We Have Not Here a Lasting City
Thomas A. Droleskey
So that we may confidently say: The Lord is my helper: I will not fear what man shall do to me. Remember your prelates who have spoken the word of God to you; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation, Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today; and the same for ever. Be not led away with various and strange doctrines. For it is best that the heart be established with grace, not with meats; which have not profited those that walk in them. We have an altar, whereof they have no power to eat who serve the tabernacle.
For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the holies by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people by his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore to him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise always to God, that is to say, the fruit of lips confessing to his name. (Hebrews 1: 6-15)
"For we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come." We must keep this in mind constantly. Constantly. Although there are people who are looking for "signs" indicating that some sort of catastrophic event, whether planned by the government of the United States of America or by foreign agents of Mohammedan terror cells, we must be aware the end of our own "worlds," if you will, could come this very day. Each day of our lives might be our last. Each day of our lives might be the one upon which we will be called to face Christ the King as our judge at the moment of the Particular Judgment. Holy Mother Church calls upon us to meditate upon the Four Last Things--Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell--before we go to sleep each night. Our meditation on the Four Last Things should include the fact that we must seek out the things of Heaven with ever more single-mindedness, understanding that the world in which we live at present is transitory and must not be confused with our Last End, which is the possession of the glory of the Beatific Vision of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost for all eternity in Heaven.
Naturalism, however, has such a pull on how most people, including traditionally-minded Catholics across the vast expanse of the ecclesiastical divide at the present time, view themselves and the world that they put up a very stiff resistance to any suggestion that we must be careful about how we spend our time, not wasting it on television and videos and bad reading material, and with whom we associate, especially for the sake of our children as well as for the sake of the purity of our own immortal souls. Pleas to avoid the pitfalls of the world are met with protests that it is Jansenist or Manichean to avoid the near occasions of sin offered by the world around us, that "sooner or later" our children must face the "real" world and that it is over-protective to take precautionary measures to afford them some refuge from the refuse that passes for "popular culture" in a world where Christ is recognized as its King and Our Lady is not honored publicly as our Immaculate Queen.
Truth be told, however, those who incant the slogans of "Jansenism" and/or "Manicheanism" to reject advice offered by true bishops and true priests to take measure to protect their children's immortal souls, thus providing a fertile seed ground for the development of saints and the fostering of religious vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated religious life, is founded in the individualism that is of the essence of the Protestantism and Judeo-Masonry that has helped to give us the "joys" of religious indifferentism and cultural pluralism. How sad it is that so many Catholics resent being "told" what to do by a true bishop or a true priest, a man whose immortal soul has been impressed with the indelible seal of the Priesthood and Victimhood of the Chief Priest and Victim of every Mass, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and who is thus charged to do everything get the sheep entrusted to his pastoral care back home to Heaven safely.
The Cure of Ars, Saint John Mary Vianney, would have a pretty tough time with some traditionally-minded Catholics today if he insisted with them, as he insisted with his own flock, that certain aspects of popular culture must be avoided in their entirety. Consider this sermon of the Cure on the matter of human respect, which is how the devil seeks to drag us down to become mired inordinately in the things of this world so that we will not appear to be "too different" to others, thus not winning any disfavor from them:
Whom does the devil pursue most? Perhaps you are thinking that it must be those who are tempted most; these would undoubtedly be the habitual drunkards, the scandalmongers, the immodest and shameless people who wallow in moral filth, and the miser, who hoards in all sorts of ways. No, my dear brethren, no, it is not these people. On the contrary, the devil despises them, or else he holds onto them, lest they not have a long enough time in which to do evil, because the longer they live, the more their bad example will drag souls into Hell. Indeed, if the devil had pursued this lewd and shameless old fellow too closely, he might have shortened the latter's life by fifteen or twenty years, and he would not then have destroyed the virginity of that young girl by plunging her into the unspeakable mire of his indecencies; he would not, again, have seduced that wife, nor would he have taught his evil lessons to that young man, who will perhaps continue to practice them until his death. If the devil had prompted this thief to rob on every occasion, he would long since have ended on the scaffold and so he would not have induced his neighbor to follow his example. If the devil had urged this drunkard to fill himself unceasingly with wine, he would long ago have perished in his debaucheries, instead of which, by living longer, he has made many others like himself. If the devil had taken away the life of this musician, of that dancehall owner, of this cabaret keeper, in some raid or scuffle, or on any other occasion, how many souls would there be who, without these people, would not be damned and who now will be) Saint Augustine teaches us that the devil does not bother these people very much; on the contrary, he despises them and spits upon them.
"So, you will ask me, who then are the people most tempted? They are these, my friends; note them carefully. The people most tempted are those who are ready, with the grace of God, to sacrifice everything for the salvation of their poor souls, who renounce all those things which most people eagerly seek. It is not one devil only who tempts them, but millions seek to entrap them.
"We are told that Saint Francis of Assisi and all his religious were gathered on an open plain, where they had built little huts of rushes. Seeing the extraordinary penances which were being practiced, Saint Francis ordered that all instruments of penance should be brought out, whereupon his religious produced them in bundles. At this moment there was one young man to whom God gave the grace to see his guardian angel. On the one side he saw all of these good religious, who could not satisfy their hunger for penance, and, on the other, his guardian angel allowed him to see a gathering of eighteen thousand devils, who were holding counsel to see in what way they could subvert these religious by temptation. One of the devils said: 'You do not understand this at all. These religious are so humble; ah, what wonderful virtue, so detached from themselves, so attached to God! They have a superior who leads them so well that it is impossible to succeed in winning them over. Let us wait until their superior is dead, and then we shall try to introduce among them young people without vocations who will bring about a certain slackening of spirit, and in this way we shall gain them.'
"A little further on, as he entered the town, he saw a devil, sitting by himself beside the gate into the town, whose task was to tempt all of those who were inside. This saint asked his guardian angel why it was that in order to tempt this group of religious there had been so many thousands of devils while for a whole town there was but one--and that one sitting down. His good angel told him that the people of the town had not the same need of temptations, that they had enough bad in themselves, while the religious were doing good despite all the traps which the Devil could lay for them.
"The first temptation, my dear brethren, which the devil tries on anyone who has begun to serve God better is in the matter of human respect. He will no longer dare to be seen around; he will hide himself from those with whom heretofore he had been mixing and pleasure seeking. If he should be told that he has changed a lot, he will be ashamed of it! What people are going to say about him is continually in his mind, to the extent that he no longer has enough courage to do good before other people. If the devil cannot get him back through human respect, he will induce an extraordinary fear to possess him that his confessions are not good, that his confessor does not understand him, that whatever he does will be all in vain, that he will be damned just the same, that he will achieve the same result in the end by letting everything slide as by continuing to fight, because the occasions of sin will prove too many for him.
