From Sadness to Cheerfulness

From Sadness to Cheerfulness

  According to the “Dialogue” of St Catherine of Siena

  Meditation for a Time of Trials

  By Fr de Paillerets O.P.

Resignation

St Catherine is not surprised that sufferings, of any kind, cause tears to flow. But she doesn’t want them to be evil tears, purely human tears, that show our excessive attachments to the good things of this world, and even if those good things can have us in chains.

If a trial is sent to us, it has this precise purpose: to detach us from the world and from ourselves, so that we put ourselves entirely in the hands of Divine Providence.

The soul does not learn how to suffer the first time around. In the beginning, even if the tears are good, they are still mixed with a lot of self-love. And so, crying over herself “tears of tenderness and compassion“, — even if she accepts the sufferings in expiation for her sins — the soul has not yet, for all that, yet “thrown underfoot and entirely renounced her own will“.

God [who spoke to Catherine] says that she must learn “to despise herself and to hate herself perfectly, at the same time as she arrives from there, at a knowledge and familiarity with My goodness, which will turn her love into a fire. She begins from that moment to unite and conform her will to Mine, and to find and see in herself an entirely new joy and compassion. The joy that she feels in herself is from loving Me and the compassion that moves her is for the neighbor closest her [herself]”. So self-love has disappeared. “She doesn’t regret her own suffering, the damage to herself.” (89)

It is entirely necessary that we aim and move toward total acceptance and patient resignation to the things God wills. This is because, since we have categorically refused to align ourselves with the rebels against God, we don’t have any other path to pursue than the hatred of ourselves.

The thorns and tribulations” of this earth couldn’t even begin to make us turn back. Again, with the light of reason and of the holy faith, we must clearly see the love of God, which cannot will anything but what is good for us.

Respect for the Will of God

My servants “know that it is for their good and not out of hatred for them, but out of love, that I send trials to them.”

“…they purify themselves from their sins, by contrition of heart, they acquire merits from their perfect patience, and their trails will be rewarded by an infinite Good. They know that every suffering in this life lasts only a short while, like [earthly] time itself. Time is like the balancing point of a scale, nothing more! When time runs out, it is the end of suffering. It’s not very much!

With respect, they put up with everything that happens to them, judging it a grace to be tested and tried by me, and willing nothing other than what I will.

That’s how my servants bear their present trials, they go with patience through the thorns, which do not injure the heart. Their heart was not taken away from them by self-love involving the feelings!” (45)

For sure, self-love does not easily let go of its place without resistance. Beneath the deliberate acceptance of the will, self-love makes feelings of sadness, but we must not let it take the fort. What do these suffering feels count for compared to the essential peace to be found in the will? It’s in that sense that we read these words:

Whoever is born into this life is subject to pains, be they bodily or spiritual. My servants have bodily pains, but their spirits are always free; I mean that these bodily pains do not cause any sadness, because their will is in accord with Mine. However, it is in the will that man really suffers.”

Joyful Acceptance

Joy calls us so much, the joy of love. And this joy must invade us. God doesn’t want us to be satisfied with mere resignation. Or, even more, it is His love which brings joy to birth in the soul which suffers in accord with His will.

That’s what the soul has met in the teaching and example of the Lamb without stain. And so, passing by way this Word, she puts up with and takes “with a true and sweet patience all the pains and all the afflictions that I send to her for her salvation. She receives them with the strength of a courageous man, without choosing which one she prefers. She is not satisfied with accepting things patiently with mere resignation, but she cheerfully accepts them. As long as she has something to suffer she is happy! The soul is invaded with such a great joy, such a perfect tranquility of spirit, no tongue would know how to express it.” (89)

The cheerful joy of the strong, the patient, the loving: it’s not too high, to great for us. I want to say that Christ calls us all, and that we should not fear to desire this and to arrive at it. It might be that this will require long and painful efforts to conquer and to follow the Lamb. The Lord gives to some a rapid route that he doesn’t give to others. That doesn’t matter, as long as we welcome his designs with a trusting respect.

From the book of Rev. Father de Paillerets O.P., The Cross and Joy, 1932.

Translation by Fr M.

Saint Vincent Ferrer

Saint Vincent Ferrer

  Model for Times of Crisis

   After the scandals given by Pope Francis

In 1973, to fortify the faithful against the scandals that Pope Paul VI inflicted on them, Fr. Calmel O.P. invoked “the friar preacher who without a doubt, of all the saints, worked the most directly for the papacy”.

With pope Francis, it is more than ever a topical question.

