Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Everything is grace from the first movement of the free will towards Faith through Hope, and towards Charity. When God grants a soul the grace towards conversion, that first movement, or stirring, which is the seed of Charity Itself, moves the soul towards the theological virtue of Faith:"If you love Me keep My commandments." Since the first act of conversion towards faith is obedience to the commands of Christ, then it is an act of Charity, though not perfect Charity, but the beginnings of Charity.

The beginning of faith is a gift of God. It contains the infused knowledge of what the world is, how useless it is, how one has wasted so much time indulging in it, and as a consequence, how far one is away from God.

Then fear enters the soul. Suddenly the person sees the need to hurry up lest he be caught unprepared for death. This fear is the beginning of wisdom and the beginning of the virtue of Charity.

He briefly reasons out how fleeting are the transitory things of the world and then chooses to abandon the worldly life. Suddenly, he receives the initial stages of knowledge. He begins to see that all worldly things are vanity and wonders how come people are running after them. The gift and grace from God makes him certain that he is looking at the right direction.

This is followed by amazement at one’s stupidity. This discovery inspires the first degrees of humility mentioned by St. Thomas of Aquinas quoting St. Gregory and St. Benedict. St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Bernard also enumerate these same degrees of humility.

Infused knowledge and understanding, which is the approach towards wisdom, are further given because the soul has become humble. Since all graces lead to union with God, the soul begins to be conscious of God’s presence as the only one that can satisfy the yearnings of the soul.

But the idea of God still surpasses the capability of the human soul, even the soul endowed with the first stirrings of grace. The soul finds itself stupefied and silent in His presence. Its prayer is reduced to silence. Admitting that it is in a completely unknown realm, the soul prays that God be his truth, way and life. God obliges in different ways. Sometimes to invite the soul to greater humility and deeper prayer He demands that the soul consult other wayfarers like himself. Maybe St. Thomas of Aquinas, St. Francis de Sales, St. Teresa of Avila or St. John of the Cross or Ven. Luis de Granada.

At this point, sins loses all attraction. The soul finds great joy in doing God’s will all the time and as long as he keeps to this direction he will be very well on the way to perfect Charity. He becomes more convinced that God is his only source of happiness and is experiencing the Joy that is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

Having experienced the happiness of loving God, the soul would now want to share this with others. So he begins to express this Charity within his soul by teaching others how to acquire this same Charity. He loves God by having reached Charity. Now he loves his neighbor by teaching them how to reach Charity. This, in brief, is the journey from sinfulness to Charity. (Painting is "St. Anthony Abbot during his Temptation by Annibale Carracci, 1598.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

WAR, WAR, WAR, and more WARS.

With so many wars going on we don't need violent movies. But then the wars in the movies are easily resolved by super- heroes. Fantasy, fantasy, fantasy... a neurotic mental state! The world is living in fastasy, believing its problems can be solved by shuttling diplomats in the person of a wonder-woman or by a lone-ranger. The world has gone insane.

Perhaps this insanity began in Heaven when, at the beginning, there was a great war, Michael and the good angels warring against Lucifer and the fallen angels rebelling against God. Since then, there have always been wars. And the cause of them all? Man's rebellion to the will of God.

Here is where I can compare my work as a psychologist years ago and my work as a priest-confessor. In the former it is almost an impossible task to convince a patient that he is not Napoleon Bonaparte. In the confessional it is easier to convince a penitent that he is a sinner, going against God's will. That is the big difference. The world lives in fantasy, the true Christian lives in reality. The imagination of the neurotic runs wild, the realist Christian remains stable. It is easy to teach a child who is quietly sitting down than one who is running around. Today, both the child and the teachers are shuttling around.

Wars continue, and there seems to be no end to them because no one seems to know the cause. As a consequence, no one seems to know the remedy. All the man-made peace-solutions show gross ignorance, and merely show vested interests in peace-makers. Human solutions have blind spots because of their vested interests. As such they won't work. In the good book, it is said "God's ways are not man's ways." Shall we not try God's ways? A priest, supposedly an expert in Middle-East problems (Gilbert Chesterton frowned at this overused word 'expert') gave ten pointers to solve the problem. They were all man-made solutions: he spoke of an arrangement based on international law. He should have gone higher and proposed Divine law. A former Secretary of State of the Vatican also spoke as a private person: his solution was also lop-sided.

Pope Benedict XVI has already given the solution. But the world has not listened to him, just as it had never listened to his predecessors. He said, the Gospel is the solution. The Catholic Church has been saying that for the last 2,000 years. She has never been proved wrong but nobody has ever tried her solution, as Chesterton has said.

All wars have its origin from that great war in heaven between the forces of good and evil. We are just pawns. But wars are started by those under the spell of original sin, the cause of all wars, sparked by that spiritual war within man, between our concupiscence and the faculties of the soul. It is a vicious spritual warfare where the stakes are eternal. And the wars we see around us are but a mere shadow of that battle.

But, even Christians go to war against Christians. Why? Because they are not Christian enough.

There was a great war in heaven; the Angels against the fallen ones. That war was transfered into the hearts of men. And it is that unresolved war that made Cain kill his brother Abel and makes a man kill another who has done him no wrong. We have returned to the worst kind of paganism, Hilaire Belloc once said; the paganism of Carthage, Chesterton would add, where we worship the devil. (Painting by Luca Giordano, 1634, "The Archangel Michael Hurls the Rebellious Angels into the Abyss.")