Anyone who saw the previous blog on, “The Virtue of Religion”, will know this virtue in some manner decides our life, if we make every attempt we can to use It. Now, since I made such a hash of explaining previously of how I believed in the directions the “Virtue of Religion” will lead us, please bear with my newest attempt. These ideas of mine are not intended to be dangerous to our catholic faith. Although I find that the gentiles who shout at me over my catholic beliefs are no different than Catholics who go to very foolish extremes to explain, as loudly as the pseudo -catholics, how wrong I am in many matters. I ask you to allow me this new effort, hopefully on my part that how this religion, most delightful of virtues if used can draw us deeper into the Sacrifice of the Cross and the Mass. I would like to explain clearly how we are able, because of this virtue; enter more deeply into the Liturgy, Rites and Rituals of the HolyCatholic ApostolicChurch, to be the Catholics we should be. I mean if we adopt or make the right effort, cooperating with a deep interior movement of our heart and soul, as we should, attending and using the Holy Mysteries of the Church, the Sacrament, Rites and Rituals, we become mystical and saintly through the torrent of sanctifying grace made available to us through the Merits with which God, Jesus and the Saints endowed the Church. The Glory of God and His gift of this virtue demands this reaction from us. It might well be if you dwell upon this subject and think it through as best any of us can it will become apparent to you the virtue of zeal will conquer our tepidity and minimalism, to rise with Christ on the Third Day I often wonder if this virtue is the same actual grace we need to be Catholic and work as we should to honor God as we should.
Let me first quote a fine Jesuit moral theologian of the 19th.century. I call you to dwell for a while on his statement on sanctifying grace and Its partner, the Theological Virtue of Charity.
Cardinal Camillo Mazzella SJ., wrote in his treatise, “De Virtutiblis infusis”, Dis.11, a3-12”
“We do not intend to treat here of religion as a natural virtue (virtus accquisita), which can be acquired, at least in an imperfect degree, by frequent acts, but of religion as a supernatural virtue (virtus per se infusa) infused into the soul by means of grace. Religion is in the first place, an abiding disposition inclining us to render unto God, the worship due to Him. Ease and readiness in the performance of supernatural acts of religion are the fruits of faithful exercise and are obtainable by our own exertions assisted by Divine Grace. Charity and all the infused moral virtues are inseparably united with sanctifying grace, the two (other) theological virtues of faith and hope (bapitus fidei and spe”) can still exist after sanctifying grace has been lost.”
We also find in Fr Connell’s Confraternity Edition of the Baltimore Catechism No 3 page 75, in his commentary on “Important truths about the Virtues and Gifts of the Holy Ghost”, complete agreement with the cardinal’s words as follows,
“As long as we retain sanctifying grace, the infused virtues and the gifts remain in our soul. Mortal sin drives out all these supernatural habits, except faith and hope, which remain even in the soul of the sinner unless he commits a sin directly against hope—in which case only faith remains—or a sin directly opposed to faith, in which case all the supernatural qualities are driven out”.
Digressing a little concerning another catholic teaching, I say, “The ideal Christian has both natural and supernatural virtues. However, it is possible to have one type without the other. Thus a baptized infant has the supernatural virtues, infused at Baptism, but he has no natural virtues. On the other hand, a sinner, who has not the supernatural moral virtues may have some natural virtues. Many of the latter day Catholics have it in their mind that they have an indwelling of the Holy Spirit and are confident they have both supernatural and natural virtues. This is just not true, I am afraid.
I believe the Cardinal means faith and hope will stay in the soul even after grave sin(s) are committed, while the grace of the state that sanctifies us, that makes us eligible for heaven, leaves, making our souls to God, ugly through sin.
After reading this, if the Cardinal is right, should we not after confession, a solemn, ritual, sacramental confession, truly shrouded in the mystery of Christ’s Love that comes from His ocean of mercy, should we not therefore make besides an act of perfect contrition, offer an act of charity?
