Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


Sexagesima Sunday—16 February A.D. 2020

Ave Maria!



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Lenten Observance



    There are at least two parables in the Gospels in which Our Lord describes salvation in terms of the sowing of seeds, this one, in Luke[1] and one in Matthew in which the kingdom of heaven is like a field sown with good seed, but which an enemy has over sown with weeds.[2] (We would have heard this second parable on the fifth Sunday after Epiphany, if it had not been Candlemas.)  Now, it may seem that there is nothing much more random than tossing seeds about in a field.  But the reality is that human beings can exercise much greater control over their lives than the sower has over the seeds.

    A lot of things can keep a seed from germinating.  It may have no moisture, it may land on a rock, it may be eaten by a bird, and so on.  But whereas the seed has no intellect and no will, human beings have both of these.  Our intellect can analyze the world around us and determine what is best for us.  And our will can act on that knowledge.  The will can move the body to be in the right place, doing the right things.  Of course, this analysis and action is dependent on an intellect that is properly formed, and a will that is properly strengthened.  Sometimes, the Devil can mislead us into thinking that something is good for us when it is really bad—another helping of potato chips or a few more glasses of wine may seem positively good for us, when the are actually very bad.  If we don't carefully study consequences, we may decide on bad actions.  It is equally possible for a strong will to move us in the wrong direction—we have all seen a child throwing a temper tantrum—moved purely by force of will to disobey his mother's most logical commands.

    So, how do we properly form our intellect?  The first step is to recognize the Natural Law.  It should be obvious that certain behaviors are incompatible with living in any society of people. A healthy and prosperous society simply cannot exist where people routinely lie to each other, beat each other, cheat each other, commit adultery, or refuse to be responsible for their possessions.  Over the centuries, thinking people have all accepted the reasonableness of these limitations on everyone's behavior.

    Yet, centuries ago, God, our Creator, recognizing that not everyone thinks or cares for the well-being of society, gave us His Commandments.  The last seven of the Commandments rather specifically tell us to avoid the same behaviors as the Natural Law tells us to avoid—the beating, cheating, lieing, and so on.  The first three Commandments tell us about our required behavior toward God Himself.  In theory they should be known by carefully thinking people as part of the Natural Law, but God is not part of our everyday experience, and even carefully thinking people may get their relationship with Him wrong. For example, history notes a number of societies which failed to apprehend God's unity—worshipping, instead a separate “god” for each of the powerful forces in the world around them--a “god” for the sun, a “god” for the moon, a “god” for the weather, the wind, the ocean, and the earth, and so forth.  Even among modern people who should know better, we have seen a resurgence in the worship of the earth “god”—Gaia, Pachamamma, Mother Earth, or whatever.

    Finally, we have God's Church to properly form our consciences—particularly in the more complex moral issues.  Even with today's confusion, the Church can be recognized by Its conformity with bother the Natural Law and with the Commandments—the true Church will never espouse things like idolatry or adultery. The true Church is unchanging—all of Its component parts will be united in teaching the same beliefs and behaviors as were taught by Jesus Christ and His Apostles. It will acknowledge that there is objective reality that cannot be changed through :dialogue.”  If modern teachers are too confusing or ambiguous, you can reliably consult the writings of the Father's and Doctors of earlier centuries, for truth never changes.

    That leaves us to ask how we are to strengthen the will?  The first part of that is through prayer—it should always be in our prayers that we will be able to know God's will and that we will be able to adopt His will as our own.  The second way to strengthen the will is through practice.  This is why we are preparing to observe Lent.  By exercising self‑discipline in relatively innocent matters, we will strengthen our will to resist temptation to sin should it come our way.  Prayer and practice are both necessary.

    We are not seeds blowing in the wind.  We are not the weeds growing amongst the wheat.  We are the Catholic brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ; sons and daughters of God the Father.  Through His grace we can know His will, and our will can become strong enough to make His will our own.  No matter where the winds of life blow us, the proper use of our intellect and will can move us to bring forth God's good fruits abundantly.  The fruits of everlasting life!



Dei via est íntegra

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