; but only I can be called the restorer of souls, and who restores them to the image of God. I have made known to you this work of reparation, I have shown you its excellence, and now I promise you the reward.”

“Oh! If you could see the beauty of my Face! Your eyes are still too weak!

• 5 January 1846:

Our Lord made me aware that Lucifer willingly left to other demons the care of leading other flocks of sinners, such as for example: the impure, the drunkards, the greedy; but the blasphemers form his favorite flock. He made it known to me that this work of reparation embraces not only the reparation of blasphemy proper, but also that of all other blasphemies uttered against religion and the Church; however, it applies especially to blasphemies of the Holy Name of God.”

[…]

Changing the Wine of Justice Into the Wine of Mercy

“I saw other punishments prepared to satisfy this Justice. When I saw this, I said to Our Lord : Sweet Jesus, if only I could drink the rest of this cup, so that my brothers might be spared!”

“He answered me that He accepted my good will, but that I was not capable of emptying this cup, and that only He could drink it. The Savior, seeing my pain, beckoned me to enter His divine Heart; in His excessive mercy, He gave it to me as a vessel worthy of being presented to the eternal Father to receive this wine of His wrath, making me understand that, passing through this channel, it would be changed for us into the wine of mercy. But He does not want to entirely infringe the rights of justice; if I may express myself in this way, He wants to make a covenant between His justice and His mercy, and for this purpose He asks for the establishment of the work of Reparation to the glory of His Name. Yes, He will disarm the anger of God, His Father, if He offers Him a work of reparation for us! Is it not the least we can do, O sweet Jesus, to make reparation by our prayers, by our groans and by our adoration, for the enormous sins of which we are guilty towards the majesty of God? This, Mother, is the prayer that Our Lord put into my mouth, and which I want to repeat unceasingly:

Eternal Father, look upon the divine Heart of Jesus which I offer to you to receive the wine of your justice, so that it may be changed for us into the wine of mercy’.

He made me understand that, each time I made this offering, I would obtain a drop of this wine of divine anger, which, falling, as I said above, into the vessel of the sacred Heart of Jesus, would change into the liquor of mercy.”

Waging War on the Communists

In 1847, the League of Communists was founded in London. Two of its members, Marx and Engels, received the mission to write the doctrinal manifesto that appeared in February 1848 under the title Manifesto of the Communist Party 1.

On March 14, 1847, Sister Marie de Saint-Pierre wrote to her superior:

“Our Lord today, after Holy Communion, made me understand that the plagues we have been struck with were only the forerunners of those which His justice is preparing for us if His anger is not appeased, and He showed me the sins of blasphemy and the profanations of Sunday under the emblem of two pumps, with which the men who are guilty of these crimes draw the waters of His wrath over France and expose themselves to being submerged by them, if this work of reparation which He gives her in his mercy as a means of salvation is not established. Then He told me that the sectarians called Communists had only made one excursion: ‘Oh’! He added, ­‘if you knew their secret and diabolical machinations, and their anti-Christian principles! They are only waiting for a favorable day to set fire to France. Ask, therefore, for the work of Reparation to whom it belongs, in order to obtain mercy.’”

• 29 March 1847:

“Our Lord has entrusted me with a new mission which I would be afraid of if I were anything; but as I am nothing but a weak instrument in His powerful hand, I am perfectly at peace.

He commanded me to make war on the communists, whom He told me were the enemies of the Church and of His Christ, making me understand that these lion cubs were, for the most part, born in the Church whose cruel enemies they now declared themselves to be. Then He added:

I have made it known to you that I hold you in My hands like an arrow. Now I want to shoot this arrow at My enemies. I give you the weapons of My Passion to fight them: My Cross, whose enemies they are, and the other instruments of My torture. Go to them with the simplicity of a child and the courage of a valiant soldier. Receive, for this mission, the blessing of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost’.

Then I prayed to the Blessed Virgin to be the custodian of these divine weapons, given to me by her dearest Son, who is compared to the Tower of David, from which hang a thousand shields. Our Lord gave me, on this subject, several other lights which it would not be easy for me to relate. “Lord,” I said, “train my hands for battle, and teach me to use your instruments.

He said to me:

The weapons of My enemies give death, but Mine give life.’

How to Fight the Enemies of God

This is the prayer I often recite for this purpose:

Eternal Father, I offer you, against the camp of your enemies, the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ and all the instruments of His holy Passion, that You may put division between them; for, as Your beloved Son has said, every kingdom divided against itself will be destroyed [Mt. 12:25].

[…] Jesus gives me grace to draw my weapons; today, after Holy Communion, He encouraged me to fight, and He promised to give me a cross of honor, which, He told me, would open heaven for me, if I were faithful […]. But, Reverend Mother, after having fought the enemies of God with all my strength during these three days of feasting, I now feel almost contrition. I explain myself: it is because I fear having made imprecations against them.

I know that the holy King David does the same in his psalms (108, for example); but I do not know if I am allowed to do so. Finally, I have said everything that Our Lord, it seems to me, inspired me to say; if it is wrong, and I am mistaken, I will not do it again.

I will tell you that I begin by placing my soul in the hands of Our Lord; then I beg him to bend His bow and shoot His arrows at His enemies; then I fight them first by His Cross and by the instruments of His Passion, as He taught me; then by the virtue of the most holy Name of God. And this is my concern for the imprecations, for if it is wrong, I have repeated these words a hundred times; but I had no intention of wishing harm to these criminal people; I am only angry at their malice and their passions; I only want to kill the old man in them. So this is what I say:

Let God arise, let His enemies be dispelled, and let all those who hate Him flee from His face.

May the name of the thrice holy God overturn all their plans.

May the sacred name of the living God divide all their feelings.

May the terrible name of the God of eternity destroy their impiety.

I say some more, and when I have thus beaten them well, I add:

I do not want the sinner to die, but to be converted and live. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” [Lk. 23:34]

I do these exercises without restraint of spirit and with great ease, because I let myself be led by the grace that guides me.

PROMISES OF OUR LORD JESUS-CHRIST

revealed to sister Marie de Saint-Pierre

1. By offering My Face to My Eternal father, nothing will be refused, and the conversion of many sinners will be obtained.

2. By My Holy Face, they will work wonders, appease the anger of God, and drow down mercy on sinners.

3. All those who honor my Face in a spirit of reparation, will by so doing perform the office of the pious Veronica.

4. According to the care they take in making reparation to my Face disfigured by blasphemers, so will I take care of their souls which have been disfigured by sin. My Face is the Seal of the Divinity, which has the virtue of reproducing in souls the image of God.

5. Those who, by words, prayers or writings defend My cause in the work of reparation, especially My priests, I will defend before My Father, and will give them My kingdom.

6. As in a kingdom they can procure all that is desired with a coin stamped with the king’s effigy, so in the Kingdom of Heaven they will obtain all they desire with the precious coin of My Holy Face.

7. Those who on earth contemplate the wounds of My Face shall in Heaven behold it radiant with glory.

8. They will receive in their souls a bright and constant irradiation of My Divinity, that they by their likeness to My Face they shall shine with particular splendor in Heaven.

9. I will defend them; I will preserve them, and I assure them of final perseverance.

Devotion to the Holy Face and the Golden Arrow

Devotion to the Holy Face and the Golden Arrow

​  Sister Marie de Saint-Pierre (1816-1848)

  from Le Sel de la terre 110, Autumn 2019

1. A Life Hidden in God

Perrine ELUERE, who was to become Sister Marie de Saint-Pierre in the Carmelite Order, was born on October 4, 1816 in Rennes (French Britanny). Born into a family of twelve children, she lost her mother at the age of twelve and asked the Blessed Virgin to be her mother.

Deciding to become a nun, she had to wait several years before realizing her vocation and invoked Saint Martin of Tours for this intention. On November 11, 1839, her feast day, she left Rennes for the Carmel of Tours.

