Dialogue About Perfection

Dialogue About Perfection

  by Saint Catherine of Siena

   (published in French by Éditions du Sel. English version by A. A.)

The Honor of God; The Misery and Fragility of Man;

The Need to Strive for Perfection

The Author of the light communicated to a soul1. He made her understand her fragility and misery, ignorance and natural inclination to evil; at the same time, He gave her some glimpses of the greatness of God, His wisdom, power, goodness, and the other attributes of His majesty.

Thus enlightened, this soul saw how just and necessary it is to render perfect and holy worship to God. It is just, because He is the universal Lord Who created all things to praise His name and obtain His glory. Do not propriety and justice require that, respectful of his master, the servant give him service and loyalty? It is necessary, because man, composed of body and soul, was created in such a condition that he will only attain eternal life by voluntarily rendering faithful service to God up to the point of death; otherwise, he will never obtain the felicity that accumulates all honors.

However, there are few who render this service and, consequently, few who are saved, because almost all have their own interests in mind and not those of God.

This soul also saw that the days of man are short, that the day is uncertain when the fleeting time to merit will end, that no redemption is possible in hell, and that in the future life, He will justly pronounce an immutable and inevitable sentence on each, the reward or punishment that his way of living deserved.

This soul again considered that, on the one hand, we often talk too much and preach abundantly and variously on the virtues which render this worship and faithful service to God; and that, on the other hand, because of his lack of aptitude, obtuse intelligence, and feeble memory, man cannot understand many things nor faithfully retain what he learned. Also, while many are in a perpetual quest to learn something new, very few apply themselves to attaining perfection and serving God as is right and necessary for Him; but nearly all, preoccupied and given over to the agitations and fluctuations of the mind, habitually live in extreme peril.

The Desire for Perfection

This soul, therefore, seeing all this, rose up before the Lord, moved by a burning desire and violent love, and asked the Divine Majesty to be good enough to give her some short and clear precepts to regulate our life now and to lead it to its perfection; precepts whose formulas would embrace the teaching of the Church and Holy Scripture, and whose observance would render the necessary honor to God and lead us from this brief and miserable life to the beatitude that He intends for us.

God inspires holy desires and never arouses them in a heart without satisfying them 2. So he immediately manifested Himself to this soul ravished in ecstasy and replied:

In What Does Complete Perfection Consist?

• The Lord

My beloved, your desires delight Me; I like them so much that I am much more eager to satisfy them than you can, and eager to see them satisfied. My desire is immense to give you, when you want it, the useful and necessary benefits for your salvation. So I am ready to do whatever you want.

Listen carefully to what I am going to tell you, I, the ineffable and infallible truth. To answer your request, I am going to explain to you in a few words the practice which contains complete perfection, along with all the virtues, the summary of Scriptures and many discourses. If you conform your life to it and observe it, you will accomplish all that is clear and mysterious in the divine teachings, and you will enjoy perpetual joy and peace.

Doing God’s Will Alone, Following Christ’s Example

• The Lord

Thus, know that the salvation and the perfection of My servants consist in one thing: to do only My will, to strive with a sovereign diligence always to accomplish it; to work at all hours to serve only Me, to honor only Me, to seek only Me. The more diligence My servants bring to it, the more they approach perfection, because they more closely adhere and are united to Me, Who am sovereign perfection.

To better understand the truth contained in these few words, look at my Christ in whom I am very pleased 3. He annihilated himself in the form of a slave; He took on the likeness of sin because, plunged into thick darkness and straying from the path of truth, He wanted to enlighten you with the splendors of His light and bring you back to the straight way by His word and example4. He was obedient unto death to teach you through His persevering obedience that your salvation depends on a firm resolution to do My will alone. Anyone who wishes to meditate diligently on His life and His doctrine realizes, without a doubt, that the justice and perfection of men rests solely on generous, perpetual, and faithful obedience to My will.

Your leader, Christ, has taught it many times: “Not everyone that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father” (Mt. 7:21).

And notice that it is not without reason that He repeats twice: “Lord, Lord”; the states of this world being reduced to two principal ones, the religious state and the secular state. He means that no one, in any state whatsoever, can attain eternal glory, even by giving Him all external honors, if he does not do God’s will.

