Thursday, August 28, 2008

Heroic Virtue VIII

Fortitude, which urges us on when difficulty stands in the way of our duty, is itself the heroic element in the practice of virtue; it reaches its apex when it overcomes obstacles which to ordinary virtue are insurmountable.

Fortitude as one of the gifts from the Holy Ghost is a supernatural virtue. It is what, as Christians, we must always have in mind in order to make our actions acceptable for eternal life. But we still keep hold upon the natural principles of fortitude as those whereon grace has to build. "Natural fortitude" could be said to be had for instance by those who disply courage in battle, even unto death for what is seen as a cause worth dying for. Non-Christians can possess this sort of fortitude and as such is of the ordinary form of virtue.

Christian fortitude is mainly not in war strictly so-called, but in moral courage against the evil spirit of the times, against improper fashions, against human respect, against the common tendency to seek at least the comfortable, if not the voluptuous. We need courage also to be patient under poverty or privation, and to make laudable struggles to rise in the social scale. It requires fortitude to mount above the dead level of average Christianity into the region of magnanimity, and if opportunity allow it, of magnificence, which are the allied virtues of fortitude, while another is perseverance, which tolerates no occasional remissness, still less occasional bouts of dissipation to relieve the strain of high-toned morality and religion.

Therefore, fortitude is attainable to every Christian. Heroic levels of fortutide, with God's grace may be won by simple housewives and mothers in the seemingly ordinariness of life. There is heroism in putting on a smile and wiping that nose for the 100th time today, in choosing to be patient against the will the rebels and wants to do anything, be anywhere but home with toddlers all day. The same could be said for anyone who works - who does not deal day in and day out with those who bother, pester and outright offend you? This brings to mind the "little way" of St. Therese the Little Flower:
"Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing."

"For one pain endured with joy, we shall love the good God more forever."

~St. Therese of Lisieux

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Confession Holy Card

French translation: "I shall penetrate your heart with a great abhorrence of sin."

Another great holy card from Micki at Holy Cards for Your Inspiration that I had to share with you. Frequent confession is truly key to achieving holiness in this life. Only through fastidious and frequent examination of conscience, contrition and absolution can we hope to have our souls cleansed and healed by God. Jesus told St. Faustina that He speaks directly to us through the priest in confession: "It is only the lips of the priest, but I who am speaking." (paraphrased) I love the way the Angel Guardian bends to whisper in the ear of the penitent woman - amazing.

Heroic Virtue VII

Painting of Lady Justice, Court of the Mercanzia in Florence, Author unknown: "With her large, gleaming sword and the celestial orb, over which, like any justice, she must reign forever."

Justice, which gives every one his due, is the pivot on which turn the virtues of religion, piety, obedience, gratitude, truthfulness, friendship, and many more. Jesus sacrificing His life to give God His due, Abraham willing to sacrifice his son in obedience to God's will, these are acts of heroic justice.

Justice is here taken in its ordinary and proper sense to signify the most important of the cardinal virtues. It is a moral quality or habit which perfects the will and inclines it to render to each and to all what belongs to them. Of the other cardinal virtues, prudence perfects the intellect and inclines the prudent man to act in all things according to right reason. Fortitude controls the irascible passions; and temperance moderates the appetites according as reason dictates. While fortitude and temperance are self-regarding virtues, justice has reference to others. Together with charity it regulates man's intercourse with his fellow men. But charity leads us to help our neighbour in his need out of our own stores, while justice teaches us to give to another what belongs to him.

Because man is a person, a free and intelligent being, created in the image of God, he has a dignity and a worth vastly superior to the material and animal world by which he is surrounded. Man can know, love, and worship his Creator; he was made for that end, which he can only attain perfectly in the future, immortal, and never-ending life to which he is destined. God gave him his faculties and his liberty in order that he might freely work for the accomplishment of his destiny. He is in duty bound to strive to fulfil the designs of his Creator, he must exercise his faculties and conduct his life according to the intentions of his Lord and Master. Because he is under these obligations he is consequently invested with rights, God-given and primordial, antecedent to the State and independent of it. Such are man's natural rights, granted to him by nature herself, sacred, as is their origin, and inviolable. Beside these he may have other rights given him by Church or State, or acquired by his own industry and exertion. All these rights, whatever be their source, are the object of the virtue of justice. Justice requires that all persons should be left in the free enjoyment of all their rights.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Queen of Heaven

