19 April 2011

Occasions of Sin --- Not a New or Out-of-Date Concept

Occasions of Sin

Occasions of Sin are external circumstances--whether of things or persons--which either because of their special nature or because of the frailty common to humanity or peculiar to some individual, incite or entice one to sin.

It is important to remember that there is a wide difference between the cause and the occasion of sin. The cause of sin in the last analysis is the perverse human will and is intrinsic to the human composite. The occasion is something extrinsic and, given the freedom of the will, cannot, properly speaking, stand in causal relation to the act or vicious habit which we call sin. There can be no doubt that in general the same obligation which binds us to refrain from sin requires us to shun its occasion. Qui tenetur ad finem, tenetur ad media (he who is bound to reach a certain end is bound to employ the means to attain it).

Theologians distinguish between the proximate and the remote occasion. They are not altogether at one as to the precise value to be attributed to the terms. De Lugo defines proximate occasion (De poenit. disp. 14, n. 149) as one in which men of like calibre for the most part fall into mortal sin, or one in which experience points to the same result from the special weakness of a particular person. The remote occasion lacks these elements. All theologians are agreed that there is no obligation to avoid the remote occasions of sin both because this would, practically speaking, be impossible and because they do not involve serious danger of sin.

As to the proximate occasion, it may be of the sort that is described as necessary, that is, such as a person cannot abandon or get rid of. Whether this impossibility be physical or moral does not matter for the determination of the principles hereinafter to be laid down. Or it may be voluntary, that is within the competency of one to remove. Moralists distinguish between a proximate occasion which is continuous and one which, whilst it is unquestionably proximate, yet confronts a person only at intervals. It is certain that one who is in the presence of a proximate occasion at once voluntary and continuous is bound to remove it. A refusal on the part of a penitent to do so would make it imperative for the confessor to deny absolution. It is not always necessary for the confessor to await the actual performance of this duty before giving absolution; he may be content with a sincere promise, which is the minimum to be required. Theologians agree that one is not obliged to shun the proximate but necessary occasions. Nemo tenetur ad impossibile (no one is bound to do what is impossible). There is no question here of freely casting oneself into the danger of sin. The assumption is that stress of unavoidable circumstances has imposed this unhappy situation. All that can then be required is the employment of such means as will make the peril of sin remote. The difficulty is to determine when a proximate occasion is to be regarded as not physically (that is plain enough) but morally necessary. Much has been written by theologians in the attempt to find a rule for the measurement of this moral necessity and a formula for its expression, but not successfully. It seems to be quite clear that a proximate occasion may be deemed necessary when it cannot be given up without grave scandal or loss of good name or without notable temporal or spiritual damage.

About this page

APA citation. Delany, J. (1911). Occasions of Sin. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved April 19, 2011 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11196a.htm

MLA citation. Delany, Joseph. "Occasions of Sin." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 19 Apr. 2011 .

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Tomas Hancil.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

Here is a link on the subject:
Occasions of Sin and Company Keeping

16 April 2011

Holy Week Pamphet

Click the first button to the left to view in "fullscreen".  Also, you can zoom in and out using the "+" and "-".  Change pages by using the arrow keys and/or scroll bar to the right.Holy Week Pamphlet                                                                                           

08 April 2011

April 12 - St. Teresa of the Andes

St. Teresa of the Andes, pray for us!