"Why is it, my dear brethren, that when someone gives no thought at all to saving his soul, when he is living in sin, he is not tempted in the slightest, but that as soon as he wants to change his life, in other words, as soon as the desire to give his life to God comes to him, all Hell falls upon him? Listen to what Saint Augustine has to say: 'Look at the way,' he tells us, 'in which the devil behaves towards the sinner. He acts like a jailer who has a great many prisoners locked up in his prison but who, because he has the key in his pocket, is quite happy to leave them, secure in the knowledge that they cannot get out. This is his way of dealing with the sinner who does not consider the possibility of leaving his sin behind. He does not go to the trouble of tempting him. He looks upon this as time wasted because not only is the sinner not thinking of leaving him, but the devil does not desire to multiply his chains. It would be pointless, therefore, to tempt him. He allows him to live in peace, if, indeed, it is possible to live in peace when one is in sin. He hides his state from the sinner as much as is possible until death, when he then tries to paint a picture of his life so terrifying as to plunge him into despair. But with anyone who has made up his mind to change his life, to give himself up to God, that is another thing altogether.'
"While Saint Augustine lived in sin and evil, he was not aware of anything by which he was tempted. He believed himself to be at peace, as he tells us himself. But from the moment that he desired to turn his back upon the devil, he had to struggle with him, even to the point of losing his breath in the fight. And that lasted for five years. He wept the most bitter of tears and employed the most austere of penances: 'I argued with him,' he says, 'in my chains. One day I thought myself victorious, the next I was prostrate on the earth again. This cruel and stubborn war went on for five years. However, God gave me the grace to be victorious over my enemy.'
"You may see, too, the struggle which Saint Jerome endured when he desired to give himself to God and when he had the thought of visiting the Holy Land. When he was in Rome, he conceived a new desire to work for his salvation. Leaving Rome, he buried himself in a fearsome desert to give himself over to everything with which his love of God could inspire him. Then the devil, who foresaw how greatly his conversion would affect others, seemed to burst with fury and despair. There was not a single temptation that he spared him. I do not believe that there is any saint who was as strongly tempted as he. This is how he wrote to one of his friends:
'My dear friend, I wish to confide in you about my affliction and the state to which the devil seeks to reduce me. How many times in this vast solitude, which the heat of the sun makes insupportable, how many times the pleasures of Rome have come to assail me! The sorrow and the bitterness with which my soul is filled cause me, night and day, to shed floods of tears. I proceed to hide myself in the most isolated places to struggle with my temptations and there to weep for my sins. My body is all disfigured and covered with a rough hair shirt. I have no other bed than the naked ground and my only food is coarse roots and water, even in my illnesses. In spite of all these rigors, my body still experiences thoughts of the squalid pleasures with which Rome is poisoned; my spirit finds itself in the midst of those pleasant companionships in which I so greatly offended God. In this desert to which I have condemned myself to avoid Hell, among these somber rocks, where I have no other companions than the scorpions and the wild beasts, my spirit still burns my body, already dead before myself, with an impure fire; the Devil still dares to offer it pleasures to taste. I behold myself so humiliated by these temptations, the very thought of which makes me die with horror, and not knowing what further austerities I should exert upon my body to attach it to God, that I throw myself on the ground at the foot of my crucifix, bathing it with my tears, and when I can weep no more I pick up stones and beat my breast with them until the blood comes out of my mouth, begging for mercy until the Lord takes pity upon me. Is there anyone who can understand the misery of my state, desiring so ardently to please God and to love Him alone? Yet I see myself constantly prone to offend Him. What sorrow this is for me! Help me, my dear friend, by the aid of your prayers, so that I may be stronger in repelling the devil, who has sworn my eternal damnation.'
"These, my dear brethren, are the struggles to which God permits his great saints to be exposed. Alas, how we are to be pitied if we are not fiercely harried by the devil! According to all appearances, we are the friends of the devil: he lets us live in a false peace, he lulls us to sleep under the pretense that we have said some good prayers, given some alms, that we have done less harm than others. According to our standard, my dear brethren, if you were to ask, for instance, this pillar of the cabaret if the devil tempted him, he would answer quite simply that nothing was bothering him at all. Ask this young girl, this daughter of vanity, what her struggles are like, and she will tell you laughingly that she has none at all, that she does not even know what it is to be tempted. There you see, my dear brethren, the most terrifying temptation of all, which is not to be tempted. There you see the state of those whom the devil is preserving for Hell. If I dared, I would tell you that he takes good care not to tempt or torment such people about their past lives, lest their eyes be opened to their sins.
"The greatest of all evils is not to be tempted because there are then grounds for believing that the devil looks upon us as his property and that he is only awaiting our deaths to drag us into Hell. Nothing could be easier to understand. Just consider the Christian who is trying, even in a small way, to save his soul. Everything around him inclines him to evil; he can hardly lift his eyes without being tempted, in spite of all his prayers and penances. And yet a hardened sinner, who for the past twenty years has been wallowing in sin, will tell you that he is not tempted! So much the worse, my friend, so much the worse! That is precisely what should make you tremble--that you do not know what temptations are. For to say that you are not tempted is like saying the devil no longer exists or that he has lost all his rage against Christian souls. 'If you have no temptations,' Saint Gregory tells us, 'it is because the devils are your friends, your leaders, and your shepherds. And by allowing you to pass your poor life tranquilly, to the end of your days, they will drag you down into the depths.' Saint Augustine tells us that the greatest temptation is not to have temptations because this means that one is a person who has been rejected, abandoned by God, and left entirely in the grip of one's own passions." (Saint John Mary Vianney, "Beware If You Have No Temptations.")
Saint John Mary Vianney understood the horrors of sin and how we must try to avoid its near occasions as far as is possible, recognizing that there will be temptations that come our way, especially as we attempt to grow in the interior life and very especially after efforts to root out some particular sin or vice have borne fruit by means of 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 into our hearts and souls through the loving hands of Our Lady, the Mediatrix of All Graces. He was unstinting in his efforts to protect his flock. A Jansenist? No. A Catholic.
Consider Saint John Mary Vianney's "Catechism on Sin:"
Sin is the executioner of the good God, and the assassin of the soul. It snatches us away from Heaven to precipitate us into Hell. And we love it! What folly! If we thought seriously about it, we should have such a lively horror of sin that we could not commit it. O my children, how ungrateful we are! The good God wishes to make us happy; that is very certain; He gave us His Law for no other end. The Law of God is great; it is broad. King David said that he found his delight in it, and that it was a treasure more precious to him than the greatest riches. He said also that he walked at large, because he had sought after the Commandments of the Lord. The good God wishes, then, to make us happy, and we do not wish to be so. We turn away from Him, and give ourselves to the devil! We fly from our Friend, and we seek after our murderer! We commit sin; we plunge ourselves into the mire. Once sunk in this mire, we know not how to get out. If our fortune were in the case, we should soon find out how to get out of the difficulty; but because it only concerns our soul, we stay where we are.
