The Spiritual Edifice

The Three Ages of the Interior Life - Volume 2 - Reverend Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P._html_57ca4d8eThe Three Ages of the Interior Life - Volume 2 - Reverend Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P._html_m6d864de5Evil Root

Note: Drawings taken from the book, The Three Ages of the Interior Life by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.

 

Humility is the “foundation of prayer” (CCC 2559) as well as the foundation of our own spiritual edifice. Since our spiritual life can only be as good as the foundation we build upon, the virtue of humility is essential. We start with a good foundation lain upon the Rock of Christ; for if we build our house on sand, it cannot stand. (see Mat. 7:24~7:27)

The virtue of humility is related to both the virtue of justice, which allows us to judge ourselves justly, and also the virtue of temperance, which serves to moderate the sense of our own worth. “Humility may be defined as a supernatural virtue, which, through the self-knowledge it imparts, inclines us to reckon ourselves at our true worth and to seek self-effacement (reserve in speech, behavior, or dress) and contempt (to be regarded as inferior or base).” (see A. Tanguerey, The Spiritual Life, 1127) Therefore, the basis of humility is Truth, which allows us to see ourselves as we really are, and Justice, which inclines us to act on that knowledge. Rightly understood, justice demands that we render to God all the honor and glory for that which we find as ‘good’ within us and to recognize that all ‘evil’ within us proceeds from ourselves. (see A. Tanguerey, The Spiritual Life, 1128 A.) As Christ Himself said: “No one is good but God alone.” (Mark 10:18).

We know well that though we have been washed clean of original sin by the waters of baptism, concupiscience (an inclination toward sin or evil) remains. Therefore, a true reckoning of ourselves, when viewed through the lens of God’s Goodness and Holiness, leaves us to see that we have nothing of our own which can be called Good but that which is of God Himself. Our will to abide by the Good, which God has worked in us, is then our cooperation with Him and His HolyWill. Our concupiscience remains but can be overcome by our willingness to cooperate with the Grace that God imparts to us.

Humility could simply be described as an attitude that takes responsibility for the wrongs we think, say or do while only rendering credit to God for that which is regarded as good and holy. Our demeanor might then become reserved and free of self-pride. A humble heart such as this is greatly loved by our Lord and He tends to incline His Ear to the whisperings of such a soul. It is this meekness and humility that becomes a solid foundation for our relationship with God.

The pillars of Faith, Hope and Charity sit squarely on the shoulders of this virtue, as does our prayer-life, which is the loving discourse between our souls and God. If you wish to increase your faith, hope and love and deepen your prayer-life it may pay great dividends to work on the virtue of humility. This requires vigilance in knowledge of God and in self-knowledge too (a daily examen of conscience and frequent confession aid in this regard). In order to accomplish this work within our souls, the virtues of temperance and justice might also stand in need of some strengthening.

As previously stated, our humility is to rest upon the Rock of Christ and therefore we need to conform to every projection and crevice of this Rock. There should be no voids between this foundation of humility and the Rock upon which it is poured, thus we ensure that our foundation conforms to Christ in every detail. Our humility then must begin in a liquid state, capable of being molded into the necessary shape. Once humility has allowed us to be molded by the Rock, it becomes an extension of Christ Himself, hardening into a Foundation that is unbreakable.

If we set out to build a spiritual edifice we must keep in mind that which any builder knows. The building is only as good as the foundation upon which it stands.

No Conscience, No Sin

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Pope Pius XII made a disturbing observation in 1946, when he stated the following: “the sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin” (Pope Pius XII, Radio Message to the U.S. National Catechetical Congress in Boston, October 26, 1946). Few, over 50, who continue to live in this age would argue with that observation. Who among us can say they are unaware of a new attitude, which places blame on others for faults that they, themselves, commit? Nor are we blind to the prevailing attitude that says ‘if something is legal, it is also moral’ or ‘if it doesn’t hurt anyone else, it cannot be a serious sin’. Therefore, the emptying of the confessionals in our Catholic Churches is symptomatic of this new “sin,” of which our late Pope Pius XII speaks. It seems as though a tremendous flock has been led astray by the wolves that roam among us.

On December 2, 1984, almost 38 years after Pope Pius XII’s statement, Pope John Paul II echoed his remarks in an ecclesial pronouncement, RECONCILIATIO ET PAENITENTIA. Within this document our Pope offers some very insightful reasons as to why and how such a dreadful situation might have come about.

