27 February 2010

O Vos Omnes

Tomas Luis de Victoria (1548-1611)

Tenebrae Responsories - 14 - O vos omnes

O vos omnes qui transitis per viam:
attendite et videte
si est dolor sicut dolor meus.
Attendite, universi populi, et videte dolorem meum.
Si est dolor similis sicut dolor meus.

English translation:
Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?

Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow.
Behold, all ye people of this earth,
to see if there be any sorrow
like unto mine.
Based on Douay-Rheims Bible:

Lamed. O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow: for he hath made a vintage of me, as the Lord spoke in the day of his fierce anger. (Lamentations Of Jeremias 1:12)

22 February 2010

Some "Stabat Mater" for Lent

The first is a less traditional piece *gasp*.  It's actually from the impressionistic composer, Fracis (Francis)Poulenc, and while not appropriate for the Mass, it is appropriate for sort of laying the ground before meditation.  The character of various moods in this piece point to a lot of what is happening all at once at the time of our Lord's crucifixion --- not only in the sense of the tragedy, but it's universal significance.  This is what makes this piece unique and most worthwhile.

This video only has highlights of the song, but even for a taste, here it is:

Next, we have Zoltan Kodaly's Stabat Mater.  He is also a modern composer, but his style is suitable still for the Mass.

This video is not worth watching but only listening to, so I recommend you close your eyes:

It seems that even the video editor seems to have been of the same opinion (see comments above), as 2/3rds of the way through this video, the image goes blank.

13 February 2010

Jesu Dulcis Memoria

Proof is in the Pudding: Society's Growing Lack of Charity Due to Gnostic Errors

+ Often people will concede that people in general are becoming less and less sensitive to the needs of others.  Businesses are becoming increasingly out for themselves as many are no longer above leading on customers and exploiting their workers.  Neighbors are becoming more and more phobic of other neighbors simply because they are strangers, instead of realizing that they are strangers because they haven't made any effort to become acquainted. 

A woman said to me today that people in Europe are so much friendlier because many cultures still hug one another.  (Europe, infact, has greater immorality than much of the US, in terms of legalized euthanasia, abortion, eugenicistic attitudes, socialism, etc.)   On the surface, this would have been a good example, except for the fact that hugging does not signify a deep level of morality.  It feels good, but it has nothing to do with a morality.  This author is not against hugging, but it's definitely not itself a sign of commitment to a greater good.    Even our Lord was betrayed with a kiss, which is generally considered a higher degree of affection than hugging.  Hugging, handshakes and other signs of affection are not nearly as significant a sign of goodness than veneration to God.  That is why prayer, incidentally, is the greatest thing one can give to his neighbor.   Good feelings do not necessarily produce good effects, such as if one is attached to something evil, such as sin, or is attached in a disordered manner to something lawful.   And even if good feelings are incidental to a truly good action, they are not the means to consistent good because, unlike God, feelings in themselves are not constant.  
The reason people are becoming desensitized to their neighbor's welfare is because they lack charity.  They lack the very comprehension of what charity actually is.  True charity is ordered to God first, as He is the source of all goodness, and love of neighbor born of love of God.   Immanentism is the contradictory error that says the highest good is what one can do for one's neighbor.  True charity, according to the teachings of the Catholic Church, says that the highest good comes from God.  

How does this lead to social chaos and moral degradation?   If one says that the highest good comes from what one does for his neighbor, or even what a society does for the weak, it then makes its own defintions of morality, seemingly demoting God to a mere bystander, rather than the Ominipotent Creator, who gives us everything, including but not limited to: the 10 Commanments, Divine Laws, the Sacraments, and natural moral law.

Immanentism leads to moral relativity, or more accurately, moral relativism is part en parcel to the heresy of immanentism.  If a group of people, such as a political party or a government, or even a single human being, says that "I can choose for myself what is the highest good" (by the way, the error of how evil came into the world), then morality is no longer in obedience to God, since God is not only Himself the highest good, but the Authority by which all creation belongs as He is their Creator.

