Finding true happiness

Some people do not acknowledge their transcendental dimension, and as a consequence they do not investigate the evidence for it or even reflect on their restricted assumptions about themselves. This does not mean that their transcendental nature will lie dormant. It most assuredly will not. Rather, it will produce a myriad of frustrations with the world of restricted and conditioned beings. For example, we will still have a desire for unconditional love whether we acknowledge it or not; but because we do not acknowledge it, we begin to look for unconditional love in restricted and conditioned individuals. They of course will never be able to satisfy our desire for unconditional love, and this will produce feelings of frustration and rejection. We may make judgments about them such as “they are not understanding enough”, “not responsive enough”, “not sympathetic enough”, “not strong enough”, and so forth. Thus, failure to acknowledge our transcendental desires almost invariably leads to frustration and unhappiness, because it compels us to look for perfect and unconditional love in imperfect and conditioned places.

Conversely, if we do acknowledge our transcendentality, and we pursue a Being who can truly fulfill it, everything changes. The more we open ourselves to a true transcendent power, the more that transcendent power responds to us. Of course, we can only know this by either trusting in the testimony of those who have done it or by doing it ourselves. In either case we will have to make a decision to let God into our minds and hearts. Though God takes the first step by inviting us through the numinous experience, the desire for the sacred, and our five transcendental desires, He awaits our response to His invitation. This requires an act of the will—a little leap of faith—to connect with the deity who is already present to us. This connection has many facets—opening ourselves to the deity, responding to His call, learning His ways, responding to His guidance, asking for help, and surrendering to His providential love—to see Him more clearly, follow Him more nearly, and love Him more dearly.

(From: Finding True Happiness: Satisfying Our Restless Hearts by Robert J. Spitzer )

Freedom

We often have an erroneous concept of freedom. We think that freedom is the ability to choose between contraries and, therefore, the possibility of choosing evil. We think that a transgression is a manifestation of our freedom. But that is not true at all. Let us take a musical comparison: the violinist who practices his exercises for hours acquires little by little a greater mastery of his instrument. Will he be less free as a result? Would freedom be, for him, the ability to play wrong notes? Is it not instead such mastery of his instrument that if, unfortunately, a string were to slacken during a concert, he could continue to play without anyone noticing the problem? Virtue is precisely what enables us to perform excellent actions easily and joyfully, in a stable manner, with profound interior freedom, the freedom of the children of God. – Jean-Charles Nault

Christ’s words are always words to be done

JESUS’ WORDS are for doing, for incarnating in ourselves. Just as Jesus himself is called The Word, because God’s innermost Expression of himself is not only a passing thought but a Person, so too the words to us of this same Person by their very nature and dynamism want to become incarnated in us, in our souls, hearts, and lives. A Christian’s life is intended to be the concrete manifestation of the Word in the world. Our lives ought to “proceed” from us into the world made strong and fertile by the advent of the Word within us. A Christian life is meant to be a visible witness of trinitarian fecundity of the Trinity’s interior life of charity –  Erasmo Leiva

Saint Augustine on martyrs

We, the Christian community, assemble to celebrate the memory of the martyrs with ritual solemnity because we want to be inspired to follow their example, share in their merits, and be helped by their prayers.  Yet we erect no altars to any of the martyrs, even in the martyrs’ burial chapels themselves.

No bishop, when celebrating at an altar where these holy bodies rest, has ever said, “Peter, we make this offering to you,” or “Paul, to you,” or “Cyprian, to you.”  No, what is offered is offered always to God, who crowned the martyrs.  We offer in the chapels where the bodies of those he crowned rest, so the memories that cling to those places will stir our emotions and encourage us to greater love both for the martyrs whom we can imitate and for God whose grace enables us to do so.

So we venerate the martyrs with the same veneration of love and fellowship that we give to the holy men of God still with us.  We sense that the hearts of these latter are just as ready to suffer death for the sake of the Gospel, and yet we feel more devotion toward those who have already emerged victorious from the struggle.  We honor those who are fighting on the battlefield of this life here below, but we honor more confidently those who have already achieved the victor’s crown and live in heaven.

But the veneration strictly called “worship,” or latria, that is, the special homage belonging only to the divinity, is something we give and teach others to give to God alone.  The offering of a sacrifice belongs to worship in this sense (that is why those who sacrifice to idols are called idol-worshippers), and we neither make nor tell others to make any such offering to any martyr, any holy soul, or any angel.  If anyone among us falls into this error, he is corrected with words of sound doctrine and must then either mend his ways or else be shunned.

The saints themselves forbid anyone to offer them the worship they know is reserved for God, as is clear from the case of Paul and Barnabas.  When the Lycaonians were so amazed by their miracles that they wanted to sacrifice to them as gods, the apostles tore their garments, declared that they were not gods, urged the people to believe them, and forbade them to worship them.

Yet the truths we teach are one thing, the abuses thrust upon us are another.  There are commandments that we are bound to give; there are breaches of them that we are commanded to correct, but until we correct them we must of necessity put up with them.

(Lib. 20, 21: CSEL 25, 562-563) – Taken from Office of Reading for the memorial of Pope Saint Damasus I

What we can clearly see is the Church’s understanding of the communion of saints, celebrating the memory of the saints and asking for their intersession.  That this practice and teaching were there from the beginning of Christianity is undisputed.

Quote

You cannot present your heart to God as a gift-offering on the altar of sacrifice (θυσιαστήϱιον) if that heart is turned against God’s other children. The way to union with God in worship cannot lead away from your brother. It is impossible for me to be a child of God without being a brother of all those others for whom Christ died. I cannot love and adore God and at the same time hate and exclude God’s children from my life. I cannot at once love and hate Christ. Christ’s Incarnation, death, and Resurrection mean that he has become inseparable from those he came to redeem.  (Erasmo Leiva)