Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 177.



§ II. Of some other Effects that are wrought by the Holy Ghost in the Soul of a justified Man, and of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, —

Notwithstanding those effects which are produced by the Holy Ghost in the soul of one that is sanctified are very great, yet they do not end there. This divine Spirit deems it not enough to put us in the way of justice, but, after having led us in, still helps us forward till all the storms of this world being weathered, he brings us into the haven of salvation; so that, when he has entered into a soul by the grace of justification, he does not remain idle there; he not only honors such a soul with his presence, but also sanctifies it with his virtue, doing in it and with it whatever is necessary for the obtaining its salvation. He behaves himself there like a head of a family in his house, looking after and directing like a master teaching in his school, like a gardener cultivating in his garden, and like a king in his kingdom ruling and governing it. He further performs in the soul what the sun does in the world; that is, he gives light to it: and, like the soul in the body, animates and enlivens it, though he does not act as the former does upon its matter, but as the head of a family in his house. Can man desire any greater happiness in this world than to have such a Guest, such a Guardian, such a Companion, such a Governor, such a Tutor, and such an Assistant within himself; for he being all things, exercises all capacities in the soul, in which he takes his habitation: thus we see, that, like fire, he enlightens the understanding, inflames the will, and raises us from earth to heaven. It is he who, like a dove, makes us simple, peaceable, gentle and kind to one another: he it is who, like a cloud, defends us against the burning lusts of the flesh, who moderates the heat of our passions, and, in fine, like a violent wind, forces and bends down our wills toward that which is good, and carries them away from all such affections as may lead to evil. Hence it is, that they who are justified conceive such a horror of the vices they had so great a love for before their conversion, and so great an esteem for the virtues they so much detested before. This David very lively represents to us, speaking of himself in one of his Psalms, where, he says, " I hated and abhorred iniquity (Ps. cxix. 163);" and again, in the same Psalm, " I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches;" ver 14, Who was it but the Holy Ghost, that occasioned this alteration? for he, like a loving mother, put wormwood upon the breasts of this world, and most delicious honey into the commandments of God.

This plainly shows, that whatsoever good we do, what progress whatsover we make, we are entirely obliged to the Holy Ghost, for the same. So that, if we are converted from sin, it is by his grace; if we embrace virtue, it is he that brings us to it; if we persevere in it, it is by his assistance; if, in short, we one day receive the reward he has promised, it is he himself that gives it us: for which reason St. Augustine says very well, "God rewards his own benefits when he rewards our services." So that one favor procures us another, and one mercy is only a step to the obtaining of another. The holy patriarch Joseph (Gen. xlii. 25) thought it not enough to give his brothers the corn they went to buy in Egypt, but ordered his servants to put the money they brought to pay for it into the mouth of the very sack: God in some measure does the same with his elect, for he gives them not only eternal life, but* grace and a good life to purchase it. Whereupon Eusebius Emissenus says excellently well, "that he who is adored, to the end that he may show mercy, has showed mercy already, when he gave us grace to adore him."

Let every man, therefore, consider how he has spent his life, and reflect upon all those favors God has bestowed on him, and on all those crimes, these frauds, adulteries, thefts and sacrileges, which he has preserved him from falling into, and by this means he will see upon what accounts he stands indebted to him; because, according to St. Augustine, it is no less mercy to preserve us from falling into sin, than to pardon it when committed, at much greater; and, therefore, the same saint writing to a virgin, says, "Man is to make account, that God has pardoned him all sorts of sin, inasmuch as he has given him grace not to commit them;" Lib. 2. Conf. c. 7. Let not, therefore, your love be little, as if he had pardoned you but little; rather endeavor to love much, because you have received much. For if a man loves a creditor that forgives a great debt, how much more reason has he to love a Benefactor that bestows so much on him ? For he who has lived chastely all his lifetime, has, therefore, continued so, because he had God to direct and guide him; he who, of an impure person, becomes pure, has had God to correct him; and he who continues impure to the end, is justly forsaken by Almighty God, This being a matter beyond all doubt, it only remains that we say, with the prophet, "Let my mouth be filled with praise, that I may sing thy glory and honor all day;" Ps. lxx. 8. Upon which words St. Augustine says, " What means all the day ? Nothing else, but that I will praise thee for ever, and without ceasing; in my prosperity, because thou comfortest me; in my adversity, because thou chastisest me; since I have had my being, because it is from thee that I have received it; when I sinned, because thou forgavest; when I return to thee, because thou receivedst me; and when I persevered to the end, because thou rewardest me. For this reason my mouth shall be filled with thy praise, O Lord, and I will sing thy glory all the day."

