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​Of those who Continue in Sin, trusting in the Mercy of God 

Taken from the book entitled The Sinner’s Guide by the Venerable Louis of Granada 





Besides those who defer their conversion till the hour of death, there are others who persevere in sin, trusting in the mercy of God and the merits of His Passion. We must now disabuse them of this illusion. You say that God’s mercy is great, since He died on the cross for the salvation of sinners. It is indeed great, and a striking proof of its greatness is the fact that He bears with the blasphemy and malice of those who so presume upon the merits of His death as to make His cross, which was intended to destroy the kingdom of evil, a reason for multiplying sin. Had you a thousand lives you would owe them all to Him, yet you rob Him of that one life which you have and for which He died. 
This crime was more bitter to Our Saviour than death itself. For it He reproaches us by the mouth of His prophet, though He does not complain of His sufferings: “The wicked have wrought upon my back; they have extended their iniquity.” (Ps. 128:3). Who taught you to reason that because God was good you could sin with impunity? Such is not the teaching of the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, those who listen to His voice reason thus: God is good; therefore, I must serve Him, obey Him, and love Him above all things. God is good; therefore, I will turn to Him with all my heart; I will hope for pardon, notwithstanding the number and enormity of my sins. God is good; therefore, I must be good if I would imitate Him. God is good; therefore, it would be base ingratitude in me to offend Him by sin. Thus, the greater you represent God’s goodness the more heinous are your crimes against Him. Nor will these offenses remain unpunished, for God’s justice, which protects His mercy, cannot permit your sinful abuse of it to remain unavenged. This is not a new pretext; the world has long made use of it. In ancient times it distinguished the false from the true prophets. While the latter announced to the people, in God’s name, the justice with which He would punish their iniquities, the former, speaking in their own name, promised them mercy which was but a false peace and security.
You say God’s mercy is great; but if you presume upon it you show that you have never studied the greatness of His justice. Had you done so you would cry out to the Lord with the psalmist: “Who knoweth the power of thy anger, and for thy fear who can number thy wrath?” (Ps. 89:11-12). But to dissipate your illusion, let me ask you to contemplate this justice in the only way in which we may have any knowledge of it – that is, in its effects here below. Besides the result we are seeking, we shall reap another excellent advantage by exciting in our hearts the fear of God, which, in the opinion of the saints, is the treasure and defence of the soul. Without the fear of God the soul is like a ship without ballast; the winds of human or divine favor may sweep it to destruction. Notwithstanding that she may be richly laden with virtue, she is in continual danger of being wrecked on the rocks of temptation, if she be not stayed by this ballast of the fear of God. Therefore, not only those who have just entered God’s service, but those who have long been of His household, should continue in this salutary fear; the former by reason of their past transgressions, the latter on account of their weakness, which exposes them to danger at every moment. This holy fear is the effect of grace, and is preserved in the soul by frequent meditation.

To aid you in this reflection we shall here propose a few of the practical proofs of the greatness of God’s justice. The first work of God’s justice was the reprobation of the angels. “All the ways of God are mercy and justice” (Cf. Ps. 24:10), says David; but until the fall of the angels, divine justice had not been manifested. It had been shut up in the bosom of God like a sword in the scabbard, like that sword of which Ezechiel speaks with alarm, foretelling the ruin it will cause. (Cf. Ezech. 21). This first sin drew the sword of justice from its scabbard, and terrible was the destruction it wrought. Contemplate its effects; raise your eyes and behold one of the most brilliant beings of God’s house, a resplendent image of the divine beauty, flung with lightning-like rapidity from a glorious throne in Heaven to the uttermost depths of Hell, for one thought of pride. (Cf. Lk, 10:18). The prince of heavenly spirits becomes the chief of devils. His beauty and glory are changed into deformity and ignominy. God’s favorite subject is changed into His bitterest enemy, and will continue such for all eternity. With what awe this must have filled the angels, who knew the greatness of his fall! With what astonishment they repeat the words of Isaias: “How art thou fallen from heaven, 0 Lucifer, who didst rise in the morning”? (Is. 14:12).