There she was favored with revelations from Christ, on the gravity of blasphemy and desecration of Sundays and the need to make reparation for so many crimes that directly offend God. Jesus taught her a prayer of reparation – The Golden Arrow and also asked for the establishment of a brotherhood of reparation. He entrusted France to her prayers.

Sister Marie de Saint-Pierre lived in great devotion to the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Very humble, helpful, and patient, she accepted the most modest tasks with obedience, following the example of the Child Jesus.

Put to the test by her superiors, to whom she had opened up about the revelations she had received, she always showed obedience and humility. Stricken with pulmonary tuberculosis, she died in the odor of sanctity on July 8, 1848, in her thirty-third year, after a painful agony.

Six months after her death, in January 1849, a miracle in Rome popularized devotion to the Holy Face throughout Christendom and encouraged the saintly man from Tours, Mr. Dupont, to exhibit the image in his salon, which quickly became a very popular oratory because of the miracles that multiplied there.

But even before that, Mr. Dupont, who knew Sister Marie de Saint-Pierre personally, advised everyone to pray at her tomb to ask for graces. Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, in turn, had a special devotion to the Carmelite nun of Tours, from whom she drew inspiration for her childlike way.

2. Making Reparation for the Blasphemies and Offenses Against God

The Golden Arrow

On August 26, 1843, during the evening prayer, Sister Marie de Saint-Pierre received the inspiration to spread a devotion named The Golden Arrow. The holy man from Tours, Mr. Dupont, who learned about it later, saw it as a response from Heaven, for he had prepared the feast of St. Louis (August 25) with a novena asking the holy king for his intercession and help in the fight against blasphemy in France. Sister Marie de Saint-Pierre reported to her Mother Superior in these words:

Our Lord opened His Heart to me, gathered the powers of my soul in it, and addressed these words to me: ‘My Name is blasphemed everywhere; even children blaspheme!’ “And He made me hear how this awful sin hurt His divine Heart more painfully than all the others; by blasphemy, the sinner curses Him to his face, attacks Him openly, annihilates the Redemption, and pronounces himself his condemnation and his judgment. Blasphemy is a poisoned arrow, which continually wounds His Heart: He told me that He wanted to give me a golden arrow to wound Him delightfully, and to heal the wounds of malice that sinners make Him.”

Here is the formula of praise that Our Lord, in spite of my great unworthiness, dictated to me for the reparation of blasphemies against his holy Name. He gave it to me like a golden arrow, assuring me that every time I say it, I will wound his Heart with a wound of love:

Golden Arrow:

May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible, and ineffable Name of God be forever praised, blessed, loved, adored, and glorified forever in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Most holy Sacrament of the Altar. So be it.

Our Lord, having given me this golden arrow, added: ‘Pay attention to this favor, for I will ask you to give an account.’”

At that moment it seemed to me that streams of grace for the conversion of sinners were coming out of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, wounded by this golden arrow.

Jesus’ Great Desire: to Glorify the Name of the Father

A month later (September 29, feast of St. Michael), the sister communicated to her Mother Superior:

Our Lord inspired me to join to the praise of the Golden Arrow some prayers to make reparation, by twenty-four adorations, the blasphemies professed at each hour of the day, and He was kind enough to let me know that He accepted this exercise. This divine Savior made me share in the desire He feels to see the Name of His Father glorified; He told me to apply myself to praising and blessing this adorable Name, in imitation of the angels who sing in heaven perpetually: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus; and thus I will fulfill the order He gave me to honor His Heart and that of His holy Mother, for they are both wounded by blasphemy. He also made me understand that this would not prevent me from honoring Him in His mysteries, as I am accustomed to do, because in all the mysteries of His life His Heart has suffered for the sin of blasphemy.

Gravity of the Desecration of Sundays

On November 24, the sister relayed these words of Our Lord:

The earth is covered with crimes! The breaking of the first three commandments of God has angered My Father; the blasphemy of the Holy Name of God and the profanation of the Holy Day of Sunday have added to the measure of iniquity; these sins have reached the throne of God and provoked His wrath, which will be poured out if His Justice is not appeased. I desire, but with a strong desire, that a well-approved and well-organized association be formed to honor my Father’s name.

[…]

3. The Holy Face of Our Lord

Offering Jesus to His Father

On December 25, 1843, Sister Marie de Saint-Pierre made an act of perfect donation to the Most Holy Child Jesus according to the extent of His will for the accomplishment of His designs to the glory of the Holy Name of God. From this date on, Jesus asked her to join devotion to His holy Face to acts of reparation against blasphemies:

He said to me, ‘Just as in a kingdom you can get everything you want with a silver coin marked with the effigy of the prince, so with the precious coin of My holy Humanity, which is my adorable Face, you will get everything you want in the kingdom of heaven’”.

It seems to me that we should only pray and present ourselves before the eternal Father with some merit of His Son in our hands, in order to offer it to Him and thus oblige Him to fulfill the admirable promise of our Lord: ‘Amen, amen, I say to you: if you ask the Father anything in my name, He will give it you.’ (Jn. 16:23). If we have no virtues to offer to God, let us offer Him all those of Jesus our Savior, who sanctified Himself for us. Let us offer His gentleness, humility, patience, obedience, poverty, fasts, vigils, and zeal for the glory of His Father and the salvation of souls! Let us also offer His divine and effective prayers; He prayed during his mortal life; the Gospel says that He withdrew at night to pray; He prays in Heaven; He shows His wounds to His Father for us; finally He prays in the most holy Sacrament of the altar.”

O what an ineffable mystery! A Savior God praying for His creatures, and prayed to by these same creatures!”

Let us unite our prayers with those of the incarnate Word, and they will be answered; let us offer to the eternal Father the sacred Heart of Jesus, His adorable Face, and His divine wounds; let us offer His tears, His blood and His sweat; let us offer His travels, works, words, and silence, all that He suffered in each of His mysteries; finally, let us always have our eyes fixed on the Gift of God; let us search in this treasure unknown to the world; let us, if we can, enumerate all the goods we possess in Him, and we will soon be rich and enrich poor sinners: For we can offer the humility of Jesus for the conversion of the proud, His poverty for the avaricious, His mortification for the sensual, His zeal to glorify His Father for the blasphemers, finally all the accusations He suffered from the Jews saying He was violating the Sabbath law, for the conversion of the true violators of the holy day of Sunday.”

O gift of God that I have ignored for too long, You will be my only treasure from now on; I discover new riches in Thou every day.”

Importance of Reparation

On February 2, 1844, Jesus expressed again the great concerns of His Heart, the honor of His divine Father and that of His holy spouse:

O you who are My friends and My faithful children, see if there is a pain similar to Mine; My divine Father and My Spouse, the holy Church, the object of the delights of My Heart, are despised, outraged by My enemies. Will no one arise to console Me, by defending them against those who attack them? I can no longer remain in the midst of this ungrateful people; see the torrents of tears that flow from My eyes. Will I find no one to wipe them away, making reparation to the glory of My Father and asking for the conversion of the guilty?

To Intercede for Sinners

Another day, He showed me the multitude of those who continually fall into hell, inviting me in the most touching way to help these poor sinners, and making me understand the strict obligation of the Christian soul towards these blind wretches who are precipitating themselves into the eternal abyss and to whom His mercy would open their eyes, if charitable hearts interceded for them. He told me that if He would ask the rich for an account of the temporal good He had entrusted to them to help the needy, how much more would He ask a Carmelite, a religious soul, rich with all the goods of the heavenly Spouse, for a rigorous account of the use she had made of them to help unfortunate sinners? Then this amiable Savior, opening to me His immense treasures composed of the infinite merits of His life and passion, added: –‘My daughter, I give you my Face and My Heart, I give you My Blood, I give you My wounds: draw and pour! Draw and pour! Buy without money, My Blood is the price of souls. Oh, what a sorrow for My Heart to see that remedies that cost Me so much are despised! Ask My Father for as many souls as I shed drops of blood in My Passion.’”

