Truth and Consequences
In order to establish communication, a common denominator must be determined. What Father Wathen asserts is evidence that dialoguing with heretics never works for humility is not present and surely the truth is not agreed on. Those who realize the truth and are not willing to follow it to its logical conclusion are lying to themselves and others. Sadly, there are too many who don't want to know the truth for it would cause them to change their lives. The comfort zone of the vast majority is too comfortable for that. The consequences of that are only too evident to the devil.
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.
"You must have in mind that you will accept the truth, no matter where it leads you, or whatever it costs you. This is a prayer God will not refuse, provided you mean what you say, and ask with faith and persistence. Unfortunately, MOST PEOPLE DO NOT WANT THE TRUTH, AND THEY HAVE NEITHER THE HONESTY NOR THE HUMILITY TO ADMIT IT. In your prayer therefore, you must ask for the desire of the truth. This means that you are asking the Holy Ghost to affect your will, while he affects your mind. In this connection, let me tell you an incident which happened a few years ago."
Lead Kindly Light
After some reflection, I have decided that if these talks are to have any value, they must have some order and coherence. This means that they will have the maximum benefit for the listener, if he listens to each one of them, in the order they are given. Probably the only person who will be able to do this, over the radio, is the sound engineer, should he choose. Hence we will give each one a title and a number.
My intention is to speak on religious subjects. You might think of this effort, as a kind of catechism of the airwaves. The first major subject I shall deal with, is the existence of God and His attributes. These are His divine qualities. Of course I know that everyone who is listening, believes in God, but can you prove it to those who do not? Besides, even if you never have the occasion to try, you should be able to prove it to yourself, for your own assurance. Before I can begin that subject, there are several preliminary considerations. I must first give you what I think of as working principles. These are fundamental notions, which you the listener, need, in order to be able to begin to relate to me. If you and I are to have any useful communication, you must know something of how I think. You must know where I am coming from, to use an overused cliché. These principles will tell you where I stand and where I think you ought to stand, if there is to be any receptivity on your part. These principles are my wavelength, so to speak, my frame of reference. But before we do anything at all, there is something you must do. YOU MUST PRAY. YOU MUST PRAY FOR THE TRUTH. You must call upon the Holy Ghost, the spirit of truth, and the source of all truth, to teach you the truth. You must make the prayer repeatedly, and with confidence and sincerity. You do this in compliance with the words of Christ, that if you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it to you" (St. John 16:23).
You must have in mind that you will accept the truth, no matter where it leads you, or whatever it costs you. This is a prayer God will not refuse, provided you mean what you say, and ask with faith and persistence. Unfortunately, MOST PEOPLE DO NOT WANT THE TRUTH, AND THEY HAVE NEITHER THE HONESTY NOR THE HUMILITY TO ADMIT IT. In your prayer therefore, you must ask for the desire of the truth. This means that you are asking the Holy Ghost to affect your will, while he affects your mind. In this connection, let me tell you an incident which happened a few years ago.
After much persuasion, a young man succeeded in getting his wife to come with him to talk to me. She was threatening to leave him and he hoped I could find something to say to dissuade her. They came and it was a very stiff meeting. The woman was unsmiling, and gave the impression that she would put up with the situation for a short time only. She had agreed to come, but she had not agreed to cooperate. In a situation like this, my first thought is a question. How can it be, that these two people, once loved each other, could not tell each other enough how deeply they loved each other, and now she wanted nothing to do with him. What happened, that love had changed to disinterest?
In this particular case, there was no mystery. He had rediscovered his faith, and she wanted her freedom. She had told him that she had to have a life of her own. The young woman volunteered nothing and answered my questions with reluctance, and mostly with single words. I asked her, if for the sake of her marriage, for the sake of herself as well as her husband, and their little boy, if she would agree to do one thing. She wondered what I had in mind. Would you agree, I asked her, would you agree every day to pray to God for direction. Ask Him to tell you what you are supposed to do. Seek His guidance, so that you will not do something that you will later regret. Something that you will never be able to repair. To my surprise she answered without hesitation, no. The conclusion of the story, is that she did leave her husband, and as always happens, she began to see someone else. I do not know what happened to that urgent need for freedom.