First, he notes that secularism, which advocates a humanism totally devoid of God, reduces our sense of sin. It diminishes in importance our true understanding of sin as an offense against God while making a vain attempt to understand sin as a mere offense against humanity.

Pope John Paul II then cites the errors commonly made when evaluating the findings in the human sciences, especially in psychology and sociology. In psychology, there is great concern to avoid the feelings of guilt or the imposing of limitations to an individual’s freedom. This often leads to a refusal for individuals to ever admit a shortcoming or fault. In sociology, environmental and historical conditioning is viewed as an insurmountable influence upon the human person. Such a view reduces mans responsibility to such an extent that he may not even acknowledge his ability to perform a truly human act nor an ability to commit sin.

Next he speaks of historic relativism. This may take the form of an ethical system, which relativizes the moral norm, and denies its absolute and unconditional value. In other words it is a system of thinking which denies that there can be fundamentally sinful acts independent of the circumstances surrounding them. In time, this has fostered a notion of sin that has almost reached the point of saying that, ‘although sin exists, no one knows who commits it.’ Simply, it is much like saying that morality changes with the times and cultures in which we live and therefore can’t be judged outside of that particular culture’s ethical system and history.

Finally, sin is now being identified with a morbid feeling of guilt or with the mere transgression of legal norms and precepts. This notion has been propagated primarily by education, the media and within the family and has created a generation of children who no longer recognize the need to be mindful of transgressing the objective morality, nor the cognizance of whom has been offended.

With the above observations, it seems that the Pope has given us valuable insights in how this ‘sin of the century’ can be stopped and set aright once again. First we must convince ourselves and teach our children that sin is always an offense against God, even when we sin against other human beings. We must take full responsibility of our actions and realize that we have freewill. We must also recognize that moral truth is objective and not subjective: it is not relative to cultures and times. Lastly, we must make efforts to have these truths taught once again in our schools and reflected in the media as well as in the family.

The French poet, Victor Hugo, once stated that, “Conscience is God present in man.” Let us then have a good conscience and make use of God’s Sacrament of Reconciliation.

I Am Who I Say I Am: Who are you to judge?

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The United States is a great place to live because you can be anything that you want or be whatever you think you are. Therefore, I have decided that I am The Invisible Man. Thanks to transgenderism, nobody can tell me that I am not The Invisible Man and they must respect my feelings on this. I can go wherever I want and nobody can see me or tell me that they see me because, since I am invisible, they would be saying hurtful and hateful things which I would immediately take them to court in order to ensure that my rights not be violated.

Though some people might complain that it is obvious that I am not invisible, the law says that since I think that I am invisible such prejudicial and blatantly hateful speech such as this just cannot be tolerated. Who are they to judge? I am the one who says I am invisible and they must respect my judgement on this. I must admit that I am not the first one to discover the beauty inherent in this national move to respect an individual’s belief in something that is not apparent to others. Walter Williams, in fact, thinks that he is a springbok: http://www.sunherald.com/opinion/other-voices/article79676902.html

Recently, Bishop Paprocki came up with this, which, should it take root in the United States, would bring logic into play. So be wary and know that such thoughts are out there and should they take hold then we will all be forced to live in a society that is ruled by reason instead of personal feelings. So this is what the Bishop said in part:

It is a Mental Illness

The transgender activists would have you believe that their politically correct ideology is based on science; however, the American College of Pediatricians has pointed out that transgenderism is classified as a mental illness and therefore has warned legislators and educators that conditioning children to accept transgenderism as normal is child abuse. They advised, “When an otherwise healthy biological boy believes he is a girl, or an otherwise healthy biological girl believes she is a boy, an objective psychological problem exists that lies in the mind, not the body, and it should be treated as such.”

Dr. Paul McHugh, psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, was so concerned about the psychological origins of gender-identity disorder that he halted the practice of sex-reassignment surgery at his institution. He concluded that the research demonstrated that Johns Hopkins should no longer participate in what he called “unusual and radical treatment” for “mental disorders.”