Once we accept these truths, against relativism, the good and truth comes from God and God alone, as He all Goodness and Truth Incarnate, we can then have first a code of morality that not only we can live by as individuals, but ideally in a society that is not in contradiction to the realities of life -- which can only be respected in the wider view of objective morality.  This morality is truly catholicas -- true for all places, for all people, and for all times.

Intercessory Prayer Requests NOT Opposed to Praying "Directly to Jesus"

The following is an excerpt from Catholic.com (full text), and published with the Nihil Obstat approval.  It is only extracted text, with no other modifications. 

Some may grant that the previous objections to asking the saints for their intercession do not work and may even grant that the practice is permissible in theory, yet they may question it on other grounds, asking why one would want to ask the saints to pray for one. "Why not pray directly to Jesus?" they ask.
The answer is: "Of course one should pray directly to Jesus!" But that does not mean it is not also a good thing to ask others to pray for one as well. Ultimately, the "go-directly-to-Jesus" objection boomerangs back on the one who makes it: Why should we ask any Christian, in heaven or on earth, to pray for us when we can ask Jesus directly? If the mere fact that we can go straight to Jesus proved that we should ask no Christian in heaven to pray for us then it would also prove that we should ask no Christian on earth to pray for us.

Praying for each other is simply part of what Christians do. As we saw, in 1 Timothy 2:1–4, Paul strongly encouraged Christians to intercede for many different things, and that passage is by no means unique in his writings. Elsewhere Paul directly asks others to pray for him (Rom. 15:30–32, Eph. 6:18–20, Col. 4:3, 1 Thess. 5:25, 2 Thess. 3:1), and he assured them that he was praying for them as well (2 Thess. 1:11). Most fundamentally, Jesus himself required us to pray for others, and not only for those who asked us to do so (Matt. 5:44).

Since the practice of asking others to pray for us is so highly recommended in Scripture, it cannot be regarded as superfluous on the grounds that one can go directly to Jesus. The New Testament would not recommend it if there were not benefits coming from it. One such benefit is that the faith and devotion of the saints can support our own weaknesses and supply what is lacking in our own faith and devotion. Jesus regularly supplied for one person based on another person’s faith (e.g., Matt. 8:13, 15:28, 17:15–18, Mark 9:17–29, Luke 8:49–55). And it goes without saying that those in heaven, being free of the body and the distractions of this life, have even greater confidence and devotion to God than anyone on earth.

Also, God answers in particular the prayers of the righteous. James declares: "The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit" (Jas. 5:16–18). Yet those Christians in heaven are more righteous, since they have been made perfect to stand in God’s presence (Heb. 12:22-23), than anyone on earth, meaning their prayers would be even more efficacious.

Having others praying for us thus is a good thing, not something to be despised or set aside. Of course, we should pray directly to Christ with every pressing need we have (cf. John 14:13–14). That’s something the Catholic Church strongly encourages. In fact, the prayers of the Mass, the central act of Catholic worship, are directed to God and Jesus, not the saints. But this does not mean that we should not also ask our fellow Christians, including those in heaven, to pray with us.

In addition to our prayers directly to God and Jesus (which are absolutely essential to the Christian life), there are abundant reasons to ask our fellow Christians in heaven to pray for us. The Bible indicates that they are aware of our prayers, that they intercede for us, and that their prayers are effective (else they would not be offered). It is only narrow-mindedness that suggests we should refrain from asking our fellow Christians in heaven to do what we already know them to be anxious and capable of doing.

In Heaven and On Earth

The Bible directs us to invoke those in heaven and ask them to pray with us. Thus in Psalms 103, we pray, "Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will!" (Ps. 103:20-21). And in Psalms 148 we pray, "Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his host!" (Ps. 148:1-2).

