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!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

The Twelve Steps to Holiness and Salvation~5 Poverty and Detachment

For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, 
and suffer the loss of his soul? 
Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Mark 8:36-37
Douay Rheims Roman Catholic Bible
     God permits us to enjoy the wealth of His beauty in the splendor of His creation during the month of May. The most lovely of His creations is the Blessed Virgin Mother! The month of may is dedicated to Our Blessed Mother. What a beautiful example of holy poverty was she. Her life with Jesus and Joseph was one of simplicity and detachment from everything the world defines as prosperity or success. Holy Scripture and the example of Jesus and the saints teach us to relinquish our hold on what we possess in favor of surrender to the will of God. Hearts filled with affection for high status, power, influence and self will, has no room for love of God.
     As repeated in The 12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation, "In order to become holy, we must banish from our heart all that is not for God." Saint Theresa of the child Jesus said "The less we have here, the greater will be our joy in Heaven."

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Twelve Steps to Holiness and Salvation~4 Love of Our Neighbor

"The love of our neighbour worketh no evil. 
Love therefore is the fulfilling of the law."
Romans 13:10
Douay Rheims Roman Catholic Bible
     Though blasts of winder chill our inner beings, occasional April blossoms hint at the arrival of long awaited spring. May we grow in love, by offering for our neighbor frequent prayer and contemplation in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament of Jesus, to whom the month of April is dedicated.
     Outward appearances may mask the underlying trials of a person who we find difficult to love. How fitting it is that Jesus and the saints admonish us to refrain from judging our neighbor. Instead, we are taught that to truly love God, we must love all of the persons He created. Further, we are reminded that God is the recipient of our treatment of others! The eternal danger of slander and discord are contrasted to the infinite merit of alms giving and love of our enemies. The conclusion of this chapter of The 12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation presents us with a great consolation, Our Lord's beautiful gift of praying for the dying and faithful departed: "When the soul is departing, say prayers for the dying and recommend the departed soul when it appears before the judgment seat of God. An evergreen wreath of prayers should be laid on the grave and frequent mementoes made during the Holy Mass for a speedy entrance of the departed soul into the everlasting joys of our heavenly home." 

Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Twelve Steps to Holiness and Salvation~3 Love of God

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.
Dark, cold winter days of March persist, yet our hearts are filled with the warmth of Christ's love for us.
John 14:21
Douay Rheims Roman Catholic Bible
     Cold winter days of March may persist, yet our hearts are filled with the warmth of Christ's love for us. Saint Joseph's love of God fueled his passion for the care and protection of Jesus and Mary. May we be inspired, during this month dedicated to Saint Joseph, to keep the flames of God's love burning within our hearts.
     In this chapter, we learn from the saints about experiencing God's love as we appreciate His creation in nature and beauty. The saints spoke clearly about the essence of self-sacrifice and suffering in the love relationship between Jesus and His followers. Desire for God's love, denouncement of attachment to things of the world, self denial and frequent meditation on the passion of Christ are essential in enhancing our love of God.  
     Among the many beautiful quotes from The 12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation are: "All Perfection consists in the love of God; for love is the virtue which unites us most intimately with God. All other virtues are of no account unless they are accompanied by love." "The Lord is generous in the bestowal of His gifts; but He is especially bountiful in giving His love to those who seek it."