Patience

Patience is a virtue is an old “proverbial” phrase that refers to one of the seven heavenly virtues. This phrase has even been used in popular culture pointing out that patience isn’t always easily to practice, but it can be easily accessible if one so chooses to exercise it. Popular music has also allocated the need for more patience, which comes from a 1980s song that says, “all we need is a little patience.” Even secularism acknowledges the need for more patience.

“Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.” –St. Francis de Sales

The seven heavenly virtues are a response to the opposition of the seven deadly sins. In the case of patience, the deadly sin is wrath.

Forgiveness and mercy stem from patience, but in order to grasp the importance of this virtue, we also have to understand its formidable opposition–wrath. Wrath, or anger, is a powerful emotion. Anger in itself is not a sin, the virtue of patience allows one to reciprocate so that anger does not bloom into mortal sin.

“The term virtue is from the word that signifies man; a man’s chief quality is fortitude. Taken in its widest sense virtue means the excellence of perfection of a thing, just as vice, its contrary, denotes a defect or absence of perfection due to a thing. In its strictest meaning, however, as used by moral philosophers and theologians, it signifies a habit superadded to a faculty of the soul, disposing it to elicit with readiness acts conformable to our rational nature.” –Catholic Encyclopedia

Like any other virtue such as chastity, honesty, and humility, patience has to be put into action with a bit of practice. Habits have to be formed, much like charity. You choose to love God and neighbor. It doesn’t happen on its on accord. No. Virtues have to be learned and practiced. The seven deadly sins points to our own selfish desires. The heavenly virtues takes the focus from the individual and shines its light towards God and others.

The seven deadly sins are engrossed around the sin of sins–pride. Love or charity is the fuel needed to practice the heavenly virtues such as patience. With free will comes choice. We choose to either have patience or wrath. We choose. It is true that temptation plays a role in that choice, heavenly virtues can lead us away from temptation and sin, and help us grow closer to Christ.

“Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is ‘timing’ it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.” –Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

We can look to the Holy Family to inspire us to pray for more patience in our life. In the story of the Finding in the Temple (Luke 2:41-52), the Holy Family along with relatives travelled to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. After they sojourned in Jerusalem for the Passover they returned home. Mary and Joseph noticed Jesus was not in the caravan. They lost Jesus. Contemplate that for a moment. Mary and Joseph lost God. For three days they went looking for Him and finally found Jesus in the temple. Jesus said, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Imagine the anxiety Mary and Joseph faced those three days looking for the boy Christ. How it took a great deal of patience, to battle the great level of anxiety, looking for Him.

All of the heavenly virtues work together. Patience being one of them. Without the grace of charity in the soul, patience along with the other virtues won’t be strong enough when tested.

In order to exercise the virtue of patience, or any other virtue for that matter, the person must be able to recognize if, when, and how frequent that virtue is being utilized. You have to be able to recognize the moments. Take an inventory how often you show anger, or any level of impatience. Also look for signs of depression or anxiety. It may be beneficial to ask your spouse, children, relatives, or friends if you’re patient. They’ll be honest I’m sure.

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” –St. Augustine of Hippo

Virtues like patience can be obtained if you so choose. It’s a choice. Much like charity, you choose to love even when the desire isn’t there. It takes strength and it takes exercising the other virtues to help gain the level of patience needed to grow closer to God. Continue to pray and fast for patience. Patience is a virtue and we could stand just a little more patience.

by John Connor

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Distractions and the Devout Life
Battling Sin
Forgiveness is Divine

Welcome to the Masquerade

The Roman Empire was a hostile environment for Christians prior to its tolerance by the Emperor Constantine in the 4th century. Even when the Romans allowed Christians to freely practice Catholicism there was still a taste of disdain between Catholics and pagans.

To be a Catholic in the first three centuries, prior to its tolerance, meant your life was on the line. Where as today if you publicly declare devout Catholicity, you may get mocked or ridiculed for believing that life begins at conception, or that marriage is between one man and one woman. You may even get bantered for being too traditional or orthodox. Sure there may be some jeering here and there, but for the early Christians you could be martyred for publicly proclaiming to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

Some people were content to closet their faith and wear masks. Not physical masks, but spiritual, in order to avoid martyrdom. While other Catholics chose not to hide behind a mask. They chose to live and share their faith openly knowing full well it may cost them their life, and were willing to sacrifice their lives in order to preach the truth.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” –John 14:6

Christ is Truth. To be a Catholic, a Christian, we are called to live truth, and to proclaim that truth to others, whether it be family, friends, or strangers. Professing the truth isn’t easy when there’s hostility in the air. Truth is also rigid. It is objective rather than subjective. But we need structure such as the Latin Mass. It focuses our attention on truth. Christ never said it was going to be easy, but He promised everlasting life in heaven if we endure.