Saint Teresa of the AndesTeresa de Jesús "de los Andes," (July 13, 1900 – April 12, 1920) was a Chilean nun canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.
She was born Juana Fernández del Solar in Santiago, Chile: her nickname was "Juanita". She was the daughter of an upper class family. Early in her life she read an autobiography of the French Saint Thérèse de Lisieux; the experience had a profound effect on Juanita's already pious character, coming to the realization she wanted to serve God.
Juanita was inspired after having read about St. Therese of Lisiuex, the French saint who died young, and who is also known as St. Therese of the Child Jesus, or "The Little Flower".  Juanita wanted so much to love and serve and please God, that she wished for no one else to take hold of her heart ever in her life but Jesus.  Before her first Holy Communion, she strived to perfectly love Jesus and his Holy Will because she wanted to be worthy to receive him.  Juanita was given the mystical gift by God of locutions* (*one must never ask for such a gift, as the saints warn, because when we are not humble and ask for such a gift, as God can give us graces without such charisms and mystical experiences, we will be opening ourselves up to be deceived by an evil spirit. Even the saints say it is easy to be tricked even for the most pious soul).  Locutions are when Jesus speaks to a soul by sets of ideas, thoughts or visions from God.  These she started receiving after having received her first Holy Communion.  She soon realized that she wanted to become a religious after being so inspired to live for and love only Jesus.  Also, very early on, she understood that she would die young.
In 1919, at age 19, Juanita became a Discalced Carmelite novice and took the name Teresa. Toward the end of her short life, Teresa began an apostolate of letter-writing, sharing her thoughts on the spiritual life with many people. Still aged 19 she contracted typhus and made her religious profession. She died April 12, 1920 during Holy Week. She was three months short of her 20th birthday, and had yet 6 months to complete her canonical novitiate and to be legally able to make her religious vows, nevertheless she was allowed to profess the vows 'in articulo mortis'. She died as a Discalced Carmelite nun.
Teresa remains popular with the estimated 100,000 pilgrims who visit each year the shrine where her remains are venerated in the Sanctuary of Auco-Rinconada in the township of Los Andes; 60 miles from Santiago. She is Chile's first saint, and is specially popular among females and younger people.
During the early 90's, the popular telenovela actress Paulina Urrutia (Culture Minister in Chile since 2006), played Teresa in a television miniseries for the TVN Chile network. This became one of her most popular roles, to the point that people asked her in the streets to bless them.
Teresa was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Santiago de Chile on April 3, 1987. Luis, one of her siblings, was present at her beatification. He was the last direct relative of hers still alive in those years.
She is the first Discalced Carmelite Nun to become a Saint outside the boundaries of Europe and the fifth "Saint Teresa", together with Saints Teresa of AvilaFlorenceBenedicta of the Cross and Therese of Lisieux.

Some of the above comments were taken from Wikipedia.


I would also like to add that there is a wonderful letter on this blog here:
The Carmelite Blogger

This is by a young girl who I saw on YouTube about a year or so ago, and felt she had a Carmelite vocation.  I wrote to her and she immediately wrote back.  We wrote for a little bit because I was easily convinced that she had a charism for this order and would be happy in a traditional Carmelite convent that prayed the Latin Carmelite liturgy.  Good news!  She's finding her way to Carmel!   I just hope she remembers me in her prayers!  Something tells me that she will remember all her "YouTube friends".  :-)  

Please pray that she will always seek to do the Holy Will of God, and that in this she becomes a saint.

03 April 2011

O Sacred Head Surrounded

I can't imagine that it is too early to hear this, although in this point of the liturgical year, Christ is yet to even teach the significance of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.

Since, however, we know the significance, let us meditate on his sacrifice, to become "Bread from Heaven" to us, even at every Mass,
and thus prepare our hearts to better try to know, love and serve him
in all that we do.
May our hearts cry tears of true sorrow for our sins, like that of the poor sinner turned saint, St. Mary Magdalene, and in true supplications, have the disposition to kneel at his feet when we next see him
at his holy Sacrifice.

O sacred head, surrounded
by crown of piercing thorn!
O bleeding head, so wounded,
reviled and put to scorn!
Our sins have marred the glory
of thy most holy face,
yet angel hosts adore thee
and tremble as they gaze

I see thy strength and vigor
all fading in the strife,
and death with cruel rigor,
bereaving thee of life;
O agony and dying!
O love to sinners free!
Jesus, all grace supplying,
O turn thy face on me.

In this thy bitter passion,
Good Shepherd, think of me
with thy most sweet compassion,
unworthy though I be:
beneath thy cross abiding
for ever would I rest,
in thy dear love confiding,
and with thy presence blest.

