A Time and a Place|
Which tabernacle do we worship at - the tabernacle of satan or the tabernacle of God in quiet, soulful prayer? If we do not practice prayer, we will fail miserably and so many of us have because we've been lured by the siren of the world, the flesh and the devil without realizing how slothful are our ways. We can overcome this sloth by turning our televisions off and turning on our persistence to pray and, in the process, grow in grace and love for God and not miss the temptations that taunt our soul. It takes a life time of practice, but, after all, practice makes perfect.
Father James F. Wathen
"The technology of modern television is tremendous, and it is under constant improvement, just as, seemingly, is every other technological endeavor. The pity is that most of this wonderful science is used for not merely shallow entertainment, but for positive evil. The Jews control the television business completely, to say nothing of the "entertainment industry" in toto, and they spew their anti-Christian paganism and filth into our homes and into our faces. At the same time, they do reveal what they truly are, and what they are up to. They are in league with Mammon, the god of money. They mean to make as much money as possible from corrupting the people of the whole world. There is no argument about this, because the blatancy and shamelessness of it are undeniable."
Father James Wathen
Sin is an act that is against Godís law. A vice is a habit of sin. Due to the Fall of Adam, as the Catechism tells us, we are conceived in the seven capital sins, Pride, Covetousness (Avarice), Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy (Jealousy), and Sloth. Because they are a part of our makeup, it is to be expected that we sin, though we are not supposed to. As has been remarked before, these vices begin to manifest their grip on our souls from the first days of our lives. If parents and other family members, guardians, nurses, teachers, and all others, who take care of the child, do not all work toward the curbing of these vices, there will be no quelling them, and the child will become a monster.
In view of this fact, it is not difficult to see what a tragedy it is for the child to be in the care of a great number of people, no one of whom who knows anything about the child, about these innate vices, or has any authority to do anything about them. That is why children should be with their parents as much as possible and no one else. That is why it is absolutely essential that parents be in perfect agreement as to how they are going to rear the child, and work with each other at all times. (They must, for example, never disagree as to the treatment of the child in front of the him.) If they have been wise, they will have drawn up a program and rules for the training of the child, even before the child was born.
This is why it is not good for children to be in government schools, where not only is there no recognition of the fact of Original Sin, but where there is no God, and where the students are constantly filled with notions of their self-importance. Those in charge in these schools are inclined and encouraged to devise as many extracurricular programs as possible, whose result, regardless of their purpose, is to keep the children away from their homes as much as possible, to subordinate the home to the schoolís programs. The principle one of these, as everyone knows, is fitness and sports, or activities related thereto.
Stress on fitness and winning games serves the purpose of emphasizing the body instead of the mind and the accumulation of knowledge. Whereas children do not need a great deal of "physical education," because, if left to themselves, they will get plenty of exercise, they are in dire need of mental discipline and knowledge. That the precious years of formal education are for the most part wasted is the great and contrived tragedy of America and its future.
The principle education of the child is supposed to center upon his religious and moral development, after this, his education, the use and filling of his mind; sports and games should never be more than a diversion for the sake of physical invigoration. The childís religious training concerns his relationship to God and the Church. His moral development concerns his striving for virtues and overcoming his vices.
All men are born with the seven capital vices--called capital, because they are the source of practically all the sins the individual commits--but certain vices predominate. All men are proud, but not equally. Some are more susceptible to gluttony, some to lust, some to covetousness, and so on.
Our attention here is on the vice of sloth. We think of sloth as the sin of laziness, and it is. But it is primarily the sin of spiritual laziness, the distaste for, and the neglect of, the most important duties we have, our duties to God, our Creator and Lord. In order that we may give God His due, we should set aside a time in every dayís activities for prayer, and it helps to have a place which we have made conducive to this activity.
How things are now I do not know, but in days gone by, in Catholic religious houses, the prayers were scheduled first, everything else--meals, work, study, recreation, rest--were assigned a time around these.
The main and central religious exercise in all religious houses was the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which was given a place of primacy in the schedule. Besides this, there were times scheduled for recited prayers, such as the Office, meditation, the Rosary, Scripture-reading, other spiritual reading. In addition, religious were encouraged to spend some of their free time, if there were any--religious houses and seminaries were very busy places---before the Blessed Sacrament.