Gravity of Blasphemy

“He made me understand that men are incapable of understanding the insult done to God by this sin of blasphemy; blasphemies pierce His heart and make Him a second Lazarus covered with wounds. He invited me to imitate the dogs who comforted poor Lazarus by coming to lick his wounds; I would do Him a great service by employing my tongue to glorify every day the most holy Name of God despised and blasphemed by sinners, without considering whether this exercise gave me interior consolations; it would be enough for me to think that I was healing His divine wounds and causing Him great satisfaction.”

The Holy Face of Christ Offended by Blasphemies

“I understood that, as the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the sensitive object offered to our adoration to represent His immense love in the most holy Sacrament of the altar, so, in the work of reparation, the Face of Our Lord is the sensitive object offered to the adoration of the associates to repair the outrages of the blasphemers who attack the Divinity of which it is the figure, mirror, and expression. By the virtue of this adorable Face, presented to the eternal Father, we can appease His anger and obtain the conversion of the impious and blasphemers.”

“Our Lord made me see that the Church, His Spouse, is His mystical body, and that religion was the face of this body; then He showed me this face in the face of the enemies of His Name, and I saw that the blasphemers and the sectarians were renewing on the holy Face of Our Lord all the opprobrium of His Passion. I saw, thanks to this divine light, that the impious, by uttering evil words and blaspheming the holy Name of God, were spitting on the Face of the Savior and covering it with mud; that all the blows given by the sectarians to the holy Church, to religion, were the renewal of the many blows that the Face of Our Lord received, and that these unfortunate people were making this august Face sweat by striving to annihilate its works.”

“Our Lord showed me, with the help of a simple and just comparison, that the impious by their blasphemies attacked His adorable Face, and that the faithful glorified it by the homage of praise rendered to His Name and to His person.”

“Merit is in persons, but the glory that accompanies them is in their name; it bursts forth when it is pronounced; the merit or demerit of a person passes into his name. The most holy Name of God expresses the divinity, and contains in it all the perfections of the Creator; it follows from this that the blasphemers of this sacred Name attack God himself. Now let us remember these words of Jesus: “the Father is in me and I in the Father.” (Jn. 10:38). Jesus made Himself passible by the Incarnation; and He suffered, in His adorable Face, the outrages done by the blasphemers to the Name of God, His Father.”

“Our Lord has shown me that there is something mysterious about the face of a despised man of honor; yes, I see that his name and his face have a special connection. Behold a man distinguished by his name and merits, in the presence of his enemies; they do not lay hands on him, but they overwhelm him with insults, they add bitter derision to his name, instead of the titles which are due to him. Notice then what happens to the face of this insulted man; would you not say that all the outrageous words that come out of the mouths of his enemies come to rest on his face and cause him to suffer a real torment? We see this face covered with redness, shame, and confusion; the opprobrium and ignominy it suffers are more cruel to bear than real torments in the other parts of its body. Well, here is a weak portrait of the Face of Our Lord outraged by the blasphemies of the impious! Let us represent this same man in the presence of his friends, who, having learned of the insults he has received, hasten to console him, to treat him according to his dignity, pay homage to the greatness of his name by calling him by all his titles of honor; do you not then see the face of this man feel the sweetness of these praises Glory rests on his forehead and, shining on his face, makes it all shiny: joy shines in his eyes, a smile is on his lips; in a word, his faithful friends have healed the bitter pain of this face outraged by his enemies, glory has passed the reproach. This is what the friends of Jesus do through the work of reparation; the glory they give to His Name rests on this august forehead, and rejoices His most holy Face, in a very special way, in the most holy Sacrament of the altar.”

Healing the Blasphemers

• 3 November 1845:

According to the care you will take to repair My portrait, which was disfigured by blasphemers, I will take care to repair yours, which was disfigured by sin. I will reprint My image on it, and I will make it as beautiful as it was when it came out of the font of baptism. Abandon yourself therefore into My hands and be willing to suffer all the operations necessary for the restoration of this image. Do not be troubled if you experience sadness and darkness, for you know that in an image, the dark colors serve to bring out those that are more vivid. Men have the art of restoring bodies; but only I can be called the restorer of souls, and who restores them to the image of God. I have made known to you this work of reparation, I have shown you its excellence, and now I promise you the reward.”

Oh! If you could see the beauty of my Face! Your eyes are still too weak!”

• 5 January 1846:

“Our Lord made me aware that Lucifer willingly left to other demons the care of leading other flocks of sinners, such as for example: the impure, the drunkards, the greedy; but the blasphemers form his favorite flock. He made it known to me that this work of reparation embraces not only the reparation of blasphemy proper, but also that of all other blasphemies uttered against religion and the Church; however, it applies especially to blasphemies of the holy name of God.

To Draw Tirelessly From the Gold Mine

“Our Lord […] again gave me the order to pray for France, telling me […] that I should draw on His divine wounds for His sheep; finally, that He was giving Himself to me like a gold mine, to pay to His divine Father the debts which our country owes to His justice, allowing me to take for this the great treasures of His Heart. Then Our Lord made me understand that I must be careful not to act like the lazy servant of the Gospel who did not use his talent: He will ask me for an account one day, and it is very easy for me to take from this gold mine that He himself dug by his works and sufferings. I believe that He very much desires to find someone who will oblige Him, through prayer, to show mercy to France.”

Intercede for France

  • 23 January, 1846:

The face of France has become hideous in the eyes of My Father, provoking His justice; offer Him therefore the Face of His Son, in whom He is pleased, in order to draw mercy on this France; otherwise, it will be punished.’

  • November 22:

This is what the divine Master told me: ‘My daughter, I take you today as My bursar, and I place My holy Face in your hands again, so that you may offer it unceasingly to My Father for the salvation of France. Make use of this divine talent; you have in it enough to do all the business of My house; you will obtain, through this holy Face, the salvation of many sinners; with this offering, nothing will be refused you. If you only knew how pleasing the sight of my Face is to My Father!’

Changing the Wine of Justice Into the Wine of Mercy

[…] I saw other punishments prepared to satisfy this justice. When I saw this, I said to Our Lord, “Sweet Jesus, if only I could drink the rest of this cup, so that my brothers might be spared!”

“He answered me that He accepted my good will, but that I was not capable of emptying this cup, and that only He could drink it. The Savior, seeing my pain, beckoned me to enter His divine Heart; in His excessive mercy, He gave it to me as a vessel worthy of being presented to the eternal Father to receive this wine of His wrath, making me understand that, passing through this channel, it would be changed for us into the wine of mercy. But He does not want to entirely infringe the rights of justice; if I may express myself in this way, He wants to make a covenant between His justice and His mercy, and for this purpose He asks for the establishment of the work of Reparation to the glory of His Name. Yes, He will disarm the anger of God, His Father, if He offers Him a work of reparation for us! Is it not the least we can do, O sweet Jesus, to make reparation by our prayers, by our groans and by our adoration, for the enormous sins of which we are guilty towards the majesty of God? This, Mother, is the prayer that Our Lord put into my mouth, and which I want to repeat unceasingly: ‘Eternal Father, look upon the divine Heart of Jesus which I offer to you to receive the wine of your justice, so that it may be changed for us into the wine of mercy’. He made me understand that, each time I made this offering, I would obtain a drop of this wine of divine anger, which, falling, as I said above, into the vessel of the sacred Heart of Jesus, would change into the liquor of mercy.

