Heaven Knows Anything Doesn't Go
Thomas A. Droleskey
Holy Mother Church focuses our attention on "end times" in the final weeks of the liturgical week that are now upon us. We must be conscious at all times of the fact that this very day could be our own "end times," that is, the day on which we are called to render an account of our lives at the moment of our Particular Judgments. While we must make plans as befits our states-in-life to provide for the future as though we were going to alive for a long time, we must also be mindful that an accident or a stroke or a sudden heart or some violent tragedy could take our lives in a flash.
Our Lord Himself drove this point home on many occasions. Here are just two:
But of that day and hour no one knoweth, not the angels of heaven, but the Father alone. And as in the days of Noe, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even till that day in which Noe entered into the ark, And they knew not till the flood came, and took them all away; so also shall the coming of the Son of man be. Then two shall be in the field: one shall be taken, and one shall be left.
Two women shall be grinding at the mill: one shall be taken, and one shall be left. Watch ye therefore, because ye know not what hour your Lord will come.But know this ye, that if the goodman of the house knew at what hour the thief would come, he would certainly watch, and would not suffer his house to be broken open. Wherefore be you also ready, because at what hour you know not the Son of man will come. Who, thinkest thou, is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath appointed over his family, to give them meat in season.
Blessed is that servant, whom when his lord shall come he shall find so doing. Amen I say to you, he shall place him over all his goods. But if that evil servant shall say in his heart: My lord is long a coming: And shall begin to strike his fellow servants, and shall eat and drink with drunkards: The lord of that servant shall come in a day that he hopeth not, and at an hour that he knoweth not: And shall separate him, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Mt. 24: 36-51)
And he spoke a similitude to them, saying: The land of a certain rich man brought forth plenty of fruits. And he thought within himself, saying: What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said: This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and will build greater; and into them will I gather all things that are grown to me, and my goods. And I will say to my soul: Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years take thy rest; eat, drink, make good cheer. But God said to him: Thou fool, this night do they require thy soul of thee: and whose shall those things be which thou hast provided? (Lk. 12: 16-20)
To strive for Heaven means to be willing to be detached from the things of this earth below. We take nothing with us to our Particular Judgments except the actions and words and thoughts of our lives. This is why we should use these weeks at the end of the liturgical year to take stock of how immersed we might be in the things of the world, being prepared to do a metaphorical "fall cleaning" of the "clutter" we have permitted to prevent us from seeing the world clearly through the eyes of the true Faith and of preferring the things of Heaven to the things of this passing world. Now is a very good time to consider whether we are living as befits redeemed creatures, whether we are willing to withdraw more and more from the influences and events of a world that does not have our eternal happiness in mind.
At a time when so many Catholics across the ecclesiastical divide are content to "lower the bar sanctity" to make this or that compromise with the prevailing trends of the day, whether culturally or politically or socially, it is time for us to get serious about raising the bar of sanctity so that we will indeed strive to cooperate with the graces won for us by the shedding of every single drop of Our Lord's Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross and that flow to us through the loving hands of Our Lady, the Mediatrix of All Graces, to stand ready at any time to make an accounting of our lives before Christ the King as the consecrated slaves of Mary our Immaculate Queen. The process of spiritual growth is a dynamic one. We are either moving closer toward Our Lord or farther away from Him. There is no such thing as "stasis" in the interior life, which is why we must be assiduous about developing, perhaps with a confessor or a spiritual director, a good "plan of life" so as to make sure that our daily prayers are said promptly and that we make each and every day a prayer by means of offering it God through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Believe me, as one who grew up in a very secular household in the 1950s and 1960s, I had a lot to "un-learn," shall we say, from my own childhood and youth as I grew older, especially from teaching in home-schooling programs on Long Island in the early 1990s and observing first-hand how authentically Catholic parents were attempting to raise their children by inspiring them to model their lives on those of the saints as they kept their children away from as much of the popular culture as possible. Although my late parents taught me to despise rock-and-roll--and all other forms of contemporary music--and although I knew that any sort of illegal drug use was a violation of the Fifth Commandment, I was for far too long a devotee of television and news and baseball, wasting untold hours on things that had no relationship at all to the interior life of the soul. The habits of television watching acquired in childhood were accepted as part of what "everyone did with their evenings and spare time. Oh, I worked hard at my studies and in my work as a college professor once that career began in 1974. Spare time, though, was devoted to what I had done as a child: sit in a chair and watch television.