We come to confession quite preoccupied with the shame that we shall feel. We accuse ourselves by steam. It is said that many confess, and few are converted. I believe it is so, my children, because few confess with tears of repentance. See, the misfortune is, that people do not reflect. If one said to those who work on Sundays, to a young person who had been dancing for two or three hours, to a man coming out of an alehouse drunk, "What have you been doing? You have been crucifying Our Lord!" they would be quite astonished, because they do not think of it. My children, if we thought of it, we should be seized with horror; it would be impossible for us to do evil. For what has the good God done to us that we should grieve Him thus, and put Him to death afresh -- Him, who has redeemed us from Hell? It would be well if all sinners, when they are going to their guilty pleasures, could, like Saint Peter, meet Our Lord on the way, who would say to them, "I am going to that place where thou art going thyself, to be there crucified afresh. " Perhaps that might make them reflect.
The saints understood how great an outrage sin is against God. Some of them passed their lives in weeping for their sins. Saint Peter wept all his life; he was still weeping at his death. Saint Bernard used to say, "Lord! Lord! it is I who fastened Thee to the Cross!" By sin we despise the good God, we crucify the good God! What a pity it is to lose our souls, which have cost Our Lord so many sufferings! What harm has Our Lord done us, that we should treat Him so? If the poor lost souls could come back to the earth! if they were in our place! Oh, how senseless we are! the good God calls us to Him, and we fly from Him! He wishes to make us happy, and we will not have His happiness. He commands us to love Him, and we five our hearts to the devil. We employ in ruining ourselves the time He fives us to save our souls. We make war upon Him with the means He gave us to serve Him.
When we offend the good God, if we were to look at our crucifix, we should hear Our Lord saying to us in the depths of our soul, "Wilt thou too, then, take the side of My enemies? Wilt thou crucify Me afresh?" Cast your eyes on Our Lord fastened to the Cross, and say to yourself, "That is what it cost my Saviour to repair the injury my sins have done to God!" A God coming down to earth to be the victim of our sins, a God suffering, a God dying, a God enduring every torment, because He would bear the weight of our crimes! At the sight of the Cross, let us understand the malice of sin, and the hatred we ought to feel for it. Let us enter into ourselves; let us see what we can do to make amends for our poor life.
"What a pity it is!" the good God will say to us at our death; "why hast thou offended Me -Me, who loved thee so much?" To offend the good God, who has never done us anything but good; to please the devil, who can never do us anything but evil! What folly! Is it not real folly to choose to make ourselves worthy of Hell by attaching ourselves to the devil. when we might taste the joys of Heaven, even in this life, by uniting ourselves to God by love? One cannot understand this folly; it cannot be enough lamented. Poor sinners seem as if they could not wait for the sentence which will condemn them to the society of the devils; they condemn themselves to it. There is a sort of foretaste in this life of Paradise, of Hell, and of Purgatory. Purgatory is in those souls that are not dead to themselves; Hell is in the heart of the impious; Paradise in that of the perfect, who are closely united to Our Lord.
He who lives in sin takes up the habits and the appearance of the beasts. The beast, which has not reason, knows nothing but its appetites. So the man who makes himself like the beasts loses his reason, and lets himself be guided by the inclinations of his body. He takes his pleasure in good eating and drinking, and in enjoying the vanities of the world, which pass away like the wind. I pity the poor wretches who run after that wind; they gain very little, they five a great deal for very little profit -- they five their eternity for the miserable smoke of the world.
My children, how sad it is! when a soul is in a state of sin, it may die in that state; and even now, whatever it can do is without merit before God. That is the reason why the devil is so pleased when a soul is in sin, and perseveres in it, because he thinks that it is working for him, and if it were to die he would have possession of it. When we are in sin, our soul is all diseased, all rotten; it is pitiful. The thought that the good God sees it ought to make it enter into itself. And then, what pleasure is there in sin? None at all. We have frightful dreams that the devil is carrying us away, that we are falling over precipices. Put yourself on good terms with God; have recourse to the Sacrament of Penance; you will sleep as quietly as an angel. You will be glad to waken in the night, to pray to God; you will have nothing but thanksgivings on your lips; you will rise I towards Heaven with great facility, as an eagle soars through the air.
See, my children, how sin degrades man; of an angel created to love God, it makes a demon who will curse Him for eternity. Ah! if Adam, our first father, had not sinned, and if we did not sin every day, how happy we should be! we should be as happy as the saints in Heaven. There would be no more unhappy people on the earth. Oh, how beautiful it would be! In fact, my children, it is sin that brings upon us all calamities, all scourges, war, famine, pestilence, earthquakes, fires, frost, hail, storms -- all that afflicts us, all that makes us miserable. See, my children, a person who is in a state of sin is always sad. Whatever he does, he is weary and disgusted with everything; while he who is at peace with God is always happy, always joyous. . . . Oh, beautiful life! Oh, beautiful death!
My children, we are afraid of death; I can well believe it. It is sin that makes us afraid of death; it is sin that renders death frightful, formidable; it is sin that terrifies the wicked at the hour of the fearful passage. Alas! O God! there is reason enough to be terrified, to think that one is accursed -- accursed of God! It makes one tremble. Accursed of God! and why? for what do men expose themselves to be accursed of God? For a blasphemy, for a bad thought, for a bottle of wine, for two minutes of pleasure! For two minutes of pleasure to lose God, one's soul, Heaven forever! We shall see going up to Heaven, in body and soul, that father, that mother, that sister, that neighbour, who were here with us, with whom we have lived, but whom we have not imitated; while we shall go down body and soul to burn in Hell. The devils will rush to overwhelm us. All the devils whose advice we followed will come to torment us.
My children, if you saw a man prepare a great pile of wood, heaping up fagots one upon another, and when you asked him what he was doing, he were to answer you, "I am preparing the fire that is to burn me, " what would you think? And if you saw this same man set fire to the pile, and when it was lighted throw himself upon it, what would you say? This is what we do when we commit sin. It is not God who casts us into Hell; we cast ourselves into it by our sins. The lost souls will say, "I have lost God, my soul, and Heaven; it is through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault!" He will raise himself out of the fire only to fall back into it. He will always feel the desire of rising because he was created for God, the greatest, the highest of beings, the Most High . . . as a bird shut up in a room flies to the ceiling, and falls down again, the justice of God is the ceiling which keeps down the lost.
There is no need to prove the existence of Hell. Our Lord Himself speaks of it, when He relates the history of the wicked rich man who cried out, "Lazarus! Lazarus!" We know very well that there is a Hell, but we live as if there were not; we sell our souls for a few pieces of money. We put off our conversion till the hour of death; but who can assure us that we shall have time or strength at that formidable moment, which has been feared by all the saints -- when Hell will gather itself up for a last assault upon us, seeing that it is the decisive moment? There are many people who lose the faith, and never see Hell till they enter it. The Sacraments are administered to them; but ask them if they have committed such a sin, and they will answer you, "Oh! settle that as you please. "
Some people offend the good God every moment; their heart is an anthill of sins: it is like a spoilt piece of meat, half-eaten by worms. . . . No, indeed; if sinners were to think of eternity -- of that terrible forever -- they would be converted instantly.
