THE THEOLOGICAL VIRTUE OF LOVE
Consider in prayer those words; ponder them in your heart as the Blessed Mother Mary did. These words do not merely apply to the liturgical time of year we'll soon be heading into. In reality, they are applicable to every moment of our earthly exile, for indeed, we have been freed from sin and death. Free from ourselves, who with the weakness inherent from Original Sin, we are often pawns for satan. We are weak, and today's society is fully geared to make our wills even weaker in all spiritual matters. True, when it comes to pleasing ourselves, finding relaxation, amusement, whatever new technological improvement will make life "easier", we're more than willing to work to achieve it. But eternal life? How many even believe in Heaven? How many of those who believe there is a Heaven accept that there is a hell, that sin exists, and that we, as children of God, must fight to overcome the weakness of our flesh, and keep satan far from the door of our will?
Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of Almighty God, born of the Ever-Virgin Mary, came to earth to show us the way. And the way is the WAY OF THE CROSS, the way of perfect obedience united to the DIVINE WILL. Jesus Christ, as True Man, overcame all temptations because He united His will to His Father's Will, and never wavered in all that He did while on earth. Jesus was guided and led by the Holy Spirit. That is what we too must do, and what is vitally important for all of us who wish with all our hearts to remain faithful in these end times.
But we get tired. We're worn out. The battle rages on. The battle between the sexes, against materialism, against abortion, against the ever increasing amount of violence in our society. Nowhere can we turn without smacking up against this evil barrier, which seems to surround us.
And so we surrender, we give in, and then we are prey to satan. Therefore, in these end times, more than ever before, we must turn our eyes to the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and cling to it - literally!
Our souls want us to do this. We begin - and then stop, because we're afraid. Of what are we afraid? Of being crucified with Him? That's part of it. Of surrendering our will totally to God, and letting His Spirit guide our every breath, our every heart-beat, our every action. Surrender our will? Give up our freedom?
Today's society rebels against such a concept. We are an intelligent people. Look what we've accomplished. We have the highest technology, the most sophisticated weapons. We can travel in outer space, and probe into regions of the universe that heretofore have remained unknown and uncharted. We have medical knowledge that prolongs life, and we are now so sophisticated as to think we can genetically engineer a human being before conception, so that we "get what we want", even in the matter of a child.
These are accomplishments? Does Almighty God think so? Are we using our knowledge, the beauty of our intelligence to enhance and bring closer to us the beauty of the Supreme Being, the Author of all Life? Or are we being prideful, and considering that we, mere creatures, know best what is good for us, and therefore we must be in full control of everything.
Letting go of our will means surrendering our self completely to God, Who is Infinite. Who we cannot see with our finite eyes, nor know with our finite minds. We are going to turn over our lives to a "belief", a "Faith?" The world laughs, scoffs, and ridicules those who choose to e humble, obedient servants of God. In addition, it becomes more convenient, more acceptable, to go with the tide, with the vast majority who would rather be "socially acceptable" rather than acceptable and pleasing in the eyes of Almighty God.
In this very day, at this very moment, God is allowing mankind to go the way it has chosen…the way to perdition. He has sent us His Own Mother to recall us to the Word Made Flesh, and to the full reality of the Crucifixion, and the continuing Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, which recalls the Crucifixion, and the wondrous miracle Jesus gave of Himself in the Eucharist.
And the Eucharist is His Gift for Jesus is Present in the Blessed Sacrament, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. And Mary is pleading with all of us to make the Cross the anchor of our faith, which will not allow us to falter, or be swept away in the tide of evil which swamps the world, and which, in a tidal wave, will sweep countless souls into hell at the time of the Great Justice.
The Cross! To look upon it is to behold Divine Love. And we do not understand, because our hearts are like stones that even the heat of a volcano could not melt. We are hardened, and that's exactly what satan wants us to be. God will never over-ride our free will. That is why Our Lady constantly pleads, invites, begs and asks us to open our hearts, to pray with our hearts, to unite our hearts to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and through her Heart to the Sacred Heart of her Son.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, font of Mercy, was opened for all the world at the moment on Calvary when the side of Our Lord and Savior was pierced by a lance. This is Love poured out without holding back anything. Jesus willed to do it, and so great was His Love, that He shed His Sacred Blood even to the last drop realizing the passage in John 15: 13, "Greater Love than this no one has than one lay down His life for His friends."
