16 October 2009

Purity, by St. Francis De Sales

St. Francis De Sales (1567-1622)
On Purity
PURITY is the lily among virtues — by it men approach to the Angels. There is no beauty without purity, and human purity is chastity. We speak of the chaste as honest, and of the loss of purity as dishonour; purity is an intact thing, its converse is corruption. In a word, its special glory is in the spotless whiteness of soul and body.

No unlawful pleasures are compatible with chastity; the pure heart is like the mother of pearl which admits no drop of water save that which comes from Heaven, — it is closed to every attraction save such as are sanctified by holy matrimony. Close your heart to every questionable tenderness or delight, guard against all that is unprofitable though it may be lawful, and strive to avoid unduly fixing your heart even on that which in itself is right and good.
Every one has great need of this virtue: those living in widowhood need a brave chastity not only to forego present and future delights, but to resist the memories of the past, with which a happy married life naturally fills the imagination, softening and weakening the will. Saint Augustine lauds the purity of his beloved Alipius, who had altogether forgotten and despised the carnal pleasures in which his youth was passed. While fruits are whole, you may store them up securely, some in straw, some in sand or amid their own foliage, but once bruised there is no means of preserving them save with sugar or honey. Even so the purity which has never been tampered with may well be preserved to the end, but when once that has ceased to exist nothing can ensure its existence but the genuine devotion, which, as I have often said, is the very honey and sugar of the mind.
The unmarried need a very simple sensitive purity, which will drive away all over-curious thoughts, and teach them to despise all merely sensual satisfactions. The young are apt to imagine that of which they are ignorant to be wondrous sweet, and as the foolish moth hovers around a light, and, persisting in coming too near, perishes in its inquisitive folly, so they perish through their unwise approach to forbidden pleasures. And married people need a watchful purity whereby to keep God ever before them, and to seek all earthly happiness and delight through Him Alone, ever remembering that He has sanctified the state of holy matrimony by making it the type of His own union with the Church.
The Apostle says, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:" [Heb. 12, 14] by which holiness he means purity. Of a truth, my daughter, without purity no one can ever see God; [Matt. 5,8] nor can any hope to dwell in His tabernacle except he lead an uncorrupt life; [Psalm. 15, 1,2] and our Blessed Lord Himself has promised the special blessing of beholding Him to those that are pure in heart.

How to Maintain Purity

BE exceedingly quick in turning aside from the slightest thing leading to impurity, for it is an evil which approaches stealthily, and in which the very smallest beginnings are apt to grow rapidly. It is always easier to fly from such evils than to cure them.

Human bodies are like glasses, which cannot come into collision without risk of breaking; or to fruits, which, however fresh and ripe, are damaged by pressure. Never permit any one to take any manner of foolish liberty with you, since, although there may be no evil intention, the perfectness of purity is injured thereby.
Purity has its source in the heart, but it is in the body that its material results take shape, and therefore it may be forfeited both by the exterior senses and by the thoughts and desires of the heart. All lack of modesty in seeing, hearing, speaking, smelling, or touching, is impurity, especially when the heart takes pleasure therein. S. Paul says without any hesitation that impurity and uncleanness, or foolish and unseemly talking, are not to be "so much as named" among Christians. The bee not only shuns all carrion, but abhors and flies far from the faintest smell proceeding therefrom. The Bride of the Canticles is represented with "hands dropping with myrrh." a preservative against all corruption; her "lips are like a thread of scarlet," the type of modest words; her eyes are "dove's eyes," clear and soft; her "nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh towards Damascus" an incorruptible wood; her ears are hung with earrings of pure gold; and even so the devout soul should be pure, honest and transparent in hand, lip, eye, ear, and the whole body.
Remember that there are things which blemish perfect purity, without being in themselves downright acts of impurity. Anything which tends to lessen its intense sensitiveness, or to cast the slightest shadow over it, is of this nature; and all evil thoughts or foolish acts of levity or heedlessness are as steps towards the most direct breaches of the law of chastity. Avoid the society of persons who are wanting in purity, especially if they are bold, as indeed impure people always are. If a foul animal licks the sweet almond tree its fruit becomes bitter; and so a corrupt pestilential man can scarcely hold communication with others, whether men or women, without damaging their perfect purity — their very glance is venomous, and their breath blighting like the basilisk. On the other hand, seek out good and pure men, read and ponder holy things; for the Word of God is pure, and it will make those pure who study it: wherefore David likens it to gold and precious stones. Always abide close to Jesus Christ Crucified, both spiritually in meditation and actually in Holy Communion; for as all those who sleep upon the plant called Agnus castus become pure and chaste, so, if you rest your heart upon Our Dear Lord, the Very Lamb, Pure and Immaculate, you will find that soon both heart and soul will be purified of all spot or stain.
Excerpts taken from: Introduction to the Devout Life : Chapters XII and XIII

Blessed Are the Pure in Heart

Our Lord preached the Eight Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon He taught something new in the world. Where people had always striven for riches, honors, and pleasures, Christ praised the poor, the humble, the suffering.

