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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 January 21, 2020

All the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easy-going...

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January 21

 

All the strength of Satan’s reign
is due to
the easy-going weakness of Catholics.


Pope St. Pius X


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Agnes

Even pagans were moved to tears at the sight of the radiant...

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St. Agnes

Agnes was born around 291 in a Christian, patrician family of Rome, and suffered martyrdom in the terrible persecution of Diocletian.

As a young maiden, she pledged herself to Christ and defended her virginity to the death.

Exceptionally beautiful, she turned down numerous suitors, but when she refused Procop, the Prefect’s own son, things became very complicated. Procop tried to win Agnes with gifts and promises but she answered: “I’m already promised to the Lord of the Universe. He is more splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave me!”

Angered, Procop  took  the maiden before his father, and accused her of being a Christian. The Prefect tried to turn her from her Faith first by cajolements, and then by placing her in chains, but she only rejoiced.

The pagan official, set on overcoming Agnes by any means, next had her taken to a house of prostitution but she was visibly protected by an angel.

Finally, Agnes was condemned to death, but she was happy as a bride about to meet her bridegroom. Even pagan bystanders were moved to tears at the sight of the radiant maiden going to her death, and begged her to relent, to which she retorted: “If I were to try to please you, I would offend my Spouse. He chose me first and He shall have me!” Then praying, she offered her neck for the death stroke.

St. Agnes is one of seven women besides the Blessed Virgin to be mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. She is the patron of chastity, young girls, engaged couples, rape victims and virgins. She is depicted holding a lamb as her name in Latin means “lamb”, “agnus”. But the name “Agnes” is actually taken from the Greek “hagne” meaning chaste, pure, sacred.

Agnes’ relics repose beneath the high altar of the Church of Sant’Agnese Fuori le mura, built upon the place she was originally buried. This church was built in her honor by the daughter of the Emperor Constantine, and is one of the oldest in Rome.  St. Agnes’ skull is in the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone at Piazza Navona.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him h...

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Mary and the Muslim

Don Octavio del Monaco was a wealthy citizen of 17th century Naples. Like many of his class, Don Octavius had several Muslim slaves in his household. These children of Islam were amazed at the kindness of their “master.” He fed and clothed them better than they received in their native land. In return, his slaves attended to their tasks with diligence, as Don Octavius did not over work them, but assigned them duties in keeping with their dignity as children of God.

If these Muslim slaves had any reason for complaint, it was the gentle persistence with which their master and his wife exhorted them to give up their false religion and become Catholics. Don Octavius even went so far as to invite the slaves to join his family in the chapel to worship the one true God with them!

Our story today is about one young slave in particular. His name was Abel, like the slain son of Adam and Eve. He felt drawn in a peculiar way to a lamp that burned in front of a shrine to Holy Mary. Abel would purchase the oil needed to keep the lamp lit from his own meager stipend. As he continued to practice this humble devotion, he would say, “I hope that this Lady will grant me some great favor.”

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian. At first the Turk resisted. But she placed her hand upon his shoulder, and said to him: “Now no longer resist, Abel, but be baptized and called Joseph,” conferring on him a name that was very dear to her Immaculate Heart indeed.

On August the 10th, 1648, there was much rejoicing in Heaven, for on that day “Joseph” and eleven other Muslims converted to the Christian faith and were baptized. Their conversion was brought about by the kindness shown by Don Octavius and the special intercession of the Mother of God.

Our story does not end here. Even once this son of hers was safely baptized, Mother Mary delighted in visiting him. Once, after having appeared to him, she was about to depart. But the Moor seized her mantle, saying, “Oh, Lady, when I find myself afflicted, I pray you to let me see you.” In fact, she one day promised him this and when Joseph found himself afflicted he invoked her, and Mary appeared to him again saying, “Have patience", and he was consoled.

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

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian.

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