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The Epistle appointed to be read during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass today is taken from the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Romans, Chapter 8, Verses 12 to 17.
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live.
For whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear; but you have received the spirit of adoption of Sons, whereby we cry:
Abba (Father).For the Spirit Himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the Sons of God. And if Sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him.
Please stand for the Holy Gospel.
The Gospel appointed to be read during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass today is taken from the Holy Gospel of Saint Luke, Chapter 16, Verses 1 to 9.
At that time Jesus said to His Apostles:
There was a certain rich man who had a steward: and the same was accused unto him, that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said to him:
How is it that I hear this of thee? Give an account of thy stewardship: for now thou canst be steward no longer.And the steward said within himself:
What shall I do, because my lord taketh away from me the stewardship? To dig I am not able; to beg I am ashamed. I know what I will do, that when I shall be removed from the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.Therefore calling together every one of his lord's debtors, he said to the first:
How much dost thou owe my lord?But he said:
An hundred barrels of oil.And he said to him:
Take thy bill and sit down quickly, and write fifty.Then he said to another:
And how much dost thou owe?Who said:
An hundred quarters of wheat.He said to him:
Take thy bill, and write eighty.And the lord commended the unjust steward, forasmuch as he had done wisely: for the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.
And I say to you: Make unto you friends of the mammon of iniquity; that when you shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting dwellings.
Thus far are the words of today's Holy Gospel.
In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen.
The Parish Pastor, a Right Reverend Monsignor, always began every Sermon differently, but always ended it the same way by quoting this passage from today’s Gospel of Saint Luke.
As a concerned Pastor, trying to help his parishioners to save their immortal Souls, he would remind them that, when they died, they would hear Jesus Christ, the Just Judge, say to them:
“Give an account of thy stewardship: for now thou canst be steward no longer”.What was true then is still true today and will remain true until the very last person comes to judgement before the Just Judge.
If Saint John, the Beloved Apostle of Christ, fell to the ground because he was so overwhelmed by the brilliant, blinding light from only the Throne of White Light upon which Christ sits, how much more so overwhelming is the Just Judge Himself, Whose blazing light of Divine Justice will truly humble even the proud Satanic beast, anti-Christ, not to mention all of the other anti-Christs who are also very evil such as Stalin and Hitler, of recent memory, not to mention those who followed them and carried out their diabolical orders upon poor, innocent, helpless people, e.g. the over 8 million Catholic Ukrainians who starved to death because of the policies of the butcher Stalin, and of whom some sources claim that Stalin bragged about killing over 50 million people!
Today’s Gospel verse clearly echoes the wise counsel of God the Holy Ghost as it is found in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiasticus where He tells all of us:
“In all thy works remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin.” (Ecclesiasticus 7:40.)These two verses are known as the “Motivation of Eternal Punishment”.
What does this mean?
It means that when you are tempted, pause for a moment to reflect that when you die you will be judged by Jesus Christ, the Just Judge, Who sits upon His Throne of blazing White Light in the blinding brightness of the Glory of His Divinity.
During your time of reflection, consider how wise and prudent it would be for you to choose the practice of Virtue instead of giving in to the temptation, whether it is from the world, the flesh, or the Devil.
Also, humbly and meekly ask the good God and Our Blessed Mother for their immediate help to banish your temptation(s). In this way, you can know that help is on the way for you to overcome the temptation. In addition, your Immortal Soul, destined for an eternity of happiness with God in Heaven, will actually elevate to a slightly higher level in the Spiritual Life.
Plus, every time you overcome a temptation, you become Spiritually stronger!
God permits each and everyone of us to be tempted because each of us needs to exercise our Spiritual muscles, so to speak, in the Spiritual gym of temptation, of anxiety, of fear, of worry, of distress, of misery, of pain, of anguish, of woe, of affliction, and of negativity in order to become stronger by overcoming these things by the Grace of God.
Consider how popular weight-resistant training has become for the physical body so that the muscles of the body function better and at their greater potential. TV infomercials abound with all kinds of exercise routines and exercise machines that this famous person or that fitness expert demonstrates and tries to sell to people concerned about “getting into shape” or “staying in shape”.
Yet is not one’s immortal soul of greater value than the body which came from dust and which will one day return to dust? In other words, is not temptation-resistant training ultimately of much greater benefit to each of us than is weight-resistant training?
