My wife and I have been talking about this quote for a while, since I often use it, thinking it came from the apparition Our Lady of Good Success in Ecuador. In that very early apparition, two hundred years before the Grand Lodge of Freemasons was publicly established in London, England in 1717, Our Lady says that Masonic rule will tyrannize and destroy goodness across the whole Earth. In particular, She follows the Sacraments, talking about the corruptions of priests, the persecution of Holy Orders, the impurity of religious, and from there the lack of virginal souls in general, how rare this gem and treasure becomes, then the attack on the Sacrament of Matrimony.
Before going into the tearful list I have just given, She makes mention of the other Sacraments more briefly: namely, the rarity of Extreme Unction and Penance, (I cannot recall if she mentions Baptism or Confirmation), and the abuse of the Body and Blood of Our Lord.
These Sacraments in proportion to the attention She gives to them, are the units by which community is built. I say this not to denigrate their holiness on the supernatural or even preternatural level, but to make a point which I have enumerated in the title of this article. For some reason, I cannot find the quote above anywhere I look, now that my wife has asked me if she could use it in a public reflection she is making, but nevertheless, I think it is a nuclear deficit which explains thoroughly the entire emptiness and fruitlessness of our present world.
The Sacraments are a potent and visible expression of God's charity towards mankind, His love of us which caused Him to render up His Only Begotten Son, which is what occurs in that principle and total Sacrament, the Eucharist. In extension of the Eucharist, there is Baptism, which grants us a regenerative soul where once we had a dead soul. After Baptism is Confirmation, whereby we align our wills with the Will of God and participate in the great combat occuring between Him and His enemies. All of these are about the entrance of the Holy Ghost (and indeed the whole Holy Trinity) into our souls, which is most naturally pictured in the marriage which God instituted on the Sixth Day of Creation and which has persisted to this day. Our Lord raised this marriage to the level of Sacrament and sanctified it so that we could more clearly see its analogy to the destiny of our souls being wedded to their Beloved, the Divine Spouse. That is why marriage is the closest relationship available to us on Earth, with the singular exception of the relationship available to us with our God. To illustrate the significance of this, marriage is the single most natural and common state for mankind in which to exist. The fact that it is a Sacrament means that, just as with all other Sacraments, it cannot occur without the direct and timely intervention and outpouring of grace from God and particularly the Holy Ghost, in a specific predictable manner, through a specific and strict ritual. The significance of that is further illustrated by the fact that all of society is built upon this main unit of marriage, which produces the family, and continues the so-far unending procession of human generations. Hence, from this comes community, and from this comes all of life, history, and happiness.
I hope not to lose you. I am making a point here about the intervention of God's grace in a very real and practical manner, and from it I wish to derive a manner of living which I would like to recommend to you personally. Ultimately, what I am talking about is the nature of the supernatural virtues opposed to the natural virtues, and particularly that of charity, which we all lack to an unprecedented level, which implies our impending destruction. But first, let us look at another example of the workings of God that proceed in the same manner.
I have been reading Dante's Purgatorio. The thing which I am about to describe to you is summarily rejected nowadays, but the same thing is present in many saints, principally Aquinas, and is an element of (I believe) Scholastic philosophy proceeding from Classical philosophy. I may do a poor job of explaining it and may have a poor understanding of it. But it is the process by which man receives a soul.
First, the soul of a man reserves a particular substance which contains the formative and active power, or the creative power, or the fatherly power. This substance then enters within the woman and mingles with her substance, which is a passive and potential power, a sort of fruitful power. Hence, one is called seed and the other egg, or semen and ovum, which is seen also throughout Scripture and in Catholic thinking, for instance in the seed of the Word, the Blessed Fruit of the Womb, a seminary and a seminarian, who are to receive the seeds of wisdom. Were our minds pure and not contaminated by our culture, we would have access to many more beautiful reflections and meditations proceeding from the conception of the human body.
The seed mixes with the egg and works within it, granting it life, a vegetative soul. It forms within it the various parts and organs until it has formed the brain, which marks the completion of the animal soul, the sensitive faculty. But at this point, it does not yet have a rational soul. As Dante says, this is the point where God turns with joy at the perfection of the nature which He created and He Himself precedented by His analagous creation of Adam. And, as in that day where He breathed into the slime of the Earth, He again breathes into this natural slime of the human body, the commingling of bloods, as it was described in Dante. If you have ever cracked open an egg on which a broody hen was nesting, you can see some of what I am describing. Thus, God looks upon a poor pile of dust, and out of love for Himself and desire to glorify Himself (something inappropriate to any other object but appropriate for every other subject), He endows man with reason yet again at every conception, which he cannot do for himself or his children. Conception is in this way a picture of Baptism. Both are a signification that man cannot live without a superabundance of charitable, voluntary suffering for his own sake on the part of someone he does not know.