Waging War on the Communists

In 1847, the League of Communists was founded in London. Two of its members, Marx and Engels, received the mission to write the doctrinal manifesto that appeared in February 1848 under the title Manifesto of the Communist Party. On March 14, 1847, Sister Marie de Saint-Pierre wrote to her superior:

“Our Lord today, after Holy Communion, made me understand that the plagues we have been struck with were only the forerunners of those which His justice is preparing for us if His anger is not appeased, and He showed me the sins of blasphemy and the profanations of Sunday under the emblem of two pumps, with which the men who are guilty of these crimes draw the waters of His wrath over France and expose themselves to being submerged by them, if this work of reparation which He gives her in his mercy as a means of salvation is not established. Then He told me that the sectarians called Communists had only made one excursion: ‘Oh’! He added, –‘if you knew their secret and diabolical machinations, and their anti-Christian principles! They are only waiting for a favorable day to set fire to France. Ask, therefore, for the work of Reparation to whom it belongs, in order to obtain mercy.’”

• 29 March 1847:

Our Lord has entrusted me with a new mission which I would be afraid of if I were anything; but as I am nothing but a weak instrument in His powerful hand, I am perfectly at peace.

He commanded me to make war on the communists, whom He told me were the enemies of the Church and of His Christ, making me understand that these lion cubs were, for the most part, born in the Church whose cruel enemies they now declared themselves to be. Then He added: –‘I have made it known to you that I hold you in My hands like an arrow. Now I want to shoot this arrow at My enemies. I give you the weapons of My Passion to fight them: My cross, whose enemies they are, and the other instruments of My torture. Go to them with the simplicity of a child and the courage of a valiant soldier. Receive, for this mission, the blessing of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’. Then I prayed to the Blessed Virgin to be the custodian of these divine weapons, given to me by her dearest Son, who is compared to the Tower of David, from which hang a thousand shields. Our Lord gave me, on this subject, several other lights which it would not be easy for me to relate. “Lord,” I said, “train my hands for battle, and teach me to use your instruments.”

He said to me: ‘The weapons of My enemies give death, but Mine give life.’

How to Fight the Enemies of God

This is the prayer I often recite for this purpose: –Eternal Father, I offer you, against the camp of your enemies, the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ and all the instruments of His holy Passion, that You may put division between them; for, as Your beloved Son has said, every kingdom divided against itself will be destroyed [Mt. 12:25].

[…] Jesus gives me grace to draw my weapons; today, after Holy Communion, He encouraged me to fight, and He promised to give me a cross of honor, which, He told me, would open heaven for me, if I were faithful […]. But, Reverend Mother, after having fought the enemies of God with all my strength during these three days of feasting, I now feel almost contrition. I explain myself: it is because I fear having made imprecations against them.

I know that the holy King David does the same in his psalms (108, for example); but I do not know if I am allowed to do so. Finally, I have said everything that Our Lord, it seems to me, inspired me to say; if it is wrong, and I am mistaken, I will not do it again.

I will tell you that I begin by placing my soul in the hands of Our Lord; then I beg him to bend His bow and shoot His arrows at His enemies; then I fight them first by His cross and by the instruments of His Passion, as He taught me; then by the virtue of the most holy Name of God. And this is my concern for the imprecations, for if it is wrong, I have repeated these words a hundred times; but I had no intention of wishing harm to these criminal people; I am only angry at their malice and their passions; I only want to kill the old man in them. So this is what I say:

Let God arise, let His enemies be dispelled, and let all those who hate Him flee from His face.

May the name of the thrice holy God overturn all their plans.

May the sacred name of the living God divide all their feelings.

May the terrible name of the God of eternity destroy their impiety.

I say some more, and when I have thus beaten them well, I add:

I do not want the sinner to die, but to be converted and live. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” [Lk. 23:34]

I do these exercises without restraint of spirit and with great ease, because I let myself be led by the grace that guides me.

Small Catechism on the Spiritual Life – Part 3

Small Catechism on the Spiritual Life – Part 3

  by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen O.C.D

  (text in French published by Le Sel de La Terre)

(continued)

Chapter V The Difficulties of Mental Prayer

1. What are the principal difficulties encountered in mental prayer?

As mental prayer consists in lifting the soul to God, in other words occupying oneself with Him by thought and affection, the difficulties arise in mental prayer from all which hinders or makes more difficult this double application of our soul. With regards to thoughts, there are distractions, with regards to affections there is dryness.

2. What is meant by distraction?

We mean by distraction the intrusion into prayer of thoughts incompatible with the exercise that we are doing. They push us so that we occupy ourselves with something else. This assault of foreign and even contrary thoughts to the recollection of the intelligence with God can take place in two ways willingly or unwillingly. There is a great difference between the two ways

3. What do willful distractions consist of?

Willful distractions consist in the willful introduction or consented acceptance of thoughts which deviate our intelligence from the Divine Object of which it was occupied. In becoming distracted willingly, the soul either stops or interrupts mental prayer. If it is done without a sufficient reason, it is culpable of irreverence towards God. More so than a difficulty, the willful distraction in mental prayer makes it an infidelity. If on the other hand a wondering thought comes and is not accepted, the distraction is said to be involuntary.

4. What are the causes of involuntary thoughts?

We must accept two causes, the first occasional the second natural. The first is made by the impressions of the senses, the second by the intimate tendencies of our nature which engender spontaneously in us images and thoughts. We must distinguish, according to their origin, exterior or interior distractions.

5. Can we avoid distractions in mental prayer?

The exterior distractions can be avoided in a large part by the close watch on our senses and especially in choosing to pray in a surer place, as Our Lord suggests in the Gospel. We will avoid many distractions caused by the eyes in closing them or in fixing them on a religious object or a book of meditation. It is much more difficult to avoid interior distractions.

6. Where does this particular difficulty come from?

The particular difficulty of avoiding interior distractions comes from the spontaneity of the natural tendencies which are at the bottom of our being. They are manifested by the easy apparition of images and thoughts which relate to things we either like or fear. When our attention is fixed on an object of our consideration this interior world bound to these spontaneous tendencies remains more or less in obscurity, but as soon as our attention diminishes they are noticed. Then thoughts and memories appear in our mind which can contrast greatly with the mental prayer that we are doing.

7. Can one avoid interior distractions?

Yes, there is a way, at least in a certain measure, to avoid them either directly or indirectly:

* The direct way to resist the distractions consists in bringing back our attention to the religious topic that we are meditating on, or simply on God making an act of faith or love.

* The indirect way consists in intensifying our spiritual life. In becoming more profound one gains new energy which will reinforce the tendency of our soul towards God counter the natural tendencies which distract us. It should be noted that such a result will not be gained very quickly, but will be the fruit of a long application to the interior life.

8. Are the interior distractions sometimes unavoidable?

Yes, because they are spontaneous. Especially when the soul suffers from the difficulty in fixing its attention interior distractions can be very invading, insistent, and annoying. This difficulty in fixing the attention can come from an accidental cause. It can also come from a habitual disposition, as in the case of certain temperaments, very mobile. If the soul continues to suffer seeing itself distracted, and doing its best to remain attentive to God, these sorrowful distractions far from hurting it, transform it into an instrument of moral perfection and are an occasion of supernatural merit.

9. What is meant by dryness?

Dryness is the suppression of comfort that the soul feels often in the spiritual life, especially in the beginning which follows its conversion to a better life. The soul which recognizes that it possesses a more intense spiritual life has a certain joy because it is a psychological law that one is happy when he knows he possesses a great good. The intense spiritual life does not however consist in this comfort nor receive it. Also it can exist and develop outside all consolation, only because true devotion consists only in promptitude of the will to do the service of God.

10. Is dryness an evil?

The moral quality of dryness depends on the cause which produced it:

* If comfort disappears in the soul but if the resolution to give oneself completely to God remains in the will, far from being an evil, the dryness will be an occasion for good.

