February 27, 2008
vol 19, no. 58
Do we have the Zeal to Persevere? |
Why is there so much darkness today? We all know the answer to that. It because the Light is not recognized in the darkness as St. John verified in the first chapter of his Gospel. How do we help reverse that? Through our zeal for souls in spreading the Faith Christ commanded us to spread. How can we do that if we ourselves are not on fire with authentic Catholic zeal the likes of men like St. Anselm, the holy Doctor of the Church who let nothing deter him from his mission for God in upholding the Freedom and Exaltation of holy Mother Church. This learned saint used every ounce of his being to bring our Lord to souls, defending the Faith despite the odds, going against earthly kings in order to uphold the King of kings. Why then today are there no Anselms to guide us in the darkness, especially in this black hole of The Great Apostasy? Because we have lost that love of zeal for souls, falling into complacency and indifference while the world falls deeper into darkness. With so few lights to light the way toward Truth, hope wanes. How will God judge us when He asks what we did to enlighten the world to the Light of the world, to fight for the Freedom and Exaltation of the Church? If we do not develop true zeal, we'll have no answer for the Supreme Judge when it counts the most as to our eternal destiny.
"My dear friends, let us take St. Anselm as a particular Patron is these times when the heresy of Modernism has submerged the One True Faith, and the great lie of satan, that of liberty, equality, and fraternity may be cast into the fire, before the Fire of Almighty God's Wrath visits mankind. We, who are the Church Militant, must do as Anselm did, and be unafraid, for this mortal life is fleeting - eternity awaits! Shall we stand beside Anselm for having defended the rights of Holy Mother Church in every place, or shall we be tossed into the raging everlasting fire for having done nothing?"
Lent progresses for us, and our practice of virtue steadily increases as we offer penance, mortification, almsgiving, and every sacrifice we can make in preparation for Holy Week.
Last week we were given the example of Fortitude. Today, in our thoroughly pagan society, we are going to look at the Virtue of Zeal and the life of Saint Anselm, Bishop, and Doctor of the Church, who was raised to the position of Archbishop of Canterbury. This saint gives us, in our present circumstances, a most vivid example of what the conciliar monster is NOT, and why we, in the Church Militant, must fight with all our might against the heresy, apostasy, and schism, which abounds. Why? Simply put, if we do not do everything we are capable of, with God's grace, we shall have to answer for our tepid faith, which hides from the thoroughly pagan leaders who have enacted such iniquitous laws as to make virtue a sin, while sin, in all of its many forms, is crowned a new pagan god. We must have zeal for the One True Faith!!! With zeal, thus comes courage, whihc all true Catholics must possess.
Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., in The Liturgical Year, Pascal Time-Book II, pages 320-329, gives us a magnificent account of the life of this great saint, shepherd and holy Doctor of the Church, to edify, and arouse our torpid spirits so that, through prayer and penance, we might rise up as one and defend Holy Mother Church against all onslaughts, particularly from Rome itself! Let us reflect with the grace of the Holy Ghost on this most vital lesson, for I sincerely doubt there is anyone who could speak as eloquently as Dom Prosper.
"A Monk, a Bishop, a Doctor of the Church - such was the Saint whose feast comes to gladden us?. He was a martyr, also, at least in desire, and we may add, in merit too - for he did enough to earn the glorious palm. When we think of Anselm, we picture to ourselves a man in who are combined the humility and meekness of the cloister with the zeal and courage of the episcopal dignity; a man who was both a sage and a saint; a man whom it was impossible not to love and respect.
He left his native country of Piedmont for the Monastery of Bec in France, where he became a Benedictine monk. Being elected Superior, he realized in himself the type of an Abbot, as drawn by St. Benedict in his Rule: 'He that is made Abbot,' says the holy Patriarch, 'should study to give help rather than to give commands.' (1 The Holy Rule, cap. 64). We read that the love entertained for Anselm by his brethren was beyond description. His whole time was devoted to them, either in giving them spiritual direction, or in communicating to them his own sublime knowledge of the sacred sciences. After governing them for several years, he was taken from them, and compelled to accept the dignity of Archbishop of Canterbury. He was a worthy successor of Augustine, Dunstan, Elphege, and Lanfranc; and by his own noble example of courage, he prepared the way for the glorious martyr Thomas, who succeeded him in less than a century.
