Posted by: Thomas Richard | April 28, 2020

Three Essentials in the One Thing Necessary

In my last blog article, I listed three crucial deficiencies that I see in the Church today.  The Church is weakened in these very needful times, when we are called upon to be present to this falling world.   It is a time of growing need; the world may not realize it, but it is starving.  The world continues to deny and refuses to acknowledge the Truth about God and human nature, and our God-intended purpose for living, for our being human.  The world needs the authentic witness of God!  God IS!  God made us all, and for a purpose!  And the world, His creation, is chasing its own lifeless fantasies and doing so as if there were no accountability, and as if God were not even aware of our abandonment of faith, of hope, of holy love, of moral constraint, of moral responsibility, of moral virtue.  Much of the world today has severed ties indeed of morality itself, of rationality and reason itself, in these dark and ever-darkening days.

The world is in every way but literally, burning, and the Church is, in almost every way but literally, playing the fiddle to the tune of “status quo.”  But friends, this is no time for “business as usual”; this is the time to hear God’s call to us.  This is the time for His Church to awaken.

I wrote briefly in my previous blog article, of three qualities of devotion that must be within faithful souls, in a dynamic church or parish.  And these three are sadly missing among many – many – in our churches and parishes today.  In this article, I hope to gather these three spiritual qualities into the one spiritual life that, I insist, is lacking in our time.  The three that I wrote of are these:

  • Authentic, sincere, heart-felt devotion to our Blessed Mother Mary.
  • Humble reverence for, knowledge of, and devotion to the Word of God, Holy Scripture.
  • The embraced Personal Presence of the Holy Spirit in prayer, in works, in faith, in life.

The one necessary reality that includes these three necessary qualities is the interior life of grace.  We need a vibrant interior functioning spiritual life within us – and this is more than just a heart and soul hungering for something not to be found in this world, it is more than merely a spiritual inclination within that seeks to avoid displeasing God in any significant way.  We need the spiritual center in us to be alive with the life and the love of God Himself.  We need the Holy Spirit moving in us – and only that Spirit in us, moving us in the will and desires of God.  This is no time for mediocrity.  This is no time for tepid souls and lukewarm hearts: we are called to holiness, and the perfection of holy charity.

I strongly recommend Card. Robert Sarah’s book The Day Is Now Far Spent, as a well-articulated clarion call to action for us all, laity and clergy: Catholics, awaken!  The good Cardinal sees very clearly the great danger in the world today, and the need for the Church to arise – to be Church.  He writes, in this book,

Without union with God, every attempt to strengthen the Church and the faith will be in vain. Without prayer, we will be clanging cymbals. We will … make a lot of noise and produce nothing but wind. Prayer must become our innermost respiration. It brings us face to face with God. Do we have some other purpose? Do we Christians, priests, bishops have some reason for existing other than to stand before God and to lead others to him?

It is time to teach this! It is time to put it into practice! The one who prays is saved, the one who does not pray is damned, Saint Alphonsus said. I want to insist on this point, because a church that does not have prayer as its most precious treasure is headed for ruin. … Priests in particular absolutely must have a soul of prayer. Without it, the most effective of social actions would become useless and even harmful. It would give us the illusion of serving God while we were only doing the work of the Evil One. This is not a matter of multiplying our devotions. It is a matter of being silent and adoring. It is a matter of getting on our knees. It is a matter of entering into the liturgy with fear and respect. It is God’s work. It is not a theater.

Yes, we need the interior life of grace – and its first and essential act within is prayer.  Prayer-communion with God is the first fruit of grace, and this fruit of true, living prayer-communion with God spiritually nurtures the soul within and brings forth the active devotions that manifest His life: authentic loving devotion to Mary our mother, the habit of resting – abiding – in His words of Holy Scripture, and an on-going, ever-growing bond of union with God in the Holy Spirit.  He is become, as promised, our Counselor and Advocate, our Teacher and Friend who stands alongside and establishes us in an infinite Mystery: God the Holy Trinity, in the Fellowship of Christ, in the communion of saints.  The interior life of grace – the life of prayer – is eternal life unfolding like a flower fragrant in the warm sun of divine Truth.

The Church deserves this life I point to, and even more, God deserves it to be in us. Christ died to pour it out to us, for us, from His Cross.  Yet so many – so many laity, so many clergy, have stopped too soon and settled for much less!  Martha (Lk 10:38-42) was boldly impatient with her prayerful sister Mary, who was happy to sit at His feet and drink the living water of His holy words of truth.  The Lord advised her, no, dear Martha, busyness has clouded your sight – your sister here, listening, absorbing, embracing – she has chosen the better portion!  We need prayer.  We need to protect, and to grow, the precious life of grace given to us in Baptism.

