Natural and supernatural knowledge – St. Theodoros ( Philokalia)

Natural knowledge is that which the soul can acquire through the use of its natural faculties and powers when investigating creation and the cause of creation — in so far, of course, as this is possible for a soul bound to matter…

Supranatural knowledge, on the other hand, is that which enters the intellect in a manner transcending its own means and power; that is to say, the intelligible objects that constitute such knowledge surpass the capacity of an intellect joined to a body, so that a knowledge of them pertains naturally only to an intellect which is free from the body. Such knowledge is infused by God alone when He finds an intellect purified of all material attachment and inspired by divine love.

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About illumination of intellect by St. Nikodimos ( Philokalia)

When the intellect has been perfected, it unites wholly with God and is illumined by divine light, and the most hidden mysteries are revealed to it. Then it truly learns where wisdom and power lie…

While it is still fighting against the passions it cannot as yet enjoy these things… But once the battle is over and it is found worthy of spiritual gifts, then it becomes wholly luminous, powerfully energized by grace and rooted in the contemplation of spiritual realities.

A person in whom this happens is not attached to the things of this world but has passed from death to life.

Words of St. Theodore the Studite, before his death

‘So farewell now, my children. I set out on a journey with no return, a journey which all those of old have traveled and on which you will set out in a short while after carrying out the duties of life.

I do not know, my brothers, where I am going or what judgment awaits me or which place will receive me. For I have not completed a single good work before God. Rather I am responsible for every sin. But still, I rejoice and am glad that I am going from the world to heaven, from darkness to light, from slavery to freedom, from temporary lodging to true abode, from strange and alien lands – for I am a sojourner and a stranger as all my fathers were (cf. Ps. 38 [39]:12) – to my very own country.

Still more boldly I will declare that I return to my Master, to my Lord and my God whom my spirit has loved, whom I have acknowledged as Father, even if I have not served him as a son. I have possessed him before all else, even if I have not served him as a noble slave.

Raving, I have spoken these things, but I have said them for you so that you will take heart and pray for my salvation.

If I achieve it, see, I give you my word before the truth that I will not be silent, but shall boldly beseech my Lord and Master for you all that you shall flourish, be saved, and multiply. I expect to see, receive, and embrace each and every one of you as you depart from the world. For I have such faith that, since you have observed his commands, his goodness just as he did here will also preserve you in the coming age for the same purpose: to sing the praises of his all-holy power. My children, remember my humble words. Keep the advice I have given in Christ Jesus our Lord in whom is glory and power forever and ever, Amen.’

St. Theodore the Studite, before his death

Thoughts on Continency by St. Basil the Great

‘Continency is denial of the body, and confession to God. It withdraws from anything mortal, like a body which has the Spirit of God. It is without rivalry and envy, and causes us to be united to God.

He who loves a body envies another. He who has not admitted the disease of corruption into his heart, is for the future strong enough to endure any labour, and though he have died in the body, he lives in incorruption.

Verily, if I rightly apprehend the matter, God seems to me to be continency, because He desires nothing, but has all things in Himself. He reaches after nothing, nor has any sense in eyes or ears; wanting nothing, He is in all respects complete and full.

Concupiscence is a disease of the soul; but continency is its health. And continency must not be regarded only in one species, as, for instance, in matters of sensual love. It must be regarded in everything which the soul lusts after in an evil manner, not being content with what is needful for it. Envy is caused for the sake of gold, and innumerable wrongs for the sake of other lusts. Not to be drunken is continency. Not to overeat one’s self is continency. To subdue the body is continency, and to keep evil thoughts in subjection, whenever the soul is disturbed by any fancy false and bad, and the heart is distracted by vain cares.

Continency makes men free, being at once a medicine and a power, for it does not teach temperance; it gives it. Continency is a grace of God.’

St. Basil the Great

‘The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved by St. Leonard of Port Maurice’

An extract from ‘The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved by St. Leonard of Port Maurice’


One day Saint John Chrysostom, preaching in the cathedral in Constantinople and considering these proportions, could not help but shudder in horror and ask, “Out of this great number of people, how many do you think will be saved?” And, not waiting for an answer, he added, “Among so many thousands of people, we would not find a hundred who are saved, and I even doubt for the one hundred.” What a dreadful thing! The great Saint believed that out of so many people, barely one hundred would be saved; and even then, he was not sure of that number. What will happen to you who are listening to me? Great God, I cannot think of it without shuddering! Brothers, the problem of salvation is a very difficult thing; for according to the maxims of the theologians, when an end demands great efforts, few only attain it.