As bishop, his whole life was spent in fighting for the liberty of the Church. Though gentle as a lamb by nature, he was all energy for this great cause. He used to say: 'Christ would not have His Spouse be a slave; there is nothing in this world that God loves more than the liberty of His Church.' There was a time when the Son of God allowed Himself to be fettered with bonds in order that He might loosen us from the chains of our sins; but now that he has risen in triumph from the dead, he wills that his Spouse should be, like himself, free. She cannot otherwise exercise the ministry of salvation confided to her by her divine Lord, and yet there is scarcely a single hundred years of her existence in which she has not had to fight for this holy liberty. The rulers of this earth, with very few exceptions, have ever been jealous of her influence, and have sought to lessen it by every possible means. In our own times there are numbers of her children who do not even know that she has any rights or privileges; they would be at a loss to understand you, if you told them that she is the Spouse of Christ, and therefore a queen; they think it quite enough for her, if she enjoy the same amount of freedom and toleration as the sects she condemns; and they cannot see how, under such conditions as these, the Church is not the kingdom he wished her to be, but a mere slave. St. Anselm would have abominated all such theories as these; so does every true Catholic. He is not driven into disloyalty to the Church by the high-sounding words, progress and modern society; he knows that there is nothing on earth equal to the Church; and when he sees the word convulsed by revolutions, he knows that all comes from the Church having been deprived of her rights. One of these is that she should not only be recognized, in the secret of our conscience, as the one only true Church, but that, as such, she should be publicly confessed and outwardly defended against every opposition or error. Jesus, her Divine Founder, promised to give her all nations as her inheritance; He kept His promise, and she was once the Queen and Mother of them all. But nowadays, a new principle has been asserted, to the effect that the Church and all sects must be on an equal footing as far as the protection of the State goes. The principle has been received with acclamation, and hailed as a mighty progress achieved by modern enlightenment; even Catholics, whose previous services to religion had endeared them to our hearts and gained our confidence, have been warm defenders of this impious theory.
Anselm was not only the zealous and heroic defender of the rights and privileges of the Church; he was also a light to men by his learning. The contemplation of revealed truths was his delight. He studied them in their bearings one upon the other, and his writings occupy a distinguished place in the treatises of Catholic Theology. God had blessed him with extraordinary talent. Amidst all the troubles and anxieties and occupations of his various duties, he found time for occupations of his various duties, he found time for study. Even when passing from place to place, as an exile, he was intent on the meditation of the mysteries of religion, thus preparing those sublime reflections which he has left us on the articles of our Faith.
The Church gives us, in her Liturgy, the following sketch of our Saint's life.
Anselm was born at Aosta, a town on the confines of Italy, of noble and Catholic parents?From his early childhood he gave great promise of future holiness and learning by his love of study and his longing after a life of perfection. The ardour of youth made him indulge for a while in worldly pleasures; but he speedily returned to his former virtuous life; and then, leaving his country and all that he possessed, he repaired to the Monastery of Bec, of the Order of St. Benedict. There he made his religious profession, under the Abbot Herluin, a most zealous lover of monastic discipline, and (Priest) Lanfranc, a man of great repute for learning. Such was the fervor of his piety, and his application to study, and his desire to advance in virtue, that everyone held him in the highest veneration as a model of holiness and learning.
So mortified was he in eating and drinking, and so frequent were his fasts, that he seemed to have lost the sense of taste. He spent the day in the performance of monastic duties, and in giving answers, both by word of mouth and by letters, to the several questions proposed to him concerning matters of religion. He passed a considerable portion of the time allotted to sleep in nourishing his soul with holy meditations, during which he shed abundant tears. When he was made Prior of the Monastery, certain of his brethren were jealous at his promotion; but he so far gained them over by charity, humility and prudence, that their jealousy was changed into love both of their Prior and their God, to the great advantage of regular discipline. At the death of the Abbot, Anselm was chosen to succeed him, and reluctantly accepted the office. It was then that his reputation for learning and virtue began to spread far and wide, and secured him the respect of kings and bishops. Not only so, but even Gregory the Seventh, who at that time was suffering much fron persecution, honoured him with his friendship, and wrote to him letters full of affection, begging of him to pray for him and the Church.
At the death of Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, who had been his former master, Anselm was compelled, much against his own will, to accept the government of that see. William, king of England, the clergy and the people, all urged him to it. He immediately set himself to reform the corrupt morals of the people. By word and example, first, and then by his writings, and by holding councils, he succeeded in restoring ancient piety and ecclesiastical discipline. But it was not long before King William attempted, both by violence and threats, to interfere with the rights of the Church. Thus did Anselm resist him with priestly courage, for which his property was confiscated, and he himself banished from the country. He turned his steps towards Rome, where Urban the Second received him with great marks of honour, and passed a high encominum upon him at the Council of Bari, where Anselm proved against the Greeks, by innumerable quotations from the Scriptures and the Holy Fathers, that the Holy Ghost proceeds also from the Son. After William's death, he was recalled to England by King Henry, William's brother. Shortly after his return, he slept in the Lord. He was justly venerated on account of his miracles and his virtues, among which latter may be mentioned his great devotion to the Passion, and to the Holy Mother of Jesus. He moreover acquired a high reputation by his learning, which he used in the defense of the Christian religion, and for the good of souls. He first set the example to those theologians who have followed the scholastic method in treating on the sacred sciences. The works he has written prove that his wisdom was a gift bestowed on him by Heaven.
'Heroic champion of the Church's liberty! Protect it in these our days, when there is not a country left where it is not insulted or ignored. Raise up in every place pastors with a spirit of holy independence such as thou hadst; that thus the faithful may take courage and that every Christian may boldly and proudly confess that he himself is a member of the Church, and that the interests of our spiritual mother are far more deserving of our solicitude than those of the whole world besides.