One former member of the military applied his orderly, regimented, and disciplined military training to the Spiritual Life when he founded a Religious Order some centuries ago and, in effect, established an unique School of Spirituality.
Although he wrote down his method of Spirituality for the members of his Religious Order to follow, various Religious Congregations of men and women, as well as the Laity, have also found profit in his “Spiritual Exercises” which has been described by Father Garrigou-Lagrange as:
“a method to reform and transform the Soul by conforming it to the Divine Model.” (Reverend Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. [b. Auch, France 1877 A.D. - d. Rome, Italy, 1964 A.D.], who taught dogmatic and Spiritual theology for 53 years at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Angelicum, in Rome, The Three Ages of the Interior Life, Prelude of Eternal Life, Translated by Sister M. Timothea Doyle, O.P., Volume I, Part 1 - The Sources of the Interior Life and Its End, Chapter 16: Spiritual Reading of Scripture, of the Works and Lives of the Saints, The Spiritual Works of the Saints, Footnote # 27, p. 251.)By the Most Holy Will and Grace of God, many, many decades ago, We were directed to a pre-Vatican 2 Traditional Roman Catholic Seminary that made a wise and prudent use of his School of Spirituality, most especially of his “Spiritual Exercises” which were consistently used, not only for the monthly Day of Recollection, but also for both of our semi-annual Retreats.
It was like a whole new world opened up for Us concerning the real living of the Spiritual Life in a very realistic, practical, logical, and orderly way which left aside theory and focused instead about getting immediate results without having to spend as much time as I had in the past in the Spiritual gym of temptation, anxiety, etc.
Like a breath of fresh air were his wise counsels in his “Spiritual Exercises” dutifully read on the prescribed Days of Recollection and Spiritual Retreats, as well as for timely Spiritual Reading that the Religious Superior judged necessary for the entire community.
So, how did this canonized Saint apply the lessons from today’s Gospel verse?
On this subject, Saint Ignatius De Loyola, S.J. wrote two so-called “rules”:
“Third Rule. The third, to consider, as if I were at the point of death, the form and measure which I would then want to have kept in the way of the present election [choice], and regulating myself by that election [choice], let me make my decision in everything.”Both rules of conduct can be summed up as making the decision to do now what, on your day of judgement, you will then have wished that you had done now. In this way one is motivated to banish temptations and to avoid committing sin.
“Fourth Rule. The fourth, looking and considering how I shall find myself on the Day of Judgment, to think how I would then want to have deliberated about the present matter, and to take now the rule [i.e. the decision] which I would then wish to have kept, in order that I may then find myself in entire pleasure and joy.” (Saint Ignatius De Loyola, S.J. [b. Loyola Castle, Guipuzcoa, Spain in 1491 A.D. - d. Rome, Italy in 1556 A.D.], The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Translated from the Autograph by Father Elder Mullan, S.J., Imprimatur, John Cardinal Farley, Archiepiscopus Neo-Eboracensis, Neo-Eboraci, Die 25 Aprilis, 1914, publisher P.J. Kenedy & Sons; Second Week, The Second Way to Make a Good and Sound Election, Third and Fourth Rules; emphasis added).
One of the members of his Religious Order wrote a book, in three volumes, for the members of his Religious Order. In his first volume this Religious explains not only how you can become one of God's favorities, but at the same time, gain the necessary additional Graces necessary to overcome every temptation!
We can still remember how excited We were to learn these two secrets the very first time We read them. We hope and pray that each of you will experience the same level of excitement We experience every time We re-read the following:
PRACTICE OF PERFECTION AND CHRISTIAN VIRTUES
By Father Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J.,
a.k.a. Alonso Rodriguez, S.J.
[b. at Valladolid, Spain, in 1526 A.D. -
d. at Seville, Spain on Sunday, February 21, 1616 A.D.]
Newly Translated from the Original Spanish
By Joseph Rickaby, S.J.
In Three Volumes
Another Weighty Reason for Setting Great Store by Little Things
1. Another considerable reason why we should make account of little things is that, if we are careless and negligent in little things and take small heed thereof, it is to be feared that God will refuse us His particular and special aids and Graces of which we stand in need to resist temptations and not fall into sin and to obtain the virtue and perfection which we desire; and so we come to great harm.