The two things insisted upon with regard to these spiritual exercises in these places were regularity and punctuality. Regularity called for the exercises to be performed without fail every day; punctuality demanded that when the bell rang for a religious function, everyone should discontinue whatever he was doing immediately, and repair to the chapel or wherever the activity would take place. The reason for these two requisites, regularity and punctuality, was that both required that the person surrender his will at the instant. Hereby he performed an act of obedience and acted against the natural tendency we all have to continue what we are doing.
Such obedience goes against the vice of sloth, which inclines us to find an excuse not to do these things, to put them off, to continue doing what we are engaged in, whether it is sleeping, working, or recreating. The bell was like God summoning the religious to come and worship Him, sing to Him, sacrifice to Him, etc. Each time the religious responded immediately, he exercised his will to conform to that of God as it was imposed by his superiors. By his prompt response, the religious asserted to himself and to God that this act of obedience was more important than anything else he might be engaged in. The more often this was done, the easier it became, because repetition formed habits in the will and in the brain. Each time, he did it, he obeyed God and denied himself. Each time he did it, he told God that he loved Him. He may not have wanted to do these things. By his instantaneous obedience, the religious said to God that what he wanted did not matter, what mattered was this act of homage and love.
In the seminary, we looked forward to the Sunday High Masses. We sang, the choir was a real pleasure to listen to, and the ceremonies and prayers had great appeal, the greater appeal the more we knew about the Liturgy, which was a branch of Theology itself.
All this is said to remind that in the truly Catholic home there should be this regularity and punctuality in whatever family prayers there are. And family prayer there must be. How parents plan these "exercises" will be dictated by their other obligations, because lay people can seldom schedule things the way religious could.
Those who do not live in families must have their own prayer schedules. Again, regularity and punctuality are the watchwords; and they are very difficult. People often admit in the confessional, or out of it, that they do not do their prayers justice, because they do not do them early enough in the day. By nightfall, they are too tired.
Sloth is not in being tired; it is in not planning well, or not following the plan.
Let everyone ponder what a prodigious thing it is to pray daily and fervently. Its magnitude is indicated by the fact that so few do it, and of those who do, the prayer of only some of them is acceptable to the God of Heaven. How many hundreds of millions refuse to honor God and His Son, Jesus Christ, throughout the world; their sterile manmade religious concoctions, such as Mohammedism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and the like, give Him no praise. Consider how many there are who are Christians, but only on their terms, who insult God by limiting what they will believe of His Gospel. Consider also the blindness of Conciliar Catholics, who have fashioned for themselves a religious persuasion which bears no resemblance to authentic Catholicism, and which is hardly definable in its confusion and man-centeredness. All these millions affront the all good and loving God by their pride and disobedience.
That prayer alone is acceptable to God which is made by one who is truly repentant, whose faith is intact, and who is possessed of sanctifying grace. How few there are in the whole world, which has gone in revolt against Him, who meet these conditions. For this reason, it is all the more necessary that those who are pleasing to God not fail to intercede for all others, that the His mercy fall upon them, instead of His wrath
The utter necessity of prayer for every man is dictated by his ominous plight. Every man is moving inexorably toward his death and Judgment. His condition of soul, his love of God or his want of it, will determine his eternity, everlasting bliss or misery. Before all else, his condition of soul corresponds exactly to his prayer life. As a man prays, he lives; indeed, as a man prays, he is.
He who prays to the true God thereby acknowledges the whole supernatural world that Christ, through His life and death, established on earth in the Church. He honors the Trinity of God, the truths of the Church and the Scriptures, the supernatural order of the Sacraments and sanctifying grace. He abides in the company of Mary, of the Angels and the Saints, as his spiritual kith and kin. He enters into the divine presence as surely as those who prostrate themselves before Him in Heaven, to give Him all honor and glory. And he recognizes by his words and affections that in this unseen world, to which Baptism introduced him, that he is, on the one hand, woefully unworthy, and, on the other, duty-bound to abide in faith, hope, and charity.
