Making Sense of Sensus Catholicus (apr22ssc.htm)

Sunday
April 22, 2007
vol 18, no. 112

God intends us to have Meaning and Purpose to our life

    Without our Creator we can do nothing and are nothing. He made us to exist but a fleeting second in this world so that we might love the One Who created us and serve Him for this short time on earth so that we can be happy with Him forever in eternity. Yet man forgets that he is totally dependent upon his Creator and assumes he has the right to do whatever he wants, even to deny the One Who created him. Despite all the wonderful helps God gives through His Church and His simple teachings, there are still some who choose to think they can go it alone. They forget the meaning and purpose in life, and in the process give error free reign to carry the day and carry them away into everlasting nothingness: the pit of eternal fire. We can see so many spiraling toward that end in every daily headline, in the conciliar church, and in governments who have forgotten the meaning and purpose of life.
    by
    Father James F. Wathen

        Editor's Note: Even though Father James Francis Wathen has left us, we still have his words of wisdom not only on these pages with his past sermons and reflections in the series The Sense of Sensus Catholicus and his irrefutable landmark work The Great Sacrilege, but also transcriptions of his inspirational radio programs. Thanks to Carla Downey's tireless transcribing of his words and Maria Hughes providing them, they are now available for all. As the introduction says, "In an age when Catholic truth is no longer conveyed to Catholics, let alone non-Catholics, the friends of Christ the King have determined to establish in this city, the Apostolic truth that faith comes by hearing, and to allow Catholics and fallen away Catholics, the opportunity to hear a truly, extra-ordinary Catholic priest. It is our hope that you will hear him, and return to your true religion, the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic faith. So beautiful, so captivating, and so arresting to the soul." Now these are not just for the small market of northern Indiana where they were first presented, but for the world to read. Those interested in hearing his words can acquire tapes of Fr. Wathen's programs by contacting Gerald Bonnell at 1-574-643-9296. Tapes are $2.50 each.
      "The next principle I wish to consider, the seventh, is accept your creaturehood. In the Baltimore Catechism, which we used to use in all Catholic grade schools, in the United States, first grade students learned the answers to these questions. Who made you? The answer, God made me. Why did God make you? The answer: God made me to know Him, love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next. Little boys and girls of five, six, and seven, learned these answers without doubt or difficulty, and retained them throughout their lives. Compare this with the fact that it is not unknown that people have committed suicide, because they wrote in their obligatory note, that they had no reason to go on living. The catechism informed the students, that they were God's creatures. He made them because He chose to. He made them by a special and deliberate act, at the time of their conception in their mother's womb. And they owed Him a life of humble and obedient service. And for making them, they owed Him the love of their hearts."


        Let us begin with a prayer. This is the famous prayer called: Suscipe of St. Ignatius of Loyola. His dates are 1491 to 1556.

      Take O Lord and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and whole will. Thou hast given me all that I have, and all that I possess. I surrender it all to thee, that thou mayest dispose of it according to thy will. Give me only Thy Love and Thy Grace. With these I will be rich enough, and will have no more to desire.

        If you have listened to any of these programs before, you know that I am in the midst of stating what I call First Principles. I am presenting these as fundamental ideas which have the purpose of establishing an understanding between you and myself. I resume the effort today, first by recalling the fifth principal, which is do not pay attention to who says a thing, but WHAT IT IS THE MAN SAYS. This is a very difficult thing. We are likely to be impressed or intimidated by those who are in positions of power, or who have formidable reputations, or who have won prizes, or who are often quoted, or who have gained many academic degrees, or who have very much money, or who have many people who agree with them and praise them, or who have written several books, or those who have many microphones in front of them. And none of these considerations, or a thousand like them, gives any value to what they say. Robert Welch was wont to say, "There was never a time in history,when so much of what people know is wrong."

        I devoted the last program to the sixth principle, which is, ALL THINGS ARE NOT SUBJECT TO CHANGE. We may grant that men are constantly engaged in altering the physical face of the world, whether by clearing away or by building, men continue to upgrade the facade of human life. It must be acknowledged, however, that all this activity does not necessarily benefit the spirit, nor does it teach men of the unseen world or the supernatural order. In the arena of the mind, and in that of Jesus Christ's foundation, truth holds sway. But AT TIMES, ERROR MAY HAVE ITS DAY, AND CARRY MANY AWAY. My efforts in these little talks, will be to discuss the things which are permanent and indestructible. The things which give meaning to the worthy life.

        The next principle I wish to consider, the seventh, is accept your creaturehood. In the Baltimore Catechism, which we used to use in all Catholic grade schools, in the United States, first grade students learned the answers to these questions. Who made you? The answer, God made me. Why did God make you? The answer: God made me to know Him, love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next. Little boys and girls of five, six, and seven, learned these answers without doubt or difficulty, and retained them throughout their lives. Compare this with the fact that it is not unknown that people have committed suicide, because they wrote in their obligatory note, that they had no reason to go on living. The catechism informed the students, that they were God's creatures. He made them because He chose to. He made them by a special and deliberate act, at the time of their conception in their mother's womb. And they owed Him a life of humble and obedient service. And for making them, they owed Him the love of their hearts.