**

Angel of Judgement, legate a latere Christi, deposing a Pope 1 after endless patience, saint Vincent Ferrer (1350-1419) is also the intrepid missionary, full of benignity, brimming with wonders and miracles, who proclaimed the Gospel to large crowds of Catholic people. He carried in his apostle’s heart not only the Supreme Pontiff—so enigmatic, so obstinate, so hard—but also the whole flock of Jesus-Christ, the multitude of helpless common people, the « turba magna ex omnibus tribubus et populis et linguis » – the huge crowd of every tribe and people and tongue (Ap. 5:9).

Saint Vincent understood that the primary concern of the vicar of Christ was not, far from it, to loyally serve the holy Church. The Pope valued, above all, his dark will for power. But if, at least among the faithful, a fervent catholic life could be revived in the Church – the concern for living in conformity with the dogmas, and the sacraments received from the apostolic tradition – if a pure and vehement breath of conversion and prayer finally surges upon this languishing and desolate Christianity, then without a doubt a vicar of Christ could finally come who would be truly humble, have a Christian awareness of his preeminent duty, and concern himself with fulfilling it at best in the spirit of the Sovereign Priest. If the catholic people regains a life in accordance with apostolic tradition, then it will become impossible for the vicar of Jesus Christ, when he acts toward maintaining and defending this Tradition, to fall into some too deep errors, to let himself tend toward a certain complicity with lying. It will become necessary that, without delay, a good pope and perhaps a saintly Pope succeeds the bad and lost Pope. […]

The more we need a holy pope, the more we need to begin to put our life, with the grace of God and by adhering to Tradition, in the footsteps of the saints.

Then the Lord Jesus will eventually give the flock the visible shepherd whom He will have endeavored to make worthy. We must not add our particular negligence to the inadequacy or defection of the head. May the apostolic Tradition be at least living in the heart of the faithful even if, for the moment, it is languishing in the heart and the decisions of him who is responsible at the level of the Church. Then certainly the Lord will be merciful.

It is also necessary, for that purpose, that our interior life refers not to the Pope but to Jesus Christ. Our interior life, which obviously includes the truths of revelation regarding the Pope, should refer purely to the Sovereign Priest, to our God and Savior Jesus-Christ, so as to overcome the scandals that come to the Church through the Pope. This is saint Vincent Ferrer’s perennial lesson in apocalyptic times of one of the major deficiencies of the Roman pontiff.

(Fr Roger-Thomas Calmel O.P., « On the Church and the Pope in all times and in our times », in Itinéraires 173 (May 1973), pp. 22-41. Text reproduced in Le Sel de la terre 12b – special issue on Father Calmel – pp. 179-181.)

Translation by A. A.

1 — Benedict XIII, at the time of the Great Schism. Saint Vincent was convinced that Benedict XIII was the legitimate Pope, and he became his confessor. After some years, he realized that he was not. We don’t want to tell here that Pope Francis is not legitimate. It’s not up to us to judge.

Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274): Feast: March 7

Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

 

Feast: March 7

Thomas the Apostle challenged the story that the Lord was risen, and his unbelief brought forth a glowing testimony of the reality of the Resurrection.

Twelve centuries later, his namesake, Thomas of Aquino, questioned—without doubting—the great truths of faith, and demonstrated for all time the rela­tionship of faith and reason.  As the first Thomas found by experiment (“Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side”) that the Man who stood in the midst of them was none other than Jesus Christ, so Thomas, the Angelic Doctor, proved for all time that there is no quarrel between reason and revelation.

Thomas, son of the count of Aquino, was first trained at the Benedictine abbey of Montecassino, and here, even in childhood, his great mind was wrestling with theological problems.  His passion for truth is expressed in his constant question, “Master, tell me—what is God?”

Better to train the boy’s mind, his father sent him at an early age to the University of Naples.  Here he studied under Peter of Ireland and, undisturbed by the noise and wickedness of the great university city, proceeded rapidly on his quest for God.

Meeting the Dominicans, he was strongly attracted by their apostolic life and petitioned to be received as one of them.  While recognizing the gifts of the young student, the friars refused him admittance to the Order until he was eighteen.  Acting deliberately, without a backward glance at the power and wealth he was leaving, Thomas, at eighteen, joyfully put on the habit of the new Order.

Like many a gifted young man, Thomas was bitterly opposed by his family when he attempted to become a religious.  Both threats and persuasion failing, he was kidnapped by his brothers and locked in a tower for more than a year.  His sisters were sent in to influence him, and he proceeded to convert them to his own way of thinking.  A woman was sent in to tempt him; he drove her from the room with a burning brand from the fire; afterwards, angels came to gird him with the cincture of perpetual chastity.  The captivity having failed to break the determination, his brothers relaxed their guard, and Thomas, with the help of his sisters, escaped from the tower and hurried back to his convent.