For the full transcript from Bishop Paprocki, go here: http://www.courageouspriest.com/bishop-paprocki-correct-bathroom

So, there you have it. I give this to you so that you might understand that there are those out there who would deny me my right to be invisible and might even deny a man the right to go into a ladies room if he feels that he is a woman on a particular day. This kind of prejudice must stop if we are ever going to be a country that regards personal freedom worth fighting for.

It’s great to be an American isn’t it?

Must I Choose Between God and the World?

Christ the King: King of Kings, Lord of Lords
We live in a relativistic world that believes that truth is relative and that each of us, individually, should respect the moral and theological choices of everyone else. It does seem counter-intuitive to me that there can be a Christianity reset and accommodation with the world that can embrace such a notion especially since choosing the Truth of Christ over the half-truths and lies of the world has always been a fundamental decision that each individual who has ever rejected the world and come to Christ had to wrestle with and then surrender or reject. It is a choice that is no different than the title of Cardinal Sarah’s book: God or Nothing which is a fundamental human choice.

The half-truths of this world I find much more harmful than the outright lies of this world. I say this, because the first is subtle and requires some amount of maturity to decipher but the second is an outright lie, usually so blatant and obvious, that even the uneducated can very often reject it with nothing other than common, natural sense which is instilled in everyone’s DNA. Though people would like to believe these lies and distortions of truth, there is still, to many individuals, something dreadfully wrong and lacking. It leaves one unsatisfied, unhappy and living a life where there is a void, a missing element, that can instill happiness and joy unbounded to the hearts of the individuals: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until if finds its rest in thee.”

So we negotiate with the world and end up looking not much different than the world and hide from the world the True Christ, in His fullness. For we would rather disguise Christ, like a Trojan Horse, to fool the enemy and gain entry into the world rather than offering to people a clear choice. For the Kingdom of God is not a half-way house that allows us to ‘claim’ a composite form of Christianity which requires nothing of the ‘believer.’ There is no requirement to ‘fully surrender’ to Him and instead of being King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He is now your best buddy who does not judge you or require that you abide by His Commandments; a love without sacrifice, a belief without responsibilities. It is the equivalent of the old saying of ‘having one’s cake and eating it too.’

The calls for such a Christianity come from those who make the argument that the world rejects the teachings of the Church and sees its teachings as oppressive, overbearing and unwelcoming to the sinner. I would respond that the ‘the World’ is more ideological and less homogenized in its beliefs. Of course the present world culture teaches a false gospel and entices us with lies and false love for the individual. However, I am convinced that individuals who are seduced by this message are miserable in the very depths of their souls and are looking for a clear choice between the present culture and the supernatural reality that Christ delivered to mankind. Given this choice, when the Holy Spirit condemns them in the hollowness of their lives, they will make a choice, if there is a choice available to them. They have tired of being soothed and coddled, told that they are special in their own way when in their heart of hearts they know that this is a lie and that an alternative to this false love must exist somewhere if there is any Truth at all; a choice that is all but being lost in our mimicry of the pagan culture of self-love, self-esteem and their assurance that there are no changes that necessitate a change in the way we lead our lives. All is well and in fact if Christianity would only quit teaching about sin then perhaps Christianity would be more welcoming and acceptable to the minds and hearts of those who are thoroughly indoctrinated into the present culture of self absorption licentiousness without shame or conscience.

For 50 years we have moved in this direction and have found it not to be the ‘choice’ that people stuck in the malaise of a worldwide love-in are looking for. And the diocese’s that rejected taking this direction are flourishing. So we get the, to be expected, lectures that we simply haven’t been accommodating enough and loving enough to draw them to Christianity. In other words, if we do more of that which hasn’t worked so far, it is the fault of those who have not changed with the times that it is failing; though the statistics do not hold up to scrutiny. Perhaps we should change our doctrines themselves or make our moral truths into suggestions by using pastoral methods that defy the teachings themselves.

“Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today; and the same forever.” He has attracted followers who gave their lives for Him and for His Church for 2000 years; all drawn from the world. Do we have to dumb-down Christ or offer another Christ, more acceptable to the world, for our times? Or is Christ sufficient for us as He was from the beginning? You decide.

Stability is the Foundation of a Healthy Growing Culture

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If a country wants to have economic growth and jobs for its citizens then it must be able to provide stability and a safe environment for businesses to locate there and operate without shootings, bombings or threats. Such stability of a country or society is the very basis of what we call civility and that upon which civilizations depend.

