Saturday, March 25, 2006


Souls are naturally attracted to God. The mind, or intellect, is naturally attracted to Truth, and the Will is naturally attracted to good as dictated by the mind. If the mind makes an error and points to the world as good, the free-will will love the world. If the mind erroneously point to sin as good, the free-will will love sin. When the mind points to sin as good thus an object of love it is because it made a mistake in thinking that sin is beneficial to the soul. There was an error. So the mind must be properly educated. And that is the purpose of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Though God, by Himself, can attract a soul -- and this is how most saints were attracted to God -- a push from behind can be of help sometimes. And this push has been suggested by St. Thomas Aquinas and largely used by the Dominicans. A great push from behind would be the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. Their writings are a great compliment to the attraction God uses to pull souls to Himself.

But this knowledge can sometimes pose a great danger to the soul if the purpose for studying these patristic writings does not coincide with the attraction or dilection that comes from God. For these writings to be a great help -- a real push from behind-- the soul must constantly have the right intention for studying; and this can be no other than wishing to learn how to love God. A little diversion from this purpose, which is to go against the very tradition of the Catholic Church, and this knowledge can puff one up, thus doing more damage than benefit to the soul.

If a soul studies Patristic writings in order to sound erudite, to be known as a patristic scholar, to be able to write a book authored by him, or for whatever reason that has nothing to do with loving God more, then that knowledge would just drag him down, aside from removing the dilection or attraction towards God that the soul experienced in the first place.

This attraction to love God was more than sufficient for saints such as St. Therese and St. Catherine of Genoa. They simply needed that attraction to know and love God. Others, like St. Benedict and St. Thomas Aquinas, though not needing it themselves, saw the help Patristic writers can give to their disciples. However, for us weaklings, we can never underestimate the danger of such a pursuit, if our minds and hearts are diverted in the process.

If a soul, like St. Therese, has such a sufficient attraction to love God, she would not need a push. But for most of us, we would need that push from the Fathers, the Doctors and the Saints. To read other books is definitely dangerous and should be avoided. This curiosity of learning other things, though theological, unless done solely for the purpose of knowing in order to love God, is dangerous. Such curiosity is referred to as the forbidden fruit. (Painting is St. Gregory with St. Ignatius and St. Francis Xavier, 1625.)

Saturday, March 18, 2006


Charity, a very common word used today, is in truth a contemplative-mystical experience. It is a peek into the great mystery of God by our intellect and the consequent falling in love with the mystery that the soul has beheld for a brief moment. It is knowing God the way God knows Himself and loving God the way God loves Himself.This experience takes place in the secret recesses of the soul. It is a meeting between God and soul where God calls all the shots and wherein we need to be raised up to a certain level of divinity to be able to encounter divinity. Charity, a theological virtue that goes with Faith and Hope, is a pure act of grace meant for all, though not all receive it. It is an infused grace.

The charity shown by St. Vincent de Paul and Mother Teresa were over-flows from their contemplative-mystical prayer life. There is a world of difference between their work and the work of the United Nations. Sadly, many Catholic apostolates nowadays look more like the work of the United Nations than the work of Mother Teresa. The work of St. Vincent de Paul was a light. Not the United Nations'.

Since Charity is a state of contemplative prayer, it can only be achieved through prayer….by raising our hearts and minds to God ..... not by pulling God down to our level.

Charity, however, has different degrees for us creatures. There is one for beginners, one for the proficient and one for the mature. When one has reached that degree of the mature -- or Perfect Charity -- there will be NO end in this growth.

For us to be saved, it is sufficient to have the beginnings of the virtue of Charity that usually comes along with faith. But with mortal sin this Charity could disappear though faith could be maintained, unless we, too, commit the sin of infidelity, in which case we lose the faith also. This level of Charity or love of God that goes along with faith is commonly referred to as the state of sanctifying grace. To this, God gives us a certain degree of infused knowledge…knowledge better than most seminarians can acquire in the seminary. Of course we must progress higher from faith to hope wherewith the Holy Spirit gives us understanding of Christ’s teachings better than what most priests have. And then -- some degree of perfection of charity, to which wisdom is given, and which Popes, like our present beloved Pope Benedict XVI, seem to have reached.

Sin and Perfect Charity cannot exist together. So the presence of faith plus some degree of charity is only possible in one without any mortal sin. Hope plus some degree of charity can only exist in one without deliberate venial sin. And Perfect Charity can only exist in one without any sin because by that time the soul is completely ruled by the Theological virtues, the moral virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit. The soul completely belongs to God. So how can it sin? Free will? Well, by that time how can they ever choose sin? By that time sin is so detestable and the heinousness of sin is so evident that even its shadow cannot cross their minds.

Charity is a much superior experience of God than the vision of God that Adam and Eve and the bad angels had before their fall. Pope Benedict has reminded us of the invitation to the wedding banquet and of the required attire : a wedding garment . . . . Charity?

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Pope Benedict has issued “Deus Caritas Est.” Charity is our goal. God wants us to reach the perfection of Charity…THIS IS HAPPINESS. But man tends to put obstacles to reaching it. This obstacle is sin. It is the only obstacle. Sin prevents us from reaching Charity. The devil tempts us to sin – and so the need for.... Prayer, Fasting and Good Works. This is the message of Lent and it teaches us how to counteract sin.

In everyday life, man does two things to sustain his life: to eat daily and to take medicines when he is ill. Christ had left us two general sets of commandments: the first set is meant to direct us to Charity and the other is meant to cure periodic spiritual illnesses that stop or slow us down from proceeding to Charity.

Prayer, Fasting and Good Works, the three elements of Repentance which make up the spirit of Lent are medicines meant to cure. They are not for saints. They are for sinners. Sinners need repentance: saints continue to persevere repenting… just as Mary need not go to the temple for her purification nor for the presentation of Christ, yet she still did, because of her humilty.

Sin may be divided into three categories: sins against self, sins against neighbor, and sins against God. Fasting is supposed to correct the sins against self, Good Works for sins against neighbor and Prayer for sins against God.

Since sins are generally acts of selfishness, something in Fasting, Good Works and Prayer must be given up to cure that selfishness. In Fasting we give up the pleasures of the flesh, in Good Works we give up some of our resources. And in Prayer we give up our will in order to do God’s will.

Prayer, Fasting and Good Works are ways by which we make reparation for sins committed in the past, preserve our souls from committing sins in the present, and they assure that we do not commit sin in the future.

The Rule of St. Benedict is a perfect blend of the right amount of Prayer, Fasting and Good Works done on a typical day. It just has to be lived for one’s entire life until one is righteous in which case these three medicines are no longer needed. In the Gospel on Friday after Ash Wednesday, Christ said that the guests should not fast as long as they are with the bridegroom. Saints are people with the bridegroom and therefore need not fast. But saints are usually the ones who even intensify their Prayer, Fasting, and Good Works! (Painting is "The Temptation of Jesus" by Bartholomaus Brun, 1493-1555)