It was not until the late-1970s that the good example of a colleague of mine from Illinois State University taught me to spend time before what was presumed to be the Real Presence of Our Lord in conciliar churches, beginning the process of breaking the stranglehold that the idiot box had had on me before that time. Thus it is, ladies and gentlemen, that this reflection on the necessity of breaking with most everything to do with the popular culture comes from one who had to learn what should be part of a Catholic's sensus Catholicus, that is, making voluntary sacrifices of even legitimate pleasures, no less things that were harmful to the soul as they induced passivity and sloth, in order to do penance for one's own sins and those of the whole world. No canonized saint needed any of the vain pleasures that we take for granted in our own day today. To be serious about our own sanctification we should start to get serious about renouncing any and all concessions to a "culture" that not only does not take man's Last End in mind but actually makes war upon man's First Cause and the entirety of His Deposit of Faith relentlessly.
Some might protest that it is to be a Jansenist or a Manichean to insist on a voluntary renunciation of many of the pleasures of the world. Well, consider what Our Lord taught to the man who wanted to be perfect but was unwilling to sell that he owned, that is, he was unwilling to be so attached to Our Lord that the things of this world had no hold on him at all:
And behold one came and said to him: Good master, what good shall I do that I may have life everlasting? Who said to him: Why asketh thou me concerning good? One is good, God. But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He said to him: Which? And Jesus said: Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness. Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The young man saith to him: All these I have kept from my youth, what is yet wanting to me?
Jesus saith to him: If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me. And when the young man had heard this word, he went away sad: for he had great possessions. Then Jesus said to his disciples: Amen, I say to you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. And when they had heard this, the disciples wondered very much, saying: Who then can be saved?
And Jesus beholding, said to them: With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible. Then Peter answering, said to him: Behold we have left all things, and have followed thee: what therefore shall we have? And Jesus said to them: Amen, I say to you, that you, who have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the seat of his majesty, you also shall sit on twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting. And many that are first, shall be last: and the last shall be first. (Mt. 19: 16-30)
There is a blessed reward that awaits those who seek to strive for perfection despite their sins and failings. In a world of comfort, luxury, ease and convenience, the call to seek mortification and penance as prayerful slaves of Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart seems almost counterintuitive to many Catholics, once again, across the ecclesiastical divide. However, the saints have taught us from time immemorial that it is indeed by divesting ourselves of earthly attachments that we can live in true joy as we give thanks for the opportunity to save sinners from Hell by offering up every little annoyance and difficulty we encounter throughout each day to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. True joy can only be had if we are willing to make the Catholic Faith the defining aspect of everything we do or so, of every moment we spend, of every conversation we have. of every one of aspirations, of who we are and where we want to spend eternity.
Our Lord Himself drove this point home in the Sermon on the Mount:
Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust, and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through, nor steal.
For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also. The light of thy body is thy eye. If thy eye be single, thy whole body shall be lightsome. But if thy eye be evil thy whole body shall be darksome. If then the light that is in thee, be darkness: the darkness itself how great shall it be! No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment?
Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they? And which of you by taking thought, can add to his stature by one cubit? And for raiment why are you solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin. But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. And if the grass of the field, which is today, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, God doth so clothe: how much more you, O ye of little faith?
Be not solicitous therefore, saying, What shall we eat: or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you. Be not therefore solicitous for tomorrow; for the morrow will be solicitous for itself. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof. (Mt. 6: 19-34)
The duty to develop a detachment from the things of this world is one that parents must teach their children, which is why it is necessary in today's environment to forbid the television (save, possibly, for the playing of videos of the lives of the saints and topics of the Faith) and to forbid contact with those who watch television and will discuss same readily and indiscriminately. Although the technology of television is morally neutral, the devil has captured that technology to transmit images, sometimes overtly, sometimes subtly or subliminally, that burnish themselves into our souls and may never be extirpated. Please don't tell me that we can "turn things around" with respect to television program one day if we write enough letters to network officials, people who spit on us as they attack us. There must be a "zero tolerance" policy with respect to television and motion pictures (once again, save exceptions such as The Passion of the Christ or Therese) and video games (about which I never write because I have no personal experience with them at all other than being told by those who have had such experiences that such "games" are indeed demonic) and contemporary music.
