All Conversations in My Heart
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
  Attendance at mass and the virtue of religion
I was at mass on Sunday. I watched how so many were celebrating the sacrifice in their own way, I felt that the virtue of religion was not with so many. I saw many who did not know the virtue of religion and its use and meaning for us as catholics. What is that virtue and how can we know how to practice this cardinal virtue? What follows is what the moral theology of the Catholic Church teaches and how it should be taught in seminaries and to the catholic laity.
Religion being a virtue, and virtue being a habit, and a habit being formed by repetition of acts, and that formation going on most readily when nature is most learnable, as it is in childhood, youth and when converts enter the faith. The main aim of the Parent, Godparent or teacher must be to form his child pupil or flock to live his or her religious life in the habit of the virtue of religion. The teacher must ensure they learn to pray regularly in private, and often take part not merely be lookers on, but take part in -- the public prayers and ceremonies of Holy Church. And here let us get rid of a delusion which our parliamentary orators on the education question seem often to labour under, the idea that religion is a 'lesson' and may be classified as such with the ordinary lessons and subjects of a school curriculum; that it is not so. It does not exist within a school timetable but it is a daily ongoing example of the practice of the Catholic religion. I grant you religious doctrine is a lesson; but religious doctrine is not religion, albeit religion can not stand without doctrine. We see today so catholics whom do not follow the church's doctrine and are therefore quite thoroughly and deliberately,this  I do not doubt, irreligious They are we can know to be politicians, doctors in theology, teachers and masters of religious doctrine. Many catholics in their own fashion love what they consider their religion, and yet find the lesson in religious doctrine tedious. Religion is a discipline of the whole man, not of the intellect only; it converts the whole being to the worship of God. Religion is instilled by Sacraments, by Confession and Communion, by Mass, Rosary and Benediction, by holy images and the company of religious people, not by Catechism alone. When we immerse ourselves thoroughly in all mystical acts of the Church enumerated above we become mystical as Catholics are supposed to be. Miss one and we are not sucessful. Place a child in surroundings where these things are not; you will not save their religious life by giving them the Catechism to learn and the Bible to read for two hours a day. So much for the attempted acquirement of the virtue of religion, the first point in the cycle of true education, spiritual, religious or secular.
Of course, the howls of condemnation are starting to well up in the throats and minds of many who are reading this blog. So what are my feelings, feelings which to some may be a temptation. Of course you are not being tempted but I do acknowledge my spiritual reality has no meaning for many small 'c' catholics. These catholics, who are also likely to be living in the spiritual reality of being 'fallen' catholics.
What is the reality of the Mass for me and should it be the same for us all? It has to be this I feel because of the unity we must all have with our Sovereign Lord Jesus Christ. That is why we cannot, and that is bishop, synod of bishops, priests or organization of diocesan priests and laity cannot change one vowel, syllable or action in the Mass. Neither should any priest allow through a lack of fortitude, through procrastination, or suggestions from immature and uneducated laity to make one addition to the offering of the mass as unity, for then true unity is absent. We at no time, unlike Christ, none of us laid down upon the cross to have our bodies nailed to the wood and then be raised up for all to see. In fact it cannot be made out to be a lie that most of us avoid any chance that the nailing to the cross for us does or will happen. Many of us unfortunately go out of our way to avoid the suffering this entails. This is why and tell me why the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, when we are properly prepared, and united to Christ by Grace, can only be the greatest act of charity ever made by man, including ourselves. If it is otherwise, it can be said we become another Judas and as St Paul wrote, we eat and drink judgement upon ourselves and woe betide anyone who accepts this, never calling attention to the sacrilege and the blasphemy it becomes for those who dissent from Paul's teaching. If it is to be as it should an act of remembrance made by us as commanded by God, we must strive to make it thus and in make every effort be in all ways be fully immersed in the charity it is. We must make it a full and complete union in Christ's Charity. If we are not in that State of Grace that the celebration and participation in the Last Supper demands of us, how does our lack of charity effect the offering of the second and third part of the prayer written out below?
We should love and offer in charity as surely we must, the God who suffered and as our brothers and sisters must who we hope are offering the Holy Victim for their own purposes, offering the all Holy victim for the parish our community and for the whole church. Do we not pray, “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of His name, for our good, and the good of all His Holy Church”. I think a point I may make here is that the priest's sacrifice at this part does differ from ours, since it is a priestly duty he performs. It might be better if we said instead of 'the Sacrifice', to pray 'our sacrifice'. So if we look at the prayer do we not ask God to accept our personal offering, the Parish offering and that of all the Church on earth that is holy? What is this Holiness? Consider then the following.
Fr William Most, a great theologian wrote, 'In Mt 5. 48, Jesus said: 'Be you perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.' As we saw in Lumen Gentian §32 Pius XI, in his Encyclical for the third centenary of St. Francis de Sales commented on Mt 5:. 48: 'Let no one think that this invitation is addressed to a small, very select number, and that all others are allowed to stay in a lower degree of virtue. This law obliges everyone, without exception.' In Introduction to the Devout Life 1. 3, the Saint wrote brilliantly on this theme, and also pointed out that the form of holiness varies with the different states of life. It is most essential that each should fulfill the duties of his own state, and not try to live in a different state. For to be holy in the moral sense means simply to do the will of the Father completely, perfectly. That will includes doing the duties of our state in life.
We are catholics and we are bound by Christ's instructions to be righteous as is our Father in Heaven, each according to his or her capabilities. Because we have a wonderful gift of free will, we can freely choose between good and evil. But we also have another magnificent gift of an intellect capable of distinguishing between right and wrong, so reward or punishment may be brought about not so much by the piece of advice itself, as by the way in which it may be taken. Our intellect blessed by Sanctifying Grace is assisted by the Divine Intellect. Intellect has the capacities or attributes of Memory, Understanding and Will. Memory is trained by us to know right and wrong. This comes under catholic teaching and with very definite instructions to do so is a sin. Our memory will last forever. It will cause us such regret and disgust when we move on, into the next world, knowing what we did to be judged harshly. The understanding of right from wrong which aided by our conscience and the natural law will cause or should cause us to be resolute in times of temptations and the occasions of sin, those times when our charity is tested. The times when our will decides, do we malevolently reject God or harm our neighbour? Because if it is only what our will decides, then no one can forbid wicked people to tempt their neighbour into sin him and nothing can force good people from rejecting the temptation and remaining faithful to the good in Charity. It is therefore incumbent upon us to work out how we should celebrate the liturgy. It is our decision if we take part in a state of grace or to commit a sacrilegious or blasphemous act. It is our decision alone and of which we will be judged. Check with your parish priest or check with your bishop. Do it in person or by e mail, ask for his advice on your state of grace, after all he should know you intimately from your frequent attendance at the Sacrament of Confession, Penance and reconciliation.
Before you dismiss this blog, I want you to understand of a priest friend who is very thoughtful of others' predicaments. He had in his parish a former happy times girl. The majority of the parish who knew it were mortally offended with their view of sin. They constantly reviled the woman to the priest. They did not know that every week the woman confessed her sins and gave the priest cash that he would offer a mass every day for their, her antagonists, salvation and forgiveness.

 

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