* If on the other hand the dryness comes from the weakness of the will it lacks recollection in the spiritual life.

11. Is there blameworthy dryness?

Of course, when they have their source in our infidelity. It can be greater or lesser. The soul called by God to a generous and mortified life who, after corresponding some time to grace, gives itself to look for small human satisfactions is no longer faithful to the invitation of God, and loses its original fervor, and remains weak in the will.

But more unfaithful still is the soul who falls into luke-warmness in committing deliberate venial sins. It is natural that such a soul can no longer forcefully express its love to God, precisely because it is no longer strong. It falls into dryness. The only way to cure the problem is to correct oneself returning to the original generosity.

12. Is there dryness which does not depend on the will?

Without doubt there are. Even the circumstances in which we live in are often occasions of dryness. They can provoke in us a sentiment of discomfort which deprives us of any consolation in the spiritual exercises, physical tiredness, physical problems, worries, small injuries, incomprehensions. All of that signifies for us causes of weight, annoyance, and overwhelming emotions and thoughts, which puts the soul in a sorrowful state where all joy and peace disappear. In this form of dryness the soul must arm itself with patience knowing that in supporting it for the love of God, the soul offers to Him a very agreeable sacrifice which proves its love for Him.

13. Can the dryness come from God?

Definitively, and even in the mentioned ones, we must affirm that it is caused by God since all circumstances in life are arranged by Providence. But sometimes the suppression of comfort that the soul feels in mental prayer is more directly the work of God, and precisely when He makes it impossible for the soul to meditate with the help of the imagination, and to make acts of love as beforehand. It is a common phenomenon to souls after some time of fervent application to mental prayer. St. John of the Cross teaches that by this type of dryness God invites souls to a more simple form of mental prayer that is called an initial contemplation.

14. How must the soul comport itself in this dryness?

The soul must not persist in wanting to continue the meditation as it is often obliged to do. It must, on the contrary, omit it simply and apply itself to remain tranquil in the presence of God looking at Him with a simple regard of faith and wanting to please Him at every moment. Little by little this regard of faith will become easier and more loving and the soul will pass gradually from a painful state of dryness to a peaceful rest in God.

15. How can the soul know that the dryness comes from God?

A sign that the dryness comes from God is that the soul perseveres in the exercise of virtues and prayer although it only feels dryness. As the application to virtues is more difficult in these circumstances the soul will find less success, but its repeated efforts show that its will remains strong. Such dryness cannot come from a culpable weakness of the will, but is the work of God.

16. What aim does God have in sending dryness to the soul?

By this trial God foresees to deliver the soul from the childlike sensitivity, to carry it to a more solid and hard ground of the will. Not finding sweetness for the spiritual life in the representations and sweet emotions as just a little time ago, when all went well, the soul sees itself constrained to hold on with the will to the exercises of faith and love. As this state comes from the Divine Will, the work of grace joins with the effort of the soul. Undoubtedly it will make great progress in the spiritual life. The dryness sent by God, besides the trial, is a great precious grace which the soul, far from being discouraged, will look to correspond generously.

Chapter VI The Presence of God

1. What is the presence of God?

The presence of God is an exercise of the spiritual life destined to maintain us in contact with God in our diverse daily occupations. It is in some way mental prayer which is prolonged during the whole day. As mental prayer it is composed of two elements – thought and affection. It is, in effect to think of God and to turn one’s heart towards Him.

2. What is the principal element of the presence of God?

The principle element is not the thought as most of people believe, but the affection. As in mental prayer, the thought serves to orient the heart or will towards God, and directs towards Him all its actions. It is easier to remain for a while in contact with God by means of the will than by the intelligence.

3. From where does the difference come?

The difference between the ease of application of the intelligence and of the will comes from the fact that it is not practically possible to think of God in an uninterrupted way, given that many times our occupations take all our attention, and that we do not have the possibility to think at the same time about two different things. On the contrary when the intelligence is occupied with work that we are doing, the heart can remain turned towards God because even if the work is distracting in its nature, we can do it for God, meaning in order to fulfil His Will and to glorify Him.

4. How can we more easily hold our heart oriented towards God?

We can do it in nourishing the attention by small affective exercises as short prayers, pious invocations, the offering of our actions, asking God’s help, or short conversations with God in which we manifest to Him our love and our confidence. This will not however be possible for us if thoughts of God are not often present.

5. Is there a way to frequently recall the presence of God?

There are many diverse ways. We distinguish ordinarily the forms of the exercise of the presence of God using the means to recall this thought to our souls; so we speak of the presence of God external, imaginative, and intellectual.

6. In what does the practice of the thoughts of God external consist?

It consists in using an exterior object to often think of God. A crucifix that we always carry with us putting it before us during work, kissing it, venerating it, will maintain living in us the memory of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and will give us the occasion to speak affectionately to Him. Even the thought of the Eucharistic Presence which we come back to without stopping, can help hold us in contact with God and incite us to speak with Him. It is the same for pious images, etc.

7. In what does the practice of the presence of God imaginative consist?

This practice consists in representing to us by the imagination that God, Our Lady or some Saints are close to us, near us, and accompany us everywhere. We look to address ourselves to them by short spontaneous words or by diverse affectionate exercises to which we have already alluded to. Everybody however cannot practice this type of the presence of God which requires a lively imagination and a complete mastery of this faculty.

8. Does such a representation lack truth?

Not in any way because if the humanity of Our Lord or Our Lady or the Saints are not present to us physically, they are morally present in the fact that the Saints and Our Lady see us in the Divine Essence that they contemplate, and are in relation with us, and because the humanity of Our Lord exercises on us a physical influence in the communication of grace. This spiritual relation we can easily represent to us in putting ourselves in the company of God and the Saints.

9. Can we make the exercise of the presence of God in turning ourselves towards the Saints?

Evidently, because the thoughts of Our Lady and the Saints help orient our heart and our actions towards God. And in this orientation of the will is found the most necessary element of the presence of God.

10. What is the practice of the presence of God intellectual?

The practice of the presence of God intellectual is that by which we recall to our mind the memory of God by means of a thought of faith. The soul remembers, for example, of the continual presence of the Most Holy Trinity in it, and looks to please its Divine Guests, or it considers that its duties are the manifestation of the Divine Will, and the soul unites itself constantly to the Divine Will. With the supernatural light, it sees that all the circumstances of life are dispensed by Providence, and the soul tells its Heavenly Father “I am happy with all”, or knowing that God looks after it always, the soul looks to do something to make it agreeable in the eyes of God.

11. What is the best way to make the exercise of the presence of God?

The best way to do this exercise is the one which fits best our mentality, and it is not determined by reasons but by experience. It is to be remarked that we must not attach ourselves to an exclusive way or a determined formula, but we can very well vary them according to the circumstances. Ordinarily we will prefer a particular form of this exercise, and we will choose the one which is most useful for us. It is praiseworthy to use a holy freedom.

12. Can the exercise of the presence of God be united to the natural ordinary actions and even those of recreation?

Undoubtedly, we will find in this exercise the most practical way to sanctify these actions. Even in eating we can elevate our heart towards God, and in place of looking for satisfactions we eat food with a holy indifference with the goal of restoring our strength to serve God with more energy. St. Paul taught us “Whether you eat or drink, do all for the glory of God”. It must be the same for our recreations. We must offer them to God having in view to obtain new force to give in His honor. We must even put our sleep to this end. We will prepare it making an explicit offering to God. So the exercise of the presence of God will allow us to live the whole day and our life of love.

The End.

Small Catechism on the Spiritual Life – Part 2

Small Catechism on the Spiritual Life – Part 2

  by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.