Not only do those in heaven pray with us, they also pray for us. In the book of Revelation, we read: "[An] angel came and stood at the altar [in heaven] with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God" (Rev. 8:3-4).

And those in heaven who offer to God our prayers aren’t just angels, but humans as well. John sees that "the twenty-four elders [the leaders of the people of God in heaven] fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints" (Rev. 5:8). The simple fact is, as this passage shows: The saints in heaven offer to God the prayers of the saints on earth.

NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials
presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors.
Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004

IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827
permission to publish this work is hereby granted.
+Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004

And here is another link that is quite good:


Also, it is worthwhile to point out that the early Christians had this practice of begging for the intercession of the saints.  They even venerated the relics of the Christian martyrs not only by risking their lives to bury their bodies, but also by celebrating Mass over their tombs.  This tradition is still with the Church, as every consecrated altar where Mass is publicly celebrated is to have relics of saints underneath.  We recognize the holy souls of saints in humility, and give them proper respect for honor of God.  Furthermore, we ask for their intercessions, because they are already united to Him in Heaven, where their prayers are more efficacious than ours alone.  While we are the Church Militant, they are the Church Triumphant.


"Outsiders Looking In"

Often I hear the description by those who are unfamiliar with the traditional Catholic liturgy (as opposed to the common New Order Mass practiced by a majority of practicing Catholics) that those who celebrate the "Latin Mass" are "outsiders looking in". 

I would agree in large part with that statement.  Only, this is a positive thing.  The fact that it is not considered so is a reason which compels me to publish this post.

The Mass traditionally was intended to emphasize what we as Catholics believe, particularly in regards to the great mystery of the Sacrifice of the Mass, which is our Lord himself coming down in the form of the Holy Eucharist. The New Order Mass was intended to take the focus off this mystery as being a mystery, by putting the emphasis on the people's experience and changing much of the rubrics to make more of our "Protestant brethern" feel "at home". This was not the intentions of the Mass ever before Vatican II.
There is a heresy that is common today that demands of Catholic bishops and priests to be very careful with the liturgy, and it seems to be more noted on EWTN* (*what I'm trying to say is that the Novus Ordo Masses on EWTN seem to be very careful to not do the common liturgical errors that promote this error). This heresy is known as immanentism. Its basic idea is that the greatest good in this life is what we as humans can do for one another. The focus then is on experiences of spirituality and ends up promoting relativism among other things. In reality, the greatest good in this life is always God. This is what the emphasis of the Roman Catholic liturgy historically, but this concept has been largely (not entirely, but largely) eclipsed by various heretical movements since Vatican II. The trouble is that these heresies are very insidiuous in the context of the modern world; since they blend right in to the "norm", most people --- even most Catholics--- never notice them. They take it for granted that they know what they need to know about the faith and about true Catholic spirituality that is taught by the Church Doctors.
Take the structure of a Catholic church: it is made up of the vestibule, the nave, and the sanctuary where the altar resides. Most Catholics do not know that these parts have names, let alone liturgical significance that points to spiritual realities. The vestibule is where the Confessionals would be near or even fully contained. The vestible represents liturgical 'hell', while the nave represents 'purgatory', and the sanctuary is liturgical 'heaven', containing our Lord's real Presence. The structure is intended to evoke within the community the aire of mystery of our Lord's Presence and remind us of the fact that we must venerate by giving our full attention. Holy Communion isn't something that we just 'do' by receiving, it is something that we must venerate by making our Lord's True Presence the center of our lives, and most especially while in His Presence. That has always been the thinking of the saints and of the traditional Roman liturgy, except when there was a "crisis" within the culture. The crisis, however, wasn't because there was something lacking in the liturgy, but because their were prelates that had different theological views that were more in sympathy with Protestantism. They saw that the fact Protestantism was growing at a faster rate than Catholicism suddenly --- that this was a sign of some type of defect in Catholic theology and liturgy (Lex orandi. Lex credendi.). Unfortunately, these prelates were incorrect; the sign of contradiction was was always intentional (just as our Lord said of himself as compared to the expectations the jews had of the coming messiah, and a contradiction to the spirit of the world in general). The fact that there were increasing numbers of people turning to Protestantism had to do with societal philosophical errors spreading from cultural revolutions propagated primarily by the effects of communism and before that, the philosophical errors of the Rennaisance. For example, the "sexual revolution" was a concept that led people in droves away from the Sacraments, the Commandments, and likewise, the Church.
The popes have consistently written about this and share these same perspective as I am expressing here. Even the saints in modern times refused the new Mass even in its early stages, but they also understood what the changes were and why they were made, and what was lost by them. I think I 'got it' only because I came from a diocese in upstate New York that is widely considered by most US bishops and missionaries as the worse diocese in the country (ladened with heresies). When I saw a Latin Mass for the first time, it was an answer to many tearful prayers of petition.
So, how does the traditional liturgy express more fully what Catholics believe (by doctrine)? There are some wonderful audios of sermons online that I can add here, but before I do, I want to mention a few points that I don't remember having been made in the sermons.
First off, the old rite is based on the Breviary, which is the Divine Office. As you may know, there are not only two liturgical rites, but each has its own hours prayers of the Church that priests and religious are bound to pray and on time throughout each day by pain of mortal sin. The Novus Ordo uses the Liturgy of the Hours with a 3 year cycle: a, b and c. The Breviary is based on a 1 year cycle. This is great because it causes the liturgical cycle to become more inbred into the life of the Catholic, as you eventually begin to more quickly recount Biblical text as having liturgical significance, thus causing one to more immediately apply it to one's life. OK, well, that's the long-term benefit.
Another favorite thing of the traditional liturgy is the fact that it focuses on the interior life. Since the highest good is God Himself, our relationship to Him is dependent first not on what we do, but rather, firstly our disposition. The primary means to developing greater a deeper relationship with God is prayer. And there are some prayers that are more efficacious to this end than others. Mental prayer, for example, is higher than discursive prayer. We come together as a community, yes, but our own salvation is not depended upon our what our neighbor does, but what we do individually. And no where is this more relevant than when we are before Christ at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