Words: Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877), 1861;
after Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153);
and Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676)

Thoughts on The 4th Sunday of Lent


There is an old, and always valid axiom in the Catholic church that says, "the law of how you pray (as) the law of your faith (as) the law of how you live", and in Latin, "Lex Orandi.  Lex Credendi.  Lex Vivendi."   In other words, how you live, the things you accept and do not accept, show what you truly believe, and then this shows how you truly pray.  Prayer, of course, includes liturgical worship.

There is a school of thought that although is considerably popular among Catholics but is seriously flawed.  That thought is a modernistic manner of worship in general.  People attend the Mass in shorts, and even with the opportunity to change before attending, people will dress for comfort first with no thought to modesty, much less solemnity.  Quite often, their Mass celebration is focused in the error of immanentism, as if the highest good was our charity to our neighbor and not God Himself.  This article is not to demean the people who do this, but to help those who will read this examine the philosophies behind this type of casual attitude towards the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and its consequences on souls.

Schnorr Von Carolsfeld
In today's Gospel, we see Jesus's multiplication of the loaves and fishes, and commands that the fragments be gathered, lest they be lost.    This miracle* (*and yes, it most certainly was a miracle, and not merely an exaggeration, or a lessen in human prudence  --- as some in grave error like to suggest) impresses the people so much, since they were given something their bodies most needed.  Jesus, knowing that they would want to make him king so that they would always be fed, literally, ran off into a mountain, alone, to pray.

Jesus fed the people because they were hungry but not merely as an end to itself, but as a miracle to point to the Heavenly Food.  He did not wish to be made king of these people who wished first and foremost for their bellies to be satisfied.  They weren't ready for the lesson, that he came to feed their souls --- with his own flesh, requiring that he would be sacrificed for their sins.

Too often we think of our own experience of worship, and think that the greater the experience, the better the worship.  Whenever we do this, and to the degree that we do this, we are like the followers of Christ who were satisfied only with a meal. 

But Christ will later say to those followers, "[26] Jesus answered them, and said: Amen, amen I say to you, you seek me, not because you have seen miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves, and were filled. [27] Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto life everlasting, which the Son of man will give you. For him hath God, the Father, sealed. [28] They said therefore unto him: What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? [29] Jesus answered, and said to them: This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he hath sent. [30] They said therefore to him: What sign therefore dost thou shew, that we may see, and may believe thee? What dost thou work?
[31] Our fathers did eat manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat. [32]Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you; Moses gave you not bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. [33] For the bread of God is that which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world. [34] They said therefore unto him: Lord, give us always this bread.[35] And Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger: and he that believeth in me shall never thirst.
[36] But I said unto you, that you also have seen me, and you believe not. [37] All that the Father giveth to me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me, I will not cast out. [38] Because I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me.
 The Jews, as you recall, then MURMURED, that is to say, they gossiped about Jesus and made all sorts of presumptions, assumptions, rash judgments and the like.  All they saw was this MAN who seemed to be fulfilling the prophecies for their Messiah, and this greatly upset them.  Why did it upset them?  This upset them because many of the Jews had hoped for a Messiah that would make the land THEIRS in THIS LIFE, and not that they would have to first DIE to have their holy inheritance.  Instead, many of them had become greedy and developed great attachments to their wealth, and authority, and in all of this they started to become proud, with an attitude that God would come and gave them all their hearts desires.  They were wrapped so much in the material world, that they wished for these things not to glorify God, but in God's name, glorify themselves and fill only their desires even in the name of worship.

[51] I am the living bread which came down from heaven. [52] If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world. [53] The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? [54] Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.

But getting back to the Gospel today, we see at the end of the passage John 6:1:15 ends:

[14] Now those men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said: This is of a truth the prophet, that is to come into the world. [15] Jesus therefore, when he knew that they would come to take him by force, and make him king, fled again into the mountain himself alone.

We as Catholics are reminded that Jesus is a DIVINE PERSON, God the Son, 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity (1 God = 3 Persons), and Jesus has two natures:  one fully divine, the other one --- fully human.  These two natures of Jesus Christ are what we call hypostatically united, meaning, every action done by Jesus is done with both of his natures fully present and united at the same time, and at all times.