The majority of the apostles were martyred for proclaiming the Truth of Catholicism, except for the apostle John who was exiled on the island of Patmos. Many early Christians freely gave up their lives for the faith. They did not wear (spiritual) masks. They did not hide. They openly shared the faith with others. Some may assert, “yes but they were followers of Christ,” which is true, but we too are called to be followers of Christ, to be disciples. That is what it means to be a Catholic. We do not hide from Truth. We affirm Truth. We profess Truth every Mass when we say the Credo.

In every age there has been a masquerade. Some Catholics choose to don their spiritual masks, losing sight of being a witness that attests to the true Catholic faith. While others chose to live authentic traditional Catholic lives publicly. Not afraid to shout from the rooftops that they adore Christ in traditional Catholicism and all the teachings of the Church.

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” –John 10:10

Christ promised us everlasting life. That begins here and now by cooperating, living, and sharing the beauty of traditional Catholicism with others, and to affirm all the teachings of the Church.

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.” –1 Peter 2:21

We are to be imitators of Christ (Ephesians 5:1). As Catholics we are to set the example of Christian Truth to others, to lead and to teach just as Christ did. That means we must not mask what is true and authentic when it comes to Christ or Catholicism.

Everything that occurs within the Body of Christ effects you and I, whether directly and indirectly. This goes for the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of the human person, and the sanctity of gender–masculine men and feminine women.

The masquerade is here and now. We are among wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15), but Christ promised us that if we endure to the end we’ll have everlasting life. Sitting at the Heavenly banquet with Him. It is not too late. It’s never too late to change hearts. We should pray for others that their masks come off. You may know people who claim to be Catholic but don’t necessarily agree with or outwardly live the faith. There will always be to some level a masquerade in the Church, but with authentic traditional Catholicism there is hope. Thankfully more and more Catholics are finding the beauty and Truth in traditional Catholicism.

“You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” –John 8:32

by John Connor

Purgatorio: Prayers and Reparations

Our life on earth is an opportunity to respond to God’s love. We choose our eternal destination, Heaven or Hell, by how we respond to living out our Catholic faith on a daily basis. If we choose to love God, we also desire to follow Him, His Commandments, and the Church’s teachings. It’s not always easy, but the foretaste we consume from the Eucharist encourages us to do just that–live the Catholic faith. The Eucharist is indeed an “appetizer” of what we’ll receive in Heaven.

“Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) Denying oneself is an act of humility. We strip away our selfish pride, and we follow Christ to the best of our ability. Jesus also said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) We are called to love God and neighbor with our whole hearts.

God Almighty does not burden us with unnecessary requests or commands. He prepares us for what heaven will be like. In heaven we will worship God unceasingly (Revelation 4:8). We are invited to the heavenly banquet–the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:9) Preparations indeed are in order.

“People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” –Revelation 21:26-27

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” (CCC 1030)

Nothing unclean may enter Heaven. People who have died in the state of grace, meaning all mortal sins have been forgiven before the time of death, will one day bask in Heavenly Glory. There may be the remains of particular venial sins or even temporal punishment due to the sins already forgiven that require purification before crossing into the threshold of Heaven and experiencing the Beatific Vision.

“We must say many prayers for the souls of the faithful departed, for one must be so pure to enter heaven.” –Saint John Vianney

Purgatory is a purification process where the removal of all venial sins, vices, and inclinations to sin that are not considered grave matter (i.e. mortal sins). This purification allows us to enter into heaven, as clean Souls ready to encounter Christ face to face.

Fire is often the vision we incur when we think about Purgatory. Paul writes, “If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:15) The penalty, or loss, is not referring to the fire of Hell, because the person is saved. No one can be saved in Hell. The purification process may feel like fire, and it may hurt, because we’re being stripped of our desire to sin. For some people humility can be a painful process, but a necessary one. We yearn for Heaven as we are being purified.

“This mountain’s of such sort that climbing it is hardest at the start; but as we rise, the slope grows less unkind. Therefore, when this slope seems to you so gentle that climbing farther up will be as restful as traveling downstream by boat, you will be where this pathway ends, and there you can expect to put your weariness to rest.” – Dante Alighieri, Purgatorio

Praying for one another isn’t limited to our earthly life. No. We can ask the Saints in Heaven to pray for us. We can and, rightly so, should pray for the Souls in Purgatory. The Church has taught for many centuries that we should pray for the Souls in Purgatory. We do not pray for the Souls only on All Souls’ Day. The month of November is dedicated to the Souls in Purgatory, and even beyond that to praying for them daily. In recent decades praying for the Souls in Purgatory has been deemphasized. Requiem Masses and black vestments have been replaced with feast-like Masses with white vestments on All Souls’ Day and funerals. Our mortal minds cannot comprehend the importance of praying for the Souls in Purgatory.

