Lex Orandi. Lex Credendi.

To discuss meditations and insights into our daily, traditional (Tridentine) Roman Catholic readings. Also, this is to discuss the development of the interior life as traditional, Roman Catholics in complete obedience to the Pope, Magesterium and the Apostles of Christ.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Examine Your Means and End


On the Blessed Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
May Our Lady of Mount Carmel Pray for Us!

What is your means?
What is your end?

Many Catholics, traditional or non-traditional, use political issues (however grounded in Truth), prayer groups, church congregational groups, religious affiliations, charitable work, or even the Catholic doctrine as if it was their end. These can be our means, but they are certainly not our end. Having the true faith, meaning, believeing 100% of what the Church believes and teaches (the same as what the Apostles believe and taught), is not enough if one isn't making Heaven their end goal. We can't simply presume upon such a gift. Heaven is a reward for those who do the work given to them! Some people (actually, many) hide behind their outwardly pious devotions, religious debates, and even hide behind prayers and various church-affiliated business to keep from doing the work. These things, while prayer, pious devotions and acts of charity are good, in them of themselves, they can also be a way of throwing off one's cross, the very cross given to them by God. Yet, they make themselves content and even proud for the fact that they are doing the will of God. Not necessarily so.

So what is "the work" we are each and all called to do? That work to which I refer includes prayer, but it isn't just any prayer, it is this: daily acts of Contrition. This is where we begin the battle, otherwise, we are on our way to becoming casualties. Yes, the daily rosary is ESSENTIAL to doing spiritual battle against the Devil, but how can you act in grace against the other two enemies, the flesh and the world, if you are not even contrite? In sure order and quickly will the enemy, the Devil, take advantage of a soul who has allowed himself to become blinded to his own imperfecions by keeping his mind's focus on all the good he's doing, or all the bad he's not doing. Such lack of humility is a sure way towards falling, because such a person's spiritual eyes to see such traps are closed shut. Yes, complacency in one's Catholic-ness is not only a sure way towards being tricked by the devil (usually unknowingly), but it is a certain, expedient and common way.

What keeps us from our evening Act of Contrition? Or rather, more precisely put, what brings us to that spiritual complacency, or "lukewarmness"? The answer: lack of contrition is due to lack of proper examination of conscience.

What are some of the COMMON causes of the lack of proper examination of conscience?
1.) Not enough priests in the Confessionals. What? Vatican II was so great that Catholics have become so holy, that there is simply considerably less need for the Sacrament of Penance? Only up until relatively recently, confessing one's sins to a priest was used to not only confess mortal sins, but to keep those already living in Sanctifiying Grace in that state, by confessing venial sins, ESPECIALLY habitual venial sins. But who talks about "venial sins" anymore? Certainly, it's not because we've all suddenly become saints, but because it's become taboo (sp?) (priests don't want to lose congregational members by turning them off and making them talk about their sins, afterall, they might leave the Church and go to some denominational church where the Sacrament doesn't even exist).


Confession: it worked for the saints, but the Catholics of today think they know better, or perhaps they could careless and think, "Well, I'm no saint, therefore, I'm not concerned about becoming one." Well, guess what, our Lord and Savior tells us to "be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Not a single one of us can get into Heaven without becoming first a saint. IF we do get into Heaven, most likely we will burn off our imperfections in Purgatory. But if you are shooting for Purgatory, and you miss, game over! You've just earned yourself the encountering of death for eternity.

Oh, but that's "fire and brimstone talk" you say. Oh, yes it is. It's also true.
But here are the positive reinforcements:

If we want to love Jesus more, we need to do the work. If we want to know Jesus more, we need to encounter him mystically by not throwing off the cross given to us. It was made perfectly for us in order to make us perfect, that is, so long as we embrace it.

2.) The second reason many (if not most) Catholics no longer do (or are yet able to) examine their consciences is because they don't know how. Since they don't have a Confessor that they go to at least once or twice a month (perferably), or they have one who simply is not giving them good direction regaring their major fault(s) and how to conquer them, these Catholics are without proper self-knowledge.