My Son said again: “I came down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him that sent Me5. (…) My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me6. (…) Father … not My will, but Thine be done7. (…) as the Father hath given Me commandments, so do I8.”

So if you want, like your Savior, to do My will, which contains your happiness, it is necessary that in all things you despise your own will, that you renounce it, that you destroy it9. The more you purify yourself of what is yours, the more I will give you what is mine.

To be continued

1It is the soul of Saint Catherine.

2On another occasion, the Eternal Father said to St. Catherine: “I do not despise the desire of my servants, yet I give to him who asks and invite you to ask. (…) sometimes, to test your desires and perseverance, I pretend not to hear you, but I hear you and give you what you need, because I give you hunger and the voice with which you cry out to me, and seeing your constancy, I fulfill your desires when they are ordered and directed toward me.” (Dialogue ch. 107)

3St. Catherine wrote: “Christ is on the cross as our rule, like a written book which anyone, even the ignorant and blind, can read. The first line of this book is hatred and love: love of the honor of the Father, hatred of sin.” (Letter to Br. Lazzani)

4The Eternal Father had already said to Catherine: “What caused the great obedience of the Word? The love which He had for My honor and your salvation. Whence proceeded this love? From the clear vision with which His soul saw the divine essence and the eternal Trinity, thus always looking on Me, the eternal God. His fidelity obtained this vision most perfectly for Him, which vision you imperfectly enjoy by the light of holy faith. He was faithful to Me, His eternal Father, and therefore hastened as one enamored along the road of obedience” (Dialogue 154 ; THOROLD Ed., Treatise of Obedience, §1).

5 John 6:38

6 John 4:34

7 Luke 22:42

8John 22:42

9Self-will is that which, being inspired neither by the glory of God nor the salvation of souls, proposes only its personal satisfaction. It is directly contrary to charity. Nothing is more essential than its destruction.

To Say That A Canonical Recognition Is Not Feasible Before Rome Returns To Tradition, Is This A Schismatic Attitude?

To Say That A Canonical Recognition

Is Not Feasible Before Rome Returns To Tradition,

Is This A Schismatic Attitude?

By Maubert

published in Le Sel de la Terre 107

Reasons for an Affirmative Response

  • First Reason

Refusing the jurisdiction that is offered to us amounts to denying all jurisdiction that comes from the pope. However, to deny the primacy of jurisdiction of the Roman pontiff, is the characteristic of schismatics.

  • Second Reason

To deny communion with the pope and most of the faithful, during more and more years, has given us a schismatic attitude: we do not feel the need to integrate the “visible perimeter” of the Church, so we have lost the Sensus Ecclesiae.

  • Third Reason

To stand apart from Church authorities when they ask us to abandon faith and the liturgy of time immemorial, is understandable and excuses the schism; but since today we are accepted “just as we are,” our conduct would become unjustified and the schism would be formal.

  • Fourth Reason

The place of Tradition must be in the “official perimeter” of the Church so that it remains visible.

Opinions to the Contrary

To continue to profess the faith of all time and to celebrate with traditional worship, away from the conciliar Church has never been considered by Archbishop Lefebvre as a schism: “we truly represent the Catholic Church,” 1 he said, and that was even after the consecrations of 1988, just after John Paul II excommunicated him.

Why should we be now schismatic if we hold the same attitude towards modernist Rome?

In-Depth Response

  • What is schism?

Schism, says Cardinal Billot, opposes the unity of communion. […] It is incurred in two ways :

— First, if one directly refuses obedience to the supreme pontiff, not accepting what he commands, not precisely from the point of view of what is commanded (for that would amount to mere disobedience), but from the point of view of the authority that commands, that is, refusing to recognize the pope as head and superior.

— Secondly, if one separates directly from the communion of the Catholic faithful, for example by behaving like a separate group.2

At first sight, traditionalists seem to be schismatic in two ways:

— the absence of an effective link of dependence suggests that they do not recognize the authority of the pope;

— and they seem to form a sort of “little church” and are called “lefebvrists” or “integrists” while refusing to mingle with other faithful.

