Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Twelve Steps to Holiness and Salvation~12 Self Denial and Love of the Cross

  In December, we commemorate the Immaculate conception of Mary and the Divine Infancy. Mary's life was dedicated to Jesus from the moment of her conception. Jesus gave His life for our salvation.
 Mary was the perfect example of self denial and love of the Cross.
Jesus' passion and death freed us from eternal separation from God. 
     Mary's early life was dedicated to God in humble prayer: her "yes" as the mother of Jesus, her fidelity to Jesus as she followed Him along the Via Crucis. She united her suffering to that of her Son. By her perfect example, we learn to follow Jesus as true Christians. 
     In  The 12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation  Saint Alphonsus Liguori writes that the suffering is a means of atoning for past sins ans well as a proof of love for another." Mary Magdalen de P'Azzi said 'every pain, howsoever great becomes sweet when we contemplate Jesus on the cross.'"
My favorite quote from this chapter is," The best prayer you can say is to resign yourself to the will of God in the midst of your sufferings, uniting your pains to the pains of Jesus Christ and offering them as a sacrifice to God."  Beginning a new year intending the development of virtues described in The 12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation brings to my memory a dear elederly man who suffered many illness and pains at the end of his life. He smiled and spoke of offering these sufferings for his wife, children, relatives and loved ones as well as for the holy souls in purgatory and persons who had hurt him during his life How fortunate are all who are on his "prayer list"! God bless you and Happy New Year! 

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Twelve Steps to Holiness and Salvation~11 Prayer

Always rejoice.
Pray without ceasing.
In all things give thanks; 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you all.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Douay Rheims Roman Catholic Bible
     As Catholic Christians, we believe in the eternity the soul. We are commanded by God to pray for one another "Confess therefore your sins one to another: and pray one for another, that you may be saved. For the continual prayer of a just man availeth much." James 5:16 Douay Rheims Roman Catholic Bible
     During the Month of November, the Catholic Church commemorates the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Our relationship with the Poor Souls in Purgatory is a loving example of God's mercy and the power of prayer in Christian life.
    In  The 12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation  Saint Alphonsus Liguori writes about vocal and mental prayer and the importance of conformity to God's will. He writes "'Nothing', says Saint John Chrysostom, 'proves our love for Jesus Christ better than the zeal we have to oray for our Brethren.'"


Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Twelve Steps to Holiness and Salvation~10 Recollection

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them; 
he it is that loveth me. 
And he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father: 
and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 
Judas saith to him, not the Iscariot: 
Lord, how is it, that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, 
and not to the world? 
Jesus answered, and said to him: 
If any one love me, he will keep my word, 
and my Father will love him, 
and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him.
John 14:21-23
Douay Rheims Roman Catholic Bible

     The Holy Rosary and the Holy angels are commemorated during the month of October. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said that when we pray the Rosary, we are loving Jesus with the heart of Mary. We remember His healing miracles and teachings and apply them to our current lives, making every moment a step towards heaven. We open our lives to the love and mercy of Jesus, the Holy Spirit's guidance, an outpouring of God's graces delivered to us by our Blessed Mother, the assistance of Angels (especially our Guardian Angel) and Signal Graces.
     In  The 12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation  Saint Alphonsus Liguori writes, "To preserve recollection of spirit or the constant union of the soul with God, three things are necessary: solitude, silence, and the recollection of the presence of God." The Holy Rosary provides us with the opportunity for all three of these requirements."Love is always strengthened by the presence of the object loved."

Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Twelve Steps to Holiness and Salvation~9 Mortification

"But, as it is written: 
That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, 
neither hath it entered into the heart of man, 
what things God hath prepared for them that love him." 
1 Corinthians 2:9 Douay Rheims
Roman Catholic Bible