That is why Saint Thomas, the Angelic Doctor, after weighing all the reasons pro and con in his immense erudition, finally concludes that the greater number of Catholic adults are damned. He says, “Because eternal beatitude surpasses the natural state, especially since it has been deprived of original grace, it is the little number that are saved.”

So then, remove the blindfold from your eyes that is blinding you with self-love, that is keeping you from believing such an obvious truth by giving you very false ideas concerning the justice of God, “Just Father, the world has not known Thee,” said Our Lord Jesus Christ. He does not say “Almighty Father, most good and merciful Father.” He says “just Father,” so we may understand that out of all the attributes of God, none is less known than His justice, because men refuse to believe what they are afraid to undergo. Therefore, remove the blindfold that is covering your eyes and say tearfully: Alas! The greater number of Catholics, the greater number of those who live here, perhaps even those who are in this assembly, will be damned! What subject could be more deserving of your tears?

King Xerxes, standing on a hill looking at his army of one hundred thousand soldiers in battle array, and considering that out of all of them there would be not one man alive in a hundred years, was unable to hold back his tears. Have we not more reason to weep upon thinking that out of so many Catholics, the greater number will be damned? Should this thought not make our eyes pour forth rivers of tears, or at least produce in our heart the sentiment of compassion felt by an Augustinian Brother, Ven. Marcellus of St. Dominic? One day as he was meditating on the eternal pains, the Lord showed him how many souls were going to hell at that moment and had him see a very broad road on which twenty-two thousand reprobates were running toward the abyss, colliding into one another. The servant of God was stupefied at the sight and exclaimed, “Oh, what a number! What a number! And still more are coming. O Jesus! O Jesus! What madness!” Let me repeat with Jeremiah, “Who will give water to my head, and a fountain of tears to my eyes? And I will weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people.”

Poor souls! How can you run so hastily toward hell? For mercy’s sake, stop and listen to me for a moment! Either you understand what it means to be saved and to be damned for all eternity, or you do not. If you understand and in spite of that, you do not decide to change your life today, make a good confession and trample upon the world, in a word, make your every effort to be counted among the littler number of those who are saved, I say that you do not have the faith. You are more excusable if you do not understand it, for then one must say that you are out of your mind. To be saved for all eternity, to be damned for all eternity, and to not make your every effort to avoid the one and make sure of the other, is something inconceivable.

Source: http://saintsbooks.net

THE GRACE OF GOD IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY – By St. Louis Marie de Montfort

An extract from ‘The Secret of Mary by St. Louis Marie de Montfort’ 
Chosen soul, living image of God and redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, God wants you to become holy like him in this life, and glorious like him in the next.

It is certain that growth in the holiness of God is your vocation. All your thoughts, words, actions, everything you suffer or undertake must lead you towards that end. Otherwise you are resisting God in not doing the work for which he created you and for which he is even now keeping you in being. What a marvellous transformation is possible! Dust into light, uncleanness into purity, sinfulness into holiness, creature into Creator, man into God! A marvellous work, I repeat, so difficult in itself, and even impossible for a mere creature to bring about, for only God can accomplish it by giving his grace abundantly and in an extraordinary manner. The very creation of the universe is not as great an achievement as this. 

Chosen soul, how will you bring this about? What steps will you take to reach the high level to which God is calling you? The means of holiness and salvation are known to everybody, since they are found in the gospel; the masters of the spiritual life have explained them; the saints have practised them and shown how essential they are for those who wish to be saved and attain perfection. These means are: sincere humility, unceasing prayer, complete self-denial, abandonment to divine Providence, and obedience to the will of God.

The grace and help of God are absolutely necessary for us to practise all these, but we are sure that grace will be given to all, though not in the same measure. I say “not in the same measure”, because God does not give his graces in equal measure to everyone, although in his infinite goodness he always gives sufficient grace to each. A person who corresponds to great graces performs great works, and one who corresponds to lesser graces performs lesser works. The value and high standard of our actions corresponds to the value and perfection of the grace given by God and responded to by the faithful soul. No one can contest these principles.