Some might protest once again by saying that this is "denying" children certain legitimate pleasures. Nonsense. I know all about the "pleasures" of television when its programming was inoffensive (but not harmless as it conveyed the message of religious indifferentism and human self-redemption, as it accustomed us to passivity and sloth rather than reading about the lives of the saints or spending time in prayer). No one can assert with a straight face today that there is anything "innocent" about television programming. Even the discussions on the "talking head" programs are sometimes laced with double-entendres. This is true also on radio, where the "conservative" Rush Limbaugh, among many others, has been known to make sophomoric, scatological references now and again. As I have noted before in the context of commentaries on viewing the world clearly as disciples of Christ the King, those who do not accept the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ as it must be exercised by the Catholic Church have no "insights" to offer you. Why put up with their banality as they lack of modesty of speech assaults your immortal souls?
Indeed, one cannot even watch professional sports without cutaway shots of immodestly attired spectators (both men and women) and without commercials that glorify immorality and indecency and vulgarity. The saints got to Heaven without being addicted to spectator sports, which are part of the bread and circuses of our own day. Once again, I have firsthand experience as an offender in this regard, having made compromises with the horrible music that began to blared at William A. Shea Municipal Stadium in 1980 and the hideous images that began to be displayed on the DiamondVision screen in left centerfield in 1982. Yes, I walked out in 2002 and I have not been back. Shame on me, however, for not walking out sooner than I did. We can live without watching or even listening to events that make handsome profits on making revenues by selling advertising to merchants interested in the despoiling of our immortal souls. One can follow the news of such things if one wants without imperiling one's immortal soul or, worse yet, exposing one's children quite blithely and unthinkingly to these grave dangers to their own immortal souls. Children should be in the habit of reading about the saints and learning how to memorize their prayers, not aping the bad habits our pluralist culture taught us when we were young.
Look, let's be blunt: those possessed of the Calvinist mentality believe that is the "market" that should drive all things in life, including popular culture. A Catholic must not let himself succumb to the demonic, demented evils of Calvinism. A Catholic must not participate in things that are offensive to God and injurious to his own immortal souls and those of others, starting with our own family members. We must seek to insulate our children as far as is possible, which means limiting their contact with children who are immersed in the culture, from those things in this passing, mortal vale of tears which might impede their exclusion from Heaven. It is far better to be excluded from the eternally death-dealing ways of the fads of this world rather than to be excluded from the possession of the Beatific Vision for all eternity.
God expects great things of us. He does not want us to be mediocre or lukewarm, having told Saint John the Evangelist what would happen to us if we became lukewarm in the interior life of the soul:
But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest: I am rich, and made wealthy, and have need of nothing: and knowest not, that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. I counsel thee to buy of me gold fire tried, that thou mayest be made rich; and mayest be clothed in white garments, and that the shame of thy nakedness may not appear; and anoint thy eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. Such as I love, I rebuke and chastise. Be zealous therefore, and do penance. Behold, I stand at the gate, and knock. If any man shall hear my voice, and open to me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
To him that shall overcome, I will give to sit with me in my throne: as I also have overcome, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. (Apoc. 3: 16-22)
We must take pains to censor what we listen to and see. We must take pains to censor what our children listen to and see. Pope Leo XIII issued an Apostolic Constitution, Officiorum ac Munerum, January 25, 1897, to remind Catholics that the Church is the business of censoring bad books, something that the conciliar church has mostly abandoned in the name of "religious liberty." Pope Leo had earlier condemned the schemes of the Freemasons to promote licentiousness in the means of the mass media extant in the late-Nineteenth Century. This is what Pope Leo wrote in Humanum Genus, April 20, 1884:
Wherefore we see that men are publicly tempted by the many allurements of pleasure; that there are journals and pamphlets with neither moderation nor shame; that stage-plays are remarkable for license; that designs for works of art are shamelessly sought in the laws of a so-called verism; that the contrivances of a soft and delicate life are most carefully devised; and that all the blandishments of pleasure are diligently sought out by which virtue may be lulled to sleep. Wickedly, also, but at the same time quite consistently, do those act who do away with the expectation of the joys of heaven, and bring down all happiness to the level of mortality, and, as it were, sink it in the earth. Of what We have said the following fact, astonishing not so much in itself as in its open expression, may serve as a confirmation. For, since generally no one is accustomed to obey crafty and clever men so submissively as those whose soul is weakened and broken down by the domination of the passions, there have been in the sect of the Freemasons some who have plainly determined and proposed that, artfully and of set purpose, the multitude should be satiated with a boundless license of vice, as, when this had been done, it would easily come under their power and authority for any acts of daring.
