We Must Tread the Path of the Saints
Thomas A. Droleskey
As we know a number of families who are being torn apart at the present time by the fact that a a husband or a wife is serious about the pursuit of personal sanctity by eschewing worldliness, I thought it appropriate on this feast of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, the great apostle of Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary and of Total Consecration to Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through His Most Blessed Mother, to re-work material from other articles with a little bit of additional commentary, especially at the beginning of this article, as time permits before our departure for Holy Mass at Saint Gertrude the Great Church this morning.
We must be earnest about pursuit of the "higher things" with every beat of our hearts, consecrated as they must be to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The purpose of our lives is to know, love and serve God in this life as He has revealed Himself to us exclusively through His Catholic Church so as to be happy with Him for all eternity in Heaven by being ready at all times to face Him at the moments of our Particular Judgments by being in states of Sanctifying Grace and having Perfect Contrition for our sins.
This just does not "happen." This is hard work as we must fight against our own fallen human nature and the cumulative effects of all of our past sins on our souls, past sins that incline us all the more to sin and that disorder our wills and make us more prideful and more stubborn and more hardened of heart with each passing day. We must be possessed of a thorough love of God in order to be detached from the things, people and places of this world.
This will cause us divisions with others, sadly, as some people in a family grow in the love of God more than others. Our Lord did, however, predict that such divisions would occur:
Fear not therefore: better are you than many sparrows. Every one therefore that shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven. But he that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
"I came to set a man at variance"... Not that this was the end or design of the coming of our Saviour; but that his coming and his doctrine would have this effect, by reason of the obstinate resistance that many would make, and of their persecuting all such as should adhere to him.
And a man's enemies shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for me, shall find it. He that receiveth you, receiveth me: and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me. (Matthew 10: 31-40.)
The commentary in the Challoner Douay-Rheims Bible on verse thirty-five is important to reproduce here as so many worldly Catholics, many of whom are the victims of the conciliar revolution and thus have been robbed of the most basic elements of the sensus Catholicus and have been "catechized" by the "world" and by "worldly" relatives who hate the Faith because they are steeped, whether or not they realize it, in one unrepentant sin after another, come to despise those in their families who want to change their lives and to live for the "higher things" rather than to be immersed in the ways of the world:
"I came to set a man at variance"... Not that this was the end or design of the coming of our Saviour; but that his coming and his doctrine would have this effect, by reason of the obstinate resistance that many would make, and of their persecuting all such as should adhere to him.
Pope Leo XIII, writing in Exeunte Iam Anno, December 25, 1888, that human life does not consist of an engrossment in worldly affairs:
Now the whole essence of a Christian life is to reject the corruption of the world and to oppose constantly any indulgence in it; this is taught in the words and deeds, the laws and institutions, the life and death of Jesus Christ, "the author and finisher of faith." Hence, however strongly We are deterred by the evil disposition of nature and character, it is our duty to run to the "fight proposed to Us," fortified and armed with the same desire and the same arms as He who, "having joy set before him, endured the cross." Wherefore let men understand this specially, that it is most contrary to Christian duty to follow, in worldly fashion, pleasures of every kind, to be afraid of the hardships attending a virtuous life, and to deny nothing to self that soothes and delights the senses. "They that are Christ's, have crucified their flesh, with the vices and concupiscences"-- so that it follows that they who are not accustomed to suffering, and who hold not ease and pleasure in contempt belong not to Christ. By the infinite goodness of God man lived again to the hope of an immortal life, from which he had been cut off, but he cannot attain to it if he strives not to walk in the very footsteps of Christ and conform his mind to Christ's by the meditation of Christ's example. Therefore this is not a counsel but a duty, and it is the duty, not of those only who desire a more perfect life, but clearly of every man "always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus." How otherwise could the natural law, commanding man to live virtuously, be kept? For by holy baptism the sin which we contracted at birth is destroyed, but the evil and tortuous roots of sin, which sin has engrafted, and by no means removed. This part of man which is without reason -- although it cannot beat those who fight manfully by Christ's grace -- nevertheless struggles with reason for supremacy, clouds the whole soul and tyrannically bends the will from virtue with such power that we cannot escape vice or do our duty except by a daily struggle. "This holy synod teaches that in the baptized there remains concupiscence or an inclination to evil, which, being left to be fought against, cannot hurt those who do not consent to it, and manfully fight against it by the grace of Jesus Christ; for he is not crowned who does not strive lawfully." There is in this struggle a degree of strength to which only a very perfect virtue, belonging to those who, by putting to flight evil passions, has gained so high a place as to seem almost to live a heavenly life on earth. Granted; grant that few attain such excellence; even the philosophy of the ancients taught that every man should restrain his evil desires, and still more and with greater care those who from daily contact with the world have the greater temptations -- unless it be foolishly thought that where the danger is greater watchfulness is less needed, or that they who are more grievously ill need fewer medicines.