"Mary has been made Queen of heaven and earth by God, exalted above all the choirs of angels and all the saints. She is to be called Queen not only because of her divine motherhood, but also because she, by the will of God, had an outstanding part in the work of our eternal salvation”
~Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Letter, To the Queen of Heaven

Mary, the Blessed Mother of God was Christ's greatest disciple and as such, she was given the greatest share in His suffering. Those who compassionate and carry a devotion to her sorrows will be greatly assisting in this life and rewarded in heaven. Do not forget this!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Heroic Virtue VI

Simon VOUET Allegory of Prudence

[All├ęgorie de la Prudence]

Prudence, which enables us to know what to desire or to avoid, attains heroicity when it coincides with the "gift of counsel", i.e. a clear, Divinely aided insight into right and wrong conduct. As an example of heroic prudence we have St. Paschasius Radbert. About St. Paschasius is written: "So great was his prudence that from his mind a bourn of prudence seemed to flow. For he beheld together the past, the present, and the future, and was able to tell, by the counsel of God, what in each case was to be done"

It is to be observed that prudence, whilst possessing in some sort an empire over all the moral virtues, itself aims to perfect not the will but the intellect in its practical decisions. Its function is to point out which course of action is to be taken in any round of concrete circumstances. It indicates which, here and now, is the golden mean wherein the essence of all virtue lies. It has nothing to do with directly willing the good it discerns. That is done by the particular moral virtue within whose province it falls. Prudence, therefore, has a directive capacity with regard to the other virtues. It lights the way and measures the arena for their exercise. The insight it confers makes one distinguish successfully between their mere semblance and their reality. It must preside over the eliciting of all acts proper to any one of them at least if they be taken in their formal sense. Thus, without prudence bravery becomes foolhardiness; mercy sinks into weakness, and temperance into fanaticism. But it must not be forgotten that prudence is a virtue adequately distinct from the others, and not simply a condition attendant upon their operation. Its office is to determine for each in practice those circumstances of time, place, manner, etc. which should be observed, and which the Scholastics comprise under the term medium rationis. So it is that whilst it qualifies immediately the intellect and not the will, it is nevertheless rightly styled a moral virtue. (source)

From the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas regarding prudence and the gift of counsel:

"Prudence or euboulia (deliberating well), whether acquired or infused, directs man in the research of counsel according to principles that the reason can grasp; hence prudence or euboulia (deliberating well) makes man take good counsel either for himself or for another. Since, however, human reason is unable to grasp the singular and contingent things which may occur, the result is that "the thoughts of mortal men are fearful, and our counsels uncertain" (Wisdom 9:14). Hence in the research of counsel, man requires to be directed by God who comprehends all things: and this is done through the gift of counsel, whereby man is directed as though counseled by God, just as, in human affairs, those who are unable to take counsel for themselves, seek counsel from those who are wiser." (Source)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Heroic Virtue V

The Charity of St. Elizabeth of Hungary
by Edmund Blair Leighton (1853-1922)

St. Elizabeth is one of my many patron saints whose name for me is synonymous with the word and virtue of charity. Today she is best remembered for her charitable works, especially for the establishment of hospitals. Today, dozens of hospitals and medical centers are named for her, several of them founded by the Sisters of St. Francis. Elizabeth lived at a time when the combined disasters of climate, war, pestilence, and poverty caused great suffering, and she became devoted to helping those who had nowhere to turn.

Elizabeth was born in Hungary in 1207. Her short but fruitful life lasted 24 years; she passed away in Marburg, Germany on November 17, 1231. November 17 is the feast day of St. Elizabeth celebrated by the Church.

She began life as part of the Hungarian nobility, daughter of King Andrew II. At age 14, she married the 21-year-old Ludwig IV, of Thuringia (Germany).

Read more about St. Elizabeth here.


Defintion from American Heritage Dictionary:
  1. Provision of help or relief to the poor; almsgiving.
  2. Something given to help the needy; alms.
  3. An institution, organization, or fund established to help the needy.
  4. Benevolence or generosity toward others or toward humanity.
  5. Indulgence or forbearance in judging others. See Synonyms at mercy.
  6. often Charity Christianity The theological virtue defined as love directed first toward God but also toward oneself and one's neighbors as objects of God's love.