Pope Pius XI used Divini Illius Magistri, December 31, 1929, to warn parents about the same dangers:
It is no less necessary to direct and watch the education of the adolescent, "soft as wax to be moulded into vice," in whatever other environment he may happen to be, removing occasions of evil and providing occasions for good in his recreations and social intercourse; for "evil communications corrupt good manners."
More than ever nowadays an extended and careful vigilance is necessary, inasmuch as the dangers of moral and religious shipwreck are greater for inexperienced youth. Especially is this true of impious and immoral books, often diabolically circulated at low prices; of the cinema, which multiplies every kind of exhibition; and now also of the radio, which facilitates every kind of communications. These most powerful means of publicity, which can be of great utility for instruction and education when directed by sound principles, are only too often used as an incentive to evil passions and greed for gain. St. Augustine deplored the passion for the shows of the circus which possessed even some Christians of his time, and he dramatically narrates the infatuation for them, fortunately only temporary, of his disciple and friend Alipius. How often today must parents and educators bewail the corruption of youth brought about by the modern theater and the vile book!
Pope Pius XI amplified this concern in a general manner to Catholics of all age in his encyclical letter on motion pictures, Vigilanti Cura, June 29, 1936:
Everyone will agree that recreation of body and soul, in the various forms in which this age has made it available, is a necessity to those who are wearied by the business and troubles of life, but it must be consonant with the dignity of man and the innocence of morals, and its object must be to excite and stir leisure hours to amusements which injure the principles of morality, dignity and honour, and which give occasion for sin, especially to the young, are surely running a grave risk of impairing their greatness and prestige.
Among such amusements, it must be clear to all, the cinema is of great importance, for in these times it is available to all men. Nor need one calculate how many millions take part in these entertainments every day; the number of cinema theatres is growing rapidly among almost every nation, whether in an advanced or early state of civilisation, and the cinema has become the common form of amusement and recreation, not only for the rich, but for every rank of society. It would not be possible to find anything with so much influence over the people, both on account of the very nature of the pictures projected on the screen, and because of the popularity of the films and the accompanying circumstances.
The power of the cinema is due to the fact that it speaks through the medium of living images, which are assimilated with delight and without difficulty, even by those who are untrained and uneducated, and who would be incapable or unwilling to make the efforts of induction or deduction necessary in reasoning. For to read, or to listen to another reading aloud demands a certain concentration and mental effort; an effort which in the cinema is replaced by the delight of a continuous stream of living images presented to the eyes. This power is accentuated in those films in which the voice accompanies the action, for the action becomes thereby even more easy to understand, and the plot may be developed with the added attraction of music. The dances and the scenes of so-called "variety" introduced in the intervals enhance the mental excitement and provide fresh stimuli.
These theatres, being like the school of life itself, have a greater influence in inciting men to virtue or vice than abstract reasoning. They must therefore be made to serve the purpose of disseminating the right principles of the Christian conscience, and must divest themselves of everything that could corrupt and impair good morals.
All men know how much harm is done by bad films; they sing the praises of lust and desire, and at the same time provide occasions of sin; they seduce the young from the right path; they present life in a false light; they obscure and weaken the wise counsels of attaining perfection; they destroy pure love, the sanctity of matrimony and the intimate needs of family life. They seek moreover to inculcate prejudiced and false opinions among individuals, classes of society and the different nations and peoples.