During the sermon a priest once said that most pious Catholic men today would rather devout 6 months of hard labor than one hour of devout, mental prayer. They say, "God and I have an understanding", as if somehow God gave them dispensation from the normal means to holiness, which is prayer, intimate prayer.  Community prayer is not efficacious unless there is an intimate prayer within the individual to God, which does not place God at the same level as the individual himself, but places God as the Creator.  It is about recognizing the spiritual realities and regarding the sacred as sacred.  The focus on entertainment during the Mass and appealing to the culture is a standard that does not produce the effect of honoring the sacred. Rather, when you have drums, guitar, and other common instruments, people lose a sense of the mystery, of the sacred. What is "sacred" afterall? Does it not mean set apart for holy purpose? If it is meant to be set apart from the world, then shouldn't we regard it as such with how we worship?
And also, from the former head of Moral Law Theological Studies at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, Father Chad Ripperger, F.S.S.P.'s articles on the "latin" Mass:

taken from www.sensustraditionis.org --

The Spirituality of the Ancient Rite of Mass
"A conference given to Keep the Faith on certain aspects of the ancient liturgy. This conference was also published as an article in two parts in The Latin Mass Summer and Fall editions of 2001. It is online under the title of The Spirituality of the Ancient Rite of Mass: Part I and Part II."
Modern Philosophy and the Liturgical Development
"This article addresses the issue of how modern philosophical thought has influenced the the modern liturgical spiritual. It was published in Christian Order in August of 2000."

Operative Points of View
"This article addresses the historical intellectual causes of the psychology of neo-conservatives. It was originally published in Christian Order in March of 2001. A shorter version of this article appeared in the Spring 2001 edition of The Latin Mass Magazine under the title Conservative vs. Traditional Catholicism: Distinctions with Philosophical Differences."

