Saint Thomas Aquinas

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Healing Our Memories

Our memories are a gift from God. It is through the memory that we can examine, recollect and deliberate on our experiences. This makes us unique in that we are given intellects to do many things that other animals cannot. Memories however can at times haunt us and past bad experiences can lead us to despair or even bring us into temptation. This can happen on its own as we dig through our past or it can be something brought upon us by the demonic. Sometimes our past experiences can cause us enormous spiritual strife.



Whenever we commit a sin our memories are affected in a negative manner. This especially becomes problematic when we commit habitual sin. Our memories are filled with our past actions which can at times put us into an occasion for sin. This can happen most easily with sins of the flesh such as eating decadent foods all the time or committing sins of impurity habitually. For example people who view pornography over and over again can become prisoners to their own memories. The devil can bring up the images over and over again enticing the individual to commit the sin again. Our memories can also be damaged by sins committed against us. We can have anger issues for example for unjust things people have done to us in the past. We dwell on them and wish we could have revenge when we may have been vulnerable in the past.

Often the affects of our disordered memories come in the form of despair, or sins against the virtue of Hope.  We project onto the future our disordered past, and it inclines us to fall into a state of hopelessness. Our sins become alive in the future even before we have committed them. Our imaginations often take over the reality that God loves us and wants us to overcome the sin our lives. This is the tactic the demons love to use against those who are trying to overcome sin in their lives. He tries to bring up the past and get you to project it onto the future so you can lose hope and commit the sin again. If anger is your issue the devil will stir up something in your memory so you can project a past injustice onto a current situation. This will often get you to justify some outburst of anger that is not really justified. This can happen with the sexual appetite as well. The devil will bring up how many times you have committed the sin in the past and convinces you that one more time won't make any difference. Then when you commit the sin again it attaches even deeper into your intellect. For those who have issues of attachment to material things, he will use your thoughts against you and get you to dwell on goods that catch your fancy such as expensive cars, big houses, decadent clothes and the list goes on.



The memory and our imaginations can be used against us if we are not careful. We have all fallen prey to this in one form or another. What can we do to combat these sins that are enticed by our disordered memories? Mother Angelica in her book called, 'Three Keys to the Kingdom' tells us that we must cultivate the virtue of Hope. Instead of letting our minds go into a fog of fantasy in which we then project onto the future, we focus on the kingdom of God. It is much easier to accept our immediate suffering and put up a struggle against our sinful inclinations when we reflect on God, focusing on His sacrifice and the kingdom that awaits us if we are faithful to Him. Mother wrote, "Hope keeps our memory and imagination from harboring resentments and gives us the assurance that no matter how dark things seem to be, our little boat is being guided by the hand of a loving and omnipotent Father. It gives us a light heart in regard to disturbing occurrences and helps us to see God behind everything that happens."

In her book Mother uses examples of Saint Peter and Judas to show us which two choices we have before us. Judas let his past sins and damaged memory drive him into despair. It became fuel for his pride and he eventually destroyed himself by suicide. We see many people follow a similar course when they become addicted to drugs, alcohol, pornography or engrossed in their material wealth They slowly kill themselves, if not physically then always spiritually. Saint Peter on other hand let those memories humble him. He did not dwell on those memories and let them drive him into committing the sins again. He fortified himself with the virtue of Hope through Jesus Christ. So Mother says, "We must use all our past regrets as opportunities for greater things, because they have taught us to depend on God and not ourselves."



How do we nourish the virtue of Hope in our lives?

1. We must make a serious effort to guard our intellects. Garbage in means garbage out in the actualization of sin. We must not watch movies or television shows that will cause us to reflect on things that tempt us. The people we surround ourselves with should not build up our inclination to sin, but help us to live holy lives. Guarding our intellects takes serious and persistent effort.

2. Nourishing our intellect with holy images and reading can begin to heal our memories and imaginations. Reading Sacred Scripture or a good Catholic book can have a great affect over a period of time. Using holy images in our homes to keep our eyes on and intellect focused on God and the Saints help to keep us from projecting our bad thoughts onto the future. Instead the images invoke Hope in us. 

3. Prayer and meditation goes along with reflecting on holy images and good books. I have written many posts on the importance of prayer so I will not repeat myself here. There is no better saying to remember than, " Those who pray little have little chance of getting to heaven. Those who pray much have a great chance of getting to heaven, and those who do not pray have no chance. Be sure to make a daily prayer schedule and stick to it. Include the Rosary every day. "I think we forget that the Rosary is powerful." (Mother Angelica) This is not an option as in fact one of the most essential ingredients to making this all work.