2. The better to understand this, we must presuppose a very good piece of theology taught us by Saint Paul when writing to the Corinthians--that God our Lord never refused to anyone that supernatural assistance and succor whereby, if he will, he will not be overcome by temptation but be able to resist and come out victorious. God is faithful, Who will not permit you to be tempted above your strength, but will give you such aid in temptation as that you may be able to suffer it with advantage (1 Corinthians 10:13). God is faithful, say the Apostle; you may rest assured that He will not permit you to be tempted more than you are able to bear; and if He adds more trials and there come greater temptations, He will also add more succor and bounty that you may be able to come out of them, not only without loss, but with much profit and increase of good. But there is another aid and succor of God more special and particular. Man could resist and overcome temptation without this special aid if he availed himself as he ought of the first supernatural assistance, which is more general. But, oftentimes, with that first aid man will not resist temptation unless God give him that other aid more particular and special. Not that he could not, but that he will not; for if he willed, he might well resist with that first aid, since it is sufficient for the purpose if he would make the use of it that he ought. In that case his falling and being overcome by temptation will be his own fault, since it will be by his own will. And if God gave him then that other special assistance, he would not fall.
3. But to come to our point. This second aid and special superabundant and efficacious succor is not given by God to all, nor on all occasions, since it is a liberality and a most particular Grace of His own bestowal; and so God will give it to whom He pleases; He will give it to those who have been liberal with Him. So the Prophet says: With the holy, Lord, Thou wilt be holy; and with the benign, benign; and with the liberal and sincere, Thou wilt be sincere and liberal; and with him that shall not be such, Thou wilt pay him in the same coin (Psalm 17:26-27). This is what our Father [Saint Ignatius] puts in his Rules: “The closer one shall bind himself to God our Lord, and the more liberal he shall show himself to His Divine Majesty, the more liberal he will find God to him; and the better shall he be disposed to receive every day greater Graces and Spiritual Gifts.” This is the doctrine of Saint Gregory Nazianzen and other Saints.
4. What it is to be liberal to God may be well understood from what it is to be liberal to men. In this world to be liberal to another is to give him, not his due and bonded right, but more than his due and bonded right. That is liberality; the other is not liberality, but justice and obligation. Now in the same manner, he who is very careful and diligent to please God, not only in matters of obligation, but also in those of supererogation and perfection, and not only in greater, but also in lesser things, he is liberal to God. Now to them that are thus liberal, God also is very liberal. These are God’s favorites to whom He shows His bounties; to these He gives not only those general aids which are sufficient to resist and overcome temptations, but also those special and superabundant and efficacious aids wherewith they will nowise fall when they are tempted.
5. But if you are not liberal to God, how can you expect God to be liberal to you? If you are niggardly with God, you deserve that God should be niggardly with you. If you are so mean and close as to go sounding and measuring as with rule and compass--“Am I bound or not bound? Am I bound under sin or not bound under sin? Does it amount to a mortal sin or to no more than a venial?” --all this is being niggardly with God, since you want to give Him no more than you are obliged, and even in that possibly you fail. God then will be niggardly with you and give you no more than He is obliged by His word; He will give you those general and necessary aids which He gives to all, which are enough and sufficient to enable you to resist temptations and not fall in them; but you will have much reason to fear that He will not give you that special superabundant and efficacious aid which He is wont to give to such as are liberal to Him; and so you will come to be vanquished by temptation and fall into sin.
6. This is what theologians and saints commonly say, that one sin is often the punishment of another sin. That is to be understood in this way, that by the first sin a man loses, as punishment of his sin, all claim to that special and particular aid of God, and renders himself unworthy of it; and so he comes to fall into a second sin. They say the same of venial sins, and further of faults and negligences and general carelessness of life; for this also they say that a man may lose all claim and render himself unworthy of that special and efficacious assistance of God with which he will persevere and actually overcome temptation, and without which he will be overcome and fall into sin. So some saints explain the words of the Wise Man: He that despiseth small things, shall fall little by little (Ecclus. 19:1). By despising small things and making little account of them one comes to render oneself unworthy of that special assistance of God, and so one comes to fall into great faults. In like manner is to be understood the saying of the Apocalypse (3:16): Because thou art tepid, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth. God has not yet vomited and thrown up entirely the tepid man, but He has begun to vomit and throw him up because by this negligence in which he lives, and these faults which he commits with advertence and of set purpose, he goes the way to make himself undeserving of that special and efficacious aid without which he will fall; and God will end by vomiting and throwing him up.