Consider also the fall of man, which would have been no less terrible than that of the angels, if it had not been repaired. Behold in it the cause of all the miseries we suffer on earth: original and actual sin, suffering of body and mind, death, and the ruin of numberless souls who have been lost forever. Terrible are the calamities it brought upon us; and even greater would be our misfortunes had not Christ, by His death, bound the power of sin and redeemed us from its slavery. How rigorous, therefore, was the justice of God in thus punishing man’s rebellion; but how great was His goodness in restoring him to His friendship! In addition to the penalties imposed on the human race for the sin of Adam, new and repeated punishments have at different times been inflicted upon mankind for the crimes they have committed. In the time of Noe, the whole world was destroyed by the deluge. (Cf. Gen. 7). Fire and brimstone from Heaven consumed the wicked inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrha. (Cf. Gen. 19). The earth opened and swallowed alive into Hell Core, Dathan, and Abiron for resisting the authority of Moses. (Cf. Num. 16). Nadab and Abiu, sons of Aaron, were destroyed by a sudden flame from the sanctuary because they offered strange fire in the sacrifice. (Cf. Lev. 10). Neither their priestly character, nor the sanctity of their father, nor the intimacy with God of their uncle, Moses, could obtain for them any remission for their fault. Recall the example of Ananias and Sapphira, struck dead by God for telling a lie. (Cf. Acts 5). 
But the strongest proof of the rigor of God’s justice was the satisfaction required for sin, which was nothing less than the death of His only-begotten Son. Think of this Price of man’s Redemption, and you will begin to realize what sin is and how the justice of God regards it. Think, too, of the eternity of Hell, and judge of the rigor of that justice which inflicts such punishment. This justice terrifies you, but it is no less certain than the mercy in which you trust. Yes, through endless ages, God will look upon the indescribable torments of the damned, but they will excite in Him no compassion; they will not move Him to limit their sufferings or give them any hope of relief. Oh! Mysterious depths of divine justice! Who can reflect upon them and not tremble? Another subject to which I would call your serious attention is the state of the world. Reflect on this, and you will begin to realize the rigors of God’s justice. As an increase in virtue is the effect and reward of virtue, so likewise an increase in sin is the effect and punishment of sin. Indeed, it is one of the greatest chastisements that can be inflicted on us, when we are permitted, through blindness and passion, to rush headlong down the broad road of vice, adding sin to sin every day and hour of our lives. This is but just; for when man once mortally sins he loses all right to any help from God. It is owing solely to the divine mercy when he is converted.
Look, therefore, over the world, and behold the greatness of its iniquity. Think of the millions who are living in infidelity and heresy. Think how many calling themselves Christians are daily betraying their name by their scandalous lives. Why is this sad condition permitted? Ah! It is owing to man’s crimes. God is disobeyed, insulted, and mocked by the majority of men, and His long-suffering justice, being wearied by their wickedness, permits them to go on in their mad career. St. Augustine is an illustrious example of this. “I was plunged,” he says, “in iniquity, and Thy anger was aroused against me, but I knew it not. I was deaf to the noise which the chains of my sins made. But this ignorance, this deafness, were the punishments of my pride.” Reflect on this. Men act freely when they sin, for no man is forced to do wrong. But when they have fallen they cannot rise without the divine assistance.

Now, God owes this to no man. It is His gratuitous gift when He restores the sinner to His favor. Hence He but exercises His justice when He permits him to remain in his misery, and even to fall lower. When, therefore, we behold so much iniquity, have we not reason to feel that God’s justice permits men to become so blinded and hardened? I say permits, for man is the cause of his own miseries; God urges him only to what is good. If, then, you perceive in yourself any mark of such divine anger, be not without fear. Remember that you need no help but your own passions and the devil’s temptations to carry you along the broad road to destruction. Stop while you have time. Implore the divine mercy to aid you in retracing your steps till you discover that narrow way which leads to everlasting life. Having found it, walk manfully in it, ever mindful of the justice of God, and of the terrible truth that while thousands throng the road to death, there are few who find the way of life. Tremble for your salvation, and, while always maintaining an unshaken hope, have no less fear of Hell. 
You have no reason to expect that God should treat you differently from other men. Bear in mind the law of His justice, as it has been explained, and so live that you may never expose yourself to its terrible effects here and hereafter. Be not the victim of a vain confidence which you may flatter yourself is hope, while it is naught but presumption. Rather, in the words of the Eternal Wisdom, “Be not without fear about sin forgiven, and add not sin upon sin. And say not: The mercy of the Lord is great; he will have mercy on the multitude of my sins. For mercy and wrath quickly come from him, and his wrath looketh upon sinners.” (Ecclus. 5:5-7). If, then, we must tremble even for sin which has been remitted, how is it that you do not fear to add daily to your crimes? And mark well these words: “His wrath looketh upon sinners”; for as the eyes of His mercy are upon the good, so are the eyes of His anger upon the wicked. And this agrees with what David says in one of the psalms: “The eyes of the Lord are upon the just, and His ears unto their prayers. But the countenance of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.” (Ps. 33:16-17). “The hand of God,” says the inspired author of the book of Esdras, “is upon all them that seek him in goodness; and his power and strength and wrath upon all them that forsake him.” (1Esd. 8:22). Be reconciled, therefore, with God; amend your life; and then you can confidently hope for the mercy promised to His faithful servants. “Hope in the Lord and do that which is good,” we are told by the psalmist; “offer the sacrifice of justice, and trust in the Lord.” (Ps. 36:3 and 4:6). This is hope; any other confidence is presumption. The ark of the true Church will not save its unworthy members from the deluge of their iniquities, nor can you reap any benefit from the mercy of God if you seek His protection in order to sin with impunity. “Men go to Hell,” says St. Augustine, “through hope, as well as through despair: through a presumptuous hope during life, and through despair at the hour of death.” (De Verbo Dei, Serm. 147).

