After a few columns about those who would try to destroy the Church by
'loyal dissention', we need to refresh ourselves. The enemy wants us to be
discouraged, depressed. He wants us to wonder if it's worthwhile.
"Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not
arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or
resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things"
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
Love is what we are all about. Our love of God and His love of us. God's
love for us is something we know (or should know). He sent His Son to teach
us His way, and to call sinners repentance and conversion, and to die for us
so we might live, for and through Him. His love is such that He will not
force Himself on us. He extends His hand to us, He follows after us, but He
waits for us to clasp His Hand, to walk with Him, to love Him.
"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father,
and He will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the
Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him
nor knows Him; you know Him, for He dwells with you, and will be in you" (John
So we show our love for God by keeping His commandments, and we know His
commands from His Church. " Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am
with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).
No child loves a parent by continually and purposely rejecting their
commands, their wishes. No, love is connected with obedience. Fr. Herbert
de Launay points out : "In John 3:36 Jesus links belief and obedience.
"Whoever believes (Greek: pisteuon, believing) in the Son has life eternal.
Whoever disobeys (Greek: apeithon, disobeying) the Son will not see life, but
must endure the wrath of God." We can note here that the opposite of belief
is disobedience." (Reflections on the readings for May 12, 1996,
the 6th Sunday of Easter, Cycle A)
St. Ignatius Loyola, in his "Spiritual Excercises" points out that the soul
in consolation is "aroused by an interior movement which causes it to be
inflamed with love for its Creator and Lord, and consequently can love no
created thing on the face of the earth for its own sake, but only in the
Creator of all things. It is likewise consolation when one sheds tears
inspired by love of the Lord, whether it be sorrow for sins or becaue of the
Passion of Christ our Lord, or for any other reason that is directly
connected to His service and praise." (Rules for the Discernment of Spirits,
He goes on to say, "…desolation is all that is contrary (to the above) as
darkness of the soul, turmoil of the mind, inclination to low and earthly
things, restlessness resulting from many disturbances and temptations which
lead to loss of faith, loss of hope, and loss of love. It is also desolation
when a soul finds itself completely apathetic, tepid, sad, and separated as
it were, from its Creator and Lord." (Ibid)
Thomas A Kempis writes: "You must forget yourself always and in all things,
in small things as well as inthose that are great. I (Christ) make no
excpetions, but want you to be divested of your self-will in all things. For
how can you be wholly Mine and I totally yours, if you still entertain
self-will within and outside yourself." (Imitation of Christ, chap. 37)
It is when the soul is in desolation, that we retain self will, that the
enemy seeks to separate us from our love of God. And one of His tools is to
appear as an angel of light. St.Ignatius Loyola likens him to a military
commander who camps nearby and, after looking over the enemy camp, attacks at
it's weakest point.
So, it is understandable how, for example, a woman falls into sin and
because of that sin finds herself pregnant. Then, adding sin to sin, under
the illusion of right, aborts the baby. Hence advancing further into sin.
Scripture gives us two examples of a soul in desolation and the affects of
faith and love in God.
"And after a little while again the bystanders said to Peter, 'Certainly
you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.' But he began to invoke a curse
on himself and to swear, 'I do not know this man of whom you speak.' And
immediately the cock crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had
said to him, 'Before the cock crows twice, you will deny Me three times.' And
he broke down and wept" (Mark 14:70-72).
"When Judas, His betrayer, saw that he was condemned, he repented and
brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders,
saying, "I have sinned in betraying innocent blood." They said, "What is that
to us? See to it yourself." And throwing down the pieces of silver in the
temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself" (Matthew 27:3-5).
Peter's love of God brought sorrow for his sin, and he wept and gained
forgiveness and grew in sanctity. He didn't even allow himself self pity.
Whereas Judas lost his faith, his love of God. He added sin to sin.
An even great sign of self denial for the love of God is Mary.
"And Mary said to the angel, 'How shall this be, since I have no husband?'
And the angel said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power
of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be
called holy, the Son of God….. For with God nothing will be impossible.' And
Mary said, 'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according
to your word." And the angel departed from her.' (Luke 1:34-35; 37-38).
For Mary, nothing could be more inconvenient, more against her interests.
An unmarried woman, pregnant, that was a death sentence. But her faith and
love of God allowed only one response. "Behold, I am the handmaid of the
Lord; let it be to me according to your word."
But the person whose love of God is weak, or lost, begins to speculate.
"Well, God wants me to be happy, He love some just as I am." Etc. They come
as 'an angel of light' to sow dissention, confusion, etc.
"I appeal to you, brethren, to take note of those who create dissensions and
difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid
them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites,
and by fair and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the
simple-minded" (Romans 16:17-18).
"As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may
charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to occupy
themselves with myths and endless genealogies which promote speculations
rather than the divine training * that is in faith; whereas the aim of our
charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and
sincere faith. Certain persons by swerving from these have wandered away
into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without
understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make
assertions" (1 Timothy 1:3-7).
"For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive,
disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable,
slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless,
swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding
the form of religion but denying the power of it. Avoid such people. For
among them are those who make their way into households and capture weak
women, burdened with sins and swayed by various impulses, who will listen to
anybody and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth. As Jannes and
Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of corrupt
mind and counterfeit faith; 9 but they will not get very far, for their folly
will be plain to all, as was that of those two men" (2 Timothy 3:2-9).
"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge
the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the
word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be
unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people
will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate
for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from
listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady,
endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry" (2 Timothy
"Show yourself in all respects a model of good deeds, and in your teaching
show integrity, gravity, and sound speech that cannot be censured, so that an
opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say of us" (Titus 2:7-8).
Remember, we all sin, but sin does not rule us. We are called to a sincere
repenting of our sins. To advance in perfection, and to persevere in that
struggle to the end.
"Many false prophets will arise and deceive many; and because of the
increase of evildoing, the love
of many will grow cold. But the one who perseveres to the end will be
saved" (Matthew 24:11-13).
Out of love, we are never alone in our struggles to come closer to God.
"I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you" (John 14:18).
In prayer, in the Eucharist, He will be with us, to strengthen us in our
faith and love. So, out of love we follow and obey. And out of love, He
strengthens us and is with us. All we need to do is reach out to Him by
dying to ourselves. All we need to do is grasp Him as He has grasped us. He
is standing at the door waiting patiently to be let into out hearts. He is
waiting for us to follow Him. When we do, then we can truly say to Christ,
"My Lord and my God."