He who prays acknowledges all the truths which Christ taught us, and acts according to His will. He adores Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, and opens his soul to the graces and promptings of the Holy Ghost. He affirms to God that he accepts his place in the world and in the Church, that he is an unworthy and sinful servant, but an adoptive son all the same, with all the rights won and promised by Christ his Savior for His members; that all things were made by Him for His most holy purposes, and that he is totally dependent on Him for all things, including the breath of life and the hope of salvation.
He who does not pray, might just as well be a dumb animal, so inert are the powers of his soul, so indifferent and uncommunicative toward God is he, "in Whom we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:38). God, Who gave His only-begotten Son up in sacrifice for all men, is offended by the their stubborn unbelief and cold ingratitude, and their worship of earthly pleasure. We may make excuses for the obduracy of men, but He does not, because His divine Spirit endeavors mightily to impart faith and light, grace and forgiveness to each of them. He who does not pray closes his soul and heart to the Spirit, so that no communication is possible, nor faith nor repentance. This is the Sin against the Holy Ghost.
He who does not pray does not recognize God nor his need of Him. He thereby renders himself completely earthbound and disinterested in either the divine goodness or His rewards or His loving care. He declares himself independent of God, His commands, or His divine sovereignty. It is such a manís desire and determination to be free of Him that invites his terrible retribution, as He, the infinitely good Supreme Being, deserves to be esteemed and worshipped as the true God and Lord of Heaven and earth by every man.
He who does not pray, is at the mercy of his own innate vices, the world, and the Devil. Satan pays him little or no attention, because he is destroying himself unaided. His vices govern him. His not praying is due to the vice of sloth, as well as the lack of charity, which is interpreted as a rejection of all His gifts and making himself a god.
Sloth influences our secular lives also. It causes procrastination, slovenliness, dissipation, time-wasting. Procrastination, of course, is putting off the tasks that repel us or that take us away from something more pleasing. Slovenliness is doing things poorly and in a shoddy fashion. Dissipation is occupying ourselves with excessive, frivolous entertainments. Some people read novels all the time, for example, or watch TV for hours on end. Time-wasting is just not getting around to the things we ought to do on any excuse we can find.
The technology of modern television is tremendous, and it is under constant improvement, just as, seemingly, is every other technological endeavor. The pity is that most of this wonderful science is used for not merely shallow entertainment, but for positive evil. The Jews control the television business completely, to say nothing of the "entertainment industry" in toto, and they spew their anti-Christian paganism and filth into our homes and into our faces. At the same time, they do reveal what they truly are, and what they are up to. They are in league with Mammon, the god of money. They mean to make as much money as possible from corrupting the people of the whole world. There is no argument about this, because the blatancy and shamelessness of it are undeniable.
The further problem with television is that no other diversion is more enervating. Even after one watches a good show--there are a few--if one turns the TV off, one still does not want to do anything It takes great effort to do something "constructive" after that. Because television has this deadening effect, countless millions qualify for the label, "couch potatoes," because once they begin to watch, they stare at the screen until they fall asleep, doing nothing more useful than clicking from one channel to another.
We do not overcome our sloth by faithfulness to prayer so much as by growing in the love of God through our prayer. All that is said here concerns prayer more than sloth. If we pray as we ought--as much and as devotedly as we ought, our love of God will increase, our love of self will become properly ordered, and our lives will be wonderfully productive of good works.
Our Lord made a little comment which many would do well to take to heart: "But when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret, and thy Father Who seeth in secret will repay thee" (Matthew 6:6).
In that context, He was making the point that you should not choose your place of prayer simply to be seen, but He also hinted that you should have a place for prayer which lends itself to the exercise. Those who can manage it ought to have a place of prayer in their homes. I will not tell them how to do it, for where there is a will, there is a way. People have home entertainment rooms, sewing rooms, hobby rooms, rooms for their potted plants. They should have a "prayer room," something suggestive of a chapel, which they use for prayer and spiritual activities only. In the days of the castles, there was a chapel, often very richly adorned, in every one of them. The reason that we have churches and chapels is that such places provide the proper environment and ambiance for prayer and other spiritual exercises--spiritual reading, meditation, etc. Home chapels should contain a little altar with a crucifix, statues of our Lady and St. Joseph and other saints. There should be place for vigil lights and flowers. There should be two kinds of light, enough light for reading, less for prayer. If the chapel is large enough, you might succeed in getting a priest to come bless it, offer Mass there, and even erect the stations. There should be kneelers and chairs for everyone in the family: each should have his own place. The "prayer room" should be away from or insulated from household and outside noises if possible. And the family must resist the temptation of using it for a temporary storeroom They begin by leaving the vacuum cleaner there; then, that box of old magazines; then, the stepladder; then, that drop cloth and those three half-used cans of paint. And it will be a place of recollection no longer.
