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Header - Embracing the Cross

Written by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

 

An authentic piety penetrates every recess of our souls, naturally stirring our most intimate emotions. Piety, however, is far more than feelings. It arises deep within ourselves from our knowledge of the truths that govern an interior life formed in accord with the Faith. To be sure, these life-giving truths are often acquired through diligent and disciplined study; but intelligence, like emotion, is an inadequate foundation for piety, which also resides in the will.

Thus we must desire to live the truths we know. It is not sufficient to understand that God is perfect, for example. We must also love His perfection and desire to have some share in it; we must aspire to sanctity.

To desire is not simply to entertain vague notions or feelings. We truly desire something only when we are ready to make every sacrifice necessary to attain it.

Without the will to sacrifice, our "pious desires" are but vain illusions. Tender contemplations of divine truths and sacred mysteries are sterile seeds if they do not bear fruit in firm resolutions to live our faith.

 

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CrucifixMeditating on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ is a praiseworthy devotion, but we must follow the Way of the Cross in our lives as well as in our churches. We must give Our Lord sincere proofs during these days of our devotion and love, amending our lives and fighting with all our strength in defense of the Holy Catholic Church.

"Why Persecutest Thou Me?"

When Our Lord confronted Saint Paul on the road to Damascus, He asked him, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" (Acts 9:4). Since Saul was persecuting the Church, Our Lord's words make it clear that to persecute Christ's Church is to persecute Christ Himself, for the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ.

If the Church is persecuted today, then Christ is persecuted, and Our Lord's Passion is being relived in our days. Every act that draws a soul away from the Church persecutes Christ. To separate a soul from the Church is to amputate a member of the Mystical Body of which Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Head. To wrench a soul from the Church is like chopping off Our Lord's hand, severing His leg, pulling out His eye.

Therefore, if we desire to identify with the Passion of Christ, let us indeed meditate on His sufferings at the hands of His persecutors nearly 2,000 years ago, but let us not forget to consider all that is being done to inflict the same wounds on His Mystical Body today.

Above all, let us not fail to examine our own acts of indifference, cowardice, and betrayal. While His sacred blood mingled with the dirt during His agony in the garden, Our Lord foresaw the sins of all men of all times. He saw our sins and suffered for each one of them. In the Garden of Olives we were present with Christ as executioners and, as such, we accompanied His bloodstained steps to the heights of Golgotha.

Behold the suffering of Holy Mother Church mocked and jeered before our jaded eyes. She stands before us as Our Lord once stood before Veronica. Let us console the Church by defending Her whatever the cost. In doing so, we will be consoling Christ as Veronica did.

How Many Souls Will Lose Their Faith?

Certain truths about God and our supernatural end we can learn by using the reason He has given us. Because our reason has been clouded by sin, however, we can know other truths only because God has taught us. In His infinite goodness, He has revealed them to us in the Old and New Testaments.

Our belief in Revelation is grounded in the virtue of faith. Without faith there is no salvation, but no one can make an act of faith without the supernatural help of God's grace. God offers this grace to all men, but He showers it in torrential abundance on the members of His Mystical Body, the Church. Through faith, the Holy Ghost dwells within us, sanctifying our bodies as His holy temple (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19). To abandon the Faith is to reject the Holy Ghost, to expel Jesus Christ from our souls.

Yet, around us we see many Catholics who have rejected the Faith. They were baptized, but in the course of time they lost their faith. Alas, they suffered this loss through their own fault, for howsoever enticed by others, no one loses his faith without mortal fault. Behold them, indifferent and hostile, thinking, feeling, and living like pagans. They may be our relatives, our neighbors, perhaps even our friends. Their disgrace is immense. The mark of their baptism is indelible.

Marked for heaven, they are bound for hell. The blood of Christ has been sprinkled on their souls, and no one can efface it, yet they defile it by adopting principles and norms that violate the doctrines of Christ's Church.

And we? Are we troubled? Are we concerned? Does this pain us? Do we pray for their conversion? Make reparation? Are we apostolic? Where is our counseling? Our argumentation? Our charity? Where is our fearless and energetic defense of the truths that they deny or insult?

The Sacred Heart of Jesus bleeds because of this. It bleeds for the apostasies of these souls and for our indifference, an indifference that is twice guilty because it is indifferent to our neighbor and, first and foremost, to God.

 

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How many souls around the world are losing their faith? Consider the endless numbers of impious newspapers and magazines, broadcasts and films, that flood the world daily. Consider the innumerable workers of Satan who, in academia, in the bosom of the family, in meeting rooms, in places of entertainment, propagate impious ideas. The consequences are before us. Institutions, customs, and art are becoming ever more de-Christianized, an undeniable indication that the entire world is losing God.

Is there not some great scheme in all of this? Can so many articulate and uniform methods, united in their objectives and development, be merely coincidental? Since when have spontaneous motions concertedly produced the most complete, organized, extensive, ingenious, and formidable ideological offensive in history, fully consistent in its essence, its goals, and its development?

Agony in the GardenWe don't think about it. We don't even perceive it. We sleep the heavy sleep of our daily lives. Why are we not more vigilant? The Church suffers greatly, but alone. Far from Her, very far from Her, we slumber. The scene in the Garden of Olives is repeated.

"Could You Not Watch One Hour With Me?"

We, thanks be to God, still profess the Faith that so many have abandoned and betrayed.

But what use do we make of it? Do we love it? Do we understand that our greatest happiness in life consists in being members of the holy Church, that our greatest glory is the title of Christian? If we respond in the affirmative — and how rare are those who, in good conscience, could so respond — are we ready to make every sacrifice in order to preserve our faith?