4. Christ has given us immense graces through the Sacraments. We must receive Baptism and Confirmation. Most of us already practicing the faith have already received them. Through these Sacraments comes a healing grace and a fortifying of our souls against sin. These Sacraments must also be nurtured by the Sacrament of Holy Communion and Confession. When we commit a sin, we must immediately make an act of contrition and schedule a time as soon as possible to receive the Sacrament of confession. The Sacrament of confession reconciles ourselves to the Body of Christ and forgives our sins. This gives us a divine affiliation once again with God the Father. Once we are in a state of grace, we then can receive the Holy Eucharist when we attend the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Our Lord gives us spiritual healing and nourishment through His most precious Body and Blood. It is good to go to daily Mass if possible.

5. Finally, Our beautiful Queen of Heaven, and the Saints are always ready to assist us in our battle. Devotion to Our Lady is something every faithful Catholic will hold as a treasure. She is at the center of all things and points us to her Son Jesus Christ. She along with the Saints bring Christ and help us along on the field of battle. I don't know where I would be without The Blessed Mother in my life. No matter where I may find myself on any given day, I always begin by asking her for the grace to love her Son more. I also ask for the help of the Saints, especially that of my dearest friend St Dominic.



In summary, our thoughts determine our future actions and will determine our lives. If we let our memories and imaginations run amok in past sin, causing us to abandon Hope we will find ourselves void of divine life and will be damned. If we choose to begin again, guarding our minds, nourishing ourselves with holy images, reading and receiving the grace of the Sacraments, we will find life through divine affiliation. Our minds will begin to heal and the virtue of Hope will grow within us inoculating us against committing sins in the future. This all requires patience and persistence. It is important to remember that all of this takes time. There are no instant cures. Many of us have fast food mentalities and we think there is always a quick cure for everything. Mother Angelica said it best, "Holiness is not for wimps and the cross is not negotiable, sweetheart, its a requirement."



Saturday, October 15, 2016

From Vicious Men Come Forth the Foul Winds of Abomination

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The world today seems to teeter on the edge disaster for millions of people. Those who live a virtuous life are few, and many today do not believe in the existence of virtue. Objectivity has been replaced with subjectivity and thus we see the intellect of man being corrupted on a wide scale. When entire cultures deny the existence of good and evil, virtue and vice, it leaves a vacuum of darkness in the heart of man. The absence of good leaves a haven for evil. Hence we see the celebration of every evil under the sun. It is as if man foolishly believes that they have somehow progressed past the idea of right and wrong. Yet for those who still have their wits about them, they see the real picture. They see the devolution of a culture spiraling into a heartless mob of sub-defectives who don’t know north from south, east from west or right from wrong.

In the US we see the effects of this devolution of unbridled vice in various ways. Vicious appetites have unleashed horrific laws upon us that have now begun to destroy any sense virtue. The natural law, which is readily apparent to a healthy mind, has been buried under the rubble of pseudo-intellectualism. Isn’t it a wonder to our eyes that so many today can’t tell the difference between men and women, insisting foolishly that one’s gender is only determined by one’s “identity.” One can now legitimately live their lives fictitiously in their grand delusions thinking themselves to be something other than what they are in essence.  Vicious ideologies not kept in check by a society will eventually self destruct. The vicious majority eventually force the acceptance of their immoral actions on the remaining portion of society. 

We can see this happening in the pseudo-laws we are now forcing on our public. For example, only a heinous, rotten villain would ever pass a law that allows partial birth abortion. Yet, this is what Hillary Clinton wants to pass into law. Only a mentally disturbed person would want to pass laws letting one’s “gender identity” determine which public bathroom they will use. Yet these sick, vicious disturbed politicians and judges are passing laws it seems, day by day now forcing our society into accepting this perverted, disastrous immorality. Why is it that we see these politicians trying to grow the influence and control of government? It is so they legislate their evil into society. They can line their pockets and force their immoral lifestyles on the public at the same time. Al Capone had nothing on these politicians.  This abuse of the legal system is symptomatic of a sick society.  



Our schools are also a target for this immoral governmental legislation. The school curriculum  is being corrupted to force our children into accepting many forms of vice. This is an effective way to embed immorality and vice into a culture. You force it upon the most innocent, impressionable foundation for the future foundation of a society, the youth. This is one of the most important battles we face now. Yet, if many parents are already buying into some of this poisonous mentality, they do not possess the wisdom to offer their children an inoculation against this poison. You can’t pass along virtue you do not possess yourself. As it stands, we are losing this battle on a daily basis. We are now on three generations of immoral degradation in our education system.