I entreat you, therefore, O sinner, to abandon your false hope, and let God’s justice inspire you with a fear proportioned to the confidence which His mercy excites in you. For, as St. Bernard tells us, “God has two feet, one of justice and the other of mercy. We must embrace both, lest justice separated from mercy should cause us to despair, or mercy without justice should excite in us presumption.” (In Cantica, Serm. 80)

I am not the Author merely the distributor. God Bless BJS!!

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​One Body in Christ: Communion of Saints

 

The illustration shows the continuous communication in the three portions of the Church spiritually united in Jesus Christ. The members on earth send up prayers to the angels and saints for themselves and for the poor souls in purgatory. They in turn are helped by the intercession of the saints and angels, and by the graces obtained thereby. The poor souls pray for the members on earth.

    Why is the Catholic Church called the Mystical Body of Christ? –The Catholic Church is called the Mystical Body of Christ, because its members are united by supernatural bonds with one another and with Christ, their Head, thus resembling the members and head of the living human body.

  1. The term “Mystical Body of Christ” is derived from St. Paul’s metaphor: “He is the head of his body, the Church” (Col. 1:18) . Again: “You are the body of Christ, member for member” (1 Cor. 12:27). “We, the many, are one body in Christ” (Rom. 12:5).Jesus Himself used a similar symbol: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he shall be cast outside as the branch and wither” (John 15:5-6). 
  2. In the Mystical Body, Christ as Head wills to be helped by His Body. Thus He rules the Church, but does so indirectly, through the hierarchy, human authority.In a similar manner the human head, to live, has need of the rest of the body. The hierarchy is the material on which is formed the Image of Christ, God. The acts, ceremonies, ritual, liturgy of the Church,-all these are outward signs of the inward reality of the union of the members with one another and with their Head, Christ; they are visible manifestations of a common supernatural life in the Godhead. 
  3. Among the members of the Mystical Body of Christ there exists an interdependence; so that although each one has his own individual function, yet he does not live for himself alone, but for the entire Body. Every good he does perfects the Body, of which he is a part.Similarly, the eye, or the foot, or the arm of a man is useless existing alone and apart from the rest of his body. Here is an example of the interdependence among members of the Church: Suppose a Catholic prays to recover from a grievous illness, and he does not recover; there is no evident answer to his prayers. Yet, do they go to waste? God lets no good work “go to waste”; the merits of the prayers are not lost for the Mystical Body. 
  4. Because of the interdependence among the members, and between members and Head, of the Mystical Body, there follows a continuouscontribution and distribution of merits and graces, profiting all towards eternal life. This supernatural fellowship, this mystical union and interdependence, is presented to us in the Apostles’ Creed in the doctrine of the Communion of Saints.
    What is meant by “the Communion of Saints” in the Apostles’ Creed? –By “the Communion of Saints” is meant the union of the faithful on earth, the blessed in heaven, and the souls in purgatory, with Christ as their Head.There is only one Mystical Body, only one Church. But this Church has three aspects: the Church Triumphant, the Church Suffering, and the Church Militant.