Charity inclines man to love God above all things with the love of friendship. The perfect friend of God says with St. Paul: "With Christ I am nailed to the cross. And I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me" (Galatians 2:19-20). For love means union. Its type in heaven is the Divine Trinity in Unity; its highest degree in God's creatures is the beatific vision, participation in God's life in Heaven.

On earth charity is the fruitful mother of holiness, the one thing necessary, the one all-sufficient possession. It is extolled in I Cor., xiii, and in St. John's Gospel and Epistles; the beloved disciple and the fiery missionary of the cross are the best interpreters of the mystery of love revealed to them in the Heart of Jesus. With the commandment to love God above all Jesus coupled another: "And the second is like to it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:31).

The likeness, or the linking of the two commandments, lies in this: that in our neighbor we love God's image and likeness, His adopted children and the heirs of His Kingdom. Hence, serving our neighbor is serving God. And the works of spiritual and temporal mercy performed in this world will decide our fate in the next: "Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom. . .For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat. . . Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:34-40). For this reason the works of charity in heroic degree have been, from the beginning to this day, a distinctive mark of the Catholic Church, the pledge of sanctity in countless numbers of her sons and daughters.

(Excerpts taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Great Video

I thank God for each and very Catholic who is logical, informed and says "yes" to the call to defend our faith so well. Deo Gratias!

Heroic Virtue IV

This is "the rack" of medieval England infamy. This terrible instrument of torture was used to kill one St. Nicholas Owen, here is his brief story which I pray will demonstrate how martyrdom is a perfect example of the theological, and certainly heroic virtue of HOPE:

Saint Nicholas was probably the most important person in the preservation of Catholicism in England during the period of the penal laws against the faith. He was a carpenter or builder, who saved the lives of countless Jesuit priests in England for two decades by constructing hiding places for them in mansions throughout the country. He became a Jesuit lay brother in 1580, was arrested in 1594 with Father John Gerard, and despite prolonged torture would not give the names of any of his Catholic colleagues; he was released on the payment of a ransom by a wealthy Catholic.

Brother Nicholas is believed to have been responsible for Father Gerard's dramatic escape from the Tower of London in 1597.

Nicholas was arrested a third time in 1606 with Father Henry Garnet, whom he had served 18 years, Father Edward Oldcorne, and Father Oldcorne's servant, Brother Ralph Ashley. He refused to give any information concerning the Gunpowder Plot. They were imprisoned in the Tower of London. Nicholas was subjected to such vicious torture, which literally tore his body to pieces, killing him.

Nicholas was also known as Little John and Little Michael and used the aliases of Andrews and Draper.

Born in Oxford, England; died in the Tower of London, 1606; beatified in 1929; canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales; feast day formerly March 12.

Hope, the second theological virtue we will examine is a firm trust that God will give us eternal life and all the means necessary to obtain it; it attains heroicity when it amounts to unshakeable confidence and security in God's help throughout all the untoward events of life, when it is ready to forsake and sacrifice all other goods in order to obtain the promised felicity of heaven. Such hope has its roots in a faith equally perfect. Abraham, the model of the faithful, is also the model of the hopeful "who against hope believed in hope. . .and he was not weak in faith; neither did he consider his own body now dead.. nor the dead womb of Sara" (Romans 4:18-22).

The virtue of heroic hope especially comes to life for us when we examine the lives and particularly the deaths of the martyrs. They gave their lives rather than compromise their faith and thus exchange finite and perishable earthly life for infinite and eternal life with God in heaven. I cannot say this for certain, but I suspect that from hope springs perseverance, the kind which prevents us from falling into apostasy when faced with persecution. For Catholics this is commonly transmitted to us through the actual grace of God in the holy sacrament of Confirmation.

As an aside, did you know that confirmation places upon your souls an indelible seal? This seal cannot be removed by anything and goes with each soul either into heaven, or hell. I can only imagine that in heaven this serves only to increase your share in Christ's glory, but in hell it shall serve to increase that poor soul's suffering for all eternity.

"Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you. But rejoice to the extent that your share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of Glory and of God rests upon you. But let no one among you be made to suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as an intriguer. But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name. For it is time for the judgment to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, how will it end for those who fail to obey the gospel of Christ? 'And if the righteous one is barely saved, where will the godless and the sinner appear?' As a result, those who suffer in accord with God's will hand their souls over to a faithful creator as they do good." (1 Peter 4:12-19)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Heroic Virtue III

St. Monica with her son St. Augustine of Hippo, whom God converted through her mother's perseverance in prayer for the conversion of his life of dissipation and heresy. When I think of models of heroic virtue, St. Monica always shines forth in my mind.