1.) Get a good Confessor who will help you eventually to assess your major fault. If he's not interested in doing this, keep looking. Make certain the priest is regularly available, so you can confess all sins, mortal and venial (even if only venial), and even faults (when you go to confess a fault you also will be asked by the priest to confess something from your past, some major sin... this procures HUGE GRACES).

2.) Become a GRACE HOG like the saints and rely heavily upon the graces of the Sacrament of Penance. Start reading about the saints and their thoughts on their faults.

3.) Start thinking on the 7 Deadly Sins, and examining yourself. Are there near occasions of sin that you are willingly and unnecessarily (without due or reasonable cause... this must be further explained by a priest) entering into? Are YOU offering an occasion of unncessary sin to others, perhaps by immodest dressing (i.e., a woman who wears tight pants, high heels, other suggestive clothing)... these are all sins against charity, as is willfully offering occasions of sin of any kind (such as alcohol to someone who has had shown to have trouble in this moderation). Examine your interior dialogue that provokes you to take in scandal or to offer it. Examine your interior dialogue that provokes you towards any near occasion of sin, or outright sin. Examine your interior diaglogue towards thoughts that you have that may not be sinful, but a fault as they are offensive to God. This is NOT the same thing as scrupulosity, as having scruples is the inclination to believe you are sinning when, infact, you are not. (I've actually had a new priest confuse examining and confessing of a fault as scrupulosity. If that is the case, then all the Doctor's of the Church were way off-base. I'm today blessed with a good Confessor, who knows the difference, can assess whether or a penitent knows the difference that they penitent is not scrupulous, and aids all his penitents in overcoming their main faults. This isn't merely a good idea, it is essential. If you see a bad weed in a garden, do you merely cut it down, or do you look to remove it by its root?)


5.) At every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, as the Lord to give you light that you may see yourself and come into true, and perfect contrition.

6.) Pray the 3 Hail Mary's the very first moment you get out of bed and the very last thing you do before getting into bed, and ask at the end of each prayer, "By thy Holy and Immaculate Conception, O Mary, prevent me this day/night from mortal sin" and you may also wish to add something like, "a guide from committing any venial sin" or "give me the grace to see my faults".

7.) MEDITATE OFTEN ON THE PASSION OF CHRIST. Try to remain recollected at every moment you are awake. Talk to a Spiritual Director or a good Confessor as to the obstacles that are keeping you from maintaining recollection. You may get to a point where you realize that you have to make a choice between certain social situations, groups, environments, that provide such distractions that you find it impossible to maintain the thoughts of Christ. This may be a sign that you need to chose between an attachment that is temporal (and possibly dangerous to your soul) and God. Another reason for lack of spiritual peace* is the rebellion of the soul towards perfection. This is, more plainly put, due to habitual sins and faults.(*This is not to be confused with spiritual sloth, which FEELS like spiritual peace to a lot of people, but is actually a false sense of security in Christ hidden by complacency for one's own spiritual state, due to disordered pride. Real spiritual peace is recollection and promotes the state of one's soul towards perfection in all the virtues, to where the person has true magnaminity in the theological sense).

The more we meditate on the passion of Christ, the more we will want to be like him, the more we will want to embrace our own crosses, the more we will become like him.

Don't let anyone every tell you this type of thinking is "old school". Jesus tells us he hates the lukewarm, and that He would rather we cold or hot. If we are cold, it is due mostly to ignorance, but if we are tepid, there is always an element of knowledge, but unwillingness to act on that knowledge. It is this disobedience that puts between us an even greater distance between ourselves and God, because to that degree that we are lukewarm, we deny the grace of our Baptism.

One last piece of advice: Commit yourselves to your Blessed Mother. Do so by the means of the oldest and surest path known to Christians for at least the past 1000 years (although it was only popularized recently by the Montfortians through their spiritual Father's writings) ...
Read the Secrets of Mary.
Read (or re-read, as the case may be) True Devotion.
Re-consecrate yourself to Mary through the Preparation for Total Consecration as often as possible.

Also, I recommend reading or listening to, "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis.

God bless you.


Blogger Sofia said...

This is an excellent post, although your expression, "Grace Hog," made me smile.

One small correction, however: "The Screwtape Letters," were authored by C.S. Lewis, not Chesterton.

God bless,

July 17, 2006 2:01 PM  

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