Not exactly the sort of sermon that one is likely to hear in his local parish now occupied by the forces of the counterfeit church of conciliarism, is it? The sensibilities of "modern" man, to whom Joseph Ratzinger and his fellow Modernists are constantly appealing, are too "sophisticated" to accept such blunt truths, which were once spoken by the Cure's patron saint, Saint John the Baptist, to Herod the Tetrarch and his concubine Herodias. "Modern" man must be told "positive" things that will tickle his ears, not "negative" things that might actually prove to be incentives to reform his life, thus making "modern" man the exact subject of the Second Epistle of Saint Paul to Saint Timothy:
For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. (2 Tim. 4: 3-4.)
The entire ethos of the Novus Ordo reaffirms "modern" man in his immersion in the harm of popular culture, admitting that there are some conciliar "priests" in some places who do try to exhort their flocks to avoid the near occasions of sin, although there are also loads of examples of "priests" who have tried to do this who have been reprimanded by their false "bishops" and/or threatened with or actually sent to psychologists or psychiatrists for evaluation and counseling designed to "reprogram" them into nice, sappy conciliarists. Gone are the warnings about books and popular culture that were found in papal encyclical letters of the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries.
Pope Leo XIII noted in Humanum Genus, April 20, 1884, that it was a particular goal of Freemasonry to corrupt the young by means of public schooling and popular culture:
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.
What refers to domestic life in the teaching of the naturalists is almost all contained in the following declarations: that marriage belongs to the genus of commercial contracts, which can rightly be revoked by the will of those who made them, and that the civil rulers of the State have power over the matrimonial bond; that in the education of youth nothing is to be taught in the matter of religion as of certain and fixed opinion; and each one must be left at liberty to follow, when he comes of age, whatever he may prefer. To these things the Freemasons fully assent; and not only assent, but have long endeavored to make them into a law and institution. For in many countries, and those nominally Catholic, it is enacted that no marriages shall be considered lawful except those contracted by the civil rite; in other places the law permits divorce; and in others every effort is used to make it lawful as soon as may be. Thus, the time is quickly coming when marriages will be turned into another kind of contract -- that is into changeable and uncertain unions which fancy may join together, and which the same when changed may disunite.
With the greatest unanimity the sect of the Freemasons also endeavors to take to itself the education of youth. They think that they can easily mold to their opinions that soft and pliant age, and bend it whither they will; and that nothing can be more fitted than this to enable them to bring up the youth of the State after their own plan. Therefore, in the education and instruction of children they allow no share, either of teaching or of discipline, to the ministers of the Church; and in many places they have procured that the education of youth shall be exclusively in the hands of laymen, and that nothing which treats of the most important and most holy duties of men to God shall be introduced into the instructions on morals.
Seeing the urgency of taking Catholic Action against the rise of the promotion of immorality under cover of law and popular culture, Pope Leo XIII issued an Apostolic Constitution entitled
Officiorum ac Munerum on January 25, 1897, to take disciplinary measures against the increasing threat posed to eternal good of souls (and to the temporal good of societies) by the menace of licentiousness, one of the rotten fruits of "civil liberty." Pope Leo wrote the following in his introduction to Officiorum ac Munerum:
Of all the Official Duties which We are bound most carefully and most diligently to fulfill in this Supreme Position of the Apostolate, the Chief and Principal Duty is to watch assiduously and earnestly to strive that the Integrity of Christian Faith and Morals may suffer no diminution. And this, more than at any other times, is especially necessary in these days, when men's minds and characters are so unrestrained that almost every Doctrine which Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind, has committed to the custody of His Church, for the welfare of the human race, is daily called into question and doubt. In this warfare, many and varied are the stratagems and hurtful devices of the enemy; but most perilous of all is the uncurbed freedom of writing and publishing noxious literature. Nothing can be conceived more pernicious, more apt to defile souls, through its contempt of Religion, and its manifold allurements to sin. Wherefore the Church, who is the custodian and vindicator of the Integrity of Faith and Morals, fearful of so great an evil, has from an early date realized that remedies must be applied against this plague; and for this reason she has ever striven, as far as lay in her Power, to restrain men from the reading of bad books, as from a deadly poison. The early days of the Church were witnesses to the earnest zeal of St. Paul in this respect; and every subsequent age has witnessed the vigilance of the Fathers, the commands of the Bishops, and the Decrees of Councils in a similar direction.
Historical Documents bear special witness to the care and diligence with which the Roman Pontiffs have vigilantly endeavored to prevent the unchecked spread of heretical writings detrimental to the public. History is full of examples. Anastasius I solemnly condemned the more dangerous writings of Origen, Innocent I those of Pelagius, Leo the Great all the works of the Manicheans. The decretal letters, opportunely issued by Gelasius, concerning books to be received and rejected, are well known. And so, in the course of centuries, the Holy See condemned the pestilent writings of the Monothelites, of Abelard, Marsilius Patavinus, Wycliff and Hus.
In the fifteenth century, after the invention of the art of printing, not only were bad publications which had already appeared condemned, but precautions began to be taken against the publication of similar works in the future. These prudent measures were called for by no slight cause, but rather by the need of protecting the public Morals and welfare at the time; for too many had rapidly perverted into a mighty engine of destruction an art excellent in itself, productive of immense advantages, and naturally destined for the advancement of Christian culture. Owing to the rapid process of publication, the great evil of bad books had been multiplied and accelerated. Wherefore Our predecessors, Alexander VI and Leo X, most wisely promulgated certain definite Laws, well suited to the character of the times, in order to restrain printers and publishers within the limits of their duty.
The tempest soon became more violent, and it was necessary to check the contagion of heresy with still more vigilance and severity. Hence Leo X, and afterwards Clement VII, severely prohibited the reading or retaining of the books of Luther. But as, owing to the unhappy circumstances of that epoch, the foul flood of pernicious books had increased beyond measure and spread in all directions, there appeared to be need of a more complete and efficacious remedy. This remedy Our predecessor, Paul IV, was the first to employ, by opportunely publishing a list of books and other writings against which the faithful should be warned. A little later the Council of Trent took steps to restrain the ever-growing license of writing and reading by a new measure. At its command and desire, certain chosen Prelates and Theologians not only applied themselves to increasing and perfecting the Index which Paul IV had published, but also drew up certain Rules to be observed in the publishing, reading, and use of books; to which Rules, Pius IV added the Sanction of his Apostolic Authority.
The interests of the public welfare, which had given rise to the Tridentine Rules, necessitated in the course of time certain alterations. For which reason the Roman Pontiffs, especially Clement VIII, Alexander VII, and Benedict XIV, mindful of the circumstances of the period and the dictates of prudence, issued several Decrees calculated to elucidate these Rules and to accommodate them to the times.
