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Status Quo or Continued Pursuit?


January 30, 2019

In the spiritual life of the serious Catholic, there is the constant awareness to progress forward in a positive manner. This progression, or to state it in a more familiar manner, is the uniting of the soul with Our Lord on a spiritual plain that is above the average Catholic.

It is a sad, unfortunate fact that most Catholics will never rise above a superficial understanding of the Catholic Faith or Its spirituality. There are far too many who believe that once they have learned the basic catechism this is all that is needed to save one’s soul. Yes, salvation is possible knowing only the basic faith, but too often those Catholics are fooled by anti-Catholics of different sects and fall away from the Faith. Those who do remain in the Church are usually nominal Catholics at best.

It is the serious Catholic who knows that constant effort must be made to avoid sin and to practice supernatural virtue in order to have the possibility of getting to Heaven. Yes, it is true that one may have those periods when temptations seem to overwhelm you, but with the correct response (prayer and avoiding the occasion of sin), it is possible to overcome the otherwise destructive efforts of our own lower passions or those of Satan.

Too often the weak person will claim the temptation was simply so strong he was not able to stand up against it. If he was attempting to do this WITHOUT the help of intercessory prayer to Our Lord, the Blessed Mother or one of the many holy angels or saints, then his conclusion would be correct. Man is simply too weak, fickle or frail to stand up against the powers of darkness.

This is precisely the point of this article and the lesson of spiritual perfection. There needs to be a constant effort, and yes, at times a renewed endeavor, to remain on course with an attitude of great zeal and fervor to spiritually unite oneself with Our Lord. Although it is not always explained when one is encouraged to pray, the very purpose of prayer is to unite oneself with Our Lord. The more often fervent prayer takes place the more closely united one becomes. This unity will lead to a change in thoughts, words and deeds. The result is a life of sanctity.

The great temptations are just that, temptations. One needs to recognize the signs, pray for the grace to overcome them and remove oneself from the occasion. It seems that in most situations this advice would eliminate the temptations and therefore, the possibility of sin.

Some are under the impression that saints were not tempted to sin. This, of course, is not true. Numerous biographies and autobiographies go into enough detail proving that saints, both men and women were tempted and at times quite severely. Contrary to what some believe and most would like, temptations are a part of the life of fallen man and will be until death.

Catholics have been instructed for a very long time how they must live. If these instructions are followed, the individual will be led to sanctity. Herein lies the problem for fallen man; the willingness to obey Christ and the Church. The failures of Catholics have caused the Church to regularly remind and encourage the faithful the necessity of following Its teachings. Reforms have been necessary within religious orders because its members became lax in their observance of their respective Rules.

All of this is a reminder of the necessity of remaining vigilant in our daily lives. Some have the erroneous idea that some grand event will occur which will bring make it possible for them to save their souls despite the less-than-holy life they have lived. This, of course, is a misguided idea, with perhaps a foundation in presumption.

Nearly all men will pass through this life un-noticed by the world. They will go through a daily life which is quite similar to their neighbors. Far too many will, after this earthly sojourn, go to Hell because of their sins, i.e., no faith, mediocre faith, sins of the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, murder, drugs, alcohol, blasphemy, no respect for Sunday and a host of many other sins. They have been misled by the world, tricked by Satan and shown an unwillingness to overcome their major faults. After all of the effort of a lifetime these souls will unnecessarily spend eternity in Hell. For all of those in Hell, what a tragic waste!

The lack of spiritual discipline among the Catholic laity is a sad indictment for those who have been blessed with the True Mass and Sacraments. In a figurative manner, these Catholics have been presented salvation on the “golden platter” but have to varying degrees rejected it.

What is easier than taking time each day to pray/converse with your God and Creator? Is it a hardship to attend Holy Mass and receive the Sacraments? Why is our disposition so lacking in fervor and zeal from day to day or week to week? Too many Protestants possess an embarrassing amount of both but they are most certainly misguided souls.

One should keep in mind that Satan will do all he us able to keep you busy so you will find the “excuse” not to spend time in prayer, not to adore God and thank Him for the many blessings that have been received, not to thank Him for being able to attend Holy Mass and receive the Sacraments even if it is not on a weekly basis.

The serious-minded Catholic who takes the time to pray and meditate will surely conclude he is quite unworthy of salvation. He will, though, make use of the means by which one is able to gain salvation. The mercy of God is evident in these means of the Mass and Sacraments. Why would one not take advantage of His mercy before one becomes subject to His justice?

If you have become lax as a Catholic even if you are attending the True Mass, make use of the grace which God will certainly bestow upon you and work hard to become a fervent and zealous soul. As each year passes, one draws closer to their eternal judgment. Do not waste the time given to you for it will pass quickly.

Fervent souls should continue in their religious practices, perhaps increase them if possible. Pray to become more united each day with Our Lord and Blessed Mother. Make better use of your time than you have in the past. May all have a year filled with God’s many blessings!

Fr. Joseph Noonan, OFM