Monday, May 3, 2010

St. Vincent Ferrer, The Spiritual Life: On the means of persevering in sobriety and abstinence

St. Vincent Ferrer, The Spiritual Life, Chapter IX: "In order to continue in abstinence and sobriety, live always in fear, remembering that this virtue comes only from God; and beg of Him grace to persevere in its practice. If you would be upheld therein without failure, neither judge nor condemn others; stifle the movements of indignation which you feel against those who observe not the necessary rules in regard to eating. Pity them, pray for them, and excuse them as much as you are able. Bear in mind that you are no more than others in this respect; that it is Jesus Christ Who upholds you by His grace, not in consideration of your merits, but solely by His mercy. You will remain firm, if you cherish these thoughts."

"For, why have so many, who courageously began and made great progress in abstinence and other virtues, fallen into bodily dejection and weariness of spirit? It is because presumption and pride made them confident of themselves, and filled them with indignation against others whose judges they constituted themselves, and whom they interiorly condemned. Hence, God withdrawing from them the gifts of His grace, they lost their primitive fervor; and falling into the opposite extremity and into a state of indifference, they have become sick and infirm; so that in the end, by striving to recruit their health, they have exceeded in this the bounds of strict moderation, and are become more delicate and intemperate than those whom they previously condemned.

"I have known many such who have fallen into this misfortune; God permitting, as usual, that they who rashly condemn others should fall into the same faults which they reprove, and sometimes even into much greater. Serve then the Lord with fear and trembling; and when you are elated at the remembrance of His bounties which He has bestowed on you, reprehend and correct yourself, fearing lest He be irritated against you, and you perish by departing from the right path. Act thus, and you will remain firm and stable; for these are the means most agreeable to the All-powerful Lord, whereby you can resist."

The above words of St. Vincent should be applied not only in matters of the carnal appetite but , especially in these troubled times, they should also be applied to others who do not hold to the Catholic Faith. For the same is true, it is not by our own industry or power or merit that we have come to know and believe God's truth, but rather by God's mercy, by which He pleases Himself to call the lowest of the low, such as myself, who am struggling against my own multitudes of imperfections, faults and temptations.

HOW DARE we think we are BETTER than any other person, for God could just as easily have called any of the number of bad willed Protestants or atheists or Muslims in the world to the Truth, and left us in our own prior bad will.

Certainly we must admonish bad willed heretics and non-Catholics not only ONCE but TWICE, before avoiding them, but we must not allow ourselves to succumb to the deceit of the devil, whereby he flatters us and puffs us up with self-righteous pride. If God withdraws His grace, which He DOES NOT OWE US, then it is us who could become the bad willed heretics, by our own perverse machinations.

Praise be to Almighty God, our Saviour Jesus Christ, whose judgments are unsearchable!

O Lord, sustain us!
Blessed Mary Ever Virgin, Mother of God, help us!

What Must You Do To Get to Heaven?

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