The above facts clearly prove that the Chief Care of the Roman Pontiffs has always been to protect civil society from erroneous beliefs and corrupt morals, the twin causes of the decline and ruin of States, which commonly owes its origin and its progress to bad books. Their labors were not unfruitful, so long as the Divine Law regulated the commands and prohibitions of civil government, and the Rulers of States acted in unison with the Ecclesiastical Authority.
Every one is aware of the subsequent course of events. As circumstances and men's minds gradually altered, the Church, with her wonted prudence, observing the character of the period, took those steps which appeared most expedient and best calculated to promote the salvation of men. Several prescriptions of the Rules of the Index, which appeared to have lost their original opportuneness, she either abolished by Decree, or, with equal gentleness and Wisdom, permitted them to grow obsolete. In recent times, Pius IX, in a Letter to the Archbishops and Bishops of the States of the Church, considerably mitigated Rule X. Moreover, on the eve of the Vatican Council, he instructed the learned men of the Preparatory Commission to examine and revise all the Rules of the Index, and to advise how they should be dealt with. They unanimously decided that the Rules required alteration; and several of the Fathers of the Council openly professed their agreement with this opinion and desire. A Letter of the French Bishops exists urging the necessity of immediate action in "republishing the Rules and whole Scheme of the Index in an entirely new form, better suited to our times and easier to observe." A similar opinion was expressed at the same time by the Bishops of Germany, who definitely petitioned that "the Rules of the Index might be submitted to a fresh revision and a rearrangement." With these Bishops many Bishops of Italy and other countries have agreed.
Taking into account the circumstances of our times, the conditions of society, and popular customs, all these requests are certainly justified and in accordance with the maternal affection of Holy Church. In the rapid race of intellect, there is no field of knowledge in which Literature has not run riot, hence the daily inundation of most pernicious books. Worst of all, the civil laws not only connive at this serious evil but allow it the widest license. Thus, on the one hand, many minds are in a state of anxiety; whilst, on the other, there is unlimited opportunity for every kind of reading.
Believing that some remedy ought to be applied to these evils, We have thought well to take two steps which will supply a certain and clear Rule of action in this matter. First, to diligently revise the Index of books forbidden to be read; and We have ordered this revised edition to be published when complete. Secondly, We have turned Our attention to the Rules themselves, and have determined, without altering their nature, to make them somewhat milder, so that it cannot be difficult or irksome for any person of good-will to obey them. In this we have not only followed the example of Our Predecessors, but imitated the maternal affection of the Church, who desires nothing more earnestly than to show herself indulgent, and, in the present, as in the past, ever cares for her children in such a manner as gently and lovingly to have regard to their weakness.
Wherefore, after mature deliberation, and having consulted the Cardinals of the Sacred Congregation of the Index, We have decided to issue the following General Decrees appended to this Constitution, and the aforesaid Sacred Congregation shall, in the future, follow these exclusively, and all Catholics throughout the world shall strictly obey them. We will that they alone shall have the force of Law, abrogating the Rules published by Order of the Sacred Council of Trent, and the Observations, Instructions, Decrees, Monita, and all other Statutes and Commands whatsoever of Our Predecessors, with the sole exception of the Constitution Sollicila et provida of Benedict XIV, which We will to retain in the future the full force which it has hitherto had.
Thus it is, ladies and gentlemen, that those who chafe at being told by a true bishop or a true priest to get rid of their television and to stop attending sporting events at which immoral images and other wretched sights and sounds are featured and to dress with a masculine or a feminine dignity that befits the virtue of Modesty ought to shut their mouths and take the advice they are being given with humility and docility. No saint ever needed television to get home to Heaven. No saint ever needed to pay good money to be diverted by bread and circuses to get home to Heaven. Neither do we, and this is coming from one who was raised on television and who was a veritable news addict, watching news programs all the time and reading three newspapers a day in my single days, as well as a regular sojourner to William A. Shea Municipal Stadium in Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York. It is possible, believe it or not, to withdraw from all of this voluntarily and to be happier than one could ever possibly imagine.
While Pope Pius XI noted in Divini Illius Magistri, December 31, 1929, that we do not renounce our activities of this life, perfecting his natural faculties and ennobling them in light of his supernatural destiny, we nevertheless must take precautions to protect ourselves and our children from the evil influences of a wicked age:
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!
Worthy of all praise and encouragement therefore are those educational associations which have for their object to point out to parents and educators, by means of suitable books and periodicals, the dangers to morals and religion that are often cunningly disguised in books and theatrical representations. In their spirit of zeal for the souls of the young, they endeavor at the same time to circulate good literature and to promote plays that are really instructive, going so far as to put up at the cost of great sacrifices, theaters and cinemas, in which virtue will have nothing to suffer and much to gain.
This necessary vigilance does not demand that young people be removed from the society in which they must live and save their souls; but that today more than ever they should be forewarned and forearmed as Christians against the seductions and the errors of the world, which, as Holy Writ admonishes us, is all "concupiscence of the flesh, concupiscence of the eyes and pride of life." Let them be what Tertullian wrote of the first Christians, and what Christians of all times ought to be, "sharers in the possession of the world, not of its error."
Pope Pius XI reiterated this point seven years later in Vigilianti Cura, June 29, 1936, which addressed the licentiousness then prevalent in even the early motion pictures (sad to report, some of the films of the late Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are full of double entendres):
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.
Anyone who thinks that the motion pictures of today "assist in the right education of man and in raising the dignity of morality" is spiritually blind, preferring to immerse himself and his children in the popular culture in order to "prove" to others just how "normal" they are despite their going to the Immemorial Mass of Tradition, no less their going to chapels served by true bishops and true bishops who make no concessions to conciliarism or to the nonexistent "legitimacy" of the false shepherds of the counterfeit church of conciliarism. We must not care about what others, no matter if they are our closest relatives, think of us. We must protect our own immortal souls and those of our children while we refuse to subsidize the Judeo-Masonic corporations that produce films that attack Our Lord and His Most Blessed Mother. I mean, folks, I would like to know at this late date by what stretch of logic can anyone claim that it is not wrong to line the coffers of the Disney Corporation, which produces indecent, frequently blasphemous films and whose cartoon features are exercises in leftist propaganda and suggestiveness, with our own money?
Pope Pius XII wrote in Miranda Prorsus, about the dangers posed by television, then in its infancy and hardly as offensive as its programming would become over the years but nevertheless even then an instrument of naturalism and its close ally, religious indifferentism:
Yet it must be noticed that, in exercising control in this area, the sound training and education of spectators, of which We have spoken, is not in itself sufficient. Each of the shows must be suited and adapted to the intelligence of each age-group, the strength of their emotional and imaginative response, and the condition of their morals.
