There is a purpose in life, a reason for our daily trials and struggles. We are on a journey that must lead to Heaven. On this journey we cannot afford to be sidetracked or disabled by the pursuit of other goals that become ends in themselves rather than steppingstones to our ultimate goal. "No man can serve two masters," says Our Lord, "for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will stand by the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (St. Matthew 6:24). We must apply the Lord's good advice: "Seek first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be given you besides" (St. Matthew 6:33).
St. Paul also talks about two diverging paths, one leading into the spiritual realm, the other into the unspiritual, or carnal (Galatians 5:16-24). There is a struggle, he says, between the spirit and the flesh. The flesh does not refer to the body, but to our wounded human nature after the Fall, which is incapable of doing works which are pleasing to God. The spirit refers to human nature after it has been "born again of water and the Holy Ghost" (St. John 3:5). It is then capable of bearing fruit pleasing to God.
Here we are dealing with the difference between the natural and the supernatural. Human nature must be healed and raised to the level of the supernatural if its actions are to be pleasing to God. "Walk in the Spirit," says St. Paul, "and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, so that you do not do what you would." He adds, most importantly, "They who belong to Christ have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk" (Galatians 5:25).
This spiritual struggle within us may be explained in terms of a divided human will, as St. Augustine explains in his Confessions (Catholic Book Publishing Co., N.J., 1997):
"It is then no monstrous thing that one should be partly willing and partly not willing. Rather, it is a sickness or weakness of the mind that, being weighed down by evil custom, it does not entirely arise when lifted up by truth. There are, therefore, two wills… (Book 8,Chapter 9).
"So also when eternity delights us above, while the pleasure of temporal good holds us fast below, it is the same soul that with a will in conflict must choose one or the other. Therefore, it is rent and torn, suffering grievous embarrassment, while, for the sake of truth, it prefers the one, but out of habit does not relinquish the other" (Book 8,Chapter 10).
The saint advises: "If material things please you, take occasion from them to praise God, and turn your love from them toward Him Who made them, lest in these things that please you, you displease Him. (Book 4,Chapter 12).
The war continues on another front. "You cannot serve God and mammon," says Jesus Christ. But behold! The conciliar church is willing to give it a try by ignoring the distinction between the natural and the supernatural. It believes that every human being is good and capable of meritorious acts that make one deserving of Heaven. Forget about Original Sin. There is now a nearly universal belief among Catholics that virtually everyone is on a free ride to the "common homeland." Many Catholics no longer struggle. They have already lost the battle and are on their way to Hell, imagining themselves safe in having the form of religion, but without its power.
St. Augustine speaks about being seduced by false philosophies in his time: "For the space of nine years, from my nineteenth to my twenty-eighth year, we were seduced and did seduce others, being deceived and deceiving others in various inordinate desires, openly by what they call the liberal sciences, secretly by the false name of religion - proud in the one, superstitious in the other, vain in both..." (Confessions, Book 4,Chapter 1).
The supernatural is above the natural, unattainable by unaided human effort. Unlike blood or brains, it is not an integral part of our human nature. It is not in the genes. Sanctifying Grace is a God-given gift that comes through Baptism, making us children of God who are capable of pleasing Him. It is true that all human beings are capable of good on the natural level, because they possess the natural virtues in some degree or other, but their good works do not merit a supernatural reward.
Those who wish to avoid Hell and be saved must not rely upon the good works of which fallen human nature is capable. Those who wish their good works to merit a supernatural reward must first believe as did the Apostles and the martyrs and the saints of all time. We do not speak of belief as the word is now often used in the conciliar church - Muslims are believers; Hindus are believers; Jews are believers. A true believer in the truly Catholic sense is one who has faith in Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior and Lord.
In addition to having faith, one must be baptized according to the traditional form of Baptism, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. And then one must obey the Lord by keeping His Commandments and belonging to the Church He founded, the Holy Catholic Church.
The war rages on, and our holy Religion is being taken away from us. If we do not stand up and fight for it, we will end up thinking like the others that a normally good person, as the world understands it, is guaranteed a place in Heaven. This is the ancient heresy of Pelagius, who believed that the sin of Adam was only "bad example" and didn't leave any lasting effects on human nature. The heresy rendered the Sacrament of Baptism unnecessary and undermined the Redemption itself. It was condemned by two councils in Carthage in 416 AD and 418 AD. When St. Augustine heard that the Council decrees had been accepted by Pope Zozimus, he is supposed to have said, "Roma locuta, causa finita" (Rome has spoken, the case is ended). But then he added, "utinam finiatur error!" (If only the error were ended!). But the error survives!
St. Paul's advice to Timothy is for us: "But thou, O man of God, flee these things; but pursue justice, godliness, faith, charity, patience, mildness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on the life eternal, to which thou hast been called… I charge thee in the sight of God, Who gives life to all things, and in the sight of Christ Jesus, Who bore witness before Pontius Pilate to the good confession, that thou keep the commandment without stain, blameless until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Timothy 6:11,12a,13,14).
Father Louis J. Campbell