So why did he flee into the mountain?  Why did he have to run?   As a man, he had a reason to flee from these people who wanted to force him to be king.   Jesus, knowing their minds, knew he had to get away from them to pray, because they were wanting a king to give them the goods of this earth and he knew that they wanted to take him by force.  He didn't create a miracle of vanishing into the crowd, but rather, he ran to show them and to show us some things about what's important to him.   He fled to a mountain to be alone.

Standing on a mountain gives a person a vantage point of the things below, but this is also an allegory for the spiritual view.  God wants us to see what should be important to us.  Jesus, himself, goes to pray.    He doesn't look to give the people what they want in the temporal sense, except when it points them to the higher gifts of the supernatural life of grace, that we may be united to him eventually in heaven.  He runs from those that are seeking only happiness in this life, and even those that wish to make him king, but only in the sense that their earthly senses are fulfilled.  And still, food for the body is not an extravagance, but even the necessities are given by Christ to point to the greater hunger, which is that of the soul to be united to God.

Christ's answer to those who wish to make him king, but only a mere earthly king in the sense of fulfilling their temporal desires is to flee to a mountain and pray.

This is one of the reasons that the tabernacle has, for most of the Church's history, been on an elevated altar, where even the priest must walk up stairs to reach our Lord (another allegory).  

Too often, today, however, Christ, at least in modern tabernacles, is on the level of people sitting down.  When they stand, they often peer over Christ in the Holy Eucharist, or near the level of even when the Sacred Eucharist is elevated.  They will hold or shake hands even after the consecration --- when our Lord is brought down from heaven.  There is so much focus on the "experience" of community, that people regard the Mass as little more than entertainment that gives them spiritual benefits.  The concept of worship has been lost, by far, in many communities and parishes.

God the Son took on human flesh; He took on the human condition.  How can one be casual when approaching his Sacrifice?

This casualness, when it is really considered, is not only lacking solemnity, that is to say, it is lacking due consideration and measure of decorum (dress, demeanor and interior disposition) but it is also inhumane even on a temporal level.  Did not Christ ask his Father that this cup, the price that you might be saved, might be passed from him?   Yes, it is true, that God looks to our hearts, and while we may enter the church for Mass as quiet as a "church mouse", with pious decorum, our hearts may carry with them 1000 distractions and temptations, and attachments.  Jesus 'hears' all of these clashing cymbals of hearts lacking preparation for his Holy Sacrifice.  

Everything we think willfully, do or say will either bring us closer to Jesus and more disposed to worship and receive him in Holy Communion, or it will bring us further away.  We are either moving with the grace of God or against it.  The prayer of quiet, when we go flee to our 'mountain' and pray alone to God, we gain the graces needed to cooperate with God's grace in our thoughts, words and actions, and thereby prepare us to receive our Heavenly Food, the "Bread of (Supernatural) Life."* (*Note:  also frequent Confession helps us gain these graces needed to combat venial sins -- whether fully deliberate or semi-deliberate --- and even our faults, so do not wait until you commit mortal sin!!!)

We cannot afford to be casual when presenting ourselves to God.  Think of how Jesus spoke to Simon who, after preparing a meal for Jesus, expected special consideration and attention of Jesus, while the pious St. Mary Magdalene had the disposition to wash Jesus's feet with her tears and anoint them with costly oil.  She gave Christ the greatest expense she could afford, both materially and spiritually, and this disposition pleased him, and he rewarded her with the grace of his mercy!

Lenten Mission (part 1): The Importance of Praying Well

1 of 3 talks for Audio Sancto's 2011 Lenten Mission: 
St. Gemma Galgani in ecstasy.

Lenten Mission (part 2): Examining Sin, Its Consequences, and Remedy

Part 2 of 3 mission talks for 2011:

Lenten Mission (part 2): Examining Sin, Its Consequences, and Remedy

Lenten Mission (part 3): The Importance of Preparing for Death

Lenten Mission (part 3): The Importance of Preparing for Death

This is the 3rd mission talk of 3 that were posted this year on Audio Sancto.