          The winds of September, the month Catholic Christians commemorate the Seven Sorrows of Mary, prompt nature to bless us with reminders of the ephemeral nature of earthy existence. Whispering leaves of deciduous hardwoods begin their transformation from green to red, orange and gold while hardier flowers hold on to their bright array as long as they can. Our society has ingrained deep within our psyches the false perception that we can remain forever young, wealthy and "happy". The world falsely assures humans that stress free comfort is the reward for achieving these goals. The eternal cost of striving for this unreality is tragic. Emotional hopeless abounds in the atmosphere of clamoring for status, beauty, fame, recognition and prosperity. Society's perimeter continually changes in such a manner that no human being can "hold on to" the achievement of these transient qualities forever.
     The truth is that because of the fall of Adam and Eve, we live in an imperfect world filled with the ravages of sin~disease, failure, poverty, death and loss. Involuntary suffering and mortification that come from illness, aging and trauma are inevitable.  
     The only true and enduring joy comes from God. The examples of holy men an women of God referred to in Saint Alphonsus Liguori's The 12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation are clear, timeless examples of the sublime importance of self denial and mortification during our earthly lives. We learn that in all our prayers and devotions we must humbly desire to be obedient and conformed to the will of God.  Saint Mary Magdalene  de P'Azzi said "Self love is like the worm that gnaws at the root and destroys not only the fruit but even the very life of the plant." 

Sunday, August 4, 2019

The Twelve Steps to Holiness and Salvation~8 Meekness and Humility

"Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land"
Matthew 5:4
Douay Rheims Roman Catholic Bible

     In August, we enjoy the fullness of the beauty of God's created universe in all of its splendor and majesty. August is dedicated to the commemoration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Mary, the most perfect follower of Jesus, fully obeyed God's will without hesitation. Our Lady's Immaculate heart is at once meek, humble, splendid and majestic. Excellent and convicting is the treatment of humility of the intellect and will in Saint Alphonsus Liguori's The 12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation

Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Twelve Steps to Holiness and Salvation~7 Obedience

For though we walk in the flesh, 
we do not war according to the flesh. 
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, 
but mighty to God 
unto the pulling down of fortifications,
destroying counsels,and every height
that exhalteth itself 
against the knowledge of God, 
and bringing into captivity every understanding 
unto the obedience of Christ;
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
     Jesus was fully obedient to the will of the Father as he shed His Blood for us on the Cross. The month of July, richly flourishing with vegetation and beauty, is dedicated to The Precious Blood of Jesus. As Catholics, we live His promise to be with us always as He, without reservation, blesses us at every Holy Mass. We merely need to obey Him and be present. Yet obedience, our great demonstration of love for God, can be so difficult to practice. Consider the first words of this chapter of Saint Alphonsus Liguori's work, The 12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation: "Perfection consists in the conformity of our will to the will of God." Jesus, as a child gave us the example of being subject to Mary and Joseph. 
     Saint Magdalen de P'Azzi said "A little drop of simple obedience is worth a million times more than a whole vase of the choicest contemplation." Obedience to God in humble acts is of greater eternal value than turning away from Him to perform some "good deed" of great notoriety. " For if thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would indeed have given it with burnt offerings thou wild not be delighted. A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit a contrite and humble heart O God thou wilt not despise" Psalm 50(51):18-19 Douay Rheims Roman Catholic Bible.
     This informative chapter challenges and enlightens us with regards to the Divine significance of obedience to superiors in all states of life. "Not serving to the eye as it were pleasing men, but as servants of Christ doing the will of God from the heart" Ephesians 6:6 Douay Rheims Roman Catholic Bible.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

The Twelve Steps to Holiness and Salvation~6 Chastity

For I am sure that neither death, nor life, 
nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, 
nor things present, nor things to come, nor might,
nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, 
shall be able to separate us from the love of God, 
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39
Douay Rheims, Roman Catholic Bible
     The month of June, brilliant with flowering color, is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The virtue of chastity is exemplified by Jesus and those closest to Him ~ Mary His Mother, Joseph His foster father and John the Baptist. Without any distraction or limits, Jesus gave us His Sacred Heart. He continues to do so. Safe within His heart, we are never without the hope of being with Him forever in Heaven. 
     Saint Alphonsus Liguori reminds us, in The 12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation, of the diligence required in preserving the virtue of chastity. Without this virtue, families and children are destroyed. Despair reigns and hope dies. Conversely through the very words of our Savior Jesus, we have the glorious assurance that "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8 Douay Rheims Roman Catholic Bible.
     Vocations~ Priesthood, Religious, Single and Marriage~ are made beautiful by this virtue, which  makes our hearts and souls totally available to receive the bountiful graces of our Heavenly Father. To assist us, our Creator has blessed us with the protection of the Holy Angels, and the powerful prayers of the saints and faithful departed. Nothing can separate us from His love!