Are we willing to give something in return for so great a Love? This is our calling! This is what the Blessed Mother is beseeching us to do, and it is possible for all…very possible. It begins with an act of the will, and grows from there into a Fiat, which echoes the Fiat Mary gave to the Archangel Gabriel at the Annunciation.
"Yes" we say to God. "Yes, whatever You want. Your will be done; not mine. I'm poor and weak, and can do nothing. So you, God you do it, and I, your child, will be little, humble and obedient. I will listen, hear, and promptly obey whatever you ask of me."
And what does He ask? To pick up our cross and follow Him! Where did His path take Him? To Calvary; to a death of agony and humiliation in the highest degrees. The same must be true for each of us. No, not that we shall be physically nailed to a cross, scourged with whips, and crowned with thorns. But to pick up our Cross is to be completely obedient to all that God gives to us in our lives. And now, in this time, these end times, as we journey through these waning years of the second millennium, it is vital that we do not merely drag the Cross along, complaining at every step about the pain of our heart, our emotions, our mind, our soul. Rather, we must embrace the Cross with love ignited by LOVE itself, and then, and only then, do we live as one in the Divine Will. Then we truly have nothing to fear, for God will see to all of our needs, be they spiritual or material.
Next Installment: Part Two of the Theological Virtue of Love
Behold, I am truly here, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Behold the angels of Heaven kneel in humble adoration before Me, their God, and their prayers rise constantly to the Throne of God.
O! Open the eyes of your souls and your faith shall allow you to see Me, your God in this Sacrament of Love. Behold My rays of Mercy stream out to blind you to the world and capture you for Me alone.
Is this not love? Do not My beloved gaze upon the Divine Love and utter sighs of deepest love? Does not the frail human love of mankind desire such glances of affection, whispers, sighs and acts which attest to love?
How much more, how Infinite is the Love which I, your God, seek to pour out upon you, capturing you so that you will see Me alone as I see you.
But, O! My sorrow is great. How few come to Me! How few love Me! I am imprisoned here for you. I have willed it to be thus that I might always be Food, Light and Strength. But now in these end times you abandon Me, leaving Me as an orphan - I Who Am God!
Therefore, I give My Mercy to My little, humble ones. I desire all to come back to Me and show the proper devotion that I, their God, am due. I desire you to bow before Me, to bend your knee in homage.
This I ask that you might return love for Love and recognize satan's plot to take Me from you. O! Poor children. You are worried over famine in your nation, which has been given all things in abundance. But I solemnly tell you that the greatest famine in all of mankind's history is already upon you. When I am not truly present in the Blessed Sacrament you are not properly nourished. I solemnly tell you that in many places where My priest-sons are in heresy, I am no longer present!
If you do not come to Me, if you do not change your lives than the famine will be world-wide. Only My faithful remnant shall have Me.
Ponder well My words, for I, your God, do solemnly tell you to be on guard lest satan strip your souls of life.
I am Life. I am Truth. I am your God Who calls day and night. Who will answer? Come home to Me, now, for so great is My Love that it cannot be contained. But where Love is rejected, Divine Justice will strike. Bear My words to all the world.
I love and bless you, My children of faith, hope and love. Be not afraid, for all I have promised shall be fulfilled according to Sacred Scripture.
But I solemnly tell all of my little ones that they have given their wills over to the prince of darkness, who seduces them and makes of them empty sepulchers. Yet I solemnly tell you God in His Mercy has placed among you those anointed with the power to drive away the evil one and all his legions, but your hearts must cry out in pure faith, and the warrior angels will come to assist you.
Therefore, I am asking each of you to believe anew in your faith, a true gift from your Heavenly Father, Who would not lose you to the evil one.
Therefore, become again as little children, and do not rebel. Rebellion is the sin of lucifer, it is the sin of Judas and all who have chosen Hell.
I solemnly tell you that in these end times the evil one shall only be defeated by child-like faith, total abandonment and absolute trust. Come, love Him, my Divine Son Who died for you. Give Him all love. Only then can you love and serve your neighbor in His Holy Name.
Be firm and steadfast. This is the time of great battle. I love and bless you. Thank you for responding to my Call!
The idea is logical, to a degree. And even the Church agrees to a point. IF a person truly doesn't think a sin is a sin, then it isn't 'deadly', that is mortal. It's still a sin, just not a serious sin. It's a venial sin. However, note that I said that the person 'honestly' doesn't know something isn't a sin. One can make an 'honest' mistake. Recently, driving between Oklahoma and Missouri, I 'honestly' thought the speed limit was still 75 mph. Guess what? Was I wrong? Yes. Did I intend to speed? No. But that didn't matter to the Missouri policeman who gave me the ticket.