This, indeed, assumes a very great importance because radio and television shows, since they easily penetrate into the domestic circle, threaten to undermine the protective barriers by which the education of the young must be kept safe and sound until such time as advancing age gives the strength necessary to enable them to overcome the buffeting of the world.
For this reason, three years ago We wrote to the bishops of Italy: "Should we not shudder when we reflect attentively that through television shows all can inhale, even within the home, the poisoned air of those 'materialistic' doctrines which diffuse empty pleasures and desires of all kinds, just as was done over and over again in motion-picture theaters?"
We are aware that public authorities and private groups engaged in the education of youth have introduced programs and plans by which they make every possible effort to keep young people from shows unsuited to their age, which they too often attend to their serious harm.
We heartily approve whatever is being done in this praiseworthy cause. Yet it must be noted that, even more than the physiological and psychological disturbances which can arise there from, those dangers must be guarded against which affect the morals of youth, and which, unless prevented and forbidden in due season, can greatly contribute to the damage and ruin of human society itself.
Concerning this matter We make a father's appeal to Our dear young, trusting that -- since We speak of entertainment in which their innocence can be exposed to danger -- they will be outstanding for their Christian restraint and prudence. They have a grave obligation to check and control that natural and unrestrained eagerness to see and hear everything, and they must keep their minds free from immodest and earthly pleasures and direct them to higher things.
The Church knows well that from these new means of communication there arise many benefits and many evils and dangers, depending upon the use men make of them. And so in this matter also she desires to perform her duty, since it directly concerns not only culture in general, but also religion most especially, and the orientation and guidance of morals.
The passage of years has shown us that television, which could be an instrument of good if we lived in a truly Catholic world, has done far more harm than good. Even leaving aside the naturalism that its programming communicated in the 1950s before the promotion of the occult and the bizarre in the 1960s as a prelude to the promotion of abject evil in the 1970s and thereafter, television, much like the commercial radio programming of the 1920s and 1930s and 1940s, produced passive zombies willing to accept, at least for the most part, whatever messages were transmitted, disrupting family life, including the habit of family prayer and sleep patterns, and becoming a demigod around which the whole of leisure time during "prime time" viewing hours is centered. Listen to your true bishops and your true priests when they tell you to get rid of this demigod. Believe me, you will never miss it. Never. Not once.
It is the sad case, however, that many traditionally-minded Catholics, including far too many in sedevacantist chapels, have simply turned the clock back to the 1950s, believing that simply having the Mass of all ages is a sufficient display of their affection for God and His Holy Church while they immerse themselves as greedy little capitalists, grubby little materialists who shop all the time, partakers of the evils of "rock" music and motion pictures and television shows feature gross immorality and blasphemy, and abject naturalists in the ways in which they look at current events, public policy and electoral politics. This makes such traditionally-minded Catholics culturally indistinguishable from their brethren in the Novus Ordo, which is a celebration of the modern world writ large. There is no need to assist at the Mass of Tradition if one is immersing himself and his children in the "joys" of a culture that promotes the very thing that cause Our Lord to suffer unspeakably in His Sacred Humanity during His Passion and Death and that caused His Most Blessed Mother's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart to be thrust through with Seven Swords of Sorrow, sin.
It is to such Catholics, immersed in the false blandishments of a culture that is not meant to give honor and glory to God and is actually an instrument of the devil to lead souls to Hell, that Pope Leo XIII address these words in Laetitiae Sanctae, September 8, 1893:
The third evil for which a remedy is needed is one which is chiefly characteristic of the times in which we live. Men in former ages, although they loved the world, and loved it far too well, did not usually aggravate their sinful attachment to the things of earth by a contempt of the things of heaven. Even the right-thinking portion of the pagan world recognized that this life was not a home but a dwelling-place, not our destination, but a stage in the journey. But men of our day, albeit they have had the advantages of Christian instruction, pursue the false goods of this world in such wise that the thought of their true Fatherland of enduring happiness is not only set aside, but, to their shame be it said, banished and entirely erased from their memory, notwithstanding the warning of St. Paul, "We have not here a lasting city, but we seek one which is to come" (Heb. xiii., 4).
When We seek out the causes of this forgetfulness, We are met in the first place by the fact that many allow themselves to believe that the thought of a future life goes in some way to sap the love of our country, and thus militates against the prosperity of the commonwealth. No illusion could be more foolish or hateful. Our future hope is not of a kind which so monopolizes the minds of men as to withdraw their attention from the interests of this life. Christ commands us, it is true, to seek the Kingdom of God, and in the first place, but not in such a manner as to neglect all things else. For, the use of the goods of the present life, and the righteous enjoyment which they furnish, may serve both to strengthen virtue and to reward it. The splendor and beauty of our earthly habitation, by which human society is ennobled, may mirror the splendor and beauty of our dwelling which is above. Therein we see nothing that is not worthy of the reason of man and of the wisdom of God. For the same God who is the Author of Nature is the Author of Grace, and He willed not that one should collide or conflict with the other, but that they should act in friendly alliance, so that under the leadership of both we may the more easily arrive at that immortal happiness for which we mortal men were created.
But men of carnal mind, who love nothing but themselves, allow their thoughts to grovel upon things of earth until they are unable to lift them to that which is higher. For, far from using the goods of time as a help towards securing those which are eternal, they lose sight altogether of the world which is to come, and sink to the lowest depths of degradation. We may doubt if God could inflict upon man a more terrible punishment than to allow him to waste his whole life in the pursuit of earthly pleasures, and in forgetfulness of the happiness which alone lasts for ever.
Once again, you've got a true bishop or a true bishop who's telling you to get rid of the television. Don't protest and display the effects of the heresy of "Americanism" by asserting your "rights." Listen. Obey. The soul you help to save in cooperation with God's ineffable graces might be your own and that of your children. And anyone who has protested, thinking that they know more than a true pastor of souls who has sought their eternal good by insisting that a Catholic home not be infested voluntarily with the rot of naturalism and all of its vices, must apologize to any bishop or priest to whom he has pridefully asserted that it is no business of a pastor as to what the faithful do in their homes.
Saint Paul put it this way in his Second Epistle to Saint Timothy:
I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming, and his kingdom: Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. (2 Tim. 4: 1-2)
Blessed Humbeline, the sister of Saint Bernard, explained to her husband Guy, who was about to give her permission to enter the religious life, how we must love God completely in this passing vale of tears:
"Guy, dear," she pressed, "it seems incredible. I know; but that is because we think so superficially. Now tell me: Were you not more ready and without fear to face your uncle after you had done some heroic deed in battle, after you had risked your life and sacrificed safety than you were after some escapade or boyish prank? Bring the principle to the touchstone of everyday life and you'll see its force. When did you face your uncle most gladly?"
"After I had sacrificed, as you say." came the thoughtful reply. "That is certainly true in the case of any knight."
"Then don't you see the parallel?"
