Friday, January 24, 2020

How Satan tempts mothers to abort their children

Venerable Mary of Agreda, author of The Mystical City of God. From Chapter XV, Book IV:

He misses no chance of causing us damage or leading us into sin and robbing us of grace, even from the moment of our conception until that of our death. Hence so long must last also our defense.

281. All this, especially with the children of the Church, happens in the following manner. As soon as the demons suspect that the conception of a human body is to take place, he first notes the intention of the parents, and whether they are in the state of grace or not, or whether they have committed any excess in the act of generation; he studies also the complexion of the humors of their bodies, for ordinarily these humors influence also those of the body generated. The demons also take note of the particular as well as of the general natural causes and conditions of nature, which unite in bringing about the generation and the organization of the human body. From these different concurring elements of generation, the demons, with their vast experience, judge as much as possible of the complexion or inclinations of the one conceived and they are wont to layout great plans for future action. 

If they fear good results, they seek to hinder as much as possible the last generation or infusion of the soul, waylaying the mother with dangers or temptations to bring about an abortion before the creation of the soul, which is ordinarily delayed forty or eighty days. But as soon as they see God create or infuse the soul, the wrath of these dragons exerts itself in furious activity to prevent the creature from issuing to light, and from attaining Baptism, if it is to be born where this Sacrament can easily be administered. For this purpose they suggest and tempt the mothers to many disorders and excesses, whereby the parturition is forced and a premature birth or the death of the child in the womb might be caused; for among Catholics and heretics, who still administer Baptism, the demons content themselves with depriving children of Baptism and thus withholding them in limbo from the vision of God. Among pagans and idolaters they are not so solicitous, because among them damnation is in certain prospect.

282. Against their malign influence the Most High provides defense and protection in various ways. The most common is that of his vast and universal Providence, which insures the proper effects of natural causes in their time, independently of the perversion or hindrance of the demons. For this is the limit set to their power. Otherwise, if God would give free scope to their implacable malice, they would overturn the whole world. The goodness of the Creator will not allow this, nor does He wish to deliver over his works or the government of inferior matters, much less that of men, to his sworn and mortal enemies. For the demons, in his scheme of the universe, hold the places merely of vile executioners; and even in this office they do no more than what is commanded or permitted them.

If depraved men would not join hands with these enemies, entertaining their deceits and by their sins meriting punishment, all nature would preserve the common order of cause and effect both in general and in particular; and there would be no occasion for such great misfortunes and losses among the faithful, in the diminution of crops, in contagious diseases, in sudden deaths, and in other devastations invented by the devil. All these and many other evils, happening even at the birth of children through vices and disorders, we merit ourselves by uniting with the demons for our own chastisement and by delivering ourselves over to their malice.


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Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Four Degrees of Poverty – St. Alphonsus de Liguori

True poverty consists in having less than is necessary.

Following are selected passages from pages 263-276 from The True Spouse of Jesus Christ. Although he wrote this book particularly for nuns, St. Alphonsus states in his preface that only a small portion of it is directed exclusively to them, “and what regards the Christian virtues, will be found highly useful even for seculars.” In fact he subtitled the book: The Nun Sanctified by the Virtues of her State.

The first degree of perfect religious poverty is not to possess anything as one's own. Hence a religious should regard but as a loan whatever she possesses, and should be ready to give it up at the first intimation of the Superior's will. A sister who is afflicted at being deprived of anything by the Superior shows that she did not retain it with the true spirit of poverty, or at least that she had some attachment to it. And if you feel an attachment to anything whatsoever, resolve, in imitation of that great servant of God, Sister Mary of the Cross, either to deprive yourself of it, or to bring it to the Superior and leave it at her disposal. In a word, you must preserve the heart free from all affection, even for those things you are permitted to retain. 