Please see more articles and multimedia on Sensus Traditionis

09 February 2010

Theology of the Body --- NOTHING NEW HERE


Half truths are often more dangerous than a full blown lie.

What you are about to read here might be construed by some as "devisive".   Infact, it is intended to be.  The truth has a way of dividing those who wish to accept it and those who wish to put up walls against it.  This devisivness, however, is not meant to be an end but a biproduct of the means --- that it might cause one to pause and consider who decides what is authentic Catholic spirituality, and how to live a life of love of God as a true Christian.

Not but a few weeks ago, four speakers --- 2 men and 2 women, held a conference on the subject of living a life in purity.  Although I did not attend, I spoke with a friend who did attend after having read an article on the event in a Catholic newspaper.

The article pointed out some good points, albeit, quite basic.  It even pointed out that the war against the culture of life, against the virtue of purity, is also a spiritual warfare (this is something Catholics have said since the time of the Apostles).  One of the speakers said quite aptly, "“It’s not about sacrifice,” he said. “It’s about sanctification.”  Amen!   The speaker also reportedly said that 'the commandments are not the product of a controlling God, but of a loving God.'   Excellent!   This is true.

Both the article and what my friend told me about the conference did not at all surprise me.  The emphasis of the talks were about leading others by living a life of valor.   But what was NOT emphasized or even stated as far as I can tell (and judging from what I already know about the speakers, I can say this is no surprise to me) was what work precisely was required in order that a man lead a "life of valor" in purity.  

Let me back up and make a quick observation from a wider view:   MOST Catholics today (let alone those who call themselves by the name of "Christian" yet who are not in the one, holy, universal church with apostolic authority), are constantly receiving the message to "go out and evangelize" and "go out and lead others" as their 'good work' to others.  This would be good IF this message wasn't the end but a means, and then only a means when one had discerned it was God's call.  Those who wish to lead, after all, God says should learn to be servants.   What makes this message spiritual dangerous, however, is that it makes leading others an end to itself in Catholic spirituality.   This is a false belief.   Yes, faith without works is dead, but works without faith are also dead.   Leading others is supposed to be a biproduct of the end for which we seek, not the end itself. 

But what is the means to holiness, or more specifically in the context of the message of purity, what is the means to purity, or living a life of "valor"?   It means setting out to become a saint.  This starts with the interior life, not with the actions, rather, the actions must be born of the interior life, in order to become not merely cultivated actions lacking consistency, but become habitual acts of virtue.

It is said that what makes a saint is not how many times a person has fallen, but that he got back up quickly ever time he had fallen.   What needs clarification in this statement is that it can not be said that a person who is living a saintly life falls repeatedly into mortal sin, or even fully deliberate venial sins.   Yes, a person must quickly get back into the grace of God by means of the Sacraments as soon as possible, but this repentance is only part of the process.  One must employ the normal means of growing in holiness in order to prevent falling into mortal sin in the first place.   However, this is rarely ever discussed today even by priests.

Before saying what is required of one wishing to prevent vices of lust and vanity (the two means by which men and women, respectively, tend to fall into sins that are opposed to purity), let their be some clarity here as to what authentic Catholic spirituality is not:   Authentic Catholic spirituality is not simply moderation in terms every activity that is within the norm within the culture that glorifies and normalizes vices against purity.   The many, very popular modern theologians would have you believe that even the virtue of religion most be moderated in even the frequency of its observance just as in the same way that one commits to physical exercise.  Moderation, to them, means compartmentalizing religion and the acts, both interior and exterior that are religious in nature), to one, sequestered area of one's life. 

In this sense, yes, it is IMPOSSIBLE to remain out of sin for most people, even with the supernatural efficacy of the Sacraments.   How is that?  The Sacraments of the Church work ex opere operatis, from the disposition of the recipient which comes ex opere operato, the work done.  