"Therefore this is not a counsel but a duty, and it is the duty, not of those only who desire a more perfect life, but clearly of every man "always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus." It is a duty of the interior life to reject worldliness by "bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus," which means that we must have custody of our eyes and our ears and our lips and of our minds as we judge all things in this world in light of the world to come. This is not an option. This is a duty, and those Catholics who take this duty seriously are doing nothing other than trying to help themselves and their family members get home to Heaven.
Father Frederick Faber's passage, contained in his meditation on the Sixth Dolor of Our Lady in his The Foot of the Cross/The Dolors of Mary, concerning the hatred of heresy that should beat within the heart of a believing Catholic has been quoted on this site quite a lot, most recently in Refusing Communion With Apostasy. A few sentences are worth repeating again, however, by way of demonstrating that there is indeed nothing we can say to "worldlings" who consider it utter madness to insist that Catholicism is the one and only foundation of personal and social order as we insist that no heresy, including Protestantism, is pleasing to God in the slightest or can serve anything other than the interests of chaos and disorder.
In the judgment of the world, and of worldly Christians, this hatred of heresy is exaggerated, bitter, contrary to moderation, indiscreet, unreasonable, aiming at too much, bigoted, intolerant, narrow, stupid, and immoral. What can we say to defend it? Nothing which they can understand. We had, therefore, better hold our peace. If we understand God, and He understands us, it is not so very hard to go through life suspected, misunderstood and unpopular. The mild self-opinionatedness of the gentle, undiscerning good will also take the world's view and condemn us; for there is a meek-loving positiveness about timid goodness which is far from God, and the instincts of whose charity is more toward those who are less for God, while its timidity is searing enough for harsh judgment. There are conversions where three-quarters of the heart stop outside the Church and only a quarter enters, and heresy can only be hated by an undivided heart. But if it is hard, it has to be borne. A man can hardly have the full use of his senses who is bent on proving to the world, God's enemy, that a thorough-going Catholic hatred of heresy is a right frame of mind. We might as well force a blind man to judge a question of color. Divine love inspheres in us a different circle of life, motive, and principle, which is not only not that of the world, but in direct enmity with it. From a worldly point of view, the craters in the moon are more explicable things than we Christians with our supernatural instinct.
Saint Paul the Apostle makes much the same point in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians:
For what man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of a man that is in him? So the things also that are of God no man knoweth, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God; that we may know the things that are given us from God. Which things also we speak, not in the learned words of human wisdom; but in the doctrine of the Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the sensual man perceiveth not these things that are of the Spirit of God; for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot understand, because it is spiritually examined. But the spiritual man judgeth all things; and he himself is judged of no man. (2 Cor. 2: 11-15)
The commentary for the phrase "sensual man" found in the Douay-Rheims Bible (Challoner Version) speaks quite clearly about the fact that those who are steeped in naturalism consider it madness that anyone would insist that there is a truth revealed by God Himself that binds all men at all times in all circumstances without any exception whatsoever:
14 "The sensual man"... The sensual man is either he who is taken up with sensual pleasures, with carnal and worldly affections; or he who measureth divine mysteries by natural reason, sense, and human wisdom only. Now such a man has little or no notion of the things of God. Whereas the spiritual man is he who, in the mysteries of religion, takes not human sense for his guide: but submits his judgment to the decisions of the church, which he is commanded to hear and obey. For Christ hath promised to remain to the end of the world with his church, and to direct her in all things by the Spirit of truth.
Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort elaborate on these essential points in The Love of Eternal Wisdom:
There are several kinds of Wisdom. First there is true and false wisdom. True wisdom is fondness of truth, without guile of dissimulation. False wisdom is fondness of falsehood, disguised under the appearance of truth. This false wisdom is the wisdom of the world, which, according to the Holy Spirit, is threefold "Earthly, sensual and devilish wisdom" (Jas. 3: 15). True wisdom is natural and supernatural. Natural wisdom is knowledge, in an eminent degree, of natural things in their principles; supernatural wisdom is knowledge of supernatural and divine things in their origin.