How monks of the olden days lived? ( St. John Cassian)

‘. . . in the early days of the faith few indeed — but they were very upright — were regarded as monks, and they had received that form of life from the evangelist Mark of blessed memory, who was the first to rule as bishop over the city of Alexandria.

They not only retained then those magnificent qualities that we read in the Acts of the Apostles were originally cultivated by the Church and by the throngs of believers but to these they even added things far more lofty. . . they went off to quite secluded places on the outskirts of the city and led a strict life of such rigorous abstinence that even those who did not share their religion were astonished at the arduous profession of their way of life.

For day and night they gave themselves over to the reading of Holy Scripture, to prayer, and to manual labor with such fervor that the very appetite for and memory of food only disturbed them every second or third day, when their bodies felt hunger, and they would take food and drink not so much out of desire as out of necessity.

Indeed, they would not do this before sunset, so as to link the daytime with the pursuit of spiritual meditation but the care of the body with the night. And other things they did that were far more lofty than these. . .’

St. John Cassian

Why we fall into temptations? (Perspective & Prayer by St. John of God)

‘I acknowledge, Lord, that for the just punishment of my sins I fell into the horrible temptation which so nearly caused my destruction. Thou it is Who, by Thine infinite mercy, hast delivered me from it. I promise to serve Thee for the remainder of my days with all the fidelity I am capable of, and I beg Thee the grace to do so. Cause the light of Thy countenance to shine upon Thy servant; grant me that interior peace after which I have so long sighed; show me the way in which Thou wishest me to walk and go to Thee, for it is just that the work of Thy hands should praise Thee, obey Thee, and be entirely submissive to Thy commands.’

St. John of God


God never tempts us. It is our own sins which lead us to undergo future temptations. It is thus important not just to avoid mortal sins, but also venial sins and repent and confess all  identified  sins. So let’s not blame Satan for everything. We are accountable to every moment of our lives and how we use our free will and spiritual weapons to combat direct and indirect snares of the evil one.

Let us pray to our Holy God to give us the grace to overcome our sinful inclinations. Lord Jesus, cover us with your precious blood and wash away our sins and all that in us which offends your most holy love.

Prayer for the family

DEAR Lord, bless our family. Be so kind as to give us the unity, peace, and mutual love that You found in Your own family in the little town of Nazareth.

Saint Joseph, bless the head of our family. Obtain for him the strength, the wisdom, and the prudence he needs to support and direct those under his care.

Mother Mary, bless the mother of our family. Help her to be pure and kind, gentle and self-sacrificing. For the more she resembles you, the better will our family be.

Lord Jesus, bless the children of our family. Help them to be obedient and devoted to their parents. Make them more and more like You. Let them grow, as You did, in wisdom and age and grace before God and man.

Holy Family of Nazareth, make our family and home more and more like Yours, until we are all one family, happy and at peace in our true home with You.

Amen.

A Marian Prayer by St. Anthony Mary Claret

O Mary most holy, conceived without original sin, Virgin Mother of the Son of the Living God, Queen and Empress of heaven and earth: Since you are the Mother of pity and mercy, deign to turn your eyes toward an unhappy exile in this vale of tears, anguish, and misery who, though unworthy, has the great happiness of being your son. O Mother mine, how much I love and esteem you, and firmly trust that you will grant me perseverance in your holy service and grace until death.

I beseech and beg you, my Mother, to destroy at the proper time the heresies that devour the flock of your most holy Son. Remember, O most gracious Virgin, that you have the power to end them all. Do so out of charity for that great love you bear toward Jesus Christ your Son. Look upon the souls redeemed through the infinite price of Jesus’ Blood, who are falling once more under the power of the demon, and neglecting your Son and you.

What is lacking then, my Mother? Would you perhaps avail yourself of some instrument with which to remedy so great an evil? Here is one who however vile and contemptible he knows himself to be, is yet assured that he will serve the better for this end, since your power will shine forth all the brighter, and all will see that it is you who are at work, not I. Come now, loving Mother, let us lose no time. Here I am: dispose of me as you will, for you know that I am wholly yours. I trust that you will do this out of your great kindness, pity, and mercy, and I ask you this through the love you bear for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Amen.