God has gifted thee, O Anselm, with that Christian philosophy which bows down to the teachings of faith, and which, being thus purified by humility, is elevated to the intelligence of the sublimest truths. The Church, in acknowledgement of the benefits she derived from thy learning, has conferred upon thee the title of Doctor, which for a long time was confined to those great men who lived in the early Christian Ages, and whose writings are the reflex of the preaching of the Apostles. Thy teachings has been deemed worthy of being numbered with that of the ancient Fathers, for it came from the same divine Spirit, and was the result of prayer rather than of study. Obtain for us, O holy Doctor, that 'our faith' like thine, 'may seek understanding.' Nowadays, there are many who blaspheme what they know not;(2 St. Jude 10), but there are many also who know little or nothing of what they believe. Hence arise a deplorable confusion of ideas, compromises are made between truth and error, and the only true doctrines are despised, scouted, or at least undefended. Pray to our heavenly Father, O Anselm, that he would bless the world with holy and learned men, who may teach the path of truth, and dispel the mists of error; that thus the children of the Church may not be led astray'."
My dear friends, let us take St. Anselm as a particular Patron is these times when the heresy of Modernism has submerged the One True Faith, and the great lie of satan, that of liberty, equality, and fraternity may be cast into the fire, before the Fire of Almighty God's Wrath visits mankind. We, who are the Church Militant, must do as Anselm did, and be unafraid, for this mortal life is fleeting - eternity awaits! Shall we stand beside Anselm for having defended the rights of Holy Mother Church in every place, or shall we be tossed into the raging everlasting fire for having done nothing?
In recent times few could speak so clearly of zeal than Father Frederick Faber whose wonderful writings and orthodoxy should be a benchmark for every Traditional Catholic. Dr. Thomas A. Droleskey just posted a summary of why there is so little zeal today in quoting from Fr. Faber's book, The Precious Blood, published in 1860 during the reign of Pope Pius IX. Read these following words and tell me this is not an excellent compendium for each of us to look in the mirror and examine our conscience and realize we have been part and parcel of the problem. Ask yourself: "What am I going to do about it?" Consider Fr. Faber's words:
"If we hated sin as we ought to hate it, purely, keenly, manfully, we should do more penance, we should inflict more self-punishment, we should sorrow for our sins more abidingly. Then, again, the crowning disloyalty to God is heresy. It is the sin of sins, the very loathsomest of things which God looks down upon in this malignant world. Yet how little do we understand of its excessive hatefulness! It is the polluting of Godís truth, which is the worst of all impurities.
Yet how light we make of it! We look at it, and are calm. We touch it and do not shudder. We mix with it, and have no fear. We see it touch holy things, and we have no sense of sacrilege. We breathe its odor, and show no signs of detestation or disgust. Some of us affect its friendship; and some even extenuate its guilt. We do not love God enough to be angry for His glory. We do not love men enough to be charitably truthful for their souls.
Having lost the touch, the taste, the sight, and all the senses of heavenly-mindedness, we can dwell amidst this odious plague, in imperturbable tranquility, reconciled to its foulness, not without some boastful professions of liberal admiration, perhaps even with a solicitous show of tolerant sympathies.
Why are we so far below the old saints, and even the modern apostles of these latter times, in the abundance of our conversations? Because we have not the antique sternness? We want the old Church-spirit, the old ecclesiastical genius. Our charity is untruthful, because it is not severe; and it is unpersuasive, because it is untruthful.
We lack devotion to truth as truth, as Godís truth. Our zeal for souls is puny, because we have no zeal for Godís honor. We act as if God were complimented by conversions, instead of trembling souls rescued by a stretch of mercy.
We tell men half the truth, the half that best suits our own pusillanimity and their conceit; and then we wonder that so few are converted, and that of those few so many apostatize.
We are so weak as to be surprised that our half-truth has not succeeded so well as Godís whole truth.
Where there is no hatred of heresy, there is no holiness.
A man, who might be an apostle, becomes a fester in the Church for the want of this righteous indignation."
When we realize this was written almost a century and a half ago and then consider how things have deteriorated since then we have to shudder. If they were as bad as Fr. Faber wrote in the mid nineteenth century, imagine how God judges man today when things have gone from bad to worse - as in the very worst. Is our zeal for souls any better? Sadly, we have to admit it is not. What will it take to learn from the saints, from St. Anselm who refused to cave to popular opinion or the 'common good.' He stood against all that was not pleasing to God. Do we even try? Shouldn't we? If we truly love God as we say and profess, we better.
St. Anselm changed nothing, taught nothing that varied from Catholic truth. He never rationalized sin, never condoned one iota of caving to the era or the times in which man lived. The Faith can never change. The holy Anselm knew that zeal was a gift, a virtue that must be cultivated through prayer and practice. It takes being on fire for our Lord, speaking out when all others remain silent, taking the path less traveled - the narrow path that will prompt rebuke, calumny, persecution and even death from man, but the grace of perseverance to do so from God because you are doing it for Him and with Him in justifiable anger of what we have all done to Him. That is what zeal is. Are we on fire with zeal? If not, we need to find the right flint to ignite our hearts and minds and create that spark that will preserve the Faith at all costs and help save souls. Let's heat up the world.