This grace – a true participation in the divine life! – must be guarded, nurtured, nourished, cherished, tended as if it were the invaluable gift which it is.  It is a priceless treasure, indeed a supernatural endowment entrusted to us, for us, from the Cross.  Christ gave over everything for it, for us! Do we, like lazy and spoiled children unwilling to lift a finger if it is inconvenient, continue to take our rest while Jesus continues to call to us, “Awaken!”  The new Day is near; see – it approaches – the first glow of sunrise can be seen on the horizon.

Three qualities of the interior life of grace – let these be measuring rods for us.

  • Loving devotion to our mother Mary,
  • Attentive humble devotion to Truth of the Word: Holy Scripture,
  • Unshakable embrace of the promised Gift, the Holy Spirit.

The Lord has given us a Garden within – are we tending it?  Are we careful stewards of the true treasures, or intemperate children of the over-privileged, ever seeking more of the worthless, squandering time as the day draws near?  Let us pray for the Church: Awake!  The time for the sleepy and the unconcerned is over, the enemy is at the gates, he has already infiltrated the city, the faithful have long forgotten the danger he brings.

OK.  My talking is over (for now) – can we all hear from you?  On this subject of growing in the life of grace – the interior life – will you share with other readers, and with me, your thoughts and beliefs on this matter?  How are you growing, in the spiritual life, these days?  In particular, in your relationship with mother Mary, with Holy Scripture, with the life and gifts of the Holy Spirit – or with other important matters of life in Christ – how are you doing these days?  Are you striving for our common call to holiness?  And how is that going?


Responses

  1. Dear Thomas,

    Thanks for “following up” in this blog article, what you had begun to share previously about the “three deficiencies”. Today as I read your new article it seemed I had been thinking along similar lines — that is — the three essentials of: Loving devotion to our Mother Mary, Attentive devotion to the Truth of Holy Scripture and Unshakable embrace of the Gift of the Holy Spirit all work together by God’s Grace, as we grow in our interior life.

    The more we open our hearts to receive God’s grace, the more we find He offers us more. Mary was given to us by Jesus from His Cross and Holy Scripture leads us to know her and through her to know Jesus more. The Holy Spirit continues to bring us into all truth as Promised.

    Thanks again for reminding us to “Awake” from whatever keeps us from God who has shared His Life with us in Baptism and continues to work all things for good in our lives!

    • Dear Deborah,
      Thank you as always for your insightful thoughts. I want to echo one comment of yours in particular: “The more we open our hearts to receive God’s grace, the more we find He offers us more.“. This truth – oh! if only more people knew this, believed this, realized this in the light of our vocation to holiness! The path we are to walk – climbing, always, on the ascent – is one of growth, of growing in the life of grace. And every step of ascent, hard though it may be, calls forth from God’s love and mercy more grace for us! He is so present to us, helping us. He is present Personally, and He is present in the person of our mother in Christ, and all the saints, but most of all, our mother Mary in her Immaculate and maternal Heart.

  2. Dear Thomas, awesome blog. I agree strongly that we as the laity, must step up, as Luke warmness is in itself evil and currently in epidemic proportions of those left still coming to mass. Pope Leo Xlll stated all Catholics are born for battle and that we must fight this spiritual battle raging as it never has, as the wolves have breeched the walls and the flock has scattered. As to my battle plan, daily Rosary via Legion of Mary standards, daily reading and reflection of holy scripture, and lately a Devine Mercy just for good measure.. Pray for the Bride of Christ, as this looks like Satans last stand and pray for the day Holy Mary’s heel will crush the head of the serpent forever………….cc

    • Dear Charles,

      Thanks so much for your reply. We are all called to holiness, and yet you have rightly said: we the the laity must step up” . We all need to remember the words you quoted from Pope Leo XIII: “Catholics are born for battle…” All of us: Priests, Deacons, Religious Brothers and Sisters as well as lay men, women, and children, married or single The Family of God is being attacked and too many seem to be either unaware or uninterested.

      God has given you the grace to a member of the Legion of Mary, and so you are well-acquainted with our Mother Mary who is fair as the moon, bright as the sun and terrible as an Army set in Battle array! Mary told the children at Fatima, “In the end my Immaculate Heart will Triumph”. We know that Jesus came through Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit the first time, so we can be confident He will come at the end to triumph through the Mother He gave us from His Cross!

    • Hello, Charles – it certainly is a battle, and it requires us to be on both the offense and the defense. And the enemy can be found acting through others, and infiltrating us as well. Seeking to defeat the enemy within our own souls, I find Mother Mary, along with the abiding Holy Spirit, essential to our battle against temptation, and for holiness. “Through the Immaculate Heart of Mary” I find great assistance on the ascent to the holiness of our vocation.