It would be proper here to speak of the benefit of the sacraments, which are the instruments of our justification, and particularly of that of baptism, as also of the light of faith, and of the grace we receive with it; but having treated this subject elsewhere, I shall add no more at present; yet I cannot pass in silence that grace of graces, that sacrament of sacraments, by virtue of which God is pleased to live with us on earth, to give himself every day to us as our food and as our sovereign remedy. He was sacrificed on the cross but once for our sakes; but here he is daily offered up to his Father on the altar, a propitiation for our sins. " This is my body which is given for you," says he; " do this for a commemoration of me; " Luke xxii. 19. O precious pledge of our salvation! O divine sacrifice! O most acceptable victim! Bread of life! Most delicious nourishment! Food of kings! O sweet manna, which contains whatsoever is pleasant and delightful! Who can ever be able to praise you according to your deserts? who can worthily receive ? who can honor you with due respect and reverence? My soul quite loses itself, when it thinks of you; my tongue fails me; nor am I able to express the least part of your wonders as I desire to do.

Had our Lord bestowed this favor upon none but innocent and holy men, it would have still been inestimable; how great, then, must this unparalleled charity be, which, after having moved him to communicate himself so freely to those, has further prevailed on him to pass through the impure hands of many wicked priests, whose souls are the habitations of devils, whose bodies are vessels of corruption, whose lives are continual sacrileges, and spent in nothing else but in sin and iniquity? And yet, that he may visit and comfort his friends, he suffers himself to be touched by such polluted hands, to be received into such profane mouths, and to be buried in their noisome and abominable breasts. His body was sold but once; but in this sacrament he is sold a thousand times. He was scorned and despised but once in his passion ; whereas these impious priests offer him infinite affronts and injuries at the very table of the altar. He was once crucified between two thieves; but here he is) crucified millions of times in the hands of sinners.

Who is there that will pretend, after all this, to be able to pay due respect and honor to a Lord that has consulted our interest so many several ways ? What returns can we make for so wonderful a nourishment ? If servants serve their masters for a poor livelihood, if soldiers for their pay expose themselves to fire and sword, what ought we to do for this Lord, who maintains us with this heavenly and immortal food ? If God, in the old law, required so great an acknowledgment for the manna he sent from heaven, though it was corruptible food, what returns will he expect for this, which, besides being exempt from corruption, makes all those who receive it worthily incorruptible? If the Son of God thanks his Father, in the gospel, for only one meal of barley-bread, what kinds of thanks should we give him for this bread of life ? If we are so much indebted to him for the nourishment he gives us to preserve our being, how much greater is our obligation for that food which preserves in us the supernatural being of grace ? For we do not commend a horse purely because he is a horse, but because he is a good horse; nor wine because it is wine, but because it is good wine; nor man because he is man, but because he is a good man. If you are so much obliged to him that made you man, how much greater is your obligation for having made you a good man? If the acknowledgment be so great on account of corporal benefits, what should it be for the spiritual? If you are so deeply indebted for the gifts of nature, how much more do we owe for those graces? And if, to conclude, his having made you a son of Adam, lays so strict a tie of gratitude on you, how much must you be obliged to him for having made you a son of God himself? For it is certainly true, as Eusebius Emissenus says, " That the day we are born to eternity is infinitely better than that which brought us forth to the toils and dangers of this world."

This, dear Christian, is another motive, and, as it were, a new chain added to the others, to bind your hearts the faster, and oblige you to the pursuit of virtue and service of this Lord.