As our culture continues to devolve we now see the worst choice of presidential candidates before us in our modern history. The disturbed charlatan Hitlery Clinton makes the corrupt politicians of yesteryear look like choirboys. Vice, scandal, lies, and crony capitalism are her middle names. She was the proud recipient of the Margaret Sanger award who as we know was a racist eugenicist who wanted to exterminate the black population in our country. Yet, Sanger is admittedly one of Clinton’s heroes. This is just one of the many disturbing facts about this deplorable candidate who wants to legislate more evil into the fabric of our society. On the other side of the stage we see Trump. Virtue is certainly not a friend of Donald Trump. This crude and rude man reflects the average materialistic mindset of many in our country. Dollar signs, material success and business opportunities are the apple of his eye. Although he is a better choice when it comes to the furthering of abortion, the destruction of marriage and getting our debt under control, he is far from a pillar of virtue. The poor choice of candidates reflects just how far our culture has devolved. 



At the end of the day however, these are the politicians that our decadent American culture has brought forth. From vicious men have come forth the foul winds of abomination. Men and women today have been blinded by their own arrogance and have chosen to further many evils including unbridled abortion, fornication, divorce, contraception, homosexuality and materialistic greed among themselves. As a result they choose politicians who also laud these deplorable vices. Hence we have had eight years of the worst presidency our country has ever witnessed. We the vice ridden people elected a sub-defective moral degenerate into the White House for two terms! Greed and lust for power has driven up our debt exponentially. Abortion is now not only an accepted choice for birth control, but it has become sacrosanct for the Democratic Party and its supporters. A women’s “right” to kill their children is defended with hysterical rigor unlike any other vice. Likewise the sacrament of marriage is not far down the list of targets for these modernist progressives. Marriage has been weekend by the public acceptance of extra martial affairs, drive through divorce and homosexual “marriage.”  We have brought this upon ourselves as a nation.

In just over the 40 plus years that I have been alive, I never would have thought I would have seen public opinion devolve so quickly concerning these critical moral issues. When I was a child these forms of immorality were looked down upon, and that was a good thing. As we now continue to exalt vice, we continue to devolve into vicious, malicious sub-defectives bringing with it the winds of abomination and desolation. Men are becoming crueler, valuing human life less and less each day. Justice seems to be subject to ridicule as the government of "we the people" violates the rights of its citizens. But this is a device of our own making. Sin has clouded our judgement as a society. Even as Catholics we have not lived up to our calling to holiness. As a result, Catholics are now being attacked for our moral positions and now are even being forced to pay for abortions and contraception in a coerced government takeover of healthcare.

 
Just as natural virtue is no longer tolerated, God is no longer permitted to exist in lives of the public servants, our politicians. Only a neutered “god” is permitted to exist in the public eye. Most of the politicians who dare even mention the name of god have only created an idea of a god that offends no one and does not place any obligations on society. The one true God is no longer tolerated, otherwise the consciences of these vice ridden men and women would begin to eat away at them. These cowards cannot face the reality of their own sin and vice. As a a result they legislated God out of our schools. They launched a crusade to legalize the mass killing of innocent life in the womb. They have decided to legalize vice and have outlawed goodness. The list is endless as to the many ways vice is destroying our society. 

Although I have painted a dire picture here, do we have a chance of turning things around in our country and the world? Or do we face the inevitable downward spiral of desolation that always follows in the wake of rampant evil? Will our politicians fix the situation we find ourselves in? Unfortunately we are choosing from a degenerate pool of politicians who do not know up from down or right from wrong because we the people have created this degenerate pool by our own sin. Should we vote for the least pro-death candidate? Sure, but don’t think for a minute that even if that candidate should win that they will have any lasting significant impact on healing the true wounds of our culture. Unfortunately I see many Catholics spending more time focusing on natural cures than they are on supernatural cures. The only way we have of truly recovering any sense of virtue in our culture, and thus turning back the stench-ridden winds of abomination is to turn back to God. Our hearts will be restless until this happens. There are no worldly cures for our sickness. We have no virtuous leaders that put God front and center in their lives. We have no political parties that will uphold the moral law. There is simply not enough grace infused in our culture to work with. It is like to trying to make leaven bread with no yeast.



