|Jorge Bergoglio Jesuit Scholastic|
Accenting the Positive
It is unfortunate that, to many people, "leading a good life" means "keeping away from sin." Actually, "keeping from sin" is only one side of the coin of virtue. It is necessary, but it is not enough. Perhaps this negative view of religion as a series of "Thou shalt nots" explains the cheerlessness in the spiritual lives of some well-intentioned souls. To keep away from sin is an essential beginning, but love for God and neighbor calls for far more than this.
There are, for example, the corporal works of mercy. They are called "corporal" from the Latin word "corpus," meaning "body," because they pertain to our neighbor's physical and temporal welfare. As gleaned from the Bible, they are seven in number:
1) to feed the hungry;
2) to give drink to the thirsty;
3) to clothe the naked;
4) to visit the imprisoned;
5) to shelter the homeless [to harbor the foreigner];
6) to visit the sick;
7) to bury the dead.
In his description of the last judgment (Matt 25:34-40), our Lord Jesus Christ makes our performance of these corporal works of mercy the test of our love for himself:
"Amen I say to you, as long as you did it for one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it for me."
The Faith Explained, Leo J. Trese, Princeton: Scepter, 2001, 201.
Consider also the great positive demands of the interior life. The "keeping away from sin" is the first stage: the purgative way. But there are two other ways that follow in the spiritual life which are the illuminative and the unitive ways.
I. The purgative way is the way of beginners. There are four means for achieving it:
-the prayer of beginners
-penance, to atone for the past
-mortification, to safeguard the future
-warfare against capital sins
-the warfare against temptation
All the while practicing the theological and the moral virtues. The Spiritual Life, Adolfe Tanquerey, Maryland: The Newman Press, 1930, 309.
II. The illuminative way is the state of souls more advanced in the spiritual life. There are four means of achieving it:
-affective prayer, the distinctive prayer of the illuminative way
-struggle against the new offenses of the enemy 461
III. The unitive way is the habitual and intimate union with God, through Jesus Christ. It is God's gratuitous action in the soul of the one who is proficient in the purgative and illuminative way. There are three forms of the unitive way.
-the simple or active unitive way
-the mystic or passive unitive way
-extraordinary mystical phenomena 607
Cf. Each of the elements in the above outline represents a chapter in The Spiritual Life.
A divided heart is always an unhappy heart.
A divided heart is always ineffective life--it never produces a real goodness.
The reason missionaries are happy is because their hearts are wholly dedicated to souls.
We know unhappy bankers, unhappy millionaires, unhappy beauty queens, unhappy kings--but there has never been known an unhappy missionary. (From an anonymous 50's magazine clipping).
Temperance, etc. (by way of example, one of the cardinal [moral] virtues referenced above)
Never give your opinion if you're not asked for it, even though you may think it is the best one.
The Way, Josemaría Escrivá, 674.
It's true that he was a sinner. But don't pass so final a judgment. Have pity in your heart and don't forget that he may yet be an Augustine, while you remain just another mediocrity. 675
All the things of this world are no more than dirt. Place them in a heap under your feet and you'll be so much nearer to heaven. 676
Gold, silver, jewels: dirt, piles of manure.
Delights, sensual pleasures, satisfactions of the appetites: like a beast, like a mule, like a hog, like a cock, like a bull...
Honors, distinctions, titles: things of air, puffs of pride, lies, nothingness. 677
Gluttony is an ugly vice. Don't you feel a bit amused and even a bit disgusted when you see a group of distinguished gentlemen, seated solemnly around a table, stuffing fatty foods into their digestive tubes with an air of ritual, as if the whole thing were an end in itself? 679
Don't talk about food at the table. That's a lack of refinement unworthy of you. Speak about noble things--of the mind, of the soul--and you'll have dignified this duty. 680
The day you leave the table without having made some small mortification, you will have eaten like a pagan. 681
Ordinarily you eat more than you need. And the natural result, a heavy fullness and discomfort, benumbs your mind and renders you unfit to savor supernatural treasures.
What a fine virtue temperance is, even by earthly standards. 682
I see you, christian gentleman (that's what you say you are), kissing an image, muttering some vocal prayer, crying out against those who attack the Church of God, even frequenting the holy sacraments.
But I don't see you making a sacrifice, nor avoiding certain conversation of a worldly nature (I could with justice have used another adjective), nor being generous toward those in need (including that same Church of God!), nor putting up with a failing in one of your brothers, nor checking your pride for the sake of the common good, nor getting rid of that tight cloak of selfishness, nor...so many other things!
Yes, I see you...But I don't see you...And yet, you say you are a christian gentleman!. What a poor idea you have of Christ! 683
So your talents, your personality, your qualities are being wasted. So you're not allowed to take full advantage of them.
Meditate well on these words of a spiritual writer: "The incense offered to God is not wasted. Our Lord is more honored by the immolation of your talents than by their vain use." 684
Relativism's false premise: no absolute Truth
πῶς γάρ, ὦ φίλε, δύναιτο ἄν τις ἀρχόμενος ἀπὸ δόξης ψευδοῦς ἐπί τι τῆς ἀληθείας καὶ μικρὸν μέρος ἀφικόμενος κτήσασθαι φρόνησιν;
How impossible it is, friend, to achieve real understanding in an approach to any part of the total area of what is true (τῆς ἀληθείας) , however small, if one begins from a false opinion.