But we must be aware of being mistaken in our choice, for there are several kinds of wisdom. There is the Wisdom of God--the only true Wisdom, that deserves to be loved as a great treasure. There is also the wisdom of the corrupt world, which must be condemned and detested as evil and pernicious. Moreover, there is the wisdom of the philosophers, which we must despise wen it is not true philosophy and because it is often dangerous to salvation.
So far, following the advice of St. Paul, we have spoken of the Wisdom of God to chosen souls, but lest they should be deceived by the false luster of worldly wisdom, let us expose its deceit and malice. The wisdom of the world is that of which it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise" (1 Cor. 1: 19) according to the world. "The wisdom of the flesh is an enemy to God.... This is not the wisdom descending from above but earthly, sensual, devilish" (Rom. 8: 7, Jas. 3: 15).
This worldly wisdom consists in the exact compliance with the maxims and fashions of the world; in a continuous trend toward greatness and esteem. It is a secret and unceasing pursuit of pleasures and personal interests, not in a gross and open manner, so as to cause scandal, but in a secret, deceitful and scheming fashion. Otherwise, it would not be what the world calls wisdom, but rank licentiousness.
Those who process according to the wisdom of the world, are those who know how to manage well their affairs and to arrange things to their temporal advantage, without appearing to do so;
- --who know the art of deceiving and how to cleverly cheat without it being noticed; who say or do one thing and have another in mind;
- --who are thoroughly acquainted with the way and the flattery of the world;
- --who know how to please everybody, in order to reach their goal, not troubling much about the honor and interests of God;
- --who make a secret, but deadly, fusion of truth with untruth; of the Gospel with the world; of virtue with vice; of Jesus Christ with Satan;
- --who wish to pass for honest people, but not as religious men; who despise and corrupt or readily condemn every religious practice which does not conform to their own.
In short, the worldly-wise are those, who being guided only by their human senses and reason, seek only to appear as Christian and honest folk, without troubling much to please God, or to do penance for the sins which they have committed against His divine Majesty. The worldling bases his conduct upon his honor, upon what people say, upon convention, upon good cheer, upon personal interest, upon refined manners, upon witty jokes. These are the seven innocent incentives, so he thinks, upon which he can rely, so that hey may lead an easy life. He has virtues of his own, for which is canonized by the world. These are manliness, finesse, diplomacy, tact, gallantry, politeness and sprightliness. He considers as serious sins such traits as lack of feeling, silliness, dullness and sanctimoniousness.
The Ten Commandments of the Worldly Man:
1. Thou shalt be well acquainted with the world.
2. Thou shalt appear to be an honest man.
3. Thou shalt be successful in business.
4. Thou shalt kept what is thine.
5. Thou shalt get on in the world.
6. Thou shalt make friends.
7. Thou shalt be a society man.
8. Thou shalt make merry.
9. Thou shalt not be a killjoy.
10. Thou shalt avoid singularity, dullness and an air of piety.
Never was the world so corrupt as it is now, because it was never so astute, so wise in its own conceit and so cunning. It is so skillful in deceiving the soul seeking perfection, that it makes use of truth to foster untruth, of virtue to authorize vice and it even distorts the meaning of Christ's own truths, to give authority to its own maxims. "The number of those who are fools, according to God, is infinite" (Eccles. 1: 15)
The earthly wisdom, spoken of by St. James, is an excessive striving for worldly goods. The worldly-wise make a secret profession of this type of wisdom when they allow themselves to become attached to their earthly possessions; when they strive to become rich; when they go to law and bring useless actions against others, in order to acquire or to keep temporal goods; when their every thought, word and deed is mainly directed toward obtaining or retaining something temporal. As to working out their eternal salvation and making use of the means to do so--such as reception of the Sacraments and prayer--they accomplish these duties only carelessly, in a very offhanded manner, once in a while and for the sake of appearances.
Sensual wisdom is a lustful desire for pleasures, The worldly-wise make a profession of it, when they seek only the satisfaction of the senses; when they are inordinately fond of entertainment; when they sun whatever mortifies and inconveniences the body, such as fasting and other austerities; when they continually think of eating, drinking, playing, laughing, amusing themselves and having an agreeable time; when they eagerly seek after soft beds, merry games, sumptuous feasts and fashionable society.
Then, after having unscrupulously indulged in all these pleasures--perhaps without displeasing the world or injuring their health--they look for the "least scrupulous" confessor (such is the name they give to those easy going confessors who shirk their duty) that they may receive from him, at little cost, the peaceful sanction of their soft and effeminate life, and a plenary indulgence for all their sins. I say, at little cost, for these, sensually wise, want, as penance, the recitation of only a few prayers, or the giving of an alms, because they dislike what afflicts the body.