True change can only occur through the grace of Christ’s one and only Catholic Church. For those few who are truly practicing the Catholic faith we must strive to pray and sacrifice more for those who do not now know Christ. It is only through Christ that we find true virtue in the supernatural sense. This virtue is the only antidote for the illness that afflicts our culture. Evangelization is a key element to healing our society and it can effect change on many levels. As we live our lives for Christ we must share Him with others. Our lives must radiate Christ and we must let his grace shine through us so that others may also come to know Him. We must be aware of the many ways as God puts opportunities before us. These opportunities present themselves in our families, our places of work, and in public. As we begin to help build up virtuous men and women in our realm of influence, we can begin to legislate morality back into our culture. All God asks is that we love him and that we are open to doing His will. He will take care of the rest. The early Christians in the Roman Empire faced a similar, and in some ways even a more harsh landscape than we face today. They conquered a vice ridden empire by boldly living and preaching the Gospel of Christ. Let us pray for our country and for one another to be spared from the abomination that we ourselves have created and now angrily beats upon our front doors.  


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Stop Cursing the Darkness. Start Praying and Sacrificing!


It takes a saint's prayer and penance to solve problems!



As the globe turns in our tumultuous times we are witnessing one of the worst crisis of faith in the Church and the world we have ever seen. Many inside and outside the Church are actively looking for ways to destroy or minimize the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church. Unfortunately this situation has brought some of the worst out in the Catholic blogosphere. This has also become the age of the whistleblower/drive by news bloggers and media organizations.

There are now hundreds of “Catholic” blogs, websites and media outlets that are dedicated to cursing the darkness. Some seem to think that they are the sole voices of orthodoxy among Catholics. It is one thing to write an occasional article pointing some problem in the Church that needs to be addressed and quite another to dedicate an entire website or media organization to listing out every perceived problem going on in the Church. Personally I find this whole idea contrary to a healthy Catholic identity, and it often causes more issues than it does help resolve them.

Many use the examples of Saints like St Catherine of Siena and others to bolster this whistle blower mentality. Unfortunately, most of them probably have never done one one-hundredth of the penance and sacrifice these Saints did before they themselves ever dared to criticize anyone publicly. Let alone did any of them dedicate their entire bodies of work to  doing such a thing. Instead most of them like St Catherine actually blamed themselves for not being holy enough as to the cause of the problems in the Church. Even when they did speak out, they spent far more time in prayer and penance to rectify the situation than they ever did talking about it.

I find that many of these whistle blower websites often use sensational headlines that do not reflect the actual content of the article that is linked to it. Many of these websites use headlines that are often slanderous. For example, I saw a recent headline on one of these websites that said, “EWTN for Hillary!” as if the entire organization was supporting Hillary for president, which is not even close to being the case. In fact, the article linked said nothing of the sort. One thing bloggers should remember is that God will hold them accountable for everything they publish online. One thing you will rarely see on these websites for example are the many articles and videos on EWTN that are being made on a daily basis where the exact opposite is being advocated. 


 
The danger of running a “whistleblower” webpage or media organization is that eventually everything sounds like a broken record and things tend to be sensationalized. This gives a distorted representation of reality and tends to make people react emotionally rather than intellectually. Its time for Catholics who see and understand the problems in the Church to actually start doing what the Saints did. They need to engage in much prayer and penance. What we need less of is emotional ranting and more practice of prayer and penance. Did we see Our Lord spending every waking hour complaining and condemning the many wrongs in His time? No, He did it when it was necessary and spent the majority of His time preaching the Gospel to everyone so they could receive eternal life. If anyone had a right to go around and point out everyone's faults it was Jesus, and He rarely did that. In my opinion, it is time to stop cursing the darkness and start doing something about the problem. It is our own sins that are the cause of the catastrophe we find ourselves. We all have short memories when it comes to our own sins, and then we minimize the harm we have caused the Church. We need to stop sinning, start praying and doing penance. If everyone would spend as much time praying and doing penance as they do reading and writing hit pieces, we would be out of this mess already. Anyone can sit around and point out everything they perceive as a problem in the Church and complain about it. But it takes a saint to actually do something about it.

But it seems to me that God's Church has a great shortage of good ministers because the cloud of our own selfish love has grown so big in our mind's eye that no one, apparently can see or know this truth. And therefore they do not love it, since they are so filled with sensual and particular love for themselves that they cannot fill their heart and their will with love of truth. And so the mouths of those who are made heralds of the truth are found to be lying and deceitful. And I dearest father can prove it so. For in the place where I am, the religious- never mind the laity, of whom there are plenty of bad ones and few good ones- and the secular clergy, and especially the mendicant friars, who are appointed by Christ's dear bride to announce and proclaim the truth, are opposing the truth and giving it the lie in the pulpit. I believe my sins are the cause of it... They have led the people into much heresy that it is pitiful even to think about it, let alone see it. And what makes them say and do these things is slavish fear of others, human respect, and the desire for stipends. (From Letter T284)