The second degree of poverty is, to deprive yourself of whatever is superfluous: for the smallest superfluity will prevent a perfect union of the soul with God. You may imagine that a certain sum of money or a certain portion of property will enable you to relieve the poor or to assist your companions. But I repeat that it is the nun that has nothing to give, and not the religious that has the means of distributing alms, who edifies the Church. St. Thomas says that “it is good to give your goods to the needy, but it is better to be poor with Christ.” If you truly desire to be with Jesus Christ, I advise you, not indeed to be singular, but not to allow any of your companions to surpass you in poverty. And that you may be among the poorest of your companions, you must endeavor to be poor in all things, in your dress, in your furniture, and in your food. In the chronicles of St. Jerome we read that when Superiors found curiosities in the convent they immediately cast them into the fire, calling them idols of religious. The great servant of God Sister Mary Magdalene Carafa would not keep in her cell paintings or presents, or even many books. “For reading,” she would say, “a single book is sufficient and contains more than we can put into practice.”

The third degree of poverty requires that you do not complain when you are in want even of necessaries. The Mother of God once said to one of her devout servants, a Franciscan nun: “My child, as long as all your wants are supplied, you are not poor; true poverty consists in having less than is necessary.” “To desire to be poor,” says St. Francis de Sales, “and not to feel any of the inconveniences of want, is to wish for the honor of poverty and advantages of riches.” On every occasion in which you have to suffer from want have before your eyes the beautiful sentiment of St. Jane Frances Chantal, who was accustomed to say, that as the opportunities of practicing poverty are so rare, we should, whenever they occur, accept them with gladness.
Excellent biography of the saint from TAN Books.

The fourth and last degree of poverty requires not only that a religious be content with what is poor, but also that she prefer and select what is poorest – the poorest cell, the poorest bed the poorest clothes, and the poorest food. It will be useful to insert in this place the beautiful instruction of Father Anthony Torres to a nun who was one of his penitents. “Since your Spouse esteemed poverty so highly, you should love it as a treasure; you should practice it in all things, and glory in it more than in the most splendid ornaments. Do not allow any nun or lay-sister in the convent to be poorer than you. Do not possess or seek anything, however necessary it may appear, without first looking at your naked Spouse on the Cross and asking His permission.” And dearest sister, since you have left all things for God, do not, for the sake of any miserable earthly good, expose your soul to the danger of eternal perdition. Imagine that God places before you Himself on the one hand and creatures on the other, and that He speaks to you in the language that He once addressed to the Venerable Mary Crucified: “Choose between me and creatures whichsoever will make you happy.” A religious should have no treasure but God.

As in all the chapters of his book, St. Alphonsus concludes with a prayer, which begins “My Jesus in Thee I find all things, out of Thee I desire nothing. Ah! Draw me entirely to Thee: enkindle in my heart Thy holy love, by which I desire to see myself entirely consumed.” He always closes the prayer with some invocation to Mary. “Mary, my mother, in thy intercession, my hopes are placed.”

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Sunday, January 5, 2020

Padre Pio and Luisa Piccarreta

Two of the greatest mystics of the past century have been St. Pio of Pietrelcina, and Luisa Piccarreta. The four books of Padre Pio's letters astonish readers for their spiritual wisdom and depth, as well as practical advice. The thirty-six books of Luisa Piccarreta's revelations, and her other works, continue to be mined by both clergy and laity alike who wish a deeper understanding of the Divine Will of God. 
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Although Luisa and Padre Pio knew about and esteemed one another, it is not certain just how or when they became aware of each other, since there is no record that they ever met in person, at least not by natural means. They were contemporaries, and spent their lives in the same province of Puglia, or Apulia, in the southeast of Italy along the Adriatic Coast. They lived most of their lives only about 50 miles apart, with Luisa confined to her bed in Corato, and Padre Pio to his monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo. As word of the sanctity of each spread among the pious Catholics of the Italian South, it seems inevitable that they would have been told about each other from among the many visitors that besieged them.
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I have researched as thoroughly as possible all the available facts, stories and information that I have been able to find regarding the relationship between these two amazing mystics, Padre Pio and Luisa Piccarreta. I would like to use the word "saints" for both, and I join with many in praying that this new year will see the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta declared Venerable by the Church, if not Beatified.

To read the surprising story about their spiritual friendship, please click Here.