(Recommended meditation: Sexagesima's Gospel Reading: Luke 8:4-15)
In the previous post, we left looked at the fact that we are often unwilling to look at things from a moral perspective. Even when we do look at it from a moral perspective, it is usually from a self-directed perspective rather than transcendent, looking at our rights over God's rights. For example, mercy then become redefined as if they are at odds with justice (that old, dialectic heresy of the Modernists). Some, who as if they are "traditional", but in fact, unknowingly infected with Modernism by being scandalized and not knowing the faith, will think that mercy must be earned. Now, he's no theologian, but Shakespeare happened to hit the nail on the head with his description of mercy:
Why is it charity, to which mercy belongs, is misunderstood and/or repressed? First of all, what is charity? Let's take a look at the Baltimore Catechism:
Q. 467. What is Charity?
A. Charity is a Divine virtue by which we love God above all things for His own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.
What causes one to lose the theological gift of Charity? We lose charity when we do not abide in it. The reason we don't abide in it is because we lose the theological gift of supernatural Hope. The reason we lose Hope, is because we have lost and/or weakened Faith.
(Note: while the greatest virtue is charity, it is supported by Faith and Hope, in that order, as defined by God, and revealed dogmatically by His Holy Bride.)
The chief means to lose of Faith is the vice of sloth. When we think of the word, "sloth", we often limit it to meaning only a type of sluggishness in behavior, but it as actually, in the theological sense, a lot more defined significance. Despite it being known as one of the 7 Deadly Sins, sloth is probably the single least understood and underestimated vice, and for these reasons, the most damaging because it is very insidious in today's world, and especially in the new order/modernist theology. St. Thomas Aquinas, a Doctor of the Church, described it as the "sorrow for spiritual good," at its genus. It is more defined as the act or inaction based on that sorrow, with the sorrow being at the genus of the vice. It is not, therefore, a feeling, but an attitude resulting in the resistance towards or repression of certain spiritual goods. Often people look at sloth mere as inactivity, but in reality, people today busy themselves in vain activities that they make out to be necessary and in the way of the time availability to do the spiritual requirements of their Christian faith. This might be anything from holding one's tongue from an unkind word of look, or neglecting daily mental prayer and/or spiritual reading and anything and everything in between. It is not merely, therefore, a sluggishness, but often a deliberation. Things like, "Not now", or "I'll eventually work on building that virtue/praying silently/daily spiritual reading of the saints" or, "Let's not exaggerate things." We even have prelates in high places calling the self-observance of whether or not we are ordering our moments to God as "fundamentalism" and a bunch of other misappropriated insults often used to distract from some weakness in their theology and/or practice. Another big excuse is that one is "too busy at the moment", and they go from moment to moment, without any self-discipline, ordering all their life to giving God what believe is enough to get them to Heaven, the same God who commands us to "be perfect."
He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in that which is greater: and he that is unjust in that which is little, is unjust also in that which is greater." -- Luke 16:10
There is an old saying, "Lex Orandi. Lex Credendi." The rest of that saying is, "Lex Vivendi." This saying, however, can be rearranged, indicating that our interior worship may be shallow and weak, if how we live the faith is inconstant, and inconsistent. (This saying translates to: The law by which we worship, determines the law by how we believe, which determines the law by which we live. However, it is important to acknowledge that BOTH external AND internal worship are necessary, and one does not preclude the other.)
The vice of sloth wants everything to be easy; it always procrastinates against doing the difficult things of higher priority. Eventually, it weakens the faith to where the vice becomes so strong in an individual, that they perceive the justice or charity in ordering certain things to God as God commands. Truth and the practice of virtue seem to be at odds with reality to these people, and then they will call this the "old way" that is no longer relevant to the complexity of the reality. (I like to call this, "50 Shades of Theology." It's very philosophical orientation is immanent and not transcendent, as it pretends that their is a dichotomy between mercy and justice, as it is lacking grounding in the Faith. Such prelates attempt to devalue all the Church Father and Doctors in this way, as well as the rights of God and his ability to grant supernatural grace.)
The Reverend Canon Talarico, provincial superior of the Institute of Christ the King, listed the following means of overcoming the vice of sloth:
1.) Build up love of God.
This is accomplished by greater knowledge of God. Read the writings of the saints, in particular the Doctors. Read the Dogmatic counsel documents (I personally recommend, "Sources of Catholic Dogma," by Denzinger, which is out of print, but you might find online).
2.) Spiritual Reading
By this, Canon means GOOD spiritual reading. (I recommend, again, the Church Doctor's provide great meditations, as well as Dom Gueranger.)
3.) Praying the Stations of the Cross
If you can't pray all of them everyday, but pray and meditate on at least one station every day.
4.) Meditation on the 4 Last Things (a.k.a. The eschatological realities): Death, Heaven, Hell, Judgement.
5.) Being cheerful givers in their manner of interacting with others.
Canon also further explains that Catholics must not withdraw from other people via spiritual sloth. They should be joyful in sincere overflowing gratitude for the graces of God in His mercy to them that He forgives them their sins, and even gives them the graces of conversion (hopefully, continued conversion, again, depending upon their charity, and cancelling the vice of sloth in their lives through consistent and constant charity from moment to moment). This joy is also a Fruit of the Holy Ghost.
6.) Say a prayer to Mother Immaculate. Canon recommends a morning Memorarae, and/or an Angelus, and/or 1 decade of the Rosary, to petition Our Lady specifically to grow that day against the vice of sloth. (I might add: singing the Marian Antiphon for that liturgical time, preferably the solemn chant in Latin version.)
If you're still looking for another aide, I recommend this simple trick:
7.) Get a notebook and a pen. In the evening before or the morning of, write down what you need to get done that day as a schedule. SCHEDULE what you need to for the steps advised above, 1-4 (#5 is a regular moment-to-moment practice, and #6 is a given to be done with Morning Prayers). Then, simply, stick to the schedule.
The stronger we are in charity, the more we will strengthen our hope and faith. We will then have the courage by the Faith, and true Charity, to speak with courage and share in the Hope we have in Christ with others.
"PERFECT Thou my going in Thy paths that my footseps be not moved: incline Thine ear, and hear my words: show forth Thy wonderful mercies, Thou Who savest them that trust in Thee, O Lord." Ps. 16:5,6,7. Offertory prayer for Sexagesima Sunday.