Industrialized nations have one thing in common whether they are democratic or totalitarian in nature; it is the absence of lawlessness; except perhaps among their own elite class. But when it comes to business owners and production facilities or the day to day comings and goings of an ordinary family, this security is expected and usually ensures the relative safety of its inhabitants and the enterprises for which they work. Without it, there is chaos and instability and new jobs will not be created. Investments will not be made within a country in regards to infrastructure, utilities, employment or education unless that very basic need is met.

The first world countries have always had a lifeline out in the world for those who are fleeing oppression: and as long as these people can acclimate themselves to this new culture and convert their minds and hearts to their new culture they will be welcome and absorbed into the general population. If not, then they must be turned away or imprisoned unless we want to let a civil society return to a pre-civilized culture without safeguards; the result of which is a complete destabilization or enslavement of an entire society.

We should have great misgivings on anything that destabilizes a nation, stresses its resources beyond its means and ensures a transformation of society that the citizens did not want or desire. For the government was there to protect and care for its own and was not created to transform the people from a stable culture into one that is chaotic and unsuitable to live within.

The unrest in Europe today is coming and in many ways has already landed on the shores of the United States. We have unwittingly invited the Third World to our nations in unprecedented numbers without any idea of who these people are, what they believe in or what plans they have once their citizenship has been gained. In the meanwhile, both Europe and the U.S. is broke and is spending borrowed money in record amounts to house, clothe, feed and maintain these vast numbers of immigrants that have hit our shores. Many are receiving tuition, welfare and healthcare at the expense of an already declining workforce that is putting some money into the system for its maintenance. Unfortunately, the taxes these workers add to the coffers only partly covers the expenses and the rest is being paid for with IOU’s.

Instability and unrest is growing. We are seeing demonstrations which have turned violent grow in number and intensity on our streets and this is simply the beginning of what we will not be able to cope with adequately with our present security measures. When that occurs in history, one of two things usually follows; either a takeover by a coup or a breakup of a nation into smaller nations. Both are responses that people make when faced with the choices of stability and relative safety versus the alternative; instability and constant danger.

Has Europe already reached the point of no return? It may very well be. For even if the levels of immigrants they have at present were to remain stable by ending further immigration, estimates are already showing that within a few decades the immigrant populations will exceed the native European populations due to birthrates alone. The U.S. seems to know and not care that this same scenario is beginning to play out on our shores.

I don’t have a crystal ball but if I were to take a guess, the future is looking rather grim for both Western Europe and the U.S.  I fully expect further bloodshed, unrest, loss of industry and financial resources that provide for security, education or welfare; not to mention jobs for working families. But then there is always a hope that Christ is sleeping in the bow of the boat and is only waiting for us to awaken Him so that He might calm the seas and tell us what we already know; that we are a people of little faith . . . or about as smart as a bag of hammers.

Struggle and Victory

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No victory can be won without struggle and no struggle can be successfully waged unless victory is the goal. Struggle without a moral motivation or principle beyond worldly and mortal concerns is not worthy of disturbing our souls. Moral concerns and principles, which both informs and convicts our conscience, should drive our will and all our freewill choices. Thereby, being driven by convictions divinely inspired and revealed to us should give us great fortitude to stand against all odds. This is our preparation to show witness, suffer persecution even to the shedding of one’s blood and it should not dissuade us from the goal of gaining victory and to overcome great evil, even if we personally lose our own small participation in this struggle; for Christ has already won the victory . . . in eschatological terms . . . even though the battle is still raging on earth. It is therefore our duty to join Christ’s victory and risk all in His cause. For it is in the resurrection that we have our hope and our faith. Our love of Christ and our willingness to reject evil is a very small return for that unmerited gift which our Lord gave and His sacrifice which was nothing short of a giving of His all. We have His word and His promise that He will not fail us. And like our Lord, we must not fear the loss of reputation, derision, humiliation, persecution or even death; for death has no sting for us in our struggle for righteousness as it is motivated by a firm love of Christ and for the Souls for Whom He suffered and died.

