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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 July 14, 2020

You cannot be half a saint; you must be a whole saint or...

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July 14

 

You cannot be
half a saint;
you must be a whole saint
or no saint at all.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Kateri Tekakwitha

Kateri stood before the church until it opened at four o’c...

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St. Kateri Tekakwitha

Tekakwitha, baptized Kateri, “The Lily of the Mohawks” was born in 1656 near the town of Auriesville, New York, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior, and a captured, Christian Algonquin woman, Tagaskouita.

Between 1661 and 1663 a small pox epidemic afflicted Kateri’s tribe. Both her parents and her brother died, and though also contracting the disease, she survived though her face was left scared and her eyesight affected. She was adopted by a paternal aunt and her husband, a chief.

At seventeen the young Mohawk girl turned down an offer of marriage, and though pressed, still refused.

Under the influence of missionary priests introduced into her tribe after the Mohawks were defeated by the French, Kateri converted to Catholicism at eighteen, and was baptized when twenty. Members of her tribe were hostile to her by reason of her Faith, but she persevered.

The Jesuit missionaries described Tekakwitha as a modest girl who covered most of her head with a blanket because of her scars.

In 1677 Kateri moved to the new Christian colony of Indians in Canada under the direction of Jesuit fathers where she found peace. There, she lived a life dedicated to prayer, penance and the care of the sick and the aged.

Every morning, even in the bitterest cold, young Kateri stood before the church until it opened at four o’clock. Once inside, she attended every Mass, her greatest devotions being the Eucharist and Christ Crucified. She undertook severe penances, seeking to mortify her flesh so as to help her soul reach union with her beloved God.

In the Lent of 1680 friends noticed that Kateri was failing. She died on Wednesday of Holy Week around three o’clock. Her last words were, “Jesus, I love You.”

As she lay still in death, those around her noticed that her scars had disappeared and her face was white and beautiful.

Pope Benedict XVI canonized Kateri Tekakwitha on October 21, 2012.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protest...

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Walk to Conversion

In September, I brought the statue of Our Lady of Fatima to the home of Mr. John Black and his family in Kings City, California.  John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protestantism: about thirteen years ago he was visiting one of the 21 Spanish missions in California (though these are holy sites, they also serve as tourist attractions.)

“Who is this Junipero Serra anyways?”  he asked, as the tour guide shared the history of the mission. “Well,” the guide responded, “you are standing on his grave!”  Surprised, John looked down and read inscription on the stone. Sure enough, Blessed Father Junipero Serra was buried right there. “I became electrified,” John told me, “I had to learn more about this man and about the missions.”  The more he studied Blessed Serra, the founder of the first nine missions, the more impressed he became, and he decided to travel on-foot to all 21 missions. 

With the blessing of his wife, now left at home with their two infant sons, John left for his solo expedition, taking with him a single backpack, the bible and little money.  He told me that every mission he visited he felt the presence of someone receiving him, even if the mission was empty. He felt this ambiance in the missions so serene and uplifting, and began to realize it was the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament that made him feel so at home.

At one point, John collapsed from exhaustion near a mission run by Franciscans, who kindly hosted him for the night. Before he left the next day, one of the friars gave him a first-class relic of Blessed Serra. Since he was Protestant, John did not know what a relic was, but not wanting to appear rude, he accepted it. Not long after he left the Franciscans, John became lost in the wilderness in the middle of the night. Through his exhaustion and fear he heard a voice say, “Let’s help John.” He had the distinct feeling that Blessed Serra was guiding him, and gathered the strength and courage to continue. About six hours later, he stumbled upon the next mission. “It was kind of a miracle,” he said, “I was really lost!”

During his journey, John slowly came to a realization. “I know what you want from me, God,” he thought to himself one day, “you what me to became a Catholic. That is what this is all about!” However, he still had many questions about aspects of Catholicism that have been rejected by his Protestant faith – mainly about the Blessed Mother. Yet, from that point on he received answers to all of his questions, especially his reservations about devotion to Mary: he believed that it was once again Blessed Serra answering him.

With the help of Blessed Serra, one problem after another was resolved in the solitude of his travels. By the time John reached the final mission, he wholly decided to become a Catholic. “I realized that by having devotion to Mary, you love Our Lord even more,” he told me.

John returned home, filled with zeal and enthusiasm for his newfound faith. He shared his astonishing experiences with his wife, and she too converted. “I feel at home in the Catholic church,” John said, “and I have never loved Our Lord Jesus Christ more than I do now.”

by Joseph Ferrara

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John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protestantism: about fourteen years ago he was visiting one of the 21 Spanish missions in California 

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