  • The bond of faith is first

However, Pope Leo XIII, in the encyclical Satis Cognitum, speaking on the unity of the Church, says this:

« Agreement and union of minds is the necessary foundation of this perfect concord amongst men, from which concurrence of wills and similarity of action are the natural results. Wherefore, in His divine wisdom, He ordained in His Church Unity of Faith; a virtue which is the first of those bonds which unite men to God, and whence we receive the name of the faithful. »

A few years later, in his magisterial encyclical condemning the false ecumenism, Mortalium Animos, Pius XI will resume the same idea:

« Since charity is based on a complete and sincere faith, the disciples of Christ must be united principally by the bond of one faith. »

It emerges from these Pontifical teachings that there is in the Church a more fundamental unity than the unity of communion: it is the unity of faith. And for the unity of communion to be true, it is absolutely necessary for it to have the unity of faith. Hence, it is clear that the first schismatics are the heretics: “Heresy,“ says Cardinal Billot, “is a schism, for it directly opposes the unity of faith.” One can oppose the unity of communion without opposing the unity of faith, but one can not oppose the unity of faith without opposing the unity of communion, since the first is the foundation of the second.

  • It is those who deviate from the faith that commit schism

When we consider the situation of the Church since the Second Vatican Council, we see that people who occupy positions of authority are imbued with liberalism and modernism. They have imposed reforms that destroy the Church because they oppose traditional faith and worship. Thus, they broke with the Tradition of many centuries, that is to say, definitively, they broke with the unity of faith; and the unity of communion they are trying to achieve is only a pseudo-unity, because it has lost its true foundation. The modernist hierarchy, so long as it is modernist, is heretical: it opposes the unity of faith by preaching its errors and, consequently, to the unity of communion. In other words, it is the conciliar Church that is schismatic because it seeks to achieve a unity that is no longer the Catholic unity.

Archbishop Lefebvre said clearly:

« The conciliar Church is practically schismatic. [….] It is a virtually excommunicated church, because it is a modernist church. The pope wants to create unity without that of faith. It’s a communion. A communion to whom? to what? in what? It is no longer unity. This can only be done in the unity of faith. » 3

  • And the pope?

As Cardinal Journet explains, in The Church of the Incarnate Word, 4 the pope himself can sin against ecclesiastical communion by breaking the unity of direction, which would happen if he did not fulfill his duty. and refused to the Church the orientation it is entitled to expect from him, in the name of one greater than him, Christ, its founder and invisible leader. And it is unfortunately the painful situation in which we have found since the Council. If Archbishop Lefebvre was to stay away from the modernist hierarchy and the conciliar Church, it was by fidelity to Tradition, refusing to commit schism and break with the unity of faith, as it has always been done in the Church. « The Church, Father Calmel O.P. said, is not the mystical body of the pope, but of Christ ». 5 If, therefore, the pope fails in his office to the point of promoting heresy and schism, then it is better to obey Christ. and remain faithful to the Church of all time, even if it means enduring the wrath of the authorities in power. Archbishop Lefebvre preferred to stay away from this hierarchy and this false communion:

« To leave, therefore, from the official Church? To a certain extent, yes, of course. If the bishops are in heresy, it is necessary to leave the midst of the bishops if one does not wish to lose one’s soul. If we get away from these people, it’s absolutely the same as with people who have AIDS. We do not want to catch it. But they have spiritual AIDS, these contagious diseases. If we want to keep health, we must not go with them. » 6

  • Origin of our attitude

In practice, the Catholic must not desire and can not be in communion with a hierarchy that favors modernism, liberalism, and ecumenism which are condemned by the popes and direct the faithful in ways foreign to Tradition. It would be better to endure the persecutions, criticisms, epithets of “schismatics” and “excommunicated,” than to collaborate in the undertakings of this hierarchy and the loss of souls.

1Fideliter 70, p. 6.

2 — Cardinal BILLOT, L’Eglise, volume II, Publications of the Courrier de Rome, 2010, p. 69-70.

3Fideliter 70, p. 8.

4 — Cardinal JOURNET, L’Eglise du Verbe Incarné, Desclée de Brouwer, Fribourg, 1962, vol. II, p. 839 sq.

5 — Père Roger-Thomas CALMEL O.P., « De l’Église et du pape», in Itinéraires 173, May 1973, p. 28.

6 — Conference in Ecône, 9 September 1988, cited in Fideliter 66, p. 28.

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