If we practice faithfully the doctrine of the eight beatitudes, we shall find the true path of perfection and be happy besides on earth. The Beatitudes contain in substance the law of God and all evangelical perfection.

(below is another excerpt of this great book, My Catholic Faith, A Manual of Religion)

"Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God."

Only those who are not in habitual sin are clean of heart, and possess virtue. They will be rewarded with the vision of God in heaven; and even on earth by the great light given them.

There are several degrees of purity of heart: to the first degree belong those who are free from mortal sin; to the second belong those who are free from deliberate venial sin and all affection for sin; to the third degree belong those who are free from the least ill-regulated affection; to the fourth belong those who are free from the almost imperceptible stains that delay a soul's entrance into God's home; and to the last degree belong those Christians of such purity of life and thought, of such perfection of zeal and intention, that they habitually live for God alone, that they are perfectly united with Him, so that when they close their eyes in death they will fly straight into the Heart of God.

by the late Bishop LOUIS LARAVOIRE MORROW, S.T.D. from his book,

Thoughts on Adversity and Consolation, by Tomas a Kempis

BOOK I, Chapter 12 from Imitation of Christ, Tomas a Kempis

It is good for us to have sometimes troubles and adversities; for they make a man enter into his heart, that he may know that he is in banishment, and may not place his hope in any thing of this world. It is good that we sometimes suffer contradictions and that men have an evil or imperfect opinion of us, even when we do and intend well.

These things are often helps to humility, and defend us from vain glory.

For then we better seek God, our inward witness, when outwardly men hold us cheap, and do not think well of us.
Therefore should a man establish himself in such manner in God, as to have no need of seeking many consolations from men.
When a man of good will is troubled or tempted, or afflicted with evil thoughts, then he better under- stands what need he has of God, without whom he finds he cannot do any good.
Then also he laments, sighs, and prays, by reason of the miseries which he suffers.
Then is he weary of living longer, and wishes death to come, that he may be dissolved and be with Christ. Then also he well perceives that perfect security and full peace cannot long abide in this world.

From Chapter 9:

He (St. Lawrence) overcame therefore the love of man by the love of the Creator; and instead of human solace, he made choice rather of the good pleasure of God.

So do thou also learn to part with some familiar and beloved friend for the love of God.

And take it not to heart when thou art forsaken by a friend, knowing that one time or other we must all part.

A man must go through a long and great conflict within himself before he can learn fully to overcome himself, and to draw his whole affection towards God.

When a man stands upon himself, he easily falls off to human consolation.

But a true lover of Christ and a diligent follower after virtue does not fall back on consolations, nor seek such sensible sweetnesses, but is rather willing to bear strong trials and hard labours for Christ.

Therefore, when God gives spiritual comfort, receive it with thanksgiving ; but know that it is the gift of God, not thy desert.

Be not puffed up, be not overjoyed, nor vainly presume ; but rather be the more humble because it is a gift, and the more cautious and wary in all thy actions; for this hour will pass away and temptation will follow.

When consolation shall be taken away, do not presently give up hope, but wait with humility and patience for the heavenly visit; for God is able to give thee back again a fuller consolation.

This is no new thing, nor strange to those who have experienced the ways of God; for in the great saints and ancient prophets this has often been the way, that the one changes for the other.

04 October 2009

Ave Maris Stella - Edvard Grieg

It might seem a little 'pansy-ish' to see a bunch of boys, albeit quite talented, to sing really soft, high notes, but this is a very awesome song performed excellently. These young guys successfully give the impression of angels adoring the Blessed Mother, to which this blogger responds, "Ave Maria!"

03 October 2009

Jesu Corona Virginum

Jesu corona Virginum,
quem Mater illa concipit
quae sola Virgo parturit,
haec vota clemens accipe.

Quocumque pergis,
virgines sequuntur,
atque laudibus
post te canentes cursitant
hymnosque dulces personant.

Jesu, tibi sit gloria,
qui natus es de Virgine,
cum Patre et almo Spiritu,
in sempiterna saecula.
Qui pascis inter lilia,
septus choreis Virginum
sponsas decorans gloria,
sponsisque reddens praemia.

Te deprecamur largius
nostris adauge sensibus
nescire prorsus omnia,
corruptionis vulnera. Amen.+

St. Therese of Lisieux* (*in a play she herself wrote while in Carmel) as St. Joan of Arc just before her martyrdom.