On the other hand, if these plays conform to the best standards, they can exert a most healthy influence on the spectators. They not only give pleasure, but urge men on and excite them to noble ends; they teach most useful lessons; further, they can display to a man the heroism and the glories of his own and of other nations; they can show virtue and truth in an attractive and beautiful light; among the classes of society, the nations and the different races they can arouse, or at least foster, mutual understanding and good will; they can embrace the cause of justice; they can call all men to virtue; and finally they can lend useful aid to a new and more equitable ordering and government of human society.
These considerations of Ours assume more importance from the fact that the cinema does not address its messages to individuals, but to gatherings of men, and that in conditions of time and place which are as well suited to directing men's enthusiasms towards good as towards evil; such mass enthusiasms as experience tells us may degenerate into something approaching madness.
The films are exhibited to spectators who are sitting in darkened theatres, and whose mental faculties and spiritual forces are for the most part dormant. We do not have to go far to find these theatres; they are near our houses, our churches and our schools, so that the influence they exercise and the power they wield over our daily life is very great.
Moreover stories and actions are presented, through the cinema, by men and women whose natural gifts are increased by training and embellished by every known art, in a manner which may possibly become an additional source of corruption, especially to the young. To this are added musical accompaniments, expensive settings, extravagant presentations, and novelty in its most varied and exciting form.
Wherefore especially the minds of boys and young people are affected and held by the fascination of these plays; so that the cinema exercises its greatest strength and power at the very age at which the sense of honour is implanted and develops, at which the principles of justice and goodness emerge from the mind, at which the notions of duty and all the best principles of perfection make their appearance.
But alas! this power, in the present state of affairs, is too often used for harm. Wherefore when we consider the ruin caused among youths and children, whose innocence and chastity is endangered in these theatres, We remember that severe word spoken against the corrupters of youth by Jesus Christ: "But who so shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea" (Matth. xviii. 6-7).
It is therefore most necessary, in these times of ours, that these entertainments should not become schools of corruption, but that they should rather assist in the right education of man and in raising the dignity of morality.
Pope Pius XII wrote Miranda Prorsus, September 8, 1957, to discuss all of the above points in the context of television, then in its seemingly inoffensive infancy but still a cause of concern even at that relatively early date:
But altogether contrary to Christian teaching and the primary end of these media is the purpose and intent of those who would use these inventions solely to advance and advertise political matters or to further their economic purposes, and thus treat this noble cause as if it were solely a business venture.
So too, We cannot approve the stand of those who claim and defend their freedom to depict and display whatever they please, despite the perfectly evident fact that great harm has come to souls in days past as a result of this attitude. For here the issue is not real freedom, which We have discussed above, but unchecked license to express oneself without regard for prudence, even though this be contrary to sound morals and liable to result in serious danger for souls.
The Church encourages and fosters all that really assists in the enrichment of the mind (she is, after all, the patron and support of humane studies and liberal arts), but she cannot tolerate a breach of these rules and norms which direct and guide man to God, his final end. It is not surprising, then, that in a matter requiring such great caution she acts carefully and discreetly, in accordance with the Apostle's instruction: "But test all things; hold fast that which is good. Keep yourselves from every kind of evil."
Wherefore they are certainly to be reproved who assert that the publication of matters which impede or are opposed to the principles of morality should be approved if they conform to technical and artistic norms. In a short address on the fifth centenary of the death of Fra Angelico We said: "Of themselves the liberal arts certainly do not demand direction to a moral or religious function. But if artistic expression, in words, sounds, or images, is equated with false, empty, and confused techniques which are out of harmony with the plan of the Divine Creator; if instead of raising the mind and heart to lofty sentiments it moves them rather to base passions and desires, then it can attract men by it novelty, which does not always have value or virtue, or by its slight content of truth (for truth is present in every being), but such art will have abandoned its position of honor, strayed far from its first and necessary principle, and so be neither universal nor perennial, as is the human spirit to which it speaks."