Regardless, this is the point at which man attains reason, the faculty that exalts him to the level of angels or alternately debases him by his fitness for judgement to the level of demons. And it occurs as in the Sacraments, by a direct, predictable, and timely intervention of God's grace.
This then is where we begin to draw our ethical conclusion. For how do we exalt ourselves to the level of an angel by use of our reason? How do we damn ourselves? A demon lives by denying God's authority, exalting his own intellect and will (the entireity of his being), and crawling on his belly through dust, which is us, the sons of Adam. An angel, alternately, lives by obeying God, offering his own intellect and will (the entireity of his being), and contemplating God at all times during both duty and rest. This is a basic understanding, and I pray I have made no errors. The interesting thing to note is that neither a demon nor an angel lives without God's direct intervention at all times. Not only did He create them, but their entire activity is relative completely to His, and the one suffers and the other enjoys their respective fates by definition in relation to His presence, the one being banished from it and the other being present in it. There is no third option, where God does not take a part, since God is the prime Existence. All things exist in relation to Him. One is in Judgement, and the other is in Blessedness.
We men are most miserable because, unlike the angels and demons, it is possible for us not to understand this. We have in some ways a greater access to sin because we can forget that it is sin, and call evil good or good evil. What does this mean? Well, when we indulge in pride, it is possible for us to actually think that our interests are the most important or only interests that exist; in wrath, that we are the only reliable or possible source of justice; in envy, that we are the most suitable or only recipient of goods; in sloth, that we are the only maintainers of our body or health; in avarice, that we are the only promoters of our own security; in gluttony, what Epicurus taught; in lust, that the conceptive power of man is the highest power in the world. Namely, it is possible for us to forget God, even though there is nothing we do which is not in relation to Him, even if we do nothing, and by Him we have and are everything which we have and are.
None of this has been simply put, and I ask you to forgive me. It is the importunity of the timing of this article that has done it. But let me try to be simple here, and describe for you simply two ways of living and compare them.
The first is this: A man enters into this life with a certain degree of mystification about where he came from and where he is going. However, he is immediately presented with many different forces that are opposed to him being here. In response, he digs within himself and finds his own power. Using this, he establishes himself, works hard, exerts every possible resource he has, and accumulates all the necessaries of life and even a little extra. He may have children, and certainly provides for others beside himself, all of which surround and serve him as their provider. He ought to be happy until he dies.
The second is this: A man is born and knows it is only by the sufferance of his parents. He enters into public life and receives his necessaries by the suffering of the community that cultivated, manufactured, and distributed them. When he receives all that he does, he is constantly reminded of his absolute inability to render these things by his own power, and is struck with a profound sense of relying upon another. In his later life, when by the natural processes of growth of resources, he has excess, he feels obligated to give up his excess not only to those who are directly connected to him, but also to perfect strangers, with no fear of having too little, because of his experiences in the past.
Those of you who think this describes Communism, have lost yourselves in the most worldly influence of current events, a lack of monarchy, and jargon.
Now the first scenario is the American scenario and involves the Protestant work ethic and the sorts of virtues described in self-help books, namely, either vices or, at best, natural virtues.
The second is the Catholic life. It is based on the virtue of charity, and no less that of faith and hope whereby we are promised and encouraged to certain things for which we have asked without merit. Every moment is a reminder of the natural virtues, of justice, prudence, temperance, and fortitude, and most principally, that sweet and safe road of humility. By humility, we understand our lowness, and God lifts us up.
Now, here is my question for you: Which of these two lifestyles is the most secure? Which is the most just? Which is likely to end well? Which is the most embarrassing? Which is the most difficult? Are you forced into one or the other? Is one prevented by having material goods or the other by having none?
If I said to you, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will give you a gift, would you think that it would be, say, a book I wrote, or something that advertises my work, so that I can make more money in the future? If I came to you and begged you to tell me how I can serve you with my labor and free time, would you think I expected recompense?
Anybody that has dedicated themselves to good works knows how difficult it is to make people receive them, and how hard it is to find someone who asks for charity. You go ahead and try it, and you'll see what I mean. This is a uniquely modern situation.
I pray for a world in which I can work for free and earn treasure in heaven, and I receive all my necessaries, and everything which God promises to me, by the free suffering of others, preferably with insults. I also wish for a world in which it is easily visible who is a fitting object for charity and who is a fitting object to ask for charity. The reason I desire these things is not because I would enjoy them, but because it is recommended by God, and because getting to Heaven is very difficult and the only worthwhile goal or ideal.
Again, forgive me for the poor quality of this writing and my inability to communicate what I am trying to say. It might be that I am driven mostly by the obligation of doing four articles a month.
May the Lord reward you, St Sebastian pray for us,