( This is the first Prayer Written during the Noviatiate by St. Anthony Mary Claret)

Source: http://saintsprayers.net/

Discernment of spirits through purification of intellect by Holy Spirit – St. Diadochos of Photiki

‘Only the Holy Spirit can purify the intellect, for unless a greater power comes and overthrows the despoiler, what he has taken captive will never be set free (cf. Luke 11:21-22).

In every way, therefore, and especially through peace of soul, we must make ourselves a dwelling-place for the Holy Spirit. Then we shall have the lamp of spiritual knowledge burning always within us; and when it is shining constantly in the inner shrine of the soul, not only will the intellect perceive all the dark and bitter attacks of the demons, but these attacks will be greatly weakened when exposed for what they are by that glorious and holy light.

That is why the Apostle says: ‘Do not quench the Spirit’ (1 Thess. 5:19), meaning: “Do not grieve the goodness of the Holy Spirit by wicked actions or wicked thoughts, lest you be deprived of this protecting light.”

The Spirit, since He is eternal and life-creating, cannot be quenched; but if He is grieved – that is if He withdraws – He leaves the intellect without the light of spiritual knowledge, dark and full of gloom.’

St. Diadochos of Photiki

 

Source: http://saintsquotes.net

To Jesus Abandoned

With Mary Immaculate, let us adore, thank, implore and console the Most Beloved and Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. O Divine Jesus, lonely today (tonight) in so many Tabernacles, without visitor or worshiper, I offer You my poor but loving heart. May its every beat be an infinite act of love for You.

You are always watching beneath the Sacramental Veils; in Your Love You never sleep and You are never weary of Your vigil for sinners. O lonely Jesus, may the flame of my heart burn and beam always in company with You. O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine! All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine!

Source: http://saintsprayers.net

 

An Offering of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary by St. John Eudes

O Jesus, only Son of God, only Son of Mary,
I offer Thee the most loving Heart of Thy divine Mother
which is more precious and pleasing to Thee than all hearts.
O Mary, Mother of Jesus,
I offer Thee the most adorable Heart of Thy well-beloved Son,
who is the life and love and joy of Thy Heart.
Blessed be the Most Loving Heart
and Sweet Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ
and the most glorious
Virgin Mary, His Mother,
in eternity and forever.

Amen.

Prayer ‘O Loving Jesus, Meek Lamb of God. . .’ attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux

O Loving Jesus, Meek Lamb of God, I miserable sinner, salute and worship the most Sacred Wound of Thy Shoulder on which Thou didst bear Thy heavy Cross, which so tore Thy Flesh and laid bare Thy Bones as to inflict on Thee an anguish greater than any other wound of Thy Most Blessed Body. I adore Thee, O Jesus most sorrowful; I praise and glorify Thee and give Thee thanks for this most sacred and painful Wound, beseeching Thee by that exceeding pain and by the crushing burden of Thy heavy Cross, to be merciful to me, a sinner, to forgive me all my mortal and venial sins and to lead me on towards Heaven along the Way of Thy Cross.

According to St. Bernard, he asked Jesus which was His greatest unrecorded suffering and the wound that inflicted the most pain on Him in Calvary and Jesus answered:

“I had on My Shoulder, while I bore My Cross on the Way of Sorrows, a grievous Wound which was more painful than the others and which is not recorded by men. Honor this Wound with thy devotion and I will grant thee whatsoever thou dost ask through its virtue and merit and in regard to all those who shall venerate this Wound, I will remit to them all their venial sins and will no longer remember their mortal sins.”

In the twelfth century Pope Eugenius III approved of the promises with regards to this prayer.

Source: http://saintsprayers.net/

Prayer to Defeat the Work of Satan

O Divine Eternal Father, in union with your Divine Son and the Holy Spirit, and through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg You to destroy the Power of your greatest enemy – the evil spirits.

Cast them into the deepest recesses of hell and chain them there forever! Take possession of your Kingdom which You have created and which is rightfully yours.

Heavenly Father, give us the reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

I repeat this prayer out of pure love for You with every beat of my heart and with every breath I take.

Amen.