No Catholic, especially one who has sought the shelter of the Immemorial Mass of Tradition in the catacombs outside of the counterfeit structures of conciliarism, can seek to justify lowering the bar of sanctity by exculpating themselves for participating in things that are offensive to God and thus injurious to the souls for whom He shed every single drop of His Most Precious Blood. We should be intent on the higher things, intent on replicating the sacrificing love of the saints, men and women who considered it to be a great gain to deny themselves the things of this world so as to be counted among the friends of God in this life so that they be might citizens of Heaven for all eternity. Saint Paul noted this precise point in his Epistle to the Colossians:
Therefore, if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above; where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God: Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. For you are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then you also shall appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, lust, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is the service of idols.
For which things the wrath of God cometh upon the children of unbelief, In which you also walked some time, when you lived in them. But now put you also all away: anger, indignation, malice, blasphemy, filthy speech out of your mouth. Lie not one to another: stripping yourselves of the old man with his deeds, and putting on the new, him who is renewed unto knowledge, according to the image of him that created him. (Col. 3: 1-10)
Saint Gertrude the Great, whose feast is celebrated today, November 16, "asked Our Lord for spiritual New Year's gifts for the members of her community." Our Lord's answer to her in the Thirteenth Century is quite applicable to us some eight hundred years later:
"If anyone will generously renounce his own will to seek only My good pleasure, My Divine Heart will illuminate him with a vivid light to know My wishes. I will show him in what he has failed with regard to his Rule, which is the expression of My Will, and will atone with him for all his shortcomings. Like a good master instructing a dearly loved child, I will let him lean on My Heart, will gently point out to him his faults, and will kindly correct what he has done amiss, and supply what he has neglected. And if, as a heedless child, he pays no attention to some points, I will attend to them for him, and make up what he has passed over. The New Year's gift most conducive to My glory that I can bestow on these souls is the desire to please Me in all things, and confiding abandonment to My Divine Heart. I will grant them with the atonement for all their failures of the past year, light and strength to conform themselves henceforward entirely to My holy Will." (Very Reverend Andre Prevot, Love, Peace and Joy: Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus According to St. Gertrude, TAN Books and Publishers, pp. 74-75)
The other great apostle of devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, composed a prayer that should inspire us to abandon our vain attachments to the things of this world as we seek to aspire to the heights of sanctity, knowing that this day could be our very last:
O Divine Heart of Jesus, inexhaustible Source of love and goodness, ah! how I regret that I have forgotten Thee do much and loved Thee so little! O Sacred Heart, Thou dost merit the reverence and love of all hearts which Thou hast cherished so much and laid under infinite obligations. And yet Thou dost receive from the greater number nothing but ingratitude and coldness, and especially from my own heart which merits Thy just indignation. But Thy Heart is all full of goodness and mercy, and of this I wish to avail myself to obtain reconciliation and pardon. O Divine Heart, I grieve intensely when I see myself guilty of such cowardice and when I consider the ungrateful conduct of my wicked heart, which has so unjustly stolen the love that it owes to Thee and bestowed it on myself or on vain amusements.
O Heart most meek, if the sorrow and shame of a heart that recognizes its error can satisfy Thee, pardon this heart of mine for it is sorry for its infidelity and ashamed of the little care which it has taken to please Thee by its love. O Sacred Heart of my Saviour, what could I expect from all this but Thy displeasure and condign punishment if I did not hope in Thy mercy. O, Heart of my God, Heart most holy, Heart to which alone belongs to pardon sinners, do Thou in Thy mercy pardon this poor miserable heart of mine. All its powers unite in a supreme effort to make reparations to Thee for its wanderings from Thee and the disordered application of its love.
Ah! how have I been able hitherto to refuse Thee my heart, I who have so many obligations to make Thee its sole possessor, nevertheless I have done so. But now how I regret that I have wandered away from Thee, from the love of Thee who art the Source of all goodness, in a word, from the Heart of my Jesus, who although needing me not, hast sought me out and lavished Thy favors on me. O adorable Heart of Jesus, is it possible that my heart can have treated Thee thus, my heart which depends entirely on Thy love and thy benefits and which, if Thou shouldst take them from it, would fall into the utmost extremes of misery or be reduced to nothingness? Ah! how I am beholden to Thy goodness, O indulgent Heart of my Saviour, for having borne with me so long in my ingratitude! Oh! how timely Thy mercies come to pardon my poor, inconstant heart!