To struggle needlessly without a vision of victory is a modern concept and is a new Christianity devoid of all manner of struggle; it is a false peace with the world, the flesh and the devil. Such an impotent concept of the battle between good and evil, right and wrong, is a joyless existential faith sustained by a rationalistic and relativistic tepidness but lacks that vibrant living faith that anticipates, expects and therefore prepares for these spiritual battles. For we are His and He has given us all we need to prepare and inform ourselves for the victory or for an heroic stand.

We need not be surprised or disheartened by the many types of cleverly designed obstacles that satan places in our way. Those that have lost all thought and understanding of the boundless joy of our Christian martyrs who died in the firmness of their faith are also those who have grown cold in faith and have lost their confidence in the powers of heaven. Such an attitude renders the Christian faith sterile and effete and have lost its virile sense of struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil. They have no sense of the gravity of this struggle or any motivation to join the struggle; victory is not defined in winning but in prolonging a false peace and finding a way to negotiate a truce; a way to live in a framework of spiritual detente with evil.

Christianity was never meant to be delivered from one generation to the next devoid of this living truth in regards to our struggle and our mission to participate with Christ in this our final victory; albeit ours is but an imperfect participation in His victory. You can be listed as a victor, a martyr, a wounded hero or a deserter, an indifferent intellectual who values a modicum of ease and comfort without entering the fray; an indifference that is sold to others as an expression of love for our enemies and of being more merciful and loving than Christ. Though we are never to lose our hope and our love for the souls of those who are enslaved by sin, neither are we charged to negotiate a false peace hoping to sleep through this battle to which each of us is called. For the principalities and powers with which we struggle are gathering many adherents who need be loosed from their mental and immoral chains and Christ is not content that we should leave them where they are.

2 Timothy 4

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

We are extolled to ‘convince’, ‘rebuke’, and ‘exhort’ such victims who unwittingly aid and abet the enemy. We must use patience and never stop teaching the truths of our faith. For is this not the time when people no longer ‘endure sound teaching’ and ‘accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings’? They ’turn away from listening to the truth’. But we are charged to be steady, endure, suffer and to do the work of the evangelist; being a warrior for Christ not a negotiator for false peace or one to accommodate their whims and wishes . . . looking for some type of half-truth that might satisfy both them and Christ. For Christ recognizes no half-truths and the enemy reacts to appeasement as a wolf reacts to wounded prey. They smell the blood and they sense your fear and are driven into a rage or a feeding frenzy.

Struggle against those who would sell the Truth for a compromised truce with the world are warriors and are always at odds with the cowards of the world. You may not win your battle but you will die a man and can expect to win a crown of victory from the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. The victory is His and yet He does not forget those who died in battle and gave their all for love of Him and for love of the souls that He suffered and died to save. We therefore should seek to share in this victory against all odds rather than submit to defeat and eternal shame.

Ask yourself if you find convincing, rebuking and exhorting the Truth no longer works. Then ask if it is far better to use a new nuanced approach of appeasement which forsakes convincing arguments, the rebuking of sin (a false adherence to the lies of satan) and a strong exhortation to free the captives and break the chains of the evil one. Is this the method which holds great promise in our modern age . . . or have we begun to soothe our itching ears due to our love of comfort and distaste for confrontation?

The Male Priesthood: Culturally Conditioned?

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In most discussions with proponents of a female priesthood there is invariably an argument that recurs quite often. This is usually inserted after it is pointed out that the Apostles were all men and that they only ordained men as replacements or additions to their priestly ranks. Then the familiar counter argument usually is made that sounds something like this: “Well, you must take into account the social and cultural conditions of the times because women were seen as little more than possessions. Also they were primarily Jews who only had a male priesthood but there is no reason to forbid women from the priestly ranks in our days.” And, of course, there is something to be said about the culture of the time in respect to modern Western European cultures which look much different to even the most undiscerning eye.

However, I have a hunch that Christ, Who came to do His Father’s Will, would not have let cultural standards of the day stand in His way. Christ was seen as a revolutionary who defied many cultural norms: He went against Moses and his writ of divorce, He allowed His disciples to pick wheat on the Sabbath, He healed on the Sabbath, He said that we must drink His Blood and eat His Flesh (which violated the prohibitions of Leviticus concerning blood as well as hinted at cannibalism), His Apostles would go on to loose the requirement of circumcision of men, He dined with sinners and spoke to women adulteresses and pagan Samaritans when it was culturally forbidden. So Christ would have been either frightened of the people, though he stood his ground with the sadducees and the pharisees, or was sensitive to the scandal that He might cause and left it for a more enlightened time to lift the male only priesthood requirements on His Apostles. I find it hard to accept that Christ, who would suffer and die, to do His Father’s Will would be frightened or fear causing scandal among His disciples. After all, after his insistence on eating His Body and drinking His Blood in John 6, He allowed many of His disciples to leave and He did not call them back or explain that it was just ‘symbolic’ language. He simply let them depart to walk with Him no more.