  (text in French published by Le Sel de La Terre)

(continued)

Chapter III. Preparation and Reading

1. Are there different kinds of preparation for mental prayer?

The Carmelite authors distinguish often a double preparation:

* The near preparation by which the soul puts itself in the presence of God to start the intimate conversation with Him;

* The distant preparation by which the soul uses its powers to gather one’s thoughts before praying.

2. What is necessary for the soul to be disposed for prayer?

It is necessary for one not be absorbed excessively by creatures, and have a tendency to occupy oneself with God. To favor these dispositions there are two parts which constitute the distant preparation:

* The first is to remove obstacles: it’s “negative”;

* The second is destined to produce a quality: it’s “positive”.

3. What is the “negative” element of the distant preparation?

One must absolutely avoid the distractions and [disordered] attachments of the heart. In order to practice the love of God easily, a free heart is necessary. This means one must have a great detachment from creatures. Who wants to love much, must reserve for God the strength and tenderness of his affection, and not spread it to people and things who easily draw a heart which is not protected.

On the other hand, the freedom of spirit is not attained without great mortification of the senses which are open windows to terrestrial things, and the control of the memory which brings us into the world by the memories we have. So, the soul must avoid the useless thoughts. The heart and soul must be watched.

4. What is the positive element of the distant preparation?

It is the exercise of the presence of God that we will look for and to make it continuous as much as possible. By this holy exercise our thoughts and will are recollected in God, and we keep a certain contact with God, even in the middle of the most material occupations; and we converse with Him often in the day. Faithfulness to this practice creates in us a certain facility to speak with God as well as a certain ease to put us in a more intimate contact with Him: this is the near preparation.

5. What spiritual attitude helps the soul the most for this contact with God?

It is the attitude of humble confidence which puts us before God in the position which fits us best. God, in effect is our Father, and He wants that we act towards Him as destitute children. We will anchor in us the sentiment of our poverty by the memory of our numerous faults which bring to light our misery. Far from folding in on ourselves or becoming discouraged at the sight of our nothingness, we will look for refuge in the arms of Our Lord who said to us “Without Me you can do nothing” That’s why saint Teresa of Avila invites us to examine our conscience at the start of the mental prayer, to say the Confiteor, and then to look for the company of Jesus.

6. What is the most practical manner to put the soul in the presence of God?

Any manner to put oneself in the presence of God is useful for this aim, provided that a large application and intensity is used. There are however two manners especially indicated for mental prayer: 1) put oneself in the presence of Most Holy Eucharist (if we do mental prayer before the Blessed Sacrament) and, 2) recollect in one’s soul, keeping in mind the Three Divine Persons who live in the soul that is in the state of grace and offer themselves to the soul to be known and loved. To start this colloquia with (God present) we will remind the subject chosen in the reading.

7. At what moment must the reading be done?

Preferably, before going to mental prayer, meaning during the fifteen minutes granted for the preparation. If we cannot do it at that time, we could do it in the beginning. In some religious communities it is the custom to do a short reading out loud at the beginning of mental prayer.

8. Why is there common reading?

It has as its aim to offer a subject of meditation to those who do not have one. There is no obligation to use what is read. Ordinarily those who meditate come with a prepared subject by the private reading. But if at this moment that which is read draws us more than the chosen subject, we can change it with great liberty.

9. Must the reading serve to prepare a subject of meditation?

Such is the original destination, and it is that which has a larger goal — to instruct us in the spiritual things. The reading we speak about serves to supply us immediately with a Truth that we will penetrate by reflection, to draw a more profound conviction of the love of God for us. For those who no longer do mental prayer in the meditation form, but reach the level that St. Theresa calls “recollection” or to a way even higher, the reading no longer serves to choose a subject, but to recollect the soul in disposing it to sweetly taste to rest in God.

10. What books must we prefer to choose to do this reading?

It depends on the aim of the reading. When it concerns finding a subject of meditation, besides the books for meditation, all those that enlighten the many manifestations of the love of God for us, will be able to serve this aim. It will be, however, good to use books already known. When the aim is to recollect oneself only, any writing which inspires an intense love of God will be useful. The works of the Saints belong to this category. The choice of the book is determined by the immediate aim of the reading, but the culture and spiritual age of the person will have to be considered in this choice. Books too intellectual or spiritual will not be well understood, and necessarily cause dryness.

11. Can the lives of the Saints be read?

These lives are not excluded, especially because many souls are touched by the example of the Saints who have lived the spiritual doctrine, than by explaining it speculatively. However, we must not read them to satisfy our curiosity and not to prolong unnecessarily our reading. Also, it is fitting to not read them as preparation for meditation, a “new” life, because it greatly excites the imagination. It would be better to read a summary of a saint already known.

12. How must we read?

We must read with attention, since the aim of the reading is to find a subject of conversation with God. It is necessary to read it carefully, to not let any light escape us. It will be read with devotion and recollection because this good disposition of the heart favors in us the seeking of something useful for the soul, making us attentive and sensible to good ideas. We will be able to foresee more easily and prepare in some way the affections that we want to express and the resolution to be taken. All of it without binding us too much, because the aim of the reading is simply to help us according to our needs. Let us add a last remark: if it is done in common before the mental prayer, the reading must be short so as not to annoy those who do not use it ‑ and they are many.

13. Can we take again our book during mental prayer?

It is not excluded and can even be indicated in particular occasions. St. Theresa never went to mental prayer without a book with her. It will happen sometimes that we will find ourselves so distracted that the most practical manner to return to God will be to gain another good thought by reading again. Also, when in mental prayer and in the company of God, our affection becomes difficult by tiredness. It is often good to read again our theme of mental prayer. It is an exterior aid for our attention. One must be careful not to turn it into a simple reading. It must remain at least a meditative reading in which we stop to allow affections and resolutions to enter. So, the reading itself becomes an instrument of our conversation with God.

Chapter IV. Meditation and Colloquia

1. Is the meditation always explained in the same way by the Carmelite authors?

The Carmelite authors have some differences in their explanation of the meditation, but all are in agreement on the essential. Some do not explain the different parts; some others make a distinction between the meditative reflection and the affectionate colloquia which is the aim of the reflection, which they call contemplation. Others separate in the meditative part the representation and the reflection. Those who do not classify explicitly these diverse elements refer more or less to them.

Most of the Carmelite authors distinguish three elements in the meditation:

* The representation as an act of the imagination,

* The reflection as an act of the intelligence,

* And the colloquia as an act of the will.

2. What is the representation?

It is an activity of the imagination by which we form: 1) an image or representation of the mystery we want to meditate on, or 2) sensible objects which lift our thoughts to God.

3. What is the usefulness of the representation?

The aim is to render easier the work of reflection which leans on natural representations of the imagination. It is easy to think of the scourging [of Our Lord] before an image. It offers the advantage to fix in some way our thoughts which, without an object to look at, easily digresses. A certain stability of imaginative knowledge helps our intellectual knowledge to have fewer distractions.

4. Is the representation always necessary?

The same authors do not insist on its necessity in mental prayer, but they explain to us in what way it can be useful. Its usefulness is evident when we consider the life of Jesus Christ or of the Saints. Even in the consideration of the most abstract mysteries, for example the Divine attributes, the intelligence can start by thinking of sensible things represented by the imagination. It is also praiseworthy to elevate ourselves from the beauty of nature to God, Supreme Beauty. The Carmelite Theologians distinguish different cases one can find himself in, when he meditates. Some have a lively imagination easily able to represent the mystery, others are almost unable to do it. The former should use their faculty of representation, the others should know that it is not an exercise at all cost. To be useful, the imaginative representations must not be very perfect, a vague representation is enough.

5. In what way must the representation be formed?

1) One must apply oneself to it, otherwise nothing serious will be done. But it is not fitting to excite the imagination too much in order to see what we are meditating on too quickly. Those who have an especially lively imagination will try to proceed with a great simplicity because, otherwise, the imagination would be led to illusion and make them believe that they are having visions.