Devilish wisdom consists in an unlawful striving for human esteem and honors. This is the wisdom which the worldly-wise profess when they aim, although not openly, at greatness, honors, dignities and high positions; when they wish to be seen, esteemed, praised and applauded by men; when in their studies, their works, their endeavors their words and their actions, they seek only the good opinion and praise of men, so that they may be looked upon as pious people, as men of learning, as great leaders, as clever lawyers, as people of boundless and distinguished merit, or deserving of high consideration; while they cannot bear an insult, or a rebuke; or they cover up their faults and make a show of their fine qualities.
With Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, we must detest and condemn these three kinds of false wisdom if we wish to acquire the true one, which does not seek its own interest, which is not found on this earth, nor in the heart of those who lead a comfortable life, but which abhors all that which is great and high in the estimation of men.
To come to the perfect possession of Divine Wisdom, we must accept and follow His teaching. We must begin renouncing ourselves and keeping the great commandments of loving God and our neighbor. We must renounce the flesh, the world and its temporal goods. Above all we must renounce our self-will. To do this, we must humbly pray, we must do penance and suffer persecution. For all this we need the help of Divine Wisdom, Who invites us to go to Him.
With His help we need not fear, provided we be clean of heart. To succeed we must persevere and not look back; we must walk in the light and act according to the teachings of Divine Wisdom; we must be vigilant and avoid the maxims of the false prophets; we must not fear what may be done to our body and reputation, but only be solicitous about the kingdom of God, which we can only enter by the narrow gate. Therefore, we must keep in mind the Eight Beatitudes and we must be thankful to God for having taught us these heavenly truths. (St. Louis de Montfort's True Devotion: Consecration to Mary, Complete Five-Week Preparation, compiled by Father Helmuts Libietus, Angelus Press, 1998, pp. 31-36, taken from Saint Louis de Montfort's book, The Love of Eternal Wisdom.)
Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort taught us that we must pray the Rosary constantly to obtain the Heavenly graces that we need to reject the false "wisdom" of this world.
The chief concern of the Christian should be to tend to perfection. "Be faithful imitators of God, as his well-beloved children," the great Apostle tells us. This obligation is included in the eternal decree of our predestination, as the one and only means prescribed by God to attain everlasting glory.
Saint Gregory of Nyssa makes a delightful comparison when he says that we are all artists and that our souls are blank canvasses which we have to fill in. The colors which we use are the Christian virtues, and the original which we have to copy is Jesus Christ, the perfect living image of God the Father. Just as a painter who wants to do a lifelike portrait places the model before his eyes and looks at it before making each stroke, so the Christian must always have before his eyes the life and virtues of Jesus Christ, so as never to say, think or do anything which is not in conformity with his model.
It was because Our Lady wanted to help us in the great task of working out our salvation that she ordered Saint Dominic to teach the faithful to meditate upon the sacred mysteries of the life of Jesus Christ. She did this, not only that they might adore and glorify him, but chiefly that they might pattern their lives and actions on his virtues.
Children copy their parents through watching them and talking to them, and they learn their own language through hearing them speak. An apprentice learns his trade through watching his master at work; in the same way the faithful members of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary can become like their divine Master if they reverently study and imitate the virtues of Jesus which are shown in the fifteen mysteries of his life. They can do this with the help of his grace and through the intercession of his blessed Mother.
Long ago, Moses was inspired by God to command the Jewish people never to forget the graces which had been showered upon them. The Son of God has all the more reason to command us to engrave the mysteries of his life, passion and glory upon our hearts and to have them always before our eyes, since each mystery reminds us of his goodness to us in some special way and it is by these mysteries that he has shown us his overwhelming love and desire for our salvation. "Oh, all you who pass by, pause a while," he says, "and see if there has ever been any sorrow like to the sorrow I have endured for you. Be mindful of my poverty and humiliations; think of the gall and wormwood I took for you in my bitter passion.
These words and many others which could be given here should be more than enough to convince us that we must not only say the Rosary with our lips in honor of Jesus and Mary, but also meditate upon the sacred mysteries while we are saying it.
Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort suffered much for his own rejection of the ways of the world in his day, especially from those vile people known as Jansenists. He had to be detached from many of his own plans, including his famous Calvary scene, which he was ordered to tear down after he had gone to so much time and effort to build it for the honor and glory of God and to bring to the public's mind the sufferings of Our Lady at the foot of the Holy Cross as she watched her Divine Son, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, suffer and die to redeem us from our sins. We must trod the path of the saints as well by being totally detached from the ways of this passing world, being attached always and at all times only to the will of God, Who desires us to scale the heights of personal sanctity with every beat of our hearts.
Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort offered the ineffable Sacrifice of the Cross in an unbloody manner in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We, too, must be devoted to the Holy Mass, which is the perfect prayer, in order to attached to the things of Heaven that we are willing to sacrifice all in this world for the love of the Most Holy Trinity.
This is how the matter is put in the American preface to The Hidden Treasure: Holy Mass, by Saint Leonard of Port Maurice:
"Where there is no Mass," writes one of the Fathers of the English Oratory, "there is no Christianity." The reason is plain. Christ's life was one of sacrifice--not merely of the figurative sacrifice of praise and prayer, but one of outward act, of suffering and of death. His religion must be like Himself: it must be the continuation of the divine human life that He led upon earth, representing and perpetuating, by some sacred rite, the sacrifice that began in the womb of Mary and ended upon the cross of Calvary. That rite is the holy Mass. Do we always realize it as such? Does the conviction sink deep into us, when offering, or assisting at the adorable sacrifice, that Jesus is re-enacting, in our presence, the mysteries of His life and death?
The altar of the Mass is the holy house of Nazareth, the city of Bethlehem, the Egyptian place of exile, the hill of Calvary, the garden-tomb in which Our Saviour's corpse reposed, and the Mount of Olives from which He ascended. The Passion, it is true, is that which is primarily represented and continued in the holy Mass; yet the prayers and rites of the sacrifice refer, at times, to other mysteries. Thus the dropping of a part of the sacred host into the chalice, before the Agnus Dei,represents the reunion of Christ's soul with His body and blood on the morning of the Resurrection. For a description of the many and beautiful analogies between the eucharistic life of Our Lord and His sacred Infancy, we refer the reader to Father Faber's Treatise on the Blessed Sacrament.
The Mass is truly a "hidden treasure," and, alas, our cold, dead faith allows it to remain so. If we valued it as we ought, we would hurry every morning to the church, ceaseless of the snows of winter and the heats of summer, in order to get a share of the riches of this treasure.
The saints knew the value of one Mass: that it was a dark day in their calendar on which they were deprived of the happy privilege of saying or hearing Mass. Although St. Francis de Sales was overburdened with apostolic work on the Mission of the Chablais, he made it a point never to miss his daily Mass. In order to keep his holy resolution, he had frequently to cross the river Drance, to the village of Marin, in which there was a Catholic church. It happened, in the winter of 1596, that a great freshet carried away a portion of the bridge over the stream, and the passengers were, in consequence, compelled to cross on a plank laid over those arches of the broken structure that had withstood the waters. Heavy falls of snow, followed by severe frosts, made this board very slippery, so that it became dangerous to attempt passing on on it; but St. Francis was not be deterred, for despite the remonstration of his friends, he made the perilous journey every morning, creeping over the icy plank on his hands and feet, thus daily risking his life rather than lose Mass.
Dear Christian reader! beg this glorious saint to obtain for you and me some portion of his burning love for the most holy and adorable sacrifice of the altar.
We must never be discouraged or disheartened because others, be they relatives or friends or total strangers, calumniate us for our defense of Christ the King. It has been this way since the Sanhedrin sought to intimidate the first Pope, Saint Peter, into silence about the Holy Name of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ:
And calling in the apostles, after they had scourged them, they charged them that they should not speak at all in the name of Jesus; and they dismissed them.
And they indeed went from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus. And every day they ceased not in the temple, and from house to house, to teach and preach Christ Jesus. (Acts 5: 40-42.)
We must, as the consecrated slaves of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray as many Rosaries each day as our states-in-life permit, confident that Our Lady will use whatever merits we earn and give them to the Most Sacred Heart of her Divine Son for the honor and glory of the Most Blessed Trinity and for the good, temporal and eternal, of the souls of all men on the face of this earth. Nothing should matter to us other than being faithful as we seek to be ready at all times to die in states of Sanctifying Grace as members of the Catholic Church and to be known at that moment as a friend of Christ the King in life and at the hour of our deaths.
Viva Cristo Rey! Vivat Christus Rex!
Immaculate Heart of Mary, triumph soon!
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, pray for us!
Saint Joseph, Patron of Departing Souls, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.
Saint Paul of the Cross, pray for us.
Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, pray for us.
Saint Vitalis, pray for us.
Saint Peter Chanel, pray for us. .
See also: A Litany of Saints
Isn't it time to pray a Rosary now?