Before answering with a romantic yes, let us take a moment to examine our consciences honestly. Do we ever seek occasions that might put our faith at risk? Do we enjoy worldly pleasures that are — at best — indifferent to it? Do we read or view materials that violate its standards? Do we welcome the company of those who disregard or even disparage it?

By virtue of their instinct of sociability, all men are prone to conform to popular opinion, to accept the conventional wisdom around them. Today's dominant opinions contravene the teachings of the Church in philosophy, sociology, history, science, art — ultimately, in everything. Our friends quite likely follow the trend. Do we have the courage to stand against it? Do we guard our hearts against any penetration of erroneous ideas? Are we of one mind with the Church in everything? Or are we content with negligently going about our business, taking in everything the spirit of the times instills simply because it instills it?

Perhaps we have not expelled Our Lord from our souls, but how do we treat this Divine Guest? Is He the object of all our attention, the center of our intellectual, moral, and affective life? Is He our King? Or do we allot Him only a small space where He is tolerated as a secondary guest, a rather uninteresting and inconvenient guest?

When the Divine Master groaned, wept, and sweat blood during His Passion, He was tormented not solely by physical sorrows, nor just those sufferings occasioned by the hatred of those who persecuted Him then. He was also tormented by everything that we would do against Him and the Church in the coming centuries. He wept because of the hatred of all the evil men, every Arius, Nestorius, and Luther. But He also wept foreseeing the unending procession of lukewarm souls, apathetic souls, that, while not persecuting Him, do not love Him as they ought.

This is the innumerable multitude of those who spend their lives neither hating nor loving and who, according to Dante, remain at the gates of Hell because not even Hell has sufficient place for them. Are we among these? This is the great question that with God's grace we must answer in the days of recollection, piety, and expiation we are about to enter.

 


  

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for April 19, 2021

He asked to die like a thief and steal Paradise....

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April 19

 

A dying man asked a dying man for eternal life. 
A man without possessions asked a poor man for a Kingdom. 
A thief at the door of death asked to die like a thief and steal Paradise. 
 
One would have thought a saint would have been the first soul 
purchased over the counter of Calvary by the red coins of Redemption. 
 

But in the Divine plan it was a thief 
who was the escort of the King of kings 
into Paradise.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

 
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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Alphege of Canterbury

Alphege hastened to the defense of his people, and pressing...

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St. Alphege of Canterbury

As a youth, Alphege became a monk in the monastery of Deerhurst in Gloucestershire, England, afterwards an anchorite and later an abbot in a monastery in Bath. At thirty, at the insistence of St. Dunstan and to his great consternation, he was elected Bishop of Winchester. As bishop, he maintained the same austerity of life as when a monk. During his episcopate he was so generous toward the poor that there were no beggars left in the diocese of Winchester.

Alphege served twenty-two years as bishop of this see and was then translated to the see of Canterbury at the death of Archbishop Aelfric.

During this period, England suffered from the ravages of the Danes who joined forces with the rebel Earl Edric, marched on Kent and laid siege to Canterbury. When the city was betrayed, there was a terrible massacre, men and women, old and young, dying by the sword.

The Archbishop hastened to the defense of his people, and pressing through the crowd begged the Danes to cease the carnage. He was immediately seized, roughly handled, and imprisoned.

A mysterious and deadly plague broke out among the Danes, and, despite the fact that the holy prelate had healed many of their own with his prayers and by giving them blessed bread, the Danes demanded an exorbitant ransom for his release. As the Archbishop protested that the country was too poor to pay such a price, he was brutally assassinated.

St. Alphege was the first Archbishop of Canterbury to die a violent death. In 1023, the martyr's body was translated with great ceremony to Canterbury accompanied by the Danish King Canute. Although he did not die directly in defense of the Faith, St. Alphege is considered a martyr of justice.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a...

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The Robber Who Stole Heaven

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a notorious robber who made his living by bringing misfortune on others. His occupation being what it was, he would only increase his property by decreasing that of his victims.

One day, he was admonished by a local religious to change his course of life and thereby insure his eternal salvation. The only answer the robber gave was that for him there was no remedy.

"Do not say so," said the religious, "do what I tell you. Fast on each Saturday in honor of the Virgin Mary, and on that day of the week do no harm to anyone. She will obtain for you the grace of not dying in God’s displeasure.”

The robber thought to himself, “This is a small price to pay to insure my salvation; I will do as this holy man has prescribed.” He then obediently followed the religious’ advice, and made a vow to continue to do so. That he might not break it, from that time on he traveled unarmed on Saturdays.

Many years later, our robber was apprehended on a given Saturday by the officers of justice, and that he might not break his oath, he allowed himself to be taken without resistance. The judge, seeing that he was now a gray-haired old man, wished to pardon him.

Then the truly miraculous occurred. Rather than jump for joy thanking the judge for his leniency, the old robber, said that he wished to die in punishment of his sins. He then made a public confession of all the sins of his life in that same judgment hall, weeping so bitterly that all present wept with him.

He was beheaded, a death reserved for the nobility, rather than hanged. Then his body was buried with little ceremony, in a grave dug nearby.
Very soon afterwards, the mother of God came down from Heaven with four holy virgins by her side. They took the robber’s dead body from that place, wrapped it in a rich cloth embroidered with gold, and bore it themselves to the gate of the city.

There the Blessed Virgin said to the guards: "Tell the bishop from me, to give an honorable burial, in such a church to this dead person, for he was my faithful servant." And thus it was done.

All the people in the village thronged to the spot where they found the corpse with the rich pall, and the bier on which it was placed. And from that moment on, says Caesarius of Heisterbach, all persons in that region began to fast on Saturdays in honor of she who was so kind to even a notorious robber.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a notorious robber who made his living by bringing misfortune on others. 

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