        In simple language, they were told that on the one hand, they were each of them, absolutely and perfectly unique, with an individuality and a destiny and a responsibility, that was all their own. On the other, that they were completely replaceable by, dispensable to, and dependent upon the Good God their Maker. The greatest wisdom, for each of them, they were told, would be to recognize their creaturehood and accept it. And pray to accept their places in the all encompassing plan of God. I am repeating this lesson here. Every man must accept the truth of his creaturehood, if he is to know why he is alive, and if his life is to have any substantial meaning and purpose. This is a truth which no man may deny with any honesty.

        To substantiate the point, I can do nothing better than to quote the eloquent, Father Frederick Faber, whose dates were 1814 to 1863. The following paragraphs were taken from the book, "The Creator and the Creature", which I highly recommend. It can be obtained from Tan Books and Publishers in Rockford, Illinois, 61105. Father Faber writes:

          We are creatures. What is it to be a creature? Before the sun sets in the red west, let us try to have an answer to our question. We find ourselves in existence today, with multitudes of our fellow creatures round about us. We have been alive and on earth so many years, so many months, so many weeks, so many days, so many hours. At such and such a time, we came to the use of reason, and at such an age and in such a way, that we clearly did not confer our reason upon ourselves. We awaken to find ourselves with a character of our own and fulfilling a destiny in some appointed station in life. We know nothing of what has gone before us, except some little of the exterior of the past, which history or tradition or family records have told us of. We do not doubt that the sun and the moon and the planets and the stars, the blue skies and the four winds, the wide green seas, and the fruitful earth, were before our time. Science unriddles mysterious things about them, but all additional lights seems only to darken and to deepen our real ignorance. So it is with the creature, man. He finds himself in existence. An existence which he did not give to himself. He knows next to nothing of what has gone before and absolutely nothing of what is to come, except so far as his Creator is pleased to reveal it to him supernaturally. Thus it comes to pass that, he knows better, what will happen to him in the world to come, than what will be his fortune here. He knows nothing of what is to happen to himself on earth. Whether his future years will be happy or sorrowful. Whether he will rise or fall. Whether he will be well or ailing, he knows not. It is not in his hands. Neither is it before his eyes.

          If you ask him the particular and special end which he is to fulfill in this life, what peculiar gift or good which he was called into being to confer upon his fellow men, what the exact place and position he was to fill in the great social whole, he cannot tell you. It has not been told to him. The chances are with him as with most men, that he will die and yet not know it. And why? Because he is a creature. His being born was a tremendous act. Yet it was not his own. It has entangled him in quantities of difficult problems. And implicated him in numberless, important responsibilites. In fact, he has in him, an absolute inevitable necessity, either of endless joy or of endless misery. Though he is free to choose between the two. Annihilation he is not free to choose. Reach out into the oncoming eternity as far as the fancy can, there still will be this man, simply because he has been already born. The consequences of his birth are not only unspeakable in their magnitude, they are simply eternal. Yet he was not consulted about his own birth. He was not offered the choice of being or not being. Mercy required that he should not be offered it. Justice did not require that he should. We are not concerned now, to defend God, we are only stating facts, and taking the facts as we find them. It is a fact that he was not consulted about his own birth, and it is a truer and higher than all facts, that God can do nothing but what is blessedly, beautifully right. A creature has no right to be consulted about his own creation. And for this reason simply, that he is a creature. He has no notion why it was that his particular soul, rather than any other soul, was called into being, and put into his place. Not only can he conceive a soul far more noble and devout than his, but he sees as he thinks, peculiar deficiencies in himself, in some measure disqualifying him for the actual position in which God has placed him. And how can he account for this? Yet, God must be right, and his own liberty too, must be very broad and strong and responsible. He clearly has a work to do, and came here simply to do it. It is equally clear, that if God will not work with him against his own will, he also cannot work without God.

          Every step which a creature takes, when he once has been created, increases his dependence upon his creator. He belonged utterly to God by creation, if words would enable us to say it, he belongs still more utterly to God by preservation. In a word, the creature becomes more completely, more thoroughly, more significantly a creature, every moment that his created life is continued to him. This is in fact his true blessedness. To be ever more and more enclosed, in the hand of God who made him. The creator's hand is the creatures' home. As he was not consulted about his coming into the world, so neither is he consulted about his going out of it. He does not believe that he is always going to remain on earth. He is satisfied that the contrary will be the case. He knows that he will come to an end of this life, without ceasing to live. He is aware that he will end this life, with more or less of pain, pain without a parallel. Pain like no other pain, and most likely, very terrible pain. Although the act of dying in itself is probably painless, yet it has for the most part to be reached through pain.