Then, how is one's disposition become an obstacle to purity?   Whenever an individual has a disordered attachment to sin -- even a venial sin --- and/or a disordered attachment to even a lawful good, therein lies the obsacle to God's grace in the Sacraments.   In other words, God doesn't position the obstacles, we do.

Now here comes the part that you didn't get from the modernists:

In order to remain in the grace of the Sacraments, three additional things must be practiced:

1.)  Avoid all unnecessary near occasions of sin.

Here's one, quick and very practical suggestion in this area: 
get rid of your television. 

2.)  Practice daily mortifications of the senses that tend to lead you into sin. 

As a general rule, women fall by their ears and men by their eyes.  Women, be careful with what  you hear, men with what you see.  Women must practice modesty of dress and overall decorum and not take part in conversations that have elements of impurity which are so common today.  Men must also do the same in decorum and conversation, but they must also pay special care to practice mortification of the eyes.

Also, very necessary year round, but especially during Lent, mortification of the senses, most particularly of taste, should be practiced daily. 

3.)  Practice daily mental prayer.

Without these three things, one not only will likely fall out of grace, but they will begin to fall deeper and deeper into spiritual dispondency, and believe in and settle for spiritual mediocrity.  They will shoot for Purgatory (either intentionally or unintentionally) and rather than a supernaturalized hope, they will formulate theology that maintains a false hope which presumes upon God in lieu of the interior work He truly expects of them.  This is precisely why it is so dangerous that many false prophets preach only the side of God's mercy and the need for all men and women to become "leaders" . In fact, if one is constantly thinking that to be Christian they must be a leader, and make THAT the priority over establishing and maintaining authentic, catholic spirituality, they put their very salvation at further peril.  When the ego is stroked into Pharisaical mode, "Look at me, I am a light to the world", with the shallow expectations to be a sinner who strives at the very least of what God asks (to keep the commandments), when they almost inevitably fall into mortal sin they take others with them by their scandal.   The interior life is not merely an option for those who wish to live in a monastary.   The interior life is the origin of every good external act.  Even good acts, in of themselves, do not bear holy lasting fruit and do not please God unless they are done out of Sanctifying grace.+

08 February 2010

Authentic Catholic Spirituality Vs. Popular "Fast Food" Mentality


Most of us have today either voicemail or an answering machine for missed messages.   We make a point usually to hear what they are when we come home, and/or are available to listen to them.   A message could be important, whether or not we were expecting an important message, so we check to make sure we listen to them. 

Where would we be without answering machines and voicemail?  

Messages between family, friends and colleagues at some point will be left for us to receive at our convenience.  That is a good thing that messages will wait, unless, of course, we let them wait too long.  Then we say, "we missed the message," whether we did not receive the message for some reason, or we did receive it, but past the time the message was relevant. 

God does not use voicemail or answering machines.   He communicates to us through mental prayer.  Unfortunately, most of us never use this.  Those few that do 'listen to their messages', do so without urgency and without frequency as a daily practice.  They say to themselves something to the effect, "afterall, God is omnipotent, and can use other means of communication."  This is true, but God has an order of all things as Creator, and He has ordained mental prayer as the primary means and also a means that is indespensible for a soul to progress in the spiritual life. 

There is another tendency for people to think of mental prayer in such a way that it is not so much motivated by love of God but of love of self.  Certainly, it is good to be reminded that we are loved so much that God humbles himself to communicate his love to us, but not so that we become attached to the experience of him.  Experiences come and go, and what can prevent one from having one?  However, experiences do not make a thing so, because they are merely creatures and not the Creator himself.  It is for this reason that many people mistake experiences for having divine origin when, infact, they do not.  Humility is necessary to discern within oneself potential disordered attachments to spiritual goods, such as consolations in prayer.

