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Spiritual Weeds

Header-Pulling nasty spiritual weeds from the soul

 

Modern man has a certain understanding of the virtues. When asked about them, meekness and kindness, even justice and fortitude immediately come to mind. However, there is one virtue which is almost entirely unknown. This virtue, which "…comprehends the rest, or supplies for all that may be wanting in them,"1 is vigilance.

The word vigilance means a close and alert watchfulness against danger. When applied to the spiritual life, it signifies the virtue whereby man directs this watchfulness against the three fetters pulling him towards damnation: the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Like an army with no sentry, the man who lacks vigilance is defenseless against the continual assaults unleashed by the devil. In the Garden of Olives, Our Lord warned the apostles to this end, "Watch ye: and pray that ye enter not into temptation." (Matthew 26:41)

 

Three Steps to Vigilance

To better understand vigilance, and therefore simplify its practice, the great Catholic thinker, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira divided it into three main steps: suspicion, watchfulness and pugnacity.

 

1. Suspicion

Attempting to destroy the notions of good and evil in man, the Revolution2 denies the existence of Original Sin. As a result, modern man is not concerned about falling into sin and immerses himself in a world of immodest fashions, pornography and many other occasions of sin.

On the other hand, the Church teaches that after Original Sin man's inclinations are so corrupt and his passions so disordered that he is incapable of maintaining a friendship with God without the continual help of grace. Saint Paul calls men "bodies of sin" (Rom. 6:6) and speaking of the soul, Saint Louis de Montfort wrote:

We are naturally prouder than peacocks, more groveling than toads, more vile than unclean animals, more envious than serpents, more gluttonous than hogs, more furious than tigers, lazier than tortoises, weaker than reeds, and more capricious than weathercocks. We have within ourselves nothing but nothingness and sin, and we deserve nothing but the anger of God and everlasting Hell.3

Saint Louis also notes that man's "best actions are ordinarily stained and corrupted by…[his] corrupt nature."4

Understanding this corruption leads one to see all one's ideas, thoughts and tendencies with the utmost suspicion. This is the first step to vigilance.

 

2. Watchfulness

Suspicion gives rise to watchfulness. The vigilant soul, mindful of his corrupt nature and the lengths to which the devil will go in his unholy struggle, is constantly on the look-out. "Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour." (1 Peter 5:8)

Pointing out the addictive nature of vice, the Catholic Encyclopedia classifies it as "a habit inclining one to sin."5 Through watchfulness, the vigilant soul identifies his defects before they become habits and is therefore much more likely to overcome them.

 

3. Pugnacity

In a generic sense, pugnacity is the practice of utterly destroying one's enemies whenever, wherever and however they exist. Pugnacity applies to vigilance when it is interiorly exercised against one's defects.

Defects, like weeds left unchecked, will grow out of control and take over the garden of the soul. Also like weeds, once uprooted, any part left in the soil will soon grow back stronger than before.

The pugnacious soul, like a good gardener, spares no effort in uprooting and completely overcoming defects as soon as they appear. History is full of examples of pugnacious saints doing violence to themselves to conquer their defects.

Saint Francis of Assisi, for example, while plagued with impure thoughts, reportedly threw himself out of a window to take his mind off them.

Our Lord Himself preached this same pugnacity. And if thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee. For it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than thy whole body be cast into hell.

And if thy right hand scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body go into hell. (Matthew 5:29-30)

 

Vigilance and Confidence

Realizing that his neighbor has the same bad inclinations that he has, the vigilant soul regards him with the same suspicion he regards himself. This is not to say that he is overly critical and unfriendly, but rather that he puts none of his confidence in mere creatures which Saint Theresa called, "dry branches that break under the first pressure."6

Like the wise man who built his house on rock (Matthew 7:24-27), the vigilant man possesses that special confidence which is anchored only in the firm rock of God, His Divine Church and His Holy Mother. Satan may unleash tempests and floods of fury, and his secure house will not succumb.

 

Vigilance, the Key to Counter-Revolutionary Living

In his book Revolution and Counter Revolution, Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira insightfully pointed out how the Revolution makes use of the tendencies of man to reach its insidious goals.7 It introduces temptations and obstacles inside culture contrary to the practice of Christian virtue. Because of this all-encompassing influence, vigilance is essential to identify and destroy these evils.

For this reason, anyone aspiring to a Counter-revolutionary life must especially consider this virtue in developing his spiritual life. Through this virtue, the ever-present assistance of Our Lady will give him the eyes to see and the power to overcome all adversity and attain sanctity to which all men are called.

 

Our Lady of Vigilance, pray for us.

 


(Originally published under the title: Vigilance, A Counter Revolutionary Virtue, by Michael Whitcraft)

Footnotes:
1. Ven. Louis of Granada, The Sinner's Guide, Chapter 47, https://www.ewtn.com/library/SPIRIT/granada40-48.htm. [back to text]
2. The Revolution here refers to the anti-Christian, five hundred year-old process, described by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira in the book Revolution and Counter-Revolution.
[back to text]

3. St. Louis De Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, translated by Fr. Frederick William Faber, D.D., Tan Books and Publishers Inc., Rockford Ill. 1941, p. 49. [back to text]
4. Ibid. p. 48. [back to text]
5. The Catholic Encyclopedia, https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15403c.htm [back to text]
6. Quoted by Fr. Thomas de Saint Laurent, The Book of Confidence, p. 26, America Needs Fatima, Crompond, NY, 1989. [back to text]
7. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, Chapter 5. [back to text]


 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for April 17, 2021

The heart of man is, so to speak, the paradise of God. Since...