2). As to those who look at the perfection of the representation, the details should not be too precise. The Carmelite authors have equally said that a representation schema can be enough for someone with little imagination. A representation that is more precise is more useful because it fixes more easily our thoughts. The Carmelite authors never speak of the application of the senses.

3) It is not necessary to consecrate much time to form the representation. Some instants are enough, but it is necessary that we have it present during the whole time of meditation. If we can do it, we will find it easier to avoid distractions.

Let us conclude in saying that, without being absolutely necessary, the representation is often useful and those who succeed, must not deprive themselves of this help. Those who, on the other hand, find it difficult, can omit it, and start directly the reflection.

6. Is the reflection or consideration more important?

Reflection is the first of the elements that directly make the meditation, which consists in a certain work of the intelligence. This must remain secondary in comparison with the affectionate conversation with God, which must find in the meditation the stimulating base.

7. Must this work of the intelligence remain a long time?

Its subordination to the affectionate conversation indicates that it must only last as long as necessary to lead the soul to this conversation, meaning until it produces in the soul a profound conviction that it is loved by God and invited to love Him in return. We would however be in error if we believed that we had to interrupt or put to the side the reflection as soon as we feel some pious affection which would suddenly vanish leaving us empty. We must on the contrary insist and continue until the will is completely stable and can remain at least some time in the affectionate attitude.

8. Must the reflection be done methodically?

It can be. St. Theresa following in it other contemporary authors, advices, in the meditation of the Passion of Our Lord, to consider who suffers, what does He suffer, why, with which dispositions? It is not however necessary that there is such a rigorous order in the order of the arguments and one can think without harm to go freely from one thought to the next, provided that it leads to the goal proposed to better understand the love of God for us which is manifested in the mystery meditated on.

9. What will the souls who “cannot meditate” do?

For souls who, because of a certain mobility of the imagination and of thought, have great difficulty stopping at a determined idea to go deeper by deep reflections, St. Theresa teaches another way to excite thoughts which excite love. This method consists in reciting slowly a vocal prayer full of substance stopping to consider with attention the sense of the words and taking the opportunity to form some reflections and express affections.

10. When does the affectionate colloquia start?

It starts when the soul has the strong conviction that it must answer wilt love for the love God gives to it. It all depends on how easy it is for the soul to put itself in this necessary disposition. It is acquired by practice.

11. What is said in the colloquia?

The soul expresses especially to God its will to love Him and show Him its love, taking the motive of its purpose in a particular mystery. It can be done in many different ways and the colloquia will be done in many ways as well. The soul can express its love not only to the Holy Trinity, but also to Jesus. It is also praiseworthy to speak affectionately to the Saints.

12. In what way is the colloquia done?

It can be done in many different ways. We can express our affection with words pronounced vocally, but we can also do it with interior expressions of the heart or will. These expressions can be short and happen with a certain frequency, or be prolonged for some time, saying them at longer intervals. The soul also can be happy only keeping company with God [without any expression].

13. Must the conversation be continuous?

We can answer yes in the way that the soul must remain in conversation with God, but no in the manner of “speaking” continuously. Also the Carmelite authors teach expressly that the conversation done by the soul must not be too long or agitated, but peaceful and many times interrupted, as to permit the soul to listen to God’s answer.

14. Does God speak in the colloquia?

If we were the only one to speak, it would not be a colloquia. On the other hand St. Theresa taught that God speaks to the soul when it prays with all its heart. One must not believe that God is heard in a material way. He answers the soul in sending it graces of light and love by which the soul understands better the ways of God and feels greatly inflamed to follow them with generosity. Listening consists in, for the soul, to accept these graces, and thinking how to look for profit.

15. Why is the colloquia called “contemplation”?

Because, when the soul speaks with God and listens, the soul stops reasoning as it did in meditation and now is happy to pay attention in a general way to the mystery better understood because of the meditation. Or even the soul looks simply at God the Father, or Son with Whom it speaks. In this simple look is realized the traditional notion of contemplation ( a simple look which penetrates the Truth). And as in the colloquia, God communicates to the soul His light. Under this aspect is realized in some way which is more fully the essence of the true contemplation: an infusion of heavenly light.

16. How long can this colloquia last?

There is no limit. It can occupy the whole time of mental prayer. Even more, the simplification of mental prayer consists to make the reflections shorter, to give more time to affections and to give them, little by little, a calmer form by prolonged acts. It is not easy for the soul in the beginning to stop from time to time to express its love. This is why we can have recourse to the last acts of mental prayer: thanksgiving, offering and asking.

17. Why do we need to thank God?

Many reasons push the soul to express its gratitude to God. We have received much from Him either in the natural or supernatural order: to be born of Catholic parents and to have been baptized without delay, to have been raised in the True Religion, and especially to have been given a vocation; so many free gifts from God for which we cannot thank Him enough. And also how many graces God surrounds us with, without stopping. Even the exercise of mental prayer is a call to Him to penetrate further into us. We must show ourselves grateful to these favors. Let us add to that the goodness of God towards those for whom we show an interest for: our friends, benefactors, those confided to our care. We can thank not only God but also the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints for their intercession in our favor.

18. What can we offer to God?

Having received all from God, it is praiseworthy on our part to offer ourselves to Him, wanting to use all our strength for His service. As our holy profession is a consecration of our whole life to God 1, we will be able to renew it. We should not be satisfied with general offerings which, because of their vagueness, do not exercise a large influence on our way of acting. It is good to take a particular resolution and to offer to God our will to practice such a virtue or to fight generously against a temptation or to willingly accept a trail of suffering. By these firm resolutions we put our mental prayer in contact with our daily life; this is why it is good for all to finish with a particular resolution even if an offering has not been done.

19. Whom must we pray for?

Our large spiritual destitution forces us to have recourse continually to prayer. After having told that “without Me you can do nothing”, Our Lord added, “ask and you shall receive, knock and it shall be opened to you.” Our spiritual progress depends extremely on the prayers that we will say with confidence and insistence.

We must pray for others: for their temporal and spiritual needs and especially for their sanctification and salvation.

We will have an interest in not only souls in particular but also our country, Religious Orders, our Spiritual Family, and Holy Church.

Knowing that the souls dear to Our Lord are more powerful on His Heart, desirous to obtain much from Him, we will try to make ourselves agreeable to His Majesty by a life detached from the world and oriented only to the research of intimateness with Him. In this way one will realize the ideal proposed by St. Theresa to her daughters: to become an intimate friend of God who uses this intimateness to make His Divine Graces overflow on this world.

(To be continued)

1 ‑ He is speaking here to religious.

800th ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF SAINT DOMINIC

800th ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF SAINT DOMINIC

  (August 6, 1221 – August 6, 2021)

Veritas”

A sermon for the Feast of Saint Dominic

(August 4)

given in Avrillé (France)

IN THE WORDS that Jesus spoke on earth, three resonated in the soul of St. Dominic that must resonate in ours. These words are: “Misereor super turbam­”, I have mercy on the crowd (Mk. 8:2). St. Dominic transposed them, saying: “Quid fient peccatores? “What will become of sinners?” This pity for souls and the salvation of souls—is the secret of St. Dominic’s vocation, the fundamental impulse that moved him. That is why he is called: “Apostolicus Pater Dominicus”, the Apostolic Father, the father concerned about souls, who saw how far men are from the divine Truth, how much they ignore or despise this Truth; who therefore wore himself out in the service of the Truth, in order to contemplate it, and then to communicate it to souls and to organize an Order whose purpose would be to preach it.

These three things, in fact, summarize the life of Saint Dominic. This life, at first sight, is complex, but in reality it is simple. It is one because it rests entirely on a single principle: the Truth. ­The principle of unity in the life of St. Dominic and his Order is Truth. Therefore, we must grasp the life and work of St. Dominic in truth, starting from this fundamental inspiration of his apostolic soul, in the light of the principle which has become the motto of the Order which appears on his halo: Veritas.