7. Let us consider how much reason we have to fear lest we should lose all claim and render ourselves unworthy of this special aid of God through our tepidity and sloth. How often do we see ourselves assailed with temptations and in great danger, and many times we find ourselves in doubt--“Did I dwell on it or not? Did I consent or not? Did it amount to a sin or not?” Oh, how well it would be worth our while for those critical moments to have been liberal to God and so made ourselves worthy of that special and liberal aid of Grace whereby we should be quite secure of always keeping our footing, and without which we shall be in great danger and possibly be overcome!
8. Saint [John] Chrysostom assigns this means as one of the chief that we have for overcoming temptations. Speaking of the devil, our enemy, and of the continual war that he wages against us, he says: “You know well, my brethren, that we have in the devil a perpetual enemy who is always making war upon us, who never sleeps nor relaxes his efforts: you can have no truce with that cruel monster. So it is necessary always to be very wide-awake and very careful and watchful not to be overcome by him.” How, then, shall we stand on our guard and prepare ourselves well not to be overcome, but always to get the better of this traitor and keep him under? Do you know how? Saint Chrysostom says: “The only means to overcome him [i.e. the Devil] is to have gained beforehand this special assistance of God by our good life in the past. In this way we shall be always victorious, and in no other.” Notice the expression, “in no other”. Saint Basil makes the same observation in these words: “He who wishes to be helped by the Lord never ceases doing what lies with him to do. He who does this is never left destitute of the Divine assistance;” wherefore, he concludes: “We must make it our effort that our conscience shall not reproach us in anything.” A sound conclusion is that we must be very careful in our Spiritual Exercises and in all our works to be worthy of this special aid from Heaven.
9. Hence it will be seen how important it is to make much account of small things--if we can call those things small which bring us in so much good or so much harm. He who feareth God, neglecteth nothing (Eccles. 7:19), because he knows full well that out of small things neglected one comes little by little to fail in greater; and he fears that, if he ceases to be liberal with God in these things, God will cease to be liberal with him.
10. In conclusion, I say that this matter is so important, and we should make so much account of it, that we may take it as a general rule that, so long as a man makes much of little and minute things, all will go well, and the Lord will befriend him; and on the contrary, when he ceases to reckon much of little and minute things, he will incur great danger, because it is in this way that all evil enters into a religious. This Jesus Christ gives us to understand, saying: He that is faithful in what is little, will be faithful also in what is much; and he that is unfaithful and evil in what is little, will be the like in what is much (Luke 16:10). And therefore when one wishes to see how one is getting on in Spiritual progress--and it is reasonable that we should often make reflection thereupon--let him examine himself by this and see whether he makes account of little things or whether he is getting into free and easy ways by taking small heed of them; and if he sees that now he does not trouble himself about small matters, nor does his conscience reproach him thereon as it used to do, let him look for a remedy with all care. The devil, says Saint Basil, when he sees that he cannot drive us out of religion, applies all his powers to persuade us not to give ourselves to perfection, and not to make account of small matters, deceiving us by a false assurance that one does not lose God for that. But we, on the contrary, should make it our effort that as he cannot drive us out of religion, so neither shall he hinder our perfection; but we will apply ourselves thereto with all our strength, setting much store by little and minute things (emphasis added).
“It can neither profit me, the speaker, to speak, nor you, the hearers, to hear, unless we comply with the things which are spoken, ...so let us not limit the display of our zeal to hearing only, but let us observe what is said in our deeds. For it is indeed a good thing to spend time continually in hearing the Divine oracles: but this good thing becomes useless when the benefit to be derived from hearing is not linked with it.” (Patriarch Saint John Chrysostom [b. Antioch, c. 347 A.D. - d. at Commana in Pontus on Friday, September 14, 407 A.D.], Patriarch of Constantinople [Thursday, February 26, 398 A.D. - Thursday, June 24, 404 A.D.], exiled from his See the 2nd time on Thursday, June 24, 404 A.D., Father and Doctor of the Catholic Church. Sermon on Romans 12:20; emphasis added.)