  1. The saints and angels in heaven compose the Church triumphant,because they have gained the crown of victory. The souls in purgatory compose the Church suffering, because they still have to expiate for their sins before they can enter heaven. The faithful on earth compose the Church militant, because they have to struggle ceaselessly against the enemies of their souls.The Church triumphant, the Church suffering and the Church militant compose one Church united in Christ, members of a body whose head is Christ: “So we, the many, are one body in Christ, but severally members one of another’ (Rom. 12:5). 
  2. All the members of the Church are of one family, and share in the spiritual treasures of the Church. However, not all members of the Church Militant fully enjoy the benefits of the communion of saints, but only those in a state of grace.“Dead members” do not lose all the benefits of the communion of saints, for the Church prays publicly for them, and particular members in the state of grace often send up petitions for them. Thus they may receive the grace to repent and recover sanctifying grace. Hence a Catholic who still belongs to the Church, although a great sinner, may have more hope of being converted than one who cuts himself off from the Church.
    How do the members of the Communion of Saints help one another? –The members of the Communion of Saints help one another by prayer and intercession, and by the merits of their good works. 

  1. The faithful on earth can help one another by practicing supernatural charity and, especially, by performing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.St. Peter was freed from prison by the prayers of the faithful. St. Stephen’s prayer obtained the conversion of St. Paul. The prayers of St. Monica led to the conversion of her son, St. Augustine. This is why today, on all occasions, Catholics ask for each other’s prayers, and pray for those in need. They give the spiritual alms of prayers continually, even when they cannot perform the corporal works. 
  2. The faithful on earth, through the communion of saints, can relieve the sufferings of the souls in purgatory by prayer, fasting, and other good works, by indulgences, and by Masses offered for them.St. Augustine says: “Prayer is the key by which we open the gates of heaven to the suffering souls.” In the Memento after the consecration at every Mass, a special petition is made for the souls of the faithful departed. The poor souls cannot merit anything; they depend upon their brothers in Christ on earth and in heaven to help them attain their eternal home as soon as possible. 
  3. The souls in purgatory pray to the angels and saints, and pray for the living.They cannot merit anything, either for themselves or for the living, but they intercede for us. 
  4. Through the communion of saints, the blessed in heaven can help those in purgatory and on earth by praying for them. The faithful on earth should honor the blessed in heaven and pray to them, because they are worthy of honor and as friends of God will help the faithful on earth.This is why we pray to the saints and angels that they may intercede for us before God, Whom they see face to face. “Rendering thanks to God the Father, who has made us worthy to share the lot of the saints in light” (Col. 1:12). 
  5. The doctrine of the communion of saints is one of the most consolingdogmas of the Church. When our loved ones die, they are not separated from us forever. Whether in heaven or purgatory, they still love us and pray for us.We should be happy to call saints and angels our brothers. We should implore their intercession, not only for ourselves, but also for our other brothers, the poor souls in purgatory.

This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!

​The Gates of Hell

 

In the castle of Fontainebleu Napoleon forced the Pope to give up the States of the Church, promising an annual income of two million francs. In the same castle Napoleon was himself later forced to sign an abdication and was promised a yearly income of the same amount. When the Pope excommunicated Napoleon, he answered that the words of an old man would not make the arms drop from the hands of his soldiers. In the Russian campaign, because of the intense cold, this actually happened. He kept Pius VII prisoner for five years; he himself was later a prisoner for seven years. Four days after ordering the union of the States of the Church with France, he lost the battles of Aspern and Erlingen.

    What was the end of the leaders of persecution, schism, and heresy? –Many of the leaders of persecution, schism, and heresy came to a bad end. 

  1. Of the first persecutors, several died violent deaths. The death of Judas is the type for his imitators. It is related that: Herod, the murderer of the Holy Innocents, died in unspeakable tortures. 
    Herod, the murderer of James the Apostle, was devoured by worms.
     
  2. Of the persecutors in Rome, Nero was deposed, and in despair stabbed himself. 
  3. Domitian was assassinated. 
    Hadrian became insane. 
    Marcus Aurelius, despondent over the ingratitude of his only son, starved himself to death. 
    Septimus Severus, whose life had been attempted by his only son, died in despair. 
    Decius died miserably in a swamp, during a battle. 
    Valerian was flayed alive by the Persians. 
    Maxentius was drowned in the Tiber. 
    Diocletian died from a loathsome disease. 
    Julian the Apostate was struck down by a lance on the field of battle, and died crying: “Galilean, Thou hast conquered!”
     