Evening Prayer to God the Father by St. Macarius

O eternal God and Ruler of all creation, You have allowed me to reach this hour. Forgive the sins I have committed this day by word, deed or thought. Purify me, O Lord, from every spiritual and physical stain. Grant that I may rise from this sleep to glorify You by my deeds throughout my entire lifetime, and that I be victorious over every spiritual and physical enemy. Deliver me, O Lord, from all vain thoughts and from evil desires, for yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and forever.

Amen.

The Mission of My Life – John Henry Cardinal Newman

God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments. Therefore, I will trust him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.

On locutions – St. John of Avila, Letter to St. Teresa of Jesus

‘I think, too, that these locutions have done your soul good, and in particular that they have made you see your own wretchedness and your faults more clearly, and amend them.

They have lasted long, and always with spiritual profit. They move you to love God, and to despise yourself, and to do penance.

I see no reasons for condemning them, I incline rather to regard them as good, provided you are careful not to rely altogether on them, especially if they are unusual, or bid you do something out of the way, or are not very plain.

In all these and the like cases you must withhold your belief in them, and at once seek for direction. . . Also it should be considered that, even if they do come from God, Satan may mix with them suggestions of his own; you should therefore be always suspicious of them.

Also, when they are known to be from God, men must not rest much on them, seeing that holiness does not lie in them, but in a humble love of God and our neighbour; everything else, however good, must be feared, and our efforts directed to the gaining of humility, goodness, and the love of our Lord.

It is seemly, also, not to worship what is seen in these visions, but only Jesus Christ, either as in Heaven or in the Sacrament, or, if it be a vision of the Saints, then to lift up the heart to the Holy One in Heaven, and not to that which is presented to the imagination: let it suffice that the imagination may be made use of for the purpose of raising me up to that which it makes me see.’

St. John of Avila, Letter to St. Teresa of Jesus

How one should eliminate unreal affections! – Advice from St. Francis de Sales

‘How are you to meet the swarm of foolish attachments, triflings, and undesirable inclinations which beset you?

By turning sharply away, and thoroughly renouncing such vanities, flying to the Saviour’s Cross, and clasping His Crown of thorns to your heart, so that these little foxes may not spoil your vines.

Beware of entering into any manner of treaty with the Enemy; do not delude yourself by listening to him while intending to reject him.

For God’s Sake, my daughter, be firm on all such occasions; the heart and ear are closely allied, and just as you would vainly seek to check the downward course of a mountain torrent, so difficult will you find it to keep the smooth words which enter in at the ear from finding their way down into the heart. . .

If unhappily you are already entangled in the nets of any unreal affection, truly it is hard to set you free! But place yourself before His Divine Majesty, acknowledge the depth of your wretchedness, your weakness and vanity, and then with all the earnestness of purpose you can muster, arrest the budding evil, abjure your own empty promises, and renounce those you have received, and resolve with a firm, absolute will never again to indulge in any trifling or dallying with such matters.

If you can remove from the object of your unworthy affection, it is most desirable to do so.

He who has been bitten by a viper cannot heal his wound in the presence of another suffering from the like injury, and so one bitten with a false fancy will not shake it off while near to his fellow-victim. Change of scene is very helpful in quieting the excitement and restlessness of sorrow or love.

St. Ambrose tells a story in his Second Book on Penitence, of a young man, who coming home after a long journey quite cured of a foolish attachment, met the unworthy object of his former passion, who stopped him, saying, “Do you not know me, I am still myself?” “That may be,” was the answer, “but I am not myself.” – so thoroughly and happily was he changed by absence.’

St. Francis de Sales

Crown of roses of the Holy Rosary – St. Louis Marie de Montfort

‘Poor men and women who are sinners, I, a greater sinner than you, wish to give you this rose, a crimson one, because the precious blood of our Lord has fallen upon it. Please God that it may bring true fragrance into your lives – but above all, may it save you from the danger that you are in. Every day unbelievers and un-repentant sinners cry, “Let us crown ourselves with roses.” But our cry should be, “Let us crown ourselves with the roses of the holy Rosary.”

How different are theirs from ours! Their roses are pleasures of the flesh, worldly honours and passing riches which wilt and decay in no time, but ours, which are the Our Father and Hail Mary which we have said devoutly over and over again, and to which we have added good penitential acts, will never wilt or die, and they will be just as exquisite thousands of years from now as they are today.’

St. Louis Marie de Montfort