O Heart of my Jesus, I now consecrate to Thee and give Thee all my love and the source of my love, which is my heart; I give Thee both irrevocably, although with great confusion for having so long refused Thee Thine own possessions. O Divine Heart, my very capability of bestowing my poor hear on Thee is a proof of Thy great love for me, but alas! I have availed myself badly of such a favorable opportunity to merit Thy love and grace. Oh! how great is my confusion at the thought of this! O Heart of my Jesus, reform my faithless heart, grant that henceforth it may bind itself to Thy love by its own, and that it may approach Thee as much in the future as it has wandered away from Thee in the past, and as Thou art the Creator of my heart, may Thou, I beseech Thee, one day give it the crown of immortality.
We simply cannot refuse to give the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus more and more sacrifices as the consecrated slaves of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, which suffered as one with the Sacred Heart of Jesus during Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's Passion and Death. Yes, we must seek to give up the things we like as a sacrifice is no offering unless it hurts and hurts deeply. Our sins wounded Our Lord and His Most Blessed Mother, the Co-Redemptrix of the world, more deeply than anything we can imagine, more deeply than anything other than a handful of genuine mystics have been privileged to learn from Our Lord and/or Our Lady. How can we refuse to give Our Lord more and more offerings through the Immaculate Heart of Mary as we strive to extricate ourselves from the bread and circuses of this passing world in order to store up for ourselves treasure in Heaven? May we pray more Rosaries every day to increase our poor hearts' capacity to love these matchess Hearts of Love. May we go out of our way to spend much time in prayer before the Real Presence of the Prisoner of Life in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Take it from one who has learned to "ditch" an empty past and to find true joy in the freedom that comes from not being tethered to the images and the sounds of the world: you can have more fun than the proverbial barrel of monkeys with your family as each of you strives to create the exact environment that existed in the Holy Family in Nazareth, an environment of authentic charity, holy poverty, and abandonment to the will of God as each served the other while keeping in mind the fact that we want to be with each other for all eternity in Heaven. May the reign of Christ the King be established in our own homes so that some seeds can be planted for its restoration in the world as the fruit of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary our Queen and our Most Blessed Mother.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls! Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for us now and in death's agony.
Vivat Christus Rex!
Our Lady, Queen of All Saints. pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Gertrude the Great, pray for us.
Saint Albert the Great, pray for us.
Saint Josaphat, pray for us.
Saint Gregory the Wonderworker, pray for us.
Saint Vincent de Paul, pray for us.
Saint Augustine, pray for us.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.
Saint Vincent Ferrer, pray for us.
Saint Sebastian, pray for us.
Saint Gerard Majella, pray for us.
Saint Jude, pray for us.
Saint Tarcisius, pray for us.
Saint Lucy, pray for us.
Saint Agnes, pray for us.
Saint Agatha, pray for us.
Saint Bridget of Sweden, pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pray for us.
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, pray for us.
Saint John of the Cross, pray for us.
Saint John Bosco, pray for us.
Saint John Mary Vianney, pray for us.
Pope Saint Pius X, pray for us.
Pope Saint Pius V, pray for us.
Saint Charles Borromeo, pray for us.
Saint Robert Bellarmine, pray for us.
Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us.
Saint Therese Lisieux, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette Soubirous, pray for us.
Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich, pray for us.
Venerable Pauline Jaricot, pray for us.
Francisco Marto, pray for us.
Jacinta Marto, pray for us.
The Longer Version of the Saint Michael the Archangel Prayer, composed by Pope Leo XIII, 1888
O glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, be our defense in the terrible warfare which we carry on against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, spirits of evil. Come to the aid of man, whom God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. Fight this day the battle of our Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in heaven. That cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the Name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay, and cast into eternal perdition, souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. That wicked dragon pours out. as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity. These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on Her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck the sheep may be scattered. Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate thee as their protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.
Verse: Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers.
Response: The Lion of the Tribe of Juda has conquered the root of David.
Verse: Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.
Response: As we have hoped in Thee.
Verse: O Lord hear my prayer.
Response: And let my cry come unto Thee.
Verse: Let us pray. O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy Name, and as suppliants, we implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin, immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all other unclean spirits, who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of our souls.