It seems that the Father who gave the Jews a male priesthood and Christ who mirrored that priesthood in His newly formed Church simply followed and in fact fulfilled and completed a true priesthood that would deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him . . . doing that which Christ did at the Last Supper. He appointed them to act as He had done, in the person of Christ, and share His Body and Blood with His followers for all time. The same, of course is true in the forgiving of sins which was also conferred on these same men. In both instances these priests acted as ‘other Christs’ and continue to do so even to the present day.

Cultural conditioning did not stop Our Lord from doing anything during His incarnation on earth nor has the Holy Spirit moved the Church to change what Christ established in His male-only priesthood. That which was begun in the OT Church and perfected in His NT Church is the Will of the Father and instituted by Christ Himself.

Adherence to a Standard

English: Pianist Mark Eisenman

 The basis for all spirituality is adherence to a standard. In the case of Catholic Spirituality the standard is, of course, the definitive teachings of the Roman Catholic Church; including Her moral standard, as well as Her practices.

To borrow one of the late Fulton Sheen’s illustrations, let’s imagine ourselves sitting at a piano. When we strike any key on the instrument no one can say that we have hit a wrong note. However, in the context of playing a particular piece of music, many wrong notes are possible. The music to be played is a standard that must be followed precisely if we are to receive the applause that follows a successful rendition at a concert.

Our spiritual lives are very much like this. Our saints are like the virtuosos who garner much admiration after a difficult musical performance. We do not see or hear the mistakes previously made during practice nor are we made aware of the depth of the trials that these persons overcame in order to achieve their success. But rest assured that a struggle was a necessary prelude to all that they achieved.

The piano player made mistakes in practicing and worked them out. If they were beyond his ability to recognize and correct, he sought out a maestro or teacher who could give them musical exercises to overcome their shortfalls. But never did they decide to rewrite the score themselves in order that they might more easily play the piece or because they disagreed with some section of the musical piece. They adhered completely to the standard.

Likewise, a Catholic soul who desires to lead a spiritual life, who wishes to attempt Christ’s lofty goal to “be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), must practice holiness like a virtuoso practices his instrument. When he stumbles and falls, he returns to his Maestro (the Church) for correction. It is through this never ending and meticulous process of failure, confession, absolution, and spiritual direction that the soul is purified and our Catholic Spirituality made sound. We don’t rely solely on our own abilities nor do we re-write the teachings of the Church to aid us in our journey. For then we have only substituted our private standard for that of the Church and our spirituality becomes as flawed as the musician who ‘does his own thing’ without regard to the music that he has been asked to play. Just as such a musician will not long be a member of an orchestra, so too those who create their own standards cannot long remain members of the Divine Orchestra the Holy Catholic Church unless one fully accepts the Divine Music and at least attempts to play the performance according to Her Standard.

The first step to a healthy spirituality then is the desire to play in the Heavenly Orchestra and to humbly submit to play only those notes that are written. The next step is to practice according to the rules those things that are difficult and to seek help in correcting those things with which we constantly have problems. Once the soul has begun to faithfully apply himself to this humble obedience (this training of the will) and has sought help through prayer, countless days of practice (making virtues habitual),  and through the utilization of appointed teachers within the Church, much progress in the Spiritual Life is assured.

In music one studies the theory of music, seeks help and listens to others who play well, while in Spirituality the soul studies the teachings, the moral laws and precepts, prays, practices the virtues, and acquaints themselves with the great saints in order that they might acquire the holiness and piety which they are still working to perfect. Imperfections and failures are certain along the way but with these basics one can proceed safely without danger to ones immortal soul. “For what will it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26) Remember that sloth or laxity is a capital sin that we must always be on our guard to resist its appeal. Zeal for the Faith and zeal for Christ requires spiritual exercise and usually slow, often painfully difficult, continuous work.