Imagine what a refuge such a place could be! You could go there, and allow yourself time to put aside all your distractions and anxieties for a while. You could reckon that this is Godís abode among you and situate yourself in His silent, reigning presence. You could say your Rosary quietly and unhurriedly, and your other prayers. It could be a perfect place for your morning and evening prayers. Older couples, whose children have moved out, could end their day by saying their night prayers together. It would be a good idea to include a Psalm, a litany, or a few lines from The Imitation of Christ. There is no end of Catholic reading. You do not commit yourself to do too much; eventually if you persevere, you will develop a little routine. (You should have a routine, so that you know when you are finished and are free to leave.)
I mention the Presence of God as the preparation for all prayer. God the Holy Trinity is present, the all-powerful Ruler of Heaven and earth. In Heaven, He reigns in undisputed sovereignty, where He manifests Himself in His awe-inspiring majesty and beauty, His infinite Self. Regardless of all the injustice in the world, the bad and foreboding news, the sorrowful condition of the Church, the power of Satan and his minions, demonic and human, in the world; regardless of all your seemingly insoluble problems, illness in the family, money worries, unruly children, unsympathetic relatives, the infinite and all-loving God maintains, despite all appearances to the contrary, full dominance over all things. (How few Catholics seem to believe this! "Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith?" [Matthew 8:26]). You should express your fullest confidence in Him. You tell Him that you give yourself over entirely into His most perfect providence, and you will accept as coming from Him, for His all-wise reasons, whatever crosses you must bear You should remind yourself that all the things that beset and try you are less important than your relationship to Him, the Divine One, the Infinite Three, which is entirely within your (and His) control.
What matters is the constancy of your faith, the unshakableness of your hope, and the depth of your charity. An ever greater endowment of these virtues is really all you need to pray for, though you will pray for no end of lesser things.
Spend enough time at your daily prayer that your interior self has found fresh repose in the Triune God, Who resides in every soul who is in the state of grace. Enter into your own self, of which your little chapel is a type and a model. Adore God as the Source and Cause and Purpose of your existence. Humble yourself before Him as a most unworthy but grateful servant. Thank Him for His gifts, especially those spiritual gifts which have made you more wealthy than those with much money and power and many friends and admirers.
At the end of every day, there should be the spirit of contrition in your heart for all your sins of thought, words, and deed; be sure to express your sorrow for them all. There should be an interior tranquility, because again you have surrendered yourself totally to His most benevolent Providence, which is invincible.
There should be true joy over the predilection that you have received from Him, which no one can take away from you (though you can throw it away). At some point, you should ask the Lord Jesus to come into your body and soul in Spiritual Communion, so that He may heal you of your spiritual illnesses and anemia.
Ask Him to give you mastery over your characteristic faults, whatever He knows them to be. Ask Him also to take you into His Sacred Heart, that there you may find safety and love. Implore Him by His love of the Father and yourself, and all who are members of the Communion of Saints, to inflame you with most pure charity, which is the supreme gift, the most merciful and all-inclusive.
I receive cards and notes and e-mails very frequently, in which people tell me of their concern, and assure me that I am in their family's daily prayers. I wish to express my sincerest thanks for all these. Also, I am grateful for the gifts of money which pay many of my expenses. In union with Christ, the Lamb of God, the Lord's Suffering Servant, I send my priestly blessing.
Yours very sincerely in Christ,
For those who want to help Father or write him, you can do so at:
Father James F. Wathen
P.O. Box 15152
Evansville, IN 47716
For past articles of Making Sense of Sensus Catholicus, see 2006ssc.htm Archives