Our motivations to listen to God must be born out of love for Him.  The sign of this love is authentic gratitude.  What makes gratitude "authentic"?   Answer: humility.  What is humility?   Humility is knowing what oneself is in respect to who God is.  A false humlity is a type of spiritual sloth and even pride, because it does not discern properly nor accurately the gift of God Himself in the form of grace given to the person.  We are not, as Luther would have had you believe, "dung hills" with grace merely covering us as a blanket of snow.  Rather, God manifests Himself, since grace is actually an imparting of God Himself, transforms the creature, to the extent the disposition of the will is so conformed.  This, of course, is made manifest in both internal and external acts of one's will. 

True gratitude does not rely on one's doing something because it simply must be done in order to prevent a future misfortunte.   Gratitude is not a slave to a cruel or exacting master.  Fruits of gratitude do not contain fear but rather the absence, and often even the relief of fear or what could cause fear.   A fruit of gratitude is also never one that applauds oneself, because one cannot be grateful to oneself!    This point is seemingly obvious, however, how common it is for one young yet in the spiritual life (where even most devout Christians remain) to mentally 'pat himself on the back' for doing the mere, minimum daily practices required to guard and grow in grace.   While it is good to think of the saints, for example, and to contemplate their devotions, what is applicable in significance firstly to us is often not so much the devotions themselves, but their interior motivation towards those devotions.

True gratitude, therefore, is an awareness of the Creator as Creator.  We might start off by first contemplating that the very fact that we are breathing and the fact that life is within us is due to His having created us.  Then there is the fact that creation is God's demonstrates His love.  And even then, greater than our very existence, God, Creator is Love --- and more than the Source of all good, He is Goodness itself.

Are we missing messages each day?   Some days?   Contemplate the fact that you have spent and wasted much time having missed many messages from Him, yet that He loves you so much that He is pleased to forgive you should you begin to show your love, rather, that you should begin to acknowledge his love for you.

But what if we are at a point yet where we do not hear the voice of God?  If we are humble, this should not  become a cause for distress.   Even if we hear His voice as in a locution, it does not necessarily mean that we are united to God, although such a gift is part of His uniting to us, it is not necessarily a sign of union as a state.  It can be rather a consolation to 'egg' us onward.  This is why we must avoid all feelings of extreme zeal or dispondency --- because both distort one's view of God and distance our ability to hear Him.  This fosters bad fruits and greater inconsistencies and furtherance of dichotomies in the spiritual life, as well as disordered attachments to spiritual goods.  This last point is the reason why the charismatic and modernists movements are extremely dangerous to authentic, Catholic spirituality --- they are particularly opposed to humility and quickly instills and carves into the soul vices of pride/false humility and distraction.  By this means the devil finds immediate employment and will often promote natural and preternatural causes for it to remain in and/or tend either extreme.  Thus, the soul becomes more entrapped without even being aware of the fact that he is entrapped, much less become aware of these causes.  This is the reason many Christians are distracted by fighting the wrong spiritual battles, and persist by giving up on the daily practice of mental prayer.

More often than not, what is described as the experience of spiritual "dryness" is caused by level of mediocrity in the spiritual life.  This is merely God's way of purging the soul from the dangers of false zeal, which opens up a flood gate of interior problems, as just mentioned.  It also becomes the means of developing the virtues necessary to honor and and fulfill the higher degree of virtues.   This is the reason why it is so easy to discern a false mystic who although he or she claims to speak frequently with God, there is no apparent progress in the higher virtues (most notably with the virtues of poverty, chastity and obedience, more clearly demonstrating in one's state the eschatological realities).  This is not to say we should make it our business to judge our neighbor's state to the peril of our own, but that we should judge our ourselves in humility.

Let us, therefore, resolve to not take a "fast food" approach to the spiritual life and ask the Holy Spirit to help us grow in supernatural love and gratitude.

Edit:  I want to clarify something: Gratitude of God takes away disordered fear, while holy fear may still remain. Only in the context of disordered attachments and/or the loss of created goods does gratitude of God extinguish (disordered) fear.