  3. Hello Thomas and Deborah,
    Dear Deborah, so nice to remember you.

    It’s a joy to read your blog and hear your call to action. It has a deliberate and desperate tone. I concur fully and want to make the same sounds but feel pretty inadequate at my age (77) and state in life. We live in a Protestant retirement community (there are nine practicing Catholics, most of which don’t get out). It’s not comfortable for me, but I’m continually asking the Holy Spirit to show me how and where I can make a Catholic difference. He’s working with me and my new Protestant friends.
    Even in the best of pre-COVID-19, we only have a priest here for Mass once a year. My experience in general is that today’s Catholics are not well catechized and in no position to defend the Faith if called to. Here in the building the Protestants are the same – good people but not devout in their faith. I don’t see alarm about our religion, no concern that we must try harder, pray more, read/study, learn and teach the Faith.
    I’m reading Bishop Athanatius Schnider’s “Christus Vincit.”
    He expresses much of your concern. He calls it at one point in the book a lack of the supernatural. Too many meetings, committees, things to do in the parish…..all the while with the loss of the supernatural…prayer. In that same vein, I’m pushing sanctifying grace, (and free will) anytime I have a chance. Also the indwelling of the Holy Trinity. Most Catholics are either unaware or don’t consider these Catholic teachings as the great gifts they are. Lots of undercatechized folks in today’s church and no urgency to correct that.
    Sweetheart of Mary, be my salvation. Sweetheart of Jesus, be my love. They are old little ejaculations I always felt should have been reversed. Still, they are my fervent prayers. St. Louis de Montfort (today’s saint) tells us plainly Our Lady will see us through this, the Islamic problem and all else. He urges us to be latter day saints. Thank you, Thomas, for your sanctity and
    your exceeding love of the Lord. Keep writing. I’ll keep praying.

    In the Two Hearts,
    A

    • Dear Ann,

      So good to hear from you again! God has given you grace to do as you wrote: “I’m continually asking the Holy Spirit to show me how and where I can make a Catholic difference. He’s working with me and my new Protestant friends.” Jesus told His disciples the night before He died: “Without me you can do nothing” and to help them further He promised to send the Holy Spirit to bring them (and us) into the complete Truth”.

      How we all need to keep praying to Jesus through Mary and pondering with Mary all Jesus said and did — we need to pray of the Holy Spirit to hear the Truth of Jesus. The Indwelling of the Holy Trinity that began at our Baptism has not been taught well nor have many other gifts, as you pointed out; but “prayer changes things”. St. Louis de Montfort has been a special blessing to me, sharing God’s Wisdom with the Church for centuries. His treatise on “True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin” continues to bless all who read it. Thanks, dear Ann for your reply.

    • Hello Ann,
      It is so good to hear from you again. Thank you for sharing your life and experiences these days. I groan to think of living so immersed in a non-Catholic environment – it must be very hard. But then again, it is heart-breaking to find so many Catholics, in so many parishes around the country, lukewarm, unconcerned, too “busy” to participate in the few opportunities for sold, profound formation win the Faith. Little is offered, little is available, little is sought, little is found. And that seems to bother very few. BUT – I know – and I understand – that He is not surprised by this. Jesus our Lord knows very well the cost for the will of the Father to be realized. So Praise the Lord, and work while we can, and do what we can. He knows it all.

  4. I would add a fourth quality :Penance Penance Penance !!

    • Dear Patrick,

      Thanks for your thoughtful, and prayerful reply. Of course, as a true son of Mary, I was not surprised you would remember especially those words Mary gave to little St. Bernadette at Lourdes: “Penance, Penance, Penance!”

      How truly loving and wise our Mother Mary is! In all her apparitions she warns us and yet encourages us, for she knows how much God loves us — Mary lived with Him, listened to all He said, and stood at the foot of His Cross watching Him empty Himself completely — dying for us and for the forgiveness of our sins.

      By God’s Grace, may we also remember the words of another little saint — St. Therese of Lisieux who wrote: “Love is the willingness to sacrifice!”

    • Thank you, Patrick, for your brief but deep, and weighty, comment. It brings back to mind, for me, thoughts and light on the ministry of reparation. I wrote a bit on that subject here, and here – thoughts that included this:

      Reparation is an invisible, spiritual work of repair, of restoration, of rebuilding, of cleansing and of renewal. Reparation is owed in justice, for the damages and insults of sin. Reparation is a work of sacrificial love, following the example of Jesus. Reparation is a silent and hidden apostolate, seeking and receiving no praise of men, trusting only in the Father who sees in secret and rewards in secret.