The life of St. Dominic has three phases:

‑ The first is that of maturation in Osma, Spain;

‑ The second is that of the external apostolate, in Languedoc, in the middle of Cathar country;

‑ The third, which is the most fruitful — of a more hidden fruitfulness than the previous one, but more lasting — is the foundation of the Order. Each of these phases lasted about a decade. Each one, above all, was placed under the patronage of the Truth.

**

The first phase is that of maturation in Osma, in silence, strict observance of the religious rule, prayer, and study; it is the stage of knowledge and contemplation of the Truth.

Saint Dominic, in fact, began by drinking from the source of divine Truth for many years, by filling himself with its light, before communicating it to others. For, in order to be able to preach the Truth, to become “champions of the faith and true lights of the world”, as Pope Honorius III would say of the first Dominicans, one must first be deeply imbued with the faith and the first Truth, which is God

Faith makes contact with the divine Truth. Saint Thomas says with his usual precision:

“There is for us, even in this life, a certain participation and assimilation to such a cognition of divine truth, inasmuch as through the faith which is infused into our souls we adhere to the very First Truth on account of Itself. – fit nobis in statu viæ quaedam illius cognitionis participatio et assimilatio ad cognitionem divinam, in quantum per fidem nobis infusant inhæremus ipsi primæ veritati propter se ipsam1

St. Dominic, therefore, began by living by faith, by knowing the first Truth in and for itself, without any utilitarian aim. Dante, in his ­Divine Comedy, says of St. Dominic that since his birth he married the Faith, just as St. Francis married Poverty (Paradise XII, 61).

This phase of our holy father’s life is essential, and we too must reproduce it with extreme fidelity, embracing faith in our turn through contemplation and silent and assiduous study of the First Truth. How, in fact, can we serve this divine Truth and preach the faith, if we are not intimately filled with it? We would fall into that inconsistency which, under the pretext of life and action, sinks into activism and sacrifices the absolute for the contingent that passes away; the divine for the human. Those who give in to this tendency, if they do not deny God or the reality of Revelation, are logically led to believe that God is conditioned by His creation and to erase from the Gospel the very idea of the divine attributes. They subordinate the primary Truth to passing truths or even to the opinions of the world, and become incapable of giving God to souls.

**

The second phase of St. Dominic’s life is that of the apostolate, of the preaching of the contemplated faith, of the expansion of the Truth. For about ten years, the saint traveled throughout Languedoc and preached to the heretics.

For truth is communicable. “Credidi propter quod locutus sum” – I believe, and that is why I have spoken, says St. Paul (2 Cor. 4:13): the evidence of faith irresistibly inclines us to communicate its content; hence these apostolic accents of St. Dominic, accents of tenderness for sinners, which recall those of Jesus: “What will become of poor sinners?” Not that these men are simply miserable or starving, but they do not know the Truth. This is the real misery, the most serious.

Jesus said of himself: “I am the Truth” (Jn. 14:6). He was moved by the desire to communicate the Truth that he had to proclaim, because he himself was the Truth in action ­in the bosom of the Father. In the same way, St. Dominic preached the Truth because he was filled with it, because he had espoused it, because he had made it his own. He had not forgotten the first phase during the second: the preacher must remain a contemplative, on pain of no longer preaching the word of God, but of preaching himself: Contemplari et contemplata aliis tradere – to contemplate and transmit to others the truths contemplated.” Preaching must be nothing but the overflow of contemplation; what is preached must be nothing but the fruit of contemplation. And so, in the very structure of St. Dominic’s life, we find the economy of the life of Jesus: thirty years of silence and preparation, three years of preaching, and finally the sending of the Apostles on a mission throughout the world. This shows with what supernatural spirit the preaching of the Truth must be considered. It is grafted onto the faith; it is itself an act of faith, and this is what ensures its victory.

This second phase had all the hazards of a battle, with alternating failures, tribulations, and successes. For preaching is an adventure, so to speak: there is the Holy Spirit who instructs souls from within, there is the one who speaks externally, and there are those who listen – the agreement is not always easy. St. Dominic himself experienced the failure and hardness of souls who rebel against the Truth. But this, too, is part of the divine plan. And precisely in the hour of failure he saw souls close up to his word, he made a pact with the Virgin Mary, a pact that lasts for eternity. The Mother of Preachers, “the one who believed”, as the Gospel calls her, then gave St. Dominic an invincible weapon to touch souls and effectively communicate the Truth to them. This weapon is the Rosary – the Rosary, which transmits the substance of the faith and is both a prayer and a sublime means of preaching the great divine truths.

**

The third phase of St. Dominic’s life was the foundation of the Order of Preachers and the sending of the friars to the whole world.

After having hoarded the Truth and after having proclaimed it, the Saint organized its preservation, fruitfulness, and diffusion in time. For this he founded an Order. If the grain remains piled up, it dies; but if it is sown, it produces fruit.

An Order is the fruit of an act of wisdom (sapientis est ordinare); it is an organic whole of which one element is the principle of the others. One is part of the Order only if one is connected to the principle. The principle of our Order is St. Dominic; but more primitively, it is the Truth. To the extent that we guard and carry the Truth, we are part of the Order of Preachers, rightly called “the Order of Truth”; this is its trademark, its essential note, so to speak.

This third phase, like the second, was marked by success and trials. And this has continued in the history of the Order. There have been, there are, especially in our days, betrayals and defections within our Order. This is the crucial proof given by Our Lord himself: “You will know them by their fruits.” (Mt. 7:16,20). The fruits are the works of the Truth; where they are lacking, it is a sign that the Truth is no longer served; or, as St. John says: “They went out from us but they were not of us. For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have remained with us.” (1 John 2:19). They were not of us because they did not serve – or did not fully serve – the Truth.

**

These three phases of St. Dominic’s life are certainly successive, but one does not replace the other; they are linked and remain one in the other; there is penetration of the first into the second, and of the first two into the third.

And it must be so. For it is the depth of contemplation that preserves from activism in the apostolate; so it is necessary that the first phase penetrate the second. And it is also necessary that the first two phases unceasingly inspire the third. For only the contemplation of the Truth and zeal in the service of the Truth can preserve one from the sclerosis and decadence that threaten any work on this earth, even if it is holy and inspired by God, as a religious Order is. In short, we must carefully keep the principle: Veritas!

*

**

Saint Dominic left us his testament. This testament can be summed up in three words: “This, my brothers, is what I leave you as an inheritance: have charity, keep humility, possess ­voluntary poverty.”

But we can say that these three words are summarized and merged in this small word of seven letters which constitutes the motto of the Order: Veritas, Truth. For Dominican charity is above all the charity of truth; and the preaching of truth can only bear fruit if it is founded on humility and poverty.

This is what God revealed to the most illustrious daughter of St. Dominic, St. Catherine of Siena:

“St. Dominic wished to make the light of Truth the principal object of his Order. […] This why he appeared in the world as an apostle and sowed the seed of my word, full of light and truth, dispelling the darkness and distributing the light. […] Dominic is thus in harmony with my Truth, not wanting the sinner to die, but to be converted and live.”

Veritas de terra orta est.” Truth springs forth out of the earth. Our earth, our roots, our father is St. Dominic. He bequeaths to us the Truth, thirst for the Truth, love of the Truth, and asks us to be faithful to the Truth. Let us strive, by our three vows, by our contemplative life, by our prayers and studies, by our doctrinal preaching, by our whole life, to be TRUE.

Holy Mary, Mother of Preachers, pray for us!

1 ‑ Expositio in libro Boetii de Trinitate, Proemium, q. 2, a. 2