"I do, Humbeline; more clearly than ever before. And I see that I have sacrificed very little for God. I can believe that religious souls such as Elizabeth de Forez and your brothers, if not completely without fear, are certainly more ready to face God than any of us in the world. It is most reasonable."
"And you have touched the real reason, Guy. It is giving to God! I am growing more convinced that life has only one purpose: that God gave us everything simply that we might freely give everything back to Him again. Daddy's death at Clairvaux last year taught me that most forcefully. I saw then that happiness here and hereafter is to be found in God alone."
"Do you mean that the world should be one large monastery?"
"Never!--But I do mean that everyone in the world should live as the inmates of the monastery; that is, fully God-conscious, God-centered, God-absorbed! My sister-in-law [Elizabeth de Forez, whom Saint Bernard convinced to enter religious life] has more happiness here than any hundred society women, and she is more sure of happiness hereafter than ay thousand of them. And why? Because she has made the total sacrifice and the unconditional surrender. She has given her all!" (Father M. Raymond, O.C.S.O., The Family That Overtook Christ: The Amazing Story of the Family of Bernard of Clairvaux, Boston, Massachusetts: Saint Paul Books and Media, 1986, pp. 278-279.)
Any questions out there? Can't we give God our televisions and our attachments to things that are impediments to growing in sanctity and thus getting to Heaven? Can't we swallow our pride and admit that our pastors know more than we do? Can't we give up the world as continue to live in it? Is not the path to true joy in this life the result of attempting to stay on the rocky road that leads to the Narrow Gate of Life Himself?
Pope Leo XIII wrote in Laetitiae Sanctae that Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary is one of the chief antidotes to worldliness:
We deplore -- and those who judge of all things merely by the light and according to the standard of nature join with Us in deploring-that society is threatened with a serious danger in the growing contempt of those homely duties and virtues which make up the beauty of humble life. To this cause we may trace in the home, the readiness of children to withdraw themselves from the natural obligation of obedience to the parents, and their impatience of any form of treatment which is not of the indulgent and effeminate kind. In the workman, it evinces itself in a tendency to desert his trade, to shrink from toil, to become discontented with his lot, to fix his gaze on things that are above him, and to look forward with unthinking hopefulness to some future equalization of property. We may observe the same temper permeating the masses in the eagerness to exchange the life of the rural districts for the excitements and pleasures of the town. Thus the equilibrium between the classes of the community is being destroyed, everything becomes unsettled, men's minds become a prey to jealousy and heart-burnings, rights are openly trampled under foot, and, finally, the people, betrayed in their expectations, attack public order, and place themselves in conflict with those who are charged to maintain it.
For evils such as these let us seek a remedy in the Rosary, which consists in a fixed order of prayer combined with devout meditation on the life of Christ and His Blessed Mother. Here, if the joyful mysteries be but clearly brought home to the minds of the people, an object lesson of the chief virtues is placed before their eyes. Each one will thus be able to see for himself how easy, how abundant, how sweetly attractive are the lessons to be found therein for the leading of an honest life. Let us take our stand in front of that earthly and divine home of holiness, the House of Nazareth. How much we have to learn from the daily life which was led within its walls! What an all-perfect model of domestic society! Here we behold simplicity and purity of conduct, perfect agreement and unbroken harmony, mutual respect and love -- not of the false and fleeting kind -- but that which finds both its life and its charm in devotedness of service. Here is the patient industry which provides what is required for food and raiment; which does so "in the sweat of the brow," which is contented with little, and which seeks rather to diminish the number of its wants than to multiply the sources of its wealth. Better than all, we find there that supreme peace of mind and gladness of soul which never fail to accompany the possession of a tranquil conscience. These are precious examples of goodness, of modesty, of humility, of hard-working endurance, of kindness to others, of diligence in the small duties of daily life, and of other virtues, and once they have made their influence felt they gradually take root in the soul, and in course of time fail not to bring about a happy change of mind and conduct. Then will each one begin to feel his work to be no longer lowly and irksome, but grateful and lightsome, and clothed with a certain joyousness by his sense of duty in discharging it conscientiously. Then will gentler manners everywhere prevail; home-life will be loved and esteemed, and the relations of man with man will be loved and esteemed, and the relations of man with man will be hallowed by a larger infusion of respect and charity. And if this betterment should go forth from the individual to the family and to the communities, and thence to the people at large so that human life should be lifted up to this standard, no one will fail to feel how great and lasting indeed would be the gain which would be achieved for society.
A second evil, one which is specially pernicious, and one which, owing to the increasing mischief which it works among souls, we can never sufficiently deplore, is to be found in repugnance to suffering and eagerness to escape whatever is hard or painful to endure. The greater number are thus robbed of that peace and freedom of mind which remains the reward of those who do what is right undismayed by the perils or troubles to be met with in doing so. Rather do they dream of a chimeric civilization in which all that is unpleasant shall be removed, and all that is pleasant shall be supplied. By this passionate and unbridled desire of living a life of pleasure, the minds of men are weakened, and if they do not entirely succumb, they become demoralized and miserably cower and sink under the hardships of the battle of life.
In such a contest example is everything, and a powerful means of renewing our courage will undoubtedly be found in the Holy Rosary, if from our earliest years our minds have been trained to dwell upon the sorrowful mysteries of Our Lord's life, and to drink in their meaning by sweet and silent meditation. In them we shall learn how Christ, "the Author and Finisher of Our faith," began "to do and teach," in order that we might see written in His example all the lessons that He Himself had taught us for the bearing of our burden of labor -- and sorrow, and mark how the sufferings which were hardest to bear were those which He embraced with the greatest measure of generosity and good will. We behold Him overwhelmed with sadness, so that drops of blood ooze like sweat from His veins. We see Him bound like a malefactor, subjected to the judgment of the unrighteous, laden with insults, covered with shame, assailed with false accusations, torn with scourges, crowned with thorns, nailed to the cross, accounted unworthy to live, and condemned by the voice of the multitude as deserving of death. Here, too, we contemplate the grief of the most Holy Mother, whose soul was not merely wounded but "pierced" by the sword of sorrow, so that she might be named and become in truth "the Mother of Sorrows." Witnessing these examples of fortitude, not with sight but by faith, who is there who will not feel his heart grow warm with the desire of imitating them?
Then, be it that the "earth is accursed" and brings forth "thistles and thorns," -- be it that the soul is saddened with grief and the body with sickness; even so, there will be no evil which the envy of man or the rage of devils can invent, nor calamity which can fall upon the individual or the community, over which we shall not triumph by the patience of suffering. For this reason it has been truly said that "it belongs to the Christian to do and to endure great things," for he who deserves to be called a Christian must not shrink from following in the footsteps of Christ. But by this patience, We do not mean that empty stoicism in the enduring of pain which was the ideal of some of the philosophers of old, but rather do We mean that patience which is learned from the example of Him, who "having joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame" (Heb. xvi., 2). It is the patience which is obtained by the help of His grace; which shirks not a trial because it is painful, but which accepts it and esteems it as a gain, however hard it may be to undergo. The Catholic Church has always had, and happily still has, multitudes of men and women, in every rank and condition of life, who are glorious disciples of this teaching, and who, following faithfully in the path of Christ, suffer injury and hardship for the cause of virtue and religion. They reecho, not with their lips, but with their life, the words of St. Thomas: "Let us also go, that we may die with him" (John xi., 16).. . .