Given the finest education that his time could offer, Thomas studied first in Cologne (Germany), and later at Paris, under Master Albert the Great.  This outstanding Dominican teacher and saint became his lifelong friend and loyal defender.  They taught together at Cologne and became a mutual influence for good in one of the most beautiful friendships in Dominican history.

For the rest of his life, Thomas was to teach and preach with scarcely a day of rest.  He traveled continually, which makes all the more remarkable the amount of writing he did.  Death found him in a familiar place – on the road – where he was bound for the Council of Lyons in obedience to the pope’s command.  He died at the Cistercian abbey of Fossanova, in a borrowed bed – obscurity hardly fitting the intellectual light of the Order, but perfectly suited to the humble friar that Thomas had always been.

Overheard in a colloquy with the Master he served so well, with heart and mind and pen, Thomas was heard to ask as his reward, “Thyself, O Lord, none but Thyself!”

From the book, Saint Dominic’s family,

By sister Mary-Jean Dorcy O.P.

Dominican sister of the Holy Cross

Dubuque (Iowa), The Priory Press, 1964

Also see the article Saint Thomas Aquinas in today’s combat for the faith  on this website

Saint Dominic, Knight of the Truth

Saint Dominic

Picture

(1190-1215)

Knight of the Truth

Liturgical Feast : August 4

Saint Dominic’s chief glory among men lies in the broad and free spirit bequeathed to the threefold religious family of friars, nuns and tertiaries which perpetuates in our times the apostolate of spreading of the Truth and of fight against the errors and against those who spread them, inaugurated by him in the thirteenth century.

What, then, was this spirit which he gave to his followers and which is the special mark of his genius ?

Briefly, we may say the essence of this spirit is embodied in his intellectual ideal, which distinguished Saint Dominic among the great leaders who, by several fashions of religious life, have founded in the Church institutes to lead souls Godward.

By no mere accident the motto of his religious family is « Truth », for this word touches the magic appeal of saint Dominic’s heart. Were we to choose a text to express the peculiar mold of his genius, we could find none better than the Saviour’s words : « The Truth shall make you free » (Jn 8, 32). He aimed at truth and attained freedom of soul. Consequently, he zealously fought against the errors which destroyed truth in the souls : a good pastor doesn’t only gives pasture to his flock. He also protects it against the wolves. If not, he cannot be called a good pastor. He is a mercenary !

The long student life of Saint Dominic at Palencia (Spanish famous University of this time), his years of contemplation as canon of the cathedral of Osma (Spain), his apostolic preaching in Languedoc (south of France) against the Cathars, his dispersion of the brethren (August 15, 1217) to the University centers just after the foundation of the Order (December 22, 1216), and finally the astounding influence which his friars straightway exercised at these power-houses of learning – all these facts bring out strikingly clear the intellectual mission of Saint Dominic and of the Order he founded.

And moreover, was it not this mark of his genius that, in the thirteenth century, charmed the most virile intellect of Europe, Saint Thomas Aquinas ?

The secret of Saint Dominic’s holiness, then, was his fast-knit friendship with Christ, who is the Truth, the model of perfect spiritual freedom, the freedom of the children of God.

(From the book Dominican saints, by Dominican novices, Washington D.C., The Rosary Press, Dominican Publications, 1921.  Slightly revised by the Dominican Fathers of Avrillé.)


Liturgical prayers to our blessed father, Saint Dominic

O Lumen Ecclésiae,

Doctor veritátis,

Rosa patiéntiæ,

Ebur castitátis,

Aquam sapiéntiae

Propinásti gratis;

Prædicátor grátiæ,

Nos junge beátis.

Light of the Church,

Teacher of truth,

Rose of patience,

Ivory of chastity:

Thou didst freely pour forth

the waters of wisdom;

Preacher of grace,

unite us to the blessed !

O SPEM MIRAM, quam dedísti mortis hora te fléntibus, dum post mortem promisísti te profutúrum frátribus ! Imple, Pater, quod dixísti, nos tuis juvans précibus.

V. Qui tot signis claruísti in ægrórum corpóribus, nobis opem ferens Christi, ægris medére móribus. Imple, Pater, quod dixísti, nos tuis juvans précibus.

R. Glória Patri et Fílio et Spirítui Sancto. Imple, Pater, quod dixísti, nos tuis juvans précibus.

SWEET THE HOPE thy fainting breath

Gave to those who wept thy death,

Promising, though life were flown,

Thou wouldst still protect Thine own,

Father, keep that gracious word

Pleading for us with our Lord.

V. Who so oft was wont to shine

Midst the sick with powers divine,

To our languid souls apply

Christ’s restoring remedy.

Father, keep that gracious word,

Pleading for us with Our Lord.

R. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,

and to the Holy Ghost

Father, keep that gracious word,

Pleading for us with Our Lord.