For our resolutions, let all of us, by the Grace of God, firmly resolve to ask the good God and our Blessed Mother for the Graces each of us needs to immediately begin to implement these wise and prudent counsels in our own lives, especially as it concerns overcoming the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the Devil.
Although some psychologists claim that it takes anywhere from about 15 days to 45 days to make a habit, these basic rules of conduct are well worth the extra initial effort it will take to develop them, including getting into the habit of daily performing Acts of Supererogation which is how you can become one of God's favorites, remembering how Father Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J., along with some of the Fathers of the Catholic Church, teaches in part:
So the prophet says: With the holy, Lord, Thou wilt be holy; and with the benign, benign; and with the liberal and sincere, Thou wilt be sincere and liberal; and with him that shall not be such, Thou wilt pay him in the same coin (Psalm 17:26-27). This is what our Father [Saint Ignatius] puts in his Rules:Therefore, let all of us resolve, right now - by the Grace of God - to always do now what, on the day of our own particular judgment before Jesus Christ, the Just Judge, we would then wish that we had done now. In this way, none of us will need to fear how Christ will judge us when each of us hears Him demand:“The closer one shall bind himself to God our Lord, and the more liberal he shall show himself to His Divine Majesty, the more liberal he will find God to him; and the better shall he be disposed to receive every day greater graces and spiritual gifts.” This is the doctrine of Saint Gregory Nazianzen and other saints.What it is to be liberal to God may be well understood from what it is to be liberal to men. In this world to be liberal to another is to give him, not his due and bonded right, but more than his due and bonded right. That is liberality; the other is not liberality, but justice and obligation.
Now in the same manner, he who is very careful and diligent to please God, not only in matters of obligation, but also in those of supererogation and perfection, and not only in greater, but also in lesser things, he is liberal to God. Now to them that are thus liberal, God also is very liberal.
These are God’s favorites to whom He shows His bounties; to these He gives not only those general aids which are sufficient to resist and overcome temptations, but also those special and superabundant and efficacious aids wherewith they will nowise fall when they are tempted.
“Give an account of thy stewardship: for now thou canst be steward no longer.”Yes, it takes some effort at first to get into the habit of performing Acts of Supererogation, no matter how small. Remember the Little Way of Saint Theresa the Little Flower? She became a great Saint in part because she developed the little, simple, so easy habit of tiny acts of Supererogation. For example, when walking in her Convent, whenever she noticed a tiny piece of string which had fallen onto the floor from the Religious Habit of another Nun, who had been sewing in the sewing room, Saint Theresa merely bent over and picked up that tiny piece of string for the Love of God.
One example for the Laity would be when you are driving, but stopped in a line of traffic, to let another driver, who is trying to exit from a parking area, onto that busy street, pull out in front of your vehicle - provided that it will not cause anyone behind you to hit your vehicle and/or cause any other kind of an accident - use wisdom and prudence with this.
Another example is after you park in the parking lot of a retail store or a grocery story, to take but one empty shopping cart and push it into that store with you from the parking lot and use it, if necessary, for putting your own selections into that shopping cart before going to the check-out.
If you have a sprinkler system for your yard, simply make sure the water does not go onto to your neighbor's property.
Another is to avoid excessive volume of a TV, radio, etc., especially when it would disturb one's neighbors. The same holds true when driving - keep the volume as low as possible so as not to disturb others, whether they are in other vehicles, or walking on a sidewalk, or in a parking area, etc.
Likewise, keep one's pet on a leash when the pet is outside your residence and also try to prevent your dog(s) from barking if you have one or more dogs.
The point is to try to form the good habit known as performing Acts of Supererogation, no matter how small, for the love of God.
Ultimately, these Acts of Supererogation, no matter how small, will provide you with many Graces and Blessings, and also give you a favorable judgement after which you are ushered into Heaven - the eternal reward of those who perform the self-less Acts of Supererogation by which you became one of God's favorites, so that you will not fear, but will welcome with great joy, these words of the Just Judge, Jesus Christ, Who will say to those of you who have performed even the smallest Acts of Supererogation on an habitual basis:
“Give an account of thy stewardship: for now thou canst
be steward no longer.”