20 March 2012

Mercy Over Justice


In this short life, it is better to pursue mercy than justice, as much as possible.  

St. Francis loved this virtue of mercy so much, in gratitude for the mercy Christ had shown by his own passion and death on the Cross, Francis even showed mercy to a wild beast.

This story, taken from a book on St. Francis, relates one such situation:

"It is marvelous to relate that as soon as St. Francis made the Sign of the Cross, the wolf of Gubbio closed its terrible jaws and stopped running, and as soon as he gave that order, it lowered its head and lay down at the Saint's feet, as though it had become a lamb.

And St. Francis said to it as it lay in front of him: "Brother Wolf, you have done great harm in this region, and you have committed horrible crimes by destroying God's creatures without any mercy. You have been destroying not only irrational animals, but you even have the more detestable brazenness to kill and devour human beings made in the image of God. You therefore deserve to be put to death just like the worst robber and murderer. Consequently, everyone is right in crying out against you and complaining, and this whole town is your enemy. But, Brother Wolf, I want to make peace between you and them, so that they will not be harmed by you anymore, and after they have forgiven you all your past crimes, neither men nor dogs will pursue you any more."

The wolf showed by moving its body and tail and ears and nodding its head that it willingly accepted what the Saint had said and would observe it.

So St. Francis spoke again: "Brother, Wolf, since you are willing to make and keep this peace pact, I promise you that I will have the people of this town give you food every day as long as you live, so that you will never again suffer hunger, for I know that whatever evil you have been doing was done because of the urge of hunger. But, my Brother Wolf, since I am obtaining such a favor for you, I want you to promise me that you will never hurt any animal or man. Will you promise me that?"

The wolf gave a clear sign, by nodding his head, that it promised to do as the Saint asked. "

Saint Francis of Assisi
Little Flowers of St. Francis - 21
Attributed to Fra. Ugolino da Santa Maria, 150 years after the death of St. Francis

19 March 2012

The Look of a Sinner


There are some Catholics who will tell you that in some, or many cases even, one can tell that one is a (grave) sinner because of certain visible characteristics.  These characteristics are not even manifest sins themselves, but rather, certain traits that usually prove to be either due to or a sign of the person's gravel sinful life.

Judging what is a manifestly grave sin is always a grave sin, and one cannot have the light of  Truth if they do not obey the Commandments, as God the Son explained, "He who says he loves me yet fails to keep the commandments is a liar and the TRUTH is not in him."  But to judge the state of a soul who is not in manifest (either by their own words or actions) grave sin is, a grave sin in itself.

Please understand, that what you are about to read, should you go any further, is not intended as evangelism, for as this blogger is a woman, and has not that calling.  Nor do I claim to be a teacher, but I do consider myself a spiritual mother and by that state I feel compelled to write to those spiritual children that always benefit, as I know myself, from spiritual exhortation.

God hears everyone's heart, and when one starts to judge the interior life of another, not knowing, as only God Himself knows, what graces have been given to the person and what have been held back, and the purpose God has for having chosen to give and hold back.  If we are to call ourselves Christians, however, we can only be assured of having known God's mercy by bringing us to the Church and the Sacraments given to her by Christ.

If you want to know who appeared to be the biggest sinner, having taken on the appearance of even directly offending God and taking the punishment for his crimes, look to Christ on the Cross.

If you want to know what sinner would put an innocent man to die on a cross, look in the mirror.  Remember God's mercy.   Now, ask yourself, "Was all this for then you to judge the grace of your neighbor?"   Christ took on the appearance of a tremendous criminal to be given the ultimate punishment, yet he was Innocence itself.

WHENEVER one judges the interior life of another, they judge also Christ.  Since one does not know the crosses, much less the graces God has given to a soul or the grace God has chosen to withhold, or the reasons of either mystery, it is impossible for us to know such a thing, and God warns us not to judge in such a way, for the penalty of this is that same way that we judge will be judged of us.  What does that mean?   It certainly does not mean that which is evil becomes good --- as that which is sinful is objectively sinful, but this isn't about judging what is objectively sinful, but judging that which is unknowable and unseen.   The rash judgment of a person's soul, interior life or destiny is judgement of Christ because Christ is who died for the sinner.  Not only did Christ die for the sinner that he who is repentant might be saved, Christ did so by taking upon himself every sin and even the appearance and pain --- both direct and indirect --- of every sin committed by man.  This is why we judge Christ when we judge our neighbor, because he took on sin to himself.

Still, it is good to concern ourselves with the spiritual welfare of our neighbor* (*remember who our Lord said was our neighbor) as we should concern ourselves with our own soul.  In holy prudence and charity, do what you can to save souls --- especially with prayer and penance --- that you might save, in this way, your own soul.

He Took Upon Himself the Appearance of a Sinner

(...and please pray for me.)

"For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names: That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth:
And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation. For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will. And do ye all things without murmurings and hesitations; That you may be blameless, and sincere children of God, without reproof, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; among whom you shine as lights in the world."    Philippians 2:5-15

Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God the Father, have mercy on us.+

St. Joseph: The Spirit of Poverty

God should be EVERYTHING to you, and you should be NOTHING to yourself.

If any task of yours, whether it be the conquering of a vice, a penance or due mortification, or any duty according to your state, whatever it might be, seems abhorrent to you or cause you to recoil even in the slightest by its undertaking and even for a moment, promptly remember that as it is your duty, it is given to you by God.  The task that is most abhorrent to you, is the greatest medicine for your sickened soul and weak will, because every duty of yours suits you according to God's Providence (God's Will).  And to say that it 'suits you', is only in the context that it is, in fact, a tremendous mercy, and in that remembrance, one should seek to promptly and more assiduously apply himself to those tasks that are, by that portion of his will that is yet ordered to God, that are, to him, least desirable.  This is the proof of one's professed love for God, and will do more to bring him to unite his will to God's than any other activity, regardless of how it is perceived by man, since such reluctance to do one's duty is a sign of that distance one holds himself away from God.  

Remember St. Joseph's spirit of poverty; his humility is what allowed him to carry out his tasks as the foster-father of Jesus.  One who carefully observes even that little that we know of this great saint, will notice that his wisdom was NOT at all of the way of the world, but rather, he had within him the very humility and meekness of God, given to him by his meekness and promptness to do whatever God willed and as He willed.  St. Joseph trusted not himself, but God, even when God was silent to him.    St. Joseph sought only God, as he saw him to be not only the source of all God, but God, to St. Joseph, was his every good, his all.

As God was St. Joseph's all, St. Joseph was able to have a spirit of detachment for all created goods.  As the great saint and Doctor of the Church described of herself, St. Teresa of Avila said it was important only "to use (created things) as if I use them not."    Detachment of created goods offers one the ability to see themselves clearly and consistently in the eyes of God, as their end is in view (the "Four Last Things"), and therefore, created goods are used to the end of God's Will.  It is only by uniting one's will to God that one's  efforts to a given task gathers merit and the fruit of God's blessing.