  4. The case of Napoleon is instructive.
    Drunk with power, Napoleon seized Rome in 1808, declaring himself the “successor of Charlemagne”. He banished Cardinals and bishops, and carrying off Pope Pius VII, held him prisoner in Savona. Enemies of the Church exulted: “The Papacy is ended! The Emperor has devoured the Pope!” They forgot the divine promise to Peter: “The gates of hell shall not prevail!”; on that promise was based the ancient saying: “Who eats of the Pope dies like a beast.” On the same day that Napoleon died in exile at St. Helena, Pope Pius VII was celebrating his own feast day in Rome.
     
  5. Heretics and schismatics have shared the same fate. Arius burst asunder during a triumphal procession. Voltaire died in despair. The Greek Schismatics fell under the Turkish yoke in 1453, on Pentecost, the feast of that Holy Ghost about whom they had expressed doubts.Truly history has shown the truth of the words of Holy Scripture; “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).
    Why can no other church except the Catholic Church be the True Church of Christ? –No other church except the Catholic Church can be the True Church of Christ, because no other church possesses the marks of unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity.Truth cannot change; hence the constantly changing doctrines of non-Catholic churches can not be true. They also differ in their government. Some recognize the temporal ruler as their spiritual head. Others have ministers whom they call bishops, deacons, elders. The majority reject such titles.

  1. There are hundreds of churches and Christian denominations, each different from the others; they do not possess the mark of unity. They differ in even the essentials of faith. They cannot agree, and keep dividing and subdividing year by year. Their only similarity appears to be their opposition to the Catholic Church.Such churches are multiplying. In the United States there are over two hundred religious bodies. They arise, then pass away, to give place to other denominations. Realizing the great handicap of disunity, efforts have been made by various groups of churches to organize. General councils and conferences of different bodies have been held; but there is no vital result for unity. This is of course because, though agreement may be general concerning matters such as social work, beneficent societies, and the like, no agreement can be found in the essentials of faith and doctrine. This is the result of free interpretation of the Bible, and the repudiation of Peter’s successor, Vicar of Christ. 
  2. The denominations and their founders are not holy in the same sense or degree as the Catholic Church and its Founder are holy. Many non-Catholics are upright and good because they have retained many doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church.Many founders of non-Catholic churches were far from holy. Luther, the founder of Protestantism was an apostate friar, who married a nun who had left her convent and turned against her vows. During his life he taught contradictory doctrines, some of them immoral. Henry VIII, the founder of Anglicanism, married five women successively, after divorcing his lawful wife; he had two put to death.No denomination is catholic, or universal. These non-Catholic churches are everywhere, but are different everywhere.A regional or national Church cannot be the true Church, since it cannot teach all nations, as Christ commanded.No heretical Christian denomination is apostolic. The Protestant churches are some 1500 years later than the Church founded on the Rock of Peter.Not even their teachings come down from the Apostles. Their ministers cannot trace their succession from the Apostles. Not one teaches all the doctrines of the Apostles. How then could they be the Church founded by Christ?
    What should be the attitude of Catholics towards those who do not belong to the True Church? –Catholics should observe an attitude of understanding towards them, because the majority of those who do not belong to the True Church are in good faith.

  1. Catholic teachings are not easy to understand at first sight; many Catholic practices require sacrifice. Towards such a religion there is bound to be prejudice.To be obliged to go to Mass every Sunday under pain of mortal sin; to have to confess to a priest, who is another human being like ourselves; to condemn divorce and birth control; to observe fasts and abstinence;-these are not easy doctrines.No wonder in looking for relief, man often, however unconsciously, seeks motives for not accepting the Church that commands its members to obey such precepts, to accept such doctrines.When Our Lord first announced the institution of the Holy Eucharist, many of the disciples said, “This is a hard saying. Who can listen to it?” (John 6:62). And they no longer went with Jesus. 
  2. Catholics should above all try to give good example; nothing is more effective in the eyes of non-Catholics than the exemplary lives led by good Catholics.“Behave yourselves honorably among the pagans; that, whereas they slander you as evildoers, they may through observing you by reason of your good works glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12). Catholics should often pray for the conversion of those outside the Church, praying with the Good Shepherd for only one Fold. 
  3. While avoiding useless discussions that generally end in bitter quarrels, Catholics should try to show the beauty, the truth of the Catholic Church.In our friendly discussions with non-Catholics we should not be always on the defensive, but should try to see whether they can trace the origin of the authority of their ministers to the Apostles, whether their church can be proved the True Church by the possession of the four marks. Often our non-Catholic friends criticise the Catholic Church on account of some devotional practices like holy water, candles, etc., as if such practices belonged to the essentials of faith.

This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!