Here is where I am asking you, that you pray for the truth. I must add, one more thing. When you pray, you must try to assume the proper disposition. This is a proper spiritual demeanor, for one entering into God's presence, and for asking for something. THAT DEMEANOR IS HUMILITY. We learn this in many places in the Sacred Scriptures, but I find the clearest recommendation for it in the Magnificat of the Virgin Mary, which she sang on the occasion of the visitation. It is in the gospel of St. Luke, the first chapter. Mary's words were:
"My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior, because He hath regarded the humility of Gis handmaid, for behold from henceforth, all generations shall call me blessed, because He that is mighty hath done great things to me and Holy is His name. And His mercy is from generation to generation, to them that FEAR HIM. He hath showed might in His arm, He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away."
Mary's entreat to God was her absolute humility. Her joyful recognition of her littleness and her unimportance. And when you approach the good God to ask Him for something, this should be your disposition also. Having said that, I offer you a prayer or an example of the kind you should say, when you pray for the truth. This is only a sample you understand, but you should speak to God the Holy Ghost, in your own words.
Most Holy Spirit of God, source of all grace, source of all truth, I approach Thee as a most needy suppliant, or let me say: I wish to approach Thee as one who is most needy, the more needful because I do not know exactly what I need, or what I should pray for, and I have too little faith in the power of prayer. I accept the fact that I am at the very beginning, I come to Thee as pure potency, as prime matter, as raw material. As knowing nothing, and as needing everything. I implore Thee first of all for the grace to want the truth. Since Thou will not refuse the humble soul, I humble myself before Thee, admitting my complete dependence, imploring Thee to act upon my will, that I may want to know what I ought, and that I may accept the fact that I know next to nothing. I make this plea without condition or reservation. I seek this freedom of the spirit, the freedom which Christ our Lord says comes with knowledge of the truth. (St. John 8: 32) It is the truth I seek. Because truth is the primary spiritual need of every man. I need the humility to persevere in asking, and the clarity of mind to discern the truth, from all its counterfeits. Its look-alikes.
Cardinal John Henry Neumann, whose life spanned the 19th century, expressed his prayer for the truth in his well known poem, Lead Kindly Light. Which should be the prayer of every man's heart.
Amid the circling gloom
Lead Thou me on
The night is dark
And I am far from home
Lead Thou me on
I was not ever thus
Nor prayed that Thou should lead me on
I love to choose and see my path
But now - LEAD THOU ME ON
I loved the garish day, and spite of fears
Pride ruled my will
Remember not past years
So long Thy power hath blessed me
Sure it still will lead me on
O'er moor and thin or crag and torrent
Till the night is done
And with the morn, those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since
And lost awhile
But you, dear listener, can find the greatest inspirations, for your prayer, in the Veni Sanctus Spriritus, which is the sequence of the Mass of Pentecost Sunday, which some of you may remember.
Holy Spirit, Lord of light
From Thy clear celestial height
Thy pure beaming radiance give
Come Thou Father of the poor
Come with treasures which endure
Come Thou Light of all that live
Thou of all consolers best
Visiting the troubled breast
Dost refreshing peace bestow
Thou in toil art comfort sweet
Pleasant coolness in the heat
Solace in the midst of woe
Light immortal, light divine
Visit Thou these hearts of Thine
And our inmost being fill
If Thou take Thy grace away
Nothing pure in man will stay
All his good is turned to ill
Heal our wounds, our strength renew
On our dryness pour Thy dew
Wash the stains of guilt away
Bend the stubborn heart and will
Melt the frozen, warm the chill
Guide the steps that go astray
Thou on those who evermore,
Thee confess and Thee adore
In Thy sevenfold gifts descend
Give them comfort when they die
Give them life with Thee on high
Give them joys which never end
I urge my listeners to pray for the light of the
Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Truth, as Christ Our Savior referred to Him.
(St. John 15: 26). You must pray for the truth and the willingness, the
courage indeed to accept the truth, when He shows it to you. And I said
that before I begin to speak of anything else, I would need to establish
a number of first principles, which will serve as basis for our mutual
understanding in this effort. Hearing these principles will inform you
of the way I think, and the way that you are going to have to think, if
you and I are going to have any communication. There is another reason
for these first principles. To speak bluntly, it is rare to find a
person who thinks straight. It is my hope that these foundation
notions, would help us to at least, start out in a straight line. In
the programs immediately ahead, as I present these principles, I will
hope that both their truth and the necessity of their acceptance,
becomes self-evident. As time goes by, if you stay with me, you will
see that they are.
Yours in Christ,
Father James Wathen
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