      Reparation is an apostolate open to all, and especially to the ordinary. The most common and ordinary of human works can be offered to God in a loving gesture of reparation, and are received in love. The most ordinary of persons, in the most ordinary of lives, can offer in prayer to God the most ordinary of moments – yet in the transforming power and light of love – unto holy reparation in union with the Cross of Jesus. There is no suffering that God permits to us too great or too small that we cannot unite with His holy sufferings on the Cross. Reparation is a work of love, our common vocation. Reparation is a fruit of prayer along the ordinary path to holiness, our universal call.

      Our sufferings – bought through this corona virus but not apart from the hand of God – can have a healing effect in the world. The sufferings of Jesus on His Cross show us, in faith, the healing power of suffering received in the holiness and purity of love, sufferings received for the healing of another or many others – indeed, for the whole world. Yes Penance! Received and offered for the good of others, for the Church, for the whole world, for those most in need of divine mercy.

      Thank you for reminding us….

  5. Hello Thomas, beautiful blog as always. You wrote; ” The time for the sleepy and the unconcerned is over, the enemy is at the gates, he has already infiltrated the city, the faithful have long forgotten the danger he brings.” That one sentence should slap everybody awake!! The enemy has entered the city…the church!!! We must keep our eyes on Jesus and Mary and away from things of the world. This is the perfect time to do that….we are all stuck at home. It’s the perfect time to pray, study scripture, be better Catholics. I am striving to practice what I “preach”

    I am trying to learn as much about Our Blessed Mother as I can. I read
    “True Devotion”, pray the Rosary everyday, read whatever I can to learn more.

    • Dear Susan,

      Thanks so much for another of your “Faith – Full” replies. Yes, Thomas expressed it well in his words: ”The time for the sleepy and the unconcerned is over, the enemy is at the gates, he has already infiltrated the city, the faithful have long forgotten the danger he brings.”

      And yes, you also have seen the truth — the designated city is – “The Church”. St. Augustine wrote that there are two cities being built: The City of God and the city of man. The City of God is built by those who love God to the contempt of self while the city of man is built by those who love self, to the contempt of God. Are many aware of the choice?

      Thanks for loving our Mother Mary so much, Susan, for she is much neglected along with her Son these days. “True Devotion helped many modern saints: Pope St. John Paul II chose his Papal Motto (“Totus tuus” – “All Yours”) from St. Louis de Montfort. St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta also recommended that book to her Missionaries of Charity. May we all keep praying the Rosary with attention and devotion, for Mary asked us to pray it daily, knowing it will help us grow closer to Jesus and remain in Him as Mary did on earth and does in heaven.

    • Hello Susan – thank you for your comment, and for your response to the “distancing” and quiet solitude we are being offered. Imposed desert time is a strong word from the Lord – sort of a “time out” for the child. The parent says: “I want you to go to your room and take some time to really think about what you have done. And then we can talk about it.” Except the Lord said it, to the whole world. And some are listening – to Him, to the condition of human culture today, and most especially to culture of the Church. Some are listening. I hope, and pray, some are hearing. And are ready to listen anew to our God – Father Son and Spirit – teach us what we need to do.

  6. Dear Thomas:
    Your blogs should give us all strength as always, but particularly at this time. Out of this terrible time, more people seem to be turning to Mary, maybe finally realizing what she has been trying to tell us with her appearances since the time of Fatima. By saying the rosary daily, we can help her crush the head of the evil one. I am happy to see St. Peter’s offering up the rosary each day. I only hope the Church continues to stress her importance if & when this pandemic should end. She is the Church & we would not exist without her. I hope our Church leaders : the pope, cardinals, bishops, & priests will treat her with the respect & devotion she deserves.

    • Hello Janet – thank you for your comment. I especially resonate with your hope, ” I only hope the Church continues to stress her importance if & when this pandemic should end.” Mary ought not be a “last resort” in emergencies, but a continuing, remaining and necessary part of the Faith – of our faith. On the path of our calling – to holiness and the perfection of charity – we need her maternal nurturing of the new life within us. We need our spiritual mother, lest we fall back and return to the “old man” (or woman) we have been called to leave behind.

    • Dear Janet,

      Thanks so much for your comment today and for all the comments you’ve sent before this one. It is always a blessing to hear from you, and others the heartfelt thoughts and desires, God gives each one by His Grace. As one member of His Body grows in holiness, we all grow.

      Mary gives the perfect Model for the Church as you said, in a true sense, “Mary is the Church”. Pope Benedict XVI’s book title: “Mary the Church at the Source” speaks that same message to us. Jesus’ Words to John His Beloved Disciple as John stood with Mary at the foot of His Cross: “Behold Your Mother” needs to resound in the heart of every member of His Mystical Body.

      Thanks for loving Jesus through Mary, and helping others to love her more!


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