The few who become saints in this life are the heroes of virtue, the candidates for the honors of the altar, the saints on earth -who become the canonized saints of heaven after death.

Together with the four cardinal virtues the Christian saint must be endowed with the three theological virtues, especially with Divine charity, the virtue which informs, baptizes, and consecrates, as it were, all other virtues; which unifies them into one powerful effort to participate in the Divine life. Found in the Church's exhaustive investigation, the "proofs of heroicity" are required in the process of beatification.

As charity stands at the summit of all virtues, so faith stands at their foundation. For by faith God is first apprehended, and the soul lifted up to supernatural life. Faith is the secret of one's conscience; to the world it is made manifest by the good works in which it lives, "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:2). Such works are:

1. The external profession of faith

2. Strict observance of the Divine commands

3. Prayer

4. Filial devotion to the Church

5. The fear of God

6. The horror of sin

7. Penance for sins committed

8. Patience in adversity

All or any of these attain the grade of heroicity when practiced with unflagging perseverance, during a long period of time, or under circumstances so trying that by them men of but ordinary perfection would be deterred from acting. Martyrs dying in torments for the Faith, missionaries spending their lives in propagating it, the humble poor who with infinite patience drag out their wretched existence to do the will of God and to reap their reward hereafter, these are heroes of the Faith.

Read the list above, read them again, copy them down and post them where you can see them every day, study them, strive to live them, pray to God to help you attain each and every one. If you lack the strength, the courage, even the will - ask God for these things as well. He will order all things unto your sainthood if you ask Him too. It is His holy will that we all become saints. Amen+

Excerpts taken from Catholic Encyclopedia

Monday, August 4, 2008

We must perservere

"Remain firm, like the anvil under the hammer. The good athlete must take punishment in order to win. And above all we must bear with everything for God, so that he in turn may bear with us. Increase your zeal. Read the signs of the times. Look for him who is outside time, the eternal one, the unseen who became visible for us…" —St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to Polycarp, The Liturgy of the Hours, Vol III, pg. 564-565

Friday, August 1, 2008

Heroic Virtue II

St. Thomas Aquinas
Philosopher, theologian, Doctor of the Church (Angelicus Doctor)
Patron of Catholic universities, colleges, and schools
Born at Rocca Secca in the Kingdom of Naples, 1225 or 1227
Died at Fossa Nuova, 7 March, 1274

Heroic virtue is the possession of saints and a great gift from the Almighty, attained after a time of purification. Such a degree of virtue belongs only to souls already purified from all attachment to worldly things, but strongly attached to God. St. Thomas (I-II:61:4) says:

"Virtue consists in the following, or imitation, of God. Every virtue, like every other thing, has its type [exemplar] in God. Thus the Divine mind itself is the type of prudence; God using all things to minister to His glory is the type of temperance, by which man subjects his lower appetites to reason; justice is typified by God's application of the eternal law to all His works; Divine immutability is the type of fortitude. And, since it is man's nature to live in society, the four cardinal virtues are social [politicae] virtues, inasmuch as by them man rightly ordains his conduct in daily life. Man, however, must raise himself beyond his natural life unto a life Divine: 'Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect' (Matthew 5:48). It is, therefore, necessary to posit certain virtues midway between the social virtues, which are human, and the exemplary virtues, which are Divine. These intermediate virtues are of two degrees of perfection: the lesser in the soul still struggling upwards from a life of sin to a likeness with God -- these are called purifying virtues [virtutes purgatoriae]; the greater in the souls which have already attained to the Divine likeness -- these are called virtues of the purified soul [virtutes jam purgati animi]. In the lesser degree, prudence, moved by the contemplation of things Divine, despises all things earthly and directs all the soul's thought unto God alone; temperance relinquishes, as far as nature allows, the things required for bodily wants; fortitude removes the fear of departing this life and facing the life beyond; justice approves of the aforesaid dispositions. In the higher perfection of souls already purified and firmly united with God, prudence knows nothing but what it beholds in God; temperance ignores earthly desires; fortitude knows nothing of passions; justice is bound to the Divine mind by a perpetual compact to do as it does. This degree of perfection belongs to the blessed in heaven or to a few of the most perfect in this life."