          Death will throw open to him, the gates of another world. And will be the beginning to him of far more solemn and more wonderful actions, than it has been his lot to perform on earth. Everything to him depends on his dying at the right time and in the right way. Yet he is not consulted about it. He is entitled to no kind of warning. No sort of choice is left him, either of time or place or manner. It is true he may take his own life, but he had better not. His liberty is indeed very great, since this is left free to him. Yet, suicide would not help him out of his difficulties. It only makes certain to him the worst that could be. He is only cutting off his own chances. And by taking his life into his own hands, he is rashly throwing himself out of his own hands, in the most fatal way conceivable. One whose business it is to come when he is called, and to depart when he is bidden, and to have no reason given him either for his call or for his dismissal, except such can gather from the character of his Master. Such is man upon earth. And this is so, because he is a creature.

          Is it childish to say all this? We fear we must say something more childish still. We must not omit to notice of this creature, this man, that he did not make the world he finds around him. He could not have done so, for lack of wisdom and of power. But it is not this we would dwell on. As a matter of fact, he did not do so, and therefore, it is not his world, but somebody else's. He can have no rights in it, but such as the proprietor may voluntarily make over to him, in the way of a gift. He can have no sovereignty over it, or any part of it. Only, unless by a royal grace, the True Sovereign, has invested him with delegated powers. In himself, therefore, he is without dominion. Dominion does not belong to him as a creature. Dominion is a different idea and comes from another quarter. Furthermore, we do not care whether it be from faith or reason or from what proportion of both. This creature cannot resist the certainties that there is an unseen world, in which he is very much concerned. He is quite sure, nervously sure, that there are persons and things close to him, though unseen, which are of far greater import than what he sees. He believes in presences, which are more intimate to him than any presence of external things. Nay, in one presence, which is more intimate to him, than he is to his own self.

          Death is a flight away from earth. Not a lying down, a few feet beneath its sod. It is a vigorous outburst of a new life. Not a resting on a clay pillow, from the weariful toil of this. All things in him and around him are felt to be beginnings. And the curtains of the unseen world, as if lifted by the wind, wave ever and anon into his face, and cling to it like a mask. And he sees through them or thinks he sees. This is the last thing we have to note of this man, as he sits upon the hilltop, in the sunshine, part and parcel of the creatures round about him. He finds himself in existence, by the act of another, and he knows nothing of what has gone before him, nothing of what is to happen to himself, and next to nothing of what is to come. And that little only by revelation. He was not consulted about his own birth, nor will he be about his death. He has to die out, and has nothing to do with the when or the how. He did not make the world he finds round him, and therefore it is not his. Neither can he resist the conviction, that this world is for him, only the porch of another more magnificent temple of the Creator's majesty. Wherein he will enter still further into the Creator's power, and learn that to be in the Creator's power is this creature's happiness.

        To these thoughts, I wish to add another. Because you are only a creature, you must accept all your creaturely limitations and conditions. And the sooner the better. As your discontent will not change anything. I shall not attempt to itemize these limitations. I call attention to one only, and that is the limitation of knowledge and understanding. For His own purposes, your Divine Master chooses not to explain much that he does. He has chosen to reveal in a skeletal or better, a schematic fashion, how He runs the world, and what His mind and purpose in the whole tremendous affair are. He has revealed to His children, the essentials of His plan, and His ultimate objectives, which will infallibly be accomplished. As I have said, these programs will be devoted to speaking about what God has told us. But there is a great deal which he has not explained, except in the vaguest generalities. But the consequence, that it is easy to misunderstand and to misinterpret Him. And you, His creature, will have to be satisfied with that. We know why He has chosen to be so taciturn about so many things, because he requires our obedience in faith and in trust. To repeat, it is a part of our creaturehood, TO BE WITHOUT ADEQUATE ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WHICH TRY SOULS AND TEST OUR FAITH. Most notably, the mystery of evil and suffering, which I shall have occasion to speak of in a program soon to come.

        In the book of psalms, Our Holy God has provided us with a prayer, which well expresses the proper disposition of such a creature and servant as you are, and as the psalmist himself, gladly acknowledges himself to be.

      O Lord our Lord, how admirable is thy Name in the whole earth. For thy magnificence is elevated above the heavens. Out of the mouth of infants, and of sucklings, thou hast perfected praise. Because of Thy enemies, that thou mayest destroy the enemy and the avenger. For I will behold thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and stars which thou hast founded. What is man that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man that thou visitest him? Thou hast made him a little less than the angels. Thou has crowned him with glory and honor. And hast set him over the work of thy hands. Thou hast subjected all things under his feet. All sheep and oxen, moreover the beasts also of the fields. The birds of the air and the fishes of the sea, that pass through the paths of the sea. Oh Lord our Lord, how admirable is thy name in all the earth. (Psalm 8, 1 to 10)

    Yours in Christ,

    Father James Wathen



      For past articles of Making Sense of Sensus Catholicus, see 2007ssc.htm Archives

      Sunday
      April 22, 2007
      vol 18, no. 112
      Making Sense of Sensus Catholicus