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April 17

 

The heart of man is, so to speak,
the paradise of God.
Since His delights are to be with you,
let yours be found in Him.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Stephen Harding

God answered him dramatically when thirty noblemen knocked a...

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St. Stephen Harding

Stephen Harding was an Englishman of an honorable family, and heir to a large estate. Born in Dorset, he was educated at the monastery of Sherborne and spoke English, Norman, French and Latin.

Desirous of seeking a more perfect way of Christian perfection, he, with a devout companion, traveled into Scotland and afterwards to Paris and to Rome. On their return journey, the two travelers chanced upon a collection of huts in the forest of Molesme in Burgundy, where monks lived in great austerity. Struck by their way of life and finding kindred spirits in Robert the Abbot, and Alberic the Prior, he bid his friend goodbye and threw in his lot with the monks.

After some years, finding that religious fervor had waned considerably, Stephen, Robert, Alberic and others went to Lyons and with the support of Bishop Hugh struck a new foundation in the forest of Citeaux sponsored by Rainald, Lord of Beaune, and Odo, Duke of Burgundy.

Later Robert returned to his monks of Molesme who reclaimed him as their abbot, and upon the death of Alberic, in 1109, Stephen succeeded him as Abbot of Citeaux.

He immediately instituted such austere measures to keep the spirit of the world out that he alienated the support of many who had helped to establish the abbey. Novices ceased applying, and to make matters worse, a mysterious disease decimated his monks to the point that even Stephen’s stout heart began to quiver wondering if he were really doing God’s will.

God answered him dramatically when thirty noblemen knocked at the abbey’s door seeking admittance. They were headed by young St. Bernard who in his zeal had convinced his brothers, uncles and a number of his acquaintances to give up the world with him.

Increasing numbers called for additional foundations and the first two were made at Morimond and Clairvaux. To the general surprise, Stephen appointed twenty-four-year-old Bernard as Abbot of Clairvaux. When nine abbeys had sprung from Citeaux, Stephen drew up the statutes of his Charter of Charity which officially organized the Cistercians into an order.

Stephen Harding died in 1134, advanced in age and nearly blind, and having served as Abbot of Cîteaux for twenty-five years.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

I turned to God, but God seems to remain deaf to me. Why is...

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Why Doesn't God Answer My Prayer?

Question:  I pray and pray, but I feel as if God is not listening. We always had a good, peaceful family life, but these last years have been tough. We don’t seem to be getting along and our finances have taken a turn for the worse.

I am so anxious about this situation that, not having anyone to turn to, I turned to God.

But God seems to remain deaf to me. Why is that? In addition, what do I say to certain people, agnostics and atheists, who laugh at prayer, saying it is nonsensical and only a figment of the imagination with no real value?

Answer:  God is faithful to His promises, and God promised to answer our prayers. “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:9–10).

If God promises to answer our prayers, He will do so infallibly. But in prayer there are two sides: he who asks and He Who gives.

Our part is to ask. How must we ask?

Saint Alphonsus Liguori, a Doctor of the Church, teaches in his book Prayer, the Great Means of Salvation that prayer must be persevering and humble.

So many times we hear people saying: “Oh, I used to ask God for this and that and the other, but He never gave it to me. Now, ten years later, how glad I am that He didn’t!”

One thing is certain: God will not fail to answer a humble and perseverance prayer. Whether He chooses to grant what we ask immediately or make us wait, we must trust that He, regardless of appearances, is doing us good. What we think is good and what He thinks is good may be two different things: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways My ways” (Isa. 55:8), but here is where we must abandon ourselves to His beneficent will. Our part is to be patient, calm and, above all, faithful, because this is the time for testing and later will come the time for full enjoyment.


Answering Atheists and Agnostics
As for atheists and agnostics, their skepticism proceeds from the fact that they, respectively, deny God’s existence or deny men’s capacity to know God.

In this case, we can only express our regret over their ignorance of this Supreme Being, our omnipotent Creator and loving Savior.

We may direct them to a few sources that may help in their search for the truth of His existence. Atheism and agnosticism can only be sustained in ignorance or ill will because the evidence of God’s existence is overwhelming.

Moreover, God will not hide Himself from those who seek Him sincerely and unconditionally.

Another consideration pertaining to non-believers is this: If God were to grant us absolutely everything we ask at a moment’s notice, such people might start believing purely out of self-interest.

They would look at God as a wand-wielding wizard. And God Our Lord is infinitely more than that. He wants us to know, love, and serve Him for Himself so that He can treat us as children and heirs and grant us unending happiness in Heaven.

"My impression is that the Rosary is of the greatest value not only according to the words of Our Lady of Fatima, but according to the effects of the Rosary one sees throughout history. My impression is that Our Lady wanted to give ordinary people, who might not know how to pray, this simple method of getting closer to God."  Sister Lucia, one of the seers of Fatima.

 

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I turned to God, but God seems to remain deaf to me. Why is that? In addition, what do I say to certain people, agnostics and atheists,

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