It is from this danger that they will be happily rescued, who, in the pious practice of the Rosary, are wont, by frequent and fervent prayer, to keep before their minds the glorious mysteries. These mysteries are the means by which in the soul of a Christian a most clear light is shed upon the good things, hidden to sense, but visible to faith, "which God has prepared for those who love Him." From them we learn that death is not an annihilation which ends all things, but merely a migration and passage from life to life. By them we are taught that the path to Heaven lies open to all men, and as we behold Christ ascending thither, we recall the sweet words of His promise, "I go to prepare a place for you." By them we are reminded that a time will come when "God will wipe away every tear from our eyes," and that "neither mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow, shall be any more," and that "We shall be always with the Lord," and "like to the Lord, for we shall see Him as He is," and "drink of the torrent of His delight," as "fellow-citizens of the saints," in the blessed companionship of our glorious Queen and Mother. Dwelling upon such a prospect, our hearts are kindled with desire, and we exclaim, in the words of a great saint, "How vile grows the earth when I look up to heaven!" Then, too, shall we feel the solace of the assurance "that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor. iv., 17).
Here alone we discover the true relation between time and eternity, between our life on earth and our life in heaven; and it is thus alone that are formed strong and noble characters. When such characters can be counted in large numbers, the dignity and well-being of society are assured. All that is beautiful, good, and true will flourish in the measure of its conformity to Him who is of all beauty, goodness, and truth the first Principle and the Eternal Source.
These considerations will explain what We have already laid down concerning the fruitful advantages which are to be derived from the use of the Rosary, and the healing power which this devotion possesses for the evils of the age and the fatal sores of society. These advantages, as we may readily conceive, will be secured in a higher and fuller measure by those who band themselves together in the sacred Confraternity of the Rosary, and who are thus more than others united by a special and brotherly bond of devotion to the Most Holy Virgin. In this Confraternity, approved by the Roman Pontiffs, and enriched by them with indulgences and privileges, they possess their own rule and government, hold their meetings at stated times, and are provided with ample means of leading a holy life and of laboring for the good of the community. They are, are so to speak, the battalions who fight the battle of Christ, armed with His Sacred Mysteries, and under the banner and guidance of the Heavenly Queen. How faithfully her intercession is exercised in response to their prayers, processions, and solemnities is written in the whole experience of the Church not less than in the splendor of the victory of Lepanto.
The ninetieth anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun is but one month from this very day. There will be a Rosary Procession in West Chester, Ohio, that evening led by His Excellency Bishop Daniel Dolan. There will one in Spokane, Washington, led by the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen. There will be others in other parts of the country. Make sure that your chapel will commemorate this great day as a sign of our desire to seek the joys of Heaven that were promised to Jacinta and Francisco Marto and their cousin Lucia dos Santos by fulfilling Our Lady's Fatima Message in our own lives, seeking to renounce voluntarily even legitimate pleasures so that we make reparations to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary for the conversion of sinners, seeking to save them--and quite possibly ourselves--from Hell in the process.
The prayerful recitation of our family Rosary on our knees will help attach us to the things of Heaven, which are only accessible by walking the Via Crucis, the Way of the Cross, in our daily lives.
For we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise always to God, that is to say, the fruit of lips confessing to his name.
Omnia instaurare in Christo.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us!
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our deaths. Amen.
All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!
Viva Cristo Rey! Vivat Christus Rex!
Our Lady of Fatima, 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.
Pope Saint Pius X, pray for us.
Saint Giles, pray for us.
Saint Stephen of Hungary, pray for us.
Saint Rose of Lima, pray for us.
Saint Joseph Calasanctius, pray for us.
Pope Saint Zephyrinus, pray for us.
Saint Louis IX, King of France, pray for us.
Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, pray for us.
Saint Bartholomew, pray for us.
Saint Philip Benizi, pray for us.
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, pray for us.
Saint John Eudes, pray for us.
Saint Hyacinth, pray for us, pray for us.
Saint Agapitus, pray for us.
Saint Helena, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us.
Saint Athanasius, pray for us.
Saint Irenaeus, pray for us.
Saints Monica, pray for us.
Saint Jude, pray for us.
Saint John the Beloved, pray for us.
Saint Francis Solano, pray for us.
Saint John Bosco, pray for us.
Saint Dominic Savio, pray for us.
Saint Scholastica, pray for us.
Saint Benedict, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, pray for us.
Saint Antony of the Desert, pray for us.
Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.
Saint Bonaventure, pray for us.
Saint Augustine, pray for us.
Saint Francis Xavier, pray for us.
Saint Peter Damian, pray for us.
Saint Turibius, pray for us.
Saint Francis Solano, pray for us.
Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, pray for us.
Saint Lucy, pray for us.
Saint Monica, pray for us.
Saint Agatha, pray for us.
Saint Anthony of Padua, pray for us.
Saint Basil the Great, pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, pray for us.
Saint John Mary Vianney, pray for us.
Saint Vincent de Paul, pray for us.
Saint Vincent Ferrer, pray for us.
Saint Athanasius, pray for us.
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, pray for us.
Saint Isaac Jogues, pray for us.
Saint Rene Goupil, pray for us.
Saint John Lalonde, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel Lalemont, pray for us.
Saint Noel Chabanel, pray for us.
Saint Charles Garnier, pray for us.
Saint Anthony Daniel, pray for us.
Saint John DeBrebeuf, pray for us.
Saint Alphonsus de Liguori, pray for us.
Saint Therese Lisieux, pray for us.
Saint Lucy, pray for us.
Saint Dominic, pray for us.
Saint Hyacinth, pray for us.
Saint Basil, pray for us.
Saint Benedict, pray for us.
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, pray for us.
Saint Vincent Ferrer, pray for us.
Saint Sebastian, pray for us.
Saint Tarcisius, pray for us.
Saint Bridget of Sweden, pray for us.
Saint Gerard Majella, pray for us.
Saint John of the Cross, pray for us.
Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette Soubirous, pray for us.
Saint Genevieve, pray for us.
Saint Vincent de Paul, pray for us.
Pope Saint Pius V, pray for us.
Saint Rita of Cascia, pray for us.
Saint Louis de Montfort, pray for us.
Blessed Humbeline, pray for us.
Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich, pray for us.
Venerable Pauline Jaricot, pray for us.
Father Miguel Augustin Pro, pray for us.
Francisco Marto, pray for us.
Jacinta Marto, pray for us.
Juan Diego, pray for us.
Father Maximilian Kolbe,M.I., 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.