Prayer is powerful and we should not limit our prayers only to the living. One of the great joys we’ll receive in Heaven is to see how our prayers had on the Souls in Purgatory. Once the Souls enter Heaven they too will be praying for us. Praying for the Living and the Dead is a wonderful Spiritual Work of Mercy and the effects of this pious act cannot be downplayed by the implications it can have on others lives.

We join with the Communion of Saints in praying for all Souls, including those in Purgatory. That is a powerful expression of how much we love God and want to feast together at the Banquet in Heaven. We get a foretaste of that at every Mass in the Eucharist. Let us together offer up prayers to the the Souls in Purgatory. They too will pray for us.

by John Connor

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Born to Be Magnificent
Battling Sin
Angels & Demons

Battling Sin

Temptation can manifest from the “three enemies of the soul,” the world, the devil, and the flesh. There is an on-going spiritual war happening. Our soul’s eternal destination is at stake. We all have a choice to make. The Beatific Vision and eternal joy in Heaven, or eternal separation from God (i.e. Hell). God does not send us to Hell. Because we have free will, we can ultimately determine our fate by whether or not we cooperate with God’s Love.

From the residue of original sin, human beings have a tendency to sin by even the most subtle temptations. In order to battle these temptations, we have to be more aware of what tempts us, causing us to sin. We can win this spiritual battle.

It is time to put on the full armor of God.

“Finally, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of his power. Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice, And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace: In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God). By all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the spirit; and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the saints.” –Ephesians 6:10-18

Reminding ourselves of personal sinful struggles is not easy. In fact, it’s easier to hide from them or pretend they don’t exist. Satan will try to convince you that you are a “good person.” Why? Because “good people” believe they’ve “run up a very favorable credit-balance in God’s ledger,” but they risk committing the sin of pride. There is always a need for God’s love and mercy. The devout life is obtainable to anyone who seeks it.

On the opposite end of the spectrum of pride, there is despair. Despair occurs when you think you’re sins are too numerous for God to forgive. Hogwash! There is no sin too great or great in number that God cannot forgive you. The only sins that cannot be forgiven are those that you do not confess to Christ in the confessional. Ask for forgiveness with a contrite heart and your sins will be forgiven when the priest, through Christ, absolves you.

The closer you become to living a saintly life on earth, which is possible by the way, the more aware you become of those particular temptations and sins. It is like shining a light on your “blemishes.”

The saints are great examples of how to live a devout life. They were not born saints. And some were downright scoundrels before they found their conversion. Take St. Augustine of Hippo for instance, before his conversion he lived a very worldly life, even by today’s standards. It was through the prayers of his mother and saint, Monica, that he was transformed anew. Augustine made a choice, and that choice was to live his life for God. He is now a saint and doctor of the Church.

“There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.” –St. Augustine of Hippo

You take a big step forward by admitting you are a sinner in need of God’s love and mercy. God, along with the angels and saints, are on your side in this spiritual war. Christ did not die on the Cross and then leave it up to you to figure out how to conquer sin. Hardly. Christ, whether spiritually present, or physically present in the Eucharist, is leading the charge.

First and foremost, be authentic. Men, do not shy away from your masculinity. We live in an emasculated secular world. Look to Christ as an example of how to be authentic, masculine, Catholic men. Your role is to protect the women around you, both physically and spiritually. Ladies, your femininity is a gift from God. Do not hide from it either. Allow the Blessed Virgin Mary to be your role model of authentic Catholic femininity.

Avoid the near occasion of sin as best you can. Your eyes are the “gateway to the soul.” Custody of the eyes helps to avoid lust in particular. Socialize with other traditional Catholics. Socialize in places that will not lead you to sin, nor be tempted. Sometimes it’s helpful to keep yourself occupied. An idle mind can be dangerous. There are moments where you could feel spiritual dryness as if God has deserted you, or you may fall into depression. Do not let this deter you from living your life for God.

“It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters

The Church has given us great weapons to battle sin and lead us to victory. Start with daily prayer. The Rosary is one of the greatest weapons against evil. Another very powerful prayer is the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. If I’m going into a spiritual battle I want St. Michael at my side. Pray it daily. Praying the Divine Office (Divinum Officium, 1960 Rubrics) is also very spiritually beneficial. Prayer is our communication with God, whether we’re talking or listening to Him. This assures us that God is part of our lives. There’s also mortification. Sometimes denying yourself of something you want can strengthen your soul. You may start with turning down dessert after dinner, or praying the Rosary in place of your favorite television program.

Be aware of your temptations. The spiritual attacks are often subtle. A venial sin can grow into a mortal sin before you know it. You have what it takes to battle the temptations and sins of the world, the flesh, and the evil one, Satan. If you commit a sin, go to Confession. Not only will you be forgiven, but you’ll receive graces to overcome the temptations next time. Then you’ll be prepared to get back into the fray. You can win this spiritual battle.

by John Connor