Do we I ask, truly give to God the honor due to His Magnificence? On this point I have some observations. I would like to bring into your view the ways of so many during the latter years in the life of our Church. Since Vatican 2 there are those in the Church who forget who Christ is; put Him aside according to their opinions, their private revelations. These people treat Him as no more than a brother with all the requisite worldly familiarity we claim with our birth brothers. I find the ecumenical ‘habits’ many wear are not charitable. This ecumenism we see around us today really does nothing in honesty to save the souls of those outside the Church. Our Christ the real Christ is hidden by many of the Laity under some unrealistic subterfuge that obscures the works of True Charity. The subterfuge seems to hide as a mere social obligation any true recognition and devotion to God. Never do we teach in truth how He should be honored as He should be honored. This action by the way is blasphemy as God, and His Trinitarian actions are neither admitted to, nor are they given their due. Some say He is or was the first communist, another devilish sacramental act of blasphemy. Some claim he was homosexual, contrary to the admonishments of the Old Law. What dreadful insults these are? Given as a label to the God of us all? How awful it is that the great phrase that sums up the Church no longer has a value. I mean the phrase, “The Brotherhood of man under the Fatherhood of God”, This I am afraid is a definition no longer used to describe the Mystical Body of Christ. This phrase for me and I hope for you all, is a summation of the Mystery of the Church. Without the Fatherhood we are nothing more than socialist, communist or some other dreadful “ism”. It is the Fatherhood that raises up the Church into a different social system into a community founded by God to love Him and serve Him in this world to be happy with Him in the next. A community founded upon Charity involved deeply in worship through religion. We cannot really mean it is some undefined spirituality pointed to where no one really knows allowing the most ugly of rituals. It is from, about and truly concerns God. The Charity we practice today is sometimes imperfect due to a lack of grace, infused, earned or gratuitous.
Charity and her sister Sanctifying Grace or supernatural love, the bond between the Father and the Son, called by the Church, the Third Person, can be lost to us, as Cardinal Mazzella wrote. I maintain that due to the nature of the gift of the theological virtues perhaps due to natural law and the loss of sanctifying grace, the virtue of charity becomes missing in us but through habit we do still use it imperfectly, possibly not receiving the merits due to the act we perform.. It causes the sentient heart to revert to a lesser nutritive pump the heart of a brute or an animal. (see Aquinas, “Of the Heart”. This is an animal heart that maintains a life by experience and training, existing outside perhaps the natural law. Since we do not deliberately throw it aside Grace, it stays as a sputtering candle inside our soul and we still can love, somewhat imperfectly. The Penny Catechism says God is everywhere.The sanctifying grace that we have lost through grave sin, has obviously became Avila's sputtering flame in hearts. Is this grace or virtue, the actual grace that maintains our life? It could be the memory of the beatific vision, we saw at God’s conception of us in His mind. Definitely we can suppose it is the virtue of religion which tied to the other two previous conditions cause us one way or another to somewhat frantically seek or despicably, to equally desperately deny Him. Conscience has a funny way of acting interiorly through guilt.
Charity is way beyond love. It involves far too many other actions, the greatest of which is dying for others and showing a lack of concern for our own comfort. We have when one considers our fallen nature, made Charity and love, one and the same habit downgrading through our ways the Charity John wrote of in his first letter, chapter 4. It is not and cannot be. How many of us have by a sheer effort of will loved someone we dislike but avoid them and certainly would never die for them. Hyperbole for sure but think harshly of what you do to many of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We have made Charity a cheap love, practiced by us in making out, by hooking up, it is the romance defined in harlequin novels. One thing it is not. It is rarely the selfless love seen in Christ’s example coming soon one Friday, an a Catholic Church near you. How many know and offer up perfect charity for our brothers and sisters. Perfect when for Love of God we do acts of charity without regard for our personal comfort? How many I ask? The virtue of religion through our attendance at Mass should scream in our minds, God descended from Heaven to be here at this Mass for me. Now He will die and rise again for me, for us. What have I done to deserve this show of such love from One so all powerful. How many will contemplate the answer? How many enter into compunction a gift of real penance?
Cardinal Mazzella was not the only one to reach the conclusion, we loose grace (sanctifying grace) through grave sin. Suarez did, Fr Savignon Louismet did, David acknowledged in Psalm 50/51 God can turn His face from us. Above all Ezechiel was told, “The soul that sins dies”. The Church has always maintained this truth, “Without sanctifying grace the soul is dead” and that is some sins are called “mortal”.
This is where the Virtue of Religion really comes into being for those who work towards perfection. Those who may have conquered their dislike of others in a most magnificent act of Charity (Perfect Love) will as St Faustina wrote, “Have Divine Mercy in their souls”. I believe if those who have risen from death in the Confessional, will have Charity in their souls and they can count on Divine Mercy to be there too.