This is the key. When the Church speaks of the primacy of conscience,
they're refering to an 'informed' conscience. That is, the person 'knows' the
Church, which teaches with the authority of Christ, that such and such is a
sin. However, that person may well 'like' that sin. So they rationalize it.
"God loves me just as I am."..."That's how God made me!"..."God wants me to be
happy and this makes me happy."..."I'm tired of the Church making me feel
guilty.", etc. So, under their own authority, they reject what their
'informed' conscience tells them, and 'kill' their conscience with
rationalization. They are then guilty of a mortal sin since they:
a) KNOW it is a sin....but
b) do it any way.
Does it matter what others say?
Yet, today we hear many tell us that a sin isn't a sin unless we feel it's a sin, and woe to them who try to tell them otherwise. More than likely, they'll quote Christ in defense: "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;" (Luke 6:37).
This is what mercy is about. That's we all hope for, since we're all sinners. But there is a terrible flaw in their logic. If a murder was asked whether or not he felt that what he did wrong, and he said no, would he be acquitted? Can, say, a mafia hit man escape judgement by saying 'it was only business'?
What many, either intentionally or unintentionally, forget to see is Christ's other teaching: "Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, 'I repent,' you must forgive him." (Luke 17:3-4). How can one save themselves from a serious, mortal sin unless someone tells him?
This reminds me of something that St. Francis of Assisi faced: "As yet Francis did not preach sermons to the people they met; nevertheless in passing through towns and castles he exhorted all men and women to fear God and to do penance for their sins....When the people heard them, they said: 1Who are these men, and why do they speak like this?' They made this comment because at that time the fear and love of God had died out in the country and no one spoke of penance which indeed was considered as folly. This attitude was caused by the temptations of the flesh, the cupidity of the world, and the pride of life; the whole of mankind seemed engulfed in these three evil forces." (Legend of the Three Companions, #34, Omnibus of Sources; St. Francis of Assisi)
Are we doing any better today? It's important that we do not 'condemn' the sinner, as the mob did with the adulteress, but must act out of love and concern. Recalling that we too are sinners. "Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye?" (Luke 6:41-42).
Note, Christ is not telling us to ignore the speck in our brothers eye, but to work on removing our own log. As St. James says in his epistle 5: 20, "let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." I know I need that assurance, that hope.
Can we honestly call ourselves followers of Christ if we reject what He teaches in favor of what 'we want' to be the truth? If our 'informed' conscience is touched by the Holy Spirit to feel guilt and prompt us to repentance and conversion, can we say we are doing His will by rationalizing it away? Recall, Christ said; "Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come" (Matthew 12:31-32).
By rejecting the prompting of the Holy Spirit, aren't they blaspheming Him? Aren't they rejecting the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for an 'unholy' one of Me, Myself, and I?
St. Maximilian Kolbe once said: "Such souls (those who kill their conscience) when they are unable to throw off the impious burden they carry will avoid the Church or even rise up against her."
Can those who refuse to "bring back a sinner from the error of his way" claim Christ's teaching as a defense? Wouldn't they be like Cain? "Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?" (Genesis 4:9).
Can a parent say they love their children and not teach them right from wrong? Can you say you love someone and not care whether they step in front a moving train? Can we say, "I love you...go ahead and play in the freeway"?
Let's recall that the Church teaches that we cooperate with the sin of another if we cause the sin by advice or counsel, command, provocation, or consent. And approve of it by praising it, concealing or remaining silent about it, participate with it, enjoy the results of the sin, of defend the sin.
But with this comes a warning. We must do this out of love. Though we might not 'like' what others do, we must 'love' them. Or, as St. Francis exhorts, if we cannot love them, we must at least wish them no harm.
Let's remind ourselves that one of the Spiritual works of mercy is admonishing the sinner.
To do so is not self rightousness (if done with humilty, not doing it as if to say "You're a sinner and I'm not!") It's dangerous, since one may not see your admonishment as one of love. But we must remember that we ALL will face Our Lord one day. What can we say when He says, "See, your brother (or sister) has entered into eternal damnation...why didn't you warn them?"
"And He said to his disciples, 'Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, 'I repent,' you must forgive him.'" (Luke 17:1-4).
Pax Christi, Pat